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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

CzokletMuss

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The Necronomicon in Byzantium
-
Horrible Tale of The House Angelos




That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons, even death may die.


[SIZE=+3]CONTENTS[/SIZE]
[size=+1]Chapter 1 (1102-1108)
Chapter 2 (1108-1116)
Chapter 3 (1116-1121)
Chapter 4 (1121)
Chapter 5 (1122)
[/size]

I am happy to bring this what should be done a long time ago – an AAR based on Cthulhu mythos! The story starts in 1001 Anno Domini in Byzantium, I'll play as the (in)famous House Angelos and try to become the Emperor of Romans using blasphemous and forbidden dark knowledge.

Some home rules and basic info:

1) Version 1.92, mod CK2+ 1.33.25 and almost all of the DLCs but nothing else.
2) Console will be used to provide flavor for the story (mostly for generating the „bad” traits).
3) Console will be used to provide some benefits like gold although the price will be high (fhtagn!).
4) No quickloads or any loads except when starting the game – consequences will be accepted always although → next point
5) If I will have to choose between some random thing and the total collapse of the story I will choose the story.
6) The goal is to provide interesting and dark story. The goal in game is to become the Emperor of Romans, although I leave the possibility of continuing the story after achieving that point.
7) In every chapter they will be three special elements:
*„Chronology of events” - timeline for the story;
*„Dramatis personae” - list of all important characters;
*„The Black List” - list of all the victims of power hungry Angeloi on their way to the Imperial Throne.
8) Oh and I'm not a native speaker, so my apologies for mistakes.
9) I reserve the right to change the rules during the story.​

That's all folks! Let's get this started.

PROLOGUE
1101-1102



Today everyone celebrates. Twenty long years have passed since Alexios seized the throne and saved us all from the hordes of infidels. The Empire is now much stronger that during those black days but one doesn't need wise eyes to see the dangers surrounding the state like the vultures surround the ill and weak but still pride lion. But today everyone celebrates, songs are played, wine is spilled and smiles fill the air. Everyone but me. I can't find any happiness in my life since I lost her. Oh my dear Anna, how much I miss you! Would you ever forgive me? This is my last hope because I know that I can't count on His forgiveness. I will burn for what I did to you, my love. Soon I will this miserable world and the judgment will be passed upon me. If we met on the other side… no, no! I can't think about this, not now. I did this for our children, Anna, I did it for them. Or I thought so, because today I know that this cursed day will bring us only misery. But you wanted this, didn't you? You told me to read this damned book, you were always saying that as quick as I rise I can fall. And I did, my dove, I did.


After the Alp Arslan filled the valley with the blood of Romans and humiliated our Emperor I knew that our darkest nightmares has become real. In the next years full of despair and chaos thanks to my stupidity which was then mistaken for courage and my lack of vision which enabled me to continue my service in a fading army I gained the honor of commanding the droungos of Chios. I, simple lowborn from Smyrna, was elevated to the ranks of aristoi! Today I can say that this says more about the condition of our aristokratia than my doubtful valor.

Everything seemed to be so good. I was a landed noble, I found the most beautiful women of all on the agora of Smyrna in the sunny day, we married in silent monastery of St. Dionysius. Even the everpresent shadow of war couldn't erase our happiness during those days. But then I found this book. Years have passed and I still don't have any idea what was his name. Tall, pride, dark-skinned and always smiling warrior from a distant land with those weirdly intensive orange eyes. When we were on a campaign against the barbarians in the first years of Alexios reign I saved his life. „This is the most precious thing I have. You have to take it Manuel, this is the only way for me to pay this debt.” He disappeared few days later, probably died during the battle with feral Pechenegs. I've never saw him again.

