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    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.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Serpent

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Senator Marius Serapis

Marius enters the chapel in the company of two women wearing the white linen robes of the Sisters of the Divine Light, the younger of them wearing a steel cross around a chain on her neck, the older one a cross of silver. Both of them keep much of their faces conceiled in the shadows beneath their deep cowls, but they move with grace and strength even as their posture displays demure modesty. A case of scrolls hangs from the shoulder of the older sister, containing documents meticulously prepared for any eventuality.

A Synod against heresy might well turn into a Synod against corruption within the faith. The Throne might attempt to appease the heretical masses by a move against the Church, a move which the Church would be in no position to resist now with far more at stake. And if the Emperor was to make such a gesture, in a plot to play both faiths against each others for His own gain, the Monastery of Divine Light would have been one of the most vulnerable targets. But no longer. For papers and contracts had already been signed and sealed, transfering and selling monastery assets back to its partners. They had only to be notarised to be official, and Serapis had many contacts in the administration that could easily take care of that. A little insurance against the worst possible case, that should never be needed if the Synod was played the right way.

He briefly admires the mosaics, musing on their timeles and yet so very vulnerable beauty. What would Sofia's thugs do with such marvellous works of art? The answer was plain all across Italy, Egypt and Anatolia. Yet another reason for why they could not afford to fail.

It is with a wistful smile he greets the assembled. "Honoured Speaker Pylaeus, Venerable Senator Raol, Esteemed colleague di Capponi, such a pleasure to meet you again so soon. I hope you have all recovered from your journey. Senator Melissenos, my dear friend, I am glad to see you're safe. Rebel scum are everywhere these days, some even with official invitation," he quips turning his gaze in the general direction of the palace where Sophia was lodging.

{{Czoklet, I hope you don't disapprove of my little contingency. I'm not a lawyer, but the point of it is to evade another confiscation of church property. In case it's not needed the Monastery will just go on with business as usual.}}
 
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ThetrueColt

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Senator Decius Pylaeus (Faction Speaker of the White Demes)

*After Raoul mentions Decius new title, he uncomfortably looks at the ceremonial sword and at the maniakon around his neck. It would appear that he needs some time to get used to being addressed as spatharios.*


Welcome Senators Raoul and di Capponi, I hope you did not run into any trouble on your way to Ravenna. You are right Senator Raoul, we have indeed much to talk about. For instance - Senator di Capponi, the archbishop of Pisae is apparently not here, even though the other high-ranking foreign ecclesiastical officials are. You spent quite a bit of time in Pisae, didn't you? Is there any special insight you can share with us on this matter?

*Senator Melissenos joins the meeting*

Lazaros, it is good to see you. I take it your ... voyage has been without occurences? I am rather well, thanks to all of these dynatoi favors that the Megas Domestikos chose to bribe me with. However, I am still a little uncomfortable when it comes to the new title, I guess.

Well our "master", if you want to call him that, enabled me to carry a ceremonial sword around everywhere, so I might just literally stab you all in the back now if you naively choose to rise against the esteemed Megas Domestikos.

*Decius cannot surpress a grin, retaliating against the outrageous joke on his behalf, as Senator Serapis enters the chapel*


Senator Serapis, it is good to see you well and eager. However I feel compelled to ask: What are the sisters doing here? You know that we are going to talk about topics that require the utmost secrecy, do you deem it wise to appear in company in such delicate times?

*Decius glaze does not carry any evil in it, even though the question is not asked in complete jest.*


{{ btw @CzokletMuss When did I become Vice President again? Wasn't Este-Ravenna VP last time around? Am I mixing something up? }}
 

Ponce_The_Great

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Serpent

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Senator Marius Serapis

"Speaker Pylaeus. The Sisters of the Divine Light are sworn to silence, and are above suspicion. Would that all women were. But I cannot blame you for your caution." He turns to the sisters and dismisses them without a word after recieving the case of scrolls. "And what we are about to discuss might not be appropriate for delicate ears." He smiles, knowing that the sisters were anything but delicate.
 

ThetrueColt

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Senator Decius Pylaeus (Faction Speaker of the White Demes)

Thank you, Serapis. One cannot be too cautious when the dynatoi are involved.

*Decius nods, appreciating the privacy.*


{{ On a completely unrelated note, I just finished my 1.14 Basileus-Run (w/o Cossacks, never played Byz in Ironman before). There is even an Angelos leading the army!

}}
 

zenphoenix

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Senator Decius Pylaeus (Faction Speaker of the White Demes)

Thank you, Serapis. One cannot be too cautious when the dynatoi are involved.

