Cartoon Horse Pogrom

Author: johnsmith
Published: 2019-03-19, edited: 2019-03-25
In the politically tumultuous but resource-rich Kingdom of Wingbardy, follow one brave Griffon and his friends as he fights against corruption and evil to spread the magic of togetherness.
This AAR is set in the Kingdom of Wingbardy, from the Hearts of Iron 4 mod "Equestria at War". It is written from the perspective of one young upstart who wants to share his friendship with the nearby nations, but has to overcome systemic problems to do so. Follow him as if you were his closest friend as he shares his deepest thoughts and most affective experiences.
The Kingdom of Wingbardy is my homeland. The gently rolling hills, the old Imperial architecture, the thick forests and dense jungles, all evoke strong emotions in me from my time growing up. The Barrad Pigeons filled the forests with music, as the deer went at whatever pace they desired to their jobs in town. It was peaceful, generally. Wingbardy was, for the most part, free of significant banditry up to the end of the crises it faced, and many outsiders remarked at how safe the streets continued to be even up to the political upheavals.
Me and my parents lived out in a small village in the center, away from the cosmopolitan south. It was unincorporated, near the northern forests. I was born too late to see Wingbardy be as part of the Empire, but it was really no big loss. Even as the political situation in the nation became worse and worse, a level of decency was still maintained in the fields.
I won't go too much into the local history, but suffice it to say that the increasingly failing government made me real annoyed, not least because it was beginning to affect my home. After the Falcor War, in which I served (and made sure not to repeat), I was really starting to see the cracks forming. I ran for local office, but found that a low-level mayor couldn't do a whole lot. I did meet some interesting characters, though, and some powerful ones too. Once I became a journalist to learn the political game properly, I was still invited to some upper-scale parties due to attendants generally liking me. The fact that I usually chose to emphasize the good parts in the stories I wrote about them helped. Plenty of journalists didn't even need an excuse to pillory them in the papers, one who was sometimes downright sympathetic was a welcome addition.
Now, King Garibald Talonuel III: A man of integrity, honor, strength both of character and body, and a shockingly bad leader for someone so beloved. In his reign, he made two good decisions. The first was keeping the military modern and funded. The second was not doing more than he did.
One figure who I really got along with was the good King's cook, Stiletto Faggotti. Him and I both understood that good food was vital to good leadership. One day, the King had run into an issue which Faggotti thought I could solve. I told my friends in my little political group where I was going and what I was doing, and they said they would like to come along, and then they told their friends, and eventually there were nearly a thousand of us going to Karthin to voice our solutions and problems. While I was there, I saw the Clawisseum, since we had most of a day to wait before we could see the King.
An example of the King's failings was the officers for the armed forces. There were four Griffons who were trained and prepared to be field marshals. Two were extremely set in their ways and really just political go-getters, and one was the Prince, Gumberto. King Talonuel III took the remainder, a Griffon named Griffolf Graziani who was the best out of all of them and still had plenty of promise left. There were also a lot of crappy generals, but there were some good ones who were chosen. The Navy had barely enough fleet commanders ready to handle the East and West fleets, because apparently they managed to under-develop an officer corps for the first time in history that I know of. Normally those things tend to spiral out of control until they engulf the actual armed forces. That was King Talonuel III's style: make the best out of a bad situation, but never fix the situation.
In retrospect, I probably should've chosen Prince Gumberto to lead the army. Maybe then he wouldn't have been such a knothead once he took the throne!
In person, King Talonuel III was an imposing figure of impressive size and power. He frequently wore military dress uniforms, which pushed it even further. However, a snappy uniform cannot fix unemployment or political buffoonery going on in the parliament, or a famine.
The vagabonds taking all of our ability to cause change in the world as a side dish to their bribes could not be run over with a tank like a common brigand. Well, they could, but the L3-05 prototype's glorious engine was drowned out by the caterwauling of Tone Calzone once he caught wind of the arrangement. More on him later.
There were three things which kept the nation together long enough for us to pull through the crisis: the first was our resources, of which we had ample supply of a good variety. The second was our neighbors, Talouse, Franmistra, and probably Arantiga also. Our Karthinian Pact meant that no single nation could take us on, and the factions nearby were otherwise occupied. Aquileia was imploding, and had that to worry about instead of us. Same with the Griffonian Empire, but that was also a fair distance away on top of it. The United Ponies Alliance was, as the name suggests, ponies, and were also under the thumb of Queen Celestia, who hated war but loved every other method of geopolitics.
The third thing keeping us together was the King himself. He gets a lot of blame for the problems of the era, and much of it is placed accurately, but, his incredible gravitas kept the nation together through the crises we were facing.
In case you aren't up on your geopolitics, that big green thing is the second worst thing to happen to the world. It doesn't matter which one. The smaller, bright red thing is the second worst, and again, it doesn't matter which one.
The green things are Equestria and the River Federation states. The former is such a diplomatic powerhouse that all democratic movements consider it their patron saint, and alliance with it is practically an ideology in and of itself. Those are the Harmonic parties. The latter is a reminder of horse colonialism, which wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't over here. They unfortunately were not cut down early, and have now conglomerated into another big horse problem.
The red things are the spread of communism, the cancer on top of Harmony's cancer. The Kingdom of Brodfeld can be seen learning the hard way what they want to accomplish.
A few years back at this time, the Changeling lands infiltrated and invaded Canterlot itself. No small feat, considering the sheer magical power housed in the capital of Equestria. The wider royal family is each as magically powerful as some cities, while the duarchs are both thousands of years old and both more powerful than the entire royal family. The intermediate is a death squad of six teenagers (!) who, by their powers combined, can flatten mountains with ease, and are fiercely loyal to the duarchs. The plan was incredibly executed, except for prisoner protocol, which resulted in one kidnapped and replaced member of the royal family escaping and spilling the plot early. Then, the Changelings accidentally put the princess of love next to the only pony with the spell of "end invasion" in Canterlot, who was her husband. It did not end well, but up until that point it was an operation well worth studying.
You might wonder how two Queens are thousands of years old. Surely they can't have been in power that whole time, right? Yes, they have. The only major difference in Equestria itself in the past millennium is that it turned into a monarchy after one duarch tried to usurp the other, and then the exile period ended and it became a duarchy again, with the exact same two Queens.
Griffonian knights are one of the many reasons why Griffons tend to beat ponies in full-on warfare. These nobles bring their own armor and weapons, all enchanted, and are better-trained and equipped in every way than the normal soldiers. In my army, we kept them in tight packets to brutalize the enemy divisions into submission in a large area so that our motorized could move through.
Once, my top science advisor, Giorno Lasaga, saw a foreign TV show called "My Small Dude". To try and make our knights able to move faster, we started a research project to test the viability of ponies as cheap cars, like in the show. Unfortunately, the humans in the show are far lighter than Griffons. We were able to determine that ponies can really only carry younger ponies and still move a decent speed, while Griffons are even heavier than adult ponies. Also, ponies who's back was recently injured due to overencumberance frequently cannot manage even that. Knight Steadlio found the experience quite entertaining, though we aren't sure whether he felt some sort of national pride sitting on the test subjects or if he just liked the excuse to wear his full armor suit.
The "March on Karthin" really was not as big a deal as it was made out to be afterwards. As it was, we really just showed up outside the palace for a few hours until I was done meeting with the King. Once the news got a hold of it, though, it became an invasion by a small army of veterans in paramilitary clothes which the King did nothing to stop. Yes, our group was mostly veterans, and yes, we were in the party's ersatz-army uniform, but nobody had brought any weapons or more than a day's food. What were we supposed to do if they said no? Get into melee with the soldiers and their guns?
The meeting with the King was fateful. Both him and I had been on the front lines of the Falcor War, but in different positions. His public relations teams were experts in covering up how heavily his failures as statesGriffon weighed upon him, but with a fellow soldier in private, he let his guard down. He was obviously exhausted beyond one day's work, and struggled to make basic decisions knowing that it would likely be another failure for future generations to beat him with, but what could he do? The Prince was even more unfit to lead. And who would replace him if not the Prince?
The problem I had been summoned to help with was apparently that some shipments of food from the countryside had been going missing. This was not exactly new, but it was exacerbating the ongoing famine in the city. Him and his advisors created a picture of the chain of command that had to do with that. A bit of talking to the palace staff rounded out the story.
The minister of food production, a rare Feathered Weasel that grew to the size of a Griffon and decided to enter politics, was allowing some lower organizers to reroute food trucks off the books and onto the plates of family, friends, and black market buyers, in exchange for some significant compensation back to him. He thought that the King was too busy to find out and too friendly to do something about it, and he was right. I was not.
When the good minister found himself with a gun on his desk and violent far-right ultra-nationalist warmonger me holding it, and an ultimatum to fix the problem in seven days or the gun would be loaded when I walked in pulling the trigger at him, the message was received. Food trucks stopped disappearing almost completely within three days.
Most of the Blackwings left town after that, as it was expensive to stay there. A few stuck around and compiled a list of complaints and suggestions five hundred pages long. I was held there by more requests to fix the kingdom's problems by the King, since it had worked so well the first time.
