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Thread: Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR

  1. #5281
    Back from the dead FlyingDutchie's Avatar
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    Just noticed I hadn't even reacted to this great update, shame on me. This was a twist worthy of an Emperor, setting up a perfect scheme with the Great Khan himself in order to rid themselves of a mutual threat.

    Guess the story will enter a new chapter now, with the Thomasine branch humbled and weakened and Arghun and Altani dead. Will it be time for some old fashioned uprising? The Italian communes and citystates must be biding their time, the Spaniards are still enraged (please avenge Barcelona), the Egyptians have been too quiet for too long. Thats not counting the Western powers and Catholic church too.

    What was the fate of Albrecht by the way? Did he just fade out of history like that after exile?
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  2. #5282
    Basileus Romaion Nikolai's Avatar
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    Albrecht is supposed to have one last entry before he dies.
    Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. -Isa 41:10

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16
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  3. #5283
    First Lieutenant Kirsch27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikolai View Post
    Albrecht is supposed to have one last entry before he dies.
    Yeah that's what I remember being said. I hope BT is still planning on giving him a proper ending. He was probably just as important as old Mehtar, even if Albrecht Delenda Est never did become the rallying cry of a fictional generation.

  4. #5284
    Slacker Extraordinaire Zzzzz...'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT View Post
    Zzzz… – Yup, the ambassador was from Kublai—think of him as the ‘anti-Polo.’ Kublai’s response to the Polos coming to his court was to send a representative of his own west to maintain permanent contact with the other ‘great empire’ in the world.
    Will there be more interactions between East and the West like the promised scholars for Kublai since things look stable on both sides. Unless you have something hidden for us.


    Quote Originally Posted by Nikolai View Post
    Albrecht is supposed to have one last entry before he dies.
    Sophie just vanished after one update.
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  5. #5285
    Basileus Romaion Nikolai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zzzzz... View Post
    Sophie just vanished after one update.
    The Great BT said so?
    Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. -Isa 41:10

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16
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  6. #5286
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    AlexanderPrimus - I also forgot these other authAARs had cameo characters as well:

    Vishly ud Preussen (assassin/double agent)- Mr. Capiatlist
    Bard Askettilson (smuggler) - Vesimir
    Aetios Silvagentios (small-time lawman) - English Patriot

    c0d5579 - ?

    FlyingDutchie - It's definitely time for some uprisings and other drama--the Empire is at it's peak, this is officially the zenith. An Emperor rules uncontested from the Pillars of Hercules to Antioch, with clients and dependencies as far as Samarkand. The roots of the fall begin with the next chapter...

    As for the individual regions:
    Spain - Is still recovering, but the Hispanikon Stratos is still in place with many good tagmata in its rolls. That formation would have to be usurped or defeated if Spain intends to rebel. The greatest things in favor of a Spanish revolt--the distance from Konstantinopolis and a fractious nobility--are definitely still in place, however.

    Italy - Most of the city-states are fine rendering taxes to the empire if trade continues to flow uninterrupted. By being a part of the Empire cities from Genoa to Venice are essentially plugged into the greatest trade network in Europe, with direct, secure links with trade routes throughout the known world. Something drastic has to happen to get some of these cities to consider 'breaking the umbilical cord' and try to break free again. Adding to that, the most likely organizer/focal point for a future rebellion has been offered a crown in Samarkand...

    Egypt - It has remained entirely too quiet. Things have recovered since the Flood Tide over 30 years before. Are the Egyptian Komnenoi that docile, or are they laying low, biding their time?

    Nikolai - Well, I said he had another appearance. Might not be an entry from his perspective, but he's definitely going to get a curtain call.

    Kirsch27 - Arguably he's more important, if only because he held the reins of state from basically 1216 until Andronikos usurped him in the 1260s. For much of that time, he had power equal to or greater than many of the sitting 'emperors...'

    Zzzz... - Probably more interactions on a limited scale--the distance factor is still enormous. As long as Konstantinopolis and Dadu each have rulers interested in maintaining the link (and the resources to do so) I don't see why regular, if slow, communication wouldn't be possible. However, if one side or the other decides its not worth it, falls apart, etc., the link is easily broken.

