(For maximum effect, read this post in this voice)
Federalists! Devolutionists! Unionists! Loyalists – Royalists! You proud, dedicated, determined many! The Fifty-Five! The Two Million! The Silent Majority! Proud Caledonians and Proud Albionites All! I know that you thought the war was over, that the devastatingly overwhelming victory on the Eighteenth day of the Ninth Month put an end to the Nationalist Threat once and for all – or at least, for a generation. I know you believed that the joyous celebration the day after would usher in a halcyon era, where division and separatism would never threaten to tear the nations of Albion apart again.
Alas, this is not to be, for the dreadful Separatist Hordes are back. And you must go on an epic quest – a quest to find new heroes.
At first sight, this battle may seem worlds apart from the engagement fought four months past. The Rose-Oak-Bird Alliance, the League of the Thankless, has dissolved: in their victory, the orders have once again turned against one another in their struggle to control Albion. Yet they have found none of them can command strong enough forces for outright dominion. The Knights of the Hardworking Oak have punished the Deserving Poor too harshly, and have run the kingdom’s coffers drier than the Last Desert. Their allies in the Guild of the Liberty Bird have all but vanished, their followers disgraced by the pact with their foes: it would be a miracle if they could hold even a fraction of the fortifications they now possess. Yet for all the Oak & Bird’s calamities, the Order of the Red Rose have utterly failed to consolidate their power, as they find the upstart Purple Priory of the Pound and Green Commune gaining followers. All the factions reel from scandal, conspiracy and intrigue. And over all, the Hordes of the Nationalists continues unabated.
Already they scramble to muster support from the people of Albion, across the Four Nations, desperately trying to balance their rhetoric.
“Do not join the Nationalists,” cry the Red Roses, “for if you do, then the Red Roses will be too weak to challenge the Oakmen and the Liberty Birds. Then the Tyrant of Eton will remain in power – is that what you want? A sword for the Nationalists is a sword for the Oakmen!”
“Do not join the Nationalists,” roar the Oakmen, “for if you do, then they promise to support the Red Roses’ bid for power – but only if they promise magic powers for the Caledonians. Then the Fizrovian will be in power – but dancing to the tune of the Great Chieftain; is that what you want? A sword for the Nationalists is a sword for the Red Roses!”
“Do not join the Oakmen,” screech the Liberty Birds, “for if you do, then the Nationalists could break Caledonia from the Albion landmass through the secret rear-tunnels known only to the upper echelons of the realm. Then Caledonians will be foreigners – is that what you want? A sword for the Oakmen is a sword for the Nationalists!”
And so it went on. “Join the Pound People, get the Red Rose” say the Oakmen; “Join the Pound People, get the Oakmen” say the Red Rose. “Join the Red Rose, get the Nationalists” say the Oakmen; “Join the Combrogi, get the Red Rose” say Red Rose; “Join the Dumnonians, get the Oakmen” say the Liberty Birds; “Join the Protestors, get the Republic,” say the Old Ones.
Johann of Anderston. Alistair of Cockaigne. Gordon of Giffnock. They fought well during this great war, but they have already deserted. Johann has left command of the Red Rose’s Caledonian Chapter; Alistair and Gordon have resolved not to fight at the great battle on the Seventh day of the Fifth Month, even after they said they would deliver the Magic Powers of Devolution personally. Many more champions of Rose and Oak and Bird have given up their heroism, even those who want to “stick it” to the “bloody” Nationalist Hordes.
Yet you are at risk of yet another disaster – for if you do not act, then the Nationalist Horde could spread across Caledonia. And having taken Caledonia, you would be fools to presume that they would not exert their might over Anglia too! So despite the resounding, devastating, 10-to-1 victory of the battle last September, those opposed to the Nationalists must once again unite. But this is no longer one mighty, epochal battle: this is a war with dozens of battles, all fought concurrently. throughout the lands.
