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Thread: Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR

  1. #6721
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    Yep, I had goosebumps while listening/reading the spoiler.

    I was hoping for the Patriarchs calling for Sidirios to save the Empire from the roof of the Kosmodion though.
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  2. #6722
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    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT View Post
    Sudaxe - Wow! So you're one of the old guard! I can think of you, and Nikolai, and I'm probably missing some of the other old guard too...
    I've been following the story since the latter years of Manuel I's reign, but I don't know if that qualifies me as "Old Guard."

    Great teaser, can't wait to read the full update.

  3. #6723
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    I've been hanging around since back when Manuel I was still some young punk trying to beat Nikolaios at chess.

    Good times.

  4. #6724
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    I don't remember when I discovered this. But I do know that while the writing quality has improved from excellent to awesome, the Norman cavalry charge at Mt. Tabor is still my favorite scene, followed by the Roman charge at Neapolis.

    The teaser is excellent. I do have one question though. Bombards? Aren't they still too slow firing and inaccurate to be of any use outside of siege warfare? Even if they are though it should still be interesting. I wonder if the Komnenoi tried to develop ship mounted pyrokoroi (sp?), the rocket carts.
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  5. #6725
    "I'd like to apologize for the shortness of the new update, but it was short for a good reason! Namely that in game I've almost finished the Roman Empire's run in CK, and I've been spending quite a bit of time modding EU3 to the alternate world... so far this has included 11 new countries, and modifications to a huge number more. Needless to say its going to be an ongoing process... My goal is by the time the AAR reaches this point, I'll have an up and working scenario, with events, that the AAR can seamlessly go into. " - General BT in 2007

    How long did you think this would take by then? :P
    It's so cool that this has gone on for such a long time!
    Love it!

  6. #6726
    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT View Post
    Nikephoros IV (sane, new bloodline)
    I've completely forgotten who this guy was, methinks you should update your dramatis personae!

  7. #6727
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panjer View Post
    I've completely forgotten who this guy was, methinks you should update your dramatis personae!
    He was the Iberian guy who united the Empire again, for a while. An Arab ingame, called Neyfullah or something I think?
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  8. #6728
    Yep, tragically killed by a particularly devious horse

  9. #6729
    I just realised that Andy II has been on the throne for 25 years now.
    That's quite a while having the reigns of Nicky V, Alex II, David I and Manuel II in mind.

  10. #6730
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikolai View Post
    He was the Iberian guy who united the Empire again, for a while. An Arab ingame, called Neyfullah or something I think?
    The Western Emperor and son of Basil I?
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  11. #6731
    Quote Originally Posted by Zzzzz... View Post
    The Western Emperor and son of Basil I?
    Eh, kinda.
    The western Emperor and son of Basil was Alexios.
    Nikephoros IV (SeyfAllah) was the grandson of Alexios

  12. #6732
    Nikephoran armies were his doing, he united the Empire with Albrecht's help but died young, allowing young Andie to suceed. I was sorry for him, he seemed like a better ruler than Andronikos.

  13. #6733
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    Quote Originally Posted by Basileus444 View Post
    he teaser is excellent. I do have one question though. Bombards? Aren't they still too slow firing and inaccurate to be of any use outside of siege warfare? Even if they are though it should still be interesting. I wonder if the Komnenoi tried to develop ship mounted pyrokoroi (sp?), the rocket carts.
    Well, historically powder-propelled artillery was used as early as the 1280s on land (in Spain), and on sea for the first time (IIRC) somewhere in the 1360s (also in Spain). It seems like a natural place for it to develop in BT's universe as well, though I do agree, Bombard is too specific.
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  14. #6734
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGB View Post
    Well, historically powder-propelled artillery was used as early as the 1280s on land (in Spain), and on sea for the first time (IIRC) somewhere in the 1360s (also in Spain). It seems like a natural place for it to develop in BT's universe as well, though I do agree, Bombard is too specific.
    Especially since main advantage of bombard is that it can LOB grenades OVER walls. In naval engagements, where all targets are highly mobile, ranging the shots of a mooving platform will be highly problematic. Something that shooots on a flat trajectory is much better. And considering that day's tech, they'll still need to get up close and personal with the enemy to be effective.

