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Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-02-15 02:29pm
Supreme Council Room, Imperial Palace,
Hephaestus, Empire of Orion,
17th Day of Winter, 2955 AEF (Early-ish winter, Game Year 1)
The meeting place of the Supreme Council of the Empire of Orion was far less grandiose than its name would expect. Wood panels of a dark and deeply polished mahogany lined the walls and a large table occupied the centre. Surrounding this were comfortable but not extravagant seats for the Emperor, the Empress, the Ministers of State, the Army and Navy Commanders and others whose presence was due to present necessity rather than old traditions as someone might expect from a nation whose history spanned three millennia.
The only decorations in the room were two banners flanking the seats for the Emperor and the Empress. On his left was the red and white banner of the Empire, one his right was the considerably more elaborate Imperial Standard.
In these seats the fate of the Empire was decided, fifteen million people depending on them for guidance, leadership and above all, sane and rational decision-making. On this day the Council had gathered for the usual post-Solstice meeting, to discuss everything that happened over the holiday period and everything that was planned for the year. The Council members were seated already, their aides and assistants occupying chairs around the walls ready to serve when needed.
At precisely ten o’clock in the morning, the doors opened and the Imperial Herald stepped into the room. He rapped his staff against the floor three times, catching everyone’s attention before he spoke:
“All rise for His Imperial Majesty Emperor Philip the Fifth and Her Imperial Majesty Empress Jessica of Fenris.”
The Imperial couple entered the room and walked in a stately fashion to their places. Both were young, only twenty-five and twenty-three respectively. Despite their youth they were capable leaders; the Emperor having been trained to assume the throne from birth and the Empress, being the eldest child of the Duke of Fenris was no stranger to statecraft either. Above all though, the two had mastered the truly vital skill of governance; being able to ask for and take advice when they needed it.
The pair reached their seats, surveyed their council briefly, before sitting. The rest of the Council followed suit. Philip looked at the agenda his staff had prepared and began:
“This meeting of the Supreme Council is called to order. The first item is the economy; Lord Treasurer, please give your report.” The man in question stood, nodded respectfully to the Emperor and began.
There was much information about taxes and tariffs and so forth, facts and figures that were vitally important and yet ultimately trivial to the Emperor. The Lord Treasurer wound up with a brief summary:
“In summary Sire, government income is predicted to be slightly higher than previous years but not drastically so, approximately four percent. Expenditure remains the same as last year, so I foresee no problems meeting the requested budgets for each department.” Having finished, the man sat down again and took a sip of his drink.
Philip nodded, pleased at the news that the economy was doing well without him having to do anything about it. “Thank you Lord Treasurer. Foreign Secretary? Your report please.”
Again, the man stood, nodded and began his report. There were no major developments; the ongoing situations were well understood. “Our relations with the Chesapeake Bay are deteriorating and I can see no realistic way to repair them, short of concessions that are outrageously unfair to Orion. I fear that unless something changes on their end, we will be at war within six months. The details of that I leave to Admiral Jarvis.” He looked down and grabbed a different sheet of paper for his next comments.
“We have received a curious request from our Embassy in Louisville. Apparently the Ohioans want to purchase some field guns from us, in bulk it seems. They are apparently looking for somewhere between sixty and a hundred guns. It is our Ambassadors belief that those guns are destined for Detroit, as Ohio seems to be preparing a major offensive to reduce that city. It is the view of the Foreign Office that we should approve this sale in the interests of fostering a closer relationship with Ohio. That’s everything Your Majesty.”
The man sat. The Emperor considered things for a moment, before looking at this Council. “Comments ladies and gentlemen?” Predictably, the Army Commander, General Warwick spoke first.
“Sire, I would normally be in favour of this deal, but do we dare run the risk of Ohio discovering the secrets of our Technomantic enchantments on the guns?”
Before the Foreign Secretary could explain, the Chief Master of the Imperial Academy spoke up: “That is quite impossible General. Ohio lacks the magical knowledge to break or recreate those enchantments and their belief system is incompatible with how the enchantments work at any rate.”
As a follow-up the Foreign Secretary spoke: “Furthermore General, the Ohioans specifically did not want the guns to be enchanted. Nor did they ask for carriages or mounts, or gunpowder to fire them. They just want heavy guns in large quantity, something they apparently cannot produce themselves.”
General Warwick pondered this: “In that case I withdraw my objection your Majesty. But if I may, if these guns are destined for a siege or reduction of Detroit, then I think we have an opportunity here to deploy the World Breakers and test some of their new weapons and techniques in combat.”
“That also occurred to our Ambassador who requests details of the availability of the World Breakers” the Forign Secretary chimed in again.
“That’s easy, they’re on standard training for the next year unless something crops up.”
The Emperor now spoke, instantly silencing any further comments. “Very well. Foreign Secretary, you may inform the Ohioans that we agree, provisionally, to the sale of the guns. You will direct the Ambassador to negotiate the details, with the offer of the World Breaker’s assistance in the campaign. We are willing to offer a discount for the guns if our forces may assist.”
He paused and took a sip of his drink. “With that decided, we shall move on. Chief Master, have you anything to report?”
The man in question rose and answered: “Indeed Sire, I am pleased to report that the Research Laboratories are making great progress on the anti-magical shot project. At present the cannonball can, with the right additives and coating, negate all Technomantic enchantments on contact. This is a promising start but I must stress that further testing is required. Additionally Sire I can report that the Reserve Archive program is nearing completion; approximately 98% of all documents have now been duplicated and transferred to the new sites.”
“Excellent news. Admiral Jarvis?”
“Sire, in the last month no less than five different pirate vessels have been encountered or engaged by your Fleet. Three have been captured whilst two managed to escape. Piracy on the high seas is becoming a serious threat to our trade routes Sire, the merchant fleets are just too tempting a target. To that end Sire we are introducing a convoy system. Merchantmen wishing to sail across the Great Ocean will assemble in Port Rigel once every two months and sail en masse with a strong naval escort.”
The Admiral moved to a different set of notes. “As you will recall Sire, the deteriorating situation on the Chesapeake and the growth of rival naval powers like the Aztecs or the Six Kingdoms has forced us to restructure our fleet somewhat. Traditionally the Navy has had relatively few battleships, focusing instead on frigates and sloops for patrol, trade interdiction and escort duties. However, with these rival naval powers growing in strength, we have changed that. We must have a strong battle fleet to counter them.”
“As such, with this Council’s approval the entire Naval budget for new vessels for the past two years has been devoted to battleship construction. This is about to pay off as we now have no less than twenty battleships building, with ten expected finished this year and the rest next year. We have also been working on four Flagships to lead individual groups, these are three-decked, 100-gun monsters that, when you factor in our heavier guns, will be able to obliterate any other ship afloat.”
“Two of these monsters will be completed with year, with the final two ready next year. Ladies and Gentlemen, this will bring our total strength to no less than 32 battleships and four Flagships. We intend to operate as four Fleets of eight battleships and one Flagship. It is worth noting that any one of these Fleets is almost equal to our entire current battle line. In short, our strength in battleships will double within a year, and effectively quadruple within two years.” The Admiral sat.
“Most impressive Admiral, and excellent news. Please let my staff know the commissioning dates for the new battleships, my wife and I would be delighted to attend.” The Admiral nodded in agreement before gesturing to his aide who made a note of the request. The Emperor continued down this agenda, various ministers giving reports on everything from what the Empire’s spies had told them to how many people had been sent to prison. Finally, the Lord Chief Justice presented a list of names to the Emperor.
“Your Majesty, these are the people who have been sentenced to death since our last meeting, all of whom have made an appeal to you for clemency, as is their right.” The list contained fourteen names and would cause the Emperor considerable consternation as he reviewed their cases, just as this process always affected him. It was one aspect of Imperial life that he detested, though there were occasional bright spots.
“Thank you Lord Chief Justice. If no one else has anything to add, we shall stand adjourned.”
As one, the Council stood, turned to the Emperor and Empress and either bowed or curtsied, whilst the Admiral and General saluted. The meeting was now over and Philip and Jessica would now return to their offices for yet more meetings and discussions. Fortunately Imperial Protocol was somewhat more relaxed in these other meetings than in formal Council meetings, so they could relax.
-Orion agrees to sell guns to Ohio, offering a discount if the Siege Regiment is allowed to join the campaign
-Major naval building program announced. This year adds ten battleships (1200 points each for 12,000 total) and two Flagships (1800 points each for 3600 total). This accounts for 15,600 points of my yearly expansion budget of 30,000. The rest will be announced later.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-02-17 09:06am
Fragment 9 (cont’d from fragment 8 )
With the robed man’s death
His net of contracts ceased
The leapers twisted, transformed further
The enthralled hyenorks were released.
They sought to prove their worth again,
Forcing back the portal beast
The giant arm severed but still crawling
Sliced off when the portal ceased
Two fully transformed leaper wasps
Were brought down by skillful slings
The other four escaped in flight
On red and gold translucent wings
Bralla ignored the final fighting
And walked towards the leader slave
Who stood, wearily leaning on
Her dusty, battered, blood stained spade.
The slave exposed her neck.
Bralla spread her paws in peace
“What now conqueror?
Kill each other, or slaves release?”
Bralla took her palm to palm,
“I’ve lost one sister here today,
I would not lose an ally too.
Give me your name and tribe and oath,
I invite you all into my crew”
“Lanke, once of Red Horn tribe.
Slave here now four years or so
Hyenorks here from three raiding packs
He liked us ‘cos we died so slow.
Humans too, a Bastian Cat”,
Bralla grinned but Lanka said,
“Allies, comrades, not your prey.
Let them leave or stay instead./”
Bralla grunted then clasped her paw.
“Go and free the other slaves
We’ll hunt the area, surve till spring
Move westwards under summer rays.”
Lanke went, supported by,
Another slave, a tattered man.
Bralla moved to speak to Roh,
Quietly outing her broader plan.
“Take two you trust and search the barn,
Head back east with proof of gold,
This mine means we can trade for guns
And break Igrabollo’s stranglehold.
Get proof and bring the Red Horns here,
This land is fat with valleys broad
We’ll take the lot for our own tribe
Claw and tooth beats axe and sword.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-02-19 03:06pm
Zwinmar wrote:OTL Omaha
Yellow eyes gaze over the streets filled with a myriad of different species. While one is unlikely to find more than Thyrs deep within the territories, other than the occasional plainsman, here there is a clash of cultures as merchants shout their wares. From the great wolf headed stele to the river a kilometer of cobbled road is lined with a cacophony of of colored pavilions, each lot a precise dimensions and rented for a period of seven days enforced by the local constabulary which is reinforced by grey coated MP's from the garrison. Situated on the flood plain and marked off in a precise grid alphanumerically on small stone posts the merchants are informed that their continued presence is maintained only by strict adherence to the law and provided access to a stone inscribed detailed description of the weights and measures used.
