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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

McGrey

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And thous darkness falls upon the empire...

It's a shame to see, to which hard measures the empire gets pushed. Only the historians of the future, in which the roman light shines over all of europe and into all corners of the world will be able to decide, if this steps where necessary or if the empire plunges itself into a dark age...

But besides that: That part is great written and interesting! And congratulation to the AARland Choice Award!
 

Enlil

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A Question for the Almighty descendants of Saint Markos. (May his soul rest in peace.) What of the rumors of Xenoi being subjugated in the Terra Sanguinibus? Those xenoi do not partake in the horrid sacrifices of the Nahua beasts. Their pagan rites, though blasphemous, are living in the unknown, unaware of the holiness of the restored Roman Empire. And what of the other pagans. Are the Tengri Warlords expected to escape with the horrors in Moesia?! These edicts allow the horrid Horse Lords to continue Status Quo! And what of the Pagans in Lithuania? Their raids also defy the limes of the empire's allies, attacking churches and men of the One True Faith. I propose to the Senate, and the glorious emperor himself, a cry from the people for action to be taken against these pagan barbarians! Long Live Rome! Hail Caesar! Hail Augustus Leon!
 

Enlil

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The Byzantines have taken an even more vicious turn. May the Xenoi show Rome its folly on the battlefield.
By goodness! Such blasphemy! We have seen the punishment for opposing the empire! You can take your Democratic, Pagan ideals and keep them with the Dolomici! Long live Rome! Praise the Emperor!
 

Leandor

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Whoa! Nice post! You really investigated about it! It It remembered me a lot of... my recent life (I'm a law student, so... damned Corpus Iuris Civilis...). But anyway, I enjoyed this chapter. I worried about the "dark path" that the blessed and true children of God are taking, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and Iesus Kristos understand that. Sometimes we need to flip some tables at some temples.

But what is calling my attention is the next stage of this AAR. It would be very interesting if you could do it the way that you are thinking. I think that all of us would like to vote sometimes and see it reflected on the roman drama!

That's all. I'm expecting the next chapter just like the next GoT episode! Hahaha.
 

CzokletMuss

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Let us all rejoice for the return of the Angeloi !
About the Synod, I have to say that it the fate reserved to the Xenoi is harsh and reminds me of some 20th century political regimes but well the Imperium is in a dire situation and the harsher the medicine the better recovery ! :D
The last beacon of civilisation must endure !
No price is to great for the survival of Christendom and Imperium. Or have you forgotten:

"In the Grim Darkness of the Crumbling Europe, there is only War.

It is the 1st millennium since the coming of Christ. For more than a thousand years the Roman Empire has stood, ruled from Constantinople. The Basileus is the Lord of innumerable lands by the Will of God and the might of his inexhaustible armies.

Mighty fleets cross the wide seas and vast armies give battle in his name on far lands. Greatest among his soldiers are the Imperial Tagmata, professional soldiers trained for war. Their comrades in arms are legion: levies and conscripts from the Themata, and the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre to name only a few. But for all their multitudes, they are barely enough to defend the Empire from heretics, heathens and invaders.

To live in these times is to be one amongst millions, it is to live in a collapsing, warring continent. These are the tales of these times. Forget the promise of progress and understanding for much is forgotten, never to be relearned. There is no peace amongst Men, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of heathen gods.
"
The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Imperium.

Hum, the hardline won the Synod in all fronts ;) But again, some clarifications are needed. As you already pointed in other chapters, there are a bunch of dynasties that only "converted" to the Xenoi gods to assure survival ( I do remeber specifically the Idrisids, but there should be more ). If ... err, I mean, when Basileia recovers those lands, what will be done with them?. They technically aren't Xenoi , but just humans that were forced to live under their yoke ... ;)

TBH I would have liked a chapter about what to do with non-Xenoi and non-islamic foreigners with some detail. You in game know about China ( Cathay ), India ( Hindustan ) , and due to Sunset Invasion, the Plains tribes and the Incas. Maybe the Basileia should start thinking about reaching those to rally them against the Xenoi, as the defender of God Creation ;)
But aren't the Incas considered Xenoi as well ?
That is what I would like to see clarified ;) The Inca in Sunset invasion timeline are said to have suffered a Aztec invasion as well, but they repelled it with Gunpowder weapons ( yeah, right, they invented or imported gunpowder ). Given that they should not have much love for the Aztecs, that Inca did not sacrificed humans to the gods and that the Inca did not threatened the Basileia, I assume that they would not be considered Xenoi in the terms used in this chapter ( they could even be this timeline counterpart to our Pester John ) ... More it does seem that the intolerance of the chapter above only applies to the Aztecs and the Muslims ( note the pardonning of the Jews and the complete absence of reference to the Tengri rulers ) .
As you pointed out, the matter of xenoi is a complicated one. The canons of the Holy Synod are just a first steps in exploring this issue. Obviously Romans or other good Christians who turn to the Dark Gods can't be considered soulless - they are not xenoi. However, they are apostates and traitors and shall be dealt with accordingly.

Chapter about what to do with barbarians will appears sooner or later (EU4) because it is a vital question which has to be answered. Right now however I don't plan to write about this in the next chapter or two.

