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Dunaden

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pastsunset2_zpsb0e0bdda.jpg


SURVIVING PAST SUNSET
The forbidden history of the Lords of Lothian.​

Herein lies the personal accounts of Elspeth Dunbar during the Aztec Invasions and the Fall of Scotland and all the events that came after, as well as the salvaged histories of the rise of House Dunbar from 1066 to the murder of Prince Morgan II, Duke of Lothian.


******************************************************************************************************
This will be my first AAR. I've actually thought about doing this specific one for awhile, so it is from old saves and old version of CK2, so using beta version 1.111 to complete it.

******************************************************************************************************

Table of Contents

Prologue: Sunset at Stirling - Spring 1271
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
The Lords of Lothian, Dolfin's Tale -Part I
 

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Prologue: Sunset at Stirling - Spring 1271


I was in shock for weeks after the horror I had witnessed..

first my steward and kinsman, Neil Dunbar, Earl of Penthievre,

Elspeth07_zpsf21bee96.jpg



then my Aunt Edith..

Elspeth08_zps43b6b57a.jpg




and then .. then .. my mother.

Elspeth09_zps034f6c0d.jpg



I don't remember much after that. There were more .. Evangelos, my Aunt Ela, Liudmila, so many I lost count... family, friends, people I had known my whole short life all offered up to these horrible gods, their hearts cut from chests and held up before their dying eyes.

But I remember the before, the standing on the high tower and looking down over the invading army spread out below Stirling Castle. Over 200,000 men, Iliya Vyshataovich, my spymaster had said, the largest of the Aztec armies, but not the only one. The smaller armies, if 30,000 could be called small, were sweeping through the Isles and the Highlands hunting down any Scottish resistance.

This army had swept up from across the Irish Sea into Carrick first then on to Clydesdale, sacking the capital at Lanark. From there it had marched on to Lothian and Stirling Castle, the greatest fortress in Scotland, the seat of the Duchy of Lothian and my home. Well home for the first twelve years of my life, I doubt I will ever see it again.

The bulk of the Aztec army was made up of the foreign invaders from across the Atlantic who had first descended on Europe 13 years ago, over a year before I was even born. But mixed in with the Aztec warriors were knights and soldiers from all the conquered peoples of the Empire. Survivors who had joined the enemy rather than die.

The first Aztec fleet had landed at Land's End and attacked the English armies, the second fleet had sailed into Donegal Bay and had driven the Scots from our holdings in Ireland, claiming most of that island for themselves. The final invasion force had landed at Biscay Bay and had conquered France. The French had spent the last 200 years expanding into Iberia, now a small portion of Iberia was all they had left.

These defeated French , Castilian, English, Irish, and even Scots soldiers were now marching against us. Many still clung to Christ even as they were forced to help these pagans spread across the world. But others had embraced the Aztec religion and had become even more savage than their new masters. I knew there were probably even some of my kinsmen out there as well, finally returning to their ancestral home. Members of the Dunbar dynasty who had been trapped in Ireland and had bent knee rather than go to the altar.

There was no attempt at a siege, the Aztecs attacked as soon as they had surrounded the castle from all sides, spending lives meant little to the leaders of this savage horde. My retinue and the bulk of my levees were in Wales, completing the conquest of Wales my father had started. This left less than 1,500 men at arms to defend Stirling. Those 1,500 died to defend us, but it wasn't nearly enough and the Aztecs swarmed into Stirling. Once they were inside, there wasn't the mass slaughter my mother had so feared, but she didn't understand, not then.

The Aztecs needed living captives to feed their gods, the more the better.
 
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I'm intrigued-count me in!
 
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I love the setting you're starting in. I'll tag along to see how you will fare against these barbaric foreigners.
 
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Chapter 1.

