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It's 7566 and stuff's happening
02-11-2016, 11:09 AM
Post: #1
It's 7566 and stuff's happening
Kulla, Febr 12 7566

Fedde steered his steam tractor up the steeply climbing road just past Herrkulla. He was pulling two loads of coal and this was the most treacherous part of the journey. Because of the angle the tractor would not be able to use all its boiler power and the road was covered in snow. If he would loose speed or start slipping, the only option was to back up and try again from the valley floor.

But he made it in one go. The solid rubber tires had been an expensive investment, but they sure paid off. From here on, the upper valley road would lead him to the coal depot. During the winter, when the mountain passes were as good as impossible to cross, steam trucks from both sides would build up supplies of coal for the summer season.

Winter had come early this year and Fedde had missed his last chance to get back to his native Liden. Up until May he would haul coal from the cargo station in Kronsta to the highest depot this side of the Blue Mountains. He stopped his tractor at the Auresian checkpoint. Not that there was any Auresian peacekeeper present, but the checkpoint was one of the few places where steam trucks could pass each other. Fedde knew there were two trucks ahead of him. From the light grey plume some kilometres away he could see that one of them was coming towards him. He blew a signal to indicate he had stopped.

It took 10 minutes or so before the red tractor of the Kronsta Cargo Company made it to the checkpoint. Two soldiers got off from the overcrowded cabin. They yelled something at Fedde, but he didn't speak anything else than Lidenish.

"The other steamer is stuck at the depot. The driver refused to pay at an informal roadblock. That's what these guys have cleared now."
Fedde knew what the other driver meant. 'Informal roadblocks' were checkpoints set up mainly by Lidenish overseers of the mountain road. The Auresian peacekeepers were understaffed in this region and the Lidenish had 'volunteered' to add up to the strength needed. Since they didn't get paid in cash until late spring, the applied different tactics to stand ground. Fedde never had a problem with those roadblocks, since he was from Liden himself. He just waved and continued on his way.

-----

Östervallen, same day

Magnus av Liden just had ended his meeting with the federal governors of the neutral territories. With written reports from Lidenish sockens in the region he had been able to secure a transport monopoly on pig iron from the south. With Lidenish tax money he had reopened the smeltery in Lovis, south of the mountains. Transporting pig iron across the mountains was much more effective than hauling ore. The Lidenish industry was depending on it.

Transporters from Liden had been able to gain large contracts with the peacekeepers, who needed supplies in the neutral territories, especially south of the mountains. Liden had the production capacity for steam trucks, so they took the opportunity. On return trips they began transporting iron.

But with the formation of Vittmark now taking shape, a lot of the new contracts had been rewarded to Ådalen. To create a level playing field, according to the official policy. With donated trucks and tractors, undercutting the costs compared to the Lidenish. So Magnus av Månsta had to apply some tricks to be able to remain the main transporter across the mountains.

Magnus' next meeting was taking place in the same complex. Since he was not on speaking terms with King Karl, he had already started investing in his successor. Crown Prince Thomas would have to run Liden's errants, now and in the future.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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02-12-2016, 03:09 PM
Post: #2
RE: It's 7566 and stuff's happening
Kvarnadalen, Ådalen, 15 Febr 7566

There was a short knock on the door of the small cabin in which Alnor was living, in the outskirts of Åmynningsås. He grabbed his gun and walked towards the door with his usual limb. A reminder of his battlefield experience.

While most former Ådalish soldiers were complaining about the ordeals that took place in the trenches around Kopparbruk, he was quite sure that his urban warfare experience from Talpå must have been much worse. In a trench you would know where your enemy was coming from. In the city he could be anywhere. Or she, in the case of Alnor... The 12 year old took him off-guard while patroling one of the more safe areas of the large harbor city and it was only thanks to her lousy firearms skills that he still was alive.

"Hurry up, Elli," the man outside greeted im teasingly. 'Elli' had become his new nickname since he had returned from the Talpean stand-off. Alnor and his companion quickly joined a larger band, making its way through the main street towards the sawmill. It was a repeat visit, the stim's leader Walafrid still was trying to get back the facility he lost during the Three Ways Conflict. Kvarnadalen had not delivered enough footsoldiers according to the leadership in Äs. So the Stift leader confiscated the mill in 7558 and closed it down so that all the workers could go to the front. After 4 years the production capacity was needed so badly that they had reopened it, but now it was run by a refugee stim who had been exiled from Kletudde. So when the soldiers returned in 7564 to become civilians again, their livelihood was under the management of intruders.

The angry mob was met by the Stift leader, Herr Adis Svensson, who had positioned himself right in the narrow gateway that allowed workers to enter the compound.
"Welcome, herr Walafrid, gentlemen... what can I do for you today?"
It took a while before Walafrid had made his way through the crowd he had gathered himself. Like a true Ådalish leader, he was somewhere at the back...

"Svensson... On behalf of the Eilif stim, Kvarndala socken, I hereby reclaim ownership of Eilifs Kvarn. Vind has never experienced a more creative Exemplar as our ancestor the great Eilif, it is our birthright to own, manage and operate the mill."

"Operate the mill? I thank all of you for the sacrifices you made for Iunsala (OOG Ådalen's leadership), but having marched through fields and kept on to your helmets did not bring you the skills needed to operate the mill. With the troubles now dying down, we need all the production capacity to rebuild our proud city. In fact, Dalens Kvarn is expanding and we need able hands. Which ones of you are willing to start working here? Walking around the streets with a gun in your hand does not bring any food on the table, if you're not a member of the police force."

Alnor started thinking. No matter how much he had learned to hate Svensson, he was at least partially right. Apart from some semi illegal businesses he hadn't gained any income at all the last year or so. An offer to start working and making some money was tempting. And while he slowly was looking around him, he noticed more of his companions were seriously thinking about the opportunity.

But in every group there are always some people blinded by hate that they just do what comes naturally. Alnor's internal argumentation was suddenly ended by a single shot, after which Svensson collapsed like a bag of potatoes. Four more people died that day, a couple got arrested but basicly nothing changed after a bloody anecdote that only made the local papers. Conflicts like this, revenge, hatecrimes, they were so commonplace in Ådalen.


