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Thread: The Red Mexican

  1. #21
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    mhh, Goya has a very definite way of imposing himself ... great stuff as ever
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  2. #22
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    TKFS- Hah, that's one way of putting it, though Goya does have a little more of a cruel streak, as we shall see...

    loki100-Thanks, and yes, he can be a tad forceful at times. More of this shall be seen soon enough...

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Six.


    1st November 1836

    "Bread and Peace! Bread and Peace!"

    The roar erupted around the Plaza Mayor, a slow chant gradually becoming a frenzied cry against the man standing on the Podium. Xavier looked ridiculous, thought Rodrigo, standing there with his silver hair and fat stomach, reading a proclamation of his intentions to the masses.

    The Moderado looked bored as he surveyed the scene from on high, wearing a waistcoat and smoking a cigarette. Many people disapproved of the habit, telling him that a pipe or a cigar would be far more dignified. But Rodrigo didn't care. He never smoked them in public, so what did it matter?

    The young conservative was barely thirty, but through cunning and guile was now the leader of the Moderados, who until last year had been ruling the kingdom. When the old Prime Minister, the Count of Toreno, slunk off in disgrace, the power vacuum within the party was filled by the enigmatic man, branded as a new messiah by some, and as an oily snake by others.

    And their Liberal opponents were losing ground, and fast. Rodrigo threw the remains of his cigarette into the crowd before turning back into his bedroom, yawning.

    There was little to do these days, in the hush before the campaign. Rumour had it that the Queen Regent was planning to force Xavier to call an early election; she also seemed as though she was fed up with Liberal incompetence. Rodrigo was obviously pleased; Moderado popularity was unrivalled these days. Nothing short of a mighty victory against Morocco would help them now.

    Rodrigo lay back on his bed, closing his eyes, listening to the sounds below his window. "Xavier, Xavier, out out out!" was another popular slogan. Maybe he should use one of these in his commons debates. It would certainly improve his popularity with the masses; though they naturally didn't much matter in the parliamentary process.

    He was dumbfounded by Xavier, though. The Carlists were on the verge of defeat, and he went and declared war on Morocco, just when the electorate cried out for peace. A large number of the important Carlist commanders had been taken down single-handedly by some Basque called Goya. The man had become an instant celebrity, and his recent speech against the Liberal immorality had been very useful to the Moderado cause.

    But Rodrigo had no time for men like Goya. Small-time officers, full of ideas of patriotism and glory; brave men, certainly, but also the kind to look down on the upper classes as effeminate and weak. They annoyed Rodrigo.

    Still, he seemed a decent sort, all honour and good taste. He'd make a fine politician, even if he was a Basque; he was used to taking orders from his betters, after all.

    Rodrigo yawned again, got up off his bed and walked stiffly towards the desk> He picked up his pen and began to write a letter; to his closest advisors, asking whether or not they thought it wise to allow this Captain Goya to run for that vacant seat in the Basque country...

    -----


    The baby was silent, gazing up at its mother with wide eyes, as she rocked the infant, singing soothing songs to him. He was such a good child; obedient, sweet, and already smiling and laughing. He was only nine months old but she could have sworn she'd heard him say "mama" earlier. Still, she supposed that it could have been her imagination.

    The only problem was, he didn't have a name. This worried his mother. Shouldn't she be calling him something now? But her husband had said that he would name him when the time was right. And she had given him the privilege.

    But she didn't have to wait long, as that evening, over supper, her husband told her that he'd decided on a name. Diego. He would be called Diego Bravura, and would grow up into a strong and brave lad, who'd serve well.

