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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

CzokletMuss

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If you are refering to my tragically dead AAR "Necronomicon in Byzantium", than unfortunately no - this save is long corrupted and gone. But it's actually a good idea - maybe I'll use it somehow in this AAR :)
 

Stuyvesant

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The Emperor has finally breathed his last... How long did Markos the Saint reign? Truly, the end of an era.

This council meeting leaves me concerned. Gunnar (the military man) seems to be the only one who is worried about the Empire's external foes, while the slothful and glutinous other councilors seem to take the Empire's survival entirely for granted, while they arbitrarily punish those beneath them and eat and booze the day away. If this council is a measure of the strength of the Empire, then I worry about the long-term prospects of the Romans, now that the giant that was Markos has joined his heavenly Father.
 

CzokletMuss

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The Emperor has finally breathed his last... How long did Markos the Saint reign? Truly, the end of an era.
17 May 1227 - 27 September 1287; 60 years of prosperity and (relative) peace. More than man can ask for in these times. Alas, St Markos is gone now - he truly was one of the greatest basiloi Empire ever have.

This council meeting leaves me concerned. Gunnar (the military man) seems to be the only one who is worried about the Empire's external foes, while the slothful and glutinous other councilors seem to take the Empire's survival entirely for granted, while they arbitrarily punish those beneath them and eat and booze the day away. If this council is a measure of the strength of the Empire, then I worry about the long-term prospects of the Romans, now that the giant that was Markos has joined his heavenly Father.
Well, since I'm further in the game than in these published chapters (14th century already) I can only tell that your intuition haven't failed you. You'll see in the next chapter or two by yourself :)

EDIT: Next chapter is coming Soon, in the meantime small sneak-peak:

 
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CzokletMuss

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CHAPTER 4
1287-1292
MYSTERIOUS WAYS


[video=youtube_share;lW2jYRrMK0w]http://youtu.be/lW2jYRrMK0w[/video]​

Saint Markos was dead.

His blessed 60 year long reign will be remembered forever. In the most dangerous for the Empire and Christendom period since the arrival of the barbarians who brought the Western Roman Empire to its knees, Saint Markos managed to not only preserve Basileia Romaion but also finally mend the schism between Christians and Catholic heretics. Truly he was one of the greatest Emperors in history, equal to such titans like Saint Constantine, Justinian the Great or Basil the Bulgar-slayer. But will the Angeloi become dynasty as great as the House Makedon? Or will all Saint Markos worked for be lost?


His son and now basileus himself, Valerios Angelos, knew that there are many dangers for the Basileia Romaion – armies of demonic invaders from Far West, hordes of Mongols worshipping the Sky-Father Tengri, still strong enough to bite Shia and of course cursed Catholic heretics. Valerios however turned his attention first to the potentially greatest internal enemy – his brother.

Shortly after his intronisation, on the same 27th September 1287 when his beloved father died, he took his first steps to secure the throne. He didn't have the authority of Saint Markos and the nobility wasn't as eager to bow before him as they did during his father's reign. He had to make sure they wouldn't try to support another claimant to the throne – Basileia Romaion could not afford another civil war. His plan was simple but for it to succeed he needed to secure help from the imperial strategos.


It didn't take much to convince fanatically loyal to the Basileia Romaion Grandmaster Leon Angelos to join his brother-emperor in his scheme. After this, the scene was set and Valerios could strike.


On 5th October 1287 the kidnappers overpowered few guards of porphyrogennetos Timotheos – he had to surrender. The deed was done. In his magnanimity basileus didn't take any more steps against his brother – he wasn't blinded, castrated nor he was forced to take the vows. Valerios knew that committing such cruel deeds against the son of Saint Markos would be too much for the aristocracy to tolerate.


With the only other direct descendant of Markos the Great under house arrest in one of the towers of the Imperial Palace, Valerios felt safe. The throne was, for know, secure.

Then came the news.

After brutally suppressing another revolt against his rule, Zolin the Fat decided that he's strong enough to continue his father's work and on 28th January 1288 he declared invasion on the kingdom of England. Like all the inhabitants of the British Isles not living under the Aztec rule, queen Margaret Godwin was a heretic, still loyal to the usurper bishop of the Rome or so called “Pope”. It was clearly a sign of God's will – if only the heretics converted, they wouldn't have to suffer from the incoming invasion.


Long and pointless struggle amongst the three heretic kingdoms, Scotland, Wales and England, have left her armies weak and her coffer empty. She couldn't even dream about resisting the savages, who already were in control of France, several islands near England and even had a bastion in Land's End. Several months after the declaration, first wave of the invaders set foot on English soil. Their power seemed undone.


