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Thread: Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR

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  2. #1822
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT
    Next update is here! Oh, and a note, sorry AP that I vanished in the midst of our conversation. MSN Messenger has decided to spit out error messages instead of letting me send messages or even log on. Trying to fix it...
    Yeah, same problem on my end as well. Looks like MSN is working again now though. Now to read...

  3. #1823
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Wow, nice update! I wonder what this means for the future of the empire?

    An exarch murdered by an incompetent assassin (from Drogo?), with planted evidence incriminating Thomas and/or Mehtar! Talk about an international incident!

    And Alexios looks likes he's growing up to a proud young warrior. There's still a chance that he and Heraklios could overthrow the "Triad of Terror!"

    And, as always, great AAR!

  4. #1824
    If Alexios grows up to be a military mind and not a nitwit, he and Heraklios could make a hell of a team, though the dynastic complications resulting from Alexios' interesting claims could be... interesting down the line.

  5. #1825

  6. #1826
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    Woohoo Altair makes an appearance. I do love that game. So, does Serlo take the bait? And even if he does, is there enough support to fight against Thomas?
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  7. #1827
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    The calculationof the suspense is another testament to the amazingness of this AAR , BT ! You're continuing to hit us hard with quality updates ! Don't let up , we love it !
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  8. #1828
    Strategos ton Exkoubitores Fulcrumvale's Avatar
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    I suppose that everything from here on out depends on how much everyone trusts Rodrigo. If they trust him, he’ll probably be placed in charge of the investigation (and retaliation)—if they don’t, they’ll immediately suspect him and quite possibly turn on him with military force.
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  9. #1829
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    Wee, so the balance in west has been destroyed.
    A war against whom?

  10. #1830
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    I have a new favorite character... Alexios thinks just the way I think. He will make a great ruler.

    Great update!! BTW, if the Exarchs of Spain all go to war with Drogo, would they actually need any help from the Imperial center? Spain and Mauretania should be able to muster pretty large armies just by themselves.

  11. #1831
    Wow! Really fine action-packed update - great work once again, General_BT. But then a chapter with Serlo de Hauteville featuring prominently cannot fail to be excellent!

  12. #1832
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    Hello everyone, its insomniac BT again as usual on Sunday nights!

    FYI, the next full update is already about 75% done... it's turning out to be very easy to write, hopefully it will be up sometime tonight!

    The_Guiscard - Any chapter that involves Normans will likely be action packed!

    Leviathan07 - If all the exarchates work together, they can probably go toe to toe with Drogo's England and France. Drogo will have a slight numerical advantage, but otherwise it'd be equal. That said, that's all dependent on the exarchates all working together as one, which might be a little more rosy than reality.

    Alexios, as you will see, is made of some very old, and very stern stuff...

    Enewald - Well, Tarraco now goes to Bagrat's brother Vakhtang (yes, Georgian named Komnenoi ruling in Spain... you can't get cosmopolitan than that!), who's also pro-Thomas. The great lynchpin might be Romanos Thrakesios, who's a reed in this political wind, so to speak.

    Fulcrumvale - Rodrigo is in quite a pickle. If the other exarchs think he didn't do it, he could be a powerful force in unifying the exarchates against Thomas. If not, Galicia is the smallest, and surrounded by three others far more powerful than it...

    canonized - Yay! I've been blessed by another canonized appearance! Glad you're enjoying it! Rodrigo's fate will be revealed soon!

    Estonianzulu - Assassin's Creed is such a great source for assassin screenies, imagine that! (Besides being a damn addicting game)

    Milites - Thank you!

    kalenderee - If Heraklios and Alexios see eye to eye... that is to say, if Christina allows Heraklios to see eye to eye with Alexios, and if the damage from this assassination and other events can be repairable...

    AlexanderPrimus - There's a chance they could... but the more Christina cements herself, the harder she's going to be to pry away. Then again, is she even serving Drogo, or herself, or is she just trying to get rid of Thomas and Mehtar... Ah the fun questions!

