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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Fivoin

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This is the AAR-thread for the CK phase called "God of Our Fathers" of the Megacampaign "Recessional". The campaign is a Megacampaign and starts out in CK2 and is intended to continue until Hearts of Iron through EU4 and Victoria 2.

We start out journey in Europe at the start of the 13th century. In the east, the Byzantine empire is beset on both sides and looks to be on its last legs while the forces of Islam musters against the invading crusaders in the Levant. In the west we have a stalemate in Iberia and war between the English and the French on the continent. What kinds of opportunities can be built from these conditions? Will Europe be thrown into centuries of war or enter a period of trade and prosperity? Time will tell as we look to the God of Our Fathers for answers.
 

King of Men

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Index of "Azure Three Bezants", the chronicles of the Aiello family of Venice.

  • Azure Three Bezants, in which we learn the origin of the dynasty's arms: Azure for the sea, and three coins for the wealth that comes from it.
  • The Return of the Three, an account of a fairly unremarkable meeting between two successful and wealthy merchants.
  • Requiem, in which we learn something of, and from, rites surrounding death.
  • The Taken Sacrifice, on the sad fate of Isacco, eldest son of Abramo.
  • The Gift of a Knife, in which the symbolic significance of cutlery features prominently.
  • The Noble Science of Heraldry, in which we learn more than most of us ever wanted to know about blazons, tinctures, crosses voided and otherwise, and raguly.
  • Long Memories, in which a genteel and unviolent revenge is visited on a generation that did not commit the crime.
  • Letters from a Siege, in which two campaigns are waged: A military one to take a city, and an epistolary one for a higher allowance.
  • Six Narrow Escapes, in which a Venetian patrician serves the public by joining the army.
  • The Arguments of Kings, in which the resemblance between royal diplomacy and modern high schools comes to light.
  • The Wolf on the Fold, in which a grudge nearly two thousand years old has geopolitical relevance.
  • The Siege of Lost Cyrene, in which we learn something of the horrors that lurk behind apparent normality.
  • Captains Three, in which we turn from horror to farce.
  • Heralds Errant, in which we combine the two by putting colour on colour.
  • Dreaming of the Desert, in which we learn something more of the horror in Egypt, through one of its victims.
  • Special Thanksgiving Edition, in which we meditate on the nature of gratitude as practiced between states.
  • Persia Cannot Hold, in which the first open blows of the Long War are struck.
  • The Siege of Venice, in which we turn our attention from swift, decisive campaigns that shatter empires at a single blow, to squalid colonial wars that drag out for years.
  • The Relief of Venice, which turns out to be a bit of a draw.
  • The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, in which a new explanation for the Collapse of the Twelfth Century is proposed.
 
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dragoon9105

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Index for

l2X0rW1.jpg

Tales of the D'Mertagne Dynasty


Chronicle 1: Men in Tights : Where a Particularly Merry Band of Men fire a shot heard round the world
 
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Foelsgaard

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Since we're getting close to the next session.

Mupdate for 12th of September 1222.

tuK3Oxi.png


Notes:

  • Baronbowden is by far the big dog, having become King of England within a year and Emperor of England before the session was over. With an early lead like that he could very likely secure himself a dominating position for the rest of the CK2 era unless he decides to go for the win immediately. Either way he will definitely cause some existential problems for his immediate neighbors.
  • Runners up seems to be King of Men (Venice), Fivoin (Skåne), me (Kiev), Dragoon (Aquitaine), and Fimconte (Khorasan). All these players are expanding at a decent speed. King of Men is the only other player to have achieved a king-level title (Doge of Venice).
  • Oddman (Syria) and Clonefusion (Altay) are expanding, but not quite at the same rate. Clonefusion is apparently still a count because of money issues and this has stunted his growth somewhat.
  • Zirotron (Celle), Jacob (Bourbon), Anders (Barcelona), Yami (Transylvania), Kuiperdolin (Egypt) and Synario (Tunis) appear to have some initial difficulties. Zirotron looks especially vulnerable compared with Fivoin's growing domain. This could change next session as a few solid wars or clever inheritances can be enough to secure that critical mass of land.
  • Andre (Tver) was late for the session and lost one of his counties while absent.
  • Poor Blayne (Aegean Islands) did not survive the first session. He lost his army and one of his starting counties to invading greeks. Then his vassals rose against him. He is expected to start over with another county next session.
  • Southern France is a bit of a clusterfuck, with two players being vassals of England. I don't know how to show this clearly and it looks kind of ugly now.
 
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King of Men

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April 12th, 1145
Laguna Veneta, underwater
Afternoon

There was a spoor of blood in the water, and the shark followed it. There was no deliberation in it, not even in the dim way that a shark can be said to think. The instinct had been honed since the Paleozoic; to follow blood was to eat, to live, to breed. The message went from the receptors in the nose straight to the fins, and the chief predator of the lagoon moved sleekly through the murk, towards the scent of vulnerable prey.

The shark's attention, such as it was, focused on the stirrings and scatterings of the smaller fish out of its path. Let one come close enough, and the brain would override the pure instinct that drove the powerful body; the jaws would snap left or right, and another little fish would join the uncounted millions that had sustained the Earth's oldest phenotype in its long survival. But none did, and there was a faint shadow of disappointment in the shark's mind as the scent of blood became so strong that the prey had to be near. Then the spear descended through its spine, and for a brief moment there was surprise, and something that might have been called indignation. Instincts evolved through four hundred million years were useless now, and worse than useless; for there had been no spears, in the ancestral environment. In the flash of a mere thousand generations, something had changed; and there was a new chief predator in the lagoon of Venice.

