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Introduction - Overcome the Wind

Gruekiller

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Overcome the Wind

Hey, I'm Gruekiller. Some of you might already know me from a couple of aborted AARs in the EU3 section (unlikely) or from the Civilization IV AARs I've done elsewhere (also unlikely but darn it I'm much prouder of those). I've finally made the jump to EU4 and I have to say that I'm enjoying the ride. I finally feel confident enough with the game to begin storytelling once again, and I hope I will not disappoint.

Inspiration struck this time during a startlingly gamy Byzantium playthrough when I noticed Qara Qoyunlu enjoying its usual role as the punching bag of Southwest Asia, and saw just who was occupying them:


oy7bIS6.png

Oirat was beating QQ up and had dragged its steppe horde buddies into the fray, resulting in the small Manchu chiefdom of Jianzhou occupying a number of provinces for the rest of the war. I'd never seen anything quite like this before, a minor steppe horde from the Pacific coast marching successfully into battle in the Middle East, and for a while after it made me wonder about scenarios in which such a thing could actually happen. By the end of the day I'd made my mind up, and launched into a whirlwind campaign which lasted from 1444 to 1821 - the only time I've ever played an EU campaign to completion. By the end, I'd learned a lot about the game, and, more importantly, created enough material to make the foundation of what I think could be a promising story.

It's a tale of an alternate history, one which will see the uncertain rise of a Sinicized empire from among the Muslim world, and its quest for the Mandate of Heaven over the course of four centuries.

It's the tale of Jianzhou.

EU35ELP.png
 
Last edited:

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Chinese Iraq. Oh, I'm definitely following this. :D
 
I. - Background

Gruekiller

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Background (The Beginning of Time to 1444)


SD5AC0c.jpg


The plains of central Manchuria.

Since the beginning of recorded history, the great steppes north of the Chinese heartland have teemed with an ever-shifting constellation of nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples, from the Xiongnu, to the Khitai, to the Mongols. Proficient in the use of the horse, these people posed a constant threat to Han Chinese society and would forge some powerful empires of their own over the years. Tucked away between Mongolia and the sea, to the northeast of the Han heartland, the high plains of Manchuria have long been home to a people who called themselves the Jušen or Nǚzhēn (女真). Once, in the days of the 12th Century, the Jurchens rose above their humble origins to storm the north of China and cast aside the Khitan Liao Dynasty, giving rise to a new Jin Dynasty (金朝) which would dominate the north of China for 120 years.


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The Jin Dynasty in 1141.

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A wooden carved Bodhisattva of Jin Dynasty age.

But not even a rising empire like the Jin could withstand the coming Mongol tide, which swept over the Jin lands from 1222 - 1224, ultimately occupying all the Jurchen lands under the rule of a new Mongol Empire. They would remain under foreign rule for another century and a half, until the Mongol Yuan Dynasty collapsed under its own weight in 1368. The new Ming Dynasty which ultimately rose from its ashes exerted only nominal suzerainty over the northeastern lands, leaving the Jurchens to govern their own destiny once again. The newly independent Jurchens would coalesce into three main entities: the nomadic Yeren or "Wild" Jurchens (野人女真) who lived northernmost of the three, along the Amur River; the Haixi Jurchen (海西女真) of Heilonjiang; and the Jianzhou Jurchen (建州女真), the southernmost of the three, who lived a quiet, sedentary lifestyle on the northern periphery of Korea. Although the Jurchen were free at last, the new Ming state still claimed suzerainty over all the Jurchen lands, venturing north every so often to try to exact tribute. It is into this uncertain and rapidly-changing situation that the Jianzhou khan Cungsan Aisin Gioro was thrust upon his ascension to the throne in 1433 at the age of 21. Hotheaded and ambitious, the new Khan sought immediately to further his own power. He attempted to court the other Jurchen tribes into an alliance against Ming domination, which they tacitly accepted, welding the Jurchen tribes into a mighty force of horsemen which could raid into China with impunity and free the Jurchens of Han domination once again. The fateful battle would come in southern Heilongjiang in the late spring of 1437...


mCgmqEO.jpg



The ill-fated Jurchen cavalry face down Ming infantry in 1437.

