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Bayonets, Brimstone, and Bullets - A Napoleonic Inspired NRP



“The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.”

Otto von Bismarck


Some maps:









Change looms. The world is marching on a new era. Revolutions, societal upheaval, technological advancement, and more seem to fill the world. From the ice cold arctic tundras in the north to the humid tropical jungles of the equator, in the great steppe and the vast mountain ranges of the east, within the subjugated and defiantly independent lands of the new world, change is poised to strike hard and fast. The two great empires, of Quat’i Al-Qarikha and Grakaisaran Imperpulau Anyueva, millenia old rivals, teeter on the brink of war. Around them, the lesser powers both great and middling watch eagerly, desiring to enrich and empower themselves in the ensuing carnage.

______________________________________________________


In this NRP, you play as a nation of your own creation. This is a setting with heavy historical inspiration, but no direct parallels. The best term for the setting is schizotech - this is a world wherein an orderly column of line infantry exchange musket fire after being ferried across the nation by train, while steam-powered drydocks assemble great first-rate ships of the line to rule the seas. While not to the same extent as my other NRP, this, direct comparisons are to be avoided - as a nation taking inspiration from the likes of China or Peru may boast technological capabilities that exceed the greatest of European powers at the time. Vast empires with vast populations, deep history, and so on. That said, this is not a map painting simulator, and if you want to conquer the world, I fully understand, but this is not a Total War or EU4 game and such should not be your driving goal.

Individual nations are player created, with randomly rolled stats serving as a guideline upon which you should build your nation.

This is a world with by now some decently well established lore, and I encourage you to speak to me and the other players about how your own nation fits into it!

Technology is a bit of a giant anachronism, but the most technologically advanced nations could be said to be in a position around the early 1860s, with railways, steam powered industry, and more making their way into the big time. The major exception is military technology - which has lagged behind, and will at the beginning of the RP resemble that of the Napoleonic wars. As the RP progresses, it will catch up with the rest of technology as rifled muskets, minie balls, improved artillery, and more make their way into play.

I invite those interested to join our Discord server and get to know the players already in! This RP will hopefully begin early March, and I hope you enjoy it!

Rules

  • Use common sense.
  • Don't game the rolls.
  • No godmodding, powergaming, etc. You get the point.
  • What the GM and Co-GMs say, goes. Please don’t push things this far. I don’t like having to put my foot down but I will.
  • No meme nations (why do I have to make this a rule?)
  • Don’t be an arse.














And with that, I welcome you to this land - troubled though it may be, and await your own entry into the great games of war and politics that will play out!
@The Wyrm

Fixed!
Bayonets, Brimstone, and Bullets - A Napoleonic Inspired NRP



“The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.”

Otto von Bismarck


Change looms. The world is marching on a new era. Revolutions, societal upheavel, technological advancement, and more seem to fill the world. From the ice cold arctic tundras in the north to the humid tropical jungles of the equator, in the great steppe and the vast mountain ranges of the east, within the subjugated and defiantly independent lands of the new world, change is poised to strike hard and fast. The two great empires, of Quat’i Al-Qarikha and Grakaisaran Imperpulau Anyueva, millenia old rivals, teeter on the brink of war. Around them, the lesser powers both great and middling watch eagerly, desiring to enrich and empower themselves in the ensuing carnage.

______________________________________________________


In this NRP, you play as a nation of your own creation. This is a setting with heavy historical inspiration, but no direct parallels. The best term for the setting is schizotech - this is a world wherein an orderly column of line infantry exchange musket fire after being ferried across the nation by train, while steam-powered drydocks assemble great first-rate ships of the line to rule the seas. While not to the same extent as my other NRP, this, direct comparisons are to be avoided - as a nation taking inspiration from the likes of China or Peru may boast technological capabilities that exceed the greatest of European powers at the time. Vast empires with vast populations, deep history, and so on. That said, this is not a map painting simulator, and if you want to conquer the world, I fully understand, but this is not a Total War or EU4 game and such should not be your driving goal.

Individual nations are player created, with randomly rolled stats serving as a guideline upon which you should build your nation.

This is a world with by now some decently well established lore, and I encourage you to speak to me and the other players about how your own nation fits into it!

I invite those interested to join our Discord server and get to know the players already in! This RP will hopefully begin early March, with the OOC going up at the end of this week, and I hope you enjoy it!



I was killed near Rzhev
In a nameless bog,
In fifth company,
On the Left flank,
In a cruel air raid

I did not hear the explosions
And did not see the flash
Down to an abyss from a cliff
No start, no end

And in this whole world
To the end of its days -
Neither patches, nor badges
From my tunic you’ll find

-Aleksandr Tvardovsky, “I was killed near Rzhev”


Kurkesta-II, planetary capital of Volynogra

A distant rumbling echoed through the still morning air like rolling thunder. On the horizon, flashes of light lit up the dawn sky, the sound of orbital artillery washing over the position. Were she as blissfully ignorant as she had been but a year ago, Melekhova could have mistaken it for the innocent murmur of something natural. But she had seen far too much to mistake it for anything else. It had been eight months since she’d been deployed to the war zone raging across the fertile world of Kurkesta-II. Compared to the vast megalopolises of Mirvolyudki, the cities upon this world seemed little greater than a small town - but they had been turned into fortified citadels, bombed to rubble through continuous orbital strikes. The tank battalions of Mirvolyudki had swept aside comparatively less experienced defenders in the open plains where once vast bumper crops had been sewn. Now, though, they had been encamped in a siege of this city for months on end.

