WA Delegate: None.
Last WA Update:
Today's World Census Report
The Most Advanced Public Transport in Ersetum
World Census experts captured, tagged, and released trains in order to identify which nations have the most extensive, well-funded public transportation systems.
As a region, Ersetum is ranked 4,754th in the world for Most Advanced Public Transport.
|1.||The Thirteen Tribes of Surestan||Authoritarian Democracy||“Under the Lord we Thrive”|
|2.||The Shepherds of Sorores Nigri Velleris||Inoffensive Centrist Democracy||“To Your Breed Your Flock Your Clan Be True Baa-Ram-Ewe”|
|3.||The Tengoku of Atroria||Scandinavian Liberal Paradise||“Brotherhood and Unity”|
|4.||The Imperial Confederacy of Amaabj||Iron Fist Consumerists||“Honor, Virtue, and Power”|
|5.||The United Provinces of Alussia||Father Knows Best State||“Small things flourish by concord”|
|6.||The Kingdom of Fedel||Father Knows Best State||“Progress through order. Order through obedience.”|
|7.||The Empire of Balticans||Inoffensive Centrist Democracy||“Death For All”|
|8.||The New Rothish Empire of Ionalands||Iron Fist Consumerists||“For the Great Green North/För sei Grooten Grœnen Norða!”|
|9.||The Most Serene Republic of Koruellia||Iron Fist Consumerists||“Uzvara un nāve ir divpusēja monēta.”|
|10.||The Third Dynastic Kingdom of Neo-Irkalla||Father Knows Best State||“Land of the Queen of Night”|
- : The Third Dynastic Kingdom of Neo-Irkalla rejected Create an embassy with us's request for regional embassies.
- : The Third Dynastic Kingdom of Neo-Irkalla proposed constructing embassies with The Universal Order of Nations.
- : The Free Land of Faiq of the region Create an embassy with us proposed constructing embassies.
- : The Kingdom of Valynvaryon arrived from The North Pacific.
- : The Kingdom of Voneisen departed this region for Cavardille.
- : Embassy established between Ersetum and Tsumonrin.
- : The Third Dynastic Kingdom of Neo-Irkalla withdrew a request for regional embassies with Alpha Centauri.
- : The Third Dynastic Kingdom of Neo-Irkalla rejected United Island States's request for regional embassies.
- : The Free Land of Iltine of the region United Island States proposed constructing embassies.
- : The Holy Empire of Karthmarie arrived from The South Pacific.
Ersetum Regional Message Board
The Treatise of Vere Dives
Let it be known that the government of Vere Dives within its current form is of no harm to the nations of this world. As such, the actions of Amaabj have been noted, and should a completely unjustified war be declared, as is seen as likely, Baidjon may be morally required to step in at least as a preventative measure. Amaa is firmly in the wrong and has no reason to provoke such a war. Sic Semper Tyrannus.
Twilight of the Mountain Gods
Spring, 193 GSC
Mikasa, Great Koya
Arma U'leu strode down the tight cobble streets of Mikasa greeting the people who walked past. A bright blue sky hung over him as the sun of late spring coated the whitewalls of the city. Today, he wore a day vest over a light dress shirt—a "modern" manner of dress. Such clothes were expensive, new, and popular. He had even thought about buying one of new boating hats that were in fashion here in the south, but today he was content with his current look. Tucked under one arm, he walked with a package and a bouquet of flowers.
The man turned a street corner and came out onto one of the many bay-facing streets. The surrounding hills that enclosed Owase Bay were a deep emerald, heralding the coming summer. Sapphire waters lapped gently against the stone of the street, and out in the distance, he could see the battlecruiser Aera resting on this side of the inlets. Mikasa, the town that commanded the waves of the world, was a deceptively quaint looking place. As far as he could see on his stroll, the city sloped itself up against the side of the hills, maybe only a mile or two inland, but he knew this vision to be false. Just on the other side of a closing bay, the same cluster of buildings ate into the mountain side, again on the other side of the closing hills there. Further up into the mountains sat hamlets and through the pass there—straight ahead of him through the town—did the city spill out into a valley. Mikasa was not concentrated, but that did not mean it was small or unimportant.
Having visited other ports of the world, he knew one might wonder how the greatest navy on earth operated from such an archaic place. Aside from electricity wires and the occasional squat brick building, Mikasa retained the same plaster and wood construct as other Koyan towns. There was no factories belching smoke, no great harbor to accept international freight. Just cream-colored houses and a thousand verdant islets set into the mountain sides. It helped that the warships were not built here, but in Jukan further down the coast. No, such was the way of his people. A Koyan can delegate a kingdom from a single unfurnished room, and so he knew that this place, in all its beauty, worked just fine to command the great fleet.
Arma had been lost in his thoughts as he walked—the lapping water, the occasional seagulls, the chatting people all had been drowned out by his mind. He could see now, sitting out onto the bay, a house with silver roof and an upper story. The deck wrapped around out over the water, and from many visits he had known that to be his target. As the man neared, he took a hand and adjusted his moustache, making sure the handlebar curls stuck. With a further adjustment of his tie, he stepped up to the stone front step and knocked softly on the wooden doorframe.
Moments later, the door opened to reveal a woman looking back at him. She took up the doorway—middle-aged, with long straight black hair. She wore a traditional dress, composed of bright orange, teal, and yellow triangles dancing on white cloth. Her expression was flat.
"You're late.." she said. "Sir."
Arma smiled sheepishly. "Oh apologies captain, I took the wrong turn again at Meii junction, so sorry indeed."
