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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

drSandworm

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Prologue: Pharaoh’s Curse





1 January 867, Valley of the Kings


In one of the forgotten tombs of the Ancient Egyptian kings, a hallway was slowly filling up with footsteps as two people were running towards the door. The door, I might add, which was slowly closing.

“*pant* Come on, Akbar, it’s closing! Hurry!”

“I’m going!”

The two increased their speed, almost tripping over some debris in the process. Fortunately, they managed to retain their balance.

“Oh, we don’t have much time…. Why did you have to remove that locker, Akbar?”

“I didn’t know it would trigger the trap, it wasn’t my fault! Besides, it was the only valuable thing in this forsaken hole. We’ve lost two people here! This was the worst idea you’ve ever had!”

“My idea?! It’s you who stole the Emira’s family jewels and what did you do with them? You got yourself robbed! On top of that, you disgraced the Emir’s daughter. The scandal! It’s a miracle anybody wants to speak with us anymore.”

“Yeah, yeah. We’ll argue when we’ll get out of here, okay?”

They ran as if the Emir himself was chasing them. The managed to squeeze through the door just when they were halfway closed.

“Whew…. That was close….. you know, Akbar, I’m too happy to be alive right now to punch ou in the face.”

“You know, forget it, okay? I’m sorry for what happened to Malik and Bakrah. I really am.”

“Malik had it coming, actually. He stepped upon a very visible pressure plate.”

“Yeah. Bakrah was no better, either. I still can’t believe he fell into that incredibly obvious pitfall.”

Yaqub looked at the tomb’s entrance. “At least nobody else will die in here….”

“You’re right.” Akbar said while looking at the locker. While the container itself was pretty much intact, the passage of time had rusted away any lock this thing might’ve had. He opened it; inside, there was a pretty unremarkable portrait of a man, some small figurines of cats and a tacky ruby necklace. “I just hope it was worth it….”



The two unceremoniously proceeded to dismantle their camp, remembering to ‘take care’ of their fallen comrades’ horses and belongings. Even though it was the middle of the night, they didn’t want to spend any minute longer in this accursed place.


They disappeared into the night, leaving trails of dust behind them.


Little did they know that this seemingly simple act of tomb robbery would bring about something few people would believe.


Though to be fair, not many people were prepared for……
 

drSandworm

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Return of the Pharaoh

Another one of 'those' AARs





Good Morning (or whatever time of that it is when you're reading this), how are you? I'm Doctor Sandworm. I'm sorry to interrupt your usual reading of another AGOT AAR or something like that but I have something that might, just maybe, interest you. You may remember me from such AARs as "How do you like them Naples?" and.... pretty much it. Yeah... I don't have much cred yet- I haven't even finished my first AAR yet and as we know, doing two things at once usually spells disaster. Still, I've never been the one who's a slave to 'logical thinking' and 'common sense'. That should be pretty clear after you read some of my works.



All right, in this AAR I'll take a meager Count and attempt (that's the key word here) to get him to the top. There's one tricky thing, though- said count is possesed by a ghost of an ancient Pharaoh, who's conveniently related to him. Said Pharaoh is quite single tracked about his goals- he wants to return upon his throne in the land of Egypt. Unfortunately, things have changed quite a bit since his times and the only way he'll be accepted back is by force of arms.

So here is the goal of this AAR: become the King of Egypt, by whatever means nessesary, and hold to it (by 'hold' I mean survive a Jihad or a kingdom invasion)

Rules: As always, no cheating, so realading. Take your lumps like a man!

The gave is Vanilla with patch 1.6.4 with the expansions: Sword of Ishtar, Legacy of Nile, The Republic, The Egyptian Gods, Sons of Imhotep and Pharaohs of Egypt. Will probably update the game as long as I'm able to.

As for the style, I'm aiming for a character- centered "humour" (yes, the quotation marks are nessesary) AAR, with some pictures thrown in for good measure. Expect a lot of jokes ripped from Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged, Blackadder, Monthy Python and basically anything nerdy.

Anyway, I hope I can entertain you!

The pictures are of poor quality because there is a lot of them. Pictures that is. The poor quality of words is my fault, though. (Cookie to those who get the reference here.)




 
Last edited:

drSandworm

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Chapter 1- Robert’s Big Break
In which a lowly Italian nobleman gets inspiration from some crappy- literally- paintings. Also, some stuff about a curse or whatever.



Meanwhile, in the Castle of Arles, Provence.




It was a beautiful morning in the city of Arles. Robert, Count of Provence, was looking down from the balcony upon his domain. A vast, beautiful land as impressive as his hair.



“Ah, isn’t this view wonderful?”

“Indeed it is, your highness.” Someone from behind him spoke, causing him to jump into the air and scream in a slightly unmanly manner.

“Who’s there?.... Oh, it’s you, Melderick. Good God, don’t sneak up on me like that!”

Melderick, son of Melderick, grandson of Melderick and great- grandson of Bob, was a proud member of a family of civil workers whose role was to keep the city folk healthy and tidy.

That is to say, he gathered dung from the streets.

Unfortunately, dung gathering wasn’t as lucrative of a task as it used to be so Melderick was forced to take up another job to provide for his children, both legitimate, which were two, and illegitimate, which were so many he didn’t bother to count them after the twelfth one.

Being a servant to Count Robert wasn’t his idea for a dream job, alas it was the best he could do. Curiously, Count Robert thought the same thing about this ordeal as well.

“Now, Melderick, tell me, what does the townsfolk talk about right now?”

“Well, I’ve heard that Scarlet Betty has dropped the price recently…”

“Important things, you fool! I don’t need to know….. how much?”

“Twenty ducats, my Sir.”

“*whistle* I think I should leave this castle from time to time…. Anyway, what do the people say about me?”

Melderick scratched his lice- ridden head. Gossip about Count Robert wasn’t the most interesting thing to him, considering he has more than enough information about him already. Though, he did pick up some things around town.

“Well, they don’t say much, yet. You’re still a relatively new count, Sir. Most of what they say regards your less- than- legitimate background.”

Count Robert smacked him across the head.

“Shut it, peasant! You’re speaking to a Count!”

“I’m just repeating what I’ve heard!”

“*sigh* All right. I knew I should’ve found a less mouthy servant…. What else do they say?”

“They talk about you being supposedly the last living member of an old Egyptian dynasty.”



Count Robert rustled his non- existent hair. “It’s true! What else do they say?”

“They call you a bright and promising ruler, if a bit overenthusiastic about earthly matters, somewhat untrustworthy and too trusting of other people, somehow. They also point out your infinite ambition and drive for power. Your Liege should be very wary of you, my Count.”

Robert smiled and scratched his beard. His thoughts went to his liege, Louis Karling, King of Italy.



Louis wasn’t a particularly bright or well- liked ruler, even by Karling standards. He was still a Karling, though, and that alone made him respected. Count Robert didn’t like him very much- he was unimpressed by his cowardice and lack of ambition. The King however liked him quite a bit. Robert knew that getting in his liege’s good graces was a good way to gain power, at least for now.

Robert looked aside at his ‘assistant’. “So, Melderick, since you’re my advisor…”

“Eh, I didn’t sign up for being your advisor, my liege…”

“Shut up, you are now. Anyway, tell me, what should I do to ensure the well- being of my dynasty?”

“Well, it would be a good start to actually have a dynasty, your majesty….”

