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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

knppel

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It is indeed. Specially as the Epirotian army, being beaten by the Pelloponneses to have pretty much our size, was regenerating, standing on their own country.
Thus, striking quickly and deceisively before they could recover their strength was as adamant for success as Leo and Theodore's haste indicates.
Truth be told:
Leo had indeed learned organizer from studying warfare, and thus was able to march his men up on the Epirotians not just before they could recover, but indeed before they could fully regain their morale.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Chapter eight

No prisoners

Naupaktos, April 781

Theodore was chasing a handful of fleeing Epirots through the hills. He had lost close contact to his men, Phillipos was far to his left with his guard, but he paid this no mind. They'd catch up in time.
Important was to chase down as many of the fleeing soldiers of the enemy as possible. Theodore casually slashes his sword to the left, as he rode down another man, not bothering to turn for the man's screaming or to check wether he was still running.
Theodore kept pursuing for over a mile, until he finally slowed down his speed, and gave the few scattered men that still fled down the hill a gaze from atop his horse.
"You run today, but we'll be back by next year!"
He elegantly reared his horse and turned in a sharp bow, directing his steed towards where his father and the army should be.
That was a good pose, he thought, as he rode back towards the celebrating men, cleaning his sword with a cloth. A pity I had no painter here, indeed.

Leo, Eremaios and Oghuz were meanwhile securing the Epirotian baggage train the army had gotten hold of, while the men already were celebrating- all against his usual conduct, Lord Leo had on the spot decided to open the two casks of beer secured from the enemy's supplies, to the great joy of the men, who were happy, but exhausted, having marched in haste all week only to give battle to the enemy on first sight.
Leo glanced around, and saw Theodore rearing his horse, over a mile in the distance on the edge of the hill.
That'd be an image for an artist, he thought, and smiled to himself. No question, what Leo Skleros had for numbers, his son had for battle- talent, and the will to use it.
It was a rare moment, but Leo was actually looking forward to see his eldest son for once, as he meant to honestly congratulate him and give some well deserved praise for his stern and deceisive command today.
Every single man had done their task today, no question- but it also was out of question credit for this should go to Theodore, who had held the line for the whole day and organised his charge just when it was time.

976cf998ccaaa2ee8c007cfe279336d0.png

When Theodore reached the plundering army, he was greeted with salutes and cheers from all sides. He stopped his horse briefly, smiled happily and waved.
This was what he had been born and trained for. War, the thrill and rush of battle, the cheers of the men after a victory.
Theodore was a proud man in general, as suited his position as son of the Lord, but he could not recall ever having been actually so satisfied by one of his achievements.
And what was best, his father seemed alive and healthy, and also of the opinion he did well today, judging from his friendly gaze.
So much to bad dreams.
Even if the good part had worked out so far. But that was nothing Theodore wanted to ponder over further.
Theodore stopped his horse, handed the girdle to a squire and approached his father on foot, taking off his helmet in the motion, and bowed deeply as he faced him.

"My son!" Leo waved him to raise casually, then approached and pressed his son to his chest, hugging him both arms, and pecked his forehead.
"I am so proud, you did very well today."
He got an arm's distance from his son, his hand on Theodore's shoulder. Gosh, the lad had gotten huge. All the athletics and training at arms certainly was shaping his son.
Theodore smiled and nodded obediently.
"Thank you, my Lord. 't was nothing, given our perfectly orchestrated plan I just had to act out."
"You're learning understatement, good, Eremaios will approve."
Father and son laughed, while the priest rolled his eyes.

Oghuz approached the duo, as they went off to inspect their bounty and take the death counts.
The steppe rider himself had the head of the enemy commander, Rodislav, fastened to his spear as a trophy.
"Of ours?"
"Ten and eight fell, my Lord, and another twenty or so suffered injuries that will keep them from fighting." Eremaios reported.
"Of the enemy?"
"We're yet counting the dead and wounded, but it has to be around two hundred. And another fifty surrendered and are prisoner. Captain Oghuz has hold of them."
The mercenary nodded and grinned.
Leo whistled impressed.
"Now that I call a victory indeed. What about the prisoners, and ransom?"
"I have, but they're worthless, none of them can afford a noteworthy ransom, they're just peasants from the nearby villages. What shall be done with them?"
Leo contemplated a moment.
"From the nearby villages, you say?"
Again the man nodded.
"Yes, a banner of guards resisted on the flight, we cut them down. The armed peasants then surrendered."
"Give them some water, take their arms if any are left, and send them back to their fields. We don't need no prisoners. Prisoners just cost money. Don't drive them far off, I want them to tend the fields here nearby in future years to come, not in Epirus."
"As you command."

The mercenary grinned and saluted crudely, a gesture he had picked up while serving alongside the disciplined Theban soldiers.
"And what's next now?" Eremaios, being a clergyman, needed to be pointed out the obvious as usual. Theodore gladly assisted.
"Well, now we'll set up camp infront the castle, occupy the local tavern, and start to build ladders and rams for our siege of Naupaktos.
And then we wait until they surrender!"
 

HistoryDude

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The Church disapproves of this attack? Nobody cares about them anyway. And that’s a good point about Orthodoxy during this time.

Son’s son - the cryptic language expected from a prophecy.

Nice to know why there are some Suomenusko people in Greece...

Slowing down updates might be a good idea, by the way - you update really quickly, which is fine, but hard to keep up with for readers...
 

knppel

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Slowing down updates might be a good idea, by the way - you update really quickly, which is fine, but hard to keep up with for readers...
Oh,I know, me and my quick fingers. What can I say, it's just not like I really had to put any effort into this, the game pretty much wrote the story for me x).
That I've already played far further than here naturally just helps (specially with making up prophecies, as I do already know what the future will bring ;) )

The (temporary) conversion to a pagan faith out of sheer opportunism to access for a county conquest cb was one of the initial plots prepared in the sleeve- Having a pagan liege himself, indeed Leo could be pretty sure no one would give as much as a fart over whom he worshipped.
Once he had the piety, he was already studying with scholarship focus and a hefty cynic, so picking the really odd/ridiculous faith that no one- specially not his bishop- could possibly find any sense in, opposed to the slavic common in the area, was quite amusing for Leo.
I might add that I didn't even play it fully gamey, and for instance abstained from joining the warrior lodge as Leo. Because he was no warrior. A stupid mistake, in hindsight... :D

Needless to point out, while perfectly serving Leo with his limited area of interest, it later caused lots of shenanigans, as some kids were born suomenusko, due to this.
Like his son. Not the eldest. Theo was Iconoclast, as mentioned. But, you know. ;)
 

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Chapter nine

Bad dreams are made of this

Naupaktos, summer 781

Theodore and Leo dined together in the local tavern of the village around the keep of Naupaktos, which they had occupied as the commanding center for the siege.
The wooden palisade around the village had been razed by the raid earlier and already was no obstacle, but Alexios, Lord of Naupaktos and Vassal to High Chief Dimitrij, had barricaded in his keep with a few douzen remaining men and women and what supplies they had hidden from the Slavs.
Being located on a cliff over the village and only to be reached through narrow, steep paths, Naupaktos' keep offered an excellent defensive position.

