Kirsch27 – Well, Andronikos knows he can’t deal with this situation like Emperor Manuel would have—the dynatoi are too powerful to be manhandled like that. Even when Manuel did so, they revolted and the civil war greatly weakened the empire. Now, with over a century of increasing autonomy and power under their belt, they could possibly break the empire if they chose to do so. Andronikos knows the throne is on the back of an increasingly dangerous dragon—he’s merely trying to guide it as a mount, not dominate it as a slave.
That said, things are spinning out of control. Perhaps it’s the fault of circumstance, perhaps its Andronikos’ fault for not riding the state well enough, but things are coming to a head, quickly…
cezar87 - Well, we know Syrenios has served in the Oikoi for a long time, and that he’s been a trusted member of that organization for quite a while (he was Andronikos’ translator during his meeting with Kublai Khan, for example), as well as Angelos’ right hand man. We don’t know where he stands in the current succession crisis, yet, but considering his past track record, would there be a reason for Andronikos to not trust him?
armoristan – Was Andronikos a good ruler? The Empire’s expanded to its greatest breadth, and unlike Justinian, as well as the previous Thomasine rulers, the bulk of the empire has seen decades of internal peace before the Frank-German War (1258-1263, as well as Andronikos’ expedition east in the 1270s). In that respect, he’s been better than Justinian. However, there’s this succession problem, and that fact that while he’s circumvented the dynatoi, he hasn’t cowed them like a Manuel… partly because they’re far past cowing…
Leviathan07 – Stop reading my mind! (An emperor does have all his works burned, so there’s a decidedly different modern opinion of him than his actions…)
Yes, this is the first Andronikos in this timeline.
And yes, Andronikos is arguably trying justify what he wants to do, rather than do what’s best for the Empire. Regarding the dynatoi, though, he does have a point—thanks to the Thomases, the dynatoi are arguably past the point of cowing. They’ve gained so much power and authority between 1169 and 1293 that simply murdering them en masse would provoke them to breaking the imperial yoke. Andronikos has done well with the hand he’s been dealt in that regard… so far…
And yes, Andronikos has been surprisingly un-Byzantine when it comes to his chief generals. It’s part of the reason the empire has had so much success on the frontiers, despite not having a warrior-emperor at the helm…
wolfcity – Welcome to the AAR! Glad you’ve liked things so far. What did you like and what did you dislike? Wow… an insane genius monarch! Now that would be something to write an AAR about! I’d definitely read that story (nudge nudge )!
The Tale of Mad King Brian O’Maddon, Lord of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and the Fluffy Green Ponies…
ray234 – Most Byzantine emperors actually had quite a bit of free time during the day. State business usually took up the mornings, that was it, so there was plenty of time for a hobby or past time, and more than a few emperors took up writing as a hobby during their ‘off-hours.’ An intellectual emperor writing a treatise during his spare-time isn’t outlandish at all…
vadermath – He does share that trait with the Megas—he had one love, and her loss deeply affected him. Unlike Demetrios, however, Andronikos hasn’t gone about sowing his seed wherever. Also, while he never really loved either of his succeeding wives, he also didn’t treat them like mud (something the Megas did to wife #2, with disastrous consequences). Demetrios, however, had a Nikolaios by his side to steady things when he lost his grip… Andronikos has no one like that (partly because he’s taken so much of the burden on himself out of pride…)
Getting rid of Phillipos outright is certainly a priority, but it has to be subtle—Makrinokomnenos is popular for much the same reason as Eskandershah… he’s a victorious commander, as well as being the last of the Exarchs. He’s got considerable autonomy, and an impeccable family lineage. If the monarchy went after him publically, it might rouse Spain into Segeo Part Deux…
RGB – A precedent for what? And its not Baldwin Kingdom of Heaven far gone, but lesions have started on his face, so he’s taken the mask to cover them up for dignity. His ailment is no longer a secret…
Enewald – There’ll still be all of AARland to go through once this story is done!
Makrinokomnenos has his own personal troops as Exarch, plus the men he had from being commander of the Mauretanikon (not many… that army was only 3 tagmata strong to begin with). Add to that the Hispanikon troops he inherited, and he’s now got a formidable number of men at least titularly under his command… perhaps 100,000 or so as a rough guess?
