The MacLeod Approach

Discussion in 'The Shadows' started by Anonymous, Apr 6, 2019.

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  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous New Member

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    Gunnish Pub near Marian University

    Sherry observed the young MacLeod boy enter the pub alone. She followed the young man quietly in, heading straight for the lady’s room to freshen up for a pristine approach.

    ‘Is he here to meet another girl?’, Sherry questioned, ‘do MacLeod’s have friends, or does the chip on their shoulder turn them into loners in the ivy realm?.

    Pushing her breasts up tighter and closer together, and streaking out a fresh layer of gloss over her lips, Sherry nodded at herself in the less than clear bathroom mirrors.

    Although other men of the Gunnish Elite school had already paid her enough attention, her handler insisted she approach and assess a MacLeod. Sherry kept her purse loosely open with papers clearly indicating she was a Cussian student visiting from Westernesse near the top, so that when she sat down next to the boy her documents and miscellaneous beauty enhancers splayed out before him.

    “Oh why, why excuse me darling!” Sherry exclaimed, scrambling oh so clumsily to gather her items. Among the documents too was a ‘Circle Call Card’, round shaped with a QR code that led to a private page populated with content of a private nature. Sherry rifled everything back in her purse, leaving only the Circle Card out for both she and the MacLeod boy to acknowledge - perhaps he did not even know what the black circular card with the scan code entailed.

    “I’m sorry, every so sorry, but are you a MacLeod?” Sherry asked hoping to exude a blush, “Everyone in Westernesse knows what a shame it’s been your Clan has been held back . . “ She offered sympathetically.

    OOC Gunnland">@Gunnland ; feel free to veto if you find this premise ridiculous.
     
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  2. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Fardowners Pub
    Alexander Rex Avenue
    Windhaven

    Fardowners was so-named for the marpesienne workers and railroad engineers who tunneled under the Arundel Mountains in the 1840s to connect Windhaven to the rest of the country. Ever since it has been the Windhaven pub that caters to an international clientele.

    William MacLeod did not frequent the Sword-and-Ship. Though he was now the scion of one of the most powerful families in Gunnland, the traditional rulers of wealthy Ayr, for most of his life his name had been proscribed. He told Sherry that, even in Arundel with its special laws, William spent his school years signing his surname "X." Then his older sister Mary wisely supported Julian Gunn's bid to be queen, and the family's name was restored. William privately suspected that Molly had compromised too much, marrying that boor Jake Blackthorn, for instance, had turned out as poorly as William knew it would. It occurred to him that he might be telling Sherry too much, but he was drunk. In that he was a real Gunnishman.

    It was William's last of eight years at the Marian. He was soft-spoken, cautiously avoiding conservative Windhaven society. Since he wasn't sure Sherry recognized him, he told her that he had just taken a job as a derivatives trader at J.P. MacMorgan. Windhaven was a fairytale medieval college town, an oasis of learning and beauty in a desperate and ugly country. But William knew that it was all financed by Ayr, the half-tolerated free commercial society to the north. His family's legacy, and he impressed the point upon Sherry forcefully. He looked forward to returning to the neon lights, the skyscrapers, and the clubs.

    The Cussian girl was a real beauty. Meeting her was a stroke of luck. William was not looking forward to spending a week in Kollam and Chinde as his noble sister's chaperone. He told Sherry so. Of course he could have taken on a young woman as a thrae, but William found these customs repulsive, though he doubted a custom as civilized as no-strings attached "dating" would ever come to the highlands. He avoided this subject with Sherry. He didn't want her to get the wrong idea. William didn't treat women that way.

    "Sherry, have you ever been to Himyar? I know we've just met, but I could use a friend to travel with for two weeks..."
     
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  3. Anonymous

    Anonymous New Member

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    While at first Sherry believed she had sharply pierced her hooks in William MacLeod, his bold invitation to leave the predictable confines of the idyllic Gunnish Universith town for the Himyari Spice Islands causes her heart to sink. Turning an ivory shade of white, only her strawberry blonde hair and light freckles disagreed with a visage of deathly terror.

    “Him . . Himyar?” She stutterered as she fought to regain the seductive composure she thought she had nailed up until this point. “Why no, William, my father has been on safari in the Natal, but I have never been to the dark continent myself . .” Sherry pondered aloud, as on both accounts she was not telling a lie.

    “You won’t sell me to the Azraqi, will you?” She jested with a giggle buzzed by the local cider. “But yes, I would go with a MacLeod anywhere now that I think of it, especially after meeting you William” Sherry declared with a regained confidence. She really did enjoy the company of the man beyond that it was imperative to do so. He possessed the nobility and sense of duty most Cussian men were aping, and all men from her own land would never care to attempt.

    Sherry then looked about for a few moments for young women who were never there to begin with. “It seems my girlfriends have surrendered me to you, good sir, time just flew by and I am not quite sure about finding my way back safely alone . .” Sherry said shyly, “Would you please escort me to the Ladies Dormitories? I should get back and check in with my parents in Westernesse, they do worry about me even if it’s Gunnland.”

    The young lady was 21 and fit for any mission The Service could ask, mentally or even physically, but she understood that this approach did not require a carnal commitment just yet and was frankly not ready to perform it for the The Service alone without reservation. Like any service member, perhaps especially so in her case as a first operation rookie, she was at the end of this night still a vulnerable and alone person so far away from home that she still barely believed any of it was real.

    “Regardless my beau, I feel you’ve earned my phone number.” Sherry reaches into her purse and pushed the black circular card deep and to the bottom, genuinely excited to have that dark corner of the Engell-Web purged as soon as she was back. Instead she retrieved a pen baring the logo and address of a certain hunting lodge in Beautancus; she had never been there herself, but again her father genuinely had.

    “You can call me any time, William” Sherry said as she pushed a napkin with her number written in fancy Cussian swoops, these were harder to learn than the accent even as her actual schooling had drilled harsh rigid movements into a standard written form.
     
  4. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Alexander Square Station
    Windhaven

    Will's heart skipped to see Sherry walk into Alexander Square, the wind lifting her hair ever so slightly. She had really come. Informal, liberated, ready for anything -- this is how Gunnishmen thought of Cussians. I must have been drunk to ask her to come with us! But Will knew that wasn't exactly true. He was sick and tired of the confines of conservative Gunnish society, its infinite taboos, its hypocritical piousness, and its clannishness. Will was tired of people who hated MacLeods, and everyone hated MacLeods except for MacLeishes, and MacLeishes were hated most of all. "Piratical crypto-Jews!" Good grief she wears lip gloss. He remembered this now. He thought of the eyes that Molly -- his sister Countess Mary, that is -- was going to make at him. Perhaps he was desperate. He had heard that the Engellkin familiar with Gunnland were admirers of his family, and its tragic attempts to moderate and liberalize the politics of the Kingdom, which always failed and aroused the ire of the MacLeods' compatriots.

