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Zoran

The Zoranian Civil War

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April 30, 1420
11:00 AM Over Time

“Atsil Ani’-Wah’ under orders of the Grand Defense Council you are under arrest for treason!” yelled a soldier from the other side of the door. Atsil looked at the door in fear as the thought of being put in a prison cell crossed her mind.

I didn’t ask for this! I don’t want to be queen! I wasn’t part of any of this!

She thought to herself. The soldier banged on the door again,

“Atsil Ani’-Wah’ if you do not open the door this instant we will be forced to use force.” yelled the soldier. Atsil could hear the soldiers planting charges on her door. She just stood there, paralyzed with fear.

Great Spirit please help me!

“Hey what’s the deal here? Don’t you guys think that ballistic breaching is a bit much for a normal apartment door?” said a muffled and unrecognizable voice. The sound of gunfire followed along with the sound of bodies hitting the floor, people being grappled, and a...wilhelm scream? Atsil leaned against her wall and slid down to the ground out of fear. Then there was silence and no sound was outside...until there was a slight click heard from the door followed by another click and a third click. After the third click the door unlocked and the door opened to reveal a man in a black reflective helmet mask in some strange black armor. Behind him were the unconscious bodies of six Zoranian soldiers and the man looked completely unharmed. He walked into her apartment casually as if nothing happened and looked at Atsil.

“Sorry about that, hope they didn’t cause you too much trouble.” said the man. Atsil could tell that the man’s voice was modulated as it sounded too deep for it to be natural.

“Who are you?” asked Atsil. The man’s body language shifted to give the idea that he was insulted,

“How can you not know who I am?! I am the one and only CGZ and I am here to save your hide from the idiots in the GSC, the fat cats in their towers of false power, the fanatics that use the Great Spirit’s name for their own desires, and from the monarchists that are the closest thing you have to a fan club. Look I am not on any side of this war but seeing as you are an enemy to three of the four sides and a potential pawn for the fourth and that just makes you a target. Now I am offering you the chance to come with me and hide until the war ends. Just going to say it now, I am probably your only hope kid.” CGZ offered his hand to Atsil. Atsil thought about her situation for a minute, what he said was realistic as without her one side in the war effort would fall into divisions over who to make into a monarch and so she would become a target by the two other sides. Also she already is considered a traitor by the GSC so it looks like she has no other choice. She takes the legendary thief’s hand and is pulled to her feet.

“Now before I take you with me I am going to have to blindfold you.” He says, taking out a black blindfold, “While I want to help you I can’t trust you with the location of my secret hideout. So if you could put that on it would make my job ten times easier.” Atsil sighs and begrudgingly puts it on. The thief then grabbed her hand and began to lead her out of the apartment building, through the conflict filled streets and into what she can assume to be a car. She was buckled into her seat with help from CGZ before he accelerated causing her to be pushed back into her seat.

“When did my life get so complicated?” she said out loud without even realizing it,

“Probably when your father died. Just stating the obvious here.” answered CGZ.

As they sped down the streets they could hear the sounds of gunfire and explosions. While she could not see, Atsil already imagined what must be going on. A few bullets even hit the car but they didn’t do any damage to the vehicle due to how armored it must be.

“Jeeves play My Mix!” said CGZ and a posh sounding voice answered,

“Right away sir.” A drum solo began to play from the speakers of the car and classic rock filled Atsil’s ears.

“How are you so calm during all of this?! People are literally dying around us!” Atsil says trying to yell over the classic rock music,

“Look it isn’t that I don’t care but it's the fact that I have to worry about getting you to safety without drawing too much attention to myself by using secret tunnels that I have all around the country. The thing is that the closest entrance to one of these tunnels is in the middle of one of the conflict zones. It is going to keep a level head when driving anyways.” says CGZ as he manages to swerve around a very obviously placed landmine that was set in the middle of the road.

“Damn that was a famous Dalimbari mine! How much funding do these private militaries have!? Anyways, as you can-oh wait you can’t see, well if you could see you would understand why I am having to be so calm while driving. If I wasn’t calm then we wouldn’t survive so if you would be so kind try not to interrupt the music.” Atsil didn’t know what to say about this.

By the Spirit I don’t know whether I am with a bold genius or an adrenaline junky madman!

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April 30, 1420
12:00 PM Over Time
In an undisclosed location that is definitely not in an ancient fortress from the height of the rule of Saint Mark over Zoran


“What do you mean you lost her?! How can you lose the daughter of Ani’-Wah’!?” exclaimed Wohali Lanusila, leader of the Monarchist Forces,

“We’re sorry sir, but this guy in a really cool black armor just took out the GSC forces that were in the apartment, took Auraelia to his vehicle, and drove off at fast speeds with her in tow. Since then we lost track of her.” said the soldier on the encrypted phone. Wohali took a deep breath and pinched the ridge of his nose before asking,
“Did you even attempt to follow the vehicle this mystery man was in?” there was a moment of silence before the soldier answered,

“No sir.” Wohali was about to throw the phone at the wall but instead he just poured himself a glass of Mist Over the Lake Badgerian whiskey with a shaking hand and downed it in one go. He let out a sigh before asking,

“What did this armored man look like?”

“Well we didn’t see anything that could make his identity stand out but he wore black armor and had a helmet mask.” The soldier stopped and the sound of discussion distant explosions could be heard on the other end of the line, “The scouting party just got back from the apartment and they found something which gave us the identity of the suspect. Sending you a photo now.” Waholi then looked at his messages and saw a photo of a purple card with black crown and a cookie on it.

By the Spirit CGZ has gotten into this, what is going on in this country anymore.

“Tell all forces to be on the lookout for any sign of CGZ, we need to find the future queen to be safe in our hands!”

“Sir yes sir.” Wohali ended the call and poured himself another cup of Mist Over the Lake whiskey to calm his nerves.

Without that girl our faction will be divided among who should succeed. I was able to unite the factions into supporting Atsil as the Queen but if she dies or goes missing then our forces will lose their purpose and we will lose this war.

He let out a sigh as he looked at his watch to see that it was time for him to meet with the delegation from Saint Mark. As a monarchy itself he hopes that their similar alignments may allow for some support to be arranged for the monarchist cause.

This country has been left ungoverned for far too long. While the ideals of the founder were noble it was flawed and chaotic. People have been stuck in poor conditions while the Council tells the world that there are no problems. President Ani’-Wah’ was the closest unifying force this country has seen since the days of Austenaco. Only a strong unifying figure with the power to enforce regulations and to create laws to protect Zoranians from unfair and unjust conditions can save this country. All this can be done through a monarch and the Ani’-Wah’ family are trusted by the people because of the late president. The GSC has practically already lost after a large number of their troops defected to our cause or to the theocratic cause. While the theocrats have a fire and a passion, they are few in number and lack support from the Divine Shaman himself. The only real threat is the Corporate faction because they have money, resources, connections, and influence.

Waholi thought about all this and more as he marched down the ancient halls of the Saint Markian fortress to meet a potential ally in his fight for a truly united and better Zoran.

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Maxwell, Lord Eastmarch, Count of Wynd, paced in front of his four attendants. As a first cousin to His Serene Highness, his participation in these covert talks was a sure sign to the monarchists that they would receive the full support of The Holy Principality of Saint Mark.

Having a stable Zoran off their shores was in their best interest, of course, and the House of Ani’-Wah’ had always been on excellent terms with the Houses of Halohin and those of many of the Electors. All of the intelligence, both normal and paranormal, that had been gathered from Saint Mark’s renowned network pointed to the monarchists as being the most likely faction to provide the needed stability, while still respecting the rights of the Zoran people … and the Saint Markian-Zoranian trade and defense agreements, of course.


It would be vital to provide as much assistance as they could, without actually being drawn into a military conflict.


At the sound of approaching footsteps echoing in the cold, ancient halls, Lord Eastmarch straightened and put a reassuring smile on his tanned face.
 

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April 30, 1420
12:30 PM Over Time

Waholi stopped as he reached the large wooden door that led to the meeting room. The importance of this meeting weighed down on him. He knew very well that without support from Saint Mark they would be forced to surrender in three months as they drew closer to running low on ammunition and supplies. He took a deep breath and exhaled before pushing open the heavy door.

Before him stood a tall and slender man, with a tanned complexion, black hair and mustache, and brown eyes. Waholi knew that this man was Lord Maxwell, cousin to the Prince of Saint Mark. He closed the gap between him and Lord Maxwell with a smiled and bowed in front of him before speaking,

“It is an honor to have you here Lord Maxwell. Thank you for coming so quickly, I hope you didn’t have too much trouble getting here.”

“It's a pleasure meeting you General. My trip wasn't too difficult. Thank you for asking. My family has a hunting lodge near here, so it appears that I was simply spending some time there in the country, while I slipped away to your fortress here undetected.”

“It pleases me to hear that, I worried that with all the turmoil in the country you would have experienced some troubling issues. But come take a seat, would you like anything to drink? We don’t have much but it would be rude not to offer anything.”

“A bourbon and water would be appreciated, if you have it. Thank you.”

Waholi called in a soldier over his walkie talkie to bring Maxwell’s refreshments and in a few seconds a soldier came in with a tray that had a bottle of brandy and a pitcher of water along with two classes for each on it. The soldier set it down on the table and poured it out for their guest. The soldier then stood at attention until Waholi dismissed him,

“Now let’s get to the business side of things.” said Waholi as he sat down at the table, “I am going to be honest with you, we are desperate for aid from Saint Mark. While we have popular support amongst the people, our supplies are limited. I estimate that at the current rate without support we would last about three months until we run out of ammunition and other supplies. As I mentioned to one of your intelligence agents, we are in need of arms, supplies, and funds. In exchange, when we win the war I will convince Atsil to maintain the Saint Markian-Zoranian trade agreement and defense agreements as well as repay Saint Mark the amount of money you loan us during the war.” Maxwell took a sip of his glass of Bourbon before saying,

“The House of Halohin, as well as the Houses of many of our Electors, have a long and friendly history with the Ani’-Wah’ family. For the sake of these ties, and to promote the greatest chance for stability and prosperity in Zoran, we are ready to support you with all of the funds and non-martial supplies you require.” said Lord Maxwell. General Waholi thanked the Spirit in his head but stopped as the lord continued,

“Just as a cautionary measure, we would rather not send you munitions directly, but we will be happy to send more than enough in the way of funds to be able to purchase whatever you need. If however, you run into problems finding a source for the munitions, we will help you there as well. Saint Mark is committed to your success.”

