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

  1. #81

    Chapter 11



    I learn that the wife of Axum’s old ruler, Negus Zare Solomonid, has died of natural causes. Ever since the infidels stripped Negus of refuge by sacking my father’s demense in Herar, Negus and his family have been living as courtiers in Conversano, Bari, in Southern Italy. He hates his liege there, but most of the courtiers hate the liege as well. At 74, Negus occupies himself with his love of falconing and with trying to become steward for the count, a deluded ambition since stewardship is his worst trait.





    Nikodemus tells me there are vassal Greek forces in Eastern Byzantium that Fethee and his force of 20 men could connect with. He mentions, though, that many Greek overlords there recruit from the local Sunni populations, so it would be all too easy to confuse the Greek forces with Sunni rebels, who are also frequently encountered in the area: “Especially to one unfamiliar with the area and with the languages involved,” he says, adding that it would be almost certainly lethal to make a mistake here. He gives me the precise locations of one small band of 300 or so rebels led by a Sunni Muslim named Adil in the county of Asas. He neglects to mention me where any vassal Greeks forces could be found.

    Later I give Fethee orders to connect up with a vassal force of 300 Greeks in Asas and work with them to destroy nearby rebels. I note that many of the allied vassal troops will look Sunni. I advise him that the Sunni only respect strength, so he should approach them boldly, loudly proclaiming that he is a vassal of the Basileus of Byzantium, here to slay every rebel in the area without mercy. I stress that he needs to put it just this way. His hatred of me subdued for the moment by his eagerness, he promises that they will be impressed by the force of his words and approach. I cannot say I feel pleasure at this, but I certainly feel no guilt as my hated nemesis leaves the room. It does occur to me an odd state of affairs when my nemesis is not the Caliph who stripped from me the chance to rule as Abyssinian King but rather one of my councilors.





    The good news is that my piety is moving in the right direction. The bad news is that at 0.44 points per month, it will take 118 years to break even.




    Yes, Nikodemus hates me, too. But he also needs me.

    With us both being shy, I find it a little easier to talk with Nikodemus, and I have a little heart to heart with him about the reality of pressing his claims on the Hellas County. Thankfully, not being an imbecile, he has already figured out this much himself. But as I had hoped, he fully realizes that any short-term chance he has to press his claims rests on building up my own land and power so that I can be in a position to help him. With his diplomatic abilities, Nikodemus is good at disguising his disgust of me. But I have become something of an expert in people hating me, so I can see through him. Yet I do like him, and as he was a former chancellor for a Greek Count and familiar with the dynamics of power in the chaotic world of Greek Byzantine politics, I realize that Nikodemus could be very useful to me.

    The first step will be to acquire an additional county, preferably one from which we can hire a mercenary company. Ideally this county will be the same religion and ethnicity as me, to quicken the population’s acceptance of me. But as the now-conquered Nubia is the only such candidate, resting in the craw of the infidel beast, this is not likely. Best to stick with at least the same religion, if possible.

    I am no military genius, yet even this problem is apparent to me: “But how would my 249 men ever be able to conquer as much as a city’s levee, let alone a county?” Nikodemus explains that there are two paths we must follow here to ensure sufficient fighting forces.




    I’m not going to win “Most Popular Liege” award anytime soon.

    The first is we must boost the levees that my two vassals are providing me. While Bishop Afework merely hates me with a passion, Mayor Abai of Kosti becomes apoplectic at the sight of me. They are giving the 30% levees required by High Crown Law, but not one man more. Converting them to Orthodox would be an important first step their acceptance of me, and for that we will need a new chaplain.




    Surely an eventual candidate for sainthood.

    The second path to boosting our fighting force is allying ourselves with someone who has already has a larger levee. My unmarried sister will be useful here. My sister is charitable, diligent, temperate, and humble, and yet even though she approaches sainthood with her qualities, she still manages to find it in hers heart to also hate me. If we marry her off to someone who will then be allied to us, their armies could be our armies in a war to add to our land. Nikodemus has already taken the liberty of examining every available Orthodox bachelor and a few more besides that could be made single with the relevant attentions and administrations.