Dark lips smirk slightly as his yellow eyes gaze to the north west following the great highway flanked on either side by twin wooden rails which stretch to the horizon. Separated by twenty meters the set on the left of the wide gauge rails carry outgoing merchandise from far off lands destined for each town and village before reaching the capital. Drawn by the great buffalo of the plains, these rails are the lifeline of the Thyrsian Empire. Unfortunately, the rails close when the snow is too deep. While they can clear some of it the distance is simply to great to keep them running year around and alternate methods must be found.
The large Thyrs straightens his heavily brocade coat before turning to the relatively diminutive human beside him dressed in similar richly appointed apparel. "The lines are clear to the mountains" His bass voice a rumble, "the ore shipments should be arriving within the next few weeks"
The human nods her raven locks even as she purses her lips in thought,"We should have time to send out a few shipments before the spring floods then." Even as she puts a hand up on his arm,"Don't worry Kor, they will get here..."
"I hope so Mika, these first ones are always the most dangerous, I have the scouts out watching but if there is a raid there isn't much we can do."
Re: The Two Musketeers
Posted: 2016-02-21 03:19am
Superior, Republic of Thunder Bay
Coop d'Etat wrote:http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic. ... 5#p3945874
"You and your lance are to carry a diplomatic pouch to the Ambassador to the Court of the Ohioan Empire in Kingsport. Your orders are to keep the pouch sealed to all but the Ambassador himself. To be clear, you will not open it for his wife, his valet, his personal guard or his second. The clasp on the pouch will burn the contents unless it is opened in the correct sequence. If you are attacked on the way, your men are ordered to sell their lives to give you time to open the clasp incorrectly and trigger the mechanism."
"In honour of the discomfort of travelling accross the plains in the dead of winter and the hazard of the tribesmen, your men will be recieving triple pay for the duration. You will be providing for the difference from normal wages from your own pocket. The pouch and more detailed written orders are with my second outside. You are dismissed."
Late Windbringer, 224
Lieutenant Joachim had watched, with great dismay, as his purse was devoured by his lance, slowly crawling their way through the depths of a northern winter at triple wages. He counted himself lucky that he'd made the distance to the city of Superior, on the lake of that name, in two months... the journey had been four hundred and fifty miles if it was an inch. Two months, through snow, ice, more snow, and the occasional frozen mud. Were it not for good luck and a few well-timed herds of bison headbutting their way through the snowdrifts, making some semblance of a roadway here and there, he'd probably be begging in the streets by now.
At least, now, they were here, much of the way to their destination. The death-grip of winter on the north was finally beginning to relax a little... he'd actually seen a puddle of free-standing water
in the street yesterday! Snow on rooftops was beginning to melt! This, naturally, would mean mud
. Joachim cursed his fate, and the spectacular ill-luck of his being found with the margrave's daughter.
Lost in thought, Joachim was quite surprised when a hand the size of a small shovel came to rest lightly- lightly
upon his shoulder.
For a moment, Joachim wondered if he had been seized by some far-ranging Thyr, or a hyenork, or even one of the great ogres rumored to haunt the forests of Wisconsin. Then he turned around and saw a merely ordinary man, though of extraordinary stature. Swarthy, but with thick, curly hair and beard... perhaps a Turk? His face was lined, probably a man of thirty years, perhaps forty.... he didn't dress like a Turk. Over his many layers of winter clothes was a blue tabard with a curve-decorated, nine-pointed starburst stitched out in silver... a symbol no Turk would ordinarily wear, deeming it the garb of infidels.
Joachim believed he recalled that particular version of the starburst, from a course on livery and heraldry. It helped to explain the relative richness of the rest of the man's clothes. The tall man's dress was, from his shoes to his hat-plume, from the baldric of his sword to the collar of his coat, quite elaborate and expensive, of fine yet durable fabric, with a wealth of decoration.
The great maybe-Turk spoke, disengaging his hand. "I do beg your pardon, young sir, and I apologize if I have caused you upset. But I fear you were about to step into a pile of horse manure... and unless I miss my guess, to step away from a fine opportunity to ease the progress of a most honorable mission. I am Isaac of Porthau, and you, the whispers of the leafy trees assure me, are Joachim of the Twelfth Hussars."
Reflex took over "You... you are one of the Ohioan emperor's musketeers."
"Even so, even so." Porthau gave a little bow. "And you carry something of considerable value, which my master as well as yours would see delivered safely."
"Ah..." Joachim recalled his orders rather nervously. The diplomatic pouch was not on his person, but he definitely remembered very clearly his commanding officer telling him not to let anyone
at it, save only the ambassador.
"Fear not, my friend, I am but a humble soldier, and a helpful one besides. And if you ask, how did I know such things... Are there not scurrilous rumors in the broadsheets that Her Eminence the Chief Minister is a witch? Such rumors are utterly without truth,
I am of course obliged to assure you." Porthau winked. "Come, come I simply must introduce you to my good friend of these seventeen years, Henri of Aramitz! Even now, a scholar as well as a gentleman, he keeps an eye on our men at the sign of the Fat Honeybee!"
And with that, Joachim found himself swept along in the wake of the older man, who kept up a constant rattle of jovial talk that the Assiniboine hussar found most pleasant and quite disarming.
Porthau led the way into the Fat Honeybee, swinging the door to the common room open with a push that was nearly a buffet and striding inside. Joachim had seen its like before, many times- the sort of place that catered to moderately successful tradesmen, second sons of the aristocracy, and travelers of independent means. The sort with enough funds to ensure their drink was un-watered, and to at least entertain the hope that their beds would be free of insects.
The cluster of swordsmen around a great round table over by one corner were doubtless the Ohioan soldiers Porthau had mentioned- they appeared excited to experiment with the local mead. Joachim knew that the valley of the Ohio was famous for its wines. But he had never heard of them making liquor from honey, whereas the Republic of Thunder Bay was hardly wine country, and had its share of skilled apiarists.
If the drinking soldiery were the Ohioans, then the man leaning back against the wall, seated on a stool by a small table of his own next to them would seem to be Aramitz, who perked up as the swarthy, broad-shouldered countryman led the way into the inn.
Joachim could follow Ohioan quite well, actually, and it was fortunate he could, for the two musketeers spoke swiftly, and in the involuted manner all too typical of the Louisville aristocracy.
The man Joachim supposed to be Aramitz was of slender build, obviously an active man even though clearly well into his middle years. Every line of his face suggesting restraint, thought, and a reserved demeanor. The contrast with Porthau was striking. His clothes were less rich than Porthau's, but in a state of excellent upkeep, especially for someone who must have already traveled perhaps twice as far as Joachim himself- if not through such miserable weather. By contrast, Porthau's splendid display was perhaps a bit... careworn.
Aramitz nodded once and smiled. "Porthau, good to see you back. I take it you have located our opposite number from Winnipek?"
"Ah yes, my dear friend, and one
of us need venture no further!" Porthau waved an arm grandly.
The other musketeer lifted an eyebrow. "Yes, but which one?"
The half-Turk nodded slowly, giving a beaming smile. "One might imagine that a gentleman of fine manners such as yourself would be well suited to making a favorable impression at the court of Winnipek, to the adornment of the Ohioan cause, while an unsubtle, yet redoubtable and tireless hero such as I-" he thumped his chest "ensures that our intrepid friend the lieutenant reaches his appointed rendez-vous
with the ambassador in Louisville!"
"And yet..." the thin, impeccably groomed musketeer smiled, pinching the tip of his van Dyke beard between two fingers... "And yet, one might also imagine that a gentleman of fine courtly manner might be best suited to assist our guest in navigating the Emperor's court, while a redoubtable and tireless hero instead batters his way through the snow-drifts and the mud-seas to Winnipek- you forgot to mention the snow and the mud, didn't you, you unsubtle
Porthau groaned. "I am undone! Outfoxed! My poor, simple brain is befuddled by my scholarly fellow and his subtle casuistry! How then, is the matter to be settled?" Porthau was smiling again, though that seemed his usual expression. Even as his hand slid to rest on his hip, just above his rapier. "It would seem we must try conclusions."
"Indeed we must. The challenge must, of course, be entirely fair, without prejudice to either..." There was a glint in Aramitz's eye as he rose to his feet, but the Ohioan must be uncommonly hard-boiled if it was the sort that he had before a duel. For that matter, not even Ohioan nobles
could possibly be mad enough to duel over something like this. Could they?
"Then we are agreed?"
"As always. Cloth covers stone, stone breaks shears, shears cut cloth."
The men extended their right fists and Aramitz called gently to the next table. "Savatier, we have a match to settle..." One of the Ohioan soldiers muttered and rose, setting down his tankard, poising to form a triangle with the two officers, then coughed.
Porthau shouted "Oh, come on, give us the drums!" Laughing and whispering to each other, the soldiers began drumming their hands on the table. The contest was foreign and strange to Joachim, but the soldiers were obviously watching it avidly, though the empty jars of wine and mead at their table might do much to explain that. The sergeant suddenly shouted out a string of half-babbled words, seemingly at random.
"All right. Stone-cloth-shears-FIRE!
" As one, the soldiers stopped their drumming... looking at their commanders' hands... Aramitz's, with first and middle fingers extended, and Porthau's, which remained clenched into a fist. A few of the more drunken of the Ohioan soldiers began digging into belt pouches, a few coins exchanging hands.
The dapper man's fists flew to his sides. "By the sacred Blue, Porthau, you were supposed to choose cloth!"
The giant laughed. "You always say that, and you always choose shears, and I always win!"
Aramitz sighed, shaking his head theatrically. "Ah well, let us then choose which of our stalwart warriors will accompany each of us. I nominate for sergeant of my men Duplessy- I hope you do not feel disappointed, Savatier?"
At this the tall, richly dressed musketeer nodded judiciously "Very well, Savatier, if Duplessy is going with Aramitz, you will be coming with me, and let me see, for my next choice..."
The selection of escorts among the shared pool of soldiery went on for a few minutes, with theatrical laughter and groans from the men- the laughter, mostly at the expense of those four unfortunates not
present, three of whom were soon to learn of their assignment to escort Aramitz to the frozen spires of Winnipek.
