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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Mr. Capiatlist

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Really? It's very rare that I ever see you make a grammar/spelling mistake.
They are there, trust me. Maybe I am the only one who sees them. ;)

I never was really a fan of Ælle's stories for some reason. But those last few chapters were superb
Thanks. The choice to do Ælle's story was mostly wanting to go back to the days of the Saxons but also give a glimpse of how a story changes. When Werna was reading to the kids, he'd read their version of things. You got some hints as to how the story changed right through the end.
 

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Bastions
Chapter Forty Eight: The Queen of Cities
Part 1


Prelude:
It was a sort of tradition that the heir to the Kingdom of Prussia would be the ambassador to the Emperor of the Romans. Tensions between the two states were always high, mostly due in part to the long history of war and conquest between the two. Within the Queen of Cities was the Prussian Quarter, based in the city of Galata. Much of Galata's day-to-day affairs were run by the local merchants and the city enjoyed a privileged status as a sort of embassy-city. In many ways, Galata was a part of Prussia. The hope was that after so many years at each other's throat, especially over Prussia's ability to leave the Black Sea, a Prussian presence in Constantinople would help keep the flow of goods open. Of course, the Romans resented a large portion of the Prussian fleet constantly being kept outside their capital as well as how Prussian trade became to eclipse other nations' trade in the capital. Prussia's better relationship with the Muslims also meant that goods from the west were imported into Galata and then imported from Galata to Constantinople (along with an increase in price). The Romans grew to loathe the Prussians even more, who were already sick and tired of their southern neighbor's complaints. Prussians were quick to point out that they paid tariffs to ship goods from the mainland to Galata, despite it never entering Roman lands and that many Muslim ships paid a Sound Toll when heading out of the Aegean on their way to Galata. They also said that if Rome had even thought ahead for a second they wouldn't have been so quick to isolate themselves from half of Europe and their trade.

May 15th, 1385

Doyvát the Younger sat in his office in Galata shifting through official-looking documents and slowly sipping fragrant Greek wines. Outside things went on as normal for the tiny exclave. It was Doyvát's duty as the Lord Commander of the Black Sea to rule the city, which was more or less the political manifestation of the Prussian Fleet in the Black Sea. The Price enjoyed the solitude of work; it gave him time to think about matters that he felt were important. It also gave him a good sense of the work of a Lord like his father. But unlike his father he was not safe in some ancient Prussian fortress; he was here on the front lines of a war waiting to happen. Just looking for a spark or somethi...

A knock at the door jolted Doyvát back into the real world. "Come in," he said.

The door creaked open and the veiled visage of the Lady Grey appeared carrying a tray with several sweets from the mainland as well as a fresh bottle of wine. "Gifts from your father," she said. "He said they'd give you a taste of home." Doyvát knew that she was trying to smile under her veil. She was much more comfortable away from his father who, ever since he was a youth forced into war, could be a callous man without realizing it. Well meaning, but callous.

"Thank you, my lady; will you be having one as well?" Doyvát took a pastry off the tray, leaving two or three untouched.

"They will not remind me of England, my lord," she responded.

Doyvát gave a little laugh, "I am not trying to offer you a taste of England: I am trying to offer you a pastry." Lady Grey suddenly became flustered trying to find a place to put the tray down, grab a chair to sit in, and claim a treat for herself all at the same time. She tried to always act her best around the Prince, he had freed her twice: once from England and once from Memelgrád. She knew, though, that the King did not like her being anywhere near the Prince.

"There has been talk of war," Lady Grey said.

"Sarah, how long have we known each other?" Doyvát asked.

"Sixteen years," the Lady blurted out quickly.

Doyvát was stunned momentarily by the Lady's quick reply. Over the years he had learned to sense her face through the veils. He could tell she was blushing and she was ashamed. "Yes, there has been talk of war with Rome once again. They loathe the Galata deal and they want to kick us out, presumably to shut down Prussian trade again. And while I can understand the why, I don't get the how. We've beaten them when they were in a better condition than this, I don't understand why they think they will win this time. Emperor Stephen is losing control of his nation. I wake up each day assuming to hear that he has been over-thrown by the palace guards."

"What will you do if they seal you in Galata?"

"My lady, I plan to be sealed in here. There is a reason I take refuge in this fortress. This tower lets me see all of Galata and all of Constantinople. I will watch as my fleet burns that city to the ground. I tire of these wars. I tire of Rome. I have never said this in my life, but right now I'd rather be in Poland than stay in Galata another day." Doyvát suddenly made a waving motion in front of his face. "This talk of war is not appropriate discussion between friends; especially between a Lord and a Lady."

