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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

SirkTheMonkey

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A tree as a holy symbol makes me think he's a Pagan of some sort, but why would he want a Harrower to stand on a box and presumably speak? I guess it's far too early for civilised interfaith dialogue so maybe he's going to be pilloried (in the metaphorical sense)?

This is my first time posting here so let me again express the great joy I've had reading the Tales of the Anglo-Prussians, even if I have forgotten some of the finer points over time. Homelands and Bastions are some of the reasons I ended up making a forum account here.
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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I like the perspective of the lower classes, and the addition of the Harrowers... This Kenric seems interesting, who is the man with the tree? What is the tree?
Thanks, we'll be focusing on the "working" class for a bit, I am tired of writing about the nobles.

A tree as a holy symbol makes me think he's a Pagan of some sort, but why would he want a Harrower to stand on a box and presumably speak? I guess it's far too early for civilised interfaith dialogue so maybe he's going to be pilloried (in the metaphorical sense)?

This is my first time posting here so let me again express the great joy I've had reading the Tales of the Anglo-Prussians, even if I have forgotten some of the finer points over time. Homelands and Bastions are some of the reasons I ended up making a forum account here.
Glad to have you [visibly] on-board. It is great that you've been enjoying it.
 

Rensslaer

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Mr. Capiatlist...

I don't know if I've ever posted here. I don't think so. But I just wanted to let you know I've read through some of this, and I like it! I voted for it in the AARLand Choice AwAARds. Great job and keep it up!

Rensslaer
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Mr. Capiatlist...

I don't know if I've ever posted here. I don't think so. But I just wanted to let you know I've read through some of this, and I like it! I voted for it in the AARLand Choice AwAARds. Great job and keep it up!

Rensslaer
Thank you very much, means a lot that some of the big authors around here enjoy it. Thanks for the vote as well. I do recall seeing it. ;)
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Bastions
Chapter Fifty One: Toil and Woe
Part 1


Prelude:
Wars between the Christians and the Frandists were becoming increasingly common and growing in scope. Border clashes were a monthly happening and soon real wars were breaking out. One of the first was the Northern Crusade, organized by the King of Denmark; it pitted Denmark, Brandenmark and the Christian Norse against the Frandist-ruled Sweden. The war started in 1389 and by 1392 Brandenmark had fallen into chaos and the Christian Norse lost most of their remaining territories, forcing them to the very fringes of Europe. Denmark fought on, however, defiant to the end. The campaign in Scania was faring poorly, especially now since the Norse front in the far north had collapsed. Denmark's hope that the German states would back them up melted away as Brandenmark fought off a peasant revolt back home. Denmark's hope was that it would be able to win the war at sea, preventing Sweden from making any real gains and then wearing them out through diligence and piracy. In the back of many minds, it was expected that Prussia would get involved as well but, like Brandenmark, issues at the home front kept Prussia occupied. King Doyvát II personally dealt with rebels in the south in the largest revolt Prussia faced since the end of the civil wars.

July 18th, 1389

In the cool evening in the Polish hinterlands, Kenric sat down on a log not too far from a fire. His employer was keeping him fed but he was still uncertain of his purpose. He wasn't asking questions and he wasn't getting to know anyone, he didn't know how long he'd be sticking around. Over a second fire a couple women tended to dinner. They were older and chatted gleefully between one another in a language that sounded like Prussian but was still incomprehensible. At first Kenric thought it was Polish or Hungarian but it wasn't quite the same; he could still get bits and pieces of it even if he couldn't understand the whole. Many of the women and girls who traveled with them wore colorful outfits adorned with shiny discs and long necklaces while men wore plainer clothes that were more useful during manual labor, like lugging things around and driving the horses.

"How are you feeling?" the man asked, bringing Kenric a bowl of stew.

"Fine, I was never ill."

"Not what I am talking about," he said in a soft voice and with a smile on his face.

"O..." Kenric replied. He had tried not to think about it. Killing his brother; he hadn't meant to but such were the twists and turns in life. "I don't really know what to do... to be damned so early..."

"Damned?" his employer asked.

"Murder is a sin; the lake of fire is my lot," Kenric replied.

