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 Post subject: Renaissance Game Thread
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:37 am 
Exemplar
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Sunday, April 26th, Anno Domini 1478

A crowd of ten thousand were gathered in the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, and the Agnus dei had just begun. In the front of the congregation in a railed in private area, was Lorenzo de Medici, his wife Clarice, and children Lucrezia, Piero, Maddalena and Giovanni. Arriving late, Guliano de Medici was coming in the large doors at the front of the Duomo. There was another man there, Augustinus Venucinni, yabbering on about being posted to some position or another. His family was moderately opposed to the Medici, and as a result, Lorenzo just ignored him.

The chant finished, and the priest elevated the host toward the gathered congregation and the priest, began to chant

“Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti in unitate Spiritus Sancti omnis honor et gloria per omnia saecula saeculorum”

With that, it began. Baroncelli, a somewhat husky man in red, with a goatee, produced a knife, and approached Guliano de Medici. He stabbed the startled Guliano in the chest, knocking him to the floor and allowing a long-haired bearded man dressed in fur-lined black to draw his own knife and lay upon the wounded Guliano eighteen more times. Fransesco de Pazzi stabbed him with such mouth-frothing zeal that one thrust skittered across the already-dead man's ribs and slid into the murderer's own calf.

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The assembled congregation erupted into surprise and alarm, weapons were drawn as men streamed into the Duomo, and allies of the Medici began fighting for their lives. Lorenzo whipped around to see what the commotion was, when Stefano de Bagone, an elderly priest, laid a hand on his shoulder. Lorenzo turned. Doing so, saved his life, as the stiletto intended to stab through his neck and into his heart instead buried itself in his upper jaw and clawed painfully down his jawbone. The elder of the house of Medici, Signore of Florence and roman Propraetor drew his own sword and kicked the priest in the chest, throwing him back to slam into the railing, and retreated. He heard movement behind him, and the sound of another blade leaving its scabbard as another priest, younger and bearing a shaven head and thin beard—Antonio Maffei—drew another sword and came at him.

Thinking quickly, Lorenzo threw off his cloak and wrapped it around his left arm, and used it as a shield. Where was Guliano? He thought to himself as he backed away, and tried to circle back around to his wife and children, but there were already men there. One had Clarice pinned down, the other had drawn a dagger across Piero's throat. It was then that someone came to his rescue. A wolfish looking young man in nice but simply constructed garments, carrying a sword and buckler engaged the priests, another, Venucinni, did the same. This freed Lorenzo to take a few steps forward and drive the narrow point of his blade into the eye-socket of the man who had just killed his son, and drop-kick the other, sending blood and teeth all over the polished floors of the cathedral. Withdrawing his sword—and the bastard's eye—he made the killing blow against the other by driving it into the now-sprawled out man's heart.

“Grieving must wait” Lorenzo told his wife, who had managed to get up, and was now weeping over the lifeless and blood-drained body of little Piero. He pried her off the little boy, and gathered up his children.

“Get to the Sacristy, Nicollo and I will cover you.” with that, he rejoined Machiavelli and Venucinni, who had just fended off simultaneous attacks on his person. As more of their attackers joined in, the two became a wall of steel. A hired thug lunged, and Lorenzo batted the blade aside with his now tattered cape and drove his blade through his stomach, leaving him writhing in agony on the floor. Machiavelli broke another man's face with his buckler, but it was still a fighting retreat toward the safety of the sacristy and its iron doors. They reached them after a few minutes, getting the children and Clarice inside, then Lorenzo—who by this time was suffering the effects of blood loss—and finally, Nicollo Machiavelli and Augustinus, who shut and barred the doors behind them.

...


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At the Palazzo dela Signoria, the Gonfaloniere Cesare Petrucci was sitting down to lunch, when one of his servants came in.

“My Lord, Archibishop Salviati is here with a message from the Pope” Cesare rolled his eyes. He had been dealing with business since dawn and had not eaten, and nothing would interrupt his lunch.

“Put his body guard in the usual room, and have him wait in my antichamber.” he commanded absently, and went back to his meal.

Salviati, in full clerical regalia, was lead into this little reception room, and left to stew for half an hour or so. It dawned on him that he had no idea of the Medici were dead yet, and the full gravity of his situation finally dawned on him as the adrenaline wore off. He blanched pale, and began to sweat. When Petruci came in, he was a wreck.

“How dare you treat an archbiishop and emissary of his Holyness the Pope of Rome in this fashion!” he barked. Petrucci frowned and made a supplicating gesture

“My apologies your eminence, I was tied up with matters of state and completed my duties as quickly as I was able. To what pleasure to we owe the visit of a papal emissary?”

Salviai stammered. He could not for the life of him remember the signal for his guard captain in the other room to summon his body guard to take the Signoria hostage.

“Your eminence?” the gonfaloniere pressed, concerned. Something was wrong. With that, Salviati bolted from the room screaming toward his captain Bracciolini.

“Strike now!”.

Petrucci, who had followed him out reacted without hesitation. He drew his sword and tackled the Archbishop to the floor

“Guards!” he called out, and men guarding the doorway on the opposite side of the room intercepted Braccciolini and forced him against the wall at the points of their halberds. One of the servants ran up the stairs to the top of the tower, and started ringing the great alarm bell that would muster the city militia, and order the gates to the city closed.

When Salviati's contingent of thirty heavily armed mercenaries heard the commotion outside, they tried to get out of their waiting room, only to find that the doors could only be opened from the outside. This was a safety measure for exactly this type of scenario. It took only a few minutes before they noticed the holes in the ceiling through which their death would come. They began to panic, and tried to force the reinforced iron doors to no effect. Ten minutes later, boiling water was poured through the murder holes in the ceiling, and the screaming started.



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In the courtyard outside, Jacobo de Pazzi, the elder of the Pazzi Family came riding into the Plaza in full battle army at the front of an armored column calling “Liberta! Liberta!”... to find no crowds, and the fortified tower barred against entry, and the battlements manned. So manned in fact, that soon all he heard was the malevolent buzz of crossbow bolts, the shouts of guns, and the screaming deaths of this men. He turned, and retreated. However, he did not get far before pikemen, mobilized by the general alarm cornered him, killed his horse, and took him captive.


Outside the city, a mercenary army lead by Montesecco, charged with taking control of the city by surprise entered the cleared area around the city by the southern gate, only to find the gates sealed and the barbicane manned. They were greeted by the loud retort of cannon fire, and the whirring death of bows fired from long range. Not having the numbers to assault the city, let alone lay siege to it, they retreated, but not before the Condotieri Montesecco caught an arrow to the shoulder and was left behind.



Inside the Duomo, the seventy men who had poured inside to murder Medici supporters were being driven back. The defense, organized on the fly by the scion of one of Lorenzo's accountants had formed a loose battle line and had forced them against the south wall. Daggers lashed out, cloaks were used as shields or to blind and distract foes, rapiers brought swift death. The floor ran slick with blood, and the Pazzi's patsies had lost. One by one, they dropped their weapons and yielded. Baroncelli had already been taken prisoner, and lay gagged and hog-tied by the main door, Fransesco had escaped, as had the two priests. Ezio Auditore strode forward, hero of the day and de-facto leader of the defense, and accepted the surrender of the mercenaries.

“I accept your surrender, but do not expect mercy from the Medici” he said, as he walked up to the mercenary commander, a man in middle age and unarmored. He made the sign of the cross in the air in front of him “requiescat in pace” he remarked, before knocking the man unconscious with the hilt of his sword. With that, he walked over to the corpse of Guliano de Medici, and covered it with a cloak taken off a fallen mercenary, then turned to another noble.

“Go get the Medici, he is going to be... very busy”

….............................................................................................................................................

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Lorenzo and his wife stood over the fresh corpses of Guliano and Piero in the Palazzo de Medici as servants took bricks out of the wall in order to pass the bodies through the wall to bring them to the funeral services, as was the tradition in Florence. Clarice was wailing uncontrollably, Lorenzo had his arms around her, and while he only wept stoically, it was obvious that he wept to avoid losing control in his rage. At least obvious to someone like Machiavelli, who stood in the door way. This could not be permitted to go unpunished, but the Romans would demand that the Vengeance of the Medici would follow a certain decorum. The Pazzi had a senator in Rome, and if things were done wrong, that would lead to trouble.

“Signore?” he spoke. No answer “Lorenzo” he said a bit more forcefully. Lorenzo in turn, slowly turned his head

“What?”

“We must act Signore. Otherwise you may lose support.”

“What does it matter?! My son is dead, my brother is dead”

“Yes Signore, use your rage to protect your wife and other children. The populace is on your side, but they are fickle. If you show weakness, albeit understandable, you could lose it, and the actions of the Pazzi could come to be viewed as bold instead of treasonous” Lorenzo sighed in assent.

“Summon the Council of Eight, call an assembly at the Palazzo dela Signoria” Machiavelli by this time, had taken a key from around his neck and opened a strong box.

“That is necessary, yes.”



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Lorenzo stood at a dias in the courtyard of the Palazzo dela Signoria not three hours later, surrounded by six Lictors, their Fasces bearing axes. The Diumvir of Rome stood next to hm, and behind him stood the Council of Eight as well as persons who distinguished themselves in the fight for the Liberty of Florence: Machiavelli, Venucinni, Ezio Auditore, and the Gonfaloniere of Justice, Cesare Petrucci. These men were to be granted an Ovation.

Lorenzo himself wore maroon sandals and a white toga bearing two purple stripes down the sleeve and center, a bronze medallion and iron ring. In his hand, he carried he ivory curule rod with its two outstretched fingers held in the crook of his elbow. Before him stood a throng of twenty thousand people packed into the square like sardines. Some sat on rooftops, leaned precariously out windows sat precariously on ledges.

He cleared his throat, and spoke, projecting his voice loudly so that all might hear.

“Citizens of Florence and Rome, delegates from Venice, ambassadors of all assembled nations! On this day at high mass a vile crime was committed against me, my family, and all of you. The Pazzi, assisted by Archbishop Salviati of Pisa, Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli, the Condotieri Montesecco, Stefano de Bagone, Antonio Maffei, and other vile traitors enumerated on this list” he said, presenting a piece of parchment bearing the names of fifty others who assisted in the planning and execution of the conspiracy “ attemped the most heinous of offenses. They killed my brother and son, and they attempted to supplant your elected officials and cast you all into the clutches of tyranny and oppression! We have interrogated a prisoner, and he has told us a great deal.” He made a come-hither motion with his hand, and several guard brought a bloody and broken Salviati out onto the stage.

“Who were you working for, serpent?” Lorenzo asked him. Loud enough for everyone to hear

“P-p-p Pope Sixtus!” he cried out “The Spanish Anti-Pope?” Lorenzo replied with a leading question

“Y-y-yes” the archbishop stammered out.

The crowd jeered, and threw rotten vegetables at him.

“What should I do with them! What should I do with HIM?”

“KILL THEM!” someone shouted from the back of the seething and angry throng

“What should I do with them!?” Lorenzo asked them again

“KILL THEM!” the entire mass of humanity shouted back.

With that, Lorenzo took one of the axes from a lictor's fasce and in one fluid motion, severed Salviati's head from his neck

A servant brought a bowl of water garnished with rose petals, which Lorenzo used to wash his hands and then dried them on a cloth. A second servant brought him a piece of parchment, a quill dipped in ink, and a board, which he held out and permitted Lorenzo to sign the document. Then he held up the death warrant

“This, my people, is the death warrant for the conspirators. May their deaths be painful, and our justice complete.” The crowd cheered.





The city sprang into action, every Pazzi not married into another family over the age of thirteen was rounded up and brought to the Palazzo dela Signoria, the other conspirators were hunted down. Several were Roman Senators, and these individuals were carted off the Rome for trial, those without such status were subjected to the tender mercies of Florence's city guard. However, it was for the instigator, Fransesco de Pazzi for whom the most severe punishment was reserved. While every other member of his family, as well as his fwllo conspirators hung from the walls of the Palazzo—Baroncelli with his bowels hanging out.

Lorenzo himself stood over Fransesco in his best finery, a cloak festooned with his coat of arms over his shoulders. He lay sprawled out on one of the crenellations of the tower, much of his skin flayed from his flesh, his nose cut off, and a rope tied around his hands, which were behind his back. Lorenzo smiled, and looked down upon him.

“You have been brave, steadfast, and dignified in your agony. I can end your suffering, all you must do is kiss the emblem on my cloak, and your suffering will end. You will feel no more”

Fransesco remained silent, to which Lorenzo replied by kicking him over the edge. When the poor man reached the bottom, the rope went taught, forcing his arms to wrench up and dislocating his shoulders. His screams could be heard well over the din of the sadistically raucous crowd below. Then he was hauled up, and his agonizing wails could once again be made out. By the time he reached the top his will was finally broken, and he kissed the Medici seal.

Lorenzo nodded, and a noose was placed around Fransesco's neck. He was hauled to his feet, and permitted to stare over the edge before a black hood was placed over his head.

“You must end it Fransesco.” Lorenzo cooed. “If you do not, I will have to torture you again, and neither of us want that.” Even though he was hooded, the piteous expression on his face was plainly evident through posture. Still the prospect of more agony was too much. Fransesco stepped off the battlements, and his neck snapped neatly when he reached the end of his rope.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:24 pm 
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Anno Domini 1478
1st of May


The warm light of the spring sun in the Mediterranean rose behind the mountains of Palermo and received greetings from the inhabitants of the bustling city. From Mount Pellegrino, the city began to sparkle and flash like an enormous jewel as the industries began to get to work. Thousands of mirrors and lenses all began to align to capture the fire of the sun, redirecting and focusing it. Smaller, single mirrors were used for such mundane tasks as heating water, while larger and significantly more complex arrays could take the warm sunlight and transform it into searing rays that could fuse sand to glass or even in the most extreme cases boil iron out of the raw ore. For the people of Palermo, and all of the domains under the control of the Kingdom of Sicily, every day was a religious experience to see the glory of God expressed in the power of the sunlight he sent, and then transformed by the minds of men into wealth and goodness. It was bragged that even the beggars in Palermo had glass goblets to collect coins in, although like with most such statements the truth was significantly different.

For King Rogerio, the wealth of his people was expressed with considerably more ostentation. In full regalia he was nearly impossible to look at directly if standing in direct light for his clothes were sewn full of glass beads coated on the back in gold and silver and accentuated with beautifully polished gemstones, turning him into a walking mirror. His crown was no mere band of gold either, but bore an expertly crafted loop of flawless glass that was cleverly suspended so as to appear to float above his head, granting him a halo under the correct conditions. Even his face was impossible to look at in the full light of day, for he bore a fantastical mask that was a mirror on front but allowed him to see through from the other side. While the majority of such regalia was abandoned for his morning alone time, he did wear the mirror mask as he enjoyed breakfast in the Court of Divine Splendours, if only to see.

