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Thread: The Grey Eminence - A Narrative/History AAR 1399-1821

  1. #341
    First Lieutenant Sather's Avatar
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    Cause it fits better for the story.

  2. #342
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    Nice presentation of William, all very consistent with those awesome stats. And how fitting that a 'James' is to be a flawed weak King. Now 1602 ....?
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  3. #343
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    Loki: Thanks! And yes...1602 will be a year long remembered....
    c0d5579/Sather: It fitted more the story. Neither gave me great advantage, and money extracted from Utrecht would get me more prestige with the spy one. Also...I had an idea of what I wanted to happen in 1602....

    Chapter 24 – Bad Tidings

    25/1/1820


    After the surreal experiences of the night before John could be excused for thinking that it had been a dream. Indeed, when he had first woken up he had thought for a few moments that it had been just a strange dream. Surely immortal women from the future was just the result of his fevered imagination.
    Yes John knew that it was not so. When he had dressed and headed down he had this comforting illusion stripped away by seeing Lady Mendenhall and Tempest. She did not seem as menacing now in the morning sunlight, but to him she had changed slightly, or perhaps just his perception of her had altered. Now she seemed to be serene, inscrutable, even more than before.
    “Good morning, John. Sleep well?” she asked with a smile.
    John looked around to make sure they were alone, they were. “Lady, I still have a lot of questions.”
    “Naturally. Come, walk with me while breakfast is prepared.”

    As they walked out on the long terrace and into Grey Palace’s gardens, John noticed that Tempest was not with them.
    “She’s gone to collect my messages from the electrograph station. Now, what questions do you have?”
    “Lady, I still do not understand how you are still alive. Are all people in the future like you? How did this happen to you?”
    They walked in silence for a moment. “No, I am the only one like this now. I think the actual process is not the most important thing, John. I don’t think you would understand, and since I cannot pass it on it would do you no good to know. Perhaps think of it as magic.”
    John did not look happy at that at all. “I don’t believe in magic,” he stated.
    “Yet you are a Christian, where far stranger things occurred in your bible. Very well, think of it as ambrosia, John. I had a job that I had to do…a task I had to perform, and I did it. But I did not die as I expected, rather I ended up in 1399, in London with this newfound…gift.”
    “What task?” John pressed.
    Her Ladyship shook her head though. “No, it doesn’t matter anyway. The future I knew is changed, even should I live to then it would not be the same. So, I must make do with what I have.”

    Seeing that she was not going to give up more John reached into his pocket. He pulled out the small brooch of Queen Caroline.
    “I assume then that this is yours?” he asked.
    “Very clever, John Adams. You are a credit to your family. Yes, that particular one was mine, a special gift from a very special woman.” She seemed to be looking back into her memories for a moment and sighed.
    “Well then, you should have it back,” John said, offering it.
    Surprisingly, she shook her head. “No, John. It’s yours now. Keep it, I say. It was taken from me once, I would feel better if you had it with you.”
    Nodding, John returned it to his pocket. “May I ask why she gave it to you?”
    For a moment Lady Mendenhall said nothing, then a wicked smile crossed her face. “As a thank you, and a sign of her affection.”
    John nodded, not sure why she was so amused. “I see. I read in your book that there was an incident…”
    “Yes. After that we became very close.”
    John remembered the secret chamber, the letter between her and the Queen. He nodded. “I will keep it with me, Lady.”

    As they were walking back Tempest came up and handed a message to her Ladyship. She excused herself to read it. Tempest looked at John suspiciously, as though she disapproved of his knowing the truth.
    A moment later the Lady returned. She looked concerned for the first time he could remember.
    “Bad news, I’m afraid. Trouble back in London demands my attention.”
    “What’s happened?” John asked.
    “The Queen is sick, and should she die Prince Charles will ascend the throne, but he is too young. A prominent man is angling to be part of any Regency, and he has been asking questions about me. Questions that until now have not gone anywhere but….”
    “Even as Regent he wouldn’t have any real power, would he? Parliament is the real ruler in Great Britain.”
    “He has influential friends though. I need to go back there and see what is happening.” She turned to Tempest. “We leave tomorrow. Send messages ahead so everything is ready.” When Tempest had gone her Ladyship turned back to John again. “I’m sorry our visit here has been cut so short, John. You are welcome to stay, or return with me to London.”
    “I will come with you, Lady. Once this is sorted out…”
    She nodded. “Yes, then we can consider what happens next. Be ready, we’ll leave tomorrow morning.”
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  4. #344
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    Ayy! Action, I like them forming a team! Did I tell you already that this AAR is superb?

