Autumnal Melancholia

Discussion in 'The World Stage' started by Serenierre, Oct 27, 2018.

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  1. Serenierre

    Serenierre Well-Known Member

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    Corps Expéditionnaire Occitanie
    LT. GEN. SYLVESTRE A. DAMAS

    Rapport Confidentiel
    The IX Corps in the Protectorate of Occitania is continuing to face pockets of resistance, particularly in the mountainous and forested areas of the country. The dimension of the resistance is resoundingly anti-Serenien and anti-proletarian, as the guerilla fighters have among their ranks former personnel belonging to the royalist military, Cathar extremists, criminals, and other disenfranchised members of the Occitanian populace.

    On account of the general breakdown in public order in the immediate aftermath of the division of the Kingdom of Occitania, the Serenien military was unable to stop the trickle of such elements out of controlled urban settlements to the rural areas. The Protectoral authorities, recently impowered, still lack the manpower and authority to exert control in far flung rural areas. Hence, our reliance on the patchwork of dodgy and unreliable feudal figures is a necessity at present.

    I. INSURGENCY STRENGTH
    Intelligence operations in the troubled areas have led us to believe that the approximate strength of the nascent guerilla movement is somewhere in the range of 8,000 to 12,000, who are embedded in the chain of fortifications that were built by the Kingdom of Occitania. They are also noted to have established underground tunnels and networks in the densely forested areas leading up to the mountain range locally called "the God's Range" --- which forms the international border with the Republic of Fruielle.

    II. COUNTER-INSURGENCY MEASURES
    We have so far approached the matter so as to contain the guerillas as much as possible, while our efforts to stabilize the coastal and urban settlements in Occitania was ongoing. Now, with the Protectorate's central secretariat taking charge of the urban areas, our focus can be diverted to tackling the issue in a more robust manner.

    To that effect, we envisage the deployment of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, 17th Mountain Warfare Brigade, and 120th Special Air Wing to the operation. Furthermore, on account of the densely
    forested nature of the region, we may need further provision of night-vision and heat-vision equipment to tackle the guerillas effectively.

    III. ANTI-PIRACY OPERATIONS
    We have been engaged in considerable anti-piracy operations with cooperation from the Aurarian military. At present, the naval base set up at Lyons by the Serenien Navy is hosting 2 destroyers and 3 anti-submarine frigates from the Eastern Fleet. This naval unit is operating across the western Occitanian coastline as Flotilla 31B.

    In the air, the Serenien Air Force is primarily mounting heavy maritime patrolling by use of its K-130 and K-29 fighters, with the former providing the bulk of the patrolling and the latter engaging only with particularly threatening situations. The Air Force has devoted 12 K-130 jet fighters and 6 K-29 fighters to the task. The anti-piracy operations by air are generally more aggressive and all aircraft have been authorised to use force against pirate vessels.

    IV. BORDER WITH THE KINGDOM OF OCCITANIA
    The Serenien Military is maintaining strong defensive posture on the inner-Occitanian frontier and is respecting the demilitarised zone as established by the Treaty of Camp Hill. No adverse or threatening activity reported. We have established a highly mobile line of defense in the region.

    V. INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS
    The Directorate 77 is fully empowered to act in Occitania and has arrested several hundred individuals associated with war crimes viz. use of child soldiers, crimes against civilians, and breaches of civil rights. Furthermore, D77 is engaged in an effective campaign of infiltrating Occitanian society and rooting out counter-Serenien or counter-Protectoral sentiment.

    THIS REPORT HAS BEEN PREPARED FOR THE SUBCOMMITTEE FOR WAR, COMMISSARIAT OF PEOPLE'S DEPUTIES.
     
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  2. Serenierre

    Serenierre Well-Known Member

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    With the country engaged in the elections, Archbishop Dominique Hippolyte knew that his chance to strike had arrived. Quietly, in small groups, he and his priors had been arranging small prayer groups across the country. Many devoted and faithful had heeded the call and had sent him coded letters indicating their own willingness to take part in the project that had come to haunt Archbishop Hippolyte since the day Serenierre had defeated the Kingdom of Occitania.

    Thwarted for months by the hawkish Martinique, the Archbishop had only now sensed the winds were blowing in his favour. In between elections, he knew, there was a murkiness in the bureaucratic system. No one knew who was the final authority. Should they trust the old government or the new one? Even now, even as Martinique was bound to return again, the same paralysis had struck many governmental departments.

    Prior Adolphe had been the one to rent the car. Very carefully, the Archbishop entered the car, with black shades blocking out the windows at the back. It was essential that as they left Villesen, no one would gather that the Archbishop had slipped out of his Cathedral in the middle of the night. As the car left the main compound, there were about twelve other such cars, of various makes and sizes, which had been waiting. At random intervals they started leaving, following the unassuming car with the sun shades at the back seat.

    Several buses in some other cities had also already started the journey. All in all, Dominique had been pleased to note the neat figures provided by Prior Adolphe. The Archbishop could count on the presence of nearly 600 faithful devotees who believed in his mission.

    In silence, Dominique swayed gently as the car moved and he mouthed silent prayers. At seventy three, he was not particularly old by Serenien standards. He still had much strength and vigor in him. But he knew the challenge he had undertaken would be difficult. He steadied his nerves. And called on the Divine to aid him in its cause.

    The car drove on.
     
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  3. Serenierre

    Serenierre Well-Known Member

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    The Pilgrimage of St. Bernard || The Archbishop ventures forth

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    Aurignac Pass. The famed threshold at the edge of Christendom had historically marked the frontier between the old Kingdom of Serenierre and the Cathar Kingdom of Occitania.

    Two hills pierced the verdant countryside, each topped by a large watch tower. These two outposts were once at the forefront of the defense against heresy. Once, long ago, each of the watchtowers would have been full of good Catholic soldiers, on guard against the evil. Now, so many centuries later, in lands that would have once teemed with life, everything stood silent. Only the faint sound of traffic in the distance disturbed the stillness.

    Modernity had truly seemed to have swept that place into irrelevance. In fact, the modern highway between the Serenien city of Béhoust and the Occitan city of Espidiz bypassed this entire area. In fact, during the Seven Day War, not a single instance of military activity took place here. Thank goodness, for the modern highway had only recently been rebuilt after what the Serenien military had done to it.

    Dominique remembered reading about this place as a young novice. It had been a part of his historical study to read about the great atrocities committed by the Cathar heretics against Catholics. While the laity seemed to have forgotten these indecencies, the priesthood of Serenierre remembered it well. He shuddered as he remembered the grizzliest incident to have taken place in this place. The Battle of Aurignac from 1344, when a Cathar army had butchered thousands of Sereniens during King Clovid's crusade.

