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    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

gela1212

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Chapter 9 - The Horns of War

OOC: Sorry this update is kinda late, I've been busy. Won't be an update tomorrow, I have Music Performance Assessment (MPA) to go to after school and that'll probably take the rest of the day when I combine it with homework.
------

Cold. Then night was freezing, bitterly cold. Francesco I and his two illegitimate half-brothers, Antonio and Domenic, each sat atop a horse as black as night. The wind zipped past them as they watched the fires of their soldier's camps below. Ever since the council had unanimously voted to go to war with the Byzantine Empire, Francesco had been forced to ride with his soldiers to at least maintain a semblance of popularity. The fact that his seemingly magical ability to always lose was driving his popularity down even more was certainly aggravating. "Rouse the men. The time for battle is now." About fifty miles southwest from Attica, the Byzantines had made a small army camp, preparing to strike at Athens itself. The total numbers there probably only managed to make 5000, while the Athenian army was 7000 strong. Despite his bad luck, Francesco was sure he could win.

Five hours later, the army was marching, and now the Byzantine camp was in sight. The night had become morning, and the first light from the sun was now shining on a battlefield soon to be stained by the blood of soldiers. "Lord in Heaven, forgive me for those whose souls I take on this night, and those of mine who I have led into their death. Let you be with them in the heavens above," prayed Francesco in an undertone, far away enough from anyone to be heard. "Form the line!" he shouted out, and picked up his horn. The Byzantine army was assembling itself, but it wouldn't be fast enough if Francesco could help it. He sounded the horn five times, and the soldiers spread out about three or four men deep and twenty men wide per infantry column, and they began advancing down the hill. "Aera! Aera!" cried the soldiers. They swept down like the wind, just like they cried. Though Francesco barely understood a word of Greek, he knew what they were shouting, "Wind, Wind!". Suddenly, it seemed the time had passed in a second. He was behind an infantry column, riding back and forth to each to shout words of encouragement.

He yelled orders in Italian, so that the Byzantines would not understand. That had been his plan, because each citizen was supposed to learn both languages. However, ever since Greek had been adopted as the official language, Italian and Latin both had been abandoned. He didn't know this though, and his soldiers didn't understand what he was saying. Still, the tide of war seemed to be turning his way regardless, and from the looks of it, the Byzantines were beginning to retreat. But suddenly, five distinct horns blew, a few seconds apart. One from the east, one from the west, one from the south, one from behind the Byzantines to the north, and one to the southeast. Looking around for what caused it, Francesco was dismayed to see the Hungarian banner, and the sound of horses. Hungarian cavalry.. how had he forgotten? The Byzantines were allied with the Hungarians, and quickly, the infamous horsemen were upon them. They smashed into the infantry columns, and Francesco pulled back. His men were dropping like flies. It would be stupid, and irresponsible, to let all of them and himself die. He rose the white flag of surrender, and was forced to negotiate on how to end the war. In the end, it was decided that Athens would cede Cyprus to Byzantium, an island it hadn't had much control over regardless.

EU3_297.jpg


A year later, the tragedy of the war had been forgotten. Theodoros was ridiculed, but he had maintained the alliance with Castile, and Athens prestige with the world was more or less the same, despite losing a few battles and ceding an island (which it had never legally gained in the first place). But the Castilians called them again, once more to war with the Byzantines. This time, the Empire was weaker, but it was still dangerous.

EU3_298.jpg


In addition, the truce with Byzantium still held. It had been made to last five years, more for the help of Athens than the Romans. Still, it was illegal to breach it no matter which side broke the contrast. The council and Francesco were forced to accept, they wouldn't throw away everything they had lost so much for. Hopefully, Athenian independence would remain.

However, good news had reached Athens. The lands normally called Cape Verde, and being renamed Cape Salamis, it was now controlled by Athens.

EU3_299.jpg


A few years later, peace was finally made with the Byzantine Empire, and not too much had been lost. All Athens was forced to do was formally concede that it had lost the war, without giving up much else. Sure, it lost some prestige, but Athens was really at the bottom of the world right now regardless, as much as Theodoros hated to think of it that way.

EU3_301.jpg


Knowing that Cyprus would soon be in the hands of the Romans, Theodoros, mainly out of the goodness of his heart, had sent a message to the residence of Dmitry and Anastasia. They were invited to return to Athens for a ceremony (coincidentally, of course, one taking place the day Cyprus would formally change hands) There actually was a ceremony that day, and each Councilor was allowed three guests. Theodoros decided his would be Francesca (not that she needed an invitation as a member of the royal family) and the two Russians. However, that night, things had been a little rocky with Francesca, and apparently Anastasia had noticed.

