I can't believe that no one has posted in this thread in over 24 hours!! And furthermore I am even more amazed that the Crusader Kings AAR forum is active enough to have no less than nine (9!!) threads pass by "Rome AARisen" in that time.
Any chance at an update?
update now omg >;[
you only live to make updates for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
(Srs: Could we get one soon, I'm drier than goat's turds that have been sitting by the road for a week)
And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it." Amen.
When Andronikos inevitably bites the bullet will you make a picture summarizing his reign? It's been ages since we've had one! ;D
Additionally, Gabriel probably deserves one despite never returning to the City All Men Desire.
I think the last nifty reign summary we had was back with Thomas II? I can only really remember the ones from Basil and his predecessors.
We're clearly overdue for a few more...
Thomas III the Builder (contemp. Gabriel the Desert Lion)
Nikephoras the Restorer (assuming the senior Basiline line retains the throne and has a propaganda department)
Andronikos Ever-August (Trying to come up with a nice variant off of Octavius's Augustus)
I just noticed...Andronikos has been around for over a third of the pages in this AAR. Indubitably this is more a testiment to the AAR's ever growing camp of followers, and not his lengthy reign, but still.
-Succession dispute...two sons dead-
-Succession dispute...delayed till Alexios older-
-Succession dispute...really a continuation of the Second War of Thomasine Succession and the War of Basiline Succession-
-Succession dispute...once again, same issue...Gabriel just won't die...-
-Forecasted War of Andronikine Succession...perhaps with a Second War of Basiline Succession between the Davidic and Thomasine lines-
So looks like the only fairly painless successions were after Manuel and after Thomas I...and the latter was this close to being usurped by the Dauist Regency.
Perhaps the Second War of Basiline Succession will kill off enough of the cadet branches that the victor will be able to set up a cleaner system.
Seemed about the AAR to me.Well there won’t be an update this week, chiefly because something special is (hopefully) in store next week! But I don’t want to leave people hanging, so in the meantime, let’s talk commanders!
RGB - Fair points. I more stuck Demetrios there out of the stability he provided than real combat performance. He was good, but on that alone yes, he'd be lower. It depends on one's definition of "best general."
wolfcity - There's at least one person who wants to do just that (beat the self-confidence out of Rome) who'll be appearing in the next regular update...
phargle - It's occasionally nice to drop some of the in-game things to remind everyone that yes, there was a CK game buried in all of this. Some of the martials I had to estimate, since I didn't have screenshots or savegames available, but for those I tried my best to keep it consistent. Some of the Mongols I have no idea what martial they would have. Genghis Khan would have at least a 30.
Enewald - It's been forever since I've seen that. Brings back memories!
Bagricula - There might be something about piracy in the next update... possibly...
Zzzzz... - Well, Basil's Intrigue was a 12... it was the same as his father's. I wrote Manuel as being far more evil and devious (as well as capable) with his 12 Intrigue because he also had the traits that would fit it--deceitful, namely. Basil's primary traits didn't go well with a backstabber (merciful, temperate, etc.), so he wasn't written as such. He was so focused on doing the honorable thing he often willfully ignored more dishonorable (but probably wiser) choices to deal with problems (for example, the French ambassador and his spy network).
FlyingDutchie - I think Thomas II really depends on which Thomas II you're talking about. The early (aka sane) Thomas II was almost like Basil pt. 2--he used small armies to bamboozle opponents, and strategically was at the genius level. Even when he had a big army prior to Neapolis, he bided his time and basically forced Genghis Khan to accept battle in unfavorable conditions. Then he went bonkers, and insane Thomas II fought like you described... knockdown, slugfest, bludgeon the opponent to death.
Maybe I should've had two rankings for our favorite insane emperor...
vadermath - Unfortunately, whiny ungrateful manchildren have a bad habit of cropping up in government, be it monarchy or democracy...
JackTheRipper21 - I thought about that, and I decided greatest rebels should get an interim all to itself sometime down the line. In retrospect, Adhid should be on that list probably. In terms of generalship, not many of the rebels so far have been phenomenal commanders.
--Hajnal's plot didn't involve the military at all.
--Siddiqa's military side was run by the Prince of Dorostorum, who turned out to be a military incompetent.
--Basiliea's plot fell apart after the Venetians suffered a disaster at Rhodes.
--Zeno's takeover was political, and nearly led to a military debacle.
--Christina of Dau's takeover involved a military backstab, and then perpetually keeping the army busy in Italy while she secured power herself.
--Adhid Kosaca's brilliant campaigning was short lived.
--Andreas Kaukadenos was undone by Bardas in Italy, and unfortunately choice of allies in Arnaud Capet.
--Bardas perhaps came the closest, besting Gabriel himself in battle and was poised to deliver the coup de grace until he was assassinated.
There'll be quite a few rebellious people shortly who could challenge many of the people on this list.
Carlstadt Boy, Leviathan07, Avalanchemike, von Sachsen - The special event is in the AAR, and it's so special I have to wait on it too (and I'm just as excited as everyone else)! I've been working on an update in the meantime, if we're lucky, we might have a special thing/update one two punch this week...
