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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

HistoryDude

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Ah, the enmity of brothers...

Looks like Ioulianos has changed his mind - that's good.

The Gates of Hell will affect Hektor for the rest of his days...

Also, I'll repeat my earlier question: is Olympianism based more on Homeric epics or Hesoid (specifically the Theogony)? Or is that an individual's choice? Greek Mythology was far from consistent....
 
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Doctor Baby

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Ah, the enmity of brothers...

Looks like Ioulianos has changed his mind - that's good.

The Gates of Hell will affect Hektor for the rest of his days...

Also, I'll repeat my earlier question: is Olympianism based more on Homeric epics or Hesoid (specifically the Theogony)? Or is that an individual's choice? Greek Mythology was far from consistent....
Sorry about that, I had a reply mostly written up and then got distracted and pasted the chapter over it o_O

The Olympian Legends reference both but, at least for now, the Homeric epics are much more prominent because of the mythologizing of the Kappadoki and their retainers who resuscitated the religion from near death. It will be awhile before people, noble or priest or otherwise, are able to have an open debate about what extent Alexander or Theodoric should be deified, what authority the Diafotistis should have over scripture and orthodoxy, etc. The newly-codified priest class already has a deep interest in Hesiod's works. No one will say it yet, but I imagine in the future there will be some spirited debate about whether the Iliad or the Works and Days best represent Olympian virtues and ideals.
 
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Part VI

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Part VI: Hektorios the Accursed


Defaced bust of King Hektor of Bactria, 9th-10th century CE



822 CE

The battlefield was sparingly littered with the bodies of Sogdians and Paranomoi alike as the army of Theodoric ‘the Bastard’ fled the field. King Alexandros of Sogdia and Parthia rode to the front of his own army, his cavalry guards and most capable knights in tow. A victory horn sounded and the Sogdians cheered, the way to Balkh now open despite all the signs going against the Sogdians. Theodoric’s army was larger by a third, the terrain was favorable to them, and the Bastard’s capital was now vulnerable to a siege. By all rights, Theodoric should have fought on the plains before Alexandros could call on allies in the steppe, or even his brother in Bactria to aid him and invert the bastard’s advantage in numbers. But they hadn’t.

Alexandros led his army to the outskirts of Balkh, where they made ready to encircle the lightly-defended keep and hem the Bastard into the dry Merv desert, where he would be forced to lose his men to attrition or else face the King somewhere more to Alexandros’ liking. The levies and men-at-arms were in high spirits at having avoided a decisive battle, and happily worked at building mantlets and battering rams through the night.

In the morning, a runner came yelling from the east, his horse near-death and exhausted himself. He was brought directly to the king, who heard his news grimly: the Bactrians were coming.



By 822, the Gothikoi horse archers of old had nearly all vanished from the Gothic kingdoms in the east, and those who remained were less the conquerors of old than mercenaries who inevitably returned to the steppe. The original cohort of horsemen that came from Gothia under King Theodoric had long since settled down, and so had most of their sons. The next generation were unlikely to take up the horse archery of their grandfathers unless they could afford the heavy splint mail of the cataphracts. They were usually more useful as men-at-arms or archers if they had martial ability; otherwise, as stewards, scouts, overseers, or other middle class professions in Indo-Gothia. A considerable portion of them had been ennobled as well, rising to incredible prominence for men who had previously lived rugged lives on the steppes.

Thus, the army of 822 was of a new breed for the Goths. The bulk of the army was made up of ‘Indikon’ levies’, light infantry spearmen and skirmishers, bolstered by a core of hardened men-at-arms and archers, generally Goths, though sometimes Pashtuns or Kashmiris who were highly-regarded as warriors by the Kappadoki rulers. Wealthy veterans and nobles formed a division of armored cavalry trained to skirmish with bows or break light infantry formations with a charge. Steppe Goth mercenaries would sometimes join the cataphracts, but were generally used outside of pitched battles to raid enemy supply lines or disrupt retreating armies.

Nearly 10,000 men gathered for the army in Theodorion, which was closer to the border than Delhi. From there, they marched to Kabul, reaching it in late spring to newsl: the civil war in Sogdia had already ended, less than a year after its start, due to the sudden death of Theodoric the Bastard.



In spite of the unplanned reunification of Sogdia, the warriors of Bactria pressed ahead on orders of King Hektor. When Kabul fell, the Gothikoi held a ceremony of divination to foresee the course of the war. Of course, regardless of what the Hierophant found in the innards of the sacrificial beast, the war would continue, so it was of some comfort that Zeus smiled on the efforts of the Bactrians to reunite the four kingdoms.



Even with this good omen, something seemed to weigh on the king’s psyche. He split his forces at Kabul, leaving half under the command of his son, Prince Theodoric, and bringing the rest of them with him. The prince would move through the provinces, securing towns and fortifications, while the king pressed on westwards. This he did with wild abandon, claiming to his commanders he wanted to decisively defeat Alexandros’ forces in the field before they could unite and organize their ranks. Yet the lie of this was revealed when he heard of an uprising Buddhists to the north, in the province of Vakhan, and turned his army north to meet them.

King Hektor’s army numbered a little over 5,000 men, so when they saw that the disorganized peasant army of Buddhists was less than half that, the Bactrians were assured of victory. The two forces clashed outside the city of Vakhan itself, where the Buddhists had laid a siege, giving a name to a battle that would have enormous consequences.

The Bactrians moved aggressively, pressing the rebels across a wide front and enveloping their flanks. The Buddhists were untrained and ill-equipped, but zealous and enraged. They held onto the battle long after it was already lost, and seemed to be wavering when King Hektor formed his cataphracts into a wedge and charged into a gap in the center. What happened after was immediately mythologized by the survivors of the battle in myriad ways. Some said the King ran through his own infantry to attack the Buddhists and broke his horse’s legs trampling a sergeant. Others saw the charge reach the rebels and force a rout, just before the earth opened up and swallowed the king and a dozen of his best knights. Still others claimed a demon had materialized among the Buddhists, sword in hand, and cleaved through a hundred Bactrians to slay King Hektor. The only sure event was that the king had fallen.



Hektor’s death in 824 ended the war in Sogdia. Crown Prince Theodoric ascended to the throne in Bactria as quickly as he could and began to speak of war, as his brother Eugenios rode to Indicus and did the same. Neither son, it seemed, would be satisfied with his inheritance alone.

 
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HistoryDude

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The Goths now lay further divided. Hopefully their lands are reunited - before they’re overrun.
 