However, while preventing the Thebans, or any raiding force for that behalf, from outright assault, this position was precarious once the village was occupied by besiegers: The tower of Naupaktos had no well.
It was usually supplied from a small nearby ditch passing by the tower and village, but Leo had told Theodore of this, and they had dispatched soldiers to occupy the area between the tower and its water source, to prevent the defenders fresh water supplies.
Thus, it would be a matter of time until the the tower fell, not a matter of strength.

That last part was clearly settled- the Epirotians, in a vain attempt to outsmart the Thebans, had tried to move their remaining army over Thessalia in June, aiming to lay siege to Thebes. Theodore had briefly raised the siege, attacked them on their passage in the mountainous passes his father knew so well, once more routed them back to Epirus and swiftly resumed his siege.
What was even better: both the shaman and mayor of Epirus had been captured by Theodore's men. While Leo had planned his campaign carefull and was not worried to stem the cost from his demesne's income, the ransom they paid for their freedom coincidentally made this campaign a short term profit rather than a long term investment.
Leo liked this, and morale was accordingly good in the Theban army. They had fresh water, too, after all.

"It'll be a matter of time until they surrender, father. We've questioned the peasants, for all we know it's quite impossible Lord Alexios has supplies for more than a short winter in his keep."
Theodore shook his head, while dipping his bread in the spiced oil mixture his goat cheese was swimming in.
"Not after the raid prior to us coming up, no."
Leo nodded in agreement.
He was only listening with one ear- if there was one thing letting him sleep peacefully, it was the knowledge that his son would be organizing the siege as good as he could, and spare him the tasks of organizing and planning the detailed movement and deployment of several hundred spears and bows in the ongoing siege.
Theodore, on the other hand, seemed alive like he never had been before since the battle. Lowkey, Leo regretted he had not been able to give the young man command of an army earlier to make his fortune. He certainly was good at it.

"Why so gloomy, father?"
Theodore sat a little closer, stuffing himself with cheese, bread and olives all the while. Fitting his stature, he ate like a bear, and could also drink accordingly. Leo frowned, it was not usual that his son gazed through his faccade. Theodore usually seemed remarkably happy when not having to notice anyone's troubles to not have to deal with them.
"I've noticed it since weeks, speak to me. We're winning the war! I just wanna know what bothers you. Ever since the battle, you're all brooding and-"
Theodore sighed, stopped and looked down. Speaking honestly to his father was something he was not particularly skilled at, and thus often lacked words for it.
"If this is about Phillipos still, he was drunk and apologized, if you insist I'll punish him again, but I'd rather not, he's one of my best men."

Phillipos, Captain of Theodore's guard, had drunkenly proclaimed Theodore as Lord (of) Thebes some weeks ago during a feast hosted by the mercenaries of Oghuz.
While no action followed this proclamation, it was technically a severe break of oaths, as even if Theodore would one day be Lord of Thebes after his father, for now, they were bound in oath to Lord Leo.
To Phillipos' luck, Leo had other concerns than drunken chants of his enthusiastic army.

Leo looked up to his son, and waved off dismissively.
"No, it's not about that. It's just..." Leo sighed.
Theodore bit his lips. "I heard you screaming in your sleep various times, father. What's wrong?"
To his surprise, Leo found himself a little comforted by his son's concern.
"Just bad dreams. It's nothing, really."
Theodore washed the bite he was chewing on down with some wine and sighed relieved. Thankfully, after his great victory father had had some delivered from home.
"Oh thank god. I was honestly worried. But if it's just dreams."
This comment made Leo chuckle.
"Just dreams, is it? Wasn't you the one running around telling everybody you had foreseen our great victory on Mount Parnassus?"
His son laughed gently and blushed, being busted.
"Come on, you'd done the same in my place! I could hardly tell the men I saw rivers of our own blood, right?"

Leo went pale, while his thankfully son refocused on olives, bread and cheese and seemed not to notice.
"What?"
Theodore shrugged, without to look up, as he was busy stuffing as much cheese and olives as fitted withoutto completely burst it in his piece of flat bread.
"Well it was a dream, I saw all kind of stuff. You once explained me how this works years ago, didn't you? Memories and exptectations and fears and I don't recall the remainder of it."
He bit in his bread and chewed for a little, until he noticed his father was not as usually following up right away with dismissal or an inquisitive question.
The elder Skleros looked at his son, Theodore now frowned too as he saw his father's dark expression.

"What did you dream?"
Theodore looked to the side immediately, just for a moment. Not remarkable, but he could not fool his own father. Leo knew he could expect a half-truth at best.
"I don't remember most of it. Me on the horse, riding down men. Which I happened to do by coincidence. I've seen a woman."
Theodore gulped and took another sip of wine, then looked to his father.
"And?"
Theo grimaced, but did not reply right away. Then he slammed his fist on the table.
"So what? And even if I did see our blood too, 's but a dream. And it's not happened anyway. Oghuz was close to you all the time and you got no scratch and the Epirots are beaten and by Easter next year we'll celebrate in Thebes."
Theodore snorted and emptied his wine cup.

Leo sat in shock, and decided to not dig any deeper, as his son clearly was more agitated than him by this anyway.
As much as he wished he'd stick to his own rational ideals and his son's approach to dismiss a dream as what it was, but a dream, the ressemblance was scaringly strange.
Leo looked down on himself briefly, while his son stood up. "Excuse me, I need some fresh air." Leo nodded permission.
So far, he wasn't cut open from head to bottom. His son was obviously right.
And that he too had dreamed of literal rivers of his own blood just some dumb coincidence.
If only he'd not recall it every night. Leo sighed one last time and raised from the table.
Maybe his son was smarter than he dubbed him, after all.
Engaging in the siege organisation might prove more fruitful for healthy sleep than brooding over bad dreams.