April 12th, 1145
A boat in the Laguna Veneta
Afternoon

"Eh, it's a shark. No wonder we're not getting any fish."

"This one won't be eating any more of our dinners," Salomone pointed out.

"That's true," Benedetto said. "But we won't be eating it, either - nobody's that hungry. Throw it back in; maybe it'll attract something edible."

"Hang on; Eliezer will pay for shark balls." Salomone reached for his gutting knife. It wasn't meant for shark skin, and he'd have to sharpen it when he got back on shore; but money was money. Besides, as Benedetto had said, there weren't any fish to use it on.

"If he has any money left," Benedetto said doubtfully. "Or do you think he's learned to turn lead into gold yet?"

Salomone shrugged. "He thinks he can cure old age, or anyway that he can convince a customer that he can cure old age, which is almost as good. Sharks live forever, apparently, so they're good for youth elixirs."

"That one didn't," Benedetto pointed out.

"Unless someone kills them," Salomone amended. "Anyway, what's it to you, if Eliezer pays me? I don't see you doing any of the work." The tough sharkskin resisted his knife powerfully; he cursed as his hand slipped, abrading his arm, then gritted his teeth against the instant sting from the salt water. Annoyed, he sawed the knife down towards the shark's head, slitting it open. Perhaps he could convince Eliezer that the liver and heart were worth as much as the balls; and the guts would work better as bait if he flung them out separately.

"I'm still getting the smell," Benedetto grumbled, but he returned his attention to the water. Salomone had to admit he had a point about the smell, but it wouldn't get any better if he stopped, so he drew his knife down to the head with a small grunt of effort. He'd opened the intestines, he saw; the sharkskin had resisted him almost to the limit of his strength, and limited his usual fine control over where his knife went. Grimacing, he reached in and pulled them out anyway; there was no use in being squeamish at this point. He pulled out a long, glistening strand of intestine, leaking shit and blood, and was about to chuck it in the water when something metallic clinked.

Sharks would eat anything, including belt buckles, earrings, and whatever other metals their victims might be wearing - but the clink had not sounded like any metal Salomone was familiar with. It had a sweet ring, not the flat harshness of iron or the cheap clangor of brass, not the shallow clash of tin, not even the pleasant tingling of silver against silver. It sounded like - Salomone spotted the obstruction, the place where the intestine bulged around something the shark had eaten, and chopped. The intestine parted easily, and a leather purse, slimy with shark juices, dropped onto the little boat's deck; its contents rang out again, a sweet forlorn sound of wealth abandoned and alone.

Like all their family, Benedetto had a finely-tuned ear for the sound of money; now he turned like a shark's head snapping prey out of the water, while Salomone incredulously grabbed the purse and shook three coins out onto his hand. They were tiny, the size of his thumbnail; but they shone in the sunlight with the unmistakable richness of pure gold. Bezants, the ancient currency of Constantine and Justinian; no Arab imitation or diluted Frankish fakery, but the true coinage of lost Rome. They lay heavy in Salomone's hand, with a weight far beyond their three ounces - and it would be exactly three ounces, he knew; no shaved edges or impure alloys here.

"Gold," Benedetto whispered; his eyes shone. "We're rich." Salomone's head snapped around.

"We?" he said mildly. "Each gets his own catch, that was our deal this morning; your boat, I row - and each his own. And you wanted to throw the shark out of the boat."

Benedetto's jaw clenched, and his grip tightened on his fishing spear. Salomone shifted his stance, unsubtly, making a fist around the bezants and moving his left hand to guard his right, which still held the gutting knife - blunted, now, but quite good enough for merely human skin and guts. Benedetto was a year older, taller, broader in the shoulders; his arms weren't tired from rowing, and he had a spear that gave him the reach over Salomone's knife. But something he saw in Salomone's eyes made him hesitate; and hesitating, he was lost. After a few seconds he realised that he could not make the decision to kill, not over money - and that it would be to the death, if it came to a fight, for Salomone could. His shoulders slumped, slightly, and he loosened his grip on the spear.

"Fair enough," he said. "Each his own. And you'll row us back."

Salomone's lips twitched; that was vengeance, of sorts, since Benedetto usually rowed the return stretch - but it was fair enough. "I'll row," he agreed.

The killing tension leaked out of the air, and Benedetto cocked his head in curiosity. "What are you going to buy, then, with your catch? You won't need Eliezer's money now."

Salomone opened his left hand again, to look at the coins; still there, still gold. Three ounces of the pure metal was wealth, not only as the back-streets of Venice counted money, but a significant sum even in the better districts. Three bezants could feed the extended family for a year; or buy a house, or a real fishing boat that could go out into the deep water, or two sets of clothes for everyone down to Salomone's youngest brother... Salomone smiled grimly. And then what? The year would be over soon enough, and then they'd again go hungry once a week. Clothes wore out. A house, it was true, would save them rent; but such a show of wealth would bring in distant relatives from as far as Alexandria, and what they gained in rent they'd lose in feeding additional mouths. A fishing boat was better; a boat was a productive asset. But then Salomone would have to work it himself, and what did he know about deep-sea fishing? And it was a chancy livelihood, though better than the odd bits of dock-work and loading that sustained his father; even in the sheltered Adriatic, storms killed men every year.

