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loki100

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I have to say this is the best plot driven AAR I've read ... its full of twists and turns but all plausible and I'm deeply impressed at the way you hold it all together

& we've yet to see an attempt to bring Rurikovich power into the Caucasus ...
 

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And in a rare double update, here's the epilogue to Book One (for those of you who didn't notice, I've now divided the story into books as well as parts and chapters.)

Epilogue

"... And so you see, sire, there is no way the King will accept our proposals now that his mother has been deposed. I'm afraid your plans for interference in the Cuman provinces will have to be put on hold."

Papa Rurikovich, as he was known, listened to his nephew's report. He did not mind the man's blunt, straightforward manner in talking to him. Pride was an overrated emotion which simply caused errors in judgement.

"Thank you, Dmitri. That will be all."

Papa Rurikovich stared deep into the roaring fire as Dmitri left the room. So, the Bagratunis had actually done something right for once. Their realm may have become rich under David, Henrique and Affonso, but it was corrupt and weak. They had two or three good generals, but they ruled over a host of disorganised militia. How they'd won their little war he did not know.

Ah yes, the war. It was now a month since Cristina's arrest, and the Georgians had managed to force the Turks to make peace. The Georgians had only gained some little desert province, but that did not matter. They were all just happy to have survived.

The old man watched the leaping flames. He could still remember old King Georgios Bagratuni. He'd met him once at a state banquet, as a child, when some deal was being worked out between Rostov and Georgia.

He recalled a certain sadness on Georgios' face, a kind of resigned weariness at the manifold wickedness which the world threw at him.

He still could not understand that. Why let the world beat you down? Kill it and eat the carcass- that was how he'd lived his life.

He thought about the recent disruptions to the family order. Another of his many nephews had become the Emperor of Byzantium- not that that meant much any more. But The Emperor had dealt swiftly and mercilessly with his own son, when he'd tried to seize power.

Now, the great prince's grand-daughter had rebelled against the order. She would have to be dealt with, of course- but that would be simple. Just send an order to a power-hungry madman in the City of Good Fortune- take a decent longbow, find a good vantage point, and kill the Russian in the Georgian court.

Papa Rurikovich looked down. There, on the floor, were ants, carrying bread into cracks in the cobblestones, so alike the ones Henrique had seen, almost a quarter of a century ago. All of them were hiding from his mighty gaze, taking what little scraps they could from the crumbs around them.

The Prince wasn't dead yet. He still had time.

He had no doubt any more. He would win his battles. The world would soon be his.


THE END
OF BOOK ONE

loki100- I can say nothing but thanks- you and the others who've commented have been very supportive of this AAR. And the Rurikovichs are determined here, especially since, as said above, they have interests in Byzantium.
 
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Truth be told, I didn't think of Pereyaslava until Loki mentioned her...

An ignomious end for Cristina - I think the Byzantines of old (that is, before they turned into an underperforming franchise of the Rurikovich juggernaut) would've approved - although they probably would've simply stuck her in a convent after the blinding.

Papa Rurikovich sounds like a ruthless bastard. I hope Affonso is up to the challenge. It might be very fortunate that he'll have some of that Rurikovich evil on his own side - if Pereyaslava survives, that is.
 

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BOOK TWO:
Five Against Rostov

Prologue

1120.

The court room was one of the oldest buildings in the palace. Around its walls lay the banners of the King, all emblazoned with symbols of both Portugal and Georgia to signify his ancestry.

The room was large, as was the great table in its centre. It was often used by the King of Georgia for grand banquets and state occasions.

But there were only five men in the room on this day. All of them were sitting at the head of the table, deep in thought.

First was the man at the head of the table. His hair was thick, quite long, and as black as coal, but his skin was almost as white as milk. He was young- only about twenty- and he was clean shaven. But his most distinguishing features were his eyes. The irises were a deep red colour, the colour of blood.

