Summoning the Senate
Senators, your presence is requested for a State of the Empire Address on the Ninth of May, 1854.
Waiting for the address
The senators were gathered in their hall, waiting for the Empress to arrive and give her address.
Senator Michelangelo began the per-address discussion among the Patrikioi, “I don’t particularly like the idea of Germany being on good terms with Russia. At least Poland has expanded at their expense. The papers are overflowing with news of Imperial expansion. Truly these are the golden days of the Empire!”
Senator Alexios Damaskinos spoke to his own circle of Foiderátoi Senators, “We shouldn’t bother with German-Hungarian war, as, in my opinion, it was inspired by oppressed majority of German people in Austria, and not any kind of imperialism. I insist again on claiming Taiwan, as it may help us in future interventions considering last expansion of Ming dynasty. I suggest to consider invasion of Ceylon to support future interventions in India. We should also look closer to growing importance of Deccan in that region. Also, I again insist on breaking any relations with Poland, as this might lead us to war within our Sphere, and I must say that in my opinion, in case of Livonia-Poland war, we should give what we can to support Livonia, armies or subsidies (if we will be in another war at the same time).”
Senator Nikephoros Doukas also spoke to the Foiderátoi. “Germany’s relations with Russia are unsettling. We should be careful in dealing with them. Remember, the First Empire was destroyed by the Germans when they were uncivilized brutes—Alemanii, they called themselves at the time. They can do it again. Perhaps we can enlist the help of the Poles? If they were willing to fight Russia over Lithuanian territory, they can surely help us against any German treachery.
I fully agree with an invasion of Taiwan. We must deprive Russia of any colonies and truly take our place in the sun! Ming is growing quite strong, and is on good terms with the Koreans. They could be a useful ally against Russia in a future war.
I do not recommend an invasion of India. There are so many people there, and their cultures and traditions are so foreign from our own that integrating them into Roman society would have more costs than benefits. We should instead increase our sphere of influence in the region and build up friendly relations and trade agreements with native rulers, especially the Deccans. We can have the benefits of trade goods from India and an ally in the region, as well as an effective foothold in the subcontinent without the costs of maintenance and providing for millions of new Imperial subjects.”
“Also, the Empress would consider a diplomatic mission to China itself, I would recommend myself as ambassador. I am close friends with the Celestial Empire’s foreign minister, Lin Zexu, and am fluent in the local languages and traditions.
Senator Στήβεν Γκρέυ had been speaking with the XKM, but overhead part of the conversation and joined in. “Whilst I agree with my fellow senators with the Germany and Hungarian war, I am concerned with the Polish invasion of Russia. What is the likelihood of Poland managing to at least white peace with the Bear?
With the Indians perhaps they would better serve us as loyal puppets than us taking their land directly, at least this way we control their destiny.”
An unknown voice spoke clearly and loudly in the hall, “The Third Rome needs to punish the Second Rome!”
“Heresy,” muttered Doukas.
“Never heard of Third Rome. Is it some kind of capital of our Australian colonies?” asked Damaskinos of the senators near him.
“Russia was often called Third Rome,” claimed Senator Basileios Rellis.
Doukas took this as an opportunity to speculate, “This discussion about a hypothetical “Third” Empire—which ought to never exist, as doing so would mean that our current Empire be destroyed; it is treason to suggest a rebellion against the Empire—has got me thinking…if the Empire is Roman, why is the capital in Constantinople? We can’t have a Roman Empire without a capital in Rome.”
He paused for a moment, then frowned, “Also, how did that guy get into the Senate room? He’s not a senator! Somebody call in the Varangian Guard! The Empress is under attack!”
That done, he turned back to Rellis, “Senator Rellis, why do you refer to the Russian menace as a “Third Rome,” implying that the Slavic peoples can be as cultured and civilized as the Romans on the level that they are the successors of the Empire? By explicitly saying that Russia is the Third Rome, instead of our Empire, I get the feeling you wish to overthrow the Empress and install the Slavic Tsar as the Imperator. Such talk is treasonous, at best.
When no-one else responded after some time, and no Varangians showed, he continued, “But fellow senators, as we wait for Her Imperial Highness to give her address, what should we do about the trespassers who somehow manage to get into the Palace and speak vile heresies?”
Favero finally spoke, “Surely they should be detained and interrogated. They could be spies for Russia. The audacity of them to claim Russia to be some third Rome. There is only the Empire and no others.”
Doukas replied, “Yes, there can only be one Empire, but what Ruthenian spy would be idiotic to the point that he walks into the Senate, of all places, and foolishly proclaim that Ruthenia is the Third Rome, knowing that he would be immediately arrested? There must be something going on here, or the Ruthenians are just playing us. It could be a trap, and they distracted our attention while…”, he looked outside “…oh.”
Suddenly, an explosion ripped through the Senate’s chamber.
Michelangelo was blown clear across the room and slammed against the wall. He tried to rise to his feet, but lost his balance. Blood slowly oozed from a gash on his head. Managing only to get to his knees, Michelangelo spat out some blood between his teeth. He wiped his face with his senator’s robe as he regained his senses. “What in the name of the Empress was that? Do the Russians have artillery outside Constantinople?”
Doukas was sprawled on the floor. He was lying in a pool of blood from the senator next to him but was himself largely unharmed. “Seems to have been a bomb,” he groaned, “the Ruthenians can’t possibly have gotten artillery this close to Constantinople.” He looked over and saw that the Varangians assigned to guard the Senators were either dead or unconscious. The front door was blasted open, and the windows were broken. Doukas realized that the Empress was in grave danger. “The Empress is under attack! Save her!” He grabbed a sword from a dead Varangian just as a man in Ruthenian clothing appears in the doorway, pistol raised to fire at anyone. “You all get the Empress out of here! I’ll take care of the attackers!”
Doukas charged at the Ruthenian, who calmly fires three times while exclaiming “For Mother Russia!”
Michelangelo cowered behind a tipped-over bench as shots fired through the room. The knowledge that not only his life but the Empress’ as well were at stake spurred him into action. He quickly crawled on his hands and knees, sneaking out a side door while the terrorist was distracted. He slowly rose to his feet once outside the room and nearly toppled over from dizziness. He placed a hand against the wall to maintain his balance and started working his way through the palace. “The Empress…must find the Empress…”
Doukas ran the terrorist through with his sword just as he felt three bullets strike him in the chest and left arm. The pain was unbearable, but he knew he must do his duty for the people and Senate of Rome.
The Ruthenian spat blood in Doukas’s face and snarled, “It is too late, Greek scum! Soon Mother Russia will be the mother of all.”
Doukas nearly shouted, “Who sent you?! What are your orders? Are there others?”
The Ruthenian laughed evilly “Soon the Germanic barbarians will sack Rome again.” He then died.
The pain overwhelmed Doukas, and he collapsed to the floor. Before he lost consciousness, he heard more explosions – this time from the direction of downtown. Blachernae may have been among the targets, but he didn’t know. “God have mercy on our souls!” he whispered.
Michelangelo kept wandering through the palace, looking for anyone at all who could warn the Empress. He was in no condition to make the trip to Blachernae, but someone had to. All the hallways looked the same. In fact, maybe he’d already been down this one, judging by the blood drops on the floor. Had he gotten turned around? Michelangelo tried to clear his head, but a dizzy spell overcame him. He’d been losing too much blood.
Explosions sounded off in the distance. Was Constantinople under attack? Michelangelo had no idea. He just wanted to get out of here and get the Empress to safety. Maybe she was already safe and he was wasting his time. Regardless, he had a duty to perform, or at least the duty to get some beneath his station to fulfill the role while he tried not to succumb to his wounds.
The sound of heavy footsteps drew Michelangelo’s attention, so he rounded a corner and pushed himself up against the wall to hide. Two burly men speaking in Russian ran down the other hallway. Michelangelo remained silent as they left, but then the footsteps stopped and started drawing closer. That’s when he noticed the blood drops all over the floor. They knew he was there.
Michelangelo scurried down the empty hallway, only to run into a dead end as he rounded the corner. There were two ceremonial poleaxes mounted on the wall, so he lifted one from its bracing and steadied himself. He only had one shot. As the Russians rounded the corner, Michelangelo let out an angry yell and charged them. Before they could react, he impaled the first one on the end of his poleaxe, piercing him right through the gut. The dying man spewed out blood from his mouth and pushed himself off the weapon, only for more blood to pour from his wound. He slipped to the floor as life escaped him. The second man drew a pistol and Michelangelo dove to the floor. The bullet shattered a nearby window, which was much better than shattering Michelangelo’s head. Before the man could fire another shot, Michelangelo picked back up the poleaxe and swung it at his assailant. The blade sliced through the man’s forearm, forcing him to drop the gun. Before the Russian could draw his own blade, Michelangelo stabbed the poleaxe’s end into his neck. Blood sprayed everywhere as the man slumped to the floor. The two Russians were dead.
Michelangelo dropped the poleaxe in horror and vomited all over the palace floor. He had never killed a man before in his life. He suddenly had a much deeper appreciation for the soldiers in the Imperial Army. When was this horrid event going to end? Looking out the broken window and seeing smoke spiraling into the air didn’t give him the answer he wanted. Slumping to the floor, he took in several deep breaths. The Empress would have to wait, at least until he didn’t feel like he was dying inside. Surely even the Empress would grant him that reprieve.
Doukas saw images flashing by his eyes. He saw his childhood in Athens, his time at the Imperial University, his wedding, his son before heading off to war in the Holy Land… He thought to himself, “Seriously? A flashback of my life at this time? I don’t need to see this again, I already know this.”
His perspective changed, and he was looking down on all of Eurasia. The Empire in all of its majesty stretched from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, but to the north lay Germania and Ruthenia, the patchwork of barbarians which brought down the First Empire. Even now, centuries after the deposition of the last ruler of the First Empire, Rome was still threatened. The Germans had done what Rome couldn’t and united into one main polity. They were on friendly terms with the Empire now, but Doukas remembered what the Ruthenian had told him. To the east laid the once-mighty and isolationist Celestial Empire, or Serica as some called it. If an alliance could be secured, the Ruthenians could face a two-front war should conflict break out. Their almost unlimited manpower could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
There was the sound of disparate voices behind him, but he couldn’t turn around. Then he realized the voices were in German and Ruthenian.
He opened his eyes. Three foreign men stood in the middle of the Senate room. One of them spoke German, which Doukas was competent at.
“Too bad they’re all dead or unconscious, I would have loved to hear them scream.”
A Ruthenian replied, “Why don’t you kill them now?”
“It’s not fun.” answered the German
A second Ruthenian joined in, “Men, focus! Our forces have incapacitated the government of the Roman scum–”
The first Ruthenian interrupted him, “I hate to remind you, but the Empress holds all of the power.”
The second snapped back angrily, “Shut up! As we speak, a small force of Germans is advancing into Blachernae, and another force of Russians has seized Hagia Sophia. Soon Rome will be brought to its knees.”
The German finally spoke again, “And then they’ll blame the Tsar and the Kaiser instead of us! It’s perfect.”
“Exactly,” concluded the first Ruthenian.
Doukas couldn’t believe what he had heard. A secret conspiracy to drag the Empire to war with the Germans and Ruthenians? He silently reached over to the body of the man he had stabbed earlier and took the still-loaded gun.
The second Ruthenian was speaking, “Is everybody accounted for?”
The German answered, “We’re missing one of the senators, an Italian. I heard something in the corridors, and two of our men are missing.”
The first Ruthenian spoke again, “It must be the Artist. If he gets out of the building our plan will be foiled. Go get him!”
The German and the second Ruthenian left the room. Doukas inferred that the “Artist” was Senator Favero, apparently the only other senator to maintain consciousness. Perhaps they could still save the Empress… He accidentally knocked over some rubble.
“Who was that?!” exclaimed the one remaining Ruthenian.
With quick thinking, Doukas brought up the gun, wrapped it in his toga, and fired at the enemy. The shot was muffled, so the others couldn’t possibly have heard it. The Ruthenian keeled over dead before he could shout. Doukas got to his feet painfully. He knew he had to get out of here and reach Blachernae. So he limped out through the giant hole in the wall of the room.
The sound of another explosion made Michelangelo snap his head up. He was laying down on the floor, although he didn’t remember lying down. Hadn’t he just been sitting down to catch his breath? How much time had passed? He glanced out the window, trying to judge the time by where the sun was. He couldn’t figure out how much time had passed since he didn’t remember when the attack had begun in the first place. Damn his aging mind! Maybe he would retire after this incident and take up painting. That sounded a lot less stressful.
Michelangelo tried to get up, but slipped in a puddle of blood from the two corpses lying nearby. He nearly threw up again at the sight of them, their cold lifeless eyes staring up at the ceiling. He needed to get away from here before someone came to investigate. He went to round the corner when he heard voices arguing. They were drawing nearer, too close for him to escape the dead end in time. He went to pick up the poleaxe again, but slipped on the blood again. He got back up to his feet, only for someone to shout at him in German behind him. Why was there a German in the palace?
“Turn around slowly, you filthy Italian, and show me your hands.”
Michelangelo slowly obeyed the orders and faced the German. He had another man with him. Both were armed, their pistols aimed at him. He warily took a step back, brushing up against the window sill of the broken window. “What do you want with me?” Michelangelo asked. “You won’t get away with this attack. The Empress will have your eyes and tongues cut out for this.”
“She’ll be dealt with soon enough. Now follow me.”
Michelangelo went to follow, only to slip in the blood for a third time and fall backward. He put his hands behind him and stopped his fall by grabbing the window sill. He winced as one finger grasped some broken glass from the window.
“Watch your step, old man. Make too many sudden movements and you might not make it back to the Senate alive.” The two men laughed together. Michelangelo had a feeling he might not make it back to the Senate even if he obeyed. He needed to escape these thugs. Before he could consider the consequences of his actions, he pushed off the window sill with his hands and rolled backwards out the window. The German shot at him, but the shot missed Michelangelo’s head by a few inches. The next thing he knew, Michelangelo was falling out the window. Now that he thought about it, he had probably been on the second or third floor. He closed his eyes and hoped that the impact would either kill him immediately or spare him further pain. “Forgive me, Empress.”
Doukas heard a splash next to him. Did somebody just fall into the fountain he had helped fund last year? Then he noticed it was Senator Favero. “You! You’re alive! You won’t believe what I overheard in the Senate room. Did you find anyone else?”
There were shouts from above. Doukas looked up and saw the German and his Ruthenian accomplice looking down on them from a broken window. ”It’s him! The Duke!” the German shouted.
Doukas hoped his arm was still good enough to shoot at them. He aimed and pulled the trigger twice. “God help me.”
It was sure cold in Heaven. And wet. A bit too wet for Michelangelo’s tastes. In fact, he had trouble breathing. Wait, if he was dead, why did he need to breath?
Michelangelo’s eyes snapped open and he pushed his head up out of the fountain water, gasping for air. He’d survived, and relatively unscathed too. He vaguely heard a voice as he dragged himself out of the fountain. Two shots followed and a figure fell down into the fountain next to Michelangelo, splashing water all over him. By the way that the water was quickly turning red, he probably wasn’t getting out of that fountain.
