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The Green Tassel Options · View
Kuipy
Posted: Sunday, September 10, 2017 5:28:21 PM
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The Green Tassel

" (…) By Mikombo! I am a fearsome chief, and rich!
Yet I would give it all, my coffers, my Fetish,
My coats, my wives, my trained macaque,

To be that mongrel fool, that wretched flesh-merchant,
Name of Orassengot, whose abode is as scant
As the shabby rags on his back.

A Pahoine consort, with teeth filed and pointed
Was listening and rubbing his back flesh anointed.
"O king!" Oh, why do trembling tears

Pearl in your eyes?" she asked. "Tell me, and be candid.
Have you no tin-glazed pipe, No Ooloogoo splendid,
That in such pain your soul appears?

What does that stranger own, to make such impression?
He who'd starve in the bush but for your protection?"
Answered Betani: "Gentle soul,

Whenever from afar the cargo ships visit,
That half-blood dog always parades on board with it:
A shako with a green tassel!"

Mélancolie Équatoriale

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Kuipy
Posted: Sunday, September 10, 2017 5:57:31 PM
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PRELUDE – The old hunter-hunted switcheroo

The Congolese Jungle, 1444

Leopard was the most dangerous game, King Muri thought, ironically, as he trudged through the jungle. Not even the mighty elephant bull had the killer instinct of a big cat. And among big cat a lion was stronger, true, but a leopard was stronger than a grown man already, faster and suppler. If the hunter slowed or wavered with his spear, a leopard would immediately dodge the tip, topple him and go for the throat. And leopards were skittish, and so you could not surround them with a hunting party like lions. One man against one beast, that was it.

But a king that was no hunter was not much of a king either. So Muri had left his servants behind, and was following the trail through the undergrowth, his spear cautiously pointed in front of him. This year he felt a little out of breath. Not that many good years left, maybe. But then he remembered to focus, and smelled blood. That might be good: a sated leopard was the least dangerous most dangerous game. A wounded one… It depended.

That one leopard in the clearing was wounded rather badly. Severed head on a pike, staring with dead eyes through a veil of buzzing flies.

"Surprised, cousin?"
When he turned four people stood there. The first looked very much like his late uncle. Of the other three one was a Northman for Mali, one was yellow-haired, and one was yellow-skinned.
"Cousin Muri. You killed my father, to be king in his stead."
"Nkuwu", Muri said, clenching his head on his spear.
"Yes. You sold me to Malian slavers. A boy, to slavers. Do you know what that means?"
Yes, Muri stayed silent.
"But my captivity, my exile, ultimately taught me gave the means of my revenge. I was not a slave for long. And then I walked the world. I found out what the most dangerous game is."

Muri snarled, a little. "You?"
"No. The Javanese tiger. Strong, fast, clever. I killed several. And I made friends."

The Northman was playing with a curved dagger, a well-charged mule behind him.
The yellow-haired man had a sword as long as a spear slung behind his back, and held a chain around the neck of the biggest dog Muri had ever seen.
The yellow-skinned man held a strange hollow rod, and a parrot was perched on his shoulder.
They all looked at the king, with various degrees of interest. But they left the talking, and presumably the fighting to come, to cousin Nkuwu.

"So now," he went on. "I came to claim my birthright, and to kill you, mostly."
And then talk was done. Muri leapt sideways, trying to dodge the tip of his cousin's spear, but Nkuwu was younger, faster, and just as strong; it was fast.
"A little too fast," Nkuwu said afterwards. "I'll need the head."

The Northman from Mali knelt and used his curved dagger as a hatchet to sever the dead man neck.
The yellow-haired man let his big dog have at the dead body.
The yellow-skinned man lifted the head between pudgy fingers and peered intently into the dead eyes.
"Will it suffice?" he asked. "To make you king?"
"To make us lords?" the yellow-haired man asked.
"To make me rich?" the Northman asked.

