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Persia is subjugated! Excellent.

Monotheism is doing badly. Islam is under threat from the Hellenes, and the Christians are besieged on all sides. To make matters worse, the Christians and Muslims are at odds with each other!
 
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The Yavanrajya spanning the Tigris to the Indus and beyond is quite the sight. As ever the storytelling and the world building that goes along with it are superb. The scene with the Imam Youssef was very deftly done. I am in little doubt that Islam will continue to have a say in the affairs of the Raj, but I am intrigued to see how far the Yuddhamakos is willing to in order to uphold the 'purity' of Hellenism.
 
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World Update #2 - 904 CE

Doctor Baby

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Since I don’t have a save from 900, this world update is going to cover 800-904, which is more interesting anyway because of the holy wars. I wrote most of this update before cleaning up borders for pictures, so apologies if I missed anything in my final pass of the text that changed with border adjustments. Not sure what precipitated the explosion of Catholic heresies, which I stopped referring to by their in-game names since all of the heresies used in the game arose after the 11th century, as far as I can tell. Might have to change the names if the Catholics don't re-assert control soon, but I haven't thought out what exactly that would be or what those heresies would really be about - probably the inability of Catholics to defend their realms from heathens or something like that. Much to think about! Anyways...

World Update - 904 CE

Religions of the world, 904 CE


Cultures of the world, 904 CE

More so than the remarkably-violent 8th century, the 9th century was a hundred years of conquest, turmoil, dissolution, and death. In Europe, the fall of the Orthodox Christian east had been cautiously celebrated by Catholics at the time as a potential end to the schism of Christianity. Instead, it spread, prompting the foundation of new fault lines throughout Christendom. The greatest of these fault lines had arisen in British Isles, where every major power had turned against the decadence of the church in favor of local heresies by the middle of the century. Continental Europe was the chaotic battleground of what became known as the Roman Wars, because they were precipitated by the flight of Christians from the eastern Roman Empire after its dissolution by Theodoricos, the decadence of the Catholic church in Rome, and the fact that the fiercest fighting took place in and around the Holy Roman Empire with concern to the future of that institution.



Italy was divided into two realms, with the south and central-east of the peninsula controlled by Greek pagans while the rest was nominally controlled by Catholics. In fact, Christian heretics were abundant throughout the countryside, equally opposed to the Catholics and the Despots. The efforts of the Greeks to convert the people had met with greater success than those of the Catholics, however, because the Olimpyans had some sympathy for the worshippers of Christ, where the Catholic Church could abide no dissent so near the holy see itself and frequently repressed and massacred heathens and heretics. The Italian Crusade represented a potential turning point in the decay of Italian Christianity, as it united the lands between Rome and the Alps under one Catholic king for the first time since the 830s. However, if King Nezir is unable to suppress the heretic nobility he has inherited as vassals, the security of Rome will be under threat once again with only the embattled Holy Roman Empire to protect it.



The situation in France was all the more dire. In the 850s, vikings from Sweden and Denmark both made landfall on the coasts, expanding their raiding activities into full-blown conquests. The Swedish vikings had secured all of Normandy and large tracts of Brittany, while the Danes had taken Poitou and Bordeaux. Smaller viking lords had taken the rest of Brittany and Flanders. In the south, the success of Umayyad forays into France had inspired an uprising of Occitan Muslims that had succeeded in gaining independence from both the Umayyad Badshah and the Roman Emperor, united more by cultural resistance to foreign rule than by religion. The Occitan kingdom was nominally friendly with the heretic lords of the Burgundian Confederation, their closest fellow hold-outs against the Holy Roman Empire, which had swept into France and Aquitaine following the Merohingi-Karling disputes of the early 9th century.



Germany had become the crucible of empires, as the sprawling Kingdom of Pomerania and the Holy Roman Empire swallowed their neighbors in a race to eclipse the other. Despite its great extent of territory, the Empire is split along cultural and religious divides that have nearly threatened its existence since its establishment by the Karlings in 854. The current Empress Irmeltrud managed to unite the faithful Catholic lords thanks to her diplomatic charm, and her rule has seen the heretics expelled from the Imperial heartlands of Alemannia. At the same time, the heretics fully control the countryside around the Rhine, and the likely successor to the Empire, Duke Oberto of Verona, has had little success expelling the heretics from his own demesne.

The decline of the Karlings over the 9th century has been a great blessing for Pomerania, which has seized a great deal of power in the wake of the Karling’s feuds. When Karl I was deposed by the Frankish nobles in 793 for his cousin, his taking of Saxony had not only ignited Merohingi-Karling disputes, but also left Saxony extremely vulnerable by exiting it from the Empire. The Pomeranians exploited that weakness, and by 904, Saxony was reduced to a backwater state of disconnected territories awaiting conquest by a strong Pomeranian king. Bavaria is in a similar situation. That Pomeranian monarch might soon arrive in the personage of Magda the Warrior, the heir apparent to the incompetent King Sambor of Pomerania, who lies on his deathbed from an infected wound.



