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Snippet #14

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Snippet #14
Post by runsforcelery   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:36 am

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2296
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

.II.
Sai-kau–Jai-hu High Road,
Tiegelkamp Province,
and
Emperor Zhyou-Zhwo’s Palace,
City of Yu-kwau,
and
St. Lerys Foundry,
Kyznetzov Province,
Empire of Harchong.


“No! Please— no!” the richly dressed young woman screamed as the door was torn from her frantic hands and the snarling mob dragged her through it. “Poppa! Poppa!

Syuhwei!” Her mother clung to her, frantically trying to pull her back into the coach. “Syuhwei! Do something, Manzhwo!”

Her husband’s eyes were wide, desperate. His head twisted around as he somehow managed to hold the opposite coach door closed, but it was clearly only a matter of time—and not much of it—before that door, too, was wrenched from its hinges.

Poppa!” His daughter’s scream filled his ears as she was ripped from her mother’s grasp, vanished into the surging tide of bodies crashing about the coach. He heard the matching shrieks from the coachload of servants behind them, but they meant nothing compared to that beloved voice. He cursed the cowardly coachmen and outriders who’d abandoned them, taken to their heels the instant the howling mob boiled out of the scrub wood to either side. If the bastards had stood and fought instead of running—! Not that it had done them any good, in the end.

He darted one last look back out the window on his side, then whipped the dagger from his belt.

Manzhwo!” his wife screamed, looking after her daughter, bracing herself against the frame of the door as more hands reached through it for her.

She never saw him coming, never realized what was happening until his dagger slashed across her throat, severing her jugular. Her blood sprayed her assailants, soaking them. One or two paused, pawing at their eyes—to clear their vision, not in horror—and her husband threw her dying body from the door. She hit the hard-paved roadway, gurgling and choking as she died, and he flung himself into the brief opening her twitching corpse had forced in the mob of howling savages. He landed on her back and lunged forward, not letting himself think about the horrible softness under his feet, not letting himself think about anything but his need to reach his daughter. Not to save her, because he couldn’t—not any more than he’d been able to save his wife. But if he could just reach her side before they pulled him down—

Poppa!” the seventeen-year-old girl shrieked as her winter cloak was ripped away, her gown was torn to shreds. Her chemise followed and her captors bellowed in triumph as her naked body twisted and fought.

Her father’s only weapon was his dagger. He managed to wound two of the attackers, but then someone tackled him from behind and he crashed to the paving. He fought frantically, and they laughed at him. He lurched back to his feet somehow, but someone wrestled the dagger from his hand. A peasant’s rough boot kicked him in the belly. He went down, coughing and gagging, and they wrenched him up again.

Poppa!

Hard calloused hands twisted his arms up behind him, arching his spine, and another hand tangled in his elegantly groomed hair. It wrenched his head back, and they turned him, facing him towards his daughter as she was flung to the icy ground, her limbs pinned, her legs spread wide.

Please!” he begged. “Sweet Langhorne, please! Do whatever you want with me, but please —!”

The fist smashed into his mouth, hard enough to knock out teeth.

“Shut up and enjoy the show,” an ugly voice snarled. “We sure as hell will!”

And they laughed at him while his daughter’s screams filled his ears.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Shit,” Zhouhan Husan said softly as he and Tangwyn Syngpu drew rein. He gazed down at the naked, brutalized body. From the looks of things, she’d taken a long time dying, but at least someone had simply cut her throat when they were done raping her. The man impaled on the carriage’s wagon tongue—husband or father, it was impossible to judge his age from the state of his savagely mutilated body—had been less fortunate. Almost a dozen other stiff, broken bodies, two-thirds of them women, lay twisted and already frozen around the second coach.

“Stupid bastard,” Syngpu growled, glaring fire-eyed at the dead man. “You stupid, stupid bastard! Trying to outrun them in a Shan-wei–damned coach?

He had a point, Husan acknowledged. The two passenger coaches were—or had been, before they were looted, overturned, and burned—huge, lumbering vehicles. The lead coach, especially, had been a luxurious vehicle, designed for comfort and opulence, not speed, and they’d used a third one to haul furniture and what looked like tapestries with them! They’d had horses in the traces, not dragons, probably in an effort to get at least a little more speed out of the things, but what kind of idiot—?

