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Amazing update! I loved the conversation between Petur and Konrad, there is something very cool about XIVth century explorers. :p It's a shame that the Norse never had any real interest in America. A king sponsored conquest, now that's something that should've happened!

Aranbeka sounds intriguing... But is it just a Canadian El Dorado? Or maybe the place in which the american reneisannce shall start, stoping the european colonists as they face unified nations?
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Vesimir: Aranbeka is just my alt-historical corruption of the New England El Dorado, yes. Canada has its own El Dorado, Saguenay. That said, I suspect both legends have something to do with the Mound Builders, something that both the proto-Passamquody and the proto-Ojibways would have potentially had contact with a few centuries before the French arrived.

I think the Norse may have had interest, but never had the muscle to attempt a whole lot of conquest and settlement. I gave Iceland a huge boost with the waves of newcomers from poor troubled Denmark. That said, the amount of muscle the Norse can summon is still pretty small, Petur mentioned the Duke of Brittany for a reason.

morningSIDEr: well, I just could't resist sneaking in that story about the Carthaginians trading in Senegal as told by Herodotus in, but really, that seems to be more or less the way trade was done historically too. I am sometimes tempted to really explore the storyline more, but my focus isn't there, sadly. So the story will continue, centered on Konrad, to its logical conclusion. I still hope it will be enjoyable though it won't run as long as the other storylines.

Thorgrim54: Thorgrim, King of the Dwarfs, or the one from Viglundar Saga? Congratulations on joining the forum and the AARland, it really draws you in, doesn't it? I am very honoured to have been one of the inspirations, but there are other AARs around, some really excellent as well. Most of the commenters on the thread are also of course also writers themselves - it's only natural :D

Genertal_BT: No need to apologise - I struck you wordless the first time round with the sheer brilliance of it all! :p :p

The Basques were actually very prominent in the North Atlantic starting from the 15th c. but I am speculating perhaps earlier. And they did have extensive contacts with the other early explorers and Iceland too, not always friendly. They will continue playing a big part in this for a while, I imagine.

The Cahokia and other mound-builders - it is concievable that even the Illinois-area mounds are still around and doing modestly OK; it's almost certain that the ones further down along the Mississipi are still doing fine, after all De Soto et al. found them so. That their brilliance is overstated seems obvious, of course. The coastal tribes wanted the crazy Europeans to go into the wilderness and as far away from them as possible I imagine.

Still, you know? As I told Vesimir, people really did search for Norumbega and Saguenay, but in Quebec and Maine. It never did occur for them to look for it in Illinois or Missouri, even in the 19th c. and if they did, they would have found something close enough to call it that.

Leviathan: Oh I know. But that's the closest I could come to conveying it in the intended way without embarassing myself trying to put in the accents. The probable original source word is "Kebek" which means "Narrows". Forgive me my Gaelic illiteracy :p :p

I completely agree that Labrador sucks. But there really were 16th c. settlements south of Grosswater Bay for whalers and loggers. I doubt they had sustainable populations until the 18th c, but then again they were Basques and here we're talking about the Norse (yarrrrr yarrrrrrrrrhhh!). So in an official sense, it's a colony. Realistically, in 1600 there would be say 5 or 6 coastal posts with a few pemanent settlers - trappers and traders - and temporary populations of whalers and loggers, almost all on the coast facing Vinland itself. Perhaps I should have moved the label a bit closer to where the settlements would be on the map. Still, thanks for the observation. I will keep that in mind.

asd21593: I hope the future America is interesting, for sure. I am of the opinion that our America is kind of boring and too dominated by a single culture and political system. I am definitely biased towards diversity, but I also don't want to go overboard with it.

Enewald: you know, I spent many hours into the early morning trying to answer your question from a scientific point of view. In short, I don't know. In more detail - there's the big killers - smallpox, measles - that people do develop resistances to, and there's other stuff that little can be done about - cholera, influenza. Then there's one other factor I won't mention just yet, but keep in mind it's still 1397.