    Nobody heard the screams, running from that name, known from Iceland to Singapore. That was all just dreams in little Diego's head for now.
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:08.
    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. #23
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    so Goya's little mission paid off ... do wonder if Rodrigo is going to make a huge mistake assuming that Goya will be so pliant in his hands though?

    ah, the baby, not heard from him for a while, at least the wee mass-murderer to be now has a name
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  4. #24
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    I got into this story a bit late, but I'm enthused by its character development and immersion. So much, in fact, that I've nominated Tufto as best character writer of the week!
    My AARs: Subcontinental Subtleties (Victoria 2, v1.4b) - webcomic; complete - *multi-award-winning* --- A Hyderabad Holiday Special (Victoria 2, v2.31) - complete --- Sing a Septinsular Song (Ionian Islands) (Victoria 2, v1.4b) - complete - *Winner of the VictAARian Cross, for Best Completed 2011 AAR* --- Tunis Delenda Est (Victoria 2, v1.2) - complete --- Albania Finds its Place in the World (Victoria 2, v1.2 with minor mods) - complete --- Australia: Rise of a Constellation (Victoria 2, v1.2 with minor mods) - complete --- Belgium: Rise of the Choco Lords (Victoria 2, v1.1) - complete

    My mods: The 1948 Arab-Israeli War (battlescenario for HoI2, Doomsday and Armageddon. Current version: 1.1)

    My inkwell

  5. #25
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Selzro- Again, thanks; this means a lot.

    loki100-Well, I can say nothing, but Rodrigo isn't exactly the cleverest of people, and we all know what Goya is like...

    And we'll be seeing more and more of Bravura as he grows up; after all, he is the title character...

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Seven.


    18th November 1836.

    Tap. Tap. Tap.

    Xavier's eyes focused downwards. The flame was flickering above his desk as he blinked at the darkness.

    He could hear the sound of Rodrigo's fiesta across the street. The wastrel continued his midnight partying, with the election less than a month away. Xavier occasionally glanced up at the sounds, disapproval etched across his face.

    Sighing, he went back to his work, scratching his pen across the page. The long silver hair drooped over his ears, and a thin layer of stubble lined his jaw. He'd been meaning to shave, to cut his hair; but there was no time now, no time for anything but the drudgery of the campaign.

    The resentment was in him, but it was buried deep. Xavier had learnt long ago how the game worked. You win, they win, you win, they win. The Liberals would be back again, soon enough. It was the way of the world; the two parties, ever competing for the affections of Mother Spain.

    He sat back, with a heavy breath. They were running Goya in some seat in the Basque country; the liberating war hero, the dashing, smiling captain. He'd heard stories about his patriotism, nationalism, his fierce anti-liberalism.

    He'd heard other stories, though... of blood in the snow on the peaks of the Pyrenees... a man falling, a broken body found all black and blue...

    He smiled, grimly. Every man was like that, in the end. When you peeled away the idealism, the hope, the meticulously assembled visions and processes and means of improving the world, theories and thoughts... all of that came down to blood and bone, the howl of the wolf and the slip of the knife.

    Xavier puffed on his cigar, staring out of the window. The moon was bright, so bright...

    Once, he'd been young. Francisco Xavier, ready to change the world. Liberty! Equality! Fraternity! And when the French Armies came, of course there had to be sacrifice... he hadn't shirked away from the fight, he'd shot the Count with his rifle as any honourable man would do...

    The thought pained him now. He regretted what he had done, and had made sure no prying eyes could see his sin. But it was still there, beneath the mask of flesh and blood and countless years...

    Xavier continued to stare for several long seconds, before breaking off and sitting back, running his clammy hands through his hair. His appearance was typical for one his age; thin, silver hair, a slight plumpness about the waist but not quite fat, bushy eyebrows set in a perpetual frown.

    He'd have to meet Goya, he knew. That man would run rings about Rodrigo; he wasn't an ignorant layabout but as hard as iron; as he himself had been, long ago.

    So he'd learn, as they all did, in his own time. The curse of Xavier was unavoidable, he though, smiling grimly. It all turns to dust in the end.

    Xavier was not an unhappy man. He was rich, he had a loving wife and family, despite the public's distaste for him and his party. But he knew that his days were numbered, too; and he had to at least try with Goya, try to make him see what Xavier could see, before he was gone for good.