    The simplest and most easy to implement would be those swivel guns, that act basically as giat shotguns that they to mash the enemy marines in preparation of boarding.
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  15. #6735
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    Quote Originally Posted by Basileus444 View Post
    The teaser is excellent. I do have one question though. Bombards? Aren't they still too slow firing and inaccurate to be of any use outside of siege warfare? Even if they are though it should still be interesting. I wonder if the Komnenoi tried to develop ship mounted pyrokoroi (sp?), the rocket carts.
    Pyrokoroi armed with ammunition containing naptha (unless they rediscover greek fire) would be a nasty, nasty weapon at sea, if a bit dangerous to those using it. Though I suppose the "normal" version would be quite effective at clearing enemy decks. Imagine the moments just before a boarding action, or on an attempt to swipe the enemy's oars, anytime that the ships are close, just aim the things at them and let go. Perhaps some experimental ships?
    And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it." Amen.

  16. #6736
    I believe the Greek fire was never lost in this timeline.

  17. #6737
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    I think I was here since the beginning, well atleast Demetrios reign. Back in the day when I hard far to much time on my hands, oh how time flies! And I'm still a Manuel fanboy, nobody can beat that man!
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  18. #6738
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlstadt Boy View Post
    I believe the Greek fire was never lost in this timeline.
    Even better.
    And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it." Amen.

  19. #6739
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    “Everyone and everything falls prey to time, except the words of the Timeless One.” - Aionite proverb.


    June 11th, 1330


    Guillaume d'Ockham shivered.

    It wasn't the marble floor of the ancient Great Palace that chilled his bones. Nor was it the ancient mosaics, some dating to the days of Justinianos, that made him shake. Those aged stones had seen emperors come and go, regimes rise, tyrants fall, and all manner of blood seep into their mortar. They had seen fire, flood, and earthquake. The stones were strong—they had withstood all those, and would stand more as the eons marched on.

    Guillaume d'Ockham was not made of such stern stuff. The sight of soldiers, in full mail with bloody blades, made him tremble. There were rumors, stories of men being slain in the streets outside the Kosmodion, of soldiers bursting into the homes of city functionaries, bureaucrats, men of position and power, dragging them off into the night, their wives and children left wailing at their doorway. Some spoke of mysterious carts covered in bloody tarps, pulled by soldiers, all headed towards the Megara. Instead of flowers, or even the Marmara, all the chaplain could smell on this June day was fear.

    Cold, unabiding fear.

    No foreign army occupied the capital of the Known World—these were soldiers of the Megas Komnenos, in the streets, on his orders. There was a day, long before, when Guillaume would have known exactly what was happening in Konstantinopolis. The old Guillaume would have likely deduced how many soldiers were in the streets, as well as their likely objectives. The old Guillaume would have kept a tab on the whole affair, looking for opportunities for profit, as well as dutifully informing his friend the Emperor.

    Then I would've ran straight to the Open Arms, and into the embrace of... was it Ermisinde? Or Iolanda? The distant shadows of the past were no more than whispers in his mind as he he looked out the windows of the palace. His pace slowed—his summons could wait a moment, as he watched a bevy of soldiers marching through the streets towards the Augusteon. Probably nothing more than the latest complaints from Jerusalem and Antioch, when it should be about those men in the street! d'Ockham reasoned. All three of the other apostolic Patriarchates were in an uproar over a proposal from the bishop of Barcelona to elevate all Patriarchs to an equal level—with Konstantinopolis, of course, having 'ecumenical' powers over the others. Guillaume was inclined to agree with Barcelona's arguments—Alexandria was represented by a pauper, and both Antioch and Jerusalem were shells, weak and without many bishops. Santiago and Karthagion were growing, vibrant, and gaining bishops by the day.

    The squawking from bishops had lasted the better part of the day, brought to a premature end only by news that there were soldiers in the streets.

    The men in the streets weren't strangers though—they were the Mousolmanoi, the second-generation of Levantine Muslims that formed an army within the imperial army. Their forefathers had been honorable men who had fought with ibn Taymiyya, men who knew the difference between men of war and women and children. The honorable men had since retired and gone onto honorable past-times back home in the Levant. The men that remained were those interested in coin, loot and women—the triad that marked the worst of soldierly life. These men were the ones that trained the new recruits—leaving the Mousolmanoi banda ridiculously overstrength, and subject to the whims of the Emperor alone.