  5. #345
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    great update ... the only problem is that in the West of Scotland when you send 'someone to get your messages' it actually means to go shopping ... that rather alters the flow of the opening scenes

    But it looks like John has bought into here version and her plans -- I see one putative regent having a coach crash in the near future
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  6. #346
    Dremora Courtier Arakhor's Avatar
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    I thought they were up in the Orkneys? That's not very west Scotland.
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  7. #347
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    Sethanon: Thanks!
    Loki: Yeah, that's not the context she's using...she's not Scottish after all.
    Arakhor: Right! That too.

    No update today as I'll be away from my lappy all day. I've got 35 updates in advance written, but I'm not able to get it posted today.
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  8. #348
    People's Commissar of the Navy Demi Moderator Avindian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashantai View Post
    Sethanon: Thanks!
    Loki: Yeah, that's not the context she's using...she's not Scottish after all.
    Arakhor: Right! That too.

    No update today as I'll be away from my lappy all day. I've got 35 updates in advance written, but I'm not able to get it posted today.
    35 updates already written?! Wow, and I thought I worked hard just to keep two measly AARs updated on a weekly or so basis! I bow before you!
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  9. #349
    Captain bananafishtoday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashantai View Post
    I've got 35 updates in advance written
    New hypothesis: Ashantai is an immortal time traveler and his AAR is a thinly-veiled autobiography.

    Also oh man oh man Mad King James soon!!
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  10. #350
    Dremora Courtier Arakhor's Avatar
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    That is a staggering number of pre-written updates.
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  11. #351
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    I wanted to finish this AAR, so that's why I finished the game, the pictures, and did 10 updates before I started posting here. I was determined, just once, to finish something here!

    Anyway, update in the morning, thanks for your patience. Work and family issues hammered me today.

    And of course it builds up suspence for the next 3 updates which are some of my very favourites.
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  12. #352
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    Quote Originally Posted by bananafishtoday View Post
    New hypothesis: Ashantai is an immortal time traveler and his AAR is a thinly-veiled autobiography.
    I second this Thesis, seems very likely to me.

  13. #353
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    I just applied for an online-hacking course to hack my way into your pre-written updates and devour them all! Can't wait for the new update!

    (I agree on above mentioned thesis too)

  14. #354
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    Sather: That's crazy talk! Now excuse me while I discuss this matter with my...friends.

    Chapter 24a – The Crisis of 1602

    Summarised from Chapter 6 of ’Britannia Triumphant’ by Lady Mendenhall.


    King William fought many wars in his career as Prince and Monarch. In over thirty battles he had not been defeated, and was famously popular with his soldiers. Thus, the campaign against Utrecht and their allies in Cologne seemed almost routine. Duly, the army of Utrecht was routed and dispersed, and the King headed through Brabant to engage the forces of the Archbishop of Cologne.
    The dawn of the 18th of May 1602 dawned like so many others. The British were confident of victory, outnumbering their less well equipped enemies by more than two to one. The Colognian army was led by no single leader, but by an uneasy assembly of churchmen and mercenaries of German and Dutch origin.

    The battle is one of the better described in history, so a brief account will suffice here. The Colognian army was drawn up behind a long stone wall between the village of Staar and a large windmill. With one side protected by the Meuse River, and the other by a dense forest, the only way to advance was straight ahead.
    Initially Lord Manchester leading the forward column hesitated, but under orders from the King he led forward three Great Companies of French and English soldiers. After a fierce struggle the Colognian troops were pushed back, and most surrendered or were killed.
    However, this otherwise minor battle, taking no more than an hour, had one major casualty; King William himself. During the breakthrough he had led the charge personally, but somehow his horse had bolted and he was attacked and killed in the woods by some Colognian stragglers. His sword and ring were taken from the body.



    The result of this battle was catastrophic. The body was dispatched swiftly to London, while the army returned to Antwerp to await orders. The conservative Lord Manchester did not press on to Cologne, and guidance was sought.

    What this all meant is that James I of Great Britain came to the throne, aged 25. Few monarchs have had such advantages as he, and yet thrown them away so spectacularly. The character of James is somewhat instructive here. Unlike his forebears he was not a wise man, nor was he a particularly charismatic one. He had some good traits such as being able to play music and write poetry with better than average skills. He was also kind to animals and well meaning.
    However, his negative traits have come down, first and foremost to us. He was also stubborn, arrogant, uncomfortable with women, superstitious and suffered from a skin condition he blamed on evil witches hexing him.
    Despite this he had been married to Isabella, daughter of the King of Castille, Philip V. Though a vassal, Philip was a strong, committed ruler, and under his reign the break with Britain seemed inevitable. Still, at the start, he was content to let his daughter marry James, which they did in 1599.