"Buy?" he said, as though the idea was new. "No, no. I'll sell my shark to Eliezer, and he'll pay me in coppers; and I'll buy food with that. Gold is not for buying. I'm going to invest."

AzureThreeBezants.png

You'll note that the above occurs rather before the start of the game in 1204; Salomone is the father of my starting character Abramo. I'll be posting backstory for a couple of sessions. However, so as not to have my narrative AARs be completely disconnected from game events, this time around I'm also going to have a section of ingame reporting after the narratives; and here it is.

I am playing the patrician family Aiello of the Serene Republic of Venice. In accordance with our custom game setup, I started with three counties - specifically Treviso, Istria, Aquileia - but not as Doge; and I had only two trade posts, neither of which dominated its local trade zone. I was, therefore, unusually poor as merchant families go, though relatively rich in levies.

Adriatic_1204.png


Venice and surrounding realms, summer 1204.​

Looking around the Adriatic, however, there were no very obvious opportunities for me to use these levies; almost everything was held by powerful empires, or else I had no useful CB. I therefore fought only three minor wars in the initial stages of the game:

[*] I made the independent republic of Ferrara a tributary.
[*] After getting a claim, I conquered the free city Ancona.
[*] I seized a trade post of the rival family Ziani; it was one of five surrounding the Cilician Sea, south of Turkey. Of these five trade posts, each was held by a different Venetian family, meaning none of them had the trade zone! By taking the Ziani post, I got a plurality and thus had my first trade zone.

Abramo_Aiello_1214.png


Abramo Aiello in 1214; not yet Doge, but already a scarred veteran and a leader of men.

I also built a few new trade posts in the Levant, and thus created a connected trade zone of four provinces, considerably increasing my income. That was just as well, for the AI now apparently will actually use gold to get elected Doge. In the election of 1208, when Abramo was 20, I had no chance against men of 60 and didn't waste my ducats; but in 1216 Abramo was 28, and also had considerable prestige. Nonetheless it took me 800 ducats to get him elected, and it was touch-and-go at that - several times I checked the Republic panel and found that the dang Morosini had put in another 50 and edged ahead of me again. But in the end my pockets were deeper than the AI's.

As it turned out, 1216 wasn't a good time to be elected Doge; Venice was at war with Serbia over our city of Veglia (in the province Dubrovnik) and with Sicily over Malta, and was losing both wars. I therefore immediately raised the Aiello levies and a mercenary company, and sailed south to the Serbian coast, defeating the Serbian army and retaking Veglia; a white peace was signed a few days later. I could have held out for the surrender, but time pressed - the Sicilian warscore was in the negative eighties, and King Frederick was getting ticking warscore from holding Malta, and besieging Crete. I therefore sent my army - a vast host, more than five thousand men - to Malta and retook it, happily beating off several piecemeal attempts by the AI at landing a relieving force - apparently the election AI has been improved but the invade-an-island AI is still very bad. With most of Frederick's army gone, and his sister rising in revolt for the throne (his sister, incidentally, is married to Emperor Bob of England, whose nickname should obviously have been "the Builder" ), it was easy to rescue Crete. The end of the session intervened, but a few days after the next one opens I will crush his last army and impose a full surrender, following which no less than two claimants will fight it out for Frederick's throne - in addition to his sister, there's a southern Duke. My money is on the character who is married to a human player, but who knows? The RNG giveth, the RNG taketh away.

So I am Doge in my thirties, I have established who is boss of the Adriatic (incidentally, Serbia has also gotten into a civil war; moral: Don't mess with Venice), and I have a good income from trade. So good, in fact, that people seem to see me as Rich Uncle Pennybags in person; three separate people have asked me for "loans". All are worthy causes, but while my pockets are deep they are not infinite; some triage will have to happen.

My immediate goal is to strengthen my grip on the Adriatic, and to expand my trade in the Levant. In the end, all wealth comes from the sea.
 

dragoon9105

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Chronicle 1: Men in Tights

RlNAzYx.jpg

In the Gardens of Toulouse Robert (Bob) Shrewsbury, Richard D'mertagne Georges Danton met in secret. With the Death of Richard the Lionheart his incompetent Brother King John the first had taken the throne of England. It is unknown what they discussed on that Delightful day in southern France, but thier mutual goal was clear. John was to die. Also that the Weather in France was quiet pleasant.

0wZ6p40.png

Richard sent messages through England asking for support in a plot against the King. Bribes were given but one reply in particular was sent back.

The Writer of the letter was a Mr Tuck. Replying on Behalf of an outlaw company calling themselves the Merry men. A large sum of Gold was paid. Then the Duke to be, waited and waited.

ekXibmF.png

And so ended the Reign of the last Plantagenet, his Heretic Wife leading to the Rise of Bob Shrewsbury And the Dawn of the British Empire seven years later. In exchange for his Service Robert I was named Arch-Duke of Aquitaine. De-facto Viceroy of the entire region. Though it will take some time for the Local Lords to accept the new Upstart Englishmen in Toulouse. For years people would speculate about this Miracle arrow, or how many bowmen shot arrows at King John. A conspiracy to Usurp the King, French Plots. Most of it was Fickle. Richard would later publish the D'mertagne Commission. Confirming that a single Shooter, a Mr Robin hood was the sole and only assailant, and his immediate assassination after his arrest by Bob Shrewsbury was merely a coincidence.
 