Dmitry had died of a heart attack a few weeks before the ceremony, she told him as he escorted her to his home (he had a guest room and she had no place to sleep). He had done a lot for Athens, despite being disliked by pretty much everyone except the two Antonios, and that didn't exactly help him much. Anastasia, on the other hand, seemed to have been pretty well liked, probably because of her beauty. So, that night, he went to sleep with her under his roof, unguarded, and he would come to realize how much of a mistake that was.
---
OOC: Sorry for those hoping for an epic war in which the Blue Lion would decidedly trounce the forces of the Roman Empire. I tried to at least make a decent battle scene though, but I probably failed, I'm much more of a politic writer.
 

acidsun

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Awesome AAR, please keep writing, really!

I won't be able to play EU where I am for quite some time, and reading your AAR is one of the ways of dealing with the addiction, haha

And hey, not sure of how this works on DW, but westernizing Athens somehow could be very useful to turn the tide in your favour.
 

gela1212

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Awesome AAR, please keep writing, really!

I won't be able to play EU where I am for quite some time, and reading your AAR is one of the ways of dealing with the addiction, haha

And hey, not sure of how this works on DW, but westernizing Athens somehow could be very useful to turn the tide in your favour.

It works basically the same, and I don't have a western neighbor yet. :\ But, when I get a chance, I definitely will. I don't exactly own the richest provinces in the game (understatement of the year) so I need all the help I can get with tech.

Also, finally changed my flag.
 

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Chapter 10 - How Short This Life Is

OOC: I thought we'd seen too little of some characters, so I made this chapter mostly about them. A special thanks to extra characters who give up their spotlight.
----

Dimosthenes Crispo reclined in the atrium of his house, wondering exactly what he was going to do. He had returned to Athens expecting fanfare and adoration for expanding the Kingdom's borders, but instead, he got a few nods and perhaps a respectful "Councilor," every now and then. But in general, he was forgotten. Meanwhile, Theophlyaktos was in control of most of the city, with the only two able to oppose him being the King, Francesco, and Theodoros. Dimosthenes was a mostly unknown councilor known only for his sly tongue and being the brother of one of the greatest politicians in Athens. But, he was coming up with a plan. He didn't exactly plan on 'betraying' his brother, but perhaps he would slip a bit of information to Theodoros now and then, get on the man's good side, then give a bit of information about Theodoros to Theophlyaktos. When they destroyed each other, Dimosthenes could rise to the top, perhaps becoming the dominant force in the council, and lead the nation to a new land in the west. Yes, it seemed quite attractive now. In fact, he had some information they didn't. The territories in Afrikanos had expanded to the south, and colonists there had founded a city they called New Argos, creating a second center of power in the colonies.

EU3_304.jpg


Yes, the future could be bright indeed.

~~~~

Francesco II Acciaioli was bent over his desk. The room he was in had no windows, a door which took about twenty minutes to open because of all its locks, and was completely private. The only light was a small candle he was holding up, reading the papers his agents had given him. He was charged with the spiritual integrity of Athens, in addition to being the Heir Apparent. The ruling class was Catholic, but most of the citizenry were heretics. Francesco took it upon himself to disturb the peace of the Kingdom and try to bring them up to date on the Creed. He had succeeded in the eastern parts, especially along the islands of Naxos. In fact, Naxos itself could be said to have more true Catholics than heretics.

EU3_305.jpg


Of course, he did not want to shed the blood of fellow Christians. He had tried to get his father to decline the call to arms from Bulgaria against Athens' brethren in the Roman Empire, but sadly, he would not listen. It really was a shame. But, the lord knew all, and he would note in his book of life that Francesco had tried. He had really, really tried.

EU3_306.jpg


The population of Morea had also become Catholic thanks to the efforts of the Prince spreading southward across the border. He had urged them to overthrow the shackles of their Orthodox oppressors and show the people in that Empire the light of the truth. They had honored his call, and at the moment were rolling through the countryside taking towns and churches, but trying to avoid killing when possible, at his behest. They seemed to be quite successful, and were mostly undisturbed by the Roman army.

EU3_307.jpg


~~~~

Francesco I sat on his throne, listening to the case of a few artisans to try to get laws changed. Despite what the council thought, Francesco knew he had the real power in the state, that of the control over people. He might not be able to deal with foreign affairs, but anywhere the Blue Lion flew, he was the sole ruler. Suddenly, disturbing Francesco's guise of pretending to actually be paying attention somewhat, a man burst through the door. From his breastplate and relatively light armor, and the fact that he seemed to have recently been in a saddle, it was obvious whoever it was happened to be a messenger. "Sir, I just received news from Corfu. They have ousted the Venetians and raised our banner, and wished to be granted entrance into our most glorious league!" he said, obviously quite excited to be the bearer of good news.

