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Ten years ago, a super volcano erupted in the northern hemisphere on what is now known as “The Smoldering Isles”, causing widespread destruction, famine, and strife across world of Othea. Now the year is 1937 and the world for the first time is clawing its way out of the ashes of the old one. With the balance of power flipped on its head, new forces strive to assert their power across the globe, through diplomacy or war.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Skepic
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Skepic Spookbuster

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“Chaos isn’t merely one side of the coin. It’s the metal itself. You foolishly think that this is two of a kind. Order and Chaos. But you see, this, is why you have failed. Chaos is everywhere and in everything. Order, disorder, these things are both products of it. You try to organize it, harness its power, tame it to your will, all while completely naive to the fact that you are merely the result of it. This, is why you will never win.”

In the ashes of the old world,
shadows begin to stir… In the days before, the great powers of the world were kept in check by a fragile balance of force and diplomacy. For decades, scholars and philosophers debated what action of man or beast would shatter the “Great Silence” that persisted. It was not the hands of men or the hands of beast that would shatter the Great Silence, but the roar of Othea itself. In the fateful year of 1927, the world was shaken as a super volcano on the home isles of Fenice erupted, covering the northern hemisphere in layers of ash and throwing the world into chaos. For many nations, famine became the norm as the globe covered in a miniature ice age. Global markets collapsed, long standing dynasties shattered, and for many, it seemed as though the end of days had finally come.

As it happened, however, it was not the end… no matter how much we wished it had been. For with this great cataclysm, came opportunity for many others. Nations who were once backwaters or servants to greater masters now found the perfect moment to reshape the world in their own image.

Now, as the ice finally thaws on a particularly long winter, gears begin to turn, plans put into motion, and industries hum to life with awakening of a new era.

On the Oyessia, tensions are reaching a boiling point as three powers via for dominance of the continent. Already, rumors spread that the collection of smaller states have had their days numbered, as secret packs are formed and made. These three powers, oceans apart in ideology and goals yet only a stones throw from each other, will soon be at one another’s throats.

To the south, on Pandyssia, an uneasy peace threatens to spiral rapidly out of control as the Storm Empire begins to interact with the world more and the mysterious floating city state only known as “The Flotilla” drifts over. All the while, Fenice braces itself as native Pandyssians stare hungrily at the now vulnerable colony.

Across the Great Othean Ocean, on Tyviern, Fenice struggles desperately to keep of the facade of being a great empire, while its capital is buried beneath lava and ash. Sensing the weakness, the Volsinii Empire and the Republic of Avalia seek to establish influence over the western portion of the continent, rekindling the long historical rivalry between the two nations. The smaller nations along the Verronto Sea also aim to gain power, with the hopes of throwing out Fenice puppet states and regaining their lost territories. On the eastern portion of Tyviern, Greater Talania has once again started making ripples in the region, stating its ambitions and being to make moves to assure absolute dominance in the region while the Empire of Usoma continues to quietly bide its time. Soven-Ampara and Adria brace for this aggression, and the possibility for all out war is becoming more likely by the day.

To the south in Karakus, the news of two great old enemies gearing up once again has somewhat overshadowed the curious discovery of a city state ran entirely by automatons. Not much is known at this point, but murmurs of both wonders of science and witchcraft have become more frequent out the great desert that spans the continent. Fantasies aside, it is far more clear that Acrad and Hastur will be once again facing off under the unforgiving Karakus sun. With mystery still shrouding the Radiant Emperor, many could not deny his own ambitions. Further south the isolationist of the Hsir Confederacy stand seemingly unaware of its giant neighbor’s ambitions. The Four Kingdoms of the great Karakus rain-forest continue to squabble over river rights and coastline, while Elyr braces for the worst.

With the nations of the world seeing this as the time in which all of history itself hinges on, there is one force that sees this as merely the completion of the second step towards a greater goal. Forces older than even the world itself stir in the peripherals of the world’s vision, just out of sight. This eruption, this resharpening, is only the opening act to a grand play.
Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Roby6Com
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"Gentlemen, time has come to intervene and seek justice for ourselves, for no one will deliver it to us. It's been one year since Ovald Regix has taken the seat of General Commander, and already we've suffered losses of millions of marks due to his governmental regulations on trade, workforce and countless false ethics imposed on us. Our families, economy and employees suffer as a result of his quest for political dominance and popular support among the rabble of the streets. I am afraid we've hit a wall, my dear colleagues and ex-market rivals. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Our only hope lies in Hastur as our dummy. We all know that Acrad thirsts for blood, especially from the South. This is an opportunity we should not waste. It's only a matter of weeks, perhaps days until an outright war shall be declared between Acrad and Hastur, when the time is right, when the those loyal to that dictator shall be occupied with leading a foolish war, that's when we have to act and dethrone this...this socialist good-for-nothing oppressor. All I ask is that you all stand by my side, and we shall usher into a new era of prosperity both for our companies and our nation. When the time of action will come, I will signal you all, until then, be vigilant and careful."

The speech carried weight across the room, Sir Yuden Bontvon made himself well understood, after all he was one of the richest and most powerful corporate CEOs across Acrad and not only. Many of the nation's most richest and powerful people were sitting in the room, whispering to one another about possibilities, opportunities and risks. Gangsters, bankers, generals and political figures seemingly put aside their bickering in order to focus on their common enemy, General Commander Ovald Regix, which has proven to be quite the political adversary against the leading elite of Acrad. The common folk love him, he has the army in his hand and is proving each day to be well versed in the arts of political warfare, however Yuden Bontvon had his fair share of experiences in life in his 40 years of being the CEO of his family's business conglomerate, and he will stop at nothing to hold unto his influence and power.

-----------------------



A young man adorned in military garments made his way hastly through the lavish corridors, delivering precious documents on time to Ovald, who was enjoying his imported coffe in one of the lobbies, together with many of his trusted advisors and colleagues. One of the documents revealed a strong connection between hasturian northern warlords and the Desert Rats. Spoils were being split equally between the warlords and the Rats, with reported losses of thousands of oil barrels from acradian oil rigs. Violent raids have displaced many small settlements across the southern border and the Rats seem to increase their arsenal day by day with the financial aid from the warlords.

"Unacceptable...this is outrageous. Send an official declaration to both the national and international press regarding these documents. I want the whole world to see this in order to build up our political credibility. Declare that Acrad is now pulling out of any political and economical agreement with Hastur as of now, and send a formal ultimatum to the hasturian emperor regarding the demobilization of hasturian forces along the entire southern border and establish a demilitarized buffer zone of roughly 200 kilometers between our nations or else Acrad will have to take all the actions needed to secure it's borders against hasturian aggression...Also, send diplomatic missions to Andria and Talania in order to establish secure food trade routes in order to stockpile and prepare our nations for any potential military intervention. Send a formal request to Avalia for a non-aggression pact and a dual research agreement regarding the military of our nations. As of now, the General Assembly must be ready for any potential nationwide mobilization of forces." The various generals and political figures surrounding Ovald Regix proceeded to nod in understandment and head right away, leaving the General Commander to enjoy his coffe, overlooking the city from the window.

Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Trinais
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The Palace of Pearls Dining Terrace, Coral City, 8:32 AM (Local Time)



"The use of money is all the advantage there is in having money." - Benjamin Franklin


The coffee was cold by the time the meeting convened, and Queen Kumena asked that a servant kindly put a new pot on for her guests. An oversight on her part- Kumena assumed the courier from The Glass Bank meant the Chancellor Tishana and Foreign Secretary Vona would arrive within the hour. Apparently there was more to the notes coming in than could be translated onto a single piece of paper for the courier. It could've been an entire state dinner about to knock on her door and Kumena would have no more notice than the single 3 x 5 paper, "News from Acrad re: Hastur. State and Bank en route ASAP. Summon Cabinet at discretion."

At discretion meant "wake them up now" in diplomatic speak, and though the people surrounding the dining hall's table were not exactly in their Sunday Best, Kumena opted to wear her own informal sea-silk gown to put them at ease regarding the formalities. The fabric held water against her green scaled skin far longer than most and didn't give off a rank mildew smell, unlike terrestrial fabrics. Cabinet meetings tended to run long, and she'd rather not call a halt for a quick dip in the sea to refresh her gills if it could be helped.

"Well Tishana, Vona," Kumena said as she settled into her own chair, "I'll have cheese, cold cuts and toast on the way from the kitchen. But if this is going to be a working meeting and not a social call, I think we should get to the point of it. What's the news from State?"

Foreign Secretary Vona, a human man easily two meters tall and with the markings of a Rahuri Cacique tattooed on his wrists, opened his briefcase and produced a set of documents.

"We received a long chain of telegraph communications at approximately 11:20 PM Acrad District 1 Time. Or rather, we started to receive the communications then. They only wrapped up some time ago. The Assembly has its knickers in a bunch, your majesty. The Assembly is working immediately to address a crisis in Hastur that is blowing into war."

"On what provocation are they preparing to march?"

"Raiding parties along the border, from what I understand. The Desert Rats, in conjunction with Hasturian Warlords, are hitting oil reserves and selling them to... unscrupulous merchant cartels for quick profit."

"Any of ours?"

Tishana cleared her throat, the human woman accepting a coffee cup from a passing servant with a tray. "No state-sponsored cartels. Certainly none with a clearance for the Golden Armada. But I've had my staff look into the Coral Exchange and it seems the Dresdal Shipping Conglomorate has seen a 5% uptick in price in the past two weeks. It took us the better part of seven years to get international commerce to a level where the Exchange could be reopened and functional, so even that modest of an increase is noticeable. Dresdal elbowed its way onto the Exchange by delivering a few bruisings to its competitors, and they're one of the biggest merchant conglomerates we have doing business with Hastur. Seventeen ships, and 12 are dedicated to moving Hasturian crude."

"But again- none in the Golden Fleet?"

"At this time, no, Your Grace," Vona said, said without a smile. "He's applied for his Letters, but the ships haven't been inspected by the Navy yet. Schedule conflicts, and our own knowledge of his shoot-from-the-hip style. We don't have to worry about Johnathan Dresdal starting a shooting war for us. But this does put our fingers in the pie, so to speak. We may not be buying the crude, but we're moving a portion of it from the sellers to some of the buyers."

"What punitive actions can we take?"

"Legally, plenty," Tishana noted. "We could strip him of his ships per international laws against piracy- but those laws were written before the Age of Ash. Most signatories to those treaties either no longer exist or don't have the power to stop us. The demand for oil is so great right now that only Acrad would demand our compliance under the treaties. Politically though, it presents a challenge. Jonathan Dresdal is a card-carrying member of the Rahuri Worker's Party. We command a majority in Parliament, but the RWP has been making steady gains in elections. Going after him over a treaty that has no teeth would definitely look like a political hit. It'll burn some political capital we can't afford to spend at the moment, especially with all the effort we put into getting the old systems up and running again.

Gishath, the blue-skinned Merfolk Minister of Agriculture, couldn't keep his distaste for the RWP from seeping into the conversation, even unprompted. "We just restored credibility in the Glass Bank and began getting international trade up and running again. Can you imagine what it would do if the RWP got enough power to force through the Welfare Plan they've been making their new platform? It'd set us back to post-Eruption societal levels."

Of course you'd be worried, Kumena thought. Your Farmers Association Party is the old aristocracy's last hope of returning to power- and we can afford to kick you out of the coalition and still hold power. The RWP are ready to tear you down at the ankles if given the chance. I can't believe you're spouting your party propaganda at a cabinet meeting though, as if we believe the lines you feed the Financial Times. We all know the transition to civilian infrastructure and welfare has to take place or we'll end up as a collapsed Empire like Fenice. Only the ashes will come from our own citizens burning the cities down. The RWP will get their cake. They just need to be patient about it.

"Alright," Kumena said. "So Dresdal is waving his jewels in the face of Arcad and we can't strip him of his charter without breaking apart The Plan. Alternatives?"

Surprisingly, it was Nezahl, the human Minister of Defence, who spoke up. His heavy baritone voice carried across the dining hall despite his best efforts to keep it level. "I spoke with Tishana on our trip here, Your Grace, and I may have something. Military action by Arcad against us is unlikely at this time. They were some of the first to get their corporations listed on the Coral Exchange, and many of their oligarchs have personal Vaults within the Glass Bank. A shooting war would sink their recovery efforts and cause more problems for them than solutions. But if you need time, I have a solution to offer. The Navy can quarantine Dresdal's ships when they make port to conduct the inspections to approve or reject them from the Golden Fleet. We'll reject them, obviously, but having his life-blood locked up in dry dock for weeks at a time will put the hurt on him. I'll reject the ships at the end of it, but he'll learn his lesson or have to stop making dirty money off of two superpowers about to blow themselves to pieces."

Queen Kumena nodded. "Do it immediately. Every ship that makes port from his cartel gets flagged, and none of them are to be approved. Vona, I want a note disavowwing his actions prepared at the Foreign Office. If Arcad makes noise, send it over to them. Under the table, get word to Ovald. We'll rein in Jonathan Dresdal as his ships make port, but not before. The vessels in the Verronto Sea are out of our reach. If he needs to scare Dresdal off with warning shots, we'll protest loudly as expected but we won't shoot back. If he shoots back, the guns are illegal and he can be prosecuted as a pirate."

There were murmurs of agreement around the table from the cabinet ministers.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, in light of the mess Arcad and Hastur may soon start, I would like to take a moment to visit the proposal of the South Osean Treaty Organization. Are we in agreement about invitations to our neighbors?"

---

Telegraph line to the Foreign Secretaries/Speakers of the United State of Coreshaw, Anglonia-Eirin, Kazatrea and Fenice. Dispatched 8:41 PM Verdasou Time.

Illustrious Neighbor,

Her Majesty, Queen Kumena of Southern Verdasou wishes to extend a diplomatic invitation toward your government. Now that the age of Ash and Ice has ended and the sun shines on the world once more, we seek to establish an alliance and ordering of the continent to ensure our shared security and prosperity. Said Conference to begin in three weeks' time, though ambassadors are welcome to travel to Coral City at their leisure.

We pray you shall accept this invitation.

- Foreign Secretary Vona of Southern Verdasou, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.


------------------------------------------------------------------------


Summary:

* Southern Verdasou has an independent company (the Dresdal Cartel) moving some of the seized crude oil from Hastur to the international markets. The cartel is viewed unfavorably but is a publicly traded company on the Public Exchange.

* Her Majesty cannot seize the ships without triggering a domestic political crisis.

* Slow, under the table communications will begin with Arcad disavowing the Dresdal Cartel's actions, and establishing a red line from which Her Majesty's Government will take action.

