Chapter Twenty Six: Darkest Before Dusk
The dáógá, the nćmás and the dnćp (the Daugava, the Nemunas and the Dnieper) Rivers led to an explosion of the Prussian language, bisecting Europe from the Baltic to the Black Seas. Cosmopolitan Prussian, known also as Memel Prussian or in Prussian tirspróshje or grádpróshje (Clean Prussian and City Prussian), was the most commonly spoken form of the language. In 1255 there were five main dialects outside of Memel Prussian: Polish, Silesian, Bessarabian, Volgan, and Livonian. By the 1400's the Polish and Silesian dialects had merged leaving only four. Major linguistic differences between the dialects were mostly reversed after the spread of the printing press in the XV and XVI Centuries, but before then books and papers were copied by hand by priests who would write in their own tongue. Despite the existence of Eadbert's book, revised by Meinekinus, few copies existed in the hands of the lower and middle classes. In fact, the at any one time only twenty or so copies of the book coexisted. The large number of Prussian-speaking nobles, only made larger by the flight of Christian nobles from the West, meant that newly conquered regions were quickly put under Prussian leadership. This lead to the quick spread and diversification of the Prussian culture. The culture and language of Prussia remains a source of pride for the Prussian people.
Cultures Prussia circa 1257. In red are the Prussian Dialects: City Prussian in Burgundy; Bessarabian in the Darkest Red; Polish in the Lightest Red; Livonian centered in Estonia and Riga; and Volgan in the West; Silesian is not on the map as it didn't make up a majority, however it was co-spoken in the Green Slavic regions. In Green in the Slavic languages: Wendish, Polish, Czech.
August 13th, 1257
Kiten and Rasa walked hand in hand through a secluded wood outside of the palace in Kiev. Through the trees they watched the Dnieper River flow southward toward the Black Sea. In the middle of the river a boat passed a gaggle of geese. The boatmen looked over the railings and tossed little cuttings of bread out into the hungry mouths of their feathered friends. Kiev had grown a large river port, trading with the northern reaches of Prussia and the Mediterranean world. Turning away from the river and back toward the palace, the path was lit by columns of light descending from the tops of the trees.
"It must be hard not being married to the woman you love," Rasa lamented, smirking as Kiten's face flushed bright red. For little less than a year he had been married to Cecile, but continued to see Rasa as much as he could. The two of them already had a young daughter, hidden from the probing eyes of the court.
"It is, my love," he said quietly, pressing her close. They stopped walking by a large tree and took refuge in its shade among its roots. Rasa sat down on one of the massive roots and looked to Kiten as he fished two small pieces of fruit out of his bag. He handed her half of the bounty, which she accepted with a wink. "I love coming down to Kiev," he said, "The river is cool and calm, the skies a clear and the air crisp. Much better than Memelgrád and that constant fishy smell." He laughed. Rasa smiled and took a bite out of her lunch.
When she finished chewing, she laughed a nodded her head, "Yeah... and the cold springs... One thing your father did right: building a palace here." She waited briefly to see Kiten's reaction to the comment about his father, but when he smiled and nodded she chuckled before taking another bite. "What are you going to do as King?" she asked.
Kiten was surprised by her sudden seriousness. He lowered his lunch from his mouth and thought for a brief amount of time. "I don't know," he finally said, "I've never really put much thought into it. My father makes it seem like all he does is arbitrarily decide to do something from time to time... like his roads or now with him thinking of changing the merchant flag. It never really made sense to me. I thought the battle of Luckenwalde had made me hate war, but now I think I see it for what it is, and I think Prussia is worth defending, and so are her allies."
"So you think you are going to wage war, Kiten?"
"Not just that, but it seems that many times in our past we've let allies or potential allies be bombarded by our enemies so long as Prussia would stay at peace. That works in the short term, but not in the long term. We are going to need to go on the offensive... or at least the defensive," Kiten said. His thoughts were becoming clearer as he spoke, as if he was undergoing some revelation. "But there is one enemy above all others that I would like to defeat, even if just once."
"Who? The Caliph? Mordvia? Germany?" Rasa asked excitedly.
"No. The Romans. I want to burn Constantinople to the ground and then have the survivors literally dig the foundation up and have it thrown into the sea." Kiten said quietly like it was nothing.
Rasa was taken aback, she had never thought of the Romans as worthy of destruction or even an enemy. "Why?"
"Because they belittle us, Rasa. All the time, whenever I deal with them directly or indirectly they act as if Prussia is a tiny border state, populated by naked pagan barbarians. They act as if their language is better, as if their traditions are better, as if their history is richer, and as if their food is tastier. And I am sick of it, Rasa, sick and tired of playing second best to those lousy, inbred Romans and their damned fucking city. One day, I am going to invade the Roman Empire, I am going to scatter her armies and I am going to sack that damn city. Then Prussia will have its place in the sun as well."
"So that is your platform? Burning Constantinople to the ground?" she said with a laugh.
"Yes, yes it is, Rasa! Tasist!" The two smiled and giggled, but eventually things slowed down. Once their lunch was finished the stood up and started the final leg of their walk.
"Would you really sink the Queen of Cities?" Rasa asked.
"Only if she would not accept Memelgrád as her husband and King," Kiten answered within the metaphor. He liked that thought, the King of Cities. Memelgrád still had a long way to go. It was much more plain than Constantinople, but one day it could be far bigger and far more beautiful. Few could see it coming to pass, but Kiten wasn't a member of the crowd. It was a future he wanted so desperately to be true.
As they reached the palace Kiten placed a last kiss on Rasa's lips, "I will see you later. Take care of our little one," he said calmly. The two parted for the time being. Rasa watched as Kiten returned to his lie of a life within the Royal Court. She sighed, nothing was worse than watching him walk away time and time again. She walked away from the palace, heading toward the stables and her carriage. In the palace, from a window on the second floor, Kiten watched Rasa leave. The whole time his heart was sinking, but the act went on. The act went on.