    TC Pilot - Drogo did send an incompetent, but he didn't necessarily mean he wanted the guy to die via wall-leaping. The guy had done some pretty neat physical tricks after the assassination, there's no way to say that grasping the support beam was out of his ability - he just had a bad day.

    Servius Magnus - Storm is in the hands of Thomas in Konstantinopolis. Kyriomachos and Storm will soon have a reunion...
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  13. #1833
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    So does Serlo genuinely care about Alexios then? At first I thought he was just an opportunist but the fact he is friends with Rodrigo leads me to believe that he actually loves Alexios and his mother. Strange for a de Hauteville, but if this is the case then he has skyrocketed to a favourite position for me ... as is the case with Alexios. I might drop my Heraklios banner for them actually, especially if Alexios keeps his "stab grandpappy in the face" mindset.

  14. #1834
    Romanorum Imperator Augustus asd21593's Avatar
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    Intriguing...

    Great update!



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  15. #1835
    Revolutionary Leader VILenin's Avatar
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    Very nice stuff BT, you and your characters are truly masters of intrigue and suspense. Though it's probably most unlikely, I'd like for Mehtar to eventually realize the fatal flaws in Thomas and put the Empire first. I think, after all he's done for the man, that it would appropriate the Mehtar be the one to end Thomas' life. Since he's responsible for Thomas' rise to power he should likewise be responsible for his death. That done, I could see Mehtar killing himself out of grief. Whatever happens, once the breaking point is reached the Emprie's going to be a mess for decades at least.
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  16. #1836
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    VILenin - Hooray, you're back! Glad you enjoy things so far... and you're one of the few people it seems who has any support for Mehtar whatsoever. Who knows, maybe someone will come along and remove the blinders from his eyes...

    asd21593 - Thank you!

    Avalancemike - Serlo isn't your average de Hauteville... at least in this AAR.



    February 23rd 1196,

    Konstantinopolis


    The noise of forges hard at work echoed throughout the city, filtering even into the study of Mehtar Lainez, tucked deep in the bowels of the Great Palace.

    Mehtar rather absently tossed the stack of papers and letters onto his personal desk, then slumped into his chair. There were times where his days were overwhelming – not only did the Emperor need his constant advice, but he’d also given Mehtar more responsibilities. Thomas Komnenos was preparing for war, and if there was any time to strike, Mehtar knew, now would be perfect.

    Most of Italy had been in the feeble grip of Heinrich VI Arpad, yet only three months prior, this sad scion of the proud Arpad family had finally fallen – literally. Whether the last Arpad Emperor had tripped of his own accord and tumbled from the battlements of Nurnberg castle, or whether someone’s hand had rendered ‘assistance’ was the subject of much gossip throughout Europe. Mehtar had to shake his head in admiration – it had not been the Romans, and Drogo’s network was focused on Konstantinopolis, not Germany. One of the German princes had pulled off the stunt, amazing as it seemed.

    With no heirs, the Imperial crown had fallen to a seventeen year old lad, named Gottfried of the old von Franken dynasty. Almost immediately the great German nobles of the north, only recently cowed by Heinrich’s armies, saw their chance and revolted yet again. To make matters worse for the lad, the Arpads of Hungary screamed of murder, and vowed to unseat the young man. Germany, for the fifth time in twenty years, had descended into a particularly vicious civil war.


    Gottfriend von Franken, Emperor of the Germans at 17


    With German armies running amok across northern Europe, including detachments from many of the great Italian cities, Mehtar could think of no better time to strike. At a blow, Thomas might not only be able to gain Rome and central Italy, but perhaps Italy to the Alps as well. Rome itself would be little trouble – it was said the Pope mustered less than a thousand men, trusting in the faithful amongst the Kingdoms of Europe to defend him. Mehtar always thought it black humor indeed that Innocent III truly lived up to his name, at least in the realm of international politics.