"And a life time of honor and service can never make up for it?"

"I am not certain if anything can..."

"Even when it was for self preservation?"

"Murder is murder," Kenric said, but he didn't believe his own words. How could a young boy be expected to understand such matters like pits of fire and immortality in the grace of God? "I am not certain what to think... what does Christ tell you to do in times like this?"

The man took a deep breath through his nose and let it out, "I was always told that Christ would forgive a man for his crimes so long as he truly sought repentance in his heart and soul. I've heard the Prophet Ferran said the same."

"Do you prey to Christ often?"

"No, I am not a Christian."

Kenric lifted a confused eyebrow, "What do you mean?"

"We are Liths," the man said. When Kenric did not seem to react he continued, "Pagan travelers? We worship the ancient Gods of these lands?" Still Kenric didn't seem to be catching on. The young man sighed and put a hand to his temples as he tried to think of a simple way of saying it but gave up after a few moments of thought.

"Well, what does the Lith god say?"

The man was silent as he thought, "It is hard to say. The Lith gods have been silent since the arrival of the Prussians; while we travel we will take you to some of the stones of the gods. They are quiet places for contemplation and the enjoyment of nature."

"Why would your gods abandon you?"

"They haven't abandoned us, so long as Prussia is lush and green we know they are there... somewhere... everywhere."

"Your gods would sow the crop for non-believers?"

"No, our gods do not sow anything. People sow crops just as people reap them. The gods only remind us to consider the small things and forgive the big. They bring the rain and sun and snow and winds as is their duty. And so we must remember to go on with our own lives as well." The man got up and took Kenric's empty bowl with him. Across the fire the young Harrower watched him trade a tender kiss with a fair woman. At her feet sat a pair of young children, a boy and a girl. Kenric couldn't help but smile. The boy was hardly old enough to walk, so absent-mindedly chewed on bread while his sister quietly braided his hair.

Kenric sighed; at least they'd be leaving soon. Krakow would be behind him and he'd get to see more than just the dingy neighborhood he grew up in. He was looking forward to putting everything behind him and starting anew.

The next day, with the sun still far below the horizon, Kenric felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. As he opened his eyes, a face formed above him. "Morning, Harrower!" said a cheerful voice. As the rheum fell from his eyelashes, he sat up and tried to rub the sleep from his eyes. Some of the other older children had gathered around him, laughing that he had apparently slept in. "We are moving out! Do you think you can walk or do you need a lift with the little kids?"

As his eyes finally began to focus on the faces around him, Kenric nodded that he would be walking without asking the important questions like "how long they'd be walking". He saw several people around his age, most were younger but a few were at least his age or no more than a few years older. He saw that they looked, in many ways, a lot like the family he had left behind. The one who had spoken to him was a black-haired girl who wore flowers in her hair. Everyone stood up as he tried to get up from where he had fallen asleep beside the fire. "Breakfast?" he asked groggily.

"You missed it," laughed one boy. He produced a muffin, "Stole this one for you."

"Thanks, I owe you."

"No, you don't owe me anything. It would have been yours one way or another," the boy responded. He was slightly taller than Kenric, in many ways he looked like Serge: tall and built, ruggedly handsome. Like many of the older men, this boy's arms and chest were covered in ink stains. "But you need to hurry, we'll move out soon and hopefully we can put your big mouth to good use."

"Wha?" Kenric asked.

"He meant it as a compliment!" the flowers girl said as she skipped off. Everyone dispersed as Kenric dusted himself off and stretched the sleep off of his bones.

"So I assume you got your breakfast?" a voice asked from behind. Kenric turned to see the woman that his employer had kissed last night. Through the fire she had look beautiful, but up close in the day light she was stunning. "I hope you are ready for a lot of walking."

"Well, I would often walk from end to end in Krakow," Kenric started.

The woman covered her mouth to hide a rude giggle, "Kenric we are headed to Danzig on the shores of the Baltic... it is much farther than just from one end of the city to the other. Most non-Liths don't understand either; we'll end up walking the breadth of Prussia several times over during our lives."

"So when will we get there?" Kenric asked, trying to find something he could actually relate to.