After a dreamless, but too short sleep, Leo was woken early before sundawn by Phillipos.
"Pardon me, we have visitors, Sire!"
"Visitors?" Leo sat up and rubbed his eyes. At least he had a bed in the inn's best room- that was, the room, which was separated from the sleeping hall- and was not confined to a sleeping bag anymore.
"It's High Chief Miroslav's thirteenhundred men from Achaia!"
 
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Hmm, Leo seem like a superstitious man. Theodore seems more reasonable, which is an interesting reversal of their usual dynamic.

Whelp, that ending is a cliffhanger - are these men friend or foe?
 
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knppel

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A wonderful question. And it wouldn't be a proper cliffhanger if I didn't stray aside at this point to completely derail the ongoing story.
Mortal affaires this time, no worries. Things that like, actually happened in the game and might not just be the product or interpretation of an overly creative mind of an old man with growing superstitious feelings.
The product of his loins, rather.



A few things have to be mentioned at this point:
After, well, actually just nine years of a happy marriage, Leo's wife Augusta had died in 776 after a period of illness following the birth of her third child and only son, Maurice.
Not being bound by the approval of his bishop and the patriarch of Constantinople anymore, Leo was free to remarry.
As Augusta, a woman of brilliant mind skilled in everything but producing a child of equally brilliant mind, had maybe direly failed at giving him a son that was as smart as she was and Leo at least considered himself, but been more than just a reliable assistance in his important tasks as Lord of Thebes, he decided to remarry pretty soon.

e25816aecf33ec9dbe08f56ba203dafc.png


While Lantsuinda lacked the brilliant mind of the former Countess of Thebes, she met important other requirements:
-At least in hushing her husband's guards around and picking up vicious rumours (or making them up herself), her skills rivaled that of Augusta.
-She was willing to come to Greece at all despite her father ruling rich lands in Valais, sparing the lowly Lord of Thebes, subject to a Pagan Chieftain, a marriage to a lowborn woman of the area, as no one worth of notice would marry his daughter to him. It might have been that Leo paid her originally.
-She was definitely better in bed, which is asserted by the testimony of Theodore.

While Leo, being chaste, was wearing his pants in this relationship, she typically wore none and in short time conceived a child with him, which was born during the war with the Epirotians.
Being as cynical as her husband, she named the boy Innokentius, after the ruling bishop of Rome.
While she had no clue about theology, and neither cared, she knew enough about politics to know this would greatly provoke Bishop Eremaios, who followed the verdict of the Patriarch of Constantinople (or tried to, the verdicts were confusing and often contra-dicting with Orthodox and Iconoclast Emperors taking turns).

This later led to interesting developement, of course due to higher mights and women plotting and not due to the author's ignorance towards a third born son that wasn't going to get shit anyway.
b5c55c4845401e857cc0c7e8497d3442.png

Source: Ioustipedia

Due to the period of Iconoclasm and the Theban rulers not ever stopping this for decades, no contemporary portraits of her youth exist (again: This is not due to the author's carelessness or ignorance towards matters that might have proved interesting or relevant in hindsight!).
Lantsuinda outlived all Skleros males she ever slept with, became an eyewitness to a bigger part of Justin's conquest of Persia, being still hot and travelling with the army as concubine of his cousin Theodore (not Leo's son Theodore the Festive, but, Theodore's son Theodore the Bull).
The officialy banned heretic sect of the reformed Ioustinonuskos (which is lowkey tolerated in the empire for the obvious reason it's a bit flattering for the Emperor to be praised as a god by some people) still worships her alongside her grandson as the earthly incarnation of Aphrodite, and even in the official Hellenic church her (purported) image of youth is often used to represent statues of Aphrodite in temples.
A complaint that his daughter would be a much better image of the goddess by one of his Persian Satraps Justin reportedly once dismissed, drunk during a feast, allegedly remarking that
His grandmother was most certainly prettier as he came out of her, and Prince Khosrov's daughter would first need a bit of him in her to catch up. Which Ioustinos swiftly delivered, taking the Bavandid princess as one of his concubines.
The man bold enough to correct Justin's obvious mistake in this comment was made Lord of Friaul. He was originally from Finland.
 
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Chapter ten

Lust, money and power

Thebes, August 781

Lantsuinda, Lady of Thebes through her marriage to Leo of House Skleros, was seated on the balcony of the High Tower of Thebes, watching the bustling market place from her elevated position and listening to the reports of Damianos, the mayor of the town and speaker of the bhurgers and merchants.
Always interested in thriving trade, Leo had found no objection to his newly wed young wife starting to liaise with the local citizens upon her arrival.

Her standing was not an easy one originally, as Leo's first wife, Augusta, had been beloved by his subjects for her kind and humble nature, over all being blessed with a towering intellect and most impressive diplomatic abilities.
To make up for this, Lantsuida possessed a brave and headstrong nature (up to the point some called her stubborn), and the shameless readyness to use her feminine graces to make men jump in her favour.

It was her fifth year in Thebes, and by far the happiest one. All in all, she had grown to like Greece, surprisingly enough. What had been a desparate move to escape the fate of being sealed in a convent of nuns and monks in Valais for her lifetime by her father, had turned out to be not as bad at all.
Her husband might be old, but he was shrewd and thrifty and his city rich, and as the Lady of Thebes, all these luxuries streaming through town lay at her disposal.
Opposed to his general conduct of being mean with money, Leo was more than willing to spoil his young wife a little, and generously looked away when she maintained social activities that would not befit a Lady normally. For this, even the Theban citizens, originally not to fond of their foreign Mistress, had gotten to like her a little.
Life was good.

And what was best about all, while her husband currently was off fighting some neighbours, she was heavily pregnant with his child at home.
Absolutely not wanting to risk the health of her unborn child, Lantsuinda had confined herself to rest during the pregnancy.
Her husband's High Tower, overlooking all of Thebes and even topping the church in heigth, offered ideal conditions for this.
She made ready use of these, since while a pregnancy demanded rest an d the avoiding of hard tasks, it also meant she could impossibly idle.
Not if her husband was to be Lord of Thebes and Naupaktos soon.