    Mehtar knew little of practicable military affairs, but he trusted the mind of the Megos Domestikos, and Clemente Kosaca had spent the better part of a year devising a plan to take on what was, in terms of official territory at least, the greatest Christian state outside of Romanion. Mehtar’s intelligence network said the Germans were woefully undermanned – years of war meant that should Emperor Gottfried call and all his loyal nobles respond, he might muster 60,000. Kosaca’s plan called for 62,000 Roman troops to sweep into the Italian theater alone, discounting another 100,000 that were to muster along the Roman border with Hungary and merely demonstrate. Thematakoi heavy the forces might be, but Mehtar had little evidence the tired and worn Germans would be able to muster forces any more disciplined.



    The most breathtaking part of the plan would be entrusted, at Thomas’ insistence, to the Emperor himself. Kosaca reasoned that the premise of a great Roman host crossing into Germany might shock the young German emperor into terms. So, Emperor Thomas, in two columns totalling 25,000, would march through Styria and Salzburg, making for Bavaria and southern Germany via lightning march. Once into the Bavarian walds, the army would make hard for the von Franken strongholds in Swabia, looting and burning as they went. Another 25,000 under the command of Strategos Anteminos Mourtzes would push up from Roman Italy. 10,000 from the Magistrates of Genoa and 2,500 from the count of Cagliari would assist as well.

    The preparations for the Great Endeavor had taken the better part of a year. In his preoccupation, Emperor Thomas had deigned to leave ‘lighter’ problems to his trusted servant, Mehtar Lainez. The former logothetes had been blessed with a newly created office – Megakyriomachos – simply, ‘Great Lord,’ a direct deputy to the Emperors in all matters, state and private. It was an honor Mehtar coveted, both for public pride, and a private vote of confidence – matters of state had slipped a little under his watch, something which Mehtar was not proud of.

    Mehtar thought on this sourly as he reached for the first group of letters, and sighed. He already knew what they contained. In the realm of religion, the long, arduous process of converting the conquests of even the Megas continued in fits and spurts. While Syria and Armenia had by now universally accepted the One Holy Apostolic Church, the Levant was a different matter. Outside of Acre and Jerusalem, many of the locals desperately clung to their Muslim and Jewish traditions, and unlike the Imperial government, many of the dynatoi freed of constraints, acted zealously against religious minorities (or majorities), with little consideration to overall stability.

    The Principality of Jaffa-Ascalon was a case in point that now presently annoyed the Megakyriomachos. Prince Jamal, christened Konstantinos in the Church, had decided not only to launch a campaign of conversion at swordpoint, demolishing mosques and burning synagogues, but to force the comes under his jurisdiction to do the same.


    Religious unrest in the Levant, with the County of Darum declaring outright independence from the Principality of Jaffa-Ascalon


    “That fool,” Mehtar grumbled, devouring the report with his eyes. Just as he’d predicted, the prince’s efforts to forcibly convert his principality, just like those of his father and grandfather, had failed miserably. The proles of Jaffa and Beersheeba were openly up in arms, and the Count of Darum had seceded in defense of his people… a secession that unfortunately meant the might of the Imperial government now had to become involved in what otherwise would’ve been a local problem. Mehtar re-read the report and sighed. He’d send a dispatch to the strategos in Jerusalem to assemble a mixed force to deal with the situation – a few chillarchies of infantry and cavalry, nothing more. It wouldn’t be difficult to bring Darum to heel. Mehtar personally wanted to send orders to tell the chillarchos to beat Qasim about the head as well – the Empire needed loyal citizens on its eastern border – the Turk, weakened as he was, still loomed on the horizon.

    Such minor problems could be easily dealt with. Christina of Dau, however, was a problem on a completely different level. He opened another letter – another report from spies. More letters possibly rushing off from Christina, this time to Leo Komnenos in Italy. That made Mehtar’s mind jump as well – why was she talking to Leo? So long as he had no intercepted letters, he could prove nothing, but Leo Komnenos had a long history of nothing but scheming and treachery. He made a mental note to try to have this evidence run down as well, even though likely the efforts would come to no avail.