    Still working on the update, though I have another short teaser for you. Below are three of the people who are going to become immensely important over the next few chapters. Let the guessing commence!

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  7. #5287
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    My really bad guesses, some kind of medieval robotic nun, the Logothetes ton Mousoulmanoi, and a Swede. I'm very sure I'm wrong on all counts.

  8. #5288
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    Going to become important... so the guy with the mask won't be Andronikos after he's had acid poured over his face. Hmm, tricky. The middle one might be the boy who was resqued from Barcelona, now a grown man looking for revenge. The man on the right... I'll guess that he's a Dane, perhaps a new king of Sortmark? The left is harder, he looks religious if it even is a he (I believe this is the king of Jerusalem from Kingdom of Heaven?) as it is hard to see, but I don't know why a pope would carry a mask, and I doubt that it is not a Christian as those clothes look very medieval Europe-ish. I believe that he or she is a Latin who somehow has had acid poured on them, or it is some new religious stuff. Aionite?

  9. #5289
    First Lieutenant Kirsch27's Avatar
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    To be wearing that sort of a mask, he's got to either be hideously disfigured, like if he was a leper, (like Baldwin), or he's got to be some sort of guy that thinks he's too good to be looked upon. I'm guessing he's the Aionite prophet, because we haven't heard much from him yet, or he's the new King of France, who happens to be a leper, or just real full of himself, as French kings are wont to be.
    The middle guy probably is the little boy from Barcelona, because once again, it's been too long to not hear from that guy, and the bald one is probably a notorious pirate lord, who causes all sorts of mischief throughout the Mediterranean, which is by now a Roman lake again, and teeming with fat cat merchant fleets who think they're safe from that sort of thing.

  10. #5290
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    “Dishonor. ‘Tis a fate far worse, and far easier to come by, than death alone.” – Unknown.

    The Hepdomon


    Gabriel Komnenos slowly opened the door before him. It’s hinges screamed in protest—it’d been nearly four decades since they’d last been opened. Like the old man, everything in his new home was old and creaky.

    The Hebdomon had once been a summer villa of Emperors, but now it was a far cry from the splendors of Baghdad and Isfahan. The ancient building was small, drafty, its exterior covered with vines and weeds. As Gabriel slowly entered what would be his private study, the dusty smell of a room that’d been closed up for years assaulted his nose. One of his five servants quickly ran over and opened a window. A hot, humid breeze blew in from the outside—but at least dank smell left.



    “Your Lordship,” the man bowed. Gabriel didn’t frown this time—he would get used to the new title of address, just like he’d get used to many things in this, his final home. As he walked forward, age old battle wounds protested, and arthritic limbs complained. Lord willing, this wouldn’t be his home for long.

    “Welcome to your study,” the servant added, before busily rushing towards the lone desk in the tiny room. Hands hastily brushed off decades worth of dust, as well as crumbs from the last visitor to the ancient palace. “Over there,” he pointed to the lone window on the narrow side of the room, “You can see the Kampos tou Tribounaliou, where the emperors of old marshaled their armies. And there, on a clear day,” the servant went on, “you can see the city, in the distance. See that?” the man pointed. Gabriel followed his finger, towards a shimmer on the horizon, bright despite the glare of day, almost like the inviting fire of hearth and home.

    “That’s The City,” Gabriel nodded grimly. He would see it soon enough—one last time. Andronikos had made plain that Gabriel was to march in the Megas Komnenos’ triumph—he’d be ceremonially bound in golden shackles, but Ioannis Angelos’ people promised they wouldn’t be that tight, or even heavy. During their long journey back from Persia, Gabriel had even asked why.

    “Do you think Andronikos wants the people to see you burdened by heavy chains?” Gabriel remembered that beast of a man laughing. “No,” Angelos had said, “he wants you as lightly bound as ever—a captive not to force or irons, but the Emperor’s will.”

