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Thread: The SalopAARds

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    bezrodniy kosmopolit Morsky's Avatar
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    The SalopAARds






    Hello there, kind ReadAAR!

    Many moons ago, when the world was young and heroes roamed the land, I started a dinky little Crusader Kings comedy AAR, centred on the machinations of a rather despicably Machiavellian Norman lord named Roger Salopard. It was a crude pastiche of jokes stolen from smarter and funnier people and corny, clichéd references, delivered in wooden, labored prose (with far too many clunky, uninspired adjectives).

    AARLanders are apparently easily amused folk, judging by the way they showered it with praise. Despite the general literary and comedic ineptitude of the authAAR, it drew a small, faithful following and even won me a couple of awards. Ultimately it fizzled out, as AARs are wont to do, with a promise that I'll bring it back when I have the time.

    About three years have passed since that promise, and I finally have the time. Now that CKII is out and I'm marginally less awful a prose stylist than I was as a burgeoning twenty-year-old boy, I've decided to drag the musty old crowd favourite back from the shed, dust it off, rework some of the concepts and present it in a shiny new Clausewitzian incarnation, to see if it can win back some of its former glory and to check if I've gotten any better at this writing stuff with age and experience.

    Anyways, if I haven't scared you off yet by marinating in precautionary self-loathing, I hope you'll have your fancy suitably tickled by the fancy-tickling prologue to the new Salopard saga, available below. If by some chance you remember the previous version, I hope you'll enjoy its much improved remake. The first proper episode should be up tomorrow, and after that the updates will be proceeding at a leisurely once-or-twice-a-week tempo, to prevent burnout on both ends. Comments of whatever stripe (except those peddling Prada shoes, amateur porn and counterfeit Viagra) are warmly and enthusiastically welcomed. Here's hoping this one will endure a bit longer than my previous attempts at AARfare.

    Cheers,

    Morsky

  2. #2
    bezrodniy kosmopolit Morsky's Avatar
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    PROLOGUE


    The chamber reeked of death and cider, but mostly cider. As he hacked out a globby chunk of red and yellow slime, Roger Salopard reflected on the strangely apt location of his imminent demise. It was here, in the modestly appointed guest room of the Slutty Mermaid Inn and Tavern, that the Salopard dynasty began in earnest nearly seven decades ago, when its patriarch and progenitor Rollo (not that Rollo - the other one) celebrated his elevation to the ranks of nobility by navigating his mighty Viking longboat up a local serving wench. Nine months later, his son and heir was born. Now, sixty-six years later, his son and heir was lying on a stained baldachin bed, covered in blotches and boils. He was flanked by a priest and a representative of the Avranches Undertakers Guild.

    "My son? Where is my son?", the old man expectorated his desperate plea throughout another coughing fit.

    I'm sure he'll be arriving...", the priest gave him mumbly reassurance, interrupted by the creak of the chamber's massive walnut doors opening rather violently. A man and a moustache entered the room, with the sort of balls-first, brains-last swagger one normally saw among the nobility. It was the way people carried themselves when they could hide from beatings behind a large stone wall and a hundred men with swords.

    "Right, what's going on here?", a question escaped from under the moustache.

    "Your father, milord. I'm afraid he is not long for this world.", the priest replied, glancing at the pallid figure sunk between the itchy sheets. Roger Salopard, pére, was desperately trying to shuffle off his mortal coil, but the coil had snagged and tangled, and the more he shuffled the tanglier it got. Roger Salopard, fils, observed the scene with a practiced sneer.

    "Oh, just give him some time to sober up. He'll be fine, I tell you. The old goat's been tottering on the brink of death for years, but he just can't seem to make that big, important step. Can you, father?", Roger said, making his way to bedside with a couple of strides. His father coughed out something unintelligible, but phonetically most certainly insulting.

    "No... This time, it's for good...", the old man spluttered indignantly, "That witch of a mother of yours. She put a curse on me."

    "Ahh, so it's infernal forces that are at work. Perhaps the demon Alcohol?", Roger said, mockingly twirling his fingers. One didn't need a particularly sanctified nose to discern the presence of evil spirits in the room, though not the sort his father was referring to. Still, the fact remained his mother was a witch, warts and all, and was perfectly capable of doing something like this or worse. Blood is thicker than water, they say, but in the Salopard family the old proverb was traditionally interpreted as a comment on the virtues of belladonna, which left no sticky, thicky blood stains on your cousin's tabard.

    "Why would she curse you?".

    "Why does your mother do anything? She's mad. The whole damn family of hers is mad. Devil worshippers, buggerers and heretics the lot of them. I rue the day I married that gorgon. If only I hadn't been... *cough* very drunk..."

    "Yes, yes, never mind that. Tell me, though... Just in case you are about to go to the great big alehouse in the sky, are the papers in order?"

    "P-papers?"

    "The barony, father. I get it all, right? The castle, the moat, the horses..."

    "Yes, that's why I summoned you..."

    "Wonderful."

    "I had to... *cough* tell you..."

    "Yes, yes?"

    "I lost the barony."

    Roger's moustache drooped downwards along with the rest of his face, which turned an unpleasant shade of green. His left eye twitched. For a fleeting moment, Roger the son looked even sicker than his ailing father. Grabbing onto one of the bedposts for balance to counteract the unexpected rotation of the chamber, he tried to restore his composure. Perhaps he misheard? Or his father misspoke? Or there was an easily rectifiable misunderstanding with one of the rival noble families of Normandy? There was a mis- in there somewhere, Roger concluded. There had to be, or he'd strangle the cider-addled bastard with his bare hands.

    "What do you mean, lost?", he hissed, leaning over his father's wrinkly visage.

    "Lost it... in a game of craps."

    "Craps.", Roger said. It was a silly little word, craps. None of the gravitas and unearthly dread of, say, pestilence, or famine, or alimony. But silly little words could cause tremendous amounts of pain. Just ask someone who lost his John Thomas to an unlucky game of claps. Still, Roger couldn't believe it. He could, but he adamantly decided not to.

    "Craps, you say. Craps. Craps!", Roger repeated, grabbing the collar of his father's gown for emphasis and pulling his withered old frame upwards, "You lost my birthright, my patrimony, my barony, in a game of craps?!"

    "I was... *cough* very, very drunk...", the elder Roger replied with a plaintive whimper. It wasn't as good an excuse as he thought, considering that most of his earthly achievements - his son included - were made through a goblet, drunkly. The other Roger's grip loosened, and the old man slumped back onto the mattress. Other Roger stumbled away, dazed and disoriented, his innards churning in panic. It wasn't just because of his father's breath, which reeked of hard cider and rotten eggs.

