The Empire Strikes Back 96 – The State of the Empire 1885-1890

I would like to formally address the transfer of my former title and position as administrator, protector and governor of Catalonia to the honorable and capable Senator Nicodemo Theodosio.This decree will place Catalonia officially back under Spanish jurisdiction. I would also like to thank the Empress for the opportunity to have served my home as a its representative in Imperial affairs. And to Senator Theodosio, I wish you luck with this beautiful and cultured land and to handle it with the care it deserves.
I also regret to announce that my direct involvement in this Senate will be more limited and rare, as I will be heavily focused on the development of my new governorship in Oceania. I will still return for occasional senate meetings and to attend to affairs closer to the heart of the empire. I hope for you all to make good decisions for the state and her people.
Long live the Empire!
– Senator Magnus Kvensson

A ship sailed into the great harbor of Constantinople.  It was a small ship with nothing sticking out about it.  All around the ship, the harbor was in utter ruins from Konstantinos’s Rebellion, but nobody on the ship bothered to pay attention to it.
In fact, there was no living being on the ship.

The ship slammed into the nearest dock and came to a halt, workers scrambling to avoid the debris.  The instant the ship touched land, a large black dog leaped up from below the deck and rushed off the ship, quickly disappearing into the alleys and crowds of Constantinople.
The workers did not pay attention to the dog.  Instead, they were staring at the body of a sailor standing at the helm, his hands roped to the wheel and his eyes wide open as if in shock.

I would like to propose to the Senate and her majesty, that we prohibit weaponry and personal guards in the senate hall from this day forth. Twice now the senate has been attacked and something must be done. I propose that the Empress assigns personal guards to the senate whose sole duty is to protect our meetings. Personal weapons should be limited and all visitors should be searched. Also, a perimeter should be established of 100 yards around the senate building that only selected personnel should be allowed to enter. The senate must feel confident that they won’t be threatened. If we must constantly look over our shoulders for danger, then we won’t be able to focus on the needs of the land.

Second, while the situation seems to be that the people are calling for assistance from the government, I say it needs to be in moderation. The liberties of the people are at stake, The Communists and Socialists must not be allowed to push their agenda without limitations. Some changes are necessary, but the burdens on liberty and the budget will be uncountable if the Socialists accomplish their goals. I’m personally in favor of educational benefits now and some safety regulations. Anything else should wait till we’ve seen the effects of those policies.

-Heraclius Komnenos

to its  majesty
as your new chief of the navy i would like to request more funds to build up the navy or at least allow for more ships to patrol the harbor of the capital or at the very least grant me some fund to hire guards to inspect all arriving ships to prevent this from happening again. .reports have reach me of a mysterious ship docking at the harbor of the capital with a man at the helm dead looking shocked .the investigation has no found anything about the ship except that there might have been someone on the ship when it docked but i cannot confirm that assumption.

Senator Alexander Smithereens
chief of the navy


Senator Moustakas resigns and mysteriously disappears


Some time later, in late December 1889, several Senators are spending time in the Senate Hall.

The Senate Floor seems pretty quiet.

-Magnus Kvensson

It is in recess after Senator Moustakos disappeared.

-Ambrosio Palaiologo

A new Senator appears and introduces himself.

Hello fellow Senators, I am Venédiktos Nguyen-Climaco. I am glad to be here, to put my skills and knowledge to the service of Her Imperial Majesty, Defender of Eastern Christendom, the Guardian of the Hagia Sophia, Queen of the Holy City, Custodian of the Holy Sepulchre, Successor to most august Constantine, Equal to the Apostles, Princess of Alexandria, Protectress of Antioch, Ruler of Daqin, Empress of Rome.

-Venédiktos Nguyen-Climaco

… and of her other realms and colonies, Empress.

-Ioannes Angelos

Did you just try to insult the Empress?!  You’re lucky she’s not in the room right now.  For that matter, why are we still here?  The next session is yet to begin for a few days.

~Michael Doukas

I think we’re just amusing ourselves by watching the cleaners attempting to not stand on any of the carpets whilst still trying to clean them.

-Ioannes Angelos

Michael is slightly bored but does not feel like going home.  Luckily, he has brought a newspaper with him.
Hey, did you read the news today?  Said something about a ship sailing into port and docking…all without a single living crew member onboard.  Don’t know what to make of it.  I’ve got a copy of the captain’s log here if you can make any sense of it.  Based on the dates written it appears the ship went significantly off-course, apparently going around the entire Black Sea for over a month before arriving at Constantinople.  Strange, eh?

Log Of The “Demetrios”, Varna to Constantinople

Written 18 July, things so strange happening, that I shall keep accurate note henceforth till we land.

On 6 July we finished taking in cargo, silver sand and boxes of earth. At noon set sail. East wind, fresh. Crew, five hands . . . two mates, cook, and myself, (captain).

On 13 July Crew dissatisfied about something. Seemed scared, but would not speak out.

On 14 July was somewhat anxious about crew. Men all steady fellows, who sailed with me before. Mate could not make out what was wrong. They only told him there was SOME- THING, and crossed themselves. Mate lost temper with one of them that day and struck him. Expected fierce quarrel, but all was quiet.

On 16 July mate reported in the morning that one of the crew, Petrofsky, was missing. Could not account for it. Took larboard watch eight bells last night, was relieved by Amramoff, but did not go to bunk. Men more downcast than ever. All said they expected something of the kind, but would not say more than there was SOMETHING aboard. Mate getting very impatient with them. Feared some trouble ahead.

On 17 July, yesterday, one of the men, Olgaren, came to my cabin, and in an awestruck way confided to me that he thought there was a strange man aboard the ship. He said that in his watch he had been sheltering behind the deckhouse, as there was a rain storm, when he saw a tall, thin man, who was not like any of the crew, come up the companionway, and go along the deck forward and disappear. He followed cautiously, but when he got to bows found no one, and the hatchways were all closed. He was in a panic of superstitious fear, and I am afraid the panic may spread. To allay it, I shall today search the entire ship carefully from stem to stern.
Later in the day I got together the whole crew, and told them, as they evidently thought there was some one in the ship, we would search from stem to stern. First mate angry, said it was folly, and to yield to such foolish ideas would demoralise the men, said he would engage to keep them out of trouble with the handspike. I let him take the helm, while the rest began a thorough search, all keeping abreast, with lanterns. We left no corner unsearched. As there were only the big wooden boxes, there were no odd corners where a man could hide. Men much relieved when search over, and went back to work cheerfully. First mate scowled, but said nothing.

22 July.–Rough weather last three days, and all hands busy with sails, no time to be frightened. Men seem to have forgotten their dread. Mate cheerful again, and all on good terms. Praised men for work in bad weather. All well.

24 July.–There seems some doom over this ship. Already a hand short, and wild weather ahead, and yet last night another man lost, disappeared. Like the first, he came off his watch and was not seen again. Men all in a panic of fear, sent a round robin, asking to have double watch, as they fear to be alone. Mate angry. Fear there will be some trouble, as either he or the men will do some violence.

28 July.–Four days in hell, knocking about in a sort of malestrom, and the wind a tempest. No sleep for any one. Men all worn out. Hardly know how to set a watch, since no one fit to go on. Second mate volunteered to steer and watch, and let men snatch a few hours sleep. Wind abating, seas still terrific, but feel them less, as ship is steadier.  We seem to be lost, as we should have been in Constantinople last week.

29 July.–Another tragedy. Had single watch tonight, as crew too tired to double. When morning watch came on deck could find no one except steersman. Raised outcry, and all came on deck. Thorough search, but no one found. Are now without second mate, and crew in a panic. Mate and I agreed to go armed henceforth and wait for any sign of cause.

30 July.–Last night. Rejoiced we are nearing Constantinople. Weather fine, all sails set. Retired worn out, slept soundly, awakened by mate telling me that both man of watch and steersman missing. Only self and mate and two hands left to work ship.

1 August.–Two days of fog, and not a sail sighted. Had hoped when in the Bosphorus to be able to signal for help or get in somewhere. Not having power to work sails, have to run before wind. Dare not lower, as could not raise them again. We seem to be drifting to some terrible doom. Mate now more demoralised than either of men. His stronger nature seems to have worked inwardly against himself. Men are beyond fear, working stolidly and patiently, with minds made up to worst. They are Ukrainian, he Roumanian [sic].  I’m the last surviving Greek.

2 August, midnight.–Woke up from few minutes sleep by hearing a cry, seemingly outside my port. Could see nothing in fog. Rushed on deck, and ran against mate. Tells me he heard cry and ran, but no sign of man on watch. One more gone. Lord, help us! Mate says we must be past Straits of Dardanelles, as in a moment of fog lifting he saw land, just as he heard the man cry out. If so only God can guide us in the fog, which seems to move with us, and God seems to have deserted us.

3 August.–At midnight I went to relieve the man at the wheel and when I got to it found no one there. The wind was steady, and as we ran before it there was no yawing. I dared not leave it, so shouted for the mate. After a few seconds, he rushed up on deck in his flannels. He looked wild-eyed and haggard, and I greatly fear his reason has given way. He came close to me and whispered hoarsely, with his mouth to my ear, as though fearing the very air might hear. “It is here. I know it now. On the watch last night I saw It, like a man, tall and thin, and ghastly pale. It was in the bows, and looking out. I crept behind It, and gave it my knife, but the knife went through It, empty as the air.” And as he spoke he took the knife and drove it savagely into space. Then he went on, “But It is here, and I’ll find It. It is in the hold, perhaps in one of those boxes. I’ll unscrew them one by one and see. You work the helm.” And with a warning look and his finger on his lip, he went below. There was springing up a choppy wind, and I could not leave the helm. I saw him come out on deck again with a tool chest and lantern, and go down the forward hatchway. He is mad, stark, raving mad, and it’s no use my trying to stop him. He can’t hurt those big boxes, they are invoiced as clay, and to pull them about is as harmless a thing as he can do. So here I stay and mind the helm, and write these notes. I can only trust in God and wait till the fog clears. Then, if I can’t steer to any harbour with the wind that is, I shall cut down sails, and lie by, and signal for help . . .
It is nearly all over now. Just as I was beginning to hope that the mate would come out calmer, for I heard him knocking away at something in the hold, and work is good for him, there came up the hatchway a sudden, startled scream, which made my blood run cold, and up on the deck he came as if shot from a gun, a raging madman, with his eyes rolling and his face convulsed with fear. “Save me! Save me!” he cried, and then looked round on the blanket of fog. His horror turned to despair, and in a steady voice he said,”You had better come too, captain, before it is too late. He is there! I know the secret now. The sea will save me from Him, and it is all that is left!” Before I could say a word, or move forward to seize him, he sprang on the bulwark and deliberately threw himself into the sea. I suppose I know the secret too, now. It was this madman who had got rid of the men one by one, and now he has followed them himself. God help me! How am I to account for all these horrors when I get to port? When I get to port! Will that ever be?

4 August.–Still fog, which the sunrise cannot pierce, I know there is sunrise because I am a sailor, why else I know not. I dared not go below, I dared not leave the helm, so here all night I stayed, and in the dimness of the night I saw it, Him! God, forgive me, but the mate was right to jump overboard. It was better to die like a man. To die like a sailor in blue water, no man can object. But I am captain, and I must not leave my ship. But I shall baffle this fiend or monster, for I shall tie my hands to the wheel when my strength begins to fail, and along with them I shall tie that which He, It, dare not touch. And then, come good wind or foul, I shall save my soul, and my honour as a captain. I am growing weaker, and the night is coming on. If He can look me in the face again, I may not have time to act . . .If we are wrecked, mayhap this bottle may be found, and those who find it may understand. If not . . . well, then all men shall know that I have been true to my trust. God and the Blessed Virgin and the Saints help a poor ignorant soul trying to do his duty…

Well, I’m glad about this new Senator. It’ll be nice not being the only one in here without a Roman last name. I think he’ll help with the public relations of the Empire among her citizens, too. It gives off sort of a “empire of the people” feeling.
(Magnus takes a sip from a canteen stored in his inner coat pocket.)
The Empress being hell bent on being more socialist anyway.

-Magnus Kvensson

Ioannes makes a face, which is probably intended to be reassuring, but looks rather more like he’s simply not used to that expression.

“This new chap with the unpronounceable surname does at least have a good Roman first name.  Of course, it’s Western Roman, rather than Eastern, but we can’t have it all, eh?”

-Ioannes Angelos

Michael puts aside his newspaper on a table next to him.
Hopefully the new guy means we’re going to have some more diversity in the Senate which would better represent the population of the Empire.  I remember when my grandfather was a young man and new to the Senate.  He did a lot in his lifetime.  Who’s to say this newcomer can’t do the same?

-Michael Doukas

Bah more old Orthodox conservatives, will have to place a call to our parties representatives in the Phillipines and have them redouble their efforts to spread the word of the workers destiny to lead to the people.

With that Αιδεν returns to pour over a recent missives from London from some guys called Engels and Marx.

-Αιδεν Γκρέυ

Speaking of strange names, I’m looking for a agronomist named Aaron Aaronsohn in Palestine to help with the agricultural development of Oceania Major.
Magnus chuckles to himself
His was the first name to come up.
– Magnus Kvensson

Leonardo Favero chuckled to himself.  The recent Senate meetings had been quite dull.  To amuse himself, he had secretly changed the names on one of the senator’s name plates and the man had just noticed the glaring mistake.  A meaningless diversion, but an amusing one nonetheless.  Maybe next he’d forge a letter from the Empress to some zealous leftist requesting their presence on the other side of the city just to see them rush across Constantinople.  Yes, that sounded quite fun indeed.


A messenger then arrives, carrying a stack of notices and leading a construction team.

Oh, hello Senators! I’ve come with the notice for the next State of the Empire Address. As always, it will be on January first, over in Blachernae Palace. These are the newspapers the archivists considered significant.

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And these workmen are here to update your world map.
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A revolution in Russia and they still expand.  They will always be a threat to the Empire.  We must keep a watchful eye on them and strike when necessary.  It would seem that they have been at conflict with the Japanese.  Perhaps we should seek friendly relations with them as a countermeasure.

– Senator Leonardo Favero, Governor of Italy

It is good that we have established friendly ties with the Chinese.  The Ming Empire, should we manage to sign a formal alliance with them, will help us greatly in countering Russian expansion into Asia.  I trust that our friends in India are doing well against the Russian bear?  The Germans and Ruthenians continue to expand, and we must be ready to stop them should they go too far.

More dinosaurs!  I’ve always been interested in these beasts.

In other news, I am proud to announce that the technology of mechanized mining has been fully integrated and put to good use in Syria-Palestrina.  Production efficiency has risen significantly, and industrial output has never been higher.  I’ve never seen anything so efficient like this before!

Reactionaries break Vietnam…worrying, as that would leave them weak and open to Russian invasion, which we cannot allow.

And what have the Cherokee come up with this time?  Coca-wine?  How is this a cure for morphine addiction?!  I want to read the scientific paper they published proving this claim!  (quietly grabs some coca-wine to drink)

The Polish-Lithuanians want an alliance, ostensibly against Russia?  That sounds reasonable.

~Michael Doukas

Has anyone else noticed these flame-less lights around the Empire.  I was passing through Trieste and they had them lighting up the main streets at night.  Seemed like witchcraft at first.

– Senator Leonardo Favero, Governor of Italy

Flame-less lights…interesting.  I’ve found a few in Jerusalem and found them quite efficient and smell-less.

~Doukas

The wonders they make in the Empire these days.  Next thing you know we’ll have horseless carriages or a device that allows nearly instantaneous communication from one end of the Empire to the next.  I am glad the Empire is so prosperous that we can continue to develop such miraculous inventions.

– Senator Leonardo Favero

It seems that Japan lost their war against Russia as Outer Manchuria is still in Russian hands. Let us hope that those revolutionary “Jacobins” don’t plan to spread their revolution beyond Russian border.

I have to say that this nitroglycerin is very useful, thanks to it’s spread in (North) Africa, we can already see faster and more efficient mining.

– Senator Alexandros Damaskinos

“I am pleased to report that Macedonian engineers have succeeded in introducing mechanised mining equipment to the province.  This will increase industry in the area and improve the lives of the workers there.  Never let it be said that the Angeloi are not mindful of their populace!”

-Ioannes Angelos

Britannia has been advancing technologically very quickly. We were the first province to have electricity! However,I would like to complain about sub- par working conditions in the mines. We NEED better safety regulations to prevent preventable deaths from happening in the mines, which is common in Britannia.

-Ambrosio Palaiologo

“Mechanise and move the workers elsewhere.  It’s more efficient and fewer people die.  Everybody wins.”

-Ioannes Angelos

Thank you, Senator. The peoples of Asia are loyal subjects of the Empire and a proud part of the Roman world. Our names may reflect our respective ethnicities but Romanitas is what binds us to Rome.

As for my Western Roman name, my mother is a deep admirer of the Western monastic St Benedict of Nursia who lived during the times when the barbarians held sway in the Roman West.

Your Imperial Majesty, I shall eagerly await your Address. Generally, I support greater Roman presence and the spread of Holy Orthodoxy in our side of the world. It seems to be an auspicious time for our relations with the Middle Kingdom, though the Ming are generally suspicious of Western faiths, they view us more favourably than the Russian Bear in the north.

I am also appealing to Your Imperial Majesty for my mother’s homeland of Viet Nam, which has fallen to local reactionaries. Perhaps something can be done about the matter before Russia intrudes?

In eternal fealty to our divinely-appointed Empress,

Senator Nguyen-Climaco

You know what they say, this is an age of progress.  Soon we’ll have trains that can fly like birds and books that don’t need paper!

I agree, we should probably do something about Dai Viet, as the reactionaries have weakened them, giving the Russians an opportunity to expand.

~Michael Doukas

Our best and brightest believe that there is even more this electric current will be able to do in the future. Perhaps even reverse death. Of course my own province has been leading the way in experimentation in this matter.

We must push back reactionaries wherever they are and these lands do have some economic and power projection rewards if they happened to fall under our protection.

-Αιδεν Γκρέυ

Gentlemen, if I may say, I believe we have nothing to fear from the Russian Bear. Our legions are the strongest in the world and if we continue to invest and maintain relations with India, we will have the military strength of two empires. The only other improvements we could make is to possibly ally Japan in order to blockade their eastern provinces. Or if the Chief of the Navy allow it, the financing of new ports in the Oceania region and a new or reassigned Oceanic fleet?

-Magnus Kvensson

how long can we afford a war against the Russian bear before our money and manpower reserves run out considering we have to keep a number of troops back ti keep order and prevent rebellion
Alexander Smithereens

While I have nothing against allying with the honorable people of Japan, I believe that the ultimate solution for countering Russian expansion in Asia lies with the Ming.  Should we ally with India, Japan, and Ming, we will have the power of four empires to counter Russia.  The Russians may have a large manpower pool, but the Chinese have an equally large if not larger manpower pool, which is critical to block off their expansion.  I would recommend sending equipment and advisors to train and arm the Chinese troops so that they can help us against the Russians.

Smithereens, should we ally with the Chinese and Indians manpower likely won’t be a problem for the Empire.