    There was no airport in Windhaven. It wouldn't be right. One must take the Windhaven Highland Railway to the horribly nicknamed "Ayr-port", or the Gunnland Down-Wash Railway to the Grand Northern Terminal in Dalmyre-Seaguard and then transfer to light rail.

    Will wondered what the black circle card was. It wasn't uncommon for rich young men in Ayr to fly to Engellex for a weekend trip to enjoy the sexual positions, drugs, and electronic music that was unknown in Gunnland. But even when the MacLeods were 'under the ban' it would have been unthinkable for a chief's son to do this. One had to keep up appearances. Not even old Duncan MacLeish may perpetual light shine upon him would have been spotted at a Hammersmith rave.

    Will gave Sherry a light kiss and offered her his arm. He had the urge to show off for her, and to show her off. She would stay the night in the comital palace that overlooked the Straits of Mar, from which the MacLeods, the Earls of Arundel, had ruled the fair trading city of Ayr and the Arundel Valley for centuries. Then they would fly to Azraq. They sat in a private compartment on the train. Will was wondering why Sherry had decided to study at the Marian. It was a good university but very Catholic, obviously. Students from the Engellosphere tended not to be, or they tended to pretend.

    "Why did you decide to study at the Marian, Sherry?"

    Will lay back in the green-cushioned seat and pushed his red hair back. He wore, of course, the yellow-and-black tartan kilt of the MacLeods, offset by a smart black jacket. Even young Gunnishmen dressed like old men.

    A Gunnishman feels at ease among Westernesse Engellkin. For what are Gunnishmen but Engellkin outside of the Engellosphere? Sure, they retain more of the bad habits of Thaumantica. Gunnland is the opposite of Engellex in all respects, the behemoth to the other's leviathans: as rural as the other is urban, as religious as the other is sacrilegious, as puritanical as the other is libertine. The history is murky, but one is not surprised that the Gunnish have tried to sink back into the Continent, into history, and into Old Tibur while their Engell cousins stretch out their imperial and commercial reach into the Far West. But sometimes you suspect that two cultures cannot be so completely opposite if they did not contain some deep affinities. Some (not Engells usually) even say two halves of a national soul.

    Many of these affinities appear in Westernesse, its songs and musical styles. Sylvanians and Cussians who end up in the south of Gunnland, in the border regions where the marpesiennes who insist that they are not Burgundians begin to appear, are surprised to find Reiver families that drive (and rustle) cattle on horseback much like the cowboys of Arthalan and the Vaquero Free State...
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
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  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous New Member

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    Sherryl-Lynn waited for an appropriate moment to check her phone and did so with haste. There was a message there waiting from ‘Mother’ inquiring if she was home safe already. “Excuse me for just a moment Will,” Sherry pleaded, “Don’t think of me of one of those Engell girls overly invested only in my phone!”.

    Typing quickly to her handler she replied with a question of her own, “Have you seen the Dr. yet, Mum? I’m well, with upstanding company at present,” Sherry pressed send, looking up to smile and wink at William MacLeod, “Just be sure see the Dr... <3”. Pressing the cellular device back within her purse, Sherry sighed with relief - the message was clear, The Service would need to tip off Doctor Cypreau, who was the legitimate Cussian intelligence shadow maker her handler dared to circumvent.

    What she had told William about escorting home had evolved into accompanying him to a stately manor, unthinkable for the first approach. An anxiety over whether she was entrapped rose again within her, and she cleared her throat and grabbed at it. Flustered she searched for an excuse for the outburst and found one: “Excuse me my beau, it’s just my Mother is unwell. She will need to see her doctor, but with the bad weather and flooding in Beautancus I fear she may have to wait longer than she deserves.”

    Sherry pursed her lips for a moment and stared out at the Gunnish countryside in the darkness, mostly watching the reflections of her concerned face and that of William who looked towards her longingly. She had to keep him intrigued, or better yet invested in her well being - not her Mother, Father, or anyone else at all. She was here for him and him alone, and if she believed it then he would have to as well. Nodding politely she fielded the question as to why a clearly atheist Engell girl might seek an education at a Catholic University in Gunnland.

    “Perhaps I must preface that I am speaking out of school, figuratively and physically of course, I am a young lady with some unorthodox ideas for where I call home” Sherryl-Lynn began with a prolonged stroke of her naked hand again across the Gunnishman’s kilt, “A Westernesse University, or I’ll be so bold as to say an Engellkin man always knows what he wants and where he’s going, yet he lacks an understanding of where he comes from and what his roots are.”

    Sherry winced, fearing again she might lose his arousal but felt compelled to continue: “The North, South, and West Republican Engells have lost all sense of this rootedness in their race for profit and dominion, while I fear Cussians have found an identity outside the old continent in brutality and darkness.”

    “I felt a calling to Gunnland, my parents permitted me a Nativist path to seek the spirit within my blood and bones, and I truly believe the voice I heard brought me here, call it fictional if you will, but I feel like I was destined all of my life to be right here . .” Sherry continued with a whisper, resting her palm firmly over his tartan obscured member.

    “William MacLeod, you know where you come from and what your roots are. Now just tell me, where are WE going?” Sherry asked before immediately closing in for a firmly planted kiss.
     
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  6. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Ayr

    "We're going to the Spice Islands!" Will grasped Sherry's hands and smiled excitedly. When things move so quickly you can have your doubts. But it just feels right. Sure, he was a little weirded out by whatever blood-and-soil pagan reversion she called Nativism. Well, at least these Cussians are "spiritual." Will personally had his doubts about extra ecclesia nulla salus. Weren't there a lot of people who had never heard the Gospels in Touyou? And in Westernesse for that matter? In Windhaven one learned to keep quiet about these things.

    "This is my sister, Mary, almost-ruler of three proud lands." (The MacLeod chieftess rolled her eyes at the playful jibe.)
    "Welcome to Arundel, Miss...? I'm so glad you can join our voyage to Himyar."​

    They were in a grand baroque palace on the sea. The pale, thin, redheaded countess sat on a divan beside a dark-haired man who introduced himself as Alejandro Pelagio. So my sister is back with her old paramour, and I am only the official chaperone, William thought.

