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Thread: Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR

  1. #381
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    Mettermck - Alexander definitely had an influence. Demetrios has not read much, but he's undoubtedly studied some of the great commanders of the past - he tried the Gaugamela charge at Arbela and failed. Here, it worked perfectly, better than Alexander himself achieved. Now it remains to be seen how Nikolaios will fit into the future of the Empire...

    Fulcrumvale - That would definitely be the course of action that would make the most political sense. As we've seen though, Christophoros can be impatient at times...

    Scotticus - Edmund de Normandie is still sitting in Egypt, and now well into his 50s. He shan't last long.

    Lordling - Thank you! Hmm... did it inspire you to start another Komnenid AAR? Looks promising - I'd love to see what Alexios can accomplish with Deus Vult!

    jeffg006 - It was a huge annexation. In game the Seljuk AI tried to mass its troops and I defeated them in detail - an altogether boring outcome I changed slightly for the AAR . With all their troops getting chewed up by Mosul, my other armies easily sieged and took Armenia and Georgia, and I burnt up 25 piety to make peace with my gains. RP-wise, it wouldn't have made sense to take more, even though I could have.
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  2. #382
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    Demetrios gets to go out on top. He came a far way from his sick father's bedside.
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  3. #383
    <_<
    >_>

    Maybe.

    In all seriousness, though, I never actually intended to start off as the Komnenids. I wanted to play a more actual Greek family, but I sort of started reading over the start of this AAR again..

    And then I awoke in a daze, three hours later, and had been playing Crusader Kings as Alexios Komnenos for those hours!

  4. #384
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    LOL.

    Well, those of you waiting for updates will have till perhaps the 1st or the 2nd... but then I promise you there will be a huge slew of updates. I've been working feverishly on several at once... I might have two or three ready by the time my work computer has a good internet connection again (darn my father's lack of broadband!). Sit tight, it'll be a rocky ride!
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  5. #385
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    Excellent! I just got back from vacation, but I can hang on impatiently a few more days.

  6. #386
    Imperator General Ksim3000's Avatar

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    Well, I've just finished reading so far this fine AAR my good sir! Very well written although I will admit, your writing has improved as the chapters have plodded on. More and more have I become intrigued and fascinated at the characters you weeve each chapter.

    Back at the beginning with Anastasia, although she had some intrigue, compare that to the work you have done with Hajnal and the others, she just seemed like a background character in a way. Same with some of the earlier characters. Now? They have more plot to them, more meaning.

    Don't get me wrong, they were entertaining before. But now.....they are just brilliant and entertaining!

    Nice adding the 'Blackadder' in too! Shame we didn't see enough of Edmund although hopefully, we may later on.....even some of his successors! But yes, you fit the "early" Blackadder into the weasly being he was. The later ones, as you know, are more confident, etc.

    I was saddened at Demetrios death. It was.....very touching and moving to read about "The Old Man's Last Charge", his last "victory", born what he was meant to do. Truely excellent.

    Nikolaios is also brilliant! One of my favourite characters overall. You've put in alot of effort with him. It would be interesting though to read a little more about Jacinta and his bastard "step" son. Jacinta I thought would play a more devious role but it seems that honesty trait has kicked in too much. Maybe, though, in time it could be adapted with the growing of her son and the threat from the other heirs that Jacinta becomes a bit more devious herself. Or just saddled to the side constantly at Nikolaios, play the "Imperial" family route well.

    In regards to the Imperial size......WOW! Heh, Demetrios and his clan really did save the Empire. Comparable to Michael VII's rule, the Byzantine's have become a power bloc to be feared once more, not a sick man. Not too sure about the history of the Byzantine's but realistically, I take it by 1120 in our timeline, it was dying very badly? I know it lasted atleast up to the 1400s although I believe it was only to Constantinople itself.

    Lastly, should be fun to see how this turns out for EUIII! If you want to try and develop an interesting world where the other powers remain intact (such as France) you could develop some events or design a scenario so that the world fits in nicely with the Byzantine world.

  7. #387
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    Ksim3000 - Thank you for the wonderful comments and analysis of the writing. Its through readers like you and the others that have commented here that I learn and grow as a writer, one of my main goals when working on this AAR (as well as trying to tell a good story ). Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing what you thought. I hope you think the rest of the AAR is as good as how it started!


    Well, for those of you that can't wait, I spent an hour or so tonight transcribing a small part of what I'd written on my laptop onto my dad's computer so it could be posted. So, consider this your Christmas present a little early - a small taste of what is to come.

    Merry Christmas (belatedly) and a Happy New Year!

    ============================================



    “When enemies are to the left, and to the right, and behold, no friends are within sight, a ruler must turn to himself and his own judgment – such is why rulers are appointed over other men.” – Nikolaios Komnenos, Nikolaid (unfinished work)


    The interior of the Great Palace, looking towards the Octagon


    The funeral had been a grand spectacle, one that befitted someone as powerful and influential as Demetrios the Great, Emperor of the Romans, King of Croatia, Serbia, Syria, Jerusalem, Egypt, Aleppo, Armenia and Georgia, Prince of Dorostorum, Kappadokia, Sinope and Jerusalem. There had been columns of soldiers with black cloaks, a riderless horse with brilliant ostrich feathers, a procession of the greatest and grandest nobles and prelates in the Empire clad all in black. There had been orations and eulogies, calling the late man the Savior of Rome, the Conqueror of the Turks, the Hammer of the Egyptians, and a multitude of other plaudits and titles.

    Yet there was another title that puzzled everyone gathered privately in the Octagon throne room, the doors locked, the throne vacant, their voices echoing off the new banners that hung from the now immaculate, shining ceiling only hours after the greatest Emperor since Basil Bulgarontocus was laid to rest.