Count Robert pondered for a while. Indeed, he was unmarried and had no brothers and sisters to speak of. His death would be the end of his bloodline.
“I need to get married then! Melderick, call my council. We need to find a suitable spouse.”



“I would love to, my Liege, but there is one little problem…”

“Oh, get on with it! What is it?”

“You have no council, my liege.”



“What?! How could this happen?”

“I don’t know, my liege. I suppose you didn’t get around to assigning anyone since you were appointed a Count.”

“Argh. No matter. Melderick, gather up everyone! We’ll pick ourselves some councilmen!”


“*sigh* As you wish, my liege.”




*Some time later*




“All right, my Liege. I think we have some convicts… I mean, volunteers, your Majesty.”



“Great job. Now, excuse me, Melderick, but I need to find myself a suitable spouse. It’s a nobleman’s task, you see.”


“I get it, my liege. In the meantime, I’ll get to something more interesting, like gathering dung.”





2 January 867


Count Robert was sitting in his office, drinking his favourite beer (well, it was his favourite out of a necessity, as it did hit the sweet spot of cheep-but-not-quite-cheap-as-to-be-considered-distilled-urine), when suddenly his servant barged in.

“My liege, I bring important news-“

“Melderick! I was in the middle of contemplation!”

“Yes, I’ve noticed, your Highness. By the way, was there any progress in your marriage plans?”

“Indeed, I’ve been thinking about it quite a big deal yesterday. I’ve talked to some important people about that…”

“Really ? I haven’t heard anything….”

“As I was saying, I’ve been talking to important people. Anyway, there is one good candidate: Gisele Karling, daughter of King Louis.”

“Good choice, my Liege. A marriage with a royal house will help your legitimacy quite a bit.”

“Yes indeed. There is one small problem, though. She is not of right age yet. I’ll have to wait two years before marrying her.”

“Ah, the good old ‘jail bait wait’…”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. I’ll go to King Louis myself to ask his approval. A betrothal would improve my chances.”

“’Tis fortunate, my Liege, as the King himself wishes to see you.” He handed him a letter.

“Wha… You’ve been reading through my correspondence, you scoundrel?!”

“No, I can’t read, my Liege. I just noticed the fancy seal and I though only a King would opt for such a waste of resources.”

“Bah, peasants don’t understand style…. Set me see…..”

Count Robert’s face changed very suddenly….

“What is it, my Liege? Is it bad?”

“No, quite the opposite in fact.” He closed the letter. “King Louis wants to make me a Duke.”



Melderick opened his mouth in amazement.

“Wow…. I need to refer to you as ‘My Duke’ now, right?”

“You better. Now excuse me, I need a while for myself.”






12 January 867



Melderick enjoyed the time when Count, excuse me, Duke Robert was away to meet the King. No one was berating him and calling him names, at least not until he got home, and he could do his duty (heh heh) of gathering gunk from the streets in peace.
Sadly, this peace was not meant to last forever and Duke Robert returned after a week, smiling widely as if he scored with every wench in Pavia at least once.
“Ah, It is good to be back! I’ve missed this place.” He looked at his servant and his smile faded a little. “Oh, Melderick, you’re still here.”

“How was the meeting, your majesty?”

“Wonderful. My official inauguration as a Duke went smoothly and without incident. The King adores me. What more could I ask for?” He looked at Melderick again. “Okay, quite a few things, but I’ll take what I can get!”

“*Ahem* There was a message to you from the King of Lotharingia.”

“Really? What does he want?”

“He wants to institute a new Crown Authority law in his realm and he’s looking for your approval.”



“That’s nice, but why does he need my vote? I’m not even his vassal.”

“Apparently, Provence is de jure part of the ancient Kingdom of Burgundy.”

“And now with Burgundy?” He stopped to think for a while. “Ah, yes, King Lothaire holds the Kingdom of Burgundy as well. Still, I don’t understand why does he need me.”

Melderick threw his hands into the air. “I was only delivering the message! I don’t understand the meaning of over half of these words, my Duke.”

“Fine. I’ll write him back, telling him that he can do whatever he wants. I have more important things to do.”

“I take the King approved of your marriage plans?”

“Indeed. Louis approved of my plans to marry Gisele. If things go my way, We’ll get married in two years.”



“Congratulations on that, my Liege. May I excuse myself now?”

“Yes, go do… whatever you’re always doing.”






Duke Robert was always an ambitious man. Said ambition drove him forwards, regardless of dangers that may lie ahead. Fortunately, most of the time it paid off, like that time in 868 when he struck a bargain deal at the flea market. Small victories….



Meanwhile, a war brewing on the far side of the Italian peninsula was drawing to a close. One of the last bastions of Saracens in Italy has fallen to King Louis Karling.



After that brief detour, we’re returning to Duke Robert, as he’s being pestered again about Crown Authority Issues.




18 April 868


“What, again?! I’ve received the same question a year ago!”

“Yes, my Duke, but this time it’s the King of East Francia who’s asking.”



“What? Are they having trouble figuring out their kingdoms now? Nevermind, don’t answer. He’ll get the same response.”

“Indeed. My liege, may I ask you something?”

“If you have to, Melderick.”

“About that painting…” He started cautiously, pointing towards a piece of art hanging on the wall.

“Ah, you noticed my new belonging. It’s rare to see a commoner who’s appreciative of finer things in life.”



“Well, I don’t know about art, but I’ve certainly learned to notice certain things, considering my chosen profession.”

“What are you going on about again?”

“Well, there just….. that…” He pointed at the painting again.

“What? It’s just a beautiful rural landscape!”

“Indeed, it’s rural, my Duke, especially the…. You know…”

“Oh, you’re starting to aggravate me! Speak up your mind, now!”

“You…. You really don’t see that, your majesty?”

“See what?”

“Oh well….. how to say it in a delicate manner…… there’s a big pile of manure on this painting, my Duke.”

Duke Robert looked quizzically at the painting, but his expression remained unchanged.

“What’s wrong with that? Cows aren’t uncommon in the countryside, right? And manure is just what cows leave behind. It’s a natural consequence!”

“I don’t know, your Majesty. I have little idea about this ‘art’ thing, but whatever you say, cow droppings don’t fit into that.”

“I would figure that a peasant has no sense of art. Begone with you! I have business to attend.”





Just when Duke Robert was busy admiring art, the Magyars were busy admiring the mess they made out of Bulgarian army. By August, they were the supreme rulers of the Pannonian plain. Will the Hungarians settle down and coexist peacefully with the Europeans, or will they become another scourge upon the lands, like the Huns and Vandals before them? Only time will tell, but right now Duke Robert would give much for a castle located in a more defensively sound position, like in the Alps.



This year also brought us one man’s rebellion against the might of the Karlings. Understandably, not many people would dare to bet on him.




The great day was drawing near. Duke Robert of Provence was soon to end his days as a bachelor, a sad fact for all the wenches in all of Provence and as far as Genoa.


27 December 868


“My liege, I’ve come to say…. Oh, no, you’ve bought another one?”

Melderick stopped in horror as he saw the Duke’s room adorned with not one but two paintings of cow manure on the walls.

“Ah, Melderick, that Monk artist came to me again! He painted a new piece just for me! Isn’t it wonderful?”



“My opinion still stands, your Majesty.”

“Great. Go shove it. What was it that you wanted?”

“It’s time to send out the invitations for the wedding, My Duke.”

“Ah, indeed! It will be a great event! Finally, a start of the new Ptolemid dynasty!”