Hannibal X – Unfortunately, Eskandershah is dripping with the reckless trait, and in modern medical terms, perhaps some ADHD. Ioannopoulos and others can barely keep him from charging off to and fro…
voisin13 – Welcome to the AAR! Now you can join everyone else in the long line of waiting for the next update! (which is down below, so not much of a wait) Thank you for your praise! Which characters did you enjoy the most? What parts do you think need polishing?
Qorten – Congrats on your promotion! And yes, there’s going to be a succession crisis of huge proportions, but there usually has been when there’s been an Emperor with more than 3 sons. The Megas had one that broke into a full scale civil war, as did Basil Megaloprepis. The only Emperor who didn’t have one was Manuel—partly this was because Manuel named Basil his co-Emperor during his lifetime, but circumstance played a role as well—Basil’s only adult competition was a stutterer who adored Basil anyway, the rest of his brothers were children, and Basil was universally loved (and feared) at that point from his military campaigns in Syria. Andronikos doesn’t have such an obvious choice with his heirs—his plans in the beginning were sound, and if Nikephoros hadn’t had leprosy, he’d have certainly had a smooth succession internally at least. Externally, there’d still be the Persian question…
Zzzzz… – Unless Andronikos names a perfect co-Emperor to Nikephoros, things will get dicey. And Normandy is in a strange political situation like it was in real life—it is a Duchy, belonging to King Charles Capet as Duke, but technically falls under the jurisdiction of Andronikos as feudal lord of France. So Charles Capet is at once an independent King (for Angleterre), and a vassal of Andronikos, Emperor of the Romans (as Duke of Normandy)… the game doesn’t model such mechanics, so I threw it into the story simply because…
The_Archduke – We haven’t heard anything from Persia, and yes, if Andronikos had half the conniving brain as his ancestors, he would’ve stirred up trouble there. We’ll hear more about that later though…
Panjer – Or that could be me just being mean and thowing out a red herring for everyone… muwahahahaha!
Alan deLane – He’s doing much better. It was a very bad case of the flu, it turned out. He couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t hold down any food for a day or so. Then, just like that, he was better again. Oh, and keep in mind, just because Andronikos has a kid named Andronikos doesn’t mean that kid will grow up to become Andronikos II. At this point, that 3-4 year old is behind Demetrios, Nikephoros, Alexios, Theodoros, Leo, and Konstantinos in the succession, and that’s if Manuel isn’t included also…
Carlstadt Boy – That old map showed a realm that covered Mauretania and the entire Iberian peninsula. Makrinokomnenos’ realm at present covers most of Portugal and all of Morocco…
Okay, no more delays! Here’s the next update!
”To every sunrise a sunset, to every beginning an end. Thus has God ordained things.” – the Eternal Tablet
The Last Triumph
June 4th, 1293
Demetrios Komnenos, Prince of Toscana, swatted angrily through the air. His target nimbly dodged his clumsy efforts, buzzing about his head as if to mock him. The prince thought about swatting at the fly again, but instead poured himself another cup of grappa instead.
The Prince remembered the first time he’d had the strong Italian drink—it’d hit his stomach with a hard thud, and rattled his innards. He’d almost thrown up. He chuckled at the memory—he’d been eleven then, stealing a sip from the cup of old Prince Gennadios Discourios. Now, in his twenty-eighth year, the local excuse for grappa slide down his throat smooth. Years could make a difference in some things, the Prince mused.
But sadly, not all things.
It was fitting that Demetrios was stuck here, in sultry Neapolis swatting at flies on a lazy afternoon, while Nikephoros rode in the triumph in Konstantinopolis. Since they were teens, Nikephoros had clearly been his father’s favorite, and today it was he, the apple of Andronikos’ eye, that rode through the event dubbed the Komnenoi triumph, celebrating Romanion’s victory over her two traditional rivals, the revival of the lone Imperial Crown, and the bicentennial of the Megas taking the Roman throne and changing history forevermore.
Nikephoros had always been the favored one. Demetrios wasn’t sure when the change had happened—maybe it was when Demetrios was caught at twelve taking grappa from the palace cellars. Maybe it was when Prince Laskaris of Nikaea complained that Demetrios had deflowered his niece—that was when he was fourteen. Demetrios now admitted he’d made some mistakes in his youth—well, perhaps many, but surely time could heal such wounds? He hadn’t complained at his less than subtle exile to Italy, he’d served his father faithfully in the thankless posts first of strategos of the Venatakoi, then a bandarches. Yet despite his efforts, his father didn’t see fit to promote him to command of the Stratos when old Despotes Discourios retired, nor did he see fit to invite the son that marched a banda into France after the disaster of Fontainbleau to Konstantinopolis to participate in the great celebration of that hard fought victorious war!
