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Thread: Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR

  1. #2901
    Sergeant Clydwich's Avatar

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    Oi, wasn't there some foreshadowing a long time ago about a Komnenoid empress, in what is now persia? Could be one of his decendants.
    And there are still koptic christians in Egypt, 1400 years after the conquest, and they are believed to form about 8 to 10 percent of the egyptian populace. Although they do form the poorest and least educated part of it...

  2. #2902
    Zardishar Calipah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clydwich View Post
    Although they do form the poorest and least educated part of it...
    Not to sidetrack from lauding this great AAR, but this statement bothered me tremendously. There are massive human-rights violations against Coptic Egyptians - being the target of religious tensions - as well as facing burdensome restrictions imposed by the government on even the most trifling of matters, including Church repairs and the consecration of monasteries in the Asyut but thats besides the point. Coptic Egyptians, specifically in Lower Egypt, are perhaps some of the best educated in the whole of Egypt, and a good chunk of them (barred from governmental positions by virture of discrimination and what not) work in a wide array of well respected professions such as private medicine, export-import businessness emporiums, and of course, higher education. Most of them are within the Middle class strata or even higher I suspect, and thats not including the Coptic diaspora in North America, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. (Of course, you have the urban poor, and the issue with the recent 'pig slaughter' over the swine flu epidemic highlights a certain aspect usually ignored by casual onlookers who think of Cairo for example as a mostly homogenous Muslim city.) In Upper Egypt, the situation is different of course, but the Coptic fallahin' are in many respects similar to their Muslim (and rather small minorty of Bahai) neighbours, poor and downtrodden all in all. I think its unfair to paint the situation of the Coptics as being 'terrible' - yes, they're treated unfairly, but theyre also successful, as is the case in most areas where a minority-majority dynamic plays out. I say this by virtue of having visited Egypt and having read on the topic a good deal. Alot has been said about post-52 Egypt, but one things for sure, the Coptics are a pretty active and robust group. They were the first participants in the Kefaya! (Enough!) Movement, and are usually the loudest bloggers, the most vocal demonstrators, and the most active in political grassroot efforts within and outside Egypt. Not to say anything, but such political consciousness only stems from a certain worldview and education in my opinion.

    Well, thats off my chest now. Dont take it the wrong way in any case

    Excellent update will!
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  3. #2903
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clydwich View Post
    Oi, wasn't there some foreshadowing a long time ago about a Komnenoid empress, in what is now persia? Could be one of his decendants.
    And there are still koptic christians in Egypt, 1400 years after the conquest, and they are believed to form about 8 to 10 percent of the egyptian populace. Although they do form the poorest and least educated part of it...
    The former UN general secretary Boutros Boutros Ghali is an Egyptian Copt, just to highlight one very promininent individual. Christians are found predominantly in the upper classes in most middle eastern countries. Some of the Copts are very poor but on the other hand many have connections to Europe and are very well educated.

    In any case the Copts used to actually be very discriminated against by the Byzantine orthodox church back in the centuries until the Islamic conquest.

  4. #2904
    Sergeant Clydwich's Avatar

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    Ok!
    Good to know!
    My apologies. I was probably blind sided by the common perception that is ventilated in the press in my homeland.
    But the point was that there still are kopts out there, even after 1400 years of islamic conquest\overlordship. Although, now that I think about it, the british "occupation" or co-rulership (whatever it was called) might have helped in a resurgence of coptic fortunes. But let's not digress too much. If we want to talk about this, we should go off-list.

    And in General_BT's universe, this isn't the case anyway. Although I am interested in how this will convert to EU, and maybe even further...

  5. #2905
    Romanorum Imperator Augustus asd21593's Avatar
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    Gabriel goes crazy->fails to back up promises->Muslims revolt->independent North Africa

    Insanity and chaos always overpowers cooperation and order in this AAR.
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  6. #2906
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    I know that I am hopelessly behind, but I thought I should pop by and tell on my progress. I've strayed away a lot from AARland during the summer due tot he temptations of real life -- I know, shame on me -- but given that I've just spent two weeks hospitalized, it was a nice place to return to. Not to mention that this very AAR proved some very worthwhile time-killing!

