• Crusader Kings II Expansion Subscription

    Subscribe to the CK II Expansion and enjoy unlimited access to 13 major expansions and more!


  • Paradox Space Exploration Sale has arrived! Up to 75% off

    How's the space on your hard drive? Paradox wants to challenge your galaxy brain with a great selection of space exploration games - and they're all on sale for some very down-to-earth prices! The sale runs from May 4th until May 10th at 17:00 CEST / 08:00 PDT.


    May 4th - May 10th
  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
Just to let you all know, I've already got 2 authors! So if you want in, you'd better hurry!
 

TheExecuter

General
4 Badges
Sep 18, 2006
1.950
23
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Victoria 2
  • 500k Club
  • Stellaris Sign-up
Many thanks to all those who took the time to review and critique! This was my first time taking the plunge into the Guess-the-Author frame and it was quite fun to put something out and get an objective response. I could have done this story in a serious and dramatic style...but if you've read my other AARs you'll find that I am fairly comfortable with that style and I wanted to try something new and challenging. I've never written comedy before and so this is my first try. Many thanks go to Blue Emu for his wonderfully inspirational AAR 'The Game' which obviously supplies the format.

Actinguy:
Hey, random is supposed to be, well, random! :p

As to it being a real mp log...well, actually it was a real log of my most recent singleplayer game with EU2 AGCEEP. I couldn't believe what happened, then I saw the GTA topic, and well...I couldn't resist! And no, I was not France! :D

Lord J. Roxton
I agree with you on the need for more characterization of the various players. One of the issues I had while trying to write this was that there were so many different nations I had to include. Trying to find enough space to give characterizations to everyone (or even the major players) while keeping the overall pace was something I struggled with mightily. I think if I had another week to polish the piece I might have done better in that respect. Great ideas for back-stories by the way! Thanks.

comagoosie
Thanks for reading. I knew when I chose the style that it would not be everyone's cup of tea. You are right about the need for screenshots...alas, since I am not writing an AAR about that game (it is purely for enjoyment...shocking I know) I didn't get any screenshots of the aforementioned events. I actually spent 2 hours combing through the game log getting the events down and brainstorming ideas for the piece. Cutting down on the number of players is a brilliant idea. I could have had them complaining about the AI minors...ah well. Thanks for telling me not to quit my day job! :eek:o

Fiftypence
Too much Monty Python, check! It's not just you...
Thanks for reading!

IamWhoa
:eek:
Someone actually found it funny! My week is complete! Success! Glad you enjoyed it.

The Yogi
I must confess I am very unhappy with how I ended up formating this piece as well. It just doesn't...look right? It is very difficult to keep track of the players, and...without screenshots...sometimes hard to stay up on what is going on. As for the excessive use of Monty Python...well, I sorta ran out of time to submit and thus didn't give enough voice to my own creative side (like the 'I can't believe you have that memorized' line). Thanks for the encouragement!

dharper
Thanks man! I appreciate the work it takes to try to delve into something so completely random and off-the-wall. As it happens, I'm not much of a mp Paradox player (though I used to play Starcraft religiously in my college days)...so I've probably totally misrepresented that gaming culture. I think better cues may have been provided by screenshots...that would most likely have helped ease the readers confusion.

Thanks to Amric for running this efficiently. I'll post my reviews of the other stories shortly!
TheExecuter
 

TheExecuter

General
4 Badges
Sep 18, 2006
1.950
23
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Victoria 2
  • 500k Club
  • Stellaris Sign-up
Author #1 (Actinguy): Nice use of dialogue to set the scene. Lots of showing who people are rathing than telling me. I got the feeling that these characters would be fleshed out more in a longer work...but the level of detail provided works in the short term. My only critique is that I too was slightly confused as to the actual nature of what was going on. What relationships did these conspiritors have between their count and the king. Were they all catholics? Was the King heretical in some way? What was the motivation of the count (besides merely becoming King)? I know some of this would be answered in a longer story, but...this won't ever be finished...so, I need closure.

Author #2 (Lord J. Roxton): I liked this...took me a bit to figure out that it was only one side of the conversation, but...having read it again I find that it tells an excellent story. You reveal the details slowly at first, then bring on the passion of the argument as both sides escalate to the big weapons. The 'You Tart' line was perfect. I envy your capability to write such a tight and polished piece in only a weeks time. Quite the skill. I have one minor improvement to suggest. As the conversation goes along, the husband and wife get more heated and passionate in their communication. The words convey this, but not the punctuation and spacing. You may have used a few more exclamation points to denote shouting or a '...' or sigh to denote a pause in the action. But, these things are minor...and probably not much of an improvement. Great entry!

Author #3 (dharper): This was mildly interesting, until I figured out that he was a time-traveler. Then...I guess it just was too slow for me. Also slightly non-believable? Somehow I find it difficult to believe that a time-traveler with a fortune in jewels would be able to successfully pass himself off as a non-noble and gain access to such personages as the count without paying more of a price. Again, this is more of a base critique of the story and not of the writing which was excellent from a grammatical point of view. I guess I just wasn't surprised or drawn in at any point by this story. I'm not sure what advice to give either...sorry.

TheExecuter
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
We have our four vic....I mean authors! My plan is to have submissions in by September 1 and post them. I've been a bit off on my timing and am hoping to get back to where it should be. This is going to be a great month. I can just feel it!
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
Well I have a surprise for our readers and critiquers.....We not only have our full compliment of authors, we have a couple more! Two more stepped forward in the off chance that there might be a casualty or two. Everyone stepped forward and I don't want to deny our two 'alternates', soooooo, we'll have SIX entries for this month!

Let's get started, shall we?
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
April 1966

Security was tight around the church with checkpoints positioned on all approaching lanes, the beetle blue uniforms of the armed Gardaí a sharp contrast with the deep green of the hedgerows, and plainclothes detectives lounging nonchalantly within the grounds of the small chapel. In truth there was no real need for the highly visible security presence, fear itself remained a far more effective deterrent than any uniform, and this corner of Cork still remained largely free from the unrest that continued to plague much of the rest of the island. Indeed it was really an accident of geography that the attention of the state should focus on this tiny village, to the obvious nervousness of those precious few locals who silently filtered into the old church. The deceased had spent most of his adult life in Dublin, it was there that his reputation had been established, but every Irishman came home eventually in a tradition that transcended ideology, class, and politics. You might drop the accent, adopt a foreign creed, or fight across the seas but you always remembered where you came from, always supported your county teams, and you always returned home in the end. Seán O'Hegarty had been baptised in this Church some fifty odd years ago and now his remains would be buried in the family lot. It was, to the mind of Éamon de Valera at least, an example of that glorious parochialism that defined the Irish people

It was for de Valera's benefit that this impressive security had been assembled and as his dark Mercedes drew up alongside the parked hearse it was followed by a light Renault filled with detectives. The latter clambered out and stretched tired limbs - it was rare for the Taoiseach to venture this far from Dublin and the drive had taken many hours - before filing up alongside the Mercedes, one reverently opening the car door to allow Éamon de Valera to ease out of the deep leather seat. The figure that emerged was tall and gaunt with a famously stern face; already wearing a dark long coat and hat he more resembled a priest or school teacher, which he had once been, than the leader of the Irish Republic and one of the most senior leaders of the Greater European Reich. Despite being half blind with the advancing years he refused the use of a cane as he strode forward towards the church portal, relying instead on the deft touches of his closest detective to direct him safely. The pause to remove his hat was slightly longer than it should have been but finally de Valera entered the church where a nervous congregation had been waiting silently for some time

The odd cough punctuated what was otherwise a silent procession down the aisle; the cold stone interior being near deserted with just a scattering of souls occupying the front rows of aged pews and all faces grimly fixed on the closed coffin displayed prominently by the alter. Pausing by the side of a grieving mother, de Valera muttered a few words of consolation to the terrified woman before sliding into a reserved seat in the front row. There, flanked by stony faced detectives, his head bowed in solemn prayer. Silence continued to suffocate the church until those mute lips ceased moving and the old eyes returned once more to the material world

"Tell me Michael," even in this silence the soft Limerick tones were almost inaudible as he turned slightly to the detective on his right, "who else has come?"

