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alscon

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Welcome to the other part of my newest AAR, with a slightly different title ;). I have had the idea of a different concept - a dual AAR, simultaneously in Stellaris and CK II! Sounded strange, but also with potential to be a fun ride. So here it is – the Thousand Lights of Enlightenment.

Wait... simultaneously? How does that work? What would it be? A feudal society that somehow is able to run a galactic empire while squabbling over who rules most of the known world – able to have FTL travel, but not knowing their own homeworld in its entirety? Well, while that scenario would be fascinating, that's not the idea I have in mind.

This part is completely separated from the spatial one, and all is going its usual way in the known world of 769. At least for now. At some time in the future, the observers might get involved in what happens on Earth...


The introductory chatter and Stellaris part may be found here. For the CK II part, I will start with the Zunbils of 769, and at some point go on to choose any character that seems interesting enough or picked by a more active observer. The narration will unfold from the point of view of a human in some different ways depending on the current situation.


That should be all for now. So it is time to see what this world has to offer.
 
Last edited:

alscon

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I. Jimofuta the Old

I have come to preserve the history of the foremost servitor of the Giver of Justice, at a time where few thought that we would survive under the onslaught of the followers of Allah, Ahura Mazda, Buddha. But under our wise Satrap, Jimofuta Zunbil, this falseness hasn't spread further. We haven't fallen prey, and Zun might finally claim his rightful place on this world. Now that his son Barha has tasked me with this work, and I will do my best to faithfully represent Jimofuta.


tiJSqiD.jpg


The elders say he was stubborn. Stubborn to cling on to the old ways, I asked, with the enemies of Zun coming closer? No, just stubborn. He might have doubted the Giver of Justice himself. But he patiently awaited his chance, and could always count on the support of his people. Even the failure of the Screaming Arrows was only a minor setback.


SrhnuU5.jpg


It is with Kalat that it began. Caliph Al-Mansur was moving against the Buddhist count, but as he assembled the troops of his enormous empire, Jimofuta had acted, and taken the castle long before the Arabs arrived. The Caliph never forgot that defeat, neither did Jimofuta. Emboldened by this success, Zabulistan's brave soldiers marched against the Nandin, seeking to restore holy Nagarahara to its master Zun. Splitting the army caused a minor defeat in Ghazna, but the Buddhists stood no chance.


Iij3rrt.jpg


Jimofuta saw that, in this world, only hard work could assure our survival. Governing with new-found diligence, the old satrap got rid of the Buddhist bhikkhu of Nagarahara and restored the temple in all its glory to a Sun Guardian. Before taking advantage of the Taid's attack on Šarvin of Bamian to take his eastern lands. Lands enabling him to dethrone the false Satrap of Kabulistan.


MyADZMn.jpg


The Satrap then saw that his age was hindering him and prepared his succession. He said that the battle of Istalif against Kunduz would be his last, retiring to his castle and leaving the wars in the hands of his commanders. Purushapura and Kunduz conquered by our brave men, Jimofuta became the first Shah of Afghanistan.


rWbROeq.jpg


But there could be no rest if the Shahdom was to prosper in this hostile environment. The Shah declared war both on the fallen Nandin Satrap and the Karkota Maharaja of Punjab, and after the battle of Shah-ji-Dheri, it seemed as if Afghanistan would soon border the Indus.


z117g7P.jpg


Sadly, the Caliph had revenge in mind. He came for Kalat, the county 'stolen' nine years earlier. The Arabs wouldn't get Kalat without a fight, Jimofuta vowed. In a speech I was lucky to witness, the Shah addressed the population of Kandahar, never to give in to the Muslims, to let have Zun judge them in the desert, without water or food. The wound that plagued him for months suddenly healed. If this wasn't a sign of the Giver of Justice...


qcgaMS3.jpg


Jimofuta personally organized the defence of the homeland, while the troops continued towards the Indus. The Punjabis surrendered, and the victorious army returned to meet the Arabs in Bost, having lost countless men to the merciless land and people of Zaranj. Somehow, the Caliphal forces got the victory.


EU3mXL8.jpg


In this hardest of times, the Shah saw that he couldn't turn around the war. But he had made them bleed for that worthless piece of land, and the Caliph would have to think twice about attacking again. Also, Buddhist rebels sensed weakness – despite having thousand more men, they never stood a chance against us under such leadership.


