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Thread: The Devil's Darkness

  1. #1
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    The Devil's Darkness

    The Devil's Darkness


    A Georgian AAR



    Featuring a cast of kings, queens, Bagratunis, plotters, rogues, Rurikovichs, murderers, saints, Seljuks and sinners.


    On indefinite hold. However, any comments whatsoever are still always appreciated, and indeed are actively encouraged!

    Contents:

    BOOK ONE: Demon's Peak.
    Prologue (below)
    Part 1 (Seven Chapters): Pax Romana
    Part 2 (Three Chapters): A Knife in the Dark
    Part 3 (Ten Chapters): The Red-Eyed Prince
    Part 4 (Eleven Chapters): The Blind Theban
    Epilogue

    BOOK TWO: Five Against Rostov.
    Prologue
    Part 1 (Five Chapters): Kill the Russian
    Part 2 (Seven Chapters): Into the Gates of Hell
    Part 3 (Five Chapters): Living Amongst Shadows
    Part 4 (Six Chapters): The Greek Victorious
    Part 5 (Five Chapters):Affonso's Wrath
    Epilogue

    BOOK THREE: The Rise of the Armenians.
    Prologue
    Part 1 (Nine Chapters): The Lairs of Demons
    Part 2 (Six Chapters): The Turkish Wars
    Part 3 (Ten Chapters): The Whisperer's Tale
    Part 4 (Six Chapters): Fiat Lux
    Part 5 (Five Chapters): Firestorm
    Epilogue


    BOOK ONE:
    Demon's Peak



    Prologue

    The throne room was eerily quiet at this time of day. Most of the nobles were out hunting in the fields near the city, and the council responsible for the realm's regency was discussing the Islamic threat from the south.

    Which just left little Henrique all alone in this quiet stone chamber, idly stroking his chin as he stared into the gaps between the stones of the floor.

    One crack had little ants crawling out of it, a long, long line of them dragging breadcrumbs from the larder, across the floor, and down into their nest beneath the cobblestones. Henrique viewed this with mild interest, before turning his attention elsewhere.

    On the left-hand wall of the room was a tapestry showing the Fall of Constantinople to the Turk. There was the Sultan, surrounded by a sea of blood, while the Emperor of the East stood in a tower, a tall and ferocious man, gazing in righteous fury down at the man invading his great city, with eyes of fire and divine retribution.

    Of course, tapestries never told the whole truth. Like the fact that the Sultan was a good and honourable man, and the Emperor an incompetent fool.

    Henrique smiled. He'd met the Emperor before, back when he was in the east – he was just as incompetent as the last. The Romans didn't deserve their realm.

    He did.

    At only 12 years, Henrique's face was an odd mixture of races – A blend of Asiatic shape and a Western paleness. Even alone, he sat with a regal bearing, reflecting his upbringing in the City of Good Fortune. Even now, he could still hear the sea's sigh, lapping at the shores of the Black Sea, below his ancestral homeland...

    He shook his head, dispelling the thoughts. He had plans to concoct- for when he left this little backwater to return home in the East, he would need to act fast.

    Oh, for the East. That distant, far off land where all the delights of the world lay waiting for him, where Greeks, Turks, and Georgians lay locked in perfect balance – and where his inheritance rightfully lay...

    “My Liege!” The cry of a messenger interrupted his reverie. “My Liege!”

    The messenger entered the room, and kneeled before him, giving all the customary introductory prostrations. “I bring a message from your grandfather's court, sir!”

    The letter was full of mere trivialities: the affair between the King and a young courtier, the Queen's scheming, his father's powerlessness to do anything about it. Yet there was one interesting point- the king was apparently growing weak with age.

    “You have not told me who the author was, messenger. Somebody Portugese, judging by the language?”

    The messenger blushed, and after mumbling some fearful apologies, said “ Your mother, sire.”

    Henrique smiled. “That will be all.”