    Technically, I haven't gotten very far though -- Manuel has just assassinated Christophoros, Nikolaios is dead, and Manuel is recovering from his own devious potion. My compliments this far, especially on the character of Nikolaios. There's something special about flawed, yet brilliant, and great, although unrecognized heroes.

    At the same time, it might just be me missing Nik, but Manuel is coming off a little too comic book-villainish this far. Then again, I'll give the man a chance -- after all, he's just started his reign!

    I'm having some good reading here, at least.
    Stand up, all victims of oppression,
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    For respect makes the empires fall!
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    Unless enjoyed by one and all.

  7. #2907
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    Snugglie - As you get further in Manuel's reign, you'll discover while everyone seems to love him (or absolutely detest him). Glad to hear you're out of the hospital... what happened?

    asd21593 - Not always. Manuel got along with Basil.

    Leviathan07 - Pretty good summation of how I'm treating the conversions. So far, when a province converts, to me it means the elites have officially converted (probably for more political gain than anything else). As time goes on, lower classes will slowly convert too, albeit not as quickly. Using this logic, some parts of Syria that have been converted by CK standards for over 100 years by this point in the story are likely 70-80% Christian in terms of total population, the Levant and Egypt are slightly less (more the nobility with huge Muslim populations in the countryside, for example), while North Africa and Mesopotamia are not yet even that far.

    Calipah - I'm not gonna wade into the Copt issue because I simply don't know enough, lol. What I do know however is that they are gonig to feature prominently a little later on in the AAR...

    Clydwich - There was a preview with a Roman Empress, yes...

    Kirsch27 - It's the same guy who played Saladin in Kingdom of Heaven. As for his name, 'Andronikos' is probably a Hellenized name he uses around Greeks and Roman nobility. His family and highly ranking unconverted likely refer to Lord Khor Nubt by more traditional names, while to the lower classes he is simply "Lordship," "Your Grace," "Highness," etc.

    AlexanderPrimus - Credit goes partially to Calipah, for asking me what the heck had happened to the Muslims of the Empire... and that started a whole chain of brainstorming...

    Ksim3000 - Most of the Emperors so far have had distant relations with Muslims at best--they cared little but didn't really go against. Basil had a semi-decent relationship with Muslims in the Empire, accorded them some protections, but for the most part, he too left them alone. Gabriel actively recruiting among them--that is a new step that hasn't been seen before. We'll have to see if it becomes a trend...

    RGB - The last creative writing class I took, the professor said my greatest strength was playing two characters off of each other. Still working on buffing up the other parts of writing, however.

    Fulcrumvale - Some... special things are going to happen to much of the Muslim world before EU3...

    Exadus - Glad you liked it!

    Enewald - Not if he wants any sniff of the succession...

    Here's part of what was intended to be the next update. I'm working on the rest of it, it should be up ASAP. I just wanted to get something up...




    On September 5th, the same day the Emperor arrived in Carthage at the head of the main army, Gabriel had already crossed into the besieged Principality of Constantine. Duke Richard had invaded Constantine with a heavy force approaching 25,000 under arms, centered on 2,000 heavy knights from his personal retinue and vassals as Duke of Algiers, as well as 3,000 mounted mercenaries and 8000 sergeants of foot, mostly recruited from Italy and Germany. These troops were all heavily armed and armored—the knights in full helms with crests and chain, the sergeants in chainmail with steel caps.

