• 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.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Do not be ready to die for the Imperator, but live for him and fight in his and God's name! All drouggai, follow me to glory!
Praise the Restored Rome! Laudate Syagrius Rex, Augustus Leon!
 

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CHAPTER 24
1395-1400
SWARMS OF FLIES

On 1st day of January in the year of Our Lord 1400 the illustrious Imperial Council of the Imperium Romanum have assembled to debate and advice the blessed Augustus Basileus Autokrator of the Imperium Romanum Leon Angelos, chosen by Our Lord and Savior as God's Regent on Earth and Protector of the Christendom.

Subjects of the 23th Imperial Council assembly:
- report of Scrinium Barbarorum concerning: xenoi invasion of Bohemia;
- report of Scrinium Barbarorum concerning: Timur's invasion of Mesopotamia;
- report of Scrinium Barbarorum concerning: internal instability of the Kingdom of Poland.


Present members of the Imperial Council:

- Megistos Doukas, Magistros of Basileia Romaion and Head of the House Doukas
- Petros Komnenos, Strategos of Basileia Romaion and doux of Paphlagonia
- Photios Batatzes, Sakellarios of Basileia Romaion and doux of Longobardia
- Imperial Regent Thomas Angelos, Mystikos of Basileia Romaion

And Leon Doukas, Grandmaster of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, as a guest.

Minutes made by vestarches Thestor, eunuch of the Great Palace



PHOTIOS BATATZES: Kyrios. You wanted to see me.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Yes I did, sakelllarios. Please, sit down. Would you like some wine?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Thank you very much, mystikos, but I'm fasting.
THOMAS ANGELOS: As you wish. How's your arm?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I can't complain. How's the Imperial Family?
THOMAS ANGELOS: They are leaving the City tomorrow. Varangians and ten thousand tagmata will protect the Augustus and his wife and son during the journey. By the way, the Empress is very thankful for your gift.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I'm just a humble servant of the Throne.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Don't be so modest, friend. Valeria Kontostephanos is known for her refined taste.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Indeed. I've heard that strategos left Konstantinoupolis today.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Yes. The Augustus sent doux Petros Komnenos to Adrianopolis.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Adrianopolis?
THOMAS ANGELOS: There were rumors about Catholic cult gaining influence there. The heretics must be dealt with.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Of course.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Does this surprise you?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Sending strategos to the thema under jurisdiction of the Brotherhood?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Yes.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Should it?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Doesn't it?
:moment of silence:
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Ahem. Illustrious mystikos, I-
THOMAS ANGELOS: Please Photios, let's skip the formalities. Speak up your mind.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Very well. What do you want, Thomas? Meeting like this in the Council chamber before the formal assembly begins. What is it that you want to discuss in private with me?


THOMAS ANGELOS: Petros can't join us today but we're going to have a guest.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Really? Who is he?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Leon Doukas, Grandmaster of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre. Can you believe it? How bold they are!
PHOTIOS BATATZES: The ambition was always strong among the members of the House Doukas.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Ambition, you say? Two Doukoi on the Imperial Council meeting! With Petros Komnenos forced to leave to clean up the mess caused by them in the first place and Ecclesiarch accompanying the Augustus in his journey to Hierusalem that leaves only the two of us. Don't you see that he's sending us a message? A warning?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: That would be a mistake. Doux Megistos Doukas is known for many things but he does not make mistakes.
THOMAS ANGELOS: He's an arrogant old fart if he thinks we don't see through his game.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Game? His cousin is a grandmaster of the Brotherhood and after the war he himself became magistros and therefore president of this council and chief advisor of the Augustus. Plus his great-grandson Leontios is married to porphyrogenetissa Iulia who is third in line to the Throne. What's more he can hope to achieve?


THOMAS ANGELOS: Whatever it is, he's not going to succeed. Even more influence of the accursed Doukoi in the Great Palace? Over my dead body.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: So what do you plan to do, Thomas?
THOMAS ANGELOS: We have to kill them.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: “We”?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Yes, you and me.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Please forgive me.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Where are you going? Stay.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Listen-
THOMAS ANGELOS: I said stay! I trust you, Photios, and this is a privilege rare enough that you should be honored. And it's not only me – the Augustus himself holds you and your skills in high regard.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I'm a loyal servant of the Throne.
THOMAS ANGELOS: You're not the only one – believe me, I wanted to talk about this among the three of us. Alas, Petros had to leave the City this morning. He's a good man and he despises the Doukoi – it was him who protested against the presence of Megistos in this Council the loudest.


