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Aug 25, 2015
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"All Hell Breaks Loose- 2666 AD"

Governor Stephan Earle brought his horse to a standstill. Behind him, the blue banner of Kentucky unfurled. It was much changed from former days, but then again many of the old symbols had been put away. A circle of 13 white stars surrounding three fleur de lis was now its charge. This reflected the centuries old move of the government from Frankfort to Louisville, when the Earle family first won the Governorship. Also rippling in the wind was Stephan’s personal standard: the Blue Lion on a field of yellow and white. It’s origins were political, a fierce reimagining of the “Spirit of the Bluegrass.” It was an unspoken promise to defend Kentucky, an emblem that drew many to the service of the Earle family after the Fall, even as the state suffered several invasions.

Stephan’s retinue halted around him. He could hear the distant clamor of battle, and he could see the shimmering flames dancing in the reflections of the Ohio River. Cincinnati was burning. From his place in Covington, Stephan could only watch as the last Christian outpost between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes crumbled. He cursed the wastrel tendencies of the Duke of Cincy.

If the man had been more prudent--and less free--with his money, then perhaps he wouldn’t have attracted the Rustmen! Stephan thought. He could see across to the opposite shore where armed men were going from building to building, dragging out household treasures. Fire licked around the feet of the ancient towers, and Rustmen danced on top of the old Stadium. Panicked civilians ran everywhere, most trying to make it across the bridges into Covington. The Rustmen were chasing them, cutting them down where they could. The sight was barbaric. A small band of mounted men broke ahead of the rest of the fleeing masses. It was the Duke.

Stephan’s temper flared. If the Duke of Cincy won’t even defend his own fiefs, then I will!

He wheeled his horse to face his men.

“Inform the magistrates of Covington that they are under my protection. Their Duke has abandoned them.” He barked at a page, who ran off.

“Draft a letter to Emperor Littlepage. He needs to know of the situation. Ride to Louisville, and take an armed escort through Tennessee. You must reach the Emperor in Charleston! Pray the fool remembers us and shows enough concern to summon his armies. Be suitably alarmist. Remind the Southron Monarch that we are the bulwark in which he trusts. Go!” Another page took a horse and bolted southwest.

“Tell the men to hold the bridges. It falls to Kentucky to defend this shore, as it always has. If you meet the Duke of Cincy, tell him he no longer has a title. His city is lost, and I claim this side of the river, since I am the one defending it.” More pages rode away.

Governor Stephan drew his saber. The sound was echoed by the rest of his mounted retinue.

“Drive them off!” The Governor declared. He spun around, spurring his charger up to the river-spanning bridges. He was followed by the thunder of hoofbeats. Little did he know that the blood drawn that day would pale in comparison to the wars to come. That this battle was only the first of many. Neither did he know that he would not live to see the end of it.

Hello! Welcome to the world of After The End. For those who don't know, this mod is set in a post-apocalyptic North America. (Hence the 2666 start date). I'll be playing as the Dukes of the Bluegrass, in what is modern day Kentucky. You might ask, 'Why there?' Well, because it's an interesting position. Let me explain: We're a relatively weak house, surrounded by pagans. On top of that, we follow the Charismatic Church, an Evangelical Heresy. That means even Christian houses have open season on us. Which is a bad thing- because we rely on the help of the Emperor of the Holy Columbian Confederacy to save our skins. He happens to be Evangelical. But it gets worse: we're not starting in 2666. In my desire to entertain you all, I foolishly played 13 years into the game, and guess what? Our position is even more precarious in 2679.
ellen 2279.png

The feuding Revelationist pagans of Tennessee have been united under one man, Ellis Crockoone. He's pushed up into Kentucky from the south, subjugating the local Revelationists and extending his dominion to the shores of the Ohio River. The Rustmen of Miami Valley have taken the North bank of the River, and could invade at any time. The Revelationist Warlord Vick of Chillicothe has invaded Eastern Kentucky under a black cat war banner, proclaiming himself Grand Duke of Cumberland. The Rust Cultist Oligarch Jane Harris of Transallegheny has spilled out of her natural borders, earning the nickname, 'The Dragon.' Even the Catholics, of all peoples, have crossed the Ohio and taken over our county of Owensboro. They probably seek to control the entire confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Also, remember how I mentioned it would be difficult because we were heretics? Well, in 2679, WE'RE ONLY ONE OF TWO CHARISMATIC FACTIONS LEFT!!!. The other is the Blue Ridge Duchy, nestled safely behind the impassable Appalachian Mountains.
ellen religion 2679.png