    In comparison, Gabriel’s army seemed, on paper, to be foolishly weak. With Imam al-Hilali’s call, clan chieftains and village elders from across Kairuoan and Tunisia quickly rallied to the Prince’s banner. By mid-August, Gabriel had gained almost 5,000 to his host, split between 3000 light levies from the smaller villages of the coast, and 2,000 light horsemen and Berber camel riders from the interior. In addition to these new forces, the Crown Prince brought 750 heavy cavalry of the Athantakoi tagma, 500 Varangian spearmen from the Varangoi Defteros, 2,250 from the Basilikon Toxotai and some 2000 thematakoi from Leptis Magna and 1500 civil guards from Carthage itself.

    Altogther, Gabriel’s army was far lighter than his more cumbersome opponent, and far smaller, but also quicker and more mobile. Almost as importantly, his new allies gained him local knowledge of the terrain—secret watering holes, natural refuges from sand and storm—all of which the Crown Prince would soon put to devastating use.

    The Crown Prince used this advantage in speed, rapidly marching along the Constantine coast, all but announcing his presence to Duke Richard even as riders inside the Roman army fanned to the villages, bearing Imam al-Hilali’s proclaimation written in beautiful Arabic. The bold movements quickly got the attentions of the Duke, who promptly left a token force to keep the siege lines at Constantine while he and 20,000 of his men, spearheaded by all his cavalry, set out to destroy the impudent Roman leader.

    At first, Gabriel’s troops marched headlong, sometimes 25 miles per day, directly at the Duke of Algiers. However, on September 11th, 1229, Gabriel’s columns swung inland, towards a set of natural springs that still bear his name. Intent on pursuit, the Duke followed, driving his army pell-mell into the mountainous, dry interior. Gabriel, by taking rash (by Roman standards) methods such as ordering his Athantakoi to strip their armor down to the leathers underneath and storing it in a cave for safekeeping, managed to make his army even lighter and swifter still. The Roman-Berber force easily kept ahead of the Duke’s columns, just far enough to tantalize the Frank with the chance of a victory.

    By avoiding battle, Gabriel let the sun and wind work do his work for him. While nightly camels brought water to Gabriel’s armies from wells and oases only the locals knew of, the Frankish army slogged on, in full kit, parched for water. Discipline gave way, and if we are to believe the writings of Bishop Amalric of Algiers, footmen and knights alike “dropped to the ground, dead from thirst and heat, by the fourth day.”

    It was then that the Crown Prince finally stood his army behind a small oasis on September 18th. Gabriel’s plan was utterly devious and cruelly effective—the water of the oasis, plain in sight, would prove too much of a temptation for the Duke’s parched men. As was expected, the crusader army fragmented at the sight of the water, the Duke’s levies immediately breaking at a full run towards the water, the knights and mercenaries holding back. In battle, Gabriel showed no mercy—he and his cavalry enveloped and destroyed the levies, before moving en masse towards the depleted rump of Richard’s army. Gabriel was content to let his horse archers harass and skirmish all through the day, and into the night he ordered the Berber camel riders to make repeated runs at the bedraggled crusader force.

    By morning, the remaining 12,000 or so knights and mercenaries had been without water for a day, as well as no sleep. Gabriel withdrew the tribal camelriders for a well earned rest, before ordering the Basilikon Toxotai to open up on the huddle mass. After the fifth volley of armor-piercing arrows, the Duke’s force finally broke apart. Gabriel finally mounted his charger, and led his stripped down Athantakoi and the thematakoi of Leptis Magna to run down his already defeated enemy. By the time the sun had reached its peak, the army of the Duke of Algiers had been utterly torn to shreds.

    Thus, while on the 19th of September Emperor Thomas was just leaving the domains of the Principality of Kairuoan and Emperor Alexios was just invading from the west, Gabriel and his small army set out on a series of forced marches back through the mountains and towards the coast. By October 7th, they were already before Oran, and stories from the handful of survivors of Gabriel’s Oasis had filled the ears of the city.

    They threw their gates open to the prince.

