• 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

CzokletMuss

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Fantastic AAR! The title certainly delivers as advertised: I can't recall a crazier CK2 game! This is why I enjoy Sunset invasion, for the apocalyptic insanity that can result in the 13th Century from all of those invasions. Here's hoping the Roman Empire will weather the storm and drive back the barbarians.
Thank you very much! And yes, SI is, contrary to the common opinion, actually a quite cool DLC :)
Angelos restoration coming!
Well, it already happened during Saint Markos reign - and it's only getting worse and worse for the Empire with every passing year.
Ia sure that Empress will be the salvation of the realm ! With Brotherhood's sword shall slain the infidels!
Like they did on the fields of Arish? :p
Always superbly written! I shiver for the oncoming battle! You have the number and the field with you though, and the Khan doesn't seem such a great military leader.
Thanks! One thing is certain, this battle will be decisive if the Basileia Romaion loses - all my levies are heading to Melitene.
Well... I did not spot at first the 20000 men coming from the north... So, let's say you are even... The battle will be terrible ! The grass in the valley of Melitene will grow red from the blood of all the men who will die...
Oh yes, it'll be a bloodbath.

The next chapter will be a promised chronicle of the Angeloi; thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the story! :)
 

CzokletMuss

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THE CHRONICLE OF THE HOUSE ANGELOS
PART ONE
FOUNDATION




Like the Ancients teach us, in the beginning there was chaos – and a myth.

***
Angelos the Messenger

Legendary Founder of the House Angelos

Born???
Died1065?


Battle of Hades

On 20th August 1057 two giant armies were getting ready for battle on the fields of a plain called Hades near Nicea. Imperial army was lead by the basileus Michael VI Stratiotikos himself, first Emperor in 200 years who wasn't a member of the House Makedon. Against the elite troops of tagmata under the command of eunuch and domestikos ton scholon Theodoros stood much smaller army of rebelling aristoi. Their leaders were doukes Romanos Skleros, Katakolon Kekaumenos and Isaakios Komnenos, united in their desire to dethrone the usurper.

The battle was bloody. Imperial left wing under the command of Bulgarian prince Aaron completely destroyed the right wing of the rebel army, forcing Katakolon Kekaumenos to retreat. In the same time, the left wing of the aristoi army lead by Romanos Skleros managed to raid the camp of the imperial army and destroy the tents. The center of the army was lead by Isaakios Komnenos, who had to hold his position long enough for the Katakolon Kekaumenos to regroup if the aristoi were to have any chance in this struggle.

It was there, were the battle was as its thickest the proud Isaakios Komnenos was isolated from his troops and surrounded by four Russian mercenaries. Although a capable warrior, exhausted and wounded he would have probably died there on the field of Hades if it weren't for the unexpected help. Young soldier suddenly appeared at the Komnenos side, with two swords in his hands and what appeared to be two wings strapped to the back of his armor. Russians laughed at him, but then he warned them that God has chosen the Isaakios Komnenos as a rightful ruler of the Basileia Romaion and that anyone how would want to kill him will surely die himself, since such was the will of the Almighty God. Russian mercenaries didn't believe him and soon all of them were dead – although he looked like an angel, he fought like a devil.


Miraculously saved from a certain death Isaakios Komnenos managed to hold his position long enough for the right wing of the rebel army to regroup and join the center in the attack. Soon the battle was over – basileus Michael VI Stratiotikos was defeated and Isaakios Komnenos was triumphant. Victorious House Komnenos soon seized the Imperial Throne and so Isaakios Komnenos became the Emperor in 1057. Grateful for mysterious stranger for saving his life, in the same year he decided to honor him with a title of komes or, as the Westerners say, a count and give him the bandon of Chios and Lykia under the thema of Samos. Almost nothing is known about the Angelos the Messenger after this date, not even when he died or who his wife was. All we know is that he left one child – his firstborn son, Manuel.


***
Manuel I Angelos

Doux of Samos

Born - 1 January 1050
Died – comatose in bed on 29 November 1101 at age 51


Growing strong

Manuel I was the true founder of the power of House Angelos. After his father died or left (the fate of Angelos the Messenger is still unknown) and he reached the proper age, he was summoned in 1066 to the Imperial Palace to pay homage to the Emperor and pledge submission to the Throne, thus renewing his father's oath. It is worth noting that this was a extraordinary ceremony, reserved normally for the doukes, which is another argument for the existence of Angelos the Messanger – there had to be a reason for which my ancestor was honored by this ceremony.


