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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Doctor Baby

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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?
The next couple of Kappadokis are really going to go for the gusto on that front. I'm very excited for the next few chapters - great things are coming!
 

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Really great stuff. Loving reading about the continued drive for syncretism. The emergence of a new blended culture is a fascinating development, and strikes a fun note from a world-building point of view. I catch myself thinking far ahead to speculate on what a Yona kingdom on the Indus would look like a thousand years from where you are in your tale. No idea, of course, but the mix of cultures presents a captivating future world.
 
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Part X: Emperor Alaricos


Standard of the Yavanarajya
9th Century CE

“For eight hundred days, his majesty, Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos of Kappadokya, has meditated on the dharma, as it was created by Zeyus and Brahma, taught by the Buddha, embodied in Heraklayas, Rama, Iason and Krishna, and brought into light by his holiness, Fotismenos Theodoricos All-Knowing. In this time he has not eaten of any living creature, nor engaged in unjustified warfare against enemies who struck him. He has given his worldly possessions to the needy, and refrained from unneeded speech and touch. Long has he been a pilgrim on a material path between the holy places of our faiths; at the same time, he has walked a celestial path. At the brink of starvation, destitution, and death, our king came to understand the two paths before him: the old way of decadence, and the new way of asceticism. Yet, before he could choose between these ways, he recalled the teachings of the Buddha. The Gods themselves illuminated the Middle Way that the Buddha had taught him to seek out, and Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos has walked the Middle Way since. Thus was our king enlightened.

In all things, Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos shall now seek out the Middle Way. Long have our peoples argued over the arrangement of the universe and the correct way of honoring the Gods and heroes. But at the moment of his enlightenment, Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos saw the Goddess Atina alight upon a tree and chastise him thusly: ‘Doth a baker learneth the baking of bread all as one? No, he learneth maza, then roti, then naan. Doth a shepherd combine cow, goat, and horse as one herd? No, he shepherds one creature, and knoweth that animal of which he shepherds. Doth a cobbler rectify a boot with carpenter’s implements? No, a cobbler’s implements must he use if he be a cobbler.” Thus the Middle Way was illuminated. By the decree of Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos, our Gods shall not be called by the same names, nor honored by the same rituals, nor reside in the same temples; yet all have their place in the heavens and must be honored in their way.

Long have Gothikoi and Indikoi chafed against one another, one the overseer and the other the peasant. At the moment of his enlightenment, Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos saw the Deva Vishnu as he appeared, borne on the back of the serpent Shesha, the Sudarshana held determinedly aloft, and raged at Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos thusly: ‘Prideful mortal, who art thou to cast one people as subjects and the other as rulers? Thinkest thou higher than the Deva who justly sorted within the jatis every mortal soul? I sayest unto thou, from Vakuntha no mortal by his appearance is greater than another. Each will bend against injustice one way, until reed-like he bends backwards against the injustice. The wise king shall thus abolish the injustice lest war he induce in his own realm, and induce it from his one people and his other, and the Gods to judge against his merits the injustice he permitted.’ Thus the Middle Way was illuminated. By the decree of Blessed-of-the-Gods Alaricos, Indikoi will hereby be no longer barred from royal and noble appointments, nor from certain trades which were heretofore restricted for the employment of Gothikoi. The unjust rights of the Gothikoi will be hereby revoked, while the just privileges earned by right of conquest shall remain. Furthermore, Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos shall restore the holdings of the Indikoi nobility where he sees fit to do so.

Of great concern has been the scripture and its inflexibility, being in the sole control of the Diafotistis. At the moment of enlightenment, Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos saw the Buddha Sofoteros emerge before him from another path, and unto Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos He said thusly: ‘From whence doth wisdom come? Doth it spring fully-formed from the mind of a wise man? Perhaps it is so. But could not a wise man tend humbly the knowledge he receives, and from it separate the wisdom from the ignorance?’ Thus the Middle Way was illuminated. By the decree of Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos, the scripture shall be amended by the Sokratea, and not by the will of the Diafotistis alone. Thus the knowledge of all the people can be inscribed thereupon. The Diafotistis will henceforth appoint a minister to determine the Sokratea, will dictate which knowledge the Sokratea submits to him shall be amended within the Chronikó ton Thrýlon. Factions within the Heirety shall be forbidden. All Sarmanes are hereby Olimpyans. All Prometheans who accept the truth of the Middle Way and the decree of Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos shall be given amnesty.

To demonstrate his contrition and fealty to the just and merciful Deva, Beloved-of-the-Gods Alaricos hereby offers these one-hundred-and-eight cattle in sacrifice. Let this dais be understood to belong to the celestial realms. Hereby we give unto the enlightened beings this ghee, the product of these one-hundred-and-eight cattle…”
-Excerpt from the Enlightenment Edict, Agora Pillar, Delhi, 868


864 CE

Having defeated another Muhallabid invasion of Kappadoki territory, Alaricos declared a week of festivities in Delhi. The celebrations culminated in a great sacrifice of horse milk and clarified butter at the newly-built Temple of Apollo Aftokrator, then a procession to the agora, where Alaricos mounted the pedestal of the statue of Hermes to give a speech.

He declared that Islam was dead, and the victory at Buzgan had assured it. There would be no further victories for the Caliph, for the gods had turned away from him and could no longer see him. His children would be cursed for eighteen generations, and the fortune that left him would flow downhill to bless the people of India. Only unified and working together could they hope to take advantage of this blessing. In past wars, Gothikoi had failed to defeat the Caliph in battle. In past ages, Indikoi had failed to preserve India from his grasp. Gothikoi and Indikoi, working together, had not yet failed to scatter the Islamic invaders.

In honor of the unity of the 'Yavana Kingdom' - Goth and Indian united as one - , Alaricos swore to make a great pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, Badrinath, and Zeusea Indika to become enlightened, and to finally settle the differences between Olympians and Sarmanes.

Casks of wine were opened to the cheering crowds, who drank and feasted through the night. Alaricos did not join in. His proclamation of pilgrimage was somewhat sincere, and he planned to leave as quickly as possible. His retinue was gathered the next day and set off for Profiteya, from which he would go up into the Kush mountains to visit the temple of Zeusea, built on a mountain believed to be Olimpos, where the Gods resided. After a short time, he departed for Badrinath, where he meditated in the same place as Lord Vishnu. From there, he made the long trek East, to Bodh Gaya, where he sat beneath the Bodhi tree and contemplated the life of Siddhartha.

All of this, it turned out, was mostly for show. From Bodh Gaya, King Alaricos continued to travel east with a large retinue and a large sum of money and artifacts from the treasury. He bought safe passage through the Pala kingdom to the delta of the Ganges, where he, with his family and retainers, boarded an enormous ship bound southeast on the long route to China.



Even aboard royal vessels of the Tang court, the journey was long and arduous. Some weeks passed with little progress, the ships only moving by the efforts of the slaves rowing oars on the lower decks. The royal family was permitted as much food and drink as they desired, but Alaricos’ retainers had to abide by the strict regimen of rationing food and water by the flotilla’s captain. For the knights and advisers of the king, unused to the austere ways of the Tang court, this was trying, and had nearly become unacceptable by the time the fleet grew near Chang’an. Alaricos regularly smuggled his retainers rice wine to slake their thirst, and distributed honey from the royal apiary to them which he had intended as a gift for his father in law; it was of utmost importance to impress the emperor, and he would fail to do so if his companions insulted the honor of the Tang court before they had even arrived in China.

