• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

stnylan

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It has become personal
 
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Part 1:The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3:Be All My Sins Remember'd, The Battle of Hvar

HistoryDude

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Hvar, January 489 AD

It was a nice day, and the wind blew in the faces of the two armies. Philip smiled and thought of his coming revenge. He was sure that the Italians would be utterly destroyed after this conflict. He relished the coming bloodshed. In his anticipation, he did not realize that perhaps revenge was not all that it was cracked up to be and that it might not bring lasting satisfaction…

The Emperor called Demetrius, Commander Thomas of the Eastern Scholae Palatinae, Leo and Philip, and Count Konstantinos into his tent. He had a plan for this battle. He explained this plan to them. All of them would fight on the front lines. They would ensure that little to none of Odoacer’s troops survived. The war would end here. Odoacer’s troops could not retreat well, as the area they were fighting in was surrounded by hills and mountains…

For a short while, both armies waited. Then, Philip decided now was as good a time to fight as any, and he attacked. He raged in his attacks, as he despised these usurpers. He would take everything from them, and so he killed many. Soon, however, he saw all of the dead bodies his actions had wrought, and he saw how red the area was. He realized that many of these men could be convinced to switch their loyalties, and so he changed his tactics. He would aim to capture as many as he could and to kill as few as he could. He was much more merciful. After all, what use was a dead man?

Meanwhile, Leo moved his troops, attempting to go around the opposing army. He intended to flank them. Unfortunately, Odoacer’s army noticed, and they attacked. Leo led his men in a retreat, as many of them were killed. These men, however, died glorious deaths, taking out many times their number.

Elsewhere, Demetrius slaughtered men like they were cattle. Blood was dripping off of him, but he continued to kill. He was angry at these Germanic barbarians, as they could not save his brother, or they aided in his death themselves. He was in a horrifying rage, and that would not end until the battle was over.

As all of this was happening, Commander Thomas led his men in an attack on Odoacer’s center. Many of Odoacer’s men were captured or killed, and soon his center was having trouble holding. As such, he pressed the attack.

Emperor Longinus surveyed the battlefield. He was pleased with how well the battle was going. He decided to look for Odoacer, but he did not see him anywhere on the battlefield. He soon realized where Odoacer was.

“Typical,” Emperor Longinus thought. “He doesn’t even fight in the battle at all. Coward.”

As Odoacer’s center collapsed, and anarchy reigned in his army, the Emperor smiled. Victory was in his grasp. This battle, combined with Ad Ladios, must have destroyed the enemy’s will to fight. Sure enough, those men who were not captured or killed surrendered.

As the battle ended, Philip and Demetrius sat down next to each other, and they talked.

“Was it worth it?,” Demetrius asked.

“Was what worth it?,” Philip wondered.

“The revenge,” Demetrius replied. “Was the revenge worth it?”

“No,” Philip admitted. “I thought it would make me feel better about Italia’s fall, but I took it too far, and thousands perished.”

Demetrius looked out over the sea. He took a deep breath, and then he said, “I suppose it wouldn’t be. It never is.” He sighed, as he saw the blood that stained the island, and he knew that he was responsible for some of it…
 
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Aye, revenge can be a hollow thing
 
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HistoryDude

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This AAR will be going on a temporary two-day hiatus. Sorry! I'll give you guys an extra long chapter on Saturday to make up for it...
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, Schemes

HistoryDude

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Here's the next update! Enjoy!



Unknown, February 489 AD

Philip sighed. He was having second thoughts about this plan. Revenge rarely made one feel better. He knew however that it was already too late. What was done, was done. He would help restore the mighty Roman Empire, as it was at its height. Would it grant him satisfaction? Probably not. And once he had succeeded? What then? He had numerous allies that shared his goal, but what would happen when the goal had been achieved. His allies had different reasons why they wanted the Empire restored. They would stab each other in the back, and they would stab him in the back. This was a war in the shadows. You could trust no one in the long term. Sometimes, you couldn’t even trust yourself.

How were they going to manipulate the Throne, though? That answer was obvious. They would offer the throne more power and more territory. Power was hard to deny. It appealed to two of the deadliest sins. It appealed to pride and to greed. The Throne would not deny it. The fact that the Emperor might agree with their goal made their job even easier.