When the water wells were under maintained in Pluma, causing a disease risk, funds were rerouted, and the work done by Blackwings. The head of water was too busy coping with a fortuitous broken wing to do it wrong with his corrupt construction workers, you see. When the police chief was revealed to be a Blackrock plant, a few Blackwings were called back to throw his "civil servants" in jail and do some real peacekeeping. When parliament proved uncooperative to a necessary military funding bill, throwing a mine infamous for its malfunctioning safety into the chamber got the votes moving.
Yes, I was leading by fear. The ranks of the government were often unsalvageable and would not have been moved by anything else, such was their security in their position legally.
After a few days of greasing the political wheels, the King called me into his office. Starting to tire of roughing up politicians, I wondered what new issue he had brought me to resolve. The unemployment? The mass strike in Falcor? The last two weeks had seen him perk up some, but he was still very moody and tired from the ordeals. Turns out, no issue was at hand. He said that I was practically Prime Minister, and that he wanted to give me the full authority, since I was clearly better at it than him. I thought for a second, and accepted. After all, now I could do some real good.
I went to one of the Blackwings in town, my second in command Baroni Spicarillo Jabroni, and said that we would be staying a while longer. Then, I led him into the nearest restrooms, and my stomach ran past my tongue to tell him the good news and fell into the sink. He was concerned at first, thinking that I had fallen ill, until I was able to muster myself telling him that I was now Prime Minister. I could hardly stand, and I could hardly breathe at a reasonable pace as Spicarillo realized what I had just said, and that it was true. Outside, the announcement was being made that I was now the other major power in the government.
Describing me as "the other major power in the government" is a bit false. While the King still had much power, theoretically, he never wielded it. Eventually, the royal family was all but phased out in favor of me, but I kept them close. King Talonuel III was far more experienced and wise beyond his years, and made for an indispensable advisor. Prince Gumberto protested at the loss of power, but soon realized that he was free to be as much of an onerous twat as possible without the time or stress burden that had permanently scarred his father.
Once in government, me and my cabinet took a few days to survey our options. An alliance with Equestria was considered, but thrown out. I wouldn't have it, and neither would most of my Blackwings. It was almost comedic how non-considered an alliance with the communists was.
During one of these meetings, Tone recommended a certain way of preparing pasta which he explained to Faggotti. It took far longer than it should've, and when we went to check on the kitchen, Faggotti was struggling to break the bundle of dry spaghetti in half. We hastily drew a simplified version of it, and named it after it's inspiration, Tone Calzone, who really was a massive faggot. Our symbol was then the Faggot you've seen on our flags. We also finally named it the Fascist party officially. It was named after the Talousian philosopher Arrivaderci El Fascism, who had a major influence on our ideas.
Once a plan had been developed, step one was to get rid of communism. First, we got rid of strikes. Communists were fond of using those whenever the workers were being oppressed, a criminal was put in prison, or a foreign nation's leader said that communism wasn't good. They'd already imploded the economy with sufficiently huge strikes twice before, for not getting a referendum and Aquilea executing a communist traitor respectively. The Griffons of Wingbardy saw it as communists making the famine worse because their stupid demand was rejected, which is why they weren't popular even before I took over. Then we banned the party and deported all the ponies we could reasonably tie to them.
Our political power continued to go lower, as we hadn't had a lot of time yet to fix the problems, but my threats were starting to get through, and the tide was being reversed. While my violent rhetoric was also making it easier to convince the Griffons of the nation about who their enemies were, it did mean that our neighbors often did not like us.
On a side note, to this day, the giant painting of me in the Royal Palace is extremely disconcerting. Apparently, it is just me.
Longsword was an experiment in nation form. Specifically, how much can you neglect a nation before it explodes? The Reformisten were potential allies, so it was sad to see them screw up so badly. That said, the communists had an embarrassing amount of units for a pony faction who had been under a pony ethnic cleansing for the past few however-long-it-was. I guess the Longswordians forgot to properly staff their labor camps in their rush to build them.
The problem with the Reformisten was that they were Imperial Fascists, as opposed to Wingbardian Fascists like us, so it wasn't a significant loss. Basically, they believe that fascism is when someone is racist, and the more racist people are, the more fascister, and thus the more betterer. They were really like the communists, except the communists thought the more fascister, the more worser. We had to expel those kinds of fascists from our ranks repeatedly for being really stupid about their racialism. I hate ponies as much as the next Griffon, but getting rid of them is the means, not the end. Longsword and their three-way civil war was not the worst thing they would try and pull.
While my loyal fellow fascists got to work fixing the red problem, I checked on the navy and observed some of their exercises. Even being mostly floating museums, they were a sight to behold. The RM Gandrea Goria was even more spectacular in action than in the harbor. Unfortunately, the crews had last seen action before the new millennium, so some training was long overdue. After making sure that they were equipped to fight a sea war with at least a little competence, I then forgot they existed except to mine enemy ports. We were more navally endowed than the entire rest of the south. Fighting nations one at a time, and with periods of fighting landlocked nations, meant that the navy was never busy. The enemy fleets all stayed in their ports before our massive cannons.
I don't think we had a single naval battle in the entire decade despite having half a dozen wars.
Starry Night. I sincerely wish that she had never been born. Her "reforms" brought her nation to the brink of destruction yet again, and then finished the job with an embarrassing war on the Order of Hellquill.
Did you know that her office once sent us a letter asking for support in their revolution? We sent them a long letter back apologizing for not being able to send more, alongside a package containing a single hand grenade with the pin already pulled out, and the safety held in place by the package's flap. From the way the inspector waved his stump around for the cameras, you'd think we'd have sent a magical warhead, but no, his left front hoof was the only casualty.
In retrospect, it was an error. If they had not opened our package first, they might have not thought to check Nova Griffonia's crates of poisoned rations, or the cow dead of Bigpox that Lushi sent them.
After dealing with the communists in our nation, that left us with the Parliament, who were increasingly unwilling to do what we told them to. Something about how I was a violent megalomaniac, uneducated, as brutish as I was boorish, and a warmonger. For all their years in higher learning, they had gotten the words "megalomaniac" and "boorish" wrong, as the dictionary told me after the accusations were leveled. I was neither of those things.
According to Baroni Spicarillo, the issue was that I had strong-clawed them with threats of violence and imprisonment, and their peaceful terms did not prepare them for this, so they lashed back with even more political deadlock. Clearly, they were just going to keep getting in the way. So we got rid of them.
I could've sworn that Brodfeld had capitulated to the red menace, but apparently I was wrong, and they had one last charge left in them.
I actually met King De Kisseu. De Kisseu was better adjusted to the crown than King Talonuel III, but not actually better at using it. A jack of all trades, he was not too great or too bad at any one thing. No drug abuse problems, neither too tall nor too short, not weak or ruling from the gymnasium, so on. His real stand-out qualities were his acting. He could get the desired effect from anyone, once he got going, even if it was not noticing him at all. He was also not particularly attached to his wealth as a king. He liked it, but he could drop it whenever he needed to. Part of why his biographers have so much trouble is because during this period, he traveled around like a commoner, and made sure to not be too stand-out.
We had an idea of where he went during this time. We didn't want it confirmed officially, though, and neither did he.
I'm told that, when princess Luna returned to Equestria, and immediately tried to take the throne a second time, the night didn't end until the ordeal was over. Maybe this is true. The world isn't exactly round. Here in Griffonia, the sun came up as normal under the careful watch of Boreal.
Here's that princess of love that was mentioned a while back. Her reward for stopping the invasion was to get an entire nation. The Crystal Empire was keeping their seat warm for the exiled King Sombra's return (literally, since he magically took his empire with him when he was booted off the continent), until he was finally able to come back, and Equestria realized that he was anti-harmony and killed him. His replacement is literally a blood relative to Queen of Equestria.
Apparently he was extremely unpopular with the peasantry, but produced some very cool architecture. The glassy, angular lines going into curves that make up the square's Spire were very interesting, and I saw it during a token diplomatic trip.
The Spire looked far more impressive done up for the imminent Crystal Fair. It was the highlight of the trip. I took my time and relaxed, knowing well that no real settlement would be reached and no alliance formed. The faction was a rotten structure: a single well-placed kick could split it into at least five, and probably more, separatist movements.
Of note was the most productive diplomatic talking, when Scugili, our ambassador, invited one of their advisors to a personal dinner. I was not there, but apparently he professed his like for the show they were producing then, "My Small Dude". He was seconded by Giorno Lasaga, who went into a description of the experiments we had performed with Griffonian Knights. The trip, despite being low on structure, suddenly got an imminent end date. I was not told why, and didn't think to ask.
I was back in Karthin when the newspaper came across my desk, Tone Calzone tearing his feathers out in rage, with the phrase "AT LEAST THREE PONIES LEFT CRIPPLED AFTER HORRIBLE EXPERIMENTS IN WINGBARDY" screaming across the top.
New Mareland was our unfortunate neighbor. It was unfortunate for both of us. Honestly, it still is. After the trip to Equestria, their mayor, Jet Set, appeared in my office. He demanded that we turn over all files on a list of ponies who had gone missing in our land. I agreed, and said to give us three days to collate it.
The usual cause turned out to be "treasonous communist, shot and left in hole". That would not do for the plan I hatched to take advantage of the situation.
