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Alien Space Bat
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What about the Crusader Kings Prequel?

Wait, that would turn out like the Star Wars Prequels...flashy but (mostly) empty. :D


And they'd have to start changing the later games.

"What?! They had Archduke Franz Ferdinand firing on him? Gavrillo Princip shot first!" :p
 

ColossusCrusher

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What do you mean by that, Judas?
 

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What about the Crusader Kings Prequel?

Wait, that would turn out like the Star Wars Prequels...flashy but (mostly) empty. :D

Gosh if anything the CK portion would be quite exciting .

And they'd have to start changing the later games.

"What?! They had Archduke Franz Ferdinand firing on him? Gavrillo Princip shot first!" :p

What do you mean by that, Judas?

Haha , yeah , I'm kind of confused here as well XD
 

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Alien Space Bat
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Okay, after rereading that I realise I got confused first and thus put in something confusing. Because of the whole bit discussing Vicky 2, I thought ColossusCrusher was talking about Paradox making CK2... I'm easy to confuse, sorry. :wacko:
 

Davout

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I'm more worried about hte fact that I was understanding what JM was saying.

Also 9 years on the boards. Yay me! And only 2 more to go before I finish reading this AAR.
 

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With this update speed, it'll sooner be 9 more, davout :p

Good that Ozzle redeemed himself, clumsy but not as stupid as usual
 

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Okay, after rereading that I realise I got confused first and thus put in something confusing. Because of the whole bit discussing Vicky 2, I thought ColossusCrusher was talking about Paradox making CK2... I'm easy to confuse, sorry. :wacko:

Ahh gotcha XD

I'm more worried about hte fact that I was understanding what JM was saying.

Also 9 years on the boards. Yay me! And only 2 more to go before I finish reading this AAR.

Huzzah ! I definitely will try not to disappoint :D

With this update speed, it'll sooner be 9 more, davout :p

Good that Ozzle redeemed himself, clumsy but not as stupid as usual

haha , it's so sad that i've let myself become such a laughing stock for my fans XD
 

Avernite

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Hmm, nice updates during my vacation. Hurray for Spain, and van Ossel! :D
 

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Sorry for the delay , too many birthday parties and all this =( . update is about 1/3rd done though so it will be out before the end of the week
 

unmerged(156978)

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The part of 29 October 1655 of "The Siege of London" is great. As I saw before, you are turning this into a film, so I say that this part would be better if you play "Daylight - Coldplay" with it.
 

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The part of 29 October 1655 of "The Siege of London" is great. As I saw before, you are turning this into a film, so I say that this part would be better if you play "Daylight - Coldplay" with it.

Thank you very much :D I'm very glad you enjoyed it ! Somehow I seem to do invasionary chapters of england better than most others XD . Listened to that song just the other day an interesting combination :D Please keep the comments coming as you go along ! Very much appreciate them !
 

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Nice set of updates... but you know better - storytime is more important than birthdays
 

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Could you put up a map of of the Empire in its whole entirety?
 

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Nice set of updates... but you know better - storytime is more important than birthdays

Haha , oh man , that's the thing about just arriving here in Ohio , everyone wants a piece of me XD


You should talk XD XD

Could you put up a map of of the Empire in its whole entirety?

There was one for 1580 in the earlier chapters , and then a European insert in Season II . I do have a map planned for Season III showing both an insert and the entirety but that will wait till after the Persian war is concluded to see what crazy things have actually happened :D
 

unmerged(31994)

Zardishar
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Make sure the 'map' includes all of Persia's territories you nefarious fiend! :p
 

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chapter145tile-1.gif


Chapter CXLVI: Awareness​

16 April 1643

By the time the noon light penetrated through the dark clouds hovering above the bay of Cadiz, only debris and cadaverous hulls decorated the still ocean surface. The bows of the sunken fireships shot out of the water defiantly like dragon's teeth barring any passage between the two fleets. The smoldering wreckage covering the surface dipped and waved with the flow of the water like the undulating scales of a giant leviathan. The sun pierced the dark veil from the now dissipating smoke with vengeance. The sea sparkled with the radiance of the star drawing eyes shut in defense.