    Andronikos ordered them out, Guillaume thought, looking at the formation as it snaked through the Augusteon, blue and gold lacquered mail glinting in the pale rays of the the morning mist. One of them spotted an old man staring, and broke ranks to shove him to the ground. Some bayed in laughter, as the whole column went onwards, armor jingling from their quick step. The soldier who assaulted the civilian stayed behind, pointing and laughing far too loudly...

    ...Guillaume blinked. No, it wasn't just that soldier down below laughing. There was laughter up here, from just beyond the door before him. D'Ockham frowned in confusion, then rapped on the door gently three times. The laughter died for a moment, before the floor creaked. Slowly, the doorknob turned, then the hazel eyes of Archeoikos Thomas Skalites peered out of the cracked doorway at him.

    “Bishop? A pleasant surprise!” the fat man beamed suddenly. “”Please, come in. You are most welcome here!”

    “I...thank you?” d'Ockham raised an eyebrow. We? Who is... The question answered itself as soon as the chaplain walked into the room—along with the Archeoikos was his uncle, the Patriarch of Konstantinopolis, as well as Prince Theophylaktos Angelos, Megoslogothetes and officially the second most powerful man in the imperial bureaucracy.

    “God bless you,” Angelos raised a goblet, spilling wine across the table, glassy eyes laughing at d'Ockham.

    “Greetings, Bishop!” the Patriarch walked over and gently gave his former clerk the Kiss of Peace. “Welcome. Please,” he gestured to the only open chair in the room. Guillaume gingerly sat down, and quickly a full juge of wine and an empty goblet were before him. Prince Angelos smiled inanely, the Patriarch coughed, while the Archeoikos looked on with that slight, teasing grin that always cut ever so slightly into his cheeks.

    “I...am confused. What are 'we' celebrating?” d'Ockham asked. The city is afraid! The damn Saracen guards are in the streets, hauling people away!

    “The arrest of the bastard!” Prince Angelos raised his cup and laughed.



    “Who?” the chaplain pressed.

    “Ha! He asks who!” the Prince chuckled, downing his wine.

    “The Scots and Saracens were ordered to du Roche's villa today, with orders to arrest him for treason,” the Archeoikos clarified with his quiet smile. “My men are currently...questioning...Master du Roche on his involvement in the death of Logothetes abd-Hinnawi...”

    “Did he resist?” Angelos laughed again, shoving a sweetroll into his mouth.

    “He did not resist.”

    “It'd have been better if he had,” Angelos huffed in disappointment, “then perhaps that damn Frank would've been cut down in his nightshift!”

    D'Ockham warily poured himself a cup of wine. I need a cup, with this company... “Did he do it?” the bishop asked. It doesn't make much sense. He had much to gain by befriending abd-Hinnawi. Du Roche has always been jealous of his position in court, however, and the man brought down two emperors to become Megoskyriomachos. Jealousy, perhaps?

    Angelos snorted. The Patriarch looked down. The Archeoikos' smile was fixed, cold as a winter's morn. Guillaume looked at his cup, and suddenly wasn't thirsty. When the Archeoikos laid his fat fingers on the his shoulder, Guillaume wanted to pull away.

    “My dear Bishop,” the Archeoikos said smoothly, “it would be a...misnomer...to say he did this...particular crime directly. However, the man has been guilty of many crimes...”

    “He was not guilty? How do you know he wasn’t guilty? Why hasn’t the Emperor been informed of this?” d’Ockham asked, his heart tumbling fast. Surely not… He looked up at Patriarch Skalites, the man who’d served as a friend and mentor. Surely not…

    “My nephew speaks the truth,” the Patriarch said hastily. “He was a...noted...supporter of appeasing the Saracens, and a...most vile...individual. The Church, and Christendom, would do well to have him removed from office. Perhaps His Majesty could be persuaded to show... clemency?”

    Angelos took another swig of wine and snorted again.

    “I…” Guillaume tried to read the Patriarch’s face. Skalites looked away. “I...shall be direct,” Guillaume slid his goblet away and levelly looked around the room. “If Roland du Roche did not order the murder the Logothetes ton genikou, who did?” Three pairs of eyes stared back. One pair gleamed with wine and mirth. The second looked away, towards the window. The third looked right back at him, a hazel wall between D'Ockham and that man's soul.

    “I...think...” Archeoikos Skalites said, “it would be best if we focused on what will happen in the future...”



