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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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(Notice: The first few chapters had the original picture inserts lost, but are being reconstructed at the moment. Some pictures may not make a return if I cannot find the right file, and even with reconstruction keep in mind the posts may not be exactly as originally displayed)

Prologue​

Troubling Times​

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

When Potentante Savirien-Chorak was assassinated in 2E 430, along with the rest of his line, the Second Empire came crumbling down, and with it, much of the law and order that it had brought to Tamriel. While some already questioned the legitimacy of the Empire after the assassination of Emperor Reman III, there is no question that to a large degree the various peoples of Tamriel had at least been kept in some form of stability during the Akaviri reign. Now the former lands of the Empire descended into warlordism the likes of which had not been seen for nearly a millennium.

One of the less fortunate states to emerge in the Chaos was the Kingdom of Kvatch. Kvatch had a lot of things going for it, but also a lot of things going against it. It was located along a main trade route from the Imperial City on Lake Rumare to the Gold Coast. There was not as much trade now as before, of course, but it was still something to consider. In comparison to its neighbors, Kvatch was on par territoriality. Anvil to the West was of similar size. It was the major port in the region, though Kvatch had access to river ports. Anvil had the further hindered of having a strong warlord presence challenging the "legitimate" King. Skingrad to the East was about twice Kvatch's size, but similarly had a warlord problem. Not to say that there were not small groups of bandits in the Northern hills waiting to challenge Kvatch either, but much less so than either of these two neighbors. Of course, further North were the Colovian Estates, one of the major powers vying for Cyrodiil, along with Nibenay, both of which were much larger, but they had bigger problems to worry about.

Unfortunately, in the first two decades after the fall, Kvatch had more than its fair share of bad luck, to the point that many were wondering if some divine curse had been placed on the small Kingdom. First were the border skirmishes. Nothing bad really, at first, but the King was unable to muster enough troops to push back the bandits or retaliate against raiding parties. Then, in 2E 440 Skingrad made a bold grab and took Fort Istirus. The holding wasn't a major one to Kvatch's integrity, but it beyond the massive prestige and morale loss, this gave Skingrad ready access to the see by way of river, while at the same time cutting down on Kvatch's overall importance to trade.

Next came blights upon the land. Not just the standard fare, but for a time beasts of a more magical variety seemed to have it out for Kvatch specifically. The whole crisis came to a head in 2E 442, when a pack of vampires stalked and killed the King and remaining royal line, seemingly only out of sport. The Kingdom in ruins, a council of minor nobles and more esteemed citizen came together in an attempt to solve the crisis.

There, one man distinguished himself as a natural leader, Ioannes Atticus, now referred to as the Uncrowned King. Atticus was a recent arrival from the East, not quite a wandering bard, but more of a warrior-bureaucrat for hire, now that Empire had collapsed. He had settled in Kvatch in 2E 432, married, and started a life as something of a businessman. During an intense week full of negotiation, intrigue, planning, and a lot of soul searching for the people, the council was ready to crown their next king. However, fate had one more cruel trick in store...

That winter was particularly harsh, and coronation had been set for the first of the new year. Atticus was in his early 50s, and while life expectancy was as high then as it is now, it is of course no unheard of for one to succumb to the cold at such an age. Atticus died unexpectedly in his sleep a little over two weeks before the new year.

The council and the people at large nearly panicked. By now, despite it being winter, Anvil and Skingrad were looking to intervene, militarily if need be. They needed stability, and fast. Thankfully, they did have one easy way out. Though uncrowned, Atticus left a single child, an eight year old also named Ioannes, and royal authority could be invested in him. The boy's mother had died a few years earlier, mauled by a bear while gathering herbal ingredients, and so it was up to others to now care for this boy anyway, or leave him to his fate.

Of course, there were calls for the council to reconvene and select a new king, but the very real concern about legitimacy was now coming into play. A body that neither had no inherent authority continuing from the old king, the old government, or the people was a very shaky thing to be selecting new kings, even more so in that political climate. It is amazing that they even got away with it the first time. If they installed the younger Ioannes on the throne, however, the move could be played off as simply the legitimate continuation. Kings died, it was a fact of life, and whatever reasons outsiders might try and concoct to further reduce Kvatch, bad luck was a particularly poor excuse.

Thusly, the young boy became King Ioannes I of Kvatch, first of the Atticus Dynasty. His rule would be under regency until the new year of 2E 450. He protested that his actual 16th birthday was sometime in First Seed, but those with power were more concerned with a smooth transition. Ironically, in time, most of them would die before Ioannes came of age, leaving the young ruler with mostly their children as advisers by the time he assumed real power. Though still a good fifteen years his senior in most cases, the fates were surely smiling upon him, as this new cohort was much more willing to allow for him to legitimately rule, rather than be a figurehead. As time would soon prove, Ioannes I was not only the first of a new line, but very definitely one of the best rulers in all of Tamriel.

---------------

Private Dining Hall, Castle Kvatch
3:31 PM, 1 Morning Star, 2E 450

The "Royal Advisory Council" as they were now apparently being called were seated around a long banquet table, about half full of food. Most of them looked bored, tired, or even outright annoyed. Today was the first day of King Ioannes' rule without a regent, and the boy was wasting no time in meddling with how things were supposed to work. There had been a big ceremony, not only for the King, but celebrating the New Life Festival as was tradition. There had been food and drink, and the grand mid-day meal.... and now the King insisted on calling a meeting about the state of affairs of the realm. Well within his power, but very very poorly timed. No doubt there would not be a repeat of this next year, and not because it was such a faux pas. Indeed, Ioannes knew very well this wasn't the norm, he simply didn't care. He had to exert his authority, to show the rest he really was in charge. Ioannes had a very even temperament, a bit soft actually, but when he made a decision, he was going to want it carried out, no questions asked. This did mean, though, that while he was very insistent about this meeting, he looked the other way at his councilors signs of disdain, allowing for them to express themselves more freely as to avoid clamping down too hard.