Everyday, I and the rest of the prisoners were pulled from our cells and herded to the main courtyard to watch the Aztecs welcome the sun with sacrifices. The priests in their elaborate headdresses and bright feathered cloaks would come and have their guards pull prisoners from the crowd and send them to the altar. They were the ones that took my mother and so many others, but they seemed wary of me, they didn't seem to know what to make of such a young girl being the ruler of this castle and other titles, so they passed over me when choosing their daily quota.

Iliya hovered over me as best he could when we were brought together in the courtyard, trying to shield me from what was happening on the altars. He had been appointed my guardian soon after he had arrived in Lothian.

Elspeth17_zps327a4a14.jpg



My father had invited Iliya to Stirling to be his spymaster after the first attempt on his life almost succeeded. Iliya Vyshataovich was the youngest brother of the Grand Prince of Perm. He had seen no future in Perm, with 3 older brothers and several nephews already between him and any inheritance, so he had readily accepted both positions. I think the plan that finally killed my father was set in motion long before Iliya even arrived, but I think his guilt over failing my father is what drives him to continue to serve and try to protect me.

For two weeks this went on, the number of prisoners dwindling. I barely registered what was happening around me, still in shock from my mother's death. Then one day, the haze suddenly lifted and everything snapped back into focus. One of the priests had stopped in front of me and pointed, one of his guards stepped forward and grabbed me by the arm and yanked me out of the crowd and I was suddenly wide awake and struggling. Iliya surged forward, but the second guard jammed his war club into Iliya's stomach and he dropped to his knees. The club raised up to deliver a killing blow, but a sudden shout stopped the guard.

A second priest and his guards pushed forward and continued shouting at the first priest. He pointed at me and said something, the first priest protested and they began arguing. More priests and their attendants gathered around us, adding their voices to one side of the argument or the other. I couldn't understand what they saying, but it dawned on me that the second priest wasn't trying to save me, he arguing over which god I should be sacrificed to.

The argument grew more heated and the guard holding me released my arm and readied his weapons. I ducked back down next to Iliya, waiting to see what would happen next.

A sharp word of command and the guards and attendants crowding around the two priests parted to let a third party advance. Unlike the priests and their guards and attendants who always seemed to wear ceremonial garb consisting of just loincloths and sandals with the elaborate headdresses and feather cloaks, the new group had seemed to have adopted more European garb, wearing wool and leather and carrying swords and spears rather than the wooden war clubs and stone knives the priests' guards carried. The leader of this new party of soldiers was clearly Aztec, with his dark face and eyes, coarse black hair shaved high on both sides of his head and large jade earrings pulling his ears out of shape. Aztec symbols were stitched into his surcoat in bright colors.

Elspeth16_zps0d3ae7dd.jpg



The leader barked a question at the two priests, they looked scowled at each other and both began jabbering at once and pointing at me. The man listened for a few minutes and then snapped at them again, silencing them. He walked over and stared down at me, asking questions over shoulder, which the cowed priests answered quietly. Then he turned to them and made an announcement and two of his soldiers moved over to me. The priests stared at him for a second and then burst into a storm of protests , I could see the leader becoming angry, but then an elderly Aztec at the edge of the crowd spoke up with some authority. All three of them turned to look at him, then the leader nodded at the old man and then issued some orders and stalked away. The two priests randomly pointed to two of the prisoners and their guards seized them and dragged them toward the altars. The two soldiers picked me up from the ground and began marching me back toward the cells.

"Iliya, " I cried, "What's happening?"

It wasn't Iliya who answered, but one of the soldiers, speaking with a French accent. Startled, I turned and looked up into a pale face with blue eyes.

"Lord Ahuitzotl, who has been given this land by Huetlatoani Tapayaxi the Great, decided to take you as one of his wives to make his rule of these lands and people easier. The priests each want to honor their god by sacrificing you, but neither wants the other to have that honor. The wise one told them all three must wait for the Huetlatoani to make the decision."


I asked the soldier more questions but he never said another word. They returned me to my cell and left me there all alone.

