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Werson

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Aug 14, 2012
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Welcome everyone to my second ever AAR. Many years ago I wrote a short Victoria 2 AAR about the Boers, but due to whatever was going on at the time (can't quite remember, was back in like 2012) I couldn't finish it. This time will be different however ;).

Sardinia's has always intrigued me, what with its ancient Nuragic culture, by featuring in ancient Hellene myths (Twelve Labors of Heracles), being situated between the Roman and Punic worlds, or even by how frequently it interacted (and changed hands) with so many cultures like the Byzantines, Iberians, Italians, and Arabs. Thus I shall be playing a Sardinian (Italian) character.

We shall be following the story of the Sorrenti family (which I couldn't find anything about online), which rules over Sardinia in the name of the Byzantine Emperor.
Insulae_Sardiniae_novae_accurata_descriptio_-_Janssonius_Johannes,_1642-44.jpg

Coat of Arms of Sardegna

Game Rules / Settings:
-The game is being played in normal difficulty, and all the game options are set to default
-It will be a roleplay oriented run, meaning I will try to act as my character might, which would be affected by traits, geopolitics, courtiers, and family.
-The only DLC not activated is Sunset Invasion, since while I find it fun, would break the immersion for me in this run.

With that out of the way, let's get started! :D
 
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Tally-ho and good luck with the adventure! :)
 
Chapter 1
Chapter 1 - Sardegna the Lonely

It had been many centuries since the fall of the Roman Empire, but it's effect had been long felt in the island of Sardinia. Taken back from the Vandals by the Byzantines in 533, Sardinia had experienced more than two centuries of uninterrupted rule by the Greeks in the East (aside from a short invasion by Totila, King of the Ostrogoths, in 551), but the rise of Islam posed a new danger to this far flung Byzantine province.

Starting in the year 705 many Moor and Berber peoples started raiding the coastal towns and villages of the island, hurting communication between it and Constantinople. These raids would force the population to abandon many of these population centers and instead move deeper to the interior of the island in order to avoid the raids, which further damaged the link between the Greek overlords.

This would force the local populations to become increasingly self-reliant and to abandon Greek for the lingua franca of its neighbors (Latin), and its local Sardinian language, as well as to form closer links to the Pope in Rome, for the locals actually followed the Eastern Rite around this time. Foreign trade became difficult, and many mines of old were abandoned, with the locals instead becoming farmers and shepherds. This continues to the modern day, nearly half of all sheep in Italy coming from Sardinia

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A common scene in the Sardinian countryside

Thus despite being in the center of the Mediterranean, Sardinia was in many ways isolated from everyone else, and thus had to defend for itself.

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Strategitissa Lucia and her realm

Constant warfare was the way of life in this lonely island, and Strategitissa Lucia knew it firsthand. As a child, Lucia had always been more interested in "boyish" activities such as archery and hunting than the more delicates ladies in her court. She had been raised among warriors, and warfare was second nature for her, for she would always lead the Sardinian troops against the Mohammedans. Everyone knew she was a strong ruler, but no ruler lasts forever, and nearly reaching the age of 30, and with no true heir, her council decided it was time to find a suitable husband to continue her line.

Lucia had argued that her kinsmen Martino and his children could inherit after her death, but the nobles disagreed as they argued that the way of life in the Republic of Amalfi had made them far too soft, and they would never follow their lead. She needed to birth an heir that could lead them to glory as she had done so far.

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Martino Sorrenti, Patrician in the Republic of Amalfi

Many of the nobles urged her to look North, toward Frankia and the Karlings, for they were numerous and powerful, and could prove useful allies against the Moors, maybe even deter them from further raiding the shores.

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Frankia, 769
Just as numerous and powerful as the Karlings were, they were also ambitious, thus a marriage with one of their kin might prove dangerous for the continued autonomy of Sardegna. Thus a deal was stroke with King Karloman, Lucia would marry his bastard cousin Remigius, thus forging a bond between both realms. This would keep Remigius from posing any threat to the stability of his realm, while also moving Sardegna closer to the Frankian sphere of influence.

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Remigius, bastard cousin of Karloman and Karl, rulers of Frankia

While most nobles were satisfied with this decision, Count Euphemio criticized the choice saying that Lucia should instead marry a Greek noble, for reestablishing relations with the Emperor and the Greeks was crucial for Sardinia to prosper. He argued that they were the true heirs to the empire of old, and if the Franks were to establish any sort of presence in the island, they might seek retaliation. Despite his arguments, in March of 769, Strategitissa Lucia and Remigius Karling married, and Sardinia looked forward to a new future in the West.

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Count Euphemio, powerful vassal of Strategitissa Lucia
Rapidly fulfilling the goals of the marriage, Lucia show signs of pregnancy by November of the same year. She had always been a strong women, it was known, but this was a new experience for the battle hardened ruler. Being mostly surrounded by men from birth, the intricacies of pregnancy were foreign to her. Lucia had never been a godly woman, but feeling uncertain of her future and that of her child she turned to the Holy Virgin, bowing to be Temperate, for she always had let her emotions get the better of her in the past.

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Being unable to lead troops, train, or hunt due to the pregnancy, Lucia would find herself with nothing to do throughout the day, always watching out the window the men train with their swords. She had always let her spear speak for her, but dealing with the ladies in her court all day would present new battlefields for her. Over time she would learn to sharpen her tongue as she had done with her axe, becoming friends with many of the ladies she had previously considered to be a nuisance, even coming to enjoy lengthy conversations with them.

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The months passed by rapidly, and in June of 770 Strategitissa Lucia would give birth to a strong, healthy boy named Adriano. When news of this reached the court of Emperor Basileus, he became enraged. The Empire had been ravaged by multiple civil wars waged between the Orthodox followers, and the Iconoclasts led by the Emperor, and he was an extremely zealous man. He was furious that Lucia could consort with those of the Western rite, and even worse, with the Franks, who he recognized as a threat to his influence in the Mediterranean. He sent a dispatch to Sardegna ordering Lucia to appear before him in the capital, and to surrender all her lands, for a Greek noble would take over rulership of the island.

"The Emperor is bluffing, his armies and coffers have been depleted by constant warfare" said one of her advisors, "but they've reached a truce just recently. With nothing to distract him away from us, we would be receiving the full force of the Basileus and the Greeks" said another. "Dispatch messengers to every noble house in the Empire," said Lucia, "I'm sure there are many who are uncomfortable by the uneasy truce between the Iconoclasts and the Orthodox, they might join our side and raise the flag of rebellion against the Emperor." "And what of the messengers, my lady" said one of the advisors. "Kill them all," said Lucia.

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Emperor Basileus, and his absurd proposal
War was coming to Sardinia, and the Greeks were not prepared for what was to come...

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

Thanks for reading the first chapter, I'm already working on the next couple of chapters, which will be out real soon!
 

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Chapter 2
Chapter 2 - Rebellion


When the news of yet another civil war reached the ears of the Bulgarian court, Chief Krum, son of the Bulgarian Khan could not stay iddle. He reached out to his father, and with his blessing he marched South, toward the borders of the Empire. His mounted troops inflected heavy losses on the side of the Greeks, and slowed down the offensive on Sardinian shores. This allowed most houses in the Empire to hear of the tyranny of their Emperor, and allowed for their armies to gather near the capital, ready to siege it and depose the Emperor.