Alliance with xenoi is out of the question obviously. As a player and writer I know of course about Cathay, Hindustan and Incas - I'm not sure they can be treated as equivalent of Prester John but yeah, they are definitely not the same as Aztecs. For now all I can say is that these issues will be explored thoroughly in the future.

Lack of reference to the Mongols was mainly due to the fact that steppe hordes were attacking the Imperium since, well, at least 4th century. Right now it's 1400 AD in the story, so it's more than a 1000 years of struggle against the horse-lords. Of course the reformation of Tengri faith is something new and will be adressed sooner or later but for the Romans babaric tribes from the East are an old foe (Bulgars, Magyars, Huns, Goths), just like Muslims.

EHRMAGERD DAT POST.
Seriously, that had to take a long time to write. I salute you.
Thank you! I'm having a lot of fun writing this :) If you feel like it, you can make some donation - for the Imperium, of course! (the image redirects to my blogspot page dedicated to my other AARs)


Donations will be spent on cofee, considering how much of it is consumed for every chapter to be made ;)

This is madness indeed...Its unfathomable that Orthodox Christians would decree other humans soulless. The Imperium is treading a very very dark path. It seems that they are losing their selves in their quest for survival, even setting up inquisitions....Lets hope that after the danger is past enlightenment will follow and they will rectify their mistakes, or God will abandon his children in disgust...
Let's hope indeed, for there is not much one man can do about it. But remember - even a man who has nothing can still have faith. Even a man who has nothing can still offer his life. And the Imperium will gladly accept his sacrifice. The Angeloi protect!

And thous darkness falls upon the empire...
It's a shame to see, to which hard measures the empire gets pushed. Only the historians of the future, in which the roman light shines over all of europe and into all corners of the world will be able to decide, if this steps where necessary or if the empire plunges itself into a dark age...
But besides that: That part is great written and interesting! And congratulation to the AARland Choice Award!
Yes, this are dark times and in growing darkness there is little place for compassion or doubt. The history will judge the Angeloi; for now though thanks to their efforts the Imperium still stands while the rest of Europe is dying. Whatever the future brings, the Imperium will not go down without a fight - the xenoi will drown in their own blood if they were to ever enter the City.

A Question for the Almighty descendants of Saint Markos. (May his soul rest in peace.) What of the rumors of Xenoi being subjugated in the Terra Sanguinibus? Those xenoi do not partake in the horrid sacrifices of the Nahua beasts. Their pagan rites, though blasphemous, are living in the unknown, unaware of the holiness of the restored Roman Empire. And what of the other pagans. Are the Tengri Warlords expected to escape with the horrors in Moesia?! These edicts allow the horrid Horse Lords to continue Status Quo! And what of the Pagans in Lithuania? Their raids also defy the limes of the empire's allies, attacking churches and men of the One True Faith. I propose to the Senate, and the glorious emperor himself, a cry from the people for action to be taken against these pagan barbarians! Long Live Rome! Hail Caesar! Hail Augustus Leon!
Note: please be moderate about role-playing like this, I really don't want to anger the mods and have this thread locked due to unauthorized interactivity :)

As for your questions, the barbarians will meet their fate soon enough. There are plans are put in motion as we speak to achieve it - more on that in the next chapter.

The Byzantines have taken an even more vicious turn. May the Xenoi show Rome its folly on the battlefield.


By goodness! Such blasphemy! We have seen the punishment for opposing the empire! You can take your Democratic, Pagan ideals and keep them with the Dolomici! Long live Rome! Praise the Emperor!
Well said!

Whoa! Nice post! You really investigated about it! It It remembered me a lot of... my recent life (I'm a law student, so... damned Corpus Iuris Civilis...). But anyway, I enjoyed this chapter. I worried about the "dark path" that the blessed and true children of God are taking, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and Iesus Kristos understand that. Sometimes we need to flip some tables at some temples.

But what is calling my attention is the next stage of this AAR. It would be very interesting if you could do it the way that you are thinking. I think that all of us would like to vote sometimes and see it reflected on the roman drama!

That's all. I'm expecting the next chapter just like the next GoT episode! Hahaha.
Yeah, the Roman law exam wasn't a really pleasant experience :)
Exactly - and these times are truly desperate. May Iesus Kristos have mercy on His humble servants, for we all are sinners (except for the Saint Markos Isapostolos, obviously). BTW, I advise everyone to refresh your memory by reading the last chapter before the one dedicated to the Holy Synod before Friday. It was a long brake so you may have forgotten the details and some of them may be important :)

I hope the mods agree! It would be great to see the Senate making some decisions - it's not only a whole new level of randomness (from my point of view as a player) but also a cool way for you to intervene in the world of "This Is Madness" and interact with it. I'm looking forward to it as well :)

Well, the last GoT episode was also long overdue because of the Memorial Day in USA but it did deliver - I hope you'll enjoy the next chapter just as much! :)
 
Last edited:

Enlil

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please be moderate about role-playing like this, I really don't want to anger the mods and have this thread locked due to unauthorized interactivity
My apologies... :unsure:
 

CzokletMuss

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My apologies... :unsure:
Hey, it's fine with me - I just don't want for this thread to break any rules. There will be more interactivity in EU4 part of the story ;)
 

Ricardo Rolo

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As you pointed out, the matter of xenoi is a complicated one. The canons of the Holy Synod are just a first steps in exploring this issue. Obviously Romans or other good Christians who turn to the Dark Gods can't be considered soulless - they are not xenoi. However, they are apostates and traitors and shall be dealt with accordingly.
Fair enough, in spite of those grey areas of sons of apostates and suposedely souless Xenoi having souls or not ... ;) But it is better to let those byzantine :D debates to the theologicians of the court ...

