Republic of Spain Newsfax Entries

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Spain: Well, before all the trouble started, things seemed to be going well! The city of Cortez expanded, a new fleet was built, work continued on the roads in Navarre and Aragon, and General Gomez was dispatched to North Afrika with the Morrocan Legion to help suppress the insurrection of the Tuaregs.

The Empress Regent returned to Lisbon from London, where she had been the toast of high society, and saw to refitting her air-fleet and resupplying. When this was done, she announced the air armada would depart for distant India, there to acquire a bride for her son Walter – Teresa had settled upon princess Tihana of Yasarid as suitable for her baby boy. Thus, waving grandly to the crowds, she and the zeppelin fleet departed Lisbon in the late spring of ’37.

Soon after his mother had left on her great journey to India, the young Emperor Walter was murdered in the palace gardens in Lisbon, garroted by an unknown (and undiscovered) assailant. His death was entirely unexpected, for he was well loved by everyone, and both the people and the nobility had looked forward to him coming of age, for then Teresa (“el negro se levantó”) would have to step aside. As a result, everyone in the Empire pretty much reached the conclusion the Empress-Regent had ordered her own son’s death. About six months after Walter’s murder, new evidence came to light (thanks to the tireless efforts of Inspector Villareal of the Lisbon City prefecture, shown at right) indicating an assassin provided by the Albanian East India Company had performed the murder.

The sunny summer sky over the Sea of Libya was marred, on September 12th, 1737, by the violent destruction of the airship Achamoth and her entire complement – including the Empress-Regent Teresa. The air fleet swarmed around the wreckage floating on the sea, but found no one alive. An enormous amount of gold, as well as the Empress’ personal effects were lost and unrecoverable in the deep waters. Stunned, the aerocaptains turned back, landing in Cortez in the winter of ’38.

Admiral Andreas and his sail transports, having received signals from the air fleet, also returned to Cortez bearing the news. Their landfall was met with mourning, for Walter was already dead. Andreas also found the city swarming with troops, for the entire Occitanian army had been gathered in the port in preparation for a punitive expedition to Oran in Algeria. The assembled generals eyed one another warily…

An attempt to reach common agreement among the various generals (Andreas de Rivera, Gomez Tejano, Maria Ousal, Cerino Azana and Louis Escofet) failed miserably. No one would trust another to take command. Almost immediately, the situation disintegrated into open battle between regiments and factions loyal to each of the generalissimo. Only Cerino Azana fled the scene, having no troops loyal to him at hand.

While Azana decamped to Barcelona (where there was a powerful garrison), the other rivals fell out in bloody melee in Cortez. De Rivera’s airfleet sparked the destruction with a sneak attack on Escofet’s Imperial Guard; while Tejano’s cavalry attempted to overrun De Rivera’s air base outside the city in alliance with Ousal’s artillery batteries.

The air attack on the Guard slaughtered most of Escofet’s troops, and he fled with those who remained, dodging out into the countryside and running for Lisbon. Tejano and Ousal’s attack on the airbase, meanwhile, was a spectacular failure. Tejano’s knights charged onto the field and directly into the leveled guns of De Rivera’s anti-zeppelin batteries. The quick firing cannon slaughtered the charging cavalry and Tejano’s attack collapsed. De Rivera then returned with his airfleet, and the entire scene became a charnel house of explosions, fire sleeting down out of the sky and dying men and horses.

In the confusion, both Tejano and Ousal were killed and their remaining troops swore allegiance to De Rivera. Now he too set out for Lisbon, chasing Escofet and his cavalry. Delayed by having to secure Cortez, De Rivera reached Lisbon to find the Imperial Guard camped inside, behind closed gates and barricaded walls and reinforced by the city garrison and the mercenary contingents hired by the Norsktrad. De Rivera viewed the high promontory of Lisbon with a sinking heart, and then he learned Cerino Azana and his loyal army were approaching from the east.

Hopeful of striking an alliance with Azana, De Rivera met with the rebellious general in August of ’38. They agreed to work together, to dig Escofet and his Norsk paymasters out of the capital. Unfortunately for De Rivera, Azana had no intention of dealing openly and murdered the young air commander within the month. De Rivera’s troops – already suborned – acclaimed Azana as their commander.

Don Cerino now approached the defenders of Lisbon with De Rivera’s head on a pike and proclaimed his loyalty for the state and the people, and offered to accept Escofet (or anyone the Imperial Guard desired) as Emperor to end this divisive struggle. After a great deal of negotiation, Escofet (who was a man of very little character) agreed to allow Azana to enter the city.

Doubtless, Azana intended to betray and murder Escofet as well, but his coup attempt was delayed by a critical hour, and the Imperial Guard ambushed and murdered Azana before he could order his troops and air-fleet to attack. It seemed the venal Escofet would now become Emperor.

This was not to be. Within a day of Azana’s death and the collapse of his planned mutiny, Escofet was found strangled in his bath, adrift in a sea of black roses and blood. His death was not announced to the general public, as the actual commander of the remaining Imperial Guardsmen – Largo Cabellero – announced the formation of a constitutional government in November of ’38.

“We have suffered enough under the rule of autocrats and despots,” the middle-aged soldier declared to a stunned city. “Our factories and farms are the playthings of foreign merchants, our army no more than mercenaries to ply a brutal trade for the Pope or Norsktrad. Spain will stand on her own two feet, now, and obey no one but God, and the people’s will.”

The provincial militia of Poitou was called out in early ’37 when a granary in Nantes suffered a grain dust explosion, igniting a fire which consumed nearly a quarter of the city. Widespread looting accompanied the disaster and the Papal authorities in the Palatinate domain responded by ejecting thousands of Occitanian merchants and craftsmen, calling them “wreckers and traitors.” Rumors persisted that the grain fire had been deliberately set.

Aside from all the other problems plaguing the Occitanian state, there was a serious run on the banks and widespread hoarding of hard currency (gold, silver, etc.) due to a steadily rising (and seemingly uncontrollable) epidemic of counterfeiting and coin-shaving. Rumors were rife, despite the pleas of the central bank, that the Empress-Regent was behind the scam, seeking to fill her own coffers with coin. Later, in ’38 the real culprits were found – the Norsktrad mercantile combine had been using their offices to produce the counterfeits and distribute them. Rioting and the wholesale burning of Norsktrad offices and warehouses followed.

Everyone now looked to Lisbon, where Largo had ordered the Norsktrad offices surrounded by the Guard. The people’s senate – so recently convened – now took up a strenuous debate as to whether any of the mercantile combines should be allowed a presence within Spain.

Carthage: The Emir, after long thought and cogitation (and the relief of the threat caused by the Tuareg), announced the formation of a parliament to provide for laws, taxation and public represenatation throughout the Emirate. He was heartened by the chaos in Spain, for he thought Largo Cabellero’s hopes for a new kind of government would bear fruit even in his desolate kingdom.

1739-1740 T205
Arnor: Rumors did reach the Hussite commanders of a Catholic emissary from Spain who was traveling among the Moslem princes of the lower Ganges, attempting to get them to ally themselves with his distant master. Though the man had not yet met the headman's axe, everyone expected he would soon.

Sweden: Fueled by the trouble in Spain, and rumors the Republicans would expel the Norsktrad Company from their lands, stock in the reputable trading firm took a hammering on the Lubeck Exchange, losing almost a quarter of it's value. In the Kalmar, a number of Senators expressed dismay at reports the Company would stoop to meddling in local politics, bribery, and other such shenanigans.

Jesuits: Somewhere outside of the pestilential sprawl of London, amid green fields on a vast and well-ordered country estate, a conclave gathered in rapidly falling dusk. Countless candles and torches illuminated a long procession of potentates, kings, princes, priests from every corner of the globe. A simple shrine stood under the brow of a turfed hill, a gleaming marble statue of the Risen Christ standing alone on the altar, the dark, almost invisible shape of a simple wooden cross behind him.

The ceremony was short, entirely in archaic Church latin, and the man kneeling before the old priest bowed his newly tonsured head. "Do you accept the service of Christ, his Church and his people, forever?"

"I do," Vladimir Tukhachevsky answered, rising newly anointed, a prince of the Church, and now founder of the Society of Jesus. A white brand, a keen blade, by which the Catholic nations hoped to drive back the darkness and usher in a new, golden age.

Expansive support in gold, men, arms, materials (even entire corps of clerks, priests and librarians) were provided by all the Catholic realms save that of Judea, which was rather aloof from the proceedings. The Shawnee, however, more than made up for the lack - for the faith of the western kingdom was strong, and a bulwark against all darkness, be it of the Ice, or of Huss.

Nörsktrad: Faced with civil insurrection in the Spanish capital, the Company ordered Malcom and Marget (Johannes' children, and able lieutenants) home with all speed. Though the Imperial Guard had promised to protect the offices of the Company, the Maklarevalde did not trust them one bit.

As it happened, Malcom and his fleet returned to Lisbon just in time. The various revolutionary and counter-revolutionary elements in the capital had gone wild, rioting in huge mobs, shouting slogans, flinging stones and burning brands at one another. A particularly vicious and well-organized crowd attacked the Offices of the Company with clubs, sledges, scaling ladders and fire. Malcom and his sailors from the fleet rushed to defend the compound and a fierce melee resulted among the warehouses and offices. Though the Company sailors (a rough lot) threw back the attack - causing thousands of casualties - hundreds of workmen, artisans, clerks and stevedores in the compound had been dragged from their offices or barracks and beaten to death.

The Maklarevalde, arrving after security had been restored, looked around with a sick, sinking expression. "Our enemies are growing bold," he muttered to his son. "What next, I wonder?"

Company possessions, holdings and warehouses in Andalusia, Aragon, Barcelona, Murcia, Madrid and Talavera were all attacked and damaged or destroyed by agitated mobs or revolutionaries.

Spain: Besieged as he was by economic chaos, sputtering rebellion and trouble at levels high and low, Largo proved to be a cunning leader - he concentrated on the business of trade. New ships were built to carry Spanish goods to foreign realms, he paid off the debts incurred by the previous regime, he invested in new works in Catalonia (a notorious hotbed of anti-Lisbon sentiment) and he raised new garrisons and regiments to secure his rule.

