Deity Empires: The High Men

Started by FarAway Sooner, July 17, 2019, 01:18:01 AM

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FarAway Sooner

Year 10:  The High Men Family Grows

The wind blew in gently through the open window, stirring a stack of papers beside him.  Celadon looked up from his ledger, where he'd been looking at the latest numbers coming in from the newly built mill to the northwest of Newhope.  The water mill was already proving itself to be a sound investment.  It's ability to grind corn and wheat provided by the local farmers was proving to be a real boon to all the townspeople.  And it also had fueled the opening of two new bakeries in town, which were both producing nice tax revenue, as well as better rolls and biscuits than he'd tasted in the decade since The Calamity.

The roads to our farms out west are now busy with daily traffic, and the explosion of dairy farms there has lent itself to richer butter as well.  We've scarcely 5,000 people here in Newhope, but that's five times the size of our city when we first founded it.  Gods, I can't believe I was only twenty-four when we came through that portal!

The Mill had not been cheap to finance, but at this point, the royal treasury seemed to be holding up.  The growth in people had driven a growth in basic taxes.  The proximity to the river had also helped to generate commerce, as had the Craftsman's Workshops which was busy building and selling furniture, utensils, and a dozen other simple luxuries to the people of the town. 

In fact, there was even enough surplus food that some of that was now being sold to outlying villagers.  We will need outlying trading posts soon, probably south and west from here, still on the river, but that won't be for at least another year or two.  Still plenty more room for people to work in that mill district before it makes sense to finance a trade district or two up or down the river.  Honestly, we need timber at least as much as we need gold.

It was afternoon, and another handful of wagons was winding their way up the road from the south, bringing more loads of timber for the growing city.  The initial lumber camp was still running strong, and several more camps had sprung up near it.  The nearby forest now crawled with lumberjacks, who stayed busy harvesting the hardwood that grew so abundantly just southeast of the town.  That said, the forges and lumber mills of the town still reported surplus capacity. 

I really wish we could get that mining town established to the west of here.  Ah well, Northfield seems to be thriving.  There's not much up there but farmland and scattered woods, so I suspect our kingdom will be getting plenty of our financing from the population growth up there, even if we get little else.  Truth be told, Northfield might grow to have even more people than Newhope, although it had nowhere near the resources to support the kind of production that Newhope was already starting to offer.

There was a knock on the door, and he raised his head.  "Come in," he said quietly.  The door opened, and Galanthas walked in.  Behind him shuffled Father Venable, dressed in the more formal robes that he'd been wearing these last five years, ever since the completion of the Shrine.  He spoke with both men often, but seldom together.  Galanthas' concerns were always eminently practical, while Father Venable's tended to be a bit more... abstract.

"What can I do for your two gentlemen today?" he asked, balancing a cheerfully polite tone with the pointed recognition that he almost never saw the two of them together.

"Two issues today, my Lord.  First off, we've received a messenger from Lord Ventris.  Northfield's annual census is nearing a count of two thousand, and the Engineers have only recently made the trip up north to begin construction.  They'll be starting off with some logging camps near the river, and they'll be laying in some farms after that.  Those two tasks should take the next few years.  In the meantime, the people up north are eeking out a living scrabbling in the forest. 

"They've also started an apprenticing program for young engineers up there.  That's well along, and they anticipate that they should have a second troop of builders up and working the land within another year or so."

"Good," Lord Celadon responded.  He didn't yet know how he'd finance the building of districts outside two cities at once, but the royal coffers had been kept well stocked for just such an occasion.  The additional treasure brought in from the various monster lairs and bandit dens in the surrounding countryside had been a large part of that.  Running a deficit was the only prudent way to grow a small kingdom at times.

"Construction of the new Library is recently completed, and Librarian Norman is now calling in the donation pledges from dozens of local families who had volunteered some of their personal texts and writings."  Galanthas paused and gave a chuckle.  "I'd be lying if I understood exactly how Gaelius Norman plans to find any of those damned books once he's collected them all and made copies, but I guess that's why he's the Librarian."

Celadon chuckled.  Sir Norman had been the librarian in his father's castle a decade ago, and he'd also been one of the young prince's personal tutors fully a decade before that.  Friar Norman had always had a passion for books, which he'd worked hard to pass along to his young charge.  Celadon had developed a healthy appreciation for the power of knowledge held in words, but he'd preferred the challenges of sword-play, hiking, and hunting to those of the dustier pursuits that Friar Norman enjoyed.

I also had a sneaking suspicion that Norman never told me how he filed his books for fear that I'd read the war stories too often and get the pages smudged.

Galanthas continued.  "After that, we'll be building the new Temple for Everlong."

As if on queue, Father Venable picked up with the narrative.  "Our current Shrine is heavily trafficked, and we are almost bursting at capacity during morning services.  I'd love to be able to reach more of our people with Lord Everlong's message.  And..." he hesitated briefly as though looking for the right words, then continued.  "And I think some more inspiring settings for the people's worship might enhance the sense of Piety that burns within us all, my Lord.  The Church always struggles to avoid splendor for its own sake, versus splendor to focus the minds of our parishioners most fully on the task of Worship.  But the new Temple will look most magnificent, and I know that our renewed faith will empower Lord Everlong to bless us with further miracles."