“Your reasoning is understandable and we have no problems with Saint Mark’s precautionary measure. It brings me joy to know that Saint Mark is backing our cause, we will send someone to your capital to keep you informed on the situation.” 

“Best of luck and may God's Will be aligned with your cause.” said Maxwell before he finished up his glass of water.

“Thank you, may the Spirit help us all.”

The two shook hands, smiling as they secured a deal that could change the course of the war.
 

April 31, 1420
12:00 AM Over Time

A monarchist soldier runs into Waholi’s room holding a modified zPad(to prevent the corporations from listening in as well as preventing them from tracking them down), Startled by the sudden entry of the soldier, Waholi jumped out of bed and drew the pistol he hides under his pillow, aiming at the soldier.

“Sir! Sorry to wake you but there has been a major development. You are going to want to see this.” Waholi exhaled and put the gun on the bed before walking up to the soldier and taking the zPad from his hand. His eyes widened in shock, disgust, and sorrow. His palms shook and tears welled up in his eyes,

“By the Spirit...how could this happen? I didn't expected for something like this to occur.” He whipped the tears from his eyes and shoved the tablet back to the soldier,

“Send a message to all men that are still over there, tell them to return to the nearest base they can get to immediately!”

The soldier nodded and ran out to do such a task. When the soldier was far enough away, Waholi fell to his knees and began to weep. He did not weep because what had occurred impacted him personally, but he wept for the innocent lives that were lost and ruined by what had occurred.

How could they do this? Centuries of history and development, gone! Has the GDC gone mad!?

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April 30, 1420
12:30 PM Over Time
National Zoranian Banking Clan Tower; Yemiduga City, Fisheros, Zoran

In a meeting room at the top floor of the National Zoranian Banking Clan tower, hundreds of executives and CEOs from corporations across Zoran have gathered to discuss their plans in the war. All of them sat in a large round table in dim lighting. Everyone had a binder with information on the current status of the war. Everything from expenditures, number of arms and ammunition, to missiles and missile launching sites, to even expenditures and their combined income. Every person in that room had put an investment in the future of the country and hoped to make massive profits if they succeeded in taking control and the mastermind behind it all was the head of one of the oldest industries in Zoran, Quasena Basket Weaving Enterprises. The current head of the Quasena family that runs the business is none other than Kunagadoga Quasena, who sits in the most elaborate chair with the window of the room behind him.

“Glad to see all of you could make it today. We have much to discuss in terms of our push to take the country. Open your binders to page two titled, the Dalimbari Arms Agreement or the DAA.” Everyone in the room did as he instructed all at one, everyone knew better than to challenge his authority. The page was a detailed copy of the contract signed between the Corporate Union of Zoran and the Free State of Dalimbar which went over the agreed price settled on for arms and the promise for Dalimbar to be the Union’s main supplier of arms during the conflict.

“As Dalimbar as our main supplier of arms we will have access to a large amount of supplies and weapons from them to support the private military companies we have hired to do our dirty work. They were not cheap but they ensured quality arms for our cause, especially their world renowned landmines. I propose that we send a representative over to Dalimbar to keep them posted on current events of the war and to negotiate more deals with the Dalimbari junta.” said Kunagadoga as dryly before taking a sip of his glass of water, “Does anyone in the room oppose this proposition?” No one in the room said a single word in response to his question, “All in support raise their hand.” He said as he raised his own. Everyone’s hand in the room raised with him, something which pleased the leader of the Union.

“Very good. Now with that out of the way, we must turn to a more pressing issue, Atsil Ani’-Wah’. Everyone please look at the screen on the wall opposite of my seat.” He said as he turned on the screen with a control panel on the table. Everyone turned their swivel chairs to face the screen in unison as the screen showed video camera footage of CGZ escorting a blindfolded Atsil from her apartment building to an alleyway on the opposite side of the street. After the pair was out of view on the camera, the screen switched to a side by side report of Atsil and CGZ with their records, police reports, bio, and picture. CGZ’s was quite empty compared to Atsil’s but CGZ’s criminal record was full compared to Atsil’s empty criminal record.

“Ladies and gentleman, two of our biggest pains in the asses are in hiding together. CGZ has long been a thorn in the side of all wealthy people whether they are in business or governance for centuries. Illusive, untraceable, intelligent, skilled, and dangerous. The fact that he has become part of our hunt for Atsil makes things a lot more difficult.” said Kunagadoga without hiding the annoyance in his voice.

“Atsil on the other hand is a more reluctant annoyance. For a long time the Ani’-Wah’ clan has rivaled my family in wealth for many years. But it was never a feud in fact I am sure all of us have had lovely relations with the heads of the Ani’-Wah’ family. But our biggest threat in this war is the monarchist faction, who intend on having Atsil as the monarch of Zoran. So we must have her eliminated if we wish to disorganize and crush our biggest rival for the control of Zoran. But with CGZ protecting her, locating her will practically be impossible.” he said grimly. Everyone in the room began to whisper amongst themselves, most of the men and women in the room knew the impossibility of tracking down CGZ. Kunagadoga raised his hand and the whispers ceased,

“Thank you. But I have two potential solutions. One is we commit an act or provoke an act by one of the factions that will cause Atsil to want to leave the protection of CGZ to help end the war. This one I believe has the most potential as Atsil is known for having a compassionate heart and being strong willed, just like her father. Thus if we push her to the point where she can’t stand to sit back and watch any longer then we might be able to track her down.” The others in the room began to nod and whisper in agreement amongst themselves, “The other option is one that I believe will be less likely to occur but could lead to great results, we contact the Cambrians and try and enlist the help of their Inquisitors to potentially locate CGZ. However, like I said this would be unlikely to occur due to our agreement with Dalimbar and thus they probably do not think highly of us currently. It would also risk ruining our good relations with Dalimbar by turning to their enemy for support. Personally, I prefer the former option but of course I will put this up to a vote. All in favor of option one raise your hand.” A good majority of the table raised their hands in support of drawing Atsil out, some agreed out of fear of Kunagadoga and others genuinely believed for option one to be the best course of action.

“All in support of the idea of reaching out to the Cambrians, raise your hand.” Those that did not raise their hand before raised their hands now potentially believing that despite the unlikely nature of getting support from T&C that it could prove to have more results. Konagadoga smiled at this,

“Great, option one it is then. But this meeting has gone on for quite a while now, let’s all take a quick thirty minute break and gather around the water cooler and talk about our money shall we?” Everyone in the room smiled and began talking in agreement as they all stood up and left the room. However, one executive walked up to Konagadoga and whispered,

“Kuna my old friend. Are you sure your personal grudge against Atsil didn’t influence the making of this plan? You still aren’t miffed about the fact that she rejected you back in secondary school are you?” The smile on Konagadoga’s face faded quickly at the executive’s words,

“Detsinulahungu my old friend, not another word out of you unless you want to end up as a woven basket that is gifted to the Dalimbari.” Konagadoga said coldly. Detsinulahungu’s eyes widened and he slowly backed away from Konagadoga.

I will never forget the day that she broke my heart.

Kunagadoga thought to himself before leaving the room to go to the water cooler as he had said.

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The sound of footsteps echoed through the hallowed halls of the Windlar Castle as the most trusted advisor of King Maddy IV, Jamie Marshall rushed towards His Highness' office with a folder marked confidential.

"Your Highness, Zoran has fallen. There is a grapple for power. We have intel that Atsil Ani'-Wah' has been kidnapped. Our secret agent was approached by one of the high-profile Monarchists.They have asked for our help alongside that of Saint Mark."

"Then we must do everything we can to help them come to power, and more importantly survive. Call my brother, Prince Dominic, at once."

"Why, Your Highness, do I need to call him?"

"We have had great relations with the Ani'-Wah' house in the past. It is in our best interest that the Monarchists win this power struggle in Zoran."

"So you need your brother for?"

" 'You're my' advisor for the sake of the Lord. Sending him to talk with their general will show our support and earn their trust, because without trust, wars like these can never be won."

"I'll ask him to come here as soon as possible."

"Fly him here if you have to. He should be off to Zoran to meet the general as late as tomorrow. I want my best agents dispatched to Zoran to start looking for Atsil. In the meantime we'll co-ordinate with Saint Mark in this effort."

Jamie rushed off into the halls of the palace, simultaneously calling Prince Dominic.

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April 30, 1420 AF
12:15 PM Over time
In the catacombs of an ancient Zonethos Temple

Shaman Oconostota Nideloyu was offering up a prayer to the Great Spirit in hopes that his meeting with the Varanian delegation would end with the support he needed. He knew the theocrat faction was the weakest among the four involved in the civil war, he desperately needed support should the Will of the Spirit be fulfilled.

The Spirit has warned us against straying from His Will and the country is now in turmoil because of the previous government straying from His Will. Only the Divine Shaman, the successor of Adanvdo can return the country to glory in the eyes of the Spirit.

He got up from the ground and started making his way down the halls of the catacombs in order to meet with the Varanian delegation. He knew little about the delegation but he knew they were willing to give support to his righteous cause.