"It will take about a week if we double time, but I think we'll only walk eight hours a day... so closer to two weeks. It will take us about four or five months to get back to Krakow," the woman answered, "Depending on how many days we stay to perform and how well the weather holds out. If winter gets bad we'll bunker down for a while." Her speech slowed to a stop as she noticed that Kenric was doing his best to hide a look of terror from his face.

"Don't worry," his employer said, "The first thousand steps are the hardest... except for the next ten thousand... and the ten thousands after that!" He patted Kenric on his back and walked off with his wife.

"I-it cannot really be that long, can it?" Kenric asked nobody in particular. He looked around at his crowd of zero and then chased after his employer. "Hey, wait!" he called.

The man and his wife stopped and turned around, both of their faces were friendly and welcoming. Kenric almost forgot why he had chased them down in the first place. "What is it, Harrower?" the man asked.

"What do you need me to do anyway? Stand on a box, put my big mouth to good use?"

"We need someone to call crowds to come see our shows. So it is a lot like what you used to do... only fewer pits of fire and more card readers, music and dancing," his employer said.

"And smiling!" his wife added making an arcing shape with her finger over her own face. "Smiling is always good too."
 

SirkTheMonkey

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I didn't see the carnival barker job coming. I wonder what will wear out first? His feet, his throat, or his faith.
 

enf91

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I didn't see the carnival barker job coming. I wonder what will wear out first? His feet, his throat, or his faith.
Option 4: his nerves. Between the depression at prospective damnation and the impending strenuous and tedious trek around Prussia, he may very well crack. Unless he makes that leap across the gap and gets out of whatever that prison was in the last Batman movie. Metaphorically, of course.
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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I didn't see the carnival barker job coming. I wonder what will wear out first? His feet, his throat, or his faith.
Option 4: his nerves. Between the depression at prospective damnation and the impending strenuous and tedious trek around Prussia, he may very well crack. Unless he makes that leap across the gap and gets out of whatever that prison was in the last Batman movie. Metaphorically, of course.
Only time will tell. I haven't gotten that far ahead as of right now.

But for you users of the book of faces, Baltikja now has a facebook page where I will try to keep people posted as well as share thoughts as I write.
 

mayorqw

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Would I be amiss to guess that our "employer" is none other than the priest who ditched his life for the Liths?
That would be quite nice.
I'll be waiting to find our Kenric at Danzig, heralding novelties and with his bootsoles well spent!
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Would I be amiss to guess that our "employer" is none other than the priest who ditched his life for the Liths?
That would be quite nice.
I'll be waiting to find our Kenric at Danzig, heralding novelties and with his bootsoles well spent!
^__^

We'll see how Kenric handles it. I haven't written anything more and only have vague plans. Also, I might have a short, secondary AAR coming up soonish. I am sort of in the mood to write about Vikings. - Started writing, had a lot less to write about then I thought.
 
Last edited:

Mr. Capiatlist

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Bastions
Chapter Fifty One: Toil and Woe
Part 2


Prelude:
Trade was the life blood of many of Europe's states. A small country at strategic cross roads could find itself very wealthy and a large country without trade could find itself floundering in need. But the presence of trade also draws the attention of the enemy. For Prussia its soft underbelly was its Black Sea coast where Rome could easily cut trade and if needed even raid the great port of Morcárgrád. To prevent this Prussia made sure to keep the Black Sea Fleet strong enough to fight the Romans without the help of the main fleet up in the Baltic. In 1392 relations between the Romans and their neighbors were cool at best. She was quick to forget the allies that kept her nobility from being executed and quickly isolated herself from Armenia and once again, Prussia. Historians are quick to point out that isolating herself from Armenia, at the time a barely Muslim country with a mostly Orthodox population, was probably the worst that Constantinople could have done. Had the two countries put their differences aside a re-united Anatolia would not have been a far cry. Instead, Armenia would stay more closely tied to the Persians and would eventually resume raiding the porous eastern border of the Roman Empire. Meanwhile, never to be outdone, when Prussia got wind that she was to be ignored again, she shut down all trade to the Roman Empire and began the long process of finally snuffing out the poor and crumbling Empire.