"I've recently heard talk of bride soon? You are probably Europe's most powerful bachelor right now; you must constantly have fathers asking for you to marry their daughters."

"I never really hear much from fathers directly. I believe most of them go to my father and try to explain why they'd make the best political ally. I believe my father is saving me for a particularly strong political alliance of some sort. Not sure who with, but I rarely speak to my father especially over these sorts of matters."

"Maybe it is one of those Roman princesses," Lady Grey pointed out.

"I doubt it, Emperor Stephen has only a couple sons and I strongly doubt any of them will take the throne: especially if he is toppled. If I am to wed a Roman I assume my father will wait for Stephen to get kicked out and for the war to start. Then we'll put some new hapless moron on the throne and I'll wed his daughter if he has one."

Under the veil Sarah frowned, the remains of her brow furrowed and for her it caused a great deal of pain. "How can you sound so cold about it? You talk like it is nothing more than a chess game!"

"It... it is nothing more than a chess game, Lady Grey," Doyvát said finishing his pastry, "Not that I particularly agree with being a pawn in the whole mess."

"Have you never loved anyone?"

"For a while, when I was young, just after returning from one of my trips abroad I fancied a girl by the name of Matilda, long black hair that ended in curls, green eyes, she was very beautiful. She was very nice, I first met her around the palace. She had arrived with her family, an old branch of my own... very distantly related... she was reading to some of the younger children and answering their questions with a very patient, calm voice."

"I remember her," Lady Grey said, "She was very nice. I was one of her hand maidens. She was always so friendly. She'd talk to me for hours while I worked on her hair. She didn't treat me like a monster."

In the brief instant Doyvát remembered that he had been the one to ask Matilda to be kind to Sarah, he never thought she had taken it so far... maybe she had never needed to be asked in the first place.

"Do you think of her often?" Sarah asked.

"Yes, especially when I am stuck with the people of court. I try to imagine her grace and patience and it makes me a better person: it gives me the strength to have patience too. She has saved many a situation and she does not even know it."

"You should find her again. Write to her. Win a tournament for her!"

Doyvát laughed. As he settled down he put his feet up on the table and put his hands in his lap. "No, she is married now. Her father came looking for a business contract with the court. While he was in town he met another small noble family looking for partners and married her off to one of their sons to prove that they were honest in their dealings. I... I..." Doyvát stopped. He recalled her crying uncontrollably for hours. He remembered in her moment of weakness she had stolen a kiss from him, and he stole ten times more from her.

Sarah's smile faded as she watched Doyvát slip into a sort of trance. "My Lord?" she asked.

"Sorry, I... I slipped off into thought there." The Prince had a genuine smile again. This was nearly a decade ago; he could not pine for a long-lost love for too long. He reached for a pair of pastries and handed one to Sarah. He also poured her a glass of wine, which she drank carefully under her multi-layered veil. "I didn't think you actually drank wine," he admitted.

"One does not live my life and not drink, Master Davidson." Her tone was very serious in comparison to her usually light tone. She finished the glass and put it down, Doyvát filled it with more. He didn't really understand why he did it, but it was a sort of instinctual habit, burned into him from years of treating guests.

"I guess not," I was inevitable reply. There was little else to say. The word 'understand' just had no place here, not in the least.

"I'm sorry, I have ruined the moment. You seemed busy when I came in, I should go," Sarah made excuses but didn't seem to actually make an effort to leave.

"No, I was not busy. I rarely am. Nothing here is dire and I am really just a figure head," Doyvát said.

"If you have so little to do, why do you stay up here for so long?"

"This is my garden. I come here to not be anywhere at all. I come here to be alone and to be myself. If I didn't take time each day to be myself I am afraid I'd forget who I am really supposed to be. Not just a pawn for my father to play... but my own person. And I come to terms with the fact that when I am King... I too will play my own son like a pawn... a piece to be sacrificed or even upgraded in the right circumstances. I assume that my father hates himself for doing it. Or maybe he doesn't... my father... my father is very different. He is tempered... like strong steel. He was at war too much as a young man."

"Your father always came off as being confused as how to be a father and a ruler."

"He was a general and a knight... He was a fighter. He never stopped being a fighter, he has trouble remember how to treat non-fighters. Especially women... women other than my mother and grandmother," Doyvát said.

"He made me that beautiful silver mask... I never got something that was simultaneously so caring and so insulting at the same time..."

"That sounds like something my father would do. Honestly, he was more worried about your self esteem than your looks. The man spent a long time fighting in wars; there is nothing that would make him uncomfortable now."