"No. By custom one of his sisters' sons would be king, or several. The furthest tribes will stop paying tribute, the closer ones will split and war and renegotiate every agreement. By custom the kingdom will remain precarious, divided, weak. An easy prey for the outsiders, when they come."
"Which we are," the yellow-haired man said.
"For now," the yellow-skinned man said.
"So?" the Northman from Mali asked. "What do we do?"

"Kongo need a new kind of king. We will have to change a lot," Nkuwu said.
Get it? Double entendre. And they started on the last leg of the new king's journey home, with the former king's head on a pike the three foreigners took turns carrying.



Kongo in 1444
--00--

Hello i'm Kuipy and I'm playing a buffed Kongo. Right at the start I'm the biggest fish in a small pound until the other players find me, then I'm a tiny fish.

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Kuipy
Posted: Sunday, September 17, 2017 5:20:04 PM
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I – The Misrule of Three

1444-1460

King Nkuwu ruled for only two years after the overthrow of his uncle Muri. His journeys and travails had left him a haunted man, and oral tradition had him wander away one day in the jungle, never to return, doomed to roam the tree shade forever. His two court chroniclers say he just died in his sleep during a hunting trip.



With him dead, and his son Nzinga only an infant, it fell to his three associates to keep the realm together and eventually expand it. These three nobles, the "uncles of Congo" as Cesar Kilingari would call them three centuries later, were more respected than liked in their lifetimes, for their rule laid heavy compared to traditional custom. But they entered Congolese folklore and even religion as a triad of exemplar heroes, and their legacy ran deep in the new Kongo State.

Alive, they were greedy, brutal and underhanded.
Dead, they were cunning, strong and ambitious.

Abdullah the Northman was the youngest, and a rake.
Sim the yellow-haired was of middle age, and a warrior.
Li Wang the yellow-skinned was a scholar, and the oldest, although he would outlive the two others.

Abdullah hailed from Mali, and for a year he and Nkuwu had served the same master in Andalusia, before slitting his throat and running away to become gentlemen of fortunes.
No one knew Sim's country of birth, maybe not even him. Sim is not a common name in any European country. He and Nkuwu met deep in a Karelian village with no name, fighting back to back against a hundred Odin-hailing raiders.
Li Wang had sailed South from the warring kingdoms of Chinamen, on long-forgotten orders from a Mandarin master, and Nkuwu had saved him from drowning in the treacherous waters of the Strait of Johor.
Abdullah's lighter skin and mustache were an unusual sight in Kongo, and no one would have mistaken him for a local; but it was the others' pink and yellow skins, their yellow beard and slanted eyes which drew impolite stares.

Abdullah was lean and long of limbs, always alert and graceful, like a leopard.
Sim was enormous and brutal, and wore his yellow hair in a great shaggy mane, like a lion.
Li Wang was pudgy and skittish, with spindly arms and legs, like a forest hog.

Together the three men were a formidable team.

Within the kingdom Abdullah invited strangers and drifters who settled the first true Kongolese city, Soyo , by the Congo River Mouth. In a generation, it grew from a cluster of wooden huts to a brick-and-stone metropolis where came traders from as far as Europe, bringing weapons of steel and more strange new ideas.
Sim used the steel weapons bought there to arm the first three hundred of the Leopard Guard. In his soldiers, many of them orphans, he found the sons he never had, and raised them into a fighting force without peer in the Congo Basin.
Li Wang used the ideas. Every law Nkuwu or his son promulgated, he had written, with a keen eye for the subtleties of the Congolese language, which he had soon mastered. Every new witch-priest in the country, before being allowed to preach, had to spend a whole year in his entourage, being taught, and judged. They marveled at his keen mind and vast erudition, and no few of them begged being allowed to stay longer, the better to understand philosophical tradition. The most traditionalist, who objected to any lesson from a foreigner, tended to disappear on their journey home. The jungle is a dangerous place.


