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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

coz1

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Indeed, Bjorn is a tough one to deal with his injuries untreated for so long.
 

Storey

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That was very good advice Bjorn gave Annas about becoming a warrior.




“He wants to know when you got this: more than a week?”

“Several months actually.”


I think if Bjorn has survived this long then he shouldn’t worry about losing his arm. Maybe the Doctor is trying to put a little fear in him so that he will donate a little more money to the hospital than he would if it were a minor wound. Hey what can I say, I’m a cynic. ;)

Joe
 

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Nil-The-Frogg said:
I have an observation to submit though... Translating appears to be an interesting exercise because I’m forced to reread my instalments in-depth. For instance, I’m currently translating chapter 5 and have noticed something. This is supposed to be a tale by the baron, right? Well, in spite of what I intended, I found myself telling part of it in history-book style, which pretty much spoil the thing. Could have been interesting to stick strictly to his own view on the spot: would have made the tale more vivid and perhaps more detailed (and probably longer)…

There's nothing wrong with it. It starts out in a very personal style of an old man remembering a battle fought many years ago but because he is telling a story about the whole battle it has to become a little less personal in order to take in the entire scope of the battle. Since you continued to sprinkle first person narrative throughout the chapter I thought it worked just fine. And yes it would be quite a bit longer to keep to "his own view on the spot", which makes the way you wrote it a good compromise.
:cool:

Joe
 

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Hi, ladies and gentlemen. I don't know if an update is expected or not, but it will have to wait, I'm afraid. I have til the end of this week to make decisions that will likely have a major impact on the rest of my life. So, you can tell I've not my mind to writing at the moment. I promise an update and answers to your comments ASAP once my fate has been sealed, so to speak.

3 updates are already underway though. :cool:
 

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Duke of Wellington: You're right, but OTOH, Arab medicine of that time was quite impressive. They even managed to achieve successful surgery on eyes (like curing catarct IIRC).
They would have made a very curious bunch the three of them headed for the physician.
I'm glad you noticed. I had great fun imagining this and meant it as a metaphor too. :)

coz1: Not completely untreated. Bjorn is a seasoned veteran and he knows a wound must be clean and periodically bandaged. Not nearly enough, but still... But of course, yes, he's tough.

Storey: Cynic? What's that? :confused: A synonym for realistic? :D Thanks for your advice. You made a bunch of good points here. I still have to try this first person point of view thoroughly one day though, just for the sake of trying it.

All: I wanted to end the chapter with this post, but there will be two of them because it was too long and also because I am not in the mood for polishing a big update (as explained in above post).
 

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#14d


Alexandria: September, 1420 (continued)


Marzuq leaded Bjorn to a couch along a wall and made him recline. The physician called one of his assistants who brought him an ornate wooden box. Marzuq delicately opened it. Half of it was filled with an impressive array of metallic instruments of various shapes and sizes, most of them having one or several blades. The other half contained small glass and clay jars as well as a small gnawed wooden board. He handed the piece of wood to the Vicking and gave him unintelligible instructions. Bjorn understood what he had to do though and placed the plank in his mouth, where he could bite it at leisure. The assistant quickly came back again with a little brazier and a pot of boiling water.

Marzuq took a piece of cloth, quickly dipped it in the boiling water, grabbed one of the bladed instruments and briefly exposed it to the flame. After that, he bent over Bjorn and masterfully incised the suppurating wound. It was painful already, but still nothing in comparison with what was to come. The doctor enlarged the sore, put his scalpel away and began to rub inside with the smoking towel. Bjorn bit like a demented. A nauseating mixture of blood and pus flowed down his arm. Marzuq insisted until he could see only blood. Finally satisfied, he threw the spoiled cloth, opened one of his jars, poured some green-brown powder in his palm and slowly mixed it with hot water to obtain a supple paste he applied in the bleeding wound. That done, he unfolded a strip of white cloth and neatly bandaged the arm.


hospital1ze2.jpg


Bjorn kept his eyes closed for a moment, staring at the multicolored will-o’-the-wisp dancing in the dark. Marzuq was speaking to him, but he had to wait for Petronos’ translation, which came in a whisper.

“He says you will keep the scar forever. Your arm won’t completely recover either. Finally, you will need further care in the weeks to come. How long do you intend to stay?”

The Viking released the wooden piece from his jaws. He swallowed, which partly eliminated the sawdust taste on his tongue.

“I don’t know yet. But I will need your help again within a few minutes. Could you please thank the physician for me?”

Time to rise again. He tried not to lean on his left arm, but the pain forced the tears out of him nonetheless. Ahmed took his hand to help him on his feet, but the carriage wheeled forward and nearly sent Bjorn over the couch. They remained in precarious equilibrium for a few seconds, much like a weird looking mobile, until Bjorn managed to slowly restore his stand.

