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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Cromwell

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That was a very effective move. A lot of problems solved all in one update.
 
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slothinator

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A bloodless coup is always the best kind of coup.
Robin must be awfully proud of himself at this point. From lowly bandit, all the way to High Chief is a road not often traveled.
 
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Midnite Duke

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@Dunaden, thank you for writing this wonderful tale that I am enjoying immensely. I have several questions if you do not mind. How did you choose Merya? How far ahead of your writing do you play? Do you have a particular end goal or are you going where the game leads? Thank you for reading, have a good day and be safe.
 

Midnite Duke

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Uncle Parush is someone that badly needs to "straighten up". Perhaps some time on the rack would help. Do you use the day of the month to help determine paternity? Going by county emblem, I would say Chief Kardaz of Kostrama's ship had sailed. (I am on comment #195)
 

Dunaden

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Hi all, sorry for the delays in posting for the last few weeks, but got distracted by the new shiny, CK3. Just winding down my first Ironman game starting as Castile around 1066 (currently ruling a vast Hispanian Empire in 1408 AD), and will soon get back to more balanced gaming/writing schedule. I've already played Merya through the year 1,000, just fell behind on the writing. The next chapter is partially written, just need to write of the new war. It should be up in a day or so.


Well now, that is one source of internal discord rather neatly and effectively dealt with.
Yes, the revocations went very smoothly, with none of them resisting, removing most of those that don't follow Ukko, Akka, and the other Suomenusko Gods


Nice move. The people of the forest expand onto the plains!
Thanks, a few tentative steps outside the forest, but still prefer the cool shade of the forest.


That was a very effective move. A lot of problems solved all in one update.
Yes, completely eliminated the independence faction, removed some malcontents, and awarded family and loyal retainers. Also dealt with the technical issue of being over my vassal limit.


A bloodless coup is always the best kind of coup.
Robin must be awfully proud of himself at this point. From lowly bandit, all the way to High Chief is a road not often traveled.
Yes, as I said, was happy they all accepted the revocations without protest. Robin and the Merry Men have done well under both Kings they served, and Robin gets a nice retirement home and legacy for his family. He has become downright respectable after starting life as an outlaw.
 
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Dunaden

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@Dunaden, thank you for writing this wonderful tale that I am enjoying immensely. I have several questions if you do not mind. How did you choose Merya? How far ahead of your writing do you play? Do you have a particular end goal or are you going where the game leads? Thank you for reading, have a good day and be safe.
Hi @Midnite Duke, welcome aboard, so glad you are liking the adventures of the Kardaz and his descendents. Ultimately, I chose Merya because of Kardaz, seeing a cowardly High Chief ruling a warrior society which sparked the initial scenario in this AAR. But I didn't know of him before hand, I was just wanting to play a tribal game, but not another Norse game. I wanted something that would start off with little to no contact with the Catholic feudal states for awhile. So I was looking at Africa or Russia. But I didn't like how restricted your expansion was in Africa with so many sections impassable, so went to the northern forests and started looking at different rulers, until I found Kardaz.

For this game I've held back and been able to keep from playing ahead more than 20 to 50 years. Enough to know who will be important in the near future. Once I get close to 50 years ahead I find myself focusing too much on the current characters situation and having to remember I still need to write about their predecessors and their earlier situations.

I don't have a particular end goal, mainly following where the game leads, but I do have a couple ideas, depending on where the game goes, or if I decide to nudge it i that direction, on how I might end it.



Uncle Parush is someone that badly needs to "straighten up". Perhaps some time on the rack would help. Do you use the day of the month to help determine paternity? Going by county emblem, I would say Chief Kardaz of Kostrama's ship had sailed. (I am on comment #195)
Erziya's punishment for Parush 'the Lecher' was fitting. Parush spent so much time enjoying the company with other men's wives, Erziya decided he would spend the rest of his life in a dark hole with no company at all.

