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Thread: The Red Mexican

  1. #41
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Sorry for the delay: a mixture of uncertain exam results and CKII have distracted me. Still, things should be a little better now.

    TKFS: Thanks! And a few more things will be revealed soon...

    loki100: I'm afraid not- check back a few chapters, De La Fuente was the only officer who Goya actually thought highly of, and his only friend in the army.

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Thirteen.


    18th December 1837.

    Now, they came to him freely. He didn't even have to try to whip up the crowd any more.

    The Firebrand looked at himself in the mirror, critically. His short, dark goatee, already flecked with grey, went nicely with the sober black of his robes. He held a grey, austere Bible in his left hand; clean and neat, he certainly looked the part.

    His war had been lost, of course. Texas was now the latest state of the godless Protestant Yankees, but it had served its purpose anyway. His name was now whispered from town to town; the Saviour of the Masses, the Priest of Holy War.

    But, as he was painfully aware, Mexico City was not a rural desert outpost. Mexico City was a sprawling hive of hedonism; the kind of people who would not respond well to his rhetoric.

    But, by the Lord, he would try. He had to try.

    "Sir, shall we go out?"

    Jean-Baptiste was a good boy. An immigrant from France, he had proved an invaluable assistant. He always spoke in a Mexican accent in public, of course; if the people knew that he had a foreigner in his entourage, they wouldn't take his nationalist message quite so seriously.

    "I think we are ready."

    The Firebrand stood up, and walked towards the door. He closed his eyes for the briefest of moments, muttering a quick prayer to the Almighty. Then, he spread his arms wide, and smiled.

    Time to shine the light of Mother Church.

    -----


    Captain Miguel De La Fuente, son of the Duque of La Fuente, frowned.

    His Mestizo heritage was still faintly visible upon his pale face, giving him a slightly serious expression at the happiest of times. But at a time like this, he looked a fierce sight.

    Goya was becoming more and more powerful, and Miguel wasn't sure if he was best pleased at this. Goya had been his friend, his only real friend, but still... he shuddered at the thought of the things that man was capable of.

    And now he wanted information. Information not on Xavier, or the Liberals, but on the Queen Regent, the Sicilian who ruled in the infant Isabella's name. And also, his own party leader; Rodrigo. Somewhat strange, as he could've wrapped the arrogant sod around his little finger, and found out all he needed to know for himself. But then, he reasoned, Rodrigo was powerful, and well protected.

    Miguel was not a strong man. He'd been ordered around by those larger than him for his whole life; his brother, his parents, the army... he didn't have the stomach for rebellion.

    So what should he do? His loyalties were split; his friend or his Queen?

    For Miguel knew things. The Dukes of La Fuente were powerful, rich, and important. He had heard whispers, decoded those dinnertime conversations of his father, listened intently to those who held power. He knew what Goya wanted to know, and he knew what would happen if he told him.

    Part of him balked at the thought. But another part of him saw something beyond that; that part saw a chain of dominoes, all lined up and ready to fall as soon as he gave the word. That part saw what could be, what would be...

    Slowly, with trembling hands, he began to write back to Goya. He told him it all; of how Rodrigo had slept with the Queen Regent, of how he'd found out all of her darkest secrets, of how he was blackmailing her to do whatever he wished. Of how the wastrel was leading Spain to ruin, and how he wished that his dear friend Ekaitz Goya would do everything he could to stop this.

    He sealed the envelope, blew out the candle, and crept downstairs. He found a courier, and sent the message.

    And the wheels began to turn...



    The Dukes of La Fuente are totally fictional, in case anyone was wondering.

    Also, don't forget to vote for your favourite AARs in the AARland Choice AARwards, if you haven't done so already; there are tonnes of great AARs out there that deserve recognition.
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:10.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  2. #42
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Fourteen.

    7th January 1838

    Lord... let it end.

    The sands blew around Sanchez as he plodded onwards. It was cold at night, bitterly cold. His legs just wanted to collapse, to sink down and embrace sweet sleep, or even death. Anything was preferable to this.

    They'd been marching all day and now they were marching into the night. They'd been given urgent orders which, apparently, had to be obeyed. They had to rejoin the other forces in Melilla, or so he'd been told.

    Not that it mattered what he'd been told. He was just a pawn, a piece of gun-fodder in this great game of kings and presidents which he just didn't understand. But, he had a duty, it was said. So he continued to drag himself through the bitter, icy dark, ignoring the numbness in his feet and the chattering teeth in his head.

    The new officer wasn't much good. He was pompous, high-class and arrogant. Sanchez wished that Goya was back; he was harsh, but fair, and nobody could deny that he got results in combat.

    But Goya was not a soldier any more. He'd joined those great halls of politics, and was above the petty concerns of his soldiers. Sanchez didn't really know what politics meant, to be honest. He was just a farmer's boy from Estremadura, who only knew about pigs and harvests and, now, how to clean a gun.

    Death didn't really occupy his mind. Yes, he knew he could be killed- what he'd seen Goya do on that Basque mountain had given him a profound sense of mortality- but he didn't really know what it was to die. He'd go to heaven, that's what the priest had said. Or hell, but he wasn't a Protestant, or an Infidel, and he went to confession and told the priest the things he'd done, about the man he'd hit and the money he'd stolen and what he and 'Dora had been doing behind the barn-

    But, all that was back home, and now he was in the wild. He was in this endless desert, with the birds all flying around, waiting for one of his comrades to drop.

    Well, it sure as hell wouldn't be him. He didn't like the look of those birds; they were sneaky and they didn't flap their wings enough.