As Michelangelo regained his sense, he realized that Senator Doukas was standing nearby. He remembered the senator asking a question as he rose from the fountain. “I haven’t seen a soul other than the Russians I ran into and that German who tried to shoot me. Oh good God, I killed them, the Russians. I had no choice.”
Michelangelo shivered involuntarily, still uncomfortable with the idea of taking another man’s life. Then he realized that there may be more of them nearby and that the Empress could be in danger. “We need to find the Empress. Her life is in danger.”
“Don’t worry, fellow Senator,” answered Senator Doukas. “You did what you had to do for the Empress, for the Senate and people of Rome. I heard that these Ruthenians…they’re not working for the government in Moscow or Berlin; they’re trying to trick us into a war against Ruthenia and Germania, one we possibly can’t win at this point without losing much. We must alert the Empress to this plot. If she hears of the attack on the Senate she will definitely push for war with the Germans and Ruthenians. That is, if she survives today, of course.”
“A ruse to lure us into war? Ingenious of them, since we would have bitten that bait with ease with all the hatred of Russia in the Empire. We must make for Blachernae at all haste before it is too late!” Before Michelangelo could say any more, a bullet whizzed past his head and struck the ground. Apparently the second man had not be dealt with like the one in the fountain. Thinking on his feet, he grabbed Senator Doukas and dragged him behind a large bush. “We need to get out of here immediately. Who knows how many of them are roaming the palace.”
“I must have missed,” replied Doukas, and then coughed up blood. “Do you know a safe way to the palace? I overheard that downtown is filled with them. We might need to call in the army to deal with them. Also, I don’t really remember how far away is the palace.” He heard voices getting nearer and nearer…
Kyriakos Angelos came to amidst the rubble in one of the corridors of the Chrysotriklinos and somewhat unsteadily picked himself up. “I say,” he said to himself in an offended tone, after noticing the fallen bodies of senators and Varangians alike, “this really is not chariot racing.”
Picking up a sword and a firearm from the fallen guards’ bodies, he began to make his way out of the palace.
Doukas shot the Ruthenian passing by the bush. The man gave a shout before falling over. “Well, that was easier than I expected, don’t you think?”
He took the Ruthenian’s ammunition and sword while also putting on the Ruthenian outfit. “Why don’t you disguise yourself as well, Favero? That way they probably won’t kill us immediately. And are you sure you couldn’t find any other senators? I may have seen movement in one of the windows.”
“It may have been more Russians,” replied Michelangelo. “I didn’t get much of a chance to see if any other senators were alive when I was forced to flee.” Michelangelo went back to the fountain and pulled out the body. He quickly put on the man’s clothes and casually walked away. The outfit was soaked, but he’d already been in the fountain before anyway. “How are we ever going to get to Blachernae in time? Who knows how many of these men there are and where they are? They could be roaming the streets for all we know.”
“They are roaming the streets. They have even occupied Hagia Sophia itself and have taken the Ecumenical Patriarch himself hostage! Which means we’re going to have to find some horses. I think the stables are in another part of the building?”
“They may have some horses stabled near the Hippodrome for chariot racing. That’s our best chance of finding some. I’d love to know how these men got into Constantinople without anyone noticing. Those responsible should be drawn and quartered for the mess they’ve caused.”
“There must have been traitors within the Senate and Varangian Guard helping them! Alright, then, let’s go to the Hippodrome.”
The two Senators started walking.
The Hippodrome was empty when they arrived, with no guards or intruders. It apparently had not been a focus of the attack, probably because there were no races planned. There weren’t even any stable boys attending to the horses when they entered the stables.
“Did everyone just run away when they heard explosions? I certainly hope they weren’t all in on the attacks,” wondered Michelangelo. He wandered past all the horses, looking for a horse that fit his taste. If he was going to ride through the city to save the Empress, he may as well do it in style. As he approached the end of the row, the stable door opened and a man stuck his head in. His features were clearly Slavic and the fact he yelled at Michelangelo in Russian confirmed that the man was an enemy. Michelangelo dove into an empty stable as the man fired his pistol. The Russian burst into the stables to pursue, but Michelangelo grabbed a shovel and swung it at the man’s face. It collided with a dull thud, softened by the manure that had been stuck to it. When the Russian didn’t topple over from the first hit, Michelangelo swatted him again in the head and brought him low. “Maybe in Russia they should focus on breeding strong minds instead of strong heads.”
Doukas took the Ruthenian’s gun and tossed it to Favero. “Take this, and I hope you’re a good shot with it.” He got on the nearest horse. “Alright, let’s go save the Empress in style!”
Michelangelo caught the gun and briefly examined it before stuffing it in his robes. He’d never wielded a firearm before, but he’d need it now. “I was always more partial towards the sword when practicing dueling. The gun was always too dangerous for sport.”
As he looked up, Michelangelo spotted a white stallion of the purest breed. That was definitely the type of horse he wanted. He hopped up on the horse and followed Doukas out of the stables and into the city. A few Russians, or maybe even Germans, took shots at them as they rushed through the gates, but the horses easily outdistanced the enemy. They were free to make their way to the Empress, that is if no one was waiting for them on the way.
Doukas thought to himself as the two senators left the stables. “Maybe we should have taken swords, just like the cavalry. But oh well, not everyone can be a Mongol, right?”
They charged straight through downtown, and peasants and merchants screamed and jumped out of the way as the two senators charged through the central market. “Make way! The Empress is in danger!”
But then Doukas remembered that the Ecumenical Patriarch is also a hostage. “Wait, we need to free the patriarch first! If they have him hostage, they have the entirety of Christianity hostage as well!”
Michelangelo slowed down his horse for a moment, considering whether or not to backtrack. The Empress or the Ecumenical Patriarch? “If we go back for him, we may be too late to save the Empress. But we can’t let him be taken either. Damn those Russians to the fires of hell! Perhaps if we split up we may be able to save them both.”
“I’ll go after the Empress, you get the Patriarch.”
Michelangelo gave a nod before turning around to race towards the Hagia Sophia. If the two of them were fast enough, they could save the two most powerful people in the Empire. He wished he could have gone to save the Empress, but Doukas seemed much more capable with a firearm than him. It would be better this way. Michelangelo only hoped that whoever was holding the Patriarch hostage could be dealt with. He wasn’t exactly the most capable of fighters.
As Michelangelo rounded a street corner, an explosion blew out the windows of a shop across the street. His horse reared up and nearly threw him off. Fortunately he was well-trained with a horse and kept his grip on the reins and saddle. A man in Russian garb ran out of an alley with a grin on his face and some sort of make-shift explosive in his hand. He tossed it into the street where people were screaming in terror and it exploded in a shower of rubble. Two bodies lay on the ground, killed by the explosion. Remembering that he had a pistol, Michelangelo pulled it from his robes and fired a shot. The Russian man collapsed to the ground, a bleeding hole in his chest. The people in the street all turned in his direction. The image of a senator in blood-stained Ruthenian clothes holding a pistol while riding a white stallion must have been an impressive sight. Michelangelo decided to use it to his advantage.
“People of Constantinople, I beseech you. We are beset by foreign spies who wish to sow discord within this most splendid of cities. They put not only your lives, but those of the Empress and Patriarch in danger. As for the latter, he has been taken hostage by these foul men. Alone I cannot save him, but together we may. Join with me to take back the jewel of the Empire and save the Patriarch from those who would do us harm.”
The street was unusually silent for a moment, but soon cheers erupted from the crowd. The people of Constantinople would follow him. They picked up whatever makeshift weapons they could find or make. One woman even offered him a sword, although he had no idea where she had come upon it. The blade felt much more comfortable in his hands than the pistol. He let a grin spread across his face as he rode off to the Hagia Sophia with a band of armed citizens.
Doukas heard an explosion behind him, but he didn’t look back, as he was getting close to Blachernae and had to watch for any Ruthenians. Just as he reached the front gates, which were blasted wide open as if by a bomb, he heard a cheer behind him. Were the peasants also on the Ruthenians’ side?
There was a shout from his right. Looking in that direction, he saw two horsemen charging straight at him, one apparently a Mongol armed with a bow and the other a Hungarian armed with a sword. “Seriously? Are we repeating the Hunnic invasions of the First Empire and the Mongol invasions during the Second Empire?”
He aimed and fired twice, and both riders toppled from their mounts.
Doukas arrived at the main door leading inside. “Here goes nothing.”
He slipped inside.
Michelangelo reached the Hagia Sophia later than he had hoped, since he had to slow down for the citizens to keep up. He knew time was of the essence, but he couldn’t save the Patriarch alone. When they reached the grand building, Michelangelo came to a halt. Guards stood outside the open doors. They didn’t notice him at first, but the sound of the approaching mob drew their attention. Not delaying any longer, Michelangelo charged at them. He closed the gap rapidly on his horse as the men drew their pistols. They both fired and Michelangelo felt a burning in his shoulder. He ignored it and drew his sword. He cut across as the first guard as he passed and swept the sword overheard as he slashed the second on the other side. The two men fell back in pain as the mob approached. Not slowing down a bit, Michelangelo lowered himself in the saddle and galloped straight into the Hagia Sophia. Several men stood within the building and scattered as he dashed through them. His horse trampled at least one of them and he got in a few blows with his sword as he passed by. Before the men could retaliate in kind, the mob burst into the building and swarmed over them. He kept on through the holy site, looking for the Patriarch.
It didn’t take long to find the Patriarch. He was being held hostage near the alter by several burly men. He guessed they were all Slavic until one of them started speaking some form of Scottish or Gaelic. Exactly who was involved in this conspiracy? As the men took note of his approach, he jumped off the horse. Speed would not aid him here.
“Release the Patriarch immediately!”
“Or what?” demanded one of the Scots.
The mob made its way into the large room and started to spread out around Michelangelo. The men holding the Patriarch hostage were noticeably nervous. Michelangelo smirked. That smirk was quickly wiped off his face as the Scot grabbed the Patriarch’s head and held a blade to his throat. It was time for some negotiations.
Before Michelangelo could utter a word, a shot rang through the air. The Scot collapsed to the ground, releasing the knife. Everyone looked around stunned. Before the enemy could react and harm the Patriarch, Michelangelo let out a battle cry and charged with his sword held high. The mob followed. The enemy stood no chance. They tried to flee, but were run down by the citizens of Constantinople. Michelangelo let them release their anger while he approached the Patriarch. “Are you hurt, your holiness?”
“I am fine, Senator Favero,” replied the Patriarch. “God has seen it fit to spare me this day and punish these heretics. But what of the Empress? Is she safe?”
“Senator Doukas has gone after her. I am certain he will keep her from harm. For now, let us get you to safety before more intruders arrive.”
Michelangelo went to guide the Patriarch out of the building when he lost his step and fell to his knees. He tried to rise but a dizzy spell overtook him.
“Senator, you are hurt!”
Michelangelo finally noticed the wound in his shoulder. The bullet had gone straight through and his outfit was soaked with blood. So that was what that pain was from before. He tried to regain his feet again and collapsed to the ground. The Patriarch and several citizens gathered around him to help. He slowly slipped from consciousness, content that he had at least done his duty and saved the Patriarch in time.
Doukas advanced through the halls of the Imperial Palace. Servants and Varangians were strewn all over the floor, and the blood had stained the priceless Anatolian carpets. On the walls were portraits of former Emperors and Empresses, and Doukas felt unworthy to be looking directly at them.
A large man rounded the corner in front of him. Before he could react, Doukas drew a dagger and stabbed him, muffling his screams for help. Moving along, he arrived at what appeared to be the Empress’s private quarters. They were empty, but there was a trail of blood leading out from the doors to another part of the palace.
Doukas felt sick to be looking at imperial blood being spilled so callously. But he must look and follow the trail. He slowly stepped through the deserted palace, the blood trail leading him towards one of the old pagan temples which had been refurbished as part of the palace. As he got closer and closer to the temple, he heard an ominous chanting in some language that was not quite Ruthenian. He rounded a corner, and the temple came into full view. He was on a balcony, overseeing the horrifying rites going on below.
There were at least a dozen men gathered below in front of a Ruthenian in pagan robes. As he watched, the Ruthenian priest carried a wooden sculpture of Christ on the cross and dropped it into a bonfire. Behind him, strapped to an altar, were the Empress and her husband, the Prince-Consort, themselves. “Praise be to the Black God, Chernobog, who smiles upon us as we offer Him this offering to feast upon.”
“Seriously?” Doukas thought. “First a conspiracy to drag Ruthenia and the Empire to war, and now a conspiracy of pagan cannibal Ruthenians? I must be going mad.”
The Prince-Consort’s voice came through the chanting, “God will have you burn in hell for eternity, heathen!”
“Oh, but it is you who is mistaken,” said the priest with a laugh. “Your god has abandoned you to our clutches. Chernobog is victorious! Soon, war will break out, and He will feast upon all of the souls taken in the fighting. But first, both of you will be His first meal.”
“Not if I can help it,” exclaimed Doukas.
Everyone looks up and saw him.
The priest spoke again, “Ah, the Duke who is not actually a duke. We meet at last. I am Iosef Ignatieff, servant of Chernobog, and you really expect me to tell you my evil plan at this moment?”
“No. I already know your plan.” He emptied his guns into the procession below, each bullet sending a cultist to Hell for eternity. Finally, he was out of bullets, and the High Priest was still alive. Doukas walked downstairs, took his dagger, and ran the pagan through. “The name’s Nikephoros Doukas. Not just ‘the Duke,’ but the bringer of Victory as well. Senatus Populesque Romanus.”
With that Ignatieff departed to hell with the rest of the cultists. As Doukas set to work freeing the unconscious Empress and her conscious but badly wounded husband from the altar, he wondered if Favero had saved the Patriarch.
The Prince-Consort pointed at Doukas’s chest. “You’re bleeding.”
Doukas looked down. He had forgotten about his wounds from earlier. He collapsed on the altar and blacked out.
Back near the senate hall, a freshly awakened Konstantinos Galatias beheaded a Ruthenian with one swipe of his family sword. He muttered several curses in French.
In the city of Riga, Alexios Damaskinos went to his apartment. He finally had time to rest after many conversations with Livonian Order’s representatives and diplomats. He was admiring views of Riga. “It is indeed beautiful city. I’m curious if my fellow senators are having as tough day as I am.”
Doukas, for the first time in his life, felt completely at peace. He knew he had done his duty and saved the Empire from destruction. He hoped Favero had also been successful. He couldn’t feel the rest of his body, but his mind was free to roam around. He saw a world where he was born as a knight in one of the Oriental kingdoms, named Sakamoto. In that world, there was no Roman Empire. The true rulers of the world were the Anglo-Saxon barbarians, horrifyingly.
He saw images of what may be. Mankind making larger and larger leaps in technology, exploring the unknown parts of the world, discovering secrets that only God should have known. Wars growing even more deadly and widespread. Mankind taking its deadly violence to the skies, raining fire and brimstone upon millions of innocents…the Empire could not hope to survive in this deadly age with such a mindset. They had to adapt, to prepare…
In the East, two empires emerged to shake the world. The Celestial Empire and the Land of the Rising Sun, tipping the balance of power, would either challenge the Empire or join forces with it, ushering in either an age of war or peace.