Emperor Huizong was a far more generous host than his royal admiral, greeting the Bactrian delegation with a grand feast and almost-overbearing service from an army of handmaids and servants. Huizong’s chief minister was a Rhomaiophile much like the Emperor, and engaged Alaricos in numerous discussions about the Olympian faith. In turn, Alaricos took in everything he could that related to the Chinese philosophy of Tao. Huizong, like the Tang rulers before him claimed descent from a great Taoist philosopher called Laozi. In turn, Alaricos’ children were also his descendants through queen Zhaopei.

While Alaricos was building ties to the court at Chang’an, chaos had erupted on the other side of the world with the premature death of Caliph Mukhtar.



Mukhtar’s heir Halil was still a child, and the realm had balked at the idea of another long, withering regency. Mukhtar’s cousin Khaireddin, Sultan of Arabia and Persia, attempted to declare himself regent, ostensibly to protect the Muhallabid rule over the empire. He lost the ensuing struggle of court intrigue and was unable to wrest control of Damascus from the vizier. When the cause was obviously lost and he faced the prospect of imprisonment or murder, Khaireddin fled to Medina and began to raise his forces to seize the Caliphate by force. At the same time, the Shaybanid dynasty of Syria declared their intention to overthrow the decadent Muhallabids, spreading the front of the war over the majority of the levant and Mesopotamia. Thus began what would soon be known as the Fourth Fitna.

Meanwhile, King Alaricos spent nearly a year in Chang’an, only arriving back in Delhi in 866. The Fitna raged on in the Levant, occupying all the warriors of the Arab world and leaving the extremities of their empire in peril. Alaricos took note of this, and was said to have sent his advisers ahead to plan an invasion while his delegation was still winding their way up the Ganges to the capital. True or not, the Bactrian army was raised and invaded the northern Muhallabid Sindh in the summer of 866, and met only token resistance. The ill-manned Muslim forts gave up with little or no fight, and the war ended in only a few short months as a resounding victory for Bactria.



The celebratory mood was dampened by plague in the capital, which had spread to a number of cities along the Ganges. Rumors whirled that King Alaricos’ delegation had brought the disease back from China; the most extreme among these rumors stated that the queen herself was the vector. Indian peasants began harassing Chinese merchants on the Silk Road and in ports along the Ganges. Real violence was rare, but only thanks to increased patrols by royal men-at-arms of the trade posts and roads. Acting as Diafotistis, Alaricos emerged from public seclusion in late 867 to declare that the anti-Chinese looters were a grave obstacle to his enlightenment, and thus, the enlightenment of the kingdom; the statement seemed to calm some of the tensions, which dissipated further as the plague receded in early 868.



With harmony returning to the countryside, Alaricos sent his Heirophant Witteric to organize a grand pronouncement in the Delhi agora. A century before, his great ancestor Theodoric had consulted the Gods before his war with the Khazaroi. Their approval had not only unified the people, but had led to his vision of conquest and prosperity. That vision had come to fruition, and the destiny of the Gothikoi was achieved. But what of the Yona? The people had become something different. The Gothikoi dream was one of a landed nation, free to practice their religion in peace. What did the Yona dream of? Enlightenment? Or was it something greater?

An enormous wooden dais was built in the Agora for the decree, which was decorated with icons of Olimpyan, Hindi, and Buddhist figures, garlands of jasmine and marigold flowers. A barrier was constructed around the dais to hold back the crowd. At a different end of the Agora, a mason had been contracted to carve a column some 65 feet tall, adorned with a Chakra and guardian owl, with a new, and final edict of Alaricos’, which was read out by Witteric before the crowd on the day of the pronouncement. It described fundamental changes to the Olimpyan understanding of cosmology, the privileges of the Indo-Goths over the Indikoi, and formalized the Sokratea as a body that would write religious law for the Diafotistis to approve or deny. All of this, Witteric declared, resulted from the enlightenment of Alaricos on his pilgrimage. Further, his enlightenment had revealed the true name of the kingdom of the united Gothikoi and Indikoi, which spanned from the Caucasus mountains in the north to the sea in the south, from the Sindh in the west to the : ‘Yavanarajya’.



From 868 and onwards, the Kappadoki Kings of the Yavanarajya would consider themselves the true heirs of both Ashoka and Menander; already the dominant minority in Delhi called themselves ‘Yona’ and made no distinctions between Indian and Goth. Inscriptions and icons from then on were dated according to the Yavana era that had begun during the reign of King Demetrius some 6 centuries before, such that 868 CE was dated to the year 1,043 Yavana and called the Year of Reincarnation. This was the dream of the Yona: not just a nation, but an empire

Barring a quick and relatively bloodless invasion of Bhakkar province in 869 to finalize Yavana control of the Sindh, Alaricos tried to maintain the non-violence he had committed to in 868. Most of the royal efforts were spent on organizing massive tribute payments to be shipped to Chang’an, including a steady flow of courtiers to serve as eunuchs to the Tang Emperor. For a brief and solitary period of time, these massive flows of wealth overtook the western flow of goods; in 868-875, though the traffic was still going west, the wealth was moving east.

This had an unprecedented effect on Kosala and the other territories downstream from Delhi on the Ganges. The Arkheireus of Kosala, Theodoric of Kimmerikon had used the new wealth flowing in to expand the holdings of the Bithor Temple Complex to the extent that, were he a noble, he could have called himself a king. In 872, he sent a missive to Emperor Alaricos asking to be crowned as the first Priest-King of Kosalas, to further the spread of Olimpyan ideals (and, implicitly, conquests) down the Ganges. Though it seemed counter to the professed non-violence of the Yavana court, Alaricos granted it for the sake of controlling and protecting more of the wealth he was sending to China. In honor of the past and present Arkheirei of Kosala who had supported the Kappadoki, Theodoric was crowned with a golden laurel; in what would become part of the coronation ritual of Kosala, he removed the crown, and vowed to reign as 'first among many' in the simple garb of a Heireus.



At the Caliph's court, the Fitna had taken a bloody turn towards its end. In early 873, with the war in the countryside threatening Halil’s court at Damascus, the young Caliph was moved with his courtiers to Ifriqya. This turned out to be a trap. Khaireddin’s son Hasan, who had inherited his father’s titles and his uprising in 872, had engineered the move to Ifriqya and had seen to the killing of his cousin and the taking of his titles. For this, he was known as Hasan the Evil, and his ascension to the Caliph's seat at Damascus was met with anger across the Islamic world. The Umayyad Sultan cut off ties with the Caliphate, and, anecdotally, the Heirei in the Sindh reported Muslim conversions had reached an all-time high; Islam had nearly been pushed all the way out of India.

Islam stood on a knife's edge; Alaricos decided he would push it and see where it fell. The time had finally come to enact what his father had envisioned. Theodoric II couldn’t grant his son a world free from the aggression of the Caliphate, but with the wedding of Alaricos and Zhaopei, he had set into motion a snowball that would become an avalanche pointed at Damascus. The fastest horsemen of Yavana were contracted to race their message to Xinjiang, where the Governor of the Western Protectorate would see it delivered to Chang’an. Five painstaking weeks later, the response came: China would go to war.