"Explain me again, please, my dear Damianos. How exactly is the inheritage of my Lord Husband regulated?"
While not necessarily her concern to deal with, the simple argument that precautions in case something happened to her husband or his son need been taken had convinced Damianos easily to evaluate question of local law to her. Besides this, the man was wax in her hands anyway. Not that she would give him any chance, but as most mayors, Damianos was unmarried, and the young wife in his liege's court just quite attractive, even if a bit shy.

"Well, it is simple, after Lord Leo's death, his rule will pass to his son, Theodore by the traditional law of inheritance of the eldest son."
She nodded, that she knew, obviously. She was aiming in a different direction.
"But what about his younger son? What about Maurice?"
Damianos pondered briefly. While being the legal expert of the town, he was no actual expert, but he was an honest man and wished to report his Lady truthfully.
"It's hard to say, the boy is but three. Once he's of age and Theodore Lord, he'll be supplied with a post as commander or if he's capable on the council, and as master of the Horse or such, then most likely Maurice will plot to kill one of Theodore's children to rank up in the line of inheritance and end up banished for that or something, you know how it usually runs, my Lady."

That she knew too- Theodore had a son already, and she had dismissed the plan to murder him and his son and his baby brother as even if she might get away with all of this, she might still have a daughter, and Leo had two older daughters too, and this was all just a bit much even if Thebes was rich.
She raised an index finger to interrupt.
"No, let me be more specific. I was thinking about Naupaktos."

For a few seconds she had to observe how it started to work behind Damianos's forehead, his mouth slightly opened, his eyes widened, as her words opened a horizon of new questions infront of him. Then he nodded slowly, scratching his chin.
"Well, I suppose in case the war's won as planned, so god wills, Maurice might inherit Naupaktos one day, indeed. I've not tought of that."

Lantsuinda's shy nature and the preemptively cocked eyebrow allowed her to conceal her apparent joy over this question.
She dismissed the mayor, not without to turn on her seating a little to give the poor man a glance on her body. These wide greek dresses in antique style really suited her current curves. She blushed and looked away as he bowed out, walking backwards, gawking until he bumped into her stoic door guard, Peleikos.

So Maurice might inherit Naupaktos one day, she thought, as she leaned on the balcony. Maybe I should make use of that.
 

HistoryDude

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Lantsuinda’s proving to be an interesting character.

Also, that’s a lot of suspiciously specific denials...

Also, nice to know a little bit about the new Hellenic faith(s). I wonder how the actual Aphrodite feels about how Lantsuinda’s remembered...
 

knppel

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Lantsuinda’s proving to be an interesting character.
Leo's supposed second wife Augusta (Theodore being from an unknown mother) tragically, despite also being greatly loved by her husband and gifting him three children, besides doubling his skill in steward and trippling it everywhere else, did just not get the time for this.

In hindsight, of course this all had to be exactly that way, as Lantsuida, not being lowborn, adds a longer lineage to the family branch of Innocent. And lineage mattered in these times, after all, if one had great ambitions.


Also, that’s a lot of suspiciously specific denials...

Also, nice to know a little bit about the new Hellenic faith(s). I wonder how the actual Aphrodite feels about how Lantsuinda’s remembered...
The developement of the faith, which in retrospective of course indeed started here, even if it happened for pure tactical reasons without paying any mind to the gods at this point, is going to be an interesting one indeed.

What will prevail is a certain pragmatic approach. Until someone becomes zealous, of course.
On a meta-level, the base was shaped all along: The gods don't concern themselves too much with mortal affaires. It's up to us humans to sort things in a civilized manner by weasling our way into finding a reason to wage war on our neighbour. Or something like that.
 

knppel

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Chapter Eleven

Pelloponnese Plunderers

To his great relief, Leo could spot right away that his army had not been caught in their sleep same as he had been by the arrival of the new guests.
Theodore had rallied a banner at the tavern and two others to secure the baggage train of the Thebans, just in case, while the Slavs, marching under the banner of High Chief Miroslav of the Pelloponnes, rummaged the village.
Not that there was much to find, anymore, but while there were passing by- and it was not like the half-as-strong Theban army would attempt to stop them.
It was not their land, yet, after all.

The Commander of the raiding band turned out to be the fifteen year old High Chief Miroslav in person, who made two of his warriors carry him around on a shield, for once to impress, for a second to have a better overview.
A clergyman that followed him closeby acted as his greek translator and apparently tutor.

After asserting the scene with a look around, Leo found Theodore walking up to him. His face expressed all but joy, it was evident the arrival of the other army had, while not yet open hostilies, caused trouble at least.
"Thank god you're awake, father. That boy on the shield there demand to speak to the Lord Commander of the army, in person, and no one else."
Theodore rolled his eyes, his fist clenched around his sword's hilt (which was thankfully sheathed).

Leo just nodded, he could imagine how amusing it must have been for his son to play the errand for some Serbian Kid half his age and size. Actually he was surprised Theo had managed to not cause a ruccus. Then again, estimatedly Philipos had not been wrong, the troops from Achai mostly likely doubled his and Theo's small army in manpower. And while Theodore was hot-headed, he did not lack the necessary cunning and common sense to not just outrightly start a fight in such a position.
And Leo either had no mood to test here and now whether one Greek soldier could be worth two serbian ones.


The parley turned out to be a short one. High Chief Miroslav was rude and demanding, but not openly hostile.
While he refused direct negotiations, Leo was able to get out of the Bishop of Achaia - a fellow Iconoclast on good terms with Eremaios- that after his succesful raid on Naupaktos last winter, High Chief Miroslav had set out for loot again.

Apparently the young Chief was quite beliked by his soldiers, after having rallied them despite the death of his father in battle against the Epirots in winter, safely in command of his force- Theodore's reconneisseurs indeed counted over thirteenhundred men under arms.
And now he was intent to put them to more use.

By noon the Pelloponneses had all rallied ashore and marched right out, eastwards, after finding to no big surprise, that there was nothing left to plunder here in Naupaktos.

Leo was gazing after them, when Theodore approached his side, looking left and right. Where the young man had seemed concerned about the situation, but not worried this morning, he now looked quite stressed.
"Father, there's a massive problem."
"Then speak."
"Phillipos knows a few of their men, served with them in his time as sellsword, he spoke to them."
"And?"
"Chief Miroslav is marching for Thebes, he plans to plunder our tower."
 

HistoryDude

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Well, that isn’t good.

But if the Achaean army is marching on Thebes... who’s defending Achaea?
 

knppel

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But if the Achaean army is marching on Thebes... who’s defending Achaea?