Östvallen, same day

The royal train stopped the Västerport station, terminus on the broad gauge Ådalish railway network. Furst Göran Ådahl quickly disembarked, surrounded by a dozen or so uniformed guards. But they were quickly stopped by the local seurity services.

"Out of the way, little man, can't you see who this is?"
"To me this looks like a group of armed military from Ådalen, sir. Östervallen is neutral territory, Ådalish uniforms are only allowed after the standard accreditation process. The gentlemen don't have an accreditation to show?"

"This is King Göran..."
"... Furst Göran," the federal security officer interrupted him.
"... and he is visiting Oxiehärad in his capacity of Stift Overlord of Iunsala. The people from Västanvik have waited months for this. Now get out of the way, the train was already late."

"If the gentlemen would be so kind to hand over all firearms, then this company can continue on its business in no time."
"Hand over our weapons? We're the Royal Guard of Iunsala. We protect the King..."
"... the Furst.... and you are free to do so. But not as armed Ådalish military. If his lordship is willing to wait, I'll arrange an armed convoy by one of the Anarian peacekeeping garrisons in town."

"We don't trust anyone in this city, not even the foreigners... especially the foreigners. Trust me, the King's security is best off in our capable hands."
"So... what you're saying is that you don't trust the armed forces of Östvallen, nor the Treaty Peacekeepers, but that we should trust you?"

The federal officer suddenly had changed his tone. He only addressed people with 'you' when he was really annoyed. But then he was interrupted himself by a civilian that had appeared behind him.

"Can I be of assistance? Kald Haraldsson is my name. I am the deputy mayor for the Old Town. His lordship is welcome to visit the city and meet anyone his lordship desires, but on our terms."
"King Göran..."
"... Furst," murmured the federal officer.
"... does not recognize your authority, Haraldsson. Until there is an agreement about jointly governing Östvallen from Borgö, the western part of the city still fall under Iunsala Stift."

"So, what are you proposing? Does the Lord Commander think he can just barge in carrying firearms in a declared neutral zone? Too much has already been destroyed by people carrying weapons. The citizens are slowly getting back to creating again, the last thing they need is unaccredited armed forces roaming the streets. There is no room anymore for the ways of the conflicts, one's position is no longer defined by the amount of firepower being carried around."

Haraldsson then addressed Furst Göran directly.
"His Majesty might not approve of my temporary authorities, but I do acknowledge the authority of His Majesty as the legitimate leader of Iunsala Stift. I will do anything in my power to accommodate His Majesty's visit, but it has to be done in accordance with the Treaty of Nisipari."

But Göran Ådahl turned around without having uttered a word. Back in the train he gave his orders.
"Two of you go outside and gathers a crowd in front of the station. Let these pen-pushers feel the might of the people. I'm staying right here. Someone will have to pay for this."

Furst Göran didn't have much choice other than staying in his coach. It would take at least half an hour to manoeuver the locomotive back to the other side of the train. Refilling coal might take even longer. Time he would be spending by letting tension build up.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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02-15-2016, 12:07 PM
Post: #3
RE: It's 7566 and stuff's happening
Nabben (Laxholm), 20th Febr 7566

A contingent of about federal 60 soldiers were gathered on the field outside the temporary camp about 8 kilometres from Nabben. Headed by Commander Iarl av Fälkinge they started marching towards the port town. The military objective was clear: to take over strategic positions from local militais and their foreign support in order to prepare for the arrival of the first supplies ship in the harbor.

Since 7558 a local Häverist militia was ruling over the city, governing it as an autonomous region. But the city had been assigned to the member state of Laxholm in 7464. Until today, the city board simply had ignored all the pleas for cooperation towards a transition of power. After two years King Karl thought the time had come to imply Laxholm rule over the city. So he had sent a contingent of federal army soldiers, headed by a Lidenish Commander. Of course, King Karl had made sure that there was a back-up from international peacekeepers at hand, in case the Häverists would respond with violence.

But when the first group of 20 reached the checkpoint on the main road from the south, the local militiamen just saluted when they passed. The sergeant handed over some paperwork when he passed the roadblock as the last of this group. Even in the town itself, the federal soldiers could manoeuver freely, uninterrupted by the Häverist militiamen.

"Good morning gentlemen," saluted a local officer when the second group arrived and set up guardposts around the port facilities, "could I see your standing orders?"
Another sergeant handed over a letter to the militiaman.
"Arrival of goods... distribution of cargo... Östervallen... This all seems in order.2
The local militiamen didn't leave though, they just remained on their posts as usual. The federals didn't make any move to remove them from their positions either.

Commander Fälkinge reported to town hall, escorted by a dozen or so lightly armed security guards.
"Överste Fälkinge, Länsförsvarsenheten i Laxholm, requesting consultation with herr Gunnarsson."
After having waited for 20 minutes or so, he was led into an office where a portrait of Peter Häver himself was hanging prominently on the wall behind Gunnarsson's desk.

"I am sorry to have kept you waiting, commander," he greeted formally when he got up from behind his desk.
"Well, our arrival wasn't exactly scheduled with your administration, herr Gunnarsson. Might I inquire which rank his lordship is carrying?"

Gunnarsson laughed.
"The commander has been misinformed. I do not carry a military rank. I am a civil engineer, which would make me a Master. The security forces of Nabben fall under the civilian board."

Commander Fälkinge handed over a portfolio with some papers to Gunnarsson.
"The federal army is here to implement the Treaty of Nisipari. The city of Nabben has been assigned to Laxholm, but so far your civilian board has not..."

"Let me stop you right there, herr överste. It is no secret that the civilians of Nabben are not happy with the new situation. However, we are not happy with the weather either. This is something we do not agree with, but we are realistic enough not to resist against it. The civilian security forces have gotten orders to allow the federal military to exercise its orders. But let me make this clear, this is the city of Nabben where the chosen citizens intend to remain in charge of local affairs. Just like any other locality is empowered to choose its own leadership."