“Yes, my liege, but please, save this enthusiasm for after the wedding…. Oh! What was that for?!”

“Watch your tongue! Now begone. This task calls for someone who can actually write….. I’ll go for my scribe.”







Meanwhile, in the darkness- veiled docks of Arles….



“I’ve told you, Ackbar, that that was a bad idea….”

Two men were talking with each other and gesticulating rapidly. They could be easily recognized as Saracens, which might make some wonder why would they go to a place like this. Muslims weren’t too welcome in Italy during that period.

“Have you got a better idea? We had to go away. Besides, I couldn’t sleep back there. I’ve had all those nightmares….”

“Yeah, me too…” He shrugged. “It seems that ever since we stole that locker, things have gone downhill….”

“We need to get rid of it, Yaqub, lest we’ll go crazy.”

“I agree, but who will buy something from obviously suspect foreigners?”

“Hey, who are you calling suspect?!”

“Sush! It’s not the time to argue….” He thought for a long time. “I know! That Frenk Duke is getting married soon! We can offer him the locket as a….. ah…. Gift of good will from the East.”

“Are you crazy?! We’re going to give it away for free? After all this trouble?”

“I want nothing to do with it anymore, Ackbar. You can keep it if you want, but without me.”

“All right. We’ll go to the castle tomorrow. But what then?”

“I don’t know, we might sign in for a ship. I always wanted to be a sailor.”

“Good enough for me.”






By the end of the year, the preparations were well under way. Duke Robert was really agitated, taking active role in preparing the castle for the arrival of the King and his bride. Melderick was mercifully allowed to ‘bugger off’, which was fine by him.

Finally, at the start of the year 869, the time has come.



Duke Robert decided to forego the Royal Aid Duty, hoping that this move will improve his standing amongst the Italian nobility. Many dukes still looked down upon him as an upstart.




The wedding was about to begin.



17 January 869


“How does it feel, your Majesty? The last day of freedom?”

“Don’t say it like that! I’m a nobleman, the most free of all men!”

“No one is truly free for the tyranny of a woman, your Majesty. I’ve been married for over 10 years, I know. Biggest mistake of my life.”

“Well, I hope I shall do different. I might say that I picked a good candidate for a wife. She’s young, pretty and well- situated. Not the brightest, but that’s not her purpose. A Duke like me Shan’t get overshadowed by a mere woman!”



“Yes, sir. Are you ready, sir?”

“Oh, Yes I am…… Ah, I almost forgot about the necklace.” He said while reaching for a locker. The necklace itself wasn’t very pretty. Melderick himself though it was pretty ugly, but he didn’t dare to say it out loud. It was, however, free, and Duke Robert liked free things.

“Are you sure about it, my Liege? You know what they say about necklaces of unknown origin…”

“Bah, don’t spew such nonsense! A cursed necklace?! Not in a million years!”

“As you say, my lord.”

Melderick left the room and Duke Robert soon followed. The wedding was to be held at the cathedral in Arles. Bishop of Nice, Robert’s vassal, was given the honour of uniting the pair before God in a holy union.



All was going right, until…




Duke Robert was chatting up women at the table when he suddenly felt funny.

“Oh, excuse me…. I need to excuse myself.”

“Is something wrong, dear?” The new duchess of Provence was worried about her husband.

“Nah, I just need to…. Get some fresh air…..”

The person he was heading for, however, was quite the opposite of fresh air.

“Melderick, something is wrong with me!”

“Took you long to realize that, your Majesty…”

“I’m serious! That necklace…. I think it might’ve been poisoned!”

“Poisoned?! Who would want to poison you of all people?”


“Just…. Just take me to the kitchen.”




The kitchen was less busy than usual, as it was the time just after the meal. There were just a few servants running around, wiping the floors and tables.



“Hey, you!” Melderick shouted at the servant boy. “Bring your Liege some water!”

The boy obliged almost immediately.

“It’s that one rare occasion when I have to thank you, Melderick. Though your smell still makes me want to strangle myself….”

The commotion attracted the main cook.

“What is going on….. your Majesty! What is going on with you?”

“There might be treachery abound, my Chef. Tell me, do you know anything about poisons?”

The Chef pondered for a while. “A little. Why?”

“Is there a one that can be applied through the skin?”

“Hmm. Some kind of oily substance could go through the skin…. Though it would need to linger for a long time, for example applied on a piece of clothing.”

“Oh, dear. We need to remove this necklace!” Melderick reached out towards the necklace but as soon as he grabbed it, he shrieked in pain.”

“Owwwww! It’s hot! My Duke, are you all right?”


“Ahhhhh…… oh, what pretty colors….” Was all Duke Robert managed to say before he collapsed in convulsion. Melderick’s face was struck with sheer terror. There was no way he could explain himself with that one .Just as he was imagining himself on the gallows, however, the Duke rose up.


“My Liege! You’re alive! Say something, please!”

Duke Robert looked at him with a confused stare, which oscillated between him, the Chef and the floors. Finally, after what seemed like forever, he spoke:


“What am I doing in such an obscure chamber?!: He looked down. “And with those clothes! Yuck! Slave, bring my carriage! I want to get to my chambers immediately! This isn’t a suitable place for a Pharaoh!”


Melderick and Chef exchanged a confused stare.




TO BE CONTINUED
 

DKM

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Nice balance of humor and story there. Also, wouldn't a Ptolemid be Greek?
 

drSandworm

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Nice balance of humor and story there. Also, wouldn't a Ptolemid be Greek?

Thank you! I was wondering about making a Greek character but I figured out there is enough Greek/ Byzantine AAR as it is. My next choice was a Basque character in Aquitaine, but I think that Provence is in a better position to thrive (e. g. not in a position to get smashed by the Ummayads).
 

Idhrendur

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That's a fun and funny start. I'm glad to be joining early.
 

drSandworm

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That's a fun and funny start. I'm glad to be joining early.
Thanks for joining in!

A Ptolemy and he's not even Hellenic/GeneriPagan. Inexcusable.
Geez, af all things, people are complaining about the culture of the character? I can swear fealty to the Byzantines and change the culture that way if that offends you so... (Alternatively, I oculd conquer the Byz.... or at least try....)

The next part this weekend! Maybe...
 

volksmarschall

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Poor Egypt, ruled over by foreign rulers since Antiquity! Egypt for the Egyptians! :p Nice little AAR thus far! I'm looking forward to see how the rest of this plays out.

Cheers!
 

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Thank you! I was wondering about making a Greek character but I figured out there is enough Greek/ Byzantine AAR as it is. My next choice was a Basque character in Aquitaine, but I think that Provence is in a better position to thrive (e. g. not in a position to get smashed by the Ummayads).
I kinda understand your thought process. Good luck anyways on the AAR! If the rest is as good as the first chapter, I'll vote for it in the AAR awards.
 

drSandworm

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Sorry for not updating during the weekend guys. I was struck with a terrible, horrible curse
also known as hangover
I will update on Wednesday at the latest.
 

drSandworm

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Chapter 2- Learning from the Books
Throwing a Tl;Dr warning out there






Duke Robert, Melderick and the Chef, who’s name turned out to be Arnold, were sitting on the floor of the kitchen. After Robert came down with a strange sickness, the two decided to take him out of the crowd, in case someone really wanted to hurt him. As it turned out, the Duke’s condition was more complex than they initially realized.

“My…. My Duke? Can you understand me?” Melderick attempted a conversation.