Chapter about what to do with barbarians will appears sooner or later (EU4) because it is a vital question which has to be answered. Right now however I don't plan to write about this in the next chapter or two.

Alliance with xenoi is out of the question obviously. As a player and writer I know of course about Cathay, Hindustan and Incas - I'm not sure they can be treated as equivalent of Prester John but yeah, they are definitely not the same as Aztecs. For now all I can say is that these issues will be explored thoroughly in the future.
My reference to maybe making the Inca a surrogate of our Pester John was mainly based in how Europe mistakenly took the mongol flood as a vengeful Christian king from the east just because they were bashing on Muslims and because there were rumours of christians in the east ...

Now if you take the Inca bashing on the Aztecs and the very old and persistent legend that Christians of Iberia ran away somewhere for the west at the time of the Muslim invasion ( see the somewhat laconic wiki entry on this ), it would not be out of the realm of the possible that people started to believe that those people fighting the Aztecs had to be the long lost Christians of the West fighting the Xenoi like they were doing in this side of the pond ;)

Lack of reference to the Mongols was mainly due to the fact that steppe hordes were attacking the Imperium since, well, at least 4th century. Right now it's 1400 AD in the story, so it's more than a 1000 years of struggle against the horse-lords. Of course the reformation of Tengri faith is something new and will be adressed sooner or later but for the Romans babaric tribes from the East are an old foe (Bulgars, Magyars, Huns, Goths), just like Muslims.
I assumed so, since, as statedby others, synods and councils were typically problem-focused and a synod focused on the status of the Xenoi and the Muslims would probably not treat on the Tengri. And about their reformation ... I assume that the court theologicians would simply rehash St Justin Martyr argument about the similarities between the cult of Mithra and the Christianity of his time: just devilish mockery (read chapter 66, about the Eucharisty ) ;).
 

CzokletMuss

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@Ricardo Rolo - I'm kinda tired right now so I'll respond to your post tomorrow.

And tomorrow is a big day since the next chapter is being released - because of that, little extra screenshot that didn't make it into the chapter for you:

 

belisar1453

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Great work on story, a true pleasure to read. Restored Roman empire two time myself but never actually got to stage of war with aztec. Your story invigorated me to go back in game and fight again for glory or Rome. Salute and keep good work.
 

DKM

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Fair enough, in spite of those grey areas of sons of apostates and suposedely souless Xenoi having souls or not ... ;) But it is better to let those byzantine :D debates to the theologicians of the court ...
Byzantine! :mad: What be this blasphemy! Only the Rhōmaio, the Basileus, and Ieseus Christo himself can decide on this matter.
 

Pilot00

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Cant wait for the final chapter! Plz dont forget to post us a link on the EU4 continuation and lets hope the mods will authorize the interactive AAR there. I need to dust off my Senatorial Regalia :D
 

Stuyvesant

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It's taken me a while to read through all the edicts of the Holy Synod, and then digest it. As others have said, you have clearly put a great deal of research and thought into that chapter.

As to the contents of the update... 'Harsh' seems to be a good word to describe them. And before you pounce, I realize the Xenoi are a lethal threat to the Empire and therefore, by extension, to the last bastions of true Christendom, and I realize that far abler minds than mine have come up with these conclusions. ;)

With that disclaimer out of the way: I'm not surprised the Xenoi are considered soulless and therefore beyond redemption. It's skirting close to calling for a war of total annihilation, which is uncomfortable from a modern-day perspective, but hey, it certainly fits with the story and the developing character of your Empire. What did surprise me somewhat was how some of the old punishments for various transgressions were being intensified (I see there's a particular apetite for burning people ;)). It strikes me as indicative of the siege mentality that the Empire has. It's beset on all sides by dangerous foes and any internal disturbance could as easily spell the end of the Empire as an attack by the Aztecs, so no dissent will be tolerated.

The measures might be necessary, and living in such an authoritarian Empire still beats being sacrificed to the Aztec demons, but I can't imagine the life of the average Roman is a happy one.
 

CzokletMuss

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CHAPTER 25
1400-1410
DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

When the Holy Ecumenical Council of Hierusalem ended and the Augustus returned to the Konstantinoupolis to reign over the Imperium, he was welcomed by a sad news – king Zegota of Poland, one of the few imperial allies, was murdered.