PHOTIOS BATATZES: Does the Augustus know?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Not yet. But he's going to make me the Imperial Regent during his absence.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Slaying magistros is treason.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Treason? I have to protect my House – and the Imperium – from the Doukoi snakes. Besides, who's saying anything about slaying? There are other ways.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I'm sure you know them all, mystikos.
THOMAS ANGELOS: I see you're not convinced.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: May I speak openly?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Of course.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: You said that Doukoi made a mistake but you were wrong - this plan of yours is a mistake. And a great one. Do you really think that the Augustus is going to ignore the death of Megistos? He's the head of the House Doukas!
THOMAS ANGELOS: This doesn't mean he may challenge the Throne, Photios. Everybody can die. And he has to die for the Imperium to be saved from another bloody civil war.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: …
THOMAS ANGELOS: Do you remember what happened after Luis II was murdered? Do you remember what the Augustus when one of his brothers didn't listen to his... advice?


PHOTIOS BATATZES: Of course I do. It was only five years ago.
THOMAS ANGELOS: It was a dark year... the Augustus assassinated, Sword of Islam subjugating the East unopposed. Failed campaign against one of the independent horse-lords, what's his name...
PHOTIOS BATATZES: High Chief Sulisław of Pecs.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Yes. Accursed Mongol and his “conversion”. Bah! It was a blasphemy against Iesus Kristos.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Didn't the kaiser of the Germans send his envoys demanding Augustus' niece as his bride shortly after the campaign for Pecs?
THOMAS ANGELOS: He did, arrogant barbarian. But it's of no concern – their days are numbered. But while Germans are dying, the Imperium stands like it did centuries ago. Do you know why?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Thanks to Iesus Kristos and His grace, of course.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Of course. But also thanks to the sacrifices we make so that our citizens can live in peace. The Latins never understood this, they never had to face Persians or Muslims or the Horde. Divided and conflicted they were an easy prey for the invaders form the Far West. Today they are almost completely eradicated – and the Imperium stands. Because we know what's the price for survival and we pay it in blood. Do you remember the Norse Host? This started few months after German insult.


PHOTIOS BATATZES: I remember this perfectly. It was a sound plan – several thousands brave refugees from kingdom of Sweden united under the banner of a skilled and experienced Varangian who was to lead them against xenoi.
THOMAS ANGELOS: They were disorganized, malnourished, ill. Most of them weren't even soldiers. Even Ragnvald as their leader couldn't achieve much with such excuse for an army. Poor bastard. But he did his job – the invaders from the Far West were occupied for seven months. Almighty God only knows how many innocent lives were spared in thema of Aragon because of this. One thing is certain, he did get the attention of the savages and their raiders
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Yes. He paid with the Norse blood for the safety of Romans.
THOMAS ANGELOS: As he was sworned to do.


PHOTIOS BATATZES: They were Christians, Thomas.
THOMAS ANGELOS: And they died like a martyrs – I'm sure Our Lord will reward them for their bravery. By serving the Throne we serve Iesus Kristos, Photios. Do you know why the leader of the savages died?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Of course – he was murdered by his cousin.


THOMAS ANGELOS: And why this happened?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: You are mystikos, you tell me.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Because he ignored Dark Gods.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Gods? They are nothing more but daemons, servants of Diabolos.
THOMAS ANGELOS: They are – but for the xenoi locust they are gods. He refused to respect them and that's why he died. And how unfortunate – to think that we were so sure that the rule of the Young Wolf would plunge their realm in war and rebellions. Nobody expected that he will defeat king Hans Half-Hand so quickly – we shouldn't underestimate Cacamatzin Acatl.


PHOTIOS BATATZES: Why are you telling me this?
THOMAS ANGELOS: I'm trying to show you that sometimes drastic measures had to be taken and that sacrifices have to be made.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I'm not a boy who needs a lecture, Thomas.
THOMAS ANGELOS: You are good with numbers – tell me, how many Roman swords were raised against the Throne in 1395 and 1396?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: If you are asking about the armies of the traitors, together they counted more then 100,000 troops but I'm not a strategos. I may be wrong.
THOMAS ANGELOS: But you fought during the civil war, just like I and the whole Imperium did. You lost your left arm on the battlefield. Do you know why?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Because that damned Pisan dog was quicker than me.


