The Sun Made of Water

Discussion in 'The World Stage' started by Gunnland, Nov 1, 2010.

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  1. Confederal Republics

    Confederal Republics New Member

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    December 14, 2010

    DOVRE, City-Under-the-Mountain

    Once a Ranger, always a Ranger, the saying went. "Strike Hard" was the motto of the Army Ranger Battalion, the unit that Neil Clark had been part of before transferring out to Intelligence, where he'd kept it with him. Literally speaking, since the man had taken a tattoo of the Ranger sigil in his left biceps after being accepted into the unit. And boy, did a fighter such as the IF-23 strike hard, especially when carrying it's weight's full worth in cluster bombs. Clark recalled seeing a CAF one - designated I/AF-109 "Dragon" in Cornavia - in action during the "other branches of service" course prospective Military Intelligence members got during their training.

    Still, this wasn't his game. Major Clark's world had been men with automatic weapons deep in the forest, stalking their target to strike hard and unseen or to allow brothers-in-arms to do that. And now his world was the cloak-and-dagger game of secrets and deceit. He was happy that he'd brought Lieutenant Ashford along for the ride. Terry Ashford had joined Military Intelligence from Air Force and served as a cryptographer-communications expert-security specialist-driver and whatever else Neil Clark happened to need at the embassy. Though the man had been mission crew during most of his time within the Air Force, Ashford had a tendency to become all giddy about anything related to fighter aircraft, including this gig. Then again, it figured. If you were a regular guy, the chances were that you'd joined Air Force to become a pilot. Clearly Lieutenant Ashford hadn't realized that ambition of his, though being that he seemed satisfied with his current lot Clark guessed that the whole 'international man of mystery' thing served as a good replacement.

    Owing to his Secret security clearance, Major Clark had previously read about the underground city of Dovre, but this was the first time the head of Military Intelligence in country got to visit in person. Suffice to say, he was impressed by what he saw. The underground facility was by the very least an equal to the Commonwealth's own facilities of Continuity of Commonwealth Government, meant to ensure the survival of civil and military command structures even in the event of a nuclear attack. Such facilities were centered at the General Staff in Langdon, and at Fort Weather, and Clark had seen both first-hand. In any case, Skycommander Viereskog certainly had something to be proud of.

    Viereskog's opening up at the control tower came as a little surprise to him. As it turned out, in a recent confidential cable from Southport-on-Sea his superior Colonel Brendan Carter had specifically requested that the Major work to ascertain where exactly Oelar stood with the recent emergence of the so-called Imperium from isolation. Even amidst international intrigue and the possibility of looming armed conflict, the fact that his work seemed to do itself for him once more.

    As he took one of the dossiers, passing it to Lieutenant Ashford who promptly proceeded to place it inside an attaché case he was carrying, he gave a brief glance at his Franconian counterpart. He had little doubt as to his suspicion that the woman would also be at least reporting to a counterpart agency in Nürnberg, and knowing how the game-plan went, Neil Clark hoped that he'd manage to get some facetime with the Skycommander without the Franconian hag within a listening distance. Alas, it seemed just as likely that Viereskog was playing both sides.

    The man openly chastising Altvir and the rest was an interesting thing to note. In a certain level, Major Clark envied the man for being able to say such things. Though Cornavians enjoyed freedoms many times above those of the average Oelarian, he could have never imagined being completely open about what he felt about Joanne Wainwright and the rest, at least in a situation other than at an officers' club following a few pints and a glass of whiskey.

    "My lips are sealed, as are undoubtedly those of the ones above me", Major Clark replied to Vierskog, and barely managed to cover his surprise for the frankness of the man's words. Viereskog bringing this up with a mere Major was a surprise, even if the said Major headed the Department of Military Intelligence in all of Oelar.

    "As to your inquiry", Clark paused for a moment, wondering how much he exactly could disclose when the Franconian woman was around, "Yes, we've been keeping an eye on your Eastern neighbor for quite some time, so your proposition does not come as a surprise."
     
  2. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 17, 2010

    YUNGDRUNG GUTSAK

    Inns and family homes were swelling with the mountain people coming down out of the boondocks to make a biannual pilgrimage to the St. Franziskus Cathedral for Christmastide, and to vote for the Tjadlungsgravates that extended north and south over the traditionally nomadic 'tent-peoples'. Some came by snowshoe, others by cross-country skis, those who lived a two day journey or more rode horses, if they were older, or snowmobiles, if they were younger or dragging a family behind in covered pulks. The town was suddenly flooded with large, bearded men with tuques and goggles. Reticent Hólar shepherds from the mountains north of Yungdrung Gutsak mingled with yeomen from Skálholt - from little hamlets like Koege - who may have been lucky enough to hitch rides on the trains that carried their meats and cheeses to the capital.

    Their rough Tagzig-Futhorc sounded odd, especially to the townspeople who spoke a dialect much closer to Standard Aren Norsk or Suionian. They stayed clear of the fashionable farthings of Skiringssal and Muspellheimr and Dyrehaven as well as from the working-class districts of the town, but got along easily and well with their sons, fathers, and brothers in the Einherjar or the Aircommand, many of whom had come to Yungdrung Gutsak on leave for Christmastide.

    The weather had not been particularly forbidding, which was good news for the conservatives who could generally count on the mountaineers' votes. The beginnings of the pilgrimage were peaceful, except for a notable instance at Sally's where Gudmundur Jón-Mariesson Stærke (a Hólar shepherd from near Nidarós) a massive man in a tuque and goggles with snow still lining the wool of his hat felt snubbed by the grizzled old bartender, Fitz. Suspecting correctly that the Fitz was conspiring with Gretchen Seumasdatter Gunn about whether to serve the bedraggled shepherd, Stærke seized his neighbor's glass mug of Mimir ale and slid it with alarming speed and accuracy at Fitz's "goddamned Franconian" head, which it struck with great force. An ensuing brawl that left several university students injured (including a niece of a prominent Alvitr family, Rakel-Adelaide Vilhjálmsdatter Loeds) was ended when Stærke and his two companions drew their shotguns and blasted apart the massive plate window behind the bar.

    Lord Provost Halvbefaren and a group of armed men from upstairs came down and the entire dispute was resolved with a promise that the Nidarós men would vote for Perseifur in the elections the next day.
     
  3. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    Gegen die Regierung mit allen Mitteln zu kämpfen ist ja ein Grundrecht und Sport eines jeden Oelaren.(1)
    Maximilian von Montgelas, Ministerpresident, father of Modern Franconia


    DOVRE, City-under-the-mountain
    14. December


    "Seven years? My golly", Oberst Petra Dohrmann exclaimed. The 45-year-old mother of four children was astonished. She tried to imagine giving away her youngest son, who had just turned eight to be turned into a modern version of knight. Dohrmann couldn’t. For a very brief time her companions, the Oelarian Viereskog and the Cornavian Clark could see her bewilderment, but she quickly managed to recollect.

    Whilst Dohrmann proudly wore the uniform of a Royal Air Force senior officer, a pundit of Franken’s Königliche Streitkräfte wouldn’t have trouble to identify her as Staff Officer working with the Defence Ministry. It was indicated by one of her sleeve insignia. At the Ministerium für Verteidigung she happened to be the head of the ministry’s intelligence staff. Her job was to coordinate and oversee the intelligence retrieval and processing within the military. Neither Defence Minister Graf von der Eulenburg nor Foreign Minister Robert Beaumont had explicitly mentioned her role towards the Oelarians. They shouldn’t have it too easy, should they?

    Admittedly, the whole complex was impressive and they did quite a good job at training their little knight-fighter-pilot hybrids. “Skycommander, please accept my compliments for running the facility so efficiently while still abiding by time-honoured traditions. I’m certain both Franken and Oelar will continue to benefit from each other’s different assets and talents,” Dohrmann commented. Furthermore, Nürnberg will shove a lot of money and ressources into your country to maintain it as a buffer. But this she didn’t say aloud. Instead she cast the smile which had melted her husband’s heart more than 20 years ago.

    When Viereskog cracked his joke about Foreign Minister Alvitr, the Luftwaffenoberst just coughed. Dohrmann wasn’t fond of macho jokes, which she had learned to conveniently ignore throughout her long military career. Being handed the top-secret papers you couldn’t tell she was caught off-guard a little. “No, Sky Commander, I’m not very surprised considering the autonomous character of Oelar’s air command. You can rest assured that your secrets will be kept.”

    Dohrmann made herself a mental note to have some more money shoved down Viereskog’s throat while she was looking out of the big-plate window. The ambitious sky commander was likely to become a valuable asset. Still there was a funny gut feeling about him. Was he one of those aspiring men loyal just to himself? The Oberst was determined to find out.

    YUNGDRUNG GUTSAK,
    Same Say


    In retrospect Valerian Poller wondered whether they had done it the right and proper way. The Chief of Security of Franken’s embassy had devised a curious plan to deliver a supply of further monetary aid to two Great Council candidates Franken wanted to win their race.