    His whole world was unceremoniously tossed to the dungheap with one unlucky toss of the dice, and the tosser responsible was right there in front of him. All his life, other Roger got out of bed in the morning driven by one consoling thought: that some day, the old goat would be dead, and his estates would fall to him as his sole heir. Now, the old goat was finally nearing his expiration date, but there were no estates left to fall. Other Roger leaned against the frame of the bed, waiting for the chamber to settle down again. The priest and the undertaker stood by, perched like buzzards. The old man had been given his last rites an hour earlier, and now all that was left to do was the formality of kicking the bucket. This wouldn't stand, other Roger decided. He'd drag his father out of bed, haul him off to whoever the new Baron of Avranches was and demand that his rightful property be restored, or else. It was a foolproof plan, or it would be if other Roger had a sufficiently menacing else to back it up with. Alas, he was largely elseless, and his father was too weakened by illness to stand, let alone walk. Finally, he turned his gaze back towards his father, eyeing the old man with a look of pure, undiluted hatred.

    "Well. I hope you're happy now, you human sponge. My life is ruined.", other Roger said, gripping the bedpost so hard his knuckles turned white.

    "Serves you right, you conniving little shit.", his father crowed back, lifting a bony accusatory finger in other Roger's general direction, "You've been a disappointment to me since the day you were whelped. You think I don't know what you've been up to for the past *cough* three years? You think I don't know who *cough* hired that crazy axe-wielding Scotsman? Or who ordered the *cough* Cooking With Arsenic cookbook? You did, you slimy little newt... I have *cough* proof. I would have noticed it sooner, had I not been very, very..."

    The tirade was cut short by a particularly violent coughing fit. Roger Salopard, former Baron of Avranches, launched a parting gob of mucus over the duvet and expired, as it would no doubt later be mendaciously described, peacefully in the Lord. As for other Roger, Roger the younger, he was now simply Roger. Roger Salopard, former heir to the barony of Avranches, current pretender to the barony of Avranches. He got a crumply feeling in his throat. Part of it, a minute, barely perceptible part, was a twinge of sadness at his father's passing, the sort of normal human reaction to death's dreary inevitability that was right and proper in the circumstances. Most of it, however, consisted of three parts apprehension about an uncertain future as a landless vagabond and two parts regret that he hadn't strangled him with his bare hands while he had the chance. And so, queasily drunk from this cocktail of mixed feelings, Roger stumbled out of the Slutty Mermaid Inn and Tavern, where it seemed the Salopard dynasty had finally come full circle.



    +++


    The last eight months had not been kind to Roger. Shorn of his slice of the demesne's income, he was forced to improvise, adapt, swim with the murky currents of life's great ocean, grab the bull by the horns and pray he comes out of the ordeal with his innards safely lodged inside his stomach. And so he did. Unfortunately, the bull in question was one Knuckles Pierre, Normandy's least notorious loanshark. Pierre was the least notorious because very few of his clients lived to spread the tales of his notoriety. He was a simple man, whose two passions in life were counting money and killing people, and by miraculous coincidence he had stumbled upon a career that allowed him to make good use of both. Roger, whose passions in life included counting money and not getting killed, had borrowed a piddling sum from Mr. Pierre's firm, and found to his chagrin that the sum in question had grown to gargantuan proportions over a mere couple of months. The concept of compound interest was foreign to much of the European nobility, but it had rather rudely made itself at home in the Salopard suite of the Slutty Mermaid, raiding the pantry and drinking all the ale. Roger was penniless, miserable and would soon find himself at the bottom of the Channel with a millstone around his neck. His faithful retainers and loyal co-conspirators had mysteriously transferred their loyalties to the new Baron, Richard le Goz. All of them except, of course, LeBoeuf, whose bulbous frame and lumpy bald head obediently waddled after Roger since childhood, sticking to his side through good times and bad. Mostly bad.

    LeBoeuf too was aware of the gravity of the situation, and fidgeted on his bunk bed while Roger nervously paced to and fro, stroking his luxurious black moustache. The long, oppressive silence was broken by a rap on the door, which startled both of them. He was here, Roger thought. A bit early, but then again Knuckles Pierre was never early nor late - he arrived exactly when he wanted to. There was another rap on the door.

    "Salopard! Are you in there?"

    "No, no. No Salopards 'ere, love. Just us girls.", Roger squealed out a reply after tightening his esophagus and endeavouring to retract his scrotum as far back as it would go.

    "I bear a message from Duke William the Perfectly Legitimate of Normandy!", the voice behind the door announced.

    "Ugh... enter.", Roger said. Messages and proclamations from the Bastard were seldom pleasant, but they certainly ranked higher on the hedonic scale than having your fingernails removed one by one with a pair of blacksmith's pliers and then shoved into your nostrils. The ducal messenger entered with a customary flourish.

    "Ahh, Salopard. Travelling incognito?"

    "That's none of your business. Now, what does the Ba... His Grace the Duke of Normandy want with a lout like me."

    "Right, then, straight to business...", the messenger said, clearing his throat before unfolding a scroll of parchment, "We, Duke William the Perfectly Legitimate of Normandy, having confirmed our rightful claim to the crown of England which is not at all spurious and the Pope said I can so shut up, have hereby decided to call upon all our faithful Normans to fulfill their duty to me as their liege. For the purposes of assembling a mighty conquering army the likes the world has not seen since the days of Alexander, we hereby summon to military service all men, boys, pensioners, executioners, stationers, hedge knights, hedgehogs, hog farmers, heretics, lunatics, phlegmatics, stigmatics, mages, sages, pages, knaves, slaves, stable lads, unstable lads, Britons, Bretons, cretins, Lollards, dullards, mallards, Lombards, laggards, blackguards, brigands, braggarts, cutthroats, cutpurses, Cathars, cat fanciers, dogsbodies, mercenaries, arsonists, arse bandits, merry men, confidence men, Scotsmen, watchmen, woodsmen, madmen, highwaymen, rogues, rapscallions, scoundrels, wastrels, minstrels, outlaws, inlaws, scofflaws, ne'er-do-wells, good-for-nothings, layabouts, lawbreakers, nutcrackers, maneaters, manhandlers and manicurists of the Realm. The host will depart from Rouen and land somewhere on the other side. All recruits are required to bring a blunt and/or sharp object, a spare codpiece and two weeks' supply of hard liquor. Payments in gold, land, and nubile Saxon women will be made to any survivors after the campaign is over."

