• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    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

ForzaA

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Congrats TreizeV

..and to the both of you (that includes you, canonized :p)

update! :D
 

canonized

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Grubnessul: ROFL it is kind of a greatness

comagoosie: well one was a bit overdue XD

ForzaA: We're on it , boss XD
 

canonized

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Elorei said:
happy birthday to your sister!
Thanks , dear XD

Update is 50% complete expect it in the next 3 hours !
 

The Kingmaker

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canonized

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AlexanderPrimus said:
Gosh, you're making me wait to comment on your next update?!

Sigh. ;)
Just proofreading now XD This chapters a page longer than usual !
 

CountArach

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Well I have finally decided to commit to reading this at the pace of 10 chapters per day, plus the bonuses in that pace. Currently up to Chapter 10 and I have to say - I am utterly hooked. The characters are amazingly deep, the storyline is complex (Which is meant as a compliment ;) ) and the descriptions of surroundings are brilliant.

Keep it up!
 

Grubnessul

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canonized said:
Thanks , dear XD

Update is 50% complete expect it in the next 3 hours !
You're late :mad:

;)
 

canonized

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CountArach said:
Well I have finally decided to commit to reading this at the pace of 10 chapters per day, plus the bonuses in that pace. Currently up to Chapter 10 and I have to say - I am utterly hooked. The characters are amazingly deep, the storyline is complex (Which is meant as a compliment ;) ) and the descriptions of surroundings are brilliant.

Keep it up!
thank you so much !! I'm very glad to hear it :D . I'm always very happy to see new faces ! Please please please I do encourage you to comment as you go along even if you have to skip a little time at the end to do so ! I'd love to hear what you thought of the previous chapters :D !

Grubnessul: Uploading now :D
 

canonized

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Chapter CV: The Violent Against God, Nature, and Art [Blasphemers, Sodomites, and Usurers]​

8 April 1610

Riku held his head back each time he struck with the hatchet against the trunk of one of the blackened monoliths. With each motion, he had to avoid the small cloud of charred particles that descended from the disturbed top of the tree. Already, however, his hatchet was beginning to crack although he was only halfway through the trunk of the tree.

“It's no use...” Riku said to the other two who were watching cautiously behind him, “This hatchet's about to break and the sword we used to try and cut through the branches is already almost completely eaten in half. We can't get through... unless we have some kind of explosive...”

“We can't risk it,” Raul said with a grunt as he covered his mouth with a cloth, “if we disturb the frame of the labyrinth too much, the entire thing might collapse in the way Don Renault designed it in order to stop anyone from just blasting or digging their way through.”

“Trying to wash all of the trees in our way is going to take a few hours at least,” Madeleine reported from behind Raul, “it's hard enough trying to splash water out of the boiling river...”

“Burning won't do us any good either,” Riku added, “the trees are already charred so there's barely any reaction... the paste thats on them won't burn fast enough unless we want to wait here for hours...”

“And from the rate it ate through my glove, trying to squeeze through the trees would be deadly...”

“I estimate there's at last five rows of trees interlocking from here to the other side,” Riku added to the analysis.

“Obviously this is another one of your uncle's tricks,” Raul said as he looked towards Madeleine. “He'll be expecting us to find the proper way through the trees using the intellect necessary for this part of Hell. What else do we know about the wood?”

Madeleine looked around and passed her torch slowly through the air watching the tortured limbs dance with the rotation of her light. “This paste of some kind is easy enough to understand... my uncle knew that the punishment for disregarding your flesh is to be deprived of it and so our flesh would be deprived of us if we attempted to pass without any regard...”

“Your uncle was also a teacher,” Raul added to the stream of consciousness almost reluctantly, “so it's not just the love of Dante that's influenced him, but the love of that Dante class, as well.”

Madeleine looked up to Raul who seemed a bit distant like his face was a veneer for something underneath that boiled as furiously as Phlegethon but merely frothed forth in stressed words. Raul was thinking of other things as he spoke and Madeleine could detect it easily. “Did your father love the class that he taught as well?” Madeleine wanted to ask him. However, Raul was right, solving her uncle's riddle meant that there was more than just the scholarship she learned, but the specific scholarship that her uncle taught.

“This entire complex, therefore, must also be my uncle's interpretation of Dante as much as it is the Poet's architecture,” Madeleine said aloud while speaking faster with every word as her body rose an inch at her thoughts.

“So what would he say about the wood of the Suicides?” Riku asked throwing away the now useless hatchet.