“Ah… m’o’ahii’hommmhh…” Ahmed said, showing his confusion.

“What does he say?”

Petronos shook his head.

“I don’t know any better than you. Thugs have cut his tongue a few years ago.”

“Oh, okay. Never mind. Tell him I’m not upset and know he just wanted to help.”

Ahmed smiled brightly, displaying his brown stumps. But Bjorn still had something at the top of his head:

“Now, do you know if there is a Christian preacher in this hospital, one coming from Croatia, in the Balkans?”

“The Balkans?”

“Rum.”

Petronos thought a while and asked:

“What's his name?”

Bjorn was reluctant to reveal such details, but he would achieve nothing on his own.

“Tzourillas.”

“Give me a minute. If he's here, I'll find him.”

He asked Ahmed a few questions and the both of them went, the legless crippled furiously slapping the blind's flanks to give him directions. They met several groups of people and came back to Bjorn, who was beginning to worry as his presence and the name of his contact were getting known throughout the hospice. Finally, they came back to him.

“It's an old guy sleeping on a bench in the southeastern corner of this court.”

He was approximately pointing toward a passageway. Bjorn nodded with a smile before realizing that the other one could not see him.

“Thanks. Your help has been much appreciated. I don't know which god you worship, but may his blessing be upon you.”

Petronos shrugged.

“See, we have to help each others. Don't hesitate to ask if you need me. I'm always around.”

Bjorn stepped into the other court and followed the peristyle to the specified place. The old preacher was lying on a crude stony bench, mouth and eyes shut. His waxy face looked like it was dead, with only the moving shadows of the foliage to bring life in this still expression. Bjorn sat on his side. Looking carefully, he finally noticed the breast slightly moving with inspirations and expirations. He waited a few minutes. At long last, he whispered:

“Mister Tzourillas?”

The old man jolted and emitted a faint shriek. His right eye opened, allowing his washed out pupil to twirl around until it spotted Bjorn. He obviously had difficulties to focus and probably saw his interlocutor more or the less as an indistinct shape. He relaxed and closed his eye back. The left half of his face was paralyzed and looked like a flaccid piece of cloth embedding his skull. He murmured a question in what Bjorn recognized as Latin strongly tainted by a Slavic accent.

“I don’t understand Latin, old man, but I guess you inquired about my identity. My name is Bjorn Zonaras and I am the Emperor’s personal hatchet man.”

The preacher sighed.

“Don’t bother killing me then. I’ve been seized by a stroke and my days are numbered in spite of the good doctors’ attention.”

Bjorn had a kind smile.

“I’m not here to kill you, only to deliver a message.”

“From the Emperor?”

“I’m not sure, but I would say either him or the Patriarch of Constantinople.”

“What is that message?”

“I do not know. I have not broken the seal.”

Tzourillas re-opened his eye.

“You mean it is a written message.”

Bjorn shrugged.

“Seems obvious to me, yes”

“And how do you hope me to read it in my current state?”

Bjorn was confused.

“I don’t know… How could I have guessed you would be so ill?”

“Will you read it for me?”

Bjorn swallowed.

“I can’t read sir.”

The sick man slowly shook his head:

“I hope for you that you’re better with a blade than with a feather then…”

“To each his own trade, sir: I more or less know mine. What do we do now?”
 

Duke of Wellington

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So Bjorn is a glorified messenger is he? A most curious predicament they find themselves in at the end there, certainly an original cliffhanger to leave us on. Great description of the surgery at the start. Was it a common practice at the time to sterilise the blade of the scalpel as you described? The illustration you've used really does look like an early version of the game Operation.
 

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Hope your future is clear and looking good now!

Nice bit of Arabic medicine in the last two updates. I enjoyed the details of the medical procedure: sterilizing the towel, the instruments, cleaning the wound, putting some kind of salve on it... Did you just write what seemed 'right' or did you research all this? Nice picture, as well.

So at the moment that Bjorn has found his target, his formidable skills prove to be no match for his latest obstacle. Tzourillas and Bjorn will have to find someone else to do their reading for them, which is dangerous, as it widens the circle of people who know about them. Then again, Tzourillas is not long for this world and BJorn, as we have seen before, knows how to handle himself.
 

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I doubt your man will be still for very long. ;)

And it sounds like you aren;t going to do such either. Great luck in whatever endeavor it is you are determining, Nil. :)
 

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Happy new year! Bonne année et bonne santé! I would have sketched one of my doodles for the occasion but since my digital camera is lost, I couldn't upload it anyway :( . So you'll have to content with the few pics I added to my personal pages.