However - despite good intentions - the Commandante failed to actually entrust these new troops to anyone, or order his generals to take the field to restore order in the cities and repress banditry in the countryside. Instead, the Guard captains were scattered here and there to investigate conspiracies and plots and intrigues... they made arrests, they dragged people from their beds and put them to the question, they annoyed everyone high and low alike. The Church, in particular, they singled out for 'inspection.'

So revolution - and a vigorous response from the great landowners and the Church - was allowed to ferment unopposed. Largo was well thought of by both sides, and all the factions plagued him for support and aid. He did not respond, sunk in his own twisted world of conspiracies... and while he scrabbled to find the truth, Spain burned. The great university at Seville exploded first - the students running wild, battling the city guard and the condotierri of the landowners - inspired by the commune of Marseilles. Then Aquitaine and the city of Limoges in Auvergne, Galacia, Navarre, Old Castille and Salamanca. The cities followed the revolution, the provinces fought for a return to royal rule and the privilege of the landed classes.

Efforts to arrest the great nobles (particularly Jose Sanchez de Leon of Navarre) failed, and Jose proclaimed himself king of a reborne Spain, and duke of Navarre. The other nobles flocked to his banner, and the Church (fearful of the destruction wreaked upon it's sanctuaries in those lands under Communard rule) pledged their support to 'restore peace and serenity.'

Trapped between now opposing powers, the provinces of Asturias and Leon immediately agreed to pay reduced taxes to both Navarre and Spain, as well as allowing free passage for Jose's armies. Emboldened by this success, the new King gathered an army in Navarre and marched on Barcelona. There, one of Largo's generals (Antonio) was muddling about in local affairs. Faced with invasion, he mustered the local garrison and barricaded himself in the strongly fortified city. Jose Sanchez was welcomed by cheering crowds in the countryside, and by curses, insults and Republican flags waving over the walls of the city.

The noble King saw he had little chance of breaking such defenses, so he left his son Diego Alfonso to besiege the city with a quarter of his men, and then marched away south (his spies reporting the port of Tortosa had no walls or defenses). Meanwhile, in Lisbon, general Diego Tordés (one of Largo's innumerable cousins) had begged the Commandante to give him an army to suppress the rebellion of Navarre. Grudgingly, Largo gave him a few thousand men and sent him off.

Disgusted with his commander's short sightedness, Diego pushed his men in a quick march across the breadth of Spain. They entered Valencia at much the same time as Jose Sanchez and his army. After a bit of chasing one another around the countryside, Diego managed to force a battle at Demurres between his ten thousand Republican Army troops and Jose Sanchez and 13,000 Royalists. Despite the difference in numbers, Diego's Republican troops were all veterans and well equipped, and his artillery batteries were of a particularly heavy weight.

A particularly swirling battle followed, with cavalry charges, sallies, retreats and two pitched infantry melees - but Jose Sanchez (despite being not quite as good a commander as Diego) managed to force his enemy from the field, punishing the Republicans and maintaining the valor and morale of his own men. The victory was very narrow, but for the Royalists it was a god-send. Valencia fell to them, and the port of Tortosa.

Diego fell back into Murcia to regroup. Jose Sanchez struck northwest into the mountains, ending '40 in Aragon and threatening to sweep down upon Madrid. Diego, perforce, moved into the city to prevent him. Requests for more troops, sent by courier to Largo, had failed to elicit a response.

Amid all the other troubles, rumors began to circulate of a Hussite fifth column active in Spanish cities, and (most disturbing of all) among certain of the intelligentsia and the government officers. Despite investigations by the Office of the Inquisition, no culprits were found and the rumors died down. However, a particularly hostile relationship resulted between the Republic and the Papacy - one which was acclaimed in the streets by the students and workers, who found no allies among the Black Coats.

1741-1742 T206
Baklovakia: The Communards in Marseilles were plagued with embassies from many powers, and made out well in gifts (particularly from the Danes and the House of Tewfik) which they immediately applied to the Workers Cause (buying Danish rifles and pistols for the workers battalions.) In any case the students had determined to aid their brothers and sisters fighting in Spain, and many left the city and marched west into Navarrese territory.

Navarre: Despite being in revolt against the Republic (and at war with those dirty gangs of students), King Jose devoted his immediate efforts to increasing the cities of Corunna (in Galacia) and Tortosa (in Valencia). A new city, Bilbao, was built in Asturias. The concomitant disbandment of some of the Royalist regiments to provide manpower for these projects caused great consternation among the nobles supporting de Leon.

"What are you doing?" They demanded, having secured an audience with the King in Aragon. "We must raise every man under arms and set ourselves against the Republican scum and their Communard dogs!"

Jose shook his head and continued to pack a suitcase with fine linen and silk shirts. He was preparing to travel to London to marry the lady Natasha Tukhachevsky, whose father was Vicar-General of the Jesuit order. "The kingdom is an untenable affair," he admitted at last, to make them stop shouting. "I have sent a letter to Largo, agreeing to terms to end this conflict."

A stunned silence met his bald words. The nobles stared in horror. "We... we are surrendering?"

Jose nodded, lips pursed. "We cannot afford to have a Catholic nation riven by civil war, not with the Hussites pressing upon us. I am going to London, to marry miss Natasha, and then I will raise bees, I think."

The Spanish nobles remained speechless while Jose picked up his bag and left, but while he took ship to London and his waiting bride, they did not surrender, nor did his son - Diego Alfonso - who took to the field with what army remained, determined to protect the rights and usages of the landed class, and the nobility, and the Church, against the Republicans.

As it happened, Jose sailed to London and married Natasha, who then learned her father had died on a humid shore in the Amerikas and was then ejected from her house in London and found herself on the street with a sister and a brother to take care of. Jose, heart-sick at the failure of his dream, found himself on a ship to Spain, again.

Natasha (who is no wilting flower, not a scion of the Tukachevsky clan!) landed in Bilbao and immediately took horse to join prince Diego in the fighting on the eastern coast. And well she did, for Republican assassins had waylaid and murdered the young prince while he surveyed the siegelines around Barcelona.

Jose, though despondent, forced himself to make the rounds of those noble lords who had offered him some support before - and might now provide men and arms and gold to this cause.

Aside from the fighting against the Republicans and the treachery of the Church and the Jesuits, the Navarrese were also afflicted by marauding gangs of workers and students (from the communes of Marseilles and Limoges) who overran the provinces of Auvergne and Languedoc, laying siege to the port of Narbonne.

Spain: Determined to crush the Navarrese and restore order and peace to the Republic, Largo attempted to raise an army in Barcelona - unfortunately, the city was under siege - so the new regiments were raised in Lisbon instead. A number of Catholic mercenaries were hired at Cortez as well, to bolster the defense of that critical port. The Commandant then issued this proclamation:

"Fellow Spanish citizens! This bloody civil war must end now before more innocent men, women or children are killed. From this moment on, any and all citizens who have revolted will be given amnesty if they lay down arms and return to Spain. No one who returns will be prosecuted nor punished. However this offer can not, and does not apply to the leaders of the rebellion they have caused the death of innocent people and they must be held accountable for their actions. In a resolution passed by the Spanish Senate the self proclaimed Duke of Navarre Jose Sanchez de Leon is hereby striped of all land and titles and possessions. Those possessions will be given to the families of the men and women he has killed. Like wise all possessions of Diego Alfonso are also to be taken and given to the families that he also caused to loose loved ones. We know that this can not replace the lost men and women, but it may help in some small part."
Largo Caballero

Public exultation met this decree, for everyone knew the nobles and grandees would fight to the end - and then their estates would be broken up and parceled out to the people. Leaving his brother Jose to rule in Lisbon, Largo took a very large army north from the capital and into Galacia. At the same time, another Republican army mustered in New Castille and then invaded Valencia.

The arrival of a squadron of Vastmarki frigates went entirely unnoticed amid all the other hullaballo, and the Vastmark commodore (lord Ixapopolotl) spent many days waiting in many government offices, unable to find the man he was sent to see.

Queen Natasha, meanwhile, had arrived in Catalonia and found poor Diego's army milling about in confusion. After viewing the vast estate of the cities defenses, she decided there was little hope of capturing the formidable bastions with the few troops at her command. Instead, she gathered up the army and - learning of the invasion of Valencia by the Republican generals Tordés and Sven Unger - marched south to meet them.

The two armies met - tentatively, behind strong screening elements of light cavalry - in the southern plains, and Natasha saw she was outnumbered by almost two to one. She swung away north, into the mountains of Aragon. Tordés gave chase, and forced a battle in the passes near Sarrión. A bloody stalemate ensued, with the Navarrese (who were outnumbered) taking the worst of it. The Royalist army broke away, fleeing north. Tordés pursued.

Meanwhile, Largo and his main army had swept through Galacia and Leon, liberating the estates of the nobility and anyone else who tried to get in his way. King Jose (who had been in Leon) fled to Asturias. Largo ignored him and marched on into Salamanca. Tordés, meantime, had chased Natasha up into Navarre itself, where he lost track of her and her army. Determined to secure the province, Tordés halted and garrisoned the rugged countryside.

Natasha, for her part, managed to get the remains of her army back to Bilbao in Asturias, where she found Jose hiding in the palace in a desperately depressed state. The Republicans had secured the provinces of Salamanca and Old Castille during her march. Now nearly all of Spain was in the hands of the Republic.

And not to forget the Communards and students from Limoge, they had besieged Narbonne in early '41 and had kept up a heavy pressure of plays, speeches and other demonstrations of the workers arts. In '42 they were reinforced by various socialist battalions from Marseilles and set about bombarding the city in earnest. In the late summer of '42 the city surrendered, the garrison marching out to clasp hands with the students and everyone threw their hats in the air. An enormous party followed, during which time a vast quantity of vodka was drunk and many pastries consumed.

Papacy: Despite the moaning of the accountants, Il Papa disbursed considerable aid to the Republican Spanish, the Jesuits and the Swedes. A considerable tithe of grain, cloth and other goods was received from the Shawnee (bless them, they are strong in the faith!)