Scandinavia, formerly the home of fierce vikings, had become a second heartland for Catholics thanks to the conversion of the Noregr and Danish monarchs to Catholicism. This seems unlikely to last in 904, as Holmger ‘the Confessor’ of Denmark seems likely to be replaced by his electors with a Norse pagan, and Gunnhildr of Noregr has failed in three battles to discourage the vikings of Gotland from their invasion.



The British Isles were the great bastion of Christian heretics from the 840s, when the initial wave of heretical uprisings was met by acquiescence from the nobility throughout the region. The final nail in the coffin for British Catholicism was driven by Queen Praxida the Great, who arose from a Sami village on the coast of the White Sea to lead an invasion of York, where she adopted the language and heretical religion of the Anglo-Saxons there, then conquered the other English lords to unify England for the first time since the Roman conquest, nearly a thousand years before. The only reigning Catholics left in the Isles by 904 were the Petty Kings of Somerset and Munster, who between them controlled very little territory. The only obstacles to the Picts and English were the Petty King of Ulaidh in northern Ireland, and the ‘Svidlagh’ along the channel coast, where the Swedish vikings had carved out a strong territory for themselves.



Eastern Europe and the western steppes were a melting pot of Slavic and steppe peoples in constant flux. While the western Slavs, Balts, and Finno-Ugric peoples remained disunited through the century, their disorganization allowed the Greco-Goths and Serbians to make huge gains against them. Serbian Pannonia conquered territory as far north as Lithuania, while the Serbian King Vuk had pushed the borders of the kingdom through Wallachia and all the way to the Dnieper in the north east, and to Thessalonike in the south. In both cases, it was the Gothic Olimpyan clans that stopped the further expansion of Serbia. The Itilos clan had broken free of the main horde in Gothia and conquered much of the Khazarian steppes and the Crimea, then turned north and subjected much of the Meschera and Mordvin tribes to their rule. By 904, they controlled the western Volga all the way up to Lake Onega.



The four kingdoms established by Theodoricos the Conqueror to rule the former Roman empire all remained in Greece and Anatolia, though with much-changed borders. Thrace had expanded greatly under King Kyriakos, who was regarded as the ‘Bodhisattva of Armenia’ for his efforts at converting the kingdom, from 875 until his death in 888, at which point the throne passed through his daughter to his grandson Sisebutus of the illustrious Soldaia clan. The kingdom of Anatolia suffered a rocky history since the murder of its first king Andronikos, having lost much of its territory to the Orthodox uprisings in the 830s, most of which were put down by the Tracians. The kingdom in 904 clung to its southern coast for life, forced to watch most of the lucrative silk road trade pass by on its way to Byzantion. Hellas and Epirus had both lost territory to the encroaching Serbians in 860-880, but made large gains in Italy that maintained their power while the Serbians were over-extending in the steppe.



At the same time that the Catholics were fighting to maintain control, the institutions of Islam were also struggling to survive, though their threats were mostly external. The long-standing Empire of the Arabs, centered on the personage of the Caliph, was destroyed by the north Indian Yonas, leaving Arabia, the Levant, and Iraq feuding between desperate Emirs, fringe religious minorities, and the seemingly-unstoppable march westwards of the Yona empire. Persia, under the rulership of Muslims for 250 years, was finally wrested back, and the worship of Ahura Mazda permitted once again. The Muhallabids, who had usurped the Abbasids for control of the Caliphate, had briefly lost it after the dissolution of the empire before reclaiming it once again from Northern Africa, where they were still recognized throughout the Islamic world. Despite their seeming fall from grace, the Muhallabids still control Arabia, Egypt, and the Sunni Caliphate in Ifriqiya, and nominally hold the Emirs of Daylam as vassals.



The true center of Islamic power had moved to Spain. In 904 the Umayyads still reigned over the Iberian peninsula, their rule only interrupted by Aquitaine in Barcelona. Christianity, on its last legs by the 850s, was nearly wiped out with the Christian kingdoms the Umayyads had destroyed. The only sizable minority of left was a heretical sect centered in Portucale, but with the Roman Empire paralyzed by heresy in its borders, it seemed unlikely that any Christian would reign again in Iberia for a long time yet.



In India, the Olimpyans’ early conquests in India slowed as the Kappadoki began focusing on the Islamic threat to their empire in the latter half of the century. The dharma marched on without them, calling the Guge kingdom in Tibet and the Tejapalid Malwan kingdom as home before the turn of 900. While the Hindus and Buddhists along the Sindh and Ganges had proven receptive to the dharma, the Jains of Rajasthan were more resilient, especially with the focus of the empire turned west.