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A worrying string of civil wars seems to be prepared. Hopefully, the Goths will make it through in one piece.
 
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Part VII

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Part VII: Theodoric II ‘the Young’


Indo-Goth inscription depicting the Battle of Gurziwan, 820-840 CE

824 CE

The accession of King Theodoric II was a hasty and modest affair. The late King Hektor’s Hierophant, Alaricos, performed the rite, laying a golden laurel wreath on Theodoric’s head before all members of the court. It was a small crowd, there being little time to travel to Delhi between news of Hektor’s death and news of the ceremony. The newly-inherited King Eugenios, Theodoric’s brother, made no show of attending, as he had his own coronation to arrange and a realm to organize for a presumed war that would come as soon as one of the two brothers felt confident enough in his rule to begin one.



Eugenios was both physically stronger than his brother and had an impeccable mind for strategy and deception. Yet he was said to be haunted in the same manner as his father, drawing his sword at shadows and muttering to himself sometimes when he thought nobody could hear him. Considering the end Hektor had come to, those who acknowledged this fact tended to favor Theodoric, who was older and therefore the more worthy heir of his father.

Yet Theodoric was an enigma to the nobility, who was both deeply interested in matters of religion while also being regarded as completely incompetent. After his accession, he proclaimed his namesake and grandfather would thereafter be rendered in every instance, no matter how casual, as Megalyteros Theodoric I Evlogimenos Aftokrator, appending his regnal name against tradition from Theodoricos, while also making the published theological works of the Arkheirety ever more unwieldy due to the need to frequently reference the elder Theodoric and his new slew of epithets. This, and an incident at the Krishna Jamasthan Temple Complex where Theodoric mistakenly referred to Krishna as a Buddha multiple times earned him the sarcastic epithet ‘the Holy’. At the time, he was more openly known as ‘the Young’ to distinguish him from his namesake, and for his impetuousness.

In August of 824, mere months after his accession, King Theodoric declared war on his brother, Eugenios of Indicus.



The great army of Bactria was mobilized once again. With the losses in the aborted war for Sogdia replaced, they numbered 10,000 once again. In Indicus, Eugenios scrambled to secure support to defend his throne, which had been bound to that of Bactria for over two decades. The Kashmiris, and the sparse Kashmiri-Goth population, lacked concentrated centers of population that could produce large levies, and the results were disastrous for Eugenios. The grand total of his army, with a small force of mercenaries hired to supplement them, were less than 2,500.
Rather than commit his men to a pitched battle to be crushed, Eugenios led his men in a raiding campaign, hoping to delay the Bactrians long enough that some other matter could force Theodoric to end the war before the Kashmiri vassals folded and recognized him instead of Eugenios.

The Bactrians had just begun to enter Kashmir en masse when King Alexandros of Sogdia passed away in his sleep. Much like his brother, Alexandros had two heirs, splitting his realm in half upon his death. His daughter Adriane became queen of Parthia, while princess Markia became queen of Sogdia.





Unlike their eastern cousins, the two Queens were evenly-matched in power, and their nearest rivals were much greater threats to them than any power in India or Tibet. The Caliphate had recovered from the Shia Uprising, forced the Caliph out of Iraq, and pried Nishapur from Alexandros’ grasp a few years before his death. Now he eyed Parthia and Zabulistan greedily, waiting for an opportunity. To the north of Sogdia, the Uyghur Khagan led frequent raids into Fergana, extracting wealth and slaves on the way to a full-scale invasion of Sogdia. Though their kingdoms would be stronger united, the sisters settled on an uneasy peace. Perhaps seeking an edge over her sister, Queen Adriane of Parthia requested an alliance with Bactria, which Theodoric accepted.



The same was soon true in Bactria, as Eugenios’ vassals one-by-one declared their support for King Theodoric. Eugenios abdicated his throne to his brother, re-uniting Kashmir with Bactria. As a show of mercy, King Theodoric had intended to spare his brother his landed titles until it was discovered that Eugenios had organized a plot to have the crown princess murdered. Eugenios denied it, and the evidence pointed towards this plot having ended with his abdication, but Theodoric was incensed that his brother would have ever considered such underhanded methods against a fellow Kappadoki. Eugenios’ arrest was ordered and carried out, though his household guard resisted the effort in a week-long siege of his estate in Kashmir province. After he surrendered a second time, Eugenios’ remaining titles were stripped from him and he was interred in a tower at the Kappadoki estate at Profiteya.

With his rule secure, Theodoric settled into the palace at Delhi and focused on the prosperity of the realm and his own personal holdings. The Silk Road remained the source of most of the kingdom’s wealth, and Theodoric committed to the expansion of his trading posts and protection for travelers, enticing more traders to take the northern route through Bactria.

The vassals were emboldened by the new wealth flowing into the kingdom and organized a number of expeditions against the Indians. King Theodoric avoided entangling himself in these affairs, but directed them south along the Indus, rather than to the east. For one, the eastern holdings were quite far from the Indo-Goth heartland already, and difficult to control from Delhi. For another, the Indus valley would be harder to conquer, and Theodoric feared a great victory more than a defeat.



By 827, these efforts had brought the Goths as far south as Vikramapura and secured the central Indus. Recognizing the increasing primacy of trade to the kingdom, Theodoric installed a league of Gothikoi merchants to power in Multan, forming the Republic of the Sindhu; they preferred the local variation of the name of the Indus to help legitimate their rule among the Panjabis residing along the north and central river banks.

Despite all effort to maintain the territories of the kingdom, Theodoric was powerless to stop the northern Arachosian provinces of Zabulistan and Sistan from formally declaring independence from Bactria in the same year. Long-separated by the Sulayman range, the relationship between Bactria and the Arachosians had been a theoretical one since Theodoric I’s passing, and though Theodoric the Young thought it likely the Abbasids would invade and retake the provinces, the risk of marching his armies into the mountains was too great.

This wariness to engage would prove to be a wise decision on Theodoric’s part. Shortly after the new year’s beginning, the Abbasids declared a jihad for Herat, now a vital satrapy in Parthia as the seat of Queen Adriane’s power. She was quick to send a runner to call on her cousin in Bactria, and despite his reservations, he was quick to accept. The Abbasids had to be broken if the Kappadoki kingdoms were to survive.



The armies of King Theodoric gathered in Theodorion in preparation for a great march to the west, over the mountains, to Parthia. The parallels were obvious to Theodoric, as were the misfortunes they suggested. But Theodoric was not his father. Where Hektor’s army failed to protect him from an uprising of mere peasants, Theodoric’s would rise up and smash the strongest force in the world.