    After the messenger had gone, Henrique moved over to the window. It was a little tall for somebody of only twelve years to look out of properly, but he could still see some of the little city he had inherited; it was just a dull collection of hovels and houses. Nothing compared to his homeland.

    Henrique Bagratuni, Duke of Porto, the Portugese grandson to King David II, and second-in-line to the throne of Georgia, smiled.

    The world would be his.
    Last edited by Tufto; 17-02-2013 at 19:25.
    House of Ivy: A Europa Universalis IV AAR. My Inkwell.

    "There is nowhere else. You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast."

    "...Well, thank you, Projekt. I am now what is known as Dead. And you were all wrong about the afterlife."

  2. #2
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    PART ONE:

    Pax Romana.

    Chapter One.


    Dramatis Personae

    Henrique, Duke of Porto, grandson of King David and heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Georgia.
    Cristina, Duchess of Porto and wife of Henrique.
    Akakide, second son of King David and Marshal in the Kingdom of Georgia.
    Affonso, first son of Henrique.
    Maria, wife of Akakide and Steward to Georgia after the dismissal of Sancha.
    Demetrios, son- in- law of King David and Spymaster of Georgia.
    David, King of Georgia.
    Elvira, Chancellor of Georgia, widow of Davit, mother of Henrique.
    Sancha,Steward to Georgia and sister to Elvira.
    Alp Arslan, Sultan of the Seljuk Turks.
    The Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire.
    The Archbishop.

    1096 A.D.
    The sea, the sea... It was always the sea...

    It was the soft, gentle sound in the background as the guard who had found the Prince cried in anguish, running through the palace, begging for help.

    It was the peaceful lapping at the shore which could be heard as King David screamed over his dead son's body.

    It was the roar of the waves as the noose silently swung backwards and forwards from the ceiling.

    And it was the gentle lulling sound which the 16 year old Henrique Bagratuni could hear when he recieved the news of his father's suicide.

    He was a long, long way from home here. But this was his home, he supposed; the land of his mother tongue, the place from which his mother had come from, many years ago, to Georgia, and the place from which his grandparents and his aunt had fled from to their daughter's new abode.

    Henrique should have been saddened by the news of his father's death; but one does not outwit dozens of scheming courtiers without hardening himself to certain things, and not without being able to grasp opportunity when it knocks.

    Henrique was not as clever as he may have appeared to many people. He had survived thus far through luck, help and total amorality. But he certainly wasn't stupid, and was able to see the state of affairs of the world quite clearly.

    He had been born in Georgia, son of the crown prince, Davit Bagratuni, and his Portugese wife, Elvira De Coimbra. After a coup which had taken the Duchy of Porto away from his grandfather, and another subsequent coup in Porto, he had been left as the sole claimant to the Duchy.

    He had not gone willingly; leaving the delights of the Land of Good Fortune for some little collection of farmland in the far West had not been to his taste. But, he was now in command of a reasonably powerful duchy, and the heir to the third great realm of the East.

    There were three great kingdoms left in the east, the others having faded into obscurity. Firstly, there was the East Roman Empire. She had suffered long at the hand of the Turk, losing most of Asia Minor and her shining city of Constantinople to them. But she had survived, and was still in possession of a powerful empire spanning most of the Balkans, the Crimea, and a few small patches of Asia Minor.

    Yet the Empire was not as powerful as her arch-rival, the Seljuk Sultanate. She held Persia, most of the Near east, and the majority of Asia Minor, with her capital in Constantinople. She had long held sway over the East, and in her current war with the Roman she seemed, at first, to be crushing all resistance to that crown. Yet with over half of their army gone, Constantinople under Roman occupation and rebels swarming over Armenia and the Greek coast, her position seemed to be under threat. All she needed was another thorn in her side and the great beast may topple over entirely...

    Enter Georgia. The least of the three powers, she nevertheless had significant economic power, with realms coveted by every nation. Her rapid transformation over the last thirty years from backwater to the fabled Land of Good Fortune was incredible to say the least. She had preyed upon small Islamic states in the Caucasus, carving a small empire out for herself.

