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LumberKing

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Introduction
Hello and welcome to my very first After Action Report or an AAR! After playing this game for several hundred hours despite only owning it for less than three months, I feel I have finally grasped the very basics, at least enough so that I can share my stories. This AAR will star the Macedonian dynasty (in-game Makedon) which historically ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867 to 1056, of course I intend on extending the last bit as long as possible.

Should I survive the whole ordeal to the end year of Crusader Kings II, this will be exported to Europa Universalis IV where the story will pick up where it left off. As such, the story will end when the dynasty ends.

Rules
I am Emperor, thus above such things!

Goals
Although an AAR first, my intent is to get as much Steam Achievements as possible and as such this game will be in Ironman mode. In terms of what to get, here are the set goals:
Primary
- Persistant Survivor
- Legacy of Rome
- SPQR
Secondary
- Pentarch
Tertiary
- Protector of the Holy Places
- Saint Thomas' Dream

DEUS VULT!

Contents

Disclaimer
This is an interactive AAR with permission from Quorten. For the sake of role-playing, the viewers are the members of the Byzantine Senate and as such are there to give advisory counsels now and then. Once in a while (like in a difficult case), I will ask for advice and give a course of action. For a set amount of time, the senators are to debate and discuss then finally vote until the given deadline. Of course this is a time period where the authority of the senate was only nominal and as such, I the Emperor can ignore it if I wish. This doesn't mean that I won't take things seriously from the viewers, but just to make it clear that as a first-time writer of an AAR, I do not have the ability to make a fully-interactive AAR without it going out of control. So that's that, and if one is not able to stick by this simple rule (that being I am Emperor), expect to be immediately reported to the moderators after a single warning.

Also, do note that this will be a image heavy (in-game screenshots) AAR and as such you may encounter issues especially for those on limited data cap with mobile devices. Another thing, since I am using a free account with Photobucket, there is a bandwidth limit and as such you will come across times where you will be unable to view any images. There is very little I can do about this, and as such, all you can do is wait until the fifteenth of each month for the bandwidth limit to reset.
 
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Senator Alexios Laskaris (Born 830 in Constantinopel)was born as a heir to a mayor noble house that sadly got dislanded in 800.He is a smart,warlike, and opportunistic man that in his 20s was a small commander in the army and was fighting on the front lines for the Empire and its allies.Proving to be a loyal servant,He swore a oath to Basileus Makedon and his direct male heirs.For this the Senate made him Senator.

The Empire stands on a dire moment of its history, and I humbly suggest the Emperor to focus on dealing with the filthy Muslims that want to take Syracuse,The city of Archimedes, And destroy our last foothold on Sicily.After that I suggest he should win his popularity in the Empire by confincing the Douxes of the mayor Thematae to be loyal and not backstab him in the middle of a Makedon restoration.

Alexios Laskaris

Edit(When my character dies of old age/battle/whatever happens ill swap over to a son and roleplay him as a senator)
 
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Senator Alexander Heraklios (Born 821 in Sparta) was born to no known noble families, but gained his nobility through excellence in warfare. He is strong, opportunistic, and excels in warfare. Alexander was once a soldier in the Byzantine army during the beginning of the Muslim conquest of Sicily, but quickly gained attention by singlehandedly capturing the Muslim commander, Abd al-Salam ibn Abd al-Wahhab, at Enna in 837 and extraordinary (some call it "superhuman") prowess demonstrated in the battle of Cefalu in 838. There he caught the attention of the Senate and the Ecumenical Patriarch himself, the latter decreeing that only a noble aristoi of Byzantium could demonstrate such prowess and the former electing him to the Senate. He is now married, with a son by the name of Patroklos.

Also Edit: When Alexander dies, I will switch over to his son.
 

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Senator Alexios Laskaris greets his fellow senator Alexander Heraklios and is happy to see that another senator is thinking so like him.
 

LumberKing

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Prologue

Genesis​

"Basil. Basil!"

I looked towards the side to see my brother, Marinos, calling my name who with our cousin Ayleon had a worried look to their faces. I could tell that they were feeling quite nervous, after all what we had to do was high treason. After a sigh he continued.

"You do not have to go through this if you do not want to. We are your family and will support you no matter what."

Whether it was to lend support on whatever decision I took or discourage from our current course of action, I was not sure, but once thing I was certain was that this was something that had to be done.

"Brother, you need not be concerned about me, remember that this is not the first time that we had to do this nor will it be the last. It is the sake for the republic that we must bloody our hand."

"He is right Marinos, the way things are currently going, what ought to be the great empire of Rome in the East will be reduced to a disgraceful state with no correlation between her and what was the glory of Rome, if we allow things to continue." Wise words from our father, Bardas who only spoke after several minutes of silence.

"Perhaps when the future generation look back at us, instead of the Roman Empire in the East, they will drop Roman all together and call us something like... the Byzantine Empire!" I glanced over to see Ayleon chuckling to himself after making that comment.

While my companions discussed things, I was in deep thought. Marinos was right that I was concerned, not because of the particular action we were about to take, since like I said, it wasn't the first time since I did arrange the murder of my predecessor, who also happened to share the same name as my own father. No, this was more personal, hence why I was so troubled.

"The preparations have been made, the chamberlain is posting the guards outside the palace and the keys we have in our possession." I looked over to see my father giving me assurance as well as awaiting further instructions. After finally recollecting myself I decided.

"Very well, let's meet the emperor."
 

LumberKing

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Chapter I

The Peasant Emperor

It was only a mere two months after my ascension as the sole emperor when we received news that three thousand men of the Aghlabid Sultanate, personally led by the Sultan himself, had been sighted marching towards Syracuse with the intent of capturing it.




Although I knew what needed to be done, I decided to visit the Senate where an emergency meeting had been called to deal with this crisis. Everyone was silent as the previous administration was not known for being capable with managing a country thus the Senate did not know what ought to be the best course of action, except for one particular senator.