"You take after him well, in some ways," Sarah replied, slightly unhappy.

Doyvát's face suddenly looked sunken, "Yeah... I know," he replied.

"If it was me that you had to marry, would you do it? If I was some Roman Princess who would keep Prussia safe and make your father happy, would you do it?" Lady Grey asked.

"Yes," Doyvát answered quickly. Lady Grey pulled her veils back and watched Doyvát's reaction, which was limited due to his own service during the occupation of the Roman Empire. He saw the scars, but he had also seen men pushing their own entrails back into their bodies while sobbing for a God who seemed more than willing to just watch the sinful folly of men. "I have seen your face exactly twice since we've met sixteen years ago, Sarah. How old were you when we met?"

"Twenty: I am five years older than you," she said.

Doyvát stood up and walked around the table. With a gentle finger he lifted Sarah's head and placed a kiss on her lips. When he stood back he saw that her eye was wide open and she stood there completely silent. "Don't think that I didn't know, Sarah. A long time ago I would have thought myself insane for doing that, but I have long since abandoned my childish prejudices. I have tried to placate myself with distractions and others... and it has mostly been out of fear... fear of losing you as a friend. I cannot ever really be with you, such is my duty."
 
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Mr. Capiatlist

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Doyvat, Jr. and Sarah: "star-crossed lovers"?
In a way. My personal take is that Doyvát does not want to romantically love Sarah and that Sarah would not want to physically love Doyvát. Doomed to take pleasure in each other's company, I guess.
 

enf91

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So even though Sarah is scarred and horribly disfigured, Doyvat still wants to hit that? Where are the maids like the ones Aethelwulf (or whoever the lustful one was) used to spend time with?
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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So even though Sarah is scarred and horribly disfigured, Doyvat still wants to hit that? Where are the maids like the ones Aethelwulf (or whoever the lustful one was) used to spend time with?
It was Kiten, and no he does not. He views her as a friend, especially after sixteen years. She thinks she is attracted to him, but I doubt she would ever actually be comfortale with a physical relationship ever.
 

enf91

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I see... I think I read your previous comment as "Doyvat doesn't love Sarah, and Sarah doesn't want to sleep with Doyvat. But the other way around is true." Sometimes there's nothing to read between the lines.
[non-sequitur] It seems Doyvat has discovered the age-old problem: Life sucks, but you don't want to die.
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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I see... I think I read your previous comment as "Doyvat doesn't love Sarah, and Sarah doesn't want to sleep with Doyvat. But the other way around is true." Sometimes there's nothing to read between the lines.
[non-sequitur] It seems Doyvat has discovered the age-old problem: Life sucks, but you don't want to die.
I think he is also rather lonely and isolated, mostly his own doing so he won't be as hurt when he finally gets caught up into his father's very delayed plans.
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Hey guys, new update isn't too far away. Got caught up in some weekend activities. Expect something tomorrow or Tuesday!

If there are any comments or concerns about the new style, please let me know. And pictures will be returning too, which is something I've been lacking recently.
 
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Mr. Capiatlist

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Bastions
Chapter Forty Eight: The Queen of Cities
Part 2


Prelude:
Dynasties had a much vaguer meaning in the Roman Empire. Bloodlines and connections often drove succession, but were often more a pretense to strength and wealth. It was under the Saxons that true dynastic works crept into the Roman Empire. No longer was it simply enough to be distantly related to the Emperor and have a larger army to become the next Emperor. Now you had to at least be his brother or uncle and have a larger army to become the next Emperor. Emperor Stephen was propped up by the wealthy merchants and the Prussian navy. They kept the rift-raff out of Constantinople and helped protect the Emperor when he traveled his Empire. The Empire was divided into dynastic holdings, all relatively "new" comers and relatives of the Saxons in Constantinople. The names were ancient, but tangentially related to their locations. The Saxons were quick to make themselves seem the rightful rulers of the Empire, as if the Saxons had always been the rightful rulers of Rome. They were quick to bring up Constantine's crowing in York, never mind that the Saxons had not yet left the mainland. Most recent were the creation of the two "Marches", realms that were deemed too vulnerable to be simply under the control of nobles. The two Marches existed under almost perpetual martial law. Even the nobles could come under scrutiny in the Marches. But it was from these supposedly neutral territories that a new series of conflicts would spring.


The political divisions of the Roman Empire c. 1385.