30,000 Han troops in two divisions came through Khotan into Sogdia, now under the rule of Alaricos’ cousin Zacharias. King Zacharias was famed for his sadism and cruelty, but was hospitable to the Chinese thanks to a number of bribes and threats from Yavana. Governor Gongfu didn’t tarry in Sogdia, moving his forces at speed to rendezvous with Alaricos’ army at Merv, in Parthia. The Yavana army had swelled to 13,500 warriors. Alaricos’ advisers had warned him that the Caliphate, even devastated from nearly a decade of internal conflict, would call up about 20,000 warriors to oppose the Yavana-Chinese alliance.




The Chinese forces moved north, occupying the Caliph’s territory around the Aral Sea, while Alaricos led his men into Zabulistan, where he had fought the Arabs before. Hasan chose to send his men against the Chinese, perhaps recognizing them as the more powerful of the forces arrayed against him. In early 874, Governor Gongfu succumbed to cancer, which had been aggravated by an infected wound sustained in a skirmish in northern Persia. His successor, Rangyi, was eager to end the campaign by defeating a Muhallabid army in the field, and abandoned his predecessor’s strategy of besieging the Caliphate’s holdings in the countryside for a more aggressive strategy.

Alaricos’ scouts lost sight of the Chinese sometime in early February as they crossed into Iraq, leaving devastation in their wake as they plundered the countryside for every crumb they could find.

The Battle of Damascus would enter history as one of the greatest of the era, and one of the bloodiest. All Alaricos knew of it, however, came from a report from Governor Rangyi, delivered to him at a siege camp in Zaublistan in April: ‘Caliph defeated at Damaskes. 20,000 dead or wounded. Capital destroyed. War is over.’



The defeat at Damascus was so devastating that when Emir Nazir of the Abbasids declared himself the true Caliph, none disputed his legitimacy over Hasan. The Arab Empire fell apart as the stress of a decade of intense war and a generation of warriors cut down on the field of battle overwhelmed the ties that had bound the Near-East together for a century.



The Muhallabids retained control of Persia and Arabia, but the rest of the empire - Africa, Egypt, Syria, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Iraq, and Armenia all declared themselves independent, and Hasan the Evil could do nothing to rein them in.

Alaricos himself decided the war wasn’t over. Rather than disband his forces, he marched south, abandoning Zabulistan for territory he could reach more easily. Makran, at the south end of Balochistan, would give Yavana merchants easier access to the Persian Gulf and secure the Sindh from any potential Islamic resurgence.

Local forces in Makran resisted the Yavana army as best they could, but the forces of the Emperor were simply overwhelming. Alaricos’ heir, Ioannikos, served him as a commander in the Makran war, and while fighting with his men, was cut across his face and lost his right eye. In response, Ioannikos burned three mosques before being recalled by Alaricos. Through the rest of the campaign, which would stretch on through to late 877, Alaricos and Ioannikos commanded jointly, so that the younger could learn directly from his accomplished father, and Alaricos would have more time for his theological studies.



In fall of 877, Yavana rule was unchallenged in Makran, and Sultan Hasan had no choice but to surrender the province. After nearly a decade at war, the first true Army of the Yavana finally disbanded. Alaricos was formally inducted into the Society of the Fellows of Hermes upon his arrival in Delhi. The Hermetics had secretly gathered for decades throughout Hellas and Anatolia, but had relocated to Bactria upon learning of Theodoric II and Alaricos’ great interest in syncretism; central to the Hermetic Society was the idea that all religions had present within them some part of the essence of one correct theology.

For the rest of his life, Alaricos was devoted to the advancement of Olimpyanism as the highest form of a syncretic religion which could contain all other religions. Mohammed was not so different from himself, nor was the Qur’an so alien from the Dharma that the two could not be reconciled. If, someday, the distinction between Arab, Greek, Goth, Punjabi, and Yona fell away, why couldn’t the same become true of Olimpos and Allah, each a different descriptor of the same holy essence of the universe, contained within and without every mortal?

Even as age curled his spine and darkened his eyes, Alaricos’ light only seemed to grow. By age 50, he had stricken meat from his diet entirely, and he regularly swept the Apollo Temple and the renovated courtyard of the Yogamaya temple while speaking with visiting members of the Heirety. This now included a sect of dedicated Olimpyan Pujaris and Bikkhus, who were among the most eager recipients of the Emperor for the spirited debates they induced.

In 886, he was visited by a Tibetan Bikkhu named Anini Pal, who sought his wisdom. He asked Alaricos about a defeated people, abandoned by their gods, with nothing but despair to show for centuries of toil and struggle; how could such a people even begin to look for the path to enlightenment? Alaricos responded unhelpfully that the search for the path was the path itself. The Dharma could not put bread in someone’s mouth, but incidentally, he had found that a man who followed the Dharma rarely went hungry. “One who seeks enlightenment to fill his stomach will afterwards find himself starving and stupid. But one who forgets his stomach and searches to bring out the Gods within himself, and to incarnate the Gods that exist outside of him; he will find himself so nourished he has no need for bread.”

Anini Pal left him, and returned the next day in the garb of a noble. He was no Bikkhu after all, but a king of the Tibetans. His people called their land ‘Guge’, and yearned to become enlightened like the Yona.



Alaricos returned with Anini to Guge, and worked tirelessly to convert the Tibetans, building Temples, delivering alms to the poor, and building a Tibetan Heirety to continue his work after he returned to Yavana.

This would never come to pass. After four years of toil in the harsh climate of the plateau, Alaricos collapsed and died in 890, leaving his empire to Ioannikos.

 
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Tibet is being converted...

The excerpt at the beginning was interesting...

Sheesh. Looks like the Muslims won't be much of a threat anymore.
 
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Wonderfully evocative description of the journey to meet with the Emperor – and later to see the Emperor send troops all the way to Iraq was quite something. The eastern powers are certainly proving more than happy to stretch their grasp westwards. Fascinating to think what implications this will all have for Alaricos’s dream of a holistic syncretic empire.
 
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Doctor Baby

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Please continue, it has been awesome so far :D
Really great stuff. Loving reading about the continued drive for syncretism. The emergence of a new blended culture is a fascinating development, and strikes a fun note from a world-building point of view. I catch myself thinking far ahead to speculate on what a Yona kingdom on the Indus would look like a thousand years from where you are in your tale. No idea, of course, but the mix of cultures presents a captivating future world.
Tibet is being converted...

The excerpt at the beginning was interesting...

Sheesh. Looks like the Muslims won't be much of a threat anymore.
Wonderfully evocative description of the journey to meet with the Emperor – and later to see the Emperor send troops all the way to Iraq was quite something. The eastern powers are certainly proving more than happy to stretch their grasp westwards. Fascinating to think what implications this will all have for Alaricos’s dream of a holistic syncretic empire.
Thanks everyone! Sorry the updates have slowed down- I wish I could blame CK3 but I haven't actually had much time to play that either between work and school. However, I've found the writing to be a very nice stress reliever for everything else when I have the time, and I'm more raring than ever to keep playing. Stay tuned!
 
