Chapter Thirty One: The Snowy North
Kiten's war against the North was slow in paying off. The main goal was revenge, but control over Finland, Kola and Nemets also played a role. Norway, especially, had been trying to colonize this region in order to cut off Prussia as well as expand its own clout. Finland remained a point of confrontation between Prussia in the south and the Scandinavians in the north. For the pagans it meant one tribe could oust another if it could get a deal with either the Prussians or the Norse. Under the reign of King Karnak, however, Prussia stopped supporting pagan tribes and Norway quickly gained allies. But Finland wasn't about to join the Norse. Instead, when the Swedes tried to actually set up a foothold in Finland they were promptly removed by revolts. The 1305 war between Prussia and the Norse allowed Kiten to undo his father's mistake and regain allies as well as actually make real gains into Finland. Vishly would continue Kiten's progress, but the region once secured resumed being a low priority for Europe. The Muslims couldn't reach it and the Swedes and Norse were too scared to try to get back in the game. In time Finland would succumb to the Prussian monster. But Finland lucked out. It was late to join, so it would avoid Prussification before changes in the mid XIV Century would eventually leave it stronger than ever.
The Prussian Empire in 1306.
September 19th, 1306
Vishly was in the castle of Ziemelængrád, the capital of Finland. Ziedás sat with him in a grand hall populated by a few guards and other dignitaries. They were waiting for the Duke of Finland, Armas áv Finjá. Kiten was interested in making sure that his vassal knew that the Fins were to be dealt with quickly and all issues were to be reported to the Crown along with the used solution and the result. Finland was now on the front lines between Prussia and oblivion. The two Prussians felt comfortable in what was essentially a Prussian city suspended far in the north. Duke Armas was a haughty and arbitrary ruler. For many years he ruled far away from the attention of the King, now he was unhappy that he had to follow the King's rule.
"Your majesty," a servant called, "Lord Vishly, Duke Armas will see you now. Lady Ziedás, may I have the maids get you anything while you wait?"
Vishly stood up and walked into Armas's throne room as his wife talked with the servant. He soon stood before Armas and the Finnish court. People all seemed to eye him, judging his stature and his face. Vishly pulled at his curled moustache and sent one noble an evil glare. "All of you leave. I speak for the King of Prussia and I will speak only to those who need to hear," the Prince said.
"Don't leave. This little boy mistakes himself for a man," The Duke said in clear defiance. He smirked, leaning his head to the side to watch Vishly's reaction. The Prince sighed and rolled his eyes. He reached into his robe and revealed a rolled piece of paper sealed with mark of the King. He tossed it to Armas and waited for the Duke to read. The Duke did so and signaled for everyone to clear the room.
Vishly scoffed and began, "For a Duke you certainly are thick. When I said I speak for the King of Prussia those are not words to receive lightly. Especially when I am here to review whether you should be allowed to keep the throne of Finland."
"Wha...? You cannot just dethrone me!"
"I cannot, but my father can. And seeing as he is relying on me to gather the information to make that decision I guess I am the one who will dethrone you! So shut up and fucking listen for a change." Vishly walked up to the throne and looked Armas straight in the eye. "I am going to be here for a while, you might want to start improving your attitude. Changes are going to be made. Finland isn't some far-off colony anymore," Vishly said. He moved Armas off of his throne and sat down in it. He smiled victoriously. "So... when is dinner?"
At dinner Vishly sat with Ziedás about halfway down the table. The diners quickly became loud and boisterous. They seemed not to notice Vishly, which is exactly what he wanted. He and Ziedás listened into the conversations. But lips were tight. It was obvious that Vishly would not be forgotten by his hosts. Eventually the Prince could hear Finnish being used instead of Prussian. He turned to Ziedás who heard it too. Resistance was obvious, but there was nothing that could be done. He would simply write to his father of the problems he was having even on his first day. Fighting with Armas would yield little but revolt and invasion. Plus Vishly was not willing to put his own neck into the line of danger.
The next morning Armas called Vishly to the court in order to review Kiten's demands for change. The Duke was remorseful, his court had spoke to him last night during dinner and had decided that there was no better plan of action. The victory rang hollow with Vishly, who was hoping to shake up the establishment. But it taught him a very important lesson: nobles were a lot of talk, but when it came to the threat of losing their power, wealth and standing they would quickly fold to any command, any demand. A very powerful weakness, Vishly noted. The Prince revised his letter, including his initial observations.