It's clear that this first visit in Konstantinopoulis made a huge impession on Manuel I and, perhaps, awaken his great ambition. Or maybe it was the Emperor himself. Weak and corrupted Konstantinox X Doukas made a lot of aristoi dream about the throne. Whatever the reason, Manuel I desires were born on these days, within the Walls of the City.


The occasion to seize power occurred quickly. Doux Konstantinos was never popular, especially after the infamous expulsion of the Jews in 1069. Soon after that the war broke out and, as we all know, the Empire suffered a disastrous defeat in 1071 on the fields of Manzikert. In the ensuing chaos an anarchy ambitious Manuel I rebelled against his superior and seized his title. Emperor Michael VII Doukas the Wicked facing foreign invasion and a threat of civil war didn't have a choice but to accept this – Manuel I became a doux of Samos.


After eliminating all opposition and securing his rule in thema of Samos and having his appetite for power satisfied, Manuel I decided to focus on his family and children, without his the legacy of the House Angelos would surely perish. It became his main goal especially after a failed scheme to became a magistros in the High Council, for which he almost payed with his life. The Emperor Michael VII in a rare display of mercy decided to forgive him for this treason and released him from prison in 1090. He didn't do this out of kidness, of course – it was the time of the great turmoil near the imperial borders and the Emperor wanted to ensure loyalty of all his subjects. In the next year the infamous Fall of Hungary took place, with the barbaric Pechenegs conquering the Christian kingdom and giving a birth to a dynasty which to this day rule in kingdom of Poland and Acquitaine.


Several years late Manuel I, 35 years after the ceremony in Konstantinopoulis confirming his status as a aristos, died comatose in bed, leaving a great fortune and a strong domain to his son and heir, Manuel II Angelos.


***
Manuel II Angelos

Doux of Samos

Born - 29 June 1079
Died – natural death in bed on 14 May 1130 at age 51


The “Necronomicon” and dark magic

Manuel II was in a much better position to elevate his social status than his father. Thanks to arrangements made by Manuel I, in his veins was the blood of the House Komnenos and therefore the blood of the same basileus Isaakos who elevated Angelos the Messanger to his position as a komes. It's worth noting that the traditional friendship among our Houses is honored to this day and despite countless civil wars or conflicts with the external enemies Angeloi and Komnenoi were always brothers and sisters. It's obvious that this make it only easier for him to marry douchess Martha Skleros of thema of Thracesia.


Marriage and alliance with ancient House Skleros was a wise move through which Manuel II secured growth of his dominion within the imperial borders, for despite the frequent civil wars during the First Doukas Anatchy the authority of the Throne was such great that if Manuel II would try to use sword to increase his domain he would surely pay for this with his neck. In the first years of Manuel II reign the infamous Crusade for Hungary against the Pechenegs was declared with pathetic results. Forcefully converted in 1105 Pechenegs not only remained in power but in the decades to come became even stronger and to this day their descendants are an important power in Europe.

Being a patient and humble man, Manuel II was a faithful servant of the Throne, no matter who amongst the members of the House Doukas was a current ruler. His years were passing on military service, governing his thema and family life, for he loved his wife greatly. The greater his horror was when his youngest son was born.


Unnerved by a strange behavior of his youngest son Niketas, in the year 1114 Manuel II tried to seek consolation. Unfortunately, the ecclesiarch was strongly convicted that the whispers of courtiers were true – Niketas Angelos was truly cursed and his mother with him.


Almost driven to madness because of all this and still deeply in love with his wife, Manuel II decided to ignore this revelations and ordered all his subjects never to talk about this issue. To this day nobody knows whether the rumor was true. But what we do know is that indeed a lot of strange things happened to members of House Angelos closest to doux Manuel II in the following years.


First one of his sons suffered a stroke in 1116 and died in a few months later. Superstitious courtiers blamed small Niketas for this but one has to wonder is it possible that a small child could do something like this. Even if Niketas experimented with black magic, about which I'll write more later, it's simply not possible to curse anyone when one can't even speak.


Then years later in 1125 another accident happened – Michael Angelos was found dead in his chamber, probably also because of a stroke. The dark rumors about “demon child” appeared again, only stronger this time.


So when finally in a following year in 1126 another son of doux Manuel, Maurikios, claimed that in fact small Niketas did try to murder him using dark powers, the common folk all but passed a judgment on him, now strongly convicted that he's indeed a devilspawn. The rumors peaked in 1128 when Niketas reached the age of 16. By this time only his father's position was stopping the patriarch from excommunicating him.