His face had a fierce and a dark expression, as his eyeballs darted around the table, looking at the others gathered there. He was a powerful man, one of the most powerful figures in all the chaos of the East. He was King Affonso of Georgia, known as the Merciful, or sometimes as the Red-Eyed Prince.

Affonso was a strange individual. He'd been brought up the same as any crown prince would, being taught in the arts of kingship and combat. But Affonso had rebelled against the systems of nobility. Instead of respecting the other members of the Georgian court, he had learned to hate their racism, their prejudice, their arrogance.

He believed that all the people under his rule should have equality. He longed for the day when nobody cared who your family was, or whereabouts you came from.

But even as a king, he could not accomplish this. He did not want any kind of conflict with the powerful landowners- they wouldn't hesitate to depose him if he overstepped his mandate.

And so, his reforms, although vicious and far-reaching, failed to achieve what he truly desired. But he was confident that all things would come to pass in good time.

He turned to the man on his left. "Akakide. What do you have for me?"

The man he addressed had the same dark hair, though it was cut a lot shorter on him. He was getting on in years- now about fifty years old- and was covered in scars and bruises. He had grown a short beard, which he loved to stroke in deep thought.

This man was the last of the old court of King David to remain in the employ of the current ruler. He was Affonso's great-uncle, Akakide Bagratuni, the Grand Marshal of the armies of Georgia.

A long, long time ago, he had killed Affonso's father and grandfather, in order to stop them tearing the realm apart. After this, he had descended into a bout of madness that lasted many years, from which he had only recently recovered.

"General Kommenus has routed the Azeri armies, sire, on the outskirts of our province of Tao. Our troops only suffered minor casualties, especially when compared with the many Azeri dead. We hope to have this war finished by the winter, my liege."

Affonso nodded, satisfied. "Good. That should be one less problem we have to deal with, and will add a significant chunk of land to our realm. Romanos, will the Turks have anything to say about this?"

The man to the left of Akakide was in his mid-thirties, with brown hair and blue eyes. Originally a Byzantine nobleman, Romanos had fled Constantinople when the Seljuks had come knocking on the door of the Hagia Sophia.

He was a master diplomat, and had helped Georgia out of many a tight spot. Sometimes honourable and kind, other times ruthless and contemptuous, he could be difficult to work with. But it was worth it- he was the best.

"I doubt they'll kick up too much of a fuss. The Turks have too many problems of their own, what with the fragmentation of their realm. Besides, they bit off more than they could chew the last time they attacked us."

Affonso nodded. "Excellent. Does anybody else have anything to report?"

"I am concerned about our finances, Affonso. We are quite heavily in debt..."

Pereyaslava, the Queen and Steward of the realm, was blonde and stunningly beautiful. As Affonso's wife, she was one of only of a tiny number of people who ever addressed him by his first name. She had grown to love him deeply, having betrayed her family and her principles to save his life.

She was a Rurikovich, and that always meant trouble. The Rurikovichs were more like a finely oiled machine than a family- a typical Rurikovich would have no morals, be frighteningly intelligent and unquestioningly loyal to Papa Rurikovich, the head of the strange Russian clan.

But Pereyaslava had foiled one of their plans and had cut all her ties with them. Affonso, fearing for her life, had made sure that her security was very, very tight. But there had been no attempts on her life in the three years since the... incident involving a group of Navarran assassins and Affonso's mother.

Affonso was always pleased when he thought of the Navarrans. After Cristina's arrest, he'd personally gone to visit them. As they were all fanatical Georgian patriots, they had always supported whoever was in power at the time. And when Affonso had taken over properly, they simply switched sides to support him.

Affonso now had Demon's Peak on his side. With that asset, he hoped that things would be a little easier for him.

"I'll see what I can do." He smiled at her briefly, before looking at the final member of the little circle.

Clad in black bandages, nobody could see his face. A strange pagan from the east, the Whisperer was a mystery to the Georgians. He was about thirty, and seemed to know a lot about the workings of the European world. He was in charge of all the espionage activities in the court.

"I have nothing to report, King. The Rurikovichs remain quiet, and there have been no other disturbances."

