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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

generalis Julius Caesar

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Very nice, I wasn't sure you could win that one. :)
 
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stnylan

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The most curious thing is the disappearence. "A mystery never fully explained..." as it were.

The war was an altogether disagreeble affair, but done now. Until the next one. I think also - to me - this war makes the completion of Styrk's transition from unlikely candidate to full-fledged monarch.
 
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Robin's only regret must have been dying peacefully in his bed, for he was a mighty warrior.

His legacy lives on in his family, their lands, and in the defeat of the Khazars.
 
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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.
Interesting, not sure of the requirements to get the "known murderer" malus, hadn't paid much attention, unless my character got caught.


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.
Robiin had a long life and rose to great heights. Yes, I noticed the bow of Turov and liked that House Robin received it, it was serendipity.
Badiat's death does remove the chance for bad blood between Syrka and a powerful vassal.
Disappeances are usually associated with an evil cult, so it is worrying.
Yes, the next chapter has Syrka giving peace a chance and trying new things.



Very nice, I wasn't sure you could win that one. :)
It started ugly, but luckily Khazaria got had its ongoing revolt, and then had two more wars start along the southern border, so Merya and Minsk were no longer a priority.

The most curious thing is the disappearence. "A mystery never fully explained..." as it were.

The war was an altogether disagreeble affair, but done now. Until the next one. I think also - to me - this war makes the completion of Styrk's transition from unlikely candidate to full-fledged monarch.
Syrka was no unhappy to have his rival out of the picture, but he would have preferred to see a corpse, just to be sure. Syrka has proven himself in war by defeating Merya's greatest enemy, twice. So he is secure on the throne.


Robin's only regret must have been dying peacefully in his bed, for he was a mighty warrior.

His legacy lives on in his family, their lands, and in the defeat of the Khazars.
Robin had nothing more to prove. And luckily, he died without knowing Syrka was the father of all his grandchildren.
 
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965 – 967 Peace, Trade, and Far Horizons

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965 – 967 Peace, Trade, and Far Horizons

The Liberation of Minsk had given King Syrka a new vassal, High Chief Pukuveras 'the Unchaste' of Minsk, freed from subjugation of Khazaria. But it turns out Pukuveras, a Lithuanian, is a thoroughly disreputable man, who suffers from gluttony and paranoia, and is a kinslayer to boot. Syrka had no desire to deal with such a man. Luckily, Pukuveras is also a follower of the Romuvan Gods. So Syrka is free to continue his pogrom against foreign vassals and revokes the High Chiefdom of Minsk on religious grounds from Pukuveras. Pukuveras agree to the request, but for good measure Syrka revokes Minsk from him as well on the same grounds, stripping the man of the last of his lands and sending him south to Lithuania.

However, Pukuveras' one vassal was Chief Paksyut of Novogrodek, who is a different situation. Paksyut is a Mescheran, and a follower of Ukko, so he is allowed to keep his lands and titles and to swear allegiance to King Syrka and to Merya.








The Liberation of Minsk has also led to King Syrka once again appearing threatening to his neighbors, leading to the return of defensive pacts against Merya. The first brought to Syrka’s notice is King Dobrinya 'the Moaner' of Galicia-Volhynia and his new pagan defensive pact against King Syrka. Soon more would follow, but as Syrka has no immediate plans for additional expansion, the pacts can be safely ignored.

The War had ended during the winter and Syrka had enjoyed the peaceful winter and early spring, but then some bad news arrived that disrupted his peaceful routine. His former commander, Dergun of Udine, who had been granted the Chiefdom of Volkovysk in Turov, had died. While Syrka had not been especially close to Dergun 'the Ill-tempered', he was great friends with his son, Saksa of Udine. Saksa had been one of Syka’s closest companions for years. With Syrka’s reduced mobility due to his ongoing suffering from gout, it had been great to have Saksa at his side, keeping him entertained and telling him the local gossip and goings on throughout Yaroslavl. But with his father’s death, Saksa had become the new Chief of Volkovysk and would now have to leave Yaroslavl to take up his duties to both his people, as well as, to his direct liege, High Chief Nuyaksha of Turov.

While Syrka was sure Saksa would do well, he would miss his young friend. So he decided to give him a gift. Saksa had been married to Seyamka Velmaykid for over 10 years and she had not yet given him a child, so Syrka offers Saksa one of the prisoners that had been taken in the recent war, a young Khazar woman named Çeçki. Perhaps she could help him start a family.

Saksa thanks Syrka for the gift and asks one more boon, as a friend. Syrka agreed, but is shocked when Saksa asks only that Syrka take better care of himself and to change his eating habits, as Saksa won’t be there to look after him anymore. Syrka solemnly promises to at least try.






Before Saksa finally departs, Syrka remembers a rumor he had heard. After Badiat’s death, High Chief Nuyaksha of Turov had taken a new wife, Khatyako Ngayid, a Nenets girl, but it appears that the girl had not been as pure as had been reported. When she arrived in Turov, it was discovered she was suffering from the pox. While Nuyaksha had kept his promise and married the girl, he had banned her from his bed. Since Saksa was traveling to Turov, Syrka decided to have him escort a gift for Nuyaksha as well, a clean and healthy concubine, another Khazar girl. Syrka was feeling a little guilty that all of Nuyaksha’s children were actually his, and he hoped at least this way there might still be descendents of the great Hero Robin around in the future.




After Saksa departure, Syrka was feeling a bit lonely, but he finally decided to do something about it. First, he looked at his remaining prisoners, and chose the beautiful Liubava Vykantasovna of House Vidins as a concubine for himself. Liubbava was an older woman of 32, with two sons who had not had anyone willing to pay her ransom. She was a Severian woman, a follower of the Romuvan gods. Syrka hoped to she would keep him company and possibly teach him a little more of his recent foes.

Syrka also had a recent arrival in Yaroslavl, a noble warrior named Uzhara Uzharid appointed as commander of his personal guard. He would take on Saksa’s role as his eyes and ears to the local goings on in Yaroslavl and report back to Syrka.





And so, for a time, a period of peace came to Merya. People were still living and dying, but in the 12 years since Syrka was crowned, it would be the first extended period of time where he wasn’t fighting a war, putting down a revolt, or planning the next conquest. This was good as the Merry Men were still recovering and under strength and it would take some time for again reach their peak.

