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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Homelands
Chapter Thirty Nine: By the Blade
Part 5


Prelude:
King Vishly succumb to his wounds April 14th, 1356 leaving behind a legacy of blood and violence: two civil wars, six violent and bloody purges resulting in more bloodshed then some wars. It was not surprising then that he would be killed by the wounds of an assassin's blade from six years earlier. However, he did make it to the age of seventy two, the same age as his father. He would be the longest lived (from birth to death) Prussian King until King Vilis died at the age of seventy six in 1628, almost three hundred years later. His reforms of centralization and monarchism were left at the mercy of a very different ruler, King Gunvald II. Gunvald II would orient his reign toward maximizing the efficiency of Prussia and it would lead to dramatic changes and a fundamental change to the Prussian world. Rescued from the depths of a prison in Mariengrád, Gunvald II, known to some as "the Minter," took centralization in a new direction. What he could not centralize, he got rid of. Prussia rapidly shrank, not from war, but willful division in order to strengthen Prussia proper. Even the Kingdom of Poland would eventually emerge in a Union with Prussia under the eye of Gunvald's eldest son, Doyvát. The next period of Prussian history would define the nation in a modern sense, many of the borders, allies, enemies and cultures of Prussia would be defined in a brief span of time between the death of King Vishly and the death of King Vilhelms in 1545. Nine Kings would rule in that period, the same number as in the last, each leaving their mark on history.

May 26th, 1356

Doyvát led his men through Mariengrád castle. He held a torch in one hand and a sword in another. The castle was now a labyrinth of cages, cells and torture devices. He had heard a rumor, and then read it on a slip of paper bearing Vishly's mark: his father was here, somewhere. "My lord, we've found a passage way here!" Doyvát ran over to where the voices were coming from, and sure enough they had revealed a passage way behind a false wall. The passage led downwards.

"Wonderful, this has to be where Vishly has left my father to die!" Doyvát said. He spoke, of course, of Vishly's guards abandoning the castle upon news of his death. It had taken more than a month for Doyvát's claims to the throne to be recognized by the Patriarch of Prussia and for him to then convince his followers to give him time to find his father, who, if alive, would be the proper King of Prussia. The Prince lead the way downwards, gaining momentum as the stairs eventually widened into a broad corridor that reeked of human refuse. There was some moaning, but generally things were still.

"Sir?" A soldier asked for some form of orders.

"Cut all these men out of these cells. I don't care who they are they are all pardoned. If they are dead, remove them for proper burial," Doyvát said, still worried about checking every cell. Glancing around he saw many of the people here badly tortured, missing limbs, eyes, ears, fingers and all sorts of cut and burn marks covered their mostly naked bodies. He blew hot air out of his nostrils. It was the sigh of a increasingly angry man. Where could his father be? Could he really be dead? Doyvát shook the thoughts out of his head. He wouldn't have any of it. His father was alive, he knew it. He had to be. Could Vishly really sabotage the monarchy like that? Doyvát shuttered knowing that the answer was yes.

"Sir, we have found your grandmother, she is ready for interrogation up above," Doyvát was told. He looked at the soldiers, well meaning and naïve, he couldn't hold anything against them but he wanted to keep up his search. But he relented and followed them back up to the surface. He had never seen his grandmother, and upon seeing her, wished he hadn't. She was a grotesque symbol of monarchy, fat and bloated. Her dress dirty from her flight from Memelgrád, stains on the white frills under her chin showed she had a preference for red wines.

"What do you want with me you Fraternal scoundrel?!" she exclaimed.

"That is no way to talk to your King, m'lady," one soldier pointed out.

"No, we are looking for the King. I am Prince Doyvát Gunvaldsun, Prince of Prussia, Lord Commander of Poland and Silesia, Regent of the Kingdom of the Prussians... and your grandson." Doyvát removed his hat as a sign of respect, but he would not bow to this cow, no matter who she might have been. "Now, I believe that you know where my father, the King is." He tried to remain as polite as possible, he was hoping she would do the same.

"Why would you think that I would know?"

"Did Vishly never tell you?"