THOMAS ANGELOS: I meant why the civil war erupted.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Because men are greedy and hungry for power?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Because they lost themselves in the darkness, blind to the real danger. How come any Roman openly oppose the Throne while unspeakable nightmares dwell beyond imperial limes? Did these traitors really thought that the barbarians were going to leave them alone after they rejected imperial protection?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: In many Houses corrupted and weak aristoi are being bred.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Yes. There only few which retained their old glory. Komnenos, Batatzes, Kontostephanos, Makrembolites, Skleros – Great Houses of the Imperium.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: And Imperial Houses Angelos and Doukas.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Careful, Photios – you don't want to say that in the presence of the Augustus. It's been more than 100 years since Doukoi ruled the Imperium and it won't change. But yes, so precious few strains of truly noble blood – and yet these foolish aristoi from the minor Houses are happy to bleed fighting against the Throne and for what? Chaos breeds only chaos.



PHOTIOS BATATZES: I know. I was there, on the fields of Spalathos, Ravenna and many others.
THOMAS ANGELOS: You saw the misery which this pointless struggle brought upon us. But believe me my friend, even loosing one's arm is nothing compared to loosing one's sibling.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Certainly.
THOMAS ANGELOS: The Augustus didn't want this. Nobody wanted this. But we were terribly weakened by the invasion of Syria. Sword of Islam didn't destroy us but the wound it made was festering. Like flies attracted by decaying flesh one by one themata rose in rebellion. The Imperial Army was just a shadow of itself, forced to fight against fellow Romans led by traitors. This had to be done and the Augustus understood this. He was strong enough to carry this burden for the good of the Imperium. You were on the Hippodrome during the execution – you saw his pain.


PHOTIOS BATATZES: I did. But what you are asking me to do... Even if we eliminate old Doukas wouldn't it only start a new war, even worse than the last one? After all Doukoi didn't rise against the Throne.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Come on, Photios – we know that they were pulling the strings. You found the proof of their involvement. The gold they used to hire mercenaries for the traitors stolen from the imperial treasury...
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Technically it wasn't stolen from the treasury – they were keeping a big fraction of taxes for themselves for years.
THOMAS ANGELOS: It doesn't matter. They are the danger, Photios – they are the enemy. Just like xenoi.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I thought xenoi are soulless. House Doukas did a lot of things but I doubt anyone can deny that its members are Romans and Christians.
THOMAS ANGELOS: I'm not interested in a theological disputes. Soulless or not, it will be decided during the Ecumenical Council of Hierusalem by the bishops of the Holy Church and the Augustus. What's important is that they are threatening every living Christian and the Imperium, just like Doukoi. Do you really think that the Christendom is going to survive if the Imperium - Saint Markos protect us – falls? Do you think Our Lord will guide them like he guides the Augustus and not punish them for their sins, pride first of them all? And I can promise you that, as the sons and daughters of Markos we won't surrender our divine right to rule. No. Doukoi ascension means chaos and death. We can't let it happen and that's why old Megistos must die.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: But as you just said it, he's old. He can die at any moment. Why risk so much if it will change the day of his funeral for only a year or two?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Kingdom of Poland.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Kyrios?


THOMAS ANGELOS: King Niezamysl of Spis was our ally. He ruled with an iron hand and only because of this his kingdom still exists. But he wasn't strong enough – he lack the strength of character to do what was necessary.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: But the rebellion failed. His son was triumphant.


THOMAS ANGELOS: Yes but he didn't know that. When he was dying in July 1398 the realm was torned apart in a pointless war. Brother against brother, Christian against Christian. And it ended only month ago, in November 1399 – who's to say it won't happen again? Either way, kingdom of Poland is now weak and ruled by a 8-year old. All the barbarians have to do to conquer it is to extend their hands and take it – and the darkness will fall upon another Christian realm. All because the king refused to make a sacrifice for the good of his people.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Let's end this lecture here - I've heard enough.
THOMAS ANGELOS: And what say you?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I need some time to think about it.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Of course. The Holy Synod will take at least two months – during my regency we're free to act. We have to do this, Photios.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: For the good of the Imperium.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Always.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: …
THOMAS ANGELOS: And let me assure you, the Augustus won't forget your loyal service to the Throne. There are still few themata taken from the traitors which are not yet allocated.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I see.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Very well – take your time then and let me know when you have the answer.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Yes, mystikos. Is there anything else you would like to discuss?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Actually yes, there is. We're going to talk about Latin kingdoms today but there's one more pressing matter.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Timur.