The Great City of Soyo, as large as any metropolis in Europe. And a little East, the traditional capital of Mpemba, much smaller.

Abdullah took no wife and no concubine. With the wealth he acquired in service of king Nkuwu he sent many agents North looking for a girl that had once live in a now-abandoned adobe village by the Niger bend, but none of them could pick her trail for long.
Sim surrounded himself with a scandalous number of Congolese women, seldom taking only one to his bed. But something was wrong with his seed, and he never fathered the children he would have wanted; this would not stop many a clear-skinned chief in North Kongo, centuries later, to claim a drop of the White Lion's blood. His huge bitch was luckier: from her progeny with local suitors comes the Congoid Mastiff, that fearsome lion-fighting breed.
Li Wang had been mutilated in his youth, as is common with scholars in the East, and felt no appetite for man or woman. Night found him sleeping, or pouring over pages.

Outside the kingdom Abdullah took a fleet North to protect trade and enforce tariffs in the Gulf of Guinea.
Sim took the armies West, along the Kasai river, burning and conquering everything, leading from the front with an iron hand. His veterans were richly rewarded with land and formed the backbone of the building feudal class.
Li Wang walked South to negotiate alliance with the southernmost chiefdoms.


The Congolese Fleet taking its fair share of business. Small so far, but mark my words, it will grow.

Kongo in 1444 (red) and 1460 (pink). In green, allied chiefdoms.


Abdullah, the Northman, was lost at sea during a particularly bad gale.
Sim disappeared after leading his Leopard Guard in a charge that broke the Kasanje army at Mayumba, on the banks of the Kwilu. His body was never recovered.
Decades later, long after Nzinga's coming of age, Li Wang, by then an old man with white hair and regrets, asked the new king for permission to leave on one of those vessels that now occasionally rounded the Cape, to try and see his land of birth one last time. He was never seen again.


The battle of Mayumba in 1459

Legend says they still roam the world, as they did when alive, looking for their lost friend Nkuwu; and when they find him, they will come back to Kongo and rule it together, for eternity.


--00--

So I developped to get feudalism and it was very expensive and I conquered some small neighbours. I'm still a very small nation. And now the next big thing is Renaissance. For my AAR reward I would like Monarch Points.

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Kuipy
Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2017 5:38:32 PM
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II – The Curse

the wilds of Western Zambia, 1468-1483

It is a rule, both confused and certain: one does not prey on man. Man is weak, slow, and big enough to feed a leopard for days; but eating of it is a curse, sure to bring unforeseeable calamities. And so leopard does not prey on man, or even on his herd, except in the throes of desperate hunger. It stays away from man's palisaded village, from man's forage grounds, from man's ever-burning nests. And man, too, stays away from the leopard's hunting grounds, as if it understood it is no proper prey.

This is why there are still men.

But the rule, certain as it is, does not apply to strange men with the same strength. She learns it ten years before, while not quite a cub, not quite a lonely hunter herself, by Mother's side. Something incomprehensible happens well beyond the savannah, and herds of men had pour into it, out of the sunset; herds of mostly male men, with pointy sticks, many of them wounded, all of them hungry and afraid. They are fleeing some lost fight, the Tanganikya wars, into lands mostly unknown to them. The local men hate and harass them. They cannot find rest, or food, or water. Every night some of them fall to never-ending sleep and become food. Every day some cannot keep up, they fall behind and die and become food.

She and mother starts stalking one of the dwindling herds. They start eating the dead left behind, and then the wounded who are not dead yet, and then the stragglers who are not wounded yet. They taste easy. Nothing bad happens; maybe the curse did not apply to these men, or maybe it does not even exist. Once they find a whole expanse littered with dead men, and eat mere leaps away from a pack of lions, growling awkwardly over the scattered feast, so large there is no need for a fight.


1863 : I beat up everyone around me and the beaten armies flee in the uncolonized hinterland where they suffer grave losses.