6CrfUuZ.jpg


Jimofuta then held a glorious ceremony to celebrate his victories in the name of Zun. We all walked in His light, and I... sensed a presence over the temple. The Giver of Justice truly watches over his faithful. The Shah himself heard the words of that light, and ordered the wealth of Khost to go to the royal treasury. If His justice had to be heard by more men, than the wealth had to be used for the spread of his words. I never doubted one moment that he was right.


GH0CYf2.jpg


And this is where I end the tale of Jimofuta. While I could add countless minor achievements of his reign, it is my task to preserve the direction he showed the faithful of Zun, so that the future might follow into his steps. As will be my task to write down what Barha Zunbil will achieve. Praise Zun!


rupztjA.jpg
 

RyuDrago

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Question: when "Sol III" would pass on renaissance, modern, and industrial ages, this may mean there would be a EUIV and a Vic II chapter (maybe even a HOI 4 chapter)?
 

Dr.Livingstone

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Subbed! I can't wait to see how this turns out!
 

alscon

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Are using any mods for the CK2 side? Also, I can't wait for events with the scholarship.

Right, forgot to mention that. Only cosmetic mods, Blue Duke and the Eagle Lake font of Decorum Visum. True, with the right ruler these events will be fairly fitting.

Question: when "Sol III" would pass on renaissance, modern, and industrial ages, this may mean there would be a EUIV and a Vic II chapter (maybe even a HOI 4 chapter)?

Trust me, that won't happen :rolleyes: (I'm in the 2230s in Stellaris right now, but it doesn't seem likely). Would be interesting, but I'd leave it to someone else. :)

Subbed! I can't wait to see how this turns out!

Me too. ;)
 

alscon

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II. Barha the Wise

With Barha's age at his coronation, I must have known that I will also record the achievements of his life for the Shahdom. It is a task I fulfil with all the pride associated to it, but also with some sadness, knowing that I cannot possibly captivate the entire greatness of our wise Zunbil shahs, Barha as much as Jimofuta before him. Still, I will do my best.


Barha's reign began with a ceremony for Zun, in which he was shown the path to take. Since the Arab invasion, his wife and children were in captivity, and Zun showed him the way to free his heir, Rumofuda. While he gave the order for troops to strike against Nandin and Karkota, he managed to sneak into Basra, capital of the Arab Caliphate. What a move of such bravery I can't stop admiring. Bribing Al-Mansur's first wife Shogofa, Rumofuda was liberated. During the long journey back, the sun blessed their way every minute.

h2mhuRr.jpg

Barha continued to act in the shadows, imprisoning his brother Zerê, Satrap of Kabulistan, before he could act against the Shah. His reign was now unchallenged, and he tricked Raja Sher, only vassal of Karkota, to take up arms against the Maharaja. With Kasmira's fall, the kingdom of Punjab therefore fell apart.

wvaJg2x.jpg

His mastery of the shadows didn't end here. Facing the omnipresent threat of a renewed Arab invasion, Barha was one the prime instigator of the murder of Harun al-Rashid, successor of Al-Mansur. With strong support from some Emirs within the Caliphate and Shogofa, Harun al-Rashid was bitten by a snake. Soon dead, Uways, his 4 year-old bastard son, succeeded him. The Arabs would have other problems then to strike against the faithful of Zun.

ZxdTVeB.jpg

Al-Mansur's death had freed his tributaries, who didn't particularly care for the new brat named Caliph – how low the Muslims had fallen. Barha saw his chance and moved against the Taid and the Sheikhs who had declared themselves independent of the new ruler, Homayd II – a man who had seen the weakness of the prophet's followers and, disillusioned, turned Mazdaki. Uways' regents saw it as a cause to declare war as well. In Termez, our brave soldiers took on the combined Sheikhs' forces, and tragedy struck.

8hpabpG.jpg

Rumofuda, Barha's only son, got a crushing blow to his head. They said that it was Zun's mercy, or his punishment, depending on who I asked. Either way, Rumofuda was still alive, but caught between worlds, not able to see the birth of his son Jimofuta. Barha reacted strangely. He had coins minted with Rumofuda's face – few knowing that the metals used weren't exactly pure. Was it a sign of the Shah how much his heir was worth – or only an act of personal greed?

rG2pBaN.jpg

His brother Shiquer was not agreeing with him over this matter, planned his death. Evading capture, the troops were ordered to deal with the Sheikhs before meeting Shiquer's loyalists. Due to the Arabs withdrawing from Taid territory, a white peace was signed after some skirmishes before Zun's faithful captured Herat, later Kafirkot.

