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kingmbutu

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Domazhir did not have to wait long to discover the talents of his new wife. She was to him but a “sleeve,” but she was a fertile one. They had married in March and in April she announced her pregnancy to him. She was already 25 when he married her, but was apparently well within her childbearing years.

The pregnancy was a hopeful thing for Ambrosia. In the first month of her marriage to Domazhir, he had only ever spoken to her once, and then very briefly. Greek was the only language they had in common, and neither of them spoke it very well; Domazhir did not seem at all inclined to speak to her at all. Once she became pregnant however, she was noticed; or rather her ever increasing body was noticed. Domazhir frequently inquired after her well being and more than once visited her. When he did, she greeted him in halting and broken Russian, bowing deeply.

Her efforts to charm her husband were useless however. Domazhir still did not see her. He saw her steadily swelling stomach and that was all. He was not cruel to her; she was simply invisible. He was till in love with a memory; Sviatoslava, a woman he had not known how to love in life, he now loved fervently in death.

Ambrosia’s pregnancy went smoothly and in December she gave birth to a little girl, Maddalena. Domazhir was disappointed that it was not a boy, but he was happy enough. For Ambrosia however, Maddalena’s birth gave her something to live for. At last there was someone to love her; someone who she could love.
 
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kingmbutu

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Domazhir’s grief over Sviatoslava, and his disappointment at the birth of another daughter drove him to distraction. War was the thing, he decided. To fight against the pagan infidels for the glory of Christ would be just the thing to put his life in perspective. It was a practical decision; though not very reasonable.

The armies of Pskov were in no shape for war. No matter, it would force Domazhir’s thoughts away from his dead wife and so that same month, war was declared against the pagan Estonians. The Lettigalians joined the war in support of their allies. In January, just before the campaign, Ambrosia announced a second pregnancy. Domazhir’s loveless marriage did not prevent him from performing his marital duties, yet even he was surprised. Perhaps Italians were somehow more fertile.

The ill fated war did not go as Domazhir had hoped. His armies were immediately on the defensive, and pagans raged throughout the land of Pskov, Domazhir found himself frequently traversing the countryside trying to find the cunning enemy that his shortsightedness had brought to the land. In October, while Domazhir was driving the Lettigalians out of Pskov with brutal force, his wife gave birth to a son. He was named Simeon. His birth gave new impetus to the urgency of driving the pagans from Pskov.

Having destroyed the armies of his enemies, Domazhir took a break from warfare and left his marshal, to keep up the fight. Domazhir visited his new wife frequently, not from passion or love, but as another way of escaping from the memory of Sviatoslava. Even then, her ghost haunted him. More than once, he imagined her face beneath him in the night.

Love is no prerequisite for sex and in March, Ambrosia announced yet another pregnancy. They had been married scarcely two years, and she had spent almost all of that time pregnant; three pregnancies in two years. Chancellor Miloslav had chosen well for his lord. Her fertility was her salvation. The love and affection she longed for from her husband, she sought from her children.

Her third child was another girl, Evpraxia, born in December of 1081. By January 1082, she was pregnant once again. In October, yet another girl, Elizaveta, was born. Four children in three years born to a woman already 25 when she began; Domazhir was pleased, even if most of them were girls. Though they could not inherit, they would be useful as tools to secure the stability and peace of his realm. As for Ambrosia, the children gave her an escape from the invisibility in which she was imprisoned by Domazhir’s silence.

Domazhir’s family in 1082
Maria b. 1067 by Sviatoslava
Demian b. 1068 (bastard)
Vsevolod b. 1068 by Sviatoslava
Vseslava b. 1070 by Sviatoslava
Vikentii 1074 -1076 by Sviatoslava
Maddelena b. 1079 by Ambrosia
Simeon b. 1080 by Ambrosia
Evpraxia b. 1081 by Ambrosia
Elizaveta b. 1082 by Ambrosia
 

stnylan

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Both his wives have been remarkably fecund, and he himself is rather virile. A whole host of youngsters to look after him in his old age ;)
 

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stnylan said:
Both his wives have been remarkably fecund, and he himself is rather virile. A whole host of youngsters to look after him in his old age ;)

Fertility is certainly not a problem for him. But as you can see, only 4 of his children are past their early years. Who knows who will make it to adulthood. :wacko:
 

kingmbutu

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The war against the pagans was not going well. The Pskovian finances held out, but the men abandoned their tasks as the siege dragged on and on. Pagan soldiers again and again rampaged in the Pskovian countryside. Offers of peace were steadily refused. This war needed a rapid conclusion.