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PROLOGUE – The Highwayman
Deep in the Western Egyptian desert, 1203

And then they were two.

Ever since they had run out of water both Alis got along as well as they ever had, that is to say, they ignored each other. They no longer cast nasty glances at each other, no longer thought of sticking the other man for his last gulps, no longer worried of the other Ali thinking the same thing. They just marched in the same direction through the trackless desert, at the same haggard pace, which perforce kept them close, although they did not talk or even acknowledged each other’s presence. Ali had no way of helping or using Ali; between such men, this meant there might as well have been leagues between them.

They trod the scorching sands beneath the white-hot sky, their shadows short under them. They climbed dune after dune up and down, breath short, lips parched. The only obvious direction was that left by their trudging footsteps, eastward to the most immediate death; assuming, of course, the sultan’s men was still on their heels. Maybe the soldiers had lost or abandoned their tracks. It did not matter: they were too deep in the desert anyway to turn back and hope to reach a well in time. They had to trust the map.

The map…

They had been twelve, three days before, when Big Ali had brought it up again after their meal under the stone overhang. When he went on about his map it was hard to see why Yusuf kept him as a second lieutenant.

"I swear! That old scholar had to know what he was seeking. It must be some old temple or something..."
After months of this no one even bothered arguing.
"With riches! Riches beyond our wildest dreams!"
Kader was snoring as usual, curled in a ball against the red sandstone. Yusuf spat in the fire and answered with a snort.
"We're not leaving this sweet spot to look for Allah-knows-what three days out in the desert." He glanced around, fingered his dirty beard and smiled. "Someone might steal it from us."
Badreddine chuckled ingratiatingly, as usual.
“The cross has to stand for something,” Big Ali insisted.

Then two whistles rose from down in the pass, and the unmistakable cry of a man being run through. They were eleven.
“Soldiers!”
Husain kicked Kader away, and they hurried down the second path at the back of the escarpment. Badreddine hurried do much, fell screaming, and then they were ten, nothing to do for it. A squad of soldiers were waiting for them, sultan’s men in real armor, not some wali’s phony tough. Muhammad cut two down before taking a sword in the gut, and then they were nine; Majid got an arrow through the throat, and they were eight.
The Rafiq brothers tried to fight on, desperately, but the rest of them ran up a gully where warm, sharp stones rolled under their feet. When they could not hear the brothers they knew they were six.
“We run east, Yusif decided. Try to lose them through the hills.”
Husain had a deep gash on his thigh, and could not keep up. When he fell for the second time Kader cut his throat, and then they were five.
That night they were at the edge of the trackless sands. From the hilltops they had spotted several armed parties surrounding them. The sultan had clearly had enough with highwaymen on the road to Tobrouk.
“What do we do?” Kader ask. They still had their swords, and daggers, and Omar’s old shield. They had some water in their goatskins, one day’s worth maybe. Not nearly enough to reach the first well out there.
“We can try to follow the map”, Big Ali said. He took it of his pocket, withstood Yusif’s angry look. One day south-west to the rock that looks like a goat’s head, half a day straight south to a dead tree, and a few hours north-west-west, and we reach the cross.”
“Fuck your map”, Omar said. “Make yourself a kafir if you want one.”
“The cross has to stand for something. Anything. It is our last chance.”
“We’re out of chances,” Omar went on. “I say we surrender.” Then Yusif slashed his throat from behind, and they were four.
They marched the whole night, and dusk found them at the goat’s head rock, panting, almost out of water. Yusif had lost some blood, and was limping. He arrived at the rock last, and when he saw hios men’s faces, he understood. And then they were three, both Alis and Kader.
They rested for a few hours, in the shade of the rock. By noon they glimpsed the first soldiers after them, a whole score of them on foot, with two well-loaded dromedaries. No hope facing them. They kept marching, straight south, under the white-hot sky, they feet sinking in the scorching sand. There did not seem to be any wind through the dead, suffocating air, but still sand got in their dry mouth, in their eyes, in their hair. When they found the dead tree Kader collapsed in its checkered shadow.
“Make it fast,” he just rasped. Then they were two.

And now they marched, together and alone, staggering with thirst and exhaustion; if the soldiers had kept a brisk pace they would have overtaken them buy now. No doubt they had decided to rest at the rock, or at the dead tree, or in the shadow of a dune, to resume the pursuit late in the afternoon, after the worse of the heat. Their quarry left a clear track anyway.
The two last highwaymen walked and walked, grimly, climbing up and down each dune. Then Big Ali stopped first on top of the last one, panting, laughing. He turned and held a hand for the other one.
“Look.”
Young Ali took it warily, hauled himself to the top of the dune and stood there panting too.
“The cross stood for something.”