********************

Four days passed. I was not taken to join the prisoners in the courtyard for morning rituals, but I could tell from the screams that they continued. I was too short to see out the high barred windows in my cell. I could hear the guards outside my door, breathing and occasionally shifting position, but they ignored all my shouted questions and pleas. I was finally aware enough to try and take stock of my situation and all I could see were the four walls of my cell. I was stuck here waiting to see if I would be claimed by the savage who had taken my home or by the gods who had taken my family.

But that night everything changed. I woke to the now familiar smell of fresh blood and strange sounds at the door to my cell. My imagination went wild, convinced the priests were coming for me, but there was nowhere to hide, so I retreated into the corner furthest from the door. I heard the bar lifted from the door and it swung open. A figure entered carrying a torch. I didn't see anyone else in the corridor behind him. If I could get by this one man I knew hundreds of places I could hide in castle. I started inching along the wall to have a better angle at the cell door, when the figure spoke.

"It's alright lass, it's time to go."

I knew that voice. I looked up at his face and saw the white goatee and the wrinkled face.

"Uncle Artie!"

He scooped me up with his right arm, holding the torch away in his left hand.

"Aye, Elspeth, it's me. Come to take you away from here. Stay quiet now"

He carried me out into the corridor. I gasped as I saw a tall Aztec standing outside the door in a feathered cloak looking down the corridor, but he turned and I saw it was just Hypatios, though his great bushy beard was gone. His Greek face lit up.

"Thank God, my Lady"

"No time" growled Art.

Hypatios nodded and stooped down, there I saw the blue-eyed soldier dead at his feet, his throat slit. Hypatios grabbed body by his legs and dragged him into my cell then closed and barred the door.

Elspeth15_zps84d0ae4c.jpg



We hurried down the hall and found several other men and women waiting for us, all of them prisoners from the courtyard, including Iliya. Art handed me off to Iliya and motioned them to follow. Hypatios in his Aztec finery took point moving ahead to check corners before waving us forward. Thus we moved through the sleeping castle.

Finally we came to library and filed in. The room was in shambles, shelves over turned and broken and torn pages scattered everywhere, but not enough. Most of the books were just gone.

"What happened here?" I whispered to Iliya.

"Their priests burned all the books in the courtyard two days ago."

" Quickly now" Art said as he walked over the huge fireplace on the far wall.

He reached in and twisted the hidden handle my father had shown me once, and a portion of the back wall of the fireplace sprang open. My father had told me of this escape route and shown me the hidden door, but the fire that had always burned on the hearth had kept me from exploring further, so I had never been in the tunnel. It looked like no fire had been laid here since the castle had fallen so we had no problem entering the passage. Hypatios took the torch and went first while Art waved everyone else through then followed and pushed the hidden door shut.

Hypatios led us though the narrow twisting passage and down steep curving stairs to an a long straight passage that seemed to go on forever in the dark, until we finally reached an iron door. Art called a halt.

"I've got men and horses outside this door, if they haven't been discovered yet. We're going south to the Hansa trading post in Dunbar, where we have a ship waiting. It's leaving as soon as Lady Elspeth is aboard, so all stay close. We want to be well away from here long before dawn."

"Uncle Artie, how are you here? How did you arrange all this?"

"Not I, your mother did this. As soon as she heard the Aztecs had landed in Carrick, she sent me to Lutbert von Reitberg who runs the trading post at Dunbar to arrange passage for all of you as well as the treasury. But the Aztecs moved faster than we expected and they were already in Lothian before I could get back."

"I had to wait for the main Aztec army to leave, before I could get anywhere close to the Castle. Luckily, they moved north into Fife rather than south into Dunbar, otherwise all our plans would have been for naught."

"But where do we go from Dunbar?"

"We're going home" said Art mac Harald, Earl of Powys.

"to Wales."

Elspeth13_zps1bfbf8d0.jpg
 
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The timing of my first post was poor :p. That was an interesting first chapter. Seems like fate dictated they would escape by directing the Aztecs north. The experience from being prisoner under the Aztecs would, sadly, haunt this little girl for the rest of her life. Hopefully, it will propel her forward to great accomplishments.
 