They’d have had a much better chance of escaping if they’d put saddles on the damned horses, instead of harness. Not a good chance, but a better one. Even a noble should have been able to figure that out!

Husan glanced sidelong at his friend. He knew who Syngpu was truly angry with, and it wasn’t the slaughtered nobleman and his family. It wasn’t even the vengeance-maddened serfs and peasants who’d descended into a viciousness worse than any rabid animal’s.

Not really.

“Not our fault,” he said quietly. “Not your fault.”

“No?” Syngpu looked at him. “It was somebody else set those woods on fire? Put all this—” he jabbed a thumb over his shoulder at the long column of rifle-armed men marching down the high road behind them “—together?”

“It was going to happen,” Husan said. “It was only a matter of time. And if you hadn’t—if we hadn’t—started it when we did, all those rifles and anything else they had time to build would’ve been on the other side. And then more of our people would’ve gotten killed and it wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

“Whoever did this aren’t ‘our people,’ Zhouhan!” Syngpu snapped. “And if I catch up with them, I’ll make that point what you might call clear.”

Husan only nodded. The chance of their catching up with the marauders responsible for the trail of carnage they’d been following for the last day or so were no more than even. They had to try, but even if they did catch them, even if they shot or hanged every single one of them, it wouldn’t really change anything. Not in central North Harchong, anyway.

Damned well might make us feel a little better, though, he acknowledged, and reached across to squeeze Syngpu’s shoulder. He couldn’t be sure, but he doubted the butchered young woman sprawled like so much discarded meat on the high road’s shoulder was more than a year older—if that—than Syngpu’s daughter Pauyin. And some of the violated bodies they’d passed had been much younger than that.

“Sergeant Tsau!” he said, still looking down at her, his hand still on Syngpu’s shoulder.

“Yes, Sir?”

It still felt unnatural to be addressed as if he were an officer, but Husan supposed that was what he was now.

“Burial detail,” he said. “I know the ground’s frozen. See if there’s enough left of the carriages to burn ’em. If not—”

He waved a hand at the scrubby evergreens fringing the right of way, and Tsau nodded.

“And if anyone wants to say a few words, probably wouldn’t hurt,” Husan added quietly.

* * * * * * * * * *

It was very quiet in the council chamber. Not a restful quiet, but a tense, singing silence in which eyes were careful not to make contact with one another. It lingered, growing ever more intense . . . then shattered as Emperor Zhyou-Zhwo’s palm slammed down on the polished tabletop.

“Do none of you have anything to say, My Lords?” the emperor snarled. Unlike every other set of eyes, his swept the table, hot with anger, and more than one of his councilors looked away from that fiery glare.

“I see you don’t.” The emperor sat back in his ornate near-throne of a chair, gripping the armrests hard enough his knuckles whitened. “The Empire— Our Empire—is disintegrating, and not one of Our ‘councilors’ has any ‘counsel’ to offer!”

Grand Duke North Wind Blowing’s jaw tightened as he heard the imperial “Our” in that contemptuous sentence. The crown prince had “unwillingly accepted” his father’s death and “reluctantly permitted” the Council’s “earnest plea” that he take up the Crown in his own right to overpower the natural resistance of a grieving son, and his ascension to the throne bade fair to be the most tumultuous in generations, and not just because of the violence wracking the northern half of his empire. Too many of the Imperial Council’s members had died in Shang-mi, and now North Wind Blowing understood the real reason Zhyou-Zhwo had postponed his coronation. It hadn’t been simply to force the Council to beg him to take up the throne. That had been part of it, assenting to his elevation to Emperor only reluctantly . . . and making the point that they’d had to come to him if they wanted to hold their own positions.

But there’d been another reason, too. It had given him time to sound out the available pool of nobles before he had to formally fill the vacant Council seats. Time to make sure the men put into them knew they were beholden to him, not their colleagues.

