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Thread: In the Shadow of Certain, Painful Doom: Abyssinia

  1. #1

    In the Shadow of Certain, Painful Doom: Abyssinia



    This is me. I’m 56, Monophysite, and looking for love. Monophysite is not a skin condition, but rather a sect of the Orthodox Church. We view ourselves as the only true version of the Orthodox Church. “We” meaning the Duke of Axum, myself, and the people of our small, respective realms. The rest of the Orthodox Church (including the Byzantium Empire, mind you, and all the Russians) consider us heretics and worse than infidels. The main point of difference is a bit subtle, something to do with believing that Jesus was of one divine nature after incarnation, whereas the rest of the Orthodox world believes he had two natures, divine and natural. I notice that the religion tab of the ledger doesn’t even bother mentioning us. I do have the option of converting to Orthodox, but at a cost of 500 piety (I currently have 30). So I can be a slightly pious heretic or an extremely impious Orthodox. On a side note, most Catholics don’t mind us, except for the zealous Pope, who hates us with a passion. Here is one of the rock-hewn churches for which my Zagwe Dynasty is famous:



    I'm pretty average at most everything, except my career at which I am clueless. But I don't have any traits that would anger vassals, which is a plus. Not that I have any vassals that could do anything about it at the moment. Also somehow I manage to combine the trait of moderation with being an intemperate wastrel. Maybe I spend a lot of money not on myself but on stupid and frivolous ventures.





    And this is our fertile season.

    Abyssinia is tucked away as far as a medieval mind could imagine from the green forests and (relatively) populous towns of Europe. My capital is in Gondar, a uniformly mountainous area except for a sandy bit to the west. Travel is slow but one would hope my realm will be easier to defend. One would hope. Here are some typical views:



    The first one seems a bit lonely, doesn’t it? But if you get up close, there are a fair number of fun folks—on the second one is a typical village.




    To the south and west are arid wastelands. Of more interest are my neighbors to the east and to the north. My eastern neighbor is Emir Ali III of Harer. He is trusting, shy, honest, and an infidel. He dislikes me a little, but I hate him, largely because I desire the land of Harer. The Emir will have to go. Unfortunately, many Muslims feel that Harer is the fourth holy city, so I can expect them to try to get it back once I take it. This is probably as good a time as any to mention that there are massive Muslim populations to the northwest, north, northeast, and to the east. We Christians down here are very alone.




    My northern neighbor is Duke Negus Zaré of Axum. Given he is the only other ruler of the Monophysite faith, you would think we would be the best of friends, covering each other’s back against a hostile world. You would be wrong. He dislikes me because I own the County of Sennar, which falls in the Axum de jure duchy. Dude, your great-great grandfather Di Na’od lost it to my great-great grandfather Mara Takla Haymanot 150 years ago when Mara Takla married one of the Axums and started my Zagwe dynasty. Time to move on. Anyway, Axum falls completely in the de jure Kingdom of Abyssinia, of which I am king. So if anything he should just be glad he’s still independent.

    North of Axum are the Nubians, who are only relevant to me because one of their counties falls within my de jure kingdom. The Nubians are Orthodox Christians and so hate me as a heretic. The Nubians themselves neighbor the largest Muslim empire in the world, so it sucks to be them.



    A map showing the de jure Kingdom of Abyssinia.

    Here is my unofficial dynasty goal: Reclaim all the lands of my de jure kingdom of Abyssinia and make it a Christian power to rival the great European kingdoms. And also not be crushed into oblivion by the multitude of nearby infidels. To do this I will make some careful yet bold diplomatic maneuvering to attach my yoke to that of the biggest, strongest Christian nation which doesn’t view me as a heretic: the Holy Roman Empire. That is the plan, anyway. This is the Middle Ages, what could go wrong?
    Last edited by Philo32b; 10-08-2012 at 14:13.

  2. #2
    People's Commissar of the Navy Demi Moderator Avindian's Avatar
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    I'm excited to see where you go with this -- Ethiopian AARs are rare.
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  3. #3
    Part Time Warp aldriq's Avatar
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    Good luck with this, it looks like a very precarious situation to start with...
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  4. #4
    General Nodscouterr's Avatar
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    This will, if nothing else, be an interesting AAR. Let us hope it won't be a short one.