    Perhaps, Dominique thought, it was for the best that this land had fallen away in importance in the grand design of the Machiavellian politicians and statesmen. The spirits of the martyrs had some peace.

    The seventy eight year old Archbishop stood still, barefoot, carrying the Cross of St. Bernard on his shoulder. He looked at the dirt path that wound its way down to the valley below. It was here, he knew well, that every Serenien martyr and crusader had started their journey into Occitania. All seven crusades had started from here. And now, he, the unassuming son of a cobbler from Bonnelles stood there with the holiest relic of St. Bernard of Villemarne - the most important of all martyrs in the struggle against Occitan heresy.

    The priests from the archdiocese of Villesen stood silently behind Dominique, almost reverently at the challenge that the man had volunteered himself for. For, they, all much younger than he, stood in their running shoes and with walking sticks to support them. Dominique, however, was in a simple cassock and barefoot. He was already tired after the two day long protest but he ignored his aching back and his tired legs. And of-course, his shoulders already throbbed with the weight of the cross.

    He took in a deep breath. Closed his eyes for a moment. "Pater sancte det mihi vires." A gentle breeze blew up against him. Shoring up his strength, he looked up at the sky, beautiful white clouds and a warm spring sun greeted him. "In nomine Dei. Quoniam iustus et fortis et S. Bernard!" he said loud.

    The priests and the lay pilgrims repeated the Latin chant. With a heave, Dominique lifted the cross and started to descend down the sloping path.

    He drew a deep breath and started to descend down the sloping path.
     
  4. Serenierre

    Serenierre Well-Known Member

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    Maison de Peuple || The Commissariat for People's Deputies
    The three conservative leaders, Charles Millerrand, Herve Rousseau and Sylvestre Choiseul were sitting in the lobby rather pleased with themselves, clearly gloating over the events of the past day. Elisabeth darted them a look of pure hatred but they smiled in return. She knew why they were so happy.

    Over the course of her eleven years, she had championed the cause of legislative autonomy as a counter-balance to unchecked power of the Politburo. The three conservatives absolutely hated this strange notion. The Politburo was the guiding force of the Party. The Commissariat was only to approve or disapprove. It could not steer the ship, Millerrand used to say in his own speeches.

    She hated it that they had been proved correct. The resolution passed by her own deputies, some 50, demanding a stronger commitment from Auraria to the establishment of a Gallian alliance as a condition of Serenien military support had played out horribly in the press. These fifty deputies had sealed their political careers by making Elisabeth seem weak before the world at such a critical juncture. They would obviously be replaced at the urging of the Communist Party's internal Secretariat.

    They had forgotten, she told herself, that deputies were not elected in Serenierre. It was the leader who got the votes.
     
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  5. Serenierre

    Serenierre Well-Known Member

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    Somewhere in the Barimagne Range
    Only in the mountains could the Old Faith stay strong. The Old Faith which had recoiled under the onslaught of the Serenien papists, now cowered in the hills. In old bunkers and fortresses of the defeated royal army of Occitania, the disillusioned and the disgruntled gathered alike. The sleepy villages which dotted the entire length of the valleys and ravines were full of such resentful Faithfuls.

    Carlos Neurvetto never quite imagined his life would have turned out in this way. As a youth of only seventeen years, he had thought he would be working in the Duke of Lions' estate, just like his father and grandfather used to. Alas, that was simply not to be. The Old Duke had been forced to flee and the New Duke had turned the entire estate over to other people. The Neurvetto family was cast aside in the dynastic change. His mother and eldest brother had gone south to the Kingdom. His father and younger sister had joined him in the Barimagne mountains. And like that, his old life had ended.

    Carlos, now well in his eighteenth year, had learnt many things in the past six months. He had learnt how to fish in the cold waters of the many streams that dotted the mountain valleys; to slaughter goats and milk them (they were much harder than cows!); and he had learnt to fire guns and throw grenades from the veterans of the Occitan Militar. But most important of all, he had learnt to love.

    Carmen was her name. And she had made him a man. Night after night. Sweet communion.

    As the clouds floated up above him that cool afternoon, he lay lazily in the shade of a tree. Absentmindedly, he played with his knife, twirling it between his fingers. He had perfected this skill now and he would never cut himself. Yes, Carmen, she was much older than him. Easily the most beautiful woman he had ever known. She had been a prostitute in Viasinde but had escaped shortly before the war to escape an adultery trial. The poor woman had been through far too much. And now, she had found Carlos to defend her.

    She told him stories of the Cathar religion in old songs and filled his belly with the fire of the Old Faith. Never again would life be the same. He had found Carmen. His life had changed totally and yet was never more complete.
     
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  6. Serenierre

    Serenierre Well-Known Member

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    The Politburo Chamber -- Fortress of Villesen
    The Politburo was meeting to discuss the appropriate response to the sanctions from Lars. "While natural instinct is to follow the advice of our generals," Herve Bettancourt, the recently exonerated Defense Commissar spoke, "In the intelligence briefings that I have received, I am of the view that such a hammer strike will not work effectively against the Grand Duchy."

    "I agree," Commissar Lavosnier spoke up, "The chatter seems to suggest that the Grand Duchy is merely a pawn designed to aggravate us. As we know, many dangerous nations are most disturbed by the primacy of Serenierre in Gallia. They are attempting to aggravate us. It is quite plain to see."

    Elisabeth waved her hand. "Oui, I am well aware of all of that. But what are we to do with Lars? How stern should our response be? Obviously, I am against war as well. At least for now. Let me bring the discussion back to the agenda. Should we follow the regimen proposed by Commissars Lavosnier and Bettancourt or the plan proposed by Commissar Villepin and de Vosges. Let's take a vote."

    Office of the Military Governor,
    Lions - Protectorate of Occitania
    Major General Sylvestre Damas never quite knew what to think of his role as the Military Governor. It was a strange office to occupy. The representatives of the Central Secretariat were almost treating him like a king, which was unnatural to his proletarian sensibilities, but they could not be blamed either. The Occitan culture had no other context by which to relate to individuals in power. But, sitting there in the office, as one secretary after another entered and exited his office, he found himself lost momentarily in thought.

    He had heard of the sanctions targeting him. First, it had been Touzen, then the Larsian, and then the Justosian, and then the Virumaan. It was strange indeed. He hadn't done any of the crimes that the old regime had done and yet he was being targeted in that way by these far off entities.