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I love all the syncretism going on in the Enlightenment Edict. I wonder if you are planning on modding in a new melting pot culture for the Yavanarajya (I could help with that if you are interested).
With such a wide expansion of Hellenism, I wonder how long it will be until all of India has converted and, maybe, been united under the Goths.
And so the Caliphate falls, now we just have to wait and see what happens in the power vacuum although Arabia still paints a menacing picture.
Overall an impressive and transformative reign for Alaricos. The blurb for Ioannikos shows promise but we shall see what the future brings.
 
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Part XI

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Chapter XI: Emperor Ioannikos


Demoshek ‘the Goth’, 15th c.
‘The Four Conquerors’
Illustration from ‘Saga of the Kappadoki Warlords’


In the summer of the first year of Odotheos, Vasileos of Clan Soldaia, the famous Edict of Alaricos had just been delivered in Delhi which declared the end of Bactria and the beginning of the Yavanarajya. Heralds from Yavana rode throughout the land to every corner of the Earth to proclaim this message. In Gothika, where Soldaia ruled, the messenger of their friends to the east was met with hospitality and treated to a feast at the table of the Patriarkes in Itilos, the great tent city of the steppe.
Roasted goat and ‘wild cheese’ were served over flatbread, with more komis (fermented mare’s milk) than an army could drink in a month, with olives and wine, both rare and expensive on the steppe. The herald explained the arduousness of his journey over the Kush mountains, through war-torn Sogdia, and across the open steppe to Itilos; this was not a hard journey for Gothike, but they heard him with respect.
After the meal and a suitable sacrifice to Poseidon the Horse-Ruler, the herald was allowed to go before the Patriarkes and deliver his message. Over a long period of time, he recited the Enlightenment Edict as it was written on the stone in Delhi. To the Gothike, the language was overwrought and haughty, but they still listened with respect as the herald recited the Edict. A long time passed in droning recitation, broken only by the herald’s pausing when he needed to drink.
When the herald finally reached the end, the Patriarkes were quiet. Finally Odotheos spoke: “What is this ‘Middle Way’?” The herald explained as best he could. “And what is ‘Dharma’?” The herald explained this as well. “And who is ‘Vishnu’?” This as well, the herald tried to explain. These explanations were strange and circuitous to the Gothike, but they listened with respect.
With his questions answered, Odotheos said to the herald, “I know you are not a messenger, but when you someday return to the court of your King, you may see fit to tell him what I say: the Gothike follow the path before them and worship the Gods. To us the rest is the grass in a fallow field.”

Excerpt from the ‘Records of the Soldaia Fyli’ 9th c. CE,
Royal Treasury Museum, Delhi


890 CE
Half the world was in attendance for the funeral of Alaricos; or so it seemed to Ioannikos, his heir, who presided over the cremation of his body in a ceremony at the Temple of Apollo, and the securing of his ashes into the family catacombs beneath Theodoric’s Stupa on the bank of the Ganges, work on which had only begun a few years before Alarico’s death. They would rest there while Ioannikos finished plans to commission a great mausoleum of his own at the Kappadokion, the dynastic estate in northern Sthanisvara.



Delegations from every corner of the Earth were in attendance, and those who missed the funeral rites still streamed into the capital for the triumphal celebrations in the streets. The day after, Ioannikos led a military procession through the streets in lieu of a coronation, at the end of which he donned a helm in place of a crown. “I ask my people to not fear death,” he is known to have proclaimed, “but to embrace it. For the chosen, samsara is the gift of dying, rising again, and striking once more at your enemies.”



Deivanampeos Megalyteros Diafotistis Ioannikos - more commonly called 'Emperor' or Diafotistis, depending on which duties he was performing - was a curt and austere man like his father, but where Alaricos had been many things throughout his life, Ioannikos was but one: a soldier. He lived a spartan lifestyle even by comparison to Alaricos in his later years, eschewing the palaces built by his family and spending as much of his time away from his estates as possible. The management of the realm often fell to his brother, who was both seneschal and chancellor of the Rajya as well as the King of Sindh and Indikos, Apollodotos.



King Apollodotos began the practice of adopting a ‘Yavana’ name, which quickly spread throughout the nobility in the furor of Indikoi-Gothikoi unity Alaricos had inspired. Some adapted their given names to sound more Indikoi, while others adopted wholly Indikoi names, reserving their Gothikoi name for use in private.

Apalodatis was a skilled warrior himself, though not the extent of his more famous brother. What he lacked in martial prowess, however, he made up for in charm and a strong sense of duty. Despite there existing little love between the brothers, who had been born over ten years apart from each other, Apalodatis would serve Ioannikos faithfully for life, gladly managing a realm that would never belong to him and settling the petty feuds of vassals that weren’t his own.

The first concern of Ioannikos was the subjugation of the Arabs. His father’s dismantling of their empire had been only the start, as Ioannikos saw it. A duel didn’t end when you cut your opponent’s hamstring, nor when you flipped him on his back, nor when he yielded so that he could stab you in the back. The end of a duel was the moment you plunged your blade into your enemy’s heart, or when you cleaved his head from his body to exemplify your enemies. Peace didn’t come by way of truce, but by way of conquest.



The Fourth Fitna had proven to be truly futile by 890, as a child once again held the Muhallabids’ highest title as the Sultan of Arabia and Persia. His father, Aram, the son of Khaireddin (instigator of the Fitna) had died in a border skirmish with the ascending power of the Kingdom of Thrace. There was little will to tear the realm apart a second time to replace him, however, as the threat of the Rajya continued to loom large with the destruction of the Empire and the loss of Balochistan.

This cautiousness proved prescient when, at the start of 891, Ioannikos declared his intent to expel the Arabs from the lands they occupied in Parthia, which was “the rightful domain of the Kappadoki.” Both emperor and Sultan raised armies and marched them to the Parthian border, where they clashed in a series of battles around the city of Nishapur, ‘flint of the Deva’, where unsanctioned myths said Apollo or Surya were born or elevated from mortal bodies. Theodoric the Conqueror was said to have regarded it as an auspicious place out of respect for the Zoroastrians, who had greeted the Gothikoi as liberators from the oppressive Caliphate in the early 9th century.

The clashes continued until the summer of 891, when a feint by Ioannikos allowed his forces to split the Arab army in two and attack them separately. At the battle of Adraskan, his army marched against the larger of the Arab forces, annihilating them and forcing the other to rout without giving battle. The Yavana army took Nishapur after a few months’ siege in early 892, after which the Sultan ceded the territory.



There was no time for the army to celebrate the victory. Ioannikos drove them hard to the east, to aid the kingdom of Guge against a Bon rebellion; despite the efforts of Anini Pal, only half of his vassals had converted to Olimpyanism with him. The other half had capitalized on the distraction of the Parthia to return the kingdom to Bon rulership. Ioannikos vowed not to let that happen.