  5. #5
    Interesting start and interesting country. Show them who the real men of faith are

    Tim

  6. #6

  7. #7
    Thanks for the words of encouragement! I have wanted to do my first AAR some time now, and mysterious, imperiled Abyssinia has been intriguing me.
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  8. #8

    Chapter 2



    I decide to have my son marry Adela of the Holy Roman Empire. Adela is an older sister to the current Kaiser and would carry an alliance with the HRE. I'm hoping that the Muslims will take the trouble to notice this alliance and fear the Holy Roman Empire as my protector. Whether the Catholic Kaiser will really care to help a “heretic” branch of the Orthodox Church is another question. How the Muslims see it is what’s important here. Anyway, my son and Adela are both Elusive Shadows, so they will have all sorts of interesting dinner conversations.

    At first I did feel a bit bad for Adela, though. She’s going from the green forests of her birth land to... well, just look at it. Gondar is something of an acquired taste.




    So I was started to feel badly for her, but then I noticed that she absolutely hates the Kaiser… because she’s both envious and ambitious. She should be a lot of fun. Anyway, at least Gondar won't have her brother around. She should thank me.

    Selfless father that I am, I made sure my son was taken care of first. Now I look for a bride for myself. I’m looking for someone too old to give birth, as I don’t want the risk of my son getting assassinated. Some extra diplomatic help would be nice, in the probably vain hope that the infidels will grow to like me. Also, being gregarious, I would like a little companionship in the twilight years of my life. Then I notice the perfect choice:



    That's right--the mother of the Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire, Kaiserin Agnes. Apparently the Kaiser is OK with sending his mother off to marry the monarch of a "heretical" sect in the arid mountainous region practically surrounded by multitudes of well-armored infidels. In any case, it’s perfect because she is 46 and too old for children, she will contribute a bit diplomatically, and she and Adela will remind each other of home. Of course, the fact that Adela was the bastard daughter of a woman that committed adultery with Kaiserin Agnes’s husband should make family meals even more interesting. I dispatch both these marriage offers to the Kaiser, wondering if he will simply send the two women back immediately instead of wasting time by writing first.





    One of my advisers reminds me that my Crown Authority is very permissive: any vassals would have complete autonomy to do whatever foolish things pop in their head. I actually have no landed vassals yet, but when I do I want them to do whatever foolish things pop in my head, so I change this to Limited Crown Authority. Also, with only two dynasty members in existence, I need to be able to assign army officers.





    A ray of sunshine! Although it pains my proud heart to admit this, my economy, military, and culture are about as primitive as possible. … But my Muslim neighbor to the East is very technologically advanced, giving some of my counties all sorts of research boosts simply from being next to him. Given we will be at war soon, it is fortunate that all his massive tech is in the peaceful categories of economy and culture. Silly enlightened infidel!




    Unfortunately there are more entries above mine. A lot more.

    On the military side of things I compare favorably with my immediate neighbors: That’s me at the top! I try to ignore the fact that The Shia Caliphate is just a month-and-a-half march from the North… unless they use boats, in which case they could be at my doorstep in two weeks. I quickly pack off my masterful chancellor, Mayor Tariku of Shewa, to Quena to pay our respects to Caliph al-Mustansir. I take some heart in the fact that the good Caliph is trusting, kind, and craven. Maybe we won’t all die horrible deaths.





    Happy day! Agnes and I are married. You know there is a lot of room for growth when you actually have to deliberate on 15 gold versus 50 prestige. Also, apparently marrying an attractive woman ten years younger than I am has stimulated me: within a couple of days I become ambitious. There’s life in me yet!




    A lunatic who is garrulous and unswervingly honest? She must be fun at parties.

