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End of Empires - N3S III

Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by North King, May 20, 2008.

  1. North King

    North King blech

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    To clarify -- the old debt maxim of "yeah don't go into debt by much more than 50% of your income" refers to annual income, not turnly. It's still pretty fuzzy, though.
     
  2. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    God do the rules elude me - so we're apparently not supposed to spend all of our income in order to get better loan rates..? I completely missed that...
     
  3. North King

    North King blech

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    Don't go into debt by that much, I mean, not to restrict spending to only 50% of your income. My fault for unclear wording there.
     
  4. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    Ignore this.
     
  5. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    Ok that's cool; didn't go into debt at all so things should be fine.
     
  6. Cannae

    Cannae Philosophy of Poverty

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    How many years in the future is this next turn going to be?
     
  7. Luckymoose

    Luckymoose The World is Mine

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    They are always ten unless stated otherwise.
     
  8. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    A Little Stereotypical
    810 RM, Vantyris, Atracta

    "Isn't this a little stereotypical?" drawled Velection, the newly-acclaimed Prince of the Sea, a nuccial fop if ever one existed. "Great Princes, standing around a table, as if we had a voice in the debate." He smirked, gesturing to the court painters who were quietly sketching down the details of the scene to be later made into some fresco. "The great planners of the War of the Kern." Arnach of the Cloud, impressively braided beard behind folded arms, was utterly impassive. Tall, handsome Altrias glowered, clearly wanting to say something, but there was a protocol, and the older brother of the High Prince was, if anything, a servant of protocol. Pubescent Arro, having recently chosen the name Tesias, stood awkwardly in a corner, trying to look relevant.

    Underneath one of a dozen different pavilions nestled among the paradisaical glory of Vantyris' gentle green slopes, they could have been planning a garden party, rather than a wholesale slaughter of thousands of mostly innocent men for something most of them had nothing to do with.

    "It is exactly that sort of sentiment, Velection, which has led me to appoint you as the commander of the army of southern defense," said Zakraphetas, once Idraxis, who sat surrounded by a small nebula of papers. The years had been kind to his appearance. The wounded half was swathed in silver silk, and the face of youthful, impotent rage softened with the gentle weariness of command. "Thousands of quadrants of open countryside, to patrol as your talents see fit. Old Valik will be your second."

    Velection put a hand on his hip, striking a pose that conveyed very severe offense while simultaneously managing to convey that he couldn't care less. "The grand duty of Letoratta has always fallen to the Princes of the Sea-"

    "Your father held that office, in my father's exatas," Zakraphetas cut him off. "You however, Velection, are a hunter, not a sailor. The southern approaches are yours to guard, and guard them well I know you shall."

    "See that my men are kept in comfort," said the Prince of the Sea, sounding miffed. "And I shall keep you in yours, High Prince."

    "Who then leads sails for the Crippled Prince?" said Prince Arnach, his Satar solid but with a strong northern accent. "The riverfolk of the Iom will sail under no Tepecci, this I know well."

    "A candidate who I wish to present to you all for your solemn approval," said the Crippled Prince. He raised his hand, and the doors that connected to the inner palace were opened. To the surprise of the men gathered around the table, it was a woman who walked in, dressed not in Accan silks but in a mail skirt and breastplate. "Velection, you complained of not having a voice at my councils. I will let you decide if she is fit for the Letoriate."

    Velection raised an eyebrow. He had his masks cut rather louche so that they were visible.

    The woman gave a rather stiff military salute. Her once long, curly hair had been cut shorter. Unlike Zakraphetas, the years had *not* been kind to her, and none of the Princes were distant enough from their people to not recognize the look of a fallen woman. "You all know my name," she said curtly. "Venari Velexi. I was once one of you, among the greatest of the nucciosa. I trusted the Aelonists with my fortunes, woman to woman. They betrayed me and destroyed my family's wealth on a false pretext. Dozens of my cousins have lost their homes to the edicts of the Witch."

    "My nuccion in Acca lies empty, filled with rats and wild dogs, and I am made a beggar in my own land. But I am not useless. I may be no prince, but my father taught me to sail when I was four. I served with the trade missions to Parthe as a young girl, and a woman. Furthermore I have commanded the fleet of our nuccion, now mustered into the fleets of the Vellari."

    She raised her fist. "Princes, I will give those witches back what they gave me."