Vastmark: Beside taking very great care with their loan payments, the Vastmark minded their own business, only sending a small squadron of warships on a good-will visit to Spain.

1743 – 1744 T207
Norsktrad: Despite the physical attacks upon the company – by the Commonwealth, and the Republica Popular – a sustained effort by Johannes managed to restore the reputation of the business in government and Catholic circles throughout Spain and England. The simple matter of the company being targeted for slander, abuse and physical attacks by agents of the Hussite powers was well established.

The Kingdom of Navarre: Their backs pressed to the wall by Largo’s advance into the north, Jose Sancho and his martial wife Natasha packed their children (and her teenaged sister) onto a mail boat and sent them off to safety, and exile (again). With the family out of the way, Natasha rolled up her sleeves and pressed the remaining Royalist lords for their last nickels, dimes and spare socks. A last, gallant army was mustered in Bilbao and immediately marched for Galacia…

Républica Popular de Espaná: Faction politics within the Communard movement caused a violent split between the SRC cadres in Spain and the ‘masterminds’ in Komarno. “We raise our own flag,” the workers and peasants declared, ten thousand voices raised in a cheer. “We find our own liberty! Liberation!”

The first thing the new self-motivated SRC did was order the cadres in Languedoc to sack and loot the offices and establishments of the Norsktrad company in the province and city of Norbonne. The ‘bourgeois’ elements were hounded into exile, or just shot in the head. There were fires – which got out of control – and random looting as the students and the poor ran wild in the streets.

The Limoge cadres then marched west (reinforced by many Red Rifle soldiers from the Marseilles cadres) into Aquitaine and immediately ran into the counter-revolutionary forces of the Largoistas! A shout went up from the loyal defenders of the workers and the peasants, and the cadre army rushed to form a line of battle!

And in the south, the student committee in Seville reorganized their motley bands of workers, peasants and undergraduates into a formal military organization – with regiments and batteries. They also repudiated the Carthaginians who had been providing them with supplies, guns, ammunition and modern artillery. “Carthage – for all their fine words – are no more than the tools of the ancien regime – no more than exploiters of the people – wreckers!”

The Jesuit seminaries, churches and farms were duly pillaged and burned to the ground afterwards. On the other hand, no one bothered the Sisters of the Rose when they opened a free school in Narbonne. At least, not yet.

The Republic of Spain: Il Presidente, in the field with his army in Old Castille, narrowly avoided being kidnapped by Royalist infiltrators. The men – old woodsmen and retainers of King Jose – were hanged as traitors. Pleased to have so easily avoided an embarrassing outcome, Largo led his army into Asturias. The Republicans swept across the province and found – to the Presidente’s disgust – the Royalists had already fled to Galacia. Bilbao – lacking even the most rudimentary defense – surrendered to Alfonso’s cavalry vanguard.

Eager to catch Jose, il Presidente gave chase, his army hurrying west and then south to try and run the Royalists to ground. General Alfonso took a vast host of knights and headed east into Aquitaine.

While armies were marching hither and yon across the northern half of the nation, the Vice-Presidente Jose Tordesillas Cabellero was presiding over the state ministries in Lisbon. At his brother’s command, a set of new laws were enacted, attacking the old guild structure among the manufacturies and workshops throughout Spain. By these means, the Cabellero regime hoped to defuse the Communard threat.

The arrival of a rather petulant Marguerite Drake and a pair of ARF cutters in Cortez was not marked with particular celebration. The Norsktrad merchants in the city looked upon the interference of these “upstart air carrion” with distaste. In comparison to the famous and radiant Albanian aeropilot Alexis Kuklone, Marguerite was a dull frump (entirely unlike her famous mother, Jessica) and showed little interest in the business of setting up an ARF office in the city. The cutter captains despaired of getting her to take her responsibilities seriously – and then while she was walking in a crowded, noisy Cortez market-street, someone passing by put a gun to her side and fired two rounds. The sound was muffled by the girl’s heavy dress and stole, so her escorts only noticed something was wrong when she fell to the ground, dead, blood flooding from her mouth and nose.

Minister Migual – who had been attempting to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the students in Seville – was suddenly seized and thrust before a ‘worker’s trial’. Found guilty, he was soon stretching a rope outside the city cathedral (now the headquarters of the SRC cadres in Seville). Four months after the minister’s death, a Largoista army arrived from the north, escorted by a pair of new-built scout zeppelins.

The students scattered or vanished as the government troops entered the city. General Antonio (the Largoista commander) was very suspicious and kept a close watch on his brigade commanders. His wariness was quickly rewarded as the students attempted to convince the common soldiers and NCO’s to join them. Antonio crushed the incipient rebellion – sobering four of the conspirators himself – but then his force was attacked from all sides by the Communard forces hiding in the city.

The battle of Seville was a confused affair, fought in narrow winding streets, on the rooftops and from house to house. Antonio’s 5,000 Republican troops – though actually well equipped for fighting in a city – were outnumbered by the 8,000 SRC troopers. Antonio was also a poor leader, and entirely outmaneuvered by Queipo de Lana (the military leader of the Seville cadres). Within days the Largoista army was annihilated. Antonio was taken prisoner and soon met the same fate as poor Miguel.

Having crushed the initial Republican response to their revolt, the Sevillistas then marched northwest into Estremadura and captured the city of Tharsis. The Norsktrad factors in the region had already fled, but the Communards wrecked what remained of their businesses and factories.

Now, back in Aquitaine… the Limoge cadres had marched into the region to receive a warm welcome from the peasants and townsmen (who had been very poorly used by the Royalists). However, the Largoista army under Diego Tordes entered at the same time. Shockingly, the Communards outnumbered Tordes – who immediately retreated west towards the Republican armies operating in Asturias. Unfortunately, a crucial bridge over the Adur river at Pau collapsed mysteriously, leaving Tordes and his men stranded on the eastern bank.

The 10,000 Communard fighters waded in, supported by a heavy barrage from their Danish-made artillery. The 7,000 Republicans rushed to dig in (most of them were sappers, actually) and a frightful melee erupted along the riverbank. The first Communard attack was beaten back, then the second. Tordes’ engineers swarmed over the bridge, repairing the battered span with anything they could lay their hands on. Night fell. Under the cover of darkness, the Republican swam the river or crawled across the partially-repaired bridge. In the morning, the Communards woke and found the enemy gone.

Within the month, Tordes and his surviving men met up with Alfonso, who rode into Gascony with 8,000 knights. Together they struck back into Aquitaine. The Limoge cadres were gone. They had marched south through the Pyrennes into Catalonia. Tordes and Alfonso gave chase! Marching by night and day, the two Republican generals caught up with the Communards outside of Barcelona – where an attempt to inspire a student uprising had failed – and the Limoge cadres had settled in to besiege the port.

Again the Communards attempted to flee, but failed to escape Tordes’ wide-ranging cavalry patrols. A battle erupted at Matorell as the cadres attempted to break out of the trap. Despite lacking any artillery at all, Tordes managed to use his superior speed of march and maneuver to encircle and destroy the Communard army.

So, in the west, the Royalists had marched south from Galacia with all speed, lunging for Lisbon and the prize of the entire Republican government… with Largo delayed among the mountains of Galacia, Jose Sancho and his small force reached Lisbon two months ahead of il Presidente. The Royalists approached the city stealthily, sending ahead agents to inspire a rebellion in their favor.

Luckily for the Republicans, the Norsktrad company had had just quite enough of skullduggery and civil unrest, so their agents were keeping a careful watch on the surrounding countryside, the city… everything. The revolt was aborted in the womb as Norsktrad mercenaries (a grim lot of Frisians) swooped down upon the Royalist sympathizers and arrested them all. Jose Tordesillas – roused from his bed by Malcom Procure’s guardsmen – rushed to take command of the city garrison. Between the 3,000 Frisians and the 800-man city watch, the walls were held when the Royalist army actually came within sight of Lisbon.

Lacking the strength to try the fortifications, the Royalists then skedaddled south into Estremadura, where they found (rather unexpected) allies in Quipo de Lana’s students and workers. Largo himself and his army were not far behind, and hot on the chase.

Despite the advantage afforded by Largo’s zeppelins, Quipo de Lana managed to avoid his patrols and fell back south across Estremadura. Il Presidente tried to catch up, but ran out of time in ’44, encamped at Tharsis in Estremadura. The Communards and their Royalist allies were back in Seville by then, eating oranges and drinking sangria.[23]

And, while the Largoista armies had been entirely busy in the north and west, a daring force of African volunteers (mostly students attending the Universidad de Sevilla from Carthage, Mixteca, Vastmark and other southern nations) had marched up the eastern coast of Spain, capturing the provinces of Grenada (and the city of Cortez) and Valencia (and the city of Tortosa), which are now in SRC hands. Papal and Jesuit holdings were looted and – as in Estremadura – set afire, the servants freed, the priests sent to consult with their Lord from the end of a rope.

1745 – 1746 T208
Norsktrad: Though the clerks in Lisbon groaned at the red ink which would surely result, staining the sacred books, the Company preemptively closed their offices in Granada, Cortez, Valencia and Tortosa – lest the Communards seize them.

The Bitrande Alphonse – old Johannes’ number two – was equally vigilant, taking the circuit of the walls and fortifications ringing the ancient port: “I want to see that all the offices are safe and secure: doors securely locked at night, trusted watchmen walking the rounds – and in these days have an armed Friesian or two walking with them on patrol . Also, keep workshops and yards safe from accident and fire, I want none of our workforce injured by agitators or terrorists. See that any strangers or loiters are kept under careful scrutiny. I want no wreckers, revolutionaries, or royalists damaging our company, or the city. Is that understood?”

The city watch heeded Alphonse, but this did not prevent young Roussel de Vaux from being killed in a gambling brawl the night before he was ship out for the blockade of Cortez. Immediate and severe questioning by the city militia only revealed the senselessness of his death – the pot in question had only been a handful of copper coins.