Fortunately for Domazhir, the finances of the pagans were in worse shape than his own. In December, after years of useless conflict, a white peace was declared. No glory had been won for the house of Pskov; no new lands had been claimed for his sons to rule. Domazhir turned his attention from war to peaceful improvement of his realm. He was getting older, and wanted to leave a prosperous land for Vsevolod to inherit.

February 1083, Ambrosia announced yet another pregnancy; one that would end in a still birth. The Italian woman did not know well the customs of Pskov, but she knew well how to please her husband. As for the heir to the throne, Vsevolod, he was gaining in stature and experience. His training as a warrior, and the death of his mother left him a vengeful and reckless child with a cruel temperament. His only close companion was his bastard brother, Demian, with whom he spent hours each day.
 

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Well that will serve Domazhir right for going to war for the wrong reasons. Perhaps he ought to concentrate on the woman he has, rather than the woman he lost.
 

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I'm catching up on the AARs in this forum (been too busy writing to have time to read - shame on me!) and I just discovered this one. I'm really enjoying it; the characters are really coming to life. My favorite AARs are the ones that can take the rather impersonal events of the game and mold them into believable, human characters. You've certainly accomplished that. There are some interesting friendships and rivalries in the court, and everyone's motives are entirely believable. I particularly like the gorwing relationship between Vsevolod and Demian - hopefully, once Vsevolod inherits Pskov, he'll continue to realize his brother's worth, because Demian ought to be a real stablizing influence on him. A growing power behind the throne? Maybe so, maybe so...

I'll definitely keep watching this one.
 

kingmbutu

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stnylan said:
Well that will serve Domazhir right for going to war for the wrong reasons. Perhaps he ought to concentrate on the woman he has, rather than the woman he lost.

Domazhir is really a tragic character. He nevers quite gets what he aims for, but his failures are not so bad that they undo him altogether.

MacRaith said:
I'm catching up on the AARs in this forum (been too busy writing to have time to read - shame on me!) and I just discovered this one. I'm really enjoying it; the characters are really coming to life. My favorite AARs are the ones that can take the rather impersonal events of the game and mold them into believable, human characters. You've certainly accomplished that. There are some interesting friendships and rivalries in the court, and everyone's motives are entirely believable. I particularly like the gorwing relationship between Vsevolod and Demian - hopefully, once Vsevolod inherits Pskov, he'll continue to realize his brother's worth, because Demian ought to be a real stablizing influence on him. A growing power behind the throne? Maybe so, maybe so...

I'll definitely keep watching this one.

Thanks for the encouragement. I find the AAR is almost more fun than playing the game, although it is hard to keep up with their movements. I've never tried to write anything in this vein; my other AAR is similar but not as character driven. Most of my previous writing has been all academic, so this is an adventure. As far as Vsevolod & Demian... that is certainly a relationship to watch.
 

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Maria, the eldest daughter, had grown into an attractive, though not beautiful woman. Her education at court and the disdain with which her father had treated her made her a clever and selfish woman. She knew that she would have to marry, and that her marriage would need to serve the dynasty and not her personal preference.

Because of the succession laws, her sons would stand to inherit should her brothers be unable to continue the line. In addition, the war her father fought had not helped the economy. She needed to marry someone both well connected and rich; an heir to an important throne. A king would be nice, but was probably unlikely. Heir to a duchy was a more probable scenario.

Gregorii of Moskva was an ideal candidate. Her marriage to him solidified the alliance between the two houses and brought considerable wealth into the coffers of the house of Pskov. He was a handsome man besides. And even if his military skill was lacking, he was a true diplomat; a modest man. Maria could live with this choice. She arrived in her new home in February and promptly became pregnant.