The Yavana army streamed into the lands of the Guge rebels, putting all resistance to the sword. The scant few thousand men willing to fight for the rebel leader, Taqla, were no match against the overwhelming force of Yavana, and they fled to the Tarim basin provinces in the vain hope that the dry plateau would starve Ioannikos’ forces before the battle came. This proved not to be the case; the Yavana returned home victorious before the winter equinox after slaughtering the rebels and flogging Taqla in front of the survivors. The prisoners were given over to Anini Pal, who would come to be known as ‘the Wicked’ for his treatment of the rebels.



The next years saw Ioannikos undertake what he called a ‘battle pilgrimage’. The greatest warriors of the realm were summoned to take up arms, train, fight, and prepare themselves and their neighbors to withstand the ‘aggression of the Sultan’, which he proclaimed an imminent threat to the realm. Ioannikos traveled to every great holy site and city in the empire, with great melees organized ahead of his arrival. In some cases he took part, in others he only watched. As Diafotistis, he introduced explicitly martial rituals, meant to cleanse the mind and strengthen the body, which he drew from Hindi and Hellenic tradition.

Most significantly, he recruited the best of the warriors he encountered in this time and began construction on a great hall and barracks in Delhi. These were to be the foundation of the House of the Wheel-Bearers, who adopted Atlas Stirigmenos upholding the Dharmachakra as their icon. Their common name was derived from this icon: ‘Atlantes’. Their temple-keep was called the Peraplinision, after a Greek term for Samsara, because the Atlantes had pledged to die in battle rather than seek out enlightenment, cursing them to continue the cycle of rebirth after their deaths.

Establishing the Atlantes, recruiting warriors and priests to join their ranks, and establishing an official hierarchy of rank both within the House and as relating to the Hierety occupied the greater part of Ioannikos’ time over the next five years. Most of the surplus of the royal treasury in this time went to outfitting the Atlantes, as well as the loyal lords of the Rajya, who had worked at Ioannikos’ command to increase the number of fighting men they could call on against the coming Arab invasion. The work of the Atlantes, and local soldiers looking for glory before the Gods, had an incredible impact on reducing banditry through the empire.

At the same time, anti-Islamic sentiment was rapidly growing as the Emperor continued to warn of the imminent threat posed by the Sultan, who was gathering men and putting all the treasures of the west towards enticing mercenaries and adventurers to help in the reconquest of India. So long as the ancient kingdom of Persia languished under the crescent and star, Yavana would always be under threat from the bloodthirsty sultans. Ioannikos called on all of his subjects to implore their neighbors to abandon Islam and to embrace the dharma.

Naturally, the most immediate outcome of Ioannikos’ decrees was violence against Sunni populations. In Bilot, across the Sindh from the Multani capital of Karwali, most of the wealth held by Sunni muslims was seized by the local Kshatriyas, who paid a fraction of it forward to the Atlantes. Despite professing to protect the innocent and promote harmony and peace in the Rajya, Ioannikos did nothing to prevent these assaults on the Muslim subjects of the realm. In fact, he seemed to encourage it, often speaking before soldiers and peasants of the 'evil nature of Allah', and how Muslims must therefore pursue evil to sate his thirst. It was the responsibility of Apalodatis to deal with the fallout from these encounters, smoothing over relations with lords sympathetic to Muslims, paying indemnities to lords who had lost subjects or property in pogroms incited by Ioannikos' rhetoric, and extracting promises of support in t

Wherever Prince Apalodatis wasn’t able to govern, the task was instead left up to the oft-careless nobility, many of whom were too swept up in Ioannikos’ efforts to root out Islam and militarize the populace to tend to the civil problems in their realms. In the north of Indikos, a small Buddhist uprising in late 895 was left to the local Kyrijes (originally a rank for long-standing men-at-arms, eventually becoming a sub-caste of Kshatriyas) to stamp out; they failed to do so and were strung up by the rebels. By the time Ioannikos was made aware of the seriousness of the situation in 896, it was too late. Orthodox Buddhists had flocked to the north of Indikos from all over the region and heavily trapped the mountain passes. Re-subjugating the region would cost thousands of men at an inopportune moment, and threaten the unity of the Dharma. Thuis unacceptable to the Emperor. Kasake would go free, for the time being.



To secure some kind of semblance in the northern hinterlands, the Emperor set his brother towards pursuing a new alliance with Sogdia, which he also hoped could be returned to Kappadoki rule. Given the misrule of the last few generations of Sogdian kings, Ioannikos held no ill-will towards the infant queen Viviana or her father, who had wrested the kingdom from Ioannikos’ wicked cousin Zacharias ‘the Tormentor’. Infamously, he kidnapped the much-loved Comes of Chaganyan and burnt him at the stake for ‘apostasy’ in order to pilfer the Comes’ wealth, among alitany of other crimes for which his vassals had overthrown him in 893.

Queen Viviana’s regent, her uncle Doricos, was amenable to the Yavana overtures. A wedding between the queen and Ioannikos’ third son was agreed upon in 897, creating an alliance between Sogdia and the Rajya.



Ioannikos’ efforts towards driving Islam from the realm and building support for a larger war against the Sultanate continued in the intervening years. In less than a decade, the Atlantes had gone from non-existent to commanding as much strength as some the smaller kingdoms of India, and Islam had been nearly eradicated east of the Sindh. The ranks of willing warriors available to be commanded by Ioannikos swelled to ever greater heights. By Apalodatis’ estimate, in the winter of 899 some 20,000 men would be available in the event of a war. That was nearly as many as the Muhallabid Caliphs at the height of their power, and almost certainly more than they could count on to defend their lands now, divided as the Levant was.

In 900, the Shia Caliph in the far south of the Arab peninsula declared a Jihad for the Sultanate of Iraq, where religious order had broken down entirely. The Sunni Shaybanids had been expelled in an uprising of Arab Christians in 893 who installed the Qasrids, who were subsequently defeated and subjugated by the Shaykah of Baghdad, a Shia muslim; shortly thereafter, the Nestorian Christian minority joined the Messalians in supporting the Qasrids, who retook the Kingdom. The Shia could not accept any Christian rule over Baghdad, let alone the rule of a sect as strange as the Messalians.



For Ioannikos, this was the opportunity to finally wield the power he had been building since his accession. He held a gathering at the Peraplinision a week later and described a vision entrusted to him by Surya-Helios of the two futures of Yavana: if the Yona sat by and waited to defend themselves, they would fight this new Caliph on their own land, at the Caliph’s leisure and advantage, and it would be the ruin of the Rajya. Be they Sunni or Shia, Islam would never see fit to stop at the Kush.

The other future shown by Surya-Helios was one of peace and prosperity under the gaze of Olimpos, from the Bay of Bengal to the Aegean Sea, which could only be rendered in the crucible of war. An all-powerful realm of Yona, Indikoi, Gothikoi, Rhomaioi and Hellenes, harmoniously living in peace with one another was not only possible, but the inevitable will of the Gods acting through the Emperor, and the Emperor through his subjects. This vision was the true one, the one that must come to pass.

It was pleasant in the eyes of the Gods to look in longing towards the Western Heaven. More pleasant was to approach it. Ioannikos would lead the Atlantes there, as well as any many who followed him; and though they could not hope to march from Delhi to Nirvana on foot, the closer they came by one route, the closer they would be when they started another. The more of their enemies they defeated in this life, the fewer would be their obstacles in the next. Peasant, criminal, atheist, noble, heretic, and traitor; all were called to join the march and take enlightenment - and the sword - into their own hands. The destiny of the Yona was beginning to take form, and all who helped in pressing it forward would be rewarded in this life and the next. Of this, Ioannikos was certain.

