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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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This may or may not be premature, but I'm getting tired of writing Republic of the Blue Lion, and the narrative of it is quickly spinning out of control. As such, I think I will finish the current arc and proceed with it in a more controllable history-book style with occasional narrative.

This will be my attempt at a different narrative, one where I hope to maintain much tighter control. As opposed to being a full-on AAR in which a game is chronicled, this will be more of a novel with the game and the story of it serving as the base material. It will, of course, still be covered. I'm just going to focus far more on the narrative this time around.

As for the story itself, it is a tale of a man and his nation. It's a tale of triumph and overcoming adversity.

(In other words, I ain't got a clue)

It'll start soon.
 
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Chapter 1 - Awaken

Light and dark contrasted sharply in the cold room, with natural sunlight streaming in through a window lodged in the middle of a cold wall. Looking around, the man noticed he was in a different room than he had been the night before. That was to be expected, of course, for he had been moved around from place to place for the last several days. Still, the fact that he hadn't been awakened at all was simply unsettling. His body was growing accustomed to the situation, and Sivus didn't like it.

The room was dull, most likely barely being prepared beforehand. The bed may as well have been a solid plate of steel for the thinness of the mattress that lay atop it. A plant in the corner revealed that something could still survive in the harsh conditions everyone was facing. A sign of hope, perhaps. The window he noticed earlier wasn't much of anything except a literal hole in the wall. It was jagged, somewhere between circular and square, and had no glass in it. A door was right beside the window. From an optical analysis, Sivus could tell it probably was too heavy to move without the help of multiple people.

A nightstand beside the bed held a dark shape upon it. Figuring it was a book, the man picked it up. The cover was black, covered in gold lettering. It was written in the Latin alphabet, most likely English from the way the consonants piled up on top of each other like rubble. Still, he felt compelled to open it. Marveling at the thinness of the pages, he scanned through the text. From what he could make out, it was divided into a different kind of section from chapters. Perhaps it was a compilation of separate books?

As he was studying, a knock at the door startled Sivus, leaving his heart pounding heavily. “Come in,” the man said, carefully placing the compilation back on the nightstand as a figure walked in through the doorway. The person he saw was light-skinned, perhaps six feet tall. The stranger wasn't short, but Sivus was taller. Standing up in order to reach his full height, he hoped to intimidate the other person. Obviously it didn't work. The man began to speak in a foreign tongue, his face completely devoid of expression, most likely explaining something in a highly confusing manner like they all did.

“You don't understand,” came the other man's voice, switching to French without any shift in accent. Sivus had learned French in school, so he was able to reply without much mistake. Stating that he didn't understand at all, the other man simply nodded. “Follow me,” he said, gesturing. Sivus shrugged, then followed without much hesitation. He didn't really have anything to do in the room except try and figure out a little more about the book on the nightstand. In fact, he was tempted to ask the person he was following what it actually was, but decided against it. Such questions from someone of Sivus' stature would be something approaching treasonous. Somehow. The government's laws made no real sense, they seemed to be in place solely to frustrate.

The walls seemed to stretch on endlessly. They always did, of course. Guardians couldn't let their charges have any hope of escape, or any hope at all, really. At least, that was Sivus' experience. Maybe he had had the same Guardian all along, and had just been brought to different rooms in the same building to simulate the unsettling effect of waking up somewhere foreign. After all, people who oppressed others generally had the money to buy huge swathes of land, building veritable palaces upon it.

“I see that you are not French, either,” came the stranger's voice. Sivus had decided by now that it was a guard, not a potential rescuer. “No, I am not,” replied Sivus, looking to the side, trying to look for some hint of escape from the walls. The guard turned around, his face seeming cold and unfeeling. “I don't suppose you'll tell me where you're from?”

“No.”

“In that case, I can't exact judgment based on your race. I'll just assume you're Eastern European and treat you the worst I'm allowed to by law,” The guard was obviously trying to coax Sivus. If he was going to be treated like an easterner, what was the point of revealing that he actually was one? It wouldn't score him any points, after all. Still, he felt motivated to do so.

“I'm from Minsk. Belarus, that is. I know you don't believe we in the east could possibly have cities, or any semblance of civilization,”

The guard punched Sivus in the face, and he collapsed to the ground. A kick to the ribs drew a cough. A second kick to the head made everything go black, but he could hear the guard saying something in a satisfied voice before slipping into unconsciousness.