There's the best case scenario and the worst case scenario. Best case scenario assumes that at the time of the Plague of Justinian the European population was as naive to the pox as the natives would be in 1397, and the rate of immunity development would be similar (mixing with the Norse and other Europeans, constant small-scale contact, constant non-catastophic selection). It also assumes the lower end of initial mortality (say 75%) and a decent level of recovery growth (like 19th c. Navajo, about 150% in a century and a half). The end result would be a smaller population in the 17th c. than the one the French and the English ran into historically, but also more resistant, and more used to practices that mitigate the disease, perhaps with mortality rates less than 30% (Europeans would be at say under 10% at this point). This would allow a big 19th. c. boom provided the same situation remains in all contact areas.

Worse case scenario assumes a higher (90-95%) mortaility rate, slower recovery, and immediate European penetration of the land following the native retreat. This could see the First Nations all but extinct by 1800. I don't want that, and will probably try to find more models to support the best-case. An easy way to do it would be simply to keep Paradox's "White Man" modifier unchanged, it's pretty close to the best case, but give it an expiration timer, so that it has no effect after 2-300 years.

That's my current thoughts on the subject, at least.
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ComradeOm: you're not demanding more history-book? I am amazed!
It just occurred to me that CK was made for these sorts of fascinating dialogue-led AARs, yet your CK effort was an incredibly dense (in the good way) history-book account

But then I am loving these conversations. The use of language, the way they flow, information conveyed, etc, is all top notch. And this is coming from someone who, as you note, loves his history-book AARs
ComradeOm: If I were doing the Year's Edudation again, I would probably be tempted to meander as much as I am now for Rus to Russia, and sometimes I am tempted to return to CK to do just that. I am, however, infinitely grateful for your continued support, readership, and commenting in the EU3 section.

What's this, RGB? Why, It's a map.

Introducing the AtlAARs

After some consideration I have finally made up my mind, got some courage, and made a map. It's not the world's most polished, nor does it have much to do directly with the game of Europa Universalis. However, it is a fairly accurate map by AAR standards, and pretty useful in its detail and relative accuracy even on the internet in general. Or perhaps would be, if it wasn't alternate history, which it is.

Why is this not just like the maps I include with every update? Well, because it's the first map of the Atlas - a detailed overview of important locations in 14th and 15th c. on the territory of future Russia. So why does the detail matter?

I'd like to say that details tell a story. Not only will you be able to find with great certainty where something is if it turns up in the story, but one can tell, usually at a glance, why the place is important. I will also often link back to the Atlas entries instead of redrawing certain maps so I can concentrate on other ones.

Secondly, the names tell, to those curious, much more eloquently than I have space for, their immediate history. They name the rivers they stand on, the people who founded them - some of whom you can find in Part I of the story - and sometimes, just where their first settlers came from - naming it after their home town or named by outsiders after their tribe, or perhaps named by the colonising Slavs or Tatars after the Balts and the Finno-Ugric people they displaced and assimilated.

Thirdly, the place names are also character names; in real Russia's history the area in the first map and just beyond its edges produced many princely families who attained prominence in Lithuania or Moscow, whose last names bear the names of their former fiefs: Vorotynsky, Belskiy, Baryatynskiy, Belyovsky, Kashirin, Skopin, Shuisky, Mosalskiy, Odoyevsky, Novosilskiy, Obolenskiy, Mezetskiy, Palitskiy, Shatskiy, Mstislavkiy, Miloslavskiy, Myshkin, Trubetzkoy, Volkhonskiy, Galitzin; some princely side branches or boyar families instead took on the nicknames of their ancestors; but then themselves left their mark on the map - Gagarin, Serebryaniy, Koltsov, Pozharskiy, Repnin, Odintsov, Gorbachev.

In my story, Prince Andrey also bears the name of his udel that he holds from the Khan - Bogorodskiy. These names are important.​




The washerwoman works all day
Her husband is for vodka gone,
The little curly-bearded dog
Sits upon the porch alone

The whole day it stares around
With its clever little eyes
And whines a bit outside the house
When it hears that someone cries

And who has cause to cry today
In this town Tarusa?
There’s one who wants to cry all day
Wretchèd girl Marusya

She is sick to almost death
Of the hens and of the geese
How they strut around the town
Oh so many, Holy Geez!