“Of course I understand, but why do you speak to me in such a barbaric language? Speak Greek to me!”

“Uhm, no one speaks Greek here. We’re in Italy, my Duke.” Melderick tried to explain, though he was wondering if there was any point to that.

“Italy?! What nonsense are you speaking of?! There is naught but savages in Italy!” He looked around. “Ah! Aren’t there some competent slaves around here? Acula, Marac, Patra! Come over here this instant!”

The Chef looked at both of them with bafflement.

“All right…” He started. “Give me one good reason why shouldn’t I call for the Holy Inquisition right about now.”

“It doesn’t exist yet?” Meldrick asked.

“Don’t go smart on me! There’s devil’s work going on here, I know it!”

“Calm down, Arnold. If anyone finds out the Duke’s bonkers, he’s gonna be replaced. You know what that means, right?”

Arnold sighed heavily. “Yeah, we’re going to be replaced as well…”

“Don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be looking for a new job….” He looked at Robert once again. “Wait a while. I’ve been to the crazy place a few times, I know how they determine whether you lost your mind…”

Melderick turned towards the Duke. “Okay. Duke Robert, do you know who I am?”

He looked at his servant with disdain. “You are some kind of clown who’ making fun of your Pharaoh! I’ll make sure you’ll be punished rightly when I figure out what’s going out!”

“All right, let’s try a different angle… do you know who you are?”

Duke Robert looked at Melderick as if he was the crazy one. “Are you joking?! I am Euergestes Dioninius Ptolemid, the rightful Pharaoh of Egypt….” He stopped for a while. “Or rather, I was….. Gods, I remember now….. Hey, you! Fetch me a mirror!”

“He didn’t change that much….” Melderick bemused while he went looking for a mirror. “Here you go, your Majesty.”

Robert looked at himself in the mirror. His hands felt his chin, cheeks and finally his scalp.

“Oh! That’s Horrible! Where did my hair go?....” He started sobbing. Melderick was unsure what to do, so he patted Duke Robert on the back. An awkward silence filled a room for a moment before the Duke Continued talking.

“I remember now…. I was next in line for my father’s throne, the Prince of Egypt…. But not everyone was happy with that. My uncle, the despicable man that he was, always planned to usurp my father’s throne. “ He paused for a bit. “Excuse me, but can I get some wine? It’s going to be quite a long story and my throat is getting rather dry.”

“Ah, of course.” Arnold was a bit surprised by the sudden request, but he obliged anyway.

“Thank you…. Where was I? Ah, yes, my uncle….. You see, he was an awful human, but very clever and cunning. He made fortune by brewing beer that didn’t taste like feet… something you people could use, by the way…… and that way got on the better side of the soldiers and the palace guards. Everyone, including my father, were completely convinced that he’s a harmless fool. That’s when he struck…”

He paused for a while to drink a bit of wine. “He killed my parents but devised a much more devious fate for me. He hired the best and most amoral priests to perform a ritual. They sealed my soul into this necklace, preventing me from reuniting with my family in the afterlife.” He looked around. “Judging by the surroundings, I’ve been imprisoned by quite some time too.”

“All right, sorry about your family and all, Mr. Pharaoh…” Arnold said. “But that doesn’t explain why did you get into the body of our Duke right here?”

“I did not think about that to be honest….. I guess after he received the necklace and out it on, our souls got bonded in some fashion. I don’t know much about magic of that kind, to be honest, I’ve skipped these classes to throw rocks at the temple, that one day….”

“Is it reversible?” Arnold asked.

“I don’t know. I didn’t possess him immediately after he wore the necklace, so there might be some manner of instability in the bond.”

“Great, so we now have a pompous Duke being possessed by an even more pompous Pharaoh.” Arnold summed it all up. “Is there any way to reverse this?”

“I don’t know. The Pharaoh said. “And frankly, I don’t want to right now! I haven’t got time to enjoy living since…. Well, I don’t even know.” He stood up. “Bring me some more wine. And a nice roasted pork! And….” He haven’t got the time to finish his sentence, as he was swept off his feet almost immediately. Melderick and Chef Arnold approached him.

“My… my Duke? What’s with you now?”

“Mel… de…. rick…. Bring me…. To my chambers…. Immediately….. you filthy peasant…..”

Melderick sighed with relief. “I think he’s himself now!” He glanced at Arnold. “What do we do now?”

“I dunno, I’m just a Chef! Better not to tell anyone, especially the King or the Bishop, he’ll get locked up for sure. Besides, I’m still hoping that he’s just drunk and blabbering.”

Duke Robert was taken to his chambers. The rest of the wedding went on without the host and many people preferred it that way.




18 January 869




“Oh my! My head hurts so much! Melderick, what was I doing last night?!”

Duke Robert came out of his bedroom, dressed quite clumsily and looking as if he had a head- on collision with a carriage. He noticed Melderick hanging around in the hall.

“Ah, your Majesty, what a night that was!” He then added, sounding concerned. “Don’t you remember anything?”

“After you dragged me to the kitchen, everything’s a blur. Something about a curse, Egypt…. Probably a drunken rambling, am I right?”

“You’re absolutely right, your Majesty!” Melderick preferred not to tell him the whole truth. “But I’ve spoken with…. Ah, court medicus…. and he said you might experience this kinds of attacks sometimes. He called it…..” Melderick rustled his brain really hard to acquire every bit of medical knowledge he has heard of “Trachoma! I think that’s what he called it.”

“Huh. I’ll keep that in mind. Tell me, have I said anything embarrassing during that time?”

“Ehm….” Melderick decided to change the subject.” How’s the duchess, my Lord? You haven’t mentioned her yet.”

“Ah, Gisele? I woke up next to her this morning. I can’t remember anything, but she seemed rather pleased.”

“That’s wonderful, my Liege! One more step to building up your Dynasty!”



“What dynasty? There are more important things at hand right now! At this very moment, the descendants of my Uncle are polluting Egypt with their vile rule! They need to be stopped!”

Melderick looked at the Duke with bewilderment. “What do you speak of…. Oh, it’s you again…”

“In what tone are you addressing your Lord and Master, fool?! Am I to school your bottom until you’ll roll on the floor?”

“Nah, I’d rather not, egh, your Majesty. I was just getting hopeful that this Pharaoh business was just a drunken rambling….”

“Well, too bad! I’m staying here. Though, to be honest, I don’t think that’s the best of options… Still, I’m not going anywhere until I’m crowned the true and righteous King of Egypt!”

“….that’s not going to happen.”

“What now?! My uncle is a devious person, but I am the rightful Pharaoh! The people will recognize me!”

“Ehm…. How to put it mildly…. There weren’t Pharaohs in Egypt since…. Well, ah….. It’s embarrassing, but I don’t know. You’d need to ask someone more knowledgeable than me.”

“Ah! So hard for a useful servant these days… very well, I shall procure my scribe…”

“Ah, maybe I will do that for you, your Majesty?” Melderick asked. He really did not want him to bother the scribe with his ramblings, as he might get suspicious.
“Very well. Make yourself useful.”

Melderick left, sneering at the arrogant buffoon who just happened to be his liege. He was hoping that it would be easy enough to convince the scribe that Duke Robert has a craving for historical knowledge.

He really wanted this to become a secret.



28 April 869



“In the meantime, Melderick (that was your name, right?), what can I do to increase my splendor?” Duke Robert, who was in his Pharaoh phase right now, asked Melderick for advice, never a good move to be sure.