---

OOC: I don't mean to offend anyone who happens to be Eastern European. This particular brand of racism is all an integral part of the story, you see.
 

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Chapter 1 Part 2

Sivus awoke, banded and chained to a chair which restrained him from moving at all. Gasping for air, he swung his head around. “Where am I?” he asked to no one in particular. When an unfamiliar voice grunted, Sivus realized he was in a room with several people. One was a tall man, another a stout woman. Both of them were covered in regal clothes and medals, denoting them as some kind of military people. His trained eye noticed that the man had been discharged with mortal wounds. At least that was what the medals said.

Other than those two, the only other person that stood out in the crowd was the guard from earlier. Then again, he probably wasn't a guard if he was allowed in a room with all these high-ranking people. “Ah, Sivus Bischa. Glad to see you awake. It would not do if you died.. no, it would not do at all,” said the tall man, his face contorted as if he had just eaten something sour. “I believe we owe you some explaining.”

“No, really?” Sivus replied sarcastically. Sighing, the man continued. “This is an Imperial transition camp. The reason you've been being moved around is because we all were. It took awhile, but we've finally arrived. Well, to our first destination, anyway. We're currently in Provincia Baltica, awaiting a convoy that will take you and some other men to another camp in the south,”

Sivus knew he had heard of that province before. Well, of course he had. One didn't exactly skip over geography in school and still pass easily. Baltica was one of the newest acquisitions of the Empire, having been taken from Russia just fifty years before. Rumor had it that an important military project was taking place in the province, and apparently the rumor was correct.

“You can't do this to me! I'm a Russian citizen, the Emperor promised us rights! That's why we agreed to surrender Kiev...”

“Hah! You thought that would actually hold more than a month? Sivus, my friend, you are quite a funny man. Still, this will give you a chance to earn actual citizenship. It's not even difficult. We're going to send you to a school to see if our training methods are working. No battle is even involved,”

Sivus was actually taken aback at the generosity of it. He had thought it was going to involve a lot more torture and screaming. Still, the man was not to be trusted. Anybody in the Imperial military was a treacherous, condemned soul. After all, they had agreed to the Peace Conventions, which were supposed to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. Yet, during the last war with Russia, they had dropped twelve bombs in Belarus, killing the majority of Sivus' family. They had been small, of course, but they wiped out entire cities in the blink of an eye all the same.

“Alright, then, that's all you need to know,” said a different voice. It was the woman this time, and she spoke with a far more commanding voice than the man who appeared to be her partner in this particular endeavor. “Take him back to the holding room, the convoy should be arriving in a few hours.”

A few of the men lined up against the wall that Sivus had regarded as unremarkable nodded, and unlatched all the restraints. Blindfolding him, they led the Belorussian man out of the room, shoving Sivus every few steps.

The next thing he saw was the same depressing room that he had awoken in, with a slight addition. A metal tray contained a few pieces of meat and potatoes as well as a roll. It was large, which meant it was actually small. Sivus had gotten used to that particular paradox early on. When they fed you a large meal, it was so that you wouldn't ask for more until it was past feeding hours, at which point you would start starving. A clever way for a Guardian to shirk their responsibilities, but the one running this particular detainment center – or transition camp, if that was what they called it now, didn't indulge in it very much.

“Thank you,” said Sivus, nodding to the escorts. They cocked their heads to one side, wondering why he would thank them. So at the very least they realized they weren't the nicest humans in the world.

Turning his attention back to the black-covered book on the nightstand, Sivus decided to read it a bit more. Upon recognizing a few of the words, he decided it was definitely English. Odd that the Emperor would allow anything in that particular language to exist within his nation's borders. Englishmen were only just above easterners in treatment status, since they were the only Western European nation to remain independent, unless you counted the miserable shell of an Aragon that existed in and around Barcelona.

A strange world they lived in. A strange world, indeed.
 

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Chapter 1 Part 3

Iamhemap2025.jpg

Map of Europe, 2025, commissioned by His Majesty Manfred von Stillenburg

- - - - -​

“Minas, is this truly fair?” asked a fair-skinned young woman. She was the thirty-seventh secretary this year, and she had only been working at the school for the last few weeks. However, she was already questioning Minas' decisions! Was he truly that bad of a person that a complete stranger could point out what was 'unfair' about everything he did?