"Still awake Molvirian? Nodding off I see?" The King had been allowing for a brief pause while refills were brought, but now cut again. His town was harsh, but then his face cracked into a smile. "Don't worry. I think we've all covered what needs to be covered. I do understand what today is, yes, and won't keep you gathered much longer." In any other court in Cyrodiil, or even all of Tamriel, this conduct would be scandalous, but not here. Or at least if it was, for now it's what they all knew was going to be the norm, because there were no better alternatives. "Let's just recap the overall agenda for this year, please, Baron, if you would start."

"Yes, very well. The issue I brought up first and foremost has apparently been taken care of..." Baron Tavian was a stiff and proper by nature, but had quickly learned he could not force his mannerisms onto the young King. He had been Ioannes mentor and regent, and as such was very much used to this behavior, and to Ioannes' vocabulary, which could sometimes go over the heads of some of the lesser members of the court. No, that was not what had him slightly disheveled right now. It was the fact that Ioannes had apparently gone and found himself a bride, all by himself, by way of pen pal. And the marriage was to be next week, no less! "With that taken care of, I shall now turn the full focus of my efforts towards solving the bandit problem. Varondo is a minor camp, best suited for outright seizure, so we shall leave that to the good Count Molvirian. The Linchal group is more entrenched, however, and their area of control extends into the de jure realm of Anvil. I will start work at once securing the... necessary documents to ensure that our eventual clearing of that group gains us the full extent of the occupied land..." A few slight pauses were placed in. Tavian, while accepting that they would need to play a little dirty to survive in the harsh post-Empire landscape, still felt the need to use metaphor to hide the fact, even among his co-conspirators. He nodded that he was done, and the King looked to Count Molvirian to go next, as it was a natural transition.

"I can marshal our forces in about one month. Sun's Dawn is an early start, but hopefully we can catch them off guard. They won't be expecting a major campaign that early. Also it will show our neighbors that you, our new King, are serious, and not to be trifled with!" Molvirian was all enthusiasm. Rough enthusiasm. Fitting, for a military man. Ioannes nodded at Steward Strillian next.

"I will begin searching the wilds. Local affairs are going well enough as it is. Now is as good a time as any to begin cataloging the various Elven ruins, and the old forts from the invasion." Brief, but to the point. Neighboring Valenwood so closely, it could be a bit of a sore point, as the original owners of some of those ruins were literally right there, across the river. Not like any were HERE, in the meeting, but still, the less said the better.

Next was the King's eyes and ears, a young woman he didn't particularly care for, but respected for her talents nonetheless, Galeria. "I will stay close to your side, looking for potential plots on your life. Our neighbors are just looking for any excuse to invade, we know, and once some of our... other plans get underway, no doubt they will redouble efforts." Unlike Tavian, Galeria's pause had more to do with thinly covered sarcasm than any dubious morals. Indeed, to be a spy, one needed to sometimes cast off all morals. Instead this sprung from her earlier statements, to the effect that they might all be fools for having such ambition. She wasn't necessarily content with the lot they'd been handed, but she was definitely one for caution. Caution expressed through sarcasm...

Ioannes looked at Mayor Zedrick intently, knowing the highly religious man would have trouble containing himself. "I will, for the moment, continue about my duties here. We will leave our small problem to Count Albec." Perhaps taking a cue from Galeria, Zedrick's words had a twinge of sarcasm too. He was referring to a cult that was forming in Hackdirt. The King had not called it a small problem. Far from it, he was quite concerned. However, right now he simply didn't have the authority to step in for his lords and take control of the situation. Count Albec was quite loyal, though Ioannes did not care for him, but even still, there were some limits to how fast they should move. Ironically, most of the rest of the council agreed with Ioannes more because he was moving fast diplomatically and militarily than anything else.

fclu.jpg
(The Religious Problem)

High priest Anton simply raised his eyebrows after Zedrick finished and quickly added on. "As will I, though with an eye towards seeing what I can do for the atmosphere around here." No one really grasped what he was saying, but Anton was a weird one. He wasn't just a mage, but also an avid interior decorator, and had a tendency to go on and on about how Kvatch lacked "proper culture", whatever that meant. As long as he was doing his job, and not hindering others, most were content to let him have at it, whatever he was trying to do.

qq78.jpg
(Councilor Assignments)

"Excellent. Sounds good to me. I think we can all take the rest of the day off now. Take two, if you wish. Though Tavian... I'll need to see you tomorrow, bright and early. We need to work on the arrangements." Ioannes could be subdued, quiet, or formal when he wanted to, but today wasn't one of those days. Even more so when the absolutely elation seeped through in his voice as the prospect of his wedding, as unconventional as it was. He was still a teenager at heart, even if it had to go through his unusual upbringing to show.

"Yes, your highness. I expected as such." With that, the meeting was over, and Kvatch was set on a course that would affect all of Tamriel.
 
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Hello and welcome to my latest AAR. It's been a very long time since my last attempt, and I've never done a CK2 AAR. They've all been for HOI2.

That being said, this is quite a bit of a departure from my normal style. This post is also much much more massive than what I usually put out. However, I got Skyrim for Christmas and have been rather sucked in, and it's led me to finally getting around to installing the Elder Kings mod. I do hope you all enjoy. I've already uploaded 50 pictures on steam (not going to use them all), so you can be assured that once this gets rolling, there will be a lot more to see too, not just read. Intros always seem a bit awkward though, so I apologize if this isn't quite up to standard.
 

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Thanks! I typically prefer custom characters, though my last play through was with the default king. My typical excuse though is that it's myself as a time traveler, but in this case that has a few more problems than usual, so I went with a different approach, heh.

Chapter One will be out in an hour or two, and hopefully get into the meat of things, though Chapter Two is where it'll start to get good. My update rate is likely to be high here for awhile, because I have enough of the game played for three chapters, and I want to play more, but not get to far ahead, lest I forget the details of what happened, heh.
 

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Chapter One: Establishing Control​

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

The first royal wedding of the Atticus Dynasty took place on the 8th of Morning Star, in front of the temple in a light dusting of snow. Lady Vittoria hailed from the Pell's Gate region, where the major outlet for Lake Rumare was located. She had been trained in the arts of war, but by all accounts lacked discipline when it came to matters of leadership she lacked all discipline. Vittoria was brash, headstrong, and very much the spitting image of a rebellious young teenager granted the right to lead an army at a young age. In more stable times, she would have likely been limited to taking up sparring as a hobby, but as it was, Pell's Gate was soon to be contested between her two brothers, and every noble in the area needed the best hand they could in the coming conflicts that would no doubt plague the area.