The next morning, Joachim made his way over to the Ohioans' inn to make sure they were ready to go- his men were almost prepared, having had a few days already to recover from their labors.
Porthau clapped his hands with a certain friendly finality, then clasped Aramitz's arm. "Dress warmly, my friend, and keep up your spirits. I am sure you will find some sweet grace to keep you busy."
Aramitz smiled wryly. "Perhaps, perhaps."
"Or two. Or three."
Now the great musketeer's grin was positively wicked, and Aramitz only spread his hands and bowed. "Surely not..." but his eyes danced.
1) Isaac de Porthau, of the Emperor's Musketeers, has met with Joachim, the Assiniboine courier, and will be joining him on the road down to Ohioan territory in Chicago, through the politically divided lands of Wisconsin along the lake-shore. De Porthau will bring with him a handful of soldiers of the Imperial Guard.
2) Henri d'Aramitz, likewise of the Emperor's Musketeers, likewise with a handful of soldiers of the Guard, will be proceeding north through Assiniboine territory, with messages for the Ohioan ambassador to the Assiniboine court that amount to a proposal more or less identical to Assiniboia's own... and noting that a reply message confirming the basic character of the agreement reached in Louisville should make it back to Winnipek with, oh, a few months?
All this outlined in a letter from Cardinal Mazzarini, who foresaw more or less this sequence of events, though not
by magic- and whose spy network had a hand in tipping the musketeers off to the arrival of a courier bound for Ohio.
3) The angry fathers of Winnipek, the Assiniboine capital, have rid themselves of a womanizing lieutenant... only to import Henri d'Aramitz of the Emperor's Musketeers, at least for a time. They may find that things may be going from bad, to worse.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-02-22 02:05pm
Location: South-West of Nunavut, Blight’s Edge
Gutvorn whistled as he walked
As slowly sleds made trails round trees
Dark things rustled, moved away
Faintly blew the northern breeze
“Storms to come,” Rosor muttered
“We’d best be out of open soon”,
Dead ahead Forn was pointing
A wall of trees rose to the moon.
Magrallo told the sleds to stop
“Coro land,” Gutvorn said,
“Their forest edge, edge of the Blight.
Spirits gone, trees mostly dead.”
They hurried on before the storm
And crossed into the twilight murk
Gutvorn led them to a hut
Somewhere the shamans use to work
Around the hut grew spiny briars
Gutvorn plucked away two paths
And in they piled as wind picked up
While he began to tip his shafts
The red-drip thorns he fixed into
Grooves in arrows long and light
He covered each with hollow quills
Then stared out into the night
Forn too could hear the wind
And howling faint behind the noise
Perhaps the forest was not dead?
Defences left for elvish toys?
When morning came they headed on
Avoiding fallen rotten trees
Tides of woodlice poured from stumps
With that faint howling on the breeze
Fungi glimmered in the gloom
Black birds followed in their wakes
Gorging on disturbed woodlice
Where claws the rotten surface breaks
The forest thins , the light grows more
They stand on edge of a wide clearing
Centered on a cut stone fort
Through which a giant tree is rearing
A shadow marks the fortress walls
An elf and shield and dead piled high
Hyenork skulls and lines of elves
Mourning a hearse that's passing by.
Visions press, like in a dream
Daikee flinches, bears her teeth,
Magrallo whirls to fight the foe
Then starts, seeing nothing underneath
The lonely sun. The clearing’s bare,
Some jumbled stones, a long dead tree
Wordlessly they hurry on,
Follow the trail, not things to see.
Actions and Winter Recap:
Queen Igrabollo of the Mammoth tribe has sent Magrallo + crew on a quest to the Blight, the forest to the south-west of Nunavut that was the home of the elves fifty years ago. They are in the forest, and it's eerie and mysterious.
Hudern was sent by the same Queen on a trading expedition with Orion. They traded gold and fur for 6 large cannon. They were ambushed by a 200 strong band of Creekland Hyenorks but fought them off (removed from order of battle for a year voluntarily). Hudern is still returning northwards with the heavy cannon.
Bralla, a disreputable member of the Red Horns tribe, took a group on a raiding quest to the west. Ultimately they reached the edge of the North-West Territories, and (just) defeated a sorcerer to capture a gold mine. Bralla's subordinate, Roh, is now travelling to return to the Red Horn tribe with proof of gold, hoping to bring reinforcements enough to conquer the North West Territories in the coming seasons.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-02-26 10:46pm
The cold waters of Lake Francois lay silent and empty beneath a stormy grey sky. Captain Anasi crouched behind a shrub beneath the cover of a great fir tree, as the first drops of a cold, drizzling rain struck the branches overhead.
She restrained her urge to glare at the speaker and replied in a hard, flat voice, not looking at her.
"It is Captain here, Ranger Miyl."
A moment's silence.
"I apologise, Captain", Miyl replied, with unbecoming sullenness.
Anasi turned her head to face her younger sister. Miyl was relatively new to this work, having been a Ranger only three years. A hairsbreadth in a Coronal's lifespan. Still, Anasi thought, she should have learned proper decorum by now, even if this was the first time her sister had served in the same company as herself.
"Siyl and Vayr have returned, Captain." She ground her teeth at the insolent way her sister emphasized the title.
Anasi gestured in acknowledgement, then rose and strode down the slope in the direction from which Miyl had come, towards two figures whose cloaks would have hidden them even from her if she had not be searching for them. She traded the proper salutes with the Rangers, then fixed her attention on Siyl.
"Report, Ranger", she said again.
"We have searched along the shores of the lake, and found no sign of the Sylix, though they would likely have passed through here some time ago. Nor have we found any other signs of bestial or sentient life." The older Ranger hid his concern well, but she knew he felt the dark power of this land as much as any of them, save perhaps the mages.
She gave the traditional gesture to acknowledge his report, then turned to face the short, slender woman standing five paces behind her.
"Scholar Taiv", she said, scarcely masking her contempt for the woman. "Have you anything to add?"
"Nothing beyond what you already know. Their is a dangerous power here, and I sense a casting of great power, some time past. I do not think we are in direct peril, yet I would advise against lingering here." A brief pause. "Healer Siryn concurs."
That impressed Anasi, despite her dislike of the Scholars. Few of them gave much heed to the opinion of anyone outside their own Order unless compelled to. Perhaps if more Scholars behaved this way more often, she would think less poorly of them, she thought wryly.
"Agreed", she said decisively. She turned to Miyl, who had predictably followed her. "Pass word to Ranger Liras to divide the Rangers in two. One contingent, commanded by myself, will move away from the lake, and return to the ford where we camped last night. Scholar Taiv and Healer Siryn will accompany us. We will establish an encampment, and await developments. I will prepare a dispatch to Captain Diiv and the Queen's Court, informing them of our progress." Small chance that Captain Everin would be at Court, she thought caustically, regretting her disloyal and insubordinate thoughts regarding the Prince, however private. "The second contingent, under Ranger Liras's command, will divide into pairs and fan out, following standard reconisance practices for this land. They have permission to question the locals, and to make such trades as custom and law, and our limited resources, permit, in exchange for information. However, they are to avoid engagement if at all possible, unless in defence of themselves or others of our kind."
Her sister acknowledged the order and headed back toward the rest of their band.
It would have been easier, she thought, to simply raid a convenient Syilx settlement in retribution, without concern for weather they had found the guilty party, and accept that the captives were simply a tragic but irreversible loss. Briefly, she had been tempted to do exactly that. But she could not accept such half-measures, not when their peoples' liberty and lives were at stake. They had lost too much for that.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-03-05 09:20am
In a last fit mocking the hubris of the lesser beings inhabiting the plains a blizzard sweeps unexpectantly from the artic covering the Thyrsian Empire with another meter of snow. In each garrison and outpost the green skins hunker down in defiance of the storm. In the capitol the Empress looks on the winter blanket, her azure eyes gazing at the fire a moment before back to her correspondence reported form all corners of the empire. Down along the great river they are prepared for the spring floods, while in the west the mountain divisions are using the latest snows for 'good training' the general taking delight in the inclement weather.
The current letter in her hand details an incident with a mage charbroiling a column of winged harpies even as her Inquisitor took on and defeated the daemon made manifest by the tear in the aether, a particularly vile one from all accounts. A note of congratulations to be sent then to the inquisitor in question then.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-03-06 12:07pm
(March 6th, 2016 OTL)
Day Ozomahtli (Monkey) is governed by Xochipili, the Flower Prince, as its provider of tonalli (Shadow Soul) life energy. Ozomahtli is a day for creating, for play, for celebrating. A good day for lightheartedness, a bad day for seriousness. Ozomahtli is a warning about how easily the noble person can be trapped by the lures of public life.
The thirteen day period (trecena) that starts with day 1-Mazatl (Deer) is ruled by Tepeyollotl, the Heart of the Mountain, the Jaguar of Night, lord of the animals and darkened caves. Tepeyollotl is Tezcatlipoca disguised in a jaguar hide, whose voice is the echo in the wilderness and whose word is the darkness itself, calls to the heart in the voice of the conch. These are 13 days associated with the hunt: whether one is the hunter or the game, this trecena reminds us that our lives are determined by the act of stalking. The arts of tracking and back-tracking, of spotting and camouflaging, of following tracks and covering tracks, rule our lives to the degree that we master them. These are good days to study the routines of others; bad days to keep to your routines.
The ancient teachings of the temple run through my head as I drift on a cloud of pungent, skunky smoke. It's my lunch break, and I'm out back in the alley behind the pastry shop, blazing a fat one with the kitchen staff and scarfing down a maize, goat, and chili pepper pie, as usual. There's a rainbow in the sky after a light shower, and the sun is shining so brightly... Xochipili dances by and high-fives me, or else I totally just imagined that.
Man, this is some pretty decent shit. I am so glad I only have to sacrifice one person today, and it's right at sunset, so I can go to the bar right after...
The hot rain of the southern border jungle washes the disgusting monkey-sweat off my naked Hand Skin. I crouch in a tree, alert. I've held still for too long, listening to the suddenly-too-quiet jungle, and I have to stretch. My flesh and bones ripple slowly, silently, as I very carefully flex and contort them through a partial shift without making a cracking or grinding sound. The magic harness that keeps my musket and my macauitl (blessings of Tepeyollotl be upon the fallen ancestors whose talons adorn it) on my back stretches and conforms to my torso, even in the full glory of the God Skin.