I would support a new imperial fleet in Oceania should we have enough funds to support it.  I fear that the UTA may begin trying to expand into the Pacific…

~Michael Doukas

((Private: From the journal of Mara Dalassenos))

Diary again. No sleep now, so I may as well write. I am too agitated to sleep. We have had such an adventure, such an agonizing experience. I fell asleep as soon as I had closed my diary . . .Suddenly I became broad awake, and sat up, with a horrible sense of fear upon me, and of some feeling of emptiness around me. The room was dark, so I could not see Loukia’s bed. I stole across and felt for her. The bed was empty. I lit a match and found that she was not in the room. The door was shut, but not locked, as I had left it. I feared to wake her mother, who has been more than usually ill lately, so threw on some clothes and got ready to look for her. As I was leaving the room it struck me that the clothes she wore might give me some clue to her dreaming intention. Dressing-gown would mean house, dress outside. Dressing-gown and dress were both in their places. “Thank God,” I said to myself, “she cannot be far, as she is only in her nightdress.”
I ran downstairs and looked in the sitting room. Not there! Then I looked in all the other rooms of the house, with an ever-growing fear chilling my heart. Finally, I came to the hall door and found it open. It was not wide open, but the catch of the lock had not caught. The people of the house are careful to lock the door every night, so I feared that Loukia must have gone out as she was. There was no time to think of what might happen. A vague over-mastering fear obscured all details.
I took a big, heavy shawl and ran out. The clock was striking one as I was in the Crescent, and there was not a soul in sight. I ran along the North Terrace, but could see no sign of the white figure which I expected. At the edge of the West Cliff above the pier I looked across the harbour to the other side, in the hope or fear, I don’t know which, of seeing Loukia in our favorite seat.
There was a bright full moon, with heavy black, driving clouds, which threw the whole scene into a fleeting diorama of light and shade as they sailed across. For a moment or two I could see nothing, as the shadow of a cloud obscured the church and all around it. Then as the cloud passed I could see the ruins of the abbey coming into view, and as the edge of a narrow band of light as sharp as a sword-cut moved along, the church and churchyard became gradually visible. Whatever my expectation was, it was not disappointed, for there, on our favorite seat, the silver light of the moon struck a half-reclining figure, snowy white. The coming of the cloud was too quick for me to see much, for shadow shut down on light almost immediately, but it seemed to me as though something dark stood behind the seat where the white figure shone, and bent over it. What it was, whether man or beast, I could not tell.
I did not wait to catch another glance, but flew down the steep steps to the pier and along by the fish-market to the bridge, which was the only way to reach the East Cliff. The town seemed as dead, for not a soul did I see. I rejoiced that it was so, for I wanted no witness of poor Loukia’s condition. The time and distance seemed endless, and my knees trembled and my breath came laboured as I toiled up the endless steps to the abbey. I must have gone fast, and yet it seemed to me as if my feet were weighted with lead, and as though every joint in my body were rusty.
When I got almost to the top I could see the seat and the white figure, for I was now close enough to distinguish it even through the spells of shadow. There was undoubtedly something, long and black, bending over the half-reclining white figure. I called in fright, “Loukia! Loukia!” and something raised a head, and from where I was I could see a white face and red, gleaming eyes.
Loukia did not answer, and I ran on to the entrance of the churchyard. As I entered, the church was between me and the seat, and for a minute or so I lost sight of her. When I came in view again the cloud had passed, and the moonlight struck so brilliantly that I could see Loukia half reclining with her head lying over the back of the seat. She was quite alone, and there was not a sign of any living thing about.
When I bent over her I could see that she was still asleep. Her lips were parted, and she was breathing, not softly as usual with her, but in long, heavy gasps, as though striving to get her lungs full at every breath. As I came close, she put up her hand in her sleep and pulled the collar of her nightdress close around her, as though she felt the cold. I flung the warm shawl over her, and drew the edges tight around her neck, for I dreaded lest she should get some deadly chill from the night air, unclad as she was. I feared to wake her all at once, so, in order to have my hands free to help her, I fastened the shawl at her throat with a big safety pin. But I must have been clumsy in my anxiety and pinched or pricked her with it, for by-and-by, when her breathing became quieter, she put her hand to her throat again and moaned. When I had her carefully wrapped up I put my shoes on her feet, and then began very gently to wake her.
At first she did not respond, but gradually she became more and more uneasy in her sleep, moaning and sighing occasionally. At last, as time was passing fast, and for many other reasons, I wished to get her home at once, I shook her forcibly, till finally she opened her eyes and awoke. She did not seem surprised to see me, as, of course, she did not realize all at once where she was.
Loukia always wakes prettily, and even at such a time,when her body must have been chilled with cold, and her mind somewhat appalled at waking unclad in a churchyard at night, she did not lose her grace. She trembled a little, and clung to me. When I told her to come at once with me home, she rose without a word, with the obedience of a child. As we passed along, the gravel hurt my feet, and Loukia noticed me wince. She stopped and wanted to insist upon my taking my shoes, but I would not. However, when we got to the pathway outside the chruchyard, where there was a puddle of water, remaining from the storm, I daubed my feet with mud, using each foot in turn on the other, so that as we went home, no one, in case we should meet any one, should notice my bare feet.
Fortune favoured us, and we got home without meeting a soul. Once we saw a man, who seemed not quite sober, passing along a street in front of us. But we hid in a door till he had disappeared up an opening such as there are here, steep little closes. My heart beat so loud all the time sometimes I thought I should faint. I was filled with anxiety about Loukia, not only for her health, lest she should suffer from the exposure, but for her reputation in case the story should get wind. When we got in, and had washed our feet, and had said a prayer of thankfulness together, I tucked her into bed. Before falling asleep she asked, even implored, me not to say a word to any one, even her mother, about her sleepwalking adventure.
I hesitated at first, to promise, but on thinking of the state of her mother’s health, and how the knowledge of such a thing would fret her, and think too, of how such a story might become distorted, nay, infallibly would, in case it should leak out, I thought it wiser to do so. I hope I did right. I have locked the door, and the key is tied to my wrist, so perhaps I shall not be again disturbed. Loukia is sleeping soundly. The reflex of the dawn is high and far over the sea . . .
Same day, noon.–All goes well. Loukia slept till I woke her and seemed not to have even changed her side. The adventure of the night does not seem to have harmed her, on the contrary, it has benefited her, for she looks better this morning than she has done for weeks. I was sorry to notice that my clumsiness with the safety-pin hurt her. Indeed, it might have been serious, for the skin of her throat was pierced. I must have pinched up a piece of loose skin and have transfixed it, for there are two little red points like pin-pricks, and on the band of her nightdress was a drop of blood. When I apologised and was concerned about it, she laughed and petted me, and said she did not even feel it. Fortunately it cannot leave a scar, as it is so tiny.
Same day, night.–We passed a happy day. The air was clear, and the sun bright, and there was a cool breeze. We took our lunch in downtown, Mrs. Melissenos driving by the road and Loukia and I walking by the cliff-path and joining her at the gate. I felt a little sad myself, for I could not but feel how absolutely happy it would have been had Ioannes been with me. But there! I must only be patient. In the evening we strolled in the Terrace, and heard some good music by Spiridon and Makedon, and went to bed early. Loukia seems more restful than she has been for some time, and fell asleep at once. I shall lock the door and secure the key the same as before, though I do not expect any trouble tonight.

I agree with the other senators. Blocking Russian expansion is for the best. I advise that we halt our expansion and refrain from taking lands to block Russian expansion. The larger and more widespread our population is, the harder it will be to govern and we are already dealing with a small rebellion problem. If the Empress can manage, what is the state of civilization and the armed forces in the nations of China, Japan, and India. I ask so that we may provide you with sound advice.

I would also like to address the other member of the Senate with a proposal to ban personal weapons and personal guards from the senate chambers. Also, a search of any non-senators and prohibitions towards any outside members entering the Senate, unless approved by the Empress or the Senate themselves.

-Heraclius Komnenos

i hate to agree but at this moment we are in danger of overstretching our army and i fear that if we continue expanding our army would be ill prepare for any major rebellion  specially one that is  spread all over the empire and specially if we are at war and we probably cannot spare troops to be playing Whac-A-Mole when they are needed at the front .

Alexander Smithereens

What is this Whac-A-Mole you speak of?

-Michael Doukas

Whac-A-Mole is a expression i use  for trying to keep  up  preventing  the people from rebelling except that as soon as you shut down one group another appears and it keeps spreading and soon you cannot keep up with the rebels because they are all over the place and the army is too spread out to effectively do its job

Alexander Smithereens

We are the Roman Empire! We need no allies to crush the Russian bear. The Russian bear is merely a facade which can be torn through by our elite legions. Rapid advances into the main Russian cities with good supply lines and strong flanks will easily force the Russians to concede defeat. We will achieve good supply lines through trains and road development while our allies and auxiliaries will hold the flanks as the main legions push. We must civilize those Russian savages! If we are to have an Eastern ally, it will be Ming. They will drain Russian manpower more than Japan. I would also like to thank the VII. Claudia Legion for defending Britannia so well and I would also like to advocate better safety regulations to rein in unrestrained capitalism. Hail Rome! Hail Rome! Hail the Empire!

-Senator Ambrosio Palaiologos, Propraetor of Rome, Duke of Nicaea, and governor of Britannia

If I may, again, Senators. I believe a way to solve the problems of manpower in our official, well-trained, and “Roman” legions would to allow colonies and other govenorships farther away from the heart land of the empire to police themselves. Giving these people slightly more autonomy and letting them hold themselves accountable for their actions. The appointment of native officials into more post in these regions would help possibly lower their risk of revolt as well. Yet, these legions and officials should still enforce the most important of Roman culture and law, with variations between regions to appeal the natives. Thus, this variation of “home rule” will allow more legions to relocate to more important areas mainly along the Russian boarder.

-Magnus Kvensson

I disagree with Senator Kvensson. Such a proposal is sure to raise the banners of minority nationalism which would tear this great empire apart. We must maintain control of our colonies as our bureaucrats and our empress know what is best for the empire. Home rule will be a facade for nationalist agitation and will be followed by revolution, rebellion, and war. Our Roman legions are strong enough to defeat Russia with garrisons in every province. We can mobilize or enlist more men in our legions to crush Russia decisively in a quick war. Rome forever! For Empress Veronica! Hail the Empire!

-Senator Ambrosio Palaiologos, governor of Britannia, propraetor of Rome, and Duke of Nicaea


Senators,

Given the rebellions of the last several years, We sought to better understand the workings of the mind, that We might better understand and govern the peoples of the Empire.

Initially, the research of the new Department of Psychology at the University on Constantinople focused on understanding how the mind forms associations from repeated experiences.
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On the recommendations of many Senators, We began a program of better the defenses of Constantinople, as well as recruiting an expanded Scholai Palatinae. The expanded Scholai Palatinae was drawn from families already living near The City.

A new legion, XXXIII. Legio, was drawn from XVI. Legio in Durban and sent to Walvis Bay in south-western Africa. Likewise, XXXIV. Legio was split from XXXII. Legio in Sassandra and sent to Dakhla in north-western Africa. Finally, XXXV. Legio was split from XII. Legio in Luanda and sent to Baromo, deep in central Africa. IX. Legio in Tunis was transported to Ekaterinodar, on the Russian border. The Light fleet was divided among the five assigned transport fleets.

By May, the Psychology Department had scoured the knowledge of associationism from within the Empire and requested support to study the means by which the mind forms hypothesis from its associations. This support was given.
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By October, the psychologists had again gathered the known information. Then they pointed out that it had been shown that the mind could also be studied by scientific methods, and asked for support for learning from the other science departments in how to conduct appropriate studies. We gave Our support within the university, which helped overcome the skepticism of the other departments.
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The expanding knowledge of the mind did not help divert the small liberal rebellion of November 1885. Though the legions did. And in fact, it was shown that the psychological knowledge had quickly gone to better methods of training soldiers, improving the legions’ ability in battle.
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By May, experimental techniques had been developed, and it seemed the Empire’s needs lie elsewhere. The navy had been neglected, and so We asked the admiralty to improve ship designs based around modern weapons.
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When they had completed this work, We gave heed to the engineers who claimed they could make practical use of electricity, and gave them support to demonstrate their claims.
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Near the end of 1886, Hedjaz blamed Us for Filipino protests in the Visayas region. Later, when those protests had earned violent crackdowns, We declared war on Hedjaz in order to bring the Filipinos under Our protection.
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In February of 1887, after communist revolutions in Poland-Lithuania and Hungary, there was a large communist revolution in the Empire.
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During this revolution, the expanding Scholai Palatinae proved their worth as they repelled rebels who had risen with The City itself.
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While fighting the rebellion, the Filipino cause became critical, and We declared war on Hedjaz. XI. Legio did the usual work in the east, while I. Legio and XIX. Legio moved on the Hedjaz heartland. Meanwhile, the East Fleet also attacked any Hedjaz fleets that were forced out of port.
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As the communist revolution was finished off, the various administrators throughout the Empire saw clearly that accommodations with the workers of the Empire must be made.
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We used this new support to enforce minimum wages throughout the Empire, as people desperately wanted.
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And by September 1887, Hedjaz surrendered. They instead were worried about India, who had declared war on them for the last of their Indian territory.
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Shortly thereafter, the basics of making electricity practical were completed.
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We directed the Humanities department to better explain the attitudes of Revolution and Counter-revolution in the hopes of avoiding more bloody rebellions.
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During this time, tensions in the Philippines kept growing. Particularly in Iraqi-held parts of the islands, which caused spill-over violence into the Imperial-administered parts.
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As the research into revolutions completed, We asked the businessmen in the Empire to find ways of making their workers more efficient.
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The discovery of rubber in Africa was intriguing for the development of electronics.

And We gave synagogues in Israel the same legal standing as churches, hopefully allowing for better integration of the Empire’s Jewish population.
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March of 1889 saw a small uprising of Spanish Nationalists, easily put down.
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When the time saving measures had been researched, We sought to save time in travel by improving the Empire’s railroads. Designs for steel engines were evaluated.
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In July of 1889, the situation with the Iraqi Philippines came to a head, and We declared war. I. Legio marched on Mosul, and XI. Legio moved to bring Palawan under order. It was over almost as soon as it began, as the slightest show of force was all it took to make them surrender.
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In November the designs for better railroads were complete, and some engineers claimed they could use the new petroleum fuels to make engines of unprecedented power. So We obliged them in their research.
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Progress  moves ever forward!

-Ambrosio Palaiologo

It appears that those communists just won’t stop.  Did we not give them their conference?  Did we not give the people the privileges they deserved?  Why, then, do these radicals keep trying to depose the Empress?  I must clarify, these radicals are not the same as our rational colleagues here in the Senate.  Let it be known that they will be treated the same way as any other traitors who rise up–with steel!
The Jews getting more rights?  If they don’t rebel, I’m all for it.
Nationalists?  I bet it’s the Russians trying to tear apart the Empire from within.
Nice work those boys at the Pandidakterion have done on researching psychology and counter-revolution.  Hopefully we won’t have another…

((In Michael’s mind))

-Foolish brother.  You never learn, do you?
-Konstantinos?  You’re dead, you can’t be here!
-How do you know?  I could be a figment of your imagination.  And those psychologists have determined that mental illnesses can occur in relatives of the afflicted.  Food for thought.  Get it?  Food FOR THOUGHT?!
-You did this!  Your supporters went around the Empire massacring anybody communist or non-Greek.  You caused the recent communist rebellion!  Those you oppressed are now turning on us!
-How do you know it wasn’t my failsafe all along?  If I can’t have the throne, nobody can.  The purging of heretics Markos and I carried out were twofold: first, I would eliminate any rebels and opposition should I become emperor; second, if my rebellion failed, those I massacred would take their anger out on you guys, as I’m dead.
-You won’t win, Konstantinos.
-I already have.  Those nationalists…how do you know there aren’t anymore of them?  How do you know Theodosio isn’t both a radical Communist and a Spanish nationalist?   He did take pride in his socialist ideals and his Spanish heritage.
-You can’t divide us, we are all loyal to the Empress.
-Oh please, brother, you have always felt this way.  You have always felt inferior to your older brother, always wanting a way to prove your worth to the Empire in a different way from me.  You have always been wary of your safety and that of the Empire.  How do you know who’s loyal and who’s not?  You can’t just ask them.
-Shut.  Up.  Now.

((Public))
Michael shook his head.  He couldn’t continue talking about this.  It was too painful.  But he had to speak up.
Hopefully we won’t have another rebellion.  But I must reiterate my points about reforms.  The people need their reforms and they need them soon.  Otherwise they will continue to revolt.  The Ministry of Security is working on better methods of tracking potential rebels and neutralizing rebellions before they begin.
And we must stay united in our loyalties too.  I know that with the recent uprisings we may be looking at the socialists and the Spanish with distrust, but that will only make things worse.  “Love thy neighbor,” says the Bible.  We are in a position to change things.  Our socialist senators can call for the radical communists to stand down.  Our conservative senators can appeal to the reactionaries.  Our liberal senators can appeal to the reformers and those who want change.  Together we can stand against any rebellions or enemies in our way.  But if we give in to fear and mistrust we will fall, just as the Old Empire did centuries ago.

((Private))
Michael looks up towards the doors, and for a second he though he saw Konstantinos standing there wearing purple-outlined robes, winking and holding a bloodied sword in his hand.

~Michael Doukas

***Meanwhile in a dank cavern under the Senate***

Hooded Figure 1: Dammit, thousands of our supporters cut down by the Legions. What is more galling is those waste of space Socialist got all the power!
Hooded Figure 2: Patience my young apprentice, did you think those were the most loyla of our supporters? No, they were just those we felt were expendable, plenty more fools to lead to the slaughter. Did you see what they called themselves “Imperial Communists”! Mwhahahaha, already those in power quake at the possibility that the sheep will turn and chase the shepherd.
HF 1: When do we reveal ourselves master?
HF 2: Not yet, I still have the Empress’s ear and we can use that to further our goals.
HF 1: I can not wait to reveal ourselves to these corrupt fat cats
HF 2: Soon young one, let the hate course through you. Grow strong and while we wait I have a new mission for you.

**** As we pull back from this scene to the Senate itself****
Traitors my naive Doukas??? No good true free men, who only seek a better life and true representation within these walls. If anything the reforms passed by this body do not go far enough to quell what could be a tidal wave that could overcome the Empire, I and my fellow members try to appeal to the people to wait that we can reform from within and yet we are stymied at every turn.

What man among us would not fight for a better life, who here can not say that they or thier ancestors have not fought and clawed to gain thier position?

And though I agree in part with the Duke of Nicea, that providing some autonomy would just cause jealousy and envy amongst other subjects. Instead we need to provide a reason for our people to want to fight, to be willing to serve the Empire as faithfully as we do, or most of us do. The Duke however notes that we could crush any revolution, even whilst at war, but imagine if that rebellion had of occurred whilst the legions were away in Russia or in America?

I put it that we need to push forward reforms, to allow voting and sweep some of the dead wood from this chamber!

Αιδεν Γκρέυ
Governor of Brittany, Chief of Staff

Αιδεν Γκρέυ , I appreciate your respect in calling me a Duke. However, I would appreciate it if you spelled the name of domain correctly, it is Nicaea, not Nicea. It is fine if you address me as duke, senator, propraetor, or governor. Bah, a whiff of high- explosive shrapnel or even grapeshot and the crowds would disperse. This Empire can easily defeat any other nation on the planet right now. We will always have enough men to crush ungrateful rebel scum. In the unlikely event that the legions are all deployed, we can mobilize our citizens to defeat them or use auxiliaries. However, I recommend the formation of the Imperial Guard, which all males between ages 18-25 must serve a year in. This will strengthen our pool of reservists.Hail Rome! Hail the Empire! Hail the Empress!

– Senator Ambrosio Palaiologos, Duke of Nicaea, governor of Britannia, and  propraetor of Rome

IMPERIUM ROMANUM
SPQR

I care not for whatever hell hole spawned your ilk, Palaiologos. Such talk about the people of our land, I am sure one as you would love to turn out even more of the poor to fight their own brothers!

You claim to seek this is in the best interests of our Empress, the mother of the Empire, all true Imperials know that the Empress holds us all as children to her bosom and protects each and everyone.

And men, I do not even think the word applies in your case, animals like you only concerned with protecting your ill gotten gains and keeping the people in chains. It is no longer the Empire of the 1200’s we are no longer serfs and chatels to be beaten into submission, the people of the Empire cry out as one for changes, and you reactionaries and conservatives demand a march through a lake of blood to maintain your wealth and position.

How long before the Legions themselves, tired of killing their own brothers and sisters, begin to feel that the Senate no longer serves the Empire. That the Empress listens to those who refuse to listen and begin to radicalise themselves. The thought of our own Legions marching on the capital must surely cause even the bravest of use to ponder a change in the course we take.

Αιδεν Γκρέυ
Governor of Brittany, Chief of Staff

((Private))

No diary for two whole days. I have not had the heart to write. Some sort of shadowy pall seems to be coming over our happiness. No news from Ioannes, and Loukia seems to be growing weaker, whilst her mother’s hours are numbering to a close. I do not understand Loukia’s fading away as she is doing. She eats well and sleeps well, and enjoys the fresh air, but all the time the roses in her cheeks are fading, and she gets weaker and more languid day by day. At night I hear her gasping as if for air.
I keep the key of our door always fastened to my wrist at night, but she gets up and walks about the room, and sits at the open window. Last night I found her leaning out when I woke up, and when I tried to wake her I could not.
She was in a faint. When I managed to restore her, she was weak as water, and cried silently between long, painful struggles for breath. When I asked her how she came to be at the window she shook her head and turned away.
I trust her feeling ill may not be from that unlucky prick of the safety-pin. I looked at her throat just now as she lay asleep, and the tiny wounds seem not to have healed. They are still open, and, if anything, larger than before, and the edges of them are faintly white. They are like little white dots with red centres. Unless they heal within a day or two, I shall insist on the doctor seeing about them.

~Mara

((Letter, Samuel F. Byrillios & Son, to Messrs. Cyrillos, Paternos & Co., Constantinople.))

“Dear Sirs, —

“Herewith please receive invoice of goods sent by railway. Same are to be delivered at [REDACTED], near [REDACTED], immediately on receipt at goods station Central Terminal. The house is at present empty, but enclosed please find keys, all of which are labelled.
“You will please deposit the boxes, fifty in number, which form the consignment, in the partially ruined building forming part of the house and marked `A’ on rough diagrams enclosed. Your agent will easily recognize the locality, as it is the ancient chapel of the mansion. The goods leave by the train at 9:30 tonight, and will be due at King’s Cross at 4:30 tomorrow afternoon. As our client wishes the delivery made as soon as possible, we shall be obliged by your having teams ready at Central Terminal at the time named and forthwith conveying the goods to destination. In order to obviate any delays possible through any routine requirements as to payment in your departments, we enclose cheque herewith for ten pounds, receipt of which please acknowledge. Should the charge be less than this amount, you can return balance, if greater, we shall at once send cheque for difference on hearing from you. You are to leave the keys on coming away in the main hall of the house, where the proprietor may get them on his entering the house by means of his duplicate key.
“Pray do not take us as exceeding the bounds of business courtesy in pressing you in all ways to use the utmost expedition.

“We are, dear Sirs,

“Faithfully yours,

“SAMUEL F. BYRILIOS & SON”

((Letter, Sister Agatha, Hospital Of St. Joseph And Ste. Mary Buda-Pesth, to Madama Mara Dalassenos))

“Dear Madam.