Nevertheless, the young Ioannes was most intrigued when he heard of her. He sent a letter directly to her, bypassing her liege. Brazen, but it struck a chord with the young warrior. From the surviving letters, it's clear Ioannes was very much lovestruck from the start, and had no idea how to "properly" court a potential bride, but managed to stumble upon an approach that worked, and Vittoria admired, by pure luck. They corresponded throughout 2E 449, and by the first of the year when Ioannes would be true king, they were ready for marriage.

The people did not know what to make of Vittoria at first. She arrived on the 5th. She could have only made it that quickly if she was either already in route during the festival, or set out first thing afterwards at a breakneck pace. However, Vittoria's attitude also carried with it a great deal of confidence, a confidence that the people of Kvatch sorely lacked in these troubling times. Plus, Vittoria had a commanding presence, even if she did not work well within the typical military structure, which was also something that Ioannes could sorely lack at times. Ioannes and Vittoria hit it off splendly, and soon they were both filled with a new energy to drive Kvatch forward.

On the 3rd of Sun's Dawn the forces were ready. Kvatch was going to strike back for the first the time. The bandits inhabiting Varondo, who had the audacity to claim their leader as a count, were given one final warning: Vacate Royal property or be destroyed. The bandits laughed and chose the latter.

VnSGpWf.jpg


The actually campaign went well, consisting mostly of manuever, and then one easy "battle" near the chief fort, then a short wait for the rest to surrender. Ioannes and Vittoria accompanied the war party personally, looking for the experience and prestige benefits that came with getting in some time in the field. While on one hand, the enemy wasn't taken too seriously, it was still good for image to blow the event up into something larger than it was...

----------

On Campaign
9:05 AM, 23rd of Sun's Dawn, 2E 450

"Yes, as you can see, the proper way to mount such a fine steed is actually something more like thi-"

Ioannes and Vittoria were at the makeshift stables as the rest of the army prepared to move out for the day. Ioannes was no horseman, but was trying to show off to his new bride, who for her part, said nothing aside from bursts of amused giggles. Ioaness had just failed at his first attempt to ride the strongest war horse when Marshall Molvirian rushed over from where he'd been forming the troops up.

"Your highness, an important message!" He handed over a small scrap of paper, looking most annoyed.

"News from home? Has Anvil taken poorly to our campaign? Or Skingrad?" The King took the paper and immediately began reading it with concern, brow furrowed.

"No.... well yes.... it IS from Skingrad, but nothing of the sort... It seems old king Sorex... wants to marry the most esteemed Galeria..." Molvirian snorted, but then returned to his previous cross demeanor. "Frankly, it's a rather petty and annoying interruption to our campaign. I feel as if Baron Tavian was here, he'd inform you that we need be careful about offending Skingrad. Personally though, I know Galeria might not be the most personable woman around, but even I would think it cruel to allow such a pretty young thing to be married to that old wreck, who I'd hardly wager another three years of life left in him."

Ioannes raised an eyebrow at Molvirian's crude way of putting things as he finished reading the paper. He himself would never speak in such a manner, but he knew Molvirian meant well. He was simply 'that' sort of person, and could be very useful, if a bit unsettling to those not used to it. "Indeed... and Galeria's skills are highly valuable too. I don't think we could afford to lose her... We'll have to tell him no and hope for the best." He shook his head and handed it back. "Have the courior return my reply at once... and send word back to Galeria too, I'm sure she'll be very... interested to hear about this offer..."

KEP4hWd.jpg


---------------

On Campaign
2:54 PM, 3rd of Midyear, 2E 450

"Your Highness, another letter..." Molvirian handed the paper over, his tone a mix of amusement and annoyance, oddly enough. As Ioannes read the message he did break out a little smile.

"What?! Again? Galeria is supposed to be my chief spy! What is she doing that's sending word to all these foreign courts about her skills, which are clearly, clearly so much sought after!" Ioannes almost through the letter on the ground in frustration. He wasn't one for rage, but this was getting ridiculous. Here they were, surveying the enemy positions around the ramparts the bandits were hiding in, and he kept getting dispatches asking for his spy mistress' hand in marriage from all over Cyrodiil!

"Well, to be fair, after Sorex's second message, I think maybe he just wanted increased ties to us, and picked Galeria at random. I'm not Tavian though, so my opinion probably doesn't have much weight on that matter. At least he seemed satisfied when you accepted his counter offer. I mean, I might even feel envious of that girl we sent, if I were in her position. Realistically, she had no possibility of advancement here, and now she merely has to put up with Sorex for a year or two, probably more as a caretaker than a wife, and then she'll be set for the rest of hers, taken care of by Skingrad's court. Quite a plush position, if I do say so myself. Hmmm, what was her name again?"

"Yes, well, I suppose it isn't all bad, but still, I feel as if I've come to dread news from home." Ioannes sighed, partially at the situation with Galeria, whom was now being desired by the controlling House of the Imperial City, for marriage to the administrator's heir, and partially at Molvirian's dismissive attitude.

"But as you say, it's not all bad. Strillian found that relic he sent up in the ruins, did he not. Sure, you probably won't be getting into the thick of things by this point, but it's a weapon fit for a King, eh?"

"Sure, sure..." Ioannes shook his head, quickly becoming his signature gesture, and folded the paper back up. "Send my reply, another no. And send word to Galeria again. Tell her to get married to someone in our court. I don't care who, or if it's just for show. Or tell her to stop doing whatever she's doing that makes her so attractive to foreign suitors. Sorex might not have known, but at this rate, our Spy Mistress might be outed, simply if people get suspicious as to why we keep refusing..."

"Very well." Molvirian took the note and chuckled. "I don't know, knowing Galeria, she probably likes being 'in demand', as she put it once, even if she doesn't show it." Now it was Molvirian's turn to sigh. "Is it bad this little drama almost feels like the highlight of our campaign? Despite myself, I feel drawn in. Perhaps only because these bandits failed to put up a proper showing."