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This seems eerie, but well timed seasonally!
 
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The Aztecs will find the mountain fastnesses of Wales a tougher nut to crack methinks! Great update!
 
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An intriguing setup. You also mentioned this was based on an old game and that you'd use a beta to finish it, which suggests that you have enjoyed at least a modicum of success against the Aztecs. Very good! I look forward to finding out more.
 
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The timing of my first post was poor :p. That was an interesting first chapter. Seems like fate dictated they would escape by directing the Aztecs north. The experience from being prisoner under the Aztecs would, sadly, haunt this little girl for the rest of her life. Hopefully, it will propel her forward to great accomplishments.

A little creative license to show what it took to get from Scotland to Wales once Lothian was lost.

This seems eerie, but well timed seasonally!

Not actually planned, but works.

The Aztecs will find the mountain fastnesses of Wales a tougher nut to crack methinks! Great update!

thanks

I can't wait for more! Subbed.

thanks

An intriguing setup. You also mentioned this was based on an old game and that you'd use a beta to finish it, which suggests that you have enjoyed at least a modicum of success against the Aztecs. Very good! I look forward to finding out more.

When it's all about survival, every day you're still alive is a victory ;).

I kinda want your character to become Aztec I'm not sure why

Never! Though many Europeans had already gone that route in game.

Maybe her children will...

If she has kids they will certainly be growing up in a different world.
 
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Chapter 2

I awoke in the middle of the night, my heart racing and covered in sweat, still seeing images of Aztecs chasing me with their stone knives, and running toward my mother's open arms only to see the gaping hole in her chest. I sat up breathing, half gasps and half sobs.

" I am safe, I am safe ' I told myself, "I'm in the cabin of the White Gull, a Hansa trading ship that's taking me to Wales."

As I calmed myself, I continued to focus on that, I was safe. I was safe because of three people. The life of a Scottish Duchess had been saved by a Dane, a Greek, and an Irishman.

First was my mother and Regent, Maren Ulfsdatter, a Dane. It made sense that she expected the worst and had planned for it. She was a Ylving Princess from a kingdom that no longer existed. I had been 4 when she received word that Fyn had fallen to King Jon of Norway, taking with it the Kingdom of Denmark and her father's crown. I remember her weeping, it was the first time I had ever seen her cry, but not the last.

My mother was the smartest person I knew, much smarter than my father and even knew more than Iliya. Most nights after dinner, when my father was still alive, the four of us would retire to the library after dinner and while Father would tell me stories of the Dunbars and Scotland, my mother and Iliya would talk for hours, often in different languages, about books and poetry.

Elspeth20_zps57628b28.jpg


The times in the library were when my mother was the happiest Outside the library, she had to deal with suspicion, fear and sometimes outright hatred. Not only was she a foreigner, but many of the less educated servants and courtiers and even the more educated priests feared my mother was possessed.

My mother had suffered from the falling sickness. It had started a couple of years after my birth when she had been thrown from a horse and hit her head. Since that time she was plagued by fits that left her on the ground shaking. Her maid Inga always carried a vial of white onion juice, the drops seemed to help abate the fits, though Inga also crossed herself and prayed to St Paul and St Valentine in case my mother was really possessed rather than just ill.

The fits had become more frequent since my father had died and my mother had had to take on more responsibilities and duties as Regent. But once the fits passed, she was as smart as ever. She recognized that if the Aztecs came for Scotland, we would stand no more chance than England or France had. Scotland had been attacked once before by the Aztecs and had been able to do nothing to slow down their seizure of Ireland. So with Iliya and the Earl of Penthievre and my Uncle Artie and the rest of the Council, she had put plans in place for when Aztecs turned their attention back to Scotland. However, the speed of the Aztec attack and the fact the Lothian Army was in Wales when the Aztecs declared war had thrown those plans into disarray. My mother didn't live to see that at least a portion of her plan had succeeded.

