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Brandenburg III

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If I don’t start a thread for this now, I feel as though I never will. Over the last week or two as my AARs began dwindling, frequent thoughts about not doing another AAR have flowed freely in and out of my head. To remedy this, I’ve decided to get a post up here before I completely talk myself out of publishing the AAR. Expect the first post to be sometime this weekend.

Expect at least 3000 words per chapter with periodic pictures to break up the paragraphs. If that’s too much for you to read in one sitting, I’ve done my best to place the pictures in places where you can take a break. While the story isn’t designed for breaks, if you need one, it is provided. At the moment I’m looking into how to create .pdf files or something like it so you can read the story offline. As soon as I figure out how to do this I’ll begin posting the file just above the chapter title.


In 1981 János Takács is a very popular Hungarian painter is lauded throughout the Western world for his paintings of shorelines, ports and beaches. Twisting such landscapes into a Mannerism style hasn’t been easy for him but Janos has been rewarded for his difficult work, as has the Hungarian nation.

On a return trip from Madrid to Budapest János finds himself in a world of trouble after an emergency landing in Algeria. The Hungarian is soon kidnaped and taken to an undisclosed location in an abandoned factory in Central/Southern Algeria. It is here where Khayr ad-Din introduces himself to János. Khayr also introduces the artist to a book.

The book is old and battered but it has unspeakable powers. For someone trained to read it, it has the strength to alter known history. Unbeknownst to János, he was trained as a Reader and must form Khayr ad-Din’s paradise or face the wrath of a man bent on global domination.



Know first and foremost that I’m looking for constructive criticism more than anything, if you choose to comment. The only reason why I’m writing a narrative is so I can improve my writing. I may not like what you have to say at first but I’ll get over it. After you fill a box of rejection slips, your skin tends to grow thick when your writing goes under the glass. But know that I’ll take each criticism and think it over and decide whether or not I’ll listen to it. Who knows, your advice may be just what I need.

Once I took a stranger’s advice on my songwriting and it totally transformed the way I wrote. I didn’t like her for a few days after the criticism but when I looked honestly at my work, I discovered she was right. In the years since that exchange I’ve been writing better material and even gathered a few interested parties before I decided to write material for myself.

If you want to criticize, feel free to. As with the girl, I may not like you for a few days but I’ll get over it. And just maybe I’ll remember your words for a lifetime, as I remember hers.



I’ve nearly completed this AAR. By the time I release it this weekend it will be completely finished. This means there won’t be any abandonments nor will there be an ending that is nowhere in sight. Working with an outline I’ve set strict perimeters and while I’ve stretched outside of them when the characters dictated, there is a story here. It isn’t a muddled mess. At least not from my perspective.

The only thing I haven’t completed are the pictures. Please don’t expect them to be of great quality as I simply don’t have the product to make great pictures. I am limited not by imagination, rather I’m limited by what’s on my computer and while I’m learning more as I go I’m already seeing barriers. I will do what I can in this area.

Know that the story may change as time goes on. Yes, the story is finished but based on the comments I receive, I may change the ending, reword sentences or rewrite chapters. It really depends on how the comments go. To end, you can always shape the story if I decide to take your advice.

I believe I put in enough research into Hungary, Algeria and the Mannerism art form to get by but know that I don’t claim to know anything. I’m going to be twisting the art and minor details to help fill the story however, I’ll also do my best to honestly represent the nationalities and the histories when concerned with them. If you know something I don’t, feel free to mention it. I may have left it out on purpose or I might not have but a little honest knowledge never hurt anyone.

Each chapter will appear every four days as long as I don’t get too tied up making these bad, bad pictures.

Again, offer any criticisms you have once the story has begun. Nitpick and rip it apart if you need because there’s no point in me doing this if I don’t get better. But don’t bash the pictures. Those aren’t going to get better no matter how much you complain.
 
Last edited:

Brandenburg III

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aldriq

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Good luck with your new project. And better to have some home-made pictures than no pictures at all, a bit of visual stimulus is always welcome - even more so when the main character is a painter!

At the moment I’m looking into how to create .pdf files or something like it so you can read the story offline. As soon as I figure out how to do this I’ll begin posting the file just above the chapter title.
That'd be great, now I've got Stanza sorted out in my iPod a PDF would be very easy to load.
 

Brandenburg III

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aldriq: I agree about the pictures. I think what killed my previous narrative was that I didn’t have pictures anywhere. At the time I assumed most people read these AARs while they were at work. Also, I was still very new to paint and didn’t realize I could resize the borders - I often ended up with white edges.

My real aim for writing this is to write the story I should’ve written the first time. This may be my first attempt to write a decent AAR.

Bassman112: Its based on a game I played as Algiers with v1.3 and MM IV. I briefly attempted a narrative back in October or November but it failed dismally due to poor planning and very few views. I’ve restructured the story, rewrote it, added/removed characters and hopefully, made it much better. For those who've attempted to read the first version, this rendition will be different in almost every way.

Bassman112 said:
like the paragraph titles too
Thanks. I’m planning to use them for the Chapter titles.

To all: For those wondering about the .pdf. It will be updated when each chapter comes out. Instead of providing a clickable link above the Chapter, I’m going to provide the link on the Chapter. Therefore, when you see this:



Just click on the Chapter and it’ll be brought to you. It’ll make the AAR look better and less cluttered.

Obviously it isn't clickable now but you get the idea.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone - because I don’t think I mention it again in the story - that the story takes place in 1981. This is a just in case so you get your mind right about the political situations along with any references I may make.
 

Monnikje

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An AAR that's completed the moment you start posting it? Interesting. I'm working on something similar. I'll be following this one. How many chapters will there be?
 

volksmarschall

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This idea is completely cool! :cool:

To be honest, if you work on proper grammer, re-writing, etc. you can probably turn such an idea into a Manuscript for publishing (just a thought for you) ;).
 

Brandenburg III

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Mohatma: My writing program doesn’t have the non-English letters readily available so I’m waiting until the AAR starts and then I’ll insert them. My rough edits probably won’t catch all my mistakes every time so feel free to point it out if you see it. Although it is odd I used the á for his last name and didn’t use it in the first. I feel some one’s to blame for the error but it can’t possibly be me. I blame society. ;)

Monnikje: The main reason for finishing the AAR first was due to the many narrative AARs that crash and burn and I didn’t want my second attempt to be another failure. The problem with me is that when I achieve around 30,000 words I hit a wall and I wanted to make sure I’d be able to get past it before I began posting.