    Sanchez plodded onwards, like his neighbour, and his neighbour's neighbour, and five thousand other soldiers, all the children of kind mothers and stern fathers, all marching off to war, to the guns.

    The sands whipped and splayed about, and the birds circled overhead, among the Barbary sands where Spain went to war.

    -----


    But let us look north, to Spain again. In Madrid's deep heart, the new year had gone without much trouble. The uneasy truce between the Carlists and the Liberals was watched over by the Conservative government, which was also attempting to invigorate the economy with new industrial programs; though this was done with only a certain level of success, and was not helped by the Prime Minister's debauchery and incompetence.

    Goya couldn't sleep. He lay wide awake in his empty bed, staring up at the ceiling and thinking hard. Miguel's letter had been most interesting; he now had Rodrigo right where he wanted him.

    And yet... Goya wasn't sure. If he brought down Rodrigo, the consequences would be huge. This was not just a typical scandal, it was something huge. It could carve the party in two, and cause untold damage to the nation.

    He'd have to do this carefully. A whisper in the right ears, and this whole thing could be performed with his own reputation remaining unscathed...

    Goya rubbed his eyes. His bedroom was small and spartan; the bed itself was a simple wooden frame, only just big enough for him. Waste was unnecessary. It was hard, too; Goya couldn't abide softness in any degree.

    He turned over and tried to fall asleep as the clock struck one.
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:10.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  3. #43
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    some serious doubts being explored there, esp for Goya and Miguel. While the ordinary soldiers continue to march in pointless wars (I presume Sanchez is stuck in Morocco?)
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  4. #44
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    An excellent duo of updates. I especially love the part with Sanchez; poor farm boys off dying in the wasteland. Maybe Goya will do something to stop it?
    Faugh a ballagh!

    "A mans got to know his limitations" -Dirty Harry

    "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything thatís even remotely true" -Homer Simpson

  5. #45
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    loki100- He is indeed, and we'll be seeing a lot more of Sanchez ( and also our old friend Lopez) as the plot develops. And Goya's doubts are very serious, and as we shall see now, will result in considerable upheaval...

    TKFS- Thanks! And it's possible, but don't forget that Goya doesn't wield too much power at the moment, with Rodrigo's dislike of him. Also, his sense of duty and his nationalism might conflict with his compassion for his former soldiers...

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Fifteen.


    2nd March 1838.

    Goya grinned, and stood up.

    He had mulled over what to do for two weeks. Should he split the party, or lose his standing to Rodrigo's bigotry? Many nights had gone sleepless, as he was torn between his morals and his lust for power. He hadn't known what to do, but he didn't want to delay his action lest Rodrigo make some move first. Neither needed each other any more, of course, and Rodrigo despised the ascetic Basque.

    He'd been in despair. But, then, he'd attended another ball, this time hosted by the La Fuente family. And there he'd been able to talk to Miguel.

    -----


    "What are you planning, Ekaitz?" murmured Miguel softly. "I know that look".

    Goya started, suddenly. The two of them had been standing at the sidelines of the ball, as the dancers milled about aimlessly in the centre. Both of them held glasses of French champagne which cost more than a corporal's yearly salary, as they watched the swirling patterns of the dance.

    Goya's mind had been wandering, however. The slightly-smiling Marina Llopis, that Morisco merchant's daughter, was also attending the party. Goya couldn't stop his mind wandering upon her, on occasion, especially when she was in the room with him. It was her apparent lack of ability to dance which so endeared her to him on this particular occasion. She wasn't quite lacking in grace, but she seemed bored with the whole affair, and didn't put her heart into it. But her eyes twinkled, and every now and then she would show a flash of spirit, as if she was unable to restrain herself for long.

    He shook his head. Such thoughts were inefficient and unprofitable. He quickly put his mind to other matters- such as that which he had come here to discuss.

    "I never thanked you for your reply, Miguel."

    His friend shifted uncomfortably. "No need. Anything to help."

    Goya smiled, and turned to look his friend in the eye. His steady, sinister stare was so at odds with the weak, worried one of his friend.

    But then Goya sighed, and broke off the look. "But I do not know what to do. I don't want to split the party, as would inevitably happen. But neither can I let this go on. I'm beginning to think that there is only one option left open to me."

    "And what is that?"

    "Xavier." He saw his friend's surprise; it was almost comical. "The Liberals will profit well from the revelation of this. The Conservatives would be embroiled in chaos and there would be nothing stopping their rise, at least in the short term. I'd be able to stay on the winning side without a loss of reputation; naturally, I would be so very shocked at my fellow Conservatives that I would simply have to change sides, in order to satisfy my inner morals- or something like that. And my position would be secure, too; they would never dispense of their saviour."

    "Then why not do it? I'm guessing not for ideological reasons, given the state of the Moderados. What is the problem?"

    "Xavier himself is." He looked deep into the wine-glass, and swirled the golden liquid, watching the ripples which the slightest movement of his wrist inspired. "Rodrigo I can outwit, but Xavier... I'm not so sure. He may have some odd ideas, but he is sharper than his opponents give him credit for. I don't know if I'd be able to advance further while he heads the party."

    "Then don't." The unusual strength of his friend's voice was surprising, and Goya could see the hardness in Miguel's eyes; one of the most chilling sights he had seen for many years. "You are Ekaitz Goya, for God's sake. You have always lived your life by your own Godly law, and yet here you are, contemplating power gambits and how to topple an old man from his rightful seat. Have you forgotten who you are?"

    Goya stared at Miguel. It was subtle, but the man was angry. He'd never seen him angry.