A triumph of Sicilian art and industry, the Court of Divine Splendours was a tribute to the might of the Kingdom and of God, featuring dozens of tremendous sculptures of glass that captured and refracted even the slightest hint of light into spectacular patterns that were as much art as the statues. During the day, only those wearing mirror masks could dare look upon the glory God draped upon the Court without being blinded.

Basking in the rising heat of the illuminated courtyard, Rogerio looked over the various missives and letters before he noticed one marked with particular importance that had been delivered late last night. Looking over it, he frowned and immediately asked, "While this could have waited for morning, why was I not alerted to the fact that there was an assassination attempt against the Medici immediately upon awakening?"

Duke Tankretti, best described of as a bear of a man with the battle scars to prove his bulk was not for show, picked up the report and looked over it himself before frowning equally. He immediately said, "I do not know sire, there must have been a miscommunication as to its contents."

Rogerio sighed and slid his hand up under his mask to carefully massage his brow. After a moment he said, "Please do Tankretti." Rogerio was young, too young by his own opinion, and some of his vassals had been trying to take advantage of that weakness since his coronation a year past. The most irritating, and dangerous in the long run, aspect was how various members of the staff were being bribed to spy on him and do things to interfere with his ability to know what was going on by interrupting his mail. There had been two arrests last month, and more before that. Rogerio knew that he had to get control of his court, but unfortunately he really needed to get their respect first.

Looking over the report in more detail, Tankretti said, "You know sire, this does present an opportunity."

"I would rather not go to war with the richest banking clan in the world, backed up by the Romans," Rogerio replied.

His mask not extending past his nose, Tankretti's broad smile was clearly visible and he said cheerfully and not seriously, "But a good campaign would most definitely increase your standing with the nobles."

"Just as a bad one would decrease my standing. I get the feeling that is not what you were suggesting though, you old war horse," Rogerio replied.

"This move destablizes the region, especially if this report that Pope Sixtus was involved is correct. The Florentines will be looking for blood, and the Pope will be furious that the plot failed. People will be looking for allies," Tankretti explained.

"You propose we start looking for allies?" Rogerio asked.

"I propose we start looking for powerful men with daughters they would be willing to marry off to secure our support," Tankretti said.

Rogerio considered this for a long moment before he said, "Start looking."

"At once sire," Tankretti replied.

Waving him off, Rogerio said with a smile, "After breakfast you overeager bear."


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 12:07 am 
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"Paulus Pazius," thundered Lucius Orsinius Vaticanus, his voice resonating over the marble walls of the senate house. "You and your clan are condemned by your own hand and actions. I piss on you!"

The already uproarious Senate grew nearly deafening, despite the best efforts of the lictors to control. Sitting on the leftmost curule chair, Julius Pomponius Laetus, the Senior Consul for the year, glowered over the assembled house, making no motion to silence the chaos in the meeting he himself had convoked, his eyes staring daggers at Pazius. Beside him sat Fabrus Colonnus, his junior colleague for the year, face pale as Lucius Orsinius continued to read out the message from the Diumvir of Florentia.

"By sheer chance and the intervention of God," said Lucius Orsinius, "Laurentius Medicius was not slain. The conspirators however did contrive to slay his brother Julianus Medicius, as well as his son Paulus Medicius. The conspirators who were captured implicated not merely the entire Pazius clan, but claimed they acted at the instigation of the Father of Lies himself, the Anti-pope who sits in godless Spain and plots his 'reconquista' of our great city. Their hope was to provide, by force of arms and bloodshed, a government in Florentia amenable to this plan, as well as control of the assets of the Medicius bank that would serve to fund their campaign of conquest."

"These are slanders and lies!" erupted Hieronymous Riarius, one of the few senators who was not presently hurling abuse. "Laurentius Medicius is using this so-called plot to purge his enemies domestically from Florentia. He is violating the Compact, and is clearly attempting to render himself King of Italy, and destroyer of Rome!"

These words were greeted with further derision, but they were said to the young man seated at the center of the front row of Senators, whose toga was no different than any others, save for the gold ring he wore on his finger and the staff he now rested on his knees. He, almost alone among the Senators, was not leering angrily at Pazius and Riarius, but seemed lost in contemplation. It was a mark of the power of Lucius Rienzus, Princeps Senatus, however, that when he raised his hand for the floor, the Senate went silent almost instantly.

"Nicolaus Maclavellus," said the man who was King of Italy in all but name, "step forward."

The young man standing at the side of the room did so, his colorful Florentine garb entirely at odds with the sea of white togas worn within the Senate chamber.

"What proof can you offer us of this conspiracy?" asked Lucius Rienzus.

Maclavellus was, by some distance, the youngest man present, but he did not hesitate an instant. "Princeps Senatus," he said in perfect Latin, brandishing the rolled parchments in his hand, "I have here the signed confessions of the conspirators implicating everyone involved from the accursed Antipope Sixtus on his carrion throne in idolotrous Iberia, to the traitorous Senator Paulus Pazius Hierosolymicus, in an effort to extirpate the House of Medicius, seize control of the city and assets of Florentia, and prepare the way for an invasion of this Empire by forces aligned with the Antipope." He cast the parchments down onto the floor of the senate, grasping the sleeve of his right arm and rolling it up to reveal a deep gash, hastily bandaged, running the length of his forearm. "I bear the wounds of this strife upon my own body, and was commanded to ride to Rome to inform the Senate of these occurrences without even stopping for succor."

"Commanded to lie, more like!" shouted Hieronymous Riarius, leaping to his feet. "This turnip of a Tuscan stripling bears nothing but a stripe he likely suffered at the hands of his homosexual lover, and a gaggle of 'confessions' extracted under torture from Roman citizens flogged, beaten, and scourged by a Roman Propraetor within the boundaries of Italia! What cataclysmic state of affairs has our Empire fallen to when Roman men go in fear of being executed by provincial chieftans for the crime of opposing the monopoly of a non-Roman turd like Lorenzo Medici?! Where is your proof?!"

"Proof!" thundered the young man in the center of the floor, loud enough to drown out the echoes of Riarius and stun the Senate to silence, his face flashing red as Jupiter's as he roared his counter-challenge. "You demand proof of the murder of my patron's brother and child? You dare demand proof of a Roman Pro-Praetor when he sends word that he has executed the lawful duties entrusted to him by this body? Very well then, have your proof!"

With a glance to Rienzus, who simply nodded, Maclavellus gestured back to the lictors, half a dozen of whom promptly entered bearing a bier covered in a white sheet. The bier was set upon the dias, and Maclavellus pulled off the sheet, revealing a bloodied, mutilated corpse, still clutching a dagger wedged into its abdomen. Ripples of shock rolled through the assembled Senators as faces lit with recognition, for the body was that of Julianus Medicius, who not a month before had sat within this very hall, as was his right, as a Senator of Rome.

"My patron's brother," said Maclavellus, "murdered not one day ago by the creatures of the Pazius family and their adherents. The murderer's knife still lodged in his hands, bearing the crest of the Pazius house." He turned back to face the Senate. "Tell me, Hieronymous Riarius," he said through teeth clenched in anger. "Did my Patron murder his own brother with a blade stolen from your associate's house, mutilate his body with fury and hate, wound me, and then send me riding hell for leather to Rome to report all of these things as lies? Did he sacrifice his own firstborn child, who lies in state this very hour in the Palace of the Medicii, as sacrifice to his hate for your associate? Is the judgment of Rome so broken, the wisdom of her statesmen so corrupt, that they consented all this time to heap honors and titles upon a man so depraved as to slaughter his own family in the hopes of manufacturing a conspiracy to implicate such vermin as the Pazii? What manner of monster do you accuse Laurentius Medicius of being, Hieronymous Riarius? For either he is the most evil man to draw breath upon this earth, or the Pazii have committed the foulest act of murder ever to stain the good name of my city of Florentia!"

Silence fell over the Senate, not one man, not the Consuls, not the Praetors, not the King of Rome himself, venturing a word. Hieronymous Riarius looked like he'd just been struck across the face, his mouth working without sound emerging. But before he could untangle his own vocal chords, a man in the front row caught the eye of Lucius Rienzus, exchanged words with him without speaking, and leaped to his feet.

"Conscript Fathers," said Ferdinandus Trastamartus in his booming voice, who in his home city was called the Lord of Naples, and here the Praetorian Legate of the same. A man who was no stranger to conspiracy and intrigue, he had seen all he needed to see.

"Conscript Fathers," repeated Ferdinandus Trastamartus, "I move a vote of thanks to Nicolaus Maclavellus, for his bravery and fortitude in bringing news of these shocking events in Florentia. I further move that the House of Pazii be charged in common with the crime of Maiestas Maior, and rendered to the officials of Florentia for judgment, per the terms of the Compact."

"I shall do one better than that," said Lucius Rienzus," rising in turn to his feet. "I move for the Senatus Consultum de Res Publica Defendata."

Normally, shock would have come from such a motion, even from the King of Rome. In these circumstances, nobody spoke.

"I move that this house declare summary judgment upon the House of Pazii. That they be declared traitors to the Roman state, and banished forthwith from Rome. In one Nundius' time, let them be denied fire and water in all lands within eight hundred miles of the City, and let any man who encounters them yield them for judgment before the courts of Florentia. Such is the motion of Lucius Rienzus Tribunus Maximus." The young man who took pains, as had his father and grandfather, to call himself anything but King of Rome, turned to look Paulus Pazius in the eye with a cold stare as he pronounced his final words.

"I will see a division of the House."

There were occasions when a division of the House on a motion proposed by the Princeps was opposed, sometimes by a few Senators, sometimes by many. But every senator who wished to remain on the rolls soon learned the difference between a motion proposed for the purposes of sounding opinion, and one proposed for the purposes of making a statement. Not one Senator mistook this case for the former.

"The motion passes," said Julius Pomponius Laetus. "Long live Rome."

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Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:46 pm 
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The smoke of a hundred braziers filtered through the latticework of the walls of the main court of Izmit, the Capitol of the Ottoman Empire. At least for now. The council of Pasha were present with the Sultan, speaking in whispers, as though concerned even this far into their sanctum that word of their plans might spread. Mehmet II, starting to look his age and gain in pounds, but still as fiery and elusive as ever, sat among the pillows with his chief advisors. Maps were spread out as they argued and pointed.

"They say there is chaos in Italy," a man, even older then Mehmet and with a Greek look to him, despite his Turkish clothes spoke.

"Already controlled, Zaganos." Another spoke. This one was younger, and clearly Turkish in descent. "The Medici's have already handled the situation. A shame. That would have been a grand chance for us."

"We can use it regardless." Mehmet spoke and the others quieted. "Send out envoys to the Catholics."

"And the Romans?" The Turk asked.

Mehmet laughed. "Tell them a lie. Half of them will see it for what it is, the other half will see it as an opportunity to gain in power themselves. They will argue for weeks over it."

Zaganos grew more serious. "And the Campaign?"

Mehmet pointed to a spot on the map, very near to Constantinople. Across the strait was the immense fortress known as the Anadoluhisari to the Europeans. The Turks called it another name, the Bogaz Kesen, "The Throat Cutter".

The Ottomans would raise the Horsehair banner that they had used for centuries as a symbol of the beginning of a military campaign. If it was raised at the Dardenelles, it meant there would be an Asian Campaign was planned. To raise the banner at the Bosphorus meant a European Campaign. And from Constantinople, the Romans would be certain to see the banner raised high.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:17 am 
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My Dear Friend and Patron,

I am writing to you regarding two things. The first, is once again to offer my sincerest condolences regarding the deaths of Guliano and Piero. I regret that it was necessary to bring Guliano's body with me to Rome, but in the end, he managed to secure what I could not do alone. The Pazzi have been banished from Rome, and their entire family given over to us for Justice. I think he would have approved of the look on Paulo's face. The Romans are performing funeral rites (Ludovico Sforza is giving the speech) before transporting his body back to Florence for burial. Ever since you took me into your house upon the death of my own parents, I have always felt Piero was my charge, and I regret that my reaction was not fast enough to save him. For that, you have my humblest and most sincere apologies.

The second thing I wish to inform you of is that I have been asked to be a part of a delegation to Sicily. King Rogerio the fifth sent a carrier pigeon to Rome, he is looking to wed, and Caterina Sforza has just reached the proper age. Such a match would be in the best interests of Rome, Florence, and Sicily. Moreover, I think that said match would be one made in... well... wherever such matches are made. To put this in perspective, she refused to be married without meeting her potential husband before the wedding day, and no one wanted to incur her wrath (it is rumored that the last person who did came down with the plague after receiving a letter from her, and there was no outbreak in the town of Forli at the time) . As a result, she will be accompanying the delegation.

While I am too young to be the ambassador without insulting the Sicilians, I am to be a page and adviser to the ambassador proper, Ferdinand of Naples. I shall endeavor to serve the interests of Rome and Your Person to the best of my ability, and pray that the trust in me has not been misplaced.

Signed this Sixth Day of May, Anno Domini 1478

Niccolo Machiavelli


....

May 7th, 1478

Aboard ship, one of the many duties of a page was to make sure all of the dignitaries' needs were met, for Nicollo, this meant attending to Caterina Sforza, and making sure that she was both happy, and properly prepared for diplomatic protocol. For Nicollo's part, he liked her. She was charming, intelligent, attractive, and there really was just something dangerous about her. The way she moved, or looked at someone as if she was figuring out with what to garnish their head were it placed on a platter. But this...

He had knocked on her door.

"Come in" she replied in a melodious voice. He opened the door to her cabin aboard the Galleon Aquae Sextiae, and he walked in. Only to find her trying to put on a suit of mirror polished milanese plate armor made especially for her. It managed to be beautiful, perfectly fitted to her form and elegantly constructed. His jaw dropped.

"Would you help me put this on, my maidservant has no skill at this?" she asked, which forced him out of his revelry. He assisted her with the straps, putting on the backplate, and helping her with the pauldrons.

"My lady, pardon my forwardness, but you are not planning on wearing this when introduced to King Rogerio are you?" he asked

"Of course not" she replied "But the harness was completed just before I left Milan, and I did not have a chance to check if its fit"

"Ah. Well, we are soon to reach Sicily, it might be best my lady, if you put on something less metallic" she smiled warmly in response before replying. It was a good smile, from the eyes. The sort that signaled to Nicollo that she was appreciatively amused, instead of disgruntled at his suggestion. Yes. Definitely the good kind of smile.

"Of course. I would like to make a good impression, not a strange one. If you would assist me?"

He assisted her in getting down to the arming jack, before he bowed out and sent in the servants to assist her with her proper finery. Thirty minutes later, she was resplendent in her best dress, festooned in purple and brilliantly crafted but tasteful jewels.

Image

Then, she sent out her servants, leaving Machiavelli alone with the single most deadly fifteen year old in all of Italy. Well, alone if you dont consider the single maidservant sitting in the corner with a dagger to defend her honor if he decided to do something unchivalrous.