* The Queen has invited United State of Coreshaw, Anglonia-Eirin, and Fenice to a security conference in Coral City with the intention to form a unified economic and security zone in the Southlands.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by eemmtt
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[The southern lands of the Volsinii Empire]
[Centurion Sidonius, 5th Maniple, 12th Celeia legion]

Rain and mud that had been the Centurion world for the past few months. Thawing has triggered a monsoon along with flooding from the mountains turning the area into a marsh. But his legion was still sent south to put more pressure on the elven rebels. Sidonius assumed that Imperial high command are getting impatient with how long it was taking the 4th and 7th Celeia legions to crush the revolts. But regardless of the reasoning Sidonius had his orders and the rain was not helping. As here he was trying to get another truck that stuck in the muck out of it.

"Put your backs into it lads!" He barked to the legionaries as they pushed the truck as its wheels spun fruitlessly trying to find a grip. Each of them were nearly up to there knees in mud. They had spent the last 20 minutes trying to free it. The rain was making a cacophony of noise. With fat droplets pinging on the men and vehicles but over the noise a sharp crack echoed out. Its significant was not realized in till a legionary next of Sidonius dropped dead.

"Sniper!" He shouted as several more cracks echoed from the hills as they rushed for cover. The centurion dove behind a truck he quickly surveyed the scene before him. Several legionaries are dead laying face first in the mud while the rest try to return fire on the snipers. Sidnonius grab one of the nearby legionaries "Were in the name Virmar is our armor!?" yelling at him.

"I don't know sir," the legionary quickly blurted out.

"Then find them and bring them up here NOW!" He shouted causing the legionary to quickly scamper off to find the tanks. Several minutes later the snipers were cleared out when the tanks pumped a few cannon rounds into the hills. With the snipers dealt with the casualties were treated. The truck was dragged out by a tank leaving Centurion Sidonius to look over the blood stain mud with the rain ever falling.
=========================================================================================================================================
[Imperial Place, Volsinii]
[Imperial council chamber]

The room was heavy with the smell of cigar smoke and Volsinii whiskey. In the center of the room was a rectangular table at the head was Emperor Messor Aetius. Around the rest of the table was the member of his triumvirate or the men selected to carry out his will. First to his right was Imperatoris Marcus Tybal commander of the imperial army. Across from him was Procurator Euclio Bruccius who directed the imperial bureaucracy. And at the end of the table was the High Justiciar Virgo Siculus highest judge within the empire.

"How long do you think the rebels will last for now that the 12th was sent ?" Messor asked nursing his whiskey.

"Soon. The legions will contain them into a smaller and smaller area. Then we will finished them off." Imperatoris Tybal replied taking a puff from his cigar.

"Once they are defeated we must focus on rebuilding imperial prestige. Several of the nations near us once submitted to the imperial throne. We shall remind them there oaths they took decades ago." Messor pause to take a deep swing of his whiskey. "Be polite first. But I want military options ready if they do not honor the old treaties. We shall adjourned for now." The three members of the triumvirate bowed before leaving the emperor.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by FrostedCaramel
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Ice City 31 "Patna", Ranian Autonomous Zone
Greater Chirian People's Republic



The incessant din of the rain was distracting, the constant pitter patter gnawed at the edge of Alibek's sanity and put him even further toward the edge that he already felt far too close to. Fumbling in his pocket for a moment the dark of night would be briefly beaten back as his lighter flicked to life just in front of his face, a soft orange hue highlighting the trembling in his hand as he held the cigarette still in between his lips and let the tip catch on the shuddering flame. Alibek took a long breath in, allowing the familiar burn of the smoke in his lungs to set him at ease with its small comfort. Leaning forward where he sat he'd watch as the smoke trailed off the end of the lit cigarette and disappeared into the night above him before checking his watch. Alibek cursed silently as he realized how close it was to curfew.

Taking one last pull and checking to make sure he was still alone on the backstreet he'd stand from his perch on a set of stairs and toss his cigarette down. Not stopping to stomp out the still burning cigarette at his feet as he turned to make down the cramped street to a dimly lit building two away from where he'd sat. Coming up to the door he'd rap lightly at the wood. Shuffling uncomfortably in the rain he'd knock again only to stop as the grille in the door opened quickly. The sound of hushed voices and warm light stabbed out of the open grille into the darkness behind Alibek before it abruptly shut and a number of locks could be heard as they clicked open. The door opened and a hand quickly bundled Alibek inside the building as the door shut behind him.

"The fuck you doing Ali? You're supposed to be watching tonight, not joining in." the voice of the man at the door; Aydar; chastised him at a whisper. Ali turned to the other men huddled around a small table stacked with banned books just two meters away as they watched him with curious and uneasy gazes.

"We've only twenty," he raised his watch to check the time again, "nineteen minutes until curfew, you're taking to long. Everyone needs to start leaving now." Alibek stated as he once more shuffled uncomfortably where he stood, unable to shake the feeling of all the eyes currently on him. He turned to Aydar as he sighed and waved at those still huddled around the table.

"Get that shit packed let's go." Aydar said, the anger of earlier gone. The older gentlemen turned to Ali and gave him a friendly slap on the back as he turned him back for the door, "They'll get the books gone, no need for you to stick around anymore. Can be the first to go you." he said with a smile as he unlatched the many locks on the door and began to pull it open for Ali.

"Sure yeah. That works." Alibek agreed, relieved that he didn't have to be one of the last to leave, first he'd have plenty of time to make it home before curfew, before the Milicja would ask any questions about why he was out. Turning to Aydar he offered him a smile and made to step out the opening in the door just as something pressed through to come at him. Without enough time to even yell a warning Alibek was slammed into the wall at his side by the Security Division trooper before he took the butt of the troopers rifle to the jaw and sprawled to the floor.

The room broke into panic as a full team of Security division troopers came through the door, easily subduing the aging Aydar and pressing on toward the table of men as they struggled to climb for the windows high above them.

The flash of submachine gun fire was quickly followed by the high pitched roll of the shots. All of which was barely noticeable over the downpour outside except for those that were listening. Security Division Commissar Osmar Valentin stood just down the block, staring up toward the house that had been the alleged meeting place of a den of book smugglers. Commissar Valentin keyed his radio and waited a second before speaking, "Sergeant Anuar, what's the verdict?" he stated calmly.

There was a pause and the telltale chirp of the radio coming to life in his ear, "Info was correct Commissar, book smugglers. Looks to be some serious stuff. Anti-Party, anti-occupation, even a few posters calling for resistance." the Sergeant called over the radio, the rain creating an even fuzzier distortion than normal.

"Good collect it all. Categorize it and dispose of it as always." Valentin said before releasing the mic button. Receiving a curt confirmation from Sergeant Anuar he'd begin to walk toward the building. Stepping over the smashed in door and acknowledging the security trooper that snapped to attention as he entered he'd step over the whimpering body of a young man he'd survey the room as the troopers went about collecting all of the banned materials. Eyeing the bullet holes leading up the wall toward a window he'd step over the crumpled and shivering form of an older man and stop over the lifeless body beneath the window. With a tinge of disgust he'd turn away from the growing pool of blood and bring his attention to the two troopers guarding a huddle of bound men, "Take them to Stalsja, we'll dispose of them there. This home can be salvaged for use of those loyal to the Party, no need to soil it if we don't have to." he stated simply before making his way back into the rain.

As the unmarked cargo trucks of the Security Division pulled up in front of the building the troopers on guard detail led the gaggle of dissidents from the house and began to walk them to the waiting trucks. Valentin watched silently from the side, the sound of the rain randomly accented by misfiring engines. Valentin watched as the guards pushed the first two men up into the bed of the truck before struggling with the third man who was moving and shaking the troopers hands off of him as they attempted to heft him inside. "Aside." Valentin stated clearly as he smoothly unholstered his sidearm and brought it level to the mans head. The troopers without second thought let go of the struggling man and stepped away at almost the exact moment that the Commissar's handgun boomed in the night.

"Anyone else have more pride than common sense?" Valentin asked the other dissidents, handgun held loosely at his side. None of the men said a word, "Good." the Commissar said as he noticed one of the dissidents look toward him before averting his eyes quickly. With a smirk he raised the handgun and took the mans face off with a single round, "I trust you can all get into the truck without our assistance." he stated to the bound men before motioning at the open bed. The dissidents shuffled quickly forward and heaved themselves up as best they could. Valentin watched as they struggled, but one by one they climbed into the back and the bed of the truck was closed after two troopers hopped in with the dissidents.

"To Stalsja." Valentin spoke into the radio before the trucks jumped into gear and drove off down the road.
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Royal Court of Elyr, City of Pyrewood, Province of Yespium, Elyr.


The Elyrian Royal Court. One of Elyr's most beautiful buildings, both inside and out. Home of the Monarchy for over 600 years. A stunning piece  of architecture, decorated with green marble pillars, ornate statues and plants. A small crowd of noble looking people stand dotted around the room, tittering away in their own distinct groups. The Queen, smothered in her emerald green ensemble, was perched at the very edge of her throne, engaged deeply in conversation with a woman sat to her left; Orlette, her húsceorl. A much younger woman than the queen, with firey hair and a matching temper. Much in contrast to most of the court, Orlette wore dark cloths, hues of grey and blue; symbols of the Academy. Like the Queen, she held a cup of fine porcelain, filled to the brim with the finest of Rorik's latest tea harvest.

"This morning we recieved news of Acrad, first from our network, but then further reinforced by official communications from the office of the General Commander" continued Orlette, somewhat flippantly. Taking another sip of tea she continued. "Acrad have finally discovered the source of the 'Desert Rat' problem. As we'd suspect; Hastur. Funding the raider's campaign and buying the spoils.. Nothing that we import for the public sector I hasten to add, I checked that out for myself when the reports first caught my attention a few weeks ago" she added, provoking a small sigh of relief from the Queen.

"And Acrad?" Questioned Bree, anxious as to what response the, admittedly, militant state might take. "Is there any news on their actions?"

"It looks like there is a high chance their gearing up for war. I'm assuming this is why you didn't release this information to them in the first place? Knowing there was potential to be dragged into conflict?"

A solemn nod came from the Queen, followed by scowl. "I think we need to call the Parliament together. Now that it has officially been released they deserve to know, and they need decide whether Hastur deserves any sanctions from Elyr" she finished, downing the last drips of tea and reaching for her notepad. Hastily writing down a messege to be sent to the Ministers, handing it off to Orlette to deliver to her communications officer. It read simply: "Emergency Meeting to be called. Potential hostilities to the north. All available at such short notice assemble at 3 o'clock."

Ravenhold Maximum Security Prison, West Coast, Province of Endrea, Elyr.


Footsteps echod across the stone hallways, partially drowned out by the shrieks of other inmates and the running of water down halls and dark passages. Alone in the cell was a young man, face hidden in the shadows and partially obscured by unkempt hair, sat hunched over the rotting wooden beam that was his bed; back bathed in pale moonlight emanating from the barred window. Dressed only in the simplest of cloth, he was in a state if silent contemplation. Apart from the bed, the rest of the room was adorned only with a bucket, and a carpeted floor of damp moss.

The footsteps approached, slowly with each pat against the masonry getting louder. The man's ears pricked up. Definetly more than one person. Two. One with a slightly odd gait, a limp perhaps? He lifted his head up, hoping to discern part of their hushed conversation from the surrounding noise. Judging from their tones, it was two men. One was assumedly a prison guard, but the other...

"You know who he is, don't you? I mean, how could you not know? After what he did..." Whispered one of them, voice bearly audible over the raucous. Both pair of footsteps stopped suddenly, almost as if one was squaring up to the other. A deep breath could be heard, followed by a sigh.

"I know who he is, I know what he has done, and to be quite frank I most likely know a lot more about him than you do. I don't want to be up here any more than you do. So if you have finished your complaints, may we continue, sir?" The second man spat at the guard, foot falls restarting for a few moments, before coming to a stop outside the door. Both figures peered in, their faces silhouetted by the flickering torch light behind them.

"This one?" The second man asked, sounding unsure.
"This one" the guard affirmed solumnly. Inserting his key into the seizing lock, with a grunt of effort and the screaming of stressed metal on metal, the bolt slid across. The guard looked in once more, before pulling away with disgust; opening the door just wide enough for the second man to walk through.

As he stepped across the threshold he looked down at the floor, seeming to be looking for somewhere safe to stand. With a sigh of resignstion he gave in, and stood right in a patch of moss with an audible squelch. He seemed too well dressed to be visiting a place like this, a deep emerald cloak layered above an assortment of dark green clothing; in his left hand a case of some sort, the seal of Elyr just visible on its side. A consort of the Queen herself it appears. As he had suspected, the man possessed a limp, apparent with each step he took and a slight slouch in his posture.

"You are Vipir, correct? Convicted 3 years ago of the attempted, and might I say the most successful, assassination of Queen Bree the Second of Elyr. Due to spend a life sentence, minimum of 30 years, in this miserable hole?" Each word sounding planned. Rehursed... formal.

Vipir gave a quiet affirmation to each of the questions, apprehensive of where this was leading. Was this a royalist, come to execute him? He kept quiet however, eyeing up the case and looking for ways to escape should things turn sour.

"In that case then, I have come with an offer. A choice if you will. And if you agree, than I am to officially pardon you, by the authority of the Parliament of the Peoples, much to my personal distaste I will have you know. Fail to accept this offer, or to carry out it's full terms, and I will personally ensure that you find somewhere even filthier than here to live out the entirety of your life"

Vipir's face lit up at the sound of freedom, and he began hanging onto every word the man said, slowly processing the information until he came to the only logical question to ask after such a preposition.

"And what are the 'full terms' of this offer?"

...
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Slagar Lord of Disappointment, Witch King of Saltmar

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=-=Year 443, Usoma, Northern Tyverien=-=
=-=The Shadow over Ugolanbrav=-=


High in the office of the Grand Overseer, Kedican Whilstov held his hands behind his back, looking out over the city of Ugolanbrav. Years of survival led to a society of order and command, and its streets were ever busy. From the corner to his left he could see the busy work of men loading new batches of coal into warehouses, along with other materials. Hothouse farmsteads where to his right, where countless specialized botanists, farmers, and workmen delicately kept up the insulation needed to grow crops in small but important batches. Yet, to the center of his office was a grand walk, one of the few organized pieces of art dedicated to any Usoman city, a elongated courtyard were merchant stalls all ran from the main government offices and rich districts, to the docks beyond. It was the centerpiece of Usoman life here in Ugolanbrav, and only one figure amongst thousands was walking along which interested him. The pane of glass which allowed him to see from the height of the office across the entire snow laden landscape was the only light within the office, and too his side, Kedican’s friend and Propaganda adviser joined him in the viewing.

“It be nicer if the flags were actually colorful.” Spoke Charles White.
“Perhaps, but it's hard enough to find dyes here without attacking some savage tribe for it.” replied Kedican.

“Perhaps we should get down to some business then instead of looking out a window at the fine peasants and slaves keeping this wonderful civilization from collapsing, eh?” Charles replied with cheek. Yet, he relented whe Kedican only coldly turned around and turned on a lamp and sat down at his office desk.

