Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

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Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

PostPosted by microcuchon » Wed Jul 26, 2017 15:31

The sun was setting over the Jade Gates and the air smelled of salt and spices when the galley docked at West Qal Harbour. Prince Surindos Qar Xath saw his father approaching escorted by four golden coated Qal men-at-arms and he left a sigh of relief out. He had expected him to be mangled, blinded or worse, but he just looked tired and haggard, with bags under his eyes and his eternal sour smile in his thin lips. He had learned to love that smile since he was a little kid, playing at the magnificent gardens of Fort Qal and had really feared not to see it anymore.
They embraced and kissed as soon as they were close enough. and the tears they wept were not the ones every Qartheen man learned to feign since early years, but the real, heart felt ones.
-"Did they treat you well, father?
-"As well as you can expect from a couple of vipers. They would not dare to harm me, tough. I was too valuable for them, and they know quite well what happens to the enemies of our family."
Surindos knew for sure. He still remembered his father sawing the Dothraki savage´s leg with his own hands, in front of the whole court of Qarth, assembled at the Hall of a Thousand Thrones.
-"He still lives"
-"Because I let him so. Had I killed him, with no male heir, some other khal would have claimed the Lhazareene lands. With only one leg left, he will be ruling weakly for a few more years, but he will be no threat to the Qartheen lands any more. He may even have time to pump a little boy out of his wife legs, and give us some more years of peace and easy slaving"
The Prince never stopped to be amazed by his father´s political acumen. Until a few months ago Grand Prince Semython the Holy had been the most powerful man in the Ancient City of Qarth, which he ruled wisely from seven years, after taking it from the Qar Maath family, hent bell into striping the other noble families from their rights, in a quite bloodless coup. But he also had his weakness, as the recent events had proved.
-"What are the news from the capital? The Urrathon bitch has taken well care to keep me uninformed"- Semython asked. His son was happy he still had the will to care.
-"Sallor rules form the Hall. Nobody from the Merchant Families doubts I will take the Throne when he dies, which hopefully won´t take long, but some of the Pureborn are scheming to bring Prince Lotho back to power."
-"As it is expect from them. They could not win the war fairly, so they had to resort to intrigue. And now they are back to it. Has Sallor behaved?"
-"He asked for the Jade Point trade post, but after I denied his request, he just gave me the High Admiral seat and send me here to keep the Jade Sea from corsairs. He would do well to remember he is no more than an upstart servant who was lucky enough to marry one of our women, and that his father and grandfather served our House for decades".- Surindos was still furious about it.
-"He has a right to try. Our family also started as someone else´s servant, as any other family,no matter how pure they claim to be. But we have not to worry about him, a trade post less can barely hurt us and his dynasty is going nowhere. I guess you still have his daughter and my beloved former wife under arrest"
-" Ezerre is at Fort Qal, safe and sound, my dear father. But I have a question. You mentioned that our family also started by serving other family. Do you speak of Sybassion the First, founder of our House? As I had been told, he was a free man, the only son of a minor cinnamon dealer."
-"He was. But he pledged his loyalty to a master, as every man must do when he starts his bid for power. I also had to suffer a master too, when I was younger, and a second master after the first one died. And now you are my new master"- this time his smile was warm, not just his usual dry one.
As they talked, they approached Shan, Semython´s favourite war elephant, that had been set up to take them back to Fort Qal, and their one hundred strong pikemen and archers escort.
-"I have missed him"-the deposed grand prince And I have missed this island, it is the most beautiful place in the world. Qarth is powerful, but it is a rotten city"- A crowd had gathered at the city centre to cheer their old Prince back. Qal economy was flourishing and despite the recent political turmoil the island has been untouched by war, disease or famine for decades. Surindos had also missed the island. He had left it more than fifteen years ago to rule the Jade Point Fort and had only returned a month ago.
-"When our Founder Father, Sybassion, arrived here more than one hundred and thirty years ago, this was but a ruin left by the Farosi who ruled it under the Valyrian Freehold patronage. An epidemic had swept most of the population and the survivors barely managed to scrap their living out of the land. But he brought trade, and invested a lot of the money he earned from the Jade Sea trade routes in restoring the island back to its former glory. But before he could do that, he had to serve one master after the other, until he killed one of them because he would not allow him to colonize it. He was a stubborn man, without a doubt. Did you have no time to read through the scrolls at the library?"
-"Barely, father, and the ones that have kept me occupied are the ones pertaining our finances. Our trade routes from Jade Point and Faros keep bringing us massive wealth, but I intend to open a new one here, so we can give the land away to our cousins if needed in the future while still keeping us well provided. I have also dispatched young Sybassion to the City of Jade Point. He is proved to be an excellent trader, but he has no stomach for war, so I thought he would be better serving the family interest there"
-"Wise choices, both of them. Is our army into fighting shape?"
-"It is. Thirteen thousand men and a full compliment of war galleys to carry them anywhere. I have also tasked Pyat with the building of a new war flagship and Xaro with training a new household guard and drilling the men from the Fort. There are dire news from Pongar, thought. Your beloved half brother died fighting some war for his new Yi-tish allies and his son lands have been raided by Zabhadies. I have offered help, but he refuses.
-"My dear nephew is even more stupid than his bastard father. He wasted all his life hiding from raiders and plotters only to be stupidly killed helping the monkey men. Well, he liked to display stupid bursts of courage very ocasionally. I still remember when he fought that duel for Egon´s life; he got the glory and I got the gain. And now his son enjoys being fucked up the arse by cow worshipers. I don´t even know why my father bothered enslaving that Pongari, that shitty half island has been no more than trouble for our family. He kept saying that it was a long term investment that it would eventually pay off, but that is still to be proven true. Any news from Port Moraq?"
-"Shan Hussain got himself murdered, according to rumor, and Abdul of Nahos has taken over. Hussain´s son, Fadl, has run to Sielekar and declared himself independent, but he barely commands a large fort and a token army, he will be easy prey. Before the old Shah died, though, the Kamali from Vahar have conquered Nur-Anji. They angrily demanded our trade posts there to be closed,but I learned well from you how to convince them otherwise."
As the entourage left the city and started the ascent to Fort Qal, a rider quickly approached them, carrying a letter that had just arrived to the port in a fast ship form Qarth.
Surindos tried to hand the letter to his father, but he stopped him. -"You are the Prince now, I am just a retired old man". It bore the purple of the Ancient City and was signed by the Grard Prince Sallor the Second. Surindos read it carefully.
-"It is war, father. Pureborns Yorka and Gorys of Port Yhos have finally decided to show their hand and declare for Lotho"
-"¿Only those two?" They are lost, then."- the old prince smirked.-" But we need to hurry up, you now have a war council to gather".