    “Beatified?” Christophoros asked quietly, sipping on a jeweled goblet of wine. The Prince of Chaldea and Megos Domestikos’ eyes were still red – he’d wept openly and unashamedly at the funeral service. Nikolaios was fairly sure the tears were genuine and not for show – Christophoros and Demetrios had always been alike, and always been close.

    “Yes, Patriarch Anathasios announced it yesterday,” Nikolaios said quietly, sipping his own goblet. “The Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem agreed, unsurprisingly. Event he Latin Patriarchs in Rome and Alexandria agreed that God had unique blessings for Demetrios, granting him victories, long life, and, “he gestured in mock grandeur around the room, “numerous children!”

    A thin, sour laugh went around the room as the root of their troubles was first spoken about. Arranged around the great throne room were all the living children of the Great Demetrios – the eldest survivor, his daughter Eudoxia, now a 47 year old society matron, Christophoros, 43, Megos Domestikos and Prince of Chaldea, Nikolaios himself, Georgios, 40, comes of Senoussi and Syrte, Theophano, 39 years old and recently appointed Logothetes of the Treasury, Ignatios, fresh faced at 25 at his post of Metropolitan of Trebizond, and finally Romanos, aged 15 on the cusp of adulthood, the future Prince of Edessa.

    Not present were Helene, wife of King Stephen of England, or Etiennette, who was 12 and consoling herself in an alcove of the Hagia Sophia. Also missing were 13 year old Manuel, no doubt discussing affairs of God with his uncle and namesake, and 11 year old Demetrios, likely crying on the shoulder of one of his nannies.

    “Why was he beatified?” Georgios asked. “Didn’t father swear and cuss and f-“

    “Yes he did,” Ignatios cut off his brother with a horrified face. Georgios gave a leering smile to his puritanical younger sibling and laughed drunkenly.

    “The Patriarch has decided, in light of father’s contributions to the welfare of Romanion, it was appropriate to begin the process of canonization – Hagios Demetrios,” Nikolaios said quietly. The Emperor made no mention of the new Metropolitanate of the Sinai, promised to the Church should they move ahead with the process. For a few hundred square miles of dusty but holy desert, Nikolaios had secured his father’s legacy – the bedrock the dynasty was to be built upon.


    An icon from the 13th century, depicted St. Demetrios (Hagios Demetrios) consulting with the Apostle John (left) and Archangel Michael (right)


    “And why was it you dragged us here today?” Georgios grumbled sourly. He was on his fourth goblet of extra strong spiced wine, and it showed. “After such a solemn ceremony, we don’t need more glumness. Would father have wanted us to remember him dressed in black with dour looks?” Georgios held up his goblet to show how he thought Demetrios should be remembered.

    Nikolaios sighed in annoyance. “I’ve asked you all to come here to discuss what becomes of Romanion – I am Basilieus, but the exact makeup and order of succession still needs to be decided. The Empire needs an heir, and everyone, from the dynatoi to the humblest shepherd, is looking to this family,” he said. “If we remain strong, we can keep the throne to ourselves. If we become weak and divided, we’ll join the dusty ranks of Justinian, Maurice, and even the Bulgarontocus – footnotes in some historian’s text.”

    “Won’t your son Michael become Kaisar?” Romanos asked. When groans and moans arose from around the room, he recoiled slightly. “What did I say?”

    “Nikolaios, your son is a bastard simpleton,” the ever sharp tongued Theophano growled, downing her goblet in one gulp. She was three goblets ahead of Georgios, and save for her tongue showed none of it. Nikolaios’ nostrils flared, and Eudoxia raised her hands in a sign of peace.

    “Nikolaios, Theophano did not mean to be so sharp,” Eudoxia lied, “We know that Michael is your only and dear son,” her words dripped with sarcasm, “but there are growing questions about his parentage…”

    “…his grandfather on his mother’s side had blue eyes!” the brown eyed Nikolaios snapped. The constant stream of questions about the growing Michael were becoming unbearable, for many reasons that people had long forgotten.

    “…and while his wits are adequate,” Eudoxia’s society charms smoothed over yet another lie, “they are hardly a match for yours.”

    Nikolaios grunted in defeat. The point was not worth arguing about. An awkward silence hung over the room for a few moments.

    “Well, if we mean to settle the succession, I am a man of the cloth,” Ignatios broke the silence. “There is no possible way I could be co-Emperor.”

    “Afraid without your mummy to guide you?” Georgios cackled, spilling some wine. Ignatios cast a death glare at his older brother.

    “I think we can also safely rule out Georgios,” Christophoros muttered sharply.

    Georgios grinned and laughed again in agreement – wine and women were his forte, not politics.

    “And as formidable as my dear sisters might be,” Christophoros continued, “Empress Eirene was an aberration, not a precedent in the history of Romanion. That leaves Romanos, Manuel, Demetrios or me, and all the others are currently underage,” the Megos Domestikos added coldly.

    “I am one year from maturity!” Romanos shouted angrily. “Everyone forgets me! Everyone always forgets Romanos!”

    “Yet another reason not to pick Romanos,” Theophano hissed.

    “Nikolaios, you have read your Procopius, Tacitus and Herodotus like I have,” Eudoxia added coolly. “You know an empire needs a stable transition of power from one generation to the next. And for now, it looks as if Christophoros is the only one that can promise such a thing for us. He has heirs, you…” she let her words hang like a sword over the room.


    Nikolaios looked down and folded his arms. Michael was not the brightest of the potential heirs by far, and there were public doubts about his parentage, doubts Nikolaios knew to be true. Romanos was prone to excited shouting, ill-considered threats, and other foolishness. Georgios was a drunken lecher. Manuel, while looking to one day be immense capable, was too young. Demetrios cried too much, whined too much, and was too young. Christophoros was the only option, it seemed.

