• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


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Undead Martyr

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I think Expansion might be a better bet, actually, depending on how far we get with that one explorer. The CB is (almost certainly) better, plus the merchant + colonist. Though the naval forcelimits in exploration good, it's also very late.
 

varetta

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Yes, Influence + Religion is a great combo to assimilate conquered provinces. I buy it but...

- We have no Religion ideas, nor probably will have them for a long time.

- We have no vassals at the moment and I do not see why, at the pace that our conquest will probably have them (or not too much), instead of conquering directly the provinces.

- To conquer provinces we need to win wars first and our army now has problems to deal with all our enemies (as the fact of being fighting in Zagreb plus last wars shows) so first step should be to get strong our army, our navy and/or our economy (to hire mercenaries).

So my points stands there. We need military ideas, although I understand that military technology is also important and we have no infinite military points so I guess we´ll have to go with diplomatic ideas, where the blues will probably wish Exploration (or maybe Marine, who knows)
 

luciusmalfoy012

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Serpent, We also must not fall into the trap of meta-gaming. I was tryharding too much at the beginning and Czoklet told me off for it and he was right. We are not supposed to be min-maxing, squeezing every last drop out of our resources.

We ought to, and will, have petty fights, decisions based on ideology and hatred of other Senators, and cynical ploys to further a specific Senator's ambitions. We are not automatons.

Influence can be discussed, but the only tree I see us taking over Exploration is maritime, and that only if our navy gets uttrly Rekt by the Aztecs again.
 

Attalus

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Don't forget trade. There are many merchants out there so it's far from being unlikely ;)
 

Serpent

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No other two idea groups will do as much for our economy, stability and military power as Influence + Religion. We already have quite a lot of unaccepted Egyptian, Mongol and German provinces and even more accepted (but still inefficient) Italians. Assimilating them will strengthen us greatly. We do have vassals; Hungary, Tyrol (or was it Bavaria) and Moldavia. Aquitaine seems a distinct possibility in the near future, and Poland if we allow them to lose a few provinces in the current war. Influence will be useful in annexing them once they have outlived their usefulness. I would guess the total value of wrong culture provinces within our direct or indirect control to be about 200 basetax, probably more.
It's sadly true that we lack Religious ideas, which is why it should be the idea-group after the next. It will be a long-term commitment, but it will be worth it. The best thing we can do to strengthen our military in the short term is to simply buy military tech and continue filling up Quantity when we get any to spare.
 

Serpent

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Serpent, We also must not fall into the trap of meta-gaming. I was tryharding too much at the beginning and Czoklet told me off for it and he was right. We are not supposed to be min-maxing, squeezing every last drop out of our resources.

We ought to, and will, have petty fights, decisions based on ideology and hatred of other Senators, and cynical ploys to further a specific Senator's ambitions. We are not automatons.

Influence can be discussed, but the only tree I see us taking over Exploration is maritime, and that only if our navy gets uttrly Rekt by the Aztecs again.
That's true. But I'm keeping it dry so I won't be suspected of roleplaying outside the senate. In the senate I couldn't be talking about percentages, basetax or monarch points. And since my character is a bit of a fanatical madman he can't really be expected to argue rationally in a way that would convince anyone.
But no, you're right. We don't need to metagame this.
 

Zqrfmb

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the issue with diplo ideas is that most of them are probably a good idea;
trade will keep us funded, out of debt, and when we expand, we can get some more trading bonuses.
Influence is good-ish, not many nations to really vassalize and eat, but AE could cause the timurids and horde to unite against us, and all demands of the Imperium on inferior scum should be justified.
Maritime I've found to be very nice for anyone looking to fight large naval powers in the Mare Nostrum because you can repair anywhere in it.
Diplo gives us cheaper tech and all is benefits, a diplomat, diprep if we seek allies (nobody orthodox left to diplovassalize, so it's not as useful as it would be), cheaper war exhaustion cost (which I imagine will be useful), and the all-important province warscore cost, so that if we ever get an advantage over our foes, we can push it 20% harder in the peace deal.
Also, Espionage might actually help a lot if the positions of their troops can be known, because they all have large empires that could take months to cross. Also the timurids could easily have supportable nationalists/zealots/patriots in their eastern territories.
Then there's exploration, blah blah, such and such, colonies are good to have, naval force limits, many others have listed the benefits.
 

CzokletMuss

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Alright guys, one last sneak peek before the update which I'm going to spend a good chunk of this weekend writing:



 
Last edited:

Attalus

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Alright guys, one last sneak peek before the update which I'm going to spend a good chunk of this weekend writing:
I'm amazed by the fact you can still build an embassy with all the loans you contracted over the years :p
 

ThetrueColt

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Pisa seeking to reclaim Rome! Glorious!
I don't want to spoil your fun obviously heretical exclamations or anything, but wouldn't it be a conquest for the Pisans? Iirc, Saint Markos himself took the city from the pretentious bishop of Rome and not from the greedy merchants.

2.8% inflation? ouch.
This would only start to bother me if the amount of loans would be terrifyingly high.
 

Undead Martyr

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eliaspays

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Chernigov is independent? Interesting.
 

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drucchi

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Arquitaine survived!!!!! Praise iesos kristos.
 

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Fabricating claims on Roma, that's a huge casus belli - maybe not IG, but RP-wise, that something that can't be allowed and should warrant the harshest punishment.


Arquitaine survived!!!!! Praise iesos kristos.
That or it rebelled.
Wasn't the decision to actually ally with Aquitaine - in which case it means it was conquered first and then freed in a way or another? Or was it only alliance with Poland eventually?
 