    It wasn’t until October 24th that Gabriel and his army arrived outside of Algiers and set up siege works, but even this meant that by the time Alexios arrived with 15,000 men on November 15th, the city had been under siege for three weeks. While the city had fortifications designed to last for months the vast majority of her militia had marched out with the Duke months before, and now lay dead in Gabriel’s Oasis and beyond. Their defenses stretched thin, it’s little wonder that two days after the arrival of Emperor Thomas and his 18,000 on the 26th of November, Algiers as well surrendered. With only a minimal amount of mop-op left, the two Emperors sailed for Carthage, their staffs in tow, to celebrate the quick and decisive actions of the Crown Prince of Romanion…
    Last edited by General_BT; 24-08-2009 at 19:56.
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  8. #2908
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    Ouch, that was quick.
    Latins, be ashamed.

  9. #2909
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    Is that the final update, or is it going to be changed afterwards? It just sounds less refined than your updates use to be.
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  10. #2910
    Romanorum Imperator Augustus asd21593's Avatar
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    1500th post!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nikolai View Post
    Is that the final update, or is it going to be changed afterwards? It just sounds less refined than your updates use to be.
    Shorter, yes.

    But still amazing.
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  11. #2911
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    Ah, using attrition against the foolish Frank!

    Truly these Greeks are the devil.
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  13. #2913
    Perhaps Gabriel is what Romanion needs to reassert its power against the Golden Horde?
    THIS IS A SIG

  14. #2914
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  15. #2915
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    Here's the second part of the update! Enjoy!




    “Assassination is a word I loathe to contemplate.”Roman Statesman, by Albrecht von Franken


    December 25th, 1229

    The Christmas Feast of 1229 should have been a joyous occasion. Roman rule had been established across the entirety of the North Africa coast, from the Pillars of Hercules to the Sinai, a feat that hadn’t been seen since the days of Justinian. Yet amidst the sea of gaiety and celebration at The Christmas Feast of Two Emperors, one person stood out for his singularly gloomy expression.


    The famous ancient double harbor at Carthage. In the days of the old Roman Empire, the outer harbor served as a commercial port, while the closely guarded inner harbor served as a military base. By 1229, the Komnenids had re-dug the twin harbors on a slightly larger scale. Carthage as rebuilt was now the center of Roman power in North Africa, and a large commercial center in it’s own right, boasting almost 60,000 residents as well as a palace fit for an Imperial visit or celebration, as that of December 25th, 1229.


    Antemios Komnenos, eldest son of the Emperor.

    This day, it was what was going on at the front of the banquet hall in the Palace of Carthage that drew his ire. Antemios grumbled for the eighth time in the last hour, and finished his cup. It was impossible to avoid the scene at the far end of the room. On a raised dais, flanked with deep furs and gold, sat the imposing form of Antemios’ father, grimly set apart from the sea of feathers and silks in his plain tunic and breeches… and if this wasn’t enough, on the Emperor’s lap sat the garishly clothed form of Marjun al-Hawa, giggling like an insane schoolgirl and plainly perturbing flanking nobles from both Spain and the Empire. Yet so long as Emperor Thomas put up with the little girl-man—Antemios couldn’t think of any other way to describe him—no one dared say anything. The last person that had…

    …Antemios shuddered.

    Sitting next to this ugly scene was the more appropriately clothed form of Emperor Alexios I, draped in his blue and tyrian purple robes of state. More than a few had noticed, however, that the Western Emperor’s eyes, normally bright and sharp, were only dimly looking at the world about him. Every now and then he’d slurringly laugh at some inane joke made by al-Hawa, prompting the uneasy Spaniards around him to chuckle to keep form. Gossip around the party said that Emperor Alexios, despite being only 44, was slowly wasting away, much like his grandfather had. Just like the great Basilieos, Alexios had taken to drink as well.

