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CIIV2.jpg

January 1st, 1080

The city of Alexandria lay shrouded beneath a veil of gloom. The sea rolled violently under the dark, moonless sky. Waves crashed against the high, rocky shores of Phobos island. And rising up out of the dark ground were the ruins of the great lighthouse, still towering over the sleeping port city.

For years, the lighthouse had stood forsaken by the rulers of Alexandria and Egypt, a barren, ruined remnant of a brighter past. The light which had guided countless vessels to safety over the centuries had been snuffed out. It was now just an empty, lonely shell of memories and crumbling stone.

But tonight, the Lighthouse had visitors.

Two Germans, seeking refuge from the harsh wind that came off the sea, sat huddled around a small, fading campfire at the base of the ruins.

Adalbert von Goseck shivered as the wind blew against his back and scowled into the fire as he rubbed his hands together over the flames. "I hear the Italians have taken Jerusalem," he grumbled through his thick, unshaven beard.

"Then it is a glorious time for all of Christendom," Herman the monk, dressed in plain brown robes, replied cheerily. "We should be rejoicing with our brothers in the city."

Adalbert snorted and nodded insincerely. "I did not sell the estate my family has lived and died on for generations and travel to the ends of the earth to conquer lands for a king who seems to care nothing for the Holy Land just over the horizon."

"The king was wise to free the realm of Egypt," Herman said with an insufferably pleased smile, unphased by Adalbert's cynicism. "Jerusalem is only the beginning of the liberation of the whole of the Holy Land."

Adalbert was about to open his mouth to offer a retort when a glimmer in the corner of his eye caught his attention. Craning his neck back, he looked up at the peak of the decrepit lighthouse, German following suit in curiosity.

A strange flickering light played against the stone structure above. The German Crusaders exchanged looks, and without another word, prepared to journey up into the ancient structure.

Their climb up the long, seemingly endless flights of stairs was uneventful, the climb made easy with no fear of slipping to a long fall from the dry, dusty steps. The wind whistled through the many cracks and holes in the edifice, echoing up and down the tower.

The pair reached the top, stepping cautiously out onto the roof of the structure. Years of neglect and erosion and wiped out all but a few remnants of the wall that had once been the great cuppala that had housed the lighthouse's beacon. There was nothing there, save for bits of rubble and a heavy layer of dust.

"Strange things are afoot," Herman intoned gravely as they inspected the surroundings cautiously. Adalbert nodded warily, hand clasped on his sheathed sword hilt as the two began stepping back toward the stairs.

Suddenly, the chamber exploded in a kaleidoscope of light and noise. An eerie blue glow bathed the surroundings as a rift materialized at the center of the roof, wreathed in steams of coiling electrical energy. Voices, whispering in incomprehensible tongues, howled out through the vortex, along with terrible noises worse than any tortured cries of plague victims or dying soldiers on the field of battle.

The Germans stood rooted where they stood, eyes bulging wide and faces contorted in horror as if the very gates of hell had opened before their before their eyes.

eit_sl_1712.jpg

Once more, the Lighthouse of Alexandria had a beacon.

The swirling portal vanished just as abruptly as it had arrived. Once more, the roof was shrouded in darkness. Where it had been only seconds before now stood a lone man, hidden by the night. Adalbert and Herman stared mesmerized stared mesmerized as the man surveyed his surroundings.

Finally, the man slowly turned around, facing them with slow deliberateness. Without realizing it, Herman hastily made a sign of the cross. The man laughed, his booming voice carrying far and resonating deep within both men, causing them to shiver involuntarily.

The man stepped toward them. The moon shone brightly through a break in the clouds, illuminating the man's face.

Herman was the first to speak. "W-w-who are y-you?" he stammered, barely able to force the words out of his mouth.

"My name," he answered, "Is Alexei Stukov."

Alexi.jpg
 

SeanB

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OMG!! Stukov in the Middle Ages! That is too awesome for words alone to describe. What plans could our favorite megalomaniac have for the late 11th century?!

And the Italians capturing Jerusalem by 1080? It seems someone has arrived ahead of Alexei and already messed with history a bit!
 