    From her first arrival in Konstantinopolis, Mehtar had tailed the woman, partly for state security, but also for himself. Did she love Thomas, as Sophia Kosaca had? He’d gone so far as to secretly observe their wedding bed, and confirmed by her grimaces that no, she did not love him. Thomas’ way of rutting bordered on animalistic, something Mehtar ascribed more to lust than love. Lust could be curbed – and initially, he deemed Christina not a threat to Thomas, or himself.

    Oh, how rapidly all of that had changed.

    Mehtar had called himself clever, but this Christina had surprised him again – he’d caught her seducing Emperor Heraklios. No, not even just seducing him, but looking directly at Mehtar while she did so! If she’d just taken the virginity of the young boy, Mehtar might have assumed she was nothing more than an aggressive woman dying for the touch of a man not her husband. Heraklios was rather attractive, Lainez had to admit. But the way she stared at his peep hole as she did the deed, and smiled

    That sent a chill down Mehtar’s spine to this day, and marked the moment when Mehtar’s political control over Konstantinopolis seemed to unravel.

    Suddenly Emperor Heraklios was no longer a third party under the partially idle control of Empress Sophie – a foe Mehtar had grown to understand and manipulate as needed. Heraklios began proposing laws and promotions on his own, many of which, Mehtar’s network confirmed, secretly propped up Empress Christina. Slowly she was staffing key state offices with her supporters, at a rate faster than Mehtar could parry – especially with his patron Thomas distracted by the prospect of war in the west.

    And then the sudden swoop, the disappearance of Sophie Komnenos, then Heraklios’ announcement of his mother’s banishment. It dripped of Christina, cementing her control over Thomas’ young brother. Thomas wouldn’t listen to Mehtar, that the two had an unholy alliance – he assumed his wife wouldn’t dare to sleep around, and if it was such a problem, that Mehtar could handle it.

    Mehtar had tried. He’d attempted to infiltrate Christina’s network of spies, he’d tried to bribe her allies and agents, and at every turn found himself stymied. Her web was an amorphous thing, the harder he struck at it, the more it gave under his probes and blows. He was able to get sniffs of something large, something grand – fleeting references to letters from Konstantinopolis to places as far and wide as Paris and Cordoba, as well as a series of ornate gifts to Georgios Komnenos, Prince of Antioch. In and of itself, such gifts weren’t evidence of anything, but Mehtar knew Christina was bribing the strategos – for what, he didn’t know.

    Yet the fate of Empress Sophie was one that constantly troubled him. He sifted through the letters till he found another one of his agent’s reports on the Empress’ exile. Yes, she was on Lesbos, the agent confirmed, sequestered in the same monastery as the old monster Manuel. Yet, if Mehtar were in Christina’s shoes, he wouldn’t have let Sophie live her days in exile – he would have killed her and been done with it. Boating accidents were always easy to explain, after all. Why was Christina keeping Sophie alive?

    Mehtar sensed yet another plot – one he was intent on foiling.

    Just as Christina had men in her pay to shuffle people off to exile, so too did Mehtar. The Spaniard’s eyes narrowed. He’d need to recruit some talent he knew was secure, was loyal to him for the task, but he too could send people to Lesbos. Whatever Christina wanted with Sophie, or even that old beast Manuel, Mehtar was going to put a stop to it. After all, boating accidents were easy to explain. Thomas had never been fond of his mother after her insistence that Heraklios have a crown, and the exploits of that old dog Manuel were legendary. Mehtar had only seen the old emperor once, when he’d been bedridden and everyone thought him week. A bloodbath of epic proportions had shown everyone to not discount even an injured and cowed Manuel. Such a threat was best – erased – before the old man decided he wanted one last run at Imperial glory.

