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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Nikolai

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Hi Czoklet! I've nominated your AAR for the Weekly AAR Showcase! :) Get over there and bask in the glory, and nominate a successor in a week's time.:)
 

CzokletMuss

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Hi Czoklet! I've nominated your AAR for the Weekly AAR Showcase! :) Get over there and bask in the glory, and nominate a successor in a week's time.:)
Awesome! Thank you very much, I guess I have to celebrate this by releasing MOAR chapters :)
 

Nikolai

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Indeed you must.:)
 

EU3NOOB

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CzokletMuss

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CHAPTER 5
1292-1297
RAVENOUS WOLVES


[video=youtube_share;lPCi6yTjkY8]http://youtu.be/lPCi6yTjkY8[/video]​

Valerios Angelos, son of Saint Markos, was dead.

The fate of the Basileia Romaion and all the Christendom lied in the hands of small Leon, who just in the age of 2 on the day of his father death became the new basileus under regnal name Leon VII. Of course, he needed a regent.


On 11th August 1292, the day after the burial and the intronization, the power of Imperial Regent fell into the hands of strategos Salvador de Luna, Castillan noble, trusted friend of the queen Varela and member of the Angeloi family thanks to marriage to Emperor's cousin. It was hard to imagine a person better suited to this role – possessing a truly brilliant mind, imperial regent was just and brave and he was a terrific commander with a great understanding of military situation of the Empire.


With support of the queen Varela, eager to secure the throne of her young son, he quickly and in secret imprisoned older sister of Leon, Euphemia. She wasn't one of the porphyrogennetos, but she still could be dangerous. Queen Varela knew too well how hard the reign of a ruler-child may be – after all, her father died and left the kingdom of Aragon in her hands when she was just a little girl. Against all odds, she survived thanks to the sheer willpower and determination, fighting heretic Knights of Calatrava, Aztec savages and powerful nobles alike. Love to her son didn't stop her however from quick marriage – she knew that a queen without a husband may be an easy target for court factions.


Thanks to the talents of strategos and now the first person in Basileia Romaion Salvador de Luna, the first year of regency was uneventful. This changed quickly however when the call to arms from a distant kingdom of Poland reached imperial capital.


On 15th September 1293 Izbor Golovin, king of Aquitaine and descendant of the Pecheneg khans, demanded Basileia Romaion assistance. Lithuanian pagans were strong enough to not be satisfied in regular raids – they wanted more. And so, seeing how exhausted the kingdom of Poland is after the long wars with heretic Teutonic Knights, they declared war on king Izbor for his holdings in Poland, since both kingdoms were ruled by House of Golovin and their realms were fractured.

The vile pagans were not to be underestimated though.


United by king Butavas the Great, Lithaunia was one of the strongest realms in the central Europe. The war was going to be long and it was certain it will bring misery upon many good Christians. Basileia Romaion however couldn't help the Christian kings in their struggle with pagans – Salvador de Luna had to face much more dangerous enemies.

Aristoi didn't like the idea of Imperial Regent being a foreigner. They feared that he was under the influence of queen Varela and of course they realized that with a man of such integrity they won't be able to press any demands and that any scheme against the Emperor would be mercilessly and swiftly exposed. They need him gone. Unfortunately for the Basileia Romaion, they found a powerful ally – Grandmaster Leon Angelos. As the head of the Brotherhood of Holy Sepulchre, Leon was one of the wealthiest people in the world. Being fanatically loyal tot he throne, he knew deep in his heart that if only he didn't take the vows he may be an Emperor now. And he despised the Regent, who took his position in the High Council as the strategos while Leon was leading imperial forces against the infidels in the Holy Land, never to give it back. It was obvious that he wanted to be the regent.

With his power and influence it didn't take long for the aristoi to become a threat.


Using bribery, forgery and lies, grandmaster Leon faction managed to erode the authority of Salvador de Luna terrifyingly quickly. On 17th October isolated de Luna, with almost all his fellow Castillans killed, bribed or kidnapped, didn't have a choice but to accept in the name of the Emperor the demands which practically transferred a big part of imperial power to the douxes.

But it wasn't enough. On 28th January 1294 he was forced to sign another decree, which virtually let the aristoi to “solve their disputes in justified cases without bothering His Magnificence, the Emperor of Romans, so that His High Authority may not be occupied by these lowly matters”.