Truth be told, Lord Everlong had been blessing his minions more regularly these last two years.  Whatever had sapped him of his powers in the years immediately after the Calamity, he now seemed recovered from that.  The thoughts and prayers of his loyal worshippers played no small part in that, Celadon was sure.

Galanthas continued, "It'll be another year or more before the Temple is built.  After that, the Small Church will come next.  That will prove a most worthy retreat for study and meditation among his most dedicated."  And it will provide the training grounds for the first class of Warrior Priests we have seen since coming to this world. Galanthas was a devout man, but he was also eminently practical, and Celadon had little doubt that the arrival of Battle Priests would prove a great boon for the growing number of soldiers who toiled and bled in the name of Their Lord Evergreen.  That's probably a good four or five years out, he thought, but it will make a real difference.

Changing the subject, he asked Galanthas, "How are the new troops fitting in?"

"The Dwarves are fitting in quite nicely," he replied.  "They sharpen their axes more often than most of my men sharpen their own razor blades, but that's not such a bad trait in infantry men.  They were quite helpful in cleaning out the troublesome band of Dwarf rebels to our northeast, so the peninsula is now largely pacified.  Other soldiers seem to come wandering through the doors of The Wayward Pony or The Righteous Taphouse often enough, but most of them are little more than bandits.  We have yet to find any new groups who seemed worthy of offering a contract to."

As a nod to the quality of life for its townspeople, Newhope had raised its first several taverns a year ago.  The city planners had anticipated the tax boost that came from such business, but the taverns were also a magnet for soldiers and fighters from all around these wild lands.  Only six months before, it had brought Dirk Hammerhand and a handful of his lieutenants into town.  The Mercenaries had scarcely been in town three days before Galanthas had interviewed them and offered the Dwarven company a preliminary contract. 

The axemen proved a welcome addition to his three companies of Spearmen and the Musketeers who had joined their ranks six years ago now.  They had all proven instrumental in helping to clean out the last, toughest monster lairs within a hundred miles of Newhope.  This had opened the nearby lands up for settlement, while also yielding a steady flow of booty and resources.

All that was left was one last lair of monstrous Scorpions living to the west, near the far shore of this peninsula.  Their time was coming, but Celadon worried greatly about their powerful pincers and their tough, thick shells.  Casualties in this business are unavoidable, but I'd hate to see any of those companies wiped out.  They're simply becoming too valuable as they grow in experience and reputation.

"Anything else?" Celadon asked.

The two men looked at each other awkwardly, which left Celadon even more confused than he had been when the two came in together.  "Yes, my lord," answered Galanthas with an uncharacteristic note of hesitancy in his voice.  "We were wondering...  We think..."

Venables cut him off.  "You need to take a wife and produce an heir, Sire.  For the good of the people."

Galanthas looked at Celadon guiltily.  The old warrior had been a teacher and a friend longer than he'd been a subject, and at last Celadon understood the awkwardness. 

The silence in the room began to stretch out awkwardly.

"That's a subject I've been giving some thought to myself," Celadon said at last.  "I've kept waiting for the right woman, but she's had yet to walk through my doors."  Truth be told, I've been too busy running this damned fledgling kingdom to worry about a wife, much less a girlfriend.

"Marrying for Love is a privilege that not all noblemen can afford, My Lord," responded Father Venable gently.  "You are the last heir to your father's throne in this new land with us, My Lord."  My other two brothers died fighting the Daemons, and my sister fell to the Plagues that marked the beginning of The Calamity, thought Celadon, with an air of resignation.  Before the Calamity, I was second in line to the Throne, but my father trained all his children how to rule. 

Father Venable continued.  "If you were to die without an heir, succession issues... might tear this fledgling kingdom of ours apart, sire.  The handful of noblemen and leaders in Newhope and Northfield remain loyal to you, but taking a wife and starting a family might..." Venable paused again.  "...might discourage potential rivals or malcontents from emerging in the first place."  There was a long moment of silence.  "Raising a child who is fit to be king takes at least twenty years, Sire.  It is time to start doing something about that."
Celadon nodded reluctantly, but still said nothing.

"We have come up with a list of possible brides among the Ladies of the Town, if you would like, sire?" Father Venable suggested.  Celadon didn't think that he'd ever seen Galanthas look more uncomfortable.

Truth be told, a number of the townswomen had... made themselves available to him over the last ten years.  Some were pretty, a handful were even beautiful.  Celadon had avoided entanglement with any of them. 

Truth be told, I was fearful of being able to remain a Good King if I also aspired to be a Good Father in these troubled times.  Celadon was a decisive man, and a very practical man.  He was surprised by how much that admission shook him.  Now it looks like, to remain a Good King, I must become a Father as well, whether I am ready for children or not.  His Father had often lectured all three sons on how to balance the responsibilities of Rule against the responsibilities of Fatherhood.  It was not a tension that many noble men even acknowledged, but their father had been different.  And so were his sons. 

Given all the difficulties they'd faced in the last ten years, taking a wife had always seemed like a problem best put off another few years.