“Yes. Yes it is. Now go do it,” he said curtly, spinning his beige chair around to face the wall opposite the woman. It was a bad choice, however. A glance at the wall showed him the existence of the mirror that reminded him of his past. His pale, white face had once been regarded as beautiful.
Now, however, it was marred by scars from wars long gone. He had aged much worse than he should have. The face in the mirror belonged to a man on his deathbed, but Minas was only sixty. As he heard the secretary's footsteps walking out the door, he silently let his head face the ground. The old man said a silent prayer, asking for forgiveness. If he was caught, it would be execution for sure. Religion had been outlawed by the Emperor back in 1994, and the Russian Tsar had followed only a few days later. By now, the only people who could openly believe in a god among the free-thinking peoples of Aragon.

Some days Minas wished he could move to Barcelona and just enjoy life as it was. But he had oaths to fulfill and debts to repay. Although few knew it, he actually owed the previous Emperor his life. Back in the day, of course, the current Bohemian line wasn't in power. They were only elected after the tragic death of the last von Habsburg male. No, back then Emperor von Stillenburg was just another soldier in the army, who had saved an old Greek soldier out of the goodness of his heart.

“Headmaster Minas?” asked another secretary. He was one that had been with the school for years and didn't question decisions made. A fine young man, but Minas could never seem to remember the boy's name. “Er, yes?”

“We just got word from a Guardian that we will be receiving a Belorussian student. Do you wish for me to strip down one of the rooms so that he won't be as comfortable as the others?”

“Let me see the report. I'll notify you later,” replied Minas, swinging his chair back around to face the boy. The secretary's name tag read Helmut. Making a mental note to remember that name, Minas glanced down at the paper in front of him. “Ah.. it says here his name is 'Sivus Bischa'. An odd name for a Slav.. but I suppose parents can be creative at times,” Minas said, thinking aloud.

“Twenty-four, eh? A bit old to be a student, but he shall do. I did need someone to put me into the next funding bracket, after all,” he continued. Actually, this would be fun. Minas had never really met a Belorussian before, even when he still lived back in Constantinople. Chuckling, he called the secretary back into the room.

“Yes, please. Strip down the room,”
 

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A massive Austrian-formed HRE now ruled by Bohemians in a crapsack Europe when basic decency has gone to pot. Interesting! :)
 

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Yay! I finally got some commenters.

A massive Austrian-formed HRE now ruled by Bohemians in a crapsack Europe when basic decency has gone to pot. Interesting! :)

That does indeed sum up the setting quite well! Glad to have you aboard.

Interesting... A mighty xenophobic Empire bent on domination? You have my attention, and this is looking beautiful!
Time-travel will of course be involved, I'm assuming. Shall Bischa lead the nation of Polotsk to victory over the Empire?

Perhaps, we shall see!
 

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Chapter 2 - Arise

VIENNA, AUSTRIA
1395

"The Duke is dead, all hail the Duke!" finished the priest, placing a crown on Albrecht's head before falling to the ground on one knee. "Albrecht the Fourth, Duke of Austria. ... It has a nice ring to it," thought the newly crowned man as he rose from his kneeling position. There was a muffled sound as every person in attendance fell into the same position he had just held. As Albrecht looked out over the crowd, it finally dawned on him. "These are my subjects," he thought with a shock. Then an uncontrollable urge came over him.

"I am Albrecht! Albrecht von Habsburg!" he shouted, mainly for himself. Of course, everyone in the room knew who he was, but most of them would understand the meaning behind his shout. The feeling of gaining such political power was just.. it was just so indescribably amazing.

As Albrecht wondered what he was supposed to do next, the time passed in confused silence. Eventually the priest whispered into his ear that he was supposed to give a speech. "Oh, right," he said to himself. That was odd, considering that he had just spent two or three hours the night before practicing this speech.

"The world is a dangerous place," he began, looking solemnly out onto the crowd. It was a true statement. Austria was at a volatile time in its history, with the rival Habsburgs in the Leopoldian line holding large portions of the country that should belong to the Duke.

"As such, I require your loyalty. We need to trust each other if we plan to make it through these turbulent times," continued the man. Another true statement. If he couldn't trust the nobility, then how would he get anything done in this accursed country?