    I am only a caretaker, Nikolaios thought darkly. He’d made that decision long before, when he’d decided to build up his father’s legacy instead of building one of his own. Dynasties were built on the shoulders of heroes, not misplaced academics. On the shoulders of giants, history was made.

    Yet on those giant’s shoulders, there needed to be yet more solid stone to work with. Nikolaios wanted to believe he was such, but he knew that wasn’t true. He had an illegitimate son, he had a dark past, dark whispers of illicit acts, enemies, and a poor public reputation. The screams of Kyrill of Acre still echoed in the whispers of Konstantinopolis.

    Yet Christophoros would be a dangerous option as well. The Empire would need time to absorb her new dominions. Romanion needed peace, yet Christophoros promised impatience and war. Where Romanion needed a period of rest, Christophoros’ desire for sole, complete rule would undoubtedly result in a clash down the line with his more steady, studious brother.

    I still need to guide the process, Nikolaios thought, at least until Christophoros’ heirs were ready. If Christophoros ruled, even as co-Emperor, Romanion would be at war within the month with enemies ranging from the Turks, to the Cumans, to the Normans in Italy.

    Nikolaios arrived at a cross-roads, and after a few more moments thought, he made his choice.

    “I agree,” he nodded to Eudoxia, “but I need no co-Emperor.” He could hear the slight hiss from Christophoros’ direction, and the slight intake of breath from the others in the room. A gauntlet had been thrown, what remained to be seen was whether Christophoros was intelligent enough to let things lie, or stupid enough to assume the statement was a challenge to a duel.

    Nikolaios did not bother looking up, he knew Christophoros’ face was full of anger and disappointment.

    “Christophoros Komnenos, would you be willing to serve your Emperor and Romanion as Kaisar and official heir?” Nikolaios asked. He finally looked up as he heard his brother sigh. Christophoros nodded, but Nikolaios saw his hands clench in frustration.


    The chain of office for the Kaisar of Romanion
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  8. #388
    Imperator General Ksim3000's Avatar

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    When I comment, that is when the updates come rolling in! Hehe. Anyway, nice update!

    So, Nikolaios is now the Emperor? Should be an interesting time although I always thought Nikolaios more of an "advisor" type of person. Lurk in the shadows, give instructions and orders to those at the top, etc. It will certainly be a different time for him being the Emperor in Constantinople.

    Like his quotes you begin with most posts, too! Did you make those up or put them together from a seperate source? If they are of your own mind, they sound very realistic and historical. I could imagine someone in his position commenting with words such as those.

  9. #389
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    What a wonderful family...
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  10. #390
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    And yet another part of the big update I've been working on...

    ======================= ==========================



    Three years later…

    March 9th, 1138




    A sketch for a painting of Nikolaios, second Emperor of the Komnenid Dynasty


    Nikolaios glanced only briefly to the left as he walked towards the private wing of the Great Palace. He saw no less than two younger lords, men of the dynatoi, who smiled somewhat lasciviously at the Basilieus. Old rumors might have died down, but they never died, and there were those that would use whatever flimsy straws they had to grasp at power.

    Nikolaios gripped the tiny crucifix that hung around his neck and muttered another prayer. Since Ioannis’ death, religion had become a solace, a place of healing and hiding from himself and those memories. He’d had urges since Ioannis – but every time he thought about satisfying them, he saw Ioannis’ face, and found himself unable, even ashamed.

    The cross provided some manner of reassurance these past three years. It took only a moron to realize the uneasy power relationship between the now lone Basilieus and his siblings was unstable at best, and could be disastrous at worst. Georgios was still in his perpetual stupor, but there were noises from Senoussi that he wanted more than just two titles of comes. Romanos had ascended to his title Prince of Edessa, with lands in Edessa, Aintab and several comes, and while he was ruling competently, Nikolaios had heard rumors of the comes were plotting against him. Manuel would shortly be headed to Aswan to take his title, and in only three years Demetrios would succeed to the title Prince of Imeretia. Finally, Ignatios was still in his position, and staying completely, utterly silent.

    Christophoros still reigned as Prince of Chaldea, Kaisar and Megos Domestikos, but it was plainly obvious he wanted more. Nikolaios already knew that Christophoros had begun talks with the Princes of Abydos, Croatia and Al Jazira, and Nikolaios had no doubt what the subject was – how to best topple the Basilieus. He knew Georgios was trying to do the same – but the sot had only talked to the comes of Quattara, someone who wasn’t exactly a threat to the throne.

    Added to this was the strain of the new conquests of the Empire. The massive new conquests meant a massive new bureaucracy. No less than seven new principalities had been created, only three of which had been handed to Komnenid princes. Another had gone to the Church, but the remaining three, Al Jazira, Georgia and Armenia, were viewed as lesser lords by the dynatoi – and if Edessa, Aswan and Chaldea were not controlled by Komnenid princes, the dynatoi would have likely ignored them as well.

    In the eyes of the old dynatoi, the Princes of Krete, Hellas, Nikomedia and Butrinto, for example, even older princes that had been added under the Megos, like Tyre, Galilee and Cyrenaica, were beneath them, and the split was growing wider and deeper. Almost by default, the new princes were gathering around Christophoros, himself one of their number.

    The old dynatoi were clustering around Nikolaios, and the tensions were rapidly growing. In the social scene, there was a huge social stink when the Prince of Varna refused to allow his daughter to marry the new Prince of Georgia. Partisans had assaulted the Prince of Varna, and the grandfather of the Prince of Georgia was murdered. Nikolaios had been forced to intervene – yet the symptoms of inner tensions continued to rise.