Panjer- I've been bad, I promised to do them again and again, and I haven't yet. I think what I'm going to do is do Thomas III/Gabriel/Nikephoros along with Andronikos when his reign ends. Bang, all of them at once.
Last edited by General_BT; 02-03-2011 at 09:29.
The Good One - Rome AARisen, a Byzantine AAR (Third map epilogue, 5-02-2012!)
Table of Contents
The Funny One (In Theory): Vikan Vojislavljevic is a Fool (Dead)
The HOI2 One (Dead): Two Alexanders: Greece in the Age of Conflict (HOI2-Doomsday)
The Teenage Girl One: Dear Diary, by Helene Palialogos (NEW UPDATE 06-10-10!)
Or another lecture on 13th century Islamic history by Prof. Calipah
1. Islam's comparative comfort with merchants is spreading into Christian parts of the Empire
2. Catholic Europe's concept of legal persons i.e. cities, guilds, companies that exist beyond the life of any real person is spreading to the Muslim parts of the Empire.
The Kommenids have shown great dexterity with administrative innovation -- Spain, France, Mecca, Persia...I wonder if the local law courts and commercial practices have been similarly flexible and inventive.
We could be seeing the rise of impersonal transactional commerce and capital markets early...certainly, Albrecht needed some way of financing Thomas III's innumerable buttresses, and tax collection and concentration probably creates a healthy lag between income and expense.
If not those, then certainly Gabriel's endless war should have spurred some innovations in terms of time-shifting government finances.
While we all wait for the special thing, I have a special surprise of my own...
...a new update!
"What can my enemies possibly do to me? My paradise is in my heart…” – Taqi ibn Taymiyya
October 19th, 1296
Alexandros II Komnenos, Basilieus and Shahanshah of Persia looked around the small room in the bowels of the Palace of Isfahan. Torchlight made grotesque shadows of the only two other faces in the room—that of his brother and heir, Prince Isaakios, as well as his former nursemaid, now spymistress, the aged Agnes of Perigord.
Their faces were solemn, grim even, as hard as any kentarchos preparing to face the enemy on the field of battle. For surely, a battle was the best description of what was to come.
Alexandros paced casually to the center of the Small Council Chamber, one hand lazily drumming a tune on the small table in midst of the room, while the other fingered the clasps on his new breastplate. It was the latest idea from the metalsmiths in Damascus—a solid plate of high quality steel, to go over or replace a chain cuirass. It was lighter, but not as flexible. Alexandros had taken a liking to the new style, if only because the steel breastplate made a lovely palette to engrave his family crest—a two headed lion rampant.
For a moment, silence hung in the air between the three people, the most powerful in Persia. Then, with the same boldness that led him into the teeth of armies, Alexandros dove into the fray.
“I’m going to Konstantinopolis.”
By the looks on their faces, they’d known his words were coming—really, who wouldn’t? The grandson of Gabriel, blessed by success after success, still hale and hearty after 43 years, seemed destined to make a ride for the Throne of Caesars.
That didn’t mean they would approve.
Alexandros settled his eyes on his lone brother. The Prince of Persia had held his post as heir for almost 20 years. His nose hooked down, huge eyes making his face look like that of a falcon. His hair was close-cropped to his skull, a severe look that complimented a severe face. Where Alexandros was flamboyant, Isaakios was quiet. Where Alexandros was eloquent, Isaakios was brusque, even vulgar, a side of his tongue that erupted in an explosion worthy of Vulcan immediately after his brother’s quiet words.
Alexandros was used to his brother’s eruptions of profanity. He stood calmly while torrents of words defiling Alexandros’ sanity poured out. The hurricane of words lasted a full minute, then another.
“Do you know how many plots I had to swat down while you were playing in Germany?” Isaakios finally hissed. “For a while, I swear there was an assassin a week!” the Prince looked imploringly over towards Agnes de Perigord. “Agnes, tell him!”
“Your cousin,” the now ancient Agnes hissed, “sent agents left and right into Isfahan, and Baghdad! My men executed three who were officers of the Gond, and no less than sixteen who worked in the palace, including all the musicians! Don’t you…”
“Think he’ll do the same as soon as I move? Yes,” Alexandros agreed. “And you, dear Agnes, will swat the plots aside as easily as you did the whole time I was in Germany! Agnes, Isaakios,” Alexandros leaned over the table, “The diadem is there!” Alexandros extended an open hand, “Right there, within my grasp! They loved me!” he pointed at himself. “Who would the people of The City have? Who would the army rather have? A leper? A bastard? Any number of children?” he snapped, “Or a warrior? You heard them chant in Baghdad! ‘Megas reborn!’”
“I heard no such thing in Baghdad!” Agnes looked around in confusion.
“I heard it!” Alexandros snapped. It was clear as day to him, amidst all the calls and cries in Farsi, Greek, and Arabic!
Hail Iskander, new Demetrios of Persia!