9ajMcGs.jpg

The wise Shah then focused on what earned him his epithet. A petty noble who caused quite some trouble in Kandahar mysteriously vanished one day. Few traced it back to Barha, and those who did gladly kept quiet. Barha opened a trade route with Kuci, and tended to his garden. Then, the Taids interrupted him with their attack.

Ck2frQ6.jpg

Homayd II had obviously lost all reason, as he only had 1400 men at his disposal compared to our army, bolstered with mercenaries, counting over 6000. Or he felt sufficiently emboldened by the Shi'a rising in the Caliphate, that had just ousted Uways of power and still dealt with the consequences of Harun al-Rashid's timely death. Barha used the Taid attack to levy more troops, which he directed towards the Indus. His plan to expand Afghanistan into India was put under threat as the army faced the 'Followers of Arjuna', Hindu zealots well-trained to fight, for the first time in Multan. They were finally defeated, as the small Thakurs and the Taids, although at a higher cost than expected.

9MBWSUi.jpg

Barha then proceeded to further centralize the powers of the realm. It would leave his now, with the death of comatose Rumofuda, sole grown-up heir Jimofuta with a strong power base, and likely no precarious situation as he himself had found him at the beginning of his reign, without envious brothers aiming for the throne, instead with vassals knowing who to thank for their power. Barha declared war on the Taids to claim their exclave in Mandesh, but it would remain the last thing he did – after the fall of the Taid capital, he fell into eternal sleep.

mEdn95w.jpg

Young Jimofuta II looks set to continue his wise forefather's great legacy. Perhaps I will witness the day when the Giver of Justice finally is no longer threatened by the false religions around. If it is possible, then I have full faith in the Zunbils to lead us on this path. Long may Jimofuta II reign.

Eoq0d76.jpg




This closes the narration part of the unnamed Afghan sort-of chronicler. Xurthak will observe the next part.
 

alscon

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III. Jimofuta II, part I

Personal diary of Xurthak, science officer of Seven

I cannot shake the feeling that this man will accomplish great things. For one, his succession is uncontested. His father was Barha's only son, and the Shah of the Zunbils never ransomed any of his many daughters from captivity. Even more importantly, he sees the truth of the Thousand Lights, or Zun as they believe in, more than the previous rulers and institutes a religious control law – only faithful of Zun shall rule in his realm. I am most interested in how this will play out. Even more so considering that Six reports the ascension of a new, virtuous Caliph.

rAoX7QI.jpg

As such, I wasn't too shocked when Sami Jarwanid declared war on Jimofuta for Merv. Led by Satrap Ferhad of Bhakkar, with the determination to defend the Shahdom, problems of the Caliph to assemble the army of his enormous empire, and the righteous faith on their side, the Afghans faced the Arabs. I am not versed in warfare. But I could witness the cumulative effect of all these little aspects, a devastating one. Sami himself fell in the first battle in Kushk, at the head of a smaller army. Ahmad Shaybanid, his successor, sent more troops, but was defeated in Adraskan, and had to give up some time later, paying great reparations and strengthening the faith of the Afghans. This is what I meant when I spoke of learning from the humans. If we can transfer the tactics of the Afghans on a galactic scale – but what do I know?

IrCfnA1.jpg

What I do know is the other effect of the war. And from this one, we can certainly learn, though it will be hard to avert. Jimofuta's power struggle with his council coincides with the war, and the ones he had started against the Hindus right after the victory, the army freshly bolstered with mercenaries. The religious control came at the cost of some persuasion and favours to give out, a plan that seemed to work. Chief Cehanšah's try to provide less troops failed, while ever-loyal Sun Guardian Menûçihr spoke in favour of taxes for the burghers.