Celadon spoke carefully.  "I agree with you that it is time for me to take a wife.  Or at least to begin formal courtship of prospects."  He looked at Father Venable.  "Will it satisfy you two if I commit to be married by the end of next Summer?"  Galanthas reddened even further, but Father Venable only nodded.

Celadon took another deep breath.  "I think it would send a strong message to the people if we continued the traditions of old.  So much has changed, but I think an echo of things familiar would go a long ways towards reassuring people that our future is safe.  In selecting my Bride, I would adhere to the Tradition of The Maiden" 

In Old Elandria, there had been a tradition passed down since the birth of the kingdom, two hundred years before, that each King would take a commoner as his wife.  It was a symbol of the bond between a King and His People.  It also served as a bloody good reminder for any bachelor King to treat his people well, knowing that one of them would someday be his Queen, and another would be his son's Queen.  And it kept him focused on running his own kingdom well, rather than pursuing dynastic ambitions by marrying into the competing families of nobles in nearby kingdoms.

The original Tradition of The Maiden, as declared by King Vandros, founder of Ellandria and First of Lord Celadon's line, had been to marry a farmer's daughter, a girl from the countryside rather than the city.  The exact definition of "commoner" had flexed over time, as kings changed and growth in the countryside had given rise to a whole class of wealthy, landed gentry.  But two tenets of The Tradition had not changed:  The King's Bride must be the daughter of a man with no landed title, and she could not be from the capital.

Father Venable opened his mouth as if to object, then closed it again.  He clearly hadn't considered this alternative.

It was Galanthas who broke the silence instead.  With a twinkle in his eye and a small chuckle, he only said, "You've taken notice of the eldest daughter of that fishing village's Headman we visited last month, haven't you?"

Celadon gave a start.  He had noticed her during the visit, and he had thought of her more than once or twice since then.  She was a pretty lass, to be sure, but mostly he'd been taken by her impertinence.  The village had been small and rustic, no more than 150 people in total, but when he had spoken to her for a few minutes, she had stood out from the other villagers, even from her father.  There had been a knowing playfulness in her banter that he'd found intriguing.  Not so much because she was drawing him on, but because she seemed amusedly indifferent to whether he was drawn to her or not. 

Good Lord, he thought to himself, am I falling for a girl because she's the first lass who plays hard to get with me in a decade?  Then, in a shock of realization, Or is it because she's the first girl I've met here who has not seemed submissive to me?  Who has acted Queenly?  He startled himself with that last question, and shook his head as if to clear it. 

He realized that the pause in conversation had drawn out longer than he had intended.  Galanthas started to laugh.  "Should we organize a raiding party to the village, Sire?  I'm sure we could have her back here in four days of hard riding?"  He could scarcely contain his mirth at his Lord's discomfiture.

Celadon scowled at him, then started to laugh.  "I've barely met the young lady, Galanthas!  I said I'd start courting this year.  Not that I'd bed myself a wench and pop out an heir in nine-and-a-half months..."  He paused.  Then said quietly, "I hardly know her at all.  Might Mistress Thea have any insights into how I might come to know her better?  To court her...  without riding in at the head of a troop of cavalry and demanding her hand in marriage else I burn the village down?"

Mistress Thea had been a lady-in-waiting in his father's court forty-five years before.  She'd taken a hand in the raising of all four royal children.  Though she was almost seventy years old now and among the eldest in the village, she had retained her sharp mind and a tongue that could cut to the heart of a matter in but few words.  She had also been responsible for introducing Celadon's Father and Mother, and done much of the matchmaking that had resulted in their marriage more than four decades before.

Father Venable beamed.  "I'll speak with her, Sire.  I'm sure she'd be eager to assist in whatever manner she can."

FarAway Sooner

Year 15:  Of Priests and Mountain Towns

"Father Dorian, please step forward."

The young priest stepped forward.  In contrast to the more traditional members of his order, his ceremonial robes were pulled tight at his waist to allow freedom of movement, but they were still far more ornate than what he would be wearing into the field.

"Do you accept this charge from your King:  To protect your kingdom and your King, to fight his enemies and support his soldiers, and to serve your Lord Evergreen as a devout inspiration to all the patriots of our land?"

"I do," the dark-haired priest responded.  He was thirty-two years old, old for a Battle Priest, but an appropriate age for their first commander.  The Battle Priests, by the nature of their job, were younger and more physically inclined than their fellow clergy.  Some in The Church argued that to accord them full priesthood was to devalue the efforts and trials of their less martial (and generally older) counterparts, but the Priests of Evergreen had been fighting beside the soldiers of Ellandria since the founding of their country two centuries before.

"By the power of the state, and with the blessing of our Lord Evergreen, I commission you to go forth, an agent of His Will and a channel for His Holy Powers.  So say we all."

"So say we all," responded the assembled audience, nearly a thousand strong, in the main town square of Newhope.

Battle Priest Dorian rose to his feet.  He smoothed out his robes, looked at his King, and then looked out at the crowd.  "I and my brothers swear to go forth, agents of His Will and a Channel for His Holy Powers."

"So say we all," droned the dozen priests lined up behind him, all similarly attired.  They all wore the same robes that he did, and all carried a similar looking mace strung in their belts.

The King stepped back, as did Father Dorian, and the crowd waited expectantly.