“When he taught the class...” Madeleine paused to recall, “he would emphasize the illusion that the body was worthless to these sinners or that bodies can be subjected to some unworthy cause such as the political suicide that was mentioned by Dante... so in order to overcome that, the opposite would be obviously self-sacrifice of some kind. Submitting the body to something higher...”

“Well,” Riku speculated, “might it be that one of us would have to sacrifice for the others by going through ahead and clearing a way?”

All three stood in quiet at the moment, “obviously not,” Raul replied although they all knew the answer already, “it would be stupid to lose a life with every trip...”

Madeleine looked about at the miniature forest around them, “Riku, you already scouted the entire perimeter, right?” she asked slowly.

“Yes,” the Finn replied, “It's the same throughout. I tested the inner trees with some cloth and they corroded through as well.”

Madeleine stared at the young man before saying, “You were able to make the entire circuit?” Riku nodded.

“What is it?” Raul asked watching Madeleine's face.

“I just remembered something,” Madeleine said quickly as she turned around and started to run out into the clearing in between the forest and the boiling channel. The other two followed without a word while avoiding the trees. As they cleared the edge of the forest, they nearly bumped into the young lady as she looked on either end of the bank with her arm reaching high enough with the torch that it seemed as if she would fly away with it.

“What did you remember?” Raul demanded.

“Riku should not have been able to make the entire circuit... the River Phlegethon is supposed to run through the wood and the desert beyond.

“I didn't see any distributary when I went around,” Riku realized.

“That's the missing clue,” Madeleine beamed, “there must be a section of the bank here that opens up to let Phlegethon through.”

“How are you so sure?” Raul asked while following Madeleine as she began to scout the shore.

“When my uncle taught, there was also, at the time, a discussion about the nature of suicide and how Dante depicted it. He had told us a story that when he first began teaching the course in the Scarlet Academy, one of the students... some Englishman had written a thesis on how suicide was also a denial of the truth of one's self and also a rejection of God's providence since it sought to avoid the circumstances God put him in. Blocking the river with a dam is not only a denial of the true nature of Dante's 7th circle, but it is also a denial of the flow of life, a premature end!”

“I know where it might be,” Riku suddenly smiled, “when I passed it by before, some of the dirt was uneven as if that portion didn't belong there; that's probably where it is.”

---​

It had been a simple double weight system that opened and closed the hidden distributary. Making sure to stay clear of the steaming water, the three sat back on the bank whilst the angry red liquid inundated a section of the trees.

“I estimate a few more minutes and all of those trees should be washed clean at their roots and bases,” Madeleine reported, “if we keep low, we can crawl through without touching any of the uncleaned portions up top. We'll also have to move quickly, I think that the goo is meant to 'grow' back downwards after into the washed portions and reseal the whole place once again so we'll only have a window of a few minutes which should be alright if we move quickly.”

“And what's waiting for us on the other side?” Riku asked.

“The final section of the seventh circle, those violent against God, Nature, and Art- the blasphemers, sodomites, and usurers. The Blasphemers are violent against God for the obvious reason... the Sodomites are violent against Nature because they commit unnatural acts... and the usurers abuse artisanship and hard work. It works in the progress of God, Nature as a child of God, and Art as a child of Nature and thus a grand-child of God. They're all damned to inhabit a desert where flames rain down onto them.”

“That must be the light we see over the trees,” Riku conjectured.

“The blasphemers are tied down and the fiery rain hits them while the sand burns their skin although their chief punishment is their hatred for God burning inside of them. The sodomites are damned to run around on the burning sand while the Usurers huddle at the edge of a cliff with huge bags around their necks pulling their heads down. The chief image that Dante is trying to convey is one of infertility. None of these sins are fertile-- Sodomy and usury in particular. Sodomy is unfruitful; turning something fruitful-- making love-- and turning it unfruitful whereas Usury is turning something unfruitful-- money-- and trying to make it fruitful and breed; trying to make more money simply through money. Thus, it is why they all are punished in a desert, the prime symbol of an infertile land. And just as they inverted fertility in life, so rain-- which brings about fertility and growth-- is, in Hell, fire-- something completely opposite to life.”

“It should be ready now,” Riku noted as he got up. The others rose to their feet as well and fastened their packs to their backs-- considerably lighter from the discarded axes.

“We'll shut off the water and wait for the it to flow down and then weave our way through the trees,” Raul instructed, “keep your gloves on to avoid the heat from the ground and cover your heads in case any of the ash falls-- we can at least minimize any exposure.”

