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Cyrus_The_Great

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Sweden
1869​


Illuminated by moonlight, the nine riders moved quickly and intently up the snow covered hill. Upon reaching the hill’s crest, they briefly paused to look at the little conglomeration of lights called Högvålen, before once again riding with speed towards the town. The man at the lead, dressed in a large overcoat and ushanka, pointed to a stalwart cluster of pines about 300 meters from the small town. “We dismount there” he said, and the men all dismounted and tied their horses to the trees.

The leader once again pulled out a small map, glanced at it, glanced at the town, and then pointed towards a large, thatch roof building with smoke billowing out from several chimneys. The men entered the town, and with the exception of several horses, all near the building which was now identifiable as an inn, the streets were deserted.

The group then filed towards the door, and with his fingers, the leader counted to three. One man rammed into the door, knocking it down, as another fired several shots in. A man who had been sitting near the door holding a rifle slumped forward, bleeding out of his chest and stomach. The men ignored him, and poured into the room, where one man was cowering behind a bar, and another group of men sat stunned, seated around a table.

“Hands up!” shouted the leader in Swedish. Most of the men complied, while one, who had reached for a pistol, was quickly wounded in the hand. “Hands up,” he repeated, to which everyone, except the dyeing man, complied. “I am Investigator Nikolai Vladimirovich Dolgorukov of the Third Section of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Chancellery. You are all under arrest by imperial order for charges of conspiracy against the Czar and Empire of Russia. You are not to speak, and are to follow orders.” Nikolai then lit a pipe as another officer began to shackle the Swedes.

Nikolai looked around. An old Swedish flag hung from a wall, and the table was covered in papers. It seemed as if they were documents for some sort of plot to attack the Imperial Headquarters in Stockholm. “These Swedes all deserve death” he muttered to himself in Russian, looking through the papers and maps.

Nikolai then approached the Nationalists, now shackled and on the floor. “A cart is coming to take you away. Your trials will be tomorrow in Stockholm. I wish to know what exactly you planned to do.”

None of the prisoners spoke. “Your fates are sealed, and we will find out everything. Now what exactly did you wish to do!”

One of them burst out, “kill Russians! Kill many of you, …you, you Bastard!” Nikolai kicked the kneeling man in the face, “You will address me as sir! Now how exactly did you plan to do that?”

Another stated, “we were to conceal bombs.”

“How predictable. Do you really think you are the first to attempt to attack Russia by, ‘concealing bombs?’ I will tell you from experience, your nationalist attacks never work and never will work! Just like all the other races who have been absorbed by our superiority, yours shall fall into subservience. Although one day, if you Swedes should be loyal, you may even earn the right to be called Russian.”

Nikolai resumed his pacing, but the first Swede, still enraged, spat on him. The investigator slowly turned around, before pulling out his pistol, and shooting the man in the side. In Russian, he told his officers, “make sure none of them speak”, before pouring himself a glass of vodka and sitting down.


Budapest​


Antal Hegedus, on his usual route home from the steel mill, turned the corner onto Baiza Street, before quickly stopping. The street, home to the Russian Embassy to the Empire of Hungary, was filled with angry people. Further down the street, he could see a Russian flag on fire, and nearly everyone towards the center of the mass was yelling. Looking around, Antal asked, “What’s this all about?”

One man replied, “rumor has it that Russia is threatening war over something. Those bastards want to eat the whole world up.”
Sure enough, the crowd began to chant “we won’t bend!” and then various national slogans, many of which came from the war of independence of 1848. Antal stayed and watched for a while, but soon felt himself getting sucked into the mob, and knowing that he needed to return to his home soon, turned around and took an alternate route.

When he entered his small home near the river, his parents, grandfather, and younger sisters and brothers were all seated around the table waiting. “What’s kept you? I’m hungry,” his father inquired.

“Some demonstration at Baiza,” Antal said, sitting at the small wooden table. Their house was small and crowded, but always had a cozy aura. Both his father and he worked at the Steel Mill, although his father had a much earlier shift.