    He got up, shrugged on his coat and left the building at two in the morning. The noise was getting intolerable, and he needed his sleep. His wife would be cross but, well, everything had a price.

    His footsteps clattered as he headed home, beneath the black and starless sky.
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:09.
    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. #26
    Major TKFS's Avatar
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    Good stuff right here
    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. #27
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    nice musings on crimes done in the past and the consequences of trying ... to change things? to stand up against the inevitable? All very intriguing, especially with Goya seemingly destined to follow the same misguided steps
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  8. #28
    Well done, i'm a big fan of narrative AARs and this looks great, your writing style is both easy to visualize and follow, and i like your pacing, spot on. keep it up!
    Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can? - Sun Tzu

  9. #29
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    TreizeV- Thank you!

    TKFS- Also thank you!

    loki100- Goya's certainly going on a dark path; and Xavier's musings will soon be clarified...

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Eight.


    Goya smiled, and sat back.

    Goya's paternal grandfather had not been Basque, but Castilian; and that particular branch of the family was rich, wealthy; well known, too, with their distant relation to a certain famous painter. Their wealth stretched to having their own private booth in a particularly fine theatre in Madrid, which they were perfectly happy to allow any member of their family to use, even the distant Basque branch of the family.

    Tonight, it was Beethoven playing. Goya smiled, as he swam amongst the notes, allowing the harmonies to wash past his ears. There was solace in this little booth, away from the prying decadence of Madrid.

    He was a hero now. Ekaitz Goya, dashing soldier, victor of El Pico Demonio, those upright eyes gazing out at the world through a rich portrait, commissioned by his new patron, Rodrigo. It was all he could do to stop the Moderado showering him with wealth- he clearly valued such a high-profile war hero supporting his campaign and running for that seat in San Sebastian.

    Goya was no fool. He knew Rodrigo's game. Goya's heroism and uprightness were useful to him, but his principled honour wasn't. So Rodrigo would coat him in the comfort of the aristocracy, thinking that the little Basque captain would be in awe, and look upon Rodrigo as a friend, a mentor; someone to look up to, to obey.

    Goya despised the man. Such wastefulness! Extravagance! It was disgusting. The man wallowed in his own filth, for God's sake, sleeping with a different woman every night, sometimes men too. Goya preferred a more Spartan lifestyle; no luxuries, just a small house, simple and tasteful furniture and art, sleeping with none but his wife, when he eventually married...

    Marriage. That was also a problem, in Goya's mind. The thought of sharing his life with another human being... the idea was terrifying. How could anyone understand him? He was cold, strange, distant... he didn't know how he would cope.

    Still, he thought, there would be other times to think of that. He had enough to deal with already, what with the election coming up. It was pretty well a forgone conclusion in his favour, but still...

    He shook his head, dispelling such thoughts. Tonight was about the music, and the chords Focus on the beauty before him.

    Then, suddenly, he was no longer alone. A man had entered the booth, wearing a long coat and a hood. He sat down, even as Goya began to protest, and lifted his hood to reveal a smiling face.

    "Hello, SeŮor Goya," said Francisco Xavier. "It is an honour to meet you at last."

    Goya stared at him for a second, his face hard. Then, he too broke out into a smile. "Hello, Prime Minister. The honour is all mine, I assure you."

    "I apologise for barging in on you like this, but I felt that we should meet. What is being performed? I'm afraid my musical knowledge has become quite dire in the last few months. Is this Beethoven? His... eighth symphony?"

    "Seventh. We're still on the Vivace; the Allegretto is still to come, and is quite exquisite."

    "Ah." Xavier seemed satisfied, making himself comfortable in the seat beside Goya. The violins shivered and drew their music out into the theatre, and the two remained silent for a moment.