The game gave hints that Sealgga had been unfaithful, but I did use the console command to check the paternity of Erziya's children and confirm that Parush was the guilty party in the three questionable pregnancies.

The former High Chief of Murom had proven he was unfit to to protect and rule over his his people, so Erziya stepped in and took charge.
 
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From a long break of being active I have started reading this again. Good move :)
 
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Dunaden

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961 – 962 The Liberation of Minsk

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961 – 962 The Liberation of Minsk


The Council of Merya was in session.



“With your actions against the Lettigallians, the independence faction has disappeared within Merya.” Nuyaksha paused, glancing at High Chief Wayngachi of Zavarot, the only former member of the independence faction who still retained his lands and titles. Wayngachi seemed to shrink a little. “Also, the faction to install Chief Tul as King has also collapsed following one of its most powerful supporters leaving.” Wayngachi was looking decided uncomfortable, as he was a former supporter of Tul as well.

He spoke up, “My King, as I am sure you can understand, I was lured into these factions shortly after my sudden and confusing rise from being a simple Chieftain to becoming the High Chief of Zavarot

War Chief Ozheg scoffed, “Confusing? You conquered Zavarot and usurped the title.”

Wayngachi ignored the Hero, “I was led astray by the more experienced Chiefs into joining their factions. But as I became more familiar with your rule, I, of course, withdrew my support from these misguided endeavors. To show my gratitude for your forgiveness of my earlier transgressions, I was thinking we could construct a monument in your honor, here in Yaroslavl. To show all what a great ruler you are.”

The rest of the councillors started to mock him, but Syrka waved them down, “A monument, you say? Yes, go ahead, I would be interested to see that.”

Wayngachi sighed in relief, “Of course, it will take about a year, to put something together. Thank you for this opportunity to show my appreciation.”





Nuyaksha interrupted, “As I was saying, the collapse of these factions leaves only one small faction left, a faction that is wanting Chief Viryay of Kholm to replace you as King. This is led by High Chief Parush of Veliky Ustug, and has little support.”

Mastorava spoke up, “He is young and of little threat, and he just married a beautiful wife, Ngeva 'the Heavenly', so may soon forget all about this idea of playing kingmaker. But we shouldn’t do anything against him, this existing faction can be used to expose others who are unhappy with your rule. I would recommend doing something small to let him know you are taking note of him, but nothing threatening, maybe even a small honor to make him think you want to appease him, build up his ego.”

Nuyaksha replied, “We could award him some honorary title, say Master of the Bow.”

Syrka nodded, “That seems fine, do that.”




The Council then tok care of a few additional promotions, filling two empty commander spots, with a warrior named Ovtay and High Chief Salinder of Nidaros. And then filling three empty Elder seats. The War Chief and Syrka’s father-in-law Ozheg was given one, High Chief Tylze of Tver given one (though he was comatose and not expected to live much longer, but his family would appreciate the honor), and Nuyaksha Toke was given last spot.

Mastorava informed the council that Shindyay Kezhevatid is new Chief of Smolensk following death of his brother Pokshayka from depression. And that the boy High Chief Folki of Iceland or his regent, was trying to subjugate King Tyke 'the Usurper' of Vestlandet, a Germanic King.

The Council of Merya then decided Diviner Are would be sent to Lukoml to try and convert pagans in the newly conquered territory.

Finally, the talk turned to the continued revolt in Khazaria, where Tarkhan Bihorid was leading his revolt to claim Khazaria against Khagan Bihor II, the revolt had made little progress and was still evenly matched against the Khagan.

Ozheg said, “We should do more to take further advantage of Khazarian Revolt.”

Nuyaksha pointed out, “We have a truce with Tarkhan, so we would have to take on Khagan Bihor directly.”

Syrak asked, “Where would we go after him?”

“I think we should continue to consolidate our holdings in the west and concentrate efforts here”, Ozheg said, pointing at the map, “Minsk.”

