Monday, November 10, 2008

In which your host remembers his manners

One should long since have acknolwedged the source of the templates used to render El Ejercito Magnifico in these pages.

And so, rectifying a grievous oversight, please note that the templates (those depicted and those yet to be used) are the work of David at Not By Appointment. David's crack crew of military tailors have, one believes, outfitted many of the Imagi-Nations of the Emperor vs. Elector world. We are in his debt.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Around la Union Real

Word from Nuevo Narvik is that Casa Yayubetja has been occupied dealing with a financial crisis, allegedly precipitated by debasement of the coin. There has, as yet, been no official proclamation from either Crown or Exchequer, but unofficial word is that the High King's government disavows responsibility, fixing blame on large-scale counterfeiting from a source yet to be identified.

The coin of La Union Real is known as the silver real, or colloquially the silver cod, though he who calls it a cod-piece in earshot of a Scandalusian patriot may find himself invited to grass before breakfast. At any rate, it appears that a sizable number of coins have been found to be more than half zinc or tin, rather than silver.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

El Ejercito Magnifico, Regimental Guide (3)

Being a brief overview of the regiments in the service of La Union Real, that shall be portrayed here from time to time (in a haphazard manner most befitting La Union Real)
Regimiento linea no 3 (Salsa-Verde)

The Salsa-Verde is best known for an incident in the War of the Failed Succession in 1703. During the campaign of 1703 the regiment, being rather down the roll in terms of seniority (or proprietor's influence at court), was ordered to cover a newly established magazine and the army's line of communications. The regiment successfully stood off raids by invading hussars and borderers for almost two weeks, until supported by the timely arrival two squadrons of dragoons. Officers in the regiment, instead of the pompom depicted here, wear a dried bundle of green chiles in their hats to commemorate the incident. Shown are musketeer and grenadier uniforms and the Regimentsfahne.

Friday, September 19, 2008

El Ejercito Magnifico: Regimental Guide (2)

Today's entry is Regimiento linea no 2, La Lutefisque. This is one of the oldest regiments of the Amarillo. Founded by a minor don, Esteban de la Pesca, prior to the coming of the Yayubetja to Scandalusia, such a regiment would normally be found among the Blanco. However, de la Pesca was among the first to cast his lot with the Yayubetja, and this (coupled with the bulldog courage of the regiment) accorded it a place among the Amarillo.

Although La Lutefisque no longer enjoys the reputation it earned in the Guerra del Union, it still is regarded as a solid regiment, particularly on the defense.

Depicted here are the line infantry and grenadier uniforms, along with the Leibfahne and Regimentsfahne.

Friday, September 12, 2008

El Ejercito Magnifico: Regimental Guide

Being a brief overview of the regiments in the service of La Union Real, that shall be portrayed here from time to time (in a haphazard manner most befitting La Union Real)

Regimiento linea no 1 (de la Pierna-Roja)

Regimiento de la Pierna-Roja is representative of the line infantry of the Amarillo. First raised in 1659, the regiment has served competently in most of Scandalusia's wars and was distinguished for its stand with the Guards regiments, with which it was brigaded in the Scandalusian Expeditionary Corps, in the First Crimenea campaign of 1722. The current colonel-proprietor of the regiment is Alejandro de la Pierna-Roja, who dressed the regiment in the traditional red trousers associated with his family.

The regiment is typically brigaded with the Guardia Real and deploys in the first line, just to the left of the famous Guards. Shown above, along with typical musketeer and grenadier uniforms, is the regimental color.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Mahmoud al-Muriq, Khalifa of the Mooerish Dominions, re-read the astonishing parchment, delivered by courier earlier in the day.

"Truly, ibn Fuad, it is a wonder this letter did not simply burst into flames when the noble Emir finished composing it," he said, not entirely sure whether to be dismayed or amused. In fact, he was holding the parchment by the merest corner, with the tip of his right thumb and forefinger, as though it might yet burst into flames.