The following night was one I treasure deeply, and was spent with my friends and advisors hashing out dozens of new war crimes. The leader of the Blood Peninsula Workers Party wasn't executed by gunshot, he was executed along with his entire party by an electric floor. The Falcor Bomber wasn't hanged for bombing a train station, he was kidnapped, cooked, and force-fed to his wife (which he didn't have). One young filly had legitimately disappeared. Not anymore: now she had been a victim of our truck-mounted guillotine, along with the communists who came to inhabit her neighborhood. My personal favorite was when we said we threw one communist leader to a hungry fleshgait, a Griffon mythological creature which doesn't exist.
The day after we sent the thousand-page report on the matter, we received a letter from Jet Set to stop screwing around or he'd make this stunt public. Four days later, he sent another letter complaining that now he had to pretend everything was real or the media would tear him apart for fascist sympathies. A year later, the news media of New Mareland was quietly nationalized. Wingbardians never trusted the international news again, and that was fine by me.
It would come in handy real soon that the Wingbardians trusted the nationalized media more than any other. The Falcor Principality was in need of some reminding of who was the boss around here, and this time it would be final. Our new motorized units were sure to make quick work of their outdated infantry, and our tank support would mop up the rest.
A peaceful solution was sought at first, but they said that our demands were too ridiculous for them to accept it. To be fair, they were right.
I legitimately forgot that these two used to be different nations. It was a shock to me back when the war broke out, as well. Nova Griffonia, as a colony, was starting to be a better Grifonian Empire than the one we already had to the north. Conveniently, they were even farther away.
So omnipresent was Equestrian politics that we went to them before our own neighbors. Afterwards, however, we went on tour around Griffonia. The first stop was the Aquiliean Federation. Apparently, when we were party to a fight between the Rilan and Pridean senators, what was significant was that it hadn't spilled out into the lobby before. The fact that is was an actual battle with scratching and kicking was not new anymore.
I had a copy of many of the federation's documents made for myself, and then tried to make our agreements with our friends in the Pact resemble it as little as possible.
Their story is that they had tried to replace the old Empire as soon as it started falling, but didn't hold together for long enough that it fell all the way. They were expecting this alliance to be a lot shorter, and were less happy about the change in plans every day.
We took the opportunity to visit the great houses of Eyrie and Erie. A puzzle of a mystery wrapped in an enigma, those two. They were at war for most of my time in office, despite being frequently at peace. It took years before one side won. Near as I can tell, the main issue was that they were too similar, but neither was willing to become part of the other.
Next was the Griffonian Empire. We did not meet the emperor, naturally, but we did get to see the insufficiently-staffed palace guard looking more glum than stoic. Everyone knew they were on their way out, and they had already lost much of their territory. They tried to put on a happy face in the government, but we could see through it, and the populace definitely could too.
Afterwards, we visited some nations of the River Federation. The security was tightest here, after an attempted military takeover that had all the leaders on edge. Regardless, we made some bigwig small talk, tried to not threaten any race with genocide, even the ones not present, and left peacefully. Nothing was accomplished, but both sides could hold up the meetings as proof that they actually did things, and in the end, wasn't that the real goal?
Already being out and about, we stopped over by the Arcturian Order, since Spicarillo wanted to learn more about them and I wanted reassurance that they could do their job.
We got neither. The reception wasn't as chilly as it was outside, because a more apt comparison would be to the creatures of the Dread League. Incidentally, the situation up there was not under control. The Dread League was basically it's own entity, and the question was "when", not "if", they would march on the Arcturian Order.
On the way back, we received a print of the new Air-Sea map drawn up back in Wingbardy. In an unprecedented show of political tact, the region of competing houses was split in half, and divided into the neighboring provinces of Tarian and Verenia.
I enjoyed that Lake Rumare, despite being huge, wasn't adequately signposted as either a lake or an ocean.
Many of the air regions were a bit too wide, if you ask me, so that fighters frequently ended up in weird places without leaving their home region.
From when the trip started to when it ended, the houses had made peace and gone back to war. As usual, Eyrie was near to Erie's capital, but since both capitals were very near the border, that wasn't much of an accomplishment. The flags were as similar as the states were, and the leader of Erie was a much paler version of the leader of House Eyrie, to show how similar they were.
As you might have noticed, Griffons, ponies, Deer, Zebras, whatever else, and Changelings (in no particular order) are not the same. Many nations rose and fell on how much they invested in learning the ins and outs of their own species. I am told that the Changelings can optimize using their shapeshifting to cause military disruptions, or Deer can turn their limited future sight into something almost prophetic. We, as Griffons, could really pump up our knights in a variety of ways. We could also invest in paratroopers, but the line was often too sparsely-populated for my tastes as-is, sending thousands over the enemy instead of head-on was asking for breakthroughs.
I sent a letter to the Campi Di Taloncana editor's board and one to the College of Griffonian History, asking if it was "duarch" or "diarch". The College responded that it was "Deiarch", so I assumed they misunderstood my question, while the editor's board never responded. It probably had something to do with the fact that both letters were return-addressed to my office.
I chose to keep believing it was "duarch", since mono=monarch, so duo=duarch.
How this travesty of government was allowed to continue, I don't know. The Blackrock Bandits are the most unhelpful, antagonistic people on the continent besides the Dread League. Occasionally we would catch them raiding into our lands.
That comes later, however. Now, what was on my mind was the Aquilean Revolution. As the houses of government for the faction got more chaotic, it became clear that the only way for all the kingdoms to work together was for one to be the most powerful. Naturally, no kingdom wanted to be the lesser, and most wanted to be the leader. Aquilea itself was nowhere near influential enough to win, but then they realized that they could occupy a politically strong but militarily weak neighbor and take their votes and influence for themselves.
Naturally, the nation they wanted to invade, Pridea, did not submit, and all the neighboring nations declared war back for such powermongering.
Meanwhile, we were ending the kingdom's famines for good. Faggotti was an excellent chef with any ingredient, but his potential being constrained by lack of resources was wearing my patience thin.
Sensing a radical shift soon, we sent an ambassador to the Dread League, to get a pulse on what they wanted. Not someone we actually liked, of course, we drafted a single pony author for the job, and didn't make provisions for any military escort. They were to report back on what was going on and why, with the Wingbardian Seal to get them into the big-deal rooms.
Turns out that they would turn on us, sooner or later. They were rearming and producing yet more dead for their armies. The last third showed a turn towards the cordial, but that is when our handwriting experts believed that the author was replaced by one of the necromancers.
The fact that the pony returned as a skeleton hinted that it had not had a great time, although it made my whole cabinet jump when it walked in with a letter taped to it's face. We could no longer get information out of the dead itself on where the remains should go, so we sent it back to the Dread League and hoped that it had no family.
My kingdom in order, I had time to turn to my personal relationships. Faggotti, friend and basically an advisor, was getting married to a nice Griffoness who worked at a nearby store. I never had the opportunity to talk much to Parmesan Gesse-Faggotti, but she seemed a good match for the good chef. We had never met before the wedding, though, and Faggotti was a very private Griffon, so imagine her shock when the Prime Minister, the King, and most of the cabinet came to her wedding!
On the 22nd of February, a new staff member named Marty Bamanaboni ran into my office brandishing a foreign announcement. "There's another war on the continent!", he shouted excitedly. "Who is it?", I asked loudly, shooting up. "It's House Erie and House Eyrie!" he replied.
I motioned him closer to my desk. "This is very grave", I said, with a pause to emphasize the solemnity of the occasion, "that you think I care". The two houses going to war was never brought up again with such excitement.
During a period where none of the work needed my attention, I left some subordinates in charge and took a short trip to see the Imperial City of Griffenheim. The Imperial Architecture I love so much was not well-maintained, but it was built to last through worse. The giant complexes stood as monuments to glory past.
Almost as impressive was the massive fields outside the town which stretched seemingly forever.
I could see why this area was always held by whoever owned Griffenheim. They could just walk from one end to the other on perfectly flat ground and there was nothing you could do to stop them.
Sadly, I could not see Dachaigh due to an emergency, but Scugili would go there on vacation. He would say that I would not have found it that enticing, but that Giorno Lasaga would find it very interesting how an entire city was made from "basically just ice and rock".
One day, Lasaga would see it. He apparently did find it interesting, and provided plans for a ship made of special ice. I was forced to inform him that our waters were too warm for that.
I don't remember when Arantiga left our union. According to Marty, who delivered the news and saw my reaction, this fact is not surprising.
Olenia was a weird historical anomaly up to this point. The only thing stopping them from being conquered was that nobody thought it was worth it. Anyone could have done it, after all, but then you've spent months trudging through snow and over mountains for little more than you could see from the border. Oil changed that. Suddenly, a real nation appeared to take the place over.
I don't mean to belittle them, but they were really not worth considering before they found how rich their mountains were, and when they did, King Johan didn't do anything cool with it.
Giovanni Gesse was great with tanks, but not much else. I made him the chief military theorist, since he was too good with tanks to do nothing. I asked if he had any relationship to Mrs. Parmesan, but apparently it was very distant.