    Further down sat Alexios’ son Nikephoros, heir to the Western throne. Nikephoros was a question mark to Antemios—he’d never had the chance to speak to his distant cousin, though he’d heard the 25 year old man was a dullard at best. Like most days, the Crown Prince’s plate sat empty—rumor said he ate little other than figs and an occasional lemon. The mere thought of a lemon made Antemios hungry. He snapped his fingers, and yet more pastries were proffered before his grubby fingers. He eagerly grabbed a handful, then waved the servant away.

    As Antemios licked the sugar clean from his fingers, he spotted his sister Zoe, and her new husband, Demetrios Scolari, the new Prince of Azeribijian. The young man was nearly as fat as the prince, and by the look on Zoe’s face, it was clear she did not like the comforts of her new ‘husband.’ Antemios watched her eyes focus first on one of the guardsmen, then the son of Prince Fahd, now Exarch of North Africa under the Western Empire. He grinned lewdly—he knew his sister, he could only imagine what was going on in her mind.

    Yet that thought was rudely interrupted by a giggle of laughter on his left. There stood Theodoroa Donauri, easily the most beautiful girl in court, her eyes firmly rooted on…

    …Gabriel.


    Theodora Donauri. Daughter of the famous commander of the Basilikon Toxotai, Theodora was perhaps the most renowned beauty in Konstantinopolis. However, she held eyes for only one man—Gabriel Komnenos, much to the envy of others all across the city, and even the Empire.


    Antemios’ eyes narrowed. Gabriel was clearly already the center of attention on the left—clusters of dynatoi and strategoi were clustered around, shaking his hand, patting his back, showering him with the praise Antemios wanted for himself. To add to the whole affair, Antemios could see the eyes of most women in the ball room, and more than a few of the young men, were shyly ogling his handsome brother. Some, like the comely Theodora, were not so shy about their glances.

    Antemios gritted his teeth, rudely held out his goblet again. Why Gabriel? He was a lech, he was boorish, but he was the apple’s eye of everyone, wherever he went! Even now, he almost disdainfully ignored their adulation, their praise, he was so busy drinking his wine and smiling at Theodora! Antemios was the eldest, he was the firstborn, he should have had the vanguard and been the center of the feast, instead of wasting his summer in the North African heat only to be told his brother had won all the battles, and all the glory!

    Perhaps he could earn his own glory. There had been a great deal of talk that after the Emperor held up his bargain to his Western cousin, that he would turn East against the hard-pressed Turk. Antemios swirled his wine around, thinking. Another foray to the East was a guaranteed victory—the Turks were weakening fast under the renewed attacks of the Mongols, and in Antemios’ mind, it was more a question of whether Romanion would take the Turkish lands, or the Great Khan. A turn east would get Antemios his own shot of glory—his father would insist on overall command, and Gabriel wouldn’t get a chance to rush ahead and steal all the fame for himself.

    He smiled ever so slightly at the thought—Antemios Komnenos, strategos, leading his cavalry in a charge…till he glumly remembered he was awkward at best and ludicrous at worse on horseback. He downed his cup and sighed—glory on the battlefield never came to those who slogged through the mud.

    Gabriel would have the glory again, unless something happened.

    That thought brought another brief smile. Perhaps something could be arranged to happen to Gabriel… Antemios knew of several men of the dark that went to his brother’s chambers at night—it’d be easy to slip one of them a knife and some gold. After a moment of running through the possibilities, Antemios sighed. There was the major problem of where a naked body could hide a knife, and Gabriel’s skill at unarmed combat. For a moment Antemios thought maybe several assassins could fix that problem, but in the end he decided it would be too much work. He raised his goblet, and soon he felt the soothing flow of grappa down his throat yet again.

    A soothing flow that was suddenly interrupted by the cough of a small boy clearing his voice.

    “Cousin Antemios?”

    The Crown Prince turned, and found himself facing the short, spindly form of his distant cousin Nikephoros, son of the Crown Prince of the West. The boy had raven dark hair and deep eyes, easily inherited from his mother, the descendant of some Moorish family. Even as Antemios sighed in complaint, the boy continued his pestering.