It was then he knew it was his destiny! Fate spoke to him through that nameless voice in the crowd! Alexandros was the heir to Gabriel, the true heir to Thomas II. Of course he was to regain his grandfather’s rightful throne! Of course he was meant to raise Konstantinopolis to new heights, new glories! God, fate, had already ordained it! Hadn’t he, Alexandros, crushed the Germans at Sisak? Hadn’t he beaten the Aionites with half an army? Wasn’t his name, Alexandros, a sure sign he was meant to conquer?
“I heard it!” Alexandros repeated, glaring at those gathered in the Small Council Chamber. Did they question him? Did they question the words he heard? Did they think he couldn’t do it?
Oh, but he would! Without their help, if need be!
He knew the names of those who would help him—a great many men, a great many powerful men. Men who wanted to see Romanion ruled by a warrior emperor, a strong emperor, once more! Men who knew the leper was too weak, and the usurper too feeble. Men who wanted a son of Gabriel on the throne!
“I want grain depots prepared for ten vashti to march into Anatolia in the spring of 1298,” Alexandros spoke calmly, as if all the opposition voiced so far was nonexistent. He was the High King of Persia, and by God, his will, not theirs, would be done!
By the looks on their faces, neither his brother, nor his spymistress could believe their ears. Very well.
He repeated his command.
“Are you mad?” Agnes snapped straight to the point.
“I am not mad!” Alexandros roared. “I am the King! By God, I will not deny my destiny because of your…ninnying!”
“It’s not ninnying, Alexandros, it’s…!” Isaakios started to explode, but like a mountain before a storm, Alexandros stood his ground. Words of caution, of anger, words calling him a child, foolish, arrogant, they washed off of him like so many streams tumbling down a mountainside. All that remained was him, and his will, when five minutes later the tumult died, and all saw their words were for nothing.
Alexandros Komnenos would have his way, come hell or high water.
When the barrage ended, he glared back at them, his mind focused, his aim true.
“I want depots prepared for ten vashti,” he repeated calmly.
“Only ten?” Isaakios slumped into his chair. There! Alexandros knew victory when he saw it. Agnes, for her part, merely rolled her eyes—so she’d surrendered as well.
“I want to keep half the army in Persia, just in case,” Alexandros said calmly. “I won’t be going into Romanion alone. I’ve been contacting… allies…” the King smiled, “behind both your backs.”
Agnes started to sputter.
Before his spymistress could complain any further, Alexandros cut her off. “I knew you’d both disapprove, so I went ahead alone. Know I’ve secured 50,000 or more men. Good men,” he turned to his brother, answering Isaakios’ unspoken question before it could find voice.
“Where from?” Agnes asked, clearly surprised.
“Does it matter?” Alexandros said quietly, walking over to the shelves that housed the maps of the Roman world. Testily, he tossed through them. “I have fifteen more tagmata to back the invasion. Whether they’re fodder or line troops, it’s no matter. The bastard in Konstantinopolis will have to watch them as well as me.” Finally, his fingers found the standard map of Anatolia. Deftly, it was suddenly splayed across the table.
“And that,” the King grinned triumphantly, “gives us the advantage. Now, Isaakios, you’ve guarded my flank for years, you’ll stay in Persia. On my taking of Konstantinopolis, you’ll be Autokrator ton Persion. Ioannopoulous, Sharzad, they’ll form two arteshti, and march…”
February 19th, 1297
“…and that’s why David Komnenoedessa will bow to logic. Now…”
Tourmachos Sostratos Meleniou blinked, as three pairs of eyes bored in on him. He hadn’t meant to intrude on their conversation—indeed, there had been many things he hadn’t meant or expected this day—seeing the inside of the Kosmodion for starters, then the Great Audience Hall, then the Apartment wing of the palace, for example. But all the wonders of the day, casually passing by as he followed the white robed chamberlain through the palace, could not prepare him for what was before his eyes after the servants opened the bronze door at the end of the hall.
He remembered the first time he’d met the Megas Doux face to face—old David Tzetas was known as a gruff man, but even his ferocious gaze didn’t hold him fast like the sight before him. Sostratos would have normally frozen under the gaze of two Princes of the Empire, but when a face covered by a steel mask dancing orange in the torchlight rose to look at him, Meleniou felt his heart stop beating.
What to say? What did one say?
“Ah…um…” he stumbled, falling to his knees, then prostrating himself on the floor in the awkward silence. Was it Highness? Majesty? Excellency? Meleniou was used to barking orders to lowly rascals that passed for sailors! He had no idea how to address an emperor! No one had told him he would be meeting two Princes of the Emperor, as well as their brother, one of the two emperors!
The three had been in mid-conversation when the door had opened—indeed, Prince Manuel had stopped in mid sentence. Silence hung in the room as the chamberlain closed the door behind him. To Meleniou, the clunk sounded akin to a great prison door being shut tight. Despite being face down on the floor, despite facing an emperor and three high officers of state, the mere Tourmachos couldn’t help himself… he glanced up, trying to reassure his mind this was, indeed, real.