The Bactrian army was not quite 10,000 men, which put them at a disadvantage to the Abbasids, who had 20,000 troops already occupying Herat. Theodoric raced his men over the Kush mountains to link up with the Parthians, who could bring 4,000 men to bear, before the Caliph could isolate and destroy them. Their combined forces could defeat any one of the Abbasid armies, which had split into smaller sections to cover greater ground in occupying Herat. If he maneuvered correctly, Theodoric could at least avoid fighting any battle outnumbered.

This theory would be put to the test in mid 828. The Bactrians were approaching the northeastern border of the province when their scouts came upon one of the two large forces of Abbasid troops in Parthia. They had moved into the county of Maymana and encamped near the town of Gurizwan, far afield of any other Abbasid army in the region. Though they held a defensible position, Theodoric thought to use the element of surprise against them, and marched to meet them there. A dispatch was sent to the Parthian Martial, Cleomenes, to make haste and join the battle, but when no runner returned to confirm the order, Theodoric marched his army to battle alone.



At Gurizwan, the Abbasids spotted the Bactrians well in advance of their attack and were able to fortify themselves along a low ridge, forcing the Indo-Goths to fight on unfavorable ground. Theodoric saved the battle by sending his Gothikoi mercenaries the long way around the ridge to climb the far side of it to rain arrows on the Abbasids’ flank. The tactic had succeeded, but at a great cost; the Bactrians lost 1,500 more men than the Abbasids, and had far less ability to replace their losses.

Theodoric put on a brave show for his troops, but privately he was furious. His commanders had enacted his plans sluggishly or without enthusiasm, and he thought the failure of the Parthians to be in position to help was evidence of extreme incompetence or maybe even a desire to see the Bactrians fail.

Despite his misgivings, Theodoric continued to lend his full support to the war. He brought his troops west, joining the Parthians, and retook Badghis to entice the Abbasids into attacking them. They took the bait, but were too cautious in their approach to fall prey to an ambush, as Theodoric had hoped. A pitched battle followed, and like Gurizwan, the Indo-Goths won the day at the cost of more lives. The technological and industrial prowess of the Abbasids was making itself apparent in turning their losses into small victories themselves. With each battle, the Indo-Goth goal became less and less achievable.



Despite these concerns, the Abbasid armies had, for the time, been expelled from Herat. The Bactrians helped the Parthians to expel the Caliph’s garrisons and retake the provinces, an effort that took the better part of a year. Theodoric kept himself busy while the other lords caroused and pillaged; he spent long hours reading manuscripts religious and practical, as well as training his sword arm. He slept little but seemed no worse for it, using the time in the evening to speak with a vast coterie of retainers who came and went but never stayed. There were rumors that he planned to usurp the throne of Sogdia, using the Queen’s failure to aid Parthia as a justification.

The last forts in the northeast were being assaulted when news came from Bactria that complicated the war in Parthia.



In the months before his death, King Hektor had installed the worldly Hiereus Theodosios over a large demesne that covered both banks of the Ganges, encompassing most of Bactria between Delhi and Varanasi. To the Indians, this was the larger part of an older land called Kosala, the kingdom of the sons of Rama, who was the incarnate form of the deity Vishnu. Hektor had hoped that putting this holy land into the trust of a Hiereus would help to convert some of its inhabitants, but more importantly, he had hoped to gain some knowledge of the Hindu cosmology to understand how to banish the ‘Kali’ which stalked him. This desperate hope was why he had overlooked Theodosios’ unorthodoxy, which greatly offended the rest of Hierety. When Theodoric took the throne, he was easily persuaded by Theodosios that his detractors were short-sighted and his efforts in Kosala were bearing fruit.

A runner came to Theodoric’s Parthian camp in 833, as the army was preparing for a second wave of Abbasids: Theodosios and the Queen had carried on an affair for much of the time Theodoric had spent at war, and when regent Antonios sent for Theodosios to come to Delhi and face judgement, he had the messenger’s head displayed on the walls of Kanyakubja.

The Bactrians marched east, determined but sober. Theodosios would need to be defeated quickly if there was any hope of saving Herat from the Abbasids. The turmoil seemed to be spreading, too. A messenger awaited the king in Kabul, explaining that a faction of lords of Sogdia had risen up against their king, Antonios, son of the late Queen Markia, to install Theodoric. They hoped he would aid them, and the messenger seemed to expect it. But Theodoric could offer him no help.



As the world fell into turmoil and lesser men trembled, Theodoric only felt his nerves steeled. Primordial chaos was the forge that tempered ordinary men into great ones. The wild steppes had hardened the Kappadoki and brought them surging to greatness from the brink of oblivion. King Hektor’s sudden death had thrust the kingdom onto Theodoric’s shoulders, and the invasion of the Caliph’s formidable armies had honed Theodoric’s knowledge of war and stifled his fear of defeat and death.

The army moved at a breakneck pace for Delhi, yet Theodoric’s commanders noted the king seemed oddly serene. When they arrived at the palace and heard the news that awaited them, it was only the savviest who noticed the king’s surprise seemed ingenuine.

 
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An impressive string of victories against the Abbasids. Even settled, the Goths are a force to be reckoned with.
Oh my, adultery is a messy thing. I wonder what Theodoric will do with Theodora? I'm certain that Theodosios will not last long.
And so, with the Caliph dead will his forces back down or return with a vengeance?
 
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Just caught up with this. Excellent stuff. Really fascinating part of the world, and loving the infighting between all of the increasingly divided Gothic kingdoms. Looking forward to more!
 
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An impressive string of victories against the Abbasids. Even settled, the Goths are a force to be reckoned with.
Oh my, adultery is a messy thing. I wonder what Theodoric will do with Theodora? I'm certain that Theodosios will not last long.
And so, with the Caliph dead will his forces back down or return with a vengeance?
If only! I imagine a succession during a war would be a very messy affair, but CK2 doesn't often simulate it that way, at least in my experience. I guess it comes with the territory though, considering the way war works isn't very historically accurate either.

Just caught up with this. Excellent stuff. Really fascinating part of the world, and loving the infighting between all of the increasingly divided Gothic kingdoms. Looking forward to more!
Thank you! The political divisions that flare up is one of the funnest parts in revisiting the game to write the AAR. I've played up past 900, and I'm very excited for the future of the AAR on that front.
 