He looked out the window of his home. The moon was bright tonight. Then, he looked at the other celestial bodies. The moon’s light dwarfed everything else. Mars was not bright yet. “Good,” he thought. “War is not yet coming.” He thought about recent developments. Approximately half of Dalmatia had been reclaimed. That was not what interested him. He had heard that most of the northern Italian peninsula had revolted from the barbarian Odoacer’s rule. Their rulers followed the ways of the Neoplatonists, but pragmatism dictated that a temporary alliance might be in order. Of course, if they were wise, neither side would expect the other to follow it, but the enemy of my enemy is my ally… until they are no longer the enemy of my enemy, that is.

He smiled. He was angry, yes, he was very angry. He knew that was a sin. But, then, men and ancient gods alike sinned and still sin? They were fallen. “That will be useful,” he thought. “Yes, very useful indeed”. For all beings can be manipulated by their sin. He would manipulate many, and they would serve his goals, knowingly or unknowingly…

In the blackness of the night, a woman sighed. “It is easy to manipulate others,” she murmured. “But those that manipulate others, the manipulators, rarely check to see if they are being manipulated… that is their weakness, their innate pride that others will not do, will not dare do what they have done to others.”

The Imperial Palace, Constantinople, March 489 AD

Emperor Longinus sighed. He knew that many people, or groups of people, were trying to manipulate him and his throne. If that was the case, he was going to manipulate them right back. The shadows hide countless plots and countless plans. Often, when dealing with those that are of them, you can trust no one, not even yourself. After all, what was one to do in a place where even the truth lies? The shadows contain things and ideas that mere mortals were not meant to know. For who knows what those who lurk in the shadows have seen?

He plotted. His predecessor was his stupid brother, who could not recognize manipulation. He knew what he wanted, of course. He wanted Rome’s glory regained, an Empire to last the millennia. His dynasty would rule this Empire, and finally, finally, there would be peace. Pax, yes, beautiful peace.

“What would be the cost,” he wondered. A much more pressing question would not leave his mind, though… What worth was peace bought by the blood of millions? He would manipulate those who believed they could manipulate him, and, in the end, they would serve him and his goals. But would such a Pyrrhic Victory be worth it? “Yes,” he decided. “It would have to.”

He knew that the time before his line’s ultimate triumph would be a time of great despair, but the citizens would be grateful in the long term. At the moment, all the Eastern Roman Emperor could do was wait, wait for his plan’s fruition. It would come long after his demise, but that was no matter. His people, meanwhile, would simply have to hope. Unfortunately, he worried about their ability to. After all, how could one hope, when some believed even their gods above forgot to weep?

Regardless, he would have to figure out who was trying to manipulate him and the Throne. He knew that Philip was probably part of an organization that wanted Rome’s full imperial glory restored, but he shared that goal, so it would do nothing about that… yet. His messenger, Alexander, though? The Emperor suspected that he was part of a conspiracy, but what did they want? He would need to figure that out. Demetrius, of course, was an incredibly competent commander, even if he did let his rage overcome him sometimes, but he was not a schemer. Emperor Longinus suspected that he wasn’t going to start plotting, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be tricked or blackmailed into it. He would need to keep an eye on all of his nobles and military commanders. He would keep those who he could use close, and then he would subtly discard them. If someone was not useful to Imperial Restoration and the renewal of the Pax Romana, then they were worthless.
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3:Be All My Sins Remember'd, Preparing for the future

HistoryDude

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Thanks to @DiagorasCinna for nominating me for Character WritAAR of the Week. In celebration, here's today's update!



Somewhere in Epirus, May 489 AD

Demetrius mulled over recent events. He needed to keep control in the future. “There have been many conflicts in recent years,” he said to himself. “Somebody is working behind the scenes… likely.” Somebody, or multiple somebodies… And if there were, he wondered who knew. Secrets piled up upon secrets, probably. He was not going there. Let others plot and scheme, but he would enforce the Throne’s will. Loyalty was rewarded by the Emperors of Rome almost always. Sometimes, so was competence.

He was reminded of an old, almost forgotten, saying: what has been written, has been written. He sighed and murmured grimly, “Unfortunately, that does not mean it cannot be erased…”

The Imperial Palace, Constantinople, May 490 AD

Emperor Longinus invited his adopted son, Prince Justinian, into his room. He would pass on his wisdom to his son, for there must be someone to carry on his plans upon his death. He expected that they would take a very long time to be completed, but monarchs should always be patient. He would begin by teaching his son military tactics, but then he would tell him about what his plans were and how they were to be enforced…

“Why have you called me here, father?,” Justinian politely asked.

“I must tell you some things,” Emperor Longinus began. “To train you for ruling the Empire.”