Syrka nodded, “It would remove the threat from the west, eliminate most Khazar influences north of the Pripyat River.”




The Council was soon in agreement and with that Merya would begin attacking Khagan Bihor II of Khazaria in the Liberation of Minsk. All vassals were willing to join fight except Nidaros and Iceland. Syrka would be sitting out the war in Yaroslavl, at least initially, as he was undergoing another round of treatment for his gout. Naruchad Koshelid, one of Ozheg’s most promising young commanders, would be leading the first scouting parties into Minsk as the rest of the warriors began to gather in Lukoml.






Initially, King Syrka received regular reports from the front. Commander Naruchad spoke of a few small skirmishes near Minsk and in Vilnius. Then War Chief Ozheg took over the reporting as he and the allied forces had caught up with Commander Naruchad near Minsk and together they had successfully captured the village. Soon gold and prisoners from Minsk arrived in Yaroslavl.







This was followed by news of the successful siege of Vilnius and then a brief skirmish outside of Beresty, soon followed by the report of the capture of Beresty as well. Things seemed to be going well, but then the reports stopped coming.







Syrka was too busy to notice at the moment. He was dealing with issues in Yaroslavl. First, he had become involved with the large building project that was expanding the markets along the Volga River in Yaroslavl, hoping to increase his profits from the river trade. So he was spending a good portion of his day down in the market watching the construction of new stalls and warehouses, as well as expanding lodging for traders.




And then his Steward, High Chief Wayngachi unveiled the monument that he promised to build in Yaroslavl. Wayngachi's monument to Syrka is basically erotic art, showing a man and a woman having crude sex. Syrka was not from a big town like Yaroslavl with all of its decadent ways, but he was sure that that was not approiate for the town square. So Syrka immediately ordered the monument be removed. He even considered firing Wayngachi as Steward, but he reconsidered as he learned, despite his poor taste in art, Wayngachi was actually doing a good job as Steward.





Syrka was so disturbed by the monument, he even foregoes women for a time. So, he was taken by surprise and became suspicious when a a short time later his wife, Queen Pokshava, announced she was pregnant. Was that possible? Had it just taken her longer to realize she was pregnant than it had previously? Or had she succumbed to the decadent ways of Yaroslavl and taken a lover. He sends a maid to investigate, but she claims that his wife appears innocent.




But even that was pushed side when Mastorava of the Wilds is murdered. She didn’t die easily and her attacker was wounded and soon captured. He revealed before he died of his wounds that he had been acting on orders of High Chief Parush 'the Careless' of Mari, the last survivor of the original assassination plot against Syrka. Was Parush still trying to cover up his role in that plot? Or had Mastorava uncovered his involvement in a new plot?




But despite Mastorava’s role as spymaster and her personal importance to Syrka, being the first person to support him when he arrived in Yaroslavl, she was still only a commoner. He could not arrest a noble of Parush’s standing based on just the word of a dead assassin.

High Chief Parush actually had other problems, he was currently defending against an internal revolt led by Chief Tyushten of Kezhenets to replace Parush with a new High Chief. This revolt may have been instigated by Parush executing the previous Chief of Kezhenets.




All Syrka can do is send his new Spymaster, the Venerable Elder Nuyaksha Toke, to Mari and remind High Chief Parush of the obligations he owes to his King. Parush is quick to thank Syrka for the reminder and promise to stay out of any factions against the King. But Nuyaksha also learns there may be a plot against Queen Pokshava and her unborn child. Is this why Mastorava was murdered? Was Parush acting against his family this time? Or is this related to Syrka’s suspicions that Pokshava had taken a lover? Was her lover trying to cover up his treason?





So Syrka was already unhappy and worried even before he finally received news from the war front.