The occasional crack of sniper fire echoed across the near landscape. At times, she would hear a muted scream or shriek of pain in response, then the clatter of answering machine gun fire. Sometimes they would find their mark, and an enemy sniper would fall from their perch. Mostly, the killer would have already snuck away, quietly laughing to themselves. She could not fault the gunners, futile as their desperate returning fire was - it was impossible not to do something. To sit idly by as comrades fell without answering. She had done the same.

Soon, it would hopefully end. Today, they would commence the final assault. Now, the traitors’ holdout would be eliminated, and the rebuilding of the world could begin. She of course would be redeployed to the next hellish war zone - but at least she would not be stuck in this nightmare of a city anymore. She would no longer suffer in this ditch, unknowing if a sniper’s bullet awaited her around the next corner.

Behind her, she heard the earth shaking tremor of ground based artillery opening up, their salvos of heavy shells joining the cacophony of the warships in orbit. Explosives arced overhead, slamming into defensive fortifications. Clouds of dust rose from the earthworks and reinforced concrete structures that ringed the city as the explosives slammed into their marks. Even as the artillery continued to increase in its volume, vast fireballs bloomed across the horizon, bomber aircraft far out of her sight delivering precision strikes on the enemy fortifications. A small part of her swelled with some twisted pride in the power of her nation, but a much larger part of her was filled with dread at the thought of what would await them.

The almighty din filled the heavens and earth, even as the mechanical whine of tanks and armored carriers began to trundle towards the enemy lines underneath the cover of the apocalyptic bombardment. From the trenches rang the war cry of the Sukhoputnyye Voyska, a deep, throaty cry of “URA!”

Thousands of vehicles burst forward from the line, followed shortly behind by steady streams of millions of foot soldiers. Ahead of the tanks ranged minesweeper teams, sifting through the devastated hellscape of mine and shell craters to clear safe passage for the assault teams. At times, an explosion would ring out and a team would be destroyed, or a tank would strike an undetected mine, going up in flames. From the enemy positions, those brave enough to open themselves to the artillery spotters, a hail of withering fire erupted. Heavy hypervelocity slugs tearing through body armor and the flesh behind, directed energy weapons supplied from the broader cluster burned horrific holes through plasteel and skin alike. At such close range, few shots missed their mark.

Melekhova cursed the Raygonians, the Arcadians, the Halcyon Continuance, every single member of that accursed alliance that fed supplies and arms to the scum of Tretirykh. She cursed the foul beings who had begun the ‘movement’ deep within the underbelly of the Union. She cursed herself, for she had lapsed, and had she not done so she would not be here now. And as it came time for her unit to go over the top, to charge forth into the awaiting maelstrom of the final stretch of hellish urban war that awaited her and her unit, she joined in the war cry that echoed along the entire front as she and her comrades took their rifles in hand and surged out of the trench.
____________________________________________________________________________

A sniper bolt burned through the armor covering starshyna Nalikova’s chest. A spray of blood and viscera erupted from the crater where before had been her chest, covering Melekhova’s face and body in pieces of the woman. The starshyna collapsed in a limp heap as the smell of ozone filled the air. Melekhova stared, her mouth agape at the prostrate form of her commander, then up and around at the surrounding buildings, frantic, desperate to see from where the shot had come.

She screamed at her squad to take cover, pulling her machine gunner from her position overlooking the cratered boulevard.

Her vision shifted into infrared as she ducked behind a nearby wall, and she scanned the skyscraping residential buildings. She strained to glimpse anything out of the ordinary for the devastated metropolis, any stray heat signatures that might give the killer away.

Out of a ruined home, she saw something, a faint glimpse of what looked like the barrel of a rifle, warm from the recently fired shot. Forgetting her own self preservation, she seized the abandoned machine gun from its position, hefting the weapon to her shoulder and squeezing the trigger. The deafening burst of the weapon filled the air as her helmet clamped tight over her ears, shielding them from the worst of it. The bullets tore through the plascrete and anything that might be hiding behind it, kicking up a dust cloud that obscured much of her vision, even thermal.

A dull thud reached her ears, and she cautiously took a step forward, and then another, her eyes alighting on the bleeding, crumpled, bullet ridden form that had fallen from its perch. A strange thing, what of its skin she could discern an unusual greenish, scaly material. The eyes, now dead and lifeless, were small and beady, out of place from the squat, densely built body. A rifle unlike their own lay next to it, a strange device that glowed gently with indicator lights. Hurriedly, she dashed forward, seizing the rifle, or whatever it was.