    Having become ambitious goes immediately to my head, however, as I have grown tired of my wife (of one whole week) and consider trying to seduce a courtier. Zeina is attractive enough… if you never mind the fact that she’s 16, chaste, and a lunatic. Amazingly, one of my options would be to tell my wife that I want to seduce Zeina, hoping that my wife will not mind. Even more amazingly, apparently there would be a 50% chance that she will be cool with this. Instead I prudently use deceit to seduce this courtier. Did I say prudent? Actually that would have been not doing anything at all. But I’m ambitious and I want it all right now. I’m king after all, by the One-Natured God!





    I knew I should have known better, so it is with some stoicism that I accept her response when she spurns me as too old and ugly for her. Would it kill her to use a little tact though? Am I that ugly? I feel a little better when I remember she is stark raving mad.

    Because I now dislike her I want her out of my sight. I would be lying if I said it didn’t occur to me to marry her off to some Orthodox kingdom where they would hate her; maybe to some monarch even older and uglier than I. But I did do better by her: King Malcolm of Scotland apparently is into exotic crazy ladies, as he wholeheartedly agrees to marry her. She could have done worse, but I neglect to ask her opinion on the arrangements.

    Apparently my sending two marriage proposals confused the slow Kaiser, and he forgot all about my proposal regarding my son. I remind him of this. But now it is my son’s turn to be spurned when the Kaiser rebuffs the marriage offer to Adela. I’m sure my wife Agnes at least is relieved. I look in vain for a good bride and can’t find anyone young enough, with good traits, and with alliance connections.





    Finally I pick Unia of Auvergne simply because she’s lustful. With only two dynasty members, +20% fertility is sounding good right now. I can’t help noticing right away, though, that she hates my son and me. That’s OK, she’s universally hated by my people, so it’s reciprocal. She will make a great queen someday. To help her along, I demand that she convert to the true faith of Monophysiticism. Unfortunately she hates me too much to convert. I point out to her that she hates me only because I’m not Catholic. If she were already Monophyscist she would like me and be happy to convert. This logic does not impress her. As Plan B, I ask the overly serious Bishop Haeran of Qundi to set up a local inquisition in the capital to persuade “all the nonbelievers among the populace” to convert. As Unia is the only nonbeliever in the entire kingdom, I hope she gets the point. Bishop Haeran looks a little too eager at this project, which gives me an uneasy feeling.

    It only occurs me after Unia joins our happy community that I failed in my attempt to ally my kingdom with anyone that would give the infidel hesitation to crush me. Truly we are standing alone in a hostile world. Well, mercenaries can always be found to provide protection that is lacking. Perhaps I should curb my wastrel tendencies and save up a vast war chest so I can summon a mighty army at a moment's notice.




    Is Ethiopian coin not worth enough to die for?

    By the One-Natured God! Not one of the mercenary companies take the trouble to ply their services down this far south? I can hire no mercs! This is very, very bad. Now I understand my wastrel trait a little more. Why the hell save money if you can’t hire mercenaries? Why the hell save your money if you’re doomed anyway. My noticing of this is good timing, because as it happens the drums of war are already beating nearby and land has been changing hands. Not every ruler apparently makes converting rude in-laws their number one priority.
    Last edited by Philo32b; 19-04-2012 at 22:43.
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  9. #9
    El Presidente of Tropico & etc Ivir Baggins's Avatar
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  10. #10
    subscribed for the title only. Certain doom indeed
    Anyway, try to offer vasallization to the sololonid. i guess he will accept, since you are de jure liege of same religion and culture.

    Edit: If you survive 20 years you will do better than me...

  11. #11
    Thanks Ivir Baggins and borbad!

    With Patch 1.05 let's hope nothing too crazy happens to interrupt the certain doom that is approaching.
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  12. #12

    Chapter 3

    Ill tidings are in the air when I notice that The Shia Caliphate has already taken half of Nubia while I have been puttering around arranging marriages. Apparently the Nubians tried to resist, because they have only 57 fighting men available. Then Axum marshals its levees:




    The Duke of Axum thinks all this bodes well for his chance to expand his realm, and he declares war on the last county of Nubia. I have no claims against Axum, so I can’t take advantage of their temporary vulnerability, so instead I wish my religious brethren good luck. Once Nubia is out of the way, Axum will neighbor The Shia Caliphate. I wonder if Duke Negus Zaré has considered that.