"Nicollo, could you do me a favor?" she asked

"Yes, my lady?"

"Could you suggest a place to hide this, where it wont be found?" she pulled a little glass vial full of liquid out of a drawer. Machiavelli reacted by eyeing her very suspiciously.

"What is in that vial?"

"Cantarella". His jaw dropped, and he stuttered a little before he was able to compose himself

"Forgive me my lady, but I must ask, are you planning on using that? I feel that I have a duty to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible."

"I do not know if the King of Sicily will accept my proposal, I do know however that there are many who would work against it. I may have to defend myself from them. If he does accept it, I may have to defend my husband." he considered a moment, and nodded.

"That is perfectly fair. You are inexperienced with poisons?"

"I regret to say, yes. Or at least, I need to cultivate a better knowledge of their variety."

"Alright, well, I would recommend against the use of Cantarella. The death is very quick, and often, anyone serving or preparing the drinks will be arrested and tortured to find out who hired them, which means they may implicate you. Cantarella is only something you use when you are not in a position to be punished, when you want to send a message. Poisoning someone who is a guest in your own manner who has vocally opposed you, for example. For a foreign court, you need to reduce the number of people you must trust, and you need something with a delay, so you cannot be linked to the application of the toxin. Try this."

He opened up his purse and pulled out a small case. Opening the case, he revealed a ring, which had on it a tiny jewel.

"The jewel's mounting can be removed, revealing a small needle. Pressure on the needle from say, pricking someone with it, injects the venom of an asp. The venom takes time to do its work, and should leave no marks on the victim. Consider it a wedding gift"

She put the ring on, and thanked him.

Soon afterward, the ship docked, and the entire delegation including Caterina, Machiavelli, her uncle Ludovico Sforza, and a host of finely dressed servants and an honor guard of roman Halberdiers in ceremonial armor exited the ship to be greeted by their opposing Sicilian delegation.

...

Rhodes City, Island of Rhodes, Fortress City of the Knights Hospitalier

It was twilight, and a homing pigeon came to rest in a coop atop the 46 meter tall crenelated bastion of defiance that was Naillac's Tower. A servant came to feed the pigeons and found the little bird and the message tied to its leg. He opened it, reading the message and them promptly dropped the bowl of seed he was to feed the birds. Not caring, the abominably fast and hardy rats with wings descended upon the spilled grain in a fluttering mass of cooing feathers, even as the young man bolted down the many many steps of the tower toward Sir Pierre d'Aubusson's living quarters. He knocked on the door

"Enter" said the man who never seemed to take off his armor, even when he slept. Though he did bathe regularly, so he must have taken it off then, or it would rust.

Petra, the servant, opened the door and timidly walked in

"My Lord, I have a message from Constaninopolis, the horsehair has risen, the target is europe, no other information is forthcoming"

"Send out the pigeons, I will raise the rhodes alarm myself" the older man replied. He was fifty five years old, battle scarred, and showed not an ounce of fear. The poor young man ran back up the steps, stopping in an antichamber for parchment and quill and to write a great many notes, and went back to the coop. There he fastened them with cords of leather to the feet of birds he knew would fly to Morea, Corfu, and Cyprus, then threw each one into the air. Their wings beat, and they were on their way.

Soon after that a bell began to sound, giving the warning to the fortress-city of rhodes that the feudal soldiers and militia would be required to muster upon short notice for the duration of the season.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:08 pm 
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7 May, 1478

"The Romans sure worked fast, didn't they Tankretti?" Rogerio noted as the ship bearing the ambassadorial delegation began to dock.

"If Pope Sixtus did have a hand in the affairs of Florence then we can't really blame them for being jumpy. Such direct action could herald a resumption of open hostilities between the Popes, not just the war of words they have been fighting for the past few decades," Tankretti noted.

"Have we received reply from the Pope yet?" Rogerio asked.

"Not that I am aware of yet, sire," Tankretti noted. Along with the announcement that the king was seeking a bride, there had also been two messenger pigeons sent out. One was to Florence to offer sincere condolences to Lorenzo Medici for the loss of his brother and son and a sound condemnation of the Pazzi conspirators, without actually offering any commitments or the like. The second pigeon had been to Peniscola to let Pope Sixtus know that the Sicilians found the allegations against him by the Romans and Florentines baseless propaganda, for His Holiness would never stoop so low as assassination.

"Do you think Sixtus really gave approval?" Rogerio mused.

"Quite probably, I do not see it being outside something he might do," Tankretti replied.

"Ugh... I have read the memoirs of my forefathers, and the last time we switched popes was rough enough and I don't enjoy even the possibility of having to do it again. If only the damn Romans hadn't decided to conquer all of Italy we could have stuck with St. Peter's church instead of having to find a counterweight to the aggressive bastards," Rogerio complained bitterly.

"Such is the life of kings," Tankretti replied with a shrug before he nodded to the gangplanks being lowered by the Roman ships to the dock.

Waiting there immediately was Count Iskander Nemo, a man whose name was sure to amuse and/or bemuse the Romans. One of the first African families from Tunis to assimilate into Sicilian culture, the Nemos or "Nobodies" were one of the most fiercely loyal families to the crown, because they knew what their African cousins would do to them if Sicily ever left Tunisia. Iskander, who made the outlandish claim of being descended from Alexander the Great through Alexandria, although which Alexandria tended to be left rather undefined, was the latest Nemo to take up the mantle of Count of the Tyrrhenian, a title with no lands but immense responsibility and prestige. Seeing as how his ships had escorted the Romans in, it was only fitting that he be the first to greet them.

As the dark skinned man gave his greetings, Rogerio let his servants and Tankretti check him over one last time. Clad in fine silks embroidered with gold backed glass beads and polished gemstones, a great cape with similar embellishments, his haloed crown, and an angellically sculpted full mirror mask that left only his lips exposed, he knew that to many his robes of office were considered gaudy, hubristic, or even blasphemous, but to Rogerio they were utterly necessary and an expression of faith.

Taking a last sip of sun purified and air chilled water provided to him by a servant and letting another give him a last spray of perfume, Rogerio stepped out of the shade of his carriage and into the sunlight. Right on cue, the light intensified immensely as two mirrors swivelled to illuminate him from all angles, making every gem and sequin blaze like the sun itself. To outsiders, this was meant to overawe them with the wealth and power of the Sicilian people. For Rogerio, and all of the kings before him, this was an act of endurance and humility because it was bloodi hot and felt like the eye of God was upon him, judging him and his actions.

Walking down an aisle of honour guard clad in gleaming white Milanese plate, their two handed swords held high with Tankretti following a pace behind, Rogerio could see the Roman delegation trying to maintain gravitas while squinting and could only smile in faint amusement. They had never seen mirrors melt ore to pure iron before. He was however quite impressed with the woman in attendance who would have to be Catarina Sforza. She looked quite the firebrand, which would probably make negotiations interesting, to say the least.

Reaching the end of the rows of honour guard, Rogerio swept his arms out broadly and announced in the projecting voice he had been practicing since he was a child, "By the Grace of God Who is Greatest of All and provides us with All Good Things in life, I welcome you in the spirit of brotherhood to Fairest Sicily. As king I grant you embassy and the protection of Sons of the Crown, who are to treat you as they do all members of the Family."

At that, behind him the swordsmen all fluidly sheathed their swords upon their backs in a gesture of welcome.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:35 pm 
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May 8, 1478

The arrival of such a large and eminent Roman delegation to Sicily could not go quietly, and no serious attempt to hide it had been taken even from agents on the docks. Contacts in the court had already confirmed the purpose and identities of the delegation to the Imperial ambassador even before their arrival. Many courtiers were automatically wary of the Roman state across the narrow straits of Messinia, while others had more venal motives. Ridder Jan van Hoensbroek was thus mulling over a reaction to the situation in the drawing room of his palazzo as a servant approached.

“My lord,” the Sicilian began, “I have been by the residence of the Aragonese ambassador and have delivered your invitation. I regret the ambassador was away but his major-domo assured me that a response would be sent as soon as he was back in contact with his lord.”

Van Hoensbroek nodded, containing his annoyance. “Thank you, Ferdinando. I will have another errand for you in the city.”

The page bowed. “As my lord wishes.”

Thankfully the proposed bride the Romans had sent was a wild and not entirely reputable girl. The accusations of poisoning were gold, he realized, playing in to the fears of some members of the Sicilian court about Roman intentions. It would be trivial to fan those fears with a few anonymous pamphlets stressing the murder accusations, and playing up the Sforza reputation for lack of scruples. The printer he had in mind could even attach certain... illustrations of a disreputable nature. If he could turn Caterina into a slattern and murderess in public opinion, the court would openly revolt against a marriage tie and end this Roman initiative before it bore fruit.

But he had another weapon, one whose use he was strongly considering. Even if Sforza was not a poisoner, though there were certainly strong grounds for suspicion she was, she was just another daughter from a squalid condottieri family. She was no true noble, only a jumped-up so-called Roman Senator's daughter, and the Italians proliferated titles like they did bastards. She was not an even match for a King; if the Sicilians had more sense of propriety they would realize what a mortal offense the Romans had offered them. Which, he reflected, was probably grounds for another type of pamphlet altogether.

Still, the Sicilians were usually less concerned about the bride being ebenbürtig. They might even be intrigued by the woman's independence and spirit. And to be fair, those were attractive qualities. In a courtesan, anyway. So he had to present an alternative, and fortunately enough there was one on hand. His master's father, the Emperor Frederick, still had an unmarried daughter. The child of an Emperor, of royal birth, and only a couple of years left to her before marriageable age. His own master Maximilian had remarked on her intelligence and education, but her participation in the hunt was a minor foible compared to the wildness of the Sforza girl.

He stood up from the plush divan, rising up slowly to his full height of over six feet. That stature made him stand out among the Sicilians almost as much as his blond hair. So he motioned Ferdinando over, and handed the young man a parchment sheet to place in his leather purse. “This commission is to go to Signor Ciancimo, the printer in the Brancaccio district. The ah... tradesmen district. He is located by a tavern called the Moor's Head or the Moor's Arms or something il Moro, anyway. Can you locate it?”

Ferdinando looked momentarily uncertain, but then nodded. “I will find this printer, my lord. I have not been much in the Brancaccio before, but the tavern owners will know where to locate him.”

“Right.” Van Hoensbroek shook his head. “Take Tommaso with you. Emilio too, once he's done in the kitchen. And bring swords. The area can be a bit rough, but three armed men should be more trouble than even most unruly apprentices want to tangle with.”

“Yes, my lord. I would not have gone unarmed in any case,” Ferdinando replied. “Will there be anything else my lord needs done while I am delivering the letter?”

The ambassador flexed the fingers on his right hand. “Bring me some parchment and ink first. I have a letter I need to write. And I fear I will have to call on you to deliver it soon. But the Palazzo dei Normanni should be a much more pleasant destination, at least.”

“Right away, my lord,” Ferdinando replied, his face brighter. He left quickly to fetch the writing implements, leaving van Hoensbroek alone again. The Fleming settled back into the divan, and drew a table closer to write on. He would encourage King Roggerio to make his suit to His Imperial Majesty, the Roman Emperor, with all due stress on that worthy's titles and prestige. And the fact that Vienna was far from the straits, but much nearer to Rome. It would take a couple of drafts, but he hoped to have it ready by the time his servant returned from the Brancaccio.

And with any luck the Aragonese ambassador would be of a similar mind to the marriage and willing to cooperate. Pooling their resources would make it so much easier to abort this misalliance. But first, he needed the right words to buy time...


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:54 pm 
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Ludovico Sforza bowed courtly, other members of his retinue doing the same, while Caterina curtsied deeply.

"Thank you Gracious and Most Sovereign King, for your hospitality. May I present to you for consideration in marriage: Caterina Sforza who is in her own right the Lady of Imola, Duchess of Forli, as and natural cousin to Lucius Rienzus, Princeps Senatus of Rome"

The Sforza were one of the oldest and host honorable noble families in all of Italy, the family name tracing back one hundred years, and through their dynastic union with the Visconti, three hundred years. They were in their own right and by their own hand, great lords of the Romagna and Milan, which were rather fittingly also some of the richest and most strategically important provinces. That they offered her hand in marriage was a signal that the Romans were taking the proposal and the implications of an alliance through marriage very seriously.

For Machiavelli's part, he knew this display given by the king for what it was. A test to determine if the Roman delegation and most importantly the Lady Sforza could put forth the proper Gravitas. Thus far, they had not disappointed.

With that, Ludovico motioned Caterina forward, stepping back and to the side slightly with his head and shoulders lowered in a slight bow, to allow her to pass.

"Your highness" she said, her voice like that of an angel sent from God, blushing slightly as she curtsied deeply and forward just enough to be enticing without being improper. "Your reputation for probity and kindness have preceded you, and it makes me glad to see the rumors well founded. I have also heard it rumored that you enjoy riding and fencing. Something we seem to have in common" she said with a genuine smile on her face, and with complete sincerity, even if it was dressed in courtly language.

Rogerio smiled while nodding his head the precise amount befitting of a king and said, "Your reputation for loveliness has preceded you, as has your scholarship. I am certain some of the more intellectual members of my court would care to inquire as to the state of alchemy on the mainland. One of my vassals, the Countess of Malta, is also named Catarina and known for her scholarship, although I do believe she prefers to watch the Duke of Tunisia attempt to ride horses rather than participate herself."

"Given his choice of mounts your Highness, it may be that she is simply discouraged." she replied, skillfully stiffing laughter, though one could see in her eyes that she was amused by the mental image conjured of life in this court. "If she were willing" Caterina continue "I have a very kind and gentle palfrey, in addition to my more aggressive stock who is very pleasant to ride in the country after mass. I would be more than willing to make the introductions"

"A most excellent proposal, one that I shall have to ensure is reciprocated. The Duke does so love to regale me with his theories on how mixing bloodlines ensures the health of the offspring."

"Perhaps if he broke them in first, My Lord" she grinned. "Though his ideas have some merit. I have found that if a pedigree does not branch, it leads to a certain type of madness, though it is of course necessary to breed in such a way as to retain the desired noble qualities. As to the scholars in your court, I would be delighted to entertain questions."

"But of course. I would say actually that the Duke has come down with some form of madness trying to balance between keeping noble lines pure and keeping them healthy and introducing new, desireable traits. I think it is the slowness of his research that has inspired a degree of impatience unbefitting a man of his station. Ah, but enough of that, the porters seem eager to finish unloading. Come, let us be off to the palace where we can discuss in an atmosphere more befitting politics."

"Of course" she responded in answer to both the comment and the suggestion. "That would be most welcomed."

With that, the procession turned toward the palace, walking up the steps to its large sea-ward gates which opened soundlessly, to find an internal palace that was, to put no finer point on, it brilliantly appointed.