“Fellow countrymen, it is time that we stood up and teach those filthy Muhammadans that the Empire will no longer bend over to their will. Syracuse, the city of Archimedes, is the last foothold we have in Sicily. Recent report indicates that thousands of refugees have taken shelter there after the Muhammadans have sacked their homes. These are Roman citizens, whom we have sworn to protect. The entire region begs for protection against these filthy horde. We must not disappoint them, Syracuse must not fall!”

“Heretics! Infidels! We should bring Christ’s righteous judgement upon them!” Another senator quickly yelled followed by similar rhetoric from other senators. Soon the Senate floor was filled with shouting as everyone was unified against their common foe. As the Emperor, this was to be my first test to prove my capability to rule.

After leaving the Senate floor, I quickly moved so that preparations were made as things could go awry when one least expects it. For better relationship, a letter of a formal alliance was sent to the emperor of the West, King Louis II of Italy, styling himself as the Holy Roman Emperor although he and his kinsmen followed some odd barbarian customs thus fracturing the Western realm. He himself seemed to have been involved in a conflict against the Muhammadans himself, though he was the one doing the invading, unlike me.


Also as a matter of precaution, a will was made to have my two infant sons elevated to that of co-emperors, with my eldest Constantine given the title of Despot while my youngest Leo given the title of Caesar. The formal ceremonies of course, were set to be held once they were older.


With all the preparations made to my satisfaction, it was time to inspect the Imperial Legions and Fleets. After raising all available levies and ships, except for those in the war zone, I ordered them all to rendezvous at Arta where from there they will be ferried to the heel of Italy.


While I was inspecting, I received a reply from Louis II of Italy, where for an alliance, his eight year old daughter, Ermengard, will be betrothed to my first born son, Constantine. Though I was wary of that fact that she was seven years senior to him, the relationship between the West and the East was crucial to push out the Muhammadans from Christendom once and for all.


While I was reading the letter, I was surprised to find an emissary from the Kingdom of Georgia requesting my audience. I invited him in to see what the Iberians in the Caucasus could possibly want.

“Your Excellency, what a surprise to have you here.”

“Your Majesty, I thank you for your audience. I have a message from my liege, His Majesty the King, Bagrat of Iberia. He offers his service against the invasion of the Muhammadan infidels.”


Though I had plenty of troops, having more certainly did not hurt, though I doubted that he would actually send reinforcements as the Georgian King and I did not exactly see eye to eye.


Once most of the soldiers arrived at Arta, orders were given to set sail to Brennesian. Before leaving Greece, I decided to wed my brother, Marinos, to my first wife, Maria as I wanted to make sure that the mother of two of my children would be in safe hands. After all, it was not my choice nor decision to divorce her in the first place.



As soon as the wedding ceremony was complete I set sail with the Imperial Legion where upon landing in Brennesian, a message arrived from my current wife, Eudokia saying that she was with child.



Once the second batch of soldiers arrived in the Italian peninsular, it was time to march towards Syracuse. The best generals of all the Empire were appointed to lead the proud Imperial Legion where local reinforcements joined the main force so that there would be more than enough troops to relieve the siege happening at Syracuse.



But it was too late. Before the Imperial Legion could get there, Caltagirone, the capital of Syracuse fell to the infidels.

 
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Senator Alexios Laskaris congratulates the emperor with his pregnant wife and appriciates his quick handling of business
((to Heraklios:I will share my power and vote in the senate for your proposals my friend as we are almost a single person mindwise))
 

LumberKing

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Chapter II

The Beginning of an Ambition

Rage filled the senate floor as news reached Constantinople that Caltagirone fell to the infidels. The Senate demanded blood, something which I was very happy to do. Though we lost the battle, with the support from the Senate and the People, the war was essentially won.

As the Imperial Legion crossed the straight, I received news that Doux Theodoros, Thematic Governor of the Aegean Islands had died without a replacement. This news of course had little bearing on me as I hardly knew the late Doux, it was just a matter of filling in the now vacant office.


Of course, I already had a candidate in mind.


The Imperial Legion had finally reached Syracuse and engaged the enemy at Lentini where they outnumbered them three to one. I smiled at the knowledge that the infidels will pay... with interest.


As I was musing myself, my chamberlain suddenly burst into the war room.

“Your Majesty, the Empress is in labour!”


I quickly went to see my wife in the Purple Chamber, when I arrived I saw her looking peaceful, as I was informed, with her son. Eudokia wanted to name her second born, Bardas, after my father, but I was sceptical whether this child was actually mine like I was suspicious of Leo due to her past relationship with my predecessor; Michael. Because I did not want to taint my father’s good name I suggested that we name him Stephen.


The outcome of the Battle of Lentini was predictable, with the enemy suffering severe casualties resulting in a humiliating rout into Messina only to be annihilated by the pursuit of the elite Greek Cataphracts.




The siege against Messina did not take long, as the commanders decided to simply assault the enemy castle since the defenders were vastly outnumbered. Afterwards the Imperial Legion marched back into Syracuse to relieve Caltagirone where they were received enthusiastically by the grateful citizens.



I was reading the situation reports of the battles when my eldest child, Anastasia came to my study. She had all sorts of questions from trivial matters to complex things such as the meaning of life. Just like her mother Maria, she was simple yet charming in her own ways. I told her that all these questions will be answered in good time and as such made a promise that from now onwards, I will be spend some time with her every single day.


Just as Anastasia and I made this promise an envoy visited me.


Being confused, I just gave him some roses which I had grown in the backyard for some experiments, it was a trivial matter after all.

After sending the roses, I went into the war room to examine the map for some planning when I suddenly had an idea. I sent orders of dismissal to the Imperial Legion so that they could rest while at the same time I decided to send the same Emir, who was fending off the Emperor Louis II, a letter.


After raising fresh troops and having them march all the way to the heel of Italy, I received news that the Provincial Governor of Limisol, Staurakios had died and like the late Doux Theodoros, he did not leave a replacement. For the time being, Limisol will have to be administered from Constantinople, at least until the rest of Cyprus becomes free from the Muhammadans.


As the Imperial Legion marched towards Taranto, they encountered a lone Greek Count in Naples who heeded to Constantinople instead of Rome on religious matters. After reading the report I sent him an offer of vassalization which he immediately accepted, becoming the Provincial Governor of Naples.