So, Syrka sat in his hall and listened to the news coming from his Kingdom.

A Buddhist missionary named Ipaos, sent by Khagan Ipa of Çepti arrived in Yaroslavl. While intrigued by a missionary from the east, in the end, Syrka treated him no differently than he had treated the Catholic missionaries and had him imprisoned. His Khagan refused to pay his ransom, so Ipsios remained in the dungeon for now.




Meanwhile, High Chief Tylze of Tver was murdered by Parava Varakid, though no one ever mentioned why. Tylze’s son, the current heir to the throne of Merya, High Chief Nuyaksha of Mochkava, inherited the High Chiefdom of Tver following his father’s death, making him one of the most powerful vassals in the Kingdom. He made Tver his primary title, styling himself High Chief Nuyaksha of Tver. Was he involved in his father’s death? And if so, should Syrka be worried that Nuyaksha might be just as impatient to inherit his crown as well? High Chief Nuyaksha's county of Perm was being raided. Syrka left it up to Nuyaksha to deal with the raiders, anything to keep him distracted.

Another vassal, Chief Surt 'the Bewitched' has also died from stress. His son Saksa claimed the Chiefdoms of Merya and Tikhvine.






Syrka’s son, 6-year Kinyak’s lessons will be focused on his heritage, perhaps he has the makings of a shaman. With his weak physique, he is not expected to be a warrior. His kinswoman, Rashida Kardazid, the youngest daughter of the late King Nuyat and his concubine, Asiya, is 17 years old and a bit crazy. Syrka decides it was time she married, preferably far from Yaroslaval. But for the moment, Syrka couldn’t find anyone willing to marry the deranged child.







Syrka’s revocation of the various titles had brought many of the dependents from those various Chiefdoms to Yaroslavl. Unfortunately, when he granted those titles to new chiefs, those dependents had not gone with the new titles, but remained in his home. But Syrlka was doing his best to make them fit in and hopefully become useful. To that end he was having all of the children indocrintated into the local culture and religion as most of them were Lettigallian or Ilmenian and followed the wrong gods. Slowly, but surely thie teaching were getting through. For example, 6-year old Trifon Kryvich had embraced Mordvin culture, no longer seeing himself as an Ilmenian. While Boleslava Kryvich and Sbyslava Vidins have both embraced the Suomenusko Gods, abandoning their former Slavic and Romuvan religions.




Syrka also had time to fill some posts within Yaroslalvl that had been left unattended. First a new healer was chosen, Chief Valto of Belo Ozero. He was said to be a man of great learning and no vices, someone Syrka could trust to help him with his health issues. The last years had seen the passing of many Venerable Elders. So Syrka honored a new batch of men with the honorary positions. These included the Nenets High Chief Nabtiko 'the Mule' of Zyriane, the Mescheran High Chief Vechkas of Velsk, one of Syrka’s commanders Ovtay, and finally Syrka’s spymaster, the Volhynian, Briachislav. This was a group of men with a wide range of experience who could provide the King with sage advice.





While Merya was at peace, other Kardazid Kings were under attack. King Khaireddin of Nenetsia is defending himself against High Chieftess Bjorg of Upland in her attemped conquest of Ingria. While the boy King Nalka of Estonia is facing High Chief Refil of Smäland in their attempted conquest of Liivimaa.




Another year passed and Syrka was feeling better, thanks to the better diet he stuck to as well as the care of his new healer Chief Valto. Life continued.

There was good news. Uchva of Udina and wife Liubava have a son they name Uchva. And a daughter was born to Kezhedey of Man and his wife Liga gata Vitebsk, named Kunava of Man. Syrka’s son Tutyra s came of age, a strong tactician, brave, ambitious, greedy, and humble. Truth be told, a better man than his older brother.

After a short betrothal Tutyra was married to Kordula Penikis, the bastard sister of Chief Gerden of Lyubech. While her low birth and her Lettigallian heritage was a concern, Syrka overlooked all that, as she was said to be a exceptionally gifted girl, a genius, they said. Chief Gerden delivered the girl to Yaroslavl for the wedding and the feast. During the feast a travelling poet entertained the happy couple. Syrka was impressed by his skill and invited him to stay as long as he liked and Syrka complimented High Chief Nuyaksha 'the Just' of Murom who had recommended the bard.




But the good was, as usual, balanced by the bad. First, Chief Valto discovered that Syrka's newest concubine Liubava had contracted the great pox, luckily before Syrka was infected. Not only had she cheated on him, she had put his health at risk. Syrka set her aside immediately and began looking for a way to get her out of his sight for good. Then Varaka Kardazid was forced to abdicate as High Chief of Mari, the title was given to High Chief Nuyaksha of Tver. Nuyaksha’s power and ambitions were continuing to grow. Syrka could do little as High Chief Nuyaksha had considerable support as heir to Merya.




Then Syrka lost another spymaster, when the Venerable Elder Briachislav, husband to Tetyava 'the Merry', died of cancer. Syrka was just happy that he hadn’t been killed in the line duty, indicating some horrible plot was brewing. Syrka turned to High Chief Nabtiko 'the Mule' of Zyriane, another venerable elder, as the new spymaster.

That death was followed by the death of Syka’s newest vassal, Chief Paksyut of Novogrodek who died of a heart attack. Paksyut’s kinsman Pakstyan became the new Chief. Unfortunately he is a Lithuanian follower of Romuvan gods. Syrka considers immediately revoking Novogrodnek on religious grounds, but doesn’t want to disturb the peace in Merya if Pakstyan refuses. There would be time to do it later.








The Torzhokid clan had some internal disputes, which led to Chief Orunza of Chlisselbourg usurping the High Chiefdom of Veps from his kinsman Viryay, but Viryay retained Chief of Torzhok.

Finally, an unexpected offer came for the hand of Rashida Kardazid, the mad daughter of the late King Nuyat. It seems that King Mordvinko of Vladimir had died of natural causes. High Chief Purysho of Pskov has inherited the Kingdom of Vladimir. This had resulted in the High Chiefdom of Pskov being pulled out of the Kingdom of Nentsia and becoming a part of the Kingdom of Vladimir, which severely weakened Nenetsia and almost doubled Vladimir’s strength.