The Tibetan Empire under the Purgyal dynasty suffered a number of setbacks in the first half of the century, but recovered much ground in the 880s and 90s as the rebellious Himalayan vassals slowly returned to the fold as a safeguard against the Guge Olimpyans.



The Rajya’s internal affairs changed drastically over the century. Through the early 800s, during the Bactrian period, the kings and their governors were focused on promoting the welfare of the Greco-Goths and the Hellenic religion. As time wore on and the impossibility of Hellenic Gothikoi supremacy became more apparent, the goals of the kings shifted to integrating certain Indian cultural groups into a mutual community with the Gothikoi, using religion as the primary means of bridging the gap between the Punjabi people and their overlords. From this arose the beginnings of the Yona culture, which was quickly embraced by the Kappadoki and used as a basis for empire. As the cultures and religious practices of the peasantry expanded with the borders of the empire, the syncretic religion of the Olimpyan dharma and the Yona culture struggled to integrate, necessitating an outside enemy to unify against. Local and regional conditions made the choice obvious; first it was the Arab empire and the caliphs, and when that fell, Islam itself was cynically engineered by successive emperors of the Rajya to be the enemy of all Indian people. The culmination of this in the anticlimactic Yuddhamachy seems to have put the truth to the lie, and it remains to be seen if the Yavanarajya can soothe its internal contradictions without an outside threat against which its disparate people can be united.


Religions of northern India, 904 CE


Cultures of Northern India, 904 CE
 
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HistoryDude

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Well, monotheism is dying... Didn't realize it was that bad.

Also, Thrace seems well on its way to uniting the Western Hellenes.
 
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My only remark is that it's incredibly stupid that Paradox used Badshah as the imperial title for Arab cultures when Imbrator would've been better.

Good work on the global round-up. Seems to me that the Muslims are doing fine. The Christians on the other hand are influx. Have you thought about modding some of the CK3 faiths into the game?
 
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Islam is still holding strong despite the loss of Persia. A religiously fragmented Europe seems ripe for the taking.
I'm pretty surprised that Denmark and Norway jumped on the Catholic boat just as it was sinking but, as you say, I suspect it won't last long.
Wow, there's definitely a biopic in there somewhere for Queen Praxida the Great! From Sami village to English Kingdom there is quite a story.
I'm very impressed that Thrace almost managed to reclaim the borders of the Roman Empire. Out of curiosity, what differences are there between Eastern and Western Olympians? Might a schism be in the works?
 
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Out of curiosity, what differences are there between Eastern and Western Olympians? Might a schism be in the works?
Oh, you're right. I wonder if there's gonna be a 3-part schism. The traditional reformed Olympian faith, the wild Olympian faith of the steppes, and the syncretic union of Indian and Hellenic polytheisms.
 
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An incredibly fractured world, but somehow it all holds together as being believable. I quite like the westward-shifted HRE, as well as the Danelaw on the French west coast. But does Christianity stand any chance for the future?
 
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Thank you everyone! Sorry for the lack of an update. While sticking some new duct tape on the mod to get it to do the next things I want, I broke it and now nothing is localizing. Trying to work around the ugly code in-game is more than I can stand so the next update won't be along until I have some time to get help fixing it.

Well, monotheism is dying... Didn't realize it was that bad.

Also, Thrace seems well on its way to uniting the Western Hellenes.
Yep, its pretty dire for the Christians. Despite everything in the AAR, Islam is doing alright with high MA and most of its holy sites. The Catholics also have a high MA right now but that hasn't stopped the heretics.

With the current broken state of the mod, I'm hoping right now for Thrace to slow down so I don't have to mod them a title besides the Byzantine Empire one, or else spend too long justifying why they wouldn't form some new empire. But it'll certainly be interesting (and probably a bit tense) if we get two empires following the dharma.

My only remark is that it's incredibly stupid that Paradox used Badshah as the imperial title for Arab cultures when Imbrator would've been better.

Good work on the global round-up. Seems to me that the Muslims are doing fine. The Christians on the other hand are influx. Have you thought about modding some of the CK3 faiths into the game?
Ooh, I like that. If I can get the mod working I might add that in for the Umayyads. I also thought Badshah was odd but I had no clue what else to call a Moorish emperor besides Sultan, which seems inadequate when he has two Sultans for vassals.

At this point I'm trying to mod as little as possible because I can't stop breaking it with small changes. But anything is possible! I do like the CK3 religions so far, I'm really looking forward to the ruler creator coming out for some more out-there playthroughs like this one in CK3.

