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Thread: Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR

  1. #6781
    Oh, the Greek titles are still killing me but I won't comment further on that...I think I'm dangerously close to being tagged as a linguistic nazi or something...

    (Though "Autokrator ton Ispanika" would be "Autokrator Pason ton Ispanion" if you're going for Emperor of All Spains[sort of like Czar of All the Russias]...or "Autokrator Pasis Ispanias" if you're going for a Greek analog to the Imperator totius Hispaniae title...sorry couldn't help myself...)

    Other than that, I'd have to say to that I'd be very interested to read a Froissart's Chronicles style of update on the Byzantines, coming from you. We all know how he saw and interpreted the English and the Germans as a Frenchman it would be very cool to see how he'd handle the Byzantines.

    Finally, though I suspect I should have PMed you that rather than post it out here in the open where it's visible to prying eyes...DUDE, with minor plot alterations, heavy editing and the right marketing/promotion you could turn this into at least 2-3, 12-episode, seasons worth of TV sitcom and sell it as the "Game of Thrones"-killer to the highest bidder among HBO's competitors. Hell, even HBO themselves might be interested, they can't stick with GoT forever! Though, GoT is a damn good show, hands down...

    So if you ever feel like you'd like to write your next AAR from some beautiful, white sands, South Pacific beach, sipping maragritas and all, please drop me a line. I'd love to help!

    For a 30% cut, of course...
    If you're looking for a dedicated artist for your mods, upcoming games or you just like digital art...then, well...go right on looking!

  2. #6782
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    HBO has enough material (i.e. the books) to run GoT for six more years