    It wouldn’t be much, Mehtar thought as he reached for the next letter in his pile, but it might be a small step. A reminder to Empress Christina that Mehtar controlled the government intelligence networks, and had spies throughout the Empire watching her every move. A summary warning strike, while he built up his network closer to her. If push came to shove, Mehtar wasn’t afraid to see her…

    He stopped in mid-thought, however, as his eyes read over the contents of the latest news from Spain…

    …an Exarch had been murdered.


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

    The Hyperexarch’s Palace in Cordoba


    February 23rd, 1196

    Cordoba, Spain


    Candles flickered as Rodrigo Jimenez, Hyperexarch of All Spain, took in the sight before him. The coldness of the air outside was shocking – Rodrigo was thankful the Hyperexarhcate palace in Cordoba had just been redone, and drafts were at a minimum. It’d seemed that the normally quiet Spanish climate had abandoned them in favor of a harsh, cold winter – a coldness only matched by the eyes clustered about the great oaken table at the center of the room.

    As the Hyperexarch looked about, he saw many familiar faces. There was Romanos Thrakesios, Exarch of Baetica, alternately ordering his scribes to write down something inane, then worriedly looking around the room at the other dignitaries. There was also Alienor Capet, now styled Queen of Lusitania and Mauretania in recognition of her son’s imperial status, along with her husband, the redoubtable Serlo de Hauteville. Vakhtang Komnenos, brother of the late Bagrat and the new Exarch of Tarraco, black in temperament as well as reputation, sat at the far end of the room, gloomy and brooding as Rodrigo expected. Finally, there was Rodrigo’s own staff, headed by his Mistress of Spies, Agnes de Beaumont. After a moment, the great doors to the council chamber closed with a whine and a thunk that reverberated through the floor. A dark side of Rodrigo’s mind laughed at the irony – such an ominous noise was the perfect start to this Council of Exarchs.

    “Majesties, Highnesses, and gentlemen,” Rodrigo nodded to the vast assemblage of nobility and their pertinent scribes, “we have much to discuss, and little time, so I will dispense with pleasantries. One of our own was murdered…”

    “…by you,” one voice quietly rumbled, and Rodrigo winced. He and Vakhtang Komnenos, brother of Bagrat and son of Malhaz, had never seen eye to eye. The tall heir to Tarraconensis had a beaked nose, and eyes that always seemed to be bulging out of his skull. This preposterous arrangement often made others doubt him – at their peril, Rodrigo could testify. Vakhtang might have been tactless and utterly inept with money, but the man ran as fine a network of agents and bribes as any in Spain, and was an utterly formidable leader of men on the battlefield.


    Vakhtang Komnenos


    “I submit to your lordships, once again,” Rodrigo cleared his throat, “that I had nothing to do with the assassination of Bagrat. The purpose of this meeting is for me to lay out the evidence as to who is the likely culprit, so we all may collectively decide on action to defend ourselves from such a menace.”

    “More lies!” Vakhtang rumbled, then spat on the marbled floor. “Everyone here, Rodrigo Jimenez, knows that you and my brother, were avowed enemies, ever since you deflowered his wife!

    “I did no such thing!” Rodrigo testily lied. Adelia had been beautiful, and amenable. Rodrigo didn’t consider it his fault that Bagrat was a beastly lover who had little use for a woman outside of rutting with her like she was some beast. Rodrigo looked up across the sea of assembled lords, and to his dismay saw Romanos Thrakesios chuckling, and Serlo de Hauteville openly grimacing.

    “Come come, now, Rodrigo!” Vakhtang smiled, lips curling back in derision. “Its well known Adelia was one of your conquests, like half the women in Spain!” There were muffled snickers, laughter even.

    “Let Jimenez present his case!”

    All eyes turned to Alienor Capet, mother and Regent to the most powerful Exarch present. Her eyes were locked on Vakhtang, her glare icy as a winter morning. The Exarch of Tarraco huffed, shot her a ferocious look of his own, but settled into his chair. Rodrigo cast a glance Alienor’s way in thanks. He thought for a second, then decided that while he had their attention, he’d take Vakhtang’s accusations on directly. Better to squelch them dead on before they became rumor, and rumor became shaded, dark fact in the eyes of many.