Islam is still holding strong despite the loss of Persia. A religiously fragmented Europe seems ripe for the taking.
I'm pretty surprised that Denmark and Norway jumped on the Catholic boat just as it was sinking but, as you say, I suspect it won't last long.
Wow, there's definitely a biopic in there somewhere for Queen Praxida the Great! From Sami village to English Kingdom there is quite a story.
I'm very impressed that Thrace almost managed to reclaim the borders of the Roman Empire. Out of curiosity, what differences are there between Eastern and Western Olympians? Might a schism be in the works?
Praxida really is a wild character. I wish I had noticed her sooner but she really came out of nowhere and found wild success immediately, which was probably lucky for the Anglo-Saxons in the long term since it put a hard limit on viking conquests. Even without event troops she's a force to be reckoned with!

At this point, eastern and western Olimpyanism aren't too far apart outside of which Gods (or by which name the Gods are called) are being worshipped primarily. For various reasons I imagine the Greeks of this world are fairly open to religious ideas proliferating from the more east, especially with Olimpyans exclusively controlling such a huge part of the silk road. On the other hand, the temple itself hasn't been all that active, and I imagine there isn't a lot of theological debate or activity going on with so much focus on the dwindling 'threat' of Islam.

Oh, you're right. I wonder if there's gonna be a 3-part schism. The traditional reformed Olympian faith, the wild Olympian faith of the steppes, and the syncretic union of Indian and Hellenic polytheisms.
By the end of the game if not sooner, Steppe Hellenism will probably become distinct from Olimpyanism. I can see them embracing more of the aspects of Tengri with all the contact the steppe Goths have had with Altaic nomads in the last few centuries. Maybe in the future they'd come up with some kind of Poseidon-Tengri monotheism, if it seems like they have the will for it. I don't see that happening for awhile yet unless a very strong ruler can reunite the tribes.

As for an east-west schism, right now the Temple is fairly decentralized and doing well anyway. Practices and rituals are diverging in interesting ways between Delhi and Athens, but I think the Greeks of this universe appreciate the ideas that are spreading from the east, and the fact that the Temple is far less overbearing than the Christian church. Though if a future Diafotistis tries to ban animal sacrifice and meat-eating for all Olimpyans, I can't imagine Greece and Anatolia just going along.

At the risk of spoiling some of my plans, there is a schism of sorts I was working on when I broke the mod. More on that when I have some time to get it fixed and can continue the playthrough!

An incredibly fractured world, but somehow it all holds together as being believable. I quite like the westward-shifted HRE, as well as the Danelaw on the French west coast. But does Christianity stand any chance for the future?
Thank you! This has been one of the more successful games for Vikings that I've played, which is always fun to see. The Swedes having both sides of the channel is oddly satisfying, although as part-Norwegian, my home country is a little disappointing.

At this point I'm not sure how doomed Christianity really is- Catholicism has a weirdly high MA, and, even if they all regard one another as heretical, the HRE, England, and Pictland are strong enough for now to hold onto what they have.
 
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Sorry to hear about the issues! Feel free to send me the Mod code and I’ll have a shot at looking for the issue
 
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I think giving the Umayyads the Empire of Cordoba title would be a better fit. Since, while Imbrator is better than what Paradox picked, it's still an Arabisation of a Latin term.

By giving the Umayyads the imperial title of Cordoba that will ensure they'll always be called Caliphs whether or not they actually have the religious head title of Sunni Islam. Although come to think of it, what with the Abbassids falling from power it would make more sense for the Umayyads to return to the Caliphate.
 
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Sorry to hear about the issues! Feel free to send me the Mod code and I’ll have a shot at looking for the issue
That would be great! I'll send it tomorrow or the day after when I've got some time. Thank you!

I think giving the Umayyads the Empire of Cordoba title would be a better fit. Since, while Imbrator is better than what Paradox picked, it's still an Arabisation of a Latin term.

By giving the Umayyads the imperial title of Cordoba that will ensure they'll always be called Caliphs whether or not they actually have the religious head title of Sunni Islam. Although come to think of it, what with the Abbassids falling from power it would make more sense for the Umayyads to return to the Caliphate.
That's also a good point. 'Imbrator' sounds really cool but it I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me for the Umayyads to just claim the Caliphate for themselves again, considering the state of things.
 
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Part XIII: Ioannikos ‘Vidyaraja’


Investiture of Yahyanakosh by Ahura Mazda and Artemis, the Yona Iwan at Taq-e Bostan, 10th century CE

We, the warriors of the Yuddha Gods: Areyas, Mangala, the Polemos, and others; hereby declare the defeat of the Mallabaya Kingdom and the liberation of all Parsiya, from Khozisthan to Nishapuras. No longer shall the followers of the bodhisattva Zarathustra be persecuted, but shall be honored for their faith in the Gods which delivered them from their oppressors.