June 25th, 1385

From the tall tower of Galata Prince Doyvát would be innocent if he said he could not make out a speck under a red banner flying over the great palace of Constantine. It was a head, the head of the former marshal of the Roman Empire. The Marches of Rome were restless; they felt that they could not properly defend Rome from their enemies if they could not defend it from her rulers. So it was that they began the out-right massacre of the Saxon nobility and any Greek who supported them in their territories. They had the backing of some old-blood Greek nobles, though they were probably little more than a front for military rule. Rome seemed poised to head down a period of leadership under warlords.

So far though, his father had insisted not getting involved. Unless Galata was threatened, Prussia was neutral. The Prince knew it would not last for long. He kept the navy and the guards ready. Already nations were picking sides, with Serbia backing the Marches and Bulgaria defending their former masters. Doyvát's spies kept him well informed of enemy troop movements and positions. He knew how little chance the Saxons had without Prussia and so he sent letters to his father begging to allow him to assist them. A Rome under an Emperor is better than a Rome under some General or 'Protector' as they demanded to be called. At this point it would be much easier if the Romans brought the war to him, if they attacked Galata he could bring the wrath of the Prussian fleet on them.

"Your appointment is here, my Lord." Doyvát looked at his steward who had entered without knocking. But he looked flustered, people were starting to get skittish, especially those with no military background.

The Prince stood up and nodded, "Aye." He walked alongside the steward to the receiving room: a lavish room with black and white banners and scenes from the bible and Prussia's greatness draped all around. At one end was Doyvát's throne, the arm rests were mast-less triremes and back of the chair was topped with three coats of arms. In the center was that of Prussia. On the left was the shield of the navy and on the right the shield of Poland.

"All rise, his Royal Highness, Prince Doyvát the Younger of Prussia: Lord Protector of Poland and Lord Commander of His Majesty's Black Sea Fleet," shouted the caller. Everyone stood and turned to face him as he entered. Once he had reached the throne and had turned around the Prince motioned for everyone to sit. He scanned the crowd and saw someone he didn't expect to: Emperor Stephen.

"My Lord, please state your business," Doyvát asked politely.

"David, please I must speak with you in private," Stephen said in a hushed voice.

"Fine, everyone, please sign in with my steward if you haven't already. I shall return after official state business has been sorted." Doyvát lead Stephen into a small backroom behind the throne. "What is it, Stephen?" Doyvát asked with a very familiar tone.

Stephen was about to complain when a silver-faced woman walked in and sat down, taking out several sheets of paper and a quill. "Who is this?"

"My aide, I asked you a question. You are putting Galata at great risk being here."

"I want to seek safety here."

"No."

"I want to resign from the Emperorship... I want out, I don't want this anymore. When I was young and stupid I fought for this stupid crown and now I want nothing to do with it."

"Do what you want with your stupid crown. Just give it to who you want and be done with it," Doyvát said. But even as the words left his lips he was already regretting it. Stephen opened a bag and produced the crown. "No." Doyvát said.

"You would turn down Rome?"

"After the hell you make it out to be, yes. Yes I would."

"You would pass up the chance to outrank your father and hold the rank of the sacred line of Caesars?"

"Yes I would."

"You cannot keep Galata out of this war, Doyvát. It will come to your walls eventually. And when it does I will probably be either long dead or long gone."

"So you expect that this will soon turn into a civil war?"

"A civil war implies I can fight back. The war has already started. The word from the Marches is untold beheadings: they are killing nobles for their loyalty to me."

"They are killing nobles to free spaces for their own lackeys. Everything is a pretense. They are going to build a new monarch and they are going to do it from the ground up."

"I've already lost family to this mess. I am childless; my brother was hanged as a traitor... where will the crown go now?"

Doyvát grew quiet, "You need to find someone and get them to Galata: the stronger the ties to the throne the better. I am going to be very honest with you Stephen: if you want out of this the easiest way for everyone involved will involve a length of rope and a sudden stop."

Stephen's face whitened. "I cannot just flee?"

"Why? So they can kill you there?" Are you hoping that when they do find you you'll be too drunk to care? To feel it? Where will you run to anyway?"

"North, as far north as I can get."

"Keep your problems out of Prussia, okay? We are tired of it all, seriously. We don't like the Roman Empire. We don't want to be the Roman Empire. And we especially do not want to fight your fucking battles every time we turn around. Why do you Romans find this so hard to understand?"

"But... but we aren't Romans... we are Saxons."