    She paused, staring at each of them in turn. "Ruin."

    "Alright, alright," said Velection, waving her off. "Zakri here knows how to pick them, doesn't he?"

    "Yes," said Tesias. "That is why Taleldil made him High Prince, and you...low, Prince."

    The Prince of the Sea shot the High Prince's younger brother an incredulous look. "Thank the God of Man the future of our people is in such brilliant hands."

    "I'm glad of your approval, Velection," said the Crippled Prince. "Now stand with us as an equal, Letoratta Velexi, and I will explain all your roles in the war to come..."
     
  9. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer canonically ambiguous

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    My first turn and I sent late orders #epicwinning. Hope it wasn't too late!!!
     
  10. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    This is a statement following several recent strains in Cyvekt-Ereithaler relations as articulated by Luckymoose to me.

    Luckymoose hasn't written any official IC statement about his behavior of emnity, roleplayingly grounded in IC attitudes towards recent policies in Ereithaler. So I asked him directly in the chat.

    Spoiler :

    (9:46:15 PM) angst: are we buddies ic
    (9:46:19 PM) Luckymoose: I haven't made any IC threats in here
    (9:46:24 PM) angst: have you sent me angry letters ic
    (9:46:31 PM) Luckymoose: Cyve has
    (9:46:54 PM) angst: ok, then i consider me being ic dissatisfied with you


    So until IC diplomacy has been properly conducted, consider the relations between Cyvekt and Ereithaler powers as quite tense. There is a good amount of mutual dissatisfaction between the Ereithaler Commonarchy and the High Ward of Cyve. Of course there is internal difference between Ereithaler parties, especially religious ones, which is likely to get better during our next update. The recent provocations following Commonarchic behavior (with the Dicaran and Anhalter wars being the final nails in the coffin following the ET's hundred years of Ereithaler expansions, apparently) has problematized the relations between governing Commonarchic philosophers and the Cyvekt.

    tl;dr: Ereithaler and Cyve are not enemies, but they surely are nowhere near friendly right now.

    Note that none of this touches upon Ereithaler-Halyral relations, nor upon relations between Alonites and the Commonarchs, but I'm not sure how that will change pending the update and developments in diplomatic behaviors of all parties.
     
  11. Luckymoose

    Luckymoose The World is Mine

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    Oh, I forgot this is totally how IC/OOC divide works. Excuse me while I redefine language.
     
  12. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    I want to underline that all of Luckymoose's unfriendly messages towards me have been backed up with IC unfriendliness for argumental power -- corrective emnity, political pressure, spiritual and religious concerns, paranoid considerations. If he wishes for his OOC rants to be founded in IC concerns (and therefore with actual argumentative power), I'd like to imagine there is IC considerations that I have to react upon IC.

    If he wishes for his OOC unfriendliness to be strictly OOC, he shouldn't drag IC hatred into them and shouldn't be as unfriendly as he has been.

    Also, I don't see why he would expect to harass me for a month without me reacting on it somehow.

    So I see this as both having IC and OOC reasons. If he wants to demonize the OOC reasons, I say fine with it! I think they don't matter that much.

    Luckymoose has been pretty loud about Cyve's dissatisfaction with Ereithaler (this being IC dissatisfaction) and I don't think Ereithaler wouldn't have been alienated by that treatment (this being a reason for IC diplomatic crisis).

    And for the internal religious issues rising from this emnity (which Luckymoose promptly outlined in the chat) I hope to adress it with my orders to NK. It was already an issue in the upcoming ten years.
     
  13. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer canonically ambiguous

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    This is how northwest Attis falls apart and a new pan-Ethir empire rises from the ashes.


    Link to video.
     
  14. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    Due to some recent #nes confusion about the reasoning behind my prior statement here I have tried amending the quite counterintuitive phrasing of my first line. My post was not about legitimizing IC behavior with OOC statements. It was about outlining an IC Cyvekt attitude that Luckymoose had made quite clear. I apologize for the poor phrasing as I agree it's not a good road to go down on.
     