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Part IIX: Theodoric ‘the Holy’


The court of Caliph Hafiz II (823-824) in a manuscript by Al-Wasiti (11th century)


834

The shadows around every corner of Al-Ukhaidir seemed to jump and spit like demons, clever ones that went inert when viewed directly and melted away into the dark. Many courtiers already had fled for safer estates, and it seemed only a matter of time before the royal family did the same. Guards patrolled every corridor in a strict and exacting schedule, and did far more than their due diligence, scanning the walls as they walked like a thief might be hiding in the setting between two stones. A great reward was offered to anyone who caught an assassin and could prove his deadly intent, and the royal guards had taken this bounty seriously. That, or the execution of Guard Captain Al-rahman had instilled their new diligence in them. Either way, carrot or stick, it was unlikely anyone could enter the fortress-palace unseen, nor could they expect to speak long without being heard.

This unsettling suspicion had extended outwards over all Iraq, though few outside of the Caliph and his most trusted retainers understood why, exactly, soldiers were guarding the roads and accosting travelers. The death of Caliph Hafiz II was, officially, an accident, and those responsible for it had already been caught and punished. It didn’t take a genius to know that this was not the case.

The only travellers that could move safely through the Caliphate were the soldiers themselves, who streamed in endless numbers towards Parthia. Among them was a man named Nesteryas, a dark-skinned Indo-Goth Hindu. In the Caliphate, however, he went by Ahmad. He had killed Caliph Hafiz by riddling him with arrows as he left Ukhaidir for a procession through Karbala. Of a party of six that had carried out the attack, Nesteryas was the only one left. Each night, he whispered the other assassins’ names to himself, and prayed to Yama to judge them fairly.

It was a long journey from Karbala to Herat, where Nesteryas was ostensibly headed with a band of mercenaries to join the Abbasid army. After the murder of the Caliph, he and two more of the assassins fled to Baghdad. The other three had attempted to flee west on horseback through the desert, but the word was that the Caliph’s Bedouins had ridden them down and killed them. Nesteryas and the other two conspirators hid in the Baghdad slums for a few days to devise a plan, but failed to do so before the Caliph’s men tracked them down. Nesteryas was lucky enough to have slipped out to a tavern just before, and when he returned to the Caliph’s men ransacking the hideout, he went back to the tavern and joined a mercenary officer there who was loudly recruiting prospects.

Nesteryas ingratiated himself with the mercenaries as best he could, and claimed to have come from western Ifriqya, where a different dialect was spoken, to explain his strangely-accented Arabic. He drank rarely despite his inclinations, and prayed towards Mecca with the other Muslims. It was another lucky stroke that mercenaries, generally a vulgar bunch, could not tell his play-acting of Islam from the real thing. Only when he was alone in the dead of night, when the others all slept, did Nesteryas pray to his true Gods, and especially Vishnu, to protect him and deliver him back to his benefactor. Sometimes during the long journey he felt a swell of pride at his part in defeating the Muslims in Herat, which would help to defeat them in Sindh and Punjab as well. Surely, he thought, the Gods smile on me.

It was early 835 when Nesteryas and the mercenaries arrived in Herat to find the Abbasids had already won.



835

The news about the loss of Parthia came while King Theodoric was campaigning in Kosala against his vassal Theodosios. Without the support of the Bactrians, Parthia could hardly put up a fight against the Abbasids, who outnumbered them nearly 10-to-1 with an invading force of 29,000 men to the Parthians’ 3,000. It was a disappointment, but Theodoric had lost nothing and gained a better understanding of the strength and stability of the Caliphate. Not only that, but he’d struck a blow against them as well by assassinating Hafiz II, a skilled ruler, replacing him as a rival with his son, who was competent at most.



In the Indo-Goth world, the usurpation of the Abbasid Empire by the Muhallabids had been a quiet happening in the war for Herat, of little relevance considering the vast holdings of the Muhallabids made them no weaker than their forebears. In the Islamic world, this was of great significance. Ifriqya had been brought under the sovereignty of the empire because of it, and the cause of the Shia muslims seemed all the more hopeless. If there was any competition in Europe for the most powerful empire of the day, the Muhallabid succession put an end to the debate.

With the power of the empire behind him, Jibril hardly needed to be a strategic genius to end the war in Parthia once and for all. After the conquest of Herat, the Caliph turned his eyes to the breakaway Indo-Goths in Zabulistan. Isolated from the rest of their kind, it seemed inevitable that they would fall to the rising might of the Arabs.

In Bactria, the Kosala rebellion had come to a head in the siege of the temple-compound of Bithor. Theodosios’ army had been swept from the field already, leaving the Bactrians free to attack the capital, where Theodosios and the Queen had hidden themselves away. Bithor made a poor fortress, and Theodoric’s men had overtaken it before the end of the year.



Theodosios was returned to Helios- that is, burned at the stake. Theodora would remain imprisoned for the rest of her life.

Peace reigned in Bactria once more, and King Theodoric turned his eyes towards religious matters. Two opposing schools of thought were forming in the Temple, and despite the more obvious reasons for Theodosios’ rebellion - his affair with the queen, for instance - some in the Temple thought that the conflicting doctrines of these schools had played a part. The Prometheans believed in a conservative orthodoxy according to the Hellenic ideals and cosmology that made up the foundation of the Olympian faith. They rejected any similarities with Hinduism or Buddhism as superficial, and desired a Diafotistis who was more active in the Temple and less active in worldly affairs. The more radical amongst them thought the Diafotistis should be barred from holding a landed title at all. Opposed to the Prometheans were the Dharmaoi, who argued Olympianism was an elevated faith that, while built upon Old Hellenism, encompassed most of the same ideas and beliefs as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Theodosios was a prominent Dharmaoi, and was said to have argued strongly that there should be no Diafotistis at all. Some of the Dharmaoi supported him in this, but they were generally less unified in thought than the Prometheans, being unified more in the spirit of doctrinal freedom and the importance of works in the material world than by any one specific tenet.

Considering his brashness in wading into the realm of theology around his accession, few in the Heirety were surprised that Theodoric sought to do so again. In 835 he assembled a council of Archeirei, philosophers, and notable Sarmanes (Buddhists, Jainists, Hindus, etc) at the old palace at Profiteya, for an inaugural dialogue called the Sokratea, to be held in the 2nd week of March every four years.

The audience for the dialogues themselves was restricted to the participants themselves and a select group of prominent nobles, priests, or otherwise important figures. The festival outside the dialogues was open to all, and drew visitors from all over the kingdom and outside it to celebrate and encourage rational debate.

Within the hall of the Sokration, the two Olympian camps split into three. The Prometheans were clearly the largest of those in the dialogue, followed by the Dharmaoi. A protest faction formed opposite them, calling themselves the Sarmanes, in honor of their friends who were not allowed to speak, and were silent in solidarity with them.