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SeanB: "OMG!! Stukov in the Middle Ages! That is too awesome for words alone to describe. What plans could our favorite megalomaniac have for the late 11th century?!"

The same plans he always has. :p

"And the Italians capturing Jerusalem by 1080? It seems someone has arrived ahead of Alexei and already messed with history a bit!"

That, along with the German Crusaders capturing Alexandria, can be blamed, I feel, on me. ;)

---------------------------------------------

S1.jpg

February 21st, 1081

Alexei Stukov sat with his back rooted against the hard wooden chair, left arm propped up and protruding somewhat awkwardly out as he held a goblet of wine in his upturned right hand. Alexei's private conference room, much like the rest of the rooms in the newly renamed Alexandria Castle, was sparsely furnished and decorated. Any treasures the former emir of Alexandria had owned had been either stripped away or destroyed by looters following the fall of the city over a year prior. Only a few damaged mosaics of the formerly Muslim occupants remained, and Alexei was of the inclination to slap a coat of whitewash over them.

Gathered before him at the table that dominated the center of the room were Alexei's three advisors. His marshal, Manuel Stypes, a general of impressive planning ability in both military and civil matters, was prematurely graying at age 27, with harsh features chiseled from years of hard living in the army that were only accentuated by his crisply tailored beard that seemed to jut out from his chin. Seated across from him was a blonde-haired woman known only as Maria, equally capable in works of deciet as her role as chancellor, whose slightly upward-curving nose protruded almost as much as Manuel's beard. And then there was Dragna, a veritable mastermind in the art of intrigue, whose short, jet-black hair perfectly matched her image as the "Shadow of Alexandria." Alexei's court was tiny, mostly due to the fact that it had come into existence only two months earlier. Still, it was an impressive assembly of talent

Alexei was only making a token effort to listen as Manuel elaborated on the growing revolts in Buhairya, instigated by local nobles unhappy with the prospect of being ruled by an Orthodox Greek. So long as the revolt did not spread out of control or, more importantly, to Alexandria, Alexei was content to let the nobles exhaust themselves. Crushing the upstarts and imposing the state religion was as unappealing to Alexei, since the state religion was Catholicism, not Orthodox.

Since his arrival in Alexandria over a year ago, Alexei had done his best adjusting to the rather stark change in lifestyle, and coping with the rather sudden reversal of his fortunes. Memories of being emperor of the entire planet, with the power of nuclear weapons and nearly unstoppable armies, and of his beloved wife Azuren and son Feodor, remained fresh in his mind.

Since then, he had put all his skill at diplomacy and deception to ingratiate himself with the German king, Heinrich von Franken. He had introduced himself to the monarch while he campaigned in the Sinai, passing himself off as a Greek noble who had been lost at sea. His command of language, writing, and the fact his hands had been unmarred by physical labor were enough to convince Heinrich, who he quickly charmed into making Alexei Count of Alexandria and Buhairya. It was a novel situation, a lost Russo-American time traveler pretending to be a lost Greek noble.

There was some truth to every lie he had told, from a certain point of view.

He had immediately begun preparations for several grandiose plans: a war against the Muslims of the Egyptian and Libyan coast, the conquest of Nubia, the establishment of a Crusader kingdom, and, of course, domination of the entire world. It had taken Alexei only a few days to realize that not only was he too ambitious, but his plan for world domination was completely impossible.

He had lost track of how many times he had to remind himself that this was not 1945. This was not a second chance at re-establishing himself as Emperor of Earth, this was merely God blessing him with survival.

And Alexei had vowed to survive.

At age 44, he was already quite old by medieval standards - or at least as far as his knowledge of history made him assume. When it had become clear he would not be able to orchestrate another conquest of the world, a new imperative arose: he needed a son. Only with children could Alexei hope to truly grow in power, to rise above merely a footnote in some historian's account of the First Crusade, an event peculiarly different than it had unfolded originally.

Perhaps someone is responsible for this turn of events, Alexei mused, pondering the possibility...

He quickly suppressed such idle speculation and took a drink from his wine.