"Perhaps, but it won't always be this easy..."

"No, your highness, no it won't..."

b9us2nT.jpg


Be2Ai6x.jpg


---------------

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

The campaign was concluded on the 27th of Last Seed. One campaign season, offset from the usual timetable even, was a very good span to mop up one group. At this rate, Kvatch would be doing well. There was still much work to be done, though, and quite the force arrayed against even the King's short term goals. For one, during the closing stages of the war, the Duchy of Sutch declared support for the bandits. Apparently due to marriage, the bandit Count had been accepted into this fragment of Anvil's "family", such as it were. This no doubt played a large role in Ioannes' decision to keep the bandit leader in charge of the region after victory, only now swearing loyalty to him personally as a vassal, the same as any other Count in the realm. Sutch was too far away and joined to late to make a difference militarily, but would continue to be a thorn in Kvatch's side for the very immediate future. Also, if all the de jure land was to be reclaimed, a confrontation with Skingrad would be in the works, too, despite the recent increase in relations. King Ioannes definitely had his work cut out for him.

pUwDL3U.jpg


WcWIvhi.jpg


O6UVeMe.jpg
 
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All I'll say at this point is that compared to the last game I tried, the fates are very much smiling on us, at least for the first 12 years I've played so far. Considering I'm not even into the second year now, I'm wondering if I should play more like I desperately want to, or wait until after I release Chapter 2, which will cover the next 4ish years.
 

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My main concern is forgetting all the little details that happen. I'm not a very good note taker, heh. I'm 12 years in, but it's gotten to the point where I'm probably going to have to start taking notes. I'm sure OCD will take over soon, though, and I'll get a system figured out. I'm just not only on break this week, but also snowed in, so there isn't much else for me to do at the moment...
 

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Chapter Two: The Year of War​


An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

While the most popular name for this time period amongst locals of Kvatch is The Year of War, the title is a very misleading one, and it's easy to see why it is not used in other regions, where different names, if any, hold sway. It is true that 2E 453 saw Kvatch at war for its entirety, but in the coming years this would not be an oddity. Furthermore, the fighting started very late in the previous year, and would not end until 2E 454 was more than half over. Nor was the conflict particularly brutal. What this peroid did show, however, was that King Ioannes had the leadership skills of his father, and pulled off a series of rather clever moves that catapulted Kvatch on its upwards trajectory. In that regard, 2E 453 can be considered pivotal, as while the bold decision to go to war was made before the new year, most of the major strategizing took place during the so called year of war, with the following year consisting mostly of mopping up resistance....

----------
King Ioannes Private Study
7:48 PM, 20th Evening Star, 2E 452

"Well then, just one final issue to settle, and we can be enjoy the rest of this season in peace. The foreign summary, if you will?" The King idly gestured with his right hand at the map on the table. He'd kept up a habit of having important year-end meetings, but by now they were rather low key. Right now, it was simply him and Baron Tavian, who was home after completing his mission to the so-called Duchy of Linchal.

"Yes. Our efforts have been a success so far, as you know, though the various clans in Anvil are fortifying themselves with the bandits through more marriage alliances. Though independent, I'm pretty sure the "Duke" is taking orders from in-laws in Sutch now..." The Baron made no effort to hide his disdain. "Nothing we need to worry about right now. Same for the East. Skingrad is doing much the same as we are, campaigning against bandits claiming to hold "The Duchy of Virtue" or something like that, around some of the forts in the area. They're doing quite well, or so I hear, and the opposition is about what we could expect with Linchal, a good sign." Tavian slid the map slightly and now pointed to Anvil. "Anvil is fairly disunited. The Duke of Sutch's power is really going to his head, to the point where I believe we should focus our diplomatic efforts there, maybe see if we can just cut a deal with them. The King proper over there... well... it seems the fates are now seeing it fit to curse his name, rather than ours."

Ioannes chuckled at that, leaning in to inspect the map too. "I see, so we've agreed then? After the holidays you shall go speak to the Duke and see what you can muster?"

"Yes. At the very least maybe we can keep hi-"

Just then the door bust open, a winded Marshall Molvirian standing in the doorway. "Your Highness! Important news from Skingrad!" He waved a letter in the air, much as he had on campaign before, but this time there was no undercurrent of amusement with the message.

"What's this!? Civil War?" Ioannes read the message twice over.

"Apparently. Old King Sorex's sons just couldn't keep it together eh? The younger thinks that he would be a more fitting King than his brother. Well technically, a faction of lesser nobles believe he'd be easier to control. Not the 'official' line, of course, but it should be noted that the younger has not officially taken sides, and has even gone so far as to threaten to renounce his Princehood to keep the peace." As Molvirian caught his breath a bit of good humor became evident. He knew what this meant. Ioannes' eyes lit up too.

"According to this report... the county of Silorn is amongst the rebellious vassals... and Fort Istirus, which belongs to us, has been attached to it at the present time. This is the perfect opportunity for us to reclaim it!"

"Indeed your highness! Shall I rally the troops?"

"Yes! Right away. Winter be damned, let's get moving! Their political situation sounds volatile, we have no time to lose!"



---------------

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

And so once more Kvatch's army sallied forth in the dead of winter, but their spirits were high and fortune favored them. By the end of spring of the next year they had secured Fort Istirus without major confrontation. The bulk of Silhorn's army was further into Skingrad and did not engage. The war was practically won, though Ioannes marched further in as the Count refused to sign an official document renouncing any claim to Istirus.



Then came news no one was expecting. The Duchy of Linchal declared war, claiming the entire Duchy if Dirich for themselves. The title itself was not currently awarded to any noble, and getting the necessary support to add it to the Attican claims was something of a priority for the family at the time. An incursion here would severely undermine Ioannes authority.



The army was still campaigning against the Skingrad rebels, though. Even if it turned in time, it would not be fresh for a new fight. It was then that Ioannes made his first tough decision as King. He opened the Royal Treausry and re-purposed the coin being saved to cement control over the Northern regions diplomatically to hire out mercenaries. The budget was still tight, however. He could only afford to hire roughly the same amount of troops as Linchal could muster, so a straight up fight was a precarious proposition. Instead, he kept them in the Kvatchian heartland while the regular soldiers finished up, leading the Linchal forces to tire themselves on the static defenses of the Dirich holdings.