“I write by desire of Mr. Ioannes Dalassenos, who is himself not strong enough to write, though progressing well, thanks to God. He has been under our care for nearly six weeks, suffering from a violent brain fever. He wishes me to convey his love, and to say that by this post I write for him to his superiors, to say, with his dutiful respects, that he is sorry for his delay, and that the interrogation of the Count is completed, though heavy casualties were sustained. He will require some few weeks’ rest in our sanatorium in the hills, but will then return. He wishes me to say that he has not sufficient money with him, and that he would like to pay for his staying here, so that others who need shall not be wanting for help.

Believe me,

Yours, with sympathy and all blessings.

Sister Agatha”

“P. S.–My patient being asleep, I open this to let you know something more. He has told me all about you, and that you are shortly to be his wife. All blessings to you both! He has had some fearful shock, so says our doctor, and in his delirium his ravings have been dreadful, of wolves and poison and blood, of ghosts and demons, and I fear to say of what. Be careful of him always that there may be nothing to excite him of this kind for a long time to come. The traces of such an illness as his do not lightly die away. We should have written long ago, but we knew nothing of his friends, and there was nothing on him, nothing that anyone could understand. He came in the train from Wallachia, and the guard was told by the station master there that he rushed into the station shouting for a ticket for home. Seeing from his violent demeanor that he was Greek, they gave him a ticket for the furthest station on the way thither that the train reached.
“Be assured that he is well cared for. He has won all hearts by his sweetness and gentleness. He is truly getting on well, and I have no doubt will in a few weeks be all himself. But be careful of him for safety’s sake. There are, I pray God and St. Joseph and Ste.Mary, many, many, happy years for you both.”

((Dr. Stavridis’s Diary))
Strange and sudden change in Renato last night. About eight o’clock he began to get excited and sniff about as a dog does when setting. The attendant was struck by his manner, and knowing my interest in him, encouraged him to talk. He is usually respectful to the attendant and at times servile, but tonight, the man tells me, he was quite haughty. Would not condescend to talk with him at all.
All he would say was, “I don’t want to talk to you. You don’t count now. The master is at hand.”
The attendant thinks it is some sudden form of religious mania which has seized him. If so, we must look out for squalls, for a strong man with homicidal and religious mania at once might be dangerous. The combination is a dreadful one.
At Nine o’clock I visited him myself. His attitude to me was the same as that to the attendant. In his sublime selffeeling the difference between myself and the attendant seemed to him as nothing. It looks like religious mania, and he will soon think that he himself is God.
These infinitesimal distinctions between man and man are too paltry for an Omnipotent Being. How these madmen give themselves away! The real God taketh heed lest a sparrow fall. But the God created from human vanity sees no difference between an eagle and a sparrow. Oh, if men only knew!
For half an hour or more Renato kept getting excited in greater and greater degree. I did not pretend to be watching him, but I kept strict observation all the same. All at once that shifty look came into his eyes which we always see when a madman has seized an idea, and with it the shifty movement of the head and back which asylum attendants come to know so well. He became quite quiet, and went and sat on the edge of his bed resignedly, and looked into space with lack-luster eyes.
I thought I would find out if his apathy were real or only assumed, and tried to lead him to talk of his pets, a theme which had never failed to excite his attention.
At first he made no reply, but at length said testily, “Bother them all! I don’t care a pin about them.”
“What” I said. “You don’t mean to tell me you don’t care about spiders?” (Spiders at present are his hobby and the notebook is filling up with columns of small figures.)
To this he answered enigmatically, “The Bride maidens rejoice the eyes that wait the coming of the bride. But when the bride draweth nigh, then the maidens shine not to the eyes that are filled.”
He would not explain himself, but remained obstinately seated on his bed all the time I remained with him.
I am weary tonight and low in spirits. I cannot but think of Loukia, and how different things might have been. If I don’t sleep at once, chloral, the modern Morphios! I must be careful not to let it grow into a habit. No, I shall take none tonight! I have thought of Loukia, and I shall not dishonour her by mixing the two. If need by, tonight shall be sleepless.
Later.–Glad I made the resolution, gladder that I kept to it. I had lain tossing about, and had heard the clock strike only twice, when the night watchman came to me, sent up from the ward, to say that Renfield had escaped. I threw on my clothes and ran down at once. My patient is too dangerous a person to be roaming about. Those ideas of his might work out dangerously with strangers.
The attendant was waiting for me. He said he had seen him not ten minutes before, seemingly asleep in his bed, when he had looked through the observation trap in the door. His attention was called by the sound of the window being wrenched out. He ran back and saw his feet disappear through the window, and had at once sent up for me. He was only in his night gear, and cannot be far off.
The attendant thought it would be more useful to watch where he should go than to follow him, as he might lose sight of him whilst getting out of the building by the door. He is a bulky man, and couldn’t get through the window.
I am thin, so, with his aid, I got out, but feet foremost, and as we were only a few feet above ground landed unhurt.
The attendant told me the patient had gone to the left, and had taken a straight line, so I ran as quickly as I could. As I got through the belt of trees I saw a white figure scale the high wall which separates our grounds from those of the deserted house.
I ran back at once, told the watchman to get three or four men immediately and follow me into the grounds of [REDACTED], in case our friend might be dangerous. I got a ladder myself, and crossing the wall, dropped down on the other side. I could see Renato’s figure just disappearing behind the angle of the house, so I ran after him. On the far side of the house I found him pressed close against the old ironbound oak door of the chapel.
He was talking, apparently to some one, but I was afraid to go near enough to hear what he was saying, lest I might frighten him, and he should run off.
Chasing an errant swarm of bees is nothing to following a naked lunatic, when the fit of escaping is upon him! After a few minutes, however, I could see that he did not take note of anything around him, and so ventured to draw nearer to him, the more so as my men had now crossed the wall and were closing him in. I heard him say . . .
“I am here to do your bidding, Master. I am your slave, and you will reward me, for I shall be faithful. I have worshipped you long and afar off. Now that you are near, I await your commands, and you will not pass me by, will you, dear Master, in your distribution of good things?”
He is a selfish old beggar anyhow. He thinks of the loaves and fishes even when he believes his is in a real Presence. His manias make a startling combination. When we closed in on him he fought like a tiger. He is immensely strong, for he was more like a wild beast than a man.
I never saw a lunatic in such a paroxysm of rage before, and I hope I shall not again. It is a mercy that we have found out his strength and his danger in good time. With strength and determination like his, he might have done wild work before he was caged.
He is safe now, at any rate. Georgios himself couldn’t get free from the strait waistcoat that keeps him restrained, and he’s chained to the wall in the padded room.
His cries are at times awful, but the silences that follow are more deadly still, for he means murder in every turn and movement.
Just now he spoke coherent words for the first time. “I shall be patient, Master. It is coming, coming, coming!”
So I took the hint, and came too. I was too excited to sleep, but this diary has quieted me, and I feel I shall get some sleep tonight.

Rabble like your are one of the reasons there are so many rebellions. Populists, every single one of you! We should respect each other as Senators in this great empire but you venture to insult me without provocation! Britannia, the province I govern, has one of the best safety regulations in  the Empire. We protect our people and are at the forefront of the technological revolution that is called electricity. I would like for you to check facts before hurling insults! The Empress does not protect those who wish to overthrow her, we must crush those rebels. The majority of the people in this glorious Empire are good citizens and so should be rewarded. We should protect those citizens from the menace that is radicalism and corporate greed. However, those radicals must be crushed. Therefore, I am advocating my policy of one year of service in a new unit called the Imperial Guard. I have spent much of my fortune helping the people in my dominion. I have no idea why you think I am a greedy royal or a stubborn reactionary. I dislike reactionaries too, they are holding back progress and the Empire, weakening it in the process. The Legions will never march on the capital. I guarantee that.

-Senator Ambrosio Palaiologos, Duke of Nicaea, propraetor of Rome, and governor of Britannia

IMPERIUM ROMANUM
SPQR

I am sad that Filipino nationalism has taken an evil turn and that the bane of communism has taken root in our islands! But I am happy at the prospect of a united Filipinas under the aegis of our Christian Empire, with only Sulu left in barbarian hands.

Perhaps more socialist reforms and evangelical zeal would put down these revolutions?

Senator Nguyen-Climaco

I would agree with socialist-type reforms, but increased efforts at proselytization may only make the issue worse, as those who do not follow Christianity may hate us for taking away their traditions and become more inclined to rebellion.  Maybe instead of directly interfering with their way of life we could educate them.
Education has many benefits.  You educate them in Roman culture, and they become Romans according to the ideals of Romanitas.  They will then become productive and loyal citizens of the Empire, for as they have become Romans they loose foreign nationalism and gain Roman nationalism.  And my friend and mentor the German politician Bismarck told me that nationalism is a very powerful force in this time and age.  Why not harness it for good?
However, we can still spread the True Faith to the unbelievers without upsetting them.  How?  Again, education.  You educate their children in Roman and Christian ways, and they will become devout Christians and loyal Romans.  They cannot be angry that their traditions are suppressed because they never were raised on those traditions.  Therefore these reeducated citizens will be less inclined to rebellion.  If the parents object, we can always try to integrate the local traditions into Roman culture, though of course conventional Greco-Roman ideals will be a priority.

~Michael Doukas

Your mentor is Bismarck? That crazy, old bat who kept on ranting about German nationalism? Who are you?

Although I agree on your reeducation policy.

-Ambrosio Palaiologo

Blame my father for hiring him after he retired from politics.  Although he spent most of his time tutoring my brother…

Michael Doukas

Senator Ambrosio, Senator St?ße? G????, Please! Are we not civil Romans in these halls? Let us have discussions of reason and rational, not insults. While I do see the value of Ambrosio’s ideas, Senator St?ße? G???? is more correct in this matter, we exist to represent the people of OUR empire. Our cannons and steel should be facing towards the outsides of our border not our insides! I advise Senator Ambrosio to instead of investing in another military, to perhaps share some of his ideas and policies on how he made Britannia such a ideal province, so other senators may listen and possibly adopt some of his concepts.
– Senator Magnus Kvensson of Oceania Major

What insults? Is it not true that Bismarck is somewhat eccentric? And remember,  St?ße? G???? was the first to start insulting me. I agree, we exist to represent the people but when sections of the population rise up against the will of the people, we have an obligation to destroy such evil sentiments. The Imperial Guard is not the military! It is a force composed of enlistees who learn how to fight so when war breaks out against the Russian Empire, we are prepared to invade and defend. The Legions just may become overwhelmed by the sheer weight of Russians so we need people who can form new units to beat back those waves. In Britannia, we have the strictest safety regulations anywhere in the Empire. Our capitalists obtain permits to construct areas of dangerous work and are regularly inspected for any deviation from safety laws. We encourage societal capitalism, capitalism for the good of all instead of the few. We give our citizens free job training so they can be employed.

– Senator Ambrosio Palaiologos

Well my fellows like you always have you talk without knowledge, I would ask if our security and police forces have compiled a list of the various malcontent groups within the empire and perhaps and idea of the numbers that support various reforms.

If we can see what we are dealing with perhaps it will be best to work on those issue most pressing to the Empire.

Senator & Chief of Staff Αιδεν Γκρέυ

Of course you resort to crude insults that you cannot even structure properly! I would like you to refrain from continuing to insult your colleagues and engage in an orderly discussion. I second this motion to see what our security forces have done to monitor and stop treasonous rebellion. I also agree on his stance of listening to the people to see what they desire and see what can be done to assuage that desire and accommodate the people.
-Senator Ambrosio Palaiologos, governor of Britannia, duke of Nicaea, and propraetor of Rome

IMPERIUM ROMANUM
SPQR

Ioannes Angelos places two fingers on his brow for a moment in thought and then declaims, “and do not listen to those who say that the voice of the people is the voice of God, for the tumult of the crowd is always close to madness.  Aelcuin of York knew well about the perils of listening to the common people and he lived over a thousand years ago.  Let us not go down this path, lest we face the consequences of such iniquity.”

I understand your concern Ioannes, however I go back nearly 2,000 years when the last King of Rome Tarquin the Proud was deposed for not listening to his subjects and this is not a fate I would wish for our beloved Empress.

-Αιδεν Γκρέυ

Reactionaries like you inflame popular sentiment against the monarchy since you attempt to hold back the tide of progress. We must adapt or die, your unchanging stance is part of the “die” part instead of the adapt. Imagine this: A massive continental land war against Russia, Germany, and the UTA. After years of warfare, the manpower reserves of each country is depleted. The Legions have advanced deep into Russia and landed in the UTA. Then, autocratic rule at home causes millions of citizens to rise up. How will you stop that?- Ambrosio Palaiologo

To be fair Senator, if our police had the ability to identify these all these cell groups, we would not be having a problem with rebellions.
– Magnus Kvensson

“Let us not deal in fantasies, Senator Palaiologos.  How do you propose we fight a land war against a nation surrounded by oceans?  Moreover, do not fool yourself that Kyriarchia is somehow more palatable to this hypothetical rebellion than is Patrikioi, because clearly if the Empire is in revolt, all your insidious methods of attempting to be all things to all people have clearly failed.”

-Alexios Angelos

I do not understand your convoluted logic. We will fight the UTA if need be and send our Legions with ships to crush them. What insidious methods? I am here for the people.-Ambrosio Palaiologo

“As am I, but let us not pretend that the people will get to make their own decisions.  You would likely address the people by pretending to listen to them and enacting what they wish, but presumably only after ensuring that those options are good for you and the state.  I would instead find local leading people and inculcate them in the wonders of the Empire to properly Hellenise them, before sending them back to guide their fellow people according to the wishes of the Basilissa and her senators.”

Ioannes half-smiles, somewhat coldly.  “Expecting commoners to guide their own fates is like asking a humble shepherd boy to herd a dozen cats and never lose a single one.”

Michael watches the other senators bicker on about the legions and war with the Cherokee.  The divide between the communists and the non-communists was greater than ever before.  The divide in all of their beliefs was greater than ever before.  Never had he seen the Senate so divided before.  “A house divided cannot stand,” said the Great Chief Lincoln of the UTA, he recalled.
Somebody tapped him on the shoulder.
Michael turned and saw Konstantinos next to him.  He rapidly recoiled in shock, falling out of his seat and knocking over some of his papers.
“Relax, brother,” said Konstantinos, “It’s me.”
“YOU?!  YOU ARE DEAD!” Michael screamed, jabbing his hand in Konstantinos’s direction.
Some senators turned and stared at Michael.
“Sir,”‘ said a senator next to him, “Konstantinos is dead.  Who are you talking to?”
“Yeah,” said Konstantinos, “Who are you talking to?”
“I am fine,” said Michael, “I just…was recalling my brother’s rebellion.”
“Pfft, like that does anything,” said Konstantinos, “No.  I’m here.  They’re lying that I’m dead.  I am your brother for God’s sake!  Treat me like the brother that I am!”
Michael tried to take his seat and ignore Konstantinos’s ramblings.  His brother simply whispered in his ear, “Markos Angelos is still out there.  How do you know the Angeloi here aren’t working for them?  How do you know the communists are plotting your downfall?  How do you know the Faveroi, Komnenoi, Palaeologoi, the Empress aren’t trying to kill you?”
“GET OUT OF MY SIGHT KONSTANTINOS!” Michael screamed, punching Konstantinos’s image.
The image of the traitor vanished as Michael’s fists passed through the empty air.
Now the entire senate was looking at him.
“Please excuse me for a moment,” he said, making his way to the door.

I Alexander smithereens call on the senate to suspend Michael Konstantios Doukas  from the senate still he cleared by a doctor  and declared mentally sound  and considered not a danger to his fellow  senators and himself.

A doctor walks into the Senate about an hour after Michael has left.

“I am Michael Konstantios Doukas’s personal physician.  After much inspection, I have determined that my patient is mentally sound and capable of carrying out his duties as Senator and Minister.  He has arranged for bodyguards to accompany him should he suffer another outburst.”

He also reads from a statement by the Doukas household, stamped with the seal of the Imperial Household.

“It is absurd that a fellow senator, especially one who does not have that much experience, demands the removal and suspension of one of our members from the Senate.  Do you know who we are?  We are the Doukai, the most powerful dynatoi in the Empire.  One does not simply dismiss a Doukai, especially one who has safeguarded the Empire in the darkest of times and constantly strives for the safety of all, including the Empress and his fellow senators.  We assure you, Michael Doukas is mentally fit to conduct his duties as Senator and Minister.  He has agreed for bodyguards to accompany him to assist in his activities should he require assistance.”

Michael, accompanied by at least six guards, returns and takes his seat in the Senate.  He is calm now and looks composed and perfectly sane.

“Do I look crazy?  Do I want to usurp the throne from the Empress?  Answer me, Smithereens.  Look me in the face and tell me, ‘You deserve to be locked up in a sanitarium, faithful servant of the Empress’.  Only the Empress may order my resignation or suspension from the Senate.  A mere senator such as you cannot remove a fellow senator from his position, much less a Minister.  Look me in the face, Smithereens, and tell me, ‘Minister who faithfully served the Empress and defended the Empire against Konstantinos Doukas, you must be locked up in an asylum as a danger to all after everything you have done for the Empire and your demonstration of sanity’.”

i Alexander smithereens request that Michael Konstantios Doukas be examined by an independent board of doctors chosen by the senate not that i don’t trust his personal doctor but i would like another opinion from an independent source.

A physician from the University of Constantinople arrives.

“I concur that Michael Doukas is mentally fit to carry out his duties as Senator and Minister.  As I have no ties to the Doukas family, I assure you that my judgment is unbiased and just.”

I, Ambrosio Palaiologos, has no opinion on the expulsion of Doukas.

It is not our place to pass judgment on each other.  It is up to the Empress to decide such matters.  If she feels Senator Doukas is mentally unfit to serve her, she will dismiss him.

– Senator Leonardo Favero, Duke & Governor of Italy, Minister of Intelligence

“As fascinating as it is to see the liberals tear into each other, given that the fellow with the ridiculous surname is clearly of no good stock, unlike Senator Doukas (despite any other failings he might have), perhaps the offensive senator should be taken out and whipped like the low-born mongrel he is.”

-Alexios Angelos


Senators, your passion and desire to protect the Empire is exemplary. But it seems there is little agreement as to the best course of action. We agree that more education would be favorable, but the people are currently crying out for safe working conditions. Well, in addition to being allowed to elect Senators, but we should constrain ourselves to discussing reasonable actions. Perhaps if some Senators have ideas on how the administrative apparatus of the Empire can be made more willing to adapt and enforce laws passed in Constantinople? As well, We have become concerned that the lack of Greek-speaking bureaucrats in some regions might be the cause of all the instability and militancy. Perhaps the unemployment aid is not reaching many who need it? It seems impossible to tell.

For those who wish to know more of the various movements in the Empire, We believe the Minister of Security can provide that information.

Senator Smithereens, We would ask that you be respectful of the positions of your fellow senators. All are Senators based on Our sufferance, and We will remove any of them if needed. We would advise you to attend to your fellow Senators and notice how they comport themselves. While their rhetoric may be extreme, sometimes too extreme, they do not seek to remove each other from their positions.

Senator Doukas, We understand, better than most, how the events with your family can cause a mental and emotional trauma. Thus your outbursts. May We suggest you speak with some of the faculty in the psychology department at the University of Constantinople. They can be of great help.

We have decided to reappoint Senators to their same governorships, unless any wish to request to govern a different region. We plan to appoint Senator Heraclius Komnenos to Dalmatia, and Senator Venédiktos Nguyen-Climaco to the Philippines. Thus, the list of governorships would be:

(North) Africa – Alexandros Damaskinos
Armenia – Julian Leon
Asia – Constantine Panaretos
Britannia – Ambrosio Palaiologos
Dalmatia – Heraclius Komnenos
Egypt – Marcos Alexandros
Macedonia – Ioannes Angelos
Naples – Nestorius Septiadis
Raetia – Columba Comminus
Sicily – Alexander Smithereens
Syria – Michael Konstantios Doukas
Thracia – Prince Alvértos
Australia – Magnus Kvensson
Brittany – Αιδεν Γκρέυ
Italy – Leonardo Favero
Philippines – Venédiktos Nguyen-Climaco
Spain – Nicodemo Theodosio

Provinces governed by non-Senators would be Mauretania, Georgia, Guayana, Palestine, Aquitaine, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Burgundy, Catalonia, France, Java, New Zealand, South Africa, and Wales.

The ministers would be:
Minister of security – Senator Doukas
Minister of intelligence – Senator Favero
Chief of Staff – Senator Αιδεν Γκρέυ
Chief of the Army – Nicodemo Theodosio
Chief of the Navy – Senator Alexander Smithereens

If any senators are interested, We would desire to appoint a new Foreign minister and an Armaments minister.

And We noticed that We have neglected to update you on Our family. Prince Artoúros has had a third child, a daughter. Princess Veatriki has married Prince Henry, a minor prince of Germany, and they already have three children.

What further thoughts have the Senators?


Ioannes returns to the Senate with a missive, looking greatly distressed. “I have received news that my son Demetrios has gone to his final reward fighting against the barbarians in the East Indies. I will take this opportunity to resign my duties, if the Basilissa permits, and ask that my grandson Alexios be confirmed in his place.”

Your Imperial Majesty:

It is with deep gratitude and honour that I accept the governorship of my country.

We too as a newly integrated province of the Roman Empire are lacking in Greek-speaking bureaucrats. The encouragement of immigration of Greeks to the outer regions of the Empire is recommended and once a trinket has arrived, to set the national focus for bureaucrats in these provinces.

Lastly, we congratulate Your Imperial Majesty for your new grandchildren.

In fealty,

Senator Nguyen-Climaco, Governor of Filipinas

Michael begins reading from the stack of papers he has brought with him.