    "I see.", Roger mumbled.

    "And now for some bad news, I'm afraid. We regret to inform you that your beloved mother has passed away three days ago due to demonic possession."

    "Oh, good."



    "I take it, Sir Roger, you will be joining our noble Duke's righteous war against the Saxon usurper?"

    "Of course, of course. Why, I'm positively itching to go brain some Saxon peasants."

    "That's the spirit, sir! Don't worry, the Duke said it'll all be over by Christmas."

    "Yes, isn't it always?"

    "See you in Rouen!", the messenger chirped, turned on his heel and exited the room with a customary flourish. Roger hurried to slam the door behind him, and continued to pace up and down the cramped space with even more nervous intensity than before. Suddenly, he paused, flaring his nostrils as if he were a bloodhound on the trail of some brilliant thought. His lips curled into a smugly self-congratulatory smirk, the way they always did when he thought of something interesting.

    "Pack your rags, LeBoeuf, we're leaving.", he announced, hurrying towards his own meagre personal effects.

    "Are we going to Rouen already, milord?", LeBoeuf asked, his big, dumb puppy-dog eyes widening in surprise, "Oh, this is exciting! I've never been in a foreign country before."

    "We're not going to Rouen, LeBoeuf."

    "We're not? But you said..."

    "Nevermind what I said. England is the hairy, malodorous arsehole of Christendom, and I'll be damned if I end up risking my hide against a shield wall of seven foot tall blond blue-eyed Teutonic monstrosities named Alfred just so His Grace the Duke can finally get people to stop calling him 'the Bastard'."

    "Oh..."

    "Do you have any idea what England is like, LeBoeuf?"

    "No, milord, which is why..."

    "That was a rhetorical question. I'll tell you what it's like, to spare you the trouble of sightseeing from the business end of a Saxon spear. It's soggy and depressing, is what it's like. There's no culture, no cuisine, no art. Their idea of a fun time is rolling a piece of cheese down a hill. Their chief exports are fog and embarassment. The men drink warm ale and incessantly complain about the fact that they're English and the women all look like Norwegian boys. A village of Pecheneg mud huts makes a more appealing target for conquest."

    "So, we're not going to..."

    "No, LeBoeuf, we're not."

    LeBoeuf seemed taken aback and mildly disappointed at the news. While Roger was packing his tunics, breeches and furry codpieces into his chest, he stood by with a constipated expression, trying to work through the flood of new information. At last, he spoke up.

    "But, milord... If we're not going to invade England..."

    "Yes?"

    "But we are going... Where are we going?"

    "LeBoeuf, have I ever told you about my uncle Rotbert, the wandering warrior?"

    "Oh yes, milord. The way he'd come and visit and put you on his knee and whip out his sword..."

    "Yes, but that's not..."

    "And then he'd touc..."

    "THAT'S NOT IMPORTANT NOW, LEBOEUF!", Roger fumed, "What's important is where he went. And that's where we're going."

    "Where, milord?"

    "Apulia, LeBoeuf. The real land of opportunity for enterprising Normans. A land of sunshine, gentle, salty breezes from the Mediterranean, and frisky native girls with magnificent knockers. A land where a man can make his own fortune by stabbing a couple of mincing wops and deciding their land now belongs to you. Unlike that drink-sodden imbecile of a father of mine, Uncle Rotbert knew how to make something of himself. Given the fact our options here boil down to certain death and certain death, I think it's best if we set off for the south."

    "Oh, that sounds exciting, milord!"

    "It is. I shall go to Apulia, spend the next few decades serving the most powerful Norman lords in the world and amassing scads of cash, and then, when I'm old and infirm, I shall retire to a picturesque villa in the countryside and organise lavish parties, where kinky Saracen girls will entertain myself and my fellow decrepit lechers with unspeakable acts of sexual depravity!

    "That sounds even excitinger, milord!"

    "Right, then. Go down and saddle the horses. We've no time to lose. If Madam Mimi asks about the tab, tell her we're just popping off to Vexin to pick up some boar meat and we'll be back tomorrow.", Roger ordered.

    And so they went, traipsing towards fame, fortune and buxom Italian girls on their tired old nags. When the Duke of Normandy's hosts boarded the galleys in Rouen a few weeks later, there was no Salopard in sight. They say a butterfly flapping its wings in Galicia can cause a succession crisis in Lithuania, and when the banners were unfurled and the trumpets sounded at the first battle of the Norman Conquest, one butterfly in particular was already fluttering his way through southern Italy, and not a single flower could feel safe.

  3. #3
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    I seem to recall the original very vaguely, assuming I haven't gone mad. Looks like a good start, I can't believe Roger lost the barony in a game of Craps! >.<

    I look forward to seeing what the Salopards can manage in Italy. :)
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  4. #4
    Wizzaard Estonianzulu's Avatar
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    I feel as though adventure and excitement stalk the land like two giant stalky things. Though I think describing our hero as a butterfly is an insult to butterflies
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    I'm looking forwarding to the upcoming mischief and tomfoolery. In other words, subscribed.

  6. #6
    bezrodniy kosmopolit Morsky's Avatar
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    Saithis: You were one of the commenters on the original AAR, so no, you're not mad. At least not on that account. Thank you for reading. Piety of the North Star is, hands down, one of the best AARs on the forum, and I'm looking forward to its announced CKII successor, which I'll hopefully be able to follow with some regularity. Welcome back!

    Estonianzulu: Yes, he's more like a death's head moth. Close enough, though. And yes, Adventure and Excitement stalk the land, shadowed closely by their cousins Splitting Headache, Social Disease, and Plenty of Regrets.

    Waringham: Welcome aboard. There's plenty of mischief and tomfoolery afoot, so I hope you'll stick around.

    Anyways, apologies for the slight delay. I had an impromptu thesis defence yesterday, so I spent the half of yesterday scrambling to slap together a PowerPoint presentation and the other half celebrating my academic successes. Now that I've officially got a Bachelors in English Lit, I think it's safe to say I won't be getting a job anytime soon, so I'll have plenty of time for AAR writing. First episode should be up in a couple of minutes.

  7. #7
    bezrodniy kosmopolit Morsky's Avatar
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    1.


    "Halt! Who goes there?!"

    "Salopard!", Roger shouted in reply to the guardsman on the tower.

    "What did you call me?!"