The Old Man’s son Malcom – who had taken charge of the city defenses during the Royalist raid a year previous – had a narrow escape from death while visiting the jeweler’s district of Lisbon. Two army officers – disguised, of course – attempted to strike him down while the merchant was negotiating to purchase a string of Bahrain pearls for his wife. Only the flicker of unexpected movement in a mirror allowed Malcom to leap aside. His Frisians reacted only instants later, as the shop rang with the blast of a pistol, and a bitter duel ensued, wrecking the jewelers and leaving the Royalists dead amid a glitter of diamonds, blood and silver.

Kingdom of Navarre: “What is left,” King Jose wondered, as he rode out into the pre-dawn blackness. Seville was already waking – the streets filled with the rumble of carts and the calls of men and women trudging to work in the armories or workshops of the Commune. “But honor?” A column of Royal cavalry cantered past – their numbers greatly reduced by circumstance, but their pride undimmed – and Jose swung into line with them. The small army was on the move – away from Seville, which would soon be embattled – into the mountains and hills.

There was only time for one last throw, one lunge against the enemy heart. Jose rode into darkness, knowing all the men around him would soon perish by gun, sword or cannon shell.

Républica Popular de Espaná: Determined to find victory through the liberation of the people, the SRC ordered Quipo de Lana to hold Seville at all costs – “bleed the oppressors upon the barricades of the workers and the peasants,” they proclaimed in a stirring series of pamphlets. The citizens responded with proper revolutionary fervor and the approaches to the city were soon a maze of trenches, bunkers and sandbagged pits holding rocket batteries. The Committee did not reveal their half-sick reaction to news their ‘foreign sponsors’ had no time, guns or airships to spare for the Revolution.

“Wreckers!” Comrade Miss Elaine declared. “They too will feel the wrath of the oppressed and the downtrodden!”

Soon, reports reached De Lana of the advance of the Largoista army from the northwest and he made his final dispositions. In March of ’45, while touring the defenses on the southern arm of the city, the people’s general and his bodyguards were attacked by a dozen men disguised as workers from Heavy Industry Factory No. 43 Rifle Brigade. A sharp engagement drove off the attackers, though Quipo was stunned by their audacity. Examination of the bodies revealed them to be Frisian mercenaries.

“The bourgeoisie exploiters show their true colors,” De Lana growled, reloading his revolver. His hands were shaking with the narrowness of his escape. The general was sure only a moment’s inattention on the part of his guards and they’d have had him in a sack and off to Lisbon with no one the wiser.

Students manning the walls of Cortez were disheartened to see a squadron of metal-clad steamships arrive off the port early in ’45. Though the ships were owned and operated by the Norsktrad mercantile combine, they flew the flags of Largoista Spain. Commanding them was Jorge Delgado; a wry, hard-bitten captain who’d plied all of the seven seas in his time. After lowering his spyglass, the captain turned to his officers. “Keep a good watch, this communist rabble may have powerful friends. Scan the sky, the sea and shore. All weapons to be at ready for combat. I want all officers to see to their men’s morale and spirit. We’ll run good efficient ships, but discipline is to be firm but fair. Any problems or complaints, from whatever rank, bring them to me. Orders are to be relayed by the new codes. Gentlemen, to your ships and the blockade!”

Though the Committee had elected to go on the defensive in the south, in the north the battalions of the Limoge Workers Commune and the Berber Students Association converged on Catalonia, determined to inspire a popular uprising in Barcelona.

Republic of Spain: Unfortunately for the Communard cells in Barcelona, the Largoista government had been expecting just such a fifth column and cracked down hard on the restive districts even as word came of the advance of the Limoge and Berber armies into the province. So swift was the Largoista crackdown the rising was crushed ere it could gain any popular support.

General Alfonso then sortied with his army (Diego Tordes having been killed in a Communard ambush in February) and swung south, intending to destroy the SRC Berber army before it could reach the city. Selim ibn Ahmad (the SRC commander) attempted to escape into the mountains with his rebel band, but Alfonso’s cavalry ran him to ground and the Berber Student’s Association met a heroic, glorious and final end in a pitched battle at Aguiamurcia.

With his brother off fighting in the south, lord Jose Cabellero rounded up a couple of freshly raised regiments of infantry from the fleshpots of Lisbon and set out for the mountains of Leon. His mission was something of a forlorn hope, but the political situation in the capital was rapidly disintegrating. Largo – without consulting his brother – had begun issuing edicts from the field. One of those missives set in motion a series of laws which would remove restrictions on ownership of land within Spain. Hussites, in particular, would be allowed to settle in Spain, practice openly and to own property.

The reaction amongst the Catholic clergy was sure to be volcanic and though Jose knew the Church had been gravely reduced of late, they still held power in Spain. So, the young man toiled up into the mountains of Leon, looking for a particular nunnery. After a month of travel, he came to “Las hermanas del muerto” – a bare scattering of whitewashed buildings on a rocky slope. After threatening the mother superior, Jose was taken to a small, barren cell overlooking a jagged, dry ravine. An elderly woman – almost sixty – dressed entirely in black was sitting in the bare chamber, a rosary and a well-worn Bible in her hands.

“You are Anna?” Jose examined her face carefully, comparing this wizened, wrinkled creature to a painting which hung in the upper hall of the Imperial Palacio in Lisbon. “The daughter of Diego Cortez?”

“Are you my executioner, come at last? I think you are several decades late…” The woman’s voice was firm, showing a hint of steel in her manner. In that moment, when her chin lifted and a stern glance came into her eyes, the young prince knew he’d been told true.

“No.” Jose said, kneeling before the Empress of Spain. “I have come to ask you if you will return to Lisbon and help my brother, Largo, restore the state and crush these rebellions.”

Anna looked down at the man – the boy, she thought – then around and about at the barren, peeling walls. After a moment, she said “yes, I will come with you to Lisbon. We will see about the rest, if we live so long.”

“We instituted changes to move to an open and free economy to better the lives and increase the freedom that the people of Spain have and still the SRC, Republica Popular de Espana, or whatever name they call themselves this week are not happy. We have offered them a chance to rejoin the Republic of Spain, where all are equal, and where all have a voice, and they spit in our face. While we have mountains from the heavens being dropped upon out heads, they want to fight in the mud. While the rest of the world bands together in solidarity to fight the onset of Armageddon, they don’t care enough about their families and friends to join with the rest of the world. Well DAMN them to hell! If we need to destroy them first, and ride over their bloody bodies so that we may defend Spain and the world from the evil that threatens us all, then so be it! All members of the ruling members of the Republica Popular de Espana are here by found guilt of crimes against the people of Spain, and sentenced to death by any means. Their earthly belongs are given to the people. Whoever brings me a head of any of their leaders shall be rewarded in the sum of five thousand thalers a year for the rest of their life, and will be declared a hero of the state.
I ask all patriotic Spaniards, whether Jew or Gentile, Catholic or Hussite, Muslim or Pagan, to please set aside our differences until we get past this crises. Pray to God for his guidance and assistance, for against these spawn of Satan we will need all the blessing we can get.”
Largo de Cabellero, as his army approached Seville

So, as Largo and his army encircled Seville, there was trouble within the walls. A sizable faction of the defenders had grown weary of Quipo de Lana and his demands – dig here, dig there, fill these cartridges – and they muttered and complained among themselves. Then rumors began to circulate – ‘El General’ planned to impose his own rule upon them, to make himself a king; he had been seen taking communion from a priest – fear and confusion in the city rushed to a head. Quipo and his aides were assaulted one Tuesday morning as they prepared to take the field. There was a struggle on the steps of the Universite and the general was clubbed down. Within the hour, while confusion ran rampant in the city, a new ‘peoples commandante’ was proclaimed – a librarian named Bertone de Cavezo – and De Lana was later subjected to revolutionary justice – six or seven shots to the head.

Within a day, Largo’s army was attacking the city, columns advancing speedily on all fronts to assail the fortifications, his airships pounding the defenders from on-high. De Cavezo proved entirely incapable of dealing with the crush of events. His brigade commanders, however, were dug in deep and there were a lot of them. The airships were met by volleys of rockets and the bang of light guns. The siege quickly turned sticky for Largo…

He did not relent, however, and within four months Seville had been reduced to rubble and the Communard resistance crushed. Mass executions followed and the campesinos who had lately been tilling their own fields were once more placed under the rule of the grandees and the estates. Leaving a garrison, Largo pressed on into Granada – which he found undefended. Cortez surrendered rather than face a siege.

A Templar fleet landed at Seville and occupied the countryside of Andalusia in the name of the Republic. The Papist mercenaries took great care to root out all Communard sympathizers and pawns – going so far as to raze entire villages to the ground and make the gallows groan with twitching heretics and apostates. A full measure of revenge was exacted for the priests, monks and nuns murdered by the Communards.

Receiving letters (couriered by the Norsktrad fleet operating in the Gulfo de Lyones) from Alfonso, Largo now learned of the defeat of the Berber students. Satisfied the east was secure, the presidente marched back to Lisbon.

When Alfonso turned back north, he found the SRC Limoge army had fled back over the mountains into Languedoc upon receiving news of the failure of the rising in Barcelona. After resting his troops over the winter of ’45-’46, Alfonso launched an invasion of the trans-Pyrenne province in spring of ’46. Unfortunately, he found himself with too few troops to essay a siege of Narbonne, and Alfonso retired back to Catalonia for the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, at Lisbon, the absence of both Largo and Jose had left a narrow window for King Jose and his tiny band of Royalists to slip through Estremadura and into Portugal. Once more Jose attempted to contact his old friends in the city and to rouse them to defend their ancient rights and usages – by letting his army into Lisbon. This time Natasha led the commando into the darkened city – yet again the vigilance of the Norsktrad mercenaries upon the walls proved well-founded – battle erupted in the wee hours and every alarm bell rang.

But Natasha’s assault had carried a water-gate on the banks of the Tagus and the Royalists stormed into the city. The Frisians were forced back by the unexpected onslaught and open battle flared in the streets. The city militia rushed to seal off the streets, but Royalist cannon – pushed by their crews – blew the barricades apart. Everything dissolved into a chaos of street-by-street running firefights, battles in houses and courtyards, a great pall of smoke from burning buildings and cordite rising above the city.