My apologies for the delay, but here is the information the Ministry of Security has gathered on rebels and other movements.

Reactionaries–let us call them Konstantinians–demand a return to the old ways. They number around six hundred thousand. Jacobins number about four hundred thousand, though they are likely to increase in number quickly and rise up faster than the Konstantinians. Between them, about one hundred and fifty brigades are ready to defect to their ranks should uprisings begin. However, they are not the most dangerous rebel groups.

Burgundian nationalists, Aquitainian nationalists, and communists are the most dangerous rebel groups. All number at least nine hundred thousand in members. Seventy five brigades are ready to defect to the Aquitainian rebels, forty six to the Burgundians, and a staggering four hundred and fifty one to the communists. I should reiterate, the communists are the most dangerous group. They are the largest, with four million, and four hundred and fifty one brigades are ready to defect to them. I recommend that we either crack down harshly on the rebel organizations or give incentives to get rebels to defect back to our side before any uprisings begin. What is the state of our economy? Perhaps the people are angry at the taxation rates?

Now to the movements. The only one of significant size (over a million) is the suffrage movement, with about three million citizens joining. Suppressing them would stop the movement for some time, but that would only turn them into Jacobin rebels, which we do not want. Therefore, we have two choices–grant voting rights to them, which is unacceptable to most of us, or attempt to lower national consciousness.

Of note: some rebel movements talk about a “New Zealand,” “Australia,” “South Africa,” “Philippines,” “Wales,” “Java,” and “Belgium” as nations to restore sovereignty to when such nations have never existed or of an “Italian unification” or “French unification” movement. Are they drunk or something? Luckily those movements are quite small compared to the ones detailed above.

 photo 96-35_zpsekjntpp9.png photo 96-36_zpsatgfk2of.png

~Michael Doukas

Senator Doukas, can I request the total population of the Empire, just to judge how much of an issue any of these movements or groups are.

-Αιδεν Γκρέυ

((All Private))

13 August.

My dearest Loukia,

I know you will be anxious to hear all that has happened since we parted at the railway station.
Well, my dear, I got to [REDACTED] all right, and caught the boat to Varna, and then the train. I feel that I can hardly recall anything of the journey, except that I knew I was coming to Ioannes, and that as I should have to do some nursing, I had better get all the sleep I could. I found my dear one, oh, so thin and pale and weaklooking. All the resolution has gone out of his dear eyes, and that quiet dignity which I told you was in his face has vanished. He is only a wreck of himself, and he does not remember anything that has happened to him for a long time past. At least, he wants me to believe so, and I shall never ask.
He has had some terrible shock, and I fear it might tax his poor brain if he were to try to recall it. Sister Agatha, who is a good creature and a born nurse, tells me that he wanted her to tell me what they were, but she would only cross herself, and say she would never tell. That the ravings of the sick were the secrets of God, and that if a nurse through her vocation should hear them, she should respect her trust..
She is a sweet, good soul, and the next day, when she saw I was troubled, she opened up the subject my poor dear raved about, added, `I can tell you this much, my dear. That it was not about anything which he has done wrong himself, and you, as his wife to be, have no cause to be concerned. He has not forgotten you or what he owes to you. His fear was of great and terrible things, which no mortal can treat of.’
I do believe the dear soul thought I might be jealous lest my poor dear should have fallen in love with any other girl. The idea of my being jealous about Ioannes! And yet, my dear, let me whisper, I felt a thrill of joy through me when I knew that no other woman was a cause for trouble. I am now sitting by his bedside, where I can see his face while he sleeps. He is waking!
When he woke he asked me for his coat, as he wanted to get something from the pocket. I asked Sister Agatha, and she brought all his things. I saw amongst them was his notebook, and was was going to ask him to let me look at it, for I knew that I might find some clue to his trouble, but I suppose he must have seen my wish in my eyes, for he sent me over to the window, saying he wanted to be quite alone for a moment.
Then he called me back, and he said to me very solemnly, `Mara’, I knew then that he was in deadly earnest, for he has never called me by that name since he asked me to marry him, `You know, dear, my ideas of the trust between husband and wife. There should be no secret, no concealment. I have had a great shock, and when I try to think of what it is I feel my head spin round, and I do not know if it was real or the dreaming of a madman. You know I had brain fever, and that is to be mad. The secret is here, and I do not want to know it. I want to take up my life here, with our marriage.’ For, my dear, we had decided to be married as soon as the formalities are complete. `Are you willing, Mara, to share my ignorance? Here is the book. Take it and keep it, read it if you will,but never let me know unless, indeed, some solemn duty should come upon me to go back to the bitter hours, asleep or awake, sane or mad, recorded here.’ He fell back exhausted, and I put the book under his pillow, and kissed him. have asked Sister Agatha to beg the Superior to let our wedding be this afternoon, and am waiting her reply . . .”
She has come and told me that a local priest has been sent for. We are to be married in an hour, or as soon after as Jonathan awakes.”
Loukia, the time has come and gone. I feel very solemn, but very, very happy. Ioannes woke a little after the hour, and all was ready, and he sat up in bed, propped up with pillows. He answered his `I will’ firmly and strong. I could hardly speak. My heart was so full that even those words seemed to choke me.
The dear sisters were so kind. Please, God, I shall never, never forget them, nor the grave and sweet responsibilities I have taken upon me. I must tell you of my wedding present. When the chaplain and the sisters had left me alone with my husband–oh, Loukia, it is the first time I have written the words `my husband’–left me alone with my husband, I took the book from under his pillow, and wrapped it up in white paper, and tied it with a little bit of pale blue ribbon which was round my neck, and sealed it over the knot with sealing wax, and for my seal I used my wedding ring. Then I kissed it and showed it to my husband, and told him that I would keep it so, and then it would be an outward and visible sign for us all our lives that we trusted each other, that I would never open it unless it were for his own dear sake or for the sake of some stern duty. Then he took my hand in his, and oh, Loukia, it was the first time he took his wifes’ hand, and said that it was the dearest thing in all the wide world, and that he would go through all the past again to win it, if need be. The poor dear meant to have said a part of the past, but he cannot think of time yet, and I shall not wonder if at first he mixes up not only the month, but the year.
Well, my dear, could I say? I could only tell him that I was the happiest woman in all the wide world, and that I had nothing to give him except myself, my life, and my trust, and that with these went my love and duty for all the days of my life. And, my dear, when he kissed me, and drew me to him with his poor weak hands, it was like a solemn pledge between us.
Loukia dear, do you know why I tell you all this? It is not only because it is all sweet to me, but because you have been, and are, very dear to me. It was my privilege to be your friend and guide when you came from the schoolroom to prepare for the world of life. I want you to see now, and with the eyes of a very happy wife, whither duty has led me, so that in your own married life you too may be all happy, as I am. My dear, please Almighty God, your life may be all it promises, a long day of sunshine, with no harsh wind, no forgetting duty, no distrust. I must not wish you no pain, for that can never be, but I do hope you will be always as happy as I am now. Goodbye, my dear. I shall post this at once, and perhaps, write you very soon again. I must stop, for Ioannes is waking. I must attend my husband!

Your ever-loving

Mara Dalassenos.

—-

19 August.

My dearest Mara,

Oceans of love and millions of kisses, and may you soon be in your own home with your husband. I wish you were coming home soon enough to stay with us here. The strong air would soon restore Ioannes. It has quite restored me. I have an appetite like a cormorant, am full of life, and sleep well. You will be glad to know that I have quite given up walking in my sleep. I think I have not stirred out of my bed for a week, that is when I once got into it at night. Michael says I am getting fat. By the way, I forgot to tell you that Michael is here. We have such walks and drives, and rides, and rowing, and tennis, and fishing together, and I love him more than ever. He tells me that he loves me more, but I doubt that, for at first he told me that he couldn’t love me more than he did then. But this is nonsense. There he is, calling to me.

So no more just at present from your loving,

Loukia

P. S.–Mother sends her love. She seems better, poor dear.

P. P.S.–We are to be married on 28 September.

—-

((Stavridis’s diary))

20 August.

The case of Renato grows even more interesting. He has now so far quieted that there are spells of cessation from his passion. For the first week after his attack he was perpetually violent. Then one night, just as the moon rose, he grew quiet, and kept murmuring to himself. “Now I can wait. Now I can wait.”
The attendant came to tell me, so I ran down at once to have a look at him. He was still in the strait waistcoat and in the padded room, but the suffused look had gone from his face, and his eyes had something of their old pleading. I might almost say, cringing, softness. I was satisfied with his present condition, and directed him to be relieved. The attendants hesitated, but finally carried out my wishes without protest.
It was a strange thing that the patient had humour enough to see their distrust, for, coming close to me, he said in a whisper, all the while looking furtively at them, “They think I could hurt you! Fancy me hurting you! The fools!”
It was soothing, somehow, to the feelings to find myself disassociated even in the mind of this poor madman from the others, but all the same I do not follow his thought. Am I to take it that I have anything in common with him, so that we are, as it were, to stand together. Or has he to gain from me some good so stupendous that my well being is needful to Him? I must find out later on. Tonight he will not speak. Even the offer of a kitten or even a full-grown cat will not tempt him.
He will only say, “I don’t take any stock in cats. I have more to think of now, and I can wait. I can wait.”
After a while I left him. The attendant tells me that he was quiet until just before dawn, and that then he began to get uneasy, and at length violent, until at last he fell into a paroxysm which exhausted him so that he swooned into a sort of coma.
. . . Three nights has the same thing happened, violent all day then quiet from moonrise to sunrise. I wish I could get some clue to the cause. It would almost seem as if there was some influence which came and went. Happy thought! We shall tonight play sane wits against mad ones. He escaped before without our help. Tonight he shall escape with it. We shall give him a chance, and have the men ready to follow in case they are required.

23 August.

“The expected always happens.” How well the writer Disraeli of Britannia knew life. Our bird when he found the cage open would not fly, so all our subtle arrangements were for nought. At any rate, we have proved one thing, that the spells of quietness last a reasonable time. We shall in future be able to ease his bonds for a few hours each day. I have given orders to the night attendant merely to shut him in the padded room, when once he is quiet, until the hour before sunrise. The poor soul’s body will enjoy the relief even if his mind cannot appreciate it. Hark! The unexpected again! I am called. The patient has once more escaped.
Later.–Another night adventure. Renato artfully waited until the attendant was entering the room to inspect. Then he dashed out past him and flew down the passage. I sent word for the attendants to follow. Again he went into the grounds of the deserted house, and we found him in the same place, pressed against the old chapel door. When he saw me he became furious, and had not the attendants seized him in time, he would have tried to kill me. As we were holding him a strange thing happened. He suddenly redoubled his efforts, and then as suddenly grew calm. I looked round instinctively, but could see nothing. Then I caught the patient’s eye and followed it, but could trace nothing as it looked into the moonlight sky, except a big bat, which was flapping its silent and ghostly way to the west. Bats usually wheel about, but this one seemed to go straight on, as if it knew where it was bound for or had some intention of its own.
The patient grew calmer every instant, and presently said, “You needn’t tie me. I shall go quietly!” Without trouble, we came back to the house. I feel there is something ominous in his calm, and shall not forget this night.


((Loukia’s diary))

24 August.

I must imitate Mara, and keep writing things down. Then we can have long talks when we do meet. I wonder when it will be. I wish she were with me again, for I feel so unhappy. Last night I seemed to be dreaming again just as I was at [WORD TORN OUT OF PAGE]. Perhaps it is the change of air, or getting home again. It is all dark and horrid to me, for I can remember nothing. But I am full of vague fear, and I feel so weak and worn out. When Michael came to lunch he looked quite grieved when he saw me, and I hadn’t the spirit to try to be cheerful. I wonder if I could sleep in mother’s room tonight. I shall make an excuse to try.

25 August.

Another bad night. Mother did not seem to take to my proposal. She seems not too well herself, and doubtless she fears to worry me. I tried to keep awake, and succeeded for a while, but when the clock struck twelve it waked me from a doze, so I must have been falling asleep. There was a sort of scratching or flapping at the window, but I did not mind it, and as I remember no more, I suppose I must have fallen asleep. More bad dreams. I wish I could remember them. This morning I am horribly weak. My face is ghastly pale, and my throat pains me. It must be something wrong with my lungs, for I don’t seem to be getting air enough. I shall try to cheer up when Michael comes, or else I know he will be miserable to see me so.

—-
A hotel, 31 August

My dear Jim,

I want you to do me a favour. Loukia is ill, that is she has no special disease, but she looks awful, and is getting worse every day. I have asked her if there is any cause, I not dare to ask her mother, for to disturb the poor lady’s mind about her daughter in her present state of health would be fatal. Loukia’s mother has confided to me that her doom is spoken, disease of the heart, though poor Loukia does not know it yet. I am sure that there is something preying on my dear girl’s mind. I am almost distracted when I think of her. To look at her gives me a pang. I told her I should ask you to see her, and though she demurred at first, I know why, old fellow, she finally consented. It will be a painful task for you, I know, old friend, but it is for her sake, and I must not hesitate to ask, or you to act. You are to come to lunch at my estate in Athens tomorrow, two o’clock, so as not to arouse any suspicion in Loukia’s mother, and after lunch Loukia will take an opportunity of being alone with you. I am filled with anxiety, and want to consult with you alone as soon as I can after you have seen her. Do not fail!

Your friend,
Michael Doukas.

((Telegram from Stavridis to Doukas))

1 September

Am summoned to see my father, who is worse. Am writing. Write me fully by tonight’s post to Ring. Wire me if necessary.

((Letter from Stavridis to Doukas))

2 September

My dear old fellow,

With regard to Loukia’s health I hasten to let you know at once that in my opinion there is not any functal disturbance or any malady that I know of. At the same time, I am not by any means satisfied with her appearance. She is woefully different from what she was when I saw her last. Of course you must bear in mind that I did not have full opportunity of examination such as I should wish. Our very friendship makes a little difficulty which not even medical science or custom can bridge over. I had better tell you exactly what happened, leaving you to draw, in a measure, your own conclusions. I shall then say what I have done and propose doing.
I found her in seemingly gay spirits. Her mother was present, and in a few seconds I made up my mind that she was trying all she knew to mislead her mother and prevent her from being anxious. I have no doubt she guesses, if she does not know, what need of caution there is.
We lunched alone, and as we all exerted ourselves to be cheerful, we got, as some kind of reward for our labours, some real cheerfulness amongst us. Then the mother went to lie down, and Loukia was left with me. We went into her boudoir, and till we got there her gaiety remained, for the servants were coming and going.
As soon as the door was closed, however, the mask fell from her face, and she sank down into a chair with a great sigh, and hid her eyes with her hand. When I saw that her high spirits had failed, I at once took advantage of her reaction to make a diagnosis.
She said to me very sweetly, `I cannot tell you how I loathe talking about myself.’ I reminded her that a doctor’s confidence was sacred, but that you were grievously anxious about her. She caught on to my meaning at once, and settled that matter in a word. `Tell Michael everything you choose. I do not care for myself, but for him!’ So I am quite free.
I could easily see that she was somewhat bloodless, but I could not see the usual anemic signs, and by the chance ,I was able to test the actual quality of her blood, for in opening a window which was stiff a cord gave way, and she cut her hand slightly with broken glass. It was a slight matter in itself, but it gave me an evident chance, and I secured a few drops of the blood and have analysed them.
The qualitative analysis give a quite normal condition, and shows, I should infer, in itself a vigorous state of health. In other physical matters I was quite satisfied that there is no need for anxiety, but as there must be a cause somewhere, I have come to the conclusion that it must be something mental.
She complains of difficulty breathing satisfactorily at times, and of heavy, lethargic sleep, with dreams that frighten her, but regarding which she can remember nothing. She says that as a child, she used to walk in her sleep, and that when in [REDACTED] the habit came back, and that once she walked out in the night and went to East Cliff, where Mara found her. But she assures me that of late the habit has not returned.
I am in doubt, and so have done the best thing I know of. I have written to my old friend and master, Professor Albrect von Habsburg, of Vienna, who knows as much about obscure diseases as any one in the world. I have asked him to come over, and as you told me that all things were to be at your charge, I have mentioned to him who you are and your relations to Loukia. This, my dear fellow, is in obedience to your wishes, for I am only too proud and happy to do anything I can for her.
Von Habsburg would, I know, do anything for me for a personal reason, so no matter on what ground he comes, we must accept his wishes. He is a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than any one else. He is a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind. This, with an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, these form his equipment for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views are as wide as his all-embracing sympathy. I tell you these facts that you may know why I have such confidence in him. I have asked him to come at once. I shall see Loukia tomorrow again. She is to meet me at the Stores, so that I may not alarm her mother by too early a repetition of my call.

Yours always.

Jim Stavirids

((Letter, Albrecht von Habsburg, MD, PhD, D. LiT, ETC, ETC, to Dr. Stavridis))

2 September.

Mein good Friend,

When I received your letter I am already coming to you. By good fortune I can leave just at once, without wrong to any of those who have trusted me. Were fortune other, then it were bad for those who have trusted, for I come to my friend when he call me to aid those he holds dear. Tell your friend that when that time you suck from my wound so swiftly the poison of the gangrene from that knife that our other friend, too nervous, let slip, you did more for him when he wants my aids and you call for them than all his great fortune could do. But it is pleasure added to do for him, your friend, it is to you that I come. Have near at hand, and please it so arrange that we may see the young lady not too late on tomorrow, for it is likely that I may have to return here that night. But if need be I shall come again in three days, and stay longer if it must. Till then goodbye, my friend Jim.

Von Habsburg.

((Letter, Stavridis to Doukas))

3 September

My friend Mike,

Von Habsburg has come and gone. He came on with me to Athens, and found that, by Loukia discretion, her mother was lunching out, so that we were alone with her.
Von Habsburg made a very careful examination of the patient. He is to report to me, and I shall advise you, for of course I was not present all the time. He is, I fear, much concerned, but says he must think. When I told him of our friendship and how you trust to me in the matter, he said, `Du must tell him all du zink. Tell him vhat ich zink, if du can guess it, if du vill. Nein, ich am not jesting. This is no jest, but life and death, perhaps more.’ I asked what he meant by that, for he was very serious. This was when we had come back to town, and he was having a cup of tea before starting on his return to Vienna. He would not give me any further clue. You must not be angry with me, Mike, because his very reticence means that all his brains are working for her good. He will speak plainly enough when the time comes, be sure. So I told him I would simply write an account of our visit, just as if I were doing a descriptive special article for THE DAILY EMPIRE. He seemed not to notice, but remarked that the smuts of Constantinople were not quite so bad as they used to be when he was a student here. I am to get his report tomorrow if he can possibly make it. In any case I am to have a letter.
Well, as to the visit, Loukia was more cheerful than on the day I first saw her, and certainly looked better. She had lost something of the ghastly look that so upset you, and her breathing was normal. She was very sweet to the Professor (as she always is),and tried to make him feel at ease, though I could see the poor girl was making a hard struggle for it.
I believe Von Habsburg saw it, too, for I saw the quick look under his bushy brows that I knew of old. Then he began to chat of all things except ourselves and diseases and with such an infinite geniality that I could see poor Loukia’s pretense of animation merge into reality. Then, without any seeming change, he brought the conversation gently round to his visit, and sauvely said,
`Mein dear young fraulein, ich have ze so great pleasure because du are so much beloved. That is much, mein fraulein, even vere zere zhat vhich ich do nicht see. Zhey told mich du were down in zhe spirit, and zhat du vere of a ghastly pale. To zhem ich say “Pouf!” ‘ And he snapped his fingers at me and went on. `But du and ich shall show zhem how vrong zhey are. How can he’, and he pointed at me with the same look and gesture as that with which he pointed me out in his class, on, or rather after, a particular occasion which he never fails to remind me of, `know anything of a young fraulein? He has his madmen to play vith, and to bring zhem back to happiness, and to zhose zhat love zhem. It is much to do, and, oh, but zhere are rewards in zhat ve can bestow such happiness. But zhe young fraulein! He has no wife nor daughter, and zhe young do not tell zhemselves to zhe kinder, but to zhe old, like mich, vho have known so many sorrows and zhe causes of zhem. So, mein fraulein, ve vill send him away to smoke zhe cigarette in zhe garden, vhiles du and ich have little talk all to ourselves.’ I took the hint, and strolled about, and presently the professor came to the window and called me in. He looked grave, but said, ` Ich have made careful examination, but zhere is no functional cause. With du ich agree zhat zhere has been much blood lost, it has been but is not. But zhe conditions of her are in no way anemic. Ich have asked her to send mich her maid, zhat ich may ask just one or zwo questions, that so ich may not chance to miss nothing. Ich know vell what she vill say. And yet zhere is cause. Zhere is always cause for everything. Ich must go back home and zhink. Du must send mich zhe telegram every day, and if zhere be cause ich shall come again. Zhe disease, for not to be well is a disease, interest mich, and the sweet, young frauein, she interest mich too. She charm mich, and for her, if not for du or disease, ich come.’
As I tell you, he would not say a word more, even when we were alone. And so now, Mike, you know all I know. I shall keep stern watch. I trust your poor mother is rallying. It must be a terrible thing to you, my dear old fellow, to be placed in such a position between two people who are both so dear to you. I know your idea of duty to your mother, and you are right to stick to it. But if need be, I shall send you word to come at once to Lucy, so do not be over-anxious unless you hear from me.