    Seeing Axum off to war has put me in a bellicose mood. I check if the infidel Harer would accept becoming my vassal. No. That would not be ideal anyway, with the foreign and religious differences. So I start ruminating on invasion plans. My first thought was to attack quickly, as he is ahead of me on military tech (his 6 to my 0), and if he pulls farther ahead now would be my best opportunity. But none of his holdings have been built up either with military infrastructure, so time is really on my side, with my six counties to his four. Probably the best opportunity will be if Axum attacks Harer. Then I can also declare Holy War, and we can both try to grab as much as possible for ourselves, hoping the other takes all the losses... Because we Monophysite brothers of the faith are in it together.





    My son asks for a fief. I would like to give him a county to get him started on prestige, but he is ambitious and an illusive shadow. His gratitude will wear off in a couple of years and then I’ll have to put up with his whining, his complaining, and his attempting to poison my after-dinner Tej (traditional Ethiopean honey wine). I’m 57 now, and my father’s line have all lived well into their 60s before dying of a natural death. I don't want to buck that tradition. Plus I don't want any distractions from my son's working to expand our ever so slender dynasty line. I tell him to wait.





    Even better than I had wished, Emir Ali III of Harer launches a Holy War on Axum, who is still (still?) pursuing their war against the helpless Nubians. This is perfect, because now Axum must fight with no prospect of gaining any land from their efforts. Now all I must do is wait a bit for the two to exhaust each other, and then swoop down like a hawk on the exhausted Harerians, seizing their entire kingdom in one juicy grab. Perhaps a hawk like the Dark Chanting Goshawk. No, more like the Black-Chested Snake Eagle, which has a less inspiring call than the Goshawk, but whose flight is much less stiff and cumbersome.

    Things are going well--perhaps too well… I start to get nervous. To distract me, on receiving and carefully exploring a mysterious book, I take up being a scholar.





    My son’s wife Unia gives birth to a boy. This should make me happy as our dynasty has grown, but instead this simply reinforces my feeling that something very bad is lurking just out of sight. In any case, Unia still hates us all. Good thing she’s lustful. Apparently that outweighs her dislike of my son. They must have interesting conjugal visits.

    Later it seems that having a child has prompted some soul searching on Unia’s part. She has seen the light and converted to Monophysiticism. We still don’t like each other much because of our cultural differences, but the animosity has been taken down a level. Dinner conversations now consist of sullen glares and mutters instead of shouted insults and rude gestures.





    The eve of the first battle between Harer and Axum. They are both headed for the mountainous county of Tadjoura. Harer has the jump on Axum and will get there first, acquiring the benefit of mountain defense. Axum has a 100 more men, but Harer archers are better trained. I think Harer will easily rout them, though obviously I hope for a long, pitched battle that wears both sides down.

    But it’s good to be proven wrong in this case. They fought tooth and nail at each other until both were near the breaking point, at which I opportunistically throw my gauntlet down and declare Holy War on the weakened Harer. (I could instead have fought under “Defend the Faith” if I was nobly in it simply to help my Monophysitian brothers. I did have a momentary twinge of guilt by not taking that, which I take to be a sign of naïve virtue as a Middle Ages ruler and will be on the watch for further moments of weakness.)





    I accidentally left the inquisition running and my chaplain accuses Bishop Geteye of Roha of being a heretic. Geteye may be greedy, gluttonous, and syphilitic (I thought this was from the yet undiscovered New World?!), but as he is also zealous the irony is that he is less open to such a charge than my chaplain. I chastise my “overzealous” chaplain and tell him to study his books for our cultural benefit instead. The shock and outrage of all this was too much for the diseased Bishop Geteye, who collapses a week later and dies.

    On an unrelated note, my daughter-in-law continues to irk me. This is exactly the kind of thing I have to put up with for the sake of furthering my dynasty. Shouldn’t you be off producing more children?





    My Holy War is going well, albeit slowly, but I become ill. My sense of foreboding returns and is not dispelled even when my health returns a few weeks later.