Bizarrely, the report that the Changelings had gone to war with Olenia was circulated faster than the reason why, even though everyone already knew the reason why. King Johan refused to be vassalized, what else could it be?
Maybe the press wanted time to write up an emotionally-charged version of events. King Johan was, let's face it, not legitimate, after he kicked his rightful-ruler sister off the throne. When the Olenians felt solidarity behind him was probably when he won the war on the Changelings, another thing which didn't happen. The speed of the changeling advance was limited purely by the speed of their cars, since the Olenians couldn't muster enough troops to defend even most of the border adequately.
I have no idea what the Jak-Yak feud was about, and I suspect that I am missing nothing.
Spicarillo jokingly recommended a comprehensive, full-body, bio-socio-political report on the matter, which Lasaga got to writing a procedure for. We informed him it was a joke, and he said he knew. Apparently, he did that kind of thing for fun.
What a weirdo.
The Aquileian Revolution was a strange war, as these things go. The other nations were not really aligned against the Republic, so whenever one fell, that just opened a new front for their neighbors and freed up soldiers for the Aquileians to hit the new front with.
Marty had a few plans to take advantage of the situation, but most were either extremely minor or extremely unlikely to produce the desired effect.
Tone confirmed what I was a little worried about. Any argument we used as for why Communism and Harmony were bad for our nation ultimately could be applied to the Monarchy as well. Harmony, however, was something we really didn't need, and neither was communism, so we bit the bullet and put the Royal Family into a mostly-ceremonial role. They still had all their property and wealth, and were intertwined with the government in other ways, but official power was now out of their hands.
I can not imagine how a kingdom where any sufficiently popular character can show up and just beat up the current monarch to take their place, functions seriously.
I also cannot imagine how a republic of nobility was convinced to support a pony who would curb the nobility. Maybe it makes sense if you're a pony.
On the 25th of July, two significant things happened. Firstly, Communist Longsword declared war on the Order of Hellquill. Why they thought that that was a good idea is anyone's guess, since they were conquered by Hellquill without making a single successful incursion.
Secondly, the Olenians officially lost the war, although it was really a few years ago that they lost. They could still burn down a town, though, and who doesn't love engaging in some cultural history?
Again, the military reports outpace the news.
One of my staff knew a Deer in Hjortland at the time. Apparently everydeer except for the audience was a Changeling and the audience itself was there at gunpoint, so I have to wonder who this parade was for. The Changeling Queen was the type to unironically participate in that kind of thing, so maybe it was hers.
Holding a grand party while a resource-rich neighbor gets invaded by a direct antagonist. How the ponies are still around, I can't tell.
According to Scugili, it was a cool party.
There was a significant lack of national pride in the Kingdom. A nice, long propaganda drive fixed that. As in, we had a tank brigade paint their chassis in murals and Wingbardian colors and drive around town for around a week, with mounted loudspeakers blaring the national anthem. The tanks were considered "light", but they were still quite large up close.
I know that it won't change anyone's opinion, but as a leader of a rather significant nation, allow me to say that there is no cover-up of any sort. The world really is flat. World-ocean in all directions. I know this not because it is common sense, (after all, then the Equestrian Royals would have control over our day and night) but because I had a small mission done the the South to see if we could find Zebrica. A few, in fact.
That continent always alluded us. I can't imagine how they did it, since they show up in all sorts of texts and histories, and we even have a good idea of how sailors used to get there, but we couldn't find it. We even asked Nyumba Ya Kaskazini about it, and they said that they had forgotten the way there.
Arantiga had moved away from us. They were no big loss, but Talouse and Franmistra were very valuable allies. In a move of unprecedented subtlety, Spicarillo sent a few sponsored influencers there and let them convince the population of our way. I was concerned that this would not get the message across strongly enough, but it did.
My experiences in the Falcor War were not something that I wanted to repeat, or have my soldiers repeat. However, I also wanted revenge for the war, and the valuable resources the nation owned.
I compromised and made an army that would win the war quickly, avoiding a bloody stalemate.
Franmistra and Talouse were not in a real position to help out in this war, but their advisors could still bring some benefit. Griffolf Graziani was good, but could always use help.
After a long strategy meeting that went late into the night, I thought someone had left some gunk on the map, but when I looked closer, Swordsson had been renamed to Starrygrad by the degenerate communists in Longsword. I stayed in the room a little longer to remember what I fight for before going off to bed.
When I awoke, and they had declared war on Hellquill, I jumped for joy.
The Yak-Jak feud had ended. It was nice, I guessed, but ultimately meaningless.
Lasaga had long completed his procedure to determine the difference. I took a look, and realized that I couldn't understand a thing. In fact, I was scared to ask what it all meant. I closed the notes, and pretended I had never seen them.
When this came across my desk, I decided to do some reading on the subject of "Our Town". Why Stalliongrad thought fit to integrate a town that had been established as (essentially) a magical pyramid scheme was beyond me.
There were a lot of preparations to make so that we could go to the Falcorian government and scream at them to surrender, surprisingly. This was the first war I had organized, and while my experience from the ground sped it up a bit, I was still unprepared for how much paperwork there was to be done.
Once again, Marty ran into my room with news of war on the continent. "The Kingdom of Vedina has gone to war", he said. "Against who?", I responded. He stood there and thought for a minute, realizing that he had only heard one name, before leaving.
Five minutes later, he explained that there was nobody else. They had declared war on themselves, and both factions took the same name and flag.
The city of Skyrim, which one of the Vedinas had taken as their main stronghold, reminded me of a game Scugili had told me about. The cast of "My Small Dude" was turned into Griffon knights by a magic mirror, and adventured around Skyrim and the surrounding countryside, fighting off an invasion by Dragons.
I appreciated that he enjoyed his role as cultural exchange as well as ambassador, but I never really got why.
The arrangements had been made and the letter was sent to Falcor. The terms we gave them were simple: they could see us in their capital city, or their widows could. A simple request, and one which we were able to (and would) force through if need be. Of course, there was still the possibility that they could refuse, but why would they waste lives of both sides so needlessly like that?
They refused.
I needed to hear it a second time, but they refused. I could not believe that they would be so selfish, so wasteful, so arrogant. I went into my room that night fuming with rage. That night, I had a dream, and the way forward became clear.
Many hours of meetings were held to determine how we could do the most damage to Falcor, to see if we were actually able to demand this of them reasonably. We had found that if we wielded our military in a certain way, yes, we could march to the capital and show them the error of their ways. But, I thought, what if we kept going and just took it all?
Ten days later, the theories had become plans of action for how to destroy the nation.
A week later, the center had not moved much. This was good, because our flanks had been packing in, and hard. The Falcorian flanks were collapsed, and now we just had to roll up to the main line. Our troops and our planning beat them at every turn, and our tanks crushed them on the retreat.
Three more weeks of conquest later, we had taken their capital of Matton. We were already quite close to Soarleto, their secondary capital.
To think that my generals had complained as much as they had about it, saying that it was a risky move, that it was likely to backfire, that we needed to call our allies. We had their industrial heartland. It was only a matter of time now before we won. They simply could not beat our tanks and trucks, except for the knights who were surrounded and captured early on.
The annexation of the Buffalo Chiefdom was a footnote to the situation in Falcor, if you as me. We were at the gates of Soarleto, mopping up their last pitiful troops outside. Matton had long falled, and we continued to push ever deeper into their territory. They were starting to suffer from equipment shortages, and morale was at an incredible low.
In other words, it was the perfect time to start building the infrastructure for the conflict.
Griffolf Graziani made a rather shocking face when I explained that's what I was doing. Even as great a field marshal as he was, he could not see the strategic brilliance in preparing for a conflict after it has already begun. Neither could I, in truth, I had just forgot to do it.
Meanwhile, the nation of Hellquill had taken back Longsword without losing a single province. I would say both sides fought well, but one rather distinctly hadn't.
I never knew Governor Teafeather, nor had any of my staff or cabinet. It was still a shame to hear he had died. Not least was this because his death caused some more thousands of deaths. I would say that it had been a very bad decision on his part to die that day, even if it wasn't really his decision.
Meanwhile, the civil war in Vedina had ended with Vedina coming out on top, to nobody's surprise. Vedina had put up a good fight, but was eventually overwhelmed by the determination and courage of Vedina's more-numerous and better-equipped troops. Let us hope that this only has to happen once, because trying to decipher the reports on foreign conflict was hard enough when they had different names.
Tone, Griffolf in tow, informed me in late July that there was a lot of resistance to our occupation in the province of Sudfolk. I had to question his definition of "resistance to occupation", since that was not where three divisions of rebels had appeared out of thin air to try and attack our back lines. We rerouted a knights unit and two infantry units and crushed them, of course.
With that all out of the way, we finally took Soarleto, and their government finally surrendered. Naturally, there was only one thing to do.
Take everything, including "princess" Maximilliana.
As a historical footnote, Maximilliana wasn't actually executed as we claimed. Me and the Prince had an agreement. She would be locked in a house on a small island owned by the royal family of Wingbardy, never leaving, and in return, I would not replace her fake, private execution with a real, public one. I personally wanted to break her wings and throw her off the highest tower of her castle, but it was the first time I'd heard Prince Gumberto say "please", instead of just doing what he wanted, and I couldn't let that go unrewarded.