“First, what is the best tactic in a battle?,” the Emperor asked.

“I don’t know,” Justinian replied. “What should one do in a battle?”

“The best tactic, more often than not, is to flank them,” Justinian’s father began. “This means that you attempt to get a portion of your army around your opponent’s army, so that you can attack them from two sides at once. This can be taken further, where one attacks the same army from three or more sides at once, but this is extraordinarily hard to do.”

“Why is it hard?,” Justinian wondered. “Is it because it is hard to get your troops in that position?”

“That is exactly one of the reasons,” the Emperor began. “Another is that splitting up any army too much leaves each individual army more vulnerable.”

“Ah,” Prince Justinian realized. “The ancient principle of Divida et Impera… that division means your enemies can conquer you…”

“Exactly,” Emperor Longinus responded. “We’re down on military strategy, on how to deal with many outside enemies. That is good, but there is more to ruling this Empire than outside enemies…”

“How does a ruler deal with enemies from within, then?,” the Heir to the Throne of the Eastern Roman Empire wondered.

“For some enemies within the Empire, you can simply wait for them to revolt or make a move and deal with them as you would deal with outside enemies,” Emperor Longinus began. “For others, you can attempt to arrest or blackmail them. Unfortunately, a ruler must not only deal with their enemies.”

“Who else would an Emperor have to deal with?,” Justinian asked.

“They must also deal with their allies and those who would manipulate them,” his father said. “What do you know of what lurks in the shadows?”

“Many things can hide in the shadows,” Justinian began. “However, they mainly conceal the deeds of schemers and plotters…”

“Precisely,” his father praised. “There are many people or organizations who would like to manipulate the Throne.”

“What do we do about them?,” Justinian asked, although he already had an idea of the answer.

His father smirked. “If they wish to manipulate us,” he began. “Then we will manipulate them right back.”

“And what happens once they have outlived their usefulness to our plans?,” the Heir to the Imperial Throne asked.

“Then, we find a way to get rid of them,” the current holder of the Imperial Throne responded.

Justinian figured that his father probably meant that they should kill them. However, he had his own ideas, as he was kinder than his father was. Perhaps he would lose that kindness after he had reigned for some time as Emperor of Eastern Rome, but he still had it for now. He figured that those who were no longer useful to the plan could be given good retirements, and if they already knew about the Imperial Court’s schemes and plots, then, perhaps, they could be paid to keep quiet. Greed was a deadly and extremely common sin, after all.
 
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The true manipulator, of course, gently nudges their manipulations so their efforts co-incide with yours. I think Justinian possibly might be a little more finessed than his father.
 
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Nikolai

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The true manipulator, of course, gently nudges their manipulations so their efforts co-incide with yours. I think Justinian possibly might be a little more finessed than his father.
Neither mentioned the ones who manipulate without you realizing. :p
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, Schemes

HistoryDude

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Sinope, January 490 AD

Vicar Niketas of Pontus sat in his throne room in Epirus. He was planning many things. The Roman Empire was holding the people of Anatolia back. The Romans should be evicted from Anatolia, and he should rule. He had already conquered almost all of Anatolia. He wondered how he should go about achieving his independence…

He figured that he wasn’t the only governor of an Imperial province that wanted independence or, perhaps, the throne in the Queen of Cities. He knew that he could easily find other nobles who opposed the Emperor. The Despot of Achaea likely wanted large portions of Greece, if not all of that area. Many Egyptians were probably still annoyed after their revolt from a few years ago was put down. The Monophysites were unlikely to want to be ruled by a heretic. The Emperor had made numerous external enemies, but these enemies he shared with the Vicar or somebody the Vicar wanted to aid him in his quest for independence. There was, of course, the question of what the Vicar of Pontus, hopefully soon to be Despot of Anatolia, would do once he succeeded.

On the one hand, even if his revolt succeeded, he would still have to deal with a weakened, but still very much existing, Roman Empire. In addition, the only thing uniting his planned coalition of landowners and governors in the Empire was a common enemy, and any alliance held together by a common enemy was a fragile one. He needed to ensure that his former allies weren’t a threat to his new government… Slowly, he began to make a plan…

He would establish a coalition to destroy Imperial authority, and he would let what few loyal landowners do what they wished. They would tear the Empire’s remnants apart, and he would no longer have to fear them. He would make permanent alliances with those that were willing, and he would attempt to not alienate any potential enemies.

First, however, he was going to send a letter to Despot Stephanos of Achaea, to begin his coalition, and the Roman Empire’s downfall...