Hi all, this is my first attempt at a CK2 AGOT AAR. I love writing but I am a bit lazy for the screenshots, so I will concentrate on the narrative and only show the occasional screenshot (unless there is a massive demand, I might do the effort then:)
This AAR is based on a game I have been running for 167 years so far. The game has been so dammed beautiful and interesting that I felt compelled to tell the story.
In an I hope not so pitiful attempt to follow GRRM´s style, I will try to tell past events as part of the main story, and try to focus on telling a story with a mood and theme.
Also I may also comment "offscreen" about the "game" itself.
As you might have deduced by the post, I have been playing a merchant family form Qarth. I started as a mere baron level 16 years old guy and after more than 150 years of war, trade and scheming I finally managed one of my characters to rule Qarth, only to be deposed 7 years later.
I hope taht you enjoy it and to update with news form the Jade Gates soon.
microcuchon
 
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Re: Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

PostPosted by Mistefar » Thu Jul 27, 2017 00:14

In-te-res-ting.

That's the word that describes why i chose to read this AAR,, and it surely paid off, it is indeed interesting and well written (though i don't think I've read enough to know whats good or whats bad) and i look foward to see what happens in this foreign land.

You just need to format it better, ya know? Make it look prettier, separating paragraphs with little spaces so it looks less dense and extensive, and, yes, putting screenshots, which is kinda of what makes AARs diferent from other pieces of literature.

Taking all of the above out, Interesting!
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Re: Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

PostPosted by microcuchon » Thu Jul 27, 2017 02:25

Thanks for your kind feedback, I will update tomorrow and I will include some screenshots. I hope you liked Semython because he is still surprisingly into the Game :)
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Re: Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

PostPosted by microcuchon » Thu Jul 27, 2017 16:36

Semython

The former Grand Prince was seating at his favourite silken couch by the water fountains, sipping iced lemon juice with spices and watching the children play. For the last three years he had been enjoying his retirement, spending time with his third wife and their youngest son Ognos. When Izembara had miscarried their daughter a few months ago, he had been at her side, helping her overcome the grief. It had been easier for him, likely because at his age, death was no stranger to him.