The search for a suitable wife had begun in earnest. First, he had approached the Byzantine Emperor, Georgi Terter, someone Alexei had never seen mentioned in Ostrogorsky. Finding a woman under the age of thirty proved more difficult than he imagined as he approached one monarch's court after another. Finally, he had settled on the daughter of the Duke of Swabia, Adelaide von Rheinfelden, who he had heard bore her first husband five children in the six years before his premature death.

Her rumored espionage and administrative talents were only an added bonus, Alexei thought with a sly smile.

Having just finished his report, Manuel saw the Count's smile as a sign of approval. "I take it his lordship is please?"

"Very much so," Alexei replied, leaning forward to set the goblet down on the table. "Containing such a rebellion is no small feat." Alexei was being sincere, knowing full well what happened when insurrection grew out of hand...

"The local sheiks," Dragna interjected, her voice carrying an impressive force and directness, "Will not remain out of line forever, so long as the King continues to crush the infidels and push Al-Mustansir out into the hinterlands."

Alexei nodded. "Fatimid rule will not return to Egypt any time soon, and I suspect the people will soon learn to live with a Christian lord."

The conversation drifted from one topic to another for the next several minutes with littler urgency: updates on road construction, tax collection, rumors of Cyrenaican raiding parties, and on. Finally, Alexei put the meeting to an end: "That will be all for now. It is time I met my wife... to be."

His three advisors nodded their understanding and quickly vacated the room. Alone, Alexei slowly sipped at his wine, waiting in the silent hall. A minute later, a side door opened and in stepped a short, brown-haired woman. She moved with a meek uncertainty as Alexei watched her out of the corner of his eye, not saying anything as she approached. He could sympathize with her situation, being sent thousands of miles from her family and homeland to marry a man she had never met before.

"I hope your voyage was pleasant, m'lady," Alexei finally said, running a hand through his thick beard.

"More pleasant than yours, I suspect, my lord," Adelaide answered boldly, apparently overcoming her hesitation. Another man might have been furious. Alexei simply laughed.

A slight smile appeared on Adelaide's face. "My lord finds something amusing?"

"Please, call me Alexei," he interrupted.

"Alexei, then?"

He casually offered her his goblet, which she took with an appreciative gesture. "I certainly did not expect a woman with such... spirit, when you came through that door."

Adelaide's mouth crooked up in a smile. "Appearances can be quite deceiving from time to time."

Alexei stared at Adelaide as she drank the wine. "You remind me of someone I used to know," he added.

Adelaide eye him over the goblet. "Is that a compliment, or an insult?" she teased.

"I have a feeling we will get along just fine," Alexei answered with a grin.

S2.jpg
 

SeanB

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Brilliant update, as usual. :) Though I have to wonder why Alexei has a military rating of only 4? I mean, he did conquer the world twice...

So Alexei has found himself a new wife. But whatever happened to Azuren and Feodor? Oh, the questions. And from the sound of Alexei's speculation, it would seem there IS something behind the varied history prior to his arrival. ;)

Again, great update!
 

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The sound of axes hacking at a wall reverberates through the room. Soon, chunks of the wall are falling on the floor and a hole appears. Eventually, a dirty, unkempt man steps through wielding a massive axe.

FINALLY! I'm in on the ground floor of this chronologically challenged AAR! Now, let me get cleaned up and find a suitable seat. Oh, is there any popcorn available?

*Subscribed*
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Stukov thrust through time AGAIN! Barring some miraculous turn of events, however, this seems likely to be his last, since I doubt even he can build a time machine in the 11th century. But the Stukov line, I think, will still make their mark on the world.
 

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SeanB: I gave Alexei such a poor military rating because... well, he was never actually a general. He conquered the world, but only as leaders like Hitler and Stalin, not Napoleon or Caesar. He was always more the politician.

TheExecuter: *hands Executer his popcorn* Enjoy the show. :)

VILenin: Where's the Delorean when you need it? :p

That was always the big limitation of Stukov's time machines. They were always one-way trips.