The headless corpse of the young king was found on 29th November 1400. The assassins were members of his personal guard, believed to be bribed by lady Dobronega of Grojec whose intent remained at time unknown. His death not only meant a new period of internal turmoil for the Kingdom of Poland, already teetering on the brink of destruction and surrounded by vast barbarian armies, but also broke the betrothal with House Angelos arranged few years before that. To make things worse, the cursed Pisans launched an unexpected attack on Kingdom of Aquitaine, using forged claims to one of Aquitaine cities as a casus belli. It was decided that the Imperium couldn't afford to do nothing about it: kingdoms of Poland and Aquitaine were one of the last Christian realms outside imperial limes and with treacherous Pisans openly collaborating with xenoi it was in the best interest of the Romaioi to protect good Christians of the two kingdoms. The Augustus decided it was the time to strike in the very source of Pisan power – trade. Imperial merchants rejoiced when the war of Pisan embargo was announced on 13th October 1400.

Just a few months later came the news from the East.


Unholy jihad called by caliph Khaireddin Aghlabid on 7th March 1393 in hope of restoring Muslim rule on the whole Arabian Peninsula failed horribly. Despite the Horde being terribly weakened by civil wars and ongoing conflict with the Sword of Islam, caliph's armies were beaten by the Mongol horse-lords. Forced to surrender, he called of jihad on 27th February 1401. This disastrous loss not only meant that he had to endure complete failure of his expansionist policy but also that he was forced to accept that restored Caliphate was nothing compared to the the power of the Horde or Timur. The Witch-khan didn't join jihad for being proclaimed prophesied Mahdi by his fanatic ghazis he could not support Khaireddin Aghlabid, who also claimed to be the Savior of Islam. Caliph of the cursed Shia was of course delusional to hope that Timur's ghazis would help him conquer whole peninsula for himself. And so the followers of the Prophet were defeated once again and the rising power of the Crescent in Arabia was broken by the Mongol barbarians.

Meanwhile the Europe was in flames.


On 22th April 1401 xenoi invasion of Bohemia was over – the invaders from the Far West were victorious. King Ruprecht von Zähringen lost not only his kingdom and subjects but also his heart which, still beating, was torn out from his body on top of the new pyramid built in smoldering ruins of Prague in a blasphemous ritual to the Dark Gods. The savages didn't stop there though – after king's death some of the lands and claims passed to his brother, kaiser Ehrenfried von Zähringen called “the Chaste” by his subjects. And so, before the blood of Christians was washed away from the pyramid's stairs by the cold rains, the xenoi declared second invasion of Bohemia, marching out from still burning ruins of once populous cities and castles, now turned into horrifying places of sacrifice and slaughter.


War with accursed Pisans was short – overwhelmed by the themata of the Imperial Army, with their trade post seized and their main armies still fighting in Kingdom of Aquitaine, the merchants understood that they have no other choice but to surrender completely. And so on 28th May 1401 the war was over and the Imperium was victorious. With almost 30 trade post within imperial limes destroyed, the base of Pisan power was shaken – their once complete control over the Mediterranean trade now evaporated almost completely. It didn't stop them from seizing the rich city of Tartas from the Kingdom of Aquitaine – the sell-swords and mercenaries bought by Pisan gold proved to be too numerous for the Aquitaine army to handle. But with the fundaments of their wealth destroyed, it was only a matter of time before the Republic of Pisa was to collapse completely - they conquered one city but, as it seemed, their lost decade-long struggle with imperial merchants.

However in the following weeks worrying news reached the City – the Horde was once again defeated by Timur. Thousands of fanatic ghazis managed to completely eradicate Mongol armies sent to defend Mesopotamia and so khan Ukhuna was forced to accept the harsh terms imposed on him by the Shia on 3rd November 1401. Sword of Islam was victorious – what wasn't achieved during 8 years of Aghlabid jihad was completed by him and his vast armies in just 15 months. His dominion and power grew with every year and many feared that now Scourge of the East would again turn his eyes to the riches of the Imperium. After the fall of Syria limes in Anatolia and Palestine were strengthened but not even the greatest walls meant nothing to the Angelos-slayer and his dark magic. For now, however, a dead silence hung in the air – the East was waiting.

Much better news arrived in Konstantinoupolis with the Polish envoys - king accepted imperial proposal. Young king Zegota was the only son of king Niezamysl the Cruel, son of king Milosz the Cruel. His death left brothers of king Niezamysl, princes Józef, Mieszko and Miłosz as possible claimants to the Polish throne. It shouldn't be a surprise that eventually prince Mieszko emerged as a successor of his murdered nephew – while his father king Niezamysl the Cruel was still alive, he launched a rebellion in hope of pressing his claim. During the rebellion king Niezamysl died of illness and in the end Mieszko was thrown into the dungeon by the regent of the young king Zegota. It is said that soon after his coronation, his first acts as a king Mieszko III of Spis was to execute his nephew's regent. His second act was much more important however – he decided that the best way to secure his position would be to renew alliance with the Imperium. He accepted offer made by Augustus – porphyrogenetissa Eustathia Angelos, daughter of Leon VIII Angelos, previously betrothed to king Zegota was to marry king Mieszko III. And so she did on 17th December 1401. The Polish-Roman Alliance was thus renewed and the Throne was more than willing to protect the Kingdom of Poland, for fall of Poland would mean that the xenoi would gain unlimited access to the steppes. And if the savages from the Far West were to enslave and subjugate horse-lords of the East, the Imperium would face the greatest danger to its existence since the foundation of Roma.