  3. #6783
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    Leviathan07 – More than six, if they really want to put enough detail into the series to fully explore the books! You are soooo lucky! I don’t have HBO, and I’m not willing to shell out big bucks to get HBO simply to watch one series, so I’m waiting until March when the DVDs are released, and then I’ll be able to watch GoT in all its glory!
    AlbinoPolarBear – First of all, I actually don’t mind the corrections about the Greek titles at all—as I said, almost all the ‘Greek’ in this story is either made up, from a historical source I could actually track down, or what I could clump together using an online translator (hence Megaskyriomachos, etc.). It’s gotten me by so far, especially when it comes to the Byzantine pastime of title inflation, but I readily admit, its likely horribly inaccurate! I won’t learn how to concoct better Greek titles unless it’s pointed out! (like how someone pointed out to me it should be Megas, not Megos…)
    And others have pointed out the narrative potential of this storyline, though technically since its been posted to the internet, it is legally published and the copyright, etc. is held by Paradox. I’d definitely be interested in chatting though—I have several other stories stuck in my head (I want more free time to work on them, it’s one reason I am trying to wrap up this AAR), and any insights you might have would be useful! My MSN is wtinder2@live.com, and I’m also on Yahoo at wwtinder@yahoo.com.
    Vesimir – I wouldn’t be a good Skryim player without a muted nod to the latest meme sweeping the internet. :P
    Well, by some very ‘strange’ inheritances, Sidirios is now Shah-Khan of Faraud, as well as Khan of the Blue Horde. Officially he’s a vassal of Persia still…for now…
    Siind – Really? The battle scene was rather cut short… the first idea in my head was the entire update as one long battle, something like the Battle of Messina, but then time constraints and the needs of other plot lines steadily cut it down. I’m glad it worked still in its shorted form! And ah… yet another area I have little experience in… I know military history, not religious history. XD I was only aware there was a controversy involving the filioque, thank you for the clarification!
    vadermath – Well, that was the last chance at a unified empire through military force. Since the destruction of the Thrake Stolos by storm in 1302, the East hasn’t had a real naval force outside of Egypt. Andronikos built a huge fleet for this operation, but its led and crewed by inexperienced sailors and captains. Leo had the formidable fleet, and with its defeat at Agrigento, there are now only two strong, professional fleets in the Med—Egypt, and Spain. If Andronikos wants to try again, he needs Egypt more than ever…
    …and fate is a strange thing. Two people named Alexios “save Spain” from Eastern domination. Something about that name just resonates in history, right?
    And personally, I would agree with you. The top political position and top religious position is a little too much to be handing to one person!
    BraidsMAmma – Leo really deserved more… he deserved to be Emperor outright, and probably would’ve done a bang up job if his dad had lived a few more years and safely passed the crown to him. As for Guillaume, I highly doubt he’ll find his end on a battlefield, but he faces two competing loyalties, both pulling on him—his desire to be loyal to the Church, and his desire to be loyal to his lifelong friend. As the second most powerful politician and the most powerful clerical leader, these loyalties were undoubtedly come to head…
    …and the shift from narrative had to happen eventually. I seriously want to be finished with the AAR by the time CK2 comes out, if only because I will be playing II so much I likely won’t finish the AAR after that point! Ibn Khaldun and Frossiart will hopefully end this story in the way it deserves, however. Perhaps, down the line, there’ll be a Rome AsundAAR in EU3, or perhaps I’ll wait to EU4. It will happen, but I do want a break.
    Hmmm… perhaps I’ll come up with something for Christmas. We’ll have to see!
    wolfcity – Timur will get his just due at story’s end. You can rest assured of that!
    Zzzzz… – Which Rome? The See of St. Peter? It’s not as bad off as it was… I suspect that soon they’ll move to Hamburg, if they haven’t already, to regain a semblance of political independence. Theologically they influence a smaller area, but at the same time, a more theologically unified area as well. The Catholic Church is smaller, lighter, and I suspect, far better equipped to deal with internal stresses and reform in this history than it was in real life.
    And Thomas III’s end… probably the saddest update I’ve written, in my opinion. Up there with Thomas II’s death and Basil’s…
    Lord Strange – Well, one dodgy French cannon and a whole bunch of poorly placed powder lol. Guillaume has allies, he has friends. The problem is, his attempts to unilaterally change the Church for the better are seen by many as rather dictatorial… even those who would otherwise approve what he’s doing. He’s building a lot of enemies doing what he thinks is right…
    …and while d’Ockham lasted longer than the two months you gave him, the talons have already come out, and many are definitely after his blood…
    Hannibal X – I’m imagining this long running Council of Konstantinopolis is much like the Orthodox equivalent of the Council of Trent for the Catholic Church in our timeline—a huge affair where longstanding issues shoved to the sidelines are all being dragged out into the public to be dealt with once and for all. The Orthodox Church in this timeline has been held subservient to an all powerful throne for most of the story, and thus hasn’t had to confront many of the important issues that would come with reconquering such a vast area… how to deal with Muslims, Latins, and others and simple administration, let alone complex theological issues or the doubtless riot of opinions that would arise from such a cosmopolitan populace under its sway…
    …As for Timur, keep in mind he’s got a fairly legitimate claim on Persia (his mother is related to the Persian imperial family), one that’s more apparent than his far more distant claims to places like China or Konstantinopolis. Persia also personally insulted him, and killed his father. It’s a fair guess (spoilers aside) they are going to be in his sights. As for West Europe/Sortmark/non-Roman world, I am going to do some kind of wrap up world update as part of ibn Khaldun/Froissart…
    …as for the Jews, I really don’t know. I know in CK terms, they disappeared from the map with the fall of the Khazars, as normal. I’d imagine they would be rather involved in the urban, cosmopolitan empire, especially in the lending trade as in OTL… while the Church hadn’t completely outlawed usury as in OTL, they had already begun restricting it, making it a profitable trade for non-Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims…I would also imagine they still have a significant population in Spain as well…
    FrozenWall – I hope you approved of the cameo of our dear d’Ockham’s thoughts on how to deal with complicated problems!
    Panjer – Still haven’t started Pillars of the Earth, though I’ve been meaning to.
    von Sachsen – Potentially happier. There are many of the same stresses, but different setting, different people… and the real William of Ockham was often accused of being too pragmatic, so…
    Morrell8 – All-powerful cleric/politician with a moral compass versus a immoral nobility, squabbling clergy, and an emperor going mad? Smells like epicness!
    JackTheRipper21 – Albrecht would’ve probably converted to Orthodox, but I have little doubt the family has probably converted back by now…
    …As for the Mousomanoloi, yes, there’s a definite resemblance between them and not just the Janissaries, but most ‘heathen mercenaries’ (Ghulams in the Caliphate, and Frederick II’s Saracens in Italy). Having members of another religion as the core troops in your army allows you to circumvent all sorts of inconvenient religious rules and laws on warfare… or use those soldiers to corral religious groups of your own faith you don’t like…
    FlyingDutchie – Rome isn’t quite as much of a backwater in this timeline as it was in real life. It’s a decent sized city in this history, but still not within shouting distance of Salerno or Napoli, let alone the great cities like Karthagion or Konstantinopolis. It has a great deal of symbolic power, but much of that was lost when the Papacy fled from Thomas I. It’s got location, and name now… little else…
    St. Peter is in a strange position. It’s acknowledged as an Apostolic Patriarchate, as it was before the schism, but with the flight of the Papacy, the See of St. Peter has officially split from the rest of Orthodox Christianity. From the Orthodox point of view, the See exists, but has slid into heresy and thus was not invited to the Council.
    AlexaderPrimus – I hadn’t thought of it that way… Albrecht though was arguably part chancellor, part steward. Andronikos I had a part marshal, part spymaster… I think Angelos would count for both of those roles…
    RGB – Something tells me Thomas III’s ghost will likely wander the city for all time, tormenting poor architects and demanding flying buttresses and colonnades be added to every project ever conceived in his city…
    asd21593 – Well, competing loyalties and awesome power, when put together, usually yield fireworks…
    sarevok2 – Do something stupidly honorable? Perhaps… he’s honorable enough for it. More likely, his varying hats box him into some unenviable positions and he’s forced to start making choices he’d rather avoid…
    Qorten – Oh, you’ll be seeing plenty of Timur, especially from ibn Khaldun’s perspective…
    cezar87 – Well, hearing voices has become a definite Komnenid family trait by this point… it has been since Basil bedded his cousin… and why doesn’t the Mad Builder deserve to be listened to? Does that mean Andronikos is listening to someone who is listening to voices of his own? That’s voices squared, or some crazy kind of Inception… XD
    Well, a bigger question is… did the Archeoikos kill his uncle, or was it someone else? Thomas Skalites wouldn’t have had anything to gain from his uncle’s death… he had a great deal to lose, in fact, considering the two worked well together. Who then, would do such a thing?
    Guillaume definitely has far more power than Albrecht could have dreamed of, and he definitely WANTS to use it for good. But that’s so many fingers in so many pies… one is bound to get burned. A great deal of people resent him, and more than a few want d’Ockham dead for their own ends… and thank you!
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  4. #6784
    Seriously...
    You wrote that most frakking awsome Byzantine AH story ever without knowing a thing about the filioque.
    I'm impressed and confused! :P

