May 10th, 1286
Aiello mansion, Venice
The bread was white and the cheese didn’t have even a hint of mold, but Pietro pushed them away uneaten anyway. At least there isn’t any bacon, he thought with mordant humour, then regretted it as his stomach turned over at the thought of bacon grease. With an effort of will he managed to keep from retching; nonetheless he resolved to give new instructions to his servants. It was necessary for wine to flow freely at campaign parties, and he couldn’t be seen refusing to drink with the people he wanted to support him; but in the future he’d ensure he was served from a special bottle, with pre-watered wine. A reverse miracle, of sorts, he thought, and felt better at his own wit.
Pietro Aiello, somewhat later than these events; he did eventually gain the Dogeship he hungered for.
Giving up on solid food for the time being, he sipped water – cold and clear, melted from imported Alpine snow, not the faintly-brackish stuff that came out of the wells – from his silver cup, and went out to the balcony overlooking the gardens for a breath of air. The May morning was not yet hot and muggy, and he breathed deeply of the fresh scent of the gardens, calming his stomach. He was beginning to think that he could face the bread after all, and perhaps even think about what his next display of largesse and suitability as Doge should be, when the bells began to toll.
He frowned for a moment, but in spite of his hangover the confusion didn’t last long. Short of invasion, there was only one reason for the churches to ring their bells on an ordinary Friday: The death of a Doge.
May 12th, 1286
Ducal Palace, Venice
“June seventeenth?” Pietro looked unbelievingly at the smirking Dandolo contingent. When a rival politician looked pleased to have proposed something patently ridiculous, it was best to keep a hand on your purse. “You can’t hold an election in a month!”
“We most certainly can,” Jacopo said. The head of the Morosini was smiling too, that particularly unpleasant smile that only appears on humans executing a well-prepared ambush. “What you mean is that you thought Giacomo would live another year, and a month does not give you enough time to spread bribes. That is indeed most unfortunate for you.”
“Besides,” a junior Contarini pointed out piously, “we’re at war. It’s not good for the State to remain leaderless for long in such a crisis.” There was a ripple of suppressed laughter; Pietro took a moment to note the man’s face, the better to learn his name for future reference. As though it could matter for an army in the Sinai, a months’ sail away with good winds, who was Doge in Venice, or if anyone was!
There was, however, clearly no use in protesting; if Dandolo, Morosini, and Contarini were all in on it – and practically tripping over themselves in their eagerness to point out how screwed the Aiello were – then the fix was in, and arguing would accomplish nothing except to lose dignity. Besides, he understood now what was happening: This was, finally, the long-awaited vengeance for what Pietro the elder had done to get Fausto elected. Pietro had been twenty years old at the time, and in a much better position to seduce tenant daughters than to prevent his namesake’s campaign of assassinations, but what did that matter? The other patricians weren’t revenging themselves on him, but on the Aiello family. If that happened to shut Pietro out of the Ducal Palace for a lifetime, well, too bad.
“I see there are long memories in this room,” he said neutrally, to let them know that he had grasped what was going on. And, to be fair, many of the men present had lost fathers or admired elder brothers so that Fausto could wear the signet ring; manipulating the timing of a single election to make the Aiello lose was, in a way, an admirably restrained form of vengeance. “Very well, June seventeenth it is. And may God guide the electorate, since the patricians won’t.”
So a funny thing happened on my way to the Dogal palace: I had finally got together the money I needed to win the election, I was Ctrl-clicking the button to increase the campaign fund, and between the second and third clicks the Doge died. And, no, you cannot get elected Doge of Venice on 200 ducats. So not only did I have to wait another five years to become Doge, I paid 200 ducats for the privilege. The RNG giveth, the RNG taketh away.
When the idiot (except for being assassin-proof – very skilled on that score; three separate plots (that is, one of mine, two AI) to kill the man, and it still took five years) Dandolo who reigned from 1286 to 1291 finally did kick the bucket, I made up for lost time: I started four separate wars, three of which are still ongoing. They are all minor affairs, using the republican CBs, for bits and bobs of Adriatic coastline: Zeta (completed), Aprutium, and the cities of Split and Brinje. This will almost complete my collection of Balkan coast – just two provinces to go, and I’ll have CBs on them since I’ll have cities. Unifying Italy is unfortunately not in such good progress; Dragoon has seized Sicily (the island and duchy, not the kingdom), some Hungarian is set to inherit the kingdom, and picking away at it with CBs that take one city or one province at a time is looking a bit inefficient. I have not yet evolved a good plan for dealing with this.
Blayne has become King of Greece and is no longer my vassal; an expected development, and we parted on amicable terms. That does make me the smallest power in the region, but the wealth of the Levantine trade goes some way to making up for it; additionally I am become a vassal of the Britannic Empire, so I have a certain amount of protection against predators. Though not as much as you’d think just looking at the map; we’re playing a mod that penalises size, so Baron’s income and levies are not actually all that impressive.
As the blobbing process completes, tensions begin to grow between the blocs. The fate of Russia is one current point of friction; the Western European players would like to see a North Russia (played by zilcho) and a South Russia, while Foelsgaard prefers the current situation, in which he plays Czarina of All the Zombies. Note that Hungary, now played by Anders, is a vassal of the Czarina. Russia and the Moslem world seem to have some territorial disputes in the Caucasus, and both blocs disagree with Blayne over how far east the Greek border should run. I’ve also heard distant rumblings that the Muslims aren’t any too pleased to see Venetian rule of the Sinai, and a British protectorate over Jerusalem. The Middle East, then, is the current center of conflict and crisis; what a surprise.
Central and Eastern Mediterranean, 1296. Note the independence of “Leon” over in Greece – independent from me, that is; we’re both vassals of Britain. Not shown: The victorious Venetian armies current conquering the Adriatic coast. Also note the bilious green of Hungary, indicating its submission to the shambling, rotting, but immensely powerful necromantic regime of Kiev.