In honor of His Majesty’s wisdom and fortitude, we Yuddhamakoi declare this city and the province named for it shall now bear his name, ‘Ioannika’, so that His Majesty’s deeds shall ring through the ages. Let it be known forever that here His Majesty, Deyavotistas, Deivanampeos Megalyteros Ioannikos, Emperor of Yavana, King of Gotya and Delchí, Protathletis of the Wheel-Bearers, called ‘Sword of Brahma’, defeated the warriors of Islam once and for all.

By his deeds Parsiya shall now and forever be home to the dharma.


Inscription of the Yuddhamakoi Column, Esfahan, 910-20 CE

904CE
The Yuddhamachy ended not with a shout or a cry, but a whimper. It seemed, as the fervent holy warriors streamed back towards India, unbloodied, that Islam truly had been defeated in the hearts of its own believers, who had meekly accepted the defeat of their rulers at the hands of warriors they called heathen. Many such returning warriors, restive from lack of fighting, committed pillaging and violence against the Persian communities they passed through on the way back to India. Yet the Persians were happy to see them go, as only a fraction of them left; many were given lands and titles in Persia, and sent for their households and relations to join them in managing the conquered territories. The capital at Isfahan, renamed Ioannika in honor of the emperor, was the greatest beneficiary of these population transfers, as thousands of would-be courtiers, craftsmen, and other royal hangers-on relocated in hopes of quickly ingratiating themselves to whoever would be named the new Vasolayas of Parsiya.



To their pleasure, Parsiya was divided up quickly over the coming months under Rajkomares, most prominently Ioannikos’ 4th and 5th sons, Pantalyan and Suryadathes. Nishapras, which had been held by the Yavana Emperor directly since 892 to safeguard the Atash Behram near Jajarm, was given over at the same time to Ioannikos’ 2nd son, Eskandaryas.



Persecution of Islam had begun well before the end of the war, but now became official state policy in Parsiya. Islamic worship was punishable by lashings, imprisonment, or seizure of property, while teaching Islam was punishable by exile or death. The Rajkomares were only too eager to be given royal commendation to seize wealth and property. Imams and prominent Islamic noble families were targeted regardless of guilt, and the peasantry quickly found that they could not defend themselves against charges of secretly practicing Islam if they displeased their new lords.

While some Parsiyans adopted the dharma, most adopted Zoroastrianism in public and ceased religious practice in general or secretly continued to practice Islam. In turn, the Rajkomares sent their retainers or hired Kyjires, itinerant warriors from India or the Gothic steppes, to root out Islamic sects in exchange for a share in any proceeds seized from accused Muslims. Ioannikos, never a friend of Islam, turned a blind eye to these proceedings as the will of his entrusted vassals. Those of his lords who maintained order in Parsiya were commended, regardless of methodology, while those who failed to do so were generally made to undertake humiliating public rituals or great sacrifices to the Gods rather than suffering any real consequences.

By late 905, unrest at the oppression of Muslims and the excesses of the Rajkomares was rising quickly throughout Parsiya, as violent reprisals between Olimpyans and Muslims escalated. In early 906, a massacre of some 300 ‘suspected Muslims’ in Abarkawan nearly ignited a province-wide revolt, prompting Ioannikos to hasten plans to crown a King of Parsiya. That he chose his son Pantalyan in 905 was only surprising to those who had expected him hold on a little longer. Under Pantalyan’s light hand, Ioannika had maintained a level of peace and stability that had yet to return to the rest of the kingdom since the Yuddhamachy, and his philosophical writings on religion and frequent dialogue with the Sokratea and Ioannikos himself had endeared him to the emperor. He was crowned Vasolayas at the Giyan Sofia, the Kappadoki estate near Zarrinshahr, in the spring of 906.



Shortly thereafter, Rajkomaros Alaricos of Kerman, who had conquered much of the ancient kingdom of Gujarat, requested permission from Ioannikos to be crowned a king himself. Despite the danger of the growing power of the vassals of the Rajya, Ioannikos granted the request, and crowned Alaricos himself as the appointed representative of the Gods on Earth in a ceremony at Al-Haur. After the ceremony, which was well-attended by the lords of the Rajya, many of the attendees came down with fever.



Within a few months, what came to be called the Gedrosian Flu had spread to every corner of the empire, with the most lethal outbreaks occurring around Delhi and Ioannika. Its victims lingered on with fatigue, nausea, high body temperatures, and loss of appetite well after a normal fever would have broken, and it claimed the lives of thousands within the first months of its arrival in Delhi. In Ioannika, cases were fewer but more severe, with a higher percentage of deaths. By the end of summer, the situation in Delhi was drastic enough that Ioannika sequestered himself and his court away in the royal estate and refused all visitors, including family members from the Kappadokion.