    “Bagrat and I did not see eye to eye, that is true,” Rodrigo confessed, “but firstly, the man that killed Bagrat was not in my employ.” As Vakhtang huffed and crossed his arms, Rodrigo flicked a single coin to the middle of the table.

    “As you can see, this is a coin minted in Konstantinopolis last year. From my days as a logothetes to Emperor Basil, I can tell you that the annual coin minting is completed in September, and the coinage doesn’t enter circulation until October – the state paying its debts, then those creditors using the coins in general exchange…”

    “Spare us the book-keeping, Jimenez!” Vakhtang growled. “I have plenty of servants on my staff to do that!”

    Rodrigo’s face went red. He paused, gathering his thoughts. Vakhtang wanted rudeness? Very well, he would have it.

    “What does this all mean? There is no possible way this coin could have come into my hands to pay the murderer! In two months time the coin would have had to pass from the state to a merchant, through a system of mercantile exchange to a merchant in Galicia, and thence into my coffers, and only then into the hands of the murderer! If you think this is a solitary coin, then think again!” Rodrigo threw the small bag of coins the assassin had been carrying onto the table, where it landed with a thump in front of Vakhtang.

    “Clearly, this means the assassin came from Konstantinopolis, not from my stables! Someone in Konstantinopolis paid this assassin directly, and he travelled here forthwith to accomplish this dirty deed!” Rodrigo snapped. “Don’t you see what Thomas and his creature Mehtar are playing at? They want to divide us, to break us apart so they may make us submit, one by one, to their whims!”

    “As it should be,” Vakhtang murmured. “Thomas is an Emperor…”

    “And so is Alexios!” Alienor suddenly shrieked. She was out of her chair, hands clenched, staring at Vakhtang. Under her withering gaze, even Rodrigo started to shy away. “That…beast… came inches from killing my son! My son who is also an Emperor of the Romans!” she snapped.

    “So… Jimenez,” Romanos Thrakesios asked cautiously, “is this the conclusion of you and your…um… creature?”

    “Yes,” Rodrigo nodded. “Agnes reached the same conclusion as I, and has more evidence if Your Lordships so request.”

    Thrakesios merely nodded and grunted. Rodrigo smiled – he had spent enough years cajoling and persuading the Exarch of Baetica he knew when he had his man. Alienor was already convinced – if Rodrigo’s evidence hadn’t done it, Vakhtang’s poorly chosen time to express his allegiance had done so. With her and Romanos, Vakhtang could be cowed into silence. Rodrigo glanced at the Komnenid Lord of Tarraco, and saw his suspicions confirmed – Vakhtang looked slumped and angry, but his mouth was firmly shut. Just to be safe, he’d have Agnes’ people watch Vakhtang carefully.

    “So… if this is an attack by Konstantinopolis upon one of the Exarchs, what should we do?” Alienor leaned forward and sighed. “War is certainly out of the question – we do not have the means to repel Thomas, at least not at the moment.” She looked down for a second, staring at her hands or the table, before speaking again. “Yet… we can’t allow Thomas to feel this type of behavior will go without consequence.”

    “He is the Emperor,” Vakhtang grumbled again.

    “And so is my son!” Alienor hissed.

    “Majesty, Highnesses,” Agnes raised her hand. “I believe there is a way that we can send a message to Thomas, not to trifle with you or regard you as lapdogs to be raised or culled at his whim.”


    Agnes de Beaumont – Spymistress for the Exarchate of Galicia. Agnes was the natural child of John Beaumont, Count of Derby and the daughter of the late Duke of Asturias. When the Moors drove the English from northern Spain just before their defeat at the hands of the Megaloprepis, Agnes and her family remained behind, later serving the Roman government.


