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The New Jerusalem

"Moscow, our ancient capital, the new Jerusalem, receives her Christ" - he placed a sudden emphasis on the word her - "even as a mother embraces her zealous sons, and through the gathering mists, foreseeing the resplendent glory of her reign, sings in exultation, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he that cometh!'"

-from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

-Revelation 21:2



The great realms of Russia are dead. In the early days, long forgotten now, Kiev Rus and Vladimir ruled Russia as Orthodox Kingdoms. In these glorious days the courage of good men overpowered the wickedness and sin that always lurks in the shadows. As time passed, however, the blood of Rurik became thin and corrupt and what was once done only in secrecy walked in daylight, defiant before our creator.

Judgment fell, as indeed it must when men rebel against heaven and become intoxicated on their own pride. The eastern scourge reduced the great realms to ruins. The yoke of the infidel was hung about the necks of Rurik's children. The mighty had been laid low, made slaves of the eastern devils.

Dark days followed as Satan himself rode across the cursed earth, spreading division and blasphemy in his wake. To the west the pagan Lithuanians stand more powerful than ever, serving the Fallen One openly with their foul rituals. The German Order watches without concern as they count their gold and ignore the crusade vows they have taken.

In the North mighty Novgorod, spared the judgment of God for now, cares little for anything but the vice of greed. While their merchants turn their eyes west they ignore the plight of their Russian brethren. To the east the Golden Horde dominates, serving the false prophet in open defiance of the Crucified One. Their filthy hands grip much of Russia, especially what was once Vladimir.

In the eye of this hurricane of wickedness is the city Moscow. The Grand Duke of Moskva, Ivan I, proved a capable and rebellious man. He invested the talents he was given wisely and they soon began to multiply. The Grand Duchy would grow greatly in wealth and prestige but remained nothing but a slave boy to be ravaged by pederast Mohammedans.

That is, until 1337. It is a small act of defiance, but the greatest since the fighting men of Russia were routed a century before. Ivan has declared that he will no longer pay tribute to the Khan. News travels slowly in a Russian January, but travel it will. The Khans are not known to tolerate such resistance...

So it is that our story begins in the city of Moscow. Within her walls powerful men and women plot to restore Russia's greatness, to build a power that even the eastern devils are dread to oppose.

Outside the walls, the snow continues to fall.


Ivan I, Grand Duke of Moscow.


Independent Moskva, 1337
 

coz1

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This place sounds perfect for Jon Necromancer! Brilliant!! Oh, wait...this one is serious. Guess he better go find some pretty wench and shoot some vodka for a while until this is finished.

Nice start. You are the brown in that screenie, right? I admit I have yet to make it that far east in my CK games. Usually the evil Golden Horde is already kicking butt and taking names. Looks like you'll have your hands full with your Novgoradian cousins. Good luck.
 

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Paranoid Tsar said:
Judgment fell, as indeed it must when men rebel against heaven and become intoxicated on their own pride.
Or, in the case of Russian men, simply intoxicated. :p I'm not normally a fan of character-driven stories but I think this one is worth a look.
 

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I'll try and keep serious for this one, but don't bet on it... I'm too used to your usual AARs.

So, new Jerusalem, eh? I guess that means we'll be having another Arab Messiah? ;)

...darnit, I'm throwing the jokes around already! :mad: :D
 

Lurken

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Bring forward the Arab Messiah, we demande him!

No, just kidding. We will be satisfied as long as you give us our daily fix of Paranoid Tsar.
 

Farquharson

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Great - I get to read this one from the beginning! I'm looking forward to it - and intrigued to see how you cope with the change of style. Serious is a lot harder, in my opinion, but I'm sure you're up to it!
 

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Part I: An Early Spring

Ivan's gloved hands carefully brushed the snow from the gravestone. His lungs burned and his breath clouded before his covered face. It had been snowing for the past three days and the royal graveyard was hardly recognizable as such. Stones stuck out like broken teeth drowning in a sea of white.

Nevertheless, Ivan had no difficulty finding his way to the proper place. He made this visit every Sunday after church services, regardless of the weather. It was the least he could do.

The Grand Duke stepped back to observe the cleared stone, his heavy boots slipping a bit in the slush beneath them. "I am here, father." The most powerful man in Moscow carefully set fresh flowers before the jagged rock that served as the final sentence in the book that was the life of the former Grand Duke.