"No one Chief. Just family and a few local notables... party members and the like. Even his childhood friends have stayed away"

De Valera nodded slowly, "He was never one to make friends easily our Seán, but a good man nonetheless. Yes, a good man..." The pause stretched for a moment or two as the local priest made to approach the alter, "Still, I would have thought that Lemass or McQuaid would be here, or even a few comrades from the old days. Some things are just done"

The detective knew the Chief too well to comment and simply remained silent as the congregation shuffled to their feet to greet the priest and the beginning of the ceremony. It was a simple affair and the sermon was short. What could the man of the cloth possibly say - that Seán O'Hegarty had grown up in the village and then moved away? That no one had spoken to or of him for decades? That his own family were ashamed, or rather terrified, of his actions and the blood spilled? Most clergymen develop a sermon for situations that are, more or less, like these and the Father spoke in brief generalities that dealt mainly with the grieving family and their loss. It was noticeable that every now and again he'd glance up from the pulpit at the dark figure occupying in front row and finally, with some relief, the priest abandoned his sermon and invited their honoured guest to say a few words in remembrance of the deceased

There was no speech prepared but then it had been some time since his eyes were able to make out the small print of typed script and de Valera had decades of experience in such public speaking. That too many of these occasions had been funerals was best put aside for now. Gripping the small pulpit tightly the Taoiseach slowly began to speak, recalling memories of the man lying just feet from the alter. This was not the raging demon that had once called for 'rivers of blood' in Thurles during the Civil War and it was not the implacable diplomat that had eloquently defended the League of Nations even as Europe fell into flames; this was de Valera the old man and the words were tired and delivered with little passion or volume. Yet his famous self-belief, that unyielding iron will that some called fanaticism, was not absent and every word was delivered with complete sincerity. This was more than apparent in the closing sentences that recalled a de Valera forty years younger

"Seán, and all those who served with him, were all good men, fully alive to their responsibilities, and it was only the firmest conviction, the firmest faith and love of their country that prompted their action. Their singlemindedness and unselfishness, their sacrifice, and the sacrifices of others who devoted their lives to the security of the state, inspired the national resurgence that finally saw our people reunited as a family. May the good God have them all in His keeping"

A light rain had begun by the time the coffin exited the church and made its way down the graveyard patch, the mourners following it sombrely while maintaining a noticeable distance between themselves and the tall figure and his detectives. The condolences of the latter were brief and perfunctory with the Dublin party soon retreating to the cars for the long journey back to the capital. Perhaps the atmosphere had unnerved even the professionals, or perhaps it was the relief of escaping from that silence, but as the Mercedes pulled out of the church grounds the driver broke with decorum to enquire as to whether the Taoiseach was 'alright'. Éamon de Valera's pale brow furrowed slightly at the unexpected query but his quiet accent did reply as he continued to stare out the window, "He was a good man and he did what had to be done. We all did..."

"May God have mercy on his soul"
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
Ending of a Golden Age

The congregation of five respectfully gathered around the body. They formed a pitiful circle of what few were there. Barely alive themselves, they weakly stood and held onto their neighbor for support. No one said a word, for many reasons, but they all understood each other; this was a great man who had died, no amount of words could do him justice.

The body wasn’t buried, instead it laid exposed to the elements of the extreme north. There were no shovels in the isolated area, and if there were, the permafrost would have deterred any progress. It was a stark contrast to what the mourners knew. The bustling cities, deadly politics, and stubborn religious ideals were now replaced with total isolation, gradual death, and a newfound tolerance of humankind.

Snow fell from the heavens, blanketing the ground. Those who didn’t move or shake it off fell victim to the ever-mounting burden of the continuously falling snow. Unfortunately, the dead couldn’t do either, so gradually the snow concealed their secrets beneath its soft and white self.

A native boy stood by watching the event. The mourners had contacted him when their leader died to find sacred ground to which they would lay him to rest. Deciding it wasn’t wise to stand out in the freezing cold, the boy soon walked away, his snowshoes allowing him to stay above the snowline. He knew the group wouldn’t survive with their shattered clothing and no shoes, but they had insisted, stating that their god was on their side and would save his children. Before he left, though, he recited in broken Latin a legend his tribe knew. It was how that when burying someone, if the gods willed it they would uncover the face of the dead so that they may enter heaven.

As the boy walked into the snowstorm not a single person watched him do so. They knew they were as good as dead, yet none of them tried to survive, they were past that point. Too long have they put up a sword against the iron fist, and every time they were struck down. Defeated and demoralized, they had all but given up. Dying was better than living at this point.

Of course, not everything was this way. Previously Europe was in its Golden Age. There was a general peace and prosperity that every nation faced and embraced. Churches were built and schools, constructed. Children became educated and families, richer. Nevertheless, it was also a time of ignorant bliss. No one heeded the signs of destruction and the world paid dearly for its mistake, for one man would change the world.

The man who did this, his name cannot be spoken without the tongue becoming tied up and a sour feeling in one’s mouth, as if God himself put a curse on the man. He determined, in all the prosperity, to announce his opinions about the state and church publicly and see if his pleas would be answered. At first, the world took little notice of the friar’s views on the humanity, but then he became enraged that none of his wants were being seen to. In response, he talked up a storm and swept the peasants off their feet and with enough support behind his back, he chose to arm them.

Now all eyes were upon him. As he and his army spread throughout the land, so did their support, support for a new government and a new religion. There was no stopping the onslaught, war, nor could assassination attempts hold him back, and with each endeavor on his life, the rebellion would spread. Even the combination of Europe’s armies could do no good against him, the fervor so wild and the rebellion so strong that soldiers deserted and the result was resistance so small it could be stepped on.

And so ended the Golden Age after a decade and a half of warfare, replaced by a tyranny headed by the same man who started it all. His innovative government, dictatorship. His religion he called Reformed, claiming that he ‘reformed’ Europe for the betterment of itself, as he had now unified all of Europe under one banner. Yet surprisingly his toughest confrontation would be after the war and devastation he had caused.

Underground priests preached against him and the religion, though they met stiff competition from the state sponsored cathedrals. They were ruthlessly prosecuted too, but that seemed only to fuel the passion for conflict, and as time went on, more and more people saw the true terrors and began listening to the priests. That is when Abraham Crijnssen came into prominence. The Dutchman was born just as the ‘reformation’ started. From an early age, he developed a disliking to the rebellion. The lowlands did end up being the last area in Europe to be subjugated and because of that, Abraham’s zeal against the uprising fully matured.

With enough power, the priests formed their own independent Catholic theocracy encompassing the lowlands with Abraham at the lead, which made him Pope. Outside support came flooding in, as they were afraid of facing a nearly unified Europe against them, but at the same time, they knew if they left Europe how it was, its ideals would fester. It even seemed for a period like the little state could flourish, but the eyes of the devil focused its might upon it, sending his impressive armies to do his bidding.