The Lady Brooke stepped up and began to sing.  Her voice rang out over the crowd.  Celadon felt goosebumps arise on his arms as her sweet, pure notes floated out into the afternoon air.  The Lord's Benediction was a short hymn, solemn but inspiring, and her rendition of it was astonishingly powerful.  She hit the last few notes perfectly, her voice quavering in a way that he'd never heard from another singer in his life.

I can't believe that she's already the mother of two of my children, Lord Celadon thought wonderingly.  Their courtship had been a short but sweet one, and had ended in a joyful marriage scarcely seven months after his conversation with Father Venable and Galanthas.  He'd heard her singing to herself, and he'd been told by her mother and two of her sisters that she had an extraordinary voice.  But, until the day of their marriage, he'd never heard her perform.

It had been a tradition among her people that the bride always sang a song of celebration at the time of her union with a husband.  He had happily agreed to let her sing, as she had promised that it would be a short and sweet piece.  He was relieved to learn that he would not be expected to sing in response.

The rich, strong voice that had welled out of her that day astonished not only her husband, but nearly three hundred other notables who had crowded into the Small Church to witness The Royal Wedding.  Truth be told, I think the only people who weren't astonished at that voice were the folks who had grown up with her in Merville, and knew the full measure of her talent.  I was worried that the cityfolk of Newhope would be slow to accept my Queen, who came from a smaller and simpler and smellier village than most of them had ever known back home.  That very first day, I think her voice won over many of them who had never cared much for me.  


Later that day, after the conclusion of the ceremony for the Battle Priests, Father Dorian and his brothers were assembled in front of the Church of Evergreen, ready at last to take their leave of Their King and Their High Priest.  Father Venable blessed them, the King crossed himself, the Battle Priests all gave a crisp salute, and turned to begin marching out the gate and away from the castle. 

"I'm sure that Beng and his merry band will be thrilled to welcome them into the fold when Father Dorian finally finds them," Galanthas said thoughtfully.

The army of New Ellandria had continued to grow these last 5 years.  In addition to the 3 Spearmen, and the 2 Dwarven units, it now boasted a company of Bowmen and, of course, Beng himself.   The brown-skinned Hero had ridden into town almost 4 years ago.  He'd made a name for himself at The Wayward Pony his first night in town, drinking 3 of the Royal Guard under the table before bullseyeing an apple with his bow from 30 paces while riding on horseback.  I'd known some horse archers in The Old Kingdom, but none who could shoot as well as he even when they were stone cold sober.

Beng was a nomad and a wanderer.  His features would only have been called "Asiatic" in the Old World, but if there was a name for his people in this new world, he had not heard it.  He came from a tribe of Horsemen who lived a third of the way around the world, and had made his way to Newhope only after many adventures and more than one or two boat trips.  In a city which had few horses and no trained cavalry, Beng was a skilled Scout and a welcome addition to their troop.

While he held no official military rank or status, his deadliness with a bow, his toughness, and his natural talent for training less veteran troops quickly earned him a spot as the leader of Lord Celladon's army in the field.  In town, he was a rogue and a good-natured miscreant.  Out in the field, he was a merciless foe who tormented his King's enemy with harassing bowfire and endless hit-and-run tactics.

Beng had led the army that had cleared out the Scorpion's Nest a scarce ten leagues south of the fishing village where Lady Brooke had been born, and then proceeded to lead the army South on their quest to explore and clear out the countryside to their South and their East.  As Lord Celadon's troops had moved further away from the capital, the Monster Lairs had grown more fearsome. 
That also meant that the spoils from cleaning out such dens were significantly more impressive than they had been before.  A pair of Magical Robes, a batch of mildly enchanted Throwing Spears, and some magical Boots had also made their way into his vault over the last few years.  In truth, one of the Robes, the Boots, and the earlier-discovered Mace had all found their way into the hands of Brother Dorian and his monks.

Celadon and his advisers turned and began walking back towards the castle.  He turned to Friar Norman, who had joined them from the throng, and asked, "Any word from the caravan that set off for the mountains near the start of the year?"

Friar Norman had slowly taken over some of the administrative duties of the town, as Galanthas had grown busier managing a growing army.  That seemed to suit Galanthas just fine, as the tasks of the city had become more... administrative these last few years.

"They are halfway to their destination, and accompanied by a troop of our Engineers.  Scouts are already staking out plot lines, but we suspect it might take the settlers the rest of the year to reach their new home and put down stakes.  We've confirmed deposits of Iron in the mountains to the north of the proposed village site, but further surveys have also revealed that Farming might be... harder than we'd originally anticipated.  I think the Engineers' first task might be clearing some of the nearby lowland forests to make way for farms, but that could easily take two or three years.  The site is rich with resources, but food is more scarce than we had originally hoped.  The Settlers won't starve, but it might be a bit slower growth there than we'd originally thought..."  Norman trailed off in a rather discouraged tone.

"How goes our scientific research?" asked Celadon, in an obvious attempt to cheer the Friar up.  The Friar never tired of talking about research.