    Nikolaios walked into the small room, watching both its occupants at their studious work. Yet as he looked, he frowned, and walked over behind the table of the first. Shifting from being an advisor to his father to a full Basilieus in his own right had been a harsh change. Being in the forefront meant that all of Nikolaios’ flaws, alongside his brilliance, were on display – and available as fodder for his enemies.

    Chief of which was the precarious state of his succession.

    Thus, tutoring his two youngest siblings had became Nikolaios’ new tasks when he wasn’t busy governing the Empire. He’d left his own writings often unfinished in his efforts to prepare the youngest generation – maybe some ruling ability could be spread to them before it was too late. Michael’s parentage was more and more in doubt, and Nikolaios was anyway more and more concerned the Prince would not be able to corral the Empire should he ever succeed.


    The Great Palace in Konstantinopolis - center of intrigue in Romanion



    “Manuel,” Nikolaios loomed over his younger brother, peering over Manuel’s brown and blonde locks, “what are you reading?” Manuel was always reading…

    “Nothing,” the younger Komnenos said smoothly, quietly, before turning to face his elder. Manuel looked like a mixture of a Frank and his father’s noble Greek heritage, with a long aquiline nose, a narrow hatchet face, and unkempt locks that alternated between brown in the winter and dark gold in the summer.

    Yet for Nikolaios, the most telling aspect of Manuel were his eyes. Their hazel forms alternated between green when he was content to a steely gray when he was upset. Most telling, however, was when Manuel looked at you. Even at age 16, it seemed like he could see directly through you, deep into your soul with his own still, emotionless eyes. Demetrios Megos’ eyes radiating warmth and heartiness, Nikolaios’ radiating intelligence and cunning, but Manuel’s radiated nothing – no emotion, no warmth, no hate, a simple blank slate.

    There were only three things Manuel ever showed a passion for. The first was the art of governing an empire – he read anything Nikolaios laid before him, and soaked up information on Romanion, her neighbors, even lands as far away as distant Cathay and India. Second, he showed a passion for the Church, spending his evenings with his ancient Uncle of the same name, talking and debating all sorts of theological matters. The third obsession was one that made Nikolaios uneasy.

    “You’re reading the Mithradatium again, aren’t you?” Nikolaios asked warily. There were times Manuel frightened him – he had an obsession with the Mithradatium, the ancient book by King Mithradates of Pontus that compiled all the known poisons in the world and their antidotes. Mithradates, through years of personal experimentation, had discovered and compiled the information in a life long paranoia over assassination. Manuel often commented the irony of the situation – in revealing his secrets, he gave a multitude of assassins the information they needed.


    A jar made to hold the semi-mythical mithradatium, King Mithradates cure for all poisons


    Nikolaios closed his eyes and cursed silently. Of Demetrios’ five other living sons, Manuel seemed the most gifted towards the arts of statecraft. Like Nikolaios, he had an unnatural interest in statebuilding and diplomacy. Like Christophoros, he was gifted with a sword and probably had skills leading men in the field – something they would discover when he took his post as Prince of Aswan in three years. Yet unlike either of them, Manuel showed an interest in subterfuge and the darker sides of statecraft that none of his brothers could match.

    Not just an interest, more an obsession – something that frightened Nikolaios on a basic level.

    “Considering that the nobility of Romanion are like a wild horse…” Manuel started to repeat the same phrase Nikolaios’ mother had drilled into his own head, “sometimes a few doses of ironwood can calm the steed down.” Manuel smiled, something that made Nikolaios shiver.

    “Re-read your father’s Strategikon,” Nikolaios shook his head in dismay. Manuel smiled, nodded, and opened the tome and started reading again. Nikolaios hoped maybe reading how to wage war might corral the prince’s dark mind.

    “When can I read the Strategikon?” a voice piped up, and Nikolaios turned to his second evening charge. Demetrios Komnenos the Younger was the spitting image of his namesake, though at age 14 he did not have his father’s beard, obviously. His voice had yet to fall, and even now hit an annoying falsetto when he felt he was being slighted. Which was often. Nikolaios thought he saw Manuel glare at his younger brother and sneer, but he wasn’t sure.

    “When you’ve finished your basic Plato,” Nikolaios sighed. It was apparent that other than his abilities to wed a wealthy dynatoi’s daughter, Demetrios would have little use in statecraft. He was whiny, combative over the tiniest matters and careless about the greatest.

    Someone cleared their throat in the doorway, and Nikolaios turned to see his only son. Malhaz (known as Michael to the Greeks), with each passing day, looked less and less like his father. Where Nikolaios was tall and dark-skinned, with raven black hair from his Magyar ancestry, Malhaz was short with brown hair and blue eyes. The hair could be explained away, but the eyes could not easily. Jacinta had taken to claiming her grandfather had blue eyes to push away prying minds. Minds continued to pry, every question pushing closer and closer to Nikolaios’ secret.

    He also did not inherit his father’s intelligence or cunning – he was smart, to a fault, but he tended to leap to easy answers, and was surprisingly lazy. Swordplay came easy to him – Latin and Greek did not. Even now, he stood rather dumbly at the doorway for a few seconds before speaking.

    “Uh, father? Uncle Christophoros wishes to see you,” he stammered slightly.

    Nikolaios waved his hand and looked down. Christophoros, since rising to the position of Kaisar, had been placing ever increasing demands on Nikolaios. He’d demanded a war against Beni Halal, a small kingdom on the North African coast once again – Nikolaios had no doubt the purpose of the war would be for the Kaisar and Megos Domestikos to aggrandize lands and titles, increasing his power.