There is a strange smell in the air. Pungent, like the liver of a fresh kill... This is a strange day, the priests tell us: sacred to the jaguar aspect of the patron of my order, and something about routines; I forget. That shit is rarely accurate, anyway, as far as I can tell; most of it's so vague, people just think it's real because of confirmation bias. It's just good to know enough to pay lip service.
I'm glad that we didn't bring the field guns today. The weak always-monkeys always want their precious guns, because *ahem* compensation issues. They don't care if we move at a painfully-slow pace through the tangled wilderness where we can be ambushed anywhere, because they move painfully-slowly and can be ambushed anywhere anyway.
I crawl out over the river on a great, reaching limb, trying to observe the underbrush from a high position with my monkey-eyes, as I use my monkey-hands to signal to the monkeys and pride behind and around me. There is a strange rippling undercurrent, out of synch with the wind. Something isn't quite...
Colossal tentacles whip up from where the roots of the trees should be, as the trees themselves begin to topple! Always-monkeys scream as they get flung around, get crushed, or open fire at will, buying time for the pride to transform into the God Skin. Some of the pride sacrifice themselves to pin tentacles in their mouths and under their 300-400# weight to save their brothers and sisters. A few others are too valuable to lose, like the alpha and the medic, and dive into the river. I shift and leap myself, as my perch comes crashing down, making a good landing, forelegs first.
Nothing broken, but FUCK!
There goes my powder. The magic horn is water-resistant
, not water-proof
I can't fight this thing. I want to, but I can't. A tentacle drags the alpha under the water, claws thrashing with valor but without effect. Somebody has to get back to base and report. I'm just a scout. I'm doing the right thing for the pride and regiment by swimming away while I have an opening. I know I am...
Guess we should've brought the field guns after all.
Calendar info ripped directly from Aztec Calendar Dot Com
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-03-06 07:11pm
Secure Conference Room, Imperial Academy Archives, Hephaestus, Empire of Orion
20th Day of Winter, 2955 AEF (Winter, Game Year 1)
The mood in the conference room was somber. Only the seniormost Masters of the Archives had been summoned, no one from the Research Labs was there, nor were any aides or other assistants. There was not even a Adept Mnemomancer to record and transcribe what was said for the official record.
The thirteen men gathered around the table were collectively the most knowledgeable on the planet, and whilst all realised something of truly critical importance was to be discussed, only two knew just how Earth-shattering it might be.
At the head of the table, Master James Arnoth rapped his hand on the wooden surface twice to call everyone’s attention.
“Fellow Masters, as you have no doubt surmised this meeting is both critically important and totally secret in nature. No notes are to be taken and you may not discuss this with anyone beyond these walls. I am invoking your Oaths of Office in this regard.”
That was enough to dispel any lingering doubts of the seriousness of the meeting. The Orion Oath of Office was more than a mere appeal to one’s honour. The Oath was witnessed by a high-level Interromancer and implanted mental commands that compelled those sworn to silence unless speaking with someone authorised to know. The exact method by which the Oath knew who was authorised was something that only the Interromancers knew. Attempts to force oneself to speak led to progressively more painful and debilitating effects; ultimately, the Oath would kill you before you could violate it.
“I will allow Master Aberforth to explain the situation we find ourselves in, as it was his initial research, since confirmed personally by myself, that brought it to light.”
William nodded his thanks and turned to the group:
“To put it bluntly gentleman, the Empire has been ruled by a legal pretender and their descendants for the last eighty-five years.” Shocked exclamations filled the room. William waited for them to subside before quickly summarizing the situation: the Exile of Prince David in 2859, the Ascension of his older sister Mary II in 2870, and the crucial absence of an official Edict of Disinheritance for him and his descendants.
“Prince David’s grandson, Charles is now a high-ranking nobleman and army commander in Ohio. He has a legal claim to the throne in place of Emperor Philip V. Master Arnoth and I have estimated that should this news become public and should Charles press his claim, a sufficient part of the populace and the military would support his legal claim to cause a civil war, potentially leading to a Fifth Interregnum if the conflict drags out or is unresolved.”
The somber mood had grown deathly still as Master Aberforth finished speaking. Arnoth spoke again:
“The question facing us now is what do we do with this information?”
Master Grimnoth immediately spoke: “We tell the Emperor of course. We are honour-bound to inform him!”
Master Ellswick was equally quick to respond: “And risk sparking the very unrest we are concerned about? For all his qualities the Emperor is young and impulsive, giving him this information now may prompt him to some ill-thought-out action that jeopardises the Empire.”
“You suggest we suppress this information? Deliberately withhold facts from he whom we are sword to serve?” Grimnoth shot back.
“I suggest we keep this to ourselves for the time being until we can present him with a complete picture and a suggested plan. Master Aberforth, is this Charles fellow aware of his legal status?”
William looked thoughtful for a moment. “There has been a small but vocal group of supporters in Ohio that maintain that he, like his father and grandfather, is the True Emperor of Orion. These appear to be a mixture of minor Ohioan noblemen wishing to support a powerful ally and Orion expatriates with an axe to grind against the Empire. The Ohioans refer to him as “The Prince of Hephaestus” in addition to his Ohioan ducal title. He himself appears to humour this behaviour. I would surmise that he is aware of the history and that he should have been Emperor had Prince David not been Exiled, but that he is unaware of the strength of his claim.”
And that was the crux of the matter. Legally, Charles should be the Emperor, so under a certain interpretation of the Oath of Office, they were compelled to inform him of the details of his claim as well as Emperor Philip. Doing so could mean a civil war, or perhaps even outright war with Ohio depending on how the situation developed. Not telling him meant potentially violating their Oaths. Telling the current Emperor now risked sparking a crisis when the Empire had enough problems to occupy it’s time.
Discussion ranged back and forth, with roughly half the Masters being in favour of contacting Charles and the remainder in favour of keeping the information a secret, with Master Grimnoth holding out that, no matter what, the current Emperor must be told.
Arnoth called their attention once again and announced his decision: “For the present, we will keep this information within the Archives until we have to reveal it to others. William, how long before the Adepts reach these documents for the Encyclopaedia?”
“Perhaps three months. Certainly no longer than that.”
“Then we Masters shall work together on a plan to present this information to the Emperor within two months. Until then, no-one outside this room is to know about it.”
Aberforth nodded his assent, but privately his mind was made; at the earliest convenience he would journey to Ohio and tell Charles the truth. It is an Archivist’s duty to do so, he reasoned, and the man is legally the Emperor. He has to know.
Had any Telepaths been present, they would have been deeply concerned to sense that Aberforth’s Oath of Office did nothing to prevent this decision.
-Succession Crisis begins.
-Archivist Master William Aberforth will set out to inform Charles, Prince of Hepaestus and Duke of Terreglaize of his legal status.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-03-26 06:10pm
The newly named Lintyvys Inlet sparkled beneath a spring Sun. The forested hills rose high on either side, endless waves of evergreen trees rising to snow-capped peaks. The sky was pale blue, broken by scattered white clouds, and a cold breeze blew off the great Western Ocean, sending spray across the bow of the long, narrow wooden vessel named Wanderer.
Captain Juril stood at the tiller, his experienced hand carefully guiding the vessel towards the mouth of the inlet as his eyes studied the horizon. The shores behind and to either side were dotted with encampments, clearings filled with tents and workshops cut from the woods, the beaches lined with fire pits and simple wooden docks. It was not the homeland of the Coronal of old, and his heart ached again for the land and the culture and the lives that his people had forever lost, but for the first time in many years, he felt hope, pride in his peoples' future, more than a mere grim resolution to survive whatever the cost. For the first time in so long, they had roots, were building something new once again. A new land rising from the western Forests of Mist.
It made him feel... young.
It had been long since he had held the tiller of a boat, but he had not forgotten. As the inlet broadened before them, the Sun glittered silver on a million waves, dazzling his eyes. The little vessel pitched in the sea, and he shouted orders to the dozen odd Wanderers manning the sails and oars. The usual decorum of his people had never been so prevelant among sailors. You had to shout to be heard above the sea and the wind, and you followed orders swiftly and well, or you died.
Their's was a little craft, crude by the standards of the old Coronal, for it had been built swiftly and with distinctly limited resources. Yet he felt a deep and intense pride in the vessel, and his duty, that he had not felt in any before. Not merely because it was a new beginning, achieved against nearly insurmountable odds, but because this was the Wanderers' first great venture beyond their new homeland. Damn the hidebound isolationists of the Council, the Queen had commanded that two ships be sent out, one north and one south along the coast, to scout and determine who their neighbours were, beyond vague tales and rumours. Trade was a secondary priority, but not to be overlooked. He wondered, again, what had persuaded the Queen. The Prince perhaps- the two were not close, so rumour had it, but he was still the Queen's brother, and of a much more open and adventurous mind than most of the Coronal. Juril smiled fiercely. A man after his own heart, that one.
As they left the inlet and passed into more open waters, Juril turned to see their sister ship, the Coronal, break away and swing to the south. He raised a hand in parting salute, and the cheers of both crews echoed over the waters. Then Wanderer swung to the north, the wind in its sails, leaving behind everything his people knew.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-03-29 06:57pm
Ouabache, Department of Marchand
10 Sleetbringer, 224
Captain Henri Delatour, son of Henri Delatour, viscount of Vincennes sat by a fireside in a Ouabache tavern, trying to flex his legs a bit to stop cramps from setting in. The ride had been hard these past days, and reaching the head of the Ouabache river marked only the end of the first quarter of his travels.
For the journey he'd brought along a few of his musketeers as servants- good horsemen, which was more necessary than ever. Renaud and the others were discreet, competent men, too- also necessary in his present state, though perhaps their quiet competence was less than favorable to the captain's disposition. They took care of horses, dickered over lodging and supplies, and otherwise maintained all things in order for the fastest journey winter weather allowed over good imperial roads.
This left their captain free to brood.
For what had to be the fiftieth time, perhaps the hundredth, Delatour unfolded the letter from home. A few flecks of... something
discolored the paper. The hand was shaky, but it was surely his father's own, not that of a professional.
My dear Henri:
I have already written congratulating you for your company's victory in the action of Frostbringer the twentieth, these several weeks ago, so I will not waste an undue amount of ink saying more than that which I must. That is to say, this:
You know I had my doubts and fears when you were small, and I would not hold it against you if you bore me some rancor for my harshness in those days. It is the joy of my declining years, though, to know that you have grown into a strong and valiant man. A hero, even- and do not deny it to yourself, my boy, I can read a pamphlet or a broadsheet as well as the next man. Enjoy your laurels, is my advice, for you are sensible and the enjoyment wil do you no great harm, as it might to a flightier sort. And as you are fitted by fate and circumstance to be a soldier, so your reputation as a fighting-man will be the best possible adornment to your career, besides.