The theocracy and its people were prepared, they knew they took a risk and would have to fight for it. Massive walls were constructed and encircling ditches were dug, stakes planted, and swords sharpened. Odds were stacked against them, they didn’t have numerical superiority and a small nation cannot hope stand up to a strong one. They faced a nation, which could field an army, three times their total population, but the theocracy put up a valiant fight, yet in the end, it was crushed. The walls crumbled against war machines, and ditches were walked over, stakes uplifted, and swords bent.

The verdict for the defeated state was genocide, with mass killings everywhere, in attempt to purify the area. The Pope and all the cardinals were sentenced to die a slow death in the northern wastes with just the clothes on their backs. With the victims blindfolded, they had no clue where to go when they were dropped off, and since there was no source of food or water they began to die off, slowly at first but then in large numbers until there were only a handful left.

Trudging through the barrens, they resolved they were going to live. A few died along the way, but they kept on. Abraham fell deathly sick from malnutrition and frostbite, but he hid it from other, and instead kept other members alive by carrying them on his back. They remained diligent until they reached a small native village. It was obvious of their pagan religion, by their idols and nature, but the Catholics believed else wise.

Abraham exclaimed divinely, “Every prophet, every ancient writer, every revolution of the state, every law, every ceremony of the old covenant points only to Christ, announces only him, represents only him, and we have finally found him.”

With that, he collapsed onto the ground, cold. His members were shocked and despaired, and tried to communicate with the natives saying they needed a burial ground. Even through the language barrier, the natives saw their plight and answered it, sending them a boy to take them to the spot along with spare food. The hospitality would have stunned them, though the death confounded them to the core.

Now here the cardinals stand watching over their leader. His entire body had been covered with snow a long time ago, but still they stood like statues, remembering the hard, stone face of their Pope. There was nothing for them to live for, with their stomach filled, but their hearts empty, they were committed to die with their leader and the cause.

Then a wind came, seemingly out of nowhere, battering the mourners as to make them cover their faces. Snow began to lift off the ground and carried by the wind. This in turn revealed the body. The congregation anxiously waited for any signs.

As if the wind was playing a cruel trick, they saw their leader’s face relax and become completely tranquil. It shocked them to their deaths as they, one by one, dropped down to the ground beside their leader and their cause. And so ended resistance to the darkness that would eventually sweep the world.
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
The coffin is swaying on its poles. It seems the coffin-bearers are struggling with the weight. The organ is playing a requiem – is it Brumel’s? The resonance was always fantastic in the cathedral, and with the stained glass windows, the candles, with the organ playing, it was like heaven compared to the mud and the cold outside. Even today, I can’t help but enjoy the mighty music. A Gregorian choir sings;

“Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine…”

The hypocrites!

The smell of incense reaches my nostrils. No expense has been spared. And why should it? It was Prince Conrad that I shot, and his family uses the Princedom coffers like their own private account, the heretical swine! This travesty means but pocket money to them.

The choir goes on into the Kyrie. My mind wanders from the proceedings, and I remember how things used to be. Life was good before the Prince defected from Holy Mother Church, and brought war to our doorstep. Being of minor nobility, my fortune was never vast, but I could afford a good stone house with an orchard that was my pride and joy – all cut down for fire wood now, and Evangelical League troops billeted there trample the floors on which my children played with their dirty boots. The children! What sweet memories I have of them! I remember the smell of my daughter’s hair as she clung to me, begging for another lullaby. And the boy! How his eyes shone as I told tall tales about how I fought the Turk at the walls of Vienna, or how my father rode to battle with the Great Emperor Charles. They were lovely children, without the slightest flaw – affectionate, well mannered, delicate, beautiful, courageous… The horror of what befell them cannot take the brightness of their short lives away. No, I can’t allow it to. I must try to remember only the good things. Speaking of which, there was my wife, Anna. We got twenty years together, well almost. I should’ve listened to her. We should have moved to Munich, or even Vienna; she was as intelligent as she was lovely. But I am a proud man of an old family, and that house and that land had been ours for centuries. In the end, I lost it anyway, when Prince Conrad finally had enough of my public opposition to his traitorous and heretical rule and sent his soldiers.

The choir has reached the Tract:

“Absolve, Domine, animas omnium fidelium defunctorum ab omno vinculo delictorum…”

“Forgive, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from all the chains of their sins…”

A timely reminder. I must not forget, the love of God is boundless, and even the greatest sins may be forgotten, if there has been confession and contrition. Although of course, the Lutherans don’t believe in confession. One almost pities them for that. Can even God forgive Prince Conrad his sins?

”Dies iræ, dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla...”


“Day of wrath, a day that the world will dissolve in ashes…”

My little angles, dragged out on the court, screaming in terror for me to save them, beaten, ravaged, tortured, murdered. And yet that was as nothing, compared to what Anna had to endure – they made her watch our children suffer, before she did. In truth, I don’t think the pincers or the fire could cause her much additional pain after living through that. It was just her flesh screaming that way – yes, just her flesh. Her spirit was already as dead. And, I, like a wretched coward, hiding under the pile of coal in the cellar through it all. I never thought they would touch them, or I wouldn’t have hidden. I would have died with them, but then I couldn’t have avenged them, could I? I couldn’t have shot Prince Conrad, for ordering it. “Revenge is mine, says the Lord”. But surely, the Lord must understand. Will I be forgiven MY sin? I hope so.

It was easy to pass for a yokel, all dirty with coal dust that I was. Four days after the Horror, it was Sunday. I had slept in the cold mud, eaten with the pigs. No one would have taken me for a Freiherr. Only one possession did I take with me from my house before I left – my pistols, which I carried in war as a Ritter. I loaded them with a bit too much black powder and double shot – I wanted to make sure Conrad didn’t live. During service – they no longer call it mass, the heretics – I was with the standing crowd at the back and the Prince was in the front rows with the other nobility. I had to wait until he walked out afterwards, and it was the longest service of my life. But just before he left through the Church gate, I got my chance; he passed right in front of me. I pulled out a pistol from under my dirty cloak and fired, point blank. The Lord be praised, it didn’t blow up in my hand – it was a good weapon, a wheel-lock made in Augsburg, and I paid six thalers for it. Best money I ever spent. The other one I used on a soldier when they captured me, although I begin to regret that. Although he was a heretic too, all the Prince’s men are, he was just doing his duty in arresting me. Although I suppose he could have been one of them who killed my family. If so, even that killing would have been justified. I hope it was.

Now they sing the Agnus Dei and there will be no communion. The funeral service is almost over. Only the burial remains. The music ends. They lift the coffin again, grunting. We leave the Church and the smell of incense goes away. Rain patters on the lid. The procession stops, and they begin to lower to coffin. Lord, have mercy! Now there’s a knocking. Has he changed his mind?

But no, he only wishes to mock me: ‘Think of me as you choke, Papist scum!’

His voice is strained with pain. Good, good. Lord Forgive me, how I hate him! Maybe he’ll get the fever and die yet? I saw many men do during the Turkish war, less severely shot than Prince Conrad. Dare I pray for that? Or will it be held against me in the final judgement?

The coffin thuds into the wet soil at the bottom of the grave. Shovels of earth fall on the lid with wet thumps. Ashes to ashes… it’s time to make my peace. Anna. Theresa. Joachim. I’ll be with you soon, I hope.

So silent. I can’t move. I can hardly breathe. What if there is no God? Air!

No, no! My soul is at peace! It’s just my flesh screaming. Just my flesh.
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
“So is this is a eulogy we’re about to hear or an elegy? I always get the two mixed up.”

The words travelled much further than Melisande had intended, earning her a few frowns and mutters from the other mourners. Her husband Charles, looking exceedingly dapper with his moustache neatly groomed and pristine black clothes, shrugged and shook his head.