    "Sir," one of the secretaries from Central Secretariat stood at the doorway, "May I enter?"

    "Oh, yes, of course," Sylvestre said slightly frazzled. "Nice to see you again. So, I assume you must be in for our briefing on..."

    "Urban redevelopment sir. I am the new Under-Secretary for Urban Redevelopment."

    "What happened to Benjamin?"

    "Transferred to health and social services"

    "Well, good for him." He gestured to the chair in front of his desk, "Please, take a seat. So, how are the efforts going in the north?"

    "Viasinde and Espidiz have slowed down over the past week due to rains but the main motorways are complete there. The standards in the camps have also improved due to better facilities. The land for the housing schemes in the outskirts is ongoing, although we are currently at the preliminary stage of levelling the land."

    "The central cities?"

    "All are 70 to 80% to normalisation. We have started the balloting for the housing schemes there. The low cost housing plans and apartments blocks have really been erected well. But we still need better water connections in Calloza and Calongo. In Almezde, the recent narcotics agriculture plantations have enhanced demand for jobs there. But we are in shortfall of housing so the camps are still there."

    "Overall, how many internally displaced people are still in camps?"

    "No definite numbers, sir, but the numbers have gone down from last year. But the heaviest presence of these camps is in Viasinde and Almezde. In Viasinde and Ezpidiz the recovery, as you know, will be slow due to the scale of the military operations there. But I am certain that by the end of the year considerable gains will be made in the central cities."

    "Lions, is doing quite well though. I noticed that the fruit markets are selling quite excellent goods."

    "Yes, sir, and the Central Secretariat has kept a tight watch on price hikes in the southern cities although we are not able to do the same in the northern cities, which still require subsidies and rations."

    "Have the sanctions affected the people?"

    "Not really. However, the Central Secretariat has been struggling in some non-Gallian supply contracts."

    "We need to rectify that. Perhaps look for replacements in Gallia. @Neustria and Gunnland">@Gunnland might be worth cultivating links with."

    "Yes, sir, we are in process of approaching them. However, the Chief Secretary has asked me to enquire what your approach would be if the Protectorate approached @Eiffelland for certain supply contracts, as well."

    Sylvestre could tell the young undersecretary was extremely nervous as he asked him. He smiled reassuringly. "I think as long as the Chief Secretary thinks that approaching Eiffelland might be fruitful for the recovery of civilian life, I do not think that there is anything in the Basic Law which prevents the Central Secretariat from using its discretion. Obviously, my own concern would be to ensure that there are no security lapses if we start trade with Eiffelland. But if it is in the interests of the people, I see no reason to doubt the Chief Secretary."

    He sensed the relief on the young man's face.

    Somewhere in the Barimagne mountains
    Carlos Nuervetto was on watch duty that afternoon. In the tall trees, the soldiers of the Occitan Militar had established pillboxes and small nooks from where they could keep watch. Although now, in this nomadic existence in the mountains, the smaller pillboxes were manned by civilians like Carlos. He had a bolt action rifle slung on his shoulder and his eyes keenly focused on the dirt path below.

    Suddenly, a deer poked out from the trees and seemed to be disoriented in the light of the sun. The trees were thick in the mountains, such was the pristine state of these glorious mountains. Carlos took his rifle, carefully aiming it at the deer. It had been a long time since he had good meat. In the villages, they tended to only slaughter the older cattle, which had stopped producing milk. And, quite frankly, chicken was hardly a meal fit for a warrior.

    Bang. The boy shot. And missed. The deer ran off into the darkness of the forest. Merde, he thought. Lentils and eggs on rice again. He slumped back into position. His watch ever more diligent.

     
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  7. Justosia

    Justosia Well-Known Member

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    The speech was flanked by Occitan & Justosian flags & coats of arms. Occitan first of course. HRH Justoccitan Crown Princess Mirèo de Marsilia-Francisco I wrote the speech, meant the speech, yet every word was of course approved beforehand by her Father-in-law the Emperor. In it she formally accused Grand Duke & 'king' Caeso de Tote of murdering her beloved father the late King Julius Faure de Marsilia I. She demanded he recant & leave her homeland. She announced officially imperial sanctions against him & his regime. She had barely escaped his clutches before. The speech lasted roughly 15 minutes. It raced to East Occitan eyes & ears. As did the pleas for the Occitan military to declare for her. Along with the humble request for backing from regional power & current occupier @Eiffelland. Ally to both Justosia & she still believed, herself.

    HRH finished as her husband the Crown Prince looked on reasonably impressed. She was a bit drained emotionally. The Emperor finally moved on her matter for her. She approached, bowed, & hugged him.

    "Thank you, Your Imperial Majesty." She would not call him papa. Not even in law. Not at least until she avenged her father by reclaiming their throne.

    H.I.M. looked at her.

    "I owe your father, God Yahweh rest his soul, my brother, a debt Your Highness. Penance for my cowardice for not truly intervening for him when he needed me most. Afraid my forces, not yet then fully rebuilt, would be smashed. That is no longer the case thank God though I pray this matter should not come to that. Eiffelland is governed by a good man. He'll be righteous here. I must labour to separate them and Serenierre in this endeavor. Serenierren help we would greatly be bouyed by as well. There is one other actor in this. This nation I hate truly above all others. As they hate me. Not Justosia but I. As I am the last seed of their house they let get away. I would only placate them so far.......my father was too scared and incompetent to play the game of thrones (had to). I play knowing we are in the right. Now I bid you goodnight Crown Princess. Viva Justosia. Viva Occitania."

    H.I.M. left. The Empress kissed her on her forehead & followed with their Imperial Guard procession in toe. Her husband remained by her side.
     
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  8. Serenierre

    Serenierre Well-Known Member

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    Directorate 77 - Headquarters
    Villesen


    The Director General was rather smug that afternoon. He was rather amused at the developments in Occitania, which had roused him out of the deep meditation on Bourgogne which had consumed him over the past week. He still had not decided whether to bomb the Serenien embassy in Chagny to force Martinique's hand in respect of the ugly mess there. But all that could wait.

    "You have to be joking!" he exclaimed after reading the statement from Julia Leverkuhn. "This has to be a joke," he looked at Henri Matignon, the Deputy Director for Occitanian Operations, "Tell me they are not this stupid."

    Henri smirked. "Proving themselves to be the dunce, as always. They seem to be backing off from the Duke of Flonice, even though he has been ruling East Occitania for well over eight months now and has an army of one hundred and twenty thousand sworn to him."

    "This is madness." The Director General looked at the deputy directors. "They are just begging to alienate Caeso."