    The first one was Foreign Minister Alvitr, as His Majesty’s Government, i.e. Graf Solms and Robert Beaumont, firmly believed she would be a more useful ally with an expanded power base. The second one was Roerich, since the earl and his foreign minister wanted him as another piece in their complicated Oelarian puzzle.
    Delivered to their respective private office’s Roerich would find a selection of vintage Franconian wine and Alvitr would discover a large box of selected Franconian pralines.

    Both were accompanied by letters.

    The FHO was a small Franconian private bank, which eagerly exploited Oelar’s lax banking regulations and allured mysterious characters to deposit their money with them. There were even rumours it was a business arm of the LND and/or its military twin, the MAD. When asked about the rumours, the bank’s chief executive officer would usually reply with a lengthy praise of Oelar’s “particular” banking system. Eventually that’d bore any inquisitive citizen to death.

    No, the chief of security concluded, covering the late token of monetary support as a gift delivery hadn't been too clownish.

    (1) Fighting the government by all means possible is the one basic right and favourite sport of any Oelarian. ​
     
  4. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    December 19
    Nürnberg


    “Papa!” Josefine’s voice sounded very stern for a 14-year-old girl, Foreign Minister Beaumont thought when he heard his daughter’s admonishment. “You shouldn’t look so unhappy and concerned! What’s so important you have to do on your laptop tonight instead of looking forward to our first journey alone?”

    Robert Beaumont closed his laptop, where he had reviewed intelligence dossiers and assessments on the electoral results in Oelar, and hugged his daughter dearly. Alvitr’s loss and Roerich’s gain of a council seat were nothing compared to his daughter’s company. “Sweetheart, we won’t be on our own. Altogether 90 persons will join us on our trip to Oelar, 250, if you take the security forces into account our country generously provides. Among our humble companions will be the Prince Regent and his father, the King himself. So behave yourself!” As the upcoming birthday celebrations were meant to be a joyous event mainly instead of just plain business and the Christmas holidays had started, the Foreign Minister had agreed to take his youngest daughter on his trip to the Northern neighbour. Furthermore, she would have been alone at home, save for the staff.

    While her two older siblings Wilhelm and Helena were already studying in far away from their home town, Josefine had chosen to live with her father. “Someone has to look after you, Papa,” she told her bewildered father after the custodianship hearing before the family court. Moreover, she got along surprisingly well with her potential young step-mother Elisa. Her elder brother and sister, however, had responded coolly to their parents’ decision and weren’t particularly thrilled their father was seeing a girl of their age.

    According to national security protocols, the King and his heir apparent were always to travel separately. If Oelar’s capital had had a civilian airfield large enough for the FRANKEN EINS and its sibling government jets to use, this requirement wouldn’t have caused any trouble. Consequently they had to charter an international railway travel train from the Reichsbahnen Franken to turn it into a second royal train beside the only official one, which the King and a large portion of the delegation would use. Last week the police forces tasked with overseeing the security efforts were brought to Yungdrung Gutsak. Tomorrow, at 9.00am Robert Beaumont, his daughter, the Prince Regent, his wife, their oldest son Sebastian and one part of the delegation would leave Nürnberg by train.

    What really bugged the Foreign Minister that Jakob von Franken insinuated his father would bring a large present for Beaumont to the celebrations. When he asked his Prince for details, Jakob von Franken showed a broad grin. “Herr Beaumont, you will see, you will see. Other people would pay large sums to get what you are to receive.” Brushing away any suspicions and thoughts about the surprise, he took his daughter’s hand and led her to the large living room. “What about spending the better part of the night watching these two recently released computer animated cartoon films from this Singlish studio? One is about this rat which is into cooking Montelimarian cuisine and helps its clumsy human friend, isn’t it? Knowing you, Josefine, you are already so excited you won’t be able to sleep a lot tonight, eh?” His daughter just grinned and lolled on one of the cozy recliners.
     
  5. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 19, 2010

    Yungdrung Gutsak

    It was the first time the Gunns had all been together since the death of the Lord Rigpa's younger brother Yvo. The footloose Gretchen Seumasdatter was back from Oikawa. Vilhjálm had insisted on making the trip down from Gunnrsund despite his poor health, but Pall Yvosson (to whom the lordship had passed some years ago) had gotten hold of a helicopter to bring Vilhjálm Feargusson. His only surviving son, Séamus Vilhjálmsson, the doctor, looked extraordinarily pleased to see him, but not so much as his three gorgeous daughters, Gretchen, Mikaela, and young Carla. Most of the affection went to young Theodor Pallsson, who, quite overtired after the meal, had his face buried in the skirts of his mother, Klara. Everyone had already heard, however, about the exact specifications of the sled he wanted for Christmas.

    Jens Yvosson left not long after dinner, as if to show no more fealty to his half-family than was required of him, although he did offer his cousin Séamus a game of chess, which he won handily to the consternation of Séamus's wife, Marie, who knew it would leave the ardent hobbyist smarting for the next year.

    Inwardly disappointed, as always, at Jens's abrupt departure - Men carry wounds, but they should unburden themselves if they can, no? - Old Thorlákur Feargusson smiled as his nephews and great-nieces. They remembered stories from their upbringing, like when Mikaela had thought her kindly old great-uncle (with his aloof and mysterious ways) had been Santa Claus. The family was gathered in the comfortable living room on the ground floor of the Freehold, which like a typical Oelarian house had no television centerpiece. The extraordinarily high tariffs on televisions and computers made it impractical for any places but libraries and pubs to afford one; this was considered the strangest hard-line position of the present Rigpa.

    Pall, leaning against the fireplace grate, pulled a bottle of 16-year-old Klostersoya whisky out of his coat and smiled. "Klara and I have good news. In the spring we are expecting twins. They will be boys. We plan to name Thorlákur and Thórhall..." He smiled broadly. "You said it would be our job to produce the boys, eh?, Séamus?" And so the men (Vilhjálm Feargusson most enthusiastically) set to the traditional task of emptying the bottle at the news.

    When they were quite advanced, Gretchen Seumasdatter emerged from the kitchen, when the women had finished cleaning the pots, and brightly announced that she planned to accept their distant cousin Feargus Ulfsson Gunnr's marriage proposal. Mischievioulsy she produced another bottle of whisky from the highlands of Gunnland, near their ancestral homes.

    Watching Séamus's face go even redder, as if that was possible after having so much to drink, Thorlákur had the slightest suspicion that his grand-niece was kidding. It would be a long night. And they had to receive their Franconian guests the next day!
     
  6. Confederal Republics

    Confederal Republics New Member

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    December 17, 2010

    YUNGDRUNG GUTSAK

    Apparently, General Director Lewis and Preston had been truthful when Claridge House had relayed that the operation in Oelar was currently the most important one for all of the CIS. During the last few days, the Ministry of External Trade had finished the deployment of a "commercial liaisons team" of Ministry officials into Oelar for the purposes of promoting Cornavian commerce in Oelar, while at the same time a stream of reporters was arriving to cover the politically important vote for the position of the Rigpa.

    As it turned out, not one of the commercial liaison officers who had arrived to the Cornavian embassy actually worked for the Ministry of External Trade, whereas the aforementioned stream of Cornavian journalists contained more than a few non-officials just like Darren Hendley. If Chief of Station Colton Standish recalled correctly, there had been more than a few internal arguments during the previous years over the fact that non-official cover officers of the Intelligence Service commonly went in under a journalistic cover.

    From an intelligence standpoint it made perfect sense: Journalists were likely to have at least some kinds of technical equipment and they were likely to go around asking questions from people. But each exposed NOC undercover as a journalist made the job harder for legitimate journalists, the objections typically went. Most commonly, they were dismissed on the account of a loose moral character being something of a hiring requirement for everyone in the Intelligence Service to begin with.

    Operation Garnet was by far the most sensitive operation ever to have been undertaken by any Cornavian government organization since the end of the Great War. Even Standish, a highly placed intelligence officer in his own right knew scant details of the operation's extent back home, but what he knew was that political manipulation had been perfected into a practical art by his Service and its senior counterpart of the Security Service during Garnet's existence.

    And among the "commercial liaisons" were people skilled at such manipulative tactics, now perfecting and carrying out the Cornavian gameplan from the confines of the embassy. Internet warfare worked out less well here than in the net-saturated Commonwealth, but still a few fake blogs and a provocative discussion board post and a few idle rumors here and there were useful tactics. However, more conventional approach had its definite advantages in Oelar, which brought the non-officials in. Under indirectly relayed orders from Colton Standish at the embassy, their job would be to keep up the contacts with the locals, passing in Cornavian money here and there to the people that mattered. Of course, officially speaking their job description was to talk to people, which was why the CIS was somewhat fond of doing the whole journalist cover thing.