"My orders are not to remove local figures of authority that comply with our mission. As long as we can carry out the requirements of the Treaty of Nisipari, the local population will not notice any differences. However... my lord commander has ordered me to inquire about the resoning behind the civilian board ignoring our pleads for political cooperation so far."

"Honestly speaking, it was not prioritized. We have to rebuild a city, create jobs for the residents. But we have complied to some of the requirements of the Treaty already. If the commander would like to follow us on a field trip, I would be happy to show him the port concession."

Commander Fälkinge knew that this situation wasn't over yet. The häverists had set up shop in Nabben. Although the economical value of the town was not as big as any of the other port concession cities, it was a hell of a bridgehead in northern Stoldavia. And the commanding officer of the Häverist batallion wasn't as nearly as friendly as his civilian puppet in town hall.


Östervik (Laxholm), same day

Word of the peaceful take-over of Nabben by federal forces arrived quickly in Östervik. Mayor Qvarnby took the opportunity to call his liaison in Östervallen.
"Any news on when the federals are marching towards Kobbe?"
'But his liaison remained quiet on the other side of the line.

When Laxholm got its status as member state of Vittmark, Östervik had been assigned to it as its capital. But a Hagenite backed government had been established in Laxholm Borg in the city of Kobbe. Despite a multitude of protests from Östervik, no one had taken any action to bring the seat of government to Östervik, as it was promised.

"Mr. mayor, no such plans have been formulated. According to my sources, the federal involvement in Laxholm ends here.
"Well, in that case, we might have to become as obnoxious as the häverists in Nabben to get the attention we deserve. We want that state government here in Östervik and I won't hesitate to remind King Karl of that article of the Treaty of Nisipari myself."

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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02-23-2016, 04:34 PM
Post: #4
RE: It's 7566 and stuff's happening
Uppforsa, March 7th 7566

"Sir, is this arrest order still in place?"
The local police officer handed a sheet of paper to his superior.
"Hmm... I guess so. Why are you asking?"
"There are strong rumors that Kristersson will attend the trial at the courthouse in Uppforsa tomorrow."
"In that case, we should do an ID controll at the terminus of the cog railway to Fjällsta. We'll pick him up if he shows up."


March 8th

Kristersson paid for his ticket with an I-owe-you. He got on board with his large case containing his double bass. The journey toward Uppforsa was going slowly, as usual, with the short train turning and winding through the mountain valley in order to make up for the height difference.

In the mean time the local police had set up a control post at the railway station for the Fjällsta railway. The officers had been instructed only to let people with valid paperwork pass. Which excluded as good as anyone coming from Fjällsta, since that mountain city was mainly in habited by unaffiliated, landless individuals. In order to avoid a gridlock on the platform, the people getting refused access would be directed to the left hand side, returning them to the cargo platform and keeping them there until the platform had cleared. The train was slowly approaching and there was a hint of tension in the air.

Palne Kristersson was used to the hustle and bustle of the small railway stations in the south. He immediately noticed that the entire police force had set up shop at the other platform. Which meant that he could leave the station terminus on the Grönspång line without any problem.

At the courthouse, only one of the legal aides had arrived so far.
"Herr Kristersson, welcome in Uppforsa. How long has it been?"
"Ages," he replied. He put down his case, opened it and extracted a case file from between the sheet music.
"That's not a subtle disguise his lordship is carrying there."

"That's the entire plan. I got checked at the platform in Kronsta, making sure that there only was a musical instrument, no guns, no explosives. The same happened when I had to change trains in Lovis Bruk and then again last night in Grönspång. They're so busy checking the instrument and case that the paperwork hardly gets any attention."

As it turned out, the hearing would be with only two representatives of the Frifågel Stond. But the room was packed: representatives from the federal government, Lidenish entrepreneurs, the occassional journalist... Two judges approached through the main door and sat down behind the desk.

"Only two?" the legal aide whispered just loud enough for the judges to hear.
"Order... We start this session with a hearing between United Steel & Coal from Tammerköping, Liden; concerning the ownership and exploitation rights of the mines at Fjällsta," one of the judges started. This was the federally appointed judge for the territory of Uppforsbackar. The other judge, representing US&C took over.
"I present the transfer of ownership from Månsta Ståhl to US&C, signed in February 7665, which grants the exploitation rights of the mines at Fjällsta until 7680."

The Lidenish judge put the paperwork on display, upon which a couple of people approached the stand to examine the document.
"Your honor," the legal aide started when he quickly had glanced over the document, "my name is Tosse Staffansson, I have with me a signed document from 232 residents from Fjällsta to represent them, would their Lordships allow me to address the case?"
The federal judge quickly read through the document and decided to put it on display as well. But the other judge countered.

"This document does not prove the actual existance of any of the people mentioned here. Is there anyone in this room who has signed this document? Otherwise we can simply dismiss it immediately." He was already signaling a clerk to withdraw the document, since he knew that the residents of Fjällsta had been stopped at the railway station. But then Palne stood up.

"Your lordships, my name is on that list, and I have proper identification. Can I approach?"
A surge of murmuring went through the room. Although not many people had ever met Palne Kristersson, his melodic, almost quirky voice was a trademark sign that was easily recognized as belonging to the aleged rebel leader.

Palne handed over travelling documents from the Lidenish embassy in Cedelphia. The stamps proved that he had been residing in Auresia for a couple of years and that he had returned not too long ago. His status was mentioned as "Resident of the Allied Territory of Nelvesdalia", which didn't make him a citizen, but at least he could prove he existed. He even pointed out where his signature was in the document that the legal aide previously had presented.

"This court acknowledges herr... Kristersson?" The judge paused for a couple of seconds. He knew that there was a warrant for arrest out for this man, but one could not get arrested in court unless you were breaching court rules.
"Kristersson... as belonging to the accused party in this hearing. Let me see..."
The federal judge started flipping through a box with paperwork which formed the framework of this young judicial institution, so young that the book hadn't even been printed.

What followed was a lengthy public debate between the two judges. According to the court rules, the accused party was allowed to point out its own judge in any hearing or ruling, as was commonplace in all Vittmarker courts. No matter how much the Lidenish judge objected, the book was clear about the matter, Kristersson could be represented by a judge of his choice. But his legal aide wasn't allowed to do so, since he didn't have any education.