    And he was right, too. He was Ekaitz Goya, damnit. Let the others squabble over riches; he would make do with bread and water, and he would not condemn Xavier to his demise.

    He looked over at the dance again, and for a split second Marina caught his eye. There was that smile; so small, precious, fragile; a fleeting glimpse at the clever and compassionate woman who hid beneath the outer shell of fear.

    But Goya couldn't smile with meaning any more. All his smiles were cold, sarcastic things, delighting in mocking the sins of man and sneering at the fallen. Now, he simply looked back with sadness; for Marina's life, for his own, for Miguel's weakness, for the Queen Regent who lived in fear of Rodrigo's blackmail. Even for Rodrigo himself, who was lost from God and living in a darkness which he was unable to see.

    They were all lost, all of them. And Goya was the only one who could see that, and he had to do something. Or else he would be no true Spaniard.

    He whipped around, grinning and Miguel. The flames danced behind his eyes, and he really did smile this time. "You're right, of course, dear Miguel. It's time for us to begin our work."

    ----


    And so Ekaitz Goya stood up, in the Cortes, aware of the many hundreds of eyes all fixed upon his face. "My dear gentlemen of the Cortes", he began, his grin swiftly becoming sombre before anyone could see his moment of delight. He'd spent weeks gathering the evidence, until at last he'd found a goldmine; a stash of letters belonging to the Queen, all from Rodrigo.

    "It is on a grave matter I speak to you today..."

    To be continued...
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:11.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  6. #46
    Major TKFS's Avatar
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    Once again, very enjoyable
    Faugh a ballagh!

    "A mans got to know his limitations" -Dirty Harry

    "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything thatís even remotely true" -Homer Simpson

  7. #47
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    superb stuff, do like the interplay between the potentially very personal (Maria) and the affairs of state
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  8. #48
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    loki100 & TKFS: Thank you both!

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Sixteen.


    Vienna, Austria. 4th July 1838.

    Metternich sighed, for the umpteenth time that day.

    Spain was a blot. Spain was an ink stain in his beloved map. Watch those crinkled little borders, those perfectly balanced forms of size and weight. There was France, there was it's counter in the Confederation, there was Austria, Russia, the Ottomans, splitting the east between them. They were all the musicians of such beautiful, beautiful music, which only he could hear.

    But Spain insisted on being different. Spain was discordant; it insisted on its own damned Liberalism. Liberals in such countries as Prussia or France were easily contained, and in France they didn't cause him too much of a headache. But Spain...

    The last rickety vestiges of the Conservative government had been destroyed, and the Liberals now dominated the Cortes Generales. The Carlists had actually beaten the Moderados in the elections earlier in the month, while the Liberals had powered ahead, gaining an easy majority.

    Xavier had reformed his cabinet, and was whipping up the nation with his new ideas. With less opposition than before and a tighter control of his party, he was swiftly implementing modern, Liberal ideas. The people adored him and the Moderados were split and cowering, not knowing in what direction they should go.

    And now, Metternich had to suffer the presence of some stuck-up Basque merchant, the new Minister of State. Some war hero or other; a Captain who had struck some great blow against the high command of the Carlist rebels. Goya was his name; apparently he was distantly related to the famous painter.

    The party should be enough to dazzle him, though, if he ever actually turned up. Metternich had carefully arranged the SchŲnbrunn Palace to be at its most splendid. As he stood in the centre of the Grand Ballroom, inspecting the candles reflected off the white and golden walls, the magnificence of the ceiling-mural... even he was a little awed at the spectacle, which he had seen so many times before. To a provincial trader with airs above himself, it would be enough to subdue him totally. With a little luck.

    The party was in full swing now. The assembled heads of Europe were all in attendance. Metternich was conversing with a minor Bavarian prince about Prussian trade when he heard the first murmurs coming across the room.

    He turned, and swore silently, as he looked at the two people standing at the entrance. This must be the famous Basque himself; he was dressed in the most pompous of military uniforms, but with a scruffy overcoat strewn over the top; quite unseemly. But even worse was the woman on his arm; her dark skin clearly gave away a certain amount of Arabic heritage, maybe Moroccan.

    To arrive in such a manner, bringing some Maghreb strumpet to the court of the Emperor- it would simply not do. What was the fool playing at?

    He didn't seem to care for the ballroom, either; he simply gazed up in mild interest, before lowering his eyes to stare the Prince straight in his face. Metternich suddenly felt troubled; the coldness in Goya's eyes seemed to speak to him, whispering "I will not play things by your rules. I am not one of you."

    Metternich cocked an eyebrow, smiled and raised his glass. The game was afoot, even if he didn't know what game they were quite trying to play...



    Just a short update, I'm afraid. I won't be able to update for the next week, as I'll be in Vienna without access to a computer. Still, I'll try to give you all some more punctual updates after that.
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:11.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  9. #49
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    have fun in Vienna

    I really liked that update, again you convey an awful lot in a few words. So Goya is going to tangle with Metternich, they may find much in common?
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  10. #50
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    Good luck in Vienna, hopefully you enjoy it more than Goya apparently does!
    Faugh a ballagh!

    "A mans got to know his limitations" -Dirty Harry

    "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything thatís even remotely true" -Homer Simpson

  11. #51
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Here it is: the long awaited return of "The Red Mexican" after an extended period of Writer's block. I'm going to be concentrating on this one primarily instead of The Devil's Darkness, so be prepared for a lot of updates in the next couple of weeks (bar the 5th to the 12th where I will be away.