Little that aristoi know that the marriage with Polish king was made almost impossible due to the stubbornness of House Doukas. Before magistros Megistos Doukas tragic death they managed to persuade the Augustus to promise them the hand of his daughter in case king Zegota dies before the reaching the age of sixteen. Now when young Polish king was dead the proud Doukoi demanded that porphyrogenetissa marry one of them. The whole affair was dealt with swiftly however, thanks to the skills of the new magistros of the Imperium, doux Kyrillos Palaiologos. Major talent from a minor House, doux Kyrillos managed to calm Doukoi down and to prepare a compromise which satisfied both the Augustus and House Doukas. By doing so he not only helped to secure the alliance with Kingdom of Poland but also became one of the favorites of Leon VIII Angelos, thus securing prosperous future for House Palaiologos.


Position of the Doukoi continued to waver when on 28th December 1402 grandmaster of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre Leon Doukas died. Just a few weeks afterwards imperial spies brought news from the North – king Hans Half-Hand of the House Stibolt died in the xenoi dungeons, leaving his 11-year old son. Young Johan was a new ruler of Sweden, once powerful realm now turned into a barren wasteland with xenoi man-hunters scavenging the land in search of Norsemen still loyal to their Christian king. With most of them dead or enslaved by the invaders, their fate was sealed – their were doomed to become extinct, another proud culture devoured by the Beast from the Far West.


A new grandmaster had to be elected. Porphyrogennetos Alexandros Angelos, brother of the Augustus and uncle of grandmaster Michael Angelos, slained by Iron Khan in the battle of Halbah in 1393, become a new head of the Brotherhood on 18th March 1403. House Angelos once again was in firm control over the devoted monk-knights of the Brotherhood and Doukoi had no other choice but to humbly accept this.

But internal matters of the Imperium didn't influence xenoi, who were continuing their brutal conquest of Bohemia. Incredibly bloody conflict was impossible for the kaiser to win – sheer numbers of the savages were so great that even if every German knight killed ten Aztec dogs, the result of the war would not change at all. Therefore, in an act of desperation, kaiser Ehrenfried von Zähringen sent his envoys to Konstantinoupolis to beg for mercy. He offered the Throne everything he had to protect his subjects but he didn't have much and so his offer was refused – too fresh was the memory of treason of the House von Zähringen which, once allied to the Imperium, betrayed the Throne and proclaimed king of the Germans as kaiser and one true emperor. Our Lord deemed the Germans unworthy of His mercy – why then should the Romaioi help the sinners? And great were their travesties. Corrupted by Pisans, threatened by xenoi and fearing their fate, many of the German nobles turned away from Iesus Kristos and started worship of the Dark Gods. Among them was prince Theodorich von Zähringen himself – the greater was the outrage when the German envoys proposed that he should be the one to marry one of the Angeloi daughters to secure the alliance. Kaiser Ehrenfried unavailingly was awaiting for his envoys to return – for such insult they were all executed.

The fall of Bohemia was only a matter of time.


On 6th November 1404 it was finally over – kaiser surrendered and agreed to all demands of the savages. Xenoi were feasting on the corpses of the dead together with crows, castles were razed to the ground and whole cities were burned. Germans were decimated – those who were not killed on the battlefield, taken as slaves or sacrificed to the Dark Gods seek refuge in Republic of Pisa. Kaiser's realm consisted now of just several holdings nearby the Pisan border and with Vienna as the only intact settlement once rich lands were turned into a desolate wasteland. Destroyed crops and omnipresent rotting bodies caused outbreak of disease – the plague was killing malnourished and homeless by the thousands. Even the eunuchs of the Scrinium Barbarorum were shocked by the brutality of this terrible conquest.

What was even worse than the fate of Germans was that xenoi finally gained access to the plains of Dacia. There once was a powerful kingdom of Hungary on these lands, later conquered by the Pechenegs horse-lords from the East who – after conversion to Catholic heresy – gave birth to powerful House Golovin which, at the peak of its power, controlled kingdoms of Hungary, Poland and Aquitaine. In the year 1404 these lands were for decades under complete control of the Horde, separating Imperium and its northern ally. But Kingdom of Poland was no more a mighty wall separating savages from the Far West and barbarians from the East – xenoi were now free to attack the Ilkhanate itself.

But unexpectedly a new power have risen on Dacian plains.


Almost a year before the disastrous invasion of Bohemia finally ended, on 25th October 1403 khagan Ukhuna Csikid was forced to accept the demands of his Hungarian subjects – former slaves of the Horde gained their independence once again. Led by Peter a Mör called „the Liberator”, the Hungarians managed to brake their chains while the Horde attention was turned to the East where Mongols were facing Timur's ghazis. But a petty realm called „Kingdom of Hungary” by king Peter the Liberator reminded more the
Pechenegs dominion than Catholic realm which they conquered centuries ago. East to the imperial limes there were no Christians – with the exception of Kingdom of Poland, every man and woman in the East was either worshipping the false gods or dead. Sky-Father Tengri was the daemon they worshipped and ambitious king Peter the Liberator wanted nothing more but to expand his small domain.