I don’t want to say how many chapters there will be because that may lessen any suspense there may be. To keep the explanation short, I feel the length is long enough to tell the story without it dragging on.

volksmarschall: Heh, thanks :cool:

I briefly thought about doing that with this project but since I had the basis for the story partially out here, I decided against it considering the rights Paradox claims. Anything I put out here I consider it the ownership of Paradox even if I rework the story.

On another note, I am planning to turn a few AAR ideas into books although I’m usually more of a mainstream writer. Usually I don’t mess around with fantasy, sci-fi, history or things this forum often deals with so I’m going to see how well I can do in these genres with my narratives. If this turns out better than my gameplay and history book attempts, I’ll be content.
 

Enewald

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I might just try to read this also.
Although the warnings in the first post scared the shit out of me. Not literally.
 

Brandenburg III

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Enewald: Oh, that’s nothing to worry about. :) If you want to be scared about something, be afraid of being terrorized by three little girls.

To all (primarily those who will be using the pdf): The site I'm using only allows me to host the pdf for thirty days. This won't bother readers who are actively reading as I'm posting but if you're a later reader and want the pdf back up, contact me and I'll see how willing I am.

Also, the site I'm using has been moving a little slow so I can't guarantee every pdf chapter will pop up the moment one does on the Paradox forums. However, there are no problems at the moment but let me know how it works for you. I'm not very computer savvy - yes, really! - so let me know if I should find something else.

Lastly, there are no pictures in the pdf but that's the only difference between that and this AAR. The first post should be out soon depending on how much editing I do.
 

Brandenburg III

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János winced as he heard his bodyguard bring up the old Hungarian fairy tales. It was the same discussion with the same beliefs and not even the plane’s engine could drown away his companion’s superstitions.

“Tividar,” János began, leaning over his armrest in an attempt to talk sense into his traveling companion. “If all these things exist, why aren’t these spirits-“

“Creatures,” Tividar interrupted.

“Why aren’t all these creatures,” János revised, “talked about in other countries? They’re not even talked about in Hungary anymore.”

“They all go by different names. Nobody believes anymore because they don’t look. You’re not going to find Baba Yaga staying in Budapest your whole life.”

“Baba?”

“An old woman who steals away children.”

“Tividar,” János began in a hushed tone. “Don’t you think people would notice a women who abducts children?”

Tividar smiled, “Not at all. She lives in a house with chicken legs. How can anyone find a house always on the move?”

János sighed, slipping back into his chair, “You’re too much.”

“See?” Tividar maintained his smile, “You can’t argue with fact.”

“No, that isn’t it,” János spoke, looking out the window. “I can’t argue with fiction.”

After some time had passed Tividar turned to János, asking, “Do you know when I’ll be assigned to you again?”

“Probably in a month or two. You know I’m never in Budapest very long.”

Before Tividar could give a response the plane banked hard to the left. János and Tividar each clutched their arm rests in white knuckled grips as everyone leaned. Screams came from women and obscenities from men as the plane slowly righted itself. The once sacred skies had far too many planes defiling the air.

Relaxing his grip, János turned his hands and stared at his white fingertips, feeling the pulse pounding against his drained nails. Even though the ordeal had lasted a few seconds, terror and sweat ran down his face.

A casual look to his left brought a smirk to János’ pale face as he saw Tividar’s eyes staring straight into the back of the chair, and his hands with a vice-like grip on the armrests. And for a moment János thought about what the pilots were thinking. Those people must have nerves of steel to right the wrong so quickly. They weren’t meant to say, “Wow, that was close!”

Sprung from his drifting daydream he heard a cackle over the intercom: “Good evening, this is your Captain speaking. We’re suffering some technical difficulties and have been cleared to land in Oran, Algeria. Your tickets can be exchanged for an Air Algérie flight to Rome, Italy, Paris, France or a number of Middle Eastern or North African countries. More information will be provided once we reach the ground. Thank you.”

Jnáos shook his head as his arm swiped at his forehead, clearing away the gathering perspiration. A delay was the last thing he wanted. So little time was spent in Budapest, so little time was spent painting. He needed to get back. He needed to work. Without work, these trips were a waste. And he was only a few hours away from home, just ending a trip in Madrid.

Looking around he noticed no one unbuckled their safety belts; not that they needed to since they were so close to Algeria. Another look and János noticed Tividar beginning to unfreeze himself from the near hit a few minutes before. This roused János’ curiosity, “I wouldn’t have thought someone in your line of work could be shaken so easily.”

“That’s on the ground,” Tividar huffed, repeating, “That’s on the ground.”

János laughed to himself as he heard the plane’s tires hit pavement. Bounce one. Bounce two. Again János looked out his window seeing the ground crew directing the plane so the airport could continue running in fine order. As the plane taxied down the runway and toward a terminal, János couldn’t help but dread getting off. A delay was going to be real and he doubted there would be any direct flights from Oran to Budapest. There would be another delay somewhere else and he’d be lucky to climb into his bed by midnight, provided he could secure a pass from György Lázár’s men. That’s another bribe.


As everyone reached for their overhead compartments to retrieve their bags and headed down the aisle for the terminal, János moved at a slower pace than the others with Tividar no more than a few steps behind him. Coming into earshot range, János heard a man explaining where Air Algérie was flying. Nothing about Budapest. And he was in no mood to listen to connecting flights.

János turned to Tividar, “Why don’t you stay here and listen to the flights? I’m going to go to the restroom.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that,” Tividar said. “You know I can’t.”

“Why not? You don’t think I’m going to defect to Algeria, do you?”

“It isn’t my job to think,” Tividar said. “My job is to keep you alive and on your way home. If something happens to ‘Hungary’s Rising Star’ then it’d be my head. And again I’m sorry, but I’ve grown attached to it.”

János paused. “Alright then. Let’s go.”

As they walked through the throng of people and reached the other side, János saw a line extending beyond the door of the restrooms. All he wanted was to splash water on his face. Deciding to find the next one, János’ eyes remained ahead, glad that he was at least able to stretch his legs.