    Then I find out that the Caliph moved his capital and no one told me. My chancellor has been wasting his time with nobodies. Perhaps my chancellor is so inept that he doesn’t even know that the person he is trying to get an audience with has moved out of the county.





    Herar is successfully sieging my counties while I am successfully sieging his. Axum comes and helps me, which is very nice of him. At this point I deliberate hard, for while I am tempted to send my force to destroy his troops in my land, I think I can take his land away from him faster and come out ahead, especially if my new-found friend Axum helps me. A week later the situation improves greatly (for me) when Harer keeps heading north into Axum’s kingdom. “Sorry Monophysite brother—perhaps the best thing to defend your kingdom is to keep helping me take Harer land, don’t you think? We’re in this together after all.” He disagrees and heads home to have his force destroyed by the Harerians, who are now so small they can no longer siege my counties. That works for me, Axum, that works for me.





    Poor Bishop Geteye must be turning in his grave. The very same Bishop Haeran of Qundi who accused him of being a heretic is now asking me to convert to a heretic sect. Bizarrely, the heretic sect he is asking me to convert to is the Monophysite faith, the very religion we already hold. I could have him arrested as mad, obviously appropriate, but he is a masterful theologian and seems pretty harmless. I embrace this “new” religion and then ask him to take a couple of weeks off for bed rest.





    Ironically, just at the moment when I should be most proud—reclaiming a lost branch of my kingdom—I feel suddenly that I have nothing to be proud of. Maybe I am getting wise and seeing pride on a cosmic scale now. We Monophysites tend to see the bigger picture, you know.

    I am on the verge of taking the Duchy of Harer and practically doubling my realm. Surely with this kind of forward movement, nothing can stop me in my quest to unite all of the de jure Kingdom of Abyssinia and spread the Monophysite faith to the four corners of the known world. Nothing can stop me now, right?
    Last edited by Philo32b; 13-08-2012 at 02:24.
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  13. #13
    First Lieutenant Concrete's Avatar
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    I've been looking forward to some Abyssinia AARs, and if by your haste or my blindness, this is the first I've seen.
    Enjoying the style too, good luck!

  14. #14
    I really love this AAR, Abyssinia is awesome!

  15. #15
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    This AAR is great.
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  16. #16
    Good luck! if you have updated to 1.05, you are even more doomed- Now the caliph can call jihads against all your kingdom

    hopefully you will be able to apease him.

  17. #17
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    Nice start, I love Ethiopian AARs, rare as they are. I'll be following!
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  18. #18
    Thanks concrete, ticket cookie, beamed, borbad, and saithis!

    @borbad. It will be 1.04 for a little bit yet. So just the normal level of doom and not an extra dose. And unfortunately my chancellors have been singularly unproductive!
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  19. #19

    Chapter 4



    After a few years of waiting for my vassals to understand why it is better for the mayors to pay me more taxes, enough of them finally vote my way. As I am a wastrel it is understandable why they would drag their feet.




    At some point Harer (wisely) accepted peace terms with Axum, and so Axum gives back Tadjoura County to the infidels. I break off and send a smaller force to reclaim this county. Suddenly, Axum decides they want a piece of what I’m getting, and so they declare Holy War, too, though their levee numbers are exhausted. I’m hopeful there's no free land left when they finally get over here.





    I was hoping Axum would foolishly help me siege at Tadjoura, but they didn’t bite continuing south. It is a foot race now, with Axum trying to reach Busaso to have a chance at anything for all their efforts, while I try to finish off the siege at Berbera so I can reach Busaso first and take control of the siege. I have only half the men I would need for a full assault on the stronghold’s walls, so I must continue to wait it out. For once I am glad of the mountains, as it will take Axum three full months to reach the next county. Once Berbera’s castle will have fallen to my men, the city and temple garrisons’ morale should quickly plummet.

    Meanwhile the Emir of Harer can only sit with his small force in his last free county. At each minor victory in the field now I keep sending envoys to demand the Emir’s surrender, but he believes the war is still indecisive. Obviously the pressure has made him take leave of his senses. One can only imagine what he is thinking as all the displaced lords from his lands hurry in, but I do notice that he has a new aspiration: have a daughter. If he hadn’t himself called a Holy War on my Axum Monophysite brother, I might actually feel sorry for him.





