Gotha date; RH

 
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Flashpoint
05-22-2012, 11:29 PM (This post was last modified: 08-27-2012 02:30 AM by DiscoPickles.)
Post: #1
Flashpoint
The fish weren’t biting.

Çelık eliye i-Çelık cursed, then grabbed the lucky charm dangling from his neck and sent up a quick prayer to Izha. For success. For good fortune. For something. Two days gone by, without so much as a bite. He’d thought to beat the crowd at the bend by going upriver, into the foothills of the Rudaäl Mountains. Catch the fish at their breeding grounds. And maybe see the army coming back.

He was sixteen.

Another wait, some more cursing, another prayer. Çelık balled his nets up and violently tossed them onto the bank. Still, nothing. Pouting, he dragged the boat onto the sandbank and lay inside of it. His brother would say this was the lot of a fisherman. The priestess would say this was his God-given life, and that he should be happy with it. But, for the thousandth time since he’d seen the army march by, he wished he’d been born a warrior.

At least he had something he could tell his children, his children’s children. The priestesses would flay him if they ever found out, flay him for rising above his station and breaking the sacred laws of God, but he didn’t mind.

Because he’d seen the Crown Prince.

He remembered the army well. It had only been a month. Fifteen thousand men, come to the marches to rain fire and hell upon the White Scarfs for blowing up an iron mine. There’d been fighting near the Grey Nanj. The rebels fled into the canyons and ravines of the mountains. The Imperial army followed.

The whole village had gathered to watch as the warriors passed by. Çelık had seen the warriors, armed with swords and cannons and rifles. He’d seen the standards of proud marcher lords, of laughing coastal princes, of houses older than the empire itself. He saw the Imperial seal and the Eye of the Sun and the wild northmen who held them. Next to those wolves, the rest of the army looked like sheep. But not him.

The priestesses came before him, chanting and ululating, women young and old, the smell of incense clinging to them like a child to its mother. “Bow your heads,” his brother had growled as they passed by. The whole village flung itself prostrate. Not Çelık.

Oh, he bowed low, forehead touching the ground, but he’d looked up, just a peek, and he’d seen Barlas eliye iy-Imre Girayzade. The Prince of Atybek, the Duke of Vesye. A Kaniye i-Hayrand in the flesh. Of course he’d heard the rumors, the tavern talk, the loose-lipped soldiers. Everyone had. The Prince was an arrogant sot. The Prince was vain and cruel. The Prince was a heretic who thought himself the great Barlas reborn. But there, with his army, atop his jet-black warhorse and wreathed in blue-violet silks patterned with the golden plum flower of House Giray, he looked like what he was: the son of a god.

Something hit the boat. Gently, yet strong enough to knock Çelık into the present. He looked over the edge and shouted, scrambling away in fear and surprise. He could feel the stillness, tightening like a vice. Gingerly, he looked over once more.

It was a body, pale, missing a hand. Its rich silk clothes were torn and water-logged. The body itself was bloated, paler than a newborn. Thin trails of blood leaked from the gash in its throat.

Çelık vomited.

More bumps. He looked up. More bodies were hitting the boat. He tried to move away, but a glint caught his eye. He turned to the first body and looked at the remaining hand, to the gilded signet ring on its finger. Çelık’s mouth dropped open in shock as he recognized the same plum flower that flew over the fort, over the governor’s mansion, over the army that had vanished into the mountains and was only just now coming back.

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05-24-2012, 06:37 AM (This post was last modified: 05-24-2012 06:24 PM by DiscoPickles.)
Post: #2
RE: Flashpoint
It was after midnight. The prince came home to his apartment with a black eye, a split lip, and his arm in a makeshift sling. The butler who opened the door, a good, stout Vittmarker, nearly fainted in shock when he saw. Radaš simply shook his head. “What happened?” he asked.

The prince — Imre, Imre eliye iy-Imre Girayzade, second son of His Imperial Majesty Imre Hakan XVIII, Amir of such-and-such and Sayi of so-and-so, a prince of the blood, Izha save him — Imre sat down hard and asked for something strong to drink. “There was a woman,” he began.

“Isn’t there always?”

“This one had a man, apparently.”

“Of course she did.”

Imre rubbed at a nose that had once been broken. “Her man had some friends and a knife. I think it’s amazing I escaped with so little damage.”

“They break your arm?”

Imre shook his head. The butler came by with a glass full of an amber liquid. Imre took a sip and grimaced. They didn’t know how to make good alcohol in Vittmark. “No, no,” he said. “Just dislocated. I put it back myself, but it’s sore.” Another sip. “I think I broke his, though.”

Radaš’s sigh turned into a rueful chuckle. “Perhaps you should frequent a different sort of tavern,” he said. “Was she pretty, at least?”

“Very.”

“What ever happened to Anna?”

Imre wiped at his cut lip. A smear of blood came off on his hand. He’d met Anna av Kulla at her coronation. They’d exchanged the requisite pleasantries, then he’d been whisked away in favor of some other notable. At the time, he hadn’t thought anything of it, but he’d dreamed of her that night, and the night after, and the day after, and whenever he heard her name on the radio his heart skipped a beat. He doubted she remembered him. “Anna is the queen of a fractured country,” he said after a time. “I’m a runaway royal who picks fights with the scum of Vittmark to pass the time. Besides, Mother would never approve.” Imre couldn’t see the faraway look that entered his eyes, but Radaš could, and he didn’t force the issue.

So he changed it. “You got a telegram,” he said. “It’s your father.”

Imre looked up sharply. “Wishing me good luck with my studies, I’m sure.”

Radaš raised an eyebrow. “Your studies? You should have stayed home, then. Women are much the same everywhere.”