That light blue smudge in the middle of the map is us. You can see the Pope over in St. Louis. The Evangelicals control the South, (of course), and the North is ruled by the Rust Cultists, a sad bunch who worship the shut down factories and industrial machines of their ancestors. The Americanists of D.C. haven't seemed to realize that the USA died in the apocalypse, or that the rest of the continent doesn't see them as the legitimate heads of the Union. So the Americanists go on snobbishly lording themselves over everyone while the rest of America ignores them. They still exert an undue influence over Maryland and Northern Virginia, however. Some things never change. Anywho, the descendants of the Amish control Pennsylvania, and you can just see in the top right of the picture where the Consumerists, worshipers of the almighty dollar, have taken the state of New York. Capital: Manhattan.

So that's the start. Eagle eyed viewers may have seen the last spanner in the works in the previous picture. We're not playing as the old Governor Stephan Earle. He was a competent commander, and a shrewd intriguer and diplomat. Rest his soul. No, we get his daughter.
Ellen blank 2679.png

...His 7-year-old, blank slate of a daughter. She and her sister Linda are the sole members of the Earle dynasty. So RIP me. At least it'll make for a great story, right? Because of the likelihood this will be a short game, and because of the fact I got such a young character, I'll take it slow. This AAR will be the story of Ellen's life. It will follow her triumphs and failures, her joy and despair, at a pace of about half a year per post. Sound good? The goal will be to hold all that should be in Kentucky's borders. Her challenge: bad neighbors, inquisitions, few troops, relative poverty, etc. Wish me luck.

Hop on the wagon, it's gonna be a ride!

Note: I do not have all DLCs since I am not a Duchess but only a poor student pretending to be a Duchess. I posses: Charlemagne, Legacy of Rome, Sons of Abraham, The Republic, & Way of Life. (and umpteenth portraits besides). If you really wanted something I'm missing, sorry. But It's the story that matters- not the content! I promise it'll be fun if you stay.

Adieu, until I post again.
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Always good to see an After the End AAR.
Don't count yourself out so quickly, my friend. A turn of luck could change everything. Then again, maybe little Ellen here will get rabies and die by age eight...I look forward to seeing you roll the dice on this one!
Desperate Beginnings
"Desperate Beginnings: Oct.-Dec. 2679 AD"​

Laborn pulled his cap down on his head and tied the strap beneath his chin. He held down his plate as a powerful gust of wind swept through the street. It carried with it the warm, salty air of Charleston Bay. Laborn inhaled. Charleston was a magnificent capital. The Holy Columbian flag fluttered from multiple rooftops, proudly marking the city where the Emperor made his home. A column of smartly dressed guards patrolled the cobbled road, while the brightly painted shops and restaurants paid host to all manner of gentlemanly clientele. Laborn sat in a courtyard enjoying the shade of palmetto trees and the scenery of the bay. He resolved to find the child who’d recommended this cafe and thank her. It was truly exquisite. He slipped a piece of salmon into his mouth and sighed appreciatively as it dissolved on his tongue. Yes, he loved Charleston, it was just a pity he had to deal with its Emperor.

Emperor Algernon Littlepage III had not been pleased when the Kentuckian chancellor rode into Charleston with news of rampaging Rustmen and Revelationists. The Emperor seemed to believe it was Kentucky’s own fault, and that they deserved it for refusing his overlordship and clinging to their provincial heresy. Charismatics were nearly as bad as pagans, and the Kentuckians were just as uncivilized as revelationists. Chancellor Laborn, for his part, was disappointed to find that the famed Southron Emperor was better at wenching and accruing debts than leading troops. To make matters worse, he had promised the Evangelical council that he would stamp out heretics wherever he found them.

Nevertheless, the two men got along together. That was politics. The Emperor represented a powerful source of help to Laborn, and Laborn represented an opportunity to the Emperor. Here was a chance to solidify ties between Kentucky and the South, for the Emperor to expand his influence to the banks of the Ohio River.

Emperor Algernon had originally wanted to betroth one of his sons to Governor Ellen, hoping to inherit the Bluegrass. Laborn had argued the impossibility of that, and they had compromised on betrothing Ellen’s younger sister Linda to Prince Leonidas. This was enough to ensure peaceful relations with the Holy Columbian Confederacy, though not enough to convince the Emperor of the urgency of deploying his military northward. Laborn hoped yet to convince the man that it would not be in keeping with his title of Christian Defender to let the Rustmen run slipshod over the southern shore of the Ohio.