    And on the AsundAAR side, we really don't want you to do it just because you feel like you have to.
    When you first mentioned a sequel none of us had any idea what this thing was going to grow into.
    So if you never feel that urge to do it, then don't, let the story end on top (hear that "the guys who made the Matrix").
    But if you feel like doing a sequel I'm sure that a bunch of us here would gladly support it in loads of ways, and if you do, talking to Paradox about details/rights/"an EU4-beta key" before you start it is probably a smart move! =)

  5. #6785
    I'm looking forward to history-book updates, that style is usually my favorite (I made an exception for Rome AARisen ).

    I'm not sure how smart waiting for EU4 would be, it would take a lot of time for it to achieve the polishment of EU3 with it's 4 expansions.
    Last edited by Carlstadt Boy; 17-12-2011 at 19:59.

  6. #6786
    Nerd Vesimir's Avatar
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    But.. No more narrative? :<

    At least throw in two or three updates concerning Timur during important moments of his life. Pretty please? With sugar? And a cherry on top?
    Last edited by Vesimir; 17-12-2011 at 18:28.
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  7. #6787
    Romanorum Imperator Augustus asd21593's Avatar
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    Sad to hear that the narrative is coming to a close, yet still very excited for the history-book section.
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  8. #6788
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    Ah, excellent update. A dodgy cannon and an arrow in the knee, whatever it takes to get the story going
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  9. #6789
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vesimir View Post
    But.. No more narrative? :<

    At least throw in two or three updates concerning Timur during important moments of his life. Pretty please? With sugar? And a cherry on top?
    He said this chapter is the last one. I don't think he's said anything about how many updates are left.
    Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. -Isa 41:10

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  10. #6790
    This chapter is allready running long but we should expect about 2-3 more status updates before the fall...

  11. #6791
    We've still got about 60 years left, and a spoiler chapter definitely foreshadows a
    Petros Komnenos
    rising to the throne before everything is said and done.

  12. #6792
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    Good to see you're still going strong, dear. :3 Good story so far as usual, still catching up.
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  13. #6793
    Christmas is over, now we want to return to the Empire

  14. #6794
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    I hope you approved of the cameo of our dear d’Ockham’s thoughts on how to deal with complicated problems!
    I still vote for a more literal razor :]
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  15. #6795

  16. #6796
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    AlexanderPrimus - Perhaps, though considering what happens next update, there are a multitude of titles available!

    FrozenWall - Hmm... well we'll have to see what you think after the latest update!