I hope this letter finds you in good health, the more so as the writing of it does not find me thus. I have never had good fortune with the grippe, not since your mother passed away. Again, it has entrenched itself in my lungs, more so than it did two winters ago. Sometimes, it is difficult to breathe.
So far, neither prayers nor the physicians' teas and mists have dislodged it from its battlements on conquered soil, though crafty old Duplessier has at least found a formulation that quiets my coughing so I can sleep, for which I am grateful. I tire of coughing, and of gurgling, and of lying propped up in bed at all hours of the day and night.
Perhaps the heavens will shine on me and I will recover.
Whatever happens, your character and your deeds are a balm to me in these winter days, and I know you will bring honor to both myself and our house in the days to come.
All my blessings and love,
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-05-12 03:31pm
The Grand Arsenal
City of Toledo
Flowering 3, 224
Lieutenant Berthier of his Most Righteous Majesty's latest sloop of war twisted around slightly, stretching the tense muscles in his neck. Gratefully he breathed in the cool, humid spring air, lately cleansed by Flowering rains. The ringing of bells told him just a few minutes ago that he'd be handing off command of the deck of the anchored warship to Leroy in half an hour. And speak of the devil, there was the sour old warhorse now, coming up early. The man might grouse, and who could blame him as a lieutenant at forty-five, but the Army of the Waters was his life. Berthier smiled thinly, not breaking his posture of intent alertness.
From below came the thump of a petty officer striking the deck above him with the butt of his whip. "Careful, dog! The witch said the blankets had to be flat to the bulkhead!" Berthier nodded slowly to himself. The dense-woven cotton was thick enough to stop a tomahawk, and embroidered with eye-watering runic patterns stitched in copper and asbestos thread.
The doddering crone of a magician who occasionally came by to supervise installation of the cotton liner said that the heavy blankets would serve many purposes. Whatever she said it was for, best to make sure it was done as she said. Even if all worked exactly as designed, it was more wizardry than he cared for.
Mistakes in sorcery could be ugly. For all he knew, letting the fabric wrinkle would turn the ship inside out... though it was hard to imagine this hull suffering such a fate. The sounds of cursing and of carpenters' mallets being swung hard echoed through the hatch, as they tacked the blankets in place. The floating battery's hull was five feet thick, made of timbers so hard and dense that some of them wouldn't float. Even experienced woodworkers sometimes struggled to pound the long, broad-headed nails of goblin bronze home into such timber.
Leroy grunted at Berthier's polite nod. "So, Berthier, do you think she really will keep out cannonballs?"
"Have you ever taken a saw to Turkish oak?"
"No- nor have you, unless you've been slumming."
"Ahhhh, but I've a man who has; he worked on a folly of my uncle's. Some furniture of the stuff. It's so strong you practically have to work it with blacksmith's tools. I think it'll hold."
"Excellent, then, we shall sail to our war in a coffin of the hardiest lumber... and we will have to sail,"
Leroy glanced up at the pair of masts that the lake-ship's captain had insisted on having stepped into place, despite the assurances of at least a score of prominent members of the Sorcerors' Collegium. "That maze of metal below decks... it is not a natural thing. No good will come of it."
"Mm. It is uncanny, even now." Berthier made a starburst on his chest, and went on, calmed slightly. "A thing of electrum and bronze, breathing not, but that toils without food, water, or rest, pushing her through the water, though the... engine... does not so much as touch the lake. Any one of these things has the power of a dozen horses, they say... and I believe them."
"You do? Twelve horses? If two of them are lame and the other ten are about to throw a shoe, perhaps. I hear Thunderer's had eighteen impeller breakdowns this week... and the ship only has eight impellers to begin with! And for this, our 'floating batteries' can run up a river at, perhaps, a walking pace... And all we had to do was fill her hold with six hundred tons of glorified clockwork!"
"Hmpfh. You exaggerate, Leroy. Though I do suppose we might have done better to fill the hold with oxen pulling capstans... But then, the hold would be full of ox-shit."
"These impellers are already ox-shit! Look at this, this... gold-plated nonsense! I wager you could feed a district for a year with what these sorcerors' follies cost!"
Berthier shook his head, chuckling. "And now you underestimate, my friend. Calm yourself, and look on the starlit side... there is nothing quite like her in the world, save only her sisters. And with her broadside, her flanks, and ninety good horses' worth of strength to drive her against current and wind... I think the Army of the Waters had reason, when they named her Sovereign of the Lakes."
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-05-13 02:01pm
Fragmwent 10 - The war on hunger
Queen Igrabolla’s court moved north,
Towards the summer pasture ground
Trade and tribute trickled in
News and rumours swirled around.
Crone Hyer was a rarity.
A hyenork old and past her prime
Her skin was thin and stretched by lumps
Fur withered by the war of time.
“Tributes come,” she tells the queen,
“More troops arrive from every tribe.
More paws to hunt, more teeth to feed
But gifts of beasts to eat and ride
Decline a little, and troops are thin
We eat more meat than summer gifts
By autumn nights the wars will start.
The dead will lie like snow in drifts
Three heads of four will starve or bleed
Or rise again as Wendigos
The Howling Night returns again
Peace makes mouths and then peace goes.
We have fought from start of song
And when they fled we fought ourselves
Till Igrabollo grew so strong
And gave us peace like blasted elves.
A hard rain will fall and flesh hang loose
Unless we tear ourselves apart
In civil war, or strike outwards
If that is so, than we must start.
Queen Igrabollo cuffed her friend
“We’ll steal more time from death this year,
The Red Horns move west, I’ll chase them out
My other paw I’ll southwards spear.
Risk the heat and hold the land
Bleed our tribes to feed them flesh
And if we hold, than we expand
Taking when the snow is fresh.
My trader returned with heavy cannon,
I’ll send him back with ivory.
A contract for whaler meat
And an idea, well, we’ll see.
Those Orion handy dandy bang sticks
And a hand of dozens true
Hyenorks, free and moving fast
Will the Creeklands again subdue.
Actions - the cannon are received. The Hyenork empire is on the edge of starvation (again) and has to massively increase land or decrease population very quickly to prevent complete ecological collapse. The Queen plans to 'encourage' migration west and southwards with further trade and transport with Orion hoped for.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-06-01 05:40pm
Imperial Academy Archives, Hephaestus, Empire of Orion,
45th Day of Winter, 2955 AEF (mid-February, Game Year 1)
In one of the uppermost offices of the Archives, Master Mnemomancer William Aberforth was brooding. Ever since the meeting with the other Masters weeks ago where he had explained his shocking discovery he had been sullen and withdrawn. Others had taken note of his change in behaviour; he no longer smiled and greeted others he passed in the corridor, he rarely left his office and many would swear his hair had greyed and his face had grown lined with worry and concern.
Some of the staff wondered just what sort of discovery a historian could make that would cause such changes. Those who knew about it were more understanding even if they did not share his agonizing over the decisions they had collectively made.
He was faced with a dilemma. Based on the records he had found (which had since been verified by other Masters), Emperor Philip V was a mere pretender to the crown; his distant cousin Charles should by rights sit on the throne. Charles’ grandfather had been exiled, but with no formal declaration of disinheritance he had not been stripped of his place in the line of succession.
Many of the other Masters did not see this as a dilemma in the slightest. As far as they were concerned, the emperor’s word was the highest law of the land, and if the emperor had exiled and disinherited Prince David then that was the case, written decree or not.
Most troublingly, there was precedent to support that view. Over the last three millennia no less than five cases had been heard by the Imperial Courts of heirs to disgraced dukes or counts seeking to claim their parent’s land and titles in the absence of a formal document forbidding it. In every case, since it had been the emperor or empress who had disgraced and expelled those dukes and counts, the courts had ruled against the heirs having a legitimate claim.
William’s problem was that this precedent applied only to the nobility, not to the Imperial House itself. Moreover, since they could not ask the emperor at the time to rule on the decision and the current emperor would have a vested interested in the outcome, William was increasingly convinced that the precedent could not be used here. When the matter was as serious as this, they had to follow the letter of the law precisely.
As far as the law was concerned, the exiled Prince David should have ascended to the Throne of Reason upon the death of his father, and hence his grandson Charles should now be Emperor Charles IX. The other Masters despised this idea, especially since the prince had made his home in Ohio of all places, married into the nobility there and done very well for himself. Charles was now the Duke of Terreglaize in his own right and a senior commander in the Ohioan army. The idea of an Ohioan duke being the rightful emperor was abhorrent
If Charles pressed his claim, as he legally could, there were enough Orions who respected the law more than the current emperor who would side with him, especially the large minority that supported closer ties with the strange nation. But the majority would oppose such an idea, so no matter which way the claim was resolved tensions would be at record levels; possibly even spilling into outright civil war on a scale not seen since the Second Interregnum began in 1023 AEF.
William had managed to convince himself that Charles was at the very least a legitimate contender to the throne. What to do about the situation was what occupied his brooding today. He had been expressly forbidden from informing the emperor of the situation until the Equinox at the earliest, and perhaps not even then. But, he thought to himself, no one had said he could not inform Charles of the situation.
Had he been a bit less focused on the problem he would have realised that his Oath of Office was giving no objection to this line of thinking. That more than anything would have convinced him he was on the right course. The Oath was a set of mental commands and restrictions implanted in his mind by an Interromancer years ago, that would compel him to keep secrets and to avoid seditious or treasonous acts. Of course, the Oath was based purely on the letter of the law, so it had no way of dealing with this complicated situation.
William decided. He would journey to Ohio and find the duke. The truth must be told.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-06-01 05:42pm
Excerpt from “A Complete History of the Empire of Orion” by Master William Arnoth, published 2947 AEF
The founding of the Empire, a series of events now nearly three millennia old, is impossible to fully explain without also describing the sword Excalibur and the pivotal role it would have in the process. Before the Empire was forged by William of Hephaestus, the region was divided into many smaller Kingdoms. Of these, five were particularly large and powerful, and each held several smaller states as vassals. These five Kingdoms (Hephaestus, Rigel, Bellatrix, Saiph and Fenris) were known as the Pentarchy and collectively held sway over much of the North-East of the continent, including numerous territories beyond what is now called the Empire.