The Meryan warriors and Khazar horde had fought the first major battle of the Liberation of Minsk, but the Battle of Vilnius had gone very badly, because despite his troubles, Bihor II was still the son of Bihor the Wolf, and the Meryans are slaughtered, losing 10 men for every Khazar they managed to kill. The Meryans had gone into battle confident as they had the larger force, over 5,000 men more than the Khazars, but it had not been enough. 6,000 Meryan warriors were dead, including Syrka’s father in law and War Chief, the Hero Ozheg Artid, who had suffered a blow to the head and was carried from the field, only to die a few days later.





The Meryan army had retreated and tried to regroup in Beresty, but the Khazars gave them no opportunity to recover and another 4,000 Meryans had been slaughtered. The Meryan army was scattered and broken. Yet surprisingly, the Khazar horde didn’t follow up on their victories and free the villages that the Meryans had captured earlier, instead they immediately returned east to continue fighting Tarkhan's rebel Khazars.




Syrka had to first break the news to his pregnant wife, who was already having a difficult pregnancy, that her father was dead. Despite his suspicions of her fidelity, she was his wife of 20 years and the mother of his children and he did what he could to comfort her. Then he called High Chief Robin out of his retirement and made him the new War Chief of Merya.





But it would be six months before they could mount a new fighting force and return to the war.
 
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I did not see that defeat coming.
 
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Ooh. This has been a harsh reversal for our King after his brilliant success with the Lettigallians.
 
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generalis Julius Caesar

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ouch, that was a painful defeat I did not see coming. P.S. I love reading this again, great writing as always :)
 
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Midnite Duke

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Comment #472, Is the marriage between cousins on you or total AI? I recently played as Dvina that morphed into Georgia where the AI incest got wild. The Chief of Kuloy married his aunt. The new Kuloy chief (dad died young) married his cousin (daughter of mom's twin, the High Chief of Bjarmia). While I was playing as the Chief of Dvina, my family in Georgia (wife was Duchess of Tao and kept four children with her, two of my sisters married into Georgia) got fully aboard the murder/incest train. My wife murdered my sister, wife of the neighboring duke. My sister on her epitaph id'ed my wife as her killer, but my wife received no malus. My daughter married her cousin (daughter of murderer married son of victim). Also, my third son married his aunt (twin of the murder victim). The first son married his step-daughter (at least not blood relation). The wives of the first and second sons were known murderers.
I find it is ironic that Dvina did not have port facilities, since it is home of the great White Sea port, Arkhangelsk. Thank you for reading and be safe.
 
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Oh my, that's not the kind of monument I would make to get forgiveness from my liege. Wayngachi either has terrible taste or is playing some sort of game, maybe Pokshava was seduced by his artistic choices?
I'm sorry to see Mastorava go so soon, Syrka will have to be extra thorough in watching his back now.
An unfortunate start to the war but I'm sure that Syrka will have the chance to avenge himself despite the Khazars' reluctance to collapse.
 
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Midnite Duke

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I am caught up. @Dunaden, thank you for writing the true history of the people of the reindeer. Was the largest factor in battlefield loss, the terrain? When the killer is id'ed in the victim's epitaph, but receives no malus, is this because the killer is a landed noble and the victim is unlanded? When the queen's baby is born, can you publish the birthdates (month and date) for child and his/her full siblings? Thank you for your time
 
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Dunaden

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I did not see that defeat coming.
Ooh. This has been a harsh reversal for our King after his brilliant success with the Lettigallians.
This definitely shocked Syrka as he didn't not have any issues in the Liberation of Polotsk fighting the Khazar rebels, so he was expecting something similar


ouch, that was a painful defeat I did not see coming. P.S. I love reading this again, great writing as always :)
Thank you.


A very worrying setback but Minsk must be taken, whatever the cost!
Yes, Syrka won't be giving up so easily.

The first three responses to the chapter voicing shock at the setback inspired me to add a brief history lesson at the start of the next chapter to inspire a little confidence.