    "So," said Xavier, "It is not often one sees a Basque in the higher circles of Madrid; much less one there at the behest of Buenaventura Rodrigo. He doesn't much like your people."

    Goya smiled. "He is an... interesting man, shall we say. A number of slightly questionable habits, perhaps, but overall a forthright fellow."

    Xavier snorted. "Well, that's one way of putting it, I suppose. It surprises me that you're willing to put up with him for so long."

    Goya grinned for a split second. He rather liked this man; his curious straightforwardness was appealing. "He needs me, I need him. I suppose that this is the part that you tell me of all the opportunities the Progressives could offer me?"

    "Oh no. I am in quite enough trouble as it is without Rodrigo bawling to the press about how his golden boy has been turned by the Godless liberals. I have no desire to see you join us."

    "Good, because I have no plans to. But you're right about Rodrigo; he has about as much appreciation for Basques as he does for you. None."

    "Indeed so. He's not the most tolerant towards minorities."

    "That must be irritating to a man who prides himself on the defence of them."

    Xavier turned to examine the Basque, a strange look in his eyes. "You confound me, Goya. You're a middle-class merchant; the kind of person who would have Liberal sympathies, and not the sort to join Rodrigo's crowd. You're a Basque, for goodness sake, and Rodrigo detests Basques. So why are you with his lot?"

    Goya stared ahead, at the other wall. "We all have to adapt to unpleasant circumstances to further our goals, Prime Minister."

    Xavier laughed, a grim chuckle. "Oh yes. In fact, more often than not, we have to hide our very identities- I haven't been to a synagogue in years, for example..."

    Goya turned sharply, surprise flung across his face. "You're... Jewish? How?"

    Xavier smiled. "Simply trickery, my friend. Forged sets of papers, a false history to flash at the others in the party and the state... Money can buy a lot of things."

    Goya's face was troubled. "Why are you here, Xavier? And why are you telling me all this? I'm your enemy; the opposition, one of those whom you are fighting a campaign against. I should be the last person you trust."

    Xavier's face looked old once again, as it always did this late at night. The lights of the concert hall, and the shadows they brought, were dancing across his face. "In answer to your second question, it's because I know you, Ekaitz Goya. You're a young man, full of honour and principle and hope. You wouldn't reveal my secret. And as to your first... there is something I must tell you, before you take up the game of politics as a hobby. Something I have a duty to tell you."

    To be continued...
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 22:17.
    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."

  10. #30
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    again neat ... you are driving this plot along at a fair pace

    but everyone seems to think they own a share of Goya
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  11. #31
    Major TKFS's Avatar
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    Another great update. I'm afraid poor Goya might not come out of this whole campaign with his original self intact.
    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

  12. #32
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    Exams are over, and I've decided on a M/W/F update schedule for both AARs. So hopefully the updates will be regular now.

    loki100-Oh yes, he's a valuable commodity in Madrid at the moment- nobody is aware just yet what kind of a person he is...

    TKFS-Thanks! and Goya's a tough and a hard man, with stern convictions- he'll prove a tough nut to crack, at least for now...

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Nine.


    Xavier continued to speak. "Once, I was young. Shocking, I know, but true. I was full of the same honour and glory which you put such value on. I was born into a Jewish family in Madrid; one of the few left, and we weren't well loved for it. Growing up in a staunchly Catholic neighbourhood made me and my family a target for all kinds of hate."

    He took out his pipe, lit it with a match and began to puff upon it. Goya's face was almost blank, except for his eyes, which sharply examined the features of his companion.

    "You're right; the Allegretto is exquisite." Xavier closed his eyes, and continued. "At first, I was simply scared; for myself, for my family, for my friends. I'd heard stories about attacks on Jews, and all I saw in the Catholics around me was the screaming mob with no humanity. I grew angry. I wanted to protect myself. And when Napoleon's armies came, I saw my chance."

    His eyes misted over, and his face took on a mournful expression. Goya thought he looked faintly like a walrus.