PGVGbHF.jpg

A weakness of the human biology enchained the next steps. The women give birth to live specimens, under seemingly great efforts and harsh conditions – that warrants more research, but the xeno-biologists insist that they have more important tasks. Jimofuta's Khazar wife died in childbirth, and he retreated in sorrow, patiently awaiting the reports from the war. Led by Ruhollah of Zaranj, the vassals plotted to empower the council, and before he realized it, Jimofuta faced an almost open rebellion and conceded the implementation of a war council. Another favour caused him to be forced to install a banishment committee as well. He will not forget it, and I fear that it is only the beginning. With all these external threats, there have been better news for the Afghans. My report will help to prevent that. Not that we didn't already know about it – King Varzh was subject to such well-documented machinations in his early reign as well. But now I could study the entire development of the scheme with today's knowledge, and the implications on the Beacons. They aren't invulnerable, and our studies help to keep them strong.

Ax8WK1h.jpg

Five earthen years after the peace with the Caliph, the conquests launched afterwards come to an end. Jimofuta is now known as 'the Holy'. And this 9th June 816 is a great step into the right direction. What made the teachings of Muhammad, or of Jesus, spreading through the steppe, so strong, and his own religion so weak that priest always came to convert him? Together with Sun Guardian Behrad of Multan, Jimofuta secluded himself for months, before announcing a decision that shall, I am sure of it, impact Earth's history for ages. It dreads me, but somehow I can't shake the feeling that this is almost a pyramidal disaster. So progressive, so... true... that I have my doubts that they have made this decision alone. Or is it just my fears speaking. The Lights permeate all – so why shouldn't they have illuminated the Afghans? A hierarchy resembling the early Beacons, a holy scripture incorporating not just Zun, but all visible stars of their night's sky... a few examples: Zun (Sol) standing for justice, the brightest star of their sky, Višjimu (Xitralax)... for creation. That can't be a coincidence. As I write these lines, I have probably prayed all day.

sQ700Lp.jpg

Jimofuta was emboldened by this success, this vision of truth. Not only he, fervent believers from all corners of Afghanistan formed a holy order, the Knights of the Sun, dedicated just as the Followers of Arjuna to defend their faith. Zoroastrian rebels rose up to dispute the new religion, with its newly started conversion efforts threatening their existence. They were dispatched, like the Bajanids, driven out of Khiva. Sultan Aarif had miscalculated the strength of his realm and miserably failed to extend it into the steppe, and renewed Zun's soldiers took his heartland with ease.

WuQtI24.jpg

It is the logical step that Jimofuta continued pursuing his expansion, now fuelled by the desire to spread the faith, directed against the Taids, who found themselves in a situation similar to the Zunbils fifty years ago. But Homayd had no divine assistance, nor the strength to face the Afghan army. Even the next internal dispute couldn't save him. Chief Ruhollah, responsible for the council's strengthening, aimed to gain the Satrapy of Zabulistan. The Shah was informed of that plot, and a civil war ensued as Ruhollah refused to be imprisoned. Jimofuta lost the trust in his vassals and continued to reside in seclusion, turning towards poetry, while Ruhollah's forces were easily dealt with and the cause for most of the realm's unrest gone. Now they can truly focus on external threats.

tKBvCio.jpg

The best way to deal with uppity vassals seems to be to revoke their titles and let them rot in the dungeon until their death, and this was what happened to Ruhollah. It was Jimofuta's wife Biškoj who pushed her secluded husband towards this action, and she basically took the reins of the realm instead of her holy husband. A warrior personality, she had a mercenary band formed, the Beams of Zun, and turned towards the Taghlibids once again, while Jimofuta gained fame as a poet. His works, destined to religion, are... simply magnificent. It went so far that the Shrine of Situla recognized them as cultural treasures. Who says our observation isn't worth it?

xTM8m1s.jpg

Biškoj knew better how to convince the council than Jimofuta. Instead of making promises, she reached into the well-filled treasury to bribe the Sun Guardians to support her. The council no longer had a say in the declaration of war. With the victory over the Taghlibids, Afghanistan gained access to the sea, very important for trade in this world, and she saw another chance to strengthen the kingdom's income. Controlling the delta of the Indus river, her young son Pîroz was put at the head of a merchants' republic in Sauvira, a perfect position to dominate the region's trade.

KE4KVjK.jpg

Hindu rebels had to accept the supremacy of the Lights, before Biškoj declared another war on the crumbling Bajanid Sultanate, for Samarkand. It is then that the great success of Jimofuta's reform became apparent more than ever before. The Sun Guardian of Bhakkar carried the news personally to his ruler. The population had renounced their false Hindu gods, and accepted the teachings of the Church of Zun. After more than fifty years of Zunbil expansion, it was the first conversion in the realm, and I am sure that it won't be the last. Truth always prevails, in the end.