In front of them there was a small, pink cliffside, half engulfed but the sand. And in its middle a rectangular opening, too regular not to be man-made, a door. The X stood for something.
They rushed to the shadow of the stone corridor, and with a joy few men can understand, smelled water. There was a whole puddle of it, accumulated from drops dripping from the ceiling, rotting the frescoes of beast-headed men.
They fell on their knees and drank, like dromedaries from a trough; it was fetid and delicious. Finally they fell on their back, looked around.
“It’s a polytheist tomb, Big Ali said. Heathens.”
The deeper part of the corridor had intricately etched walls, inlaid with a complex lattice of gold thread. Beyond it two stone doors barred the way, shut tight with three clay seals over them.
‘”We are the first to come here since… How long?”
“Riches. Riches beyond…”
And then Young Ali slashed his throat from behind. And he was alone with the riches of the tomb, chuckling at his good fortune. He broke the seals and slid the massive stone doors apart, more easily than he would have thought, especially in his weakened state.

And for one brief, dread moment in the dark they were two.

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This time I am playing Ali Anubid, an ambitious young man in Northern Egypt. Wish me luck ! Or else.
 

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The Rurikid Gangbang

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It was to be a glorious day. House Bellic would join the ranks as one of Russia's great dynasties. Count Niko down at his troops from a nearby hill and smiled. With numerical superiority thanks to the mercenaries, victory would be a sure thing.

Niko's father, Bogdan, was a lowborn courtier in the Grand Prince of Vladimir's court. An orphan, he was plucked from the streets by a soldier when Prince Vsevolod needed messengers at court. Bogdan served the Grand Prince faithfully for the rest of his life and raised his son, Niko, at court.

Bogdan died at the age of forty-eight when Niko turned sixteen in the year 1204. At the time, the Grand Prince held too much land to effectively administer and so he distributed lands to his loyal courtiers. Niko was one of these lucky individuals and he received three counties (Tver, Uglich, and Yaroslavl) for his father's service. Like his father, Niko served the Grand Prince faithfully. He aided Prince Vsevolod in his conquest of Novgorod and watched in awe as Vsevolod was crowned King of Rus.

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Niko was well-liked by his fellow lords and lived a happy life with his beautiful wife, Premyslava, and their three children. His father would have envied Niko's life.

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But Niko hungered for more. He sought opportunities for advancement but was constantly frustrated by the Rurikid dynasty. Prince Vsevolod enjoyed Niko's company but all council positions and ducal titles went to fellow Rurikids. Niko could not even think of attacking his fellow lords since the king outlawed warring among his vassals. The count became stressed in his seat in the grand city of Tver as it seemed like his life was slipping by.

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But an opportunity arose after King Vsevolod succumbed to great pox. His son, Yuriy, was crowned as the second King of Rus. Yuriy, unlike his father, was not well liked. He was viewed with suspicion by the lords of Russia, for he was a paranoid and greedy celibate recluse. He ironically became known as the "Just" by his dubious vassals. With Yuriy's rule less secure than his legendary father, Niko believed that it was time to make a move.

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And so, Niko "uncovered" a completely fabricated deed allegedly written by King Vsevolod that granted the county of Mozhaysk to the Bellic dynasty. However, the county was held by a vassal of the Grand Prince of Smolensk, Mstislav "the Fat". Niko would have to defeat the prince in battle if he wished to capitalize on his manufactured claim.

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Niko summoned his levies and hired a band of mercenary horse archers. He felt confident as his grand army marched through the valleys of Vyazma to meet the Smolensk army. The Tverian force outnumbered the Smolensk force and the prince was notorious for his drunken lechery. Surely he would not be able to defeat the much more agile count of Tver.

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The Bellic dynasty's push for greatness began early in the morning of the 12th of March in the year 1219. The battle opened well for Niko as the horse archers used harass swarm tactics to great effect. The Smolenskian flanks began to give way as morning turned into noon. Niko estimated that the prince's flanks would break within a few hours, leaving the center exposed. He laughed to himself as the fat prince's formation came into clear view. The fool did not even have commanders for the center and left flank! What was that imbecile thinking?

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However, the fat prince's flanks did not break. The Smolenskians countered the Tverian horse archers through volley harassing, which saved the flanks and prevented a complete breakthrough. Mstislav's pikemen kept the Tverian cavalry at bay and his light infantry did not budge against their Tverian counterparts.

As some hours passed after noon Niko still felt confident. The Smolenskian soldiers appeared to be exhausted and at their breaking point. His numerical superiority would soon overwhelm the grand prince and the cavalry would mop up. It was only a matter of time.

Time was not on Niko's side, though. He soon saw a dark speck on the horizon. It soon became clear by late afternoon that the armies of Smolensk and Tver would not be alone. Niko lost heart as his worst fear was realized: the Rurikids were joining the battle. All of them. He had hoped that he could quickly destroy the Smolenskian army before the other Rurikids even had time to respond. But the family ruled all of Russia for a reason: they were crafty bastards and they always stuck together. Niko cursed the House of Rurikid out loud. That damned family may have given House Bellic its start but they would prevent it from ever rising to anything resembling significance.

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Soon 2,000 soldiers from a nearby Rurikid fiefdom (they were all the same to Niko, he did not even distinguish them by name) joined the battle and the fat prince's allies took command of the center and left. The exposed and exhausted Tverian horse archers were annihilated and the rest of Niko's lines began to fall back. By late afternoon the armies' positions were now flipped as the Tverian lines were at the breaking point. Niko signaled his commanders to send in the heavy cavalry to possibly salvage the situation and allow the army to escape in good order before their flanks were completely destroyed. It seemed to do the trick as the bold cavalrymen pushed forward and stymied the Rurikid hordes. Perhaps this day could be salvaged.