((Stavridis’s diary))

4 September.

Zoophagous patient still keeps up our interest in him. He had only one outburst and that was yesterday at an unusual time. Just before the stroke of noon he began to grow restless. The attendant knew the symptoms, and at once summoned aid. Fortunately the men came at a run, and were just in time, for at the stroke of noon he became so violent that it took all their strength to hold him. In about five minutes, however, he began to get more quiet,and finally sank into a sort of melancholy, in which state he has remained up to now. The attendant tells me that his screams whilst in the paroxysm were really appalling. I found my hands full when I got in, attending to some of the other patients who were frightened by him. Indeed, I can quite understand the effect, for the sounds disturbed even me, though I was some distance away. It is now after the dinner hour of the asylum, and as yet my patient sits in a corner brooding, with a dull, sullen, woe-begone look in his face, which seems rather to indicate than to show something directly. I cannot quite understand it.
Later.–Another change in my patient. At five o’clock I looked in on him, and found him seemingly as happy and contented as he used to be. He was catching flies and eating them, and was keeping note of his capture by making nailmarks on the edge of the door between the ridges of padding. When he saw me, he came over and apologized for his bad conduct, and asked me in a very humble, cringing way to be led back to his own room, and to have his notebook again. I thought it well to humour him, so he is back in his room with the window open. He has the sugar of his tea spread out on the window sill, and is reaping quite a harvest of flies. He is not now eating them, but putting them into a box, as of old, and is already examining the corners of his room to find a spider. I tried to get him to talk about the past few days, for any clue to his thoughts would be of immense help to me, but he would not rise. For a moment or two he looked very sad, and said in a sort of far away voice, as though saying it rather to himself than to me.
“All over! All over! He has deserted me. No hope for me now unless I do it myself!” Then suddenly turning to me in a resolute way, he said,”Doctor, won’t you be very good to me and let me have a little more sugar? I think it would be very good for me.”
“And the flies?” I said.
“Yes! The flies like it, too, and I like the flies, therefore I like it.”And there are people who know so little as to think that madmen do not argue. I procured him a double supply, and left him as happy a man as, I suppose, any in the world. I wish I could fathom his mind.
Midnight.–Another change in him. I had been to see Loukia, whom I found much better, and had just returned, and was standing at our own gate looking at the sunset, when once more I heard him yelling. As his room is on this side of the house, I could hear it better than in the morning. It was a shock to me to turn from the wonderful smoky beauty of a sunset over Constantinople, with its lurid lights and inky shadows and all the marvellous tints that come on foul clouds even as on foul water, and to realize all the grim sternness of my own cold stone building, with its wealth of breathing misery, and my own desolate heart to endure it all. I reached him just as the sun was going down, and from his window saw the red disc sink. As it sank he became less and less frenzied, and just as it dipped he slid from the hands that held him, an inert mass, on the floor. It is wonderful, however, what intellectual recuperative power lunatics have, for within a few minutes he stood up quite calmly and looked around him. I signalled to the attendants not to hold him, for I was anxious to see what he would do. He went straight over to the window and brushed out the crumbs of sugar. Then he took his fly box, and emptied it outside, and threw away the box. Then he shut the window, and crossing over, sat down on his bed. All this surprised me, so I asked him,”Are you going to keep flies any more?”
“No,” said he. “I am sick of all that rubbish!” He certainly is a wonderfully interesting study. I wish I could get some glimpse of his mind or of the cause of his sudden passion. Stop. There may be a clue after all, if we can find why today his paroxysms came on at high noon and at sunset. Can it be that there is a malign influence of the sun at periods which affects certain natures, as at times the moon does others? We shall see.

((Telegram, Stavridis, Constantinople, to Von Habsburg, Vienna))
4 September.

Patient still better today.

((Telegram, Stavridis, Constantinople, to Von Habsburg, Vienna))
5 September.

Patient greatly improved. Good appetite, sleeps naturally, good spirits, color coming back.

((Telegram, Stavridis, Constantinople, to Von Habsburg, Vienna))
6 September.

Terrible change for the worse. Come at once. Do not lose an hour. I hold over telegram to Doukas till have seen you.

Senators, I propose myself for the position of minister of armaments. Especially considering my past experience in the defense industry. I am also willing to follow more ‘social’ methods of armaments considering some of the other senators political association.
-Senator Magnus Kvensson


Senator Angleos, Our deepest condolences. He shall be appointed forthwith. Senator Kvensson, We would be pleased to appoint you as armaments minister.

The updated list of appointments is:

(North) Africa – Alexandros Damaskinos
Armenia – Julian Leon
Asia – Constantine Panaretos
Britannia – Ambrosio Palaiologos
Dalmatia – Heraclius Komnenos
Egypt – Marcos Alexandros
Macedonia – Alexios Angelos
Naples – Nestorius Septiadis
Raetia – Columba Comminus
Sicily – Alexander Smithereens
Syria – Michael Konstantios Doukas
Thracia – Prince Alvértos
Australia – Magnus Kvensson
Brittany – Αιδεν Γκρέυ
Italy – Leonardo Favero
Philippines – Venédiktos Nguyen-Climaco
Spain – Nicodemo Theodosio

Provinces governed by non-Senators would be Mauretania, Georgia, Guayana, Palestine, Aquitaine, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Burgundy, Catalonia, France, Java, New Zealand, South Africa, and Wales.

The ministers would be:
Armament minister – Senator Kvensson
Minister of security – Senator Doukas
Minister of intelligence – Senator Favero
Chief of Staff – Senator Αιδεν Γκρέυ
Chief of the Army – Nicodemo Theodosio
Chief of the Navy – Senator Alexander Smithereens

As always, Senators, thank you for your time.

The Empire Strikes Back 95 – The State of the Empire 1880-1885

Blachernae Palace, 1st of January 1885

Senators,

As we wait for the Empress to arrive for the address, the following newspapers are considered significant by the archivists.

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And as you can see, the world map in this room has been updated. I’m told the Senate’s is being updated now, too.
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After many years of helping Empire grow in it’s strenght, Alexios Damaskinos, my dear father, passed away on 12 November 1884. By the law his seat in Senate and title of Governor of Africa is passed to me. I hope that my actions would make my father proud. Rest in Peace, my dear father.

– Alexandros Damaskinos

Greetings fellow Senators, allow me to introduce myself; I am Senator Magnus Kvensson.
First, I would like to thank the most pristine and wise Empress for my new position among this prestigious and respected society. Now I assume many of you doubt my loyalty to the empire espcially with a name as outlandish as mine, but I assure you i have bled and lost close kin for the empire and her interest. I have served for 15 years in our eternal legions and even worked my way to Legate. But most of all I cannot stand these Slavic pagans that do these cruel and unusual rituals to the good citizens we vow and swore to protect!
(Ahem)
However, I don’t believe a military conquest is the way to solve the pagan issue, for we cannot even guarantee our own internal stability. And how do we achieve this stability you may wonder? Simple. Money.
We control practically all of Africa and the very populous Indian continent as well as large swaths of land in Australia. We should focus on harvesting these raw resource pools and investing in their development.
Every night i hear someone, anyone ranting about how these “socialist” and “communist” and how they’ll bring wealth to everyone. So I propose this as the counter to these upstart ideals and rebellions and calm the populous.
Thank you for listening and I look forward to meeting all of you prestigious senators.
– Senator Magnus Kvensson

After an intense discussion, I will be retiring after the next Senate session and living out the rest of my life at my estate at Nicaea. I will the Dukedom of Nicaea to my eldest son and my heir, Ambrosio Palaiologos, after the next session of the Senate. He is 33 years old, being born on January 29th, 1852. He was born in Londinium in Britannia. He will continue my fights for justice, order, and  prosperity and is a firm believer in the power of Rome, the invincibility of her legions, and the maginimious naature of the Empress and administration. He will take over my position in the Kyriarchía. I would also like the Empress the assign Ambrosio to the rector provinciae of Britannia and also to promote him to praetor after my retirement, taking over my positions. Thank you for your benevolence to me throughout my years of service. I understand if my son is not fit to be rector provinciae and you decide to assign him somewhere else. Hail Empress Veronica! Hail Rome! Hail the Empire!

IMPERIUM ROMANUM
SPQR
Senator Andronikos Palaiologos, governor of Britannia, propraetor of Rome, and duke of Nicaea.


Senators,

We would take this time to announce new appointments to Our staff. Senator Alexander Smithereens shall be named Chief of the Navy. Senator Theodosio, We must confess that the last address was incorrect, and Senator Αιδεν Στήβεν has long been the Chief of Staff. However, if you would be interested in the position of Chief of Armaments or Chief of the Army, the position is yours.

As for family, We have four new grandchildren. Two from Prince Artoúros, and two from Prince Léon. Prince Léon was married in 1883 to Helene Friederike, the daughter of a regional administrator in Burgundy. He had a daughter and a son, but died from his hemophilia shortly before his son was born.

Now for news of the Empire.

As 1880 began, We again funded philosophic investigations at the University of Constantinople.
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We also adjusted the various taxes to more accurately approximate a flat tax across the Empire.
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When Ethiopia declared war on Arabia to recover the breakaway lands, they asked for Our assistance. We agreed and sent them money, but did not send the Legions.
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When We sent official word that We would favor unemployment subsidies, reactionaries who were already angered at the changed tax rates took to arms. As was typical with these minor revolts, they were put down with ease.
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Arabia was also put down with ease, with the peace treaty between Ethiopia and Arabia signed in Blachernae Palace.

Meanwhile, while Germany’s latest war with Bavaria slowly turned against them, Bavaria did not do much better, as Silesian nationalists were able to force their independence from the war-weary nation.

Again, the philosophy department demonstrated that they had already been developing new ideas.
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We turned to the Legions and had them develop methods of determining the risks involved in various actions so that they could choose well.
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In January of 1881, Poland-Lithuania declared war on Russia in the hopes of humiliating them. It seems their goal was to direct Us at Russia. As they had not consulted Us regarding this foolish plan, We declined to aid them in their war.

Bavarian reactionaries had been displeased at Bavaria’s weakness and in turn rebelled, forcing a new government in March of 1881.

When the military had developed the basic ideas of risk assessment, We sought to alleviate the ongoing coal shortages by having engineers apply steam turbines to the various mines.
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As these were deployed, We continued building industry everywhere where there were excess workers. There were never not excess workers.

The excavation in Egypt continued to bear fruit as a tomb was uncovered, and then the turbines were fully deployed.
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We immediately set the engineers to developing better metallurgical techniques to make more use of the coal we had so that the coal could be applied to more uses.
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In January of 1882, Bavaria and Germany signed a peace agreement to simply cease hostilities. Ultimately, this meant that Germany won. They had absorbed territory first in Thuringia and then in Brandenburg when pan-nationalists in Werle turned all of the region over. Bavaria in turn had lost territory, first to Silesian nationalists (Silesia shortly after being conquered by Hungary), and then to Hungary directly.

In February, Poland-Lithuania was forced to see the error of their war when they gave Estonia to Russia.

The development of several techniques of creating artificial dyes was a complete transformation of the textile industries. And the improved metallurgical techniques promised to free up enough coal and coal byproducts to keep these factories working.
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After that was completed, We followed Senator Theodosio’s advice and began laying the legal foundation for a central bank.
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In addition to the advances in coal, other engineers developed means of producing useful products from petroleum oil. The peoples of Baku immediately went to work extracting and selling it, and in the following years other sources were found, greatly enriching the workers of any lands lucky enough to have a supply.
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In November of 1882, Bavaria’s government was overthrown again, this time by Jacobins.

In December, the long-feared communist revolt swept over the Empire. There were several larger groups in Gallia and Iberia, but they were swept away with ease. The numerous smaller groups in Africa were harder, if only because of the vast distances between them. It was clear a new legion would be needed for West Africa, so one was recruited.
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Meanwhile, an island between Java and Sumatra exploded, causing great loss of life in Java.
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When the legal framework for the central bank had been created, We asked the legions to finally apply statistics to all their work.
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When they had completed that work, We insisted they develop an organized system of logistics, so that they could better be supplied in places such as Africa.

Just before the end of the year in 1883, the communist rebels were completely cleared out. Not much happened through the beginning of 1884. In July, Jacobins grew frustrated with the lack of further political reforms and revolted.

This revolt, as with the Communist one, demonstrated the sheer power of artillery. So when the legions had figured out the basics of a modern logistics system, We set to work having weapons manufacturers provide them with artillery that could be loaded from the breech instead of from the muzzle.
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In October, Germany finally overcame Bavaria and completely annexed it. Finally central Europe was becoming organized.
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And so we come to 1885. Despite the growth of jobs in the city, a third again as many as there were in 1880, the number of unemployed in the cities of the Empire as tripled, now nearly one hundred thousand souls. Sixty three thousand of those are in Constantinople. While they find day jobs often enough to eat, theirs is a hard and meager existence, and We hope to provide for them in the future. Jobs, primarily, but also subsidies for when there are no jobs.

But sadly, this is the political leanings of the various administrators and town councils. As you can see, no reforms would succeed at this time.
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As well, the artillery will soon be supplied. Do the Senators have recommendations for what to research next?
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My Empress, my failure to prevent violence by the Communists of the Empire will forever weigh heavy on me. I only hope that you can understand that the rage that boiled over was due to the material conditions most citizens of the Empire live in. Seeing both soldiers and citizens fall has hurt me greatly.

I am hosting an International Congress of Socialists and Communists in the hope that agreements can be reached, and further violence avoided. Not having any standardized line of thought for how The Roman Empire is to achieve Communism was paramount in causing this rebellion. The more violent trends of communism from other nations has spread far, and must be either removed or repurposed.

To this end, I call all members of the Socialist and Communist parties together to discuss and decide on a plan of action and legislation for The Roman Empire. I also encourage all from overseas who can attend to do so, to allow a full diverse discussion. This will be known as The First Internationale. We shall meet in Constantinople in a place, yet to be determined, in one year’s time.

-Nicodemo Theodosio

Alexios was getting old now.  He could no longer run like he used to, and his joints ached.  His once brilliant hair was now white and gray.  He could still shoot a gun really well, but the recoils always dealt extensive pain to his wrist.  He could hardly write in his journals now.  Yet he still went to the Senate meetings every time, discussing the state of the Empire with his fellow senators, whom he had come to regard as close friends after working with them for decades.
They were discussing something about Germany when suddenly the doors swung open, and in stormed a battalion of Imperial riflemen.  At their head was his son, Konstantinos Doukas, named after the Emperor who had driven back the Seljuk Turks from Anatolia over eight hundred years ago.  The soldiers stood still at the entrance to the Senate room, while Konstantinos stepped forward.  It was then that Alexios realized that Konstantinos was wearing a toga with Imperial purple outlines.  Nobody was supposed to wear Imperial purple outlines on their togas…except the Empress.  Was Konstantinos…?
“Listen up!” shouted Konstantinos. “You old fools have toiled too long in here in the name of the pretender Veronica Nikephora!”
“PRETENDER?!” shouted a senator, “Who DARES declare the Sacred Empress a pretender?!”
Konstantinos simply motioned to his men and pointed at the senator.  Two seconds later, the senator was on the ground, four bullet holes in his head and chest.
The senators shouted and ran for it, but all entrances had been blocked by Konstantinos’s men.  The Empress was quickly surrounded with Varangians, but they were all outnumbered.
“It’s no use running from me, your true emperor,” Konstantinos said, “That wench over there in the corner has driven the Empire into the ground, and I intend to fix it.  I hereby declare myself Basileus Basileon, King of Kings, Autokrator of the Empire!  Under that wench, we have gone in the wrong direction!  Look at us!  What have we become?  The Empire’s a shell of its former self!  The people are protesting for more rights and freedoms!  We have lost the way of the Romans!  I will save our Empire.  I will make it great again!”
As some senators began protesting, Konstantinos raised his hand.  “I beg you, please hear my words before coming to conclusions.  Join me, and I shall reward you greatly.  Don’t…well, you get the idea.”
Konstantinos turned to his father, still sitting at his seat despite the gunfire.
“Father, don’t make me do this,” he said, “Please.  No longer will we be the marginalized minor branch of the Doukas family that the Cult mocked in that letter many years ago.  We’ll have what we always wanted–power.  You, as the father of the Sacred Emperor, will be the second most powerful man in the world, not just a lowly senator or minister or soldier.  I’m doing what is best for all of us.”
Alexios wasn’t tempted.  “Do you really think I want more power?  Your grandfather and I have served the Empire for longer than you have lived, boy.  I will not abandon it now, while I live.  I knew something was wrong about you ever since you came back from that rebel siege.  Please, son, drop the delusions of grandeur, and I might intervene during your trial.  Killing me will only deny your inheritance and give it to Michael.”
Konstantinos was also unfazed by his father’s declaration.  He pulled out a gun and shot his father in the left knee.  Pain exploded in Alexios’s left leg, and he went down with a shout.  Konstantinos then pointed at the Empress.
“Anybody else want to join me?  Please do.”

((Outside))

Michael watched in shock as Konstantinos and his men stormed the Palace, the mobs not far behind.  He was not found yet.
He turned around just as explosions rippled through Constantinople, causing massive devastation to infrastructure and civilians, and the Hagia Sophia was stormed by an angry mob.  He knew the same thing was happening across the Empire as the legions were caught off-guard and the supporters of his brother were taking up arms…

Leonardo Favero kept calm when the pretender burst in and threatened the Empress.  Ever since his father’s murder, he had been prepared for anything.  Admittedly he had expected the Cult to make a move, but he supposed the Empire was filled with all kinds of whack-jobs.  As the pretender, who was apparently the son of Alexios Doukas, made all kinds of wild claims, Leonardo casually inched his way towards the Empress and her Varangian guards.  He slipped a small knife he always kept on him out of his sleeve and into his hand, making sure it remained out of sight.  If anyone made a move on the Empress, he would intervene.  He’d grown quite adept at throwing knives with deadly accuracy.  He could make a shot at the ringleader, but his men might start shooting the other senators if he did.  It was best to bide his time and wait for the optimum moment to strike.

Konstantinos notices Leonardo moving towards the Empress and hiding something in his hand.  Without thinking or even looking more than a second, he shoots Leonardo twice in both wrists and then his knees for good measure.

“Fool!  Do you really think you can defy your Emperor?!  I know who you are!  I knew your father, that senile old man!  I won’t have any of your family pulling heroics this time!  And don’t think about calling in your guards!  They’re quite busy dealing with the hordes of citizens fighting for their rightful ruler!  Now hurry up and swear  your fealty to me or I will begin the purging!  I will spare your precious wench if you do so!”

“Shall we solve this as ‘gentlemen’ would Konstantinos?”, asked Nicodemo Theodosio

He stepped forward, nothing in his hands, only his sword on hisbelt.

“You talk a lot about ‘purity’ and ‘nobility,’ yet you have just shot your own father in the knee for disagreeing with you. Are you not a Christian, Konstantinos? ‘Honour thy Father and thy Mother.’ Is this not one of the holiest of Commandments?”

He slowly drew his sword, and held it in proper dueling stance.

“You would put everything on the line in a mad grasp for power, to enforce your unpopular ideas onto the people of the Empire. You have violated the sanctity of these chambers and of this great city. You have shot your own father, my colleague. Most of all, however, you have threatened the Empress, and by that, all of us. I ask you to show the smallest shred of honour and duel me now, and let God and Fate decide the outcome of this mad coup.”

Senator Columba and his guard are riding for Blachernae along the Theodosian walls his ears ringing from the blast that had blown his horse out from under him
“Right who’s not dead?”
A young officer, an ADC to one of the more senior ones by his uniform.”Most of us your eminence are alive and well though 3 others are badly injured and it looks like Taggart bought it”
“Damn I liked him”
“How much further sir?”
“About another bloody mile and are horses are already exhausted dammit!”
“Sorry senat-”
“Don’t apologise I’m on edge that’s all, we all are. Any send riders back into the city tell whoever’s there we have reached the Gate of Adrianople we should be past it by the time they get the message but I think should is about to become a very loose concept today. I also left a reserve force outside a few miles away I didn’t want to cause a scare by brining them all in at once but now with hindsight of course…Anyway tell them to head for Blachernae we need to protect the Empress.”
“And the senate”
“We can’t be in two places at once dammit”
“What I mean sire, is that all the senators are at Blachernae as well”
“WHAT?”
“For the imperial address to the senate”
“Honestly what is the point of being a senator if nobody tells you where the meetings are happening? Right then tell the men at Constantine’s Forum to pull back to where the Constantinian walls used to be. set up a defensive line there and try to move north if the can. At least establish a large perimeter around the palace.”
“It shall be done Governor.”
“Gonnae just decide what you’re calling me please and get to it.”
“At once my lord.”
“Och jings when it comes to staff the have all enthusiasm but it would be nice if they had some sense as well.”
“Brother!” The voice was all too familiar to him, his younger brother was galloping up on them from behind.
“Gius I thought I told you to get out of the city!”
“No you told me to get my family out of the city.”
“You do realise that if the revolters don’t get you your wife will?”
“No I didn’t”
“Please tell me you at least have something to fight with.”
“Yes I do actually.”
“Finally some good news. Now get back on your horse and find me one.”
“Where is your horse?”
“That depends on what part of it you’re referring to. *sigh* I liked that horse. Anyway now’s not the time to mourn we need to get to Blachernae now.”
A soldier presents the senator with another horse and he jumps on ignoring the pain in his bloody hands.
“Columba I feel I should tell you something. It’s occurred to me that Kilts are not exactly great for riding in.”
“I know that Gius but it’s easier than a toga. Now COME ON WE HAVE AN EMPIRE TO SAVE”
They rode north for the palace slowing down as they neared. They dismounted and left their horses behind. The front of the palace was filled with an angry crowd demanding blood.
“What do we do know?”
“Keep it down.”
“Sorry”
“Right men up on the wall we’ll head round the back and make sure to keep low Gius you can watch the horses.”
“WHAT!?”
“You’re not getting killed I won’t allow it no keep your head down if you get into trouble improvise.”
Columba and the rest of his men kept low as they moved over to the nearest tower. The door was old and rotten it nearly fell of its rusting hinges when pushed. The went in and clambered up rather than climbed the stairs were crumbling as they moved up. They reached the top and broke out onto the wall. From here he could see the entire city. Fires were burning along the northern part of the city but in the south it seemed quiet where the Forum of Constantine was but otherwise it was impossible to tell what was going on. They moved on trying not to be seen knowing the responsibility they potentially held.