It stops. Time passes. Seasons pass. Mother is a lost thing, a fleeting scent that just about lingers. She mates with the grey-eared male. He's stronger than her, a daring killer of beats. He takes what he wants, and that includes her. Together they take on zebras, giraffes, even buffalos. Life comes from her loins, other, all-important leopards. Their life is her own. They eat well, they sleep safe, under their mother's ruthless care. Then they grow, and drift away. Their lives are no longer her own. Some die. But there is a new litter every year. The grey-eared male thrusts life into her, bites her neck with tender ferocity. A buffalo gores him, spreads his whole guts out. She stays by his side until he's cold. Then he's a lost thing too. A wistful scent on winds that do not exist.


Fond memories

Other males cannot compare, they're not as strong, not as dear. She barely tolerates their couplings, chases them away from her cubs with bared fangs. There is always one more litter, but they do not fare as well. Sometimes they go hungry, and often she does too. She's shorter of breath, slower than she should be. Weaker. Her legs hurt. She remembers how easy man tastes, and starts lurking closer to their dens. It would not take much for her to be strong again, not much to feed her many lives. Just one man. Just on one child.

Something incomprehensible happens again well beyond the savannah, and new herds of men pour into it, but very different ones. There are females with them this time, and even a few children, and all are strong, healthy. Strong males walk all around the walking herd, some of them even perched on weird brown zebras. There are cattle among the herds, inexplicable things on their backs. And these new men smell different from the normal ones, sweet, earthy, tube- and cereal-fed.

The new herds seem terrible, and she avoids them at first. She ranges farther and farther, seeks buried rats and carrion, but there is never enough, and the hunger gets worst. She dies. Only once, but it's excruciating. One of her other lives, the little ones beneath the thorny bush, ends. One of her all-important cubs is only an inert thing of fur of bones, and the others look weak. By now the hunger gnaws at her incessantly. She knows that, weak as she is, she can no longer run down a gazelle, no longer outpower a hog.

She needs a prey, soon. An easy one.


1483 : my first colony put me closer to the wealth of the Zimbabwean kingdoms

After days of observation the herds of strange men do not seem so frightening, especially once they splinter. A group settles in one place, with only one or two strong man to watch them, and break the ground. The men are afraid of everything in this place, but somehow cub-blind, incapable of seeing her in the grass. They're all fear and no caution.

Once, as she stalks a group settled by a brook, she sees are child, a female one, run away from a group, with a strange, rhythmic cackle. It's all she needs. She pounces. The child has not even the time to be afraid. She tumbles her to the ground, clasps her hand between famished jaws. The fangs break the skull and the body underneath stops moving. She's food now. An easy taste, blood in her mouth, the life they need.

One of the men runs at her, while the other shouts. She's too weak for a hog, but men are slow, clumsy, weak. She tumbles him down, tears him with claw and fang. The others watch, shouting. She could kill them all! For a while she feels as strong as the grey-eared male. Then she grabs the child and drags her away.

And so, that year she lives, and the remainder of her children too.

But not her grandchildren. The curse was real.

--00--
So I united the Kongo basin all the way East to Lake Tanganyika
Started collecting trade in the Gulf of Guinea.
And predictably, started on the explorations idea.
But where to send my new settlers? there was roughly four options, by orders of desirability :
  • Southwest, there are two empty terrible provinces before the Kalahari desert. Heh, whatever.
  • Northeast, toward the yummy OPM around lake Victoria. They do sound yummy, but the thing is, no one will be beat me to them anyway, so there's no sense of urgency.
  • Northwest, I can start worming my way toward West Africa. This is very desirable real estate and I should get to it soon, but I'm not ready to face super-Mali and there's a more urgent priority:
  • Southeast toward the gold pinatas of Mutapa and such. Whta tipped the balance is that these kingdoms are starting to blob real fast and it seems that if I do not hurry, I may face a super-Kilwa by the time I get there. Who needs the hassle, am I right.