"Look at you! You speak Greek, you lounge around in the warm sun and drink wine, and your suitors play lyres around you as you eat grapes. How is any of that Saxon? Do you speak Saxon at all? Have you even tasted mead? Have you ever dealt with the harsh winters of the Baltic or of England? What do you know of being Saxon? I get life isn't easy for the Roman Emperor but have you ever considered that people don't like being ruled by people who aren't of their own tribe? The Greeks don't want a Saxon ruler: they want a Greek one. They wouldn't take a Prussian one either. When the Saxons left Prussia, they were unwelcomed because they weren't part of the tribe. They tried to be different, they tried to stay separate. Now you've done it here too. You had a chance to leave a mark on a great empire but instead you wasted it trying to pretend you were something you aren't."

"What about you? Escaping the responsibilities of your father to hide in the balmy Balkans?"

"Look around you, if I wanted to escape I'd go back to Poland where the biggest problem I'd deal with is farmers stealing each others' wives and pigs. I am here to fix things, your things, and that is what I intend to do."

***

July 5th, 1385

The Elder Doyvát was still in Memelgrád. He hadn't left the city in years. His son was stuck in some tiny fortress too far from safety. Now his letters became more and more urgent. The King knew it would only be a matter of time before they got pulled back into the cycle of wars within the Roman Empire. The Prussian King knew that Constantinople was the dam which kept the tides of Islam on the right side of the Bosporus. He assumed that one day all of Asia Minor would be in the hands of the infidels, but Constantinople had to remain strong. It meant the Romans had to stop fighting themselves.

"More wine my lord?" a server asked.

"Yes, please," the King replied. The server poured mead from a pitcher into a glass full of ice. The new fashion was to drink slightly higher proof mead over ice. It was aged similar to many of the Irish whiskeys in oak barrels.

"And for you, my dear?" the server asked.

"No, thank you." The new resident was Sophie of England, daughter of the King of England. She had just come of age and was to be wed to Doyvát on his return to the capital. But with the war looking more and more impossible to avoid, it would likely be a long time before he could call the boy up from Rome. In his hand the King held his son's most recent dispatch: Stephen had tried to crown the boy and Doyvát was going to organize the loyalist side. On top of that the boy had picked out a successor for the Emperor and was going to put him on the throne when it was all said and done. Yet another pretender on the throne, soon being Emperor would mean nothing. Prussia needed out of the Balkans and she was the ticket. The King could tell though that she dearly missed her home and it showed on her face and in her voice. She had been anxious to meet his son, but now was just becoming anxious in general.

The server walked off and the King turned to his guest, "How are your Prussian and Greek lessons going?" he asked.

"Poorly," she said very flatly.

"I am sorry to hear that," he said. Inside he was already growing tired of the girl. He had done all he had thought to do to try and cheer her up short of calling the Prince back from Galata.

"Soon might I walk to Galata?" she asked, there was a small lift in her tone and the King hoped it was a sign of improvement to come. But he had to be honest with her.

"I am afraid not, it seems the Roman Empire is about to decent into civil war. My son and Galata will likely get caught up in it all. I doubt it will be safe there." He could tell she only got bits of it, her face was slow to react to what he was saying and she did not maintain any form of eye contact. Now would have been a great time for the Lady Grey to be here. As quiet and generally useless as she was for the King, someone who had little else to do but translate between English and Prussian would be of great use. He shook his head.

As he walked off Sophie's heart sank. She could tell that she did not please the King. He constantly shook his head and spoke slowly to her and used as simple of words and concepts as he could. Her language lessons were difficult; it gave her headaches trying to keep that day's Prussian lessons separate from that day's Greek lessons. All the while she was unable to meet her future husband or anyone else for that matter. What if he died in Galata? Would she just be shipped off back to England: a pointless waste? She did not notice any other children in the castle. It was so strange, only one child? They had risked much on such a move. She was alone again, she thought to herself that she might as well get used to it now. Abandoned. Alone. Adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Beside her the King's chess set was still out. She could see where he had idly and subconsciously played with the pieces. All the pieces were knocked over save two pawns and the King. At least, she thought, she'd have a fellow pawn soon enough.
 

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Good old Romans. Always killing each other while their enemies sharpen their knives. Why does Prussia dislike the byzantines so much. Wouldn't it be wise to support a fellow christian nation that keeps a few Muslims at bay?
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Good old Romans. Always killing each other while their enemies sharpen their knives. Why does Prussia dislike the byzantines so much. Wouldn't it be wise to support a fellow christian nation that keeps a few Muslims at bay?
It is mostly a rivalry between their monarchies... and Rome closing Prussian trade down from time to time when it feels it isn't being paid attention to. The elder Doyvát even points out:
The Prussian King knew that Constantinople was the dam which kept the tides of Islam on the right side of the Bosporus. He assumed that one day all of Asia Minor would be in the hands of the infidels, but Constantinople had to remain strong. It meant the Romans had to stop fighting themselves.
 

zomeguy

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This AAR is absolutely amazing, I started a campaign similar to this just to see how it would play out except I took Pomerania instead of Prussia. In the holy war to claim Prussia Morcar died with only one son. I want to try to keep my nobles Anglyccyn but I'm not sure it will be possible.
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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I moved this from the Homelands thread as it was a bit of necromancy.