He wondered when he was going to wake.
During the time of the terrorist strike on the Senate, Septiadis was sitting the farthest away from the explosion. While he got hit by flying debris, he was largely unscathed. He ran for cover as soon as he could. In his many years of travel, he had learned many things from many people. This included many forms swordsmanship. He grabbed a sword from one of the dead Varangians and started hiding in the debris. He killed a few terrorists before overhearing a conversation between two of them, mentioning a conspiracy that would lead to war. He recalled hearing of a multicultural neo-paganist terrorist group a few months back, but he had dismissed it as a silly rumor.
Eventually, he made his way outside, seeing some other senators. He was relieved that the other senators were alive. He saw Senators Doukas and Favero running into the city. He realized that practically no one was helping the unconscious senators beneath the debris and decided to help them instead. By the time he finished helping the remaining senators up, everything was already over. He wondered where the other awake senators were.
Doukas awoke in one of the undamaged rooms of the palace which had been conveyed into a makeshift hospital. He found that his wounds had been bandaged and hardly hurt. The improved scientific technology really had paid off.
He asked one of the doctors, “What of the Empress? Is she okay?”
The doctor told him that Her Majesty was being treated in another part of the palace, surrounded by a detachment of heavily armed surviving Varangians. Doukas sighed. At least she was safe.
He got up and left the palace, as he was no longer seriously injured. He found his horse grazing on the lawn outside and rode to the Hagia Sophia. He found the Patriarch safe and surrounded by a crowd of civilians.
“Where is Senator Favero?” he asked the Patriarch
“He’s safe and alive, but it’ll take some time for him to recover,” was the answer.
With that, Doukas headed off for the Senate building. He was sure that some senators had woken up. He had to tell them what had happened.
Michelangelo awoke on a cot in a candlelit room. The sound of chanting could be heard nearby, a prayer to God most likely. He went to get up, but groaned as pain spiked in his shoulder. A nun shuffled into the room and gently pushed him back down on the cot. “You are still injured, Senator. Your wound may be infected and you’re already running a fever. You must rest.”
The nun wiped his forehead with a damp cloth, making Michelangelo realize just how warm he was. Sweat poured from his skin and he felt as though he was on fire. She pulled out a vial of what he assumed was medicine and carefully poured it between his lips. It was bitter, but what medicine wasn’t. He reluctantly gulped it down. Then he remembered the circumstances that had brought him to this points. “The Empress, has she been harmed? And what of the Patriarch? Is the attack over?”
The nun smiled down at him. “I have been told that they will both be fine. Now rest.”
Michelangelo stretched out on the cot to get comfortable, letting his eyes slowly close. He felt unusually drowsy and soon sleep overcame him. He didn’t notice the shine of metal sticking out from between the nun’s robe as she left the room, a mischievous look on her face.
Doukas heard a scream behind him. It was the Patriarch. Something was happening at the Hagia Sophia. He turned around and rode back into the church, only to find dozens of civilians incapacitated and a nun holding a knife to the Patriarch’s throat. Blood trickled down from a gash in his shoulder, which the nun lapped up happily.
Doukas sighed. “Here we go again…”
He raised his gun and pulled the trigger.
He noticed movement behind him. He dodged the knife blow from the cultist sneaking up behind him, seeing something glint on the blade as it passed him. Poison.
Doukas tackled the cultist, knocking the blade out of the cultist’s hand. With his foot he kicked a nearby sword into his hand and stabbed the cultist.
“Stop! Or your Patriarch will be fed to Chernobog!” screamed the nun.
“If only he still had some ammunition,” thought Doukas.
In another part of the church, there was chanting in that same not quite Ruthenian language. A group of cultists filed into the main atrium, dragging the body of senator Favero towards an altar they had constructed around the Patriarch’s chair and a large mound of paintings and idols to Christ.
“Who will you save, Duke?” The nun smiled. “The Artist or the Patriarch?”
With that they tied both the Patriarch and Favero to the altar and set the whole thing on fire. The cultists drew knives and advanced as one menacingly on Doukas. He was surrounded. There was no escape.
Michelangelo slowly returned to consciousness. He felt incredibly warm. His fever must have been getting worse. As he opened his eyes, he realized it wasn’t the fever. Flames licked around him and were starting to singe his robes. Behind him he could hear the screams of another man. He tried to turn his head, but it flopped to the side uselessly. Had he been drugged? He could make out a group of people across the room wearing strange clothing. Cultists, perhaps? He had no idea what they were doing here or what was going on. The fire was slowly burning closer to him. He needed to get away from the flames.
Michelangelo tried to move, but found himself bound down. He could just barely shift his body with ropes binding him to the altar behind him. He wiggled back and forth to try to loosen the ropes, but to no avail. Something fell out of his pocket and onto the floor. Flopping his head forward, he could make out the shape of a gun by his feet. It must have been the pistol Doukas had given him earlier. He tried to nudge it closer with his foot, but accidentally kicked it into the flames in his drugged stupor. Well that didn’t go as planned.
A loud bang sounded near Michelangelo and one cultist attacking Doukas dropped over dead. The flames must have heated up the gunpowder and fired the gun. Well that was the best help he could provide. The flames licked at his skin now and the altar was now burning behind him. He hissed in pain as his skin was scorched by the hot flames. Just when he thought it unbearable, the rope snapped after being burned through by the fire and he fell forward onto the floor. Michelangelo flopped out of the flames and rolled away from the altar. He was no longer in danger of burning, but he was still too drugged to get to his feet and help. All he could do was watch the Patriarch stumble away from the altar and run out a side door in terror. Well at least he was safe if somewhat of a coward.
Doukas heard a bang from the altar, and one of the cultists in front of him screamed and dropped on the floor, dead. As all of the cultists turned to see Favero and the Patriarch break free of their bindings, with the Patriarch running out of the room and Favero collapsing on the floor in a drugged stupor, Doukas lashed out with his sword, cutting down at least five of the cultists before he was restrained by the rest.
Surprisingly, they didn’t kill them immediately. A man in the robes of the High Priest of Chernobog entered the room, and the cultists bowed to him.
“Ah, the Artist who is not an artist and the Duke who is not a duke,”said Iosef Ignatieff, “It is nice to see you again.”
“Iosef Ignatieff!” exclaimed Doukas.“I killed you myself back at Blachernae!”
Ignatieff smiled.“Chernobog works in mysterious ways. I am his chosen one, his champion!”
He strolled over to the bonfire, where priceless relics dating back from the days of the Great Schism and the Iconoclast Controversy were burning and melting.
“You hate this, don’t you?”Ignatieff smiled.“Once word gets out about this, everyone will hate Mother Russia and Germania. Then, only then, will Chernobog be pleased by the sacrifices made to Him in the ensuing war!”
“Yada, yada, yada,” Doukas said, “Yeah, I heard this before. Why don’t we skip the boasting and trash talking and get to the part where you explain your evil plan? Oh wait, you already did so!”
“I am getting sick of your talk, boy,” Ignatieff said. To his cultists, he ordered,“Kill them!”
The pagans resumed advancing on Doukas. Looking around, he saw Favero stirring ever so slightly, but nobody paid attention to him, thinking he was dead already of his burns.
Ignatieff raised his arms skyward let out a large, diabolical laugh that could only have been given to him by Satan or whatever god he served.“WAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Nobody can stop us now! Praise the Black God! The Cult of the Black Hand is victorious!”
At that moment, the doors of the church burst open, and with a fanfare of trumpets, gunfire—from military rifles used by the Imperial Army, not the pistols the Ruthenians carried—rang out throughout the room. Cultists screamed as they were cut down by the relentless volley and sent to eternal torment.
“Get down!”shouted an Imperial soldier.
A second salvo rang out, and the bullets struck the nun and what cultists were stupid enough to remain standing and not run away.
There was the sound of hoof beats, and Doukas turned to see the Athenian Lancers, the renowned light cavalry brigade, charge into the room, blaring their bugles and drawing their sabers, cutting down cultists with every strike.
Ignatieff’s smile turned to shock. He glared at Doukas.“This isn’t over yet, House Doukas. The Cult is patient, and it will return to exact vengeance! Chernobog isn’t finished with any of you just yet!”
With that he disappeared into the shadows as quickly as he had arrived, the surviving cultists following him as quickly as they could.
It was over. It was finally over, Doukas thought. He felt relieved that the nightmare was finally over. Hopefully there would be no more attacks.
One of the cavalry officers dismounted and approached him. Doukas’s eyes widened as he recognized his own son, Alexios, whom he had not seen in years. He was in a colonel’s uniform and wore a couple medals—was that the Nike Medal, Order of the Empire, and the Veronica Cross? What had he done in the Holy Land in the name of the Empire?
“Is that you?” Doukas asked.
“Yes, father, it is me, Alexios,” replied the lancer officer, “After the bombing of the Senate this morning, General Savopoulos received a rushed order from Blachernae for partial mobilization of all troops around the capital before communications were cut off. With the Varangian Guard out of the picture, the Athenian Lancers were the only brigade in the area fully prepared for battle at the time—we were here for training—so they sent us into the city to root out any suspects. You should have seen the battle downtown!”
Doukas hugged his son and cried. He couldn’t take any more of this.“Thank you so much, son. You saved us all.”
“No, father, you did. You saved the Empress herself, for crying out loud! Her Majesty is safe from the clutches of the cannibals and heathens thanks to you. God knows what would have happened if you had decided to accept that job offer at the University of Constantinople instead of the appointment to the Senate.”
Some soldiers brought in water and put out the bonfire, saving most of the relics, while others helped Favero to his feet and put him on a horse.
“We’re heading to the Senate now, you might want to come with us, as it’s safer traveling with us, Father. The Cult has you two—and your families, by extension—as targets. They’re going to seek vengeance at all costs, for whatever reason. Only God knows why the Doukoi and Favero families are so important.”
May 10, 1854
A pale but imperious Veronica prepares to address the Senate in an appropriate hall in Blachernae, as the Imperial complex is damaged and in need of refurbishment.
Yesterday was a dramatic and terrible day. Thankfully the Senate proved that they are the men I had thought them to be, and the loss of life was less than one would have thought. Senators Doukas’ and Favero’s efforts in particular stood out. Thanks to them, the terrorists were held at bay until the Scholai Palatinae could arrive.
Senators Doukas and Favero are henceforth elevated to the aristocratic rank, and will be given lands according to their new station. When they are recovered, they will also be placed as governors within Greece and Italy.
To replenish the now-thinned ranks of senators, We ask that the Kyriarchía faction among the Senators train new senatorial candidates in proper etiquette for the Senate.
Finally, if there are no objections, the Scholai Palatinae will add a guard regiment that will be stationed in the Blachernae palace complex.
 (( I’m editing in the ‘Harassment’ political party reform. We’ll assume the other parties quickly organize and attempt to draw new Senators into their sphere. ))
This message to Blachernae was delivered by Colonel Alexios Doukas, son of Doux Nikephoros Doukas and Commander of the Athenian Lancers:
Your Highness, I accept your gracious offer. I will serve you loyally as both doux and governor of Thema Graecia.
To my fellow senators:
So I guess all of that is over now. Her Majesty is safe, His Holiness is safe, the Empire is safe…for now. We cannot forget the terrible things that happened on May 9, which for the sake of the records I shall refer to as 5/9. We must move forward together. If there’s anything that the perpetrators of 5/9 have taught us, it is that we are easily driven to war. Had some of us not discovered the machinations of the Cult of the Black Hand working behind the Ruthenian terrorists, we would have played right into their hands and sent the legions into Germania and Ruthenia, sacrificing millions of innocents to their Black God, Chernobog they called him. Let us remind them that we are Romans, and we serve the Empire with honor and rationality. Let us remind them that we are the civilized ones. Let us remind them that before we decide on any course of action, we weigh the benefits and costs first, whether within the Senate or the court at Blachernae. For we are the Roman Empire, and unlike the Old Empire we will not fall and submit to Germanic and Slavic barbarians! They will submit to us, as we are the center of Western civilization! Let it be known that we hold our heads high! We shall not give in to the bloody demands of terrorists or cultists! Long live the Empress! May the Empire last ten thousand years!
PS: I strongly urge my fellow senators in the Foederatoi Party to recruit new senators sympathetic to our cause; we are going to need them moving forward. Check their backgrounds and make sure none have criminal backgrounds. I’d recommend setting up civil service exams in each town in order to make the best use of Roman talent.
~Doux Nikephoros Doukas, Governor of Greece, from his villa in Athens, May 10, in the year of our Lord 1854
Mikael Moustakas rushes back to Constantinople
“By Christ, what has happened here? Those perfidious Russians!”
Your Majesty, you are most gracious. I humbly accept the gifts you grant me for my undying service to you. I will carry out all the responsibilities of my new rank and position with great honour and wisdom. Italy will prosper under my guidance.
– Duke Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
Alexios responds to Mikael on behalf of Nikephoros:
Honored Senator, this may sound like the words of a madman, but it is the truth, as I was there to see the end of it. A cult of pagan cannibals, which my father told me was that of the Black Hand, attacked the capital city yesterday, targeting Blachernae, the Senate Palace, and Hagia Sophia, killing numerous senators and taking the Empress and the Ecumenical Patriarch hostage, with the aim of sacrificing both to their heathen god and in doing so provoking the Empire to war with the Germans and Ruthenians so that the casualties would please their god. Due to the intervention of my father and Senator Favero, both the Empress and the Patriarch are safe, and the plot has been foiled. As we speak, the Scholai Palatinae is launching an investigation into how such a cult could have penetrated the Empire all the way to Blachernae. I hope you understand what we have been through.
~Alexios Doukas, Commander in the Athenian Lancers
Senator Γκρέυ, walks in after weeks of touring the best brothels the Empire has to offer.
Γκρέυ: It is flithy in here and the city is in ruins, I go away for a few weeks R&R and this happens. The Kyriarchía should be banned as a party for this failure!
Kyriakos Angelos, who was present during the attack, openly laughs at Stephen’s comments. “I knew liberalism was a mental disease, but clearly the natives ofIrlandiado not even have the saving grace of a proper Hellenic upbringing. Such is the curse of the immigrants and the lower classes, I see.”
Alexios sighs. He whispers something in the ear of the Athenian Lancer soldier next to him, who promptly leaves the room.
You are correct in that the Hibernians do not have the proper Hellenic upbringing. However, they can become proper Romans given enough education (or re-education, for that matter) and time. The other Senator is not inherently corrupted–he was corrupted by theimmoral businesessof the capital. Wickedness must be stamped out.
Immigrants give us fresh minds, new ideas, for continued inovation, so that the Empire can adapt in these changing times. And the lower classes…remember to keep them happy, or they will rebel and upset the natural order of things.
But enough of this talk of petty matters. I was sent here to discuss more serious issues, such as 5/9. I’ll make this as blunt and straightforward as possible:
There are traitors within the Senate.