Hypatios was the youngest son of the late Gerasimos Phokas, a Greek expatriate who had come to Stirling with his nephew and squire, Gennadios, during my grandfather's reign. The two elder Greeks were both brilliant soldiers who had led Lothian's armies ever since their arrival. They had made Stirling their home and raised families who continued to serve the Dunbars. Gennadios was the current Lord Marshal of Lothian, taking over following the death of his uncle. Hypatios's elder brothers, Evangelos and Basileios, had served as my mother's personal guards and they had shared her fate on the Aztec altars.

Hypatios had been entrusted with escorting the caravan containing the bulk of the Lothian treasury to the Hansa trading post in Dunbar and seeing it safely stowed away in the White Gull. He had met up with Uncle Artie in Dunbar and together they decided to return to Lothian even though it had already fallen and they had no idea if I, my mother, or anyone else still lived.

Hypatios had volunteered to sneak into the castle and search for any news of survivors because his darker complexion from his Greek heritage would make it easier to pass as an Aztec. Though Hypatios freely admitted he was craven and would never match his kinsmen's prowess on the battlefield, his shaving of his beard and searching the occupied castle disguised as an Aztec was the bravest thing I'd ever seen.

Earl Art of Powys was not really my uncle, he was a distant kinsman, an Irish Dunbar who had served as chancellor of the Duchy of Lothian since my grandfather's day. He had been instrumental in securing are claims in Wales and helping the Duchy prosper. My grandfather had bestowed the County of Powys on him as reward for his service and loyalty. I had known him all my life, he had always been there for me and was still.

After he had secured the help of the Hansa to transport the Lothian refugees and treasury. He had lead Hypatios and a small number of other soldiers back into Lothian. He was the one who had gotten Hypatios into the castle and it was this 63-old statesman who had been the one to wield the knife that had removed the few guards that had stood between the prisoners and freedom.


****************************

By the time I arrived in Gwynedd, my new capital, in August of 1271, the Scottish throne was as empty as the English one. My grandmother , Elspeth the Chaste, Queen of Scotland, who had been comatose for years, died during the sack of Lanark, whether the Aztecs killed her outright or just never bothered to care for her isn't known. My cousin, Ioustinos Doukas, the Greek prince who had had my father murdered to claim his inheritance, had gotten to enjoy his stolen crown for two months before it was taken away by the Aztecs. The fact that he still lived, ruling Caithness as a vassal to the Aztecs, while my mother and father were dead, would need to be set right. But more pressing was what to do next.

Elspeth11_zpsbc323587.jpg


I was now independent, as the Kingdom I owed fealty to was no more. I was still Duchess of Lothian, but that was now an empty title, as all the de jure lands were now under Aztec rule. I controlled all of Wales, but it would take a years before a 12-year old girl would be deemed pious and mature enough for the Pope to sanction my coronation as Queen of Wales. My kinsman Gilcolm Dunbar, Earl of Northumberland, was still my vassal, but he was cut off and alone on the far side of England. I was Duchess of Brittany, but only held two of those counties as vassals, the remaining 4 de jure counties made up all that remained of the Kingdom of Navarra. The Aztecs had driven King Briac, my uncle (married to my aunt, Helen Dunbar), from his traditional lands in Iberia, leaving only his lands in Brittany to rule over.

Ashild, the Norwegian Duchess of Albany (and Galloway and Strangfjord) had also survived the fall of Scotland, driven to her last holding in Tyrconnell where she was all alone, the sole independent ruler left in Ireland. She had married a Dunbar and her son was my vassal, the Earl of Northumberland. He would one day inherit her titles and lands. If I was not Queen before then, I would lose him as a vassal and he would be only a potential ally, one who was weak and utterly exposed.