This AAR is absolutely amazing, I started a campaign similar to this just to see how it would play out except I took Pomerania instead of Prussia. In the holy war to claim Prussia Morcar died with only one son. I want to try to keep my nobles Anglyccyn but I'm not sure it will be possible.
I am very glad you liked it!

Depending on whether you are playing CKI or CKII it can be really easy or pretty hard. In CKI I feel that provinces convert culture much, much faster and more readily. But so do characters: the are more likely to be born with the local culture than their parent's culture so it really depends. In CKII provincial culture is much more static unless it is in a different cultural group, but characters don't seem to pick up the provincial culture all that often: so it is much easier to keep the line "pure". Now it was my plan all along to have the two cultures merge. I mean: I called it Tales of the Anglo-Prussians from the get go. ;)
 

flyguy117

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Shoot, I am blind.:wacko: Anyway, when does Timur come to Anatolia with his hordes of screaming steppe hindus.
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Shoot, I am blind.:wacko: Anyway, when does Timur come to Anatolia with his hordes of screaming steppe hindus.
A while, actually. I have some room to fit them in. Maybe they can have the next arc.
 

mayorqw

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I can't quite express how awesome 'screaming steppe hindus' sounds :D

I really do want to see how Timur's successes in Anatolia affect the Romans; from the Modern Day maps you posted, Rome encompasses more or less it's current European portion: will the Empire fragment and suffer internecine fighting and foreign invasion (more so than at the moment)? Will a stronger monarchy, perhaps backed by the Prussians, arise in the face of the Turkic onslaught? How will the Empire's relations with Bulgaria, Serbia and the other Balkan countries be affected by a shift in policy from Asia to Europe?

All of them are questions whose answers I eagerly await :)
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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I can't quite express how awesome 'screaming steppe hindus' sounds :D

I really do want to see how Timur's successes in Anatolia affect the Romans; from the Modern Day maps you posted, Rome encompasses more or less it's current European portion: will the Empire fragment and suffer internecine fighting and foreign invasion (more so than at the moment)? Will a stronger monarchy, perhaps backed by the Prussians, arise in the face of the Turkic onslaught? How will the Empire's relations with Bulgaria, Serbia and the other Balkan countries be affected by a shift in policy from Asia to Europe?

All of them are questions whose answers I eagerly await :)
They are in fact great questions and central to Rome's position in Europe... but it means probably eight more years of writing... T__T
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Bastions
Chapter Forty Eight: The Queen of Cities
Part 3


Prelude:
Eventually the King was forced to give into his son's demands. Constantinople had to stand and it had to be an ally of Prussia or Christendom was doomed. Rome broke out into a new series of civil wars, this time between the military governors and their loyal armies and the Prussian-backed Crown-Prince Godwin I. Emperor Stephen I went into hiding, likely in Bulgaria. The conflict quickly boiled over to include the neighboring rivals of Serbia and Bulgaria. Both were former Roman territories, but the chance to attack each other was too much to be passed up and the Bulgarians were the first to send troops to elevate the siege of Constantinople. An important moment came early in the war when the Patriarch of Constantinople sided with the monarchy, declaring the Marshals and their allies "heretics" and excommunicating all of them except their Serbian allies. In the north, King Doyvát was slow in calling up an army. Prussia had grown weary of invading Rome and many of the nobles were against getting involved for fear of sparking similar rebellions in at home. So it was up to the Prussian navy to bear the brunt of their activities until help could come from up north. The most unlikely ally, though, of Rome came from the East. Armenia, seeking stability on one of the borders, sided with the monarchists out of fear of an expansionist Rome. The help, even from heathens, was sorely needed, though both Doyváts knew it would weaken the monarchy's standing with the people and church.


Yet another Roman Civil War: Purple/Pink represents the Crown Prince Godwin I and his allies; Blue represents the military rebellion.