So now here he sat, listening to merchants yelling in a mix of Greek and Italian while flies lazily circled above his food. Neapolis was a fine city—some 120,000 souls lived here during the height of every summer, if the bureaucrats were to be believed—but it was not and could never be the same as the Queen of Cities. Konstantinopolis was the only place worthy of an eldest son bearing the holy name of Demetrios. Konstantinopolis was the only place where fortunes were made, and diadems won.
Demetrios watched as the fly settled on the crumbs of his pastry. The Prince waited, as it scampered forward, hungrily tasting food that belonged to him. It moved onwards, occasionally giving a hesitant buzz, as if it was about to flee its ill-gotten gains, but always, always, the sweet crumbs lured it into stay. Slowly, the Prince’s hand moved into position. The fly uncertainly moved further, until finally its tiny legs carried it to the point of no return.
The Prince’s hand came down with a loud crash.
“Bah,” Demetrios hissed, grabbing a section of tablecloth to wipe the crushed insect off his hand. As he wiped the last of the entrails away, he sighed—Giuseppe would be sent on another errand soon to Konstantinopolis and Demetrios’ friend Zenobios Photios, now commanding a tagma in the Basilikon proper. Photios was respected by the aging Megas Domestikos, as well as many of the other strategoi. If he spoke to them, maybe they would persuade Demetrios’ father to recall him?
The Empire had never been ruled by a leper, and Demetrios knew it could never be ruled by such a man. Leprosy was the mark of God, striking his wrath down on a hapless man. When that man’s body was the physical manifestation of the Empire…
No, Demetrios shook his head, nibbling on the last of the pastry, it couldn’t stand. The people would shy from it, the Church would balk, the army would complain, no matter Nikephoros’ fearless record. His younger brother would need a co-Emperor, and whoever ruled alongside Nikephoros would likely succeed him.
Demetrios smiled—he would have the last laugh. Photios was a persuasive man. If the army demanded Demetrios as co-Emperor, his father would have little, perhaps no choice…
…but what if he still refused?
What if the Strategoi didn’t budge? What if they backed someone else, like the runt Alexios and the foolish Exarch of Mauretania?
For a moment Demetrios weighed that problem, downing another gulp of grappa as he thought. He needed his own counterweight. The Italian cities were rich, and constantly looking for chances to squeeze out of the orbit of the Queen of Cities. They could be of some use, especially when it came to ships. They wouldn’t give him an army he could trust though—sellswords aplenty, but no hardened tagmata. He’d need a dynatos for that…
Demetrios smiled slowly, for he knew just the man.
Discourios was an old drinking buddy, and his family was no friend of his father—Andronikos had, after all, forced them to relinquish the illustrious surname ‘Komnenos’ for the lowly ‘Discourios.’—troublemakers, instead of royal blood. Surely he’d have a bone to pick with Demetrios’ father. Perhaps he could make some inquiries in a different direction—he was Despotes, and titularly the lone taxarches in the Italikon Stratos..
As the prince sipped his grappa and watched the sun slowly sink in the west, plans began forming in his head. Nikephoros and all who backed him would soon be mere flies when the hand of justice and the army bore Demetrios to the capital. If Photios couldn’t lobby Nikephoros or his father into naming Demetrios co-Emperor, the Prince would swat his younger brother aside, and take the crown that rightfully was his own.
June 12th, 1293
Alexios Komnenos, fourth son of the Emperor of the Known World, uneasily sat on his horse in the formidable shadow of the Thomasine Walls. Before them were the standard bearers and trumpeters that would lead the triumphal procession into the city—along with the man-of-the-day, Nikephoros, soon to be Autokrator. Behind them stretched only a fraction of the might of the Hispanikon Stratos—the first kentarchoi of each tagma, some 2,000 or so in all. Further behind, seemingly in the distance, were the massed flags and plumes of the Haemutikon, the Persians at their core.
“Bloody Alexandros,” the man waiting next to Alexios said, before spitting on the ground for good measure. The Prince couldn’t help but nod his head in agreement at Exarch Phillipos Makrinokomnenos’ assessment—the damn Persian had made the bloody fight for France seem like a bungling fools errand next to his easy victory against the Germans.