    BraidsMAmma - Your wish is my command! And yes, I knew next to nothing about that little contreversy... and I readily admit while I've learned a great deal of Byzantine history writing this, there are many many MANY things I still don't know or have gotten wrong (my Greek, for example ). I'm glad the story has stood up to everyone's litmus test despite these shortcomings!

    Saithis - And good to see you're still going strong as well, my dear! Looking forward to seeing the adventures of Harald as he matures!

    Panjer - Mmmmhmmm. There's several other tidbits throughout the long story that foreshadow events that are coming as we end the story...

    Nikolai - One update after the one I've posted below... and then we get to the more history book (or history book/narrative mix, haven't decided) sections...

    RGB - I couldn't resist making a nod to the latest internet meme.

    asd21593 - I hope it doesn't disappoint!

    Vesimir - Oh, don't worry. There will be plenty of Timur still to come!

    Carlstadt Boy - That comment was rather tongue-in-cheek. If I do mod it, it will probably be for EU3... once I get CK2 out of my system...

    And without further ado...



    “Ask ye, whether the Kingdom of the World, or the Kingdom of God, is worth more in thine heart. All riches of the world cannot purchase a moment in Paradise...” - Patriarch Simon Lenapes



    December 11th, 1339

    Kosmodion Palace, Konstantinopolis


    Guillaume d’Ockham, Megaskyriomachos and Patriarch of Konstantinopolis, was a in foul mood.

    There was a time when the chance to visit his lifelong friend would have made Guillaume elated. In the old days, the two would bond over wine and women. Even only a few years before, despite their differences, there would be games of chess, debates on philosophy or chatting over memories of days gone by.

    Not now. Not today.

    Andronikos I Apokathistos had ruled over a vast realm, with lords from the Pillars of Hercules to Samarkand kneeling before him and calling him “archon.” Kings and queens, princes and dukes, all had knelt before the Throne of Caesar in obedience and dread. Andronikos II had made it his lifelong mission to rebuild what had been lost, and until Agrigento, he’d seemed well on his way to achieving that goal.

    Then blasted Alexios beat the imperial navy, and we’re stuck in this mess! Guillaume hissed in his mind as his footfalls stalked through the underbelly of the Kosmodion palace. A powerful emperor, an Apokathistos reborn, would not have made his chambers in the dark and dank underneath the greatest palace in Christendom. A man who was fearful and afraid would do such a thing…

    Guillaume’s friend insisted it was because he needed the space to focus on his efforts at rebuilding his army and fleets. The North African forces under the Emperor’s own brother, Megas Domestikos Heraklios Komnenos, had seemed destined to reconquer the whole of Mauretania for the Empire. Only six months before, word arrived that Heraklios Komnenos had been murdered by his stranded men, who then promptly declared for Zenobios Komnenos, eldest son of the late Leo and open ally of Alexios.

    With threats abounding and half of his army and most of his fleet destroyed, Andronikos had set about rebuilding these forces from scratch. There were plenty of men available yet, mostly from the great mercenary companies of Europe and the Near East, but there was a shortage of coin. Guillaume’s attempts at tax reform had provided a modest increase in revenue, but nothing near what Andronikos needed to raise 100,000 men for an extended campaign in the West, let alone hundreds of ships to carry them and their fodder, and hundreds more to escort the transports.

    With the dynatoi near revolt and the peasants taxed nigh to poverty, the Emperor had turned to the last source of cash left at his disposal—Mother Church. On his return, he'd journeyed to the meeting chambers of the Council of Konstantinopolis, demanding the prelates “contribute their fair share” to the reunification of the Empire.



    Contribute our fair share? The thought made Guillaume’s blood boil as he stalked through the palace. Hasn’t the Church paid its fair share of taxes after the reforms? Haven’t good and honest men filled the ranks of the clergy since I became Ecumenical Patriarch? Hundreds of bishops and priests had been replaced—good men, holy men, men who would do as God commanded and what the law demanded. Men who stood against graft and corruption, men who’d loyally given what was legally required to the crown, yet now, their sacrifices were being thrown back in their face!

    So when the Emperor’s herald announced His Imperial Majesty’s request, the clergy of the Council refused. And Guillaume d’Ockham, Ecumenical Patriarch, refused to utter a word against them. Andronikos would be upset, yes. But he had no right to demand what he did! None! But Guillaume had known Andronikos for decades—he should’ve known that his old friend would not stop there, oh no.

    What Andronikos couldn't get by request, he took by force.