The Sokratea was a great success by Theodoric’s standards. As moderator, he had refused to take a side, but the work he undertook afterwards made it clear that he favored the Prometheans. Hesiod’s Works and Days was standardized and made part of the canon alongside the Legends. Theodoric broke with the Promethean Heierety on the topic of restricting translations, however. With the help of Kashmiri and Punjabi Heirei, designated official translations to be disseminated among those populations, as well as officially sanctioning Heirei to preach in those languages.

Near the end of the year, the rebellion in Sogdia drew to a close, as King Antoninos’ last keep fell to the rebels. Theodoric was declared king in a ceremony in early 836.



Save for an intervention into a rebellion in Parthia, Bactria saw an unprecedented decade of peace and stability starting in 836. King Theodoric’s efforts were focused on reigning in and centralizing the Heirety and balancing the power of the factions against each other. At the 839 Sokratea, to undercut the Prometheans and Dharmaoi, a minority group of Sarmanes were allowed to join the dialogue. They would persist as a faction in the Heirety in the years after, and advocated a greater degree of syncretism than the Dharmaoi. The two combined would succeed in petitioning Theodoric to canonize Menander I into the Legends. His conversion to Buddhism was not mentioned, but the Sarmanes still viewed it as a victory. The Prometheans harbored greater and greater fears about the syncretism creeping into the Temple, seemingly with Theodoric’s blessing, but there was little they could do about it. Outside of Bactria, the Temple was far less centralised. Believers in Hellas and Anatolia passively accepted the decrees of Theodoric, but there was little will to enforce or resist them. The passage of ideas along the Silk Road was easiest seen in Nikaea, where a new form of Tragedy, called a Heroiko, emerged in the early 840s. In a Heroiko play, a mythical hero from the west- Hellas, Anatolia, the Pontic Steppe - would be drawn to the East, where they would overcome a great challenge and find enlightenment, only to be stricken down because of a flaw in their character.

By 846, Theodoric was patronizing Heroikos in Delhi and Mathura. The wealth of Bactria had reached its greatest height yet, the treasury was full, new construction was underway throughout the royal quarters of Delhi and Profiteya, and the sons of rich and poor men alike grew anxious to strike out and take new lands for their own. Theodoric was averse to starting any more wars himself, and was keen to let his vassals conquer new lands for the kingdom in his stead, until an opportunity arose that was too good to miss.



In the summer of 846, the Muhallabid Caliphate erupted into a violent civil war. Despite the power in wealth and manpower held by the Caliph, the edges of the empire had been chipped away over the last two decades, including the reconquest of much of Iraq by the Shia. The victory over Parthia was one of the last great ones for the Arabs; in 838, Jabril had passed away from stress without any sons, leaving the throne to his brother Al-Mughirah. A drunkard and layabout, Mughirah could hardly be called incompetent; it was more accurate to say he was absent. The wealth and manpower available to him went to waste, until a coalition of vassals united to demand his cousin, King Khaireddin of Arabia and Persia, be granted the empire.

Even in the midst of the rebellion, in spite of his own vices and widely-reviled status, the Caliph could still call many thousands of men to his banners. But between him and the Parthian holdings was the entirety of defiant Persia. Supposing he marched his men hundreds of miles through hostile terrain, Mughirah would still have to defeat the Bactrians, whose commanders, drawn from the craftiest steppe mercenaries and descendants of great conquerors, were among the best in the world, and their men highly-motivated to retake Parthia for Olympos.

Theodoric felt that to dismiss such an opportunity would surely invite the ire of the Gods. In early 847, the peace was ended, and the army of Bactria marched once again to war.



Against Theodoric’s logic, Al-Mughirah sent nearly half of his forces to meet the Bactrians, splitting his men between his wars. Even together, the enemies of the Caliph were outnumbered, and the territories involved so vast, it was unlikely any side involved would defeat the other decisively and quickly. But King Theodoric had no intention of spending years bogged down in Parthia again, fighting off wave after wave of disciplined Arabic troops. If the alliance with Parthia were still active, the scales would be tipped, but Queen Adriane had passed in 840, leaving the throne to her son Hektorios, who declined a continuation of the alliance. He would have no interest in re-securing the other half of his kingdom under a different king. The steppe Goths, while still powerful, had divided into a dozen independent tribes, none of which could offer much aid even if they could march their host through Muhallabid-controlled Dihistan.

But there was still one empire in the world which could challenge the Muhallabids. In fact, their power and splendor was rumored to eclipse anything ever seen in Europe. Theodoric, controlling so long a stretch of the Silk Road as he did, had even re-established the relations with them his grandfather had founded half a century before. A delegation was dispatched shortly, with a favorable proposition, gold and trinkets, and a talented steward. A few months later, the delegates returned, their saddle bags emptied and refilled with white porcelain pottery, jade statuettes, and bolts of elegant silk. The steward had remained behind to serve as a court eunuch, and in his place, a princess was brought to Bactria.



The Tang Emperor couldn’t commit his forces over something so inconsequential to him as Parthia. But as part of the negotiations, he had gifted Theodoric a writ of favor to a mercenary company called the Fire Dragons. The 6,000 of them had joined the Bactrian delegation in Nepal and marched to Delhi with them, before joining the Bactrian forces marching west.

While Theodoric was politicking, Al-Mughirah’s forces had marched into western Sogdia, where they had presumed fortifications would be lighter, and attempted to siege the citadel of Urgench. Eventually they won, the but the constant strife in Sogdia under the Kappadokis had strengthened the resolve of the people against invaders. The Muhallabids had only just forced the surrender at Urgench in 848 when the Bactrians and their Chinese allies closed in, cornering them near the temple at Nukus. What followed was less a battle and more a slaughter.



Despite having had no contact with them, Theodoric’s agents in the Muhallabid court had been busy in the years since their success in killing Hafiz II. The crushing defeat at Nukus had provided the support they needed to finally engineer Al-Mugharid’s death as well.



His son, Mukhtar, inherited the Caliphate. Despite having not technically sanctioned the killing, King Theodoric was still widely named as the conspirator behind it. At first glance, it was a mistake to kill Jabril, because his death ended the rebellion against him. However, his death had sapped the will of the armies of Muhallabids to resist the Bactrians, and it seemed unlikely that Mukhtar would avoid a similar uprising against him before he came of age.