    “I do not like to look to the future when the past is so dark!” Guillaume rose to his feet. Please, oh Lord, let the Church not be tainted with this!

    “Why? The future is certainly bright,” Prince Angelos retorted. “Skalites will become Megoskyriomachos, the great enemy of the Church, Kaleb abd-Hinnawi, is now dead, and Roland du Roche will shortly be no more. What, my dear Bishop, is there to not like?” Angelos cocked his head to the side, like some monstrous crow.

    Guillaume started to open his mouth, to speak words of damnation on the three most powerful men not wearing the diadem, but his tongue caught. The words simply would not come. Instead of words of holy fire, there was a stutter. Instead of sharp rebukes, there was a stammer. A sense of shame came over d’Ockham—shame that he couldn’t speak what he knew God wanted him to say, and a shame for the terrible blight the actions of these men brought on the name of God and the Church itself.

    “I apologize, I feel unwell,” Guillaume finally spat out. “I…” he tried to say the words once more, but his tongue caught itself, and once again they would not part from his lips. Angry, ashamed, and horrified, Bishop Guillaume d’Ockham turned and stumbled towards the door. He needed to pray, to cleanse his soul, and pray for the soul of Mother Church…


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


    August 11th, 1330

    Sidirios Borjigin-Komnenos, known as Timur Gok-Rum to the land he would one day inherit, gamely pulled the reins of Atbey. The animal whinnied in protest, but responded to the sudden order by trotting to the left—narrowly avoiding the careless soldier that had stumbled into the Crown Prince's path. The man called a thousand apologies, but Timur paid him little heed. Instead, he spurred his horse on, deeper into his father's camp.

    Timur was slightly taller than the other boys, his hair cut short on top with a single long braid, as was the style in the court of Samarkand. One might call him handsome—his nose, slightly large like his father's—was the only feature of his face that could be called a blemish. His skin was light, clear—a clear hallmark of his grandfather's blood, and not that of his grandmother or mother. Their mark was in his eyes—dark brown in the shape of almonds. Fresh whiskers of a mustache and beard, too thin to block the late winter wind, framed a face that'd barely seen 17 winters.



    Today that face was firmly set. I will go to war, the boy told himself. Papa will see reason, and let me. And that will be that. Papaz was too cautious, too stubborn, the Crown Prince had decided long ago. Maybe, Timur hoped, I can convince him at the last hour. Maybe...

    Timur squinted, and spotted his quarry--Shahkhan Papaz Borjigin-Komnenos was just mounting his own horse after inspecting a contingent of Turks. Timur spurred his horse to a gallop, then gracefully reigned up next to his father and smiled.

    “You're supposed to be at the Palace,” Papaz said, without looking back. His quill scritched out the song of the clerk, as he signed another document. “The official send off was yesterday, young man.”

    “I know,” Timur dismounted heavily, then walked over to his father. “I came to discuss your idea for my betrothal...”

    That obvious lie made Papaz turn around, a smile as wide as the sea crossing the Shahkhan's face. “Her father is the khan of the Gok Orda, and she's very fetching,” the Shahkhan smiled. “That isn't the reason you came, though, is it?”

    “No,” Timur looked down for a moment, before glancing up, testing his father's gaze. Papaz's eyes still followed, his smile disappearing as quickly as snowfall in the spring.

    “You came to speak of the war,” Papaz nodded.

    “And marriage,” Timur jumped in. “The Persians aren't worthy of me anymore,” Timur grunted. No—they'd shown themselves treacherous, reprobates that surely deserved the punishment that would come thundering down on them , with God's help!

    God's help was certainly what Faraud would need. The Royal Army was by no means large, and to call it unified was a jape. Faraud had always been a weak nation, founded by fiat and surrounded by larger powers. She never had need of a powerful army—she was a borderland, a buffer, a middle ground that all her neighbors wanted in place because they feared what lay on the other side of her boundaries. Now, she was going to war, and her formations were ill-unified for such a task. At her core, Faraud was a nation split into three cultures—the urbanized peoples of her great cities, who spoke and thought of themselves as Persian, the older nomadic Turkic groups, such as the Naimans, Kazakhs, and Kipchaks. Finally, there was a thin but powerful veneer of Mongols, vestiges of the hand of the great Genghis Khan and his successors a century before.