    So I started one tiny colony in Zambia.





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  • Kuipy
    Posted: Sunday, October 01, 2017 4:24:17 PM
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    III – Lion's Den, Lion's End

    Hemba, on Lake Tanganyika shore, 1502-1511

    Over centuries there would be conflicting explanations for why the royal palace in Hemba was called the Lion's Den. Some would say it just referred to the splendor and glory of the Congolese Kings, some to the dangers of their cutthroat court, some that the Lion's Den proper was only a pavilion that Menneke Selim, the Lion of Nubia, used as his headquarters during the 1600s.

    The Truth is it had once been a literal lion's den. For centuries succession of old lions had dwelled in a small crag by the point where the Lukuga River flows out of Lake Tanganyika, down into the Congo Basin. It was a good secluded spot, in grasslands too scarce to feed a whole pride. A group of young lions generally remains on the move, going where the hunting is good. But the lazy codgers prefer to spend their last years settled in a single spot, especially if it is a good one. Thus the small crag was littered by blanched bones of lions and many others; the few locals gave the place a wide berth, before and after accepting the authority of the Congolese Kings far downstream. In 1502, a few invading Kilwan soldiers did not heed their warning, and became more bones on the den floor.



    Then in 1506 twenty warriors came and killed the lion in his den. They would have preferred to make a game of it, corner him and attack one at a time, glory to the one managing a killing blow. But they had to hurry, so they just riddled him with arrows. Less than an hour later workmen were sweeping the area clear of bones, and other digging up foundations for a wall shouldering the crag.

    Before a decade had passed, Hemba was larger than every city on the Indian Ocean coast, and the capital of Kongo. Settlers and merchants poured in from the Congolese lowlands and the rest of Central Africa, drawn by the booming iron mines. It sprawled along the lake shoreline like a menacing shadow. And when the Lundu ambassador visited it in 1511, he felt a chill run down his spine.



    He walked escorted down cobbled streets, between three-story buildings, where in living memory there had been nothing but grass and shrub. He spied Spaniards and Irishmen sweltering in the immense open-sky market the planted sycamores were too small yet to properly shade. A demonstration of power from Kongo.

    In the Lion's Den King Arturo was brief.
    "Lundu will cede me the province of Nsenga, please."
    "We fought a war over it, six years ago. I do not recall your armies faring well on the field of battle. But out of mercy, we granted you a white peace. Do not make us regret it."
    "The answer I want is a yes or a no, ambassador."
    The ambassador was a seasoned warrior himself, and lost his temper.
    "We should have finished you when we had the chance. Like a wounded lion! Have you no respect for the treaties we signed, and its amendments?"
    " The first amendment prevents the US government from writing laws banning political speech or the adoption of a state religion; it does not prevent people from asking you to give us the provinces you own. My next step will be to have your whole people slaughtered, I asked you nicely, and politely, could you please give us Nsenga; please don't make me take that next step. If I want to be a dickhead and a bully that's my right. The right of the strongest."
    "Then don't be surprised when we come to destroy everything you hold dear."
    The king smiled. "I won't. I promise."



    --00--

    So, three things happened:


  • having reached them with my colonies, I went to war with (AI) Lundu and its ally (AI) Kilwa, somewhat hurriedly, without noticing Kilwa had 4(!) military tech levels on me because of how UP Kongo is. It was a bloodbath at first. They almost wiped my stacks and pushed me way back into Kongo but by careful maneuvering, I managed to catch their armies in mountain provinces (they were always trying to siege my buddy Mutapa's capital, conveniently a fort up in mountains) and bleed them. With everybody's manpower to the floor, they gave me a white peace I accepted.



    Turned out I just had to "ask politely" afterwards.

  • I moved my capital inland and developed it. This way it's less exposed, and I seeded global trade.

  • at one point Kongo looked like the cutest little pink elephant:






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