His mind wandered back to his youth, and his first wife, Gylenios. She had been one of the Pureborn from the Qar Maath family, but had dedicated her life to her husband´s family. Semython still remembered the night he had told her about the plan to conquer Faros. -"We have the army and Faros is in disarray, but we need to justify the invasion in front of the Puteborn and none of my councilors is suited for the task-" he had complained -"I am on a mind to abandon the whole issue"-. "I will do it, if nobody else can"- she had answered. Every argument Semython had tried to convince her had failed. Two weeks later she had departed in secret and in less than one year she had completed the mission and convinced King Pyat the Third and the Pureborn Council to authorize the invasion. Since then, the city of Faros has been a key source of wealth and fighting men for House Qar Xath.

Chien, his trusted Yi-tish bodyguard, came into the gardens when the sun started to set. -"Council is assembled, my Prince"- Semython hd not expected to be in a Council anymore, but recent events had changed his plans. The war against Yorka and Gorys had been an absolute success, and he was proud his son Surindos had played such a key role. He had led the Qartheen army that had lifted the siege of Lehqron and split the rebel forces in two. Before they had had the time to recover, he had laid siege to Qarkash, Yorka´s seat. In the meantime, Qar Xath troops had crushed the Dothraki that were raiding the capital and later joined the siege. When the Qarkash garrison had surrendered and handed the pretender Lotho and his daughter Yorka the younger to Surindos he had not hesitated. With a single swing of his sword, Surindos had beheaded the Pureborn and ended the war in the spot. A few months later both rebel leaders had died, Gorys destroyed by a cancerous tumor and Yorka assassinated by one or another of the numerous enemies she had collected throughout her long and bloody life.

But the struggle was not over, yet It was just being fought in a different way. Navathos Qar Maath, the youngest son of old King Pyat and the real architect of Semython´s defeat, still kept the loyalty of the Sorrowful Men and defied the authority of the Grand Prince from the shadows. Everyone in court was afraid of manticores and poisoned knives in the dark, and Surindos had made a huge mistake when he had tortured Lucerre Qar Qethos, Yorka´s spymaster, in a misguided attempt to avenge his father´s kidnapping. The Qar Qethos had been one of the most influential families in The Thirteen, but when the guild lost its privileges many of them had flocked to the Qar Xath court. Methyso, an ambitious young bastard who had even made to Qal Seneschal, had been found conspiring with other court members to murder Prince Surindos, but when the guards had gone to his chambers to arrest him he was gone. Now Semython had taken his role and the isle of Qal was prey of suspicion and fear.

All of the Council but Prince Surindos was assembled when Semython entered the room. Sloth had always been his son's weakness, so much he had decided to hold council at evening to avoid the suffocating summer heat, and he was still late. Semython decided to start with minor financial issues and when Surindos finally arrived they moved into more serious ones. The last Farosi ruler of the castle of Gesbhad, a girl of merely four, had died with no living relatives, and Surindos decided to grant the castle to Lotho the Lucky, the family trusted Justiciar, because all Qar Xath family members were busy managing the family trade posts. Howd, the wildling spymaster and former Sorrowful Man, reported on the suspects of being supporting plots at court, both in Qarth and Fort Qal; Pureborn Sybassion of Matsar was now in league with the Sorrowful Men and trying to murder Semython. -"We will do nothing"- the old prince said. -"I am an old man and death will surely grab me before his assassins do. And while he is focused on me, my beloved son is safer". The spies and traders from Yi-Ti had brought news; the Yellow Emperor was raiding the Kingdom of Asshai for slaves, and there were reports of a mysterious new disease that drove men crazy in Yin, former capital of the Empire and at the moment in the hands of Queen Ferrega Qar Saanas, the great grand daughter of Sallor, the first to call himself King in the long history of the Ancient City of Qarth. King Sallor had taken Yin from the hands of rebellious slaves and managed to defend it from the Yellow Emperor when he came back with more than fifty thousand warriors, but when he died his son Ognos the Meek had split the kingdom, granting The Hall of a Thousand Thrones to the accursed Qar Maath family and leaving his infant son at the head of the war ravaged Yi-tish kingdom. It was a miracle the Qar Saanas still held the Principality, albeit under the nominal rule of the Yellow Emperor and thanks to the occasional help from House Qar Xath, which held some minor trade posts at the Yin coast.
Finally Prince Surindos announced that he had received a letter from Grand Prince Sallor. It summoned him to lead the army against a peasant revolt in the northern border, but most significantly, it announced the birth of his son by his new wife, a Naathi rumored to be a witch. -"This is outrageous"- Surindos said -"he broke our agreement and this new son of his will inherit the trade ports and the rights to be elected for the Hall. I should use the army to fight him instead of the peasants"- Semython was remiss to oppose his son in front of the council, but he still decided to speak: "That son is actually a boon to our House. He is too young to be a threat, and he will stop The Thirteen and the Mathaton, who still hold Spicer Port, from claiming a seat in the High Guild, as the Tourmaline Brotherhood did some years ago. And if the Merchant families start fighting each other openly, it will be bad for business and give the Pureborn an undeserved advantage. I advice you to follow Sallor´s orders and crush those peasants. We might even be fortunate enough for the Sorrowful Men to catch up with him before you even come back"- -"I will follow your wise counsel, father. We can retire now"-