The Imperial Palace, Constantinople, March 490 AD

Emperor Longinus and Prince Justinian sat in a room, as they read petitions from numerous Imperial landowners. Many wanted aid, commonly monetary and the common reason was an outbreak of deadly plagues.

Justinian then realized something, and he asked his father, “what does one do when there is an alliance arranged against them?”

The Emperor of the Romans replied, “Depends on how tenuous the alliance is. Why?”

Justinian’s response was, “I believe that one of our more powerful vassals is attempting to make an alliance against us. So, what should we do?”

Emperor Longinus answered, “The vassals are unruly, and that will be true no matter who they serve. Even if this vassal manages to make an alliance against the Throne, it will be a very tenuous alliance. All we have to do is wait, and, perhaps, act a little defeated, a little desperate for peace, and this new alliance will rip each other apart, allowing us to swoop in and reclaim the pieces…”

“But if we act defeated, our foreign enemies might notice, and they might attack, like the vultures they are,” Prince Justinian said. “If this happens, do we focus on our borders?”

“Yes,” Emperor Longinus responded. “If our domestic enemies are tearing each other apart, we can afford to focus on our foreign ones, perhaps even give a little ground to our domestic enemies, which will only further encourage them to tear each other apart.”

“We shall divide our enemies,” Justinian said. “And we shall conquer them.”

“Indeed,” Emperor Longinus agreed. “And we shall rule, even if we have to rule over an empire of ashes…”
 
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And we shall rule, even if we have to rule over an empire of ashes…

This line isn't at all ominous.
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, The Plot Thickens

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And we shall rule, even if we have to rule over an empire of ashes…

This line isn't at all ominous.

Of course it isn't. It's not like a massive revolt is probably about to happen or anything...


Somewhere in Epirus, April 490 AD

Demetrius mused on what his servants had told him. Apparently, there were rumors about a possible uprising against the current Imperial dynasty. Hmm, perhaps if he remained loyal, and the current governor of Epirus didn’t, he could gain control over Epirus. Enforcing Imperial control over Epirus could be very interesting. If Governor Fridarik of Epirus wanted to be disloyal, the vast majority of Epirus’s armies would not follow him, because Demetrius controlled most of those, and they would listen to him…

“This uprising could be good for me,” he mused. “It could be very good, indeed.” For now, he would wait for a move to be made, but when was, well, then he would react. For the Empire…

Sinope, May 490 AD

Vicar Niketas of Pontus was considering who the collapse of Eastern Roman power could appeal to. The Eastern Roman Empire had many foreign enemies, and he could, and probably would, appeal to them if his uprising didn’t find support within the Empire, as they would make a very good distraction. This was only a last resort, however, as the Sassanid Empire did want Anatolia, and he shared many enemies with his current liege.

Hmm, the Emperor did have numerous internal enemies, so he could easily appeal to them first. He had already sent a letter to Despot Stephanos of Achaea, after all. Then, he realized something. If Despot Stephanos controls all of Greece, he might want Ionia, which I also want. What should he do about that? Oh. That was a good idea. That was a very good idea…

He could recruit Governor Fridarik of Epirus to his coalition, as well. Having two independent states in Greece would allow them to distract each other, preventing any unified Greek state from wanting Ionia. In addition, it would prevent Stephanos from simply seizing control of all of Greece during the uprising, as he planned to do with Anatolia…

Right, so he had to send letters to the Governor of Epirus, some Monophysites, and numerous actual provincial governors, as well as people who could want the throne in the Queen of Cities.

Corinth, Achaea, May 490 AD

Despot Stephanos of Achaea had, of course, received the Vicar of Pontus’s letter. A temporary coalition against the Imperial Throne sounded like a good idea, but the coalition would fall apart after its victory, as any alliance united by a common enemy is bound to do.

He would accept this proposal, though. He wanted Ionia, though, and he figured that Vicar Niketas did as well. The Vicar was organizing the alliance, so he would probably attempt to keep Greece at least somewhat divided. How would he deal with that? The answer hit him like a bolt of lightning.

If the Vicar of Pontus wanted to keep Greece divided, then he would keep Anatolia divided. Vicar Niketas had many Anatolian lands, but he, by no means, had all of Anatolia. In addition, some of the other Anatolian landowners disliked the Imperial Throne. All he had to do was invite them to the slowly forming coalition. Many would be glad to join, and they would then be protected from the Vicar of Pontus seizing their lands during the coming revolt against the Empire...
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, The Plots Within The Revolt

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Egypt, June 490 AD

Ramsesses was still leading the conspiracy for Egyptian independence. He had recently received news from some of his operatives in the court of the County of Thebes that the Countess had received a letter offering her control of Egypt and independence if she joined a coalition against the Eastern Roman Emperor.