Imperial spies were delivering reports about horrible fate of the local population, subjected to rape, torture and slaughter. Countless thousands were sacrificed to the dark gods and the ever slim chances of survival disappeared in flames of the burning royal palace, seized at the beginning of the invasion.

In the lands of the Ilkhanate however, the luck has finally abandoned Mongol barbarians.


After his father's death, khagan Belgutei was a ruler only in name. Fortunately for Christians, even the skilled regent couldn't stop the rapidly spreading discontent. When the revolt finally erupted, it was clear that it would take years for the forces of khagan to defeat the rebels.

Basileus Valerios, in his second year on the throne, being quick and talented leader he was, couldn't let this occasion to slip away.


First target was a small county in Ascalon, an easy war and nothing more than a test for the imperial forces. Brotherhood's troops lead by the Grandmaster Leon Angelos didn't fight along other Greeks however – they were fighting together with Bulgars, Pechenegs, Russians and other soldiers of fortune. Wise Valerios knew that he couldn't afford to loose his levies and although both the Mongol barbarians and Aztec savages were occupied, the risk of the civil war was still present. Therefore these wars ware waged using only mercenaries and Brotherhood, leaving imperial levies and tagmata intact.

After swift victory basileus decided to push forward and on 10th May 1289 declared holy wars for Syria and Galilee, both duchies lead by high chiefs revolting against the young khagan. Before the first battle was fought though, the joy has filled the hearts of all the Greeks – the heir was born on 23rd January 1290.


Basileus Valerios and queen Varela finally had a boy. Long awaited son was named after his uncle, Grandmaster Leon Angelos, which made the powerful brother of the Emperor very glad. The royal couple had three children now – two daughters, Euphemia and Martha, and with the birth of their son it was now certain that the imperial throne is secured – aristoi never enjoyed the thought of being ruled by a woman, not since the times of Empress Irene centuries ago.

What imperial subjects didn't know however, was the condition of the small Leon. Unlike his ancestors, he was weak and there was a serious danger of him not surviving past his first birthday. Rejoiced and concerned at the same time, Velerios was above all basileus, not father, so it's not surprise that his attention has quickly been drawn back to the Holy Land.


Fearing the might of the imperial forces, both high chiefs joined their forces and with the help of mercenaries created a huge army to challenge the invading army of Basileia Romaion. Thank to Almighty God, the series of skirmishes and one final battle known commonly as the battle of Athlith were a complete success for the imperial expedition.


And so 1st February 1290 marked the end of both high chiefs – or so it was expected. Suffering heavy losses, their defeat seemed inevitable. But unfortunately for the Basileia Romaion, the chief of Galilee wasn't just another Mongol barbarian.


Agathonikos Azizid was a man of the frontier. Born Shia by a Greek mother, he quickly understood that the Ilkhanate can't be stopped and after the horde conquered the Sultanate of Jerusalem, he swiftly converted to Tengri. Praising Sky-Father and persecuting his former brothers in faith he didn't care much for the afterlife – in fact, this amoral Egyptian was concerned only about his own well-being and power. And so when his powerful army was shattered, he didn't wait long. He murdered all Tengri priests and declared himself a Christian. Welcoming the forces of Leon Angelos with holy icons, he sweared to the Blessed Virgin that he's know loyal to the True Faith and that he hopes his brother Christians won't raise a sword on a fellow believer. Citing the Holy Bible as the reason of war against Tengri, furious basileus Valerios didn't have a choice but to call his army off. He promised himself that this triple traitor and former servant of the Mongol will pay for this deceit. But not now – there was still Syria waiting to be conquered. Basileia Romaion was making quick advances now and the victory seemed certain.

And then the terrible news from the East came to the Constantinople.


On 11th January 1291 High Priest Jurchedei announced his plans of the Great Holy War, an act of aggression and brutality compared only to the Crusades or Jihads. Seeing how effective was Shia Jihad and how disastrous the liberation of Arabia was for the Ilkhanate, Tengri barbarians decided that they should fight fire with fire. Dire news, no doubt about that. But basileus Valerios wasn't concerned.


It seemed that with every month another nation of the Mongol realm rose against their lords. With Ilkhanate occupied by the internal struggle, Basileia Romaion eastern borders was safe – for know. Ignoring the head of the Tengri cult, basileus Valerios decided to continue the fight. The bigger was his satisfaction when news reached the Queen of Cities – leader of the Lords of the Sky was captured.