Of course, you’re all thinking, “Preposterous. Traitors? In my Senate?!” But that is the truth. How else could the cult have penetrated into the Senate and planted the bomb? Remember that the whole incident began when a Ruthenian agent walked into the middle of the Senate and declared that Russia was the Third Rome (clearly not the case). How could they have gotten past the dozens of heavily armed Varangians and Scholai Palatinae forces without raising the alarm? And how could the bomb have been so deadly to senators and Varangians alike? There had to have been somebody working with them.
I bet they’re right here right now, listening to us as we speak.
The idea that the Ruthenian agent from earlier was brought into the Senate thanks to a traitor frightened Senator Septiadis.
“If what you say is true, surely we should have the entire building, nay, the entire city searched! If there is such a traitor, or a group of traitors, running amok among our ranks, we should stop them posthaste!”, Septiadis said.
For an attack of such magnitude to occur without warning in the heart of the Empire would require some inside assistance. Whether or not that inside assistance is a senator or two is yet to be determined. I think it would be best if all senators remain in Constantinople for a time until any possible traitors can be found. Perhaps we should start with those who were involved in the “Third Rome” incident.
– Duke Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
That would be most wise. However, my father is in Athens right now, so that may complicate things a little bit. As for the rest of us, I have ordered the Athenian Lancers to guard the Senate room and watch for any suspicious activities.
Well I think it is safe to assume that your father is not involved in conspiracy after saving the Empress’ life. It may be prudent to recall him to Constantinople though, as well as any senators not in the city. Their absence during the attack is suspicious enough.
– Duke Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
My father is in Athens to recover; he is in no shape to travel back to the capital. Do not worry, the Doukas family villa is heavily guarded by loyal soldiers.
I do agree that the senators who were not present at the time of the attack seem suspicious. After all, they suffered the least.
Let Us tell you of the wars of the past few years.
Heeding the Senate’s desire for expansion in the Far East, and noting the difficulties the Empire’s factories were having in procuring dye, We set some agents to work on Sulawesi, where they documented the local population’s desire to be a part of the Empire instead of part of Hedjaz. When the agents’ efforts came to world attention, this was viewed negatively.
While this was under way, Poland requested Our help in reclaiming lands of theirs that were occupied by Bavaria. Not only seeking to keep an ally, but also seeing a chance to weaken Bavaria, We agreed.
XXVII. Legio moved into the Alps to block Bavarian incursion, while XXIII. Legio moved through German lands to strike the Bavarian east. When Thuringia agreed to help Bavaria, X. Legio moved to occupy their small territory.
XXVII. Legio was never able to force a battle, but they frightened several Bavarian forces away from occupying alpine territories. XXIII. Legio captured Brno. X. Legio completed occupied Thuringia and scattered their miniscule army. This was enough for Bavaria to agree to the Polish claims.
The attack on Hedjaz was slightly delayed as the upgrades of the border fortifications had been using up the supply of artillery, leaving the legions under-supplied. But provisions were redistributed, and the legions were ready in August of 1849.
It was October 1850 before the legions were recovered and in position.
But in September of that year, the UTA had declared war on the Empire of Mexico, as they now claimed that the central part of North America from ocean to ocean was theirs by right. We could not abandon our ally, even though this also brought us into wars with Biru, Colombia, and New England.
XV. Legio marched along the Colombian coast, pacifying the lands it marched through. Though it did not capture much before beginning to repel Colombian armies from both Imperial territory and captured territory. Once defeating the entirety of the Colombian armies, they again moved along the coast, and then marched inland towards the Colombian capital of Bogota. Eventually, in November of 1851 Colombia agreed to a simple peace with no concessions.
XII. Legio had set sail towards Biru’s capital. In their eagerness to fight, they convinced Admiral Theodoros Mavrocordatos to sail at top speed, leaving the western fleet behind. At the Antofagasta coast, they were intercepted by the Biruvian navy. Fortunately Biru’s ships were, if not yet obsolete, badly out of date and our transport fleet was able to withdraw in good order with the loss of only one ship. Even better, that ship was carrying supplies and not soldiers. Unfortunately, the nearest port was the Falklands, so XII. Legio would not soon be attacking Biru.
In that time, IX. Legio had arrived in Texas to begin repelling Mexican armies. After it did so, it began occupying Mexican territory. They spent the rest of the war doing so. Once nearly all of central Mexico was occupied, they returned to Lisboa.
By October 1851, a new ship had been built, and XII. Legio again struck at Biru. This time the West Fleet was keeping the Biruvian fleet in their port. XII. Legio proceeded to occupy much of Biru, additionally driving their fleet from their port into the guns of the West Fleet. But the stubborn Biruvians did not agree to peace until July of 1852.
XII. Legio had been shipped north to Oregon, where they defeated one of the last Mexican armies and then moved to free American towns from Mexican occupation. Once this was complete, they headed home to Tangier.
XXIII. Legio moved against Hungary when they decided to help Russia. I. Legio moved against Persia when they did the same. Both X. Legio and XVII. Legio moved to defeat Hungarian armies in western Germany.
XXIV. Legio was then intercepted at Kursk on their march to Moscow. They won the ensuing battle, but need to turn back in order to recuperate. When they were attacked again as they withdrew, they were routed and forced back to Moldavia.
However the Mexican-American war still went on, as We waited for the Americans to declare enough terms to give Mexico a harsh peace.
After an intermission, We shall tell you of domestic affairs during this time.
Praise be the mighty legions of Rome! No country can hope to stop us.
The Russians got what they deserved for their attack in our capital. If only we could have burnt Moscow to the ground!
Perhaps we should consider working with Bavaria to contain German ambitions. Germany could prove to be a deadly foe in the future.
-Senator Mikael Moustakas
Well, the cult failed in their plan to incite war with the Ruthenians, but I guess was against the Slavic barbarians was inevitable anyways, given the geopolitical situation of Poland. Luckily this war wasn’t that bloody.
In other matters, the Doukoi fully support the war in the Americas. May the legions carry the Empire to victory!
I shall be heading off to the front if the war will not end in the next month, so my father will be returning, perhaps as soon as the next session. He’s recovered enough and would like to help root out the traitors within our ranks…
Speaking of war in the Americas, should we continue to eternally support the United Tribes in their desire to subdue the American continent?
-Senator Mikael Moustakas
Yes, until they fix the borders that have been giving me and the cartographers heart attacks.
I do so enjoy seeing the Russians suffer. Seeing them lose that pocket on the Baltic just brightens my day. To the glory of the Empire!
– Duke Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
Successful repelling of Russian threat to Europe is once again great news. Although I am concerned about our interventions in Americas. It seems like the burden of UTA’s expansionism rests on our shoulders. Alliance should be beneficial for both sides and I can’t see any benefit for us in this agreement, thus I suggest ending it, or at least being more passive in America’s wars. Let them bleed in their petty wars if they want, but we shouldn’t support creation of so called Great Power on the American continent, as after defeating Mexicans, UTA can turn against us in the future. I suggest maintaining the balance of power in Americas by more passive military actions in the region.
– Senator Alexios Damaskinos
If the United Tribes manage to achieve the status of a “Great Power,” they will most certainly abandon their alliance with us. Perhaps we can play them off against Kanata to prevent this from happening?
Who would have ever thought the Russian could win a battle at Kursk, seems like the Emperess is allowing her advisors to siphon funds to line their own pockets.
Given our legions dominance on all other fronts I demand an investigation into this regions Katepanō and Stratēgos, I believe Senator Damaskinos’ kin are invovled and his attempt to place issue on our continual alliance with the UTA is a disgusting attempt to dirty the name of a loyal and valuable ally.
Take that back!
Senator, give me one reason why we should continually back the tribes till the end of time? And how are they a valuable and loyal ally when they have never helped us?
Senator Στήβεν Γκρέυ, that’s just empty words, give us evidence of their loyalty.
My words are substantiated. That’s not the first war in which UTA is using our military strenght to achieve it’s goals. We don’t even have common enemy. Our withdrawal from Americas meant that we are no longer interested in the affairs of these continents, or at most we should be interested in achieving Balance of Power in Americas.
What do you, senator, have to back your words? Name one war in which Empire’s interests were threatened and in which UTA came to help us. Prove me wrong and I’ll consider changing my mind.
– Senator Alexios Damaskinos
Let Us open this part of the address by speaking of technology and learning.
The previous research into the State and Government paid yet more dividends, as we developed yet more means of controlling different groups. Most importantly, We learned to inspire colonists to move to more difficult lands.
As you no doubt noticed on the updated map, with this new found colonial enthusiasm, We were able to establish colonies in the Egyptian desert, on South Georgia Island, in North Angola, in South Angola, on Christmas Island, on Cocos Island, and in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Near the end of 1849, Our improved railroad designs were ready for full-scale production. Between both Our investment and capitalist investment, these improved railroads are being built in every possible location in the Empire, including much hilly terrain that was formerly impassible to railroads.
After the war against Hedjaz, We commanded the navy to learn to better estimate what supplies they would need. They took advantage of the statistical mathematics being developed at the University of Constantinople, applying them to more than just the supply situation.
Not only did this enable the navy to reach further, but they better understood how to strike at the enemy, both at a tactical and a strategic level. Furthermore, the navy began adding plans for night attacks to their repertoire.
Sadly, the rifles were not yet ready for the disastrous battle of Kursk. Nearly a year later, they were finally deployed.
On the societal side, the Empire faced a dangerous escaped convict, militant clergymen, blighted crops, nationalist martyrs, investigative reporters, ‘disloyal regiments’, money laundering banks, and requests for prison reform.
Finally, in more personal news, We bore Our seventh and eighth children. Surely God is bringing restoration to the Doukas family.
I propose we eliminate these investigative reporters, disloyal regiments, and money laundering banks.
Congratulations, Basilissa, for another pair of lovely children. The Lord shies his favor upon you.
This issue regarding a disloyal regiment is particularly disturbing after the incident we experienced here in Constantinople. Perhaps an investigation should be conducted of the armed forces to determine where the loyalty of each regiments lies. Speaking of that, has any evidence been found that may reveal who was the spy within Constantinople or even within the Senate? I would hate to think that whoever is guilty of such a crime is still loose and able to potentially harm others or even Your Majesty.
My most sincere blessings upon your newborn children. May they live long and prosperous lives.
– Duke Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
Nikephoros is escorted into the Senate, propped up by two members of the Athenian Lancers.
Ah, it’s so nice to see you all again. Your Imperial Highness, I hope you are doing well after the events of 5/9 and giving birth. I have quite a few things that I would like to discuss.
He motions to Alexios, who leaves the room.
While we’re waiting for my son to return, I would like to talk about the issue with the Imperial prison system. First and foremost, we need reform. I believe that some of the people we have incarcerated can be rehabilitated, and we need to make sure those people don’t end up like those sentenced to execution.
Second, the blight. How did we allow this to happen? The peasants were starving to death by the thousands! I did my best to remedy the problem in Greece, but the government needs to really care for the common people! Think about it…less people, less taxes, less subjects! It’s that simple!
Alexios returns, leading a man in chains behind him.
Ah, right on schedule. Senators, this man you see before you was Senator Antonios Tsoukalos, a man who sat among us the session before the dreadful attack. He was Senator Antonios Tsoukalos, because now he is not. He is a member of the Cult of the Black Hand, one who partook in their gruesome displays of cannibalism and satanic rituals! He forsook his god, his all-caring god, in favor of this demonic bloodthirsty heathen spirit! Now, Dmitri “The Sword of Baba Yaga,” this traitor, has been shamelessly feeding the Cult information on all of us–our families, ages, properties, backgrounds, cultures, and even political standing! This man is the reason the Cult managed to pentrated deep into the capital! However, we have him in our clutches, and although there are possibly still more traitors lurking in our midst, we can make an example of this man. How shall we deal with him?
But first, I have other news for you.
The Cult is at it again.
Yes, you may argue “Where’s your evidence,” but I feel the evidence just provided is enough. How else did criminals, convicted killers, escape our maximum security prison? In Lyon, New Guinea, and Tlemcen, there have been reports of people trying to incite the local populations against our rule. It has to be the Cult, sowing discontent among the people, or maybe I’m getting old and paranoid. How else could preachers and farmer banks be so influential? The incident in New Guinea will only be the first of such cases, unless we root out the disloyal elements within the military. This being said, I recommend to Your Imperial Highness that we spend more money on improving the administration and the education system, in order to make our bureaucracy more efficient and our people more assimilated in Roman society.
Also, we should direct the University to begin researching the concept of Nationalism and Imperialism, because I feel we are going to need it in the near future.
That’s all I have to say. Does anyone have any questions as to what I said? I will be more than happy to clarify on my points.
~Doux Nikephoros of Thema Graecia
A traitor revealed at last! Senator Antonios Tsoukalos must be punished, but first we must extract all information we can from him about this cult of his. If he is unwilling to give us such information, he should be executed. Someone must be punished for all the bloodshed that cult caused.
What you suggest, Doux Doukas, is most disturbing. If indeed this cult is behind all those events, it suggests that they not only have a large following, but also have agents in even the farthest corners of the Empire. I fear for the Empire in the coming days.
– Duke Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
Your Most Imperial Magnifinence, blessing on your House and your most Revered Personage! You are truly an inspiration to the thousands of loyal citizens and millions of subjects.
Senator Moustakas once again rears his head as one of the triumvirate of corrupt and greedy senators imposing their will over the Kyriarchía and Foiderátoi parties, of course he wants the suppression of newspapers, when those same newspapers expose the degenerate world in which he and his ilk bring this house to its kneew. Surely despite their protests we see now how the leading parties use women, wine and gold to bribe those around them to follow in their corrupt footsteps. Not since Marcus Licinius Crassus has the Empire or the Republic of its birth been so abused by the wealth and power accumulated by so few!
I believe we must begin to bring about regulations to the banking sector, this sector is dominated by this unholy Triumvirate, Duke Favero, Seantors Moustakas and Damaskinos! We must research and allow Business Banks that will be regulated and separate entities so that the ordinary merchants can develop their businesses without the usurious rates charged by this cabal of evil!
Now we have another Foiderátoi party member arresting Senators without trial, yet asking for mercy for others! Doux Nikephoros claims to have the interests of the Empire at heart, the Empire, really? Again fools and crooks trying to sway your Imperial Majesty. The sooner you appoint the XKM to power the sooner we can begin to dismantle this system of cronyism and kickbacks that have lead to these blights, criminals and scandals.
I am afraid I must put forward a vote of no confidence our current leaders.
Senator Στήβεν Γκρέυ
I do not appreciate being referred to as a member of a “cabal of evil”, Senator Στήβεν Γκρέυ. My home of Venice has always been a city of wealth and merchants. Just because my family has resorted to successful business practices for generations does not mean that I some satanic figure bent on the destitution of the common merchant.
And what is this vote nonsense? The Empress’s word is law. We, as senators, are merely here to guide Her Highness. If she deems the words of a certain party more important than the rest, then so be it.
– Duke Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero
Take that back now!