 
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This new warrior king with his militaristic vision of samsara could oversee a great period of conquest and expansion for the Rajya. But somehow I'm not so sure that a harmonious realm stretching from the Bengal to the Aegean is as much of a possibility as Ioannikos suggests. The rampant anti-islamism of Yona society may well prove a sticking point for all that syncretism we've seen up to now.
 
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Zamarak500

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Well I just discovered this.

Let's hope this Great Holy War goes well. With the Caliphate broken, now is the time to strike!
 
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The Greeks savages may be great, but God is Greater. Here's hoping the Muslims turn your Hellenic rump state to ashes, assuming the zealous Buddhist and Hindus don't burn it from within first.

Good job on the world-building.
 
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That anti-Muslim violence will come back to bite you...

A new age of war is coming...
 
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Very inauspicious for a religious revolt to break away especially at a time of persecution for the Muslims.
Persia is in for a beating from all sides, I wonder if the Zoroastrians will be accepted by Ioannikos or if they will suffer the same fate as Islam.
 
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This new warrior king with his militaristic vision of samsara could oversee a great period of conquest and expansion for the Rajya. But somehow I'm not so sure that a harmonious realm stretching from the Bengal to the Aegean is as much of a possibility as Ioannikos suggests. The rampant anti-islamism of Yona society may well prove a sticking point for all that syncretism we've seen up to now.
I imagine future scholars disagreeing between two camps; one camp thinking that syncretism with Islamic practice was the point where the Olimpyans were unwilling to extend their ideas of harmonious balance, and the other camp thinking that that balance was really just a way to pacify a subject population with different beliefs that was too large to marginalize.

But out here in the real world, we're finally coming close to where I've played up to, so I can genuinely say that I'm not sure what effect the anti-Islamic bent of the last few Kappadokis is going to have on the world. I don't imagine those chickens won't come home to roost eventually, though.

Well I just discovered this.

Let's hope this Great Holy War goes well. With the Caliphate broken, now is the time to strike!
Down with the Sultan, mighty stands Olimpos!

The Greeks savages may be great, but God is Greater. Here's hoping the Muslims turn your Hellenic rump state to ashes, assuming the zealous Buddhist and Hindus don't burn it from within first.

Good job on the world-building.
Hahah, it's hard to say the Indo-Greco-Goths don't deserve a reckoning for what they've done to Islam. That's two Caliphs directly assassinated already, the 'Caliphate' as an empire destroyed, and the Caliph himself relegated to a backwater on the Caspian. All over some dry land near the steppe...

On the other hand, wait 'til you see what the Umayyads have been up to in Iberia!

That anti-Muslim violence will come back to bite you...

A new age of war is coming...
My games often end up with a bunch of stable blobs and religious wars that never succeed in doing much of note. Not so this time! The next update will probably be a short one, but some pretty big things are happening, especially when we get to the world update.

Very inauspicious for a religious revolt to break away especially at a time of persecution for the Muslims.
Persia is in for a beating from all sides, I wonder if the Zoroastrians will be accepted by Ioannikos or if they will suffer the same fate as Islam.
Even as Olimpyanism takes root in Tibet, the Buddhists are keen to assert their differences. It'll certainly make for an interesting world if the Buddhists won't get on board with the 'mountain worshippers', although in the long term I think that it will be difficult or maybe even possible to reconcile the philosophical emphasis of Buddhism with the explicit theocracy of the Olimpyan dharma.

Thank you for reading so far, everyone! A short next chapter and world update should be ready some time this week, plus a big interlude (actually part 1 of a 2-part interlude...) that has hoovered up my writing focus until now.
 
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Part 12: Ioannikos ‘Yuddhamakos’


The Cleansing of Shah Anedashemnad Bahram
(Alt. ‘Fire-Trial of Pantlyan Stokadaraja at the Persian Temple’)
15th century CE


900 CE
900 marked the beginning of what promised to be the greatest war yet between the Arabs and the Indo-Goths and their descendants. The Yona called this the ‘Yuddhamaki’ after the Yuddha, a syncretism of Ares, Shiva, and apocrypha surrounding Theodoricos the Conqueror and Alexander the great. Many of the Atlantes held the Yuddha in high esteem, despite the protests of more orthodox members of the Heirety, and their shields were often adorned by images of a spear with a serpent handle or a Corinthian helmet with the moon as its crest, both symbols of Yuddha.

Ioannikos led the Atlantes as the vanguard of the great army of the Yavana, bringing them west, across the Suleyman mountains, and directly into Muhallabid Persia before support was behind him. More than out of fervor, he did so to secure a greater commitment of troops from his vassals. Over the century, they had grown quite powerful and independent, but the most powerful among them were still Kappadoki. If the emperor died or were captured, it would be calamitous to them. Thus, the more resources they sent to support the war, the better they could avoid catastrophe.



Ioannikos’ brother, Apoladatis, was King of Sindh and Indikos, and his heir, Sagrayus Agateclaya was the lord of Profiteya and Raskumaros Ghandara. His nephew Amtiyalkan ruled Maru, a small but highly-developed raskumarity near the Deccan, which dominated the neighboring territories. The sprawling province of Makran was ruled by a scion of the house Kimmerikon, an ancient cadet dynasty of the Kappadoki. Finally, the Priest-King of Kosalas still owed the emperor a debt of protection from the secular nobility, who frequently petitioned to revoke the title and divide the ‘Auspicious Kingdom’ into the hands of greedy lordlings.

In early 902, Ioannikos and his warriors entered Persia. All who followed him were granted the honorable epithet ‘Fotismenos’ as the most illuminated figures and most easily-seen from the mount of the Gods. The Fotismenoi were held in high regard during and after the war, with the term sometimes being used interchangeably with ‘Atlante’ for a holy warrior of the dharma. The experiences of the Fotismenoi in Persia and on their return to Yavana would come to define the course of the Rajya over the next century.



As the ‘Yuddha Army’ of Ioannikos began to take over the eastern territories of Persia, the Catholics in Europe were conspiring to their own great holy war. During the latter half of the 9th century, Christendom had seen monumental losses on every front to its neighbors: Islam was taking root in southern France, while vikings pillaged and conquered the northern and English coasts. Sicily and southern Italy were firmly in the grasp of Hellas and Epirus, both of which had stabilized after decades of internal turmoil. The Pommeranians had expelled Christendom from all of Saxony and now hungrily eyed Frisia. The greatest institution of Catholicism after the Church itself, the Holy Roman Empire, had been eviscerated by the Slavs and by internal heretical uprisings, leaving it a mere shadow of its former power. All over the Christian kingdoms of Europe, free-thinking heretics defied the church and proliferated in such numbers as to make even an inquisition against them a monumental endeavor.