“First things first, a lot of people are concerned about the mob attacks. Militias I am about half certain are helping them at this point.” Charles produced a paper and flopped it down on the desk “Signatures from 12 folks saying Richard Wiley is the main boss, merchant’s son turned attempted revolutionary in Sigard.”

“Kill him.” Kedican replied

“You sure? Might turn him into a martyr.”
“Did you plan to just go up to him and shoot him in broad daylight? I mean take him out of the city and shoot him and then drown the body.” Kedican said with some frustration “These pseudo liberals make me almost regretful for supporting reform, now all they talk about is my supposed incompetence.”

Kedican lit a light and took out a cigar, imported from Fenice. He lit it and began to smoke “Make sure that those morons in the Militia actually get the right person this time.”

“As you say.” Charles replied. He shuffled through his coat pockets and pulled out a scout report. “Also, your scouts from the north regions sound concerned still. Tusab are still warring with the Bloodtusk and Wrecktusk out there, and Sigard’s Overseer is still shitting his pants over it.”

“Any idea what it is over?”

“No clue, sir. Jus--” As Charles was about to inform, they were interrupted by the door suddenly opening and stepped in a large and bulky figure. His white winter overcoat made him out as a elite soldier of Usoma, but his recycled metal pins on his jacket made him a bit more higher in rank.

Davie Bullem.” Kedican greeted coldly. “You should knock more often.”

Davie, or Dave, or David, the name not exactly mattered, he was a skilled scout with a long list of brave and pragmatic skills which made him currently the most skilled and talented of Usoma’s soldiers, or at least in the eyes of Ugolanbrav’s people. Davie arrived unarmed, and looking red from both the cold and from anger. “It is bad enough I have to come unarmed, get my fucking gun taken from me by some low life who will probably damage it.”

“Normal people dont have guns in their meetings, or offices.” Kedican reminded his general

“Since fucking when? How fuckin--” Charles glared at Davie, and gave his rather pale grin. Davie knew full well not to cross Charles or his neophytes within his order of propagandists, and tried to avoid him. He silenced himself as Charles continued to speak.

“Like I was saying. Likely, the Bloodaxes wanted to war because some talking seal told them, who knows or cares. Our allies in the Wrecktusk want support, but they decided to attack anyway before really getting our opinion. Now the Tusab are just trying to kill one another. I’d advise that we strike while such things are still up in the air, on the side of our. . .’allies’. . .of course.”

“What a bunch of crock.” Davie retorted “Tusab will unite if we get involved.”
Kedican raised an eyebrow to this “You know this how?”
“Had a couple mercenaries support some Wrecktusks once in raiding a sub tribe of the Blood axes, not my guys per say but they were human. They got massacred and their heads used as fetishes when three damn war parties descended on them specifically just to kill them, thinking the whole time they were my guys. You send a army to deal with the Tusab, you are going to have a Northern Federation on your hands before you know it.”

“A theory and little more, the fact is--” Charles was about to speak up, but Kedican spoke far more quickly. “Correct or not, I am not going to sacrifice valuable lives while we have more real issues here. Let the tribes kill each other as they always do, and if they do it enough, we may act on it when its a safer campaign. Continue to scout out the situation.” Both nodded their heads “You are both dismissed.”

Charles and Davie both left in silence, and this was swiftly followed by a officer awaiting outside who waited for them to leave. When he entered, he was holding a rope lead, and a small Okan fell beside him with a tug. The officer handed Kedican some papers and untied the young captive, who worryingly looked about his surroundings. The officer and Kedican exchanged salutes and he left in peace.

Coban Mackerbei?” asked Kedican. The Okan, who looked young and wide eyed only nodded his head. Kedican peered down at the rope collar on his neck, and looked him over “Healthy enough at least. You are to be my new courier.”

“Courier, sir?” asked the Okan. Kedican gave a sigh “Yes. I need you to deliver some letters for me.”
____________________
Singarum, Volka, Blayam.

These three cursed words were written over the signed city of Ugolanbrav, and now it was graced by another figure as well, the famed occultist Tomas Maccaerei. Tomas’s blad head and elder look was only graced by the appearance of his profession. He wore upon him at almost all times a mechanical device which both protected him and ritually kept him in a state of magical focus, and he held onto a halberd carved from runes of the shadowed gods. Yet he was far from pious and even more far from liked, as he waltzed into the city along with his charade of acolytes. Tomas’s career as an occultist began ironically in Ugolanbrav where his cancerous sickness had only been cured by his deep fascination in the blood magic of his pious teacher, and his communion with the god Zuuldrick earned him a place in the Circle of Usoman Warlocks. Yet, his thoeries and practices also earned him his quick banishment and he spent far more time traveling between city to city, pilfering its libraries for lore, exploring the ruins of Wrad castles, and performing rituals amongst the Tusab. If anyone in all of Usoma had a more sinister reputation and fame, they were simply then not known. Tomas was invited back to the capital at the request of the warlocks, his services were simply now to far to ignore in spite of previous crimes.

Yet trouble did follow him in his wake, for as soon as Tomas entered the circle, he began his welcoming speech by accusing elder members of corruption and of impiety, to the point where he demanded a magical duel with his hated rival, the arch warlock Quadmos Bolkar. Mr. Bolkar agreed to the duel within the chamber in spite of his peers wishing to calm things down, but Tomas very quickly and with supberd ease defeated his political rival and used his magic to quite literally tear him limb from limb. When the duel was done and a silence crept over the chamber, Tomas declared himself Arch Warlock and directed the group as he saw fit. His first task was to pilfer the warlock library.

For weeks, Tomas went over old tomes and bestiaries, and added countless new grimoires to the morbid collection. The acolytes looked on with amazement as Tomas melded entire books into existence with his summoning, specifically on his own experience, and began to pen his own magnum opus, The Grimoire of Inner Usoma. It was a book of necromancery unlike any other penned in recent years, filled with countless amounts of local lore, ethnography, and theories on the Wrad, on magic, and the nature of Usoman weather. While penning his piece, Tomas began making demands of the council to fill up ‘his’ library with books of other magical lores, and when it was clear they did not know where to look, he sent several of his servants to the markets to look.

It wasn’t common knowledge of the world outside of Usoma, in fact, it was practically a state secret except for some merchants and overseers. It was simpler to keep Usoman society going if no one knew of the warmer weather in lands such as Fenice or Talania. The occultists began searching for answers amongst merchants, learning of Fenice only through tales and small increments. While trade was possible between Usoma and her neighbors, it was often only at the best a trickle. Usoma had to offer much in the way of furs, ivory, and coal, but even its most elite export was well hidden or i'll liked for obvious reasons. Magical Foci made by wraiths often was not easy to look pass. When they heard of Fenice magic, they reported their rumors back to Tomas in which he looked on with peaked interest.

Tomas made his way to the Overseer tower to present his agreement with the Grand Overseer. Tomas and Kedican spoke, but it was passive aggressive and both viewed each other with suspicion and contempt. Tomas had wished to leave with his acolytes for Fenice to study abroad and bring knowledge back to Usoma, but Kedican did not trust Tomas to not use his dark powers for more personal gain, and he did not want to offend the Sun Elves with a hot headed occultist who practiced blood magic. After more of a heated exchange between the two, Tomas left in frustration.

During the mid morning after over a month, Tomas announced that he would be building a underground library, and had it approved by the city. Kedican hoped that the warlocks would be more appeased if they had larger space for their rituals and tomes. Yet, as the crew men went to work, Tomas himself was not there to oversee it, and instead spent much of his time with a merchant named Paulmer who was planning to go into Fenice to trade ivory. Instead, he was hexed by Tomas to instead deliver a message when he arrived to local authorities with a magical note wishing for Fenice mages and merchants to greet him in Ugolanbrav, for as a student of the arcane, the Council of Usoman Warlocks had great interest in their magic and technology, and Tomas was willing to sponsor a technology fair in the city with aid.
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In the great city of Ereaux lies the new National Council Chambers, a building constructed of brick and concrete in a neoclassical design. It had been completed 15 years ago to replace the outdated old building, which had been turned into a museum dedicated to the history of the Commonwealth. Inside this building, the gears of the government turn.

“...and thus begins today’s meeting of the National Legislative Council. Lady Ira, you have the floor”

Lady Marie Ira II, the Governor General and leader of the Commonwealth of Ocreau, stood in the centre of the chamber to address the Council. In her hand she clutched a stack of papers, reports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, copies of which had been handed out to each of the governors currently present.

“Thank you Mr. Speaker” spoke the tall woman who lead the Commonwealth of Ocreau. She was a mostly human woman, although she proudly spoke of how her grandmother was a Goliath. “My office has received word of a possible escalation of tensions between the Republic of Arcad and the Empire of Hastur. I believe this requires our attention, less this hostility expand northwards.”

“And do you believe it will?” asked a greying man, a governor of one of the northern districts.

“Not necessarily.” Marie Ira II paused for a moment, “The People’s House has advised us that it believes our best course of action is to not participate. I think that if we continue to trade with both the Republic and the Empire, then they would not be inclined to threaten us.”

“We could even use this to our advantage. Both countries will require resources, and who better to buy them off than our proud Commonwealth?” spoke a young woman.

“We could increase the number of trades of fish and spices” said the Governor General, “But, I will not see us become arms dealers.”

“What is the proposal?” said the speaker of the council

“We should remain neutral for now” Ira replied

The speaker concluded with the traditional vote tallying, the proposal was passed with only 1 dissenting vote.

“Next order of business, the agricultural subsidies passed by the People’s House. Prime Minister Cerang has overseen the bill designed to increase farming output in an effort to increase food security within the Commonwealth. Are there any objections to this bill?”

The bill was put up as the subject of debate, it was aimed to increase the production of food across the Commonwealth for purposes of trade and food security. It would do this by subsidising the production of rice, fruit, and spices. After a while the bill was passed without amendments.




“... Further agricultural subsidies have been passed by the Parliament aimed at suring up food supplies and increasing trade output. Farmers around the Commonwealth have welcomed the news” crackled radios across Ocreau.

“In international news, the government has promised to remain neutral in light of the recent hostilities between Arcad and Hastur” the newsreader continued, “Reports suggest that the public have concerns about possible conflict between the two nations. We will keep you updated on this developing story.”

“Now to the weather, clear skies are predicted over much of central Ocreau…”
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Oyessia 10 years ago

After some heated time between the Oswarian Empire and the Bjergavjern, both states send ambassadors to attend a diplomatic meeting in the city of Floross in the nation of Flovati to discuss a way to ease tensions and negotiate a possible trade agreement but underneath the press eyes, things always are negotiated in secret.
Conference room of Floross

Foreign Minister Nicklas Sparre of Clan Bierbrau was sent by Volksfuhrer Ivar Hermann to attend the meeting with the diplomat of the Oswarian Empire. Gruff and grim, Nicklas wore simple traditional clothing of his clan while bringing several barrels of beer and ale to the city. Hermann wanted the Oswarians to experience dwarven hospitality and nothing else was welcoming than a mug of Bierbrau alcohol.

The dwarf whose beard reaches his knees almost swelled with pride knowing that his clan is being properly represented in this meeting. Every since the Volksfacistikefurband av Bjergavjern took power in the capital, Holkungenssete, they have implemented a series of centralization and reorganization of dwarven economics and industry in their so called 5 year plan. Thankfully, Clan Bierbrau still retained their speciality as brewers when the party acknowledges their exceptional skill and technique in Bjergavjern.

Foreign Minister Alessandra Reis Boaventura was sent to represent the Empire of Oswaria in the meeting with Bjergavjern she brought clothing symbolizing a noble of the empire together with a series of spicy foods from the Empire tendency of usage of spices in food in their traditions Alessandra in her clothing also brought certain cloth decoration symbolizing her Esken descent from the southern regions of the Empire.

She brought with herself a translator and a few security guards for her mission, and according to the Emperor, also to find a good position for the empire in the negotiations. The emperor himself would come but due to problems at home sent Alessandra in his place to negotiate with the Volkists.

Here, the relations of the two great powers of Oyessia hang in the balance between these two people as Flovati, unwittingly, sealed its fate alongside them. On the surface, this was a trade treaty to smooth relations and to forgive past grievances of one another. Oswaria in the past used to be a disunited band of princes, electors, and petty counts. Unification was the goal of many but none have were as ambitious nor have butted heads with the dwarves of Bjergavjern as much as the Rosario Royal family. They had the misfortune of being late when it comes to securing ties with the dwarves as their rivals beat them to it first. Rosario’s Unification wars was the sore thumb even since the family’s rivals called upon the aid of the dwarves when war was declared against them. Honor was honor in a defensive alliance and Rosario attacked first. In the end, Rosario’s rivals become too complacent and refused a call to arms in a defensive war against Fenice when the elves invaded the island east of the mountains. The rest is history and Oswaria was formed angry and irritated knowing very well its birth and future was severely delayed by Bjergavjern.
On paper, this treaty, what would soon be known as the Floross Agreement, would put an end to the cold relations between the two regional powers. Bjergavjern has no qualms with Oswaria existence and in fact believed it to be punishment to the petty dukes and counts that dishonored the dwarves. Oswaria, on the other hand, was pushing for advancement of their own economic interest, especially the Irridae Strait. The high tariffs of Oswarian merchant shipping was an insult to their national pride and this treaty would hopefully put forward a more equitable solution.

But beneath the flowers lie thornes and the fate of Flovati has been sealed between these two nations. A fate in which cannot be undone.

With some journalist taking photos of both ministers been finished the guards begun to close the door of the room to leave the diplomats to talk.
Alessandra pulled the chair to sit and chat.
“Sometimes these flashes make my eyes hurt. What about you?”

“Me?” Sparre squinted his eyes in response. “I’ve gotten used to it.” He then took another swig on his clan’s ale before resting the cup on the table.

“Good to know” Alessandra blinked twice. “Well they say the dwarves value their clan rather then their leader sometimes” she drinks a little from the beer in her cup.

“Nonsense.” He brushed off the insult, as if he was used to this gross exaggeration, “Our clans are our homes and our homes are guided by the leadership of our High King, now Volksfuhrer. We swore an oath and it is great dishonor to our ancestors if we break it.”

“For our people our dishonor was letting foreign powers to influence our old states until the unification happened.” She leaned forward in the table. “Our states might had a rough start, maybe we can find a ground where our leaders might be pleased.”

An eyebrow was raised on Sparre’s face. “Ah, that's why I'm here.”

She leaned backwards and said “It seems like we can start talking about business then.” She raises her eyebrow.

“Please continue.” He waved his hand. “I'm listening.”

She approached slightly into the table and said “As you know the Empire of Oswaria has been facing the problem of the high tariffing of the Irridare strait...” She makes a small pause and waved her hand slightly as she chats “If your state can lower some of this tarifs we can establish trade links between our nations most notably the natural resources of your nation call the attention of our hungry industrial base economy.”