Affonso was a little unsure about what to make of the Whisperer. He quite liked him personally, but was a little wary of him nonetheless. There were certain questions which the Whisperer had never answered- like how he knew about Demon's Peak before he'd met any of the people who were involved with it.

"In that case, I have other business to attend to. I hope you will excuse me."

The council dispersed. Affonso walked away, thinking.

In three days time, his son would have his second birthday. He wondered what would become of Sancho. Would he be a great king or an ignorant wastrel? A mighty warrior or a devious trickster?

But that was not important right now. Affonso had other matters to attend to. His son was not a king yet.


Stuyvesant- His own Rurikovich will be a tremendous help. Pereyaslava will be able to provide the kind of moral-less evil which is sadly lacking in Affonso, and is imperative for him to keep his grip on power.
 
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loki100

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nice change of pace ... though it seems there are issues around The Whisperer that are yet to resolved? Given your lack of powerful allies in region - Byzantium being as Stuyvesant puts it a 'Rurikovich franchise' and the Turks no friend of Georgia you'll have real problems fending them off when Papa R bestirs himself (somehow I see Papa R with a large moustache and a disturbing taste for white uniforms).
 

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An error was made- Affonso's first son is called Sancho, not Manoel. This shall be fixed once I've posted this.

PART ONE:

Kill the Russian.

Chapter One.

Dramatis Personae
Affonso, King of Georgia.
Pereyaslava, Queen and Steward of Georgia, and an estranged Rurikovich.
Romanos, the Chancellor.
Akakide, the Marshal and great-uncle to Affonso.
The Whisperer, the Spymaster.
Papa Rurikovich, Prince of Rostov and head of the Family Rurikovich.
Maria, imprisoned wife of Akakide.


"Soon, my love. I promise."

Akakide tore himself away from the bars of Maria's cell and ran up the stairs, not looking back for fear of weeping.

She had betrayed him, it was true. But their marriage was still one of the few in the Georgian court with any love in it.

She had slept with the disgraced spymaster, Demetrios, as a maddened Akakide had been away fighting pagans in the north. But he could overlook that. The man she'd married had not been the one who had left her to go to war.

But Akakide was back now, and had worn Affonso down over the course of the last three years in order to get him to release her. And Affonso had agreed, provided that she did not leave the palace, and that she remained discreet- the people had been told by Romanos and Affonso that she was a traitor, and releasing her would seem absurd.

Akakide returned to his study, shaking slightly. Affonso had said that he would announce the release this week. He knew that the King was doing a lot to help him- but then again, he was the one who had imprisoned her in the first place.

Akakide sighed, took a sip of wine, and began to read the message from the Whisperer at his writing table.

Then spurted the wine all over the parchment.

The Emperor of the Greeks had just been found dead, with a sword clearly made by Affonso's personal blacksmith stuck in his heart.

Akakide sat back in shock. The Emperor was a Rurikovich, and relations were rocky enough with that family without something like this happening to upset the situation.

This was a disaster. How Romanos would turn this one around he did not know.

He got up and began to head for the Whisperer's rooms, limping with a strange gait brought about from an arrow in the Cuman War.

He marched into the Whisperer's rooms. "What the hell is going on?", he asked. "Is it true that the Emperor has been killed?"

The Whisperer had been sitting at his own writing- table. The moment that Akakide entered he had rushed to the door and closed it, after peering down the corridor to make sure nobody was watching or listening. "Something even odder has happened than a mere murder."

The two of them sat down at a table, facing each other. Akakide spoke first: "What on earth is it? Why would any Georgian in their right mind want to kill the Emperor?"

"Because they didn't. I don't know who killed him, but no Georgian who knew anything would be idiotic enough to anger the Rurikovichs this much. And this wasn't just some random murder, or the actions of some xenophobic peasant- they knew exactly what they were doing. They left no trace of their identity at all."