The wind had picked up since morning and had fanned the flames to a fury sweeping the oil-topped water away. The inferno in Cadiz had, by then, also been put out and the clouds moved towards the south. The wind neutralized both parties that still stared at each other across the wreckage, but now that visibility had returned, the Persian fleet raised its sails for maneuver. Captain Marco had been standing at the bow of his flagship watching like the rest of his captains making sure that the Persians had not begun to flank the fire wall.

The treacherous galley, which had been near the epicenter of the inferno had already, by then, been burnt up being so close to the fire. Its crew and the prisoners, as far as Marco could tell in the growing visibility, were desperately hanging onto debris along the Persian side of the conflagration. It seemed none of the Persians vessels—wisely enough—approached the stranded crew.

Marco had decided not to move his fleet: any flanking action would have been easily countered by the other side and since neither could make the first move, a natural stalemate had produced itself. It was then that the first showers of the coastal batteries signaled that Cadiz was once again being operated by a Spanish detachment and that the fire would no longer produce a disturbance in the city. By then, however, the Persian vessels were already turning southwards and to the east—back to where they had come.

“The Persians are turning,” one of the lieutenants cried out almost without any breath.

“Send word to Lorenzo and Don Fonseca to trail them a good few leagues away. They should have the fastest ships we have left,” Marco immediately ordered, “keep scouting them out and report back if they see them returning. Make sure to load them with supplies from the other ships before they go.” The same breathless lieutenant accepted this command.

Marco narrowed his eyes at the retreating Persians discerning if there was any other treachery to be had while those sails and standards started to retreat back into the Mediterranean. “What about us, sir?” one of the lieutenants asked.

Marco took a moment to ponder the question. The docks at Cadiz had been burned and the sunken fireships would make maneuvering into the bay difficult. His ships were in a desperate need of a refit, however. “Dispatch a courier to Cadiz immediately and report our status. We'll wait until the Persians have sailed eastward for at least a day while we take up supplies here. Then we'll head to Lisbon... we cannot use the docks here at Cadiz.”

“Yes, sir,” the lieutenant acknowledged, “Captain Escobar is also asking permission to pick up the survivors of the galley wreckage.”

Marco looked to his lieutenant before turning once more to the debris ahead of him. “Make sure he puts the mutineers in chains as they are rescued. I don't want a repeat of what's happened.”

---​

Katja's wintry fingers rolled through Matthijs's hair tracing a line that edged around his temples like a half crown. Matthijs whimpered at the touch. His eyes were still glazed with remnants of tears towards something within arm's length of him. His fingers, in the while,could barely move as the blood crusted on his digits. “Shh...” Katja soothed. “it's alright.. you did well.. See? Wasn't it easier this time? You don't have to worry now...”

Matthijs started to bite his lip and twitched his hands into knots. He didn't answer, but the smell of the dead man's blood pouring from underneath him made him turn away... turn to those fragrant curls that caressed his cheeks. Katja instinctively pulled him away from the corpse and held him along the wall of the dark building. “Why?” were the small words that came out of Matthijs's lips pathetically, “Why did I do this?”

“Don't worry...” Katja repeatedly whispered into his ear letting her lips tickle the rims of his lobes. “You didn't have to think so hard this time, remember? It's done now... you've done it. He was a bad man... you knew it had to be done.”

While the young lady caressed the young boy, there was another figure standing gloomily in the dimness of the room. El Sid was standing across from the body inspecting the recent kill before looking at the pair. “He's ready then,” he said slowly as he looked at Katja who, without Matthijs seeing, shot the soldier an icy glance.

“Go the next room, dear,” Katja whispered quietly into Matthijs's ear, “I'll get you something soon...”

For a moment, Matthijs lingered but, after a minute, numbly stood up and dragged himself to the next chamber. Katja slowly dusted her white dress off and slid upwards. El Sid approached her in his bulky armour: a mix of Moor and Spaniard. Katja smiled innocently at him, but Sid only took one look at the corpse on the floor before leaning down to the young lady. “I've fulfilled my covenant with you, witch. This was the last one.”