Konstantinos is not amused at the communist’s attempts at speaking.  He orders his men to shoot him in the wrists and knees just as he did to Leonardo while he reloads.

“Fool!  Do you really think I would listen to you?!  You communist!  You savages are the reason we are a failing Empire!  God abandoned me to the mob of peasants years ago, so why should I listen to Him now (though I still am a Christian when in a good mood and wish to purge all heretics and heathens living in the Empire once I ascend the throne)?  Especially now!  And my father…he and his own father are traitors, selling out the Empire to advance their own interests!  They must be punished!

I assure you, my ideas are quite popular.  Otherwise how could I have the mobs looting and pillaging at my command outside?”

Leonardo Favero crumpled to the ground.  The shots at his wrists had gone wide, as was apt to happen with pistols at such a range, but one of the shots at his knees had gone through the meat of his leg.  The wound wasn’t fatal and most likely wouldn’t cripple him, but he wouldn’t be walking from some time.  He did his best to cover the wound with fabric from his clothes and cursed silently to himself.

((Konstantinos))
Konstantinos fails to reload his gun and throws it away.  “Stupid piece of metal!”  He thinks to himself, “You idiot, why did you go for the wrists of all places?!”
He looks over to where his father lay but instead sees nothing.  A trail of blood leads to an open window nearby.
“GUARDS!” he shouts, “Find my father and brother and bring their bodies to me!”

((Alexios))
Alexios limped as far as he could from the carnage, blood trailing behind him.  He had to stop the bleeding or else Konstantinos’s men would find him quickly.
He found a fountain which had been partially wrecked by the explosion of a bomb nearby and plunged into it, trying to wash away as much of the blood as possible.  That done, he wrapped his chest with thick cloth torn from his robe to stop the bleeding.  It wasn’t much, but at least he was less likely to get an infection.  He imagined what his father had gone through during the 1854 Cult attack before he and the Lancers intervened.  Who would intervene for him now in his own situation?

((Michael))
Michael hid behind a corner as one of Konstantinos’s men approached to investigate a thrown rock.  As the large Spartan man rounded the corner, Michael sank a dagger into his chest and covered his mouth before breaking his neck quickly and silently.  Michael put on the guard’s clothes and took his weapons, a rifle, pistol, and sword.
Now he had to find Konstantinos and stop him.

((Nicodemo))
After my small speech, Konstantinos signals his men, and I was shot twice, once in the right arm, once in the right leg. I collapse to the ground, sword clattering as it hits the elaborate marble of the floor. I inch myself back against the desks for the Socialists and Communists, supporting myself with my unhurt arm, and force myself onto my feet.

“All you have convinced me of, Konstantinos, is something I thought of once, long ago. Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun. History is nothing but stories of violence used to obtain power. I rejected this, in hope we of the Empire could do better. That we could learn from our mistakes. Have we not learned of the fallacy of things like The Year of Four Emperors? These squabbles for power do nothing but harm the Empire.

You dismiss me, because I am a Communist. You accuse me of being a savage, I would remind you of the true definition of that word: ‘fierce, violent, and uncontrolled.’ Who among us here most matches that description? I would not say myself.

You could kill me now, this is true, it will gain you nothing however, but one less bullet. The cause I have fought for, and indeed that millions of others’ do, will not be interrupted by my death.

I know you will try to kill me. Shoot, coward, you will only kill a man!”

Columba let go of the rope as he landed in the shadow of the walls behind Blachernae he was covered in his own bloodwhich had seeped through the makeshift bandages he was wearing. There were bigger things to worry about now however he could hear gunfire from the other side of the palace and it was getting louder.
“Are you alright Senator?” Columba looked round to see one of his guards looking at him worriedly.
“Yes I’m fine.” though he did not feel it but he couldn’t worry about that now he had to change the subject
“When we were climbing down I thought I saw to men slip out of the throne room”
“I saw them to your eminence I think they were senators”
“We need to find them friend or foe they could tell us what’s been happening in here. Right lets go. Keep your revolvers and rifles aside for now silent weapons only. If you need to shoot then shoot but only if you have to get it”
“Got it”
“Got it”
“Get it”
“Good. Right lets go” 60 men in kilts with guns, Claymores, shields and other weapons snuck into the palace wile up on the wall 10 watched the city both within and without them praying for reinforcements.

In the forum of Constantine Donal MacDonald rode forward to confront the seething crowd they were surrounded he knew men were stationed at every entrance and on the collonade reinforced now by some form the city guard who had come along with Varangains who were not to drunk to stand rifles and Gatling guns pointed at the crowd who he knew would be killed in their hundreds if they tried to stand. A silence fell over the crowed as they realised their situation.

“Listen to me all of you. I don’t know why you are gathered here and in such a fashion but as I’m sure you can see you are surrounded, outgunned and I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that it would not be in the best interests of any involved for hundreds of us to get killed for no reason.” Officers around the forum repeated his words for those who could not hear.
A man on a horse who appeared to be the leader of the crowed rode forwards his mouth twisted in a sneer that managed to show hate and contempt at the same time.
“We are here for a reason. To save the Empire!” the crowed behind roared in agreement.
“By getting yourselves killed?”
“By giving the Empire to those who know how to run it. By giving it to those who care about it we are the people of the Empire and we have made our voice heard!”
“Your choice? Since when did you choose who managed the Empire? Who gave you the right to do what God alone can do? To ordain who is to guard over our lands and ourselves.”
The crowd was conspicuously silent but here were no jeers or whistles. They were listening at least. When another man emerged from the crowds
“Yes and what has God’s choice done to defend us. Even as the English struggle through the swamps of the Amazon; even as the Africans scratch a meager living from the grit they call soil; even as the Germanic Barbarians brood in their forests; even as the Caledonians ponder life on their mountain tops; as the slaves freeze and then burn on the steppes of Ukraine and Siberia, as the Oriental wallow in their rice paddies, as the Arabs ride their camels through the desert and the Indians their elephants through the monsoons they are all plotting our destruction!”
The cheer from the crowd was loud but not as loud as it had been before.
“And this is how you would defend your Empire. By overthrowing the senate which has defended our rights since ancient times? By deposing the Empress who has for nearly 50 years now brought us peace and prosperity? Your method of defense would split our Empire in two and as we killed each other the world would watch, wait and when it was done they would turn on us like vultures and pick us clean! You would save the Empire by destroying it from within. After which it would be destroyed from without. If you want to defend the Empire then follow the Empress as we have all done. For many of us all our lives! Some of you may remember the dark days of old when the palace went silent and our Empire was leaderless. We were without guidance; without unity; without hope; and what happened? Our Empire drifted to the edge of collapse not though the conspiracies of foreign spies or kings. But because we ourselves were without a leader and without strength not in our bodies but in our souls! Do you want to return the Empire to those days? Because of you are you are certainly going the right way about it! Only this time it would be even worse as we would be not standing in the streets watching the palace for any sign of life or light within. But we would be burning that palace and killing each other as our enemies from outside descended upon our walls! Yu want to defend our Empire? Our nation? Our home? then stand with me; against the true traitors within this realm; Stand with the Senate who defend your rights to day as the Senate of old did so in the old city; stand with the Church which has brought us grace and salvation now for near 2 millennia; and most of all stand with the Empress; who is sworn to serve you; guide you and die if need be to protect you!”
A cheer rose from the crowd quiet and scattered at first but grew in size and confidence like wildfire until the square was full of it.
The traitor on his horse was visibly furious as were those who had gathered round him clearly the most loyal of the mad fire brands who had started this. They were armed to the teeth as well.
“You are a fool.” he spat at Donal.  “You’re all fools!” he shouted to the crowds “It is too late we have already won. We would not be here if it were not so.”
“You may have won I do not know but I have a duty. A duty to the Empire; a duty to the Empress and a duty to my commander and friend and so I shall stand against you. No matter what.”
“Even if it means your death it seems”
The traitor had a gun in his hand before Donal could blink all he could do was calmly draw his basket hilted claymore, a gift from his Irish mother and hold his foe’s gaze.
“To paraphrase a song my mother once sang to me: Tonight I man the bhearna bhaoil in the Empire’s cause come woe or weal, through cannons roar and rifles peal seo libh canaig amhrán na bhfiann!”
Without thinking Donal put his heels to his horse and charged the traitors who did the same. It was one man against at least twenty but he did not care he had a duty to fulfill and by God he would do it. Before he had gone a yard though a series of deafening cracks thundered around the forum and his would be opponents fell to the ground dead or soon to be dead. Donal looked arounf and behind him smoke surrounded several of the soldiers behind him and closest to him on the colonnade who were slipning another cartridge into their rifles and closing over the breaches even as he recovered form the shock.
“He looked over the crowd now standing silently watching him or the bodies on the ground between himself and the crowd.
“That’s enough blood for all of us for today. Now go home and let us forget this happened.”
Slowly the crowed shuffled and then in first ones and twos then larger groups began to cautiously apporach the solders blocking the exists.
“Let them through!” Donal shouted
Soon a trickle became a flood and the crowd was rapidly disappearing.
“Good show there sir. I speak for everyone when I say I enjoyed the speech.”
It was the voice of Constantine MacAlpine; his ADC and long time friend.
“I did what I had to do and it wasn’t that great somebody had to do something or it would have been an absolute blood bath.”
“So what now?”
Donal thought for a moment. The south of the city seemed secure but what about the north Columba would probably have not yet reached the palace but what about the patriarch and Hagia Sophia?
“Everyone on the West and North sides of the forum will follow me to the Blachernae. You take everyone else and head for Hagia Sophia.”
“At once” Constantine galloped off to make it so.
Donal surveyed the scene around him his eyes drawn to the corpses in front of him. Looked like the senator had been right. Sometimes you can’t avoid blood being spilled. Though, Donal thought, the senator would probably be relieved that it was not as bad as it could have been. He tuned his back on the grizzly scene and rode north for the palace. Both hoping and dreading about what he would find there.

((Konstantinos))

Theodosio,

I know that you, and not me, are the savage for two reasons.  First, as a communist you wish to overthrow the aristocracy and our ancestral privileges.  Second, as a Spaniard you are not a true Roman and as such are not entitled to citizenship.  Remember the last time we tried extending Romanitas to non-Romans?  Constitutio Antoniniana, issued by Emperor Caracalla in the year of our Lord 212 during the later days of the Old Empire, extended citizenship to all free men and women of the Old Empire.  Before that, one of the main ways of becoming an Imperial citizen was to enlist in the Imperial legions.  With this edict in place, the army became less attractive to young men, and recruitment dropped, allowing barbarians to rampage across the Rhine and Danube and end the Old Empire for good.  The same is happening today.  Citizenship is extended to most in the New Empire by birth ((what’s our citizenship policy?)), and our legions are being overwhelmed by the constant rebellions we are facing.  It is time we ended birthright citizenship and made service in the army the primary route to citizenship–at least for pure Roman men, the only people who count.
Savage…what an interesting word.  I am not a savage, as I am a Roman and therefore by definition am a civilized man.  The same cannot be said about you, Spaniard.  May I remind you of the original definition of the word ‘barbarian’ in response?  Barbarian: “that which does not speak Greek.” “One not a Greek.” “One living outside the pale of the Empire and its civilization, applied especially to the northern nations that overthrew the Old Empire (and may I remind you that one of the barbarian groups, the Visigoths, which sacked Rome eventually settled in Spain?).” “One outside the pale of Christian civilization.” Note that I am quoting from the most recent edition of the dictionary issued by the Imperial University of Constantinople.
No, I will not kill you, not now.  It is true that your death would not mean much to me.  However, I can give you a fate worse than death for calling me a ‘coward’ as an example to the rest of what happens should you not join me…

Konstantinos shoots Theodosio in the neck with his second revolver, severing his spinal cord but leaving him alive.

((Alexios))
Alexios stumbled through the hallways of Blachernae, past the bodies of mutilated and violated servants and the desecrated paintings on the walls.  He needed a weapon, something to defend himself with…
There was a shout from behind him, and he turned to see one of Konstantinos’s men pointing a pistol at his head.
Alexios dived behind a table as the gun went off, the shot going wide and tearing through the wall behind Alexios.  The senator remembered his time in the Lancers.  He put all of his weight behind the table and charged, ramming the table straight into the traitor’s chest.  One punch and kick and the man was down.  Alexios took the revolver and dagger on the soldier and limped away.
Now to find a telephone or telegram to call for help…

He found the Imperial Communications office strangely untouched but abandoned.  He made his way to the nearest working telegraph (as he did not know how to use the telephone) and typed out a message to any Imperial military bases he knew.
“CONSTANTINOPLE STORMED BY A REACTIONARY PRETENDER STOP BLACHERNAE COMPRIMISED STOP SENATE AND PATRIARCH AND EMPRESS AND ROYAL FAMILY HELD HOSTAGE BY PRETENDER STOP ALL GARRISONS OVERWHELMED STOP SEND BACKUP AS SOON AS POSSIBLE STOP.”
He waited for five long minutes.  Then a response came:
“ALL LEGIONS BUSY PUTTING DOWN REGIONAL REBELLIONS STOP MASS REBELLIONS BREAKING OUT IN MAJOR CITIES STOP COMMUNISTS AND SOCIALISTS AND NON-GREEKS BEING PURGED BY MOBS STOP IMPERIAL AIRSHIP LA FRANCE IS EN ROUTE TO CONSTANTINOPLE FROM ROME STOP ETA SIX HOURS STOP.”
Now he had to hold out until the airship arrived.

((Michael))
Michael continued to sneak around the palace.  He found two guards standing sentry in front of a doorway and decided to investigate.
He walked up to them and said, “Excuse me, what are you doing?  Konstantinos will not appreciate you idleness.”
“Comrade, inside are the hostages,” replied a guard.
“What hostages?”
“You don’t know?  The Patriarch and the Empress’s husband and children and relatives are all in there.  We intend to execute them all once this is all over.”
“Oh, right, all of this killing was getting to my head.” Michael laughed, somewhat nervously.  “Well, good luck holding them!”
He left the guards and walked away, thinking about how he would break out the hostages.

((From the journal of General Ioannes of the Athenian Lancers))
I must have been asleep, for certainly if I had been fully awake I must have noticed the approach of such a remarkable place. In the gloom the courtyard looked of considerable size, and as several dark ways led from it under great round arches, it perhaps seemed bigger than it really is. I have not yet been able to see it by daylight.  And I was completely alone; my men were nowhere to be seen.  The driver assured me that the Lancers were off investigating a peculiar occurrence in a nearby village.
When the caleche stopped, the driver jumped down and held out his hand to assist me to alight. Again I could not but notice his prodigious strength. His hand actually seemed like a steel vice that could have crushed mine if he had chosen. Then he took my traps, and placed them on the ground beside me as I stood close to a great door, old and studded with large iron nails, and set in a projecting doorway of massive stone. I could see even in the dim light that the stone was massively carved, but that the carving had been much worn by time and weather. As I stood, the driver jumped again into his seat and shook the reins. The horses started forward, and trap and all disappeared down one of the dark openings.
I stood in silence where I was, for I did not know what to do. Of bell or knocker there was no sign. Through these frowning walls and dark window openings it was not likely that my voice could penetrate. The time I waited seemed endless, and I felt doubts and fears crowding upon me. What sort of place had I come to, and among what kind of people? What sort of grim adventure was it on which I had embarked? Was this a customary incident in the life of an Imperial soldier?  Mara would not like that. Soldier, for just before leaving Constantinople I got word that my promotion was successful, and I am now a full-blown member of the General Staff (of course, I would be promoted after I returned from this mission)! I began to rub my eyes and pinch myself to see if I were awake. It all seemed like a horrible nightmare to me, and I expected that I should suddenly awake, and find myself at home, with the dawn struggling in through the windows, as I had now and again felt in the morning after a day of overwork. But my flesh answered the pinching test, and my eyes were not to be deceived. I was indeed awake and among the Carpathians. All I could do now was to be patient, and to wait the coming of morning.
Just as I had come to this conclusion I heard a heavy step approaching behind the great door, and saw through the chinks the gleam of a coming light. Then there was the sound of rattling chains and the clanking of massive bolts drawn back. A key was turned with the loud grating noise of long disuse, and the great door swung back.
Within, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere. He held in his hand an antique silver lamp, in which the flame burned without a chimney or globe of any kind, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickered in the draught of the open door. The old man motioned me in with his right hand with a courtly gesture, saying in excellent Greek, but with a strange intonation.
“Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!” He made no motion of stepping to meet me, but stood like a statue, as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stone. The instant, however, that I had stepped over the threshold, he moved impulsively forward, and holding out his hand grasped mine with a strength which made me wince, an effect which was not lessened by the fact that it seemed cold as ice, more like the hand of a dead than a living man. Again he said.
“Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!” The strength of the handshake was so much akin to that which I had noticed in the driver, whose face I had not seen, that for a moment I doubted if it were not the same person to whom I was speaking. So to make sure, I said interrogatively, “Count Dracula?”
He bowed in a courtly was as he replied, “I am Dracula, and I bid you welcome, Mr. Dalassenos, to my house. Come in, the night air is chill, and you must need to eat and rest.”As he was speaking, he put the lamp on a bracket on the wall, and stepping out, took my luggage. He had carried it in before I could forestall him. I protested, but he insisted.
“Nay, sir, you are my guest. It is late, and my people are not available. Let me see to your comfort myself.”He insisted on carrying my traps along the passage, and then up a great winding stair, and along another great passage, on whose stone floor our steps rang heavily. At the end of this he threw open a heavy door, and I rejoiced to see within a well-lit room in which a table was spread for supper, and on whose mighty hearth a great fire of logs, freshly replenished, flamed and flared.
The Count halted, putting down my bags, closed the door, and crossing the room, opened another door, which led into a small octagonal room lit by a single lamp, and seemingly without a window of any sort. Passing through this, he opened another door, and motioned me to enter. It was a welcome sight. For here was a great bedroom well lighted and warmed with another log fire, also added to but lately, for the top logs were fresh, which sent a hollow roar up the wide chimney. The Count himself left my luggage inside and withdrew, saying, before he closed the door.
“You will need, after your journey, to refresh yourself by making your toilet. I trust you will find all you wish. When you are ready, come into the other room, where you will find your supper prepared.”
The light and warmth and the Count’s courteous welcome seemed to have dissipated all my doubts and fears. Having then reached my normal state, I discovered that I was half famished with hunger. So making a hasty toilet, I went into the other room.
I found supper already laid out. My host, who stood on one side of the great fireplace, leaning against the stonework, made a graceful wave of his hand to the table, and said,
“I pray you, be seated and sup how you please. You will I trust, excuse me that I do not join you, but I have dined already, and I do not sup.”
I handed to him the sealed letter which the General Staff. He opened it and read it gravely. Then, with a charming smile, he handed it to me to read. One passage of it, at least, gave me a thrill of pleasure.
“I must regret that an attack of gout, from which malady I am a constant sufferer, forbids absolutely any travelling on my part for some time to come. But I am happy to say I can send a sufficient substitute, one in whom I have every possible confidence. He is an experienced man, full of energy and talent in his own way, and of a very faithful disposition. He is discreet and silent, and has grown into manhood in my service. He shall be ready to attend on you when you will during his stay, and shall take your instructions in all matters.  He shall be able to sort out the business involving the Cult of Chernobog.”
The count himself came forward and took off the cover of a dish, and I fell to at once on an excellent roast chicken. This, with some cheese and a salad and a bottle of old tokay, of which I had two glasses, was my supper. During the time I was eating it the Count asked me many question as to my journey, and I told him by degrees all I had experienced.
By this time I had finished my supper, and by my host’s desire had drawn up a chair by the fire and begun to smoke a cigar which he offered me, at the same time excusing himself that he did not smoke. I had now an opportunity of observing him, and found him of a very marked physiognomy.
His face was a strong, a very strong, aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils, with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth. These protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. The chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor.
Hitherto I had noticed the backs of his hands as they lay on his knees in the firelight, and they had seemed rather white and fine. But seeing them now close to me, I could not but notice that they were rather coarse, broad, with squat fingers. Strange to say, there were hairs in the centre of the palm. The nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point. As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me, I could not repress a shudder. It may have been that his breath was rank, but a horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal.
The Count, evidently noticing it, drew back. And with a grim sort of smile, which showed more than he had yet done his protruberant teeth, sat himself down again on his own side of the fireplace. We were both silent for a while, and as I looked towards the window I saw the first dim streak of the coming dawn. There seemed a strange stillness over everything. But as I listened, I heard as if from down below in the valley the howling of many wolves. The Count’s eyes gleamed, and he said.
“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” Seeing, I suppose, some expression in my face strange to him, he added,”Ah, sir, you dwellers in the city cannot enter into the feelings of the hunter.” Then he rose and said.
“But you must be tired. Your bedroom is all ready, and tomorrow you shall sleep as late as you will. I have to be away till the afternoon, so sleep well and dream well!” With a courteous bow, he opened for me himself the door to the octagonal room, and I entered my bedroom.
I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt. I fear. I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul. God keep me, if only for the sake of those dear to me!