    They’d also said he would be tonsured, forced to do penance before Patriarch Thomas, but he would not be allowed to address the crowd. That, more than any other indignity, stirred anger within him. He was the last legitimate son of Thomas II, he was a Christian, tried and true! Just from listening to his new servants, he’d found out all the tales of him that circled The City—that he laid with oxen, that he worshiped Mahomet, that he’d declared himself God and painted his eyes with soot. Gabriel knew he was too old, too tired, to win back his crown.

    He wanted his honor—but Andronikos would not even let him have that.

    The old man’s mind went back to the last he saw of his son and grandson—the elder Alexandros’ sunken eyes, worn face, the younger’s outright tears. All along the route out of Persia, people had lined the road. Most stood in mute, awed silence. Some called Gabriel’s name. More than one imam had loudly called out a prayer for his safety in Arabic and Farsi.

    As he ex-Emperor settled into his chair, bones aching, he nodded to himself. That was who he made his deal for—his son, his grandsons, the people he’d ruled on and off for over twenty years. The Persian and Mesopotamian men of his tagmata, the Romans on his staff, the Arabs in the streets—the people who’s sweat, blood, and tears held off the Mongols, made Gabriel a legend. Andronikos might be Megas Komnenos, but none of the imams uttered a prayer for him, none of the Persian, Arab or others who lined those roads yelled his name. Gabriel had saved them from Hulagu, he’d kept their faith in spite of pressure from the Empire, he’d fought Arghun to a standstill.

    Gabriel was not Megas Komnenos, but in the Persian tongue, he was known as something else.

    گابریل ساویور.

    Gabriel Soter.

    A far better title than mere Megas Komnenos.



    “It’s a wondrous sight, is it not?” the servant asked, pouring his new master a cup of wine. Gabriel held up his hand, as he looked at that shimmering light. It’s siren call echoed dimly in a distant part of his heart, but it rang hollow. He smiled slightly at the irony—here, when he was within sight of Konstantinopolis, he realized how much he missed Baghdad and Isfahan.

    They were home.

    That white light, tugging on the hearts of men, it was a mirage, a shadow of what was good, and glorious, and great.

    “It is,” Gabriel muttered, before waving the servant off. The man bowed, then left, closing the door behind him. For the first time in months, Gabriel Komnenos, the Desert Lion, the Master of the East, found himself alone. As quiet enveloped the room, he got up—his body creaking, groaning in protest as he shuffled over to a cupboard in the corner. Aged fingers, beaten and worn by battle as well as time, found inside a quill, ink, and parchment.

    Here, now, alone with nothing more than the ghosts of the past, Gabriel knew what he needed to do.

    As he shuffled back to the desk in the far corner, Gabriel laughed grimly. He’d decided all the way back in Kaiseria he would do this the first chance he was alone. He had no doubt that all his servants were toadies of Ioannis Angelos, and that his every move was being watched. The gesture itself would be futile… Angelos’ men would make sure his letter never reached its destination.

    But that didn’t matter.

    Gabriel now saw the light, and he had to share that with the one man who’d shoved him in darkness long before Andronikos squirmed on his unsightly throne. Slowly, the aged man settled in the previous chair, and looked at that shimmering light once more. He sighed—the siren called him no more.

    To Albrecht von Franken, My Lord Uncle he wrote in the corner, before pausing. What words? There were none—he hadn’t thought that far. Gabriel knew what had to be said, but how to start it? He laughed quietly at the absurdity of the moment. Finally, three words came to mind—three words that needed to be said, three words that would lead to more.

    I am sorry…




    ==========*==========


    19th July, 1273

    An army was on the move.

    It bore no swords, no shields. Its shields were robes of the finest silk, its swords were pens, paper, goblets and wine. At its front was the Emperor of the Known world and his right hand man, Archeoikos Ioannis Angelos. Its body was a long line of stenographers, stewards, cupbearers—everything an Emperor could need to conduct business, plan a war, or simply look good while he was on the move through the palace.

    “So the conqueror returns!” Angelos looked over with a wry smile. “We’ve missed ybou. I’ve missed you. God knows there’s too much work running things!” the Archeoikos laughed. “The logothetes miss you too… I don’t tolerate their whining or harping!”