As Antal’s mother began to dish out the paprika spiced stew, his Grandfather, almost 80, asked, “what were they demonstrating about?”

“A man told me that they were angry about a Russia threat of war towards us.”

“Those Russians think they can boss around the whole damned continent,” Antal’s father responded.

“They will take the whole damned continent one day,” the old man, normally silent, responded. “That is, unless those French revolutionaries take it first.”

“Father, your wrong. The time of conquest like that is long over. This isn’t the Napoleonic era any more.”

“You son, you grew up in a time of unification and victory. That trend doesn’t last, never has and never will.” Then facing Antal, and Antal’s younger brothers, the old man said, “you. You are going to be living in a harsh world.”

As this sunk in, Antal asked, “so Grandpa. You think the French Revolution is going to succeed?”

“I’d say it already has. They just have to finish the job.”


Antal woke early the next morning, a Sunday, and after grabbing a piece of bread, decided to buy a Newspaper, seeing that he had several hours before mass. The morning was his favorite time of day, the city was always so quiet, and the rising sun cast orange light across the century old buildings. A small crowd was gathered around the Newspaper boy, who was yelling, “Russia Threatens War if Romanians Not Given Independence!”

Antal bought one, trying to make sense of the preposterous sounding title. After sitting on a curb and reading, he figured out that Russia was threatening war within a week if the “Orthodox Romanians living under Hungarian autocracy” were not given independence “from Hungarian Rule”. The same message had been sent to the Ottoman Empire, which controlled areas with Romanians as well. The Czar, Alexander II, was quoted from a speech as saying, “For far too long, our Orthodox brothers in Romania have been suppressed by Catholic and Muslim autocracy. Russia, feeling the religious duty of protector of the Orthodox Church, has called for the peaceful deliverance of Romanians from oppression. Should this call be ignored, Russia will be forced to declare war.”

“Deliverance from oppression”, Antal thought, most likely meant oppression by Russia. As he contemplated the matter, he realized that war was coming, and he then sprinted home.
 

Cyrus_The_Great

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Hello everyone, I am back at writing!

I have been thinking about this AAR for about a month now and have finally set pen to paper. I am hoping you find my writing style more mature than you may have previously observed. This AAR will be written as a narrative in the style of Turtledove, in the sense that a picture of the world will be painted through the stories of many different characters.

IF you should have a perspective or character you feel would have an interesting story in this world, then feel free to suggest him or her to me. Anyways, I hope all of you enjoy!
 
Last edited:

Velendesril

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I love your writing style! I think you pull off the mood well, and if I may be so bold, may I suggest that you portray events from the eyes of a Russian as well, or even better, give us some sort of overview, since it is rather confusing as to what is happening at the moment.
 

phargle

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Bloody Russians. Hail to the Swedish patriots. May Russia be ground down by them and be flattened on the Magyar plains!

What went wrong? Revolution in France, a far left one by the sounds of it, and a Russia triumphant in eastern Europe? And what other races are lorded over by the tsar?
 

Jingles

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Looking good! The photos add a nice touch. I particularly enjoy your style.
 

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This is a great start. The world situation sounds ominous and Nikolai appears to be a real piece of work. I look forward to seeing more of him.
 

volksmarschall

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A Swedish AAR, Great!

Great writing btw. I'll be reading along.

-Good luck!
 

Cyrus_The_Great

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Velendesril: Thanks, that goes much appreciated. As far as your suggestions go; I am definitely planning on having several Russian characters, (one of whom I believe will appear in the next update, if not the one after that.) Regarding clarity of the global situation, I was sort of hoping to gradually reveal the state of the continent. So far one should have recognized that Russia has conquered Sweden, and that Hungary is independent of Austria, (the war of independence was mentioned). Regardless, I am glad to have you along. However, now that I think about it, a map won't hurt. I think that after a few updates, one will be included.

Phargle: Thanks, it is an honor to have a writer of such high caliber reading. Soon some of your questions and predictions will be answered.

Jingles: Thank you, I will be sure to include photos in the future updates.