    The standing, regular formations were Persian in culture and speech—urban militias from the great cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and Kokand, horse from the landed men of the Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya. These urbane, almost professional soldiers were flanked by the tribal cavalry, men drawn from the ranks of nomadic Turks and Mongols that prowled throughout the rest of Papaz' realm. The Turk tribesmen, under a constellation of khans and beys were undisciplined, argumentative, and were as prone to gallop away in retreat as they were to charge without orders. The Mongols, a standing force disciplined and organized into three tumen under Khan Sukhbaatar, were vain and regarded the more sedentary Persians as their lessers.



    Shahkhan Mikail had spent most of his long reign forging these disparate groups into a kingdom, one he ruled with grace, as well as a delicate touch. Timur had watched as his father sought to hold together these factions as his father had done—they were all unified more or less by their religious belief, but little more. The court was filled with constant games of playing one khan off another, promises, and even bribes. Such would not do in the field.

    “And foolish. They're busy collecting gold in Oman and Yemen, and not watching our frontier,” Timur heard his father say aloud. “A vashti in Mashad, another in Rayy?” the Shahkhan shook his head as he looked at his son. “Criminal, almost, after they insulted us!”

    Timur nodded. “Either they insult us again, or it is a lure.” What better way to lure the bear into the sights of your bow than to feign you are weak, harmless, injured…

    Papaz grunted as they trudged onwards through the ringing of hammers on steel, and the sounds of a dozen forges. “Perhaps it is a trap. You see then why I agreed to Sukhbaatar’s proposal to marry your sister? The price is steep, but his tumen will be invaluable if this… Eirene… has any surprise for us…”

    Timur forced a smile onto his face. Bortei was barely past a girl at 14, a simple thing that loved her dolls and soft furs. The thought of the barrel chested, salt and peppered Sukhbaatar laying his dirt encrusted hands on her… Timur banished the thought. It is for the good of Faraud. It is for the good of Gok Rum. “Yes, of course father.”



    “Good,” Papaz nodded, rubbing his thumbs together as he walked. Timur frowned. Papa only does that when he’s nervous. There’s something he’s not telling. Something that… For a second the Crown Prince walked in thoughtful silence, before it hit him like a dark bolt from the pits of his stomach.

    “You aren’t taking me on campaign, are you?” Timur said quietly.

    “I…” Papaz started to speak, before twiddling his thumbs more. “Your brothers are too young, and I must lead the army in person. Who should rule Faraud if you are gone as well? Who shall wear the circlet should something happen to me?”

    “Father!” Timur complained as the same old lines came out once more. “You heard Noyan Kurtug!” Timur complained. “He said...”

    “I know what he said,” Papaz stopped and faced his son, “I know.”

    Everyone knew what Kurtug Khan, son of Shayban, had said! The old man had spent half his life in Faraud’s army, and complained that no one alive fought like the Mongols and Persians he dueled back in the old days. Like most of the wizened, he’d saved these blasts of the tongue for the young—especially the eldest son of his lord. Two years before, Timur had enough, and challenged Kurtug to a friendly spar.

    “Tengri’s Blue!” the old man had exclaimed after the then 16 year old prince disarmed him in two seconds, “He’s got the speed of a deer and the arm of iron!” Most of the palace, even Faraud, had known the Prince by his Roman name, Sidirios. After Kurtug’s word spread, the soldiers in the palace began to use his Turkic name—Temur.

    Sadly, he had another name as well. In the Persian court, he was known as ‘e-Lang.’

    The Lame.

    Five years before, Timur had been the new hope of Faraud, a boy brave, big, and strong. On his first hunt with his father and the great khans, the young prince had ridden his horse too fast over uncertain ground. The boy ended up with a broken leg that never healed properly. His beloved horse Genghis broke its legs too. The guards had horsemeat for supper that night.

    “It’s your leg,” Papaz repeated the same line he’d used since that day, whenever Timur wanted to hunt, or ride with the army on exercises, “in the saddle, you would do fine, but if you were ever dismounted…”

    “I…” Timur started to snap, before biting back his tongue. I beat Kurtug, fair and square, my limp and all! I could fall down the stairs as easily as fall off a horse, father! I… Angry thoughts went through the Prince’s mind, but he knew the words would be useless. He would not be riding off to Persia to avenge the affront against his honor. He would be stuck here, in Samarkand, while Nogai and all the others captured the glory!