    "No, I'm a Salopard!"

    "You shouldn't be so tough on yourself!"

    "What?"

    "I mean, we've all done some things we're not proud of..."

    "No, it's my fam..."

    "... But self-deprecation's not healthy. You have to accept yourself the way God made you."

    "Look, you don't understand..."

    "We all feel like that sometimes. But at the end of the day, you have to get out of bed in the morning, look in the mirror and say: 'I like you, Gausbert. You're a friendly, positive person, and you're doing a banging good job keeping Capua safe from rampaging bandits.' The key to success in life is thinking positively. I read that in an old Greek scroll I found, by Autoepicurus of Thebes. Have you read it? It'll change your life, my friend. I could lend it to you if you like."

    "Listen, you babbling imb...", Roger stopped himself at the nick of time, remembering that it might not be a good idea to insult the man who literally held the keys to his fortune. His right hand clutched the handle of his trusty dagger, and it took about a minute's worth of imagining the dagger neatly slicing the guardsman's carotid in half to regain his composure.

    "It's 'Positology, The Art of Thinking Positively' by Autoepicurus. Brilliant man he was, full of wisdom."

    "..."

    "Shame he died so young."

    "..."

    "Hanged himself on an olive tree in his garden. Some people, they're just too ahead of their time."

    "May I speak to the Count?", Roger asked, squinting at the top of the tower with unspeakable malice. It was a shame, thought Roger, that looks couldn't kill.

    "Do you have an appointment?", the guard replied.

    "No."

    "You can't speak to the Count without an appointment."

    "Well, can I get an appointment?"

    "I don't know, sir. You'll have to talk to the Count about that first."

    Roger grabbed his moustache, damn near tearing it out by the root. Where reasoning failed, good old fashioned bull excrement would certainly do the trick.

    "Ah-hah-haa... I'm sorry! I completely forgot! I do have an appointment with the Count!", he shouted, banking on the likelihood of the guard being as dumb as he sounded.

    "Oh! Are you the new tutor?!"

    "Yes, why not? Now, will you let me in?"

    "And the fat fellow there? Does he have an appointment?"

    "Yes, of course. He's the, uh, the assistant tutor."

    "Hang on, I'll lower the drawbridge."

    +++



    "Sir Roger Salopard and Boeuf LeBoeuf, milord.", the page announced as Roger and his portly companion made his way into the quarters of Richard Drengot, Count of Capua and last known liege of Sir Rotbert Salopard, valiant knight and gallant adventurer. Here, at last, after weeks of trudging through mucky forest paths and sleeping in lousy pilgrim accomodations, his destiny was within reach, seated on a finely carved walnut wood throne and warily eyeing the new arrivals. Roger bowed, perhaps a little too obsequiously, and LeBoeuf huffily followed suit. Roger's destiny, meanwhile, stood up and approached the pair.



    "Get up, get up.", Count Richard said, "Salopard, you say? Any relation to Rotbert?"

    "Yes, your Lordship. That's why I'm here. You see, I am his nephew...", Roger beamed, putting on a well-practiced, disarmingly sycophantic smile. He had picked it up as a fourteen-year-old at Madame le Fan's bordello in Caen, studying the way the working girls approached their Jeans, and to his surprise he discovered the methods of the world's oldest profession were also quite applicable in the world of the world's second oldest profession.

    "I thought you were here to educate my son? You are who you say you are, are you not? Because if you're not who you say you are, whoever you are, I'll find out who you really are, and when I do, I'll make sure that you aren't who you really are anymore. Are we clear?", Count Richard said, pulling his shortsword with lightning speed and pointing it awfully close to Roger's privates. Roger felt his colon clenching with anxiety, and inwardly cursed the fact his prospective employer wasn't quite right in the head. Then again, when you're powerful, lots of people have a vested interest in stabbing you at the first opportunity. Even at his most insincerely amicable, Roger always looked like the sort of person who'd stab you in the kidneys over a collection of smutty woodcarvings, let alone over a county.

    "Clear as the summer sky, milord. And I assure you, I am every bit who I say I am.", Roger replied, his face frozen into a nervous grin. A bead of sweat appeared on his forehead, made a determined trek downwards, and finally got lost in his left eyebrow.

    "And your fat friend here?", the Count turned to LeBoeuf, "Are you who you say you are, fatso?"

    "I are, your Lordship!", LeBoeuf spoke up enthusiastically. Not even the most paranoid man would suspect something more was going on behind his vacant, bovine gaze.

    "Your Lordship, if I may inquire... How is uncle Rotbert?", Roger continued. Uncle Rotty was his ticket to success. Perhaps he could even get him out of this tutoring nonsense and give him a more substantially rewarding court position.

    "Not too good, I'm afraid."

    "Oh. Recovering from war wounds?"

    "Well, you might say that, although he hasn't had much success. He's been dead for the past eight years."



    "Oh bug... Oh, how terrible. How did he die?", Roger's mood darkened.

    "A three-day drunken bender. One of his rowdier ones."

    Roger's mood darkened further. Alcohol had felled a lot of Salopards, right down to his grandfather Rollo, who was found dead one balmy August morning, his head dunked into a barrel of Flemish Abbey ale. It seemed uncle Rotbert wasn't so different from his old man after all.

    "Yes, I'm afraid alcoholism runs rampant in the family. One of those familial quirks."

    "Of course, it wasn't the alcohol that killed him."

    "No?"

    "It was the stabbing."

    "Stabbing?"

    "Technically the blood loss from the stab wounds, but you understand..."

    "Yes, yes... But what do you mean by stabbing, milord? Stabbed by whom?"

    "Right... Your uncle got quite drunk one evening, as he was wont to do, and decided to conquer Naples with a group of his mates. Not the brightest idea, you might think, but somehow the crazy bastard managed to overpower the guards in a brilliantly executed sneak attack, then beheaded half the unarmed Greek courtiers in Aversa and forced that Spartenos fellow to abdicate in his favor."

    "And then?"

    "Then he and his men knocked up half the Countess' ladies-in-waiting and went to bed. The next morning, he had 19 daggers sticking out of his spine. Damned shifty Greeks. No sense of honour, I tell you."

    "Quite."

    "Oh well, you know what they say, 'See Naples and Die'. I'm afraid he hasn't left anything of value behind. Except, of course... Seeing as he never officially renounced his claim to Naples back to the Spartenoi, his heir - that would be you - has a rightful claim to the county."