Is this not what you wanted? You wanted One Caledonia: a people who united under one banner, one host, one cause – for the betterment of their nation and home. You wanted put aside the divisions which wracked Caledonia, so that we could move forward, and get on with our lives. You wanted Caledonia to stay united with Albion, but with a strong voice and a strong leadership. And lo, what do the portents foretell: all Caledonia, bathed in bright, shining gold, with only a few smatterings of orange and red.
One Caledonia. Is this not what you wanted?
There are fifty-nine castles throughout Caledonia, and since time immemorial most have been controlled by the Red Rosemen: the Liberty Birds have their strongholds, and even the Oakmen have stubbornly held a Border Tower. The Nationalists have thus far never taken more than eleven castles – and even then, it was back when there were seventy-two castles, before they were dismantled during the Great Devolution decades ago. You would think the loss of the last battle would have ended the Nationalist Hordes once and for all, yet the Scriers and Oracles and Augurs all point to the impossible: that if the Winds of Change carry on as they are now, the Nationalist Hordes could take almost every stronghold in Caledonia.
You cannot afford to waste time pleading to the heavens, asking why the Gods have forsaken you. But there is only one recourse left – and that is a deal with the Great Devil itself.
In all battles throughout Caledonia, the only possible way of defeating the Nationalist champion is to join forces with the strongest Unionist army – and there are some where the strongest army is the Oakmen.
This is your choice: do you join the army you believe in knowing that it may fail against the Nationalist Horde, or do you join the strongest army even if you claim to despise them? To drive the Nationalist Constable from the House of Duff, you have to support the Oakmen. To oust the Nationalist High Marshal from Cawdor, you have no choice but to aid the Exile of Fochabers. To expel the Nationalist Whipmaster from Scone, you must join the Perthian Oak. To conquer the Nationalist Seneschal‘s seat in Glamis, you must lend your sword to the Oak Crusader. The Liberty Birds have all but abandoned hope for their former Caledonian Envoy to hold Thirlstane – you must help the Oakmen seize the fortress before the Nationalists do. And you must rush to the defence of the lone Oakmen citadel in Caledonia, so that the Bloodguzzler does not relinquish Hermitage to the Nationalist upstart.
As the Red Rose campaigns to destroy the Oakmen in Anglia and Cymru, disciples of the Red Rose urge the people of Caledonia to aid their mortal foes. And elsewhere, in those lands where the Oakmen are weak but the Red Rose strong? The Oakmen urge you to join the Red Rose, or the Liberty Bird. Whoever is strongest. Whoever can stop the Horde.
This is your choice, people of Caledonia. Do you join with the strongest army in the land, one who will fight for the Magic Powers of Devolution which you were promised, now that the terror of Separatism has been “settled for a lifetime”? Or do you sell your very soul to ensure that the most powerful army in Scotland has one less host with which to fight the treacherous Red Rose and monstrous Oakmen – and for what? So that Caledonia may continue to be ignored, to know its place, to never rise above its station in this Family of Nations?
The nobles of Albion are terrified of the mere prospect of the Nationalist Hordes coming in force to the White Hall. They have visions of rivers foaming with blood; they are plagued by premonitions of tyranny; they smell the grim portents of storms to come; the doomsday soothsayers claim the very end is nigh. The Masters of Albion – Red Rose, Liberty Bird and Oakmen alike – speak of the terror of the Nationalist Hordes. A former Grand Marshal of the United Forces of Albion – and another Oakman at that – urges the Fizrovian not to deal with the Horde. This, with the mere thought of more than a score of Nationalist champions in the White Hall.
The time will soon come when you must choose your heroes. We Nationalists have already chosen ours – and they were the same heroes we’ve had for years, decades. Will your new heroes do better than your last ones?
Excellent read, took me ages to get through. Clicking the links and guessing beforehand great fun.
I wouldn’t be too sure the bear of Shetland is safe though…
Indeed. I’d like to see all of Scotland in that lovely gold on the 8th of May!
Have I mentioned that I love your imagination? 😀
Truly an epic tale of crusading heroes and vile tyrants…
Thanks – there’s more to come!
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