---​

Raul was the first to crawl through the final tree and bring himself upright once again on the other side of the ring of trees. When Madeleine and Riku stood up behind him, they all paused at the sandy edge. A desert coiled in a circle around them like the circuit of a flat, golden serpent. Although in awe of the vastness in front of them, they nearly jumped back as torrents of flame descended from portals in the ceiling. Shooting downward and almost touching the sand like fiery bolts before pluming in the air into a maelstrom of vermilion and gold, the flames glazed the atmosphere with the sound of a thunderclap prolonged over a few seconds.

After leaning back from the sudden surprise, the three straightened themselves and watched in somewhat reserved awe at the orchestra of flame. The sand glistened with each intrusion of the fire and Madeleine could easily spot areas that had already melted into glass which only made the floor sparkle all the more. Looking further ahead, and covering his face from the brightness, Raul was surprised to see that there was no longer a far wall but, instead, a chasm in the very center which the seventh circle surrounded.

“There must be some kind of gas... like swamp gas perhaps or probably ones created by a volcano that's been channeled into the ceiling and something is igniting them to create the flames,” Madeleine explained.

“What about that over there,” Raul raised his voice over the sound of the fire and pointed towards the pit in the center.

Madeleine and Riku both followed Raul's finger to see that, after the ring of sand, only a dark hole greeted them. “Now there's an image of Hell I can easily recognize,” Riku grunted wearily.

“Do you know what it is?” Raul asked turning towards Madeleine.

“It follows the Dantean model,” Madeleine explained slowly, “since that's how the seventh circle was supposed to be separated from the eighth, but if you're asking me how my uncle and his team made that...” she merely trailed off in wonder.

By now, Madeleine's hair was sticking to those curved portions of her face half covered by the dirt of the cavern while her bright blonde curls were a meek garden of hair clinging to her skin. She attempted to turn her head to view the rest of the place with her discerning eye, but she found her neck stiff and pained. Her fingers reached for her water tentatively and allowed some liquid down her thirsty throat. She watched the bulbous blows of the fire roll like miniature suns flickering in and out of existence.

“Where should we go?” Raul was the first to ask, “Obviously it would be a bit dangerous to just start crossing considering the speed of the blasts and how random they could be.”

“We'll have to follow the stone wall over there,” Madeleine pointed towards a rocky outgrowth that stood as an awkward half finished stone earthwork stretching from the edge of the trees towards the dark abyss in front of them. “The Poets followed a similar route through the sands.”

“What kind of trap--” Raul was saying surveying the sight before him before he realized that Madeleine was already walking towards the dilapidated barrier albeit slowly.

“There won't be a trap,” she said while walking. Raul saw that she hugged her own waist as if she was attempting to hold back something painful in her stomach.

“How do you know?” Raul asked as the two young men started to follow her.

“Knowing my uncle, this one will be straight forward,” she replied as her hands started to grapple with the circular stones mortared together. She climbed up with some trouble but found her balance on the partition.

Sensing that Madeleine was holding something back, the other two reserved their curiosity and followed behind the young lady. The natural torches that ignited around them seemed to follow their movement as they treaded forward. What did she mean there would be no trap? Raul asked himself as he carefully followed behind Madeleine.

“Maybe she knows,” a voice suddenly interrupted his thoughts almost knocking him off of the wall. It wasn't Riku's voice nor was it Madeleine's, obviously. He gasped in the heated air when he realized that he was talking to him again. “Maybe you weren't supposed to die in Styx, Raul,” the voice teased, “but here?” there was only a little laugh in the wind. Raul frantically looked forward at Madeleine who was keeping her eyes on the steps she was making. What's going on, Madeleine? Raul's mind shouted hoping to distract himself from the wispy buzzing in his ear. Why is there no trap! Why aren't you speaking to us? What are you hiding?!

---​

“It was wise of you to accommodate us, Dr. de Fronsac,” the German voice curled joyously as they rounded another cell of the 6th circle. Although their passage was without incident, Renault made sure to ease each trap into place with the slowest pace he could get away with. Renault distracted himself with glances towards his wife who merely looked at him with a worried expression. His questions would have to wait, he understood.

Along with Herr Gehirn was Colonel Miguel with the imprint of the Lord still fresh on his temple. He stared at Renault with a kind of rough resentment. Two Germans were making sure that Carmen was keeping pace as well as a third who kept Father Valerio company through the barrel of his pistol. There were thee other Germans there as well. Renault had deduced they were also German through their speech and uniforms. Two were carrying a box with some trouble and another was following next to them.