“And this is…” the youngest man present, with long locks and a thin beard, nodded towards the tongue-tied Sostratos. Meleniou recognized the face—Leo, Hypatos of Sicily.
“Nikephoros?” the tall shaven-headed man Meleniou assumed was none other than Archeoikos Manuel grunted, “Is this your solution to our…um… strategic problem I asked about?”
Sostratos’ eyes went over to the final figure—no one who’d seen the triumph six years before would have forgotten the silver mask of Nikephoros, co-Emperor of the Romans. He was clad from head to toe in white silks and linens, his silver mask bearing a fixed smile.
“Indeed, it is,” his muffled voice said. “This man is here in case common sense does not work with some of them. Arise, Tourmachos Meleniou.”
At Nikephoros’ words, Sostratos looked up uneasily. A golden ring encasing a silken glove hovered in front of him. Meleniou kissed it, then unsteadily rose to his feet as commanded. Why was he here? Who were they talking about?
“Tourmachos, allow me to introduce Prince Leo Komnenos, Hypatos of Sicily,” the masked emperor said gestured to the younger, longer haired of the two princes present, “and Prince Manuel, Archeoikos. I believe,” Sostratos thought he heard a slight laugh in the voice, “you know who I am.”
“Yes… Majesty. Yes, Your Majesty,” he nodded quickly.
“Tourmachos?” Prince Manuel openly looked Sostratos up and down. Meleniou couldn’t decide if it was a look of approval, or the look a leopard gave sizing up a man. “I was unaware that the Thake had any standing flotillas?”
Sostratos instinctively looked down under those eyes—he was no rival, especially not to the new Archeoikos.
“We do not, um… Highness,” Meleniou said.
“Meleniou here,” the masked emperor warmly set a hand on Sostratos’ slightly trembling shoulder, “was awarded the title as an honor after he and his ship went ashore and singlehandedly cleared out a nest of pirates that had set up on Icaria…”
“The ones that’d taken the Prince of Samos captive!?” the youngest prince squeaked, his eyes wide as saucers as he turned to Sostratos. “You rescued him?”
“Me and my crew, yes,” Meleniou said quietly.
Meleniou wasn’t sure if he deserved all the plaudits laid at his feet after that affair a year before. Pirates were often only as good as the refuges they could find, and the Aegean was sprinkled with hundreds of islets, dozens uninhabited and offering the perfect anchorage would be ruffians. The pirates that took the Prince of Samos’ pleasure boat after it’d drifted off its moorings in the night were nothing unique—they were a band of ex-fishermen and ex-soldiers, probably driven by hunger as much as greed. Like most of the Aegean rabble, they boarded the ship during the dead of night, slaying the few on watch that resisted, before taking craft. They’d been surprised to find out they’d actually taken a Prince as well… and demanded a hefty ransom for his safe return.
It was almost blind luck that Meleniou and the Philomena stumbled on those pirates at all—Sostratos still remembered when eagle-eyed Isaakopoulos spotted a light on a small islet off Chios. Sostratos almost didn’t order his ship to turn port towards the light—Philomena’s hull was leaking, and she was due in drydock at Konstantinopolis—but curiosity got the best of him. They approached from the back side of the small island, and Sostratos as well as five of his men took to shore.
Meleniou had half expected the camp to be nothing more than a group of fishermen who’d beached themselves for the night—Isaakopoulos even brought some extra bread to share with them if that were the case. However, when between the trees Meleniou saw the glint of blades dancing in the torchlight, bound captives laying in the sand, he knew what he was dealing with.
The pirates were run of the mill ruffians—Sostratos’ men were battle-hardened Navy men, trained for years in the art of killing.
It wasn’t even a fight.
“I’ve heard the tale,” Prince Manuel smiled. A shiver went up Sostratos’ spine—everything about the man screamed a soul that could make a Varangian winter feel like Africa. “Brave and cunning men will be useful aplenty in the coming days. But, is he a loyal man?” As quickly as it’d appeared, the smile vanished—a frigid stare in its place.
“The Megas Doux himself vouched for him,” Nikephoros patted Sostratos’ shoulder again. “He said Meleniou was the best tactician in the whole of the Thrake, and he trusts him utterly.” The masked Emperor turned, and Sostratos swore he saw the man’s eyes twinkle. “We you aware your commanding officer spoke of you so highly?”
“Uh…um… No, Your Majesty. I…I do my best,” Sostratos swallowed, wondering what he’d gotten himself into. The Megas Doux had promised the assignment at the palace was prestigious. He said nothing about… any of this. No mention of the Princes, an emperor, or loyalty. No mention that he was to be a liaison… nothing. Why would he…
“Ah,” the Archeoikos smiled grimly, “so you’re our backchannel to the Megas Doux then, so that none of the rats will know we have the fleet?”
“Yes, I…um… suppose,” Meleniou said, everything falling together. So things were as bad as rumors suggested? Meleniou, like many in the fleet, had thought all the talk of angry siblings and plots to seize the throne was idle gossip. Everyone expected a struggle with Persia—some were even looking forward to it. But if the co-Emperor, the head of all spies and the senior Emperor’s favorite son were all here…
“How can I be of service to Your Highnesses…and, um… Your Majesty?” Sostratos quickly added. They’d certainly tell him what to expect, and tell him only what he ought to know.