  15. m.t.cicero

    m.t.cicero Good Kid

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    Naesre, Maehoui Roshate, Faraghir i'Karghae
    919 SR (Other chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9)


    Pahalar yo Szaebalata & Aeragh ieo Ghohaeraena
    The Third Voice & The Lady's Ratarghane

    A ship, small and nondescript, stood alone against a grey horizon, sailing into port on one of the few days of the year when the sun did not shine brightly on Naesre. This is not, perhaps, Pahalar mused, the most auspicious of days for her arrival, but then again, there was not much auspicious about her arrival. Pahal could count on the fingers of both his hands the number of people who knew of her existence and still have digits to spare, and he had been sent alone to Naesre’s harbor to receive her. Altogether a very quiet arrival devoid of ceremony, not, to Pahal’s mind, befitting her first steps on Athis, the land of Aelome, Ghenthiere, and Aerie. Some went so far as to say it was Aitah’s own land. In that sense then, these may not in fact be her first steps here, because she has always been here. As the ship neared the docks, Pahal’s anticipation grew; not only was he to meet her, to set eyes on her for the first time, an honor he never could have imagined himself receiving, but he also had to face Saerhun and Aelie, his friends, his closest comrades, whom he had abandoned in Yevel on his father’s orders. Pahal pondered whether they would even speak to him outside of formalities, but before he could allow the possibility to consume him he felt a heavy weight crash into his back, immediately followed by long arms wrapping around his chest.

    Aer rested his chin on Pahal’s head. “I thought they’d have arrived by now.”

    Pahal sighed. He was supposed to be the only one waiting at the docks, so as to minimize any possible attention she might draw upon her arrival. Alas, Aer was here now, latched onto him, and Pahal found it rather easy to resign himself to that fact. He motioned with his head towards the small ship, as his arms were bound by Aer’s. “That’s them, right there.”

    “Doesn’t look like a Chorus ship to me.”

    “It’s not – at least it’s not supposed to look like one. You know you’re one of less than ten people in this world that knows who she is, right?”

    “Of course; I heard you the first ten-thousand times.”

    As much as Pahal wanted to snark back to Aer, he was too comfortable bounded by Aer’s arms and with Aer’s chin atop his scalp. Suddenly, he felt Aer’s hands wander lower, down to his waist and then inwards, even as he felt the chin move down to his shoulder. Aer’s right hand clutched him while his left squeezed his hips.

    “Once this is all over, Pah, I think we’ve got some business to attend to. You’ve been overworking yourself lately.”

    As he shuddered, Pahal could not deny that he had not been able to spend much time with Aer as of late. Trouble brewing in the Kern, big trouble, had led the leaders of the Chorus to make a drastic decision; the Chorus must pull back the majority of its force from Yevel, for Athis was at risk of turning into a battlefield. Coordination of this grand evacuation had fallen partly on Pahal’s shoulders, and this kind of desk work had somewhat helped to distract him from the horrors he still experienced on occasional nights. Aer had been working with his father, helping him to aid some jabralah or another who was investing in land in the Peko. All of this work had meant that they were not seeing each other as much as they would have liked.

    “I might have to meet with Saer and Aelie for a time, but I think we might be able to make time today.”

    Aer’s right hand began stroking up and down, with a practiced rhythm. “Good. I’d like to be able to bestow you with the mask of the Prince of Seed.”

    Pahal smiled. “I think I might be ready to bear the white mask of Zalkephis again, if only for you.”

    The two had become so engrossed in their crude parody of Daho tradition that they hadn’t noticed that the ship was already at the pier, the dockworkers moving hastily to moor the boat. They both spotted Saer’s blond head, and they both spotted the grin Saer bore as he looked at the two lovers in their embrace. Aer abruptly moved his right hand into a less compromising position, much to the Third Voice’s chagrin, and placed his chin again atop Pahal’s head. Pahal wasn’t sure about how he felt about greeting her while engulfed in Aer, but he certainly wasn’t about to make a scene in front of her either. As the gangplank dropped Saer was the first off the ship, rushing to embrace Pahal, who took this opportunity to work his way out of Aer’s arms without hesitation.

    Saer spoke first, warm and without any of the judgment which Pahal had feared. “It’s been too long, Pah. I was worried about you – I mean, when you left Yevel you were just…”

    “I’m better now, Saer. It’s good just to have you back here.”

    Saer took a step back and smiled, and over his shoulder Pahal could see Aelie’s elegant form disembarking. Immediately however he found his eyes drawn to a small hooded figure, who only came up to around Aelie’s waist. It was her. Pahal wasn’t sure if this was how he imagined his first encounter with her would transpire, but he didn’t have much time to think about it as Aelie’s long strides and the girl’s quick shuffling quickly closed the distance between him and them.