    She was not in the same league as the other two. But she could still be deadly, given time...

    Henrique Bagratuni smiled his famous smile. Soon, Georgia would be his - and through it, the world...
    Last edited by Tufto; 22-05-2012 at 17:56.
    House of Ivy: A Europa Universalis IV AAR. My Inkwell.

    "There is nowhere else. You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast."

    "...Well, thank you, Projekt. I am now what is known as Dead. And you were all wrong about the afterlife."

  3. #3
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Please comment.
    House of Ivy: A Europa Universalis IV AAR. My Inkwell.

    "There is nowhere else. You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast."

    "...Well, thank you, Projekt. I am now what is known as Dead. And you were all wrong about the afterlife."

  4. #4
    NOP-field present Moderator Qorten's Avatar
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    It's good, but you might want to re-read after or before you post to edit out the typo's. I'd leave a space between every paragraph, that makes it look less like a wall of text. Other then that this might become a nice story to read. You'll get better the more you write so write on (even if there aren't many people who comment).


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  5. #5
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    I'd go with Qorten ... you've some really interesting ideas in there, but it would be kinder on the eye broken up. You might want to look at Threedog43's CK AAR for an idea how to set this up (as his too is pure text).

    Also don't worry about readers/comments at the start too much, just write for your own enjoyment and people will turn up and hang around.

  6. #6
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice, both of you - I'll bear it in mind from now on. I always seem to forget to re-read everything.
    Last edited by Tufto; 23-08-2011 at 18:28.
    House of Ivy: A Europa Universalis IV AAR. My Inkwell.

    "There is nowhere else. You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast."

    "...Well, thank you, Projekt. I am now what is known as Dead. And you were all wrong about the afterlife."

  7. #7
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    PART ONE:

    Pax Romana.

    Chapter Two.

    Kingdom of Georgia – 1096.

    The bedroom of King David was an old, cold chamber. The king tended to keep himself to himself, sitting alone by the empty fireplace. He refused to allow anyone to light it, even if he had company.

    He had been even more silent and alone ever since the death of his son. He would just sit in front of the fireplace, on the floor, a blanket wrapped around himself, staring into the grey stones where the fire had once flickered and flamed.

    On one such occasion, his second son walked in on him.

    The Grand Marshal of Georgia, Akakide Bagratuni, had always been the cleverer of the two brothers. Although a little rough with his words, he was a capable and competent administrator, and was a true realist in the realm of politics. But these skills were nothing compared to his outstanding prowess on the battlefield – he was already known as one of the greatest generals of the East, and was frequently heralded as the most skilled commander that Georgia had known for centuries.

    Of course, this imbued him with a certain kind of confidence which had infuriated his elder brother. Davit had been an equally bright child in many areas, but he simply wasn't in the same league as his little brother.

    And that had infuriated Davit – so he tried hard, so hard, and would often work all the way through the night, just to try to equal his brother's abilities.

    He had burnt out – just like the fire.

    Akakide stood in the doorway for a second, before gently coughing. The king looked up, momentarily startled, before settling his gaze back on the empty fireplace.

    “I was just wondering, father, if there was anything you needed?” Akakide's refusal to use more formal terms was quite often his undoing – he could never quite grasp etiquette and could quickly become infuriated by the long-winded, meaningless speeches of his peers.

    “I am fine.” A short reply, direct and to the point- just like his old self. Akakide smiled.

    “Excellent, father.”

    Just as he was leaving the room, a voice behind him said “Why?”

    Akakide turned. “Why what, father?”

    “Why are you here?”

    Akakide frowned. “To enquire about your health, father...”

    The king leapt to his feet. “You don't get it!” he hissed. “Can't you see that it does not matter! I am an old man! Nothing more! I am not the king of Rome, just a pawn in the puppetry of this... this foul Portugese dog!”

    Akakide began to back away. “F- Father? I'm not sure I understand...”

