Azure Three Bezants: The Merchant’s Dream

“I had a dream,” the merchant said;
something there was in it, that made us listen.
“Spires and minarets and towers,
built in ivory and alabaster,
gleaming white in the noonday sun.
Tall ships came to that city,
our power and our pride,
brought on shining sails.
There every man was a trader,
in spice or tea or fierce-colored silk,
and none bore sword or pike.
Laughing women carried water.
The jewel-colored birds flew.
For God’s sake give me water,
cut one-fourth with wine;
it’s thirsty work, dreaming!

Fever dreams, you say?
It may be so; but listen.
Is not Christendie ruled
by the Prince of Peace?
Bring me wine, cut one-half with water;
it’s thirsty work, laughing.
They nailed him to a cross,
the Romans; and he brought not
peace, but a sword.

The ships came home.
Kings dressed in silk;
dukes ate their meats spiced.
And what then?
Men who wear silk
may still move counters on maps.
Yet there is much room
in a ship’s hold.
Silk enough for all;
men who wear silk
do not follow the drum.
May not Dives bring peace
though the man who told his story
is invoked to bless armies?
They don’t like to fight,
men who can drink tea daily.

Yes, a dream. But think:
Is there not gold in the East?
Gold will bring no peace,
but it rings sweetly
and glitters in sunlight;
a man can throw gold coins in the air
and let them rain down on his head,
and take no harm from it.
For gold you can buy wine
– cut it one-fourth with water;
it’s thirsty work, talking.
If peace gives you no pleasure,
what of gold? There’s gold in
the Eastern cities, sure;
and jewels, not only on birds’ wings.
Send the tall ships east,
the power and the pride,
and bring them home laden with gold.
You can bathe in gold,
and save water for drinking.”

We left him there,
shaking with his fever;
but we bought him wine.
It’s thirsty work, dying.
Fever dreams? Surely.
But something there was in it
that made us listen, and stop,
and look around. And when we did,
our heads turned east.
We had drunk the night away,
and the sun was rising.

Azure Three Bezants

My strategy is decided: I ally with England and turn east, heading across the Suez for Asia. By diplomatic means (rumours of mind-control rays are so two AARs ago) I have acquired a strip of land connecting the Med to the Red Sea, and can thus project power into the Indian Ocean, and in principle onto the subcontinent; also south into uncolonised Africa. The spice must flow!

The first session did not entirely meet my expectations. I vassalised the Pope, but this was roughly speaking my only success; I lost the union with Milan to the untimely death of my converted Doge, and after I wasted a hundred dip points on the annex, too. I reconquered most of it, but unfortunately I had to fight that war at exactly the time that Byzantium’s vassals rebelled, thinking they were going to get support from me and Russia. Well, they did get support from Russia, but, gentlemen, can I have a moment here? Just because I support your independence doesn’t mean I’m going to put up with any insolence from half of Northern Italy. So instead of a nice two-front pincer crushing what was left of Byzantium’s armies after his peasant rebellions, he rallied every last fighting German in the world, destroyed Russia’s zombie hordes (I am reliably assured that those armies were drastically mismanaged), and is currently metaphorically looking westward (to where I’m standing with my dagger not precisely in his kidney, but not precisely out of that general area either) with one eyebrow raised, saying without words “Yes Venice? Was there something you wanted?” Well, right now I would like some white peace, and also perhaps a bit of empathy for small powers led into bad decisions by the wicked examples of Big Empires. It wasn’t my fault, all the cool Russias were doing it… I suppose a sympathy province is out of the question?

I did reach admin and mil tech 4; I’m holding off on diplomatic tech because in my present situation marketplaces are useless, so I may as well maximise the neighbor discount. Additionally, exploration is a strong contender for my first idea group, in which case I’ll have need for my diplomacy points elsewhere.

Mediterranean, 1455.

Mediterranean, 1455. New Venetian provinces picked out in red. Note the disappearance of the Mamluks, what used to be Syria; Persia now has access to the Middle Sea.

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1 Comment

Filed under Azure Three Bezants, Dominion over Palm and Pine, Recessional

One response to “Azure Three Bezants: The Merchant’s Dream

  1. Pingback: Azure Three Bezants: Secret Faiths | Ynglinga Saga

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