With all the administrative business taken care, it was just the matter of sending in the official confirmation to the Senate. It was then that my wife came by me today to announce her third pregnancy.


Gleefully, I went back to the study where I asked one of my envoys if anything interesting was happening outside the Empire. Apparently there was something amusing as he told me that in the Carpathian basin the Magyar Nomads were now no longer nomads having settled there calling the new land “Hungary”, an amusing story, but nothing important.


I then asked if there was anything else to which he responded that in fact there was a letter addressed specifically to me. The letter was regarding the incident where I sent some roses. I opened it and read it which pretty much said that the sender was very grateful. Though not befitting an emperor, my knowledge in botany and cultivation seemed to have gotten some good use.


It seemed everything was calm and quiet, when I knew that reality was different since we were at war, now at two fronts, but that did not deter me from enjoying this momentary peace.
 
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Chapter III

Moving Forward

“It’s a girl!”

It was a long and a tiresome day, but it was finally over; Eudokia had given birth to my second daughter. My wife wanted to name her something difficult to pronounce, so after much debate we agreed on, Anna, who had much of the features of her mother.



To commemorate this, there was something I wanted to do, but being in the middle of two wars, I could not take the time off to search for something despite having the coins to do so. I asked one of my councillor on this matter and he said that there was a young artist capable of making art that seemed blessed by the Heavens, but did not have the funds to continue. I summoned this young artist and had a look at one of his work and it was none other than Saint Peter the first among the Apostles. I could not help, but feel that this work was divinely inspired and as such thought that his work was a perfect way to commemorate the birth of my daughter and as such decided to become his patron.


That was when I saw a messenger from one of the Imperial Legion who informed that after assaulting Castellaneta, the capital of Taranto, the local Emir sent the terms and conditions of his surrender which I was more than happy to accept.



Not long after, the invading force of the Aghlabid Sultanate was also forced to surrender as well as providing tribute for declaring war.


Now that peace was upon us, I decided that the newly reconquered territory of Taranto, now known as Lukania, needed a Provincial Governor to govern the lands since I already had enough to do in the Imperial City. I sent scouts throughout the Empire to search for a talented person in some areas to do this for me. One of the candidates was Poryphyrios of Cemren, serving as the Spymaster for one of the Thematic Governors.


A religious scholar who unfortunately had the habit of eating too much, I thought that he would be good enough, after all it was only a single territory. I sent him the appointment letter of the Provincial Governor for him to take charge of Lukania. Since he was not of noble birth, I assigned him a new name, taken that from the area he would serve, unless a prominent member of the Senate wished to adopt him into their family as it is customary within the Roman nobility.


Now that I had familiarised myself with the bureaucratic aspects of the Empire, I signed an order to allow the Imperial Spymaster to work independently to end all known plots.


With this, I could now pay more focus on things that will bring prosperity to the Empire such as creating a standing Cataphract regiment.


Just as I put my Spymaster to work, I heard reports that a nobleman was attempting to fabricate a claim for himself on one of the Imperial Themes and despite warning him, he refused to back down. So I simply gave the order to have him arrested.



I had no intention of keeping him in the dungeons of course, and as such allowed him to bail himself out once he paid the necessary fines.

After settling with some minor issues of managing an Empire, I went outside where what I saw next nearly gave me a heart attack.


My eldest daughter, Anastasia, was playing around the castle window fifty metres above ground. Not knowing what to do, I just watched her as she was playing around where I proceeded to ask her what she was doing.


Being an honest girl, she just simply told me that she wanted to see some birds on the window sill.

Although I should have told her not to do that again, I felt that children had to experience life for themselves to truly grow, though I doubted whether I truly believed that. Brushing the thought aside, I went back to the office, where I began a financial review and saw that the gold kept coming in due to the effective taxing system in place.


All this report was pleasing to see, so I poured myself some wine to drink, but as a drank it I started feel very nauseous. It felt as though the world was spinning around my feet while my head started to pulsate. Immediately calling the guards, I sent men throughout the palace to search out for a potential assassin. I began to perspire heavily as I felt myself losing conscious...

When I opened my eyes, I found myself in my chambers and could see that it was quite late. Still feeling rather panicked, I immediately called for my Spymaster on what happened to the assassin and to see what kind of poison was in that wine. To my surprise, he told me that there was no poison and that my situation was not due to an assassination attempt, but rather a build up of stress and as my physician explained to me, a simple compromise of the bodily humours hence why I suddenly felt so ill.


Finding myself embarrassed, I sent everyone away so that I could think in peace. After much thought, I came to the conclusion that I needed to bring in better stability to the Empire, especially in the event that I pass before my sons come of age. After all, this incident will not do for my reputation and my children needed a legacy of their father to survive in this cut-throat world. To do this, I would need to establish a relationship of trust with the administrators of the whole realm. So I called the Imperial Chancellor in and told him to begin composing a draft letter:

 
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Chapter IV

Food for Thought


Son of Bardas, brother of Marinos, I am Basil from the Theme of Macedonia. As the sole reigning Emperor, I am the Prince and Dominus of all the Romans as the personification of the Republic itself. Married to Eudokia, daughter of a Varangian named Ingr, I currently have five children of which three of them were born by her while the other two were born by Maria, my previous wife whom I divorced and is currently married to my brother. This is common knowledge even amongst the peasantries. What I needed the nobles of the Empire to know was that I am the person they can trust with their lives not just because they call me Basileus and that it is their sworn duty, but rather because I am a friend to those who uphold the Republican and the Christian virtues. For this reason, I had the Imperial Chancellor, write the draft the invitations for a Great Feast.

As preparations were under way, my steward informed me that the structural integrity of the castle was compromised and the cost to repair it would be high. Seeing how cancelling the feast was out of the question and as a host, I would be responsible for the safety of my guests not to mention should anything happen, the Empire would be very short on administrators, I told him to have it repaired regardless of the cost.


Once I had everything prepared such as the musicians and the food:


The official invitations were sent to all the people of importance.