She stood right over the dead body of the foreigner. It was true, she realized. Wherever this creature… a Raygonian, if she recalled correctly, had come from - it was most certainly from outside of the Union’s space. Most probably sent by the unholy cabal that ruled the hive planet to which the thing’s species had lent their name. The implications weighed heavy on her, and she stumbled back to her squad and sank to her knees next to the dead body of starshyna Nalikova.

“My god, it’s true.” She muttered, looking up at the remaining members of her squad. “It’s true, that… it wasn’t from here. The rumors are true.”

Her comrades said nothing, the gunner gingerly moving towards her and resting an arm on her shoulder, taking back her weapon. Another moved up, grabbing hold of one of the starshyna’s ID tags and yanking the chain free.

Wetness fell upon her chin, and Melekhova realized she had been crying. “Her children.” She whispered hoarsely, “She joined for them, she was telling me how excited they were that mommy was fighting the traitors, that her oldest would turn ten soon. She was due for leave to visit her in just a few weeks. Oh god, what do I tell her? What do I tell them? Little mladshiy was due for her first implant but she wanted to be there for her because she was scared.” Tears came faster now, streaming down her face as she sobbed, pulling the gunner into her embrace, “I’ll kill them all.” She said, teeth gritted, “I’ll kill every single one of them.” She choked back another sob, crushing a piece of rubble to powder with a cybernetic fist, not minding the signals of pain, “Why wasn’t it me? I have nobody, why was it her? She’s not a priztuyvnik like me, she had something to give!”

Out of the corner of her eye, her vision blurred by tears, she noticed something - Nalikova’s arm outstretched before her, a small electronic device in her hand. Gently, another member of the squad pulled it from her fingers, before she too began to cry. Her tears joined those of Melekhova as she slumped against the wall. On the dimly glowing screen, the image of a happy family beamed back at them. Starshyna Nalikova’s eyes filled with life, a broad smile on her face as she held her newborn son, her first child beaming up at her with a face full of wonder. Behind them stood five others, Nalikova’s other mates, one of them pregnant, all beamed at the camera. One of them - Melekhova remembered her name being Nataly - had her hand rested on the starshyna’s shoulder, an expression of the purest adoration on it.

Melekhova clutched the image tight to her chest as the unit mourned in silence.

It felt as though hours passed, but slowly the gunner returned, crouching low beside her. “We need to move on, Corporal.” She pulled Melekhova’s eyes away from the dead form of the commander, “I know you two were close, but we need to move on.” The sounds of urban warfare echoed around them in the distance as she spoke, explosions and gunfire muted by the husks of the dying city.

Melekhova nodded, slowly standing from her perch. “I’ll carry her.” She murmured, “We’ll rendezvous with Kapitan Galina. We can move on from there.” She looked around at her unit, “Pass me the thing’s rifle - I’m sure command will want to get their hands on as many of these things as possible. They go straight through our armor.”

An uneasy look passed between the squad and the gunner stepped forward again. “Corporal, her body is heavy. We’ll be slowed down, we might not be able to rendezvous with the Kapita-”

She was cut off as Melekhova placed her hand over her mouth, “I am not leaving her here.” She said, her voice choked with emotion. “We leave nobody behind. I’m not leaving her here in this godforsaken city. I’m not leaving her to be found by some pack of those… things from the rest of the cluster for them to do… Heaven knows what they might do to her! Yefreytor Filippovnu Madgalina, I will carry every single member of this squad back home myself, if I have to. Is that understood?”

The gunner said nothing, her eyes wide as she took a slight step back from the incensed Corporal. Melekhova looked at her squad, meeting each of their eyes in turn. None raised further protest.

Silently, they turned back the way they had come, crouching low as they dashed between points of cover. Steadily, they made their way to the point of the heaviest fighting, following the sound of explosions and the callouts barked on radio. The ground began to shake once more, and the squeal of tank tracks pierced through the air. The deafening report of field artillery shook loose a small rain of pebble sized rubble from the ruins surrounding them with every blast.

The central city square lay ahead. On its outskirts, a forward operating base had been hastily erected. A primitive hospital and morgue showed the devastating results of the final push to capture the city. The moans and cries of the sick and dying filled the air, the rows upon rows of simple coffins awaiting disposal via composting, were ample testament to the cost. Formality was not stood upon, not now - in short order she and her squad had reported to the Kapitan of the company. They had been assigned on scouting duty, to investigate the quality of defenses and debrief command of possible assault routes. Images flashed between them, audio recordings, and the final moments of Starshyna Nalikova.

“I couldn’t leave her there.” She said, after some minutes had passed without an exchange. “I… you saw the thing that killed her. I couldn’t just leave her out there, we don’t know what they might do!”

The kapitan remained silent for a moment longer before nodding, resting a hand on Melekhova’s shoulder. “I understand. It was dangerous, what you did, but I understand. There is a time to mourn, but that time is not now. I can’t have you if you can’t fight, understand? There is precious little time to waste now, I will see to it that you are given time to mourn and contact her next of kin.”