Today we don't know enough to say whether he really was an offspring of Diabolos. What we do know is that Niketas the Cruel in fact was a ruthless, lustful and greedy man, always eager to commit terrible atrocities for his own amusement. But on the other hand we know that he also possessed a brilliant mind and that against the common notion, he preferred the company of Plato or Socrates than this of common thieves and sellswords. Always carrying a few books with himself, he was nonetheless a cruel man, hunger for blood and openly mocking the True Faith. His greatest enemies – and he had a lot of them – were saying even that he was not only a non-believer, but a cultist. Niketas was supposed to perform blasphemous rituals, including human sacrifice, by which, as they were saying, he was worshipping the dark gods. He was supposed to do this all being influenced by a cursed book of dark magic, the infamous “Necronomicon”. Now as much as we would like to dismiss this accusations, today knowing that the Dark Powers are worshipped by the savages from the Far East the once ridiculous claims about Niketas the Cruel being possessed are no longer so improbable as they used to be.

Whatever terrible true lies behind the rumors, the fact is that untimely deaths of Manuel and Michael and other sons of doux Manuel as well as infamy surrounding Niketas the Cruel ultimately led to one of the darkest hours in the history of my House – the reign of young Manuel III Angelos and the years which followed.
 
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mike the knight

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VILenin

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Interesting. Apparently the omens were there from the beginning of the game that everything would be going to Hell sooner or later. ;)
 

dangerogre

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OMG, we're all doomed :)
Great writing, I can hardly wait for the next chapter!
 

Stuyvesant

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Haven't read the latest update yet (the Chronicle entry), but I enjoyed reading about Martha's accession to power. Shrewd move with the marriage to Markos (too bad about his wife, she was a lovely lady I'm sure, but sometimes politics calls for harsh measures ;) and a blissful two years of stability before the Mongols came pouring over the borders. I hope you can bleed them in the Armenian highlands.

Will read the Chronicle entry as soon as possible.
 

CzokletMuss

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CHAPTER 9
1312-1314
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH


[video=youtube_share;feu2owd0MsY]http://youtu.be/feu2owd0MsY[/video]​

It was a bloodbath.

When two gigantic armies collided in the valleys of Melitene, they say that the true fight was fought not with a sword but amongst two divine powers – Iesous Christos on the side of his beloved Basileia Romaion and Sky-Father on the side of might Ilkhanate. They say that the invisible armies of God's angels and Tengri daimones fought even more fiercely than the armies assembled in the mountainous province of Armenia during these days.

Spreading such pagan nonsense is of course considered heretical and condemns one's soul to Hell – there's no God but our Lord.


It's understandable why superstitious peasant were spreading such tales – the truly titanic struggles in the valleys of Melitene consumed more lives than any other war since the First Mongol Invasion. When on 9th March 1312 the slaughter known as the battle of Arca finally ended, more than 45,000 men were dead. And although it was a splendid victory of Imperial Army, the mountain rivers ran red from the blood of the massacred soldiers. If one of the khagan's generals didn't unexpectedly decide to not join the battle, the casualties may be even higher. Even if so, the elite kataphraktoi tagmata would probably crush the barbarians anyways. Thanks to the wise decision of the basilissa Martha to concentrate all forces using Imperial Navy, the battle was a grand victory for the Empire.


The army of the invaded Mongols was wiped out – no one survived Arca. When the news reached the Capital, Empress rejoiced. Even better, the powerful doux of thema Cilicia, Theophylaktos Angelos, decided to abandon his petty scheme against the Empress and submit completely to the will of the Throne.


Always ambitious Theophylaktos was known for his desire of power. Unfortunately for him, during the regency of Salvador de Luna he was betrayed by his supporters and suffered greatly, being castrated by the Castillan regent. Even this didn't stop him and know, seeing how dangerous for the Basileia Romaion the conflict with Mongols can be, doux Theophylaktos promised to personally lead all his troops to the field of battle if the Empress wishes so. And so she did.


Although basilissa Martha has just gave birth to porphyrogennetos Markos, she demanded not only that the troops of doux of thema Cilicia join the main army but also ordered Brotherhood to reinforce the army in Melitene – for the barbarians were many and the army destroyed during battle of Arca was just one of the many forces khagan sent to destroy the Empire.


A strong army was assembled in the still red from the blood of the barbarians valley. The Brotherhood and doux Theophylaktos troops were to take the first strike and stave off the endless waves of the Mongols until the main army came to finish them – just like in Arca. And so on 13th April 1312 the battle of Somosata began.


The barbarians were many and like a black sea filled with wrath they attacked the imperial forces gathered in Melitene. But these were not endless steps and the defenders led by doux Theophylaktos made a good use of the terrain. Soon the furious attack of the Mongols lost its impact. Then the reinforcements came, closing the only way out of the valley.