As they entered the restroom János moved toward the sinks and turned on the water. With his hands under the water he leaned his face down, splashing it gently. The cold water did nothing for him, perhaps because he knew he was still in danger. He knew if he tried to flee or leave, Tividar would track him down. The plane incident was just another danger, the different type was what jarred him.

János heard the restroom door open and close. Looking into the mirror a man walk by toward the last stall. He stopped and turned, staring at János in the mirror. Seconds passed. Tividar turned, “What do you want?”

The new man looked toward Tividar for a moment before speaking, “You and the Hungarian. You’re coming with me.”

The restroom door creaked and closed again.

“You’re not taking him anywhere,” Tividar took a few steps toward the man.

A weapon clicked from behind Tividar. János turned at the sound. A handgun was pointed at Tividar’s back and the action stopped. “If you do anything, I’ll blow off your head.”

“Who are you?” Tividar asked.

“Call me, Wikalat Safar. Are you finished with your questions?”

You’ll be caught,” Tividar spoke. “On the cameras.”

“I’m prepared to die for my beliefs. Are you prepared to die for yours?”

János coughed. “There you go, Tividar. Is this that Baba Yaga you were talking about?”

Turning around to face the gunman Tividar dejectedly spoke, “Shut up.” And then to the man holding the weapon, “What do you want with us?”

“With you? Nothing. We need him,” Wikalat Safar spoke, casually pointing the weapon at János before returning his aim to Tividar. “And we’re going to take the both of you outside. I need your passports and identification.”

All at once the unarmed intruder now behind Tividar moved into action, searching Tividar for weapons and identification. He found a holster strapped to Tividar’s chest and in it, a handgun which the unarmed man pocketed. As he searched for passports on both Tividor and János, Wikalat Safar spoke, “Do you have a permit for that? On the plane?”

“There are permits for everything,” the defeated Tividar answered.

“Yes,” Wikalat Safar smiled, “Yes there is.”

“I have their stuff,” the other man spoke after stealing their identification. “Let’s go.”

“You two are going first,” Wikalat Safar spoke to János and Tividar. “And remember. You only have one chance to screw up. Don’t do it here.”

Hiding his weapon the four left the restroom and headed through the airport with Wikalat Safar giving directions. It didn’t take long before they reached the passport line where few people stood. “Stay here,” he told his prisoners while the other stood watch. After a few minutes Wikalat Safar returned and a new attendant took a seat at a vacant booth. Without a word the four slipped through to the other side. The rest of the trip in the airport was a breeze for the kidnapers and it wasn’t more than ten minutes before the four were outside.

A van pulled in front of the foursome and Wikalat Safar spoke from the back, “Get inside.”

The door opened and János and Tividar obeyed. Their kidnappers followed, sitting behind them. As the van began to drive away, both kidnappers sitting in the back removed their weapons, pointing them directly at the head of Tividar, who happened to be nearest to the door. Wikalat Safar spoke, “If your hand goes anywhere near that door handle, we’ll all have to take showers after we arrive.”

“Where are we going?” Tividar asked.

“Quiet!” Wikalat Safar barked, batting Tividar against the head with the butt of the weapon.”Don’t say another thing the rest of this trip or I’ll bury you up to your head in the sand.”

It seemed like hours sitting in silence. János watched the windows and tried remembering the way they had come but there was too much to remember. At times the road devolved into dirt and from dirt, into nothing until the van rediscovered the dirt. The shifting sands no doubt had much to do with the alterations of a physical map. And it was clear the only useful map resided within the heads of the locals.

For the better part of the day the van moved south, taking only a brief break to refill the petrol for the vehicle. Without food or water for the prisoners, János could feel dehydration settling in while his captors drank from canteens. Just before the sun began setting, the driver pulled the van closer to what looked like an ailing factory in the middle of nowhere. János assumed there must’ve been a town nearby for the factory but he couldn’t see any residual from residents. What he did see was a single man standing just outside the door, dressed down in a modern suit.

***​

Breaking hard in front of the factory, the van kicked up sand, skidding a few feet before it came to a halt. Wikalat Safar spoke, “Get out.”

With slight hesitation Trividar reached for the door, unlocking and pushing it open. The horrible heat blasted him in the face, stealing away his breath. Wikalat Safar kicked him out with a booted foot. “Now you,” Wikalat Safar pointed his weapon at János.

János felt his knees go weak but he pushed himself forward with the use of his arms. When he came to the edge he shoved himself out, landing on his feet. Wikalat Safar and his partner in the backseat got out behind them, shutting the door of the van. “Alright, let’s go,” Wikalat spoke, driving his captives toward the factory.

Once they reached the suited man near the entrance the line came to a halt. The man spoke with a sly grin, “I am Khayr ad-Din and this is your new home.”

“The hell it is,” Tividar blurted.

“Watch your tongue!” Khayr ad-Din turned his head with a sharp glare. “If you don’t know how to use it, then you will lose it. And if that happens, I won’t be able to hear you begging for your life.”

Tividar said nothing.

“Very well then,” Khayr turned onto János. “You’re the reason for this whole thing. You have a talent and we’re going to need it. Come inside and get acquainted with your new surroundings.”

Tividar knew if they were trapped inside that they’d be stuck and he’d be responsible for anything that happened to János. Even with the warning from Khayr ad-Din and having no weapons, Tividar tempted fate again. “We’re not going inside.”

Khayr looked to Tividar, holding the glare. “Take care of him,” Khayr said.

As Khayr ad-Din looked toward János the sound of a gun discharging bounced off the sands. Blood spattered the side of János’ face but Khayr received the worst of it. Burgundy blood was smeared from his waist to the top of his head. With Tividar’s body devoid of life and fallen on the sand, Khayr turned toward Wikilat. “What are you thinking?!”

“I- I’m sorry. You told me to get rid of him,” Wikilat Safar stammered, stepping away from the scene.

“Use your head,” Khayr warned, reaching for his holstered weapon near his chest, pulling it out and shooting Wikilat in the face. Khayr ad-Din smirked as Wikilat’s dead body fell back, his face distorted, “Its nice to see you finally taking my advice.”

Khayr ad-Din looked momentarily toward János who was nervously holding his ground. With his bodyguard dead and one of his captors, fear was the only thing that ran through his mind. It was like a raging river without a course. And he was an animal caught in its stream.