“But had I those flying feathers
And I had those beating wings
I would fly right through the door
Into spear grass myself fling,

So I would not have to be
Forever more a-looking
So the cockerels and the geese
Cease honking and clucking!

Oh what trial is Tarusa
For the girl Marusya -
Nothing but the hens and geese,
What a living , Holy Geez!

- Nikolai Zabolotsky, 1958

This is a poem - badly translated by myself, it's really much better in the original - about Tarusa, the seat of one of the Upper Oka (Verkhovye) principalities. The Oka, the Opolye that lies between it and the Volga, and the Zalesye that straddles Volga's both sides, would in most other Russia-themed games be the centre of the story.

It is a very underappreciated region; it usually gets lost, swallowed by the few mega-provinces that occupy the area in Paradox games, reducing the complexity of the region to almost nothing. Yet by rights, it should be as grimly romantic as any medieval heartland and the marches bordering it. It is there that Russia's civilisation retreated; at first shaken badly by the waves of Oghuz, Pechenegs and Cumans, the great Dniepr principalities eventually beat the nomads and turned them into allies. They could not, however, beat the Mongols.

The area on the map suffered along with the rest of Rus. Of the 40-odd towns and cities in the area, less than ten remained unburnt. Many were ruined more than once in successive punitive expeditions. Some were destroyed in the internecine warfare of the princes, who, emerging after a hundred years of spotty chronicle keeping, are to be found once again in control of their ancestral lands - though obviously not every town was lucky enough to gain a second chance at life.​


Nor, though you may see many parallelisms on this map, were the towns arising in the are pre-destined to become important. Moscow was a small place, and although well positioned, its road to dominance was rocky; so was Tver. The centre of the Zalesye was Pereyaslavl. This map brims with possibilities of different futures; some will end up like modern Vladimir or Ryazan, some like poor Tarusa, only attractive to poets seeking quaint village life, and some might become world capitals like Moscow did.

The feudal wars of the 1200s and 1300s are themselves worthy of several AARs (and if anyone has seen the film Andrei Rublev, this is exactly the setting) and the towns' dogged resistance behind the forests and the ever-tightening, ever strengthening walls of the abatis lines and the border forts and the military free settlements that eventually overcame the greatest nomad empire to ever exist, pushed back beyond the Don, and in the end colonised the steppes is at least as dramatic as real-life Reconquista of Spain.

Yet this is not the story I am telling; mine is a story of glory preserved, rather than reborn, of legacies absorbed and continued, rather than reinvented. It's a different story than it would have been had I been starting in any of the towns on this map - but perhaps the map can tell some of the story that I will not.

Regular update scheduled for this weekend.

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I love your maps . They're honestly quite meaty ! Even though we don't get an update , this is a lot to digest itself :D Well done !
Once again, your intricate knowledge of the region is on display, and beautifully rendered too. :) There's an update's worth of detail in that map...
Beautiful maps (and detailed), beautiful poem and beautiful paintings. I want to go to Russia now :(

Ах, родина...
Very, very impressive. As has already been stated, the maps themselves hold enough detail to captivate me just as much as any normal update could. Truly wonderful, as is the news that another update is scheduled for this weekend.
It might mean that I'm a hopeless Rusophile, but that text moved me.
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4th Dimension - I'm very honoured to have written something moving, and yes, Moscow really was the little city that could, as recently as the 1400s. At the same time - I must avert my own welling tide of emotion. Or perhaps it is too late....

Strange and mysterious
Towers of red gold
Cold as ice
But one who really knows you
He knows that a fire burns
So hotly in you...

Moskau, Moskau!

Thank you once again for your comment, and please forgive my moment of silliness.

morningSIDEr: thank you! In a way, I am used to writing updates based around maps, before I tried the narrative routes. Now I am making maps based on a story, but sometimes the temptation to make a map the centrepiece is too great. I hope the coming update will not disappoint either...