    "Yes, sir." Deputy Director Henri smiled. "I thought it best to arrange a meeting with Caeso's men through some connections in the mafia in Nicosia. We may need to sow the seeds of doubt in Caeso's mind. I think it might be wise to orchestrate a fake assassination attempt, maybe kill a guard or two. Looking at what he is facing, he will immediately think that the Eiffellander's are trying to get rid of him to make way for Mireo."

    The Director General grimaced. "You want to incite a civil war!".

    "Oui," the deputy said matter of fact, "The tinder box can be lit and it will consume our enemies. As it is, Eiffelland has committed a force far beyond reasonable numbers to the East, even the Justosians think its an unsustainable deployment. If we can incite a civil war on the basis of Trier's diplomatic missteps, the Eiffellander army will be bogged down in the mess and I don't think Eiffelland will be able to recover in a long time"

    "Obviously, no one is to know of our involvement in this mess. We can't be compromised and Martinique and her goons need to believe this is not our doing either. Everything should be on strictly need to know basis."

    "Of course sir."

    "Do you have the men stationed in Toté?"

    The Deputy Director smiled. "D77 always has someone around where they are needed." He raised his glass up for a toast.

    However, the Director General hesitated and concern flooded his face. "We have to be sure he thinks its an Eiffellander hit."

    "All taken care of." He lowered his glass and continued to speak, "Deflection is my god, sir."

    "Well, if that is the case," the Director General raised his glass, "To Caeso, with love."

    Toté - Kingdom of Occitania
    These days he went by the name Max. He did not quite like it but it was what he was stuck with. Life in Toté was a rather miserable affair. Food shortages and blackouts. Desperation and degradation. That was the order of the day.

    He had arrived in the city via a merchant ship from Sikandara, the only country daft enough to send ships to the Kingdom after the war. Apparently, the Emperor had forced the shipping companies there to send them here. And so, that is how he had arrived. He had been to Occitania before, long ago, when Julius Faure was still king and the prospect of war seemed unimaginable.

    His phone beeped.
    He sighed. Trouble seemed to be a foot.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
  9. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    General Alessandro Corsale had a problem. Typically Eiffellandian, Minister Leverkühn had tried to have her cake and eat it too. She wanted to keep the relations with the Justosians good, that was clear. Therefore, she said "we are open for talks". Without realising that this could be interpreted as a signal that Eiffelland-Retalia wanted to get rid of Grand-Duke and King Caeso de Tote, even if everybody was convinced that he should remain in charge of the country. Now it was Corsale's task to make that clear.

    "Your Majesty, I agree with you that Minister Leverkühn's statement was a bad one. But that's what you get with Eiffellandians: They never understood how to choose sides, and they never will," General Corsale said. "Eiffellandians will always try to be friends with as many persons as possible. That makes their behaviour on the international stage so wobbling: They want to please everyone. To such an extent that they will never see when it is time to tell somebody to fuck off. I can tell you that the intention of my government is to convince Princess Mirèo to refrain from her claim to the Throne of Occitania in favour of you. Chancellor Rheinfeld will confirm that to you. Furthermore, I can tell you that I am a Retalian. I know when to choose sides. A quarter of the army I command here consists of Retalian professional soldiers. And I know a bit better than Eiffellandians how to play a dirty game. We are fabricating evidence that will prove your innocence in the death of King Julius Faure, and instead will point out a communist rebel group as the culprits. Also that will help your case. We will present that proof to Princess Mirèo."
     
  10. Justosia

    Justosia Well-Known Member

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    HRH Crown Princess Mirèo de Marsilia-Francisco I had just hopped off the Occitan frequency. She talked to her people everyday now. She would take to Twatter again soon as well. Today detailed her hellish escape from East Occitania. Told of how she watched the 'king's' men butcher the women & children of nobles who declared for her originally on his orders. She even accused de Tote of being a closet socialist himself.

    Her husband the CP walked in the atrium.

    "I've just read the relevant Eiffellander & Serenierren news for the day. I've chosen to brief my father myself. I'm in the trenches with you....fear not wife." He kissed her then left with a state brief folder in hand. A Justosian Crown Prince never took on a governmental role officiale unless it was the shadowing period. Perhaps he was truly coming to love her indeed. How was he about to advise his papa?
     
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  11. East Occitania

    East Occitania New Member

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    Office of the Mayor
    City of Mulmas

    The summer winds caused the tall grasses to glide across Duran’s hands as he extended them. The Occitan sun filled the air with warmth and stood in stark contrast to the royal blue sky devoid of even a single cloud. Duran closed his eyes as he continued to walk with only the crunching of the earth beneath his foot and the grasses bellowing in the wind to meet his ears. This is God’s Peace he thought to himself.

    “Paire!” a voice called out from behind as Duran turned to meet it. There, he saw his daughter – but ten years earlier in her youth, prancing among the fields. “Come play!” she called out once more. He smiled at her before a strange buzzing took his attention once again. Suddenly, his eyes opened.

    Now, the Occitan sun shined through not on a golden field, but upon an antiquated office of mahogany furniture with green leather upholstery. The furniture varied in style depending upon which decade the City seized it for the Mayor’s Office. The Mayor scanned the room only briefly before the consequences of falling asleep on his couch once again set in – a sharp pain stabbed in his neck and his back was stiff. With a great huff, he raised himself to sit up and rubbed his eyes. He looked to his regal desk in the corner where stacks of paper towered over – more, he swore, then were there the day before.

    He rose from his couch with a crack to the back and a subsequent pain that made his body jerk. The yelp he gave caused the door to swing open and in rushed Menion, his assistant.

    “Lord Mayor!” Menion called “Are you okay?”

    “Yes,” Duran raised an arm and gestured for calm “Just a rough sleep is all.”

    “I’ve been trying to call you all morning,” Menion gave a sympathetic look “I had thought you were unwell.”

    “I never said I wasn’t,” Duran chuckled, walking toward his desk and falling into his chair, sinking quickly into a slump “I suppose we should get into it then, seems there’s no time to waste.”

    “None at all, I’m afraid – you’re going to be late for your morning briefing,” Menion approached the desk with a binder – though struggled to find an empty spot to lay it.

    “That’s quite alright,” the Lord Mayor quipped “I cannot imagine the pot holes fixed from yesterday nor the people getting the jobs they so deserve. I hate to start my mornings like this.”