    On June 6th, 1339, no less than two thousand riders left Konstantinopolis—men of the Mousolmanoi, armed with swords and writs from the emperor authorizing them to seize the property of “wayward monasteries” and “corrupt abbeys.” But far from clearing out the illicit gains of wayward churchmen, they raided everyone—monasteries d’Ockham knew to be corrupt, and those he could personally vouch for. For over a month, these men raided through Thrace and Greece, waving their papers as armor while they looted even Mount Athos, dragging those golden treasures back to the Queen of Cities where they were melted down into coin.



    The Council was thrown into an uproar, as beaten monks and abused bishops flooded into the city through July and August. Guillaume stormed into the Kosmodion, an army of enraged clerics at his back, demanding recompense and justice for the dead.

    He was so polite, Guillaume remembered as he walked, alone, deeper into the bowels of the palace. The marble walls, so bright during the daytime, seemed close, oppressive this late at night. The mosaic floors that in the warmth of the sun glittered like a rainbow now only shone with a demonic orange tint that flickered with the candlelight.

    So polite. Guillaume had believed him—Andronikos was his friend. Friendship blinds as well as binds… It’d been for naught. Andronikos had solemnly promised to punish wayward servants who’d gone awry, to arrest those who had done the deed, even as the riders continued their rampage. Several bishops, including Serdica, Nis and Dyrrachion, had seen how empty those words were. They’d called on the Emperor to administer a solemn oath, and to return the stolen property immediately. Guillaume remembered the slight laugh Andronikos gave at their words, that smile, so small, yet so deadly. He swore he had nothing to do with the thefts, and any property he found to belong to the Church would return.

    Those bishops that spoke disappeared that night.

    No one could prove the Emperor's involvement of course, but all the hallmarks of the wrath of Andronikos were present. Far from cow the clergy, the blatant act of aggression made them retrench—as punishment, the Council two weeks later stripped Andronikos of his title as 'Vice Gerent of Christ.' As the Council unanimously refused the Emperor's repeat demands for money the same day as they stripped him of his position as protector of the Church, Guillaume kept his mouth closed. He could not defend his friend, not for those actions. He was desperate, and desperate men do foolish things, but God's mercy...



    Foolishness breeds more foolishness, so the saying went, and even in the greatest arena of politics and religion, this was true. Guillaume had hoped silence could keep the peace, that the knowledge a friend of the Emperor sat in the Ecumenical Patriarch's chair could keep the more hotheaded clergymen in line. He’d hoped his silence would convince his lifelong friend to tread more carefully around Mother Church. But no, silence would not fix the now yawning rift. There was no way to paper over the gulf between the Church and the Emperor morally bound to protect it.

    It was the exiled Patriarch of Alexandria who had first proposed the unthinkable, two nights before over a dinner of lentil soup. The dinner was supposed to be an informal place where the eight Patriarchs could discuss, in private, the Church’s response to these latest acts of the Emperor. Guillaume remembered snapping that his words were a poor jest. Alexandria stuck by his words, however. Then Jerusalem joined him—the measure was harsh, brutal even, and misery and destruction would come from such a step, “but sometimes, God wishes us to be purified in the crucible of fire, as well as lounge in the bed of peace,” the old man had said. In a moment, Guillaume went from listening to one irate exile, to trying to corral a serious, devastating proposal in the highest echelons of the Church.

    That Andronikos, the man, was the single greatest threat to Christendom. Remove Andronikos the man from his position as Emperor...

    Guillaume closed his eyes tight. I would mean betraying a friend...

    But what of God? Mother Church? Standing by Andronikos' side as he continues this...butchery...


    Guillaume finally reached the long, dark hallway that led to his friend’s private chambers, lined on either side by soldiers of the Mousolmanoi in full kit. Their eyes were implacable, their faces all but hidden by chain and mail. As Patriarch, Guillaume would command respect, even reverence, from any Christian. To these men, however, he was just another man, just another potential threat. Since his return from Agrigento, the Emperor had insisted that his Mousolmanoi had disrupted no less than 45 assassination plots, ranging from mad street preachers to the Prince of Ikonion, his own brother-in-law. Ikonion had fled to his own estates, but few others were that lucky. The imperial dungeons were near bursting, and the headsman had a busy docket lined up through the next year…

    Slowly, the Patriarch walked forward, through a cavern drawn spears and swordhilts glistening in the torchlight. He is sick, Guillaume reminded himself. The old Andronikos, the friend he knew, would have thrown himself into the task of raising a new army, of administering the realm he had, of punishing those like Ikonion that now openly disputed his rule. No, he locks himself in the basement of the Kosmodion, complaining all in sundry are out to take his life…

    “Halt, sir.”