As he drew closer to the meeting place within the catacombs, he could see the Varanian general waiting for him. He could tell the general was not comfortable standing in a dimly lit room surrounded by skeletons. He entered the room and held up a hand in greeting,

“It is a pleasure to have you here in general. I apologize for keeping you waiting here for as long as I did. Come, let’s go to some place a bit less...grim.” said Nideloyu.

“The pleasure is mine,” said General Ristovski, “and yes, let’s.”

General Ristovski and Shaman Nideloyu made their way through one of the many tunnels of the catacombs until they reached a staircase that leads into the temple which resides above them. This temple was ancient, abandoned long ago when Adanvdo reformed the faith. The reason it was abandoned was because it was judged to be tainted by a giant symbol of a crab, the sign of Ulagohvsgi, being etched in the middle of the temple floor. But this temple, which has been reclaimed by nature, is now the base of operations for the theocratic faction. They stopped in the most intact room in the temple that had a table and a few chairs in the center of the room.

“Please take a seat general, we have much to discuss.” said Nideloyu as he gestured towards one of the chairs. General Ristovski  nodded in gratitude and sat in the chair while Nideloyu walked over to the other side of the table to sit in the seat opposite of him.

“Ah, thank you.”

“Now might I ask why Varanius is interested in backing our most righteous cause? It seems unusual for a secular state to back a group that wishes to create a theocracy.’
“Yes, it does admittedly seem rather odd. But, we wish the best for the people of Zoran, and we think you have the best chance of making that happen.”

“We thank you for coming so far to meet with us. I would be lying if I said we didn’t need support. What kind of assistance is Varanius willing to give us? Arms? Funds? Legitimacy?”

“Funds mainly, to begin with. Arms and legitimacy may come later, depending on availability.”

“And what would you like in return from us in the future? I can imagine that something trade related is what Varanius is looking at correct?”

“Right to the point I see. Yes, well. We do actually have our eyes on those exotic plants. Things like that have so many uses after all.”

“We can do something with that when we win the war.”

Nideloyu muttered a prayer of thanks to the Great Spirit before extending his hand to General Ristovski and shaking on their deal. The future may not be so dark for the theocrats as people once believed with the support they will receive from the Varanian government.

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April 30, 1420
1:30 PM Over Time
Temporary Grand Defense Council Building in Southern Zoran

 

“Ladies and gentlemen in this room, we are the few members of the GDC left. Others have either abandoned their position, been captured by one of the rebel groups, or joined the rebel groups.” said Speaker Quadelo, “This is not our finest hour, our more experienced members of our officer corp have defected to the monarchist rebels and much of the army has either defected or deserted. While we still maintain control of our naval vessels along with our air force, the corporations have taken the missile launch sites and we lack support from the people.  However, we still have some international support whether it be recognition, funding, or by other means. With that I open up the floor to the generals in attendance to give us their plan in regaining control of the country.”

A young general, General Lagodo, stood up and walked to the center of the room, a cocky smile on his face. He believed that he was going to be the general to save Zoran. He lacks experience and the only reason why he holds his rank is because of connections he had in the government that helped him progress his career. He had a plan, a bold plan, and he considers it the best plan.

“Representatives, it is an honor for me to serve this country during these turbulent times. Each of you should have a copy of the operation I have planned underneath your seats.” said General Lagodo as the representatives in the room got the folder out from under their seats. The room was quickly filled with shocked muttering, “The plan I have will ensure that other factions cannot claim to be the legitimate government of the country. An evacuation order will be issued and executed as soon as you all approve of the plan. The actual execution of the order will take place at midnight tonight.”  Representative Tsolaquo shot up out of his seat and slammed his fist on the table,

“Are you insane!? What you’re proposing is a war crime! While it may prevent the rebels from claiming legitimacy there will be serious ramifications as a result of doing this!” Several other representatives nodded in agreement with Tsolaquo’s statement.

“While what you say is true we are in a desperate situation representative, desperate times call for desperate measures.” said General Lagodo,

“But it would be dishonorable to use that as justification for this! I cannot allow this!” exclaimed Representative Tsolaquo,

“Ladies and gentlemen, while I understand your concern about this plan you must realize that we lack authority over our own country! We wouldn’t be able to challenge the rebels should one of them take control over Platypus Island and claim to be the legitimate government! The plan might be morally questionable but it will prevent them from making such a claim, allowing us to have time to gain more international support and to coordinate an offensive against the rebels and retake the country. Most honorable speaker, I would like to request you put the plan up to a vote.” said General Lagodo. Speaker Quadelo nodded and put the plan to a vote. Representative Tsolaquo and a few others voted against the plan but they were unfortunately outvoted by two votes. General Lagodo smiled and said,

“Excellent! I will issue the evacuation order immediately and prepare the air force for the operation!”

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The fire crackled in the hearth, shining on King Maddy IV and his brother Prince Dominic, as they sat in front of each other.

King Maddy IV said," My brother, you will be visiting Zoran to meet up with the Monarchists' General. An agent of -redacted- will accompany you, disguised as your assistant, for your safety."

Prince Dominic asked," Won't sending a member of the Royal Family raise suspicion in the other factions?"

King Maddy IV replied rather coolly," It would if you would have just visited the country without no good reason. That's why I talked with Prince Marcarius, and he agreed to lease some of the Saint Markan estates in Zoran for a period of ten years. Your cover will be to check on the estates and secretly meet with the General."

"Understood. You know, I'm sometimes in awe of how you think and how you maintain your international relations. I have a question though, how much can I stretch for them, you know because I won't be able to reach you at that time."

"You can offer them arms and money and if they are in a dire need, other kinds of armaments. Promise some post war reparation funds and put in an idea of a trade deal post war."

"Sure. Goodbye brother, I'll see 
you soon", Prince Dominic said while hugging his brother, because as good an opportunity this was, there was an existential threat to his life.

"Goodbye brother. Your 'assistant' will brief you further on your way there. And be extremely careful, God forbid, if anything happens to you, no power in this world will stop me from marching into Zoran."

Prince Dominic left the palace for the airport with his 'assistant', with pride that his brother trusted him with this important duty. His life was probably in danger, and he hoped that he would be alive to see his beloved brother again, but he wouldn't let that stop him from accomplishing the task at hand.

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April 30, 1420
2:27 PM Over Time
Unknown Location

After driving through a battle zone and then three hours of driving through what Atsil can only assume to be underground tunnels, Atsil felt CGZ’s electric car come to a stop.

“At last! We are finally here!” said CGZ, “Oh wait, you still can’t see. Hold on.” The blindfold was then removed from Atsil’s head and she saw the interior of CGZ’s car for the first time. The seats were a black leather that went with the midnight black color of the interior. There were multiple touch screens along the dashboard that detailed underground tunnels, patrol routes, conflict zones, traffic, etc. as well as climate control and things you would expect to find in a regular car. Atsil could only look with awe at the technological look of the interior.

“Impressed? All of this was the design of my father and I before the car industry began designing electric cars. But that doesn’t matter right now, come on I will show you to where you will be staying.” said CGZ in their synthesized voice. He got out of his car and Atsil quickly followed. Upon exiting the car, Atsil stood starstruck when she saw the machinery in what she could only assume to be the garage. She didn’t understand what most of it did but she could only assume it was for inventing new gadgets or for the car. But she stopped looking around when she noticed that CGZ was about to leave the room and so she hurried behind him.

The hallway she followed him into was even more extravagant, but not with machinery. The hallway had Saint Markian doric columns made of white marble all the way down to the end and in between the columns there was a statue of what Atsil could only assume to be CGZ’s of the past. Golden chandeliers lit the hallway and gave a yellowish hue to the stone grey walls and the floor was a checkered black and white with polished marble and black granite. Atsil observed all of this as they walked through the hallway until they reached the end.

“If you think this is impressive, just wait till you see what’s next.” said CGZ as the door opened in front of him to reveal a large room full of bookshelves that are built into the walls and that are lined up in rows in the middle of the room. But the bookshelves only occupied half of the room, which was the side they were on. At the other side of the room there was one large computer monitor with two smaller monitors attached on the either side of it displaying a variety of data or news reports.

“By the Spirit, were you inspired by a certain comic book superhero or something?” asked Atsil,

“I didn’t design this room, the original room was made by the sixth CGZ and was modified, expanded, upgraded, updated, etc. by other generations and my father got the computer all set up before he passed. But he was a bit of a comic nerd so it is quite possible.” He answered as we made our way passed the part of the room occupied by bookshelves and into the area occupied by the computer along with a variety of other things such as what looked to be an armor display case and other things.

“How did your family manage to keep all of this a secret?! Surely the purchase or theft of the things needed to create half of the technology you have would have here would draw a lot of attention!” asked Atsil,

“Can’t tell you or else you might go blab about it to someone after this mess is over. But let’s just say my family were people of many faces.” he said cryptically. They then turned right and went through a door which led to what seemed like a regular living room and kitchen with a mixture of the architecture and design found in the hallway and modern appliances and technology with a large window that overlooked the Zoranian jungle. The furniture was elaborate and had a royal feel to it. Atsil was kind of disappointed at what she saw, something which CGZ could sense from her and let out a chuckle before saying,

“What? Am I not allowed to have some normal comforts in my home?”

“No of course not!” said Atsil, “I am just surprised there wasn’t some advanced machine hidden somewhere.” He just laughed in response and led her up a spiral staircase in the middle of the room and led her to a large double wooden door.

“This will be your room. You should be able to find everything you would need in there including clothes. Also, do you still have your phone on you by any chance?”

“Yes, why do you ask?”

“Give it to me for a second.” He said as he held his hand out for the phone,

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want to be tracked. The security measures here that prevent tracking are advanced but I don’t want to take any chances.” Atsil, begrudgingly, gave her phone to CGZ who removed the case from it, took a tool out from his suit, and removed the sim card from it. He then threw it onto the floor as hard as he could and crushed it under his foot.