“He’s still just a Persian,” Alexios said aloud, repeating the mantra that no doubt reassured countless lords across the Empire even as others hailed Alexandros as his namesake reborn. He was the grandson of Gabriel the Saracen, Gabriel the Muslim, but as Alexios watched and saw the Balkn dynatoi eager trotting about with the Persian mass, he wondered…
“Happier thoughts?” Makrinokomnenos said aloud, “We’re about to have a triumph! It does no one any good to see either of us glaring behind us! We have a greater position of honor, in front of the heathen ingrates!” The Exarch sounded as if he was trying to persuade himself as much as Alexios, but the Prince smiled in response.
“That’s better,” Makrinokomnenos beamed. “This should make that smile genuine. Your father also agreed to the dowry for your wedding,” the Exarch grinned. “He’s agreed to my plans to make you Prince of Galicia, ruling a third of my realm!”
“Galicia?” Alexios asked, a hitch cutting off his voice. Galicia was nearly a third of the Exarchate! The themes of Galicia proper as well as Braganza lay within the region’s borders—as well as Santiago de Compostella, home of the Patriarch of All Spain. To be handed such a plum region by his prospective father in law was an honor indeed! It was also beyond the niggling reach of his invalid father in Konstantinopolis.
“You’ll be able to rule it as you…” the Exarch smiled broadly, before a roaring fanfare from the array of trumpeters at St. Michael’s Gate tore through the air. For a moment only the trumpet call for “Kataphraktoi, ready kontos thundered in the air—the signal that the monstrous spectacle was about to start. Finally, the notes that had carried Roman arms from Spain to Persia were only a memory hanging in the air. Alexios turned back to Makrinokomnenos.
“…please,” the Exarch finished his so rudely interrupted sentence, before nodding ahead. The parade was starting. Gingerly, Alexios coaxed his horse forward—the courser shied to the right, but the Prince rudely yanked the reins. The beast yielded to its master, only whinnying in protest.
Ahead of them, at the front of the Hispanikon’s portion of the procession, was the leper. Despite his infirmity, the soon to be crowned Autokrator kept his own stallion perfectly in check.
Alexios glared. Why did Nikephoros get to ride ahead? Phillipos Makrinokomnenos was an Exarch, as well as Pandomestikos, Commander of All the Western Armies! What was Nikephoros until his father placed that diadem on his head? Nothing more than the Kephalos of Sinope! An Exarch should ride in front of a mere Kephalos—and by extension, the Exarch’s chief aide and page should ride next to him!
Alexios glanced over at his future father-in-law. Makrinokomnenos’ face held a pleasant smile, but the boy had spent enough time with the Exarch over the previous two years to know when his smile was forced. Phillipos’ teeth were showing strong—a sure sign the Exarch was displeased. There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation before Alexios’ tongue came unloosed.
“Why?” the Prince asked as the whole calvacade began to lumber through the marble gates of St. Michael and its four gilt elephants.
“Because your father is making a mistake,” Makrinokomnenos said as the two fell under that shadow. “Why he’s skipping over a brilliant young man like yourself in favor of…” the Exarch let his words die away, as the noise of the throngs lining the street finally reached their ears. A second later, they were in the light, the mass of the City of Empires all around them, screaming, cheering, clamoring to get close.
“No matter!” Makrinokomnenos shouted over the mob—the sheer number of bellowing voices ensured no one else could hear. “The leper needs a co-Emperor once your father leaves us! And who else can they pick but you!”
Alexios forced a smile of his own onto his face, and nodded. Yes, there was no other option for his father. Nikephoros could not rule alone. Demetrios was a drunken lech and in exile in Italy. Manuel might have been legitimized by his father’s decree, but anyone with a brain knew the boy was still a bastard in the eyes of the nobility and the church. Alexios was next…
…yes, his father had no choice. Alexios would wear the diadem one day, with his father-in-law’s help. Either it would be handed to him, or he would take what was rightfully his by force…
Further back in the line, Manuel Komnenos was having more trouble with his mount.
Unlike his brothers who rode their warhorses, Manuel’s horse, despite its silver bells and precious trappings, was little more than a palfrey. Unused to the noise and rigor of battle, let alone a Konstantinopolis mob, it shied and whinnied nervously every step of the way. The new Archeoikostolos might be the titular commander of the Emperor’s personal guard, but Manuel did not look the part of a commander at the moment.