    Guillaume looked up, as a burly Mousolmanoi wearing the plumes of a kentarchos stepped forward.

    “I am Guillaume d’Ockham, Megaskyriomachos and Ecumenical Patriarch. The Emperor is expecting me.” Guillaume would not have to introduce himself before many other men. Any other men. But these mercenaries, they were a symptom… or a piece of evidence.

    The night before, they had been the latter—a sign to the heading religious minds in Christendom that their Emperor did not trust them, did not believe in them or the Church. Why does he keep heathen soldiers around him all the time? Why does he…

    Guillaume had tried to explain, tried to defend, tried to reason, but the more he spoke, the more he realized he was trying to convince himself, as much as he was trying to convince the other leaders of the Apostolic Church. He is my friend, he is not a threaten to Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, the Patriarch told himself as the Muslim kentarchos stalked around him, then patted down his robes.

    “No weapons, my friend,” Guillaume chuckled half-heartedly. Really?

    “I am his friend. I will speak to him. Let me speak to him, for the sake of Mother Church, and the people of the Empire. Let us not throw the world into chaos hastily—let us show the godly virtues of patience and forgiveness, my brothers.” As the captain gruffly nodded and two Mousolmanoi opened the doors to the Emperor’s private retreat in his own home, Guillaume thought back to his words. Neither Alexandria nor Jerusalem had been mollified—both promised that unless Guillaume could secure immediate promises, they and their bishops would press for Alexandria’s unthinkable idea.



    And what a list of concessions they demanded! A full, public apology from the Emperor, a declaration that Egypt was in a state of apostasy, with arrangements made for the imperial armies to sail to Egypt to restore the ‘true and rightful Church.’ They wanted a public concession that the Church was supreme in all spiritual matters, and that “spiritual concerns were more paramount that temporal ones.” Finally, they wanted the names of those who had ordered and carried out the raids on the monasteries, their just punishment, as well as the dissolving of the Mousolmanoi as a whole.

    Part of Guillaume had already conceded this might be a fool’s errand—Andronikos was proud, Andronikos was hurting. He was weak—much of his military was lost, and he needed those Muslim soldiers, most of whom had stayed in Konstantinopolis, more than ever. He is my friend, I still must try. In the name of peace, in the name of the Empire, maybe he'll agree... That was Guillaume's hope. Maybe, if I tell him how serious things have become, how much he's enraged the clergy, he'll come to his senses. If I get him to drop this inane talk about Egypt, perhaps they'll relent on everything else...

    And if he wouldn’t relent? If the Council, the Apostolic Church, refused to back down from its demands? What then? My friend, versus my faith…

    The huge form of Andronikos II loomed like some immense bear of Varangian legend over a map of the Mediterranean. A riot of colorful chits and carved men stood scattered over the paper, their hue distorted by the flickering light of only a few candles. Guillaume wondered how Andronikos could read anything in this gloom.

    “Patriarch.”

    Guillaume swallowed hard—there was no bear hug today, no slap on the back, no rumbling bellow of “Guillaume!” to greet his arrival. D’Ockham braced himself. He knows what they proposed, probably…

    “Andronikos,” Guillaume said in reply, trying to keep his voice warm.

    For several seconds, no words passed between the two men. Guillaume tried to think of words, of things to say, but nothing useful came to mind. The only words that appeared were harsh words, sharp words. D’Ockham knew Andronikos inside and out, as only a lifelong friend could. Those words… they’d only anger him, enrage him.

    So the silence went on and on.

    “I’m finally doing it, I'm raising another army,” Andronikos finally said as he stalked the map, a wolfish snarl crossing his lips. “No, no no,” he pointed towards Italy. “Doesn't Zenobios know who we are? Running into the arms of Alexios to take the mantle! Pah!” Andronikos flicked over the blue lapis lazuli figurines that represented Zenobios' armies. “By the balls of the Devil, what is he thinking, the goddamned fool?”

    “He senses an opening, I'll wager,” the Patriarch sighed, running a hand through his rapidly graying hair. Oh sleep, how I miss thee. “Alexios' fleet defeated you at sea, but nearly bankrupted his treasury. He's had to grant concessions to the great magnates. He isn't the most popular man in Spain. Add to that his second son was as of last report seriously ill...”

    “...ah,” was all Andronikos said.