I forgot about this book completely – we were in the middle of a war after all. Only years later, when the infidel invasion swallowed our eastern lands like a black tide and we have to sail to Theodosiopolis to save ourselves I found it. Forgotten, lost on the bottom of small coffer, one of the few we didn't leave in the castle while escaping from the sword of the enemy. Oh my Anna, why did you tell me to use this damned book!? I should have toss in into the deep where it belongs. But it was too late – the mysteries were to fascinating to foret about them. Soon I knew the history of the book, the tragic tale of Mad Arab Abdullah al-Ḥaẓrad, an exile from Sanaa in Arabian Peninsula.



When I realized that this was indeed the Necronomicon, banned by the patriarch Michael before I was born, then I failed. I failed you and our unborn sons, I failed him and I lost my mind to this vile manuscript.


But it worked. It worked just as al-Hazrad promised in his madness. Soon I was a doux and I wasn't a mere servant anymore. With themata of Samos and rich lands under my rule I gained power and wealth but I lost this what is the most precious of all: my only love and my soul. I tried to get rid of it, I really did – but it always come back. Always. This unholy ritual somehow binded my blood with the magic of the book, thus connecting my whole family to this insult of God's laws, this abomination of unholy verses. And that's why I'm frightened, why I can't smile – I deserved my fate but my sons? Did I bring doom on all of them innocent boys?

I have no other option. Andronikos is not a child anymore, but he's still young, too young to survive in this harsh times without guidance. I spent a lot of gold to hire the best eunuchs in the Queen of Cities to teach him the world. He's talented much more than I am, but I'm full of doubt whether he will survive long without allies. I must find him a good wife and do it quickly. I also have to teach him the dark secrets of the book – maybe he will be able to find a way to break this curse and bring peace to our family.


I'm old and tired, my days are numbered. But I will find the strength to carry on this burden for a few more years – I have to do it for my sons. Then, when my time comes, maybe we will meet again, even if just for a one sweet and sad moment.


Maybe then I will finally take a rest. Today nobody will go sleep early but all my night are vigile. I can't find peace while lying alone on my bed in the darkness. I can hear only my weak heartbeat and the distant sound of waves braking on the rocky shore. And I don't find any consolace in the light of the day - I read the book and I know that truly the night is dark and full of terrors.

Mother forgive me.

 
Last edited:

aniuby

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Holy crap! As it stands, I wanted to do something like this when The Old Gods is released, so I could play as a Pagan nation and have lots of fun with human sacrifices and random bloodshed and all that, but you beat me to it. Something like 'The Depravity of Erik the Heathen and The Great Old Gods'. Thankfully, that's one less AAR idea I'll have weighing on me.

Utterly enjoyed your opening chapter and the sense of forboding, so good luck with your story and I look forward to your next update ... and one more thing. Read the first letter of each of my sentences.
 

CzokletMuss

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Chapter 1 and next will be better I hope but thanks :) The Old Gods are ideal for this kind of AAR so you shouldn't abandon the idea just like that. However the so called old gods are nothing in comparison with the Outer Gods. Unstoppable power from the realms Beyond, this is what should be feared! Lay down before your masters, petty humans! Huh. Unnerving maniacal laugh, that's what I needed.

;)
 

Lord Durham

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As someone who has published a couple of Mythos stories, this is something I look forward to following. The opening was very moody, very dark, dripping with the promise of grim things to come.

And, like aniuby, it was a theme I was thinking of tackling when Old Gods came out. I suppose there's always room for another...

Anyway, looking forward to the next post.
 

CzokletMuss

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Thanks!
And, like aniuby, it was a theme I was thinking of tackling when Old Gods came out. I suppose there's always room for another...
Sure there is; you know what they say - "Cthulhu-worshipping viking are not to be trusted" ;)
 

unmerged(541702)

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What is dead can never die, but rises again harder and stronger
 