The palace was a grand, sprawling affair made from stone taken from all parts of the kingdom, along with only the best of italian marble. Glass windows and mirrors were everywhere bathing the interior in light. Rich tapestries, beautiful paintings and murals, mosiac inlays, and sculptures of bronze, marble, and glass were testament to not only the wealth but artistic skill present in Sicily. All of it was mixed with the imagery of kings and queens, great heroes of antiquity and celebration of the human form, and all of it perfectly proportioned and spaced, almost as if the artists considered geometry to be divine in nature. The palace itself was also immaculate, and scented ever so lightly with fresh flowers and the distilled essences of the same.

What Da Vinci would give to be in this place Machiavelli thought to himself, the others in the procession were also taken aback, but only just visibly. They knew the importance of displaying that they were impressed, but not enough to hamper the decorum and pomp that a marriage proposal warranted. There would be time enough to gaze upon the accomplishments of mankind, and marvel in their creativity and skill.

...

From here, they were shown to their quarters, and informed that there would be an evening banquet once they were settled in. The servants began unpacking, and as soon as this was finished, Machiavelli found a small case amongst his belongings. He knew, as any astute person would, that foreign and domestic rivals would attempt to put forth libel and slander against Caterina, in order to derail the marriage. This would need to be countered. He knew what the objections would be. That she was a trollop, that she was a poisoner from a less than distinguished family, that Italy would hand out noble title to just Anyone.

Trollop? No, Caterina is a virtuous young woman and any such accusations are naught but lies and slander!

Poisoner? There was no poison. Checco Orsi died from the plague. Lots of people died from the plague, which was a punishment from God, and not something that could be transmitted by poison.

As for her family, well, her lineage stretched back three hundred years on one side, and included the Dukes of Pisa, Milan, and much of the Romagna. On the other, she is a cousin of the blood to the Princeps Senatus of Rome, who's family fought off french invasion, unified Italy, and Defended Christendom against the Ottoman Turks. Easily countered.

Whomever would suggest anything contrary was nothing but a godless slandering coward, and such a creature should make their grievances against Caterina, and the Houses of Sforza and Rienzo openly so that they could be challenged and have the veracity of their claims tested by God, and their own skill at arms.

He was pleased with what he had wrought, and fetched one of his trusted servants.

"Micheletto, I need you to go find a reputable printer. Ask around discretely if you must, and pay whatever bribes you need to. Give him this" he handed the young man the scroll case "and this" a pouch of florins sufficient to print and distribute thousands of copies. He also handed the servant another smaller pouch of a different color in order to pay for information and discretion. It was of course understood that so long as the job was done properly, anything left over was his... but the price for underusing the money would be his skin. "And make sure you instruct him to hold publication until the first slander comes out, and print the appropriate version, we would not want egg on our face, even though the publication is anonymous. See to it personally."

"Yes sir" the servant replied, before ducking out the door.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:12 pm 
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Across the Empire of Osman, the Empire was preparing for war with the alarming speed that the Empire always went to war. Spahi collected their bows and their followers. The powerful Orban Cannons were brought out of mothballs in the twons where they had been stored. The great beast of the Ottoman Empire was waking, and it was pointed West. Ships under guard were already busy ferrying troops to Thessalonika, the staging grounds for most European campaigns.

Meanwhile, ships were sent out. One traveled the Black Sea, to speak to the Empire of Trebzond. A group of ships left under a rather heavy guard from Izmit, heading to many ports in the West. Sicily had the largest contingent. A daughter of Mehmet, eligible, beautiful, well read and fluent in several languages was on her way to see if she could convince the Sicilians to pay attention to the Ottoman suite. A bevvy of guards and translators and diplomats were being sent as well to deal with the other nations that would no doubt be trying to win the hand of the Sicilian King.

Another ship was bound for Rome. For purposes uncertain. Though the appearance of the Horsehair flag in Bogaz Kesen would make things interesting indeed. Another set sail for Occitania, for reasons mostly unknown. Though Southern France's neutrality on the matter of Popes would be a more common guess among those not in the know. Finally, another set sail for Spain. Again, likely for papist reasons again.

Other diplomats were being sent out by land. One to the serbs, another making the long land trip to Cairo. Word of alliance was in the air.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 5:57 pm 
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Aquitaine, Occitania

King of Occitania, Archduke of Aquitaine, Rightful Overlord of France, King Artus I by the will of God, envied his son. It wasn't that Prince Durant was doing anything special, the boy was right now with his tutors, likely going over math, having done his arms training in the morning. It was a necessary thing honestly, for all their courtly airs and pious announcements, the true religion of many a Occitan Nobleman was tax fraud. Not that they got away with much. Having the Gutter Normans right to the north did wonders for keeping the concentration of the Occitania's Kings focused. Speaking of concentration...

"The health of the Northern King Henry continues to fail, your majesty. Given that, it may be time to renew the exchange of ambassadors to Scottland and Ireland." Droned an adviser. To be fair to the man he was right, Artus reminded himself of that. He had to be fair to his people. Even the droning ones.

He stood up.

"Gentlemen, it is not only Scottland and Ireland we should renew our bonds with. There are a number of nations we must secure alliance or neutrality from. Henry will not cling to life forever and when he does the Gutter Normans will march south. Assuming we don't beat them to it! But campaigns are won before the first arrow is fired. I will draw up a list of nations for the Royal Council to send to diplomats to, I will also personally give each ambassador their instructions." He announced to the nodding of the advisors. Good, maybe in an hour he could find Phillpa and go for a ride. He should get all the clear air he could.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:14 pm 
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Nuremburg
May 1478


The wealthy patricians of the Free Imperial City turned out in force to greet the entry of their feudal liege. Frederick III of Austria, Holy Roman Emperor, Semper Augustus, watched impassively as one worthy after another delivered insincere homages as he passed through the gates of the city on his white charger. He halted for a moment only to allow a delegation of the afflicted to receive his Royal Touch, dispensing alms to the unfortunate wretches as he briefly pressed their forehead. He felt revolted by the spectacle, and the crowding-in of the unwashed, diseased masses, but he steeled himself anyway. Such were the requirements of rule as ordained by the Almighty.

At least the Lesser Council of the city waited for him at the Kaiserburg, the old Imperial citadel where he would be staying the fortnight. The ancient castle had been ceded by a previous Emperor, Charles IV, in exchange for a suite of rooms to always be kept open for him and his successors. The drafty old castle had gradually been transformed into a palace residence for use by the burgraves and then the municipal authorities, but the stout stone towers of the perimeter still towered over the city from their sandstone heights. Aside from that remnant touch the squat buildings with their highly angled, brown tile roofs looked like the homes of a few prosperous merchants.

They were probably still much more comfortable than the Hofburg.

Servants from his train helped him dismount once he arrived at the entrance to the Imperial residence, and took his horse off to the stables. City guards from the Nuremberg militia waited outside, looking sharp in colorful decorative uniforms and wielding partisans. They bowed before their Majesty and scrambled to open the heavy wooden doors. He entered with a careful hesitation as his own guards caught up, before striding down the timber-lined grand foyer in the direction of the waiting councilors. The furnishings were old-fashioned, to be sure, but it was much less stuffy than the old castle in Vienna.

The men, wearing the gray cloaks of their office, were a collection of mostly middle-aged merchants collected around a handful of white-haired old men. Wealthy men to be sure, to judge by the ornate jewelry that adorned their fingers and the fine hats that they wore. Said hats were doffed to the Emperor, but that was the most sign of deference. He was their nominal liege but there was no question how the balance of power stood.

They were not alone, though. His Italian savant, Francesco di Giorgio, wore the more colorful red satin robes and green tights of his position as court painter. The thin, neatly groomed artist and engineer stood beside a heavyset man in fur, whose unruly beard was growing a shade of gray. Ulrich Fugger, the banker of Augsburg, was wealthier than every other man in the meeting put together. That included the Emperor, though he bowed in a display of appropriate humility. Not that anyone would mistake the forms for the reality.

“Your Majesty, we are pleased to offer every cooperation to your project,” one of the councilmen began. Frederick recognized him as the patrician Josef Speit, de facto head of the city's government. “It is a vision worthy of the first Emperor, who decreed the Fossa Carolina himself. The union of the Danube and the Rhine will bring prosperity and the blessings of safer travel to all of Germany.”

And most especially to Nuremburg, through which flowed the Rednitz river, whose connection to the Altmühl to the south would bring the Danube and the Rhine watersheds together. Any ship coming from the Rhine to the Danube, or the Danube to the Rhine, would have to go through the city. That fact alone explained the obviously hungry and eager looks on the face of the council.

“We are pleased to hear of it,” Frederick replied. “Our city of Nuremburg is most properly sited to serve as a headquarters for the effort and to provide many diverse services that our servant Francesco di Giorgio will need.”

The Italian nodded in response. “Your Majesty, the city fathers have been most gracious to your humble servant. The assembly of skilled craftsmen to work under the Flemings dispatched by your son Maximilian has shown signs of the highest promise. The magistrates of the town have also aided in rounding up the vagrants and other sturdy beggers of the city, that they might fulfill their share of corvee labor for the canal. Indeed, there is much potential and it may even possible to connect the Main to the Danube directly with the resources at hand.”

Frederick scratched his chin. “That is a much more ambitious project than merely digging our predecessor's ditch open again.” He glanced over to the wealthiest man in Germany. “You have agreed to provide a loan to support the canal, to be secured against the quitrents of Lower Austria. This is our understanding, is it accurate?”

“Yes, your Majesty.” The large banker looked over to Francesco. “The House of Fugger has many valuable investments in this city and will look to expand them. And I have spoken with your engineer here. It is blind obvious to all that a canal from the Main to the Danube is faster and will allow larger ships still to make the passage. These Flemish architects have experience with canals and your savant has convinced me that he has a means of making it possible.”

The Italian smiled. “These Dutch know how to build a pound lock, just like those of Bertola de Novate for Lombardia. I have taken the liberty of revising the control mechanism, adjusting it to act more efficiently and to be operated by a man with little education. There is a need for more labor, much more labor than for the Carolingian canal, but the corvee should be able to supply enough. And I have more plans for machines to assisting in the excavation of the soil, which may also be of use for the creation of earthworks. It would be a great undertaking, but well worthy of a great prince, and the fathers of Nuremburg are enthusiastic for this development.”

“It would be our pleasure to host Your Majesty and your servants, while we discuss the prospect further,” Speit replied. “Naturally our hospitality would impose no financial burden on Your Majesty, and would be freely given to one of such august personage and friendship with our city.”

Frederick almost winced, but only almost. It was an attractive offer and made because the burghers knew it. His personal debts were multiplying and his late wife's dowry had long since been dispersed. Spending a longer time in the city at the expense of the patrician would let him settle down for the first time in a while. And Nuremburg was a meeting-place of the Imperial Diet, favored by the great Charles of Luxembourg. It would make a very suitable residence for a while.

“The House of Fugger would also stand ready to supply your Majesty with loans are a reasonable rate,” Fugger added. “Much more reasonable than the extortionate Florentines, who might as well be Jews. We can buy off some of those rats and allow you to escape their usurious practices.”

“We will consider this matter further,” Frederick decreed. Whether he decided on the canal or not, there was enough in it for him to let them try to make up his mind. “My son Maximilian will have a say, for it will require his investment and tradesmen. Perhaps indeed his presence, that the Electors may know him and his many deeds for the Empire.”

“A most reasonable decision, your Majesty,” Speit said, nodding sagely. “We burghers would be delighted to host a King as well as an Emperor. And there are men among us who can spread the accounts of your son's fine qualities to all of Germany and thence all of Christendom, if he will grace us so. It would be a glorious future for the Empire should the son reflect all of the qualities of his father and follow him in stride.”

Frederick could see through the flattery but enjoyed it anyway. “It is our wish that Francesco be successful in establishing the practicality of such a desirable project,” he responded. “It may be that the Fossa Carolina will present an opportunity to demonstrate the capability required for undertaking such a project. Could not these innovations be applied to the present canal, to greatly expand it beyond the bounds established by Charles the Great?”

“I would require the services of a good many craftsmen, though I can entrust oversight of the laborers at the Altmühl to a deputy, my lord.” Francesco looked pensive in thought. “Some oxen, accustomed to acting as beasts of burden in the fields and some stout hands as well as wood-workers of a master level. I will act as my own draftsman, as for the canal itself.”

“The city can provide dozens of carpenters of the highest quality,” Speit answered. “Since the outlawing of the guilds our craftsmen have been much more tractable. They will be glad to work for the benefit of the city. Any materials may be acquired from the area around the city or from the Rhine traders who frequent our city.”

The rest of the council nodded in unison. And with no small degree of self-satisfaction.

“I will provide for any resources that Francesco may require,” Ulrich offered. “It will be a small service to your Majesty and to Germany, and that might allow my House to provide larger services later on. And of course if some small advantage may be gained for our own operations from the use of such devices, that is only fair...”

“So be it. Our Imperial will is that the plans for the Fossa Carolina be undertaken, subject to such additions and expansions as our Royal Engineer may decree as worthy.” Frederick paused, and looked over at Fugger. “Within the limits of the available loans.”

The financier smiled. The engineer beamed. And the council bowed.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:56 pm 
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King Henry of Lancaster, slept in his bedchamber, haunted by the same dream he had had every night for two decades. He stood as he did in his youth. In battle armor, and wearing as his standard quartered lions rampant and three fleur de lis. A white light beckoned him to join the Lord God in heaven. St. Peter was ready to welcome him to heaven with all of the other souls saved by their faith in the Lamb of God. Every time, he shook his head

"No, I have a job to do. I love my son, but he is mad and if allowed to inherit would lead to the disintegration of all I have built on earth with my blood, my sweat, and the lives of friends and countrymen. I must not die".

Every time before he was able to pull himself back from the brink, but not this time. This time, he was pulled into the light despite his protestations, and the Angels of God literally dragged him kicking and screaming within the pearly gates of St. Peter. His last thoughts screamed out into the darkness, if only someone would hear him.

I should not have had a child by a woman who's father thought he was made of glass

His servants came into his bed-chamber to find the king dead in his sleep, apparently peacefully as there was no pain upon his rigored face, and his body was stiffened in the usual position he slept in.

King Henry is Dead. Long Live the King.

The next day, a procession buried him in Westminster next to his wife Catherine, and even during the funeral, it was obvious that the already tenuous sanity of his son, also Henry, was slipping. By evening, he had become catatonic. In the morning, he was found hanging by one of the rafters of his bed-chamber. His own son having died from smallpox in Wales in 1454, there was no one to succeed him. When parliament convened, presumably to confirm Henry's investiture as king, they instead found him dead. This was followed by days of bickering and squabbling as each put forth a member of his own house. However, there was only one family in all of England with a claim to the throne who was in any way acceptable, and who in fact had a stronger claim to the throne than the Lancastrians themselves. Edward Plantagenet, 4th Duke of York. And so it came to pass that Edward was crowned King of England and King of France.