CzokletMuss

The Emprah
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Apr 20, 2012
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CHAPTER 3
1480-1500
PROTECTOR OF THE CHRISTENDOM

”I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. (...) For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
- Psalm 91: 2-11


Momentous decision

The special session of the Imperial Senate, called by His Imperial Majesty in order to counsel him on the most dire matter – whether to answer the call to arms of Kristianoi from Kingdom of Aquitaine or not – did not bear fruit. Paralyzed by squabbling senators, the Imperial Senate was unable to advise His Imperial Majesty and so in the end delegates of the noble Houses decided to declare their support of whatever decision the blessed Autokrator was going to make. The failure to provide counsel didn't gone unnoticed by the enemies of the Imperial Senate. From the moment the ancient institution was restored by the sacred Emperor Markos III Angelos it was strongly opposed by both influential dynatoi Houses and powerful officials of the imperial administration who, having gained a strong argument for their cause, for years to come were working hard to undermine the authority of the Imperial Senate, already greatly diminished.

And so in the end it was the sole responsibility of the blessed Autokrator to decide the fate of Kristianoi from Aquitaine and Poland or perhaps even the whole Christendom. The Gordian knot had to be untied and His Imperial Majesty, unlike his subjects, could not ignore his duty. As Caesar Augustus of the Romaioi and all Men and Protector of the Christendom he had to face the terrible dilemma: whether to continue the most successful war against the Horde so far but abandon good Kristianoi to a terrible fate or to withdrawn from the East and face the Archenemy together with Christian Kings but risk everything.

Having spent the whole night on prayer, on 3rd January 1480 the sacred Emperor received the plenipotentiaries of king of Aquitaine on a long-awaited audience in Chrysotryklinos, the Golden Throne Room of the Sacred Palace...

Dawn, 15th February 1480
Tent of strategos of tagma Armeniakon, Kiev, lands of the Horde


A middle-aged man wearing uniform of the Imperial Army and a thick fur cloak on top of it sits beyond a table almost completely covered with maps and documents writing a letter. The tent lit up in the glow of candles is filled with chests, some of them opened. A armor stand and a weapon rack leave little place for a guest, should come any. Separated from the rest of the tent by a thin veil are a simple bronze mirror and an unmade bed covered with furs. Small fireplace barely manages to keep the tent above freezing temperature. Suddenly a man enters the tent and with him a cold wind and snow; he's also an officer of the Imperial Army but clearly of a lower lank. He takes of his gloves and salutes his superior with his arm hold straight, palm down and fingers touching. His breath is clearly visible in the cold air as he speaks.

KENTARCHOS DIMAS: Ave domestikos! Kentarchos Dimas, 12th kentarchia of 3rd tourma of 97th imperial tagma reporting for..
*domestikos waves at him*
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: We don't have time for this. I've received orders from domestikos of the East, Dimas.
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: I'm glad to hear that, sir! Sir?
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: No questions. We were ordered to – listen carefully – to abandon the siege and immediately march to the west. Near Polish border we shall meet with other tagmata and regroup, then we shall march towards Kar... Kraków.
*kentarchos opens his mouth wide open*
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: What is it, kentarchos? Are you deaf? These are our orders.
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: B-but sir, abandon the siege? The barbarians have almost surrendered, few more days and Kiev-
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: I know.
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: But surely the-
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: I said no questions. We are leaving, you hear me? No more fighting with the bloody Mongols, no more ambushes in the wilderness, no more frostbite and hopefully no more amputations.
*kentarchos stands with his mouth wide open*
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: But sir... Why? Why now? We can crush the barbarians, we can hit them harder than ever before.
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: Because these are the orders from Konstantinoupolis, Dimas. And before another questions leaves your stupid face – no, the war is not over.
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: I don't understand sir. Whom are we going to fight if not the horse-lords?
*strategos answers with a grim smile*
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: Why, the xenoi of course.
*silence fills the room for a long while*
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: Holy Theotokos...
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: Listen Dimas, I need you to do something for me. We're going to be really busy in the next day or two, abandoning the siege and retreating in an orderly fashion is not as easy as those blockhead back in the City imagine. Time is of the essence and that's why I need your help. You are in charge of the captives, right? Dimas, look at me.
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: Yes sir.
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: Good, good. How many prisoners do we have?
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: I- probably more than three thousands, sir.
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: By God's nails! „Probably”?
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: Some of them died yesterday, we didn't have time to count.
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: Mhm. Listen Dimas, I want you to take a few man and personally chose the able-bodied men among those prisoners of yours – able-bodied, not some damned cripples. I'm interested only in the best slave material. Do you understand?
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: Yes sir.
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: Good. When you do this, gather them all and separate from the rest. We should have enough chains and ropes for, uh, five hundred more or less. We will take them with us as we leave.
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: Yes sir. Sir? What about the rest of them?
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: As much as I hate to waste a good slave I'm afraid we can't take more than five hundred males, Dimas. Dispose of the rest.
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: S-sir, I was asking about the women and children.
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: Oh, of course. Get rid of them, Dimas. And by get rid of them I mean make sure they are all killed – no escapes, no hesitation, no mercy. *strategos points his finger at kentarchos* We're soldiers of Kristos, Dimas, we're doing God's work. This Mongol bastard with big eyes you spared? In twenty years he's going to kill some poor peasant and rape his poor peasant wife during a raid beyond limes. The pretty Mongol woman begging you for mercy? She will pump more of these Mongol bastards out of her womb like a damned rabbit out of pure spite and she will teach them all to hate us. This is something we can't afford here, Dimas. I want complete extermination, do you understand?
*kentarchos stands still for a while before answering quietly*
KENTARCHOS DIMAS: Yes.
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: Good lad. Now go – it will take longer than you think, I can promise you that.
*strategos looks at kentarchos as he slowly leaves the tent*
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: Dimas?
*kentarchos freezes at the entrance to the tent*
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: No clubbing, just clean cuts – I don't want you and your men to be tired. You'll never know whether we're going to walk into another Mongol ambush or not.
*kentarchos leaves the tent without word*
STRATEGOS MANEDOS: *quietly to himself* Poor bastard. *turns to his right* When his time comes be merciful and give him a quick death, will you?
*a single candle illuminates a small medallion of Saint Markos hanging from armor stand *
The Horde was beaten – with the war still ravaging in the steppe where mugahidun of Timur II were victorious in every battle, the horse-lords had no other choice but to agree to harsh conditions imposed on them. And so the long war finally ended on 15th March 1480. Lands of khagan's vassal, a petty chiefdom known as Chernigov, became part of Kingdom of Poland as provinces of Ruthenia and Podolia. The Horde itself was forced to cede vast lands to the Kristianoi, not only returning to the Romaioi what was taken from them over 30 years ago but also enlarging lands under control of Tagma ton Moldavon. What was most important however was the fact that khagan was forced to cede all Mongol provinces to the west of Carpathian Mountains, thus pushing the Horde back to the East. At long last the easternmost limitanei were secured – separated from the Imperium by both Kingdom of Poland and Tagma ton Moldavon, the Horde had direct access only to fortified limes of Caucasus themata and to kephanate of Taurica. It seemed that, at least for a time being, the threat posed by Mongol barbarians to Roman citizens was eliminated almost entirely. Once more peace, however feeble, have befallen on the tormented land.