A quick question for those with modding experience: currently, my game does not seem to be responding to character events. For example, marriage duties won’t be recognized, or even though I accept itinerate bishops, they don’t appear in my court. Is this a symptom of bad character modding (because he was simply edited into the save game without parents or background), and will it go away once the next heir succeeds?

-----------------------------------------

March 11th, 1083

Alexei shifted forward uncomfortably in his saddle, trying his best to hide the awkwardness he felt sitting perched atop his mount. Standing at his side, Manuel seemed too engrossed in the situation unfolding down at the bottom of the gently sloping ridge the two men and their retinue stood on to notice.

Even three years on, life in the Eleventh Century seemed as foreign as the day he had emerged from the time portal that had deposited him here. Life as a noble was bearable for the former emperor of the Twentieth Century, but it was still a far cry, even in this fairly civilized corner of the world, from the world he had known. The worst part was how being supreme military commander actually meant he had to fight with the army. Even basic tasks like wielding a sword and riding a horse did not come easily to him. He would have preferred to send someone else with Manuel, but there was simply no one. Maybe in a few years, when Adelaide's two sons by her first husband came of age, but that was still some time off.

Arrayed before Alexei and Manuel was the combined armies of Alexandria and Buhairya, barely twenty-five hundred men strong, their ranks still greatly diminished from service in von Franken's relentless war against the Arabs. Beyond the columns of Egyptian soldiers stood a tiny mass of a few hundred Libyan raiders.

Manuel turned to look at his liege. Under his scrutiny, Alexei idly made a gesture with his hand through the air, signaling the archers flanking them on either side to take aim. Dozens of arrows filled the sky moments later, sailing gently through the air and descending with a lethal shower on the hapless Libyans. A cry rose through the ranks of soldiers as they charged at their doomed enemies, great plumes of dust rising up as the cavalry swept along the sides of the army, cutting the enemy off from any hope of salvation.

Alexei managed to resist the urge to cough as he waved his hand in front of his face in a vain effort to disperse the clouds of dust. Manuel simply chuckled.

"Another fine victory, my lord. Perhaps now there can be peace again," Manuel said.

"Not likely," Alexei snorted as he started leading his mount down the ridge. "There will always be pitiful little bands of raiders that will think they can challenge me, so long as that damned Cyrenaican continues to preach resistance."

Manuel simply nodded as he followed Alexei. The King of the Cyrenaicans had foolishly decided to declare war on him almost a year earlier. Alexei had quickly mobilized his armies and marched westward, hardly meeting any resistance from the few bands of disorganized nomads that had mustered to their king's call to arms. He had quickly seized the eastern reaches of the Cyrenaican kingdom, giving him nearly undisputed control of the lands around Alexandria. He rightfully could claim to being the Prince of Alexandria.

S3.jpg

But principalities and war were the least of Alexei's concerns at the moment. As he rode his horse with no great sense of urgency back to the tiny fort-town Al Alamayn, his thoughts drifted back to Adelaide.

Marriage together had been difficult at first. Relationships seemed far more distant and strained that he was used to in his time, and he found he had very little in common with an 11th Century woman. Still, something continued to draw them back together.

And one night in April, it had finally happened. She became pregnant.

Alexei had done everything to make sure the pregnancy went as smoothly as possible, his fear of a miscarriage or stillbirth or the baby catching one of any number of diseases bordering on paranoia.

And then, on January 12th, Adelaide had given birth to a healthy baby boy, Ignatios. Once more, Alexei was a father. He had a son.

He had spent only a few days with his wife and newborn son before he was forced to rush off to his waiting army to put an end to the war.

"Something troubling you, my lord?" Manuel asked, Alexei's brooding silence clearly evident to the marshal.

Alexei looked up from his saddle and at Manuel. "Right now, I'd like nothing more than to be back at Alexandria with my wife and son, war or no war."

"Well," Manuel began, taking a deep breath. "Sometimes we just can't have what we want most in life."

"No," Alexei replied, turning to look ahead as they neared the fort. "No we can't."
 