Duke of Wellington and Stuyvesant: Regarding the medicine, I wrote what felt right. I mean that I actually did some research about it but just found general background, nothing very detailed. I don't know if they sterilized their blades, but I guess so, given their reported high rate of success in surgery. Hey, they even invented the first kind of syringes and described the details of bloodstream! :eek:

And yes, Bjorn is truly exceptional (you don't know how much yet) but still human ;) . No, he can't read, speak two dozen languages and practice high level medicine... There are actually only a few things he really knows, but he masters them.

Stuyvesant and coz1: Well, yeah, the choice is behind me now, even though things are not that clear at the moment. It's funny, but I did not realised how much this would apply to me so quickly when I wrote that:
Bjorn said:
So whatever your choices, you should always be ready to bear the consequences. Only the fool makes important decisions only to cry later because he is unable or unwilling to face the outcome.
Not easy when you get your nose in it. So, to sum it up quickly. On the bright side I should never be jobless again (saving some major disruption over here). Additionally, this job is in a University, which is an old dream for me (like fifteen years old or so). The other side of the coin is that I'll be 800km away from my girfriend and relatives for a long time (probably several years).

But the most important detail for you is that I won't be connected to internet for some time (unless I hijack my professional connection). I'm relocating in a little more than a week and don't have a definite place to settle at the moment. Don't expect me to be very active on the forum for weeks, perhaps a couple of months. I'll try to post another update before leaving, perhaps two, if I'm lucky. After that... we'll see :D .
 

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#14e


Alexandria: September, 1420 (continued)


Tzourillas reclined.

“Would you be so kind as to bring me some water while I think about it?”

Bjorn did not bother giving a nod the other would not see anyway. He dig in his shoulder bag and drew his dented metal mug. He went to the nearest fountain and filled the beaker under the surprisingly cold thread of water. By the time he came back to Tzourillas, the preacher had not moved a eyelash. He rose his head though and took the mug in his valid hand.

“Let's proceed with logic.”

He drank a few sips, letting most of the liquid drop along his chin from the paralyzed corner of his mouth. He gave the beaker back to Bjorn and wiped his wet skin.

“Now that he is on the brink of destruction, the Empire might want to express his repentance for what he inflicted to us. But that would be a little weird... So, do you have any clue at all regarding the importance of the message?”

“Indeed. It is of utmost importance. It was not a diplomat carrying it but rather a relative of the Imperial family. Even more revealing is the fact that a band of Italian thugs did not hesitate to attack a detachment of elite soldiers to get their hands on it.”

“Italian thugs? Please, open this sheath and tell me if the message has any distinctive sign, header or emblem.”

The Viking ripped the cap off, unsheathed the parchment and unrolled it. For what he could tell, the message was written in Greek. There was a signature at the bottom he had already seen and identified as the Emperor's, whose blazon had not been represented. There was this little sign though...

“There is a drawing of a bird carrying a drop-shaped thing containing a cross. The rest is just regular handwriting.”

“Oh my God! Hide this now...”

The preacher thought for a minute, as if he had forgotten Bjorn. He finally turned to him again.

“Seems like the Emperor has decided to start the great war against evil. It's sad he has waited until his fall to do so, but we will do without him... And without me. There's no taking risks so that I could know the details of this missive. I would not be able to make anything out of it now, anyway.”

He paused briefly to breath.

“Bring it to Jerusalem. Make contact with the Jews there and find Rabbi Ehud Rudi. Ask him to meet the local Master of the Knights Templars. I'm not sure the message would be of direct use to them, but they will be able to give you further instructions.”

Bjorn sighed.

“Oh, sure. I'll probably find the holy grail for them while I'm at it.”

“Yes, perhaps.”

“I was joking.”

“I know. But always be aware of what you say, even when joking. Could turn out closer from reality than you think.”

“Oh yeah. I'll fight the Devil and smack his bare behind.” He smiled. “Well, her bare behind, hopefully.”

Tzourillas remained serious, looking at him with concern painted on his face.

“Do not underestimate the forces of Evil. Why are you in this to begin with?”

“I had promised to protect a messenger. The messenger has died. So my duty logically became to deliver the message myself.”

“That's all?”

“Yes. I always complete a mission once I have accepted it, no matters what.”

Tzourillas nodded.

“I see. But what will you do when it's over?”

“Don't know yet. I prefer to focus on the things at hand until they are complete. I have another question though, before you decide I'm a complete doofus.”

“Yes?”

“You ain't a true Bogomil, are you?”

Surprise transformed the living half of the preacher's face.

“Well, not exactly... Let's say, not only that. Why?”