Enewald: you bet. I always have a soft spot for vanished tribes. However - since I got to write history since 1066! and considering that poor Zalesye was even worse off after this story's Mongol invasion than in real history, the Finnic tribes and the Goliad' will stick around for longer before assimilating linguistically because Slavic urbanization was certainly slowed down a fair bit, and it's my opinion that the cities were the engines of the assimilation process. So it's not as bad as you might think!

Milites: well. Ahem. I'm all Siberian; to me, Zalesye really is another country that happens to speak the same language, rather than Motherland in a pure sense (Russia is big!). But yes, it is beautiful, and laden with history, and deserving of a lot of work by the talented painters (including Roerich, who I have previously mentioned and whose works I've already widely showcased and whose sketches I used to illustrate the map) and the poets who wrote about it. Not all of them were as cynical like Zabolotsky, some wrote what can be only described as odes, even to Tarusa.

Thank you, for complimenting all three parts of my effort. It really means a lot to me.

General_BT: Thank you! I will admit that for me it was also very educational, to make the map. Writing the blurb was also something that required some thought about the meaning of the place to me as a bearer of the language and the culture, even if from far away. I may have a head start, but I am learning new things along with everyone who participates in this AAR as contributor, reader, or commenter.

canonized: I love maps in general. Some people including those who post on this AAR themselves make much better maps than I do, so I compensate by finding odd tidbits of data to make it interesting. Before you know it, the volume has grown so much it requires a separate key and a 1000-word explanation.


I am glad it was well recieved.

Thank you all very much!
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Strange and mysterious
Towers of red gold
Cold as ice
But one who really knows you
He knows that a fire burns
So hotly in you...

Moskau, Moskau!

Thank you once again for your comment, and please forgive my moment of silliness.

Germans singign and silly dancing?!? World was a lot crasyer place during the '80s that's for sure.
From Rus to Russia

Waves of Blood and Grass




Ivan stared at his uncle in fearful uncertainty. Andrey beheld his nephew with undisguised annoyed disapproval. The boy burst into the front room of the house all flushed with the excitement of the rough games in the Oglans' compound, covered in thick spring mud, but seeing his guardian's reaction instantly stopped the jubilant mood. At last he lowered his head and stared at the wooden floor and the muddy footprints he left there.

"You," Andrey said at last, grabbing his shoulder and pushing him ahead of himself "wash."

The basin of water in the store-room was cold. The boy shivered as he cleaned himself of the dirt and the grass. Andrey sat down on a nearby bench, cleaning the scabbard of the saadak knife with a bit of oil and cloth.

"Just what and who do you think you are? A tatar? Some drunk raider's oglan? What do you think we are doing here?"

Ivan remained silent.

"Well, answer me! I've already made my mind up about your punishment, you won't make it worse"

"I am of Rurik's blood"

"Ah, now you decide that. It helps when you're not all covered in mud. What does it mean to you?"

"We have a destiny," he repeated the oft-told lesson.

"But it eludes us - for now. What were you doin that was so important and muddy?"

"The Old Khatun couldn't find Mikai, so she sent Idree and Gantoo to find him. I was with them so I went too. He wanders off sometimes and she's too old to always keep watching him. He ran away through the kitchen and down to the alley behind the palace and almost to the meat row, but then there were dogs. We chased them off when we found him, and then afterwards I stayed with them because we went to find the dogs and beat them. Dogs should run scared of us, these didn't, they were bad dogs. And then we just played by the river with some other boys and shot at the reeds with Idree's bow. And then some of them wrestled"


"My brave baatur. Defeating monsters, drawing mythical bows. I hope you didn't defeat a prince with your mighty arms."

"You tell me not to. I could!"

"I also tell you to not go out without telling me, and I tell you not to wreck the clothes, and there's many things I tell you. It's good that you listen to me at least in this; don't beat any of them. You don't need enemies at your age."

"Idree's my friend."