    “A wise man will use a bit of hemlock to solve a problem that would take thousands of soldiers,” Manuel smirked after Michael left.

    Nikolaios stood rooted in his spot, mouth slightly agape. Manuel’s logic was dead on – coldly, methodically accurate – almost inhumanly so. Yet the look in those eyes…

    “I am not going to poison Christophoros!” Nikolaios hissed. “I am going to talk things over with him, offer him the position of Kaisar, and end all this talk of conflict!”

    “Sometimes an Emperor must be ruthless,” Manuel pressed his point.

    “I will not be ruthless against my own brother!” Nikolaios rumbled. “I’ve sinned enough in this life, I won’t add fratricide to the list!”

    “Manuel said nothing about poison!” Demetrios absurdly rose to his brother’s defense. Demetrios didn’t see Manuel sneer again.

    Nikolaios groaned as Christophoros and his entourage swept into the room. He waved Manuel and Demetrios out of the room – the time for tutelage had ended, and the time to rule an Empire intruded once more.


    ================================= =============================



    A map of Northern Africa, showin Romanion and Beni Halal. The small kingdom has only recently expanded north and shifted its capital to Tunis


    “Why Beni Halal?” Nikolaios crossed his arms. The Empire was still absorbing the great conquests of the late Megos, an both were well aware of the ongoing chaos. Adding Beni Halal’s lands would necessitate Nikolaios created two more princedoms, which would strengthen Christophoros’ party, anger the older dynatoi, and in general cause problems.

    “They hold the lands that ancient Carthage was built on, as well as Hippo Regius, where Hagios Augustinos walked the earth,” Christophoros said coolly.

    “And why should I concern myself about ancient cities that no longer exist?” Nikolaios sighed. Carthage had been destroyed by the Muslims in the 8th century. As far as Nikolaios knew, so had Hippo Regius as well. He knew immediately it would be a losing battle – Christophoros was not one to commit to battle unless he’d aligned all his forces.

    Ancient cities that no longer exist?” Christophoros painfully accentuated each word. “I am surprised you do not know from your histories that Carthage was once the third greatest city in the Empire! Half a million souls! Capital of an Exarchate!”

    “In the time of Justinian!” Nikolaios snapped. “We can’t control such an Empire! Justinian’s experience should have…”

    “The Patriarch of Konstantinopolis tomorrow will call for the reconquest of Carthage, that she might be added to the list of holy Patriarchates,” Christophoros smiled thinly. “And the lands held by Beni Halal will prove an ideal springboard for an invasion of Italy…”

    “You get ahead of yourself,” Nikolaios warned. “I am the Emperor, I decide when and where we go to war!”

    “That may be,” Christophoros said, before smiling, “but if the dynatoi, the Patriarch, and the people want war, an Emperor must comply! And,” Christophoros added darkly, “there are many of the new and old dynatoi are fearful that an Emperor who is an Arpad might…”

    Nikolaios started to open his mouth, but nothing came out. It was a thought that hadn’t even crossed his mind – that the nobles might feel he was beholden to the Western Emperor.

    “…might what?” Nikolaios pressed.

    “Might make themselves more beholden to the Western Emperor and his claims on Italy, instead of taking steps to ensure Romanion retakes lands that belong to her,” Christophoros leveled the charge calmly. “You know, and I know, that such beliefs are untrue, but the dynatoi…”

    Nikolaios fumed. He had no doubt that Christophoros had fanned the flames of that rumor. Yet, ambushed as he was, the Emperor could see little way out of it. If he asserted his prerogatives and refused permission, there was now little doubt that Christophoros would complain to those “in the know” that Nikolaios was refusing him access to the natural springboard to Sardinia and Italy – North Africa. Thus the Emperor was ceding Italy to the interests of Rome and the German Emperor, not those of Romanion…

    “Fine, I’ll grant my permission,” Nikolaios grumbled, “so long as you use only the troops the Imperial hand allots you.”

    Christophoros smiled with self confidence and bowed. “Of course, Majesty.”

    Nikolaios closed his eyes. He knew what was coming, and he was powerless to stop it.


    The Romanoi were gifted with the largest fleet in the medieval world, allowing them the ability to launch far-flung invasions like that of Beni Halal
    Last edited by General_BT; 02-11-2008 at 04:40.
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  11. #391
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    Well well. If Nikolaios won't, Manuel might.

    Carthage might be ruined indeed, but Tunis is right next door and a simple matter of renaming might do the trick. Christophoros has the right of it.
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  12. #392
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    I believe the only choice of succession Nik has is Manuel, but I fear the consequences.
    Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. -Isa 41:10

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16
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  13. #393
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    Holiday vacation is up and I'm treated to two more updates! Good stuff as time begins to move forward. I can sense Nikolaios and Christophoros are heading for a conflict, two big egos wanting full power.

  14. #394
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    Manuel looks like a cross between Livia from I, Claudius and Marlo Stanfield from The Wire. I don’t like where this is going…
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  15. #395
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    And part three from the promised slew of updates....


    ============================================




    King Aarif of Beni Halal (in red) surrounded by his advisors


    In 1138, the Roman Empire began military operations against the tiny Kingdom of Beni Halal. Nikolaios released some 15,000 troops to the Megos Domestikos for the operation – some two tagma of the Imperial Guard (the Angeloi and Excubitores), along with troops from his own Principality of Chaldea. The massive invasion force boarded the Imperial fleet in the Golden Horn and off Galatea, and set sail on May 11th, 1138. The armada sailed from Konstantinopolis to Greece, then across the Med to Syrte in Cyrenaica, then from there to Ben Halal.