The results were tragic.


Free to press their claims on neighboring douxes, the aristoi started what can be only described as utter madness and stupidity. Blind to the external threats to the Empire, they were willing to spill the blood of their fellow Greeks and Christians if only it would give them more power. This disaster practically destroyed the themata system.


In the meantime, sister of Leon VII, Martha was becoming a bigger and bigger threat. Worried by a possibility of a civil war in her name only to put her on the throne as the puppet empress, Salvador de Luna ordered her arrest on 5th July of 1294. Seeing how not only beautiful but bright she was, it seemed like the only option to not risk further bloodshed.

The last good news during Salvador de Luna regency came from Poland.


His troops decimated and treasury empty, king of pagans Butavas the Great was forced to accept failure on 12th March 1295. It was certain however that the threat of another Romuva invasion is ever present and that the Christians living near the borders won't be safe as long as the pagan realm exists.

However, it wasn't de Luna concern anymore.


On 4th May 1295 grandmaster Leon Angelos delivered a final blow. Kidnapped by his Brotherhood guards, Salvador de Luna could choose sword or taking the vows as one of the warrior-monks of the Brotherhood. After his “request” was presented to the not even 5 year old Emperor and permission was granted, Salvador de Luna disappeared from the Imperial Palace in the assist of Brotherhood men. Grandmaster Leon Angelos was triumphant.

But such is the fate of the intriguers that they often get beaten in their own game.


Aristoi didn't wan Leon Angelos as an Imperial Regent – he was too powerful and too wealthy to let them run rampant in the slowly bleeding Basileia Romaion. They wanted someone weaker, someone easier to manipulate – they wanted a puppet. And so it was decided that mystikos Megistos Basiliakos, doux of Thessalonika became the new regent.

Mystikos and now regent wasn't stupid however – he was far too long in charge of imperial intelligence and espionage to be so naive and believe in the intentions of the aristoi. Man of his position are either manipulative and sneaky or dead. He used their trust to betray them and as soon as he become the Imperial Regent, he invited them for a great feast in the Imperial Palace. During the feast he clearly let them know that he knew their secrets – heretical beliefs, a noble lover, predisposition to pretty boys. He made it clear that if they ever challenge his rule, he won't hesitate to use this information against them. Being aristos the nobles gathered in Imperial Palace weren't stupid either. They knew that he knew their secrets and that's why they bribed several eunuchs to poison his servants during the feast – a small display of power and ruthlessness. Of course, mystikos Megistos Basiliakos anticipated this and that's why he used the eunuchs as a double agents to poison not his servants but some of the aristoi attendants. In case of them anticipating this move he even contacted grandmaster Leon Angelos who, hungry for revenge, promised him few dozens of the Brotherhood men to disguise as the Palace Guards and in case of any trouble capture his former allies.

The wake up call for all the scheming nobles couldn't have been louder.


On 6th July 1295 Tengri barbarians declared Great Holy War for Bulgaria on Basileia Romaion. The Empire, weakened by regency and internal struggle, faced one of the greatest challenges in the last few decades. With his rule unexpectedly unopposed, regent ordered mobilization of the imperial forces and called to arms mother of the young basileus, queen Varela.

Aragon answered the call.


The Great Holy War was a long but surprisingly not challenging struggle. For the reasons unknown, only small forces of the barbarians showed up on the imperial borders. It didn't mean that there weren't other troubles.


Another peasant uprising broke out and Imperial Regent have a lot work to do. Feeling confident, mystikos Megistos Basiliakos decided to reward himself for this lucky conflicts – endangered, the whole Empire united and nobody even dreamed about challenging his position.

Soon it became clear why barbarians are so weak – the High Priest Jurchedei himself was revolting against the young khagan, which meant he couldn't join the war declared by the religious head of the Tengri cult.

This was clearly a sign from God.


And so on 3rd January 1297 the Great Holy War was over. Being neither holy nor great, it was a total failure – Tengri “armies” who fought in this war combined were less numerous than one mercenary company hired by the regent and the struggle was resolved practically after a single battle. Nevertheless, he couldn't let such great occasion to strengthen his position slipped away.


A glorious triumph was held, first since the victory of the Saint Markos in Shia Jihad decades ago. In the meanwhile, young basileus was growing up. Unfortunately, his education wasn't in the best interest of the Regent – after all, it's much easier to manipulate an ignorant ruler. And so without his father's hand, young Leon was spending most of his time on playing with his friends, ignoring his teachers advices.