This blasphemous caricature of a holy order was nonetheless the force to be reckoned with. Not as powerful as the Brotherhood, the Lords of the Sky were fierce warriors. They duties weren't limited only to war though – they were the iron fist of the khagan, responsible for Christians and Shia persecutions. They say that entire rebellious cities were pacified only by the rumor that the Lords of the Sky were sent for “negotiations” with them. Once flourishing in the lands of the Russians Church was know broken mainly thanks to them, ruthlessly butchering every priest, monk or nun they could found. Being responsible for countless deaths of good Christians, they were even more hated than the khagan himself.

It was no surprise that basileus ordered to show Warchief Sevenc the traditional Greek hospitality.




After signing peace on 30th August 1291, basileus Valerios was triumphant. The Empire has gained some land but what was really important, the opposition against Valerios was all but extinguished. Truly there is nothing better than a victorious war to show the strength of a ruler. Now, three years after his intronisation, with male although still not very healthy heir and glory from the recent wars, Valerios could make bigger plans. Being pious man he was, he decided that he should thank the Almighty God and the Blessed Virgin for his fortune.

And so he did.


Pilgrimage to Jerusalem started on 1st October 1291 and lasted 6 weeks. Pious Valerios funded several monasteries and churches on his way to the Holy City, like all Emperors traditionally do. He also decided to built a glorious cathedral in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Saint Markos. He knew of course that it would take decades to finish – but he was as patient as he was wise. He would stop at nothing to praise the Lord and his blessed father, whose icons were already in almost every church in the Empire. Both aristoi and the people of the Basileia Romaion loved Saint Markos - Valerios knew that it would take decades of hard work if he wanted to ever escape the long shadow of his father and earn the place in the history for himself.

After his return from the pilgrimage and end of the brief regency of Grandmaster Leon Angelos, basileus Valerios started to make plans. Ilkhanate was weakened by the constant revolts and Zolin the Fat was still focused on England, when heretics fight against the invaders for every village and every castle. It was a perfect time to strike. The plan was simple – to retake province of Tunisia from the Aztecs, thus proving that they can be beaten and elevating Basileia Romaion prestige in the West to the new heights. He even dreamed that maybe one day, at the end of his long life, he would have enough authority and power to declare renovation of the Roman Empire, to which act nobody would oppose seeing his glory of. Finally the Westerners will acknowledge that the Rome has not fallen but simple transformed. Finally this abomination called Holy Roman Empire would be no more. And finally, the Cross will be victorious – no power, not even savages from the Far West or Mongol barbarians, can oppose the reborn Roman Empire. Yes, basileus Valerios dreamed big and he was capable enough to realize these plans – it seemed that all he needed was a little more time.


Truly God works in mysterious ways.

 
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EU3NOOB

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THAT was SO funny!
 

CzokletMuss

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Stuyvesant

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Like Titus to Vespasian, Valerios was dead before he could really get started. A shame, for Valerios showed great promise. Also a shame because now you're stuck with a two-year-old Emperor... That's going to be a long regency and I can imagine the vultures are already circling. I hope the situation won't implode like the Ilkhanate did, after it got saddled with an infant ruler, but I must admit I'm not that hopeful.

At least Valerios can rest in peace, knowing that what little time he had on the throne, he used wisely.
 

CzokletMuss

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Like Titus to Vespasian, Valerios was dead before he could really get started. A shame, for Valerios showed great promise. Also a shame because now you're stuck with a two-year-old Emperor... That's going to be a long regency and I can imagine the vultures are already circling. I hope the situation won't implode like the Ilkhanate did, after it got saddled with an infant ruler, but I must admit I'm not that hopeful.

At least Valerios can rest in peace, knowing that what little time he had on the throne, he used wisely.
Well said! And yes, dark forces are gathering sensing the (temporary?) weakness of the new basileus.

Expect next chapter soon. Plus because the 20 images per chapter limit is somewhat, well, limiting, take a look at the bigger picture on the day of Valerios death and Leon intronisation:

 

DarthJF

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Boy, God must really hate the Romans.
 

CzokletMuss

The Emprah
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Just when we were ready to reclaim the lost lands...
This AAR is crazy I don't even.
Boy, God must really hate the Romans.
Don't worry, it gets better worse crazier more interesting, I can assure you :)

I was not expecting Valerios to die. One of the shortest reigns I've ever seen.
Once I decided to play as the last Karling in 1066 (before TOG, it was March this year I think) and my character (count of Vermandois) died after... 34 days.
 

DarthJF

Byzantophile Daimyō Finnia
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I have seen some guys that ruled for 0 days :confused:
In one of my games I had a ruler who got coronated and the next day he "died in a suspicious accident".