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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

robou

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Sons of Santiago



Hello, one and all, and welcome to my new AAR, Sons of Santiago. I have returned from a long hiatus from AARland and have decided to start writing again. I hope I will see some old faces, and many new ones during the course of this AAR. I will not tell you much of what this story is about, or where it is set. I will let it all unfold, but there should be SOME clues in the title. I will tell you, however, that it is not based on gameplay. This will be purely narrative (although I may throw in a few historybook style indices to give greater insight into what is going on, much in the style of Director's 'A Special Providence' which has served as a great beacon of inspiration for me). Also, for those of you who know me and my... erratic style of writing and updating, you'll be pleased to hear I have broken with tradition and this is a story that is fully scripted, chapter-ed and planned. Anywho, without further ado, onwards with story time. Enjoy!





Contents

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III

Part I
Part II





 
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Chapter I




The door creaked open and two shadowy figures stepped in. A brace of candles on a table struggled to light the dim room. The walls were barren, no tapestry or paintings to hide the naked wood and plaster, and cobwebs gathered in the corners on the timbers. Two murky silhouettes hovered in the middle of the room; standing... waiting... watching. Steady rain pitter-pattered on the window through which could be seen the menacing, damp stony streets of a town. The distant rumble of thunder echoed through the panes. The dark had come quickly that winter’s night, and all for the best for the faint shades that lurked inside. The streets were quiet, no one daring to risk catching a colpo d’aria in the damp and the cold. This suited them well. The only sound was that of the rain, and the thunder and the slow, dreadful snapping as the building slowly shrank with the bitter chill. The figures fell to their knees and bowed their heads in reverence before the shades standing in front of them, and one replied by stretching out its arm gracefully towards them.

“Holy father” they both whispered as they kissed the large ring on the shades’ hand. They both breathed heavily and deep, the condensation collecting on their bowed foreheads.

“Carlo, my son, rise... please” a low, gravelly voice beckoned them. The two men rose to their feet as the voice commanded them. “Please” the voice continued, as the arm ushered them forward, “sit with me, me amici.” They moved towards the light, where the candles sat on a table at the back of the room. The shades moved to the other side and beckoned the two men to sit on theirs. The four of them all sat together, quiet, ghostly. Now in the light, the shades could be seen, one dressed in expensive white and gold raiment, clearly a clergyman, and the other in the black and white of a lawyer. The four men sat there in silence as their eyes adjusted to the light. Carlos rasped his hands on top of the old wooden table and suddenly spoke in grand, but hushed tones.

“Your Holiness, please allow me to introduce José Garcia Felipe de Calderón Jiménez.” He ushered to the man seated on his left, who duly bowed his head again. “Felipe is my closest advisor, and the man who will assist me in our vision.”

“Your majesty, in turn, allow me to introduce signore Montolivo, who is my personal secretary, and an avid supporter of our proposed plan” uttered the man in white. Montolivo swiftly rose to his feet, although one would barely tell the difference, and bowed, but said nothing. “I must also apologise to you, Infante, for the horrible weather and our setting.” He paused before quickly looking around him and raising his hands slightly. “The weather is not usually this inclement in Orvieto, not even in the winter.” A small, lopsided smile crept its way up his aged and wrinkled cheeks. Despite his fine clothing his face was haggard and tired. “But, I am afraid that the signore here,” he turned to scowl at Montolivo before continuing, “suggested it was simply too dangerous to hold such a meeting in Rome, where the enemy’s spies would suspect us to be. I...” he looked down cautiously, “I am inclined to agree with him. This is a very dangerous business we deal in, hence why we can only now trust ourselves to conduct it.”

“Holy Father, there is no need to apologise” Carlos replied. “Not only do we both understand the gravity of this situation, but both Felipe and I have spent the past year in the Pyrenees. This is next to luxury for us.” He smiled reassuringly. “But, all formalities aside, I feel we must talk of business. Time is of the essence, as I am sure the signore will agree.” The priest nodded in agreement. Carlos cleared his throat. “I talk to you now not only in your role as a leader of our faith, but as one temporal ruler to another. Both our nations are under attack from a similar enemy. Liberalism and so called ‘democracy’ is plaguing our people. In Spain, the politicians grow fat off the work of the people. They institute no change and weaken my country while they fill their filthy pockets to bursting points” he spat out. “They have no concept of chivalry or glory.”