“Remove their teeth and fingertips and distort their faces,” Khayr ad-Din spoke to the man who was Wikilat Safar’s companion. “When you’re through with that, bury them out here somewhere and deliver their identification to me. Of course you’ll be given the pay your partner would’ve received. And I trust,” Khayr holstered his weapon, “you’ll pull through. Head back to the city when you’ve finished. At the end of the week, the money will be in your account.”

The man nodded, moving toward the motionless Tividar. Reaching underneath his arms, the man began pulling Tividar toward the rear of the factory and would likely do the same with Wikilat. Money was money and it didn’t grow anywhere, much less in southern Algeria.

His hand disappearing into a rear pocket, Khayr pulled out a clean, white handkerchief and began wiping at his face. Once all that remained were red streaks, Khayr ad-Din let the handkerchief fall to the ground. “You understand what happens when you don’t follow rules. It had to be done.” His eyes appeared black in the sunlight, and seemingly sparkled.

“He-“ János began, having trouble finding his tongue. “He deserved it.”

“He,” Khayr emphasized, “was my brother and I’ll not have you talking about him in that way. This is your warning. Everyone receives only one.”

János took in a breath of dry air, trying to sound casual as he exhaled, “Understood.”

“Let’s get inside,” Khayr spoke, taking a step to the side. “After you, of course.”

One wary step traipsed in front of the other as János entered through the open door. Looking around he noticed the factory appeared vacant. The only thing that ran in the entire place were the lights slung around old machines like Chinese lanterns. An eerie feeling overcame him, wondering what Khayr ad-Din wanted to do with him.

With a word here and there, Khayr ad-Din guided János toward the rear of the factory until they stopped at a corner. “Stop,” Khayr ordered. “See that chain on the floor? Loop it through the draw and fasten it to the iron beam sticking out of the wall.”

János did this with great effort; years of painting leached away his physical strength. As the struggle began, a door in the floor opened. After János fastened the chain as instructed, it sat, open-mouthed at a near 45 degree angle. Staring into the basement he saw steep stairs and nothing else. It was dark.

“Go on,” Khayr said.

János heard a sound next to him as Khayr flipped a heavy switch. Looking back down the staircase he saw the basement lights come on, what few there were. It was dim but had enough visibility to tell him he wasn’t going to be walking into walls.

After climbing down the stairs, János took a look around. There wasn’t much to it. It was a small room with a table and a set of chairs. Everything was dusty and dirty as though time had swept through, personalizing every bit of the old storage room.

“Take a seat,” Khayr advised after he followed János. While János went toward the table, Khayr bent down alongside the staircase where he retrieved an old book. Its pages looked to be frayed as if eaten by rats, and its cover wore old leather and decoration with no words where a title should be. It was blanketed in dust. Or was it beaten by sand? It was of no matter to János. The only affect the book had on him was a brief fit of coughing after Khayr ad-Din slammed it on the table, causing the dust to rise.

“What’s this?” Jnáos asked, looking down at the battered book.

“This,” Khayr spoke as he opened the cover, flipping through the pages, “is the other half of your talent.”

Shaking his head, János spoke, “I have nothing to do with books. I’m a painter. The Spanish-“

“I know what they say about you,” Khayr cut him off. “I’ve spent enough time researching and watching you that I know I have the right man. You may even find that your talents as a painter pale in comparison to what you’re able to do with this book.”

“Its pages are blank. What am I supposed to do? Write it?”

“You’re beginning to get the idea,” Khayr grinned in the darkness. János could see his white teeth beaming through the poor lighting.

“I don’t understand,” János looked toward the book again. It seemed like Khayr ad-Din made a mistake.

“What you have to do is very simple. Open the book to the first page, read what’s inscribed and you’ll find yourself in the world of the book. Your body will remain here but while you’re there, the pages will begin to fill with writing, writing that describes what you’re doing and saying. When the book is complete then history will be altered. What’s written in the book will become fact.”

“You’re insane.”

“Not quite. Your objective, while you’re in the book, is to maintain the monarchy throughout the centuries.”

“Why? What are you? Some kind of descendent?”

“Something like that,” Khayr looked down upon his victim. “Please, while you’re living in this book, bear in mind that your body will remain here. If you go off track you won’t have to worry about coming back.”

“Coming back?”

“Out of the book.”

With a quirked eyebrow, János inquired, “You captured me and brought me here for a game of hocus pocus? You seem to have gone through an awful lot of trouble for a failed belief.” János rose from the chair and began walking toward the staircase. “Is that van still out there?”

Khayr watched as János got up and headed toward the stairs. The man had a strange confidence, to be sure. But he spoke up when János’ foot fell upon the first stair, “Sit, down.” Khayr removed his weapon. When János heard the brief rustling, he turned and saw the gun pointing at him, allowing Khayr to speak to him as they stared in one another’s eyes, “Or I’ll van Gogh your ear.”

János stopped. He had seen Khayr take out his own men, along with János’ bodyguard. Would Khayr also eliminate the man he set out to capture? He seemed to believe in cheap magic tricks and went to huge lengths to carry them out. How stable could such a man be?

Khayr ad-Din had a gun pointed at the artist and there were still two men outside, if they hadn’t driven off yet. And it was likely night. How much success could he have if he tried to flee? If he was able to make it out of the basement? With trepidation János relinquished his position on the stairs and headed back to the seat and sat down, staring at the cover of the book.

“How do I do this?” János asked.

“You remember what you’re meant to do,” Khayr commented as though János hadn’t said a word.

“Maintain the monarchy,” János spoke placidly.

Khayr smiled, “You’re going to make me proud.”

“But how do I do this?” János asked again.

“Simple,” Khayr ad-Din finally got around to answering the question. “Open the book and begin reading.”

Taking a gulp of dry air he felt the lump in his throat returning from when he witnessed his bodyguard getting shot. He could still feel the cooling blood on the side of his face as he did his best to ignore it but its smell was a constant reminder. János reached out a hand, turning the cover of the book to reveal the first page. He read slowly with an intent to absorb.


I AM THE WAY INTO THE CITY OF WOE
I AM THE WAY TO A FORSAKEN PEOPLE
I AM THE WAY INTO ETERNAL SORROW.

SACRED JUSTICE MOVED MY ARCHITECT.
I WAS RAISED HERE BY DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE,
PRIMORDIAL LOVE AND ULTIMATE INTELLIGENCE.