“I don’t see how it matters dear,” he said in a much more subdued tone, “it will be the same old rubbish about how he was a genius maverick, rather than the corrupt self-glorifying conman we all know he really was. I mean, everyone always goes on about the siege of Athens…really, anyone could have pulled that off. Anyone at all.”

“You were always jealous of him, weren’t you?” Melisande said with a smile. “But really darling, that’s no excuse to talk ill of the man. Also, I notice that you failed to answer my question!”

There was a quiet chuckle from behind them. “I do believe that what William is about to read is a eulogy,” an unknown voice said. Charles and Melisande both turned to see a slightly tatty looking man whom neither recognised, with a dark, full beard and the kind of face that has an air of universal, reassuring familiarity about it. The stranger continued, “A eulogy is a speech in praise of the deceased, whereas an elegy is a poem. But I wouldn’t expect such a fair lady such as yourself to have any interest in such a morbid subject. I‘m Stephen Montagu, pleased to make your acquaintance.”

He took the lady’s hand and kissed it, and despite herself Melisande blushed. Charles glared at Stephen before proceeding to pointedly ignore him. In front of the mourners, a visibly nervous clean-shaved young man took to the stage. He coughed, and then launched into his speech.

“It cannot be doubted that General Neumann, Friedrich to those who knew him, was a man of many great qualities, foremost among them his generosity and his cunning. I had the honour of being his second in command during the Greek campaign, and saw at first hand the sheer force of his genius at the battles of Patras and Corinth, as well as the siege of Athens. Serving under him, it soon became clear that he was not a man to be crossed- his sometimes fiery temperament became the stuff of legends. But underneath lay a man who cared deeply about those who served under him, to the point that he would even risk his own life to try and save his men…”

Charles’ attention was clearly drifting, and he was more interested in gazing at the clouds lost in his own thoughts than in what William was saying. Melisande felt a nudge on her shoulder.

“You know,” Stephen whispered leaning forward as William‘s stilted words wafted by, “I heard that Neumann was a great lover, and that there wasn’t a woman in the realm that could resist his Teutonic charms! I bet chaste young William doesn’t mention that!”

Melisande couldn’t help but let out a quiet laugh. “He sounds like quite a character,” she whispered back. “I’m sorry I never got the chance to meet him!”

“Oh, he was a truly great man…well, for a German. People always talk about Athens, but it’s Thessaloniki where you should look if you want to see an example of his true genius.”

William paused, distracted by the sounds of whispering among his audience. He waited for the whispering to stop, and when it did not he continued anyway, raising his voice slightly,

“Not only was a he great general, but also a loyal and devoted husband. However, his wife Christina died in labour along with the baby, and after this tragedy he poured all his loyalty into his adopted country and the men who served under his command. It is, I think, truly sad that such a man has no heir to continue the Neumann family name…”

Melisande turned back to Stephen, and felt a slight flutter in her heart as he gave her a sly grin. “So what happened at Thessaloniki?”

“Ah well,” Stephen said, “most of Greece had fallen to our armies, much of that thanks to Neumann. However, the port city of Thessaloniki held out against our besieging armies for nearly three years, and it was getting to the point where it seemed as if the place would never surrender. We had Athens, but we also needed Thessaloniki to gain the leverage needed to press for the peace deal we wanted. Eventually, Neumann’s army was ordered to join General Stafford and to take overall command of the two armies, which did not please proud, stuffy Stafford one little bit, as I’m sure you can imagine. Neumann quickly surveyed the situation, and concluded that the city could hold out indefinitely as long as it was being supplied by the sea- as silly as it sounds, our navy was struggling and failing utterly to disrupt the supply lines. We just did not have enough ships to maintain an effective blockade.”

Melisande nodded, fascinated by what Stephen was saying and ignoring the drone of William which continued unabated in front of them. “So what did he do?”

“Our navy wasn’t cutting it. But nearby there was a country that commanded the largest fleet in the Mediterranean, and if they could somehow be brought onto our side then the Greeks would quickly fold…the Ottoman Turks.”

“The Turks?? But they would never help us! They despise us!”

“Neumann was aware of that. But Neumann being Neumann, he came up with a solution. He spent the next few weeks acquiring examples of some official Ottoman documentation through dubious means, so as to get some understanding of its style, and then meticulously forged a set of letters and guarantees in the name of the Sultan. He was of course a master forger, amongst his other skills. He then selected ten of his swarthiest men, and with this entourage made haste for Kavala, where the scouts reported that a sizeable Ottoman fleet was docked. Stafford thought him mad at best or a traitor at worst, of course, for going off and abandoning his army like that without official leave or even so much as an explanation, but Neumann’s plan required the utmost secrecy. Within a month, thanks to Turkish ‘help‘, Thessaloniki fell…I’ll leave it to you to guess how he did it.”

Melisande was open mouthed. “You can’t just leave it like that! Come on, tell me, what did he do?”

Stephen smiled and put a finger to his lips. Meanwhile, young William continued his eulogy, sounding slightly more confident than when he started,

“His death was a tragic, yet heroic act. With the Greek campaign ending in victory, on its way home the fleet carrying the armies was to dock in Malta to resupply, having received prior assurances from the Venetians guaranteeing our safety. However, the Venetians were not true to their word, and our fleet came under attack from those treacherous Italian dogs. During the ensuing battle, General Friedrich Neumann was shot while defending his men from those vile brigands, falling overboard and drowning in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. He lived a hero and died a hero…”

“Yes, Neumann was a brilliant man, but he wasn’t perfect,” Stephen whispered. “There was a reason he left Brandenburg and never ever went back…and his murky past was catching up with him. Not long before arriving in Malta, he learnt that he was facing possible charges and imprisonment for certain misdeeds upon his return to England, not to mention that Stafford still had a bee in his bonnet about the whole Thessaloniki gambit and was threatening to have him indicted for treason. It‘s really quite fortunate that Neumann died when he did if you think about it.”

“Oh my,” Melisande muttered. “Quite fortunate indeed.”

The eulogy had come to an end, and the relief on William’s face was palpable. The coffin was committed to the ground and the priest concluded the burial service, scattering the dust with the traditional words from Genesis,

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

As the guests were getting ready to leave the cemetery, Melisande turned to Stephen.

“Will you be staying for the wake?”

“No I’m afraid I cannot, I have important business to take care of elsewhere. Farewell Melisande, and my dear Charles, it was good seeing you again.”

Charles, who had spent most of the eulogy deep in his own thoughts, snapped his head upwards in surprise. As he watched Stephen walk hurriedly down the winding path between the gravestones and out of the cemetery, his eyes were wide.

“What’s the matter, my love?” Melisande said, puzzled. Charles shook his head, unable to suppress a laugh.

“Oh, just a silly thought I had. Come on darling, let’s get to the wake.”
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
Note: I've never been to a funeral. May it be entertaining anyways.​


West Street Meadow​

Oliver McNeil was a shadowy man. Though a father of three, he was often involved in some rather strange dealings in the lesser known world of the cities. Some say he was a mobster. I don't think so. A drug dealer? Well, the war did foster a need of such things in people, but I doubt it. What I do know is that he was betrayed and killed by two allies of his. Before the bastards robbed his corpse they took a memento, typical in the decadent city. In this case, Oliver lost both his pinkie fingers. It was quite strange to see those same two men at his funeral.

Oliver loved the outdoors, so it was held at a grassy field called West Street Meadow. His relatives got permission to bury him there as well, beneath a massive maple tree which had begun to grow orange. The two men arrived just before the eulogy and slide-show. The leader seemed to be the tall one; the one with brilliant spectacles, carefully molded hair, and a pristine black suite. His short comrade was somewhat heavier, unshaven, and smelled of whiskey. Everyone was aware of who they were and it was Oliver's wife, Julia, who approached and demanded they leave.