“Hey! What the f-”

“Language, also don’t worry I will get you a better one of my own design. I still have the sim card so all your data should be safe.” He said as he slid the sim card into a small pouch in his suit and picked up the pieces of the shattered phone from the floor. “I will get the phone to you in about an hour or so. In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay and let me know if you need anything. Also don’t go snooping around, there are a lot of rooms in this place and some of them can be dangerous.”

With that CGZ walked away down the stairs and out of sight. Atsil was still angry about the phone but turned towards the door to her room and pushed it open only to let out a gasp. The room was like she walked into a royal bedchamber, something which seemed ironic to her considering that one faction wants to make her a queen. But considering how old the place is and how wealthy CGZ must be from all that his ancestors stole over the years, the room’s design and style made sense to her.

Does he live here on his own? How does he keep all of these rooms so clean and dust free if he does live on his own? Did his ancestors hire people to build all of this? There are just so many questions to be asked about this place! But most importantly, where exactly am I!?

Atsil sat down on the soft bed, feeling the soft silk sheets with her hand as she thought about all of these questions. However, the thought that weighs heaviest on her mind is how the Zoranian people are living during these times of conflict.

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April 30, 1420
2:30 PM Overtime
From the perspective of a Zoradian resident

An emergency announcement popped up on my phone and on the television. It was an official announcement from the GDC that was straight and to the point,

“Attention all residents of Zoradia! The GDC is ordering an immediate evacuation of all people from the city. Take only what you need and flee the city. Soldiers will try their best to ensure a safe evacuation of all people. This order also goes for those who remain in embassies in the capital. No one is permitted to prevent people from evacuating the city. People can evacuate via roadways or by sea. Everyone must be out of the city by 23:00 Overtime tonight!”

When the television reverted back to its normal channel and I looked up from my phone, I heard honking and pandemonium from outside my window. The gunshots still exist but they are now drowned out by the sound of honking and panic.

Soldiers were guiding cars and people to the evacuation routes while keeping a lookout for rebels. Who knows if the evacuation will be pulled off in time.

 

April 31, 1420
00:00 Overtime

The once bustling streets of Zoradia are now practically empty. The streets were devoid of life and those that remained were rebels that thought the GDC had abandoned the city. But those that remained did not get the memo of the evacuation. The roaring sound of jets could be heard in the distance when the first explosion occurred, one of the skyscrapers has been hit with a missile. The rebels in the city dove for cover as debris began to rain down from above. But the explosions didn’t stop there. There was soon another explosion and another and then another. Buildings began to crumble and burn.

The fighter jets roared over the city executing the order they have been given—destroy the city and make sure nothing remains except for the Temple and the Mausoleum if possible. While the government may lack bombers the missiles from the jets will complete the job after numerous runs. At the same time, off in the distance, members of the military were firing shells of artillery in hopes of speeding along the process.

It was clear that the bombing was not going to stop for quite some time. But the biggest tragedy of this act is that some people still have yet to evacuate. While the evacuation order was initiated, many elderly people were unable or unwilling to leave their homes. On top of this, those who were in the hospital and other medical facilities were unable to leave because of their condition and this led to many employees in the medical facilities unable to leave the building to care for the patients. This led to the death of innocent civilians when the homes of the elderly and the medical facilities were bombed as well.

Outside the city, people fled to other cities and others set up refugee camps. Those that fled by sea were either taken in by ships sent by the fujansk for humanitarian aid, military vessels, or private ships of the wealthy who were forced to provide aid to their fellow Zoranians by military officers on the scene.

The desolation of Zoradia has begun and with it begun the true suffering of the Zoranian people.

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April 31, 1420
1:00 AM Over Time
Unknown location

Atsil could not sleep, her mind was racing with concern over the innocent lives at risk from the conflict. She thought of her siblings and her nieces and nephews, worried about how they are handling the situation. CGZ did end up getting her a phone as promised and indeed it was better than her previous one and thankfully none of the things she had saved on her previous phone was lost. In the time since CGZ took her here, her siblings have been asking if she’s safe or if she is actually in league with the monarchists. She has been afraid to respond fearing that she would be putting their lives at risk.

She decided to go and get something to drink from the kitchen and left the room. As she descended down the stairs she heard what sounded like surprised movement in the direction of the living room. As she reached the bottom, she saw CGZ wearing a ski mask and sunglasses, jeans, and a white long sleeve shirt.

“What are you doing up so early in the morning?” he asked,

“What are *yawn* you doing up so early in the morning?” she asked back. He let out a slight chuckle before saying,

“Keeping my eye on the movements of the different factions. For the past hour something terrible has been happening in Zoradia.” These words made Atsil worry,

“What do you mean? What happened?” CGZ sighed before asking,

“Do you really want to know?” As simple as those words were it made Atsil’s hair stand up on the back of her neck. She found herself hesitating before answering,

“Yes, what happened?” CGZ tapped the right side of his sunglasses and said,

“Jeeves, turn on family room TV.” The flat screen TV behind him came to life and showed a horrific scene. Zoranian multirole fighter jets bombing the capital city of Zoradia. Missiles collided into the skyscrapers and the jets fired HEI-T-SD rounds into buildings to slowly bring them crumbling down. Soldiers from different factions were scrambling to get out of the city and she saw some get crushed under a piece of concrete. Atsil stood there silently watching it all unfold with shock. Her skin turned pale and her eyes began to water as her body began to tremble.

How could a government do this! Innocent lives are at risk! This act is unnecessary and a waste of resources! All the people who must be living in fear at what is occurring...it fills my heart with sorrow.

Her legs soon gave out and she began to cry, lamenting the suffering of the people. She didn’t hear CGZ tell Jeeves to turn off the TV or his approaching footsteps. CGZ knelt down and helped Atsil to her feet and walked her over to the couch. He offered her comfort while she lamented over the suffering of the people.

CGZ felt bad for Atsil, she did not ask to be part of any of this. All factions are looking for her all because she is the new head of the Ani’-Wah’ family. Atsil was young and while CGZ wasn’t much older than her, she has been experiencing so much change in such a short amount of time.

I do not envy her, no one should have to deal with all of this. There is so little that I can do to help her, but by providing her refuge she will at le-

“I need to go out there.” she finally said after a few minutes of crying.

“What? Are you insane!?”

“People are suffering, I need to do something to help them!”

“Atsil, you have a large target on your back! The corporates want you dead, the theocrats want you dead, even the GDC wants you dead! By going out there you are going to get killed!”

“Hiding away while people are suffering is dishonorable! I need to go out there and do something to help! Even if it is by leading the monarchist faction, I have to do something for them!”

“You don’t even know if the monarchist leadership is only riding on the popularity of your father! They could seek to use you as a puppet for their goals!”

“Well to me they are the lesser of four evils! If they want to use me as a puppet then it will be their fault for underestimating me! I may not want to be queen but I have to do something to help the country and its people.” CGZ got up from the couch and stormed away into one of the many mysterious rooms in this place. After a few minutes CGZ came back with a thick file in his hand and handed it to Atsil. The folder had the logo of the SIC on it and below it said “Training Manual”.

“Read up on this. You aren’t going to be able to master it today but you may need some skills from this if you want to do what you plan on doing.” Atsil took the file and looked at it with surprise,

“How did you even? Nevermind, I shouldn’t be surprised. But if you are so against me going out there then why give me this?”

“Because if you want to go out there I can’t stop you. If you are going to do this then I don’t want to see you get killed out there. So, to me, the best way to help you is to give you access to the skills created by your family so you have a chance of surviving.” He began walking away when he said, “Let me know when you are ready to leave so I can take you to the monarchist headquarters.” CGZ then left the family room and Atsil was left on the couch with the training manual in her hand.

What an odd man. He went from being frustrated to helpful and reluctantly supportive. Well I don’t intend on looking a gift horse in the mouth so I better get to reading this immediately.

Atsil went to her guest room with the file to begin reading the SIC manual.

Meanwhile, CGZ took the sunglasses and the ski mask off and sat at his desk and looked at the monitors of his computer. He pulled up the information he had on the different factions and their allies.

So let’s see here. Seems the GDC has recognition from Giovanniland and support from the Fujansk, Artzotskia, and Marble Mallorca. For the monarchists it seems that they might have support from Saint Mark and Larxia. It appears that the theocrats might have support from Varanius and the corporates have made it clear that they are doing business with Dalimbar. This is going to be an interesting war.

He then turned his attention to the pile of calling cards on his desk and as he looked at the symbol on it Atsil’s words echoed in his head,

Hiding away while people are suffering is dishonorable!

He recalled his family history, how his ancestors performed daring heists and escapes in the past just for the thrill of the steal. But what always stood out to him was how they gave half of what they stole to the people in need. If it was an item like a crown or a valuable piece of art they would take half the value of that item from their own funds and give it to the people without selling the item. His ancestors never turned away from the people and CGZ began to feel the weight of that legacy because of Atsil’s words. He put his head in his hands and pulled at his hair,

Those were different times! I can’t afford to be as bold as my ancestors! Security has evolved and so has criminal investigation! Hiding in the shadows and remaining in the shadows is the way forward!

He let out a growl in frustration and quickly turned to his computer and pulled up some funny cat videos to distract him from his family’s legacy that weighed down on him.

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May 1, 1420
3:45 PM Over Time

Waholi leaned upon his desk and held the ridge of his nose as he coped with the continued bombing of Zoradia. Five platoons worth of men were lost in the city when the bombing began. He doesn’t know whether the men are MIA or KIA and for now considers them MIA. This is all based on reports he is receiving from various hideouts that are receiving the men that were in the area of the city. The men they received informed them of what occurred and after hours of collecting information they came to the number of men lost to be the equivalent of five platoons.