It was at that moment that a thought struck him, a thought that would shatter the world and change history forever. A thought that was so incredibly obvious, but one that hadn't occurred to him before. "I don't actually need the nobles, do I?"

Dangerous thoughts for a king to have, the kind of thoughts that could get one killed. But somehow, he was simply possessed by this thought. Nobles were absolutely useless, they just stood in the way of the ruler. Instead of continuing his speech, Albrecht simply walked away to the back wall.

Upon reaching the stone construct, he turned around and made a large sweeping gesture that took in everyone in the crowd. "Arise," he said, nodding. There was a few extra hours on that speech he hadn't said, but Albrecht was so possessed by the thoughts he was having now about running the country that he simply couldn't deliver the rest of it.

They all rose awkwardly, muttering to themselves about bad feelings. The priest rose his hand for silence. "Uh, er, thank you, your Majesty," he said, also showing signs of being disturbed. "Will everyone please enjoy the feast provided for us by the Duke?" asked the black-robed man, his mistakes and stumbles probably due to confusion.

Food quickly chased away all memory of the speech's failure, and the nobles began to converse, possibly already plotting diabolical schemes to undermine the Duke's power. "Paranoid thoughts," Albrecht walked over to a table to see who would join him. When no one came, he sat alone with a grumble. A few minutes later, a few young women walked by and sat at the table, smiling at him.

They, as expected, provided far more interesting conversation than the nobles.
 
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Kill the all I say! Let us rule Europe with monarchic iron fist, devoid of the incompetence of the nobility, the greed of the burghers, and the lethargy of the people! Hail Albertus Quartus Habsburgum, Imperator Europae! Ok, maybe a bit too far-fetched :D At least for now ;)
Albrecht seems so... human. The 'I am a Duke!' part helped a lot. I love it when your mind snaps and become familiarized with the character itself. Very well done.
 

Avindian

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This is kind of a neat idea, and I've liked your previous work. Will you be providing the occasional game play maps to situate us on your progress?
 

gela1212

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Kill the all I say! Let us rule Europe with monarchic iron fist, devoid of the incompetence of the nobility, the greed of the burghers, and the lethargy of the people! Hail Albertus Quartus Habsburgum, Imperator Europae! Ok, maybe a bit too far-fetched :D At least for now ;)
Albrecht seems so... human. The 'I am a Duke!' part helped a lot. I love it when your mind snaps and become familiarized with the character itself. Very well done.

Ah, you're catching on! :p. Glad to have you aboard.

This is kind of a neat idea, and I've liked your previous work. Will you be providing the occasional game play maps to situate us on your progress?

Oh, of course. Once the chapters start reflecting in game events, they will be accompanied by screenshot. I'm just setting up the story at the moment. As always, glad to have you reading.
 

gela1212

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Chapter 2 Part 2

1399

destabilized.jpg

“Expected,” said Albrecht, looking over at the messenger. The man had just finished delivering a message from Albrecht's cousin, Leopold, who was quite reasonably upset at losing most of his power. It had only been four years since his coronation, but the Duke had already taken drastic measures to remove the majority of the nobles' advantages over him.

The messenger made an odd face, as if he couldn't decide whether he should be disappointed or confused. Eventually the boy just sighed and walked out of the room, his footsteps making loud noises against the stone flooring.

“What's gotten into you?” asked the young woman to his right. She had been one of the ladies who came up to him at the coronation. They had been married last year, but already she seemed like the only one he could trust. They were all plotting against him! Every single one! Even Leopold, who was supposed to rule Austria equally with Albrecht. “Nothing. I'm just responding to their treason in kind.”

“Oh, come now. Do you have any evidence of treason?”

“Yes,” he replied, turning to put all of his attention on her. At first she seemed to wilt under his gaze, but in a few seconds Danielle sat straight up again. “I don't think your hunches make them deserve what you've done..” she said calmly, regarding Albrecht with those cool, serene blue eyes.

“I've done nothing to them unjustly! I'm just curbing their power to stop them from attacking me like they will.”