“Calm yourself, my lost prince,” Katja chuckled in return. “You have done a decent enough job... he is indeed ready.”

“I trusted in your promises from the beginning because I know you need him more than I could ever want what I asked of you,” Sid replied bitterly slavering some spit out of the corner of his mouth. “You made me do your dirty work for you because you can't seem to get your hands dirty. Stupid pretext, stupid games.”

Katja shook her head serenely. “They are not games, my dear deposed prince, rituals would be a better--”

“Listen, night-whore, you can keep playing your games until eternity, but you made a promise. I've awakened the butcher in that boy. You will give me what I ask.”

Katja seemed to frown, but it was more like the frown a little child would have made. “When the other one comes, then everything will be complete. You will get your Kingdom. Once Matthijs becomes aware of who he is, then you can have as many potentates on this pitiful little mass of rock that you want... That was my covenant with you, so be patient.”

Sid pulled at his sleeve violently revealing only a strange bruise like a birthmark clutching around his wrist like an octopus. “A covenant you signed in blood, Lilith.”

Katja narrowed her eyes noticeably. “Now now, there is no need to call each other names. Your Ottoman nation will never return, Prince Shahim, but be assured that the Kingdom I have for you will be to your satisfaction.”

---​

17 April 1643

Étienne shivered in the cold darkness of the dungeon. Despite it being midday above him (or so he was told), inside the confines of the Apostolic Palace's cells, it may as well have been as cold and dim as Cocytus. Étienne blinked his eyes tiredly before curling up his legs once more against his frame. There were no shackles placed on him, but the bars that separated him from the hallway were enough protection against his escape.

“That boy let that little strumpet in and ambushed me!” he had remembered the Baron, his guardian, complaining in witness against him only yesterday. Apparently, the man whom Étienne had tackled on that night outside the Pope's apartment was none other than a Cardinal of the Church... a special one from Spain, apparently. This particular prince of the church—an Italian by birth—had arrested Étienne personally and had placed him in the dungeon to be questioned.

“Who do you work for? Are you in league with the Persians?” were some of the questions posed to him by the stern Italian prelate. Étienne had been more dismayed at the very questions than his exhaustion. All he could think of was to explain his involvement with the young girl who was nearly violated and not wishing her to be punished for the circumstances she found herself in. His memory, however, was—as he admitted—foggy as if he had dreamt half of it and had only woken up recently out of such a stupor.

“I'm sorry, Eminence...” he would plead tiredly, “I don't know what is going on...” These answers would serve only to annoy his ward and he was visibly just as distressed that none of his responses seemed to have been what the man in the red robes wanted to hear—nor did that prelate seem to expect the pleas of innocence.

The Cardinal, who apparently seemed to have a Spanish accent to his Italian (something which Étienne couldn't help but notice was a growing trend from most high ranking curia members considering the influence of Spain on the Holy See) seemed plainly perplexed at the sincerity of Étienne's ignorance and was, after several hours, content to leave him in the dungeon. It was no comfort for Étienne, however. Already the second day of his captivity was a harrowing experience filled with avoiding rats and shivering at the meager heat. At least the prelate made sure he was fed adequately probably due to sympathy for his age—or so Étienne imagined—but it was still as lonely as a desert in his confines and a loaf and water was not nearly enough to keep his energy at the usual rate.

Étienne decided to stand and walk over to the bars. His dirtied fingers wrapped around the icy and rough iron hesitantly. He pushed his face closer to one of the gaps and looked in either direction. The other cells appeared to be empty and only the jailer on the far end kept a candle lit on a table where he sat drowsily sipping some soup and chewing hard bread. Étienne pulled his head away from the vision for a moment as his stomach grumbled.

Nonetheless, perhaps out of curiosity or perhaps out of some distant hope, he pressed his face closer again resolved this time to perhaps parlay with the jailer on the status of his case. His cheek barely touched the chilly pole when he froze at the sight of the man stooped over his seat and his face gurgling helplessly in his soup bowl. The stout jailer's arms were limp on either side and after just a moment, all breathing stopped.