A wonderful question, and inspired by reading some other AAR's here I was just thinking of breaking the political situation down a little, which will also give an answer to this question.
As before sadly counts, due to the factual irrelevance of the Lords of Thebes for the bigger political picture at this time, there's a dire lack in contemporary screenshots of this early period.
Similarly, most stuff going on more than fifty miles away from Thebes was typically irrelevant for them at this time, with one notable exception that was quite important.

By 781, by far the world's topdog was- quel surprise- the Abbasid Caliphate, which was expanding into Abyssinia and the North-African coast swiftly and unopposed.

Not kept at bay by anybody, the Khazars under the mighty Ashina Clan were rapidly subjugating north-eastern europe and growing quickly into a strong power to be reconned with.

In Western Europe, Karl Karling, King of the Franks was on the rise, following the timely death of his brother Karloman. While having failed to invade Saxony, he was at that time invading Italy and this time winning.

The Lombard King had overestimated himself by waging war on the Ummayads, which backfired and allowed Karl to invade (while this war would last for some more years, Karl would win Italy).

The Ummayads, respectively, were kept at bay by defensive wars against a rebellious vassal and the Lombards, but had united Spain quickly, which right away led to a succession crisis when the old Caliph gave lands in Navarra to his youngest son before his death to make him heir.

There's someone missing on the list, you say? Someone important?
Well, the Byzantine Empire was occupied with itself (left aside the reconquest of Benevento. Twice as they managed to lose it quickly again, so bad it was).
In short:
The Isaurian Emperor Konstantius had died and one of the generals was made heir.
Following this, two or three factions pressed for various of his children. When one of them eventually succeeded, the new halfway talented Empress died under suspicious circumstances months after, to be replaced by her useless sister, as she had blinded her other brother for whom a faction waged. Thus he was not eligible, but he had three kids.
Because this is not enough turmoil clearly, as mentioned in the narrative parts aplenty there was a whole lot of religious stirrup around the Iconoclast-movement in the Empire for the first decades.
Obviously, this was not limited to nobles fighting over which one is the true interpretation of the word of the Lord, but also involved (mostly religious) peasant revolts quite frequently.
With half the realm's provinces and lords and emperors split between Iconoclast and Orthodox teachings, someone always was unhappy enough to pick up arms.
In fact, barely anyone ever was happy to lay arms down, and may it just be for a few months.
The realm also was in constant dept due to the ridiculous fees for bapitizing children.

And this brings us back in the local neighbourhood again:
Thebes, while at times also being a dedicated center of religious tension and upset peasants, was thankfully spared of real violent uprisings.
With the High Chief of Thessaly being the by far most inactive ruler in Greece and the Balkan, Thebes suffered from neither sieges nor ravaging armies for the first decade.

Opposed to that, the High Chiefs of Epirus and the Peloponnes were more active. Epirus had lost an early war against Ohrid, the Peloponneses in return had made out to raid - and succesfully did so not just at Naupaktos, but also on the Achaean peninsula in the two provinces that paid hommage to the Basileus in Constantinople, as no army came to stop them.

Thus, the Achaeans were on the offense that year, and not fearing any threat for their hometowns.
In fact, the opportunity to take advantage of their being away was not given at this point for anyone- the Imperial Theme of Achaia had been raided, Epirus had been raided, the Emperor and Thebes were busy at war, and in fact the High Chief of Pthe Peoloponnese the one taking advantage of the Theban levies heading out.
Or, so he hoped.
 
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knppel

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Chapter twelve

Thebes under threat

With most of Thebes' armed men having marched with Leo for Naupaktos, the thirteenhundred men posed a serious threat for the well fortified city.
Several options were considered in Leo's staff:

-Theodore suggested to right away give pursuit and attack them with what they had, hoping to inflict enough casualties to push them back.
-Eremaios suggested he be sent to their capital to Proselytize them.
-Oghuz' mercenaries came up with a brilliantly cunning plan to outsmart the Peloponneses, involving, besides other things, a cudgel, a frying pan, Count Leo spending some time seducing young women to then sending them to the Achaian court to assist with plots there, a handful of hermetic ingredients (but no recipe, as there was no member of the Hermetic Society active in the Theban army at this point) and a giant bunny made out of wood.

The first option was considered by the war council, but then dismissed- everyone had seen the strength of the raiding host, and it just was too large to be attacked on the full line, and hold the own, even if Theodore, now that they were out of hearing range, of course loudly boasted how he'd take down ten for each of them with his men.

The second option was made fun of by the council, and then dismissed. Thebes was a reknowned heretic stronghold, the Lord had renounced Jesus and openly allowed the pagan faith. Also, the Bishop had no clear and easy answer to the question wether it was Iconoclasm or Orthodxy right now, which was to be indoctrinated (for the apparent reason of not having to bother anymore, Leo had stopped caring much for who exactly had the upper hand when).

The third option was praised by everyone, and would most likely have been adopted, but then news came from Syr Darya that the Captain's father, Khan of the Oghuz Turks, had died, and the Captain urgently made off with his payment for the service and his hundred steppe riders to claim his inheritage.

Left without a decent plan and hundred soldiers less, Leo and Theodore decided it would be best to do nothing themselves, but cry for help instead.

"Thank Ukko", as Leo jestingly remarked to further annoy Damianos, "for Lord Vuk being our good Liege Lord who will certainly aid us in trouble, and so forth", until Theodore interrupted him remarking it was urgent.
But yes, Lord Vuk would certainly help them, indeed. If not out of sympathy, then out of obligation.

While Not as involved in aggressive acts as his neighbours, High Chief Vuk II. was quite a formidable commander, and profited as well from the trade network established by his father and Leo ten years prior.
So he should have men ready to defend Thebes.

As Leo nominally also served Chief Vuk as a Commander, it was decided Theodore would keep up the siege of Naupaktos, while Leo with small guard would make haste for Thessaly, to alert High Chief Vuk of the dangerous threat to his lands.
Not that Leo of anyone in his city ever before had refered to High Chief Vuk as their Liege Lord, or paid hommage, left aside Leo profiting from establishing more trade for the Chief.
But oh boy, it came in handy now!

High Chief Vuk also raised 1,300 men and right away set them in march on Thebes when alerted of the arrival of the raiders.
Leo was given command of the center.
As he left not fully confident in the man on High Chief Vuk's left flank- the right was led by High Chief Vuk personally- Leo also sent Philippos back to Naupaktos with order for Theo, he'd need him personally in the battle.
Theodore, after ensuring the Epirotians would not move, left the siege to Bishop Eremaios, took the 7 leftover levies the bishop had supplied as his guard, and headed east to unite with the Thessalian army under his father, and safe the city.