CzokletMuss

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CHAPTER 1
1102-1108


Chronology of events
c.700 AD - Abdullah al-Ḥaẓrad (عبدالله الحظرد) leaves Sanaa in Yemen and starts his mystical quest for forbidden knowledge
730 AD - Abdullah al-Ḥaẓrad writes down his findings in the book Kitab al-Azif while in Damascus
738 AD - Mad Arab disappears; seized by invisible demon suffers horrible death as the legend says
c.950 AD - Kitab al-Azif was translated by Theodoros Philetas of Constantinople and is named the Necronomicon after its opening words
1050 AD - Ecumenical Patriarch Michael I Cerularius orders most of the copies of the Necronomicon to be burned; Manuel Angelos is born
1077 AD - cataclysmic battle of Manzikert leaves the Empire broken and defeated
1081 AD – ambitious doux Alexios Komnenos seizes the Golden Throne and becomes the Emperor of Romans
1085 AD – Konstantinos Angelos, firstborn son of Manuel comes to this world
1095 AD – pope Urban II calls all faithful Catholics to regain the Holy Land from the infidels
1099 AD – the Holy City al-Quds is recaptured and becomes once again Christian; the Kingdom of Jerusalem is born shortly afterwards
1101 AD – the Empire celebrates the twentieth year of Alexios I rule
1102 AD – Manuel Angelos and Alexios Komenos both die; the story begins…
Dramatis personae
ANGELOI
Manuel Angelos (1050-1102) – founder of the Angelos dynasty, the first of the Angeloi to find the Necronomicon and learn it secrets
Konstantinos Angelos (1085-…) – doux of Samos and the firstborn son of Manuel
OTHERS
Abdullah al-Ḥaẓrad (? - 738)– also known as the Mad Arab; writer of the Necronomicon originally known as Kitab al-Azif
Alexios Komnenos (1056-1002) – Emperor of the Romans and the founder father of the Komnenoi dynasty power; restorer of the falling Empire


***
Chios, 1102 A.D.


This is a year full of loss. First my beloved father has departed this world and then the merciless Fate has taken the great Alexios Komnenos, weakened by illness and wounds while he was leading our army in the Ikonion.

He was the guiding light for all the Greeks. With him, our hope to continue reconquest in the East is gone too. I still remember the day when I saw him, my future father-in-law, for the first time in a throne room of the Imperial Palace.The throne itself was of immense size and was, as it were, guarded by lions, made either of bronze or wood covered with gold, which struck the ground with their tails and roared with open mouth and quivering tongue. Leaning on the shoulders of two eunuchs, I was brought into the emperor’s presence. As I came up the lions began to roar and the birds to twitter, each according to its kind, but I was moved neither by fear nor astonishment. After I had done obeisance to the Emperor by prostrating myself three times, I lifted my head, and behold! the man whom I had just seen sitting at a moderate height from the ground had now changed his vestments and was sitting as high as the ceiling of the hall.*



I'm ashamed to admit that his death was more tragic experience for me than the death of my own father. I don't remember him very well, we never talked much – I was raised amongst the eunuchs and servants of the megas logothetēs, the head of imperial diplomacy. He wanted for me to obtain the best education – and I did, I learned not only Greek and Latin but also Arabic and I became a skillful diplomat. Though I wonder sometimes was it worth it? I never knew my mother, I know here only from my father's story – the only time when on his grim faced appeared the subtle, sad smile.


But after all, he was right – thanks to the alliance with the House of Komnenoi the heir of great Alexios, basileus Ioannes II was quick to cement my loyalty by offering me the office of the megas logothetēs or chancellor, as they used to say on the West. Soon I will depart to the Queen of Cities to become when of the member of the Council. My father would be proud.

***
Constantinople, 1105 A.D.


I'm leaving the City. Basileus ordered me to command our forces deep in the enemy territory. I was stupid and impulsive and now I have to pay a high price for an obvious mistake. Emperor Ioannes was grateful enough for my service to not mention this incident to my wife and his sister – or at least Imperial Regent was kind enough to repay my for my favors.




At least Skrinion tōn Barbarōn, the Bureau of Barbarians, under my rule helped the Empire to gather intelligence of the enemy movement. We're close to winning this bloody conflict which took so many lives. But alas, instead of negotiating the peace treaty with the infidels I will have to fight them not with words but with my sword. Let it be that way – I will pay for my sin. I will continue to write my diary – who knows, maybe future generations will find them interesting? At least princess Anna from whom I get this idea says so. The great Alexios left us all orphans.