She sighed, shaking her head. “Of course. You must secure your power as Duke, after all,”

“Yes! Of course I must. Danielle, I'm so glad you finally understand,” he said, smiling. It was worrying, the path he was taking. However, he was a capable ruler. Just a bit paranoid, that was all. Still, it was quite obvious that the nation had been severely destabilized by his actions in attempting to centralize the government. They would need to divert more funds to keeping the peace in Austria, that was all.
 

Ashantai

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I just got to reading this.

A fantastic narrative so far, and wonderful modern descriptions. I am very impressed, and shall follow this closely!
 

Avindian

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Maybe I'm a dunce, or it's really late (probably both ;)), but what country are you? Austria?
 

gela1212

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Chapter 3 - Breathe

2026

Once again, Sivus was surrounded by darkness. Awaking groggily, he grabbed at his eyes, trying to feel for a blindfold. It wasn't there. Wherever he was, it was completely black inside. A quick glance around showed that he could see the outlines of a few objects. Sitting up, he started to stretch when he heard a deep voice boom from the left.

“Hello, Sivus.”

Startled, he jumped up on his feet, only to hit his head on a low metal ceiling. “Where am I?” he called out to the voice in French, knowing that whoever it was most likely would have been banned from learning any Slavic languages beyond a few words of Russian.

“You are where you need to be.” replied the voice, calmly. That made absolutely no sense at all, nor was it anywhere near approaching helpful. Where he needed to be was in Moscow, where his family had moved after the last war. Well, it was actually possible that that was where he was. Who knew if he was still in the hands of the Empire or not? “Russia, then?” Sivus asked optimistically.

“No. You are still west of the Kievan Divide.”

Sivus sighed. The Kievan Divide was where true Imperial authority ended and Russia began to reign, even if its actual border wasn't for a good distance beyond. Many considered the Divide to be the “true” border, and the majority of maps specially marked the region that was part of the Empire but essentially under permanent military occupation by the Posadnik's army.

All of a sudden, the wall on the right began to slide up with a grinding sound. “You could've at least given me some warning!” Sivus shouted as he jumped backwards. The light filtering in from outside illuminated the room clearly now. What he had thought of as some kind of holding cell or building was actually a large vehicle, and the wall was actually the entrance to the cargo bay.

Just as he was beginning to settle into this surprising new reality, two men armed with blades stormed in. Sivus, annoyed, jumped back further, only to slam into another wall. They just wouldn't let him wake up in peace for once! As he recovered from the impact, the man noticed that the two storming the vehicle had slowed, and one was pointing a blade at him.

The other got out some kind of binding device; it looked like some kind of handcuffs, but there was no discernible place where they would detach. Still, it was quite obvious they were planning on using the device as a restraint, most likely to escort Sivus out of the truck.

The guard holding the blade glared at his partner, though. Without warning, he rose the odd polearm and swung it down with bitter hatred. Sivus didn't know why, but for some reason his body felt compelled to move to the side and grab onto the weapon's handle just a bit above the man's hands. With his wrist, the Belorussian slammed the handle, forcing it free of the guard's hands.

His arm rose to strike, and the guard looked terrified. Then, shaking his head, Sivus looked in wonder at his arm. How had he done that? He'd never been trained to fight before in his life, let alone in such advanced hand-to-hand tactics. With a grunt, he turned his attention back to the guard. Though the face the other man was making made the moment sweeter than saccharine, Sivus tossed the weapon to the guard holding the binding device. He seemed the more reasonable of the two.

The once-assailant put on a face of shock, surprised that this young slave had just managed to block the blow from his blade. Then, with a vengeful grunt, he slammed the back of his hand into the boy's face. “Don't screw with me kid! You just about cut yourself.”

Laughing, he took the restraints from his partner and placed them over the easterner's wrists. Slowly but surely they took on the appearance of dissolving into the skin, becoming invisible while still holding Sivus' arms in place.

As they walked out, the man Sivus had tossed the blade to whispered quietly. “My name is Leon,” he said before scurrying off, weapon in hand. The other guard escorted Sivus to a pair of large steel doors, then left as well.

“Wait, what do I do now?” he asked loudly, hoping someone would at least lead him inside. He couldn't open the door with his hands, considering they were bound. A precise look over the scene led him to a small blue button on the wall beside the door. Jumping up, he twisted his body to kick the button. The doors slid open smoothly, and Sivus walked inside, a blast of cold air rocking him as he began to feel the air conditioning.