“Highest,” Mangzhin Tyan, Earl Snow Peak, said finally, “we have no counsel to offer because we—as you—know there can be only one response to such defiance of the Imperial authority. Unfortunately, at this time, that response remains temporarily beyond our capabilities. That won’t be true forever, however. That much I swear!”

Zhyou-Zhwo glowered at him, but at least some of the heat leached out of those dark eyes, and North Wind Blowing tried to feel grateful. It was difficult. As Snow Peak’s choice of honorifics indicated, he spoke not simply as a member of the Council, but as the new senior ranking officer of the Imperial Army, and he had never been a member of North Wind Blowing’s faction even before his recent promotion.

“Earl Snow Peak is correct, Your Supreme Majesty,” Zhwunzhyng Rwan, Earl Golden Sunrise, added a bit cautiously. “In the fullness of time, the authority of your Crown must inevitably be reestablished throughout the northern provinces, but at this instant, our ability to do that remains sadly limited.”

At least Golden Sunrise was one of North Wind Blowing’s most loyal allies, not one of the toadies Zhyou-Zhwo had named to replace those who’d died. There was barely enough of the old guard left to form a scant majority, and the first councilor allowed himself to nod in sage agreement with his colleague.

“Perhaps We are not presently in a position to take effective action,” Zhyou-Zhwo said after a moment. “But We must still respond to this shameful proclamation.” He tapped the sheet of parchment on the tabletop with an angry fingertip. “If We allow this to stand unchallenged, then We endorse a dangerous precedent. At the very least, We must make it crystal clear We do not and never will accept this sort of attack on Our legitimate prerogatives!”

Golden Sunrise glanced at North Wind Blowing from the corner of one eye, then looked back at the emperor.

“Ultimately, you are, of course, correct, Your Supreme Majesty,” he said. “At this moment, however, might we not consider the advisability of simply not responding at all?” The emperor’s face tightened, and the earl went on quickly. “If we say nothing—if the Council says nothing in your name—then you, in your person as Emperor, will have conceded nothing. It will always be within the scope of your prerogative to make the reassertion of your authority in those provinces crystal-clear. In the meantime, we avoid any appearance of ineffectuality and may concentrate on more serious and immediate threats to the Crown’s authority.”

“Indeed?” Zhyou-Zhwo’s tone was icy, but without its previous core of fury, and North Wind Blowing allowed himself a cautious trickle of hope.

The situation in central Harchong had gone from one horror to another over the past months. According to the rumors and counter-rumors flowing to them, Shang-mi was largely in ruins after an orgy of arson and rapine. Virtually the whole of Tiegelkamp and most of Chiang-wu Province were wrapped in flames, and the carnage continued to spread despite the bitter winter cold. There was scarcely a man in that council chamber who hadn’t lost family, and every one of the northern nobles present had lost immense amounts of his personal wealth, as well, with no end in sight.

“Do you truly feel that is our best course, My Lord?” another voice, this one with a southern accent, asked. Zungju Byngzhi, the Duke of Summer Flowers, was another newcomer. He was also one of the very few nobles of South Harchong whose pedigree compared favorably with most of the Northerners on Zhyou-Zhwo’s reconstructed council, and his expression was intent, thoughtful, as he cocked his head at Golden Sunrise.

“In the absence of a good option, My Lord, one must choose the least bad of the ones available to one,” Golden Sunrise replied. “I would never suggest His Supreme Majesty should suffer such an insult to his prerogative in silence if I believed we could effectively punish these arrogant upstarts at the present time.”

“Yet will not prolonged silence be seen as acquiescence?” Snow Peak asked in the tone of one who was simply musing aloud.

“It might,” Golden Sunrise conceded, keeping the corner of one wary eye on the emperor’s expression. “I fear, though, that we must advise His Supreme Majesty to . . . choose his fights at this perilous moment in his Empire’s history. As impertinent as Star Rising and the others may be, they’ve always taken care to be meticulous in proclaiming their ultimate loyalty to His Supreme Majesty and to the Crown.”

Zhyou-Zhwo’s face tightened ever so slightly, and Golden Sunrise continued smoothly.