“What is Oswaria willing to pay in return for lower tariffs and access to our minerals and ores?” he asked.

She smiled a little “The funny part is that you are literally sitting on top what we can offer to your country.”

Unamused, Sparre took another drink of his beer. “It's gonna take more than that to convince the Volksfuhrer that this will be a fair treaty.”

Alessandra nodded as the dwarf spoke, she then said. “Understandable well, then what your Volksfuhrer seeks to this be a fair treaty?.”
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Hsir Confederacy
Hsir City - Capital of Hsir Confederacy
Sounds of a train stopping to let passengers disembark could be heard in heart of the city. The oldest city where Hsir Confederacy got its name from was dominated by the massive pit cave in center of city. Immediate area around the pit cave had been worked with ornate stone with railing along the edge and several shrines built around the pit. One passenger disembarking from the train was Speaker Angor who wore a heavy long jacket to keep his more formal cloths clean. The first and current Speaker lived outside the capital city so had to make commute by train each day. His colleges had tried to talk him into moving closer but he preferred the small town life. It wasn't too much of a issue as most matters were handled by local government so Angor being late to work was rarely a issue. A guard would approach Angor having been waiting for him to arrive.

City Guard "I have been sent to escort you to the government building Speaker."
Speaker Angor "A escort? Very well, I do not see the need for it but lets be on our way."
City Guard "It was order by the mayor of city to provide protection to the Speaker."
Speaker Angor "Seems like waste of time, times are peaceful and I keep my own gun on me."
City Guard "As that may be, it would reflect poorly on the capital if anything were to happen."

Followed by this guard the Speaker Angor would make his way to one of larger buildings with a front facing the pit cave. Outside was a statue of Angor in military uniform holding the flag of Hsir Confederacy. As Angor passed the statue his mind would reflect back onto how he got himself into the position. It had just been a few years ago the mountains were not united and he was a simple soldier of one of the many nations that once filled the mountains before unification. Times really seemed to be changing rapidly, during the famines that occurred when global trade had broken down he made a name for himself by keeping order after local lord died in small city state he served as a soldier. It would only be a month before he would welcome the unification forces that came with food and supplies and was glad to see mountains unify. Despite the cramped conditions of inside the mountains, wars weren't uncommon. When still a child Angor would be told stories of war from his grandfather. After the Hsir Confederacy formed he had planned to return to quiet uneventful life but was talked into trying to get elected as first Speaker by friends he had made traveling with unification force to help areas plagued by famine within the mountains. To ensure was no corruption candidates needed to wield no political power already which Angor qualified for that having just been a simple soldier. It was his fast thinking that saved lives and demonstration of leadership during famines which won him election though the stories of him traveling with unification force also helped. Angor did not mind the job as he didn't really have much power, he felt more like a figurehead then anything else. If anything the job was boring. The city guard stopped at the door to building.

City Guard "I will wait here Speaker."
Speaker Angor "Very Well."
City Guard "When you leave for day I will accompany you to train."
Speaker Angor "Very well."

Speaker Angor would walk down the halls heading for his office. He expected usual paperwork that his secretary would help him with. It was mostly uneventful work except for when he would ride train network to tour the various cities in mountains and meet various political figures inside Hsir Confederacy. Starting his day he would hang up his jacket then sit down and look at various papers already on his desk. Seemed like a usual day though he had been wanting to try and exercise what power he had. He would go to ring a bell to summon his secretary. It only took a few seconds before she entered room.

Secretary of the Speaker "You rang sir?"
Speaker Angor "Yes, I would like if you organize a meeting."
Secretary of the Speaker "I will send out the message."
Speaker Angor "Oh, before you go I also would like to request some records."
Secretary of the Speaker "What records would you like?"
Speaker Angor "Economy records, see how the Confedercy economy is doing."
Secretary of the Speaker "The message will be sent out then I will bring you the records."
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Golden Palace of the Radiant Emperor

"Here you are, your radiance." In front of the Radiant Emperor, most powerful man in Hastur and indeed in the world, respectfully bowed his secretary, Feng-La. That was his slave name, given to him by his teachers, the meaning of it apparently being 'Two-Face' as even then he had the ability to hide his feelings and thoughts.

"Good. I'll have a few messages to send, fetch my seal." The emperor asked of him dismissively. Staying true to his name, Feng-La bowed even deeper before exiting the room, moving backward as not to show his back to the emperor, a grave offense, but as he did he still mentally spat at the person in front of him. He had taken the post of secretary of the Emperor to be closer to the seat of power but after the few years he had been at this job, he kind of resented his own choice, life was better when he was head of the scribes and didn't take shit from no one.

Meanwhile, in the appartments of the Emperor...

The Radiant one removed his mask, something he never did publicly. Behind it, the unmistakable features of a dark elf. His face was almost split in two by a smile as he opened the official letter of Acradian demands along with numerous imperial reports about the border situation and he began to read them.

"Haha, you want to fuck with me Regix? Hehe..." He spoke to himself as he took a handful of dates, famished as he was since this stupid mask didn't have any mouth hole. "Nononono, I'm going to be fucking with YOU, you-rghhh GH-GHAK!" Having shoved a bunch of dates in his mouth, the elf began to cough, or rather, to try to do so. He then tried punching his abdomen, then take a glass of water but this all only made his fit even worst! When he tried to call for help only a pathetic gurgle left his mouth before he fell face first on the edge of a coffee table and then on the ground.

Behind the door, one of the 4 muscular Key Guardians turned himself toward the door as he had heard a sound but his friend to his side was quick to shove an elbow in his side. "Stay still for fuck's sake." And so the guardian returned to do what he was there to do, guard the door and nothing else.

________________________________

Having fetched the Imperial Seal, Feng-La returned to the Emperor and after so ceremoniously being let inside by the Key Master and the Guardians... began to look around. "...Your Radiance?" Did the prick decided to just go to sleep? The secretary began to look around and stood still when he saw it. This body with the imperial dress, the massive golden mask on a blood stained coffee table next to it. It was happening. The whole reason why he took this post, so what was happening now could happen while he was the only one around. He turned his head left and right as to confirm that fact. Yes. He was alone.

Having recovered from the surprise, Feng-La went on move across the body toward the Emperor's study but swore as his soft silk shoes stepped in something wet. The son of a bitch had peed himself as he died! No matter, he continued open a drawer but found it locked. Sighing, he turned back once again toward the emperor and moaned with despair as he had to search one of the piss stained pocket to find a small key and then go back to open the drawer. Filled with neatly classified files, Feng-La took one with his own name and threw it in the fireplace before finding others with some other names and, after looking around, shoved them in his own golden secretarial box, leaving the rest there before going to the phone. "Operator, bring message Head-Scribe Sibil, Archivist Nolan along with Palace Commander Mazid, tell the Commander to also fetch Lieutenant Shen, Griel and Xen-Ma. Tell them all to come to the Appartments of the Emperor, its urgent."

________________________________

"Well shit." The Commander said as he looked down on the dead emperor. "Wait, I know this guy... Xan, that mother fucker! We were friends, I thought he had been purged!" Added the old Archivist. The commander turned toward him with a smirk. "Well, want to give him a kick in the nuts for old time's sake?" The commander and Arhivist had a small laugh but were interrupted by the head scribe. "Now is not the time to panic..." Said he, as he was visibly trying to hold back his panic. "We need to uh... the body and... the new... emperor?" There was a silence and the Scribe and Archivist looked at Feng-La but couldn't help but give side looks toward Mazid. The 3 of them, Archivist, Secretary and Scribe, they came from the same type of people, but Mazid... he was part of the Warrior formation of the Janisi, not one of them. If he wanted to betray them and take the place of the Emperor for himself, it was probably now the best of time to do it.

The silence continued, the Commander and Secretary looking at each other for a moment until the former smiled. "Right! Sibil, help Feng change into something more emperor-like, Nolan, you have our list?" The old man nodded and took a piece of paper out of his pocket. The list of enemies inside the palace. "Always." Mazid took the list and shoved it in his own pocket before taking a candle stick. "Good." Going on his knees, he began to repeatedly hit the dark face with the stick until it was a bloody pulp as Feng dressed.

________________________________

Finally the quatuor left the appartment, it was now the Emperor, the Commander, the Scribe and the Archivist. The key master turned to bow to the emperor but was surprised to see the Commander in his face. "The emperor's secretary tried to assassinate the emperor! You have failed in your duties and must now pay the price!" He said loud and clear before drawing his pistol and shooting at the confused key master and guardians. At a distance, other key Masters and guardians protecting doors looked at the situation but didn't react. Mazid quickly walked to his loyal lieutenant. "Alright, we've gotta be fast. You, take this list and find the people on it, kill them and bring them to the yard, burn them. You, find the close servants and the Emperor's personal entourage, the maids, all of them, kill them and burn them. You, get more guards and come here, burn these bodies and kill those idiots guarding the doors around us to be sure. After, go to communications and kill the switch board operators just to be sure, now, now!" The scribe and archivist looked at each other but didn't say anything.

______________________________

The Next Day, at the Imperial Grand Council.

"I can't see shit, this mask doesn't have eyeholes!" The 'Emperor', dressed in silk and gold, was being escorted by his new Praetorian, the leader of his body-guards and the Janisi army to the meeting. "Fuck's sake. When I let go of your arm, 25 steps forward, then climb 40 steps and then 5 steps to the throne, turn and sit." Good thing he was wearing 5 layers of cloth, that way no one saw the emperor sweat like a pig thanks to all this stress. He began to walk, counting the step. He listened carefully and maybe it was because he could not see, but it felt as if he could hear... everything. Every word, he could place a name on those who spoke them. There were talks of the purge, the older members of the court suspected someone had taken the mask but no one knew for sure who. The slow walk of the emperor was taken for his usual graceful entry and so he turned to sit on the throne.

The darkness began to become bright and slowly, he could see, it was as if everything was tainted of gold, but he could see through the mask! It seemed that as he was amazed by this however, the council had gone through the usual formalities and they were anxiously waiting on the emperor to speak about the matter of the day. Acrad. Stressed to the extreme, Feng-La thought about 'what would the emperor say' in this situation. The answer came surprisingly easily.

"...On this matter, we will of course announce to the world that Hastur invites all parties to examin the situation for the truth to be found and for the guilty parties to be punished." This answer seemed to take the council by surprise. Mazid especially who even dared to speak. "But your radiance... the fact is, we have indeed been suplying the desert rats with weapons and supplies."

The Emperor waved off this fact. "This is of no importance. The move Acrad is doing right now is to try and find legitimacy for an upcoming invasion. We will indulge the 'international community' to come and play this charade, to the demand of a buffer zone, we will answer that while we would agree to this, it is unfortunate that since Acrad is unable to control who operates within the desert, much less who crosses the border between our nations, we cannot allow their problems to become ours. Lets invite a foreign delegation by name, why not... Avalia, Talania and have it all be led by Fenice."

The stress was gone and although Feng had no idea what he was talking about, it all felt so natural. "Your Radiance, we and Fenice are in an undeclared war!" This time, the Emperor didn't grace this reply with a movement, simply remaining motionless and answering. "Then maybe it is time we have an undeclared peace. I wish to personally see a representative of the regent, the ambassador will not do, it must be a person gifted with the personal trust of the regent. Now..."

The people in the room were hanging to every word of the ex-secretary. This feeling of power... "All of this is meaningless. It is a ruse to buy what we lack, time. Acrad has a modern army but our numbers are overwhelming, through history, generals have vanquished superior numbers by defeating their enemies piece by piece, this is the only way we can be beaten. Where they have the speed to be where they can do the most damage, we will have the numbers to be everywhere at once. As such, we will introduce conscription."

This time no one interrupted, a distant diplomat merely raised a hand to ask a question, the emperor nodded. "But your radiance, Acrad will take our mobilization as a provocation!" In his enormous seat of gold, the emperor leaned back, holding his head up with his hand. "This is not mobilization, and it will not be painted as such, this is merely another step in the long list of military reforms we have installed in the last few years. Acrad has conscription as well, doesn't it? I do not care if it provokes Acrad. It might as well, but if they charge at us like a wild boar, they will drop this pretense of civility and the world will see them for what they are, warmongers who care not about justice but only to get the land of their neighbors. Now. I expect my will to be done and remember: Speak the language of the barbarians. They will not see us as what we are, the only beacon of hope and order in this chaotic world, and so like in the martial art of Zhu-Jian, remember it is easier to lead the strength of an object in motion to another place, rather than try to block it and push it back."

_____________________________________

And so, the scribes and diplomats went to work.

@Blenheim To Elyr, a diplomatic delegation, the kind Hastur rarely bothered to send south, was dispatched to invite reputed Elyrian experts to join an international investigation on the matter of links between the Acradian bandits and local northern Warlords, specifying that it is the Emperor's opinion that Acrad might be getting desperate due to food shortages and looking for a reason to invade the more fertile south. Of course, the diplomats don't come without their special weapon: Money. Discreetly, they find the politicians the most likely to accept and be discreet about accepting 'gifts' from the emperor to state to the parliament that 'Hastur is willing to collaborate and we all know from history the Golden idiot on his throne would not be willing to do so if he had something to hide! Let it be known that Acrad is looking for a way out of its misery down south and that I say they should stay where they are, far, far away!'

@FrostedCaramel To the CPR, well, both parties know the situation has nothing to do with the People's Republic, but non the less, diplomats invite the CPR to denounce the evil bourgeois conspiracy to invade Hastur as surely Hastur would remember its stand fast ally if it should need help, material or moral, at some other time in the future. Also, somewhere a meeting is set up reguarding the matters of 'Crystals'.

@Trinais This time, the diplomatic offensive is made as much abroad as at home. Hasturian oil and other natural ressources (especially food) are hot commodities and with the desire of the Emperor to industrialize and put money up front to do so, this attracts a lot of investors. Now of course, it would be normal for some to express worry at the political instability in the region, but there is nothing like large bags of gold to make whispers turn into screams. A flow of letters and urgent communications flood the home office of Verdasoun corporations about the calamities and loses about to befall these different corporations should Acrad get in their mind to invade and damage or destroy all they have built. On the foreign front, the high diplomat is honest with his Verdasoun counter part: Gold and Silver that has sat for over 3000 years in Imperial Vaults might be sold, the demands and offer for certain strategic good might fluctuate wildly and a Hasturian sea blockade of Acrad could lead to disruptions and inspections of suspect shipments. Now, Hastur realizes Verdasou isn't an enemy to have, they do, but the message is simple: Everyone has more to lose of a war than they have to gain and even if a war should happen, Hastur is simply a bigger economy than Acrad. It is in Hastur and Verdasou's interest that no one rocks the boat and right now the ones breaking the status quo are the Acradians. If they don't intervene, nothing bad will happen and if they help Hastur, well, certain beneficial trade deals or monopolies might be open.