    Duran had served as Mayor of Mulmas for the better part of a year. Already a massive city of more than ten million, the city made an obvious refuge for the tens of thousands who escaped the communist west during the Great Divide. The City had changed since the end of the war. Once the pride and joy of the Kingdom, it had fallen into disappear as it proved unable to handle the influx of people who tried to seek a better life – or a sense of normalcy. Duran had only fifty-four years to his person, but it seemed he had more than sixty.

    “Well, this one is different, actually,” Menion said “His Majesty, King Caeso, has summoned for you and your briefing this morning is to prep you for the occasion.”

    Duran immediately became alert as he shook his sluggishness off.

    “The King?” Duran rose from his desk, only now taking notice to how unsightly he appeared “Yes, yes – fine bring in the staff. Please send for a new suit with urgency. When am I to depart for Flonice?”

    “Well, your Grace,” Menion paused “His Majesty has arrived in Mulmas around an hour ago.”

    “He’s here?! He’s been here an hour and you’re only now coming to me!?” Duran raised his voice.

    “I had been trying to call you—” Menion attempted to come to his own defense, but Duran would hear none of it.

    “Give me your tie,” Duran pointed at Menion’s purple tie, as he grabbed his own suit jacket from the floor “We’ll do the briefing on the way. I will not keep him waiting any longer.”

    “Yes, your Grace,” Menion answered, dutifully ripping his tie from his neck.”
     
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  12. Justosia

    Justosia Well-Known Member

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    A city rated more dangerous than Venezuela, MD
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    Los
    Milenio Imperio Palace
    Emperor's private apartment(s)
    Government Quarter, Avalon

    The CP arrived. After being announced he walked into HIM's study as they did not wish to disturb HIM the Empress in bed. He handed his father a brief folder.

    "I see. So yet again a northern government which I thought a stalwart friend is actually, apparently, again, a bunch of two faced fuckin cowards......."

    He got up & poured a glass of red.

    "I will wait and see if they regain their senses. We've already hailed them once to no avail recently.
    Business is too slow and sorry up there. Fear not my son. This effects you and her my family now. If they attempt to betray us here I will make them pay, literally."

    "Papa and what if fate declares for her & seeks to steal her due?"

    "There in lies the lesson my son. THEN YOU change fate. First by telling it to go fuck itself. Then smashing the chess board. Go now. We'll speak more in the morning. Oh and Carlos, don't get used to this. Your shadowing period is still far off. My reign is just beginning."

    Upon the CP leaving the Emperor made 2 calls. One to the Intelligence Sub Minister & the other to his Coffers Administrator.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
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  13. Justosia

    Justosia Well-Known Member

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    Milenio Imperio Palace
    Administrative Wing
    Government Quarter, Avalon


    HIM sat in one of his many executive offices, reclining slightly. What was his next step? The airwaves were being saturated with Mireo's case. Vexing was @Eiffelland standing in their way. Were they not allies? Would they really prioritize some administrative red tape over Mireo's stronger & truer claim to the throne?

    Carlos couldn't help but feel a little betrayed. The Gunnish knife in his back was still fresh. His immediate action was kick their embassy staff out. Maybe even tariffs. That was when the Empress entered the room.

    "Her Imperial Majesty Empress Annabella Sophia Francisco the First."

    She walked with her typical grace to her husband's side. Still in her regal gown for morning prayers. Her golden crucifix pendant shimmering.

    "Husband. I know your troubles well now. Our talk last night was very illuminating. I implore you, do not cast them off as allies yet. Not necessary. Did not not embrace Albrecht as a friend? Are we not friends officiale? Hail him again love. Show them loyalty. The Angels of their better nature should reciprocate."

    Carlos paused. He thought though he already knew he'd acquiesce to his wife's suggestion. Officially she had no power, until he said so. While some view this as sexist they'd also be surprised to know the influence she could indeed choose to wield behind those sacred gates. Love is a powerful equalizer, & unbeknownst to foreign critics & haters, has helped shape an empire & avoid war.

    "You increase my already heavy workload wife but very well. I will show him yet more crowned, Christian, brotherly love. I must leave you now. Much declarative administrative tasks today."
     
  14. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Rotterdam, Netherlands
    Capital:
    Trier
    Flonice, Occitania

    "Questa vacca stupida!! How could she say so, per Dio?! Vaffan culo!! Merda!!" General Corsale exclaimed when he was sitting in his car again after his meeting with King Caeso. He decided to call Minister-President Grauholzer of Retalia about Minister Leverkühn's statements.

    He knew in what kind of shape Eastern Occitania was. He also knew why Eiffelland-Retalia hadn't done what it should have done: Set up a big economic aid package to help the country back on its feet. Eiffelland-Retalia itself was going through an economic crisis. Meanwhile, the situation had stabilised there, but the government had steered the country along a deep ravine. As a result, Eiffelland-Retalia hadn't been in the position to help out Eastern Occitania. That changed only very recently.

    Luckily, there had been money for one thing: Weapons deliveries to resistance groups in Western Occitania. Maybe less subtle than the Sereniens, but also the Eiffelloretalians had their destabilising plans.

    Corsale knew that there had been money for something else as well. Immediately after the war, the Eiffelloretalian government started to build up the army. The end goal was an increase from 400,000 to 840,000 soldiers. Seven armies, of which two consisted of professional s But of course this could not be done in the same way as Justosia built up its forces. It had to happen little by little. Slowly but surely, the government had bought military equipment. Slowly but surely, the government had allocated more and peope who were doing society service to the to the armed forces.
    Meanwhile, some of the numbers had changed. There were so many people who volunteered for the armed forces, that a third army could be filled with professionals. And that hapened. Per the beginning of June, Eiffelland-Retalia had 600,000 soldiers in the land army—of which 300,000 were in education.

    Corsale hoped that King Caeso understood that he would have had a much harder time without the Eiffelloretalians, better said, that he needed the Eiffelloretalians as badly as the Eiffelloretalians needed him.


    Trier, Eiffelland-Retalia

    "How can you make such a statement, Frau Ministerin? King Caeso is the most important figure in Eastern Occitania, and our most important ally in that country! I understand that you want to find a middle road that would satisfy both Princess Mirèo and King Caeso, but when do you Eiffellandians finally see the moments that a middle is impossible? You made the world believe that we would be willing to withdraw our support to King Caeso in favour of Princess Mirèo. And for what? To satisfy that lunatic operetta-king on the Southern Hemisphere, against whom the Pelasgians are allergic as well! You not only jeopardized King Caeso's trust in us, but you also put our relations with Pelasgia at stake! In this way, we will really be standing alone in the region! How naive can you be?! Krreiz-Krruzifix!! Himmel Herrgott Sakrrament!!!" Minister-President of Retalia Walther Grauholzer exclaimed.