Now the new King was asking for the hand of Rashida to become his new Queen. Syrka quickly agreed, glad to be rid of the mad woman. It was only later pointed out to him, after she was gone, that King Purysho was collecting claims and allies. Purysho's father Velmayka had been King of Estonia, giving him a claim on Estonia and now he had married Rashida who had claims on both Nenetsia and Merya itself. And as King Khaireddin’s full sister, Rashida provided King Pursyho with an alliance with Nenetsia.





With Syrka’s improving health he wanted to get out of Yaroslavl. He hadn’t left in 12 years except to fight in wars. He wanted to do something which didn’t include violence. Syrka's Steward, High Chief Wayngachi 'the Wise' of Zavarot provided him with an answer by asking if King Syrka wished to try his hand at trade. High Chief Wayngachi 'the Wise' had plan for a business venture, an expedition to open new trade routes. Syrka’s interest is peaked and he agrees.

Wayngachi explains that there would be some intial expenditures to get the venture off the ground, but he was sure they would make a profit in the end. The first thing they would need is a ship, not one of the riverboats used to ply trade along the Volga, but a proper oceangoing vessel, as Wayngachi plans to go west to the Britain to follow an opportunity he had learned of. Wayngachi mentions that he knows some pirates who could provide a ship for a very reasonable sum, if no questions were asked. But Syrka decides against that approach and provides the funds to purchase a ship outright.

When the news gets out, several shamans approached Strka and said they wish to join the expedition, to gain a better understanding of the wider world. Syrka reluctantly agrees to let them come, but only after they offer to pay their own way.





The expedition did not set off until the following spring, once the northern waters were free of ice. The expedition followed the Volga north to Lake Onega and then took the Svir River that connected Lake Onega to Lake Ladoga and finally sailed out into the open waters of the Gulf of Finland. From there they sailed west through Norse infested waters until they reached the North Sea. Then they first headed north along the coast to Merya’s territories of Nidaros, taking on supplies and a pilot who knew the waters around Britain. Then they began the long voyage across the North Sea to the shores of Britain. Their pilot guided them to Thames and they sailed up to London. From there, they went overland to meet with the independent Earl Aethelraed of Bedford.

After a nights’ rest, the negotiations began. First, Syrka presented his host with a gift of fine cloth and thick furs from the Forests of Merya . Then the Earl invited the Meryan party to a feast. However, that almost ruined everything when the Earl was offended by High Chief Wayngachi's tables manners, but Syrka quickly smoothed things over by explaining Wayngachi was an uncultured Nenets barbarian from the edge of the Siberian wastes and was not used to such a fine place as Bedford. While Wayngachi looked unhappy, Aethelraed was appeased and things went smoothly for the rest of the evening.

In the morning, Syrka was able to head off another potential crisis when he breaks up a theological debate between one of the shaman and a local noble, before it escalates into violence, or worse, accusations of heresy.

After a week of hunting, fishing, drinking and eating, King Syrka and Earl Aethelraed finally conclude a trade deal. A Bedford-Yaroslavl trade route is established. This will bring wealth to Yaroslavl for the next 30 years. Syrka gains considerable gold and prestige from this deal, immediately offsetting the cost of the ship and the expedition and leaving him with a tidy profit. High Chief Wayngachi of Zavarot, the steward is also rewarded for his part in expedition, helping alleviate his hurt feelings from the feast.




As they set sail for home, Syrka remarks to the pilot that he has probably traveled further west than just about anyone in his Kingdom, and he is shocked when the man laughs in his face. The pilot quickly explains, “My King, you have not even traveled west of the borders of Merya, your vassal High Chief Folki holds Iceland, which is far to the north and west of where we are now.”

Syrka is shocked to realize just how far his Kingdom truly stretches.

 
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generalis Julius Caesar

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Quality work as always. I loved the ending btw.
 
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slothinator

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Hindu Pechenegs! Why there has to be some interesting story there. But as ever, Syrka clings to the old ways
Nuyaksha doesn't appear to have much of a kingly temperament but he might indicate a return to more martially skilled Kardazids.
An unfortunate time for King Khaireddin, defending against invaders and losing half his kingdom to inheritance. Hopefully, his new brother-in-law will help with the war.
Merya has really become massive and true lord of the divided North.
 
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Yes Merya is a really strung out affair these days. Some "rationalisation" of the borders (not looking at the neighbours - honest!) seems inevitable at some point.

I mean there are some potential clouds here and there, but generally this update has a positive, almost upbeat tone (unless you are trying to spread your own faith to Merya, in which case this update is unsurprising in their lack of religious curiosity ;) )

I have the Meryans never abandon their faith.
 
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Dunaden

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Quality work as always. I loved the ending btw.
Thank you. Land wise Merya is huge and then you add the distance to Iceland and it's hard for some backwoods boy like Syrka who grew up with the horizon limited by the forest, to understand the shear size of his realm.


Hindu Pechenegs! Why there has to be some interesting story there. But as ever, Syrka clings to the old ways
Nuyaksha doesn't appear to have much of a kingly temperament but he might indicate a return to more martially skilled Kardazids.
An unfortunate time for King Khaireddin, defending against invaders and losing half his kingdom to inheritance. Hopefully, his new brother-in-law will help with the war.
Merya has really become massive and true lord of the divided North.
I haven't delved too dep into the Hindu Pechenegs, was just surprised any Hindu showed up. But Syrka is consistent in his treatment of all missionaries. Nuyaksha may not have the temperament, but he is already ruling a land bigger than a lot of the neighboring Kings.
Khaireddin is not helped by his new brother-in-law.


Yes Merya is a really strung out affair these days. Some "rationalisation" of the borders (not looking at the neighbours - honest!) seems inevitable at some point.

I mean there are some potential clouds here and there, but generally this update has a positive, almost upbeat tone (unless you are trying to spread your own faith to Merya, in which case this update is unsurprising in their lack of religious curiosity ;) )

I have the Meryans never abandon their faith.
The ambitions of Merya's vassals have pushed the borders both east and west. but that expansion is bringing Merya closer to some powerful enemies as the buffer states in between are swallowed up. But some interesting developments closer to home will change things up.