The next day…
It is again early morning, but I have rested and enjoyed the last twenty-four hours. I slept till late in the day, and awoke of my own accord. When I had dressed myself I went into the room where we had supped, and found a cold breakfast laid out, with coffee kept hot by the pot being placed on the hearth. There was a card on the table, on which was written–

I have to be absent for a while. Do not wait for me.
D.

I set to and enjoyed a hearty meal. When I had done, I looked for a bell, so that I might let the servants know I had finished, but I could not find one. There are certainly odd deficiencies in the house, considering the extraordinary evidences of wealth which are round me. The table service is of gold, and so beautifully wrought that it must be of immense value. The curtains and upholstery of the chairs and sofas and the hangings of my bed are of the costliest and most beautiful fabrics, and must have been of fabulous value when they were made, for they are centuries old, though in excellent order. I saw something like them in Vienna, but they were worn and frayed and moth-eaten. But still in none of the rooms is there a mirror. There is not even a toilet glass on my table, and I had to get the little shaving glass from my bag before I could either shave or brush my hair. I have not yet seen a servant anywhere, or heard a sound near the castle except the howling of wolves. Some time after I had finished my meal, I do not know whether to call it breakfast of dinner, for it was between five and six o’clock when I had it, I looked about for something to read, for I did not like to go about the castle until I had asked the Count’s permission. There was absolutely nothing in the room, book, newspaper, or even writing materials, so I opened another door in the room and found a sort of library. The door opposite mine I tried, but found locked.
In the library I found, to my great delight, a vast number of Greek books, whole shelves full of them, and bound volumes of magazines and newspapers. A table in the center was littered with Greek magazines and newspapers, though none of them were of very recent date. The books were of the most varied kind, history, geography, politics, political economy, botany, geology, law, all relating to the Empire and Imperial life and customs and manners. There were even such books of reference as the Constaninople Directory, the “Green” and “Blue” books, Phokas’s Almanac, the Army and Navy Lists, and it somehow gladdened my heart to see it, the Law List.
Whilst I was looking at the books, the door opened, and the Count entered. He saluted me in a hearty way, and hoped that I had had a good night’s rest. Then he went on.
“I am glad you found your way in here, for I am sure there is much that will interest you. These companions,” and he laid his hand on some of the books, “have been good friends to me, and for some years past, ever since I had the idea of going to Constantinople, have given me many, many hours of pleasure. Through them I have come to know your great Empire, and to know her is to love her. I long to go through the crowded streets of your mighty Constantinople, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its change, its death, and all that makes it what it is. But alas! As yet I only know your tongue through books. To you, my friend, I look that I know it to speak.”
“But, Count,” I said, “You know and speak Greek thoroughly!” He bowed gravely.
“I thank you, my friend, for your all too-flattering estimate, but yet I fear that I am but a little way on the road I would travel. True, I know the grammar and the words, but yet I know not how to speak them.
“Indeed,” I said, “You speak excellently.”
“Not so,” he answered. “Well, I know that, did I move and speak in your Constantinople, none there are who would not know me for a stranger. That is not enough for me. Here I am noble. I am a Boyar. The common people know me, and I am master. But a stranger in a strange land, he is no one. Men know him not, and to know not is to care not for. I am content if I am like the rest, so that no man stops if he sees me, or pauses in his speaking if he hears my words, `Ha, ha! A stranger!’ I have been so long master that I would be master still, or at least that none other should be master of me. You shall, I trust, rest here with me a while, so that by our talking I may learn the Imperial intonation. And I would that you tell me when I make error, even of the smallest, in my speaking. I am sorry that I had to be away so long today, but you will, I know forgive one who has so many important affairs in hand.” Of course I said all I could about being willing, and asked if I might come into that room when I chose. He answered, “Yes, certainly,” and added.
“You may go anywhere you wish in the castle, except where the doors are locked, where of course you will not wish to go. There is reason that all things are as they are, and did you see with my eyes and know with my knowledge, you would perhaps better understand.” I said I was sure of this, and then he went on.
“We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not the Empire. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things. Nay, from what you have told me of your experiences already, you know something of what strange things there may be.”
This led to much conversation, and as it was evident that he wanted to talk, if only for talking’s sake, I asked him many questions regarding things that had already happened to me or come within my notice. Sometimes he sheered off the subject, or turned the conversation by pretending not to understand, but generally he answered all I asked most frankly. Then as time went on, and I had got somewhat bolder, I asked him of some of the strange things of the preceding night, as for instance, why the coachman went to the places where he had seen the blue flames. He then explained to me that it was commonly believed that on a certain night of the year, last night, in fact, when all evil spirits are supposed to have unchecked sway, a blue flame is seen over any place where treasure has been concealed.
“That treasure has been hidden,” he went on, “in the region through which you came last night, there can be but little doubt. For it was the ground fought over for centuries by the Wallachian, the Saxon, and the Imperial. Why, there is hardly a foot of soil in all this region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, patriots or invaders. In the old days there were stirring times, when the Austrian and the Hungarian came up in hordes, and the patriots went out to meet them, men and women, the aged and the children too, and waited their coming on the rocks above the passes, that they might sweep destruction on them with their artificial avalanches. When the invader was triumphant he found but little, for whatever there was had been sheltered in the friendly soil.”
“But how,” said I, “can it have remained so long undiscovered, when there is a sure index to it if men will but take the trouble to look? “The Count smiled, and as his lips ran back over his gums, the long, sharp, canine teeth showed out strangely. He answered.
“Because your peasant is at heart a coward and a fool! Those flames only appear on one night, and on that night no man of this land will, if he can help it, stir without his doors. And, dear sir, even if he did he would not know what to do. Why, even the peasant that you tell me of who marked the place of the flame would not know where to look in daylight even for his own work. Even you would not, I dare be sworn, be able to find these places again?”
“There you are right,” I said. “I know no more than the dead where even to look for them.” Then we drifted into other matters.
“Come,” he said at last, “tell me of London and of the house which you have procured for me.” With an apology for my remissness, I went into my own room to get the papers from my bag. Whilst I was placing them in order I heard a rattling of china and silver in the next room, and as I passed through, noticed that the table had been cleared and the lamp lit, for it was by this time deep into the dark. The lamps were also lit in the study or library, and I found the Count lying on the sofa, reading, of all things in the world, a Greek Kyrillos’s Guide. When I came in he cleared the books and papers from the table, and with him I went into plans and deeds and figures of all sorts. He was interested in everything, and asked me a myriad questions about the place and its surroundings. He clearly had studied beforehand all he could get on the subject of the neighborhood, for he evidently at the end knew very much more than I did. When I remarked this, he answered.
We went thoroughly into the business of the Cult. I asked him questions regarding pagan Slavs who performed human sacrifice.  He informed me that he was a true Christian and would never work with such barbarians.  After all, he said, he was a boyar, and he did not work with such savages.  However, through all of this interrogating I felt as if he was hiding something…
Presently, with an excuse, he left me, asking me to pull my papers together. He was some little time away, and I began to look at some of the books around me. One was an atlas, which I found opened naturally to the Empire, as if that map had been much used. On looking at it I found in certain places little rings marked, and on examining these I noticed that one was near Constantinople near Blachernae. The other two were the Hagia Sophia and the Senate building.
It was the better part of an hour when the Count returned. “Aha!” he said. “Still at your books? Good! But you must not work always. Come! I am informed that your supper is ready.” He took my arm, and we went into the next room, where I found an excellent supper ready on the table. The Count again excused himself, as he had dined out on his being away from home. But he sat as on the previous night, and chatted whilst I ate. After supper I smoked, as on the last evening, and the Count stayed with me, chatting and asking questions on every conceivable subject, hour after hour. I felt that it was getting very late indeed, but I did not say anything, for I felt under obligation to meet my host’s wishes in every way. I was not sleepy, as the long sleep yesterday had fortified me, but I could not help experiencing that chill which comes over one at the coming of the dawn, which is like, in its way, the turn of the tide. They say that people who are near death die generally at the change to dawn or at the turn of the tide. Anyone who has when tired, and tied as it were to his post, experienced this change in the atmosphere can well believe it. All at once we heard the crow of the cock coming up with preternatural shrillness through the clear morning air.
Count Dracula, jumping to his feet, said, “Why there is the morning again! How remiss I am to let you stay up so long. I may not forget how time flies by us,” and with a courtly bow, he quickly left me.
I went into my room and drew the curtains, but there was little to notice. My window opened into the courtyard, all I could see was the warm grey of quickening sky. So I pulled the curtains again, and have written of this day.

The next day.

–I began to fear as I wrote in this book that I was getting too diffuse. But now I am glad that I went into detail from the first, for there is something so strange about this place and all in it that I cannot but feel uneasy. I wish I were safe out of it, or that I had never come. It may be that this strange night existence is telling on me, but would that that were all! If there were any one to talk to I could bear it, but there is no one. I have only the Count to speak with, and he– I fear I am myself the only living soul within the place. Let me be prosaiac so far as facts can be. It will help me to bear up, and imagination must not run riot with me. If it does I am lost. Let me say at once how I stand, or seem to.
I only slept a few hours when I went to bed, and feeling that I could not sleep any more, got up. I had hung my shaving glass by the window, and was just beginning to shave. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder, and heard the Count’s voice saying to me, “Good morning.” I started, for it amazed me that I had not seen him, since the reflection of the glass covered the whole room behind me. In starting I had cut myself slightly, but did not notice it at the moment. Having answered the Count’s salutation, I turned to the glass again to see how I had been mistaken. This time there could be no error, for the man was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflection of him in the mirror! The whole room behind me was displayed, but there was no sign of a man in it, except myself.
This was startling, and coming on the top of so many strange things, was beginning to increase that vague feeling of uneasiness which I always have when the Count is near. But at the instant I saw that the cut had bled a little, and the blood was trickling over my chin. I laid down the razor, turning as I did so half round to look for some sticking plaster. When the Count saw my face, his eyes blazed with a sort of demoniac fury, and he suddenly made a grab at my throat. I drew away and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It made an instant change in him, for the fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was ever there.
“Take care,” he said, “take care how you cut yourself. It is more dangerous that you think in this country.” Then seizing the shaving glass, he went on, “And this is the wretched thing that has done the mischief. It is a foul bauble of man’s vanity. Away with it!” And opening the window with one wrench of his terrible hand, he flung out the glass, which was shattered into a thousand pieces on the stones of the courtyard far below. Then he withdrew without a word. It is very annoying, for I do not see how I am to shave, unless in my watch-case or the bottom of the shaving pot, which is fortunately of metal.
When I went into the dining room, breakfast was prepared, but I could not find the Count anywhere. So I breakfasted alone. It is strange that as yet I have not seen the Count eat or drink. He must be a very peculiar man! After breakfast I did a little exploring in the castle. I went out on the stairs, and found a room looking towards the South.
The view was magnificent, and from where I stood there was every opportunity of seeing it. The castle is on the very edge of a terrific precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
But I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view I explored further. Doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted. In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit. The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!
I can only hope my fellow Lancers can find me before something happens to me.

Ambrosio stared in shock at the corpse of his dead father and the body of the paralyzed socialist. He had came unarmed, not expecting a revolution. He heard bursts of gunfire happening outside Blachernae, he knew that the troops he had brought along were in deep trouble. He did not dare to speak as the lunatic reactionary pretender had already killed his father when his father shouted at the pretender for being a false emperor. Diederick looked very wary and had his hand in his pocket. Could it be that his younger brother had brought a weapon to the Senate meeting?

Senator Columba and his guard were slowly working their way through the labyrinthine servants passages of the palace covered with dirt, sweat, tears and blood that may or may not have been theirs. So far those they had come across they had been able to silence with sword or knife but as they moved onward the same question was on everyone’s mind: How long before they had to shoot? With their rifles it would be hard to miss in the halls of the palace and their revolvers were quicker though less accurate  but ammunition for both was low the hadn’t planned on a fight when they had first left Retia for the city and after that everything had happened so quickly nobody had remembered to bring extra cartridges though they had been able to pick up odiments of armour fromm old wall displays that though were undoubtedly antique were better than the long kilts and bunnets (bonnets) they were wearing. They moved through a doorway and into a hallway they had left the servants passages but where exactly were they?
“Looks clear sir there’s an arch with steps just across the hall to the left.”
“Alright quickly men on 3; 1…2…3!”
They ran across the hall and through the arch.
“Everyone here?”
“Yes sir.”
“Right lets go and keep low”
They climbed the stairs moving closer to the ground as the reached the top till they were sliding across the ground. They reached the top where the arch opened onto a courtyard surrounded by a cloister which protruded from the larger buildings around it and was filled with dust from and rubble from what he had to assume was a bomb. It must have been how the man in the courtyard had managed to safely climb down from an open window above them. Henry-Martini rifles in had the guards slowly moved up until they lined the top of the stairs; slowly they moved forward eyes scanning the surrounding walls for any hint of movement. Taking a chance Columba  dropped his rifle and darted over to the fountain only to find old Alexios Doukas lying by the fountain. He seemed to recall the senator had been in a similiar situation just over 30 years ago now. Columba hadn’t event been born then but he had always held Alexios in high regard for his actions back then. Now it seemed the burden lay with him this time round.
“Alexios”
“Who…?”
Neither daring to raise their voice above a whisper
“It’s me Columba what’s happening? Where is everyone? Where are we?” by this time his men had gathered in the courtyard and were checking windows and doors trying to look for a quiet way out
“Slow down man and let me speak”
“Sorry”
“That open window is the great hall where my son and his followers are holding the Empress and Senate hostage.”
“How many men did they have?”
“You can see from the Windows.”
“Right we’ll get you patched up best we can and then get moving”
“O’Donnell get over hear.”
“Governor”
“What can you do for him?”
“I managed to grab a first aid kit somewhere along the line. It’s basic but better than nothing.”
“Get to it we won’t be here long”
“McKechnie, MacKenzie get up on the cloister see those window take a peak but make sure your not seen”
“Right you are sir.”
“On it”
“Wilson find a door that isn’t locked that might lead to the hall quickly”
“Right you are sir. Uhm if you don’t mind sir, I was rather wondering if I could take Fairfax and Carstairs along with me you haven’t happened to have seen them have you?”
“No I haven’t. where are the?”
“HELLO!”
“Shhh keep it down you two!”
Fairfax and Carstairs were two of the few English people in the group and where decent chaps as they would say with rather magnificent moustaches but their posh Fighter-command style accents were unbearable
“Ohh terribly sorry old chap.”
“Didn’t mean anything by it old bean.”
“Aye,aye well Wilson wants you two so get to it.”
“Right you are!”
“Abslolutely spiffing idea”
“Keep it down(!)”
“Sorry.”
Wilson and the trouser clad tits walked off to find a suitable means of egress.
“O’Donnell how are you doing?”
“Just a while longer”
“We don’t have a while. When we move off I’ll get MacIntosh, MacGuffin and Dingwall to stay behind.”
He handed a revolver to Alexios”
“Here you go I hope you don’t have to use it but you might have to.”
“Thank you and be careful”
“You’ll pull through you did last time.”
“It was not my son I was fighting last time”
“No it wasn’t.”
“Uhm excuse me sir but I believe I may have found a suitable exit.”
“Excellent Wilson let’s get going. McKechnie, MacKenzie you two, MacDuff, and O’Neil stay behind and watch the windows but keep your heads down if we come though the doors feel free to shoot but watch who your shooting.”
“Aye sir.”
“Right let’s go.”

The senator and his remaining guardsmen set off back into the palace leaving 8 of their comrades and an injured Senator behind.

((Konstantinos))
“Bring the hostages before me!” Konstantinos ordered.
Some soldiers entered the room, dragging the various members of the royal family as well as the Ecumenical Patriarch into the room.  Some gasps and murmurs from the senators were heard.
“You see, false Empress, I will decide the fates of your husband, children, and religious head.  I shall show mercy and spare them should you give up the throne to me,” said Konstantinos, “Otherwise…well, you all know by this point what I’m going to do.  Senators, I will also be giving you one last chance; join me, or die.”
When no senator stepped forward to defect, the Empress said, “You underestimate the power of the Senate.  They are utterly loyal to Us.  We shall never give up the throne, especially to madmen like you.  May you rot in Hell or any afterlife you believe in for eternity, traitor of the Empire.”
Konstantinos pretended not to hear the Empress’s words.  “Very well, then.  Guards…”
He motioned to his guards.  The soldiers raised their rifles and aimed at the hostages’ heads…

All of a sudden, there was the sound of whirling blades in the air.  Throwing knives materialized out of nowhere and embedded themselves in the chests of the soldiers, who all went down quickly.  Black-clad assassins emerged from the windows, ceiling, and basically every unexpected location for someone to enter by and descended on the soldiers silently and swiftly.
“Nobody kills the Patriarch or Empress but the Cult!” shouted a Slavic-looking man with an eyepatch as he kicked open the main doors and drew a long sword of Russian size.
Konstantinos’s eyes widened.  “YOU?!  THE CULT?!” he screamed.
Then he regained his calmness.  “Excellent, my mortal enemy has arrived.  Time to die, Iosef Ignatieff, heathen scum!”
Konstantinos drew his own sword and lunged at the Cult leader.

((Michael))

Michael hid behind a corner as he heard footsteps approach.  As the enemies rounded the corner, he lunged with his dagger at…Alexios?
He barely stopped himself from slashing open his father’s throat.  Alexios and the men accompanying him were equally shocked.
“Father?”
“Son?”
They embraced each other.  “Thank heavens you’re alive!” both of them said.
Alexios explained to Michael how backup was arriving soon in the form of the airship La France, while Michael explained how Konstantinos was holding the royal family and the Patriarch hostage.
Together they worked out a plan to take down Konstantinos…

Columba and his men were sneaking through the palace trying to be quiet but their footsteps seemed to echo unbearably loud around the wide halls.
“Your eminence I think I saw movement.”
“Where”
“In the corridor parallel to us. Off to the left.”
“Right then. Everyone ready. We’ll jump them at the next junction we need to be quick here so on my mark: GO!”
They ran along the hall around the next corner to find themselves face to face with.
“Don’t shoot! Lefebvre you’re a sight for sore eyes how did you get in here”
Marcel Lefebvre was the commander of the Senator’s Swiss Guard company and a die-hard traditionalist and loyalist to the Empire
“We heard your summons and ran like the wind we reached the city walls at the north end. Believe it or not not one person was watching the gates or that side of the palace they were, and last I heard still are, on the other side and things are starting to get bloody out there.”
“You think so?”
“We heard gunfire just as we came into the palace so I think it’s safe to say things are getting bloody.”
“Did you bring anyone else?”
“Just my own company the others are outside keeping out of sight for now.”
“Good, they might be needed. The uniform’s a bit conspicuous”
“We didn’t have time to change. We came here expecting a birthday parade not a civil war. When we heard we dropped everything and ran but this is worse than we imagined.”
“You and me both pal.”
“SENATOR DOWN”
Marcel tried to grab the senator and throw him aside but before he could Columba had done the same to him. He turned round face to face with one of Konstantinos’ traitors mere yards away but before anyone could blink he went down only to be replaced my two men in black who turned their guns on the senator. Both men went down in a hail of lead but not before they had managed to get a shot of each one of which hit Columba in his left had. It went straight through his wrist and the center boss on his shield before clattering off the ceremonial helmet of one of the Swiss Guards. It was all over in the blink of and eye.
Everyone was staring at the corpses in disbelief.
“The cult here?” said one of the guards
“Either something bigger than we imagined is going on. Or Konstantinos and these savages who bring insult to the word “barbarian” just so happened to revolt on the same day. Let us pray it is the latter and they ave been doing us the favor of killing each other.”
“Look Out!”
One of the cultists was not dead yet. He raised his gun but all he got for his trouble was another overdose of .303 lead cure-alls. His gun fired though and the bullet ricochet off the ceiling and into Columba’s foot this time.
“AAACH Jings, criven, help me bob!” The senator hopping up and down on one leg in a manner most unbecoming of a senator
“Pardon me for asking senator” It was Marcel picking himself up off the floor and dusting himself down “but which of us exactly is meant to be the bodyguard here?”
“You’re quite right Marcel. Stupid of me but if anyone has any bandages I need them now.”
“It doesn’t look to serious those were small caliber rounds and the missed the main blood vessels.”
The guard spent the next several minutes wrapping bandages and other not so bandagey looking materials around Columba’s wrist and foot
“Right that ought to do for now. Can you walk senator.”
“I can limp”
Marcel stepped forward “Best to be hoped for given the circumstances. Now if you don’t mind we need to move”
“Quite right commander let’s go men.”
Columba moved forward as dignified and upright as it was possible for a man in his position to be.
Only to slip in the blood of the traitors and land face first in it.
“I’m alright!” he said now covered completely in blood. “But somebody do something about those bodies they’re a serious trip hazard”
A few minuets later the motley group set off again. keeping clear of the patch of floor that was stained red and had a “Danger wet floor” sign in the middle of it swords, armour and guns resplendent in the light coming through the high windows. Led by a limping blood drenched man using a Swiss halberd for a walking stick. The moved quickly now making no attempt at stealth. The entire palace would have heard those gun shots, the throne room was only a few more turns away and with more than 150 men it would be hard for anyone to overpower them now.
“It looks as though the traitors have indeed been killing each other.” Marcel announced to no one in particular.
“That means less for us to kill” was the senators reply “but we get the glory all the same!” he shouted to these behind him and was met by a loud cheer no one hard the conclusion he muttered to himself. “or shame, depending on how this turns out.”