After the council meeting Semython was feeling restless. He went to his cambers and kissed Izembara goodnight, but instead of getting into bed with her, he marched to Fort Qal impressive Hall of Records, where dawn surprised him with old parchments still in his slightly trembling hands. He ordered breakfast for two from an old slave woman and commanded her to fetch his son as soon as possible. Surindos entered the room half an hour later, looking angry for being waken up so early, but he knew his father enough to read the look in his eyes and understand this was important.

-"Sit down"- Semython said.
-"Have you spend the whole night up?"-
-"I have. Yesterday, during the council meeting, some childhood memories came to my mind. When I was boy, no older than Ognos is now, my older brother Sybassion ruled our House. The Prince of the Spicers offered him a sizable amount of gold in return for a great number of our field slaves. He doubted whether to accept or no, because we needed those slaves for our citrus plantations and the Farosi, Moraqi and Vahari raiding lands were depleted. He then heard rumors form sailors that the God Empress of Leng had vanished and the isle was weak and divided. No Qartheen had ever slaved so far, but he thought this would be a great opportunity, sold the slaves and ordered the army to raid Leng. It was the only war our family lost until Yorka Urrathon´s lackeys kidnapped me and forced me to abdicate on Sallor."-
-"How could that happen? You said Leng was weak and divided. Did someone betray our House?"-
-"I was just a little boy then, all I knew is that after two years of campaigning my brother decided to cut loses, brought what was left of the army back and paid compensation to the Lengi. I heard stories, though, whispered by the servants, of men going crazy and attacking each other for no reason. When my brother died and I took over, a decade later, the army had still not recovered the numbers, and the few old men who had been to Leng and survived refused to talk about it. Also, when your older cousin Vogarro went mad and threw himself to the sea, the rumor went that he had inherited the Lengi curse from his father. You know me well, and are aware I am not a person to put my faith into magic or prophecy, but the reports from Yin reminded me of those times and I decided to have a look through our family records. What I have found out is quite disturbing, but if it is true, you must be ready for the danger to come"-
-"But what is that danger,father?"-
-"A curse and a disease. One so deadly that, if left to spread, will make the great sickness that almost wiped our family out a century ago look as a mild flu. The Hall of the Thousand Thrones is important no more. If we can not stop this curse, we will just be kings over a pile of dust and dead bodies"-
microcuchon
 
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Re: Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

PostPosted by Mirith » Thu Jul 27, 2017 23:28

Hi!
Sorry to interrupt entirety of thia topic.
Just wanted to say... I'm Really enjoying the AAR. It's Always awesome to see Essos and Jade sea AARs.

Also... I was wondering - do you want some details about the stuff, which is happening in East? Mainly Leng? There's a little spoiler topic here, which may describe, what's happening in Leng (so you may correctly write down the events behind Leng).

Anyways... thrilled for next part of the AAR.
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Re: Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

PostPosted by microcuchon » Fri Jul 28, 2017 02:02

I am in that thrad :) I have updates on what is happening with the play.
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Re: Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

PostPosted by microcuchon » Fri Jul 28, 2017 18:08

Mundello Qar Xath was sweating profusely under his polished copper half helmet. He looked to the fully manned walls of Karazuishan castle and, as the skilled commander he was, estimated that it would be impossible to storm, even with the fifteen thousand strong host that was gathered around the massive Yi-tish fortress. Prince Surindos had paid a significant price for this army, he knew it well; his two daughters, Ternesia and Gylenios had to be married to Pureborn nobles, old widower Ognos Qar Xarnath and young indolent Gorys of Port Yhos. The allies had proven to be useful, Ognos army had defeated a Yin host almost twice its size in open battle and later, when Gorys reinforcements arrived, had taken the Jade Road. Taking Yin castle would be a much easier way to end the war, he thought. It was only a few weeks march away, and although it was an even bigger castle, it was severely under garrisoned and, according to the scouts reports, under supplied. But he had very strict orders from Prince Surindos not to do it.