    “I… yes father,” Timur said, tamping the angry thoughts down.

    Papaz frowned, looking at his son. “Good?” he said, confusion rampant in his voice. “Yes, good. I…I need you here, in Samarkand,” Papaz sighed, “It's safer for you and the dynasty. Besides,” the barest hint of a smile started to pull back his lips, “it wouldn't do for the acting commander of the Asud while I am away...”

    “I…acting commander!?” Timur felt his jaw dropping.



    “Acting commander, with the rank of Amir. Your mother didn’t approve, but Kurtug was most insistent,” Papaz’s smile grew enormous. “You needed to start to learn to command men somewhere, and the Asud have heard of your name, Iron Arm.”

    “Thank you father!” Timur beamed. Commander of the Asud! Guardian of the Palace! his thoughts bubbled with excitement. So that’s what the blue and gold scale armor sent to his quarters was for, not the campaign! He hobbled over with surprising speed and bear-hugged his father. “Thank you thank you!”

    “Don’t thank me too much!” Papaz laughed. “There’s more than swinging a sword or glory to being a good commander. There’s discipline, training, and a great deal of paperwork! Kurtug will show you much of what to do though!” the Shahkhan laughed. “Well,” he pulled back, then nodded behind him. “Here we are.”

    Timur looked up from his father’s shoulder, and saw a great grey stallion, finely caparisoned with silver and chain barding. So here we are… the Prince nodded emptily. The moment he’d been dreading had finally come. He’d never known the palace without his father—now Papaz might be gone for years. He might never come back.

    For a moment silence hung between father and son, before Papaz rubbed his son’s head gently, turned, and mounted the royal warhorse.

    “God be with you, father,” Timur said.

    “And you, Sidirios!” Papaz grabbed his hand and nodded.



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


    June 4th, 1331

    “...and that's why I told him to shove his fat arse into the Marmara.”

    Bishop Guillaume d'Ockham resisted the urge to sigh as his chief penitent recounted yet another ribald story. Most of the time, Emperor Andronikos II simply refused to understand that his old friend was someone different now—the Guillaume d'Ockham of their youth would have laughed about the German ambassador's weight, or the Sortmark delegation's 'troubles' in a brothelhouse near the Augusteon, but Bishop Guillaume d'Ockham didn't—all he could manage was a strained, forced chuckle, while he secretly wondered how damned his friend was becoming.

    “He sounds as troublesome as your number two,” Guillaume said, hoping to change the subject. Skalites is always a good segue away from the ribald tales...

    “Ah, that fat ton of lard!” the Emperor groaned. “I've made my mind up—I'm taking Megoskyriomachos from him. He's not working out,” Andronikos sighed. Guillaume watched his friend frown—another headache was coming. “I need stability when I go west to bring Alexios to heel. Skalites thinks he always knows what's best. He even advised me to disband the Mousolmanoi! For what?” the Emperor snorted. “So he can have complete control in the capital? No—my father said no more von Frankens. I won't break that rule! No sir!”

    “Well,” Guillaume said quietly, “if you wish for someone else than Skalites, who would you pick?” Best to phrase it that way—better than telling him there's no real replacements...

    “I...well, Angelos is definitely out,” Andronikos murmured, tapping Kyriofonias' tip against the floor. It was his annoying habit lately when he was in thought—d'Ockham winced at the scraping noise of the swordpoint on stone. “He's in Skalites' pocket to begin with, and his fingers are even more sticky than dear Thomas'.”

    “What of Prince Chrysokomnenos? He'd bring the Syrian lords, and perhaps some of the Anatolian lords...” Please not me... Please not me...

    “No, in fact I have someone else in mind. You,” Andronikos said levelly.

    “Me?” Guillaume tried to keep his voice level, tried to only convey surprise, but a distinct note of dread made the words pitch upwards in alarm. Andronikos' eyebrow rose in reply. “I...mean, Andronikos,” Guillaume hastily tried to recover, “I'm not qualified! I have no experience in the bureaucracy! And surely,” the chaplain reached for the nearest straw he could find, “not keeping the Archeoikos or naming the Megoslogothetes would anger them both! I'm a foreigner! Andronikos...I...” Guillaume started his next string of excuses and regrets. He was a foreigner. He wanted only to serve God in the cloth. He plain didn't want the position. But for ever point d'Ockham made, his old friend made a rebuttal—he was well respected, even admired for his conversion and dutiful efforts to cleanse the Church. God could as easily be calling him to serve in protecting the Emperor of Christendom as easily as he could call Guillaume to take the cloth and silence.