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The culture shock must be extreme for Stukov, though he's apparently managed to integrate himself into society successfully. My biggest question, though, is how he managed to learn period languages before heading back thru time. Did ruling the Earth not keep him busy enough? :p

As for the event errors, I'm afraid I don't know much about CK moding/editing. Have you posted in the general CK forum? Definitely better to find out now if it's going to be a long-term problem or not.
 

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So am I to understand that Stukov is now the Prince of Alexandria? If so, then he is merely one step away from being King. Stukov should at LEAST die a King, he deserves that much. ;)

lol, I bet Stukov's loyalty to the Holy Roman Emperor is like 10 or something. So he should be able to break away before too long, once he has enough of a power base built up.

Maybe once he is free from Catholic rule, he'll be able to convert his Kingdom to Orthodoxy. Ah, the potential! :D And it is great to hear that there is a new heir to carry on his legacy!
 

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VILenin: I imagine a combination of Stukov's rather rapid learning pace and his grasp of Latin helped him a bit. That, or magic. Either answer works for me. ;)

SeanB: I feel a bit bad not having gotten this update off in time. It would have answered a lot of what you just said. Ah well, I still enjoy all the responses I get. :D

As for the modding problem, it's been solved. Seems I had Alexei listed as a "type = 12" rather than 10, meaning he was technically a dynasty in and of himself. :confused:

------------------------------------------

June 13th, 1087

Alexei Stukov paced back and forth along the ramparts of the castle, hands clasped behind his back as he walked bent over slightly. He had stormed out of the throne room after reading the newest letter delivered by one of Heinrich's royal messangers. The wall sentries had hastily vacated this section of the wall to make room for their lord, leaving him to brood alone.

It did not take long for Adelaide to find him. She emerged from the nearest tower and approached him. He spared her a wordless glance when she came into view, but continued pacing.

Finally, Alexei came to a halt at a gap in the parapet and stared out over Alexandria. The sun was just starting to set and the commotion of a busy day was just beginning to fade away in the orange-hued sunset. Soon, muezzins across the city would emerge from several of the many minarets dotting Alexandria and begin their call to prayer.

Shaking his head in a combination of disgust and frustration, he leaned against the ramparts, crossing his arms and looking at Adelaide from the corner of his eyes.

His wife was the first to break the silence between them. "You certainly have a way with people. The messenger nearly died of fright when you stormed off."

Alexei smiled harshly, adding a glimmer to his eye. "Good," he replied. "Maybe he'll run back to his idiot master and tell him my reaction."

"The King will not be pleased," she observed warningly.

"As if I care anymore," Alexei snorted. "Half of Germany and the Holy Land is stripped of garrisons. You would think that after ten years, that..." he paused, managing to reign in his anger and moderate his words. "Heinrich would tire of war."

"He's obsessed with finishing off the Cyrenaicans and conquering everything east of Tripolitania," Adelaide said, stepping closer to her husband until she too stood up against the castle wall.

Alexei nodded silently, not taking his eyes off Adelaide for a second. Heinrich had been in a state of near-constant war since the start of the crusade about a decade earlier. After the Fatimid kingdom had disintegrated into a pack of squabbling Muslim fiefdoms, Heinrich had turned his attention westward. The war had dragged on for two years, Alexei having unilaterally withdrawn his armies after Heinrich had stolen the right to take Tobruk by intervening at the last days of the siege.

Since then, Alexei had brooded in Alexadria, bestowing upon himself the title of Prince of Alexandria, making Manuel Count of Al Alamayn, snubbing any of Heinrich's requests to muster his army for service, and jumping at any opportunity to loosen the German monarch's grip on Egypt.

"The war cannot last forever," Alexei said at last. "Perhaps I should send some of Dragna's 'associates' to meet him on his way to the boat."

Adelaide smiled and gave a slight laugh. "He may be idiotic and oblivious enough to not notice your hostility, Alexei, but will that really solve anything."

"No," Alexei sighed. "All it will do is replace a fool with a brat.

He fell silent as he considered his predicament in silence. Breaking his vassalage and making war on Heinrich, while satisfying, would ultimately be suicidal. All the other nobles Heinrich and the Dukes of Swabia and Saxony had installed throughout Egypt would never side with Alexei, no matter how annoyed they were with the burden of supplying troops. But remaining under Heinrich was at this point simply intolerable.