The Whisperer stroked his chin. "No, this was a meticulously planned killing, and was performed by an extremely skilled assassin. This was political. And the Rurikovichs will be sure to pin it on us."

Akakide groaned. "What do we do?

"We do what we always do- leave the diplomacy game to Romanos.

"But you still haven't told me what this thing is that is odder than the murder."

The Whisperer smiled beneath his bandages, but frowned for Akakide's benefit. "A message was left with the corpse. It said only this: Next we'll kill the Russian in the Georgian court..."



loki100- The Whisperer certainly isn't revealing all to the Georgians. That won't be explained for a while, but more people will start to suspect that he isn't quite what he seems.

Also, now I can't stop thinking of Papa Rurikovich like that. :D
 
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PART ONE:

Kill the Russian.

Chapter Two.

Picture a palace of crumbling stone, hundreds of years old now, covered with green ivy.

It isn't really a Palace, to be strictly accurate. It's a castle, but is inhabited by a powerful king.

Grey clouds circle like buzzards. The city outside, known as the City of Good Fortune because of its riches, is normally a bustling port, a hive of activity, where merchants from as far away as England and France come to trade.

But today, the air is silent. A bird tweets in the distance, before falling silent.

There are no ships in the port, no people on the streets. Nobody wanted the sickness which had invaded the city.

Georgia had been afflicted by the plague a few years ago, but it had gone away fairly quickly. Only a handful of people had died because of it.

Now, it is back, and seems to be here to stay.

A man called Akakide kisses his wife between the bars. He'd caught the disease a long time in the past, back when he was a child. Maria had caught it in the small epidemic a few years ago.

"Affonso says no. I'm sorry."

Akakide's face is etched with sorrow. "The murder of the Greek Emperor means that he wants to tread lightly for a while, and releasing you would just serve to rock the boat. He's told me that he'll release you as soon as the trouble is over."

Maria smiles, tracing his lips with her fingers. "I trust you. Don't worry."

Akakide kisses her again, before retracing his steps to leave the dungeon. But as he passes the cell on the left of his wife, he glances into it.

The man in the cell is only semi-visible, with half of his face hidden in shadow. But his eyes pierce through the gloom. They are eyes of... well, of a kind of hatred, but not one hellbent on revenge and punishment. They mock the Marshal. The slight smile on the man's mouth is contemptuous and twisted.

Here is a man who Akakide knows well. Here is a man who has been betrayed by those whom he'd trusted the most. Here is a man who has seen his life destroyed by the Georgian state.

But he has no desire to fight and kill. He knows what is going to happen. With the Rurikovichs on Affonso's back, this man knows that it is only a matter of time before the state becomes as crumbling and tired as the Palace which houses its ruler.

This man just has to watch the world turn, as the only people who ever bested him destroy those who had taken all from him.

Akakide hurries on. He has work to attend to.
 
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so a set up murder of the Emperor, the plague stalks the land, Alfonso is showing signs of putting the safety of the state first rather than of being humane and Papa R is plotting ... has the air of a decline and decay
 

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So, was the Byzantine murder a Rurikovich inside job? A warning, 'we kill our own if they don't toe the line and we're coming for you next'? If that was a Rurikovich job, it's troublesome especially since the assassin(s) was/were able to obtain a sword from Akakide's personal swordsmith - they seem to have access to the highest echelons of the Georgian state. This does not bode well for Pereyaslava's safety.

Papa R as an early-day Stalin? Is that why he hates the Georgians so much? Having difficulty with his own less-than-pure ethnic background? :p
 

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PART ONE:

Kill the Russian.

Chapter Three.


Affonso paced up and down the Great Hall of his palace, deep in thought.

Who had killed the Emperor? It was clearly somebody who wanted to exacerbate the situation between Rostov and Georgia- but other than the Turks, he could not think who.

Georgia's foreign policy hadn't gone too badly, under Akakide's guidance. The Bulgarians, the breakaway Muslim states, and even the Byzantines had been relatively friendly with the Georgians, despite the Rurikovich tensions.