October 31st, 1395

All Saints Eve was a night of still and silence in Memelgrád. Sophie looked out one of the many windows in her room. Life was strange here. The letters promised from England never arrived, though the King had frantically searched for anything of the sort. Abandoned; a simple formality in the building of alliances. In the dark corners of the palace she wept. Down in the courtyard a large group of people were marching under torchlight. Banners and flags flew all around them as the form of the King went to embrace the man leading the parade. After a few moments everyone headed inside. Still, she could hear nothing. Suddenly there was a knock on her door. "Come in," she said with a sigh.

"My lady, you must get ready!" her hair maiden said, quickly grabbing proper clothing and a brush.

"What is it now?" Sophie asked, uninterested.

"The Crown Prince! Prince Doyvát is here! This is your chance to meet him!"

Sophie stood up and let the maids take care of getting everything set and fitted. After what seemed like only a few minutes another woman entered, this time it was the Queen. She watched her future daughter-in-law get ready, critiquing her hair, her dress, her skin, her breasts, everything in a scheme to maintain her position as "woman of the palace". Eventually chatting could be heard coming down the hall and Sophie recognized one voice as that of the King. But the chatting moved on beyond the door and kept going without so much as pausing.

The Lord-Protector was tired. The journey from Kiev had been a long one. He had little time to spare with his father's niceties though they were much appreciated. His father seemed unnaturally happy for a monarch at war. Doyvát settled into a chair in a private dining room and grabbed a goblet. The table was finely set and the Prince noticed an extra spot. "Gustæs, Taw?" the Prince asked, innocently.

"Ien Ahwikánæn lá. Æs wuldáju Tu Hime nác sastadæt geárol."

"Sárik, Æs wor besik æt se Dienwid. Ien Prizjákl Tawus ze se Kárs?" Doyvát asked. When his father didn't answer the Prince set his goblet down and folded his hands together on the table, "Kát ist He, Taw?" The King didn't know what to say, instead he just signaled to the door and the maids outside half led and half pushed Sophie into the room. The Prince looked at the girl and smirked, it was as if his father thought he wasn't mature enough for such a change in his life.

"This is Princess Sophie of England, your betrothed," the King said awkwardly.

The Prince stood up and took the lady's hand, "Charmed." He gave her hand a small kiss and led her to the table. He pulled her chair out and even pushed it in. Her heart raced. This was it, this was the man who'd father her children and share her bed. He was handsome and well connected; he had left quite an impression on England during his stay there though it seemed he was most famous for his escapades in Constantinople. She swallowed and tried not to be awkward, but she had nothing to say. No, she had plenty to say, but she couldn't speak it in Prussian.

The two men quickly forgot the woman and began chatting quickly in Prussian. They had much to say, it was obvious. Sophie tried to listen in, but this was not the slow annunciated speech of her teachers: it was quick and full of complicated words. She was afraid to leave, trapped in place by a mix of fear and shame. He future husband seemed calm, almost even aloof, despite the King's worry. The Princess watched their faces, building a story from their reactions. Both were hardened politicians. They hid their emotions well. But there were small little tells all over them. The younger would tap his finger if annoyed, the older would stroke his beard if he had already dismissed an argument in his head. They seemed to also see these tells, but continued their speech anyway. Eventually the younger one produced a map of the Greek lands. He motioned above the coast of Pontus but the King shook his head. He dragged his finger from Bulgaria to Athens. The prince then jabbed his finger into the middle of the Greek peninsula.


Portraits of two Davids: King Doyvát I (left) and future King Doyvát II (right). The two men got along well despite disagreements.

With a quick motion the King brushed the whole subject to the side, "We need to talk about a wedding," he said in English.

The Prince tapped his finger against the table, "Æs mussáj ien Kárs ándget." His voice was indignant and tired, "Se Wædán cannáf gadisát."

The King looked rather sad, "Een hápe Siniga ist ien hápe Bærá."

"Wiw ist næ een Siniga. Næ álæ," the Prince replied.

"Wiw ist práts; Wiw ist lapnæ; Wiw ist daliŝ. Kát ist apálms?"

"He gábef ien Kárs, Tewá. Æs bin se Laof-Komándæt ŝew Melnájurá Ármádæn! Æs hám næ laks in ien Wædán! Indrátsak." the Prince shouted. Tears began welling in Sophie's eyes and he snapped to look at his betrothed after her first real sob. At first his face was filled with annoyance, but it quickly melted away into a genuine sympathy.

"You're not going back to the front, Doyvát. I need you here. I need you safe," the King said. He wanted Sophie to know she had an ally. "You have too much of my stupidity and too much of your mother's stubbornness."

"Says the man who spent years fighting a one-man war against an entire Kingdom," the Prince said.