    “Stop blabbering like an idiot and get out! Now!”

    Akakide ran from the room. Never, in his whole life, had his father ever raised his voice in front of him- he knew him as a kind man...

    David Bagratuni, King of Georgia, sat back down, looking at the letter in his hands. He was an old, old man, and had lost much of his former self, but he still knew one thing.

    Any child who did not shed a tear over their father's death was a cruel, cruel creature...
    Last edited by Tufto; 26-10-2011 at 19:48.
    House of Ivy: A Europa Universalis IV AAR. My Inkwell.

    "There is nowhere else. You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast."

    "...Well, thank you, Projekt. I am now what is known as Dead. And you were all wrong about the afterlife."

  8. #8
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    it'll be fascinating to see where you're going with this, lots of good imagery in there too

  9. #9
    Major Alfredian's Avatar
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    Akakide will have to watch his back once Henrique is King.

    Good character development so far, and the scene nicely set for whichever way you want to take this.

    RE comments I can only echo the others(and maybe Kevin Costner) - if you build it they will come.
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  10. #10
    Patron Saint of Suenik Iain Wilson's Avatar
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    I'm looking forward to seeing where this is going - Georgia rocks!
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  11. #11
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been away. Hopefully there will be an update either today or tomorrow.
    House of Ivy: A Europa Universalis IV AAR. My Inkwell.

    "There is nowhere else. You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast."

    "...Well, thank you, Projekt. I am now what is known as Dead. And you were all wrong about the afterlife."

  12. #12
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    PART ONE:

    Pax Romana.

    Chapter Three.


    The Council Chambers, 3 days later.

    Akakide was not the most well-regarded of people in David's court.

    He knew this, and thus he also knew exactly what each person sitting around the table thought of him - mostly about how he was a villainous cad who did not deserve to be such a high- ranking member of the court.

    In fairness to them, he had slept with most of the women, and the wives of the men.

    Firstly, there was the King. David was now an old man, and prone to long silences, punctuated by the occasional mournful phrase at opportune moments. David had been a kind and generous man, but now he was harsh to everyone - even his own son, whom he now seemed to despise.Although that was fair enough, as everyone knew that Akakide had slept with his new stepmother, David's wife.

    On David's right sat Elvira de Coimbra. The beautiful and kind wife of Davit, she had long been a useful asset to the kingdom, acting as a superb chancellor. She was theone who could to take most of the credit for Georgia's new position as a Great Power of the East, by a mix of charm, threats and lies. She had been the one who had organised Akakide's marriage with his lover, Zemfira, despite David's wishes that he should marry some Byzantine noblewoman. How had he repaid her? By seducing her mere days after her husband's death. She truly hated him nowadays.

    If Elvira was the good sister, then Sancha was the bad one. She was just as charming and gracious as Elvira, and lusted after the Chancellorship violently. She simply couldn't find interesting foreign dignitaries to sleep with in her current role as steward. Devious and cunning, she had few moral qualms - and was often trying to find new ways to get back at Akakide, who had rejected her advances when he still had Zemfira.

    The Archbishop was not a pleasant man. He had just as many lovers as Akakide, and was also ironically the least religious member of the court. But his hypocrisy knew no bounds, and thus was hellbent on getting Akakide sacked and replaced with someone a little more... rule abiding. To be fair to the Archbishop, this was partly due to the fact that Akakide had stolen at least three women away from him.

    The final member of the council chamber entered the room. Demetrios was Akakide's only ally in the council. He was an upright, sensible and quiet man, and their friendship was thus an oddly suited one. But the two both shared a love for books and hunting, and also both tended to agree on main policy issues.

    Most of these council meeting were simply a battleground, with Elvira and the Archbishop on one side of the table and Demetrios and Akakide on the other, each side determined to persuade the king that their point of view was superior to the other. Sancha normally tended to sway between the two, and the king was often quiet in these battles, merely passing the final judgement.