By November of 849, Muhallabid Parthia had fallen, and Mukhtar’s regent sued for peace. As part of his victory declaration in Delhi, and to make the kingdom easier to manage, he also crowned his brother Eugenios, from whom he had usurped a kingdom three decades before, as the new King of Sogdia.



This would be one of Theodoric’s last acts. In September of 850, his servants found Theodoric dead in his quarters, hands clutching at his chest in pain.



King Theodoric was dead. Long live King Alaricos!
 
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Love the way you are able to weave Hindu assassins striking terror into the heart of the Caliphate, high-minded debates over syncretism in the reformed Hellenic religion, contact with the Chinese emperor and a war with the Persians into one tight update. Very well done indeed, and very enjoyable to boot.
 
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No clue why I wasn’t getting notifications here.

Nice to know about how things are going with the Hellenic faith.

I wonder if the Caliphate’s collapse nears? And, if it does, what will Bactria do then?
 
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Man this is an awesome story so far
Thank you! I'm glad I'm not the only one enjoying it :D

Love the way you are able to weave Hindu assassins striking terror into the heart of the Caliphate, high-minded debates over syncretism in the reformed Hellenic religion, contact with the Chinese emperor and a war with the Persians into one tight update. Very well done indeed, and very enjoyable to boot.
Wow, thank you!!! It's a struggle to know if I'm straying too far outside of what's represented in the game, so I'm very happy to hear its appreciated.

No clue why I wasn’t getting notifications here.

Nice to know about how things are going with the Hellenic faith.

I wonder if the Caliphate’s collapse nears? And, if it does, what will Bactria do then?
No worries, but I'm definitely glad to hear from you again. There's plenty more to come as far as arguing about Hellenism. As for the Caliphate... let's just say some big changes are coming ;)
 
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I enjoyed the escape scene, it's fun to have more small picture things from time to time.
The Sokratea is an interesting institution, I wonder how long it will hold together before people start calling each other heretics and refusing to speak to each other. Also, did you add different branches in the game or is it your own imagination?
I have to say that I would head for more syncretism, it's the element of OTL Baktria that I found most interesting when reading about it.
I wonder what the Chinese think of these new Goths. Hopefully, they won't get any ideas about heavenly horses!
An impressive reign for Theodoric overall. The text makes me fear a bit for Alaricos' abilities but we shall see in time.
 
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Part IX: King Alaricos ‘Deivanampeos’


Alarican pillar at Atinadorion, 9th century CE

The Temple was lined with Ionic columns that formed a circular route around the central structure, much like a Buddhist stupa. Inside the columns, the facade was lined with reliefs of legendary myths and figures, identifiable from the Olympian Legends but detailed with much eastern imagery. After the Buddhist practice, Olympian worshipers had taken to rounding the temple inside the columns before entering, often repeating these circumambulations an auspicious number of times and reflecting on the Legends throughout. Numerology was foundational in the design of the temple, and based around the number 8, associated with Apollo: 8 columns faced each cardinal direction, which were separated by a non-columnar support on the north, west, and south sides, and by the entrance archway on the eastern face. There were 4 reliefs or jatakas corresponding to each group of columns, totaling 16 reliefs. Of these, the 8 most westerly-facing jatakas depicted Chthonic myths, contrasting with the easterly heavenly myths.

Inside the temple roof was supported by a number of columns. A clerestory space between the two ceiling slabs allowed light into the temple at all hours, with a hole carved through the upper slab to direct a shaft of light onto the icon of Apollo throughout the day. In the exact center of the temple was a carved and painted sculpture of Apollo with a raven and nag, in repose beneath a parasol, a lotus flower pinched between his fingers. It was said that inside the statue was contained a single hair from Apollo's head, brought down as a gift from Olympos by Theodoric I. Worshipers were directed by a Heirus or a lay attendant to place sacrificial items in a stone cask at the foot Apollo which drained away liquid to the Heireus' estate, attached to the foundation of the Temple, to be disposed of properly. Gifts could be placed on Apollo's pedestal or around the cask, and would be cleared away periodically by the Heireus to make room for more.

Worshipers were directed to worship at the Temple at least three times a month, and to make sacrifices at least once per season. At the discretion of the Temple Heireus, sacrifices would be discarded, distributed to the Heirety or poor, or taken into the Temple treasury.

-Description of the Temple of Apollo Anotatos, Delhi, 9th-10th Century



Kappadoki India

850CE
From the moment of his accession, King Alaricos made it clear to all that he would not follow in his father’s footsteps. At the Temple of Zeus Aftokrator in Delhi, in a ceremony adorned with lotus flowers and scented with auspicious incense, Alricos was crowned King Alaricos I Devanampeia - “blessed by the Gods” - after the Mauryan emperor Ashoka. Where Theodoric had been careful, maybe overly-so, in his oversight of the Temple, Alaricos made no pretensions to maintaining the status quo. A generation of Indo-Goths had now lived their entire lives in India, with no connection to the steppe save through the increasingly-rare mercenaries from that part of the world. While the Indian peasant class had been remarkably accepting of Indo-Goth ideas so far, Bactria’s armies had only grown weaker since Theodoric I settled in the Kashmiri mountains. Now, without the help of China, Bactria could never hope to defeat the Caliphate in war; not while Indo-Goths preferred profitable jobs overseeing labor, and Indians fled the call to arms of a kingdom that they thought was too foreign to them. Would the Indians remain passive long enough for the Indo-Goths to have raised a new generation of warriors? Such a wager seemed foolish and short-sighted.



Of course, Alaricos still regarded his father as having served his people heroically. Theodoric II had inherited an unwieldy half of his father's realm , yet still had managed to destabilize the rising power of the Caliphate and force them back to the borders of 804. Securing a marriage with the Tang dynasty had also proved to be a wise investment; Zhaopei was a genius with numbers and would have made a fine bride even were her father not the Emperor of China.

Though he didn’t take an official position on the growing rift between the Prometheans and Dharmaoi, it was obvious from the outset that Alaricos favored syncretism. At the Sokratea of 851, Alaricos made the case for the parallels of Olympian and Hindu religious belief and practice on strategic, rather than theological grounds: only as a united front could they expel Islam from India, regardless of disagreements on cosmology and rites. The argument wasn’t a decisive one, but it helped to assuage some of the animosity developing between the hardliner Olympians and Sarmanes.

Alaricos focused his efforts the next two years on supporting the Heirety’s efforts to spread the religion, and encouraging his vassals to put more of their resources towards military manpower. The former, he hoped, demonstrated good faith to the Heirety, who was understandably wary of him. The latter would prepare his vassals for the war he already planned to take Bodh Gaya from the faltering Pala kingdom.