Alas, for the soldiers of Kristos the war against forces of darkness never ends.


Desolation of Poland

By the time first tagmata of the Imperial Army retreating from the East reached Polish borders, half of the Kingdom was already overrun. Soulless xenoi and their Pisan slaves commanding thousands of sell-swords from all over Europe were spreading like a deadly locust, pillaging and destroying whole villages and cities. Thousands were killed in a first few weeks, tens of thousands were taken captives by the Westerners and in chains led deep into their territory from where no man returns. Soon even Kraków, the old capital of the Kingdom, was besieged. Polish forces were overwhelmed, scattered, unable to engage even one of many powerful armies amassed by the enemy – it was clear that only the Imperial Army could save the realm of the Christian King.

His Imperial Majesty decided however not to send all of his tagmata to Poland – instead he ordered tens of thousands of Roman soldiers to embark dromonoi and sail to Italia, from where a counter-offensive was to be launched. This would not only distract the enemy but also give a chance to Aquitaine occupied by ruthless Pisans, enslaving thousands of Kristianoi and pillaging the whole Kingdom. An immense crowd was cheering while the whole Imperial Navy concentrated in Konstantinoupolis was leaving its safe harbors, with tens of thousands of brave Roman soldiers and sailors reading to face the Archenemy. Having disembarked from imperial dromonoi in Italia, the Imperial Army marched to the west to Aquitaine and Pisa, while the Imperial Navy set sails for Gulf of Almeria to protect the whole Mediterranean Sea from xenoi incursion. But when the Imperial Army marched into desolated Polish lands in July it seemed that it's already too late – tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands have already perished. Xenoi and their Pisan puppets decided to concentrate all their forces and to crush the Romaioi just like they crushed Polish pospolite ruszenie. After weeks of careful maneuvering a huge force counting almost one third of imperial tagmata and all auxilia and remaining Polish armies was amassed near city of Szepes. Blessed Autokrator in his wisdom allowed voivode Karol Gniewomir to assume command over allied forces, for not only he was a nobleman experienced in warfare in these lands but also because domestikos of the East and domestikos of the West were leading Imperial Army in Italia. As soon as he arrived Taurica in Konstantinoupolis with his 20,000 men strong army, His Imperial Majesty sent domestikos Antonios Theophylaktos to the north to strengthen the Kristianoi forces. Alas, reinforcements led by him never reached Kingdom of Poland...

9th April 1481
Fields of Szepes, Kingdom of Poland


Two strategoi of the Imperial Army standing on a hill near the tents of the commander of the allied forces look as the battle unfolds before their eyes. Even form a distance hymns sung by the Kristianoi could clearly be heard, mixed with war drums and ominous chanting of the xenoi swarming like a locust on the hills. Tens of thousands of men are marching against each other under rain of arrows while suddenly an immense cavalry force counting at least 10,000 horsemen breaks the formations and charges the xenoi positions.

STRATEGOS ERASTUS: Sweet Lord, just look at this Stylianos! This is the might of
the finest kataphraktoi and hussars concentrated in one moment! There are so many - good Lord, just look at this!
STRATEGOS STYLIANOS: *crosses himself*
STRATEGOS ERASTUS: There is not a force on this world which could stop the might of the Imperium! Just watch, as soon as they reach their lines, the kataphraktoi
*suddenly hundreds of flashes illuminate the xenoi lines – Roman kataphraktoi and Polish hussars are falling down from their horses as if swept away by some invisible force*
STRATEGOS STYLIANOS: Did you-
*a loud noise as if a hundred thunders ripped the sky reaches the tents and men gathered around, startling the horses and soldiers alike*
STRATEGOS ERASTUS: What is this hellish noise!? A storm?
*thick clouds appear out of nowhere near xenoi positions, covering the battlefield in smoke*
STRATEGOS ERASTUS: Saint Markos protect – the beasts are using magic! The Dark Powers are fighting with them!
*horrified Stylianos points his finger at the suddenly stopped in its march column of Kristian army*
STRATEGOS STYLIANOS: Look, the kataphraktoi – they are retreating! God Almighty, they are retreating!
*scattered remains of a force so numerous just a few moments ago flee the battlefield, leaving hundreds of riders and their horses dead or dying*
STRATEGOS ERASTUS: Quickly! We have to-
*suddenly the earth itself erupts below their feet; numerous thunders can be heard, as well as terrified shouts of dying and wounded*
STRATEGOS STYLIANOS: …!

*Strategos Stylianos tries to get up but collapses – as he falls on the ground he realizes that he can't hear anything. He tries to get up again and once more he falls. The ground is wet with warm blood of strategos Erastus, whose scattered remains are all over the place, including Stylianos' armor. As he finally rises from the ground, bleeding from his wounds and still in a state of shock, he watches paralyzed as the black masses of xenoi warriors charge from the hills chasing disorganized Kristianoi forces, who run for their lives. Stylianos makes a few steps but he trips over something and lands on his knees – before him lies horribly mutilated head of strategos Erastus ripped from his body. Stylianos vomits.