“They have no true concept of Spain, su Majestad” came the sincere voice of Felipe, for the first time, though he did not move a muscle. Carlos clenched a fist and nodded, visibly distraught. He took a moment. Anger would do him no good here.

“In Italy, you are faced with a similar problem. Weak kings and powerful neighbours are taking their toll. The French and Austrians treat your land like a plaything for their politics, whilst the people grow more and more angry. Our politicians for you are the foreign governments and their puppet rulers.” He waited for an answer. After a pause for thought and an uncomfortable readjustment in his chair, the priest replied.

“It is true, and the people of Italy are sick and tired of it all. I have grown old with the pains and burden of rule. If we will not sort it out, I am certain the people will sort it out themselves!” The priest threw an arm into the air, despairingly.

“And why not let them, Holy Father?” the calm but collected voice of Felipe pronounced.

“The people are weak” Montolivo said disdainfully. “They may be a mass, and a powerful one, but they are dangerous to themselves. They are open to... new ideas... dangerous ideas. This makes them weak.” Felipe jumped to his feet.

“The people are stronger than you know!” he raised his voice for the first time, pointing a finger at Montolivo. “They are the people we serve and-“ he was cut off with a calming touch to his arm as Carlos beckoned him to sit down. Felipe breathed out heavily and slowly sat back down, but kept his gaze fixed on the Italian lawyer.

“Please forgive my friend's... passion” Carlos said, trying to calm the moment. “What we can all agree on, though, is that these politicians do not serve our people as we will. Something must be done.”

“But what can we do, Carlo?” said the priest, already half-cloaked in defeat. A sly grin crept across Carlos’ face, and the priest cocked his head in interest.

“We will take back Spain. When we have Spain, we will restore the absolute monarchy and do away with the politicians and the Cortes and their precious constitution! With me at the helm, Spain will be strong again. Then we will be free to completely disrupt the balance of Europe. We will restore the Spanish Empire to its former glory, and with this we will serve the Spanish and Italian people what is due to them! We need Your Holiness to be our ally in Italy if we are so save the dearly held principles of absolutism that we and our people so eagerly desire.” Carlos could hardly contain the excitement in his voice as he thumped his chest with pride. Montolivo raised an eyebrow but said nothing, waiting for a reply from his master. The priest rubbed his forehead long and hard, breathing deeply, covering his face and his emotions. He sighed.

“Carlo, my dear old friend...” he paused to gather his words, “I have known you now for many... many years, and did I not know you better, I would say these plans were those of a madman. I am still not sure you realise quite what you are dealing with in Italy, and the power of our opponents.” Carlos sat with open mouth as he listened. “For now, I can promise you nothing.” His face dropped. “But...” he looked back up at the priest, “take Spain, and perhaps then we can have our deal.” Montolivo grinned darkly across at Felipe, whose cheek twitched as he contained his anger. Carlos looked to his companion, but Felipe shook his head. There was no use in fighting any further.

The Spaniards stood up together, and the Italians followed suit. They knelt and kissed the ring of the priest again. Without a word, they both turned and left. They hurriedly walked down the stairs to the guardsman they had left at the door. He bowed as they neared. Carlos headed straight for the door, ignoring everything around him but he twisted round as Felipe’s hand on his shoulder pulled him back. “Majestad.” Felipe kept his voice low but powerful. Carlos looked at the floor. “Carlos!” He raised his head. “Be sure, I will grant you your victory in Spain. We will defeat the Isabellinos and you will restore order and glory to Spain.” From despair, a smile stole across Carlos’ face.

“And then we will show these wretched Italians what we can do, eh?” Carlos beamed with excitement again as he playfully punched Felipe in the shoulder. Felipe smiled weakly. “My dear Felipe, what would I do without you?” He turned quickly to the guardsman. “Is it safe?” The guard nodded. “Vamos, to Spain... to war!”
 
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Salim

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Subscribed! :D
 

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Long live to His Most Catholic Majesty, Emperor Charles V of Spain!
 

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Interesting, i will be following this
 

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Interesting start. Absolutism isn't an aim you see often in V2 AARs.
 

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Restoring the Empire of Spain?

*whistles*

Well, you don't think small, do you? Aside from low population, poor literacy, bad infrastructure, rampant corruption, terrible poverty, an outmoded army and an antiquated navy... I don't see any real problems here. :)

That said, if you could forge an Italo-Spanish alliance, or a Franco-Hispano-Italian alliance, you could probably stand off Germany. Madrid-Paris-Rome - now there's a (slightly bent) REAL axis for you.
 