It wasn't the first time Renault had seen these kinds of Germans before, he had thought to himself. No, decades ago he had seen a glimpse of some of them. He had been told they were coming that time, but this time he was caught a bit unawares-- these Wolves were more clever than before was something he sensed underneath his skin. He passed another glance to Carmen who only gave him a resolute look before looking back to his 'host'.

“Even if you get to the Timepiece, Herr Gehirn,” Renault spoke to him without any more pretense, “It is not something to be treated lightly. Without the Keys--”

“Your Medieval thinking on this matter does not become a scientist like you, Dr. de Fronsac,” the German was quick to interrupt. “We've come prepared for this job.” Renault narrowed his forehead at the intonation, but Herr Gehirn's pride and condescension could not hide the little twitch he made towards the rear-- towards the box.

At first Renault had just imagined it to be some kind of tool box... something the Germans needed to head through the traps, but now he believed it to be something else. Did Gehirn have a Key in there? No... unlikely. Whenever he had a chance, Renault tried to peer back towards the wooden box that took two rather strong looking men to carry. What was most peculiar to him was the movement of the third-- the man only had a small box with him held in the hand. It was encased in metal, it seemed. Strange glass was on the little device and although he was near the front of the train, Renault could hear the faint sound of it-- the sound of that little device clicking each time the man brought it close to the large box.



Interlude​

“Are you still picking up the radiation signal?” Rodrigo asked as he placed a headset on. The busy rush of the mobile command center was now hushed into the steady hum of the earpieces.

“Solomon is still detecting both the Timepiece and the stolen nuke,” one of the technicians explained over the intercom. A screen in front of Rodrigo lit up with an overview of the Siberian vastness and little radii spreading out from two locations.

“Can Solomon give us a clearer idea of where they are?” Rodrigo had to ask; he was still new to the resources granted to him. Solomon, a giant asteroid-satellite-space station which orbited the planet at the fourth Earth-Moon Lagrangian point was a government project not only to help facilitate the growing information exchange happening on a global scale, but also to provide special agencies such as the Room the capability of tracking special interests on earth along with her sister-satellites the space fortresses Luna II, Axis, and the special space fortress A Baoa Qu which was located in the second Lagrangian point and worked in coordination with the Moon colony Granada as well as other smaller satellites.

“I'm afraid this is the best we can do, they appear to be using some kind of jamming field in the area-- Constantinople already informed us that an attempt to retake Duke Jimenes ended in failure due to some kind of dampening field.”

It had been a while since anyone mentioned Rodrigo's father and the thought of him made Rodrigo drop his eyes from the screen for a moment. Turning to Carlos who was already looking at him with some concern, Rodrigo could hear the other young man speak through his head phones saying,“Are you sure this was the right thing to do?”

“Can I trust Pablo and this Romanfellow investigation to you and Lara?” was the only reply Rodrigo gave. Carlos paused at his initial question being deflected before giving a slow nod.

“We'll head out then,” Carlos conceded.

“Take Captain DeWitt with you,” Rodrigo added.

“But--”

“We'll be fine. Pablo is someone who's tricked us before and although we let him out this time...”

Carlos nodded. “I understand.” They were going to have to go up against Pablo... with that barely human face, Pablo was a monster of Fraud.

Chapter CVI: The Monster of Fraud (coming soon)
 

Murmurandus

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canonized said:
...Blasphemers, Sodomites, and Usurers...
Great! Right in my league! :D
 

Grubnessul

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Hmm so the Germans have a nuke and a Geiger counter with them?
 

unmerged(59077)

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Silly man Raul!

There's ALWAYS a trap.

And sometimes within the trap there's Nazis and their smirking is plain unbearable.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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There is a secret in Mr Gehirn... Gehirn... Geheim...
 

Grubnessul

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Gehirn is German for brain, I think that was pointed out in the Pinky and the Brain reference chapters ago. :p

Don't think there is a link between Gehirn and geheim (which is German and Dutch for secret)
 

Avernite

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I'd hope not, that would be a travesty of language, and I'm sure canonized wouldn't want to be accused of travesty of anything :p


And I really DO wonder what the timepiece is by now, really just a containment field that could be accessed with a big enough explosive?
 

Rensslaer

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Canonized,

I truly apologize for not being able to keep up with this. Your prodigious capacity for writing has wholly outstripped me.

But, that said, I can say you've sure changed the drama levels in the story! Lots has changed since I was last able to see what was up. Dante's Inferno! Wow.

Keep it up!

Rensslaer
 

ColossusCrusher

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So instead of a burn on the hand it's a burn on the temple?
Does he have a cool coat hanger?
 

The Kingmaker

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