"He told me he had that little brat killed, years ago. What did you expect from Vishly? Compassion? Weakness? Don't kid yourself," Ziedás spit a wad of phlegm at Doyvát's feet. Doyvát's face remained stiff, but only because he fought off a wave of sorrow. "And good riddance... he ruined this Kingdom with his war, and he drove my beloved Butovit to kill himself and even killed his own brother in battle... he was a monster!"

"No, ma'am," Doyvát said, "I killed Vilhelms." Ziedás briefly looked angry, but her face relaxed quickly. "Your son, Vilhelms was a monster; he was just like his father. The ruin that you and Vishly brought upon tens of thousands of people... did you expect Vishly to die any other way?"

"And I assume I can expect only the same."

"I am afraid so, ma'am. You've already been sentenced to death by beheading."

"Such is the way of the world," Ziedás said, suddenly very aware of her condition. She sobbed, "I used to be so beautiful, and this is how I leave this world?!"

Doyvát tried not to sympathize, he only turned around to the soldiers that were charged with her care, "Gentlemen, please take the former Queen to Memelgrád, put her under house arrest in the palace, I'll oversee her beheading when I return."

"Yes, sir."

Doyvát put his hat back on and walked away, returning to his search. He held down pangs of sorrow, of worry and isolation. Such was the way of life. The soldiers already accepted Gunvald as dead, they removed their caps as he passed. But it only strengthened his resolve. He would find his father, dead or alive, he'd find his father and crown him before interring him into the ground. Returning to the newly found passage, Doyvát headed downwards, toward the voices of men working. But as he headed down he spied a small crevice behind a statue, and with some prodding found the mechanism to move the statue out of the way. Inside was a short hallway, on either side a cell. In one corner lie an old man, his head ringed by a halo of crazed grey hair. The man looked up, almost longingly, "I told you, King, they were going to kill you! And here they are!" The man laughed and pointed and laughed some more, thoroughly enjoying himself.

Then, from behind Doyvát, a weak voice stuttered, "I told you, they aren't going to kill us, isn't that right?"

"Torch!" Doyvát shouted. "Bring me a torch, I've found him!" He could feel everything in him exploding, the pure joy that ruptured upwards into his face and made him cry. Several men ran into the small space and one handed Doyvát a torch. The Prince held the light up to the cell and behind the steel bars lie a very tired and weak Gunvald.

"Doyvát?" he asked, almost as if the figures in front of him her all a hallucination. "Doyvát, is that really you?"

"Yes, father, yes! I've come to free you, my lord! Your father is dead and your mother captured. It is all over, we've won!"

"O my, well then..." Gunvald shakily stood up and brushed some of the dirt off of his shirt. Soldiers worked at taking the door off of its hinges, thus freeing their missing King. After Gunvald was out, they worked off the other door, freeing the grey-haired man. The Prince grabbed his father up in his arms. The two stood there briefly but Doyvát was quick to hurry Gunvald out of the castle and back to Memelgrád, soon they would have to coronate their King officially.

Comfortable in a carriage, Doyvát began to tell his father of what happened in the six years after he was captured. The King was pleased, his son had served him well in Prussia's time of need. But now there was much to be done. Gunvald's coronation would only be the start, Prussia was weakened from civil war and from Vishly's rule. So much to be done, Gunvald thought, where would I begin? But for Doyvát, finding his father was not so much as a beginning so much as an intermission. He no longer had to be King, he could let his father deal with it and then one day he could be King too. But that day was a far-off thought in the head of the Prince as he enjoyed the fruits of his loyalty.

May 26th, 1992

Bendiks Tomssun rested against the masonry wall of a five by five room. Though he couldn't see it in the cold, wet darkness his hair hung far past his nose and his beard well past his neck. It had been over nine years since he had seen natural sun light. Nine years since having held his wife, heard a bird sing, driven a car, played a guitar... A guitar... his fingers longed to once again touch metal strings and wooden fret boards. His voice, he longed to sing again, with a new vision and hatred for the people who had put him here. He longed for the fields of California, the jungles of Yucatan. One song was enough to put him away for nearly a decade... a decade of sorrow and pain; of torture and of fake confessions. Of death threats and boots stuck in his face to be licked clean. The titled floors echoed with booted footsteps. They were coming to get him. Maybe today would be the day. Maybe today they will just take him outside and shoot him. At least he'd get to taste the fresh air, feel the wind against his face and the mud against his tattered uniform. Three people stood outside his cell. He could tell from the voices. One probably had a gun.