Just as I had the Imperial Chancellor send out the invitations, I received words regarding a dispute between the Bishop of Xantheia and the Archbishop of Constantinople on who ought to have the ears of the Emperor. Currently, the Archbishop of Constantinople having declared themselves the “Ecumenical Patriarch”, was the sitting Imperial Ecclesiarch. However, the Bishop of Xantheia, accused the Patriarch as being incompetent, thus should not sit at the Imperial Council.


It was not a big issue, but it certainly did require my attention. So I told the Bishop of Xantheia that we will be patient with the Patriarch, since it was not too long ago since he was reinstated since his deposition by Photius, whom I had deposed myself, and as such we should be reasonable to let the good Patriarch to re-adjust to his office.


Once I had resolved this petty dispute, my son Constantine, asked me to read him one of his favourite stories. Realizing that he was now at the age of learning, I told him that we will read stories another time, but for now it was time he was under tutorship.


I went in to my chambers to get dressed as the sun began to set. As I was putting a cloak over my tunic, my chamberlain informed me that the guests had arrived for the feast.


I decided to personally welcome my guests and see to it they were all seated properly. Once they were all seated, the palace servants began serving the food. Despite having spent lavishly on the food, I could tell for some reason they did not have the intended affect. Whether they were prepared in an incorrect manner or the products were a scam, the guests were clearly not enjoying their food though as courteous guests, they kept it to themselves. That was all except for Doux Chrysaphios who decided that the food presented to him was completely unacceptable, thus something the needed to bring attention to the whole table.


Although the food was far less than satisfactory, thankfully, the evening's entertainment was not. Well, it was either the skill of the musicians or the copious amounts of wine that accompanied the feast, nonetheless it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.


And with that, the night came to a close where I bid all my guests farewell.


Learning my lessons from the feast, although a lot of the things I have to do as an Emperor were tedious and thankless, someone had to do it and it was far better for me to do it and make sure it is done right, than delegate too much and have things out of control. As I went to sleep, this thought made me feel relaxed and I could feel a lot of my ailments go away.



When morning came, I thought it would be nice to have breakfast with the family. As I sat on the table, I noticed that my eldest daughter, Anastasia, did not touch anything.

“Anastasia my dear, why aren’t you eating? You won’t have the energy to get through the day if you do not finish your plate.”

“But dad, I don’t want to end up looking like Maria!”

Maria was one of the many servants in the palace, and I guess one could say that she was on the heavy side.


“Oh wow, that is really great Kon! Thank you!!!”

I looked over to the other side of the table where I saw my son Constantine fixing a broken toy for his younger brother Leo. Leo, being young, had yet to master saying his older brother’s full name yet.

“It’s nothing great Leo, if it was father, it would've been brand new again.”

Despite being capable, it would seem that Constantine did not believe in showing it or at least not bragging about it.


As I headed to the office, I came across the Ecumenical Patriarch. He informed me that someone in court had finally seen the light.


It was nothing of importance, or so I thought until he told me that he may have some intelligence regarding the failed African-led Sicilian campaign. That got my intention and told him arrange a meeting with him. This was all I really needed to gain an upper hand against the Muhammadan heretics. With that, I had a simple letter drafted:

 
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Chapter V

Family and Fortune

“Honey, I’m pregnant!”


Those were the words I heard from my wife before I left for my campaign in Sicily. How blessed I must be to have many children, protection from the infidels, and now a chance to reap righteous vengeance upon them. On top of that, the Imperial Steward informed me that due to efficient taxation system, there was a higher income than expected which will be used for my war funds.


With everything dutifully prepared, we embarked for Sicily where I decided that I would personally lead the vanguard of the mighty Imperial Legion.


We were on a march, when a messenger arrived from Constantinople. He informed me that my wife gave birth to a son and was asking what she should name him. She was considering, Bardas, after my father, but after much thought under the circumstance he was born, I decided that he should be named, Alexander, after the Macedonian king who conquered most of the known world. Perhaps this will bring some kind of destiny for our dynasty...


Along with the message of a birth of another son to me, I was informed that my daughter was awfully cynical for her age. I told them to let her be and that there was nothing wrong with a little cynicism.


After a long march, we finally arrived at Messina, a frontier for the infidel-occupied Sicily. Without any active opposition, it was only a matter of time until we set their castle under siege and retook what was ours.




Once that was done, I directed a march towards the main stronghold on the isle, Palermo, or as the infidel liked to call it, Balharm.





As we successfully took castles after castles, a messenger from the Imperial Spymaster informed me of a plot by a noble who was attempting to fabricate the Theme of Epirus. Because he foolishly refused to stop this nonsense, I had him arrested and fined for such insolence.




At least such foolishness was not causing a hindrance to the war effort.


To show that God was truly on our side, I also received a message from the Imperial Marshal that the reserve forces were more than adequate should we need further reinforcements.


Everything seemed to be going great, and when another messenger arrived, I just assumed my good fortune was keep on rolling. I was anticipating the message to be another pregnancy from my wife, but instead...


I had no idea he was ill. He never complained. Though he lived long, the message was a shock to me as I was assumed that he would always be there. As I was reading the message, one of my soldiers yelled that he captured a prisoner. After hearing that the prisoner was a Greek woman, I told them to place her under a suitable accommodation.


Overall, the Sicilian campaign was going well, with the whole island almost under our control, with the last stronghold in Trapani being under siege. It did not take long until that finally fell to the Imperial Army which added another prisoner to the growing list.





 
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Heraklios: Keep on killing Muslims and keep on banging your wife! The fan-fiction trade is proving very lucrative
 
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LumberKing

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Chapter VI

Onwards

“Captain, the prisoner has escaped from her quarters!”

“What? This is an embarrassment to us all! Find her, find her!!!”

“Sir, I see the prisoner trying to climb over the walls. Your orders?”

“Are you retarded!? Stop her!!! Holy Theotokos...”

“In the name of the Emperor, halt what you are doing!”

It was early in the morning when the Captain of the Guards informed me on what transpired during the dead of night. Turns out, one of my prisoner, Irene, had attempted escape. Being, Greek and Christian, I had no idea why she would want to return to her Infidel North African master.