F4P3VUI.jpg
 

Michaelangelo

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The Zun faith seems to be doing well for itself. I wonder when the benevolent observers might intervene to aid the cause of truth. ;)
 

alscon

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The true faith can only do well ;). As for the other part - who knows?

IV. Jimofuta II the Holy, Part 2

The new adherents of the Church of Zun are not all like Jimofuta, knowing what they are doing. All along the Indus, his vassals attack the neighbouring realms. Successfully against the Taghlibids, a Sultanate soon to vanish in our observation notes. But wave after wave crashed against the seemingly weakened Narayan Raja, who had the assistance of the Followers of Arjuna. Had the Zunbils been as mindlessly aggressive as its current vassals, it would have been far from able to conquer Samarkand. The old problem of a monarchy – its fate depends mostly on the monarch's abilities.

cBcO2Ii.jpg

To appease his warmongering subjects, Jimofuta, having taken the reins of the Shahdom back from Biškoj, formally introduced his heir Barha. A fairly particular young man, who seems to have a chaste preference for the same sex... will the Zunbil line continue through him or one of his brothers? At least, it is what I initially thought. The Shahzada became infatuated with the wife of the new Satrap of Samarkand. No preference after all...

Xi5EwK9.jpg

Save for some little fiascos, the introduction went well, and Jimofuta could use his wife's trialled method of achieving consensus within the council with bribes. Enough to have its influence entirely abolished. The taste of success cost him his bravery and his poetic talent, until some, as I might say, man with very little understanding of a ruler's task appeared at court to help him. I will not judge his poetry, but I still wonder what a man like that had to do at court asking to be made councillor. The Shah at least held him at the same regard and denied the request, even if the council had no political power, it was still useful.

MFiSVBc.jpg

The abolished council was only the beginning, with Jimofuta now pursuing the dream of an empire. A tank prototype failed miserably, but the conquests in the Tarim basin didn't. The shah cast aside his patience, looking to extend his realm's influence as fast as possible, while the Caliphate lost an independence war. The threat of the Caliphate was no longer imminent, and it could be seen in Afghanistan.

g7SrQ0C.jpg

It was an occasion the council seized to re-empower itself while the Zunbil armies were far away. His son Morteza even plotted Jimofuta's death. With the loss of his patience came a reaction different from what could be expected – war against his own son, confining him to the oubliette. One would think it could cause a depression – but Jimofuta celebrated with a quadruple coronation ceremony. He would be Shah of Afghanistan, Punjab, Sindh, Khotan and Khiva. His shyness had also vanished. Who was I observing? His experiences made a far different human out of him.

elT4Y0e.jpg

The change coincided with Jimofuta facing the great white tiger for the first time. Maybe its fleeting appearance woke something inside of the man. Or the death of his grandson, a bright boy who would have made a great ruler. The Shah grew more distant of his wife, and directed his armies at Merv – the triumph made him a legendary uncontested ruler, and preceded his coronation as Shahanshah – king of kings. As such, he immediately revoked any rights of the council again, and regulated the inheritance to keep it always within the realm. The Empire of Zun was born.

JckCJfl.jpg

What was there left to observe? This is how the Five Greats before Varzh formed. Unchallenged monstrosities of realms, eating the small ones around who claimed independence. Or so I thought. So it began, but as the council came once again requesting influence, Jimofuta refused. The rebels may have had more men, but the Shahanshah had large amounts of gold and was willing to spend it. This is not a secret – in a war, all resources are to be mobilized. And another one – vultures will rise up. But just as the Hindus were unable to defeat Jimofuta's retinue, the rebels fell to his mercenary-bolstered army in Balkh. Nobody would challenge his rule after the surrender, the heads of the revolt judged by Zun, left to die in a pit in the desert.