    Later Will escorted Sherry to her room, the first time they had a chance to speak privately since the train from Windhaven. Something was bothering him. A joke she had made back when they first met in Fardowners Pub. He was self-conscious about the way young people, especially young women, were treated in Windhaven. Young men depended upon adoption, like in the old Tiburan Empire, for social advancement. Young women, on the contrary, were bought in a not-quite-parallel system of household servitude. The subjection of these "thrae" was more visible, as they trailed their patron-masters through the city in white pashminas, ornaments of male power and privilege, or as they knelt beside them in MacDonald's and the other top-shelf restaurants. Not unlike chattel in pre-Islamofuturist Azraq. It was taboo to even speak about this institution, the "thrae," until the 2017 political reforms around the 'Woman Question.'

    "I know you were joking about selling you to the Azraqis, darling. But I want you to know that it's different in Ayr. We're ashamed of the way women are treated in Windhaven... it's not like that here in Arundel, or down in Lower Marpesia, and it's not even like that even west across the mountains and downwash in Dalmyre and Seaguard... I don't want you to think I'm like that. In fact, it's why I am falling in love with you, because you act so much... freer... than Gunnishwomen do around me."
     
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  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous New Member

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    “Miss Rydell, dearest Countess” Sherry offered, “I am told we have Marpesian ancestry, though I’m sure an ancestor of mine was quickly forgotten after a visit to Gunnland some centuries ago . .”

    “I am honored to meet your acquaintance, Will has told me how inspiring you are, and I must admit I am awe-struck to be in the presence of this pedigree of Clan MacLeod.”

    Sherry felt embarrassed at how she was dressed, and knew she must appear the part of a tramp to higher echelons. She could clean up though, of this she was certain. The dark haired gentleman concerned her specifically, ‘Do these MacLeod’s keep human objects around in the evening for play?’ Sherry wondered.

    Williams subsequent soothsaying in private company did not help her either. She felt like she may be in a cycle of lies that did indeed end with her in an Azraqi harem, Cussian plantation, or pleasure service for the Constituent Commodity system. He was pushing the tempo faster and further than anyone had expected.

    ‘Look the part, play the part’ Sherry reminded herself. Tomorrow she would walk, no sprint for a better wardrobe. The tight and revealing fabrics had opened the door to this world and manor somehow, but if she intended to stay in this orbit she had to at least attempt to look like she belonged in polite company.

    ‘Arundel, Arendaal?’ Sherry wondered, ‘fanciful or even fairy tale like people; am I the villain?’. Uncertain, she bit her lip and soaked in the history of the building, it possessed the classical qualities many of the lodges and hearths failed to capture in her home country. This was the real thing and she was in genuine awe, “William, Arundel is truly like out of a fairy tale, you can’t imagine how the Westeng-No-Westernesse-Yes, how different plantation manors are.” Sherry corrected herself, hoping the MacLeod gent was still drunk enough to ignore slip ups.

    “I know you want to show me the Spice Islands with your ambitious sister, but I do truly desire to see more corners and crevices of your country I would never see as a visitor. Show me what you love about Gunnland, why, show me how you love”
     
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  8. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    If Will had paid closer attention in Engelsh, he might have known the meaning of "thou dost protest too much." But accountancy majors didn't pay attention in Engelsh. Nonetheless Sherry's words impressed him. Arendaal. It sounded like an ancient name of his land, Norn maybe, shrouded back in the mists of time. The name seemed to reach back into a reality that he could feel, before and beneath this present world. Perhaps there is something to Nativism. As if trapped in a spell, he did not fathom her discomfort. Still he felt embarrassed for how quickly things were going, and the whisky may have been playing tricks on him, but Sherry might have just told him that she was having second thoughts about a trip to Himyar.

    "I understand if you must return for school, but Mary needs me to accompany her to Azraq and then to Port Stanley. It will only be four days. But if the papers say she is traveling alone without her husband, or worse, with her long time Aurarian..."

    Will paused to wonder if Alejandro was from Borovanger or Auraria but decided it didn't matter

    "...um, boyfriend, they'll be trouble. I suppose Molly prefers the company of liberated and civilized people... just like me."

    He smiled at her but was too timid to put his arms around her. Quick and easy was the Cussian way, slow and steady the Gunnish.

    "My brother-in-law, former Leader Blackthorn, is a bit of a dipshit, you may have heard. But if she is traveling with me everything is perceived differently here, for some reason..."
     
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  9. W. Engell Republic

    W. Engell Republic Administrator

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    “How could I resist a global trek such as this,” Sherry asked aloud, “and to enjoy it with you, William, of course I am coming!” She declared before throwing her arms around him and kissing him on the cheek.

    “Thank you for seeing me in safe tonight,” Sherry said while releasing her grip slowly and tenderly, “if there is nothing else then I suggest we get some rest, we have quite an adventure ahead of us . . Well for me at least, I am not as well travelled, and I feel I’ll need to up my wardrobe to compete with your darling sister as we travel!”

    Sherry felt both terrified and as at home as she had ever felt before when she closed the door to her room. For a few moments she simply replenished with oxygen run deep breaths as images of the night flashed through her mind. As she began to regain a grip on her surroundings she noticed the judging eyes of a long passed MacLeod staring down at her from a painting.

    “Don’t look at me that way, darling” she told the motionless painting out loud, allowing for the first time this evening for her upper crust Vesper accent to sprout out. It was not that being from the upper crust of the Vesper Megapolis meant anything here, or anywhere it seemed, because clearly the Cussian cache and reputation she had earned through her Mother’s marriage to a Cussian Commodity Merchant had taken her farther and deeper than she ever imagined.

    As she grinned at the motionless face she suddenly felt her phone vibrate, a text from Mother reading: “The Doctor was kind, it’s as if he knows what our ailments are before we walk in the door. Are things still well with you, dear?”. Sherryl-Lynn laughed a bit, of course the Cussian Doctor was on to them, a West Engell couldn’t re-wire a phone line without finding a listening bug or three.

    “All is well, mum. I am worried though about a certain swarthy guest we may be traveling with . .” Sherry replied in text before continuing: “He seems ill, ever so sick. Maybe your doctor could prescribe him something?” she suggested as her smile shrunk into a frown. Dr. Cypreau and the actual Cussian intelligence network were not to be trifled with, this much she already knew as a rookie agent for the Thaumantic Civil Service. No one was supposed to know she or they existed yet, but damn him he surely did now.
     