The unintelligible but ominous chant of xenoi warriors is becoming louder and louder.*

Fire and thunder

The Dark Powers – daemons whom the soulless serve – granted the xenoi victory. Black magic which turned metal statues into fire-breathing hellish monsters whose roar was louder than a storm laid waste to Kristianoi forces. Horrifying cultists of Huitzilopochtli armed with enchanted iron staffs which could kill a man from a hundred paces with a flash of light and thunder brought death to hundreds and xenoi cannibals feasted on their bodies. Clouds of toxic smoke covered the battlefield as the Romaioi were fleeing, unable to face the horrors unleashed by Diabolos, the Great Serpent himself. Allied forces were shattered and voivode Karol Gniewomir himself was said to be captured and sacrificed to the daemon Youalahuan, the Night Drinker.

In a few weeks the Kingdom of Poland was overrun.

The forces led by domestikos Theophylaktos were ambushed by Pisan army near Zagreb and, despite victory against corrupted merchants and their slaves, their march was slowed down too much to help the Imperial Army in a battle of Szepes. Realizing this, domestikos sent messengers to Konstantinoupolis asking for new orders – even with 20,000 battle-hardened brave Roman soldiers he could not hope to face the hordes of xenoi sweeping through the Polish lands. Domestikos expected to be in turn sent to northern Italia to assist the Imperial Army in siege of Pisa and further to Aquitaine to liberate the lands occupied by the Republic. Little did he know that the Archenemy was approaching.

But the worst was yet about to come.


Queen of Cities

In the aftermath of their victory on the fields of Szepes, the Westerners amassed a great army counting more than 50,000 warriors and marched on Konstantinoupolis itself. With all tagmata of the Imperial Army either in Italia or Aquitaine, the Queen of Cities was defended by barely 20,000 of reserve tagmata, the ones still recuperating after losses suffered in the steppe. His Imperial Majesty ordered army of domestikos Theophylaktos to return to Konstantinoupolis immediately but even tagmata led by him and Kristianoi forces retreating from Kingdom of Poland combined could fail to stop the xenoi before they lay siege to the City. Thus the sacred Emperor ordered all able-bodied men at least 15 years old from themata closer than 2 weeks of march from the Konstantinoupolis to be mustered there. Protospatharios Pankratios Kaisarios as the most experienced officer in the City was named domestikos and commander of the ragtag forces amassed beyond the Teichos Theodesiakon, the Great Walls of Theodesian. Messengers sent to domestikos Theophylaktos didn't return, most probably captured by Aztec raiders pillaging the countryside – the Queen of Cities was truly alone. As soon as what remained from army facing the Enemy on the fields of Szepes arrived at the City, domestikos Kaisarios marched against the immense xenoi forces.

On 24th August the battle of Maritza began.


Having learned about the destructive power of Darkness unleashed by dark xenoi magic on good Christians during battle of Szepes, domestikos Kaisarios decided that a change of tactics was necessary in order for imperial forces to prevail. He boldly decided to attack the Westerners by launching a full frontal assault, hoping to make use of numerical superiority of the Imperial Army concentrated nearby Konstantinoupolis. And so the slaughter began – wave after wave of Romaioi charging at the xenoi lines vanquished and soon the whole battlefield was covered with bodies of the dead. Seeing the destruction brought upon the Romans by spells of servants of the Dark Powers, domestikos changed his tactics once more. He ordered all soldiers to assume battle formations and march against the enemy. Chanting the Akathist Hymn to Saint Markos, with beating drums and with banners of the Imperial Army waving in the wind, over 50,000 of Romans were slowly approaching the xenoi positions. Leading them were peasants and farm boys, conscripted few weeks ago by the order of His Imperial Majesty, and when the Imperial Army was near the enemy's lines the hellish fury was unleashed on them. Bronze monsters spitting fire and smoke killed hundreds and power of the blasphemous spells was so great that the earth itself erupted under the feet of the faithful – but the Romaioi kept on marching. When both armies were about to clash, the terrifying cultists of Huitzilopochtli killed many hundreds with their thunderbolt iron staffs. The conscripted citizens, facing the battle-hardened xenoi warriors, were slaughtered like cattle; farm boys were dying praising Kristos with their last breath.

Then the kataphraktoi emerged from the valley and charged at the left flank of the xenoi. Just as planned by domestikos, the Aztec warlocks surprised by this sudden attack didn't manage to use their dark arts to bring death to them and instead themselves were swept away by the immense power of the charging kataphraktoi. Seeing that the battle was now in favor of the Romaioi, the xenoi retreated – and so the Imperium was victorious and the City was safe. The Westerners were not beaten however – they lost a battle but the war was still raging on. Army of domestikos Theophylaktos, cut off from both the Imperial Army and Konstantinoupolis, was soon destroyed by another xenoi army, with Antonios Theophylaktos presumably dead.

When news from Maritza reached the Queen of Cities, the City rejoiced – alas, not for long.


The Pillars of Hercules breached

No tale tells of the titanic clash between the ships from the Far West and the Imperial Navy which took place during the Third Battle of Almeria, for no one lived to tell about it. It was only after the reports delivered by agentes in rebus describing xenoi fleets freely sailing within the Mediterranean Sea started to become more and more common when the horrible truth was learned. The whole Imperial Navy was sunk by the mighty vessels of the Westerners leaving no survivors, all Roman dromonoi destroyed, with their sailors forever trapped in the dark depths of the sea which became their grave.

There was nobody who could stop xenoi incursions from reaching the furthermost themata of the Imperium.