    Problems began very soon after the coronation. With Holland occupied by British forces, King William had initially been willing to demand reparations and an apology for the spy mission. However, King James went before Parliament and gave his greatest speech. Unfortunately, it was the exact opposite of his father’s moderate plan. James bullied and demanded that Holland be annexed to the British crown, thinking that this would have little effect.
    With no justification, and with Britain already being treated as a threat this was the final straw.

    It seemed that all at once most of Europe declared war on Great Britain. Many of these had been incited by the Bohemian Emperor or the rulers of Austria and Sicily, but others joined the coalition simply to limit British power.
    Faced with this onslaught, Britain was hard put to it to survive. Parliament had to approve emergency taxation leading to riots. As local nobles were faced with invasion for the first time some even sent feelers out to the Holy Roman Emperor to ensure they would be on the correct side regardless of what happened.
    With revolts across the country and in the colonies Great Britain teetered on the brink of collapse. For the first time in centuries England faced the real prospect of being forced into a catastrophic defeat.
    What was worse Portugal, the ancient ally, cut its ties with Britain, leaving them to fend with only Castille as an ally.













    The King’s behaviour did not help matters either. Shortly after his marriage his wife Isabella had given birth to a son, but the King paid little attention to them and tried to interfere instead in dealing with the crisis. His ill judged interference soon annoyed both his advisors and his generals in the field. It was well that the British forces were at such a high peak of efficiency, or else they could never have coped with the mass of invasions pouring over the border.







    Finally the situation became so dire that something had to be done. By 1605 Britain was exhausted, and though undefeated the troops were mutinous, as were their commanders. Nobles and peasants alike were sick of the constant fighting, and all blamed the King.
    In the end the solution was to mollify Britain’s enemies, a terrible blow to pride and prestige. Holland was given back to Utrecht while several areas of the British Empire gained independence, including Ceylon, Foix and Navarra. With this done the King was forced by Parliament and his nobles to concede.
    This though, was just the start….



    (This is the second time where I've done something which deliberately hurt me. I had toyed with the idea of having a major defeat and losing a lot of territory...but I decided that this was the best way to handle it. Enjoy!)
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  15. #355
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    oh whoops ... and congrats on following the logic of your role playing the King's character
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  16. #356
    People's Commissar of the Navy Demi Moderator Avindian's Avatar
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    How, exactly, are you writing them in advance? I've tried doing it in Word, but I always have to double enter for spaces, which is quite irritating at times.

    The update, of course, was excellent!
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  17. #357
    Finally caught up in two marathons. Magnificent AAR and a splendid story. I had my suspicions from an early start and saw a lot of "possible" happenings but didn't wanna comment until I caught up and, well, now everything I thought has either already been addressed or proven false.

    Either way, splendid AAR so far! *goes off to finish EE part 2*
    War, it's faaaaantastic.

  18. #358
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    Adam Clason: Welcome back! Glad you liked it.
    Avindian: I write them in word and then paste them into advanced post. Nothing too special.
    Loki: Thanks!

    And now for one of the longest of the chapters....

    Chapter 25 – Echoes of the Past: The Fall of King William

    18/5/1602


    King William de Vere woke as the early light of dawn started to diffuse into the room. As King he had naturally gotten the nicest residence near the encampment; the house of an old Dutch merchant. It was no palace, but compared with the many days he had spent in just a tent it was very welcome.
    Sitting up, the King looked down at the woman sleeping beside him. She too woke at his movement and peered at him. Her brown eyes and dark hair contrasted with the mostly white pillows and sheets.
    “Good morning, your Majesty,” she said with a smile.
    “It is indeed, Lady Sophia,” he said. He gave her an affectionate kiss, and she replied by getting closer to him. Finally though he pulled back. “Not now, my dear. I have a battle to fight. Tonight we might celebrate more.”
    He stood and pulled a blanket around himself before heading to the water bucket in the corner. For a man of forty-four he still looked and acted like he had when he had first led his sister’s armies to victory. Several scars and other wounds marred him, but he moved with certainty.
    Lady Sophia watched from the bed, covering herself with the other blanket.
    “I trust you are not going to lead the charge again?” she asked.
    “If necessary, then yes, woman, I shall.” The King washed himself from the water bucket, disdaining the need for servants or heated water for the task.
    “I must advise you again not to do so,” Sophia said, rising. She held the blanket around herself to provide some modesty should they be interrupted. Though it was pretty clear what they had been up to.
    The King looked at her. “I have never known you to be frightened, my Lady,” he said mockingly.
    She shrugged. “Call it what you will, Majesty. I am concerned of what might happen should you fall today.”
    “My son will be King.” William turned to her and pointed at her sternly. “Yes, he shall be King, and you will not interfere with that. He will learn, he will grow into the role.”
    “As you say, Majesty,” Sophia replied soothingly.
    The King shook his head. “You are a strange woman. But of course grandmother did say as much. Though I will say you are definitely worth keeping around.” He put his hand around her, and she did not resist.
    “I have found you to be a most interesting man also,” Sophia replied, chuckling.
    “You put it rather differently last night,” he pointed out.
    “So I did.”