    "The new Spain that was created... it was exactly what I'd been dreaming for. Any man, even a Jew, could have a chance in it, provided he obeyed the French. But given how the Spanish had treated me, I wasn't exactly patriotic. In the chaos and panic, I gathered some weapons, rallied some like-minded friends of mine, and went up to the Count's house.

    The Count was a minor noble, of some little backwater south of Madrid. He was the worst of them all; the real reason why our district had such a xenophobic, anti-Semitic flavour. He used to shout for the people to hurt us, to treat us like animals, to forcibly convert us. I had grown to hate him like nothing else.

    So I climbed the little hill, with the others, to his house. It was not too large, for one of his position; he made up for it with his self-importance and bigoted violence. We knocked on the door, crying for the Count to come out. We shot the guards. We smashed down his door, and entered in. We climbed the stair, whooping and cheering. We'd have our vengeance, finally.

    We opened his door. He rose, white-faced, a pleading expression on his face which I'll never forget. He was shielding his wife, his children. He didn't look like the noble, arrogant Count any more- just a man, who was scared for his life, and that of his family.

    I laughed at his feeble, old form. I shot him in the head. But just like that, the colour drained out of the world. I saw his wife screaming, his children crying. I tried to rally my thoughts, but I couldn't.

    The others were cheering, baying for blood. They wanted to kill the rest, too. But I just pushed past them, and ran, ran far away.

    I never saw any of them again, nor the Countess and her children. Maybe they were killed, or they moved. My friends were all arrested; if I hadn't fled, they would've caught me, too."

    Xavier sighed, staring at the violins. "It all turns to dust, Goya. You'll spend your whole life, your whole youth, trying to do something great. You'll have an ideology that you'll cling to like it's gold, but when after all those years you turn to look at it you'll see that it was all for nothing. That's the curse of the politician, the curse of Xavier- everything you do will not work, and all you'll be left with is regret and a broken heart."

    He stood up. "I hope you'll think on what I've said, SeŮor Goya. Take heed of my words; you'll probably speak them to someone else yourself, one day."

    Goya just smiled. "You're wrong, old man. I will succeed, even if God himself tries to stop me."

    "That's what I said, at your age. You can't cheat God and you can't cheat fate, either. I know you don't care for this talk but try, just try to remember something I tell you. Just in case you ever reconsider."

    Xavier left the booth. Goya sat back, and closed his eyes. The fool didn't know a word he was talking about. His story was that of a vengeful criminal, which Goya was not. Spain would rise again. Spain would be great. And all the other nations would turn to dust around it.
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:09.
    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. #33
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    as you hint at the end, Xavier really doesn't understand who is he is dealing with ... not that Goya's self-belief or optimism is necessarily any better founded?
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  14. #34
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    Well, maybe Goya will be alright, we'll just have to wait and see!
    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

  15. #35
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    loki100- Both are ignorant of the tragedies to come, but Goya's refusal to take any heed of Xavier's wisdom will cost him...

    TKFS: Indeed so, but he has to slip up and make a mistake at some point...

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Ten.


    June 1837.

    The drumbeat sounded, one on two.

    Private Sanchez marched in time, the rhythm pounding with his footsteps. The cold sands washed around his feet, as he strode across the desert floor.

    Xavier had fallen. Rodrigo was Prime Minister now, with Goya a member of the Cortes. But all of this was far away, and Sanchez cared little for the machinations of fat men in Madrid.

    He still thought of his old captain, though, from time to time. The visions of Formosa, falling down the mountain as the snow swirled all around...

    But Sanchez didn't think too hard. He kept up the beat, as he marched in time with his comrades across the Moroccan sands.

    Rodrigo had continued the war with Morocco. The Carlists were all dead and he needed a new enemy to fight, to rally the country around him in a vision of glory, cementing his new leadership. So he sent the soldiers of the North to the distant desert lands, to lay their grubby hands on Moroccan gold.