Once again the blood flew like a river.


The battle of Samosata concluded on 7th of May, just like the previous one bringing death to tens of thousands. Nobody asked for pardon and none was given – the barbarians were slaughtered like a locust they are. It was their overconfidence which was the cause of such crushing defeat them. In their wagons hundreds of crosses were found – it appeared that prideful khagan was already thinking about punishing the brave imperial soldiers who dared to oppose him. Instead, the valleys of Melitene were filled with corpses of his own men. They say that only one Ilhhanate warrior survived the battle – a lone war-chief, blinded and released free to bring the horrifying news of utter defeat to the khagan. All of the crosses were blessed by priests and used in the mass graves of the fallen imperial soldiers. It's no surprise that since these days the local commoners started to call the place the Valley of the Shadow – indeed, the passage from the Holy Bible was more than appropriate in face of death of more than 100,000 men.

But nothing can stop the wrath of the Mongol, not even the rivers of blood.


Another gigantic army was assembled, this time led by the khagan Belgutei the Great himself. Willing to wipe out the Imperial Army once and for all, he crossed the mountains of Georgia during summer and laid siege to countless holdings. Thousands of peasants were crucified, raped or taken as slaves. The valleys of Armenia was once again filled only with death.


In the meantime, the Empress became pregnant again after a short visit of king Markos of Aragon in Konstantinoupolis, who's army was sieging Mongol castles nearby the Holy City of Hierousalem. Further weakened by her condition and with khagan army deeper and deeper within the imperial borders with every passing day, the Empress sent captain Kyriakos the Hunchback of the Varangian Guard to Armenia to ensure coordination between imperial armies assembled nearby Melitene.


In January 1313 the khagan army, plagued by disease and lack of supplies, shrinked to a mere 25,000 troops. Captain Kyriakos the Hunchback and doux Theophylaktos Angelos decided that the time to strike has come. Knowing that attacking the enemy in mountains would mean heavy casualties, they decided to do this anyway. And so the battle of Tercan began on 4th March 1313.


The battle was long and bloody. Even without their horses the Mongol barbarians are a terrific archers – many of the imperial soldiers found their end from the poisoned arrow while assaulting Ilkhanate positions. But with the superior numbers, the Imperial Army was sure to succeed in the end.


When the bloody battle was fought, basilissa Martha received another blessing from the Almighty God – porphyrogennetissa Xene was born on 6th June 1313. With two children from the blessed marriage with king Markos, the Throne was secured for the House Angelos. And although basilissa wished to have more children, the harsh times of war don't leave much time for the mighty ones to indulge in the marital duty.


The price for this victory was high however – so far from the start of the invasion almost 40,000 imperial soldiers were killed. Khagan was nowhere to be found and even the forces of captain Kyriakos the Hunchback couldn't find him while chasing the Mongol deserters. It was only the matter of time before he assemblies another army – it was well known that so far hordes from Persia or Arabia weren't participating in invasion. With the realm stretching from Novgorod to Mecca and under the tyrannical rule of khagan Belgutei, the Mongols were no longer a disorganized horde of steppe tribes – they were the greatest military force in both Europe and Asia, their reserves virtually unlimited. With barbarians replenishing their losses faster than they were killed by the Imperial Army, the threat of war going on long enough for the Aztec to decide to attack the bleeding Empire was too big to be accepted.

But wise Empress knew that if the sword fails, one always have a dagger.


Khagan Belgutei, son of Yesugei, son of Belgutei, was dead. Dagger through his heart was put by Russian eunuch, one of the many Orthodox slaves serving the Mongol lords. The loss of this visionary and ruthless leader called the Great by his slaves was a great blow to the Ilkhanate. With no male descendant, the power over the Horde lied now in the hands of the uncle of khagan Belgutei, Menggei Toluid.


This old and experienced veteran of the conquest of Arabia was far from being a fanatic. With no sympathy from the priests of the Cult of Tengri and having to deal with the tragic defeats in the West, his position was shaky to say it mildly. Knowing this, wise Empress decided to seize the occasion.


Soon the Orthodox Revolt rose against the Horde, further distracting mighty Ilkhanate from focusing all their forces on the still ongoing invasion of Armenia. Basilissa tried also to assassinate the khagan himself, hoping that when his young son inherits the vast dominion it's going to be soon torn apart by civil war. Alas, this time it wasn't so easy – cynical and suspicious Menggei was to careful for that.