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Restoring the Empire of Spain?

*whistles*

Well, you don't think small, do you? Aside from low population, poor literacy, bad infrastructure, rampant corruption, terrible poverty, an outmoded army and an antiquated navy... I don't see any real problems here. :)

That said, if you could forge an Italo-Spanish alliance, or a Franco-Hispano-Italian alliance, you could probably stand off Germany. Madrid-Paris-Rome - now there's a (slightly bent) REAL axis for you.
He would first have to unify italy...but taking your points into the action is see no real problem there :rolleyes:
 

robou

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Not an easy mission to complete. There are, and will be, many problems to overcome. Some might not be, some might. But all I'll say is that the real Carlos is very unfortunate he didn't have someone like Felipe at his side ;)
 

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Chapter II



His head covered by a brown hood, Pedro paced forward with short, nervous steps. His cloak trailed along behind him, flicking about in the mud of the street with the same jittery nature as its wearer, just as a skittish horse senses the unease of its master. His deep, dark eyes darted up and around to spy his prize, before ducking away again in shame and fear. He could feel his hands shaking furiously. He ran his tongue over his top teeth before clenching both fists to try and calm himself down. It couldn’t be this hard, a little voice in his head told him. It couldn’t be this hard. Couldn’t be this hard... COULDN’T BE THIS HARD! Frantically, he turned into an alley and braced himself up against the wall. Placing a cheek on the unforgiving stone, he let the cold run through his veins. A heavy breath sent a chill speeding down his spine. He turned impatiently and spread his arms and hands along the crevasses between the stones, leant his head back on the wall and closed his eyes.

“What is the problem?” he rebuked himself gruffly, though his voice was soft. “Just use everything you have learnt, Pedro. It is only a loaf of bread!” He stood, motionless, while he tried to clear his mind of thoughts. Calm he told himself. He felt the pain ease out of his skull. He slowly crept back towards the street and peaked around the corner tentatively. He saw the entrance to the market square. It was quieter than he ever remembered it, though he did not know why. The street he had been on ran into the corner of the plaza, which then opened up into a large space, with Church of Santiago and great meeting hall in the middle, where the elders met; though that had all ended when the soldiers had moved in. He stretched around further to find his target. His eyes lit up like a fire as he saw it: two stalls down from him a baker and his stocks. He leant back and hugged the wall once more. He tilted his head left, then right, then up, and clicked all his fingers. He looked to the sky and reached down into his shirt, pulling out a small silver crucifix. He held it up as far as the chain around his neck would let him. “Forgive me, merciful Father, but you know why I must do this.” He kissed the cross, shoved it back down his shirt and quickly ran his hand in a cross over his chest. Without a further thought, he strode around the corner, his paces no longer than his diminutive legs would let him, but now convinced and confident.

He entered the square. Not long now. His mischievous eyes flitted around endlessly searching for details. There were soldiers; there were always soldiers in the square. A group of three stood close chatting of nothings in boredom. They were a threat, but he would have surprise on his side, and confusion. They wouldn’t pose a problem. There were others further away, but he would be long gone before they knew anything. Straight ahead would be the quickest way out, past the plaza and down towards the river along the Artecalle. Keep forward momentum. He would outpace them, and then he would be free. He nodded in approval of his own plans.

His cloak brushed the stand as he walked past. The seller was deep in heated debate with a customer over his apparent inflated costs. Perfect. A hand reached out under the cloak and snapped at the fat, crusty loaf. He did not stop walking. His eyes, usually so full of life and movement, stuck rigidly staring forward. “Señor!” He ignored the voice behind him, but his paces became faster and panicked. “Thief!” The chill jerked down his spine again. He felt like he had stopped, as if the whole world was peering down at him with disdain and hate and he felt so small, but he had already broken into a run. His hood fell back and his long, dark tousled hair flew as he picked up speed with every step. “Bandido! Alto! ALTO!” came a third warning from behind him, but he was already too far gone. And then he heard the lightning fast whizz and ping as a round passed over his shoulder and hit the wall to his side. He ducked, even though the shot had already passed. The panic in his legs grew as the disbelief in his mind was finally overcome and he realised he was being shot at.