In a different courtyard, right on the shore of the Ohio, Evanora Wapello was reading a letter. Her daughter, Ellen, played inside. The letter was from Laborn. The Emperor had consented to let his 3rd son marry Linda one day. Evanora hoped that would be enough. Suddenly, a cry from indoors almost caused Evanora to drop the letter. Ellen came storming out, dragging a dark haired Melungeon girl behind her.

“She took my dolly!” Ellen accused.

Before Evanora could say anything, the Melungeon produced the doll.

“Give it back!” Ellen demanded. Without a word the other girl did and ran inside.

Evanora smiled. Ellen would need that spirit. Both her daughters would.


linda-leonidas betrothal.png

Hello! Here we have the betrothal of Linda Earle to Leonidas Littlepage. Unfortunately, this turned out to not be enough for an alliance.

Laborn in Charleston.png

Fortunately, Chancellor Laborn is on the case. As literally our only hope, I sure wish he manages to get the Holy Columbian Confederacy to ally us. Go Laborn! (I really like his cap thing, by the way). Anyhow, while he was down in Charleston, Ellen got her favorite doll stolen by one Sheba Morristown.
Sheba-doll thief.png

I was hoping that Ellen would gain the ambitious trait from this event, but that didn't happen. She did get her doll back though. Interestingly, Sheba's family is split up. Her dad is in the Blue Ridge Mountains, her sister is in Hinesville, Georgia, and her mother and she are in my capital, Louisville. Since Sheba is the only other child in my court besides Ellen's sister, I hope she and Ellen become friends. I don't know if that will happen, though.

I also wanted to put a few of the religion descriptions here for those who might be unfamiliar:

Charismatic: 'Charismatics are not known as such because of their charm, but rather their belief in 'Charismata,' gifts of the Holy Spirit manifested in miracles and signs that can be endowed by baptism and faith in the Holy Spirit. Such wonders include the ability to speak in tongues, miraculous healing of the cripples, gifts of prophecy, and more events often considered 'supernatural'.'

Evangelical: 'The Evangelical Church is what remains of antediluvian Protestantism. In the face of post-deluge upheavals, the Protestant churches banded together, putting aside minor theological differences in favor of establishing and Evangelical Convention of Churches presided over by an ecumenical council of bishops.'

Revelationist: 'A syncretic belief system, Revelationism's origins are Christian in nature. The trauma of the apocalypse and centuries of isolation and turmoil have lead to great distortions in the faith, emphasizing the supernatural and miraculous while often forgetting the Holy Trinity altogether.'

Rust Cultist: 'When the first Rust Cult stumbled upon an abandoned factory of the old world, what they saw seemed to be the handiwork of the gods. The cult quickly spread through the former Rust Belt, worshiping these houses of the divine and the technological marvels wrought within, which they are willing to defend with their lives. Rust Cultists dedicate much of their time to recovering and revering any old world technology they can find. Due to their age, however, opportunities to find operational relics are few and far between.'

I think I'm playing it this way: Since we're Charismatic but the majority of Kentucky is Revelationist, I'm thinking that the Revelationists follow a multitude of local spirits, each with their own supernatural power. The Charismatics have a lot more in common with them than with the organized religion of the Evangelicals, except the Charismatics retain the belief in the Supremacy of God and the Trinity, seeing the other Revelationist spirits as idols. The Evangelicals look at both as barbarians, but the Charismatics keep claiming that they're Christian.

I think that works. If any of you all want to input worldbuilding ideas, I'll consider them. Farewell!
Let us hope the Chancellor is able to work some diplomatic magic.
I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this one :) The Appalachian Charismatics are indeed among the tougher starts in the game -- I've tried a few starts in that area myself in previous versions of the mod, and it's a real doozy trying to stay both independent and Charismatic.

I think you're intuitions on the links between the Charismatics and the Revelationists are right. From what I remember of the discussion when they were implemented, there's meant to be a fair degree of crossover back and forth.

Out of curiosity, what version of the game and of the mod are you playing with?
I'm playing game version and mod version 0.9.