    The material and financial requirements of the operation weren't exactly thrilling Claridge House, particularly after Major Clark had made his own request to the Ministry of Defense upon returning from the meeting with Viereskog and giving a recommendation that the Skycommander and his cohorts should be a major focus of Cornavian influence-building.
     
  7. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 20, 2010

    YUNGDRUNG GUTSAK

    "Scare the Alvitrs that the Intersectionalists will win, so they vote for you. Do you have a Plan B?"

    There was silence in the seventh tower. Yungdrung Gutsak was sometimes called the city of seven towers: in addition to the four towers on the north, south, east, and west walls there were the more-famous Freehold, the Belfry of St. Franziskus, and the Campanile. Alasdair Robertsson Viereskog was paying a call to Lord Provost Halvbefaren in a rare visit to the capital for Christmas. "No. I'll take that as a no. Well, how about maturely calling for a compromise. You could offer my nephew Robert Petursson as a prime minister, or even for rigpa."

    Robert Petursson Viereskog. The name rang a bell. Halvbefaren looked to an unkempt man (although clean-shaven) with glasses in a black turtleneck, black jacket, and black pants who sat nervously twirling a black cane next to him. Jakob Svartursson Keiser shook his uncombed head.

    Halvbefaren turned back to the Viereskog. "Your nephew dropped out of the Capitollium and then shot the Lord Eir's son. Not exactly what I call a record to run on, Skycommander."

    "You might not think so." But the skycommander thought so. His nephew, he said, had got along well with the Kryobaijanis, with Margarethe Hjovarthursdatter Alvitr, and was a close friend of Fr. Matteus and knew G. S. Stoker quite well. Not to mention he was the skycommander's nephew. The meeting droned on.

    Quite unexpectedly, the aloof Keiser stood up and went to the window. "Goddamn it, will you look at that!" He laughed, oddly, while the two men rose to join him.

    Prime Minister Roerich and Foreign Minister Alvitr were literally walking the Franconian delegation, including the royals, from the old train station (with its iconic vaulted wooden ceiling) to the Freehold. The streets for the half-mile walk had been lined with Oelarian and Franconian flags and Christmas wreaths. Porters were taking the luggage on the little electric trucks. Long lines of Einherjar in white robes with simple black diamond insignias provided a ceremonial guard, although men in black trenchcoats with walkie-talkies on the roofs seemed to be providing the real security. Small crowds, with some men on bicycles, crammed the intersection to get a look at the fanfare.

    --

    Vandrare Vilhjálmsson Perseifur's first official act as Tjaldlungsgrave of the Hólar Farthing was to welcome the delegation through the North Gate. As the small parade came between two giant Christmas trees flanking the capital's north gate, the delegation saw the wide avenue to the Freehold, a simple but massive stone keep rising into the crisp mountain air. The street was bordered by two lines of hundreds of Einherjar armed with pikes (though with assault rifles slung over their shoulders) dressed in ceremonial uniforms, their white robes making them look almost like snowmen. Behind them were the jettied, timber-frame white houses with decorative chimneys that were on every postcard of Yungdrung Gutsak. And crowds at the intersections waving Oelarian and Franconian flags, clapping. Shouts of thanks were audible from schoolchildren whose uniforms, school supplies, and heating bills were paid with Franconian taler.

    Alvitr was walking with Robert Beaumont. "We do a little more walking here, but it does the body good. The Rigpa is very anxious to meet the Prinzregent. He has heard rumors their are 'plans afoot' for the upcoming Great Council election." Roerich gave the Franconian foriegn minister a knowing look as if to say Of course, the Rigpa doesn't realize the extent of these things!

    Roerich was walking a few paces behind them, with the royals, who were noticeably surprised by the fact that they were walking from the train station, even if they had been briefed beforehand and acquitted themselves well with mannerly politeness that was the product of centuries of breeding and a lifetime of training. "Thorlákur Feargusson was just rising when I left, and will be downstairs for the lunch we have prepared for you. He had a late night with his family celebrating the news that he is to have twin grandnephews. I expect that is why Margarethe Hjovarthursdatter's assistant, Svava Pallsdatter, didn't come along with us... She will show you around our little city after you have rested, down the broad streets of Skiringssal - where your embassy is - and down to the great university, the Capitollium in the Muspellheimr neighborhood, which is bounded by our central park, the Dyrehaven..."
     
  8. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    December 20, 2010
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    When he first learned they’d have to literally walk through Oelar’s capital city, King Alfred IV gave his Lord Chamberlain, i.e. the Royal Household’s chief operating officer, a bewildered look. Then he demonstrated his sense of humour, causing both men to burst in roaring laughters. “I guess pollution isn’t their major problem over there. What about sending some of our tree-huggers Graf Solms continuously complains about over there?”

    Whereas the King had handed over most of daily business to his son Jakob von Franken, he was very keen on accepting the Rigpa’s invitation. If he hadn’t been explicitly invited, the old monarch would have told his son to fill in for him on his own. Since Oelar had more or less avoided official contact with senior leaders of Franken, neither Prince Regent Jakob’s eponymous grandfather Jakob V had ever considered a state visit in the North. Twenty years ago, just a few years on the throne, Alfred IV would have never agreed to travel to the country which had shunned Franken in such a drastic way. Thanks to Robert Beaumont, Graf Peter Solms and many more that had changed over the last two decades.

    “You have a very picturesque capital town, Herr Premierminister. It’s something to be proud of,” the King told Roerich. Much like the men and women of the Royal Guard, who were with the royal delegation, the averagely tall Sovereign of Franken (1.79m) wore trenchcoats and a normal suit. The guards didn’t wear as expensive and high-quality attire as their top leaders, though. “It looks a lot like Nuremberg in the 19th century drawings and images, which isn’t a bad thing. At least you won’t have to worry about car accidents a lot. Meanwhile, my guards are pretty busy to ensure that no anarchist tries his luck. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to change jobs with them,” Alfred IV added. In his opinion the relationship between Oelar and Franken was one of the most curious development of recent political history. In broader historical terms it wasn't a funny development at all. Throughout the several centuries of shared histories both nations had always been entangled one way or another.

    Politics or the look of the city weren’t Queen Margarethe’s chief concern at the moment. Instead she engaged Robert Beaumont’s teenage daughter Josefine in a very entertaining conversation, who seemed somewhat frightened by the amount of people waving and cheering. To her surprise the Queen was as understanding and cordial as her own grandmother. “Ma’am, on the tv screen your appearance is so stern.”

    Josefine’s father was talking to his very own colleague Margarethe Alvitr. In the Foreign Minister’s opinion she looked stressed and worn out. Was it the lost election? Or was she about to develop some nasty illness? Robert Beaumont would have never guessed her pale complexion could have another cause. “Well, truth to be told, I’m very anxious to advice my Prince Regent on the voting. Well, technically His Majesty’s Government has no say in it, as His Royal Highness’ role here is separate from his role at home. On the one hand, Jakob von Franken is sufficiently able to make considerate decisions on his own without modest politicians’ – like myself – ramblings. On the other hand, he is very well aware that he is but a humble man and open to sensible counsel. On the train travel to Yungdrung Gutsak we discussed this and that potential coalition in the Rigpa election. Furthermore, he will treat the Rigpa’s sense of and sympathy for traditions appropriately. Pertaining to that issue there’s no need to worry.”

    “They are about to have a pair of twin sons in their family, right? Twins run in our family’s genes, too. At home I have two twin girls. I won’t forget to congratulate the Rigpa on this joyous occasion, Herr Premierminister,” Prinzregent Jakob commented, who had spent the better part of the walk chatting with his son Prince Sebastian. “Your Excellency, could I attend one or two lectures at the Capitollium or have they already begun Christmas recess? The Capitollium is one of the several institutions I take into consideration for my tertiary education,” the Erbprinz added. Besides, Sebastian von Schlesnitz was supposed to gain some basic insights into foreign politics of the realm he would take over in the long run. The prospect of meeting the Rigpa’s young niece Carla was sweetening the seemingly royal work experience a lot for Prince Sebastian. ​
     
  9. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 20, 2010
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    Above the curtain the shower-head caught glints of the sunrise pouring through the windows. Looking up into the heavy stream of water, Thorlákur remembered the phrase sun made of water which set him adrift on memories of the early years of his reign. Absentmindedly he massaged the sandalwood soap (all the way from Vangala, he once marveled) into the long white beard that reached almost to his navel. Almost to the next beard. In the shower his bones didn't feel so old. Instead, he was reminded of his age by the blood painfully, dulling throbbing through his head. I can't drink so much any more, he reminded himself. It was not a common occurrence now, at his age.