Waholi took another drink of his Badgerian whisky when a junior officer entered the room,

“Sir, Prince Dominic of Larxia is here to meet with you.” Waholi nodded and turned to face the junior officer,

“Bring him in.” he ordered. The soldier saluted before carrying out his orders. Waholi let out a sigh of exhaustion to get himself ready for the prince’s arrival. A few minutes later, Prince Dominic was escorted into the room with what Waholi assumed to be his assistant of some sort following behind him.

“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, your highness.” Waholi said with a bow, “Please, take a seat. I am sorry if recent events caused any disruptions in your flight here. Is there anything I can offer you and your assistant?”

“Oh, no thanks. We have come here on urgent business. We would like to see you win the war, then we can sit together for a drink or two. But right now you need something and we’re here to offer it to you,” said Prince Dominic in a serious tone as he took a seat.

“As you wish, your highness. I would like to apologize for my, how should is say, disheveled appearance. The bombing that is going on has had a large impact on me. I’ve been up since midnight getting the troops who were in the city or around it out of the area and getting a total on the number we lost in it.” Waholi said with a heavy heart.

“I’m sorry for the loss. There’s nothing worse than losing your men without a chance to fight back, and we are very invested in your victory, given our friendly history with the Ani’-Wah’s,” Prince Dominic said rather coolly.

“Thank you, now I don’t want to waste anymore of your valuable time. I am assuming you know what we desperately need, yes? 

“Of course. We are willing to offer you any kinds of armaments that you require. We’ll be offering you funds to fight and survive through the war, and I know that you don’t control any launch pads or the planes, we are willing to help you with that if you require. Larxian scientists have almost developed a mobile launch site that you can assemble, launch, and disassemble. It would look like there wasn’t a missile fired from that location. Now of course only if you want it. Though I feel I should tell you that the King has  one stipulation, he wants to strengthen the relations with Zoran in the future, so he would like to sign a trade deal with you post war,” Prince Dominic laid out the terms.

“Thank you for your aid, your highness. We gratefully accept the aid you are giving us, of course we would be willing to establish a trade deal after the war. I hope you have a safe flight home, may the Spirit guide you.”

"Oh I won't be flying back for some time. I need to maintain my cover. If you ever need to talk to me, I'll be staying in the Saint Markan estate around ten miles south of Gosdugadohi. Here's a burner phone, call me before you send anyone. May the Spirit be with you," Prince Dominic said as he took leave of the General. Waholi nodded and turned to another soldier in the room,

“Gather all the generals, it is time for a meeting to discuss our strategy for the war along with other issues. Also, Saint Mark said that their mystics might be able to assist us in locating Atsil, send word to them and say we are interested.” said Waholi to the soldier before they left the room. Waholi returned to his desk and turned his attention from the reports on the casualties from the ongoing bombings to the reports on the potential whereabouts of Atsil, to which he sees is very little.

The whole key to finding her location is finding that mythical and illusive hideout of CGZ. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to occur so I have no choice but to resort to using unreliable superstition. Damn it Apenimon, while you were unable to raise that girl she certainly shares many of your qualities.

Waholi thought to himself before gathering up what he needs for the upcoming meeting with other generals in the faction.

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May 2, 1420
5:00 AM Over Time
National Zoranian Banking Clan Tower; Yemiduga City, Fisheros, Zoran

Kunagadoga Quasena sat at the desk in his office—the same office he had claimed for himself two days ago—smoking a cigar as he watched the desolation of the great city of Zoradia with malevolent glee on the TV.

“Perfect, this is going exactly as planned.” He said to himself as he watched a building collapse.

This plan is going to be so much easier with that incompetent pompus general in my pocket. The best part is that I don’t have to pay him anything, I just have to give him a “good” idea and allow him to take the credit for it. Not only will the GDC be wasting its resources but it made itself look to the international community. But, more importantly, the suffering that was caused by this should be enough to lure Atsil out of hiding, she always had a soft heart.

He takes a drag of his cigar before looking at the latest reports from the field and swiveling his chair so he is facing the window that overlooks the city. He grins as he sees the preparations for the operation to either capture or eliminate Atsil, the sooner she is out of the picture the faster the Monarchists will fall.

“So glad to see you sitting in the chair of another bourgeois prick’s office. What did you have to do to get this one? Hold their family hostage? Threaten to ruin their hedge fund?” said an all too familiar synthesized voice,

“To be honest, you arrived a day later than expected and I am still baffled as to how you got past the security. What do you want CGZ?” said Kunagadoga in a cold and monotone voice,

“Want something? No, if I wanted to take from you rich assholes I would have already taken it. I came to impart some wisdom onto you.”

“Oh? Tell me, what can you possibly teach me that I don’t already know?”

“If you continue to follow down this path of dishonor and hatred, you will only be met with despair. With your current position you may do as you please, but once the foundations start to shake, things will be very different for you. The Daughter of Zoran will rise like the Dawn Bird and the sun in the old tales and with her the vengeance of all those you have harmed in your hunger for wealth and power will come down upon you. For she is your reckoning and she will Kick. Your. Ass.” CGZ said in a serious synthesized tone, “Remember, Kuna, just as Adanvdo once said, greed is a miser’s drunkenness and when the miser is consumed by his avarice, the righteous will come and take what is due.”

Kunagadoga began to chuckle and it grew into full blown laughter as he swiveled his chair around to face the armored king of thieves and tosses the reports he was looking at on his desk,

“When did you become a comedian? By the Spirit that was funny! ‘The Daughter of Zoran,’ HA! You use some colorful language and your performance was remarkable, but let’s be honest, Atsil doesn’t stand a chance.” he stopped laughing and a stern look forms on his face, “I know you came here because she is planning on leaving your mythical and illusive sanctum and you want to scare me into giving up. Let me tell you this, I am not backing down and Atsil will either be brought to me in chains or will be brought to me in a bodybag with a bullet through her skull. Your words mean nothing to me, thief, why? Because I know you will do nothing but sit back and watch this all unfold. You have all this power, all this skill, and who knows how much wealth, but you will never do anything with it. You won’t even do anything to protect that bitch when she leaves.” At this point, Kunagadoga was out of his seat and leaning forward on his desk and the air was tense. CGZ maintained his cool and didn’t let Kuna’s words get to him,

“This isn’t my fight and more importantly I have a dislike for killing. I am only telling you to back down now because if you pursue this path, you are going to be the one who ends up dead. I hope you are pleased with the pain you are inflicting on others Kuna, because all that pain will just be sent back unto you.” The power in the building then went out and smoke filled the room and by the time the power went on a minute or two later, CGZ was gone. Kuna coughed as the smoke cleared only to be left slightly annoyed with CGZ’s disturbance.

“Yeah right, that thief is all talk. Atsil won’t have what it takes to survive through this, the supposed ‘Daughter of Zoran’ as he called her will be nothing more than a lie told by him.”

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Mother Angelica, Lady Abbess of The Order of Saint Clare, climbed the winding staircase to the Light Chamber. Her cheerful countenance belied the sharp pain in her back and knees with each step. Normally, if she had wanted to speak with her Sisters, she would have received them in her own office, but as these three were Sisters of The Mind and had just recently returned from Trance, they were still too weak to accommodate her. The Holy Hierophant himself had asked her to receive their report … so up the stairs it must be.

Many centuries ago, in the Age of Mystics, The Seers, as the Sisters of The Mind were called then, were wild, living in caves and unattached to any specific service to God. Since shortly after The Founding, however, they have been attached to The Faith, first as part of a separate Order and later under the protection of The Order of Saint Clare. Their special gifts had been used many times to guide The Faith as well as the Principality.

At the top, Mother Angelica paused outside of the small wooden door to catch her breath. After a brief prayer to Saint Agatha for healing, she tapped softly at the door. Mary Katherine, the young postulant attending the three Sisters, answered, bowed her head, and silently showed the Lady Abbess in.

The three Sisters of The Mind were propped up in their beds. Two sipped tea, while the third had her head back and her eyes closed with a cold cloth on her forehead. The two put aside their cups and the third opened her eyes and removed the cloth when she entered. “Blessings to you, Reverend Mother,” they greeted in unison.

“Blessings also unto you,” she replied. “I pray you are not too exhausted for my visit?”

“God is our strength, Reverend Mother. We are ready to serve.”

“The Faith values your use of your gifts in our service.” The Abbess seated herself on a cushioned stool and Mary Katherine brought her a cup of tea. “What have your visions told you about the poor Zoran heiress, Atsil?” she asked.

The one whose eyes had been closed answered. “The location of her captivity has not been revealed to us, but we do know that she is not in danger from her captor, the thief, and she will soon leave this place of hiding of her own accord. We do see that a son of a basket weaver, one bathed in blood, poses a grave risk to her safety. We will try to reach out to her and warn her.”

“Thank you Sisters. Your assistance is very much appreciated. I will leave you to your rest. May God continue to bless you with His many gifts and give you strength for the journey.”

With that she rose and braced herself for the long, painful trek back down the tower.

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May 2, 1420
An Official Letter from the Divine Shaman to the People

To the People of Zoran,

Dear children of the Spirit, these are turbulent times for our people. We have not seen conflict like this since the Great Spirit War when Gawonii the Heretic divided our people, but times have changed much since then. We are no longer individual tribes who were divided over beliefs, rather we are now one state, one tribe, one family. This isn’t conflict between tribes, this is conflict within a family! We must not forget the words of Adanvdo and the teachings of the Spirit during these times.

But as many of you are aware, there are those that claim I should lead our people in a temporal role as well as a religious one. Do not believe these claims, for I wish no such thing. I am simply a spiritual guide, not a head of state. Those who claim such things are fanatics, those who misunderstand the teachings of Adanvdo and the word of the Spirit! All those that are part of these fanatics must realize the error of their ways and lay down their arms to prevent further bloodshed. I condemn these fanatics for their actions and their claims. I do not wish to rule this country, I am only a guide in the ways of the faith. All shamans who are part of these fanatics are to be considered shamans no more unless they repent before me.