    Kind, trusting, brave. Not a bad catch… if you never mind the 30 years difference, of course.

    Roman Sviatoslavovich (my mouth can barely produce such a foreign name) is a Russian with some useful connections and prospects. His own wife, Varvara of Kopys, died a year before of natural causes. And while his dreams are of being marshal rather than acquiring another wife, he seems amenable to the match with Genat. “You have already broached the matter to him?” I ask, incredulous. “But of course,” Nikodemus says, “I assumed you were serious about again raising the glory of the Zagwe Dynasty to its rightful place among the most powerful in the region. Isn’t that what you want?” Damn, he is good. I simply nod.

    Roman is cynical, which endears him to me, and he is also content, brave, kind, and trusting. All the qualities that would make him an ideal husband for my sister Genat. Of course I’m not the 16-year old who will need to enjoy the husbandly affections of a man 30 years her senior. I try not to think about that too much. The thing I will think about is Roman’s connections. Roman himself is penniless and has no land. But a union between our two families carries with it an alliance with Roman’s older brother, the depressed, paranoid, and wroth Duke Gleb II of Ryanan.




    I want to be Duke Ryazan.

    With eight duke titles to his name, Gleb is a man who carries virtually all the Russian-sounding duke titles you could imagine. And while Roman hates his brother due to his having everything that Roman himself does not, Gleb likes his younger brother and wishes to help him in whatever way he can. (Aside from giving him a title, apparently.)

    As a potential ally, Duke Ryazan is perfect. He is the same Orthodox religion as myself. He does not seem to mind my not being Russian, his placement near Byzantium helps ensure that we will be able to have him help us acquire land closer to my liege lord, which I would prefer. And he has levees, lots of them. Owing to current wars, he only has 700 men available, but his 51 castles, cities, and churches ensure that at full strength he will be able to easily help me crush a couple of weak counts.

    “So we will marry off Genat to Roman, and Gleb will help us acquire a couple of counties,” says Nikodemus, getting excited. “Then you will be able to help me press my claims to Hellas, and I will become your most loyal vassal.” It is at this moment that I know Nikodemus is playing me for a fool.
    Last edited by Philo32b; 07-05-2012 at 16:31.
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  2. #82
    Lt. General TheExecuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philo32b View Post
    “So we will marry off Genat to Roman, and Gleb will help us acquire a couple of counties,” says Nikodemus, getting excited. “Then you will be able to help me press my claims to Hellas, and I will become your most loyal vassal.” It is at this moment that I know Nikodemus is playing me for a fool.
    And it is at this moment that I realize how much I love your writing style. Perfectly worded, and excellently handled cliff-hanger.

    Bravo!
    The Last Mission A Love Story

    There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.

  3. #83
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    Zaré has quite a sense of humour, calling himself Negus .

    And Lithuania is HRE again. Someone should do something against it.
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  4. #84
    Quote Originally Posted by TheExecuter View Post
    And it is at this moment that I realize how much I love your writing style. Perfectly worded, and excellently handled cliff-hanger.

    Bravo!
    Many thanks! I appreciate it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Athalcor View Post
    Zaré has quite a sense of humour, calling himself Negus .

    And Lithuania is HRE again. Someone should do something against it.
    Ahh, I missed the Negus thing. Nice! Thanks for pointing it out.
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  5. #85

    Chapter 12


    Wheel of Fortune moral: if you don't wear pants, you are on fortune's downturn.


    Someone requests to chronicle our family’s history, which was at first a shock. But then I suppose our tragic story might serve as a moral instruction, a sort of literary “wheel of fortune.” You never know which way that Blind Lady Fate will turn the wheel, whether you are ascending towards wealth, health, and happiness, or descending to be crushed like… well, like the Zagwe Dynasty. The chronicler might use this writing to make the fortunate more stoic in the impermanence of their comforts and the downtrodden more hopeful in the potential for positive change. Or it could just be a story to laugh at. Let’s face it, it’s probably the latter.




    At least my mother doesn’t hate me... yet.