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High Chief Krum, an unexpected "ally" of the rebellion
Due to most of the population leaving the coastal villages, and most trade routes to the island being closed, the armies of Sardinia could not be easily transported East, for they lacked a fleet to sail on. One of the few traders that still visited the island was given enough coins to take her and her men East to Constantinople, but he only had one ship. She could only take 10 men with her, and that she did, leaving Regimius as her regent while she was away, to care for her realm and their child.

CIVIL WAR.png

The state of the Byzantine Empire in 771
Circled in Green were the nobles who took up arms against Basileus.
Many nobles decided to join the rebellion and agreed to meet in Nikomedeia, right by the capital of the Empire. If they were swift enough they could lay down a siege before reinforcements could arrive, as most of the imperial army was dealing with the Bulgarians to the North. Ironically enough, the bulk of these rebells were Iconoclasts, who had previously supported the Emperor in his endeavors against the Orthodox. They had felt betrayed by the peace established a few months back, and wanted to get back at him, who they felt had become an Orthodox himself.

Bad news kept coming to the court of Basileus, as a charismatic peasant named Theophanes had convinced many to stage a revolt and overthrow the patricians of Amalfi. They would compromise the few remaining territories still loyal to the Emperor in mainland Italy. They burned down the Amalfian fleet while docked, which was the only thing standing between Strategitissa Lucia and the coasts of Greece.

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Theophanes, leader of the peasant revolt in Amalfi
She travelled for many days, until they eventually reached the coasts of Epirus. The merchant said that this was as far as he could get them, as going any further into the Aegean might prove far too dangerous for a mere merchant like him. Lucia reluctantly landed near the city of Ioannina, which was currently in the hands of a Serbian Pagan. Words are wind and soon enough news of her landing in Greece reached the Emperor, who quickly dispatched a group of sellswords to search for and kill her.

Things looked bleak for Lucia, for a plague had struck Ioannina recently and 3 fell to the plague. She herself fell ill for a week, which allowed the mercenaries to reach the city. Just when she thought all was lost, fighting broke out among the mercenaries. They started slaughtering each other, and Lucia managed to escape from the city unharmed.

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Mercenaries fighting each other near Ioannina

A couple of hours of frantic running away from the city had gone by, when a group of mounted cavalry galloped her way. "Stop, we're not here to harm you," said one which seemed to be their leader, "my name is Raynold, leader of the Swiss Company. The Emperor hired us to bring you to him, but it seems his coffers ran dry and he will be unable to pay us. We'll gladly join your side, for the Emperor must pay one way or another."

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Captain Raynold of the Swiss Company
Captain Raynold had been born out of a night of passion between a Bernese prostitute, and a man of the company. She would usually follow the mercenaries on their campaigns, and laid with many of the men, thus she could not know who the true father was. The then captain of the Swiss Company then merrily said that this child was the son of them all, and thus they would raise him to become a great warrior like themselves. Thus he spent all of this life surrounded by battle hardened mercenaries and many great warriors. Over the years he proved himself worthy and became captain of the Swiss Company.

As they all marched towards Nikomedeia, Lucia and Raynold grew very close, with her choosing to spend many nights in his tent. Soon enough she was showing signs of pregnancy, but she wasn't sure if it was Raynold's or her husband Regimus, as it would line up with the last time she laid with him. Her husband didn't need to know about Raynold, nor anyone in her court.

They eventually reached the Dardanelles and ferried over to Nikomedeia, where the armies of the rebellion gathered. Just a few miles South however, another Byzantine army gathered, and laid siege to a rebel castle. Most of the generals agreed that leaving the imperial army to siege Claudiopolis, and instead move to Constantinople was the right move, the only move, but some of the generals threatened to leave and take their men to defend their lands, for that was the purpose of the rebellion after all.

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The Siege of Claudiopolis, and the rebel army

It was decided that the rebellion shall remain united, and the combined armies marched to relieve the siege of Claudiopolis. Before they marched East, Raynold started to devise a plan to siege Constantinople. Everyone knew the city walls were impregnable, so he had to fully commit to find a weakness in them, because as long as capital remained in the hands of the Emperor, the war could not be won. Raynold appointed Lucia as the head of the Swiss Company while he took his engineers West to analyze Constantinople's defenses. Most were reluctant to follow a woman into battle, especially one that was pregnant, but they trusted the judgement of their leader.

A few days later the rebel armies finally arrived in Claudiopolis, and a battle ensued. It seemed as if the best Byzantine generals were North, fighting off the Bulgarians, so the army sieging Claudiopolis lacked strong leadership that could oppose that of Lucia's or the other rebel generals.

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Battle of Claudiopolis, January of 772

The rebel victory was swift for the rebel army had superior numbers and leadership. Lucia proved instrumental in the battle as she managed to break the flanks of the Imperial army, which sent them routing. There were no more doubts in the minds of the rebel nobles or the Swiss mercenaries, they knew she was a capable general and warrior.

They rebel army did not pursue the routing Byzantines, and instead went back to Nikomedia and ferried across the Bosporous, where Raynold was waiting for them, ready to take the city. A few miles to the West was the armies of the Bulgarian Chief Krum. Both parties knew that they had a common enemy and agreed to not attack each other. They would siege the surrounding areas so the Byzantines could not relieve the city and the siege could go on faster.

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The rebel and Bulgarian armies
While the rebel armies had been fighting in Claudiopolis, Raynold had managed to find a side of the wall that was poorly maintained and less manned. Despite that, assaulting the walls would still not be effective for the Byzantines had just gotten reinforcements from their vassals in the Kingdom of Georgia. He heard news of a plague in the nearby province of Kaliopolis, and came up with a devious plan. Those same walls that shielded them from the rebel spears and swords would prove to be a prison when he started catapulting deceased, plagued bodies from Kaliopolis over the capital's walls. There would be no need to assault the city, for its citizens would sooner or later try to storm out themselves, or die trying.

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And the capital falls...
The plague spread throughout the city like wildfire, many of the affluent nobles ferried out of the city by boat, but most locals could not afford such privileges. Soon riots broke out all over the city, many of the defenders had to break them up and leave their posts in the walls. The poorly defended area Raynold had found previously now laid even less defended. During the night he and 5 of his men decided to climb the walls, and infiltrate the city.

He had his men murder some of the Byzantine soldiers overnight and take their armor, they then headed to one of the populated sections near the walls, where the locals had become rowdy and asked the soldiers to open the gates so they could escape the plague. Raynald had his men slaughter some of these locals, who have had enough and raised their pitchforks in revolt. In the chaos of the riot, Raynold managed to open the gates, and the rebel armies overwhelmed the defenses quickly.

Emperor Basileus had apparently left the city over a week ago, but his seat of power, Constantinople, had finally fallen in January of 774, after almost two years of siege. During that time, Lucia gave birth to Achille, who may or may not be the child of Raynold, and just as he was taken care of by the Swiss mercenaries as a child, Achille was being taken care of by some of the Greek rebels.

Despite the capture of the city, Emperor Basileus would not settle for peace. The rebel armies would start to pillage Greece searching for him for many months, and while they would sometimes find opposition, these armies were too small to pose any threat to them.

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Some of the battles that occurred after Constantinople was captured
In September of 774 Strategitissa Lucia once more showed signs of pregnancy, but this time there was no doubt who the father was. She then realized that not once did her boy Adriano cross her mind while she was in campaign. She wondered what he and her father would think of her when they see her come home with Achille and another on the way. There was no way she could pass off Achille as Remigius' even if it was his, since this new child would prove her infidelity.

Eventually, on February of 775, Emperor Basileus surrendered.