Comment #472, Is the marriage between cousins on you or total AI? I recently played as Dvina that morphed into Georgia where the AI incest got wild. The Chief of Kuloy married his aunt. The new Kuloy chief (dad died young) married his cousin (daughter of mom's twin, the High Chief of Bjarmia). While I was playing as the Chief of Dvina, my family in Georgia (wife was Duchess of Tao and kept four children with her, two of my sisters married into Georgia) got fully aboard the murder/incest train. My wife murdered my sister, wife of the neighboring duke. My sister on her epitaph id'ed my wife as her killer, but my wife received no malus. My daughter married her cousin (daughter of murderer married son of victim). Also, my third son married his aunt (twin of the murder victim). The first son married his step-daughter (at least not blood relation). The wives of the first and second sons were known murderers.
I find it is ironic that Dvina did not have port facilities, since it is home of the great White Sea port, Arkhangelsk. Thank you for reading and be safe.
I chose Parush's first wife, but when she died the AI arranged his second marriage and chose his niece. The AI is often basing marriages on spouses wth the most prestige, so if you family is doing well and accruing prestige, you start having them diving back into their own family gene pool.

The game is keeping anyone not Norse from having ships in the early starts. Plus Arkhangolsk didn't exist yet.


Oh my, that's not the kind of monument I would make to get forgiveness from my liege. Wayngachi either has terrible taste or is playing some sort of game, maybe Pokshava was seduced by his artistic choices?
I'm sorry to see Mastorava go so soon, Syrka will have to be extra thorough in watching his back now.
An unfortunate start to the war but I'm sure that Syrka will have the chance to avenge himself despite the Khazars' reluctance to collapse.
I'm going with the backwoods Nenets Chieftain with no taste, he is a warrior not a poet.

Mastorava was his most loyal servant and he will miss her.

As mentioned above, other Kardazid leaders have faced such set backs in the past, which will be discussed in the next chapter.



I am caught up. @Dunaden, thank you for writing the true history of the people of the reindeer. Was the largest factor in battlefield loss, the terrain? When the killer is id'ed in the victim's epitaph, but receives no malus, is this because the killer is a landed noble and the victim is unlanded? When the queen's baby is born, can you publish the birthdates (month and date) for child and his/her full siblings? Thank you for your time
Both Vilnius and Beresty are considered plains, so there was no defensive bonuses as they would get in the forests where they normally fight and horse archers, the bulk of the horde units are devastating in the skirmish and pursuit phases. So basicaly don't fight nomads in the open if you can avoid it.

I think people only get the known murder trait if they use an assassin and the assassin is caught red handed after succeeding in killing his target and then reveals names the plotter. Paursh doesn't have the known murderer trait after killing Mastorava so not sure how it is known he did. But either way I was taking a little poetic license in saying nobles can get away with murdering commoners, as I don't remember if I was actually given an option to imprison him for the crime.

The next child will be born to Queen Pokshava in January of 962 (I assume on the 13th based on the trends below ;) ).

For Syrka and Pokshava's other children

Tunya was born 13 May 946
Tutyra 13 April 950

These were both born before Syrka became King. After he was crowned, Queen Pokshava gave him three more sons

Ozheg was born 13 Dec 956
Kinyak was born 13 March 959
Viryas was born 13 April 960

Syrka's only legitimate daughter Sochava was born to his concubine Are Ridala on 2 July 955

His secret children with Badiat
Oshama was born 3 April 958
Robin was born 15 April 960
 
962 – 965 Liberation of Minsk (part 2)

Dunaden

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962 – 965 Liberation of Minsk (part 2)

Syrka was meeting with High Chief Robin of Turov to discuss the disaster last fall at Vilnius and the next step in the war for Minsk. I should have been there. Syrka thought, but he knew it wouldn’t have mattered. With his joints all swollen and painful with gout, he would have just died there with his father-in-law.