Here lies Daniil Rurikovich, Grand Duke of Moscow. 1261-1303.

Ivan stood before the grave for several minutes, resembling a soldier at attention more than a mourner. Cold winds tore at his great coat but he stood unmoving, a statue.


Daniil Rurikovich, father of Ivan I.

Apparently relieved from the duty of guarding his father's bones the Grand Duke moved to another stone, leaving deep tracks in the fluffy blanket covering the ground. Arriving at the new monument Ivan again began the work of clearing it so it could be read.

Yelena Rurikovich, beloved wife of Ivan. 1290-1329

Ivan set numb hands atop the marker and for the first time in nearly a decade he cried, warm tears quickly cooling as they slid down his face.

The Grand Duke had recently arranged to be remarried and the decision had seemed logical and perfectly justified considering the circumstances. Neighboring Rostov was under the yoke of the Tartar, but if they were tied to Moscow through matrimony they would be less likely to aid the Horde should war come. A stable border. Room to breathe.

To say nothing of the marriage duty. Ivan already had great building projects planned for summer. It all made so much sense. So logical.

Perfectly justified.

Yet, he cried. "I'm doing this for the good of Moscow." Ivan whispered the words through cracked and bleeding lips and immediately realized how feeble and pathetic they sounded. What sort of man was he becoming? Flowers fell to the frozen earth as he hugged the cold stone.

"Forgive me, Yelena. Forgive me."

An hour later tracks marked Ivan's exit. At the grave of his father the fresh flowers were already covered with frost, soon to die.


Yelena Rurikovich, Wife of Ivan.

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

"On behalf of the Principality of Ryazan I present you with this year's tributes." The emissary pressed his head into the stone floor.

The Great Khan of the Golden Horde looked at the Russian diplomat with disgust tempered somewhat by pity. He would rather die a thousand deaths then ever bow down to another man, especially to an infidel. "If that man has any pride at all he must be dying inside," thought the Tartar Ruler.

"We are pleased to accept your obedience and friendship. You may rise." Ozbeg leaned forward in his jeweled throne, feral eyes focused on the pitiful Russian. The emissary's face showed no sign of defiance. "A great actor or a coward" thought the Khan.

"We look forward to another year under your wise protection, Great Khan." The man from Ryazan moved to the throne and kissed the rings on Ozbeg's extended hand.

"Your loyalty will not be forgotten. You may go." The Mongol watched without interest as the Russian left, even as chests full of gold were carried into the throne room by the servants of the Great Khan. "I guess I'll just throw it on the pile with the rest," thought Uzbeg and a thin smile formed on his face.

Leaving the throne for his personal quarters, Ozbeg held his side with his jewel covered hands. The pain came and went without warning.

"My Lord Khan, I have troubling news..." Qasim, the Steward, appeared as if from nowhere.

"No time now. I have to pray and then retire. I am not well." Qasim frowned, but could only bow and accept the will of the Great Khan.

Much later a servant would notice Ozbeg had left his prayer rug where it lay and that there were several small drops of blood soiling it. The servant frowned, something was very wrong with his Lord.

"Allah help him."


Ozbeg, Great Khan of the Golden Horde.

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

"You have eluded me for days, but now there is no escape!" The servant girl advanced on Moscow's Marshall, sharp blades glistening in her hands. "Your father's orders will be carried out!"

Marshall Semyon sighed, realizing there was no way to avoid this horrible fate. "Just try to make it quick."

"With that hair and beard we could be here for hours!" The Marshall sighed as he settled into a chair. The sacrifices he made for the greater glory of Moscow.

"I hardly see the need for this effeminacy." The servant's razor began to remove his filthy beard like a scythe cutting through wheat.

"You need to look good for the wedding. You'll be so handsome when I'm done."

"Just hurry, wench." Semyon's discomfort wasn't limited to his dislike for the grooming. His father's remarriage struck him as a poor decision. Ivan was marrying some harlot from Rostov, a woman who was not a virgin, who had already been married. "She probably gave the poor fool poison."

"What's that, my lord?"

"Nothing." The Marshall was no stranger to married life, having two years worth of what he considered "endless nagging" under his belt. As far as the Soldier of Moscow was concerned women were good for exactly two things, and the only things his own wife was good for she wasn't good AT.

"Ow! Be careful, trollop!" Semyon had been cut during the shave. "The battle field is safer than being in the hands of this whore," he muttered.