"Idree, God willing, will be Khan one day. So don't beat him. So for this you skipped your lessons, wrecked your clothes, and nearly had me looking around the city myself, because those fool grooms missed your escape. St.Ilias give me strength, who do you think you are?

Let the Khan's kids play, that's all they do, anyway. Leave them with their grandmothers so they run around and get into trouble all day, no responsibilities, just pride and boasting, every one a little prince. Then they grow up, fine men all, and all they can do is shoot a bow and drink and drink and drink and maybe ride a horse when not too drunk. Can't count, can't write, can't say prayers without assistance. Then suddenly they're told they are supposed to do great things – rule Empires, lead armies. So they have to learn everything all at once. And some never learn -"


He shook his head.

"Soon all the people who do that for them – what, the Persians and the Jews and the Greeks and even our own – will run this place and the great line of the Khans shall wither. All their pride and all their glory will not help them. All because they ran around like puppies when they were young instead of coming home and studying like they were told. I ought to beat you until you get that, you know? All the wise men say so. Read any book."

Ivan's face went white.

Andrei looked at him sideways, then relented.

"Next time you do this, I just might. So, Rurik's blood – what are we doing here?"

"We're here so that we may win back Kolomna," he said, automatically.

"That's right. We won't be here forever. It's your birthright, Ivanushko. Long ago, when Vasili-Vsevolod ruled over the Orthodox world from Tsargrad, my and your ancestor, Mstislav Glebovich, was given a fief, a sloboda on the Kolomenka river for faithful military service of many years. And just down the Moskva, there stood Zvenigorod-na-Oke, from where the other half of your family came. Then, when the Khans first rode in from the south, they burnt both down; but Kolomna had no walls and the people dispersed, and in strong Zvenigorod they fought valiantly and were killed. So when Kolomna was rebuilt, the last Zvenigorod prince moved all his surviving people to the same spot, and built himself a terem on the opposite end of the village.


Sometimes they lived peacefully, and sometimes they fought. In a feud, Prince Gleb Kolomin killed Vasiliy Zvenigorodskiy, and ran for his life with his sons from his brother's town. He went to the court of the Khan, but died an exile. His son Yaroslav Glebovich served the Khan, and the Khan wanted to reward him Nichyeva Sloboda. But there was another, a Tatar exile prince by the name of Iskender Qasim, and he wanted it himself. Yaroslav had a dream in which the Mother of God told him to challenge Iskender, and he did, and won. That's why we call it Bogorodsk now, and Iskender took service in the field and won himself a new town, Gorodets-Qasimov."

Andrei put away the knife and took up the djid case, continuing to work with the oil and cloth.

"Qasim's tribe were angry at the humiliation and sent men to provoke yout ancestor, so he killed one of them in wrath; and the Khans – know this, Ivan – they consider our noble blood as less than theirs. He ordered his men to kill Yaroslav in retaliation, but let his son keep Bogorodsk, and Lev Yaroslavich was my grandfather. My father, he managed to secure the marriage of your father, Dmitriy, to my sister, and thus united our line with the last of Zvenigorod's. So you have good claim from both sides, and I will pass it to you after I die. Bogorodsk and Kolomna both, God willing. My obstacle is Fedor Svirilskiy. He is also my grandfather Lev's descendant, but some say his mother was heavy with him before she wed his father. Our claim is better, and that's why we're here."


He looked up, finally, from the familiar tale that he told mostly for his own benefit, to see the boy standing still and quiet by his side, dressed in whatever clean clothes were left.

"What is it?"

"You're getting the saadak ready for travel"

"I am."

"Are we going to Bogorodsk then?"

"No – but I have... a feeling...I have a journey ahead of me. It's good to be prepared."

"Should I help you? Go downstairs and get the horse ready?"

"No need – I'd have to do it all over again."


The boy looked hurt. Andrei frowned, got off the bench and put his hand around Ivan protectively.

"Oh, leave it be, I didn't mean it like that. The horses are big and you're too small. You can't reach everywhere and the warhorses won't take you seriously in any case. Besides, you're still to be punished."