If I was anything like my predecessor, I probably would’ve made her a mistress of some sort, like the pagans do in the north, where they make captive females to be their concubines. However, I am not Michael nor am I a filthy barbarian. Besides, I was still not quite over with my father’s death so I gave the orders to simply return her to her quarters and dismiss what had transpired during the night.

As our righteous war against the infidels occupying Sicily raged on, the palace life was a lot quieter where one could probably not tell that there was a war going on. As I reviewed the battle strategies, I noticed that my eldest child, did not complete any of her work. I called her into my office and asked her why upon which she replied that the work was too difficult. Now not having been raised with formal education myself, I did not want to see any of my children to go through the same difficulties like I have, so I told her to try harder and ask questions if she was having any difficulties.



When Anastasia went on her way, I decided that it was time she got a different tutor, so I arranged Mayor Manuel to have her taught the proper way.


Once that was sorted, it was now time to properly tutor my second son, Leo, as he was now at age of proper schooling.


It was a lovely day to walk around the garden, so I decided to have a break from all the paperwork that was stacking up due to the current war. I noticed that there were children playing, including my eldest son, Constantine.

“Hey everyone, look at this new toy I got from my father!”

“Oh wow, that is really awesome!!! Let’s play together, I’ve brought some toys as well. Hey look, there’s Prince Constantine!”

“Hey Constantine, come play with us, I’ll let you play with my toys.”

“Okay, but you have to let me play with that new toy of yours.”

“Sure thing, but only if you bring your toys too.”

“No way, these are my toys, I am definitely not sharing these.”

“No fair! I’m letting you play with mine!!!”

“Well, I’m a Prince so I can do whatever I want!!!!”


As I walked towards the children, I noticed that instead of cheerfully playing, children were on a verbal spat with my son as he refused to share his toys. Starting see the potential problems in the future, I called out to talk to him.

“Constantine, what is going on?”

“The other children won’t play with me.”

“Is it because you won’t share your toys with them?”

“Well, they are mine so I get to do whatever I want!”

“Son, if you want to play with other children’s toys then you have to be willing to let them play with yours too. That’s simple fairness, also you won’t be making friends if you decide to take everything for yourself without giving anything in return.”

With that, my son seemed to have gotten the basic understanding of sharing, but no more than that. With a disappointed look, he decided that he had enough sunlight for the day and started walking back inside which I decided to join him on that matter since I had work to get back to. As I went back inside, I received a large letter from the Imperial Steward which seemed rather heavy. Upon opening it, I was surprised to find a decent amount of gold coins.


After stashing the extra tithes in a safe place, I decided to visit my wife’s bedchamber to inform her on my decision to personally tutor her first born, Leo, and of course to perform the marital duties as it was expected of a good Christian couple.

Two months had passed since all that happened, and while I was reading the war reports, my wife announced that she was once again with child!


With such blessings, there is no way for the House of Macedonia to become extinct!!!

I was musing on whether I would have another son or another daughter when I messenger came by to inform me that Doux Alexander, the Thematic Governor of Thracesia had passed away without leaving a suitable replacement.


As I was already busy with the current administrative workload, I sent orders to search throughout the whole Empire for a suitable candidate to replace him. One result was a peasant with high diplomatic skills, currently working under a Thematic Governor. Once I had read over his qualifications, I gave my seal of approval to immediately elevate him to the position.



As the war raged on, I had very little time to spend at the palace as I decided to lead the vanguard of the Imperial Legion. This meant that the internal situation of the Empire was starting to become tense. One of my Imperial Commanders, Doux Constantine, Thematic Governor of Paphlagonia, was from a powerful family, known as the Doukas. A man whom I did not wish to give more power to yet at the same time a man whom I did not wish to cross as he was very capable of forming a faction large enough to become an immediate threat. To appease him and prevent a potential civil war, I sent him a letter informing him of his appointment to the office of the Kouropalates. Though a very prestigious office which should please him, it came with very little power as it was a mere honorary position.


I was inspecting the formation of the army when a scout reported that five companies of North African soldiers were seen at Messina. After devising a quick plan, I gave orders to quickly march and run them down before the enemy could react.


Though the surprise attack was a success, the Captain of my right flank was caught utterly unprepared resulting in a rout, weakening my right side, exposing the main body to be attacked on an unprotected side. Despite the strategic advantage the enemy gained, they were unable to exploit it as our army was far too numerous and their equipments terrifyingly advanced.


As we gave chase, a messenger informed me that Doux Pantherios of Athens was threatening to form a faction against me. What made him unhappy, I do not know, but since I was in a middle of a war, I decided a simple gift of some gold ought to appease him.


With the internal politics once again being out of my mind, I refocused myself on the battle where I led the cavalry charge against the fleeing enemies.


With the battle over, I gave orders to return to Syracuse and simply to relax until the enemy returns. As I was heading into my tent, a messenger from the Imperial Spymaster informed me of an attempt to fabricate a claim on the Theme of Anatolia. Since the plotter refused to back down, I simply had him imprisoned and then fined him for such foolishness.




With that sorted, I decided to dismiss the messenger, since I needed to inspect the Legion again.

“Excellent, you may return back to your master.”

“One more thing, Your Majesty.”

“What is it?”

The messenger looked rather excited at the prospect of giving me another news.

“While you were in the fields, Your Majesty, the Empress gave birth to a healthy girl. Congratulations, Sire.”


The news was such a pleasant surprise, that when I filed the paperworks to the Church for the Sacred Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation, I made a minor clerical error resulting in a “typo” in her name where her name, being Helena, now has an extra space.

 
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Chapter VII

Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier

“Archers ignite! Draw! Release!”

“First rank, advance!”

“Incoming volley, hold the line!!!”


I do not know when, but during the course of the war, the Tulunid Sultanate of Egypt had joined in on the fray and somehow managed to march over two thousand men into the heart of the Empire. A surprise attack for sure, but after a quick ferry from the boots of Italy, they were no match against the fury of brave Roman soldiers.