***
Konya, 1105 A.D.


Today the regency has officially ended – and who know, maybe Ioannes will gain glory of the victorious war just like his father before him?


But such glory is much more attractive when you are sitting in a safe palace, away from sweat and blood. Pillage and rape and countless bodies – this is the legacy of this war. But we're now closer to the end of this petty struggle. Today we're going to attack the sultan's army, maybe even Kilij Arslan himself will join the battle. I pray for our victory – I want to go home.




Chios, 1106 A.D.


The war is over. Sultan lost not only his pride and land but also his leg. I'm finally at home with my beloved wife. And I couldn't arrive in a better moment – her pregnancy has finally ended and I was blessed with the twins!


I'm fed up with the politics. For the next years I'm needed here, with my family and nothing is going to change it.


***
On road to the themata of Moesia, 1107 A.D.


Unfortunately, as a doux I have some duties which can't be put aside. I'm on my way to the meeting of princely faction. I hope it won't take much time – I'm doing it only for my children: we cannot allow to miss this. The world of Empire's politics is ruthless and I want for my House to prosper, as my father wished.




***
On road to the themata of Samos, 1107 A.D.


Good God, what a waste of time it was! What did he think, that idiot Michael, that he can turn us all against the son of Alexios who've just won a war? Nonsense!

I'm eager to be back at home. I think I'm also quite nervous and angry about all this meeting – all my servants are afraid of my… erratic behavior. But the reality is that I don't care about it – my thoughts are only with my family.


***
Chios, 1108 A.D.


I have another son!


I'm so happy but in the same time I'm confused – it seems that my feelings to my wife are fading. I find myself more and more attracted to her sister with whom I sinned some time ago. She's still in my court. I'm also concerned about my firstborn strange behavior – he seems to be afraid to sleep alone.


But why is he afraid of darkness? The light of our Lord conquers all the evil. I've figured out that the best thing to do in this situation will be make some donation for the glory of Christ and pray for guidance.


***
Chios, 1109 A.D.


My wife gives birth to another child.


But this is not the only offspring of mine which is coming to this world.


I'm afraid my wife slowly realizes what's going on. Something bad is happening between us.


I have to escape from this for a moment. Maybe I will go hunting? Or maybe not, I'm not really in the mood. Perhaps it will be for the best if I just read something – my father's library is quite impressive for someone who was born in the slums of Smyrna. After all, during hunting there might be some kind of accident and with the books – what's the worst that could happen?



* Description from: [2] J.Becker, Antapodosis (Hannover-Leipzig, 1915), 6,5, tr. Mango, Art of the Byzantine Empire, 209-10.
 
Last edited:

alxeu

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So far, like the AAR, but for your dates...
Manuel Angelos (1050-1002) This is directly from the post. I didn't know Manuel was -48 years old. :rofl:
 

CzokletMuss

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Good point - corrected. I hope you like the story!
 

alxeu

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I was kinda hoping you'd notice the other date mistakes as well... Manuel's son ruled before his father was born!
Still good though!
 

Idhrendur

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This is certainly fun and interesting. You have an excellent writing style.
 

CzokletMuss

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This is certainly fun and interesting. You have an excellent writing style.
Subscribed. Looking interesting.
Thank you!
I was kinda hoping you'd notice the other date mistakes as well... Manuel's son ruled before his father was born!
Still good though!
Crap - I will check this out today.
Gentlemen, we have the official theme song! :)
 

Lord Durham

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Having Anna Komnenos suggest Konstanine keep a diary was a nice touch. And as alxeu pointed out, your dates are incorrect (1002 instead of 1102, etc). So, when does Dagon appear??
 