"It is going well, my Lord.  Working with some of the draftsmen and Master Builders, we think we will have the secret to improved roads figured out by the end of the year.  It's really a combination of a few different things.  We've developed some tools and techniques to smooth out our roads.  And improvements in drainage will prove immensely valuable in helping to preserve the roads during the rainy season.  Improved roads will yield better travel times, but also allow more citizens to work particularly fertile or valuable tracts of land outside the city."

Truth be told, Friar Norman and a number of the smarter heads in their village had already mastered several techniques which had not been seen since the flight to this new world 15 years before.  Improved irrigation for farms, along with newer techniques for preserving meats and drying fruits, had already bolstered food production and consumption in their growing kingdom.  Improved construction techniques for basic tools, along with significant improvements to the two man saw blade, had eased resource gathering in particular and timber harvesting in particular.  They were incremental steps, to be sure, but they added up.

The whole northern peninsula safe and secure, our first troop of Battle Priests marching south, a third city soon to be founded and 15,000 subjects in my realm.  Bless Evergreen, I couldn't have imagined this on that first day when we came through the portal to this world...

FarAway Sooner

Year 25:  A Modest Kingdom Arises

"Breggin, give the wooden training sword back to your brother!"  Lord Celadon's voice was firm, but to those who knew him well, there was a hint of frustration there.

"But, Da, he hit me first!"

"I saw, Breggin.  He slapped you on the helmet with an open hand.  That's not worth hitting him with a wooden training sword.  And besides," he sharpened his voice, "that is a training sword, and not a toy!"

Lord Celadon was a man of authority, and he was used to having his orders followed.  He'd imagined Breggin would relent here.  "But, Da--"

"Put down the training sword, take off the helmet, and go to your room.  Tell your mother that you can come out after the 2nd Bell!"

Tears started to form in his younger son's eyes, and Celadon raised a finger in a warning motion.  Preemptively, he shifted his gaze to his older brother.  "Darrin, if I hear one comment out of you celebrating what's happened to your brother, I'll have you shoveling manure out of the barn until you've filled three barrows of it!  Now begone, both of you!!  And Darrin, not a word to your brother."

Breggin made it into the hallway before a tearful wail drifted back into the room.  Darrin threw a knowing smirk over his shoulder as he exited his father's chamber through a separate door.  He turned to Galanthas.  "Was I ever that bad?  I mean, I know that me and my siblings fought, but Good Lord Above, didn't we always have some reason why we got in fights?"

Galanthas chuckled.  "You always had the best reason, Lord.  You were brothers and sisters!  It's better that they get it out on each other now, else they'll be venting it on poor mayors and lordlings in another 10 years."

"That's not the kind of answer I was looking for, Galanthas," he said sourly.  "Now, let's get back to some problems that, if we can solve them, might stay solved for longer than a solitary afternoon.  Friar Norman, please give us an update on our fair capital!"

"Much to report, my Lord.  The latest census tallies are in, and Newhope is thriving!  The addition of those new Water Wheel districts have boosted industry throughout the countryside.  They're driving increases to food production, to trade goods, and to production within the city.  The improvements to the farms just west of here lived up to our expectations from the research and design work that we did.  The irrigation in particular has given us better wheat production per acre, and also allowed the introduction of a couple additional crops we hadn't had much luck with outside private gardens previously.  We're now north of 16,000 inhabitants, and the addition of a Granary means that our birth rates have skyrocketed.  It's amazing how much more the people can feed their families, when they're confident that we have enough stored to make it through a tough winter!"

"Friar Norman, what reports do you have from Northfield, Twin Peaks, and Dublin?"

"Northfield is growing fast.  We'll be north of 10,000 folks there by the end of next year, and we've got small scale lumber camps scattered around the country side.  I'm afraid that the forests there aren't thick enough to really lend themselves to a steady flow of resources, but at least it's given the lumberjacks' families room to forage for berries and small game.  Our Engineers haven't been able to keep apace with the population growth up north.  We'll likely need to get some up there in the next few months if we want the people to stay gainfully employed."

"She's not yet our home for colleges, cows, and contentment, but she's on her way," Norman continued, and there were chuckles around the table.  There had been widespread agreement that each city needed to specialize in something, and Northfield had been the one they'd agreed should be a center for scholarship. 

"And what of Twin Peaks?" asked Celadon, a frown of concern crossing his face.

"Same as before, my Lord.  Food production there is far more limited than we'd originally hoped it would be.  There are some rich territories to be worked in the area, but there's simply not enough food to draw the people we need to work those territories.  The fact that we had to settle on those damnably wooded hills if we wanted access to the Iron deposits we'd found has really gotten us off to a slow start. 

"We might not reach 5,000 people for another 5 years at Twin Peaks.  We've got two troops of Engineers down there to clear out some more forests to make way for fields, which will then give us a chance to establish another Farm district.  But it'll likely be at least 2 more years to get that up and running, with both troops of builders working it full time.  That's one reason we've already got folks foraging in the woods up in Northfield, and NewHope will face the same issues within a year as well."

"Could we build a fifth troop of Engineers?"

"We could, but I don't envy either the Food or the Gold cost it'll take to keep them in the field.  Our work around Dublin should be done for the next five or six years, and the Engineers will be back to the mainland by the end of next year."

"How goes things in Dublin?" Celadon asked.