A click, and then a blinding stream of fluorescent light filled his dark and dank cubical. Two men walked quickly into the room and before Bendiks could protest they pinned him against the wall. The third stepped forth with what appeared to be a tazer, but instead he ran it through his hair and the prisoner felt hair falling all around him. They cut off his beard and buzzed his head bald. They offered him some stale after shave, it was a different brand then they had in 1983. They slapped it on and it burned, but it was a soothing burn, just like the commercials offered. They picked him up and half pushed, half carried him over to another room. His eyes adjusted to the light and he saw a green-tiled room, like so many others in this complex. Looking around, he saw many of the guards were crying. They had a look of uncertainty on their faces. The youngest sniffed and tried to keep his nose from running down over his lips. One of them broke down into open sobs. "Don't you get it?" he asked another, "We're all fucked. We're all fucked, man. What the fuck are they going to do to us?! They are going to drag us out into the streets and shoot us like fucking dogs." He continued to cry, and his words effected the others around him.

"Shut up," another retorted. Bendiks had no idea what was going on, they almost didn't even realize he was there. "What's he still doing here? Get into the bathroom, you!" The man forcibly put a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush in his hands and pushed him toward the bathroom. Once there Bendiks looked at the tube, another new brand. Most of it was in French, it was a western product. He put some on the brush and started brushing, but had to fight the urge to squirt the entire bottle in his mouth. It was so good. It was a bit of fluoride-treated heaven. He took ten minutes brushing, savoring every last drop of it, sometimes topping off his brush before another guard came and grabbed him, taking the tube and brush away. He still had no idea what was going on, but damned if he was going to enjoy it while he could. When he got back to the room with the guards in it, he saw that they were tearing up their uniforms, standing in their state-issued boxers and undershirts. They doused jackets in kerosene and threw them all into a wastepaper basket.

"Take this out back and burn them. No point in keeping them." New uniforms coming? As Bendiks thought, he was forced to stand straight and they began to forcibly remove his prisoner's uniform; dousing it and adding it to the pile. "You're lucky," the soldier said, "You have friends in high places." He handed Bendiks a shirt and pair of shorts from a box. He passed the rest around to the other guys. "You've been issued a full pardon."

"Wha?" Bendiks stammered, "Pavilssun?" The soldiers looked around in confusion.

"Didn't you hear? Pavilssun stepped down; some crazed politician took over... Klaudijs Ludissun."

"K...Klaudijs is Director?" Bendiks could feel the tears welling up in his eyes He fell to his knees and cried and cried. A smile almost cut his head into two. "H-how did that happen? What happened?"

"Protesters finally got to the Director... they've been almost non-stop for two years now... and were weekly since you've been arrested." They turned on a small TV and let Bendiks soak in all the information. It showed protesters riding on top of tanks, burning the flag, waving a new one, handing out roses. It showed clips of him and his song, of his old band, of him being arrested. Bendiks slowly faded into a happy day-dreaming state as his entire mind focused on the TV. The new flag was rose, black and white for Freedom, Prussians, and Peace. The video showed his wife and daughter. She had been three when he was arrested. Now she was twelve. She was thin like her mother. They showed them getting off a plane, had they fled like he said? The side of the plane was labeled Air France, so they had to, or they would have likely been imprisoned too.

"We are glad that we are finally allowed to see him again," she said. She smiled and waved at the cameras. His daughter waved too. In the tiny room, left all alone he waved back. It was only a matter of time and he would be allowed to. Suddenly his stomach pained him. It growled loud enough for a few of the ex-guards to look at each other and then one left to the mess hall. He brought back a tray of bacon, a few pancakes, syrup and a few napkins.