He bowed, less out of respect, and more to see inside past the door. She pursed her lips, trailed his arm down to the package and flowers, and then, without word, turned back into the house. Clearly she was done already.
Arma wiped a bead of sweat that formed on the top of his head and then stepped up, ducking low to clear the doorway as he entered the house. He slipped his leather shoes off at the door and then took a look around. He had been in this house many times throughout his career, and it never changed. Traditional to a fault, the mat floors were soft as he walked on them. The walls were a jungle of beige paper and support struts, and following the woman as she glided down the hall, he came out into the parlor.
There, amassing around a table at the center of the great open room, was the top brass of the Koyan navy.
"Vice-Admiral!" One of them said, standing with the lower ranks in salute.
Saluting back, Arma entered further, careful not to hit his head on the hallway portals.
"Sit down everyone, sit down" he said laughing. He took a moment to hand his package to a bearded man—Rear-Admiral Teri—who sat in the center of the men chewing on an unlit pipe. Arma then turned around, pulling his attention from his fellow officers, and approached an elderly woman tucked in the corner where she sat rocking in one of the few chairs of the house. Covered in blankets, the wrinkled old woman looked up at him as he bowed to her.
"As always thank you Mrs. Risu for your patronage of our officers here in your beautiful house."
A genuine smile streaked across her face as he returned from his bow but she did not reply.
"Oh also, flowers for you and your daughter" Arma said, extending the bouquet out for her to see before the same woman who answered the door came and took them towards the open kitchen to be vased.
"Tea, sir?" she asked as she walked away.
"Yes, captain, I would appreciate it."
It was only as he went to take his own seat at the meeting that Arma took a moment to examine the room they were in. It was open and square, with a kitchen and counter on one end that lead to the rest of the house. On the other, near to where they sat, was walls that slide open out on the deck. They were all open this day, and so one could see clearly into the bay as sunlight illuminated the room.
"Could you bring her any closer Ba?" Arma said motioning to the battlecruiser in the bay. He could see just how close it sat to the house now that he was here.
One of the officers, a hawkish man who sat on one end of the table shrugged and laughed.
"Might as well come in with style."
Ba Shin, a westerner, had been three classes younger than Arma at Tola Yoshihara's naval school. All the same, he currently sat in this room with the rank of Flotilla Admiral, having designed the very battlecruisers he commanded. Arma had particular respect for him.
"You let him do that Kiwa?" Arma asked.
Another man, young and equivalent in rank to Arma himself, laughed.
"He's kind of hard to stop."
That remark caused the room to erupt into laughter. The next minutes were spent greeting and small talk between the naval command as Arma sipped on his tea. Meetings like this had been a tradition of four years now and each had been hosted here in Captain Risu's own house. They were informal by definition, but Arma had seen the birth of Koyan naval doctrine and fleet plans among them. If anything, he knew that formal briefings were subservient to this one. It was their way, and he hoped it would never end. Though there was one missing face at the table—the man behind it all, Great Lord Tola.
Teri Yachuhi set his cold pipe down and, with a sip of tea, cleared his throat before speaking.
"Gentlemen, as much as I enjoy our casual conversations it may be best to inform Vice-Admiral U'leu of what we were discussing before he arrived."
At that, the tone of the room died down.
Captain Risu, having finished tending to the tea and her mother, finally joined with a spot at the table, sitting down onto her robes gracefully. She did not wait to speak.
"They were discussing the growth of barbarian fleets." she said. "Particularly in the east."
"Baidjon." Ba Shin picked up. He glanced around at the others with sharp eyes. "New battleship."
"Outfit?" Arma asked.
"3 triples, 16-Inch. No Anti-Air."
Teri Yachuhi sneered.
"16-Inch guns? They'll smooth the barrels after three shots!"
"All the same..." Kiwa interjected. " Our 15-Inch cannon are no longer the largest on the seas. Nor are we the only nation with a cannon larger than 11-Inches."
"Okay." Arma said. "larger guns, sure. Three triple casings, greater barrel wear, less firepower. No big deal."
"We're confident in our doctrine," Risu spoke, gently drinking from her cup. "But... the point is we are no longer dominant through firepower and size alone. The Caenaians, they've figured how to size decks like us. the Baidjoni obviously too. Before long, we suspect the Caelux will take a page from the east and size their guns up as well. Presumably 15-Inch cannon alike our own. Perhaps larger."
"We have the class registry on the Caenaians. I've seen it, nothing to worry about."
"Spirits Arma! It's not about their actual construct!" Teri exclaimed.
"Woah, boys, boys..." Ba reached his arm out. "Look U'leu, we're concerned that we are no longer in a position to lord over the others through sheer power. Our only advantage is doctrine. Baidjon, Caenaia, the Luminians, they've all reached our level."
The room quieted down again. Arma glanced around at his compatriots. This group of the most brilliant people he'd ever known, the greatest of his country, all looked down into their cups.
"Only four years." Risu whispered. "Only four years and they've reached us."
She then chuckled a dry, sardonic laugh. "Tola said it'd take them seven."
"The Pekora is only three years old." Teri said, tapping slowly on the table in front of him.
They sat there, quite, before another officer cut in. He was tall and serious, standing behind the junior officers. Ko Mo'er, Arma knew, a diligent cruiser commander.
"They build like us, but they haven't outsmarted us. Come on Koshi, how many can pull our cruiser operations?"
That comment, in some way, filled the room with a revived spirit.
"16-Inch guns..." Teri started laughing, rolling his amusement until it reached a loud roaring guffaw.
Arma took the opportunity to lead the discussion for the first time since he had been there.
"Commander Ko is correct, gentlemen. They can build like us, they can copy us, but by Ina they cannot sail like us."