    TKFS- I had a great time, thanks; and it was certainly much more enjoyable than what Goya will have to tolerate...

    loki100- Oh, yes; but Europe isn't quite big enough for the two of them...


    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Seventeen.


    5th November 1838. Madrid.

    Silence. It permeated through the halls and whistled through the empty streets. The people sat inside their homes, laughing and reading by candlelight, or else smiling for the little good they had, and cursing the rest.

    Xavier, like Goya, enjoyed wandering his streets by night. He plodded slowly forward, one foot in front of the other, his belly just a little too large, his eyes greyer every day.

    The only sound was the clatter of his shoes on the cobbles as he pressed forward.

    Slavery was good, it seemed. Slavery was his friend. The Liberal party was growing tenfold since his latest campaign; the slaves must be freed! It was an un-Christian cruelty which prevailed in the outer colonies. A new age of Liberal support seemed to be dawning, as the Moderados reeled from their scandals.

    But, he was beginning to tire of politics. He wasn't a young man, and he lacked the energy of his former years. Nihilism preyed on his mind like a parasite, poisoning his resolve and his drive.

    He stopped by the cathedral, absorbing the silence and cherishing it. It gave him pleasure; the little pleasure he got from anything, any more. A lone moth, fluttered beneath the light of the moon, waving this way and that, before landing near him, on the church wall.

    He'd ceased to worry about earthly matters. Not through faith, but through a lack of care. None of it really mattered. He was one life among many, of a million million lives which would all pass through the gut of time, before unravelling and scattering to the winds.

    Ah, he was in a melancholy mood, he knew. But still nothing mattered. So what if slavery continued, so what if Spain died and the other nations picked away at its empire. A kingdom was but a name for a group of people who all thought alike.

    They were nothing. Mankind was nothing. Why go on, when all the combined peoples of the world cared about was the mindless pursuit of mindless pleasure?

    He blinked, and focused. The moth had fluttered off, it's ethereal wings beating a silent retreat.

    There was still his duty. There may have been no reason for it but, what else was there to do? If life truly was meaningless, then he may as well simply perform his role as he always had done.

    His muddled old mind focused, and he stepped inside the cathedral. He walked past the great columns and up to the altar, before falling to his knees. He couldn't enter a synagogue, as he would have like, but a church would do in a pinch.

    He clasped his hands together like a pious Catholic, and prayed. He knelt among the silent pews for an age, muttering under his breath, ignoring the sounds of wind.

    Then he rose, his eyes clearer, his brain less hazy. He didn't have much, and he didn't know much- but he had to do his duty, for the good of the State and the people. That was clear to him.


    We'll get back to Goya soon, I promise.
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:11.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  12. #52
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    ...Aaaand we're back! I'd lost the save long ago, so I played until past where I was before, re-tracing my steps as much as possible. Luckily, I hadn't put too much in-game detail, and now I have AHD so there's much better gameplay.

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Eighteen.


    Two years later. 3rd November 1840.

    "The man of the hour! Aguirre! Aguirre!"

    The cheers in the ballroom were great indeed. As Goya, Xavier and Marina watched the grim-faced general try to smile, they all scrutinised him well.

    "So. Do we like him or not?" murmured Marina to her dark-haired beau. Goya looked at his mistress and smiled.

    "Yes, I rather think we do. He has morals, my dear, a rare thing today."

    "It would be rather better if he used those morals to support our cause, rather than those Carlist swine" grumbled Xavier. "I'm concerned, Ekaitz..."

    "Don't be." Goya looked at his friend and lover in turn, with an uncharacteristic grin on his face. "We've never been further ahead in the polls. Aguirre's victory in Morocco may have given him the ear of the people, but we still have a few tricks up our sleeve. The economy, for one thing."

    Spain had been slowly transforming over the last few years. The war in Morocco had been horrifically bloody, at first; they'd won the battles, but with the debts Rodrigo had ramped up, they were barely able to feed the troops. Xavier had taken a lot of the blame for the twenty thousand dead men upon the blistering sands.

    Then Aguirre had stepped on the scene. A grim, harsh, austere man, he'd defeated an army of fourteen thousand Moroccans- a larger force than his own- with nary a scratch to his own forces. Suddenly, things began to go well- he had swept through Morocco like a plague, and with the help of their allies in Belgium, the once proud kingdom had been cut up into pieces. Spain had taken a large swath of territory stretching from the south-west coast to Melilla, while the Belgians had entered the colonial game with their conquest of the north.

    Diplomatically, Goya had worked a charm on the Austrians. The initial shock of taking a poor Morisco girl to a ball which the crowned heads of Europe had been invited had been enough to through the Basque into sharp relief, and he and Metternich had gotten on surprisingly well. They'd seen the advantages of co-operation, and an alliance had at last been concluded.

    Backed by foreign powers and Moroccan gold, Spain was experiencing a boom- things were beginning to look up, at last.

    "They should be toasting you, Ekaitz" muttered Marina, clutching his arm. Goya simply laughed at that. Marina could act so naive when she wished.

    "Glory does not fall in the lap of diplomats and bureaucrats, even if they achieve more than any general. The man who is foolish enough to put himself in gunfire gets the glory."

    "That was you, not so long ago" said Xavier.

    "Oh, I never denied that I'm a fool. But I fancy that I hide it a little more than our dear principled friend over there."

    Goya and Xavier had never like the limelight, and a casual observer would have been forgiven for not recognising their statuses, hovering together on the fringes of the room, watching the dancers flutter by. The three of them were observing Aguirre with keen interest; he danced slightly awkwardly, and stiffly; clearly a man not fond of politics and high society. A Carlist through and through.