I do have evidence that Senator Tsoukalos here belongs to the Cult. When the Scholai Palatinae “inspected” his house on the grounds of suspicious activity in the weeks and days leading up to the attack (including swearing in Russian, becoming incredibly secretive, and checking out books on the Ruthenian pagan pantheon and associated rituals from the University), they found numerous satanic imagery, incantations written in blood in Old Ruthenian, and, most importantly, an altar much like the ones found in Blachernae and Hagia Sofia, which was stained with fresh blood. Further investigations revealed a dismembered body with the heart removed buried under the floorboards (the heart was found partially eaten next to the altar). In addition to all of this class condemning evidence, the man himself confessed to aiding the Cult and directly communicating with the Cult leader! Now, I agree we must put him on trial, as is the civilized way, but is this evidence not enough to condemn him to death? Senator Στήβεν Γκρέυ, I have the relevant files with me right now. Read them and reconsider your words.
Your Imperial Highness, I truly do serve the Empire above all else, despite what others say. Do you not remember how during the attacks, I saved your life and fought the cult’s leader? If I was but a simple crook, would I care for your life? Would I even consider saving you?
The Cult is dividing us, driving is apart, exploiting out fears, rivalries, weaknesses. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
To respond to the previous messages to Blachernae, before the recent madness:
Senator Favero, as far as We can determine, there is no great love between Germany and Russia. We believe that a reporter for the newspapers mistook a minor diplomatic mission as meaning more than it did.
Senator Damaskinos, Doukas and Γκρέυ , We will continue to look to the east, both China and India, in the future. Not war, necessarily, but perhaps a continuing extension of so-called ‘soft power’? As you suggest. Though if need be, war is also a tool to use. But We would prefer stripping Iraq, Hedjaz, and Persia of their colonies for now.
And to respond to the comments during the address:
Several Senators are concerned at the level of support We give our allies in the Americas and Germany, and even suggest trying to turn on them. We are hopeful that they will be able to support themselves soon enough, and remain convinced they will not so easily turn on the Empire once they are self-sufficient. We will continue to send diplomatic missions to ensure this is so.
As well, the loss at Kursk was after XXIV. Legio had already defeated a much larger army mere days before, and was seeking to return to Imperial lands to recover and reorganize. They were ambushed on this journey. You can note on the after-action report from the battle that they were at one quarter strength, purely by manpower numbers alone. Perhaps the legions could learn from the navy and develop per-prepared plans so that they are ready for these situations in the future.
We would also point out that any investigative reporters are either working for the Imperial Newspaper or already illegal, the bank was shut down, the so-called ‘disloyal regiment’ was merely responding to poor officers, that the prison system is being reformed even now, and that personal charity met the needs of those hurt by the famine.
We will direct investment in both better banking laws, if only to demonstrate a lack of corruption, and an understanding of nationalist and imperialist thought.
Senator Doukas—We will note in passing that being a Senator is a higher honor than being a Doux, thus the honorific Senator instead of Doux—excellent work on the investigation. The Scholai Palatinae will interrogate Senator Tsoukalos and continue the investigation in Constantinople. If you would direct the investigation into the cult elsewhere in the Empire, We would be quite thankful.
Finally, We thank you all for your congratulations on Our children. A healthy Imperial family leads to a healthy Empire.
Are there any further questions or comments before We close the session?
Your Imperial Highness, thank you for your gracious opinion on the investigation. The Cult may be as secretive as the Hashashin of old were, but ultimately the Empire will defeat them.
Moving on, I do believe that we should send an ambassador to the Celestial Empire, or Serica as it is referred to in the ancient texts. They possess vast amounts of resources that we need, and they are interested in some of our technology. Perhaps we could sign a trade agreement with them? Didn’t one of their fleets show up on the Arabian coast three hundred years ago? An alliance with the Middle Kingdom would allow the Empire to better project its military and economic power into Asia and the Pacific, where we all know that the Ruthenians have some colonies we would like…
I am glad to hear about the resolutions regarding the banks, reporters, soldiers, famine, etc. After all, we are civilized people, right?
On personal matters, would it be impolite to ask the gender of the newborn children and perhaps suggest some names?
~Senator Doukas of Athens
I believe new senatorships should be created and handed to loyal men from prestigious families outside of our Greek-speaking territories. This would tie more people into the life of the Empire and create a loyal citizenry committed to the Basilissa.
*The glorious Imperial capital, City of Men’s Desire, the centre of the world. At its heart, though slightly to the North East, the τὸ ἐν Βλαχέρναις Παλάτιον renovated and opulent stands a monument of the glory, wealth and power of the Empire. Zoom in to see the stunning artworks and frescos adorning the walls, up a bit past the gilded towers, to a small ornate garden, seemingly empty…no not quite. Pacing around the edge muttering to himself, is a man dressed plaining but with clear expense put into his dress. His hair was clearly styled, but as he paces he grabs and pulls at it forming crazy shapes.*
Damn their oily hides, those snakes! The Kyriarchía and Foiderátoi no nothing but how to fill their own pockets. Satan’s elongated poker, the damn Patrikioi at least have a vision for the Empire! Those inbred fools look down on me and the rest of us as usurping provincials, only enough true Imperial blood allows you to join their little game. Ha! I know their secrets, I have found out their weaknesses, but the Empress continues to have them by her side, letting their poison seep into her mind, maybe her very soul.
Oh but not into my soul, oh I know they long to cut me down, yes. Arrest and detain, slay the voice of reason and logic, a true senator in the vein of Cicero. I should be leading the Senate, maybe even be the husband of the Empress, hhehehe. Not that I wouldn’t be worthy, but these fools try to spoil things. Nasty Senators! Take away all the things from me, nasty filthy senators! Γκόλουμ Γκόλουμ Γκόλουμ. Must make them understands that the world should be in twain the Tribes in the New World, the Empire to rule the Old. Then the prophecy will be try, Γκόλουμ, thenwill know, yes πολύτιμό μου.
*The Senator continues this rambling diatribe, sometimes pacing other times rocking all the while cradling something in his hands. Sometimes it appears he is speaking to whatever he holds, others it seems to be someone only he can see. Whilst this continues a figure in stylish yet armoured apparel moves from the shadows, his face covered only dark piercing eyes are visible. He approaches the Senator his steps seeming not to make a sound hand on a dagger by his side, has the end come for Στήβεν? Rounding on the back of the Senator the man seems to hesitate, yet then decides to speak and his hand leaves the dagger*
Senator? I have been sent to assist you, our goals have aligned and our time approaches, would you care to take a walk?
* We spiral back into the sky as the man and Senator begin to talk, the Senator appears to relax and regain his composure as the man speaks. What new intrigue is brewing? Who is this man? What does all the Greek mean? Join us again same Imperial Time, same Imperial Channel*
Senator Doukas, We will certainly send an ambassador to the Ming. Though We fear their legendary insularness will prevent any trade treaties
As for Our children, they are named Veronica, Alvértos, Alíki, Alfrédos, Elena, Louiza, Artoúros, and Léon.
Senator Moustakas, We will certainly raise any worthy men of the Empire to Senatorial rank. But it is for the political parties to bring them to Our attention.
Thank you Senators. This State of the Empire address is now closed.
Senators, your presence is requested for a State of the Empire Address on the First of January, 1849.
All hail the Empire and the Empress who have brought us such glory against the Russian barbarians! The Imperial Army has more than proven its worth. I am also glad to see Ukraine on the Imperial map once more, and this time we will ensure they stay there.
– Michelangelo Favero
All hail the Empire and you, our glorious Empress ! Your name shall be remembered by the Ukrainian people for the centuries to come ! We must always reenforce the border with our armies for I fear the bear will come back after licking his wounds and who knows what his fury could do ?
I expect that your husband surely rejoiced at the outcome of the war !
Empress, the map reveals us something : everywhere in the world, there is a center of Roman civilization spreading our way of life and ensuring bases for potential campaigns. Everywhere except one area that appears to be weak and ripe to take : East Asia. I think it is in the interest of the Empire to secure a port on China proper. The news of their weakness are public and I think we could take treaty ports where we could force them to trade on the terms we dictate ! However we have to refrain from taking too much land from them : the hordes of Asiatic will not be handled too easily.
Other than this case, I think the Empire is fine as it is and shall continue as such. Don’t listen to the whispers of sedition : the only way to act with these so-called “liberals” is to force them to bow before you !
I congradulate you to the greatest extent on the recent war with Russia. We have finally put those damned Ró̱soi* back in their place. I hope this also sends a message to the world. Rome will not be tame for much longer. Now we must strike North and defeat the last vestiges to Pax Europa, the Germanoí**.
– Pontitus Caristanius Galilo
I must say that those are great news for our Empire, the balance of power and peace have been again restored, however I have to say that agressive expansion of Russia was very dangerous for not only their weaker neighbors but also our Great Empire. We must make sure that our response time in future will be faster to prevent such dangers. With this in mind, I strongly support proposition made by Basileios Rellis.
Punish the Castilians and Chagatai for their insults! They do not respect our people and our glorious empire! They will pay for their insolence!
We were determined to go to war with Russia. It may have been most sensible to wait, but Russia was also at war with Germany and Scandinavia. Russia had declared war on Scandinavia for the Kola peninsula, and Germany had come to Scandinavia’s aid. Somehow, Germany and Russia’s armies had marched past each other. Germany had occupied much of Ukraine, while Russia and Persia had in turn occupied much of Germany.
In the east, XXIV. Legio began to occupy any Ukrainian territory. II. Legio sought to cut off Russian access to the sea: first the Sea, then the Caspian Sea. IV. Legio boldly marched straight for Moscow.
In the West, X. Legio sought to free German lands occupied by Russia and to defeat any Russian forces they could find in Germany. VI. Legio marched from La Rochelle to support them. Not shown on the map, XXIII. Legio moved form Dalmatia to free the eastern German lands.
X. Legio began a long march for Lieutva, while VI. Legio marched for Rovne. XXIII. Legio hunted down a Russian army in eastern Germany. IV. Legio had occupied the Moscow area and was marching for Ingria to block Russian access to the Baltic. Meanwhile XXIV. Legio, II. Legio, and I. Legio continued their tasks.
In November of 1847, Russia sent a peace offer freeing the Ukraine. But We were not satisfied with this. Instead, we planned to foil their plans in Scandinavia before forcing a peace. We were not able to do so to Our complete satisfaction, but on December 2, a peace was made that included only Russia’s claims, and not Persia’s demands to form an independent Norway.
The war had demonstrated how a well-equipped army could easily circumvent the fortresses such as we had, so We had the Army Corps of Engineers research mobility on the strategic level, both how to use it to our advantage, and how to prevent our enemy’s movement.
While we were rebuilding and recovering, Bavaria fought against Hungary to reclaim Germanic lands. Despite Scotland’s assistance, Bavaria won, and Hungary no longer held lands that were primarily German.
During the war, the more extreme elements within the Empire finally stopped supporting the idea of rebellion as a political tool, and so the Empire was much calmer. Which left the question, what to do now?
Thank you for your kind words on our victories, Senators Favero, Rellis, Galilo, Damaskinos, .
Senator Rellis, your proposal actually hints at something We wished to propose. We have had our eye on Southeast Asia for some time. There are lands held by Persia, Hedjaz, and Iraq that could be taken for the Empire. But your proposal to seize some ports in Ming lands also is worth considering. What does the Senate think of this? Here are some maps showing the three countries respective territories:
Senator Galilo, We are afraid that while Germany would be easily defeated, they would be more than we could take in surrender, and more than we could administrate.
Senator Doukas, attacking the Castillians and Chagatai is a unique proposal. We are not sure what the aims might be though. Castille is a minor island nation with a small African colony, and Chagatai is isolated in central Asia. Would you expound on what the Empire would gain from such an adventure? Here are maps showing Castille’s territory, and Chagatai’s territory alongside that of its allies.
Senators, what would you consider to be worthy goals of the Empire?
Would not our recent conflict with Persia in the Russian war involve a truce with that nation? It would be unwise to attack them again so soon so as to not invoke the ire of the international community. Both Hedjaz and Iraq possess desirable land in the Indies. The territory in the Philippines and Taiwan could be beneficial to the Empire in particular. Either seems a fine target, which I will leave at your discretion, Empress.
– Michelangelo Favero
My heartiest congratulations to you, noble Basilissa, on the great victory over the Rus and the establishment of a Slavic border state between our two powers. Domination of the spice trade would seem like an excellent next step and would perhaps check the growing power of the East Asian blocs.
~ Kyriakos Angelos
While our most recent conflict was a major success I recommend that we re-organize the legions before we engage in another conflict. Perhaps it is time to return to the old system of 10. For the moment we can use 4 infantry, 4 cavalry, 1 engineer, and one dragoon. This method of combined arms ensures that the legions are always prepared. As always I am your humble servant Basiliia and seek to help where I can.
– Constantine Panaretos
I do think we should expand Roman power into the Far East. Russian lands in New Guinea are a tempting target, but I also do support taking some Ming ports.
– Pontitus Caristanius Galilo
As I said before, I’m strongly supporting idea of expanding our Empire in the Far East. I recommend claiming Taiwan as it is the closest territory to asian mainland (especially China) without going to war with so called Celestial “Empire”. Also, if that is not to much to ask, I would like to see some of Empire’s cartographers maps regarding core territories of Poland, Ukraine and Livonian Order to ensure that there should not be any conflict or crisis within our Sphere?
– Alexios Damaskinos
First off, apologies for ranting about the Castilians and Chagatai. I haven’t seen maps of the Empire in a while.
While I also support expansion into Eastern Asia, I must say that we should be careful with our actions taken there. Taking Ming ports would not be a good idea. Although we would gain footholds in the East and potentially gain new resources, we would have to spend many more resources managing the new colonies. The Chinese do not take kindly to being under foreign rule, and it would take ages to educate all of them in Roman ways and effectively assimilate them into the Empire. If Your Highness still wishes to invade China, though, I recommend going after the gold mines of Caozhou.
That being said, we should seize the Russian possessions in the Pacific, especially Taiwan and the Philippines. They would weaken our enemy and also serve the same purpose as footholds in China, only easier to manage and without Chinese cores to provoke the Celestial Empire.
Perhaps we could seek out a trading agreement or an alliance with the Celestial Empire? The original Empire under the Caesars established friendly trading relations with the Han Empire thousands of years ago. They would be a useful ally against the Russians, and if we help them to “westernize,” a Sino-Roman alliance will be unstoppable. That is just my opinion though, Basilissa. The choice is yours.
– Nikephoros Doukas
Glory to the Empire!
I agree with my fellow senators great Empress, those lands in the Phillippines would seem to be a great addition to the Empire. In fact I am sure my son Γιώργος would be an able adiminstrator of any lands that were to come into our possession from such a venture.
– Στήβεν Γκρέυ
My Empress, whilst the victory over Russia and the restoration of the Borderlands is worth celebrating, we must remember that the region of Lithuania is still under the control of the Russians. We must find a way to diplomatically return these lands to the Borderlands as soon as we can. I agree with my fellow senators in regards of expanding into Southeast Asia.
I would also like to re-suggest the idea of uniting the Germans. If we assist Germany in bringing Bavaria under its fold, I have no doubt that they would want to remain our allies. Denmark, on the other hand, should regain the territory of Jutland, thus allowing its German territories to be taken by Germany.
– Damianos Septiadis
Excellent idea, uniting the Germans. Isn’t their empire called Germany for a reason?