    Roger's eyes widened with delight, as his moustache was propped upwards by a wry smirk. Fate had finally decided it had enough fun at his expense, and decided to toss him a wonderful opportunity. All of the seething, boundless resentment he felt towards his father for losing the barony disappeared, and was promptly replaced by a new ambition. Now, all that was needed was to cajole Count Richard into pressing the claim for him.

    "Not that it matters. You're here to teach, not to cajole me into pressing your claims. Aren't you?", Count Richard said, grabbing the hilt of his sword. Roger's eyes narrowed with fear, and his moustache drooped back into position.

    "Of course, my lord. Perish the thought."

    "Right.", the Count said, slumping back onto his throne, "I've hired you because of my son. I need someone to straighten him out. He's taken a bit too much of a liking for the native customs. Just last week I caught him rubbing olive oil into his hair. Olive oil! What self-respecting Norman warrior would spend all his days primping in front of a mirror, I ask you?! And he keeps running about with local children, even after I specifically forbade him. The last tutor almost broke his birch trying to make the boy see reason, but it didn't work."

    "So you relieved him of his duties?"

    "Oh no. They found him in his quarters with an icepick lodged in his eye."

    "I see...", Roger mused. Sailing through life on a bountiful river of bull excrement had its advantages, but occasionally the roaring rapids of dissimulation and flattery proved too treacherous to navigate, crashing Roger's galley onto the rocky shoals of Sticky Situations. This was one such occasion, Roger surmised, and if he managed to get out of it with his eyeballs unperforated he would count it as a success.

    "I take it he and young master..."

    "Barthelm. Although he insists I call him Bartolomeo."



    "...Barthelm, didn't see eye to eye, as it were. I assure you, milord, I shall be able to teach your lad proper Norman virtues, in addition to the Seven Liberal Arts and the Three Conservative Arts. For a... small, symbolic fee, of course?"

    "I thought we agreed you'll be working pro bono.", the Count replied with a scowl, "Room and board and two meals a day is all you'll get. If I don't see results in a few weeks, I'll feed your dangly bits to the hounds."

    "Of course, milord, of course. And might I add, you've got quite a knack for motivating people. The mark of a truly great leader.", Roger replied, bowing almost involuntarily. Inside his head, he was already assembling an escape plan. Perhaps going somewhere saner, somewhere like the court of the Duke of Apulia, would be the smarter option. After all, his uncle had died without heirs, and once it became clear that Roger's professed scholastic skills were an elaborate ruse, the same fate would most likely befall him as well. He'd have to study the guards' shifts and sneak out at night, when they're not looking.

    "Yes, I am great, aren't I?", Count Richard grunted in agreement, "He's upstairs in his quarters. I'll have the guards escort you there."

    +++


    "Please, I begga you for mercy! I only took a little bit of honey for my famiglia!"

    "Silenzio! I offer you my friendship, I welcome you into my house-a, I treat-a you like my own flesh and blood, and this, this is how you repay me? You abuse-a my hospitality and bring dishonour to me. I am hurt by your betrayal, Teddy."

    "Please, I have a famiglia! Five little bears to feed, and another one on the way-a."

    "I have a famiglia too. And in my famiglia, when our honour is insulted, we make-a the vendetta!"

    "No, Don Bartolomeo, please don't break-a my legs! Not the leg-breaking! I need-a my legs to get around!"

    "Well you ain't gonna get around no more! I break-a you legs! Bap bap!"

    "Ahhh! I'm sorry, Don Bartolomeo! I'm sorry!"

    Roger cleared his throat rather ostentatiously, which made the raven-haired boy pause his little game and look up towards the door of the chamber.

    "Oh, hello. I was just punishing Teddy for being a bad bear.", little Bartolomeo said cheerfully and threw his teddy bear back into his toy chest.

    "This is my friend Vinny the Icepick. He's from the streets.", the boy said, pointing to his rather feral-looking companion, whose squinty little eyes bored into Roger with frightening intensity, "Do you wanna play Break-a The Legs with us? Who are you, anyway?"

    "Perhaps later, milord. I am your new tutor.", Roger replied.

    Both of the boys were now looking at Roger with a cold, almost murderous glare. An awkward silence ensued.

    "Oh.", Bartolomeo said.

    "Ya want that I should get the icepick, boss?", Vinny leaned in to ask, but the Count's son patted him on the shoulder, instructing him to stay.

    "D-d-don't worry, I'm not as... rigid, as your former instructor. In fact, you can just go on doing whatever it is you like doing. Italian, Norman, no big difference either way. No need to bring sharp objects into the equation, now, is there?", Roger assured the boy, whose mood instantly improved at the news.

    "You promise?", Bartolomeo asked. Vinny took his icepick out of his robe and idly twirled it in his fingers, still glaring at Roger.

    "You have my word, young master Bartolomeo.", Roger promised. Of course, his word wasn't usually worth much, but this time he meant it. Waking up with a long, pointy thing jabbed in his ocular cavity wasn't part of his grandiose plans of Apulian adventure. He didn't normally cower in fear before an eleven year old boy - three or four times in the past, at most - but his instincts told him this little boy was not to be messed around with.

    "What is the meaning of this? Who are you?", another voice cried out from behind Roger, who turned to see who it was. Before him stood a fragile-looking old man, evidently a monk of some sort, clutching a birch rod in one hand and carrying a pile of books under his arm. Roger took in these details, put two and two together and felt a lumpy sensation in the back of his throat. The jig was up, it seemed. Or was it? Think fast, he thought to himself, and hastily began to put together a backup plan for dealing with the boy's real tutor.

    "Well, I might just ask the same of you, my studious friend.", Roger huffed, leaning in towards the old man with as much menace as he could muster.

    "I am Albertus Tedius, professor of divinity. His Lordship has tasked me with moulding the mind of young Master Barthelm.", the old man replied, "I don't know who you are but I suggest you leave at once."

    "Oh, I see. There's been a misunderstanding. See, I'm the new tutor.", Roger insisted with an amiable oh-my-what-an-awkward-situation laugh, "Haven't they informed you that your services aren't necessary?"

    "Outrageous! I received a letter from Chancellor Torf himself, stating that the count is in need of an expert educator with a firm hand. And you, you look like nothing of the sort! Where did you study? What's your specialty?", professor Albertus replied, gesticulating with such force that his books dropped from his grasp and landed on the floor with a thunk.

    "Where did I study? At the, uhh, Saint Fra... mund...a School of Divinity. In Normandy."

    "Never heard of it."