    Today, however, Akakide knew something was wrong. They normally met in the late afternoon- so why had the King called a meeting this early in the day? And why was the king being so secretive with the reason?

    When Demetrios was seated, and the usual formalities had occurred, the King began to speak.

    "I'm sure you all wish to know why I have called you here today" he began, in his deep grave voice. "It is because I intend to declare war on the Sultanate of the Seljuk Turks."

    Silence rang around the table, before Akakide bluntly stated "You cannot be serious."

    "I'm deadly serious. They are already being blunted by the Byzantines, and the evidence suggests that they won't be able to hold a war on two fronts. We need room for expansion, and a war to give our squabbling houses a common cause... what reason is there why we shouldn't?"

    "There are a thousand reasons!" Akakide spluttered. "Our army is nowhere near strong enough to take on even half of the Seljuk forces! And I'm sure the Alans would be angry..." He shot half a glance at Elvira here.

    "Actually, I don't think they would really care." Elvira spoke coldly, staring straight into Akakide's brown eyes with her icy blue ones. "You know that they won't join us, just make some excuse as to why they cannot help. They may even help our aspirations to make them swear allegiance to your family- with us seen as the sole protector of the East against the Muslims, they would be even more dependent on us."

    "You must be joking." Akakide looked around the table. They all seemed convinced, with the exception of Demetrios.

    "My spy networks in Arslan's realm have taken years to prepare. They will begin rooting them our the moment the war starts. You will destroy years of hard work, my liege..."

    "Be that as it may, we have a duty to the Patriarch and the Romans to aid them in this most... holy of wars." A touch of sarcasm could be heard in the Archbishop's voice, but he still seemed to think it a good idea.

    "The realm's finances can certainly take it." piped up Sancha.

    "Have you all lost your minds?" Akakide exploded in frustration. "These are the Seljuks we're talking about! They conquered half of the Roman provinces in less than a decade! We won't last a year-"

    "Enough." David's voice rang across the table. "We shall send an ultimatum to Arslan's court immediately - either he stops his attack on the Romans or we shall declare war. Marshal Bagratuni," - he had not addressed him so formally in years, Akakide noted- "I want a full-scale mobilisation of all the troops in my realm, and Elvira, please inform Kartili that I want their troops to be ready if needed. We shall meet again in half an hour- I have some urgent business to attend to."

    As David left the room, Akakide shared a glance with Demetrios. Other than the sheer insanity of the predicament they were about to plunge headfirst into, there was another pressing question on both their minds.

    What "urgent business" could possibly be more important than impending war with the Seljuks?


    Also, an overview of the characters of Pax Romana will be put in the first chapter, which'll be updated if any new ones appear as I play.
    House of Ivy: A Europa Universalis IV AAR. My Inkwell.

    "There is nowhere else. You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast."

    "...Well, thank you, Projekt. I am now what is known as Dead. And you were all wrong about the afterlife."

  13. #13
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    Akakide does seem to be the sane one (at least when not carrying out his other main pastime) amongst this bunch, but then hitting the Turks when they are struggling with the Byzantines is as good a time as any

  14. #14
    Black Hound of Han Enewald's Avatar
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    Well, I shall comment. Keep up the good work.

  15. #15
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    loki100- It may seem that way, but given the strength of my empire right now it's still a risky gamble.

    Enewald- Thank you!

    Hopefully I'll be able to update today, but if not, then there won't be another until next Monday, as I won't have any access to my laptop for a week.
    House of Ivy: A Europa Universalis IV AAR. My Inkwell.

    "There is nowhere else. You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast."

    "...Well, thank you, Projekt. I am now what is known as Dead. And you were all wrong about the afterlife."

  16. #16
    Major Alfredian's Avatar
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    King David's court is really not a happy place. I half thought he might be declaring war on the Seljuks simply because he had had enough of living. A chnace to go out with a bang.
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  17. #17
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    PART ONE:

    Pax Romana.

    Chapter Four.



    The Year of our Lord 1100.

    Constantinople.