On the 21st of Heartfire, the Count of Silorn formally relinquished any claim to Istirus, thereby ending Kvatch's involvement in Skingrad's Civil War. Ioannes even managed to get a backhanded set of thank yous from the new King for "helping to crush the rebels." Colovia, the Heartlands, and Nibenay were all looking to get in on the action, and any time off the war Kvatch cut for them was actually probably pretty helpful. Then the army turned North, and the only question was could they arrive before Linchal dug in...

---------------

On Campaign
1:10 PM, 20th Frostfall, 2E 453

King Ioannes was enjoying the last of his lunch as the army once more hit the trail. They were tired, but still in good spirits following the reclamation of Istirus. He let out a content sigh as suddenly the sound of two bickering voices, one male and one female, approached.

"Ioannes! We need your attention!" It was Vittoria, and she sounded annoyed, but also had that tone she used when she really wanted to get her way, or else he was never going to hear the end of it. Some things only a wife could get away with.

"I don't see what good involving his Highness will do. He's already made his decision, in the past, you see, obviously..." Marshall Molvirian was trailing her, a bit flustered, but doing his best to remain composed, even doing his best to try and be a suck up too, apparently, though he was not very good at being formal, let alone acting overly formal.

"Hmmm, yes, but things have changed. Dear?" For a woman of war, Vittoria always managed to know how to put on a charming smile. "You saw how I fought when we took Istirus. I think I have a thing or two to teach the men. No offense to the good Count here, but his tactics are old and boring. We need someone with fresh ideas to step in and reinvigorate our troops, especially for the challenge that lies ahead."

"Those old and boring tactics WORKED! You may have slain a good number of foes, but I was the one in charge of the moment, of the supply, of the-!"

"That will be quite enough!" Ioannes rarely raised his voice, but when he did, people took note. He signed and turned to face them more directly. "Look, we don't have time for this. Really, there is NEVER any time for infighting amongst my most trusted confidants." Even those in charge needed to smooth things over sometimes. "So then, spit it out. What is the real issue here? What are you arguing about?"

There was a long, awkward silence. Ioannes was about to start tapping his foot when Molvirian hesitantly spoke. "She wants to be Marshall, your highness... I don't she's up for the job. She may be good, and have training, but she doesn't have th experi-"

Ioannes stopped him with a gently raised hand when he started to get worked up again. Vittoria was not looking too pleased with missing the chance to speak either. "I see, I see... I can see the argument you're making, and I know the argument you will make." He shot a sharp look at his Queen. "But now is really not the time. It hasn't even been a full month since we closed that front..." He knew this answer wasn't going to satisfy these two. "So look, here's what we'll do. While I could simply lay down the law, for now, we'll compromise, then settle this after the war. Molvirian, you shall remain Marshall, and in exclusive control of logistics and the like, as well as most of what else you do. Vittoria, on the other hand, shall be elevated and be in charge of directly leading our troops into battle. Sorry honey, but I have to agree with Molvirian here. There's a lot to Marshalling beside fighting. You're a good fighter, but I'm not so sure about the bookkeeping..." Ioannes gave her a sympathetic look, and while it was clear it wasn't exactly what she wanted to hear, it would be good enough, and she could tell he really did care. "If you handle yourself well, and once we're nice, safe, and sound back at Kvatch, we'll see what else is in store. Don't fear Molvarian, even if she did surpass you, you're still one of my most trusted advisers."

"Thank you, your Highness." Molvarian was visibly relieved. At some point he had started sweating quite profusely, despite the chilly temperatures this time of year.

"If that's all then, let's continue on. I was just about to go back in the formation and look for both of you as it was. We're going to need to discuss some strategy soon..."


(Note: While I lost the specific picture, Vittoria had an event raising her martial from 17 to a whopping 27. Needless to say, yes, she is in charge of armies from now on, and will become the Marshall shortly)

----------

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

In the end, Linchal made several key mistakes in their conduct during the war, though mistakes that could not have easily avoided with the knowledge they had. The Duke opted to occupy the recently acquired Varondo area. They had secured the county and moved on to siege Dirich itself by the time Ioannes's army and the mercenaries arrived. Thus, the Kvatchian soldiers simply ran a repeat of their campaign against the bandits from a few years before. Most of them had actually seen action then. What's more, the occupied forts were no where near capacity as only small detachments from the main Linchal force could be spared, for obvious reasons. After that, the Kvatchian army simply swung around and hit the enemy in the rear, winning a decisive three pronged assault on the encamped troops surrounding Dirich proper. The stragglers tried to keep the war going by sneaking down to attack the as of yet rearmed Fort Istirus, but fresh on the heals of victory Ioannes' army had no trouble chasing them down.

Peace was signed on the 28th of Frostfall, 2E 454. The entire population of Kvatch was on a high, not the least of which the Royal couple, who looked forward to some time alone back at the castle. In the long run, too, this campaigned marked the end of Linchal as a serious regional player, even if the faux Duchy continued to hold on to ever reduced territory in the foothills for a few more decades. Their military power was effectively exhausted, while Kvatch, though bloodied, retained most of their soldiers and were now bolstered by regained lands. The years immediately following the war also saw a drastic increase in relations between Kvatch and Sutch, who while still ambitious in the region, were impressed by Ioannes' show of force. Though never proven, at the time it was suspected that the Duke of Sutch ordered Linchal to attack, but it can clearly be said that after this point, no substantive assistance to any claimants in Northern Kvatch was supplied on his order.

 
Last edited:

frostwolf846

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Updates are fine, make them as long as they must be, my only suggestion would be making the small images slightly bigger. However every AAR has it's own style. My current one has moderate to long chapters and it is quite heavy on images.
 

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Yeah, I'm working in the images. Been trying 3-4 styles and still figuring it out. Image uploading is quite different than it used to be when I did my last AAR.

No update tonight because I got distracted by Skyrim, ironically enough. This is my first playthrough, and I'd been stuck, then encountered a bug, but got that sorted so I'm on the move again.
 