    His lips were no longer chapped with dehydration, his headache had dissipated, and his appetite (best of all) had returned by the time the Franconians walked into the great hall of the Freehold, doubly decorated for Christmas and the state visit with the splendid arms of the three - well, that would be four, because there were Knýtling banners too - clans, the Oelarian flag - snow-white with three red circles encircled in turn by the great blood-red circle - and various other arms suspended from the high rafters. The great advent wreaths adorned the four long tables and the high table as well, which Roerich had insisted must seat the King and Queen, for to sit the Prinzregent there and not his parents would be not simply bizarre (which the rigpa did not mind) but discourteous.

    When the great oaken doors were pushed shut against the cold air, Thorlákur walked down to embrace the Franconian royals and Robert Beaumont, who had been led to form a small circle around him. He had a white robe, the traditional formality, made of wolf pelt. As they had been briefed (and to everyone in Franken's relief) there were no audience protocols in Oelar. Can you imagine! The Lord Rigpa gave a curt bow to the three royals and took Beaumont in a handshake. He spoke more quietly than some might expect, given his stature and wild, almost fierce appearance. "Welcome to my home. I hope the journey was not so arduous. I expected you would not mind... ah, stretching your legs at the end of it. We have these little... How might you say... electric cars, but to my mind this is a walking city." His German was halting - it was once fluent - and had a peculiar accent, but Tagzig Nork wasn't exactly a diplomatic language and he could not be bothered with a translator.

    To my mind. A strange and wonderful mind that had similarly expressed preferences like: To my mind, I can't see the point of a mass media. This is not a mediated country. To my mind home televisions and computers make people unfriendly. To my mind a permanent government becomes only trouble. Better to have one on an as-needed basis, no?

    The barest pleasantries had been exchanged when the Rigpa remembered. "But you all must be famished! We have a traditional Tagzig lunch prepared for you, lighter fare. Margarethe Hjovarthursdatter has done the seating so I will let her conduct us..." His wink at Robert Beaumont was unmistakable. "...She has all sorts of designs in mind. She is quite the schemer."

    But in a last minute intervention - "Jakob Alfredsson, Sebastian Jakobsson, please sit here!" - Thorlákur Feargusson decided to sit himself and Jakob across from Queen Margarethe and King Alfred. "Mahlzeit." Rye bread arrived with herring, Oelarian cheeses, liver pate, and other traditional spreads. The Rigpa's German was getting more fluid with practice, but still retained its peculiar accent.

    "Young Sebastian, the Margarethe Hjovarthursdatter tells me you are looking at different universities. I have asked my nephew the Lord Provost to give you and your father a tour of the Capitollium this afternoon. If he and your father begin talking politics, you let me know. Horrible form, really. There are more important things in the world, you know. Art, I made Roerich prime minister because I quite liked his paintings..."

    It was enough to spark a lively conversation, and having faithfully discharged his duties as host to do so, the rigpa became far less loquacious.
     
  10. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    December 20, 2010
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    “Their claim they have no sense of pageantry is simply an understatement,” Prinzregent Jakob muttered. “Well, their pageantry has been stuck in the late 17th or 18th century, but you’re right, father, it looks pretty impressive,” his son Sebastian von Schlesnitz retorted smirking. Before this visit he had been aware that his own family had a proud history of several centuries. The young man, barely 19 years old, scratched his hair, which was somewhat longer than his father’s according to the latest youth hair style, and carefully inspected each and every banner of arms. In these circles banner of arms was tantamount to a business card.

    Out of boredom he had read a book about Oelarian clans on their long journey to the capital, which included a chapter about the Knýtling clan and their Oelarian roots. The latter weren’t addressed in depth in secondary education history classes. Prince Sebastian decided that he would use this visit to learn about that particular issue, too.

    Right now having read the clan book helped him identifying the individual clans by their arms. “These are the Alvitrs, those are the Gunns…”, he whispered to himself. His grandfather Alfred, who had watched his grandson’s ‘inspection’ gave him a commendatory look. What the young prince knew by heart was the meaning of the two supporters of the Knýtling banner and/or Franconian coat of arms. On the one hand the stag represented the notion of ‘faithfulness’ in the national motto, whereas the lion meant ‘fearlessness’. On the other hand, the stag was the original insignia of the House of Babenberg, which Sebastian’s eponymous ancestor Sebastian Knýtling combined with their lion badge when the Knýtlings rose to the electoral throne. ‘Furchtlos und treu’, this was the motto of their house and nation.

    Indeed, Roerich’s insisting on sitting the King and Queen on the high table had been appropriate. By virtue of royal convention and Franconian constitutional law the Prince Regent was sharing the throne with his father, who preceded his heir apparent if they appeared together at a public event. Moreover, there were a couple of decisions the Prince Regent could only perform if the King was truly inept to exercise his office. The most relevant one was the declaration of war.

    “Unfortunately I have never been to your lovely capital town, Lord Rigpa,” the King replied in a very friendly way, “Old, very old stories and issues had kept me from doing so. Thank you for having us here.” Jakob von Franken nodded on his father remark. “At home self-acclaimed fitness gurus have begun proclaiming a new age of walking in the large cities of Franken. Not to forget: Our environmentalists would love to see all city centres of our kingdom to be turned into walking centres. Some fringe groups, who don’t have a large following but know how to use social media, even propagate doing away with all cars and lorries. So your town is pretty up to date, Your Highness.” Both the senior royal and his son Jakob knew it was time to switch to the more informal patronymic addresses. Quickly glancing at each other father and son knew they would screw up the pronunciation at first. However, King Alfred sensed his much older counterpart had enough patience and humour to endure them practicing the pronunciation.

    Foreign Minister Robert Beaumont pretended not have noticed the seemingly well-tempered old man’s knowing wink. Yet he was impressed. “The old man still has some tricks up his sleeve”, he spoke under his breath. “Papa?!”, his daughter inquired. Josefine had heard her dad’s remark, who just grinned. “Forgive an old man his bad habits, dear.”

    The royal delegation devoured the food they were served first with a foreigner’s curiosity and an exhausted hiker’s hunger, then with enjoyment and delight. “Thank you, Lord Rigpa. I’ll tell you if they over-stretch talking business. Would it be possible to arrange for your niece Lady Carla accompanying us as well? I’m certain the Lord Provost will be able to answer a lot of my questions. Having someone of my own age who knows this city, the society and the educational system will help me understanding your nephew’s explanations better.” Prinzregent Jakob was impressed by his son’s arguments. For a 19-year-old young man he had managed to disguise his eagerness to finally talk to Lady Carla very carefully. It would be hard for an overly jealous and careful father to deny this modest request. Prince Sebastian beamed.
     
  11. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 20, 2010
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    "I very sincerely doubt you will find Carla Seumasdatter to be anything resembling a lady, Sebastian Jakobsson. Nonetheless I have arranged for you, my half-nephew Jens Yvosson, and your father to have a tour, and made reservations at Sally's for supper on your walk home."

    Thorlákur's joke about Carla was complicated. When her second cousin (half and once removed) Lord Provost Jens Yvosson Halvbefaren introduced the petite brown-eyed blonde, Carla Seumasdatter strikingly attractive, appropriately demure, and overall exceptionally mannerly. The latter traits came (most likely) because her father Séamus Vilhjálmsson, Yungdrung Gutsak's town doctor, was the least entangled of all the Gunns in the business of rule.

    Lord Provost Halvbefaren was arguably the most entangled in politics, which in Oelar befit a bastard son. He wore a neutral expression as he introduced his 'niece' - for the sake of parsimony - to Sebastian. "Sebastian Jakobsson, my niece Carla Seumasdatter... And my university, the Capitollium." They stood at the gates of the ancient university, with the Campanile looming high above and great snow-covered Gothic buildings. The walk from the Freehold through the very fashionable Skiringssal embassy district was among the most scenic. Even the great red ISRA banners looked apropos of Christmas alongside the wreaths adorning the old gas lampposts.

    Carla did most of the tour-guiding - she had been taking classes at the Capitollium since age 15 (not uncommon given the lack of educational standardization) - to convince Sebastian that it was the place to study the humanistic tradition of the West (but nothing else, she added out of her uncle's earshot).

    Jens Yvosson hung back with 'Jakob Alfredsson', and as the rigpa predicted, began to talk politics. "Tomorrow we will feast for Thorlákur Feargusson's birthday, and the day after the Great Council will conclave. Isleifur Christian Hjovarthursson and I have been talking about our worries about the Stokerites. Not so much Stoker, a man of letters with many sensible friends, but his followers and..." Halvbefaren narrowed his eyes. "...his, let's say, benefactors in Kryobaijan. They're quite popular, you may have noticed." The two men glanced at the ISRA banners all over the university. "But in these times, with Sarmatia rampant, even the most moderate statesmen can grant us Right-Sarkonists our fears!"
     
  12. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Yungdrung Gutsak
    December 21, 2010


    Upon overhearing Sebastian von Schlesnitz the previous day, Prime Minister Roerich stepped between the young man and his father, both gazing up at the phylocrats' banners. "More like 14th Century, I'm afraid. We never needed a revival of medievalism here. Never went away. Still hasn't!" Niels Niklausson smiled broadly.