"Yes, uncle"

"Because you skipped the morning tutors today, you're going to have to make up for it. Take some paper – yes, don't worry, paper – and write something to fill it neatly. Don't be fancy, be legible, and clean. People should be able to read what you wrote two hundred years from now, hear me?"

"It won't last that long! Father Gavriil says the world will end in a hundred years anyway."

"Well – you never know. Write it like you still want it to last forever."

"What should I write about?"

"Anything you want. Perhaps something you learned by heart before. And neatly! You'll be sorry if it's not."

"I will!"


"There's bread and fish left from this morning. Go ask Avdotko. Tell him I'm not sure how you slipped by him, but that he should grow extra eyes for that purpose by the time I come back"

The boy stared at him, stunned at the idea of many-eyed people.

"A jest. Go, start writing"

Andrei let the boy go, then straightened his shirt, thought about putting the formal kaftan on for the important talk, then decided on the russet deel, wrapping it around himself and finishing it off with a wide belt. Finally presentable, he left his house and made his way down the main road and into an alley shaded by the few stone houses in Sarai, taking a shortcut to the side gate of the palace, and finally to the front door.

"What is your business?" the captain on duty demanded lazily.

"The vizier wanted to see me about the hunting horses for next week," Andrei lied easily, and the captain waved him through pretending to believe. Though he wasn't able to secure an appointment with Togli Altyn for several weeks now, he was a frequent visitor over the last three years. There his luck ended; having passed the door he ran straight into the Khan's ceremonies minister, responsible to appointments.

"Andrei-baghatur," the man smirked, calculatingly, "it is nice to see you; God has blessed this day to bring about our meeting."

"Indeed, God is bountiful, Yerenkhebek"

"I was wondering, going through the notices yesterday, did you tire of sending requests? But I see you decided to come yourself. Very well."

"It will not take much of the Great Khan's time."

"Oh, I rather think it will. I was actually on my way to get someone to go to your house and fetch you. I hope you have your horse ready – the Khan has decided he wants to ride out today and you're to come with him."

Andrei looked at the minster suspiciously. Togli Altyn in the last few years had aged quickly, and turned from a stressed, thin young man to an irritable middle-aged one with too much flesh on his bones and little apparent interest in hunting. He once again banished the feeling that he should have forseen this – dreams had no power of prophecy, even if they spoke of hoofbeats. Then he went to get his horse, with an assigned excort watching over him.

The Khan was in the field by the river, just past the encampment of the royal Horde. The guards fell back, and Andrei slowly brought his horse up to meet his liege. Togli Altyn was riding in circles around a target post, with grim concentration sending arrow after arrow at it. His focus, however, was forced – perhaps one shot in three went astray. His horse, as out of practice as its master, made the occasional misstep, making matters worse.


"Great Khan," Andrei greeted him from a distance. There was no reply, just more circling, more attempts, more missed shots. The grass around the post was torn until the earth underneath it showed. At last, in frustration, Togli Altyn growled an obscenity, spurred the beast at the post and brought it down with the sabre. Making a small circle he came back to where Andrei waited for him.

"Ride with me." he said, "I have a question to ask you."

They rode.

"Did you dream about anything unusual today?"

The question shook Andrei badly.

"Great Khan – dreams have no power. That is heathen superstition. Only God knows the future."

"Yes, so you say. But what did you dream of? You must have, since it affects you."

Reluctantly, Andrei began -

"I dreamt I saw a falcon with grey wings flying above a white horse, like they were racing, and at first it looked like the falcon might have the upper hand...but the horse was joined by another, and then again another, and every time they grew faster, their hoofbeats so loud they drowned out the very beating of the heart. At last the falcon fell behind, and grew tired, and weakened...and beaneath him was a wide river."


"And then?"

"I don't remember."

"You dreamt of time running out, then. Ill omen."

"God alone -" Andrei began, but Togli Altyn cut him off with a shake of his head.