Thus, in the face of intense pressure from without and within, the Pope declared a holy war in northern Italy, where the Fraticelli King Federigo had laid claim to the whole peninsula, including Rome. This was not only a threat to the Church, but an opportunity. Federigo was weak, his lands as divided between mainstream and heretical sects as any true Catholic kingdom while lacking the long-standing ties and traditions of the Catholic church. Further, his territory lay near the remaining Catholic heartlands of the Empire around the Alps and southern Germany, meaning the aid of the Holy Roman Empire would be more likely and more useful. Yet the greatest opportunity of all was to reverse the tide of history, which had turned against the Church and delivered it loss after loss. If Italy could be saved, so too could Burgundy, Occitania, Saxony, and Aengland.

Meanwhile, the war in Persia continued apace through 902 without sight of any major Arabic armies. The forces of the local lords were easily swept away by the combined forces of the Rajya, and the morale of the opposing troops was falling precipitously with every failed skirmish and surrendered keep. It was presumed the Muhallabids were gathering their forces somewhere in middle Arabia, and would thus be a long time in reaching eastern Persia. The port at Hormuz became a top priority for Ioannikos, as locking it down before the Arabs could cross the Gulf would force them to the long way around through Iraq. Their only other option at that point would be to load the troops onto ships to make the crossing, and if the Muhallabids were willing to do so, they would have done it by 903.



The Shia-Christian war in Iraq came to a close in the spring of 903, as the local Shia overtook Baghdad and broke the supply lines of the Qasrid forces. The Shia of Baghdad installed the granddaughter of the first Shia Caliph Shujah to the throne, with the backing of the current Caliph in the southern reaches of Arabia. For his part, Ioannikos wasn’t sure what to make of Sultana Shokouh; she was no ally of the Muhallabids, but was still a Muslim. When the Yona reached the edge of Persia, wisdom might dictate they keep up the march and see if the ‘House of Wisdom’ was truly as splendid and auspicious as common knowledge held.



By mid summer of the same year, small advance forces of the Muhallabids had finally reached the front in Persia, only to be shattered just like the local soldiery. Captured Arab warriors told a dreary tale of defeatist Emirs and apocalyptic Imams throughout Arabia, and failure from the top down to even recognize that the war was ongoing. Some of the Arabs expressed openness to the dharma, but few were willing to consider rejecting Allah.

The emperor’s highest military adviser, Strategos Ergica ‘Ironside’ of Trigarta, advised Ioannikos to try a light hand with the Muslims going forward, especially in occupied Persia. In a message to the emperor, he wrote that the Muslims were led to believe from a young age that there were no Gods besides their Allah, and that to acknowledge any others was a sin of the highest order. It would take time to bring them into the fold, just as it had taken time for the Hindus and Buddhists to accept the truth of Olimpos, but he believed they would someday find their way to the Noble Eightfold path.

At the Yavana war camp near the city of Bandar Abbas, which the army was preparing to besiege, Ioannikos rode his war horse ‘Vijayee’ as if on a procession through Delhi. Soldiers on the dirt thoroughfares bolted out of his way or flew to their knees to bow in the hastily-dug gutters. As befitting the size of the army, the tent encampment was massive, so Ioannikos fell into a meditation as he rode, closing his eyes while Vijayee carried him, his hands reflexively forming the dharmachakra mudra. As he grew older, Ioannikos often found himself meditating by instinct, especially as a reaction in moments of excitement to prevent himself from taking rash actions.

Sometimes he wondered if such a reflex could have prevented his storied ancestor from making his ill-advised trek into Tibet; the Legends said he had been drawn there by the Gods, but Ioannikos doubted that. In his experience, the Gods had little power to make a man take action where he wasn’t already predisposed to take action. Why else would Orpheus defy the warning of Persephone and look back at Eurydice before she crossed the threshold of the living world? Why did the field crow defy the marsh crow Bodhisattva and go into the reeds in the water, where it drowned? Why did King Daksos not invite his father-in-law Lord Shiva to his sanskaar when this was conditioned on the wedding of Lord Shiva and Daksosiana? One lesson was obvious: the Gods do not force mortals’ hands, but guide them lightly and leave them their consequences.

The tent of Ergica was the tallest in the camp and embroidered around the edge of the top canvas with sky blue and red patterns of waves and flowers, so that passing underneath it was like going under a canopy. Further embroidery up the tent showed lotus flowers, bodhi leaves, and auspicious patterns of renewal and cyclical growth. On the ritual mornings, an icon of Gnosistos Archistos, or ‘Ganesha’ as the Indikoi knew him, was raised on a wooden pole to be inhabited by his Godhood, or by whatever God his icon was used to receive, before being brought inside to inhabit it as His or Her temporary Earthly abode. There were no rites this morning, or else Ioannikos would have been attending his own private ceremonies, but soldiers still came to circumambulate the tent or pray before it like a Temple, thickening the crowd of soldiers around it. Ioannikos slowed Vijayee here and sent Eskandar in to fetch Ergica, who came back with Eskandar from behind the tent atop his horse.

Together they rode out from the tent to the village of Sarzeh, whose western delineation was a tiny mosque with a squat minaret that peered just barely above the mud-brick houses of the village. In addition to Ioannikos, Ergica, and the companions, the group contained three of the emperor’s sons and their bodyguards, making them well over 3 dozen in splendid robes, tack, and armor. On sighting the approaching Yona, the villagers of Sarzeh fled into their houses or were in the process of fleeing, averting their eyes from the warriors in the hopes of escaping notice. As the Yona rode, Eskandar shouted that the villagers must come to the mosque and see what would happen. Another companion at the back of the procession repeated the shouting, so that everyone would hear.

At the mosque, the companion Brahmanarayan went in to fetch the Imam. He re-appeared a moment later behind a short man, old but seemingly healthy for his age, in a turban and a threadbare robe and tunic. Brahamanarayan translated between the two men. The Imam, impetuously but with a kind voice, spoke first: “Good afternoon. I am called Yousef.”

“You address Deivanampeos Megalyteros Ioannikos of the Yavanarajya. Bow before his majesty,” said Eskandar, but Ioannikos intervened.

“That’s not necessary,” said the emperor, who dismounted and walked before the Imam, who bowed his lightly in greetings.

“Thank you, your majesty. I can not bow, at my age, without a great deal of help to turn upright again.”

Ioannikos turned his shoulders and looked out towards the sea, which was just visible on the horizon from the front of the mosque. A small crowd of men had come from the village and stood well away from the companions and the mosque, but drew nearer as the conversation went on and their curiosity overcame their caution. Pointing, Ioannikkos asked, “Makkah is somewhere in that direction, isn’t it?”

“Yes, your majesty.”

“You prostrate towards the Kaaba?”

“Yes, your majesty. We call that direction the Qiblah.”

“It is wise to know where one stands in relation to a holy place,” said Ioannikos. “Tell me, if you lived a thousand years, would you ever renounce Allah as your only God? Would you pray in a different direction?”

Yousef bowed his head. “No, your majesty. Allah, blessed and lofty, is one, and there is no equivalent to Him.”

“Would you accept him by another name?”

“No, your majesty. He has one name, and we know it to be true by the revelations of the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.”

Eskandar slowly broke from the companions and began to go around the mosque. Some of the Persians watched him, but turned back when he rounded the back of the mosque.