A series of tactical blunders turned the "great liberation" into a total rout, sending the Haixi and Yeren armies packing and leaving only the central Jianzhou line to face the Ming head-on. Cungsan narrowly avoided death at the hands of the Imperial army, fleeing with what remained of his host to Jianzhou lands once again. The retribution of the Zhengtong Emperor was harsh--the Jianzhou would be made to pick up stakes and abandon their ancestral lands for exile into the west. Cungsan, humiliated, could do nothing but comply, leading his people into the nomadic life once again and going into the west. The Jianzhou crossed the high Mongol steppes and the old Liao lands, leaving China and settling in the area around Samarkand by 1440, at the northern frontier of the fearsome Timurid Empire. Cungsan, hardly humbled by his prior defeat, still desired a more glorious future for his people, enviously eyeing the rich lands of Persia. The Jianzhou went to battle again, this time facing off against the Khan of the Timurids outside Samarkand...


cBhGaQP.jpg



A manuscript depicting the Jurchen forces at the Battle of Samarkand (1443).

The Jianzhou proved to be outmatched again, forced into rout across the Iranian Plateau in a series of hit-and-run engagements forcing them further and further from the Persian heartland, and into the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The Timurid Khan, feeling he had proved his dominance, ended the pursuit, leaving the vagabonds from the east to be the Qara Qoyunlu sultan's problem. The Black Sheep Turks, who had only recently recaptured Baghdad from the declining Timurid Empire, struggled to cope with the wave of Asiatic refugees, and tensions grew rapidly as the Jianzhou occupied a series of towns around Baghdad. Tensions broke into outright conflict, seeing the Jianzhou horsemen called up again into a mighty Banner Army which arrayed against the Qara Qoyunlu capital in a great siege. By 10 November 1444, the walls had been breached, and the sultanate of the Black Sheep Turks was no more. Cungsan set himself up in the great city on the Tigris. It was no Nanjing--but if he could not rule the Middle Kingdom, then he would make one of his own, here in the far western lands...


EU35ELP.png
 
Last edited:

Gruekiller

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Just as a side-note, I'm going to try to include a bit of Chinese in the story, as it's the administrative/court language of the subject country. I have no real background with any of the Chinese languages, though, so I'd appreciate any corrections or suggestions that the readers might have on this regard. :)
 

DKM

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subbed

1 - Good luck!

2 -
Hey, I'm Gruekiller. Some of you might already know me from a couple of aborted AARs in the EU3 section (unlikely) or from the Civilization IV AARs I've done elsewhere (also unlikely but darn it I'm much prouder of those).
I know you from both. :D
 

eliaspays

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This is amazing, subbed!
 
II. - On Shaky Steps

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On Shaky Steps (1444 to 1448)


g1p6Jln.png


In the days after the Battle of Baghdad, Cungsan Aisin Gioro (愛新覺羅充善) was faced with the tall order of imposing peace and stability upon his new demesne. In these early days, a few regional Turkoman and Arab lords still held out in hilltop fortresses against the Jurchen tide, particularly in rocky Azerbaijan and Kurdistan where even Muslim kings had held little sway, to say nothing of the new invaders from the east. This onerous task kept the Yellow Banner Army occupied, smashing citadel after citadel in the hopes of cementing the Khan's authority. A cousin of the Khan by marriage, Kara Sogiya, would lead the Jianzhou hosts against the rebels, leaving the Khan time to settle down in the old Round City of the Abbasids with Lady Nunje and his three sons, Tolo (妥罗), Toimo (妥义谟), and Sibeoci Fiyanggu (锡宝齐篇古). The Khan was not highly talented in military affairs, as his prior defeats at the hands of the Ming and Timurids must have shown, and in the aftermath of the conquest of Iraq he quit the saddle to spend most of his reign on administrative affairs. The city of Baghdad had been subjected to a sacking by the Mongols two centuries before from which it had never recovered, and Timur's own sack of the city in 1401 had left it in an even sorrier state. Most of the royal treasury from the 1440s through the 1470s would be spent on attempts at reconstruction, though it would not be until the reign of Cungsan's grandson that the new capital would be in one piece again...


zfRdzNi.png


O9AHLic.png



The Jurchens were awash in a sea of foreign peoples during the early years of the conquest.