Anything that weakens the Russians will benefit us at this point
– Nikephoros Doukas
I’m afraid senator Nikephoros Doukas, that I can’t agree with you. I would say that uniting the Germans will weaken us more than the Russians. After making alliance with Poland and Livonia, and making Ukraine independent, I think that Germany has no reason to go to war with Russia. Further more, if we let Germans unite, Germany would go after us, taking into account that they consider some of our lands their cores. I will say more, this could even strengthen Russia because of possible Anti-Roman coalition led by Germany and Russia.
– Alexios Damaskinos
As we can see on the map, both Livonia and Poland consider Lithuania as their core provinces. It would be better to let Russia keep it in future, if we let one of them take it, then we might face war between countries in our Sphere. Poland and Livonia are too weak to declare their own war for Lithuania against Russia, so it is up to us, to not make mistake in future by forgetting this issue.
– Alexios Damaskinos
Why does it look like Ukraine has cores on all of Russia?
We can’t let Russians have such a gate to the west :
The best option would be to free an independent Lithuania if such thing is possible. Otherwise I would advise to give the remaining territories to the Livonian Order ; we can’t help Poland anymore
Independent Lithuania would mean that Poland or Livonia will invade it, so it is useless. But one thing must be said: We needed Poland to defend Europe from Russian barbarians, now we should concentrate on Ukraine-Russia border, in fact, Poland is of no use to us anymore and it can cause trouble in future (disputed territory with Livonia).
– Alexios Damaskinos
I hope that Roman might would prove sufficient to repel barbarians Senator Damaskinos, should they decide to go against our will
If we were to go to war with Russia some time in the future to take their Baltic territory, I would favour handing it over to Livonia over Poland. They consider the entire region theirs, while Poland does not. It would also put them on more equal footing. I also agree with Senator Damaskinos on that Poland’s importance as a buffer against Russia is no longer an issue, so it would serve better to aid Livonia first. However, Poland is not completely useless to us. Their mere existence keeps the German states from growing too strong. If anything, we can use them to weaken states like Bavaria, who even holds land Poland claims.
– Michelangelo Favero
Senator Favero, you are correct that there is a truce with Persia. We would not be able to move against them immediately.
Senators Angelos, Galilo, Doukas, and Γκρέυ, We thank you for the encouragement for expansion in the far East. Senator Γκρέυ, We shall strongly consider your son as a governor of any new territories.
Senator Panaretos, We fear that splitting the current legions into more legions would not be helpful. A single of these smaller legions would be unable to stand against enemy armies by itself, so two would have to fight together at any given time, which is no different than matters as they are. However, We realize the We did not specify the composition of the Legions before. They currently consist of eight infantry cohorts, four artillery cohorts, two engineer cohorts, and two hussar cohorts. If We can improve the Empire’s capability to support troops in one location, We will increase the Legions to eight cohorts of artillery. And the legions are using Hussars instead of Dragoons for their superior maneuverability and reconnaissance. But nevertheless, We thank you for your interest in the legions.
Senator Damaskinos, the suggestion to take Taiwan is an interesting one. We shall take it under consideration.
Senator Doukas, the idea of a trade treaty with Ming is curious. We shall see if such a matter is possible with the famously insular Ming.
Senator Septiadis, thank you for the reminder that there is still work to be done against Russia. Sadly, though, Germany has grown bombastic about the Burgundian peoples, insisting that they should be united into a Greater Germany, and thus refuses alliance with us. Pan-nationalist rebels in the north have greatly expanded them at the cost of minor nations and Denmark. Who knows, maybe they will eventually be able to stand against Bavaria on their own? Certainly they are no threat to the Empire, though.
In regards to Poland and Livonia, We will keep all of your suggestions in mind. But it seems unlikely that that land will be free from Russian control without intervention from the Empire.
Your presence is requested for a State of the Empire Address on 18 February, 1846.
Any requests for information should be sent in advance to the Blachernae palace.
Russia’s aggression knows no bounds. It is obvious at this time that war with them is inevitable. We cannot let these barbarians threaten Europe for much longer.
– Michelangelo Favero
I concurr with Senator Favero. Russia is continuing is unprovoked aggression against Pax Romana and her interests, that is why I would fully support War between us and Russia. The sooner the better.”
– Potitus Caristanius Gallio
As well, We set to publish anonymous papers demonstrating that the Spice Islands would be better under Imperial control than under Iraqi control. These papers were traced to Blachernae within a few months, mildly damaging Our reputation.
As research into different forms of ideological thought became firmly established, We sought to make up for the lack of admirals by having the Admiralty develop a set of naval plans for various scenarios.
In October of 1843, UTA declared war on new England and requested our aid. Mexihco, who now sought to be called ‘The Empire of Mexico’ had come to New England’s aid. We accepted the call from our allies.
It was at this time that our propaganda had swayed the world enough for Us to declare war on Iraq. Not wishing to miss the opportunity, We did so, claiming Dili for the Empire. Khiva came to their defense.
The Iraqi was opened with Iraq’s 2nd Army assaulting the border province of Hakkari. I. Legio frightened them back over the border, then chased them to Arbil and Kirkuk, completely destroying them. They then chased down and defeated another Iraqi force who had fled as far as Homs, and then defeated any remaining forces that had crossed the border before besieging the Iraqi homeland, driving for the Persian Gulf.
During this war, We waited for the fleets to organize themselves before intervening in the UTA’s war. This was unwise, as Mexihco used the opportunity to begin a mass invasion. When XV. Legio arrived in Texas, they were defeated at Dallas and forced to retreat to Houston. This defeat was startling, as on paper the legion should have been able to smash the Mexican forces. It was surely the abilities of the Mexican general that turned the tide. Once XV. Legio recovered, they began assisting American lands under Mexican occupation, avoiding the Mexican armies.
Meanwhile, VI. Legio was transported to New England, where they completely destroyed the New English army that had been causing the American 1st Army to hesitate. They then boarded their transports and sailed for the gulf coast. The UTA would be left to recapture their lands and occupy New England.
IX. Legio was more bold, and had set sail for Veracruz, intending to march on Mexico City. And once VI. Legio landed in Houston, both they and XV. Legio marched north to sweep the Mexicans from American lands. Before long, XV. Legio had revenged themselves on the Mexicans, and VI. Legio proved they were to be feared.
Once the naval plans were completed, We directed the bureaucracy to draft better legislation for the small businesses springing up throughout the Empire in the hopes that more resources could be extracted for the factories.
While the legions returned over the Atlantic, we commissioned a new legion (XV. Legio) and prepared Our justifications for war against Russia. Before long, the justifications were ready, if the legions still needed a little time to prepare. Do you still agree that war with Russia is desirable?
Domestically, We could pass reforms in the Empire. We are strongly disinclined to allow greater political rights, but We would welcome your insight, especially as there are various movements organizing in the Empire.
Once the army is ready, we must make all haste to cripple the Russian beast before it strikes down another European nation.
I see no need for political reform when the Empire is led by Your Empress. The Empire thrives, as it is, under Your benevolent rule.
– Michelangelo Favero
Your Emperess, it is surely heresy to even suggest that we should allow other inferiors to challenge your divine right to rule. However it has always been the Empires way to improve the lot of our subjects and any trinkets we can bring to the mob binds them closer to us.
I would be of the opinion that forcing the release of a full nation would be the best course of action, assuming the war goes as we expect we can look to add our cores as a war goal later.
All hail the might of the Empire and it’s Emperess!
– Senator Γκρέυ
Senators Favero and Γκρέυ, We are pleased that we are in agreement regarding both Russia and reforms. Do any other Senators have concerns or thoughts?
Very well, Senators. We thank you for your time.
Summoning the Senate
Your presence is requested for a State of the Empire Address on 24 May, 1843.
Any requests for information should be sent in advance to the Blachernae palace.
Messages to the Palace
Empress I assume our staunch ally in Germany has not called us into they petty feud with the vile Bavarian?
I also agree we should invade and destroy Delhi as per their fears.
Whoever writes these papers should be drawn and quartered. Either they called Empress Veronica a mere queen and gave the wrong name for her husband, or they are referring to some foreign queen named Victoria and used our Empress’ name for the title. And who are these mysterious X06_conservatives who took power in Werle? What a strange name for a group.
It would seem that the Scandinavians look upon us quite favourably. Perhaps they could be of some use against the Russians. An alliance should be considered if possible.
– Michelangelo Favero
My dearest Empress, what is the current colonial situation of Africa at the moment? I wish our Empire and its soldiers all the best in its fight against Mataram.
The State of the Empire
After the last address, the Scholai Palatinae escorted the royal family to Blachernae, which had begun refurbishment. Likewise, funds had been allocated for the restoration of the Grand Palace under your direction and for your use.
We immediately sent diplomats to Poland and Hungary to assess their feelings towards the Empire and to draw them closer to us, if possible. Poland was wary of any alliances due to fears of being part of grand coalitions, though our diplomat was yet able to increase our relations. Our diplomat to Hungary reported anger at our possession of lands they considered theirs. Of course, We soon found the real reason was that they had formed an alliance with Russia. Soon after, Hungary declared war on Poland for the bit of Slovakia under Polish rule, and Russia joined in their aggression.
Meanwhile, We continued the process of upgrading naval bases and fortifying the Empire’s borders.
In April of 1840, Senator Galatias’ defense of non-Greek citizens was shown to be good when Henri-Gustave Delvigne, François Tamisier, and Louis-Étienne de Thouvenin all developed major improvements to the existing muskets used by the legions. Thus Our call for improved weapons for the Legions was answered. Simultaneously, the Imperial Corps of Engineers declared they would better function as engineering cohorts than as embedded in infantry cohorts, so We began the process of organizing two engineering cohorts per legion. Later a Parisian, Claude-Étienne Minié, improved on the firearms even more, creating a ball for the rifles that has been named after him.
Beyond this were the continuing advances in medicine: a Hungarian in Transdanubia discovered the principles of antiseptics, a Burgundian discovered the principles of heredity, an Englishman developed a useful thermometer, a Breton created the stethoscope, and a Southern German developed chambers for thorax surgery.
Thereafter the philosophy department of the University of Constantinople insisted on more funding, and that their works would increase innovation throughout the Empire. We were skeptical of the practicality of philosophy, but recognized that it would at least increase our prestige. So the philosophy department was expanded and given room to recruit new professors.
And then Russia made peace with Poland: Hungary got the Slovakian lands they wanted, and Russia took Lieutva from Poland. It was fitting that Poland did not keep the lands they and taken from Livonia, but worrisome that those lands went to Russia.
As the final shipyards and fortresses were planned, We began expanding the railroad network that had begun to form in the Empire. It was during this time that the philosophers began to expound about idealism. We asked them to apply these principles to better inspire the peoples of the Empire.
As the wars between major powers drew down, a crisis arose in the province in Sichuan. The area was controlled by the Ming, but Tibet claimed it should be a part of their nation. And indeed the people of Sichuan were more Tibetan than Chinese. Nevertheless, when Ming asked for our aid in the crisis, We agreed to assist them. Russia supported Tibet, further demonstrating their hostility to the Empire. But they quickly agreed to a peace, even as the legions only began to mobilize.
In February of 1843, Mataram claimed our merchants were purposefully violating the local laws in favor of trade. By April, their interference with our traders was to the point that We declared war to protect our traders.
Finally, having upgraded all transport fleets to use steamer ships, We began production of commerce raiders to supplement and upgrade the Light Fleet guarding the Mediterranean.
Replies to the Senate’s Messages
Now, to reply to your messages to Blachernae:
Senator Γκρέυ, would a diplomatic solution, bringing them into our sphere of influence, suffice?
Senator Favero, We can assure you that those responsible have been sacked. The state newspapers cannot allow such lax standards. As well, We shall look toward forming an alliance with Scandinavia. However, Russia considers the Kola region theirs, so such an alliance may be yet another potential source of conflict.
Senator Kishiev, the only region of interest in Africa right now is in the west, where a few nations formed small colonies during the collapse of order in the region. Scotland has come to control the Gambia River, England the Casamance River, and Castille the Geba river. Former slaves have formed the nation of Leberia, bordered to the north by another English colony. And the former Gold Coast is home to colonies from Scotland, Germany, England, and Denmark. Inland, Sokoto and Benin have begun to show some level of political organization, though in a more primitive form than when those lands swore fealty to the Empire.
If instead you meant to ask about the Empire’s ability to form colonies, it seems that not enough people can be found willing to overcome the hardships at this time. Expansion in Africa is closed to us.
The Senate Speaks and the Empress Replies
Empress I congratulate our legions on defeating Mataram, it was a great way to show the World the Legions and Rome are not to be messed with. I would like to advocate for an Hungarian or Polish alliance at this time, they would be useful when we inevitably move against Russia.
– Potitus Caristanius Gallio
I am curious if the imperial archives contain a list of all nations that claim Roman land in Europe as rightfully theirs, as I see our ally Germany may make such claims. It would be quite informative for considering potential alliances in the future.
While I understand the desire to not get dragged into conflict unprepared, if we do not stand up against these Russian brutes, they will roll across Europe. If the Russians truly want Scandinavian land, I say we let Scandinavia know that Russia will have to fight the Roman Empire as well to take it.
– Michelangelo Favero
I call for the annexation or allegiance of the minor powers in Europe – Germany, Bavaria, Denmark, Poland and Hungary. If they cannot handle their own affairs, they should cede that responsibility to mighty Rhoma, before the Rus take it themselves.
~ Kyriakos Angelos
A punitive war is the only way to deal with Russia and keep the Pontos Euxinos safe. The sooner, the better since we allow them currently to reenforce and break the balance of the countries north of the limes. Using the Barbarians from Japan could be a nice distratction given the size of their pesky empire.
If your Highness doesn’t approve that expedition, I would advise to continue bringing the Spice islands under our control. Java might be the richest and most populous but the others deserve civilization too.
– Basileios Rellis
Senator Gallio, We shall seek such an alliance. As you point out, more allies bordering Russia will be quite useful.
Senator Favero, Hungary claims parts of Transdanubia and Karnten-Steiermark; Bavaria claims part of the Mainz region; Thuringia also claims part of the Mainz region; Denmark claims the Mainz region and Nordrhein; Russia claims part of Ekaterinodar; and Germany claims all lands with a plurality of German peoples, including Burgundians.
Senator Angelos, We fear that such an endeavor is beyond the Empire’s means at this time. Yet We shall continue to form alliances to hem Russia in.
Senator Rellis, the Spice Islands are certainly within our means. Meanwhile, We can continue to build our industry so that the Legions are prepared for Russia.
Thank you for your time, Senators. Until the next address!
A Late Message
I know this session of the senate to be closed, however I thought I should back up a few of my colleagues.
Potitus Caristanius Gallio is correct in that we should bring the Poles closer to our Empire, however the Hungarians are only worthly of licking the dog mess from our boot heels. Their alliance with Russia must be nullifed.
Michelangelo Favero and Basileios Rellis are correct we must take action against Russia, any nation that may lose land or be attacked by Russia must be brought into our ranks, together we will humble this monster and bring it to heel. Sweden should have trust in our Legions to protect them and bring them more worthless tundra if they so wish.