    Nikephoros, son of the same and grandson of Alexios I Komnenos, is in direct line to become Emperor of the West. Despite being only seven, he’s shown an amazing ability with languages, as well as a gift for skills both martial and intellectual pursuits.


    “Why are you all alone, on this side of the room?” Nikephoros the Younger went on. “Everyone is happy and gay, and you’re a glumface.” Nikephoros then added, “I learned three days ago how to say glumface in Arabic. Do you want to know?”

    “What is there to be happy about?” Antemios grumbled, ignoring the boy’s question.

    “Your brother and his triumph!” Nikpehoros grinned. “Isn’t it wonderful?” the young Nikephoros pressed onward, despite Antemios’ growlings. “A quick victory using the locals as his sword and shield! Your brother is gifted! I heard your father say he’s getting a triumph in Konstantinopolis!”

    “I know. Wretched, isn’t it?” Antemios sighed. He held his goblet out—the sound of more wine pouring was the only soothing noise around.

    “Why didn’t you come up with that idea?” the boy asked, ignoring Antemios’ sigh.

    “I have a million ideas,” the Prince looked down into his goblet. He wished the cup was wide enough he could just jump in. That’d fix it all—too bad no one had a goblet that large. He sighed, turned, and glared at his distant cousin. “All of my ideas point to certain death.”

    “Certain death?” the young Nikephoros laughed. Clearly the seven year old didn’t understand Antemios’ threat. “How so? Does your gaze kill? It hasn’t harmed me!”

    “It’s harmed many a servant,” Antemios pressed, before turning his back. Perhaps ignoring the pest was the best way to get rid of it. After several moments of no noise from his cousin, Antemios thought he might have succeeded—until he noticed the ambient noise of a banquet suddenly changing to worried murmurs. Then loud coughing.

    Antemios spun around just in time to see his brother clutching his throat, as the murmurs turned into screams and gasps. Al-Hawa was off the Imperial lap, dashing across the table dodging candlesticks and quail, as others rushed to the Crown Prince’s side.

    “Something is wrong with your brother!” Nikpehoros shouted. Antemios grimaced—so the wretch hadn’t left yet.

    “He’s probably been poisoned,” Antemios muttered after downing his goblet. A servant bumped him hard as bedlam broke out in the banquet hall, shouts and screams drowning out the noise of Gabriel’s desperate coughing. Within moments, Antemios was utterly alone as a sea of people surrounded Gabriel as he struggled to gain his breath.

    “Typical,” Antemios sighed. “Always the center of attention.” Longingly, the Prince eyed his goblet. “Even you don’t stay with me long enough.” As servants carried off Gabriel’s stricken form, Antemios simply swirled his wine around. “Too bad it wasn’t me,” Antemios sighed yet again. While all eyes turned to the sputtering prince, the eldest son of the Emperor merely finished his wine. “That would’ve been too much work,” he added quietly.


    Antemios

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


    March 4th, 1230


    Mehtar Lainez looked up, and sighed. The former Megoskyriomachos had two reasons to sigh, and ironically the modest hovel he now called home thanks to 13 years of disgrace was not one of them. One was in the kitchen, bubbling and boiling while Lainez’s stomach cried out for food, while the other paced incessantly before him, in effect preventing him from getting to his soup.

    “Do you want any soup?” Mehtar offered, trying to stop his protégé’s errant pacing.

    “I’m not hungry,” Albrecht von Franken said testily. Inside the modest home with its wooden plates and simple bowls, the finely attired von Franken, complete with the robes and chain of Megoskyriomachos, looked out of place, at best. Mehtar got up with a grumble. While he would always be happy to help his protégé in any way he could, he couldn’t suffer needless pacing while food called.

    “The young prince lives,” Mehtar said hopefully, shuffling into the kitchen to poke at the fire some more. “Whoever plotted this failed, as they will undoubtedly do again after you’ve found the best way to protect His Highness…”

    “Who could dare to do such a thing?” Albrecht snapped.