Despite the unrest of the khanate's new subjects, its greatest threat in its infancy came from within its own ranks. Although the long exile in Central Asia had eroded many of the barriers between the three traditional Jurchen tribes, confidence in the ruling Aisin Gioro clan was low, especially among once-landed lordly families. The most prominent pretender of the 1440s was Ajige, a lord of House Asuri, who gathered a number of horselords at the Syrian border for an attempt on the Jianzhou throne. Sogiya's Yellow Banner intercepted Ajige on the banks of the Euphrates in a mighty clash which saw thousands of horsemen sent to an early grave, much to Cungsan's frustration--why couldn't these fools waste their aggressions upon their actual enemies at the borders instead? Ajige Asuri was summarily thrown to an unpleasant death off of one of the river's many cliffs in the aftermath of the battle, ending the rebellion, although the seeds of dissent would sprout again before too long...


ODhjU8p.png


Eager to see his vassals' ire turned upon something constructive, Cungsan turned his eyes north to the rich Black Sea city of Trebizond, still ruled even in these late years by the Greeks of the Megas Komnenos line. The stately city on the eastern edge of the Christian world posed a tempting target for a khanate starved of treasure and desperately in need of a victory to secure its legitimacy. The horsemen from the east found the Komnenoi's fortress a tough nut to crack, not least because of the rocky Pontic Mountains which separated the city from the Jurchen-controlled fortresses of the East Anatolian Plateau, but also because of the numerous fortifications which had cropped up throughout the Komnenian realm since the Fourth Crusade. Eventually, with the Yellow Banner arrayed somewhat ineffectually outside the city on the cape itself, Cungsan rode north at the head of a thousand cavalrymen reinforcements to join the siege, greatly relieving the tired soldiers of the Banner. The Jurchens sat outside the city for many days, stonily watching the waves roll against the Pontic shore...


nNHVPQR.jpg



The citadel of the Komnenoi at Trebizond.

The tense days that followed saw a series of food and water shortages hit the city, a few desperate citizens attempting even to draw drinkable water out of the sea to little avail. The potent Trapezuntian navy ensured that the side of Trebizond facing the sea could not be imperiled by the Jurchens, but the Jianzhou host remained on the hills south of the city, out of range of the archers aboard the dromons. The uncomfortable stalemate ended only late in 1446, the Emperor Ioannes having finally rallied enough of the city guard together for a small army to face the invaders head-on and see the eastern heathens driven from his lands once and for all. It's hard to say if the monarch had grown antsy in the weeks of the Jurchen army looming over the city and its archers taking fire at will into the city and terrorizing the populace, or if he was truly overconfident enough to believe that his assault could break the vastly larger Yellow Banner. The ill-fated sally ended with a charge of Cungsan himself at the head of his thousand horsemen, blunting the strike of the Greek force at the western end of the city walls and throwing Ioannes from his horse. Ioannes IV Megas Komnenos, the last Emperor of Trebizond, was dead, and the fate of the city sealed.

The siege continued for some weeks more, the soft peals of mournful church bells rolling over the walls during the slain emperor's wake and then eerie silence for some days more. At the end of the week, Trapezuntian archers appeared on the walls once more with a renewed vigor, employing surprising hit-and-run attacks, often in the dead of the night. They also began to creatively employ the carnage inside the city from the months of siege, throwing dead dogs over the walls to spread stink and disease. This offended the sensibilities of the Jurchens terribly--they viewed the killing of dogs or the usage of their meat or coats as the utmost taboo, to say nothing of using them as a tool of war. Dispirited by the inexplicable new fury of the Trapezuntians, Cungsan indicated a truce and demanded to see the new commander of the Greek forces. To the surprise of the Khan, there was no grizzled old general, but a slight, brown-haired girl of no more than fifteen years--the Princess Eudokia, the only surviving child of the late Emperor. In the aftermath of her father's death, the Jurchens discovered, the willful young princess had made use of her royal bloodline to rally the city's defenders for one last hurrah in the name of Christ and the Virgin, making use of tactics she had read about in accounts of the Mongol invasions of two centuries before. The Jurchens, steeped in the ways of the steppe, knew well that a woman could fight or lead troops just as well as any man, although it was something that Cungsan had thought beyond these pitiful westerners until this moment. Duly impressed by the resourcefulness of his youthful foe (though also eager to end the siege on his terms as soon as he was able) Cungsan sought an honorable surrender of the Greek defenders. Devoted to her beloved place of birth though she was, Eudokia saw that there was no true chance to repel the invaders now, and that any sacking of her city would see many of her subjects slain and the city's rich harbor pilfered. At last, reluctantly, she offered to open the gates peacefully in exchange for fair treatment of Trebizond and its people, offering up the royal treasury if the rest of the city's material wealth would be left in place. On 9 December 1446, the siege of Trebizond ended at last, the city in which Xenophon once trod, and from which an Empire had ruled, now a march of the young Jurchen empire. True to Cungsan's word, the city was treated fairly for the most part, with little looting. The wealth of the Komnenoi was brought in a triumphal procession to Baghdad, the glittering gold and royal artifacts passing before the people's eyes on its way to the palace in a grand parade which greatly quieted much of the disloyal talk amongst the city's Arabs. Also brought before the people for the first time, the exiled princess Eudokia rode alongside the Khan and his general in new Jurchen finery. Rather than flee to her cousins' imperiled Constantinople, she accepted the Khan's offer to dwell instead at the court in Baghdad, and to be betrothed to his youngest son, Sibeoci Fiyanggu.