    “I’ve missed my lyra,” Andronikos said with a tired grin. He planned on bringing it with him on campaign—it wasn’t until the army was two weeks from The City that he’d realized the servants had forgotten to bring it. Beating them didn’t make him feel any better—the army could scarcely halt its forced marching because their emperor had forgotten his favorite musical instrument. So Andronikos had persevered—and complained bitterly when no one was around.

    “I’m sure it’s missed your delicate touch,” Angelos said. “And,” he handed Andronikos a stack of letters, “the bureaucracy has missed you too!”

    “What are these?”

    “The most important from the last two weeks that I’ve culled from the lists,” Ioannis answered. He smiled thinly. “The rest are in the study, at your pleasure, of course.”

    “Oh joy,” Andronikos sighed. “The triumph? Did you get the barber I asked for Gabriel’s tonsure? I don’t want a bloody mess—nice and clean,” the Megas Komnenos grunted. He might have wanted to do worse to Gabriel, but publicly, it was time to display ‘Andronikos the Merciful’ alongside ‘Andronikos the Victorious.’ Andronikos had no problem granting mercy to a broken, powerless man—and granting that mercy privately made little sense. Not when public goodwill could be made by cleanly, even gently tonsuring the old lout to make him ineligible for the throne, and allowing him to ‘confess his sins’ to the Patriarch before The Mob.

    “Yes, it’d better be clean and quick for fifty gold solidii,” Ioannis grumbled. “Two years wages for the man!” the Archeoikos added in disbelief, before sighing. “Everything else is prepared too—the three tagmata that will march, and the rhinoceros is ready to come out of the Megara. I’m amazed the thing is still alive.”

    “Good,” Andornikos flipped to the first letter—a summary from the Kronokratoroi of the situation in Spain. Bartholomaios still had said and done nothing disloyal that they could find in Andronikos’ year from the capital. The Hispanikon Stratos’ rebuilding continued, though Pandomestikos Godwinson was complaining the tagmata needed more funding for arms and training.

    “Has my mother ceased her nagging?” Andronikos said a moment later, before tsking at the next document. Apparently there was a furor in Jeddah—some man calling himself ‘Aionios’ had announced he planned to visit the Caliph in Baghdad to bring the ‘hajj home.’ It showed poorly on poor Georgios Donauri—if the Rigas couldn’t keep Arabia in line, perhaps it was time to let the Egyptian princes and a few tagmata set the region straight. He shuffled the letter towards the servant that held the collection for further review.

    “No, Andronikos,” Ioannis laughed slightly. “She still asks about your lyra work, and when you plan on finishing the basilica in Cordoba.”

    “Ah, yes,” Andronikos frowned momentarily. With the late excitement, his twelve month absence from The City, he’d completely forgotten the Basilica dedicated to the Megaloprepis and his uncle Nikephoros to be finished in Cordoba. “The final plans are ready?” the Megas Komnenos asked, already looking at the next letter, smiling slightly. Yes, Michael Komnenos accepted the title Rigas ton Transoxanion—even called it an ‘immense honor!’

    The poor sap…



    “They were awaiting your return and final approval,” Ioannis said. “You probably won’t like the price, however.”

    “Bah,” Andronikos grumbled—everything worth doing, it seemed, cost money. The treasury was bringing in gold, yes, but not as much as when Cecilia saw to the finances. “Tell my mother I’ll approve the plans as soon as I see them. My uncle deserves no less.” Andronikos’ eyes fell on the next letter—and he suddenly stopped in the middle of the hall. Behind him, the procession of servants halted as well.

    “The German letter?” Ioannis asked. Andronikos looked up—Angelos’ eyes were concerned, grim. The Megas Komnenos slowly nodded, unbidden emotions racing through his head.

    “I…” Ioannis stammered, “is it too soon?”

    “No,” Andronikos said after a moment. He was the Emperor of the Romans, and a now unmarried Emperor at that. It’d only be a matter of time before the affairs of state demanded he remarry. And foreign policy dictated that there would be no finer bride than the sister of the King of the Germans. “It’s time—have you…?”