The whole campaign has been baffling for Mundello. He knew his House history well, and so far, it has always used war in an extremely judicious way, when profit was high and risk low and this approach had made them into the most powerful family in Qarth, ahead of any of the Pureborn or any other merchant house. That is why he was so surprised when Prince Surindos tasked him with making war against Queen Ferrega and seizing the town of Xianqui form her. Ferrega was a Qartheen, and a faithful believer in the Warlocks´power, so it did not seem too wise to alienate a potential ally for such a small prize. She was also a nominal vassal of the Yellow Emperor, who even though was still campaigning in Asshai, would not hesitate to send troops to defend what he considered his lands. Even stranger was the command not to take any prisoners, high or lowborn; they were fighting civilized Qartheen, not savages, and House Qar Xath had always prided in treating even slaves kindly, it only because damaged ones sell worse. Had old Prince Semython, who Mundello idolized as a hero, not been at Surindos right side while he gave the orders, he would had refused to obey.

So they had landed in Xianqui and the neighbouring province of Quizuishan and quickly taken them while Pureborn Ognos´s troops repelled Queen Ferrega´s at the western coast of Yin. Later his scouts had informed him of a superior force, sent by the Yellow Emperor, but they had planned for it and quickly embarked away and landed behind them, leaving them surrounded and out of supply in an already heavily looted land.

He dis not start to understand until the battle of the Jade Gate. After her defeat against Pureborn Ognos, Queen Ferrega had send her remaining army to siege Ognos´s lands, south of the Jade Gates straits that separate the Isle of Faros form the mainland, and Mundello had been tasked with sailing there and lifting the siege. When both armies faced each other for the decisive battle, he realized the people they were up against might have been fellow Qartheen in the past, but there was little humanity left in them. The battle itself was easy, the enemy army could barely fight in a disciplined way and was quickly surrounded and slaughtered. The hard part came later, when they had to murder the survivors one by one and the hills turned red with blood. He had personally beheaded their leader, who had been a respected general but it was now a sobbing raving lunatic, and was still plagued by nightmares about it.

Now the war was almost won, with all of Queen Ferrega´s lands but Yin and Karazuishan occupied and her forces destroyed. The Yi-tish Emperor, threatened by savages at North and unable to advance in Asshai, had called the relief force away. The lieutenant at his side awaited for orders- "We will siege the castle. Send the Pureborn men to start surrounding it, removing local villages garrisons, while our ones start digging trenches and building the siege machinery"- He preferred to give orders this way, through trusted commanders, instead of wasting endless time in useless war councils with people who barely understood what they were talking about.

When he arrived back to the commanding camp, there was a small crowd gathered around his silken orange and gold pavilion. He unmounted and hastily entered the tent, where the captain of a merchant cog stand waiting for him. He recognized the man, he was one of the House most trusted agents. He trader was surely bringing bad news, because as soon as he saw the commander he started to weep copiously. Mundello had no patience for this nonsense, and bode the man to speak quickly.
-"Noble Prince Surindos, my lord. He is..."- the messenger increased his sobbing and weeping -he is dead... He felt from one of Fort Qal towers"-
-"Did he kill himself?"-
-"Our brave Prince would have never done that"- the captain seemed genuinely shocked about the question. - "There are suspicions of foul play by the Qar Quethas and the Sorrowful Men, but no hard evidence to be presented to Grand Prince Sallor"-
-"Those scoundrels do not respect the law or the Grand Prince authority anymore, they will never surrender to justice. Is Prince Semython leading our House now?"- as far as he knew, Surindos had not nominated an heir yet, so leadership would revert to the old man.
-"He is. But he has been summoned by the Great Prince to lead a campaign against rebellious slaves in Tyrosh"-
-"So typical of Sallor"- Mudello could nor stop himself from thinking aloud -"now that Symethon enemies are dead he knows many Pureborn and Merchant families will ask for his return. The people had not forgotten that he kept the peace and made Qarth prosper for seven golden years, and are fed up Sallor´s villany and depravation"-
-"There is one more thing, my lord. I am hesitant to give you a command, but Prince Symethon asked me in person to do it. You are to return to Qal and assume the leadership of the army from there"-
-"Me? Why? There is a war to fight here and my elder brother Xaro has been doing the job more than adequately. Has he also...?"
-"Your dear brother is safe, and Gorys the Volantene can lead the army in your instead, but you are to be kept safe,my lord. Prince Semython has declared you his heir"-
microcuchon
 
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Re: Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

PostPosted by JDSweet » Wed Aug 02, 2017 03:07

I love this. Please don't stop. EVER!
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Re: Spices, Jade and Gold: A Story of House Qar Xath

PostPosted by microcuchon » Wed Aug 02, 2017 20:46

Thanks, but I have bad news and the game was hit by a bug. I have a few more stories form it, but a sudden ending.
I currently started a similar game (same family, actually) at a different bookmark, and a couple of decades into the game it is already getting very interesting
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