    The next day Oelarian pageantry was on full display in the Freehold's great hall. A massive feast - lamb crown roast with a sausage stuffing - was being fed to hundreds. Dress uniforms of the Einherjar and Aircommand mingled with philosophy professors and clan lords in furs. The prime minister was once again beside the Prinzregent and his young son. "Back in the Gravplass days - the fifty-first rigpa, during the Great War, whom your great-grandfather..." Roerich looked at Sebastian with mock reproach, as if to satirize the famously long Oelarian memory for Franconian transgressions upon their national honor. "...installed in the 1930s, these events were quite a show. Vangalan tigers on leashes, topless girls from the jungles of Umbazi dancing the traditional dances of Himyar, serving girls from Jizhou. A veritable harem, all a sight, you can imagine, in poor old Olmolungring. The man was absolutely insane." Realizing what Jakob von Franken must have been thinking, Roerich laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. "But, hey, so that was just the last time the Duke of Schlesnitz came to elect a Lord Rigpa!" He leaned aside to Sebastian - who didn't seem so put off by the idea - and Carla (seated beside her new fast friend), "They had never seen blacks or Toyouans before. Thorlákur damn near thought Oelar had been invaded by aliens from Mars!"

    A more serious conversation strangely apropos of Roerich's half-drunk, lighthearted history cropped up at that point. Jakob von Franken was caught between the diffident Alvitr heir-apparent and the ambitious Halvbefaren. The Lord Provost thundered off first.

    "Do you not think, Lord Margrave..." (For this was how 'Jakob Alfredsson' had learned he would be formally titled) "...that an invasion from Sarmatia, or Toyou, or Boreas would be no different from an invasion of Mars? They have none of the values of Meridian Europe. I see those despicably greedy Belmontiens, as well as our deranged Drakunian cousins, creating inroads for the dark powers of the Orient. Who will stand for the West, Jakob Alfredsson, if not us?"

    It was, in fact (despite the lie Jens Yvosson had fed the Prinzregent the day previous) the first time Isleifur Christian Hjovarthursson Alvitr had conversed with the Lord Provost in some years. But a few glasses of Coronadan temparnillo - which roused hearty cheers all around, Alvitr's sister the foreign minister noticed - gave Christian some pluck.

    "Or, Jakob Alfredsson, don't you think Jens Yvosson exaggerates? What do we have to fear from Kryobaijan? We are no longer flanked by the Batavians. Meridian Europe, with some exceptions, is strong. The Oikawans are not Westerners, of course, and admittedly I find fault with the militarism and antihumanistic tendencies described by our ambassador there, A. T. Aethur, but they are realists. We are not under siege. Or am I wrong? Foreign Minister Beaumont, am I wrong?"

    The rigpa watched silently, knowing the supper conversation would portend more serious political discussions the next day when the Great Council convened. He had half a mind to return conversation to a civilized topic. Philosophy, art. In time he would turn to Queen Margarethe pleadingly, but not yet.
     
  13. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    December 21,
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    „They make a lovely couple, don’t they, my love?” Herzogin Franziska muttered under her breath. From what her husband had been able to observe while being beleaguered by the Lord Provost, Prinzregent Jakob was inclined to agree. There hadn’t been a commoner queen consort to this day, but it wouldn’t hurt if the future queen of Franken was down to earth and from a stable background. Aren princesses were not only hampered and pampered but also used to lavish amount of luxuries. In a nutshell, the Knýtlings’ Northern cousins were quite expensive. “Well, Franziska, I wouldn’t disagree if the two were to develop a close relationship.”

    Yesterday’s conversation with Lord Provost Halvbefaren had given the Prinzregent some food for thought, which he had discussed with Foreign Minister Robert Beaumont afterwards. They were still determined to back the Alvitrs’ cause, but Stoker’s outspoken support for the Kryobajianis almost cancelled him as a coalition partner for the Alvitrs. Unless Franconian intelligence could deliver hard evidence there was leverage to coerce Stoker into a pragmatic alliance with the Alvitrs, the Crown of Franken would have to move on from its initial ideal plan to install a sort of social-democratic coalition. “As much as I admire your grasp of classic party politics in parliamentary democracies, your royal highness, Oelar has never and will never be one. We cannot transfer our ideas of politics onto them 1:1. I’d have loved to see an Alvitr-Stoker pact, yet the Kryobaijanis obviously offered better arguments. My advice is to keep on backing the Alvitrs and help or convince to find partners on an as-needed-basis,” Foreign Minister Robert Beaumont had ended yesterday’s late night conversation, which had been accompanied by fine Oelarian whisky.

    “Lord Provost, throughout the many centuries of shared history, Franken and Oelar have learned that they can benefit from each other unless one partner doesn’t excessively exploit the other one. I agree that we have to continue to pay attention to international development. If a country only understands the language of violence and trickiness, Franken won’t hesitate to answer in kind. And rest assured, Franken will recognize those Oelarian leaders who want to keep their country free and stable as the bulwark of Scano-Germania. Your contributions won’t remain unrewarded,” the Prinzregent calmly responded to Halvbefaren’s energetically delivered statement. Jakob von Franken was sure the ambitious roughneck got the message. They wouldn’t try to tie Halvbefaren’s faction permanently but rather convince them to help the Alvitrs on demand.

    “Mylord Margrave, one of the many famous quotes of the father of modern Franken, Graf Maximilian von Montgelas is ‘Politics isn’t an exact science’. Therefore, the correct answer to your question would be yes and no. Yes, you are wrong: We have our own fair share of crises. Franken and her partners certainly don’t indulge in aggressive militarism. Instead we see two theatres where diplomacy and politics have failed since mal-willing forces are at work, which consider the exclusive use of sword more profitable than the use of the word combined with the threat of using the sword.

    In Belmont this process is more hush-hush and covert, as they have to observe the rules of procedure of a parliamentary democracy. Ironically it’s very likely they somehow believe in what they are claiming – the attack on Coronado is justified and serving the greater good. Don’t they know the saying of the old ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions?’ Excessive idealism is as worse as excessive cynicism. And the worst version of idealism is well-meaning idealism as found in Belmont. Their move against Coronado will have some negative impact on any citizen of Germania and Scania, as the markets have and will respond nervously or even negatively to the war’s development. Thus Belmont’s good intentions will have a couple of negative implications on humble and law-abiding Scano-Germanian citizens.

    The second theatre is Drakun, whose blatant aggressive rhetoric and display of militarism shows us they have little respect for the civilized way of diplomacy and international exchange. Without respect for their fellow neighbours they pursue their goals.

    As responsible and sensible leaders we have to stay ready and prepared to fend off those mal-willing forces to protect our peoples as efficiently as possible,” Foreign Minister Robert Beaumont told his counterpart using a very mellow voice lest he subtly intimidated the intellectual and bookworm Lord Christian Alvitr. However, it was a given that his sister grasped her Franconian colleague had deliberately overemphasized the description of Belmont and Drakun in order to make military activity against those forces seem more acceptable to the peaceloving clan lord.

    While his father was deeply involved in politics, Sebastian von Schlesnitz continued to be mesmerized by Lady Carla. Compared to his fellow senior year classmates at his grammar school she was so attractive and yet so very normal and down to earth. This combination was rare, the Erbprinz was aware of that. At home he had either nice wallflowers or very sexy girls who were too drunk from their own beauty for their own good and often dumb. Thus his first few girlfriends had been from the nerd girls. “Sebastian, your father and grandfather look quite dashing in their uniforms. Your suit looks quite good, but a uniform would look even better on you!” Carla’s bold grin told Erbprinz Sebastian she just wanted to tease him. “After my studies, after my studies, Carla. I’m really not looking forward to my training as naval officer. I do wonder whether one of my many forebears got easily sea-sick as well.” “Well, Sebastian, I think a nice touch of green will make the naval uniforms of Franken look even better. You could become a fashion role-model,” she finished her amiable teasing.
     
  14. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 22, 2010
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    In the last day of their three-day visit, the Franconians began to see for themselves how the Oelarians viewed geopolitics. Part naïveté, part deliberate nonconformity with the 'degenerate' late-modern liberal educated mainstream of Meridian Europe, the Oelarian weltanschauung is a siege mentality. Reduced to marginal, tired post-Christian societies on the littorals of the Fisherman's Sea, Western Christian civilization was under threat from the great military powers of the East, Sarmatia and Toyou. And though Franken was the principal Christian power, the Oelarians knew well that the 'progressive', 'liberal', 'tolerant', 'pluralist' opinio communis was that the West did not need defenders. And so Belmont was the next Western nation to fall into the vice-grip of the East. Could the 'progressive' mentality withstand the coming invasions?