"It's growing fine," Norman answered in a more cheerful tone.  "The river helps us with a bounty of fish, the forest around there is scarce, and we've got plenty of plains for farmland too.  I don't think we'll have any problem growing her to size quickly, but given the scarcity of thick woods on the whole island, she'll likely be more of a trade center than she will a production center.  The townspeople just celebrated their 2nd Founder's Day, and the town numbers almost 2,500 people now.  But she's just getting started!  It'll be 10 years or more before she's caught up to where Northfield is today!"

Damn near 30,000 people, and our growth is finally taking off!  In most of our towns, anyways...

"And what of Beng's Raiders?" Celadon asked, turning to Galanthas.

Galanthas gave an appreciative snort.  "It turns out this big chunk of land we're on is a gigantic Y-shape.  Beng's Boys have cleared out the northwest part of the Y where we live.  The stuff closer to the crossy part of the Y--"

"You mean the nexus," Friar Norman interrupted.

"The stuff closer to the crossy part of the Y," Galanthas continued, with a glower directed at the friar, "seems to be a bit more dangerous, and the lads have only cherry-picked the easier sites for now.  They're heading back up the northeast leg of the Y, to see what they can find up there.  We know it's narrow, from reports that those crazy Dwarven Ballooneers brought back five years ago.  For guys who claim to hate magic, those Dwarves sure are crazy about sticks that spit fire and sacks of hot air that let them fly.  Guess I'm glad they're on our side!"

"In any event, it's mostly wilds up there.  We've found a couple nice possible city sites across the Narrow Sea there, and it's scarcely a month's sail east from Dublin to reach the far shore.  Any cities we set up there will be awfully isolated, but we've found two or three locations that would make great sites for us to settle someday.  Just near to clear that area out first..."

"As I say, Beng and his men have been cleaning up the area a lot.  They've turned into a downright respectable Army, I think.  Seven full troops of men, six of them already veterans, and the last--Father Dorian and his Priests--aren't far behind.  It's bloody impressive the tricks that some of them have picked up."

"Tricks?" asked Sir Celadon.  He'd heard some of the reports, but thought it would be useful for everybody assembled to hear all of them.

"Yes sir.  We'll start them with Dwarven Musketeers.  Jaxson has taken over nicely for his father, Kormack.  And it turns out he's lived up to his name.  He and his men have figured out how to cut notches in the side of their gun, so they can load shot and powder from the side, and it's dang near doubled their fire rate.  Those guns have always packed a nice punch, but with the heftier rate of fire, they've become the best ranged units we have.

"Our Spearmen have all learned to hurl Javelins at enemies as they charge in, before they reach them for a melee attack.  Turns out they can even do it to enemies who are attacking allies nearby.  Ain't nothing like a hail of 30 or 40 steel-tipped spears to slow down an onslaught of Goblins or Bandits!  Makes 'em easier to finish off, once they've got 4-foot long wooden shafts stuck in their shields and their shoulder blades..."

"Not to be outdone, Killian and his Bowmen have figured out how to coat their arrows in pine pitch, light 'em, and shoot at their enemies.  I hear the results are mixed, but it sure pisses the Trolls and the Undead off.

"Beng's figured out how to work his way through rough terrain without missing a stride.  If he wasn't already fast enough, he's faster now.  In open engagements, I hear he's driving them crazy riding out in front of his men and peppering enemies with bowfire as he rides circles around them. 

"Brother Dorian and his priests continue to preach to those who will listen and bash skulls in for those who won't.  They've been doing a lot to heal the troops after some of our nastier scrapes, and it's definitely showing up in the lessons that they've been learning.  They're not veterans yet, but they will be soon."

"What do we have to defend ourselves at home, while Beng and his Merry Men are out rampaging through the countryside?"

Galanthas shook his head.  "Aside from our town garrisons, not much really.  Got some of them crazy Dwarven Bomb Throwers down in Twin Peaks, and a freshly arrived batch of Horse Archers who were hired into Newhope just last year."

"We aren't worried about any assailants here on our end of the peninsula, then?"

"No, Sir," Galanthas said.  "We haven't seen hardly any raiding parties roaming the countryside, and we've thoroughly cleaned out all the monster lairs within twenty or thirty leagues of any of our cities." 

He paused a moment, and Friar Norman spoke up.  "The monsters in this land seem remarkably sedentary, Sire.  They'll fight you fiercely if they're attacked, but few of them seem to venture far from their homes.  At least, not so far!  I'd rather get as many of these sites cleaned up as quickly as we can."

Lord Celadon shook his head wonderingly.  Wouldn't it be ironic if, after a quarter century of growth in our new home, we sent all our troops abroad adventuring, and a couple bands of Goblins just wandered in and laid waste to our whole kingdom?  Surely the Universe could not be that cruel?


ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

FarAway Sooner

Quote from: JasonPratt on August 15, 2019, 07:23:55 AM
"Dun, dun, dunnnnnnnn?!"
Come on, Jason, he's not thinking anything that you and I haven't both thought at about this point in every 4x game we were ever playing for the first time! 


Of course, which is why that shock chord just rang in my head!  :2funny:
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.