EU3_308-1.jpg


"Hmm, tell the guards to prepare a ship for me immediately. I want to examine our new holdings. I apologize, fair citizens, but matters of state are pressing. I have heard your case, though, and I shall decide on what I think is just," said Francesco, smiling. He was trying, very hard, to be the people's hero. The populist faction had no real support in the council, and Francesco's goal of disbanding that accursed institution might be possible with their help. The traders loved Theophlyaktos, and the nobles loved Theodoros, but the poor peasant was an unheard of voice. How far from its ideals had the council gone?

~~~~

Anastasia laid in bed, awake. She hadn't gotten much sleep for several years. Perhaps three or four hours a night for weeks in a row, then culminating in a day or two where she would sleep constantly. One of those days was a week ago, and she was feeling fairly energetic. She was deciding how to go about making best use of Theodoros' weaknesses. It was possible she could earn herself a decent-looking husband, and a powerful one to boot. When she was 13, she had been stolen by Dmitry. From there, she was no more than a slave to him, waiting on his every need. He found it frivolous to hire a cook, when Anastasia could just do everything. That had angered her, but after he forced her to marry him, she basically just convinced herself to get used to it. After she had been stolen, the two had fled the Rus', coming to the Roman court. Dmitry hoped for a job, and he had been hired for a short while until the Romans realized he hadn't done anything. They threw him out, and they fled to Athens. There, he had been well received, as he was the best they could get.

In retrospect, Anastasia was glad. The money he got had enabled him to hire a few servants so she wouldn't have to do as much, and made him a little less angry all the time. She had attached herself to a few members of the Athenian council, and even one of their kings, Antonio I, but none of them had real power. She was pretty sure that if she took this opportunity, and presented herself correctly, Theodoros would fall apart in her hands. She couldn't return to Cyprus now, so the hope of living peacefully on her husband's estate was useless. So, this was really her only hope, and she was getting quite desperate.

Getting out of bed, she put on a robe, though left it untied. When the guards saw her walking to Theodoros' room -- the ones that were not asleep by now, that is -- they merely snickered. Her plan was going fine for now. She stepped into his room loudly, hoping to awake him. He was still asleep. Good, that meant he was a heavy sleeper, and would allow her to position herself the way she wanted without him waking up. Closing the door, she slipped off her robe and placed it at the end of the bed. Taking a set of that Italian girl's -- Francesca, Anastasia thought her name was -- undergarments from the drawer, she laid them along the bed. Climbing in, she wrapped her arms around him and rested on the pillow. Not that she intended on actually surrendering herself to him -- not yet, anyway -- but if he thought she had at some time during the night, perhaps while he was drunk, he would be more willing to accept her offers. Yes, this plan might just work after all.
 
Last edited:

anomanderus

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Cyprus must be reclaimed by the Republic. And Albania and Larissa should be in Greek hands.
 

Ashantai

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I love it. Fantastic update and narrative! :)

Anastasia is quite a girl!
 

gela1212

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Chapter 11 - My Blood on These Rocks

OOC: I entirely planned posting this last night.. but I got home from school at 5, fell asleep and didn't wake up 'till 7 in the morning today. So, without further ado, Chapter XI! (BTW, we're getting close to 5,000 views. GO GO GO!)

----

Theodoros woke up, and saw the fair skinned Russian girl staring at him with warm, blue eyes. Her lips twitched in a smile, but he only laid there in shock. "Wha-- what are you doing here?!" he said, and sat up, pulling her arms away. He saw what appeared to be the woman's undergarments strewn across the bed. "Did-- what happened last night?" he asked, his hands shaking. If Francesca found out, there was no telling what might happen. Anastasia sat up too, and it was a struggle for Theodoros to continue looking at her face. "You don't remember? I found it--- shocking," she said, winking at him slyly. He sat there, dumbfounded, then scrambled out of the bed. He hurriedly put his clothes on, and she just sat, still smiling. "Put something on, woman!" he shouted at her, turning away. "Awh, but I don't want to.." her voice began to trail off, and he turned back around. She was looking out the window, the ground barely illuminated by the sun that had just begun to peek over the hills.

It was possible to make out five figures, all of them Greeks. Four of them were holding knives, facing down the lone man. Nobody else was around to save the poor soul. Theodoros quickly slipped on a shirt and breeches, grabbed his sword, and ran through the house to get to the street. He was too late. There, on the rocks laying at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis, in a pool of blood, lay Francesco I Acciaioli. Theodoros immediately fell to his knees, and prayed for the man's safe passage under the eyes of Christ. Francesco II came out, hearing the commotion as people began to file out of their houses, and looked shocked at what he saw. He could feel a small pulse, but it was quickly going away. He administered last rights, his father dying as soon as he finished the last word.

That's when it hit him. He was now King of Athens.

EU3_309.jpg


Anastasia, back in the manor, slipped her clothes on, scowling. It hadn't worked. But she would try again, another night, when the man was more susceptible. She could tell his relationship with Francesca wouldn't last much longer. That Italian girl was now heir to the Athenian throne, and her father wasn't a very intelligent man. He was dogged, and new how to get the last ounce of money out of people, but when it came to anything else he was, well, stupid. The strain of being heir would cause Francesca to try to remove stress from her life, like Theodoros, and that's when Anastasia would strike. Smiling, she walked out the door, down the hallways, into her own rooms. Later that night, she didn't receive a notification telling her her welcome had ended. Perhaps it had worked a little bit.