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But then they came again. 5,000 men of the Great Rurikid Horde entered the battle. Scouts reported that more were on their way. They would never stop coming. The Tverian lines began to collapse and the cavalry disappeared as the Rurikid Horde crushed Niko's army under the weight of their sheer numbers. The whole army could be annihilated in an hour.

Seeing the futility of further fighting, Niko gave the signal for a full retreat. The men ran from the battlefield in terror and confusion. Disciplined soldiers were now trampling over each other like panicked rabbits. Only exhaustion by the fat prince's forces (or their commander's lethargy) prevented the Rurikid army from pursuing the Tverians and a third of the previously 6,000 strong force escaped into the Tverian countryside.

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The next day Niko offered a full surrender to Prince Mstislav. He was forced to humiliate himself by grovelling to that fat slob and the rest of his vile family and their retainers. Niko begged for mercy and reconciliation. The terms were shameful but not catastrophic as Niko was forced to cede his entire treasury (about 250 gold pieces) to Smolensk. He limped back home to Tver, disgraced and defeated.

He sank into despondency and lamented the fate of House Bellic. It was truly a Rurikid world.
 
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I – Short Change
Around the Nile delta, 1217

Fatima, the widow, would not believe it at first. It had to be some other Ali, there was no lack of them, although the details fit, they did. But she could scarce afford food for her son and herself, much less the journey to Alexandria, much less on a mere supposition.

Still the rumors kept on coming. That Ali they had captured, that Ali the Sultan had pardoned, was now an emir in Rasid, trusted with protecting the delta from such robbers as he had once been. He was lithe of body, and dark of hair, and rakish of appearance. The Sultan’s soldiers and sheikh Khalid of Tinis had found him on the ground of a heathen tomb, sun-struck and delirious, babbling meaningless words; they had brought him to be judged and executed in public, but as it was Ramadan by the time they got back, and because the Sultan was happy they had caught and killed so many other outlaws, he had pardoned him and even offered him a place at court, on account of his being keen and observant, once he was no longer sun-struck.

The villagers were as kind as she could have hoped; they kept their sneers behind her back, and called little Muhammad her late husband’s son, even though the dates did not fit. Only the other children would call him vile names, and sometimes she had to hear him weep on his reed mat at night. But he grew up quick and he grew up mean, not at all like her late husband, and the other children learned to keep their tongue if they wanted to keep their teeth.
And now he was a favorite of the Sultan, and his steward, and ruled over three castles in the delta, and now he was an emir and he kept serving the new Sultan, the boy Masud, and was more powerful than ever.

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Plotting AND factionning AND cahooting with a mysterious third party! That Ali is up to no good.

But he never sent for Fatima, as she had foolishly hoped, a few times, if indeed it was him. She dreamed after work in the fields of living in a castle, not as his first wife, of course, but maybe as a lesser one; she would laze about all day long in the sarai, eating sweets, waiting for her nights with Ali. And their son would lack for nothing either.
And then a warty peddler told her he had been to Damietta, seen emir Ali, and that he had a faint scar on his chin. Yes, on the left side; his left side, on your right when you looked at him; and it touched his lower lip, barely.
She had to try. Her neighbors haggled, but finally she sold her hovel and field a fraction of their worth, enough to pay for the journey with a little to spare. Muhammad had questions, but she told him they would see an old acquaintance, who might provide for them; and that in any case they would not be coming back, which was enough for him. And on the morrow, they walked.
If she was wrong, she thought every step of the way, she would have sold her livelihood for nothing, ruining herself and Muhammad. She would have to beg or worse. But she was not wrong. Ali was no longer as thin, his hair was longer and his poise somehow different, but she remembered him and here he was, dispensing justice in the shade of an old acacia, beneath the walls of Damietta.
All during the audience she tried to catch his eye in vain. Finally, when he rose, she joined the small gaggle of petitioners swarming the emir’s escort. The guards pushed them away gently until she cried out:

“Look at my boy, Ali! He’s your son!”
Then finally Ali looked at her, and Muhammad too.
In the castle Ali examined their son, rather unemotionally.
“His body does look like mine. Strong. You say we laid together?”
“It was in the days before your departure. Don’t you remember?”
“Yes. Was it in Alexandria?”
Alexandria?
“No. No, it was at the farm. My farm.”
“Of course.”

He did not remember, she could tell. It hurt more than if he did and lied. How much can power change a man? Obviously that would depend on the amount of power.

"I know you have a wife already, and other children... Muhammad would be your eldest."
"You cannot stay at the castle, he said gently. I will have you provided for in a cottage out of town."
"Of course." She had not sold her farm and walked the way for nothing. "Thank you. It is all we could ask of you."
"You do not understand. Your son will stay by my side. I will rename him Scorpio."
"W... You cannot separate us."
"Can not? Follow me,” he said. “The servants will take care of your boy.”

