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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Enlil

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Senator Decius Pylaeus (Faction Speaker of the White Demes)

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 Lodovico di Capponi (White Demes)

Yes, esteemed speaker, I did serve as Chorepískopos in Pisa. Why the Archbishop did not appear worries me, as even though the common man of Pisa has long since set aside his prayers and soul for Mammon, the Archbishop, at least during my time was as pious as any Romanoi. Of course though my rank of Chorbishop places me in some esteem, it is nothing compared to that of an Archbishop. I could try to represent Pisa to the best of my abilities should you wish. If allowed, I also could send a letter to the Serene Doge, petitioning for the right to represent the republic. {[ wink wink Czoklet or esteemed Speaker ;)]] Grave religious matters must trouble the Republic, or something worse to prevent him from appearing.

And I must agree with Senator Lazaros II, a religious civil war would tear our empire to pieces just as that of the Germans. This worship of the Angeloi is clearly nothing more than the spiritual successor of Catharism. I mean, their leader is even a woman, and their millenialistic claims are akin to those of the Heretic-Emperor himself. The Cathars wear many masks my friends.


It is clear that action must be done. Another Cathar uprising holds terrible portents for the Empire. The Germans have long been rebellious, and the return of that dreaded heresy would only be fuel for the fire.

The Synod is our only hope. The Heresiarch must be brought to terms.
 

Mach Twelve

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{{ I'm seeing a lot of heresy in this meeting. Good thing that Commissar Mandromenos isn't present.... because it would end up looking like this.

HERESY! *BLAM!*
}}
 

RedInc

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{{ I'm seeing a lot of heresy in this meeting. Good thing that Commissar Mandromenos isn't present.... because it would end up looking like this.

HERESY! *BLAM!*
}}
{{You keep saying that. Besides, it's not *BLAM!* it's *BLAM!*}}

Senator Belissarios Leonidos (White Demes)

*After the meeting has gone on for a few minutes Belissarios finally arrives at the meeting. He realizes he is late and curses the Ravennan traffic - even though he came through Ravenna with a guarded escort pretty much every other minor noble worth his titles had the same idea.*

*You can see that in the mere few months between the Senate session and the Synod that Belissarios has much changed, at least in appearance. He wears bejeweled golden rings and green robes, and his spectacles are rimmed with silver. The magnificent "gifts" sent by his (to him, unknown) benefactors has allowed the boy who had nothing, who was sheltered all his life from plague and riot to suddenly get whatever he wanted.*

"My brothers of faith, of Deme and of Rome! It is good to see you again. Well, most of you anyway. Sorry for the tardiness, you would not believe how many carraiges and armed escorts traverse Ravenna at this hour."

"Senator Serapis and Speaker Pylaeus, I want to see these Diabolos-worshipping heretics burned as much as the next guy but at the current state of the Imperium this simply cannot be done. Well over half of the population in Egypt, many of those in Asia Minor and several of the peasantry even here in Ravenna follow the faith, and while Mamluke insurgents wreak havok in Egypt most of these areas are relatively peaceful - in fact, Asia Minor is one of the few safe havens in the Imperium left. A witch hunt of Cathar proportions will most likely result in myself and several others seeking perminant residence in Graecia proper if you know what I mean. Not to mention the Mongol rebels marching to Armenia, the plot of rebellion in Italia by Longobard scum and Taurica near collapse, and our army, navy and Administration is thinly stretched. Though sadly it seems we have very little say in the matter."

"Senator di Capponi, you speak as though Pisa is worthy of representation in the Synod. The foul traitors have sold their souls to the Ruinous Powers the Xenoi worship long ago for a quick buck, and are hardly worth the Archbishop they have."
 

Mach Twelve

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{{You keep saying that. Besides, it's not *BLAM!* it's *BLAM!*}}
{{Even if you are right, correcting a Commissar is heresy.

So, HERESY! *BLAM!*}}
 
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Serpent

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Senator Marius Serapis


"Then what can be done, Senator Leonidos? Shall we continue to do nothing and allow the Imperium to be completely overrun by this satanic cult? No. It must be stopped while there's still a chance to do so. And now, with the blasphemer within our grasp is the perfect opportunity. Without her they will be shaken, leaderless and likely to fall apart to infighting and doctrinal differences. Even as the core of her movement grows more fanatical the vast majority of opportunistic thugs and misguided peasants will lose their hope and faith and can be returned to the embrace of the true Church."

"If only the Senate had been united in condemning her from the start all of this could have been avoided. But most of us were too afraid of her name to dare speak against her, too fearful for our lives and priviliges to do our duty for the Empire. And now she has gathered a rabble of millions in her defense. How strong will she be if we continue to hesitate, to allow her to rule us by fear?"