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  10. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Big sunglasses. Big umbrellas. Big globs of SPF-50. That's how freckly and fair MacLeods splayed out on the beach. Will was looking forward to forty-eight hours in paradise with Sherry-Lynn, who was talking her time at the beachside bungalow while he walked with his sister, the countess, down to the water. Over breakfast, Will had a prick of concern for her when he opened the paper and found the AIKNU's stated reasons for bringing down the Qiltu government. "Yikes, darling, they don't seem to like Cussians around these parts at the moment...!"

    Of greater concern was his sister. Alejandro had never showed up to board the plane. "He's a flake!" Will's sister had told Sherry, but then confessed she had done him wrong by marrying Dr. Blackthorn. As the sleek private plane arced through white clouds over the Long Sea, Molly told Sherry how she had met Alejandro on the beaches of Borovanger "before the war." (What war? Will wondered.) "But a countess cannot marry for love." Eavesdropping, Will wondered if this was meant as a warning.

    Countess Mary could feel her nerves were frayed. In the last few months, she had learned that, in the wake of his crushing electoral defeat by the Liberals, her husband had taken back his own Gallian lover, Marta. Mary thought she had carefully packed her off to Port Stanley so that she would never be seen again. Apparently not. Blackthorn was supposed to rule for twenty years or more. He was useless to her now, and worse, aware of what Mary had done to Marta. So he left her. Now Alejandro had too.

    Mary looked out over the hyaline sea, rightly called "divine." Will found her inscrutable, expressionless behind her dark sunglasses. He knew she was disgruntled about having to meet some Kollamese bigwigs or Azraqi politicians or something that afternoon. Will wished he could read his silent sister's mind. The little tramp cleaned up nicely for the flight to Malapuram, Molly thought to herself, though I shudder to think what kind of bathing costume she'll wear.
     
  11. W. Engell Republic

    W. Engell Republic Administrator

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    Sherry carefully undressed from her floral blouse and long green skirt for something infinitely more provocative for the conservative Gunnish duo waiting near this cramped dressing room. With much more haste she slipped easily into a Gunnish blue colored bikini, then threw a loose fitting white tank top that would cover and obscure most of her besides a pair of long legs that were finest assets on a slim tall figure.

    Once outside on the beach she was disappointed yet not surprised that the Gunns were not as eager to swim as she was. Sherry smiled at the two of them huddled up under the umbrellas covered in sunscreen, “Y’all came all the way to the Spice Islands and ain’t even gonna dip your toe in?”

    Sherry pulled off her wayfarer sunglasses and tossed them down on a recliner, “Sorry lovelies, I may never get a chance to be here again!”. Turning smoothly she then ran casually to the water, laughing as the first high waves hit her legs, and turning right around to fall backward into the sea. She then swam backward for awhile, her eyes closed and reciting a patriotic revolutionary war song about the ice and fury of the upper West Engell fringes. She was in paradise now truly and never wanted to go back to the frozen backwater she was born in.

    Eventually, after fantasizing for awhile about seducing an Azraqi billionaire instead to stay here for the rest of her life, she remembered the way William looked at her when they first met. She looked for the MacLeod’s back ashore and swam back toward them, standing when she could and waving to them. The white tank top she was wearing now hugged her tightly, exposing the rest of her figure and the blue bikini top underneath.

    Instead of returning to them immediately Sherry made a detour to a flowering bush, perfectly maintained by the groundskeepers of the wealthy Azraqi rulers no doubt. She picked two carefully, earnestly hoping she was not breaking the local laws. Sherry tucked a smaller and less precious one into her hair, and then returned to offer the other to Countess Mary.

    “It probably doesn’t mean much coming from a girl like me, you probably think of me as simple . . “ Sherry began as she covered herself with a towel, “but I respect what you have done for your clan and country. I’m a touch ashamed that I’ll never achieve as much as you or say . . Lady Sara Underwood of the Southern Constituent Republic . .”

    This was meant to be a probing compliment, yet Sherry knew the comparison to President Underwood may actually send the Countess into a fury. Here she was though, admiring both in their own ways, a South Engell and a Northern Gunnish woman from two polar opposite states that shared indeed the same love for power in politics. “I’ve never met her before of course, so I must profess that you are the most inspiring woman I have ever met!” Sherry declared through her blushing face.
     
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  12. Azraq

    Azraq Super Moderator

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    The tourist industry in the Azraqi Spice Islands catered for only two kinds of people: the super rich and the overly adventurous.

    Until recently, a special travel permit was required to visit on top of an entry visa to the Azraqi Empire. Ostensibly the restrictions were imposed on national security grounds, with terror attacks not an uncommon occurrence in this troubled archipelago. Yet for the most part, the bombings and shootings had targeted symbols and institutions of Azraqi rule - administrative buildings, security checkpoints, statues to decreased Emperors - rather than the hotel complexes that foreigners who could risk or afford to visit the islands. Many of the separatist movements had also renounced armed struggle, or refocused their attention to rival factions from different ethnic groups or ideological camps.

    The relative peace has encouraged the global elite to increasingly holiday in the Spice Islands, especially the main island of Kollam, now that Retalian villas seemed less of a safe bet. The weather and food was arguably better too.

    The princes of Azraq - infamous for their opulent and often debaucherous lifestyles - had many lavish properties out in Kollam, which they were all too happy to rent out to those with enough cash - or tall enough standing on the world stage.

    At the other end were middle class travellers keen to try the offbeaten tracks, engage in a bit of poverty porn and of course sample local vices, be that the opium dens or underground brothels of seedier neighbourhoods.

    The only time the two clientele would ever meet would be the regular jungle safaris, where local guides would transport their customers on beaten elephants through the rainforests, promising the opportunity to see a tiger or some other exotic creature.

    Countess MacLeod would partake in no such activities, preferring instead to luxuriate on the sandy beaches just outside the Kollamese capital of Malapuram, which sat at the foot of the Mala mountains that gave the city its name.

    The Gunnish royal had been told she would be meeting Kollamese politicians and Azraqi colonial officials as part of her stay. Yet that was not the entire truth. In fact, she would be surprised by a secret admirer, a certain Dalmar Filsan Tahiil, scion of the Ughaz of Haradhera.

    Azraq's monarchy was unique for being rotational rather than hereditary or elective. Each of the seven Imperial families - historic rulers of the seven Dawamalian coastal city-states that united under the banner of the League of the Fertile Crescent, the forerunner of the First Azraqi Empire - swapped the Ivory Throne every six years.

    Yet not all families were equal. The Ughazes of Hodon and Gabood, the two largest city-states, had long exercised outsized influence, thanks in part to their size but also to their close links with the Cussian government, Azraq's main benefactor. Haradhera enjoyed a friendly relationship too, as Beautancus hedged its bets, fully aware of the cutthroat nature of Azraqi court politics. But it was very much third favourite.