But the Byzantines were now howling at the Georgians about the murder. And Affonso was feeling increasingly powerless. Romanos and the Whisperer had averted outright war, but Affonso was still faced with an furious Rostov, a deadly plague, and the pleas of Akakide to release his wife.

Affonso really did want to help his Marshal. But he was wondering if Akakide was beginning to lose his faith in the king. His face seemed so... haunted, so hollow.

Affonso sighed, and went to the west of the hall. There, a great balcony swept the width of the room, opening onto the silent town below.

Vast waves were battered his little city. The plague-filled streets saw no movement, save a few pitiful rags blowing silently across the street. All in Georgia seemed to be going to the dogs.

Affonso sighed, and listened. Despite the tragedy, his loved the peace it gave him, a silence broken only by the rich sound of the seawater.

The sky was grey, and the sea was black and fierce. A lighthouse flickered distantly, casting its gaze through the fog.

In Affonso's view, there was no sight on earth more powerful and more romantic. The world stretched beyond the oceans, great fortresses and citadels, reaching out to Heaven itself.

And here were they, the limpets of the Black Sea, forever being battered by the dark forces which surrounded them.

Affonso's reverie was shattered. The sound of a plate smashing, followed a few seconds later by a strangled roar was heard in the distance.

Affonso hurried up the steps to find the Whisperer standing rigidly, staring down at a broken plate.

"I don't care", he hissed. "I don't care how valuable it is. You do not insult a man like that."

The Whisperer turned, a savage gaze which pierced Affonso's mind. "I would ask you to keep your wife on a shorter leash, Majesty." His voice was venom and his eyes were steel.

Without another thought, he swept away, leaving Affonso and a broken plate, scattered across a wooden floor.


loki100- yes, the realm is entering a rather bad place. With enemies on three sides now, my only consistent friends are the Muslim states to the east, across the Caspian, who keep asking to ally with me. Which is a tad useless, since they're small, weak and would be able to do virtually nothing in any wars.

Stuyvesant- You might think it's the Rurikovichs, but the Emperor had been toeing the line, despite his incompetence. But you're on the right track with regards to the sword- the court isn't entirely loyal.

And yes, I was thinking a little bit of Stalin with regards to Papa R. He's definitely a pure Russian, though he just happens to be a bit a a racist, which isn't that helpful when his grand-daughters keep marrying Georgians and Navarrans and the like.
 
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loki100

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ummh ... treachery in high places, the Whisperer being a man of dubious (or at least multiple) loyalties - I think Pereyaslava has just called him on it ... and got close to the truth but far enough away for him to act all aggrieved. But it bodes ill for the realm to face internal dissent with so much else going wrong
 

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PART ONE:

Kill the Russian.

Chapter Four.

This really was an excellent wine. Papa Rurikovich would give the French that.

He may have despised their strange Latin ways and their odd language, but even he'd admit that their vineyards were second to none. He would have to visit France more often.

It was strange for the Prince of Rostov to travel so far west, but he'd married off another one of his many granddaughters, this time to the French Crown Prince. Rurikovich influence now stretched across most of Christian Europe. This pleased him immensely.

Papa Rurikovich sighed, got up from his chair, and walked across the room to the screaming man tied to the other wall. He was being tortured, with red-hot irons being placed on his skin.

"You know, Pierre, it really does spoil the mood, having you scream like this." Papa Rurikovich always used his victims' first names when conversing with them- it gave the whole torture experience a much more personal approach.

"Imagine if my wife was here. She would be most distressed at hearing you scream. I'd hate to make her feel bad, so how about you just tell me who sent you to kill me and we can stop this tedious ritual?"

Pierre spat. "I'll never tell you anything, Slavic dog!"

Papa Rurikovich sighed. "I thought you might say that. Well, I think we'll just have to set the dogs on him. Make sure they don't kill him though, gentlemen, we still need some information from him."

The men either side of Pierre nodded. Their faces were blank, their souls were crushed. Ten years in the service of Rurikovichs had made them lose what little humanity they'd ever had.