His first act as king? To request from parliament a tax levie so that he could pursue the restoration of his Just Rights and Inheritances over the so-called Kingdom of Occitania, unjustly held from him by that Lancastrian Thief and Royal Traitor to the Crown, King Artus I

Long Live King Edward.

...

Giovanni Auditore, Lorenzo's accountant had been working tirelessly for weeks, counting money from the various accounts, putting it down in his ledger in one column, subtracting expenditures in another. Twenty five thousand out of ninety two thousand two hundred and seventy five florins for the maintenance of the army. Remaining sixty seven thousand, two hundred and seventy five florins. Subtract forty four thousand, five hundred Florins to begin training new pike, longbow, and heavy infantry companies leaving twenty two thousand florins for patronage of the arts and sciences, seven hundred and seventy five carried over for the next quarter. And done.

He put his ledger away, and walked off to have a class of wine with his sons.

.....
Three young men sat in an Oxcart, enduring the bumpy ride from their native home in one of the small fiefdoms surrounding Lucca to their new home, the northern barbican of Florence, which served as one of the training centers for the Grand Army of the Republic of Florence. The city barbican was a massive structure outside the moat opposite the walls of the great city. Its walls were forty feet high, and almost twenty feet thick, and sloped t deflect cannon fire, and even then, they were protected by an earthwork and water-filled moat. They also had sets of holes in them, which could only have been used to house culverins. The battlements themselves possessed arrow loops through the merlons, and were situated on an overhang with corbels which would allow all manner of terrible things to be dropped on men attempting to scale the wall. To add to the horror of attempting to assault just the barbican, the walls did not have open topped battlements, so that arrows loosed at a high arc could not hit any defenders, even while the slant made it more difficult to scale.

They reached the foreboding outer gate, which was not much taller than the walls at only 50 feet in height, but similarly defended, they realized the old addage that the weakest part of any fortification was the gate, was simply untrue. An earthwork guarded the doorway from cannons, and they had to approach from the side, which exposed them to fire from the wall and both flanking towers all along their approach

The three were brothers, uncommon in that they were also triplets. Their mother had died in childbirth, leaving their father to raise them. They were not rich, life had been hard, and they elected to join the army upon reaching the proper age for a twenty five year term. If they survived, they would be out in their 40s. Salvatore, Garibaldi, and Archibaldo Baldini were terrified as they passed under the steel portculli into the fortification under the watchful and paranoid eye of the crossbowmen inside the gatehouse.

While some of the young men in the cart had trained with the longbow, being from a neighboring fief run by an english mercenary captain, they had not. They were from an Italian fief, and as a result had no idea if they would even be put into the same unit. Soon, a grizzled olded man came out to greet them, and immediately started screaming at them.

"Get your asses out of the cart you disgusting vermin-infested sons-of-whores!". They were so shocked and terrified that they immediately complied, them and some twenty other young men. Looking around they saw numerous others in various stages of training. Putting on and exercising in armor, target shooting with Arbalests and Longbows, drilling with Halberd and Pike.

"My Name is Giovanni Costa, and I am your Fightmaster. From now until the day you have your arms and legs severed on the battlefield or are perforated with goose-feathered quarrels, the last word that will come out of your mouths when addressing me will be Signore. Do you understand me?!"

"Yes Signore" the young men said in response

"I CANT HEAR YOU!"

"YES SIGNORE!"
.....
Code:
Summary:

Florence spends Twenty Two Thousand Florins invested to increase art and technology score, the details of which will be posted later.  Training started on 1000 heavy infantry, 1000 heavy pike, and 1000 longbowmen

Henry V of England dies, Edward IV ascends to the throne, begins preparations for a campaign in Occitania if diplomacy fails.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:56 am 
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12th Maius, 2231 Ab Urbe Condita
Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome


Lucius Rienzus did not need this right now.

Granted, Lucius Rienzus did not need this at any time that he had ever been aware of, but this was a particularly bad moment for it.

Then again, that was probably the point.

There were years when the Turks kept to themselves. Years when they had too many internal troubles to deal with for them to even think about sending a single soldier across their borders. Sometimes a local Pasha would roust up enough forces to make a raid somewhere, but generally those were peaceful years for the tenuous Roman position in the East.

This was not going to be one of those years.

The Turks were mobilizing, and rapidly, shipping armies in vast numbers towards Thessaly and their territories in Hellas. Such spies as the Romans maintained from their holdings in Thrace spoke of the oxtail standards being raised, the sure sign of campaign. Troops in numbers that the Princeps of Rome frankly hoped were exaggerations were massing throughout the vast, creaking Turkish empire, as the lash and the muzzezin brought forth the faithful to this year's battle.

Any Turkish move was worrisome, but this was a move to the west, always calculated to generate worries within Rome, among other locations. Its target was not yet known, the Turks could frankly move anywhere after all, but from Lucius Rienzus' perspective (and that of his most senior counselors), Constantinople was not likely to be the target. The undertaking of assaulting the great city of Constantine was not a small one, and the Turks were in a better position than most to know it. While Constantinople could never be ruled out as a target, the sense that Lucius Rienzus had was that the Turk marched elsewhere.

But where?

Asking the stars would not be of help now, nor really did the question yet require an answer. Wherever the Turk marched, it would not be to the benefit of Rome, particularly not with the reports of shadowy ships bearing the horsehair flag. Some were said to be going east, some south, and some into the west, no doubt to sow dissension among the christian kingdoms and prepare the way for the Ottoman conquest. One was even said to be sailing to Rome. That would cause a stir if nothing else. But until the truth of these rumors was known, it was important to act.

But how to act? Over-reaction could be as fatal as under-reaction. Even discounting the perpetually fractious politics at home in Italy, the great Eastern Question was one that tore the Senate apart season after relentless season. A single decision, made in the spur of the moment, not to go to the Greeks' aid, but to do so with greater rapidity than had been thought possible, had resulted in thirty years of on-again off-again entanglements in that region, which were by no means popular with everyone in the Empire. While the Papacy never ceased to trumpet their final success at doing what all the Spaniards and all their gold could not, and the man on the street rejoiced in the further glory of Rome, there were men of power at home, some good and some less so, who resented the revenues drawn eastwards as though by a lodestone, poured into defenses and armies and engines of war used to keep the Turk at bay. Disregarding the argument that if the Turk was not confronted in the East, he would be met in Italia itself, they urged the abandonment of the Bosporus, and the return to the great Nicolaus Rienzus' great idea, that of a re-united Italy made rich and prosperous as it once had been.

Still, like it or not, Rome was engaged in the East, and even a child could see that responding to their provocations with weakness was unlikely to pacify the Turk. The Senators would throw fits of course, but most of them were after greased palms and positions for their relatives, honest nepotism if nothing worse. And there were potential advantages to be had that even the most insular Italian hayseed could see.

By the time Lucius Rienzus rose from his desk, in the dark hours of the new day, he had made the decision that his advisers had been pressing upon him. The details would be complicated, and the debate in the Senate rather ugly, but within two days, arrangements would be made for all to see. The Roman fleet would assemble in Candia. The Complea troops of the Eastern Legions would be called to service. The Freeholder Aviators would be summoned along with their flying machines. The Praetorian governors of Venice and Florence would be called to furnish their allied legions. Care would need to be taken to determine how much to send, and how much to keep behind, but this was nothing new. What was important was the decision. The Turks were moving. The Empire would match them.

And the result, Lucius Rienzus would commend to God.

*------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------*

15th Maius, 2231 Ab Urbe Condita
Caecilio, Umbria


The rider came as the sun rose, a uniformed page dusty from the dirt track that led to Perusia, and thence down the Via Flaminia to Rome. Quintus Caecilius Visor saw him approaching, for age and rheumatism had not yet robbed him of the faultless eyesight that had earned him and his father and grandfather their cognomen. Sitting in his chair on the porch of his estate, he watched the rider approach at the gallop, his cloak embroidered with the the rods and axe that marked him as a Lictoral Page, one of the many public servants that conservative elements in the senate constantly pointed to as examples of the frivolity of the Rienzus family's spending habits. Quintus Caecilius agreed with them, but he had lost the aspirations of entering the Senate and becoming head of his own political faction long ago. He had not the clout necessary, nor the ancestry required to compete with families such as the Orsinii, Borgii, or Medicii, families so august and powerful as to proudly display their Italian names and non-Roman ancestries without fear of appearing foreign. Quintus Caecilius Visor's family had once been called Guazini, a name which excited no flash of recognition from anyone, largely because there was nothing there to recognize. They were nothing but Umbrian hill-folk, country gentry of modest means and limited scope, one of many such families that dotted Italy, each one commanding nothing more than their small parochial valley or hill district.

That Quintus Caecilius bore not merely a Latin name, but one that had once been a symbol of near-regal authority was due to his grandfather, formerly Lorenzo Guazini, who took a new name rooted in the ancient past after his faithful adherence to the cause of Nova Roma during the bitter wars that attended its establishment in the late 14th century. In Lorenzo's case, selfless service against the Frankish invaders of the Duke of Anjou and his chimerical kingdom of Adria had won him an award from the Princeps himself, along with the citizenship of Rome and public benefices enough to merit the change in name. Such changes had been in vogue at the time, as the smallholders of Italy saw the chance to supplant their feudal overlords and cloak themselves in majesty. The Viscontii and Colonnii of the world could (and did) mock them as trumped-up, parvenu yeomen aping their betters, laughing at the absurd conceit that would lead a Calabrian or Apulian baron to adopt the name of one of the mightiest families of old Rome, but the tradition had persisted regardless. And perhaps there was an element of wishful thinking to it, but what, after all, was the New Rome, if not a particularly tenacious bout of the same. The Orsinii might snicker, the Sfortia might glare, but Rome was not founded by them, and the thought that, beneath all the politics and schisms and dark plots, that something new was coming into being here in Italia, year by patient year, had inspired more than just a handful of Florentian artists.

But Quintus Caecilius Visor no longer ruminated on the Glory that was Rome much. For years now, he had remained here, in small fertile valley called Caecilio for lack of anything else to call it, and tended his estates, and administered the myriad of public works and petty disputes that game with country life and baronial right. His time under the colors was long ago, the stuff of wintertime tales and stories told to his children and grandchildren. Plots and politics and great men deciding the destinies of Empire were a long way away, and he had thought to see them remain there. Yet as the rider approached, Quintus Caecilius knew exactly what his message would bear, and consequently, knew what had to come this day.

The rider reached the base of the hill, and dismounted, a groom taking his horse as he entered the gates and wound his way quickly up the hill towards the porch on which Quintus Caecilius Visor sat. Vincenzo, the steward, intercepted him halfway up the hill, speaking to him in tones to far off to hear. But after a few moments, Quintus saw Vincenzo nod and withdraw, letting the page approach. Quintus waited until he was barely twenty paces away, before rising to his feet.

"Dominus," said the page, falling to one knee as he did so and extending his hand with a rolled parchment sealed in red wax. "The Senate and People of Rome have commanded me to convey this to you."

There was no point in asking its contents, the page would not know. Carefully, clutching his walking stick in one hand, Quintus Caecilius Visor descended the steps and took the rolled parchment from the page. Behind, Vincenzo stood waiting, his eyes on his master, while several others of the house staff had congregated, sensing perhaps the importance of what this message might mean. The page himself did not rise, waiting simply for further instructions or (more likely) for the donative that was customary for such messengers.

With a nod to Vincenzo, who took the page by the shoulder and led him away to receive his gratuity, Quintus unrolled the scroll, his eyes tracing the flowery Latin letters with care. He had not gotten more than a third of the way down before he knew exactly what the rest of it would say, but he forced himself to wait, to read the rest regardless, to appear unconcerned and lordly, even if all he was impressing were his tenants and servants.

"Fetch my son," he said at length. "Let him await me at the Aviary."

The servants scattered to carry out this command, and Quintus turned, sliding the parchment into his pocket as he took the arm of Fabrizio, his personal valet, to assist him in walking back towards the aforementioned building. Nestled against the base of a the hill, it was a large, barnlike structure, against which was placed the villa's smithy and fletchery. As Quintus descended the hill, he heard the pounding of iron as the blacksmith worked iron into some convenient shape, and the occasional cry of one of the hunting hawks within the building. Approaching the entrance, Fabrizio thrust open the doors, startling the pageboy within, who had been in the process of cleaning the straw strewn over the dirt floor, and setting the birds to staring at the men intruding on their private seclusion.

But it was not the hawks that Quintus had come here to see. Instead he walked into the aviary, past the perches and the genuflecting page, and approached his flying machine.

The Ornithopter sat in the center of the room, its immediate environs free of dust and straw, Quintus was happy to see. Freshly adorned with feathers not two weeks before, its brass fittings were polished to a mirror shine, its leather and wood struts oiled and varnished to the satisfaction of any chamberlain. Stretching out his hand, Quintus ran his fingers over the controls, the pedals and levers that transmuted, as though by magic, the motions of the human body to the flight of an artificial bird. Hung on the wall beside the machine was the mail, goggles, and helmet that served as the mark of the Aviator throughout the Empire, each piece etched and inlaid with fanciful designs created by craftsmen decades ago, when first the family Caecilius had come to be take possession of this marvelous machine. Staring at the instruments of flight, Quintus Caecilius Visor remembered, if only for a moment, what it was to strap them on and take to the air, so many years ago.

"Father?"

Quintus turned, and in the doorway to the aviary, he saw his son. Sextus Caecilius Visor was twenty years of age this past April, the youngest of the four children that Quintus had sired before his wife's death. Of these four, his daughter Catarina was now married to the younger son of the Lord of Perusia, while his two eldest sons had died, one of fever at the age of eight, the other in a duel with a Venetian nobleman's son in the streets of Rome. It was this last tragedy that had led Quintus to keep his youngest son at home. Rome was too dangerous for the scions of mere freeholders. A family without heirs would be prey for the peculations of speculators and the greed of the great families, and the Caecilii had one honor to their name besides their small lands and adopted name. One honor that even the Orsinii could not boast of. One inalienable virtue that had brought the page riding up the Via Flaminia this day, directed to their house, and to no other's.

The Caecilii were of the Ordo Fugerus, the Freeholding Aviators of Rome. And therefore the Caecilii, and the two dozen or so families like them nestled about Italy, had been asked to do what no other families in the Empire could.

"Father, what is it?" asked Sextus, beholding the look on Quintus' face as he thought of these things. "Has something happened?"

Quintus drew the parchment from his tunic, and held it out for his son to take. "There is news from Rome," he said, forcing himself to remain stoic, aloof, not to think of what this summons might mean. Sextus, perhaps already divining what was to come, stepped forward and took the parchment, reading it as Quintus watched his face for his reaction. A slight hesitation that might have been surprise, followed by the simultaneous and contradictory appearance of both fear and wonder as he grasped what this message might mean. It was all too familiar to Quintus.