    “I've already made my mind up,” Andronikos rebutted Guillaume's last point. “You can either accept the position, or you can be embarassed by receiving an imperial decree proclaiming you to the position. So?” Andronikos smiled thinly, “which will it be, old friend?”

    Guillaume sighed, staring at his wine. God give me wisdom. “I,” he said, trying his best to force a smile on his face, “am happy to serve.”

    “Splendid!” Andronikos leapt to his feet and clapped his hands together. “You and I, side by side, will fix all the problems in the Empire! I know it!”

    “I...shall certainly try to help.”

    “Ah, but where to begin? Skalites, surely,” the Emperor thought aloud as he turned and grabbed his wine goblet and took a swill. “That man has his pudgy fingers everywhere. I should have them lopped off! But... not while he mourns, on second thought. Impolitic,” the Emperor fell back into his chair. “It's a tragedy about his uncle,” Andronikos rubbed his temple, “the roof caving in in the Patriarch's palace! I warned the old man,” the Emperor shook his head, “that he needed to have someone check those timbers. You know, the Mad Builder years ago said...”



    A question rang in d'Ockham's mind—one dark, foreboding. He tried to banish, tried to tell himself that his friend could never do such a thing, that no Emperor would ever dare to do such a thing... yet the question reached his lips, then breached them, unbidden, unwanted.

    “You didn't have anything to do with it, did you?” Guillaume asked.

    “Me? What?” the Emperor raised an eyebrow, before returning to his wincing. “No, I had nothing to do with timbers giving way under a heavy snow. You heard the Mad Builder! The thing was ready to...”

    “Heard the Mad Builder?” it was Guillaume's turn to raise an eyebrow. Thomas III has been dead for seventy years... how could I hear him?

    “Heard what the Mad Builder said,” Andronikos clarified, before standing up. He wasn't rubbing his temple anymore, but he'd returned to his perpetual squint. “That Palace was a deathtrap all those years ago. It's why he wanted to build the Patriarch's a new one. God's teats, Guillaume, I'm emperor but I can't yank down timbers from a building myself!”

    But you could order men to. You have your mother's old Filoi, the Muslim soldiers and other resources outside Archeoikos Skalites...

    “I wish you wouldn't use such terms,” d'Ockham sighed. No, it couldn't have been him. Never. Andronikos didn't like Skalites, but murder him, and risk angering his nephew the Archeoikos? No, he wouldn't be so foolish...

    “I...fine, I apologize,” the Emperor sighed as well, before stretching then walking over to the wine jug in the corner of the room. Lumber is a better description, Guillaume thought. He is a beast of a man, he lumbers towards his drink, not walks. “More wine, Guillaume?”

    “I... think I am finished with wine for a while,” d'Ockham said slowly. It dulls the senses, and turns men into fools. God allows us to have it, but I shall abstain.

    “Ah, a pity. More for me then,” the Emperor mused. “Oh, but I do have something else you can do for me as well,” Andronikos said, pouring another cup of wine.

    “Oh?” Guillaume asked, his voice dripping with caution. More than Megoskyriomachos? What else could there…

    “I need peace and stability in my realm while I am away in Italy. Many passions have been inflamed by this ongoing Church Council, and many men seek to use it as an excuse to breach the peace. I need a good, strong hand here in The City, one I can trust, to keep affairs in line while I am gone. So,” Andronikos said, walking back to the table and collapsing into his chair, “tomorrow, Metropolitan Kosaca will formally nominate you to be the next Patriarch of Konstantinopolis. I would hope…”



    “What?!”

    “…that you would accept,” Andronikos finished, then took a sip of his own.