"My dream was different, but also disturbed me. I thought I saw a baghatur, a hundred feet tall, on a horse as big as a hill, all in mail, ride across the plain. His hoofprints left lakes behind them, and forests grew where his steel-tipped arrows fell and undid farmland. None could stand against him, and yet – yet – a hundred lesser ones came, and fought him, and every time he smote one another rose in his place. They beset him from all sides, until he fell, and the mountains themselves with him. What make you of this?"

"You worry."

"I do. I have cause. In truth, it's not as much premonition as proof of something I feared"

"And since you called me – it must mean that there's trouble with the North."

The Great Khan almost winced.

"I failed you, my friend, and more. This Kolomna business, it had only sharpened the knife that they kept hidden, ready to stab me. Not only did it give Vasily of Moscow a good opportunity to stand up to me, it also made their churchmen question the authority of Sarai. They will want intervention from Kiev's metropolitan. It could lose me what few loyal cities and princes I still have."

"I've become a liability."


"I will admit, you made things worse, but not the way you think. I was consdering, on advice from others, that winning you your patrimony was too much risk for too little gain. I was going to trade it away – it may hurt you, but it is my right. I gave you some land income from around here already. I was also going to reward you permanently with a fief somewhere else, perhaps in Yelets, after we brought those untaxed, unauthorised slobodas under firm rule. The worst thing is that it wouldn't help. Trading it away to Feodor or another of Vasiliy's pets would only give them more towns to draw strength from when they are going to confront me over the other land conflicts that fester...and if I cannot compel the strongest of them to bow to me, the rest of them will join him."

"So you will force Vasiliy to humble himself?"

"I've given permission to the noyons to start probing the land, collect the taxes early, burn a few pogosts if they must as a warning. But there must be a confrontation."

"He won't come to Sarai then?"

"He wont."

"So Rus will burn and both the Khan and his foolish servants will grow weaker."

"War is the way of princes, Andrei. You of all people should know that."

"So it really is war."


"Not yet. I fear this unhappiness of the priests; what if Keistut of Kiev decides to exploit it?"

"What can you do about it?"

"Send you to Kiev."

Andrei stopped his horse altogether.


"Not as an envoy – I need to decide on the gifts first. Nor as a spy, you're far too noble for that. But as something else – you see things differently, and you won't constrained by protocol or my agents there. I feel that it would do my cause good; and it would do you good."

"It must be something else. You're getting rid of me."

"It would help, yes, if you were not in Sarai in the next few turns."

"Whoever is telling you to do this should be himself be watched," Andrei spat out, bitterly "I say this as a friend."

"I'm not a complete fool, baghatur! I may have had to learn everything too quickly and alone, but I am telling you that I am not that foolish," the Khan, replied, narrowing his eyes angrily. "Still, I cannot say more. There are things still unclear to me, and telling you won't help.

Ah, by the Christ himself, I wish I didn't sleep through the last years. I thought I was awake and working madly, but I was really still asleep and only dreaming I was. While I slept, my enemies have surrounded me, and now I must find them in the dark."

"I'm not your enemy."

"Which is why I am sending you to Kiev. Maybe you can find out if it's worth sending envoys at all, and if not, maybe you will make it worthwhile. I have faith in this."

"When do you want me gone?"

"Soon. As soon as you can manage."


"He can stay in the palace for the time being. He's a fine oglan, your nephew."

"And this must be"

"It must. It is my will. It is also for the best," the Khan concluded with an air of finality, then turned the horse and headed to the city under the darkening sky.


Andrei returned to his house to find Ivan's head laid on the writing table, the boy deeply asleep. Next to him lay the paper, covered in letters written with a childish, but promising hand. Andrei picked it up and read it. It was an account of Oleg's expedition to Tsargrad, with fanciful descriptions of the boats on wheels flanking the chains that guarded the Golden Horn by land, full of fierce Rus warriors, destined to nail their shield to the gates of the Imperial capital. Despite himself, he smiled, because the boy's dreams were happier than his own.
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Strange and mysterious
Towers of red gold
Cold as ice
But one who really knows you
He knows that a fire burns
So hotly in you...

Moskau, Moskau!