*Decius nods, appreciating the privacy.*


{{ On a completely unrelated note, I just finished my 1.14 Basileus-Run (w/o Cossacks, never played Byz in Ironman before). There is even an Angelos leading the army!

}}
{{That godly Angeloi though.
This is not a good time to bring up my Hohenzollern Roman Empire megacampaign is it?}}
 

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Senator Lazaros II Melissenos

So, the most obvious question now is, what is the stance of the white Demes concerning the synod and the Angelina. Apparently there is still much to decipher, she obviously follows a heretical believe, but on the other hand it seems to me, that she is less worse in some regards than the rumors say. That doesn't make it better of course, but it might make it easier to reconcile her and her followers with the imperial faith without risking another civil war.

*Lazaros lets his fine fingers slide over the table, as if in thoughts.*

Sure, she could lie, but I don't think she does hold back. She hasn't a problem with telling the assembled clergy her different beliefs, even defying their authority openly.
 

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Senator Raoul :

Obviously we will follow the stance of the Patriarchs. As a man of faith I can only let the Synod decide the outcome. Sophia might be less worse but it doesn't apologize for all the things that the followers did in her name. She seems sure of herself, full of pride and convinced of telling the Truth. It is dangerous, very dangerous. How can one decide of the canons of the Holy Church on her own ? But trying her might be difficult. Sure we have all seen the mighty Tagmata outside the walls but the crowd loves her, adores her. I was astonished by the end of her interrogation, when hundreds of people were shouting her name. The Tagmata could maybe bring order if a riot were to erupt but I wouldn't hope to see all those inside the walls to survive it before it's finished...
 

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Senator Marius Serapis

"She did not come here to reconcile, Senator Melissenos, I very much doubt that. Nor can the true Faith adapt to her beliefs, and proclaim Satan as the Creator. I know you voted against her trial and imprisonment, but that is how this must end. There is really no other possible outcome that leaves the Soul of the Imperium intact."
 

ThetrueColt

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Senator Decius Pylaeus (Faction Speaker of the White Demes)

I have to agree with Senator Raoul. The synod shall decide the fate of Sophia Angelos, for they are the most knowledgeable men in the entire Imperium to judge her actions. Her "followers" on the other hand, are better of dead than alive and I for one would be keen to see the hoi polloi perish for their misdeeds against the holy autokrator and all of Christendom.

*Decius' face shows nothing but disgust regarding the Angelodouloi sect*

We shall see if His Imperial Majesty wants us to step forward and take our part in the things that are to come. I, for one, will not see heresy grow in the Imperium that I serve and it is the foremost duty of the white demes to support the Patriarchs as good as we can. Don't you agree?

{{
{{That godly Angeloi though.
This is not a good time to bring up my Hohenzollern Roman Empire megacampaign is it?}}
That depends on the amount of Angeloi that are protecting Rome in the AAR. I have never gotten used to those Angel actions and killings in your AAR, which is why I've probably never commented.}}
 

zenphoenix

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{{
That depends on the amount of Angeloi that are protecting Rome in the AAR. I have never gotten used to those Angel actions and killings in your AAR, which is why I've probably never commented.}}
{{I just wanted to reimagine angels in a non-stereotypical way. Don't worry, there are still human Angeloi in my AAR as well...I think.:D}}
 

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Senator Marius Serapis

"Indeed, Spatharios. I agree. We shall see what role we are called to play. And yet it would be well to be prepared. I hope our entire Demes will be as uncompromising as you now appear to be. If we speak with a united voice we will be heard all the better, when the time comes."
 

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Senator Lazaros II Melissenos

*Lazaros continues to draw circles on the table with his fingers, before answering.*

So then why are we here? Is it not the duty of the senate to give council on what is best for the empire? I think there is absolutely no doubt what the Patriarchs will decide: That the orthodox church is the one and only true faith. Fixed, firm and unchangeable. See it further then. The Angelina will probably imprisoned. Maybe she will be tortured to retract her believes and will be allowed to vanish in a monastery. Maybe she will be burned at the stake immediately. And what will we gain from it?

Senator Raoul has mentioned what we all have heard: The people stand behind her. They will try to protect her, free her. Sure, the people are no match for the Tagmata, but when has that stopped those people? So Ravenna will be drowned in roman blood like so many imperial cities in the last years. So the Synod will not only end with a martyr, but probably with thousands of them. Message of what has happened will spread. More uprisings will happen, more roman blood spilled by roman soldiers. Oh, I know, many will say that those who rise up aren't really roman, but that wont stop the bloodless of the empire. In soldiers, workers and scholars.