"If their lordships allow me, I could serve as judge myself," Palne proposed.
He produced some more paperwork, one indicating that he had had some basic training as värd (host) and trainee alf from the sockens at Ekshärad and Odensala in Friställen Territory. Other papers contained a partial register of the Frifågel Stond, where several members had appointed Palne as their first choice as judge in case of any legal matters.
The Lidenish judge objected of course, but in this case Kristersson wasn't standing trial himself, so he could legally represent the group that was accused, just like any other stim could bring their own judge to a Medior Court ruling.

So the Lidenish judge had to change his strategy. Instead of making this a formality case without the accused being present, he now had to see to it that the court would be adjourned. As soon as Kristersson would leave the courthouse, he would get arrested. But the federal judge followed the book.

"According to the statutes this court is now ready to hold a formal hearing. So let's continue."
Palne had some more paperwork appearing from between his sheet music.
"This document, my lordships, is a certified copy of the Preliminary Executive of Östvallen as deputy for governing Nelfesdalia Territory on behalf of the Alliance. I assume my colleague has this as well?"
The Lidenish judge of course was aware of this document, but hadn't presented it yet. He was a bit surprised Palne now did.

"It is dated July 19th 7553 and grants the right of exploitation of the Felsen Mine to Månsta Ståhl in Liden for a period of 15 years. Which means that Månsta Ståhl has sold something to United that wasn't theirs to begin with, a concession towards 7580, while this document from Östvallen grants a concession to 7668. That alone is reason enough for this court to disallow the claim made by United in the first place."

"Secondly," Palne continued after the document was put on display, "we would like to state that Östvallens grant also was a concession of rights which weren't theirs to begin with. The Mörenburger company ABI Felsen left the mines in 7552. The local people took over the equipment and grants during the winter of 7553. This isn't documented as such, but remember that it was the final phase of the war, retreats didn't allow for paperwork in those circumstances. But the people of Fjällsta, organized under the banner of the Frifågel Stond, have operated the mines from before July 7553. Neither the Executive of Östvallen, nor the Kulla regime has ever acquired the mining rights."

The other two judges needed to study the documents before they could make a ruling. Palne got immunity as long as the case would take for all previous events, he could only get arrested for new misdemeanors.

------

Äs, Ådalen, a couple of hours later.

During supper Görn Ådahl was presented a telegram from the Ådalish regime's liaison in Uppforsa. It stated that the renowned terrorist Kristersson had been allowed to judge in a case against Liden, and that it looked that he might be able to win the case.

"Well, the Fjällsta mine isn't an important assett in the south, but I sure as sike would be glad if Liden wasn't allowed to exploit it. And we might have a rebel heathen to thank for it."

Ulla looked up from her plate.
"Which rebel?" she asked.
"That damned Kristersson... remember when our father decided to march south through the mountains in order to make our own claim in the region? That barbarian turned the roads into treacherous deathtraps."
"Of course I remember. Our troops got so scared from some inscriptions on abandoned buildings and a couple of peasants with pitchforks that they rushed through the territory, leaving a trail of accidents. Which made the troops even more insecure..."

Göran threw down his fork.
"That is NOT what happened. Our troops were ambushed by rebel cowards. Those thugs were at war with everyone, with the establishment of Friställen, with the Allied forces in Nelvesdalia, with Liden... And besides, what would you know, you were only 15 at the time."

"16," replied Ulla, knowing that that one year made all the difference.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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03-03-2016, 10:25 AM (This post was last modified: 03-03-2016 01:56 PM by Pepijn.)
Post: #5
RE: It's 7566 and stuff's happening
Cedelphia, March 20th 7566

A knock on the door interrupted the well prepared photo session. Anna Karlsdotter made sure the plates wouldn't be exposed during this interuption. Teres quickly put on a robe and made herself scarce, while Anna opened the curtains. flooding the room with daylight once again. She was at the door of her apartment when the embassy's clerk knocked for a second time.

"Your highness... An executive order from His Majesty."
He handed over the diplomatic mail envelope, which upon opening proved to contain a telegram. The clerk wanted to follow Anna in, but the guard at the door stopped him. He then pointed to the floor, indicating that he should stay foot, without saying a word.

Anna's father, King Karl of Vittmark had ordered her daughter to return to Vittmark immediately. She had been handed custody over the Herrkulla mansion in Kulla, one of the smaller but more centrally located shrines in the Blue Mountains. The original plan was that she would take over at the start of the new year. But her still being busy making photographs in her Cedelphian apartment the day before new year indicated that she had no immediate plans to return.

That cause of action had been anticipated, even by the embassy staff. So five minutes after the clerk left emptyhanded, a federal captain appeared at the door.
"I have strict orders to escort her ladyship to the ambassadors residence."
The same afternoon some movers started to pack all her belonging into wooden crates, to be shipped to Östvallen.


Still Cedelphia, 2 days later
A small motorcade stopped in front of the entrance of the art school of Cedelphia. All 3 cars sported the Vittmarker flag. Princess Anna exited from the middle one, walking slowly towards the entrance. She started chitchatting with some acquaintances she met in the corridors, which made her consorts pretty nervous. But Anna made sure that the art school was her domain, not that of the embassy or her father.

That wasn't completely true, because King Karl clearly had pulled some strings. As former ambassador of Liden to Auresia, he had an extensive network. It was no problem to get a makeshift graduation ceremony organized, even though the end of March was an unlikely time for handing out graduation papers. But King Karl didn't want to wait any further and removed the only visible obstacle that kept his daughter in Cedelphia. Anna didn't want to leave without her artschool degree in photography.

The arts professor clearly wasn't amused either. The dean and rector, both present for the occassion, had a more practical approach. Having foreign royalty among your alumni never hurts the reputation of any educational institute. The ceremony should not take very long, since Anna was the only graduate. But Anna had different plans, as usual.

"Your Magnificence, Your Notability, Your Very Well Learned Sirs... I want to assure their lordships that this ceremony is not coming from my request. I would have prefered to fulfill all the obligations, all the assignments I still was working on. And I intend to do so."
The very same clerk that appeared on her doorsteps two days before now moved forward and handed over a portfolio. Anna opened it and handed over almost a dozen of photographs to her art professor.