    Dalmar Filsan Tahiil, sensing an opportunity in the current chaos that mired Azraq, saw marriage with a Gunnish noble as a chance to boost his own standing and that of his family. The Council of the North, of which Gunnland was a member, was quickly emerging as an important geopolitical player.

    Dalmar was also an avowed Gunnophile. The austere Catholicism appealed to him far more than the decadent Islam Azraq practiced. The northern kingdom's universities were world renowned, unlike Azraq's pitiful institutions, while Gunnish clan system was not too dissimilar to that of the Dawamalians.

    Then there was Countess MacLeod herself. A befreckled redhead - a complexion and hair colour unseen anywhere in Azraq - with white skin finer than any of the ivory Dalmar owned, she was a thing of beauty.

    As he approached, Dalmar could barely keep his mouth closed, such was his shock. He had seen white women, but never in the flesh like this.

    As with many Azraqi nobles he had been lip plated, but realising such a practice would be alien to the Gunns, he had pierced the gaping hole left by the procedure shut. He had also eschewed traditional Azraqi dress - a garish combination of animal print and Oriental patterning - for a tartan linen suit, in MacLeod clan colours of course.

    As he marched along the private beach of the Pearl of the Orient hotel, one of Kollam's most exclusive resorts, he could only hope his attire, along with the entourage of Kollamese servants carrying traditional gifts - spices, teas, coffees and jewellery - would be enough to impress.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
  13. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Lazarus Saturday (*in the Orient)​

    Pearl of the Orient Hotel
    Malapuram, Kollam


    If I jump into that water, I am going to drown myself. Molly felt guilty for even thinking this, as she watched her brother react in the exact opposite way to Sherry's challenge. With boyish over-enthusiasm, Will peeled off his shirt and square-rimmed aviator sunglasses. Hopping on one foot, he shucked off his khaki trousers -- kilts are certainly not beachwear -- and sprinted towards the water. His tight-fitting black briefs left little of his rangy athletic build to the imagination; whatever parts it left to the imagination are not the parts typically associated with daydreams about Gunnland.

    Molly dipped her sunglasses at the "Cussian" lass. At first the quaintness of the offered flowers rankled her. Yesterday I was queenmaker, today I am like a grandmother receiving gifts from children. But the countess realized she was feeling only sorry for herself. With Blackthorn -- my husband, a voice in her head said -- she had bet on the wrong horse, and he had humiliated her. Alejandro would not be summoned back, he had the stiff-necked pride that some Borovangen men had. Molly envied Sherry. Gunnishwomen, especially countesses, couldn't afford to look hot. In Gunnish culture, one assumed that bodies were not bared by choice. Watching Will and Sherry for three days had intensified Molly's loneliness. I am not that old, am I? She dreaded the long process of trying to secure an annulment from the Church, and all of the stigma surrounding a remarriage. Molly found herself thinking, I really want to fuck. Just thinking these words made even a relatively liberal Gunnishwoman blanch. Luckily Molly's skin was pellucid, so blanching really made no difference.

    "He likes you, Miss Rydell, my brother. William is a good man, but remember that all men are wolves."

    As soon as these words left her mouth, a regal looking black chief with his retinue came striding down the beach, looking like King Balthazar with gifts for the baby Jesus. (Molly half-remembered a joke her father told about why the three kings in their nativity set were dressed in MacLeish, MacLeod, and Gunn tartans. Black King Balthazar was dressed in MacLeod yellow-and-black but the real punch line was about the Gunns.) One of the "earpiece dudes," as Mary thought of them, had mentioned the importance of this stately son of the Ughaz of Haradhera. Dalmar. She couldn't exactly remember why he was so important, but as the not-quite-ruler of three realms spread across the globe, Mary didn't get too snippy about complex internal politics.

    She rolled her eyes a little at Sherry, still chuckling about nativity sets, as she replaced her sunglasses and rose and turned desultorily to meet the Azraqi prince. Be gracious to your hosts, Mary. Remember you are in a foul temper. Don't appear condescending. Be gracious! Then she froze.

    It was the way he was looking at her, like she was an exotic beauty. For a split-second she panicked. Is he looking at that Cussian tramp's tits through that exiguous garment? No. Does he speak Engelsh? As if on cue, Dalmar greeted her, his speech inflected with Gunnicisms in the way few foreigners outside of Scano-germania attempted. She swooned.

    Years later she would reflect that she made up her mind on the spot. To marry him, that is. And to give him what she had never given Jake Blackthorn, her last name. (This is a peculiarity; when one marries the MacLeod, male or female, or into the chiefly family of any clan, one becomes the MacLeod.) She was done trying to navigate the mores of the backwards racist country of her birth. Imagine, a black Moslem as Earl of Arundel, Duke of Lower Marpesia, and Prince of Port Stanley. They can finally call him Emir of Mafewa again. Gunnland could suck on that. And they could suck on each other, she didn't care if she'd be one of his forty wives, or whatever.

    Early the next morning, on the tarmac at Malapuram, she was shouting over the warming engines of the jet that was to take them to Chinde, the flight that she had delayed as long as possible.

    "I don't care if I ever go back to Gunnland. After the independence celebrations in Port Stanley, I am coming back here."

    Laying on the couch-seat, she smiled at him across the isle sitting in the large white-leather seat across the aisle as the plane swooped past the Pillars of Nearchus. Life can change, quick as a mood. Like the ancient mariners, Mary felt as if she was leaving the known world altogether. When she realized she could be tried for bigamy, and apostasy, and never allowed to return to Gunnland, it barely bothered her. She sunk into the leather seat of the jet. I'll just send Dalmar.

    In the seats behind them, Will looked over at Sherry. His mouth was still wide open in shock.

    OOC: Azraq">@Azraq we can spin this out more slowly and in more detail. There is no reason that the thread-posts need to be chronological. But in-game the romance will be one Saturday afternoon and evening, how long into the night depends on your character/culture (since Mary is quite resolute about stepping out of hers), before the MacLeods arrive in Chinde for Palm Sunday. There is a little more chaos planned for the trip. Secondly and also, I don't know if paparazzi exists in Azraq, but the slow leak of tabloid rumors should cause a freakout in Gunnland, which will be fun.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
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  14. W. Engell Republic

    W. Engell Republic Administrator

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    'Where one is struck down, another one rises' Sherry thought as Dalmar introduced himself with a shower of gifts for Countess Mary. 'What actually happened to the Borovanger lover?' she wondered further. In the whirlwind of the last days she had not stopped to consider whether or not the Thaumantic Civil Service or the Cussian Doctor had solved this problem for her, or if he truly had missed the aeroplane on his own accord.