*Lazaros rises a finger slightly and taps on the table.*

Which is something that the scavengers around us, the Xenoi, the Mongols, the Hindustanis and who knows who else will dully notice. And act upon it.

So as far as I see it, the real question is that, what is more important: That the orthodox faith stays unchallenged and unchanged, or that the empire and with it the whole of Christendom survives?
 

Serpent

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Senator Marius Serapis

Marius looks gravely at the cloaked face of Senator Melissenos and shakes his head. "If we surrender to these heretics we would no longer be Christian and the Imperium would no longer deserve to survive. Lives can be lost and new children will be born in their place. Provinces can be lost and reconquered. But the Soul of the Imperium once lost can never be regined."

"That is not to say the faith cannot be reformed on its own terms, in accordance with scripture and the will of the Holy Synod and the Emperor. But adapting any of Sophia's beliefs would damn us all."

 

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Senator Lazaros II Melissenos

Don't get me wrong, Senator Serapis,I don't want that we now all follow these heretical believes. But I don't think the clergy will even consider a reform, so if we support them unconditionally, nothing will change at all. That's what I wanted to say: We need to give advise, not following blind some kind of dogma, even if it's deviate from the judgment of the clergy.
 

ThetrueColt

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Senator Decius Pylaeus (Faction Speaker of the White Demes)

Let's give your idea some thought, Lazaros. Will the Imperium suddenly survive if we accept the Angelodouloi? Would everyone be happy and face the Xenoi together? What do you expect to happen? I don't see an alternative to the eradication of the sect. What would a solution look like? Also, are we just going to forgive every crime and sin these hoi polloi have commited? Are we going to put every loyal Romaioi onto the same level as a traitorous muderer?

I also want to remind you that the last time the Imperium changed its official belief, half of its territory was lost. Of course, embracing the one true faith was our only way to salvation, St. Markos be praised. *Decius makes the sign of the cross*

But if even the only rightful thing to do led to such a drastic end, from which we have not recovered after a thousand years, then how do you expect the acceptance of a heretical cult to end for the Imperium?
 

Attalus

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Senator Raoul :

"Senator Melissenos, I wonder what kind of reform joyous would want to take place for the Church. The canons follow the Word of God and the teachings of hundreds of holy men. There might theological debate on minor points but the creed is true and solid.
There might be some efforts to be done in earthly affairs that I could agree. Not that the taxes are that high, I would more say that they are inadequately used by some men. Maybe the local priests could be better educated to preach ... I remember once meeting a poor one in Thrace, a few miles from the City and who could not read the Bible. Poor soul ...
You can't really speak of "Reform" for such things who are merely restating the old canons
 

McGrey

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Senator Lazaros II MElissenos

*As Lazaros answers, there seem to be a bit of despair in the soft voice.*

In the first place, I'm asking questions because I myself have no answer that is really satisfying to me. It's just that in my lifetime alone, I have seen the citizens of Constantinople in uprising three times. Three times I saw the city burn, three times I saw it drown in blood. I lost family to this uprisings. And that's only one city in the empire. From one end of the empire to the other the so called hoi polloi, Romans to be true, is rising in arms already – and I think we should start to ask ourselves why that is – and if we strike now without mercy against the Angeloduli, we will worsen the situation to a degree that can destroy the empire.

Have I answers? No.
Have I solutions? No.
All I have are questions.

*Lazaros is silence for a moment, before adding silently.*

Call me a heretic, if you will. Burn me, if you will. But if we at the topic of remembering history, remember also what happened when the western faith split. The Bishop of Rome led the catholic Christendom in a crusade against the cathar heretics. It became a war that devastated Europe and made it rife for the picking when the despicable Xenoi arrived. If we now start a civil war of religion, we might become rife for the picking ourselfs.
 

Serpent

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Senator Marius Serapis

"Noone has called you a heretic, Lazaros. And you should not fear to speak your mind amongst us who are your brothers. But I believe you are wrong. The rebellions that plague the Imperium, and Angelodoulism itself, are caused by failures in policy. The reckless waste of the Blue Demes naval expansions, the Polish war, the corruption and power-plays of the Dynatoi all played their part, but that is history now. We must learn from the past, but deal with the challenges of today. Angelodoulism is the greatest threat we are facing and it can not be allowed to grow unchallenged any longer.

The war of religion will likely come, wether we want it to or not. Better it should come now when most of Christemdom still follow the Faith than when the Heretics have us outnumbered. As our Speaker spoke, accepting the heresy will merely trigger a rebellion of the faithful. And when that happens we will all have a far more difficult choice to make."
 

zenphoenix

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{{Just wondering, Czoklet, will there be a unique Imperium Wars of Religion disaster?}}