ONLY THOSE ELEMENTS TIME CANNOT WEAR
WERE MADE BEFORE ME, AND BEYOND TIME I STAND.
ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE.

- Dante Alighieri​

With János heading into his trance Khayr ad-Din spoke his parting words, “When you read this book, you’re making a deal with the devil.” And he laughed.




 
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Brandenburg III

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Monnikje: Thanks, that works way better. I don’t know how I forgot about that site. Good thing you came along cause I was already having problems. :)

To all: The arrows are a little off, I know. I’m going to try to rework them over the weekend so they’re not uneven in future updates. If I can’t get them right, I’ll turn them into buttons, square boxes or something else. I don’t think they’ll stretch anyone’s pages but if they do let me know and I’ll resize them. I should get better with these pictures as time goes on.

I left out one thing on the pdfs... :eek: the Paradox posting will have the benefit of an extra edit - which isn't always a good thing. I can’t help myself. Before I put it out there I always have to edit. :)
 
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Enewald

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I liked the update.
Although the story begun a bit from nowhere, it was easy to understand what's going on.
 

unmerged(111870)

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Good read. Hopefully you keep up the good work.


Criticism:
I like the way you describes János thoughts - Not to describing to be boring, but long enough to describe his situation.

I was puzzled, why Khayr shot his own brother. He's cold manner and logical approach towards the end goal, doesn't justify an execution. He also didn't get a warning, even the bodyguard did so. A short explanation, i.e. i have told you not to make any more errors, could have added extra weight.
 

aldriq

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Thanks for the PDF. In the end you were right in that the text is not that long, though, the bold type bulks it up. But still, it reads much better on a white page.

It's a promising start. I've loved the idea of books with power over reality since the Myst games/novels, although I suspect there'll be a lot more blood and guts in your story :D

Regarding Khayr killing his brother, I suspect it was just a guilty pleasure. If you're going to have history rewritten by the book anyway, chances are that Khayr's brother will be alive (or perhaps never born) in the resulting time line. The really intriguing question is, will Khayr be able to preserve his own existence?
 

Brandenburg III

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Enewald: Thanks :)

I can’t tell if that’s a criticism or not. :) If it is, in my original version I started from the plane getting jostled in the air. I decided against doing that because I figured instead of having Janos thinking all by himself, it might be nice if he had someone to talk to and I think I’d confuse people if I started from the plane banking and all of a sudden, a strange new character appears. Or maybe in that case I’m wrong?

Kami: Thanks for the comment.

About the brother: There could be a history there and the final straw was met. Clearly Khayr, Wikilat and the man with him all met prior to this kidnaping so there’s some possibility that something happened there. Have no fears for the subject is answered in a later chapter. :)

To sum it up, each character has a complete history and any strings that may seem unattached at any point will eventually be tied together - I would hope! However, if you spot another oddity feel free to point it out because it may not have been intended.

aldriq:
aldriq said:
But still, it reads much better on a white page.
I agree whole heartedly on this. The Paradox background is one reason why I don’t read so many Victoria AARs. Although I suppose the backgrounds really only affect the narrative types.

aldriq said:
I've loved the idea of books with power over reality since the Myst games/novels, although I suspect there'll be a lot more blood and guts in your story
The Myst games do that? To be honest I could never sit through an hour of the first Myst game and wrote off the entire series. But I am hoping to gear toward a more action styled story rather than have old men going back and forth. There may be some of that but it isn’t going to take over the story like in some narratives.

On your third point, there’s a lot one can do when one expects the time to change. If you’re right, then Khayr could really be ruthless, couldn’t he.

To all
: One of my main concerns about writing anything is having carboard-cutout characters. If this happens to anyone I give names to after Chapter 4, then be sure to let me know. It’ll be something I’ll work on in the future and I’ll try to make them more personable in this story.

Edit: And I'm mostly caught up in doing my pictures. This means I'll be able to refine the pics I've already attempted and make them better. The pics may not be greatly improved but they ought to get better with time.

Edit 2: This Chapter was too large for me to edit twice tonight so I can only offer the rough cut. I'm definitely going to change my editing habits so you end up with better chapters in the future.
 
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Brandenburg III

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The new world materialized as it must’ve appeared to Colombus after so many days of water, suddenly, there was land. And like the explorer from 1492 this new world was strange.

Looking down János discovered he was no longer wearing the clothes he had worn when he was in the basement. Instead he was dressed down in foreign attire. And, as an afterthought, his hand went to the side of his face. It wasn’t slick. It wasn’t wet. A sigh flowed through him like calming waters. János wouldn’t have to explain what had happened in his world.

Still stuck in place, János looked around. He couldn’t get over his surprise; Khayr’s trick had worked. His eyes moved skyward where a strong covering draped over his head. Beautiful banisters rose from the ground like flowers in full bloom, like gardens bronzed in time, forever young. The place was perfectly stunning. And if he weren’t forced unto this world he might’ve enjoyed these first few moments.


“Dey! Dey!” a youth yelled from the other end of the long, open hall. When he came to János the youth knelt, out of breath and gasping for air, “You must come to the hall, quick!”

Hesitation slipped through János’ mind as he tried wrapping his mind around the foreign word ‘Dey’ and why this young man was kneeling before him. The pleading eyes of the youth did little to provide explanation for this sudden surprise, “What is it?”

“The navy,” the youth’s chest heaved. “The Divan says its of the most importance and requires your presence immediately.”

Deducing that he was a man of power and a threatening situation had splashed itself upon him moments after his arrival, he knew he had no time to find somewhere, sit and think. “Where are they?”

The youth stared at János oddly before answering, “They’re in the Council’s Chambers.”

János didn’t know where the Council Chambers were located and was sure to lose his way in what seemed a magnificent structure. The suspicion in the boy’s demeanor did nothing to soothe his nerves. “Let’s go.”

“Me?”

“Yes. You take me there.”

The boy’s feet moved fast through the building but János had to do little in the way of keeping pace. He was sure the youth was minding that the man was older and as a result, moved slower. There were so many turns, stairs and rooms that if János had attempted finding his way alone, he would’ve found himself lost after a brief amount of time.

Passing by so many ornate objects and beautified mosaics, János assumed Rome must’ve had some artistic influence on a place like this. Although he couldn’t validate this adventure’s historical accuracy, it had to be real because everything else seemed to be.