Soon the soulless beasts from the Far West were landing in Africa and Aegyptus. Having quickly dealt with Provincial Defense Forces of themata, they were sacrificing whole villages to the daemons they serve. Unlike in Kingdom of Poland, no prisoners were taken – the xenoi wanted only death. His Imperial Majesty immediately sent whatever tagmata the Imperial Army could amass together with mercenaries to Aegyptus, but with the seas controlled by the Westerners the Roman soldiers had no choice but to reach the western provinces on foot.

It took months before the first tagma reached the smoldering ruins of Aegyptian settlements.


One by one the imperial cities were being taken by the invaders. The Imperial Army was helpless – with the bulk of Roman forces trapped in Italia and Aquitaine there was no hope even a single soldier could reach the besieged provinces of Africa and Aegyptus in time. Meanwhile the xenoi and their Pisan slaves kept pushing forward. Despite liberation of several cities of Aquitaine the overall situation was quickly getting desperate. Kingdom of Poland was burning and it was only a matter of time before soulless beasts from the Far West break the defenses of Warszawa and take the capital. Tagmata fighting in Alps managed to stop the xenoi from advancing but took heavy casualties and soon it was necessary to hire more and more mercenary companies to ease the Romaioi in their struggle. The Africa was lost before the small forces fighting in Aegyptus could reach it. His Imperial Majesty ordered to take great loans so that the reconstruction of the Imperial Navy could begin but it would take years before the dromonoi are ready – and much more was destroyed in Gulf of Almeria than wooden ships. Majority of droungaroi and experienced sailors were killed, leaving only a handful of officers and seamen. It was clear that the disastrous battle crippled the Imperial Navy for years and His Imperial Majesty feared that the xenoi may attempt a blockade of Konstantinoupolis, cutting off the Queen of Cities from the rest of Imperium and effectively paralyzing it.

Truly far-reaching were the consequences of the momentous decision made by the blessed Autokrator.


Hundreds of Roman citizens were sacrificed to the Dark Powers daily and whole cities were exposed to horrors of xenoi occupation. Only the easternmost themata and provinces of Italia and Abyssinia were spared this fate, but the Aztec raiders were launching attacks along the coast even as far as on Aegean Sea. The Imperial Army had to abandon siege of city of Pisa, which was now being supplied by xenoi ships. It seemed that no matter how many xenoi were killed by brave Roman soldiers, only more were emerging from depths of their territory. The Pisans however were not that numerous and soon the imperial tagmata were making advancements in the lands of the Republic. Powerless to protect their fellow citizens from accursed invaders, the Romaioi showed no mercy to the defeated. Cases in which Pisan prisoners were tortured or mutilated were becoming more and more frequent, especially in those tagmata in which soldiers from Aegyptian and Africans cities destroyed by xenoi were serving. In some cases enraged soldiers hunger for retribution put entire villages to the sword or even burned down several churches together with priests and commoners who sought refuge within the sanctuary. For such abominable deeds the Romaioi were publicly executed by the order of His Imperial Majesty – such great was his mercy that even Pisans were enjoying it, even though as false Christians they did not deserve it.

But even the greatest among men can only endure so much...

[video=youtube_share;ojlbD4p09pA]http://youtu.be/ojlbD4p09pA[/video]​

Dusk, 30th July 1482
The Porphyry Chamber, Sacred Palace, Konstantinoupolis


The Purple Chamber is in the form of a perfect square from floor to ceiling ending in a pyramid. Its walls, floors and ceiling are veneered with the imperial purple. The chamber is empty save for an icon of Saint Markos hung on the wall to the right of the huge bed with a single candle beneath illuminating it and incense sticks burning in the corners of the room. Markos III Angelos lies alone in bed in purple apparel, his skin rippled and sickly yellow. Although the sacred Emperor looks incredibly tired, his eyes are as bright as ever. He tries to rise his thin arms as he greets his son Belisarios who enters the silent chamber.

MARKOS III ANGELOS: My son. *his voice is hoarse, his breath wheezy* Come to me.
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: Father.
*Belisarios approaches the Emperor and kneels by his bed holding his hand*
MARKOS III ANGELOS: Do you know how many Angelid emperors were born in this chamber? Hmm?
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: Most of us.
MARKOS III ANGELOS: But not everyone. You were born here. Your brother was born here. But not my father, he.... *starts coughing* He... he was not born here. I was. And now I'm going to die here.
*Belisarios tries to hold back his tears*
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: You can't... you can't die.
MARKOS III ANGELOS: My time has come. Yet... I know I don't deserve this.
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: You don't. Not you. Only-
*Markos with visible effort raises his right hand to silence his son*
MARKOS III ANGELOS: I don't deserve this. A first of the Angeloi to die of old age since Saint Markos. Why? I should've... *starts coughing* The xenoi blade should've killed me. I did a lot of evil things, my son. A lot of evil. I sentenced thousands to death. Children. Innocent. More died because of me than I can count. But if I had a choice... I would do this again. Because it was necessary. For the Imperium... to live.
*Belisarios starts crying silently*
MARKOS III ANGELOS: We are not allowed to cry, my son. The burden is heavy but we cannot. For if their emperor is weak, to whom your people will turn... in the hour of need? You must be strong, Belisarios. For them.
*Belisarios' tears drip on his father hand*
MARKOS III ANGELOS: The Angeloi protect. This is what we do. Whatever happens, do not forget this. These people... *starts coughing* They are weak. Frightened. You have to guide them. Protect them. Even from themselves.
*with shaking hands and with great effort Markos III Angelos removes his ring - the Imperial Seal – from his right hand and gives it to Belisarios*
MARKOS III ANGELOS: Protect them, my son. This... *Markos points his finger at the walls of the Porphyra Chamber* This is all they have. All you have.
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: No. Father, this is not true. We have Him.
MARKOS III ANGELOS: Ah... I regret the day I told you...
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: Father, it's not to late. You can still save yourself. Please, I beg you! Before... before you meet Him, renounce your sin. Accept Him. Ask Him for His mercy.
*Markos III Angelos starts coughing violently*
MARKOS III ANGELOS: His m-mercy? *coughs* Mercy? *coughs* If I meet Him, He should ask for my mercy. *coughs* So much needless pain, suffering. *coughs* So much death. *he looks at his son with sadness* No, my son. If He exists, if He really created this world... then He did this to torment us.
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: Father, for the love of Almighty God-
MARKOS III ANGELOS: Don't...! *coughs* Don't. *Markos III Angelos lays back* I'm tired. Very tired. I shall rest soon. *he looks at Belisarios* Take care of your brother and mother. You are their basileus now. And... forgive me Belisarios.
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: For what? *with tears in his eyes* For what, father?
MARKOS III ANGELOS: For everything.
*Markos III Angelos breaths slower and slower*
MARKOS III ANGELOS: The hour... has come. Leave me.
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: Father-
MARKOS III ANGELOS: Leave... me.
BELISARIOS ANGELOS: Why? *tears dripping on purple floor* Why do you want to be by yourself?
*Markos breathes with great effort*
MARKOS III ANGELOS: Because... we die... as we dream...
*Emperor smiles faintly*
MARKOS III ANGELOS: Alone...