A clink of metal and Étienne's vision found another figure in that hallway approaching his cell swiftly and covertly. The young Frenchman immediately stepped back and nearly fell backwards onto the hay placed along the floor. A dark figure stood across from him separated only by the iron and stared at him with eyes as solid and bright as gems: eyes that were strangely familiar. It was a young man, about the same height he was with skin as tanned as a bronze statue. His short hair hung around his eyes like blades cutting away at his handsome forehead but the dark lining around his eyes and the tight leather outfit hugging the boy's upper frame was unfamiliar to Étienne.

Étienne's face shuddered both in fear and in faint confusion. Wasn't this a face he'd seen before already? The metal key was inserted into the lock and a quick click unfastened the bolt. The door swung open and, in the low candlelight from the end of the hall, Étienne could barely see the thin figure framed by the bars standing on the opposite side of the threshold. “Come,” was the only word spoken in Spanish.

“Who are you?” Étienne was quick to ask.

“Come,” the boy repeated holding out an arm that beckoned with curling fingers.

“Whoever you are, you best leave now,” Étienne replied though his ears seemed to strain at those words—had he heard that voice before?

The eyes facing him narrowed almost painfully at the objections like someone who was unused to the Spanish tongue squinting in attempts to understand. “I have come to repay you,” was the simple but tortured statement.

“Repay me for what?” Étienne demanded.

“For the other night. You helped me,” was the uneven response.

Étienne stared at the other boy for a few moments his eyes transferring from one eye looking at him to the other as he slowly sucked in his breath. “It's... you! You were a boy all along?! You're the assassin!” the words stuttered out of him as he stepped back.

The boy took a bare footed step into the chamber. “You must come now,” the tanned one pleaded nodding his head up and down as if to solidify the request, “the guards: they are coming...”

“No,” Étienne said quietly shaking his head, “I cannot go with you—I..” it was then that he could also hear the approach of men. Among the slow pace of boots planting on the ground, there was also a rowdy noise from down the hallway like the mix of a gurgling and scratching sound: except this was a voice.

“That boy will pay for his treachery! I'll finally be rid of him.” was the intense growl coming from the stairs. Étienne froze: he recognized that angry voice anywhere. The Baron seemed to be coming to pay him a visit: perhaps the last one.

“There is not much time!” the boy in front of him said taking a few more steps forward. Those same eyes that had been framed by the veil just the other night were now glowing in the intense darkness at first boring into Étienne and then softening in cycles.

Étienne wanted to shout out, but at the same time, the thought of the Baron arriving to deliver his sentence filled him with a sudden dread. His view shifted to the far right of the chamber as if he could see through the stone walls of his cell to the descending Baron and his entourage. “What is this?!” he heard from down the hall. They had found the jailer!

“No more time!” the boy repeated again and caught Étienne's wrist in his hand pulling him away from the back wall. Étienne's body, overcome perhaps by some well practiced instinct, followed the tug and his feet responded to the running start.

“Look! They're escaping!” shouted the Baron from the other end of the hall, “the assassin and that treacherous boy!”

Étienne's hand was jerked right and his body followed. The boy in front of him turned him into another cell where a hole in the ground awaited them. Letting go of Étienne's wrist, the boy slid into the stone tunnel and looked up at the young Frenchman who stared back down. There was a moment of hesitation there, as if the boy in the hole once again had to ask whether or not Étienne would join him. Nearly a whole minute transpired until another shout from the Baron behind them called out for Étienne's head. Étienne turned back to watch the guards coming at him before finally following the assassin down into the escape route.

It was a tight fit, and many times Étienne could feel the jagged stones cutting at his skin. There was a lot more shouting from behind him once again as it was clear that the thin tunnel was intended not for any of the adults (and certainly not for the corpulent Baron) but for the two young men to escape. By the time the shouting subsided behind them, Étienne's eyes adjusted to the blazing sunlight of freedom on the other side. He found himself near the Passetto di Borgo, the hole terminating near one of the supporting arches.