And as if pushed off a ledge and thrown from his daydream, János discovered himself at a door with voices booming from the other side. The youth looked at János and spoke, “Would you like me to wait here for you?”

János reasoned quickly that he’d probably get lost finding his way out. Then he considered that getting lost in this place probably wouldn’t be a bad thing. “No,” János began, “No, you can leave me here.” The youth nodded his head and disappeared before another thought flitted through János’ head.

Pushing against the door with his hands - he hadn’t knocked, he hadn’t even thought of it! - the husk of wood and metal gravitated inward, obeying János’ silent demand without a sound. As the door opened farther and allowed more light to travel into the corridor János heard the talking in the room lessen so much so that not even a whisper was heard. When the door had reached its apex and János stood inside the room he noticed four men standing around a table with a few length of parchment scattered across the top. They were all looking at him. János closed the door.

“You’re the Divan,” János spoke slowly when the door closed.

“And you’re the Dey,” one of the men talked back with a grin on his face. The response made János wonder, was this a friend of the Dey’s or a rival? He decided it was best to remain neutral until he understood who everyone was, or until he knew their names.

With János moving closer to the table he said, “What’s the problem?”

“The boy didn’t explain it to you?” the same man spoke. “I’ll take care of that problem later.”

“No,” János spoke hurriedly, fearing he trapped the boy in trouble. “He spoke of a problem with the navy. I was hoping that you might shed more light on the problem since it wouldn’t have been wise to have the conversation out there, in the open.”

The man recoiled.

János found himself easing into the conversation, and his new skin without much problem. However, he had only just arrived and was dealing with a problem without a chance to think about his troubles. Maybe once he had a second to rest his mind and think on the matter true fear and confusion would set in but for now, the scene felt like a play.

After clearing his throat the man looked between the sheetspon the table and back to János, “It’s a mutiny, we-“

“It is not a mutiny,” another called from across the table.

“What Saïd is trying to say,” the man pointed haphazardly to the man denying the mutiny, “is that he’s so protective of his men that his opinion doesn’t matter in this discussion.”

“And what Farid is trying to say,” Saïd responded, “is that he wants to run the entire military by edging the navy out of existence.”

Farid chuckled, “It isn’t much of a navy anyway. All they’re doing is causing trouble, and for what? A few ducats they’re not receiving this month.”

“They’ve earned it,” Saïd spoke.

“When was the last time they fought a battle protecting our shores?” Farid argued.

“What are the solutions you four have come up with?” János intervened before Saïd had a chance at a rebuttal.

Farid spoke first, “Disbanding the navy.”

“No,” Saïd interjected. “What should we do if another nation declares war? Who will protect our fishing vessels and merchant ships? It looks like Morocco and Tunisia are comfortable maintaining the status quo so there is nothing to fear on land-“

“-except bandits, invasions and nomads,” Farid mumbled under his breath.

“-other than phantoms Farid concocts for his own gains. The larger the army, the larger his power.”

“And the more ships we have, the more power Saïd receives.”

“You know me better than that,” Saïd answered.

“Only too well,” Farid glared.

It was clear to János that these two were natural rivals. Military men who wanted to raise in the ranks always had to be intelligent and strong. Neither of these men could be trusted for an honest opinion. “Is there a neutral proposal in this somewhere?” János asked.

From the other end of the table a man spoke up, properly, “I am the treasurer, Hamad, wishing to speak.”

Silence reigned for a few seconds as all eyes turned to János. He realized that he had to give the order, and in doing so, realized just how much power he had over these men. If he had power over the military and the treasury, then he must have power over the entire nation. However large it was he wasn’t certain but it was most certainly considered his.

“Speak,” János gave his permission.

Hamad began, “I fear Farid is right. We cannot maintain the navy. It is a needless expense as our treasury does nothing but deplete because of it. Much of our army would have to be sacrificed to keep a hold on these ships and their maintenance on the off chance we’ll need them during war isn’t worth the cost. If we remove these ships and the expense of the sailor’s salaries, our treasury will no longer be at risk.”

“There you have it,” Farid spoke. “Even Hamad says removing the navy is an intelligent move.”

“What of the families of these sailors? And the sailors themselves? Where are they going to find work? How are they going to eat without an income?” Saïd asked.

“How is this nation going to pay them with the sailors sucking the treasury dry?” Farid fought back.

János watched the Divan drift into verbal warfare, listening to each side battle the other, neither willing to give in to a single demand. Farid wanted his power over the army, Saïd wanted strength for his navy, and, seemingly to protect his men while Hamad had a clear claim that the navy was sinking the nation economically. But there was still one more man, sitting in silence in spite of his vociferous peers.

“And what of you?” János questioned the silent one.

The room grew quiet as the others stared toward the man. He didn’t speak. Instead, Hamad spoke in his place, “Fouad accompanied me to prove my point. We don’t need a fleet because-“

“Let’s hear what he has to say,” János interrupted.

“It is true,” Fouad spoke. “Our Muslim neighbors are friendly for the moment and the Christians are busy fighting Granada and amongst themselves. Our worry is only in our southern provinces where bandits run and nomads take. A navy is of no use in places without water.”

Saïd appealed, “Dey, you must consider this. It is better to have a fleet than to not have a fleet. What should we do if our neighbors are suddenly less friendly? Or if the Christians organize against us or our brethren?”

Farid laughed, “The Christians organize? They’ll fight one another on Europe until the end of time. They’re too concerned with themselves.”

“If they do organize,” Fouad went on as though he hadn’t been interrupted, “they won’t come after Algiers first. Morocco would be the first logical step and even then, Iberia would stumble through the Atlas mountains as lost as a babe without its mother. There is nothing to fear from them.”

“And our neighbors,” Saïd questioned. He already knew the answer but he was fighting a losing cause, “If they come our way they’ll have free reign on our shores, destroying trade and fishing all along the coast. In addition, they’ll be able to land wherever they please and it’ll take months before the army can adequately respond.”

“Your paranoid delusions do not flatter you,” Farid cut in.

“Morocco is preparing a defense should the Iberians come,” Fouad went on, ignoring Farid’s slights. “And Tunisia has sent something for our Dey. A gift that has just arrived this morning.”

“A gift?” János inquired. Rare pieces of art? Enough money to avoid making a decision on whether or not to keep the navy? A teleport back to Hungary? Or better, a magical carpet so he could wash away his fears in a 1981 democratic country?