Back in the room his host had granted him Vishly wrote diligently in a journal. Ziedás stood behind him, correcting his grammar and spelling. "I have read many of your writings, love," she said. "You seem to have gathered a great collection of thoughts on the matters of ruling and government. It is nothing short of brilliant."
"Thank you. One day this shall prove useful when I am King. And hopefully my son will read it, has his son too and so on. And before the ink wears off, I hope that it is copied and handed down again."
"You have put a lot of thought into this, haven't you?"
"I have. We must leave something for those who are meant to come after us. My father has taught me precious little. What he has taught me can charitably been described as obvious and less charitably as utter non sense."
"Maybe it will make sense in time," Ziedás said, putting her hand on his shoulder.
Vishly shook his head, "Nay. The old man knows his time is near, so he tries to enjoy the insanity that old age gives him. I cannot blame him, I guess, but that does not mean his words hide any more wisdom than the words of any other man. Tasist." The Prince turned back to his page a wrote down one more line for the day.
ien insturináfást neát ist práts. he wuldáf ut átæsæt. dathær for sákáv. ien kalp ist næ ien neát. ien insturináfást kalp wuldáf kuræt un lógæt sá he cannáf ál tea letás he cannáf næ him áratnæstæt gif he dædæt paturæt. he wuldáf naletá abæs hims gods upureshæt.
"A cornered animal is smart. It will strike out. Death before defeat. A man is not an animal. A cornered man will cower and plead so that he can keep all those things he cannot bring with him if he were to die. He will sacrifice nothing save his dignity."
Prussian is too different from the rest of Germanic languages so that I could understand it.
Duke of Finland?
Just sits there, never doing anything?
I still can't believe the duke of Finland is so shortsighted he will antagonize the heir to the throne. An heir that is going to be king soon.
Chapter Thirty One: The Snowy North
The medieval Prussian Empire was reaching its zenith. She stretched from the Elbe watershed to the Ural mountains. From the islands of Finland to the islands of Dalmatia. She encompassed numerous languages, religions, topologies and states. The King of Prussia was truly a god among men, but he was bound by certain agreements with the nobles, mostly made in the misty days of King Eadbert and King Gunvald and King Kiten was usually happy to oblige. Prince Vishly, however, did not like the bindings, so as his father caved into demands and pressures, the end of the road for feudalism was in sight. Feudalism in Prussia had become a bureaucratic nightmare. Loopholes in tax laws quickly cut profits to the crown and lined the pockets of the nobles with gold that should have been paid to the King. The regionalism of troops worsened unit cohesiveness, forcing the crown to rely more on the troops of the nobles. But even as reliance on Ducal soldiers increased, the Duchies often cried out to the crown to help put down tax revolts. In the south-east Princes were becoming restless. The Sichs of Azowia began their own independent raids of Georgia and Shirvana. Azowians began to settle these lands, becoming some of the first Prussian-speakers to settle lands outside of Prussia.
Europe in 1306 after the war between Prussia and Norway/Sweden.
October 1st, 1306
The Princes of the East all kneeled before Kiten as he sat on a large golden throne under a colorful and sturdy tent. On the plains of Prussia's eastern wilds, Kiten crowned himself King of the Rus and Khazaria. It was a strong sign to many peoples. The King was telling them that all the east lie in Prussia's domain and incursion was inexcusable. It was also a sign to the nobles of Prussia, far and wide, that there was only one King: The King of Kings, The King of Prussia. Vishly stood off to the side of the theatrics watching the nobles. Many were itchy about renewing their oaths to the King, the Kingdom and the Æthelræchtæs. A bishop produced a small wooden box, sealed tight but with a small glass pane. Inside was the original copy of the Æthelræchtæs, it was mostly disintegrated, but the more the better. Vishly chuckled at the idea that the nobles were swearing themselves to a small pile of dust.