    “Many people,” Mehtar replied. He started to dip the ladle into the soup—it looked done. “Soup?” he offered again. Albrecht shook his head, prompting the former Megoskyriomachos to sigh. “Fine, no soup for you.”

    “The attempted assassination…” Albrecht said testily.

    “Calm, calm!” Mehtar set down the ladle and raised his hands. “I’m thinking on it! I’m hungry too!”

    “It was Bardas!” Albrecht resumed his pacing. “I know it! If Thomas’ three sons are gone, then Bardas is the logical successor! He has blood from Basil III, he’s a respected commander, he’s Despotes…”


    Bardas Komnenos was perhaps the most obvious culprit. The 48 year old grandson of the infamous Leo Komnenos leads a lion’s brood of Italian Komnenids, and is also still officially Despotes of Italy in the name of Emperor Thomas, even if the title has little authority since the end of the civil war. However, Bardas used both the war and its aftermath to install cronies all over the peninsula, and only reluctantly gave up claims on being Kaisar once Gabriel reached his majority. Descendant of Leo, brother of Basil, he styles himself the leader of the Leonid Komnenids.


    “Bardas is clumsy at best, and brutish at worst when it comes to the darker arts,” Mehtar interrupted, dipping his ladle back into the soup. He brought some of it up to his lips, sipped, and sighed. “Excellent!” he murmured, before offering the ladle out. “You sure you don’t want any?”

    “No!” Albrecht snapped. “For the last time…”

    “Fine. More for me,” Mehtar tsked, grabbing a bowl. “If it was Bardas, he would’ve sent a gang of assassins to try to ambush Gabriel and his brothers on a hunt, not tried some form of subtle poison that escaped the food tasters.”

    “He could have bribed them!” Albrecht announced, his mind now obviously careening down a new potential route of danger. “If he did, that means…”

    “You hand picked those men, did you not?” Mehtar raised an eyebrow as he shuffled over to the modest table and set down his precious soup bowl. “If you hand picked them, trust yourself a little.” At Albrecht’s withering gaze, Mehtar smiled. “I trained you well, and I know you. You wouldn’t have hired anything except the best of the best. It wasn’t that. It simply wasn’t Bardas.”

    “Then who else!?” Albrecht stopped his pacing and hissed at his former mentor. “Bardas has the motive, he has the means to finance…”

    “Any one of that entire wretched family,” Mehtar muttered between spoonfuls. There was too much cinnamon, and not enough onion. He’d keep that in mind next time he made the recipe. “Theodoros in Damietta, for one,” Lainez added. “He has the wealth, and the idle time to plot such an assassination.” Mehtar’s faced winced. Ah… there was the garlic.

    “Go on…” Albrecht urged impatiently.

    “Think on it,” Mehtar said after a moment after spitting the uncut garlic out of his mouth, “Bardas has motive, yes, but Bardas is too busy knocking off errant Italians to even contemplate the planning needed to set up a plot like that. And,” Mehtar added, “he’s too much of a dullard. And that’s not even counting Michael of Antioch.”

    “He’s… a dullard!” Albrecht sputtered. “He’d never come up with anything as precise as staging a poisoning over a thousand miles away!”

    “But his nephew and son are,” Mehtar smiled. “Have you even considered Adrianos, in Edessa? Now there’s a spider for you,” Mehtar went on. He did have some admiration for the man. He’d been only 18 when his father was killed at Tabriz 17 years before, and the young man had turned into a shining example of the good and bad available in the Komnenids. On one hand, he’d turned his principality around, rebuilt its armies, streamlined its taxation, and built roads and infrastructure. On the other, he’d brutally slain all opposition, and any disorder was completely, utterly crushed.