May there be peace in the land once more. Let us all pray for those lives who have been lost in the bombing of Zoradia and those who have died in this conflict so far. Let the Spirit guide us all.

-Divine Shaman Oochalata

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May 3, 1420
6:45 AM Over Time

A day after Waholi sent out the call, generals of the monarchist cause gathered at the central headquarters to discuss the future of the war. Waholi is the highest ranking general there and is the de facto leader of the faction until they find Atsil. Their main concerns that they are going to address are Atsil’s location, the bombing of Zoradia, organization of the government until they find Atsil, and plans for the offensive.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for heading my call. The war has begun and already there has been a tragedy. The bombing of Zorardia, which is still going on, is a waste of resources and a tragedy for all Zoranians. For now we cannot do much, all we can do is stay away from the city. But we have another pressing matter that we need to address.” He directs everyone’s attention to a tv screen he has on a stand that shows the video of Atsil being escorted away by CGZ.

“Atsil Ani’-Wah’, the current head of the Ani’-Wah’ family and the person we, along with a majority of the people who support our cause, believe should rule the country as queen, is currently in an unknown location. CGZ’s ‘mythical’ and illusive hideout is where she is most likely located but no one knows its location. We have tried scouts, intelligence, tracking, etc. to try and locate her to no avail. So I had no choice but to look towards a more supernatural means of locating her.” One of the generals, General Nilesa, chuckled at this,

“Waholi, I didn’t take you for a spiritual man. I know you are religious but I didn’t take you to be the person who would turn to something so unrealistic.” Waholi looked at them with a stern gaze before they spoke,

“Neither did I until we ran into a dead end. I had no choice but to accept the assistance of the Saint Markian seers in locating her.” The whole room burst into laughter until another general spoke,

“With all due respect sir, resorting solely on something as ‘mystical’ as seers does not seem to inspire much confidence in us.” Waholi nodded in an understanding manner,

“While I understand that sentiment, we have no choice. Tell me, has any of you found a lead that would let us find Atsil?” The laughter died down as the question was asked and all the generals sat in silence and with slight embarrassment at the fact that they had no better lead on the whereabouts of Atsil.

“Exactly as I thought,” said Waholi with a smirk on his face, “according to the Saint Markan seers, Atsil is not in danger with CGZ, in fact she plans on leaving from hiding soon. But she is in danger from the ‘basket weaver’s son,’ whoever that is. So there is a chance Atsil is coming out of hiding but we cannot be certain on that. If she does come back then we must be ready to protect her and bring her here. I believe everyone knows the procedure that should occur.” The generals in the room nodded, all of them knew what they must do if Atsil is found, they will do as much as they can to be sure she is safe and that she is with them.

“Good, keep your men on the lookout and tell your scouting parties to keep their eyes peeled for any signs of her return. Now, we must get onto the issue of the actual government organization until she returns.” Waholi then pulled out a manilla folder with documents detailing how the provisional government would run.

“I suggest that we let the people have a voice in our affairs too. But, we cannot let them have a voice in sensitive issues that require secrecy. So we have them send representatives to a public building where they can make some decisions until we get Atsil here to form an official government.”

“But sir,” said a younger general, General Quvmate, “why are we letting Atsil form the new government entirely? Sure we want her to be queen but that seems like a bit of an odd idea to me.” His comment was followed by a few agreeing nods in the room,

“Well, Atsil has been studying political sciences in university. She also has experience through the internship she was doing under her father before this mess started. She is also a bright woman whose actions remind me of her father. While my faith in her is somewhat based on the idea that she might be like her father, I still firmly believe that it should be up to the future queen to create the government. We are all just men and women who know of military strategy, with a basic understanding of politics. That is why we form a provisional government with civilian representation to help legislate and make decisions while we deal with the conflict. What we need to do is send people to different parts of the country that we control and spread word to vote on a representative for the Zoranians in that district. From there we can have some order and support from the people while also providing services to those in need. Does anyone have any objections to this idea?”

The room was quiet as the generals looked at each other to see their reaction to this plan. None of them had any better ideas so they did not object to this plan. All of them knew that they could not win a war without support from the people and as the most popular faction in this war, they had to ensure that they take care of the people and build further support in the country. With no objections Waholi nodded before bringing up a map of the country on the screen.

“Now we must discuss our plan for the war. I believe that our biggest threat is the Corporates. After the Divine Shaman’s denouncement of the religious fanatics they will lose any support that they possibly had and will collapse within a few months. The GDC is disorganized, corrupt, and wasting resources on the bombing of Zoradia. So the corporates are our biggest adversary. Should the theocrats collapse, I believe that the corporates will take control of the province to the east. I say we prevent them from having a connected territory on the northern island in advance by attempting to take the province they control to the south. We already have men in the territory we control on the southern border of that province so we can attack them on two fronts.” Waholi said as he pointed at the provinces he was referring to with a stick.

“What about the two theocratic provinces to the southwest of one of our northernmost provinces? If the theocrats collapse as you say then shouldn’t we send men there to secure control as soon as possible?” said General Quvmate.

“Yes, in fact I will let you lead the offensive on those two provinces. Make sure to avoid civilian casualties as often as possible.” said Waholi. The generals further discussed their plans for the war.

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May 3, 1420
8:00 AM International Atomic Time / 9:00 AM Over Time
Violet Palace, Giovannistadt

Amore Gil Albrecht, the Prime Minister of Giovanniland, had just woken up in her home at the Violet Palace government building. She knew it was going to be a busy day, because she had called for an emergency session with all 500 Deputies and 100 Senators in the Giovannilandian parliament in order to discuss the Zoranian Civil War. This power is granted to the Prime Minister by the Constitution, although it was only used for extraordinary occasions. Of course, a civil war within one of Giovanniland's closest neighbors was enough of a reason to call an emergency session, and most parliament members did not object to the decision done a day earlier. Said session was scheduled to start exactly two hours later, at 10:00 AM IAT.

May 3, 1420
10:00 AM International Atomic Time / 11:00 AM Over Time
Parliament Building, Giovannistadt

The emergency session started with a speech by Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Aurelio Qualwill, from the Democratic Coalition. "Ladies and gentlemen in this Parliament, this is one of the darkest hours for modern Auran history," said Aurelio while leaders of all six parties gathered their own members. "Zoran has been thrown into a civil war that has dealt many casualties and suffering to the Zoranian people. As you know, Giovanniland is a close ally to the former Zoranian government, called the Grand Defense Council, and this can be seen by the Trade Agreement signed in order to improve both nations' economies. However, it brings me no joy to remind you the very GDC has committed a war crime towards its own people by the bombing of Zoradia, the capital city of Zoran. This has led to the death of innocent civilians! As a country that strongly defends human rights, Giovanniland cannot accept that, and it is my hope that every representative in this room agrees." He then gave the floor to the Speaker of the Senate, Elizabeth Schmidt from the Green Social Party.

"The decision made by us today holds utmost importance and could even affect the outcome of the Zoranian Civil War," continued Elizabeth. "We must support one of the other three factions in this war or continue supporting the GDC if a majority so chooses. Though I must remind you about the importance of the environment, welfare and democracy—the pillars of our Giovannilandian government—and advise you to think about each faction's commitment to uphold these values. The GDC is no longer worthy of support from Giovanniland after their war crimes, and the Theocrats have lost most of their support after the Divine Shaman's speech denouncing said faction. The Corporates, however, are the biggest threat to Aura given their endless goal of earning more profit and their dealings with Dalimbar, an authoritarian dictatorship without regards for personal freedom. It seems to me that our only choice is to support the Monarchist faction, given their support from nations such as Saint Mark and their military strength possibly capable of defeating the Corporates." 

She briefly stopped in order to move on and explain the official voting procedures: "It's worth noting that my speech is only a recommendation, and you are free to cast your vote according to your own beliefs and opinions. After all, we have the commitment to maintain a free and fair democracy in Giovanniland. There will be one hour of discussion between each party's respective members following this speech. Afterwards, a vote will be held and whichever faction achieves the most votes among our 600 representatives will then earn the support of the Giovannilandian government," Elizabeth finished.

During the discussions, most GSP members stated their intent to support the Monarchists in accordance with Aurelio and Elizabeth's speech, while many Communists debated to continue supporting the GDC given some far-left representatives' strong opinions against monarchies. The Theocratic Violetist Party and the Patriot Party had most of their members support the Theocratic and Corporate factions respectively, while the two other parties—Democratic Coalition and Republican Giovanniland Party—were the only ones with supporters for all four Zoranian factions. After one hour of heated debate, all 500 Deputies and 100 Senators cast their votes, and then a huge screen then showed the votes for each faction: first within each party, then the total.

Party Name  Total Representatives Monarchists Theocrats Corporates      GDC      
Green Social Party 354 328 10 0 16
Giovannilandian Communist Party 98 21 0 0 67
Democratic Coalition 68 39 3 18 8
Republican Giovanniland Party 49 8 7 28 6
Theocratic Violetist Party 21 1 19 1 0
Patriot Party 10 1 2 7 0
Total 600 398 41 54 107

After the results were displayed, PM Amore Gil Albrecht arrived into the room and announced, "Thank you to everyone for voting in this important decision for the future of Aura. Our recognition and any support given to the official Zoranian government shall be switched from the GDC to the Monarchists, and later proposals may increase Giovannilandian support whether militarily or by other means. I reiterate that this decision was made by the Giovannilandian people through our 600 representatives in their best interest for our nation. Given there's nothing else to discuss, I declare this Emergency Session closed." The Prime Minister then went back to her Violet Palace in order to coordinate various domestic and external affairs including ones related to the Zoranian Civil War, convinced that this was the best decision to take for Giovanniland, Zoran and Aura.