"Pardon me, my Lord?"

"Nothing." Semyon deepened his scowl. Remarriage. The last thing the Court of Moscow needed was more loose women running wild trying to fornicate with anything with an odd number of limbs...

When Semyon was cut again less than a minute later he wasn't so sure it was an accident.


Semyon, after a shave and a trim.
 
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coz1: Moscow is the Dark Brown and is for the most part surrounded by hostile realms. All of the real light green is the Golden Horde, and then there's Lithuania. Novgorod probably won't be friendly to Moskva, but the Pagan/Muslim threats could be a total disaster if the shoe falls.

Yeah, good old Jon Necromancer will probably be on sabbatical for awhile. I'll be sure to call him for help, though, should I need it. :D

the_shy_kid: Be careful, you just might like it. ;) I did cringe a little when I wrote that intoxicated line but it seemed the most appropriate word. "Overwhelmed" just isn't powerful enough. :D

Judas Maccabeus: If an Arab Messiah shows up he would have to be a very sympathetic character in this tale. :D Maybe I should call the tone "more serious." There will be some humor, but it will be the realistic humor life provides instead of just going off the deep end with motorcycle and bear pictures. :D

Lurken: No Messiahs so far, but I've only played about five years. I actually think the new "seriousness" will work out well. There were a few scenes in Bearly Surviving where I was thinking "this would be good drama" but it was just out of the question considering the format. :D

Corruption: Only time will tell, but I'll do my best. :D

Farquharson: Glad to have you aboard! I'll have to see what people think of the first post, but I enjoyed writing it. It is a much harder style. With humor you can get away with pretty much anything, as long as it's amusing. Here, I have to care about characters and resist the urge to have motorpsychos or metal bands show up. :D

Thanks for all the support everyone! The next update will include the staple of all serious character driven AARs: "The Wedding Scene." Should be fun. :D
 

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Well, I've never had a wedding scene in my AAR, but then it's tough to get married during the Civil War. So much dying and all that. :rolleyes:

And methinks this tribute to the Khan is not long lived...at least I hope not. A tough task, but needed and probably early I would think. But then I have no idea how their numbers stack up this early in the game.

And a really beautiful scene to start this last post. The various descriptions of the snow was wonderful. I believe you have just as much talent with the character driven AAR as you do with the humorous ones. All the better for the rest of us. Carry on and watch those close shaves. ;)
 

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Hm, a semi-serious Paranoid Tsar AAR? My god, the apocalypse must be upon us, and the Arab Messiah's coming almost nigh!

;)

Looks good. I'll be reading. :)
 

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Excellent start. I liked the way the intro post was written, very atmospheric. Looking forward to the wedding scene. :)

I don't think I've ever tried the 1337 scenario, but it certainly looks like you have your work cut out for you - pressed in between the Horde, Novgorod and that beige duchy with the Christ-head COA (is that Smolensk?). And the central European powers lurking in the west, of course.
 

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I agree - a great beginning! Funny how nobody seems to want Ivan to remarry (including himself) when presumably in game terms it makes excellent sense. But perhaps there is some hindsight involved here. How far ahead are you playing btw? It has occurred to me that with all the potential in CK for tortuous cause-and-effect chains leading to suddenly significant outcomes it's probably safest to be a good bit ahead in gameplay. On the other hand I personally prefer the immediate reader interaction of "Why don't you do such-and-such now?" while it's not too late! Sorry, getting a bit OT here... ;)
 

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MY GOD IT'S A SERIOUS AAR BY PARANOID TSAR!!!!!!!!!!!!! *much drink exits mouths*

Now, seriously, this does look like a Good Thing. I will be reading.
 

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Ah, good ol' Ivan Moneybags. He gets my vote for best nickname of a Russian ruler--and believe me, that's one tough competition! ;)

On a slightly more serious note, the Tatar Khan does not seem happy. Let's hope you survive more than a few years... :eek:
 

Sekenr

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I love it! :D
And its a better on-job read than Bearly Surviving, since it won't make me burst out laughing all of a sudden ;) (I think) And I love your style, most people that write Russian AAR's usually have rather strange ideas of Rus lands, but this one doesn't seem *alien* to me, so.......*applauds*
 

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"Vasilli Rurikovich, Prince of Yaroslavl sends his best wishes for a long and happy marriage for Ivan, Grand Duke of Moscow. Vasilli is most pleased to present Ivan with a holy icon to honor this blessed occassion."