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The terms of the treaty were simple, abdicate the throne to his son and heir Nikephoros, grant a high degree of autonomy to some of the more outer territories such as Sardinia or Sicily, pay reparations to every single one of the rebel nobles, and repay the debt of the Swiss Company. Basileus had no choice, he could lose this war, of he could lose his whole empire. The choice was obvious.

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Emperor Nikephoros, crowned in March of 775
Triumphant, the armies of the rebellion went back to their homes, joyful that they had overthrown the tyrant Basileus. Raynold asked Lucia to come with him back to Bern, where they could live with their children, but she had a duty to her land, her people. They parted ways, wishing her safe travels, with the promise that they would see each other again.

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

That's chapter two :eek:.

I did not expect to get a revoke a title from the Emperor so soon into the game to be honest, I wanted to buy some indulgences and get 100 piety quickly enough to falsely declare Orthodox religion, but Basileus beat me to the punch. Oh well at least we won, today. :p
 
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This is very well written, subbed. From what I know about the Byzantines, rebellions will likely be a major theme.
 
Intriguing start, in more than one respect. Subbed!
 
Intriguing start, in more than one respect. Subbed!
Thanks, I'm glad y'all are enjoying it thus far :).

Good start. Is Remigius matri-married to you? I'd hope so.
Of course, the Sardinian nobles would accept no less. That's why it had to be a bastard, only way a proud Karling would accept a matrilineal marriage ;).

This is very well written, subbed. From what I know about the Byzantines, rebellions will likely be a major theme.
Oh yes they will be very common, y'all shall see in the next chapter :p.
 
Chapter 3
Chapter 3 - The Calm Before the Storm

Strategitissa Lucia saw her lover Raynold get smaller and smaller as he drifted away from the coasts of Nikomedeia, on his way back to Frankia. She could not help to think of the good times they had together, and even considered if she had truly made the right choice to head back to Sardinia. This train of thought was interrupted by Strategos Andronikos, ruler of Nikomedeia, who had been the host to the rebel leaders and families throughout the war.

Andronikos and Lucia had gotten close over the span of the war, he was a brave leader, and while not as great of a general as she was, he could handle his own. On the battle of Claudiopolis, his was the troops that Lucia relieved by breaking the Byzantine flank and for that he was thankful. "My lady Lucia, I've heard you're looking for merchants to take you back to your lands. That won't be necessary, for I have some ships of my own. Let my men take you back safely across the sea." Lucia thanked him, for hiring a merchant ship would be costly, and the campaign in Greece and Asia Minor had depleted what little gold she had brought from Sardinia.

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Strategos Andronikos, one of the rebellion's leaders, and close friend of Lucia

As the day of her departure from Greek lands approached, another worry clouded Lucia's mind. Her boy Achille would not stop crying and fussing about, she thought that perhaps the boy was ill and maybe too young to safely take aboard a ship. She asked Andronikos if he could care for her child for a few months, at least until he grew stronger, something which Andronikos gladly accepted, for the boy had remained in his court taken care of by his wife Hypatia during the war, who grew very fond of the child.

Tales of Lucia's battles quickly spread across the Byzantine Empire and beyond, it was rare for a women to take up arms in these times, and even stranger to see her lead armies. Soon enough songs and poems were written about her, and by April of 775, when Lucia arrived to Sardinia's shores, her feats were widely known by everyone, who cheered as they saw her ship approach. In the following years many Sardinian girls would be named Lucia, in honor of her celebrated ruler.

Young Adriano was out in the countryside, playing with some of the peasant locals, they were flinging small wooden swords at each other, while pretending to be gallant knights. He had been loosely raised in court while his mother Lucia was away in Greece. Remigius tried his best despite being always too busy with court matters, so while Adriano was fond of his father, he would mostly walk around the surrounding churches and homes, meddling with local boys and clergy.

One of the peasant boys had perhaps hit Adriano's wooden sword too hard, and it went flying away from him. As Adriano ran to pick up his toy, he spotted a chariot heading up the road. "This may be mother," he thought, as he left his sword to his peasant friend and ran back to court.

Strategitissa Lucia finally appeared before her court, after nearly five years of absence. Most were happy to see her, as they knew of her exploits against the Greeks, but Remigius' smile disappeared as he saw the belly of his wife. They had not been married for long before she departed, so he did not feel the love a close marriage entails, but he had been fulfilling his duties as regent of Sardinia, and felt betrayed and dishonored by her infidelity.

Remigius had grown close to the Sardinian locals and nobles, and decided to stay in the island, as he knew he would not be welcomed in Frankia. He also had his son Adriano to care for, who Lucia had apparently forgot about since she did not ask to see him at once, like he thought he would, for she had not seen him for nearly five years.

Instead, feeling empowered by her exploits in Greece, Strategitissa Lucia gathered her council and proposed a new law that would allow her to revoke titles from local nobles, just as Emperor Basileus had once tried with her. Count Euphemio was a powerful vassal, controlling three fifths, of the island, and she desired to control all of it. Euphemio and his predecessors had always been rebellious of the Sorrenti's rule over the island, and every time the Sorrenti went to war, the Oristani (house of Euphemio) would rise up in rebellion. It had surprised Lucia that while she was away in Greece, Euphemio hadn't tried anything.

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While Strategitissa Lucia was the ruler of Sardinia, her vassal Euphemio actually controlled most of the island
(Circled in green)
What Lucia did not know at the time was that Count Euphemio had passed away while attending "chamber business" while she was away in Greece. His children had divided his territories after his death. His son Alessio ruled over the counties of Arborea and Torres, while Euphemio II ruled over the county of Gallura.

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Count Alessio, son of the late Count Euphemio
Euphemio's sons were merely six and three years old respectively, and thus would prove no threat while Lucia and her council devised her plans. All she had to do was convince the nobles of the realm to support her endeavor, which due to her recently acquire fame would not be a difficult task. As long as the remaining vassals understood that only the Oristani would be affected by this new law, and that their seats of power would remain safe, they were sure to support her.

As Lucia was in her final months of pregnancy however, the donwfall of the Oristani would have to be postponed, and in May of 775, Cecillia Sorrenti, daughter of the mercenary Raynold, was born. Soon the plans to overthrow the Orestani once and for all, were resumed.
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While this was going on in the far-flung territories of the Empire, Emperor Nikephoros felt the aftermath of his father Basileus' ambitions. The Bulgarian nomads led by Chief Krum had managed to overthrow Byzantine rule in many parts of Northern Greece, while the pagan Serbs and Croats expanded their realms, with every holding in the Dalmatian coast, as well as much of Southern and Central Greece falling to their savage armies.

The peasant rebellion that had caused much destruction in Amalfi, had spread to the rest of the South Italian holdings. Once the Berbers in Africa learned of the destruction of the Amalfian fleet, they grew bold and started raiding and invading Sicily, for no fleet stood in their way of glory now. They would make a note to avoid Sardinia however, as tales of her victories against the Empire had even reached the Moorish courts in Africa.

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The State of the Byzantine Empire in June of 775.
Circled in Orange are lands subjected to constant raids by the Moors.
Despite all its failings and defeats, Emperor Nikephoros remaind steadfast against its adversaries, believing that one day he might correct the mistakes his father left for him. He paid off the pagans so they would stop assaulting the Greek provinces, and the Bulgarians had been experiencing some internal revolts, as the Khan felt threatened by his son, who had conquered much Greece for himself. With those two problems more or less pacified for the moment, he sent his fleets to destroy the pirates raiding Italy. By October of 775 the Berber fleets were either destroyed or bought off. It was time to solve the internal instability now.