    The remnants of the Carlists had now become respected within the system. Styling themselves the Partido Lealisto, or the Loyalist party, they had abandoned their wish to have Don Carlos re-instated as king and had instead reformed themselves into the protectors of the crown, on a platform of Christian conservatism and moral guidance, opposing any and all reform and fiercely protecting the Church.

    Goya didn't like them.

    Well, it made sense. However much importance Goya placed on Christian values and a decent backbone, he was always wary of his old enemies. He didn't believe that leopards changed their spots quite so easily. But they did have one great purpose; they effectively split the right wing vote in two, giving the Liberals a significant poll lead, aided by victory and gold.

    Greed and glory. The people of the world were tempest-tossed between the two.

    "Look sharp, Goya. Here comes the great man himself" hissed Xavier in his ear.

    "General Aguirre! An honour, to be sure." cried Goya, all enthusiasm and praise, clasping his hand firmly. The general's smile was strained and cold, and his handshake like iron. A military man through and through.

    "Captain Goya. So nice to finally meet." Goya fancied that referring to him by his old and lowly rank was some form of insult. Bah! At least a captain was on the front, in the thick of the gunfire. "Your work with Chancellor Metternich has truly been inspired."

    "Ah, but nothing compared to your victory at Adjir! To annhilate such an army at the cost of only a three hundred- staggering, truly staggering."

    WIth a slight and frosty smile, Aguirre turned his attention to Xavier. "Mr. Prime Minister. Truly wonderful to meet you."

    "Likewise..."

    As they talked, Goya glanced around the other people present. His old friend De La Fuente was talking to some fur-clad beauty at the far end, while he could see the Marquis of Galtone dancing with-

    Huh. Who was that, skulking in the shadows where nobody could see him...

    "Excuse me..." he muttered, beginning to walk off. Marina dutifully followed him.

    "Something up?"

    "Indeed..." murmured Goya. "I'm wondering what the devil our old friend Rodrigo is doing here, and where on earth he obtained an invite..."

    To be continued...
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:11.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  13. #53
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Nineteen.


    Rodrigo did not want to be seen.

    He hadn't wanted to come. Cast out and ostracised for "gross abuses of his power", he had become a recluse, living off his estate and smouldering with resentment. He'd given everything to Goya, and how had he repaid him? Ruining his career and defecting to that fat old walrus Xavier!

    He desperately didn't want to be noticed. Keeping to the shadowy fringes of the room, he quietly sipped his champagne, eyes darting around the room. A few years ago, he would have turned this polite gathering into a raucous party; such contemplations only made him bitter and mournful. How far had he fallen...

    "Do I know ya from somewhere?" An American drawl awoke him from his reverie. A young beauty, all blond flowing hair and Southern grace, was standing behind him, head cocked in curiosity.

    Rodrigo smiled nervously, backing away. "I'm afraid you must have me confused with someone else, madam. My apologies.

    He hurried away, face burning up. What had happened to him? Had two years of reclusive hiding from the world dulled him so much? He longed for the days of wild laughter, drink, wine, women... glory...

    He'd only come here at the insistence of an old friend of his, who'd taken pity on him. "Come, really" he'd said. "It'll do you good to get out of this dingy manor once in a while."

    Pah. There was nothing left for him out here.

    "Well well. Look who decided to crawl out of the woodwork."

    A chill ran down his spine, as fury began to rise in his stomach. He knew that voice.

    Turning, he saw the mocking, smiling face of Captain Ekaitz Goya, the Secretary of State and once his loyal ally. The man who had orchestrated his downfall.

    "You." hissed Rodrigo. he put down his wine glass and clenched his fists. "I have half a mind to knock you down right here and now."

    Goya laughed. "You wouldn't get far. Have you met Marina, by the way? Charming girl."

    The Moroccan girl on his arm curtseyed, a sweet and venemous smile on her face "Charmed, I'm sure."

    Rodrigo looked around. What the hell did they want with him? He was powerless here... did they have to taunt him? Couldn't they just let him live in peace?

    Goya dropped his smile and sighed. "Look. Rodrigo. I know we may have had our... differences in the past, but-"

    "You stole my job, betrayed me and ruined my entire reputation and career."

    "Well, yes, I suppose, but you have to understand that it was for the good of-"

    "You put into power a man who threw tens of thousands into the knife-grinder."

    Goya frowned. "You started that war."

    "And you continued it!" growled Rodrigo. "We would never have let tens of thousands die without proper leadership!"

    Goya was staring at Rodrigo. There wasn't anger there- just curiousity. "You sent that pompous aristocrat Gomez there to lead. I told you my experience of serving with-"

    "Only as a stopgap! We didn't plan to-"

    "Since when did you grow such a spine, Rodrigo?"

    Rodrigo stopped in his tracks. Goya was staring at him, almost (though not quite) as though he were in shock. Where had that come from?

    As the dancers careened, the two men continued to stare at each other in silence; Rodrigo in confusion, Goya in thought. Marina had a strange little half smile, as her eyes flitted between the two.

    After a while, Goya quietly muttered "Nice speaking to you", and wandered off vaguely, Marina following close behind.

    Rodrigo, meanwhile, continued to stare. What an earth was all that about?

    -----


    "What on earth was all that about?" asked Marina as they returned to the animated conversation which Xavier and Aguirre were having.

    "I... I have an idea..." murmured Goya vaguely. He blinked a few times, then smiled at Marina. "But come! Now is the time to make merry, not ruminate on matters of state...
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:12.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  14. #54
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Just a short update.