If they abandon the Gods of the Forest, can they remain People of the Forest?
 
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968-971 King Nalka ‘Ironside’ of Estonia (the first Estonian War)

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968-971 King Nalka ‘Ironside’ of Estonia (the first Estonian War)

Syurka returned to Yaroslavl from the trade expedition feeling pretty pleased with himself and what they had accomplished. He made sure High Chief Wayncachi received money and recognition for the part he had played in organizing and guiding the venture. But as he was rewarding Wayngachi, he realized there was a bigger debt that he still owed.

He called for High Chief Nuyaksha of Murom as soon as he arrived back in Yaroslavl.

Nuyayksha looked nervous as he entered the throne room. Syrka didn’t know what was bothering him, and didn’t realy care, “Nuyaksha,“ he said to the Vice of Merya “I have been thinking about debts and obligations and …”

But before he could go any further Nuyaksha dropped to his knees and cried out, “Forgive me, my King, I swear I never actually supported any of the factions. “ Syrka was too stunned by the outburst to say anything, so Nuyaksha continued in a rush, “ Chief Orunza is delusional, putting himself forward as King. And Khaireddin is a fine young man, but he has his own Kingdom and seems at times overwhelmed by that, putting him on the throne of Merya as well would be too much him. And, of course, you are doing a fine job as King. And independence, that is even crazier. My lands of Murom border Khazaria, if I became independent, they would swallow me up in a heartbeat. Even now Murom is plagued by raiders, if I was outside of Merya’s protection, it would be a full-scale invasion. I swear I am not and will not support any of the factions conspiring against you.”






Syrka was at a loss, finally, he said. “Um, very good. Glad we settled that. Another thing I wanted to talk to you about was Estonia.”

“Estonia?”

“Yes, how is the boy, King Nalka, doing?”

Nuyaksha regained his composure and thought for a moment, “Well he’s no longer a boy for one, I think he is 17 or 18 now. But things are not going well. High Chief Refil ‘the Brave’ of Smäland has almost forced Nalka to surrender Liivimaa in his attempted conquest. And now King Juvage of Lithuanian is attemping to subjugate all of Estonia, and has seized several of the Estonian villges already. And I think there is another Chieftain trying to take some of more of his land.”





Syrka nodded, “So we will have to act fast, I want you to offer King Nalka assistance in his wars, starting with the most pressing one, Smäland. “

Nuyaksha rose to his feet, “Of course, right away.” He hesitated, “But may I ask why?”

Syrka frowned, “I could say that we owe it as kinsmen to support our cousin, King Nalka, to show the world that the Kardazids are united against foreign invaders. Or just say we are supporting others who follow the Suomenusko Gods.”

Nuyaksha nodded, “Both are noble sentiments.”

Syrka continued, “But truthfully, I owe his mother a debt that I need to repay.”

Nuyaksha looked puzzled, then he said, “The witch?”

Syrka scowled, “Mastorava of the Wilds came to my aid when I first arrived and helped me avoid a plot on my life. And she continued to aid me right up until the day she was murdered in my service. Helping her son is the only way I have to repay her.”

Nuyaksha looked properly contrite, “Of course, King Syrka, I will send a messenger to King Nalka immediately, offering Merya’s aid against his enemies.”

Syrka stopped him, “Wait, it is not enough.”

Nuyaksha turned back, “What do you mean? Going to war for him is not enough?”

“No, it is not.” Syrka said. “I owe her my life. Defending Estonia to protect the Kardazids and to protect the Gods is something I should be doing anyway. Merya has done it before. I can’t do something I should be doing and cal it paying off a debt. No, it must be a life for a life.”

Nuyaksha waited, “My King?”

Syrka looked up, “You will also offer King Nalka the hand of my only daughter, Sochava, to be his wife.”







While bands of Meryan warriors began to stream westward in anticipation of King Nalka accepting the offer of aid, Syrka caught up on the other news from the months he had been away.

Uchva of Udina, Saksa’s cousin, and his wife Liubava had a baby girl they named Cherava and Liubava is already pregnant with another child. One of the young refugees, Trifon Kryvich, had embraced the Suomenusko Gods, while Boleslava Kryvich has embraced Mordvin culture, and a third Kryvich, Malusha, has embraced both the culture and religion of Merya.

There are new rulers in Izborsk and Vologda. Chumbulat of Man has replaced his older brother, who had taken ill and died, as Chief of Izborsk. And Deryab Kardazid has usurped the High Chiefdom of Vologda from Chief Pokshayka of Kostroma. Meanwhile, High Chief Nuyaksha of Turov has attacked young King Jakusz of Poland and swiftly won a war of conquest and usurped Grodno from Przemyslaw Kujawski, expanding Merya’s borders further west.









Wayngachi ‘the Wise’ received some disturbing news, it seemed his people did not like his prolonged absence from Zavarot, first the time he had spent in Yaroslavl as Syrka’s steward, and then the extended absence on the trade expedition to Bedford. Wayngachi returned to Merya to find he had been replaced as High Chief of Zavarot by his son, Vesei. The lands he had conquered were stripped from him by his scheming son and vassals. Wayngachi took the gold that Syrka had rewarded him and disappeared. No one knew whether he would use it to plot his return to power, or to enjoy a comfortable retirement. This left Syrka without a steward, so he turned to his eccentric uncle, Chief Kezhedey of Vladimir Volynsky, to join the Council as Steward of Merya.






To the south, the Khazarian Revolt still continues, and Syrka's truce with Tarkhan of the Khazarian revolt will soon expire. It is hard to believe that the revolt has lasted over 10 years. Chief Mänäs of Burtasy took advantage of the continued chaos in Khazaria to declare his independence, further weakening Khazaria.




And just beyond Merya’s southwestern border, High Chief Voislav 'the Just' of Red Ruthenia has led his people to abandon the Slavic Gods and become Shia with the support of his neighbor, Caliph Zeyd II Fadlid. This adds another religion into a region that is already overflowing with competing religions. The Shia faith joins the Catholic, Slavic, Romuva, Norse, Tengri and Suomenusko Gods in their competition for the devotion and worship of the local people.