“Ultimately, of course, such pretensions as theirs must be brought to heel, yet surely at this moment the situation in the eastern provinces constitutes a far greater immediate threat to both His Supreme Majesty’s prerogatives and the territorial integrity of his realm!”

Oh, shrewdly done, Zhwunzhyng! North Wind Blowing mentally congratulated his ally as Zhyou-Zhwo’s eyes flashed.

The first councilor watched Snow Peak’s expression. The army commander was an experienced courtier, so that expression showed very little, but it was there for eyes which knew what to look for, and North Wind Blowing knew exactly why.

Earl Rainbow Waters had crossed the frontier into Maddox from the Episcopate of St. Bahrnabai at the head of almost a quarter million men two months earlier. Like Star Rising and his fellows, the disgraced earl had been very careful to proclaim that his sole purpose was to restore public order. And he’d been amazingly successful at it. Two hundred and fifty thousand men wasn’t a huge number when spread over so vast an area, but the earl’s name carried enormous weight among the serfs and peasant farmers. Despite the Spears’ best efforts, rumors about the Mighty Host and tales of how Rainbow Waters had fought for his troops’ return and at least kept them fed and clothed in their involuntary exile had trickled into the eastern provinces for years. In the process, the earl had been transformed into some sort of icon, a combination of Langhorne and the seijins of old returned to the world! He was undoubtedly the only great noble of Harchong—and such he remained, despite the confiscation of his lands—even rebellious serfs were prepared to follow.

Many of the eastern towns appeared to have succumbed to his reputation, as well, with one city council after another petitioning him to take their citizens under his protection. And there were persistent rumors—rumors North Wind Blowing’s agents had confirmed, although he had not yet passed the information to the emperor or the rest of the council—that another quarter million of the Mighty Host’s veterans were flowing into eastern Langhorne and Stene under Rainbow Water’s nephew, the Baron of Wind Song, with similar results.

Not even Rainbow Waters’ reputation—or his well-disciplined troops—were sufficient to prevent outbursts of rapine and all the hideous violence that went with them, but compared to the areas outside his control, they were incredibly few and far between. Which meant, of course, that even the local members of the minor aristocracy were undoubtedly grateful for his presence, although they were keeping their mouths shut about it, for the most part.

Snow Peak was as aware of that as anyone. Indeed, the reason he’d been promoted to his present post after his predecessor’s death in Shang-mi was his bitter rejection of the Church’s demands where the equipping and—especially—training of the Mighty Host of God and the Archangels were concerned. He’d resigned his position as one of the Mighty Host’s senior commanders the day Rainbow Waters caved in to those outrageous conditions, and his hatred for the banished earl was almost as great as the emperor’s own. Perhaps it was even greater, as the area under Rainbow Waters’ sway continued to expand, because the “army” under his own command could never have matched that accomplishment even if the peasants and serfs had been prepared to embrace it. He had more men than Rainbow Waters, but very few of them were equipped with new-model weapons.

Yet all of that paled beside the true threat of Rainbow Waters’ success. Unlike Star Rising or any of the minor nobles who backed this “provisional council” of his, Rainbow Waters sprang from one of the empire’s greatest aristocratic dynasties. He was a great noble who commanded an army fanatically loyal to him, not to Emperor Zhyou-Zhwo.

Many an independent kingdom had been sprung out of less promising soil than that. Zhyou-Zhwo knew that, and Snow Peak was the man who was supposed to be building an army capable of making certain that didn’t happen this time.

“As I say, Your Supreme Majesty,” Golden Sunrise continued, “when our resources are so limited, surely the path of wisdom is to husband them where we can and expend them only where it is most useful . . . and vital.”

Zhyou-Zhwo nodded ever so slightly, but his expression was manifestly unhappy.

“Your Supreme Majesty, we must all recognize Earl Golden Sunrise’s greater personal familiarity with those seeking to create this ‘Provisional Council,’” Duke Summer Flowers said, and North Wind Blowing’s jaw tightened at his judicious, reasonable tone. “And clearly the situation in the East is an intolerable one. There is, however, a significant difference between Baron Star Rising’s actions and those of Earl Rainbow Waters, I believe.”