Malcome Procure did not lose heart, drawing on an intimate knowledge of the Seven Hills and districts. His men fought hard, yielding little ground, though the Royalists pressed relentlessly. Days passed, then weeks, then a month. Still the two armies strove back and forth in across barrios now reduced to smoldering rubble and the shattered skeletons of houses and buildings.

Jose Cabellero and his Largoista regiments arrived and now the Royalists were trapped between two forces. Malcome launched an assault into the Levren district – the heart of the area controlled by Natasha’s men – and was thrown back with heavy casualties. King Jose, however, was killed in the fighting and Marget Procure badly wounded.

Now outnumbered, Natasha attempted to break out so some of her men might flee and find sanctuary somewhere. There was confusion among between the Largoistas and the Norsk mercenaries – and the Royalists (now reduced to only a handful of men) were able to slip right out of the city. In the countryside, Natasha and her commando vanished like morning dew. Behind them, Lisbon was still burning and entire districts had been smashed to rubble.

Largo arrived three months later and he was not pleased to find his capital in such a state. On the other hand, the sight of grim, stern old Empress Anna gave him some hope for salvaging the realm from anarchy.

Church of Rome: The pontiff also instructed Papal armed forces to no longer maintain neutrality in the Spanish Civil War. “The recent wanton destruction of Church lives and property removes the followers of the Communard from civilized protection.”

1747 – 1748 T209
Poland: Due to an increasingly agitated series of letters between the Duchess and the Largoista regime in Spain, the Duchy decided to bar all Spanish shipping from their ports, fearing saboteurs and infiltrators of all kinds. Norsktrad shipping, however, was not denied landfall. Behind the scenes, Frieda also had some very harsh words for her husband, Wilhelm, who had apparently gotten himself involved with some unsavory troublemakers.

To: Largo Caballero, President of Spain
From: Frieda Leczinki, Duchess of Poland

It has recently come to attention certain members of my household have engaged in common adventurism in Spain. We share your dismay and shock at this most distasteful turn of events, and assure you it is the official position of the Grand Duchy that your government is lawfully sovereign over Spain.
I have interceded personally to reorganize the Department in question, and a particular individual will be assigned more suitable duties as is becoming of their position, as soon as they return from Denmark. As well, I have immediately ordered the reinstatement of Spanish shipping's landing privileges in Poland, the unfortunate rescindment of which was originally authorized by said same individual.
I very much share your position that the so-called "communards" were nothing more than youth lead astray into atheistic hooliganism.
Yours, Duchess Leczinski, Poland

Church of Rome: The Church remained militant, sending Per Nunez and a strong force of Templars to fight alongside Largo in his conquest of the troublesome Lang’d’Oc provinces. Among the Templar troops were a large number of Jesuit and Franciscan priests, who pried and poked into every town, village, hogshed and parish sanctuary in the disputed regions. Oddly, they did not seem to be searching for heretics.

Norsktrad: Company shipping remained active in the war against the SRC – Captain Jorge Delgado commanded a squadron based at Barcelona, operating to enforce a blockade of the Espanán ports of Narbonne and Marseilles.

“Last year was easy,” Jose warned his officers. “This year the allies of the SRC will be free to lend them support. After their losses last year, the communists are likely to be desperate, at best they may flee overland into the Danish Empire. We can expect anything from blockade runners carrying arms and supplies, to a hostile fleet with or without airships, in the time it takes to sail from the wreckage of Georgia – or from North Afriqa. I want regular drills and inspections, especially of our anti-airship batteries. As before, report any problems to me. No ships are to enter or leave the port.”

He frowned, consulting fresh orders received from Lisbon. “Carthaginian or Polish shipping is considered to be hostile. No more than a single shot across the bows before commencing any engagement. Given they are nothing but thieves and pirates,” Jorge said, turning steely attention on each of his steam, sail and airship commanders. “Be prepared for trickery.”

Républica Popular de Espaná: The collapse of the Republic came with a sickening inevitability. Largoista troops continued to advance from the south, and their numbers seemed irresistible. The Committee met in haste and decided to flee for safe havens in Commonwealth or Danish lands – but a noose was already drawing tight around them.

Only days after electing to abandon the fight, Antone Beria (then the secretary-general of the SRC) was murdered by Jesuit ‘black-cowls’ in Limoges as he prepared to evacuate the city. His death threw everything into confusion, while further attacks wiped out the Marseilles committee (their safe-house was demolished by a coordinated attack by what proved to be Norskvarden marines and as the few survivors fled, they were ambushed by a second – unknown – group of assailants to slaughtered them with close-range pistol and shotgun fire.

Those members of the Limoge committee who survived the Jesuit attack were hunted down over the next two weeks by more unknown men in balaclava-style caps, also wielding pistols and shotguns. Of all the commanders of the SRC, only Francois Piqard escaped, having surrounded him with a tightly-knit group of Auvergnais woodsmen. Piqard managed to rally several thousand Communard refugees to him and – after finding the Committee treasury pillaged by some kind of aerial pirates, who had pounced upon the town bank during the confusion engendered by the sporadic fighting among the collapsing secretariat.

Though some of the more ardent Communards escaped with Piqard into Commonwealth territory, most of the citizens just stayed home and hid in their cellars. They hoped the restoration of Spanish control would bring peace and calm to the troubled region.

Republic of Spain: Luckily for Largo and his regime in Lisbon, the Norsk merchants had deep pockets and managed to bail him out with enough cold hard cash to keep his creditors at bay. With the wolves held from his door by the grim-faced men from the north, Il Commandante was free to take his army into the field and crush the last of the Communard resistance in the north. His brother Jose was left with the so-welcome task of overseeing the mass arrests implied by an extensive purge of the government ministries.

An arrangement was also struck with the Aeronautical Research and Fabrication company (out of Rostov), allowing them to establish a direct political presence in Cortez. In return, an ARF aerosquadron crowded with troops and bombs arrived at Barcelona in middle-’47 to support the campaign against the Communards.

General Alfonso led off the campaign with a direct invasion of Languedoc – and there he found nothing but chaos, civil unrest and confusion. Apparently the authority of the SRC commisars had collapsed, leading to anarchy. The Spanish immediately moved to restore order and to arrest those few Communards still alive and present. Largo, the ARF aerosquadron, a passel of Vastmark riflemen, Afriqan mercenaries and a strong force of Templars arrived later in the year, and by the end of ’48, the provinces of Languedoc, Aquitaine and Auvergne (as well as the cities of Narbonne and Limoges) were once more in Largoista hands. Islander and Norsktrad fleets supported this operation offshore, blockading the coast and seizing considerable amounts of Espanan shipping.

Unfortunately for Largo’s peace of mind, he did not have enough troops on hand to properly garrison the newly reclaimed provinces, so he was forced to leave the local worker’s committees, mayors and landowners in control. Further, the outright revolt of the Provencals inspired a great desire to invade the rich province and capture Marseilles, but unfortunately his spies were certain the Communards had not taken refuge there – and the Danes had not shattered into civil war, as he had hoped.

Diplomatic efforts in Salamanca failed, though the ambassador escaped with his life. Royalist sentiments were strong in the northern highlands. The recently restored Empress Anna made her way to Seville, seeking to examine certain documents acquired in the capture of the Communard stronghold there. Unfortunately for her, her traveling column was attacked by a mob of campesinos in the hills above the city and all were slain. In particular, the body of the Empress was hacked to bits, proving hard to identify – but the abbess of the monastery where she had lived for so long was able to make a positive identification. Apparently peace had not quite returned to the south.

In ’48, as peace seemed to have taken Lisbon in a firm grip, a Carthaginian ship arrived bearing certain unexpected prisoners – including no less than the Emir’s brother – to face trial in Spanish courts for crimes committed against the Largoista regime. To say the government was surprised by this turn of events was to understate their reaction. Even the Norsk merchants were dumbfounded.

Frankish Commonwealth: The collapse of the Espanan cause in the south resulted in a brief but ultimately limited flood of refugees from across the border. Frankish troops on hand did not allow the ragged masses to settle within the Commonwealth, directing them instead to the east, where the Danish authorities could do something with them.

Carthage: In spring of ’47, the Carthaginian Parliament was presented with evidence of extensive involvement by the CIS in the Spanish Revolution by furious representatives of the Norsktrad mercantile combine. Mistrusting his own officers, Hamilcar launched his own purge of the errant ministry, as well as enlisting a former Frankish military officer as the new Chief of Internal Security.

As it happened the swiftly cast net snared none other than the Emir’s own brother, Hasdrubal Barca! Intercepted by complete luck on the road to Egypt, the CIS minister was dragged back to Augostina in chains. With the traitor in hand, Hamilcar addressed the Republican Assembly:

“Too many of us have lived in the past, when the forces of the Empress Teresa invaded our lands. Actions contrary to all international rules of law and conduct have been committed by rogue elements within our very government, and we must be held accountable for these. While these actions were in no way known or sanctioned by ourselves or any legitimate authority within Carthage, we nonetheless accept responsibility, and do extend our apologies to Spain as both a people and nation. You may be absolutely assured that the perpetrators of these crimes will be brought to justice.”
“We have all suffered greatly over the past years, Carthage no less than Spain. Although we are Hussite and you Catholic, let us embrace as brothers and put an end to this madness, and begin rebuilding. The nation of Carthage is at your disposal. We shall make amends for our errant brethren.”
Hamilcar, Emir of Carthage

The traitors (Hasdrubal Barca and other captured CIS leaders) were then placed aboard ship, under heavy guard (and against serious internal opposition to the legality of the acti) and extradited to Spain to stand trial there. With the forlorn prisoners, Hamilcar sent an emissary to Lisbon, offering formal and public apology to the Spanish government, and while truthfully and passionately disavowing any knowledge or involvement in the scandal. Again despite the fury of members of his own government, the Emir also offered to open all his Administration’s records to Spanish investigators.

1749 – 1750 T210
Tewfik: Old Solomon finally died – his noble heart gave out – even as company business in Al-Harkam was booming (new yards, new shops, new foundries, new everything…). His son, Saul, only received word of his father’s death a year later, as he was busy on the coast of Spain with some Latina beauties.

Norsktrad: Johannes visited the prisoners obtained from the latest purge in Lisbon. They were being held in solitary confinement in the Company brig, under heavy guard, in irons, and were interviewed separately.