“We need the navy,” Nikephoros said simply, quietly. “What you are about to hear must stay within your head, and never cross your lips unless you are alone with us in confidence, or alone with the Megas Doux in the same. Understood?”
“Ah… Yes, Majesty!” Sostratos said eagerly.
“Wine?” Nikephoros gestured. For the first time, Sostratos noticed a small table in the center of the room, chairs scattered around. Maps lay tossed about in the middle, while off to one side sat the finest silver goblets and jug Meleniou had ever seen. He blinked for a second, before suddenly realizing that the emperor was looking at him expectantly.
“Ah…yes, thank you, Your Majesty!” Meleniou struggled. Before any more words stumbled out of his mouth, he found a goblet in his grasp, and an imperial hand motioning him to one of the chairs. He sat down, grateful his weak knees didn’t let him fall into his seat.
“Where should we begin?” Nikephoros sat on the edge of the table, before motioning to the Archeoikos.
“I…we…” Prince Manuel spoke, “have information that Exarch Makrinokomnenos has plans to raise the Hispanikon Stratos to war footing at some future date. Grain depots are being restocked, and the soldiers are getting advance payment.”
“Campaign gold,” Prince Leo clarified. Sostratos nodded.
“There is of course the Persian threat,” Manuel continued, “and…ungrateful…elements in Italy are spoiling for a fight. We simply don’t have the armies to fight Persia, secure Italy, and Spain. So, in short, we need the fleet, and more importantly,” the Prince sighed, “we need it without our potential opponents knowing we have it.”
With the speed of a viper, suddenly the Prince was only inches from Meleniou’s face. Sostratos swallowed—he swore he felt something cold and sharp pricking his Adam’s apple. There was no time to jump, no time to yell even.
“Which means exactly as my brother said. If any word of any thing we say before you reaches our ears from someone else…” The Prince leaned back with a smile, his teeth bright white like the fangs of an asp. Something poked Sostratos’ throat again—only then did Meleniou realize it was the Prince’s mail covered finger. Not so gently, it traced a line across the Tourmachos’ neck. “Am I clear?”
“Yes, Highness,” Sostratos gulped.
“Good,” Manuel nodded. “To make sure, I’ll tell you now you’ll be followed. Now that we understand each other, we require your ear, and your good sense. Apparently,” the Prince glanced towards his elder brother, “you come highly recommended. We’ll bounce ideas off you, and use your ears as the ears of the fleet. In return,” he slinked into the chair opposite Sostratos, “I need the names of all the commanders you know in the Thrake and Dytikos Stoloi who could be disloyal to a lawful succession,” Manuel said. He leaned back, that mailed finger now tapping impatiently on the map-strewn table. “Give us your opinion—we will gather evidence. Don’t hold anything back—we won’t cashier or imprison innocent commanders on the eve of war, trust me on that!”
“We don’t expect names now,” the masked emperor offered, “but in some time. A few weeks for you to think, perhaps confer with the Megas Doux?”
Sostratos nodded slowly, a feeling of dirtiness settling into his bones. He knew a few men who were now in the Dytikos that made favorable comments about the Exarch’s campaign, and others who had moaned about a leper being co-Emperor, but was that disloyalty? None had broken their oaths, none had done anything to disservice the empire. Why…
“Good,” Nikephoros’ voice interrupted his thoughts. “The Persians will be moving from the East, that we know for sure. But let us think as if the Italian and Spanish fronts will flare as well.”
“The Dytikos doesn’t have many heavy ships,” Sostratos said, dragging his mind from the dark hole it’d wallowed in only moments before. Now they were talking naval strategy. Something not dirty, something honorable. “The fleet in Sicily is mostly meant for anti-piracy patrols in the Western Med. There are only about 20 heavy ships in the fleet proper. The city of Carthage has another 12, Genoa 11, and Naples another 20…”
“63 heavy warships for the entire western Mediterranean?” the youngest of the Princes looked up alarmed. “How many does the Exarch have?”
“More than that,” Manuel grunted. “What would you advise, Tourmachos?”
“Concentrate forces,” Sostratos said quickly. “Pull the ships back to join with the Anatolikon Stolo’s 25 heavy ships, and strip as many light craft away from piracy work as you dare. You can put together a hefty force of perhaps a 100, 120 ships that way. The problem will be finding where the Spanish fleet is and engaging it… that’s the risk of concentration.”
“It’s better than being picked apart in detail,” Manuel nodded. “It’s not like the Spaniards could sail an army straight for Konstantinopolis anyways.”
“They couldn’t?” Leo asked warily.
“It’d be risky,” Sostratos volunteered his expertise again. “Especially if Your Majesty concentrated the fleet. Makrinokomnenos couldn’t afford to risk a naval battle if his warships were escorting merchantmen laden with troops and supplies. Even if some of them were sunk in the battle, he could be decisively without men or succor in hostile territory. Simply keeping the Dytikos, Anatolikon and the city warships all together will probably force him to reconsider a naval campaign.”