High Chief Robin, Syrka’s new War Chief, seemed to read his mind, “It seems every generation of Meryans must learn anew how to fight, and how not to fight, the Khazars. Ozheg had fought the Ashina in the eastern forests in his youth and won much honor and glory. And he also had success in the Liberation of Polotsk against Tarkhan’s riders in the forests of Lukoml. But he had never faced a nomad horde on their chosen ground, under the open sky. And there, on the open plains, such as those outside of Vilnius, the Khazar mounted archers reign supreme.”

“Most of the Meryan leaders have learned that lesson the hard way. High Chief Kubrat paid for that sword you wear at your side with the blood of 2,000 Meryan lives when he learned his lesson at the Battle of Zubstov. King Erziya ‘the Bold’ lost 6,000 men at the Battle of Izborsk and another 1,000 at Mstislavl defending Estonia from the Khazar horde. Though being the man that he was, he still snatched victory out of the jaws of those disasters. King Dergun ‘the Faceless’ learned that lesson while fighting alongside his father at Izborsk and was reminded of it every day after as he donned that mask to hide his disfigured face, courtesy of a steppe pony’s hoof. King Virdyan ‘the Usurper’ lost over 5,000 men to Khazaria at the Battles of Latgala and Liiviimaa, during the war for the Liberation of Pskov. King Nuyat….King Nuyat was the only one to master war on the steppe without a harsh lesson. He defeated the Ashina rebels on the border of the steppe in his war to claim Votyaki. After that he was smart enough to scoop up those who had escaped from Khazaria’s rule and not challenge the nomads again directly.

“Yet take heart, King Syrka, for despite those hard lessons, all of your predecessors ultimately won their wars. They learned, and so must we.”

Syrka smiled, “Thank you Robin, that is encouraging to know, even our greatest of leaders didn’t allow such setbacks to keep them from victory”

“So where do we stand?”

Robin nodded, “First, the Merry Men were hit hard, we lost close to a third of their number at Vilnius. What’s worse, because of Khazars close pursuit and second attack at Beresty, we were not able to recover their arms and armor, we suspect they are now decorating felt tents out on the steppe.”

Syrka asked, “What does that mean?”

Robin sighed, “That means, before that battle the Merry Men could field 2,200 men in full battle kit. Now, after these losses, the most the warband can field is some 1,600 men, unless you are able to pay to arm and equip new companies to replace those that were lost.




Syrka looked uncomfortable, knowing that many of the men who were lost had been with Robin for years, decades even. “We can’t afford the expenditure right now, but we will raise new companies in the future.”

Robin nodded, “In that case, we will have to make up the losses with levys, both your personal ones, as well as from your vassals and allies. But I think by the spring thaw we should have close to 10,000 men ready to march.”



All winter, while the new levys were gathering and the stragglers from the defeated army staggered back to the rally point in Vitebsk, life continued in Yaroslavl.

One of the former hostages from Latgale, Skornand Vidins, embraces Mordvin culture. Syrka tries to help settle an argument between High Chief Nuyaksha of Murom and his wife, but Nuyaksha does not welcome his interference. Varaka Kardazid and Cherava Meryvavid have a daughter Poshayka. A more civilized Khazar, the High Chief of Khozistan, wants non-aggression pact. After two embarrassing defeats at the hands of the Khazar, Syrka agrees. High Chief Nuyaksha of Mochkava, the current heir, is appointed as Commander to replace Robin following his promotion to War Chief. Malusha Kryvich is born and will be taught Merya's religion and culture.

The Udine clan continues to grow. A beautiful girl, Tekay of Udine, is born to Uchva and Liubava. And Viryas of Udine, comes of age, a master of diplomacy, a Grey Emminence, and he marries his betrothed, Zvenislava Kryvich.

Syrka’s eldest son had also come of age. Tunya Kardzid has become a tough-minded soldier, but was dull of personaily and fragile of body, not what Syrka hoped. Syrka’s second son, Tutyra, turned 12 years old and will be trained for war by High Chief Wayngachi. But more importantly to the King, he now has a sixth son, his seventh legitimate and acknowledged child, who is named Syrka, who had been born just after the new year began.