Lord Durham: I am very glad to have received a compliment from an author as renown as yourself. I am equally glad to hear that I conveyed the tone of the situation as being ominous, as that is what I was hoping. I hope you enjoy!

Volksmarschall: I hope I don't disappoint, but this AAR will not be focused on Sweden, more on Russia, its allies, its enemies, and France. The first update just happens to take place in Sweden to show how it is controlled by Russia.

I hope to get another update out around Wednesday. I would also like to know what you thought about the length of the update, and if longer ones would be any hinderance.


EDIT: Update will be released thursday or friday, I am busier than I had expected today and will not have time for the editing I generally like to carry out.
 
Last edited:

Jingles

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Cyrus_The_Great said:
I hope to get another update out around Wednesday. I would also like to know what you thought about the length of the update, and if longer ones would be any hinderance.

Personally, I have no complaints at all about the length of the update. The text was nicely broken up with spaces in a good format, and like I mentioned before the photos really help keep the excitement up. No matter how good an AAR is, if it is all one big chunky paragraph of text with nothing else, I cannot enjoy it as much as I normally would.

So, assuming you keep to your current format, a longer update would not be any hindrance at all to me as a reader.

Keep it up, I look forward to your next update. I realize I didn't mention it before, but I'm subscribed :)
 

robou

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Beutiful writing there. The story seems set to be a good one. Dolgorukov seems a nasty enough character for me to like immensely. It also seems that it is Antal and his kind that will suffer from Russian militarism. Obviously the world is not quite as we remember it, but that always gives so much flavour. Looking forward to this a lot. Keep up the good work! ;)
 

Cyrus_The_Great

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Jingles: Thanks for the feedback Jingles. I try to break up the text, I too, hate when it is a giant block. I hope you enjoy!

Robou: Excellent to have you along, and thank you for the compliments. I hope you enjoy this update.

And for all of you war hungry people, war will break out soon, so don't fret!
 

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Saint Petersburg, Russia​

Thousands of cheers welcomed General Eduard Ivanovich Totleben as he paraded down the streets, dressed in his extremely ornate and medal clad uniform, as he led hundreds of dragoons down the large boulevard. Thousands imperial flags and banners fluttered in the wind, helping to fuel the nationalism already burning throughout the crowd. As Totleben rode onward, a mixture of awe and pride prevented him from holding back a smile.

Guards soon began to part the crowd as the parade made its way to Palace Square, where a large stage had been set up. After making his way to the stage, Totleben dismounted from his horse, and strode up towards the center, every step as regal as the last. The stage, along with the rest of the ceremony, had been meticulously planned in such a way that it would evoke nationalism. Large banners featuring the imperial crest hung from the walls, which themselves were lined with the royal guard, and a mural in the back revealed Cossacks stampeding through a field as the sun rose.

Totleben took in the large crowd, and then began his much rehearsed speech by holding his fist up and crying out, “Countrymen!”
More cheers followed, and it took the guards several minutes to once again quite down the crowd. Once this was done he continued, “all of you are living throughout the most glorious time in the history of the world! It is now, in your lifetimes, that you will be able to partake in a part of the greatest conquest that the world will ever see!”

Once again, the guards dispatched throughout the square had to work hard to silence the pride filled crowd, as Totleben could only project his voice a certain distance. Once the conditions were quiet enough, Totleben continued, “Just as we have conquered countless other peoples, soon we will plunge into the heart of Europe, into the land of the Hungarians and of the Heathen Turk! Our race shall conquer all, and we shall see victory. These nations, along with their English allies, the most arrogant of nations, will soon be crushed and humiliated before the Russian bear! Together, with our God-graced Czar, we will bask in victory! A unified Russia has never lost a war, and we will never lose a war! Countrymen, prepare for glory!” At that, Totleben rose a sword, and the crowd exploded into cheers. He then exited the stage as another official rose to motivate the crowd.


The Next Day​

“And what of India?” asked Major General Gourko.

“I still think it impossible to hold major operations there” insisted Totleben. Those mountains would cost us far too many men.”