@Skepic Avalia is of course invited to mediate the current conflict to find a satisfactory solution to everything and, on an entirely unrelated note, because of the good cooperation the two nations have had in the past, Hastur would be eager to invite Avalian oil and gas refining operations to establish themselves and pay no taxes for a period of 10 years. These are strategic sectors and such a priviledge is reserved to a nation that of course is aligned with Hastur's interest and not in that of barbaric neighbors...

@Roby6Com For Acrad, a simple message, as no diplomat would risk his neck.

"To the Acradian people, the Radiant Emperor has taken notice of your plight and agrees that, if such a thing as illegal financing of criminal organizations is really happening, the matter should be resolved appropriately. Hastur thus invites a delegation of foreign diplomats to investigate the matter as promptly as bureaucracy allows. Your demand of a demilitarized zone is seen as largely already done as per Acradian admission there is no police, let alone military presence in the desert along our border capable of stopping armed criminals. Should your ultimatum have meant on our side of the border, we are sorry to say that we have a duty to protect the Emperor's subjects and that as such we must prevent the bandits that you have admited you are incapable of controling from crossing our own border.

In addition to this, we most strongly protest how you have forbidden access to our civilian relief effort to the dark elves living on your land in the most horrid of living conditions and hope you will think of the poor women and children."

______________________

Summary:
1: New Emperor
2: Hastur will play the long game, trying to have as much time as possible to prepare for an invasion or else force Acrad to look like warmongers.
3: National conscription established, it is not a mobilization, it was part of the military reform plan for a while :^)
4: Diplomatic actions.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Star Lord
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Star Lord Legendary Outlaw

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"who knows if the moon's //
a balloon, coming out of a keen city
// in the sky—filled with pretty people?"



The view of the sunrise was one of the best things about living in the clouds rather than on the ground. Other airships dominated the skies while traveling across the ocean. It had been a few months since their last visit to land and the prisons were almost filled with inmates. Nearby, a public execution was planned for several criminals that ranged from murders to wasters. Rowland Blodwell heard the announcer calling out the names of the inmates while he was boarding the small transport airship. He stood there while the transport flew towards Executioner's Island, an airship designed for killing criminals sent to death. People were allowed to see these executions in action for free. If someone paid to attend one of these events, then they were offered seats in the lower levels.

When the transport stopped and its door opened, Blodwell heard one of the inmate pleading for his life before he was thrown off the island. That was the method of execution for every single criminal sent to death. Many civilians loved the event that thousands often travel the island to see these executions in person. He walked pass a large family eating their breakfast while the executions were going on. The hooded executioner gave the time of death while the warden was writing it down on paper. Blodwell took a seat on a bench and waited for the murderer's name to be called.

"Ida Sullivan." the warden said the man's name while two marines were escorting him to the stage. Of course, Sullivan tried to escape, but the handcuffs and foot cuffs prevented that from happening. When the marines placed him on the spot, the warden continued. "You have been found guilty of murdering factory worker, William Sedlow, over a disagreement and sent to death. Do you have any last words?"

"It was an accident! I am an innocent man!" Sullivan shouted at the crowd before they booed at him. After saying his last words, the warden gestured at the executioner to do his thing with the two marines standing at his side. The executioner approached the prisoner and forced him towards the edge of the stage, which overlooked the skies and several airships. Sullivan kept on repeating his last words before he was pushed off the edge. The crowd erupted into cheers that was loud enough to cover Sullivan's scream while he was falling to his death. Blodwell didn't care about the execution and wanted to be on Executioner's Island but his presence was called upon.

"Enjoying the show?" a mysterious voice asked Blodwell.

"Not really, miss..."

"Mrs. Ellis." the woman corrected Blodwell before sitting down next to him and placing a suitcase beside them. "You must be Blodwell."

"Yes, Ed-"

"Its best that we stick to last names, Blodwell." Ellis interrupted him before he could finish. Then, the warden called out the next prisoner's name. The prisoner tried to run away from the stage, but the marines managed to capture him. The crowd cheered on while both Ellis shoved the suitcase over towards Blodwell. He grabbed the suitcase and opened it up. Inside was a gun and a photo of an older man. She got up from the bench and said quietly before leaving, "You know what to do, Blodwell."


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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by TheEvanCat
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TheEvanCat I wouldn't say / I'm "missing" it

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Javad, Saraya

Beneath the still water of an pleasantly warm day, a pair of reddish salmon swam complacently through the water. One of them, breaking from its partner, spotted something shiny and excitedly swam towards the surface to investigate. Mere moments later, it was ripped from the water by the razor-sharp talons of a great hawk who had descended towards its next meal. With a shriek, the hawk lifted off with the writhing fish in tow, ascending high towards its destination. Atop one of the two massive grey steel superstructures of a suspension bridge, the hawk landed and dropped off its prize to a nest full of squawking chicks. It then took off just as abruptly as it arrived, coming to circle around its environment.

The bridge spanned a wide river at the mouth of a wide bay. Lining the shores were all sorts of riverwalks, ports, tall buildings, and urban buildup. The stark grey of the dense cityscape stopped abruptly at the watery blue. Ships motored in the harbor, the big cargo ones nestled against jutted-out docks where cranes moved up and down on rail tracks to help longshoremen offload pallets of goods. Inside the city, neon lights lit cramped alleys while banners and signs appeared at every corner. In the delightful calligraphy of Sarayan script, colorful advertisements for businesses and products breathed life into the greys of the stone buildings. Cars drove, along crowded roads and packed avenues. Pedestrians waited on stone sidewalks for their stoplights to change. An elevated train rattled along its tracks before dipping below the ground to drive along the intricate subway of the downtown.

An island in the bay off center to the north, connected to the mainland by a long bridge flanked by masses of electrical lines, belched steam from a dozen brick cooling towers. Inside the squat cement industrial housing surrounded by a maze of metal electrical transforming and transmission equipment, its precious solarium-driven power plant spun four industrial turbines to generate the city’s electricity. Above, an airship cut through the cloudlike vapor as it began its own circle around the fixed-wing airplane routes from the airport, towards the landing and mooring zones established just to the south of the bridge along the coast. There, landing pads flanked with anchorpoints and signal lights drew the crew of the airliner in.

From the window of the airship, a man looked up from his book. Clean-cut, tall, with brown skin, he looked rather stark. His long, curly hair, a severe fade on the sides leading to a lopsided combover that fell off the top down to his left ear, had an even darker brown tone to it. A pack of cigarettes had been tucked into the rolled sleeve of his white linen shirt. The hawk had flown up to the window of the airship, gliding alongside for a few moments. It had just barely enough time to make eye contact with the man before the airship blew its ballast, jets of air erupting from the side with a hiss. That seemed to scare it off enough, as it rapidly banked away from the airship and went screaming towards the bay again. The man returned to his book for a minute, before dog-earning the page as the intercom crackled to life and the pleasant voice of the hostess announced: “We have begun our descent to Javad Aerodrome. Please take this time to gather your belongings.”

He waited a few minutes as the cityscape came closer into view. From the window, he saw the skyscrapers and density of the downtown area come into clear view. From there, his view wandered across the roads and parks until the hills that surrounded the capital rose from the shore. Atop the largest hill lay the King’s Citadel: an enormous, ancient castle made of khaki-green junglestone and crisscrossed with vines from the trees and gardens at the foot of it. Although well-maintained and constantly occupied, the King’s Citadel appeared as ancient and ornate as any of the other symbols of royal power. The airship continued to land slowly, the tenements of Rud-Javad’s seaside residential district quickly obscuring view of the castle. Before long, the landing gear of the airship thumped into the metal pad, while from the window the man could see groundcrew in jumpsuits quickly securing anchors and tethers to the fixing points.

He gathered up his luggage: a leather satchel that he secured around his shoulder and a green, military-style duffle bag with his clothing and personal belongings inside. Beside him, another man who appeared equally as tall and athletic donned an identical duffle. The two of them left their booths and shuffled out orderly, thanking the stewardess politely. She smiled at them, waving them down the stairs and to the landing pad. The man was the first to exit while his partner was stuck in line: he took the time to light a cigarette with one of his matches. His partner arrived shortly thereafter, with a blank look on his face. He wordlessly accepted a cigarette from the man, replying with a gruff thanks.

“Air travel, huh?” joked the man to his partner.

“I hate it. I always get sick,” was the terse answer. “And I can’t fuckin’ smoke on these things. At least I can smoke on the ferry.”

The man shrugged, before urging his partner to follow them. They made their way towards the central hub of the aerodrome’s airship terminal, a taller building with a grand arched concourse topped with a ceiling of glass that let the sunlight flow naturally in. In the center, a pond with six upwards-spraying fountains encircled a metal sculpture of a globe: a glowing orb of pale blue tight shone from within. Little magical tricks and decoration to wow the visitors coming into the capital. On each side, between marble pillars, decorated stone murals depicting the history of air travel had been created. The man and his partner had stopped for a second to watch the people scurrying about the terminal, before continuing to the pickup driveway to the front of the airship terminal. There, they scanned for what they had been told: a black sedan with a uniformed man beside it.

By the end of the terminal, they found it: a man in his green uniform leaning against the hood of a staff car. His face, hidden by glasses, was buried in a newspaper. On his sleeve, he wore a section sergeant’s rank. The two passengers caught his attention. The sergeant stood up as the man approached, reaching out his hand. “Welcome to Javad, guys,” he said simply.

The man thanked him and shook his hand before his partner did the same. The sergeant looked to him: “Which one are you?”

The man unclipped the document pouch to his satchel and withdrew a sheet of paper marked with official letterhead. “I’m Sergeant Amsar Kandeh and this is Sergeant Marko Avordani.”

The sergeant nodded, skimming over the papers. “Well, guys, congratulations on making it through selection. Not a lot of people transfer over from the Land Forces to the Guard Corps. Well, enough chit-chat, let’s head you to the company.”

The three men piled into the car and the section sergeant shifted to gear and drove off. They took off out of the pickup lane and quickly merged onto the highway. The road rose up to its elevated portion, and they were now driving alongside the tops of some of the lower two or three-story structures. “You picked an interesting time to come in,” the section sergeant said as he swung into a turn lane. “The Acradians and Hasturis are stirring up shit on the other side of the world and it’s starting to turn into a hot issue.”

“So I’ve heard,” mused Kandeh. “Everyone’s thinking about some sort of alliance now or something.”

“Exactly. So we’re supposed to be taking a new spearhead role in these decisive operations if it comes down to it. At least that’s the word around the regiments these days. I’m thinking that the High King has some ideas in mind for direct action and he can use us for shorter, higher intensity operations. Don’t need to get parliament to legislate the Land Forces into action.”

Kandeh shrugged and looked at Avordani. He paid no mind, looking out the window at the skyline as the car took an exit to begin a winding road up to King’s Citadel. They didn’t know each other before selection, but the rigorous process had weeded most people out and left the rest with an infallible sense of teamwork and community. Avordani was born a farm boy from the north and chose to continue his enlistment after his two-year service draft had ended partially to avoid going back to his parents. The man could hike and carry gear like an ox, even if he didn’t make the best decisions with choosing his words tactfully. Kandeh, meanwhile, hailed from a mediocre town outside of the southern industrial hub. Although he was a good five years older than Avordani, Kandeh was also trying to escape from something: his ex-wife.

The car squealed to a stop at a blockhouse-reinforced gate midway up the road on the hill. Two men in fatigues clutching submachine guns, wearing their load-bearing vests and blue berets with gold trim and hackles, stopped the car. The section sergeant rolled down the window and displayed his identification card, while the guard peered into the back. “They’re new Guards, don’t worry,” chuckled the section sergeant.

They were waved through. The car continued the climb up towards the iron gate of the King’s Citadel where it was waved through again. This time, the section sergeant stopped it in a parking space by a sign that denoted a regimental office for the barracks. Kandeh and Avordani got out of the car and were escorted inside. They passed by several offices at the forefront of the barracks that were marked for regimental staff, before climbing a set of stairs. The second floor was divided into two sections: the First Company and the Second. Their section sergeant led them to the Second Company offices and stopped them at the door that read “Company Sergeant.” He instructed them to wait while he entered. After a few moments, the section sergeant told them to enter. He left, his job completed.

Kandeh and Avordani arrived in the office to discover the company sergeant sitting at his desk, hands folded. Behind him, a bookshelf indicated he was well-read. A sword on the wall topped this, laying horizontally across a red velvet mounting. To their right was a sofa with a coffee table and to their left was a shelf with all manner of trophies and collected items from his time in service. The company sergeant stood as Kandeh and Avordani reported in: “Company Sergeant, Sergeant Marko Avordani of the Royal Guards Corps reports as ordered.”

The company sergeant, whose nameplate read “Yasati”, nodded at them as they dropped their bags to their left and arrived at a parade rest. “Welcome to the Second Company, First Regiment, boys,” he said. He looked to Kandeh and corrected himself. “Well, I suppose you’re more of a man than he is. What took you so long?”

Kandeh sighed. “Joined up late,” he answered nonchalantly. The company sergeant grinned.

“Well, in any case, we’re glad to have you guys here as Guards.” Company Sergeant Yasati took a seat and waved his hand to gesture them to do the same. “I’m sure your escort was fairly talkative. There’s a lot going on right now that is going to make our jobs a lot busier. The High King has instructed us to be aware of external threats now and there seem to be more of those every day. Those assholes to the north, the guys on the other continent… you name it. We also expect to be working more often with foreign militaries as the political arm of the High King’s military. If there’s a significance to it, we’ll be there. And I’ll tell you the same thing I tell other Land Forces transferees: you’ve got to act a lot more careful here. Right now, you’re an arm of the monarchy. We don’t work quite like the national military.”

Kandeh nodded. He had heard all about it during selection, done all of the interviews, and read the literature that he was prescribed. The Royal Guards operated somewhat independently of the rest of the armed forces in accordance with the constitution’s allowance. However, they were mostly light infantry forces: heavy support and air power had to come from the regular military to prevent the Royal Guard Corps from becoming the High King’s personal expeditionary army. For example, if the Guards were to be deployed overseas, they would have to hitch rides on Sea Forces vessels. It was a compromise, tense at times, but the Kassaji regime had seen no reason to complain about it when they were busy focusing on internal issues.

“So that’s the strategic overview of what you’re doing here, are there any questions?” asked Company Sergeant Yasati. Both of the new Guards answered no. He continued: “Tactically, you’re going to be operating in independent platoons. My company and our commander has a lot of autonomy from regiment. We get the newest equipment and we train on the newest tactics. Small units, decisive operations of political significance. It’s a little different from the massive operations you might be used to in the Land Forces, but selection made sure you can cut it here. Think of it like the regular military’s commando units. Small and deadly. We expect a high level of readiness so you will be training routinely. Your physical and mental fitness is also important to us, so keep that in mind.”