Despite holding their own man-for-man at the Battle of Barh, the well-prepared army of Bactria was able to overwhelm and cripple the Pala forces before it was through.



The war was over shortly thereafter and Gaya was annexed to Bactria, dealing another blow to the Buddhist faith as their most holy site fell under the control of the Olympians. Reactions in the Temple were mixed. A loud minority, especially the Prometheans already alienated by Alaricos’ coronation and speech at the Sokratea, were incensed that the Bactrian army hadn’t razed Bodh Gaya and burnt the Bodhi Tree. Most, however, saw it as another step forward in dominating the continent and proving the might of the Olympians.

Regardless of the opinions of the Hierety, Alaricos saw it as a great success. The Indian realms still couldn’t stand against the Indo-Goths. Without fear of eastern opportunists, Bactria could put all its efforts towards defeating the Caliphate in the short and long term. The former meant increasing the ties between Olympian, Hindu, and Buddhist within the kingdom. The latter meant drawing up alliances across the Indo-Goth world, as well as beyond it. A steady stream of capable courtiers were sent to China with gifts, or were themselves gifts; the Emperor’s fascination with Rhomaion was insatiable, and he valued the Indo-Goth eunuchs over all others. It would be a great feat to convince the mighty Huizong of the value of an alliance with a puny kingdom halfway across the world, but Alaricos was more poised to accomplish it than anyone else.

At the Socratea of 855, the king pushed for friendliness between Olympians and Sarmanes once again, by further demonizing the Caliphate. In doing so, he had seized on the cause celebre of the prominent Sarmanes who had been agitating for action against the Caliphate after they had seized much of the western bank of the lower Sindh. The fleeing Jains and Hindus had strained the religious communities in the merchant republic of Multan supporting them, and subsequently the profits of the merchant families were diminishing. In short order, the Muhallabids had overshadowed the half-century oppression by the Olympians of the Hindus and Buddhists due to their heavy-handed conquests, and handed king Alaricos a gift. He famously concluded his oratory with a blessing that became a rallying cry: “Lord Ares, guide our swords; Lord Shiva, destroy our enemies.”

In 856, Alaricos’ efforts at tying the Kappadoki kingdoms together yielded fruit. His brother Hektorios, formerly dismissive of attempts at an alliance because of their king’s respective claims against one another, accepted a proposal. Having just barely put down a revolt of the Buddhist minority in the northern Kush, and losing most of his left arm and right leg in the process, Hektorios was desperate to secure his rule against any further insurrection.



As a show of this new partnership, Alaricos and his young son, Ioannikos, made a royal visit to Hektorios’ court in 857 with a contingent of warriors who had volunteered to shore up the defense of the frontier of Olympianism. Far more than Bactria, Indicus’ borders, to the steppe in the north and Tibet in the East provided a fighting man with opportunities to cut his teeth and earn himself glory, and thus a few hundred able men had come to see the king to Kashmir and remain behind when he and the pilgrims left.

They arrived to a court in chaos. Hektorios’ vassals paid him no mind, neglecting their feudal duties and levies, robbing his tax collectors to fill their own coffers, and insulting him in his own hall by their lack of decorum. Restoring order would have required Alaricos to overstep his bounds and insult his brother himself. However, in an incident that would become a popular subject of tavern architectural reliefs and peasant art, he did compel a minor Kome, Prokoros (called Prokoros Dirt-Eater in historiographical accounts) into besmirching his honor before wrestling him to the ground and supposedly forcing him to lick the floor in penance.

The event had a relatively minor effect on the behavior of the unruly lords of Indicus, but earned Alarikos some respect among them that would benefit him later. Ioannikos, despite his youth, was greatly affected by this show of strength, likening it to the stories in the Legends. Father and son bonded over their shared admiration for the stories of their people; Alarikos wondered if some distant descendant wouldn’t read of this exploit someday just as he and Ioannikos now read about Theodoric’s scouring of the steppe barbaroi.



Not long after the trip to Kashmir, Alaricos and his brother took up a correspondence and began to act largely in tandem. Alaricos’ efforts in the Temple had helped to reassure some of the Buddhists in Indicus after the uprising of 856 that the Indo-Goth religion was not as rigid as some of the Heirety proclaimed. However, most of those efforts had been aimed at bringing the Hindus into the fold, rather than the Buddhists, whose faith was more alien to the Olympian dharma. A great ‘renovation’ was undertaken by King Alaricos to establish an Olympian presence at Bodh Gaya with a shrine to Hestia, accompanying some not-so-subtle missives to the prominent Bhiksus as to their favored formal history of Siddartha Guatama.

The Prometheans were predictably outraged, and a number took their criticisms of the Diafotistis too far, calling on him to be overthrown or for a new Temple to be founded without a formal head. For Alaricos, enough was enough. Those who had spoken out too harshly were expelled from the Heirety and exiled from Bactria. The Arkheireus of Kanyakubja, a firm syncretist, was also the most powerful vassal of Bactria. His loyalty to Alaricos prevented any great stirrings in the hearts of the lords for the Prometheans, who watched silently while the factional struggle in the Temple was brutishly settled, at least for a time.

In Indicus, the situation had deteriorated since Alaricos’ visit, and another Buddhist uprising was being fomented. Hektorios, desperate, had knelt in tribute to the Tang governor of the western regions in 858. With China behind him, he hoped the peasants would know their place. But between his misrule and his vassal’s uncontrolled exploitation, the rebellion couldn’t be stopped. In the spring of 859, a former man-at-arms led the rebellion to arms. Hektorios called his banners and met them in a climactic battle in Gilgit province, which he won at the cost of his life. Having passed without a son, Hektorios’ titles passed to Alaricos, bringing Indicus into union under Bactria again.



Despondent at the loss of his brother, Alaricos was a marginal participant in the Sokratea of 859. The Sarmanes and Dharmaoi negotiated more than they debated, both sides having come to the conclusion that some grand syncretism of the faiths was inevitable. Resisting it could cost them everything, like the Prometheans. The final words of the event were a call to loyalty to the Temple and the realm, unified in the body of the Diafotistis-king, blessed by the Gods- ‘Deivanampeos’.

In 859, an envoy came from another Hektorios: this one was Alaricos’ cousin, the King of Parthia. He was embroiled in a war against Kyriakos of Balkh, a descendant of one of Theodoric the Conqueror’s bastard sons, a former vassal who had risen up to take the throne of Parthia for himself. This wasn’t of overwhelming concern to Alaricos, but what did get his attention was a warning of Muhallabid scouts that had appeared on the border in the latest months, which followed a number of the Caliph’s spies being found out and captured in the Herat region.