    “Well met, Pahalar.” Aelie and Pahal grabbed each other’s arms and shared a quick peck on the lips. Aelie then turned her eyes to stare down Aer. “I suppose that I shouldn’t have expected you to come alone however; I’m sure you two have hardly been out of contact, let alone out of sight of one another for the past few months.” Pahal felt his face turn hot, and hearing Aer giggling only worsened the situation. Saer and Aelie both smiled as well, though the girl seemed more pensive.

    His first meeting with her and he was already in a hurry to end it. “Well, I guess we should just-we should get going. It’s uh…it’s dangerous to stick around here too long.” He turned to start walking away when he slammed into Aer’s arm, which wrapped around his chest and turned him so he again felt Aer leaning against his back.

    “It would be rude to just take her away without introducing yourself to her, wouldn’t it? I’m sure she’d like to stand still for a moment and get her land-legs back.” Pahal hated it when Aer was able to tease him and still be right, but he was also mortified that he might have disrespected her.

    As he looked her in her eyes, he couldn’t help but feel that he saw the whole of the Lovi swimming in their blue depths. Their intensity did nothing to calm his nerves. “Right. Greetings, um, Ai-”

    The girl mercifully interrupted him. “I am Etresha, Pahalar yo Szaebalata. Saerhun has told me much of you. And you-” Pahal saw her look right above his head, “-must be Aeragh ieo Ghohaeraena. It is good to finally meet the both of you. Aer, I have never met a Seshweay before; I hope to learn more about your people.”

    Aer unwrapped his arms from around Pahal, and Pahal turned to see him scratching his head. “Well my friends always say that I’m pretty Siran for a Seshie, but I’ll try. I’ve never met an Aitah either before though, so I think we both have a lot to learn.”

    “This is true. I myself have much still to learn about Aitah. I agree with Pahalar however; I have had enough of the sea for quite some time. So, mistress Aelie, may we be on our way?”

    Aelie smiled down at Etresha with a mother’s warmth. “Of course, Tresha.” Turning to Pahal her smile faded, replaced by a decidedly more grim countenance. “We have much to discuss. Preparations for the evacuation are beginning as planned, but we still have to decide how much of a garrison to leave in Seabreak. I also want to talk with the other of the Ten Voices, so we should head straight for the Auditorium.”

    The prospect of more meetings made Pahal sigh. “Very well, Aelie, let’s be off.” He looked regretfully at Aer. “I won’t be long. Promise.”

    Aer shrugged. “You do what you have to.” A look appeared in his eyes that Pahal knew meant he was about to lean in to whisper something that would be at best distracting for the rest of the day, when mercifully Etresha piped up.

    “Master Aeragh, I’d like to go with you.”

    Silence reigned for an instant as everybody seemed to freeze at this unexpected request. Aer was the first to regain his faculties. “You-of course you can, Ait-Etresha. Of course if Aelie says s-well of course you’re you so you can do what you want. But, umm, Aelie?”

    Aelie seemed to be at no less of a loss for words. “Well, if you want to Tresha. If you’re sure, of course you can.”

    “Thank you, mistress Aelie. Come on, Aeragh, let us go!” Aitah skipped up to Aer and grabbed his hand before dragging him down the length of the pier. This was certainly not the way Pahal had imagined it.

    ***​

    Aer had struggled to keep up with Etresha, who moved quickly for her short legs, while simultaneously answering all of her questions about Seshweay culture, half of which he was unable to properly answer. On the steps up to Pahal’s apartment however one question she asked stopped him in his tracks.

    “So, you love Pahal?”

    It wasn’t that he didn’t, but the concept that there was one word that encapsulated everything was still rather hard to grasp. One word that said ‘He’s my best friend’ and ‘He makes me feel good’ and ‘He makes me feel free’ and the ten-thousand other ways he felt about Pahal. One word did not seem enough, and between them there never seemed any point in saying it, and every time they did say it to each other at this point it seemed to be the most basic statement of fact, more obvious than ‘the sky is blue’ or ‘the desert is dry.’ Aer thought of the weeks of struggle when Pahal had returned from Yevel, when Pahal could barely speak. He thought of the night terrors Pahal had even now. He thought of how Pahal had told him ‘You can leave if you want’ and how he had only been able to say ‘I don’t want to. I can’t and I don’t want to.’ Just answering with a simple ‘yes’ to this girl seemed to be withholding the truth. There must be something he could say, something to fully flesh out his feelings.