And actually, at the start of the game there are two Charismatic factions in Kentucky: The Duchy of Bluegrass and the Duchy of Cumberland. The Duchy of Cumberland is the Appalachian one, I picked the Bluegrass for two reasons:

1) Bluegrass has slightly more troops
2) I like the color/name better

Ellen, since she governs from Louisville, is of the 'Riverlander- (South Anglo)' culture. I'll show the map next time I post. I have a fun Idea that languages have deviated over time from our modern day, and that Riverlander South Anglo is not quite the same as proper Charlestonian Southron South Anglo. I like to imagine that Laborn shows up in Charleston and that everyone is secretly making fun of his accent, which they think is uncivilized, because Riverlander is also the culture of many of the Revelationists.
Jan-Jun 2680

Ellen seethed. Sheba Morristown had stolen her doll again. It wasn’t that Ellen hadn’t made her boundaries clear, in fact she had loudly and clearly asserted her ownership of the doll. What bothered Ellen the most was that Sheba didn’t seem to want the doll because it was Ellen’s, but rather simply because it was a doll. So she took it, frequently too, and felt no qualms about her actions. Ellen could scream and cry all she wished, but Sheba wouldn’t change her ways. In the meantime, Ellen was stuck in a room with nothing to play with.

She’d been dropped at the city hall in Fisherville. Her mother had begun to insist that she learn the ways of governance from Mayor Fulton. But the mayor was a busy man, and she hadn’t yet begun her studies in earnest. So, Ellen Earle was stuck in a spare room while Mayor Fulton saw to some paperwork. With nothing else to do, Ellen plotted ways to get her doll returned… permanently.

She began to pace the room, allowing her mind to fantasize ever more ambitious plans of thwarting the Morristown girl. At first, she would approach her and swipe the doll out of her hands. Then she would ride in on a horse, grab the doll and go home. Eventually, her fantasies included a horde of Rustmen appearing on the scene and attacking Sheba whilst she and her dolly bravely made an escape.

She barely noticed that she’d started leaping about in mock battle, swinging her arms and vanquishing countless pretend foes. She ended up in the hall, where she turned about after a particularly violent strike and found herself facing an open doorway. Mayor Fulton looked back at her from his desk. A bemused smile touched the corner of his lips. He had his quill raised to a sheet of paper, and he quickly looked back down and finished scribbling.

Ellen stood in the hall, flustered. She must have looked extremely childish. Although she enjoyed such games, she enjoyed people’s respect much more. Fulton put his quill down and stood up.

“I see something’s gotten you worked up, Governor,” he said. He picked up his paper and folded it into a square, before tucking it in his shirt. He exited his room and squatted down before Ellen.

“What are you thinking about?” He asked.

Ellen obligingly gave her answer. “Sheba Morristown took my doll, -and I’m gonna get it back!”

Fulton stroked his beard. “Well, that’s certainly an action plan. I have to run this account sheet up to the Earle estate anyway, and I wouldn’t mind taking you.”

It was better than Ellen could have dreamt. She would get the horse from her fantasies. Now all she needed was the Rustmen. Fulton stood up and went outside. A stable hand prepared a horse. Ellen followed, allowing herself to be lifted onto the horse’s back behind Fulton. She gripped his waist as the mayor drove the animal onto the road.

Fulton basked in the spring air. This was the part of the year he loved most, when the meadows were in bloom and the air was warm but light. The fields around were mostly wild, but they would soon reach the horse paddocks of the Earle estates.

“So, I want you to take your time with your doll plan,” He said. “Consider why Sheba might want it. Try and work out something. I’m supposed to be teaching you how to be a good Governor. Kindness never hurt.”

Ellen didn’t quite see his point. Fulton stayed quiet after that, lost in the flowers and the breeze. The approached the Earle stables, and Ellen saw Sheba up on a hilltop, sure enough playing with her doll. Fulton brought the horse to a stop at the stable, and lifted Ellen down. She ran off to confront Sheba. The Melungeon girl saw her coming, and now familiar with the drill of things set the doll on the ground.

Ellen stopped in front of it. She bent down and picked it up. She took a moment to look at Sheba. The Melungeon looked back, blankly. She was the only other noble girl in Louisville. And the doll was… a toy. Suddenly moved by her own loneliness, Ellen took a step forward.

“Do you want to play?” she asked. Sheba’s eyes lit up, and she stood.


Ellen grinned. “Look! The Rustmen! Behind you! We’ve got to save dolly!”

Sheba gasped and looked behind her. Then both girls ran laughing down the hill, playing make believe.