    "Oh, it's quite new and experimental. Really cutting-edge scholastics research. How many angels dancing in a horse's mouth, that sort of thing.", Roger said, "Look, there's obviously been a misunderstanding of some sort. Perhaps one of the secretaries got confused. Could you wait outside with LeBoeuf until I end the boys' lessons for today, and then we can sort this out in a civilised way?".

    After being elbowed in the ribs, LeBoeuf dragged the protesting old professor to the hallway outside. When they were both outside, Roger slammed the door shut and turned towards the boys, who were none too pleased with this turn of events.

    "I don't like-a the looks of that guy.", Bartolomeo said sourly, "Are you really a tutor?"

    "Of course I am. And don't worry, I don't like him either. Now...", Roger reassured his young ward and turned towards Vinny, who was still playing with his icepick, "Might I borrow that for just a few minutes?"

    Vinny reluctantly parted with his favourite toy, and Roger approvingly patted him on the head.

    "I'll be back in a bit. You boys behave yourselves.", he told them, and left for the hallway, where he was cornered by an irate Albertus.

    "Listen you, I don't know what sort of tomfoolery you're trying to pull, but I've got a letter..."

    "Guards! Guards!", Roger shouted.

    "What do you think you're... Urk!", the old man managed to utter, but found it rather difficult to enunciate anything further with an icepick stuck in his throat.

    "Urk!", the learned professor of divinity squeaked out his unimpressive last words, and fell to the floor. Two guards came running down the hallway, and behind them was the Count himself, sword drawn and looking quite peeved.

    "What's going on here?!", Count Richard raged, observing the scene in shock. Bartolomeo and Vinny peeked out of their chamber, curious about the noise.

    "My lord, this man...", Roger said, triumphantly pointing to the dead divine on the floor, "... was a hired killer, sent to assassinate your son Barthelm..."

    "BARTOLOMEO!", the boy shouted from the doorway.

    "...and perhaps even yourself. He is one of the most vicious assassins in Italy. They call him 'The Professor'. As you can see, he's the one who dispatched your last tutor, with his weapon of choice, no less. He tried to do the same to me, but fortunately I managed to wrest his murderous implement away from him. Unfortunately, in the ensuing scuffle I accidentally stabbed him in the throat."

    "Assassin?! He doesn't look like one!", the Count roared suspiciously, pointing his sword at Roger.

    "Uhhh... well, there you go, my lord! He doesn't look like an assassin! Which is... which is all the more proof that he is one!", Roger replied, "I mean, you don't expect them to send someone who looks like an assassin, do you? They'd be too easy to spot. Your enemies are devious, far too devious, my lord."

    "Yes, by God, you're right! I should have seen through the old man's ruse before.", Count Richard paced around angrily, and then turned to Roger, "i suppose I should thank you, Salopard. I owe you a debt of gratitude, and I suppose it's only fair I reward you for this."

    "Ooh, perhaps the Count could pre...", LeBoeuf offered, but was silenced with a practiced backhand slap.

    "My liege, I would never be so rude as to demand payment for my services. My greatest reward is to serve you. I seek only what is in your best interest", Roger replied, bowing to his liege, "Which reminds me... Would it not be in your best interest to see your borders secure?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "Does your Lordship not feel threatened - at least a little bit threatened - by the presence of an untrustworthy and malicious neighbour?"

    "Of course I do."

    "Do you ever worry, my lord, what those conniving Greeks are up to? What shady Byzantine tricks they've got up their tunics?"

    "I do! Blast those foreign scoundrels!"

    "Who knows, my lord? Perhaps they were the ones who sent this foul murderer after your progeny. And tomorrow, who knows what they'll send? Another assassin? A whole army?"

    "You're right! I can't just sit back and let them get away with this. I know it's that Spartenos. He's been after my land for years now!"

    "And I've heard rumours about the Duke of Apulia, milord. You're surrounded by enemies. If only, your lordship, there was some way to solve this problem. If only the county of Napoli were in honourable Norman hands, controlled by a staunch friend and ally of Capua rather than some feta-munching reprobate... This someone could serve as a bulwark against the Apulians and the Lombards, and help protect your lands from all the bastards that want to get their hands on it... "

    "Yes... Salopard, I've decided to press your claim to Naples!", the Count announced after a few minutes of thought.

    "Oh, yes, I completely forgot about that!", Roger exclaimed, rather unconvincgly feigning surprise, "A wise and thoughtful decision, my liege. I assure you, when we succeed, you shall have a firm friend, close ally and, hopefully, future vassal in Roger Salopard, Count of Naples."

    "Yes, yes... You'll have to wait a bit. My levies are no match for the Greek bastard right now. In the meantime, I'm appointing you as my steward."

    "Your generosity and magnanimous spirit are the stuff of legends, my lord. One more thing... Perhaps, you might help a wandering knight like myself settle down, establish a family, set down roots in a strange new land..."

    "Of course. I know just the gal for the job. A redhead. You know how they are."

    "Thank you, milord!"



    "Guards! Dispose of this swine!", Count Richard pointed to the corpse of the tutor. Roger hurriedly yanked the icepick from the old man's neck. As the guards dragged the corpse out, he turned to the Count and bowed once more.

    "The boys need to continue their lessons, milord. If you'll excuse me..."

    "Yes, yes, of course. Carry on.", the Count said irritably and followed the guards out of the hallway.

    Roger turned triumphantly, whistling as he cleaned the blood off the pick. The boys, meanwhile, gazed in wild wonder at him, their mouths agape.

    "Here you go, son.", Roger said as he handed Vinny his toy back, "Be careful where you point that thing. Someone might get hurt."

    Vinny nodded and mumbled something incomprehensible in the native dialect of the region. Bartolomeo walked out of his chamber, carrying himself with all the pomp and self-assurance befitting the son of a count, and extended a hand to Roger.

    "What'sa your name?", the boy asked him.

    "Roger. Roger Salopard."

    "You know what, Don Ruggiero. I think you an' me, we gonna get along just fine."

  8. #8
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Well, good to know I'm not mad. You're most welcome, this is one of the funniest AARs I've read and I'd be disappointed in myself if I didn't keep up. I'll be sure to let you know when the North Star continues.

    The update is great. Roger seems to be, more or less, Blackadder with a twist of Monty Python, which is great. He's cunningly manipulated the Count and twisted him around his finger, now let's see what he can do with a County of his own (assuming all goes to plan, which I won't be surprised if it doesn't.)
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  9. #9
    Quite the entertainement we have here. I can't believe there is a dynasty called "Salopard" that is going to own land, hilarious! Typicaly, that name was given to children of whores when the identity of their father was unknown. I will be following closely.