He hadn’t really wanted the appointment—should the Emperor’s person go to war, the Archeoikostolos commanded the tagmata wing of the Oikoi, 15,000 strong. Manuel had read the Strategikon and the studied the writings of the Megaloprepis, but he was smart enough to know study did not make a general. That took combat experience—of which he had exactly none.
Nonetheless, his father could not be dissuaded, in large part due to the man riding next to Manuel. Antemios Syrenios had stepped into the shoes of the ailing Ioannis Angelos admirably, easily picking up where the dreaded Archeoikos left off. Syrenios had shrewdly pointed out to the Emperor that should something happen to his person, someone loyal to Nikephoros needed to be in charge of the palace regiments. As their younger brother Leo was still too young, it’d fallen on Manuel, the only other brother decidedly loyal to Nikephoros, leper or no, to take command.
Now that Nikephoros’ ailment was publicly known, there were many enemies who would seek to profit from the illness and likely short reign of the future emperor. Unless his wife should conceive (a decidedly unlikely event, considering Nikephoros’ illness), whomever was left in the will of Andronikos Megas as co-Emperor alongside The Leper would undoubtedly take the diadem in full given time. Syrenios had kept Manuel informed of the various shifting amongst the dynatoi—and the Archeoikos was working day and night to ensure as many as possible fell behind Nikephoros.
Some, however, were obviously leaning towards a different course. None moreso than Phillipos Makrinokomnenos, the Last Exarch.
Manuel glared at the back of the Pandomestikos’ head, silver white hair gleaming in the glorious light. The man waved idly as he rode, smiling and chatting with Alexios, his back straight, his smile gleaming as if he was the emperor.
“Bastard,” Manuel hissed to no one in particular between his own smiling teeth.
“Ah.” Manuel turned and saw Syrenios smiling at him—that knowing, fatherly smile the man always had since he’d become Manuel’s teacher and friend almost ten years before. “It’s a pity,” Syrenios waved to the thunderous crowd on either side, “that Andreaopoulos failed to put a knife in his throat…”
Manuel didn’t nod, but merely gritted his smile even tighter as he waved to the crowd. That failure still irked him! It was the second ‘blood’ Oikoi operation Manuel had planned—and he was sure he’d planned for every outcome, every possibility! He’d spent two years discovering the Exarch’s habits in camp, his routines, who his guards were, where he slept with the farmgirls his men rounded up! The plan was impeccable, and Syrenios even said that Andreaopoulos managed to get into Makrinokomnenos entourage before something went wrong. To this day Manuel wasn’t sure what’d happened, but Syrenios had called off the entire thing, saying the entire operation was almost exposed.
As the Exarch rode along, blithely basking in the adulation of the Konstantinopolis mob, Manuel vowed with a strained smile that Makrinokomnenos would not get away next time.
“…but,” Syrenios’ smile stayed fixed, but Manuel could still see the warmth inside, “he won’t prosper in his plans.”
“Hmph,” Manuel wanted to say, but he kept that smile fixed. The thunderous crowd kept anyone from hearing the two almost shouting at each other, but a break in the smile on this, supposedly the happiest of days? That wouldn’t do, not at all. “What about Alexios?” Manuel replied loud enough Syrenios would hear. His brother was thickheaded, whiny, and covetous. Makrinokomnenos had even resorted to offer his daughter to the 18-year old—Eudoxia was a beauty, Manuel had heard. To lure a young man with that prize was almost unfair.
“If he falls,” Syrenios shrugged, “he falls. You were not so wily as to avoid the coils of a beautiful woman, were you?” the Archeoikos’ smile grew impish.
Manuel looked down, his grin natural for the first time in a few minutes. Yes, Ariadne Syrenios was a fetching young woman in her own right, and yes, it was part of the reason Manuel could count Syrenios as a father-in-law, as well as a mentor and friend.
“I just worry about Nikephoros,” Manuel called back as the roar of the crowd grew again. Servants at the front had begun tossing silver coins into the mob. “I hope father picks Leo as his co-Emperor—he’d do well. The dynatoi like him! Given a few years he could even have the same clout as the Exarch! It’s why…”
“Would he? You should think of yourself too,” Syrenios interrupted, “at least for the sake of my daughter…”
“Ha!” Manuel laughed, “what would the Spanish jackal want from me? I’m legitimate by my father’s decree,” the Prince went on, “but in the eyes of the nobility, I’m still only a legitimate bastard. I’m no threat to any of my brothers, and they know it!”