The peaceful face of Saint Fedor of Moscow had been beautifully rendered on the icon. Ivan gazed at the visage of the famed healer and evangelist to the pagan and felt somewhat at peace himself.

"We can probably sell it for a tidy profit." The voice of Lidiia, Steward of Moscow, pulled the Grand Duke back into the moment and the peaceful feelings he had felt were quickly replaced with anxiety.

"I think I'd like this icon placed in my quarters instead." The Steward frowned.

"As you wish My Lord." Ivan looked sadly at Lidiia. She was shrewish and had never married. As far as the Ruler of Moscow could tell she had an accounting sheet in place of a heart.

"Is this my future?" Ivan wondered. "Forsaking good character in the empty pursuit of money and power?"

"Can I speak my mind, Lord?" There was no rest for Ivan now, no time to put anything in perspective.

"I wouldn't have appointed you the powers I have so you can stand silent." Ivan nodded to the servants and they exited the royal chamber, leaving the icon resting on a chair.

"You're killing yourself, Ivan. You need to slow down, especially with the wedding tomorrow." Ivan tried to gauge her for sincerity. No luck, she was unreadable.

"What do you have in mind?" The whispered voices echoed in the empty throne room.

"I'll take full control of the treasury and taxation for the next few months. If you let me act on my own initiative without seeking permission I can be much more effective." The Grand Duke sighed.

"Very well. I will put my trust in you. Between the wedding, building projects and the planned crusade I will be a busy man." The smile on Lidiia's face seemed disturbing, wrong.

"You won't regret it, My Lord." Lidiia bowed and left Ivan alone with his thoughts.

He already regretted it.

Moscow's Ruler stared at the icon. Perhaps all the compromises would ultimately work for good. If he could strike back against the infidel, win victories for Christ...

Ivan realized he was rationalizing again and turned away from the icon. He set his head in both hands and sat in silence.


Lidiia, Steward of Moscow.

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

"Die foul beast! The Great Knight of Moscow smites you!"

There were dragons everywhere in the castle. Sure, most people could not see them, but they were there regardless. Only Ivan II, and sometimes his younger brother Andrei, stood against this unseen menace.

The junior Ivan raised his toy sword to deliver the coup de grace to the fallen dragon. It was a great victory, but there were plenty more where that came from.

"Out of the way! I fight for good!" Ivan nearly knocked two servants down as he made a daring charge down a hallway in search of more Reptilian enemies of Moscow.

Ivan had recently turned ten years old and was beginning his education as a soldier. He was eager to learn, perhaps over eager. The finer lessons on tactics and strategy bored him to tears. What sort of man needed such trickery? He dreamed instead of noble combat, slugging it out toe-to-toe with those who would threaten his homeland.

"Take that, Tartar dog! Die as you ought!" The invisible dragons had been replaced by invisible Mongols. "Die Devil, for the Crucified One!" Young Ivan hacked at a tapestry.

"That's not a Mongol you little monster." The croaking voice of Ivan's older sister Maria interrupted the battle.

"Begone Troll!" Maria's face flushed. Her body was badly deformed by a hunchback and even at 14 she already had a taste for the bittersweet escape of the bottle.

"Your father will be mad if you tear those. Go fight shadows somewhere else!" Ivan stuck out his tongue, but then turned and walked away.

Maria left Ivan to continue his crusades. Perhaps she could sneak another drink or two...


Ivan II, Dragonslayer.


Maria, deformed daughter of Ivan.

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

"Today we gather to join two into one." The Metropolitan of Moscow set hands on the shoulders of Ivan and his Bride, Maria Fedyorov from neighboring Rostov.

Ivan's mind was far away. He'd talked to Marshall Semyon earlier and it looked like they would soon be going to war. Winter's hand was gradually loosening on the land and with the marriage duty Moscow suddenly had the resources to attempt to hurt the infidel after decades of submission.

"Is that what my wife is? A hundred pounds of gold? Will I sleep with the money tonight?" The thoughts struck like lightening and Ivan hoped no one noticed him blushing and drooping his head slightly.

"Kiss for the pledge." The Grand Duke kissed his new bride, really looking at her face for the first time. She was so much younger...how did she feel about all of this?