At that, Major General Mikhail Skobelev, one of the most revered men in the room, stood up. A brilliant young man, he had been instrumental in the victory at the Siege of Stockholm. And now, he seemed ready to lead his troops on an even more daring mission. “I assure, you, that given enough troops, I can lead us into the land of the Pakistanis and Indians. Once we are past the mountains, the ill defended place will quickly fall.”

“This is crazy” added General Lazarev. “You think that in the highest mountains of the world, we can pull off a successful offensive?”

“Yes” replied Skobelev cooly. “You think that the Indian troops occupy the tops of mountains normally? They will be more unprepared than us. You think Indians are as accustomed to the cold as one who lives throughout the Russian winter?”

“Do you have any plans?” inquired Totleben.

“Yes actually,” replied Skobelev as he took out a folder. “You see, our railroad reaches near India as it is. We could deploy troops to the region very quickly. Scouts in the area tell us of minimal defenses. There are several potential systems of passes that could work.”

“And what of logistics? Is that accounted for, couldn’t you be cut off very easily?”

“We would flush out resistance and have a chain supply convoys. The valleys and villages should sustain the troops, however. As I said, there is a system of passes.”
“As of now” Totleben responded, “and I mean no disrespect when I say this, I disapprove, as I believe many of the other Generals here do.” Many nodded. “However, I believe in you as a General, and propose that we research the subject and meet back in two days. We don’t have much time, but this could be one of the greatest military successes in the history of the world if pulled off. I think it would be beneficial if you prepared more of a report, Skobelev.”

“Thank you General.”

“We will bring the issue up once more in two days.”

And thus, in two days, it was decided that 150,000 men would be deployed under the command of General Skobelev to the Indian front.





Saint Pierre De Chandieu, France​

Jacques Merlin could see the small, abandoned farmhouse under the bright light of the moon. To anyone else, excluding the artist, Merlin thought, that building would have been ignored. However, he was not “anyone else”, and so approached it, and tapped on the door three times as instructed. A tall man dressed in a burgundy military uniform opened the door, and said “ahhh….Citizen Merlin. How do you do?”

“As does the revolution,” replied Merlin, reciting the password. At that, the man opened the door and instructed, “your fellows are in the meeting room. You are lucky, Citizen Blanqui hasn’t yet arrived.” Merlin nodded and then proceeded through the soldier filled room to the ladder that led into the basement. In the dim light he made out the other officers of the region, all of whom knew as little about his identity as he did about theirs. It is for the better, he thought. It would prevent any leaks from ruining the whole operation.

He took a seat in the dimly lit room, making out only the shadowy figures and the revolutionary flags hanging from the wall. No one spoke, and they remained in silence for another ten minutes as several more officers arrived. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of anxious waiting, Citizen Musar, who had greeted Merlin at the door, came into the small room and said, “Citizens. I would like to introduce to you, Citizen Louis Auguste Blanqui!”

Everyone clapped as the bearded but proud looking man entered the room, also in the standard burgundy suit of the Armeé Rouge. Blanqui, who had been the mastermind of the revolution in the north, and whose books contained knowledge that an officer required, now stood before the group of several dozen men.
“Citizens. It is my absolute pleasure to be here” began Blanqui, smiling. “Before we start this important but brief meeting, I would like to inform you that the Siege of Langres has ended, and our revolutionary forces have secured the city!”

Everyone once again applauded and cheered, as officers who barely knew each other patted one another on the back. As Merlin cheered, he realized how excellent this news really was. Both the Revolutionary Forces and the Army of the Empire were pouring the majority of their forces towards that town, success of the revolutionary forces there marked a great victory.

“And all of you, soon, will be doing the same thing in Lyon” continued Blanqui. “The time has finally come for us to liberate this city’s inhabitants, and so, in two days, we will attack. You will all receive plans after this meeting, and I urge you, as the leaders of your local revolutionary chapters, to summon your soldiers immediately and review plans. You, my brothers, you are the future! Your hard work and training will finally shine through, as you free the worker from his chains! Long is the night which never sees the day, but I tell you, the day shall come, and it shall be one like no other ever before. For the first time in the history of the world, the workers shall be freed, and you will be their liberators!”

