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Thread: My Inevitable Greatness

  1. #1
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Lightbulb My Inevitable Greatness

    My Inevitable Greatness
    - a Mount and Blade Warband AAR -

    consisting of diverse quotations and precepts for the wise,
    as well as many a tale of derring-do,
    with details of a romantical nature to set the heart aflutter,
    and political insight most penetrating,
    excerpted from that most magnificent work,

    the autobiography:

    ”The Life and Times of the Unparalleled Khünbish Jalair”

    with the occasional enlightening comment from this unworthy author.

    (6000d for the full uncensored version; A collector's edition with illustrations is available to the discerning customer for a mere 28500d from authorised book-sellers.)




    Preface


    This is the true story of how I, Khünbish Jalair, the supreme image of femininity, great mother of wisdom, unparalleled seducer, the great scabbard of the faithful*, scourge of the Rhodoks, slayer of Khergits, unholy whore of the Sarranids, ravager of the Vaegirs, the heat that melts the Northern ice, the despoiler of the fields of Swadia, the feeder on impurity, the lady of penitential torture, our lady of mercy, goddess of unnatural lust, insane megalomaniac bitch, the virgin of Halmar, and symbol of unchallenged victory to name just some of the titles I have been known by in my time, got to be just where I am today.

    * I always hated that title, but it is mine and while it was granted by mine enemies, like so many of the less flattering titles I have been known by in my life, I took it for my own and made them choke on it!

    I have spent most of my life lying, scheming, and conniving, when I weren't plotting, intriguing, or misleading. Equally accomplished at dishonest trade and seduction, I am proud to say that I never fought any man face to face when I could stab him in the back instead. While my charisma and natural modesty are known to all the world, there is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn't be where I am today, were it not for my almost god-like intellect – attributes that were often misunderstood by my enemies, who have all days been legion. The world is hard place and it is hard on everybody, but it is harder on women and of all women in the world, it has been the hardest on me.

    But where lesser people would perish, I have always, even in the darkest of days, been able to see the shining light in the distance, that beacon of hope that lights my path through the valley of despair on the one hand and rejects false comfort on the other, the golden road that has led me all the way from my birth to my inevitable greatness!


    Editor's note: At this point the modest Khünbish Jalair recollects several amusing incidents, which led to the granting of some of her more outrageous titles such as “she of the jade skirt”, “the hunger below”, and “guide of souls”. These are not essential to her story and are at any rate ill suited for male readers under the age of 60 and are, as such, not suited for this volume. Interested readers should obtain the full uncensored version, carried by any authorised book-seller, or the collector's edition. It has illustrations of an educational nature.



    Chapter the first: I am born


    In the humble yurt owned by my father Gansükh, a renowned warrior of the Jalair tribe, temporarily raised somewhere on the great steppes, the most extraordinary event occurred on September 1, 1238 – the birth of a living girl-child by his fifth wife. Now, girl-children are as common as horses on the steppes and worth considerably less but Gansükh was a man accursed by fate.

    Of his twelve previous children by acknowledged wives, three had died along with their mothers in childbirth, five had died in childhood, two taken by the plague just as they were about to be married, and two strapping lads struck down in their very first raid. Every acknowledged child had been a son and in his youth he was much admired for his ability to consistently produce sons by his wives; Admittedly some of his bastards were girls, but well, that's what you can expect of loose women.

    Now, at the ripe old age of forty-two, he was a respected warrior but one without anybody to carry on his legacy save his horde of bastards upon women willing and otherwise, and those are as nothing in the eyes of the gods, and it was widely whispered that the evil spirits were jealous of him for his nearly divine ability at providing boy-children and had caused the deaths of his legitimate offspring out of spite to turn a blessing into a curse.

    He had, naturally, been hoping and expecting another boy but that was not to be. He got his first acknowledged girl-child! ME!

    My recollections of my birth are dim, but I have been reliably informed that I was born at exactly midnight and that the warriors, who had been drinking heavily, were with the exception of my brave father terribly scared because a two-headed calf had run through the camp earlier in the night. A dead two-headed calf, mind you, though how on earth anybody can have been sober enough to notice is beyond me. In either case, it was definitely an evil omen. The comet that blazed a trail across the night sky in the minutes surrounding my birth was a more ambiguous omen but the general verdict was that it was probably a meteor rather than a comet and, hence, bad.

    In either case, I was a disgustingly healthy baby and failed to die in infancy like so many others and my father was faced with the grave issue of naming me. He had long experience with naming boy-children, but what name should be given to a girl-child? Flowers, virtues, colours – these were common and satisfactory choices for girls. Now, if I had been given the choice, I'd have given myself the name Altan, golden, for my hair which was golden in those days, the last gift of my outlander mother, but my father was not so poetically inclined.

    Upon grave consideration and after consultation with the elders, he decided upon that rarest of all names: He gave me a taboo name to ward off the evil spirits that had cost him his other children by acknowledged wives, letting practicality take precedence over poetry, a lesson I have taken to heart.

    Thus, rather than becoming Gansükh Altan, I became Gansükh Khünbish in the eyes of the world, which is a mouthful to swallow, and set me on the path apportioned to me by fate.

    In the tongue of my father, Khünbish means “Not A Human Being” and say this for him: It worked. The spirits were fooled. I survived my childhood completely unmolested by the evil spirits, who when they came for me presumably took one look at my name, concluded that I too was an evil spirit and they the victims of some bureaucratic screw-up, and went off to molest other humans. The torments I suffered at the hands of what can euphemistically be called my play-mates on account of my name, however, were legion, but they were children and acted as children do and they are all dead and gone by now while I am not, so now I can forgive them despite not forgetting.

    I never forget.