    "Take me for a drink, Will - I think your Lady Sister would enjoy some privacy," Sherry suggested, already standing up, "wouldn't we as well?".

    "I'll have an Engellachian Sunrise, have you ever had one darling?" she asked confidently of the MacLeod. The drink consisted of 2 oz Engellachian vodka, juice of half a lime, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/4 Mango. She was damn ready and prepared to mix it herself if the Azraqi wouldn't as the gravity of her possibly causing the Borovanger's death began to weigh on her.

    "Mary has a type, doesn't she?" Sherry wondered aloud for William to consider, "Tall, dark, handsome, and available on every beach as sure as the sunset!"

    West Engells or Engellachians had a terrible yet accurate reputation for incest and consanguinity. The vast majority of villages outside of Vesper consisted of multi-generational families and clans with few opportunities of economic or social mobility outside of their birthplace. Wealthy Engellachians also intermarried within a small pool, and the Rydell's of Sheryl-Lynn's lineage were prone to at least one case of second-cousin marriage. Sherry's father was most likely a Kadiki Merchant Marine from a docked Anti-State vessel some two decades ago. Sherry's mother was ridiculed for coupling outside of the Engellosphere by her parents, and sent to Beautancus to marry a Cussian Commodity merchant who would look past the discrepancy for a dowry and several more children from his loins.

    Sherry sucked the drink down and ordered another immediately. "Is Port Stanley safe, William?" she asked as she nursed the second drink, "I'm still up for anything, this grand adventure, but will we be in a safe place among the Stanlyeans?"
     
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  15. W. Engell Republic

    W. Engell Republic Administrator

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    Days Earlier in Ayr

    Of average height but grossly overweight Mickey Allan was an awful pitcher that played baseball for the even worse Holiday Lake Ducklings franchise. Shaggy haired and mustachioed, he looked more like a homeless man from Vesper than a major league baseball player.

    "You want to pay me to do what?" Allan asked his manager, "You mean hit him with a ball?"

    "No, you hit him, but with a pistol." the manager answered, largely unsure of the task himself. They were there to play the Arundel Far Northerners, a vastly superior team, not mingle or murder Borovangeans. Both the manager and pitcher were terribly under compensated for performing in the top tier league, even if they were the likely the worst of all.

    "And you have this pistol? I don't have a pistol, I don't have half a million Engellmarks either though . ." Mickey considered. When he returned to his hotel room, the cheapest in Ayr by far, Mickey found a paper bag with an old Sylvanian Coonan HiCap. A hand scribbled note with the pistol read: "Ayr Harbor, meet the man, shoot the man, throw the pistol into the sea, 500k Engellmarks, that's all."

    Mickey slipped on a jacket, slipped the pistol into a pocket within the coat, and poured himself one last shot of rye whiskey before departing. He had been drinking all afternoon and evening since being pulled from the mound early in the afternoon, surrendering five runs in as many innings. His walk to the harbor was a meandering journey with him bumping into at least one Gunnishman who sneered at his filthy demeanor.

    Shrugging it off, Mickey eventually discovered a handsome dusky skinned man standing alone at the harbor. Alejandro Belagio, the Borovangean paramour of Countess Mary, stood alone near the edge of the water. Mickey observed him momentarily, Alejandro appeared to be looking for someone impatiently as if he had somewhere he had to be. The would be assassin found a place where light was scarce and slowly drew the pistol, checking the magazine one last time before making his stumbling approach.

    "Hey, you watch baseball?" Mickey asked perfectly certain that Alejandro would not recognize him, and naturally Alejandro did not recognize the third string pitcher from the league's worst team for a moment. "Anyways, can you point me which way the train station is? I promise I'll leave you alone, I'm just a bit drunk and lost you see. "As Alejandro turned, so did Mickey reach back into his coat and draw the pistol, burying one bullet behind the man's ear before he could utter "That way, now get moving", or however he might dismiss the drunken athlete.

    'Now, was it throw the man in the sea, or throw the pistol in the sea, or both?' the pitcher wondered. "Both it is!" he said aloud, uncertain if the flashes at the corner of his eyes were people or drunken blurs. Mickey struggled to lift and push the lifeless body into the water, while throwing away the pistol as far as he could was a much simpler physical feat. As he turned and walked away he stepped over the shell, crunching over it and ignoring the casing as he bumbled away and back to his little hotel room where a night of drugs and drinking among other Holiday Lake Duckling baseball players awaited.
     
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  16. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Wednesday​

    The Bungalow
    Chinde, Port Stanley

    Will told Sherry-Lynn at the Pearl of the Orient that Port Stanley would be safe. Now he was not so sure. Dalmar had flown back to Kollam almost immediately, days ago. Did he know something we didn't? Now there was news of war in the north, along Lake Rwenbezi. A war that began the day they arrived. Reliable news from the interior came slowly. Or there is no good news to report. He handed Sherry-Lynn an Engellachian Sunrise, which he could now mix passably, shooing away the deferential Fante butler who would have insisted on pulping the mango. It was awkward enough to walk through a city with such an obvious racial caste system, and doubly awkward in the company of Octavia Butler. Even Will and Sherry were served before the prime minister, had to walk through doors before the prime minister did, and received bows that the prime minister did not. Color trumped power in Chinde. Now lovers stood on the periphery of an important gathering, Sherry stirring her vodka cocktail. They could look out through the white columns of the verandah on the lights of Chinde and the beaches below.

    Mary was there, dressed in black, still reeling from news of Alejandro's death. She had spoken hardly a word to Will and Sherry-Lynn all week. In fact she had found out just before Palm Sunday Mass, but nonetheless had done her diplomatic duty, which chiefly consisted of embracing the plump Octavia Butler outside the cathedral and in front of the cameras. Once out of the public eye, she fell apart. She did not seem to notice as the heavyset prime minister was briefing them on the progress of the war in the north, in hushed tones so that the servants could not hear:

    "The primary objective of the light infantry in Loago is to capture or kill my cousin Salammbô, who joined the Uprising and almost took all of Mashrabiya... that is, Oriel... with her. Only this will end the threat of civil war that looms over our country. But there has been a setback..."