In Parsiya, Pantalyan codified strict regulations against violent repercussions on Muslims, forbade executions for all non-violent crimes, and set strict limits on the seizure of property. Accusations of religious heresy were no longer left to the lords to prosecute, but were instead to be brought before a Dikisabha, a court of appointed lords who would determine guilt, justice, and amends in such cases.

The curbing of state religious violence and the spread of the Gedrosian fever helped to release the mounting tensions in Parsiya. With a percentage of the populace incapacitated at any moment, and the rest fearful of getting sick themselves, will to resist the king fell off sharply, especially in Ioannika and its direct environs. Alms distributed from the emperor out of the Silk Road tariffs also helped in relieving tensions and drawing together an empire that was rapidly expanding and growing unwieldy.




Near the end of the year, the empire was further shocked by the death of of Doryakratos Theodoric, Priest-King of Kosalas. In the midst of losing a war against the Tibetan kingdom in Nepal, the Gedrosian Fever had decimated the faithful in the great cities along the Ganges and robbed Theodoric of his will to live. Officially, he passed away in his sleep after a long meditation in which he communed with Ades, Lord of the dead. Unofficially, it was believed he had poisoned himself in despair.

Regardless of the means, no succession had been settled on for the kingdom, and so the Sokratea met to determine who should succeed Theodoric. It was the position of Ioannikos that the title should return to the Deyavotistas, the highest authority of the Temple, to be appointed. However, he wasn’t willing to overrule the Arkhierei, whose strong authority for themselves he believed to be necessary for spreading the dharma into the Deccan and Parsiya. Thus, the matter went to a vote in the Sokratea, which narrowly decided for its own authority in appointing the king. Shortly thereafter, candidates were nominated, and a little-known Hiereus from the Gothic communities in Zabulistan, called Thorismond, was selected as the new Doryakratos. As his first act, he negotiated a peace treaty that, while unfavorable to Kosalas, was still preferable to the continuing devastation of the debilitating siege of Bithor while disease ravaged the countryside.



Despite the continuing pace of the disease, 907 was a relatively quiet year, spent by most of the nobility cloistered away or on campaigns away from affected areas. Ioannikos’ correspondence with Pantalyan drew the two ever closer, culminating in the appointment of Pantalyan as Steward of the Rajya and his anointment as a member of the Companions. King Alaricos expanded his holdings in Gujarat, and Pantalyan seized a portion of the Caspian Sea coast from the Arab loyalists. Prince Suryadathes waited out the disease in the Qasrid Kingdom, gathering dissident warriors to help him seize Basra at some later date. Kashgar province, lost to Buddhist rebels over a decade earlier, was re-conquered by Apalodatis of Indikas.

These successes weren’t being mirrored through the Olimpyan world. Sogdia became mired in another civil war, due to Queen Viviana’s lineage: as a descendant of Megas Theodoric’s bastard Varshasb, and having inherited the throne from her father rather than conquering it herself, the true Kappadoki of the realm considered her illegitimate. Isauros of Khiva was appointed their leader and led an uprising in 908 that threatened to upend Queen Viviana and her husband Alaricos, Ioannikos’ second son. Regardless of the disastrous history of Theodoric’s descendants in Sogdia and Parthia, Ioannikos joined the war, sending some 5,000 men to Bukhara.



At the same time, war was engulfing the Tibetan plateau. Anini Pal’s son had proven to be a passive ruler, and in the absence of aggression on his part, a council of Hierei had taken command of Purang province and invaded Tibetan imperial territory in Xigaze. Ting ‘the Dragon’ quickly rose to pre-eminence among the council and lead the war effort to much success against the weakened Tibetans until their Chinese suzerains pledged support, hoping to maintain the status quo on the plateau. Though China proper wasn’t going to war, the Western Protectorate had received an expeditionary force that would easily sweep the Purang Olimpyans aside. Ioannikos decided to involve himself in the war, leading nearly 8,000 men himself to northern Tibet, where they intercepted half as many troops from the Protectorate and defeated them soundly.



Both wars came to a favorable close soon after the involvement of Yavana armies. By 910, Ioannikos had returned to the capital, his vision of an Olimpyan world seemingly fulfilled and then some. Diplomats from Delhi could travel all the way to Byzantion without passing through lands held by non-Olimpyans, though the fastest land routes still went through Armenia and Azerbaijan, held by Christians and Muslims respectively. The dharma was spreading in every direction, well beyond the boundaries he had envisioned for it, and everywhere it took root it seemed to become immovable. The emperor’s hand was heavy in the East, but in the West, where ‘Yavana’ was merely an exotic term for a far-off empire, the Olimpyan kingdoms had overtaken nearly all of their neighbors, and their meteoric rise still seemed poised to continue.