As soon as Merya received word of King Nalka’s acceptance of aid, they crossed the border into Estonia and fell upon the the unsuspecting Smälanders. They hit them first at Gaujiena, 8,900 Meryan and Estonian warriors against the 3,500 Swedes driving them south with heavy losses. The Meryans descended on Livs to free the village from the enemy garrison. It was spring by the time the siege was over and the Smälander army had returned laying siege to Liivimaa. They were quickly routed was routed. Another 1250 Meryans skipped the battle and stayed in Läänemaa to free the rest of the area from the Smälander garrisons.

With the Smälanders again driven from Estonia, the Meryan warbands withdrew across the border into Talava to wait for their return. They did not want to be a burden on the wartorn Estonian people and could be better supplied in Talava.

Two months later, the Smälanders returned and the Meryans crossed into Estonia again and met them at Gaujiena. 500 Smälanders were killed, while the Meryans lost only 42 warriors. Plus, one of the enemy commanders, Eskild of Werben, was captured in the battle by the heroic efforts of a warrior named Pokshayka Kreuzburgid. Pokshayka would soon join Syrka in Yaroslavl.




In Yaroslavl, Syrka had become a grandfather as his grandson Shkay Kardazid was born to his son Tutyra. Syrka’s son Ozheg turned 12 and Syrka decided he would receive a martial education similar to his namesake. Syrka’s concubine and diviner, Are Ridala, also announced that she was pregant.

Liubava gave birth to a son, Nuyaksha of Udine. And Chitska Yaroslavlid came of age, Mastorava of the Wilds’ only daughter. Syrka was paying back part of the debt he owed Mastorava by supporting her son Nalka, but he must not neglect her daughter, who was cheated out of her Kardazid birthright because she had been born after her father King Nuyat’s death. He hoped to find her a good marriage some day soon.

Syrka also learned that High Chief Folki of Iceland had been murdered, making his 10-year old nephew, Borkvard, High Chief of Iceland. Remembering from his voyage how distant Iceland was, Syrka decided to take the young High Chief on as his ward, to try to bring this distant vassal closer to Merya and also wean him away from his Norse and Germanic upbringing, make him a good Mordvin vassal.




Just after the new year another battle was fought against the Smälanders at Narva. This one was even more of a slaughter than Gaujiena. Only 7 Meryans died, while over 500 Smälanders were killed. The Smälanders were on the run, and the war was going well.

While Merya had been guarding Estonia from the Smälanders. King Nalka and the Estonians had gone south to take the fight to their other foe, the King of Lithuania and his war to subjugate all of Estonia. Nalka had driven the Lithuanian armies before him and laid siege to Zemgale, soon capturing it. His efforts and habit of leading his men into battle, yet emerging unscathed, soon earned him the nickname Nalka ‘Ironside’.

But a new threat had arisen against Estonia, another Norseman, the High Chief of Skane, had launched his own attack on Estonia. With the Meryans chasing the Smälanders and the Estonians fighting in the south against Lithuania, the Scanians were able to establish a beach head at Läänemaa virtually unopposed.

But two pieces of news would distract Syrka away from Estonia’s troubles. The first had little effect on Merya, but was of great interest to the most of the peoples to the west. Kaiser Ferdinand of the Holy Roman Empire was slain in battle by Mayr Assur of Marvejols. This left the Empire in the hands of a new French Emperor, the former Duke of Dauphine, Chramnesind ‘the Frog’. The new Emperor was supposedly a brilliant strategist and a hardworking, decent man, but there were rumors that he would not be Emperor for long, that cancer was already eating away at him from the inside.





Of much greater importance to Merya was the second piece of news. In a stunning turn of events, Khagan Bihor ‘the Evil’ of Khazaria had abandoned the horde. The Yabghurnakh Clan that had led the Khazarian horde for over 150 years were simply riding away to settle in rich lands far to the south. Bihor ‘the Evil’ had declared himself Khan of Al Jazira and abandoned nomadic life to become a feudal king, establishing his capitol on the eastern shores of the Black Sea. He decided it was safer to hide in a stone castle than a felt yurt. With Bihor went all the heirlooms and trophies collected by Khazaria over the centuries. The horde would never recover from this loss of identity.

His abdication left chaos in its wake. The Khazarian revolt finally ended without a resolution as the target of revolt fled. The leader of the newest Khazar Clan, the Çatid, proclaimed himself Khagan Çat of Khazaria, claiming Khagan Bihor’s last act had been to pass the title to him. But not all the Khazars accepted this new self-proclaimed Khagan. In the northwest, the Itaid clan have followed Khagan Itakh, but they are weak and surrounded by enemies. A few other Chiefs and Khans declared their independence, including Chief Khuterkin of Syrt, as well as the Chief of Itil and the Tabarid horde and a few more minor Chiefs. Chief Mänäs of Burtasy no longer feared Khazaria trying to force him back into the fold.




But now there was the question, who would fill the power vacuum left on the steppe? Of the Khazar hordes, the Ashina were strong in the east and the Bulçir held a strong position north of the Black Sea. But in the middle was the Alan horde of the Sathisi who had been growing steadily stronger for decades, would they swallow up the remnants of Khazaria and become a new threat to Merya?

Many of Syrka vassals began clamoring for him to take advantage of the chaos in the south, but Syrka was already involved in the Estonian war and didn’t want to bite off more than he could chew. He preferred to wait for the dust to settle and see what emerged to the south. One vassal, Chief Pakstyan of Novogrodek, did not wait, he immediately attacked the weak Khagan Itakh of the Itaid in the Liberation of Lithuania. Time would tell if Syrka’s other vassals would also act on their own initiative to try and take advantage of the new situation.




There was another who saw the chaos to the south as an opportunity. The new King Purysho of Vladimir also chose to act. But he too took an unexpected direction. Instead of trying to carve out a piece of crumbling Khazaria, he saw the fall of Khazaria as the removal of a threat to his south, leaving him free to follow his ambitions northward. Soon after Khazaria broke asunder, King Purysho launched a subjugation war against King Khaireddin of Nenetsia. His warriors from Pskov quickly swept across the western portions of Nenetsia with little opposition.