In Thebes meanwhile, the atmosphere was tense- while confident in their walls, they citizens also of course knew the bulk of the armed men were not in town, and thus the walls and towers undermanned.
And on top of that, the mayor was more busy comforting the heavily pregnant Lady Lantsuinda- in defense of her honour, without to do anything inappropriate, her husband was effectively cut out of the city and could not care for her, after all.

By winter, all preparations were done, and the Thessalian army under Leo and High Chief Vuk, as well as Theodore with no force worthy to mention, arrived infront of the walls of Thebes to relieve the besieged city.
 
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Wait, how’s Lantsuinda pregnant? Did she and Leo have sex before also left on the Epirotian campaign.

Also, rely on your liege lord and do nothing - a tried and true strategy!

Not surprised that Byzantium’s a complete cesspool. Actually, I’d be more surprised if it wasn’t - there’s a reason “Byzantine” is a synonym for “complicated”.
 

knppel

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Wait, how’s Lantsuinda pregnant? Did she and Leo have sex before also left on the Epirotian campaign.

Also, rely on your liege lord and do nothing - a tried and true strategy!

Not surprised that Byzantium’s a complete cesspool. Actually, I’d be more surprised if it wasn’t - there’s a reason “Byzantine” is a synonym for “complicated”.

1. This must have been it- at least, unlike her later daughter-in-law, Lantsuinda never promoted a differing account involving what seemed to be a bull on first glance, or the likes.
On the other hand, with Leo being a chaste scholar, we cannot fully be sure if maybe he did not search and find technical solutions to spare him these tasks but still fulfill his dynastic duties.
For all that is known, though, Leo is indeed the father of all his three sons, including the youngest by Lantsuinda.

In my defense, I did mention she was pregnant initially, but put not as much emphasis on the act of conceiving as I could have, indeed.
Timeline-wise they were married for I think three or four years at this point, so there was plenty of time for her to create a situation he could not possibly avoid.

2. Amen. Or, I mean, Hail Ukko. Or which was the slavic god our liege- whatever.

3. The number of (religious) peasant revolts on top was what particularly amazed me this run. Besides the typical struggle for the throne, there was various exclaves declaring independence succesfully in the first decades, whenever a revolt managed to get through (namely, this happened in Trebizond, Benevento and even Samos).

That the realm itself was in the usually to expect troubled state I indeed took as granted for the reader to be aware.
That the Lord of Thebes shamelessly ignores religious verdicts to march on his immediate neighbours who just got raided by their other neighbours already gives a good picture of the authority of Constantinople at the present point ^^


At a later time, I'll actually start to set up overviews of the current state of affaires in the realm- thanks for highlighting this, actually. It will turn out useful.
At the current state, however these can, due to a lack of potential courtiers and other rulers taking influence, be broken down to Leo being faithful to his wife, his wife being faithful to him, and Theodore hating his hellenic lowborn spouse for cheating on him with all courtiers, trying to murder him so her son would be Lord while being restricted to visit Canssandra's Palace to make up for this as his father didn't allow him any concubines.
Or, was not able to ask him to convert , following an unreformed pagan faith. Came down to the same for poor Theodore, though.
 
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knppel

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Chapter thirteen

Raiding Thebes is forbidden

And for nothing in the world Leo would let the Achaeans break the decree now, which he had issued years ago to keep the iconoclast rabble in his city in line -and which his peasants and merchants had heeded, to his surprise and joy.

Also, it technically was his duty to defend them, not just to take their taxes and build his towers and observatories in the city from their money and send their sons to war. Unlike some other people- such as his son and heir- Leo cared a lot for justice.

Using his extraodrinary knowledge of the Greek Mountain passes, he guided High Chief Vuk's soldiers towards his own hometown, while the decision to do so was not his, he happily fulfilled the order given by his liege, as always when his own riches were concerned (he obliged both times in his life this was the case, indeed. The other time being setting up the trade route as steward, for which he got a good share).

The man pictured might not be the Chief Vuk we speak of, it's his father- but he also has a moustache!
Vuk.jpg



Now there's good news in regards of the battle and bad news.

Good news: The author decided for dramaturgical reasons the battle will take place not infront of the walls, but rather inside the city of Thebes, with Lantsuida watching from her balcony until she comes down with Innocentius, the Battle-Born (December 21st 781).

Bad news: The author again decided to skip on the narrative account of the battle mostly, so there's not much gained from this.

Good news: The Thessalians arrived in time and won a suprisingly crushing victory, dealing severe casualties to the Achaean raiders, who got caught unaware and clearly had more talent in offensive battles than when being under attack.

Bad news: Count Leo was severely injured after being caught by the enemy commander without his loyal son, in the battle of Naupaktos very chivalrous when it came to fighting enemy commanders, jumping to his aid this time and not willing to surrender his expensive Spear at any cost.

While he did not bother to consult a physician, it took no education to guess he would not make it very long.


7faf91465673a7bbeb93e5ad73f4e0ad.png

b3864e2883aff69cb21a3d2c9d3b12a2.png

Victory... yeah, right...

This had the following consequences for the protagonists:

-Count Leo obviously stayed in his bedroom, hoping to recover from his injuries, or if not recovering, than at least being unable to move.
He planned to survive long enough to focus on theologic studies instead of warfare to survive longer thus.
He also urged upon his son to uphold his brother's rights of their inheritage, which Theodore swore to do.

-Lantsuida had just came down with Innocent, but realized she could not stay idle any longer, with her position as Countess being to be overthrown soon.
-Innocent, the battle-born, came into the world, surrounded by blood, victory and sacrifice of his own father's blood. He was a bit odd
82cce0d1454f0a5ec00cd4e1ea51a803.png
, but healthy.
-Bishop Eremaios refused to baptize Innocent
4f6c55cbd3ecde9525f803b86175b29d.png
, being angry at Leo and Lantsuinda (not to speak of the soon-to-be Lord, Theodore), but feeling bold now that Leo could not run away anymore from him preaching purgatory on earth.

-High Chief Vuk gained 12 prestige and 4.2 piety for victoriously leading his troops into battle and fulfilling his obligation as liege Lord. He went home right after.