And far to the east, Perm has been looted by raiders.

Then the winter was over and the Meryan army had regrouped in Vitebsk and were once more moving to the Minsk area. After a brief skirmish in Slonim, Novogrodek is captured. All targets of the liberation war are now held by Merya.






But then there was an unexpected setback. The War Chief, Champion of Merya and High Chief of Turov, Robin, died a natural death at age of 70. The Meryan army has once again lost its leader. Luckily, this time it was not in the heat of battle, so adjustments could be made. Syrka chose High Chief Salinder of Nidaros as the new War Chief and he was sent west to take command of the war.




Robin’s son, Nuyaksha, becomes the new High Chief of Turov, and Syrka's lover Badiat is now High Chieftess, and Syrka's secret son, Robin, is heir to Turov. Before Badiat had left to join her husband in his new home, she had told Syrka she was pregnant again with a third child of Syrka's. Syrka had planned to visit Badiat during her pregnancy, but it was more difficult to arrange and justify as she was now in Turov with her husband. But before he could find a good excuse to visit, learns of some terrible news. Badiat has died of cancer and their unborn child has died with her. Syrka is forced to mourn and suffer alone as no one else ever knew of their affair, and he can’t risk a public display that might threaten the future of the two surviving children they had conceived together.






Under War Chief Salinder the Liberation of Minsk resumes. Slonim in Novogrodek falls in siege and then the Meryans head east toward more Khazarian territory. Chernigov is captured next. The wife of the Khan of the Tarmaçid was taken prisoner at Chernogov along with a dozen others, 5 are worthy of ransom. They are all sent back to Yaroslavl and negotiations for ransoms begin, starting with the Khanum.




Meanwhile, the Meryans have moved to Priluk, the main Khazarian encampment. It is quickly captured, but none of the Khagan’s family are taken prisoner. With no sign of the Khazar horde, the Meryans pull back to home territory for the winter.





That winter two Catholic missionaries arrive in Yaroslavl. The first is a man named Dytryk, from Poland, sent by King Jakusz, or his regency council anyway. As all the missionaries before him, he is quickly imprisoned. The regents of Poland refuse to pay his ransom, so he will remain in Syrka’s dungeons.

The second missionary to arrive is Bishop Iuan of Maelruusan in service to King Achiuir of Pictland. Bishop Iuan had come to Yaroslavl before, almost a decade earlier, but he is brave enough and dedicated enough to return once again try and convert the pagan people. He too is arrested. Once again, Bishop Iuan pays for his own release, and Syrka warns him to never to return. But the Bishop says he goes where King Achiuir 'the Brute’ of Pictland and God send him. Syrka also asks if he was willing to pay for his fellow missionay’s release, but Bishop Iuan refuses and leaves Dytryk behind. So much for Christian charity.






Tetyava the younger, daughter of Tetyava 'the Merry', returned to Yaroslavl following the death of her husband from Great Pox. Chief Tuure of Kemi, son of the late King of Suomi, was not a faithful husband and life in the last few years had been tough as the disease drove him mad. Their newborn son, Onni, was also afflicted by the Pox, and Tetyava was forced to abandon the boy when a new Chief claimed Kemi.

It was about this time that the Venerable Elder and spymaster, Nuyaksha Toke, dies from a disagreement with a meal. Syrka was in need of a new spymaster. Surprising many in Merya he chooses a young woman, Cherava Meryavid, the wife of the late King Nuyat’s son, Varaka and a new mother. She is strong and devious woman, not easily flustered and patient. But in a strange turn of events she only remains spy master for a few months. Unlike most of her predecessors, she is isn’t killed, she retires at the age of 23.