Hektorios wanted an alliance, and his envoy returned with the promise of one, as well as 3 thousand troops to break the siege of the King’s seat at Amol Keep. The forces of Balkh melted away before Alaricos, who turned around to aid the Parthian forces retaking Balkh itself.

The war came to a close in the summer of 861, as the crop fields of eastern Parthia went to seed and withered away. Hunger stretched its bony fingers across the Duchy, and Kyriakos was forced to contend with a certain defeat, by sword stomach. He chose sword, leading a sally from Castle Talaqan to its end. Before he could fight to the death, the Duke was knocked unconscious by a fall from his horse, and captured by the Parthians, who declared the rebellion over. Kyriakos was brought to the prosperous city of Merv and paraded through the streets to the jeers and missiles of the peasantry.

The celebratory mood in Parthia lasted only two months; autumn hadn’t yet set in when an army bearing the crescent of the Muhallabid Caliph crossed the border into Merv.



Alaricos accepted the call, relishing the chance to face the Caliph in what was becoming a tradition for the kings of Bactria. The levies were called to the King’s banner in Delhi, and he led them west. In the decade since his rule began, the military power available to Alaricos had expanded such that he could call on 12,000 men to follow him. This was still well under Caliph Mukhtar’s army of 20,000, but spread across such a vast empire, King Alaricos favored his chances to defeat the Muhallabids so long as he brought his forces to bear more quickly than than they could consolidate. The early maneuvers of the war went the way of the Bactrians for just this reason, with King Alaricos leading his men against the Muhallabid army led directly by Mukhtar. Alaricos moved aggressively, hoping he could kill or capture the Caliph and end the war decisively, but he wasn’t as lucky as he hoped.



Despite the early victories, the Muhallabids had yet to bring most of their armies into battle. For his efforts, Alaricos had only weakened them by a few thousand men who were easily replaced. Spies in the west began to report that the bulk of the Caliph’s army had assembled in Persia and were already marching to Herat. Even if the Parthians could defeat the evenly-matched Muhallabid force already in their territory and join the Bactrians, they would be overwhelmed by the greater army yet to come, which was estimated to comprise 17-20,000 men. Not only that, but the technology of the Muhallabids was still head and shoulders above the rest of Europe and the east; an evenly-matched fight was likely to go to the Caliph, let alone one lopsided in his favor.

The army retreated to the Bactrian border to regroup, while King Alaricos continued on to Delhi. It was early 873 now, and the time he had spent out of the capital, travelling through the old towns in the countryside made him realize that the capital had changed a great deal. Even in his ten year rule, it was a far different city than it was in 850. The architecture was completely alien to that of the Punjabi architecture in the provinces, or the purely Indo-Goth structural forms of Profiteya. Elements of both had combined to form something new. The food of the street vendors was different, too: fermented mare’s milk was served alongside spiced lentils, goat cheese and olives. A Heireus and a Pujari would circumambulate a temple together then pay homage to the god residing within it with goat’s milk or ghee, then hold debates on the temple steps as to the name and nature of the god. The Indo-Goth language had flexed to allow these changes, taking on loan-words and pronunciations from Hindi and lending much in turn to the Punjabi dialect.

At some point, this new culture began to be known by a new name: ‘Yona’, following a popular epic poem written by the Hindi poet Rakul of Sikandarya, ‘History of the Yona Kingdoms of India’. This history was first published sometime in the 840s to small fanfare, but gained popularity quickly as Alaricos’ anti-Islam rhetoric caught on with the Heirety and the Bactrian Hindi population.



Alaricos had little time to reflect on these changes. At the palace, he summoned Captain Daijia of the Dragon Army, the same mercenary group hired for his father by Emperor Huizong against the Muhallabids. They had migrated permanently to north India to take advantage of the conflicts there, and had severed ties to the empire. Their help didn’t come cheaply, requiring the near-emptying of the treasury to agree to contract to the Bactrians, but after a week of negotiations, the 6,000 elite warriors of Daijia’s command were marching west to join the Bactrian army, which was fending off a pitched battle with the superior first wave of the Muhallabid army. When Alaricos arrived with reinforcements, they turned around and took the war to the Muhallabids once again, meeting in a climactic battle near the town of Buzgan.



The Battle of Buzgan was one of the most violent battles of the century. At least 10,000 men were killed or wounded, over a third of the total number of participants, and though the Bactrians had carried the day, their losses prevented them from pressing home the victory.

However, in what had become a tradition in the Caliphate, the decisive loss on the battlefield had given rise to dangerous court intrigues. Prince Najib, calling on much of the same network of contacts King Theodoric II had built in the Caliphate, tried to have Caliph Mukhtar assassinated. Neither of these plots succeeded, but they had a dire effect on the Caliph’s ability to continue the war. Unable to safely move throughout the countryside or to trust his family not to usurp his throne in his absence, the Caliph sued for peace in late 864.

 
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Forgot to mention the capital change - I swapped back and forth between Theodorion and Delhi a few times here based on RPing as I played, but nothing all that interesting came out of it. But that's why you're seeing the capital in the wrong place in some screenshots in this update ;)

I enjoyed the escape scene, it's fun to have more small picture things from time to time.
The Sokratea is an interesting institution, I wonder how long it will hold together before people start calling each other heretics and refusing to speak to each other. Also, did you add different branches in the game or is it your own imagination?
I have to say that I would head for more syncretism, it's the element of OTL Baktria that I found most interesting when reading about it.
I wonder what the Chinese think of these new Goths. Hopefully, they won't get any ideas about heavenly horses!
An impressive reign for Theodoric overall. The text makes me fear a bit for Alaricos' abilities but we shall see in time.
The different branches of Olympianism are just imaginary for now. Sometime soon I'm hoping to have the time to work on developing a unique heresy for Olympianism, or just customizing the existing Hellenic heresies to better reflect the current form of the faith and then plopping them in-game. MA hasn't dropped enough for any heresies to show up so far but I have some ideas for them I'd like to see play out, especially into EU4 if I decided to convert it.

Also, thanks for the tip about the Heavenly Horses. Hadn't heard of that incident before but its very interesting stuff and could be useful for the AAR!

Awesome Update
Thank you!
 
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It is good that the King understands that the Muslims are the greatest threat.

And who knows? Perhaps, in due time, it will be the Muslims who desperately struggle to survive? Or, perhaps, they can be eradicated entirely?
 
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