"My son," said Quintus Caecilius Visor, as his servant withdrew the main jacket, the helmet, and the goggles from the wall, "the Republic has called for us. It is time for you to take up the family Ornithopter..."

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Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:14 pm 
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The religious wars had nearly ruined Charles University. Most of the faculty, the entire nations of the Bavarians, Poles, and Saxons, had packed up and left long before the fighting started, over the very debates that touched off the great reformation that had swept Bohemia and Moravia since.

There had been the long decades of rebuilding under the new kings, still in the memory of grayer heads among the faculty. The ongoing, endless disputes among the institution's theologians had made it difficult. The certainty of being snubbed by half of Europe over religious matters- and actively persecuted in much of the rest should a Bohemian scholar so much as clear his throat- only made it worse.

What funds there were often went in... ridiculous directions. And so two of the relative handful of remaining professors of the Faculty of Law stalked the drafty corridors of a building in sore need of the stonemason's attentive touch...

"Did you see the size of the latest royal grant? We could have doubled the library! But no, it had to go to the crank-heads they've saddled the philosophers with!"

"I've been over to their workshops. They dress like artisans, half of them barely speak Greek... and do you know what they've done with the money?"

"No! I have no time for such folly! I ignore those rude mechanicals!"

"This you have to hear- we must compose a petition and take it to the Castle. Those useless, gibbering, barbarian lunatics! They... they..."



In-game Effects: No ornithopters for the Bohemians. Not without some serious debugging.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:53 pm 
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Bruges
May 1478


Maximilian of Austria stepped into the vestibule of St. Donation's Church as a common parishioner, albeit one with a coat of mail beneath his jerkin and fashionable blue doublet and the ermine-lining of his gown reserved to royalty. The smell of incense marked the transition from the profane world to the sacred , reinforced by the glittering of gold from the altar and the icons held beyond it. Candle light flickered in the drafts through the church, and the light harmony of a chanted motet filled the building. The choir was practicing before the nave, overseen by the venerable Johannes Ockeghem, carried on without taking special notice of his entrance.

He drew past the confessional and stopped in the front row of the common benches to listen in further. The masterful direction of a skilled choir could still draw out emotion in the young prince. His soul felt elevated as they switched into a mass following the conclusion of the short preceding piece. He slipped into the bench to avoid disturbing the singers or calling attention to his presence, wanting to finish hearing them out. The practice version of the Kyrie Eleison was marked by what seemed as perfect pitch and timing, while the concluding Agnus Dei captured perfectly the sense of the humility of the supplicant before God. But he had many things to accomplish and so as the mass concluded he stood and clapped loudly, drawing the ire of a priest walking by and the annoyed look of the choirmaster.

“We are not...” The priest's remonstrance, in pretty vulgar Flemish, stopped as soon as he was able to process the signs of Maximilian's status. The king smiled as the priest picked up again in fluent French. “Your Majesty is welcomed here in St. Donation's Church.”

Ockeghem halted the choir with a gesture of his hand and stepped away from his position by the nave. He was balding and unprepossing, his whiskers and the fringe of hair left on his head going a snowy white. He spoke French but with a pronounced Dutch accent. “Your Majesty's applause is a great honor.”

There was a not of question, even anticipation in the man's humble response. One did not come out and ask royalty. But Maximilian smiled anyway. “Meister Ockeghem, your direction of this choir has moved me almost to tears. It is a glorious testimony to the glory of God. And this has convinced me to look favorably upon your request of a subsidy for the instruction of musical arts. It would truly be a great service to the Church were I able to bring such disciplined choirs to all the corners of Europe with my patronage.”

The composer bowed in an awkward, very florid manner. “A thousand thanks, your Majesty. A generous subsidy will allow me to transform St. Donation's into the finest choir in Europe, and to instruct many new apprentices in the art of composition.”

“It is my intention to do a bit more,” Maximilian replied. “I will create a school for the development of talent in composition and in singing that will bring in students and apprentices from all corners of Europe. The masters at this school will lack for nothing. Those who leave this school will be prepared to greatly improve sacred music in all of Christendom as a reminder of the glories of heaven. The true faith will be buttressed and the genius of Flanders will thereby become known to all believers.”

“That is much more than I had ever asked or hoped for, your Majesty.” Ockegehm seemed stunned for a moment. “I am an old man, your Majesty, and so interested in my legacy. It would be an honor to serve as a master at this school, but I fear a younger man must take charge of it.”

“Few men there are who could match your skill and reputation,” Maximilian responded. “Your presence will be enough to draw them here. But as I intend to honor this institute with the name of my wife, our Queen of Burgundy, I would search all of Christendom and even the realms of the Grand Turk were it necessary to find a suitable head.”

The composer shook his head. “Your majesty need not look that far. Josquin des Prez is in Lille, and I know of no man who would be better suited for this.”

“I know of no better recommendation.” The assurance and speed with which Ockegehm had named des Prez was certainly a testimony to the esteem he was held in. And Maximilian was, as it happened, familiar with des Prez by reputation. “There is something I would have you indulge me in, however.”

“I am at your Majesty's command,” Ockegehm said, with only a slight moment of hesitation.

“I am in need of a man to train and manage the personal choir of our royal chapel. You have trained the choir of St. Donation's to an admirable height.” Maximilian paused to look at the choir. Not even a castrati among them, so far as he could tell. “I wish for you to take over their direction and to create a choir that can move even the devils themselves to repent, so that I might remind certain crowned visitors of their duties before God.”

Ockegehm looked over at the priest, who could only shrug ineffectively. After a moment's pause, the master composer nodded. “It will be my most profound honor to serve your Majesty and the Lord in this way. I would ask only that I be allowed to continue my work here until Ascension Day, so that I may see the choir through the mass after the Procession of the Holy Blood.”

Maximilian nodded. “Of course. I will be here in Saint Donation's with Queen Marie on Ascension Day. I would not deprive the people of Bruges their chance to hear a master's work on their proudest feast day.”

“I will be at your Majesty's service then,” Ockegehm said, bowing. “At least, for as long as the Lord sees fit to grant me continued life and health.” And thus was the founding of the Royal Marian Conservatory begun.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:38 pm 
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May 8, 1478

Once they had arrived back at the palace and Rogerio was safely within his private chambers, he was quickly disrobed by a bevy of servants, leaving him with the opportunity to breathe at last. Despite the fact that all scholarship said that noble and pure colours like white and gold did not heat up as fast or as hot as base and corrupt ones like brown and black, his kingly robes still got incredibly hot when subjected to the solar attention they had. Feeling distinctly unkingly after having stewed in his own sweat, Rogerio was quite pleased when he saw the cool bath waiting for him. Slipping into the bath, which was really more of a small pool, he surfaced feeling significantly more whole.

Frediano, Rogerio's chief attendant stood at the edge of the bath and asked, "Should I summon for Duke Tankretti, sire?"

Easing into the seat along one edge of the bath and reaching for a block of pumice and some sand to begin scrubbing, Rogerio replied, "No, not yet. My enemies feed the broadsheets with enough rumours of improper behaviour between the two of us that it would not be prudent to feed them more material during marriage negotiations."

"Very good sire. Any reading material for you during your bath?" Frediano asked.

"This will be short, so a summary of the reports on the top of the pile will do for now," Rogerio ordered.

"Very good sire. Let us see here... Duke Adamo Salvatici of Corsica is requesting funds for ornithopter research, he says that the fact that we don't have access to flying machines like other nations is a tragedy," Frediano summarized quickly.

Scrubbing himself down and wincing slightly, Rogerio said, "Tell the clerks to pen up the standard response so I can sign it. Until the Council of Colleges stops fighting over the design of the infernal things I'm not authorizing their construction."

"Very good sire. Any unique points this time?" Frediano inquired.

"Tell him to get together with Iacopo and blow something up, that always cheers the two of them up. And I'll fund it this time," Rogerio said before he mused idly, "Praise to God that half of the higher nobility are more scholars than soldiers or merchants, they are so easy to bribe into being quiet."

"At least until their next experiment needs a grant, sire," Frediano replied dryly.

Snorting with amusement, Rogerio said, "There is that, there is that."

Eventually climbing out of the bath feeling clean and refreshed, Rogerio was quickly wrapped in fresh clothes, these less eye watering and blinding that his last outfit. Mulling over his options, Rogerio finally asked, "What is in fashion in Rome right now?"

"I should have to ask a tailor, sire. Shall I fetch one?" Frediano asked.

"Do so then," Rogerio replied. He then asked, "Any reports as to how our guests are settling in to their quarters?"

"The last report from the sentries was that a servant was dispatched to locate a printer," Frediano replied.

"Right... this is going to get interesting early. Well, we might as well start our own broadsheet campaign. Something simple, a combined official announcement on the assassinations, both successful and attempted, in Florence and a general condemnation of assassination as a political tool. Something to get the populace riled up if we need to leave Sixtus' camp and to keep any potential brides from attempting to murder each other," Rogerio detailed out.

"Excellent choice sire. How inflamatory should I tell the printer to be?" Frediano inquired.

"Inflamatory enough that I shall have to send an apology to Mansur the day they go out," Rogerio replied.

"I do believe the man has no... oh. Clever sire, very clever. If that is the level of anger you wish to stir up, perhaps a fruit basket would also be appropriate?" Frediano asked.

"No, no, just reassurances that his expertise is still required by the crown," Rogerio replied.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:55 am 
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May 9th, Anno Domini 1478
Venice

Andrea Vendramin sat in the opulent Palazzo Ducale enjoying his breakfast when his manservant entered his chamber

"My Lord, an emissary from Florence has arrived, he has orders from Lorenzo."

"Fuck. Let him in. How can I refuse?". That sentence was dripping with the most foul venom one could readily conceive. He HATED the fact that Venice had lost much of its territory. He hated the fact HIS city was not ruled indirectly from Florence and that that bastard Cosimo de Medici had managed to secure the concessions and power Venice had not when their city came under siege. Still, an order from Florence was as good as an order from Rome, and he did not at all wish to see his fair city sacked in retaliation. Especially because the average citizen would not support war with Rome. Under Rome, Venice was free of the constant threat of political upheaval and internecine warfare between city states which had characterized italian politics since the 5th century. A loss of civic pride was one thing, gaining meaningful and real security was another. So, while he might hate it the situation he was in, there was not a whole lot he could do.

The emissary walked in and bowed]

"Eminent Doge, I bring word from Lorenzo de Medici. Italy is mobilizing for war. You are to deploy your troops to garrison CastelBrando and CastelVecchio. You are also to call your reserve naval forces into active service, to rendezvous with Florentine troops at Pesaro and then travel on to Candia." He presented a sealed letter, presumably containing the written orders to Andrea, which he took.

What was Lorenzo thinking? Leaving mostly Venetian troops in Italy while his own troops left italy? He would outnumber Lorenzo two to one? Then he got it. By leaving Venetian troops here, he prevented the population from becoming war-weary, while giving them the glory of being able to exercise their coveted naval power. Any attempt to use his troops to seize power would cause a dangerous destabilization in the Italian power structure, which could be expoited by anyone with the will. It would cause a veritable up-rising. They may not particularly like Rome, but they would despise direct foreign rule, and the Venetian people knew it.

He had no choice. Damn.

...

May 9th, Anno Domini 1478
Sicily

Nicollo read the broadsheets that had been printed, his, some unknown individual against the marriage proposal, and Rogerio's. Then he started laughing. Not because he had done such a wonderful job with his propaganda that the people were clamoring for his opposite number's blood. He had hoped that would be the case, but while the slander against Caterina's heritage had not gone over well, the population was... different. Their response to competing fact claims was a general clamor of "prove it!". So that part basically evened out. No. His laughter was in response to Rogerio's condemnation of assassination. There was no possible way he did not have his own assassins on retainer.

"I knew the Sicilians were advanced, but I had no idea that they had mastered time and had managed to read my advice from the past. Always appear pious, honest and forthright, but in reality, be none of these things. I really should get to work on that manuscript." he said to himself as he continued to dress, stiffing back the occasional chuckle as he composed himself. Finally, the cloak.

"And now to go and once again partake in the most delicious and vital of foods" a statement which did not involve the dishes to be served, but rather the politicking upon which Machiavelli well and truly fed

..

A cog sailed across the English Channel toward port city of Arcachon bearing as it s flag the coat of arms of England and France and also the standard of the Duke of Exeter, Henry Holland, diplomat to the newly crowned King Edward IV.


Image
Image

The Diplomat disembarked at the port, made what inquiries were required and then set off with his entourage of honor guard for the court of King Artus I, of Occitania.

...
recommended soundtrack

Across the cities of Lucca, Pisa and Florence, men in the Esercito della Repubblica di Firenze said goodbye to their wives and children as they strapped on their armor and took up shield and crossbow, halberd and pike. Longbowmen came in from the hills surrounding these cities, mostly recruited from the second sons of minor landholders and their tenants who would not inherit. Joining the army with its 25 year service term and the promise of fertile land or initial capital for a business was a good way to seek their fortune, and in many cases their fathers and grandfathers had earned their living and founded their family lines the same way. They often had family names like Legionario, Sagittario, Forte-braccio, or in the case of many of the longbowmen, Italian cognates of the English surnames of the original mercenaries extracted as a concession in a 1430 loan-default. Names like Fabbro and Macellaio. They began to stream to the eastern barbican where they linked up with their units and received their standard equipment; entrenching tools, pieces of ten man tents, several stakes to drive into the ground or use to set up marching camps, and any missing pieces of their personal kits were replaced.

The army was organized similarly to a Legion, although they were a bit smaller. Expedient, as they fought alongside legions in most deployments. There were some key differences. Each tent housed ten men instead of eight, and contained four pikemen, two bowmen, a pair of halberdiers and two crossbowmen. While this was a professional army, it was also an army of politically invested citizens this arrangement not only blunyed the effect of rivalries between the various companies because they shared living space, but it also formed bonds across companies. Everyone knew that if they screwed up and failed to hold off flanking cavalry, that their friend and tent-mate Vincenzo could die. Actual fighting units were broken down into centuria of 100 rather than 80 men and from there into cohorts of 500 men, and companies of 1000 and then the Regiment. Campfires roared outside the walls of the city while everyone was checked in and assembled, then, in two days, two of the three regiments marched eastward toward Pesaro. The overall commander was Mercurio degli Albizzi, the grandson of Luca Albizzi, and Gonfalonieri of War. He sat on horseback on one of the many hills surrounding Florence with his two other generals; Pier Soderini, and Lorenzo's bastard second cousin Fortunato de' Medici, still young at only twenty.