    Will saw a seated Robert Gunn grimace. The chief, once the most powerful man in Gunnland, sat between the young Prince Joachas and a Nethian woman of refined posture, whom Will recognized as Oritsematosan Udomo, a mysterious and intriguing newcomer to Gunnish politics. A forgotten game of chess was on a table between them. Joachas looked more despondent than even Mary. He executed his own mother? Will could still not believe a twelve-year old was capable of that, but now he had heard the rumor from enough people, including Robert Gunn himself that afternoon. Robert has his hands full. What an insane family. You would not believe the stories that Robert told Will about this house and Joachas's mother: how Queen Deoiridh survived the famous plane crash that maimed her husband, King Josias, and then how she fell for Duncan MacLeish, how the MacLeish had installed her in one Himyari mansion after another, how Robert hid Joachas there during the Seven Days' War, how RLI paratroopers burst through the ceiling to capture her and Robin, one of the MacLeish's mistresses, how Joachas became infatuated with Robin. But the most gruesome story was when Deoiridh bludgeoned Robin near to death near the pool for making a mistake on her toenails, her twelve-year old son sentenced her to death, and she was drowned in the pool. If King Josias is still alive, then Queen Julian is not the legitimate queen, and the closest male heir is... reminiscing on these stories and not listening to Prime Minister Butler, Will looked across the room at Joachas, who was staring into the darkness. But that's crazy!

    Octavia was still explaining the state of the war in the interior, though only Robert Gunn, Udomo, and Sherry seemed to still be listening.

    "We are prepared to call up reservists for a second assault, even if this gives time for Maseru and their Natalian allies to move troops west, because of the importance of our..."

    Will gave Sherry a light pinch on the arm and jerked his head towards the door that led inside, in a gesture that said, Let's sneak away. An inviting yellow glow shone from the interior. He had spent the last week telling her that the MacLeods weren't like the Gunns. Perhaps now she believed him.
     
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  17. W. Engell Republic

    W. Engell Republic Administrator

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    The Bungalow
    Chinde, Port Stanley

    Dysfunction in a large family and violence from the natives were commonalities at times on the Cussian frontier Sheryl-Lynn had grown up in as a older child and teenager. Somehow she began to feel comfortable in this familial chaos. The vodka helped surely, but the terrors of the Civil Service selection process had prepared her to remain calm in much worse.

    “I could do with a break Will,” she lied, “but perhaps you should remain here to strategize and make a difference?”

    Sherry’s phone likely would not work here, she had not even tried, so she had no safe method of relaying any of what she was hearing and trying to remember anyways. By now the Engellachians had told the true Engells about her progress, but they had not contacted her in days for progress updates.

    “Your sister needs your help, William, Port Stanley needs your help right now. I’ll just go find a game of chess with another oxygen thief like myself here.” Sherry joked with a wink, “Tell me how it goes in bed later, hmm?”

    Sherry then found a lady’s room and lost herself in a memory of service selection . . .


    Three Years Earlier
    Penal Colony no. 8, Far Frozen Engellachia

    “Single file, eyes forward, two paces apart, position of the fuck attention!” Captain Reeves screamed, “Everyone here without a uniform and badge is no one, less than animals, you are robots! What are you?”

    “Captain, robots, Captain!” Sheryl-Lynn and another ten hopeful agents replied in attempted unison.

    “Who can tell me where we are?” Reeves asked the group. Sherry remained silent along with everyone else. At least twelve hours earlier in the nighttime they had all put on vision blocking goggles and earplugs for an uncertain destination. It was still nighttime here, ‘Impossible,’ Sherry thought, ‘unless, yes we are at the top of the bloody arctic north!”

    “Captain, is this a Penal Colony - Whitefox 8 perhaps, Captain?” another trainee replied finally. He had identified himself as a private military contractor to the rest of the group earlier in Vesper, another three of the men were as well and one jet black haired lady who said she had Cussian native blood.

    “Correct, the only way in or out is by helicopter, and as you robots can see we are in the tenth day of thirty days of night. Now if you want to go inside, you’ll need to get naked, we don’t want you contaminating the other robots inside!” Reeves ordered.

    Sherry simply wanted to get inside, so she followed the order shaking and wincing tightly. Another university student at the end of their ten person squad was refusing to undress. Captain Reeves marched to the end of the line and clubbed the young man in the knee with a baton, he immediately hit the snow blown concrete with a squeal.

    “Robots, you have permission to tear this robot’s clothes off and meet me inside with or without it!”

    Sherry and the others immediately jumped the boy, tearing and clawing at his clothes while bumping frigid flesh against each other. Each body was ice white and hard, and she had already ceased to think about anything but the task of undressing him and rushing inside as ordered.

    Each besides the crippled boy, who laid there still shaking and squealing in a ball, ran inside to find guards who wrapped them in heavy white blankets before shoving them into white footprints spray painted on the cold concrete one by one.

    “I have nine robots now? Very well!” Reeves sneered. “For those of you too sheltered or ignorant to know that Whitefox is where Engellachia sends its killers, rapists, and everyone civilized society would rather forget. But we don’t forget about criminals here at Whitefox, we turn them into robots like you, not people and less than animals! What are you?”

    “Captain, robots, Captain!” they answered. Sherry shivered outside and in her soul. This was a side of the Engellachians she had only heard about from her Cussian step-father, yet failed to believe as anything other than slurs until now. Cussians hung their rapists, or at least had the decency of torturing and killing them in a single night of ritual. First Republic Engells and the Cussians took their criminals to work and reformed them with purpose and skills. This was an absolute hellscape!

    “I want you to march in there in front of the other robots, eyes forward, position of the fuck attention, and don’t bloody move. If you move after you’re on the next white footprints I promise you will regret it. Don’t fucking test this place! Forwaaard, March!”

    The group marched to the next prints inside and were now surrounded by twice as many prisoners, or robots, who were howling and reaching out to steal their blankets to add to their collection. Each was naked as well, but skinnier and gaunt eyed like icy ghouls. They spat at them through the bars and the young woman in front of Sherry was hit with a fluid she did not care to acknowledge fully.

    From each end of the hall guards and hounds, a mix of shepherds and malamutes entered barking and scratching at the concrete to lunge at them. “Remember what I told you . .” Captain Reeves reminded.

    An alarm then sounded, so loud it made her and the others flinch. Sherry hardened herself, reminding herself not to move. The doors to the cages were opening! The girl in front of her collapsed to the ground in terror to the fetal position, another man broke and ran for the guards, he was tackled by the first inmate out of a cell. Sherry closed her eyes tightly and began to cry, but did not move another muscle. In these ensuing moments of clubs against skulls she felt a mans hand on her breast, the fur of a hound who lunged into that man and brought him to the ground, and an inmate who simply stole her blanket away and returned to his cell.