Everyone broke into applause, and Merlin stood up, clapping. Blanqui thanked everyone, shook hands, and left as quickly as he had come. As Merlin filed out, it began to dawn on him that he would be leading a cause like none before. It was no longer him attempting to hold France against Prussians, or any imperial war. He, conversely, would be part of the first war ever that would truly be for the betterment of mankind. As he approached his home village several miles away to the east, thinking of all this, he marveled at the sun, now beginning to rise over the small town.
 
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Jingles

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Great update. Your characterization of the revolutionary meeting in France was excellent. The circumstances seemed very realistic, given the time period.

Also, it appears the Russians are soon going to have quite a mountainous experience, what with the need to cross both the Himalayas and the Carpathians.

So the revolution in France is of a socialist/communist nature? Interesting. I take it the title "Citizen" is similar to that of "Comrade".

I wonder what the Prussians will think of having an extremely belligerent Russia in the East and another revolutionary France in the West.
 

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Armée Rouge? Must be communists. So a Red France, that should spice up any competition in Europe, certainly. And the Russians are preparing for all out war on, as it sounds, almost everyone. The world is witnessing a lot of change in a small amount of time...
 

phargle

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Never lost a war. . one wonders if that is rhetoric, or if Crimea turned out better for the Russians. That might put Russian troops on the Adriatic, which makes sense, considering the talk of Hungary and arrogant Brits.

I love the shift in tone between the speech-giving and the war-planning. I also dig significantly-named characters. Citizen Merlin indeed!
 

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Jingles: Thank you, I tried pretty hard to make everything seem realistic and am glad that you noticed. With regards to the citizen title; you are right, it is supposed to be a form of comrade. I had remembered hearing somewhere that in the historic French Revolution, that was the title people were supposed to call each other by, and you will see this revolution borrows several aspects from the earlier one.

Robou: Yeah, the already messed up political balance of the world is soon going to get even more messed up. And yes, it is indeed a communist revolution.

Phargle: Thanks for the praise with regard to the tone shift, I thought the contrast would add to the writing and am glad you picked up on it. Also, you will find out a little about how the Crimean War turned out in the next update.

Also, to anyone who is interested, Blanqui was an actual revolutionary socialist in the 19th century, and I am trying to replicate many of his methods and beliefs in this story. So if you are interested, you can look him up.
 

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
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Nice historical narrative!

Love it!

Shall the monarchies of central europe stand against yet another revolution and an overwhelming eastern horde...
An early world war one, or just some political game? :D
 

Lord Durham

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I found the strategy session for the proposed invasion of India to be quite interesting. Does India really suspect nothing?
 

Cyrus_The_Great

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Everyone, I apologize for the lack of updates over the past several weeks. I hope this hasn't deterred anyone from following in any way. I was very busy with school, but have a break now, and am going to type a significant amount during this span in order to insure that there are constant updates for the next month.

Lord Durham:Well, there aren't many troops along the border with India or Pakistan, on their part anyways. I suppose they just aren't expecting the major offensive there that they are going to receive. I am glad you found it interesting, however.

Enewald: Thank you :) You will have to see, although I will warn you, it is shaping up to be an early World War I of sorts.

Now the following update is sort of comical, and a tribute to some of my favorite scenes in the works of Gogol. I hope no one minds it. Within several days, the final character of this work, a Brit, will be introduced, and we will return to our Hungarian friend as well. (Normally each update will have two characters featured, this is the exception. This update turned out to be longer than expected.) Also, the updates will all have a much more serious tone for a long amount of time.
 
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Cyrus_The_Great

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Somewhere In The Middle of Russia​


Colonel von Studnitz gazed out the window as the muddy fields and small, whitewashed villages of Russia flew by. After staring for what seemed like a long time, the train began to slow down, and he returned his gaze to the mahogany coated car that served as a transport for Russian Officers.