    “And how is that?” Serlo finally spoke. Rodrigo looked at the Norman – he was so much like Basil. A proud of gifted warrior, firmly attached to his belief in a code of chivalry and honor between men – ideas that Rodrigo, in his infinite pragmatism, regarded as foolish at best. What had Basil’s chivalry gotten him? An early grave and squabbling successors.

    “We send assassins of our own to Konstantinopolis,” Rodrigo said quietly.

    “What?!” Vakhtang was up, out of his seat. “Assassinate the Emperor!?”

    “No!” Rodrigo raised his hands. “No! We mean to send a message, not spark a succession war! We strike one of his associates!”

    “Emperor Thomas Komnenos and his lackey Mehtar Lainez have shown themselves capable of understanding only blood – little more,” Agnes fired back. “So I, as well as the Hyperexarch, propose only to change our conversation, and speak a language that those two can understand!”

    “Lainez? Striking that spider would be like sticking your hand into a nest of vipers!” Alienor complained.

    “No, we would make for Andreas Katzamoudes,” Agnes corrected. “He is a close friend of Thomas, one of his cohorts from the Hetaratoi” The spymaster for Galicia folded her hands – Rodrigo thought she looked both utterly beautiful and deadly when she did that. He kept her around for her skills – her looks were a bonus. “His villa is just off the Augusteon, is well guarded – 14 wardens, 22 part time guards… they guard his manse well, save a kitchen door in the back he lets his mistresses use…”

    “How do you ever know so much?” Alienor gasped. Rodrigo could tell by her eyes that as much as she knew this was the right course, the prudent course, it was quaking ground in her mind.

    Agnes smiled with more than a little pride. “’Tis my profession, Majesty. If you and the Hyperexarch give the word, I promise you, he’ll be dead in the month.”

    “Bloody awful business,” Serlo muttered, shaking his head.

    “Necessary business,” Agnes countered. “We need to return the favor! An eye for an eye, my lord! A message to Thomas and all his minions that we will not stand for barbarity, that we can strike home too!”

    Rodrigo nodded firmly, but he could see some queasiness in the eyes of those present. Romanos Thrakesios looked about uneasily – as always, he was a reed in the wind, he would bend as the others did. Vakhtang’s arms were still crossed – Jimenez was doubtful he’d agree to support any endeavor, but so long as the other exarchates remained united, he’d be forced to at least play along. But when the Hyperexarch looked up at Alienor, he saw what he wanted. Her posture was stiffened with fear, but her eyes were blazing. Someone had almost killed her son – Rodrigo was counting on that rage. She would say yes.

    “Rodrigo,” Alienor said, her voice shaking, “we’re entering some… choppy political waters…”

    At the sound of Alienor’s voice, it almost seemed as if a veil had been lifted off of those present. Serlo’s dark glare softened slightly – Rodrigo had no doubt his wife would persuade him, one way or another, to accept. Romanos was looking at Alienor as well – apparently the Exarch of Baetica had found his political compass for this day. Vakhtang visibly slumped in his chair.

    “What, with assassinating a close companion of Thomas and all!” Serlo harrumphed. Alienor cast a dark glare at her husband, and the Norman went silent.

    “We should get as many… steady… hands at this tiller as possible.” She quickly raised her hands. “I’m not saying we don’t trust you, we do! We do! But…”

    “…the more clever minds at work the better?” Rodrigo said, relieving Alienor’s awkwardness. He nodded – he’d been thinking the same thing. Agnes had a point, Thomas seemed to only understand blood – but they were about to commit a truly dangerous act… Thomas was in Konstantinopolis, while they were here in Spain… “I know just the person as well… unfortunately, according to Agnes, they’ve been sequestered on the island of Lesbos, exiled, if you will. However…”

    “Majesty, Highness,” Agnes bowed briefly to Alienor and Rodrigo in turn, “you say the word, I have a man I can use to fetch them.”

    “Them?” Alienor raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Who are ‘they?’ And who are you sending?”