“We are just showing our respects, miss.”

“Just payin' ar' dues,” the short one added.

They were unmovable, driving her into a fit of tears. She ran to the open casket of Oliver and cried onto his chest. The two men received nothing but hostile glares from the others. They were mocking the dead man, a final kick in the ribs, and everyone knew it. Julia's oldest daughter tried to dissuade her away, as many had already taken their seats in preparation for the slide-show.

Julia eventually surrendered and solemnly took her seat at the front. No one could pry a word out of her. The crowd was quite large, perhaps two-hundred people, and was in such an arrangement that the most closely related were at the front, while friends or acquaintances were seated in the back. I had some distant relation to Oliver and managed to get in towards the middle. The two unwelcome guests took their seat in the very back, causing the others to shuffle away in contempt. They soon had the entire back row to themselves and were closest to the casket. Oliver's brother Stephen, a bearded and well proportioned man, spoke at a modest podium. He started with the family legend of Oliver's birth and almost never took his eyes off the notes he read from.

...our mom went unconscious twice while in labor. Both times she was revived and Oliver was finally delivered, healthy and well. She claimed to have seen the Lord and that he had his back turned to her. Our pap only shrugged this off as a hallucination of some sort...

The narration moved through his early childhood. He swung from hearty laughs to nigh whispers.

...oh we fought, we fought alright. He always got me back. I once put salt in his cereal; he put a dead frog in my san'wich, which in those days was the masterstroke…

...I remember, when he was seven or eight and I a year older, sneaking off into the woods and building a small fort. Little by little we pieced it together. We sometimes 'borrowed' supplies from the neighbors. When we finally finished it, we'd take with us some books and things we were forbidden by mom and pap. Things about werewolves and vampires, and boy did that frighten us, but our fear of punishment was always stronger, forcing us back home before nightfall...


I learned quite a bit about Oliver. The contrast between Stephen's narrative and the pictures was striking. Such fascination with the supernatural was not something I'd heard of. While Stephen moved on to 'love pretty womens', as he put it, Oliver collected books on the occult. On one occasion, he was evicted by his extremely pious mother. She found that he had replaced his school books with similarly sized and, clearly to her, satanic tomes. Thankfully she was quick to get over that.

For an hour, the story of Oliver's life went on until Stephen got to describing the last time he saw him. He spoke slowly, as if it was the first time he had recalled it, even to himself. He lamented as he described in detail what would otherwise be a forgettable memory. Many in the crowd were brought to tears, myself included. When Stephen moved from the podium, holding his weeping face, I could see that many were as unsure of what to do as I was. It was then that I overheard a woman next to me. She said that Oliver's burial would proceed shortly and that only his closest should be present.

I'd had enough of the misery there and decided to make my exit. I walked down the narrow isle towards the back. I gave a daring glance towards the two thugs from before. The tall one was gone and the short one sat slumped with his chin resting upon his chest, clearly ashamed of what he had wrought.

I made sure to put some distance between myself and him as I walked by. I slowed only to get a last look at Oliver on the other side of me. It seemed as though Julia had disturbed him somewhat. After a thoughtful moment, I turned and proceeded to leave. My eyes never left the small black figure of my car as I proceeded towards the road. When I passed the great maple tree, something at the base of its trunk caught my interest. I turned and found the other brute lying there as if he had drunk himself unconscious. His chin dug into his breast much like the other. I stopped my progress and made a few cautious steps to him. The white undershirt beneath his black suit was moist with a crimson substance. My attention grew sharper and my heart seemed to stop as a red droplet fell from his ear. I jumped towards him, horrified and fascinated. I knelt and tilted his sagging head back. His neck was flimsy.

His cheeks and eyes were an unrecognizable collection of shredded tissue and broken glass. The frame of his once magnificent spectacles dangled from one ear. His jaw slacked as if broken. I brushed away some of the soppy hair from his forehead to get a better look at him. From his scalp downwards ran four grizzly marks, one of which was separated slightly from the other three. They were so crude and savage that I was on the verge of vomiting. Though I remained in place, I could bear no more and turned away.

Gasps and murmuring had erupted behind me, I looked over just in time to see that a hesitant crowd had gathered around the other man. A curious girl gave him a slight push and his body fell over. His head flailed limply as it banged into the chairs in front of him. Maddening screams rang out. Feeling as though I was in danger; I stood up and stumbled away. I did not look back for the minute or so that it took to cross the meadow. It felt as if there might be something trailing me, but I couldn't bring myself to turn lest it be emboldened to charge. I walked faster and faster to keep ahead of it, certain its breath was on my heels. The cycle seemed to repeat itself until I was nearly running. When I reached my car I threw the door open, but felt no relief. I could only glance around in fright. I looked in the back to make sure nothing was there; I locked the doors. Confusion overcame me and I forgot how to work the clutch. I mindlessly jabbed the peddles in an effort to start it. Then a new wave of cries carried over West Street Meadow, this time far more desperate and unimaginable, and I knew they had finally discovered what I had seen. Near the great maple tree, three or four terrified shapes recklessly bolted away. I found my bearings and let my car take me home with a roar.

I owed Oliver my job, amongst many other things, which was why I went to pay my respects. My loose relation to him wasn't really a factor. Yet I can never bring myself to go back and visit his grave, for I know that I too had wronged him long before his death. How? It doesn't really matter. Perhaps he thought it petty and not worth holding a grievance over. I hope so, but I'm not going to take the chance.
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
The Funeral


The sky was nearly dark as clouds piled one atop another while rain fell down in a steady sheet of water nearly sleet like in hardness. The sun was so obscured that what little light emitted was only of the quality of twilight. The group of mourners hadn’t been very large. Only a few people in fact. Other grave stones were placed in neat rows within the cemetery, some worn with age.

The priest had performed the service perfunctorily in a monotone voice. He had clearly not been all that keen on being there, but had done his duty. Even if it hadn’t been all that inspiring nor remotely satisfying. A woman dressed from throat to foot in black homespun wept quietly as another, also in homespun tried to comfort her.

A few men stood behind them talking quietly. The priest had quickly left after his sermon finished, unwilling to stand out in the cold rainy conditions. The plain pine box had been lowered into the clay moments later. Two men with shovels began to slide muddy earth over the coffin. The heavy thunks of clay hitting the wood echoed wetly in the grave hole as they quickly went about their business.

The rain continued to fall, if anything the intensity of it increased. One of the men moved forward to the weeping woman and leaned toward her ear.


”Melinda, it’s time to go.”

She just burrowed her face further into the other woman’s shoulder and cried even harder. His face, craggy with age and careworn with worry grimaced in understanding. His eyes, a brown so dark as to be almost black, mirrored the sky in darkness. He laid a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“Come now, my dear,” he spoke barely above the sound of the rainstorm, “We need to get you out of this rain.”

“Why?” she sobbed, “What do I have to live for now?”

The older man sighed softly, too softly to be heard.

“He wouldn’t want you to give up on life.”

“Without him there is no life,” Melinda flung herself at him and buried her face into his chest.

“Don’t say that.”

“It’s true!” she sniffled, “It was our wedding day! Why did….”

Her voice trailed off as a fit of coughing wracked her body. She trembled in the aftermath. Shivering in the cold she continued to cry. The sobbing of the broken hearted.

“Because he wanted to claim his lord rights.”

“Something that hadn’t been done in over three generations,” the other woman snapped.

“Martha, that doesn’t help.”

“It’s still true,” Martha glowered at him, “He only did it because Melinda spurned his advances last summer.”