I need to sit down and read this.  I've been in a funk since my wife's illness.

FarAway Sooner

Year 36, A Kingdom Emerges

"Which of our six cities would you like to start with first, my lord?" asked Norman solicitously.

Celadon looked at him suspiciously.  Though Minister Norman was 8 years his senior, everybody on the High Council had been treating him solicitously in the year since what the Healers had referred to only as "his heart problem".  I'm not a god damn child, to be swaddled and patted on the back until I burp, he thought.  But did not say.  But I think I am getting grouchier.  Maybe that's why they're treating me so gently?  I'm too young to feel this damn old.  Ah well, turning old is not for the faint of heart.

"I'll let you pick," he said, the edges of his mouth curling up in a slight amusement that was only half faked.  He was certain that Norman rehearsed for these meetings.

"Northfield is past 15,000 people now, and she'll be at 20,000 in another 7 years.  She's ripe in crops, but is still limited by modest resource production.  She's quickly becoming the center of higher learning for our kingdom, in terms of technical research and magical research.  She should have her Magical Library finished in the next year or so, and after that, it'll take another two or three years tops for her to complete the first Magic Tower in our land.  Within five or six years, we should have wizards joining our troops in the field for the first time!"

Minister Norman was beaming at this last statement.  He had never been a practicioner of the mystical arts himself.  But he'd always been a man of knowledge, and from the first, he'd championed the role of learning in this fledgling kingdom of theirs.  If he'd had his way, he would have pursued more technical research paths in the city structures raised across the kingdom.  But the decision had been made five years before to push for magical research and reach for wizards first, and it was a goal that the Minister of Knowledge had enthusiastically embraced.

"Dublin continues to grow," he continued.  "She's at almost 7,000 people.  We had to make choices with her about whether to settle arable farmland first, or settle the rolling plains and scrub forests first.  We opted for the scrub forests.  She might be a thousand people behind at this point, but the greater resource production means she's been able to build more structures in her city center.  In the next few years, we'll start getting a few more farms and commerce districts up and running in that farmland area.  I'd guess within another few years, she'll be a smaller version of Northfield."

"Twin Peaks also grows, but more slowly.  She is, in truth, the forge of our country, although she remains smaller than we'd hoped she would be when we'd first built her.  She's just north of 7,000 people, but Dublin will pass her within the next few years.  There's just not enough arable land around her to generate the kind of growth a thriving city needs.  We had plans for her to serve as the arsenal of our kingdom, and she is almost halfway done with the second troop of Swordsmen we'll be able to field.  The Swordsmen are worth their weight in silver on the battlefield--they are far more durable than any other melee troops we've fielded--but we have so few of them.  It'll likely be another 10 years Twin Peaks becomes the sort of city that we'd hoped she would be.  I think we all learned a lesson there about the importance of food stuffs for any young city." In other words, you were so captivated by the vision of that iron mine to the north of the town that you forgot you'd need to feed your miners!  Ah well, as Norman says, lesson learned.

"Solen is tiny, but already growing at an astonishing clip.  She's got rich fisheries just off her southern shore, and that has dramatically surpassed our expectations for early growth.  Building even a modest-sized dock will boost our bounty from the oceans there even more dramatically, and provide far more villagers a chance to fish those waters.  She lacks the iron mines that Twin Peaks boasts, but with the food surpluses she's creating, she'll have resources and production surpassing Twin Peaks today in less than 10 years.  Perhaps 5."  Lesson learned.  It's the food, my Lord.  It always starts with adequate food to grow a population base.

"Newhope continues to thrive.  She'll have 25,000 people by the end of this month, and she's adding another thousand every year!  She continues to lead all our cities in people, gold, production, and resource production.  We have enough advanced lumber mills churning out timber that she's even starting to stockpile resources beyond what's required to feed her production needs.

"Newhope is, of course, the spiritual capital of our people.  The fervent prayers of the people bring glory and power to Everlong in a way that we only could have dreamed of when we first arrived here 35 years ago.  Brother Dorian has taken command of our first company of Battle Bishops, and though they have only fought in a handful of battles, they have already exercised a decisive influence on the outcomes.  Lord Peng speaks most highly of them in his recent communiques from the battle in the south."

Minister Norman continued on, but for a moment, his voice grew faint to Lord Celadon.  It's that damnable light headedness again, he thought, panting even as he tried to hide it from his fellow Council members assembled around the table.  It will pass.

" the Dark Elf citizens in Naes are producing some taxable income for us, and they are harvesting a modest supply of resources that we could share with other cities.  The town is even growing, if slowly, but the townspeople hate us.  We will never be able to raise more significant buildings there.  The city is and will remain a dirty hovel.  If we want to make best use of that land, when conquering future cities, we need to raze them to the ground and be prepared to replace them with cities of our own."

Lord Celadon noted a concerned look or two, and a quick squeeze on his arm prompted the King to turn his head.

His elder son, Darrin, was looking at him with concerned eyes, but Celadon shook his head preemptively.  A meeting of the High Council is not the time to ring our hands over the health of a King who is growing older.

"That probably provides a good point for us to transition into a discussion of the war in the south.  Sir Kalinor?"