Hah, '...love tastes like caviar'

What a most fitting description indeed!

As for this update, great success my friend. I liked the latent message of doom hidden within the dreams. The Khan might try to hold on to his power by shooting arrows that make forests, but every time he squashes a bogatyr more will rise to overthrow the yoke of the tribal hordes.
So Andrei's getting sent back home to watch/persuade Kiev to stay in line while the Great Khan moves north? Is there a Kulikovo in the offing, or will upstart Moskva get knocked down a peg? And something tells me if little Ivan's head is filled with stories of Rus glory before Tsargrad, should he ever become Prince he'll certainly join Moskva in testing the Mongol yoke, if not breaking it...
Cracking stuff. Interesting developments all round what with the Khan fearing for his reign and seemingly banishing Andrei to Kiev, although he has attempted to persaude Andrei that it is for his benefit he is being sent away, in what seems a gamble. It truly seems that events are conspiring against the Khan, even his dreams warning him of dire times to come, I look forward to seeing how everything pans out.

morningSIDEr: I guess that with the gift of longterm foresight, we do kind of know what happens to the Khans, though not this particular one. I think this one is still somewhat torn between the ideals of good rulership and the fractured, unreliable state he has won. Andrei is a small but important part of the puzzle.

General_BT: Good of you to bring up Kulikovo Pole - that's a corner of flat land between the Don and the Nepryadva. A topographic map of Russia would easily tell why that place is important

Ivan I think can already feel the invisible constraints that are being placed on him. I think it's reasonable to think he may want to shake them off in the future - but the interesting part is the road, not the destination, or so they say.

4th Dimension: Yes, falcons and eagles and such (swans are birds that consort with evil magicians, by contrast); of course that is complicated that "falcons" are symbolic for Slavs as well and the falcon is totemic for the Rurikids (like Andrei Bogorodskiy for example) in particular. The dream is ambiguous, I think.

Enewald: deceptively simple question. Truth be told it's hard to say, but here's my multipart reasoning:

1. Sarai is a very large city based around a small permanent core (a few thousand) and many more semi-permanent "pastures" assigned to various tumen related to the noble clans, perhaps up to 50-65 K; this means it rivals or exceeds Kiev itself and is one of the top 10-15 in Europe, Middle East and North Africa.
2. It depends on what is meant by Mongols and Russians.

- True Mongols: there are just five noble clans besides the royals, and one partially transplanted ethnicity (the eponymous Tatars); that is probably a very very low number, perhaps less than four tumen, nominal divisions of 10,000; so with women and children included, less than 60K for the entire Empire.
- Including other Nomadic Christians: including the Qoban Horde, the Eastern Kipchaks and the Nogai - a much more substantial number, maybe up to half a million or more.
- Including settled and semi-settled Turcic speakers of all religions (Kuzaris, the Five Muslim Nations, the Caucasian Karakalpaks) - up to a million.
- Including other non-Slavic and non-Finnic settled people (Alans, Circassians etc.) - 1.2 million
- Including peripheral nomads (Bashkirs, Kyrgyz) - 1.5 million.

The number goes up somewhat higher if we add Orda's Ulus, and substantially higher if we add Shayban's Ulus.

- Russians (East Slavs) by 1400 in everything we today would call "Russia" - about 6.5-7 million.
- Excluding Lithuanian lands, about 5 even
- Excluding Kiev, Novgorod and their dependencies (i.e. Khan's vassals) - about 1.5 million.

This brings Russians:Turcs/Caucasians to about 1:1; however, when you factor in the still-numerous Volga Finns, Perm peoples, and others, this becomes 2 mln to about 1.5. This of course does not mean that demographics will in any way reflect military alliances. Also keep in mind that farmers' populations are growing faster than the nomads'.

Milites: Salty, fishy and endangered? Love? Indeed.

As for the imagery, I think you caught out more than I directly meant, which is always a big perk to reading comments on your work. Sometimes the reader sees more.

Thank you all very much for commenting. It is very important for motivation!

Update by mid-week.
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