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Twenty.


    14th January 1841.

    "Senor... please..."

    The man crouched in the corner of the room, shielding his terrified family. The little wooden shack he called home had been violated.

    Henrique's main concerns in life were simple ones. He went to the well to get water. He looked after his herd; fed them, kept them safe and warm. He would sell their wool at the market in town; sometimes he'd sell whole sheep. They lived off mutton and lamb, occasionally some rarer thing from the market. They all dressed their best to go to Mass every morning. Little Harriet would wear a bow, while Jorge would put on his hat. His wife dressed smartly and ever beautifully. Life was hard, but pure and clean.

    But now his home was being invaded by aliens, by people from the city, wearing black uniforms and bearing crucifixes. They held rifles, and laughed at him and Maria. He didn't like them, but they wore the sign of God, so they must be friendly.

    But they were searching his things, and those of his family. This was violation.

    "Senor... I do not think mother Church would-"

    "Shut up." There were two of them; one tall and one pale. The tall one had spoken. "You are a pastor! You tend to sheep! What do you know of Mother Church? We serve the Pope and Octavo de la Cruz, not some ignorant farm boy with air for brains!"

    Henrique was taken aback. This was not the conduct of a man of God. "Who is de la Cruz, senor?"

    The tall one laughed. "How ignorant you are! He is leader of our new Mexico! He's taught us the light of God, and has shown us the true path to salvation! Mexico can be great, greater than Spain, greater than the gringos to the north! And you must pay your dues to help!"

    Henrique quivered. "But, but Senor... How? How do we do this thing? We have nothing..."

    "And we had nothing when we stormed into Texas and took it back! We stopped the damned Union getting her hands on it, with nothing but the sweat on our backs! Now shut up."

    Henrique shut up. The pale one muttered something in some alien tongue. The tall one cursed, and cast an eye over Henrique's wife. He wrinkled his nose, hissed at the pale one, and left, slamming the door behind him.

    -----


    "I don't get it, papa. Why?"

    The boy looked at the pictures. None of the family could read, but Vito had an old book full of pictures of Bible stories to teach his little boy. He was growing up well; five already, and strong and healthy.

    "Why what, niŮo?"

    "Why did God want Joseph to help Nineveh if was bad? Why not kill it like with Sodom?"

    Vito looked at the boy with unease. "Well, God is merciful. And we don't know all his reasons. Maybe Ninevah wasn't as bad as Sodom."

    "But they were still bad. Bad is bad." The boy looked at him, head cocked on one side. "Bad people hurt other people, so they should be hurt too. That's what Padre Fuego says."

    Vito frowned, still more unsure of himself. "Well, if that's what the church says, I'm... I'm sure that it's right, lad."

    The boy grinned. "I'm right! I'm right! I'm right and Daddy isn't!"

    Vito relaxed and smiled. "That's right, Diego. You're right indeed. Now come here, you little scamp- it's time for your bath..."

    -----


    Even the smallest of moments can destroy a bright future...
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:12.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  15. #55
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Twenty One.


    18th May, 1841.

    "And so, I declare this factory open!"

    The crowd cheered as the Minister unlocked the gates, and the new workers began to pour in. It was a large, grey building; Goya looked on it with distaste. A nasty, brutish thing- but Goya knew its importance.

    He was near the edge of the crowd, so it was easy enough to get away. As the Minister continued to give some long-winded speech about how it was "ushering in a new age of Spanish prosperity" or some other rubbish, Goya's mind began to whirr again.

    This was good. Spain had finally broken from its backward past. Industry had clearly benefited the economies of the other nations; he'd seen Vienna, and the prosperity and riches it afforded the State. Yes, things would do very well with such a boon to their finances.

    But there were many other things on his mind, too. One problem in particular required some attention.

    "You have a very serious expression, Ekaitz." Goya looked up from his reverie. He'd just turned a corner in time to see Miguel standing there, biting into an apple. He was dressed scruffily and dirtily; he was almost unrecognisable to Goya.

    "What the hell are you wearing? You look like some common dockyard worker."

    His mild-mannered friend smiled. "Mingling with the lower orders is a remarkably liberating experience. You should try it sometimes."

    Goya simply stared. "What on earth is a gentleman of your stature-"

    "You are too lofty, Goya. You came from a middle-class family of Basque merchants; you've never needed to come into contact with peasants and workers. I grew up on an aristocratic estate. The scruffy farm-boys were my playmates as a child, and I learnt a lot from them. Speaking to the man on the ground might be a good way to run your country. Lets you know what it is they want. After all, who would bite the hand that feeds?"

    Goya shook his head. "You eccentricities will never cease to surprise me, Miguel."

    It was full noon, and the sun was boiling. The harsh heat of the sky seemed to be coming from the floors and walls, all designed to boil Goya alive. "Come on" he muttered. "Let's get out of this damned light, it's roasting me alive."

    They turned a corner, into the shade. Goya regretted wearing his coat; it had been much colder earlier.

    "So. What is making you look so glum?"

    Goya stayed quiet for a moment. "Mexico."

    Miguel raised his eyebrows. "Why? What can Mexico do to us? They haven't been our problem for years..."

    "You read the news, Miguel, you must know what is going on there" muttered Goya. "The Texan separatists made a deal with the United States government to be absorbed into their union; but the Mexicans then attacked a second time, annihilating Houston's resistance."

    "So? None of our concern."

    "It is. The Americans saw which way the wind was blowing, and signed a treaty with Mexico; a large power-bloc is forming. They're growing in power and influence... their industry is taking off, they're reforming their military, and profiting off of Californian gold. And this all came about through an effective coup in Mexico City."