While Syrka was not happy having the Vladimir armies crossing his lands to make war on Nenetsia, he did not interfere. Instead he left Yaroslavl and traveled to the war zone of Estonia. Escorting his daughter Sochava to her new husband. He timed his arrival well. The last of the Smälander forces had been defeated in a final battle outside of Kalevan and the Smälander Chief gave up on his conquest of Liivimaa. And King Nalka had forced the Lithuanians to accept a white peace, ending their subjugation war. After the wedding, Syrka gave King Nalka “Ironside” another wedding present, pledging his support to end the final war Nalka faced, and join him against the Scanian conquest Läänemaa.

 
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Midnite Duke

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That HRE is slightly over sized. I love how your daughter gets prestige for marrying into her dynasty. The best family trees are tangled like Spanish moss in a cypress tree.
 

generalis Julius Caesar

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Amazing work. Glad to see that the Horse Lords collapsed, that is on threat off the list for now.
 
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stnylan

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What a lovely mess - both in terms of the Horde and in terms of religion. Sounds absolutely delightful.

And so Styrka honours his debts. And mayhap is well rewarded for doing. I think his caution is wise.
 
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slothinator

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Estonia has become a terrible battleground for more than a generation now. I wonder how long it will take until the region is truly pacified.
It's good to see that Syrka still holds some loyalty to Mastorava even when she can no longer return the favor.
Good lord, I'd forgotten that the Fadlids were quite so massive. With Islam in the religious game up north, who knows what way the region will tip.
Khan Bihor has certainly made a bold move but I suppose that, with Khazaria's fortunes failing, it makes sense to move on to a new way of life.
Nenetsia is in terrible shape, will Syrka help them as well, or are fratricidal wars a different matter to Estonia?
 
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Dunaden

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That HRE is slightly over sized. I love how your daughter gets prestige for marrying into her dynasty. The best family trees are tangled like Spanish moss in a cypress tree.
It's been huge and stable for quite awhile, and they have been passing the crown around pretty fairly, no dynasty hogging it.

Nothing but the best for my little girl.


Amazing work. Glad to see that the Horse Lords collapsed, that is on threat off the list for now.
Khazaria is still adjusting to the sudden power vacuum, their internal issues aren't over.


What a lovely mess - both in terms of the Horde and in terms of religion. Sounds absolutely delightful.

And so Styrka honours his debts. And mayhap is well rewarded for doing. I think his caution is wise.
The horde continues to implode. And the Baltic coast is becoming the crossroads for the some major religions. I doubt they'll make nice with each other.
Syrka knows how much he owes Mastorava, and as the next chapter shows, he could use her now.


Estonia has become a terrible battleground for more than a generation now. I wonder how long it will take until the region is truly pacified.
It's good to see that Syrka still holds some loyalty to Mastorava even when she can no longer return the favor.
Good lord, I'd forgotten that the Fadlids were quite so massive. With Islam in the religious game up north, who knows what way the region will tip.
Khan Bihor has certainly made a bold move but I suppose that, with Khazaria's fortunes failing, it makes sense to move on to a new way of life.
Nenetsia is in terrible shape, will Syrka help them as well, or are fratricidal wars a different matter to Estonia?
Estonia's problems are all external, it seems everyone considers it prime real estate and wants a piece.
Mastorava served him well and was the only one he truly trusted. As I mentioned above, Syrka is missing her more than ever.
The Fadlids have been growing steadily in eastern Europe, as well as still holding everything they gained further south. Its been a few years since their last major expansion, are they due for another?
Khan Bihor is either a visionary who saved his clan, or a coward who ran away, history will decide.
Nenetsia is in trouble, under multiple attacks. But Syrka doesn't want to pick sides in any family squabbles, but he will eventually have to deal with the results of those conflicts.
 
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972-975 The Second Estonian War and Other Issues

Dunaden

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972-975 The Second Estonian War and Other Issues

King Syrka returned to Yaroslavl following the wedding. High Chief Salinder of Nidaros, Merya’s War Chief, and the rest of Syrka’s commanders would see to providing any aid King Nalka required in defending against the Scanians.

Chief Valto of Belo Ozero was waiting when he returned. Valto had come to call in the favor Syrka owed him for his generous gift he had given a short while back. To pay off the favor, Valto demanded a position on the Royal Council, specifically he want to become Steward. Syrka reluctantly agreed and was forced to fire his uncle, Chief Kezhedey of Vladimir Volynsky, from the Council. Syrka was not happy having to fire his uncle, not only was he family, he was also a much better steward than Valto will ever be. Kezhedey was not happy either, but over all he still liked his nephew and King and understood the dictates of politics.




King Syrka also returned to some sad news, his ward, High Chief Borkward of Iceland had been bitten by a dog and died frothing at the mouth. Syrka felt guilty as he had been the boy’s guardian and should have kept him close and protected him. Syrka vowed to do better and becomes guardian to Borkvard’s younger brother, the new High Chief of Iceland, Suni. Suni had already embraced the Suomenusko gods in imitation of his older brother, but still was Norse in culture. When High Chief Suni of Iceland arrived in Yaroslavl his regents had sent along a large donation to Syrka' war chest in return for a future favor for their young Chief. Syrka accepted the gift and swore to do better guarding the young High Chief.




A few days later, Syrka was admiring his newest grandson named Deryab, the second son of Tutyra and Kordula Penikis. Little Deryab appeared to be exceptionally gifted, already alert and active at such a young age. Bu the moment was interrupted by High Chief Nabtiko 'the Mule' of Zyriane who asked to speak with the King. Reluctantly, Syrka handed the baby back to his mother and asked the young family to excuse them, business of the realm and all that.




Nabtiko watched until they were gone and then closed the door. He turned back to Syrka and said, “There is a problem there.”

Syrka was confused, “A problem with the baby?”

His spymaster shook his head, “No, a problem with the mother.”

Syrka frowned, “What do you mean.”

Nabtiko replied, “There are always rumors of plots against you, plots to kill the King. Well I tracked down one such plot and discovered that the rumors are true.”

Syrka glanced at the closed door, “And this has something to do with my daughter -in-law?”

Nabtiko nodded, “Everything to do with her. She is the leader of this plot, and she is not alone.”

Syrka sighed, he liked the girl, Kordula Penikis was smart, attractive, and seemed to care for his son. Plus, she had already produced two fine grandsons, she was now tied to the family by blood. “Are you sure?”