Yet through it all, the Gedrosian Fever persisted in Delhi and along the Ganges. It seemed to spread by trade, which continued to flow even during the worst of the fever in 907, but there was never any official effort to combat the disease itself, only to treat its symptoms among the populace, leaving it free to spread back and forth between Delhi, Mathura, Sthanivara, Varanasi and Bithor even through 910 and 911. In 909, it even claimed King Apalodatis of Indikas. When Ioannikos returned to Delhi from Tibet later that year, he sequestered himself away at the keep in Delhi, where supplies could be more readily maintained than at his palace grounds, and cut off the outside world except for by written message.



This was the unbroken course of 909 and 910, save for an omen that appeared to Ioannikos in his sleep in the summer of 910. In it, he saw his empire laid to waste and barbarians of the cross and the crescent ravaging India while heretics arose and rendered the dharma into shattered pieces. This ignited in him a fervor to destroy Islam finally in a great conquest of the Arab peninsula and the taking of Mecca. Plans were drawn up to go to war with the Shia muslims, who had only recently secured the peninsula from the Sunni Muhallabids. Before the year was through, the war was ready to begin, save for the calling up of troops to Delhi who would invariably catch the Fever and bring it with them.



By the time the fever did break in early 912, Ioannikos’ war-fervor had subsided. The Shia had shored up their numbers, and Basra, necessary to facilitate an invasion by land of Arabia, was a hotbed of rebellions and heresies that threatened to chew up any army foolish enough to try to cross the rivers there. The Rajya had something of a navy at its disposal, but it was only in recent decades that it also had a true coastline to necessitate such a thing. An invasion across the Persian Gulf would be costly and difficult against skilled Arab sailors, though it might be managed if the will was there.



In Parsiya, some in-roads had been made to the orthodox Zoroastrian communities, but for the most part, progress was slow and many Parsiyans held their rulers in contempt. In some regions where feelings were more amiable, dual rites were held to satisfy both the Hierei and the Mobeds, or the Temples coordinated to observe each other’s rites as well as their own without conflicting. This maintained stability more than Ioannikos’ repressions, but a gulf was beginning to grow between the allowances of Pantalyan’s court and the Sokratea.

Many of the mosques that had been repurposed as shrines and stupas contained no icon, or were oriented around a burning brazier. Spaces that the Yuddhamakoi had cleared for circumambulation in the same temples had now been arranged with floor mats for prostration towards the Atash Behram fire at Nishapur. Fire had its place in the Olimpyan dharma, and Ioannikos had respect for the Zoroastrians, who had survived centuries of persecution by Islamic rulers to maintain their faith, but he suspected these rites were being used to avoid confronting the Muslims of Parsiya about their heretical sympathy towards Islam. If they prayed towards one fire for every rite, if they did not circumambulate a reliquary and observe the jatakas of the many gods and their doings, and did not worship in the physical presence of a deity, their connection to the dharma was tenuous at best. Vilaksynan, Oikodomos of the court, was dispatched late in the summer of 912 to Ioannika, to determine the extent of the divergences and to ensure Islam was not being permitted by Pantalyan’s court, putting a great strain on the close friendship of Ioannikos and his son.

In the meantime, the Emperor retired to Theodorion. His son and heir Agateclaya had commissioned a grand statue of Ioannikos to adorn the grounds of the old family estate, and invited his father to break the ground. It was during the stay at Theodorion that he was introduced to the King of the Itilos tribe, Ioulianos, who by coincidence had been on a pilgrimage to the mountains and was staying with Agateclaya. In many ways, he was a successor of Theodoric too; his tribe had secured Khazaria against the Serbian slavs and conquered much of the Rus, bringing the dharma with him all the way to Moskva. His efforts at converting the Suomenusko had been met with heavy resistance, but he had persevered against much of it. In seeking his advice, Ioannikos became good friends with Ioulianos, who recommended a return to conversion by force: “Who can raise a sword to you, mighty emperor? They know in their hearts their god does not stand with them. Let them wear the armor of faith and see what protection it lends them against the spearpoint of a holy warrior. I have yet to encounter the barbarian whose Gods are mightier than ours.”

The statue at Theodorion was named ‘“Yuddhamakos Fotismenos”, as inspired by the words of King Ioulianos. When the emperor returned to Delhi in the spring of 913, he did so intent on forcibly resolving the Zoroastrian issue.