As the door upholstered with purple silk closes, a gentle gust of wind puts out the feeble flame of the candle.

Long live the Emperor

His Imperial Majesty, Sacred Emperor Markos III Angelos, basileus basileon by the Grace of God, king of kings and rulers of rulers, Caesar Augustus of the Romaioi and all Men, Autokrator of the Holy Church and Protector of the Christendom, died on 30th July 1482 at the age of almost 67 years. His death was a terrible blow to the Imperium and whole Christendom – loss of a such exceptional ruler, without a doubt equal to the greatest Romans of old like Justinian, Trajan or Basil II, perhaps even the greatest Angelid Emperors after Saint Markos himself, was truly devastating. To the Throne of the Imperium his son ascended and as a blessed Autokrator Belisarios Angelos began his reign with a great ceremony in which he named his brother Basileios a symbasileus and a heir to the Throne, for he himself had no son or daughter. When the heart-breaking news of Emperor's death reached besieged capital of Kingdom of Poland, the Polish king Sedziej II Spis was said to lose all hope and locked himself in his chamber and received no one. Three days later he emerged from his bedchamber wearing sackcloth and, barefoot, walked to the cathedral to pray God for forgiveness.

The same day he surrendered Warszawa to the xenoi.

Sacred Emperor upon having heard this sad news ordered the Imperial Army fighting in Pisa to lay waste to every village and every city sparing no one, in a desperate attempt to force the Pisans to surrender. Soon whole settlements were torched while the tagmata were dealing with xenoi puppets with the same ruthlessness their masters showed toward true Kristianoi. For blessed Autokrator knew that the Imperium could not afford this war to continue – with Poland defeated the xenoi were going to concentrate all their efforts on destroying the Imperial Army and the Romaioi could not stop them.

Finally, after thousands were put to the sword, the Republic's will to fight was broken – or so it seemed. On 15th August 1482 the Pisans were forced to accept peace with Kingdom of Aquitaine. But the war seemed to be as far from being over as ever.


Xenoi at the gates

There was no hope for victory. The might of the xenoi was unmatched and if the war was to go on, the Imperium and the whole Christendom had to lose. Belisarios Angelos understood this well and so he sent envoys to the soulless Westerners to ask for terms. Only their skulls covered with blasphemous marks returned to the City – the xenoi had no desire for peace and it seemed that the fate of the Imperium is sealed. The blessed Autokrator was determined to make sure that the Archenemy would have to pay in blood for every Roman life taken by the invaders.

But God Almighty Iesus Kristos always watches over His children.

Suddenly, on 17th August 1482 a huge xenoi fleet appeared at the shores of Bosphorus landing several thousands of horrifying cultists of Huitzilopochtli nearby the Walls of the City. The sacred Emperor was prepared for the worst but instead of sieging the Queen of Cities a single xenos raider on a black horse approached the Golden Gate - an emissary of the Archenemy, who demanded peace.

May all Romaioi praise the Lord and His mercy, for miraculously the will of the xenoi have changed.


Having demanded only for thema of Provence to be ceded to the Republic of Pisa, the innumerable xenoi forces left the Imperium so soon, that if not for the ruins and thousands of corpses it would seem that their presence within the limitanei was just a bad dream of an ill and superstitious mind. But the xenoi were real and the nightmare never ends. The reasons for this sudden departure remained unknown and although some speculated that it must've been some momentous event or disaster in the Far West that forced xenoi to abandon their plans the truth is that no man understood their decision. For if such theories were true, what could possibly threaten xenoi so much that they were forced to call their armies stationed in Europe back to the Far West? Speculations born by ignorance lead nowhere – it clearly was Divine Providence that saved the Imperium from imminent doom and there's no reason to talk further about this subject.

In the aftermath of the war the Christendom was shattered. Both Christian Kings were forced to kneel before the Westerners and acknowledge them as their masters, both stipulated to pay tribute for the Xenoi Xolal for years to come, both forced to renounce any treaties with the Imperium. Fortunately, both realms survived and despite the fact that Kingdom of Aquitaine was forced to cede Toulouse for the hated invaders, the Christian Realms weren't destroyed. Not only that, but the Republic was forced to sign peace with king of Aquitaine – a small victory which cost too many lives. However, it was only later when the Pisan machinations were fully understood.


For the Republic ceased to be nothing more than an autonomous puppet of the Westerners and instead became truly independent realm. How this was achieved was puzzling and despite numerous attempts of agentes in rebus the secret of Pisan scheme was successfully kept in the dark. It was obvious nonetheless that despite their motives, the greedy rulers of Pisa were still enslaved, if not by the xenoi than by their vices – and one could only imagine what was the price of their apparent freedom.

And so, on 18th August 1482, the war was finally over – but not for long.