“Leaving him the land route to attack us?” it was Nikephoros’ turn to ask uneasily.
“Or probably not attack at all. It’d be easier in his case to declare his rebellion, and hunker down. Make us build up the resources to invade, and risk our ships.” The Archeoikos smiled briefly at Sostratos. “Excellent thinking, Tourmachos. That simple move will keep him off our backs.”
“That still leaves Gottfried,” Nikephoros grunted, “as well as other… elements…in Italy. They’ll be starting brush fires even as we try to deal with the inferno from the East.”
Sostratos blinked, then nodded. He knew a little about the Prince of Istria—namely that he was rich, and his monies relied on trade. As a result, he was among a few princes who outfitted their own warships to protect commerce from pirates. His small fleet enabled the main imperial navy to focus on the Mediterranean at large, instead of the Adriatic.
“My sources say that von Franken has been in frequent contact with some of the great sellsword captains in the West—Mortimer de Lacy, Ignatios Gennadopoulos, Henri of Paris, and others,” the Archeoikos went on. “He has the money and the connections to put together a formidable army for many seasons of campaigning on short notice.” Manuel shook his head. “I don’t like it. Not one bit.”
“Do you think he means to move on us here?” Nikephoros asked glumly. Sostratos followed the gloved imperial hand as it traced along the map towards Istria, then started to gently tap the region as if it could push the threat away.
“I doubt it,” the Archeoikos said quickly, “but I doubt he’s hoarding these names and this money to simply sit idly like a choirboy.”
“What if he wants us to know he has these resources?” Leo suddenly asked. The youngest prince looked at both his brothers. “He has an able spy network? What if he let Manuel’s men see he had money, and he had these contacts?”
“You mean he’s fishing for something in return?” Manuel frowned.
“Power and coin. That’s what motivated him to go into Germany. Maybe that’s what’s motivating him now?” Leo thought aloud. “Why not make him an offer? Why not make him Sebastokrator ton Istrion, or something of the like, in return for that private army?” the prince asked, his voice becoming more and more excited. “It’d keep the Balkans clean, maybe even put a foot down on the city-states…”
“And if he demands Rigas?” Manuel asked. “That’s opening an evil box, Leo…”
“And what about…”
Sostratos blinked as the three brothers batted around a slew of what ifs, possibilities, and counterplans. What if von Franken got support from some of the shattered German principalities? What if he secured backing from the Northern Italian cities who would likely try to break for freedom like they had in 1215 and 1240? What if, what if, what if…
“Fine, Sebastokrator ton Istrion, if he can persuade the Italian city states to accept his suzerainty and protection,” Nikephoros grumbled after the barrage of ideas. “With him on our side, we can keep the rest of the Balkans in line with the Palatinoikoi easily,” the masked emperor nodded to his bastard brother.
Manuel chewed his lip. “I still don’t like it,” he grunted, “but fine. That’ll put the rest of the army against the Persians, along with the backbone of the fleet?”
All three pairs of eyes sudden turned to Sostratos, as if Meleniou was some hapless scribe that was supposed to have kept track of the proceedings. The Tourmachos blinked.
“Um… yes, that’s where we’ll be,” he said quickly once his brain caught back up. “I’m sure the Megas Doux would tell you we’ll need to keep a flotilla detached to support Prince Manuel in the Balkans on the Aegean side should he need it,” Sostratos thought aloud, “but that’ll leave the rest of the Thrake available to reinforce where Your Majesty would need it. If it was truly necessary, we could detach a few ships from the combined Dytikos-Anatolikon force, or take some ships belonging to Alexandria, and use them to reinforce places as well. If the Persians want Konstantinopolis, they need a fleet to do so. We’ll stop them.”
“I hope,” Nikephoros said quietly before looking up at the captain, “your future performance matches the calmness of your words.” Sostratos wasn’t sure, but by the slight crinkle in the emperor’s eyes, he thought he might be smiling under his mask.
“I hope so as well, Majesty,” Meleniou nodded slightly.
“I think that is all we need from you today, Tourmachos,” Prince Manuel nodded as well. “My people will contact you when you should meet with us next.” That same dark smile came back, the one that made Sostratos’ skin crawl. “Don’t look for them,” the Prince added, “they’ll find you.”
For a moment, those three pairs of eyes looked expectantly at the Tourmachos again, before Sostratos realized he needed to bow. He did so quickly, backing away from the three sons of the Megas Komnenos, wondering silently what he’d done to be yanked into the places he would soon be delving.
As he walked away, the three began talking amongst themselves once again. He heard the Archeoikos complain his brother couldn’t do something, then the muffled voice of Nikephoros say he had to, he was emperor. Prince Leo asked something, Nikephoros started to reply. Sostratos paid little attention to what else was said as he approached the bronze doors—he’d had enough knife and daggers business today. He didn’t want to add to it by listening in to affairs of state that didn’t involve the navy. The Thrake was needed to guard the Bosphorus, but the Persians would undoubtedly build a fleet elsewhere and land in Greece or the like. How could they…
Just as Meleniou’s hands reached for the handles to the great doors that closed off the room, the doors flew open of their own accord. The chamberlain stood in the doorway, eyes wide, face pale as the white silk he wore.