    Ah? Alexios' eldest son is an idiot who prefers growing cabbages on a monastery, his heir is possibly dying, and your nephew in Karthagion schemes to supplant your elderly brother, and all you say is ah? There are multitude of openings here! Openings that don't require another army, another fleet, and another year of endless war! d'Ockham raged in his mind, trying all the while to keep his face calm. “Andronikos, Alexios’ position in weaker than you think. You could put out some peace feelers, he might be inclined to negotiate, despite Agrigento…”



    “Me? Negotiate with Alexios? No. Piss on him,” Andronikos spat. “We will bring him to heel. Him, and Ikonion, and that fat bastard from Madaba! Oh and the Persian bitch too! She’s going to turn west, I know it! Westward bound, the Persians always come!”

    “She won't turn west, Andronikos.” She hasn't even rebuilt the border forts, and she's sent ambassadors to us with gifts! D'Ockham sighed. She has no fodder ready, no supplies stockpiled on our border… she’s worried about Transoxania, not us! She doesn't want war, as much as we have tried to provoke her to it as of late!

    “She will!” Andronikos jabbed his finger into Antioch to emphasize his point. “She will. They always do, like rain in the spring! We’ll be ready this time, though. A new army, trained and ready, thanks to the coin from Mother Church!”

    “Andronikos…”

    “…because why else would my old friend come to visit me, in the dead of night, other than to surprise me with the news that the Church is about to pay its fair share?” Andronikos smiled as he sat heavily on the simple wooden stool opposite the standing Guillaume.



    “…I have…”

    “It’s about damn time too, you bunch of goddamned misers.” The smile was still there, a paper-thin façade underneath cold, deadly eyes. “I’ve done things your way, Guillaume. I’ve let Mother Church keep me from bringing Egypt into the fold. I’ve let the church go too long without paying its fair share. Well, Guillaume,” the smile disappeared underneath the froth of the rising storm, “the time when the Emperor stays his hand is over! I need Egypt! I need her men, her ships, and I’ll let that goddamned provincial slut in Alexandria send his bishops to the Council whether you priests like it or not!


    “Andronikos! If you do that, you…”

    “Piss them all off? Oh dear, the clergy are angry at me!” the Emperor shouted over his friend in singsong mockery. “I need Egypt! I need her money, her ships, and her men! I’ll tell you what I’m thinking!” the Emperor rose to his full height, looming over the entire room like the shadow of death itself, “I think the clergy want me to fail! I think,” he stalked around the table, closer and closer to Guillaume, “that they all are against me! Against a reunited Empire, against a strong monarchy!”

    “Not everyone is against you!” Guillaume found himself taking a step back. “I’m not against you, Andronikos! I’m your friend! I want you to rebuild your father’s empire! I want…”

    “You are a true friend.” The white hot anger in the Emperor’s voice faded to something akin to a glowing ember. “You are. But the Patriarchs are not. The clergy are not!” The anger roared back, blazing hot from the bellows of his own words. “They are all traitors, scoundrels, men that should be treated just like Skalites was treated!”

    Guillaume’s heart stopped. How Skalites was treated? “What do you mean, how Skalites was treated?”

    I had Skalites killed, damn you!” Andronikos snarled. “I did! He, and all of you rats like him killed abd-Hinnawi! Well, I won't have any more betrayals, any more treason in my goddamned court! You will do as I command! I am the Emperor! And if you, or this Council, dare to betray me, betray my empire, then so help me I will cut your throats and drink your blood!”

    “You…tell me it’s not true, Andronikos! Tell me you didn’t…” In an instant, everything changed. Andronikos wasn’t merely a friend, or even just the emperor—he was a murderer.

    A murderer with a dangerous glint in his eyes, a man large enough he could easily strangle d’Ockham with one hand if he wanted. Guillaume felt a shiver rush down his spine. He killed Skalites… will he kill me?

    I did!” the Emperor was suddenly only inches from d’Ockham’s face. “And if any other traitors, be they peasant or priest, dare to raise their voice against me, on God’s tits I’ll make them wish they were thrown down the stairs!

    Guillaume didn’t feel his mouth fall open, didn’t hear his friend’s threats and oaths. Once, Guillaume d’Ockham, the most powerful man in the imperial bureaucracy, implicitly trusted his easily angered, eccentric friend. Once, Guillaume d’Ockham, the most powerful clergyman in the Empire, stood alongside an emperor who desperately wanted to rebuild what was lost. Now, he felt the cold, deadly touch of fear brushing his spine, teasing the nape of his neck, making his hairs stand on end.