Led by captain Kyriakos the Hunchback, imperial forces destroyed another Mongol army on 15th February 1314. Victory after victory, the authority of the Throne grew and soon the Empress was able to once again force all the aristoi to pay the imperial tax from their own coffers. This strengthen the Empire greatly in the following years.

In the meantime, imperial spies found out that the khagan himself is leading a small army nearby the border. The occasion was too tempting to ignore it – captain Kyriakos with his army was swiftly transported to Crimea and ordered to chase the khagan.


The battle, insignificant for the fate of the war, was won – but the khagan and his guards managed to escape, using their superior knowledge of the steppe. Not that it mattered: with his armies shattered, a great revolt near the border with Lithuania and threatened by a civil war due to his shameful defeat, khagan was forced to surrender.


The Second Mongol Invasion ended on 14th April 1314. After more three years of pillage and ruin, the empire was finally in peace. It paid for it dearly though – more than 50,000 soldiers were killed during the war and at least twice that many amongst the peasantry. The Ilkhanate army alone lost more than 100,000 men. This terrible struggle which cost totally a quarter of million lives severely weakened the Horde. And even the victorious Empire suffered from the complete desolation in the northern Armenia – traditionally wealthy province was now desolated, it cities and villages abandoned. Belgutei the Great was dead and his ambition brought only ruin to everyone.

But at last the Empire was at peace.

 
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mike the knight

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CzokletMuss

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Spawn of the devil ..... It suits perfectly with the religious fanatism of ERE ;)
Interesting. Apparently the omens were there from the beginning of the game that everything would be going to Hell sooner or later. ;)
"Have I misread the signs?" Apparently so :)
OMG, we're all doomed :)
Great writing, I can hardly wait for the next chapter!
Here it is :)
Haven't read the latest update yet (the Chronicle entry), but I enjoyed reading about Martha's accession to power. Shrewd move with the marriage to Markos (too bad about his wife, she was a lovely lady I'm sure, but sometimes politics calls for harsh measures ;) and a blissful two years of stability before the Mongols came pouring over the borders. I hope you can bleed them in the Armenian highlands.
Will read the Chronicle entry as soon as possible.
Yeah, 2 years of peace and 3 years of war. I wish I have a long peace during which I can expand a little :(
An amazing victory for the Empire ! If only we could benefit from this......
If only...

Question - would you prefer the next chapter to be, well, next chapter or the next part of the chronicle?
 

Winner

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Truly a magnificent AAR, a pleasure to read. Great work :)

(As for the question, the Chronicle was great, so I'd like to see more of it :) )
 

Stuyvesant

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6 in one hand, half a dozen in the other... Niketas the Demonspawn is interesting and I wonder what great/foul deeds he commits, but on the other hand, we already know that the Angeloi will survive him and end up on the Imperial throne, so it's not urgent to learn more about colorful Niketas. The crisis with the Mongols has passed - for now - but the Empire paid a heavy price and no doubt the Aztecs are gearing up for another round of warfare, so the present situation is as least as interesting.

In other words: I'll leave it up to you to decide what kind of update you want to write next. :)
 

Nikephoros II

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And so was the battle won due to swift tactics and multiple, simultaneous and devastating defensive deep-strikes. If it was any other game, it'd probably be a long period of peace but judging from your luck, the Aztecs are probably going to attack you again.
 

CzokletMuss

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Truly a magnificent AAR, a pleasure to read. Great work :)
Thank you very much :)
(As for the question, the Chronicle was great, so I'd like to see more of it :) )
Well for my part I prefer the next chapter :) I really want to know what will happen during the reign of the Basilissa!
6 in one hand, half a dozen in the other... Niketas the Demonspawn is interesting and I wonder what great/foul deeds he commits, but on the other hand, we already know that the Angeloi will survive him and end up on the Imperial throne, so it's not urgent to learn more about colorful Niketas. The crisis with the Mongols has passed - for now - but the Empire paid a heavy price and no doubt the Aztecs are gearing up for another round of warfare, so the present situation is as least as interesting.
In other words: I'll leave it up to you to decide what kind of update you want to write next. :)
I think that is indeed the most important point :)
I'm asking because I've prepared the images for both of them :) Alright, the next one will be a suprise than :)
And so was the battle won due to swift tactics and multiple, simultaneous and devastating defensive deep-strikes. If it was any other game, it'd probably be a long period of peace but judging from your luck, the Aztecs are probably going to attack you again.
Funny that you mention this... :D
 

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Funny that you mention this... :D
My finely attuned senses suggest that this is an instance of 'foreshadowing', meaning we're in for a jolly good time incredibly bloody war with the Aztecs. It's amazing how sharp I can be when I really put my brain to it. :p
 

CzokletMuss

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CHAPTER 10
1314-1316
FEAR THOU NOT



On 6th day of February in the year of Our Lord 1316 the illustrious High Council of the Basileia Romaion have assembled to debate and advice the blessed Basilissa Autokratissa of the Basileia Romaion Martha Angelos, chosen by Our Lord and Savior as the Protector of the Christendom and Empress of the Romans.