“Well, brutal conquest is always a good option.”

“Great! Who should be my target? Egypt?”

“Whoa! Not so fast, your majesty! Let’s start with someone easier. Do you have any claims we could use?”

“Ah, claims! The Chancellor said they are in the cupboard…” He reached for a cupboard labeled “CLAIMS, DISPUTES AND PETITIONS FOR HORSE BREEDING”
“Ah, here it is! A claim on a county of Venaissin! A strong one at that!”



“Very well, my Duke. As it happens to be, the Count of Venaissin is your vassal!”

“Really? I can declare war on him then?”

“Unfortunately, no, feudal obligations and such. But you could revoke his title! You have a claim so it shouldn’t upset anyone!”

“So what are we waiting for! Revoke the county!”



“You can’t do that, your majesty…”

“What? But why?”

“Apparently, the laws of Burgundy do not allow title revocations.”



“Okay, give me one good reason to care about the laws of the country that isn’t even on this sodding map!” He said while throwing the map off the table.

“The country doesn’t exist, but the crown belongs to the ruler of East Francia. Since we de jure belong to Burnundy, we need to abide their laws.”

“Holy Ra! This is so convoluted! I’m going back to the history books.”

“All right. Have a nice reading my Duke!” He waved Robert off, content to have a few moments of peace.






The convoluted family relations of the Karlings, while merely annoying for our Pharaoh, proved to be much more deadly for minor European rulers. As the Duke of Brittany learned, while the Karlings could be bickering most of the time, they could always find the time to pick on someone weaker.



Meanwhile, as it was now certain that Duke Robert’s condition was more serious than anyone though, Melderick and Chef Arnold decided to take precautions in case things get ugly.

They decided that the best course of action would be to surround Arles with even more walls to prepare for the inevitable siege.





21 January 871



Two years after the incident, things were returning to relative normal in the castle of Arles. Duke Robert’s antics were more or less accepted by then and the threat of sudden and horrible death was staved off, at least for now.

Melderick was sitting outside the Duke’s bedroom, ready to hear more of his ramblings or do some kind of mundane task for him. To his surprise, though, the one walking out the door was not Robert, but the Duchess.

“Duchess Gisele! It’s wonderful to see you today!” Melderick wasn’t just saying that to be nice- the sight of Duchess Gisele was the best thing that happened to him that week- though, comparing to his wife, almost every woman would look like a paragon of beauty and goodness by comparison.

“Good morning to you too, Melderick. Though, shouldn’t you be with my husband right now?”

“Ah, I was looking for the Duke right now, honestly. Wasn’t he with you?”


“He left pretty early in the morning, probably to read more books.”

“Ah, I forgot that he does that now.” Unsure what to say, he decided to ask her about her opinion about Robert. “So, my Duchess, what do you think about Duke Robert?”

“Huh, that’s weird question. You’re not spying on his behalf, are you?” She looked at his suspiciously.

“Not at all! He never would give such a task to me. He doesn’t have a very high opinion of my skills.”

“Then why does he keep you around? Anyway, he seems all right. He proved himself to be a competent ruler so far. If anything, though, he might be too soft. I heard he allowed for an unsanctioned marriage between two courtiers. I would’ve never agreed for such a thigh myself.”



Melderick was silent. Gisele’s mean streak was a well known thing in the salons of Italy. He preferred not to give her more ammunition to wail on him. He had enough of it with Robert.

“Tell me one more thing, though…” The Duchess continued. “That obsession with Egypt…. Was he always like that?”

“Ah…. Uh, yes, my Lady!” Melderick opted for a quickly forged lie. “Ever since he was a child. I thought he was inspired by his late uncle, who made quite a few trips to Egypt.”

“That’s why he’s studying the history of Egypt almost every day?”



“Indeed, your highness. I’ve heard he wants to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and make a side trip to Egypt one day….. is that a problem, the Egypt thing?”
“*sigh* I guess not, though I would prefer if he didn’t spend his savings on ancient sarcophagi and other junk. But I guess that’s his money…”

“I suppose so, your highness. Do you require anything else from your humble servant?”

“No, Melderick. You can go back to peasanting or whatever you peasants do.”

She returned to her bedroom. The long string of whispered curses uttered by Melderick was heard by no one but him, and he intended to keep it that way.




11 April 871



“Good morning, my Melderick! Fine day, isn’t it?”

“Ah, good morning, my Pharaoh!”

He looked at him suspiciously. “How did you know that it’s me this time?”

“It has gotten easier with time- for instance, you’re not insulting me nearly as much as real Robert. Anyway, how was your day, my Liege?”

“Fantastic! I’ve received a letter from the King of Italy- he wants me to be his Chancellor!”



“Uh- oh…”

“What was that?”

“Uh, nothing….” In truth, Melderick was more than a little worried about this proposal- after all, it gave the Duke/ Pharaoh more chances to embarrass himself.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to increase my standing! It is incredible what these Italians managed to do in all those years! Think about it- to build such a powerful Empire, one that would dwarf even the accomplishments of Alexander himself!”

“I see you’ve been hitting them books again, my Liege?”



“Indeed. I’ve completed it all up to the rise of the Byzantine Empire. In fact, I have only one more chapter to finish. I think it something about some Arabs…. Is it important?”

Melderick tried to avoid a straight answer. “I…. don’t really know.”

“Bah…. It’s probably not worth knowing. What impact can a bunch of nomads have on a world anyway? I have to go, Melderick. See you later!”


“Later, my Liege.”




1 May 871



“Don’t talk to me right now, Melderick. I don’t want to live.”

“What’s wrong, your Majesty?” Melderick was surprised by the sudden outburst of his liege.

“I’ve read everything about the history of Egypt. It’s gone…. It’s all gone. The legacy of my ancestors…. All that splendor….. even my hair……” He started sobbing. “Throughout the years, my home was ruled by foreigners. Persians, Romans, Greeks, these Arab guys…. Egypt is no more. It’s merely a geographical expression.”

Melderick was about to make a remark about the Ptolemids being foreigners as well, but he didn’t want to upset Robert any further- or risk a beating.
“Now, now, my Duke, it isn’t all bad, right? At least you’ve learned a lot about history.”



“It’s true….but what is it worth now?” He stopped for a minute, then his humour skyrocketed. “Wait, I know! There is one last true Egyptian- me! I bet when I get to be hailed as the Pharaoh, I can restore things!”

“That’s fine and all, my Pharaoh, but how exactly are you going to accomplish that?”

“By sailing there?” Duke Robert tried the easiest approach.

“Nice try, but the Egyptian sultan has about ten thousand troops at his command and even considering that somehow you manage to dethrone him, you will be forced out, either by the locals or the Muslim neighbors.”

“That’s bad news! Think, Melderick! I need more power! But how to accomplish that? I only have one claim that I can’t press!”

“You could always try to conquer lands outside your realm….”

“I can do that? But what about the claims? I thought I needed them.”

“Claims can be…. Arranged….”

‘Perfect! Let’s ‘arrange’ it, then!”

“I won’t stop you, my Liege!”

Duke Robert was eager to storm out of the room to find his chancellor. Melderick, meanwhile, was eager to be left alone.




The year 871 brought many changes to the land of Italy. First, a new merchant republic was bor in the city of Genoa, hoping to overcome the rule of Venice and Amalfi.