“Oh really?” Syrenios asked, and for a moment, all the pretense of the day disappeared and a serious look crossed the Archeoikos’ face. “I think, young Komnenos, there are things you don’t know that make you far more dangerous to them than you think. Things,” the smile suddenly returned as they went around a corner, forced and fake as deadly serious words came from his lips, “that could easily get you blinded or worse if others knew.”
“It’s something I don’t know,” Manuel retorted, “and since I’m Archeoikostolos if I don’t know it…”
“Tell me,” Syrenios looked Manuel right in the eye—the Prince almost shied from the depths of those gray eyes. “Do you know who your real mother is?”
“My… my what?” Manuel blinked. He knew who his mother was! A servant of Ioannis Angelos his father had found so fetching he’d bedded her only a few weeks after the death of Empress Cecilia! She carried him in Ikonion, and she died in his childbirth! That’s what Lord Angelos had told him, as well as his father! Why…
…he stopped. Why would they tell him if his parentage was otherwise? A mind trained by spies and assassins pondered that problem. What could…
Manuel looked up at Syrenios. His father-in-law laughed.
“Let me tell you a story…” the Archeoikos chuckled as the two rode on.
An hour later…
Nikephoros Komnenos gently turned his horse through the Augusteon, the cheering throngs pressing in on the thin cordon of Palatoikoi holding them back. The day was warm, even sweltering. Despite his mask, Nikephoros didn’t care—for the first time in a long while, things seemed to be going right. The war was over. The army respected him for his bravery on the field, and in a few minutes, he would be crowned before the people gathered in the Hippodrome as Autokrator ton Romanion, co-Emperor, subservient only to his father.
Things had not always been so rosy.
He remembered that dark day, ten years before, when he’d found the first spot. At first, he’d hoped it was merely a mark, until the second, then the third spot changed all of that. Two years before, the first mark appeared on his face—then a boil by his nose, then another on his chin. That was when he finally knew he could hide it no longer, and reluctantly sent a manservant to Naples to have a mask made. He thought it was his end—no leper had ever risen to the imperial throne. The Emperor was the living embodiment of the realm, his body’s wholeness a physical manifestation of the wholeness of the Christian Empire. Emperors had been dethroned for less than leprosy, and for centuries, blinding had been the standard way to destroy a rival’s chance of taking the throne.
But Nikephoros’ father changed all that.
Nikephoros had still been in France when the first word had arrived—Andronikos, Emperor of the Known World, intended to raise Nikephoros from his current ranks—a Bandarches and a mere Kephalos—to Autokrator, the old imperial title, second only to the Megas Komnenos himself and clear successor to the throne. Disease be damned, the letter spoke—Nikephoros was the blood of Cecilia, and Andronikos was determined that Cecilia’s son should sit on the throne when he was gone.
There was the touchy question of what would happen once Andronikos had passed, but the Megas Komnenos would handle that by naming a Kaisar—that Nikephoros was sure of. He would need a co-Emperor, and he knew whom he would pick—either his half-brother Leo, or his half-brother Manuel. Leo showed all the signs of becoming a remarkable young man, even if he was young. Manuel already was a remarkable young man, if technically a bastard.
But those were issues for Nikephoros’ father to decide.
Slowly the procession moved onwards, through the enormous gates that marked the entrance to the Hippodrome. Great bronze eagles adorned those doors, their eyes seemingly staring into Nikephoros’ soul. The soon to be emperor wondered what they had seen and heard in the centuries they’d stood watch at those gates. For a moment there was nothing but shadow, before he and his horse entered the brilliant light of the Hippodrome to a thunderous roar.
Nikephoros looked up to see the riot of colors, the sea of people that marked a day when the great track was filled to the brim. There was a slow roar, rising, thunderous, like some monstrous tide that finally broke into a titanic cascade of cheers, a blast of noise that slowly broke into a series of rumbles. The crowd was on its feet, the applause slow, rhythmic, a sonorous rumble louder than any drum of war. Nikephoros couldn’t help but smile, the movement making his face hurt inside the hot metal. Since anyone could remember, the slow, matched clap had been a sign of deep respect in the Queen of Cities.
Slowly he rounded the great turn, the rhythmic march of the survivors from his original tagma melting into the whump, whump, whump of 50,000 people clapping in unison. For a moment, the soon-to-be Autokrator forgot his mask, his saddened wife, or his brothers, and basked in the moment where the world seemingly ignored his mask, and saw what was underneath—a warrior, a man who’d fought hard in the name of Romanion, a man who would do even more once he wore the diadem.
