CARRY ON MY WAYWARD SONS - A SECOND SONS AAR
Well, let's start things off quickly. Bohemond d'Hauteville, Prince of Antioch, starting after his release from prison (which CKII doesn't model) in 1104. What the title means is that, somewhat in keeping with what happened to Bohemond, I'm going to always play as the second son when my rulers die (or his wife, if she's landed and he isn't, or the lord he's relying on to press a claim). It's going to be easy at the start thanks to Antioch's Gavelkind, but things should get much more interesting. There'll be plenty of the console to try and ensure the game world is interesting, and to keep the story running with less 'Alexios DOWed me out of nowhere and I called the HRE and France to war and it was WW0.5'. I'm running CK2+ for its awesome holy wars system with the SMWH map because I prefer SMWH's Germany setup and extra provinces (and hopefully I won't have to deal with the Kingdom of Englalalalaland in this AAR). The story itself... well, you'll have to see. Let's just say, it'll have a couple non-traditional elements.
"Mark, my son... You must not be disappointed. I have always believed that a man must make his own way in the world, that he must take what he can. If you rely on your birth, what kind of man are you? I came from so little, and I achieved so much... You must do the same. Carve out your place, hack honour from a hard world. I would not put this burden on you if I thought you unequal to it. I give you a far greater inheritance than your brother's - your hero's heart." - Robert 'Guiscard'
PRINCE BOHEMOND I OF ANTIOCH, PART I: HOLIDAY IN CILICIA
The lands of Antioch
Prince Bohemond was still unaccustomed to the sun. His skin had tanned again on the long ride back to Antioch, but the world seemed vast to him now. He was much more than a half-forgotten rebel now, but after so long in prison a Crusader's fame meant little to him. What Bohemond cared about was the same obsession as his father's. Possibilities, adventures, opportunities - the lure of the new. He strolled from the cool shadows of his chamber onto the balcony, and looked out over the city. Antioch, nestled in the mountains, the city he had spent his blood and sweat to take - his city. And a base for greater things besides.
Later that day, the fourth since Bohemond had returned from captivity, he took council with his men. His former regent, Tancred , slouched absent-mindedly at the Prince's right hand. Marshal Roger of Taranto, a short, thickset man, leaned forward onto the council table, holding a letter he could not read. The Prince's spymaster, a swarthy Armenian named Reuben, rested his chin on his only hand. Finally, Bishop Adhemar of Taranto sat at the Prince's left, responsible as he was for reading the Chancellor's letter. Bohemond motioned for the council to begin, and Marshal Roger handed the letter to Adhemar, who read it to the sound of coughs and shifting chairs.
The gist of the letter was that Chancellor Geraud had met with Bohemond's friend in Constantinople, Nikephoros Bryennios, who governed the southern coast of Anatolia and was married to the Emperor's daughter. His lands bordered the breakaway principality of Armenian Cilicia, whose friendly relations with the Crusaders had allowed them to resist Byzantine power. Bryennios could not spare the resources to act against the rebels himself without the support of his father-in-law, but he promised to hold off Imperial intervention if Bohemond would attack Cilicia.
When the reading finished, all eyes turned to the Prince. He stretched out his arms, cracked his knuckles, and let a long, toothy grin spread across his face. "Opportunity knocks."
The Armenians in Cilicia had helped the Crusaders greatly during the long trek across Anatolia, and Bohemond had not forgotten this. However, he also remembered the constant insults Tancred had suffered in Cilicia at the hands of Count Baldwin of Edessa. By attacking Cilicia, Bohemond hoped to kill two birds with one stone - to expand his power in Cilicia and to present an intolerable insult to Count Baldwin by granting Tancred a marquesate in the region. If Baldwin resorted to an open contest of Cilicia, Bohemond expected that he could make a reasonable argument to the King of Jerusalem that Antioch and Edessa would be stronger united. Reasonable enough to keep the King busy with the Fatimids, anyway.
The Armenians assist Count Baldwin on the First Crusade
Prince Bohemond sent Tancred, already promised the title Marquess of Seleukeia, north with the men of Teluch into Lykandos, hoping to catch Count Blavye, the lord of Lykandos, before news from Tarsos reached him. Indeed, when Tancred entered Lykandos, Blavye surrendered and pledged his loyalty to the Marquess and the Catholic Church. Bohemond took the rest of the army into Tarsos, and routed the army of the "Lord of the Mountains", Thoros Rubenid. He then invested the city of Tarsos, where Thoros had fled. Once Tancred arrived, Bohemond sent him with his men to a weak gate in the city wall, where they broke through in the night and opened the gate. Charging headlong into the city, Bohemond found himself between Thoros on the wall and the citadel. After dispatching Marshal Roger to keep the citadel penned up, he made his way towards Thoros' standard on the wall. Thoros, who had taken his retainers and left the wall, ran into Bohemond's men.
Bohemond felt none of his tiredness then. He felt young again, remembering so many battles before, so often risking it all on his sword arm. He shouted a challenge in Greek, and Thoros turned to face the Prince. In the moment before the two sides met in the open street, Bohemond looked at the man, bent low over his horse, who kept Cilicia from him. It was not so much of an advantage to Bohemond that most of Thoros's men were on foot - there was no room to maneouvre in the street, though the Normans could still make much of their reach from horseback. Bohemond caught one of the Armenians in the belly with his spear, and let it be taken from his hand, drawing his heavy falchion and trampling another who had turned away. He saw a young knight of his, Jordan by name, ride out too far ahead of the rest of the horsemen and be cut down, then Thoros was upon him. Both men were middle-aged, and neither fit, one weakened by a Danishmend prison and one by fine foods, but Bohemond had natural strength enough to match the advantage in youth Thoros had on him. The two clashed swords side by side, Bohemond using his great height to keep Thoros' long, curved blade from him. Thoros swung again and was batted aside, but threw himself back in the saddle to avoid Bohemond's riposte. Leaning forward after the blow, the Prince grabbed the Lord of the Mountains' reins and brought his sword back up, smacking Thoros in the face with the blunt side of his falchion. The Armenian reeled, but Bohemond's arm was tiring and it was only with difficulty he maneovered his blade around to get the edge towards Thoros. As Thoros noticed Bohemond slowing, his teeth showed in a grin under a thick beard, and he opened his mouth to jeer at the Norman before Tancred's spear gored through his left shoulder. Bohemond looked over Thoros's shoulder at Tancred, whose men were still spilling out from an alley, and winked. The Prince dispatched Thoros with a slash across the chest as the Lord of the Mountains struggled to stay in the saddle. As he rode past his nephew, Bohemond touched his knuckles to those of the new Marquess in the ancient Norman 'Gauntlet-Bump'.
Artist's impression of the Antiochean "Kindred-Fist"
Meanwhile, in Constantinople, Chancellor Geraud hastened down an alleyway behind the Bryennios mansion. Though Nikephoros's friendship with the Normans brought him a powerful local ally, it made him no friends in Constantinople, and Kaisar Bryennios had no desire to draw attention to his deal with Bohemond. Geraud had been told to wait for a eunuch in a red robe, and when a red-robed man poked his head through a back door, Geraud followed him in. The room was tiled, cool and shady, with a mosaic of Christ on one wall. The red-robed man stopped, and Geraud asked him to tell Nikephoros of Bohemond's attack on Cilicia, and that he hoped Nikephoros would permit the principality of Antioch to expand up to his frontier. The man's response stopped Geraud in his tracks: in a deep, masculine voice, the man replied "Everything is permitted, but nothing is true".