His long term goal was an independent Egypt, and he was pretty sure that he could easily manipulate the Countess of Thebes. That was not his problem with this idea. His problem was that this coalition was united against a common enemy, and the Vicar of Pontus hadn’t said how he planned to keep the coalition united after that enemy had been defeated. If the Eastern Roman Empire had been completely defeated, that wouldn’t be a problem, but many troops, and even many landowners, were impulsive. Their impulsiveness could cost them a victory.

Ramsesses led a conspiracy that had existed for centuries. It could afford to be patient. He would need to consider whether or not it was a good move to back the Countess of Thebes in her revolt. He knew she would join the revolt, for humans were naturally greedy, and a victory would ensure she was remembered. So few people actually considered the consequences of longing for glory. So many were blinded by greed. He was not, so he could afford to wait.

Sinope, June 490 AD
The Vicar of Pontus had received much support for his planned rebellion. His plan was going forward beautifully. He had lost the opportunity to claim all of Anatolia during the actual revolt, but that was no matter. He could easily conquer those lands after. It was only a temporary setback. He knew that Despot Stephanos of Achaea was likely responsible for that, but his plan wouldn’t work. No realm in Anatolia matched the armies he could raise, and he could easily unite the area. Achaea was only slightly stronger than Epirus was, so that would be a long fight. It would also hopefully exhaust Achaea enough that its Despot wouldn’t attack him over Ionia.

He knew of the Emperor’s foreign enemies. He could get their support, but many were his enemies as well. Of course, there was always the possibility that the revolt would fail. He was, and currently is being, very meticulous in his planning. He was highly unlikely that his revolt would fail.

Corinth, Achaea, June 490 AD

The Vicar of Pontus could always attack the small Anatolian states, while he would actually have to struggle with Epirus. He needed another plan. The Vicar had no big local obstacles to his plan. Oh. Oh.

There were no big local obstacles. There could be other obstacles, though, for the Vicar wasn’t the only one who wanted to control all of Anatolia… The Sassanids wanted to control Anatolia as well, and they heavily disliked the Eastern Roman Empire. All he had to do was send a letter inviting them to the anti-Eastern Roman coalition. They could provide funds during the revolt proper, and then they could invade Anatolia regardless of who won.

That would provide Pontus with a large drain of manpower. It would also weaken them, which bought Despot Stephanos time to finish off Epirus and recover. It could also create a coalition of the smaller Anatolian states, whose combined might could be enough to hold off Pontus…

In addition, if the coalition somehow lost the war, the Eastern Roman Empire would face a major invasion immediately after. In effect, Despot Stephanos of Achaea had created a Dead Man’s Switch for the coalition, on the Imperial Throne...
 
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So many players, so many unknowns.
 
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Who cares if the coalition collapses once victory is achieved, only that victory is achieved :)
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, Failsafes

HistoryDude

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So many players, so many unknowns.

Who cares if the coalition collapses once victory is achieved, only that victory is achieved :)

There are plots upon plots here. Yes, victory is what matters...

Abandon all hope, lovers of simplicity... Abandon all hope.

Egypt, July 490 AD

It was dawn. Ramsesses had made a decision. He would not support the Countess of Thebes outright, but he would, instead, have some operatives support her. This would further weaken the Empire, allowing Egypt to gain independence when the Eastern Roman Emperors got incompetent.

He was patient. The conspiracy had been operating in favor of Egyptian independence for centuries. They could afford to wait a few years longer. Generations were irrelevant to their plan. He cared about the long run, not the petty ambitions of lesser men…

Sinope, July 490 AD

He worried about what the Despot of Achaea had planned. Despot Stephanos wasn’t stupid, and Vicar Niketas knew that much. Inviting Anatolian states to the Coalition Against the Imperial Throne was highly unlikely to be his only countermeasure to the Vicar of Pontus. What else would he do, though? How far was he willing to go?

These were very pressing questions, but Vicar Niketas had a war to focus on winning before he figured out their answers. There were many men who wanted to Eastern Roman throne, and he could offer them membership in the coalition. This would be a good plan, as it would keep the remnants of the Eastern Roman Empire from forming a united front to reclaim the lost territories.
Of course, there was always the possibility that the various claimants to the Eastern Roman Throne would unite in a temporary coalition to reclaim the Empire’s lost territories. This was unlikely, though, because the claimants wouldn’t be that smart. Well, they would likely be too caught up in their petty feuds to be able to put aside their differences...

