- Oct 16, 2009
From the WARPED and TWISTED mind of TUFTO,
An AAR featuring a cast of Doges, Kings, Grim Reapers, Overseers, Dukes, Vampires, Spies, Romans, Jack'O'Lanterns, and Venetians,
ONE MORE FOR PERDITION
A Venetian Narrative AAR, in a Fantasical setting.
All and any comments are welcome, and are also actively encouraged. Welcome to the AAR!
29th April 1458.
The single lantern beamed through the darkness, waving back and forth across the sea. The faint light of the City of World's Desire glowed like a candle, whispering around the city walls and through the ancient streets.
A man sat in a rowing boat, watching the light. He began, slowly, to row past the Acropolis and into the Golden Horn, ignoring the buzz of noise in the city and the vast, looming shapes of the Venetian carracks above him.
They'd never see him down here. Constantinople was not known for its military prowess or skilful watchmen, after the defeats it had suffered in recent years. As a member state of the Empire of the Venetian Republic, however, it had managed to limp on, clinging to life against the Turkish onslaughts
Anyway, even if they did see him, they still couldn't kill him.
After an hour of intense rowing, he reached the opposite shore. The walls of Galata rose up, restored by Emperor Manuel and raised anew, shortly after the Roman loss in the Balkan war. It was Venetian money and Venetian interests which drove the Roman Empire now, not the hopes of feeble old men.
The man began to creep along the edge of the wall, hoping that the Venetians who manned the little colony's walls wouldn't notice him. It would cause a lot of trouble and unnecessary paperwork. Reaching the gate, he knocked on it thrice , before muttering the password: "The wolf will live with the lamb".
For what seemed like an age, there was silence. The man looked up at the moon, at its faint, crescent shape, and the bright light which watched all things. The sun was nothing compared to this beauty.
Then, at last, a whisper was fed through the rock. "But the lion will conquer all."
With a thud and an almighty creak, the doors of the gate opened up, to reveal the city within. A gnarled old gatekeeper stood by the gate, grinning horribly. "This way, please, sir."
The gate closed with the same agonising sound as before, and the gatekeeper beckoned to the man to follow him. The other followed, looking up with interest at the forms of the towers and buildings. He had been to Galata before, but... it was so very long ago...
After about half an hour of twisted, winding, empty streets, the gatekeeper stopped so suddenly that the man almost cannoned into him. Then, raising a hand, he knocked on the door of a house. "The wolf will live with the lamb."
"But the lion will conquer." These Latins could be very unimaginative, when the hour suited them.
The hallway was too dark for an ordinary man to see; but then, the stranger was no ordinary man. They went up a small staircase, and he could see how small, pokey and badly built the house was. It was the last place anyone would expect to find the Doge of the Most Serene Republic meeting a powerful dignitary.
But that, of course, was the point. The gatekeeper stopped, and beckoned towards a door. "He is in there, sir. Good luck."
The man almost smiled at this. Luck was something he hadn't needed for a long, long time.
He stepped through the door. The room beyond was lit with candles, and two men inside rose from their seats. One was known to him already; the Overseer of Roman Operations, a man almost as powerful as the Emperor of Byzantium himself. The other one, was indeed, the Doge. He had been true to his word.
"Ah, it is you. I remember seeing you as a young boy, when my father was fighting the Franks in Rhodes; you are the man who never dies."
The stranger really did smile this time. "And you are the Doge of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. But we are already known to each other, and I think there is no need for pointless introduction. Is this the man we asked for?"
"It is." At their feet was a small, quivering bundle. Wrapped with cloth and rope, he could be heard to sob and mutter. The stranger felt a twinge of sadness; the humans would never understand that needless cruelty did not impress his kind.
"The Great Council thanks you for this gift. In return, I offer my services to you. I shall be an agent and advisor to your government, and your liason with the Council."
"But how can I be sure that you are who you claim you are?" said the Doge. The overseer looked at this exchange in confusion; clearly, the Doge had not trusted him with much information until now."
The stranger smiled, and let the change wash over him. He saw the Doge's expressionless face nod, slowly, and heard the overseer's scream of surprise and shock; but who would not be shocked, when a living human transformed into human skeleton on the spot?
"What manner of hellish beast is this? What deal have you struck with Beelzebu-"
"I am no demon!" The stranger's voice rang out across the room, as he shifted back into human form. "I am a Reaper of the Great Council, a sworn protector of order and righteousness in the world. The man at your feet, now", he said, gesturing, "he is a demon."
Silence reigned for a few moments, before the Doge spoke again. "What is your name, Reaper?"
"My name... is Kael of Akrotiri, but I go by the name of Kael Archon. What is the wish of the Doge?"
The Doge sighed. "Well, Signor Archon, I am sure you're aware of the situation in Egypt, correct? Your kind have ears everywhere."
The situation in Egypt in 1458. The loss of the holy land to the Republic and Alexandria to the Provencals had caused shockwaves to ripple through the state. Many of the Mamluk lords, dissatisfied with the current leadership, had risen in rebellion in a last-ditch effort to save the failing state, which was also under attack in the East by the Mongol hordes of the Timur's descendants.
"We do, and we know the troubles there facing the House of Burji there."
"Then I wish you to go to Cairo. The needless slaughter of the Copts by the rebels is of great concern to both myself and my fellow Christians." The overseer had collapsed to his knees, gibbering and spluttering with wide eyes, unable to accept what he had seen.
"Is that the only reason the mighty Doge wishes me to go there?"
A hint- just the smallest hint- of a smile passed the Doge's face. "Our relations with a new lord might not be quite so... amiable as the arrangement which we have with the current rulers of Egypt. If you could, perhaps, assure them of Venice's good intentions towards them..."
Kael smiled. "Of course. I can also assure you that you will not be disappointed with this deal. After all, the apprehension of this delinquent was in your interests too. Now, if you will excuse me, I shall be on my way." Heaving the bundle up, he bowed, smiling pleasantly, and dragged the whimpering man away.
The Doge watched him leave, and closed the door. He sat down, deep in thought. He'd be interested to see exactly what the Reaper would accomplish; he had big plans for the future, and with one of their kind on his side, many things were possible.
"What... who was that? What was that?"
"Nothing to worry yourself about, Emilio." The Doge said, calmly. The overseer was a competent man, but a little too used to large dinners and fine wines. He liked a comfortable life, where humans didn't transform into skeletons before his eyes.
"Just a man who'll help us."
"But... but then who was the other man? The captive you asked me for? It took six of my best people to drag him to the floor... we lost three of them, too. They said he fought like a mad thing, and was so fast... so very fast..."
"Oh, forget about him. He wasn't important- just one more lost soul, headed for perdition. No, we have bigger things to worry about." The Doge of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, and First Sealord of the Empire of the Republic, stood up and smiled at his servant. "For the wolf will live with the lamb, but the lion will conquer- the lion must conquer..."
Yep, I'm trying to write three AARs at once. I know, it's probably a foolish thing, especially given my habit for slow updates, but I've been wanting to write this for a while; I already have a vague plot outline and many ideas spinning around my head. It's going to be a fantasy AAR, as you can probably tell, based off a Venetian game I'm playing at the moment. It should be fun, and I'm looking forward to writing it.
Oh, by the way, the next update will be in a week, as I'm away for the next 7 days. Consider this a taster of things to come