"Wait! Alright, alright." Pierre looked desperate. "It was a Kievan man, Vladimir. I think he's a vassal of the Prince of Rus. Please though, just... just not the dogs..."

Papa Rurikovich smiled. "Excellent! I'm so glad that we could come to an agreement. Kill him, would you, Alexei."

"Wha... What? No! I told you what you wanted! I trusted you!"

"A rookie's mistake. You have much to learn, though I'm afraid that you aren't going to have the chance to do so. Now, please, I have other matters to attend to."

Papa Rurikovich sat back down in his chair, listening to Pierre's cries as he was dragged away.

Georgia, Georgia... that country was an enigma. What could he do about them? They were like a juicy fly which he was unable to catch. The Whisperer was a crafty foe.

Still, he hoped to capitalise on his disagreement with Pereyaslava. It was a stroke of good fortune that two members of the court were in such a bitter conflict- and that one of them was the Whisperer.

He'd often wondered what had happened to that Asiatic sleuth, after his disappearance in Finland. Maybe the Mongol would once again return to Rurikovich employ, for the right price...

But he'd have to ask his source in the Georgian court about that. The letters he'd received from them had been very informative. Papa Rurikovich was lucky that he was getting information from a member of Affonso's inner circle.

A slight flicker of irritation passed over the great Russian's face. If only that damn Frenchman would stop screaming so loudly, he'd be able to concentrate better...


loki100- The Whisperer certainly does have an interesting past, as mentioned above, and even his most admiring friends are a little suspicious of him. The real question, though, is what his own personal agenda is.
 

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The Byzantines are upset (but how much autonomy do they really have from Papa R?), Papa himself is paying close attention to Georgia, Pereyaslava and the Whisperer are at odds, and there appears to be a mole in the Georgian government. Oh, and there's a plague going 'round. Things are definitely not well in the Kingdom of Georgia... I hope Affonso is up to the challenge.
 

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PART ONE:

Kill the Russian.

Chapter Five.

"I trust you are aware about what is about to happen, Romanos?"

Romanos' face twitched with irritation. "Of course. I'm not stupid, you know."

Across the other side of the table, a man beamed. "Good. Purely out of interest, did you see this coming? Were you aware that I would do this?"

It was midnight, and the two of them were dining in the Great Hall. A lone candle lit up the end of the table, where they were sitting, as the wind whistled through the stones of the Palace.

The food was cold, a pitiful meal of leftover meat and vegetables from a state banquet that had been held a day or two before. The wine was from Romanos' personal supply. The plates had been taken from the palace kitchen.

It was strange for Romanos' guest to want to dine with his captive, given what he was about to do. But he always had been a little strange in his customs.

For the guest had tied Romanos to his chair, and was brandishing a large knife. The Chancellor could still touch his food and drink- only his legs were fastened down. But he had to eat with his fingers- his friend was not stupid.

Romanos knew exactly what the man's game was. He had accepted what was to come.

"If I was aware of what you were going to do, I would hardly have been so unprepared when you dragged me out of my bed. But... I had my suspicions."

The man nodded. "I would expect no less from a man of such a great intellect. I presume you know that I have been leaking information to the Rurikovich family?"

"Yes, I didn't see how it could have been anyone else. Do the Rurikovichs know that you're their mole?"

"Oh no, I'm not stupid. The Rurikovichs could find it in their interests to betray me once Pereyaslava has been dealt with. Much better to keep things anonymous."

Romanos smiled slightly, holding up his glass and staring into the red of the wine. He saw the world through a dark, bloody tint, with the man opposite him looking like a deformed monstrosity.

Was this how Affonso saw everything? Is this what those red eyes do to him? He dismissed the thought. This was no time for idle contemplation. He had to be ready.

"Why me, though? I have to know. Why do I have to die?"

"Because you're not needed, Romanos. All of the other court members have a part in our plans, but you aren't required at all. You can't help us take down the Russian."