"Here Here!" the men applauded.
"What this means, is we will have to be sharp and ready with our developments and our planning. There is no room for error anymore. By the spirits, our navy will never be beaten, but only because we are loyal servant's of our homeland and because the barbarians cannot hope to match us. Koyan wit will see us through! We can't let any of those bastards in the Army take our supplies either." Ba added.
Arma let the men debate amongst themselves as he took a moment to think on the proceedings. It was, in his mind, a shame old Tola was not here for this gathering. Uncertain times lay ahead for them, but his service among these men proved that these were the best seafaring minds one could find. If they were outclassed, then the Master of Fortune was simply not with them. Looking over the naval charts of other nations, both friend and foe, he was calm enough in their position this spring to not arouse any fears within himself. Calm enough even, to let his mind wonder over to Captain Risu who sat watching the others critically.
"Captain," he said to her. "My apologies, but we seem to be forgetting one critical element."
She watched him hesitantly
"There are no cakes for this meetings."
She nearly let her teacup slip from her hands onto the floor. The other officers in the room howled.
"Sir," she said with a soft venom in her voice. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave my house."
Arma could not remember a time he laughed as hard.
Despite Pleading, Baidjon Made it Clear that they would Not Back Down, As Such The Grand Fleet Consisting of 60 Warships and Various Transports Carrying Most of the Amaan Millitary Set Sail Instead to the Pennisula North Of Maui, Where They Disembarked. It was an Impressive sight, The Fruits of Conscription Visible. 40 Divisions Of Infantry Standing in Formation, 10 Divisions of Cavalry who would Support the Armor, Of Which 1,200 Tanks Rolled by. Only 500 Artilery Pieces Came Along, Primarily Because The Amaans Knew they Wouldn't Be Able to Defeat the Enemy through Firepower So they Wouldn't Try. Instead they would Try to Outmanuver the Enemy. It would Be a Nasty Fight to Take Out Baidjon, Who Unlike Vere Dives Did Have an Armored Force, and a Decent one at that. It would Really Rely on the Foot Soldier to Win the Day, hoping the Lack of Manpower Would Restrict Vere Dives. The Ships That Escorted the Fleet Left to Rejoin the 10 Cruisers they Left Back. They would Try to Fight Toe to toe with the Fleet of Baidjon and Hopefully, But not Likely, Stop them in their Tracks should they Try to Attack Amaabj.
The Great Fleet Sails Strong
As per a declaration of war from Amaabj, the Great Fleet has been mobilized in full, sending most of the ships towards the islands. The long guns hunger. In front are the main ships, and following are the troop transports with the best soldiers Baidjon has to offer. This shall be an easy fight. As the ships leave port with much fanfare, the BHK Kyotan leads the fleet. Full steam ahead.
Hachinalyk Smiles Upon Us
As the ships depart, on the mainland the army gives them a salute and a priest came out, taking a paper construct bow, pouring salt on it and lighting it on fire. As the bow went alight into flame, the priest raised their hands. "Friends! The gods show favor upon us! This victory will come henceforth!"
The Mad Queen
Location: Palace of the Sacre Palms, St. Tiffany, Karthmarie
"What is it now?"
Queen Anjulia thought she would get used to the incessant pestering from her advisors, but as time went on, their voice only grew more obnoxious. She swore one day the grating whines from the pretentious old hacks called the "Queen's council" would turn her deaf. If not, she would drive a knife in her ears herself just to have some silence.
"Your Majesty, the report from Captain Silver on the campaigns in the Soghradhi Mountains has arrived, we have much to discuss. Please, come, the council is waiting."
"I did not ask them to come, I will go when it pleases me. I am the Queen, you are nothing more than a glorified servant, you do not order me."
Queen Anjulia knew the report was important, and she knew that she would have to eventually meet with the council, but she hated more than anything to be told what to do, it made her want to do exactly the opposite of what she was being ordered, even if it was her original intention all along.
"No, of course not, your majesty, I had just assumed you would want to read the report straight away. My apologies, my Queen."
"No more assuming from you, only listening. Do we understand each other?"
"Yes, your majesty, I understand."
"I'll meet with the council in a moment. Let me finish my tea, this is the finest tea in the entire west, it is too delicious to go to waste."
That was a lie, the tea was mediocre at best, but she would sooner swallow every drop of the bland and watery tea before she'd ever obey someone so beneath her simply out of spite.
"It may take me a while, may you learn a lesson in patience... and respect for your superiors."
"Ah, our Queen finally decides to grace us with her presence, there's much to chat about, please, sit."
Anjulia always hated that one, he could not go a sentence without trying to flatter her, no matter how insincere it came off as.
"Some say your wisdom rivals Thute himself, and after many discussions with you, I'm inclined to believe them. We need your immense knowledge to guide us, my Queen."
And there it was, the insincere flattery, perfectly on cue.
"Yes, I'm here, let's just get on with it. Now, please tell me, what is in this report that is so important? My time is valuable and the day is short, I certainly hope for your sake that this report is worth my time"
"Well, my Queen, the campaigns in the Soghradhi Mountains.... they could be going better. The report mentions several villages have been destroyed, and the lords in the area are very displeased having numerous of their settlements burnt to the ground and their citizens slaughtered. Perhaps there is another course of action we can take? We can't risk a rebellion in the Soghradhi, the mountains there are tall, and few know them well like the native residents. It could take months to quell an uprising."
This again. It was not the first time they'd had conversed about the supposed "issues" in the Soghradhi, doubtful it would be the last time either.
"If anyone threatens rebellion, I will put their head on a spike at the gates of my castle, and leave it for all to see, so they can know what happens to traitors. Problem solved."