“Are you going to co-operate?” asked grizzled old Johannes, armed guards standing at his back. “If you help the Company, the Company will help you. The officials of the Republic of Spain, your erstwhile colleagues, are most interested in meeting you, and I can assure you it is not to politely ask questions, hmm? You understand me? The Largoistas are good people, but they are not subtle. The Jesuits, too, are eager to talk with you; you recall the stories of the Spanish Inquisition perhaps?

“Now then, I want names and locations, in Spain and elsewhere. We hear rumors that your headquarters is in the Levant, or rather, Egypt, eh? Speak up man. If you help us, perhaps soon you will be released with a few coins for your trouble, and free passage away from Spain. We can even transport you and your family to the New World, you’d be watched thereafter, no more. Now if you please: names, places, details of your signs, passwords, aims, and your operations. I am an old man; answer before I lose my patience…”

What the unfortunates (and their families) might have revealed is unknown, but some ‘friends’ of those in chains attacked Teugen’s cavalcade, when next he went about in the city. Nearly thirty were killed in the resulting crossfire, but old Johannes survived and won another set of scars in his right leg. Some bodies of the assailants were recovered and the Norsk chairman knew he’d embroiled himself in a duel to the death.

The numbers of skilled workers employed by the Norsk at the massive steamship and air-yards around Lisbon continued to grow, with (unsubstantiated) reports of entire rural districts being depopulated to fuel the constant demand for men and women to work in the forges, lading yards, foundries, lathing lines and finishing shops of Lisbon. The air yards, in particular, were very busy – a new air passenger service had opened between Lisbon and Valetia on Malta, which required kitting out the Hertriginna ov Malta and Republiken with the finest possible amenities. A passing Japanese fleet also loaded aboard two crated-up zeppelins for transshipment to the Amerikas.

The chairman issued a declaration: ‘Following the ending of the war in Spain, I am proud to announce the initiation of the new Norsk Aer airship route to mark a new age of commerce and prosperity. The Norsktrad hereby commences trade by air to the Duchy of the Three Isles. Furthermore, this underlines our intent to enhance the communication between the diverse Catholic nations. It is our hope to expand upon our air routes in the near future.’

To commemorate all those who fell in the war in Spain, the Company engineers built a small landscaped park for the pleasure of the citizens, to replace some of the sad ruins in the city, with land purchased from the owners. The park was landscaped with pleasant gardens and decorated with bronze statues as memorials to the fallen. Among them were statues of Minister Miguel, General Antonio, Diego Tordes, Empress Anna, and Marget Procure.

Spain: Having struggled through the Civil War mostly intact (there were still the Royalist provinces of Castille and Aragon to deal with), the Republicans set about repairing some of the damage done to the Great Harbor of Lisbon and the city itself. The towns of Cimmura and Tharsis expanded as well.

Largo himself returned from the north to Lisbon to take charge of the government during such a troubled time – there were more purges, this time of the officer corps and the Imperial Guard – and more sympathizers of the ‘evil ones’ were found. The line troops were spared, however.

Largo himself did not escape the reach of the enemy, for a pregnant middle-aged woman attempted to knife him while he attended mass in the Sé Patriarchal cathedral. Shrieking something about how her ‘god loves you’, she was hacked to death by the Commandante’s guardsmen. Examination of her body revealed an intricate series of purple dragon-like shapes hidden beneath her clothes. A Norsktrad magnate present at mass watched in puzzled horror… “a Bjarni cultist? Here in the south? How odd.”

In the north, in Aquitaine, there was a great deal of furor regarding the discovery of certain documents in an ruined French monastery, abandoned since the eleventh century. The parchments – handwritten by the Abbe St. Denis – comprised the man’s personal diary, relating the visitation of an angel who revealed the series of catastrophic defeats inflicted upon Christenden by the pagan Northmen (including the destruction of the Holy Roman Empire and the capture of Rome) were due to the Danish kings bearing the blood of Clovis and by that right, the dominion over all men, high and low. Papal agents investigating the ruins and the purported diary declared them to be “Danish fakes,” though the common people still believed…

Aztec Empire: Following a request from the government of the Republic of Spain, the Norsktrad entered into negotiation with the Aztec Empire, in order to support a requested cartel trade route. Notice of the discussions was provided to the Catholic nations of the Amerikas, as well as other powers, for the Norsktrad had no wish to alienate its existing clients and customers. Though the Swedish Embassy muttered darkly about certain ‘matters of history’, they made no open effort to stop the trade negotiations.

1751 - 1752 T211
Great Britain: A few shipments of moldy grain, moth-eaten furs and pinecones were received from the Iroquois in North Amerika. So empty were the markets of the English cities, however, that even such a paltry donation was gratefully accepted. Russian wheat also came from the ARF, which meant - combined with an unexpectedly good harvest (and wine and olives imported from Spain) - the citizens of gloomy old England could eat again.

Norsktrad: The Company offices remained very tense. A queer, waiting air was upon the city, and no one felt at ease. Dogs whined at all hours of the day and flights of birds could be seen over the rooftops winging their way out of the metropolis in all directions… despite this, however, there were no attacks on Company personnel, no assassins in the dark, no sudden blasts of flame on crowded streets. Instead everyone's nerves were stretched to the breaking point. And the weather grew steadily hotter by the day.

Spain: The usual flood of refugees, foreigners and landless men thronging the docks of Lisbon were enlivened (in '52) by the arrival of a veritable circus of Indian splendor… the five-year-old maharaja Yasar of Yasarid and his sister, the rani Nimaya, had come to visit glorious Europe.

Lisbon, All-Saint's Day, November 1st, 1752
There was no warning, only the half-felt sensation of blistering autumn heat commpressing, pressed by a massive, invisible hand. Throughout the city, the cathedrals were crowded with throngs of people attending morning mass. In each darkened nave, the voices of the priests faltered as the churchbells began to ring with an odd, wavering sound.

In 1752, Lisbon was one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Conquered by Moors in 1056, it was kept under Moorish influence until the fall of the Caliphate of Spain. This may be seen in the design of the streets in the quarters surrounding St. George Castle and extending as far as Rossio, the central part of the city. The Rosario, or main square, was the commercial center of Lisbon. The Estatus Palace, situated to the north, was where illustrious visitors to the Republic were lodged. On the east side stood Saint Dominic Church and the All Saint's Royal Hospital, with its magnificent fa‡ade. On top of the hill, an ancient royal residence was situated. To the west, the church and its Convent were among the most magnificent buildings in Lisbon. Other famous buildings near the city center include the Cathedral, St. Paul's Church, St. Nicholas' Church, and St. Roch's Church.

The architecture of the city was complemented by that of the suburbs, including a majestic aqueduct constructed by in 1731, the Jeronimus Church, and the Tower of Belem. With an estimated population of 275,000, Lisbon was one of the largest cities in Europe.

An enormous earthquake began at 9:30am, deep under the Atlantic Ocean, in the abyssal depths 200 kilometers WSW of Cape St. Vincent. The total duration of shock lasted ten minutes and was comprised of three distinct jolts.

Effects from the earthquake were far reaching, though the focus of the following devastation was worst in Portugal, particularly in Lisbon. Severe shaking was felt in North Africa and there was heavy loss of life in St. George the Defender and Graasland. Moderate damage was done in Algiers and in southwest Spain. Shaking was also felt in France, Switzerland, and Northern Italy.

The oscillation of suspended objects at great distances from the epicenter indicate an enormous area of perceptibility. The observation of seiches as far away as Finland, suggest a magnitude approaching 9.0. Precursory phenomena were reported, including turbid waters in Portugal and Spain, falling water levels in wells throughout Spain, and a decrease in water flow in springs and fountains.

In the North African interior, the towns of Meknes, Fez, and Marrakesh, and the coastal towns of Asilah, Larache, Rabat, and Agadir suffered extensive damage in the quake. Mosques, synagogues, churches, and many other buildings collapsed in Meknes, where numerous casualties were reported. The convent, church, and Hospital de S. Francisco collapsed completely.

In Lisbon, the convulsion of the earth smashed nearly three-quarters of the buildings in the city to rubble. The streets buckled and shattered, while church-towers toppled into squares jammed with screaming, running citizens. The water mains ruptured, turning the lower districts into a muddy morass and leaving the hilltop districts without a single drop.

Soon after the earthquake, several fires broke out, mostly started by cooking fires and candles. Some of them were rapidly extinguished, especially in the densely populated areas. But many inhabitants fled from their homes and left fires burning. Narrow streets full of fallen debris prevented access to the fire sites. The public squares filled with people and their rescued belongings, but as the fire approached, these squares were abandoned, and the fire swelled tp catastrophic proportions. Looters setting fire to some ransacked houses caused the belief that the fire had a criminal origin. The flames raged for five days.

All of the downtown area, from St. Paul's quarter to St. Roch, and from Carmo and Trindade to the Rossio square area to the Castle and Alfama quarters burned, along with the Ribeira, Rua Nova, and Rossio quarters. Remolares, Barrio Alto, Limoeiro, and Alfama, were partially burned.

Several buildings which had suffered little damage due to the earthquake were destroyed by the fire. The Royal Palace and the Opera House were totally gutted by the flames. The Patriarchal suffered relatively little damage in the earthquake, and religious services continued there during the afternoon, but the church was evacuated as the fire approached. Later the building was completely burned out.

Immediately after the earthquake, many inhabitants of Lisbon looked for safety on the sea by boarding ships moored on the river and in the recently complete Great Harbor. But about thirty minutes after the quake, a huge wave roared up out of the western ocean and swamped the area near Bugie Tower on the mouth of the Tagus. The area between Junqueria and Alcantara in the western part of the city was the most heavily damaged by the wave and the Great Harbor mole itself collapsed. Further destruction occurred upstream. The Cais de Pedra at Rerreiro do Paco and part of the nearby custom house were flattened.