As the battle quickly drew to a close where the infidel army started to rout resulting in a grand chase, Mayor Manuel, the Imperial Chancellor sent me a message where he reported that he managed to repair a strained relationship between the Theme of Achaia and the Imperial Office, meaning less internal fighting.


In the same message, I was also informed that my son, Stephen, was now at age to be schooled. Already tutoring Constantine and Leo as well as being in the middle of a war, I had no time to spare for my third son. As such, I sent a reply where Stephen was to be tutored by the Archbishop of Constantinople Ignatios, the Ecumenical Patriarch.


After a long day of battle against these pseudo-Egyptians, I returned back to the City to deal with some paperwork left by the Senate. As I was dealing with the paperworks, I noticed outside that Constantine was being rather greedy, refusing to share his toys so as before, I decided to call him in to give him a lecture on sharing.


“Your Majesty.”

I looked up to see a messenger awaiting my audience, so I called him in.

“A message from the Imperial Steward.”


Being pleased with the current events, I decided to visit the forum. As I strolled the marketplace, I noticed one of my courtiers, Anastasia. She gave me a sly smile, which I recognized so well as being the same as those of the mistress of my predecessor. Needing to distinguish myself from my late predecessor, I decided it was not right so I simply ignored her and went my way.


The season started to get a lot colder, with the trees now mostly bare. Despite the cold, the soldiers were all too prepared for the next counter-attack from the coalition of Aghlabid and Tulunid forces. As I prepared myself by donning my own armour, I received a message from the Imperial Steward.


Though this was good for the treasury, I started to suspect something as it was becoming rather frequent.


My steward, Doux Sisinnios, the Thematic Governor of Cibyrrhaeot, was a very capable steward, having served as the Imperial Steward for some time. However, despite his capability, he was also a man who did not hide his avarice and despite his honesty, it would not be above him to collect “donations” from the taxpayers.

This was all so troubling, and as I was thinking about this, the Captain of the Guards asked for my audience.

“Your Majesty, the prisoner, she has escaped from her confinement!”


I had completely forgotten about her, and though it would affect the reputation of my guardsmen, her escape did little in terms of affecting the security of the Empire. I was curious, however, on why a good Greek Christian woman, would put so much effort into returning to her foreign infidel master? Regardless, it was of no consequences.

Being nearly winter, the weather was getting exceptional cold and although being in the Mediterranean had its advantages unlike the homeland of my Varangian wife, cold was cold and today was no exception. I was watching the children playing near the pond when I noticed Anastasia accidently pushing Leo into it.

“Argh!!! It’s cold! What was that for!?”

“Hahaha, sorry! It was an accident little brother.”

“No it wasn’t you bitch!”

“Hey, that wasn’t very nice.”

What was a simple accident, became a shouting match, which after much patience, I decided to step in.


I dragged Leo into a corner and told him to be nice to his sister and go apologise. After sulking for a moment, he realised his mistake and went on his way to make up with his sister.


Despite winter closing in, I decided to march with my retinue of Cataphracts to Syracuse where we could await the anticipating attack form the infidel coalition. After we arrived, we set camp where I received a message from my chancellor of a further improvement of relationship between the Theme of Achaia and the Imperial Office.


There was also a message from my wife, Eudokia, reminding me about my second daughter, Anna, as she was now old enough to be schooled. I sent a reply to her, telling her that in my own personal opinion, Doux Tiberios might be a suitable tutor for her.




After much waiting, scouts gave report of a regiment of Aghlabid soldiers approaching the island of Sicily from the north. It would seem that the North African Sultan, lacking ships for transports, marched his army from Tunisia and through Italy via Spain and France. While the enemy was still weak, with the cooperation of the Imperial Fleet, once the infidels had set foot on Messina, I gave orders for a two-pronged attack from Rhegion and Syracuse.


Leading the vanguard myself, I could see that our forces were slightly disadvantaged due to the terrain.

“Your orders, Sire.”

I turned to see my Lieutenant, anxiously awaiting my orders.

“Prepare the archers for a volley then immediately prepare for a melee. Position the Ensigns near the flanks where they are visible to our flanking Commanders.”

“Yes, Your Majesty. Archers up front!”

“Archers up front!”

I could hear the various Centurions repeating the orders given by my Lieutenant.

“Archers ignite!”

“Archers ignite!”

“Draw!”

“Draw!”

“Release!”

“Release!”

Hundreds of arrows struck the enemy soldiers, resulting in heavy casualties. Despite the losses, they returned fire, where our forces attempted to protect themselves from the incoming arrows. As the frontline infantry prepared to engage in a melee, I rode out with a company of horse archers where we would harass the enemy infantry until our soldiers arrived.


Noticing that the enemy vanguard had light armour as opposed to their reserves, I signalled a frontal charge to the heavy infantrymen to break down their line. After much fighting, our army broke through, proving my tactics to be successful.

 
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LumberKing

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Chapter VIII

A Certain Victory

Battles after battles, sieges after sieges, the war was going very well for us. No matter who joined the fray and what tactics or strategies they tried, us Romans were always a step ahead of them. With that in mind, I left the field in charge of my officers and returned back to the palace to deal with some civil matters.

Not too long after our success at Lipari, I received words from my Spymaster of a potential theft from the Imperial treasury.


After gathering the paperworks I decided to confront my Steward, Doux Sisinnios regarding the inconsistencies of the treasury reports.


He denied any knowledge and further investigation by the Imperial Spymaster proved his innocence. However, I was not so convinced as of yet.

For now, I put the whole financial affairs out of my mind to focus on the future strategies on running the war. Some minor interesting plot came up regarding an assassination attempt on a courtier of mine, but this was no concern.


It was October, eight hundred and seventy five years after the birth of our saviour. I was enjoying the peace and quiet when I heard rumbling noises and some shouting outside. What I saw was rather a shock to me; over a thousand Egyptian soldiers were marching right across Constantinople! Seeing the nearest guardsman I called him over.

“What in the name of God is going on here!”

“I am not sure, sire, they just came out of nowhere and are reported to head towards Sicily.”

“What!? You’re telling me, they went right through Asia Minor without anyone noticing? That’s pretty much the heart of the entire Empire!”