    Editor's note: At this point the sanguine Khünbish Jalair goes into great detail regarding the offenses and torments she suffered at the hands of the heartless and mindless wretches she grew up amongst, every incident engraved on her perfect memory with excruciating attention to detail. Such cruelty is surely unmatched in history and the very heavens themselves must have cried out for such monstrous injustice to be avenged - which it was.


    ------

    This is my first M&B game that progressed more than 6-8 levels so I have learned the basics of the game and know I am bad at combat. Whether on foot or on horse, at equal damage to me and the opponents I get chopped up fast in melee. If I'm not shot first.

    As such, this is as much a voyage of discovery as anything else and though I have progressed far enough in the game to have a few chapters worth of writing in me, I have absolutely no idea how it will end or which challenges I will be presented which, with the exception of those mentioned in the manual and what reading Wyvern's AAR has suggested to me (which AAR, by the way, was what convinced me to try out Mount and Blade in the first case. Thanks, Wyvern).

    Wyvern also gave me the tip to try out lances and I discovered that repeatedly missing targets while trying to spear opponents, while it might not actually gain me much XP or contribute materially to the success of a battle, did keep me alive very nicely and was actually sort of fun, so I decided to start a new character focused almost exclusively on doing well in other areas than combat. This way, while I would learn combat along the way, painfully and slowly, I'd at least be trying to do well in the one aspect of computer games that I master – the strategic. I quickly hunted down a guide describing the bonuses gained from character generation and they pretty much decided the background of my character.

    The idea of a character devoted to intrigue and leadership was born and since the manual said that the game was harder with a female character since this was a male dominated world and easier for nobles than commoners, the obvious choice was to make my next character a female commoner who would try to scheme her way up in the world with well developed leadership and persuasion skills... and enough riding skills to ride really, really fast away from the opposition.

    In other words a female steppe nomad, who was first employed as a shop assistant before becoming a a lady in waiting. The obvious choice for the reason for adventuring, which would have fit my general design, was the loss of a loved one (+2 CHA), but there I drew the line. I was going to play a scheming bitch, not some heartbroken and weeping sob-story of a character with emotional baggage. It seemed much more in character after those already major changes of life for her to be forced out of her life as lady in waiting, having failed in one of her schemes.

    Thus I ended up with modifiers of STR +2, AGI +2, INT +5, CHA +2, Riding 4, Persuasion 2, Wound Treatment 2, First Aid 1, Inventory Management 1, Trade 1, Path-finding 1, Weapon Master 1 as my starting bonuses.

    Details such as whether there is a maximum level or not for characters or whether xp-gain gets exponentially hard from a certain point are unknown to me at this point in time, so I am basically developing the character along the fundamental ideas outlined above and as affected by circumstances with no fixed long-term plan for reaching specific levels of skill. Given how even a relatively small investment of points in a party skill will give a bonus even when that skill is provided by a companion, I fully expect Khünbish Jalair to end up a skillmonkey with many lowlevel skills and only the charisma based skills at high levels, but let's see what happens.

    Since the manual lists bonuses up to skill 10 (+4) I am assuming that a skill cannot be increased to more than 10 but it is pretty irrelevant at this early stage of learning the game. Achieving skill 10 would require 30 attribute points in the first place, a huge amount at one per level and thus entirely possibly not within reach of any character not dedicated to one attribute to the exclusion of everything else and Khünbish Jalair wants at least two (intelligence and charisma), so this is unlikely to be an issue either way.

    During the first chapters I am playing with POOR combat AI and campaign AI, NORMAL combat speed, 25% damage to me and 50% to my friends; This is changed later on as I get more comfortable with the game. I am playing with a battle size of 79 for no good reason I can think of. I think this was default? I may have changed it by mistake. I'll probably increase it later on when more familiar with the game but for now there are certainly more than enough things going on in battles as is.

    Before I get to the AAR of what is going on in Calriada, however, I will need to finish writing up a character background that fits those a life progression from steppe nomad through shop assistant via lady-in-waiting being forced out of her home and seeking adventure in far Calradia.

    It'll be one heck of a ride, and I don't have any plans for regular posting habits. Expect updates to come when I see fit and the story to end when I get bored.
    Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 14-05-2010 at 22:32.
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  2. #2
    A bunny with a hat Moderator Nikolai II's Avatar
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    An impressive title and an amusing beginning.

    May the "Dragon Woman" succeed in her grand scheme, to set a model for us all to follow and dethrone her.
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    NOP-field present Moderator Qorten's Avatar
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    Looks like this is going to be a nice and quite original M&B Tale, Peter.


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  4. #4
    In the lands of Calradia Wyvern's Avatar
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    Nice start Peter. Now let's see how you get on .
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  5. #5
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Thanks, all.

    Wyvern, not getting on with anything anytime soon - I have to write allllll the background information first.
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    StoreytellAAR Storey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ebbesen View Post

    Khünbish Jalair, the great scabbard of the faithful*,

    Well that certainly got my attention. I do hope we'll get to hear the story behind that moniker.

    Joe
    The way to a woman's heart is through her stomach.

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  7. #7
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Chapter the second: Childhood


    Already in childhood my vast intelligence was recognized and appreciated by all except for a few people of low birth and worth whom history has forgotten. I was not universally loved, but I was universally respected. And feared.

    My people were nomadic and travelled the great steppes on horseback. We were the horse-people, the raiders who strike like lightning, and we were above all a free people paying homage to nobody who could not rule with an iron fist. As all children, I learned to ride at an early age, and if there's one thing I can say that I love more than myself in this world, it is the wind in my face with my hair streaming as I put a horse through its paces. Even now that I am an old woman myself, riding is the one thing that brings me joy when nothing else will.