The whole show lasted more than an hour with Vishly growing more bored and disinterested with every passing moment. VIshly turned his attention to the Queen, his step mother. She was the daughter of the head of the house of Ruirk, Vasilisa. She wore the fineries of a queen, had queenly duties and acted as if she was a queen. But she was not a queen. Vishly knew this. She was only slightly above a common street whore. The Rurik family was nothing but a bunch of honorless low-lives, and now as they re-swore their fealty to the King, the Prince knew their time in the sun was slowly coming to an end. They had many enemies within the Empire, their power made them the center of envy for many nobles. She looked Vishly's way and gave him a smile and a wink, but his face remain unchanged. He knew she'd write it off as he was asleep with his eyes open, or hard at work, or actually looking a different direction.
"What are you looking at, master Vishly?" Vishly turned and saw Serlo Dormandy, Prince of Azow. He was not unknown to Vishly, though a rather distant acquaintance. He was, at least, friendly to Vishly's ideas of nobility's role in society.
"Nothing, just watching the parade of idiocy." Vishly turned and faced the Sichman, "And youm how have you been?"
"I've been better, but I am better off than the last time you saw me." Both men laughed, "A night of legend if I do say so myself, friend."
Vishly smiled and nodded, "Yes. What I can remember of that night I do so fondly. Though I think Ziedás tries to forget it all." The two men walked out of the main room and stepped outside of the tent. Off to the side a ring of horses and tents marked the Sich's campground. The two men wandered over and joined the men.
"Vet, Who's this boss?" one man asked.
"Lord Vishly, Prince of Prussia. And the Prince joins us for mead and meat." The troops celebrated a reason to get out the casks of mead, pouring themselves pints and passing Vishly a tankard and a plate. Above their fire hung venison, cooked and warm. Vishly reached in with his knife and cut off a hunk and began to eat in traditional Prussian fashion, with only his knife.
"So, Lord Vishly, may I ask what you think of this?"
Vishly laughed, "You may not, really... but I'll answer a friend anyways. It is a charade. My father is looking only for loyalty from the nobles, and reminding them who is on top. It is necessary... not so much for the Sich, but for the Rurikoids." At the mention of the Ruriks everyone, including Vishly, turned to the side and spit on the ground. The Ruriks and Dormandies were major rivals for control over the east.
"One day, we shall meet them in open battle and we shall overcome them!" Serlo said, "But, Lord... we wait for you. As long as that Queen sleeps by your father's side... he is blind. Blind to what is true. O woe for the Sich if the King sides not with us and instead with the Rus."
"Remember, Vishly Prince," a rather rugged soldier said, his hand on the Prince's shoulder, "The King only need ask and we of the Sich will ride forth to his task. That is our promise to the crown." The soldier all toasted in agreement, mead slopping everywhere. "There be no men braver than us."
"I shall hold you to that, I shall hold you all to that. And you'll all be better off for it. Because the only allies of Prussia are allies of mine."
There was a solemn quite that fell about the camp as people turned to eating and drinking. It was technically treason to speak of a time after a King, no matter how soon it was to be. Kiten was seventy one, tied with his father for the title oldest King. His health was not yet failing, but many knew that the time was near. It was a taboo subject in Prussia, but one that had to be discussed behind closed doors and in dark corners, lest succession be a complete mess.
Every Prince of Prussia did it, make plans and build allies. Only the young Æthelweard was innocent of it. But few were as drastic as Vishly. His plans were many, his plots carefully weaved together. His allies chosen carefully and wisely. His heart did not flow freely with hate, just with a cold and calculated cunning. It divided friends from the expendable, protected those he loved and would mercilessly hunt those who stood in his way. Prince Vishly was less than a year away from becoming King. He didn't know it, but soon his day would come and he would rule over Prussia the way he saw fit and just.
Prince Vishly's portrait before coronation.
End Chapter Thirty One
What a moustache.
Are the borders of the realms really that pretty?
Could again make a map of the largest fiefdoms inside the borders of Prus?
An update also on the politics of homefront?
Vishly is Vlad III Tepes! Wonderful! Time for impaling people for three days (Dracula had a method that kept them alive by carefully avoiding to pierce certain areas.
Good to see Vishly means business.
I'm back BTW.
Then we will wait, begrudgingly so *Stares sourly and sits down and waits looking terribly and comically offended.*
I don't think I've ever seen a moustache that impressive before ... merely living up to his facial hair will make Vishly a King to remember
Just thought I'd pop in to say I am anxiously awaiting the next chapter in this fantastic story. Your AAR coupled with Rome AARisen finally inspired me to create and account and start posting here. Keep up the good work!