    "A coup? I hadn't heard anything about a coup..."

    "You wouldn't- I said an effective coup. A preacher from Tucson by the name of Octavo de la Cruz led a populist revolt. The republic survives, but it's in the pocket of this de la Cruz. He's a dangerous man; he knows how to whip up a crowd, and is using that to create a dangerously reactionary and repressive regime."

    "But how does this affect us? You still haven't answered my question."

    Goya sighed. "Let us just say that the Spanish government has certain... interests in the region..."

    -----


    The house was large, and rich. The top floor window was hanging slightly ajar.

    "And who is this?" Inside the gold-panelled room, two figures stood while one, trembling, was forced to kneel.

    "Man from Monterrey, sir. Was spreading Liberal propaganda, sir."

    "Hmm. Most interesting." The man dressed in black had his back to the other two figures. One was a gaunt, bloodied figure, wringing his hands and shaking violently as the guard kept his bayonet on his neck. The guard's eyes were a frosty blue.

    "Well, then. I think that this calls for mercy." The man in black turned around, smiling. He raised up the crucifix around his neck. "After all, the Lord forgave the Egyptians for their slavery of the Israelites."

    The man, who had only moments before cried out in relief, frowned. "Um, Senor... the Lord punished the Egyptians..."

    "Oh? My mistake. Well, in that case- make it quick, Faro."

    The screams echoed around the dusty city, as Octavo De La Cruz began to smile...
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:12.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  16. #56
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Five comments in a row without a single comment... this is what I get for a year of terrible update habits...

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Twenty Two.


    7th July, 1841.

    Spanish Morocco.

    The city of Taza.

    The call to prayer rang out in the half-light. Nestled between the tall green hills, the city stuck out with its tall minarets and sand-dusted walls, a beacon of civilisation in the blinding desert.

    Everyday, the people would get up. They would go to their farms or markets or all the other ways that they would eke out a living across the dusty earth. Some went a long, long way to the gold mines; others stayed at home and prayed for their fortunes to improve. Then, at the dusk, they would come back, to kiss their wives and children, before the cycle began again.

    A single man stood upon the balcony of his home, smoking a cigarette. He was tall, with dark brown hair and above a dusty shirt and trousers. He looked out above the frosted sands, seeing the way the storm was gathering in the distance. The shadows were long and the wind ferocious.

    The man's name was Al-Fuenti. That was all anyone knew; it was how he introduced himself. He had ridden into town upon a half-dead horse, which had dropped upon his arrival.

    He was a plague.

    The citizens of the little district where he lived had been watching him. He'd come home with beautiful women on many nights, who'd leave the morning after. He was quiet. The few who had approached him had found him strange and whistful, speaking perfect Arabic but talking in poetry. He was calm, collected, and seemed to take great pleasure in observation and retreat.

    Hafsa didn't like him. Her husband was a drunken fool who spent his time knocking back alcohol; something her religious sensibilities despised. She also despised those who committed sin outside of marriage, who lived a life of luxury which would damn them to hell.

    She was standing outside her home, looking at the street just around the corner from the front door, ostensibly putting up her washing to dry. But she was watching. Every day, just after the call to prayer, when everyone else was in the mosque, he would leave his house too. But he was no Muslim; he was a Spaniard.

    She hoped that Allah would forgive this transgression, would forgiver her for missing one prayer. This was important. This could stop others from sinning.

    There! He turned and climbed down the stairs, left his house, closed the door and bolted it; then he walked down the street, whistling. Hafsa put down her clothes gently, and began to follow.

    He led her on a winding path, through the darkening streets. The impious and the sick leered at her when she past; but they ignored or even greeted Al-Fuenti when he passed. Hafsa kept on walking, head down beneath her headscarf. "Watch, little one" said a djinn into her ear. "This man is a stranger who does not belong."

    Then, Al-Fuenti turned a sudden corner. She looked at where he had turned, and saw nothing. Just a wall...

    What was he? A witch? A demon? A thing of evil?

    No... There was a trick going on here. She stared at the wall, deep in thought...

    -----


    "What the hell is this?"

    It was spoken more as a statement of cold, blunt ferocity than a question. The soldier licked his lips, nervously. "Sir, we didn't-"

    "You did not succeed. That is the fact of it. I told you to raid the water supply of the city and you royally screwed it up!I should have you up before a court-martial, you lily livered coward!"

    The general glared at him. Taza was not an agreeable city, but the powers that were had decided he would be "better off" commanding his army from the front. Probably that fat old slob Xavier and his little Basque pet. Aguirre would not be voting for the Liberals next year- not that he had planned on doing so anyway.

    "So, tell me why I shouldn't have you shot right-"

    "They had children, sir!" blurted the lieutenant. "They didn't tell us that there were children in the camp! We couldn't deprive them of water! They didn't tell us"

    Aguirre stared at him for a while. "Nor me," he muttered. "Wait here a second." He pulled out a pen and paper, and hurriedly began to scrawl...
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:13.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  17. #57
    Utterly fantastic. I have spent the last three days reading this with much interest. I look forward to more, along with any screenshots if you so much as deign them upon us.
    Fellow Nerd
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  18. #58
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FellowNerd View Post
    Utterly fantastic. I have spent the last three days reading this with much interest. I look forward to more, along with any screenshots if you so much as deign them upon us.
    Thank you! Screenshots are a good idea- I'm at 1843 in-game after having to restart, so I'll probably start screenshots from then onwards. Only the occasional one to support the narrative, of course.