He had protested the General Staff’s decision for him to observe the mountain warfare of the Afghan front, but they had remained firm, stating the importance of knowing how a modern war would be fought in some of the world’s coldest and mountainous conditions. Studnitz had found this slightly absurd, as unless Germany was to one day reach the Urals or invade Italy, this really wouldn’t be needed. But nonetheless, the train was in some foreign, small town, and it was in this strange environment that he would remain for an indefinite amount of time.

An aid came up to him and in Russian said, “welcome to Aktumsyk. We will be here until tomorrow morning.” Then, handing the Prussian a paper, he said, “we have made accommodations for you at the town hotel, but you are free to do as you please; we would only request that you return here by 10 tomorrow morning.”

“Thank you,” Studnitz replied in heavily accented Russian as the aid waited for him to put on his coat. He rose and began to exit the train, trying to ignore the hostile stares of the Russian officers he was traveling with.

Stepping outside, the cold pinched at his every nerve. Wind ripped through the town’s small streets and out over the plains in the distance. Studnitz had never seen a land so barren and desolate. Looking ahead, a small, two story building was marked “Inn”, and he hustled to enter it while most of the soldiers and officers on the train began filing out to various shops and stalls.

The bottom floor of the inn did not have many people in it, with most of them conglomerating around various tables, all of which looked far too small. It was warm however, and the smell was more welcoming than the Prussian would have predicted. After visiting his room, he came back down the stairs, only now noticing the stares of the locals. One of them however, in horrid German, beckoned, “come to sit here. Why not talk?”

Studnitz smiled, glad to converse with someone, and headed over to the table where the man sat alone. The man, whose outfit was indisputably unfashionable but expensive nonetheless, reminded Studnitz of a chipmunk.

After shaking the man’s hand, Studnitz began in Russian, “I am Colonel Von Studnitz, from Berlin. I understand Russian quite well so we can speak that if you would like.”

“Excellent, excellent, I would like that. My name is Andrei Chinikov. Oh!” he said, pointing to the waiter, “allow me to order for you. We would both like Rabbit Stew, and fish, and a bottle of Vodka.”

“Your usual Vodka?”

“Oh…no, no! Not homebrew! Bring some that’s imported from Petersburg.” Facing Studnitz, he continued, “Sorry about that, I don’t know what she’s thinking, trying to bring me the crap they make here.”

Studnitz smiled. “So I presume you come here a lot. You live nearby?”

“Yes, yes. My estate is close to town, very close. You know, everyone in this town used be mine before they abolished serfdom.”

“Impressive. What do you do now?”

“Oh…ehh. I, I invest in business ventures quite often. Couldn’t do that during serfdom I guess, economy is doing great.”

“Yes, some Germans are quite alarmed by your industrialization.”

“Yeah. Well most people in this country will do any job, and working in a factory seems great to them. Ahh. Here’s our food.” At that, Chinikov poured both of them a shot of vodka and said, “to my new friend.”

They had a merry time, drinking and eating, and drinking. Some time during this meal it was decided that Studnitz would visit Chinikov’s house and spend the night. And so, the two men got into the Russian’s carriage and set off.

The cold air sobered Studnitz up a bit, and in the middle of this ride, he realized that the estate wasn’t close to the town, not at all. In fact, it began to rain, and it wasn’t for another three miserable hours that the “Estate” came into site.

Now this estate could have been a very nice estate some time ago, but now, it seemed like it hadn’t been painted for years, the garden was overgrown, and abandoned huts and shacks dotted the surrounding area. Regardless, Studnitz acted courteous and was more than pleased to come inside.

They were in a rather large hall, and the inside was dusty, but still very impressive. Trophies mounted the walls, and an exotic looking carpet coated the floor. “It’s from Baluchistan, that is where the best rugs are from,” Chinikov had commented. He then yelled, “Woman! I am home! We have guests, and we are hungry!”

A brunette came down the stairs, and seeing Studnitz, smiled. She was probably in her midthirties, and was quite attractive. “A pleasure to meet you,” the Prussian said, kissing her hand. She blushed, and then said, “as it is to meet you. We don’t see foreigners much. Dinner will be ready in twenty minutes, I apologize.”