“A young girl,” Fouad corrected János’ reckless dreams. “Apparently she’s the daughter of Chief ‘Uthman of Tunisia. So you see, there will be no trouble from the Tunisians for quite a while.”

János repeated, “A girl...”

“Yes,” Fouad went on. “And quite attractive too. Its another step in the right direction in building your haram. Maybe the people will soon forget the rumors that have been flying around.”

“What rumors?”

“Dey, you spend too much time in these chambers and not enough in your own.”

“This doesn’t matter,” Saïd spoke, all eyes turning toward him. “The lives of our sailors are more important than the afternoon activities of our leader.”

János wanted to delay in making a decision but this convention was put in place for him to make a stand about what to do with the navy and all sides had offered their views. The time for stalling had ceased.

“Saïd,” János looked upon the man, “we cannot maintain the navy. It is a drain.”

“You’re making the wrong decision,” Saïd said.

Farid jumped in again, “What other choice is there? To choke the region’s economy so you can maintain power for a few more months? You’re being selfish, Saïd.”

“And you’re being opportunistic.” Then toward János. “You must reconsider.”

János didn’t speak.

“At least,” Saïd continued, “let them keep the ships. Let them earn a living pirating those to our north. With so many soldiers aboard, not enough will find jobs. Idle men create problems.”

“We could sell those ships and turn the sailors into soldiers,” Farid spoke eagerly.

“I thought you were trying to save money, not waste it.”

János pointed his question toward Hamad, “You’re the treasurer, what do you think?”

“If the sailors cause trouble after the ships are sold, whose to say how much their trouble will cost? But if they’re given the ships and are given the right to pillage foreign shores while paying a percentage token to Algiers,” Hamad smiled, “then it may not be a bad alternative.”

Fouad stood, “Of course, if we take this action then it may shine more attention upon us.”

“I’ll lead them,” Saïd spoke. “We’ll not be caught and we’ll not fly the Algiers flag. With someone like me aboard the ships leading those men, our success will be assured.”

“You would leave your Dey so easily,” Farid accused. “Who will lead his navy?”

“With the removal of these ships, Farid, he doesn’t have a navy.”

“Fine, fine,” János waived his hands as though he were trying to physically shove the argumentative aura from the room. “Take the ships and go. But before you do, work out some kind of agreement with Hamad.”

Saïd smiled. Farid fumed. Hamad stood and Fouad sat.

“This is a bad mistake,” Farid foretold as he walked by János to leave the room. Fouad remained seated while Hamad and Saïd convened on one side of the table, talking low.

János spoke, “Fouad. You have something to show me?”

“She will not be ready until tonight,” Fouad responded. “If it makes you feel better, I will escort her personally when she’s prepared.”

Jnáos still didn’t know where to go. He wasn’t even sure how to leave the building. “You will show her to me now!” János barked. Fouad rose to his feet quickly as both Saïd and Hamad gave a glance to János before resuming their conversation.

“If that is what you wish, Dey,” Fouad apologized as he made his way around the table. “I will escort you to your room and bring her up shortly.”

János nodded in response, relief spreading through him faster than a black sandstorm.

After János arrived in his room there were a few people there already, prepared to dress him. Not wanting to appear out of place he let them take their time, setting out the clothes he was meant to wear. While they were wildly different from those he wore, he was sure there was a purpose behind it; whether it was to maintain cleanliness or cultural identity he wasn’t sure. And he wasn’t going to test the boundaries of this book just yet.

Once the servants left, János climbed into his clothes and waited near the balcony’s edge where a number of plants and flowers were placed to add color. A quick glance over the side revealed what seemed to be the palace pool, again surrounded by a number of colored plants and hand-picked tiles. He was so entranced by the work that had been put into his surroundings that not a thought had entered his mind about how the rest of the country must’ve appeared.

János was hardly finished observing what lied below him when a hand rested upon his forearm. His attention diverted quickly and he saw Fouad standing there with his hand outstretched. Standing up straight Fouad spoke diplomatically, “A gift from Chief ‘Uthman of Tunisia, his fourth daughter, Nijma.”


She stood with her face veiled behind Fouad, as though she were hiding secrets best kept undiscovered. But she was by no means hidden. Even in the shadows of the room he could see the rough outline of her body underneath a long, yet thin robe. The veil over her face bore a gentle desert rose emblem barely seen in the near-transparent white. A trace of her lips could be seen, the outline of her nose and the movements of the veil swaying back and forth as she took and released shallow breaths. Nijma reminded him of Cleopatra. Not the one often spoke about in history books, rather those he saw in western films when he was a youth.

“One last thing, Dey,” Fouad spoke. “Should I come and find you when dinner is served, or should I leave you be?”

The thought of food hadn’t entered János’ mind since then. Realizing he hadn’t eaten since Madrid he felt his stomach begin to growl. Little did he know the adventure he’d take or he probably would’ve polished off his Spanish plate.

“Come back when its ready,” János advised as he set his eyes upon Nijma. And as Fouad turned to leave János called out, “One more thing. Find me some canvases. And paint.”

Fouad looked at him oddly, “Yes, Dey.”

Fouad turned to leave again but was stopped by János’ voice, “I want you to prepare it in a certain way.” János left his spot, having almost forgotten a recipe for paint he recalled the Italians used during this time. It was a safe-guarded secret for nearly three hundred years and he was about to give this information to the Algiers people.

Returning to his spot, János spoke, handing the recipe to Fouad, “Memorize this. Once its in your mind I want you to destroy these notes. I want you to hire two or three people to make this paint and you will watch over them to ensure that its done correctly.”

“But what of my other duties?” Fouad asked.

“You said yourself, there is little to fear. Chief ‘Uthman has sent his daughter, the Moroccans are more concerned about Castile and the Christians are concerned with one another. You make it sound as though you have little to do. That is, unless you want to go against my wishes.”

“No, my Dey,” Fouad backed away with the sheet in his hand. “It will be done.”

In no time at all the man departed, leaving János and Nijma alone. János couldn’t go a day without painting and had to have something to do while stuck in this world. And if he had to be unkind or direct to get what he wanted, then he was going to have to be unkind and direct.

Once he fought through his internal turmoil of being uncharacteristically mean, János faced the girl in his room. She hadn’t budged although the soft fabric gently wavered in the breeze through the open balcony. It kept the room cool but did little for his racing heart.