He took a sip of his wine. "No, we have a specific plan for each of them. They'll unwittingly help us in our manipulations, and allow us to kill their Queen and raze this ruinous hellhole to the ground. Georgia must be no more, Romanos. And we cannot allow anybody to discover our plans. So if someone is a danger, and we don't need them, why let them live? You have to die, Romanos."

Romanos nodded, slowly. "So when will you do it?"

The man grinned. "Oh, Romanos, I already have. You've been drinking poison for the last five minutes."

Romanos froze, before chuckling slightly. "That was good. I really didn't see it coming."

The man smiled one final time. "I'm sorry, Romanos. Try to sleep well."

He cleared away the plates, blew out the candle, and walked away. Romanos closed his eyes, waiting for death to come.




THE END
OF PART ONE.


So, the mole in the Georgian court is now a murderer too. Could it be an enraged Whisperer, or maybe an increasingly bitter Akakide?



Stuyvesant- None of the Rurikovichs have autonomy from Papa. However, it should be noted that there is no longer a Rurikovich on the throne, despite the large number of that family in their court.

Affonso is certainly competent enough to deal with the realm's many problems- but the question is whether or not he can rely on his friends. Somebody is a mole, and now a murderer, too.
 
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loki100

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my vote isn't the Whisperer ... whatever he's up to I don't think its to hand Georgia to Papa R ... and the mole thinks that Papa R doesn't know who he is which is either (a) very optimistic or (b) very interesting
 

Stuyvesant

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Ooh, very theatrical in its execution - yet the reasoning behind it is very much rational, deliberate. I can't see it being Akakide for that reason - he's not that coldly calculating. Plus, why would he want to destroy Georgia, after he's done so much to try to save it?

The Whisperer... Don't really think so, either. He has apparently worked directly for Papa R before, so why the subterfuge in that case? And what does he gain by destroying Georgia?

There are two phrases that might be hints: the reference that the mysterious mole is a friend of Romanos, and that he had always been a bit strange in his customs. I just can't tie it to any specific character right now.

I'll settle for the Komnenos general, because in my mind both he and Romanos come from Byzantium originally - enough to call him a 'friend', perhaps. Oh, and I believe I recall he is considered a bit of an intriguer.
 

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PART TWO:

Into the Gates of Hell.

Chapter One.

Dramatis Personae

The Whisperer, the Spymaster of Georgia.
Pereyaslava, the Queen of Georgia.
Constantijn, and old friend of the Whisperer.
Papa Rurikovich, Prince of Rostov.
Affonso, King of Georgia.
Dmitri, nephew of Papa Rurikovich.

He didn't like what he had to do. But he had no choice.

He walked away from the palace. The moon shone down upon him- just him, only him. It was like it was accusing him.
What you're doing is wrong, it seemed to say.

He knew this. But he also knew that there was little he could do. He simply wrapped his long fur coat around him, and headed down the hill upon which the Palace stood, silently making his way through the town.

With the city in the grip of a deadly plague, it was easy to walk to the docks unnoticed. The only sound was the creaking of a wooden beam above an empty tavern, devoid of life or laughter.

The Whisperer was uneasy. He had left the palace without telling anybody. The previous night, Romanos had been killed, and any disappearance would be treated as suspicious. It would be difficult to justify his departure, when he returned.

He reached the docks. It was difficult to see at this time of night, but he could just about make out the black waves lapping against the wooden hull of the little ship which was their to take him away.

There, a man nodded to him, holding up a lantern. His name was Constantijn, and was an old friend of the Whisperer. They had fought together in the Dutch rebellion, two years before the Mongol had wound up in Armenia.

The two of them got into the boat, neglecting to speak until the little boat was well away, and the torches of the Palace were nothing but a distant memory.

It was then that Constantijn spoke. "Where are we going, Bagatur? To Cherson? To Constantinople?"

The Whisperer shook his head. "Set sail for the Kingdom of the Cumans, old friend. From there I plan to travel north- to Rostov.

To be continued...