"And yet you seem more concerned with Pisa than the Angelodoulists. At least Pisa is Christian, at least they claim to share our true Orthodox faith. They have long been our enemies, true. But they need not be so now. Their customs are abhorrent to us and their merchants threaten Roman trade, yes, but Pisa is still the least of our worries. And in this they could be an asset.

"You say they have sold their souls to the Xenoi. Well, perhaps they once did. But now they are at war, fighting for their lives and profits against our greatest enemy. And while it was an unwise policy to rely on loans and mercenaries to fight unneccessary wars it would have been far more expensive to take those loans and hire those mercenaries elsewhere. Pisa has been a nuisance, yes, but never really a threat. And I imagine they could be an ally against the Heresy too, even as they are our ally against the Xenoi. The Angelodoulists are even more abhorrent to them than it is to us in the Imperium, for at least in Pisa they can not hide their complacency behind her name."

"And as for any dreams of reclaiming their lands for Rome, with the Imperium in its current state that is a long way off indeed. Better by far to smooth over our ancient grievances and befriend them so we have at least one front safe from foreign threat. Let the enemy of our enemy be our friend."

"Di Capponi..." He smiles at the irony of the situation. "If you could in any way bring Pisan support against the Angelodoulos, you have the full support of me and my House."
 

RedInc

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{{Even if you are right, correcting a Commissar is heresy.

So, HERESY! *BLAM!*}}
{{MachTwelve, you're one catchy theme song and one foxy sidekick away from having your own TV show.}}

Senator Belissarios Leonidos (White Demes)

"For once Serapis I find myself in agreement with you, on Sophia. She has to be brought down here before the situation escalates. However it seems that our dear friend Pylaeus has the delusion that we can spare the rescources to go on a door-to-door witch hunt once she is brought down. As you said, bringing their leader down will halt their advance and turn them against each other, causing perhaps some of them to return to the true faith. Perhaps later, after the Imperium has recovered and much of the heresy is splintered we could procure the rescources to 'finish them off' but I fear most of us will not live to see that day."

"The Pisans may be Christian, but only barely so. They send mercenaries to raid Graecia and Anatolia in the guise of Xenoi slavers to steal crops, property and captives to be sold back in Pisa, likely to be sold to the Xenoi for use in another one of their perverted 'rituals'. They freely drink the damned
xocoatl, and smoke the accursed tobacco without fear of consequence. They may be Christian, Serapis, but they are not our moral equal. If they were represented and had a voice in the Synod then there is not a single soul in the Imperium who would take them seriously!"

"And there is no man I would trust less to take the job then di-" *He pauses, as he finally realizes the gravity of what is going on* "er, I mean yes. Di Capponi, see if you... can, er, represent..." *cough* "Pisa in the Synod. Did I say that right?"
 

Serpent

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{{MachTwelve, you're one catchy theme song and one foxy sidekick away from having your own TV show.}}
{{
He could borrow my battle-nuns if he wants. "Commisar Mandromenos and the Nuns of War fighting Heresy!!! every wednesday night at 8."
}}


Senator Marius Serapis


"I imagine finding and burning every last adherent of the heresy won't be the highest priority of the State, with everything else that's going on. So the full scale witch hunt will have to wait. Eliminating the leadership will be essential, though. As will shutting down their printing presses and silencing their public preaching, or better yet use their own channels of information to spread misinformation and destabilize them. After that our own propaganda can win over the masses."

"Yes, Senator Leonidos, I think you said that right." He smiles widely.

"Now, where is our dear host?" He looks towards the entrance. "The traffic won't be enough to hinder the Megas Domesticas, surely."
 

McGrey

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Senator Lazaros II Melissenos

He might be occupied with the Synod itself. From what I heard, the influence of his family in the clergy was diminished after the death of his brother, patriarch Niketas. His successor has appointed many bishops loyal to his own house, the Taronites, and as such to the Komnenoi. I wonder how that influences the power base of our host. And the synod for that matter. I wonder if the Komnenoi and the Dalassenos will use this occasion as stage for their petty feud.
 

Attalus

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Senator Raoul :

* The old monk seems a little upset by the talk of his collegues. He understood how the Whites could have a say in the Senate when faced by ignorant Reds and on the fringe of blasphemy Blues but here they acted like Patriarchs even when no decision had been done. He decides to take on the current conversation*

That is what I fear gentlemen. The Komnenoi and Dalassenoi could very well try to take advantage of this situation. It would be very easy. Let us say that a "riot" erupts : men of standing could easily sneak one or two assassinations in the lot of dead. In the confusion, who could say anything ?