“With respect, kapitan, there is no time for this.” interrupted the gunner, stepping between the two.

Melekhova nodded, steeling herself. “My unit is awaiting orders, kapitan. We are ready.”

____________________________________________________________________________

A red burst of blood splattered the wall behind the unarmored humans, his strange energy-weapon clattering to the ground as he fell forward. Melekhova stared grimly down the sights of her rifle, her heart hardened to the man’s expression of shock. Another one of the Ragyonians - as she had confirmed they were called - hastily aimed its weapon in her direction, and she shifted her aim, sending another two bullets downrange. More blood painted the floor of the corridor, and the thing crumpled to the ground.

An earthshaking tremor rocked the building, and the squad steadied themselves, well accustomed to the impact of artillery on the remaining defenses. Only a small shrivel of enemy territory remained in the city, and before entering the building they had been able to view the other side of the battle, as the encircling army of the Soyuzka i Mirvolyudkiyska ground its way through the defenses. It was a matter of hours at most now until the last defender was killed, and the world would be restored to order.

Gunfire erupted in the room adjacent to the corridor, accompanied by the erie crack of foreign energy rifles discharging. A tense moment followed as Melekhova and her squad positioned themselves by a doorway.

“Three enemy combatants behind a barricade, 3 o’clock, two of our own and one injured, 10 o’clock.” Reported a squad member, watching through a small crack in the wall through which her enhance vision could penetrate. “Wall is too thick to hit them from behind. Solid plascrete.”

Melekhova grimaced, “Just for this one room, I’d like it if we hadn’t built it to withstand the apocalypse. Federova, you’re on point, flashbang and go in shooting. Our people should be unaffected. Nataliya, suppressing fire while we take position. Now move, move, move!”

As she had ordered, her squad carried out the plans to the letter - a brilliant flash lit up the room as the grenade detonated, and the squad poured through the doorway, weapons blazing. Instantly, one of the enemy went down, another unarmored human, her body collapsing limply over one of her comrades, shielding him from the worst of the gunfire. Another went down in short order, her weapon discharging wildly in all directions as she fell. Outflanked and caught off guard by the unexpected assault the remaining man threw his weapons to the ground, crying out in thickly accented, broken speech, “Surrender! Me surrender!”

Melekhova blinked, unsure how to react. She looked back at her unit, her confusion obvious. Nobody in her squad moved, they remained crouched behind cover. The members of the other unit, however, did move. One of them leapt from his position, sprinting over to the enemy soldier and driving his fist into the man’s face, then his gut, his ear, his chest. Again, and again, and again, as he screamed meaninglessly, tears glistening on his cheeks.

“Heavens damn you!” He screamed, grabbing the man and throwing him into the center of the room, pulling his sidearm from its holster and aiming it in his direction. "Give me a reason not to shoot you right here and now."

Relative silence descended, and Melekhova and her squad rose from their own positions. Cautiously, they approached the two, motionless as they watched each other. Her eyes alighted on the surrendering man, a haggard looking thing, his eyes bloodshot and his leg was wrapped tightly in a dirty bandage. She almost pitied him, but her heart held little room for sympathy for the soldiers of Tretirykh, let alone those who had come from abroad to aid them.

“They killed everyone.” Melekhova’s attention was drawn back to the man from the other squad, his hand trembling as he pointed the handgun at the foreigner. “You killed everyone! How many of my family are left?! Just me? My sister, what of her? My mother, my brothers, my father? How many of them are lying in some ditch somewhere?” He stomped closer, pressing the muzzle to the man’s forehead.

Wide eyed, the captive looked around at the others for help, for salvation, desperate for something to save him. “I- I… I not Trah- Trahterick! From Federation! Not Trahterick!” His breath came in ragged gasps, and he looked between each of the observers, seeking their intervention. “I… I like Mirvolyudki!” He forced a smile, his eyes darting between the gun to his head and the other soldiers standing around him. He began to sing the anthem of the union - or at least, he tried to. The cadence was there, but the words themselves were scattered and confused.

“Nikita, put the gun down.” Murmured the second member of the squad, her eyebrows narrowed. “Put the gun down, and I’ll take him and green over there back to camp. We’ve won at this point.”

The foreigner’s eyes shifted to her, his expression filled with hope. He smiled at her, “Y-yes, surrender! I surrender! I lose! You win! I help!” He edged towards her, “Help carry! I help!” The man was visibly trembling, his emaciated body barely looked as though it could support his own weight, let alone assist in carrying a wounded soldier. He began to speak rapidly to himself in his own language, incomprehensible to any of the assembled soldiers. Melekhova debated intervening as he looked back up, “Pl-please! I have fami-”

The sound of a gunshot echoed through the room. Two dozen more followed in its wake as the soldier emptied his gun into the foreigner.

The man fell to the floor, dead, in a rapidly forming pool of his own blood and brain matter. Melekhova stared, wide eyed in shock as he tossed the empty magazine aside, inserting a new one and emptying it into the foreigner’s body as well. Callously, he slid the weapon back in its holster, delivering a final kick to the corpse and spitting on what used to be his face.