The Pentarchy existed for a period of approximately five hundred years though periodically one of the Kingdoms would gain a new ruler that was determined to make himself the sole ruler of the region. This was hardly a new idea even when attempted by King Davios of Bellatrix in 385 BEF. Archaeological evidence and local legends suggest there was a great civilization that existed in the area as early as 10,000 BEF but had been destroyed in a great cataclysm in 4,832 BEF. Some scholars have suggested this cataclysm, which destroyed the civilization is as little as a few days, is somehow connected to the emergence of so-called magical abilities in humans.
Whenever one of the Five Kings attempted to gain dominance over the others, they were inevitably stopped from doing so by the Circle of the Pentagram. This body comprised the five most powerful Mages, one from each Kingdom and can be considered a magical analog to the Pentarchy. The Circle would routinely judge the Five Kings to see which of them was the most worthy and had not yet found one worthy enough to rule the whole land. For a better account of what happened when one of the Kings challenged this judgement with force of arms, see “The Crusade and Defeat of King Uther of Fenris” by Master Horace Grimnoth.
While many legends persist about what form this judgement took, the records kept by the Circle show it was something very curious indeed. Collectively, the five Mages arranged for the forging of a particularly impressive sword, made from the purest iron available taken from, in their words “the star fallen from the Heavens.” Modern readers would recognize this description as being iron from a large meteorite which at the time represented both the rarest and the purest source of iron for weapons.
This sword was then enchanted in various, unknown ways by the Five Mages before being finally inserted into a large stone. The sword was apparently imbued with a unique form of Interromancy, as it was able to scour the minds and spirits of those who attempted to pull it from the stone. Only those deemed worthy to rule all of Orion could extract it. The sword was called Excalibur, which in the language of the time meant “He Who Triumphs.”
Finally, in 5 BEF, King William of Hephaestus, who was by all accounts a capable and peaceful ruler with no known interest in ruling anything beyond his own borders was persuaded to try to pull Excalibur from the stone. The Pentarchy was being raided with increasing frequency and ferocity by the Hyenorks to the west and the smaller city-states to the south. Internecine squabbles between the Five Kingdoms and their various vassals prevented an effective response and the Five Kings felt that one supreme ruler was needed to combat this threat. William was felt to be most suited: he was a very capable and beloved ruler but had proved himself a mighty General as well, though he never set out to begin a conflict.
Unknown to William, the other four Kings petitioned the Circle of the Pentagram to allow him to attempt to wield Excalibur. The leader of the Circle, Myrrdin, agreed and William was summoned. According to surviving records he was dumbfounded by the suggestion that he should rule all the Kingdoms but he bowed to their pleas and pulled the sword from the stone.
The remaining Kings knelt and swore fealty to he who wielded Excalibur, as did the Mages of the Circle. William directed the Pentarchy in forming a united front against the Hyenorks and the city-states to the south. The war to the south was quick and decisive; within months they had capitulated and sworn fealty to William and the Kingdom of Hephaestus.
The Hyenorks were driven back and slaughtered wherever they were found, treated as the beasts they are. It is estimated that as many as one in three of the Hyenork population perished during the following five years. They were driven back across the wastelands and the Hudson Bay. It would be nearly a thousand years before they once again approached Orion’s borders.
With the Pentarchy becoming increasingly united behind William’s leadership, serious talks began about integrating the Kingdoms together into a single cohesive body. Unlike previous attempts which were based on individual greed and ambition, these talks were based on a far more positive ideal. Everyone in the realms had seen how powerful the united Kingdoms had been, how much more effective their responses had been. With Excalibur continuing to judge William as being worthy to rule them all, there was little serious opposition.
When the war against the Hyenorks was brought to an end, William and the other Kings signed the Treaty of Hephaestus and the Empire of Orion was born. The other Kings would retain their titles for another five hundred years when the First Interregnum brought about sweeping reforms and the purging of the Mage Caste, but the Empire was born. Primitive perhaps, but still recognizable as the Empire that has prevailed for three thousand years.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-06-06 04:54pm
Fragment 10. The Red Horns Spring camp in the West portion of Nunavuk
From Bralla’s outpost Roh had run,
A marathon that chewed down the miles.
With memory scents and cairns to guide,
She traveled quick, no epic trials.
Her message passed through the Red Horns.
Till she was brought to ‘clan in session’,
And prostrate before the Gouger Duchess,
She reported on their gold struck mission.
“Not five days since you were met,
But news has clearly travelled fast.
Today Igbarollo sent her greetings
And asks we move before spring is past,
“To take the West and fell the forests
For grass for oxen and for yaks,
Take and devour, the land is yours.”
Now why do you think she sent us that?
Nan Grullo sees it as a trap,
And maybe you are lying bait.
Lottis thinks the Queen is weak,
And bribes for allies in her state.
Now weak or not, she still has fangs.
A battle won when bleeding out,
Is victory only for the crows.
One mine means there are more to rout,
And farms to raid and pigs to roast,
With iron knives we’ll pick our teeth!
And when Igbarollo’s taxers call
We’ll send them handless to that thief.
Red Horns blow loud! We westwards move!
Nan Grullo - take a gang with Roh,
And find the truth, take what you can,
The rest of you, Oh Red Horns blow!
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-06-08 06:42pm
(13) The ice spider nest
Magrallo’s quest into the Blight searching for ‘magic gems of cold’.
Location: deep in the Blight, North Saskatchewan.
Deep in the forest, food was thin,
Magrallo and her crew slowing.
They searched each place that Gutvorn knew,
Ruins and rifts with strange things glowing,
Eyes filled the night when they made camp,
Sometime visions trapped them for hours,
The distant howling never stopped,
Snow turned into mud and showers.
Eventually they stumbled on,
A long cocoon of frosty thread,
Gutvorn drew his bow and motioned ‘back’
Prize in reach, Daikee reached instead.
A shadow dropped from out the trees,
Onto her back, out of her reach.
Rosor rushed to tear it off
But staggered backwards with a screech
Her warm and tender palms were gone
Frozen , cracked, all fingers lost.
The spider on her sister’s back,
Bristled with spines, dusted with frost.
Forn had run back to the sled,
The spider tried again to hack,
Through Daikee’s fur into her neck,
‘Till Gutvorn’s bowstring pulled it back.
Magrallo hauled at Daikee’s paws
And they pulled the creature off.
It turned and wheeled, jaws-a-snapping,
To be swamped in Forn’s sled wrap cloth.
Lecturer theater of Osbourne the Reliable*
Orion Imperial University of Magic and Learning
“Humph, well, the Professor of Applied Zoology is off sick again, and I must say I’d expect that man to pay more attention when trying to cross breed unicorns and stags. Yes Bethany?
Oh. Well it wasn’t quite that, female reindeer do have antlers, and I think that perhaps we should start the lesson. Open your textbooks at Chapter Four - Silk producers.
Domesticate silk producers include silk moths, silk wyrms, silk mussels and silk spiders. Of the last, one of the few known hybrid domestics were observed by an Orion ambassador to the Elvish court on the far side of Hudson’s Bay. It was the fashion of the court at that time to imbue simple creatures with a simple magic. The spider silk collected from these spiders carried the same charm of cold and was used to make ceiling drapes to cool a room in summer or coarser wraps to preserve food or chemicals. More recent research expeditions into the abandoned forest have described feral ice spiders swollen to massive proportions still living in the forest depths. Next, the nakedness of Lady Aiai and the famed silk mussells of the Dragon Isles.
The thick sled wrap jerked and chittered
As the spider moved around
But it couldn’t pierce the mammoth felt,
They tugged it under and off the ground.
Margrallo held the twitching bag,
While Forn and Gutvorn tied it tight,
Hands touching in their urgent movements,
Till Forn turned to those hurt in the fight.
Rosor was already being helped,
A brawny male staunching her paws,
She cried with pain but still could walk,
Daikee staggered to all fours.
She shivered and shook, brain sluggish,
Blood thick. She fell again and curled,
Herself tight in her fur, Forn
curled too, keeping her in the world,
Cold but alive. Gutvorn warned Margrallo,
“The Partner might come too,
Best we take eggs and and leave”
They sliced the cocoon’s glue
And dropped it into a bag
Put both on a sled and turned
Northwards, there to hurry back.
The forest leaned, the trees whispered
Faint memories stirred and disturbed snow,
The howling in the distance strengthed
The Blight does not happily let go.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-06-09 06:54pm
Hephaestus, Empire of Orion,
48th Day of Winter, 2955 AEF
(mid-February, Game Year 1)
Aberforth’s second cousin, the fur trader, smiled, setting down his mug and settling back into the chair in his own sitting room, in a place where the archivist felt only a shade out of place.
“How far? As the crow flies, eight hundred miles, maybe eight fifty. Plus or minus a bit for god-bothering surveyors of doubtful literacy. But you’d be dragging yourself face-first through half a continent of mountains if you go that way. Wait for spring, Bill. Take a ship to Toledo and a riverboat from there.”
Aberforth paused, reflecting. He might be a scholar, not a wayfarer, but no one could fail to notice a northern winter. Snow. Lots of it. The river Myrddin, which in spring and summer and fall poured much of the continent’s fresh water out to the Atlantic, was frozen over with ice thick enough to run herds of oxen across. And it would remain so, probably until at least a few weeks after the Equinox.
The mnemomancer had told a plausible story, one that had nothing to do with the politics of the Throne of Reason and maybe-not-disinherited heirs. One that wasn’t technically even a lie- he was thinking about writing a monograph on Ohioan customs if events turned out favorably. Always better to have something to publish than not.
In any event, his cousin looked more than a little confused when Aberforth replied “I’d much rather leave sooner, even if it means longer on the road all together.”
“...What, why the hurry in this weather? Is something wrong? Are you in trouble? Don’t worry, I-”
“No, Jon. I’m fine...” Aberforth tried to smile. “But I’ve been told that the star-worshippers’ spring rites are of some... scholarly interest. Particularly the Spiral Dance of the Teapot- if I can just get to the West in time, I’ll save myself a year of waiting, you see.”
Ah, and now I HAVE told a lie, Aberforth jabbed himself mentally. At least so far as he knew, there was no such thing as the Spiral Dance of the Teapot, he’d just thought of a constellation and a geometric shape at random... but his sudden nightmare of Jon catching the lie did not materialize.
“Welll... there IS enough sleigh traffic that you can probably get most of the way to Ohio if you’re patient and don’t mind freezing your arse off. You might even make it before the Lakes thaw. Might. Are you sure about this...?”
“Well, I know where you can get a good deal on a decent traveling overcoat and some proper galoshes. You’ll need them. I don’t know how you manage with those flimsy excuses for overshoes...”