“What am I to do with you?” János spoke to himself aloud.

Nijma spoke for the first time with her hands holding one another in front of her, “Whatever you wish.”

János looked up and at the girl, hearing her speak for the first time. The sound a rainbow makes when it breaks the sky couldn’t be any sweeter. “Why did your father send you here?” he asked directly. He couldn’t fathom a father damning his daughter to an unknown fate for irresponsible reasons.

“For the same reason he sent off his other daughters,” Nijma explained. “To strengthen relations with bordering regions.”

“That’s the only reason?” János hadn’t expected better but it sounded so cruel when laid out in a blatant way.

She hesitated. “He’s a paranoid fool who thinks everyone’s out to get him. He trembles when he hears of bandits from the south crossing into the east or west, thinking another ruler will destroy him. In his mind the only way to preserve his independence is through spreading his line, even if he sends his daughters off not to marry, but to serve in a haram.”

Janos didn’t have time to think of a response but he must’ve made a facial expression that made Nijma continue, “I’m not a fool. I can see how he reacted when he received news. And I lived in that place long enough to hear about its troubles. It doesn’t take long to catch on to the good and the bad things happening in Tunisia.”

Then János spoke, “He sounds like a desperate man.”

“Only desperate for another drink,” Nijma added, removing her veil and head scarf. She laid them on a table nearby, “He is not a good Muslim and for that, he is not a good man.”

“And me?” János perked.

“What of you?”

“Am I a good Muslim man?”

“I do not even know you.”

He was discouraged. She wasn’t going to be forthcoming but she was surprisingly direct. He didn’t think women of this age spoke in this way. Not that he had much experience since she was the only one he met.

“Maybe you don’t. But we can start to know one another. You can call me, Já- You can call me by my name.”

“I- I cannot. I am only here as a side-companion. I cannot call you anything, you must call on me.”

Refusing to press her, János turned away. Briefly looking through the opening of the balcony he inhaled deeply and allowed the air to leave him gently. “You’re going to be difficult...”

“I’ll do whatever it is you ask of me but there are some things that I am unable to do. I am only yours, a gift.”

János was becoming irritated by her nonchalance and her subjective behavior. Never before had he seen someone walk such a steady line, at least not since he last left the bloc.

“If that’s the way you want it,” he spoke, “then sit on the bed until Fouad returns.”

Nijma moved from her spot and walked toward the bed, sitting gingerly. János could tell she was in thought but he didn’t bother asking; he probably wouldn’t receive an adequate answer anyway. Until Fouad returned, János sat out upon the balcony, looking over the intrinsic artistic décor he’d been staring at before Nijma came into his life. If he could consider this his life.

Within the hour János was called to dinner and he brought Nijma along in spite of Fouad’s objections. The scene only lasted a short while but János could tell it wasn’t the right thing to do, at least, it didn’t used to be.

When they had finished, János and Nijma were escorted by Fouad to János’ room. As the door opened and it was revealed to him, János saw a different world than the one he had seen before. The shades to the balcony were closed and siphoned off by a green cloth covering, hiding the moon and stars. Elsewhere, canvases were placed throughout. János didn’t dare count so high. They varied in shape and size and János had to take a moment for himself to marvel at the speed and the amount that had been delivered to him the short time.

“And the paint,” Fouad spoke, still standing behind János, “is off to your left. It should be enough to last through tomorrow. Should you require more, then more will be made.”

János took a few steps inside the room, looking around and thinking that it was going to take him weeks to fill in all these canvases. “How did you get all this so fast?”

“You,” Fouad answered, “asked for them. It was my job, as you pointed out, to retrieve these supplies and so I did. Dey, I assume you’ll need nothing more from me throughout the night?”

“No, nothing,” János spoke, still entranced by what he was seeing.

Fouad bowed slightly and left the room, closing the door behind him. Nijma was off to the side wearing the white veil and scarf.

“How will I get back?” she asked.

“Back where?” János turned, peeling his eyes away from the prospect of art.

“Where I’m to sleep. The place is still new to me and much larger than the one I have come from. It will be impossible for me to find my room.”

“Don’t worry about it. You won’t be going back tonight.”

“Then what will you have me do?” she timidly asked.

“You’ll be my subject. I have to paint but its too dark to paint what I usually paint.”

“What do you usually paint?” she spoke warily.

János shook his head, “It isn’t important. Its been more than a day and I need to do something. Sit in the chair and remove your veil.”

“Paint a boxthorn.”

“I wanted to paint something with a pleasant personality.” János had no idea what a boxthorn was and tried skirting its description.

“I cannot permit you to reveal me to the canvas.”

“Perhaps I was wrong,” János tried hiding his irritation. “I think I may have underestimated the pleasantness of a boxthorn and overestimated the pleasantness of this girl.”

Nijma glared at him with a certain toughness shining through. It seemed years and years living with her drunk of a father had allowed her some freedoms she normally wouldn’t have enjoyed. Although a strict moral code flowed through her society and religion and right into her bedchamber every night, a few ideas were keeping her from doing things, minor things that he asked.

“Will you send for someone to escort me where I am to sleep?” Nijma asked.

János didn’t know why he thought it but he did. The conversation from earlier swept through his mind like a firestorm in an alley, reminding him that the people on the streets were talking about his masculinity, were talking about his lack of appreciation for the fairer side.

Instead of sending her off or answering her right away, János found a brush that looked quite old, placed it inside a small jar of paint and picked up three colors, bringing them to the nearest canvas. Only when he brought a chair close enough to sit did he answer Nijma’s request, “No. You’ll remain here for the night. Light the room a little more and then you can sleep in the bed.”

As János began painting the overlay of the room, he heard the racket she was making while looking for lanterns or candles. Nothing broke, as far as he could gauge, but he could tell by the sounds behind him that she wasn’t happy. For a man who could get most female models to do as he liked, he discovered he was having a troubling time in this new century. If the European women of this same age were as disagreeable as Nijma, he had to give much credit to the infamous Giacomo Casanova.



 
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Qorten

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Just read the two updates you produced so far. You have something with Algiers, have you? :)

Anyway, it's good writing and a good premise. Is this a story that will continue throughout the whole EU3 timeline, or only until Janos dies in the world of the book?
 
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