    The massive invasion fleet, supposedly over 300 ships strong, landed near Bizerte on June 11th, 1138. Christophoros immediately proclaimed the entirety of Beni Halal were lands belonging to Romanion, and demanded that the King recognize the Roman Empire as its rightful overlord.

    Of course, the local Muslim lords refused to recognize the Christian invaders, and to Christophoros’ chagrin, King Aarif refused to meet the Roman armies in the field, instead moving his camel-based army into the desert, fighting from oasis to oasis, striking Roman supply columns and caravans. It would be the start of a long, bloody campaign.

    Meanwhile Manuel finally took his post as Prince of Aswan. He sailed from Konstantinopolis several days after the Armada, and finally arrived at his capital in ancient Thebes on June 9th, 1138. Manuel’s job was made easier by the fact that he was personally granted control of all four comes under his domain. Immediately Manuel began by negotiating a treaty of alliance with the Negus of the Ethiopians. Heretical as they might be, Manuel viewed them as possible Christian allies against minor Muslims along the Red Sea.


    The banner of the Principality of Aswan


    Manuel also reformed the two tagma of the Aswan provincial army, undoing the ten years of corruption that preceded. He stripped most of the [i]kataphraktoi[i/] of their heavy armor, equipped them with larger and more powerful bows, and lighter arms and armor. The tagma became harassing units along the lines of the Muslim armies, yet also formidably disciplined and trained.

    Within a few weeks of his arrival, Manuel had enacted a harsh, if just, legal system, reformed his thematic military, increased the earnings of his Princedom, and earned the grudging respect of his people. Yet on August 5th, 1138, two petitioners wold arrive in his court that would change things forever…

    ================================== ===========================


    Manuel Komnenos, Prince of Aswan


    August 5th, 1138

    “Christophoros?” Manuel looked at the sealed letter and frowned. “He and his force landed in Cyrenaica, correct?”

    “Syrte, Highness,” the messenger nodded. “He sends word that after a night of great feasting and merriment, your brother, comes Georgios of Syrte and Senoussi, has died.”

    “Georgios died?” Manuel asked quietly, opening the letter and looking at the contents.

    “Apparently he fell from the battlements of his sea-side villa in Syrte,” the messenger bowed his head. Clearly the young man was expecting some outburst of grief from the young Prince, for he looked up surprised when Manuel let out a short snort of laughter.

    “Damn fool,” Manuel smirked, handing the proclamation aside to an aid, “he probably was drunk and tumbled off the battlements into the sea.”

    The remaining petitioners settled back into line, and Manuel’s eyes settled back from fierce gray to a more quiet green. Justice was dispensed, laws were promulgated, decrees issued, until the end of the day, when only one petitioner stood before the young Prince.

    At first glance she looked unremarkable – an old woman, clearly in or past her fifth decade, clad in dirty peasant’s clothing. She looked positively, utterly soiled. By her bearing, it was obvious that at one point she was a person of some standing – her back was too erect, there were too few callouses on her hands for her to be a true peasant crone. Most telling to Manuel were her eyes – those of a real peasant would lie downcast in the presence of her social superiors, but this woman looked Manuel in the eyes with defiance and a hint of disdain.

    “Noble Prince, I…” she started to speak in an accent that Manuel immediately placed. The woman was no Arab.

    “Leave us,” he gestured to the guards and courtiers. Manuel leaned back calmly in his chair, and waved for his guards to leave. After the last of them filed out, he folded his hands and looked into her eyes.

    “Hello, Siddiqa,” Manuel smiled darkly. “I know who you are.”

    “You do?” the elderly woman whispered.

    “I do, Madame Logothetes,” Manuel affirmed. “You are welcome in my court, if you stay quiet. You should know all about that,” he added.

    “So, what can you tell me of my brothers?” he asked.

    ============================= ================================


    The late comes of Syrte and Senoussi, Georgios Komnenos


    Meanwhile… the same day…

    Basilieus Nikolaios Komnenos read the letter proffed by some hapless messenger and sighed.

    “He fell from the battlements?” Nikolaios asked, and the poor boy nodded. The Emperor looked down, hissed slightly and shook his head.

    “A shame,” Nikolaios pronounced. Georgios had been handsome, witty, and highly intelligent – if only he’d stayed sober. Nikolaios knew his brother had been plotting to try to take the title Prince of Cyrenaica by force, if not a grander title, yet Nikolaios had never counted Georgios as a significant threat. The comes was too much of a drunkard for anyone to take seriously.

    Yet, Nikolaios thought, someone clearly had.

    Georgios’ villa was close to the sea, yes, but it had no battlements above the water. Someone had killed him and thrown him into his watery grave. And Nikolaios thought he knew.

    He waved the messenger out, and after the young man was gone, he rubbed his crucifix with added urgency. It was already beginning.

    ============================== ==============================


    The ruins of the Romanoi palace in Thebes, as seen in August of 2001


    Meanwhile, in Thebes…

    For the guards and courtiers of Thebes, it seemed like an eternity passed before through the doors they heard a call from their Prince to re-enter. The more observant of them might have seen by the courtyard sundial that no more than twenty minutes had passed.

    As the doors opened, they heard the last part of a sentence said by their lord.

    “…had to end like this,” Manuel said harshly, his eyes flashing a steely gray. “Vile slanderess!”

    “It is the truth!” the old woman shouted with equal fury. “Your brother, the Emperor, is a murderous catamite! He soiled the son of a great general, your family name and the office of Emperor! By law, he must…”

    “You claim to know the law, old woman!” they heard their lord spit with a vehemence they had never seen before. “Then here is the law! Guards!” the young Prince barked with a voice the veterans in the room had only ever seen come from the Megos himself, “Arrest this woman! She has slandered my family name, and slandered the name of the Emperor! I condemn her to be hung within the hour, until her life has left her!”