    Since my mother still likes me and her husband is dead, it occurs to me that she might be willing to come back to live in my county. It would be nice to have more people who like me and who I trust around. Unfortunately, Unia would rather live among those who hate her as a heretic than set foot in this area again. But the fortunes of the Zagwe Dynasty are bigger than just she or I, so I go above her head. I ask her infant son liege what he thinks of a marriage proposal to Hakeem, my steward whose chief aim currently is finding love. What Unia’s infant liege thinks is what the Regent actually controlling the power thinks, which is that one less heretic around is a fine idea. I am soon welcoming my cynical mother back and giving her away to my steward in a traditional Monophysite marriage ceremony.





    Great, now my mother doesn’t like me anymore. What did I do wrong? I should try to minimize personal relations with people. Every relationship I touch spontaneously combusts.




    You think you can fool me? My intrigue is 57.1% better than yours.

    How did I know that Nikodemos was playing me for a fool? Nikodemos was a chancellor for a Greek count. He knows how inheritance laws work and how claims are correctly and incorrectly pressed. And yet he made what to him must be an extremely elementary mistake: he said if I successfully press his claim on Hellas, he will be my most loyal vassal. But the truth of the matter is that if I press his claim, he will be a count of equal rank to me. He will then be independent of me, and free to toss me to the side, my usefulness to him past. He misjudges that I am such an ignorant barbarian that I do not know this simple fact.

    I will outsmart him at his own game. Since his backstab of me would occur only after he had helped me get everything I need, I will just wait until that point, and then find reasons to not press his claim. Unfortunately, I will soon find that I neglected to follow a basic rule in intrigue: if someone is playing you for a fool, you should strongly consider doing the opposite of everything they tell you to do.





    As part of Nikodemus’ plan, I betroth my sister to Roman. When she asks for details on her husband-to-be, I keep mentioning that he is kind, trusting, content, brave, and can press an enormous number of land claims. I tell her I am sketchy on other details, such as his approximate age, give or take a few decades.




    If I was a more spiritual man, I might think that the Fates had decreed that Fethee Qaquit was to live all his days only within the dejure Kingdom of Abyssinia. On his way to an appointment with certain doom in Byzantium, Fethee ensures my hands remain clean by dying of natural causes while crossing the Nile moving from Hayya County in Abyssinia to Makuria in Egypt. His second-in-command, Jima, tells me in a letter that Fethee choked to death on a date while they were taking a ferry across the Nile. Jima takes command of the “army,” and I send orders for the (surely relieved) men to return home.





    Immediately after news of Fethee’s death, my steward offhandedly mentions that Nikodemos already picked up the ceremonial marshal helmet and has begun assuming the duties for his new office, on my orders. I don’t mention to Hakeem that I never gave these orders. Yes, Nikodemos and I certainly plotted for this end, but I would have thought it proper for me to confirm it. My talents and experience at intrigue, average as they are, are making me feel uncomfortable. As a safety precaution, I send messages to Bishop Afework, Mayor Abai, and the captain of my guard at Sennar Castle: I remind them that any order to raise the levees must come directly, signed and sealed, from me alone.




    My council is starting to look Greek.

    My spymaster dies in his bath, and Nikodemos advises me to take the opportunity to import another sophisticated Greek into my court. I learn through Nikodemos that a young master at intrigue, Anastasios Kantakouzenos from Mesembria in Greece is dissatisfied with his liege and is also miscast as a chancellor. I invite him to my court. He makes it clear that he is only interested if I will press his claim to some or other title. I have no intention in the world of doing such a thing, and this should be obvious to anyone with the least amount experience in intrigue. But with regard to inherited land rights, hope seems to run eternal, and this master at the art of intrigue is tricked by me, who am just simply competent at the game. He accepts. At first Anastasios is unhappy with his new home, but I give a small stipend of gold to ease the transition, and now he appears to like me. I feel safer already.




    What are those two always whispering about?