“The emperor!” he shrieked, “Emperor Andronikos has collapsed!”
April 23rd, 1297
Madaba, Roman Arabia
Taqi ad-Din ibn Taymiyya sighed, looking down at the ground beneath his feet. The wind stirred the sand underfoot, tickling his toes inside his sandals. For a moment he considered the irony of the man he was speaking to, and where he was speaking at. Madaba was inland, even further than the Dead Sea, yet he was speaking to a ship’s captain from Gaza, who had trekked for a week to the small oasis town to see him.
“That is a complex question, Master Qasim,” Taqi said slowly, mulling the man’s words. The question itself was almost beyond Taqi’s concern—in truth, it was inconsequential whether the Qu’ran demanded one pay back a loan given to a cousin, at least in comparison to the true issue at hand.
The man, an avowed, literate Muslim, had never read the Qu’ran.
“What would your answer be, based on the Qu’ran?” Taymiyya asked, looking up. He clasped his hands behind his back, and rocked on his heels patiently while the man looked confused.
“Saddiq, I came here, seeking your answer to the question!” Qasim sputtered.
“Master Taymiyya!” another voice interrupted from across the street. Taqi grimaced—it was rare he got the chance to teach one on one these days. For the past few years, he’d been followed by crowds wherever he went, but preaching before the masses never equaled seeing the light in a lone man’s eyes when Truth dawned in his mind like a sunrise.
“Master Taymiyya!” his friend and follower Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, known as Al Qayyim, ran across the dusty street towards them, doding camels and pedestrians while waving two pieces of paper in his hand. “Master Taymiyya, I have two letters!” he yelled again as he skidded to a halt next to them, only to have Taqi raise his hand before his interruption could continue. Al Qayyim blinked, looked at Taqi, then the questioning captain, then fell silent, even as he fidgeted impatiently.
“Captain,” Taqi turned back to his original conversation, “would you leave your ship adrift, with no man at the tiller, and instead rely on the light of stars as your only steerage?” Taymiyya asked.
“No!” the captain huffed. “That’d be foolish!”
“Why would you leave your soul unmanned at the helm?” Taqi pressed with a gentle smile. “A ship is valuable, but a soul is surely priceless. Your mind, applied to the Word of God, is surely a greater tiller than the mere words of learned men! I, as all learned men are, am merely a guide, a beacon. You must apply your whole self, your mind, your heart, your being, to understanding the Word of God so you can know what beacons to follow—and which to avoid. Qayyim?”
“When we get back home, please find my parchments of the 1st Surah. Captain,” Taymiyya nodded to the man, “Come by my residence tomorrow morning, you are welcome to have them. You may not have the Qu’ran with you always, but you should read it whenever you can. Keep this as a token, and a reminder to let your mind navigate the words of God.”
“T…thank you, saddiq!” Qasim bowed quickly, eyes wide. Taqi smiled—parchments with the Word of God were expensive, yes.
A soul, however, was priceless.
“Peace be upon you, Captain Qasim,” Taymiyya nodded his head.
“And on you, saddiq!” the Captain said enthusiastically.
As he turned and began to walk away, Taymiyya had a moment to smile. That, a man enlightened, a man brought closer to God, was what he was fighting for. Others might fight for land, or power, or money, but no… the Soul was more valuable than any of those.
“Saddiq, the letters!” Qayyim said impatiently.
Taqi frowned for a moment. The needs the present, they always pulled and dragged a man from reveries of victory to the gritty before his eyes.
“One of them is from Konstantiniyye!”
“You said you have two letters.”
“Yes, but Konstantinopolis…”
“What is the other letter?” Taymiyya asked politely but firmly. Al-Qayyim, like many men, had their eye on the City of Men’s Desire. Taymiyya hoped one day to break him of the habit, so that he would see the wider parts of God’s Creation.
“It’s from ibn-Khallikan, in Zaranj,” al-Qayyim said quietly. He looked down momentarily—ah, he remembered Taymiyya’s words… again.
“What does it say?” Taqi asked, smiling gently. The reminder was made. Al-Qayyim eyes’ flicked up, and caught his friend’s smile. His own face quietly echoed Taymiyya’s.
“He says that the Sultan has listened to the call of the ulema in the city, and that he has been appointed to teach at the madrassa attached to the Süleymaniye Mosque.” Al-Qayyim’s smile grew wider. “He’s been granted the privilege of leading Friday prayers!”
“Excellent!” Taymiyya laughed. Ibn-Khallikan had fought alongside Taymiyya in the deserts of Itaq, and he’d been the one to persuade the young idealist that instead of arguing with imams in madrassas, he should take his preaching to the streets of the Near East. Khallikan was a forceful preacher himself—Taymiyya had no doubt he’d keep the ulema in Zaranj straight and true.