The three men at the other side really took the time to study the material handed over. They exchanged the pictures between them, murmuring short sentences. Finally, the art professor replied.
"Annacarlia Culla, Your Highness..." he added with a faint smile.
"This material will not change the outcome of the procedure today. We have already decided that you will get your degree. And I got clear instructions from the dean not to include your work in the usual graduation exhibition."

"I am aware of that. My father doesn't want me to be an artist, so any evidence of that will be kept hidden. I adapted the material knowing that no one besides you three would lay eyes on it. I'm hesitative if you would have included the photographs anyway, because of the nature of the subject. But without the restrictions of the public eye, I could focus completely on the interaction between the human body, light and photographic plates."

The professor had to agree that Anna had experimented a lot with artificial lighting in a darker environment, creating some exciting compositions making use of depth-of-field to create unexpected focus. While nudity was completely accepted in painting and drawing as an artform, it didn't have the same status in photography. Yet. And Anna went all the way with full frontal shots, leaving most part of the head outside the frame.

"Actually, my graduation project was a bit more mainstream."
Once again she handed over some photographs, smaller ones, six female portraits. Half of them with light backgrounds, half of them in dark.
"Nice work, but not as impressive as the other ones," the professor replied while he put the 6 pictures next to each other. The women portrayed showed a remarkable resemblance, but clearly weren't one and the same person.

"Technically they might notbe as... exciting as the other ones, but the message is more important here. Do your lordships allow me?"
Anna turned around and asked the embassy's security officer to approach.
"Has herr fänrik seen my work before?"
"Your highness, I wasn't even aware you were bringing photographs, this was..."

"Please, professor, show the officer the portraits."
The security man approached the large table where the professor had turned around the portraits. The man clearly wasn't an art critic, but he couldn't miss the resemblance between the six girls portrayed. They almost looked like... sisters... He then turned around, looked at Anna and pointed to a light picture with a girl with a dreamy expression and flowers in her hair.

"Marriandra?" he asked.
Anna nodded.
He then picked up the only picture where the girl had dark straight hair.
"Lukrissa... then this must be Sunsanna..."
He picked up a dark picture with a girl with long blonde hair.

The faculty staff was puzzled.
"Do you know these women?"
"No... no, not as such. They're the Sisters of Mercy. This is probably the most well known book of the Orkanan Scriptures. This is Marriandra, woman of the land. This is Lukrissa, the persistent one... Sunsanna, bearer of true light."
The officer picked up another one, short hair with bangs.
"This must be Ermana, the all encompassing."
He then picked up both remaining pictures and looked at the two blonde girls, one on a dark and one on a light background. He turned around towards Anna.

"This one looks like she's in charge, then this must be Adeleis. So the last one is Vallentina, the forgiving one."
"Turn them around," Anna replied.
The officer had not only recognized the series of portrays as the Sisters of Mercy, but even identified each single one right, based only on appearance. The dean was even more impressed than the professor. By only using imagery Anna had been able to tap into the joint conscience of the followers of Orkanan. The photographs represented the link between ancient stories and modern day technology in a single piece of art.

Half an hour later the motorcade rolled through the streets of Cedelphia again. Anna looked through the windows from her back seat. It was a windy, grey day. Not the type of weather you would like to see at the very last occassion she would see Cedelphia in this particular way. As a princess of Vittmark, her days of carefree living were over, her travelling plans restricted by etiquette and her father's plans. But at least she now had the feeling that she had earned the degree she held in her hand.

At the railway station, Teres was already present in the First Class waiting room. She waved the scroll at her.
"Guess what, I passed" she yelled ironically.
The afternoon express would take them to Impport, where they would board an overnight flight by Pan-Anarian Airways towards Ålesund, where they had to change for their final destination Östvallen.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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03-10-2016, 06:27 PM
Post: #6
RE: It's 7566 and stuff's happening
Östvallen, April 30th 7566

A loud banging on the door...
"Lemme in, lemme in! They're right behind me!"
The host of the mantalshus quickly opened the door, since he had recognized the voice.
"Vald-and-a-half... those federals followed me into Liungby that has never happened before."

Since the Treaty of Nisipari the capital of Östvallen had seen a whole range of peacekeepers, Auresians, Anisorans, Amberians but also domestic lads funded with federal money. So far, these peacekeepers had only kept themselves to the main thoroughfares, the main squares of the city. A place like Liungby with its triangular shape and narrow streets usually was a no-go zone for non-locals. Until today so it seemed.

"What happened?" the host asked.
"We tought those Sunnans just behind Tullplanen a lesson, just like we discussed earlier. And suddenly the federals barged in. In a mantalshus. Can you imagine that?"
A mantalshus was a place where anyone could meet, talk and meditate together. Starting fights with local minorities was just as unholy as the federals barging in on the fight, but that was something he left out.

Some more knocking on the door.
"Federal police, open up."
"You're not welcome here! This is a mantalshus dedicated to Exemplar Arn!"
The policemen kicked in the door, but didn't get in.
"So we've heard," he replied. "We are not coming in unless we're invited. But we are looking for some men that didn't show the same courtesy in the Sunna mantalshus at the other side of Tullplanen."
"So then you have nothing against it if we wait until they come out?"

The police officers clearly had lost track of the people they were chasing. Only one man had made it here. The other had managed to shake of the police earlier in the maze. And waiting really wasn't an option either, this was Arn territory and a crowd started gathering. Three policemen were no match for a couple of dozen of locals.

"We'll file a complaint at Valby Stift for harboring these savages that started a fight in another mantalshus. This isn't over."
"It's not over for you, we'll file a complaint about you to Valby Stift for destroying Arn property."
"What, you call these woodbits a door? We used better would to mark the graves of the Wolgos back in the days. Our kids write on pieces of paper at school which are stronger than this. May Vind find a purpose for you and yours."