    “I do. I…I like-I like the way he grumbles when he first wakes up. I love hearing that every morning.”

    “That is…thank you Aer.” Tresha was beaming as if she had just found the solution to some impossible mystery.

    Aer couldn’t help but smile back. “I’m glad I could help, Tresha.”

    They walked through the threshold to the apartment. Tresha looked around in wonderment, and Aer realized that there was more wealth in this one room than she had probably seen in her entire life. She twirled around, apparently trying to take in every inch of the place, before stopping and turning to Aer.

    “It is very nice here.”

    “It is. Pahal being Third Voice certainly has its perks.”

    “I’m glad to be here, in Sira. She told me it was time to get off of Yevel, so I did.”

    “She? Aelie?”

    “No, not Aelie. But Aelie said that it was Aitah, or an Aitah, that told me to leave. That was the first time I had met Aelie. The Aitah told me to leave, and that to leave I would have to tell Aelie that I was an Aitah and that I was talking to another Aitah, even though Saerhun didn’t want me to talk to Aelie because he was afraid Aelie would force me out of Seabreak.”

    “Well it looks like your plan worked.”

    “Yes, it did. I went to talk to Aelie, and once I told her the book, the Whispers, was talking to me, she believed me and told me we had to leave Yevel as soon as possible.”

    “Well I’m glad you’re here, Ai-Tresha.”

    Etresha giggled and turned to a table in a corner of the apartment, whipping her flaming red hair, now free from its hood, behind her. “Is that kalis?”

    “Ghels? Yeah, it is. I’m not very good, but Pahal is. He’s tried to teach me but I don’t think I’ll ever be that skilled at it.”

    “Do you think he would teach me?”

    Aer smiled at the thought. “I think he’d love to.” Before he knew it Tresha had barreled into his leg and was clinging onto it.

    “Aer, I want to stay here. With you, and Pahal.”

    Aer knelt down and returned the embrace. “I would love that. We should ask Pahal, but I think he’d love it too.”

    +++​

    After he had shown her around the rest of the apartment, the two of them sat down to share a bowl of Siran olives, and now Aer was engaged in an animated conversation with Tresha on the trials of sea travel.

    “You’re saying that you felt bad, but you never got sick once? That’s better than most for their first trip, Tresh-”

    Tresha was looking past him however, seeming distracted by something behind him. “They are back, Aer.”

    Aer turned to see a rather tired-looking Pahal enter the room, with Aelie and Saerhun in tow. Before he could get up to greet them Tresha was already buzzing over to Aelie to give the First Voice a hug on her leg.

    “Mistress Aelie! I-well Aer has something to ask you!”

    This was not how he had planned it. There wouldn’t even be a chance now to pull Pahal aside and discuss it with him; Tresha seemed about to burst and if Aer didn’t ask in the next five seconds she would. He had to be decisive.

    “Yes – well, uh-” He quickly gave a look to Pahal, which he hoped Pahal would understand to be saying ‘I’m sorry but she gave me no choice.’ “-you see, Tresha here wants to – and we-well I want to-”

    He’d used up all his time. “Aer would like to know if you will let me live with him and Pahalar?”

    Pahal’s resigned but unsurprised sigh let Aer know that his look had served its purpose, but Aelie clearly had been blindsided by this request. “You want to live with…them?”

    “Yes, I would love that very much, and she said it was a good idea as well. She thinks that they will be good fathers for me, and I think so too.”

    That seemed enough to impress Aelie. “She said it, huh? Well then…of course you can; I’m sure Pahal will be happy to take you in. Won’t you, Third Voice?”

    Pahal didn’t seem to have the strength to challenge the chain of command, and softly conceded “Of course, First Voice.”

    At those words Tresha ran from Aelie to Pahal and jumped into his arms, forcing him to make a quick catch that strained what reflexes he was able to muster. “Thank you so much Pahalar!” She kissed his cheek. “Aer said you could teach me how to play Ghels. She loves that game, and she thinks I will too! Will you teach it to me, Pahal?”