He snapped his fingers and guards hurried in.
“To the prisoner.”
They walked through the belly of the Rasid fort, deep to a large, vaulted cellar. A big, grey-haired man was chained crouching to the wall.
“I should have killed you when I had the chance.”
Sheikh Khalid was still defiant, but he still twitched when Ali came closer.
“Maybe you might be interested in Zikris,” Fatima’s lover said. “Mahdavia, or Mahdavism, is a Mahdiist (Arabic: مهدوي ‎ mahdawi) sect founded by Muhammad Jaunpuri in India in the late 15th century. Jaunpuri declared himself to be the Imam Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer in Islam, while on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1496 (AH 901). The movement was strong in the 16th and 17th centuries, but largely died out during the 18th century. There remains a community of Mahdavis in Pakistani Balochistan, known as Zikri (from the Arabic term dhikr "devotional prayer").”
“Kafirs.”
“I find these new religious matters confusing too. Although I have studied them up with great attention. But I thought the subject of Zikris might be of interest to you, as you will be executed as one of them, and your lands seized in the name of the crown, to be administered by me for now.”
“And then you will have taken everything that is mine from me.”
“There is still something I want from you, although it can hardly be called yours. In exchange, I offer to make your death short and dignified.”
“I want something else.”
“Your life is off the table, Khalid. As well you know. It was forfeitas soon as I had to gather my levies to oust you of Tinis.”

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A glorious fight

“Tell me who you are. What you are.”
Ali made his face perfectly blank.
“I am the king of Egypt” Briefly he glanced at Fatima, who tried her best not to gasp.
“Aye, I can see you will be… Or die in the attempt.”
“Death is no concern to me.”
“A king… Khalid moaned in pain. What do you want of me?”
“Something that was in that tomb when you found me unconscious. It’s no longer there.”
“We smashed everything there that was not gold or gem. A load of polytheist junk. The black corpse beside you, it fell to dust as soon as we touched it.”
“This object I’m looking for was gold. A golden ankh”
“A what?”
Ali bent and drew it in the dust with his finger, a kafir cross with a loop on top.
“It was about that big.”
“Is that really why… What you wanted with me? What a joke… On you. That thing was not real gold! Three goldsmiths I asked, to be sure, and they all said it was not even gilded. That it was some alloy they had never seen before.”
“So what did you do with it? Sell it to some unsuspecting merchant?”

The prisoner’s faced twisted in contempt.
“I am not a man like you, Ali. A robber. A scoundrel. A snake.”
Ali did not seem to mind at all. He even smiled at the word snake.
“So?” he asked.
“I threw it from my chamber window in anger, made a splash in the moat. It must still be at the bottom. Not that I see why it matters.”

Ali nodded, looked at Fatima in a questioning way, as if to ask “are you watching this?”, then he killed the man in the flick of a knife. Before she even understood what happened, blood was pooling to the tip of her feet. Before she could think the words through her mouth was saying them:
“Why did you do this?”
“Why would I not? His men died before Tinis. The other sheiks are busy fighting the Franks for Jerusalem. The Sultan is a child, and in the palm of my head. I assure you, no one will miss old Khalid. Or you.”
She stepped back, much too slowly, but he made no move to strike her.
“I do not want to kill you…” A long pause. “I will have your son, though. Scorpio. He will do.”

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Our custom setup gave me a newborn son, but without a mother. I had to invent one for him. So much work!
Of course I made my three starting counties into a duchy, vassalized the spare county and wouldn't you know it, the sheik there went inexplicably Zikri. Bad idea.
I also weakened my (and oddman's) liege, but no as much as he weakened himself by being the AI.

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Look at all that war the Sultan's loyal steward is missing out on while he's back in Cairo taking care of business for the good of the realm.

And I protectorated a random independent muslim in Cyrenaica.
 
Last edited:

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I smell foulness from out of time. But is it Ynglings, Hentzaus, or something even worse? The humans of the Vile Timelines are not the only evil things to sail the quantum sea. Once there was a mountain at Gora Dzhimara - but of some things, it is best not to speak.

But he grew up quick and he grew up mean, not at all like hand the other children learned to keep their tongue if they wanted to keep their teeth.

I think there might be a couple of words missing here?
 

dragoon9105

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Perhaps it is time for a Fifth Crusade then, Save the holy land before it falls into darkness.:p
 

Kuipy

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I smell foulness from out of time. But is it Ynglings, Hentzaus, or something even worse? The humans of the Vile Timelines are not the only evil things to sail the quantum sea. Once there was a mountain at Gora Dzhimara - but of some things, it is best not to speak.

Thinhs will remain ambiguous until I can think of someth... the right moment comes for the Revelation.

I think there might be a couple of words missing here?
Yep, thanks for pointing it out.
 

BootOnFace

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Welp time to strap in for another one of KoM and company's megacampaigns. Good idea starting CK2 on a later date. It'll make EU a lot more interesting.

Consistent quality writing coming from Kuipy and KoM once again.

Will we see any mupdates inspired by the Divine Savegame from oddman? Those were always quite good.
 

Hannibal X

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KoM, the names Abramo and Salomone made me think you were playing as a Jewish merchant family; still, looking forward to the good AARs you produce for these things.
 

dragoon9105

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Chronicle 2: Religious Tension​

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English Aquitaine was not the most, Peaceful province in the British Empire. There were many who were opposed to the Rise of a new English power in the West. The Clergy especially grew unruly under an empire that drew no descent from Rome and held no Loyalty to the Holy Father.