    Hands grabbed Siddiqa, and roughly pulled her from the room. Some of the more observant courtiers might have caught a hint of a smile on their Prince’s face, then dismissed it.


    Siddiqa Mazin, killed by Prince Manuel…



    ============================= ===========================

    So Christophoros has his campaign. Yet numerous questions now remain - who killed Georgios? What did Siddiqa claim to tell Manuel, and what will he do with the information? How will the Beni Halal campaign turn out? These questions and more will be answered as future updates of Rome AARisen continues!
    Last edited by General_BT; 02-11-2008 at 04:41.
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  16. #396
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    Siddiqa has a cameo and then promptly dies. A shame, perhaps, though she's too old by now to play the seductress. I liked the campaign narrative, I think it's a good move to turn the heavy horse into bowmen. I look forward to the Roman victory!

  17. #397
    Strategos ton Exkoubitores Fulcrumvale's Avatar
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    Remind me never to cross Manuel. Ever.
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  18. #398
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    Fulcrumvale - What a wonderful family indeed. When you have that much power and such a large brood, all sorts of interesting people are bound to be present.

    In many ways, Manuel is what Hajnal wanted Nikolaios to become - intelligent and utterly ruthless. WHat remains to be seen is if he can turn his position in far off Aswan, on the very fringe of the Empire, into something meaningful.

    Mettermck - Yes, the main contest between Nikolaios and Christophoros is coming up. If Christophoros can win a decisive victory in North Africa, he'll return a hero of the army, the church and the people in the forefront of thousands of veteran troops. If he loses, Nikolaios stands to gain much - so you'll have some interesting politics developing in the next update from this!

    Nikolai - Nikolaios fears the succession of Manuel as well - the Emperor is not quite sure how dangerous, or even sane, Manuel might be...

    RGB - Indeed, Tunis is built right next to the ruins of old Carthage. Should Christophoros win, that would definitely be his likely course. Chances are high that the Patriarch of Constantinople would take the chance to raise a new Patriarch there as well, increasing the number of Orthodox Patriarchs (4 - Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Carthage) versus Latin (2 - Rome, Alexandria). So Church politics might soon enter the fore as well.

    Ksim3000 - Nikolaios had served as more of a shadows, advisor type to his father, but he also held the title of co-Emperor, meaning when Demetrios finally died, Nikolaios was left sole Emperor of the Romans. He views himself as more a care-taker, but he's unwilling to surrender the primary Emperorship to any of the viable claimants - Christophoros is too reckless, Manuel too amoral, other siblings with their own vices, so he's soldiering on, on his own, until a viable option comes along.

    As for Nikolaios' quotes, I made then all up.
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  19. #399
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    Well... here's another teaser of what is to come...

    ==============================================




    Alexandria's harbor castle, seat of the de Normandie regime



    Edmund de Normandie, Duke of Hampshire and Alexandria, called 'the Black Adder,' grumpily sat on his throne. He was already in his fifties, his dark hair rapidly going gray, and wrinkles only adding to the sour, slouched look he gave as he sat in his study.

    The reason for his fuming lay on a table before him. A map of Egypt revealed the situation.




    Edmund ruled what remained of the Crusader Principalities in Egypt. On all sides of him, however, were arrayed the forces of the Greeks, who called themselves Romans. On top of the map lay yet another letter from Constantinopole, where the Greek Emperor, almost by tradition now, had sent his monthly letter asking Edmund to swear loyalty to him. The letters had been coming since 1120, and Edmund had no idea when they would stop.

    "By St. Patrick and the Leaping Lephrechauns of London!" Edmund cursed. "Another letter!"

    "From the Greeks, milord?" Baldrick, Edmund's bondsman and right hand man asked.

    "What does it say?" the Lord Mayor of Alexandria, Lord Percy Percy, Edmund's rather useless left hand man said. Edmund glared at Percy.

    "It says what all of them say!" Edmund snapped. "Demands my loyalty and fealty! That I adopt the iconoclast faith! That I restore the Greek Patriarch! And there's nothing my brother, or the Pope, or the Latin Kings in Europe are willing to do to help me if the Greeks decide they want to take my lands from me!"

    "Aren't the Greeks busy fighting a war?" Baldrick asked.

    "Didn't you help the Greeks once?" Percy asked, making Edmund's face darken. "'Edmund, you shouldn't have helped the Greeks thirty years ago! It was foolishness!'" Percy said in his best impression of a deep, rumbling voice.

    "Percy, what was that?" Edmund turned, eyes icy.

    "I was saying what your father would have said, right now," Percy smiled. "It was a good impression, wasn't it?"

    "Ah. Well, I can do an impression of your father right now," Edmund snarled, before giving Percy a good kick to the shin.

    The Lord Mayor of Alexandria howled, and began hopping on one leg.

    "As I was saying," Edmund began anew, looking at the map, "We are surrounded on all sides by the Greeks who call themselves Roman. To our west lies their province of Cyrenaica, to our south their province of Aswan, and to our east their province of Ascalon. They are no friends to us. Now is the time when great men would gather great comrades around themselves to take on an enterprise against insurmountable odds..."

    "Thank you, milord, for showing such confidence in us," Baldrick said pleasantly.

    "...unfortunately I am surrounded by dolts and imbeciles who could not spell pot if they were spotted the p and the o," Edmund complained, before sinking to his throne. "Fortune farts at me once more, Baldrick."

    "Speaking of which, are there any more of those wonderful beans and turnips that the cooks prepared?" Percy asked. He'd finally stopped hopping and contented himself with a ridiculously fake limp.