    A smile crossed Pahal’s face, and his tired eyes brightened. “Of course, Etresha. I’ll show you how the game is played.”
     
  16. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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  17. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    Nice to see you posting again, Crezth.
     
  18. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    Tectari

    "Rather than dilute the cohesion of the veteran pike [itassi] units, most of the new recruits during the war with the Halyrate were trained as a tectari, an armored bowman who switched to swords for close combat. Zakraphetas seems to have envisioned them as hardy but disposable support units to prevent the pikes from being overwhelmed on the flanks. Lacking the legendary history of the pikes, the tectara were often insulted by the itassa as being vagabonds and drafted criminals lacking in exatas. From what we can tell, the tectara did suffer a much higher casualty rate than their companions, and came from lower origins in society. But many acclamations would come to the tectara, despite or perhaps because of these origins..."

    -Xantar Provyris, Claimants and Conquerors: Vedai Satar in the Post-Talephid Era

    ---

    Velliro was a sullen man. He was always scratching at his face under his mask. He seemed half the time to be complaining about his digestion, the low quality of army food, or the state of his back. To be fair, his spine was overmatched by a superior opponent, Velliro's enormous bulk. He held the technical rank of a naldev, but had never been seen anywhere near the working end of a weapon. But he could walk through a hailstorm untouched and find a way to suck the living blood from the teat of a state teetering on the brink of armageddon. Velliro, in short, was the best kind of military man, the kind who knew how to do anything and everything but fight.

    Men like Velliro are inevitable at all times, and in all places, but especially during a war. That is when they thrive.

    "Sixty pikes, yes. The surplus, for breakage, they say. Look at this haft. It's heartwood and steel, you think they will break? Tch."

    The man facing him in the moonlit field wore oiled leather, the type of broadbrimmed hat that was obviously intended to be inconspicuous but never was, and was dressed as some sort of dray driver. If he wasn't specifically a war profiteer, he was doing his best to look the part.

    "I can give you ninety talci for the pikes."

    "Ninety? Ninety!? I should be pelted with stones if I sold these for less than one hundred fifty."

    The profiteer shrugged. "Ninety."

    Velliro exhaled. He crossed his arms. He uncrossed his arms. He picked at a scab on his arm, then flicked it away. "In the interest of our long friendship," he said, finally, looking at the man with the air of a wounded grandfather, "I can accept one hundred thirty."

    "It is a two moon drive to the camp at Tessaveli, and I know three there who will give me one third your price." He unhitched his oxen, and put a leg up on the running board of his wagon, to climb back on.

    "Go, then!" cried Velliro, lifting his standard-issue iron mask to spit. "Take Tessaveli's rusty spears! I want neither the money nor the blood of thieves."

    "As you wish." The profiteer tipped his hat and mounted the wagon. Velliro waved his hand over his shoulder and turned to walk away.

    They both paused, simultaneously, in the midst of their various acts of departure.

    "One ten."

    "Ninety five."

    "One hundred even."

    "Fine," said Velliro, in complete disgust. "Beggar me and my children."

    The profiteer nodded, climbing down from his wagon to clasp wrists with Velliro, a deal done. Both men tensed at the nearby cheeping of a nightjar, then relaxed. The oxen stamped, seeming slightly uneasy.

    "So, we are agreed?" said the profiteer. "Sixty pikes, from the stores of the High Prince's army, for one hundred talci."

    "Er...yes?" said Velliro. Something felt a little off about this deal.

    "Show me the rest, and I will make payment," said the man, looking him in the eye.

    "A bit formal for you, Rivu," said Velliro. "But wait here." He had already decided not to come back.

    "I'm sorry, Velliro," he said. "You can't leave."

    The back of the wagon fell open, and three men piled out, each of them drawing a long blunted blade and a short sword for killing. They were dressed in dark red leather with steel armguards.

    "Saldeshai!? You brought saldeshai down on me!?" Velliro croaked the name of the military justiciars of the High Prince, fumbling for his dagger while he backed up. He dropped his torch and it smoked in the grass.

    The profiteer shrugged again. "Sorry. They caught me too."

    "The law challenges you for the crime of theft," said the foremost saldeshas, the silver mark shining on his forehead in the reflected torchlight. "Do you accept or submit?"

    Velliro groaned. "Rivu, may you be a slave in a thousand heavens. I submit, I submit."