    Sanchez wiped his dirty-ridden face, spitting on the ground. The clouds were sparse, and few. But he didn't have the time or the will to think of such things any more. All that mattered was the drum, the drum, which infected his heart as it did his thousands of identical comrades, swinging their legs, side by side into the setting sun...

    -----


    Rodrigo roared with laughter, swigging another glass of wine down his smoke-filled throat.

    He didn't care about Morocco! So why did this man keep bothering him about some telegram or other? He was the Prime Minister, for God's sake. He could do what he liked.

    The denizens of his social whirl danced around him, in the ballroom of his grand house. Two tarts adorned his arms, smiling up at him with painted faces and painted hearts.

    His own heart danced to a different beat to Sanchez's. It was a lively jig which he never outgrew. Blind was he to the needs and calls of a thousand workers and a thousand angry guns. It was not the time for war, but dancing and love, for the glory and wonders of the age.

    He kissed a girl, laughing, as his dark, neat cravat and frock coat flapped around the drunken revelry of the night. The craven fun he was having consumed him up as he span his luxuries into the night, caring about nothing but the heavy scents and wines.

    -----


    Marina's hour was not yet; not quite, anyway. But in a black room in Madrid, she began to spin and weave the clothes together.

    Her father was a harsh, and a cruel man, who cared little for her sweet face. Twenty years old, and with no knowledge of the world outside her gilded doors. Lines had already begun to set in above her smile, which was ever hopeful, ever optimistic that there must be something more than the drudgery of sewing and polite conversation.

    She sat back, sighing, looking outside. Where was the prince, to take her away from all of this? Where was her knight, her hero, her soldier? Where was everything that every book she had ever read had always promised?

    Far away, for now. Her bright blue eyes sparkled at the sunset, its beauty captivating and enthralling her. But only for a fleeting moment, before the clouds came rolling past, spoiling her dreams and drawing her eyes downwards.

    The beat of her heart was soft, almost imperceptible. She marched to no drums or war march, but to the longings and imaginings of her own invention.

    The clothes would not sew themselves. And she had little else to do.

    -----


    Xavier leant over his desk. Even out of office, his mind never ceased; there was always more to do.

    The rain pattered upon the roof, but he ignored it. His drumbeat was the scratch of a pen, his weak, frail heart pumping blood to the hand and wrist to keep it up, keep it scrawling.

    The vigour of youth was long gone from his old face. His hair drooped down, the scars on his body ached. He continued to write, ignoring the urge to stop, to sleep, to give up and leave this world behind.

    No; there was too much to do for now. Death was a luxury, and luxuries were for Rodrigo to enjoy. He just had long, empty nights to wait for, and the sharp taste of Scottish whisky to wet his mouth.

    Never stop to smell the flowers. There was too much to do.

    -----


    Goya looked out from the balcony. Gone was his uniform, and in its place a linen shirt and dark trousers. His tattered old coat still hung around his shoulders, its black tails hanging by his legs.

    The house was small, but cosy and pleasant. He could look out here, over the little streets of the town, over the common folk of the world, and be disgusted by their decadence, their greedy ways and the clogged-up vessels of their bodies.

    The war machine inside his brain turned and churned his heart and soul. He followed an iron drum, with iron sticks beating its strong, metal frame. The town below knew nothing of the Basque's future, but he did. Steel and blood were all that were to come for him.

    His cold frown pierced the sky, as he stared at the dying sun. Soon it would be autumn. He hated the autumn; a sign of decay, of loss. He cared little for such sentiment; his heart pumped as strong as ever, feeding his grand plans and fuelling his blackened soul.

    -----


    One last heart beat away. A weak heart, so little and stuttering, a sickly little thing that would one day curse its owner. But not yet.

    It belonged to a little child, in a village in Navarra. A single heart that would stop so many others.
    Last edited by Tufto; 27-02-2013 at 21:09.
    The Iron Horde: A Kirghiz Narrative AAR My Inkwell.