THOMAS ANGELOS: Cursed be his name. To invade Mesopotamia and on 25th December of all days... Barbarians fighting among each other is what I pray for every day – there's nothing better than to see the enemies of the Imperium bleed out. But if Scourge of the East manages to conquer Mesopotamia... He already subjugated every independent horse-lords in this region. He's growing stronger with every month, Photios. And we can do nothing about it.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: There must be something. There's always something.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Even if we had enough troops to attack him, who's going to face ghazis led by him? Do you know how the soldiers are calling him?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Witch-khan. Angelos-slayer.
THOMAS ANGELOS: We can't face him. All we can do is wait and hope that war with the Horde will left him weakened.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: The infidels are calling him mahdi. Do you think he may really be him?
THOMAS ANGELOS: The Muslims god is nothing more but a daemon. Timur the Lame is no mahdi. With Iesus Kristos on our side we should not fear him – his power will wither and die like this of Atilla or Alp-Arslan or tens of others before him. And the Imperium will last.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Saint Markos protect us.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Saint Markos protect us. But we are going to talk about this later – there's also the issue of xenoi invasion of Bohemia.


PHOTIOS BATATZES: I know. Are we going to aid the queen? Our coffers are not as full as they used to be few years ago.
THOMAS ANGELOS: No. We don't have enough soldiers to protect our own limes properly – did you know that Aztec raiders showed up again in Aragon?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I did not. So we won't help them.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Why should we? Iesus Kristos judged the Germans as unworthy of his protection – we can't ignore divine judgment. Let the kaiser protect what he's claiming to be his realm. Besides, the invasion started in July – even if we wanted to help them it's already too late. Only God's intervention can save queen Barbora and her subjects.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: May I see the map?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Obviously. Here.


PHOTIOS BATATZES: Wouldn't the fall of Bohemia endanger Polish king even more?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Yes. But we won't let Kingdom of Poland fall – it's existence is crucial for the security of the Imperium.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: How's that?
THOMAS ANGELOS: Look. Kingdom shares its borders with the Horde, Romuva pagans from Lithuania and savages from the Far West. If it falls that would mean that the Horde and invaders can fight each other.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Forgive me but I'm not a strategos and-
THOMAS ANGELOS: What? You slaughtered this damned Pisans with your themata in Ravenna.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Perhaps but I was just doing my duty as a doux. I'm nowhere near the level of military experience or knowledge of Petros Komnenos. But why letting xenoi fight is a bad thing? It's beneficial to us, you said it yourself. Let them bleed.
THOMAS ANGELOS: True but according to this report from Scrinium Barbarorum... They never faced each other, West and East. If they do... one of them is going to win. And with the Horde weakened by infighting and Timur, I bet it would be Aztecs. And if they take lands between Germany and what once was Rus they would be truly unstoppable.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Iesus Kristos... Is this possible?
THOMAS ANGELOS: It's not impossible. And that's why we must protect Kingdom of Poland at any cost. Polish knights are perhaps the only thing stopping Europe from being united by xenoi. And that's why porphyrogenetissa Eustathia is going to marry king Zegota.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Daughter of the Augustus is to marry Polish king?
EUNUCH: All rise in the presence of illustrious...
THOMAS ANGELOS: Doukoi are coming.
EUNUCH: ...Magistros of the Imperium Romanum...
THOMAS ANGELOS: We'll talk later. And Photios?
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Yes?
EUNUCH: ...and venerable Head of the Great House Doukas...
THOMAS ANGELOS: I have your daughter. Don't forget about this.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: I won't.
EUNUCH: ...doux Megistos Doukas with his cousin, Vestes and Grandmaster of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, Leon Doukas.
THOMAS ANGELOS: Kyrios.
PHOTIOS BATATZES: Kyrios.
MEGISTOS DOUKAS: My lords. Shall we begin?