“Be that as it may, it doesn’t matter now,” he looked up at the manor on the hill.

It was brightly lit against the darkness of the day. Another funeral was taking place up there amongst the high and mighty. One that was far more ornamental and much better attended. The family chapel was undoubtedly filled to capacity as people from all over the land had traveled to pay their respects to the one time hero of Madden March.

Martha spat to the side, “I hope he finds hell warm enough for his liking.”

“It’s not right to speak ill of the dead,” he reminded her gently.

“Charles, that bastard killed your only son,” she snapped, “Yet you speak of saying kind things about him.”

“The dead can’t hurt us, Martha,” he shook his head as he began to try and guide the younger woman away, “Leave over, will you?”

His imploring gaze was enough. She relented, but her eyes still seemed to glow with an inner fire. The other men had already left to prepare a fire in the fireplace and tell the women inside to prepare hot broth and heated cider.

Charles was a large man. Well over six feet he towered over most, his broad shoulders and powerful limbs coming from a lifetime of working a forge. His hands, scarred from white hot sparks, gently forced Melinda to walk away.

“That’s it, then,” one of the grave diggers patted the last shovel of mud into place.

“I’m for a hot toddy and sausage,” the other grinned.

Melinda spun out of the grasp of Charles and ran screaming to the filled grave. She flung herself on top of the mud and began using her hands to try and dig the mud away. Charles swallowed a curse and rushed after her. The gravediggers gaped in amazement as the slender woman flung gobbets of wet earth behind her as she tried to uncover her beloved’s casket. Her shoes fell off and sank into the mud.

Charles swiftly picked her up and cradled her like a baby as she continued to shriek at the top of her lungs. Her mud caked fists beat on his chest and shoulders futilely.

“He can’t be dead!” she screamed.

“I’m sorry, but he is,” Charles tightened his grip slightly as she began squirming in his arms trying to escape.

“No! No!” she howled, “It’s a trick! He just wanted the high to think he was dead! He’s faking! I just know it. We’ve buried him alive!”

Charles shivered in spite of himself. It was a horror that was impossible of course.

“He was cut nearly in two by the Seneschal,” Charles shifted her so that her fists were now striking his iron hard back, “There is no way he could have survived such a wound. You know that.”

“At least he took the lord in the kidneys before that,” Martha shook her head in consternation.

Melinda hadn’t taken the death of her husband to be very well. Women had taken turns for the past three days watching her day and night in case she tried to kill herself. Twice they had barely managed to keep her from success. Martha was sure it was only a matter of time before she managed the task.

Charles glared at his sister in warning before turning his attention back to Melinda. She had stopped screaming. Her body was limp with exhaustion as he shifted her once again. He stepped away from the grave carrying her in his arms like a small child. Martha scurried on ahead of him.

The two gravediggers watched him vanish into the rain, his footsteps squelching in the mud.
 
Last edited:

comagoosie

Perennial Dreamer
53 Badges
Apr 14, 2007
8.759
44
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Cities: Skylines Industries
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
6 authors :eek:

and I just start school tomorrow :( So I guess this means I have to get this all done in one day!

This post will be edited like last time ;)

Let me say that what I post is whatever that comes to my mind after I read, uncensored and pure. Don't not be offended by my wandering thoughts.

Author 1: Very good story, I am unfamiliar with that time in Ireland, so all the more congrats to you. You took your time to describe the tiniest details and you fleshed out characters, who were believable. However, the story, in my opinion, was only half developed. You might have taken too much time describing too little. I understand that there might not be too much to say about a particularly bad person, but maybe some words of detail would have helped. It is almost as if you assume that the reader is familiar with the man’s deeds and all the other characters. I checked all your characters and they are amazingly real people, so is this a historic funeral? If it is, you might have wanted to elaborate more on the past than the present, but looking at your writing style you would have probably added a hundred words or two.

Another thing is that maybe you used too many characters, either that or used words that aren’t familiar. For instance, Taoiseach, I had no idea what that was until I Wikipedia it. Not to say that using these words are bad, but giving more of a hint of what they mean and who they belong to would have been preferred. Obviously you are someone full of knowledge about Ireland, so I pin you as someone from Ireland.

Author 2: Whoa, lots of things beneath the surface to address. First of all you are going way too fast. You started off slow and then bam! There are 10 paragraphs of the present and 10 paragraphs covering the past couple decades, these don’t match up. To let you know, I didn’t’ actually count the number of paragraphs but you know what I mean. My head was spinning to cope with the description of snow and then to the description of 2 decades, do you know what I mean? Keep the pace the same. It is ok to have flashbacks, but little flashbacks, your whole story is primarily based off the past. I see you used religion, ‘reformed’, are you trying to mock this religion, or is it a totally new religion, and that brings me to another point, is this friar Martin Luther? But then things don’t tend to match up, so I am putting my bet on a alternative history story, which by the way is good. However I am not done.

Something shocking to me is that there is hardly any dialogue! Dialogue is something fundamental in almost everything except history-books, but this is a narrative now. I bit surprising, especially since last time there was a submission with only dialogue, but I suppose this also refreshing. I must commend you on banking on the legend, it is ingenious, but I am not sure it makes up for your faults, though you do have an original story.

Author 3: Ok so we know the protagonist is being buried. Does he have a name? It is kinda hard to relate to someone who doesn’t reveal their name. Even if he doesn’t say it, someone else can. Though by what the Prince says makes me think he cardinal of the catholic faith and this story must be taking place during the reformation, but still a name. It would have also been nice to see a translation of the first one, why are they hypocrites? Furthermore, why would the prince and the prince’s family spare no expense for the man that tried to kill the prince? Right?! I mean the protagonist is the one that died and the prince lived! So I guess it could be said that your story isn’t clear enough. You try to conjure up hatred for the prince, but in doing so, you may have left out a line or two that would have made this all crystal clear.

I do like the first person and what you used to conjure up hatred. You had me fuming, though those left out lines made me confused and the moment was lost. I did like the ending, very nice, both the beginning and the end were of that standard, it was just the middle.

Author 4: I know I am missing something, at the very end, what does that mean!? You have my mind racing as to what was meant. It is unbelievable that a woman who doesn’t know the difference between a eulogy and an elegy can’t get a hint that I can’t guess. I presume I have to reread then. I guess this mean that the story plot was well crafted, give yourself a pat on the back, I liked it. Where is this funeral taking place, I assume it has some importance, if I had to make a wild guess I would say Malta because that is the place where he died, but why would there be a funeral where, again I assume, no one knows him.

As to how Neumann conquered Thessaloniki. He gave the Turks a CB on the Greeks, and so they blockaded Thessaloniki? I part that is needed is a little description of where they are, Neumann’s murky past, and explanation of Stephen. Maybe as to what his relation was to Neumann and how he knew so much. Was he an envoy from England? Or maybe he was just a random guy who knew too much. These things, in my opinion, must be answered. Also a more general description would have been nice too.

Author 5: I like your style, kinda reminds me of my own, except you do it in 1st person. Hmm…I don’t have much to say, don’t get me wrong it is good, but not great. It doesn’t have the feel, you know what I am talking about? Maybe you should have developed Oliver by other than the eulogy, because only good things are said in that, and we want the truth and nothing but the truth. Maybe another why I didn’t’ think it was great is because, in my opinion, I prefer third person, I know you had nothing to with that, just something that I like...err, ignore me. Furthermore, you spent too much time on just the eulogy, it is good to have a eulogy, but again, we want the truth. It seems you spent a lot of time describing the eulogy and the deaths to the ratio of actual information, which is what the reader needs. It is very nice to have a eulogy and those gruesome death scenes, but as long as there is some good information. We actually didn't get to learn too much about you. There was how you weren't a close relative and that you had done some shady things to Oliver, but other than that, there was nothing. In this case, it makes the reader not connect with the protanganist, which is what is wanted, I am assuming. It is almost having the protanganist as a spectator, but then in the last couple paragraphs you changed that.

Author 6: Not a bad story at all, it was a little awkward when you described Charles, seemingly out of nowhere. I do commend you on telling the story through a crazy women who wants vengence, it made me feel that her husband was killed without justice, but you never know, maybe he wasn't. Maybe he was truly an underground drug dealer and the lord, err I am assuming he is a lord, tried to stop him. Sometimes the person you know the least is your spouse, and in this case, your soon to be spouse.
 
Last edited:

Fiftypence

Debased coinage
35 Badges
Aug 19, 2004
3.365
113
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • For The Glory
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
Whoa, 6 entries! I shall give my critiques once I've read through them all again and had a bit of time to digest them.
 

The Yogi

Evil Genius
34 Badges
Dec 16, 2002
3.280
22
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • For The Glory
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Darkest Hour
  • Diplomacy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
Me too. As a rule of thumb, I would avoid reading the critique of others before reading the stories. Twists will be spoiled for you.
 

dharper

Dei Gratia author
81 Badges
Aug 7, 2002
20.705
2.370
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Majesty 2
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Supreme Ruler 2020
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Pride of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Humble Paradox Bundle
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Divine Wind
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
I apologize for my silence; I've been very busy recently and haven't been online as much as normal. I appreciate all the feedback I got; I don't think my story was my best work, to be honest. I'd say more, but it's not my turn any longer - so I'll critique the new stories.

I'll update this post as I (slowly) read and review all six.

Author #1: An eloquent and generally well-written piece, it gave a lot of information without bombarding you with facts and really set an Irish feeling to the piece. As a stand-alone piece there was something lacking, though; the funeral seemed to go nowhere, and the ending was a little clichéd. There was no conflict, no drama or foreshadowing that could suggest the introduction to a larger piece, and nothing specific enough to make it the ending to a novel about the character's life. However, all that is just sour grapes - the story itself was better written than I can achieve and I'm truly jealous. :)

Author #2: This was an interesting alternate universe, but I have to confess I didn't find it a believable one, which hurt my enjoyment of it. The idea of any single man able to stamp out the Catholic Church or conquer all of Europe in a single lifetime defies just about everything I know about history, so I found the story a bit hard to swallow. I've accepted much more ridiculous things before in stories, but you have to ease them in gently into the story, not all at once like this. It was also a little odd to see people embracing death - it goes against human nature. But getting past that, it was an interesting piece. Every now and then the language stood out as being a bit off...I'm not sure why, but it seemed to go in and out of a formal style of text, and some phrases just didn't seem to fit the poetic nature of the rest of it. Aside from that I can't find fault with it.

Author #3: A creepy story; being buried alive has always been one of my least favorite themes. I had a feeling it was the speaker's funeral soon into it, but I have to confess I was expecting him to be a ghost, not still alive. :eek: There were enough historical details to make this story come alive, although it could have used a little more physical description of people and things. As an inner monologue, though, it worked well.

Author #4: This one left me a little confused...I take it that the mysterious man who knows so much about the deceased is, in fact, Neumann himself playing one last con to escape his troubles? If so, it would require immense skill not to be detected by the mourners at the funeral, many of whom would have known him intimately. A disguise would help, but he'd really need to change his accent and mannerisms as well - a tall order even for someone well-trained in it, and there's no mention of any skills in this area in his Greek campaign. A pity, as that would have led up to the ending a little more clearly. Overall a well-told tale; the eulogy in the background is a nice touch which helps convey tone and pacing. However, I found Neumann's tale to be a little forced, conversationally - it's more of a monologue than a conversation, not really that natural if the two are whispering. You'd expect a lot more interjections from Melisande and shorter sentences were that the case! Other than that, a little more descriptive text would have been nice.

Author #5: This one was a daring idea and a very different story than the others, but it left me confused. In this case a little hinted-at description for the monster/entity/ghost/demon/? would have helped create an atmosphere of fear; as it was, the reader had to fill in too many details. The ending was a bit abrupt as well - I got the impression that the dead man's spirit was attacking the entire funeral, which can't be right. Or can it? I was left in the dark. Stylistically, I think that the deceased's interest in the occult was presented too boldly - it might have been better to allude to it with several speakers rather than coming out with it directly like you did. I also felt there hadn't been enough character development for the main character: when he fled the funeral I was caught quite off-guard, having had no idea that he had any bad past with the deceased, or that he'd be the type to save his own skin rather than help others escape the conflagration. I guess I was just left thinking "huh?" at the end. Side note: spell-checkers sometimes don't catch everything, so it's a good idea to get someone to proof your story beforehand. I noticed a few things like "suite" (a hotel room) instead of "suit" (clothing), "grizzly" (a kind of bear) instead of "grisly" (bloody) and peddles (to sell something) instead of "pedals" (the foot-levers in a car).

Author #6: I found this piece very confusing and had to re-read it; it was then that I realized that Melinda wasn't acting quite as insane as it seemed; the line of the friend telling her that it happened because "he wanted his rights" made me think that her groom was the lord. Names or titles would have been very helpful in figuring this out! Aside from that, the story was well-written enough but seemed to be lacking much plot - I was expecting some sort of development or twist ending and never got it. Stories don't always need that sort of thing (in fact, it wears terribly if you do it all the time) but for a short story it's almost a necessity.

Overall, my thanks to all six (!) authors this month. I really need to work on coming up with more positive things to say; I found all the stories interesting in their own rights, and often realized I would never have thought of doing the same theme in their place. Bravo to everyone who contributed!
 
Last edited:

unmerged(19363)

Colonel
Sep 7, 2003
842
0
Visit site
I must first say that if there were a topic where we would have to read six stories rather than the usual 4, I would hope it would be a bit more cheerful topic than a funeral. Six funerals in one read is a bit of a depressing idea. If we ever get this many submissions again, I hope the topic is about butterflies or free beer! ;)


Author #1 - April 1966
The most noticeable thing for me is that I come away from this in a sour and depressed mood, which if the story was written with this intent, the style was a success. This short story was full of mood and atmosphere.

I'm not sure what the reason is for the obvious omission of periods at the end of each paragraph, I've never seen that before. I found myself rereading a few sentences because I didn't understand them, perhaps too many things happening in each sentence.

"The odd cough punctuated what was otherwise a silent procession down the aisle; the cold stone interior being near deserted with just a scattering of souls occupying the front rows of aged pews and all faces grimly fixed on the closed coffin displayed prominently by the alter."

The above quote seems an overly complex sentence with too many different ideas joined together, that perhaps could have been broken up into their own sentences. A very well written piece, and it really hit a home run in developing the mood of the scene. I had to take a walk after reading this to get out of the sour mood.



Author #2 - Ending Of A Golden Age
A bit of an unusual and brutal interpretation of the funeral theme. The surrounding circumstances are done vaguely, perhaps by intention, but I would have preferred a little clearer picture to fully "understand" these vanquished people's full situation.

There are several instances where the author could have used a good proofread (as is oft the case in GTA). In several cases it seemed a word was missing from the middle of a sentence.

"Churches were built and schools, constructed. Children became educated and families, richer."
This is an odd use of commas, and I saw this style throughout the story. They could have been omitted entirely in the cases above. One other item, when they were brought "to the Northern wastes", but geographically it would have helped to know exactly where in the world that was.


Author #3 -

A very dark and unpleasant story, particularly the gruesome mention of his family's death. An interesting twist that at first it seems Conrad's funeral to me (particularly the expense of the funeral), but in the end it is the author himself being buried. Buried alive nonetheless, very spooky. I enjoy the style of the story shifting between the funeral mass itself and the reminisce of the author, that was done in very balanced style.


I've got to take a break, too many funerals for a wednesday! I'll read the final three submissions later.
 

Amric

Hurricane Sergeant of Arms
2 Badges
May 4, 2003
5.643
1
Visit site
  • Europa Universalis III
  • 500k Club
Well it IS a lot of submissions, I'll agree....but I couldn't refuse....However, I HAVE noticed that of the reviews, there is of course the proponderance of the first three authors being reviewed, but the last ones not...at least not yet. I am hoping that this is rectified as I would hate to have the final two authors to be penalized for being at the end of the submissions....
 

The Yogi

Evil Genius
34 Badges
Dec 16, 2002
3.280
22
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 200k Club
  • 500k Club
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • For The Glory
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Darkest Hour
  • Diplomacy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
Well, I will begin with the last three then.

#4
A well written piece, nothing to say about the style except that there are few descriptions of people except for Stephen and Charles, which makes the former stand out in a way the writer surely wouldn't want. Also, very little is said about the setting. Are they in a church? A garden? A moored warship? Not until the end do we hear that they are at a cemetery.

However... I have issues with the interaction between the characters.

Charles first comment about Neuman, at his funeral at that, rather seems to indicate he hated his guts, or at least dispised him (and from the very self-glorifying account of "Montagu", it's easy to understand why. Is it a self-jab from the author that "Montagu" sound so very much like "Mary Sue"? ;) ) Of course, there are people which are convinced that everyone loves them, quite against all proof otherwise, and this trait would seem to fit Neuman like a glove, which would explain the warmth of his final farewell to Charles.

Second, Neuman/Montagu claims to have served as Neuman's second in command during the apprently recently concluded Greek campaign. Even if Charles didn't serve in that campaign with Neuman, if he was a high ranking officer in the same army (otherwise, why the jealousy), it's almost inconceivable that he would have no idea of who the second-in-command was. It would have made more sense to have "Montagu" claim he was his aide-de-camp, or an officer in his staff or something more anonymous.

Finally, the idea of disguising up to visit your own funeral, given the reasons why it was staged in the first place, seems foolhardy in the extreme - but again, it fits well with the character of Neuman, as we get it presented to us. Interesting piece to read, overall!

#5
Ah, a ghost story! Loved the foreshadowing of the severed pinky fingers and the FOUR scratches on the faces of the thugs. Creepy. Well written, and a smooth way to introduce the occult theme through William's speech. Good style too, although I would've liked a little more ambientation, so we knew roughly the period - the 20s, the 70s? The mention of the war creating a need for drugs made me think of Vietnam, but it could easily have been becasue of the shattered nerves from the Great War. Country is undetermined (I assumed the United States), but it doesn't really matter. Period matters though, for filling in mental images of clothing, cars etc. I gets distracting from the story to search for clues about the setting. Character description was just about what you'd want from a first person account like this - any more would have been out of place, and any less would have been too dry. Well done, good read!

#6
Wow, what a melodrama! The poor Melinda really, REALLY grieves for her husband. We get that pretty soon, but we keep hearing it until it seems, it's the only point of the story. The reason for the tragedy is classic; feudal opression, excerise of the droit-de-seigneur or prima nocte, no less!

Because "it hasn't been done in three generations", we get a pretty good idea of when this takes place, probably late Dark Ages (900-1000 AD), which was a clever way to set the time without going into lengthy explanations.

The attitude of Charles is odd even given the setting - his only son has been killed on or soon after his wedding day, and he seems mostly disturbed by the unseemly displays by Melinda. Of course, given that his son has murdered the lord before beign cut down, he might simply be too worried by the possibilty of further retribution on his family to allow himself to grieve right now. If so, the story should have gone more into that.

In the end, despite good style and fluid dialouge, I'm left wishing for something more, a twist, something unexpected.

Finally an overall bit of trivia - has anyone noticed how the name Charles appears in stories #3, #5 and #6 and that the wife in #4 is Melisande and the grieving wife in #6 is Melinda? :D What are the odds?

I'll come back to comment the first three later!
 
Last edited:

unmerged(19363)

Colonel
Sep 7, 2003
842
0
Visit site
Amric - I was not suggesting there were too many submissions, the more the better. It just seemed ironic that the first time we had six submissions it was about such an unpleasant affair as a funeral. Here's my review of the last three stories.


Author #4 - Is it a eulogy or elegy?

"So is this is a eulogy we're about to hear or an elegy? I always get the two mixed up."
The words traveled much further than Melisande had intended, earning her a few frowns and mutters from the other mourners.

I really enjoyed this opening line, and her seeming ignorance on the subject helps open up the following dialogue with Stephen. I guessed halfway in that this might be Neumann himself attending his own mock funeral. This is written in very nice style, but a few more details would have been better: What country is the funeral taking place? Who exactly are the players in the tale? We get a very limited view of the entire scene (perhaps purposely so in some cases), but that makes it a bit harder to understand. It is a risky thing story wise to have a person fake their own funeral and then be bold enough to attend it! He absolutely cannot allow himself to be recognized by the people attending the funeral (who obviously knew him well), so his starting a lengthy dialogue at his own funeral seems a very unlikely occurrence. At the most he'd be sitting in the shadows in the back. That is a tough literary trick to pull off.


Author #5 - West Street Meadow

Why would the murderers come to his funeral, and how did everyone there know they were the ones who killed him? This doesn't seem to make much sense, and if there was a reason it should have been explained. Writing in the first person, you should have given a description of your character at the beginning of the tale, rather than the last paragraph after everything had already happened. The only time a writer should use that tactic is for a twist to the tale. His having crossed the deceased really didn't qualify as that. Like several other of the stories, we don't know for sure exactly what time frame or what country this scene happens in. The main problem with the way this story is done, is that we don't realize this is a ghost story until the very end, as if it changes direction late in the going. Perhaps the writer/first person could have intimated a fear of something like this happening earlier in the tale.


Author #6 - The Funeral
I'll start with the title given: The Funeral. It is too bland a title, and could have been given a more descriptive name instead.

The opening sentence troubles me:
The sky was nearly dark as clouds piled one atop another <- should this read "one another"?
while rain fell down in a steady sheet of water nearly sleet like in hardness <- it either is rain, sleet, or rain mixed with sleet, and should probably be described as that.

He had clearly not been all that keen on being there, but had done his duty. Even if it hadn't been all that inspiring nor remotely satisfying. <—that should have been done as one sentence.

Aside from my issues with the sentence structure in some places, this is a very moving tale. Well done with the topic, and as the reader I can grasp the high emotions in each of the three main players.

***

It is great to see this much interest in GTA to be getting six stories submitted. A few months back we couldn't even get three. From the various comments thus far, it seems that most of these six stories all share one main issue: they fail to give either an accurate place or time for the setting (the last one cleverly did so with mentioning prima nocti). But it definitely helps the reader get a better idea of the setting and surroundings merely by giving a place or time. Too much of a pinhole view sometimes keeps us too much in the dark of what is actually happening. I look forward to the next round.
 

Count Lake

Game Over Man!
53 Badges
Jul 12, 2007
758
59
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • War of the Roses
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Lead and Gold
  • Magicka
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
Hi there everyone.

I am a decently new writaar on the block and have been looking through many of the threads of Aarland. This is certainly one that impressed me and I was hoping to get involved!

I will be following and hopefully contributing sometime in the future but for now, I just wanted to introduce myself!