-Theodore was finally in sole charge of the army, and with his father injured in bed and High Chief Vuk home in Thessalia, claimed full credit for saving the city.
He swore his father to uphold his little brothers' right of inheritance and then returned to Nauptaktos to conduct the siege, and to plot to seize the county for himself.

-High Chief Miroslav of the Peloponnes on the other hand went home defeated and left his might and strength on the fields and streets of Thebes. D'oh.
Same as the dedicated reader above already suspected might happen, Theodore too did not miss to spot this opportunity and also began preparing a war on the Achaeans!

That means, he left the Marshal where he was (Thebes) to train troops.
 

knppel

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Chapter fourteen

Splitting heirs

Thebes/Naupaktos, Christmas 781

Open warfare came to a halt for the winter, with the Thessalians and Acheans retreating to their hometowns respectively. The only forces still in the field were an Imperial army, that had passed by Thessalia on the way to southern Italy.
And the roughly sixhundred leftover Thebans laying siege to Naupaktos.

"Oh no," Theodore lamented to Eremaios, the bishop, in Naupaktos. "My father failed to get the laws in order, and now my little brother will get Naupaktos! What are we gonna do?"

"Oh no," Lantsuinda complained to Mayor Damianos in Thebes. ""Theodore's gonna try to seize all the inheritage for himself! What are we gonna do?"

"Oh no", Leo told his cat, the only one left to stay with him as everyone else was off plotting with their favoured heir. "They're gonna start fighting and ruin it all once I am dead, kittles, we need to invest my money wisely before Theodore spends it all on barracks decorated in silk and marble!"


While technically being charged with commanding the troops, Theodore was not too occupied by this task anymore, as with some months passed to fight off the Achaeans, Lord Alexios was out of supplies by now, as a spy had notified Theodore of.
To fasten the siege, he had ordered the spy to also spread rumours about his own investigations and treason, as nothing decreases defender's morale like rumours of a spy do.

Awaiting news of his father's death any day, there was no news from home, apparently Leo was clinging onto life as of yet.


In Thebes meanwhile, others took preparations too. Lantsuinda decided to simply take precautions to take Innocent and her younger step-son, Maurice, to Naupaktos in a hurry should Leo die.

Leo himself meanwhile faced a tricky task:
He was rich, and expecting a way less business-minded heir to inherit soon. Not incapable, but presumably lacking the father's skills to literally shit gold.

Midas-Touched but content as he was, Leo managed to pull money out of thin air, without to ever counterfeit currency.

Despite the local tax income in Thebes being as low as could get with land sold off to Burgers and Thebes being a heretic stronghold with upset peasants and religious tension all the while, Leo had managed to gather a significant fortune of over 400 (four hundred) solidi in gold during his life.

He managed to do so by:
-setting up his own trade route (furs from Finland) in Thebes, and not rewarding his steward for it
-setting up a trade for High Chief Vuk in 771 (camels from Arabia), and getting a reward for this as High Chief Vuk was a nice man
-Investing in a local businesses that turned out successfull
-Selling land to bhurgers
-Supporting the carpenter's guild to safe money on his castle walls and town, and not spending on barracks

Blessed thus, Leo had been able to invest in a few prestigious projects as well. Most notably, a high tower he buildt in the middle of the city, which also contained his observatory.

In fact, it was the ridiculously low base income of Thebes that allowed him to build a Stone Quarry for around 42 gold coins when building his great tower.
Practically minded, Leo established a quarry to deliver masses of cheap limestone and not quite so cheap marble for the decorations from the Cithaeron.

Don't believe it? Try building a Stone Quarry as early game 1-county-count with a local castle tax modifier of around -120% - It really comes this cheap!

This would safe his heirs a fortune in building up the capital, only to the result nowadays no one recalls anymore as it came so cheap and handy everyone took it for granted.

Had it not been for his shattered body, Leo might have greatly enjoyed life at this point.

And in February, a victorious Theodore returned to Thebes with the men he had not left in Naupaktos as garrison.

a315ce2be4313f09ee314efa6652524b.png
 

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Chapter fifteen

Opportunity makes thieves (Take two)

Thebes, January 783

"To Theodore's health! The hero of Naupaktos! Long live Theodore the Festive!"

Phillipos' toast was picked up by quite some people in Cassandra's palace. While it might seem inappropriate for the son of the Lord to celebrate his birthday in a common tavern, it just so happened that his father lay in bed grieveously injured and dying. Still.
And thus he could hardly take all the soldiers, citizens and peasants home to party.

Well, one day he would. Question was, how far was this day? Everyone had expected his father to die following his battle injuries, but for now, the old man was still breathing. Bleeding, but breathing. Since over a year.

On the inside, Theodore was torn apart over this. On one hand, he loved his father like a son does, Leo had never caused him ill (if we leave out the terrible pick of spouse, but that's really something that happens).
On the other, it pained him just as much to see his father like that. And him having an end of the suffering would mean he'd be Lord of Thebes, if it was not for a miraculous recovery. Theodore frowned at his own thought.

"Drink to my father's health instead, people, he needs it more than I do, as we know."

The noises in the tavern briefly died down as Theodore spoke up, heads bowed and solemn murmur to Lord Leo's health came from the crowd.
Less so because Leo was not popular in town, he was quite so in fact, having brought profit and prosperity to even the beggars.
But more so as it's one thing to wish a young strong man good health, and one who lays dying with terrible injuries.

The crowd cheered up again soon though, Phillipos came over to Theodore.
"Hey, I am sorry. You know I didn't mean it that way. "
He amically laid his arm around Theodore's shoulder and continued, before the other could speak up.
"I wished as much as anybody that this fight with the Achaeans would have turned differently, and us there to protect him. But it is as it is. You shouldn't blame yourself for it."

Theodore snorted, but did not shrug the friend off. Philipos continued.
"How long does he have?"
"We don't know. That's the real problem, he doesn't either. Might be tomorrow, might be in some weeks."
"What's our plan?"

Theodore sighed relieved. Finally a change of topics. While he had spoken to his father every day for hours since his return, he was not quite sure if this was not slowly driving him mad.
And for his father's plans of sorting out laws and deciding on profitable investments he was of no help, and neither for his recovery.

This saddened him most- being unable to do something useful. Thankfully, a new opportunity had arisen. One for a man of war, not a businessman.
Then again, war was a sort of business, looked at it philosophically.
War might as well be my business, Theodore thought, smirking. He then laid his arm around Phillipos in return, took a sip from his cup and spoke with lowered voice.