    I almost have the feeling that Nikodemos and Anastasios already knew each other, as they hit it off so well. But I suppose it is natural that two outsiders to our culture would feel thrown together. They can often be seen whispering to each other before or after council meetings, or even in the council hall when no meetings are scheduled. Nikodemos has explained that whispering is just a harmless Greek habit. Still…
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  6. #86
    "What you two are conspiring about"? Indeed. I have to say that playing as a small power can be really interesting, if only because you have to keep a vigilant eye for your court. It's also a level where marriages and political schemes can be very rewarding. I'll watch development with interest.

  7. #87
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    Sennar. A refuge for naive claimants. Hard work, warm weather and lot of extra sand for the first twenty applicants.
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  8. #88
    Quote Originally Posted by Holy.Death View Post
    "What you two are conspiring about"? Indeed. I have to say that playing as a small power can be really interesting, if only because you have to keep a vigilant eye for your court. It's also a level where marriages and political schemes can be very rewarding. I'll watch development with interest.
    I agree, and I think that this is part of what makes the start of a game more interesting in many ways than the ending--you tend to start small and really have to pay attention to who is who in order to keep alive. Later if you get big, it stops mattering as much and becomes a bit impersonal. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Athalcor View Post
    Sennar. A refuge for naive claimants. Hard work, warm weather and lot of extra sand for the first twenty applicants.
    Indeed. Accepting an invitation to our Count of Sennar's court is the epitome of naivety. Hopes for their own land must really be blinding.
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  9. #89

    Chapter 13



    Agnes de Poitou. At 74, the second wife of Grandfather Yemrehana Krestos the Old is the fourth most pious and prestigious person in my court. Given her age, her piety and prestige, and the fact that she has been the spouse of both an emperor of the Holy Roman Empire as well as the last Christian Abyssinian King, Agnes might have played the role of the matriarch of our community. Instead she shyly hides in her room and hatches silly plots that nobody takes seriously. For the longest time she was the only non-Ethiopian and certainly the only Catholic around, and she was viewed with no small amount of disdain. Now, even with the new Orthodox Greeks on the scene, she is still the isolated foreigner. Nevertheless she is content with her life, a fact that might cause one to judge her foolish or wise depending on one’s one foolishness or wisdom.

    Agnes is the lone standout from the evolving court in Sennar. Nikodemos and Anastasios have both brought their families along with them. So there is quickly developing two separate communities in my court: the heretic Ethiopians who hate me, and the Orthodox Greeks who condescendingly look down on me as an uncouth barbarian. Even as they look down on me, though, I am fascinated by the Greeks’ culture and even just the way they talk and act.




    Cynical, patient, brave, diligent, and paranoid? She would not be a bad spymaster herself!

    You know you have a very good spymaster when they report on their own spouse. Anastasios tells me that his wife, Nonna Branas, wants to kill Nikodemos. Evidently she sees him as competition for her own claims on Hellas County. Since Anastasios would also benefit from his wife obtaining Hellas County, he seems to have proven himself doubly loyal, but it may just be that he is in a tricky situation, given his relationship with his wife and with Nikodemos. I want to tell them all to relax because nobody is pressing any of these silly claims, but even with my complete lack of tact, I manage to refrain. Nonna does agree to drop her plot Nikodemos, albeit reluctantly.

    Hold on a second... Nonna and Nikodemos are brother and sister? This turn of events takes me completely by surprise. They did all know each other beforehand. Why did no one investigate this and inform me? Oh yes, that would have been the job of my last spymaster, dead in his bath. OK, I will need to watch Nikodemos and Anastasios carefully. After all this, if I ever get to work in the Byzantine Emperor's court, I will be an old hand at court subterfuge.





    My half-brother is a lying, arbitrary bastard… and my people would rather he could rule than me.





    Almost immediately after Nonna agrees to end her plot on Nikodemos’ life, Court Chaplain Gebereal Komel-Shokafa sends my half-brother, Yemrehana Krestos Zagwe, to tell me that another heretic has converted to the one true faith of Orthodox Christianity. Of course this "good news" makes me instantly nervous. At least I know I can trust the bad news. Yemrehana tells me that Nonna is the “heretic” who has converted to Orthodoxy. But as the wife of my new Greek Orthodox spymaster, she already was Orthodox.