"I'm afraid it's not that simple, the Lord of Kuuthraja, he's very furious. If this goes all the way to the high lord, it will be significantly more complicated than just beheading a few traitors, it will require decisive military action. I would reccomend we halt all further religious campaigns immediately, until we can reach an agreement with High Lord Boltley."
"It is not up to me, it is up to the gods. I may be the Queen, but even I cannot defy their will. If they say we must kill the heretics, then we kill the heretics, there is no other way. Now, what I reccomend is, we go to Kuuthraja, slay High Lord Boltley on the throne on which he sits, and install a new high lord, strictly loyal to the Queen."
"And what of the people in Kuuthraja, you've just slayed their lord, and killed thousands of their brethren, do you expect them to just forget about what you've done to their people? Surely our Queen is not that naive? We must at least attempt to talk to High Lord Boltley, it's the best option available."
"There is no better ally than the gods themselves, the people of Kuuthraja will be crushed by the righteous fury of Aeg himself if they so decide to rebel against their Queen. Never under my reign will we negotiate with traitorous heretics, not now, not ever."
The debate was now purposeless, Queen Anjulia had already decided what she wanted to do, what she would do. What was even the point of meeting with these old fools anymore? She never listened to them, never valued their advice, nor did she value their company. "Debate" was over, if you could even call it that. There was never any possibility of persuading Queen Anjulia. She knew it, and they knew it, but that didn't stop them from trying.
"It's been decided. High Lord Boltley will be brought to St. Tiffany, there will be a trial, and he will face justice for his crimes. The Kuuthrajans should consider themselves lucky I'm showing them such mercy. Anyone else wouldn't be fortunate enough to receive a trial, they'd be slaughtered where they stood."
"Have you been listening to us at all? They would not care if you arrest High Lord Boltey, or if your execute him, they would be outraged all the same. It is my sworn duty to tell you when I think you are acting irresponsibly, and I must say, this is irresponsibility."
"Irresponsible is letting traitors fester, Irresponsible is letting those treasonous heretics in the Soghradhi stain our country with their filth. This council meeting has concluded, I've received all necessary advice, thank you, men."
"My Queen, these halfwits do not know what they are talking about. I am thankful every day that the gods chose you to be their prophet."
That one never misses an opportunity for insincere flattery, does he?
"Oh, shut up, would you?" Queen Anjulia simply lacked any ability to care about grace or respect anymore. Years of constant blathering from men who thought they were smarter than her has withered her patience into nothing. So much so, that meetings with the Queen's Council were considered lengthy if they lasted for more than ten minutes.
"This meeting has been a pleasure, truly, but I'll see you men out now."
"Ah, Captain Stanley, thanks for coming, I have an important task for you."
"Yes of course, my Queen, anything for you. What is it you ask of me?"
"Those fools on my council, their tongues have been possessed by the gods of evil, they wish to thwart my reign and the holiness of our sacred kingdom by deceiving me, by corrupting me with their wretched words that slither off their evil lips. Aeg himself has told me this. I ask that you to execute each and every one of them, for the safety of our kingdom, lest the evil gods seize our holy land. Carry this out quickly, and discreetly, in the name of your Queen."
"It will be done, my Queen."
Aeg had told her no such thing, Aeg has never told her anything as a matter of fact, she was never a "prophet" of the gods at all. But she kept up the illusion anyway, not doing so would result in chaos, challenges to the throne, maybe even all out war, certainly not worth the trouble it would cause if the truth got out, lying was simply easier.
For all her childhood she had been told "You are the heir, you will be the prophet once your father passes". And her father did come to pass, but the voices that were supposed to come never came, all she heard from the gods was silence. "You will hear them, for some, it takes a while" they said, but the silence only continued. She can't remember the first time she started to lie about the "voices" from the gods, only the stress she felt if she didn't say she heard something, anything. For a while after that, she had hoped the that the gods would really speak to her, that maybe she wouldn't have to lie anymore, but with every passing day, that glimmer of hope only shrunk further. From then on, the thoughts started eating at her mind like rats feasting on rotten scraps. "Did the gods skip over me? Do the gods not believe I am worthy of being Queen?". She had lost count of how many times she had asked herself those questions.
"What if we were never prophets? What if all the kings and queens lied, just like I did?" She knew that may be the truth, but the thought could never cure her insecurities.
Foxtails and Venom—Court of Takahra, Great Eastern Karstlands of the Kalmarans
Takahra was not the empire managing metropolis that Ganzir was, nor was it the great walled fortress such as could be found at Neti. There were no smokestacks or foundries as far as the eye could see as was the case in the lands of Mitanni, nor were there endless fields of reed and roving marsh beast as is the case with Eridu. Instead, the city of Takahra was a small city with low walls, made not from the mudbrick baked in a kiln as was the case with the Gally, but instead made from quarried stone from the lands of the karst itself. Where the Gallu had been lacking in such open supplies of raw stone in their history, the Kalmarans had long thrived in the caves and shadows and broken openings of the vast karst. So came the pounding machines of the western empire, and with those machines they brought their culture and technology to the Kalmarans, and injected into them such a radical uplifting, that change was both rapid and immediate. It had only been a handful of years, but the same Kalmarans who had lived in wandering communes had now been made to settle in these low-walled cities by the Gallu, where the handfuls of thousands clustered around small Ziggurats that made many western administrative staff scoff when compared to their heartland. Takahra was not the monolith as many cities were in the west: but it was the first Kalmaran city. That was something Halkhepa never neglected to remember, and never stopped thanking Taknakartu for.