Sack of Reich

During the war against servants of the Dark Powers only one place was spared from destruction – the German Reich. Like vultures feasting on a rotting carcass, the German mercenaries prospered while their Christian brothers and sisters were dying by the thousands, indifferent to their suffering. Now the war was over however and the sell-swords demanded payment – and the imperial coffins were empty. But His Imperial Majesty in his wisdom quickly found a solution to this problem. As it was suggested to the blessed Autokrator by prince Rafaello di Orange, duke of Bavaria and vassal of the Throne, the mercenaries loved only gold and had allegiance to nobody. Thus they could easily be turned against their former German lords, whose lands – spared the horrors of war – were wealthy enough not only to pay off the mercenaries but could also greatly strengthen duchy of Bavaria and thus the Imperium.

And so the sacred Emperor declared war against traitorous Germans on 12th December 1482.


Thousands of mercenaries were unleashed upon the Reich and with a minimal support of the bloodied Imperial Army they quickly overwhelmed what little forces the German lords could muster. While Bavarians were securing fortresses and castles for themselves, the sell-swords were allowed to sack whole cities but no more than for 3 days. War which enriched the Germans so much have finally came to their doorstep - such was the Emperor's justice. Great was the plunder taken from the enemy and not only it allowed to pay the mercenaries their wage but also to partially finance reconstruction of the Imperial Fleet. The blessed Autokrator seeing how easily the dromonoi were destroyed by the mighty xenoi fleet ordered to built a ship based on the huge vessels from the Far West.

The Reich burned for months. Finally, when the spring came His Imperial Majesty disbanded the bloodthirsty mercenaries and on 14th April 1483 signed peace with German kaiser. And then finally the Imperium was at peace.


Healing the wounds

In the following years both the Imperium and Christian Kingdoms were slowly rebuilding after the destruction unleashed upon them by the terrible war against the xenoi. Only because of Divine Providence were the faithful spared from the fate of so many other Kristianoi. His Imperial Majesty didn't spare any efforts in order to hasten the recovery of the Imperium and its institutions. The Imperial Navy was slowly being rebuilt but after the disastrous defeat it suffered it was clear that much more was needed than numerous ships and sailors if the Imperium hoped to stop the xenoi – for everybody knew that they would return. Silence have befallen Europe but it was a silence of anticipation, because sooner or later the Angel of Death surely was going to sweep through the tormented Christendom once more.

Only then the wisdom of sacred Emperor Markos III Angelos was truly understood, for because of reforms of the imperial administration introduced by him the Imperium was regaining its strength much quicker than before. But it was just a beginning and his son knew this well. That's why he ordered lawyers of the Great Pandidakterion to finish the greatest work and yet never completed work of his father – a new code of law which was to form basis of a revised legal system. Their work was to take years but its fruits were to be enjoyed for decades to come and just like Corpus Iuris Civilis was for basileus Justinian, the new code of law would be a crowning achievement of his father's work.

But sacred Emperor Belisarios Angelos had much far-reaching plans for the Great Pandidakterion.


Reform of the Great Pandidakterion

Despite empty treasury burdened with too many loans and basilikon – imperial coin introduced by his father – depreciating more and more, His Imperial Majesty didn't hesitate to spend great amounts of gold on this ancient and noble institution. Greatly expanding the University of Konstantinoupolis and having granted it many new buildings, blessed Autokrator wished for as many Romaioi as possible to have access to the wisdom guarded by scholars of Pandidakterion. For no matter how much gold and jewels one possesses, they mean nothing when compared to the true treasure safely kept in repositories of the Pandidakterion – knowledge.

War with xenoi once again brutally reminded the Romaioi how high is the price of ignorance. Great Pandidakterion for centuries was teachings its student organized in Faculty of Seven Arts – trivium and quadrivium, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Medicine and most noble of them all Faculty of Theology. And so, wishing to lift the veil of ignorance beyond which the Far West was hidden, His Imperial Majesty funded a new Faculty for the noble University – the Faculty of Xenology. Dedicated to studies concerning xenoi and everything connected to them, the Faculty was hoped to notably limit the ignorance and superstition surrounding the Far West and thus become a great asset of the Imperium. For it to bear fruits years had to pass but the blessed Autokrator, just like his father, was patient. Being a pious servant of the Holy Wisdom, basileus himself decided to spend his time on studies, hoping to learn from the experience gathered in the archives of Pandidakterion during the centuries.

For some however knowledge is just a tool.


Corruption of Lithuania

For decades under Aztec influence, the Khanate of Lithuania was becoming more and more shaped in image of his true masters. The xenoi were willing to share many of their least important secrets with Lithuanian khan in order to strengthen his realm. Its existence guaranteed by the Westerners, the Khanate was both a constant threat to Kingdom of Poland and a major obstacle for the Horde, if the horse-lords ever decide to wage war against the xenoi. With access to resources and advice from the Far West, khan Afanasiy became nothing more but a slave of his Aztec masters, eager to sacrifice his brethren if only it would satisfy the true lords of Lithuania.

This development didn't remain hidden from Polish nobility and as soon as the 10 years have passed since the war and with it enforced tribute and other obligations, Christian King asked His Imperial Majesty for forgiveness and mercy, hoping to renew the old alliance – and blessed Autokrator agreed. Once more the Kingdom of Poland and the Imperium were sworn to protect each other from harm and what many called the Last Alliance of Kristianoi was reforged, stronger than ever. Truly Saint Markos was guiding his descendant during these days, for after long period of peace the dark clouds were once again gathering over Europe.

And then, on 6th April 1492, the Republic attacked.