Seeing in this a perfect occasion to not only further weaken and divide the Horde but also create a new buffer state separating Bohemia now controlled by xenoi from Mongol barbarians, the Augustus ordered his agents to strike. Years of hard work of Scrinium Barbarorum finally paid off. Khagan Ukhuna Csikid didn't even realized what happened when one of his concubines slit his throat while he was sleeping – a shameful death for the barbarians who above all respect power and courage.

Nobody expected such powerful and swift retaliation.


On 13th May 1405 terrible news reached Konstantinoupolis - the accursed High Priest Toghoril declared Fourth Great War for Bulgaria, inviting all worshippers of Tengri to participate in scouring of the Imperium. Fear conquered the Capital on this day, for the last Great War consumed tens of thousands of Romaioi and lasted for four long years from 1367 to 1371 – and it ended in shame, for the barbarians were victorious. It took thousands more and the arrival of the Iron Khan himself to finally liberate lands conquered by the Horde during the last Great War – there was even still one Mongol horse-lord who claimed to be the khan of Bulgaria.

The storm was coming, there was no doubt about it. Some aristoi started to criticize the Throne, going as far as blaming the Holy Synod for dedicating too much attention to the xenoi while equally dangerous enemy was ignored. These obviously false accusations spread without a doubt by House Doukas, for the Imperium is always vigil and no enemy escapes its sight. Nor Goths, nor Huns, nor even Bulgars managed to destroy the Imperium and since the days of Atilla the Romaioi knew that nothing good can ever come from the East. And so once again hordes of barbarians were about to flood the imperial limes, bringing death and chaos with them. Imperial Army was mobilized and themata from the western and southern provinces began to embark dromonoi of the Imperial Navy, while the eastern themata were already marching to meet the enemy.

But this time the horrifying Beast, the Leviathan of the East, was headless.


Few horse-lords remained loyal to the son of khagan Ukhuna Csikid. Regency was soon interrupted when in 15th January 1406 high chief Begter declared war against the khagan. He was soon followed by a faction led by high chief Inalchi in 3rd March 1406 – both of them were fighting in favor of the same powerful claimant, chief Arkhai. This gave hope for ending the war quickly – it seemed that the Imperium was about to face not a powerful and united Horde but rather dozens of Mongol bands, disorganized and often hostile to each other. Still, even the ongoing civil war within the Ilkhanate wouldn't stop tens of thousands of barbarians from Russia and Transoxania to march on imperial limes. Despite being consumed by a bloody struggle for power, Mongols remained a dangerous enemy. With xenoi armies already gathered in Bohemia and with Timur the Cursed preparing his ghazis for the next invasion, the risk of war on three fronts was now greater than ever.

The Augustus decided that some steps must be taken to ensure victory of the Romaioi.


On 18th April 1406, while the themata were gathering near the limes, Leon VIII Angelos stared a pilgrimage to the monasteries of the Holy Mountain Athos to pray to Iesus Kristos for mercy. Monks from the Megisti Lavra were providing divine protection for the Imperium since year 963, it was founded by Saint Athanasios of Trebizond with approval and funding provided by Augustus Nikephoros II Phokas. Privileges confirmed by Augustus Ioannes I Tzimikes in the following years enabled the Holy Athos to grew, with hundreds of monks and dozens of monasteries now scattered on the sloped of the Mountain. It truly was a holy site of the True Faith.

Augustus Leon VIII Angelos spent weeks in Megisti Lavra on pious prayer and meditations. The monks were even honored by having a possibility to debate with Augustus about the matters of theology and philosophy, especially concerning resolutions of the Holy Council of Hierusalem. But even such dedication of Leon VIII Angelos didn't mean there weren't some aristoi eager to criticize the Throne. Wouldn't it be better, the servants of Doukoi were saying, if Basileus stayed in the City to oversee the war plans rather than lock himself with monks far from the limes? It doesn't require explanation why these heretic lies were false, for not the brave Romaioi soldiers are the true protection against the barbarians, but grace and mercy of Our Lord.

Feasting and praying with fervor, spending days alone in simple cell like a common monk, Leon VIII Angelos in the end received blessing he was craving for.


On 23rd June 1406 unexpected news reached Augustus while he still was in Megisti Lavra – Iron Khan declared war against caliph Khaireddin Aghlabid. Upon hearing this, Leon VIII Angelos decided to return to Konstantinoupolis immediately. For this was the moment which was supposed to completely shape the future of the East. After successful conquest of Syria and subjugating of Mesopotamia, Timur the Cursed had only two potential enemies in his reach – the Horde or the Imperium itself. It was expected by Scrinium Barbarorum that he will continue expanding into the lands of the Ilkhanate or that he may even try to launch an invasion of Anatolia, hoping to carve out more themata from the Imperium. Sword of Islam however decided to attack the Caliphate.