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-06-18 10:29am
Port Rigel, Empire of Orion
The factor did more than just buy goods for trade in the Six Kingdoms. He also made a bit of extra coin by telling the High King what was happening in Orion. He did not, of course tell the King directly, but rather he wrote a letter that was delivered to the embassy, that then got sent on to the Capital.
His information wasn't urgent, but it was important. Though almost any fool could see what was happening: the Orionians were building their fleet up. Some twenty battleships were under construction, with the first batch due this year.
Capital of Hesse and the Six Kingdoms
The First Sea Lord met with the High King. "The news from Orion is interesting. They've decided to expand their navy, bringing their line of battle to nearly 3 times it's previous size. Such a line of battle would soon match the power of the Six Kingdoms, endangering the sea lanes of communication that the Six Kingdoms depends upon. We cannot let this occur."
The High King mulled over this news. "I agree. We can't let them grow big enough to contest our supremacy of the Ozean. What is your recommendation."
"Unfortunately, there's no good way to cut them down in size. We are reasonably good trading partners with them, and a war would be detrimental. We don't have a good reason to go to war with them either. We could, of course, manufacture one, but a war would also likely be expensive. Potentially less expensive is to merely expand our navy. Adding an additional four squadrons of the line would effectively allow us to maintain supremacy, given our current knowledge of their building plans."
"That'd be another 32 ships of the line. That's quite an expense."
"Wenn Sie Ruhe suchen, bereite den Krieg vor."
"True. Better to dissuade them from fighting than to actually fight. Very well, order your ships."
4 first rate and 28 second rate ships ordered. This year adds two squadrons, or 2 first rate and 14 second rate ships, totalling 16,800 points.
Also, I'm not dead...
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-06-21 06:23am
Niagara Gorge, Principality of Hamilton
87th Day of Winter, 2955 AEF
(mid-March, Game Year 1)
Assured that there would be no swift crossing of Lake Erie until the ice had melted a bit more, and shivering to remember the iceberg that the captain of the Blue Mermaid
had tacked almost to spitting distance of, Aberforth had taken the liberty of pausing his journey on arrival at Dalhousie. And to see a natural wonder whose fame stretched to, and beyond, the city of his birth and life half a thousand miles away.
Travel had toughened him somewhat, and he was well-dressed and well-shod for the wet chill thanks to the generosity of cousin Jonathan. He could afford to take a slow day to buy passage on a boat to the little fishing town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, walk several miles south, and rest for the night, and another day back by similar means.
The road running along the west side of the Niagara Gorge were better than it might have been, given the relative fractiousness of the region. The self-styled Prince of Hamilton maintained the works of his forefathers well. The path was wide enough for two sizeable wagons to pass each other, heavily graveled, and drained competently enough that the gravel didn’t sink into a swamp of gooey earth during the mud season.
The Orion naturally failed to properly appreciate those advantages. Aberforth was used to bridges two thousand years old and still supporting heavy traffic, roads graded to fractional-inch precision, and pavement of hard-wearing granite that bid fair to outlast some of the hills it had been built over.
The oldest documents Aberforth could recall, discussing the history of this region in syllabaries the Empire had abandoned literal ages ago, referred to the Falls. Interestingly, modern and ancient scholars disagreed as to its location. The mnemomancer had been present for a few debates on the question.
Some held that the Falls were a permanent place, and that the disagreement between ancients and moderns had arisen due to gradually better mapping and surveying. Nothing short of a cataclysm could alter the landscape on such a scale, after all, and there had been no event like the end of the mythical Age of Ice and the Fall of Atlantis to bring about such shifts in the land. But then, others, of a more gradualist school, attributed the shift of the maps to the Falls’ own current devouring nearly four miles of the very stone of the lands upstream.
He’d first heard the roar of the Falls, from what the crew of the Blue Mermaid
assured him was fully twenty miles distance. Aberforth found himself inclining toward the latter view. The catastrophists certainly weren’t wrong
, but it was hard to imagine a power like that failing to make its mark upon the Earth. It roared, it surged, it was all or nearly all the power of the Myrddin river he knew from his home, pent up into a watercourse only a tiny fraction of the width. The Myrddin was a broad, open road for boat traffic. Aberforth couldn’t imagine even a lunatic taking a boat up this.
Once in a while Aberforth paused, resting his legs. After about two hours on foot, he had occasion to rise and cross a strip of grass to look out over the Niagara Gorge, a sight which... impressed him.
The Niagara Whirlpool, seen from the opposite side of the river
Frowning, Aberforth fetched a neat collapsible pocket telescope from out of one of the pouches at his belt- his eye lacked some of its discriminating power, these days. Some of the stones of the east bank were... suspiciously regular. And the size of a house, too- not easily thrown about even by the incredible power of the raging river below him.
That kept him thinking until he encountered a cart driver coming the other way, and asked a few questions. The peasant looked up from some barbaric agglomeration of ill-matched foods clapped between two slabs of bread. Scratching his scraggly hair, the foreigner assured Aberforth that those stones were all that remained ruined home of Heno the Thunderer, legendary sorcerer of the Cyclopean Age. Not that the peasant used ‘Cyclopean’ in so many words, but Aberforth’s education was adequate to fill in the gaps.
Not without amusement, Aberforth listened to the superstitious teamster. He discounted the unlikely tale that Heno, his son, and his daughter-in-law the Maid of the Mists had retreated together to a tower in the clouds after the carcass of a great serpent diverted the falls to crush the magician’s palace. But still, someone
had built that, and it had clearly been battered by forces beyond reckoning. And yet the falls were still miles away, upriver to the south around a bend in the raging river- out of sight.
Aberforth quietly revised his confidence in his belief about the mobility of the Falls. He wondered how many of the scholars who’d argued the fixed rigidity of the landscape and the impossibility of such great and yet gradual changes in Nature had bothered to journey weeks away from home to see the Falls and their environs themselves...
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-07-07 10:02pm
Duchy of Ougapah,
Meadows 17, 224
(late May, game year 1)
"... and the Marquis of Belle-Île has declared that in future, the treasury will recognize the gold crown as being worth five silver pounds, rather than five and a half."
"Why would he do that?"
"I believe because he thinks one of his pet merchants has a contract with the devil-worshippers of Mexica for the import gold bullion. The heathens couldn't bewitch us with their chocolate, so they try more conventional means of subversion" Julia shrugged. "I have reason to expect that this plan will fail, but not for some months."
Anna felt her eyes smiling. Couldn't help herself, even if she wanted to; there was something about Julia's cleverness that always amused her. "I take it you have yet another of your lovely strategems?"
"I wouldn't say that, your majesty." The style always sounded trustworthy and friendly coming from the cardinal, even before the Wars of the Slings. Anna didn't know what she, or Ohio, would have done without Julia's ministry. And now Julia nodded slowly. "Just a modest notion. I could send a man down to the mint in the City Palace, turn in, oh... thirty-seven ounces of silver coin, and collect five ounces of gold." Anna tried to do the calculation in her head, and it sounded about right- that was probably the sort of thing Julia kept an abacus in her study for. Or, better yet, had an accountant for.
"Yes, I follow, but what of it?"
"Well, by contrast, in Nihon, the animists' imperial treasury values an ounce of gold at ten ounces of silver, has for a truly long time, and mints their currency accordingly. They will accept in exchange for five ounces of gold coins, fifty ounces of silver ones..." Julia smiled slightly, steepling her fingers. "Or, I imagine, some reasonable multiple of those figures. It would hardly do to pinch pennies, at a time like this."
"But surely the cost of transporting great quantities of precious metal defeats the purpose and makes the exercise unprofitable? The cost of the guards alone..."
"Which is why I'm only doing it now. It should pay, if I use a few tricks I've been keeping up my sleeve." and at that Julia's smile ceased to be faint and became the wicked I'm-about-to-trick-a-rival twist Anna knew from the Wars of the Slings and before. "Taking advantage of the actions of the arbiter... hm... I do believe there should be a word for that."
Anna nodded. "I suppose we could call it 'arbitrage.' "
"A good word, your majesty."
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-07-08 01:41pm
Along the Tokaido Road -- Main Eastern road of the Empire
The rain was falling hard, its impact making a loud prattle on the roof of the small village inn. The bar and sitting area was full of farmers, traders, and local soldiers. An old man who kept bobbing his head carried a tray of sake around, refilling a cup there and a cup here. A group of local ruffians in the back especially kept their cups empty, consuming large amounts of sake with each passing hour. The old bar owner was unhappy with it, but being a lowly peasant could do nothing about them without causing trouble; especially during these recent, dark days.
The old man returned to the counter where a young woman sat with a small keg of sake. “Yumi-chan, fill up these bottles again please,” the old man asked. He set the tray on the counter, and the young woman took each bottle, putting it under the keg and letting more sake run into each. “Those men in the back are being too loud grandfather,” said the young woman. She was wearing a plain yellow kimono with a blue sash, along with a blue ribbon in her long, black sable hair.
“I know dear, I know; but there is little I can do. They are soldiers employed by Dozan, and they protect the village,” replied the old man, knowing that they pillage the village itself more often than protecting it. He took the tray and went back into the crowd. Another loud burst of drunken laughter came from the back.
Yumi sighed and turned back to the window where she had been looking out into the rain. Suddenly the sound of falling rain increased, as the door of the inn opened. Yumi turned and saw a man in a gray kimono, a pair of swords in his sash, a large backpack on his back, and a conical bamboo hat hiding his face standing there. Rain was dripping off his at in rivulets. He raised the edge of his face and a huge smile and a single, friendly eye hit Yumi.
Yumi got up from her seat and went to the doorway, she bowed to the stranger, “Welcome to the Green Leaf Inn, sir,” she said. She looked up and saw that the man had put down his pack and taken off his hat. His hair was long and a bit unkempt, but neatly tied back; his face was smooth and long. He had a proud look in his dark eye. He looked to be about mid 20s. Then Yumi noticed the state of his clothes and the swords tucked into his belt sash. ‘A Ronin!’ she thought to herself. He bent down and set down his hat next to his pack.
“Arigato jo-chan,” the strange man said. He put his things next to the door, then took off his dirty sandals and stepped up into the bar area. “I would like a small table if it’s not too much trouble,” he said, still smiling at Yumi. Yumi simply nodded and led him to one of the only vacant tables, near the loud group of soldiers. The stranger simply whistled and smiled as he sat. “Wow but aren’t you as pretty as a flower.” Yumi blushed furiously, caught unawares, but before she could reply her grandfather appeared.