August 3rd, 1389

Kenric lay on his back looking up at the stars. His feet were completely numb and his voice completely hoarse. The last two days had been a terrible swirl of activity and shouting. He had done his best, but he couldn't help but feel it wasn't good enough. Maybe had his feet not hurt quite so much he could have smiled more, shouted louder and more clearly. But it was all behind them now. Everyone else seemed happy. Not too far away the rest of the group had built a bonfire and crowded around to share in food and coin. They laughed and shouted and patted each other on the back. The men knocked back pints and the women played with each other's hair. "Doing better?" asked a quiet voice.

The Harrower looked over and saw the auburn-haired woman. She carried with her some perfumes and oils which she carefully put down around his feet. She carefully worked his ragged remains of shoes off and carefully dabbed the bleeding blisters with a clean cloth that had been soaked in water. It stung terribly but she was gentle and Kenric saw that she was very sure of what she was doing. He sat there in silence as he watched the beauty work silently and purposefully. Eventually the stinging began to subside and she then rubbed the oil into the skin, working his feet over carefully. Kenric found himself lost watching her and when she looked at him he quickly and shamefully looked away, trying to look like he had been distracted by something else. But his flushed cheeks gave him away and the woman blushed as well while she worked; leaving him to his new-found interest in a twig.

"How long have you been doing this?" Kenric asked, "Wandering around, I mean."

"Since I was a young woman," she answered. "When I was very small I was part of a small clan outside of the city of Vilnius, where many Liths lived. One day my people were scattered in order to make room for the faithful. We took to wandering the country side and performing. It keeps us fed and it seems no one has a problem with us so long as we don't linger long and they don't catch doing anything sketchy."

"So you don't mind wandering around like this?"

"Not at all," she said quietly with a comforting smile.

"But it is so much work! Wouldn't it be easier to build a stage somewhere and you know... let them come to you?"

"No, when you are a Lith you must go to the customers. Would you have walked all the way from Krakow to Danzig to see me dance?"

Instantly Kenric's face turned apple-red. The woman giggled while she collected her things and stood up. She left him there watching her skip back to his employer. After a few moments Kenric shook thoughts from his head and saw that the two had disappeared. "You should join us for dinner, Harrower," a voice called. It was the ink-covered muffin-giver.

Kenric's head snapped to the source of the voice and made several people laugh. "Try not to fall too deeply into the Queen's spell," a black-haired girl cooed. They motioned for him to come over and join them around the fire. The troop had several children about his age, though they operated no differently from any of the adult of the clan. They each had a role and they stuck to them well.

"Why? Are you afraid you won't be able to put him under your own?" another girl said mockingly. The black-haired girl got flustered and in her anger threw a wad of flower stems at her rival.

"Spell?" Kenric asked.

"Aye," the muffin boy said, "The spell of the women-folk from communing with the gods. Astiya is the best at it. No man can resist but there is only one man she would be with and that is the dirty Priest."

"That isn't very respectful, Ramondas!" the black-haired girl said, "Werna is very polite and has done a lot to help us, you should be thankful he is here. Plus Astiya was so sad without him! She would just mope and pine all day, now she is so happy and that makes everyone else happy. Everyone but you."

Ramondas rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. "So can anyone cast these spells?" Kenric asked skeptically.

"Only those who have been trained: the card readers and the soothe-sayers. It is women's work, men don't need spells," Ramondas said.

"So they are real?" Kenric asked, "I was always told that witches and spell-casters were agents of the devil... but I thought they were just boogey-men, just there to scare little children."

"Yup, we're real!" The black-haired girl said, "Here to kidnap small children and then cook and eat them!" The Harrower could not tell if she was being honest.

"Shut up, you aren't a soothe-sayer and you know it," the other girl said. "You couldn't predict the future of a mayfly let alone another person."

"Not everyone sees the future; some of us are just good at getting people to do what we want."

"Good luck with that," the girl responded.

The black-haired girl pouted, "I'll show you!" She turned and faced Kenric directly, with a little pout and a little puff of her breasts she asked the Harrower, "She's wrong right?"