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May 5, 1420

1:24AM International Atomic Time / 2:24AM Over Time

Fribernese Fortress, Federal City of Friberne, Santos-Dominius

"Are we ready to seal the deal yet? I'm tired of this inaction. We need to finalise this thing, and we will do it here and now!" This was Harriet Stuyvesant-Callaghan, CEO of Dominion Bank, the dominant banking corporation in the Federal Republic of Santos-Dominius and one of the largest and most secretive financial institutions in not only Aura, but the entire world. Heard by few and seen doing business by even fewer, the DB has long been rumoured to be one of the most corrupt multinational companies in the leafy archipelago country, doing deals with the 0.001% and pursuing the shadiest of transactions solely for profit in the form of gold or cash. Stuyvesant-Callaghan herself - the absolute worst and most ruthless in the entire banking and financial industry in Santos-Dominius.

"Not now, not here! Can't you just wait? We're getting on a helicopter that will fly us directly to a black site in the Canton of Nordrhuin-Theronigen. This is a high-risk deal with a controversial faction participating in a significant civil war. This contradicts years and decades of Santo-Dominian neutrality! As President, I do not want our unspeakable goings-on revealed or exposed like dirty laundry. If we do a secret deal, we're gonna do it the right way: on a secure call in virtual reality in a secure black site facility accessible only with my explicit in-person permission." This was President Paul R. Goldberg, who is in for the battle of his political life as he struggles to ensure his re-election in the tightest presidential race in Santo-Dominian history.

As both Stuyvesant-Callaghan and Goldberg boarded the military helicopter in the large courtyard of the Fribernese Fortress, they both acknowledged that they had way too much to lose if this deal were to be exposed. For Stuyvesant-Callaghan, it would be her ability to attract private low-profile clientele. For Goldberg, it would be his ability to win re-election and his entire political career. Secrecy, they agreed, was paramount in this deal, and they would exhaust every option available to make sure that intimate knowledge of the upcoming event would not go outside of the meeting room.

May 5, 1420

3:57AM International Atomic Time / 4:57AM Over Time

Unknown Black Site, Canton of Nordrhuin-Theronigen, Santos-Dominius

"Mr President, the Zoranian corporates are ready to converse. Do we have authorisation to begin the call?"

"Yes, I now authorise you to begin the call."

"Please put on the virtual reality headsets, Mr President and Ms Stuyvesant-Callaghan. Your privacy and protection must be guaranteed."

Both put on their virtual reality headsets as the voice of Kunagadoga Quasena, one of the leaders of the corporate faction in the Zoranian Civil War, is heard clearly. A dark grey shadow is displayed in the meeting room depicted in the virtual headset.

"Good morning, Mr Quasena. I am President Goldberg of Santos-Dominius, and here with me is Harriet Stuyvesant-Callaghan, CEO of Dominion Bank."

"Good morning, Mr Quasena. There's no time for talk. Let's get straight to business. We are presenting you with an extremely favourable deal. Actually, that sounds criminal. Call it an 'investment package' instead."

Mr Quasena remarked: "I like the way you think, time is money after all."

"It's what I do for a living. Now back to business!" Stuyvesant-Callaghan replied. Pushing a button in her headset, she pulled up a holographic slideshow in the virtual reality meeting room, and continued.

"As the chief executive officer of Dominion Bank, we are officially writing the Zoranian Banking Clan thirteen cheques, with each being precisely ten million SD Dollars. They are unconditionally cashable at any point during the duration of the conflict, but I advise you to use these funds sparingly. Cashing too many of the cheques on a single occasion will present a logistical nightmare for my bank and my subordinates, and it will also draw extremely unwanted attention from some of the more inquisitive underlings of mine, or worse, the press. Therefore, I repeat, cash the cheques sparingly and separately so we can avoid getting onto the headlines of the Santo-Dominian Post."

"A very generous offer, Ms Stuyvesant-Callaghan. Now pardon me, will there be any other......resources?" Mr Quasena asked.

President Goldberg replied: "Of course. Seeing that the Santo-Dominian economy has done exceptionally well this year, Ms Stuyvesant-Callaghan here has managed to expertly convince a few other big names from our country to give up the exponential amounts of corporate welfare and business subsidies. Jean-Phillippe Montserrat, CEO of Meteor Telecom, as well as Otto Friedrich Schulze, CEO of A&A Unlimited,  have both agreed to her proposal to have their own companies do the same. My team of lawyers and legal scholars have found loopholes in Santo-Dominian law to instead inject those subsidies into your faction in form of cold, hard money. We will send it straight to you, no hassle. Our team will handle all the necessary procedures. You have my word that there shall be no headaches for you about this."

"I hope you extend on keeping that promise. Now what do you want in return? I know that regardless of what you say you are going to want something in return.” Mr Quasena inquired.

"There's no actual catch, Mr Quasena." Stuyvesant-Callaghan calmly responded. "In my entire career, I have made countless similar deals with no legal or financial catches. Many of my clients could've easily taken the money I gave them. They could've all gotten away scot-free without a day in court or a second in jail. But that's because President Goldberg and I have far more power in this conversation than you realise."

President Goldberg said: "We have the power of exposure. We expect some sort of tangible financial return or reward from supporting your faction with so much money. And if you betray us, then we will be forced to do two things."

"Number one: publicise this deal. Doing so will bring all three of us down, even if it means great harm to ourselves." Stuyvesant-Callaghan said as her smile faded.

"Number two: we'll retract all the financial aid and make it nothing but scraps of useless paper. And instead inject the money into the monarchist faction." President Goldberg added.

"We expect favours in return, Mr Quasena. Santo-Dominians are neutral, but when we do business, we know how to play smart too."

"You may have had power but I am going to give you a little lesson. Never reveal your hand to the person on the other side of the table. By revealing your hand to me you just exposed your weapon and diminished your power." Mr Quasena rebutted.

"Hm? And what lesson do you intend to give?" The President says, his voice audibly becoming a bit nervous.

"First off, I am not so worried as to what you could reveal, I have faced far worse things before and crushed bigger ants. This would be more of a liability to you in Santos Dominius as you would have violated your neutrality policy. I, on the other hand, would not be so badly affected."

President Goldberg lets out a silent but audible grunt of frustration, probably realising that the both of them had played their hand too early.

"Two, the monarchists are of no concern; they are only held together under that foolish girl Atsil, who will not be much of a threat to me very soon. Lastly, while we do appreciate the financial aid, the Corporate Union has more than enough funds in reserve to last us for about four years. Now I must say, you both have balls making a threat like that to me,” he cuts the end of a cigar before lighting it, “but we are civil folk, yes? I will let your ham-fisted attempt at a threat slide if we just let the deal proceed as discussed. Of course, I will pay you all back once the country is under the Union’s control, that is a given. What sort of businessman I would be if I didn’t provide returns on an investment.”

"Ah ha ha! Consider what we said a harmless joke. It was just our way of testing your resolve and your competence. We like your bravery, and admire your willingness to do whatever is necessary. You play to win, and we see that. Consider the deal sealed. Let us hope that your faction is too big to fail. Both President Goldberg and I can't wait to hear of your inevitable success soon. I'll leave you to whatever it is you're doing." Stuyvesant-Callaghan said as she attempted to transition out of their truly miscalculated threat to Quasena. Evidently, it was a terrible move on her part, one that clearly backfired on both her and the President. A short notification alert was heard, signalling Quasena's departure from the meeting.

"Next time, Harriet, use your brain before you threaten the leader of the Zoranian corporates! He's not just some tiny guy. He's a proven leader, and you should've known not to deal with him like you deal with your insignificant employees. Let's get out of here. I shouldn't have backed you up. Now I've made a fool of myself! The more I think about that embarrassment, the worse my day becomes!" President Goldberg angrily boomed after making sure Quasena was no longer in the meeting.

In the end, as the two signed off from the meeting, removed their VR headsets and walked out the room, they knew that their partnership was successful. Now all they could do was pray that the Zoranian corporates would win, and they would reap plentiful rewards from supporting the right faction at the right moment, for the rewards are huge, but so are the risks.

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Uweyv Nunnehi Campaign

(Duration: 1 month 23 days)

 

Faction:

Monarchists

Theocrats

Corporates

Strength:

20,000 men

1000 men

5,000 men

Losses:

600 Killed

~20 MIA

~800 Killed

50 taken prisoner

~5 MIA

~900 Killed

80 taken prisoner

Remaining:

~19,380 remain

~145 retreated

~4,020 retreated

 

Decisive Monarchist Victory

 

Campaign Report:

26 June, 1420

Began with a push from north of the province, 20,000 men crossed the border into corporate territory. We were able to use guerilla tactics to ambush a few mercenary patrols and steal some supplies. Our scouts were able to mark some mercenary camps where we divided out men and struck at them simultaneously, falling back to lure them deeper into the jungle so we could regroup and use the jungle to our advantage. This resulted in some casualties on our side but we dealt a massive blow to corporate forces in the province. However, there was an unexpected theocratic assault on the province as well so we had quite a few of them to deal with.

One particular soldier showed some impressive prowess on the battlefield, using only a compound bow and a sword to go behind enemy lines to capture a few soldiers prisoner from smaller enemy camps. When asked how he was able to accomplish this seemingly stupidly rash feat he responded saying, “When a man is able to sneak into your camp, kill five of your friends in the night, and rushes you with a sword and starts yelling at you to get on the ground, would you challenge them?” His name is Tagwadihi Sitsameho and he has gained some recognition and admiration among the troops. I believe it would be wise to keep an eye on him for the future.