    By the time the great oaken-doors of the Freehold were shut and barred by two specially-trained deaf mutes to convene the Great Council, Jakob von Franken had no illusions about the tribesmen, philosophers, priests, and artists he was locked in with. They sat around a great oak table in a C-shape, with Thorlákur standing in the middle. Seated around were the thirteen members of the Great Council.

    On the rigpa's far right, almost behind him, was Lord Bishop Zebulon of Karlljón, his bald spot covered by a purple zucchetto, a gentle-looking old man with a white beard (not so long as Thorlákur's) and glasses. Beside Zebulon sat his stolid clerical rival, another white-beard who looked even wilder than the Lord Rigpa in his long roughspun grey robes. His purple zucchetto looked less like it befit him. The éminence grise was the Lord Abbot Mimir, nameless except for the name of his abbey.

    Then came the first of the named peers, Lord Provost Jens Yvosson Halvbefaren, who sat uneasily, watchfully, and wore a modern-looking dark suit under ceremonial academic robes, and kept his brown beard - beginning to show flecks of gray - neatly trimmed.

    Then the four Lord Margraves: Jakob Alfredsson Knýtling, the timid Hjovarthur Einarsson Alvitr, the moustached ore magnate and former skycommander Sigvarthur Sigvarthursson Eir - who still wore black to mourn his son Terje - and the expectant father Pall Yvosson Gunn.

    After the seven life peers came the six elected lords. The first four were from Yungdrung Gutsak: the two intersectionalist Burgraves, a balding clean-shaven man with a sickly complexion and glasses named Stefan Jakkesson Hvít, and a more distinguished looking white-haired man with a van dyke and impeccable comb-over, Alasdair Jónstyrsson Sýmeon. Then the two Tjaldlungraves, the clean-shaven but otherwise common-looking acclaimed novelist Vandrare Vilhjálmsson Perseifur and the vandyked prime minister, Niels Niklausson Roerich.

    Finally, on the far left of the rigpa, sat Lord Reeve of Issverth, Gustav Ludvigsson Skjolden (with a white-beard opposite the priests, for symmetry) and the new, Lord Reeve of Knýtlingsfort, Gregor Samsonsson Stoker.

    Thorlákur's piercing blue eyes looked around the semicircular table with a certain ferocity. "There is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. St. Paul does not know the State, but he knows that every People is born subject to powers, and that the powers that be are humbled by the victory of Christ. Christ Alone is King, and to rule as his representative is the highest of responsibilities. To represent God as a man, not the State but as one above the State. This is why we select a Rigpa, the "binder-to", the one who binds the promise of our People to God, and God's promise to our people. Our Moses. None of you, not even the whitebeards, have been to a conclave of the Great Council before. We have not had a convention in many years. And so there must be reminders. We are not here for political intrigue or to wrangle for power. We are here to look inside our hearts and ask God Almighty who He would have lead our People and stand above the Republic."

    The admonition was not unexpected, but Halvbefaren and the intersectionalists did look quite uncomfortable, and Lord Alvitr looked pointedly to his right at Bishop Zebulon. Then came the spoken nominations.

    Immediately, Tjaldlungsgrave Perseifur nominated Lord Provost Halvbefaren, whom he cryptically described as "the only man prepared to lead our People against the threats of the East". Too prepared thought Thorlákur, but he only nodded. Burgrave Sýmeon stood, unnecessarily, and began to read a short typed endorsement of Lord Reeve Stoker. The rigpa interrupted - "That is unnecessary, Alasdair Jónstyrsson, but thank you" - and the intersectionalist leader fell silent. Thorlákur turned to Bishop Zebulon, who nodded and said, "Isleifur Christian Hjovarthursson Alvitr". Thorlákur nodded. "Very well. I counsel no man to forget my friend Niels Niklausson, which makes four."

    There was some silence, since most of the newspapers and weblogs had only predicted the three frontrunners - not Roerich - and nobody quite realized that Thorlákur Feargusson could nominate a candidate. Could the rigpa vote, too? Would he? It was not as if he would be challenged... The Lord Rigpa looked up, nodding, as if to close nominations. But Halvbefaren interjected. "I am honored by Vandrare Vilhjálmsson's nomination and accept, indeed refusals are not permissible. But I would like to submit one more nomination, for Robert Petursson Viereskog, who tragically slew our brother Terje Sigvarthursson Eir..." Eyes turned, two by two, towards Lord Eir. "...I mean no disrespect, Lord Councilors, far from it, I realize as does Sigvarthur Sigvarthursson that it is said in this country one grows old with tragedy."

    The rigpa raised an eyebrow. The acting skycommander's nephew? A gambit of some sort, perhaps? He wouldn't put it past Jens Yvosson.

    The deliberations stretched on. Jakob von Franken had studied extensively, but still there were dizzying matters of tithe-barns and the status of the Lost Clan Aethr, fishing rights and positively-barbaric sounding 'hostage settlements' as insurance to guarantee pacts. It became clear that the two clerics had a deep-seated rivalry intensified by the Lord Abbot's new control of schools and hospitals in Knýtlingsfort, which was a sore spot with the pleading poet, Stoker. What also became clear was the intersectionalists' unwillingness to extend state powers over unwilling citizens - philosophically, Sýmeon was a bona fide anarchist - a point of agreement with the conservatives. Surprisingly, none were particularly theocratic - a bias the Franconian prince had to shed - and none wanted a Christian State as the bulwark of the West. More absurdly, it seemed to Jakob von Franken after four confusing hours, each and every one of them saw themselves as that bulwark of Christianity against the others, who threatened the True Faith by overlooking an absurd list of external threats - Belmont, Drakun, Greater Sarmatia, Kryobaijan, Oikawa, Batavië, and sheepishly (the Lord Abbot bellowed it, Halvbefaren said it, Roerich admitted it somewhat, Sýmeon confirmed it...) Franken - or by trying to impose Christendom at home. The elder Gravplass, evidently - the philosopher Soren Michaelsson, not the dictator Ulf Vidkunsson - had destroyed the possibility of a theocracy in Oelar for the ages.

    The sun began to set outside. Jakob von Franken's tired ears were having trouble when the vociferous debates relapsed into more colloquial Tagzig Norsk dialect, despite the formal language's similarities to Aren Norsk. What he did understand was that just as one article he had read predicted, most of the I.C.H. Alvitr supporters (except Roerich) had been frightened by Stoker and fell behind Halvbefaren. Stoker and Halvbefaren stood at a 6-6 tie. Jakob would have to break it, or suggest a compromise, both of which would set off a great deal of wrangling for the prime minister position, hostages, tithe-barns, &c. But essentially the choice of the next Lord Rigpa had fallen to the Franconian.

    Thorlákur looked at him pointedly. Choose wisely, son. "The time has come, I think, for a short recess. I shall have the balconies and the roof opened so Sigvarthur Sigvarthursson can have a smoke."

    The Lord Rigpa took Jakob von Franken by the shoulder and lead him to the privacy afforded by a window. A glare sufficed to keep Halvbefaren at bay, and Stoker did not even think twice about crossing the room. Once he was assured they were quite alone, Thorlákur smiled. "I am not going to let the vultures get to you, Jakob Alfredsson. But be wary. This will increase worries that Franken has an iron grip on Oelar. You acquit yourself well speaking, but you cannot spend the rest of your life making the case for your good intentions to suspicious clansmen and priests. Besides, if you came from a small country, you would better understand how real these fears are, how much Franken quite unintentionally controls our markets and foreign policy, things these men must be aware of. It may prove yet another royal duty that you recommend young Sebastian Jakobsson to come here to study. The practice of hostage-taking as guarantors of our rivals' honor and displays of our friends' trust is still common here, as you have heard."

    He turned back towards the other twelve men milling around the semicircular table, speaking in soft voices. "Don't worry about your choice, Jakob Alfredsson. Jens Yvosson and Gregor Samsonsson are both good men. You might be able to broker a compromise candidate and see Niels Niklausson or Isleifur Christian Hjovarthursson take the black-diamond staff from me. But remember you will have to keep both the Stokerites and my... admittedly somewhat impetuous half-nephew contented. The job of rigpa, fortunately, has a serenading effect."
     
  15. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    December 22, 2010
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    “For what it’s worth, Mylord Rigpa, this whole procedure reminds me of my ancestor Heinrich IV’s 15th century account of Franken’s court and system of government called the Vom kurfürstlichen Hofe zu Franken[/b]. Did you happen to read it? Before today I didn’t realize my ancestors have held two electorates during my house’s history. Anyway, thank you for offering me this advice,” Prinzregent Jakob retorted, almost tempted to add that he would have brought the old electoral outfit if he had known the procedure beforehand. Being a kind man he didn’t add it, as that thought was caused by his tiredness. Indeed, he was worn out from the endless debates, some of which he had been able to understand. But only now his time to act had come. “You will understand Sebastian will choose his future university based on a variety of factors. If he came to the Capitollium, an appropriately sized entourage would come with him,” Prinzregent Jakob insinuated he had very understood the message. With the sympathy Sebastian was feeling for Lady Carla it shouldn’t be too difficult.