 
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CzokletMuss

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The Aztec scourge continue to ravage the lands of Europe, It is past time that the empire pushed them out of Europe!
I'm afraid this is true.
Well done, it seems that there is a lot of court intrigue
Thanks! This was kinda an experiment - this chapter doesn't fit either in usual chronicle-like style nor in normal council meeting (only two characters talking). Tell me what you think about this please.

Oh, and next chapter is going to be dedicated to the Holy Synod. Sorry for a long break, I hope it won't happen again!
 

mike the knight

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Pilot00

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I'm afraid this is true.

Thanks! This was kinda an experiment - this chapter doesn't fit either in usual chronicle-like style nor in normal council meeting (only two characters talking). Tell me what you think about this please.

Oh, and next chapter is going to be dedicated to the Holy Synod. Sorry for a long break, I hope it won't happen again!
The internal politics of the imperium are more fun that giving war details IMHO. :D

And yes since you provide quality entertainment nobody has the right to be sad on the time. Take your time bro and thanks :)
 

Enlil

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The internal politics of the imperium are more fun that giving war details IMHO. :D

And yes since you provide quality entertainment nobody has the right to be sad on the time. Take your time bro and thanks :)
Couldn't agree more.
 

Stuyvesant

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I liked the pre-meeting scene. Lots of intrigue, jockeying for position within the Empire. The Doukai are up to their perfidious tricks, but Thomas Angelos stands ready to thwart their schemes!

Must say, Thomas is zealous in protecting the Empire and House Angelos, but his zeal appears to run dangerously close to putting the interest of House Angelos above that of the Empire. While I realize the two are nearly synonymous, I hope his attempts to destroy the Doukid powerbase won't cause more damage than good to the Empire as a whole.

It's also interesting to watch Thomas working to get Photios Batatzes on his side - there's the appeal to the higher cause of the Empire, the innate perfidity of all Doukai, the outside risks threatening the Empire... But then there's also the lure of titles and lands, and finally the implied threat to Batatzes's daughter. Thomas is not a very nice man. Then again, the Empire probably can't afford to be led by nice men right now - a certain ruthlessness is necessary, in the face of the daunting threats facing the Imperium.
 

Ricardo Rolo

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Hum, so now the Basileia is the unofficial protector of the Ilkhanate ? :p That might not be enough, since the Aztecs can get to the Mongols without passing through Poland ...

Anyway, the hatred of the Angeloi for the Doukas is ... staggering, especially if you consider that most of the alive Angeloi are descendants of the last Doukas emperor :D ( and this is without conting with other more ancient Doukas in the Angeloi family tree ... ). I just hope that the political manouvers against them will not lead to a civil war in the worst possible time. You already have a handful with the Iron Khan and the Xenoi ...
 

Zqrfmb

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It seems the fate of the empire is held on one end by the aztecs and on the other by timur, I'm surprised the aztecs didn't jump for a kingdom after the Syrian disaster. Not gonna lie, I expected this to end in a massive barbarian dogpile after that. Maybe if the timurids ever show a sign of weakness, you should repay their honor in kind and break truce to retake Syria, with interest on that territorial loan. Beat them at their own game of deceit and treachery, and all that.
 

Pilot00

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It seems the fate of the empire is held on one end by the aztecs and on the other by timur, I'm surprised the aztecs didn't jump for a kingdom after the Syrian disaster. Not gonna lie, I expected this to end in a massive barbarian dogpile after that. Maybe if the timurids ever show a sign of weakness, you should repay their honor in kind and break truce to retake Syria, with interest on that territorial loan. Beat them at their own game of deceit and treachery, and all that.
One cannot be held accountant of dealing without honor to barbarians.

This is an actual famous quote of someone I cant remember right now.
 

alphaomega66

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Yeah.... you are gonna need some gunpowder. FAST. I suggest trying to convert the Timurids. Then engineer their annexation by inheritance and succession.
 

Paragonfilmgoat

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For EU4 what should the colonial nations be?

Mexico-Mexikó

Colombia-Kolomvía

Brazil-Vrazilía

Peru-Peroú

California-Kalifórnia

Eastern America-Elysia

Canada- Kanadás

Caribbean-Karaïvikí̱

Texas-Téxas

La Plata-Argentium
 
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