Yumi’s grandfather stepped forward. “Ah, young man, what may I offer you? And I hope you will be able to pay the bill.” The old man had not missed the state of the young man’s clothes. The young man simply smiled and nodded to the old man.
“Green tea and yes,” the man said. He laid down a copper coin, which the old man hurriedly collected and scurried off to get the young man’s order. Yumi set a cup and tray on the table in front of the ronin and then bowed, and backed away to the center of the room. A few minutes later the old man came back with a small tea pot that had a long stream of steam coming out of it. “Here you are sir,” he said, he pored a little of the green liquid into the cup then set the tea pot on the table. “May I get you anything else?”
, three rice balls please,” said the ronin, he took his cup and drank deeply from it. He sighed as he brought it down. He smiled when he noticed the old man still sitting there with a small grin of his own. The ronin took out two more copper coins and gave them to the old man. The old man bowed and smiled, then left to fetch the food. The ronin began quietly sipping his tea and observing the other customers. Many of the farmers who had been seated left; many were throwing hard looks at either the rowdy soldiers or at himself, most likely because he was a stranger. Yumi just sat and paid close attention to the ronin. She was curious about him. The ronin grinned big when he caught her staring and she turned away blushing.
“Hey! Girl! Why do you stare at a filthy good-for-nothing, when you could have a real man!?” one of the soldiers half-shouted from his seat. He was tall with dark browned skin and a full black beard. He was stood, drunkenly swaying slightly, over to Yumi. The smell of alcohol reeked from his mouth as he bent down and put his face next to Yumi’s.
“Please sir, I was not staring, and please go back to your table,” she said, then bowed. The man turned to the ronin in anger.
“What is it with you filthy ronin?! Trying to steal a meal?! Drinking that filthy green swill they try to pass off as tea?! I should kill you for just being here!” he shouted at the ronin. Several of his fellow samurai friends cheered him on and waved their cups of sake around. Yumi kept her head bowed. The ronin continued to sip his tea as if did not noticing the extremely rude soldier. This seemed to make the soldier even angrier. Yumi’s grandfather came back bearing a tray with three rice balls on it. He began to set the tray down onto the ronin’s table when suddenly the drunken soldier knocked the tray of food to the floor, and the old man along with it.
“What’s this!? Trying to steal food? That’s a crime around here you know? Isn’t that right?” The man asked and turned to his friends.
“Course it is!”
They yelled a series of slurred encouragement. The ronin sipped his tea once more then set his cup down. He looked up at the soldier for the first time. “I would ask why you are acting like the rear end of an ass in front of the young lady, but what’s the point?” he asked in a calm voice.
The soldier’s eyes widened in shock at being so insulted and he shouted at him. “It’s you who are being rude, not showing respect to a real soldier of the Myudo Clan!”
The ronin shook his head.
“You have no honor and are a fool. You should go home and sleep off the alcohol,” said the ronin, who stood and turned his back on the soldier, heading for the exit of the inn. The soldier, enraged, drew his sword. The other customers in the inn shouted and screamed, seeing a fight about to take place; when suddenly the ronin turned.
No one in the inn remembers the ronin having drawn his sword, but within a heartbeat the ronin was standing with arm and sword outstretched. The drunken soldier simply stood there, a blank look on his face. He fell backwards, and when he hit the floor, his head rolled off and blood began to slowly seep from the body, staining the floor.
A hushed silence sat over the inn. He ronin stood erect and swiped his sword, flinging the blood off his sword making it clean once again. Sheathing it he turned to the old man who was holding Yumi. He bowed apologetically to the old man.
“I am sorry for having disturbed your inn sir, but this man caused his own death, I gave him fair warning but he drew his sword first.”
The ronin stood and then walked back to the doorway, picking up one of the fallen rice balls as he did so. He slipped into his sandals and put the backpack on, then set his bamboo hat on his head. Bowing once more to the people, who remained motionless, he turned and stepped back into the rain with a sigh.
Narita Masaki had finally found a nice little inn with a hot little waitress, and what happens? Some buffoon ruins it for him. He sighed again and padded on through the rain. He had another few villages to pass through before he arrived in Nara-Kyo. And he wanted to get there before the end of the week. He had heard that the Red-light district there was the best in the land on weekends! And I guess I should find time to report to Sudara-sama
, he thought.
Nara-Kyo, Capitol of the Empire of Nihon
The city of Nara-Kyo is the largest city in the Empire, spanning along both sides of the Jodo river that fed into the Kodai Bay, which fed further into the larger Tsubame Bay and thence out to the great sea. The roads were of packed earth, carefully maintained by the citizens of the city so that they were were as like stone-cobbled streets. Each street had been laid out into a grid pattern that expanded outwards such that even a complete stranger could, if given directions, find their way throughout it's great size easily enough. The outer reaches of the city were occupied by the lowest of the servants and peasants that worked the fields beyond the city. As one moved closer to the center, the wealth and majesty of the architecture grew -- until one reached the palace district.
A great moat, fifty-paces wide and sided within smooth stone, was cut between the city and the palace district
. The Jodo river filled the moat. Four bridges crossed over this moat, guarded by watchful ashigaru, dressed in colors devoted to the Miyoshi Clan. Each bridge connected to an island, further separated again by other, smaller, fortified islands which surrounded the largest, central island, to which only a single bridge was connected. Here was the ancestral winter palace of the Imperial Family. The various smaller, outlying islands of stone which separated the main palace area from the outer elements of the palace district were filled with homes of the elite nobility and those hereditary servants that served the court. The inner roads and bridges within the palace district were patrolled by groups of samurai, armed with bows, spears, and swords. Messengers were routinely halted, their passes checked before allowed to carry on. Only those bearing written passes from a noble of the Third Rank could walk freely through the palace district, and only when given invitation by a member of the Second Rank, could one enter the inner palace.
The wind was blowing westwards, coolly from the ocean. Sitting in a watch tower above the last bridge that led into the inner palace, eyes closed and enjoying the breeze, sat an unassuming figure. Dressed in the finest silk kimono and wearing the two swords of a samurai, he might have passed for any such guard -- except for the dragon crest that was born on either shoulder of his kimono's mantle. Only members of the Imperial Family were allowed to bear that symbol - upon pain of death.
Minowara Sudara no Kami, as his offical full name and title went, seeped into the wind as it blew past. He felt it brush his exposed face and hands and willed it into his being, feeling the ocean's salt and cleanliness fill him. With controlled breathing he carried the sensation throughout his being. Where it passed his muscles relaxed and felt renewed. With a longer outward breath he released it, and felt his inner being feeling more pure. He opened his eyes and smiled.
The tower door flipped upwards from the floor, revealing one of his attendants, Jozen. The man, also wearing a formal silk kimono, but bearing his own family crest, stepped up the ladder and then dropped to his left knee while placing his right hand forward to the floor, thumb stretched outwards. He bowed as a warrior bowed to his liege lord.
"Minowara-dono, I am sorry to disturb you, but you wished to be told the moment that Misaki-san returned."
Sudara nodded. "It is quite alright, Jozen-san. Thank you for alerting me. Has he returned to the palace district or is he still in the city?"
"He has returned to the palace district," replied Jozen. Both knew that Misaki, however strange his personality might sometimes be, would never appear before Sudara before having cleansed himself, washed, and changed into his proper attire -- though Sudara would have been willing to pay a few dozen koban to see what would happen if the palace district guards ever saw him tramping around in his ronin disguise. They'd go into an apoplectic fit of rage, most likely,
"Excellent," said Sudara, standing up. Jozen immediately backed away and opened the trap door leading below, bowing to Sudara. "Please summon him at the Hour of the Boar. I'll speak to him then."
Sudara left his usual haunt and returned to the beautifully decorated halls of the inner palace. Nobles dressed in the finest silk kimonos that money could buy walked slowly, stylistically through it's halls, moving about on various errands and business. Though the organs of government were located in the city, only the Ministry of the Imperial Household was located here within the inner palace. The current Minister was a cousin to the current Imperial Chancellor, Fujiwara-no-Tadazane of the infamous Fujiwara noble family. Such civil servants that were of the fourth rank or lower, scrupulously moved to the side of the hall and bowed as Sudara passed, their special headdress hats nearly touching the red-lacquered floor. Those of the Third Rank, merely bowed at the waste, showing politeness to the head of the Imperial Guard.
Eventually he reached the East Grand Audience Chamber, where the Emperor usually sat in court during the summer months. The West chamber went unused except for special occasions or ceremonies. Outside it's gold-painted shoji doors, two of Sudara's hatamoto samurai knelt to either side. Each bore only their short swords, a box-quiver of arrows, and a large yumi-bow. Both bowed their heads, right hands pressed forwards, to their master as he approached.
Appearing like a ghoul or kami from the shadows of a nearby pillar, a court noble appeared and neatly dipped his head in respect to Sudara. Sudara however, immediately stopped and bowed formally at the waist.
"You're arrival seems to be quite fortuitous, Lord Commander," said the courtier. "I was about to have a messenger sent for you."
"I have some business to discuss with his Royal Highness," replied Sudara, his eyes narrowing slightly at the Imperial Minister of the Right, Fujiwara-no-Michinaga. Too many of this family possess power in court.
"I am afraid that all appointments have already been made for the day, Lord Commander," replied Michinaga, smiling outwardly. "But perhaps, if it is urgent, I might bring your message before his Royal Highness?"
"I don't wish to burden you with an imposition," replied Sudara, also smiling and speaking just as politely. Manners dictated every word, etiquette every action. Without either, the world would always be in chaos, neh
"Please, Lord Commander, it is never a burden to serve the needs of his Royal Highness -- nor help a friend such as yourself. Yes, I am happy to help a friend."
"Friends mustn't burden one another -- what a terrible friend would do such a thing!? -- thank you, but no. I will simply seek audience with his Royal Highness at a different time," said Sudara, finally reaching the point in the conversation where he could politely refuse and break off the conversation.
"Very well, Lord Commander. Please seek out my attendants in the South Chamber. I'm sure they will have a slot of time open for you to come tomorrow, or perhaps even the day after that."
"You are too kind, Minister Fujiwara-dono," said Sudara. He bowed again, at the waist, and turned on his heels. His men, the guards at the door, bowed again as he left, their faces blank and eyes starring into the void -- seeing everything, but seeing nothing.
Re: Pre-Industrial Fantasy STGOD Story Thread.
Posted: 2016-11-25 10:15am
Up north, as the herds thin and desperation expands, the Wendigo population is growing: