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Thread: Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR

  1. #5381
    First Lieutenant cezar87's Avatar

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    Fantastic update BT!!! Fantastic enough to rouse me from my Lazy Lurker's Lair.

    The moment when Ibn Tamiyyah said "NO!" to the Romans and chose to stand up for what he believed in, even when faced with certain death was epic. Even more so than many of the epic battles and plots that have come and gone over the course of this story. And then Alexandros granting him his freedom for having the backbone to do that was a moment powerful enough to almost make me cry. It truly shows what Alex is made of. With a wise man like him leading Persia I'm sure that the future state will flourish, despite outside attempts to destroy it. While I might have been a supporter of Andi in the past I'm now firmly behind the Gabrielids.

    I also have a little observation. Andi is the most... um...productive emperor since the Megas. His brood of children is huge. And they're mostly legitimate males to boot. On top of that, only those by Cecilia can legally inherit, despite Doryotta's children being just as legitimate. If this isn't a disaster in the making, I don't know what is.

    Manuel is turning out nicely so far. He's intelligent and well versed in palace politics already but isn't showing any of the bloodthirstiness that Ioannis has. But there's plenty of time for that. And he's also another factor to be taken into account in the succession. He might not know who his mother is yet, but he'll find out eventually. Of that I'm sure. And when that happens things will get really messy.

    As a long term prediction on my part: Manuel will succeed Ioannis as head of the Oikoi. Combined with knowledge of his true parentage, it will lead to the problems foreshadowed in one of the first updates to feature the Oikoi. He will most likely hijack the Oikoi to his own ends. But I could be wrong.
    Last edited by cezar87; 10-01-2011 at 00:39.

  2. #5382
    Excellent update. I look forward to the rivalry between the Empire and the French being revived. I'd almost forgotten they were still there, lets hope they don't disappoint.
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  3. #5383
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    Sergei Meranov - Its a longstanding one, and it's fallen by the wayside after the Capetian Empire collapsed. Hugues is no Drogo, and neither is Gaston--but together, along with the Papacy and perhaps the Germans, they could rival Drogo II's original power...

    cezar87 – From a standpoint of having honor and decency, Alexandros wanted to release ibn Taymiyyah at that point—Alex II is impressed most of all by bravery, something Taymiyyah showed directly in his face. Future Romans will rue the day, but Alex isn’t concerned with that!

    As for Andi’s productivity—he’s [i]almost[/ i] to the level of Demetrios Megas and Manuel. Just for comparison:

    Demetrios Megas legitimate sons: Michael, Christophoros, Nikolaios, Ignatios, Romanos, Manuel, Demetrios (7). From the Megas came four of the major Komnenoi branches.

    Manuel I’s legitimate sons: Demetrios, Basil, Niketas, Leo, Theodoros, Eudoxios, Enguerrand (7). From Manuel’s children continued one branch of the Komnenoi, and four more branches began.

    Andronikos I’s legitimate sons: Demetrios, Nikephoros, Alexios, Theodoros, Leo, Konstantinos (6), as well as one bastard Manuel.

    If they all survive to gain lands and have progeny, Andronikos is well on his way to being yet another major branching point in the Komnenoi family tree, on par with the progenitors of the major branches thus far.

    Kirsch27 – Taymiyyah was rescued from Barcelona by his stepfather, abu-Tayyif, who then moved as far from Barcelona as he could… all the way to Mecca for a while, which is how Taymiyyah ended up in the Middle East. The trauma of Barcelona’s still with him—and one of the reasons he is so convinced that to work with the Roman is simply not an option.

    As for the kids, Konstantinos and Leo really are too young to know much about. Leo’s personality is leaning towards whiny, but there’s time to change. The others do seem kind of bratty.

    As for Doryotta, the Cardinal really doesn’t care if there was a murder, he just wants to set up the pretext for one. They don’t really know in Paris if Andronikos did her in, they just want to convince her brother that the Emperor killed her. Lies can easily be twisted into truth, if only the ears hearing want it to be so…


    FlyingDutchie – Well, there’s a perfect storm in the wind, should all those things come together. Individually, Romanion could survive any one (or possibly any two) of those, but all of them? The big question is… will it all come at once? And even if it doesn’t, there’s no guarantee the new generation won’t squander it all…

    von Sachsen – Demetrios is, in many ways, a shadow of the founder of the dynasty. Could Romanion survive a second Demetrios in the mold of the first? Will this Demetrios live up[i/] to that name (only one previous Demetrios has come close, Demetrios [u]Nearos, the youngest son of the Megas who went on to become a clever general, Megas Domestikos, and a stalwart supporter of his brother and later nephew).

    Calipah – Wondered when you’d stop by. And it seems like there’s a fair number of people who liked Taymiyyah.

    armoristan – Yup Alexandros is merely referring to his own empire in its native tongue—the Persification/Farsification (not sure which term is apt) of the Romans in Persia has begun in earnest…

    Qorten – If Demetrios inherits with his current attitude and traits, he’d need as much help from calmer, less bellicose brothers as possible (something like how Nikolaios made the Megas’ later reign much more fruitful). Men can change, so who knows… the bellicose 18 year old who can’t keep his trousers up could always become a pious 30 year old with a much wiser view of the world. Sadly it usually takes trauma for that kind of change to happen, but it does sometimes…

    Saithis – Who should have known better? Alexandros for letting Taymiyyah go? Andronikos for having so many kids? The French for thinking they can take a bite out of Romanion?

    Tommy4ever – All I’ll say about the coming collapse is one—it starts before the end of the century, and two-the next book’s (as opposed to chapter) title is When the Foundations of the World Shake

    asd21593 – France alone can’t do it, but if the Pope can get Germany involved, it suddenly becomes a lot dicier for the Romans. If the Danes and Persians dogpile, it suddenly becomes a challenge perhaps even Basil couldn’t face…

    RGB – It wasn’t really a conscious decision to go that route when presenting Taymiyyah. I just tried to place myself in the shoes of someone who was certain that The Divine was on his side, and his people would rise again. At points I winced because it comes perilously close to apeing tropes of either Crusaders or fundamentalists, I’m glad in your opinion it didn’t cross over into becoming a caricature. Future Romans will wish Alexandros had executed him on the spot, but great men often have luck on their side early on before they have the power to twist fate in their direction…

    4th Dimenion – Well, Nikephoros is a young adult and Manuel hasn’t observed anything crazy about him yet… or anything crazy about any of the children (save maybe Demetrios bedding everything in sight). Compared to the long list of Thomases, that’s gotta be a good sign, right?

    Zzzzz… – I wanted to get the story moving closer to the final tipping point, and I’ll admit, introducing her was a little red herring on my part. Her big role is a) siring four more Komnenoi sons to Andronikos, and b) the alliance between Romanion and her brother is at a tipping point. Will it stay? Will the two end up at war? I had more planned for Doryotta originally, but like a lot of characters, pacing has necessitated her being shuffled off into the dustbin of history… If I ever come back and make substories off of this monstrous main one, Andronikos and Doryotta would make a fabulous one.

    vanin – Interesting question, assuming she was murdered. Who would’ve done it? Few people would have the means to murder a sitting empress, so it was likely someone wealthy and important. Maybe the Danes want Romanion to be distracted by war? Maybe the Germans want out of their alliance? Gottfried von Franken is starting trouble? Right now, the list of suspects, if this was a homicide, is almost endless…

    Enewald – Not yet… Bourgogne, Toulouse and Aquitaine are still running around as independent duchies allied with the Roman Empire. Andronikos has given them court ranks in Konstantinopolis even if they never visit, they’re arguably more client states than full allies—the Romans view them as valuable speed bumps to slow the French down should they lumber that way. Pax Mongolica will likely start bringing a few more innovations west…and the pace of military innovations imported will likely go up once the collapse begins, as groups seek to one up each other…

    …though the Persians and Transoxanians have the most direct access to any innovations from that direction…

    Carlstadt Boy – Getting bogged down is exactly what I’m trying to avoid, especially considering how close we are to the fun downhill fall!

    Vesimir – As of this update, Demetrios is likely Kaisar in all but name, but Andronikos has not formally named either him or Nikephoros. Next update sheds some light on which way Nikephoros is leaning with his choice. I’m glad people like Alexandros II also—he’s been hinted at and foreshadowed for a long long time, I simply want to do him justice on the awesome scale.

    vadermath – Hahaha! Everyone forgets there was a day, when Romanion was led by Basil, no less, that “the French are coming” was a fearful and dreaded statement! Maybe Gaston can prod Hugues into making that statement something to be feared once more?

    The_Archduke – Interesting comparison between Andronikos and Manuel—Manuel gave us Basil the Conqueror/the Magnificent as his heir, and he did everything in his power to make sure the succession to his son was smooth. Andronikos has a warlike son and a more peaceful (but still martially skilled) son… will he ensure just as smooth a succession?


    Next update I’m starting work on today! Hopefully it will be up Thursday or Friday, depending on how things go…
    Last edited by General_BT; 10-01-2011 at 19:21. Reason: added comment for Sergei Meranov :)
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  4. #5384
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    Normally, I'm happy to get an aproximation on update time. However by Thursday, much of Brisbane will be under water, and I will likely have no internet. Oh well, guess it'll give me something to look forward to. On topic, I think I like either Manuel or Nikephoros for Andi's sucessor. Demetrios would only drain the empires resources on pointless campaigns for glory. But, seeing as the Roman world is supposed to disintegrate shortly, I suspect that Demetrios will end up on the throne. As always, exellent writing BT, and awaiting what happens next.

  5. #5385
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    So the story has made a jump of around 15 years forward... interesting to see the turmoil in Iraq and the Arab world in general. I'm very curious to see what happens there - looks almost like Muslims are having their own reformation, complete with different sects and various offshoots, centuries before the Christians have theirs. Very interesting to see what this means for the Muslim world to have their faith re-interpreted so thoroughly and diversely.

    As for the eventual fall of the world's foundations... BRING IT ON!!!

    Incidentally, I just came back from vacation in Thailand where I did some touring of historical sites. One of those sites was the city of Ayutthaya, a small town right next to the ruins of an old city of the same name that used to be the magnificent capital of Thailand for 400 years, full of golden temples and close to one million inhabitants, until it was besieged and completely destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. Wandering through the ruins of that city (temple ruins, brick and plaster, very similar to European construction techniques of the same time) made be muse about the transitory nature of all human-made things. Nothing lasts forever, not even the most beautiful and wondrous things. Anyways, when I came back from vacation, I read with amusement the pleas of some posters here that Constantinople should not be destroyed... As if you could freeze time and preserve beauty forever. No, I'm sure the city will have its traumas eventually, even if right now it's the largest and by far most magnificent city this side of the Himalaya.

  6. #5386
    Im somewhat surprised to be looking forward to the impending collapse of The Empire, I hope we get a period of escalating pressure rather than a single cataclysmic event, mostly because that'd give Manuel a chance to spend his life heroically struggling against the tide (I have a thing for doomed causes and last stands).
    @ Leviathan07: Im sure that The City will have its share of troubles, but I honestly just cant see it actually destroyed, most everyone I can think of who might besiege it would rather capture it than destroy it, The City is just too big a status symbol to be destroyed. Aside from that as long as it's propperly defended I just dont see how anyone could capture it to begin with, not with the kind of defences its got.

  7. #5387
    Sergeant Clydwich's Avatar

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    He, Mehmed II, on conquering the city in 1453 did reportly kill some of his own soldiers that were damaging the buildings after the three day sack. He is rumoured to have said: you can have the gold, I want to have the city.
    I know not who i am, but i do know where i'm going....

  8. #5388
    Mare Ban al Olteniei Laur's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clydwich View Post
    He, Mehmed II, on conquering the city in 1453 did reportly kill some of his own soldiers that were damaging the buildings after the three day sack. He is rumoured to have said: you can have the gold, I want to have the city.
    Yes, the Turks did indeed respect the city more than the Crusaders did in 1204. However, that is not a guarantee of the city being preserved given that in those days most armies were payed in loot.
    "When I lead my army against Baghdad in anger, whether you hide in heaven or in earth, I will bring you down from the spinning spheres; I will toss you in the air like a lion. I will leave no one alive in your realm; I will burn your city, your land, your self.

    If you wish to spare yourself and your venerable family, give heed to my advice with the ear of intelligence. If you do not, you will see what God has willed."

    Hulagu Khan (letter to the last Caliph of Baghdad 1258)

  9. #5389
    Rättshaverist FrozenWall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laur View Post
    that is not a guarantee of the city being preserved given that in those days most armies were payed in loot.
    Quite, while some kings and pretenders may value its history, culture and arts the common soldier would probably care little. Especially after a long and costy war and siege. Plus, the Venetians cared little of its old glories and pillaged most anything which they could carry home. Should say the Germans get their hands on it it is entirely possible they would consider it a Carthago to be strewn with salt, never mind the loss of its contributions to culture and whatnots...


    On a sidenote; I just realized why I recognized this "Comyn" name. They were one of the main Scottish noble houses jostling for the crown with de Bruce & co, holding the title of Guardian of Scotland. Bruce lured him to a church in Dumfries and had him killed and went on to claim the crown.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_II...rd_of_Badenoch

    Now, since the Comyns of this history are Byzantines I somehow doubt they would fall for such clumsy intrigue.
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  10. #5390
    Programer armonistan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrozenWall View Post

    On a sidenote; I just realized why I recognized this "Comyn" name. They were one of the main Scottish noble houses jostling for the crown with de Bruce & co, holding the title of Guardian of Scotland. Bruce lured him to a church in Dumfries and had him killed and went on to claim the crown.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_II...rd_of_Badenoch

    Now, since the Comyns of this history are Byzantines I somehow doubt they would fall for such clumsy intrigue.
    Read the link, very interesting. I have increased my knowledge about Scotland by at least a 100% *level up!!*.
    Good job AlexanderPrimus for being so sneaky
    Last edited by armonistan; 13-01-2011 at 05:27. Reason: Giving credit where credit was due. Thank you AlexanderPrimus!

  11. #5391
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by armonistan View Post
    Read the link, very interesting. I have increased my knowledge about Scotland by at least a 100% *level up!!*.
    Typical BT sneaking in historical names
    The Comyn-Komnenos parallel was something I devised for the first Antemios guest update that I did for BT. In fact, a young John Comyn the Red actually makes a little cameo there.

  12. #5392
    Programer armonistan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexanderPrimus View Post
    The Comyn-Komnenos parallel was something I devised for the first Antemios guest update that I did for BT. In fact, a young John Comyn the Red actually makes a little cameo there.
    Oh!! Dude!! I am so sorry, I forgot you were the one that blessed us with the lolsy and awesome Scotland side story. Thank you so much for writing that! Again very sorry for such a stupid mistake...

  13. #5393
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by armonistan View Post
    Oh!! Dude!! I am so sorry, I forgot you were the one that blessed us with the lolsy and awesome Scotland side story. Thank you so much for writing that! Again very sorry for such a stupid mistake...
    No worries mate!

  14. #5394
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siind View Post
    @ Leviathan07: Im sure that The City will have its share of troubles, but I honestly just cant see it actually destroyed, most everyone I can think of who might besiege it would rather capture it than destroy it, The City is just too big a status symbol to be destroyed. Aside from that as long as it's propperly defended I just dont see how anyone could capture it to begin with, not with the kind of defences its got.
    Cities are very rarely destroyed intentionally. Except to make examples... (sack of barcelona in the story... in real history f.ex. the sack of Magdeburg in the 30YW) but then Constantinople is too much of a prize to be razed. Even if the Germans take it, they'll probably just loot it and that would not really hurt the city so badly.

    What really hurt the city in 1204 and beyond was not the pillaging (although from an arts&culture standpoint that was a tragedy of course). The real damage to the city was caused by the decades of neglect that followed. The crusaders made it their capital but it didn't even take them a year to lose most of what was supposed to be their Latin Empire to the Bulgars, Greeks and others. And of the lands that remained loyal to the Latin Emperor, they were unable to extract much taxes. So they ended up with this HUGE city with all these marvelous palaces and buildings, but had almost no money at all with which to maintain it. The palaces fell into disrepair, damaged roofs were not replaced, and of course many people left the city which added to the problems.

    When the Nicaeans recovered it in 1261 they brought a large treasury with them and did some repairs, but they too presided over a much reduced empire and could not prevent further losses of tax revenues. The city had its ups and downs until the 15th century but for the most part it declined. The Ottoman conquest was a blessing for the city (at least if you consider just the architectural point of view, and that of its inhabitants) since it brought it a prosperity which the city had not seen for a long time. When Mehmet seized the city large parts of it had collapsed into rubble, and what used to be the outskirts of the city east of the walls was fields of grass and dust.

    This is the sort of fate that awaits a city which falls from glory. It doesn't require a cathastrophical sack to turn the Kosmodion and the other magnificent churches into rubble... just a few decades of neglect. IIRC the Hagia Sophia was also in a pretty decrepit state when the Turks took the city... the Sultans greatly reinforced its structures over the years, without those reinforcements it would eventually have collapsed after an earthquake. It's not "natural" for a city to remain unhurt by the passage of time - buildings decay, even the most magnificent palaces. Sometimes people are even glad when a large, old building finally collapses. "Finally that old ruin is gone", they say, and rather then wasting tears on the memories of old times they are happy that beggars, robbers and wild animals now have one less refuge. When Arab pirates terrorized the Italian coasts in the 9th and 10th centuries, the locals would often tear down the old Roman seaside ruins to deny the pirates refuge. This is what happened to the seaside palaces of the last Roman emperors in Naples - they had survived the centuries but when pirates used them as refuges, the locals tore them all down.

    Sometimes also, people come to regard old ruins not as positive reminders of a glorious past... I remember reading a book by Tom Holland where he describes Europe at the turn of the year 1000, where he describes how the German emperors would travel south into Italy, and all across the countryside there were still Roman ruins. It was eerie because the Italians themselves had long since moved their (much reduced) towns away from the old ruins, onto more easily defensible hills and such sites, and regarded the Roman ruins as dreadful things, where they did not like to go. The emperors, passing by on their way to Rome, reportedly felt haunted by those ruins, as if they cast a long shadow over them, a reminder that they did not measure up to the Roman emperors of old and their world.

    I wonder if BT will give us glimpses into such a future... There was one interlude (by Calipah?) where, in the modern day, some professor from Thessaloniki commented on how some unspecified parts of formerly Roman Europe had become a "fallout-ridden wasteland" or some such. It would be fascinating to eventually get a glimpse into the future that expands on this small comment. Readers might recognize some familiar places
    Last edited by Leviathan07; 13-01-2011 at 13:35.

  15. #5395
    This was an extremely interesting read, Leviathan! I never considered these things myself before, but this post of yours really got me thinking.

  16. #5396
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    Yeah, I agree with Vadermath that was a very interesting passage Leviathan. I never really thought about how the people of the early middle ages would have regarded the grandiose ruins that surrounded them.

  17. #5397
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    Leviathan07, vadermath and Tommy4ever – I told my students back when I was teaching to imagine a Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic world. You’re walking around, and you are surrounded by the shadows of immense skyscrapers, overgrown roads, broken pieces of technology. You might know what they once were, maybe what they did, but you had no idea how to replicate them, or use them. To early medieval Europe, that is how it felt to walk amongst the Roman ruins—one would be awed, confused, and frightened by them at the same time (for as Leviathan notes, they often became havens for bandits or other undesirable creatures).

    Thanks for the post Leviathan! What was your reason for being in Thailand? Vacation?

    AlexanderPrimus – I think the mob wants another Scottish update when you have the time, sir.

    Frozenwall and armoristan – Yup! The Scottish Komnenoi are AlexanderPrimus’ baby. I just provided him with names and the locations they moved to, and he filled in the rest of the story—and what a wonderful job he did!

    Siind, Clydwich and Laur – Well, armies often didn’t set out to loot and burn cities, but when pillage was a source of pay, soldiers often got out of hand, especially if a city resisted for a long time. It usually wasn’t in the conqueror’s interest for their new conquest to be sacked and burned—it’d ruin the area for a long time, dragging down his other domains. Often, when it did happen it was either as a warning (a la the Mongols), retribution, or a loss of command and control over the army once the city fell.

    Frrf – Hopefully you’re high and dry! Well, if the Romans are lucky maybe Demetrios will grow into something great. But just because a good man is on the throne, doesn’t necessarily mean things will go well…


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    Well, its done and ready to go! Enjoy!




    “A man who acts with honor only when it is convenient is no man at all. He is a coward, and he will reap the coward’s prize of discontent.” – Alexandros II Komnenos, Basilieus ton Persion, Shahanshah Ērānshahr


    August 1st, 1285

    Konstantinopolis


    “Please be seated.”

    Andronikos Komnenos, Megas Komnenos and Autocrat of the Romans, uneasily settled into his throne. Before this morning, today’s meeting of the Inner Council was supposed to be a lighthearted affair—there was serious business of course, such as what to do about the Prince of Cyrenaica declaring war on the Prince of Leptis Magna, but such a matter was trivial. The two would be brought to Konstantinopolis, just like Galilee and Tyre the previous year, and castigated/threatened into a compromise.



    Instead of hearing about the latest reports on the University of Konstantinopolis, or Konstantinos entertaining the aristocracy with his first attempt at playing the lyre, Andronikos had to contend with grim faces and even grimmer news. Part of him wanted to congratulate fate on the poetic irony of the moment—the sun was shining, with nary a cloud in sight. Birds were happily singing outside the windows of the Kosmodion, even as dark news of war was discussed inside those stone walls.

    “Syrenios, Ioannis,” Andronikos motioned quietly, tearing his eyes from the outside and back into the world he was mired in. This meeting was smaller than normal—the Emperor brought only his highest logothetes, as well as all the pertinent strategoi in the city he could lay his hands on.

    “Majesty,” Antemios Syrenios bowed first to the throne, “My Lords and Ladies,” he then bowed to the rest. “It has come to the attention of many of our agents that plots are afoot in the West—plots that conspire to seize Your Majesty’s territory and usurp Your Majesty’s rightful rule in Italy and possibly Spain.”

    Andronikos raised an eyebrow. “His Holiness, the Most Innocent Pope Celestine?” the Emperor asked darkly.

    “Indeed,” the Archeoikos nodded, “as well as King Hugues of France, and possibly Emperor Hesso in Germany.”

    Andronikos swallowed slightly. So…what every Emperor since the Megaloprepis had feared was coming to pass. War with France and Germany at once, far from Romanion’s center of power in the East. Very well.

    “How accurate is this information?” Andronikos asked.

    “We’ve received reports,” the Archekronokrateros said grimly, before nodding. Two servants brought an enormous map of France, Germany and Italy to the table, then rolled it out. Quickly, turquoise and malachite chits found their way onto the map.

    “These are the latest reports from our agents,” Syrenios said a moment later. “Our man in the court of the Duc de Normandie sent word that his lord received a summons to marshal, with all his retainers, outside of Orleans on the First of May next year. Other agents in other courts have reported similar summons, as well as a papal bull from Trier, decreeing that any vassal who does not obey the feudal call of his lord while the lord is on a Holy Mission will be excommunicated and forfeit his right to call himself a part of the Christian brotherhood.”

    “Do we know what this Holy Mission is?” Romanos of Cordoba, Megas Domestikos, asked with concern. A veteran of Segeo’s Revolt and Gabriel’s invasion, he was without a doubt the best known Roman officer alive—and fortunately a stalwart supporter of the Emperor. “Is it Rome?”

    “Considering His Holiness’ requests to return to Rome have changed to demands in more recent letters,” Ioannis Angelos sighed, “I think it’s safe to say the Holy Mission is the conquest of Italy.”

    “The Franks would do such a thing easily,” spat Isaakios Bataczes, commander of the Boreios Stratos and second ranking officer present. “But the Germans? Only a few months ago they were allied with His Majesty.”

    “My agents report the same papal bull arriving in courts from Aachen to Pest,” Angelos grunted. “There have been no summons as of yet. However, there was one report out of Aachen itself—the pope’s man, a Cardinal von Falkenburg, visited Hesso in chambers with ‘news of his sister.’ The emperor stormed out of his chambers afterwards, furious.”

    “Furious?” Andronikos frowned—word of Doryotta’s death had undoubtedly been in Aachen for several months. “Was your agent able to ferret out what this news was?”

    “Not precisely, Majesty,” Ioannis said, “but he did pick up one important word—poison.”



    Instantly, all eyes flashed up towards Andronikos, and the Emperor felt his face flush. It wasn’t embarrassment, or guilt—but anger. Fury. Did he love Doryotta? No! But the late Empress knew her role, and knew her place. She kept out of his way, and while she was no lover, she was an able partner! She was good to his children, and caused no scandal, no trouble at court. Andronikos Komnenos had never loved the woman, but by God he missed her already!

    Andronikos clenched his teeth—careful, he told himself. Those eyes, whether they said with their tongues or not, were questioning. Everyone present knew Andronikos used the cloak and dagger as well as open dialogue. If he overreacted, if he exploded like he wanted, he’d play into the hands of men like von Falkenburg!

    “I was not aware that lies were in fashion with His Holiness,” the Emperor let his voice lay quiet, his hiss deadly as a viper. He looked each of those eyes squarely—looks could speak far more truthfully than words. Some looked down in shame, others looked away. Some looked back, but that questioning, doubting look in their depths faded away. They had all seen how Andronikos and Doryotta got along for the previous decade. They all knew the truth.

    “It seems then that war is coming,” the Megas Domestikos grunted. “If Hesso believes those falsehoods…”

    “War,” the Megas Komnenos nodded. Problems ran through his mind, threats, counters, the mass of Europe a chessboard and armies, agents and kings pieces in the Emperor’s mind.

    To be truthful, France alone did not concern Andronikos. Yes, her chancilier had slowly been remaking her cumbersome feudal army, creating three gendarmeries that looked and smelled almost like tagmata. Yes, her cavalry was understandably feared. But Andronikos knew his uncle’s military reforms, punctuated by his own own touches twenty years before, had been geared towards making the frontier armies more self-sufficient, and better able to respond to threats. The latest incarnation of the Hispanikon Stratos, 13 line and thematakoi tagmata strong, was formed to face one threat, and one threat alone—Capetian France. The Roman alliances with Aquitaine, Bourgogne and Toulouse was solely to stall the French long enough that the mass of the Hispanikon, if needbe all 80,000 in the field army, could march across the Pyrenees and fight the war on French soil.



    Germany was far larger, and should her nobility all toe the line, she’d bring nearly double the men to a war. But whilst France had some semblance of a standing army in the 10,000 men of the gendarmerie, should Hesso march to war his army would be the standard feudal mass the Arpads had used for the previous two centuries to solve their troubles—nobles ahorse dragging unwilling peasants behind, with mercenaries and sellswords hired willy-nilly to plug gaps. The force would be huge, yes… it’d also be unwieldy and difficult to manage under even the best of circumstances. If Hesso decided to come over the Alps, the Italikon Stratos could easily block the Alpine passes with its 9 tagmata. Should he strike over the Hungarian plain, the Haemutikon had only 3 tagmata of its own, but directly backing it was the Palatoikoi, as well as the rest of the Basilikon itself—130,000 of the best soldiers in the empire.

    No, Andronikos shook his head—Germany was not the threat of the two. If France could get her forces south quickly enough—or Aquitaine, Toulouse and Bourgogne fell fast enough, the Hispanikon could be trapped in the Pyrenees…

    Time was of the essence. If Hugues was planning on war next spring, the Hispanikon had to in the Pyrenees passes as soon as spring’s thaw.

    “The Burgundians?”Andronikos murmured. There was a possible threat. In his two decades on the throne, Dietmar had used the Roman mercenaries that’d put him there to form the core of a new army, one nearly half composed of semi-standing formations, paid for by Dietmar’s extensive coffers. If Dietmar moved with the Pope…

    ...Andronikos frowned. Why would he? How could he? Dietmar and the Papacy, ever since Pope Celestine X had declared Hugues Capet to be the true King of Burgundy only months before Dietmar’s triumph, had never seen eye to eye. Dietmar’s agents even a few months before had quietly poked around Konstantinopolis, seeing if the Emperor would help him press his claim to the French throne. Andronikos filed Burgundy away safely in the potential ally category. What would Dietmar’s price be? The French nobility would be too proud to accept him as King—no, the price had to be something else…

    …more kings, more pieces.

    There were the Poles, finally reunited after the Archbishop of Masovia knelt before King Casimir suddenly last spring. Andronikos frowned—he felt this von Falkenburg’s hands at work. Poland’s army was comparatively small—if all her nobles mustered, she’d barely have an understrength taxarches. Not a real threat, but men he’d have to keep in mind.



    Andronikos’ eyes flashed up. “Bataczes? The Danes?”

    Vestarches Domestikos Isaakios Bataczes, Prince of Azov, slowly stood at the far end of the table. The years hadn’t been kind to the hero of the earlier years of Andronikos’ reign—his wounds from Nikaea had left the general with a bad limp, but his name was still feared…

    “My people have noted no unusual movements on the frontier,” the general huffed, before coughing, “nor have they heard the jarls calling any of their thegns in…”

    “Celestine’s men are no doubt spreading words even as far as Havigraes,” Andronikos bit his lip. Sortmark and the Papacy had not seen eye to eye—the Danes were half-barbarians to be sure, and Patriarch Thomas and Metropolitans to the north had made some doctrinal inroads amongst the rough lands of the north. But Andronikos knew if he was Celestine, he would bend over backwards to get the Danish horsemen to enter the fray—preferably late, after Romanion had committed her armies to the German and French threats. The result would be a Papacy in Rome, its prestige and power reinforced to epic heights. From there, forcing the Danes to bend to Roman doctrinal will would be child’s play. “We’ve got how many tagmata in the Boreios Stratos?”



    “One field tagmata of horse, my own thematakoi” Bataczes grunted, “and five more thematakoi tagmata from Cherson, Imeretia, Pereschen, Moldau, and Peresylavl respectively. 17,000 on paper, Majesty, but I must caution that apart from my Azov men and the Kyriotoxotai regular troops, the other 12,000 are…”

    The Megos Domestikos made a gruff noise of contempt. Bataczes nodded slowly, and Andronikos sighed—the Oikoi had reported for the past three years the Prince of Moldau and the Prince of Imeretia had been pilfering monies that should have gone to the maintenance of their tagmata for their own uses. Both Prince Grigor and Prince Konstantinos were on Andronikos’ short list to be assassinated, but the right time never seemed to arrive. And now…

    “Well,” the Emperor put on as pleasant a face as he could despite wanting to fly to Sochi and personally ripping out Konstantinos’ tongue, “with as capable a commander as Bataczes, I’m sure the Danes will still tremble.”

    An uneasy titter went around the table—grave faces unwillingly lit by half-hearted laughter. What to do? Andronikos could shift some men from the Anatolikon northwards, but something that overt could simply drive the Danes into the Papal arms, undoing the years of more… peaceful…work done by the Church. What to do…

    “Majesty?” another aged voice creaked. Andronikos blinked, and grimaced to himself before looking down the expanse of ebony to his mother.

    Dowager Empress Anastasia, as she was styled, looked likes she was in her late thirties, not her mid-fifties. The same, fierce brown eyes stared out, defiant and sharp as always. Even though she constantly meddled in his business, Andronikos had kept his mother at his Council table—her wit and advise, even if constantly contrary, were occasionally useful.

    “Yes?” the Emperor folded his hands, waiting patiently. Would inanity, or wisdom, come from her mouth today?

    “Majesty,” Anastasia said to her son, “perhaps something peaceable is in order to keep that front secure? A marriage alliance?” she raised her eyebrow.

    “King Olaf’s daughters are married already, mother,” Andronikos sighed, tapping the table. Inanity gained a point. “And…”

    “They say Sbyslava, the eldest daughter of the Prince of Smolensk, is both beautiful and wise beyond her years,” Andronikos’ mother offered, completely interrupting Andronikos—like she’d taken to lately. The August Empress smiled thinly. “Prince Mstislav is one of the most powerful vassals of King Olaf, and reportedly has the King’s ear. You are only 38, my son, with many years ahead of you. Take her as a bride, and build a friend of Prince Mstislav, and through him, King Olaf?”



    Andronikos shifted uneasily—Doryotta had been cold and buried for less than two months, and already potential brides were being shuffled his way? When he’d taken the throne, a 16 year old Andronikos Komnenos had thought he was the ruler of the world, that all would bend to his will and whim! Now, the 38 year old Andronikos frowned as fate and politics forced him to bend yet again.

    “Bataczes,” he nodded to the highest ranking Roman on the northern frontier, “send envoys to Prince Mstislav and King Olaf, to inquire about this… Sbys…lady,” he waved his hand.

    “Of course, Majesty.”

    “Now,” the Emperor thought aloud, plans running through his head. Andronikos was no warrior, but he knew his way around maps, and could plan a campaign as well as anyone! “For France,” the Emperor drummed his fingers on the expensive table, “we’ll send a present of the Hispanikon Stratos come spring. Romanos, I want Godwinson gathering provisions now so that at first thaw, the army can be moving over the Pyrenees,” Andronikos said. “Before the French begin to move south, I want our men in Aquitaine moving north. We’ll take the war to them, and fight on our terms.”

    “And the Germans?” the Megas Domestikos asked. “If Hesso believes the rumors and is as angry as Syrenios reports, they’ll be coming, and they have more men…”

    “But are worse led,” the Emperor rejoined. More ideas, more plans. Sortmark could be dealt with by marriage, but if the Empire’s attention was fully rooted to the north, there was always the threat of the whelp Alexandros. How to deal with him…

    Slowly, a smile crept across Andronikos’ face.

    “Inform Godwinson he should have the Italikon posted along the Alps to block the passes,” the Emperor said, the nascent idea taking shape, forming, becoming something whole and simple. “Hesso might be an idiot, but he won’t force blocked passes—it’d be suicide. They’ll force him…” the Emperor stood, his finger tracing along the map before them, “…into Hungary, and into the Balkans…”

    “The Haemutikon will need reinforcement if…” the Megas Domestikos started to complain.



    “I know,” the Emperor cut off his chief commander yet again. “I will wait here in the capital with the Basilikon in its full strength.” Andronikos sat back down, and smiled in triumph. “If the Megos Domestikos recalls, Romanion has a treaty provision with Persia, calling her to send an army should we call. I intend…”

    “But we don’t need the Persian tagmata…” Bataczes started to protest.

    “…I intend,” Andronikos repeated levelly, “to call on Alexandros to show his support for the Roman Empire and lead four tagmata personally into the Balkans.” He held up his hand as noises of confusion whistled around the table.

    To Andronikos, the math was simple, really. He’d recall the two regular tagmata attached to the Haemutikon, leaving the entire field ‘army’ with only the thematakoi of the Balkan princes—Istria’s force under the unreliable Gottfried von Franken, Croatia’s motley assortment led by whomever Mother Church would hire, and an array of Serbs, Bosnians, and Epieroites, all ill-equipped and even worse led. Against even the Germans, Alexandros could not profit with such a motley force assisting the four tagmata limit Andronikos would enforce.

    “There is benefit to calling the Persians,” the Emperor made a harsh grin. He let his words hang in the air, the eyes of all looking at him. His mother might often be an annoyance now, but Anastasia Komnenos had taught her son one thing—ruling the world was theater. Andronikos waited, letting the confusion subside, letting all eyes turn, and making them wait.

    “Dead Persians, not dead Romans,” Andronikos said calmly, coolly. “The Basilkon is the greatest, most powerful of our armies, our last defense should the others fail. Committing it early would be like throwing away a sword to use a shield better!” The Emperor folded his hands. “No, let the Persians be the shield, and the Basilkon be the sword,” the Emperor went on, “ready to exploit any advantage Alexandros might gain, or move north should the situation with the Danes not be resolved by marriage.” Andronikos expected his cousin to gain nothing, except a round thrashing by the German and Magyar horde. Even if he lived, that’d knock his reputation down a notch! Megas indeed! “And, of course,” Andronikos went on, “should Alexandros fail, we’ll be poised to protect our interests.”

    Alexandros would fail, Andronikos was sure of that. His agents would slip to the Germans every bit of intelligence on where Alexandros was moving, and how many men he had. Then it’d be Andronikos, arriving with the perfectly equipped and trained Basilikon, 90,000 strong, who would break the German invasion. Andronikos would make Hesso kneel for his trouble, and agree to let him remain King of Germany and Hungary if he surrendered his claims to the crown imperial. There was one emperor, one Vice Gerent of Christ, and that man alone should wear a diadem!

    Turn every problem into an opportunity, and find the gold in every pile of dirt. In one blow, the false “Holy Roman Empire” and Alexandros could be dealt with.

    “Very well, Majesty,” the strategoi repeated one by one, until the line of assents reached the most junior man at the table.

    Zenobios Photios came from an illustrious Konstantinopolis family, one of the old movers in imperial politics who were unfortunate enough to not find lands of their own to rule as Princes. Nonetheless, they were a perennial presence at court, so much so that Andronikos had bestowed Zenobios with a red cape at the tender age of 25 as a debt to the man’s father, a trusted member of the Oikoi. Only a year later, the Emperor raised the young man up to be on his council—a younger, fresher voice, to compliment the aging veterans among the army like Romanos or Bataczes. Of course, it never hurt he was a close friend of Andronikos’ eldest son Demetrios…



    “Majesty,” Photios asked cautiously, “if there is to be a war, should we set the succession into order? Your empire would rest easier knowing that a Kaisar was selected…”

    Andronikos fought the urge to frown. It was beginning already.

    When they were younger, he’d secretly hoped Demetrios would become the everything Nikephoros had. Fate and his sons whims had spun things differently—Demetrios was no Megas, not in Andronikos’ mind. Whereas the Megas was a saint, Demetrios was nothing more than a drunken lech. Yes, he had some military ability—he was an expert horseman, and good with a sword—but Andronikos knew his son would never be a leader of men.

    Yet Nikephoros was an unknown, especially to the army. He was quiet and bookish—traits Andronikos knew the strategoi and the ranks would have issues with. They knew of Demetrios—the rank and file loved someone that drank and whored about like they wanted to. He could not be Kaisar safely without some military service…

    Yet here Demetrios’ friend was publicly pressing the succession question, and Nikephoros had yet to don any cape, let alone a red one.

    The answer came to Andronikos a second later.

    “I want to make Nikephoros Kaisar,” the Emperor said quietly, before looking up at his Archeoikos. “Pandomestikos Godwinson said two months ago he needed another tagma commander for his lands in Constantine?” Domestikos Tariq had grown too infirm to command—and at just the right time…

    Ioannis Angelos nodded, a smile growing across his face was well. “Why, in fact he did! Shall I send instructions?”

    “Tell Godwinson I am sending my son Nikephoros with the letter, and that while my boy needs to be kept safe, he needs a dose or two of glory before the French fall,” the Emperor nodded, before looking over at Romanos and the other strategoi present. “He’s old enough to get a taste of command—I am assuming Your Lordships would like a martial emperor to lead you to further glory?” Andronikos expertly kept his smile warm—he secretly wished to bludgeon some sense into the now bobbing and agreeing heads of the strategoi.

    There. Demetrios was with the Italikon, and if all went according to plan, would see no more than guard duty blocking the Alps, while Nikephoros would be commanding a tagma in the field against the French. The Megas Komnenos smiled—it was all coming together, and if all went according to plan, the world would be Andornikos’ oyster once again…

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


    September 11th, 1285

    Baghdad


    Makarios Ioannopoulos frowned.

    There were all sorts of reasons for the pose to not fit this lovely fall day—the sun was shining over the walls of a now Roman Baghdad, and life was slowly returning to normal in Mesopotamia after nearly a decade of interruption and insurrection. The locals were thankful their lives could return to normal, and the officers and men of the new Persian Army should have been grateful for a pause in the unending repetition of train, camp, campaign, train, camp…

    Yet Makarios Ioannopoulos still frowned. Who wouldn’t when their lord, the man they were charged with protecting, was openly, proudly saying he planned to sally into a trap?!

    The pose seemed natural on his stony face as his hands found their way to his hips. Makarios, as commander of the Anusiya tagma (also called a vakht, Makarios had remind himself), he was used to his nominal charge needing a dose of caution. Guarding Basilieus Alexandros II was no easy task—the man relished combat, even simple danger. Makarios had tongue-lashed his nominal lord the previous week for challenging his own soldiers to swim with him across the mighty Euphrates.

    Blue eyes went around the cramped private study the Emperor called home in the Caliphal Palace. The Emperor’s brother, Isaakios, sat brooding in one corner. His opinion of the Emperor’s foolhardy plan had been expressed in a long string of expletives that would’ve made the roughest kentarchos blanche. To Alexandros, called Megas by some, they merely made him chuckle.

    “Why the long face, Spahbod?” Alexandros laughed, slapping Makarios’ shoulder as he used his rank in Persian. “I’m not testing the chandeliers anymore…”



    “Foolish boy!” another voice in the room snapped. Makarios didn’t look up, simply maintaining his level stern glance. He’d come to respect Agnes of Perigord—the woman was by now decrepit, but the Emperor’s childhood nurse held his respect like few others in the world. Unlike his charge, Agnes was filled with a healthy dose of caution—something her tongue always tried to force onto the sometimes wild Lord of Persia. “He’s demanding you come with only four tagmata! He wants you to gallop to a slaughter!”

    “Agnes,” Alexandros turned to her, tone impish, “I fail to see how responding to a treaty-bound call to arms is ‘foolish.’” The Persian Lord turned back to Makarios—Ioannopoulos did what he did best. He stared back, not saying a word with his tongue, letting his eyes speak.

    Ioannopoulos was used to standing his ground—it’d been how he’d won his red cape, after the Caspian Gates. He hadn’t floated to the heights of command by a surname, like the Prince of Hamadan—his grandfather Ioannis had been a lowly kentarchos when the Romans invaded Persia. Ioannis, father unrecorded in history, had risen through the ranks the hard way, becoming a chillarchos by the time he died at Amol, defending Emperor Gabriel. Ioannis’ son, Zenobios, was christened Ioannopoulos, and given lands and titles in honor of his father’s sacrifice.

    Like his father and grandfather, Makarios had made his way through the ranks—despite lands and titles, he’d started as a kentarchos as well. After his promotion for holding his line at the Caspian Gates, giving the left wing of the Roman army precious few minutes to try to escape, he’d been posted to the unit guarding Prince Alexandros Komnenos—a command that would change Ioannopoulos’ life forever.

    Makarios remembered the first time he’d seen his soon to be emperor—he was surprised. From the tales of the man who’d led armies against Mongol detachments with ruthless precision, Makarios had expected some giant, a man as tall and worthy of ‘Emperor’ as his grandfather Gabriel. Instead, Makarios saw a short man with sooted eyes and a high pitched voice who loved the company of handsome servant boys more than his own wife.

    In the years since, with the Basilieus’ bravery on constant display, the Bandarches/Spahbod had come to realize there was more to this little man than a catamite or his short stature. But years of serving as a bodyguard to his impetuous master had also meant Makarios learned to not be impressed by anything.

    If he knew he’d impress you, it would only encourage him more.

    “Majesty,” Ioannopoulos’ counterpart, Marzban Bahram Shirazi, tried to gently interject. He was new to his posting in command of the other half of the personal guard of the emperor—the Zhayedan vasht was a new unit that’d only been formed three years ago, and was no where near its paper strength of 10,000 men. Such was only fitting for the “Immortals,” successors of the men who struggled with Alexandros Megas and the Romans centuries before.





    “Perhaps it would be wise to not follow the call of your cousin?” the Marzban continued, “Perhaps it would be wise to prepare our arms? This would be an opportune time to force the Romans in the City of Emperors to yield to demands.”

    Makarios resisted the urge to snort as Shirazi presented his case humbly and succinctly—responding to Andronikos’ call would lead to a trap of some kind, that letting the western Roman hang by his own noose would be fitting, etc. etc. It was all good and reasonable logic. But Alexandros II Komnenos did not judge things by good and reasonable logic. He judged them by higher callings—duty, honor, and above all glory. Reason would say to stay his hand and let his cousin hang. Honor said to respond to the treaty call. Glory promised laurels of victory should Alexandros defeat his cousins enemies.

    Makarios knew who would win the argument, and just as he feared, the Basilieus waved his hand dismissively.

    “Bah! Shirazi, tell the woman in your heart to go away, and find me the man that led the charge on the rebels outside Kufa!” Alexandros complained. “Yes, it’s a trap! But the best way to destroy the spider is to ambush him from within his web!”

    “He’s merely worried about your safety! Surely there’s nothing wrong with that!” Agnes complained.

    “My safety is secondary to my honor! What is a man who is safe and secure with no honor? That man is a fool! Besides,” Alexandros waved his hand dismissively, “I have a plan.”

    Shirazi looked at his master stunned, and Alexandros laughed. Agnes was simply appalled, and Alexandros laughed. Isaakios uttered another sharp string of words that began with “Bloody…” The King chuckled. When the King’s eyes met Ioannopoulos’, Makarios didn’t give him an inch—he merely tapped his foot.

    Alexandros stopped smiling.

    “I want the Vahram, Isigerdes and [i]Zhayedan vashti[i/],” Alexandros nodded to Marzban Bahram. “And,” he turned back to Makarios and effortlessly switched to Roman terminology, “I want the Anusiya tagmata as well. Pull a chillarchoi from appropriate troops, and attach them to these tagmata,” Alexandros smiled slowly at Makarios’ slow nodding. “Simple, my friend. We’ll bring only four tagmata, as Andronikos demands—but they’ll be overstrength, 4,000 apiece instead of the…1,500 that are in each of the western ones nowadays?”

    Makarios sighed, then looked out the window. There was cleverness there, and a bit of deviousness. With support troops, that’d mean the Emperor would be moving with close to 25,000 men—the largest force Persia had mustered in one place since the Mongol invasions. What would the Germans have? Makarios certainly didn’t know—the Persians simply didn’t have any agents in Germany, there was no time, no need.



    “He’ll simply pull more troops from your area,” Makarios said after a moment, the first words he’d spoken since Alexandros had announced to his four principals his intentions. “His goal…”

    “He might,” Alexandros admitted, voice and face somber. “He’s got his strategoi to contend with, though,” the Persian Basilieus said slowly, “and many of them have estates in the Balkans they wouldn’t want burned by a German mob. They won’t let him pull too many men. Even if we get the thematakoi of two of the Balkan principalities, it’ll be enough. 35,000 men will be at least a third of what the German fellow can bring, if not more. We only need those odds… Lady Agnes, you look as if you’re going to collapse in a fit of apoplexy!”

    “Because you’re happily chattering about leaping into war against someone with thrice your numbers!” Agnes sputtered after a moment. “Alexandros…”

    “Lady Agnes,” Alexandros muttered, his voice suddenly chilly like a fresh breeze off the Zagros, “I do not presume to tell you how to sew or manage the household staff. Do not presume…”

    “She bloody lectures you because she bloody cares about you!” Isaakios finally snapped. The new Prince of Persia and presumptive heir rose to face his elder brother. “So do I! So does Makarios, and Shirazi, and bloody damn well everyone else who hates this idea! You’re lurching into…”

    “Isaakios,” Alexandros said—that high voice went from velvet to steel in a second, “you will be Regent in Persia, as well as my heir should anything happen. I want you to keep the Gond as your core if something should arise. Don’t let Dadiani touch command of that tagma, give him the one of the forces still mustering—a paper command is better than a real one for him. And…”

    “Oh, you foolish child!” Agnes threw up her hands in defeat.

    “The Germans will have a large, ill-led horde, Lady Agnes,” Alexandros said calmly, “not a disciplined army like the Romans. And Makarios?”

    “Yes Majesty?” Ioannopoulos sighed. He’d tried, he told himself. Like many another time, he’d also failed. The human whirlwind that was Alexandros Komnenos only stopped if he was willing—and today, the whirlwind seemed intent on flying into the Balkans next spring, regardless of the advice of his closest confidantes.

    “Do we have any maps of northern Germany?” his Emperor smiled sweetly.

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



    The Oikoi have done their job, and Konstantinopolis gets wind of the plotting out west. Andronikos plans to marry again to stop one potential front, while he plots to yank Alexandros west to meet his doom. Meanwhile, a son is sent to war to bolster his claim to the throne, while another one already languishes in the field. Will Andronikos’ plans bring fruit? Will the Germans and the French be far more successful than the Emperor thinks? Will the Danes stay their hand for the Emperor’s offer of marriage? The horns of war will sound once Rome AARisen continues!
    Last edited by General_BT; 11-04-2011 at 17:54. Reason: added ACA award request
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    Slacker Extraordinaire Zzzzz...'s Avatar
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  19. #5399
    Eudaemon Bagricula's Avatar
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    Just finished page 196...in sight of the end...

    Always been a fan of Gabriel's promiscuity and cultural tolerance, but sad to see it combined with a somewhat Alexandrian approach to knotty problems.

    The whole keep the conquerer dallying in Babylon with sex reminds me strongly of Alexander Megas...especially after his conquest of Persia and defeat of the Mongols...very, no more worlds left to conquer.
    "My good man, this is not the time for making enemies." - Voltaire, on his deathbed, when asked to renounce Satan.

    "We give you no fixed place to live, no form that is peculiar to you, nor any function that is yours alone. According to your desires and judgement, you will have and possess whatever place to live, whatever form, and whatever functions you yourself choose." - God to Adam, Oration on the Dignity of Man by Pico della Mirandola.

  20. #5400
    Colonel vanin's Avatar
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    Northern Germany?

    I like this guy even more for every update he appears in

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