    The room was a vast one, filled with Byzantine might and splendour. Great Christian mosaics lined the walls- they had been too good for the Sultan to destroy, despite their heretical content.

    In the centre of the room was a great table, used for royal banquets. Today, however, it had a far graver purpose than merriment or revelry.

    At one end of the table was the Sultan of the Seljuks. A mighty warrior, though a little plump in his old age, Alp Arslan was dressed in the finest Turkish garments, surrounded by an army of slaves and courtiers.

    Alp Arslan's eyes were thin and glaring, darting from one member of the party opposite him to the other. The current Emperor of the Greeks was nothing like the man who he had taken the City of Worldly Desire from, all those years ago.

    No, this man was wiser, and had more experience of the world. Yet despite this, he was far less grand and haughty. His clothes were poorer than the Sultan's, lacking the fine Eastern silk, instead made of cheap cotton from the Croatian provinces in Egypt. They gave a semblance of grandeur, but he well knew it was fake.

    "And so, your highness, have we come to a conclusion of our deliberations?"

    The Emperor's voice was old and tired. The Sultan's, in contrast, was bright and active.

    "You agree to cede the Thracian lands, then? All rights and deeds to them to be granted to our royal person, and a new sheikhdom under our rule to be created just to the West?"

    The Roman closed his eyes momentarily, with the hint of a sigh on his lips. "Yes."

    Arslan smiled. "Excellent. There is, however, one final issue."

    The Roman opened his eyes wide, his thick Russian accent clearly recognisable as he exclaimed in surprise, "But we have already agreed on terms!"

    "Indeed so. However, this is merely a confirmation of certain intelligence we have aquired."

    "Which is?"

    Arslan had ceased to smile, staring piercingly at the Emperor. " Four years ago, we received a message from the King of Georgia stating that he wished to go to war with our Sultanate. However, 3 days afterwards, we received another message stating that the original message was a forgery, sent by the Emperor of the Romans to cause... trouble in our empire." The Sultan smiled. "Is this true? I assure you that we shall not let any information on this subject influence this treaty."

    The Emperor seemed confused. "We do not know what you are talking about, Sultan."

    Alp Arslan stared at him intently for several seconds, letting the silence roll by. The Emperor continued to look puzzled, yet wary.

    Then, the Sultan smiled once again. "Just checking. Now, if we could wrap this up? I have other business to attend to."


    -------------------


    "She's fine, my liege. As is the child." said the midwife.

    Henrique Bagratuni smiled at her. "Excellent. I shall make sure you are well rewarded for this."

    He waved at a guard to escort her from the room, before entering his wife's chambers.

    She was sleeping, bless her. Cristina was the one person who could ever pluck a heartstring in Henrique.

    And at her chest was the boy.

    Henrique grinned at him. "Affonso", he said. "Affonso Bagratuni. What shall you be, child?"

    Affonso Bagratuni, his newborn son, merely gazed up at him. Somewhat accusingly, he thought. And those eyes... such an odd colour...

    Bright red eyes. Eyes of fire and blood...
    Last edited by Tufto; 19-09-2011 at 22:52.
    House of Ivy: A Europa Universalis IV AAR. My Inkwell.

    "There is nowhere else. You will only tread a circle, Titus Groan. There's not a road, not a track, but it will lead you home. For everything comes to Gormenghast."

    "...Well, thank you, Projekt. I am now what is known as Dead. And you were all wrong about the afterlife."

  18. #18
    Black Hound of Han Enewald's Avatar
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    The eyes of babies open in 2-3 days.
    And a baby should not be next a to a noblewoman that just gave birth... shame on those manners.

  19. #19
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    whoops ... does this mean the Turks are heading to Georgia next?

  20. #20
    Major Alfredian's Avatar
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    Can't go wrong with a Sultan meets defeated Emperor update.

    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    whoops ... does this mean the Turks are heading to Georgia next?
    I think so. I am not sure the forged message defence is going to count for a lot.
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