Tragically enough, his father had not even reinstated him as marshal after the war, but appointed him as court chaplain instead in exchange prior to the war.
That Leo renounced the christian faith was no reason for him to install someone else later.

You'll thank me for the additional piety one day, son, Leo had said. I had to wait for seven years until I could convert and I'm content and kind, unlike you. You'll thank me one day.
Theodore did not care. He wanted war, not theology. Thankfully he was not assigned any actual task by his father, and still his Chief Commander.

"How many men are ready to fight?"
"Sixhundredseventyeight."
"Why fewer than last year? I thought we had them trained all the time!"
"It's because your lord father is maimed and severely injured, this affects his martial skill and thus the total amount of our levies."
"Oh, come on!"

Theo snorted angrily, emptied his cup to surpress further curses and then slammed on the table.
That was so peasants!
Someone else got maimed and they took that as reason to not fight anymore.
Once he was Lord, he would certainly not tolerate such excuses.

But for now, he wasn't. That did no matter, though, he would be soon enough. Too soon for his taste, in fact, but this was not up to him.
"I've heard there's only a garrison of threehundredfifty and a couple hundred soldiers left to defend Achaia, Phillipos. Seems Miroslav had troubles reinforcing his levies following his defeat."

His companion's smile widened in understanding. "So, you'll ask your father to let us march?"
Theodore displayed a fine intriguing smile.
"Better. I want one of the traders to deliver this letter to the boy that styles himself Lord of the Peloponnes and vainly dared to attack our city. I have father's signature, might have had to hold his hand, but we have the men regardless, so, by March, we march!"

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knppel

Court Jester
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Apr 13, 2012
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Chapter sixteen

Last wills, calculations and investments

Thebes, spring 783

By 783, Leo was more aware than ever his death would be immanent. Theodore was besieging Achaia already, so the town once more emptied of half the fighting men.
Leo was, since over a year now, settling his affaires. And at least for a few things, he had found good solutions, so he hoped.

Currently he was meeting with the council, in his chambers as his maimed state did not allow him long to seat tables, and they had to travel the town later anyway.
After exchanging the usual adresses of respect and courtesies wishing him good recovery, and Leo cursing the day the Achaeans had came to Thebes, they went to the matters at hand.

"Succession. Gentlemen, what options do we have on the table?"
Leo was naturally concerned his inheritance might split and his sons fight and kill each other, which he hoped to avoid by establishing a law to ensure this.

Mayor Damianos and Bishop Eremaios had prepared several legal codes for this occasion.
"As your Lordship certainly knows, currently Thebes' inheritance is regulated by Agnatic-Cognatic Gavelkind Law, Sire."
Eremaios began, he eventually had softened up a little again towards Leo. Being an okay man (specially for a priest) in total, he could not hold a grudge on someone suffering that had only did him well all his life for long.
"This will, in the hopefully far case, split the inheritage between-"

Leo waved off and grunted.
"Yeah yeah, I know that. What other options do we have?"

Eremaios spoke again.
"Well, due to your Lordship's certainly one day in hindsight wise decision to renounce the words of JesusChrist which bring salvation, civlization, law and order to all the world, our resources here are limited..."

There's a line between not holding a grudge and not serving a deserved pun. Eremaios looked over to Damianos, who continued his sentence. It was obvious to Leo even in his pained state that the two had discussed this before.
"...there'd be the option of Elective Gavelkind Law, though."

Leo grunted and sat up.
"Elective? You mean it'd still split but you guys get a say in who's gonna be primary heir?"


The duo looked at each other, shrugged, then looked back to Leo and nodded.
"Pretty much this, Sire."
"Your luck Theodore isn't here! Who comes up with such dumb laws? Where's the advantage in this?"

While not usually tending to harshness, Leo was angry for a moment. Damianos spoke up again, though.
"Well, the advantage is that uhm, I am no expert, you might best ask one of your trade partners, sire, but apparently, other pagans accept to be subjugated by rulers who have established this succession law."

It began to work in Leo's brain, he scratched his chin as good as his mangled body allowed without to cause too much pain.
"Hm, you know, actually Theodore might think this is a perfect idea and just what he needs. Alright, prepare me the documents, you two tools vote for him, and so he does in absentiam with his council vote as chaplain."

And thus it was decided, the succession law changed to elective Gavelkind to allow his son faster conquest of the nearby area, occupied mostly by slavic serbs.
While a far from ideal solution, Leo hoped this might prove fruitful.

The other part he had arranged was far more pleasant.
Leo planned to enhance his own legacy. Thankfully, he had gathered over four hundred denarii in gold- and with all the infrastructure Thebes possessed, was able to afford and pursue an ambitious plan.

Thankfully, drawing up construction plans was something one could do from a deathbed, too, and he was not needed to personally inspect the building site as much, as he had decided to build his new castle right around his tower, which should serve as main keep for the House of Skleros for years to come.
 

knppel

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Chapter eighteen

A forced change of plans/Here we go, again

Achaia, 784, January 13th

Theodore had established his spy and messenger network for years, and not only limited it to Thebes alone. It was working quite well all in all.
Thus, word of his father's death reached him within fourtyeight hours when it finally happened.


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Theodore right away broke the siege of Achaia, for once as he had to march back home to secure his inheritage, for a second as the war, based on the conquest of Achaia as casus bellum, ended inconclusively as Theodore was still christian.

He learned his lesson about religion, but did not mind, as there were important other matters to handle first.

After assuming power in Thebes, and finding to his great pleasure father had left not just a construction site for new barracks, but a whole new castle instead, he called his council together.

Damianos was given the position as chancellor in reward for his services, while Eremaios was appointed as Court Chaplain. The marshal, a finnish man from Leo's old trade connection's area, spoke no word Greek, so if he tried to give him advice, Theodore would not have been able to tell- but the man sure did a damn good job training troops, that was good enough for Theodore.

The seat of the spymaster was empty. Not really to Theo's surprise, Lady Lantsuinda had fled Thebes with little Innocent and her step-son Maurice to set up court in Naupaktos.

"Alright, Damianos, Eremaios, you organize the funeral for my dear father. I'll meanwhile go and ensure my little brother's rights are upheld at all times and their lands secure.
I am glad we're of one mind they're most secure being maintained by me for the time being. I'll be back by fall, take me good care of the harvest. You are dismissed."

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