Not long after Cherava becomes spymaster, High Chief Parush 'the Careless’ of Mari, Syrka’s long-time rival vanishes without a trace. He is never found, and his fate remains a mystery. Syrka would have thought no more about it, other than being happy his enemy is finally gone. But in a surprising twist, Varaka, the husband of Syrka's new spymaster, is elected as the new High Chief of Mari and Syrka's spymaster, Cherava, is now High Chieftess of Mari. Did she use her new position as Spymaster to arrange Parush's disappearance? Syrka is not sure whether to thank her or arrest her. Either way, she has resigned her position and is on her way to Mari and Syrka once again needs a new spymaster. After looking through potential candidates for spymaster, he offers the position to Briachislav, the husband of Tetyava 'the Merry'. The Vohlynian, for all his skill at intrigue and his connections throughout Merya, was one of the most gifted and worthy men in Yaroslavl.





Syrka’s vassals remained busy with their own affairs outside of the war. High Chief Nuyaksha of Mochkava usurps Tynea and Perm from his Sunni vassal Biur. High Chief Folki of Iceland is under attack from High Chief Salindor over the Chiefdom of Nidaros. And Chief Erziya of Mozhaysk has one his own liberation war and usurped the Chiefdoms of Vorotynsk, Novosil, and Serpukhov from Pakstyan Velmaykid.





The war resumed in the spring, Upyte is taken from the Khazar rebels and more prisoners are taken for ransom, including the Queen Mother Ipek. Then Bryansk captured by Merya, and then Pochep is captured by Merya. There still has been no sign of the Khazar horde since the disasters at Vilnius and Beresty over two years earlier.

But the Meryans do have an ill-fated clash with Tarkhan’s Khazar rebels. The Meryan army and the rebels had met unexpexctedly at Karachev. While they were not technically at war and had a common enemy, they immediately are joined in battle. The Meryans actually had close to twice the rebel nunbers as the fight began, but by the end it was a close fought battle. Unfortunately, the Meryans break first and are slaughtered in the retreat, losing a costly battle that would have won them nothing. The survivors retreat north into the safety of the Forest.





Syrka releases the survivors and sends them home, and instead raises fresh levys to renew the war effort.

Then the Khazar horde has finally returns, and moves first to free its main encampment at Priluk. The Liberation of Minsk was going well, but the return of the Khazar horde may upset that progress. After the defeats at Vilnius and Beresty and their loss to the rebels at Karachev, Syrka is wary of meeting the horde in battle, but it looks like he doesn’t need to fear. The control of Minsk is key to victory and Merya has held it for over two years. But after the Khazar horde next frees Pronsk, they are still far from Minsk and they make no move to free Minsk or the rest of their lands. Their actions seem more angled toward improving their chances against Tarkhan’s rebellion, which has dragged on for close to 10 years, and the other two wars they are involved in. They appear to be ignoring Merya all together.




After consulting with the Council, Syrka sends an envoy to Khagan Bihor II to negotiate a peace between them. Minsk has been in Meryan hands long enough and the Khagan agrees to release it. The Liberation War for Minsk is over.


 
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Midnite Duke

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From my observations (no going to console), Queen Pokshava will probably die on the 13th of some month. This is the third time that I have seen an unlanded female name her killer in her epitaph but the killer does not receive any malus. All three killers were duke level. The first was in @Bullfilter's Rurikids. The female was the daughter of the emperor (also her father's spymaster) and was killed by a duke of her dynasty. The second was in a game of mine. The female was the wife of a duke and the sister of my character (count). I do not know if she was her husband's spymaster. The killer was a landed duchess (wife of my character). Can AI dukes kill unlanded females with impunity? Thank you for reading.
 
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slothinator

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It's sad to see Robin go after so many years.
It might be for the best that Badiat has gone rather than risking a serious feud with Nuyaksha.
I also never noticed how appropriate the heraldry of Turov is for the seat of the house of Robin.
Very worrying to hear about Parush's disappearance. A killing spree of this king would certainly swallow Syrka.
A lot of blood has been spilt for Minsk. I imagine that Syrka is going to want to lay low for a while before he engages in conflict again.
 
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