Between the high cliffs and pooling in the varying caves that carried on like some sort of insect warren, water streamed while blackened clouds writhed in the underworldly heavens. Thunder and lightning illuminated the land with dashes in the night sky, though when the glow of thunderous Tesh came to a pause, it was the caves and cliffs and city itself which glowed with little bioluminescent flowers, and little fires within lanterns. There were many nights like this, with storms which flowed east and crashed against the karst cliffs and caves and mountains; but this night held difference not from the fury of gods, but from the company kept within the palace of Takahra. Tonight was not as any night would be for Halkhepa, for within the halls of the palace she called home, the ziggurat she knew, two guests now present. A noble from the Gallu lands, a Nin-Katti, and the princess who had ventured into the karst and brought her people into the fold of a large kingdom. The fox, Ka-a-kigal, had returned from her expeditions. She'd been increasingly making this place into a little home as well, an eastern palace to her liking, but this was no night of celebration. It was an evening of schemes.
"And you're certain about this? You're certain it was from the Mitanni?" Ka-a-kigal spoke, her robes loose as she sat on a cedar chair inlaid with gold and lapis. A fire blazed near her. "Do you realize what sort of implications these things carry? Do you realize what this could mean? If any of my family heard what you told me now, the gates of heaven would break open and unleash such terrible fury. Not upon them. But upon you!"
"Is that not why we're here? You've even had all your Barag-erim go back to the barracks, and left us two Gallu in the care of Kalmaran soldiers. Soldiers loyal to you, and loyal to this woman too who has become women into our tale," Nin-Katti spoke as she motioned to Halkhepa. As a Gallu, she was a short woman of lithe physique, with short horns but the sort of face which only comes with maturity. Ka-a-kigal's elder, though rank superseded such things.
"But what am I supposed to do with this!" Ka-a-kigal thundered, making Halkhepa jump. The action didn't go unnoticed, Ka-a-kigal sighing and shaking her head apologetically. "Sorry, Halkhepa. By the gods, I never dreamed your people would be caught in this."
Twitching her vulpine tail, the Kalmaran bowed so that her horns knew the face of the floor. "Your majesty, you've given the tools of prosperity to my people. It's our duty to learn from you, and to serve you and to serve our shared king of the western throne."
"I must say, they don't give these Kalmarans much credit in the courts. Many snicker that you've listed barbarian integrations as being among the 'great achievements' of our kingdom." Nin-Katti noted as she walked by an open window.
Ah, that was the arrogance of these people, was it not? The Gallu never sought to change the gods or force their culture upon others, or at least not to her own people; but so confidently they viewed themselves as masters of all. They had earned that right, she supposed, but never did it cease to grate on her bones at times. So many lord and lady would wander through her palace, those administrators, and express those sentiments over and over. Even their allies were prone to doing this, as Katti had done. But Halkhepa turned her eyes back to Ka-a-kigal, and her tail flicked and ears twitched every so slightly. A woman of beauty and grace, martial and merit, cunning and craft: a woman who did not disrespect the Kalmarans or walk above them, but held them by the hand and walked level to them but at the front. It warmed her chest.
"Hold your tongue and show some respect. These people are an accomplishment to bring in, but I won't prove that to you or any other of our allies! I've been conquering our empire while these critics count grains from the comfort of their palatial thrones! And I won't defend myself now of all times. Focus, Katti, focus! When did you finish your analysis?"
"Before I arrived here a month ago, and then over the course of the last month I've been going over all the information again inside of one of the workshops. Kalmaran guards and my mercenaries, of course. I had some other little moths come to me too, and whisper in my ear sweet melody to confirm my thoughts. I've told you everything alright, Ka-a-kigal. Everything! Do I need to say it again for you to drive the reality home? I am certain that the Mitanni were not only there before we were to that ceramic spire, but based on the deeper investigations of how debris had been very clearly removed, I am certain they are involved in whatever happened! Why else would they cover it up? If there is any faction in the lands involved in the disappearance of the prince, then it is Mitanni."
"And no other?"
"Who else is there for it to be? Who else could gain from it?"
"No one," Ka-a-kigal grumbled, "no one but the rumors of that succubus. It's been almost two years since he's gone missing from the record. It will be two years in but a few months. Two years of my brother being missing. Two years of my father being complacent while my mother withers in secret. Two years that no one has heard from him and no formal statement has been made. He's burnt more resource on silencing word of this then he has of investigating!"
"The response would cause great uproar of the truth got out. Selecting an heir between you and Ruk-Hengal could lead to issues from such fresh decisions. Factions forming. And sidelined claimants looking for openings."
"And that's always what it comes down to, isn't it? No matter. If you're right, the issue does remain the same: Mitanni has many assets and allies. They dig their tunnels deep, and blossom in every shadow. Even after their monopoly on automaton was partitioned. But with Mitanni involved, they couldn't possibly keep Gilgamesh secret in their ranks like this. They couldn't hold him prisoner for two years! So how haven't we heard a thing?"
"If I know one thing about Laialin, it's that she is crafty, and her people are loyal. I can't answer a single thing else. Nor can I give you advice on what to do here. You asked me to investigate the matter and delve deep into the desert, and now I have returned to you with evidence and conjecture, accusations which put Mitanni at fault for the disappearance of the crown prince."
"Almost two years..." Ka-a-kigal shook her head. "If he's alive, then what is he doing? Why is he doing? What do they gain from keeping him a prisoner?"
"Isn't that always the question? 'Why?' That's something we can't fathom right now until we know more."