"The Empire would not be in this state had it not been for the whore of Sardinia and the bastards who supported her," said Nikephoros to his council. "My spies tell me of chaos in Sardinia it seems as if her most powerful vassals plan to revolt against her rule, and her husband and many of his supporters are not happy with her rule. It might be wise to strike now, and rid of us this pest once and for all."
Nikephodafuq.png

"Send the envoys at once!" Said Nikephoros, preparing himself for war.

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

If I didn't expect Basileus to try to revoke my title 2 months into the game, I certainly didn't expect Nikephoros to try doing the same so soon after his father had been defeated. Byzantine politics are crazy yo! o_O

Chapter 4 will be out real soon, stay tuned to see what happens next, and to find out what the heck Nikephoros spies are talking about... ;)




 
I wonder who's the real father: the Swiss mercenary captain, or the Karling bastard serving as an official sperm donor? (Of course, it's Remigius, unless Lucia has been using the seduction focus this whole time...)

And that's an alarmingly fast revocation rate, even from the Basileus. Might it be time to call in those Karling allies?
 
This looks interesting. Consider me following.

A bold choice of character; I tried an ironman as Sardinia in that startdate once due to choosing a random character. When the Basilieus came a' revoking (after 15 years) I was unable to contest it though, and so abandoned the run. I expect you will have to continuously face that nonsense so long as you remain western rite Italiano in an eastern rite Greek realm.
 
Chapter 4
Chapter 4 - The Black Sheep

It had only been eight months since Strategitissa Lucia had come back to Sardinia from her campaign in Greece, but those months had felt like years for her. She missed the thrill of battle, leading armies with dexterity against better trained and equipped enemies, and the sense of kinship soldiers develop with one another as they camp for weeks together. When she thought back to the war against Emperor Basileus is when she was happiest, for these were the years she spent with her dear Raynold, who was probably back in his home in Bern by now.

The demise of Count Euphemio laid the groundwork for total control of the island, as his realm had been split, and the children could pose no resistance. In a twisted way, she had wished he was alive to raise his men against her, for she yearned for the battle.

As if God himself had heard her pleas, Byzantine envoys arrived in Cagliari, demanding once more for Lucia to appear before the Emperor and relinquish all land and titles. Most of her court was afraid, for Emperor Nikephoros was much younger, shrewd, and capable than his father Basileus. This did not phase Lucia however, eyes now sparkling with determination. This was what she needed to feel alive once more, she only wished Raynold was there with her.

Many of the nobles who had previously revolted against Basileus, as well as some other who preferred the previous Emperor, were quite unhappy with Nikephoros, as it had not even been a year since his father had been deposed. They considered him a truce breaker and once more raised the flag of rebellion.

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Rebellion 2.0 in green, November 775

If the first rebellion proved anything, it was how crucial a navy was when fighting overseas, thus after coming back from Greece Strategitissa Lucia ordered the construction of a navy capable of ferrying her men across the Mediterranean and back. Stone walls around Sardinian cities would not be necessary if there was a strong enough wooden wall to guard its shores.

Emperor Nikephoros did not give the boat builders enough time to finish the fleet however, and once more the dilemma of how to join the rebellion appeared in the court of Lucia. Letters were sent to Nikomedia, hoping Andronikos might be able to send some ships to carry her men, but none returned.

The men of Sardinia were itching to fight alongside their famed "Warrior-Queen," as many poems and songs called her (despite the fact that she was not a queen), and the prospect of her travelling on her own once more was something they could not accept. Thankfully for them, a man named Oreste appeared before Lucia. "I am Oreste, captain of a newly formed mercenary company. I offer your our services as we are Sardinian, just like you my lady."

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Captain Oreste

This mercenary leader did not inspire Lucia any confidence, at least not the way Raynold had previously done. He however offered Lucia many ships, which could help her and her troops sail to Greece. When she asked how much their services cost, he said that such things could be discussed once the war was won, for their priority now was the continued well-being of Sardinia. Lucia agreed, although she grew distrustful, for mercenaries always put gold above all, even family.

As the armies of Lucia prepared to sail with the mercenaries, she saw no sign of the men of the late Count Euphemio. The regents for his sons had promised to send men, but they had not arrived yet. Oreste implored her to sail without them, as whatever few men could muster was not important enough to postpone the journey. While the words spoken by Oreste were true, she noticed how anxious he had seemed during their exchange. She declared that they would wait for two more days, and then depart, that would give them ample time to arrive, and if they didn't, they would march North and demand their armies to come, whether they wanted or not.

As the sun hid over the hills of the first of two days, Lucia had seen strange, cloaked men come in and out of Oreste's tent multiple times, and Oreste seemed shaken by whatever those men would tell him. Lucia wanted to find out who those men were, but Oreste seemed to have been avoiding her. Suspecting something was up, Lucia woke up a few of his most trusted men, and left camp toward the lands of Euphemio's sons, where she suspected these cloaked men where coming from.

Just as they were exiting the camp, a great fire erupted from where her men were encamped. Multiple screams and the sounds of shields clashing were heard. Not knowing what was happening, Lucia and her men rode back to camp, only to see Oreste's men slaughtering hers. She and her men hurriedly galloped back to her castle before anyone could see them.
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"Preparations are ready, yes?" said Mayor Barnaba, regent and spymaster for Alessio, the son of the late Count Euphemio. "Yes, the Greeks have sent us large amounts of armor and weapons, as well as some great warhorses my lord. There is also a small sum of gold, which I'd like to talk about... My men sure love their new toys, but what we're all after is coin-" said Oreste of the newly founded Sardinian Company, before being interrupted by Mayor Barnaba. "Yes, yes, you may keep it all and give it to your men, after we're done with lady Lucia, we shall fill our treasuries with the coffers of Cagliari."

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Mayor Barnaba, regent for the Orestani brothers.

Mayor Barnaba had been a close friend of the late Euphemio, and when he was on his deathbed he asked him to care for his sons, and to rid Sardinia once and for all of the Sorrenti. Despite his lowborn status, Mayor Barnaba had close friends in many courts of the East, including that of the newly crowned Emperor Nikephoros. Knowing full well of the wrath he had against Strategitissa Lucia, Barnaba proposed to Nikephoros a devious plan to kill her, and her men.

They would have the armies of the Orestani brothers equipped with Byzantine steel, pose as a new mercenary company, offer their services to Lucia, lure her into their ships, and while they were at sea, they would slaughter them all. Nowhere to run, nowhere to go. This plan nearly succeeded, but Oreste's behavior gave away that something was up and Lucia managed to escape.

Regardless of that, nearly all her men were dead, and the Sardinian Company stood at the gates of Cagliari.

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The Siege of Cagliari

With her army now laying dead, there was not much Lucia could do, and yet she still wished to go back to her castle in Cagliari, for her daughter Cecillia was there. She did not care at all for her husband, and her son Adriano was a reminder of Remigius, and of her infidelity, the only worry on her mind was Cecillia.

Her men advised her against going back to Cagliari, and to instead head North toward the city of Tortoli in Ogliastra, where they could find a transport to take her into the lands of the Emperor. She alone could not relieve the siege of her lands, but her leadership could prove useful to the rebellion in Greece and Asia Minor. They also reminded her of her son Achille, who was under the care and protection of Andronikos, and who also needed her. She reluctantly agreed.