“So did I.”

____________________________________________________________________________

At last. They had taken the planet. As she looked out from the viewing screen at the planet below, Melekhova could not help but wonder at the purpose behind it all. Tretirykh had seized the world, murdered millions, and begun a war that already had claimed in excess of a billion lives. What was their aim? They knew, surely, that their war was futile, that the people of the union would stand strong against their atrocities. And yet, how many wasted lives now lay upon that godforsaken rock? How many broken promises lay upon the plains of the world below? How many children would awake, now motherless, how many parents would have to consecrate the memorials of their children, how many had been robbed of family and friends by Tretirykh?

Behind her, her squad gunner lurked, wordless like she.

“You never told me what happened to your old squad before you were reassigned to us, Lavrova.” Melekhova murmured to her, breaking the silence. “You never told anyone, as far as I know.”

Silence reigned between them again as Lavrova did not respond, remaining soundless as she watched the planet gradually shrink away. They had been spared little more than a few hours before being ordered aboard the transports once more, enough time to visit the dead and pay their last respects before being ordered away.

As the silence lapsed on, Melekhova dug out the small device she had taken from the Starshyna, her lips pursed as she held back fresh tears at the sight of it. She would return it to Nalikova’s family, of that she was adamant.

A sound from her side drew her attention away from the device, and she looked back up at the gunner. Tears streamed down Lavrova’s cheeks, her eyes red from crying. It was evident she had been for some time, her cheeks and nose red from wiping away the tears.

“Artillery shell.” She finally whispered in reply, her voice choked with emotion. “A month after deployment. Some… artillery piece supplied from one of the foreign countries. There was barely anything left.” She wiped her hand along her nose again, trying to clear her face of the signs to little avail. “I couldn’t even find their tags. Ana had a letter on her tablet she wanted me to give her mother if she died. It burned with her. I was helping someone else set up a gun, all I received was a sunburn. But there was nothing left. No bodies. No bones. Not even ashes to scatter.” Again, she drew breath, unable to tear her eyes from the view of the planet. “Nalikova knew, of course.” She muttered, and a fresh round of tears began to well in Melekhova’s eyes once more. “She knew, she never told me, but she knew. She told me I could tell her anything, that she was there for all of her soldiers.”

Melekhova nodded, gingerly placing an arm around the shoulder of her comrade. No more words passed between them as they watched the planet fade away into a distant, blue sphere, almost lost amidst the vastness of space. Another warzone awaited them on the next world, and another, and another.
Off the Coast of Imasicia

_________________________________

Surabhumi:
Shridaveh Enheduana
Sarasvati Kusari Adwani
Aasmi Achaerikar Sayyanvar
Sujati Khvamahant Enazhal

Imasicia:
Tingitus Ieder
Mocoricus Udadus
Gafasus Munatas
_________________________________


“They are late.” Grumbled Shridaveh, her boot tapping rhythmically on the deck of her ship. “We were told we would meet at half past the thirteenth hour. And yet I see neither hide nor hair of them. I do not like being exposed in this manner.”

“Be calm, Shridaveh.” cautioned another, Sarasvati, her expression serene. “I do not fear the Imasicians at sea. They may possess a navy greater than our own, it is true, but they will not attack us so brazenly this close to Arcana. For all intents and purposes, we are a simple diplomatic mission to their city. To assault us here and now would make them a pariah in the eyes of all, and would reveal their true nature. No, no, though the dogs of Imasicia may be bound only by a tenuous leash of fear, it still binds them nevertheless. We will be safe here for now until they come.” She smiled, folding her arms, “Besides, Shridaveh. Have you so little faith in your sailors?”

Shridaveh’s face fell, and she shook her head slightly. “I am afraid not, your Honor. We have suffered great setbacks in the training and construction of a new navy, and I am afraid even my personal fleet is far cry from a true force, in quantity or quality. Were those hounds to attack us now, we would be lucky to escape with our lives.”

“Oh, come now, Shridaveh!” spake the priestess Sujati, entering the conversation unannounced, a prominent blade visible sheathed on her back even now. “Sarasvati may be a little infuriating at times, but even she is right! Even if they had the audacity to attack here, our soldiers are the finest in the land. We may not outsail them, but we can always throw them overboard if the need arises! Away with these negative thoughts, they do you no good! We shall dock in Arcana soon to negotiate with them and the Imasicians - and even if those go awry, we have our friends due to arrive soon to count on!” Sujati beamed, “And besides, I’ve seen you strutting about, danger or no danger, the sea is in your blood. You can’t lie to us, you’ve enjoyed being out on the ocean once more. Just smell that air! Nothing compares to it!”

Shridaveh allowed herself a small smile at these antics, nodding slightly. “It is true, I have missed the waves. These legs were meant for the deck of a ship, not sitting in Rhaputira listening to the council deliberating over grain shipments.”