S4.jpg

Adelaide turned from looking out over the wall and stared at her husband, studying him carefully, seemingly reading his mind.

"If war is not the answer," she said just as his frustration began to boil over once more. "Why not peace?"

Alexei flashed her an irritated look, frowning in confusion. "I refuse to remain subservient to that oaf of a king!" he blustered.

"I did not say remain under him," Adelaide replied soothingly, drawing herself up against his side, their eyes looked together. "Simply.... leave him in peace."

Alexei's frown deepened and he looked off, mouthing his wife's last words as his mind turned. Slowly, a smile emerged on his expression and his eyes lit up as he turned back to look at Adelaide.

"Then it is time Alexandria becomes independent!"

Adelaide smiled and leaned up, kissing Alexei on the cheek. "I'll let the court know."

Alexei returned the smile and squeezed Adelaide's hand gently as she pulled away and walked back toward the wall tower. After she was gone, he turned back to gaze out over the city, now almost completely submerged in shadows as the sun nearly disappeared in the horizon.

"Perhaps a son of mine will finally have a real future after all."
 

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Hey, you should add your new AAR to your list in your signature. :)

It's great to see Stukov willing to stand up to Heinrich and assert his rightful dominion of Egypt! Though, the nobility who remain loyal to Heinrich after Alexandria's independence will need to be...taken care of. ;)

Adelaide seems to have a good head on her shoulders. A shrewd politician, just like her husband. She is very similar to Azuren in that way, a good thing no doubt.

Here is hoping that Heinrich will be short for this world, and the Holy Roman Empire thrown into chaos, leaving the Middle East ripe for the picking. ;)
 

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*Subscribes*
 

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SeanB: Added :)

"It's great to see Stukov willing to stand up to Heinrich and assert his rightful dominion of Egypt! Though, the nobility who remain loyal to Heinrich after Alexandria's independence will need to be...taken care of."

Any tips would be appreciated. ;)

Fulcrumvale: :D

And the rest of you lurkers out there (yes, I know you're there), don't be afraid to make your presence known. I don't bite! The more responses means I update that much faster.

-----------------------------------------

April 14th, 1089

The doors to the throne room swung suddenly open as if it had been hit by a battering ram, crashing against the stone walls with a resounding clatter. The sentries startled, instinctively reaching for their sheathed swords, while a nearby servant girl nearly dropped the small stack of dishes she was carrying.

Stukov stormed into the throne room as the door gave way for him, hands balled so tightly together that his knuckles were pale white and tiny rivulets of blood appeared underneath his nails as he dug into the palms of his hands. He stalked toward the throne, the servant girl quickly scurrying out of his way, lest she fall victim to his wrath. The guards watched their lieges from the corners of their eyes, shrinking away as best they could.

Alexei whirled around and fell backwards into his throne. He reclined against the throne's wooden back, hands stacked on top of one another as he stared out into space from underneath his hardened expression of barely contained fury.

As he stewed silently in his own mind, the servant girl had crept off to the side, reaching out to open one of the side doors and slip away unnoticed. As she leaned forward, a plate slid off the top and clattered to the ground loudly.

Alexei's eyes immediately darted to the side and the girl froze like a cornered deer.

"Come here, girl," he commanded stiffly, his voice low. Growing pale, the servant set the dishes down onto the ground and nervously approached the Prince, head held low, not daring to look out of fear.

Slowly, Stukov rose back up to his feet and loomed over the girl. He appeared calm and collected as he looked down his nose at her.

"What is your name, girl?" he asked. Shaking in place, the girl opened her mouth to speak. Barely a single noise escaped her lips when she was cut off. "Shut up!" Alexei snapped harshly.

"From the looks of it," he mused observantly as he slowly paced around the girl, examining up and down her body. "You probably haven't had any children yet. Too young, yes, far too young. But you will, eventually. You all do eventually."