    [i]The additional suspects:

    Prince Theodoros of Damietta, who is know amongst the Arabs of his theme as Abdul Majhid, or “Servant of the Messiah,” as a token of respect. Only 24, Theodoros is perhaps one of the most formidable commanders in the Empire, even though his boorish behavior tends to drive others away. Great-grandson of Eudoxios, brother to Basil III, he has perhaps one of the strongest claims to the Imperial throne outside of the descendants of Basil himself.


    Adrianos of Edessa is likely outside of Bardas the most powerful claimant to the main Komnenid line’s throne. A descendant of the line of Christophoros Komnenos, his claim might be slightly more distant than that of Theodoros of Bardas, but his titles as Prince of Edessa and Coloneia give him an immense amount of power. Still young at 35, Adrianos has been often seen as proud and aloof from politics, but this could easily be a cover for more cloak and dagger activities…


    Michael Komnenos, Prince of Antioch, is perhaps the least threatening of the major claimants. Not only is his claim the most indirect—through the uncle of the Megos—he is also considered something of a dullard. However, both his son Konstantinos and his nephew Anastasios, however, are keen on raising their family’s station to the purple, by any means necessary…


    “Point is,” Mehtar finished, “it’s simply too early to fixate yourself on one suspect. At this stage everyone could be a suspect.”

    “Well, then what should I do?” Albrecht stopped his pacing. “I know diplomacy, not…” he waved his hands about, “assassin’s work!”

    “Well, you could use your mind,” Mehtar said grumpily. His bowl was empty. “Send out official messengers saying the Crown Prince has died.”

    “But he’s walking about, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts whoring about again!” von Franken complained. “Everyone will see through that ruse if…”

    “First, send him away, to Wallachia or something. Your good friend Kokkinos is the Prince there. You trust him with your life?”

    “Yes?” A confused Albrecht sputtered, but Mehtar pressed on.

    “Good. Send good men with the prince, have him lay low for several weeks—long enough to test the responses of the great Komnenoi.” Mehtar started to rise—the soup needed something else with it. “Second, Prince Gabriel isn’t a whore. ‘Whoring about’ is thus an abuse of the Greek language.”

    “He’s a whore!” Albrecht hissed. “He sleeps with…”

    “Does he ask for money for his services?” Mehtar leaned forward, his voice deadpan.

    “No, but…”

    “Then he is not a whore,” the old man gave a toothless grin and leaned back in triumph.

    “But… it’s the scandal of court, and…”

    “Of course,” Mehtar sighed. “The Komnenoi have always had problems with the weight of their trousers.” The old man shuffled towards a nearby room, and soon Albrecht heard the clatter of pots and pans. Mehtar knew what would go best with the soup—a side of meatballs. “Enough of this!” Mehtar called. “Stop worrying, you’ll know your culprit soon enough, and the Crown Prince will be safe! In the meantime,” Lainez began grabbing for some onions and garlic, “I have learned from a Varangian how to make the most wonderful meatballs!” he called a few seconds later. “Come, Albrecht! I hope your chain of office hasn’t made you forget how to cook!”

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


    So there you have it! Who tried to kill Gabriel? Will the Crown Prince be safe in hiding? Will Albrecht and Mehtar discover who is at fault in time? More will be revealed on Rome AARisen!
    Last edited by General_BT; 26-08-2009 at 18:18.
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  16. #2916
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    What it is with ex great assassins that makes them obsessed with their culinary skills?

    Nikephoros seems more than decent, that is if his sanity and body survive for him to take the Western throne. And if he does, things might get REALLY interesting in the west.
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    Good meatballs ftw!

    So, ruse and counter-ruse?
    Very Byzantine, my sir.

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  18. #2918
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    You gotta love Assasination plots.

    I'm calling it now: Antemios will be the next emperor.
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  19. #2919
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    Give me the recipe for the soup and the meatballs please? Oh, and nice writing again.


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  20. #2920
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    Awesome.

    Now, you know...if I was trying to conduct assassinations unhindered...I'd kill off Mehtar first. He really knows...too much.
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