"Sir, uh... um... If you don't mind." He handed Bendiks a napkin and a pen, "M... my son is a huge fan... we uh... bought him one of those Lárssun 6-50... It is a bit old, but it is just like the one you used."

Bendiks was surprised. Was that it? Were they friends now? Did those last nine years mean nothing to them? Or was it easier for them to forget because they did it and never received? Or did they go home at night and cry? He put his fork down long enough to sign the napkin, and then, talking over the food in his mouth, said "I hope he doesn't keep you up all night like I did with my folks."

The guard nodded and pointed to the large bags under his eyes, "Sometimes it is worth the lack of sleep." The guards continued to watch him eat, they chatted idly about "life on the outside" and what was going to happen to all the underlings as the higher ups eventually stood trial for the deportations, the disappearances, the terror that ruled over so many for so long. In Silesia, a lone despot held on, declaring that the Soviet Empire would live on and it would start from Silesia. But that was it. Where was Hungary? Carpathia? Bulgaria and Serbia? Rome? Kwihzihristan? There was only one Germany? So much had changed, what was he going to do? Even California was in the middle of change, race wars and tension between the Native Californians and the Prussian rulers. The world was moving, rather quickly, in the direction so many, including Klaudijs, imagined and hoped for.

A soldier entered the room followed by several others. They were lightly armed with assault rifles and wore green khakis and rose-colored berets. They didn't seem to care about the ex-guards lounging around, instead they focused on Bendiks. "Sir? I am General Heino Hendriksun, currently in command of paramilitary forces in Memelgrád. We are here to escort you to Mariengrád so that you can meet with Klaudijs and your family."

"Mariengrád?"

"We've restored many of the pre-Soviet names to cities, Mariengrád used to be Vilisgrád."

"Why didn't they fly into Memelgrád?"

"We've closed the airspace around the city to civilians. We want to make sure everything takes hold, but we assume we can open air travel over the city in a week or two. Can you please follow me? We have a convoy waiting for you." Heino showed the way with his hand. Bendiks stood up, leaving only a clean plate and began walking. But as he got to the hallway he was stopped by one of the guards. For a few tense seconds, no one knew what was going to happen. But then the guard extended his hand in friendship and Bendiks shook it. Eventually they got to the door that Bendiks never thought he'd see. Outside he could hear voices and the soldiers opened the door and joined more soldiers in making a perimeter around the door. They forced an opening for Bendiks as literally a sea of people screamed and reached to touch him. Thousands of rose-black-white flags waved, some small others the size of bed sheets. When the crowd saw their hero the volume increased to an inhuman level and even Bendiks had to take a step back. He meekly waved at all the people. In the distance he saw an armored car with more soldiers around it. Heino pointed to it and then pushed Bendiks along. As he walked, thousands of hands reached out to touch Bendiks. Some just brushed his clothes or skin, others shook his hands forcibly, and some just grabbed his clothes.

Once in the car, Bendiks slid over to the far side and Heino sat next to him, putting his rifle on a rack in front of them. It was then that Bendiks noticed a medic who was prepping to give him a physical on the move. "We just want to confirm that they left you in a usable state," Heino said. "The state has told us nothing for these nine long years. It was only just last month that we found out you were still alive. So, how did they treat you?"

"Well, I was fed. But this is my first time in the sunlight."

"I can tell," Heino said. He patted Bendiks on the back as the former prisoner watched out the window. Everywhere they went the flags of change hung everywhere. On the tree lawns the old, mandatory portraits of Vilis Stefanssun and Jazeps Valdissun lie thrown up against trash cans, some stuck in the trash cans. In some places the old flag was being burned. As they passed the Director's House, an old Imperial castle, Bendiks saw them carrying out a body in a body bag. The old Imperial Palace, now the House of Commissars, was draped and almost hidden behind flags. "We are going to turn it into the new House of Parliament," Heino said proudly.

"It seems you have much to do then, General."

"We do," he said smiling. "We have a lot to do... all of us. But this is where it starts, right here. We can get back to the foundations put down by Andris Eduardsun. Socialism and Democracy. The renewal of the state."

"How long has it only been us and Silesia?"