"His Magnificence," replied his vizier, Ali ibn Fuad, "was ever passionate and impetuous, as befits a true mujahid of the Almighty." Neither his face nor his voice bore any trace of irony, the Khalifa observed. An excellent performance -- if I could afford to give him a raise, I would, he thought. Surely he has earned it, time and again.

al-Muriq smiled at his vizier with something of genuine affection in it, as much as a man in his position -- and who knew all too well the position he was in -- could afford. "Truly that is so, ibn Fuad, but accurate as it is that does not answer the immediate question. The arm of the Emir is not infinite, but it is long. If the contents of this communication become widely known, there could be trouble for us among the firebrands of the streets.

"I too wish to throw off the yoke of those infidel Yayubetja bumpkins, but not to merely bring down the accursed Gallians upon all our heads. Help me see the road, ibn Fuad, my trusted old comrade. We must once again steer between the Scylla of the Driss Dey and the Charybdis of the Mooerish street, until our strength is restored by the will of the Almighty."

The vizier nodded. "My Khalifa, perhaps it will not be as difficult as you apprehend. You are, of course, informed that a squadron of ships from the House of Austria -- may the Almighty send them scorpions -- has slipped past the Britannian blockade and made its way into the Middle Sea. One hears that the squadron seeks to rid the local seas of...pirates."

The Khalifa took his point at once. "You think the noble Emir might be occupied looking to his navy and coastlands, eh, ibn Fuad?" The vizier nodded.

"As for the latter, the Crown Prince" (here ibn Fuad allowed himself an ironic little smile) "has again requested that two regiments of Arnaut light infantry accompany the Corps of Observation in the next fall maneuvers."

"The Crown Prince? That maniac, again? I tell you, ibn Fuad, the thought of that scourge on the throne of the infidels has cost me more than one night's sleep. May the Almighty uphold Joern Carlos, infidel though he is, and keep that lunatic son of his at bay until he finally finds a way to get himself sent to perdition!"

The Khalifa paused, and a crafty smile spread over his face. "You know, ibn Fuad, there may be an opportunity here after all. Perhaps I will give the Crown Prince what he wants. I can have it spread through the street that the Arnauts go forth to cow the kufr with their martial prowess, to learn the infidel way of war, and to hone their skills against the day when the Almighty shall humble the Yayubetja and their hangers-on, and place their necks beneath our shoes."

The Khalifa smiled and summoned a servant to bring tea. "Thank you, ibn Fuad. Please make the necessary arrangements with the army, and then send for my secretary. I shall begin drafting a letter to the Crown Prince at once."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Did Someone Order a Case of Plot Thickener?

A damp night, a grimy dark alley, a town on a river in Europa, somewhere between Scandalusia and San Bruno.

In the shadows, fog-muted blades clash; shoes scrape on the greasy cobbles.

A quick beat-disengage-thrust found a home under the right armpit of the last of the bravoes facing el Grapadura Rojo. Schwinglein kicked the dying man off his smallsword and turned to see Havelocke, breathing heavily and wiping his sword, his opponent sprawled dying on the cobbles.

"If senhor would be so kind as to watch the entrance to this alley--this is no work for noble blood," Schwinglein said to the Henrovian in an almost apologetic tone. Havelocke nodded and turned away as Schwinglein drew his long poniard and went to work among the half-dozen dead and wounded.

When he finished, there were only cooling corpses on the ground, and a sealed letter in his hand. Peering at the seal in the dim light, Schwinglein suddenly inclined his head as if startled. "Senhor--we should go quickly," he said to Havelocke. "Don Rafael-Vidkun should see this."

"You are quite right, I think," said Havelocke. "We'll go at once."

"Sangre de Cristo, what has befallen the two of you?" exclaimed de Cerveza when the disheveled and bloodstained pair entered the sitting-room of their suite at the inn.

"Banditti, m'lord, or so we first thought," said Major Havelocke to de Cerveza. "However, your man Schwinglein here had occasion to find a letter upon one of the villains. He thought, and I agreed, that you ought to see it at once, else I'd have cleaned up a bit before intruding upon your repose."

"Well, what is it, man?" de Cerveza demanded of Schwinglein, who stepped forward and extended the sealed letter without a word.

Don Rafael Vidkun examined the seal, and visibly paled. "This...this is the Khalifa's seal! What would banditti be doing with a letter from the Mooerish Dominions?"