Triumphant Megistos Basiliakos was more than happy when he heard the news from the West.


Civil war for independence was declared by subjects of Zolin the Fat. Already having conquered small county in Tunisia during the last uprising, the regent was already dreaming about reclaiming the whole province. The occasion was to good to let it go and so the plans for war which was supposed to bring him glory were slowly taking shape.

Then, on 27th October 1297, the aristoi striked.


Humiliated by Imperial Regent, they were hungry for revenge. They didn't want independence of course – only a fool would like to rule over small independent realm bordering Ilkhanate. They wanted him to refuse to their demands and remove him from the office during the war. Poison, dagger, arrow – there were plenty of ways to end his reign. Overconfident Megistos Basiliakos instead of just having airstoi. assassinated walked right into the trap.


The rebelling faction wasn't strong enough to overpower imperial army, it seemed. More concerned about this whole thing stopping him from reclaiming Tunisia than about the rebellion, Imperial Regent without hesitation refused to their demands. And so on 30th October 1297 civil war broke out which, in regent's mind, was already won and all what's left was to wipe out the traitors and their pathetic armies.

Unfortunately, Megistos Basiliakos was dead wrong.

 
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Stuyvesant

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Urgh. This is not pretty to watch. First the Doux start tearing each other apart, now they seem content to tear the Empire itself apart. And still ten years or so before you even have a proper Emperor! I fear what those ten years will bring...

One of the forumites, Director, like to mention a quote, which goes something like this: the first generation creates, the second consolidates, and the third watches the whole thing burn down. Right now, that seems pretty apt here: Saint Markos built up the Empire to great heights, Valerios barely had time to get started, but didn't do any damage, and now poor little Leon gets to watch as the Empire burns. I hope the Empire won't be a mere shell of what it was, by the time leon reaches maturity.
 

Nikolai

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And there goes the neighbourhood...
 

DarthJF

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Oh boy, this doesn't look good.
 

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CzokletMuss

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Urgh. This is not pretty to watch. First the Doux start tearing each other apart, now they seem content to tear the Empire itself apart. And still ten years or so before you even have a proper Emperor! I fear what those ten years will bring...

One of the forumites, Director, like to mention a quote, which goes something like this: the first generation creates, the second consolidates, and the third watches the whole thing burn down. Right now, that seems pretty apt here: Saint Markos built up the Empire to great heights, Valerios barely had time to get started, but didn't do any damage, and now poor little Leon gets to watch as the Empire burns. I hope the Empire won't be a mere shell of what it was, by the time leon reaches maturity.
Wise saying indeed. But what I like about this particular game is that every time I think everything is going to hell, RNG somehow finds a way to show me that it can be much, much worse - and it is. You'll find out in the next chapters ;)
Megistos is seriously in need of some assassins...
I don't think even the whole unit of Hashashins would be enough.
And there goes the neighbourhood...
Oh boy, this doesn't look good.
Exactly my reaction when I was playing :)
Kill the incapable ! Only Leon cna teach them humility with the sword!
Leon VII can't even raise a sword and if you're talking about the grandmaster of the Brotherhood, well, he would love to but he took the vows :>
 

mike the knight

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EU3NOOB

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The Christian God has failed you! Scientology is where its at!


All Hail Zenu!
 

Willz_l)arklord

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Mmm Mmm Mmm, so good. Its always great to read these style of AARs.
 

CzokletMuss

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Onyl the grandmaster is capable ofbeing a regent at these times!
And - of course- he's completely incapable of being one it seems :(
This is why elective succession is superior - you can always select the best relative.
Meh, it's too easy plus in this case if I won't get elected it's basically game over. I doubt silly AI would survive long as Basileia Romaion.
The Christian God has failed you! Scientology is where its at!
All Hail Zenu!
Zenu? Xenu? Xenos? HERESY!
Mmm Mmm Mmm, so good. Its always great to read these style of AARs.
Thank you :)

Next chapter should come out sometime soon plus there will be extra chapters about the Angelos dynasty (mis)fortune in 1066-1264 period, which would substitute the placeholder Prologue. Expect more details about Saint Markos early rule! And by early I mean the first 40-50 years :D