The priestess’ eyes sparkled, and her grin turned mischevious. “I’d say they’re suited for more than that, but I suppose you would know more than I, wouldn’t you? Tell me, did you re-”

Sujati was cut off by a call from the ship’s mizzen, “Sails ahoy! Sails ahoy!” A Sanghar sailor rushed over, his red skin tanned and toughened by years in the sun and salt. “Your Honor,” he said, speaking to Sarasvati. “We have sighted the delegation of the Imasicians.”

Sarasvati’s lips tugged upwards in a small smile, and she looked towards her companion, a slight twinkle in her eye. “See? What did I tell you?”
_______________________________________
“Do Surabhi foreigners speak Imperial? Do they speak Old Imasician?” asked the young Tingitus Ieder, scratching the scruff around his neck. He did that often, especially now, when it had grown in tufts over the sea journey.

“We will speak to them in Imperial, worry not about it,” responded Munatas, looking out at the masts approaching from the horizon. “As long as we do our part and they theirs, we need not fear any misfortune befall any of the Gentes Optimates, which, fortune willing, shall instead pass onto the Gentes Unitates and their sickly lap-dogs the orkh-lords.”

“Everything should be in place,” said Udadus, in his rumbling voice. “Even should something go awry. Let us hope it does not come to that . . .” his eyes glance to the door leading down to the lower deck. There is enough crystal in there to blow their boats, those of the Surabhi, and the nearest beach straight into the spiritual world. All that would be left of any of them is horrific wasteland, dotted with monsters of unthinkable proportions.

“I shall make sacrifice and prayer after. If you would join me,” said Munatas. “Very well, young Ieder. Let us make your uncle our grandmaster proud with our silver tongue and diplomatic manner. It is most befitting of the greatest families, the Optimates, that we keep our demeanor pleasing, lest we become seen as the animals we seek to fight. Signal the landing. Let us bring honor to Imasicia Patria.”
_________________________

Sarasvati inclined her head slightly towards the Imasician delegation, her robes neatly arrayed in the customary fashion of a diplomatic priestess. “Greetings, friends.” She called in Imperial, a thick accent sticking to her words “I am sorry if my Imperial is poor, it has been long since I had need of it.” She gestured to her companions in turn, “May I introduce Shridaveh Enheduana, our naval leader. It is on her ships we have traveled here today. Sujati Khvamahant Enazhal, a protégé of our order. Aasmi Achaerikar Sayyanvar, a commander of our armies. And I myself am Sarasvati Kusari Adwani, appointed negotiator for these meetings. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

She took a step back, allowing the Imasician party to board via ramp, “If you will, please follow us into the cabin. We have more comfortable accomodations arranged within.”

Leading the small party to the specified area, she gently undid the latch holding its door in place, permitting their entry. Within was the personal quarters of Shridaveh, her small bunk visible off to one corner, and an even smaller shelf of tomes adjacent it. Centrally located was a strong mahogany table, around which was arrayed nine chairs. Upon the table sat a large pot of tea, steam rising gently from its spout. A small array of candied fruits, rich cheeses and dry crusty breads, and a small bowl of sugar lay fastened to the table. Though a sailor, Shridaveh had had a difficult time without these ‘essential’ foods, and had thus spent no small fortune equipping her personal vessel to provide for these ‘needs.’

“Please, take a seat.” Sarasvati said, motioning the Imasicians towards the table, “I apologize if you hoped for some accommodations from your own home. I am afraid we lack experience with many such things.”
_____________________________
“Something . . . naval . . . something . . . ships . . . appointment?” Ieder said, speaking in Old Imasician. “She talks silly. I can hardly make sense of it.”

“No, you twit,” Udadus snapped. “You’re lucky you had the good sense to speak the old tongue. Those very words could mean the end of negotiations for the rest of either of our lives. A diplomatic incident!” He reached over to slap the young man, but his partner grabbed his shoulder before they could humiliate themselves before the Surabhi company.

“Please, let us deal with this another time. What’s important is that he learned,” said Munatas, flashing that signature charismatic smile of his, that peeled apart his skin like an oily lemon. He switched to Imperial and began to address the Surabhi. “We are honored that you would speak to us in the tongue of our ancestors, and those of our kin here in Arcana. The Imperial language, I fear, is dying. The newer generation prefers the vernacular of the native tongue of Imasicia. Children, yes? They must be taught.”

“We are more than happy with what you have granted us,” Udadus said, picking a small date and setting it on his tongue. “Eager, dare I say, to partake in these cultural gifts of which we have been given.” He shoots an evil glare at Ieder, shoveling sugary raisins into his mouth without any regard for the world around him.

“Indeed. The foul gentes who disease our senate claim to be sworn enemies of Surabhumi, yet we see their merchants same as ours on the same desert roads, buying the same delicacies as our own, straight off the coming wagons,” Munatas says, gesturing with his hands at the cheese in his hand. When he gets going, he truly is a force, a storm of words. He alone could carry the Optimates through countless victories in the senate, if only he had been born a patrician of the old families. “The Gens Inumedigus, how detestable their manner! It is in their blood, passed from paterfamilias to filius minoris. Say, I believe I have had this before, yet not nearly as delectably fresh as what you have served to us. They call this, I believe . . . paneer?”