Zhyou-Zhwo’s expression had darkened further at the Southerner’s none-too-oblique reminder that Golden Sunrise’s earldom lay in western Tiegelkamp. That it was, in fact, within or directly bordered by the area over which the ‘Provisional Council’ sought to extend its authority. That was nothing compared to the murderous fire in his eyes as someone dared to mention the outlawed earl’s name in his presence, however.

“And that difference is what, My Lord?” North Wind Blowing’s tone carried a carefully metered frigidity.

“Why, only this, My Lord Grand Duke,” Summer Flowers replied mildly. “Earl Rainbow Waters is clearly in a state of rebellion, whatever he may profess. Simply crossing our frontier by himself would have constituted an act of profound disobedience to His Supreme Majesty’s will and expressed decree, yet he’s dared to bring armed serfs at his heels! That creates a clear and unmistakable—unimpeachable—basis for His Supreme Majesty’s forces to crush him and his supporters in the field, as they inevitably will under My Lord Snow Peak’s able command once the manufactories here in the South have suitably equipped his forces. The threat of this ‘Provisional Council’ is far more subtle than that. It has no armies in the field, it hasn’t crossed His Supreme Majesty’s frontiers, and it’s careful to present an appearance of loyalty to the Crown. If its pretensions and ambition aren’t openly and strongly rebuked, does His Supreme Majesty not risk the appearance of endorsing its actions and, by extension, granting it an authority it does not and cannot possess?”

Fortunately, North Wind Blowing was looking at Summer Flowers, not the emperor, as the first councilor’s eyes widened, despite his decades of political experience. Summer Flowers was a Southerner, and the southern provinces had chafed under the political domination of the northern nobility for centuries. The last thing North Wind Blowing had anticipated was that Summer Flowers would frame an argument in terms that undercut that southern drive for greater autonomy!

“What you say is true and well taken, My Lord,” Golden Sunrise said. “Indeed, as I’ve argued myself, ultimately this sort of intolerable usurpation of His Supreme Majesty’s prerogatives must be dealt with. I merely seek to most effectively . . . prioritize the threats with which he and we, as his councilors, must deal. And, as you say, the ‘Provisional Council’ has no troops and has crossed no borders. I do not and never have counseled that it would be recognized in any way by His Supreme Majesty, or that there should be even a hint of a suggestion that it will be tolerated in the end. For now, however, it would seem to me that—”

“Forgive me, My Lord Earl,” Summer Flowers interrupted, “but there are armies in the field, on Harchongese soil, which most assuredly have crossed our frontiers. I refer to the Charisian Marines who have landed in the Bay of Pauton and the Gulf of Boisseau.”

Golden Sunrise’s mouth snapped shut. His eyes darted to Zhyou-Zhwo’s face, and North Wind Blowing cursed silently. If Summer Flowers had surprised him earlier, that was nothing compared to this! South Harchong had tried long and hard to cultivate Charisian investment in its own manufactories, less for the financial support, however welcome that might have been, than as a means to acquire Charisian techniques. The last thing Summer Flowers should have wanted was to tread upon the emperor’s instant, instinctive, ineradicable hatred for Charis and all things Charisian!

“My Lord Duke,” Golden Sunrise said after a second, “the Charisian presence in Boisseau and Cheshire is totally unauthorized by His Supreme Majesty! Nor is it mentioned at any point in the proclamation of the ‘Provisional Council’! If—”

“No,” Summer Flowers interrupted yet again, “it isn’t. But everyone knows about it, My Lord. And whether it’s Star Rising’s intention or not—I am, of course, in no position to comment upon that—this proposed council will inevitably be perceived by His Supreme Majesty’s foes as a threadbare mask for Charisian penetration of his territory. Especially if these rumors about the so-called ‘Ahrmahk Plan’ are true.”

North Wind Blowing watched Zhyou-Zhwo’s expression and body language from the corner of his eye and saw Summer Flowers’ final sentence go home with deadly effect. The emperor’s face darkened, seemed to swell, and he leaned forward in his chair.