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(I know not all of the pictures don't appear bigger, I can't seem to get them in the forum larger, but to be fair, it might stretch some browsers anyway. If you click the picture, then zoom in, it should appear slightly bigger though, making some fuzzy text easier to see.)

Chapter Three: Shakeups and Retribution

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

Not long after the war, Queen Vittoria was appointed full Marshall of the Kingdom. Peace allowed her study the art of logistics, to get good at the more drudging aspects of war. Word of the victories was bringing much prestige to Kvatch, and some wandering knights for hire were attracted to King Ioannes' service.




Not every change was due to the spirit of progress, though. Unfortunate circumstances also reduced the Royal Council by way of illness. King Ioannes was reportedly very distraught at the death of adviser Galeria. Her role in the early Kingdom would not be known today, in fact, if Ioannes had not reacted so greatly to his Spy Master's death.



Still, Kvatch charged upwards. In 2E 456 war would once again be declared, the first of many operations to mop up the Duchy of Linchal. The war concluding two years earlier had hit the group so hard they had still not recovered, and were in fact now tied up with the squabbling foreign Kingdoms of Hammerfell...

---------------

Royal Study

10:42 AM, 6th of Sun's Dawn, 2E 456

"The time to strike is now! Their gates are wide open. We need to pounce like a coiled tiger. After this objective, we'd be only one more campaign away from getting back control of our de jure borders." Ioannes was quite animated, but in good spirits with much enthusiasm. Vittoria was likewise excited, at the prospect of battle more than regaining the land. Baron Tavian... not dso much...

"Your Highness, as I've repeatedly stated over the past week, it would look bad if we were to attack Believers of the Divines, such as they are, when they on the defensive against non believers." The Baron sighed, knowing his protest was going to be in vain, but at the very least Ioannes was not deaf to his pleas.

"Indeed, but as you said, you've been able to secure Sutch's blessing. They've agreed to throw this faction to the wolves, as it is." Ioannes had been smiling, but it cracked even wider now. "And the invasion is into Sutch proper. Surely if they're giving us the go ahead they can handle it even with this... distraction.... and it means the holdings that are rightfully ours will be virtually undefended!"

"Yes, from a military standpoint it does make perfect sense." Tavian sighed again. "And any loss of standing we suffer will likely be regained from the conquest." Tavian's honesty to a fault supported Ioannes, whether the man thought the campaign would be a good idea or not. "It is, of course, up to you, but I would be wary of precedent. As you know, people are starting to take note of our activities. If we aggress like this, we likely won't get a chance to in the future."

"We won't need to. We're already in a position where bandits can't really challenge us, we're just taking advantage of the situation to make mopping up easier." Ioannes waved his hand dismissively. "The order stands, we shall attack at once."

"Very well, your Highness, I shall get the appropriate people moving at once." Tavian bowed, and left to set things in motion.

"Didn't even bring up the issue of lack of an heir this time." Vittoria now spoke, once they were in private. "Considering how much you say you want to take some "private time" after each war, maybe it finally clicked with him that we're doing everything we can." She couldn't help but snicker a bit at the thought.

"Yes, well... it is a concern. Maybe we really should consult the priest... or the mage... but we're still young, and I have full confidence there is not a man alive that could slay you in battle. We'll be fine..."

"The new mage creeps me out. Ever since he convinced you to transmute extra metal to gold to pay the mercenaries." Vittoria's tone was a bit sharp, but she appreciated the sentiment.

"A one time thing. Desperate times, and all that." They'd had this conversation before, and Ioannes tried to just dismiss it. "He's a good guy, anyway. But if it came to that, I only have our best interests at heart. And it's not as if those kinds of potions are unheard of elsewhere, even if most are probably just snake oil." Vittoria's glare caused Ioannes to reconsider his words. "And of course you have full say over that decision anyway..."

"You're lucky you're cute when you get flustered." Satisfied, Vittoria slowly walked to the map room. "Anyway, we need to plan too. After this maybe we can take a longer break."

"If you don't consider a year and a half a long time to focus on producing an heir, I guess I've misundestood the word my whole life." Ioannes mocked wearyness, but then laughed and followed. "Yes, just an easy campaign. The castle was getting boring anyway."



---------------

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

The war, if it could be called that, was indeed one of the quickest actions in Kvatch's history, lasting barely ten months and encountering no substantial resistance beyond waiting out defenders of various fortifications. Shortly after the King and Queen returned to the castle good news was announced. Vittoria was pregnant and an heir was finally on the way!




All of Kvatch was abuzz with the news, and all the usual speculation. In the mean time, Ioannes and his ministers stayed busy consolidating control in the North, while Vittoria rested despite her protests. On the 16th of Last Seed the Royal Council released a series of documents reaffirming Kvatch's control of the Duchy of Linchal, and that the title Duke of Linchal would now be in King Ioannes' official styles. They were able to secure most of their neighbors' reaffirmations too, including Sutch. The occupiers now had one less leg to stand on. This was considered a glorious day for Kvatch, though privately there were some frustrations that Dirich had not been similarly reaffirmed yet.



In early Evening Star a new prince was born. He was also be named Ioannes, though the humble King insisted it was in honor of his father, not himself. Either way, the people were happy with the choice. The heir was born under the sign of The Tower, clerics proclaiming that this was a sign that the eventual rule of King Ioannes II would be a bastion of stability even greater than the current King had already brought them.

 

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(No character POV this time sadly. Just wasn't a good spot for it, and we're covering some rapid years now. Also, as of half way through this post, we're finally out of my first night of play and onto the second, heh.)

Chapter Four: Expanding Power and Family

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

The dynamic Kvatch had with its neighbors changed in the early days of 2E 458. The Duke of Sutch died, not young, but not old either. His five year old son inherited his lands, and no matter how strong willed, it was always remarkably easy to push around a young child. In short order the Duchy submitted to the authority of greater Anvil. This would greatly bolster Anvil's strength, as while the King there was was an effective ruler with an iron will, the Kingdom had been dealing with threats from the West, as well as a minor run of piracy.