Oikodomos Vilaksynan returned from Ioannika shortly thereafter to report on the situation in Parsiya. Pantalyan and the Heirety of Parsiya were steadfast in their faith in the gods of Olimpos, and their belief that their new practices brought them into closer connection with them and inspired greater knowledge in a movement towards enlightenment. Yet Vilaksynan found they had little reverence for the Buddha or the Middle Way. They were more interested in ‘Pure Wisdom’, attained through esoteric rituals of cleansing fire borrowed from the Zoroastrians. Many of the peasants still worshipped Islam in secret, and in touring the countryside, Vilaksynan had found a number of temples that he suspected of harboring Muslim sympathies. Some number of Imams had even been allowed to ‘renounce’ Islam and lead Olimpyan rites at the same temples they had led as mosques before the war.

Such practices were greatly distressing to Vilaksynan, but Pantalyan had dismissed his concerns as overreaction. The rites he approved the Parsiyan Hierety to observe were those appropriate to the people of Parsiya, who he believed would embrace the Eightfold Path with time and a light touch.

Vilaksynan’s news travelled quickly At an emergency congregation of the Sokratea, it was decided that prostration was permissible as an act of devotion to the Gods, but could not take the place of circumambulation, and prostration towards Mecca, or in a direction in which Mecca lay, was prohibited as appearing to deceive the Gods. As such, it was enforceable by exile, dismemberment, or death. The Dikisabha courts of Pantalyan were stripped of religious authority, and all such matters were ordered to be brought to the emperor’s attention to appoint Arkhierei to oversee instead. The Sokratea further warned against the formation of sects, and urged the Hierety of Parsiya to bring their rites closer into alignment with those practiced in the rest of the Olimpyan world. Vilaksynan was dispatched to ensure the decree of the Sokratea was delivered to Pantalyan and to make observations of the king’s progress over the next year.

In Ioannika, the mood of the Parsiyan Hierety had already turned against the Sokratea. The decree against sectarianism and certain prostrations fell on deaf ears. Vilaksynan was given a false list of temples and regions where secret Islamic activity was suspected by the Hierety, and a group of companions escorted him on a wild goose chase through the country, chasing after false heresies, while the Hierei in Ioannika held discussions about how to pursue their own understanding of the faith in an empire that would likely declare them heretics. The more fiery priests called the Kappadoki - King Pantalyan, their highest sponsor, notwithstanding - no better than the Muhallabids and Abbasids before them. ‘Kherdayasna’ was not only compatible with the Legends and the Gods they had always worshipped, but was, to them, the most enlightened form of worship, one that brought them closer to the Gods than any other.

King Pantalyan agreed, and, in defiance of the Sokratea, issued an edict declaring himself an open practitioner of the Kherdayasna dharma in fall of 913. The sect quickly spread through the province, gaining footholds into Islamic communities which had fiercely resisted mainstream Olimpyanism.



News of this occurrence reached Delhi ahead of Vilaksynan, who was slow to realize the deception of the Parsiyan priests. Only Ioannikos’ love for his son kept him from declaring Pantalyan a heretic and sentencing him to death. Instead, he took up a correspondence directly, hoping to sway the ‘Stokadaraja’, as he had come to be known, from the dangerous course on which he had started. In turn, Pantalyan’s words did inspire sympathy in the emperor for the Parsiyans, who were understandably slow to embrace the dharma, having spent centuries resisting Islam and being persecuted for it. However, the Sokratea had been clear, and the matter of sectarianism was among the few settled doctrines of the dharma ever since the expulsion of the Prometheans; those who drew lines between followers of the Way were not, themselves, followers, but deceivers.

Ioannikos delayed the congregation of the Sokratea in 914, out of fear they would brand Pantalyan a heretic, by declaring war on Tibet, supposedly over persecution of Olimpyans in Kosalas. Both Ioannikos and his father before him had often been absent from meetings of the Sokratea for all manner of reasons, but as the Sokratea would have no choice but to address the goings-on in Parsiya, which directly concerned Ioannikos, the delay was accepted with little protest.



This would be one of his last acts as emperor. Ioannikos passed away in the royal litter on the way to Kosalas in fall of 914.

 
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DensleyBlair

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These sectarian troubles do not bode well at all for the empire unless some sort of settlement can be reached. The fact that some peace was bought via the coming of an epidemic of all things illustrates pretty well how bad things have become. If things are getting more stable when disease arrives, you know you've got a problem on your hands.
 
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HistoryDude

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The sectarians must be brought back into the mainstream.

Failure to do so will be disastrous...

Nice job weakening Islam, though.
 
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slothinator

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Lots of death all around whether by plague or by war, unfortunate omens abound.
The religious question will plague the Yavanarajya for quite a while now. I wonder if Ioannikos' death will help with reconciliation or only make things worse.
If the in-game description can be trusted, Agateclaya is the right Deyavotistas for this moment, maybe he will put his knowledge to good use and find a way to stabilize the realm.
 
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