And I hear that you ask what our Demes can do for the Council ? clearly we don't have the power to influence it decisively. You might have shared a meal in Konstantinopolis with one of the Patriarchs but that doesn't mean you can use them. We aren't dynatoi. At least we could try to safeguard the Synod from others influence, but even that would prove to be an impossible task as you pointed with the Taronites and thus the Komnenoi controlling the higher seats of Christendom. Frankly you speak as if you had a say in matters of the Church ; you don't. Sometimes I prefer the septimicism of Melissenos that the pride displayed here. The Church will rule out the matters and we will then apply their decision : that is the duty of the White Demes.

So unless someone decides that he has the answer on the Church's problems that will satisfy every men, and women, in Ravenna, I think we should discuss our own role in the City. The Megas Domestikos has not sent for a message yet but maybe it would be better to adopt a unified point of view towards him. Is it in our interest to support him in all his actions or should we adopt another "position" ?
 

Blogman66

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Senator Andronikos Ouranos :

*Over the years, the once young Senator has become an relatively aged individual, stress lines already forming on his weathered face. He had been attending the meeting at the same time as his other compatriots, but stayed in silence during their debate until he could speak up.*

"I agree with Senator Serapis, eliminating the leaders directly under Sophia would be a top priority rather than going after the common heretical peasantry. Especially during these troubled times where we barely control our own lands."

He turns to face Raoul.

"If I may, we must be wary of all men in Ravenna, I would say in the whole Imperium these days. Supporting him would reinforce our lacklustre control of the Senate so far, but at the peril of the Megas Domestikos' personal agenda being against our own. However, waiting for his beckon may leave us with nothing, and the Komneoi and Dalassenoi may fill up the void. I suggest being forward with him, never outright supporting him but keeping it vague enough for him to believe so. Learning his point of view on this situation is the priority, for we need to know how it may impact the future."
 

ThetrueColt

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Decius Pylaeus (Faciton Speaker of the White Demes)

Senator Lodovico di Capponi (White Demes)

Yes, esteemed speaker, I did serve as Chorepískopos in Pisa. Why the Archbishop did not appear worries me, as even though the common man of Pisa has long since set aside his prayers and soul for Mammon, the Archbishop, at least during my time was as pious as any Romanoi. Of course though my rank of Chorbishop places me in some esteem, it is nothing compared to that of an Archbishop. I could try to represent Pisa to the best of my abilities should you wish. If allowed, I also could send a letter to the Serene Doge, petitioning for the right to represent the republic. {[ wink wink Czoklet or esteemed Speaker ;)]] Grave religious matters must trouble the Republic, or something worse to prevent him from appearing.

And I must agree with Senator Lazaros II, a religious civil war would tear our empire to pieces just as that of the Germans. This worship of the Angeloi is clearly nothing more than the spiritual successor of Catharism. I mean, their leader is even a woman, and their millenialistic claims are akin to those of the Heretic-Emperor himself. The Cathars wear many masks my friends.


It is clear that action must be done. Another Cathar uprising holds terrible portents for the Empire. The Germans have long been rebellious, and the return of that dreaded heresy would only be fuel for the fire.

The Synod is our only hope. The Heresiarch must be brought to terms.
So the absence of a Pisan member for the synodos presents us with a unique opportunity indeed. I fear that sending a messenger would only leave us waiting for the entire synodos. Sadly, I cannot directly support anyone who wants to represent Pisae for obvious reasons. However, the white demes knows a lot of people in the ranks of the church. Should a senator come to the conclusion to appeal to the Patriarchs to represent Pisae out of his own volition, I wouldn't be able to stop them. In fact, I would not know of such a thing until I first hear it.

A man sees an opportunity. A man can make a decision. A man can move himself. That's all I can say at this point, esteemed di Capponi.

{{I feel like you might want to present this opportunity to @CzokletMuss , but you do not have the official support of the white demes. Remember that you are a member of the church though and you also have risen in the ranks as we all have, so I'd think it would be interesting to give it a shot.}}

"Senator di Capponi, you speak as though Pisa is worthy of representation in the Synod. The foul traitors have sold their souls to the Ruinous Powers the Xenoi worship long ago for a quick buck, and are hardly worth the Archbishop they have."
Even though the Pisans may be our enemies in the field of battle, they are still Orthodox Christians. When it comes to the synodos, they should have send someone. Their absence will only separate them further from all of Christendom.