Nabtiko nodded, “There is no doubt, I have intercepted correspondence between her and other conspirators, and found other clues that put her as the instigator and lead.”

“And who are these other conspirators?”

Nabtiko pulled out a scrap of paper which had a disheartening number of names on it. He began to read them off, “High Chief Parush of Veliky Ustug, High Chief Vesei of Zavarot, High Chief Çortah 'the Kind' of Latgale, Count Orunza of the Onega Peninsula, Chief Pakstyan of Novogrodek, and finally, High Chief Salinder of Nidaros and Bjarmia, the War Chief of Merya.”




Syrka thought, Chief Pakstyan of Novogrodek at least is understandable as the two of them share neither religion or even culture and Syrka had just recently conquered his land. But the rest, they have little excuse, some are even kinsmen. Why would they want him dead, only one of them could be King. And what tyranny was he raining down on them, that they felt he need to die?

Syrka looked at Nabtiko, “I’ll have a talk with the girl, and get her to end this nonsense.”

Nabtiko looked surprised, “You don’t want her arrested?”

Syrka shook his head, “I’ll give her a chance to do what is right. But I will want a copy of that list.”

Nabtiko nodded, “Of course.” Then he looked like he wanted to say more.

Syrka waved at him, “There is more?”

Nabtiko nodded unhappily, “High Chief Vechkas of Velsk is plotting to fabricate a claim on the throne.”

Syrka nodded, ‘So he doesn’t want to kill me, but does want to steal from me.”

Nabtiko nodded, “And he also has support.”

Syrka sighed, “Of course. Who?”

Nabtiko pulled a second slip of paper from his tunic, and cleared his throat, “There are less of them, but they all appear on the first list, the War Chief again, High Chief Salinder, and High Chief Veliky of Ustug, and Chief Pakstyan of Novogrodek.“




“So Vechkas at least doesn’t want to kill me, but his three supporters are trying everything they can to get me off the throne, whether killing me or stripping me of my title.”

Nabtiko nods, “So it would appear, my King.”

“Are there more?”

Nabtiko nodded unhappily, “There are dozens of additional plots, but those are the only two directed at you personally.”

Syrka spent the rest of the day going through the other plots his spymaster had uncovered, and seeing many more of his slips of paper. In the end, he ordered Nabtiko to do what he could to end the two dozen or so that that posed the most threat to the realm, either through the planned murder of Chiefs and their heirs or plots to lay claim to titles. Even after that there were close to 20 active plots that would continue, either initiated by people outside the realm, or lead by people with so much hate, they would refuse to abandon their schemes.

Nabtiko would be effective in getting most of those two dozen plots to be abandoned in the next couple months. Syrka personally dealt with the two plots targeting himself. After confrontations with both Kordula and High Chief Veckhas, they both begged forgiveness and swore to quit their plots.

While Syrka dealt with internal issues, the Scanian war continued. The Meryan armies were led by Commander Uzhara and Commander Naruchad Koshelid as High Chief Salinder, Merya’s War Chief, was too busy fighting his own war against King Khaireddin for Bjarmia to take part. The commanders freed several of the Estonian villages and temples held by the Scanians including the Temple of Livs, King Nalka's capitol of Kalevan, Narva, and the target of the Scanian conquest, Läänemaa. The only major battle was fought outside of Kalevan, with the Scanians driven off for a time.

Syrka also received some news from his neighbors and more distant foreign lands. King Khaireddin of Nenetsia, as well as defending against High Chief Salinder in the war for Bjarmia, was also still defeniding against the subjugation war of Vladimir.

Çat of Çatid reign as Khagan of Khazaria was short-lived, as the horde soon chose to replace him with Khagan Bulan II 'the Wolf' of Khazaria. His clan, the Yeçtirekid, now lead Khazaria. While the former Khagan, Khan Çat of Çatid is content to raid into Merya, attacking Mordva, others within Khazaria are not and Khazaria is soon torn apart by another revolt.

Emperor Chramnesind 'the Frog', the Holy Roman Emperor, is dead from the cancer that had been eating at him when he was crowned. The Duke of Brittany, Gundobad Chiemgaudson, is the new Emperor. This new Emperor shares Syrka’s affliction, he also suffers from gout.

And it seems that the Christian religious leader, Pope Clemens II, has declared a great Holy War on the the Sunni Sultan Sami of the Muhallabid Sultanate, calling it a Crusade for Egypt. Sultan Sami ruled a vast Empire, includng east Africa and much of Anatolia. Syrka had little interested in who would win the conflict, he was just glad the Christians were directing their ire somewhere other than his own lands.








But as interesting as the news of the outside world is, it is the plots and schemes of his vassals that keep drawing Syrka’s attention. Most of his vassals’ schemes and doings were above board, they were openly fighting wars and challenging each other for their own gain.

There were the vassals trying to expand their power by seizing land outside Merya’s borders, such as High Chief Salinder’s ongoing war for Bjarmia. High Chief Nuyaksha 'the Wise' of Tverhad had already subjugated Chief Çat'n of Chuvash, a chief who had become independent due to the changes in Khazaria, and he was now trying to force vassalization on Chief Uchva of Severnaya, an independent Komi chieftain on the eastern border of Merya. Meanwhile, High Chief Nuyaksha of Turov was attacking Khagan Tuzniq of Bulçir in the Liberation of Kiev. The High Chief of Turov is a Veteran in the followers of Otso and a brilliant strategist, so hopefully he knows what he is doing taken on a Khazar horde single-handedly. High Chief Nuyaksha of Turov had also inherited Grodno following the death of his vassal Chief Varaka. Chief Varaka of Grodno was a giant whose heart couldn't handle his size, his only child is Styaka Chumbulatid, the baby girl shows geat promise, but wan’t old enough to xlaim Grodno. She remains in the care of High Chief Nuyaksha.

Other vassals sought power within Merya. High Chief Orunza of Veps was killed by his brother Chipaz in a duel over Chipaz’s claims on his brother’s titles. Chipaz won the duel and claimed the High Chiefdom of Veps. He then survived a revolt by his kinsman, Chief Viryay of Torzhok, who was imprisoned. But Chipaz didn’t survive the next revolt as another kinsman, Tyushtya Torzhokid, usurped the High Chiefdom of Veps from him. Yurak Namid won another family squabble when he usurped the High Chiefdom of Zavarot from his brother Chief Vesei of Vym. Syrka was happy to see one of those who conspired against him unseated.