Ka-a-kigal opened her mouth, but Halkhepa lost her focus for a time. They spoke words, but she did not hear them. It was quite the drama she was trapped in now due to nearness to this mighty mistress, but her fears were only for what prices would need to be paid to reach their ultimate goal: the restoration of the crown prince back to the spotlight of day to day life. Yet she couldn't help but feel her mistress had run aground, like a chariot trying to scale boulders only to find they were too great to pass. Mitanni, this house or industry or institution—she wasn't sure which—was involved in this prince disappearing after his trip to the ancient ruin. But what were they to do now? That was the debate at hand, and it was near its conclusion that the voices began to filter into her mind once more.
"...then we're going to just have to wait. If you can't bring me answers now, and I can't take action with what you've given me without it backfiring or without it leading nowhere, then we just need to find more resources and amass more evidence. Use your mercenaries and look into the black-market rumors and try to discreetly listen to the affairs of Mitanni. And look for evidence elsewhere: fan out parties in the provinces which might be between Mitanni and the ceramic desert. You said they moved by gunship? Then look into it. Crack open year records already gone by, and find data reports. There is nothing else to be done but wait, as wretched as that is. I'll have to consider at this rate filling Shudima in on what's going on. Maybe that weasel can think of something I can't."
"And what will you do while I'm busy with this?"
"Me? My duties will keep me from being detected, but also keep me from directly investigating now that I am done in the south."
"Ah, so you're here to take a break?"
"Not yet. I march north to bring more of Halkhepa's people under our fold."
"Do you mean to do literally nothing else but conquer in this time? That's hardly a fair division of labor to find your brother."
"Of course not! Can I investigate? No. Can I prepare for what might come? Yes. The powerbase in Ganzir is blind to what's going on with Mitanni, and they are negligent in finding out crown prince. That has no excuse that I'll accept. It's even possible the investigation has been stifled by Mitanni itself. So with all my conquests and all my work to finish up the northern campaigns, I am going to make sure that we continue to build up a new powerbase here in the east. I'm going to focus on turning Takahra into a court to rival those in the west. Perhaps I will use Takarha as the preparatory step for creating something more too out of these lands. There's talk of a new reorganization of the kingdom once all of Kigal is conquered. Creating a Kalmaran Sukkalmah has incredible benefits not only for this venture to clean up the Mitanni threat and get my brother back, but to also get these people on their feet as a true Irkallan population."
"So many projects, Ka-a-kigal."
"And so little time. Things are in motion, Katti. Things you and Halkhepa know well not to discuss outside of this hall."
"Of course," Katti remarked.
"Always, your majesty," added Halkhepa.
"Good," Ka-a-kigal rubbed her temples and swished her tail. "I've had enough of this talk for now. Retire for the evening, both of you. When I return from the northern expansion, we'll discuss this again. Things are in motion, and I must ensure the best for my kingdom."
(Because I can't handle those 3 tiles that I don't own)
Epilogue of the Ostemburg Rebellion
City of Ostemburg | East Sonneria
It was a gloomy morning for those waking up in Ostemburg, it was even gloomier when you consider that just yesterday the city was the site of the Ostemburg Rebellion's last stand which meant the city practically looked torn apart. Piles of rubble lay on the streets, smoke from just-burnt-out fires filled the atmosphere while carriages were transporting the deceased back and forth. The city's inhabitants were stepping out of what remained of their homes, their clothes dirty and ragged while their bodies looked malnourished - their nerves tired beyond imagination. One mother with her three children were sitting by the porch of their home... or what was left of it, the backside of their house was obliterated so they slept on their floor, on dirty, torn apart mattresses.
"Hey Marie, long time no see." A man wearing a white polo shirt and khaki slacks underneath a great coat approached the woman, whose name was Marie, bringing her out of her trance.
"Oh, hey Claus," Said Marie to the man, Claus.
"How have you been doing? I'm sorry for the loss of your home," Claus said as he sat down beside her on the stairs into her home.
"Living in half a house, no electricity, no food, no water. Never been better." Said Marie in a sarcastic, but not frustrated, tone. She was one of the people who were quick to accept their situation. Unlike others who've been wailing and crying for gods know how long, she couldn't get any peace last night from all their sobbing.
"I feel ya. I heard the Alussians are gonna bring rations soon, it'll be arriving at Karslander Park in a few hours. I was hoping you'd come with me so we don't have to wait a long while."
"Yeah sure, might leave Alicia and Heiko in Miss Caroline's care."
"Oh yeah, why's teach in Ostemburg anyways? Last I heard she went back to her home at Hubrechtstadt."
"Apparently the rebel army turned Hubrechstadt into another one of their battlefields, fought tooth and nail for every square inch of land which forced people out. Thinking about what they did to the city still sickens me," Marie said, she was mentally pissed for what the rebels did to many of their territories. They were incessantly so stubborn that they practically turned many cities into ruins just because they didn't want the royal army to take them, this resulted in thousands of refugees, most of which are still in Ostemburg because they thought the rebels wouldn't dare to risk Ostemburg's safety.
Marie was one of those who despised the Ostemburg Rebellion. They spoke of conserving Sonnerian culture but it seemed more like an excuse to form a dictatorship all while squeezing what they could out of their own people through heavy taxes all for the ``sake of freedom and preserving integrity``, 'What a pile of horse-sh**.' thought Marie.
As the two waited at their spot, surrounded by many others - all equally looking just as bad as them - they saw a caravan of military trucks drive down the road, each one had a blue cross with the iconic orange Alussian flag.
As the trucks stopped in front of the gathering crowd, soldiers began pouring out from the back before pulling out large wooden crates and setting them down at the side of the vehicles where the people were gathered. Next, they began setting up some sort of stall and hung a sign that read 'Rations Here!' in bold white text.