“Now, what’s this word from the Thieves’ Den?” Taymiyya finally nodded to the Konstantinopolis letter.
“Oh!” Qayyim fairly jumped with excitement, before pulling out the parchment. “It’s from Gamal ibn Tayyif. It says that while the palace claims he’s fine, Gamal’s friends who work in the kitchens heard their friends who know the churigeons say that the Roman emperor lays in a fitful coma, coming out only to groan. He is unable to speak, and in their mind, shortly to leave this world!”
“So then, it is rumor once more?” Taymiyya sighed, and took the parchment, scanning the note himself. Gamal’s brother, who know new someone in the kitchens who had a cousin who was an assistant to one of the imperial churigeons. Yes, rumor and hearsay.
“Shall I send word out to the Mu’minin?” Qayyim asked hopefully.
“No, no,” Taymiyya shook his head firmly. Al Qayyim’s came unhinged, but before he could launch into an undoubted string of protests, Taymiyya cut his friend off. “No, Qayyim. Not yet.”
“Not…” Qayyim stared, looking around, before throwing his hands up in the air. “Saddiq, we have the ears of men from a hundred ulema! There are men from Damascus to Baghdad and beyond who would hear your words! Who would take up the sword, with God’s protection and…”
“The coming battle,” Taymiyya raised his voice. Qayyim stared, but closed his mouth. “The coming battle,” Taqi started again, “is something more than simply drawing a sword. It will be a battle for men’s hearts, as well as for men’s lands. If we do not win the first battle, we will surely lose the second.”
“Patience, Qayyim,” Taqi looked up at his younger friend and smiled. Youthful vigor and rashness had its place. So did planning and quiet contemplation. “I intend to move when Allah intends for me to move—no sooner, no later. For now, we fight the battle of the heart,” he gestured to Qasim’s tall form moving through the crowd. “Once we have won enough of those battles, then, and only then, do we fight with our blades…”
Alexandros thinks he can take Konstantinopolis, and has secured ‘help’ within the Empire to do so, while Taymiyya and his growing network are biding their time. Three brothers are planning for the inevitable, but is it already too late? How have Gottfried, Demetrios, Alexios, the Exarch, and a whole host of other players reacted to Andronikos’ illness? Will Andronikos die? Who are the people planning to aid Alexandros?
EDIT - Sostratos Meleniou is a character in our favorite RGB's From Rus to Russia, A Russian Megacampaign Pt. 2. If you have not had the opportunity to read this magnum opus, you should head over and check it out right now while you wait for the next update! It has pirates, Vinland, Turks, and more beautiful narrative and carefully researched background than you could ever ask for. RGB has poured hours of work and care into this AAR, as well as it's CK portion (found here), and it shows in the excellence of the final result!
Oh, and for the Byzantophiles, it is Byzantine based, hehehe. Please enjoy!
Last edited by General_BT; 04-03-2011 at 00:32.
The Good One - Rome AARisen, a Byzantine AAR (Third map epilogue, 5-02-2012!)
Table of Contents
The Funny One (In Theory): Vikan Vojislavljevic is a Fool (Dead)
The HOI2 One (Dead): Two Alexanders: Greece in the Age of Conflict (HOI2-Doomsday)
The Teenage Girl One: Dear Diary, by Helene Palialogos (NEW UPDATE 06-10-10!)
1. BURGUNDAN THEORIST ALDFRED MAHAN! I guess he'd have to be Burgundian to have to creatively justify naval spending like that.
2. His name is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, son of Gabriel, descended from the line of the Komnenids of Old. You owe him your alliegiance!
3. This Sostratos fellow sounds familiar...
4. Good thing they made a plan before Andronkios decided to collapse
5. Gottfried Gottfried, Holy Roman...King...Rigas...Sebastokrator...uber alles in die Welt!
6. Plate in 1250, you gotta be kidding me.
7. This Tamiyya guy. I think he's PLANNING SOMETHING!
Edit: Okay, so Alexandros thinks he has allies. I hope it's not ibn Tamiyya of course - he's probably very actively surrounding the Persian Empire, just look at the success in spreading his influence with the allied Turks. Incidentally - Turks, the new Mughals? I can't wait for the Akbar equivalent.
EDIT2: Fleet in Being requires excellent naval facilities. Where would the 120 ships be put ashore?
Last edited by RGB; 04-03-2011 at 01:29.
The Russia Megacampaign - See my other work at my Inkwell
A YeAAR's Education - Rurikovich in Crusader Kings 1066-1393
From Rus to Russia - Kiev in EU3 1393-1836 - Get the Loading Screen Pack - Weekly Showcased AAR, 6/6/09 and 7/7/10 - WritAAr of the Week, 27/7/10 - Ambitions are denied and tasks appointed - Check out the first installment of the Medieval Atlas!
Duke of Bonbon, and also Chevalier Grand Croix of the Ordre Militaire du Saint Christophe.
Poor Sostratos, fish out of sea indeed!
My guess is the only one who will reign after Andronikos is Chaos...
And on the pedestal these words appear:
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn