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    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

mike the knight

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Markward is a birght man! If he stays alive for long enough , anew era of prosperity will come ,you infidels :p
 

tnick0225

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@2kNikk: It is a mess. Hopefully the conversion of the GH works ;) But you're right but only like 6 generations of Welfs riding on him.

@A_Dane: Yeah a sibling rivalry between Ludwig and Siegmund is in the works...there's another son but I don't remember his name at the moment but he's still young anyway.

@mike the knight: He is a brilliant man! Hopefully that brilliance pays off and leads the HRE into more prosperity. But things aren't looking all that great for him at the moment.
 

tnick0225

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Chapter XCVI - Uncovering a Plot

@pointblank922: I've been pretty busy, but now I'm back to hopefully cure your Welf withdrawals! And also thank you for commenting, hope to hear more from you in the future.

On that note, I have taken a break from writing been with work and had some travelling to do over the last month or so. Hopefully, I will be able to find the time to update a bit more regularly now. But we shall see. Anyways its way past time for an update and hopefully this update will be up to standards or even better than previous ones.

In fact I'm turning this update into two as it was getting wayyyy to long! So expect the conclusion of this update within a day or two.


~~~~~​
Chapter XCVI - Uncovering a Plot​



Early one morning shortly after the new year of 1248 began Archbishop Gabriel von Lunen of Holland stood watching a groom prepare his horse for his long sojourn to the lands being ravaged by the so called "Golden Horde". There was a great deal running through his mind as he stood silently observing, wondering whether his mission was folly or blessed by the Lord and Savior.

"Your Eminence," a man said walking up to the Archbishop. It was none other than Mayor Karl up strolling around the castle proper in the wee morning hours preparing for another day of intrigue within the Welf household.

"Karl," Gabriel said curtly, not appreciative of being interrupted from his thoughts.

"You are really going through with this journey to bring Christ to the heathens?" Karl asked trying to hide a smirk. Gabriel only nodded in response, making the Mayor of Dachau continue, "I just wonder what it is you hope to accomplish?"

This last statement from Karl provoked a response, "To do Christ's good work and baptized the heathens, Karl. Is this not evident! I am a man of god, and as such I must do his work upon this Earth."

Karl rolled his eyes as he turned to depart, "Very saintly your Eminence, saintly indeed."

Gabriel turned his head and watched the Mayor's silhouette recede into the shadows. He tried to push the last jab from the Spymaster out of his thoughts, but he couldn't quite quash it. Had it been a compliment? Or a heavily veiled threat? It made Gabriel wonder if he was truly embarking on this journey for the glory of God, or if he really was thinking of more temporal glory for himself.

He would continue to wrestle with this doubt, as he rode out of Munich, finally embarking upon his sojourn to cut-off the Horde's advance West before it even truly began.

~~~~~​
Kaiser Markward sat by his wife Lucja Piast's bed, holding her now limp and lifeless hand in his. A priest stood by his side, saying a prayer, as Siegmund and Ludwig entered the room somber and distressed. "She should have been the Queen of Poland," Ludwig hissed quietly looking at his dead mother's pale face.


"She should have yes," Siegmund answered, agreeing with his brother of whom he had not spoken to at all since that first Council meeting.

"I will one day take the Piast crown in her name, brother," Ludwig continued to simmer.

"That would be quite just," Siegmund once again answered.