“The Stoldavian variety look you in the eye.” For a second, he was back at the ceremony, listening to the herald having some trouble with his name his name and admiring how lovely Anna's eyes were, but then he blinked and he was back in the present. He downed the rest of the liquor. “What did he want?”

Radaš reached into his pocket and handed Imre the telegram. The prince scanned it quickly and sighed. “So, I am to play ambassador?”

“How’s your accent?”

“I’ve been told it’s… what was it? Ah, yes. Electrifying.” The last part had been in Wortsproke.

Radaš rolled his eyes. “I didn’t read the particulars.”

“We want their iron. And their lumber, and their copper, and their coal. And an expert or two. Doctors, scientists, inventors…”

“What do they get?”

“Doesn’t say. I suppose he’s leaving that up to my discretion. Special concessions for Vittmarker businesses? Priority access to the Abhakhan? An alliance of some kind? I don’t know, I’ll think of something.”

“I hear Anna drives a hard bargain,” Radaš told him.

Imre smiled and thought of her eyes again. “Wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said, getting up. “Right now, though, I’m going to bed.”

“Don’t forget about that proof for Professor Wolffgård,” Radaš said before he got up, too.

“I’m trying to. See you tomorrow.” Even so, once he got in his room he took out his notes and sat down at his desk, but it only took one look for him to realize he had no interest in the æther at the moment.

Instead, he walked to the mirror hanging over his door. What would Anna see? A sun-tanned young man with a black eye, an arm in a sling, and a winning smile. Imre couldn’t help but flash that smile as he swept his long black hair out of his eyes.

Barlas always said he knew how to make a good first impression.

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08-27-2012, 02:40 AM (This post was last modified: 08-27-2012 02:40 AM by DiscoPickles.)
Post: #3
RE: Flashpoint
The windows faced east; not one century ago, a setting sun would have flung this room into darkness. But now the palace was one of the few buildings in Tashqau that was lit, not by gas, but electricity. In the distance, cupped by the embrace of the approaching night, Askar could spy the great Devaša, standing tall over the entrance to the harbor, holding its torch aloft against the dark and the demons from the lands beyond the sea, as it had for hundreds of years.

He turned. The Emperor — Imre Hakan XVIII, Prince of Tashqau, High Prince of the Arkal, Grand Marshal of the Faith, Lord of the Sublime Kingdom, and Askar’s best friend — Imre’s eyes were red and vacant, focused on the deep scarlet of his wine and the jeweled rim of his chalice. He had not spoken, not a word, not since before the funeral. He was a proud, dignified man, a good Emperor if not a great one. Askar hated seeing him brought low like this.

“An example must be set,” Asker offered. No answer. Beside the Emperor, Babastıs — his pet wadhbah — yawned, exposing sharp, yellowed fangs. “This will embolden them, mark my words. The night is darkest before the dawn.”

“What will you have me do?” Imre shifted his eyes to his Prime Minister as he spoke for the first time in over a week. Askar could see the fire burning within them. He was a very passionate man, the Emperor. Much like his children. Looking into those eyes, Askar realized that maybe the rebels had made a bigger mistake than he had previously thought. And maybe Askar had, as well.

He dropped prostrate, head touching the ground and hands placed in front of him. “Your Grace,” he said “You are the Emperor. Myself, a lowly minister. Your slave. It is not my place to instruct you.”

“You are the Prime Minister,” Imre replied, standing up. A cool sea breeze lofted in through the open windows, and the Emperor’s silvery silk robes billowed in the wind. “You are my friend. It is your place to advise me when I ask for it. My son has been killed, Askar. The eyes of the world are watching, or they soon will be. What would you have me do?”

Thinly disguised fury and open hate dripped from his every word. The emperor was a passionate, headstrong man: he would do what he wanted, regardless of what his Prime Minister told him. So Askar looked up and told the Emperor what he wanted to hear.

The next day, the full might of the Sublime Kingdom began the long march to war.

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10-05-2012, 07:23 PM
Post: #4
RE: Flashpoint
The battle is fought beneath the light of the great comet, near the headwaters of the Grey Nanj, one of the great rivers that snake their way across the central Davaian plains to the frozen oceans of the north. The southern mountains dominate the southern sky, but the north is open, and empty.

The soldiers in each army are like statues in the wind, their faces stone-cold as the champions make their way forward and bellow their challenges. War is a more genteel affair, in this part of the world, for Ilah teaches that the lives of his sons and daughters are precious things: if one death is the price to avert ten thousand, then that one should be paid. Who can forget when, trapped beyond all means of escape, the emperor Selım challenged the rebel Ismaël, far and away the greatest general of his age, to single combat, with Selım’s scepter as the prize? When Ismaël was slain, his son honored his father and surrendered, and so peace reigned. The Anarians, with their barbaric ways, would never understand this. They worship the world, instead of the heavens, and their morals have suffered accordingly.

Any man may step forth, if he thinks himself a good enough fighter. The duel today is fought between the rebel Arslä and the soldier Ørdhav. It is quick, brutal, and it ends with Arlsä bleeding out onto the frigid grasses. By rights, the Imperial army has won, but these rebels are little more than beasts. Ørdhav falls beneath a volley from their rifles and muskets, and the roar of primitive cannon echoes beneath Father Sky. General Nadaš is caught off guard by this breach of protocol, but his blood is up and he gives the order to march. Much like the duel, it is a quick, brutal thing, and the rebels are soon set to flight. Karakürt finds his friend Ørdhav still alive, his leg a bloody mess. The surgeons manage to save it, but his fighting days are done.

And only then, flush with his great victory, that Nadaš receives the news: Müjde has struck at his rear, destroying his camp, burning everything he could not take.

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