A total of three waves struck the shore, each dragging people and debris out to sea and leaving exposed large stretches of the river bottom. In front of the Terreiro do Paco, the maximum height of the waves was estimated at 6 meters. Boats overcrowded with refugees capsized and sank. In the town of Cascais, some 30 kilometers west of Lisbon, the waves wrecked several boats and when the water withdrew, large stretches of sea bottom were left uncovered. In coastal areas such as Peniche, situated about 80 kilometers north of Lisbon, many people were killed by the tsunami. In Setubal, 30 kilometers south of Lisbon, the water reached the first floor of buildings.

The destruction was greatest in Algarve, southern Portugal, where the tsunami dismantled some coastal fortresses and, in the lower levels, razed houses. In some places the waves crested at more than 30 meters. Almost all the coastal towns and villages of the Algarve were heavily damaged, except Faro, which was protected by sandy banks. In Lagos, the waves reached the top of the city walls. For the coastal regions, the destructive effects of the tsunami were more disastrous than those of the earthquake.

In southwestern Spain, the tsunami caused damage to Cadiz and Huelva, and the waves penetrated the Guadalquivir River, reaching Seville. At Gibraltar, the sea rose suddenly by about two meters. In Ceuta the tsunami was strong, but in the Mediterranean Sea, it decreased rapidly. On the other hand, it caused great damage and casualties to the western coast of Morocco, from Tangiers, where the waves reached the walled fortifications of the town, to Agadir, where the waters passed over the walls, killing many.

The tsunami reached, with less intensity, the coast of France, Great Britain, Ireland, Belgium and Holland. In Madeira and in the Azores islands damage was extensive and many ships were in danger of being wrecked.

The tsunami crossed the Atlantic Ocean, reaching the Antilles in the afternoon. Reports from Antigua, Martinique, and Barbados note that the sea first rose more than a meter, followed by large waves. Casualties, however, were minimal.

Lisbon earthquake.JPG
The Great Lisbon Earthquake

Not so in Lisbon. By day's end, between the conflagration of the fires and those crushed under collapsing buildings, nearly thirty thousand people had died. Among them were Johannes Teugen, the maklarevalde of the Norsktrad, and his lieutenants Goram Thule and Njal Gurni. Among the Spaniards, prince Jose Tordesillas was the only notable who happened to be in the city - and he was slain in the collapse of the Cathedral. So to perished the scions of the Yasarid Indian royal house. The city itself was nearly leveled, and with it, the vast assemblage of industry which the Spanish and Norsk had been so laboriously constructing.

In the aftermath, the new Norsk maklarevalde (Delgado) commanded an evacuation of all surviving Company staff, tools, equipment and ships (though the tsunami had wrecked at least two steam cruisers slated for delivery to the Spanish government) to St. Georges in Morroco.

1753 - 1754 T212
Norsktrad: Jorge Delgado surveyed the faces before him, drawn from all ranks and stations within the Company. He nervously chewed on his pipe and then looked down one last time at his notes. "Ladies, gentlemen, thank you for attending. What I have to say is not solely for the Council or for the Affarsmannen, but I trust you to carry my words to your colleagues and employees."

He shifted uncomfortably. "The Maklarevalde… the late Maklarevalde, would have known what to say. I am no speechmaker, but I pray you to listen, despite whatever uncertain course I chart.

"We have suffered a disaster. All have lost fellows, friends, family in the calamity at Lisbon. We have all heard stories of outstanding heroism, but too many are no longer among us, though their deeds were worthy of praise. But I have heard of Dan Poulsson, engineer, who held closed a valve whilst immersed in live steam, so that others could escape the workshop when the earthquake fractured the lines. Of Theresa Mendoza, junior nurse at the Company hospital, who evacuated her ward and went back in to save others even as the building collapsed. And of Ramon Swenson, manager of clerks, who organized a bucket chain and found ladders to save those trapped on an upper floor, and himself lost his life in the conflagration. Too many others; too many dead.

"To some it will seem that the quays and harbors, yards, warehouses, offices and homes were swept away by the Hand of God. But I say this to you: God in His mercy aided us in our time of need, for many were saved, and those that perished, now they rest in His peace. For it was no Act of God that destroyed and devastated fair Lisbon. No. It was but one more foul blow struck by the foes of life, of light, of all humanity.

"And I say to you that it does not define a man in how he acts in victory, or in defeat, though these may offer some measure, but rather, how he faces adversity, strives and does not yield.

"The Company is damaged but still endures. We cannot replace the dead but we can rebuild.

"Long ago, I sailed the eastern seas, and I met a maker of swords in a port of Japan. I visited his forge and saw his craft, how the metal was heated, folded, tempered, to be sharp on the edge, but supple in the core. Strength fashioned with consummate skill. And I say to you, that we have been hammered upon the anvil, tempered by the fire, and quenched in the flood. But still we stand unbowed. There is no more fitting memorial for our dead and our injured, than what we fashion in steel and build in brick. But our greatest wealth lies in our strength of sinew and our steadfastness of soul.

"The Norsktrad is a Catholic Company, but also catholic in the wider meaning of the word. This day the offices of the Company will close. All our staff are free to mark the day as they wish. Arrangements have been made with the clergy in St. Georges for special services."

Jorge paused for a moment. "Though the Swedish government has graciously permitted the Company to operate from Morocco, we do not forget our ties to Spain. The Norsktrad will send what aid we can to Lisbon. And here, the Company will finance and support orphanages, hospitals, schools and colleges. The programs of the deceased Maklarevalde will be continued. The Company thanks you - I thank you - for your efforts in the difficult days to come. And now, let us hold a minute's silence."

Spain: Swallowing his pride and bowing his head to the inevitable power both of God and His Church on Earth, Largo allowed the Papacy to flood his wrecked government with clerks, monks, priests, cardinals and every kind of holy man - all in a desperate attempt to recover from the destruction of Lisbon. Luckily, he made some progress on recruiting knowledgeable Spaniards, Portuguese and Occitans to serve as magistrates, ministers and counting-men.

The Spanish economy managed to cling to life, as the annihilation of so many hungry mouths in the capital meant there was grain, wine, olives and salted beef to export to England and other northern parts. The money so gained managed to keep the Republic budget afloat. So dire were the straits of the rural population of Portugal that the arrival (in a small, well-armed fleet) of a large number of the Sisters of the Rose was barely marked upon, particularly as they immediately set about rebuilding local hospitals and orphanages.

Oh, miserable mortals! Oh wretched earth!
Oh, dreadful assembly of all mankind!
Eternal sermon of useless sufferings!
Deluded philosophers who cry, "All is well,"
Hasten, contemplate these frightful ruins,
This wreck, these shreds, these wretched ashes of the dead;
These women and children heaped on one another,
These scattered members under broken marble;
One-hundred thousand unfortunates devoured by the earth
Who, bleeding, lacerated, and still alive,
Buried under their roofs without aid in their anguish,
End their sad days!
In answer to the half-formed cries of their dying voices,
At the frightful sight of their smoking ashes,
Will you say: "This is result of eternal laws
Directing the acts of a free and good God!"
Will you say, in seeing this mass of victims:
"God is revenged, their death is the price for their crimes?"
What crime, what error did these children,
Crushed and bloody on their mothers' breasts, commit?
Did Lisbon, which is no more, have more vices
Than Kingston and Riga immersed in their pleasures?
Lisbon is destroyed, and they dance in Paris!
Voltaire ~ The Lisbon Disaster

The Largoista government also made a rather clumsy attempt to convince some credulous locals that the late Empress Teresa should be canonized as a saint - but in Lisbon at least, far too many people were still alive who remembered her as something wholly unlike any saint who ever lived… the cult of the Guarding Virgin, on the other hand, gained strength. This was helped immensely by the Pope initiating proceedings to canonize the late Empress Oniko of Denmark (whose apparition had reputedly appeared in the city just before the earthquake, warning those within to flee).

There was a tremendous commotion in a small village several days north of Lisbon in early '53 - a ruckus loud enough to draw the attention of Prince Juan and his guardsmen (who happened to be picking their way through the debris which had been thrown up on the beaches by the tsunami). Arriving at Belem, the prince was stunned to see the head of an enormous metal statue rising from the surf. A statue of a man… now rusted and green, adorned with seaweed and kelp. Further investigation revealed the statue was hollow and had - at one time, before the ravages of the sea destroyed the mechanism, been filled with gears, levers, wheels and other obscure contraptions. Padre Kihome, accompanying the priest, ventured (in a horrified, palsied voice) that the whole apparatus had once walked along the sea floor…

Though this was very interesting, the prince soon returned to Lisbon to attend his wedding, to the lady Anna Marie Cortez (from a cadet line of the old family). His father, looking particularly overstuffed in a jacket so braided with gold you could barely make out the fabric, made this toast:

"Today while we mourn the dearly departed, and begin the long rebuilding process we are blessed with a reason to celebrate. We celebrate that we are still alive, and even in this dark time people still find love. Is that not a miracle in and of itself? In the past twenty-five years we have seen mountains tossed down upon us by evil beings, we have seen the rise and fall of a Satanic Sultan, we have suffered the murder of not only our Empress Teresa, but her child Walter only weeks before he would have been crowned Emperor. Our bankers were duped by some still unknown nation, the nobility rebelled against the people's will, students backed by Hussite powers, who then joined with the nobles, and then the earthquake and tsunami. When in any time of our past has the world been so over run with evil? Yet we are alive, and we preserver, and we still find love.

"Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians chapter 13: Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

"How great of comfort that is to know that with all the gifts of the spirit we may be given, the greatest of these gifts is given to us all, for do we not all love? I lost my son in the Tsunami, and many other family members as well, but my grandson Juan now takes his wife. While nothing will erase the pain of having lost Jose, I know that when my work here is done I will see him again, with our Father as well. For now I rejoice in the wonders that we have here in the world. Please join us in celebrating the lives and the union of my grandson Juan and Anna Marie di Cortez. This union of love will also help close the book on the royalist rebellion, and will hopefully lead Spain to time of peace and prosperity."

Church of Rome: That the Churches grip on Spain would be tighter than in centuries was of great satisfaction to Clement, for the world was a fragmented, impious place, filled with heresy and doubt. The collapse of his effort to rectify the faithful at the Morocco conference still galled.