0egTfqc.jpg

I could observe some small changes in his personality each time we were close in contrast to our watch from the distance. Or maybe it was due to the three women from the wilds and the end of marital harmony. He was concerned about the fate of his many children. Some had died in his own dungeons. Others ruled all over his realm. His youngest was betrothed to an Indian princess in exchange for a nice sum. But his heir had lost one child already, so his granddaughter would need a good match while preserving the dynasty. A ruler. Jimofuta had the Khagan of Bukhal murdered, so that his brother, his granddaughter's husband, became Khagan. But Sol's justice came fast, with her death shortly after childbirth. Before Kamaj travelled to claim his rule, he was betrothed to one of the Shahanshah's daughters, but Sol is merciless; not far into his rule, another clan ousted Kamaj from power, and he became only a minor horselord.

Fyxu0pt.jpg

Bitter from his loss, the Shahanshah revoked the last county in Zabulistan not in his personal demesne, fended off two Taghlibid princes' invasions and went to war against the Uyghur and Yabghumakh nomads, gaining another crown, the Turkestani. In what I can only suspect to be an action driven by his age – with 69 earthen years he is fairly old for a human with this technological level – he declared a change in succession laws: The empire and Afghanistan would go to his eldest child; Sindh to his youngest; Khiva and Khotan shall elect their next Shah; and finally, Turkestan would be reigned by the eldest Zunbil.

1vMXTXT.jpg

Whatever drove Jimofuta to this, I have no idea. Many were those questioning him. His wife more than all others – she tried to murder him. He tried to have her arrested, but she escaped to the court of the Knights of the Sun, and he would never see her again. One year and one Taghlibid prince later, this great ruler drew his last breath. He couldn't have chosen a better moment, for the post is in total uproar. May Xitralax watch over us.

24W7kt5.jpg
 

Michaelangelo

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This council certainly seems to make a lot of demands. Pesky vassals need to learn their place. :p

An intriguing mix of succession laws. I'm trying to figure out if there's some strange strategy behind it or just for narrative purposes.
 

alscon

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This council certainly seems to make a lot of demands. Pesky vassals need to learn their place. :p

An intriguing mix of succession laws. I'm trying to figure out if there's some strange strategy behind it or just for narrative purposes.

Someone might have had his hands in these laws... and besides, the AI would just destroy my hard-fought kingdom titles! I can't let that happen, can I?

Subbed, the mighty Empire of Zun has arisen, perhaps with the prospect to worship the Sun in the holy places of Baghdad and Heliopolis?

That will be up to Barha and his descendants ;).

this is someting weird, (but someting i will follow)

Good to have you along. :)
 

alscon

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V. Azam the Devil

It is the 24th of September 862 in the year of my new hosts. A day that I will never forget, never stop to curse, one that will enter history as one of the darkest. For over twenty years, our good Badshah Azam has reigned in Hispania. Kind, charitable, even accepting the infidels. Until that fateful day. When he was no longer himself.


UKKfQvd.jpg


I was witnessing the scene with which it all began. Azam, strong as ever, facing the court imam. Grabbing his guard's spear, suddenly thrusting it through the poor man without any warning. His eyes red, mad words flowing out of his mouth, he raised the dying man, planting the spear into the ground, erecting the first of many 'blood spears'. The same day, hundreds were arrested, thrown in chains before the Badshah, who beheaded them. For seemingly no reason – but the Jews were entirely spared. He welcomed them into his palace, and I soon heard what had become of him.


xqe5DNn.jpg


Azam awaited the end of the ongoing revolt. Then sent out orders. To convert; leave the empire; or die. He might have put it another way. Or not. Why should he have cared? The Jewish demon that possessed him knew just as all others that the answer would be paid in blood. Few gave in and embraced the folly. Others fought, or, cowards as they are, left. I was not better. Hiding from the imperial thugs, who forced anyone into submission. Men who follow their ruler so unconditionally, I always thought they were rare. But no. There are masses of them.


sxUdQEe.jpg


But they weren't always successful, with many, though by far not enough, Emirs rightfully resisting the demon's demands. A demon so vile that he brought Azam to attempt the imprisonment of his own son. That he tortured helpless and useless women to death. Azam's hordes defeated rightful Emir after Emir. The treasury was drained day by day. The prayers all around the empire changed nothing. Troops looting, in the name of both the emperor and the rebels.