With the recent successes, however, King Ioannes and his court saw fit formalize some of the powers they had been using. In practice, a ruler had as much power as he could maintain through charisma, or other means. Ioannes was proving to be a very strong ruler, but it was clear to everyone that he could only do so by force of personality. With the help of Tavian, Steward Strillian, and a few others, the Royal Council began encoding new traditions into the workings of Kvatch, so that future rulers might not lose all power in the event they lacked Ioannes' charm.



For many years the court was able to focus on improving the realm, now that they had expanded Kvatch's lands and proved to the other squabbling kingdom's their power. In Early 2E 461 Ioannes spared a brief pilgrimage to the North-East to visit the Temple of the Ancestor Moths, the holy site of one of the most prominent divisions within the worship of the Eight Divines. It allowed Ioannes a rare, but brief chance to indulge in his scholastic side in a place more suited for it than his sturdy, but very much minimalistic study. A grand parade was held upon his return, along with a long overdue festive to celebrate the successful campaigns. Unlike many kings, Ioannes mingled with the townsfolk, who's adoration could barely reach a higher level. As a conclusion to this wave of celebration, the work on the formal decree reinforcing Ioannes' claim to the Duchy of Dirich was completed, cementing control over that region even further.





Not all went perfectly, of course. The other nobles were, for the most part, all on board with Ioannes' rule. After all, if Kvatch failed, it was more likely than not their heads would be on a platter than the chance would arise for any one of them to maintain the Kingdom. While so far all the new lands acquired were going straight to the Atticus family, for obvious reasons from their point of view, the other nobles were benefiting by way of loot, increased trade, and not having to keep their own guards on quite as high an alert with decreased bandit raids. Naturally, some would still grumble without some kind of formal landed reward. Ioannes charm held them at bay, but starting around this time more and more county holders began nagging him for a Duchy title. If he had one more at this time, it was likely he would have to acquiesce, but for the moment, Kvatch was just the right size where he could realistically claim all the ducal titles for himself.



It was also at this time that the royal court had to start paying attention to the education of the next generation. Ioannes the Younger was already shaping up to be quite the avid student. He would follow around various council members as they did their job, asking questions to the point of annoyance. It was both cute, but also a bit distracting. Eventually it was decided the King himself would oversee his son's upbringing. By now no one would argue about the skills he had to impart, and keeping the family close was of course another admirable goal.



Soon the Atticus family would be expanding, too. As 2E 464 drew to a close, Vittoria was once more found to be with child. Ioannes was once again elated beyond reason. The rest of Kvatch was as well, though some such as Chancellor Tavian were concerned what this would mean for inheritance. In the event the new child was male, it was determined that he would receive Linchal and holdings within upon Ioannes' eventual death. These plans weren't so much drawn up in secret, simply that at the time, those without such a clear, pragmatic mind cared not for such discussion. However, the dates on the original papers indicate that in private this is also when the Atticus dynasty laid out the first modern succession law for the realm, and conducted the first estimate of what sort of support they would need to get the other nobles to agree to some form of first-born only inheritance.

The new child was born at the very end of the year, under the sign of the Atronach, indicating that he would have a very vibrant personality, full of strength and intelligence. The new son was to be named Belisarius, in honor of Vittoria's father, the late Duke of Pell's Gate.

 

OAM

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Chapter Five: The Good years of Ioannes I​

An Excerpt from New Year's Speech, 2E 464, given by King Ioannes I of Kvatch

"... and it is here today that we dedicate ground on this new hall, as a sign of our great prosperity. The trials have been tough, and will continue to be tough, but they will not crush us. No, instead we build, even as Cyrodiil faces chaos to come, for we have hope for the future! Today we rely on our countrymen at arms, and tomorrow we will as well, but we are a people of civilization. We have time for both war and peace. The man at your side in battle is also the man down the road selling fresh bread on Sundas. Therefore, we shall construct a great hall, so that we may continue down this path of prosperity.

---------------

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

Kvatch's treasury, while not always overflowing with gold, did consistently see very large surpluses. As conditions stabilized, tax revenue increased, but expenses stayed steady. The Royal Council jumped on this chance to fund many works projects across the realm and also invest in technology. Since the collapse of the Empire construction across Tamriel had been at a near standstill. People simply had more pressing concerns. By this point though work was starting to resume, and not just in Kvatch. The Council's efforts ensured that they were at the forefront, but by no means were the only ones investing in the area. Atticus Hall was commissioned in late Evening Star 2E 463 shortly after the organization of the Royal Builders Guild of Kvatch, and would not be completed for about three years. The hall served as a military barracks, but also as a grand feasting place, open to the people on a select, but fair basis each feast day.


(Level of construction activity. White shows areas with a pre-collapse level of activity, black shows areas with no activity)

However, the increase in economic activity did not just bring positive things. The Dasekmoor region in particular would prove to be a thorn in the side of Royal authority. The area had a small port, but because of Kvatch's geography, it was one of the biggest trade hubs in the Kingdom. Thus, various local interests began trying to control taxes and other business interests in the area from behind shadows. Not to the point of rebellion, not even close, but enough so that from time to time King Ioannes was forced to send extra guards to patrol the docks at night. For the vast majority of the people, though, King Ioannes was reaching messianic proportions.




This time period is generally considered truly a Golden Age in Ioannes' rule, though a small one compared to some of the later glories the dynasty brought to the region. The realm was simply small at the time, so perspective is important. The key factor here is that for a short while, even the resistance Ioannes faced at the start of his reign vanished. Things were going perfectly. In fact, the next mopping up operation in the Linchal area resulted in only about a dozen casualties. More than anything, this was due to the fates, but still, combined with his fair and prosperous rule, it was during this conflict that the King earned his nickname as "the Just".

With young sons, Ioannes stayed in Kvatch during the campaign and saw to the day to day running of the Kingdom, and fatherhood seemed to calm the still quite young man down. He was now becoming quite more stately. It was common knowledge even at the time that the war would be easy, so the burden of conflict was no present to distract him either. The bandits had tried to reorient themselves and begin claiming areas of the Colovian Estates, and thus their army was quite occupied elsewhere. Colovia was quite clearly the number two power in Cyrodiil, but was at the time very much bogged down in a long succession war in their former Skyrim provinces. In less than a year Kvatch secured the county of Hastrel, which was actually de jure in Anvil, but because of Kvatch's rising prominence there was no diplomatic protest.