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  16. #36
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    A double update, to make up for the last week.

    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Eleven.


    Madrid, 3rd July 1837.

    Marina smiled, brightly, curtsying to the man.

    He seemed arrogant, and snobbish. A faint wisp of a moustache curled around his upper lip, and he kept looking around, as if trying to find something more interesting to occupy his time.

    Marina's smile turned a little colder as the silence increased. Her father stood close by, having made the introduction. His face was blank as the silence stretched on and on.

    The man kept on looking around. Marina felt her face begin to turn a little red. Wasn't he supposed to say something, anything? He was the Prime Minister, for goodness' sake! Shouldn't he have a little decorum?

    At last, the man turned to face her. "Charmed, I'm sure. Do you happen to know whether there is any wine about?"

    This next silence was shorter, but tinged with more frost than before. A truly chilly smile came across Marina's face. "I believe that there is some over there, near that marble statue at the end of the hall."

    The man- the Prime Minister, for God's sake!- nodded, waved a hand vaguely and walked away. Marina's smile snapped away and she began to walk away, but as she did so her father grabbed her arm.

    "Listen, girl, you will not act quite so rude to such an important man, not here. He is the Prime Minister! You should not-"

    "He didn't even make an effort to be polite!" she hissed back. "The man is appalling-"

    Her father tightened his grip on her arm, so as to make her wince with pain. "Have you forgotten who we are? We are merchants, not noblemen! It is only through my skill that we are here in the first place, and you will do as I tell-"

    But Marina had wrenched her arm away, and stormed off as quietly and slightly as she could manage. She was good at that; even as a child, she was always the girl at the back, unnoticed and uncared for. She was short, and thin, and although she was pretty she was not stunning. She was excellent at blending in.

    Somehow, she found herself at the opposite side of this great hall. And what a hall it was; the rich, gold ceilings, the colours, the wonder of it all...

    She was lucky to be at a party hosted by the Queen Regent herself, she knew. Her family had risen greatly; from minor merchants to the richest family in Madrid, making all the nobles angry at the new upstarts in society. Her father had almost changed his skin, from a grubby Morisco to a high gentleman. He had married a noblewoman and had gained impeccable taste, while she had been sent to a school designed to teach her to be polite and dainty.

    However, it had been hard. The bastard child of a Morisco and a Moroccan, she was looked down upon by all. Her new stepmother detested her. Her dark skin led her to be shunned by her peers, and left with no friends and no caring family.

    But she had survived, somehow. Through her own imaginings and inventions, she had escaped into a world of her own. It was still hard to fit in, but now she had her own fantasies to amuse herself with, when the going got tough.

    The precious gold walls were half-blinding her. She turned to look to the gentleman on her right, and he turned to look at her. His face was cold, and naturally fierce; she did not recognise him, and wasn't sure that she wanted to. His eyes flicked across her face, as if trying to analyse and dissect her. It was somewhat terrifying.

    She tried to smile, and curtsy. "I don't believe we've had the pleasure...?"

    "My name is Goya. And yours?"

    "Marina." How curt and efficient of him; not gentlemanly at all. But then, he was not of the nobility; she had heard his name before, and who hadn't, these days? The great hero of the Pico Demonio, who had rounded up half the Carlist leadership among the mountains of the North.

    He didn't look how she'd imagined him to look. He was handsome, but not in a smiling, gracious way; more in a sharp, icy manner. Striking, that would be a better word for it. And he was dressed plainly, too, unlike the flouncing dress of the others in the room.

    He continued to look at her, curiosity passing across his face. "So," he said, "I saw you speaking to our dear Prime Minister."

    "If speaking is the word", she mumbled. Goya laughed.

    "Very true, madam, very true. He is not known for his great conversation, and isn't fond of anyone but Castilians. I believe he does also enjoy the company of certain French women, but that's another matter entirely."