    “…gathered information on her?” Angelos finished his friend’s sentence. He nodded. “Umhm. They say she’s quiet, and eager to please…”

    “I’m not certain I’m interested in that part yet,” Andronikos muttered.

    “No, not like that,” Angelos said. The Emperor looked up, expecting his friend to be smirking—Angelos wasn’t. “She’s already commented that should she be married to you, she’d be willing to learn the lyre, and any other thing she can do to please Your Majesty.” For a moment, silence hung in the air, before he added, “She’s also said that she is aware you are still recovering from the loss of someone you love, and that she’ll do anything she can to…not make you uncomfortable,” Angelos finished with unusual delicacy.

    Andronikos bit his lower lip. “Does your agent think her words are genuine?”

    “He’s been her music tutor for three years, as well as my eyes in the court in Aachen,” Ioannis nodded. “He’s proven his worth again and again.”

    “Hm,” Andronikos muttered. He didn’t bother asking about looks—it wouldn’t matter to him. Diplomatically, she made more sense than any Roman noblewoman, or any woman from another realm. Coldly, Andronikos’ political mind rendered its judgment, and his heart reluctantly agreed.

    She would do.

    “Write a letter to Hesso, saying I agree,” Andronikos said quietly, half wishing he didn’t have to say those words. The Emperor thought for a moment, before adding, “Make sure he agrees to a suitable dowry before you broach that I’ve agreed. I’m… leaving it all in your hands.”



    Angelos, as always, read between the lines and nodded. “I’ll make all the arrangements.”

    Andronikos nodded, before looking down at the last letter in his hands.

    It bore the seal of Istria.

    “That’s the other piece of important news,” Ioannis said, just as Andronikos started to open the last letter. “Your stepfather died.”

    Andronikos paused. “He died?” the Megas Komnenos half-whispered.

    “According to the letter from Prince Gottfried, about two weeks ago,” Angelos pointed. “He’d been sick for close to six months.”

    Andronikos looked down at the parchment, quickly reading words apparently by Lord Gottfried’s own hand. After staying its hand for six and seventy years, Death had finally claimed the man who once ruled Romanion.



    Andronikos turned to look out the window—the shadow of the Kosmodion loomed long and large over the city—just like the shadow of the recently dead man. Andronikos’ eyes glanced over towards the Blacharnae, Albrecht’s haunt for most of his life. What secrets did those walls hear? What fears, what triumphs did they see? Andronikos Komnenos, in all his 26 years, had not seen half the winters Albrecht spent in the Blacharnae as Megoskyriomachos. Despite a Persian invasion, and the plots of Sortmarkers, Segeo, and others, Andronikos had never faced a civil war cut off from his bureaucratic servants, or the three sons of a friend struggling for the throne.

    A small little voice asked him—could he have handled those things? Could he have held Romanion together? Yes, Albrecht had slipped in his dotage, yes, he needed to be pushed aside. Those words, those fights that decade ago… they’d made Andronikos who he was. Albrecht was a fool in his old age, but long before…

    “…he made the empire,” Andronikos said quietly, to no one. It was unfortunate he’d clung to power so long—he’d been a useful advisor, a great confidante to Thomas II. If only he’d let Andronikos steer the state as he’d wanted—his exile wouldn’t have been necessary!

    Was it necessary?

    Old voices, old shadows came back, questioning choices, decisions in the past. Did Albrecht have to be undercut? Did he have to be stripped of his authority, and sent to a backwater with his brackish son? Familiar thoughts in Andronikos’ mind said yes, of course he did—he would’ve allowed Segeo’s rebellion to stand far longer, he would’ve forced Andronikos to marry that harlot Safiya!