In more sad news, Pope Nicholas has passed away and was succeeded by Felix IV, one of the youngest on history.



At the beginning of 872, a new law was passed that instituted tighter feudal laws in the kingdom of Italy. While it seemed like a good idea at first, King Louis would come to regret it later, as we’ll learn.







18 August 872




“Melderick, I have succeeded! My first forg…. I mean, completely legitimate and obtained in a legal manner claim is here!”



“That’s wonderful, your Majesty. I would suggest hanging it on the wall, but I’m afraid it’s already obscured by paintings of cow dung.”

“What’s up with you today? Am I to have the guards slap you to get you to behave?”

“Oh, believe me, your Majesty, anything the guards could’ve done to me would be an improvement… It’s about my wife, you see.”

“What, she left you?”

“No, she came back.” He sighed heavily. “I thought coming back late piss drunk with two prostitutes was enough to drive her away….”

“Maybe you need to try harder, then?”

“No. I’m not going through the hell she got me through…. How’s your life, my Pharaoh? It is the Pharaoh, isn’t it?”

“I’m fine, really. I haven’t done much today, to be honest. The Chancellor was bothering me about some kind of Viking invasion in England, though. I don’t see what these savages might have to do with anything. Oh well…”




“You know, my Liege, if I could ask to sleep in the castle for a couple of days…”

“Only in the stables, though.”

“Deal”

“You know, Melderick…. I’ve been thinking…”

“Uh- oh…”

“Don’t start with me again! Anyway…. About this Egyptian idea….. I’ve been remembering the words of the curse bestowed upon me. If I’m not mistaken…. Taking my place as a rightful ruler of Egypt would release me from this prison.” He said while pointing at the necklace.

“Then you can have your revenge against your uncle?”

“Forget my uncle! Ammil devoured his heart long ago and his spawn is all but history. But I, I can make history! And if I have my way…. And by Ra I will….. The world shall see… the Return of the Pharaoh!”



“How was it, Melderick?”

“Ah, it was not bad actually. I especially liked the ending. I’ve heard about this ‘title- drop’ thing, or whatever it’s called.”

“Ah, you’re rambling again. Get out of my sight!”

“As you wish, PharaohDuke.”




11 October 873



The afternoon was quite chilly in Arles, but it didn’t discourage Duke Robert, who was in his normal self that time. He was walking down the corridor when he bumped into, who else, Melderick.

“Oh! Melderick, by God, be more careful! This coat was recently washed!”

“I’m sorry, your majesty! I’ll be going now!”

“Wait! I might get some use out of you. I swear, everyone is avoiding me for some reason. Take Leone, for example: he never stops to talk to me, always having an excuse! Preposterous!”



“Well, not everyone can manage to speak up in the presence of a duke such as you, your Highness!”

“Oh, I swear, Melderick, if you go anywhere higher up my ass, I’ll need a help of a smithy to get you out.”

“Right… Ahem, have you heard, your majesty? Some kind of rampant horde is loose in the lands of Italy!”

“What? What kind of foul heathens….”

“Well, I’ve heard they are Orthodox rebels, my liege.”



“Orthodox rebels? What business do they have in Italy?”

“I’ve heard they are rebelling from the Aghlabids in Sicily. Lacking any more land to grab, they are travelling to Africa.”



‘To Africa, by foot? Godspeed to them. Anything else happening?”

“I think you’ve received a letter, your majesty.”

“And you’re mentioning this now? Gah, Melderick, I swear you’re the worst servant ever!”

Duke Robert ran towards his office. Indeed, on the table there was a sealed envelope.

“Meklderick, have I mentioned that you may come with me? I didn’t, but you can stay here anyway…. Wait a minute, something’s not right…”

“What’s the matter, your majesty?”

“The seal is different then I remember….” He opened the envelope and read the letter. “Oh, God!”

“Is it not from the King, my Liege?”

“It is, but from a different king than I remember….”




Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
 

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Chapter 3- Robert the Mildly Successful
Boats are hard to come by in medieval Europe





5 November 873



“Ah, Melderick! This is bad news! Without Louis on the throne, my chances for a climb in social status are ruined! We have to do something!”

Duke Robert was sitting in his office along with his servant. The sudden change in leadership has caused quite a stir amongst the Italian nobility and Robert was exchanging letters with the other Dukes, trying to find the best solution.

“With all respect, your Majesty, but how are you going to do that? I don’t suppose asking King Pepin to step down will work.”

“Oh, shut up. Think, you thickhead!..... I know!” He quickly reached out for a parchment and a quill. “That’s genius! If I send letters to other dukes asking for assistance in getting Louis back on the throne…”



“My Duke, pardon my ignorance, but didn’t the Dukes vote for overthrowing King Louis just recently? Why would they have him back on the throne?”

“Ah, Melderick, you don’t understand anything. It’s a duty of a vassal to question his liege’s ability to rule, and look for an alternative!”

‘So, basically the Dukes will rebel for no reason other than rebellion itself? Pardon me, my Duke, but it seems foolish to me.”

“That’s why I’m the Duke of Provence and you’re a dung gatherer, Melderick! Now, pardon me, I have letters to send!”

“Excuse me again, my liege, but didn’t the King make you his Seneschal recently?”



Robert gave him a look. “He did? Why didn’t I know that?”


“You were….” He begun but he soon realized that Robert was in his ‘altered’ state when he received the letter from King Pepin. He had to rephrase that. “Ah, it might’ve slipped your mind somehow.”

“Weird. A lot of decisions I make seems to go over my head. Like this, for instance.” He pointed at the figurine on his desk. “Melderick, what in Hell is that thing?!”

“Apparently it’s a Sphinx, my Lord.”

Robert looked upon the figurine with disdain. He had ordered the figurine made as his pharaoh persona some time ago. Unfortunately, the only woodworker they could find was only experienced in making planks, bent planks at that. Furthermore, the Pharaoh’s memory of the famous landmark of Egypt was a bit rusty, so he could only provide a vague description. As a result, the mighty Sphinx looked more like a cross between an old lady and that annoying cat the cleaning lady owns.

“Ah, that Egyptian thing? Disgusting. Why doesn’t it have a nose?”

“Apparently some fat bloke from Brittany chipped it off, or so I’ve heard.”

“Gah. Put it on a shelf somewhere, far from my sight. And while we’re at it, put yourself out of my sight for the time being. I’m busy.”

Melderick left the room. When alone, Robert muttered to himself:


“I need to find out what the hell does the seneschal do before I visit the King…”





27 November 873



Duke Robert woke up in overwhelming darkness, feeling as if his body was buried underneath ten feet of earth. His head was hurting like never before and all of his limbs were heavy as if made of lead.

“Oh, what terrible fate has befallen on me! Am I dead, sentenced to purgatory or worse? Melderick!” He shouted while throwing his hands blindly upwards.

“Melderick, where are you?”

“I’m here, my Lord. Could you please stop feeling up my face?”



“Oh, you’re here? So why is there so dark?”

“It would be a good idea to open up your eves, my Liege."

“Ah, yes, they were hurting so much.... “ Duke Robert managed to open his eyes, though upon seeing his servant, he almost wish he didn’t. With great effort, he got up upon his bed.

“What happened to me?”

“Wine happened, that’s what. You’ve been drinking whole night with Berenger, your Chancellor. I’m actually impressed. Not many people are able to drink three whole bottles by himself. It’s almost as you had Viking ancestors.”