Only a short update, I'm afraid- a longer one will follow.

Stuyvesant- Interesting ideas- though remember that the Whisperer does have a strange agenda to his own. He has no loyalty to the Georgians other than sentimentality, so he may have his reasons for seeing Georgia destroyed.

loki100- Papa Rurikovich doesn't have many spies in Georgia, remember. The only contact that he's been getting is via letters, remember, so he may have no idea whatsoever who the mole is, unless he's worked it out.
 
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Stuyvesant

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This looks rather damning for the Whisperer. Even if he's not the mole, his actions are very suspicious.* I hope his goals are benign for Georgia, as I do rather like him. It'd be a shame to find out he's really been an enemy all along.

*And that's of course exactly what you're trying to achieve here. :)
 

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My suspicion is the Whispering very much has his own agenda .. which may or may not mesh with Georgia's

anyone just to add to the stew of speculation ... if Papa R doesn't know who the mole is, how does he know the mole is telling him the truth? Is this then a very early variant of Maskirovka by Alfonso?
 

Tufto

Orientalist boondoggle
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Oct 16, 2009
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PART TWO:

Into the Gates of Hell.

Chapter Two.

Screams. And then silence, save a faint crackling sound.

The world was cold, thought the Whisperer, as he crouched in the long grass, beneath the stars. Before him stood a simple farmhouse made of wood, burning itself down.

The Cumans had been after them for four days. He supposed that a Mongol covered in black rags would stand out in the great Pagan kingdom.

Five men had entered the farmhouse where they had been staying. None had survived the Mongol's wrath.

The Whisperer looked upon the house with haunted eyes. How many more homes would he have to burn before his mission was complete?

He loved the world so very much. He hated to cause more suffering in a land which was already torn apart by poverty and warfare.

But sometimes he had to. In the Mongol's mind, a handful of words etched themselves out before him: It's for the Greater Good.

It was a philosophy he hated. But one he had to follow, if only to stop a hundred thousand more deaths.

He shook his head. His thoughts were fractured, confused. He needed to concentrate on the matter at hand. They were in Northern Cumania, and a group of soldiers had just tried to kill them. As to how they knew of their whereabouts he had no idea.

It had been three months since Constantijn and the Whisperer had set out on their journey. The Whisperer had refused to explain what he was planning to do in Russia.

He looked to his right. Constantijn, his ever loyal friend, was also staring at the fire. After the Dutch Rebellions, the slaughter of innocents was nothing new to either of them.

Despite the many horrors he had seen, the Whisperer still shuddered when he thought of the Holy Roman reaction to the rebellion. It had been needless and bloody, and the rebels had still won the war.

He moved closer to the Dutchman, allowing himself to be heard better. "I think we should burn the field too. The family will... have no more need of it, and it should help to cover our tracks- a burnt field is better than one where an obvious path has been cut through."

Constantijn nodded. "Agreed."

The two of them set to work. Using branches taken from a log pile, they lit the field alight, before running off into the distant forest, away from their handiwork.

When they could run no more, they stopped and collapsed. They had stumbled away from the flames and through the surrounding woods to emerge on the top of a small hill. Behind the trees, a faint orange glow lit up the remains of the farm.

They were lucky to be alive. The men had surprised them- attacking the family who'd helped them, and demanding to see the two travellers. It had been a grim fight, and one which the Whisperer was not proud of. Too many innocents had died- a whole family, in fact.

He fumbled for the little candle which he kept in the folds of his coat, lighting it with shaking hands. He was sick of fires.

Having made the little wick catch the flame, he looked up at Constantijn. And saw the shadows dancing across the hill- the shadows of human hands, all reaching out to grab the two men, to take them away to the Cuman king...


Stuyvesant- Thanks, it's good to know that my writing works. :)

And yes, he certainly won't be in Affonso's best books when he returns, regardless of his intentions.

loki100- Papa Rurikovich may not know who the mole is, but he has his ways of finding out whether or not the mole can be trusted- more will be said on this subject later on.