Hi! I think Ellen had a great half year. Let me share it with you all.
Screenshot (19).png

I figured it's time to introduce her guardian, Mayor Fulton. This is just who the game automatically selected, but he seems like a decent fellow and I think he's the best Riverlander Charismatic skilled tactician I have. Notice he's also Sheba's guardian. I added her to him after she and Ellen became friends. Speaking of which:
Screenshot (14).png

Remember last half-year when I noted how unfortunate it was that Ellen didn't get the ambitious trait or become friends with Sheba? Well, this half-year both happened. I got the same event and this time it worked. You'll note that Fulton also drilled kindness into Ellen's head. Good man, Fulton. Good man. I think at this point I should mention that I'll be trying my best to role play as Ellen, as this AAR is her "biography," and I'll work with whatever traits she gets. For a seven-year-old, I think Kind+Ambitious is a great start. Let's hope it serves her well. I hope we have many more adventures with Sheba.
Screenshot (11).png

One last thing: Here is the cultural makeup of the area we're concerned with. I promised to put it up, so here it is. I hope things go well next time, and I'll try to post semi-frequently this weekend. A half-year a week is definitely too slow, but a lot happened to me. (I got superpowers. That's it.) Or something. I wish anyone reading this a grand day/night, and I hope you'll come again!
A very sweet little scene. Though one which may reflect an echo of the future - saving something from the Rustmen.
Little Ellen is adorable :) Let's hope those lessons stick with her when she becomes ruler in her own right.

For that matter, Mayor Fulton looks to be a fine fellow himself, and a pretty well-rounded jack of all trades. Hopefully he sticks around for a good bit of the story himself.
The Harder Road
"The Harder Road"
July-Dec 2680

Laborn paused to let his horse rest a moment. He was on the road to the Earle Estate, and the the house and stable had just come into view. It was good to be back.

The House of Earle was constructed on top of a hilltop. It was an old plantation house, but a subdivision had been built all around it. After the apocalypse, the population of Louisville was depleted. It suddenly became impractical to live far away from the town center, and a sort of reverse expansion took place, with abandoned neighborhoods being destroyed and farms taking their place. People abandoned homes and farms farther out in favor of new land closer to Louisville, leaving much of the old agricultural area to become wildland. The first Earle governor had chosen this house as his mansion when he won the office and moved the government from the hamlet of Frankfort to the last proper Kentuckian city, Louisville.

Laborn patted his horse’s neck. “Not much farther now, is it?” He encouraged it. It was July, and the horse was anxious to get out of the sun. Laborn prodded it onwards, and broke into a canter towards the house and stables. A call from a nearby field caught his attention: There stood the Governor Ellen and Sheba Morristown. The wind whipped at their dresses, and the two girls spent a few moments waving at Laborn as he cantered past. He smiled. Evanora’s letters had mentioned that they’d become fast friends.

As he approached the house, he saw Evanora sitting on the porch. Little Linda Earle, Ellen’s sister, was clinging to her skirts. Laborn saluted as he rode by, placing his left fist over his heart and stretching his right arm horizontally towards Evanora, palm up. His heart and his hand belonged to the Earles.

He rode over to the stables. Three armed men were waiting for him. Two were soldiers from the cavalry levy. The other was Twain- Commander of the Bluegrass Armies, Regent for the Young Governor, and Master of Horses. Laborn slowed his horse to a stop and dismounted. A stablehand, Tom, took the horse away.

Twain stepped forward, taking Laborn’s hand in a handshake. “Laborn! And not a day late! We got your last letter on the fourth. It is a pleasure to see you so soon after that.”

Laborn smiled diplomatically. “I might have sent another messenger, but I thought it would be best if I came myself, the situation being what it is.”

Twain grinned jovially. The corner of his eyes wrinkled up, and his mustache curved almost to heaven. “I’m glad you did.”

He turned to the two soldiers. “Get your horses ready. Her Lady Evanora wishes for you to set off soon.” They saluted and left.

Laborn and Twain walked over to the house porch. Evanora was whispering to Linda, and Linda was holding tightly to her mother’s leg.

Evanora wanted Linda to travel to Charleston. She didn’t want her daughter to find herself ignorant of the customs of her future husband’s city. Evanora herself had arrived in Louisville from somewhere up the Missouri River at age 21. She’d spoken only a smattering of the most rudimentary South Anglo, and knew nothing about Kentucky at all. Her marriage to Ellen & Linda’s father had been purely political, a way to exile her from her home so her sister would have no rivals once her father died. The experience shaped Evanora profoundly, and as much as it hurt her now to send her daughter away, she wanted to do the right thing. She trusted Laborn. As a Melungeon Charismatic refugee on the run from the Rust Cultist and Revalationist invasions of Appalachia, he’d also been a foreigner in Louisville. And as a diplomat, he knew how to console her.