Demian too completed his education. As a scholar and theologian, his path led directly to the church, and it was less pressing to secure a wife for him. Domazhir named him as Chaplain, and a suitable wife was found for him as well: Afaila of Ryazan. This was another political marriage that helped to solidify the house of Pskov’s alliances. Upon his accession, his brother told him that we hoped to win land that could be given to his brother as a personal demesne; a bishopric under his own authority. Demian only smiled and commented that the kingdom of heaven was its own reward.

Finally Vsevolod himself came of age. His wife was most important, because she would be the future duchess of Pskov. She came from Denmark, and was the daughter of the Duke of Slesvig, who was himself heir to the Danish throne. Her name was Sophie, and she was both beautiful and smart. Her mother had borne five healthy children, four boys and her. She would make a fine duchess, as indeed she had been trained to be.

Vsevolod, however was not particular interested in her personality, nor really in her beauty. He was concerned only that she obey him and produce children. Their wedding night was a crude affair as Vsevolod’s feeble attempts to show his wife affection swiftly turned to a cruel and brutal affair when she pulled away from. She did not understand her new husband’s language or ways, and Vsevolod was not anxious to teach her anything other than obedience. She spent her wedding night tied to his bed screaming in pain.
 

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Grandchildren were born to the house of Pskov, although Sophie’s first pregnancy ended in a still birth. Maria’s second child was a boy, Akim, who was now heir to both Moskva and Pskov. In the spring of 1086, Domazhir’s son Simeon fell ill. He had never been a particularly strong child, and this illness was threatening. An intestinal worm was destroying his body from the inside out. The dynasty was secure, but Domazhir was nonetheless frightened at the possibility of losing another child to illness as he had Vikentii.

Sophie also became ill at the same time while carrying Vsevolod’s child. Vsevolod’s fear of her sickness and his fear of her pregnant state gave her a respite from his brutality. The specter of death again hung over the house of Pskov like a shroud.

Vseslava came of age and was promptly married off to the Count of Chud, a vassal of the Prince of Kiev. It was a good match for her although a loveless one. Unlike her sister, Vseslava would never grow to love her husband who she found neither handsome nor charming.

The next spring, Simeon, still struggling with his illness, lost his mind also. He would not be fit to rule even if he made it to adulthood. Sophie was diagnosed with intestinal worms also. Vsevolod was angry with her. It seemed as if she had become ill intentionally, which, although a false notion, was not too far from the truth. She had given birth to an heir, Zinovii, but there were doubts as to how long she herself would live.

The night of her marriage to the heir of the throne of Pskov, after Vsevolod had finally finished tormenting her body and soul, she had prayed silently that God would have mercy on her by taking her life. When she became sick, Vsevolod’s mood towards her changed. He was still a brutal man, but her illness frightened him into leaving her alone most of the time. It was an answer to her prayers.

The daughters of Domazhir were frequently pregnant, but the sons were troubled. Finally, on 3 August in the year of our Lord 1088, Lord Duke Domazhir of Pskov died. His son, Vsevolod, ascended the throne. Thus ends chapter one.
 

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Nasty chappy, and now with a little bit of power. It could all go to his head, or will he be sucessful despite his manifest cruelty?
 

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stnylan said:
Nasty chappy, and now with a little bit of power. It could all go to his head, or will he be sucessful despite his manifest cruelty?


Who says that sucess and cruelty are incompatible? ;)
 

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kingmbutu said:
Who says that sucess and cruelty are incompatible? ;)

Not incompatible (I mean, look at Genghiz Khan, or Ivan the Terrible), just that cruelty without a particular reason (as in this case) is often more of a hindrance. Now, if our new Lord learns to be cruel with the suppleness of a barber manipulating his razor, then the region might have something to fear.
 

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stnylan said:
Not incompatible (I mean, look at Genghiz Khan, or Ivan the Terrible), just that cruelty without a particular reason (as in this case) is often more of a hindrance. Now, if our new Lord learns to be cruel with the suppleness of a barber manipulating his razor, then the region might have something to fear.

Ahh the joys of pointless cruelty... I don't know if Vsevolod has the wherewithal to operate like a barber. He lacks the surgical precision of his mother's keen sense of justice. His style is much more slash & burn
 

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I'm looking forward to the Vsevolod era! Deeply flawed characters always make for interesting stories, I think. As far as his cruelty is concerned, it might lead to a short reign if he doesn't have the power to back it up. It might be time for Pskov to expand. :D
 

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Paranoid Tsar said:
I'm looking forward to the Vsevolod era! Deeply flawed characters always make for interesting stories, I think. As far as his cruelty is concerned, it might lead to a short reign if he doesn't have the power to back it up. It might be time for Pskov to expand. :D


Yes, Vsevolod is interesting. I think you'll find his opening moves very flawed.
 