Subject of the 47th High Council assembly: report of the Skrinion Ton Barbaron

Present members of the High Council:

- Leon Angelos, Magistros of Basileia Romaion and Grandmaster of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre
- Kyriakos the Norse, Strategos of Basileia Romaion and Captain of the Varangian Guard
- Laurentios Doukas, Sakellarios of Basileia Romaion and Doux of Coloneia
- Samuel of Klazomenai, Mystikos of Basileia Romaion and Mayor of Klaozemenai
and His Holiness the Archbishop of Konstantinoupolis and Ecumenical Patriarch Loukas, Ecclesiarch of Basileia Romaion

Minutes made by vestes Isaac, eunuch of the Imperial Palace



***
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: He's late. Again.
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: Mhm.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: He's always late.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: :sigh:
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: I hate it when he makes us wait.
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: Patience, my dear strategos, is a virtue.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: He always does this when we're about to discuss the report of the Bureau of Barbarians.


SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: It's no secret that porphyrogennetos doesn't like to talk about barbarians, blessed strategos. He prefers to act, with a sword preferably.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Sword can't solve all our problems, illustrious mystikos. You amongst all men should know it best.


LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: But aren't you a war hero yourself? You didn't seem to oppose the use of a sword while you were leading our armies during the Second Mongol Invasion, my friend.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: There is time for everything. We should use the time of peace to strengthen ourselves, not to declare another pointless war. Our borders are already too long to be properly protected against the raiders.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: With all due respect, lord Kyriakos, why shouldn't we continue reclaiming our lands? Even the mighty Horde was defeated by the brave soldiers of the Empire. Don you remember the glorious triumph at the Hippodrome?
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: I will never forget it. That's not important however – what matters is that we shouldn't conquer more lands.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: Why not?
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Why should we? What could the Basileia Romaion gain from it? More levies? We all know how hard is it to maintain order in the newly conquered provinces and the local peasants aren't a good material for soldier when they pray to the false gods and don't even speak in Greek. We reconquered the province of Aigyptos decades ago and still the cursed Shia are rebelling. And not only there – or have you forgotten the last revolt in Ferrara?


SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: They rebelled because the taxes were too high, not because they wished to secede from the Empire.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Yes, but why the taxes are so high? Because we need a men to protect our citizens – lots of men. We share border not only with the Horde but also with the savages from the Far West, may I remind you. Not to mention the Shia who-
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: But the infidels are kept busy by a civil war right now, don't they? So why shouldn't we seize the occasion and crush them once and for all. The Empress herself promised this to king Gondar.
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: Doux. He's a doux now.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: It doesn't matter. The Christian kingdom of Nubia-
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Has fallen long ago and it's revival isn't in our interest. We've already established border with the Shia near Sennar – there is no need to push forward. Basileia Romaion owes nothing to Nubians.


PATRIARCH LOUKAS: Aren't you forgetting about something? There are Christians living in these lands, our brothers who are suffering under the rule of the cursed infidels. They must be liberated. This is our moral duty.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: With all due respect Your Holiness, but didn't the last king of Nubia convert to the True Faith and promised to convert all his subjects as well? The Miaphysites are just-
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: They are not heretics, which was confirmed during the last ecumenical council. Or do you pretend to know more about the matters of Faith than me, dear Samuel?
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: Oh no, no Your Holiness! I was just trying to-
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: They are Christians. The Empire's holy mission bestowed on it by the Almighty God is to protect the faithful and rule over them. The ancient land of Abyssinia must be reclaimed.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: The Empress will decide about this, Your Holiness.
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: Yes. But as the members of this Council it is our duty to council Her Majesty – and as Christians, it is our duty to help our brothers and sisters in Africa.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: With all due respect, I won't advise the Empress to do this. There are other pressing concerns and basilissa already-
:trumpets:
EUNUCH: His Excellency, Caesar and Antypathos of Basileia Romaion, Grandmaster of Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, illustrious magistros of the Empire and Protector of the Realm, porphyrogennetos Leon Angelos. All hail the caesar!