*Decius listens to the ongoing the discussion and collects his thoughts.*

To summarize it, two of us are keen on pointing out the weakness of our divine Imperium and present nothing as a solution, choosing hesitation and inaction instead of seizing the moment. If the white demes would have been like this, we would not have influenced anything in the Imperium at all. We should do everything that we can to serve His Imperial Majesty as God's messenger on Earth. And while I presented my personal opinion on the matter already, from a political point of view, we should probably adhere to the rules. If His Imperial Majesty would have wantes our counsel on the Angelodouloi, he would have chosen representatives from our ranks as well. As he hasn't, we should respect that decision and eagerly follow the proceedings of the synodos.

In the end, the Patriarchs will come to a decision. Every loyal and good Romaioi should respect the outcome of the synodos. But we can talk about a more united decision once we actually have seen some more results. So far, nothing has yet happened. Let us not make premature and perhaps unwise decisions.

*Decius pauses for a moment.*

As far as our good friend is concerned, there is no proper way to act right now, as we don't know what is going to happen. It would be foolish to abandon our position if things are nor starting to move. Furthermore, if the dynatoi decide to act, we need to react quickly as well. Depending on the situation, we might keep him on our side, we might abandon him and we might even not support any of the fighting families. Who can say what will be wise if we do not know what is to come?

The deciding factors are the motives of the ones in power. What do they achieve, and by what means? Are their actions justified or will they show such a degree of arrogance that no good Romaioi can honestly support their cause?

My suggestion is this: We need to wait and see what happens, for we are not the ones who will put things in motion. Once something happens, we need to use everything at our disposal to uncover the hidden truth and the agenda of the players if we want to make the right decision. It is only then that we, as a demes, can decide on a proper course of action.
Do you not agree?


*During his proposal, Decius walked around the chapel interior like he was in the middle of a debate in the senate. Once he is finished, he takes a seat, looking a little exhausted.*
 

Serpent

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Senator Marius Serapis


Marius nods "So let us wait."

"And while we wait, esteemed Spatharius, I would like a word with you in private."
 

CzokletMuss

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{{Even if you are right, correcting a Commissar is heresy.
So, HERESY! *BLAM!*}}
{{ I think we could use a little moratorium on W40k references, effective immediately.
BTW I tend to draw some inspiration from themes present in W40k but this AAR is as much - if not more - inspired by Byzantine history IRL.
{{I feel like you might want to present this opportunity to @CzokletMuss , but you do not have the official support of the white demes. Remember that you are a member of the church though and you also have risen in the ranks as we all have, so I'd think it would be interesting to give it a shot.}}
Although I would like to see di Capponi questioning Sophia as much as the next follower of this AAR I see one major problem with this idea - how can one represent Pisa and be a member of the Senate at the same time?
{{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.}}
Using religion for tax evasion purposes? I'm really proud of how well you are role-playing politicans guys :D
{{Just wondering, Czoklet, will there be a unique Imperium Wars of Religion disaster?}}
That's the plan. With how things are going I wouldn't expect any unique Disasters in ISF mod alpha v.0.1 though. }}
 
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McGrey

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{{ @CzokletMuss Say, are the titles the white Demes Members got inheritable by their successors in office?}}
 

RedInc

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Senator Belissarios Leonidos (White Demes)

"Indeed Pylaeus, we do not have much of a say in this - which begs the question: Why are we here? You keep speaking of our benefactor the Megas Domestikos."

*He plays with a ring on his right hand.*

"Hopefully he shall arrive soon, and state the reason why we are gathered here."


{{Your cue, @CzokletMuss }}
 

Rascar Capac

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{{As a sidenote, I just realized today that there never was Albanian culture in game terms, what with TIM being converted and all. Bah.}}
 

CzokletMuss

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{{ @CzokletMuss Say, are the titles the white Demes Members got inheritable by their successors in office?}}
{{ Nope.
Senator Belissarios Leonidos (White Demes)

"Indeed Pylaeus, we do not have much of a say in this - which begs the question: Why are we here? You keep speaking of our benefactor the Megas Domestikos."

*He plays with a ring on his right hand.*

"Hopefully he shall arrive soon, and state the reason why we are gathered here."


{{Your cue, @CzokletMuss }}
Dalassenos is not coming because of certain... reasons. }}
 

RedInc

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{{Darn.}}

{{Note how he didn't say nobody would be coming...}}
 

Blogman66

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Senator Andronikos Ouranos

*He shakes his head*

I still believe that the "wait and see" tactic will only lead to the White Demes getting outpaced by the dynatoi and the other Demes. But if a united front is needed, so be it.
 

Attalus

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Senator Raoul :

"I agree with our Speaker except on one thing : we won't be able to stay "neutral" if a fight erupts. For the Komnenoi and the other Senators we will be easy targets because of all the gifts we have received ; the Megas Domestikos will also surely punish us afterwards. Staying neutral is a fantasy ; we are only condemning us to be subject to the wills of others later on"