~~~

A few months later, the council received a request from the Iberian power of Castile. Apparently, the Byzantine alliance had forced them to end any relationship with Athens, and thus they were requesting the alliance be rekindled five years after the war. The offer was quickly accepted, of course.

EU3_310.jpg


Theophlyaktos had been the only supporter of declining, which Theodoros had somehow knew about beforehand. Unbeknownst to Theophlyaktos, Dimosthenes was already beginning his traitorous plans. His actual power grew continuously, as he withheld reports of expansion along the African coast in Trarza.

EU3_312.jpg


It was all tropical land, not very suitable for growing crops, but it housed uncivilized and uncultured natives, who the Athenians were able to pay cheaply, very cheaply, to work. And, if those natives wanted to advance along the social ladder, most of their money would come directly back to the governor. It was very efficient, and made the African colonies incredibly productive. In return, the Athenians educated the natives, and introduced them to Christianity. Dimosthenes became very wealthy from the money he received directly from the natives (their pay came from the council, fortunately) as well as his citizens in Trarza and New Argos, who paid taxes directly to him. He ordered the rebuilding of parts of the Acropolis, making him very popular amongst the people. He also allowed only Athenian merchants to trade in Africa, making him even more popular with his own class. Dimosthenes thought, maybe, just maybe, if he grew powerful enough, he would be able to elevate the council above the king. Neither Theophlyaktos or Theodoros had thought of that yet, apparently.

~~~

Francesca had been having dinner with Theodoros less and less often, and had only noticed Anastasia twice. "Why do you keep that woman around here?" she asked him finally, the night before winter would officially start. Theodoros only looked at her, fearing the shame of what he thought he had done would rise to the surface. Instead, his face remained calm and serene. "She has nowhere to go. What are you accusing me of?" he asked, locking eyes with her. He was not in a good mood at all tonight. Several council sessions in a row he had been defeated, even with Dimosthenes providing him with information. Not by Theophlyaktos though, but by Adeipho. The boy was a ridiculously good orator, and a political genius. He had risen from a minor Councilor to a candidate for Head of Council in the coming month. "Uh... uh.. nothing," Francesca stammered, her dress slashed with the colors of House Acciaioli. She was taking this Heir Apparent thing very seriously.

"Actually, I'm done with this. I'm not going to let myself be silenced by your words. You're having an affair, aren't you?" she asked. Theodoros had actually been thinking of sending Anastasia away after Francesca expressed her concerns, but those words annoyed him greatly. He wouldn't give in now. "No. I am not. Look into my eyes, I'm telling you the truth," he said to her. She grunted in annoyance, stood up, and pointed at him. "Theodoros Konstantinos, you have no idea what you're doing, do you? Your ignorance of some things used to be amusing, but now its just aggravating. I can tell you are telling the truth, but why can't you just send her away? She should mean nothing to you. Goodbye, Theo," she said, and walked out calmly. She was crying by the time she reached the door, but she had to be strong.

She'll be back in a week, thought Theodoros. Unfortunately, he was wrong.

---

OOC: I managed to work Adeipho back into the story. I doubt he'll be doing much, but I don't want him to remain unmentioned. As for Dimosthenes, I've been wanting him to do something important for awhile, but I'm not quite sure what. I have no idea what he'll do with the newfound power I just gave him, but we'll see.
 

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a colonial athens? madness!
subscribing.

oh,btw, afrikanos actualy means african man. as in ONE african man(left in the province?). XD
 

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yes, Athens colonizing has never happened at any time in history before. :p

interesting. it just sounded greek to me so I used it.
 

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Well done! Great narrative and progress as always! :)
 

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Well, spent a nice week at the Everglades (or, a hotel about fifty miles from the Everglades, I suppose..) which is why there was no update. This isn't dead, so don't worry. :p
 

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Chapter 12 - All Hail The Queen!

OOC: Yes! I'm back! More Blue Lion awesomeness shall be delivered. However, Photobucket is being somewhat gay, so the pictures may take a very long time to load or may not show at all for today or tomorrow. Sorry 'bout that. Also, this chapter takes place two years after the previous one.
--

"Francesca!" boomed the voice of Francesco II, King of Athens, Guardian of the Blue Lion. "Come in here, at this moment!"

Francesca sighed. Her brother had gotten more and more inhumane, as if some form of inanimate object was actually governing the nation. He had no more personality, none of that exciting (if sometimes annoying) religious devotion he had one had. He seemed flat, and his cold, dead stare was directed at her with something equivalent to both sheer contempt and neutrality at the same time. She was getting tired of it, but she kneeled anyway. "Hail to the King," she said with absolutely no devotion. She was going to strangle him at this rate. "God does not smile upon you, Francesca. You are impious, and I have been informed of what you have been doing," he said gravely, regaining just a little of his old self for a small time. "You're really late, that was many years ago. I'm forty-seven now, do you really think I would do that? I've given up on having a happy marriage. Or being married at all."

EU3_314.jpg


"Unfortunately, I cannot believe you, sister. Guards, behead this woman under my mandate for crimes of defiling the realm," said Francesco. Francesca stood up, waiting for the guards to come at her. For the first time in two years, she met his gaze with a level look. She muttered under her breath "go to hell," to quietly for him or the guards to hear, and felt them dragging her away. She had never felt this much contempt for one person in her entire life, probably all the anger she had felt previously did not amount to this.

Of course, Francesco somehow thought this would make him popular, and had invited the public to come watch 'justice being served'. She was surprised, however, when a familiar voice called from the balcony of the palace as she was being dragged out. "In the name of the council of Athens, I deem this punishment illegal!" shouted the voice. Francesca's head turned, and she saw his face. Theodoros. "Touch that woman further and you shall all be executed at the behest of the council," he said, much more coolly. The nine other councilors had lined up beside him, and all vigorously nodded their heads. Then, surprisingly, Theophlyaktos chimed in. "I've seen a lot, but this is most certainly unjust. I declare this a session of public council, if you were wondering how we would be able to punish you. Of course, that means killing her is contemptuously defiling council, a crime for which death or exile are the only punishments. Also, I put a referendum to the people; that King Francesco II be stripped of his crown on grounds of gross violation of the law this day, and be said to have defiled council for his uninvited presence, and as such must be exiled immediately,"

The people cheered in agreement, but Francesca didn't really notice. She just looked up, smiling, at Theodoros, and only snapped out of it when she realized he was speaking to her. "Francesca! Francesca! Come up here," he said, motioning with his hands. She shook off the guards and began climbing the staircase, arriving at the balcony. "I believe a new King must be crowned," he muttered, "and there is no male relative available in Athens. We could call to your relatives in Tuscany and Venice, but I doubt they would be very excited to help. So, the council has voted unanimously," At this point, he rose his voice, turning to the crowd. "The law barring those of the female gender from holding the highest office in the land, that of the Crown of Athens, is to be struck down. Immediately effective, Francesca Acciaioli is to be named Queen!"

Francesco sat, dumbstruck. Guards were coming to take him into exile. He simply muttered a small, "Lord, protect my children," before stabbing himself. Exile would not be something he could bare. Those were his last words, and later, Francesca I Acciaioli was named Queen of Athens, Guardian of the Blue Lion, and given her crown.
--

OOC: New chapter very shortly, probably tomorrow or Wednesday. There's a lot of unused screenshots, but I didn't want to ruin the momentum of this chapter by changing scenes.