He immediately looked at the young man before him bathed in the noon sun which made that light hair on the other boy—something which had been obstructed by a wig, or so he reasoned, the other night—stand out like a globe of gold. “I will take you out of the city,” the boy said to Étienne before starting off in one direction. Étienne hesitated once more, but when the young man turned around to look at him, he could not help but start running as well.

---​

30 April 1643

“We're almost on them, now. We'll pass Berlin tomorrow and take the ship to Oslo within the week,” Diego whispered as he took a careful look outside of the window.

“Good,” Lope said in return as he checked the ammunition and weapons on the table. He looked up at Diego for a moment and caught the other man looking out into the thick night, eyes heavy in thought. “What is it?” he asked.

“I can't believe it's leading us back there,” Diego replied with an iron expression, “I feel like we wasted our time going around Europe...”

Lope walked over to his comrade and stood to his right as they both watched the German countryside. “Yes, but now we're going back prepared,” Lope said, although he knew it was little consolation.

“I feel as if I've tarried so long... wasted too much time,” Diego lamented gruffly. He spoke without moving a muscle on his face as if the drooping, tired expression was a marble mask. He let his frustration find expression in the way he gripped the edge of the window and by the stiff breathing into his nose.

Lope paused, looking at the sky at the tiny stars working to bring some light despite the presence of the moon. “However hard it may be on us, we can only hope that our young men can walk on their own now. I understand how you feel about this because I can only imagine how I would be if it was me who had to search for Íñigo. The future, however, is not for old ones like us. We have to trust that our young people will make it...”

interlude2.gif


Interlude​

Randall sat on the seat furthest to the wall. Rodrigo sat to his right and Trey—or Tom, he corrected himself—sat to his left. There was a silence that had pervaded the small air conditioned chamber they were all in ever since Tom had come in and sat down. Randall wasn't quite sure what to say. As much as he looked at Tom, the young man didn't seem to return his gaze willingly. Rodrigo was where most of the focus was going to.

“Well... I think you two have a lot to catch up on—” Randall started and raised himself up, but Tom reached out a hand.

“Stay, please, Randall,” the three words came out as if in separate sentences. Tom didn't even look at Randall as he said it, instead his eyes focused on Rodrigo. “You deserve to hear this. You were my friend—maybe the only one I've had in a very long time.”

Rodrigo's face contracted a little at the end of that, but he kept the locking gaze at Tom. “We had to do what we had to do, Thomas. It was for your own protection.”

“You mean for your protection,” the caustic response rolled out of Thomas's mouth like a thunderbolt. “For the sake of your little world-state and for the sake of your Church, you were willing to commit murder.”

Rodrigo's eyebrows tightened. “You still don't understand...” At that moment it seemed that all of Rodrigo's fatigue surfaced at the same time and he sank back into his chair. The motion of his hands to his face was followed by a careful sigh. “Don't you remember what I told you there in that blasted cold and freezing base?”

“Yes,” was the swift response. “You told me the meaning of my name. Well, Rodrigo, I've met my twin. I admit I don't understand most of any of this, but they told me that I could finally have a world where—”

“Is that what you really want?!” Rodrigo was the one who burst into an angry row now. “Your little kingdom? Is the world so bad that you've lost all faith? Is it that bad that you have to become the new god and make your own little kingdom?!”

“Yes!” was the almost visceral response from Tom. “Why not!? If reality is so bad then why can't I use the power to change it! That's why the Timepiece—”

“You've been listening to those snakes for too long! Your twin, Thomas. Don't you understand what he is? It's not about just some lost child at birth. This twinning is not just about you!” Rodrigo's eyes flared open and he stood up from his chair. “The Timepiece is not some magical time machine. It doesn't bend to your will. You were chosen not by accident. I shot you, not by accident. They told you that you would finally have your kingdom, but they know only half truths! You don't even know who you are!”

“And so what if I don't? You haven't told me anything! All you call me is an excommunicate! At least they understand. At least they made me aware that I was destined for a Kingdom! You've given me nothing! So tell me now, Rodrigo! Who am I?!”

Chapter CXLVII: The Excommunicated / Kingdom (coming soon)