I quickly decided put my armour on and send my messenger via fast boats to bring in the main army from Syracuse. About a week later, I joined in with the rest of my forces and engaged the enemy at Gallipoli.


Timing was not on my side currently, despite needing to be in my top mental condition, I caught some kind of illness which would put down my performance in the battlefield.


Fortunately, the brave Roman soldiers did not rely on my top physical strength as the battle swayed in our favour nevertheless. Having nearly five thousand soldiers really did not hurt. Also, as if the illness was a trial sent by God for me to overcome, as soon as the battle on the field was won, so was the one for my health.




As I decided to review on what had happened, my son Constantine decided to visit me. Aspiring the Legion, he went out of his way to meet new people and talk to the Commanders of the field. Such thing was something I decided to encourage.


As the war started to draw to a close, I received reports on a rumour of a final offensive the Aghlabid Sultanate might pull off to try and lift the sieges against the infidel Sicily. Wanting to be prepared, I gathered fresh troops and rendezvoused at Constantinople where I personally inspected the troops with the Imperial Marshal. Afterwards, we set sail towards Syracuse, where once we had arrived we would set camp at await the enemy arrival.

It was around the Ides of March, the year after, when a thousand and five hundred men arrived at Messina. After organizing the formation, we marched to engage the enemy one last time.


“How did the enemy gather so many troops? It was not too long ago when the combined Aghlabid-Tulunid offensive was completely repelled and routed.” I wondered out loud.

“They probably hired mercenaries, Your Majesty. Despite their barbarism, they are known for their wealth.” One of my Commanders replied.

“Bulgarian mercenaries sire, it has been confirmed by the scouts.”

“Damn those Bulgarians, don’t they know they are fighting their fellow Christians!?”

It was quite outrageous to think that anyone would fight alongside an infidel against those of the same faith.

“Well sire, anyone can be a Christian to them if they have enough gold.”

“In that case, let’s give them a tough lesson. Giddiyah!”

“Wait, sir-”

“CHARGE!!!”


Despite my recklessness, it was a victory that day though we did lose a bit more troops than anticipated. We all returned home after the fierce battle at Messina, everyone going back to the families awaiting them. When I arrived back at the palace, my youngest son, Alexander, came to me asking about:


The only thing I could really say was that he will be enlightened once he got older. Of course, he did not believe me at all, but what was I supposed to say?


It was around a month or two after the final battle when I returned to Sicily. The Sultan of Africa, accompanied by his retinue, personally came to greet me.

“Your Imperial Majesty, we acknowledge our defeat and your right to claim these lands as yours. Here is the treaty to the terms”


And with that, the war was finally over.


With the island of Sicily finally liberated, I now needed some Provincial Governors to govern these reclaimed lands as well as to help undo the sacrilege done by the infidels during their occupation. So, I sent scouts throughout the Empire for people with any particular talents where four candidates caught my eyes. Three lowborns and one from a minor nobility, they were working for various public officials throughout the realm where their talents were essentially being wasted when they ought to be working for the Imperial office.



Now with the war over and the administrative dealings mostly taken care of, even the Emperor had to go back being a family man. Despite her age and her physical disability, my youngest child, Helena, was seen often getting into fights. Not just petty fights, but rather vicious and unlike her older siblings, she had yet to learn to speak and as such communications were back to square one.


However, thanks to the efforts of the nanny and her mother, Eudokia, after many attempts, she finally learned to calm down and not attack other toddlers just for the sake of it. Hopefully, this will remain for perpetuity and not become like her maternal ancestors who were known for barbarism.


Alas, peace had come, but I knew very well it would not last very long and with the disgruntlement of the various governors throughout the Empire, it was essential to appease them through whatever means necessary. As such, I decided to host a Grand Tournament where everyone can show off their martial prowess.

 
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LumberKing

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Chapter IX

The Calm Before the Storm

As the preparations for the Grand Tournament was under way, I announced to the Senate that my son Stephen was to be elevated to that of a Co-Emperor like his older brothers.


Whether they liked this or not was none of my concern. Just about a month after my announcement, a guardsman and a crying Stephen came to me. Upon inquiring, I learnt that his tutor, the Ecumenical Patriarch Ignatios had fallen very ill and now was in a coma.



After all that trouble of installing him, he had to die on me. Such a pity, but it did not matter in the end. After finding a new guardian for Stephen, I asked the high ranking members of the Church on the candidates for the next Patriarch. The acting Patriarch, Photios, who was also the previous Patriarch until I deposed him, gave me vague answers as though not to give away any hints in fear of Imperial interference.


Although a little bit annoyed, I did not concern myself too much into the religious politics as I was going to have my hands full on the upcoming Grand Tournament.


I did anticipate some injuries as this tournament was going to be all about martial prowess, however I did not anticipate what was to become of it...


It wounded, maimed, and even killed several noblemen, but none of it mattered when news came that the Thematic Governor of the Aegean Islands, Doux Marinos, my very own brother, was among those who were reposed to the Lord. It was very upsetting indeed as him and our father were essential for my elevation to that of a sole Emperor for without them, I probably would have been killed myself. Now, they were both gone. With that somberly in the back of my mind, I ordered my assistant, or a squire as the barbarians in the West called them, to present me an arsenal fitting for an Emperor. Doux Theodoros noticed this and begged me to stop, but I would have none of it.


A match that was to determine the overall winner of the tournament, I was to face off with the tournament favourite, Zacharias of Androusa, a minor nobleman.

“I see you are in good shape, Your Majesty.”

“And to you too, good sir.”

After we were equipped with our armour and armed with our swords, the match had begun. I charged at him like a madman only for him to dodge it easily and counter it with a jab at the side which I managed to parry. I went for a second swing at him, but he blocked it with his shield and swung his sword at me which I barely managed to dodge. Then as if he was anticipating that, he brought his shield up and rammed it against me resulting in me losing my footing. The match at that stage seemed to be over, but instead of asking me to yield he decided to gloat.