    He was at a meeting with Chancellor Roland Rheinfeld, Minister of Foreign Affairs Julia Leverkühn, Minister-President of Helgoland Godebald Modrow and Minister-President of Rügen Reinhard Schmidt. After General Corsale had called him, he had called Chancellor Rheinfeld and asked for a face-to-face meeting with the heads of the governments of the states as well as minister Leverkühn.

    "Frau Ministerin," Grauholzer continued, "you took up the job with good intentions. You did a very good job. Indeed, you had your clashes with the Sereniens, but given their arroance, that is understandable. And indeed, Mrs. Renard is Premier Martinique's lapdog. You did you job in a respectful way, but the mistake you just made makes it impossible to me to hold you. Members of Parliament from my own party are gearing up towards a motion of distrust against you. "
     
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  15. Serenierre

    Serenierre Well-Known Member

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    Belmont
    The go ahead for Operation Aphrodite had arrived some time ago. Misinformation, disinformation, and chaos was the way forward. Sowing the seeds of doubt and discord in the precarious political situation in East Occitania was the goal. Shake the foundations of the broken state, the Director General of D77 had said and that was exactly what was being done. As the Leverkuhn debacle shaped up, the online space of Occitan internet was flooded with information about the Eiffellander minister's statement. Attention diverted to the 150,000 Eiffellander personnel which were stationed in East Occitania. Were these troops readying for a coup against His Majesty King Caeso?

    On the other hand, the internet was flooded with the lurid details of Princess Mireo's allegations against the King, how he had incested her by force. How the vile brutalities had continued until the poor girl had managed to escape. Videos on meTube were full of such allegations. Obviously, these videos looked like Justosian plants. But the discord was being sown by none other than the brilliant hackers who worked for the Cyberwarfare division of the Directorate.

    On the ground, the assets in the port cities were made to spread rumours of impending Justosian ships' arrival to topple the former Duke of Flonice who now wore the royal crown. It was to be the case that resentment must be built in the minds of the East Occitan military which had sworn allegiance to the only true Occitanian caught in this mess. Nearly 120,000 personnel had sworn allegiance to Caeso and each and every one of them was to feel disenchanted by the Eiffellanders. Perhaps, frustrations would rise enough to see Eiffellander troops attacked by the very Occitanians they claimed to protect.

    No matter how sincere the Eiffellanders would be now, even if they fired Leverkuhn, doubt would remain in the minds of the East Occitan, as to the mettle of their allies. After all, was it not Eiffello-Retalian confusion and incompetence which had decimated the Occitan Militar and divided the country in half? Had the Eiffellander's been true allies, would they not have been able to halt the advance of the Serenien juggernaut. Such were the questions inundating the social and news media of Occitan due to Serenien efforts.

    In this chaos, Max had received his orders and had commenced his operation. He was to tail Target X and observe the routine of the embattled monarch. And more importantly, he was to follow the guards. Of them all, one of the king's guards would die at the pull of a well placed trigger. King Caeso had to be spooked. Distrust and doubt would be the end of it all. Gallia pour les Galliens!
     
  16. Justosia

    Justosia Well-Known Member

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    A city rated more dangerous than Venezuela, MD
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    Avalon
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    Los

    Hello there guest. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Milenio Imperio Palace
    Administrative Wing
    Government Quarter, Avalon

    It was a chilly but beautiful dusk. The Emperor had tasked the Chancellor to deal with any more matters of state or security that reared their heads tonight.

    He requested paiges set up a table for cards in his favourite study. He played solitaire until his family save for the sleeping Empress arrived. The Crown Prince & Princess approached. The Emperor had polished off half a bottle of red.

    "Cards?"

    "Very well papa." The CP sat down.

    Mirèo paused. The last time she had played cards was with her late father. She was tired of being miserable. She sat. Into the game she asked her Father-in-law a question.

    "Emperor, do you know who this new player is?" She didn't mean the cards.

    The game hit a standstill.

    "..........No. I have my suspicions. Leave it at that please daughter."

    "Is there nothing more we, I can do?" His son asked.

    "Why yes son. Take your squadron, fly it to Occitania">@East Occitania, and launch a missile so far up Caseo's ass that it flies him to the moon." Emperor responded laughing.

    "Papa is enjoying his wine.....splendid."

    "Trust me, not you son. It's not your burden yet. I have a plan. Your my children. Guide you to glory I shall. Wine mi Lady?"

    She kindly declined. She also kindly won with her hand.

    "An omen!" The Emperor exclaimed as they shared a laugh.

    They played on as Finance, Defence, & Intelligence Liason Officers departed the palace with Justosia's next moves already signed & sealed.
     
  17. Justosia

    Justosia Well-Known Member

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    Milenio Imperio Palace
    Administrative Wing
    Government Quarter, Avalon

    In front of Emperor Carlos Francisco II were 2 Imperial Edicts that yearned for Crown Ascent. He hesitated.

    "Well this is rare. Carlos why do you delay?" The Chancellor asked. All RE ascents were supposed to require a witness. This however was more of a timely tradition than strictly enforced.

    "They've been trained enough. It is time. May God Yahweh guide their hands and tongues. Those foreign serpents are everywhere. Border security only dams but so much. We must jump ahead of them."

    The Edicts were signed. Chancellor Blount collected them.

    "Viva Milenio Imperio. Viva Justosia."
    ___________________________________________


    Mirèo de Marsilia-Francisco I walked down a hallway in her husband's palace residential wing. She had already said her evening prayers. Her Imperial Guards in toe. She has warmed to them. She turned around.

    "You, guard, am I a Queen to you? Like the Empress?"

    "The government has recognized you as a Queen. Crown Sovereign of the Kingdom of Occitania">@East Occitania. That is enough. You will be treated & defended as such. This is our vow, oath, duty, life. Viva Justosia."

    Mirèo thought another thought.

    "Do you care that I'm a foreigner?"

    The guards eyes darted ever so slightly right before he answered.

    "Your Royal Majesty is a Francisco now. Everything else is overridden. Your name is a mandate from God now. I will say no more."

    Their procession continued.
     