    Update tomorrow afternoon (GMT).
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

  19. #59
    Second Lieutenant AON's Avatar
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    I really like this AAR! One of the few Victoria ones I read and probably the best!
    My time-travelling adventures are done! Want to read a tale of time-travelling blues, melancholy and struggle against a totally totally superior force? Check out my AAR . Don't worry, it's not all sad. There might even be coffee!

    Want to read something a bit different? Check out my tale of overgrown inbreeds in my second AAR.

  20. #60
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    AON- Thank you! This'll hopefully go all the way to 1936, if my plans are realised, so there'll be plenty more yet .

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Twenty Three.


    9th August, 1841.

    The banquet rolled on, into the blackened night. The revelry in the House of Xavier was great indeed, as the wine flowed free and the food ran onwards.

    The whole government was there, celebrating. For tonight, the alliance with Austria had been finalised, and Spain was secure and safe. As Xavier looked over his plump belly at the assembled ranks before him, he couldn't help but laugh. They were a comical bunch.

    There was Azarola, the thin and grim-faced minister for Defence, politely eating his meal in cold and stony silence. Opposite him was the ever-merry Holguin, obese and laughing, the cheer of the party and minister for Justice. The trickster Rios, minister of the interior, smiled his calm little smile near the other end of the table, while the strange, meticulous Treasurer, Vicario, was deeping conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    Xavier frowned. The gilt carvings and lavish furniture in this dark, colourful room were not there for his own amusement; his private apartments were very modestly decorated. But he'd seen how the Foreign Minister had looked with disdain upon them as he entered the room, refusing, as ever, to take off that damn greatcoat he wore all the time.

    That look had re-inforced a feeling which Xavier had been festering on for months.

    He couldn't trust Goya.

    Xavier saw, when he looked at him, his own self thirty years removed. The lad was twenty-nine; one of the youngest Cabinet ministers in the history of the country. He could turn on a strange charm when he needed, he was a firm believer in old fashioned morals, was opposed to decadence in all its forms, and had a reputation as a competent and unyielding officer; his popularity was staggering. The young Fransisco Xavier would have seen eye-to-eye with him on very little, but they shared three important characteristics: an ideological vision, a powerful intellect, and a total, all-consuming ambition.

    And it worried Xavier. He'd learnt of the folly of youth long ago, when the blood was still spilling on his polished shoes. He knew what those things could do, when merged together. He didn't doubt that such a man of fire could achieve plenty; but he'd never achieve what he wanted too.

    Because that's what happens, thought the old man bitterly, swilling the wine in his cup. Idealism is unachievable. Goya will fail, as I failed, and as countless others before me have. Youth blinds us, makes the impossible seem real. Just as I thought I could free mankind, Goya thinks he can restore the Spanish Empire and turn us into the greatest nation on the earth once more. And I truly believe he will accomplish something: he'll leave tens of thousands of dead Spaniards festering on the battlefields; he'll turn the people against him; he'll set the scene for a tyranny like none other that'll ever walk the earth, where freedom and love will fall away to a lord with absolute control over all his human playthings...

    Xavier had taken a different path. You couldn't achieve perfection; but that didn't mean you shouldn't try. With years of work, thought, and slow reform, you could approach it. One day, there would be a place where the people lived a good life. It would never be like heaven, but it would be good, and prosperous, and kind.

    He couldn't trust Goya. He was too far gone to be turned to his point of view; he'd find out the hard way, as Xavier'd had to. And one day, he'd be sitting in a darkened room, an old and bitter man, telling the same thing to some other young firebrand, each one worse than the last...

    No. No, no, no. He'd have to do something to stop this. Staring at his friend's cold face, engrossed in the treasurer's words, Xavier knew he couldn't simply sit back any more. If God had deigned to give him a purpose upon this mortal coil, it was this. He had to curb the power of Ekaitz Goya, and try, somehow, to both stop the man and keep his soul intact...

    -----


    "This is true?" Goya murmured to Vicario, glancing up at their host. He thought he'd been looking over a minute ago, but it seemed he was now simply staring into space, contemplating something new.

    Vicario nodded. "Your little revelation seems to have sparked the interest of your old party. They wanted something against you, in retribution, but you're clean. So they turned their attention to someone else, someone they could get something on."

    "And a long-lost secret comes to the fore, after decades of waiting... those bastards" hissed Goya, through clenched teeth.

    Agustin Vicario was a strange gentleman. He was almost as young as Goya- thirty-two, and one of the cleverest men the old soldier had ever met. He wasn't a sociable being; he preferred to fade into the background, without being seen by others. Yet his mind was immense- the breadth and depth of his reading was beyond amazing, and his political brain was constantly coming up with fresh schemes and ideas, each more ingenious than the last. All he laced was a sense of purpose, somewhere to apply his talents. He followed the restraint of Xavier because he knew no other way- he lacked vision.

    Well. There was something which Goya could help him with.

    "If this comes out, we're all damned. This government has just had a large hole blown in its side, and has become a sinking ship. We have to defect" said Goya, quietly. "There's nothing we can do for Xavier. This will come out. But if we were to help the process along a bit... we could at least secure our own position..."

    Vicario raised an eyebrow. "What are your plans? Another grand reveal, like before?"

    Goya shook his head. "That won't be enough for the Moderados to take either of us; and even if they did, we'd be relegated to the back-benches forever. No, we need to do two things. I need to contact three people immediately- my agent Al-Fuenti, a certain general by the name of Aguirre, and the regent of our dear Queen..."

    To be continued...
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative 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."

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