“Yeah, yeah…. I’m trying to remember anything from that night…. But everything’s blurry…” He went silent for a minute. “Wait…. I remember Berenger storming out of my room, clearly angry. Why did he get so upset, I wonder?”

“Oh, I spoke with the Chancellor this morning. Or, should I say, former chancellor…”

“What? Former Chancellor? Did he resign?”

“No, my Liege. You’ve replaced him. With a horse. It wasn’t even a joke, you’ve signed papers and all.”



“What?! My God, I need to reverse it right now! I need to find Berenger right now….” He stormed out of the room. “Still, I wonder what was it that got me so drunk…. Oh, wait, I think I remember….”





14 May 874




“Duke Robert, some of the majors are disagreeing with the taxation policies employed in your lands. They ask you to lower them.”



“Ah, my Steward. Our taxes are already lower than in some duchies. Surely the majors are overreacting. Send them a very nice letter, I hope things will clear out soon.”

“Yes, Duke Robert.”


The Steward left.

“See, Melderick? Kind words will solve the problem with no problem most of the time. Anyway, let’s think about our ability to expand. Will we be able to attack Arbolea anytime soon?”

“Well, there might be some problems with that, my Pharaoh.”

“Problems? What nonsense are you talking about again?”

“Don’t you know, my Liege? King Pepin has recently declared a de Jure war for Arborea itself. You’re a Chancellor, surely you should know that.”



“Holy Ra! I didn’t realize that it was my province it was all about!”

“Well, it’s not necessarily your province yet, my Liege…”

“Shut it, fool! We need to declare our won war! We can do it, right?”



“Yes, my Pharaoh, but consider that we don’t…”

“No more excuses! I order the war right now!”


“*sigh* As you wish, my Liege.”





19 July 874




Duke Robert, as should we say, Pharaoh Robert, was prancing around his castle, very happy with himself.

“Melderick, how are my troops doing?”

“They are spending their times in inns and brothels, as usual, my Lord.”

“What? Why do they do that? They should be fighting in Sardinia!”

“Well, that’s the kind of thing you should expect when you have no ships, my Liege…”


“What? Melderick, why didn’t you tell me that beforehand?”

“I tried, my Pharaoh, but you wouldn’t listen…”

“Holy Ra, always surrounded by tossers…. What will I conquer now?”

When they were conversing, Duchess Gisele approached them, wearing a very curious smile.

“My Lord, can I have your word for a minute?”

“Of course, my dear. What do you require of me?”

The Duchess came closer to the Duke and whispered a few words into his ear. Robert’s reaction was quite interesting- he whimpered and fell on the floor.

“My Duke….. what happened to you?”

Duchess Gisele laughed. “Oh, that’s quite a reaction. I understand, though. Not every day does a man hear that he’ll be a father…”



Melderick looked upon the Duke with amazement.

“Duke Robert….. a father? How did that even happen?”


The world, it seems, is full of surprises.






The year of 874 would bring a major turbulence in the usually stable Karling realm. The source of those trouble was, as it usually is, in Germany.

King Ludwig of East Francia have managed to generate a lot of support for his rule, eventually passing a law of increasing the Crown Authority in the Kingdom of Burgundy.



He then proceeded to use this power to press his claim upon King Pepin of Italy, thus beginning the East Francian war for Italy.



The consequences of this conflict could be severe for the entire region, though Duke Robert had more local concerns to deal with….





18 September 874


“Melderick, this is a big day! With the King of East Francia raising the authority in Burgundy, we can finally press our claim on Venaissin! No more shall I be restricted!”

“That’s great, my Liege, though I think that Count Angilbotto won’t cede his title without a fight.”



“That’s even better! I will gladly fight for what’s rightfully mine! Let us make the preparations…”




Indeed, Count Angilbotto reacted rather impulsively to Duke Robert’s request, thus beginning a rebellion.



Duke Robert decided to lead his troops personally- though to his disdain, no one could find a war chariot for him, so he had to make do with a horse.
Provencal troops encountered minimal resistance during their siege of Orange, thus victory was always guaranteed.





26 October 874



Duke Robert was sitting in his tent in the campsite, looking upon the map. As of now, everything was proceeding smoothly and the castle should fall sometime next year. While he was happy with the progress, he was also distressed about not seeing his wife and not seeing Melderick as well. Though he was irritating sometimes, most times in fact, Duke Robert couldn’t deny that he grew attached to this dirty peasant. It certainly was very quiet without him.

His thoughts were interrupted by a messenger.

“Duke Robert, I bring important messages!”

“Is that so? Show them, then!”

Robert read them all. The first one was about the war between the Karling kings- a war that was about to reach a naw phase, as the kings of Bavaria and Lotharingia have joined it on opposite sides.



The last message filled him with sadness- it was about a death of his royal servant, Chancellor Berenger, the one he almost replaced with a horse.



This was saddening, not only because Robert was good friends with Berenger, but also because he would be very hard to replace. He would have to look into it when he gets back.




The siege went on and people were getting weary of not seeing their families for so long, however they pushed on, knowing that the end is near. In February, Duke Robert had one more reason to get back quickly- his son was just born.





Duke Robert was very pleased with finally having a son. His wife proposed to name him Jean and he didn’t mind the idea- picking names wasn’t his strong side.

The Castle of Orange finally fell in July of 875.



Seeing his castle fall, Count Angilbotto had no choice but to surrender.



Duke Robert was successful.






17 August 875


Duke Robert have recently returned to his castle after his victory in Venaissin.

“Ah, Melderick, what a wonderful year! I have a son and an heir, Vanaissin finally has a ruler whose name can be pronounced by an average person and I’ve gained a new title! You will see, the Ptolemids will rise again!”

“Indeed, sire, but you’ll need much more than three counties to impress the Tulunids.”

“Bah! Patience, Melderick, we will get there in time! We just need a space to expand. Now, where could I find easy conquest targets….”

 

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I just thought of a joke regarding Robert so prepare for the lameosity of my joke. Behold, the Pharaoh Ra-Bert!
 

drSandworm

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I just thought of a joke regarding Robert so prepare for the lameosity of my joke. Behold, the Pharaoh Ra-Bert!
Hey, that's a good one! Shame I won't have the opportunity to use it though (shh, spoilers!)

Yay, an update! And expansion, too!
New land is always welcome!


New update coming Soon. Not Blizzard Soon, though, hopefully.
 

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Chapter 4- Robert the Slightly Dead
Titles with spoilers are the best titles.






Duke Robert of Burgundy could say he had somewhat mixed luck in terms of wars. On one hand, his seizure of Vanaissin was a total success. However, due to lack of ships, his conquest of Arborea ended without conclusion and the province was now a vassal of Italy instead of Robert’s property. It wasn’t all bad though, as it meant that his claim on the province would be inherited by his successors.



Claim fabrications are a double- edged sword, however.




7 October 876



Melderick was about to begin his daily service to Duke Robert and although he was grateful that he won’t see his wife until evening, it meant possibly coping with the pompous Pharaoh. He could probably write a pretty good dictionary entry for ‘mixed feelings’ based on his experiences, if only he was literate and dictionaries existed back then.

He was just outside the doors of Duke Robert’s room and he noticed that said doors were opened. Against his better judgment and common manners, he decided to look inside.

Duke Robert was conversing with his Chancellor, the Bishop of Aix. Melderick was unable to pick up everything but Robert seemed distressed.

“That bastard! Claiming he has some kind of right to my territories?! Preposterous!”