This miniature Golden Age would continue for some time, until roughly 2E 470, at which point Kvatch would once again seem to be cursed by the fates, albeit in a way more suited for a practical joke of the Gods than anything....
 

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Yeah, my rate will slow down a bit now because break is over, but it's still going strong. This one took awhile to get out because I felt as if it was a weak spot in the story, with not much happening in comparison to next update, so it turned into one of those "I just need to get over this hump and can get back to the good stuff" type posts.

That being said, I *might* post tonight, but if I don't my next chance won't be until probably Thursday.
 

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Wow this good story and writing so far; you are doing a great job.
 

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(No first person narrative again this chapter, sorry guys, but I promise there's some next time. For one, it WAS coming this chapter, but it kind of got out of hand and I had to turn the update into a two-parter. This is part 1 of 2 of the updates surrounding this series of events here)

Chapter Six: Stopped like by a Stonewall: Part I

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

Late that same year, long time friend of the King, Count Molvirian, was found dead at the bottom of his keep's main stairs early one winter morning. Rumors abound. The most likely cause was that he had simply tripped, fallen, and hit his head, but of course there would always be whispers of foul play. The case for the event being a freak accident was strong, as Molvirian had been in the process of calling to his wife to get ready for breakfast when he suddenly shrieked and took his tumble, giving no indication that he had been with someone else, and indeed, no one else was found on the upper story. Either way, Ioannes was once again distraught. Molvirian had been his spymaster at the time, having trained up in absence of military work and finally taken Galeria's place as a competent man of the shadows. He was a great ally to the King, and in the years to come his presence would be sorely missed. His young son Sellan, not even an adult yet, would replace him as Count of Dirich.



This was also a time when the other Kingdoms were really consolidating their holds. Success was of course not uniform, but we today also have the benefit of hindsight. Even if in principal someone was bound to fail, at the time it was hard not to grow concerned about strong neighbors. Even if the fates never cast their smile on everyone, too, good rulers will of course help misfortune along.

While Anvil was strong, that Kingdom always proved volatile. During this time Skingrad appeared to be the bigger threat, especially when they rooted out the last of the bandits along Lake Rumare and regained a port. If they still held their river access via Istirus they could have done wonders with the resulting trade route. Records show that even as such, Ioannes approved a rare covert mission, sending his chancellor over to destabilize the border region secretly in an attempt to stave off any potential overt military actions.



For a time still, Kvatch enjoyed peace. While wars are exciting, they were but one small aspect of how Kingdoms interacted and how affairs were run. Kvatch's council was content to take it slow, at least until the next big chance presented itself, in Rain's Hand of 2E 470.

Anvil's success was by far the largest out of the three smaller Colovian cultured Kingdoms in Western Cyrodiil. Though they had by far the most trouble, elven raids, pirate attacks, and raiders from the deserts of Hammerfell being constant threats, King Actur had proven very well versed in the art of combat, pushing back attacks and actually establishing forward holds out at sea. Actur was not, however, as adept at managing his internal affairs. One of his sons eventually thought it proper that he be king rather than his father.



Already having a toehold into Anvil proper, Ioannes saw fit to take advantage of the situation, marshaling an army quickly and even rushing a mass order of new armor for his personal guard, based off Vittoria's typical choice she wore into battle. Kvatch's army going into the conflict would be one of the best equipped forces of the Second Era's Fifth Century.

---------------

An Expert from Royal Declaration of Campaign on Brittlerock, dated 19th of Rain's Hand, 2E 470, signed by King Ioannes of Kvatch

"Our prosperity is great. For the past decade of my rule our farmers have seen record harvests. Our realm is at its most stable in decades, and each year our guards protect more and more land for the greater bounty of all. However, this new conflict cannot go unnoticed. The hard fought peace and stability we've won is being threatened. The areas along our border have become unsafe, and now are harbor to criminals, bandits, and other miscreants. This state of affairs cannot go unanswered...

Therefore, today I announce that we will be taking matters into our own hands, to ensure that what we've worked so hard for is not all in vain. The word has already been sent, and the men have been called up. We will pacify these areas, and in doing so not only help ourselves, but help our neighbors. A quick end to this conflict will be in the best interests of everyone...."





---------------

An Excerpt from The Rise of Kvatch: A Second Era Story by Imperial Chronicler Mercutio

The war was fairly easy, as the previous ones had been. Any opposition was mostly distracted down along the coast, fighting each other. King Actur was most staunchly silent on the matter, for fear of making his situation worse. The mere act of going to war took a toll on Ioannes, though, who had grown used to peace, and raising his young family. The campaign was a simple matter of marshaling the various levies at Trumble, marching across the border and securing the Brittlerock area, but Ioannes' mood was said to have taken a sharp decline when the land was not immediately seceded to him. Instead the army had to march South, hoping to find an encounter, and not just any encounter, but one with the rebellious Duke... The trip took them into non-rebellious areas, as Anvil's army had already done a number on other regional fortifications. Unlike before, there was now stiff civilian resistance as well. Kvatch was not seen as liberators for a change, with obvious reason. Furthermore, back home, some various local mayors took the time to draft a letter of protest regarding taxes, the first sign that maybe not all were as content as they seemed...





Ioannes sent back a soothing letter, and the ring leaders of the movement were satisfied. Early the next year, however, violence suddenly exploded around Dirich. Peasants were taking matters into their own hands! The event was most shocking, not least of which to Ioannes himself. Looking back, a combination of factors was at play that at least logically allows for the rebellion to occur, but at the time many people could not see past the joyful veneer of society to see that Kvatch's position, while drastically improved from what it had been 20 years ago, was by no stretch of the imagination at all completely unassailable. Objectively speaking, it's hard to say for sure if taxes on the peasantry were too high. In all likelihood they were not, but this was an easy issue to rally around. The epicenter of the rebellion in this case is important, as Dirich struggled under a young ruler and regency. If Count Molvirian was still alive it is most certain the event would not have spiraled this far. Furthermore, with many young men off fighting on campaign, not only were peasants strained to the limit doing their normal tasks, but less guards were around to keep law and order intact. As this event proves, this combination can be a recipe for disaster even in the best cases...