"You could forward it to Don Diego Halfdane, senhor," Schwinglein said. "I could convey it safe into his hands."

de Cerveza considered this, then frowned. "No! I thank you, Schwinglein, but no! Don Diego Halfdane did not secure this appointment to San Bruno that I might serve as merely an expensive errand boy! No, this calls for quick action!"

Don Rafael-Vidkun seized a letter opener and slit the crescent seal. Opening the letter, he scanned the contents. His face fell. "It is not in a language I can read," he said at length.

"I suppose it will have to go to Don Diego Halfdane after all. Schwinglein, I accept your offer. I know he holds your abilities -- and your discretion -- in high regard. I must do likewise. Rest an hour, and prepare yourself for a journey back to Scandalusia. I shall compose a note for Don Diego Halfdane to accompany the letter you found. Return and take it with you when you depart." Schwinglein nodded, bowed, and left the sitting room.

"Major Havelocke -- I should thank you as well. Will you return with Schwinglein, or continue to San Bruno with me?"

"With your permission, m'lord, I should like to accompany your embassy. I hear San Bruno is lovely this time of year."

"I suppose," Don Rafael-Vidkun mused, "that it was a stroke of fortune that Schwinglein found this letter. Whatever the Khalifa's purpose was in sending a letter in the language of the East, perhaps we have thwarted it."

Havelocke's reply was to look uncomfortable. Seeing his expression, de Cerveza said, "What is it, man? Speak your mind -- out with it!"

"Begging m'lord's pardon," the erstwhile Henrovian cuirassier said, "if there were indeed a purpose behind the Khalifa's letter that bodes ill for your Union Real, then I highly doubt that it was the only copy -- nor the villain we dispatched the only courier."

"Mierde!" said de Cerveza. "I feared as much...and rather hoped you would have a more innocuous explanation I had overlooked."

"Well, m'lord, it could be a mere greeting to a relative in 'the old country,' as it were."

Don Rafael-Vidkun brightened a little. "Do you think so, Senor Havelocke?"

"No, m'lord, not really."

Don Rafael-Vidkun gloomed, then shrugged. "No, my friend...I do not think so either."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Tale of the "Three Armies"

(being an extract from the Encyclopaedia Europa concerning the Union Real de Scandalusia y Cuatrofenia)

Although not as large as Gallia or some of the other great powers of Europa, the Union Real is a relatively large country, and as such the casual observer might be forgiven for wondering why Scandalusia is not ranked as a leading Power. The answer lies in the highly fractious and fragile nature of the relationship between the ruling House, Casa de Yayubetja, and the dons of the older native houses of the northern provinces, particularly Cuatrofenia, whose leading family had dynastic ambitions of its own before the arrival of the Yayubetja.

This tenuous balance is reflected in El Ejercito Magnifico de la Union Real. "Native" (n0n-mercenary) line regiments of the Grand Army wear either white, yellow, or red coats. The "Amarillo", or yellow, regiments are all the property of the royal house and its closest relations. The "Rojo," or red, regiments are drawn from Cuatrofenian holdings, while the "Blanco," or white, regiments come from the holdings of the other dons greater and lesser, largely in the east of the country in the Plain of the Plain Thanes and the hills near the Gallian frontier.

Each "color" makes up a wing of the army. The Rojo are typically the right wing, the Blanco the left, and the High Kings are usually able to contrive matters so that the Amarillo make up either the center or the reserve, depending upon the need of the campaign. Campaigns tend to emphasize maneuver over battle since neither the eastern dons, the Cuatrofenians, nor the Casa Real wish to see their regiments suffer significant battle losses for fear of upsetting the internal balance of power in La Union Real. At the same time, the divided commissary and quartermaster arrangements make campaigning a ponderous, inefficient, and expensive affair.

The best and worst regiments in the army tend to be found among the Amarillo, while the Rojo and Blanco tend to be of more consistent (if decidedly average) quality. There are also a handful of foreign mercenary regiments, the best known of which are the "Rot" and "Gruen" regiments of Masch-und-Munsch Hussars, or the Red & Green M&Ms. Typically, foreign regiments in Scandalusian service are brigaded with the Amarillo.