    After a moment Sophia stepped away and went back to the bed. There she unearthed a dress and pulled it on while the King dressed in his buff coat and trousers.
    “I should come with you,” Sophia said.
    “And dirty that fine dress?” the King asked.
    Sophia gave him a stern look. “I am more than capable of defending myself, and you,” she pointed out.
    “And how would I look then; the King which needs a woman to protect him? No, as I’ve said before each time, no.”
    “I suppose my duty as a woman is to wait here?” she said acidly.
    William went to her and gave her a kiss. “You are beyond my commands, Lady Mendenhall. But I say to you, wait. I shall return.”
    And so she watched him leave, perhaps with a frown of concern.

    “Your Majesty, the enemy is drawn up,” Lord Carlisle, his aide, said.
    The King glanced down from the hill overlooking the field and grunted. The light mist was burning off and it looked like it would be a fine day and quite warm as well. The Colognian army was deployed with the River Meuse on their left and a dense forest to the right. In the centre of their position was the village of Staar, with a long wall joining it with a large windmill near the forest. Behind this wall the enemy was arrayed, arquebuses at the wall, pikemen behind. Further back still the enemy cavalry was assembled, but this was no battle for horsemen.
    “Lord Manchester!” the King called. His chief subordinate trotted up, an older man, more conservative than his sovereign, he was nonetheless competent.
    “Majesty?”
    “Advance the main battle on the enemy if you please. The horse will move around the enemy’s right. I want this over by lunchtime,” he declared.
    “Yes, Majesty,” the Earl of Manchester said, turned his mount and galloped off.
    “Majesty, the guns?” Carlisle asked.
    King William looked the artillery over dismissively. They were not his style of weapon, so his army had no large weapons, just small falconettes and sakers. “Open on their foot. See if these Dutchmen are scared of a little fire and noise.”

    The battle begun, but Lord Manchester seemed to be taking things a good deal more slowly than King William wanted. First he advanced skirmishers to duel with the defenders at the stone wall. It was a battle the British in the open field could not hope to win.
    Impatient, the King trotted down to the waiting great companies of his pikemen. The few Colognian guns fired the occasional salvo, but to no noticeable effect.
    “My Lord Manchester!” the King called, riding over. “Why are we not driving this rabble from the field?”
    The older man pointed at the village and wall. “The gunmen are finding slow going, Majesty,” he said reproachfully.
    “God in heaven, man! Go forward with pike and sword! Don’t skirmish like cowardly women, press on! Advance the great companies now!”
    Unable to refuse such a command, the Earl turned, but the King was already ahead of him.
    “My Lord Rouen, my Lord Reims, take your men forward, straight at the wall and into their foot. Drive them back, I will bring up the Gascons and Scotch myself!” he ordered in French.

    Within moments the first two great companies were in motion, the great phalanxes of pikes moving forward over the flat ground. The British skirmishers saw the mass coming and hurriedly parted to either side lest they be trampled underfoot.
    The Colognian guns fired, but even though each shot inflicted horrible losses in the packed tericos they were too few and too slow to stop the onslaught. At the wall the arquebusers fired a volley and then ran for their lives. Pikemen fell, but the mass rolled onwards, cresting the wall and catching some of the slower gunmen before they could flee.
    This was what the Colognian pikemen had been waiting for, and they advanced on the British as they tried to cross the wall and yet maintain cohesion.
    What followed next was a terrible scrum of close range carnage. Pikes and swords drove into armour and flesh. Blood flowed from this vicious melee but neither side could gain an edge. Meanwhile the Colognian gunmen in the village and windmill continued to fire, disrupting and confusing the British soldiers. The crisis of the battle had come.