    "If it makes you feel any better, that was a lie about Tessaveli." said Rivu. "Your prices are always lower."

    "Damn right they are," grumbled Velliro as he was herded into the cart at swordpoint.

    ---

    The first lash of the whip snaked through the air and cracked, leaving a line of red fire on Seffis' back. A crowd of about a dozen soldiers quietly bet small sums of money, mostly on whether or not Seffis would cry out, or how many insulting things Seffis would say.

    "The touch of your tongue is so soft, Birevas," said Seffis with a grimace. The muscular Vedai grunted and whipped Seffis again. When it struck, the young, tanned Accan let out a loud "HA! Haaaaahahahahahahah," causing a dispute to break out as to whether pained laughter would satisfy the crying bet. It was decided that it would not.

    "H..hey, Birevas," hissed Seffis through gritted teeth. "you want to hear a joke?" Whip crack. "Why do all of the camp followers giggle when you walk by their tents?" Whip crack. "Heeeee! B-because Birevas..." Whip crack. "Birevas has such big muscles, but such a small PAAAAHH, hahahaha...ha..." The crack of the whip managed to cut off his punchline. "O..oh Birevas, it's not the size of your..." Whip crack. "force, it's how you deploy it. Read your Rutarri."

    "This crime of dishonor is satisfied," said Birevas after a few more lashes, among a chorus of groans; the majority of the company had bet against him not breaking. "Your contract as itassi is terminated with penalty. I will let the factor explain the rest. Unit dismissed." The stoic Vedai captain wiped the front of his blood-spattered tunic and walked from the mustering field.

    "F...factor, what factor? THE factor?" said a dazed, bloody Seffis to one of Birevas' lackeys who untied him from the whipping post. "Get up," the man said, roughly pulling him to his feet. He then proceeded to march Seffis half-naked through the camp, set in organized rows of tents with designated latrine trenches, wells and cooking areas that spoke of Accan efficiency and Sephashim civil engineering. As they went, acquaintances jeered at his lashes or made catcalls, to which Seffis replied with gusto, earning him another harsh shove from his captor each time.

    They eventually arrived the pavilion of the army factor, a nuccial representative who handled financial affairs, payments and debts for the army. "Inside," said the man, pushing him roughly through the opening.

    The factor's pavilion was well furnished. Some beautiful Accan tapestry hung behind his desk, depicting bounties flowing from the font of the world. The furniture was made of light, springy wood, clearly imported, polished to a sheen. The factor's desk was covered in papers with figures on them. Seffis could not read them, of course. One of the mysterious magic boxes the factors used to make gold clicked away on the desk, the factor looking at it, then scribbling a note on his paper. This continued for several minutes, Seffis fidgeting shirtless in his blood-stained trousers.

    "Seffis, no nuccial name, first ranked itassi, fourth company, Southern Wolves itassa regiment." The factor read this without emotion off one of his papers.

    "That's me," said Seffis.

    "The traditional punishment for dishonorable dismissal from the armies of the High Prince is three years debt slavery, or a fine of five hundred talci. Mining, aqueduct detail, gutter cleaning..."

    "Any punishments with a little less tradition?" quipped Seffis.

    The factor set down the magnifying lens he had been using, to stare at Seffis for the first time. It was enough of a look to make even him sink down into his chair. "The High Prince," said the factor with a voice made of acid, "has decreed that veteran soldiers convicted of low crimes may redeem themselves through a decade's service as tectari officers. You would continue to be paid, and would receive the benefits of state land at the end of your term."

    "What a prince! He's got a crippled body but a heart of gold."

    "You might save the comedy for the arena," said the factor. "You will be commanding recruits, training them in sword and bow, and leading them into battle to protect the itassa. And the saldeshai will be watching."

    "Are all my men honorless criminals as well?"

    "Some. Not all."

    "Well, we'll strip the honor from the stragglers soon enough."

    "Seffis," said the factor. "The law specified commander's discretion. Birevas could have sent you to debt labor, but he recommended this instead."

    "And I'm supposed to be grateful?"

    "Yes, you ARE," snapped the factor, leaning forward in his chair. He took a deep breath, then sat back, wiping his forehead with a cloth. "In another warrior less skilled, your level of insubordination would merit blood slavery or execution. But...given that the tectara are to prize bravery over discipline, your traits are now necessary for the exatai."