  18. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Rotterdam, Netherlands
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    Trier
    Trier, Weissenfels, Köln, Altburg, Losena, Lugano and many more cities in Eiffelland-Retalia

    The Eiffelloretalian internet trolls weren't sitting on their hands, either. They spread very well fabricated evidence that Princess Mirèo was lying about the real cause of her father's death, that King Julius Faure was killed by Communist rebels, and that King Caeso was kilometers away from the place where King Julius Faure was killed at the moment that he was killed. MeTube was flooded with videos showing that proof, and defaming Princess Mirèo as a marionette of the Emperor of Justosia, who was constantly portrayed as a pompous operetta king without any intellectual capacities. The message was: Under Princess Mirèo, Occitania will become Justosian. "Eastern Occitania the playground of the Emperor of Justosia? No!!! Shun Princess Mirèo! King Caeso will guide us to a prosperous Eastern Occitania."
    The government of Eiffelland-Retalia officially supported the theory that King Caeso was innocent, citing DNA evidence that he was far away when King Julius Faure died.
    Western Occitania was presented as a puppet state of "the people who poisoned your fellow Occitanians" or "the people who burnt your fellow Occitanians alive". Pictures showing Espidiz before and directly after the Serenien attack flooded MeTube, Twatter and each and every other kind of social media. One of the messages was: "King Caeso is your only guarantee against the Sereniens." Another message was: "Do we want to become the puppet of the people who poisoned you and burnt your houses? No!!! King Caeso will protect us against the Sereniens."
    Other internet messages pointed at Sophie Menard's recent twats in which she supported Princess Mirèo, and showed that as proof that Princess Mirèo was supported by Serenierre: "We will get a red queen leaning on the persons who gassed Occitanians and burnt their houses."

    Young Eiffelloretalian entrepreneurs were also involved in a big social media campaign with the message: "We know that we Eiffelloretalians failed you two times, but give us a third chance and we won't fail you again."

    There was also a campaign especially pointed at the soldiers in the Eastoccitanian armed forces. Its main message was: "Your first duty is with Eastern Occitania. Princess Mirèo will soon be a Justosian princess. She is not Occitanian any more. King Caeso is Eastern Occitania."

    Of course the Eiffelloretalian armed forces actively put a charm campaign on the internet, showing the Eiffelloretalian soldiers as helpful protectors against the Serenien threat.

    Massive internet campaigns pointed at both East-Occitania and West-Occitania framed Premier Martinique as gas-queen and pyromaniac, emphasising the cruel details of the actions by the Serenien armed forces during the war ("the main reason why the war went so fast was that the Sereniens massively used nerve gas on the battle field and burnt down our cities with napalm") and pointing at something recently discovered by the Abteilung Okzitanien of the Unionssicherheitsdienst (USD; the Eiffelloretalian secret service): Many farmlands were not used for growing grain and crops any more, but for growing narcotic drugs.
    The message about the changed agricultural was: "What are the farmers in West-Occitania growing? No grain or crops any more. Drugs! The Westoccitanian farmers are forced to let us starve, so that the Serenien overlords of West-Occitania can make the world addicted to substances that will ultimately kill us! The Sereniens did not only poison our soldiers on the battlefield, they want to poison the whole world with their drugs!"


    East-Occitania

    The USD had created a department specially dedicated to Occitania. The head-director was Lorenzo de Medici. He resided in Flonice, and cooperated closely with General Corsale and King Caeso. This was the USD-department that smuggled weapons for the rebel groups in West-Occitania, and was involved in counterespionage in East-Occitania.
    King Caeso's body guards were not only screened by the Occitanians, but also by the USD. Furhtermore, the USD followed King Caeso as well. Maybe he knew, maybe not, but the King always had a second set of body guards, consisting of USD-agents. It were these USD-agents who discovered that the King's guards were followed. Probably by the Serenien secret service. De Medici immediately informed King Caeso: "Your guards are being shadowed, probably by the Serenien secret service. It could even be that your guards are being contacted by the Sereniens. I don't doubt their loyalty to you, but there can always be a guard who is blackmailable. I have the following advices to you: 1. Replace all your guards immediately. 2. Do not allow your guards to have contact with the outside world any more, but let them live comfortably in a barracks complex at the palace. 3. Increase the number of guards you have, so that you can have different guards every day. 4. Make sure that nobody apart from the guards and you knows who has duty when."
     
  19. Serenierre

    Serenierre Well-Known Member

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    Directorate 77
    Cite de Lions - Protectorate of Occitania

    The efforts of the Eiffellander trolls reeked of desperation and playing catch up. The Serenien agencies had started their efforts to destabilize the east several weeks ago. In return, it seemed that the Eiffellanders had outsourced their tasks to mere trolls and not only that they were relying on human labour alone. The presence of Eiffellander trolls was countered excessively by Unit 339 (the Serenien intelligence agency's cyberwarfare division) with automated bots and agents, both of which started flooding each site established by the Eiffellander propagandists and trolls. The standard of videos from the other side seemed to show a very parody style critique of the Princess Mireo. By comparison, Unit 339 had manufactured informative videos with slick graphics and editing, designed to show the high production quality of the sources. The viral marketability of the videos from Unit 339 was aided by a number of online marketing companies in Auraria, Bezonvaux, and Friuli, which ensured that the reach of the videos on meTube from the Serenien cyberwarfare team was more aggressive and overarching than anything the Eiffellanders could do.

    Of late, Unit 339 had been working on a video which would be taking apart the social media campaign doing the rounds. The grinning faces of Eiffellander social media influencers and their "We know that we Eiffelloretalians failed you two times, but give us a third chance and we won't fail you again." This deranged approach exemplified the sheer hilarity of continuing to bank on the Eiffellander government. Memes and gifs from various shows were mocking this approach. How could the Occitan people feel anything but hatred for the Eiffello-Retalian? They had brought their ancient country down to its knees. Divided between a Catholic communist rump state in the west and the inept rapist King of the east, all because of the Eiffellander capitulation at Camp Hill. The Eiffellander wrists were good only for a limp wank and not to fight a war, said one especially angry vlogger (sponsored, as they say, by Unit 339). How could the Occitan people forget the treachery of Trier? Thus rang the slogans from Unit 339.

    Directorate 77's local field office in Lions had decided to aggressively chase down and flood the videos and posts with pro-Mireo propaganda and to downvote the anti-Mireo pages to oblivion. In turn, the Armada ne Mireo, a purely artificial group established by D77 was spreading propaganda online. They had already announced their full support for the Princess and now were openly recruiting young men and women to join the cause and to resist the Eiffellander occupation of Occitania. Obviously, the King was a mere puppet at the hands of the Eiffellander regime, which had clasped King Caeso firmly by the testicles and if the people of the great Occitan Orientalis did not stand up and resist, the evil Eiffellanders would castrate the nation. Look, asked the videos, at what they did to their own allies in Retalia? Did they not destroy their own friend. What could Occitania expect at the hands of such a godless nation.