0fvsgaq.jpg


Not all were brain-washed. But the spymaster, may he be thrown into an endless pit in the desert, warned Azam. That he would be killed soon. The man was certainly part of the plot! Azam went into hiding. And each day, another man claimed to reign for him, all unable to stop the demon's ploy. Only the now Duke of Granada, Ya'qub, newly converted Jew, held on to the regency. And the killing continued, the man only seeing how he could profit from the carnage, figuring that a change of heart may mean his death. The brutality left its traces on the regent, but he nonetheless carried on.


6wLF5Id.jpg


Years passed in the flaming civil war, but it only took Azam – no, I will not insult our formerly great monarch by calling this person Azam any longer – five. Five years of senseless bloodshed, of massacre without reason, of sieges and battles, to force his new self upon the empire. All revolters, stripped of all titles, were executed. Sephardi Jews, freshly arrived and either oblivious of all that had happened, of the corpses hung from the city gates, of the heads placed upon pikes on the way to the palace, or simply not caring, had been put into charge of all the taken land. He reappeared, confident that his life was no longer threatened.


oskSI5s.jpg

With his new yes-men vassals, he began to plan murder after murder to rid Hispania of all non-conformists to his rule that weren't directly under him. He imprisoned the Duke of Alger, involved in yet another plot to kill him, and thus force-converted his last faithful Muslim vassal. I fled, as thugs under the command of Ya'qub of Granada roamed the streets, seizing every good of value they could from not-Jews. As in the entire empire, great parts of the city were soon in flames.


IvN38AK.jpg


I found shelter at a most unlikely place, the court of the Wuffing king of Germany, shortly after conserving his crown. Former Karling territory was now split up under the Wuffing sons of Eadric. It didn't stop further gruelling stories to reach my ears. The Demon organized a deadly tournament where new Jews faced Muslims. Many Muslims, badly equipped, against strong Jews wishing to impress their emperor. A bloodbath, from what I've heard. Men like the despicable Bahir Nadirid, cutting down fleeing Muslims in the dozens, only few of them falling. And the Demon, watching the gruesome spectacle with pleasure.


qkkdq6v.jpg


When I thought it could hardly get worse, my fears were confirmed: Accusing his own son Rashid of spreading the teachings of Muhammad against his will, the prince was imprisoned and executed. The reign of terror had secured his power, and he launched a war against the Caliph for Kabylia. After turning away, he now fought against him, with quick assaults forcing the decadent man to surrender. Will it never stop?


j5uhyV6.jpg


My prayers were almost answered. An ambush was prepared close to Almansa, where he was chasing raiders. Well executed, from what I heard. But the demon sensed the trap. Powering through the barricade, claims going so far as to see the fallen tree used for the blockade suddenly being incinerated, he escaped, but not without identifying the men behind the ambush. They were all arrested, to be tortured until the end of their days.


HZfCltw.jpg


Afterwards, Hispania invaded Famagusta. The reason soon became apparent – to solidify his Jewish rule, the demon wanted Jerusalem, and used Cyprus as steppingstone for this invasion. Disrespecting the truce could be added to his long list of crimes. As before, the Caliph was preoccupied with a decadence invasion, soon also by an attack from the Sun-worshippers of the east, and assaults led to the demon's quick victory.


BjeTnls.jpg


In the years after the fall of Jerusalem, I heard nothing extraordinary from Hispania. The possessor was satisfied, and the former Azam executed his will internally. The 11th June 879, he finally died. Too late. Hispania was now dominated by Jews, and even Fadl, the new emperor, saw that if he wanted to reign, he had to convert. At least I hope this is the reason. And not another demonic possession...


LkwG7oT.jpg
 

Michaelangelo

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When I saw Muslims had managed to conquer Iberia, I was impressed. Then to see the ruler convert to Judaism and start murdering heathens left and right... well that was a surprise to say the least. :p

I hope more of these "demons" make an appearance elsewhere. ;)
 

alscon

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When I saw Muslims had managed to conquer Iberia, I was impressed. Then to see the ruler convert to Judaism and start murdering heathens left and right... well that was a surprise to say the least. :p

I hope more of these "demons" make an appearance elsewhere. ;)

They will. Demons, angels, and in-between. :D

Alien interference or strange coincidence? ;)

I love the idea of this AAR by the way.