She also didn't care for the crown as much as the opulence that could come with it. The two got along. I suspect that he snuck her on some of his "diplomatic" trips to Nyumba Ya Kaskazini, but never got the opportunity to prove it.
A great complaint was lodged for this war by the Federated Parishes of Sicameon. They threatened to cast a hex on me personally. Of course, that wouldn't do anything, since I couldn't have won the last war so handily without having Boreal's blessings, but if left unchecked, they might try something in the material realm. Realizing our forces were far stronger than theirs, we set our sights on them next.
Inexplicably, I kept receiving reports of the houses Erie and Eyrie going to war. I even sent Spicarillo to the mailroom for the palace to tell them to stop sending these my way, but nothing worked.
In a shocking turn of events, the Blackrock Bandits declated war on the Kingdom of Griffinstone. They ended up winning, too, which makes it doubly-shocking. If Griffons had a big tradition of penance suicides, then the entire top three levels of the Griffinstone military-government hierarchy would've had to burn themselves to death in public to make up for this error.
The cycle of paperwork began a second time to take the Sicameon Parishes. This time, it was a bit faster, but we spent more time on the plan to invade, knowing that that's what it would come to, so it balanced out.
The map we had was advanced, and updated hourly. I was too embarrassed to ask what these yellow lines were, but later found out they were border skirmishes. The Sunstriker Clan were bandits, and would do this kind of thing all the time.
Unfortunately, our giant, integrated armies did not have the operational independence to perform something similar without it being a full-blown war. Also, they were too self-respecting to take back loot from it.
The plan to deal with the Parishes was not complex, in theory. We actually overestimated how much of their border they could defend, resulting in uneven penetration. Eventually we just had some motorized divisions driving down the coastline to their capital, who's defenders had been pushed to the front line after losing much of what was already there. The real courageous stories usually come from the knights, who cleansed a chain of islands very close to our mainland of defenders.
Sicameon had been a naval power according to my generals, so I sent the navy to clear the waters of them and keep them that way, but their navy just hid in their port because they would lose against ours. Our navies never met despite being two naval powers.
The whole war seems to have been over in a few seconds despite taking a month and a half. It was mostly waiting for the troops to go places and for the message that they'd gone there and taken it to reach the Sicameon leadership. With no naval combat and token land combat, the war seemed to be a declaration and then a surrender in my memory. At least it's not one who's exact details keep me up at night.
This gave us access to a lot of Magical Crystal production, but it was all at the receiving end of critically underbuilt infrastructure. Step one was fixing that.
Magic crystals are an anomaly. They have really only two uses for non-mages: making magically-enhanced weaponry, and as we would discover years later, they are a crucial component in those bombs we made, where each one can destroy an entire city. I'm kind of sad we never got to use one on our enemies, but once they were invented, we didn't have enemies to use them on anymore.
Next up was Minotauria. Not to be conquered, actually, since we didn't really need that, but to be approached with a diplomatic offer to join the military allies of this growing empire.
This is about when the Blackrock Bandits started smuggling drugs into Wingbardy en masse.
Incidentally, when I mentioned earlier that you can run over bandits with a tank, I wasn't being rhetorical. The Bandits responded to a letter telling them to stop their drug peddling in our lands by them mocking us because you can't stop drug trafficking with a tank. So, when we had captured a prolific smuggler of theirs, I had one of our motorized divisions drag him out to a border crossing and run him over with a tank in front of dozens of guards. It was my suggestion, but I should've considered that being there to enhance the point was the best use of my time that day. If the noise of the smuggler getting crushed bothered me as much as it did, I can only imagine how much the Blackrock guards didn't like it.
Meanwhile, the Griffonian Empire was putting their foot down, and finally saying that you couldn't just leave the Empire. They were now only the lands most dedicated to the Empire, which were incidentally the ones that made the Empire in the first place, and had the most development and population, so they were able to take kingdoms two or three at a time.
Apparently, the tank stunt and more had had a big effect in Blackrock. None of the news reports ever portrayed how angrily-written the demand was, or how demanding it was.
I could not be dragged out every time they wanted to execute a smuggler or raider, so we had had the engineers erect a giant catapult near the border. Then, whenever we needed a Blackrock agent disposed of, we would bind them tightly and fling them over the border at a military base the Bandits had taken over. That was the "and more".
As you've seen, I have a heightened conception of the death penalty, and this advanced viewpoint frequently made Tone walk into my office complaining that I've gone too far this time, that the people wouldn't stand for this, that he couldn't bring it back. He always did. That's why he was the propaganda minister and I wasn't.
Meanwhile, the Aquilean Republic was democratically expanding outwards. They would go to the front line, and hold a referendum. The Pomovarran soldiers would vote against losing this territory, and the Aquilean ones would vote in favor. The Aquilean army was far larger, so they always won. That is why the Aquilean government was mostly military veterans.
Like a real democracy, I am brushing over all the shooting that happened to come to these decision.
The Changelings were totally right about Equestrian interference. They really should've brought out that excuse earlier, though, because then it would've been covering something everyone didn't already know about.
Not even the Equestrians were surprised by the Changeling invasion, they just seemed like it because they didn't want to acknowledge that they would have to do something about it.
It took longer than expected for Prywhen to start expanding outwards. We were expecting them to go after Lushi first, but no, they went for Cyanolisia. This was shocking because this would put them next to us, and at least once a week their press would complain about our rampant imperialism. They did this because they knew neither side would to anything about it, but now they were in position to start a war which they could only lose.
Now was when we began a mass rollout of the new magical weapons. The new access to Magic Crystals really improved our offensive capability. Blackrock had no troops on our border, but in case this changed, we wanted this war to go faster. We had no wish for a long war in their mountains.
Magical weapons were a great boon to our troops. If Lasaga would've gotten promoted for making them if there was a position above him besides mine. They could shoot as fast as the main crystal could cool down, which was shots-per-minute dependent. Technical details coming, so if you don't like numbers, move along. At 60SPM, the speed of basic infantry rifles if you didn't need to reload, the number was in the thousands of shots. At 150, closer to the rate of fire of our machine guns, it was closer to 200 shots until cooldown. It was just a basic electronic component to change the fire rate, so we added a third, 10-shot burst at 500SPM mode. The minimum number of shots to cooldown was 60, so that was for urban fighting.
Since the bolts of magic weapons were more powerful than regular bullets, and didn't need to be reloaded, you could carry one replacement crystal and still have room for extra things like grenades and shovels. The difference was immense.
When the Minoaturs refused, I was not deeply affected. It was not my project, really. Spicarillo had desperately wanted it, though, and was mad as Maar about the whole thing.
The same day one war ended, another began. Cyanolisia was finally puppeted by Prywhen on the same date as the Changelings declared war on Equestria. One of those was our problem now, but the other could be later, so we kept an eye on the Equestrian war. I refuse to call it "The Great War", since the war on the Empire was far greater in every way. Except the part where the bad guys won, that sucked.
Already, there was fighting across the entire front between the Changelings and Equestria. Not movement, though. Most of the border set along a river which neither side could cross. Eventually a breakthrough was made, and as the front line evolved from there, everyone from both sides asked whether it was really worth doing to get that breakthrough.
Observe the pony warrior spirit. They hadn't actually prepared for the Changeling invasion nearly as much as they should have or could have, despite everyone knowing it was coming, and despite the fact it wasn't even the first time this had happened.
Besides, they didn't even have hands. How were the non-mages supposed to hold a gun?
The first time that we had received a letter demanding our "total submission to Blackrock's rule", it was a curiosity more than anything. The second time, it was just sad.
That said, they were increasingly a thorn in our side for reasons other than the raids they knew better than to try on a large-scale. The aforementioned drug trade was only kept at bay by the fact that its agents were frequently executed by The Catapult if they had been caught doing it repeatedly. They tried to make Wingbardy ID's to pretend they were from here and get a regular jail sentence, but we kept meticulous records of everyGriffon in our territory, and the courts could just ask the Office of Population Records in Karthin if they suspected something.
Still, the problem could only get worse. So we took a measure which would end the drug trade and the raids permanently.
Intelligence was spotty, but they couldn't have resisted us if their troops had actually been in a position to do so. The highest estimates put their military on the same level as ours, and the lowest were half that. We were also more advanced, and had as many factories producing just small arms as they had for all their military's needs.
To crush them would hardly be a fight. All we had to do was say the word.
Their emergency redeployments to where we were coming from left their troops shaken and disorganized, and our own divisions, partially-equipped as they were due to an overambitious magical weapon rollout, still made short work of them.
Shortly after the start of the war, we had already taken back all of Griffonstone. Their scattered units were encircled and captured by our more numerous and faster units. Our front line was at times outrunning our air support, not that we really needed it. It sure helped whenever it could, though.
I never asked what happened to Blackrock herself. I know that that Prince Gumberto took charge of dealing with her, went to Nyumba ya Kaskazini, and then came back without her. He apparently returned with "A truck full of Fault and other drugs, a very sickly pony in the passenger seat, and a grin that seemed to wrap around his head".
His father can't be proud of him for whatever he did with the bandit, but he can at least be proud he got paid well for it.