1755 - 1756 T213
Norsktrad: Hilka Anders, conducting certain negotiations in Corunna on the northern coast of Spain, was found dead in her room at the ‘Herring Boat’, throat cut. No suspects were apprehended by the local police, despite a vigorous search. Foul play was suspected.

Spain: Foreign aid continued to flow into the coffers of the Lisbon government, which let Cabellero see to rebuilding more of Lisbon and Tharsis. Some of the damage to coastal Andalusia was also repaired. An entire shipload of Republican ‘black hats’ (policia municipal) were dispatched to Elmerland in the Faeroes to investigate the murder of the Carthaginian ambassador. Unfortunately, it was very likely the man had simply fallen afoul of the native hatred for Hussites – much as Commandante Largo found his diplomatic efforts in Royalist Salamanca meeting with worse and worse results…

The Sisters of the Rose opened a large hospital and public school in the most seriously damaged district of Lisbon. As ever, they offered their services without stint, fee or demand.

A fleet of Swedish warships (the old-fashioned kind) engaged in sailing maneuvers off the Spanish coast for most of ’55, beating up and down the shore near the now-notorious town of Belem. Soon after the visit of De Marigny, however, the ‘mechanical man’ was broken up. A number of universities had expressed interest in the artifact, so the Spanish governor met all of their requests by sending everyone a single crate of material. He was pleased to have done with all the foolery, but the townspeople of Belem were very sad – all the customers were gone! Then Pedro the shepherd boy suggested that they build another mechanical man…

1757 - 1758 T214
Spain: Restoration work continued in Lisbon, with the army corps of engineers being called in to clear out the sewers and rebuild the last of the aqueducts.

The Commandante was forced to send a letter of apology to the British government after a large troupe of Spanish monks became inebriated and made a violent scene in Portsmuth after being defeated by an equally loud group of Taborite preachers in a zenball game. The Taborites fled, however, before the arrests began. The Spaniards were so drunk on warm beer they could not escape the coppers.

Bishop Castellano, traveling in the mountains of Leon, was beset by Royalist bandits (yes, there were a few left lurking about) and murdered. The Franciscans continued to tend to the poor and destitute in the lower city, building a series of soup kitchens and cleaning up several parks which had fallen into disrepair.

Honorable Afriqa Company: Grain continued to be imported from the Islamic Union and from Spain, even though harvests in the south had been improving for some time.

1759 – 1760 T215
ARF: Disgusted, she ordered her fleet back to Cortez in Granada (the nearest company offices), but fell ill on the voyage and by the time her ships reached Spain, the glorious Jessica was dead. She was interred in the city cemetery in Cortez, in a rather garish white marble tomb.

Norsktrad: Stuck in a fiscal situation more common to primacies that presumably profit-making companies, the Company purse dispensed substantial funds to Vastmark, the Swedes, Spain (did they ever stop crying?), even the Pope! Grain was imported from Spain and from the Union – though with events in the middle-east progressing as they were, the clerks down in ‘agricultural commodities’ didn’t expect to see many more casks of fresh oranges and lemons coming their way.

Spain: A tidy trade in Russian wheat began, providing the cities of Spain with bread and the Kournos dynasty in Kiev with ready cash. Formal recognition of the Al’Haggar Confederacy was also extended, and their merchants welcomed in Spanish ports.

Efforts to secure the loyalty of the eastern coastal provinces led to the settlement of large numbers of loyal Portugese in Granada and Valencia – and the violent revolt of the Valencians. The Republican garrison fled into Tortosa, where they are mewed up by very angry bands of landowners, ex-Royalist veterans and Aragonese volunteers. With Spain nearly severed, a lot of talk began to circulate about the ‘return of the Queen’ and the restoration of the monarchy.

The Senate of the Republic of Spain passed a new law by a landslide vote, stating ‘Any Swedish citizen, leader, or soldier who does not want to live under the cruel, unjust, and illegal government of the Militarists shall be offered asylum in Spain’. In a move supported by the President of the Senate, Largo Cabellero, the Republic of Spain recognized the Parliamentarians as the only true government of Sweden.

“As Spain has learned in the past 40 years Civil War can be a hellish event to have to live through.” Juan Cabellero said, “While we should do all we can to back the rightful and legal rulers of Sweden, we must also not alienate the Militarist branch, if for no other reason for the Catholic workers under there rule. It is for them that we should open trade with the Militarist’s, likewise by having open communications might we be able to prevent another full-fledged war in Europe, along religious lines. In other news a Swedish naval fleet to play some Naval war games will visit southern Spain. The intent of these maneuvers is for Spanish Engineers to see how these new advances of ships work against the old style of ships and perhaps give our smartest men some ideas on how to improve our ships”

While the Kalmarist ships never arrived, the Republican fleet was very pleased to take delivery of two modern, fresh-from-the-yards steam cruisers – the Emperatiz Anna and the Emperatiz Oniko – from a Norsk delegation led by master Marschal. A sizable Norskvarden squadron (six steam cruisers and twelve men-of-war) accompanied the delivery, to make sure there was no funny business. Shakedown cruises were planned for both new ships.

Prince Juan returned from Leon and settled in with his wife, keeping her up late with his penchant for reading old novels, and – eventually – with the cries of a baby girl.

1761 – 1762 T216
Frankish Commonwealth: Every naval patrol was on high alert, for rumors abounded of Catholic invasions... a Shawnee fleet did pass through the English Channel, but it was bound for Spain and had no interest in France.

Spain: Spanish constructed their first native steamship yard in Lisbon, and in record time too, though somewhat over-budget. Largo had no intention of falling behind in the pan-European arms race, particularly with general war in the offing…

The airship yards in Madrid expanded again and enormous investments in regional agriculture were made in Portugal, Galacia and Estremadura. Galacia improved to 2 GPv. Gangs of Franciscan laborers cleaned up the streets of Lisbon and built several new parish churches. A lucrative arrangement in transshipping grain, fresh fruit, salted meat and other comestibles continued with the Islamic Union; the IU exported to Spain and Spain, in turn, exported to the Norsk, to Sweden and other parties.

The last of the Hussites in Seville were driven out by the vigorous preaching of Benedictine friars working in the city.

Tipped off by certain interested parties, the Republican government mounted a series of massive raids the length and breadth of the realm to find and destroy the organization known as the ‘Golden Dawn’, which had caused so much strife and discontent in Spain all these years… Il Commandant and a sizable force of elite troops swept down on Barcelona and blocked over several neighborhoods before charging in to go house to house, seeking the notorious Alexander Cane and his supporters.

Fighting broke out immediately, both between the Republican guardsmen and the cultists – and between Largo and his own troops, some of whom were apparently in the pay of the Dawn. Largo, trapped in crossfire in the atrium of the Cane estate, was shot down by his own men. Bishop Mendoza, leading the secondary assault team, was similarly ambushed. Fires were started, burning down the whole neighborhood. The Cane family escaped, though not without loss.

At much the same time, Prince Juan launched his own purge in Lisbon, ordering arrests in the city and among the clergy. He too was the subject of an assassination attempt, but escaped (though wounded). The circumstances of the attack on the prince convinced Juan that not only were most of his officers Dawnists, but so too were many of the government clerks and ministers. Excessive measures, therefore, were demanded – as soon as he survived the gunshot wounds and worse…

The merchants handling the lucrative grain trade through the Spanish ports had decided to fulfill the orders for England, Sweden and Morocco by shipping out Spanish surpluses to the foreigners and then selling the imported Syrian grain to the local bakeries. In more peaceful times, a thriving business would have made everyone wealthy. But these are not peaceful times.

The grain imported from the Middle East came tainted, though no one realized what had happened until well after Barcelona, Lisbon, Cortez and Tortosa were burning, maddened crowds running wild in the streets, shrieking and stabbing one another, beholding terrible, awesome visions; overcome by religious fervor and dying by the drove, clogging the Churches and markets with heaps of the dead, their bodies sprouting loathsome black fruiting bodies, gaping mouths spewing spores and festering death…

Prince Juan did not escape the deadly breath of the Corruption, nor did Queen Anna Marie, the princesses Maria Elena and Cassandra and little Julia. Lord Mendoza, busy executing all the Dawnists he could find in Barcelona also succumbed (and the Corruption did not spare the cultists, either, who found their hidden cells and safe-houses no barrier to the airborne spores.

Luckily for the common Spaniard, the tainted grain had been distributed solely in the larger cities, and the fierce blaze of the Corruption (though greatly attenuated by dilution) guttered out in the ruins. The psychological effects of the ergot-like infectant were more spectacular than devastating.

The northern port of Bilbao became tremendously busy as two Shawnee fleets arrived and unloaded a large and battle-tested army (so recently come from Poland) to taste the local wine, women, song and olives. They avoided the bread, though Lord Chesmu had fallen ill on the passage from the Baltic and died soon after they reached the sunny Spanish port.

Back in Lisbon, with the death of nearly half the citizenry (and all of the of-age members of the Cabellero family) things devolved into chaos. The parliament fled the city, the regimental commanders waged open war upon one another (a Dawnist coalition attempted to seize the citadel and the port), and everything seemed quite bleak. Into this moment stepped a minor colonel of the horse-guards who, by chance, was a relative of the dead Cabellero dynasty. His name was Charles Bourbon, a Spaniard hidalgo of half-Italian descent through the Farnese dukes of Parma. By daring and a complete lack of fear, he grasped control of the loyal regiments still in Lisbon, crushed the Dawnist cabal, reclaimed their troops, quarantined infected districts and stopped all ships from fleeing the city by means of a boom of barges across the harbor-mouth manned by his gunners.

His cavalry fanned out into the countryside, dragging the parliamentarians back into the capital and forcing them (at bayonet point, no less) to acclaim him as King of Spain. This turn of events was not met with universal acclaim… Zufar, Aquitaine, Auvergne (and Limoges), Estremadura, Languedoc (and Narbonne), and Salamanca all rose up in revolt or simply refused to acknowledge Charles’ regime in Lisbon.

In the capital, Charles cleaned house viciously, having hundreds of Dawnist supporters and sympathizers executed, their lands and properties seized for the crown, their children driven out as exiles. Civil liberties were suppressed for the duration of the crisis.

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