All the plotting within Merya had been making Syrka very uneasy and then in a four month stretch, a series of events would would make him downright paranoid. It actually started with some good news. The Meryan Chiefs had made Syrka's son Tutyra the new heir to Merya. And Tutyra and Kordula, had just given Syrka a granddaughter who joined her two older brothers. But Syrka happiness didn’t last long as he was reminded that Tutyra’s treacherous wife had plotted to murder him. Had this been the goal of her plot all along? To make Tutyra the heir and then kill Syrka?





Then High Chief Nuyaksha of Murom died peacefully at age of 52. His son, Saksa Yaroslavlid, is the new High Chief of Murom. A new Voice of Merya had to be found. From amongst a host of candidates, Chief Saksa 'the Shadow' of Merya and Tikhvine is chosen. There was nothing outwardly suspicious about how Nuyaksha died.




But then High Chief Salinder used a favor to get High Chief Nabtiko 'the Mule' of Zyriane to join his factions. So Syrka’s spymaster was now part of the independence faction that High Chief Salinder, Syka’s War Chief was leading. There was a second faction trying to unite Nenetsia and Merya under King Khaireddin, but neither Salinder or Nabtiko were part of it. Neither faction is yet strong enough to be a threat.




Syrka now had one brand new Council member, that he knew little about. He had two other Council members who were members of a faction that wanted to literally rip Merya apart, even if one had not joined willingly, the other one had also been part of a plot to kill Syrka. And a fourth council member, Chief Valto, had forced his way onto the Council, using a favor Syrka owed him.

At least, Chief Valto is doing a good job as steward, acting justly and pleasing the peasants. And Valto had helped relocate a strong Mordvin population into Minsk. Minsk had now become predominantly Mordvin, though the population remained largely Tengri. But Syrka was sad to learn that the man Valto had forced out, Syrka’s Uncle Kezhedey, had recently died from severe injuries. His son, also a Kezhedey, is the new Chief of Vladimir Volynsky.




Was his Diviner, Are Ridala, the only Councilor he could trust? She had just recently converted the population of Lukoml to the Suomenusko Gods. Though she had also received some bad news of her own. Her father had just died at the age of 70. Are was taking comfort that he at least saw his grandaughter become Queen of Estonia, a throne the Ridala dynasty had once held. And Queen Sochava and King Nalka 'Ironside' had just had their first child, a daughter named Sanal'ka, a gifted child, but sickly. Yet his other grandchild had been his favorite, Syrka’s 4-year old son, Inzhay.




Syrka’s worries over the the loyalty of his Council and the plotting were becoming all consuming. Only matters pertaining to his family seemed to distract him from that worry.

High Chief Nuyaksha's ambitions had gotten him killed as he died in the battle of Vozviahel against the Khazars. Syrka's secret son, Robin, is now High Chief of Turov, and has inherited Nuyaksha's war. But the Turov liberation of Kiev was doomed to fail and High Chief Robin II soon had to concede the war his 'father' had started.





And his son Ozheg is already 17, a skilled tactician, brawny, diligent, and ambitious. He comes to Syrka with his pet owl perched on his shoulder as always and asked about getting married. He has grown fond of Sbyslava Vidins, a former hostage now living in Yaroslavl, who has become a devout follower of the gods, shrewd, diligent, and well educated. Syrka agrees to the match and the two are soon married.




The efforts of Syrka’s vassals to expand Merya’s borders were paying off. Chief Varaka of Mozhaysk has usurped the Chiefdom of Vorotynsk from Kinyak Roslavsky, taking more former Khazarian land, land which needs improvements as the nomads had left it suitable only for grazing herds. High Chief Salinder of Nidaros has usurped title of Bjarmia from Malyy Tsuudit, taking the title from the beleaguered Kingdom of Nenetsia. And Chief Deryab ‘the Hunter’ of Pinsk has usurped the Chiefdom of Turov from Voislav 'the Just', a Shia Vohlynian. He also claimed the temple of Davyd -Haradok.

Bishop Uthoil of Maelruusan arrives in Yaroslavl, following the in the steps of his predeccessors to preach the gospel. He was sent by King Uuen of Pictland. King Uuen has been King for just two years, since his father’s death and he has already been excommunicated by the Church. He was hoping his missionary would succeed in converting all of Merya and help Ueun get back into the good graces of the church. Syrka can't be bothered, and has the Bishop imprisoned and held for ransom as soon as he arrives.




Then Syrka learns some devastating news, justifying all his concerns. His diviner, Are Ridala, the only Councillor he could trust, was plotting to kill him. There is no surprise that War Chief Salinder is backing the plot, but the other conspirator is the former heir and most powerful vassal in the realm, High Chief Nuyaksha 'the Wise' of Tver.




As Syrka’s rage grows, the ending of the Scanian-Estonian war is barely acknowledged, though the news that his levys are returning home is welcome. Because King Syrka ‘the Quarreller’ was ready to pick a fight.

 
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Syrka really is facing quite a few internal difficulties. These intrigues must be making for many an unrestful night
 
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generalis Julius Caesar

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This is not good. I would hate to be on the other side of Syrka's wrath.
 
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Poor Syrka, he is too good a man for the throne. I fear that mercy will not serve him well, especially now with Tutyra as heir.
I’m also confused as to why everyone has it out for him. Maybe they are angry that the puppet has lost his strings?
Having two ambitious sons is also not a great indicator of stability, I hope none of them will join in the myriad plots popping up.
Oh...oh dear. A council full of traitors and another plot on his life. Is this how Syrka snaps?
 
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Midnite Duke

First Lieutenant
Jul 20, 2017
231
177
Whoa! Two murder plots against the king. What is King Syrka's personal intrigue? Does anyone know how plot power is determined? My theory has the target's intrigue score as one of the largest factors. (I am semi-bitter. This week, I lost a zero intrigue ruler after one week on the job, due to suspicious circumstances.) @Dunaden, thank you for writing, be safe and happy.