“No offence to you, Your Majesty, but your combat skills are rather sloppy. Your brother, Marinos had some elegance in his style unlike yours, Your Majesty. Although I must say, elegance does not guarantee victory, since I was able to defeat him with a blow to the head. I wonder how he is now...”

“He is dead.”

Stunned, for a moment, he did nothing. Staring at me blankly. Taking advantage of this situation, I quickly got up and barged into him. After that I threw away my shield and punched him in the face resulting in a sickening crunching sound. People seemed to forget that before I was in politics, I used to fight in tournaments, killing people with my bare hands. As he tried to regain his composure, I swung my sword downwards catching his right hand.


Disabled, the match was over and a victor declared. I had nothing personally against Zacharias, it was a martial tournament and physical injuries were expected. However, that did not mean that I was okay with Marinos dying.



With the Grand Tournament over, I returned to my office and decided that we had enough of a break. Now we had to get back to our sworn duty.


Krete was an island part of Imperial territories until infidel pirates conquered it. Now it was ruled by an Andalusian Emir who was known being diplomatic, but useless in everything else.


Now, there were a lot of Varangians residing in Constantinople, my wife Eudokia being one of them. Known to be fierce raiders, I decided to put them to good use and formed a regiment unit solely composed of them.


I had the Imperial Chancellor to draft several letters of declarations. These letters will be sent to the various Emirs in the region to announce my intention of reclaiming what was ours.






It was time, for a Reconquista.
 
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ATempler

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I, Senator Ioannes Rhodon, congratulate the Emperor on all his great victories, and for the health and wellness of his family. No doubt, his virility has only increased his skill in these pursuits, and in the size of his family. His wisdom too is beneficent, and surpasses his Senators, for I and others in my company can only wonder at his latest declaration of a reconquest of many territories long lost.

Though we do not know the full extent of the forces arrayed against us, it would appear that even our Imperial Army might find itself outmatched by the sheer number of heretics and infidels that will no doubt gather against us, like dogs gathering on a hunting lion. In this regard, it is the request of my fellows and I that scripts detailing the full composition of the enemies against us be brought to the Senate floor, so that we may find ourselves more able to advise the Emperor on whether a proper course in this latest, and most great Imperial War, should look to strike the larger or smaller enemies first and thus either swallow them whole, or let them bleed from a thousand cuts.

I relinquish the floor.
 

LumberKing

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Chapter X

The Reconquista

It was what the Ancients called the Ides of March, eight hundred and seventy seventh year of our Lord. Before embarking, I visited the Senate where there were some concern regarding my recent announcement. It was almost as though they felt threatened by the waning of their influence in the Republic as a whole. Regardless, as Emperor, it was my duty to inform them and put them at ease. I gave a detailed report of the current status of our army as well as the establishment of the new Cataphract Regiment and the Varangian Guard, which would serve as the main shock troopers against the enemies. Once I decided that the Senate was informed enough, I left the floor.

Before the day was over, I sent orders to all the generals of the realm and set up a rendezvous point at Dorylaion. As the sun began to set, I led the march from Constantinople. Everything will start, once I personally arrived at Dorylaion.


On the way to Dorylaion, we came upon a monastery. There I saw some books which Leo would be interested in. Although we were now at war, I decided buying a few would not impede our expedition.


How right I was, from a letter received from the palace, while Constantine was placing tears in the eyes of women, all Leo did was spend time on his theological studies, something which I decided to encourage.


The letter also informed me that my fourth son, Alexander, was now in need of tutorship. With my hands already full, I replied that whoever has a good reputation as a steward will be his guardian.




It was around September when we reached our rendezvous point, while news arrived about back at home that the Ecumenical Patriarch Ignatios died.




With almost fifteen thousand men, the expeditionary force would be something to be reckoned with. Once all the inspection was completed, we marched towards Adana. Upon arrival, I noticed that the walls were hardly populated, as such I gave the orders to assault the castle, resulting in our first victory.




While marching towards Tarsos, a messenger from the palace informed me that my eldest child, Anastasia, was now of age.


Having heard that the Holy Roman Emperor, Louis II of Italy and Middle Francia had recently become widowed, I arranged for a marriage between him and my daughter, which he was all too pleased to accept.




Just as we arrived in Tarsos, an envoy from Cyprus informed me that the Cypriot front was not going well with the castle of Limmassol being captured by the Andalusian pirates.


Though unfortunate, it was of no consequences for now, as I was intending on assaulting the island once my expedition on the mainland was complete. Sieges after sieges, one of the Emirs decided to form a counter-attack. After gathering nearly four thousand warriors, they marched to lift some of the sieges, but of course I had anticipated this and as such I marched the army myself to meet them at Germanias.


After weeks of fighting, the battle was won. With a minimal amount of casualty, we routed the enemy forces, forcing them on a hasty retreat which I was all too happy chase.


After many battles, I learnt that simply giving orders was not enough when it came to battlefield tactics and strategies. Though one can learn the theories and the arts, by the end of the day, these soldiers were human with real emotions meaning they could get scared. The best way to deal with that I found was to inspire them and lead them by example. With that, I could guarantee victory for every battles I lead.

The Battle of Germanak was a final victory against one of the Emirs. Though I lost over a hundred men that day, we managed to slaughter an entire regiment, all two thousand three hundred and twenty warriors. With that, a part of Cilicia was reclaimed for the glory of Rome.




With that, the morale of our troops was now at its peak as we marched towards the city of Apostles, Antioch. The war against the Antiochene Emir was quick, since he had no armies of his own. Sieges after siege, the Emir was quick to surrender before fleeing to the Abbasid Caliphate to the south.


Despite having the ability to do so, the former Ecumenical Patriarch, Photios, chose not to assume his previous office after the death of Ignatios. It was as though he accepted my decision as Emperor to be final. There was no doubt in my mind that the Synod to choose a new Patriarch approached him, yet he chose to pass the office to someone else. Impressed, I decided to appoint him to a separate office entirely; Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.


Though ranked only fourth in the Pentarchy of Justinian compared to Constantinople's second, this seat came with its own prestige in that the city of Apostles was where the term “Christian” was first coined, as such it was no small thing when I decided to appoint him to this office.

 
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