Sarasvati smiled slightly, shaking her head. “I am afraid not. It is… Shridaveh, what was it again?” She inquired, turning to the Sanghar woman - mid-bite through a heavily laden slice of bread laden with another cheese. She held up a finger, chewing slowly as she savored the flavor, before clearing her throat.

Speaking in the dialect of Surabhumi, she did well to mask her scorn. “No, Sarasvati. It is nothing close to paneer. I believe the merchants informed me the common name outside of our borders is… brie, however. I do not expect them to be familiar with our cheeses, simply keep them away from my pecorino. That is all I have to say on the matter.”

Sarasvati pursed her lips, shaking her head slightly, before turning back to the Imasicians. “I have been informed the name you might be most familiar with is ‘brie’? I do seem to recall it not being an invention of our own. Nevertheless, I am sure you have had it at some point. It originated from Annotilus, as best I can remember.” She allowed herself a smile, plucking a candied lemon wedge from the table. “But alas, we did not come here to discuss things as pleasant as our cultural delicacies, though I am sure Imasicia has many good things too.”

Reaching down, she pulled from a small bag a detailed map of the region, Imasicia, Arcana, and all other small states that dotted the coast. “Though it pains me, war seems likely if our negotiations in Arcana do not bear fruit. While we have some cursory understanding of your nation’s geography, we are unfortunately ignorant of much of it. We will depend upon you and your people to aid us in bringing justice to… Masinissa, was his name, yes?.”

“Masinissa! The dog’s whelp!” Munatas shouted. “On behalf of all of Imasicia, he has wrought a stain! He is of the cursed Gens Fesus, you see. I warned the old king Bogudus Senior, believe me I did. They are a sorry lot, poor in house politics and too quick with their marriages. That they would have the gall to call themselves a great dynasty, when the elder took that whore for wife . . . “

“What my colleague means to say, is that the actions of one gens is not representative of our kingdom,” Udadus says, barely hiding his disappointment. While Munatas was a performer at heart, and loved his theatrics, he did tend to put a bit too much ham into his act. “We cannot speak on behalf of the king nor the Fesi, but only ourselves. We, who call ourselves Optimates, would never dare any similar action. Very well then, what is it you ask of us to do regarding our . . . man of the subject?”

Unfazed by the outburst, Sarasvati simply smoothed her robes, allowing the young man to exhaust his bluster, and for his older counterpart to continue. She remained silent for a time, simply observing the Imasicians before her, sipping from her mug of tea as she did so.

At length, she spoke, “I am glad to see we are of one mind on this man. The demands of Surabhumi are simple, in truth. We seek to be given custody of this man that he may stand trial for his crimes on our soil, under our own laws, that he may face the repercussions of his actions. We would also demand reparations for his actions, taken from his own finances. The people of Aasiti have suffered greatly at the hands of his army, and the suffering of many a grieving dhutris would be alleviated by this. The liquidation of the estate to which he belongs, if such is necessary, would be well received as well.”

She set down her tea, looking Udadus in the eyes. “In turn, we are prepared to assist your faction within Imasicia. We hold no grudge with your people, nor do we wish vengeance upon them. But I think it would be to the betterment of all that the Regnum’s leadership be of a more… reconcilable nature with the other nations of this world.”

“Sol Inuictus! That’s-” Ieder began, but was silenced by Udadus’ hand gripping his shoulder. They looked into each others’ eyes, and knew immediately they were in understanding. They were talking about treason. The two of them then turned to Munatas, and even behind his unflappable demeanor they could see the fear in his eyes.

“The things you ask, the things you offer, both are very grave,” Udadus said. “It may not be in our power to promise such an arrangement. That lies solely in the hands of the king, and any man who is familiar with his temperament, as we are, will know that he is no friend to Surabhumi.”

“Yes, and your support for our cause, while admirable, may be a bit . . . hasty,” continued Munatas, clasping his hands together. “I am impressed that you are familiar with the factional system present in our governance. However, these things are . . . complicated, dare I say. If everyone could grasp the nuances, then what need have we for senators?” He laughed nervously, just enough to make the point that it was a joke. Even the self he kept in his mind, his honest self, was sweating like rain. Imagine if their enemies caught wind of them making clandestine deals with foreign powers. Imagine if the public did.

Sarasvati smiled. “What seems to be the matter, sir? We are merely sitting around a table, enjoying some delicious tea and discussing our views of politics and matters of state.” She showed no hint of guile, her face a serene mask of innocence. “Any meaning you take from this conversation is, of course, your own. I am but the messenger of my people, as are you. I can do nothing but represent the wishes and best interests of the people whom I owe allegiance to - and the same goes for you.”