– Senator Γκρέυ,
Your presence is requested at a special session of the Senate on November 27, 1839, where Empress Veronica will address the Senate on the State of the Empire. As preparation for this session, whe following newspapers have been deemed significant by the archivists:
It would seem that the Russians are aware of our desire to see them weakened. We must be extra careful if we are to take action against them in the future.
– Michelangelo Favero
No, we must strike as soon as our treaty is over! Losing to the Rus was a humiliation upon our great empire, have you seen the news! They are calling it a shameful defeat and a loss in every sense! We have been hiding from the World Stage for to long and this defeat has not helped us regain our supreme standing on the World Stage.
– Potitus Caristanius Gallio
Well our time sure is interesting. I think we should name one of these “dinosaurs” after one of our rulers.
Other than that I reserve my thoughts for the Empress.
In the wake of the Russo-Ukraine war, it seemed nobody could agree on what to do. But it was clear to Us that nothing could be done until the Legions were restored to strength.
While medicines were being researched, We resumed the industrial programs from before the wars. We began construction of clipper shipyards in Upper Egypt; canned food factories in Croatia, Van, Leon-Castilla (in addition to the ones in Southwest England and Picardie); machine parts factories in Granada, Bourgogne, West Switzerland, Wallonie, Nordrhein, and Karntern-Steiermark; a steamer shipyard in the (British) Midlands. This was more than sufficient to begin meeting the Empire’s needs, but it also proved that factories could provide gainful employment for otherwise unemployed citizens. So in any state with one hundred or more potential factory workers, We created new factories that fit the region.
And We laid plans for naval bases all throughout the Empire. Those plans laid, We began fortifying the Caucasus and the regions nearby. This soon expanded into fortifying all of our borders.
During this time of preparation, there was increased liberal agitation throughout the Empire. Secret societies sprung up everywhere, and local regulations against them only served to liberalize the population. Jacobins held marches in several provinces. The natives in Africa were angered by the number of big game hunts happening in their lands. People were strangely upset about the use of forced labor as a punishment. Business men complained about Imperial procurement contracts. Questions about how education for non-Greeks should be handled grew heated. And as the agitation grew worse, there were Luddite mobs that had to be put down with force.
Sadly, this effort had only begun when Germany asked for our help in their war against Denmark and Pommerania. Fortunately, they did not need help in this war, so while we became the war leader, we needed spend no effort.
Meanwhile, mass recruitment for the legions began. Eighty-nine cohorts were recruited in the first round. Seventeen in the second. When the recruitment was over, each legion had two cohorts of hussars, eight cohorts of infantry, and four cohorts of artillery. The exception was II. Legio, who could not support that many cohorts near the Russian border, and was short two cohorts of infantry. And the Scholai Palatinae now consisted of three cohorts of cuirassiers.
In addition to your usual recommendations, We also wish to propose that the royal family refurbish and begin using the palace at Blachernae again. The Scholai Palatinae would, of course, come with us.
In turn, the Senate’s use of the Great Palace would be properly formalized and written into law.
My most royal Majesty, would it be impudent of me to request an update of those that that dare to call themselves our peers?
I am sure I speak for all senators when I say that we would like to be able to advise on those near us that should be brought closer to the imperial fold and which of these worthless “Great Powers” we should crush beneath the legions heels.
Certainly not, Senator Γκρέυ!
Congratulations to you, my Empress, on your marriage. Perhaps one day your husband’s home may be freed from the control of the perfidious Russians.
It is unfortunate that Poland was unwilling to accept our protection as the Livonian Order did. Are they still amiable to an alliance though?
Castille is most unwise to interfere in Ethiopia, a nation of great importance to the Empire.
– Michelangelo Favero
Empress, would the Hungarians be amiable to our protection? Would be useful in any war in the East and stop the Bavarians from stealing their lands piecemeal.
May I be amongst the first to offer my warmest congratulations, most esteemed basilissa, on the occasion of your marriage? I am sure that kaisar Yevhen will make a spl,endid match for you,sebaste.”
~ Kyriakos Angelos
(Sebaste = feminine version of “esteemed/venerable one”. Kaisar = a royal title, originally meaning “Caesar”.)
Congratulations on your Marriage Veronica, may it be long and produce many heirs. Now down to business and first I would like to support Michelangelo Favero in his support for both an alliance with Poland and increased influence in Ethiopia. I want to condone the colonization of Australia and hope for further colonial expansion across the world. The maps should be painted purple! I also want to address Veronica’s interest in the UTA and all I can say is they are not fit for our influence. They are a bunch of tribal barbarians who can’t survive in a civil society. We must sail our Legions across the Atlantic Ocean and destroy them before they grow to powerful for us to handle.
I know I have said that about the Germans and the Rus but we cannot run anymore on the assumption that we will be the unchallenged masters of the world for much longer. I see powerful rivals in the UTA, Rus and the Germans, enemies that must be destroyed before they can kill us. I want also want to congratulate both the Empress and the Royal Engineers in finally bringing our Legions up to scratch. I further hope that we can become pioneers in the military field.
– Potitus Caristanius Gallio
We have Livonian Order in our sphere, which is good. I must say that news from Poland are unfortunate, but from broadsheets provided by clerk we can tell that situation with Poland is not stable. Germany and Livonian Order, our allies and friends, have cores on them. Poland is ignoring Russia, our common threat. Also, they seem eager to expand internally*. I can suggest nothing less radical than partition of Poland, which I consider the best option to stop russian threat in Europe. Having in mind that Poland has no allies, it is higly possible that, if we don’t do it, Russia will.
I wish you and your new husband a lifetime of happiness, your Majesty. I also believe the recommendation to restore Blachernae and provide for us the use of a palace for affairs would be must conductive to the nature of the state — However, I hear there are problems arising between non-Greeks and Greeks in the Western regions. I take great interest in this, as my home lies in the lands settled by the Burgundians — for my mother herself was one of them. I am of Greek cloth, but I accept my barbarian ancestry as it helps me better and civilize those in the West — my suggestion is that we seek to co-opt their support, rather than grind down their cultural heritage into dust. We are Romans, let us make them Romans through education and noble rule, not through beating them down.
– Konstantinos Galatias
Thank you for your insight. We shall research what approaches can be taken to Poland. We fear they will not be amenable to an alliance, and the Westphalian system may make a partition impossible. Yet there should be some means of containing Russian expansion into Europe. Hungary as well will be approached.
But for the immediate future, We suspect that there can be no extended military campaigns. The Imperial stockpiles can only supply the Legions for a short time. It seems we have entered an age where a nation’s industry is the greatest factor in its strength.
We thank you for you amenability towards the restoration of Blachernae as a royal palace. The restoration will commence immediately.
Finally, We will strongly consider approaches to non-Greeks within the Empire that are less harsh.
Until, the next address, Senators.
The State of the Empire
March 8, 1837
Doubtless you want an accounting of the Russian War.
In 1836, We decided that supplying the Legions was Our most important task. To that end, We tasked the Imperial Society with putting chemistry to the use of doctors, so that the Legions would not suffer such bad attrition.
We adjusted the budget, setting the nominal tax rates to 100% (effective tax rates were 37%). We used this money to fund various civil servants, the soldiers in the Legions, and to stockpile good that the military would need.
It was clear that our artisans could not supply all the needed goods, so We opened new factories to increase production: Artillery factories in Mainz and Franche-Comte (in addition to the existing one in Wales); Clipper shipyards in Bulgaria, Normandie, Attica, Suez, Alexandria, and Middle Egypt (in addition to the existing ones in Emelia and Loire).
We allowed all nations that requested military access said access on the condition that they supplied their troops from their own stockpiles and not from the lands they marched through. Thus, the idea of troops being centrally supplied became normal.
Sadly, before We had had a chance to bring the Legions to strength, Russia declared war on Ukraine. We had been sending agents to influence Ukraine in our favor, and had nearly pulled them into our sphere of influence. So this invasion had to be resisted. We declared war on Russia in defense of Ukraine. Persia had sided with Russia in this war, but Germany was eager to flex their muscles and join us.
Immediately several legions marched: XXIV. Legio (near the Ukrainian border) to break Russian sieges in northern Ukraine, IV. Legio (in East Macedonia) to attack Russian forces in southern Ukraine, II. Legio (near the Russian border north of the Caucasus, but divided into two units) to also attack the Russian forces in southern Ukraine, and I. Legio (in Antioch) to attack Persia.
While the battles with Persia went to the Legions, the battles with Russia did not. IV. Legio, having marched from East Macedonia nearly to the Caucasus, saw victories, but it was not enough to turn the Russian tide. Even the Persian victories were not enough, as they simply sent more forces to occupy border provinces while I. Legio sought to stop other occupations. And when I. Legio sought a decisive battle against the main Persian force, they lost.
German troops in Persia began to undo some of Persia’s gains, but it was too little, too late. It was clear that the war was unwinnable and that further fighting would only lessen our chances to undo the damage at a later date. And so We surrendered to Russia, allowing them to annex Ukraine.
We are displeased that this was necessary. We are certain that given more time, the Legions could have been better supplied and brought to their full numbers. This will still be done, though it may take two or three years. As well, the Legions have a shortage of skilled generals. This is slowly being remedied, but will also take time. This kind of disaster will not be allowed to happen again.
Other information I should share include that during the war with Russia, both Bavaria and Hungary had succeeded in their wars, becoming ever stronger regional powers.
The Senators Reply
The outcome of the Russo-Ukraine War is most unfortunate. Not only have we lost an important buffer, but the Russians now have access to the Black Sea. We should take efforts to minimize further Russian expansion, perhaps by ensuring the survival of Poland or the Livonian Order. I am certain that under Your careful guidance, Empress, the Empire will be ready for any threat presented by Russia.
– Michelangelo Favero
We must find friendship with the Germans, Livonians and Polish — it is the only way to stop the Russians!
– Konstantinos Galatías
Our loss of ukrainian buffer zone forces us to act immediately. I’m suggesting that we should start investing our resources to bring Poland in our Sphere of Influence, maybe even help them with expansion into Livonian Order, as they are already at war. I suggest abandoning Livonian Order as potential ally, as Poland and Livonian Order are hostile towards each other. Not mentioning that with Poland we can cover entire border between Europe and Russia, wchich we can’t do with Livonian Order. Also, in possible future conflicts with Russia we should press our claims to govern all Black Sea ports directly, rather than forcing Russia to grant independence to Ukraine with all its ports.
– Alexios Damaskinos
The loss of the Ukrainian borderlands is a devastation to both our overall political influence in Europe and to our control of trade in the Black Sea. As has been stated by other senators we should look to prop up another, more powerful nation as a new borderland. If we are to expect the Russians to perform further invasions soon, then an immediate resolution would be Poland. But if we’re in for a long con, then I’d say we should prop up the Germans and aid them in any ways possible. Besides, we already have an alliance with them.
– Julian Leon
“Glorious Empress, our defeat against the Russian barbarians only came from our long years of waiting. Soon we will crush those who oppose us!
The best way to show this renewed state of affairs to the Barbarians is to seize all ports along the Pont-Euxin coast. Thus you would do more than the great emperors of old did! The Mediterranean may have been a Roman lake but the Pont-Euxin was never fully pacified. You would protect your people and carve your name into history!
But we should contact other Barbarians to use them as a shield against the Asiatic legions. Surely one Roman life is worth a Polish legion? ”
– Basileios Rellis
Already the lenient ways of the Senate allow sedition and corruption to seep through our society.
Whilst the Emperor is busy appeasing the fat cat reactionaries of the Senate, we continue to waste the Legions in the wastelands of Russia. Meanwhile our true enemy in Scotland remains free and must be brought to heel.
Alliances with Germany and Poland will secure our Northen and Eastern borders, whilst we make the Scots bow.
– Στήβεν Γκρέυ
I disagree Στήβεν Γκρέυ. Those Slavic Barbarians have just seized an important buffer, a buffer we invested heavily in I might add. While the Scots are our traditional enemies these are not traditional times, we have a new enemy now in Russia. It is a monster the Emperor has birthed and we must put down! That is why I think we should instead turn our attention East and subjugate the Russian’s however costly that might be. I also will take this time to promote an invasion of Germanium. While the First Empire was unable to tame the barbarians just across the Rhine I have a belief that we can, we have defeated them in the 15 years war, and the many wars before, so lets do it again. Restore Roman Rule to Germanium!
-Potitus Caristanius Gallio
“I also disagree, Senator Nkréy. The Sko̱tsézoi1 are of no threat to Mégas Ró̱mi2. Instead, I counsel that, with the loss of Ukraine to the people of Ro̱ssía3, the Basilissa’s armies should move against the people of Oungaría4 and incorporate that state fully within our own borders, rather than perpetually outside.”
~ Kyriakos Angelos
1: Scotsmen. 2: Great Rome. 3: Russia. 4: Hungary.
Senator Nkréy, you must agree that, compared to the Russians, the Gaels do not pose a threat. The Ukraine was a important buffer to the Empire and the Russians have to be stopped, though I hope we can settle this affair diplomatically.
Senator Gallio, I do not believe that the invasion of Germania would be beneficial. It is in my belief that we should attempt to assist the Germans in uniting Germania, as such, gaining an ally who could assist us if the Russians decide to invade. If possible, I could make a map displaying my ideas of what the borders of Europa should be.
~ Damianos Septiadis
A united Germania would only endanger the Empire more than the Russians. Assuming we can unite them, and assuming they do not immediately implode, it has the potential to turn into another Russia. When the Germans do sour of us, as they will the damned barbarians, we will be fighting a behemoth that outmatches even us in both industry and military. So in conclusion while respect your views Septiadis, i feel they will do more harm than good.
– Potitus Caristanius Gallio
Germans are a threat. No one should forget what happened centuries ago when they attacked the Western Empire and brought it to its end. Thus we can not risk Roman on the chance they might still ally us after we helped them. Continuous watching on the Rhine and Danube is the only way.
Polish on the other hand could be used well against the Russian Hordes.
– Basileios Rellis
“They are all barbarians, senator, but perhaps the Nemitzoi are the most perfidious of all. How long has it been since their sham western empire collapsed once again? I am not sure which I would sooner wish upon my enemies – the Rus or the Nemitzoi. Each would be a most uncomfortable bedfellow.”
~ Kyriakos Angelos
Nemitzoi: The Germans.
I agree with Angelos if I am understanding right. I-I mean we must destroy the Germans and Rus before they do the same to us. Empress Veronica, establish Regula Romanus in Europa!
– Potitus Caristanius Gallio
Yes the Germans in the past were barbarians who greatly weakened the empire, but at the same time they provided much work as mercenaries, Foederati. And though there is a chance that the relationship can sour, but at the same time this would just be a mere case of history repeating itself, and in that case we know what to do. But I assure you all that not only are the Germans a civilized people, but also that they have been long civilized and even had an admiration for us shown with their pretender Holy Roman Empire. So it is an almost absolute fact that the Germans will be a staunch supporter of us.
– Julian Leon
How does the Empire expect to dismantle the Russians and maintain the neutrality of the other nations that have thrown of the guiding hand of Mégas Ró̱mi and those upstart colonies across the water with the infamy that we must accure to halt the Russian hordes? Even with the best efforts of our diplomats we will only be able to force them to release one or two potentially hostile nations, unless the Senate expects our Legions to fight the entire continent.