"Alright, everyone line up, you'll each get an equal amount of rations. I don't wanna see any pushing or infighting, else I'll eat your supposed breakfast in front of you." Yelled one of the soldiers who was dressed in a black officer's tunic with furisode sleeves and black shorts tucked tightly into his equally black leather boots.
As the crowd gathered, infighting began to sprout almost immediately.
"Hey, I was there first a**hole!" Yelled a man dressed in a blue long-sleeved collared shirt with a brown vest over it and black pants folded up to his knees.
"Shut the hell up you lying piece of sh**, you were out of the line!" Yelled another man, this time barely dressed in just a ragged tank-top and khaki shorts.
"Hey, hey! I said no infighting, both of you cut it out!" The same soldier - or officer - approached them holding a black baton.
When the two bickering adults ignored him and began to throw punches at each other, the officer gave a hand-signal to the other soldiers who then began separating the two, and when they resisted, they were knocked out cold with the stock of a rifle.
"Damn rough-housers," Snickered the officer before returning to his post. The day went on without any other issue as the civilians were scared sh**less and didn't want to see a rifle stock slamming into their noggins. Marie and Claus got their rations and returned home just like the rest.
Chen looked at the document in surprise as the imperial confederation had declared war on the Lexists to try to force them to reinstate the monarchy. What could be the motive? are they in contact with the emperor who is hiding in Sintene or do they have someone else in mind. this is a light from heaven for us, this will at least force the lexists to move to Ferro's defense. the invasion of Sanguis should slow down now that the lexists need their armies elsewhere. Chen thought about all of this while he started writing new instructions for his generals and officials. I should contact Sintene to learn if the imperial family is working with the confederation. I need to make sure that Sanguis will benefit from whatever happens. Chen signaled one of his aids who took the orders and moved to deliver them to the relevant people. sitting back down Chen looked at the gilded door leading to the reception hall he had stopped using the throne and the grand hall where it stood after the fall of Ferro. in his mind the room was a sign of his hubris and of his greatest mistake, was kingship worth killing the empire over? if he only had responded to the revolution with force instead of seeing it as the opportunity to split from the empire. Sanguis might only have meen number three in the old empire being behind bourth Ferro and adamantem but now Sanguis was first with the price of her future. when news had reached Sanguis about the death of the imperials he had been overjoyed. The tyrannical monster Otho II had been beheaded like all the commoners he had accused for his amusement. Otho II had truly been the worst emperor in Divian history over thousands of years of history no one had done worse things than Otho II. there had been tyrants with the greed of dragons, there had been monsters who enjoyed torture and worse but Otho II took the top seat. Otho II had been a known cannibal, torturer, mass murderer and finally someone who would wipe villages and cities off the map for the fun of it. compared to what he did the lexists looked like angels in the beginning. Chen beeing of a branch family of the imperial one was not exposed to Otho II antics but the economic downturn caused by him hurt Sanguis. So when the revolution happened and Otho II was executed Chen was happy to split from the empire and not look back. He had been confident that the 3 thousand years of Divian history would win against a few rebels. after that he had focused on the development of the new Sanguis kingdom with himself as the king. when he had figuratively looked up from his work and seen what had happened in the empire he couldn't be more shocked. Almost every army in the personal territory of the emperor had turned traitor following the farmer who executed the emperor. this Caligula had declared the empire to be dissolved and a People's republic to take its place. Caligula had rallied the oppressed people of the imperial territory to create a stable foundation for his conquests of the western territory of Ferro. but in the battle now called Caligula's folly he had been killed. the People's republic would have collapsed then and there if not for the actions of two of Caligula's officers Julius Pius and John Aurelius the two of them had taken a page out of the old emperor's book unifying and killing the other officials that wouldn't submit. The two together managed to stabilize the new People's republic with Pius securing internal loyalty and stability and John defending the borders of the Republic. Chen thought about how all of this could have been avoided if he only had moved to stop the newborn republic instead of decorating a throne.
As Above, So Below: Chapter 1
The Shutaiugal Merenu Frontier
SMF Facility | Betelgeuse Region
The winds were violently crashing against the cold steel box, layers of snow gathered around the building, growing nearly as high up to a person's chest. Outside, a boxy vehicle reminiscent of a truck with caterpillar tracks was parked, nearly encased in a mound of snow. It was the Shutaiugal Merenu Frontier's transport truck, and they were in the Betelgeuse Region of the Shutaiugal frigid wastelands.
The Shutaiugal Merenu was the southernmost continent and, consequently, the coldest one that was absolutely devoid of life. The white, snow-drowned building seen in this wasteland was the entrance into an underground facility-serving-as-factory for the United Province's mining industries in the glaciers. It was built a year ago and has been responsible for a majority of Alussia's mineral resource production, contributing to 47% of all metals needed for the country's development.
The facility may be small from above, but below it is a massive underground labyrinth of machinery, powered by perpetually operating steam generators that melts the abundant ice which is then boiled to generate steam by an artificial magma chasm or coal super-engine below it. The magma or coal is shipped all the way from the home islands. The factory is manned by both ordinary workers and forced laborers, it is guarded by a garrison of over 1200+, all armed to the teeth and trained specifically to live in the cold wastelands for years.
Inside, it was a busy day, sure it was always busy 24/7 but it was busier than normal right now. Convoys of transport trucks were driving back and forth across the underground highway, which was built for quicker transportation considering how massive the underground facility is - at over 0.55 kilometers in length it was necessary to build a highway system to transport millions of tons of mineral resources across the pseudo-city. At first, the planners thought a 2 lane highway would do it but the traffic jam was too immense, and there were incidents where the larger trucks got wedged, making it impossible to move them out of the way. In response, the government provided an incredibly large budget to build an underground version of the Größstraße, the government's solution in response to their traffic problem due to overpopulation. Simply, make a wide road with little speed limits.