Alas, moments are all too brief points in time.
The rumbling, respectful applause suddenly broke into a screaming, bellowing roar, a noise so loud that Nikephoros’ horse reared as the ground trembled slightly. The new co-Emperor jerked his reins, keeping the beast down even as it started walk sideways nervously. He looked about—what, why?
Then his eyes saw the entrance to the Hippodrome—the same entrance he’d entered only a few moments before.
Coming into the sunlight, hand aloft, was Alexandros. The King of Persia was clad in mail trimmed in silver and gold, burnished so bright that it seemed to almost sparkle in the sunlight. Behind him streamed a long line of men, bearded and gritty but wearing parade mail and red capes—the Persian contingent of the Haemutikon Stratos. Amidst the tumult, Nikephoros thought he saw more than a few flowers sailing towards the Persian king, and many points of golden light sailing from the Persian ranks up into the crowd. The lower tiers of the Hippodrome were already a scrambling mess, as the proles pushed and shoved for the chance to catch looted gold sailing through the air.
In an instant, all the hope, all the pleasure in that moment were gone, stolen by the 38 year old man behind him who’d been deep into Germany. It was Alexandros who now basked in the absolute adulation of the people, the crowds screaming his name, cheering him on. There was no slow, respectful applause—there was the scream of the mob as it found the man it wanted to crown leader. The King of the Persians raised his hands, his horse calmly riding forward through the chaos even as Nikephoros’ charger whinnied and fought his commands.
Nikephoros put his spur into its left flank, a terse reminder to Kyrios who his master was, and the stallion uneasily stopped its movements. Nikephoros looked back… Alexandros rode on as calmly as could be, his eyes glinting with delight, reveling in the moment.
The same moment that Nikephoros saw his greatest fears rise.
Alexandros’ reputation spoke of a man who was bold, who didn’t care about odds, who willingly took what he wanted, whenever he wanted. Now, the mob bellowed for him, praised his glories, shouted his name. In that moment, Nikephoros knew.
Alexandros would come for Konstantinopolis, with all his power.
Nikephoros reined his horse before the stairs onto the central spina in the midst of the Hippodrome and its screaming mass of people. He looked up—he saw his father looking at Alexandros, a look of worry barely hidden behind a public smile. At his side stood the new Patriarch of Konstantinopolis, Thomas of Aquino, also looking at the Persian hungrily eating the crowd’s gaze.
His look of absolute dismay was easy to see.
The Prince smiled grimly under his mask. He would have allies when the Persian came… but would they, could they, hold?
Andronikos has still not announced who will be co-Emperor on his death. Who will it be? What will become of the parties above? What of Leo? What has been Ioannis Angelos’ sudden, debilitating ailment? Old friends reunite, next Rome AARisen!
Last edited by General_BT; 12-02-2011 at 01:44.
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The HOI2 One (Dead): Two Alexanders: Greece in the Age of Conflict (HOI2-Doomsday)
The Teenage Girl One: Dear Diary, by Helene Palialogos (NEW UPDATE 06-10-10!)
Re: what precedent:
Immediately after his lifetime, he will be eulogised as the perfect Orthodox king; who ruled in harmony and agreement with the people and the nobles, kinda like Ivan the Great. A vice-gerent of Christ ruling over a serene agreement between the earth, the people and the heavens. And the church!
It is their ideology after all, they will be affronted if anyone challenges them in their storytelling, merely by not living up to it. Ironic as Andy is a skeptic.
To the rulers and the nobles, he will be a great enigma, this aloof but respectful ruler with the odd but fascinating blip of Barcelona. Half of them would think there's a message there, and maybe worth repeating. The other half will buy that Segeo did it. And the very next Emperor who is NOT Andronikos will be seen as a troublemaker. That is what I meant.
1. Alexios is being groomed but the exarch is playing with fire judging by his traits. Trusting and vengeful? Hope nobody tells him he was being played when/if he takes the diadem. Nothing worse than trust betrayed.
2. AND Manuel is being groomed. Same comments. Except it's going to happen sooner.
3. And Alex is strolling through the city like it's his.
4. Aaaaand Aquinas is newly Patriarch. And look what I said about the Church earlier on. He will face the clerics who want another Andronikos, and the nobles who will want another Andronikos, and he won't have an Andronikos to give them.