“Perhaps you’re correct, My Lord Duke,” Golden Sunrise said, careful to keep his tone mild and respectful, “but—”

“That will be enough, My Lord,” North Wind Blowing said sharply. Golden Sunrise looked at him in surprise, and the first councilor glared at him. “My Lord Summer Flowers has made an excellent point. One, I confess, I had not considered deeply enough.” He made himself nod courteously and gratefully to the Southerner. “Had I done so, I no doubt would have made the same point to His Supreme Majesty, because it’s a valid one.”

Golden Sunrise sat back in his chair, eyes turning into shutters, as he realized North Wind Blowing had just thrown him to the krakens.

“And well you should have, My Lord!” Zhyou-Zhwo snapped, glaring at North Wind Blowing before turning even more fiery eyes upon Golden Sunrise. “It’s the Charisian poison we have to blame for every misfortune which has befallen our entire world in the last twenty years! And now these traitors, these treachers, these . . . these lackeys of Shan-wei, want to allow that bastard Cayleb and his harlot into Our realm?!”

Golden Sunrise seemed to sink in upon himself, and North Wind Blowing glared at him just as furiously as the emperor, wondering if he’d distanced himself quickly enough.

“We thank you, My Lord Summer Flowers,” Zhyou-Zhwo said in more temperate tones, turning his eyes from the hapless Golden Sunrise to the southern duke. “Yours is indeed a welcome voice of reason in this council chamber!”

“If I may serve in any way, that is my greatest honor, Your Supreme Majesty,” Summer Flowers said, half-rising from his chair so that he might bow deeply across the table to the emperor. “And, in fairness to My Lord North Wind Blowing, had he even a few less crises weighing upon his heart and mind, I’m sure the same point would have occurred to him.”

“That’s most gracious of you, My Lord,” North Wind Blowing said as the Southerner seated himself once more.

“Indeed it is,” the emperor confirmed in rather chillier tones. “And I think, perhaps, it would be as well, My Lord North Wind Blowing, if you were to prepare a proper condemnation of this proclamation for Our perusal by midday tomorrow.”

“Of course, Your Supreme Majesty.” North Wind Blowing inclined his head, his expression hiding his dismay.

“And that brings Us to another point We wish to consider,” Zhyou-Zhwo continued. “The state of Our arms is most unsatisfactory.” His gaze shifted to Snow Peak. “We understand it will be some time before Our army may take the field against the rebel Rainbow Waters and Our other foes, both domestic and foreign. It is, however, Our wish that the deficiency in Our troops’ weapons and equipment be made good as rapidly as possible.”

Which would be much easier to accomplish if we had greater access to Charisian manufacturing techniques. Which, of course, is the last thing you want, North Wind Blowing thought with a sinking sensation.

“At the same time,” Zhyou-Zhwo went on, as if he’d read his first councilor’s mind, “it is obviously necessary to minimize Charisian pollution of Our realm. Nor will We tolerate any enrichment of our enemies! It is Our belief Our friend and brother emperor in Desnair has much good counsel to offer us in that regard, and so We commend his letters to that effect to the Council’s study. It is Our will that our lords Snow Peak and Summer Flowers give their especial attention to this matter and present Us with options for pursuing a strategy similar to the one Emperor Mahrys has embraced in his own realm.”

“Of course, Your Supreme Majesty,” North Wind Blowing murmured.

He bent his head once more, cursing viciously behind the serene expression while he wondered if Snow Peak and Summer Flowers had orchestrated this outcome beforehand. Whether they had or not, the moment was about to make them close allies . . . and formidable foes.

And the fact that it would make accomplishing the emperor’s goals so much more difficult was completely beside the point.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Snippet #14
Post by Down Under   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 1:05 am

Down Under
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 71
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Thank you RFC
for Snippet 14.
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Re: Snippet #14
Post by ksandgren   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 2:31 am

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Thanks for the wonderful snippet. Really looking forward to the whole thing in a few weeks.
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Re: Snippet #14
Post by isaac_newton   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:18 am

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Location: Brighton, UK

ksandgren wrote:Thanks for the wonderful snippet. Really looking forward to the whole thing in a few weeks.