-----

A few hundred metres away, a group of local leaders had gathered at Huge Sala.
"King Karl has given us a clear ultimatum. We will have to form a city government before the end of the year, including all the factions living in the territory."
"Or else?"
"Or else the federal government will put it under its permanent rule."
"He has made these threads before. He doesn't have the means to make it happen."
"That remains to be seen. We have seen many new federal recuits, mainly for the south, who are willing to serve for half a crown. And they are getting trained by the Hagenites."

It was obvious that these local leaders weren't interested in a stable government covering the entire city. Their modus operandi was based on the divide and conquer practice of Östvallen. Disagreements were settled on the street, not by the police or in court. Those were business opportunities, as well as ways to keep people attached to your agenda.

But those local clan leaders had felt a shift the last year. Some were wondering if there would be a place for them in a nation not defined by violence and group interests. Their way of working, their way of keeping in charge was slowly eroding away. Opposing this city rule was the only way to keep the things the way they were.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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03-17-2016, 05:19 PM
Post: #7
RE: It's 7566 and stuff's happening
Trattskrona, Friställen, 23 April 7566

Kornald came in through the narrow front door of his cottage, wthout knocking, without greeting, without showing any willingness of communication. He sat down on the stool at the table near the kitchen. His wife Dara knew exactly what this meant.

This morning, Kornald had made yet another trip to the village's mantalshus. He had been out of work for 2-3 years now. He lost his occupation when his stim had sold off a large piece of forest land to a mining company from Hagen. They paid well, in cash. But forestry now was taken over by machines which required just a few skilled operators. Skills no one in Trattskrona had. They were used to do things by hand and have horses around for the tough hauls.

Many of his former working comrades had started working in the sawmill. But even here the amount of work was not enough to cover for everyone that was out of a job now. Payment wasn't that good either, but still better than getting nothing. Sure, there was some building activity, but that was mainly the overseers mansion in the outskirts, or the extension of the sawmill itself. And the Hagenites were picky when it came to carpentry, they weren't keen on employing unskilled locals.

The money from the sales had lasted a couple of years. So those without a job would get support from the stim, through the socken. But if you use investment money to pay for reoccurring costs, then the financial means will be gone after a while. That moment had come last month. Kornald, Dara and their 3 children were now at the mercy of their fellow stim members to support them. The stim's alf, also a non-productive member of society, was using most of the surplus, if there was any surplus. Then the socken would jump in, because the socken leadership wanted the alfs that had helped them selling out assetts and assuring themselves easy, well paid jobs to remain in leading posituions of society.

"I'm going to Lovis Bruk", was the first thing Kornald said.
"They're paying even less than the sawmill here," Dara replied.
"I don't know. That's what people tell us. But who has ever been there and got a paid job? They're just scaring us so we stay here. Eating the same grass as our goats. The roads will be dry by now, I can get there in 2-3 days walking."
Dara shook her head. But she knew her husband was right. There was no future here since those idiots had sold the forests in return for quick money and empty promises. Land is everything. Now they had nothing, were nothing.

-----

Lovis Bruk, that very same day.

The Lidenish representative sat frustrated at the bar. Once again he had deposited his briefcase filled with cash at the local bank. For three weeks he had been travelling around in order to buy forest land for his landlords in Liden. Hagen and Ådalen were doing it in Friställen, so Liden would have to catch up.

He hadn't been able to acquire a single piece of land. He had tried south of Lovis Bruk, and in the eastern valleys, but those stubborn southerners were not at all interested in selling land. They were willing to sell the trees as timber, after cutting them and sawing them, but his orders were clear: buy land. He then had moved his efforts to the north, but reception there was even worse. The whole of Kulla seemed to be private property of King Karl, managed by a dozen or so puppet landlords. And the buyers from Ådalen and Hagen seemed to have bought most of the available land in Friställen.

It looked like Liden had missed out on Friställen. The locals had been hit hard by the Pan Anarian and the following internal conflicts. The whole structure of society had been uprooted, with the old landlords being overthrown and banished from the territory. The new authorities were willing to sell off in order to get some cash for redevelopment of the region. Although very often the money was used to buy weapons and pay militiamen to make sure the new authorities remained the authority.

But Liden wasn't present here. They had been stuck in Inälvsdalen. When the Mörenburgers left the local minorities had taken over possessions easily, settlers from Liden and Ådalen came too late to fill up the vacuum. They were allowed to stay, work the land under lease, but no ownership. Those southerners clung fiercely onto their freely acquired possessions. Liden had tried to uproot society with armed insurgents, but the mountains were foreign terrain for the Lidenish, who also suffered from ridiculously long supply lines.

He emptied his thirty-seventeenth glass (which is the common expression for anyone who lost track of his or her alcohol intake). He silently cursed King Karl, who had been so smart to outmanoeuver the greatest nation on Gotha, Liden, through his Anarian contacts.
"Ah well, no king lives forever..."

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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03-27-2016, 04:06 PM
Post: #8
RE: It's 7566 and stuff's happening
May 13th 7566

The Hagenite delegation had been on the train for an entire day, a train that slowly had taken them through the landscape of Liden. A learning experience for these politicians.

Liden's landscape was open. Industrial towns and cities in all sizes. Liden was the most developed and most urbanized of the member states of Vittmark. This contrary to Hagen, Liden's northern neighbor, which only had two cities to speak of and a whole forested, agricultural hinterland that was rather sparsely populated.

But the Hagenites hadn't seen a real forest the entire day. Liden's landscape had been stripped of all its trees, for building houses, building ships, for the mining industry or simply as fuel. Apart from the trees left on the borders between different pieces of land, or different owners, trees were scarce. Most of the landscape consisted of gently rolling hills with grassland, or in the more fertile river valleys also some agricultural produce.

It gave the Hagenites a better understanding of Liden's driving force. They had emptied their mines from most of its raw materials and they had stripped the landscape of its most valuable raw material. Liden might be well developed, hardly affected by the Pan-Anarian War of Three Ways Conflicts, but remaining on the top had come at a cost. That's why Liden tried to get control over the forests and mines in the south.

Hagen could relate to the problem, but wasn't suffering from it in the same sense. Sure, the western state of Kötthagen (or Western Hagen as the Hagenites still tended to call it) had its fair share of open landscapes surrounding the mines in the southern parts of the member state. But there was plenty of forest left in the north. And plenty of iron ore as well.