Kenric sputtered a bit and turned red before hiding his face in shame.

"He doesn't count, Godi" Ramondas said flatly. "Stupid and easily fooled. You might as well be holding meat in front of a starving dog."

"Yeah, and Astiya doesn't need giant saggy milk-bags to get whatever she wants, she is different and you know it," the rival girl spat. Blood rushed to Godiwa's face, turning her red, and she tugged up on her dress's top to cover up.

"I don't get it. Are you guys friends or not?" Kenric asked, eyebrow peaked.

"What do you mean?" the rival girl asked.

"You guys are very mean to one another," Kenric pointed out, "Why?"

"Just poking a little fun," Ramondas explained. The Harrower could tell there was a little anger in his voice. It was clear to the new-comer that the tattooed boy was in charge among the children of the clan, whether through force or actual station was not something Kenric had gathered upon. "That is the way clan life is, you get used to it or you get left behind. Especially if you are a little slodð like Godi."

"I'm Muslim, not barbaric," Kenric said, "That is language one does not employ around women."

Ramondas scoffed before standing up and cracking all of his knuckles one fist at a time. "Are we really going to play these games, Harrower?"

Kenric stood up and tossed his shoulders around, "I already killed one person, what is number two going to do?"

"Hahaha," Ramondas laughed, he relaxed his stance and put a hand on Kenric's shoulder. "Ʒes you are a determined little man, but I like your principles."

Kenric stood silent and motionless for a few breaths, "Wai... what?" he asked.

Godiwa grabbed Kenric's arm and hugged it tight against her body, "My chivalrous knight, Kenny!"

"I'm still confused," Kenric said blankly.

'That's okay; that is where I want you," Ramondas said sitting back down and putting his hands behind his head. Godiwa's rival got up and sat on his lap, sticking her tongue out as she passed the other two. "But we need more people with a bit of decency and common sense, recently we've just been picking up trash."

"Trash?"

"Werna and Astiya know what I mean, they'd agree with me. When we pick up a person like you or Werna the clan is stronger, but when we pick up people like those two, we get a little weaker." Kenric followed Ramondas' eyes to a pair of muscle-men who were talking quietly in a foreign tongue.

"What language is that?" Kenric asked.

"Not sure, don't care. I know they are up to no good. I've watched them pick pockets and steal from the clan. But the elders... Astiya's mother and grandmother, they decide who is in and who is out. They like them, so for now we are stuck with them."

"You don't actually think that, do you? You intend to do something."

"Yes. I intend to get you to convince Werna the time to do something about it is now. He'll listen to you because you are new and unbiased. If he threatened to leave with Astiya... then the elders would listen to us. Without Astiya we are nothing. No one comes to have fortunes told or watch men swallow swords. They want to see her, they are drawn to her," Ramondas said, slowly drifting out of his own thoughts.

"Oi, back to me," his girl said, gently slapping his face. Ramondas giggled but the girl did not seem to find it as nearly as amusing as he did.

"Anyway, it smells like dinner is done, Kenric, why don't we get enough for everyone here?" Ramondas asked. He easily picked his girl up and put her down beside him. "Don't worry, Godi will be here when you get back," he said with a friendly wink and a firm hand to help the Harrower up.
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Mr. Capiatlist

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Mr. Capiatlist

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What happened with the part :sad:
Not to be pedantic but generally in American English "this" refers to the coming day and "next" refers to the week after. So "next" weekend from March 7th would be "this" weekend from today.

But generally I have been really busy. I have a wedding to plan, a job to do, and a house that I am currently having built. However you and everyone else can get little mini updates from Bastion's facebook page: here.
 

blsteen

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Not to be pedantic but generally in American English "this" refers to the coming day and "next" refers to the week after. So "next" weekend from March 7th would be "this" weekend from today.

But generally I have been really busy. I have a wedding to plan, a job to do, and a house that I am currently having built. However you and everyone else can get little mini updates from Bastion's facebook page: here.
Busy...hopefully your house building experience is going better than my brother's(its nice to have contractors that actually talk to each other and not physically assault each other)
As always an excellent move in filling in your storyline