Indeed!

and in the more immediate future, to find out what is going to transpire in St. Lerys Foundry!
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Re: Snippet #14
Post by PeterZ   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 9:28 am

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Posts: 5997
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Location: Colorado

Thank you, RFC! This was very interesting.

It appears that we have a SH noble encouraging the Emperor to push Star Rising and Rainbow Waters further into rebellion against the Empire. Even though this policy cut North Wind Blowing off at the knees and gave Summer Flowers ascendency on the council, the move makes reuniting the Empire more difficult. It also encourages the North into strengthening their reforms more quickly in order to shore up popular support of their rule. Summer Flowers pretty much goaded the Emperor into promising to return with an army to punish anyone who cooperates with either administration. The move was surprising to North Wind Blowing and struck me as about as elegant a political maneuver as the Imperial Court has seen.

Was this a Machiavellian power grab pure and simple or something deeper? One thing does come to mind. If NH adopts reforms and the Emperor is impotent to stop them for a long enough period, will the South not clamor for them too? As NH freely adopts Charisian tech and methods and grows much more powerful much more quickly, won't the South have to adopt those same methods or forsake any hope of a reconquista? Also, this is the most I,portent immediate result I think, Summer Flowers has just been placed in charge of technological development. He is given the task of setting policies that provide Harchong with tech tools and weapons without overturning society too much with Charisian perversions.

Harchong and Desnair have placed highly intelligent nobles in charge of their tech adoption programs. They both appear to be much more accepting of change than their cohorts. Not accepting change because they like those changes necessarily, but because they can use those changes to better accomplish their desired goals.

This leaves only Siddermark and South Howard as the only regions uncommitted to Charisian inmovation. Siddermark and Central N Harchong are slowed because of social unrest, but once that is settled, it's off to the races. I wonder when we'll see something happen in South Howard?
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Re: Snippet #14
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:29 am

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Very Good and Thank you. :)
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Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
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Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: Snippet #14
Post by NervousEnergy   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:08 am

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PeterZ wrote:Thank you, RFC! This was very interesting.

It appears that we have a SH noble encouraging the Emperor to push Star Rising and Rainbow Waters further into rebellion against the Empire. Even though this policy cut North Wind Blowing off at the knees and gave Summer Flowers ascendency on the council, the move makes reuniting the Empire more difficult. It also encourages the North into strengthening their reforms more quickly in order to shore up popular support of their rule. Summer Flowers pretty much goaded the Emperor into promising to return with an army to punish anyone who cooperates with either administration. The move was surprising to North Wind Blowing and struck me as about as elegant a political maneuver as the Imperial Court has seen.

Was this a Machiavellian power grab pure and simple or something deeper? One thing does come to mind. If NH adopts reforms and the Emperor is impotent to stop them for a long enough period, will the South not clamor for them too? As NH freely adopts Charisian tech and methods and grows much more powerful much more quickly, won't the South have to adopt those same methods or forsake any hope of a reconquista? Also, this is the most I,portent immediate result I think, Summer Flowers has just been placed in charge of technological development. He is given the task of setting policies that provide Harchong with tech tools and weapons without overturning society too much with Charisian perversions.

Harchong and Desnair have placed highly intelligent nobles in charge of their tech adoption programs. They both appear to be much more accepting of change than their cohorts. Not accepting change because they like those changes necessarily, but because they can use those changes to better accomplish their desired goals.

This leaves only Siddermark and South Howard as the only regions uncommitted to Charisian inmovation. Siddermark and Central N Harchong are slowed because of social unrest, but once that is settled, it's off to the races. I wonder when we'll see something happen in South Howard?

Good commentary. I'm currently of the opinion it's pure Machiavellian maneuvering on SF part, as Harchongian nobles have been portrayed throughout the series as being supremely unconcerned about anything not directly related to Harchong... he cannot see that such moves, while extremely beneficial to himself in the short term, will hasten the destruction of the Empire in the long run.

It looks like both Desnair and Harchong are being set up to fall for the same trap: thinking that Charisian technical innovations can be adopted without also adopting all the social mindsets that make them possible - education, industrialization, the rising self-worth of the former 'serf' or underclasses that run the factories, etc.