The grizzled knight leaned forward.  He'd been at the meetings for six months now, and as he'd grown more comfortable with the meetings, his own stolid demeanor had begun to emerge.  "The war with the Dark Elves go as well as we could realistically hope," he said.  "Lord Peng's army has proven itself more than a match for anything we've seen from the vile worshippers of Zinfek.  The addition of the Swordsmen, the Bishops, and the second troop of Musketeers has left the Elves with no answer.  After razing the Drow village in the north and defeating the army there, it has taken that army a little while to rest and refit, but they are again ready for battle."

And we've replaced that unit of veteran spearmen with whom Galanthas had been traveling.  I told the tough old fool that he was getting too long in the tooth to wander around battlefields, but he'd stubbornly insisted this would be his last campaign.  I should never have let him go, thought Celadon morosely.  And why the Hell is my neck hurting now? 

"At this point, the only real challenge is that we need to build a strong enough army to defend Naes when Lord Peng takes his army into the field.  Those cursed Elves sent a raiding party towards Solen, but a rushed detachment of Swordsmen and the timely arrival of a troop of mercenary Dwarven Balloon Bombers was enough to supplement the local militia and the Elves didn't even try their luck at an assault.  That band is now returning, but I suspect Lord Peng's army will be able to cut them off and destroy the Elves' forces piecemeal."

"After that, there's no reason to think that we can't take each of the two remaining Elven cities.  They've simply not shown that they can stand with us.  If all goes well, we should have those last two cities cleaned out within the next three years.  There are some well-developed fields around both of the Dark Elf towns, and it's my understanding that both New Hope and Twin Peaks will have settler caravans ready by the end of the war.  It may be 10 years before we have both city sites resettled and up and running, but the Elves' days are numbered.  We can win the war even more quickly if..."

The pain in his neck exploded into Celadon's head, and he lost focus on Kalinor's words.  The next moment, he was on the floor, on his knees, with no memory of how he got there.  His son's strong hands were under his shoulders, holding him up.  "Father, are you alright?"

"I...  I..."  The pain made Celadon's head spin.  His advisors were quickly around him, and he was vaguely aware of a cushion being placed under his head as he was laid upon the floor.  "Kalinor," Celadon muttered, "we must finish the war with the Elves before another rival reaches our shores.  One foe at a time..."

"Father, hush!" Darrin barked.  "Norman, go fetch Father Anson.  Tell him to come with all haste."

The pain now had spread to his chest.  He remembered this feeling, but this time it was much, much worse.   "Darrin, he said, fetch your mother, and your brother and sister.  I need to tell them all how much I love them..."  He trailed off and closed his eyes for a moment.

"Father, stay here with us.  This Kingdom needs their King!"

Celadon shook his head slowly, a sad smile creeping across his face as he opened his eyes again.  "This Kingdom already has their next King, and he'll do fine.  Tell our family that I love them...  Tell our people that I love them...  I am proud of what we have done here in these last 35 years.  Finish the Elves, my son, and spread the glory of Our Faith to the four corners of this new world." I come now to stand by your side, My Lord Everlong.

Celadon's eyes fluttered, his breath gave out a last rattle, and he collapsed back to the floor.  Thus ended the reign of Lord Nedwin Celadon, First King of New Ellandria.

FarAway Sooner

Man, Airboy was right!  4X AARs are really hard to right.  At least, not without getting really repetitive.  It's been fun writing this, but I unexpectedly landed a job with about 3 days' advance warning last week! 

That's great news for me and the whole family, but it puts a serious crimp in my gaming time.  I can actually start playing the game, or I spend the next two months writing this whole thing up to its epic conclusion (hint:  the Good Guys win, but it takes about 200 turns longer than it should have because I made some pretty stupid mistakes and a reasonably intelligent AI punished me for it quite decisively). 

I might still come back at some point and give an condensed history of the next 100 years of the Celadon Dynasty, but I'm going to pause for now and actually play the game a little while!  I will close with a few random comments.

1) The game play itself focuses around your deity much more than was reflected in my story:  What powers he has, what spells he learns, whether to invest mana in powering up your god or casting spells to help out individual units, what special abilities she has, etc.  I chose not to focus on that for the narrative because having a god for your main character just removes a lot of the tension you want in a strange story.  I also felt like those mechanics would be really hard to explain within the confines of the story.

2) I'm absolutely captured by the city development dynamic of this game.  It's quite deep if you want to go deep, but not so utterly complicated that you have to get a PhD in Civil Engineering to run a city.

3) I thought I had a really bad-ass army until I went onto Level 2 of a Dungeon for the first time.  I then realized I had a moderately bad-ass army with not nearly enough infantry.

4) I really enjoy how different factions play differently.  The game could still use a little more flavor (e.g., I wish the different schools of magic played more differently), but the developers continue to grind out new content at a regular pace.  I think I'll try being the High Elves next. 

5) I can only imagine what this game is like at the higher levels.  I was only about 1/3 of the way up the power curve here, and the magic items I had seemed almost trinket-like.

I may come back some time, but for now work and more gaming time calls.  Thanks for reading, guys! 


That was a good place to end.  O:-) Compared well with the classic written narrative AAR "Book of Saxson" for the original Master of Magic.  :notworthy:
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.