Totally strange coincidence.
 

alscon

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VI. Abba the Young

Considering how much of an uproar it caused up there – the 'Levantine Crumble', as Fular dreadfully remembers – to achieve greatness, he would choose a man to be remembered as great conqueror and restorer. Levan's grandson... and great-grandson?... Abba Touvakes, the famed Ashkenazi Duke of Dyrrachion, Thessalia, Vidin and Athens. Not the brightest candle around, but thankfully he wouldn't need to think for himself any longer. Just some slight changes in his personality, and Abba 'the Young' would be guided on the right path.

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But unlike in Hispania, it is harder to do what you want when you don't have the loyal followers you need for that. Fular is therefore forced to wait for an occasion. What would the rulers of that time do? Arrange marriages to gain alliances. The post admired the Wuffing marriage policy that brought them on the throne of the entirety of Christian central Europe. So Abba's only child is betrothed to the heir of France – while small, still a kingdom – , and his aged wife Eupraxia deemed... expendable.

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She gives birth to Abba's son, Kafnai, before perishing in a smelly explosion. The Duke betrothes himself to a Lombard princess, seeing as king Grasulf just successfully waged war against the Basileus. But he won't be remembered for that. Seeing weakness among the Slavs to the north, Dyrrachion's armies march against Rashka and Serbia, securing the entire duchy. Not only Abba with the guidance from above, also his vassal Tamar of Athens excels, especially in his lead of sieges.

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But few are those who earn a new crown! The first step to recognition as the great man he has to become. King of Dyrrachion, he seals the alliance with Grasulf of Lombardy. Yet Abba still can't do what is planned for him, his destiny clearly decided by other factors. Zelekman of Thessaly forces a war against Epirus for his county, and, unlike in Hispania, Fular needs the support of the vassals. Grudgingly, he leads Abba to accept, and Thessalia is secured.

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No longer shall anyone else than him dominate the fate of his chosen! With Basileus Evangelos apparently unable to stop a Cilician holy war and an Iconoclast uprising, Abba claims the Byzantine Empire. Once again, Fular's carefully planned path to greatness faces obstacles he doesn't expect. Evangelos' army, while outnumbering both the Cilician Duke, the Iconoclast uprising and the Dyrrachians as long as they are separated from the Lombards, feasts in Paphlagonia. As if some nefarious presence would try to cross his plans, Evangelos surrenders after the fall of Amalfi, Lukania and most of Achaia, without facing his enemy once in battle.

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Abba might have become Emperor, but without any glorious battle nor any ingenious scheme. Byzantium only gained a capable ruler to replace one unable to defend his lands. Would this man be remembered as one of the greatest rulers to have lived? Likely not, although he starts to act as such. As someone important for the restoration of Byzantium perhaps. He overwhelms the Cilician army, but as they are outnumbered 3:1, that is not a great feat.

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Fular therefore starts a campaign to replace the Greeks with Ashkenazi. Perhaps bringing internal stability shall be Abba's greatest feat. After all, it was the ascension of a Georgian emperor that caused the Levantine Crumble. One after the other, Greek strategoi and dukes disappear. Where possible, Ashkenazi are appointed in there place, where children reign, Abba takes care of their education wherever applicable. He betroths his son to the daughter of his latest victim, the now duchess of Nikaea.

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But all that ends up being futile. Abba is simply not meant for the fate Fular envisions for him. Aged 46, he suddenly dies the 6th April 890 just as he loses his courage, the Byzantine crown, elective in its nature, passing to the Greek Himerios Myxares. Abba conquered Byzantium, but only ruled it two years, leaving as his legacy only the addition of Dyrrachion's lands to the empire, and perhaps more internal troubles to form between the Ashkenazi and Greek lords. He was never meant to rule, the duchy only in his hands after the death of his brother. While it would not be known if he had won against an active Evangelos, his inability to defend the empire meant that Emperor Abba stayed a product of coincidence. Just as his death.

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The Hamrax is furious. Unlike in Hispania, there might be no trace, no strange, unexplainable behaviour observed by the post in orbit. His chosen descended from Emperor Levan IV, and conquered a title he had a claim on. And the weakness of the Slavs called for a campaign against them, while the shortness of his rule wouldn't leave Abba as a great ruler, only perhaps as a significant what-if figure of Byzantine history. Annoyed, Fular heads back to the desert, violently hitting the controls of the hovercar as he lets out his rage, deactivating the cloaking device for a moment. Peasants all over Greece claim to have seen something big and fast crossing the sky.


“If I can't create something big... I can at least destroy.”