• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

merrick

Lt. General
38 Badges
Jul 1, 2003
1.533
0
Visit site
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • BATTLETECH
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Semper Fi
Battles within battles

April 1420. Outside Naples.

Giovanni Terni, General of the Republic of Genoa, was not a happy man. Not because of the situation of his army, now settling down in its siege lines before the walls of Naples. Not because of the Duke's surviving troops, now rumoured to be regrouping in the wilds of Apulia. His men had beaten them once already, he was confident of thier ability to do so again. A quick landing, a thumping victory, a siege that promised to be short - on the face of things the campaign could hardly be going better. And yet General Terni was unhappy. The cause of his unhappiness was not far to seek - indeed his requisitioned lodgings were just across the street. Terni's co-commander, the mercenary, Termali.

Terni had been working closely with the man for more than six months and still had no idea what to make of him. He claimed Lucca as his birthplace, and yet his accent was pure up-country Apennines. He aped the manners of the nobility - an affectation that Terni, a republican to the core, instinctively despised - yet he managed his company as carefully as any merchant his office. His troops were a rabble of sell-swords and free-riders from all over north Italy, yet he commanded both their loyalty and their discipline. They trusted him, Terni's subordinates trusted him, the Doge trusted him. Perhaps, Terni mused, that was the problem.

It had not taken him long to realise that Termali was deeper in the Doge's confidence he was himself. His messengers came to Termali first and stayed after Terni left. Normally, Terni would not let such things trouble him. As a servant of the Republic, he prided himself on staying clear of politics, but he was enough of a realist to realise that Tommaso de Campofregoso would have his own man with the expedition. The Doge was a careful man, and cunning. But he was famous for his loyalty to his family, and to Genoa. What did the Doge need a foreigner for? Why couldn't he trust the man?

Terni thought back over the campaign. They had set out from Genoa by sea - a month in the loading and the voyage - and got all the way to the Bay of Naples before a message came from the Doge and Termali had ordered the fleet to turn back. Apparently the Tuscans had defeated the Duke's forces and were already besieging Naples. That made military sense - too many troops in a siege always made for an unhealthy camp - but why, instead of striking against Taranto or laying up in a Tuscan-controlled port, take the fleet all the way back to Corsica? There they had waited weeks, while messengers criss-crossed the narrow seas between the island and the penninsula. Then another message, another rushed embarkation, a desperate race south to save their allies from a renewed Neapolitan counterattack - only for Termali, with Vesuvius actually in sight, to waste three whole days in unbelievable indecision! If it hadn't been so crazy, Terni could have sworn that the condottiere wanted them to arrive too late.

It didn't add up. There were stories about Termali, of course, as there were stories about all condottiere. Their troops were their investment, they were proverbially unwilling to risk them. But he had led them into battle the next day - the day after the Duke's men broke the siege - and his actions in the battle were hardly those of a coward. The enemy had been routed, the siege restored, Termali had been hailed as a hero - even by the Tuscans, the remants of whose force had joined their ranks. And the messengers had started coming again, more and more, often after dark. And Termali was away from the siege-lines more and more, ranging the countryside - securing the district and foraging for supplies, he said, and certainly the supplies came in. Why couldn't he trust the man?

* * * * *

May 1420. Genoa.

Giacomo Bracelli, Chancellor of the Republic of Genoa, was not a happy man. Not since his recent interview with his namesake Grimaldi, the grey man of the Council, the man from the Bank.

The Bank had moved to larger premises since Bracelli had last visited, but it was still the same. Discreetly opulent on the outside, inside a warren of clerks and desks and moving paper. He had tracked down Grimaldi almost by instinct, following the paper to its source.

Grimaldi's office was little more than a closet, dark, small, lined with ledgers and smelling of cobwebs and ink. The old banker had jumped to his feet on Bracelli's entrance, bowing awkward greetings and stammering out unaccustomed platitudes. "Chancellor! This is a sup - greetings, of course, greetings, please sit ... are you well? What brings you to the Bank? How might I assist you?"
"State business, I'm afraid. You haven't answered my letters, you missed the last Council meeting. I thought I might catch you here."
"Of course, of course, at your service." Grimaldi gestured rather helplessly at the surrounding clutter "My apologies ... you take me at a loss ... I do not usually receive here."
"No matter, this will not take long. I have just received some rather disturbing news concerning the Commune's finances. I would value your opinion."
"Of course, of course. What is the situation?"
"It is rumoured that - with the war - the Commune's reserves are becoming exhausted. The merchant houses are becoming - agitated."
"Exhausted?" Grimaldi made a face. "Certainly not. Adequate, definitely adequate, though of course there has been a substantial net outgoing in recent years."
Bracelli smiled, as if in relief. "So we have no immediate need of funds?"
"Not at present, though of course if military expenditures continue at the present rate-"
"Good, good. So the report from Florence was false after all."
Grimaldi expressed no interest in the rumour from Florence.
Bracelli pushed harder. "I heard - it's strange how these things spread - that the Bank had raised twenty thousand ducats from the Medici, on the Commune's security."
"That is not correct," Grimaldi said a little too firmly. "In the slightest."
"No business at all?"
"Purely routine transactions." Grimaldi tried to brush off the enquiry. "Conversion of capital, consolidation of positions, spreading of risk. Completely normal. No business of the Council."

The last was true enough, Bracelli reflected later. The Council had never authorised the loan. Which left the problem of who had authorised it - and why Grimaldi was covering it up.

* * * * *

June 1420. Near Naples

Lucio Termali, condottiere of Lucca, was a very happy man. He had just fulfilled the richest contract of his career - and he hadn't even had to kill anyone.

It had made him nervous at the time - dealing with merchants always did, there was always the risk they'd try to kill him rather than pay - but his patrons had been as good as their word. The deal was done, the gold was his, and he had a free run on an open road. Good for them. The skills of a merchant, he reflected, had a lot in common with those of a cavalry commander. You had to know when to stand firm, when to cut and run - and when to grab a chance. And when you go for it, go all out. He had gone all out for this one and it had paid back twice double - once for raising the army, once again for leading it, now double again for leaving it. Not bad for a year's work... He made his horse trot a few paces, just to hear the coins jingle. Not bad at all.

* * * * * * * * *

Giamaica - Thanks for sticking with this!
 

merrick

Lt. General
38 Badges
Jul 1, 2003
1.533
0
Visit site
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • BATTLETECH
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Semper Fi
OK, this isn't working.

I've been meaning to get on to it all week, but I kept having other things to do and so I never got round... :(

So, this AAR is officially on hiatus indefinitely. I may try and get it going again, if people show any interest, but it depends on me finding some more free time from somewhere.

Ciao.