He reached into his desk to procure two reporting sheets. He slid them onto the table for Kandeh and Avordani to view. “These are your sheets. Basically, same process as your old job: go around and check in to your unit. Go to medical, get your physical, get your equipment issues, parade uniforms sized, whatever else. Easy enough?”

“Yes, Company Sergeant!” both of them answered. Yasati grinned again before getting up to shake their hands.

“That’s enough of my counseling. Your platoon commander and sergeant will fill you in on more specific details and help you get the sheet signed. You’ve got the rest of the week off until Monday to move in and get settled, but your duty begins then. Alright, on your way.”

The two Guards stood from their chairs and collected their bags. “Long live the High King,” they both stated. The company sergeant answered the same, before the two left the office. Outside, the hustle and bustle of company activity had increased and they dodged troops until they reached the rooms that had been assigned to them on their paperwork. Being laterally transferred sergeants, both of them were entitled to their own room in the barracks: a small room with a bed, a desk, a wardrobe, and a shelf for books and knick-knacks. A small sink and medicine cabinet was inlaid to the wall by the door. A bare lightbulb illuminated the living space. Not too spacious, but they also didn’t have roommates. Kandeh entered into his and dropped his duffle bag down onto his bare mattress. The wooden chair to his desk had been left out, so he took it to sit down and put his briefcase on the desk.

As he prepared his things and looked at what he needed to do, he mused for a second. The Guards presented many opportunities for him and he was excited to see what was coming. But at the same time, talk in the barracks was different than the Land Forces: it appeared to be full of intrigue and foreign expeditions. Different from tribal policing and border security. He was excited: the future would bring many things. And big things were coming.
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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Jolteon
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Jolteon No mother its just the northern lights.

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"I can't begin to describe it. The freedom of the open plains, the taste of the open air, the smell of the open fields! Why do we seek to protect and shelter ourselves from the outside world, couping ourselves into metal boxes with wheels or wings or gas, while with a horse you can splash about in puddles, blaze new trails across the wilderness, and enjoy the sunset atop a gentle hill? Why must we always be so stiff and sophisticated day in and day out? How did so many thousands and millions distance themselves from the nature from which they came from?"

- A Foreigner in Anglonia, Page 75

King Ula-Williamson I put down the book, and stroked his mustache. He felt quite stuck, all things considered. So many things swirled around and clashed in his head, dizzying him. Such simple nations, the people with simple needs, simple cultures, simple desires. Men got up, attended their animals and family, went to work, maybe hit the pub for a chat and a drink, and headed home. But Ula-Williamson? He had to wrestle around with how to make two nations one, day in and day out, a monumental task that he would not wish upon his worst enemy.

Of course stability flowed nicely now, he wouldn't stand for it if it were any different. But the fact that remained was that eventually, someday, somehow, his heir or their heir would oversee the splitting of the Second Union. In his opinion, a dual monarchy was just a good bridge to a better government, nothing more, and if the bridge didn't end up leading to somewhere it would collapse. He would not stand for that either, hence his conundrum. How to stay mostly out of the harsh politics of the world, yet be strong, breeding patriotism, nationalism, unity, and winning some great political victory that proved the worth of the Second Union to both itself and the word? How to stay true to Anglonia and Eirein while simultaneously making something new from them?

"How...?" The King asked aloud, self-consciously yet audibly. As if in response, a man burst into the throne room, dressed in a strangely fitting combination of modern northern styled uniform with accents of centuries old Anglonian fashion, including a formal coonskin cap.

"Your Majesty, of the Great Union of the Kingdoms of Anglonia and Eirein, the first-"

"You don't have to be so formal with me, Mac..."

"Its Douglas, Great King. And according to the Second Union Constitution..."

"According to the Second Union Constitution I have the right to edit my title within some reason. Now must I amend the Constitution just for this, or can you just accept it like everyone else has?"

"Y-yes Mi'lord."

"Good." The King let out a stressed sigh, "Now, what have you come here for, Douglas?"

"A message, Mi'lord. A meeting in 3 weeks in Coral City-"

"What for?" The King asked, cutting him off.

"For... 'an alliance and ordering of the continent.... to ensure our shared security and prosperity..."

"Perfect!" The mustachioed king suddenly rose up from his throne in a burst of excitement. Douglas flinched, surprised and unnerved. Either ignorant, or uncaring, he continued his shouts, "An international meeting with our friends and neighbors! Both different and the same! Perfect, perfect!"

The king, still standing, dismissed Douglass, and only sat to start putting together his plans for the conference, vigorously jotting down notes, shuffling papers, and contacting and sometimes even listening to his advisors.

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All the while, in three completely separate dank rooms, scattered across the nations were three groups: ultra-nationalists, communists, and wanna-be parliamentarians. All three knew their places in society, and all three knew that currently only the parliamentarians would be considered if the government were to undergo a major shift. It was no wonder, with the popularity of the king and royal family. Yet the other two would not sit there idly, instead plotting and preparing and biding their time to make their mark on the Second Union. It was do or die, and whether their opportunity came in weeks, months, or years, do or die they would do.

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In an inland military base, a man and his horse were being trained to trust in powered armor. Making sure that the horse would feel protected, but not invincible, small arms were fired in the general direction of the horse, blatantly aimed at fake targets and dummies nearby it, bullets sometimes grazing or denting the armor, but without many direct hits never coming close to puncturing it.

"Aren't there better ways of doing this?" A private asked, flinching after every shot went off.

"This is only one stage of training you and your partner. The next step, for example, involves you learning repairs for powered armor, starting with this set."

The private now flinched doubly so after every shot was fired.
Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Trinais
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Trinais

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@Wernher Tishana had to take an aspirin after reading after the Hasturian diplomatic note. The tension headaches she was constantly fighting off when it came to that insufferable oaf across the sea would somehow lead to an aneurism someday- she was certain of it. Even so, she leaned back in her leather chair, massaging her temples as the clink-clang of Vona visiting Tishana's private stock in the corner of her office.

"He's insane," Vona said, helping themself to a dram of whiskey from Tishana's crystal decanter. "The fucking oaf. Dumping his gold reserves into the international market? Practically blackmailing us, and then putting the boards of the shipping associations on notice of all they stand to lose? Does he have any idea what all this meddling will do to him? Hastur's money will be used as toilet paper before the end of the week once he pulls the trigger!"

"And we'll be looking at a recession if we lose trade relations with Hastur. If both Acrad and Hastur go, we're in a depression. It'll be The Eruption without the volcano! So now that we've established he has a tenuous grip on sanity," Tishana said. "Any man who keeps a literal harem in this day in age is either a barbarous warlord or has the best equipment gods ever granted a person. The fact that he's willing to shoot himself in the face so long as the ricochet hits us? We need an answer to that because there's no way in hell I can give him what he's asking."

"Hastur has our capital investments though. It's the largest commodity market on the Exchange. If Hastur dumps that gold, we'll be in a bind. I spent years negotiating that market opening after the eruption calmed. And he's going to burn it all down just because he can't be civilized with Arcad. The only people who have more skin in our game than Hastur are Acrad." Vona took a moment to down the whiskey in the crystal glass, thought for a moment, then refilled it. "You're the head of the Bank, Tishana. What sort of outs do we have from this?"

"No easy ones. But they exist. If Hastur dumps the gold, I'll need to initiate an interest rate spike. Not a small one either. It'll slow the rate of inflation, but everyone from the farmhands to the noble houses will feel it. I can get our friends in the Financial Times to write some puff pieces blaming Hastur- I'll even leak the diplomatic cable if I have to. If we go that route, Hastur will see his foreign investment dry up and he'll wish he still had that gold while Acrad is kicking his ass up and down the continent. Then we buy the gold through proxies. Interested aristocrats. Corporations. Privateer security companies. We cash all that political capital ASAP to get that gold. All of it. And stash it in the vaults of the Glass Bank. That'll be a big check, and it'll give Hastur the buying power to finance his war with little or no notice. But once it's in our vaults we can lock it down and stabilize the currency markets. Pour me one of those for myself while you're over there, will you? Don't skimp either. Been a long day."

"Still leaves us with a sorry economic hand," Vona passed a whiskey-filled glass to Tishana, who spilled only a few drops on her blouse when she started sipping it. "Elections are next year and the RWP will ride that Interest Spike all the way to the Commons. The Plan is still in its opening stages."

"It's still on track," Tishana said. "We just need a new market to replace Hastur once I hit the Spike and the aristocrats need a new market to invest in. And there are a couple of contenders. But first-" Tishana withdrew a quill-pen from its inkwell, "- we need to answer this."



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@TheEvanCat Three days after Kandeh's official billeting, the mail clerk dropped a notice on his desk of an 8-Y - an official correspondence from a foreign diplomatic official. Had it been opened before he arrived due to "state security"? Probably would depend on the inspecting officer. But the envelope was cream colored, high quality, and stamped with a local return address.



---------------------------------


Summary:

- Hastur receives an answer to their ultimatum. "We'll do what we want. And that is be neutral. Don't threaten or provoke us again, or we may not remain neutral or prevent our private corporations from doing business with you."

- Fluff interactions with Saraya
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Slagar
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Slagar Lord of Disappointment, Witch King of Saltmar

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=-=Year 443, Usoma=-=
Beasts from the Sea


"Keep those ropes, boys!" yelled Casmen Barber, Overseer of Tenmarnan shouted. The snow storm was drawing closer to the city as was predicted months ago, but the overseer had no interest in the late work of his men as they began to hoister materials on rickety scaffolds. Men laden with furs and insulated cover gave out harsh words as they pulled and tugged the construction materials up a three story height, since the machinery normally used to hold it has broken down due to the weather. Casmen watched as his workers struggled, for they needed to finish building the wall and fix up the wiring, or the entire eastern protective wall could be without heat, or worse, unfinished when the storm hit them.

One of the workers who had been pulling on the rope to bring the materials had backed up onto a ice sheet, and slipped. This caused a nasty chain of events, where the men began to slip one by one with a call of the workers ontop of the construction site calling out in suprise. It was thankful that a Wildar slave who had been helping to loading had rushed to the rope in time and normalized the pull, saving the materials from falling into the ground. Casmen smiled as the men regained their strength and were able to pull the materials to a safer ledge, where work could continue.

However, as Casmen looked on, a scout in white gear had come from behind him. "Sir." He began.

"Leave the scouting report on my desk, son. This wall building needs a personal touch." Casmen replied, continuing to watch from a overseer's position as the men and slaves alike continued to work in diligence. However, the scout did not leave.

"There is a. . erm. . courier here to see you, sir." The scout replied, his voice more cautious. Casmen's smile of saved optimism frowned into a confused murmor, when he turned, he at first only saw the well laden scout, only recognizable as human by his shape and bellow him was a covered young Okan in his own winter gear, only his eyes were visible from beneath coats and a large scarf that he wore.

"I have a message from Overseer Kedican, sir." replied Coban Mackerbei from beneath his scarf. He struggled as he pulled from his back a message tube and handed it to Casmen who silently took it and opened it. Casmen read it silently to himself, grunted, and looked at the scout "Dismissed."

"As you wish, sir." The scout walked out back into the streets of the city, and Casmen looked down at the Okan. "You must be Kedican's new courier. Well, hang out in the camp here till I can pen my reply to him."

Coban gave a sigh of dramatic relief and with youthful vigor climbed at sat upon a wooden crate at the overseer's position. He looked around at the construction site, not noticing much that the overseer was writing himself on the back of the message he was sent. Coban, in his rest, decided to prod at the overseer. "I thought Okan walls were suppose to be city limits, sir." He commented, looking at the new construction site. Casmen paused and looked at the young Okan, but not with the same friendly look he had given before.

"You are correct, but the city needs to expand. What do you know about city limits?"

Coban smiled "Not much but what me Ma use to tell me about them."

Casmen nodded "Yup, but, as you should know, not a lot of folks like to have their couriers talk back to them."

"Was that what happened to the last courier?"

"No? At least, I don't think so. Nor does it matter. Here." Casmen finished up writing his piece and gave it back to the Okan. Coban smiled beneath his scarf and placed the message back into the tube. "Ill get this back, right awa--"

"Dont talk back, its just safer that way." Casmen interrupted him. Coban's smiled turned into a frown, not that Casmen saw from beneath the scarf or cared, as he turned and began issuing orders back to the the near by workers. As Coban turned to leave, he looked at the message in the tube, wondering what it read out, but dared not ask further of it. After a momentary pause, he continued on his way back to the great Usoman capital to deliver the message.
________________________

Not a lot is known of the Usoman economy, not even to the Usomans themselves, but it involves a lot of coal. Too much coal to be exact. Coal nodes are common in the Usoman wastes and run primarily on fossil fuel to keep the cities warm and lit. Technology in Usoman cities is limited as it is, and many resources are put forward on the basis of Coal. Yet, the coal boon had caused a shortage of a different kind. Storage.

Usoman cities had limited storage, and a warning appeared from the worker representatives that batches of coal could not be mined further until storage capacity had increased. Workers were unfortunately throwing loads of the black mineral onto crates of food, supplies, and weapons which was causing unncessary sickness. Capacity was full, but the cities were bound by walls which prevented further expansion unless the cities built basements to accommodate the supply. The supply limit to outgoing merchants was already limited, and Grand Overseer Kedican Whilstov was reviewing the situation with some interest. Kedican proposed to his advisers within the walls of the government building in Ugolanbrav to expand the walls to accomidate a new warehouse district outside the city, developing Ugolanbrav further. The advisers agreed, but how they worked on the project was a different tale.

The work crews exited Ugolanbrav, set to work day and night to create palisades and use the resources to begin building large scale warehouses outside the city. The plan had been to set the resources on top of a hill, with a frozen moat to keep thieves or invading armies from exploiting the warehouses being separate from the city, and had a underground access to a nearby barracks. The work crews got to work and dug out a snow trench, but when they began to work, they had delayed. Tired workmen were worked hard by their foremen, and suffered wounds, resulting in a slow and demoralized build which took months rather then weeks as was expected. While lumber and sheet metal were to be used in the construction, the workmen resulted to building snow forts and using stone instead in order to save time from building formal walls. The warehouses themselves ended up being delayed further and further, and when Kedican reviewed the site, he was dismayed by the lacking of structure.

Kedican reviewed the work crew orders, finding his foremen to be overly cruel, and have given him far to many casualties from work accidents which terrifyed the grand overseer. Unable to scrap the project, fearing a loss of reputation, he instead ordered a fresh crew and oversaw the project itself. His first experience with this project was miserable, as many of the walls and structures had to be redone from scratch and with limited resources. Kedican had forage teams start bringing in lumber from other building projects to finish his own, and to begin chopping down lumber from the near by winter groves. While true that the groves were deeply sacred to the local Wildar clans, Kedican believed he could keep their reprisals at bay at least if they ever come. With lumber and metal finally in his grasp, the walls of this new warehouse district were build within a week under his guidence, and the warehouses were well underway.