We kept Griffonstone and the Creeper Mountains. The rest went to a reorganized Griffonstone Kingdom who would let us do what we wanted. We knew that we would get more out of the area if we let them build their own troops instead of trying to scrape together whichever loyalists we could.
I'm not sure why the Changelings spent time attempting to subjugate the Polar Bears, or why the Polar Bears agreed, considering that the war was not going well. It wasn't going bad or anything, it was just one step short of a total stalemate.
The Arantigans left because they wanted their own empire. So we acted like they could get one if we didn't stop them. We would need them under us later. Besides, turns out that it wasn't a joke that they were the moral support of the Karthinian Pact, and the group as a whole felt kind of sluggish without them.
For some reason, Prince Gumberto purchased a pony from the Zebras. We were pretty sure it was dead, and that it had been stolen from the Dread League somehow and somewhy, but we had it. We put the thing in charge of Griffonstone, since we were pretty sure that the actual royal family had been lost/killed by the Blackrock Bandits. Since it was basically dead, it did what we wanted it to do (look alive, don't actually do anything).
The Griffonian Empire was reforming one way or another, it seemed. If they got too big, they might try to take us. Fortunately, that never happened. What actually happened was worse.
Meanwhile, though, our justifying to invade Arantiga was in a race with Prywhen justifying to invade Griffonstone, our new friend. We could beat Prywhen... if we had the forces we would use to invade Arantiga. Luckily, they were motorized, so they might be able to make it back in time for the invasion if the war went quickly.
Over the years, we have been blamed for this explosion from time to time. Let me assure you, if it was up to us, we would've attacked the water treatment plant. That would've given the entire city dysentery, and caused far more casualties.
I understand, though. If I lived in New Mareland, I'd want someone to blame, too. For making me live in New Mareland, not for the explosion.
The Griffonian Empire marches on. I would be happier if I wasn't leading what would eventually be their biggest competition.
I personally traveled around the Kingdom to see how it had grown. It was beautiful, the places who were now in my nation, and the people who were in my nation. The new roads, while not high technology, made travel vastly easier than when our soldiers were marching on these places not long ago, and it was getting better.
At the end, I was in a good mood, and gave Arantiga the option to join the Karthinian Pact once again. They declined.
It was a little over two months until we would be able to declare war on Arantiga. I wondered why they had chosen a new name - Sparleos.
I liked the previous name more. According to Marty, they thought it better fit their new, re-imagined self. I asked why they adopted the name of an old empire despite still being a single province hemmed in by an increasingly large power. There wasn't a real explanation, according to him.
Prywhen would have enough power behind their justification to invade in early March, giving us two weeks to beat Sparleos/Arantiga and move our forces to Prywhen and Cyanolisia. We could do either of those in two weeks, but could we do both?
As Wingbardy and Griffonstone are both technically kingdoms, we had to observe the formalities of one kingdom conquering another. This meant that there were certain things that they would let us do, and certain things that they would not let us do, which was different from how one nation-state behaves towards a conquered one. Notably, we couldn't build the infrastructure to defend Griffonstone ourselves, and had to hope that they handled our supply lines correctly. They didn't.
As the Griffonian Empire marched on, more and more kingdoms fell to their armies. Already, Greifenheim was out of the war, and the Strawberry Duchy would soon join them.
Meanwhile, Franmistra was holding air trials, and had requested a license for one of our bombers. Field Marshal Gemilo De Gono recommended that we not give it to them. I asked King Talonuel III why one of my field marshals was recommending we keep military technologies secret from one of our allies. He could not explain.
Apparently, the fact that the Changeling front line would be on their front door in 35 years at their current rate had Stalliongrad concerned, and they decided to prepare to join the fight. It was a bit too forward-thinking, if you ask me.
Eventually, there was a breakthrough for the changeling lines which allowed them to cross the river in large numbers for the first time. The entire front moved for a brief time, and then stopped again.
Two giants on the continent clashed once again. We waited with bated breath to see which day the Griffonian Empire won on, because let's face it, the Second Aquilean Republic was not up to the task. Meanwhile, we had two wars in our backyard to take precedence over the war in our neighborhood.
Firstly, the Arantigans needed to be put back in line. Unfortunately, not realizing that who was the stronger of the two, Franmistra refused to fight Arantiga with us, on account of "too much shared border". I remembered why only one nation in the Karthinian Pact had gained land in the last decade.
After wheeling around our entire motorized army to where we were allowed to attack from, we realized that the Rumare Lake coast was undefended, since all the Arantigan troops were on the Franmistran border. We pushed through the entire spine of the nation with little resistance, and took it. We reminded the Featherin royal family of who their real leader was.
However, those motorized troops had places to be.
The Sixth of March passed uneventfully. Too uneventfully. So did the seventh, and the eighth. The ninth was eventful, but that was because the Workplace Safety Ministry caught fire after misuse of an electrical outlet, which was unrelated.
For some reason, Prywhen had decided to not go to war at the last moment, and then changed its mind once the moment had passed.
Prince Gumberto made many jokes about how "the PCP made them do it". I didn't get it
As I considered what to do about it, however, the Kingdom of Wittenland went to war against the Barrad Magocracy. This was also when I visited Nyumba ya Kaskazini with Prince Gumberto.
While there, the Prince showed me how much he didn't take home from his trips. He had a storage unit where he stored his excess and everything. I can believe that you can buy anything there, even an explanation of what PCP is, besides the Prywhen Communist Party. You could even sell a national leader here, or buy one if you're lucky.
Two things really caught my eye: slaves, and Fault. Slaves were remarkably cheap, especially the ponies, and we would use them for things we didn't want the Griffons of the nation to be doing. Fault is a drug which comes in white clumps, and really wakes one up. I never got nearly as deep into it as the Prince, and didn't care at all for any other drug he showed me, but I kept a bit on hand for when I couldn't bring the energy I needed to a speech.
The nations of the River Federation, as the corpses of the victims of their last war were still walking around, declared another war, on the Kingdom of Hellquill, who was just standing there, minding its own business and doing nothing wrong.
Well, if you were a pony, like you probably were if you lived in the River Federation, then you might have had a different outlook, but I didn't think anything they were doing was too bad.
Meanwhile, the Changeling Lands continue with their offensive, which is rapidly evolving into a crime against grand strategy as they push around a long stretch of mountains, but only on one side.
However, a bunch of Equestria's valuable cities were around there, so there were some upsides. They wouldn't last, since neither side had the forces to defend or attack all of that front, so it would be a really big encirclement any day now, but still.
Meanwhile, horse economics in action. A Grand Opera is hosted in the capital, with a famous musician being top billing, so that the proceeds of the venture can build a single fighter plane. The costs of the venture itself could probably build that plane right now, but they're doing it anyways.
It was honestly shocking how much ground the Kingdom of Hellquill gained on the River Federation early in the war, mostly because the expected number was deep in the negatives.
The greatest comeback in history may have been from 1008 to 1016, when the Griffonian Empire regained basically all of it's territory under a regency council. I would have opposed them more strongly had I not been waiting for Prywhen to die by my hands for their incompetence, and thus afraid to take my troops off the Pyrwhen border.
Meanwhile, in the South we were forming an economic community to better prepare for the turbulent future.
Gaetano Martino has been under-represented in history. His advice and his diplomatic flair really helped to secure some vital agreements. He had learned quickly since new hire Marty came in to tell me about the Houses being at war like it was news.
Around this time, I asked Prince Gumberto whether he had ever bought his drugs from the Blackrock Bandits. He said no. For one, it was unpatriotic. For another, apparently Griffon drugs are really coarse and rough, while Zebra drugs are soft and restrained in all the right places. Similarly, Griffon drugs get everywhere while Zebra drugs are rare, requiring Zebra magic to make.
Regardless, the Zebra war on the Deer of Nytt Radjur went on for a long time.
Reportedly, pony corporal Billiard Praxis committed suicide due to the strains of maintaining war through the constant retreats in Eastern Equestria. If you ask me, it was this campaign that did it, not through the stress of constant death and destruction of the things you love just to pull back yet again, but because he was continuing to lose against enemy officers who were clearly insane to the point of infeasibility
You can't teach an old Dog new tricks. Or Griffon, as it seems to be.
Need I repeat myself? Either way, it is always too little too late for the communist traitors.
Even more wars for the new Griffonian Empire.
At times like this, all Marty could come up with was that the Griffonian Empire wanted Griffon territory, and so they were invading Griffon lands. Not everything needs to be a big, complicated stratagem, years in the making.
This is a report which was very bizarre to receive. The first ten minutes were just laughing. Then I thought about the implications, and laughed for another ten minutes. Hellquill was a single city in what used to be it's own colonies, led by a warrior council after both the royal family and the prime minister were executed. I was at the latter's funeral. This insignificant frontier town and its dead ex-leader are being accused of deliberately starting a disease outbreak.
Let it be known that, when it comes down to it, the difference between a free press and a state press is whether the punishment for disagreeing is jail or not.
Meanwhile, Prywhen continues to pull at the last threads of my patience for their brinkmanship, and our position relative to the Griffonian Empire gets ever more precarious because of it.