"Where do you think the Mehmet will attack Mercurio?" the young man asked "God knows." was the reply "but we can beat them. We must. Lest they be free to attack Italy."
"Certainly not Constantinopolis?"
"I should think not. I have been to the Turus Maximus. They would need to be stark-raving mad to attack that city without first securing their flanks. No. I should think they will either attempt to cut off passage of reinforcements via Albania, or will try to bring the Hospitalier to heel so they can project power into the Mediterranean and blockade the city and also prevent relief armies from besieging them inside their own siege-works"

Fortunato simply nodded sagely at this. He was a good tactical thinker. He had an almost intuitive grasp of how men moved and reacted on a battlefield, could motivate his men, and knew their limitations. However, as a strategic thinker, he was utterly hopeless. He made up for his lack of skill in the area by asking questions, and he genuinely understood what was said. However, while he could comprehend, he had a very difficult time recalling the information and applying it to solving his own military problems. Give him a city to besiege or an army to fight and he was a golden-child. But he had no idea which city to besiege, or how to maneuver an army in strategic withdrawal where he wanted to so he could actually pin them on the battlefield and crush them.

...

The three Baldini brothers stood in a line with the rest of the fresh recruits, all several thousand of them. They were housed not in the barbican, but in a series of outbuildings about a hundred yards away from it, and had been frog-marched in at the ass-crack of dawn after being roused from their beds by blaring horns. Each man was being sorted from a list into their training companies, in this round of recruitment, they could become either pikemen or heavy infantry arbalestiers as they were not trained to use the longbow from childhood

Their turn came, and all three being strapping young lads with good eyesight, were instructed to form up in order with the block of men destined to become arbalestiers. They would be in training for a full year, as they had to master the wearing of heavy armor, the use of an arbalest, and also how to handle a dueling shield and the characteristic warhammer. A junior instructor kept them in order and at perfect attention, screaming profanities at them should even one of them lose his posture or doze off on his feet, even taking the pommel of a sword to one man's ribs in punishment for falling asleep twice.

The late morning sun was beating down on them by the time Giovanni Costa strode out of his office in full kit. He wore a breastplate, with pauldrons, vambraces and tassets over and arming jack. His hammer was slung through a loop on his belt, and he carried his steel prodded arbalest in both hands. On his back was a backpack that contained (or had strapped to it) his personal kit, and the portion of his tent he would carry, in addition to having a special rigging for his dueling shield. On his head

"This, you worthless shit-piles, is your personal kit. It weighs seventy pounds. For those of you who are ignorant enough to be unable to count, that means it is very heavy. You will be expected to march at least twenty five miles in a day with this, then either fight or set up camp. Possibly both. You will have to go longer if we force-march you through the night. You will be expected to follow orders exactly, kill men, women, and children if your commanders deem it necessary, and do it without question. Failure to follow orders will result in being whipped, denied food, or if in battle summary execution to be carried out by your officers. Abysmal performance in battle will result in decimation. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"

"YES SIGNORE!" they screamed back in unison.

"What was that Maggots?!"

"YES SIGNORE!" they screamed back louder.

"Praise be to the beneficence of the blessed virgin!" he said, crossing himself and looking up. "The illiterate pig-fucking hayseeds are able to get something right if given enough time, I have had goats pick it up faster!"

Someone in the line snickered. Costa turned to that person, strode up to him, and punched him in the jaw with a mailled fist.

"Do I amuse you? Is my sincere adoration of the virgin Mary funny to you, you lice-infested heretical rat-spawn. I am going to beat you like a jew on good-friday!" he said as he kicked the poor fucker in the ribs a few times "If I ever hear you laughing at me like that again I will gouge out your eyes and use you like a French whore! Now run around the courtyard until I tell you to stop!"

The unfortunate young man choked out the words "Yes Signore!", spat up some blood, hauled himself to his feet and ran around the courtyard while the instructor continued.

He then proceeded to have them do grueling footwork drills, while the runner eventually collapsed from exhaustion.

_________________
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There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 7:36 pm 
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Aquitaine, Occitania

Artus read the message slowly showing no signs of panic or stress. Kings must look and act like Kings, or soon they will not be Kings. He had known what the message was before he read it, but read it he must. He could feel Phillipa reading over his shoulder, but knew that she would remain silent until they were in their chambers, or until he asked for her input. He would ask, sooner rather then later, her council was invaluable at times and to be blunt, her head was on the block to. The court around them, a gathering of all the high nobles of Occitania was silent. Most of the men would also know what the message was, but the passion play of politics must be maintained.

The message was a simple one, from a spy in London, passed via the Baron sent to treat with the Irish. King Henry was dead. King Edward reigned and intended to march south. Artus had a moment of passing regret, some years before he had made a treaty with Henry and while neither of the men cared for one another officially or in person, Henry had stuck to his word. Edward was intent in becoming King of all France, one way or another. Occitania was not safe as long as Edward was King or England was a power maybe not even as long as England existed.

He rolled up the message, calmly, calmly. The nobles must not see you alarmed, you are King in manner, word and deed.

"King Henry is dead as is his only son. Edward, Duke of York has been crowned King. He has declared an intention to 'press his rights' upon us." A growl rang around the court at the thought of this.

"It seems to be the season for pressing rights. Send messagers to the Duke of Brittany and sent out the heralds to the whole of the realm. If Edward wishes to press for rights, I shall not disappoint him. I will press my right as King of All France! Call up the levies and let every true Knight and Christian Soldier of Occitania gird themselves for battle! May God Almighty, Supreme Judge of the Universe look upon us with favor for ours is the cause of righteousness and justice. Go and to Arms, Gentlemen!" King Artus I of Occitania declared to his court and they cheered in response.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:58 pm 
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Aquitaine, Occitania

The Duke of Exeter crested a hill on the road, and before him were the city walls of Bordeaux, the capital city of the Aquitaine, and of Occitania. Its battlements and towers rose high above the ground. Before that, was a massive army of tens of thousands of men, their campfires stretched as far as the eye could see. At the sight of that, Exeter's mouth dropped inside the visor of his helmet, and he turned to his guard

"I think they know."

Several hundred soldiers, mostly Pike and Crossbow sprang into action and immediately, moving in and surrounding the few dozen horsemen. The Duke held up his mace

"We come in peace under pledge of safe conduct and

"I am Sir Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter and Knight of the Garter. Come under pledge of Peaceful Conduct and in all Chivalry to parlay with Artus Lancaster, King of Occitania on behalf of Edward Plantagenet, King of England and France.

With that, the commanding officer of the local soldiers shouted at his men to stand down, form a block enclosing the duke and his honor guard, and escort him to the city gates. The huge oak doors and portcullis opened when they reached the city gates, without the Duke being able to engage in the huge bombastic speech he had planned. What other pleasures would he be denied? Would he simply be imprisoned with or without the privilege of Ransom? Would he even be permitted to bring his terms to the so-called king?

He shrugged his shoulders. He would find out.

_________________
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- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:28 am 
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The Duke was escorted swiftly and quietly to the nearly empty throne room. Where King Artus stood in armor with a collection of officers in front of a hanging map.

"Your Majesty, the Englishman is here." Announced one of the troops.

"Ah, so he is." Artus answered and looked over the delgation with an arched eyebrow.

"I believe it is customary to knell before a ruling sovereign." Said one of the officers turning away from the map. Before the English Duke could comment, he was firmly pushed to his knees.

"Your Grace, I believe you may have guessed that I already know your purpose here. I will of course tell your king that you performed well in trying circumstances. I say that, because frankly... I will be seeing him before you. You and yours will be spending the war in the west tower. I apologize for the inconvenience but I am sure you will bear it stoically as a true knight. As for the reply to your lord's demands, I shall deliver the response personally. God be with you." King Artus said. The English Duke was hauled out with a somewhat regrettable lack of ceremony. The King turned back to his officers.

"Gentlemen, we must move swiftly. Let us be about it, our cause is just and righteous and God will be with us. Let us not fail him or our divine charge." He said.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:24 am 
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Rome, Roman Republic

Ahmet Pasha rubbed at his temple in the privacy of the quarters that had been given to him to sleep during his, hopefully, brief stay in Rome. Republics. By the time he was done here he would likely use the word as a curse. Freedom? More like an excuse to stall. He glanced back at the message that he was writing to his lord, the Sultan.

To his inestimably glorious Excellency, Lord of the Horizons, etc. Sultan Mehmet II,

The Romans are, as ever, gracious hosts, they have hardly attempted to stab me in the senate at all. Though I do not doubt some were tempted to try. The food is passable, and their latin atrocious, but they continue to stall in their response with claims of Venitian slowness. Most likely they are simply stalling to throw us off our guard before they strike while our forces are elsewhere. Your humble servant's suggestion is that troops be left to hold off a Roman attempt to break out.


The message was sealed and handed over to one of the Turks that had come with Ahmet that he felt he could trust. The message would take some time to return home, but there was little for it.

Marseille, Occitania

Word of the Turkish ships on their way to Occitania finally proved to be true as the Ottoman flags showed themselves on the horizon. There was some apprehension upon their appearance, but for the most part, the people of the Western Mediterranean were not overly concerned with the Turkish fleets, and for good reason. The ships docked, and a message was sent that the Ottoman representatives were here to speak with the ranking member of Occitania concerning matters of trade and mutual benefit.

Salonica, Ottoman Empire

Weeks had passed as the armies and navies of the Ottomans had collected themselves and prepared for battle. The Janissaries maintained great order, almost unparalleled in the European world. Even the Anatolian and European armies were in incredible order and were eager for battle. Mehmet, their Sultan, spent his time walking about the camp or in his own tent, planning matters that he trusted to no one else. For, as he had said early in his career, if even one hair on his beard knew of his plans, he would pluck it out.

The Spahi seemed woefully underarmed compared to some however, and during his stay in Salonica had decided to work the guilds of the Ottoman Empire towards fixing this problem. The Sultan would make a gift of recurved bows to each of his Spahi and Akinci units. To make them more lethal in the wars to come.

The letter from Rome arrived, to much whisper and conspiracy in the camps, but word quickly spread that while the Venetians were attempting to hold up the peace process, Rome herself was amicable to the idea and were working quickly to pass the venture. The news was met with a mixture of relief and disappointment. Within three days however, the army knew where it was heading. South, against the much hated Knights of St. John. Much of the Navy would be in tow, though the European fleet had long since headed back East, to assist the Egyptians against the Knights in Cyprus.

OOB

Rumelia
1 Unit of Topcu

Anatolia
4 units of Spahi

Heading to Cyprus
European Navy

Heading to Morea
Rest of the Army, the Imperial and Anatolian Navies.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:04 am 
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The sea was dark, dark like Falernian wine, as Sextus Caecilius Visor brought his ornithopter down towards the open field beside the docks of Candia. The sun shone brightly, settling slowly towards the hills west of the fortress-city, casting a glow over the dark waters that resembled golden wheat floating atop a still pond.

Below him, the port was in a bustle of activity, as ships disgorged cargoes of men and horses and ton after ton of supplies. The shouts of Quaestors and Centurions was perceptible even over the omnipresent rustle of the wings and levers, and grew louder as Sextus Caecilius descended. Below, a host of Artificitori were waiting to assist him, but responsibility for his Ornithopter was his alone, and no Aviator worthy of the name would let other men see to it besides themselves.

Vespertilio, the ornithopter in question, circled lazily around the port before making its final descent. Gliding softly, the wheels touched down with nary a protest, sliding to a stop mere feet later. Sextus took a moment to unstrap himself from the controls of the ornithopter, sliding out of its tight embrace and onto the grass, only to find himself face to face with a large, angry-looking Quaestor, who looked him over as though trying to decide which part of him would make the best bait for the harbor fish.

"Name?"

"Sextus Caecilius Visor," said Sextus, trying to decide if this was one to worry about.

"Father's name?"

"Quintus Caecilius Visor."

"Grandfather's?"

"Lucius Caecilius Visor. Should I have brought my family tree?"

The Quaestor turned a particularly unpleasant shade of purple, glaring at him like an angry bull. He spat on the ground. "This your ornithopter?"

"No, I stole it from an Albanian horse trader and learned to fly it on the way down here while I was teaching myself Latin," said Sextus.

The previous comment had pissed the Quaestor off. This one nearly melted the man's addled wits, leaving him gasping for anything to say. "Stow your gear," said the Quaestor at length. "And report to the Centurio Volator before I light you and your bird on fire."

Sextus chose not to respond to that threat, hoping that the harried Quaestor would be assaulted by some fresh work before returning to the subject, and so saluted and moved back to his ornithopter, rolling it slowly to one side, into one of the revetments set up for the purpose. Leaving one of the Artificitor pages to watch it, he moved off across the field towards the docks in search of the flight Centurion.

For several minutes, Sextus Caecilius wandered about the docks, amidst the chaos that attended the deployment of large masses of men and ships to any base, let alone one on an island far from Italia. Ships from all about the peninsula were scattered through the docks, a forest of sails and sailors wrapped in the arms of the Candian harbor. He was about to ask someone for the fourth time if they knew where the Centurion was, when he spied a pair of men in very odd garb standing on the far side of one of the largest ships, speaking to one another in informal latin while a third man looked on.

Neither one was dressed in great finery, but their armor was detailed in the finest possible reliefs, bas-etched and silvered in a manner that indicated that these suits of armor were not designed for everyday use. The swords at their sides were embossed with precious stones, not so many as to be absurd, but enough to denote the importance of their bearers. One appeared to be a Florentine, or at least a non-Roman, judging by the color of his mantle and the accent of his latin, though who he was, Sextus could not possibly say. The other he had never seen before either, but his latin, at least, was unaccented, and the sword at his side was no arming sword or Venetian warhammer, but an old-style Gladius, a weapon retired at last from actual combat, but still useful as a symbol of Rome. This, coupled with the 20 or so heavily armed and armored men that stood in a manner that probably was supposed to look casual around the two speakers, told Sextus everything he needed to know. The man with the Gladius could only be Lucius Rienzus, Princeps of the Roman Empire. And his guards were the famed Descensorii.

The third man was obviously the odd man out, dressed not in armor but in a toga virilis with the maroon shoes and the iron ring of a man of senatorial class. Yet there were no Lictors with the man, only an escort of local auxiliaries looking very shabby indeed when compared with the Descensorii. Based on who he was speaking to, Sextus had to assume that this man was the Praefectus Maiestatis of Candia, for a city of this size and importance would certainly warrant one.

"Princeps," said the Praefect, "the Turkish army dwarfs all our previous calculations. The numbers I have received are simply beyond belief."

"Which is precisely why I do not believe them, Praefectus," said Lucius Rienzus in a voice that was clipped and short. "Unless the Turks have found a way to unleash the armies of Gog and Magog, we cannot credit millions of men marching on Morea. This is not the horde of Xerxes."

"It bears a striking resemblance, at least to my agents."

"Your agents are Greek fishermen bribed to tell you what they believe you want to hear," said the other man. "You should count yourself lucky that they know how to count to twenty, let alone five hundred thousand."

"Gonfalonieri, this is a Roman port," said the Praefect. "You have no standing to march in here and - "

"Mercurius Albezzius is the Florentian Gonfalonieri of War, and is here as the senior Legate of the Allied forces," said Rienzus. "And even if he were not these things, he is a man who speaks sense, which appears to be lacking in this place. What am I to do with reports of a Turkish army large enough to drink the rivers dry? Send them a polite missive asking that they kindly refrain from invading Crete?!"