"Hmm... Serbia left in 1987, Rome and Kwihzihristan left in 1988, Carpathia and Bulgaria in 1989, the Germanies and Hungary in 1990."

"We are two years late?"

"Well, Prussia has basically been frozen in time for the last two years. Protests became daily, we organized the paramilitary forces in case it came to violence, which it didn't. We also started the shipments of western goods into Prussia illegally through Germany. There was also the issue of getting far-right groups to cooperate."

"Far-right?"

"Yeah... neo-fascists are a rather small number these days, but Christian Revivalists, Anti-Socialists, Restorationists even, still make up a sizable minority when they are considered together. And we must remember we cannot silence them, lest we lose our ideals."

"Do you know I met the current heir of the royal family when I was in California?" Bendiks asked, changing the subject slightly.

"No, I did not know they were in California."

"Yeah, and they are actually half Native Californian as well."

"No shit."

"They gave up their claims, though... maybe the Restorationists are pushing some other ex-noble."

"They are; some grandson of a former Duke of the Empire who has been living in France this whole time. France became a beacon to the asylum-seeking for all sides. Even I was there briefly with Klaudijs right after he wrote a thesis on the end of the Soviet Empire, several of us had to leave or be arrested. We found Lyon to be more than comfortable: her people welcoming and loving."

"What is the next move?" Bendiks asked.

Heino looked up at him, the philosopher-general smiled briefly but then, realizing the position of the world frowned, "We have much to do. Much of the world sits in a perpetual state of oligarchy. Monarchs still rule much of the world, and in many places dictators rule as if they were monarchs. Franda Islam and Sunni Islam are more open to the world around them then the Hindus and the Christians. Many in France and in Iberia are not even really Muslims, content with not understanding God and living life without it. Many here long for the same ideals. But others, boisterous and annoying as they all demand we not sell alcohol on Sundays or keep gays banned from marrying, all things that we are planning on doing in these next few years."

"So nothing has really changed in nine years?"

"Well... we have cell phones now, I guess. And Prussia has changed, we are free now. Scientists and political thinkers like Klaudijs are returning. You are returning in a way." Heino adjusted his beret as they approached the airport, situated in such a way that it could serve Mariengrád, Memelgrád and Sambigrád together despite each city having its own smaller airport. It was much larger than Bendiks remembered. Outside, waiting for them was an armed contingency fronted by a large, white-haired man. He smiled and saluted at Heino then offered his hand in respect.

"Ah, General Hendriksun, and you must be Bendiks Tomssun, it is an honor, sir."

"This is General Mihkel Georgssun. He was commander of the Soviet military in Krákográd and is now the commander of the Rose Paramilitary Forces. He will be leading our mission into Silesia next year if they do not give into unanimous European pressure to give up the Soviet mission," Heino said kindly, but Mihkel made a hand motion and sound effect insinuative of a bug being squished.

"Now, now Mihkel, we mustn't jump into things that way," a familiar voice said. Before them stood the new Director: Klaudijs Ludissun. "Hello, Bend..." Klaudijs was crushed under a bear hug from his long-lost friend.

"I didn't believe them, man... I didn't believe you. You did it!" Bendiks cried. "You actually are Director!"

"Well, not for long. We are going to have a vote and if I win... I shall be President. A much more fitting title, I believe. Come on, there are people waiting for you." Klaudijs pushed Bendiks into the terminal, which was emptied of civilians. Inside, just beyond a luggage terminal, sat the two people Bendiks had missed the most while he had been away.

"Daddy!"

"Kristina!" Bendiks grabbed his little girl and hoisted her into the air. He hugged her close. But he turned and looked at his wife, she stood sheepishly by, watching and waiting for her turn. "Isabel..." She came and joined in a group hug. Tears streamed out of Bendiks's eyes moistening Kristina's shirt. This day was so long in coming, but it all suddenly dissolved into nothing. The years of neglect and pain fell off him as he held onto all that mattered to him. But as Heino said, it was only just beginning. He was only just free. Now he had to rebuild. He had to rebuild his life from the bottom up. But he knew where to start and he was already there.