  10. #10
    I love it. Simply love it!

    A lot of AARs try to keep the same tone. They're still great, but it's still nice to see something different. It's like having a donut for breakfast when you usually have cereal. It's not that the cereal's bad, it's just different.

  11. #11
    Wizzaard Estonianzulu's Avatar
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    Blast those cunning assassins. The last thing you'd ever expect them to be is icepicked by their own icepick.

    How much ice is there to pick in Naples?
    LibrAARian of the EU1 LibrAARy and the EU1 LibrAARy updates
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  12. #12
    bezrodniy kosmopolit Morsky's Avatar
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    Saithis: Thanks for the compliments. Yes, Roger is heavily inspired by Blackadder, though I've tried to keep it at the level of homage rather than outright plagiarism. Dunno how much I've succeeded. As for the Count, he's proud and paranoid, and Roger's good at playing to people's weaknesses.

    bince: Welcome aboard! I'm glad someone got that bit.

    Hyena Dandy: Thanks for reading! There's plenty of great AARs in all styles, of course, and some people have very strong preferences for one over the other. I'm not much for screenshot-heavy gameplay AARs, though I try to keep up with the better ones, and there's plenty of people who refuse to read anything narrative. The SalopAARds is an almost suicidal combo of heavily narrative and comedy, so it's not exactly everyone's cup of tea. I like the donut comparison, unless you mean "greasy, unhealthy and with a hole in the middle".

    Estonianzulu: Yes, you never know what those assassins are up to. As for the icepick, there'll be plenty of picking and icing going on in the near future.


    Anyways, the next update should be in a couple of days, but before that I'd like some feedback. Specifically, about the length of the updates. I initially intended them to be about 3-4 pages of text in Word, but the prologue ballooned to 10 pages, as did the first episode. Fitting all the stuff I've charted in the outline takes up a lot of space. I worry this may be overkill for the vast majority of people. One possibility is to change the pace of the updates by breaking them up into smaller, easily digestible chunks. It shouldn't be a problem to me, because the planned out updates are pretty much structured that way already: contemporaneous events, often not connected to each other in any other way. That's my question to the people who've commented so far, as well as any possible lurkers hiding in the shadows: would you prefer a steady diet of shorter, more vignette-like morsels a couple of pages long instead of a single massive 3000 word Sextuple Cheezburger Monstrosity Meal (tm) once a week? How much text can you process before your eyes start glazing over and you click away?

  13. #13
    Wizzaard Estonianzulu's Avatar
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    They are a bit long, but I typically break my reading into two runs. For example, this last one I read up till the introduction of the young ward, then came back and read the second half.

    So, maybe half the length? Its really easy to read a lot of this at once, its well written and very funny.
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  14. #14
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    Either structure your postings into "sections" with witty titles instead of just "+ + +" or break them into smaller postings. I'd be fine with both, as long as you keep up the high-quality tomfoolery. To be honest, I didn't know Salopard was just another word for bastard until one of the previous posters pointed it out. Your token Bavarian reader loves that.

  15. #15
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    You failed to include Mexican bandits and Methodists on William the Perfectly Legitimate's list
    A very, very enjoyable AAR thus far, and it really does rise below vulgarity!
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  16. #16
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    I don't have too much trouble with the length of updates myself, the writing is interesting enough to keep my attention. :P
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  17. #17
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    Great work. I especially liked seeing the different traits of your characters after I had read the prologue. They fit perfectly.

    The CK2 player in me cant help but think what a monster Spymaster Roger would make if his education had panned out better.

    As far as the length of the updates, I think they are perfectly fine. You might reach a larger audience if it was shorter, but dont force it.

  18. #18
    bezrodniy kosmopolit Morsky's Avatar
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    Estonianzulu: Ah. Yes, cutting it down by half is reasonable, especially since four or five pages is about the length of the average more-or-less self-contained section in the previous updates.

    Token Bavarian Reader: Oh, witty chapter titles were definitely planned. But then I tried to come up with some, and to my chagrin found that I ran out of bad puns halfway through the outline. They will get shorter, with more concentrated tomfoolery.

    Eams: They're working for the Norwegians. Thanks for reading, and rest assured this AAR will rise even lower!

    Saithis: That's good to hear. However, for the sake of the people who have a problem, I'm going to cut them down to more manageable portions.

    BaronVonHarry: Thank you for reading, and especially thank you for commenting. I'm glad you enjoy the AAR. And yeah, the characters pretty much write themselves. Roger's a pretty solid spymaster as it stands, with a nice 20-something intrigue (that's going to get even twenty-somethinger as a result of his various schemes and plottings in the future), but I didn't want to make him too good, lest it spoil the comedic aspects and make the game too easy. Once again, thanks for the feedback, and I hope you'll stick around.

    Okay... I've decided to shorten the updates but quicken the posting pace, so the end result is still pretty much the same. Here comes the next episode...

  19. #19
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    2.



    "The best spot is right here, just above the belt.", Roger said, pressing his dagger uncomfortably close to the kidneys of a frightened pageboy as his young ward watched, enraptured, and absorbed the lesson.

    "You just cover the mouth like so... stick the blade in and give it a good twist."

    "What about from the front, don Ruggiero?", Bartolomeo asked.

    "There's never a good reason to approach from the front, but if you absolutely must, the key is to slash the wri...", Roger continued, but was rudely interrupted when the doors of his private quarters swung wide open, banging on the stone walls. A huffy, sweaty LeBoeuf stormed in, looking terrified.

    "Milord!", LeBoeuf shouted.

    "LeBoeuf, I specifically told you not to interrupt, didn't I?", Roger said, rolling his eyes and releasing his grip on the pageboy, who hurried off, relieved that he was no longer the demonstration aid in Roger's little school of murder.

    "Yes, milord, but this is..."

    "I could have killed the poor little snot-nosed brat over there."

    "Sorry, milord, but there's..."

    "What? Has the Count returned from battle?"

    "N-n-no milord! We're under siege!"