“The forces of evil, eh?”

Tzourillas considered him with a fresh new gaze.

“You're not as dumb as you look.”

“Thanks.”

“Now, you should go before our Italian friends track you or me down to Alexandria.”

“Good bye then.”

The Viking rose. He turned back to Tzourillas a last time:

“Oh, when you meet God, give him my greetings.”

The startled preacher had no chance to answer before Bjorn stormed through the hospice looking for Petronos. He fell on the blind man:

“I'm sorry to ask again, but I need your Arabic skills once more.”

The other was surprised by such a brutal apparition in his noise environment.

“Why, of course...” He mumbled.

The Viking grabbed his shoulder and pulled him forward.

“Hey! What are you...”

“Don't worry, I won't let you hit anything or get hurt.”

So here they were, crossing the court, Petronos hovering over the ground like a ballerina barely brushing the floor with the tip of his toes and dangling like a confused jumping jack. A baffled Marzuq saw them rush to him and stop a couple of steps before stumbling into him. Petronos was dropped off and turned to face the physician. Marzuq scraped his salt and pepper beard, asking a question in Arabic. Bjorn bunched up his left sleeve in answer.

“Tell him to ready his saw. I can't stay after all, and can't afford to die anytime soon either.”

.
 

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I can't wait to find out what this message says that makes it so very valuable. Bjorn surely has no idea what this is sure to get him into but I look forward to whatever it is. I have to commend his efforts to deliver the message even if it means losing an arm but i can't help but think that is a foolish move in the long run.
 

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Duke: Well, you're right. Not to mention that having his harm cut would nail him to his couch for some time anyway. The point is that he doesn't know what the doctors are capable of since they're almost magician to a stranger not versed in medicine.

All: I'll soon have to wave you good-bye. I'm leaving in approximately twelve ours from now and still have things to sort out before (not to mention sleeping). So, there won't be another update. I'll probably not have a new internet connection for at least two months, but I may try to connect from work if I have the time (I expect to be really busy there, from what they told me).

This will give me some time to think about the problem I have with the French version of the AAR... No one is commenting there. Not that it would prevent me from keeping it going, mind you, but I'm reaching chapter 6. If you remember well, this is the one with the first newspaper page. It's a problem not to have posters when half the news in the paper are about posters, isn't it? :D I may have fun with real news instead...

Read you soon! :cool:

.
 

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Nil-The-Frogg said:
Read you soon! :cool:

Good luck in your new job! :cool: By the time you get back I'll probably be writing something down on the EU III forum. ;)

Joe
 

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It sounds like Bjorn is getting ready to have his arm sawn off. Truly he's not a man for half measures. I wonder, though: won't having his arm amputated slow him down more (at least, initially) than if he's to leave his arm attached, weak as it might be? After all, the doctor cleaned it from infection, it might still heal...

Oh well, I guess I'll have to wait and see. Trying to give Storey a run for his money when it comes to cliffhangers? ;) Two months, not even the Sage from Seattle would leave us hanging that long! :)

Bon voyage (yes, that's about the extent of my French)!

I hope everything works out for you and I look forward to hearing from you again, once you get settled in to your new life. :)
 

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Okay, time to go. Thanks for you kind words.

Stuyvesant said:
Two months, not even the Sage from Seattle would leave us hanging that long!
Well, I suppose I should be able to connect to the forum anyway, either from work or cybercafés (although they tend to be very expensive here). The main problem is that writing updates without online resources and dictionnaries will be annoying and I can hardly take hours at work to do it. It's not like I was going deep in the jungle. OTOH, Paris probably has some resemblance with a jungle. :rolleyes:
 

Director

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Enjoyed your last updates - and I wish you well.

Try to let us know something about how you're doing, OK? We worry. ;)
 

Nil-The-Frogg

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Director said:
Try to let us know something about how you're doing, OK? We worry. ;)
Do not, I'm fine actually. Busy but fine. My colleagues always had many bad jokes about civil servants' lazyness back when I worked in the private sector (that is a few weeks ago). But hey, I've never been so overloaded with work that I could not even find ten minutes to connect to the forum... until these first two weeks working in a university. It's not that anyone would mind me to visit a forum (I do pretty much what I want anyway), but I simply can't find the time. The job is very interesting and the workplace both pleasant and stimulating. :)

Do I need to mention updates production? :(

As a funny sidenote: I've lived for two weeks right next to a street called "rue le Coz" in Versailles... :cool: AFAIK this Coz was also a moderator, sort of, since he was mayor of the town a few decades ago.

Don't know when I'll come back to these boards. I may wait t'ill I have a new installment (will be about Hitchgins). Read you the soonest possible. ;)
 
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