Elspeth12_zps1ab2bc6c.jpg


The only other allies I might be able to call on were seven landed blood relatives, fellow members of the Dunbar dynasty. However, three of those were already my vassals, Art of Powys, Gilcolm of Northumberland, and Aufrica of Penthievre, the daughter of Neil Dunbar, my former steward who had been sacrificed in Stirling. Three others had already been taken by the Aztecs. Julia, the Duchess of the Isles, and my former vassal Waldeve, the Earl of Dunbar, if they had survived the fall of Scotland, would have had to bend knee to the Aztecs. A third kinsman had served the Aztecs for over a decade since the fall of France, holding Albarracin in Iberia. That left only Count Gillespic of Malta, a vassal to the Serene Doge of Venice as the only ally who would not already be involved in any conflict with the Aztec Empire. He was the older half-brother of the late Neil of Penthievre and the younger half-brother of my Great-great-grandfather (My Great-great-great-grandfather had lived 89 years and his last child had been born in his 89th year which made our family tree quite complicated.) So I was basically on my own.

I did still have a functioning military because the Lothian army and retinues had survived the fall of Scotland, mainly because they weren't in the path of the main Aztec advance. The army had been in Wales fighting the Lothian war for Dyfed. The last Welsh county had fallen at about the time the Aztec Empire declared war on Scotland. My mother had received word of Philippa the Just's formal surrender to General Gennadios Phokas just days before Lanark was taken. The Lothian army had raced back across a now hostile England from Wales, but they were too late, their 12,000 men could do little against the 200,000 men that had already entered Lothian. General Phokas could do nothing for us still in the Castle, so he collected as many refugees as he could and lead them back toward Wales.

This exodus would become legend.

Losing only 4,000 of his men, the 62-year old general and his son Megistros managed to lead close 20,000 Scots refugees over 300 miles across Aztec England to the relative safety of my lands in Wales, cutting through 3 separate Aztec armies. (The only victories by any Scottish army during the entire conquest of Scotland).

The 8,000 surviving soldiers camped outside the capitol consisted of the 3,500 soldiers of my retinue and the rest made up of levees. Some of those levees were raised from my former holdings in Scotland and once I released them I feared many of these would try to return to Scotland to look for their families and be lost.

But the unfortunate fact was that all of my lands bordered on the Aztec Empire either in England or Scotland or France, and it came down to when, not if, the Aztecs would decide annex the next piece of my holdings. My retinue and levees would only give me some 11,000 once they recovered from their losses. Compared to the 250,000 or more troops available to the Aztecs. So the most pressing question of all was .. when that time comes, do we fight and probably die? or kneel to these pagan monsters who had butchered my mother and so many others?


Elspeth18_zps34d3b34e.jpg


Europe in August of 1271
 
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An alliance with the Germans or Greeks would seem to be in order. How well has the HRE been faring against the Aztecs?
 
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That's a grim starting point. The numbers certainly don't favor you... Is it possible to launch a quasi-crusade and take a new territory far away from the Aztecs? Maybe in the Baltic or the Middle East? I fear your only chance of surviving is to run away and carve out a new desmesne somewhere else.
 
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Maybe in the Baltic
And have the Golden Horde as a neighbor
or the Middle East?
Byzantines and/or current Muslim blob as neighbors.

Tough choices, those.
 
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And have the Golden Horde as a neighbor

Oh yeah, I see them where Novgorod used to be. Not good to have as neighbors, true.

Byzantines and/or current Muslim blob as neighbors.

My own bias betrays me: I always see the Byzantines as friendlies, so the possibility that they might have less-benigd designs of their own doesn't even enter my mind. :) As far as the Muslims blobs go - I assumed they'd be driven inland a bit from crusades or a resurgent Byzantium

Tough choices, those.

Tough choices, yes. Still, being looted and/or enslaved (by Mongols, Muslims, or Byzantines) does sound like a lesser evil than having your heart sliced out by an obsidian dagger. Perhaps conquer someplace in the Near East and swear fealty to Byzantium is the least bad option? Mainly, I'd just want to get far away from the Aztecs. :)
 
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