    Roger sheathed his dagger and stroked his moustache. The war had started over half a year ago, and the Count had assured him things would go swimmingly. However, the first battle, in which the dastardly Greeks confirmed their utter lack of respect for gentlemanly fair play and sportsmanlike behaviour by deviously bringing more soldiers to the battlefield, ended with an uncomfortable defeat for the Capuans, and since then Roger was increasingly troubled by the sinking feeling that things wouldn't go as swimmingly as advertised. Granted, the intervention of Duke Robert Guiscard has turned matters in Capua's favour, but news traveled slowly during wartime. Who knew what trick the Spartenoi had pulled? Did perfidious Byzantion intervene to protect its last, desperate outpost in the former Exarchate? Did Spartenos hire a mercenary army? By all accounts, the Greeks were resoundingly thrashed by the combined forces of Count Richard and Duke Robert, and it was only a matter of time until their cities and castles fell to the Norman invaders, but the news of a besieging army at the gates threw all that into doubt.



    "Siege?"

    "Siege, milord!"

    "Right, let's go and have a look, then. Bartolomeo, you shall have to excuse me for a moment."

    "'Ey, no problem, don Ruggiero. Me and Vinny are gonna go play Break-a The Legs some more."

    With a curt nod, Roger dismissed his pupil and followed LeBoeuf to the ramparts of the castle, where the guard was already at full alert. Cautiously, Roger peeked out over the wall towards the field below, and turned to LeBoeuf with an exasperated sigh, smacking him upside the head.

    "LeBoeuf..."

    "Yes, milord?"

    "That's your siege down there, is it?"

    "Not my siege, milord, the Neapo..."

    Roger cut him off with another practiced smack.

    "LeBoeuf, look down there. How many men do you see?"

    "Uhh, well, there's... one, two, three, fo... no, that's an olive tree, I think..."

    "Well?"

    "Five, n-nine... err... carry the one... uhh..."

    "Nineteen, LeBoeuf. There's nineteen of them."



    "Whatever you say, milord."

    "LeBoeuf, nineteen men camped in front of the castle gate eating soggy cannoli and making rude gestures at the 200 armed guardsmen behind the gate is not a siege. It's a bloody queue. A siege, LeBoeuf, is when a few hundred angry men with catapults, trebuchets and siege towers surround a castle and either wait until its inhabitants have eaten the last of the castle cats or use the aforementioned catapults, trebuchets and siege towers to storm the castle and kill everyone inside themselves."

    LeBoeuf nodded, slightly embarassed.

    "As you can see, they have no catapults, no trebuchets, no siege towers, and I strongly suspect the only Greek fire they've got is an unpleasant burning sensation in their nether regions. There's barely enough of them to cover the front gate, let alone starve us to death, so unless they cunningly disguise themselves as scullery maids and get in through the kitchens I hardly think we're in any mortal danger."

    "Good point, there, Salopard! I'll have some guards posted in the kitchens.", the commander of the guard, Count Richard's oldest son Jordan, added in between barking orders at the guards. Roger winced.

    "You don't suppose, Master Jordan, it might be an altogether more productive effort to simply send, oh, fifty men outside and clean out the Neapolitans? We outnumber them almost ten to one."

    "Sorry. I was given orders to defend this castle to the last man and I intend to fulfill them to the letter.", Jordan replied, doing his best to look soldierly and authoritative.

    "Well, you know what they say, milord. The best defence is a good offence.", Roger said, gritting his teeth. It was moments like these, depressingly common over the year or so he spent as a guest of the Drengots, that made him wish he stayed in Normandy and tried his luck in foggy, miserable England. Old Bill the Bastard was a lot of things, but stupid wasn't one of them.

    "And consequently, the best offence is a good defence.", Jordan noted triumphantly, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to secure the culinary perimeter from hostile forces."

    "You mean, see if there's any Greeks sneaking about in the kitchens."

    "Quite, quite. Keep up the good work, Salopard."

    After Jordan left, Roger quietly buried his face in his palms, cursing the day he stepped foot in Capua and praying for the war to finally end.

    "Morons. I'm surrounded by morons.", he said with a sigh and leaned on the wall, gazing down with disgust at the implacable band of Neapolitan soldiers below, who were describing, in a very vivid game of charades performed for the bemused garrison of the castle, exactly what they thought of the Capuan soldiers (as it turned out, they did not think of them very highly) and what they would do to their wives and daughters once the walls were breached.

    "Hello! You over there!", Roger shouted in the direction of the soldiers. He got the attention of a couple of them, who were in the midst of a rather naturalistically performed commentary on the libidinous proclivities of Capuan women. The two Greeks stopped greeking about for a moment and, after consulting amongst themselves, went to get a third Greek, whose armour seemed shinier. The third Greek stepped up closer to the castle walls, within earshot of Roger.

    "Yes, hello. Look, I'm sure you're all having tremendous fun on your little camping trip, but wouldn't you prefer to end this nonsense and go back home?", Roger shouted, hoping to make the Neapolitans see reason. It seemed like the Greek in the shiny armour, presumably the leader of the gang, was listening.

    "I mean, look... There's no use pretending this is a siege, is there? When it's not."

    The Greek said nothing.



    "I've got 263 strapping Norman warriors here. Big, strapping lads, descendants of the most bloodthirsty, vicious, axe-wielding lunatics ever to rampage across a continent full of bloodthirsty, vicious, axe-wielding lunatics. And they're just itching, itching..."

    The Greek said nothing. LeBoeuf scratched himself.

    "... to sally out and chop you lot up into mincemeat. Now, I'm not a violent man. I'm sure we can come to an agreement. Why, who knows? Perhaps Naples has already fallen? Perhaps the war is already over, and we can all go home in peace."

    The Greek said nothing.

    "As your future liege, I can guarantee you personal safety and no reprisals... If, of course, you surrender. Just think, you can ride by my side into Naples, as my personal guard, and be amply rewarded with land and money. All you have to do is surrender now and acknowledge me as your rightful lord and ruler."

    The Greek said nothing.

    "So what do you say? How about you surrender and come in for a nice goblet of wine and a hot meal?"

    The Greek was quiet for a few moments, but then suddenly extended his right hand upwards and shouted something in Greek. Roger didn't know what "Malaka!" meant, but he deduced from the context that his attempt at negotiation had been a failure. The Greek turned on his heel and marched off, cheered on by his comrades in arms. The nineteen men started a "Ma-la-ka! Ma-la-ka!" chant, which soon fizzled out.

    "Morons. I'm surrounded by morons.", Roger mumbled, once more burying his face in his palms, "Right, I'm off to bed. LeBoeuf, wake me up when the war is over."

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    Commander Jordan = Hugh Laurie?

    Also, Malaka.

    Great update as usual!
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