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Lucia and her men arrived near the city of Marioneia in Thrace, where a small contingent of rebel troops had assembled to mount a siege. When the generals recognized who she was, they put her in command, and travelled East, where a much larger siege of Constantinople was taking place.

It had seemed that while the young Nikephoros was a capable warrior, he was no Alexander Magnus. Most of the great Byzantine generals had fallen during the first rebellion, and what men Nikephoros had left were no match for the battle-hardened noble rebels. While Oreste and Barnaba plotted the downfall of Cagliari, Andronikos and the other rebels had defeated nearly all Byzantine armies. The city was wide open for a siege.

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The Siege of Marioneia

Once the city of Marioneia fell in October of 776, its docks opened once more and a message arrived from Sardinia. It seemed that while Cagliari itself had not yet fallen thanks to the leadership of Remigius, this was not to last. With so many dead and injured inside, and everyone cramped inside the walls, camp fever started easily spreading, catching Lucia's husband as one of its many victims. Her baby girl Cecillia had also contracted dysentery and they did not know if she could recover from it at such a young age. Things seemed bleak for defenders.

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If the Sardinian Company doesn't kill them, illness just might.

Lucia fell remorse for leaving her people behind, especially for the baby Cecillia, whom she hardly spent any time with. Regardless, it was now time to join with the attackers in the capital. If Constantinople fell, Barnaba and Oreste would have no choice but to surrender, and then, she'd make them pay.

On her way to Constantinople, Lucia and her army stopped outside of the city of Madyta, in Kaliopolis to re-organize her troops and re-supply. This was cut short as they spotted a contingent of Imperial forces exiting the city. These men were no strangers to Lucia, it was Nazareno and his men of the Sardinian Band, a much older and established company than Oreste and his men. It seemed as if they had been hired by Nikephoros as well, much to the dismay of Lucia.

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Captain Nazareno of the Sardinian Band
A small skirmish ensued, and while Lucia and her troops had nearly twice as many soldiers, they were all weary from Marioneia and the march to Kaliopolis, thus Nazareno and his men fled South across the Dardanelles, to Abydos. Abydos was formally allied with the rebels, but in reality they had remained neutral during the war, thus allowing Nazareno and his men to camp and fortify their position. After a few days of rest, Lucia and her army ferried across the Dardanelles, where they would face the now secure and ready Sardinian Band.

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Lucia's trek across the Dardanelles, December of 776
Nazareno had placed many caltrops and spikes on the beaches of Alexandria Troas, the site of his camp, he had also ordered many of his archers to station themselves on top of some bushes by the camp, where they could ambush and shoot at Lucia's men from the back. Nazareno was not a great warrior, but he was a clever strategist.

Knowing full well of Nazareno's reputation as a great general, Lucia gathered her generals and asked any and all of the soldiers to step up if they had any ideas on how to overcome the situation. One man named Simonetto suggested to fill some sacks with hay and grass and put armor over them, tying them to horses and having them ride unto battle. They all knew cavalry would be ineffective in this battle, and they were sure to step over many caltrops as well as to distract many archers by drawing fire to them.

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Simonetto, being promised a spot in Lucia's court once the war was over

It was a very unorthodox strategy, but the betrayal of Sardinia by Nazareno and his men had made the conflict personal. Lucia agreed, and just as Simonetto predicted, the fake riders were drawing arrows from Nazareno's archers, the same ones he had hidden on top of the trees, they also cleared a path for her army to run through, free of caltrops. This strategy compromised the tree archers of Nazareno, for now Lucia and her men knew of their hiding spot and quickly let a barrage of arrows at them.

The battle seemed to be going well, their fortified position certainly prevented the numerically superior army from overrunning them, but many of its traps were rendered useless by Simonetto's strategy. As the battle progressed however, Strategitissa Lucia soon realized most of the men around her were falling to the enemy. Nazareno realized Lucia was attacking from the flank, and set his best men to counteract her offensive, soon enough the experienced mercenaries started breaking the lines of Lucia's regiment.

It seemed like they had spotted her, and Nazareno himself seemed to be heading her way.

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There were at the very least ten men surrounding her, and despite the great confidence in her skills she knew she could not take them all on. "Nazareno," she said, "Do you really need all these men to take me on? Let's do it, you and me, one on one. Show your troops what kind of general you are." She hoped this would bait him unto a duel she could surely win. Nazareno knew what she was doing, for he had heard tales of her great skill in battle. Regardless, his men only followed the strong, and if he ran away from a duel with a woman, no man would respect him again.

"You've betrayed your people, your land. You've betrayed yourself, for you are a piece of Sardinia yourself." Said Lucia. "Enough talking, come at me," responded Nazareno. Nazareno towered over her, he was a great, bulky man, some said he had enough strength to choke a horse. Lucia could see that, and instead of trying to fight him straight on, she swiftly avoided his attacks. Soon enough Nazareno was panting, as moving his greatsword around was no easy task, this went on for a bit more, until she saw the right moment and stroke at his leg. Nazareno fell to his knees, then he kneeled over, face down on the ground. "Do it," he said, as Lucia then stabbed him in the back, killing the man.

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By the time the duel was over, some of Lucia's men had realized what had happened and came to her aid, soon the ten or so men around her were killed, and with the death of their leader, the mercenary company dispersed into the Anatolian hills.

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The aftermath of the duel
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After the battle was over, Lucia and her men regrouped and set up camp where Nazareno and his men had camped the prior night. She started to reminisce about the last time she had crossed the Dardanelles, she remembered Raynold, and hoped to reach Nikomedeia soon, to see her child Achille.

Some of the men were celebrating, and asked Lucia to join in, for she seemed somber and upset despite the great victory. She was also one of the few men in camp, and thus greatly drew the attention of every man. She decided it was perhaps time to move on, and joined the fun.

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Lucia, realizing she still had it
The army readied to march toward Nikomedeia, where she could finally see her son, but instead an envoy reached, bringing news of scouts seeing Emperor Nikephoros in the city of Bithynium, and so the army marched East toward Bithynium. On the way they encountered another rebel army, which was on its way to Trebizond, when Lucia told them of Nikephoros, they joined and marched on.
The combined armies finally reached Bithynium in February of 777, and encountered a small army led by the Emperor himself, the battle was over quickly, but when the dust settled the Emperor was nowhere to be found.

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The rebel armies dispersed over the Anatolian hills and countryside, scouring for any trace of the Emperor for over a year, and eventually in June of 778 they found Nikephoros, once more by Bithynium. Except this time he would not be able to run, and all his forces would be slaughtered.

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Emperor Nikephoros' capture

Now in chains, Emperor Nikephoros was forced to submit to a similar treaty as his father's had three years ago. The imperial crown, as well as all his lands would be forfeited to his brother, Christophoros, he would be exiled to Hispania, and every noble house in the rebellion would be monetarily compensated with gold, as well as exemption from taxes for a year.

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The newly crowned Christophoros, July 778
Peace had come to the Empire once more, but Lucia did not yet know of the state of her beloved island of Sardinia.
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And that's all folks!
(for this chapter at least :p)

The Isauros have really been giving me a hard time this campaign, but the second rebellion was much easier due to how battered up the empire was. Nikephoros hiring the Sardinians really shocked me, but it fits quite well!

Thanks for reading!
 
I wonder who's the real father: the Swiss mercenary captain, or the Karling bastard serving as an official sperm donor? (Of course, it's Remigius, unless Lucia has been using the seduction focus this whole time...)

And that's an alarmingly fast revocation rate, even from the Basileus. Might it be time to call in those Karling allies?
She's had a hunter focus throughout the whole campaign, for she's always been interested in such things since a child. It probably is Remigius', but such things serve the RP style of this AAR quite well :p.

Also, I never actually formalized an alliance with the Karlings o_O, which turned out to be a good choice because they would've roflstomped the Empire.

This looks interesting. Consider me following.

A bold choice of character; I tried an ironman as Sardinia in that startdate once due to choosing a random character. When the Basilieus came a' revoking (after 15 years) I was unable to contest it though, and so abandoned the run. I expect you will have to continuously face that nonsense so long as you remain western rite Italiano in an eastern rite Greek realm.

Thanks! Yes it's definitely an interesting start, I got lucky on the traits and characteristics to be honest, having a Brilliant Strategist is such a blessing of RNG. I think the reason I could survive was because it was so early on the campaign, had Basileus waited 15 years he could've probably consolidated his realm and gotten his vassals to like him and stick with him, but by doing it so early he set up his own downfall ;).
 
Chapter 5
Chapter 5 - Loose Wool

When news of Nikephoros' capture by Lucia reached the court of the Orestani brothers, Mayor Barnaba turned pale as a ghost. He knew she would seek revenge on him and his men for their betrayal, and thus leaving most of his possessions behind, he took a ship North, into Frankia, never to be seen again.

The Orestani brothers were still far too young to rule themselves, thus Barnaba's sudden disappearance left a power vacuum, for every noble wanted to be regent of the young rulers of Sardinia. For the siege of Cagliari had been successful, and Mayor Barnaba had assumed control of the entirety of the island.

Soon after, Oreste's men staged a mutiny, where he and his most trusted advisors were murdered. They had been promised great wealth, but with the Emperor deposed, Barnaba gone, and Lucia's arrival incoming, they knew there was nothing to gain by remaining in Cagliari. They all returned to their homes in Northern Sardinia, leaving the Castle unoccupied, of its invaders.

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Castelo di San Michele, Cagliari

Thus, when Lucia finally arrived to Sardinia, she found no opposition. Some of the Greek soldiers were so inspired by her leadership during the rebellion, that they followed her to Sardinia, where they were promised lands, the lands she was about to take from the Orestani. She marched North toward Logudoro, where all the squabbling nobles submitted to her rule. Lucia had the two child rulers sent to Rome, where she hoped they would be raised as monks, which would deter them from ever trying to lay a claim to their former lands.

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Strategitissa Lucia assuming full control over Sardinia
She then travelled back South, to Cagliari, where she was looking forward to seeing her daughter, who she had not seen for years. Unfortunately this was not to be, for apparently Cecilia and Regimus had succumbed to disease almost two years ago. It also seemed as if her firstborn Adriano had vanished from the castle before Oreste's men breached the walls, and had not been seen since.

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Lucia had grown cold over the years, constant warfare does things to anyone's psyche, but hearing of the deaths of Cecilia and Remigius broke her. She went down on her knees and cried. Cecilia was the last part of Raynold that was still hers, and with her death that link between them was finally severed in her mind. Remigius reminded her of what could've been had she not married him, and instead had met Raynold earlier.

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Lucia's downward spiral into depression
Lucia would go nights without sleep, for if she closed her eyes she could still see all the men she had sent into battle during her campaigns in Greece and Anatolia. She constantly heard the screams of these men, and only booze could stop them. She would seclude herself in her private chambers, where she would spend most of the day drinking her sorrows away.
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Emperor Christophoros was overlwhemed by the many duties of an Emperor, he had neither the wit of his brother Nikephoros, nor the many years of experience as a ruler like his father Basileus had, and yet he had an Empire to rule.

The Bulgarians moved unto Constantinople once more, peasant revolts were an everyday sight throughout the Empire. The Imperial armies were stretched too thin, and far too few to defend against any threats, external or internal.

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Bulgarians, peasants, and Moors, just some of the problems plaguing the Empire
The Moors in North Africa would usually be satisfied with raiding the coastal towns of the Empire, but seeing the frail Empire succumbing all around him, Sultan Umar of Africa started the conquest of Sicily on the year 781.

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The Great Sultan Umar Muhallabid

Feeling overwhelmed by all his adversaries and the political intrigue of the Byzantine court, he decided to take a page out of his father's and brother's books, and sent envoys to Sardinia.

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Strategitissa Lucia arrived in Nikomedeia on 782, finally reuniting with her son Achille, whom she had not seen since the time of her departure during the first rebellion in 775. Achille now spoke the tongue of the Greeks, and had been raised as an Eastern Orthodox. Despite her best attempts at getting him to change his ways, the boy would not listen, for he had no reason to seeing as his mother had abandoned him for almost eight years.

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Achille's refusal to acknowledge Lucia's beliefs
Realizing her son would never accept her as his mother, she travelled to Constantinople, where she was made a part of the Imperial Council. Emperor Christophoros had hoped she could assist him in the matters of war and armies, but Lucia was not prepared for the intricacies of the Byzantine court. She insisted to be put at the head of the Imperial armies, but he refused, as he had already paid off too many people to even get her in his council. The Byzantine soldiers would never accept Lucia "the Cruel" to lead them into battle, for she had slaughtered many of their own in the past.

By December of 783 the conquest of Sicily was finalized, Sultan Umar was victorious against the incompetent Byzantine armies, and Sardinia now remained even more isolated from the capital than ever. Seeing the impending conquest by the Moors, a peasant rebellion was launched in Malta, where Gennadios, a former peasant, now ruled as Count.

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Count Gennadios of Malta / Moorish Sicily

Despite enjoying the privileges that being in the Imperial Council brought, Lucia had never felt so powerless in her life. With everyone seeing her as a stranger in court, and doubting her true intentions, she was never put in a position where she could help her Emperor. After seeing Sicily fall to the Moors, she resigned from the council, never having accomplished anything, and departed for Sardinia, fearing that it might be the next destination for the Moorish armies.

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Perhaps conquering Sicily was too daunting of a task for Sultan Umar, or maybe he was just a patient man, but by the year 786 there had still been no attack in Sardinian shores. Perhaps Lucia's fame still protected Sardinia from foreign incursions.

There were rumors going around about a great blacksmith who used to work for the Franks in the North, the same one that forged their crowns and made their swords, coming to Sardinia. These of course were myths, perhaps spread by the same blacksmith to make her seem larger than life. Lucia knew of these tactics firsthand, for she herself had heard many stories about her exploits, which were exaggerated to epic proportions, were even Heracles* would be jealous.

She sent some of her men to find more information about the blacksmith, and not a day went by before they returned, apparently he had already arrived and was on his way to Cagliari, and not only that, but the blacksmith was actually a woman named Eugenia!

For a woman have such fame during those times she had to be exemplary, and thus she was cordially invited to Cagliari, where Lucia intended to hire her services.

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The famed blacksmith Eugenia
After month went by, and Eugenia had not reported back to court to explain her progress, and Lucia doubted if she was even still in the island. Maybe she had taken the gold and left, and so she went into the city looking for her.

As she strolled through the Blacksmiths market, Lucia saw a very small, run-down workshop. Despite its humble nature and small size, it intrigued Lucia, who stepped inside, only to discover Eugenia, as well as two other men. One of them could pass as her grandfather, old and wrinkled, he could barely hold a hammer up, but he seemed humble and content. The other was perhaps her younger brother, a bulky, well shaved and shrewd looking man.

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Eugenia's Workshop
Eugenia was surprised to have such a visit, for despite her failings as a ruler and person in the recent years, everyone still loved Lucia for maintaining Sardinian autonomy during the two rebellions. The family welcomed Lucia into their humble abode. "Adriano, get lady Lucia a glass of our finest wine," said Eugenia, hurriedly grabbing the only chair in the shop, and placing it near Lucia. "Adriano... My firstborn had that name, you know, he must be around your age by now. I wonder if... No, he hasn't been seen in years," said Lucia, thinking out loud.

"You're not wrong, mother. I am your son." Said the young man, revealing to Lucia his true identity. "Is this where you've been hiding all these years? At least they've fed you well," uttered Lucia. "I have not been hiding, mother. You abandoned me many years ago, not once did you send search parties to look for me, don't pretend you care. fame and prestige is all you've cared about." Said Adriano, enraged at his mother.

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Adriano, now a grown man

"You don't know me, you don't know anything boy," responded Lucia, now also quite angry. "Perhaps I don't know you, mother, but I know this. You devastated my father when you came home from Greece pregnant with another's man seed, despite that he fought for you during your wars, and died protecting your people, his people, and your bastard daughter from Oreste and his men." "All you have ever cared about is yourself, have a good day mother." Said Adriano as he stormed out of the workshop.

Lucia, left speechless by the exchange with her son, simply told Eugenia to take her time finishing her assignment, and quickly left with tears dripping down her cheeks. Perhaps what Adriano had told her was true, and she truly was a selfish person. Regardless, there was nothing she could do now. Cecilia died before she could even say a word, Regimius was murdered protecting her and Lucia's lands. Achille now professed his faith to a false God, and his firstborn Adriano despised her. She laughed, thinking that maybe her council was wrong, and Sardinia did not need a hard ruler like herself, but a soft one like her kinsman Martino, who she had once suggested as her heir, before she married Regimius.

A month went by, and Eugenia once more came to Lucia's court, bringing what she had promised, and more. It seemed as if she feared reprisals against herself, or the humble blacksmith for letting Adriano stay in their shop all those years. Lucia of course had no such reprisals planned, and increased the agreed payment accordingly, for she had only ordered the crown, but Eugenia had brought much more.

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Lucia's new possessions

"You only asked for a crown, my lady, but I made a scepter fit for a ruler like yourself. Consider it a gift from my father and I." "And what of the sword?" Asked Lucia, "that was the first sword your son ever crafted, he wanted you to have it, he told me to bring it over before he left."

"Left? Where did my son leave to?" "We don't know," responded Eugenia.

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This chapter was a little... strange? It was too calm to be honest, no crazy revocations by the Emperor! No wonder Lucia was going crazy for a bit :D. We'll see what awaits our characters in the next episode of Dragon Ba- I mean the next chapter of this AAR.

Thanks for reading!
 

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Calm...well, apart from Lucia uniting Sardinia and then going all batshit, her son appearing out of nothing and submerging again, the Empire crumbling and the Moors approaching, one could probably say that. :D
 
Chapter 6
Chapter 6 - The Rams' Homecoming

It had been nearly ten years since Strategitissa Lucia had come back victorious from the rebellion against Emperor Nikephoros, and in that time Sardinia had enjoyed peace and prosperity unlike ever before. Taxes were reduced, and summer fairs became a common tradition. New roads and guarded outposts along these roads were built, and the nobility had been all pacified, for they enjoyed multiple feasts yearly hosted by Lucia herself.

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One of the many great suggestions of her council

All these expenses could be afforded as the Emperor could barely afford to send tax collectors to the island anymore. The waters of the Mediterranean had become far too treacherous for such voyages, as they were filled with pirates and marauders. The fall of Sicily and Malta had greatly benefited the peoples of Sardinia.

Despite the happiness and prosperity of her people, Lucia remained a sullen woman, preferring the solitude of her horse and bow as she passionately took on the hobby of hunting. Even going so far as to look and hunt for the mythical White Stag, who became her only ambition in life.

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Lucia's great ambition

Every few months she would hear chatter from the peasants about a new sighting of the fabled beast, and once more she would ride around the countryside looking for it. While the people of Sardinia clamored their ruler as a great one for the prosperity they were enjoying, it truly was her small council who take care of things around court, for she would always be out hunting.

Hunting for the White Stag had become like a drug for her, with every report of it bringing her much hope and delight, as well as filling her full of ambition, but as every hunt failed, such feelings vanished and she became depressed and gloomy. It had become a toxic cycle, but her advisers let her take on such endeavors as long they would not disrupt the everyday rule of the island.

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Lucia, further sinking into the void
As with all things, peace in Sardinia would eventually come to an end, as an ambitious Lombard noble raised his banners to overthrow the Kingdom of Lombardy and take the crown for himself. Peter Adalbertingi had been waging war on mainland Lombardy from his island of Corsica, and would occasionally raid the northern shores of Sardinia to fund his expeditions in the mainland. Lucia had offered a meeting with Peter, offering him a sum of money to stop his raids, but he sent the envoys with promises of taking Sardinia once he had conquered Lombardy.

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Peter "The Great" as he was mockingly called for his chubby figure

When the envoys came back with the grave news, Lucia had been hunting once more for the elusive stag, and instead of waiting for her return the council declared war on Peter of Corsica, thinking that it was better to have him wage war on two fronts than to face his full wrath after he conquered Lombardy. They sent men to search for Lucia, but they could not find her. Some men thought that perhaps she had been hiding, for the wars in Greece had damaged her too much to lead armies anymore.

The armies of Sardinia had gathered in the northern province of Gallura awaiting for her, but a week passed and if they waited any longer the supplies they gathered for the Corsican campaign would run out before they even sailed. Some men argued to cancel the campaign, for they weren't sure victory was even possible. If Peter could assault and conquer the whole of Lombardy, Sardinia would be a piece of cake. Others were certain that victory was achievable, but they needed a great soldier to stand up and lead them.

Just as they all had begun to lose hope, they saw a small regiment of cavalry over the horizon, heading their way. As the soldiers readied for battle, thinking that this was perhaps Peter's men trying to stop the campaign before it could even start, the helm of their leader opened. It was Adriano, and with him was a group of foreign soldiers, as well as a beautiful woman and her child.

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Adriano's fair wife and daughter

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After his departure from Sardinia almost six years ago, Adriano went North, toward Frankia, where he fought as a mercenary for two years and honing his skills as a great warrior. Eventually his battles took him to the shores of England, where he was hired by the earl of Sommerset. It was here that he truly found his knack for battle, where he distinguished himself defending the realm of his contractor against raids by the Cornish, Mercians, and even the fearsome Northman pagans. During his stay he got to meet the beautiful Æthelhild, sister of the Earl of Sommerset, and over the three years he spent in Sommerset they fell in love. Her hand had been promised to the king of Wessex himself, but against the wishes of her father, Adriano and Æthelhild eloped and escaped the island, accompanied by some of their most loyal men.

They had wandered in Frankia for nearly a year, but this way of life did not suit her, for she was the daughter of a noble in the most powerful kingdom in England. She asked Adriano to return to Sardinia, were he could surely get a holding, and once more enjoy the luxuries of nobility. Reluctantly he agreed, for his love for her was far greater than the disdain he held for his mother, arriving just in time for the news of the leaderless Sardinian army to reach him.

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The Sardinian army, ready to strike

Some of the men that had fought during the siege of Cagliari by Oreste's forces years ago quickly recognized Adriano, and soon enough they had all agreed to have him lead the armies, for he was the son of Lucia. He quickly ferried the men over to Corsica, where Peter had only left a small token force to defend the island. The Lombards did not possessed a fleet large enough to assault his lands in Corsica, so Peter had felt safe leaving only a small number of soldiers to protect his home. The smaller forces were quickly overrun, and soon enough the island had been taken without much opposition.

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The first battle of many in Adriano's career as a general

As the defenders dispersed into the countryside, envoys were sent to the Lombardian court, telling of the victory over the Corsicans, and how they had cut the supply lines to Peter's army in Italy, leaving him to scour the countryside to keep his army well fed. Soon enough Peter's army was caught off guard as they were looking for resources, and most of his army was slaughtered. He tried to flee back to the island, hoping he could rally the men to throw the Sardinians out into the sea, but he was captured as soon as he landed.

Adriano struck a deal with the Lombards, offering Peter for execution, in exchange of keeping half of his gains in Corsica. This would also signal the beginning of an alliance with the Lombards, for he knew they had been suffering from plagues and infighting for many years now, and wanted their neighbors to remain friendly instead of exploiting their weakness. The Lombards had no choice but to accept, for they sought justice on Peter and his men.

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The conquest of Cinarca, 794

Despite the war lasting a long two years, Lucia had still not re-appeared from her grand hunt, and many speculated that she might have died, for she was no longer the young lady who led armies in Constantinople many years ago.

Thus the council decided to keep ruling in her absence, and rewarded Adriano the recent conquests, for his leadership and quick thinking had proven crucial in defeating Peter. While the local nobles objected to the change in ruler, they quickly realized Adriano was a far more competent overlord than Peter, and Æthelhild had quickly gained the friendship of many of the lords' wives. She could once more enjoy the luxuries of ruling, and rule she did, for she was made regent of Cinarca while Adriano joined the council in Cagliari.

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Adriano's new fancy title

With Cinarca being incorporated into the greater Sardinian realm, many peasants and soldiers from northern Corsica started moving South to the safer lands in Cinarca and Sardinia, and while this proved difficult at first, Æthelhilds great ability to manage the estate was quickly shown as she built new roads and outposts as it had been done in Sardinia years back. Once more it seemed like Sardinia was on the path to peace and prosperity.

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Æthelhild's new project

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In the East, a funeral was being held for Strategos Andronikos, one of the leaders of the rebellions against the tyrants Basileus and his son Nikephoros, and great friend of Lucia.. He had died a natural death after many years of serving the realm, and Achille wept tears as he saw his adoptive father's coffin, his real father's, be buried.

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The late Andronikos, 795

With his passing, Achille's future in the East was uncertain. Andronikos wife and adoptive mother of Achille had died three years prior, and now that Andronikos laid for the long sleep he had no real ties to the land. He had been raised to speak the tongue of the Greeks, and followed the Eastern Rite of Christianity, but despite that he still felt like a stranger in a foreign land. Andronikos' many sons saw Achille as a threat, for it seemed he had been named his heir before dying, of course, the Greeks would never accept him as his ruler, and his sons would surely plot his death soon after, thus he sailed toward Frankia the day after the funeral, hoping to find a new life in foreign shores.

The ship was owned by a Frankish merchant, and one of the many Karling bastards laying all over Europe. He had previously owned a large merchant fleet and some holding in Genoa, but a few years back the kings of Frankia sought to eliminate any pretenders to their thrones, and thus had hired some bandits to set his fleet aflame. His titles, were soon after revoked, and all he had left was his daughter and sole boat.

He did not want his daughter to suffer poverty, and thus offered her hand in marriage to Achille after he heard he was the son of Lucia, hoping his daughter could enjoy a good life as the wife of a landed noble.

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Hiltrude, Achille's new wife

Upon hearing the news of Adriano's arrival in Sardinia, and subsequent victory over the Corsicans, Achille thought it would be a good idea to visit the island, for he had never actually been in Sardinia, nor met his brother. He wondered if they would even recognize him, and feared that Adriano might want to kill him, for he'd be a pretender in the case of their mother's death. Regardless, he sailed for Cagliari, he sailed home, where he was received with a warm welcome by Adriano, for he knew what it was like to be raised by strangers, stranded from your mother.

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Peace with the Lombards would not last, for they would experience yet another civil war, breaking the treaty and alliance they had established with Adriano. Many of the Lombard nobles raised their banners in allegiance of the child king Adelchis, hoping to overthrow his cousin's rule and place the crown on him. The same cousin and king Adriano had forged the alliance with.

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Adelchis "the Usurper"

There were many reasons why the nobles sought to overthrow the king, but chief among them had been the weakness he had demonstrated when dealing with Peter and the subsequent Sardinians. They could not allow such a weak people to just walk all over the king and take half of Corsica like that. They sought to undo the alliance and treaty that he had made, and then conquer Sardinia once and for all, as Peter had wished to do.

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Once more, soldiers all over Sardinia were called to arms to defend their homeland, but this time, their Strategitissa Lucia was there to lead them to glorious battle. After many years of searching the mythical White Stag, Lucia had finally came back to Cagliari, defeated and old. Many knew deep down that she was still alive, and thus Adriano was never crowned, despite that fact that he was ruler in all but name. So when they saw her back in court they could not help but feel happy, as they still loved their "warrior-queen."

She claimed that she came back to lead the armies against the Lombards, much to the objection of every person in the council. They claimed that both Adriano and Achille were much more capable of leading, and had been drilling the armies in her absence. Despite this, she proclaimed that she was their ruler and they had to do as she said, something she had never before said or perhaps even thought. These displays of authoritarianism, were not something she had been known for, for she had always been a fair and just ruler, if perhaps a little cruel.

It seemed something else was at play here, at least her sons thought so. Maybe she wanted to reassert her rule over Sardinia, feeling threatened by her sons' presence. Or maybe, in her old age, all she wanted was a noble death. After much discussing, and to the dismay of the council, both Achille and Adriano agreed to let her lead the armies, while also being close by in case any disaster might occur.

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The armies of Lucia battled many skirmishes along the Corsican border, but in November of 796 they won a decisive battle against the now battered Corsican troops, leaving northern Corsica open for a siege.

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The last battle of the war for Corsica

The local nobles were restless, as they had been told that if they did not succeed, Adelchis' army would come and personally kill them and their loved ones by one for their failure. It seemed fear was their greatest motivator, and one that would fuel their resistance for nearly two years, as it would not be until January of 799 that Corsica would be truly pacified and conquered.

It seemed that the arduous guerrilla campaign against the Corsicans had truly taken a toll on Lucia, and just a month after defeating the last of the resistance, she passed away, leaving behind a great legacy which would be sung about for ages to come. Many would come to see her as the founding Mother of Sardinia, for it was during her reign that true autonomy had come to the island, and when other realms would acknowledge the might of its inhabitants.

Sardinia mourned the passing of a great woman.

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Calm...well, apart from Lucia uniting Sardinia and then going all batshit, her son appearing out of nothing and submerging again, the Empire crumbling and the Moors approaching, one could probably say that. :D
Calm compared to the constant warring of previous chapters, or what was to come... :p

Both the Byzantine Empire and Lucia's family are falling apart. Let's hope all the sacrifices made were for the better.
Her family couldn't have fallen apart as it was never put together in the first place ;)

The succession is looking interesting, with Adriano MIA and Achille the wrong religion.
Yup, but the sons had to pick up the slack after their crazy mother o_O