    King William though was supremely in control. He knew from twenty years of experience what the breaking point was, and it was not yet. However, it was time to make the next move.
    “My Lord Lennox! Detach all the arquebuses in your great company and take them to the left. Go through the forest and come from behind the windmill. Fire into the rear of the enemy, and move quickly!” He gave similar orders to Lord Montcair, except dispatched them to the right flank.
    “Now forward! Go forward!” the King called, waving his sword. “I shall lead you!” The soldiers cheered as King William led yet more troops into the melee in the centre.

    In that cauldron of fire in the centre the grinding battle of pikes continued. Neither side could displace the other in the narrow space, and so for the moment the battle was stalemated.
    Then however, as the King knew it would, things changed. First his swarm of arquebuses flooded around the village and windmill and opened a galling fire on the flanks of the Colognian pikemen. These troops more than suppressed the fire coming in return, though neither stronghold was theirs quite yet.
    And then the death blow came. King William reflected that gold was truly the key to victory. A mere handful of coins had persuaded one of the enemy mercenaries to show his horsemen a path around the forested hill and into the rear of the enemy. Those mercenaries, especially the cavalry, had been unpaid by the Archbishop for weeks, so a liberal infusion of cash had assured their compliance.
    Appearing on the hills behind the Colognian guns and struggling pikemen appeared his ranks of pistoliers, lancers and dragoons.

    It was all over very quickly. A great cheer went up from the British, a moan of dismay from their enemies. In minutes the Colognian army was breaking and fleeing. Into this mass the cavalry, infantry and artillery inflicted a wicked slaughter. As they dropped their pikes they became vulnerable, and every fallen British soldier was avenged three fold in a matter of minutes. Meanwhile the Colognian cavalry wisely, if somewhat cowardly, dispersed and escaped. They were the lucky ones.

    Through the fields of carnage the King rode, cheered by his men. The glorious flag billowed in the wind as the enemy was hunted from the field.
    However, King William heard a crash of musketry and saw a group of Colognian troops escaping into the woods. Never content with mere victory, the King drew his sword.
    “You men, with me! Forward!” he cried.
    A hundred men, a mix of arquebuses and pikes followed him, but he soon outpaced them on horseback.
    From the far hill the British guns fired one last time. By luck more than design one hit an abandoned powder wagon near a broken Colognian gun, causing it to erupt in a great explosion.
    The King was a great horseman, but his loyal steed Rufus was panicked by the flames and noise and bolted, straight into the trees, far ahead of aid.

    By the time the King had controlled his horse he found that he was not alone. He had quite outstripped his men, but now found himself before a group of six or seven fugitive enemies.
    For a moment they looked at each other, the Colognian soldiers clearly wishing to escape, and the King determined for total victory.
    And so King William, never one to back down, lowered his sword and charged, letting out a fierce cry.
    One of the fugitives had an arquebus and fired it wildly as the King bore down on him. The bullet smacked into King William’s chest, piercing a lung and breaking a rib. As his horse reared one of the other men slashed its face with his sword.
    The King fell, the sword dropping from his hand and he lay on the ground, his breath coming in ragged bursts.
    As the gunman raised his weapon to finish off his enemy there was a sudden noise. British troops opened fire and flooded into the clearing. The Colognian soldier bent down and snatched the royal sword and yanked off the signet ring, and then ran for it.

    “Majesty?” one of them asked, kneeling beside him.
    His eyes were darkening, but the King had one more lucid thought. That damn woman had been right. His grandmother had warned him about that…a message she had gotten from her father before her. Questions about Lady Mendenhall faded though as he thought about his son.
    “My son…King,” he managed to choke out. And then King William III spoke no more, dying there in the woods of Brabant before a surgeon could reach him.

    Victory had indeed become bitter, for the King was dead.

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  19. #359
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
    Rome GoldWarlock: Master of the ArcanePride of NationsRise of PrussiaCK2: Holy Knight

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    really epic battle description ... and leaves even more doubts about her ladyships actual motives
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  20. #360
    Colonel Memento Mori's Avatar
    EU3 CompleteEuropa Universalis: Rome

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    I am fairly sure that Lady Mendenhall did not orchester the king's death, it was far too much dependent on luck. King charging on his own after a group of enemy soldiers? A random bullet hitting a powder keg? Even the last act, with 7 soldiers low on morale fighting one experienced knight did not exactly guarantee that he would die or even lose. People like Lady Mendenhall would rather have everything under controll. Perhaps poisoning before the battle with a slow-acting substance would do the trick?

    In any case, I always found it much harder to lose then to win in this game, as it feels really bad to do stupid things on purpose during a serious game. If I want to leave mmy kingdom in ruins, I prefer the sissy way of turning off the pause button and watching a program on discovery channal, with all my forces standing still. But of course this could not work during an aar

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