Pride before destruction

Having foolishly launched an invasion on Kingdom of Aquitaine, the corrupted Pisans were hoping for an easy victory. Blinded by their arrogance, they believed that the Imperium, still suffering from the last war, would not intervene fearing the might of their xenoi masters. That's why the Pisan slavers foolishly rejected demand of His Imperial Majesty to cease any hostilities aimed at Kristianoi of Aquitaine. But this time the greedy merchants miscalculated – the soulless Westerners ignored their pleas for support. Was this a consequence of one of Pisan schemes? A result of some power struggle unknown to Romaioi? Or perhaps, as some suggested, the Dark Powers commanded their servants to another, far greater and malicious work in the Far West hidden beyond unknown seas? Whatever was the cause, the agentes in rebus were sure of one thing – Pisan requests were met with a dead silence.

And so on 29th November 1492 the Imperium joined the war.


The whole Christendom was united by a just cause of stopping the Pisan aggression. The merchants had nobody else to blame but themselves – their arrogance, greed and malice finally were to become cause of their own downfall. Roman trade companies voluntarily offered financial support in the form of loans, as well as material support in the form of ships to the Throne, hoping to finally curb the growing power of Pisan merchants. Embargoed, abandoned by their masters and facing the whole might of the Christendom , the rulers of the Republic of Pisa could only await the inevitable, too pride to surrender and to weak to win. Tens of thousands of Roman soldiers led by domestikos Kaisarios marched against Pisan sell-swords, thus beginning the slaughter.

For more than three years the Republic was being laid to waste.


With the city of Pisa and islands of Corsica and Sardinia as his last remaining bastions, the doge finally surrendered on 20th January 1496. The terms imposed on the Republic by king of Aquitaine were harsh – the Pisans were to renounce all their claims on Christian Kingdom, cede all the lands taken from it and pay high war reparations for years to come. It seemed that the power of the Republic was finally broken, at least for the time being.

Great was the joy in the whole Christian world, for the servant of the Enemy was beaten and Kingdom of Aquitaine have risen from the ashes. Only then the wisdom behind the momentous decision of basileus Markos III Angelos was seen it its entirety – instead of abandoning the Christian Realms to their fate, blessed Autokrator decided to fulfill his duty as the Protector of the Christendom, thus saving Aquitaine from slavery and death. His Imperial Majesty ordered to prepare triumph for Pankratios Kaisarios, hero of Meritza and now megas domestikos of the Imperial Army, for his accomplishments in Pisan campaign.

Even during the brightest of days the sky is not free from the clouds however.


Death of Kermanos

On 29th May 1496 ill news reached Queen of Cities – droungarios Iebadiah Kermanos have died. He gave up his ghost in a small port town on Socotra, the island which for so long served as a base for his voyages. In recognition of his service for the Imperium, the sacred Emperor ordered the port town to be henceforth called Kermanos. No title could however honor brave sailor more than his deeds, which are described in detail in the archives of the Great Pandidakterion. At the time nobody realized how momentous was the day in which he set sails to the East and how far-reaching were the consequences of his expeditions. Death of Kermanos for years put an end to exploration of the Great Eastern Sea and many of its waters were to remain uncharted for a long time.

But no secret of the Far East, no matter how great, could match the importance of the news brought before the Throne by one of the imperial agentes in rebus on 1st October 1497.


Tlacotli Yaoyotl – The Slaves' War

According to imperial spies from Brittany, a rumor was circulating among Caledonian slavers as early as in late year 1496. A wise man does not put faith in whispers from the dark but the rumors were subsequently confirmed by more and more evidence and finally one could no longer turn his eyes away from the truth.

The xenoi were at war - but this time the soulless savages were facing no one else but themselves.

Revolts and uprisings were said to become common as the whole Xenoi Xolal was engulfed by an unprecedented conflict of an unknown origin and purpose. Whatever was happening in the Far West remained hidden from good Christians – in Europe however it was becoming more and more obvious that thousands of xenoi warriors were embarking their mighty ships and sailing back to their homeland. Seeing their chance for freedom or honorable death, all across Europe slaves were rebelling against their Aztec masters. Even the wisest scholars of the Great Pandidakterion were helpless in face of this mystery – what force could cast the titanic Xenoi Xolal into disarray? Was this a punishment from the daemons they served for some unknown crime? Or was it yet another malicious plan of Diabolos taking form? Or perhaps right were those who suspected something much more malevolent and ominous – could it be that the soulless xenoi were facing an unknown enemy even more powerful than themselves?

Whatever was the truth, it made no difference in the eyes of His Imperial Majesty, for he saw in this turbulent events something the Imperium was awaiting for decades, perhaps even centuries – a chance to finally push the invaders from the Far West back to the sea.


Having almost completely recovered from the destruction brought upon it during the war against soulless beasts, the Imperium for the first time in many years was flourishing. The last of the great reforms of basileus Markos III the Blessed was completed when on 25th March 1498 the Angelikon, new code of law for the Imperium, was published. Imperial administration, healed from the plague of corruption, was as efficient as never before. The Imperial Army was prepared to face the Westerners, now armed also with knowledge of natural philosophers of the Great Pandidakterion who with moderate successes were trying to understand the dark magic of the thunder-spells. Even the Imperial Navy was completely rebuilt, almost as numerous as before the disastrous battle of Pillars of Hercules but still crewed with inexperienced sailors. Imperial allies and auxilia were ready to answer the call to arms if needed and hearts of common citizens, after the glorious victory over Pisa, were filled with hope. The Imperium was strong with God's might and blessing of Iesus Kristos.

The time has come.

On 25th December 1498, after a holy mass in Hagia Sophia, His Imperial Majesty Belisarios Angelos, basileus basileon by the Grace of God, king of kings and rulers of rulers, Caesar Augustus of the Romaioi and all Men, Autokrator of the Holy Church and Protector of the Christendom, knelt before the Golden Throne – the most sacred reliquary of Saint Markos – and, asking him for his blessing, declared war against the soulless xenoi, making a solemn vow to do everything in his power to achieve victory over Dark Powers and their slaves.

Eis to onoma tou Patros, kai tou Huiou, kai tou Hagiou Pneumatos. Amen