tcpIbb2.png


Far to the south in arid Arabia, the kingdom of Hejaz sat up and took notice of the new kingdom on its northern border. Although four tense years had passed in which the custodians of the holy mosques in Mecca and Medina feared that the infidels could endanger Islam's holiest cities, polite embassies from the new Khan in Baghdad (who had little need in his own mind for the deserts to Iraq's south) eventually courted the Hejazis into the Jurchens' ring, especially given the promise of a joint attack on their hated enemies, the Mamluks of Egypt. This was an alliance which, shaky at first as it might have been, would last through the ages...


HU70cih.png


Not everyone was as content as the exiled Greek princess or the lords of Hejaz. Despite the growing authority of the Khan from his throne in Baghdad, the traditional lords of the Jianzhou had recovered at last from the effects of the exile and the last pretender revolt to crystallize once again into a concrete faction at court. Cungsan resented their growing influence on the young bureaucracy of his kingdom and their insular little gatherings, but had no proof to justify cracking down on their privileges--such a thing would destabilize the more traditionalist parts of Jurchen society and put his rule in jeopardy. Despite his best attempts at infiltration of the lords' circles, however, Cungsan did not know that his rule was already in peril, the scheming nobles years deep in a plot against the Aisin Gioro clan. This powerful faction of nobles was discontented with the neglect of the old horse-ranging ways of the traditional Jurchen families and the elevation of more and more foreigners into the civil service and court. Determined to supplant a dynasty they saw as weak and cowardly, the noble faction gathered support from the aristocrat-held lands of the marches on the northern and eastern borders into a worryingly large force of potential rebels. Once they were secure enough to feel confident in their position, a few powerful barons submitted their demands that the three Aisin Gioro sons be removed from the line of succession and for a son of one of the conspirators to rise to the position of heir apparent. The Khan balked at their arrogance, sending them packing out of his court and seizing their holdings in the city. This was just the trigger the rebel army needed to roll out of the northern mountains into the Mesopotamian river plain, thirteen-thousand strong--and bearing down upon Baghdad...


EfaRHqw.png
 

Konnigratz

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Uh-oh. Looks like consolidation is required, but you can't do that because of the whole Steppe Horde business. It's definitely not going to be a quiet time in Jurchen Iraq. :p
 

InvisibleSandwi

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I have a lot of things to say.
1. I miss the Tarascans.
2. Watch out for those wacky Ottomans, who will certainly be a thorn in your side if you play in the Middle East. I played a game as Qara Qoyunlu once - while I was able to successfully form Persia, their incursions on my land probably set me back about 20-30 years, and I even had to fight them in a European league war! Eventually I managed to achieve parity or better, but I had to expand deep into India to manage it.
3. You appear to be Confucian, but are you planning to bring Manchu/Chinese culture to your citizens? Furthermore, are you going to try and become China from this position, or are you going to carve out a more local empire?

I eagerly await future updates. Welcome back to AARland!
 

DKM

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What tech group are you?
 