    "I will go and check, milords!" Baldrick quickly disappeared into the kitchen.

    ==================================== ====================


    Baldrick clambered down the stairs into the palace kitchens, and deeply inhaled. The air was filled with smells - breakfast leftovers still warming in pots, and the starting smells of a lunch being prepared. Baldrick went from one kitchen to the next, until he turned a corner... and there she was.

    "Berenice," Baldrick looked down and smiled shyly.

    "Hello, Baldrick," Berenice smiled at him, showing a mouth full of straight teeth. Baldrick looked up, only far enough to catch her thin waist and full bosom that stretched her tunic.

    "How fares your master today?" she asked, replacing some of the cutlery.

    "He is...um... upset. The Greeks have sent him letters again," Baldrick stammered slightly.

    "Oh, poor creature," Berenice tsked. "Baldrick," the woman smiled, setting down some of the cutlery she was carrying, "why isn't your master King of Egypt yet?"

    Baldrick stopped leering for a moment, long enough for his face to go blank with confusion. "I... I don't know. Why?"

    "Because," she came up close to the bondsman and tapped his forehead gently, "you, with your great bit witty head of yours, haven't told him it would be a good idea!" She backed away slightly. "It'd be a pity if I cannot stay because your master is merely a Duke, while mine is a Prince..." She drew close, extremely close, once more. "I've grown fond of you, and I would miss you oh so terribly..."

    "I..um..." Baldrick stammered.

    "I would hate to go back to Prince Manuel's court down in Thebes," Berenice sighed. "He is very mean."

    Baldrick nodded. Berenice had been a gift of goodwill between one of the Greek Princes and his lord and master - the Greeks had said that she was an excellent cook, and everyone in the Alexandria palace had come to agree.

    "I..."

    "Doesn't your master trust you to give him ideas?" Berenice prodded slightly.

    "Uh... yes! Yes he does!" Baldrick announced proudly.

    "Well then," she cooed, running a hand lightly over Baldrick's rapidly receding and gray hairline, "maybe you should go talk to him!" With those parting words, she smiled, showing the cheery dimples in her cheeks, and sashayed away from him.

    Baldrick watched her behind as she left.

    If only he'd understood why her smile was so broad...


    ============================== ==========================

    "Greeks here, Greeks there, I say, the Greeks are everywhere!" Percy chortled.

    "Shut up!" Edmund growled, looking at the map once more. Finally, in a rage, he tore it off the table and flung it to the floor. They were surrounded, far from England, and his brother showed no signs of helping Edmund out of his predicament. It seemed time was on the Greek side, and not even the Pope was willing to call for a crusade on fellow Christians, however heretical and iconoclast they might be.

    Edmund looked up just in time to see Baldrick come running into the room, sans beans of any sort. He skidded to a halt just before Edmund's throne, and began jumping up and down excitedly.

    "Baldrick, did you eat the beans enroute?"

    "No, milord!" Baldrick continued jumping.

    "Well, then why are you jumping around more than a flea that has fallen into a lava pit?" Edmund growled.

    "I have a cunning plan!" Baldrick announced.

    "Really?" Edmund said sourly. "Was it as cunning as your plan to make the Nile flow backwards so we could cross it? Or as cunning as your plan to place this palace onto a large ship, and sail us around the Mediterranean?"

    "No, it is more cunning than even those!" Baldrick smiled inanely, finally coming to a halt in his jumps.

    "Baldrick, I would advise you to make what you are about to say absolutely phenomenal," Edmund warned. "I was incredibly hungry, and Berenice's 'bean and turnip surprise' is one of my favorite meals!"

    "You should declare yourself 'King of Egypt!'" Baldrick nodded enthusiastically.

    Edmund's eyes glinted, and he promptly stood up from his throne and grinned inanely as well.

    "Yes! I, Edmund, shall be King of Egypt!" the Prince immediately struck a semi-heroic pose. Fortunately only Percy and Baldrick were present to witness the event. "I shall simultaneously be rid of the Greeks, and be out from under my brother's thumb! It shall force the Pope to call a Crusade to come help me!"

    "And all the lasses love Kings!" Percy giggled. Edmund's reverie came to a screeching halt, and he glared at his comrade.

    "How shall I make this happen, Baldrick?" Edmund asked.

    "I don't know," Baldrick's head went down, as if the floor of the palace was suddenly immensely interesting. "That was the part I haven't gotten to yet."

    "Pah!" Edmund growled in disappointment for a moment, until an idea hit him. Within seconds, the inane grin had returned.

    "Percy! Fetch me the Patriarch of Alexandria! I shall have him crown me King of Egypt!"

    "Which one?" Percy asked quietly.

    "The Patriarch!" Edmund snapped.

    "Which one? There's a Latin one and a Greek one."

    "Which one do you think?!" Edmund said testily. "The Greek Patriarch has been dethroned, and won't even speak my name without first praying for my damnation!"

    "I hardly think you should ask me to get him for you," Percy said with concern. "I don't think damning is part of the coronation process."

    Edmund raised his hands up to heaven and growled again. "Come here, Percy."

    Percy walked over, and Edmund smacked him in the head.

    "That is for wasting my time by telling me damnation is not a part of a coronation!" Edmund yelled. "Now, go get the Latin Patriarch, and have him come here and crown me King of Egypt!"


    The proposed coat of arms for the Kingdom of Egypt
    Last edited by General_BT; 02-11-2008 at 04:41.
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  20. #400
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    The coat of arms for the King of Egypt is my favorite in CK, just reeks of Crusader greatness. It might not be cunning, but I like the idea, even if it will be short-lived beneath the boot of the Empire to which a casus belli was just given.

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