Cheers echoed through the church as the newly married couple made their way toward the doors. The Ruler of Moscow smiled and shook hands, doing his best to put a good face on everything. What could he possibly have in common with a woman half his age? How would his children take this? Would there be more children?

So many questions and he hadn't even spoken a word to his new wife yet.

Outside the church the February weather was surprisingly mild, rising above freezing for the first time in months. For most it was a boon, but Ivan knew that early spring meant only one thing.

Early war.

Ivan held his new wife close as they stood on the church steps.


Maria, second wife of the Grand Duke.

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

Ozbeg, Great Khan of the Golden Horde was ill. He hadn't left his bed in weeks and had given orders not to be bothered.

No matter what.

Thus, Qasim had to bear his burden alone. He'd checked the records a hundred times, there was no longer any doubt.

The Steward knew that Moscow had refused their due tribute. He knew that Moscow was prosperous and as such well able to pay. He knew that the Golden Horde could not allow such insolence, lest all her vassals rebel.

Knowing these things didn't make him any less impotent. All power rested in the hands of the Great Khan and he was in no condition to use it. Nearly every day servants removed blood stained sheets from his chambers, the smell of death hanging on them.

No one else was allowed in.

Worse, the death of the Great Khan, which now seemed imminent, would throw everything into disorder. The new Khan wouldn't be able to assert any authority for months, maybe years. Rebellion would go unanswered.

Trying to clear his head, Qasim faced Mecca on his knees. All he could do was pray.
 
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coz1: They did sneak a few of those scenes into "Gone with the Wind" but I see your point. :D Marriage is more of an issue in EU 2 and especially Crusader Kings.

The Golden Horde no longer receives tribute from Moscow (the emissary was from Ryazan), which starts the 1337 scenario completely independent. This is a bit ahistorical, but I just rolled with it and added it to the story. The Golden Horde is huge and powerful. It can raise about 50,000 soldiers or so to maybe 5000 from Moscow if memory serves. If they come after Moscow, it will be a very short AAR.

Thanks for the compliments! I've dealt with A LOT of snow in the last few weeks and I believe in "write what you know." :D

Morpheus506: I'd been threatening it for awhile and the shoe finally dropped. :D Glad to know you'll be following, I hope I can make this a fun read!

AKjeldsen: Glad you're following! The introductory post owes more than a little to the tone I used in "Knights of the Hospital of Saint Mary." Very similar styles, I like using that voice!

Smolensk is right next door to the west, in gray. The Christ crests are vassals of, ironically, pagan Lithuania. I think the "eye of the hurricane" description was pretty apt, but there are chances for expansion if I'm very clever and very, very, lucky. :D

Farquharson: Thanks Farquharson! I see Ivan being torn between doing what's best for his realm and staying true to his own inner values. The wedding is 100% the right thing to do in the game, but sometimes people aren't perfectly logical. Look for the theme of corruption to continue with Ivan as he has to justify more actions in the future. I think he's going to be an interesting character (I hope!).

Semyon's opposition to the wedding is more immature and obvious, which at 19 years old describes him pretty well (no offense to all the mature 19 year olds out there!).

I don't like to play too far ahead for the reasons you mentioned. Right now I've played up until about 1340. I don't know how people can write AARs backwards from completed games...I could never make that work.

J. Passepartout: Thanks for reading! I'm a little surprised to be writing this too, but it's a fresh challenge and one I can hopefully meet. :D

Judas Maccabeus: I still like Fedor the Bellringer better, but it's probably #2 on my "Russian Ruler Nicknames" list. :D Of course the irony is that Ivan got that nickname for his ability to pay massive tributes to the Mongol, something he will not be doing in this game! Paradox did a good job with his numbers, though.

Luckily for Moscow the Tartars have their own problems. Expect to see more from Qasim in future posts.

Sekenr: Thanks for all the kind words! I think my own experiences with bad winters helps a lot in scenes that require depictions of Russian winters. I'm trying my best to make the characters seem as real and personable as possible. There's a balance between covering the game and establishing the cast, but I decided to take my time a bit.

I might sneak a joke or two in here and there, so you're not totally safe. :D

The next update will cover the wedding party, introduce some more characters and provide a little more information on the war on the infidel.
 

stnylan

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Jolly good aar so far Paranoid Tsar.
 

J. Passepartout

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That Lydiia lady, I'm telling you she's going to keep it all for herself. Watch out. Although maybe some of those dragons could be used to keep her selfishness at bay.