    When Sherry re-opened her eyes there were only five left of the starting ten trainees. “Wipe those pretty blue eyes, miss” a Guard allowed as he reeled in his hound from the writhing prisoner at her feet. ‘Papa was bloody right, these people are savages!’
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019 at 1:28 AM
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  18. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Good Friday​

    Our Lady of the Southern Cross Cathedral
    Chinde, Port Stanley

    Robert Gunn had to take Joachas out of the church, for fear someone would notice his agony. It was not an easy service for a man guilty of killing the innocent. In the narthex, both hands on the boys' shoulders, he could be mistaken for Joachas's father, giving him a stern talking to. Both had the same straight, sandy hair parted to one side. Robert had a neatly trimmed moustache.

    "You were born to carry the Sword-from-Across-the-Water, and cleave the dead from the living. Now go make your confession. Tomorrow we will go to Loago, and you shall learn to kill men as a man does."

    He pushed the boy into the confessional, while the rest of the congregants lined up to venerate the cross, kissing its foot. Whites first, then blacks. Even here, he thought darkly. The racial hierarchy bothered Robert less somewhat, though, now that he knew it was a game. Not that it was a game for the poor Fante from the interior who came to Chinde for work. But their matriarchs played along with white supremacy, while secretly ruling through well-placed white slaves.

    They weren't really going to Loago with forty hand-picked Gunn fighters to teach Joachas anything. Nor because Robert wanted to journey once more into the bloody interior of Eastern Himyar. He didn't. He still had nightmares from time to time that played with his memories of being held captive, bound and gagged, by Octavia, Salammbô, and Anwanyu.

    They were going to Loago because of something Octavia had whispered to him Wednesday evening. "Salammbô has one of my ministers hostage." He thought she meant Al-Khazari, her husband, the forests minister. "Your friend Adelaide." Adelaide. Robert's first lover. Adelaide who was responsible from rescuing Robert last summer from the Fante chieftesses. That was a role reversal. Poor Adelaide. It was usually Adelaide who was a hostage: to an abusive woolens merchant named George Fogerty, to Duncan MacLeish and later Deoiridh, and now to the RANU. Robert had no choice. Into the warzone he'd go.

    ***
    As Robert Gunn stood in the shadow of a great pillar beside the confessional Joachas had entered, eavesdropping on the boy's sobs, he noticed Countess Mary, dressed in black mourning clothes, enter the confessional on the other side. The rest of the congregation was still in a long queue to kiss the foot of the cross. Then he noticed Will MacLeod's Cussian girlfriend loitering near the confessional. Unsurprisingly uninterested in her savior. But unlikely waiting to confess herself. He realized she was doing the same thing he was. Eavesdropping on Mary's confession. Robert decided to circle around behind her, careful to disguise his footfalls. The walls of the box were thin, so Robert, unseen, could hear Mary as well as Sherry-Lynn could.

    "...my husband's former lover, a Christian woman named Marta Ramos, into slavery in this country last spring. I have since learned that I sold her to a madwoman, who fled this country to take up with a cannibal and a rebel. And then when Marta returned to my husband, rather than repent of the wicked thing I had done..."

    Robert walked behind Sherry quietly, and was close enough to smell the beads of sweat on her freckled neck underneath her perfume.

    "...and lastly I have taken a new lover into my bed..." Another muffled voice, less distinct. The priest asking if she repentant for her sins. "Yes, father, all of them. Except for the last one."

    A muffled cry of surprise when Robert pinched the skin above Sherry's triceps. He felt her stiffen. But the cry was the priest's inside the confessional, not hers. Robert's right hand slid to the handgun underneath his left armpit, though by instinct only, not because he thought the young woman was dangerous. Nosy, though. Nosy could be good. She might become a valuable source of information about the MacLeods, whose support the Gunns relied upon, but whom they could not trust for a variety of reasons. Robert thought to hint as much to her.

    "You had better find Will, hadn't you, now that you know what happens to pretty girls that cross Mary? We'll talk about you sometime."
     
  19. W. Engell Republic

    W. Engell Republic Administrator

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    Sherry turned to meet Robert’s devilish gaze, he had seen through her instantly and for that she immediately respected him. She listened to him and grinned when she mentioned Mary’s wrath, and nodded, mouthing “I do” inaudibly.

    That he wanted to speak with her again both scared and excited her, he was the most serious man or woman she had met across the pond and this could be either her undoing or capital success.

    “Talk? Any time, tiger. I don’t sleep with a gun by my side quite like you,” Sherry gestured to the pistol she had heard jostle slightly, “so keep sneaking up on me please.”

    Hearing Mary exiting the fictional blackmail cubicle now, Sherry ran along as ordered.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019 at 11:24 PM
  20. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Easter Sunday, 3:00am​

    The Bungalow
    Chinde, Port Stanley

    There was one secret that Sherry did not know. A party of nine was leaving in the wee hours for the Loago warzone in a pair of humvees in an impromptu adventure. The chief and the prince; the doughfaced attorney and three 15AR men just flown in from Gunnland; and three women that caught wind of the plan at the last moment and threatened to expose everything if they were not included:

    Robert Gunn, to rescue Adelaide;
    Prince Joachas, because the chief said so;
    Padraig Smith, to avenge his uncle Ian's death;
    Jude MacReddin, because Jake Blackthorn was too drunk and addicted to Twatter to avenge Marta Ramos himself;
    Thomas MacIntyre, to regain face with the 15AR;
    Fr. Gregorius Keiper, to meet George Battle;
    Robin Lang, suddenly overprotective of the prince;
    Oritsematosan Udomo, because Adelaide had 'discovered' her, and to kill Salammbô;
    Kate Faolain, because Udomo said so.

    The night was pitch-black, but for the halogen glare of the headlights of two humvees idling in the garage. Above them, in the mother-in-law's suite above, Will dozed contentedly, arm slung over his "Cussian" lover. Except Sherry was no longer in his arms. She was at the window, thoughts racing, as she watched the nine loading the vehicles with guns and duffel bags. Robert Gunn did not see her silhouette, and was anyway unaware she was sleeping with Will in the mother-in-law suite. As far as he knew, she was just a bit of a nosy Cussian hussy who was a little desperate to land a wealthy MacLeod husband. Compromising her two days in the cathedral made her nothing more than a very minor pawn on his chessboard of thousands, one he might never use, at any rate. Unless...

    "What are you doing, darling?" asked a groggy Will MacLeod, all tousled ginger hair and rubbing eyes. What he did not know is that Sherry was making a split-second decision whether or not to make the nine adventurers eleven.
     

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