    Sure enough, upon investigation Gebereal has done it again. Exploiting the paranoid weakness of Nonna, still caught in the turmoil of the transition to our arid, hostile land, he has converted one of my new Greek courtiers from Orthodox to Monophysiticism. Nonna now hates her husband Anastasios as a heretic. Anastasios, I am sorry that I have brought you into this living nightmare. I hope you feel your claim to wherever it was is still worth it.

    My blood is boiling, but on finding Gebereal I tell him, very nicely, to conclude the inquisitions that he is running and instruct him to spend his time lobbying Bishop Arefort on my behalf, to improve the good bishop's view of me. Given how Gebereal ran the inquisitions, I have of course no hopeful expectations that he will be helpful here, but honestly it is just to minimize further damage--the bishop can't really hate me much more. Then I start to plot to murder my court chaplain, whom I have discovered is my new nemesis, now that Fethee has vacated the position. Unfortunately, not even my new Greek courtiers, fresh from the backstabbing paradise of the Byzantine Empire, will support me in my plot.





    I have already converted to Orthodox Christianity, which endeared me to my new liege. I have been studying closely my new Greek courtiers, learning about their manners and customs. Even my habitual shyness cannot stop my pestering them with questions on their laws, history, and politics. In the end, I begin emulating their ways, including even—to the additional horror of my people—their clothing styles and table manners. I have become Greek.



    That’s OK, they all hate me anyway.


    One consequence of my new Greek ways is that my spymaster now sufficiently likes me to join my plot to kill my chaplain. Perhaps the chaplain’s role in converting his wife to a heretic sect is part of his willingness as well. Unfortunately our little plot is discovered by my chaplain, though he does not show any indication that he knows who was behind the plan. With Nikodemos and Anastasios constantly whispering to each other, Nonna’s plotting and converting, and now Anastasios and I not sure how much Gebereal knows, things are getting pretty tense. It would relieve things if I could just order Gebereal imprisoned, but I can’t unless he does something wrong. Given my poor standing with my people any such order would be ignored by my guards, which would be very embarrassing.





    Genat has come of age! (My abilities as a teacher are apparently very good. My student is a Misguided Warrior, improved upon from what I am myself, a Clueless Warrior.) The union of the two families improves my standing and prestige as well, so much so that now instead of known as being known as low and ignoble as a mangy dog, I will have the same level of prestige accorded to the passive nobodies that hang around my court.

    My sister represents one of our few precious resources we have to change our lot in life. With her coming wedding, the scope of the Zagwe Dynasty will soon be changing. With our ability to leverage Genat to move Russian armies to our will, we will soon be able to string together a series of counties, followed by a duchy. This is vital, because even under the protection of the Byzantine Empire, if the infidels were to invade us the Imperial armies might be stretched too thin by the all-too-common civil wars to help us. If we have more than one county in multiple locations, we can survive the loss of one of them. And once we have built up enough to not only ensure our survival but our thriving, then I can start to plan to restore ourselves in our rightful place as rulers of the Abyssinian Kingdom.





    With such happy prospects as these in mind, I am unnerved only by an off-feeling I get at Nikodemos’ look these days. I suppose some part of me is trying to stay blind to the fact, but I am slowly starting to realize that something is terribly wrong.
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  10. #90
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    Maybe you could actually hire an Orthodox chaplain? You know, someone who actually knows the religion he is converting others to.
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  11. #91
    Greek too, now?

    Oh my. After steps like that you could reasonably expect to wake up with a couple knives in your back one day.

    Fortunately, there are no knives left in Sennar.

  12. #92
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    Gone from interest in an underdog, to simply unorthodox survival.
    Been an entertaining ride so far.
    Do you have New Gondar picked out yet?

  13. #93
    Quote Originally Posted by Athalcor View Post
    Maybe you could actually hire an Orthodox chaplain? You know, someone who actually knows the religion he is converting others to.
    Yes, you are right--that would be the most sensible. Unfortunately firing someone is difficult for our Count owing to his being craven and shy. He prefers to avoid the embarrassment by letting normal attrition empty the position. And while generally people seem to die accommodatingly young in his court, the chaplain appears to have a hardy constitution.