Added to the Größstraße was a new system for the facility known as the Erhöhtestraße which consisted of a suspension railway on the ceiling which transport trains can use to traverse and not bother with having to drive on the main roads. With these two transport systems combined, production efficiency was made better and resources could be allocated much faster.
In one of the trucks, a man with albino short-cut hair and blue irises sparkling like sapphires. He wore a black flak jacket over a dark grey winter coat with black jeans tucked into his combat boots. He was currently driving an SMF Heavy-Transport Truck across the Größstraße, transporting over 15,000 pounds of raw metals towards his assigned refining sector.
His hands tapped onto the steering wheel as he followed behind a convoy of similar trucks going at a steady 25 km/h. His convoy slowed down as the leading truck stopped in front of a concrete building built into the tunnel's walls. Over its entrance was a large white sign with the words 'Checkpoint A3 - Refinery' written across it in a thick black font. These checkpoints were built to regulate directions of various vehicles, they were 2 stories tall to accommodate both the small and big transports. They were manned by the facility's local paramilitary known as the "Grensleger" or 'Frontier Army' - sanctioned by the homeland government to handle expansion and policing operations in tandem with the official army over the Shutaiugal Merenu.
As he finally reached the checkpoint, he rolled his window down to be greeted by a man of Sonnerian physique, distinguishable by his above-average pale skin and oriental eyes with the Sonnerian people's distinct orange-red irises that resembled a passionate fire - it suited them considering the Sonnerians were known for their flattering men and female beauties. In Alussia, one would be considered lucky to marry a Sonnerian regardless if they were of the same gender or not, that's how much the Sonnerians were praised.
Back to the man in question, he was wearing a white winter coat with white baggy jeans tucked into his equally white combat boots. Strapped to his back was a Karabiner Modelle - Type 180 bolt-action rifle, the standard rifle for every Alussian soldier and a very reliable one, considering it was made for the sole purpose of functioning in any terrain at the penalty of higher cost.
"Papers?" Inquired the Sonnerian patrol.
The driver opened a storage compartment and shuffled through a messy stack of papers before pulling out some form of dark orange leather-bound folded I.D.
"Here." The driver said as he extended his arm over the window and reached it over to the patrol who promptly took it from his hands and opened it, their eyes scanning its contents before taking out a green-colored sticker with an emblem and text on it which he stuck it unto the edge of the I.D, closed it and handed it back.
"Careful at Section A-32, three heavy transports collided because one had their contents spill to the opposite road." Stated the guard.
"Damn, I guess I'll have to take the A-7 route," Answered the driver back before shifting his gears and driving off, allowing the truck behind to pull in front of the checkpoint.
As he drove across the highway, occasionally passing other vehicles and seldomly the monorail trains, he slowed down in front of an intersection that had various signs pointing to various directions over them. He turned towards the direction named Refinery A-22 and drove for another few kilometers before turning once more but this time into a gigantic steel gate that stretched from one side of the road to the other. Across the gate, over a red background were the words 'Refinery-A22' in bold white text.
He took off his winter coat revealing a simple white t-shirt, this was because inside a refinery would be steaming hot considering that's where the super furnaces and smelters were located.
A loud sound of steel hitting against steel was heard as the refinery door began to open, moving apart from each other as they retracted into opposite sides of the walls. A blaring wave of heat blew into his open window as he drove into the refinery.
Inside were other heavy transports like his parked in rows facing one another, some of them had their cargo bays tilted backward as thousands upon thousands of pounds of rocks poured into funnels that glowed orange due to the extreme heat that melted the metals for the other machinery to mold and refine. Men dressed in orange jump-suits and wearing white construction helmets moved around the room; up the stairs that let them reach above the gigantic furnaces lining the sides or into lower floors and the 'hot zone' where the refining process took place.
The driver drove across the area before reaching an empty spot where he began to traverse his truck in the limited space.
When he eventually got his truck in position, he flicked some switches on the control panels behind the steering wheel, the cargo bay of his truck lifted as hydraulic pistons planted to the ground at the rear to prevent the pouring rocks from flipping his truck.
He opened the doors and stepped out, climbing down a stair and then down a ladder before wiping the sweat from his forehead with his t-shirt.
"Damn it's hot in here," He said to nobody but himself.
"You ain't seen sh** when you've been working for 4 hours straight in this oversized oven." Answered one of the orange jumpsuit-wearing workers who happened to be passing by.
'Hoo,' He exhaled, "Anyways, what's my assignment for today boss?" He said to the worker, who now identified as his superior.
"Let's see here..." The superior shuffled through the papers on the clipboard he carried. "So you're... Jan Fresser... assigned to... Furnace 9 on the 3rd floor."
"You've gotta be sh*tting me..." The driver, now Jan, groaned. The 3rd floor, called 'The Underworld' by the workers was the hottest place in the facility. There, literal streams of molten metals would flow through encased ditches which generated a tremendous amount of heat, there was also a lack of ventilation due to its distance from the coolant generators situated on the first floor or higher. The place was infamous for a lot of deaths involving accidents caused by heat-stroke and fatigue, most of these were from the forced laborers who died from severe exhaustion. The government has been planning to revamp the 3rd floors soon, but when that 'soon' will come, nobody knows.
"Well, good luck below there, Jan." Jan's superior said nonchalantly before walking off.
"F*ck me.." Jan groaned and begun his day.