In her fingers she toyed with a cube of candied plum, “But, in these little discussions of ours, perhaps it might slip that the Realm of Surabhumi is fully prepared to embark on a military expedition as a certain General threatened, should our negotiations with Imasicia in Arcana fail. It might be said that her demands are reasonable and just, to judge and to sentence one who has committed crimes against her and her people under her own terms, on her own soil.” Slowly, she slid the morsel between her lips, studying the men before her evenly. “And it might be said as well that if the monarch’s whim is not the best for their people, the people’s whim might not be best for the monarch.”

The threat was clear. Ieder wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. The eyes of the Surabhi woman stared him down, forcing him back from the table by the force of her will. In his mind, he could see villages, burning. Cities, turned to dust under hails of fire and thunder. Great Mirgamas, and its Castra Senatorum that dominates the skyline on its hill, turned to nothing but pebbles of marble. The Surabhi armies were a legacy even the Imperials knew. It was said the shield of the old Venda was unbreakable. Masinissa must have found out for himself.

“It is true, what you say,” Munatas began, letting the smile creep back into his face. It was more false than an orkh merchant. “I do not know how much you are aware of the political machinations within Imasicia. We, who call ourselves Optimates, have in late generations fallen out of favor with the kings. From Guba Quartus to Bogudus Tertius, they have been Unitates all. I fear our golden age is long past us. Are you suggesting that to guarantee our continued success, the position of Rex Imasicianus may be . . . rearranged?” That was it. He has crossed the line. The other two would either follow him into treason or betray him to his death.

Sarasvati’s expression remained neutral, and she sipped at her drink serenely. “My dear Optimas - if you will pardon my use of the term in such a manner - I am suggesting nothing. I am merely stating my view of the world. In Surabhumi, we once had a war the likes of which dwarf even our great clashes with the Sangharans. Those who held much power and influence used those for ends that harmed the people. Eventually, a tipping point was reached.” She set down her cup, staring him in the eye. “The census two years before the war reported a population of some one hundred and seventy five million, three hundred and twenty six thousand, four hundred and ninety two. Twenty years later, after the war had been over a year, another census was taken.” Idly, she plucked a small piece of cheese from the platter, toying with it before popping it in her mouth. Silence reigned as she turned her gaze back to him. “That census reported a population of eighty three million, two hundred and seventeen thousand, five hundred and eleven. Even today, farmers find mass graves in their fields. Fields strewn with armored skeletons, their names and memories lost. Entire dhutrisi disappeared, the priestesses who would have marked their passing likewise falling before they could do so. Surely, you know of my peoples’ fondness for libraries and records - did you know we must rely on Sangharan accounts of many of our past rulers? Stolen documents from Odhisa for many arcane works? We not not much of our own history, for it was destroyed. In turn, those who destroyed it were rendered extinct.”

A long sigh escaped her, and for once the diplomat’s expression showed a hint of genuine emotion, “I am telling you of what has happened in the past, and what will happen in the future. Whatever the people of Imasicia choose, the Realm of Surabhumi must react to in order to benefit our own.” She gestured in the direction of land, towards Imasicia. “Imasicia will do what it wishes, and you Optimates shall do as you see best befits yourselves. If you wish our support in changing Imasicia’s leadership, for the betterment of your home as a whole and to spare it calamity, that I can promise you.”

“Can we refuse? It doesn’t sound like we can refuse,” Ieder said, the words passing through his mouth in Old Imasician as he chewed on his piece of cheese.

“The boy has the right of it,” Udadus says, staring grimly at the table. “She has Imasicia at the point of her scythe-weapon. There is no winning, not for us, not with the senate we have now.”

“Faith, my friends,” Munatas said. “Keep hope in your hearts. There remains many paths by which-”

“Let me be direct, for these negotiations must be done. Should you support us, then we in turn shall support you. As our ancestors would say, quid pro quo,” Udadus said, switching to Imperial. “You are right, of course. Radical action may succeed where machination has long been trapped. Just tell us what we are to expect from Surabhumi in the coming moons, and when the optimal time comes that we should raise arms.” He stood up, and extended his hand to Ieder to do the same. Munatas sat, mouth agape, like he had been struck in the back with an arrow. For once, he was speechless.

Sarasvati smiled, though it did not reach her eyes. “Aasmi will discuss the military minutiae with you, know that we each speak with the full authority of the Electorate Council behind us. I am glad you have taken such initiative, Optimas. We will aid you in bringing benefit to both of our peoples.” She stood, inclining her head slightly. “I will take my leave for now and allow you and Aasmi to negotiate these matters. Please, call if you need me.” Making for the doorway, she paused, turning back to the assembled Imasicians, “And do bear in mind, if word of this leaks to the wrong ears - there will be consequences.”
Still WIP


Okay soooo this looks interesting and neat. Been rereading The Color Out Of Space and Shadow Over Innsmouth and I'm always game for some mind warping horror. Could there be room for someone with a nice education from a technical college whose faith in literally everything has been shaken to the core by seeing too much one night? Presumably former military - perhaps having gone on to be a military contractor servicing sensor equipment wherein they saw the wrong thing?

Then, presumably turning to laudanum some sort of drug to numb the crushing existential dread?
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