Ultimately, after a month and a few days of surprise attacks, raids, and pushing we were able to drive the corporates out of the province and have begun sending men out across the province to secure our control. However, this campaign was not without civilian casualties. A few innocent men, women, and children were caught in the crossfire in a few towns and some were blown up by those bloody Dalimbari landmines. While our men also fell victim to them, seeing a child being blown up in front of your eyes is a whole other feeling. Other people have been displaced by the conflict, exact numbers are unknown. As we gain control over the province we shall begin sweeping for mines in order to make it safer for the people. A provisional government for the province has been established until the people are organized enough to send a representative to the civilian legislative council.

We lost about 600 men in this campaign and approximately 50 are MIA. We also have 130 prisoners, 80 from the corporate mercenaries and 50 from the theocrats.

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Lord Eastmarch, back in the study of his cliffside manor house in Saint Mark, closed the connection on his secure phone and looked over to where His Serene Highness sat in a leather wingback chair.

I informed General Waholi of our desire to help the Monarchists take advantage of their momentum, sir. Aside from direct intervention, we will give them anything they need.

Thank you, cousin. The Monarchists have demonstrated that they are the only faction that can govern Zoran with the people's best interests in mind. I am cheered by their recent victories and pray they continue to take control. The sooner this bloody nightmare ends and peace is restored, the better.

The prince raised his glass to his cousin and finished off his bourbon.

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7qbXkfQ.png

Idag i Verden // Today in the World
3 May 1420

Solrunsborg, Keiserholde, Fujai - The Velkting chose today to demand the arrest and trial of all those involved in planning and executing the bombing of Zoradia. The Velkting discussed three public petitions made in the last three days, one to immediately cut all ties with the Zoranian government, one to support the monarchist rebels, and one to continue support and recognition conditional on the arrest and subsequent trial of all those involved. The Velkting voted 89/19/103 in the first round, and 72/139 in the second round, with amendments. VR Terje Håland (R) called the final resolution a “strong demand for justice for the Zoranian people.”

Zoradia Harbor, Zoran - In accordance with the Velkting’s decision, Kustvakt ships sent to support the Zoranian government have been ordered to stand down all non-humanitarian missions. They will continue rescue efforts in Zoradia, serve as mobile hospitals, and coordinate other humanitarian missions. The four ships already in the country for joint exercises were deployed directly to Zoradia, and the two additional vessels deployed were, at last report, nearing Dilberian waters.

Southern Zoran - Utanriksrådgafar (Minister of Foreign Affairs) Ivo Solum (K) met with the Zoranian government following today’s Velktinget vote. Neither Utanriksministerjonet nor the Zoranian government have released any information regarding their outcome. The bombing, intended to be a planned destruction of the city for strategic reasons, resulted in the deaths of many civilians, a fact known to some Zoranian officials before the airstrikes began. It is unclear as of yet how deep the knowledge of these war crimes went.

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Gagotigakanvsgi Campaign
(Duration: 19 days)

 

Faction:

Monarchists

GDC

Corporates

Strength:

3000

2000 men

6,020 men

Losses:

250 Killed

~4 MIA

~400 killed

10 MIA

24 taken prisoner

~300 Killed

20 MIA


 

Remaining:

~2746 retreated

~1566 retreated

~5,700 remain

Corporate Victory
 

Campaign Report:

July 15, 1420

Dear Mr. Quasena,

The Monarchists made a push into one of our provinces in the northern island which resulted in us receiving 4,020 of our men joining our hold here. We decided to make a push to assert our control over the contested province of Gagotigakanvsgi using our forces here to make a push. Using the equipment you purchased from Dalimbar we were able to inflict significant casualties on the GDC troops in that territory. Many of them appeared to be poorly trained and poorly equipped, allowing our men to pick them off easily. However, the monarchist rebels in the area gave us a bit more trouble. They appear to be proficient with guerilla and urban warfare, able to move quickly and concealing themselves with their surroundings. We lost a significant amount of men as we fought in the cities and the jungles but after a few days of fighting we were able to push them out of the province. The attack you ordered on the province that borders Gagotigakanvsgi to the west must have had them decide to pull out of the province in favor of keeping their territory. We are still rooting out small pockets of GDC troops and monarchists scouts but the province should be under your complete control over the course of a few weeks.

From,

General Adanite

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July 15, 1420 AF
2:00 AM Over time

Official statement from the Zoranian Theocrats:

It is with a sad heart that we announce that after the denouncement of the Divine shaman we have lost many supporters. Morale has dwindled and there is little point going forward, it is with a heavy heart that I announce that the theocrats surrender to the other factions of this bloody civil war.

Shaman Oconostota Nideloyu

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zoranian Civil War map as of 16 July 1420

58900832_ZoranianCivilWarMapJuly.thumb.png.50d99ee7399045b9acd945330233adda.png

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July 18, 1420
5:00 AM Over Time
Unknown location

 

Where You Wish To Go, I Cannot Follow

Atsil sits at the table where she has been spending a lot of her time for the past two months. She has been taking her time to read and learn the skills taught in the SIC training manual, everything from being forgettable, pulling quick changes, how to use certain gadgets, how to resist torture, etc. She has also been practicing how to use the techniques she learned with CGZ, she was surprised how willing he was to help her and how hospitable he has been towards her. He has been willing to teach her some basic martial arts and how to use a firearm. He explained to her that he never uses guns or lethal force like his ancestors before him, but he learned how to know how they work, how to best avoid getting shot, and so he knows what they are capable of. While Atsil did not like the idea of killing, she knew that in her situation it is going to be unavoidable.

After two long months of learning and basic training she is almost ready to leave the thief’s sanctum and join the war. She turns the page of the training manual and read the title of the new chapter she was on and she heard a voice behind her say,

“‘Sexpionage - The Art of Seduction,’ that sounds like a fun chapter. I wonder which one of your ancestors developed this one?”

Atils yelped in surprise when she heard CGZ and quickly slammed the book shut. Atsil’s face was a bright red out of embarrassment and CGZ began laughing at her reaction. She growled in annoyance before getting back to her reading. CGZ’s laughter stopped and he sat at the opposite side of the table from her, still wearing a ski mask and sunglasses to conceal his identity.

“So, do you think you’re ready to go out there yet?” asked CGZ,

“Almost, I just have to read this slightly controversial chapter and I should be ready to...to go out there.” she answered without looking up from the book. CGZ nodded before saying,

“Have you thought about what you’re going to do once you go out there and join the monarchists?”

“I have a bit, based on some of the news I have been reading things seem to be going in their favor as they are receiving a lot of international support. If they manage to focus on pushing the corporates out the northern island they will be able to have more resources freed up to focus on attacking the south. It’s simple, I know, but it’s a start.” CGZ chuckled,

“Understandable, I have to ask, do you even know who is leading the Corporates?” Atsil shakes her head as she turns a page in the manual.

“Do you remember a certain Kunagadoga Quasena from your years in secondary school?” Atsil paused at that name and looked up from the manual to look at the lenses of CGZ’s sunglasses,

“I do...are you saying tha-”

“Yes, Kunagadoga is the leader of the Corporates.” Atsil stops for a second and recalls a dream she had two weeks ago. One where a lady spoke to her and said that the son of the basket weaver sought to kill the heir to Ani’-Wah’. She conveys this to CGZ who shrugs in response,

“I am not one to put stock in dreams but I would be lying if I said he didn’t want to kill you.” There was silence between them for a while before she broke it,

“I can read this chapter later when I have time, I need to go there now.” CGZ seemed to have blinked a few times behind his sunglasses before nodding with understanding.

“Ok, I will take you to the monarchists today. Gather up what you need and we will depart.” CGZ got up and made his way to leave the room when Atsil stopped him by asking,

“Why have you really been helping me? I know you said that it was because you felt bad for my situation in all of this but I don’t think that’s your true motive.” CGZ stopped at the open door leading to his library before looking back at her. He let out a sigh,

“Because Kuna should never be allowed to take power, it is no secret that he is a cruel cold hearted bastard but I have a personal vendetta against him for what he did to my sister. Not too long ago, before the mess I made in Saint Jocelyn during the Olympics, my sister met Kunagadonga and for a few months they were friends. However, I knew better and tried to warn her but she didn’t believe me when I said he was a scumbag. Then one day she went to see him and she didn’t come home. That’s when I knew something was wrong and I went out to find Kunagadoga and confront him about my sister. When I found him we got into a fist fight where I ended up coming out on top and demanded to know where my sister was. All he said was that she was ‘anywhere but here.’ I pressed him to tell me what he meant by that only to find out he sold her to human traffickers…” CGZ’s head hung low with defeat, “She’s only a year older than me, nineteen. I have been trying to find her since but to no avail, and when I saw that you became a potential threat to Kuna I didn’t even hesitate to find you. So my actions weren’t entirely selfless, they were primarily driven by a selfish desire for revenge.” Atsil didn’t know what to say, she empathized with him and felt his pain, sorrow, and hate. Her voice was only a whisper when she spoke,

“The room I’m staying in...that was her room wasn’t it?” CGZ nodded,

“Atsil...when you leave here you will not get any aid from me...for where you wish to go I cannot follow. After the stunt I pulled in Cambria they are probably planning on a way of killing me and I don’t think I will be able to survive that when it comes. So I ask this of you, unify the country, avenge its people, and let nothing stand in your way. Build a better Zoran, a better place for the torchbearers of tomorrow.” CGZ’s voice began to crack as he spoke and when he finished he walked through the doorway and left Atsil alone with the weight of the conversation weighing down upon her thoughts.

I didn’t think CGZ was about my age, I guess part of his persona is to appear older than he is. But the pain he must have experienced makes me think of the pain of the Zoranian people. Many are probably seeing me of some sort of savior...but I am just one woman.

She held her head in her hands as she realized the weight of her role she plays in all this. But the words of CGZ echo in her head,

Unify the country, avenge its people, and let nothing stand in your way.

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try.” She said to herself before getting up to gather her things as she prepares to leave.

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