"I do not propose to tell you your business, Princeps," said the Praefect. "I only report what my own agents have told me. The army the Turks have mobilized is large enough that they do not bother to hide its existence, knowing that it would be impossible to disguise. The Knights of St. John have been sending us messages by pigeon and fast boat claiming that all the demons of Hell are being conjured up against them."

"Perhaps if the Knights of St. John spent more time contemplating their Christian duty instead of practicing base piracy, they would have less to fear from hellfire," suggested Mercurius.

"I could not physically care less what the state of the souls of the Knights of St. John is," said Rienzus. "Nor did I come here to spill blood and treasure on their behalf. Are we certain of the Turk's intentions?"

"Predicting the Turkish mind is like trying to grapple with a raging current. They twist and turn so."

"But they do tend to follow one direction. The Hospitaliers have made themselves aggravating enough to the Sultan to warrant a reply such as this, extreme though it may be. What I must know is if this is a convenient smokescreen for a descent on Crete."

"Or Constantinople," added the Gonfalonieri.

"Unlikely as that is, yes. With an army this large, I cannot rely on the word of petrified Greeks as to what they are planning to do. Venice has stalled the peace treaty the Turks offered us, and until they finally work it out, we must have proper information if we are to be secure.

What possessed Sextus to do what he then did was entirely beyond him. But before he knew what he was doing, he had stepped forward towards the three men.

Of course the Descensorii intercepted him. They would hardly merit the title if they did not. Three of them drew steel and planted the tips of their swords on Sextus' chest. A dozen others interposed themselves between the Princeps and the Aviator with guns in hand. But Sextus paid them no mind. "Princeps," he said. "I can get you the information."

All twenty-three men on the dock blinked at Sextus Caecilius Visor in silence. Appropriately, it was Lucius Rienzus who responded first.

"Aviator," he said, "what is your name?"

"Sextus Caecilius Visor, Dominus," said Sextus. "My father is - "

"Your father is Quintus Caecilius Visor, of the Freeholders," finished the Princeps. "I know them all. Why has he sent you?"

Sextus' mouth froze momentarily, and he had to force it to resume proper function. "He... my father is elderly and infirm," he said. "My brothers are dead. The republic called for the family Ornithopter..."

"And so you came?"

"When Rome commands us, we must march, Dominus."

At Rienzus' side, the Gonfalonieri smirked. "A Roman not yet cynical? What miraculous discoveries we make here on Crete."

Rienzus gave a half-smile, but did not turn away. "You say you can get us the information, boy. How will you do this?"

"My ornithopter can reach the Turkish army from here," said Sextus. "The Turks have no flying machines, or so it is said. We can report back to you true numbers, not the scared imaginings of a bunch of Greeks."

"We are to replace those with the excited utterances of an ignorant hayseed?" asked the Praefect. "Are you even numerate, boy?"

Sextus rounded on the Praefect. "I can count the real men who stand before me, and sort them from those stranded so long in the east that they have forgotten how to be Roman." It wasn't until the Praefect turned the exact color of the Quaestor before that Sextus realized that this might be a poor decision.

Fortunately though, Rienzus smiled and laughed loud enough to be heard, which the Praefect took as a signal to swallow his tongue. The Gonfalonieri took over the questioning.

"A bold claim, Sextus Caecilius," said Mercurius, "and what will you do if the Turks riddle you with arrows?"

"They will not succeed at hitting me," said Sextus. "Vespertilio is the fastest and quietest ornithopter in the Empire. I know how to stay out of harm's way."

"You will find, Mercurius, that Aviators are a bold sort," said Lucius Rienzus. "It seems to run in the blood."

"We've noticed that trait ourselves," said Mercurius. "But then you Romans define boldness the way most of us define lunacy."

"Perhaps," said Rienzus, apparently not taking this as an insult. He seemed to be chewing several matters over for a moment. "But the Turks have to know that all this movement will be scaring the locals. They can't hope to hide an army this size, and all we seek is some assurance that their target is actually what it appears to be."

In a blink, Rienzus turned back to the young aviator. "All right, Sextus Caecilius Visor. Go to your Centurio Volator, and tell him that his Princeps wishes for him to organize long-range scouting of the Turkish armada and army. Tell him to rotate his aviators back every three hours, that we will know if and when the Turks move against us." Rienzus paused only for a moment before grinning broadly. "And tell him that it is my wish that you be the first to watch over them." Rienzus seemed to chuckle at some private joke, and inclined his head slightly, noblesse oblige of course.

"We are entirely in your hands, Aviator."

Hoping against hope that his salute was proper and not merely some rustic anachronism, Sextus bowed to the Princeps of Rome. "Yes, Imperator," he said, and then he turned and raced off towards what he hoped might be the Centurio Volator.

Rienzus and Mercurius watched him go. "I swear," said Mercurius, "what do you feed those country hayseeds?"

Rienzus smirked, but did not turn around. "The headiest liquor of all," said the King of Rome. "Glory."

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Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:21 pm 
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Bordeaux, Aquitaine, Occitania

Sir Holland just looked a King Artus, stunned for a moment. It was at least customary to hear the bloody message. As he was taken from the room he would not be Denied, and spoke loudly, so that all those in the room could hear him.

"I was going to offer amicable terms of peace, good King" and then he was pulled from the room, making sure to let the written terms drop to the floor.

....

Candia, Crete

Admiral Giovanni Mocenigo, in the breastplate, burgonet issued to all naval officers, but wearing the puffed and slashed finery that only high nobility would wear strode confidently toward Lucius Rienzus, presenting him with a sealed note

"This is a copy of my orders from the Doge of Venice, Andrea Vendramin." he said, in formal Latin. Rienzus took the letter and opened it. Reading it, his eyes narrows, and his faced turned red "Quel figlio di una cagna efebo!" Rienzus spat before crushing the letter and wheeling on the admiral

"And you intend to obey these orders?"

"I do, Princeps. The Serene Republic of Venice has transported the Florentines as requested, but will not submit to additional eastern expenditures without gain to our most Serene Republic. Whatever I may think of these orders, they come from the Doge, and I cannot disobey them."

"Will you transport the First Legion at least?"

"I have strict orders not to."

"Vendro lo strangolato con le sue viscere!" Rienzus spat again, loudly, only just being able to contain himself. "We shall have to do it ourselves then. You are dismissed Admiral. Tell your Doge that he is a craven dog, and that I will take his insults out on his hide, if not his city!" His tone was loud, but not frothing rage. He was angry, but had not lost all reason. For his part, the Admiral just took it in the stoic manner befitting a seasoned navy man, though his hand did drift closer to his sword in case he needed to defend himself. Still, once the Princeps' tirade had ended, he turned and left, ordering his ships to begin preparation to sail.

Rienzus issued similar orders to his fleet, embarking the first legion on part of the fleet for transport, while the others sailed off with the Aviators and Florentine Aeronaughts to patrol around Crete.

...

Corinth, Morea


note:that divine voice is a man singing falsetto

Sir Gautier Dubois, Knight Commander the Province of Morea stood in his War Room moving little pieces on a massive board, representing a rough hewn map of Morea and Hellas, with little cut-outs representing the fortresses at Isthmia and Rio, as well as the city walls of Corinth and Patras. A squire walked into the room just as he was beginning to organize his forces to issue orders.

"My Lord. The Roman Aviators have spotted the Ottoman army between Larissa and Athens. Initial reports say sixty thousand, but that includes camp-followers, and a large baggage and siege train. About half the army is falling back behind the rest with the siege equipment. Sextus Caecilius Visor thinks they may have two destinations, but he is uncertain. His fellows will have more details when they return."

"How long?"

"Four days, my Lord. Maybe five."

"Very well. Order the magistrates to evacuate all outlying settlements. Bring in all provisions, even the seed left over from planting, and every grain of powder. Slaughter what chattel cannot be brought within the walls of cities and fortresses and burn the carcasses."
...

Across the province, the guards of all the minor towns and villages came into the home of every citizen, ordering them to take what supplies they could and go to the nearest walled settlement. What food they could not carry or chattel they could not lead was to be put in carts for transport by soldiers. Still, the roads were good and it did not take even four days to get eveyone locked up safely inside Patras or Corinth with the vast majority of their larders in tact.

Soldiers took up positions on the walls and in towers, while the cannon were readied to be mobilized to different positions along the fortifications. Fortresses were fully manned, and the Morea made ready for War.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:36 am 
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Near Athens, Hellas

Zaganos Pasha grumbled on his horse and spat a curse as another report of one of the flying machines reached him. For now, the Akinci and Spahi were keeping themselves busy chasing after the flying machines as they appeared, and once they'd set up an ambush that managed to get them close enough to actually fire arrows, at the things, though they'd missed by a wide margin. Zaganos was an old, bitter, hard Greek. He'd been a soldier of the Ottoman Empire for longer than most people had been alive and he was in his seventh decade. He did not like flying machines, he did not trust them. That the enemy was now using them to spy on him made him dislike the machines even more. To make matters worse he'd just gotten reports that the Romans had put enough troops on Crete to invade Anatolia if they so chose, throwing the whole army into confusion that was not helped by the fact that the Janissaries were no longer in sight.

Still, the troops were nothing if not focused. The Mullahs had made the rounds, reassuring the men of their imminent victory in Morea. As always, he was not privy to the details of Mehmet's plan, but it seemed as daring as ever. With only half the army, the mission would be slightly more difficult. But it was still possible. He had to control the isthmus and get the galleys across at least. Once that was done, they could gain at least some control of the Gulf, which would make the rest of their work considerably easier. As the sun began to set, the army came to a halt and a few minutes later the call to prayer began. Hoping off of his horse, Zaganos laid his prayer mat out and prostrated himself facing East, towards Mecca.

The Janissary Corps
As the call to prayer ended, the Janissary troops, some of the most feared men in the East, began to march again. The going was slow, carrying so many cannons. But there were three principles to Ottoman sieges. Trenches, waves of men, and cannons. Thus far it has served the Ottomans well and it was not uncommon to see a Janissary taking better care in picking out his shovel than in his gun. The Beyliks, the personal troops of the Sultan himself, the most well trained men in the East, and they would argue in the world, began to assist in setting up camp. Their distinctive armor shimmering in the fading light as the swirls that were claimed to be the 100 names of Allah written 100 times on each set of armor.

The set up of camp was quick and efficient, with the promise of more marching once dawn broke again. The Ottomans prepared themselves for their continued journey. The fleet that had been shadowing both armies lay anchored in a nearby cove. With the morning, the heavy elements of the Imperial Navy would break away from the rest of the troops and begin their long journey around the Morean coast as the rest of the fleet moved towards Corinth. The Imperial fleet would not be the only one to move away from the obvious path either. The Janissaries would move away from their designated path, begin traveling along the Northern shore of the Gulf of Corinth. From here on, they would not have the benefit of so many camp fires, or to be as loud. With any luck, they would arrive relatively unexpected at the gates of Rio.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:40 am 
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Ionian Sea, 150 miles from Otranto
Roman Galleon Chiron

"Princeps?"

Lucius Rienzus stood at the rail, staring out over the unbroken water. A dozen ships loomed off the starboard side of the Chiron, wending their way through the light seas northward. The rest of the fleet was to port or behind, while overhead, an ornithopter went its way around the puffy clouds, keeping watch for bad weather or enemies ahead.

The voice did not repeat itself, but Lucius Rienzus did not turn around immediately, preferring instead to watch the waves and the water. After ten seconds or so, he finally resigned himself to turning, and found, as usual, the Navarch awaiting him.

"Ludovicius Fiescius," said the Princeps. "How rides the fleet."

"All sails well, Princeps," said Luigi de' Fieschi, a Genoese sailor whose family had been commanding flotillas of ships for seven generations, "save that the Cincinnatus reports a man fell from the rigging to his death."

Rienzus commanded himself not to flinch. The Cincinnatus was one of the few ships the Empire possessed that was actually Roman-built and Roman-crewed. Romans were a fine people, but sailors they were not. Fortunately, Italy was well-supplied with nautical peoples, and the Empire tended to recruit its navy therefrom. It was therefore something of a point of pride for the Genoese, the Spezians, or the Neapolitans to remark, whenever possible, on the ineptitude of properly Roman sailors.

"Anything else to report, Navarch?"

"I have the reports from the Aviators," said the Admiral. "As you requested."

"And what do they say?"

"No change from the last three days, Princeps. The main body of the Turcian army marches west along the northern coast of the Gulf of Corinth. The remainder enters the Megarid, bearing for Corinth and Isthmia."

"And their fleet?"

"They round Cape Matapan as we speak, sailing west and north. We cannot know their minds, Lord, but if they do intend to assault Crete, this is a most... unorthodox method."

Rienzus nodded a moment. "The Turcians are beginning to frighten me," he said. "They appear to be doing exactly what they said they would."

The Navarch smirked. "How barbaric of them," he said.

"Is there any indication that they may shift targets?"

"My Lord, the Turcians may decide tomorrow to invade the moon for all we know. But for the moment, they would appear to be descending on Morea with tremendous force. If that is not their actual intention, then they are certainly going to extreme lengths to make it appear so. The sheer cost of provisioning an army that size will despoil half of Hellas."

"I knew the Hospitaliers had made themselves an annoyance. I did not know they had earned a reply of this magnitude."

"One can only kidnap the Sultan's daughter so many times, before the headman comes knocking."

"So it would appear. Is there any news from Sicilia?"

"None save the usual. Intrigues, broadsheets, riots of various sorts. Several important nobles have been poisoned. I have the list somewhere."

"I can barely keep Genoa's brood straight. I refuse to even attempt Palermo's."

The Admiral, to his credit, did not show a reaction. "Nothing else then. But in Gaul it is another matter."

Rienzus raised an eyebrow. "War?"

"Without question. The English cry perfidy in all the proper ways. They will march on Occitania before the Spring is out, or so claims our ambassador."

Rienzus nodded, but remained silent for a moment. "How strange a fate it is that we should finally find a way to pull ourselves back together at just the moment Gaul chooses to fly all to pieces again."

"It will not be in pieces for long, according to the message we received."

"Our Embassy claims the English will win then?"

"Our Embassy claims the English will not even have to. The King of Occitania is young and brash, and feels he can conquer the world with chivalry and a strong sword-arm."

"And who, exactly, is to say that he is wrong?"

"A thousand score of English knights, bowmen, and Men-at-arms, I should imagine. The Furia Francesse has been notably absent of late. Some say the Black Death put an end to it for good."

Rienzus smiled. "I should think, Ludovicius Fiescius, that you and yours would know well the most important lesson of history."

"And what lesson is that, my lord?"

Rienzus turned away with a sigh, back to the water and the waves.

"Empires do not die. They merely hide themselves until it is time to be reborn."

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Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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