    Yes, religion, too had become a frontline issue. Cathar posts would be highlighted and the messages of the old Cathar crusader knights be made share-worthy. Arguably, this would harm the Protectorate, as well, but it served to make it appear that the efforts of D77 were in fact not its own. Deflection and sophistication. That was the way D77 did business. Quite unlike these Eiffellander flailing arms.

    East Occitania
    Max had been tailing the King's usual routine. The usual fare of military motorcades and Eiffellander cars were paying their visits at the former Grand Ducal palace. He had sensed a heavier security presence lately. Most of them carried the dazed look he knew was common to the Eiffellander agents he had come across. Obviously, they seemed to be nervous. But would the East Occitan king rely on Eiffellander warnings? An unreliable alliance at best, would it not make better sense to have a security protocol independent of any foreign meddling?

    There was a rumour that Max's presence had been detected. At least according to the other agents operating on the mission. So he had moved to an even more discrete manner of surveillance. When the time would be right, he would pounce. Besides, if it was true the Eiffellanders were jamming their dicks in the security protocol of the East Occitan king, there would be a brief moment of operational teething troubles, so to say, before the new team harmony was established. This would be the time to take advantage of things.
     
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  20. East Occitania

    East Occitania New Member

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    Capital:
    Flonice
    Nick:
    Jurzy
    City of Mulmas

    Duran stood at attention as two escut rei flanked the large door before him. It was only a brief silence before the door opened and outstepped a man of small stature. The man was balding at the top of his head, standing little more than 162 cm, yet adorned a perfectly tailored tux complete with a tailcoat that did little to flatter his pleasantly plump waste. His face was powdered and his skin carried not a single blemish. Affixed to his lapel was the blue, red clawed lion of Flonice and below it the gold cross of the Cathar. His perfumes could be smelt even at this distance.

    “You must be Sénher Maynart,” Duran bowed, yet still towered over the man.

    “Observant,” Maynart answered, bowing in kind “A pleasure to greet the Lord Mayor of Mulmas.”

    Maynart extended his hand, which Duran shook. His hands were soft and as powdered as his face. These were the hands of a man who had spent not a day of his life laboring.

    “His Majesty, King Caeso of Occitania, is at present prepared to receive you, Lord Mayor,” Maynart announced “I do hope the short notice caused not an bit of inconvenience.”

    “Of course not,” Duran replied “the King’s summoning was a blessing.”

    Maynart smiled as he turned his back and walked into the room. Two additional escut rei opened the doors and in walked Duran. The reception room of the Temple was as ornate as any construction of the Cathars and it was particularly abuzz with activity. At the end of the long hall, a throne was placed which King Caeso himself sat upon. Behind him was the new flag of the Kingdom to his right and the blue lion of Flonice to his left. In front of the flag stood two escut rei so firm that it was hard to tell if they were living creatures.

    “Lord Mayor Duran D’Abbadie,” the King called as he rose from his throne. Duran immediately took to his knee as the King approached. He wore a black suit, perfectly tailored to his tall, slender body. There was no tie, but his top button remained closed. Across his chest was a royal blue, silk sash that a gold Cathar cross affixed over his left shoulder. “It does my heart good to see you, though I do wish you hadn’t kept me waiting for so long – stand on your feet.”

    “My apologies, your Grace – had you called perhaps I’d set an alarm,” Duran chuckled as he rose to his feet. The two embraced, recalling the years of friendship they shared.

    “My advisors tell me you’re doing a wonderful job in Mulmas,” the King turned his back to Duran and walked back toward the throne “the pride of the Renauiment.”

    “I do my best to serve, your Grace,” Duran followed.

    “Well my advisors are cunts, I’m afraid,” Caeso turned so quickly he nearly spun on his back heel along “All of them. As cunts, they fear to tell me the truth for they fear the Lion of Flonice’s rage. They tell me things are fine even when they aren’t. It’s impossible to govern in such conditions.”

    Duran hid his surprise at the King’s disregard for language that suits the Crown – especially in front of so many.

    “Come,” he called “Let us bask in the sun’s gift to the Occitan.”

    The two walked behind the throne and onto a balcony that sat above the gardens of the Cathedral. The warm, near summer sun came down upon them. Before them were two chairs with a table in the middle, two glasses of Elamran sweet wine already poured.

    “So, I came here to see your progress myself,” the King grabbed the glass, sitting down. Duran sat next to him.

    “I hope you’ve found our progress to your standard,” Duran sipped his wine.

    “I find it to be a waste of your talents,” the King sniped “It’s clear to me your gift for administration has no bound and your contributions to the Renauiment far outweigh that of any other of my faithful. In truth, Duran, I came here to discuss the matters of state.”

    “Thank you for the compliment,” or at least that’s what Duran thought it was.

    “You sit here dealing with issues of plumbing, lights turning off an on at command, potholes littering the streets, traffic jams during the daily rushes,” Caeso was rambling.

    “That’s governing, your Grace,” Duran remarked.

    “It’s boring and beneath you,” the King shot back, sternly “Every moment you sit here dealing with that, my Realm suffers. My advisors moan, complain, and quip about such trivial matters meanwhile the Serenien horde oppresses my people in the West, the Eiffellanders extend their empire in the East, my beloved daughter remains captive prisoner to the sociopaths of the south – forced to exude horrible lies that betray her country and her people – now, by the way, are referred to as two and not one United Kingdom of the Occitan.”

    “These times are hard on all of us,” Duran turned his gaze to the gardens – the only peaceful place he felt existed in Mulmas.

    “I’ll have no more of it,” Caeso rose from his chair “Your time as Lord Mayor of Mulmas has come to an end. Name your successor and I’ll see it done.”

    “Your Grace?” Duran rose from his chair, surprised – the King lifted his hand.

    “I’ll hear none of it. Name your successor and it’ll be done in seven days. On the eighth, you will join me at the summit of the Royal Council of Ministers as my new Prime Minister,” the King ordered.

    “Your Grace,” Duran sat down in shock “I don’t know what to say – I…I have so much left to accomplish in Mulmas. This is all so sudden, I am not sure I can accommodate given the frame of time.”

    “Worry not,” Caeso rested his hand on Duran’s shoulder “What confidence you lack, I will happily gift. Duty rarely calls upon us at a time of our choosing, Lord Prime Minister. Now, I am to leave. I’ve accomplished all I need here. I will see you in eight days.”

    And just like that, the King walked back into the Cathedral and Duran sat – feeling the burden of the Kingdom weighing on his shoulders.
     
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