    Determinedly the Franconian lord joined Lord Provost Halvbefaren on one of the balconies. “Jens Yvosson, I believe we have to talk business. “ After several hours of debate the Prince Regent figured none of the council members would enjoy diplomatic chit-chat before tackling pure business. Using as polite and descriptive terms as possible Jakob von Franken explained his country’s (or was it his house’s?) compromise demands: Foreign Minister Alvitr as foreign minister, her brother as the Rigpa and Halvbefaren as the prime minister. “Lord Christian is a peace-loving man, who will allow you to live up to your ambitions in your role as prime minister. You will be as good as a vice-rigpa but without the religious and ceremonial implications.” Bearing in mind the old tradition of hostage-taking – he would never use that word – Prinzregent Jakob didn’t fail to drop a casual remark on how well an impression the Capitollium made on his son.

    In a very similar manner he approached Stoker. From the foreign policy dossier about Stoker the Prince Regent recalled “Stoker’s strong identification with socialist ideals. His exposure to the impact of exercising power hasn’t been large enough to convince him of the virtue of compromise.” Whether a few months of regional government had sobered Stoker Jakob von Franken wasn’t sure. Either the sum he had been offered before the Knýtlingfort election had been too low or he was true to his ideas. “Gregor Samsonson, considering the current situation I believe niceties would be a waste of time, but let me say this: I’m delighted to meet you at last. Now to the wee business proposal I have brought.” The Prince Regent didn’t forget to remind Stoker that he could a lot for “the people” if he took over the prime ministerial office under an “aloof” Rigpa Alvitr. Jakob von Franken also pointed out they wouldn’t press him to give up his present office which entitled him to a seat on this council.

    While both leaders were pondering the Franconian Crown Prince’s offers, he returned to the Rigpa, who had watched Prinzregent Jakob’s way discreetly. He was received with a lenient smile. Jakob was almost certain this apparently gentle and mellow old man, whose long white beard supported this impression, would scold him for indulging in petty politics. But there was something else on the Prince Regent’s mind. “Am I a bad father? I did it, I implicitly offered my son as a hostage. This seems so unreal. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Emperor Heinrich V suddenly walked around the corner,” Jakob muttered under his breath. A surprisingly firm pat on the shoulder made him look right into the Rigpa’s eyes. “You are tired, Jakob Alfredson. You are in the here and now, not at court of your honourable ancestor, who gave Oelar de-facto home-rule in the middle of the 15th century to focus on the imperial crown. What you do is what is necessary.”
     
  16. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 22, 2010
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    "I do not despise politics, Jakob Alfredsson, but there is a place and time for it. On the bright side, it is a small locked place and a very rare time here. On the other hand, you will soon, I think, come to sympathize with my disdain for the practice." Thorlákur smiled, a hint of tiredness behind his smile.

    Around them, the arguments were continuing more intensely now. The theretofore silent Jakob von Franken had made an unforeseen power move. Instead of securing Isleifur Christian as the prime minister under his second choice - whether Stoker or Halvbefaren, both one vote away from a majority - he resolutely cast a ballot for the Alvitr scion. Lord Alvitr and the Bishop smiled, re-energized, and joined him, as did Roerich. The expected 4-4-5 stalemate set in again. Lord Eir and Lord Reeve Skjolden of Issverth might waver in Stoker's fragile camp of five, but their defection would still only give Halvbefaren or Alvitr six votes. And so, despite Jakob Alfredsson's quiet backroom diplomacy, the three cliques set in their heels. Oelar only elected its leader once in decades, and one faction - everyone realized - would go away with nothing.

    Putting Alvitr's candidacy back into play, Jakob von Franken had ensured it would be a long night.

    The wrangling continued. Maybe the Stokerites would support Alvitr (or Halvbefaren) if the Bishop (or Abbot) relinquished the tithe-barns of Knýtlingsfort. Maybe the Halvbefaren faction would accept the Government - prime minister and foreign minister, Jens Yvosson said staring hard at Jakob von Franken - in exchange for supporting Alvitr. Maybe the Bishop would support Halvbefaren if Knýtlingsfort transitioned away from the Abbacy's control more quickly. Everyone worried Roerich did not have firm enough power base to be an effective compromise candidate. R. P. Viereskog was occasionally mentioned, mysteriously, as everyone's second choice. Nobody was quite sure, though, whether this was a bluff, and there were concerns that "everyone's friend" carried the faint scent of his uncle, the Skycommander, and military rule.

    The assembled lords would occasionally look to the Lord Rigpa for guidance, as they were accustomed to do. Thorlákur was half-asleep, deep in thought. Cards, as they said, were up his fur-lined sleeves. Was there any other way? Gregor Samsonsson was too deep with the Reds, Jens Yvosson had too much ambition to be widely respected, and Isleifur Christian Hjovarthursson perhaps had too little. Theodor Pallsson is three years old. Could it be right to force the Doom upon someone so young?

    With what sounded like a tacit promise of Sebastian Jakobsson's study at the Capitollium, which in turn sounded like a guarantee of Franken's word, the three factions began treating Jakob von Franken as the most powerful lordly party. That of course entailed some more naked enmity, such as when V. V. Perseifur sneeringly suggested they simply elect Jakob von Franken, which was shouted down by all but the pro-Alvitr camp, but perhaps not least by the Franconian prinzregent himself.

    As it began to near midnight, and the two deaf-mutes brought bread and water (per tradition), Thorlákur rose. "Lord Councilors, as you know our Doom stipulates that the Great Council may not break conclave until we have a new rigpa. Blessedly, this does not apply to the sitting Lord Rigpa. I shall go for a walk to take the night air and perhaps a stiff dram. If there are no settlements of these disputes when I come back, I shall return not long after midnight with a mind to resolve them for good. There is precedent."

    He glanced at Jakob as he left the room. Poor man. Accustomed an automatic position of influence and surrounded by prudent, rational decision-makers his whole life, he had probably thought he had a deal worked out to bring Isleifur Chrisitan to the throne. Not yet, at least. He would learn some disdain.
     
  17. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    December 22
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    “That was one of the many reasons why my father handed over the office of Prince Regent to me. If you defined ‘soon’ as my late sixties, I’ll hand over the gruntwork of being Franken’s most prominent leadership figure to Sebastian by then,” Jakob von Franken smiled shyly, as he felt his confidence and strength slowly recover; as far as it was possible after spending countless hours locked in a small room.

    Calmly listening to the various arguments and semi-subtle threats the Prince Regent tried to figure out a way to go. When the Rigpa left the room, Jakob caught his glance. Showing a very slight bow towards the outgoing figurehead of Oelar, he wanted to convey two facts to the Rigpa. Firstly, Jakob Knýtling wasn’t done yet. Secondly, he would proof that the Knýtlings hadn’t forgot the tricks and schemes of old. Looking even more serene than before, the Rigpa nodded and finally left the room.

    With almost grim resolve Jakob von Franken turned his attention to the lords of Oelar. While history books tended to neglect these aspects, the Prinzregent was pretty sure his ancestors, who had worn the electoral coronet of the Holy Germanic Empire, had faced the very same challenges and horse trading pacts. Here he was, wearing an invisible electoral cap of his own. It was exactly the same thought like the Rigpa had about Halvbefaren that compelled the Prince Regent to prevent him from taking the throne itself. Jens Yvosson’s ambition would compromise his rule as a Rigpa. There was so much to be learned about Oelar, but Jakob von Franken was very certain a too trigger happy Rigpa would be too much of a change and threaten regional stability. Isleifur Christian Hjovarthursson was just about right, unless, of course, the second round of procuring a majority for Alvitr failed, too. The Prince Regent didn’t want to play that card instantly, though.

    Sometime before the Rigpa’s recession the Prince Regent brushed off Perseifur’s jeering with courteous royal demeanour. “Jens Yvosson, wouldn’t there be a way to quench your justified thirst for a fair share in power with the Transport Ministry? Doesn’t it carry out the role of a defence and interior ministry?” His gut feeling told Jakob Knýtling not to approach the Mimir Abbot, who looked as if he had an autonomous scheme of his own. On the one hand, the Crown Prince wasn’t sure whether he wanted to have him carve a feudal holding right next door to Franken. On the other hand, having a powerful cleric there would keep the Stokerites busy and giving Zebulon the Knýtlingsfort would keep the Bishop busy with both the reds and the abbacy. “Lord Bishop -”, Prince Regent Jakob amiably inquired, “- will you able to face ‘challenges’ from two sides if you were to receive Knýtlingsfort?”
     