He ran out of the square and into the street. His legs were in control. People hurriedly parted as he interrupted their daily business with his escape. As they did, he saw down the channel that was forming more soldiers heading from the other direction. So stupid! Of course there would be patrols down the Zazpikaleak... all seven streets! More panic set in. He was trapped. He was a dead man. It was all in vain. He stood there, hopeless, and the people around stood motionless similarly in confusion and dread as they tried to work out what had happened to their previously peaceful day. He paced left and right and left again, and then submissively knelt down on the muddy cobbles. Those around him stood in wonder as he began to pray. He reached for the crucifix, removed it hurriedly his neck and lifted it above him in his right hand and looked into the sky. “Merciful Father, please make it quick and painless. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti...” His left hand had just made the third point of the cross on his chest when his lips stopped abruptly and he realised he was not trapped at all. There was sudden calm in his mind, and he smiled inside. He kissed the cross and hung it back in its rightful place and jumped to his feet.

A gasp rose from the crowd as he thrust himself towards the walls of the street and, using his speed and a leg on the wall as a base, propelled himself upwards and grabbed onto the first window frame he could. He pulled himself up and placed firm feet on the ledge. The soldiers were closing in, he could hear them. He dare not look back, so instead he started on his ascent. They watched from below as, with consummate ease, he hauled himself up the side of the building, using every nook and cranny, every ledge and masonry hole. His arms and legs burnt with the exertion, but he felt so alive, so vital. But as he reached the summit, he noticed that the roof extended out over the street, and he would have to leap backwards several feet into the air to grab on. If he missed, he was as good as dead. He stopped and waited. Below, the soldiers who had gathered at the base of the climb bawled out evil laughter as they realised that their culprit’s escape was over. They waited with bated breath for the villain to fall or climb down to give himself up, though they didn’t much care which option he took.

A tear worked its way down his cheek. He closed his eyes, and thought of his father, lying now destitute and hungry, waiting patiently, quietly, for his son’s return. “Use everything you have learned, Pedro...” the voice spoke with a softness and serenity. He leapt into the darkness that awaited him, and, blindly, felt his hands being ripped on harsh terracotta. Blood filled his palms, but he held on with the thought of his father. He squeezed deep and hard, and with a final effort of his tired limbs, hauled himself up. First his elbows crawled on to the ledge, then his legs followed one after the other, and he thumped his whole frame down on the roof with a thud. Relief ran through his body like warm water washing away the mud and pain. His mouth gaped open, with no effort left to close it, but dimples in his cheeks betrayed a thankful smile. He lay there for minutes, ignorant of the commotion below on the streets, happy simply to be alive. With much clicking and groaning, he rolled over and onto his hands and knees. Slowly he rose to his feet, his mouth still open, but now only in awe of the beautiful new world he found himself in above the homes and shops.

He looked out over the town he had grown up in, as if he were standing on one of the peaks that surrounded it. The terracotta roofs stretched as far as he could see. In the east, the snow capped Artxanda stood vigil over the town below. The sun rays glinted off the slow flowing waters of the Rio Ibaizabal as it made its lazy and winding way into the Bahía de Vizcaya. The sun leisurely began to set behind the hills of El Regato. And as the sun went down over Bilbao, Pedro could not help feeling, amidst his relief and joy, a strange feeling of foreboding about future... a menace. But he let it slide for now. He buckled himself back onto the terracotta and looked out on the beauty of his home while he rested his tired bones for the descent back.





 
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Viden

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Misterious update, indeed.

One thing, in Spanish exclamations need this symbol: "¡", at the start of the sentence plus the usual "!".

PS: Another, the Bay of Biscay is "Bahía de Vizcaya", if you want to put it in Spanish too.
 

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Misterious update, indeed.

One thing, in Spanish exclamations need this symbol: "¡", at the start of the sentence plus the usual "!".

PS: Another, the Bay of Biscay is "Bahía de Vizcaya", if you want to put it in Spanish too.
Thank you! I am aware of Spanish punctuation rules, though I decided not to include them, since I am merely loaning Spanish words into an English text. I am not sure what is considered correct in literary circles, but I thought it would be better to keep consistency with the majority of the text :) Hope that explains why I didn't include it.
 

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Hey robou! Good to finally read some more from you.

I'm not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing but as I'm reading, I will stumble across a word that I'm not familiar with. For example, colpo d’aria. I ended up spending more than a few minutes looking at a few webpages describing this "disease". This also happened with the few of the places you have described. Nice touch.

Superstitious Italian and thieving Spaniards. I like it so far!
 

Director

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I think we have established that Pedro's faith allows him to think 'outside the box'. It also allows him to break secular laws, if necessary. The combination could be quite... interesting.
 

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I thought of Assassin's creed when he evaded the guards, and climbed the building.