“No, no. Not at all,” commented Studnitz before Chinikov barked, “it better be twenty minutes!” Then, facing Studnitz, he said, “I apologize for her incompetence. But come, I will show you my pipes.” He then led his new friend to a large room which had walls adorned with pipes of all shapes and sizes. “Sit down while I get us something to drink, you can pick a pipe out.”

“I don’t smoke, I don’t mind it, but I mean, I never picked up the habit.”

“No, don’t be silly. I expect you to have a pipe by the time I get back. Oh, how good it is to have someone educated to talk to.”

Studnitz was really at a loss, but decided he would ask to just drink. So when Chinikov returned with a bottle of a yellow brownish liquid, he was finally able to convince the Russian to only drink, which may have been a bad choice.

“You like it?”

After forcing himself to swallow, Studnitz answered, “yes, it is…it is pungent!”

“Great, we will have another bottle later. Now how about some cards?”

“Friend, I would love to but I’m not much of a gambler.”

“Oh, come on, friend. Here, I will gamble my pipes, you can gamble some money.”

“No, I insist, I don’t gamble.”

“Okay, dice then. I will get the dice.”

“Well, dice is gambling too. And I’m not much of a- “

“So would you rather do cards or dice, or, I know, Checkers! You would love to play checkers!”

Frustrated, Studnitz said, “fine, fine. We will play checkers, I will just gamble money though.”

“Okay, and I money and the pipes.”

“But I don’t want any pipes!”

“Fine, fine. How about liquor?”

“Fine, money and liquor.”

“…and pipes?”

Even more frustrated, Studnitz realized resisting was useless and agreed. They set up, but after several moves, Chinikov was dropping one Checker from his sleeve, moving two others and simultaneously jumping two of Studnitz’s, while placing another Checker that came from yet another mysterious location.

“I see you! You are cheating!”

“I wouldn’t cheat. Never would I cheat!”

“Friend, you are!”

“That is a lie. This is a game of skill!”

“Here. I think you are cheating, but why don’t we just see if dinner is ready?”

“Okay, okay. But I don’t cheat!”

They sat around the dining room table: Studnitz, Chinikov, his wife, and his two children. “These are my children. They are named Temujin and Attila.” Studnitz thought these were both quite goofy names for children, but disregarded it. “They are both very intelligent. Temujin, tell me the capital of Germany.” The boy stared blankly for a minute, then said, “Berlin.”

“Excellent. You see, he is very bright. Now Attila, who vanquished the British at Sevastpol?”

“Totleben.”

Chinikov beamed, “very bright.”

“Indeed he is. By the way, this fish is excellent!”

“Thank you, your very sweet,” replied Chinikov’s wife, smiling.

“I bought our family this fish from Baku. It is very exquisite.” He then turned to Temujin, “Hey!”

Temujin had began to bite his brother’s ear, and his brother, not wishing to scream, was biting his lip wincing. “What did I tell you about biting his ear.
Out! Out!”

Temujin left, but after that, the dinner was excellent. On a full stomach, Studnitz was more than delighted to go to bed.


About an hour later, however, he woke to a hand rubbing his forehead. A female voice said, “darling, you are awake.” It was Chinikov’s wife. “Be silent, we must escape together, my love.”

Studnitz was rather confused. Rubbing his eyes, he looked around. Chinikov’s wife was laying next to him on the bed, leaning on one arm. “Ummm…” he began startled, I really don’t know what this is about but I can’t; you are lovely and all, but I can’t. I have a job to do, a train to catch tomorrow.”

“Oh,” she said, pressing against him. “But I am in love. We can live our lives together! We can escape this man! Until dawn, we will hide in a peasant hut. A few are still furnished. I have packed already.”

“Well…why don’t we talk about this tomorrow. You are very attractive and all, but just, now is not a good time. We will talk tomorrow.”

“Very well, my love.” At that, she kissed him and walked away. Studnitz pinched himself before trying to fall back to sleep.