  18. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 22
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    In arguments that grew less restrained and more raucous in Thorlákur's absence, Jakob von Franken came to a frightening realization - gleaned from Halvbefaren's brusquely dismissive hand-wave - that the conservative faction already controlled the military. Even more worryingly, the Lord Provost hinted about the "real dangers" of a military coup. Zebulon of Karlljón was a more pliable partner, but the bishop was already part of the Alvitr faction. Even so, the Diocese pushing Order of the Swordbrethren Mimir out of Knýtlingsfort would be something for the Stokerites, especially plus a few tithe-barns and the Transport Ministry. But suddenly the more timid members of Isleifur's faction, his father Lord Hjovarthur and Prime Minister Roerich in particular - and even perhaps Jakob himself - were worried about Halvbefaren and the most heavily-armed faction. When Thorlákur died, what would the Skycommand do? What would the Gunn militias do? What would the Campanile do? The horizon of civil war loomed in a deep red distance.

    Halvbefaren and the ancient Mimir repeatedly exchanged hard glances, their faces clenched and their eyes burning. Hvít and Sýmeon were muttering to each other darkly.

    And so it was on the verge of an Alvitr victory - but a possibly phyrric one - that Thorlákur Feargusson reentered the stone tower room with the great semicircular table. "Jakob Alfredsson." He put a hand on the Prinzregent's shoulder and whispered something in his ear.

    Conveniently the Franconian party was staying in the lower levels of the Freehold, in the spacious guest wing generally reserved for the clan lords. The Lord Rigpa had not wanted to do this - even as a last resort - but had no choice. Two Einherjar men, tall and silent, followed him, passing suddenly alert strange security men in dark suits - Franconians. As he expected, he found a very professional Robert Beaumont awake and awaiting the results of the election. The foreign minister looked surprised to see him.

    "You have put Josefine to bed, Robert? A lovely girl, truly. Needs her beauty sleep."

    Beaumont was bursting with ten thousand questions he was too deeply politic to ask, not least of which was What the hell are you doing here? Instead he managed, "Are the lords still deliberating, Lord Thorlákur?"

    The rigpa sat and motioned for Beaumont to do the same, and produced a bottle of whisky labeled Ábótisfjord 12. Thorlákur had grown to like Jakob Alfredsson a little bit, but he was still wary of the Franconians. Rumor had it this Beaumont man was going through a divorce. A Christian having a divorce! At first he seemed not to have heard the question, pouring two glasses. "A night cap, Robert. You can imagine how uncomfortable I am coming to you, but, alas, deliberating is not the word I would use. Squabbling is more like it. But I have listened and Jakob Alfredsson speaks well. Isleifur Christian Hjovarthursson is the only man fit to be rigpa. I know this in my heart, now, as well. Christian is not the same as his sister Margarethe Hjovarthursdatter or my niece Sváva Pallsdatter. Yours is a generation of many dangers, but he is a wise and good man of this generation."

    Beaumont raised his eyebrows.

    "Nonetheless the Alvitrs are in no position to hold onto power. Unlike the Eirs or we Gunns, and unlike the radicals behind Stoker, they are not prepared for war. And you realize, as I do, the perils of Franconian interventionism. It is clear to me I have one last task as Rigpa. I do not know how it works, but you may want to wake the King."

    With the advantage of being the only person in the universe who truly understood the Doom, Oelar's byzantine and partially oral common law, Thorlákur Feargusson outlined his plan to name his three-year-old great-nephew, Theodor Pallsson, as his successor and make Isleifur Christian the lord regent. But - his eyes flashed - "As I will remain Lord Rigpa, I will convene the Great Council after strengthening Christian and dealing with my half-nephew Jens."

    "The problem I foresee is more fighting in Oberschlesnitz. Mimir, my nameless friend, is indeed a friend of mine, but he may not last another winter after this strenuous journey here and back to his abbey. And there are some, I worry - Rikarthur Gregorsson Geijer, the vicar, Matteus, Jens Yvosson Halvbefaren, the Cornavians - who would create a crisis simply to discredit the Alvitrs and Bishop Zebulon... and not just the more worrisome Alvitrs, but the good men like Christian Hjovarthursson and. And there are some who grow impatient with Gregor Samsonsson Stoker, even now... I worry."

    Thorlákur took a sip of the whisky and pulled his fur collar higher. "So I will see Isleifur enthroned in the years to come. But there will be work to do. And Franken will need to be ready to assist us and remember ancient promises if there is trouble again in the borderlands. Or I fear a greater conflagration will spread..."

    He finished his dram.

    "What shall I tell Jakob Alfredsson when I walk up the iron stairs for the last time?"
     
  19. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 23
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    At almost four o'clock - the sun would not be up for another three hours, at least - Christian put his wire-frame eyeglasses and, from the balcony of his father's townhouse, saw the lights on the top of the Freehold still on. To the east over snow-covered slate roofs, the Campanile was dark. The lords must still be in conclave. Jesus Christ. Or else the Lord Provost, who was well-known to be nearly nocturnal, would be in his study lights on, in the other great stone tower that rose amid the verdigris patination of the lesser copper-plated spires.

    Isleifur Christian Hjovarthursson Alvitr was not feeling quite like becoming rigpa. He scarcely dared to think his secret prayer. You have no choice in the matter, Chris. That's what his father would say. His father hadn't wanted to be rigpa, either.

    The gurgle and drip of the coffee pot told him that his sister, not usually an early riser, was also awake. He spoke, knowing she would be slinking up behind him, silently, in her slippers, sleepless worrying about the result in the Great Council. Where she thinks she should be. Margarethe had seemed depressed after losing her Council seat to S. J. Hvít.

    "Sister, do you think your Franconians are swaying them for me? Do you think our father is doing it for me? Why is it the sad, ponderous men that seem eager to rally around their most miserable scion? Why not give Jens Yvosson or Alasdair Jónstyrsson... or you... the people that really want it power?"

    In the middle of his little monologue - because so many Oelarians seemed to speak in monologues in stationary locations, like a theater-play rather than a motion picture - Margarethe Hjovarthursdatter had lain her head on his shoulder.

    "It's not the philosopher king in the wilderness anymore, Christian, the priestly prince with his loyal comitatus riding into battle against every ripple of change in the world. Thorlákur is the last of a dying breed, Brother. There will be no more rigpas, no matter who gets elected. Not even you..."

    Christian stared blankly into the dark. Margo had never said anything remotely nostalgic when it came to politics, nor expressed any respect for Lord Thorlákur in any but blithe half-irony.

    "...and as for me, I want no more part of the mysterious world of men and their affairs. Even wanting to change it, to destroy that world, is to succumb to the allure, you see? I need to 'wake up and live in a new world', like Bishop Zebulon told you when you left the seminary for Mariann."

    Silence.

    "Just do me one favor, Brother, if companies of Einherjar are at your beck tomorrow..." Her tone was not exactly icy - Margarethe could sound a chilling pitch, a perfect witch, when she wanted to - but it seemed to be a cold, dead, atonal voice, like the apian drone of a telephone dial tone. "...I want Rikarthur Gregorsson Geijer to stand trial before you, and I want you to have his head cut off."
     
  20. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 22-23
    Yungdrung Gutsak


    "You want what?" Lord Alvitr, who had appeared variously tired, bored, and worried, looked across the table in disbelief. The side-conversations around the room died down as the Lord Councilors strained to hear Stoker's whispering. Gregor Samsonsson had one final condition, and one opportunity to list it. "I want your blessing, Lord Hjovarthur, to court your daughter and ask Margarethe Hjovarthursdatter to marry me."

    The handshake witnessed from across the room by Jakob von Franken between Stoker and Bishop Zebulon confirmed that ISRA would get Fr. Matteus removed (which he would have to explain to his friend, but not his party), all of the Mimir's warrior-monks out of Knýtlingsfort, 1/3rd of the Knýtlingsfort tithe-barns for 10 years, a public-private commission to oversee the city's schools and hospitals, and most importantly the Transport Ministry. So it was a surprise there was one more condition, especially this request to date the Salome who had (unbeknown to him) just asked for the head of his old friend Rikarthur Gregorsson. Lord Alvitr agreed. Stoker nodded tiredly. Had be betrayed his friend Matteus? Would the intersectionalist see him as a sell-out who short-changed their cause for a woman, when it all came out? The politics of the compromise were complex but uniformly parasitic upon friendship.

    While Stoker worried about his energized movement turning upon him and his leadership, Lord Alvitr ambled shyly towards an angry-looking Jens Yvosson Halvbefaren with what he thought was good news - "Lord Provost, in return for your support of my son, we would be pleased to name you or Robert Petursson Viereskog or one of the Gunns prime minister". But he was met with a deep sigh of frustration and a shrug of resignation. This man is a megalomaniac. Hjovarthur had half a mind to confide this in Bishop Zebulon, but thought better of it. And he hoped the Sarkonist right-wing would be placated, or at least the Aircommand pried away from Lord Provost Halvbefaren this way. Or else there will be civil war.
     

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