    I was truly the apple of my father's eye and he loved me more than anything else in the world, even if he didn't fully understand his dutiful daughter, who displayed few of the virtues expected of boys and an abundance of those expected of girls. He did love my vicious temperament, much akin to his own, but cautioned me that this was a man's world and it was unseemly to display such as a girl. I should have to be more circumspect and this lesson too I took to my heart.

    I had been born into a man's world and that lesson was driven home early and frequently by men and women both. Greatness was reserved for men and the best I could hope for in this world was to support a man striving for greatness and either die young bearing his brood or be cast aside in old age. That is, if I wasn't taken as portable loot in a raid, carried off by starvation, or beaten to death by a drunk husband.

    This did not attract me. Already at this tender age, I knew that out of all the children my age I alone was destined for greatness and I burned with ambition.

    As I grew up I became taller than the other children and began developing hints of beauty, and as I reached eleven years of age, which was nearly old enough for marriage on the steppes, and men began watching me speculatively, I suspected my father was already making arrangements for a marriage the next year. Now, I loved the old yurt, my family, and my tribe as much as anybody else, but clearly I was fated for greater things than being sold to an old goat and bred like a cow, though I am afraid that is mixing metaphors. So I decided to leave my home and seize my destiny!

    I saw my father for the last time as I was in the process of being pursued by vengeful tribesmen, wroth because I had burned down a yurt with the most vile of my tormentors inside. It was a most splendid burning that I had been planning for weeks and it took real guile to get so many of my play-mates gathered in one enclosed place at the same time. I watched the yurt from a nearby tree and slew those who sought to escape the burning with my bow. It was glorious!

    My father was back at our family yurt unaware of my plans, but he grasped the situation immediately when he discovered me stealing his fastest horse to speed my departure. Even distracted by the howling for blood of our neighbours as he was at the time, he took the time to compliment me on my intelligence and to rationally evaluate my plan as my horse dodged beyond his reach: “You are mental, girl! You'll never have a future within the tribe after this!”, he shouted as my horse sped towards the wide open horizon, positive and uplifting words that warm my heart to this very day.

    Touching, really.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Storey View Post
    Well that certainly got my attention. I do hope we'll get to hear the story behind that moniker.

    Joe
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  9. #9
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Chapter the third: Shop Assistant


    The town's name is irrelevant. It is on another continent and far away and its people cannot be trusted. While I was wise to the ways of the steppes, the life in towns was new to me, both the opportunities and the dangers, and there are many dangers to an eleven year old girl in civilization.

    Newly arrived, I got to stay in the loft of the stables for a few of my carefully hoarded coin as I examined the joys of civilization.

    My horse and money were stolen the first night, my innocence taken by force the second by a drunk merchant who entered the loft by mistake and me by intent. As I lay bruised and weeping, glaring daggers of revenge, he threw me a copper piece. I was thrown out of the inn on the third day for “soliciting on the premises” and “making a scene” when I claimed a cow and four goats in recompense of the merchant, which was quite a bargain rate considering what would have been his punishment on the steppes, but I was no longer on the steppes or under the protection of my family and tribe, as I had just discovered most painfully.

    With nothing but my clothes and one copper to my name, and a taboo name at that, I can truly say that I was in dire straits. The coming two months were even worse and some of the worst of my life, but they toughened me and taught me more of civilization than a sheltered upbringing ever would. I became really good at dodging unhealthy attention even as I got a beginner's education in begging, stealing, spying and being a runner for the gangs. I was hungry and tired and rather dirty most of the time and the best thing that can be said for it is that it is over with and done.

    Having a strong knowledge of animal husbandry due to my upbringing and now having suffered a beast on my own body, so to speak, once I had the funds I finally sought a back-alley physician to discover if I was pregnant, which shows my naivety: I still wasn't used to civilization. If I had been a common street urchin, I'd have saved the money and waited on nature to inform me since I didn't have the funds for an abortion.

    The kind physician told me to lie on his couch, spread my legs, close my eyes and think of the gods, and when I did so he breathed a deep sigh of appreciation and brought forth his mighty instrument and entered me.

    No, not that way. Get your mind out of the gutter, dear reader.

    Editor's note: At this point the great Khünbish Jalair launches into a lengthy aside about the follies of mankind and the dirty minds of men in the general and the type of men who read books in particular. She also recounts several salacious anecdotes, which are fully illustrated in the collector's edition, but which are not strictly needed to understand her greatness or destiny.


    He was an old and oddly gentle fellow, and he informed me sadly that as far as he could determine, I was not pregnant and never would be. My womb appeared to be, he apologised, utterly barren, and nothing between the earth and the sky would alter that, though an appeal to the gods might be effective and that the pious should never give up hope.

    Now, some women being so informed would undoubtedly curse their fate bitterly, knowing that they were utterly useless at the one job they were uniquely suited for in this world of men but I, I rejoiced. I think this scared the old fellow or perhaps he mistook it for hysteria, for he was very solicitous as he guided me giggling into the street.

    I knew what had happened; It came to my superior intellect like a flash of lightning! The evil spirits, unable to find me as a child, had discovered me upon my adolescence, probably drawn by the smell of my menstrual blood, and cursed me with barrenness as a final revenge on my father and a guarantee that his line would die out. Where they had intended it as a curse on him, I saw opportunity for myself – a tool to take one further step on the golden road that led me ever onwards to my inevitable greatness!

    After many travails I was taken in by a hatter to work as his shop assistant. My body had begun to develop pleasingly by that time, if I say so myself, and he expected sales to rise. And other things besides, as it turned out, but I was not averse to that any more.

    I want to make one thing absolutely clear here. Persistent scurrilous rumours would have it that I sold my body to make my way in the world before I came to Calriada and, it is hinted strongly, afterwards as well. This is nothing but the product of the over-active imaginations of my enemies coupled with the common belief that any woman who gets ahead in the world achieves this on her back (or stomach or knees, as was the custom of this town): I never sold my body.