Two last remaining Shia realms were to collide in a decisive war – both Iron Khan and caliph claimed to be Mahdi destined to save the ummah. Proud and ambitious caliph was in a hopeless position with his greatest ally turning against him – and good riddance, for barbarians and heathen fighting against each other is a good thing in the eyes of the Lord. But whoever emerges from this struggle victorious will without a doubt pose an even greater threat to the good Christians of the Imperium. If the Iron Khan manages to defeat the weak Caliphate, he would be in control over more than a half of Arabia. His dominion was already stretching from mythical Hindustan through Persia and Transoxania into Syria and Mesopotamia. To think that his fanatical ghazis may rise in numbers even more with new Shia recruits was a terrifying thought. Timur himself despite old age was incredibly dangerous foe – his brilliant strategy combined with dark sorcery and innumerable armies of his vast realm made him an Enemy on par with the master of the xenoi. There were still good Christians who were suffering from his ruthless reign in Syria and with his great ambition it was obvious that only death could stop him from further expansion. For now, however, the risk of a terrible war at two fronts was gone and Imperial Army could concentrate preparing the defenses against the Mongol hordes.

And while all mobilized themata were in position the news from the West arrived in the City.


On 13th November 1406 king Mieszko II died due to severe illness, thus nullifying alliance between Kingdom of Poland and the Imperium. The crown went to his brother, prince Józef, son of Niezamysl the Cruel. Betrothed to murdered king Zegota and now a widow, porphyrogenetissa Eustathia Angelos returned to the City – it was way too early to think about cementing the alliance with another marriage. But the grieving widow wasn't the only suitable candidate for wife and king Józef desired alliance as much as his brother did, knowing that the might of the Imperium would protect him against unruly nobles. And so Martha Angelos, granddaughter of Augustus Luis II Angelos and niece Leon VIII Angelos, married Polish king on 29th January 1407.

Upon return of porphyrogenetissa into Konstantinoupolis, House Doukas suddenly reminded Augustus of an old promise and demanded that Eustathia Angelos marry one of their kin. This obviously was not the intent of the Throne – she was not only Born in Purple, but as a former queen of Poland there was but a few suitable husbands for her. Magistros Kyrillos Palaiologos suggested that the best course of action would be to marry daughter of Augustus to the other Christian ruler, king Bozydar Golovin. This would secure alliance with Kingdom of Aquitaine as well, thus securing the eastern limes – a very desired solution for the Imperium still facing continuous influx of barbarians from the East, determined to conquer Bulgaria. With the ongoing Fourth Great War against the worshippers of Tengri and Iron Khan invading Arabia it was of utmost importance to make sure that xenoi would not open a new front in the West. Solution presented by Kyrillos Palaiologos was perfect – the only problem was that king of Aquitaine was already married.

Alas, queen Gunhilda von Greyerz died unexpectedly on 30th May 1307, poisoned by the unknown perpetrator. Augustus offered help to the grieving king – surely the xenoi or cursed Catholic heretics were involved in this gruesome murder. King accepted the proposal and when the imperial envoys arrived in Aquitaine a second offer was made – and king Bozydar accepted it as well. And so on 14th June 1407 porphyrogenetissa Eustathia Angelos became his queen and the Imperium gained new and powerful ally. The Kingdom of Aquitaine itself had not to fear Pisan raids anymore, for they were now under imperial protection.

Alas, following years proved the futility of all these endeavors.


Barely half a year after the marriage, on 23rd February 1408 porphyrogenetissa Eustathia Angelos died unexpectedly due to illness which, obviously falsely, was claimed by the enemies of the Throne to be syphilis. These disgusting lies that allegedly daughter of Augustus himself fell victim to the xenoi disease are outrageous and nobody should give an ear to them. The alliance with Aquitaine was over and to make things worse, on 18th November of 1408 Polish king died as well, leaving his son Jacek as the new ruler of Kingdom of Poland. Regent agreed obviously for a betrothal with House Angelos but even in Christian realm allied to the Imperium reign of the child king was an unstable period, with nobles scheming to grow in power while the crown was weakened.

But even these sad news couldn't eclipse the fact that the Horde was losing. After the desperate struggle of the First Great War and slaughter of the Third Great War, the Fourth War was going surprisingly well. Disorganized armies of Mongol horse-lords, scattered at the whole length of eastern limes were repelled one after another. Although themata were suffering heavy losses, the countryside remained relatively safe, with only small bands of barbarians harassing the citizens. Plunged into a turmoil of multiple civil wars, the Ilkhanate was unable to field such gigantic armies as during the disastrous period of 1367-1371. In the stark contrast to botched attempts of horse-lords trying to break through imperial limes, Iron Khan was destroying armies of the Caliphate without much effort. It soon became obvious that only stubbornness of the caliph kept the war going – Khaireddin Aghlabid was soon to became slave of Timur.

Considering all this, Augustus decided to make a sudden and unexpected move. Going against the advice of the always cautious Imperial Council, he ordered several units of tagmata together with monk-knights of the Brotherhood and mercenaries to embark dromonoi and sail to Aegyptus. While the eastern limes were still engulfed in flames of war, this small expedition joined forces with Aegyptian thema and led by grandmaster porphyrogennetos Alexandros Angelos marched south. Having reached Abyssinia, the imperial forces crossed the Red Sea – and thus on 5th March 1409 began the holy war for Sanaa.

It was a spectacular success.