One Preacher in particular, a one John of Agen declared independence from Britain upon Bob the First's Coronation. It did not take long for The Emperor's Hand in the south, Richard D'mertagne to bring him back under the British Yolk. The 'Humble' Bishop raised over 8 Thousand Occitan Rebels in southern France. The Rabbled paraded around the Countryside for years burning towns and laying seige to the personal holdings of Nobles Loyal to the Emperor. An Imperial Detachment headed by Richard D'Mertagne left the newly conquered province of Mallorca and surrounded the Rebel Host and arrested the Leaders, including Bishop John himself.

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John of Agen preached Brimston, and Fire. An end to the Empire and Eternal Damnation to all who followed the Usurper Emperor in London. To this end he was imprisoned and thrown in the Dungeons of Toulouse. Still he prayed and preached an end to the Empire, Inglorious deaths to both Emperor John and all of his Sons.

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John of Agen smuggled letters to Rome itself, and to the four corners of Christendom. Richard however became to have Money troubles, His vassals had refused to pay their taxes and his Conquests in Spain were becoming a further Drain. When the Pope paid ransom for the Fiery Bishop's release Richard had no choice but to accept or face the Holy Father's Wrath.

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The Bishop was not yet done however. The letter sent in reply to the Pope following the Release of John Agen "Please Rid me of this Troublesome Priest" offended the Holy Father and he convened the College of Cardinals. The Holy Roman Emperor, the Longtime Rival of Papal authority in Europe was humbled by the Upstart British at Brabant and now fought fruitlessly to retake land Georges Danton's French Brigades. Seeing Weakness the Holy Father deemed Richard D'mertagne Excommunicated and damned to hell for his refusal to bow to the throne of Saint Peter.

The Vassals of the Archduchy of Aquitaine rose almost in Unison, demanding the Emperor remove Richard D'Mertagne and obey the holy father. The Emperor, had a different response.

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However with the kingdom brought more unruly vassals, An obligation to the crown to further it's borders to the south and to protect the Emperor and his heirs against all foes, both foreign and domestic. Not that Richard particularly cared, He got to wear a crown. In fact after an ambitious priest came to him, you could say the Power went quite literally to his head.

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His Vassals would live in fear for years supplying a token levy and tax to Richard, whom they called "The Cruel". Richard's reign over Southern France would be Total. Following his conversion to Lollardy Church Officials were given short swift trials and hung while Naysayers were put to the torch. Criminals and Undesirables fled Aquitaine in droves as Richard made clear unsavory types would be dealt with, Publicly and Painfully. Those that did not flee however found refuge in the few Holdouts of the Catholic Church within Aquitaine. One such places was Agen. When the King had learned of this continued defiance he personally led the siege and dragged Prince-Bishop John back to Toulouse in Chains.
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Triumphant against his life long foe Richard returned to Toulouse, However there were soldiers awaiting him, To escort the King back to London to Stand Trail for Heresy. The Emperor had passed and years of warfare in Spain and Aquitaine had left Richard blind to the Machinations of the Court. Emperor Bob was dead, two of his sons were dead and A pretender had usurped the Throne only to also die and be replaced be a new Shrewsbury, from Britanny.

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These soldiers were quickly slain, Richard angered by this turn of events crowned himself Emperor, and called a Moot in southern France to gather support for his claim. To his Surprise he was summarily captured by Royalists. Dragged to London. Read his rights aloud to the council of Nobles, his son included in their number whom he hadn't seen in years, and executed. Something Richard the Cruel had done to dozens of Nobles, clergy and criminals before would now be his end. Richard the II, his son would succeed him, swear undying loyalty to the Empire during his coronation before all the Lords of Britain and return to Aquitaine.

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And So ends Richard II of Aquitaine, True-born Successor to King Richard the Lionheart, and his opposite in many ways. A Stalwart servant of Emperor Robert (Bob) I, Slowly turned into a Maniacal Psychopath by the Hatreds of those around's him and a fair bit of his own Ego. Remembered for his Signature on the Magna Carta, his part in reopening the Straights of Gibraltar through his campaigns in Sevilla and Granada and the infamous D'mertagne Commission whos validity is still questioned to this day. He was succeeded by his Son Richard III who prior to his father's execution simply wished to be left alone with his Muslim lover at his quiet Navarran Estate.
 

King of Men

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KoM, the names Abramo and Salomone made me think you were playing as a Jewish merchant family; still, looking forward to the good AARs you produce for these things.

Thanks! I did consider playing as a Jewish family, but decided that with my skill at this game, I'd better not add a handicap of "all your vassals hate you" in the early years.

Emperor Bob was dead, two of his sons were dead and A pretender had usurped the Throne

That's Emperor Bob the Builder, if you please! Let's give the man who built the Empire of the West his due respect. This aside, I note that them as lives by the sword, dies by the sword. The Builder came to the throne by means of a divinely-anointed sovereign dying in suspicious circumstances; and he exited the same way, taking two of his presumably beloved sons with him. What goes around, comes around; I think, perhaps, that a cycle of violence and vengeance has begun, and the end is not yet.
 

dragoon9105

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Of course, as a Loyal subject of the British Empire I should have given him more respect how could i be so foolish. Truly a Great Man, From Commoner to Emperor of the West. Truly God's chosen servant on earth.