    But other thoughts wondered—was there another way? Could Albrecht have been merely circumvented? Could Safiya have simply been poisoned away? Would Albrecht have dominated Andronikos when he’d attained his majority? Would…

    “I…” Andronikos started to speak, before stopping. He looked back at the servants—ears that would hear the words he was about to say. “I want to honor him… at the triumph. It’d be… fitting, appropriate,” the Megas Komnenos went on, “and it’d look good to the Prince of Istria, as well as the old guard who were around when my stepfather ran things. In a way,” Andronikos’ smiled a little, “this was the victory he’d hoped for—Gabriel humbled, Romanion victorious.”

    By Romanion, Andronikos meant himself—he was, after all, Romanion. It was fitting, the Emperor reassured himself. Von Franken had spent the last two decades of his life trying to keep Gabriel from the Throne of Caesars, and a large chunk of that time trying to set Andronikos on the throne. The latest campaign had capped what had been Albrecht’s final life goals.

    It was fitting, Andronikos told himself again.

    “I wonder what he would’ve thought about the triumph…” Andronikos murmured.

    “Hmm?” Angelos asked.

    “I…nevermind,” the Megas Komnenos waved his hand slightly. It wasn’t important—von Franken had been collecting worms for two weeks already. His thought didn’t really matter. The chance to use his name at the triumph to add even more luster to the imperial name—that was what truly mattered now. Albrecht would’ve approved of that, surely…

    “Of course,” Angelos nodded, “What should I arrange?”

    “A riderless horse following mine,” Andronikos thought aloud, “with the von Franken coat of arms on the saddle blanket. Backward boots in the stirrups, that sort of affair,” the emperor waved his hand. “Have a herald carry the von Franken standard behind the horse, just in front of Gabriel—that’ll annoy the old prat even more. I’ll modify my speech at the Hippodrome—mention his dedication, officially rehabilitate him, despite his error at Barcelona…”

    “Won’t using the standard…”



    “Hesso won’t mind,” Andronikos shook his head. “I’m going to marry his sister. If the German has half a brain, he’ll realize von Franken’s honoring is a political stunt, not a statement about where Romanion thinks the German crown should lie. I’ll be marrying his sister after all…”

    “God willing,” Angelos agreed, before nodding ahead. “Your study,” he unnecessarily announced. “There’s a great deal of paperwork in there waiting to embrace you. Everything that needed your attention that could be delayed, or simply arrived in the last couple days.” He smiled thinly. “Enough to keep you busy until nightfall, when I have a surprise for you in my chambers over in the Great Palace.”

    “A surprise?” Andronikos crossed his arms.

    “Something that will make up for the monotony you are about to sink into,” Angelos’ smile grew into a smirk. “It’ll uplift your spirits—it has to do with Safiya’s punishment...”

    ==========*==========


    Hours later…

    Andronikos stalked through the halls of the Great Palace three hours later, annoyed.

    Even on campaign, couriers had brought important documents for him to sign on the march, but Andronikos had forgotten simply how much ink running the Empire spilled every day! While Ioannis had been Regent in Konstantinopolis, there were affairs that were simply beyond his capacity to end—so those parchments had piled high, waiting for the return of the Emperor’s personal attention.

    Most were inane—appointing new secretaries, grain monitors, requisitions, payments—the miniutae that nonetheless needed the personal signature and seal of the Emperor, not his Regent, and not some hapless logothetes. It irked Andronikos to no end.

    So as he threw open the doors to Ioannis Angelos’ chambers, he wasn’t in the best of moods. He hoped his friend had something relaxing or hilarious planned—if Angelos was turning into a Mehtar Lainez, or was simply pulling a prank, Andronikos swore, friend or no, he’d cuff Angelos in the…

    “What is that?” Andronikos’ pace, like his thoughts, skidded to a halt at the sight.

    Ioannis Angelos, the man who’d supervised the murder of a city and gleefully spied on or outright gutted the enemies of the Emperor, stood in the middle of the room, bouncing a gurgling baby up and down. The child squealed, and a tiny hand roughly grabbed part of Angelos’ beard.

    “Hey now,” Ioannis gently pushed the baby’s fingers away, before turning to Andronikos. “Andronikos, this is your son!” he beamed.



    “My…son?” Andronikos asked slightly. The child squealed again, leaning forward to reach for the dancing light of a candle. Angelos pulled the boy back.

    “Yes, by my wife!” Angelos laughed.

    “By Safiya?” Andronikos repeated slowly. His mind went back to that hazy night, her undoing his trousers, and… he shook his head quickly. Had it been that long? Yes… it’d been almost a year! Confusion flashed through Andronikos’ mind—what to do? That initial reaction quickly disappeared.

    Anger took over.

    “Take the brat away,” Andronikos hissed, “and why haven’t you done anything to that little hussy yet?” She’d given birth?! That…that was terrible! He’d sired with her?!

    Ioannis laughed—that cold, baying laugh he gave when he talked about death. “I didn’t have to do anything—the little one did it for me!” Angelos swung the child around gently. The boy squealed with delight.

    He punished her?” Andronikos asked, eyebrow raised. “How…”

    “She died in childbirth,” Angelos winked, before cooing at the boy again. “Yes, you killed your mommy when you were born, didn’t you?” The child squirmed, then giggled at the attention.

    Instantly, Andronikos’ felt the weight of the day lifting from his shoulders.

    “She… she died?” he asked, before snorting. “In childbirth?”

    “Yes,” Angelos nodded. “This little one decided to come into the world the wrong way,” Angelos cooed, “and really strained his mother’s health. I’m sure the churigeon’s did all they could, but…” he bounced the baby again, “she passed on, freeing me to remarry!” Ioannis smirked, before handing the baby towards the Emperor. “I thought I’d wait to ask your permission, first. “I was thinking your cousin Michael’s sister… she’s got a great bosom on her…”

    Andronikos paid no attention as he took the child… yes, he saw his eyes, his nose on that little face, a smattering of ruddy hair on his scalp. The child had to be his. As soon as he had the babe in his arms, the little one grabbed onto his tunic fiercely. The baby boy had no fear, unsteadily raising his head until he looked the Emperor of the Known World directly in the eyes. The boy whined, wide eyes looking at the new face with unease.

    “Fresh out of the womb, and you’re taking care of a problem for your father,” Andronikos cooed softly. The baby smiled. “Does he have a name?”

    “Not formally,” Angelos rubbed the boy’s head. “I was waiting for you. We’ve been calling him Manuel, though.”

    “Manuel?” Andronikos looked up, and snorted. “The irony… naming a child who killed his mother in birth, ‘Savior.’ Yes,” Andronikos rubbed the baby’s nose, “you saved your father from that wench that embarrassed him! Ioannis!” Andronikos looked up, “Anyone know of his parentage?”

    “He is known as the natural son of an unknown noble. Safiya’s pregnancy was a quiet affair at my family villa,” Ioannis shrugged. “The distance from the city made her… birth… more predictably difficult,” Angelos grinned.

    It could be disastrous if the boy’s true parentage should come out—the Megas Komnenos had no doubt there would be some fool who would see the child as the final union between the Komnenoi dynastic lines, someone with the blood of the Thomasines and the Spanish lines all in one.

    Someday.

    For now, Manuel was no more than a gurgling baby, slowly falling asleep in his father’s arms.

    “Ah,” Andronikos smiled broadly. “I think we shall keep him,” Andronikos declared. “He amuses me. Declare he is my natural son by some… servant girl,” Andronikos waved his hand dismissively.

    “I’ll concoct a useful story. One of the servants that tended to Safiya?”

    “Excellent,” Andronikos nodded. “I shouldn’t have too…”

    “They’ve already all been executed on trumped up charges,” Angelos smiled. “Every midwife, every servant. Funny, how family baubles end up conveniently missing?” He reached over and rubbed the child’s head. “I thought you’d like to keep the other half of his ancestry quiet.”