    A small grin passed across Marina's face. He was strange, this Goya; he was curt, and perhaps overly familiar; or maybe he just spoke his mind without thinking, sometimes.

    They made idle conversation, for a little while, on this and that. Marina soon got used to his company, odd and a little scary though it was. He was a curious creature; cold and hard-faced, yet he continued to come out with jokes in his own unique brand of humour.

    Then the Prime Minister shouted for attention. They turned to look, and saw that Rodrigo was red-faced, and swaying slightly, holding a bottle of wine in one hand and an empty glass in the other.

    "Oh, hell", murmured Goya softly. "This should be amusing."

    To be continued...
    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."

  17. #37
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    as ever, really admire your imagination with this, so Goya and Marina are mixed together, Rodrigo is a drunken fool and Xavier still seems driven by his dreams and hopes
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  18. #38
    Earl of Groan Tufto's Avatar
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    loki100-Xavier's hopes are few these days; he's too much of an old cynic to have many. But yes, the stage is being set for plenty of drama between the principle players.



    Book One:

    The Concert of Vienna

    Chapter Twelve.


    Goya wandered through the dark streets of Madrid, deep in thought.

    The party had broken up hours ago, and the result of it was that Rodrigo would be finished. The man had given a drunken tirade in front of the Queen and all the assembled nobles of the Empire. There was little anybody could do to save him now.

    Not that Goya wanted to. He was done with the man. He had a place in the Spanish parliament, and didn't need the drunkard's patronage any more. Rodrigo had few real friends, in fact, and as the Queen's guard had dragged him away, Goya could not suppress a little smile.

    So why had Rodrigo been so relaxed? Even in his drunken state, surely he must have realised what would happen to him.

    Goya stumbled around a corner, unable to see in the dark. Only a few roads away from home.

    Rodrigo was not quite as stupid as he made out to be; or at least he was capable of intelligence when the moment suited him. He was a slippery character, and Goya was ill at ease. If Rodrigo had some piece of information, or some other such thing which made the Queen Regent absolve him of all his sins, then he would be a hard figure to topple.

    Goya stopped, screwed his eyes up and thought. He had noticed that Rodrigo's visits to the Queen Regent's house had been remarkably long. Might they have been discussing more than simple affairs of state?

    There was one person who might know. A friend of Goya's, from his army days; the son of a powerful family, who knew the House of Bourbon well, and had power and influence among its ranks.

    Goya walked on, his mind ranging over many things. That girl, Marina, for instance. She was an interesting one; odd but clever, with a quick smile which could be exchanged for a frown in an instant. He quite liked her, in his own cold, twisted way.

    He crossed the street, arriving on the road which led to his little townhouse. It was a cosy affair, useful given his new-found position in high society. The election had been won by a landslide, propelling Goya into parliament, but Xavier continued to rant and rail against the Moderados in opposition, a new fire in his blood.

    Goya had adapted quite well to the parliamentary life. He was able to debate well, and had learnt to speak and act like a high-born noble, full of the dreary tittle-tattle of polite conversation. Already he was being noticed, and his ambition of power could well be realised in a few years.

    He reached his door, and turned the key in the lock. The last dying sounds of a bullfight echoed across the city, and Goya stole a single glance at the bright moon which had lit his way. Then he closed the door, and walked up to his study, ignoring the creak of the staircase which disrupted his long-sought silence.

    He hung his coat and jacket up, before sitting at his chair, dipping his pen in ink and beginning to write.

    "My dear De La Fuente," he scrawled. "How have you been these past few weeks? It seems like half a lifetime since the campaign in Navarra..."
    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."

  19. #39
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    so ... here I gamble on trying to second guess you, La Fuente was one of the Carlists that Goya fought on Devils Peak?
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  20. #40
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    Wow. Update-a-rama. The heart beat section up there was truly well-written. Still looking forward to seeing how this whole thing works out.
    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

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