Yet while he was gone from office, his neglected post had been overshadowed by a group of scribes calling themselves the Big Seven, a group of political advisers who were running the bureaucracy of the city in Kedican's stead. The Big Seven had been young reformers and had ideas of expanding their role in the city, setting up new political positions under Kedican's nose and making good friends with the Militia. After a biased review of the city's finances, the Big Seven began convincing other guardsmen and scribes to join their political cause and were soon making radical demands within the city itself. Kedican only noticed this happening when he was warned by his Propaganda adviser, Charles White. Charles had thought of joining the group at first, but when he was insulted by the leading members for his 'ignorance to political realities', Charles was quick to save face.

Kedican and Charles returned to the government building immediately and got to work dismantling the political party, and ordered the arrest of three members for illegal activities. In order to send a message, Kedican had all three executed, having them stripped to their undergarments and thrown into a ice puddle outside the city. Once dead, Kedican called the other members of the Big Seven into his office and told them of the news, and under the guise of ignorance to their ploy he played on their fears of being caught. Charles, who was present in the meeting, gave a disturbed smile as the scribes shook within their boots and once informed of their innocence, they were allowed to leave. One scribe had left his seat much more watery then before, much to Charles's amusement. When Charles asked why he had spared them, Kedican simply had answered "I don't want to hire new help, nor spend the resources to train them. This will be enough for now."

Yet when Kedican returned to the construction site, he was dismayed how much the work had fallen to a standstill in his absence. The Foremen, ever so afraid of Kedican, refused to work their men until he returned. There was nearly a small war when one overseer, not wishing to look incompetent in front of the Grand Overseer, tried to fight with his workers to complete the project. Kedican returned to his annoyed shock that the workers were armed and fully ready to kill each other for his cause, and only him returning had prevented this. After deescalating the situation, Kedican got the group to work in peace and completed the project several months late, but at least finally completed.

With the new Warehouse district in check, coal could be siphoned to new warehouses to further increase the supply, much to the merchants and other overseer's delight. Building projects were blossoming in Usoma, and a need for lumber was rising. Yet, as Kedican was relieved to find he had succeeded, he found that his government was in peril. If his disappearance from any field could cause such division, his death could signal a collapse, something which he wished to avoid. Kedican began collecting advisers to him to try to remedy the situation, but not many had a means outside further authoritarianism could provide. Some liberal minded advisers were silenced secretly by Charles and his gang of Militia before the meeting, and Charles stood out in suggesting of granting further automony to the advisers to make more broader decisions. Kedican agreed, granting advisers his voice to make some basic public decisions for the good of Usoma from there on out, much to the propaganda adviser's delight.
________________________________

Beastfolk wars are an ancient and unending display of blood and cruelty, and the Battle of Bula Voula was no different. In a small Usoman outpost called Bula Voula near Sigrad. The Outpost defenders, led by Davie Bullem were spying on the more recent conflict between the Bloodaxe and Wrecktusk. Davie was angry however, not that the Tusab armies were so close, but because Charles was again very wrong and picky about his information.

In context, to as far Davie knew, the Bloodaxe and Bloodtusk had a blood feud as old as the Wrad, but neither liked the Wrecktusk whom they considered a inferior clan. These three clans fought each other often, and only the Wrecktusk had accepted their place as Usoma's patron ally, with maybe some neutrality from the Bloodtusk. The Bloodaxes were genocidal. Their chieftains and clan rhetoric made them vicious enemies of the Usomans, and they were naturally of course Usoma's most powerful Beastfolk clan by far. Their tribal lands was practiaully a city within itself, they supported a massive navy of over 250 warships of medieval standard, and commanded a domesticated monopoly on penguins which made them ultra rich. The reason for the feud between the Bloodaxe and Bloodtusk was never really well known, only that it existed and it truly did involve a talking seal, but to the Usomans, it was just another hostile element of the Beastfolk.

For the reason they were fighting now was not much of a mystery, but it wasn't another instance of a anthropomorphic seal tricking the chieftains to murder one another as Charles once implied. Rather, as Davie learned from Wrecktusk allies, was that the Bloodtusk had been fleeing from their home after a successful Bloodaxe campaign against them, and they fled straight into the path of Sigrad. The Wrecktusk chieftains allowed the Bloodtusk refugees into their camps, and allowed them stay at their glacier holdings, and the Bloodaxes followed with a war chant. The Wrecktusks had not actually asked for help, but rather, they had asked for parlay with the Usomans, wanting them to help make peace with the Bloodaxes in their stead with diplomacy. This had failed due to Davie's earlier information, painting Usoman neutrality forefront and center, but instead, it had signaled the Bloodaxes to launch their attack knowing the Usomans would not aid them.

Thus cultivated the disastrous battle of Bula Voula which Davie watched at a distance, much to his anxious anger, as 3,400 fresh Wrecktusk warriors were utterly demolished by Bloodaxe armies numbering 9,300 or so. The army was surrounded and brutally devestated by skilled Bloodaxe soldiers who butchered the Wrecktusk. In desperation, a Wrecktusk shadow shaman summoned a flailing spell of winter to slow the army, but the spell was backfired by a Bloodaxe occultist who used the blood of a captive to silence the shaman and strangle him unconscious. The battle ended and that was when the executions began. Several hundred captives from the battle were beheaded by the Bloodaxe's great chieftain, Tubaj Bloodaxe personally, the rest were taken into captivity. Davie, seeing that the Bloodaxe clan was now the sole power among the Tusab, returned to Sigrad to discuss the military situation with his counterparts and the overseer.

The best solution was to return the power structure to a manageable level, one in which Usoma could benefit from. The Overseer of Sigrad, Justin Veeger, angrily denounced the whole situation and demanded military action from Usoma, but Davie had a much more direct idea. He proposed of uplifting the Wrecktusk from their defeat and making concessions to make their clan strong to fight and defeat the Bloodaxes before they rose to further prominence and began taking on Wildar, or worse, the Wrad. Davie's plan was put to a vote, where his counterpart in Sigrad agreed only at because it was 'easy, effective, and relieves me to go back to playing cards at the tavern'. After a brief discussion of how to further aid the Wrecktusk, Justin dismissed the group.

Davie and several men visited the Wrecktusk who were not happy to see them. Blaming the Usomans for the defeat, Davie and his men were betrayed and captured, with the chieftains planning to eat them for the annual feasts. In spite of some casualties and screaming, Davie convinced his captors to free him and forgive them for their actions, and in return, he promised to provide the Wrecktusk some guns, which was normally forbidden amongst Beastfolk-Usoman trade. The Wrecktusk had no clue what to give for this trade, and neither did Davie, so in a rather unfortunate miscommunication, Davie had asked for 'able bodies to fight the Bloodaxes' in a vain attempt to garner some sympathy. The Wrecktusk chieftains interrupted this as to give the Usomans slaves, which they happily agreed too since they were holding the Bloodtusk refugees. After a bloody betrayal, the Bloodtusk clan was again forced to move and were chased out of the Wrecktusk lands, and many of their peoples were given as captives to the dismayed Usoman captain.

Davie returned to Sigard and began pilfering guns in secret for the trade, and often just ended up freeing the captives. Tusab slaves were rare for good reason, lasting only hours in slave conditions in Usoman mines and labor camps, which was often due to their heat. The Tusab captives, oddly, thanked Davie for freeing them in spite of being aware of his role in the 2nd despora of their tribe and the Bloodtusk moved southward towards a sub clan near Okadius. Davie would return to the clan, gifting the Wrecktusk guns and ammunition, but not exactly teaching them how to use it. The Wrecktusk, believing they now held divine weapons, quickly demonstrated their use but often found great difficulty using them, but were still rather impressed. Davie was happy to be alive and at least 'helping' the clan, but realized that this would not last for long, so he came up with a odd solution instead.

The Sigard Overseer, angry over Davie's actions, had nearly had him executed and wrote a long list of grievances back to the capital over the trade. Yet, he kept Davie's advice of empowering the clan, and began trading supplies to the Wrecktusk for useless captives which were often just freed. The Bloodtusk and Wrecktusk owed much to Sigard who found allies in both, but keeping the allied forces united against the empowered Bloodaxes was difficult. The Wrecktusk turned to the lucrative trade of slave trading rather then their normal whaling, trading further captives for supplies. While the shipment of guns stopped, metals, wood, and furs found their way into the clan's hands which were traded amongst other clans for warriors, more sellable captives, and diplomatic gifts. Diligent as always, the Wrecktusk began to rebuild their lost strength.

The Bloodaxes however were not idle in all of this, upon returning home, spies amongst the Wrecktusk informed them of the incidents in the Wrecktusk camps. The Bloodaxe cheftains turned to their great chieftain for advice, who demanded another sacrifice and a summoning. After collecting a wildar captive and sacrificing it upon a sea cliff altar, a voice from the sea spoke to Tubaj, calling him by name. In the fervor of bloodlust, drugged milk, and several ritualistic murmurs, the voice commanded war and desolation upon the Wrecktusk and Usoma, directing the chieftain to journey into the 'Heart of Ice', or the Wrad Ruin of Taga’suga to recieve further instructions. Taking his axe and several warriors, the chieftain left for the Wrad homeland to make his sacrifices there.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Blenheim
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Royal Courts of Elyr, Cabinet Meeting Room, Province of Yespium, City of Pyrewood.



Gathered around a large wooden table was a small group of people engaged in discussion; the Queen, fiery Orlette, and half a dozen ministers dressed in posh suits; laid in front of each was differing amounts of paperwork. Eyes from all around the table were focused on the Queen as she spoke.

"Acrad has formally announced it's discovery of a relationship between the group calling themselves 'Desert Rats', most known for their skirmishes and raids along the Acradian-Hasturian border, and the Warlords that occupy the northern regions. They believe, beyond all reasonable doubts that these Warlords are funding the campaign of the 'Rats' in exchange for shares of the stolen goods, and even the potential for these goods to be unknowingly exported and consumed upon the foreign market. It is has been proposed by the Parliament of the People that temporary trading sanctions be levied against the nation of Hastur until such a time that these allegations can be either proven or disproven; but until such a time that this can be ascertained a ban on all goods imported both directly and indirectly from Hastur be enforced. Those who have an arguement against, please state that now" she finished, returning to her seat and glancing around the room, filled by a majority of portly, balding officials who looked as if they'd never done a proper job in their lives.

"The imports from Hastur help support those on lower incomes" chimed in Hagen, Minister for International Trade, followed by several affirmative nods from others.

"And we are barely keeping our heads above water with the current supplies, if they were to stop... I can only imagine the public outcry" continued the Home Secretary, about to further his point when he was interrupted by Orlette, scowling hard.

"And how do you think the people will react if these allegations are true? Will they be all cordial and hugs if these allegations are true" spat Orlette. A subtle glare from the Queen quietened her down as the Secretary, still rather stunned by her impertinent remark, splattering out in response:

"Uh, no. But it is more a matter of whether they're going to starve to death, or do a deal with the devil to see today through. If I may ask, which exactly would you choose, Miss?"

"The right thing" she replied coldly.

Ignoring the girls comment, the ministers continued their discussion for a few more minutes, decising to holding out on an official decision until more was known about the international affair at hand. Adjourning until such a requirement had been met, each packed up their stuff and departed.

Royal Court of Elyr, Private Quarters, City of Pyrewood

The room was dark, kept alight by a dim wall lamp above a wooden desk laden with paper and a small number of candles covering the surfaces. In the corner stood a small gramophone on a sidetable, and to the right of that a bookcase overflowing with books of all different hues. Reds and oranges as the sun set peaked through the large window which dominated one of the walls, giving everything inside a soft warm glow. With her back to the room sat Orlette at her desk, hiding her face from the Queen who was patiently sat behind her, listening to the girl.

"They did nothing?" Exclaimed the fiery girl, anger seeming to seep from every pore of her body. "They had every piece of evidence before them, and they do nothing?" She asked again, face flush, disapproval lining her face. She raised her head slightly at the woman sat in the chair opposite, "am I wrong in feeling like this?"
The woman sighed, her expression saying that this was, by far, not the first time a situation like this has arisen . "No, Orlette, they didn't do anything" the Queen calmly affirmed. "There was nothing to do. Elyr is reliant on Hastur currently for much of it's import of food. We stop trading with them over a suspected, and officially that's all it is, act of aggression, more people will starve than are currently. This isn't just about how we feel, you need to consider how it will effect those around us too" she reminded the younger girl. "Here, cheer up"
Orlette glanced up and saw the lady kindly holding out a cup for Orlette to take, she hadn't even noticed the woman make it. "Drink" she gently urged "it'll help you relax".
Orlette took a tentative look at the cup "tea?" She asked, unsure to what the liquid actually was.
"Tea" Bree nodded, taking a few steps towards the door. "Tea is what I used to help me get over stuff like this, still do in fact" she added, a smile directed towards her húsceorl go help reassure her. "And sleep. You've been awake for hours, first collecting reports on this, then collating them, and finally presenting them to the parliament."
The girl opened her mouth to argue, but a strong glare from the Queen closed it again.
"Seriously. Rest up, I agree with you. I'll see if there is anything I can do, ok?"
The girl nodded as the woman quietly left the room. She moved over to her desk, moved a small mountain of paperwork to find something specific and began reading through it slowly.

Back in her own room, the Queen pulled out a small ledger from a tables draw and blew a thin layer of dust which had come to settle atop. Sitting down and making herself comfortable she gradually began flicking through and drawing a finger down each page until it came to a rest. The name of contact of hers from Coral City: Ambassador Laquarian. Knowing him eager to establish trade relations between Elyr and Southern Verdasou, he seemed like the best person to contact. Sitting down with a piece of paper, she began to pen out a piece to be delivered in the morning.

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Ever since the escalation of tensions with Hastur, the General Assembly has called for a mass conscription programme that expanded the military capacity of the nation from around 500,000 active personnel to more than 3,500,000 and still counting. Of course, domestic economy has suffered due to the overnight lack of workers, as the effective has switched to wartime training, with entire fields in the desert dedicated to veritable simulated warzones. This further alienated the wealthy from the government, with the business owners complaining that the government has excessively pushed the human resources of Acrad beyond it's power, therefore leaving the market without viable workers. To combat this, the government initiated the programme "Women & Industry", promoting the voluntary sign up of women as labor force where men aren't available. Windolia, as in the case with the other metropolies of Acrad, has seen daily parades of recruits marching their boots down the streets in the cheers of the crowd, women throwing flowers for the brave soldiers and families watching their sons in uniform nervously awaiting news that the tensions will soon drop off between Hastur and Acrad and peace will return to reign once more.