    “Gifted individuals,” Agnes said coyly. “And we’ll use top men.”

    “And who are these ‘ top men’?”

    “Top… men…” Agnes replied slowly. “If you don’t believe me, you can ask His Highness. Rodrigo knows them well…”

    It was Rodrigo’s turn to look at his spymaster with wide eyes. Surely she wasn’t thinking of those people! No… not on something this delicate! Especially not him! Rodrigo had been a dandy and scoundrel in his day, but…

    “Yes, even him,” Agnes nodded firmly. “Lope de Normandie!”


    Lope de Normandie… a man in his early twenties whose past intertwines with Rodrigo’s…


    All eyes turned to Rodrigo. Romanos’ eyes, as usual, were wide with shock. Serlo’s lips had curled into a sneer of distaste, while Alienor’s eyes were brightly lit with astonishment, and then a slight bit of impishness.

    “I heard he’s rowdy dock scum, consorting with pirates and all other vile creatures while wearing the trappings of a noble,” Serlo muttered.

    “He does,” Rodrigo sighed, resigning himself to some barb coming from Alienor’s way.

    “Ah… yes, I have heard the Hyperexarch knows him very well…” she smiled, as Rodrigo reddened.
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  17. #1837
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Your AAR never ceases to amuse me, old chap.
    Well done, as usual. You are able to move from one generation of characters to the next with ease, and your new characters are just as vivid and compelling as your old ones.

    I can't wait to see what happens next!

  18. #1838
    Second Lieutenant Avalanchemike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT
    Avalancemike - Serlo isn't your average de Hauteville... at least in this AAR.

    “And how is that?” Serlo finally spoke. Rodrigo looked at the Norman – he was so much like Basil. A proud of gifted warrior, firmly attached to his belief in a code of chivalry and honor between men – ideas that Rodrigo, in his infinite pragmatism, regarded as foolish at best.
    I guess not. XD
    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT
    The former logothetes had been blessed with a newly created office – Megakyriomachos – simply, ‘Great Lord,’ a direct deputy to the Emperors in all matters, state and private.
    The creation of a Prime Minister type role? Isn't Walpole 500 years away still?
    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT
    Mehtar had called himself clever, but this Christina had surprised him again – he’d caught her seducing Emperor Heraklios. No, not even just seducing him, but looking directly at Mehtar while she did so!
    *Called it*
    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT
    He stopped in mid-thought, however, as his eyes read over the contents of the latest news from Spain…

    …an Exarch had been murdered.
    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT
    “Majesty, Highnesses,” Agnes raised her hand. “I believe there is a way that we can send a message to Thomas, not to trifle with you or regard you as lapdogs to be raised or culled at his whim.”
    Someone is playing both of these sides against each other an no one knows it quite yet. With Alienor and Rodrigo on one side and Mehtar on the other and Christina operating somewhere in between them all, it's interesting to see how this will all turn out.

    Quote Originally Posted by General_BT
    “Yes, even him,” Agnes nodded firmly. “Lope de Normandie!”


    Lope de Normandie… a man in his early twenties whose past intertwines with Rodrigo’s…
    Son of the Black Adder?!

  19. #1839
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    Hmm, is Rodrigo bisexual?
    I hope not.

    So rescuing Manuel and Sophie?
    And attacking Germany!
    Evil!

    Why just not kill Thomas.... btw, does he have any heirs yet?
    Who would be the first to inherit?

  20. #1840
    Strategos ton Exkoubitores Fulcrumvale's Avatar
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    Hmmnn…

    This is bad. Nobody seems to have realized that Drogo’s involvement is a possibility, and even the professional spymasters at the meeting are jumping into retaliation against Mehetar—they’re walking straight into Drogo’s trap. Which makes me wonder if Drogo doesn’t have someone influencing things from behind the scenes…Agnes perhaps?
    A History of Baden- Will Bernard I von Baden-Baden and his wife Anna von Oettingen lead Baden to victory or disaster?
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