The Harchongians seem particularly blind here. Southern manufacturies aren't going to gain ground on Rainbow Waters & Star Rising if they sign direct agreements with Charis... they're going to fall further behind.

A little more than a month to go!
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Re: Snippet #14
Post by Isilith   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:35 am

Isilith
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isaac_newton wrote:
ksandgren wrote:Thanks for the wonderful snippet. Really looking forward to the whole thing in a few weeks.


Indeed!

and in the more immediate future, to find out what is going to transpire in St. Lerys Foundry!


Huh? What did I miss?
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Re: Snippet #14
Post by thanatos   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:41 am

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PeterZ wrote:Thank you, RFC! This was very interesting.

It appears that we have a SH noble encouraging the Emperor to push Star Rising and Rainbow Waters further into rebellion against the Empire. Even though this policy cut North Wind Blowing off at the knees and gave Summer Flowers ascendency on the council, the move makes reuniting the Empire more difficult. It also encourages the North into strengthening their reforms more quickly in order to shore up popular support of their rule. Summer Flowers pretty much goaded the Emperor into promising to return with an army to punish anyone who cooperates with either administration. The move was surprising to North Wind Blowing and struck me as about as elegant a political maneuver as the Imperial Court has seen.

Was this a Machiavellian power grab pure and simple or something deeper? One thing does come to mind. If NH adopts reforms and the Emperor is impotent to stop them for a long enough period, will the South not clamor for them too? As NH freely adopts Charisian tech and methods and grows much more powerful much more quickly, won't the South have to adopt those same methods or forsake any hope of a reconquista? Also, this is the most I,portent immediate result I think, Summer Flowers has just been placed in charge of technological development. He is given the task of setting policies that provide Harchong with tech tools and weapons without overturning society too much with Charisian perversions.

Harchong and Desnair have placed highly intelligent nobles in charge of their tech adoption programs. They both appear to be much more accepting of change than their cohorts. Not accepting change because they like those changes necessarily, but because they can use those changes to better accomplish their desired goals.

This leaves only Siddermark and South Howard as the only regions uncommitted to Charisian inmovation. Siddermark and Central N Harchong are slowed because of social unrest, but once that is settled, it's off to the races. I wonder when we'll see something happen in South Howard?


I think Summer Flowers is craftier than you think. You always need to look at interests of such individuals. SH has always chafed at the imperial authority yet now they're playing host to that emperor and to his much diminished court of reactionary feudal lords and bureaucrats. North Wind Blowing reflects that "his" people had a threadbare majority council relative to the SH nobles. So Summer Flowers first move was to achieve dominance over the council by gaining the emperor's support for his policies. The next natural step is to arm their new military with the weapons to at least stop Rainbow Waters and the Charisian Marines in the west. Given that SH did want it's troops back, that army is going to consist mostly of South Harchongese soldiers and officers. After that, they have to land their forces somewhere while somehow getting through the Gulf of Dohlar, which may or may not be blockaded by Charis, Dohalr or both. Assuming they even can, and assuming they acquire at least some Charisian techniques (as an expedient), it would be easier to land in the central region, as you can bet that Rainbow Waters will seek to secure the shoreline and that Charis will protect it's interests in the west with it naval power. And all the while, the emperor will be indebted to SH, as they did everything they could to satisfy his majesty's demands and pandering to his whims. The one thing that could screw this up would be a military failure, which is why it would be smart to allow Northern officers to be put in command of some of their advanced units. That way, once they get killed or captured, Summer Flowers would be in the position to claim with complete honesty that it was the fault of whatever lackeys North Wind Blowing put in charge of the fiasco.
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Re: Snippet #14
Post by thanatos   » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:42 am

thanatos
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Isilith wrote:
isaac_newton wrote:
Indeed!

and in the more immediate future, to find out what is going to transpire in St. Lerys Foundry!


Huh? What did I miss?


Nothing... yet. This is apparently a long chapter and the next snippet will include whatever happens in the St. Lerys Foundry.
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