CzokletMuss

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Dates are fixed and what about Dagon we will see soon enough ;)
 

CzokletMuss

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CHAPTER 2
1108-1116


Chronology of events
c.700 AD - Abdullah al-Ḥaẓrad (عبدالله الحظرد) leaves Sanaa in Yemen and starts his mystical quest for forbidden knowledge
730 AD - Abdullah al-Ḥaẓrad writes down his findings in the book Kitab al-Azif while in Damascus
738 AD - Mad Arab disappears; seized by invisible demon suffers horrible death as the legend says
c.950 AD - Kitab al-Azif was translated by Theodoros Philetas of Constantinople and is named the Necronomicon after its opening words
1050 AD - Ecumenical Patriarch Michael I Cerularius orders most of the copies of the Necronomicon to be burned; Manuel Angelos is born
1077 AD - cataclysmic battle of Manzikert leaves the Empire broken and defeated
1081 AD – ambitious doux Alexios Komnenos seizes the Golden Throne and becomes the Emperor of Romans
1085 AD – Konstantinos Angelos, firstborn son of Manuel comes to this world
1095 AD – pope Urban II calls all faithful Catholics to regain the Holy Land from the infidels
1099 AD – the Holy City al-Quds is recaptured and becomes once again Christian; the Kingdom of Jerusalem is born shortly afterwards
1101 AD – the Empire celebrates the twentieth year of Alexios I rule
1102 AD – Manuel Angelos and Alexios Komenos both die; the story begins…
Dramatis personae
ANGELOI
Manuel Angelos (1050-1102) – founder of the Angelos dynasty, the first of the Angeloi to find the Necronomicon and learn it secrets
Konstantinos Angelos (1085-…) – doux of Samos and the firstborn son of Manuel
OTHERS
Abdullah al-Ḥaẓrad (? - 738)– also known as the Mad Arab; writer of the Necronomicon originally known as Kitab al-Azif
Alexios Komnenos (1056-1002) – Emperor of the Romans and the founder father of the Komnenoi dynasty power; restorer of the falling Empire


***
Chios, 1109 A.D.


I found recently a very interesting and infamous book in my father's library. Disappointingly the Necronomicon consists mostly of some occultist gibberish, like for example detailed descriptions of some unholy rituals or „true” names of pagan gods. This is so preposterous that I actually enjoy reading about Kathul or whatever this pagan deity name is – this whole al-Hazrad was a good storyteller, I have to give him that. So for a past few weeks I spend my time sitting in the garden with a bottle of wine from Achaia and some spicy roasted calamari as a snack. Though I have to admit that the real reason why I'm spending my time trying to decipher the so called secrets of this book is much more mundane – my lover has finally give birth to my child.


I admitted that the bastard is mine but I won't ever legitimize him – I can't risk to anger the imperial family even more. Luckily, the news from doux Michael arrive – our faction's next meeting has been announced. I gladly accept the invitation. I'm leaving tomorrow; I hope that few weeks of separation will help my wife to deal with this whole situation.

***
Moesia, 1109 A.D.


I still can't believe in it. The great hall was filled with the aristoi, representants of the mightiest Houses from all corners of the Basileia Rhōmaiōn. Monotonous voice of doux Michael was interrupted only by occasional yawning while he was trying to prove how oppressive the rule of the Emperor was and how it endangered our position. I wasn't really listening – out of boredom I was busy practicing the magic Signs of Power, occultist gestures described in the book which I find more and more fascinating with every day. Then when he finally ended this pathetic speech and we voted, it turned out that not even one amongst the assembled douxes has decided to support our leader. Humiliated, he was forced to resign.


And then I realized that this is my moment and proposed myself as a candidate for a faction princeps. When my turn to present my arguments has come, the amazing happened. While I was trying to persuade them using the very best of my diplomatic skills, I noticed that they whenever my fingers – unawarely - take the shape of the Elder Sign, the assembled lords were increasingly in favor of my person as their leader. In the end, I was chosen as the first among the equals and became the head of the most powerful political group in the Empire!


But now I'm more confused that ever. Is it even possible that this was accomplished not by my speech and experience as the megas logothetēs but thanks to this mystical symbols? And if it is, does it mean that what the book describes is real? This is to terrifying to even think of it – no, I'm sure it was my mastery of a words game that gave my this new title. It has to be.