    I rented it out, a much fairer trade for both parties involved.

    A man, a stupid man, I might add, might prefer to die standing on his feet to living on his knees, but for a woman, living on her knees can be quite rewarding so long as she controls the monopoly of her renewable resources and is young and healthy.

    I still fondly remember the day I earned enough money to have the merchant, who taught me the virtues of civilization, murdered. The price of a man's life in this man's world turned out to be almost disappointingly low. A lot of admiring glances, some coin, a tumble in the hay (yes, I patronized the inn from my very first visit to the town for the occasion but they surely did not recognize the sweet young woman as the steppe child of an earlier year) and sweet promises of more to come, and the merchant's fate was sealed. He died in pain and was found tortured with a copper in his mouth.

    Yes, that copper. I had been saving it all that time just for this occasion.

    I never forget.

    My tool escaped the town a few steps in advance of what was laughingly called “the law” after I set them on him, and I was well content.

    I liked living with the hatter and learning his trade but, let's face it, it wasn't exactly glorious, was it? And besides, he took liberties that I did not yet have the refinement to resist. Part of the rent, you might say, but I was a hostile market and some of his actions were just plain weird. Very instructive, though.

    On the whole, my life as a shop assistant to a mad hatter was an educational existence and it allowed me my first glimpse of my next target for advancement and the only class that my natural born ability suited me for, the nobility. The hatter's shop was patronized by members of the lower nobility richer on lineage than coin and I soon enhanced the popularity of the shop by discreet but liberal application of my natural advantages and skills. I may have overdone it a bit since the hatter got decidedly nervous and suspicious when one particular young noble began ordering two hats per week. This particular young noble was a social outcast amongst those of his age on account of his father being short on lineage but rich in wealth and while that matters a lot in most of this world, amongst the nobility it is a sin. There were even those who refused to consider them nobility at all.

    He was also, sad to say, rather stupid. He believed me when I told him that I possessed ancient lore of the steppes, secret knowledge of the cult of the Horse-Lord who is the highest of gods, that allowed me to prevent pregnancy... or perhaps he was less stupid than I credit him for and just pretended to believe at first to reap the advantages of what he sowed, so to speak, then became a true believer when I failed to become pregnant despite his ardent admiration and attention over many months. On second thought, no - he was that stupid.

    The very reasonable return on investment I got from that early foray in preying on the stupidity of men (I was to get much better with time) allowed me to upgrade my wardrobe and to speak to the women of a higher social class than my own as a social climber and general brown-noser. Hungrily I learned their supercilious manners as best I could through direct observation and through quizzing the young sons of the nobility.

    When the hatter's shop burned down in the tragic fire of 1254 that laid waste to the town centre and killed the hatter, his family, and a few dozen of my neighbours leaving me conveniently dishevelled and weeping in my best gown with an artistic rip or two in the ashes of what was my only home, the nobleman's son's heart went out to me and he begged his father to invite me to become a lady in waiting to his sister, a theoretical possibility we had been discussing in confidence after his father began complaining of his sartorial expenses in the fall of 1253. They were very rich but also very low on the scale of nobility. A minor baron of some sorts, roughly equivalent to the military rank of a corporal without portfolio, and though his court really should have daughters of the nobility and preferably relatives as ladies in waiting, the more respectable nobility did not grace him with the loan of their daughters so he had to improvise, so the suggestion was not as outrageous as it might otherwise have seemed.

    I learned a very valuable lesson that day which I shall never forget and one that was to be of much practical use in the years to come: Always carefully study the weather patterns before setting a wooden building on fire. Burning a yurt is hard but can be done by anybody determined enough as I had shown at age eleven. Compared to that, burning a wooden building is terrifyingly easy and may well get out of control.

    Aged 16, I was about to exchange quantity for quality as I assumed my new role as a lady in waiting to lady Rosalie.
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  10. #10
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    It is humours, evil and licentious. The later is somewhat new, I approve.
    Cinis sum.
    Cinis terra est.
    Terra est deae.
    Ergo mortuo non sum.

  11. #11
    Secret Agent Monnikje's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ebbesen View Post
    It'll be one heck of a ride, and I don't have any plans for regular posting habits. Expect updates to come when I see fit and the story to end when I get bored.
    Great start of the story. This is quite a background . I hope you won't get bored soon!
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  12. #12
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Ooh! Smut!

    Oh, and there's humor, and possibly storytelling based on gameplay, but for the moment, I'm content with a nice dose of innuendo and double entendre.

    Like others, I hope you won't get bored anytime soon.

  13. #13
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Chapter the fourth: Lady in Waiting


    What, you might rightfully ask, is it that a lady in waiting actually does? Well, mostly she waits to get married while attending her lady as companion and gaining a useful education in dancing, a charming demeanour, skills at sewing and embroidery, playing instruments, reading and writing, and managing a household of everything from a dozen to hundreds of people when the husband is away.

    At least, that's what the men believe, and who are we to disabuse them of their conceits?

    What ladies in waiting do most of all and best of all is to plot against anybody and anything for personal gain. I got a post graduate education in intrigue that would shock the faint of heart. The men may know that they have all the power in this man's world and they frequently enforce it, but behind every successful man is a woman ready to stab him in the back should he prove unworthy of her affections or cross her will.

    Best of all, I got to ride again! As a noble, lady Rosalie was expected to be an experienced equestrian and so were her ladies in waiting. I taught her some tricks from the steppes that her horsemaster had never heard of and soon became her boon companion.