    Plus an Orthodox chaplain would seem to be the final nail in the coffin on Monophysiticism, and cynical as he is, it may be difficult for him to close the door on the dynasty's legacy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Held der Arbeit View Post
    Greek too, now?

    Oh my. After steps like that you could reasonably expect to wake up with a couple knives in your back one day.

    Fortunately, there are no knives left in Sennar.
    Yes, the silver lining to having nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Concrete View Post
    Gone from interest in an underdog, to simply unorthodox survival.
    Been an entertaining ride so far.
    Do you have New Gondar picked out yet?
    Thanks! No, not a New Gondar. The blood of the proud Zagwe dynasty demands that the old Gondar be wrested from the infidels and the people be freed to live as Ethiopian Monophysites... even if the Zagwes have become... Greek and Orthodox? This can't go well.
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  14. #94

    Chapter 14



    After much clumsiness, “The Drunkard” is starting to take the advantage in his war through sheer massive numerical advantage.





    Encouraged by the Basileus’s inefficient manner of war, another vassal of “The Drunkard” rebels, this one trying to take over the entire Byzantine Empire for himself. I can’t myself see how a ruler with one duchy and one county could hope to usurp all of Byzantium. These Byzantines are clever, though, so there must be an angle I don’t see. Perhaps the very fact it looks like such long odds indicates it is almost a sure thing?




    So full of prospective promise, my allies are nothing to me.

    As part of the normal correspondence to my liege reporting on the state of all my holdings (these are normally short letters), I mention that a recent alliance by marriage with a Russian duke will allow us to wage Holy War on infidels, extending the borders of our glorious Byzantine Empire and expanding the levee list upon which the Basileus can draw. As I write this, I am excited to hear back how pleased “The Drunkard” is at my progress. Instead, I learn how horribly wrong the marriage of my sister was to the duke.

    The Basileus writes back that while we can, of course, marry whomever we like, we cannot call on the foreign levees of our new in-laws to assist us in war. Some garbage about tarnishing the purity of the Imperial Armies and making us beholden to foreign powers. The Basileus notes that in future marriages I may want to stay within the limits of his domain, so that I can benefit militarily from such unions.





    I can barely believe what I’m reading. My sister’s marriage was one of the few precious resources we had remaining, and we squandered it on a kind, content, and useless Russian? My boiling blood overwhelms my craven and shy nature, and I find Nikodemos and demand why he would recommend someone as an ally we could not use. Nikodemos looks astonished and explains that “The Drunkard” makes up new rules and drops old ones all the time. I should never have written what I was going to do beforehand, Nikodemos says, because that would give the Basileus a chance to deny it, and now we can never use the Russian ally.

    What Nikodemos says makes sense, but I know from before that he has been trying to play me for a fool, so there must be some scheme I can't see. But why would he thwart my success upon which his own rests? I’m trying to learn how these Byzantine Greeks plot and scheme as fast as I can so I can survive, but they are so far ahead. I will keep Nikodemos close, let him think I am not on to him. I will watch him even more closely.





    Marriage to my mother Unia is apparently lethal and my steward Hakeem dies. It looks like death from natural causes, but can anyone really tell?




    Press your claim? Step in line.

    To replace my dead steward, recruiting a Greek councilor is now routine, but I don’t consult Nikodemos this time. My chancellor finds Anatolios Kontostephanos, a Greek with masterful stewardship abilities in Angelokastron, Arta. He agrees to join my court if I will press his claims to Arta, which his older brother got, and also if I make him steward. He should feel privileged as the only Greek councilor who will get anything they want coming to sandy Sennar, as I happily make him a steward immediately upon his arrival.





    I am tempted to seduce Eudokia Kontostephanos, the wife of Nikodemos. This has wrong written all over it. She detests me because I have no tact, I have a harelip, and I’m craven and she’s brave. While she does have a charming personality, I am repelled by her because she is a hunchback and gluttonous while I’m temperate. (As my only virtue, I probably prize Temperance more than it's worth.) Also cuckolding Nikodemos would, if discovered, probably carry all sorts of bad potential consequences.