He realized that creating a coalition had downsides. He had considered the risks. He knew the problems that could emerge. If the coalition was defeated, then the Eastern Roman Emperor would have successfully crushed almost all of the opposition to his rule. He would be unchallenged by any disloyal vassals the coalition hadn’t recruited, because they would be too afraid of the consequences. If the coalition lost, its members would have an example made of them. In addition, the more members it had, the more fragile it was. He was perfectly aware that any alliance united by hate was… tenuous alliance. The coalition would be a very tenuous alliance indeed.

He believed that he could bring victory to the coalition, though. Therefore, he wasn’t very concerned about being made an example of. He needed to create failsafes in case his plan failed, of course. Any plan without a backup plan was useless and much too optimistic.

The Vicar of Pontus knew that attempting to judge the actions of others would not succeed. Humans were inherently unpredictable. As such, he needed a plan for every option, every possibility. He needed to predict every possible reaction from every possible faction. He needed to account for everything in at least one plan. He needed a million plans for this revolt, and, therefore, he had a million plans. Events would move, and he would discard no longer viable plans as they did. There was no kill like overkill, after all. He needed to account for absolutely everything.
 
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Ramessess is patient. Perhaps so patient even he won't see the fruition of his plans.
 
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The Imperial Palace, Constantinople, July 490 AD

Emperor Longinus and Prince Justinian were meeting in a room in the palace. Count Konstantinos of Tortosa joined them. They began to discuss recent events. It seemed as if opposition to the Imperial Throne was rising. Something was up with the imperial vassals.

“What could your other vassals be planning?,” Count Konstantinos asked the royal pair.

“They could be plotting many things, but almost all of them involve treason,” the Emperor of Eastern Rome replied.

“Yes,” Prince Justinian agreed. “The landowners in our Empire are like vultures. They will never tolerate a weak Emperor unless said Emperor was easy to manipulate.”

“Indeed,” Emperor Longinus commented. “Our vassals are very vulturous. Should we show weakness, they will pounce as if we are a dead carcass. The stronger we are, the less they will plot. We must be strong, and many of our vassals will remain loyal. It is much, much harder to betray, or even just plot against, a strong Emperor well versed in intrigue than to betray or plot against one who knows little of what lurks in the shadows.”

“You believe that they might be plotting betrayal?,” Count Konstantinos of Tortosa asked.

“We know that they are planning on crossing the Imperial Throne, but is it betrayal if they were never loyal to us in the first place?,” Prince Justinian countered.

“Good point,” Count Konstantinos responded. “So what will you do about it?”

“Nothing,” Prince Justinian said. “If, or when, the disloyal vassals make their move and begin their revolt, we shall treat them as we would treat any other enemy. We shall defeat them, and that should cow our other vassals into submission. We shall then have free reign to do whatever we want against our foreign enemies.”

“Indeed,” the Emperor of Eastern Rome agreed. “Once we prove our strength, there is no one who will stand in our way. Our vassals answer to those well versed in strength and intrigue. Always.”

“And what will you do the revolting parties?,” Count Konstantinos wondered.

“We will imprison them,” Prince Justinian responded. “This will show that we are merciful, but we are also just… it will show our vassals that the act of crossing us will bring them unpleasant consequences.”

“We do have numerous temporary allies within the Empire,” Emperor Longinus began. “But these allies work with us because we share similar goals, or they believe that they can benefit from allying with us. They are not loyal for loyalty’s sake. In this Empire, nobody is ever loyal for loyalty’s sake. They must have incentives.”

“Indeed,” Prince Justinian agreed. “There are two types of incentives: the carrot and the stick. The carrot is where their loyalty will benefit them or their goals. The stick is where their disloyalty will be detrimental to their goals or to them personally.”

“Yes,” Prince Justinian thought. “There is, indeed, a difference between the carrot and the stick. When people have outlived their immediate usefulness, they should not be killed, despite my father’s opinions, but instead paid off. This will encourage loyalty, but it also has another benefit. If it turns out that their skills are needed again, they can simply be paid to do whatever you need done, and you have a convenient list of people with particular skill sets that you can call on at any time. If you had killed them, you would need to find new people with their particular skill sets, and that would be a waste of both time and lives.”
 
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Justinian is much more of a people person
 
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