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Chapter the Second: The Reign of Lord Duke Vsevolod I of Pskov called the Cruel


Vsevolod I of Pskov called the Cruel
VsevolodI.jpg



Vsevolod ascended the throne of his father unexpectedly. Domazhir, his father, had been in good health. He was not especially old and had recently lived a rather settled life. The succession had never been in doubt, and Vsevolod had had a good relationship with his father. He was so much like him in so many ways, physically at least. He was close to no one except his bastard brother, the Chaplain of the court.

His relationship with his wife was marked alternately by brutality and formal affection, but always distance. Although she was pregnant with his second child the Danish woman did not know him well at well. What she did know of him, she both hated and feared. Everyone wondered what sort of Duke he would be, Demian, who knew him best, had no doubts.

The day of Vsevolod’s ascension a driving rainstorm had raged outside the castle. Thunder and lightning shook the shutters and ancient trees were uprooted. It was a foreboding portent of the coming years. Vsevolod would be a very different duke than his father had been.

The first year of Vsevolod’s reign was marked by terror and drenched in blood. Suspicion surrounding Domazhir’s untimely death fueled a vengeful fire in Vsevolod’s heart. Miloslav, Domazhir's closest advisor stood at the center of the purge. Those who had opposed his policies or who had personal grudges against him were the first to suffer. Vsevolod was more than willing to listen to Miloslav’s advice. Many petty nobles were exiled from the realm. Others found themselves facing the brittle injustice of the executioner’s blade.

Tamara, the noble who had served as the interim chancellor during Miloslav’s illness was smart enough to evade Vsevolod’s erratic behavior for a time. But Miloslav knew that she was a threat to his own influence and position. She had grown older, but no less clever in the years since her chancellery. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, she asked Vsevolod for permission to retire to her own estate far from the intrigues of the court. Vsevolod gave his permission.

As Tamara arrived at her manor house, far to the south of the castle, she breathed a deep sigh of relief. In the year since Vsevolod had come to power, dozens of nobles had lost more than influence. Tamara was grateful to have escaped with her life. As she sat relaxing and enjoying the peaceful surrounding of her library, one of her servants interrupted her. “My lady, there is a messenger here from his majesty, Lord Duke Domazhir.”

Before the servant finished, a large man emerged into the hall. He grabbed her and dragged her forcefully out of the house. She was bound and thrown in the back of a horse cart. The next morning, after traveling through the night in an open cart, Tamara found herself in the outer courtyard of the House of Pskov. Vsevolod himself was there, and Miloslav stood by his side. She was forced upright and faced Vsevolod.

His eyes were cruelly empty. Lord Miloslav spoke, “Lady Tamara, you are guilty of treason against the realm, and of witchcraft. You are sentenced to death.” “By trampling,” Vsevolod interrupted forcefully. Tamara faced Vsevolod, her eyes boldly defiant, “My Lord Duke, heaven is my witness. I am no witch, and I have always been loyal to this house.” “Shut up, whore!” Vsevolod interrupted; standing now. “You are the cause of my father’s death. Shut up, shut up, shut up! You horrible witch. Seize her!” Nearby soldiers grabbed Tamara and strapped her to the ground. She did not resist. She heard the neighing of horses and the stamping of hooves. In a very short time, it was all over. There was nothing left of her but bloodied clothes. Vsevolod watched the entire thing intensely; it gave him joy,
 
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stnylan

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A very nasty piece of work. Miloslav though may yet find he is playing with fire.
 

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stnylan said:
A very nasty piece of work. Miloslav though may yet find he is playing with fire.

He's an old man by now, using the cruel but terribly impressonable young Duke to settle his old scores. His age may protect him
 

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kingmbutu said:
He's an old man by now, using the cruel but terribly impressonable young Duke to settle his old scores. His age may protect him

Age, in my experience of stories (and AARs in particular) is no defence! ;)