    “I…me? Patriarch?” Guillaume sputtered again. But... Megoskyriomachos AND Patriarch?! “I… how? Why?” I am a sinner! A man who dawdled in brothels and loose women! I am a foreigner! Why would they… “…name me Patriarch?” d’Ockham heard his inner voice become spoken in his confusion. “Why Andronikos? There are plenty of better candidates!” he started talking quickly. “I… don’t want the position! I… Kosaca would do far better! Or Makarios! Or Choumnos! Any of them would be far better, far more qualified…”

    “Nonetheless, he will nominate you,” the Emperor leaned back in his chair, stretching out like a 6’4” panther. “You see, they see you as a reformer, someone keen to rid the Church of corruption and strife amongst the Patriarchs. I see you as a friend, and someone I can trust. By tomorrow evening, you will have been acclaimed. So, as I said…”

    “Why would they?” Guillaume spoke onwards, in a panic. I can’t be Patriarch! I don’t want to be Patriarch! I don’t know HOW to be Patriarch! Karthagion and Santiago have candidates, no doubt! And Jerusalem will complain! “Surely they’ll vote for someone else! Surely they’ll…”

    “They will name you Patriarch,” Andronikos smiled thinly and rose from his chair, his form blocking the lone candle and casting the room in shadow. “So, as I said, please accept.” The Emperor of the Known World extended a darkened hand towards the unwilling priest. “Will you?”

    “I… it…would appear there isn’t a choice really?” d’Ockham swallowed. My God… my God, guide me with wisdom? Guide me with…

    “A choice, between peace and order and chaos and destruction? No, not really!” Andronikos chuckled darkly, before thrust his hand almost to Guillaume’s chest. “Peace and order it is, then?”

    “I…accept,” Guillaume said, slowly taking the Emperor’s hand, “if and only if the Council of its own will selects me.”

    “Of its own will, of course,” Guillaume saw Andronikos’ teeth shining in the dim light. “Good then. We are of accord. Thank you, Guillaume, you are the only one left I can trust.”

    “I… an honor, Andronikos,” d’Ockham said slowly. Patriarch? His heart fluttered, his stomach felt like mush. What would he do? What could he do? How would he foul up the most sacred office in Mother Church? How badly would he…

    “Well then,” the Emperor finally let go of d’Ockham’s hand, “I should let you get some rest. You have a big day tomorrow!” He started towards the door. “Oh, and one more thing. I have changed my mind,” the Emperor called over his shoulder. “To honor the old man, I am inviting the Egyptian bishops to present their case!”

    “You...why? Andronikos!” Guillaume called. Why?! The Council surely won't... “What reason prompted this madness!?”

    “Madness?” Andronikos stopped in mid-stride, turned, and snorted. “Is it madness to let men speak? The Council doesn't have to agree with their arguments! They only need listen, before rendering judgement!”he started to raise his voice. “That is justice, is it not?!”

    “Yes...I...but...” Guillaume stammered. “Heresy is an affront to God, Andronikos! This is no mere criminal trial, it is a challenge against the sanctity of God's Church and it's mission! Surely...”

    “There are almost 100,000 reasons I would agree to to Isaakios' request!” Andronikos merely yelled over his friend. He stalked back into the room, the devil dancing in his eyes. “Isaakios wanted to be Basilieus! Emperor! How in God's balls could I allow him, a provincial scum, to become a Basilieus!? Tell me that Guillaume! No, wait, you can't, because you don't rule an Empire! I do! I know what's best for my realm, because I am my realm! I am Megas Komnenos, and by God's tit, you, that goddamn Council, and all the blasted nobility will do as I say, or I'll gut your stomach and hang your innards for laundry!” With those words, the Emperor of the Known World turned, and stormed out of the room, leaving a stunned d'Ockham sitting in silence.

    God save me. God save us, he told himself.



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


    Ugh. Sorry for the long long pause in updating—holidays and work conspired at every turn to deprive me of writing time once I got over the first week of Skyrim playing. This has put me significantly behind—I'm hoping this week and next to try to make up some of the lost time. We'll see. I hope everyone enjoyed! Next week, obviously, we have the naval battle that's been alluded to...
    Awards
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    The Funny One (In Theory): Vikan Vojislavljevic is a Fool (Dead)
    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!)

  20. #6740
    Whaaa-?!

    The Megoskyriomachos post and the Konstantinopolis Patriarchate, in one man's hands?! This is madness indeed. I'm sure d’Ockham is (at least these days) a perfectly honorable man and a true friend of the Emperor, but that might be just the problem: the Imperial nobles definitely won't react lightly to one man acquiring such a ridiculous amount of power overnight. In fact, most will probably think he schemed his way onto the post via his lifelong friendship with Andronikos. And will he be able to handle both jobs at the same time?

    Ludicrous, is what this is.

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