    "What can I say, I got exatas," said Seffis, crossing his arms. "And that's what counts."

    The factor pursed his lips. "I will have you escorted to your new tent. You will meet your naldev there. Congratulations, Vatakasa Seffis," he said sarcastically.

    "Listen, Factor...Aperri, Tevecci, whatever big house you came from. I came here to kill people that don't like Vellari. I like doing it, and I'm good at it. And my men will win. That what you wanted to hear?"

    "As close to a statement of loyalty as I'm going to get," said the factor. "Just go."

    ---

    Seffis was trying on his new equipment when the naldev finally arrived. The boots were not perfect, but new boots never would be. The armor was well-made steel, ornamented with a bold, calligraphic 'tal' over the chest plate. Soft undergarments, too, probably linen or southern cotton. He was starting to like this captaincy thing.

    And the balance of his sword...itassa swords were short, stubby afterthoughts. If you had to use it, the battle was won or you were doomed. But this was a longsword meant for killing axemen, not the mounted Tephrans their army had been skirmishing against for generations. He walked himself through a few steps of a form, testing the heft. It would take time to get used to the extra weight.

    Suddenly, a giant pudding of a man was in his tent.

    "Er," said Seffis.

    The man saluted. "I am Naldev Velliro, formerly of the Second Star. Now of...whatever this is."

    "It's called the first into the breach suicide squad, Velliro. I'm the fearless captain, Seffis."

    "What did you do to deserve this?"

    "Have you heard the old bit about the Vedai and his horse?"

    "Who hasn't?"

    "Well I was doing Birevas, my commander, with the horse, when he walked in on me. I had his accent perfect and everything."

    The fat man laughed incredulously. "And he didn't kill you."

    "I consider this a death sentence."

    Velliro grunted in agreement. "But I'm too old for aqueducts."

    "I'm sure you'd have been bought as a concubine for Vantyris. What's your crime?"

    Velliro laughed bitterly. "I'm a naldev, what do you think?"

    "Stealing, or boys. Probably boys." Seffis laughed at the expression on Velliro's face and slapped his arm. "I'm kidding. So you're a thief. Everyone's a thief."

    "I stole four kashim from the army before I was caught."

    Seffis' eyes widened. "Kashim!? That's like a thousand...hundred...million talci." Seffis could not do math.

    "It was just too easy. So much money coming in for the war."

    "Well, the Cripple's tightening belts, and that weasely factor can smell a loose copper from a quadrant away."

    Velliro sighed, stretching his back. "I was going to buy an island. Just a little one, off Ritti."

    "Exatas," said Seffis.

    "Tell me that at least there's something decent to eat in this camp."

    "There's only room for one comedian in this unit, naldev."

    Velliro sighed again. "This is going to be a long war."

    ---

    Appendix - Vellari Military Terms

    tarkan - A 'friend' of the prince, in practice an experienced equestrian warrior-commander trained from birth for command. Command several thousand men and answer only to the prince or army commander.

    taltalik [tetalli] - A captain of captains. Often (but not always) rise from among the captains via challenges. This is typically the highest rank to which a common soldier can rise. Are in contact with the command staff, and control block groups of several hundred men.

    vatakasa - A captain. Leader of approximately 40-80 men, depending on the unit type. Typically take orders from a taltalik or in rare cases, the tarkan commanding a wing.

    naldev - Something of a sergeant major, responsible for maintaining discipline and ensuring rigor and orderliness in a company's stores and equipment. Are supposed to be fighters as well, but sometimes lapse into the role of quartermasters.

    saldeshas - Military police with wide-ranging powers. Issue battle-challenges in the name of the law, and have the right to bind and transport criminals among military or civilian populations. Can subdue or kill those resisting arrest.

    itassi (p. itassa) - Pikemen. Notable for their discipline and prestige.

    tectari (p. tectara) - Sword and bowmen. A new unit created by Zakraphetas to help protect the pikes.
     
  19. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
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    Location:
    In the desert
    A popular 'tal' symbol in the 8th-9th centuries RM, similar to the one Seffis would have on his armor. This example is a mostly symmetrical reflection of the letters 't' 'ah' 'l', read vertically as with most Satar writing.

     
  20. m.t.cicero

    m.t.cicero Good Kid

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
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    Location:
    m.A.A.d city
    it is known
     

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