Laborn and Twain stood silently as Evanora said her farewells to Linda. Eventually, the stable hand brought Laborn another horse, loaded with saddle bags. Laborn mounted, and the two cavalry levies came with horses of their own. They wore padded jerkins, and round helmets strapped on their heads. Their sabers swung at their sides, and their horses were loaded with saddle bags. Evanora stood, holding Linda’s hand.

Laborn beckoned. “I’ll bring her home to visit as often as I can,” he promised.

Linda and Evanora reached the end of the porch, and slowly descended the stairs to the ground. Laborn could see that Linda’s lip was quivering, but she was making a tremendous effort for a six year old to fight back tears.

He reached down to grab her. “Come here, come here, come here, come here,” he intoned soothingly. “It’ll all be alright.”

He took hold of her from under her shoulders and lifted her up onto the saddle, seating her in front of him. He put his hands on her shoulders, and turned her head towards him so that they could look each other in the eye.

“We’re going to Charleston!” He said. “Bright, sunny Charleston! You’ll see proper Southern Knights there, and princes, and even... the Ocean! I’ll take you down to the beach on the first day. We’ll see if we can collect any shells to send back to your Momma.”

Linda breathed in heavily, and stopped shuddering for a moment. Laborn hugged her close to his chest. He looked over at Evanora. “I’ll see that she begins her studies in earnest, My Lady. I’ll instruct her in everything I know, and she’ll learn all that Charleston has to teach. I’ll make sure she writes to you soon, and I swear I’ll protect her from any harm. I owe it to you, and the memory of your husband.”

Evanora nodded her assent. “Linda?” She asked. The little girl had curled up against Laborn’s body, and refused to answer any call. Evanora came closer, and reached up to stroke Linda’s hair. “Be smart Linda, and be brave. I love you.”

The girl made no answer. Evanora looked stricken, but she stepped back and walked up to the top of the porch. “Go on,” she commanded.

Laborn and the two soldiers spurred their horses, trotting away from the house and to the road. They would travel south to the edge of Bluegrass territory, and then make a beeline southeast across the part of Kentucky controlled by the Tennessean Revelationist warlords. They’d slip through Corbin and Middlesboro, which were controlled by the Chillicothe Invader, Vick Procambarr. They’d take the old mountain roads through the frontier controlled by The Rust Cultist Oligarch Jane ‘The Dragon’ and make their way southwest to the first outposts of the Holy Columbian Confederation in Chattanooga. Then… to Charleston.

That city will crucify Linda, Laborn thought. It was bad enough that Kentuckians were perceived as backwards in the imperial capital, but Linda was also a Charismatic. Officially Laborn and she were under diplomatic protection, but that wouldn’t stop little courtier’s girls from sneering about the superiority of their branch of Christianity, Evangelicalism. And the royal family… well, there wasn’t a good person among them. The Emperor was scheming debtor, his daughter a prideful adulteress. Of his sons, one was a zealot and another a cruel drunkard. But Linda’s future husband… He was a hot-tempered pig! Theirs will not be a happy home, Laborn predicted.

Linda had begun crying in earnest as the horses left the estate and got onto the road. She’d started before her mother had said goodbye, and had curled up against Laborn in order to hide it. Laborn admired her strength. Of course he’d teach her everything. He’d teach her to bide her time, to be patient and plan for the future. He’d keep her working towards a good life, and give her the tools to do it. He’d teach her all the art of statesmanship so that she could run circles around the Emperor and the princes. He’d teach her how to avoid the barbs of the courtiers, and how to parry with a word or a phrase. He’d teach her how to act the perfect wife, and how to maintain her happiness. He’d teach her how to be a negotiator for her family and her people, to give Kentucky a hope. He’d teach her to be humble, and outgoing. All this he promised himself, because it was his duty, and because he loved her as her father had.

The horses were galloping along the road in earnest. Laborn spotted Ellen and Sheba still playing in a field. They were chasing each other with sticks, as children do. He’d often pondered Ellen while he was in Charleston, foreseeing what skills she’d have to learn, and what sacrifices she’d have to make to save her State. But now… with her sister curled against his chest, he wondered who had the harder road to travel.