Unlike the stalemate between the Imperial Army and forces of the Horde, the Sanaa campaign was swift and decisive. Focused on incoming ghazis of the Iron Khan and with few remaining soldiers, Shia caliph could not hope to defend himself from the unexpected attack of Romaioi. Obviously some aristoi in the Senate didn't understand the intention of Augustus and accused the Throne of unnecessary stretching the imperial forces in order to conquer worthless desert. Of course, what senators failed to grasp was the strategic value of this land. With Sword of Islam approaching the capital of the Caliphate it was only a matter of time before Witch-khan would control whole southern part of Arabian Peninsula. These few barren provinces would enable him to launch an invasion to Abyssinia through the very strait imperial expedition crossed. Being a distant and mountainous province it wouldn't be easily conquered but considering how long would it take for reinforcements to arrive it was a real possibility – and once conquered, it would be extremely hard to liberate. Thousands of soldiers would have to die in the African sun fighting against ghazis accustomed to harsh conditions of desert. By invading the Caliphate which was fighting for survival and couldn't oppose the Romaioi, Augustus wanted to secure the strait and make sure it would never happen. In desperation caliph Khaireddin himself led what little was left of his army to stop the imperial forces but he was utterly defeated in the mountains of Hodeida in March 1410.

But the culmination of the campaign was without a doubt the Second Sack of Mecca.


Once mighty city it still served as the spiritual center for the followers of the false Prophet Muhammad. After the terrible First Sack of Mecca by the Ilkhanate in 1252 it wealth and riches diminished greatly but its influence was still felt in what was left of the Muslim world. Mongols plundered the city and burned most of it, just like they did years later when in 1279 in a truly barbaric display of brutality and power, armies of khagan Yesugei the Young sacked the great city of Baghdad. Like Mecca, what remained of the city after orgy of destruction lasting several weeks was but a smoldering ruin full of corpses. Mecca itself was desecrated by the worshippers of the Dark God Tengri – pagan idols and temples have risen in the most sacred place of Islam and over the decades Muslims became a small minority in their holiest city.

But they never forgot about birthplace of Muhammad, for it was the place where their false Prophet was supposed to receive first revelation of Quran. The arrival of Iron Khan and the rise of the Aghlabids gave ummah hope. When on 31st January 1387 caliph Khaireddin Aghlabid conquered the last independent Mongol chiefdoms on the peninsula and proclaimed himself Sultan of Arabia, Mecca once again passed into the hands of Muslims. After almost 140 years under yoke of the Horde, the city was just a pale shadow of its former glory, but with support of both caliph and Iron Khan it quickly regained its position as one of the jewels of the Muslim world.

When on 25th March 1410 imperial forces entered the undefended city, the first order of the grandmaster porphyrogennetos Alexandros Angelos was for the monk-knights of the Brotherhood to gather all the books, scriptures and holy texts from the famous libraries of Mecca. With this task given to him by Augustus completed, he ordered to gather all the imams in Al-Masjid Al-Haram, one of the greatest remaining Islamic temples in the world. Within the walls of the sanctuary was Ka'aba, The Sacred House, the most holy place of Islam, to which every Muslim was required to perform hajj and to which qibla in every mosques ever built was directing. Upon gathering the Bedouin and Arab scholars, grandmaster ordered them to watch while the brothers of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre were removing Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, The Black Stone. The ancient relic predated rise of Islam by centuries and was considered their most venerated and was believed to be put there by prophet Abraham himself.

With the Black Stone removed from Ka'aba, grandmaster ordered to gather all the imams and other men in the mosque which was then set on fire. Then the whole city was given to the imperial soldiers for whole three days. When the three days passed, the Brotherhood restituted order and although all men were believed to be purge, more than 30,000 people were led out from the smoldering ruins of Mecca, most of them elders and children with few women. The Muslim slaves were to be later transported to Aegyptus – alas, most of them died during the long march through the desert with only 5,000 boys and girls arriving within imperial limes to serve for the same themata their ancestors were raiding. Mecca was finally no more – consumed by fire, with its mosques and people destroyed, libraries looted and relics taken, the holy place of Islam felt the Sword of God's Justice, for it is said (Ezekiel 25:7): „(...)therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations. I will wipe you out from among the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the Lord”.

With broken spirit, the Caliphate surrendered on 12th April 1410 – but it was not yet over for him.


Caliph Khaireddin Aghlabid, son of Aghlab the Liberator, was a thorn in the side of the Imperium for a long time. With his armies hopelessly trying to stop advances of Iron Khan and himself willing to negotiate with envoys from Konstantinoupolis, the occasion was too good to be missed. Augustus gave orders to imperial agents and soon the deed was done – man who restored Shia Caliphate and rebuilt Sultanate of Arabia died on 11th May 1410, slained by monk-knights of the Brotherhood disguised as imperial diplomats. It seemed that this was a death blow to the caliphate, a coup de gras as the Latins used to say.

But as Arab proverb says, only vengeance erases shame.

 
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Attalus

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The Mahometans had it coming but alas another Augustus goes to Hel... I mean Heaven !
 

Skritdlez

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NOOOOOO! He was a good king! Oh well Long live Emperor Alexios! Such a good update, I can't wait till my highschool gets out next week, I can play CK2 again!