Gruekiller

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I have a lot of things to say.
1. I miss the Tarascans.
2. Watch out for those wacky Ottomans, who will certainly be a thorn in your side if you play in the Middle East. I played a game as Qara Qoyunlu once - while I was able to successfully form Persia, their incursions on my land probably set me back about 20-30 years, and I even had to fight them in a European league war! Eventually I managed to achieve parity or better, but I had to expand deep into India to manage it.
3. You appear to be Confucian, but are you planning to bring Manchu/Chinese culture to your citizens? Furthermore, are you going to try and become China from this position, or are you going to carve out a more local empire?

I eagerly await future updates. Welcome back to AARland!

Thank you for the kind words. ;) I miss the Tarascans too, but times change, don'tchaknow. The Turks will be a pain in early years, but will pose more a tasty meal once sufficiently broken. As for your last question, the Aisin Gioro dynasty will attempt to impose Sinicized customs upon the locals with mixed results over time. Their ambitions will mostly consist of trying to create their own Middle Kingdom in miniature far away from the Ming--if Cungsan can't own the Middle Kingdom, then he'll make his own!

What tech group are you?

Steppe, unfortunately. :eek: We'll reach the Chinese tech group once we reform the government, which is still a step behind the local Muslim-tech nations.
 

Merrick Chance'

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What an interesting scenario! Subscribed!
 

Gruekiller

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Gross Gott, it seems to have transferred properly! I had to drop off the face of the planet for school concerns in March, but our Jurchen friends will return soon enough.
 
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DKM

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Great! Manchu Iraq is such an interesting idea.
 
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III. - Closure

Gruekiller

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Things fell through, needless to say, with prior commitments and the daunting size of this story playing big roles. I don't think that I'll ever get all these darned updates done even if I commit to it, so here's the highlight reel instead.

YBWDWaZ.png

I made headway with my missionaries pretty early on!

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The TImurids were nought but Timmy-Confetti before very long, making future expansion into Greater Iran a breeze.

WGq1yJ5.png

Austria made the Ottos cough up Byzantium pretty early, and surprise--they popped out Sunni, and soon had my dynasty! I wish PUs were a thing with Muslim countries, because integrating Byzantium would have been way easier than what eventually went down.

BHeLUcm.png

The ominous rise of Mega Venice...

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My font begins to tilt.

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My greatest emperor, who nearly doubled the size of the country during his reign.

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God-General 1 in the fray.

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God-General 2 joins the fight.

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God-General 3 holds the rear.

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Europe after the Wars of Religion. Bohemia usurped the Empire, but Austria has still eaten most of Hungary. Papal States are big, and Mega Venice is continuing to gorge itself on the Balkans.

SCiTAg5.png

I spread Manchu culture in Iraq.

mcC1Vbd.png

Byzantium breaks our alliance. I teach them a lesson by gobbling up the Queen of Cities. My font is beginning to turn horizontal!

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Byzzies are soon OPM'd by an increasingly scary Venice.

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The upshot of having Mega Venice for a neighbor...

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Round one against the Doge is a go.

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One of the many stackwipes to which I became accustomed after westernizing.

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My mighty Manchu realm is beginning to approach its final shape.

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That general can't save you, Afghanistan...

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I'm not finished with you yet, Mega Venice.

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A fine Valentine's Day present--Jianzhou troops in Venezia and the Suez Canal completed.

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Westernized Bahmanis-Hindustan became my chief opponent once Venice was tamed.

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Scary emperor Bohemia neuters Scandinavia in one war!

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Once more unto the breach.

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Got antsy when the end of the game neared and I didn't have time to beat up on any major powers. One-war-annexed Malacca instead for tasty trade income.

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Protestant Megabohemia unites the Empire. :eek:

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The final extent of the Jianzhou Empire.

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I thought the Middle East could really use some more neon-pink.

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Europe is a more boring affair.

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Our culture is supreme! Greek, Egyptian, Turkish, and Persian are accepted--it's like a 'who's who' of the Near East.

6vXfM1c.png

Final score. Ironman wasn't a possibility since I had to console Jianzhou over to Iraq to make the whole scenario happen.
 
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germandjinn

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thanks for the closure
 

JCan

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Appreciate the highlight reel.

Any further AARs from your good self in the offing?
 

DKM

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Appreciate the highlight reel.

Any further AARs from your good self in the offing?
The Legacy of Byzance. Bing it