The atmosphere in the General Assembly has been tense, indeed. Ovald, together with his most trusted advisors and colleagues, worked tirelessly day and night to prepare the nation for what was turning out to be an unavoidable war. The political stage was unstable aswell, with Ovald enjoying the wide support of nationalistic political figures and the common folk while the main political adversary was none other than Sir Yuden Bontvon, the infamous wealthy baron of Windolia, leader of the capitalists and free-market militants. Ovald's support from the elite classes of Acrad has been waning steadily, but the government's heavy invest in military assets has seen a sharp rise in the numerous arms business conglomerates, an advantage that has managed to refrain Sir Yuden from gaining enough momentum to break the political stalemate in the present.

@Trinais
Passing through paperwork, Ovald reached the documents that stated "Dresdal Affair - TOP SECRET". Reading through the paragraphs, the General Commander decided to summon Aaron Trenton, who was the general commander's advisor in terms of national and interational law and political affairs, and Ada Zaox, Ovald's advisor in terms of economy and trade.

Ovald: "You know, my lady Ada and sir Aaron, that I'm a soldier at heart and will always be. You have both reviewed this case before it was forwarded formally to me, can you summarize some key aspects of the Dresdal Affair?"
Ada Zaox: "General Commander, the Dresdal Conglomerate is listed as an official public trading company listed on the Coral City's Public Exchange, reaching an uptick of 5% in prices, commanding a fleet of 17 ships from which 12 are officially dedicated to hasturian exportation. We could persuade Queen Kumena to take legal actions agains-"
Aaron Trenton: "They cannot. Our secret services have established undercover contact directly with the Palace of Pearls. Such legal actions could result in domestic political suicide for them, their hands are tied, so to say..."
As the discussion carried on, Ovald scratched his eyebrows, becoming more and more involved into the subject.
Aaron Trenton: "Queen Kumena is more than eager to draw a line from where they are eligible to operate inside acradian territory and jurisdiction in order to 'quietly' put a stop to Jonathan Dresdal's illegal profit off Acrad's stolen oil."
Ovald Regis: "Is there any way we could use this situation to our political advantage? Acrad needs reliable friends for Hastur is trying to drag us into a slimey political stale on the international stage."
Ada Zaox: "Our business conglomerates are listed on the Public Exchange, and with considerable economical impact. I suspect both Acrad and Hastur are major columns of support for Verdasou's market's economical stability, an advantage we should capitalize on."
Aaron Trenton: "As for your question, General Commander, I believe our chances to persuade Southern Verdasou into war against Hastur are slim. We already have cordial relations between eachother as their armada safeguards our exports across the sea, the best course of action is to give Verdasou limited jurisdiction to act in our territory together with the acradian Secret Service in order to stop the Dresdel Affair. Verdasou and Fenice are our economical allies on the sea, our exports are safe with them. Any attempt to distrupt our sea exports would imply Hastur directly attack their fleets, which would rationally trigger their response."
Ovald Regix: "Understood, then grant Southern Verdasou enough jurisdiction to convertly operate across our territory. They are to provide the acradian Secret Services with any necessary piece of information about the Dresdel Conglomerate AND carry out operations together. Any request from them regarding assets and resources, grant them within understandable limits. Public attention must be avoided at all costs, else we risk the capitalists to accuse us of mendling in foreign economical affairs, because I doubt that Verdasou will make public any proof of Dresdel's illegal seize of acradian oil."
The two advisors are dismissed politely, taking their leave out of the General Commander's office.

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Among the rising skycrapers of the great capital, a grim and faceless soldier watches silently the dispersed crowd, his fellow colleagues being met by their families. Among shouts of congratulation and smiles, recruit Skylar was alone in a sea of people. He knew nobody would come to see him for the first time in uniform, rifle in hand and bearing the sign of the 326th Division on his shoulder pad, for Skylar was an orphan for as long as he could remember, being raised in one of the state's hardy institutions for orphaned children. Since young he was indoctrinated into the greater nationalistic zeal of Acrad, knowing only discipline and labour. The silence of Skylar's sorrow ceased once the commanding general ordered the division to leave Windolia and make it's way towards the desert's endless fields.



After a dreadful day spent inside the compartiment of a transportation train, the 326th Division finally arrived at Army Group B's designated training area. The HQ was a brutal looking half-military half-industrial oil refinery complex located inside a canyon the colour of crimson yellow, beneath the scrotching karakusian sun.



The endless barracks dot the encampment around the facility. For the next weeks, the soldiers would train together in the same unforgiving desert, eating the same rations and playing cards together. The routine hardly changed most of the days...



Here, Skylar was introduced to his colleagues, who together formed the 50th Divisional Cell led by Sgt. Norton "Boss" Hentox. The sergeant was a middle aged military careersman. White hair barely began to form on his temples, and his short stubble gave away an elevated status within the military because low rank soldiers are not allowed to keep a beard. His pale brown eyes stared right into your soul and his stocky built body could offer more than a satisfying combat to the enemy. His hobby? Cleaning his boots.
The other two riflemen in the squad were Zaheb "Blondy" Fux and Viteh "Oiler" Ianevy. Zaheb was a blonde blue eyed young man, son of a petty business owner from the 2nd District of Windolia. Blondy was an intelligent and well educated person, with a calm temper. The Oiler was the tanned mid-twenties factory worker from the desert's oil rigs who had some of the biggest and most rugged hands Skylar has ever seen in his life. Oiler's military buzzcut almost hid the curly tendency of his black hair, and he had to shave daily so that his beard would not overcome his face. The last was grenadier Uvy "Wildcat" Jonxe, a charismatic and friendly man standing at 6'2 ft. Wildcat wore a stylish undercut hairstyle, going to far lengths as to keep it as smooth as possible at all times. Wildcat was a family man and a construction worker, having two sons and one daughter back home in Windolia.

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@Blenheim @Wernher

Taking a break from all this stress, the General Commander put on his best suit and watch and went on to step inside in one of the General Assembly's specially designated lavish cars. As the car made it's way through the heavy traffic of Windolia, the car suddently broke down and the driver had to pull aside on the boulevard. "Damned engine, not now!" said Ovald, reaching for his hat in order to throw it aside on the backseat while cursing. The driver, who was a different figure from the old one, turned around and replied calmly "I'm sorry sir, we have to postphone your visit to the Opera House for a little while. I'll see what I can do and, hopefully, deliver you in time for the show!". The driver was none other than Vipir.
Eventually fixing the engine, the car resumed it's course to the Opera House, arriving in the parking lot late by two hours. Dissapointed, Ovald Regix took a step out of the car and had a long glance at the building, before an explosion engulfed the upper windows, rising above the street level prompting the pedestrians to scream in fear, some starting to run away desperately while some threw themselves down unto the asphalt for cover. People poured out of the main entrance of the Opera House, some badly scarred and some eager to survive. In the chaos that ensued, many were trampled to the ground by the crowd, trying to escape. Within mere minutes, a contingent of Enforcerers arrived on the scene in order to establish order and secure the perimeter. With mouth wide open, the General Commander immediately threw himself inside the car and told Vipir "HIT THE GAS, GENERAL ASSEMBLY BUILDING NOW!" as the driver pulled down his foot's weight on the acceleration, leaving the zone in time while groups of enforcerers were fighthing the fire that was consuming the building in the background. The radio was blasting with latest news reports that the Opera House has been hit by a large explosion and confirmed deaths include several government officials and dozen of civillians.

In the same day, a nationwide broadcast from the General Assembly took place, coming directly from the General Commander himself...
"Good evening, citizens of Acrad. I hereby dismiss the rumours that the terrorist attack on the Opera House claimed my life, however it is necessary that we acknowledge the death of so many of our fellow acradians, including my governmental colleagues. This terrorist attempt, carried out within the highest echelons of audacity and unfolded by the acradian Secret Services, is the works of hasturian aggression, without doubt. For too long the civilized nations of this world have allowed Hastur to carry out it's own misery, and this is the result. Let this event be proof to the nations of the entire Othea that Hastur has decided to declare war on Acrad unofficialy in a spirit so disgusting and vile that we can only pity the people who blindly follow the orders of that masked madman in his palace! They are the ones who cried to the world at first that their warlords aren't implicated in illegal proxy war on our very own southern territories, yet when the world did not answer with support, they decided the only logical solution to avoid war with Acrad was to topple the one man who said 'ENOUGH!' in their face!
It is therefore, my solemn obligation to my nation, to officially declare war between Acrad and Hastur as of today, urging the good willed nations of the world to join Acrad in it's crusade against an enemy that would engulf and control the entire world, if he could!"

And so, as of today, the entire acradian military force has mobilized itself...
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"Three and a half million? I call bullshit." Minister Gishath tapped his knuckles on the table, his face a mask of scoff at the newspapers arrayed before the cabinet.

"Call bullshit," Defence Minister Nezahl said, lighting a cigar before taking a puff. "Go ahead. If I hadn't been to Acrad myself, I'd say they're inflating the numbers for shock value as well. But you haven't seen how tightly Acrad packs their cities. And unless they're sitting on stocks of rifles, uniforms, fuel and food, that army is going to be as effective as a horde of futball hooligans. Destructive, but not about to destroy an armored division. Hastur will be in real danger of running out of bullets within a week when that peasant horde goes to war. We can expect orders for everything an army needs to operate in the field within the week- from both sides."

Prime Minister Tishana continued to glare at the papers- Hasturi propaganda, Acrad Corporate Rags, and Verdasou financial press. Along with a half dozen government reports in various states of mess across the Minister's Dining Hall. It was a working lunch without the lunch, and she was glad that the sky was overcast outside the windows of the Minister's Residence, else she could expect another tension headache. "Three and a half million- even armed with nothing but sticks, batons, and pistols- is still nothing to sneeze at. I expected more time to find a way out of this mess. Hastur wanted our backing for a peace conference and they put a gun to our head to get it. Now we have general mobilization and our two largest markets are shooting at one another. We have a full-fledged depression on the horizon now and no markets to recoup any losses."

"Not necessarily," Gishath said, his jowls jiggling as his jaw twisted into a cheshire smile. "I had a letter forwarded to me from a friend of mine, Laquarius. Elyr is an untapped market in far south Karakus. They're friends of Acrad but within Hastur's diplomatic orbit, traditionally, and Queen Bree is not too happy about being dragged to war. But if she breaks from Hastur or Acrad, they'll need a new food supplier.

"We're a bit stretched at the moment. But if we enforce neutrality and cut ties to Hastur, Elyr would allow the ranchers to recoup some losses. Plus I've received confirmation that several more of the abandoned ranches have been reclaimed from the Overgrowth and will be operating in time for the next harvest. Elyr doesn't have money in spades, but international trade must continue. Especially if we cut ties to Hastur and keep our contracts with Acrad."

Nezahl damn near ate his cigar when the Minister of Agriculture suggested continuing to supply Acrad. "Gishath, I can't send our ships into an active war zone! Once the Acrad and Hasturi ships start trading broadsides, all it'll take is one shooting incident to try and drag us into the war on a favorable side. Not to mention the Coral Market will go into a tailspin when the insurance premiums for convoys spikes."

"Nezahl, if we default on our current trade agreements we'll have the RWP clawing their way to parliament when the depression spikes- this is the only way to keep credit flowing and maybe, maybe go to recession levels instead. If we can start selling warship hulls to Acrad to supplement our income-"

Tishana had heard enough of that talk. "No, Gishath. Nezahl is right. There's a declaration of war, that means the danger of us getting dragged in has become too great to keep going about our business. I want the Harbormaster to begin an impound process- no shipments are going to Acrad or Hastur from our ports. We'll fulfill the contracts, but if they want their supplies, they'll come to us. Dock in port, the teamsters will load the vessels, and send them on their way. If Acrad can neutralize the Hasturi fleet, it'll go a long way to restoring the old trade terms. Now, as for Elyr..."

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@Roby6Com



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@Blenheim Laquarian's initial response to Queen Bree II was brief, a very diplomatic and wordy note that could simply be read as "Let me call some people, don't go anywhere!" For about two days after it was dispatched via cable, that was the end of it. The wheels of internal bureaucracy were spinning across the sea, even as the papers were being filled with more and more fanciful stories of mass mobilization and border skirmished between Acrad and Hastur.

The Queen's private telegraph sprang to life at roughly 4:40 AM Elyrian time on the third day, the palace staff hurriedly translating what came through.

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An aging Goliath man sat at his desk, wearing a neatly pressed uniform that gave away his rank of Admiral. He was signing the various forms and documents that required his attention, but his mind was not on his paperwork. In light of the recent international tensions, he was awaiting orders from the Ministry of Defence. He barely looked up from his papers when there was a knock at the door to his office.

A messenger stepped in, saluted and placed a telegram on the desk. The messenger stood at attention as they spoke, “Admiral Shau, sir! An urgent telegram for you, sir!”

“Dismissed” the admiral replied. Admiral Relâ Shau was the head of the Ocrese Merchant Navy. The telegram gave recommendations on how to prevent Ocrese ships from being caught between Acrad and Hastur’s hostilities. Admiral Shau sighed, it was just as he expected. Ships were to clearly display the Ocrese flag while at sea and were to consider shifting routes further north to avoid any locations that could host naval battles. He issued the warnings to both the merchant navy and any civilian watercraft.




Meanwhile, in the People’s House, the representatives discussed the issue of maintaining Ocrese trade. With the tensions between Acrad and Hastur at a fever pitch, the Council was concerned about the impact of trade routes in the Verronto sea.

“...and so I propose that we look for trade that would not be impacted by the potential Acrad-Hastur war.” spoke the minister of trade, Cahaya Lai a member the Democratic Unionist Party

“And, who do you suggest we trade with?” replied a member of the opposition

“Both Fenice and Avalia can be accessed over land. We could strike a trade deal with them and transport the goods by rail. The Theconian Alliance and the state to the east could also be trading partners, but the mountains make it difficult to transport goods eastward” said Prime Minister Aran Cerang.

“It would be best to have Fenice on our side, they would be the ideal buffer between us and a recently aggressive Acrad” said another member of the Democratic Unionist Party.

“The house will now hold a vote on Minister Lai’s bill” said the speaker of the house. There was a cacophony as the different members of the house voted on the bill. In the end, the ayes won.

“The bill will now be passed to the National Legislative Council for consultation.”




The Council set to work quickly, getting translators and creating drafts. The process took several hours and involved a lot of wasted paper. The final messages, worded as sweetly as saccharine, would be sent by telegram.

@Skepic


@Willy Vereb





“Our top story tonight, the tensions between Acrad and Hastur have reached a fever pitch. The Commonwealth has issued warnings to all watercraft in the Verronto Sea.” came the voice of the radio announcer

“In other news, reports indicate that the government wishes to increase trade with Fenice and Avalia.”

“Our final story, there has been some civil unrest in the division of Mar. Authorities believe that it may be connected to a small separatist group in the area.”

“Now, the Ereaux City Orchestra with Soun's Symphony number 6…”
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