    Andronikos nodded, before staring back at the sleeping babe. “He’ll be raised at your estate. Keep me informed of his progress as he grows. Little boy,” he held the now peacefully sleeping child at eye level, “you won’t miss much by not knowing your mother…”

    ==========*==========



    So we reach the final end of the story arc—Albrecht has died, Gabriel is in exile… but is Andronikos having second thoughts? Andronikos also did indeed have a bastard by Safiya—a child named Manuel, who by that ugly flail in his hand, has a bright future ahead of him! There have been tons of previews here as well—sections of this might be the Wikileaks of Rome AARisen, if such a thing existed. The story will continue next week (or the week after, Christmas is coming after all!), with the next chapter:

    A Nest of Vipers
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  11. #5291


    Noooooo! The most powerful German, nay, the most powerful Roman never to have worn the purple is dead! I am also very, very sad to see Gabriel defeated, but the fact that his descendants have obviously kept enough power to have the throne of Persia named after him is quite comforting. I can't recall, does Andie have any other children? Though even if he does, and if this Manuel is even half of the man his namesake was, he'll surely poison his brothers...as soon as he learns to walk

    For me, Albrecht's death is the most powerful scene in a long, long while. Gabriel's (late) apology and Andie's...remorse? Is it truly remorse? I didn't actually think the chap's capable of such a thing. Still, the fact that Andie isn't actually the huge bastard I thought he was is kinda surprising. This is, to me at least, the most powerful update since the death of Thomas III.

  12. #5292
    Black Hound of Han Enewald's Avatar
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    inbred bastard, I see?
    The reign of Homo Komnenus is about to start properly...

  13. #5293
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    So he really did sire a son with Safiya

    I like how this update gave us the overview of what's going on... the state of the Roman world, as it stands at its apex. With a very fitting look back to where it came from, and shadows of the things that are to come.

    The little baby will no doubt prove immensely destabilizing at some point. If his parentage is found out. It's very fitting for Andronikos' hybris at this point that he only looks at the child thinking how it brought about something useful to him (Safiya's death) but, does not spend a thought on the potential dangers that this boy's life poses to his rule once he comes of age. He's such an arrogant bastard! Exactly the right man to rule over the empire at its peak, just before the decline.

    By the way, what by what title do the kings of Germany style themselves? Andronikos calls him the king of the Germans (understandably) but wouldn't they call themselves Emperors of the West?

  14. #5294
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    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT View Post
    Italy - Most of the city-states are fine rendering taxes to the empire if trade continues to flow uninterrupted. By being a part of the Empire cities from Genoa to Venice are essentially plugged into the greatest trade network in Europe, with direct, secure links with trade routes throughout the known world. Something drastic has to happen to get some of these cities to consider 'breaking the umbilical cord' and try to break free again. Adding to that, the most likely organizer/focal point for a future rebellion has been offered a crown in Samarkand...
    The Komnenoid propaganda has been very successful, if that is how the Italians see their position. So they don't mind being lorded over by foreigners and paying taxes to support Imperial military and construction projects far away from Italy? Sounds like the Phoenician cities in the Persian empire. I'm lookinf forward to the day when the Italian love for independence reasserts itself.

    IIRC you mentioned earlier that at some point, you stopped playing "to win" and instead playing for story. At what time in the game did that occur?

  15. #5295
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Wow, BT. That update turned out marvelously. I'd say it belongs in the top ten for sure, but I'm not sure there's room for it there what with the twenty other entries and all.

  16. #5296
    A new Manuel, oh be still my fluttering heart! Here's to hoping he's half as awesome as he last one

  17. #5297
    Romanorum Imperator Augustus asd21593's Avatar
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    Wonderful, I feel like Manuel's gonna be a great general and conqueror from that picture. Though of course, in perfect Roman tragic form, he'll try to usurp the throne and fail causing chaos.
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  18. #5298
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    The latest updates have truly been great!
    I'd hope for a reborn Gardener, but the man in the picture looks too martial... Some kind of Battle-Manuel perhaps?
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

  19. #5299
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    “Yes, you killed your mommy when you were born, didn’t you?” The child squirmed, then giggled at the attention.
    Dark humor: me like!

  20. #5300
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    I don't think it's a coincidence this single update marks not one, but two unions of two enormously important bloodlines.

    A pity that Gabriel's letter probably never did reach Albrecht in time. Good that his passing gave Andronikos pause. Good for there to be a little uncertainty in Smuggy McSmuggerton's disposition.

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