    On the other side of the coin, I want to get back at Nikodemos. And if Eudokia were to have children from our union, they could be used in marriages to help my dynasty along. (There would be a better chance for more children than with my own spiteful wife, from whom I shall not be expecting any more heirs anytime soon.) Also, even though Eudikia and I repel each other, maybe that’s the kind of crazy energy needed to find true love. I decide to go for it, but only on the sly, as I would not want the embarrassing confrontation with my wife over this.




    It is a family curse.

    I just hope Nikodemos doesn’t find out. I will try to avoid Eudokia in the future.






    The Caliph is being attacked by three different groups, including a successful crusade, and his troops are being crushed. It occurs to me that this is the perfect time to join the fray and try to take back my land directly. But I lack enough public prestige to get my people to follow me into war.

    My life appears to have completely collapsed into ruin. My father and grandfather had their kingdom and duchy ripped from them and were forced to take me to live in an arid exile. My people hate me, largely for the very thing I did to save them. Even my own mother, wife, and son hate me. And a new alliance that had so much promise turns out to be jackal dung. However, given all this, surely there is a silver lining—this is the bottom. It can get no worse and I have survived.




    And then it gets worse.

    A banging on the door interrupts our council meeting in which we are yet again locked in a fierce debate about imposing a new goat tax. We are surprised by the panicked Bishop Afewar who bursts upon us, announcing that a townsman called Berhanua Kebede had raised a rebel army twice the size of our entire levee and is only two hours march to the castle even as we speak. In the stunned silence that follows, as cynical as I am, I begin to think there really is a God—a Monophysite God—and He hates me.
    Last edited by Philo32b; 07-05-2012 at 16:34.
    In the Shadow of Certain, Painful Doom: Abyssinia -- A Crusader Kings 2 AAR (Completed)

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  15. #95
    Yikes! Here's hoping you can pull off a miracle against the rebellion. The way things have gone, though, this ruler could only metastasize a miracle for his enemies benefit..If this is the end so soon, it's been a fun read Fun enough I came out of the lurker's hall to comment.

  16. #96
    When I tried a game as Jamtland this happened. They dragged a random courtier out and killed him, burned my town's wall, then got bored and left.

  17. #97
    Great AAR. It gave me a lot of good laughs.

    Unless you have saved up for some mercenaries, there seems only one thing left to do: crawl before your emperor and kiss his feets until he agrees to send some troops to your far-off province just to get rid of you again.

  18. #98
    Quote Originally Posted by Bornego View Post
    Great AAR. It gave me a lot of good laughs.

    Unless you have saved up for some mercenaries, there seems only one thing left to do: crawl before your emperor and kiss his feets until he agrees to send some troops to your far-off province just to get rid of you again.
    You can't hire mercenaries from Ethiopia.

  19. #99
    Quote Originally Posted by SaintEsteban View Post
    When I tried a game as Jamtland this happened. They dragged a random courtier out and killed him, burned my town's wall, then got bored and left.
    You got off lucky.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bornego View Post
    Great AAR. It gave me a lot of good laughs.

    Unless you have saved up for some mercenaries, there seems only one thing left to do: crawl before your emperor and kiss his feets until he agrees to send some troops to your far-off province just to get rid of you again.
    The Emperor, whom his vassals affectionately call, "The Drunkard," does like Tesfaye, but does not inspire confidence in his ability to protect him.

    Quote Originally Posted by SaintEsteban View Post
    You can't hire mercenaries from Ethiopia.
    Indeed. Please see my next post in this thread regarding extra help for the poor, unloved Monophysites.
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  20. #100

    Chapter 15

    Hi folks, I've posted a thread in the general forum about giving the poor Ethiopian Monophysites a little help. (I'm not including the Nubians in this, by the way--those Orthodox will have to fend for themselves.) I make the suggestion that there be a Monophysite Holy Order available. Not a HO like with knights in shining armor, though, as the post notes. I think something like this would help make Abyssinia or Axum more realistic choices for playing, at least on their own (without vassalizing to Byzantium or The Caliph).