Whew! I have a tear in my eye. That was a lot to write. And to think I wrote this scene because absolutely nothing happened to Ellen this half-year. Well, that's storytelling for you. Anyhow, I need to move on to something cheerier. Here's a screenshot of the Earle Estate in Louisville:
Screenshot (27).png

Did you know that the only thing improved in our CAPITAL Louisville was the stables? Because I didn't- 'till I checked on a whim. WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO DEFENSES! What gives? I suppose I could build walls or fortifications, but I'm saving up moneys to offer as tribute to the Emperor. The man is expensive. I really need his alliance, though.
Screenshot (24).png

Here's Linda being tutored by Laborn in Charleston. I wanted her to be a diplomat, since Ellen is most likely going to be a soldier. I made Laborn her tutor. As far as I know, in the past wards have traveled with their Councillor Guardians wherever the councilor goes. But the game still says that Linda is in my court while Laborn is in Charleston. That's why I added the part about her visiting home often, just in case she pops up in an event. A thing of note is that Sheba is her rival. Maybe Linda wasn't as forgiving to Sheba when Sheba randomly took her stuff. Or maybe Linda was jealous that Sheba and her big sister were suddenly spending time together. I think a part of why Ellen didn't come say goodbye to Linda was because she was playing with Sheba and Sheba didn't want to. I know Sheba is Ellen's friend, but she has some dangerous character traits. I realized she's making me biased against Melungeons. But Laborn on the other hand... My goodness! I think he's becoming my favorite character. I love him. What better combination of virtues and diplomacy skill can you get? And to top it off, he's a gourmand! You know who I don't like? This guy:
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Prince Leonidas. Linda's betrothed. What a spoiled fruit from the poisoned vine of imperial luxury. Wroth? Craven? Glutton? And only a mediocre commander to boot. But he's gregarious, and free with his money, such a nice guy! You'd never suspect what he was doing at home to his wife. I despair at the death or survival necessities that make his marriage to Linda unavoidable. I hope it turns out well.

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Here you can see Twain, the regent, and the route Laborn & Linda took to Charleston. The route was strategically planned to avoid staying in one pagan's realm too long. The reason they only took two guards was so they could move quickly and stay unnoticed. Twain, as you can see, is a pretty mixed bag when it comes to traits. He's only really good at fighting. He was an old battle-buddy of Stephan, Ellen's dad, and Stephan designated him regent before he died. So we're stuck with him. He means well.

I also just wanted to thank @Mob_Cleaner for the 'Best Character Writer of the Week' award. I don't know anything about it. Is it one of those things that I give away at the end of the week? 'Cause if so I need to do more reading. I haven't had time to recently, really. Also, I just realized: I went to a funeral earlier today, so I'm writing this in a coat and tie. Does this make me professional? Who knows? Have a good day/night, and please come again to my little corner of the post-apocalypse!
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Leaving one's family to live in a strange new land is never easy, especially for one so young -- and it seems like Imperial Charleston is not really a place you want to bring up a young girl in general.

I also just wanted to thank @Mob_Cleaner for the 'Best Character Writer of the Week' award. I don't know anything about it. Is it one of those things that I give away at the end of the week? 'Cause if so I need to do more reading. I haven't had time to recently, really.

It is indeed. That said, if you aren't sure you're up to it when the time comes, there's no shame in saying so and opening the floor to the general readership :)

Also, I just realized: I went to a funeral earlier today, so I'm writing this in a coat and tie. Does this make me professional? Who knows? Have a good day/night, and please come again to my little corner of the post-apocalypse!

OK, this actually made me chuckle a little :D
Yes, the fate of children tossed into the affairs of state is rarely pretty.
The Dragon
"The Dragon"
Jan-June 2681

Let us take moment to visit the city of Charleston. But not Charleston the sunny, not the Charleston of the Lowcountry, not the seat of imperial decadence, nor the capital of the Confederation.

No, the Charleston we are visiting is not that place but another. We visit Charleston of Tug Fork, Transallegheny, Charleston between the shrouded mountains, Charleston the Black. It is a fortified town, walled and barracked. Soldiers drill at all hours, donning heavy armor and wielding large axes, swords, and clubs. This is Charleston of the Palace with the Gild Top, the seat of Oligarch Jane Harris. But to the persecuted Christians of Appalachia she has another name: “The Dragon.”

It is by this name that she is known to the world, this name that worries the Governors of the Bluegrass and the Revelationist Bushmen of Tennessee. It is this name that causes even the Confederate Emperor to pause, and the South to tremble. Like a dragon she has broken furiously against the Appalachian Charismatics, putting all she found to the sword. Whole villages ran when they saw the banner of Transallegheny. Its emblem was a mountain striped in green and blue, to represent the water and the earth. From its top it bore a golden flower, the Oligarch, which unfurled its petals to a red sky. The Dragon was always threatening to leave its mountain home, and wreak havoc in the field.