Outside Heino and Klaudijs talked idly with one another. Around them, throngs of soldiers and civilians alike celebrated the end of the Soviet Empire. In Memelgrád, parties erupted in the streets. Mariengrád celebrated getting its old name back, and people went on vendettas to take down any sign that had Vilisgrád on it. In Sambigrád the navy fired salvos in celebration. The twin cities, Kiev and Chernigrád, had massive fireworks displays. All over the nation people were waking up free, and living their lives as they had always wanted. Many years would be necessary for Prussia to join the west in wealth and prestige, but things were already looking up. Just as they had six hundred and thirty-six years ago when Gunvald was rescued from a dank prison cell in the depths of Mariengrád Castle and was put on the throne that was rightfully his.

End Chapter Thirty Nine
End Book One
 

Enewald

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Except that Gunvald's struggle was a struggle of the noble classes, later everyone got to suffer more? :p
Silesia independent?
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Except that Gunvald's struggle was a struggle of the noble classes, later everyone got to suffer more? :p
Silesia independent?
The struggles were the same, the goals were different.

Those are called teasers, Enewald. ;)
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Well it has been a long time coming.

This is a sort of fare-well letter to the CK forums (for a little bit anyways). Homelands and her fans will always hold a special place in my heart. I started Homelands as a side project while I was writing an AAR with Issac Wolfe. For those that don't remember, that AAR held many similarities with Homelands, and initial updates looked very similar to updates from this old AAR. Obviously Homelands had a certain something and is standing the test of time. I am going to now get to work on getting through the Prologues so I can move forward with Bastions and then eventually with the rest of the story.


I hope that everyone enjoyed the conclusion of Homelands, I really enjoyed writing it. We will get to hear more about Bendiks and Klaudijs in later tales, they will definitely play a major role in the future, so if you liked them, stay tuned.

Anyways, I have a few ideas for the future, mods... maybe a collaborative AAR, so I will not be gone from the CK forums for long, but definitely head over to Bastions to get more updates and I will see you over there!

tasist un lábnat!
(That is all and good night!)
 

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Bravo!

It was a pleasure to follow this AAR and I'm sure it'll be even better to follow Bastions. Once again, bravo!
 

Lord Strange

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*Applauds*
 

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wow, I finally decide to log back in and stop lurking and look, Homelands is done...well its time for Bastions :D

But really this is a fantastic story you have going, keep up the good work
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Bravo!

It was a pleasure to follow this AAR and I'm sure it'll be even better to follow Bastions. Once again, bravo!
*Applauds*
wow, I finally decide to log back in and stop lurking and look, Homelands is done...well its time for Bastions :D

But really this is a fantastic story you have going, keep up the good work
*clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*

Excellent. I'm just... speechless.
Now this was a great Christmas gift!
You wrote something very special. I can't wait to see what happens in Bastions!
Thank you very much, everyone. This means a lot.
 

unmerged(216003)

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Excellent work! I had a great time reading this. Looking forward to the rest. Keep it up!
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Well done.
Excellent work! I had a great time reading this. Looking forward to the rest. Keep it up!
I can honestly say this is one of my favorite AARs that I've read. Looking forward to Bastions!
Thank you, everyone. I really do appriciate it!



And with that it is important to announce that it is time for the 4th and final round of the 2010 AARland Choice AwAARds! You can check it out here. Make sure to make your voice heard and vote for all of your favourite AARs! And if you do decide to vote for Homelands/Bastions please do so by casting you vote for Homelands in CK - Narrative. Since I have two AARs up and running and one is a sequal to another and hasn't even really started, I want votes to focus on Homelands (especially since this is Homelands' last chance to win anything).

Regardless of who you vote for, make sure to vote and vote before February 1st, 2011. Any AAR updated in 2010 and started before January 1st, 2011 is good to go! So please take a bit of time and vote, it means a lot to us authors! Thanks.
 

Mr. Capiatlist

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Thank you everyone, Homelands won her final award in the AARland Choice Awards. After this point she is not eligible, so it means a lot to me for Homelands to end on such a strong and positive note. This really means a lot to me, and so does your continuing support. So thank you.