"My sons," Markward said, hearing Siegmund. "Come say goodbye to your mother." The two approached the bed and knelt, as the Kaiser rested his free hand gently upon Siegmund's shoulder, and there for a brief moment in time the tension between Markward's sons was momentarily lifted as their sorrow sang in unison following her soul through the castle ramparts and on towards the heavens.

~~~~~​
Karl stood in the back of the church for the funeral of the late empress Lucja Piast, he had been one of the first to arrive and took note of all those who arrived in attendance. He was a bit surprised to not have seen his grace Duke Karlo III of Dalmatia. The favored Chancellor was an odd absence at such a stately affair, but he chalked it up to simply missing him in the swarm of nobles that had entered nearly all at once.

He bumped into the Steward Josselin Capet, as the priest began the funerary rights. "A pleasant to see you," Karl whispered in Josselin's ear. "How have you been finding Munich?"

"I miss France," Josselin replied. "But dealing the work of helping the treasury to recover from the late Emperor Welf keeps me busy enough."

Karl nodded to this, when his interest in the matter of absent Karlo provoked him to inquire, "I didn't notice our Chancellor in attendance."

Capet nodded, "Indeed, he has gone to secure our Lord's future marriage."

This took Karl aback, marriage so soon? And to whom? "Where?" he asked. He was surprised he had not heard so much as a whimper about such an event taking place.

"Some Grand Princess in Rus lands, Yaro...something or the other," Josselin answered.

"Ahhh," sighed the Spymaster as he slowly began to make his way outside. A marriage to a Russian noblewoman, surely a marriage engineered in the mind of Duke Karlo. The Trpimirovic's had large tracts of land in the East, bordering the Rurikid domains. It would make sense politically and strategically for them to tie Markward's interest with the East so that he'd have to respond in defense of Rus should the Horde head North instead of West. And not only that, but having the future wife of the Emperor's interests in alignment of Karlo's would prove to be quite a provocative political weapon in court.

Duke Karlo had proven to operate fast and swift in securing his position of dominance in Munich. First winning over Ludwig's friendship, and now orchestrating a marriage that would all but make the Kaiser Karlo's puppet. As the Spymaster fretted about this, he blamed himself for moving to cautiously, wanting to wait before orchestrating his own influence. He was no brash man, more patient, taking more comfort in the shadows than upon the troubadour's stage.

There was little love lost between Duke Karlo and Mayor Karl, the two had made that painfully obvious during the first council session several months ago. It was that that had provoked the Duke into gathering powerful friendships, and made Karl feel as if his political life was hanging in the balance. The time to act to save himself from an unfortunate end was drawing nigh.

~~~~~​
Several months later as spring was blossoming into summer, Mayor Karl was still trying to figure out what exactly his response should be to Duke Karlo III's continued power grabs. Something had to be done to balance things. But the correct move had yet to show itself. He stewed about it while nobles once again showed up to celebrate the marriage between Kaiser Markward and the Grand Princess Rotislava of Yaroslavl.


Prior to the celebrations, when Rotislava first came to court, Karl couldn't help but notice just how smitten Ludwig was over the young Russian princess. The both of them seemed to be constantly hounded by Duke Karlo, never permitting the Spymaster a chance to pick the Grand Princess's brain. So instead he observed wallowing in the knowledge that one day soon, Karlo would more than likely put an end to his short reign as Spymaster. He wondered if his end would be as catastrophic as Mayor Nikolaus of Furth's had been eighty years ago during the turbulent rise of the Welf's to the Imperial Throne.

He continued to watch as the days past by, eventually King Amadeus of Anatolia would enter Munich dressed in all his regalia loving the fact that he was nearly equal to his eldest brother in terms of rank and distinction. But the King's presence was far from a happy portent for Karl, for it proved that whatever Duke Karlo was plotting it ran deep, as Amadeus and Ludwig would converse at great length far out of ear-shot.

"Karl," the Marshal Duke Ekbert of Verona nearly shouted upon seeing his friend. "So good to see you once more!"

Karl feigned a smile as the two embraced, "You've been gone preparing the armies to help defend Aragon, how goes that?"

"Well, as is to be expected," Ekbert said proudly. "You look, dour..."

"I have reason to be, I'm not exactly a loved personage around court these days." Karl went on to explain the conspiratorial web he had been tracing with Duke Karlo Trpimirovic acting as the spider. Ekbert listened intently, much to Karl's surprise thinking the Duke would laugh it off, and quickly retreat away before the stench of the lowly Mayor rubbed off upon him.

"It makes sense," Ekbert said when Karl finished. "King Amadeus hasn't rallied his levies nor his fleets for our defense of Aragon. Not that we need them as the German lords are plenty enough. But, it is suspicious. Perhaps they're laying the foundations to install Ludwig upon the throne?"

"That's what I've been thinking," Karl said slowly. "But it just doesn't make much sense to me. Why oust a proven statesman in Markward in favor of a younger man who's known to be...well not as diplomatic."

Ekbert shrugged, "Maybe its all orchestrated by Amadeus himself. A chance to destabilize the Empire enough so he can take Munich. And be hailed as a hero for stabilizing the realm."

"Perhaps..."

The two continued their conversation for a while, bouncing ideas off one another that only thickened the plot and made it seem that much more dire and of importance. What had started out as simply a political maneuver to lessen Karl's voice on the council was now a full blown plot to destroy Markward's reign in its infancy. And to that the two decided they would need to enlist the services of the one child who stood to lose everything, Prince Siegmund the recently anointed Duke of Orleans.
 
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