The King paused, "That was different. That was my fight. This is not your fight. This is some petty Roman squabble. Rest assured that I will get Godwin on the throne and we will leave Rome stable. But I am King and you are my son. You will return to your post in Krakow... after your wedding."

"Why so soon?"

"Her father... the King of England, remember, is waiting to hear back. She has played her role, now play yours." The King was finished. He took the map of Rome and rolled it back up and handed it to his son. Doyvát snatched it up and tucked it back into a round case.

***

November 1st, 1385

The Prince sat in one of the many rooms currently not containing his father. It was strange to be home again. Home - a weird thought. It had been a long time since he called any one place home. Wanderlust had dominated his life. Looking out one of the many tall windows he peered out into the harbor. The sea, the sea was his home. So long as he was close to it he was comfortable. It will be strange, claustrophobic almost, to be as far inland as Krakow. It had been years since he was away from the ocean. He knew he'd miss it. Idly he flipped through a few pages of the local almanac. If anything they were a silver lining, the libraries of Memlgrád. Without the frivolous war and destruction the knowledge of Europe slowly trickled east to Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Memelgrád. Doyvát had missed the days spent reading books.

"A guest," said Sarah's voice from behind her silver mask. Since she said it in English it had to be Sophie with her. The Prince turned to see the two of them standing there then Sarah dismissed herself with a bow. The Princess walked over to the Prince and curtseyed for him. Doyvát put a linen bookmark between the pages and closed the book softly.

"I know you are not happy with being relieved of command of the Black Sea Fleet," she said shyly.

Doyvát gave her a small reassuring smile before putting his hand on hers, "It is not a fault of your own. I have been prepared for this day for a long, long time now. How have you liked Prussia thus far?" he asked trying to change the subject.

"I have only seen the buildings on the trip from the harbor to the castle and then a few rooms in the castle itself." Sophie saw the terror suddenly well up in her betrothed's eyes: the sudden realization that his days of adventures and journeys were over. Cabin fever was quick to set into his soul and his heart rate jumped a few notches. "Listen, I want this about as much as you do... but... but we need to be allies in this. No one else is on our side."

"That much is true," Doyvát said dismissively. But with a second's thought he changed his mind, "No you are right. But this is not something that will happen quickly."

"Your father begs to differ. Seems we are to be wed before the end of the month," Sophie said. With that she headed toward the door, expecting to at least get something out of the Prince, but looking back she saw he had already returned to his book.

***

November 29th, 1385

Doyvát watched as a troupe of Lith performers danced and did tricks off to the side of the room. They were well dressed and seemed to be more talented than the average group. He was surprised his father let them in at all, though it seemed it was on the insistence of his new wife. Another man watched the troop with a great deal of interest, or at least one member in particular. It was a young woman with auburn hair and a green dress. She was rather striking. The Prince smiled and walked over to the man, who gave a small but courtly bow, "Congratulations, my lord," he said.

"That woman, the Lith... you've been watching her all night. Have you thought of talking to her?" Doyvát asked, though it might have partially been the mead.

"I did, that's why we've been married for three years," the man said rather coolly.

The Prince chuckled, "I guess it does give one license to watch so intently."

"Sometimes," the man started, "Sometimes I wake up next to her and it all seems so unreal." His face took on a transcendent quality. Doyvát knew he was thinking about more than mornings.

"How did you meet; if you don't mind me asking?"

"Chance, mostly. I remember being a young man and her troupe played in my home town. But you shouldn't worry too much of the tiny lives of Lith performers: you have so much to look forward to! And your wife is certainly the most beautiful bride I've seen in a long time," the guest said with a flick of his head.

The Prince nodded idly. He followed the man's gesture and saw his wife sitting at a table with his mother and grandmother. She was beautiful; he had never really tried to see her in any positive light before: slender and brown-haired. She saw him looking at her and blushed. "I never really thought of it before, but as arranged politically driven marriages go I could have done a lot worse, thanks." Doyvát said.

The man's tried to keep from looking unhappy, "I'm glad I could help... I guess." The Prince patted him on the back and walked off with more of a bounce in his step.

"What was that?" The auburn-haired woman asked when her set was done.

"I think I just saved Prussia," the man answered, still slightly confused.

"All in a day's work," she said. She bent in and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"I guess so. I spend so much time saving the troupe it was only a matter of time before the monarchy called on me for my talents." His voice had a little laugh in it. He put his arm around his wife and watched the Prince go and sit beside his bride. He seemed happier, or at least the couple hoped that was what was different. A lot rested on their shoulders.