    If you feel inclined, you can click here to reach the thread.

    Thanks!






    Tesfaye should look a little more worried here.

    A peasant uprising? This is bad. Very, very bad. It is even worse when I realize that the rebel leader, Berhanua Kebede, is a lowborn, hard-bitten commander with experience from defending Axum from the infidels. I had not known someone with his skills lived in the town. Apparently his experience in the sack of Axum turned him off from common defense. He is twice as good a warrior as any marshal I have had for some time. In any case, the common populace’s anger and frustration at Abyssinian reversals of fortune were raised to a heightened pitch by my becoming a heretic, a foreign Greek, and stacking the council with outsiders. Kebede is not the cause of the rebellion, but he is certainly exacerbating its severity.




    Who the hell put this guy in charge?

    With only a couple of hours for warning, my levees rush to the defense of the county, but two things are obviously wrong. The first is that my marshal is nowhere to be found. One does not expect a kingdom’s marshal to be on the front line in all the battles waged, but when you have one county and rebels are at your doorstep, the marshal needs to be the one leading the defense. Instead the 50-year old, lowborn Selassie is commanding the troops. Ugly and celebate, the most pious person in my court, he has nurtured an ambition to be marshal for some time, but this does not qualify him as an officer. But he must think this is his opportunity for he has overcome his shyness and is directed as best he can the defensive positions in front of Castle Sennar.

    The more serious problem, however, is as the bishop told us—the rebels are much more numerous than us. Twice our number, commandeered by a much better officer, and on an open plain perfect for a battle; things are not looking good.





    There is no time to change anything about our army’s composition or officers; we will have to make do with whatever Selassie has done. As the two forces move together, I can see that Selassie has formed two columns, a heavy middle and a light nonofficered right flank. Our only advantage in all of this is our heavy infantry. The rebels are composed of only skirmishing troops, but so many archers is worrying.





    Selassie has the central column form a shield wall. Leaderless, the right flank adopts no coherent tactic—each man doing whatever pops in his head—with predictable results. The rebel commander Kebede wisely, given his many archers and light cavalry, has his men simply skirmish, peppering my men with arrows and spears. With lack of confidence in their own commander and no direction on how to combat an enemy that does not engage, my infantry’s morale quickly begins to crack.





    The strategy of just sitting and waiting behind a shield wall is obviously doomed. Why does Selassie not do something different? You can see the line wavering all along the front, except for the parts that are actively running from battle.





    Sure enough, the central column cracks and makes a disorderly retreat. Perhaps it was a good idea to have a small flank, because Kebede immediately turns to deal with it, allowing the survivors of the central column to escape without being harried. With over 100 light cavalry, Kebede could have severely punished the rabble that is left of my men.






    My army has retreated to the nearby county, too small to stop the rebels. Our castle, church, and city are now at the mercy of rebels. It is only a matter of time before they successfully siege us. Our only hope is that “The Drunkard” sends a relief force to help. Just saying that out loud makes me realize how little hope we have.





    The rebels siege my castle. The Captain of the Guards, Girma Ambassal, tries in vain to slow them down. But eventually Sennar Castle falls, and I am taken captive. Soon after, the city and bishopric fall as well.





    Peasants have looted Sennar! 2.5 gold lost isn’t too bad, all things considered. I guess when you have nothing, there is not much to steal.




    I really need to wipe that condescending look off my face. I could die here!

    A number of rebels hold the councilors, the mayor and bishop, and me in the council chamber and begin to list their grievances against us in what is surely supposed to look like a trial. (Oddly, Kebede himself is not here. Perhaps he is trying to keep his hands clean?) Outside the council hall, the angry rebel peasants are chanting. As my legs begin to weaken and I feel as though I will faint, I think I can make out the chant as, “Die pigs.” This is a very dicey spot, and it will take some careful talking to persuade this mob not to murder us. Unfortunately—being honest with myself here—careful talking is exactly what I have no aptitude for whatsoever.
    Last edited by Philo32b; 02-05-2012 at 13:55.
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