As we modernize our air force in preparation for the upcoming wars, the Griffonian Empire continues upward and onward. As any good Griffon does, I felt a lot of pride in the Empire and the role of my nation and my fellow Griffons in it, but I could not give up my own nation and culture for it. If the politics had frozen as they were between us, with Wingbardy getting what it had and the Empire getting the rest of the continent, it would have been fine, but I knew the Archons in Griffenheim would not have it that way.
I'm not sure what weighed heavier, that I would have to choose between the history of my race and my own culture, or how many of the Griffons I love so much would die if I chose to fight for Wingbardy, instead of Griffondom.
I am sorry if this gets dark, but these were my thoughts at this time, and I am writing this to get my perspective out there.
As the Griffonian Empire became even more unstoppable compared to us, Griffolf Graziani, who had been field marshal of our armies since before I took power, came to me with two options. I could invest in learning new ways to use recruitment and propaganda to get more soldiers, with the end being truly unstoppable guerrilla tactics and small armies of partisans, or I could go even harder into the tanks and infantry than I already had. I chose the former, since I was likely to be fighting a defensive war against a logistically taxing army soon.
Equestria, as usual, refuses to choose between being an empire and fielding a tiny army, instead conquering with non-violent means such as regime change and demanding things they won't go through with.
Imagine pounding your fist hard enough to capture a nation, but not doing anything to prevent them from pounding their fists and coming back. The war was turning on the Changelings. Their ridiculous overextension had really just made a big encirclement, as I predicted, and now Equestria was quickly pushing back into the Changeling lands.
More wars of aggression from the peaceful River Federation nations.
This time, though, I knew of something I could do. It wasn't much, but it was something
Once the tide turned for Equestria, it took months for them to actually win. This was partly because Equestria was not ever great militarily, the Changeling army just deflated, but mostly because the Changeling Lands were and continue to be huge. The replacement for Queen Chrysalis is some spineless bug called Thorax.
When I met Thorax at the Victory Ball, he made no attempt to not be towered over by me, and I found that I didn't even need to touch him to make him recoil back like I had taken a swipe. His nation was ostensibly more powerful than mine, but everyone in the room at that Ball could overpower his character with their own. Even Queen Gytha of Greneclyf could've made him sit down with a word, had she been there.
It's a shame what happened to Queen Gytha, but not surprising. It's cliche, but ponies love to talk about love and tolerance because they are weak. When they are on top, it's either another tool of control or a waste of time.
I didn't even realize that Changelings could have a resistance movement.
In other news, at the same celebration, I met Queen Velvet. She still looked impeccable after years of war and exile. A bit under-ambitious, if you ask me, but one way or another Olenia was going to be an Equestrian property. She seemed generally competent and eager to fix her nation, though, and she was definitely better than Johan.
Despite the best efforts of my volunteers, we could not save the Kingdom of Zaphzia from pony aggression. After Lushi fell, they were not far behind. The River Federation was, and still is, the most offensive defensive faction in either continent.
We lost a few thousand in our defense, but took many more ponies with us.
Wingbardy was getting quite large. Conquest after convenient conquest had brought so far four large kingdoms under our banner, with more on the way. Declaring an Empire seemed like the next logical step. It was also one of the few decisions I made which Tone didn't react explosively to.
Meanwhile, to the north, the Dread League had made some changes to their leadership. There was a communal foundation for spying on the Magehold from afar, who's results were publicly shared. We kicked a few dollars their direction from time to time, since the Dread League was something to be monitored. They reported that Rosa Maledicta was suspiciously rotten, which everyone already knew until they specified that it was getting on the outside, too, now, and that she had probably become a lich.
Another thing. The most evil creature on the continent is an omnicidal maniac necro-fiddler named Rosa Maledicta. Guess what race she is.
I was really concerned about something far-off for the first time in a while when the Dread League declared war on the Arcturian Order. It felt nice.
Spicarillo came into my office and asked how I felt about it. I told him that it was something to keep in mind. He seemed surprised, and said that he was expecting something more grave, since that was where I had sent Doge Landuin, former leader of Sicameon.
It was news to me, but after some coaxing, he produced a record of the command from the archives. I didn't remember that command, and I was returning from Nyumba ya Kaskazini that day. Except no, as he was able to show, I had returned the day prior.
What transpired was that I had drank a little alcohol before bed, as I was thirsty. It was actually something from Prince Gumberto's stash he had brought back. The next day, I sent the command, ordered a giant pizza, and then went back to sleep for twenty-two hours. This was when I started to dislike the Prince's antics.
Prywhen constantly threatening us with invasion but never following through was flat out of entertainment value. I decided to push the issue to completion on my schedule instead of theirs.
As a cabal of necromancers, the Dread League do not leave people alive except to kill them later. Their skeletons multiply forever, and every Griffon, Griffonette, and Griffonling is only a soldier who hasn't been prepared yet.
It affected me more than I expected that I had send Doge Landuin to the Arcturian Order, potentially to her death, so unintentionally that I didn't even remember it happened. It took me a while to figure out why.
I'm not sure why non-monarchists bother in Equestria. Short of either princess going Nightmare Moon again and winning this time, the political situation never changes beyond "the royal family's cool, I guess".
Maybe that's why Scugili always liked it. Do your job once and it's done all year, especially when your boss knows how ceremonial your position really is.
I sent a large donation from my personal account to the Magehold Intelligence Foundation, to find out what happened to Doge Landuin. She was the prized possession of the necromancer who first figured out who she was. Didn't save her from undeath.
Why was it that I could order someone to be dragged in front of their friends and crushed to death by a tank, and watch it happen, but accidentally getting a foreign leader killed kept me up at night for the next few days? Why have I ordered the deaths of 100,000 Griffon soldiers, and gotten tens of thousands more killed to get it done, only to obsess over the accidental death of a single enemy who I should've killed myself?Why am I standing up to the inevitable invasion by the Griffonian Empire, even though I will just cause more death by doing so?
I had it. The village I grew up in, King Talonuel III and his wisdom, Prince Gumberto and his drug-fueled parties, Stiletto Faggotti and Parmesan describing what the average person saw, Kingdom and Empire Wingbardy, all the other things I saw in my rule, my friends and experiences...
These things will not be lost to history. If I can't stop it, there's no point to being Duce.
As this announcement crossed my desk, I decided that my paperwork could wait and went on a little trip. Out the door, down the hall, down the stairs two flights, up the hall, to the left, through the fifth door to the left, the third door on the left where the paperwork from the Ministry of Prosecution comes in for archival, ask for a 12B form, show ID, pick it up, go back into the hall, enter the right-side door labeled "Priority Mail Delivery", and the desk in the far-right row and second column to the left labeled "131", you know, the one with the stocky, dour Griffon behind the stacks of messages.
This was the Griffon who filters which reports cross my desk and which don't. Ruffle the feathers a bit, put the hat in my coat, and talk to him. I've sent messengers back telling him to not send these alerts about the Houses before, but he hasn't stopped sending them.
With my voice a bit higher than I usually talk, I say to him, "Hey, the Duce says to stop sending these messages about the Houses".
"I know, but it's a war, and war is always important."
"I understand, but just so we're cool, can you check this?" I said, handing him the mostly-filled out 12B form.
As he read it, I smoothed my feathers down again and put on the cap I always wear in the portraits and speeches.
"This is a special-order execution form. For me."
"Yes", I said normally.
He was still staring at me in shock, not blinking, as I left the room. I never got a report on the Houses again.
The whole of Prywhen was a big cartography error. It stood where there was supposed to be something called "The Kingdom of Brodfeld". I figured that changing the borders a little couldn't make the error any worse.
Our research showed that we could run nuclear reactors using materials besides Magic Crystals, but that would have cut into our lucrative glowing-paint industry. Lasaga would complain that we were using such dangerous and powerful science for something so domestic as glowing paint, but hey, for the next year, we were the only Kingdom making it.
It was time to get rid of the enemy in our own backyard. We were going to show that the red terror was really just a red error.
It took three hours to come up with that one, so you better enjoy it.
It was not nearly as one-and-done as the previous conquests. Still, however, we were winning far more than we were losing, and winning more important battles. The both of us had about the same horsepower, but I had far more industrial capacity behind my army than Filip Redglad.
Shortly into the war, we were deep into their sockpuppet nation. In some places, the bodies were stacked large enough to be used as cover when we moved on the position they had attacked from. Estimates ranged from the two of them having an army a third as large as mine to half as large as mine.
Then we ran out of oil and had to wait a while while the north actually had a series of battles which could reasonably be lost. That said, we were starting to move on them properly, and were deep into their land already.
Meanwhile, much to Prince Gumberto's pleasure, Nyumba ya Kaskazini finally won their war, and the Fault purchases resumed.
Another month went by, of little progress, but we were pushing their industry to the breaking point. Meanwhile, their one warship decided not to test our mighty navy.
September came and went with little progress except in the horsepower department, where the shortage was increasingly crippling their army. Already, most of their army was at half-strength or less. New Mareland, always ready to strike at us in a petty way, could not reinforce it's volunteers due to the blockade. The offensive resumed at the end of the month.
By the end of November, their lines were shattered and every lost soldier was stinging their combat power. The army was split in two, with most in the south, where it couldn't be used well and was being squeezed tighter every day, and a little bit in the north frequently encircled and under pressure.