“And because Allah is one, and there is no equivalent to him, you could not worship another God, not even as a subordinate to him.” Yousef shook his head solemnly. Ioannikos turned to Ergica. “The Imam says he would waste a millennium rejecting the dharma. Is that long enough to call him a lost to us? Shall we wait until the gandharvas come down from Olimpos and tell the good Imam that his Qiblah is pointed the wrong way?”

Ergica grimaced. “I apologize, your majesty.”

“You don’t need to. I have let my cruelty speak for me. I shall follow your example of compassion.”

Ioannikos turned away from Yousef and got back on his horse. Eskandar was coming around the other side of the mosque and rejoined the group at the same time as the emperor. Ioannikos conferred with another companion, who held out a sheathed sword for him. He drew it, and the Persian men gasped and cried in fear for Yousef. Some of them ran back to the village, but a number stayed behind to see.

Ioannikos turned towards the Imam, rode up, and held the sword over his head. “As an unrepentant heathen and denier of the truth of the dharma, I sentence death on the priest called Yousef of Sarzeh temple. May the Gods bear witness that I have ruled justly and in order.”

The imam closed his eyes, accepting the coming death, while his flock looked on in horror. Their transfixed faces changed to confusion as Ioannikos lowered the sword gently, then brought it back to his front, holding it at attention.

“By my authority, most-blessed and greatest ruler before the Gods Ioannikos I of the Kappadoki, I hereby spare thee. However, your temple is the abode of a false god and shall be destroyed by the will of Zeyus Aftokrator, who reigns supreme over Olimpos and the world.”

Brahmanarayan took the Imam by the arm and brought him to the Persian men so that he wouldn’t resist the burning of the mosque. He spat out untranslated curses while Eskandar and two other companions went into the mosque and then left it, with smoke at their backs. The oil which Eskandar had poured on the back of the mosque was quick to alight. Soon, the little mosque was lost beneath a raging fire whose warmth licked Ioannikos’ nose. “I do this for my Gods, and for Zoroaster, the prophet of the Lord of the Wisdom, a God we know and honor. May this cleansing flame please him and drive the false god Allah back to his house in Makkah. He shall have no abode in Parsiyah."

The companions cheered, and soon left after making clear to the Persian men that further practice of Islam would be punished. When they arrived at the camp again, the idol of Gnosistos was raised for a celebratory ritual.

1601489198325.png

Ganesha Idol of Yannakas Maharaja
9th century CE

The razing of the mosque at Sarzeh was disseminated quickly through the army and inspired a number of similar razings, as well as sporadic violence against Muslims. The traditional turbans and coats of the Parsees, Zoroastrians who had fled Persia for India to practice their religion in peace, began to be worn widely by Persians who could afford such garments in the hopes of signalling to Yona soldiers and magistrates that their wearer was Zoroastrian, or at least were more loyal to their own lives than the Caliph or the Sultan.


903 had already been an eventful year, but wasn’t to finish without further spasms in the shape of the world. The Pope declared victory in August from the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Milan, and began a series of reprisals against the local ‘Fraticellis’, driving those remaining in northern Italy into the countryside. As an unintended consequence, heretics fleeing the violence of the triumphant crusaders fled to Occitania in great numbers, further entrenching anti-Catholic sentiment there and weakening efforts to re-assert the Church’s authority.


King Nezir ‘the Protector’ entering Florence
Joseph-Nicholas Robert-Fleury
1840

The deposed king Federigo was captured a month later trying to cross the Alps ahead of winter, hoping the snow would close the way to pursuers. Famously, he was undone when his bodyguard, the esteemed knight Fortebraccio di Mede, called him ‘Il Gallo’, an obscure nickname for him that was nevertheless-recognized by a passer-by who alerted the local constable. Braccio was killed defending his lord, and Federigo would be mocked throughout history by the coining of the idiom, “rooster’s flight” for an endeavor undertaken by a fool. Worse for him was his execution by burning at the stake after a parade through the streets of Roma.

In Persia, the Yavana army stormed the under-manned keep at Bandar Abbas. From the port they captured vessels to carry detachments to Qeshm and Hormuz islands, whose few defenders were caught flat-footed by the speed of the attacks. With the fall of Bandar Abbas, the strait of Hormuz was essentially uncrossable by the Muhallabid army. The only way from Arabia to Persia would be by transport ships or march through Basra, which was now controlled by the Shia. Their only hope of keeping Persia now relied on summoning enough men from the northern plateau and Azerbaijan to secure a landing for a more-numerous army from Arabia. Ioannikos split his force into three; 5,000 horsemen would race to Basra and resist any Muhallabid forces there, while a further force of 5,000 would advance more carefully up the coast to look for potential landing sites. The rest of the army went about requisitioning supplies for the march north into the highlands.

A few days after they had left, a ship came from Arabia bearing diplomats from the Muhallabid court. They met with Emperor Ioannikos, and attempted to angle for monetary recompense in exchange for the surrender of the Persian crown. Ioannikos refused these, understanding that the diplomats had arrived to surrender, not negotiate, in the hopes of keeping the Caspian territories as ostensibly under their sovereignty. After a few days’ of posturing and threats, the diplomats crossed the gulf, which now separated the Muhallabids from the Yavanarajya. The Yuddhamachy was won.

 
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No civilization can remain while adhering to contradictions. The Hellenic heathens might have conquered Persia, but in the end, they will be devoured from within by their own irrational beliefs and decadent ways. The sun has set on Hellenism and nothing will change that fate.

Looking forward to more info about Europe. Also, anything happening with the Jews?

Edit: Are you going to edit the Great Holy War texts to replace "Pagan" with "Hellenic"?
 
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No civilization can remain while adhering to contradictions. The Hellenic heathens might have conquered Persia, but in the end, they will be devoured from within by their own irrational beliefs and decadent ways. The sun has set on Hellenism and nothing will change that fate.

Looking forward to more info about Europe. Also, anything happening with the Jews?

Edit: Are you going to edit the Great Holy War texts to replace "Pagan" with "Hellenic"?
I hadn't noticed any Jewish characters around when I did the basic look-around for the world update. I'll do another check while I'm writing the world update but without the Khazars I don't think the chances are very good, sadly.

Oops, didn't see the pagan bit in the text. The localization for Hellenes is pretty iffy to begin with, let alone the assumption with a lot of it that the player is probably playing a Hellenic Roman. I'm sure we'll have some more Great Holy Wars in the future, so I'll add that to the list to correct. Unfortunately, since I copied the English melting pot events for the Yona culture, I've got a fun issue cropping up where the culture conversion event sometimes turns courtiers English instead of Yona o_O

EDIT: Looks like that part is a generic localization for all pagan group religions. I'm bad enough keeping the relatively simple mod I'm running here working that I'll probably leave it as-is to avoid having to separately localize a new religion group. I'll probably just do some more creative photoshopping next time instead.
 
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slothinator

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Oct 20, 2016
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Worrying to see the catholic church sink so low but at least Italy is returned to the fold.
Yousef seemed like such a nice fellow, I hope he does well for himself even after the destruction of his mosque. I imagine the Muslims of Persia will take some time to fully accept the Dharma.
I particularly enjoyed the story about the rooster’s flight, these titbits are always excellent.
And so a Great Holy War is won, I wonder if the Yavanaraja will ever fracture.
 
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