I have to say, none of this bodes well for Andronikos' succession. I am on the edge of my seat waiting to see how it plays out.
Last edited by RGB; 12-02-2011 at 02:22.
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Take that leper! Gabriel v.2 is here and he's ready to kick your ass! And he'll be in the best position of all the people wanting to take a piece of the Empire. He already has an empire after all.
Gabrielids should stay in Persia though. I would like to see Demetrios teaming up with Makrinokomnenos and Alexios to fight against Manuel and Nikephoros. West against East with even Further East nibbling at the East. Hell yeah.
Last edited by Vesimir; 12-02-2011 at 23:45.
Manuel sounds good as the co-emperor.
Let me recap. So Cecilia only has one kid?
Sie sind das Essen und wir sind die Jäger!
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So many possibilities for chaos, though I see Alexios triumphing at Nikephoros's co-Emperor.
There is no reason to doubt him from his track record so far, but as an Emperor Andi should at least be a bit wary of anyone with the amount of power and influence that Syrenos has. The Empire's recent history is rather full with people becoming the power behind the throne, or at least trying to.
Trusting Ioannis unconditionally is understandable. They were friends from childhood and those sort of bonds run deep. But Syrenos is just a servant, and one that seems (at least to my paranoid little mind ) to be a little TOO eager to please. And now he's telling Manuel about his true parentage, despite his master's wish to keep that a secret. Now if this is a play for power, or him just being loyal to his son-in-law is hard to tell. The truth is that we know next to nothing about Syrenos's personality and ambitions, especially now that he's taken over as Archeoikos.
Last edited by cezar87; 12-02-2011 at 15:33.
So many factions. Impressive!
Dividing the cake! Who gets what?
Very interesting update, all things considered; the first close and personal look at all the sons of Andronikos. Saying that this particular succession is going to be a clusterfuck of epic proportions would be an understatement; we haven't seen so many parties with legitimate claims to a weak throne in a long, long while. And as someone pointed out before, we already know Manuel isn't going to be an Emperor: one of the previous updates had a quote from him at the beginning, only naming him as "Manuel Komnenos, son of Emperor Andronikos", which is probably how future historians will remember him.
Haha I'm caught up! Break out the champagne!
On a side note all the hints are leading to a series of bad emperors down the rode. So after a series of great Emperors the Davidine line is finnaly faltering at the same time the Thomisine line is picking up speed (Gabrial, and co.) Thomas will have his revenge for being a cray a-hole that nobody liked and David being amazing!
Oh and that Ireland game was back in Augest and my computer I played it on crashed. No AAR
Last edited by wolfcity; 13-02-2011 at 23:18.
Colonel Quantrill in the Presidents (and Proud Founder of Adolf Hitler was an Idiot club )
It's nice to have had a look at Demetrios up-close for the first time. While he may think he bettered himself, he was banished from Konstantinopolis and thus didn't have a lot of chance to deflower other nobles' daughters etc. Given ample opportunity, he might start acting that way again.
Demetrios sounds like the kind of guy who would bring disaster to the empire. Alcoholism is baaaaad for your judgement.
Manuel on the other hand could make a good emperor, but the nobility will not accept him.
Alexios finally appears halfway okay mentally and socially okay as well, but he's a pawn of Makrinokomnenos.
Oh, the choices...
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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Besides, the city isn't everything. It's important, sure, but it's not like if the city rose up with Alexandros, that Andronikos would just give up and not even call in the troops. And the palace tagmata alone could probably handle 100,000 dagger wielding townsmen, maybe more.
And @ vadermath, Yeah, Demetrios Megas had Nikolaios at the end, but this Demetrios will have plenty of competent advisors to aid him as well, and he doesn't seem like such a bad sort anyways, now that he's been chastised. The wealth of the Empire might tempt him back into his vices, but who knows? All I'm saying is that he seems relatively competent, and if drunkenness and lechery are grounds to bar somebody from the throne, then this just isn't the Komnenid Empire I know and love anymore.
So this is how it looks like before shit hits the fan? I hope that Manuel and Alexandros come out on top, and an Empire intact enough to keep pre-Komnenoi possessions at least once the inevitable civil war is over. That would be a pretty strong base of power to build up upon considering that the rest would be similarily broken.
And we can't forget the von Frankens either, with that net of mercenaries there's no telling what the heirs of Albrecht can achieve. Things are going downhill, and fast.
The Mask will rule the empire.