    If God and man both call to you, to whom will you turn? That question had lost Guillaume more sleep than he could remember. Who would he follow, who would he betray? Would he betray a friend and lose honor, or betray the Church and lose his faith. With those words—that, harsh, angry admission—Andronikos cleared the skies of that murky choice, making Guillaume’s path clear as day.

    “Go!” the Emperor snarled on, “Go to the Council tomorrow! You will tell them that they will admit the guests from Alexandria! They will allow them to be seated, and they will listen to what they have to say!” Andronikos thundered.

    “They will do no such thing,” Guillaume said under his breath.

    “They will… what?” Andronikos’ thunderous rant careened to a precarious halt. He leaned in, looming only inches from the smaller d’Ockham’s face.



    “Are you even a believer?” d'Ockham heard someone shout, the voice sharp, tearing like the crack of a whip through the air. Only when Andronikos’ eyes widened and his face turned furious, did Guillaume realize the voice was his own. “Do you even believe the superiority of the Gospels? Or has power clouded your vision? Have abd-Hinnawi’s words sunk too deep?”

    “I…” Andronikos’ face turned slightly sideways.

    “Or was it the blood your drank at is urging, that let the Devil take your soul?!” Guillaume shouted. “No, the Council will not bend to your will, or the will of any man! It only bends to the Will of God, unlike this monarchy which bends to the will of whatever is convenient!” The words barely had time to echo in the air, before Guillaume lunged onward, hundreds of years of neglect channeling through his words. “You Komnenoi have made peace with heathens, consorted with infidels, and rubbed Mother Church and the Gospels into the ground! No more!”

    “Fine.” The word was hushed, whispered from Andronikos’ mouth, but it carried all the weight of fury of the greatest shout of a dragon. “Fine,” the Emperor hissed again. “I thought you a friend. An ally. Fine,” he repeated, inching closer and closer till Guillaume felt his hot breath washing over his face, “join the traitors. But know this!” spittle hit d’Ockham’s face, “that if you do so, you will suffer as they do, both on the racks in my dungeons, and in the fires of hell!”

    Guillaume knew what he would say, what he must say. They were words that would not mollify his friend, the giant of the man who could tear him limb from limb without effort. Since he’d found God, Guillaume had wondered what it felt like to be in this moment, to feel the cold touch of martyrdom touching his shoulder. Did the martyrs feel fear? Did they quiver and quake in those moments before they committed their souls to God? Did they feel release, hope, even joy? D’Ockham had only a moment to take stock of his own soul, before the words he knew he had to say came from his mouth.

    “So be it.”

    Three little words. No grand speech, no sermon from the mouth of a man about to die. Just three little words—words that summed up all he felt, and all that needed to be said. When they left his mouth, Guillaume closed his eyes—if a blade came out, he didn’t want to see it strike him. God, I am ready. I hear your call. I am eager to come home, Father…

    “Get out.”

    Guillaume opened his eyes, expecting a knife at his throat, or Andronikos’ huge paws closing around his windpipe. His friend still loomed close, far too close, but the Emperor’s own eyes were closed. In the shimmering gloom, the Patriarch thought he saw something glisten on the Emperor’s cheek.

    “Get out!” Andronikos repeated, his voice an urgent hiss, his finger pointing to the door. “Get out, God damn you, before something happens we’ll both regret!”

    For a moment, Guillaume didn’t say anything, couldn’t say anything. What words would be said, could be said, to cover the breach, to stop the coming war between Church and Emperor? None, none at all.

    “Something already has,” was all Guillaume could muster as he slid by Andronikos’ hulking frame. “I hope God shows your mercy, my friend,” d’Ockham said as he reached the door. He turned, looking back. Andronikos stood still, unmoved, looking away from the door. For several moments Guillaume waited, hoping, praying that his old friend would turn, confess he was wrong, he was merely angry, he didn’t mean what he’d said.

    Andronikos doesn’t apologize. Guillaume smiled sadly after several fruitless seconds. He means what he says, with all his being. He always has, he always will. Silently, the Patriarch of Konstantinopolis opened the door to more than just the hallway outside. Excommunication, war, and destruction all loomed beyond. He looked back, one last time. Andronikos looked up, one last time, anger and hate blazing in his eyes.

    God save us all, d'Ockham prayed.

    He tried to close the door on a friendship, and an empire, as quietly as he could.

    Last edited by General_BT; 03-01-2012 at 22:38.
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