Whatever the real reason was, now I discovered a truly terrible thing – ambition. If my elevation was possible – me, a grandson of a lowborn! - than why shouldn't I try to achieve even more? But before trying my skills in the Empire's politics, I need to take care of my internal affairs.

***
Smyrna, 1110 A.D.


First I need to consolidate the power in my hand – father's death divided our lands between me and my brothers. They won't hesitate to protect their position with sword, so I have to be smarter. Instead of using violence, I managed to prepare false accusations of treason of my dear Ioannes.


I treat him with respect though – he's under house arrest only, I can't raise a hand on a member of my own family after all.


I also arrange the disappearance of my youngest brother. He always has a bad luck – even when he was baptized, the priest accidentally made a mistake while writing down his name. Michael is my „guest” now.


After revoking the title from Ioannes I ordered the court to be moved to Smyrna, the traditional seat of power in the Themata of Samos – the castrum is much bigger and messengers can travel faster. I like it much better than the old castle in Chios. However I would like to do it, I need some time before next move – accusing my last brother of treason now would be too suspicious. I have to wait, but I'm patient.

***
Smyrna, 1112 A.D.


As time goes by, my son is growing to be a great ruler. Justice is the most important trait for a doux. However, I'm worried about how close th Emperor Ioannes follows the path of the great Alexios – his benevolent reign is a true blessing for the Basileia Rhōmaiōn.


The commonfolk gave him even a nickname the Wise. It would be much harder to gain support in any action against him than I thought. Therefore I need to change my strategy – instead of plotting against him, I will do my best to ensure him how loyal I am as his servant, thus clearing my way to the corridors of the Imperial Palace once again. As a member of the Council, it will be much easier to gain new titles or wealth.

***
Smyrna, 1113 A.D.


The time has come – my strike was swift and completely unexpected by my poor brother, since I was on a campaign against the barbarians.


Once again all the lands of the Themata of Samos belong to one man. With wealth provided by them, my position is now much stronger. Moreover, my efforts are coming to fruition: Basileus has honored my for my support.


As anthypathos – or proconsul, as the say in Latin – I'm now above ordinary douxes. This will serve me well when trying to gain support on the faction's meeting. Everything is going extremely well; even my wife isn't much of a trouble and behaves properly. I have also finished my translation of the Necronomicon to Latin, not that I'm planning to share it with anyone but just as an exercise of a mind and test for my understanding of it. I have to admit that the temptation to use some of the rituals described in the book is evergrowing since I gained the leadership of my faction. But should I do it? It may be a very slippery slope and if somebody finds out what I'm doing, all may be lost. I have to proceed carefully.

***
Epieros, 1115 A.D


I'm growing tired of this constant wars and I'm tired of serving the Emperor. He's too smart to strengthen my position too much – instead of titles I only get vague promises. How long am I going to risk my neck for him?


That's why I decided to take some steps. First of all, my youngest brother has reached full age and he's a growing threat to me – skilled and young he's dangerous and I can't accuse him of treason like I did with the rest. Who would believe in it? Instead, I decided to arrange „abduction” by a paid group of mountain bandits. They captured him and than in secret brought him to my dungeons. Then I blinded him – mutilated, this ambitious boy won't be a threat anymore; furthermore, one of the rituals from the book requires some… specific body parts. Two birds with a one stone, as they say.


***
Somewhere on the border with Pechenegs, 1116 A.D.


It's hard to believe but it seems that the spell worked. The Emperor has contracted a serious illness and shortly after he died. The reign of his newborn son, Bardas, has began.


The time has come. With a weak ruler like this poor child, we're stronger than ever. But before we do anything, I need an army. Themata of Samos alone doesn't have enough soldiers and I can't afford the mercenaries. But this can easily be changed. I immediately send the orders to Smyrna. I have the strongest faction in the Empire under my command and rituals of the Necronomicon as my secret weapon.

Nothing can stop me now.
 
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