LEON ANGELOS: My lords. Your Holiness.
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: My caesar.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: Your Excellency.
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: Greetings, my dear Leon.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: You are late.
LEON ANGELOS: Matters of the state. I had to deal with the messenger from His Highness king Markos requesting our support in reconquista. I promised him more troops – I believe this Council will accept this decision.
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: Of course, caesar.
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: The Church will always support actions against the infidels.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: Naturally, naturally.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: …
LEON ANGELOS: And now to business. First thing we need to discuss is the situation in the West. The savages had-
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Excuse me, my caesar, but what about the Bavaria? Did they agree?
LEON ANGELOS: Yes.
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: This is fantastic!


LEON ANGELOS: However, in return they demanded hypobolon.
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: Hmm. How much?
LEON ANGELOS: 900 hyperpera.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Nine hundred? One can buy an army for this!
LEON ANGELOS: I believe that's the reason why they demanded so much. The regent also asked for our military support against one of the rebelling lords of Bavaria.


KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: But isn't that too much for a dower? Can we afford it at all?
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: Yes, yes we can. The Imperial Treasury is in an excellent condition actually.
LEON ANGELOS: It's decided than. The High Council approves of this betrothal. All it takes now is for Martha to confirm this and the Empire will gain a powerful ally.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: Too powerful, perhaps.
LEON ANGELOS: Excuse me?
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: The Bavarians are a rising power in the West. We should tread carefully to not allow them to grow too much. What if they decide to usurp the title of the so called Holy Roman Empire?
LEON ANGELOS: There is only one Basileia Romaion and as a good Christians the Bavarians know this. The king may be just a child but his regent, duke Giselbert, is too smart to try to betray us. They won't risk a confrontation.


KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Unless he becomes corrupted by the power he has over the realm as a regent. We all know that this may happen.
LEON ANGELOS: Are you referring to doux Megistos? If so, you should remember that the God himself punished him for his crimes against the Emperor and make him mad. Alone and a broken man he withered, forever remembered as a traitor. But duke Giselbert is not a man like him. I wouldn't concern myself by such speculations.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: But what if-
LEON ANGELOS: Enough. Unless some of you would like to disagree with the Empress, I consider the High Council to completely support this betrothal.
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: …
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: …
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: …
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: …
LEON ANGELOS: Good. Now, the situation in the West.


LEON ANGELOS: As you know, the savages declared the war against the heretics from the Teuton Order on 16th August last year. The – where's the map? Oh, right. You may go now.
EUNUCH: Yes, my caesar.
LEON ANGELOS: The heretics situation was hopeless from the beginning, several castles against the Aztec armies.


KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: I still don't understand why the barbarians attacked the order.
LEON ANGELOS: Does it matter?
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Perhaps. They control these lands for decades yet they didn't even try to depose the king of France.
LEON ANGELOS: This “king” you are talking about is a heretic and a vassal to the kaiser of Germans. He has no more power than a doux of small thema – he's irrelevant. And if the savages crush him one day like they crushed the Teutons I say good riddance!


SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: They did resist for a long time though.
LEON ANGELOS: It matters not. What's important is that this conflict terrified all Germans so much that their kaiser finally managed to gain some real authority over his heretic subjects.


KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Why should it concern us?
LEON ANGELOS: The German heretics are surrounded, strategos Kyriakos. With the petty excuse for a state of the Bretons almost completely destroyed by the good Swedish Christians and kingdom of Bavaria slow but steady expansion, the days of this heretic stronghold are numbered.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: And we want to support Bavaria conquer of Germany because of the betrothal.
LEON ANGELOS: Yes. The savages won't dare to attack the ally of the Empire, not after what happened the last time they tried to defeat us. Just like Aragon, Bavaria will become an impenetrable wall for the invaders from the Far West, thus separating them from the rest of the Christians.
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: I see. And if they attack, the war won't be fought on our territory.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: So they are not our ally – they are a buffer state.
LEON ANGELOS: Of course they are.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: But what about Pisa?
LEON ANGELOS: What about it?
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: If they conquer the Germans before kingdom of Bavaria-
LEON ANGELOS: They won't. The doge Guarnito the Wise himself proposed a non-aggression pact. The Empress accepted it under the condition that Pisa won't intervene in Germany during the next 20 years.
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: What? Why we find out about this only now? The Council-
LEON ANGELOS: The Council has nothing to say in this matter – it's already done. The secret pact was strengthened by a marriage between the Empress cousin and one of the doge sons.


LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: Of course, we will abide the will of the Throne. But why the secrecy?
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Battle of Calcinaia. The army would be greatly troubled if they knew that the Empire is negotiating with Pisans who slaughtered our elite troops. Many of the officers fathers or grandfathers were slained on the fields of Calcinaia.
LEON ANGELOS: Precisely. But they won't know about this – would they, strategos?
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: …
LEON ANGELOS: Good. There is another problem however. If I remember correctly, your predecessor excommunicated the Pisans after Calcinaia – am I right, Your Holiness?
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: Yes. But why-
LEON ANGELOS: Church must revoke the excommunication.
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: Oh!
LEON ANGELOS: Your Holiness, I find no pleasure dealing with Pisans or barbarians. But for the good of the realm this must be done.
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: Is it? May I remind you that however the Empress has the power over all Christians, only God Almighty has the power over the Holy Church. Nobody can dictate-
LEON ANGELOS: Haven't my niece already showed how much does she care about the Holy Church? Didn't she travel to the Holy Hierusalem to thank Our Lord for the victory over the barbarian hordes?


PATRIARCH LOUKAS: Well-
LEON ANGELOS: Didn't she showed her generosity by building two grand monasteries on the Mount Athos?


PATRIARCH LOUKAS: I didn't-
LEON ANGELOS: My father protected all of us against infidels, Mongol barbarians and heretics. My nephew destroyed the armies of the savages from the Far West who wanted to enslave us. My niece defeated the unstoppable Horde. My House is the shield of the Christendom. And you dare to oppose the Empress?
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: I would never-
LEON ANGELOS: The fate of the world depends on the Holy Church and Basileia Romaion and they without my House would be dust. We Angeloi were chosen by God to rule over His children. By disrespecting my niece, you are disrespecting God himself!
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: But-
LEON ANGELOS: You will do as you are commanded to. The excommunication of the Pisans will be revoked so that the Empire can grow strong and prosper. This is the what the Empress wants. And it shall be done. God wills it!
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: God wills it!
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: Amen.
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: …
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: O-of course, porphyrogennetos. Please forgive me the moment of doubt.
LEON ANGELOS: Good. Now, is there-
EUNUCH: My caesar.
LEON ANGELOS: It better be important or I will have your eyes, eunuch. What is it?
EUNUCH: :whispers:
LEON ANGELOS: Dear God...
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: Illustrious caesar, are you feeling alright?
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: Yes, is everything alright? You look terribly pale, Your Excellency. Should we-
LEON ANGELOS: The jihad has been declared.
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: By God!
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: For Nubia? I knew it! We have to-
LEON ANGELOS: No. For Hierusalem.


SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: What? The caliph is attacking the Ilkhanate?
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: Shia are attacking the Horde?
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: That's great news. Let our enemies to bleed themselves out, then we will-
LEON ANGELOS: How dare they! They are barely surviving in the depths of Africa and now they want to conquer the Holy Land? The lands were Our Lord Iesus Kristos has been preaching? The lands were He lived? Were my niece traveled during her pilgrimage?!
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: Caesar? You don't look good, shall we-
LEON ANGELOS: Not only that but the cursed Shia are bold enough to try and take these lands from the Horde!? Do they believe that their false god will help them!? How dare they! HOW DARE THEY!
LAURENTIOS DOUKAS: For the love of God!
LEON ANGELOS: HOW DARE THEY! :choking:
PATRIARCH LOUKAS: Iesus Kristos!
LEON ANGELOS: HOW DARE THEY! :choking on blood: How... dare...
SAMUEL OF KLAZOMENAI: Caesar!
KYRIAKOS THE NORSE: Call in the physician! Call in the Jew!

 
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Stuyvesant

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Nice... So I was wrong about the Aztec war (for the time being). Leon dying in a fit of rage reminds me of the Roman Emperor Valentinian, who supposedly died from a stroke after being presented with outrageous demands from barbarian envoys. A nice bit of Roman history repeating itself there.

Story-wise, Leon seemed to act as an enforcer for the Empress, beating the council into submission so that they would agree to her decisions. A strong ally for her. I wonder who will take on that role now, now that Leon has breathed his last.
 

CzokletMuss

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Nice... So I was wrong about the Aztec war (for the time being). Leon dying in a fit of rage reminds me of the Roman Emperor Valentinian, who supposedly died from a stroke after being presented with outrageous demands from barbarian envoys. A nice bit of Roman history repeating itself there.

Story-wise, Leon seemed to act as an enforcer for the Empress, beating the council into submission so that they would agree to her decisions. A strong ally for her. I wonder who will take on that role now, now that Leon has breathed his last.
For the time being indeed. And yes, this was a reference to Valentinian I - cool that you noticed! :)
Story-wise Leon death is very important also for another reason - just take a closer look at how much gold does the Brotherhood have (hint: Basileia Romaion has MUCH less).