We sacrificed a bit of land to put all the remnants of their hobbled force in one place, and then made a final push to knock them out for good.
With Cyanolisia liberated to a nation who had no famines, intentional or not, and the Griffon Liberation Army disgraced and slaughtered to the last, we re-installed King De Kisseu. Unfortunately, a communications error resulted in Brodfeld not being directly under our control, but the rightful King was on his throne, and that was good enough. Whatever happened to Filip Redglad, I don't know, but I hope it hurt.
Speaking of which, if you think you know where King De Kisseu was hiding, tell us at the Ministry of Secret Policing, 342 Pizzaria Avenue, 75598, Karthin, Wingbardy. Make sure your return address is clearly readable.
There was no time to rest. Every hour when our soldiers weren't on the front line was one when the Empire could begin their invasion of us. Advancements in air doctrine meant that they would have to take it seriously, and synthetic oil enhancements meant that we would run out of oil far slower, if at all.
We had work to do, however.
Eyrie had finally overtaken Erie, just in time to get invaded by the Griffonian Empire.
What's more, the Griffonian Empire had managed to bite off more than it could chew, no easy feat with how powerful it was. From the South-West, Equestrian-sphere divisions rolled across Manehattan and into Aquileia. In the West, Nova Griffonia was invading with all it could muster. In the East, the River Federation had entered a state of total war.
Every time I looked, the war situation became worse. An incursion crushed in one area meant two more let through in another. The fronts were too large, and the Griffonian Empire couldn't cover all of them, especially as they lost troops and their opponents gained them.
The Empire was lost. It could've held against the River Federation, and it could've held against all of Equestria, but it couldn't do both even slightly. I had seen what these ponies did to those they didn't like, and they had a long history with the Griffonian Empire. To save the Imperial History, there was only one option left.
I couldn't sleep as we prepared to march on the Griffonian Empire. It was as bad as if they had invaded us. The Empire was the peak of Griffon history, and in its time of need, we were stabbing it in the back. We had no choice. The ponies had nowhere near the respect or reverence that the Empire demanded.
I still remember, down to the individual words, the letter we sent. I'm sorry to inform you, we do not believe the invading ponies will treat your people or history as it should be, we are going to come in and protect it from them, do not resist, you have no choice in the matter. It was the strangest declaration of war sent or received during this period, but all it could do was remove the hollowness in Tone's face for a split second. They responded by saying that we didn't need to pretend we had some grand moral reason for invading when writing emperor to emperor. We weren't pretending, or at least I wasn't, but that is the level we were at. We were vultures picking at the last scraps of meat on the dead body so that it could be put to better use than it just rotting away.
Once we actually did the deed, we had to fight the war. Rumare was two islands, both fortified, and connected to one another by a straight and connected to land by a straight. That was all of its geography. Our heroic knights fought tooth and claw for every inch of land and shallow water, and barely won in the end even with heavy air support.
As Wingbardy was going through the hardest act it had done in years, King Garibald Talonuel III was lost. I needed him most at the exact time I lost him. His wisdom, his courage, his experience, all things which the nation could no longer benefit from. He was my key to power, one of my best advisors, and most of all, a great friend. I stopped doing large public appearances during this time because no amount of preening could make me look less than distraught.
Prince Gumberto remained a prince, even as king. He did not see it as an opportunity to shape up. His lifestyle of drug abuse, loud parties, and sexcapades both out on the town and in his estates seemed to get worse once the crown went on. It was no longer cute or interesting to see what narcotic-fueled adventure he was on now that he was the face of the nation.
The death of King Talonuel III was what signaled the end of our early success in the campaign. When the fronts were long, opening another allowed us to make a lot of progress quickly, but as the armies closed in on the heartland, their army became dense enough to make the invaders pay for every inch of ground. They focused on defending the center, since every new front was a battle lost anyways.
Pushing through became harder and harder and eventually impossible. We needed to cooperate with our pony "friends" to make progress, but we couldn't forget who's fault it was that we were in this war, losing thousands of men every day just to prevent them from using the fine art as a rug.
The Changelings opened a new front. Nova Griffonia opened a new front. Eventually, there were no new fronts to open, just a big circle and a bunch of Archons who've finally given up.
In the peace deal, we didn't get what I had hoped, which was everything. We also didn't get what I expected, which was the Eryite Archonate and at least one or two major cities elsewhere. What we got was the Eryite Archonate, with a few pieces missing. It was something, at least
Most of what was the Eastern Empire is Equestrian puppet states so that in the future they can pretend the locals submitted to Queen Celestia's rule. The rest is territory they flat-out took.
The only other part of the new map besides Romau which I don't find utterly revolting is that those socialists in the north have been fixed. The Griffonian Empire is two areas separated by miles of hostile ground, the conglomerated River Federation is more subjugated Griffons than not, and Griffonia is the world's largest pony colony now, but the socialists are gone.
The new integrated vassals of the Karthinian pact continued to expect a war that would never come, and conscripted large amounts of soldiers to produce divisions that would never be used. I wish our problem could be fixed by a bigger army, but we just couldn't have one big enough.
Equestria was tired of war. The River Federation didn't want our lands enough to put up with our magical arsenal and advanced partisanry. That was why civilian arms ownership was allowed more during my last years: as another deterrent, in case the River Federation was even more warmongering than I thought.
In the East, another peaceful war of friendship and aggression was being fought by the River Federation. I was getting off of Fault, after needing it just to get through the day for so long, but "King" Gumberto was quite distressed. He knew better than to ask me to fix it, though. Our patience with him was increasingly marginal, and there was nothing we could do anyways.
After two years of getting it through their heads that they were better a part of Wingbardy altogether than as close allies, we were finally able to integrate even Arantiga, permanent doubters of the Pact they were.
I was tired of leading. I understood the wear on King Talonuel III's face when I first entered his office in 1007, twelve years ago. I wasn't that bad yet, but give it time.
With Sicameon, Falcor, Talouse, Arantiga, and Franmistria under our belts, and Griffonstone, Romau, and Cyanolisia at our backs, we could declare ourselves an empire.
That was to be my last gift to Wingbardy. I needed a successor. Well, my second to last gift.
My last gift was the Imperial Memorial. In the main square of Karthia, you can see the names of all those who fought and died for their nation as we became an empire. Talonuel III, and all the brave Griffons of the armed forces, but also Doge Landuin, and Princess Maximilliana (who now really was dead, of an overdose) and the other leaders, and the soldiers who fought for their nations, and the rulers of Talouse and Franmistria and the other nations in our sphere and their soldiers. It's massive, as you might guess, and you can't miss it. We even had some historians write books on the governments of the nations who are no longer with us, so that they can still teach us lessons.
They say that one death is a tragedy, but a million is a statistic. Whoever said that was partially right. If you actually care about those being killed, then every one in the million will hurt you eventually, just not immediately.
At this point it was more ceremonial than anything, to delcare Wingbardy an Empire, but I know that many really care about ceremony.
I had my successors lined up at this point. I took the time spent subjugating the Karthinian Pact and doing basic maintenance to learn more about my friends. Marty was very good with geopolitics, but didn't understand real hardship like me and King Talonuel III. Baroni Spicarillo Jabroni was generally quality, but knew nothing about the military. Scugili and Stiletto Faggotti didn't want the position, and that's for the better. Griffolf Graziani was a hardened military veteran and an excellent commander, but couldn't manage civilian life even for himself. Tone outwardly handled pressure very badly, and underestimated himself. Faggotti's wife Parmesan turned out to be shockingly well-read, and only in such a small position as clerk because she didn't care much about status. Finally, Giorno Lasaga was the smartest of all of us, but knew nothing about running a state, since he had skipped most meetings to go do nerd things for nerds, and said to order him directly if we needed anything.
The final decision was a power trio: Graziani as the Grand Marshall, Scugili as the Grand Architect, and Parmesan as Grand Advisor. If they could find one who was everything he would need to be to succeed them, then they could make him their successor, but if not, then playing partial leaders against each other until a real replacement was found was the best I could so.
All three agreed. I was all set to retire, when I realized I had one last thing to do. I summoned King (ugh) Gumberto to my office, and beat him senseless for being so fucking useless to everyone and everything. Even with a twenty year difference, I took care of my body and he didn't. Then, I retired officially.
Now I'm here, outside Griffano, in a rather large cabin. It's no mansion, but I think I put in the work to get a bit more than the average Griffon. It's nice out here in the countryside. The weather's never too bad and when it's green, Boreal, is it green. It's just what I needed after so much war and preparing for war. Since I retired, Faggotti and Parmesan had a Griffonette named after her mother. Scugili and Spicarillo finally got married, not to each other, of course, but to some girls. I'm not extremely pleased about Scugili marrying a Deer Dignitary, but that's just me being a cranky oldm'n. My old friends and coworkers still come out to visit once in a while.
Oh, and a scout ship found something almost as good as Zebrica: King Gumberto's Dignity. Sadly, they couldn't bring it back from the world-ocean.
"No matter what race or what nation or what cause, that you stood up and fought for it is something to be proud of"
~Entrance to the Imperial Memorial

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Images: 9, author: inocomprendo, published: 2019-04-17