I in 2 quick ways we can deal blows to the heart of the Hun and the Gaels and force them to kneel before our might. However we must proceed with caution, let the Legions rest and recover theire strength and it is clear we need a more professional army to best our enemies and the Empire should put forward funds to research new ways of bringing this to our forces.
– Στήβεν Γκρέυ
Senators, it is clear there is much disagreement on how to proceed. Nevertheless, it will take time before the legions are ready for any kind of fighting, let alone fighting other Great Powers. I will report to you when matters have changed. Thank you for your advice.
Senators, We thank you for how you honored Us during Our coronation ceremony.
As Empress, it is Our duty to protect the Empire, to make it strong, and to bring it glory. As Senators, it is your duty to advise Us in Our duty. And for you to do your duty, you must know the state of the Empire.
And so We give a state of the Empire address.
But our withdrawal from world affairs these last years has lessened our diplomatic influence. Our vassals are independent. Our allies gone their own way. But also, our enemies have lost there fear of us. Diplomatically, we are a blank slate.
Militarily, we are quite strong. We have fifteen Legions, two fleets of Man’O’Wars, one fleet of Frigates, and numerous transports. But the reality is not as good as it sounds. I have reports that my predecessors developed an advanced system of foraging that allowed the Legions to march in grand numbers without fearing attrition. And yet the reality of this is nowhere to be seen. Most of the Legions have been forced to split into smaller groups to avoid attrition. With supplies from Imperial Storehouses, this might be somewhat averted, but spoilage and disease might still take their toll. The Legions are also depleted from years of neglect.
For that matter, while we have large cash reserves, our budget is strongly negative. Although the clerks tell me these are predictions based on old records, and it may prove different in very little time.
Our population is mostly Greek-speaking, though quite diverse. Most of the non-Greeks are in the west. Castillians, Basque, and Andalusians in Iberia; Bretons, Cosmpolitane French, Aquitaine French, and Burgundians in Gaul; Italians in the Po valley; Flemish and Walloons in the Low Country; Welsh, Scottish, and a few English in Britannia; Berbers scattered throughout North Africa; Azerbaijani in Azerbaijan; and Jews everywhere, with a strong presence in Palestine.
Speaking of Africa: it seems that between the slave trade, our conquest, the conversions, and the political reorganizations, nearly all political organization has completely collapsed in west Africa. A few nations have started small trading posts, but we have certainly lost our grip on the region.
Now, I shall hear your concerns and recommendations.
Your Imperial Majesty, you come to the throne at a time when the Empire has stagnated for over a decade. If we wish to ensure our dominance of the world, we must spread our influence far and wide. I suggest that we attempt to bring the other nations of Europe back under our fold through trade and diplomacy ((get as many of the minor powers in our sphere as possible)). We should also attempt to re-establish our former positions in Africa if possible ((not sure if portions of Africa can be colonized at this point, but it looks so bare)). Our military most likely requires reorganization, but I am not as experienced in the gritty details of our forces. Industrialization has also become a powerful force and perhaps we should consider opening factories to produce wondrous goods for our Empire. Our focus should be closer to home until the Empire has adjusted to the rule of Your Illustrious Person. Of course, Your word is law, so I will support whatever efforts You prefer.
– Michelangelo Favero
“Noble Basilissa, I understand that the rebellious people of Skotia1 and Irlandia2 have united against your enlightened rule, yet they still control a sliver of southeastern Anglia3. I ask that the mighty armies of Rhomaion drive back the Skotsezoi4 past the great wall of Basileus Adrianou5 and retake southern Anglia and Oualia6, once and for all!”
~ Kyriakos Angelos
1: Scotland. 2: Ireland. 3: England. 4: Scots. 5: Emperor Hadrian. 6: Wales.
Senator Favero, We thank you for your inputs. We will look to build our industry, rebuild the Legions, and regain the Empire’s influence in Europe. We fear that Africa is still too chaotic for us to regain control, but We shall seek any opportunities to do so.
Senator Angelos, it seems Our address was unclear. Indeed, the Empire holds all the lands south of Basileus Adrianou’s wall. The former drawing stead was showing the regions where our subjects primarily speak Welsh, English, or other non-Greek tongues. A large map of the Empire is to be installed in the Senate Hall later today, and smaller maps have been printed for all Senators and will be delivered shortly. (( If you click on the map in the previous post, you can have Photobucket give you the full-scale version, where it’s more clear ))
If no other Senators have concerns at this time, we shall end this address to the Senate.
In December of 1835, Senator Nicolai Stathopoulos was summoned to the Imperial Palace. This was quite odd, because no-one had been to the Imperial Palace in years.
Years before, it was common for the aristocracy to visit the palance. There would be parties nearly every night, and constant events fawning over the Emperor throughout the day. Not only was it cultured, but it was a way to be seen by the Emperor and so to gain a valuable posting in the Empire.
All that changed when Andronikos was appointed heir. He had always been a strange sort, but not being in the line of succession, he was not often seen. Once he was heir, his presence at the State events made everyone uncomfortable. No-one could quite figure out what about him was so offputting, but the effect was real. So when State events began happening less frequently, and finally ceased altogether, everyone was relieved.
Many of the aristocracy who lacked positions returned home, where the more apt of them found that the Imperial bureaucracy had replaced them as the governance in the provinces. Though few truly noticed this, as the more savvy of the aristocrats had already recognized this fact and stayed in Constantinople.
The Imperial Bureaucracy kept the Empire governed, even as orders from the palace slowed to a trickle and then stopped. Those who sought orders, an audience, or simply to investigate at the palace where turned away by the Varangian Guard. And so the most ambitious of the aristocrats reformed the Senate, in order to ‘ensure the safekeeping and functioning of the Empire’. The presence of the fanatically loyal Scholai Palatinae in the city ensured that the ambitions for the Senate went no further. Between the bureaucracy and the Senate, the Empire was kept stable. But the lack of word from the Emperor meant that international relations faded.
Years passed. Food and supplies were delivered to the palace (the servants silent and frightened-looking when they took the deliveries), but no word came out. Until December of 1835. The Varangian Guard had been summoned inside. And then new servants were hired. Supplies were delivered, and it was clear that the palace was being cleaned and refurbished. And then days later, the summons came for Nicolai.
When he arrived at the palace, he was escorted in by a silent guard. He was led to a room where bodies lay in state: the royal family. Many of the bodies were in poor shape, little more than skeletons. Some where more recent. Least honored was the obviously recent body of Andronikos.
After Nicolai recovered from the shock of this revelation, he was escorted to a waiting room. He tried to recall the lineage of the royal family and which bodies he had seen. Where there any survivors?
When a servant came to wait on him, he tried to ask questions, but the servant merely shook his head. When Nicolai shouted “Why will no-one speak to me?!” the servant looked up with sorrowful eyes, then opened his mouth. He had no tongue. Nicolai fell back in his chair as the servant left. What horros had happened here?
Eventually, he was led to an audience chamber, where there was a young woman, in her late teens. She greeted him. “Senator Stathopoulos, thank you for coming. I am Veronica, the last of the Doukas family.” Nicolai remembered that she had been an infant when the palace had become closed off. She would be nearly seventeen now. “I am afraid that the reign of my Uncle Andronikos has not been a good one. But it is now over. He died at his meal the other day. As I am the last of my family, I am the heir to the throne. The coronation will be in a few days. But I wanted to greet you beforehand to thank you for your service to the Empire. You will, of course, be reappointed to the Senate as my reign begins.”
After a short time, Nicolai was led out of the audience chamber and out of the palace. He was stunned, and it took him some time to meet with the other Senators, who had also had similar experiences this morning. By now, rumors were spreading throughout the city regarding the day’s events, and speculation as to the fate of the royal family was rampant: the family had been stuck down by plague and Veronica the lone survivor, raised by servants; the family had turned on each other for power, killing each other through the years; Andronikos had led a reign of terror before he was struck down by God; Andronikos had led a reign of terror, but had been killed by Veronica when he sought to assault her. It would never be known what had happened, the only witnesses other than Veronica were unable to speak and so could never tell.
The next day, the announcement went from the palace: Veronica would be crowned Empress on New Year’s Day, and immediately after would address the Senate.
Note: if you are capable, you should follow this AAR on the paradox forums. Those who respond in-character there will get in-character replies in the following updates. More here.
In Africa, much has changed. West Africa had been organized as a series of vassals to the Empire, except for most of the coast, which remained under direct Imperial administration. South Africa had completely fallen to Imperial control, though the Somali beeralayda (farmers) were chafing under the Imperial rules. There was even talk of a mass migration into the interior of Southern Africa. In eastern Africa, Gondar and Sennar had completely collapsed, most of their lands now ruled by Ethiopia. Adal had recovered some of the Swahili lands they had ruled off-and-on for centuries, with Ethiopia having inherited the rest. Adal’s long attempts to gain control over the Tanganyika Territory had finally failed, though they still maintained control over Madagascan affairs. Mutapa, despite a lack of modern organization, had held on to their territory.
In South America, La Plata and Colombia had gained self-governance from the Empire. Peru had negotiated with Russia to regain their coastal provinces as well. England remained primarily Brazilian, with Anglo-Saxons in the northeast and in most positions of power through out the nation.
North America was largely split between Canada in the north (including territories on the western coast), Mexico in the south and west, and the USA in the east. New England was a small Iroquois-dominated nation freed from English control and nestled between Canada and the USA. Alaska was split between the control of Russia and Peru, neither of which had much more than loose claims to it.
Europe had begun to solidify its borders. In the east, Russia bordered Livonia and Ukraine, and controlled Finland, a convenient border-state between them and the united Scandinavia. In the west, the German lands were being slowly united, though Denmark still stood strong, and both Scandinavia and Hungary were poised to expand into the more disorganized parts. Hungary had bought the Transylvanian region from the Empire, who recognized that the people there would be more happily ruled by a culturally similar nation. Poland stood proud and stable between Livonia, Ukraine, Hungary, and the German territories.
Central Asia was dominated by Russia in the north, with Khiva ruling the various Altaic peoples to the south. Under the Roman aegis, Persia ruled in the land of ancient empires, with Iraq ruling Mesopotamia. Likewise, under Roman guidance, Hedjaz ruled most of Arabia (Saana controlling the north-eastern area). East of Persia and south of Khiva were Baluchistan and Khorisan, the first of the Muslim states.
In India, Deccan’s attempted defense of Mali against the Empire had proved disastrous. They had been split into several states, which were given to Hindu rulers whenever possible. The subcontinent had been nearly united under Deccan’s rule and was mostly Muslim. Now it was embroiled in civil wars, wars of conquest, rebellions, and religious turmoil.
Eastern Asia was dominated by the Ming, who had nearly reunited their old Chinese lands that had for centuries fallen away. To their north, the Manchu remained quiescent, though coveted the bit of Korea not under their control. Even further north, Russia and Iraq competed to settle the steppes. Japan was ruled by the Tachibana Shogunate, who had nearly quashed all resistance to their rule.
Internally, the Empire had learned better provisioning both for the Legions and the navy. As well, the Legions were now formed as local regiments, better improving the ties between the soldiers. More government power was focused on protecting trade, and the Legions had further insisted on having quality soldiers instead of more soldiers (not that the Empire had any shortage of soldiers).
The world had changed much in the past 400 years.
There were now 92 well defined states (if some were fighting for their very existence against aggressive neighbors), where before there had been 161 proto-states, territories, and Empires waiting to fall apart.
Orthodox Christianity had become the dominant religion of the world, with almost everyone in Europe, central Asia, north Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Americas practicing some form of the faith. Islam had been pushed into India (where it almost entirely replaced Hinduism) and Indonesia. Confucianism and Buddhism competed for the souls of east Asia, while Japan continued to practice Shinto.
The ‘Persian plan’ as applied in Persia, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and the Russian steppes had led to a burgeoning of nationalistic thought. In many regions, a united culture had formed around the states that had pacified large territories. In others, such as Germany, or in the former colonial territories in the Americas, a nationalism around the existing culture led to the formation of new states. The next 100 years were bound to be dominated by the forces of nationalism.
While the Alexandrian Renaissance slowed in it’s inattentiveness, it was still rapid. The legions took advantage of advancements in explosives to begin retaining units of grenadiers. And the imperial cavalry mastered the art of mounted skirmishing with firearms.
The Legions used their experiences in fighting this war to again adjust their tactics, not even waiting for the war to be over (drilling in the new square formations no doubt alleviated the tedium of sieges).
After quite some time besieging various English fortresses and hunting down English armies, peace was made, England giving up lands in the Pacific Northwest and Africa, as well as freeing New England.
The difficulty of keeping the Legions supplied in Africa and India led to purposeful efforts in improving the ability to forage locally. Simultaneously, a grand prize was announced for methods of truly preserving food for long times.
Once that was done, Deccan was quick to agree to a harsh peace: they freed almost half their lands to local control. The locals given control were favorably those who were not Muslims (there still being a great fear of Muslims in the Empire, even three centuries after the Timurids had ceased to be a threat).
Even as the legions marched home, Alexander declared war on Novgorod-Seversk, annoyed at the existence of minor states between Russia and Ukraine. However, Russia did not seem to see that this would be a war in their favor, and joined the defense of the little nation.
Finland escaped from the war only giving up claims to territories they did not hold. Novgorod-Severesk was absorbed (and then sold to Russia). Russia gave Kola and Karelia to Scandinavia in a separate peace.
Shortly after this one of Adal’s provinces that had been occupied by the legions defected to the Empire. Adal soon after agreed to peace, giving up any claims to lands ruled by the Empire.
The war with England dragged on for years as the legions did their best to force the strong English forces to surrender. Meanwhile, Alexander behaved true to form and declared war on Mali as soon as the former truce ended. The war with Mali was won before the war with England was (their fortress-cities in eastern Siberia holding on for years).
While waiting for Gizhiga to fall to XI. Legio, the Empire was dragged into yet more wars: a Scandinavian adventure in India, and to defend Gotland against Denmark.
In 1808, the last English fortresses fell (and their navy made a last-ditch strike near Gibraltar, again smashing the fleet protecting the Mediterranean). England was forced to give up all lands outside of South America, and gave up claims on all lands they had previously lost. They were now just a regional power.
After only a year, Alexander again demonstrated his restlessness when he declared war on Bavaria. Peru, Baden, and Sanaa came to their defense. While IV. Legio lost the opening battle of the war, it was quite successful in harming the Bavarian ability to make war.
In June of 1815, Alexander declared war on Mali, bringing to its end the last of the slave selling states (it was annexed in September of 1818). But to Alexander’s dismay, there were still slaves being sold. While the Empire had been focused on what they thought was the source of slaves in West Africa, they were really being sold by Kongo. Alexander demanded the annexation of Kongo, and the trade was fully ended by October of 1818.
He appointed as heir his brother Andronikos—later known as Andronkios the mad—thus setting into effect the events of the 19th century.
And that’s it for EU3! I’ll do some summary posts while I work on the conversion. Is there anything you’d like to see mentioned or addressed?