It was cold. Jane Harris could hear the rain pelting the roof. It covered the ground outside, running into cracks in the pavement. She was standing in the entrance of a wide building to the northeast of Charleston. The doorway was huge, almost the length of the entire construct. The building was a relic from before the End. Another people might have left it to rot, but the Rust Cultists preserved it as a temple. It was a sign that the gods had once walked the earth, making wonders. The temple was dark, and the storm outside blocked most of the natural light. Jane had one of her guards hand her a torch.

“Leave me.” She commanded. The guards immediately receded from the entrance. Jane, holding the torch before her, proceeded into the temple. The iron circlet she wore on her head felt heavy, and the dark dress she was clothed in did too. But the occasion was solemn, and she’d felt that the circlet and the dress were appropriate. She was seeking the approval of the gods. A flash of lightning illuminated the entire building, exposing the sheen of old aluminum. Jane walked towards them as thunder rolled behind her. The torchlight put the darkness to flight, exposing the frame of a mammoth machine. Before the End, this temple had been a stable. These were the chariots of the gods.

Jane walked closer, her eye catching on the series of blades no doubt used to cut down enemies. She’d often imagined it. Her mother, the Chief Oligarch before her, had taken her here for the first time when she was a child. Now she was sixty. Her mother had told her the stories, of how the gods flew across the world in these chariots of thunder, how they moved faster than any animal. She knew the gods had imbued them with an ichor of life that let them move on their own.The priests had maintained them well. Seeing their glory now, she was reminded of the truth of all of it. Of course, the chariots had been sleeping for centuries. No effort to revive them had worked. Jane placed a hand on one’s belly. She could feel no warmth, no heartbeat. Just a husk to remind her of the gods’ glory.

Sleep on, chariots, she thought. Your spirit goes with me.

She withdrew her hand and paused a moment to listen to the storm. The spirit of these chariots was there, in the thunder. She whispered a prayer.

“O gods of war, who flew across the sky in ancient days, remember your pitiable descendants. Fly with us as we go to battle, and count us worthy of reclaiming your glory. We go to conquer in your name, to find and worship the remnants of your works. Bless us.”

Another flash of lightning sent a thrill up Jane’s spine. The entire hangar was illuminated, and all the shadows of ancient planes flashed against the wall. Jane touched the side of one again. She thought that maybe, just maybe, she felt the spark of life. She smiled. The gods had blessed her. She would go to war.

So it was that the first messengers reached Nashville, Tennessee. They came from from the border in bands of twelve to eighty-eight. The went before the regent, Beauregard Mudshore, while the young warlord Louis watched nearby. They all flung themselves to the ground and swore before the snake spirit, guardian against deception, that their words were true. Their message was ominous:


So it begins. Halp. The Rustmen are coming! Not against us, fortunately, but against Tennessee. The downside is: their causus belli is subjugation. That means they'll get all of Tennessee's land. Which means our trouble will be worse than before. The war started in the end of June, and nothing happened to Ellen, which means I don't have much to show you. But here:
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Green= Jane. Red= Tennessee. Jane, you will notice, is an interesting character. She's known as 'the dragon' but she's also kind and shy. She's also gluttonous and temperate, which should be impossible. Must be a bug. 'The Dragon' part of her persona must come from the fact that she is a zealous rust cultist. Her focus is family. Her ward, by the way, is her granddaughter, and her friend. She's such a kind grandma! I like to think that one day she's baking cookies for her grandchildren and the next she's out subjugating the Appalachian Charismatics, burning down their villages and putting their elders to the sword. The gods must be praised after all. And she has old lady hair. Great. I like to think she wears a dragon mask to war. Terrifying. You know what else is terrifying? Her son and heir. Take a look:
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A Rust Cultist priest and an impaler?! 'The Dragon' is old. When she dies, this guy is going to take over?! I don't want to fight the Rust Cultists then. Ellen might be impaled! Also, more bad news: The Holy Columbian Confederacy is distracted. The Emperor is trying to revoke Tuskegee from its duke. Guess who joins the duke? Only the Emperor's son, prince Beauregard. So they're fighting each other.
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(Duke Huey Latimer of Tuskegee in the west & Prince Beauregard Littlepage, Duke of Piedmont Crescent, in the North). Beauregard married Huey's daughter. The Imperial family is so bad. I'm interested to see how both wars turn out.That's all folks! Come again shortly!
With friends like those ... well, you have enemies aplenty