    Victory is at hand. My forces quickly crush the disorganized rabble left guarding his capital. He can only marshal two columns, one of which does not even have an officer. I easily rout them and take charge of the siege, ensuring Axum gets nothing.

    Reality soon sets in on the Emir of Harer and he surrenders. I take control of all the holdings throughout the Duchy of Harer. The Emir and his family and closest courtiers flee to the court at Benghazi, in Northern Africa.




    Poor Duke Negus Zaré, so instrumental in my success, gets nothing. Inspired with fellow feeling, though, I suggest he pledge himself to me as my vassal, an honor (or perhaps insult) which he readily declines. I even offer to betroth his daughter with my grandson, which he also declines. I do this out of genuine gratitude, one Monophysite to another, but perhaps he worries that this would give my grandson’s son a casus belli for his entire dukedom. Really, though, he should lighten up—quite likely our dynasties will both have been blotted out by then.





    At first I am quite happy to see that the newly conquered lands are the same culture as me: Ethiopian. Doesn’t this mean that I have to wait only three years for the local population to finally accept my light yoke and start being productive? Since the Muslim counties are technology rich, I would dearly love to adopt this new de jure duchy of Herar as my own and vassalize my old, primitive-as-dirt duchy. I decide to put my son as duke over these new lands. His ambitions will be overshadowed by gratitude for a few years, and as I am now 63 I probably won’t live too much longer anyway. I do hold over a county to give him later for another smaller boost to our relations. The only thing that would derail this is if I live fewer than three years. Oh well, Axum probably would love to have these kind of problems. Only after I set up my son in his new counties do I realize that it will take 30 years, not three, before these counties are productive again because of the religious differences between the conquered and the conquerors. Let’s hope my chaplain can turn these counties more quickly than that.





    A period of peace descends on the lands, but this lasts for only a few months before I notice Axum’s levies raised. Turns out one of The Shia Caliphate’s vassals, Prince Abu Mansur ad-Nizar, launched a Holy War against Axum. I would very much like to help defend Axum, since once taken by the infidel prince it will become part of The Shia Caliphate and become nothing that I will dare touch anytime soon. But unless Axum calls me into the fight, which he cannot as we are not allies, I cannot declare war, because Prince Abu Mansur ad-Nizar is not an independent ruler. (1.04c) I would need to declare war against his liege, the Caliph. Sorry Axum. This is probably as good a foreshadowing of what will happen to my kingdom as anything. I keep sending chancellors to put in a good word to the Caliph, but they keep dying. I’m starting to put the pieces together.





    I send my spymaster to build a spy network in Atbara, Axum, so I can see the war progress in all the surrounding counties. Sure enough, the cowardly Prince Abu Mansur ad-Nizar’s activities have aroused the mighty Caliph, and large Shia Caliphate forces begin trampling Axum’s dusty lands with their infidel feet.





    First Unia and now Chancellor Antsokia. Do I have a sign on my back that says, “Be a wiseass to me”? Is anybody else trying to save the last fortress of Monophysiticism? Anybody?





    Ah yes, the lunatic Zeina, whom I tried to seduce and then sent off to the King of Scotland when she rebuffed me. She looks much the same after seven years, aside from maturing, having two daughters, and converting to Catholicism (of all things). She has also picked up the traits of illness and... um, death. King Malcolm is now on his third wife. He appears to be a good father, anyway.




    As was inevitable, Axum falls to the infidels, who divide it among themselves. His pride stinging, the conquered Duke of Axum spurns my offer of security and instead takes refuge in my son’s court. Gebre Sawakin, one of Axum’s nobles, arrives at my court as a refugee, however. Where would my court go if the infidels conquer my kingdom?

    An uneasy peace again settles throughout the Ethiopian lands. But of course it will not last.
    Last edited by Philo32b; 19-04-2012 at 22:59.
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  20. #20
    One duchy gain for another lost... At the least the Salomonids wasn't yours vassals.
    Now you need to wait an civil war in the Shia Caliphate to reconquer Axum, isn't it?

    Always great!

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