    One thing I learned of practical use in my new role was that while ladies in waiting were supposed to be, well, waiting, some of them were rather tired of waiting and let nature take its course. Discreetly, of course, and mostly with more spooning than forking, so to speak, as they went in constant fear of a pregnancy that would get them returned to their family in disgrace. They were very circumspect about it but no secret is safe once two women discuss a third woman of their acquaintance while she isn't present and we had a lot of time together. I thus began a very lucrative career in blackmail and extortion and I had soon reduced the other ladies in waiting to nervous wrecks, innocent and guilty alike... if there were any innocents in that gathering. I doubt it.

    It was during these formative years that I learned another secret of great importance to my fate, namely that while there was a certain power to be had from renting one's body out, there could under some circumstances be an even greater return on investment from denying one's body to a mark. Boys and men can be such hopeless romantics and taking advantage of that is no more cruel than killing prey is for a lofty eagle. It is what nature intended and the world is a better place for it. Men will happily enjoy an ordinary meal and then pay for it niggardly, but give them a mere taste of something exotic or forbidden and challenge them to prove their devotion or attention and they will go to the ends of the world itself seeking to fulfil your desires in the hope that the enjoyment of the exotic or forbidden meal will be as much above the ordinary meal as their efforts surely warrant.

    In other words, men are born suckers.

    I continued practising my arts and wiles on lady Rosalie's brother and a few other targets of opportunity and allowed contentment to dominate my life. Truly, if fate had not intervened, I would likely have ended up the dutiful wife of some old goat, who would have died happily and conveniently in bed, leaving me to administrate his properties while taking on a motherly role for his children of a previous marriage and feathering my own nest. I was well on my way to securing such an advantageous marriage for I had applied my superior intelligence to the task and formed a cunning plan. Not one without risks, mind you, but no reward is gained without risk. It would not have been a bad life, I think, but my fate would not be denied for long.

    It was spring in my nineteenth year and the sun was shining bright as I went riding by the lake in the woods near the castle as I had done often before. Sometimes alone, though that was frowned upon, and sometimes in company. I have many fond memories of that lake.

    The grass was green, the wind was in my hair, the birds quiet and only the sounds of exertion from my mount and my enthusiastic (but ladylike) shrieks of joy broke the silence.

    It was there that my secret lover, lady Rosalie's brother, who was out hunting geese (or goosegirls, I have my suspicions) when he should have been busy visiting the nearby town came upon me in the afternoon and committed a crime against my body and dignity and the honour of his family, forever disgracing himself.

    The mount I was riding was the baron his father, who was no mean rider himself and unlike his son wasn't unwilling to be ridden once in a while. He had known of his son's amusements with due fatherly tolerance from the very start and had eventually under my influence decided to sample the wares himself, so to speak. I'd have been turned out immediately if I had become pregnant, of course, and some groom or traveller blamed, but he considered my risk well worth his own pleasure and I considered my eventual gain well worth the effort, given my barrenness. He'd have been happy to help marry me off in a year or two, the way things were going.

    And I have always loved riding.

    There was a hue and a cry and one thing led to another and pretty soon the baron had a bolt through his temple and an astonished look on his face as he bled all over me. Not content with being a fratricide, my lover accused me of causing his father's death, of being a disloyal whore (though for the sake of argument, if I were a whore, which title I absolutely reject, whom did I owe loyalty to except myself?), began choking me while yelling condemnations, and then in a fit of anger struck me to the ground. He then proceeded to violate me “as whores deserve”, showing himself to be not only the beast I had always secretly suspected but also remarkably lacking in logic.

    In retrospect, I could have handled that better, but destiny will not be denied and if I have learned one thing in life, it is to look to the future rather than the past.

    I wept and cried and tore my hair most heartrendingly, issuing protestations of my everlasting love for him and swore that I had been seized by a wild moment of lust for his father, a force so powerful it seized my entire body whether I will it or no, for I was but a weak woman, a force which had seduced his saintly father (for he would hear no evil word about his father and tarnishing his father's memory would have been counterproductive at that point in time). I swore to kill myself for my crimes and he added idiocy to his crimes of emotion and irrationality as he took me in his arms to dissuade me.

    To this day I still do not know whether he intended to shake me out of my notions of suicide or to cuddle them out of me and it is possible that he didn't know either. We'd been lovers for nearly five years by then and it is my belief that he understood me as little on that last day as the day we first met, while I had figured him out from the start: He was basically an amiable idiot, unable to deal with conflict or questions harder than what he should wear each day, and there's just no way of knowing which way his diminutive mind would jump in times of stress.

    What I did know was that one way or another my life as a lady in waiting was over and that I had better get moving pretty damn quickly. My lover died with his own knife in his guts, flopping on the ground like a fish on land. I cut his throat and stole his purse, bow, knife, and horse, washed the worst of the blood out of my clothes (you learn many useful skills as a lady in waiting and bloodstains are an occupational hazard) and rode away, leaving this part of my life behind forever.

    It amuses me to think of how lady Rosalie must have reacted when the scene was discovered and, later on, when my considerable savings must have been discovered in my room. She was good and honest and dumb as a brick and sometimes I wonder just how she ended up making peace with her delusions about the innate goodness and purity of her brother and father. She probably ended up putting all the blame on me, the spineless bitch, but you never know – sometimes people are capable of growth.

    Though it is rare.

    Be that as it may, I set out for the nearest port. This country was definitely too hot for me and my fair skin and if I wanted to keep my skin fair, it was time to seek foreign adventures. I had been forced out of my comfortable existence by fate that cannot be denied and I swore that never-more would I suffer the risks of contentment until such time as I had achieved my inevitable greatness.

    In the port I hired a scruffy caravan guard wearing a tattered red shirt that had seen better days to guard my person on the journey and found a ship sailing for the city of Shariz in distant Calradia. My knowledge of Calradia was exceedingly limited, but the captain was the only one about to set sail who didn't ask nosy questions of his travellers such as, to take an example completely at random, “Just what is a noble lady in clothes decidedly below her station doing travelling alone with only one guard to distant Calradia?”, which pretty much decided the issue. He operated on a strict need-to-know principle and enough money guaranteed that he didn't need to know anything, an eminently satisfactory arrangement for both of us.

    The captain was probably a smuggler, gods bless him, but he kept his word and I eventually reached Shariz late one afternoon, unharmed but with a near empty purse. I was in war-torn Calriada, land of opportunity, where any noble man of might and daring might seize destiny by its throat and end up a power in the land. It was clear to me that this was what my fate had been leading me to all the time.

    I might not have the might and daring of a man but in intrigue I considered myself second to none and my towering intellect and natural assets gave me a natural advantage that no man could compete with. After all, what is a man but a strong woman, who has had half his brain removed and turned into two meatballs and a meat flute in what can best be described as a cosmic jest and an occasional meal you can choke on? Somewhere the gods are laughing, I swear.

    My guard died in a completely avoidable incident on the docks, which was really his own fault, but then, I hadn't hired him for his brains. As his employer I claimed his worldly goods to dispose of for his family, something that the constables fully understood. They directed me to a tavern where I could stay over the night and hire a new guard.

    The observant reader will have noted that I promoted myself to the nobility. I was born of the free people of the steppes and, arguably, every one of us is a noble – but the rest of the world doesn't see it that way.

    In this world, there are nobles and there are commoners and being a noble is absolutely preferable. It isn't just a question of who your father is, it is a question of lineage. Well, I was of the ancient and honourable tribe of Jalair, so in accordance with the naming conventions of civilization I put the name Gansükh Khünbish behind me and was for ever after known as Khünbish Jalair as I sought power and wealth in the lands of Calriada.
    Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 18-05-2010 at 19:32.
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  14. #14
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Funny and well-written. Oh, and smut. This in particular
    After all, what is a man but a strong woman, who has had half his brain removed and turned into two meatballs and a meat flute in what can best be described as a cosmic jest and an occasional meal you can choke on?
    is borderline nasty.

    I wholeheartedly approve.

    I do intend to stop harping about the smut, soon. I salute the craftmanship on display in the writing of this tale and look forward to seeing how our protagonist makes her way through Calradia.

  15. #15
    StoreytellAAR Storey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    Funny and well-written. Oh, and smut. This in particularis borderline nasty.
    I believe we are getting the PG13 rated version of the story.

    Why do I get the feeling that this dear girl is simply confused and needs help? If she could just find a strong enough man to help her find her proper position in society, preferably not on her knees choking on a meat flute, all would be well. Where is there a Petruchio when you need him?
    The way to a woman's heart is through her stomach.

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  16. #16
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant
    I do intend to stop harping about the smut, soon. I salute the craftmanship on display in the writing of this tale and look forward to seeing how our protagonist makes her way through Calradia.
    Your patience will soon be rewarded when we reach the non-smutty thrilling sections of narrative descibing in exquisite and some mind say mindnumbing detail how "In town A I sold 3 iron bars costing X and bought 5 bags of salt costing Y before traveling to town B where I sold my salt for Z and bought a sack of grain (for the party was hunger) and traveled on to town C to buy wine (but the price was too high so I continued to town D, where the guild master asked me to escort merchants to...", complete with tense and intriguing narrative with ransom brokers and book sellers!


    Quote Originally Posted by Storey View Post
    I believe we are getting the PG13 rated version of the story.
    You do have a point. I am writing based on the very reasonable assumption that my average reader has a dirtier mind than I do.

    Why do I get the feeling that this dear girl is simply confused and needs help? If she could just find a strong enough man to help her find her proper position in society, preferably not on her knees choking on a meat flute, all would be well. Where is there a Petruchio when you need him?
    You, know, I was tempted to answer this question with an answer along the lines of "She ate him alive, one inch at a time..." but that would only strengthen your first point, wouldn't it?
    Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 19-05-2010 at 03:54.
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  17. #17
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Chapter the fifth: A Merchant of Shariz


    So, there I was in Shariz with a very good horse, a very shrunken purse, and my late lover's hunting crossbow while wearing the good wool “wanton townswoman” costume that always turned on the late baron, rather the worse for the wear and with still a few faint bloodstains.

    Fortunately, as I was to discover quickly, bloodstained clothing was not a rare sight in Calradia. With six kings struggling for the same ultimate prize, that being the control of all Calradia, and with every nobleman who fancied himself a leader brandishing ancient claims to more than his fair share, wars were fought over the least excuse and ended on the merest whim. These were small and petty wars and seldom achieved more than the change of hand of some dismal castle or war-torn village that had probably already been razed during the conquest. Some castles changed hands half a dozen times a year! It was sheer madness.

    Glorious madness, of course, and the noblemen considered it good sport and a diversion from feasting, which, if anything, was the pastime of the nobility. You haven't fought a war until you've seen all the nobles defending a critical town send a messenger to the enemy asking for a time out because they have to return to Shariz for feasting, yet in my time I saw in actually done and honoured by the enemy. Twice!

    To say that this made a mockery of war is an understatement; At least home on the steppes, when our war leaders had to abandon a theatre of war for a year or two and return home to a gathering it was because of the death of the overall war leader and the election of a new one, a matter of life and death as well as overall direction of a war, not for feasting.

    When I first visited Shariz, this all lay in the future and my knowledge of the internecine warfare in Calradia scant, but the widespread bloodstains on the clothes of mercenaries and even a few of the town guards, those were very noticeable.

    As was the brute who shot me as I was approaching my tavern in the evening fresh from the docks. Talk about a rough neighbourhood. Fortunately, it was but a flesh wound, but the knock on the head I received courtesy of his club laid me out straight.

    I came to myself in the house of a merchant of Shariz. Apparently I hadn't been the victim of some degenerate bow-wielding robber-rapist as might have been feared (and would have been just my luck) but the victim of a common cutpurse, who had nicked the merchant's purse and was making a run for it, mistook me for a civic-minded citizen, and took a lucky pot-shot – or so the merchant conjectured, for he was himself a civic-minded citizens and rather lacking of imagination. He thought I'd been trying to stop the cutpurse, the more fool him.

    I learned something that day of the highest importance: In Calradia cutpurses and other criminals were as heavily armed as trained warriors elsewhere. That was a good lesson to learn early on. They weren't as heavily armoured as trained warriors, in fact.. but I'll get to that soon enough.

    Having examined me closer for wounds as he took me to his house, the blood stains in my clothes and the fading bruises on my neck and face as well as my general physique summed me up as a foreign mercenary, but a civic-minded one.

    He told me a sob-story about how his poor brother had been captured by bandits and how he was looking for somebody to aid him, an honest, trustworthy, and, above all, cheap mercenary with military experience to free his brother and, incidentally, would I happen to know such a one? Now, you get what you pay for, and if he was in the market for discount mercenaries, I certainly qualified. I volunteered and he paid me a sum in advance to recruit some farmer lads to back me up, the more fool he.

    I had half a mind to just do a runner with the money, but as my slate was clean in Calradia, I decided to at least look into the problem. Building positive relations with the well to do would likely pay off in the long run, if it wasn't too dangerous.

    I rode to the nearest farming village, Mit Nun, and discovered that generations of warfare had so formalized the nature of mercenary employment that there was a standard non-negotiable hiring fee of 10 denars per man regardless of skill, of which they had little in any case, and health, which was worse. This fee was to be paid directly to the village elder who also kept a handy list of just which villagers were available so rather than perform individual negotiations, any passing stranger with a purse full of coin could just visit the village elder, be told how many recruits were available, and hire the lot on the spot.

    Given the general level of destruction visited on villages on a regular basis in Calradia, this was probably the economic foundation of village life and, indeed, the habit of some casualties, both disappeared, gravely wounded, and in some cases dead or appearing so, to turn up back at their home villages for later recruitment strongly suggested that some of the smarter village elders were running a quite profitable business, as I were to discover in my travels.

    I quite approve.

    Be that as it may, I had barely left the village with four members of the salt of the earth running their hearts out trying to keep up with my spirited courser, when we were ambushed by a band of looters! There were only nine of them or so and all of them save one were, to my shock and appreciation, barechested!

    I ordered my brave fellows to engage the looters while I stayed out of reach taking shots with my crossbow and was reminded with every bolt of just how much I hated firing a crossbow from horseback. Now, the crossbow is a fine weapon for a woman who isn't overmuscled like a man, but a bow is more elegant and easier to use from horseback, so I decided to acquire a hunting bow as soon as possible. While I was trying to fight back, my discount mercenaries were killed every last one of them, but they took four looters with them in death, leaving four barechested lunatics and one with a shirt, more raving than any of the others, eyeing me lustily. Or perhaps it was blood lust? With a certain type of man, it can be hard to tell the difference while they are wearing trousers.

    I considered running away since none of them could keep up with my horse and since I had no intention of suffering either type of lust for little gain, but I was already down 40 denari so rode away from them to a decent distance and shot a looter and I did so again and again until I had put them all out of their misery, even the one wearing a shirt.

    Death and the Shirted Looter


    Which raised the obvious question: Just what sort of bloody idiot runs around half-naked in the desert heat ambushing travelers? It cannot be poverty, for they all wore trousers (and more's the pity), and their trove of goods included a very nice wool tunic and some leathers as well as several shirts, so it cannot be from a lack of opportunity. I concluded that they must have been driven mad by the heat and left the philosophical ramifications to the philosophers, to whom belong all things weird and irrelevant.

    Stripping the dead of their valuables and exchanging some of my clothes for the better cast-offs, I left the bodies of the dead, both looter and farm recruit, to the desert animals. Deeming it unwise to return to Mit Nun for another bunch of recruits so soon and facing the awkward questions of just what I did with the first bunch, I rode to the nearby villages of Dibbain, Rushdigh, and Ayn Assuadi recruiting a new and stronger guard force. The merchant had suggested that I'd need at least 5 man to beat the bandits that took his brother but it wasn't his life on the line, now was it? I had 12 lads in my train as I began hunting for bandits.

    Now, as it turned out the desert was just swarming with bandits in those days, so how was I to find the particular group of bandits that had taken the merchant's brother? I took advantage of a stratagem so deep and unlikely that no man would ever attempt it until all others had failed and then only in the blackest desperation: I asked people for directions. This novel approach led me directly to the bandits at a very low cost and we fell upon the bandits, putting them to the sword!

    To be more precise, my gathering of armed farm lads did so, while I remained safely behind yelling inspirational phrases like “hit them in the trousers” and occasionally winging a bandit with a crossbow bolt. I am no fighter and never was and I saw no reason, then or ever, to risk my life in the front-line without a very good reason.

    One of my stout lads was under the severe misapprehension that I had promised during the heat of the battle that whomever performed the bravest would receive some private sword practice, so to speak, and honesty compels me to admit to my autobiography, if nowhere else, that certain of my yells such as “Fight like a demon out of the icy plains and I'll sheathe your sword in something warm!” or “A soft reward for the hardest amongst you!” could have been so misinterpreted by the terminally dim and lecherous, when I was obviously referring to the desert sand and a good night's sleep, to take just two examples. Whatever the case, he came upon me after the battle demanding his reward with his comrades snickering in the background and even dripping with blood and sweat as he was, I gave him the reward he deserved.

    I melted into his manly arms, gave him a minute-long deep and promising kiss to a roar of appreciation from his friends even as his face contorted with the lack of air and the blood rushed to his nether regions, then kneed him in the privates and stabbed him in the heart as he came up for air, and, shaking my head and with my golden locks streaming in the wind, asked whether anybody else wanted a reward?

    That was rather risky as they could have rushed me and killed me in anger for the death of their friend, but sometimes you just have to take a risk and establishing my uncontested dominance, not only as paymaster but as somebody not to be crossed lightly, was worth it. My actions were so unprecedented and unexpected that rather than reacting in anger, they took refuge in the peasant's safety: bowing their heads and accepting fate. It is the one that stands tall, who is chopped down first, and well do the peasants know it in these cowed lands.

    So nobody took me up on my generous offer, least of all the merchant's brother whom we had freed and who had watched these proceedings with disbelieving eye and we began our return trip to Shariz.

    During the night the brother and my remaining farm lads huddled around their fire, drinking deep and telling tales, while I sat at my own fire with my crossbow at the ready and my horse saddled, just in case, but the men ended up asleep so all was well. Exactly what they had been telling each other that night I shall never know, but it is a safe bet that invention and exaggeration soon took over.

    I include this evening's happenings, innocent and terminally boring though they may be (though I was certainly not calm as I sat there hoping that my fragile dominance would hold!) because it turned out in the end to have far-reaching ramifications in a way I could never have anticipated.

    We returned to Shariz, reuniting the merchant with his brother, and after they had been talking for a while in private, the merchant asked me to, and I swear this isn't a joke, go help seize the captain of the guard, a corrupt man who was the source of all evil and banditry in the region, a thoroughly vicious bastard of a man who liked beating up women just for fun, who went around kicking dogs in his spare time and, incidentally, somebody the merchant was willing to pay rather a lot to capture with a view to presenting him to the Sultan for punishment.

    I believe I have mentioned already how I from an early age discovered that most men are stupid and governed by their feelings rather than taking the obviously superior rational approach? I believe I have, and this merchant gave me no reason to doubt that conclusion. To make a long story short, I was young and I needed the money, so I said yes and together with a bunch of friends of his we bravely beat up the guard captain's guards and took him into custody!

    Well, that was the merchant's version when he presented himself to the Sultan, and who am I to disagree? I certainly wasn't present at that meeting, having taken a convenient ride in the countryside with my few possessions and my bunch of farm lads, busily hunting bandits and ready to speed for the horizon in case of pursuit.

    My version, which I bequeath to my autobiography and you, dear reader, is that we weren't all that heroic, brave, and good at fighting. The merchant's friends bravely engaged the superior guards and got themselves harmed for it; I, rather than wearing my leathers and weapons, made sure to wear only a hidden dagger under a nice blue dress bought for the occasion out of the money the merchant had paid me and, giving it an artistic rip or two, ran from the scene with one of the guard captain's men in hot pursuit.

    It isn't actually easy to rip clothing in just the right degree that it looks natural and just the right degree of sultry. Revealing and suggesting, innocence defiled, rather than tawdry and soliciting, that's the key! Though there is a use for both, depending on situation. Practice makes perfect, however, and while I had already performed some experimentation on a strict amateur basis during my years as a shop assistant, I gained a lot of both practical and theoretical experience in this regard as a lady in waiting and I put it to good use in this situation.

    Racing to the front gates with the guard captain's man in hot pursuit, I cried out that most wonderful charge in the female vocabulary: “RAPE!”. A grizzled veteran, his wars done and retired to a sinecure as town guard, upon seeing this lovely well dressed foreign lady with her bodice ripped and tears streaming from her face, reacted in exactly the way I had planned for. He cut down my pursuer and, upon being told that I had been set upon by an entire gang of ruffians, offered upon his honour to track down every miserable soul and make them pay. He was a good man and true and made good on his word, and that is how most of the guard captain's men were defeated! Having made a friend and gained a champion of sorts, I later found other uses for him.

    Editor's note: A couple of brief paragraphs extolling the virtues of older men and the stamina of veterans who keep themselves fit as well as covering some of the interesting situations they might find themselves in, should they be fortunate enough, while of interest to men of a certain age are not relevant to a greater public. Should the reader be interested, this is covered in the Collector's Edition. With illustrations.

    Be that as it may, the Sultan was simultaneously happy to take the head of his corrupt guard captain and unhappy with the usurpation of his power, for he wanted no vigilantes acting in his capital city, thank you very much. He banished the merchant from the city, and a just reward that is for circumventing the law say I, and I, I was never mentioned with a word.

    Or so I thought.

    For me, bandit hunting had turned out to be unexpectedly lucrative, so I took my lads and went ahunting, putting the matter of the merchant and the Sultan out of my mind.

    Let's hunt some stinking bandits!
    Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 13-06-2010 at 14:13.
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  18. #18
    In the lands of Calradia Wyvern's Avatar
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    A nice set of starting skills for your chosen route. I'm also playing a bow user in my latest game for a change, but far more combat orientated than yours .
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  19. #19
    Colonel MajorMayhem's Avatar
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    Hmm, you really prefer the bow on horseback? Im a through and through crossbowman myslef, even if I dont get the extra hitting power.

    As our hero well knows, its not how hard you hit them, its where you hit them. Good luck!
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  20. #20
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    She's a devious lady and she dabbles in dark arts...
    I took advantage of a stratagem so deep and unlikely that no man would ever attempt it until all methods had failed and then only in the blackest desperation: I asked people for directions.
    The horror... the abiding, enduring horror... That is inhuman, immoral...

    But I like her fighting and management style. The way she dealt with her troublemaking cannon fodder - I'm sure most HR departments wish they could address problems in such an incisive way.

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