Coming to a halt in front of her, Alexei stared off to the side in momentary silence before looking across his shoulder at the girl. "You'll probably have lots of kids. How precious," he drawled, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Suddenly, he swung around to face her, fists clenched. "But how many of them will die in birth! How many will be weak! How many will die from disease!? Disease!" he howled. "All of you, filthy, disgusting, putrid scum, covered in it!"

The girl was too shocked to scream when Alexei grabbed her by the shoulders and hurled her into the throne. She crashed against the sturdy wooden frame with a thud and stared up at Alexei in a mixture of confusion and terror.

Alexei's sword appeared in his hand in a flash, and at last she screamed. Again and again, Alexei brought the sword down, teeth barred in unrestrained fury. After the sixth time, Alexei held his sword above his head. It wavered in his hand as he gasped for breath. The madness that glimmered in his eyes faded, and the sword fell to the ground, the sound echoing through the deathly silent hall.

The servant girl sat in a fetal position, face buried between her knees and her arms on top of her head. Tiny shards of wood lay scattered on her arms and hair. The high back of the throne lay in ruins, a huge gouge of broken wood running down where Alexei's sword had connected.

"Get....out...." Alexei hissed between breathes, his chest heaving. The servant bolted from the throne and fled in terror from the room, the stack of plates forgotten.

Slowly, Stukov shuffled back over to the throne, propping himself up as he leaned heavily on the arm rests on either side of the chair. Alexei shut his eyes tightly and fought back the tears welling up in his eyes, determined not to fall apart in front of the guards that continued to stand a wary vigil over the throne room.

"My son....." Stukov whispered between clenched teeth as a lone tear rolled down his cheek.

S5.jpg
 

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Stukov is not a nice man...but we knew that when he decided to wipe out the population of South America, didn't we?
 

TheExecuter

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Well....now that that is over...

Get back at it and have another go! Bow-chicka-wa-wa!

Of course I am saddened at your loss my liege...I'll never speak of it again, in fact...I'll go slaughter some Germans, would that make you feel better?

:cool:

TheExecuter
 

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Oh no! Stukov's newborn child has died! But at least he still has Ignatios, so his legacy has not ended quite yet. I'm sure his wife still has many good childbearing years ahead of her as well, so no fear.

But my, does Stukov ever need to watch his temper. As for suggestions, I would wait for the current King of Germany to kick the bucket, unless he is a young man. Often times this causes a bit of chaos within the HRE, and the nobility will fight amongst itself for the crown. Amidst this chaos, Germany wouldn't have the troops to spare to send all the way to Egypt and the Middle East.

Of course, there are always ways to speed up the good Emperor's death, wink wink. ;)
 

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Fulcrumvale: Yeah, that would be a pretty good indicator of a man's moral fiber, wouldn't you say?

TheExecuter: I think that would be best. ;)

SeanB: I'll be sure to take your suggestions into advisement. Thanks, I'm fairly new to Crusader Kings, so I'm very inexperienced.

-------------------------------

October 9th, 1092

Alexei watched silently as the turmoil spread out before him unfolded, standing tall in his saddle, unflinching as a sharp easterly wind stung his eyes with dust and sand.

Already, the land was strewn with the bodies of the fallen, hundreds and hundreds of bodies scattered across the desert scene, blood spilling out of ghastly sword cuts or from the impact of arrows, watering the parched ground underneath.

The battle had begun just barely an hour after dawn, and had raged almost unceasingly until well into the afternoon. Signs of fatigue and demoralization caused by the carnage were becoming evident. Each new surge of enemy infantry buckled the line of Alexandrians, newly Christianized in a mass-conversion, a sign of loyalty to their Prince, more and more. Eventually, Alexei feared, it would break, shattering his plans along with it.

Strangely, Alexei noted as he watched a fresh wave of Muslim levies charge his center, he did not feel any anger at the prospect of defeat. Back in the 20th Century, news of military setbacks had sent him into rages, usually resulting in horrendous war crimes. But warfare in the 11th Century was different, far more personal. He had ridden from battle to battle with these men, endured the same hardships, basked in the same triumphs. They had even stayed in the army longer than their traditional military service laws dictated.