“As I said, my Duke, the Duke of Dauphine is unable to press his claims in any realistic fashion right now. However, if King Ludwig wins the war, he might be able to after all.”





“He won’t get away with this! Obviously no one will believe his laughable forged documents.”

“Says the person who fabricated claims to two counties already….” Melderick quipped, unfortunately loud enough for Duke Robert to hear him, fortunately not loud enough for him to understand what he was saying.

“Ah, Melderick, always irritating and arriving unexpected. You are like diarrhea in that regard.”

“Is someone trying to nick your lands, my Duke?”

“That’s a blunt way of saying that, as fitting for you, but yes. Don’t worry, though, we are safe for now.”

“Speaking of, I think I saw a suspicious fellow asking around the castle about some documents and such.”



“Another one? Bishop, do we have any way of dealing with him?”


“I suppose tying him up and drowning him in the bay will suffice?”

“Perfect. Arrange it right now.”






8 October 876


“Duke Robert, I have some good news! The perpetrator has been found and dealt with accordingly.”



“Great news! Now everyone will know not to mess with Duke Robert!”

“Also, our envoy from the Pope has returned. He wishes you all the best and hopes you’ll serve the Church well.”



“Great! Now everyone will see how pious and honorable I am!”

“Ehm, my liege, aren’t those two things kind of conflicting with each other?”

“Not at all, Melderick! As the Book says, you should not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Or something like that, possibly. Anyway, be kind to your people and ruthless to your enemies, that’s my motto.”

“That’s sound pretty unhealthy for your psyche, my Liege.”

“Nonsense, Melderick. I can handle things like that, I’m a born ruler!” Duke Robert turned his attention towards his chancellor. “Dear Alain, I want you to go to Calgiari as fast as possible. You are to find a way to press a claim on the county.”


“As you wish, my Duke.”






22 March 877




‘You see, Melderick? My Chancellor succeeded in less than six months! I have now a claim on Calgiari!”



“What’s the obsession with Sardinia anyway, your Majesty?”

“What?! It’s a piece of land ripe for conquest! Besides, it’s one step closer to Egypt, my true destiny!”

“Ah…..” Melderick glanced at the ceiling. “I’ve been reminded of something, my Liege. Some guy called Leon de Cavaillon has arrived at our court. He claims he’ll be a better marshal than your current pick, my Liege.”



“I see….. I’ll ask about him and evaluate his candidature. Meanwhile, Melderick, don’t you have latrines to clean?”

“Yes, my Lord, but…”

“Then get right to it! I’m busy!”




After his incredible luck in Calgiari, Robert has sent his chancellor to Capua to fabricate claims there. Unfortunately for both him and Robert, he was soon recognized and disappeared in suspicious circumstances.



Robert was forced to appoint a new chancellor. This one was named Boson Bosonid. Though other than proving that the French nobility has no imagination when it comes to naming their children, he was quite capable in almost any field.





Despite this small setback, Duke Robert was quite confident in his prowess.
Perhaps a bit too confident.





19 September 878



Melderick was rarely seeing Robert during the past few months. The Duke has locked himself in his office, working on battle plans, ways to improve the castle, strategies, ways to make the most impressive battle carriage and other things. He was seriously getting worried about him.

He became even more worried when he entered his chamber to deliver some food. Duke Robert was but a shade of his former self- he lost quite a bit of weight and coupled with the giant shades underneath his eyes, looked almost like a skeleton.

“My Liege, breakfast is ready.”

Duke Robert sighed heavily. “Thank you, Melderick, but I’m not hungry right about now.”

Melderick was really concerned, not because of his rejection, but because he thanked him. “Are you all right, my Liege?”

“Oh, Melderick, I feel like the world is crashing down on my head! I have all these plans and ambitions and little of ways to realize them! On top of that, the castle is being filled with all sorts of pseudo- Egyptian garbage, allegedly by my own command, but I don’t remember ordering any of this! Something is seriously wrong, Melderick.”



“Don’t fret, my Liege! I heard that Chancellor Boson is returning from Capua with a brand new claim! You like to collect them, don’t you, my Duke?”



Robert sighed yet again. “Thank you, Melderick, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to press them! The King wants me to march his armies. I have little interest in fighting the Germans right now, but I have to serve my duty….”

“Don’t worry, my Liege. I’m sure this war will end sooner rather than later.”

“Thank you, Melderick. You’ve always been a very good, if mouthy servant. I regret treating you as bad as I did.”


Now Melderick was seriously concerned.






To Melderick’s horror, Robert’s health was only getting worse. The flu he caught a while ago has exacerbated and he was forced to march out while ill.



His wife and son were worried about his safety, especially after the old Spymaster Boson the Older has died. A replacement was found but will he be trustworthy?”







1 October 879




Melderick was concerned when he was called upon by the Duke to arrive at his encampment in the Alps. He was given no details, but Robert adviced him to go as fast s he could.

The journey was long and tedious but finally they arrived at the army camp. Robert was lying in his tent in even worse shape than before.

“Ah, Melderick, I’m glad you came. You see….” He coughed. “I’m really not feeling too good right now….”

“Should I send for a medic, my Liege?”

“No, I doubt there would be anything he could do. Besides, after I disgraced myself in that last battle, I don’t deserve any help.”



“Don’t say that, your Majesty! You saved the lives of your people!”

“Maybe, but now I’m in no shape to fight….. It seems….” He coughed again. “It seems that I won’t realize the dream of the Pharaoh after all….”

“So….. is this the Pharaoh who’s speaking?”

Roberto coughed. “Yes….. or maybe no….. everything seems blurry now….. Please, Melderick, take me home….”





When they arrived at Arles, the Duke was barely conscious. There was nothing the court medici could do to help his situation.



Duke Robert of Provence died 11 of October, 879, leaving a grieving wife and a four year old heir.





14 October 879



The funeral of Duke Robert has ended and people were leaving the royal crypt to get on with their lives. Melderick was sitting in the deceased Duke’s office. He was still a servant, but his liege was now a four year old child. He was unsure how to react to all of that.


One thing was certain, though- that damned necklace has to go. Melderick still wasn’t convinced whether or not this story with the Pharaoh was true and frankly he did not care. He had to get rid of it just to be safe.

He entered the royal bedroom. He knew that the servants hid all of Robert’s jewelry in his drawer. He just had to get to them, and do so without raining suspicion.

However, once he arrived, he saw one person he definitely didn’t want to see there.

“Jean? What are you doing here, ehm, sir? Weren’t you supposed to be in your room?”

“I was, sir Melderick, but see what I found in dad’s locker! Cool, huh?”

Melderick looked upon the young Duke and saw him decorated with his father’s bling, including….”

“Oh, no…. Jean, take off this necklace right now!”

It was too late, though. Little Duke was caught in a sort of fit, reminiscent of an epileptic attack. It lasted only a while, though, and soon he regained his senses.


“Ah, alive again! I knew someone will find the necklace again!..... wait a minute….. why am I so short? And why is my voice so squeaky! By Ra, I’m a little kid! Melderick, what has become of me!”



“Oh, God, it’s happening again….”
 

DKM

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:rofl: The "Mighty" Pharaoh is a 4 year old!
 

drSandworm

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:rofl: The "Mighty" Pharaoh is a 4 year old!
Yeah, I admit, it was a bit unexpected and a little funny. Though the Pharaoh probably isn't too happy with that situation.