The Hagenites were travelling towards Östvallen for a different reason though. They had to settle on a border between their state and Liden. In reality, it was a patchwork of villages, meadows and forests scattered among many owners, managed by a multitude of stims and sockens with affiliations to both sides. The international peacekeepers had drawn an artficial line and had since then been busy keepin the piece in the areas that had ended up at the wrong side of that line. There weren't too many serious incidents in the region, not if you would compare it to Kram or Kletudde, but still it was a labour intensive operation for the peacekeepers who weren't planning on sticking around for all eternity.

The train had halted at Marknäs. Usually not a stop on this service. Apart from some military presence on the platform, most of the village seemed desolated. Some elderly people walked around with bundles of twigs on their back, resupplying the forewood for the nights that still were chilly in this area. Then the conductor opened the coach door and stuck his head in.

"I'm sorry, gentlemen, for the delay. But there are some problems with switches between here and Månstaplan station. It is possible that we will get diverted to Borgö Terminus instead, if there's room at the platforms. But we didn't want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere. I hope this isn't too much of an inconvenience."

"Ah well, that's King Karl's Östvallen in a nutshell: nothing works and everything breaks down!" replied the delegation leader.

-----

Östvallen, same day

At the Hagenite Hotel the staff was getting worried. Every member state, and even many other groups, had their own hotels in the capital. This dated back from before the Pan-Anarian War, when Östvallen was a neutral meeting ground for traders and politicians. Hagen's hotel, called Hagens Första (Hagen's First) was located in the Ex. Frida neighborhood of the New Town.

The hotel host had been waiting at the Månstaplan railway station for a political delegation from the homeland to arrive. But no trains had arrived the last hour, and railway personell had no idea about when to expect the next arrival. It wasn't very common these days that trains were robbed, or that travellers had been abducted for ransom, but it had been a plague during the latter years of the Three Ways Conflicts. The people conducting these robberies and kidnapping were still at large, so there wasn't any reason to assume something like this could not occurr.

Having hotel staff waiting at the station was a normal procedure though. The road from the station to the hotel went straight through territory of Ex. Anders and Ex. Arnold sockens, both strongly affiliated with Liden. There weren't enough peacekeepers on the streets to guarantee a safe passing of a delegation that clearly was Hagenite.

Then the news arrived that all trains had been rerouted to Borgö station. The host uttered a huge sigh of relief. Not only had it become clear that the trains would be arriving, but Borgö station had a better location in relation to the hotel. From there one could easily take a carriage through the partially abandoned government complex of Borgö and then head south across the wide street that divided Ex. Huge from Ex. Anders socken, a street that always was patrolled by peacekeepers.

He signalled his coach driver who had been resting the horses in front of the station for the last couple of hours and instructed him to take him to Borgö station.
"Not a moment too soon," the driver replied, "I'm completely out of tobacco and biscuits that I could use as excuse to break conversation with some peacekeepers. The only way to keep the Andermen and Arnoldmen at bay. Borgö it is. Much safer there, nothing ever happens at Borgö."

Both men laughed. Indeed nothing ever happened at Borgö. It was supposed to house the city government, but since the different groups that occupied parts of the capital hadn't even started talking about which different opinions they had about joint local government, the complex stood there largely unused. This contrary to the federal government complex at the walled city-within-a-city Östervallen, where people were coming and going all the time.

"I hope they will reopen the Nersta station at Östervallen soon. It would be a lot easier for us to pick up our guests from that terminus."

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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04-19-2016, 08:44 AM
Post: #9
RE: It's 7566 and stuff's happening
Sandsala, June 27th 7566

Just like Östvallen and Kopparbruk, Sandsala was a divided city. The whole valley of Sanddalen was an ill defined border territory between Ådalen and Liden, with some independantly operating patches mixed in as well. There were farming communities on each side of the river belonging to the Stift on the other side. And vice versa. They all depended on smaller market towns for selling their produce and buying supplies. Sandsala was the largest of these towns and one of the few in use by both sides.

Love Stensudde had it relatively easy moving around in his home town. (In case you're wondering, his name is pronounced LOO-wuh). His uncle was the appointed mayor and a distant cousin to King Karl av Kulla. The Stensudde stim therefore didn't have ties to Liden nor Ådalen and its members were welcome in most neighborhoods. But Love had developed a sixth sense, like anyone else living and working in this town, when he would go from one neighborhood to another.

The houses in the Ådalish sockens had their horizontal wooden panels painted in Dalens red, a typical water based dye with copper and iron, a by-product from the mines of Kopparbruk. The Lidenish houses not only had vertical paneling, but were mostly painted in an almost brownish variety of the dye, since the by-products of Lidenish mines had a different mineral composition. Painting houses was a rather recent fad in Vittmark, it started when more and more houses had to be built in timber frame with panel facades instead of the traditional solid logs. The Pan Anarian War had made timber a scarce commodity. But panels were more vulnerable to the weather and the cheap mining by-product had good preserving capacities. Still, the town ad lots of unpainted, brownish to almost black log buildings. Only a few people could afford to paint with real paint, based on rapeseed oils. Then the difference between the Ådalish and Lidenish sides became more obvious: Ådalish sockens paint their doors blue, while the Lidenish use dark green.

Love steered his wagon in one of the side streets leading from the Lidenish market place. He had just bought crates full of tomatoes, cucumbers and rhubarb on the Lidenish marketplace in front of Exemplar Bäckes Mantalshus. First he would ride the two blocks that separated Lidenish Bäcke from his own stims Salaskog square, where he would sell the rhubarb to the local baker. He then continued passed the railway station and across the tracks towards Biörsta. The price for tomatoes and cucumbers at the Ådalish side were much higher, so Love could sell easily with a nice profit. At around 5 PM he returned to Salaskog, where he reported to the clerk at the mantalshus.