These men were veteran soldiers, having served already in campaigns against the Fatimid fiefdoms of Sarqihya and Asyut, and had only further proven their ability in the dizzying campaign against the Emir of Mecca's strongholds in Nubia that had seen armies dashing back and forth across the inhospitable landscape to do battle against a seemingly unending stream of reinforcements sailing from across the Red Sea.

But those battles had been nothing compared to this one. Alexei doubted that Egypt had ever seen a battle this large since the conquest by the Arabs four centuries earlier. The combined might of the Principality of Alexandria was arrayed against that of the Emir of Mecca.

How symbolic, Alexei mused.

Manuel, now Count of Al Alamayn, appeared at Alexei's side out of a cloud of dust. He turned to face Manuel and nodded in recognition before turning his attention back to the battle.

"The center is beginning to give way," Manuel observed, gesturing out toward the army. "I can have my knights swing around the left flank and catch their reserves off-guard when they regroup for another attack."

Alexei did not seem to notice Manuel's suggestion as he watched the battle. Finally, he pressed his lips together tightly and exhaled loudly. "No," he said, shaking his head as he stared at the retreating Muslims. "I have an idea."

With that, Alexei spurred his horse forward, remaining erect as the horse lurched forward into a slow trot.

"Take the knights to the right flank and wait for my signal," Alexei yelled back to the count.

"What is the signal, my lord?" Manuel yelled over the din of battle.

Alexei rode with no great urgency to the front of the army, the soldiers opening a gap for him to pass through. For a brief moment, he regarded the assembled enemy force before turning his back on them and facing his own men.

"Men of Alexandria!" Alexei yelled, his voice carrying with such great force that it took him by surprise. "You have all served me with great strength and courage, far more than I had hoped for from you. You have all shown yourselves true soldiers, true men," he continued as he moved up and down the line, sparring a glance to the right flank as Manuel assembled the knights.

"Men of Alexandria," he repeated. "You know me as your lord who has brought you and your lands prosperity and wealth. You have shown your devotion by rejecting heathen lies and turning to the true faith. You know me as your general, who has led you to victory. We stand now on the brink between complete victory and utter defeat."

Alexei pointed off to the enemy army. "Those men over there seek to deprive you of your hard-earned glory, your hard-earned spoils of war, your honor even! All that remains is one last show of our strength and bravery and we can all return home, heads held high. Follow me, men of Alexandria! Drive these infidels back into the sea!"

With that, Alexei drew his sword and held it high as a war cry rose up from the army. Without another thought, he turned toward the enemy and spurred his mount into a gallop. As one, the army surged forward, following their leader. A moment later, Manuel and several hundred knights followed suit.

S6.jpg

As the distance between the two armies shrink quickly, Muslim archers and skirmishers began opening fire. Thick clouds of arrows and javelins filled the sky as they took aim at the exposed Prince. But not a single arrow or spear struck Alexei as he charged, all of them falling in droves around him.

Manuel and the cavalry hit the Muslim line first, crashing through the line of tired infantry like water through a bursting dam. Less than a minute later, Alexei reached the line, furiously cutting down anyone standing in his way. Each blow was one struck for his son, one more obstacle to his rise to power destroyed, another after another. Not far behind him came the rest of the army in a furious collision of bodies and swords.

Immediately, the Muslim formation disintegrated in a flurry of panicked levies and furious Christian enemies barring down upon them. As the Muslim right vanished in a sea of horses and armor, the soldiers could only watch in terror and hopelessness as their leader fled from the field. Within minutes, it was all over.

S7.jpg
 

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Can Regnum Aegyptus be far off? (Well, yes. He still has the HRE to fight.)
 

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Excellent battle scene! It would seem Alexei is finally adapting to life in the Middle Ages. He has become a sovereign who leads by example, and has gained the absolute loyalty of his men. This loyalty will be needed against the HRE.

Oh, and do you think you could give us a screenshot of the Principality of Alexandria?
 

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Interesting...he needs MacGyver, so he can make a time machine...again.
Also, you never answered HOW he got there in CI III...