"Hello Love, how's business?" the clerk asked.
"I just love the summer season, it is by far the most profitable time of the year."
Love handed over a notebook where he had kept track of his sales. He had to pay for his membership of his stim, and therefore his socken, through a tithe. The money was used for maintenance on the socken's Hall, street pavement and lighting, the alf's and teacher's salary, etc. It had been a flat rate of a tenth as long as Love could remember.

"That's not correct," Love said when he got his notebook back, "yoy calculated too much".
"I'm afraid not," the clerk replied, "it's the new tax, remember?"
But Love didn't remember.
"Love, Love... Why do you pay the tithe if you don't show up at the årsstämma?"
Indeed, Love hadn't attended the yearly meeting of his stim, where all the practical matters were discussed for the upcoming year. Usually a waste of time, according to Love.

"The tithe has gone up to 11 öre on the crown now. This in order to pay for the federal tax, which the stifts have calculated through in their charge towards the sockens. It was either an increase in the tithe, or not being able to do what the alf has set out to do this year."
"Why did the stämma agree to this?"
"His lordship has ambitions in Östvallen. He convinced the members to cough up more in order to support his ambitions, which would pay off in the long run."

His Lordship of course referred to Mayor Bertil Stensudde, also a prominent member of the Provisional Executive Cabinet of King Karl in Östvallen.

"What ambitions? I'm already displeased with him dividing time between Östvallen and us. He's already a Federal Chancellor, what more ambition is there above that?"
The clerk remained silent, but Love came to the conclusion himself.
"But... wouldn't that require King Karl to... abdicate, or something?"


Östvallen, same day

Bertil Stensudde had been going from meeting to meeting all day. Most chancellors had a working office, a library or meeting room, where they would receive guests all day. But Bertil was a more mobile type of chancellor. An upwardly mobile...

He didn't even have to knock on the door of the library of the Ådalish Hotel in the Old Town. The door was open. The hotel, a government representation of the member state with overnight accommodation, was housed in the former Toll House at the West Gate of the Old Town, in Ex. Valdemar Helgand's socken.

"Afternoon, lordships," he greeted while he walked through the room towards one of the empty chairs around the table. The meeting continued as if Bertil hadn't arrived for about 15-20 minutes or so. Bertil was just observing. He noticed how the deputy slowly but steadily was moving out all lower ranking clergy by means of hastily concluding the issues on which they had been invited to attend. When the last of the attendees that shouldn't be present at the next meeting stood up and left, the deputy asked him to close the door behind him. Now there were only 6 people left around the table. This was Bertil's cue.

"Lordships, it has been brought to my attention that Iunsala Stift (OOG: Ådalen) is having some issues with the emerging city government of Östvallen. How can I be of service?"

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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04-21-2016, 02:58 PM
Post: #10
RE: It's 7566 and stuff's happening
Övre Valhagen Härad, July 2nd 7566

It was too warm to walk all the way to the polling station according to Olof Stinsen. But too much was at stake today. As a devote follower of Salvede Tru there was only one option for him: Övre Valhagen should be incorporated in the Austhals province of Valland.

But Olof didn't have to walk that far compared to many of his Hagenite neighbors. The Aldsay population could cast their votes at any "church" in the valley, of which there were 52. The Hagenites however had to report to on of the 12 town halls in the territory, or the only Orkanan hall in Holtnaes (or Hultnäs as the Hagenites called it).

Both sides had tried to influence the outcome of the plebiscite which would define Övre Valhagens future by trying to alter the rules, the ballots, the polling stations, the voter registry, etc etc. Only the presence of Amberian observers had prevented an outbreak of violence between the two groups who had lived here side by side until international politics started to intervene.

Sure, the Hagenites had a better position in the Valhagen Dependancy during the last 100 years, but they had not applied a systematic policy of exclusion towards the Aldsay like the Aedelish occupation force had done to them. At least, that was the Hagenite point of view. The Aldsay population had welcomed the intervention by the Aedelish liberators in 7546. The whole episode was a sidenote of a sidenote during the latter days of the Pan Anarian War, when Aedeland wanted to make sure the mines in Hagen would keep supplying them with steel. But those fringe conflicts had a huge impact on the local population.

Olof entered his "church". There were three piles of papers on the table, he picked the one with Option A from the lowest pile.
"You don't have to worry, we have more ballots."
Olof understood. The small pile of Option A ballots was a confirmation towards the Aldsay population that the road towards Aedeland was by far the most popular of choices.

He identified himself at a desk. A man gestured him to put his hand with the ballot paper on the table, with the unprinted side up. He fumbled the paperwork and discovered that Olof "accidentally" had picked up two ballots. Without a word he took one away. He had to do it without a word, since this was an Amberia observer. Then Olof was allowed to cast his single ballot into the box..

------

Later that evening, when the polling station had closed, all the votes were counted and recounted. The Amberian observer made a note of the results and set off to Uknedalen by automobile, which he had to share with several other observers from nearby. The polling station chairman also set off, on a horse, towards Ugnedal. Which was the same place, but Aldsay and Hagenites each had their own names for it.

But the return journey occurred under a different mood. The local chairman had attended the incoming voting results and to his utter despair, the Hagenite Option C seemed to become the winner with just over 50%, while Option A ended with 37%. The divide and conquer strategy of the Aedelish, by formulating an Option B which would grant Övre Valhagen full autonomy, had not worked. Only 10% preferred this option, which had been advocated as the only way of becoming a member state of Vittmark by free association treaty. But the Hagenites skipped statehood and opted for the safe road, becoming a hundred within the member state of Kötthagen.

It was already daylight when he returned, slowly making his way through the last kilometres, trying to let the new reality sink in that they all would become citizens of the poor recipe for civil war called Vittmark. An Orkanan nation on top of that...

Olof was on his way to the fields for the first harvest of hay when he noticed the chairman on his horse, with the expression as if someone close had died on his face.
"What... we didn't make it?" Olof asked.
The man nodded.
"Option C..." he replied.
Olof fell the ground beneath him moving upwards crushing his legs in the process. In reality he simply had fallen down, but he didn't realize that when he started crying like he hadn't done like since he was 4-5 years old.

"I'm going to kill that Karl av Kulla and his damned plebiscite," the man mumbled when his horse left Olof behind in his own sorrows.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
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