The fabric Leonardo had used to cover his wound was soaked red and continued to bleed.  He tried to keep pressure on it, but his hands were starting to feel cold and numb.  Just looking at all the blood made him dizzy.  He usually didn’t faint at such a sight, and perhaps it wasn’t the sight at all.  He could be lightheaded from the loss of blood.  And was the room moving too?  How strange.

The chaos going on in the room was a hazy blur.  People screaming about coups, cults, and communism just gave Leonardo a booming headache.  Why was this happening?  Why was any of this happening?  Rome was the greatest empire on Earth and had proven such from its domination of the world for centuries.  Yet despite that, people kept trying to tear it down from within.  Why could no one be content with all that the Empire and Empress had given them?  The Empress could spoonfeed them with a silver spoon and they’d still demand more.

Sudden clarity hit Leonardo like the headache plaguing his brain.  There would never be an end to this madness, not while the Empire continued on its current path.  No matter how much wealth and prosperity the Empire provided its people, they would always demand more.  More rights, more freedom, and ultimately as a result, more bloodshed.  The people of this world were greedy.  They all wanted to be emperors and empresses, to live in splendour and decide the fate of the world.  An empire ruled by self-indulged peasants who envisioned themselves as professional statesmen was doomed to fall.  If their desires were indulged, even in the slightest, they would push for more until their greed drove the Empire to its knees.  They could never be trusted to put the needs of the Empire first.  Only the Empress and her predecessors had proven their ability to rule.  Only under the Empress’s guidance could the Empire truly flourish.  If the people succeeded in siphoning away her power to fulfill their near-sighted wants and needs, the Empire would be doomed.  The only solution was to keep them from ever doing that.  The people had to be kept down for their own good so that those most qualified to govern could provide everything for them.  The people would not like it, but if they wanted food to eat and a place to sleep at night, they’d have to accept it.  The Empire, no the entire world, would be better off this way.  Leonardo was sure of it.

What Leonardo was also sure of was that he was losing a lot of blood.  He took one last look at his wounded leg and passed out.

((Morning of the Imperial Coup))
Magnus and Jensen await quietly in a office overlooking the Bosporus, Magnus sipping from a glass of orange juice and Jensen reading his book.
Jensen glanced over to Magnus, who was fixated on some random object, something he did often when he was nervous.
Jensen sighs and says:
“Sir, you must stop worrying, we’ve done everything you needed.”
“I always worry, if its not fool-proof, it can go wrong. Its was the one aspect I got from father.”
“Sir, you have the control of Oceania, you can’t ask for more and you certainly full-filled your part of the plan.”
“I suppose your right.”
They continued to sit in silence while Magnus shifted his focus to his yacht being prepared by some sailors.
His view was suddenly blocked by a man holding a thick package firmly in his grasp.
He uttered: “Magnus.”
Magnus’ face lit up with joy, while jumping out of his chair he exclaimed: “Kol!”
Jensen quietly closed his book while Kol and Magnus shook hands and casually walked up to them.
They noticed Jensen and calmed down instantly.
“Right then, Kol, these are from Paris?”
“I always finish my contracts.”
“Then we’re set.”
Magnus pats Kol on the shoulder and all three of them leave the office and start to approach the yacht.
One sailor notices the group approaching and whistles loudly, getting the attention of all the other sailors who also stopped working as they all met up at the dock.
The sailors formed a solid wall of people preventing the group from going on the yacht.
“Gentlemen?”
“We ain’t no gentleman, we are Romans, unlike you all.”
“Excuse me?”
“You aren’t going any where ‘Senator’, you barbarians can’t tell real Romans, like us. You foreigners are the reason all of me family is out of a job, given power by a weak Empress that probably gets off to you Germans”
“Oh my” said Jensen under his breath.
“Konstantinos is a real Roman and he’ll bring us a great purge and make Rome great again!
Murmurs of agreement come from his sailor followers.
Magnus slowly backed away from the sailors as their leader turned around to inspire his sailors further.
As the leader of the sailors turned back he noticed that Magnus and his entourage had grown from 3 to 30 and about 27 had revolvers aimed at the soldiers.
“YOU CAN’T KILL ME, EVEN THE LOWEST ROMAN IS SUPERIOR TO THE HIGHEST GERMAN!”
“I tire of this Anders.”
Suddenly the raging sailor’s head explodes and is distributed over the faces of the sailors behind him as Anders quickly rotates the chamber to a new round.
“I GREATLY tire of this Anders.”
Suddenly the sailors start to be riddled with bullets from the 27 men, falling each and every way into the water and on the deck, until each sailor laid dead.
“Satisfied sir?”
“Very much, now come along”
Magnus turns and gazes Blachernae and then the Senate Bulding and noticed smoke approaching both.
“Here comes the winds of change, may you all survive the storm.”
“Come sir, everything is set for Alexandria.”
“Good, good” said Magnus

((Throne Room))

“HAHAHAHAHAHA!” laughed Markos Angelos, Konstantinos’s right-hand-man, as he lounged on the the throne, “For too long have my family been cast aside as failures by the other Angeloi!  Now we are masters of the Empire, and the Angeloi–the true Angeloi–will save the Empire after the purging is finished!  The Angeloi protect!  Yeah, that’s going to be my motto.  And people will recognize my saintly actions soon, and refer to me as Saint Markos!  Yeah, Saint Markos!  That sounds like an awesome name!”

((Konstantinos))

Konstantinos was so focused on killing Ignatieff that he didn’t notice he had left the Senate room and was now fighting in the hallways, slowly pushing the Slav towards an open balcony.
“Die, filthy Slav!” he shouted, his blade repeatedly jabbing and slashing.
“Never!” replied Ignatieff.
One more lunge and Ignatieff’s sword went flying.  The Cult leader stumbled backward as Konstantinos advanced and…sheathed his sword?  Konstantinos picked up a pistol from a dead Varangian.
“What?!” shouted Ignatieff.
“I prefer to do things…dramatically,” said Konstantinos.  “THIS…IS…ROME!”
He kicked Ignatieff off the balcony.
Konstantinos looked over the balcony to see where the body landed, but Ignatieff–or his body–had vanished.

((Senate Room))

The battle between the reactionaries and the Cult was over.  Konstantinos’s guards lay dead on the floor as the Cultists turned to look at the Senators.
“You all live…for now,” said their leader, “We will meet again another day.”
And the Cultists vanished as quicklky as they had arrived.

((Harbor))

As some ships tried to escape the city, Konstantinos’s supporters raised a large chain across the Bosphorus, preventing any ships from leaving.

((The La France))

“Colonel, we are approaching Constantinople,” said an officer, “The situation looks rather bad down there.”
“Nothing a few bombs can’t fix,” said Colonel John Melissenos, “Steer a course for Blachernae and drop our payload on any hostiles below.”
Several explosives dropped from the bottom of the La France, dispersing some of the mobs.

((Alexios)

The two walked through the deserted halls of the palace.
“Where did Konstantinos go?” muttered Michael, “He’s not in the Senate.”
“Strange, yes,” said Alexios, “I’ll look around for him.”
They separated.
Alexios emerged onto a balcony, where he found Konstantinos standing alone, staring off into the distance and overlooking the city.
“Such…pureness…and I had to ruin it…” Konstantinos said.  “But it was necessary to purge the disloyal elements to restore the Empire’s greatness.”
In the distance, they saw the La France approaching Blachernae, dropping bombs on the mobs and rebels.
Alexios was unarmed–that last scuffle with a rebel soldier caused him to drop his weapons in a hurry.
But he could still take down Konstantinos…at a price…

((Ioannes Dalassenos))

When I found that I was a prisoner a sort of wild feeling came over me. I rushed up and down the stairs, trying every door and peering out of every window I could find, but after a little the conviction of my helplessness overpowered all other feelings. When I look back after a few hours I think I must have been mad for the time, for I behaved much as a rat does in a trap. When, however, the conviction had come to me that I was helpless I sat down quietly, as quietly as I have ever done anything in my life, and began to think over what was best to be done. I am thinking still, and as yet have come to no definite conclusion. Of one thing only am I certain. That it is no use making my ideas known to the Count. He knows well that I am imprisoned, and as he has done it himself, and has doubtless his own motives for it, he would only deceive me if I trusted him fully with the facts. So far as I can see, my only plan will be to keep my knowledge and my fears to myself, and my eyes open. I am, I know, either being deceived, like a baby, by my own fears, or else I am in desperate straits, and if the latter be so, I need, and shall need, all my brains to get through.
I had hardly come to this conclusion when I heard the great door below shut, and knew that the Count had returned. He did not come at once into the library, so I went cautiously to my own room and found him making the bed. This was odd, but only confirmed what I had all along thought, that there are no servants in the house. When later I saw him through the chink of the hinges of the door laying the table in the dining room, I was assured of it. For if he does himself all these menial offices, surely it is proof that there is no one else in the castle, it must have been the Count himself who was the driver of the coach that brought me here. This is a terrible thought, for if so, what does it mean that he could control the wolves, as he did, by only holding up his hand for silence? How was it that all the people at Bistritz and on the coach had some terrible fear for me? What meant the giving of the crucifix, of the garlic, of the wild rose, of the mountain ash?
Bless that good, good woman who hung the crucifix round my neck! For it is a comfort and a strength to me whenever I touch it. It is odd that a thing which I have been taught to regard with disfavour and as idolatrous should in a time of loneliness and trouble be of help. Is it that there is something in the essence of the thing itself, or that it is a medium, a tangible help, in conveying memories of sympathy and comfort? Some time, if it may be, I must examine this matter and try to make up my mind about it. In the meantime I must find out all I can about Count Dracula, as it may help me to understand. Tonight he may talk of himself, if I turn the conversation that way. I must be very careful, however, not to awake his suspicion.
Midnight.
–I have had a long talk with the Count. I asked him a few questions on Transylvania’s history, which I was unfamiliar to, and he warmed up to the subject wonderfully. In his speaking of things and people, and especially of battles, he spoke as if he had been present at them all. This he afterwards explained by saying that to a Boyar the pride of his house and name is his own pride, that their glory is his glory, that their fate is his fate. Whenever he spoke of his house he always said “we”, and spoke almost in the plural, like a king speaking. I wish I could put down all he said exactly as he said it, for to me it was most fascinating. It seemed to have in it a whole history of the country. He grew excited as he spoke, and walked about the room pulling his great white moustache and grasping anything on which he laid his hands as though he would crush it by main strength. One thing he said which I shall put down as nearly as I can, for it tells in its way the story of his race.
“We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lordship. Here, in the whirlpool of European races, the Ugric tribe bore down from Iceland the fighting spirit which Thor and Wodin game them, which their Berserkers displayed to such fell intent on the seaboards of Europe, aye, and of Asia and Africa too, till the peoples thought that the werewolves themselves had come; and to hear that your Empire had harnessed their power in the Varangians! Here, too, when they came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a living flame, till the dying peoples held that in their veins ran the blood of those old witches, who, expelled from Scythia had mated with the devils in the desert. Fools, fools! What devil or what witch was ever so great as Attila, whose blood is in these veins?” He held up his arms. “Is it a wonder that we were a conquering race, that we were proud, that when the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar, or the Imperial poured his thousands on our frontiers, we drove them back? Is it strange that when Arpad and his legions swept through the Hungarian fatherland he found us here when he reached the frontier, that the Honfoglalas was completed there?And when the Hungarian flood swept eastward, the Szekelys were claimed as kindred by the victorious Magyars, and to us for centuries was trusted the guarding of the frontier of the Empire. Aye, and more than that, endless duty of the frontier guard, for as the Imperials say, `water sleeps, and the enemy is sleepless.’ Who more gladly than we throughout the Four Nations received the `bloody sword,’ or at its warlike call flocked quicker to the standard of the King?  Who was it but one of my own race who as Voivode crossed the Danube and beat our enemies on his own ground? This was a Dracula indeed!  Bah! What good are peasants without a leader? Where ends the war without a brain and heart to conduct it?  Ah, young sir, the Szekelys, and the Dracula as their heart’s blood, their brains, and their swords, can boast a record that mushroom growths like the Hapsburgs and the Rurikids and the Doukoi can never reach (may your Empress reign for many long years, I assure you I have nothing against her). The warlike days are over. Blood is too precious a thing in these days of dishonourable peace, and the glories of the great races are as a tale that is told.”
It was by this time close on morning, and we went to bed. (Mem., this diary seems horribly like the beginning of the “Arabian Nights,” for everything has to break off at cockcrow, or like the ghost of Hamlet’s father.)

The next day.

–Let me begin with facts, bare, meager facts, verified by books and figures, and of which there can be no doubt. I must not confuse them with experiences which will have to rest on my own observation, or my memory of them. Last evening when the Count came from his room he began by asking me questions on legal matters and on the doing of certain kinds of business, which was quite different from the interrogations I had been conducting. I had spent the day wearily over books, and, simply to keep my mind occupied, went over some of the matters I had been examined in at Loukas’s Inn. There was a certain method in the Count’s inquiries, so I shall try to put them down in sequence. The knowledge may somehow or some time be useful to me.
[REDACTED]
“I trust you will forgive me, but I have much work to do in private this evening. You will, I hope, find all things as you wish.” At the door he turned, and after a moment’s pause said, “Let me advise you, my dear young friend. Nay, let me warn you with all seriousness, that should you leave these rooms you will not by any chance go to sleep in any other part of the castle. It is old, and has many memories, and there are bad dreams for those who sleep unwisely. Be warned! Should sleep now or ever overcome you, or be like to do, then haste to your own chamber or to these rooms, for your rest will then be safe. But if you be not careful in this respect, then,” He finished his speech in a gruesome way, for he motioned with his hands as if he were washing them. I quite understood. My only doubt was as to whether any dream could be more terrible than the unnatural, horrible net of gloom and mystery which seemed closing around me.

Later.

–I endorse the last words written, but this time there is no doubt in question. I shall not fear to sleep in any place where he is not. I have placed the crucifix over the head of my bed, I imagine that my rest is thus freer from dreams, and there it shall remain.
When he left me I went to my room. After a little while, not hearing any sound, I came out and went up the stone stair to where I could look out towards the South. There was some sense of freedom in the vast expanse, inaccessible though it was to me, as compared with the narrow darkness of the courtyard. Looking out on this, I felt that I was indeed in prison, and I seemed to want a breath of fresh air, though it were of the night. I am beginning to feel this nocturnal existence tell on me. It is destroying my nerve. I start at my own shadow, and am full of all sorts of horrible imaginings. God knows that there is ground for my terrible fear in this accursed place!I looked out over the beautiful expanse, bathed in soft yellow moonlight till it was almost as light as day. In the soft light the distant hills became melted, and the shadows in the valleys and gorges of velvety blackness. The mere beauty seemed to cheer me. There was peace and comfort in every breath I drew. As I leaned from the window my eye was caught by something moving a storey below me, and somewhat to my left, where I imagined, from the order of the rooms, that the windows of the Count’s own room would look out. The window at which I stood was tall and deep, stone-mullioned, and though weatherworn, was still complete. But it was evidently many a day since the case had been there. I drew back behind the stonework, and looked carefully out.
What I saw was the Count’s head coming out from the window. I did not see the face, but I knew the man by the neck and the movement of his back and arms. In any case I could not mistake the hands which I had had some many opportunities of studying. I was at first interested and somewhat amused, for it is wonderful how small a matter will interest and amuse a man when he is a prisoner. But my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when I saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over the dreadful abyss, face down with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings. At first I could not believe my eyes. I thought it was some trick of the moonlight, some weird effect of shadow, but I kept looking, and it could be no delusion. I saw the fingers and toes grasp the corners of the stones, worn clear of the mortar by the stress of years, and by thus using every projection and inequality move downwards with considerable speed, just as a lizard moves along a wall.
What manner of man is this, or what manner of creature, is it in the semblance of man? I feel the dread of this horrible place overpowering me. I am in fear, in awful fear, and there is no escape for me. I am encompassed about with terrors that I dare not think of.  He is empowered by the Cult, I am sure of it!

Three days later…

–Once more I have seen the count go out in his lizard fashion. He moved downwards in a sidelong way, some hundred feet down, and a good deal to the left. He vanished into some hole or window. When his head had disappeared, I leaned out to try and see more, but without avail. The distance was too great to allow a proper angle of sight. I knew he had left the castle now, and thought to use the opportunity to explore more than I had dared to do as yet. I went back to the room, and taking a lamp, tried all the doors. They were all locked, as I had expected, and the locks were comparatively new. But I went down the stone stairs to the hall where I had entered originally. I found I could pull back the bolts easily enough and unhook the great chains. But the door was locked, and the key was gone! That key must be in the Count’s room. I must watch should his door be unlocked, so that I may get it and escape. I went on to make a thorough examination of the various stairs and passages, and to try the doors that opened from them. One or two small rooms near the hall were open, but there was nothing to see in them except old furniture, dusty with age and moth-eaten. At last, however, I found one door at the top of the stairway which, though it seemed locked, gave a little under pressure. I tried it harder, and found that it was not really locked, but that the resistance came from the fact that the hinges had fallen somewhat, and the heavy door rested on the floor. Here was an opportunity which I might not have again, so I exerted myself, and with many efforts forced it back so that I could enter. I was now in a wing of the castle further to the right than the rooms I knew and a storey lower down. From the windows I could see that the suite of rooms lay along to the south of the castle, the windows of the end room looking out both west and south. On the latter side, as well as to the former, there was a great precipice. The castle was built on the corner of a great rock, so that on three sides it was quite impregnable, and great windows were placed here where sling, or bow, or culverin could not reach, and consequently light and comfort, impossible to a position which had to be guarded, were secured. To the west was a great valley, and then, rising far away, great jagged mountain fastnesses, rising peak on peak, the sheer rock studded with mountain ash and thorn, whose roots clung in cracks and crevices and crannies of the stone. This was evidently the portion of the castle occupied by the ladies in bygone days, for the furniture had more an air of comfort than any I had seen.
The windows were curtainless, and the yellow moonlight, flooding in through the diamond panes, enabled one to see even colours, whilst it softened the wealth of dust which lay over all and disguised in some measure the ravages of time and moth. My lamp seemed to be of little effect in the brilliant moonlight, but I was glad to have it with me, for there was a dread loneliness in the place which chilled my heart and made my nerves tremble. Still, it was better than living alone in the rooms which I had come to hate from the presence of the Count, and after trying a little to school my nerves, I found a soft quietude come over me. Here I am, sitting at a little oak table where in old times possibly some fair lady sat to pen, with much thought and many blushes, her ill-spelt love letter, and writing in my diary in shorthand all that has happened since I closed it last. It is the nineteenth century up-to-date with a vengeance. And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere “modernity” cannot kill.

Later: The morning of the next day.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME?!

–God preserve my sanity, for to this I am reduced. Safety and the assurance of safety are things of the past. Whilst I live on here there is but one thing to hope for, that I may not go mad, if, indeed, I be not mad already. If I be sane, then surely it is maddening to think that of all the foul things that lurk in this hateful place the Count is the least dreadful to me, that to him alone I can look for safety, even though this be only whilst I can serve his purpose. Great God! Merciful God, let me be calm, for out of that way lies madness indeed. I begin to get new lights on certain things which have puzzled me. Up to now I never quite knew what Shakespeare meant when he made Hamlet say, “My tablets! Quick, my tablets! `tis meet that I put it down,” etc., For now, feeling as though my own brain were unhinged or as if the shock had come which must end in its undoing, I turn to my diary for repose. The habit of entering accurately must help to soothe me.
The Count’s mysterious warning frightened me at the time. It frightens me more not when I think of it, for in the future he has a fearful hold upon me. I shall fear to doubt what he may say!
When I had written in my diary and had fortunately replaced the book and pen in my pocket I felt sleepy. The Count’s warning came into my mind, but I took pleasure in disobeying it. The sense of sleep was upon me, and with it the obstinacy which sleep brings as outrider. The soft moonlight soothed, and the wide expanse without gave a sense of freedom which refreshed me. I determined not to return tonight to the gloom-haunted rooms, but to sleep here, where, of old, ladies had sat and sung and lived sweet lives whilst their gentle breasts were sad for their menfolk away in the midst of remorseless wars. I drew a great couch out of its place near the corner, so that as I lay, I could look at the lovely view to east and south, and unthinking of and uncaring for the dust, composed myself for sleep. I suppose I must have fallen asleep. I hope so, but I fear, for all that followed was startlingly real, so real that now sitting here in the broad, full sunlight of the morning, I cannot in the least believe that it was all sleep.
I was not alone. The room was the same, unchanged in any way since I came into it. I could see along the floor, in the brilliant moonlight, my own footsteps marked where I had disturbed the long accumulation of dust. In the moonlight opposite me were three young women, ladies by their dress and manner. I thought at the time that I must be dreaming when I saw them, they threw no shadow on the floor. They came close to me, and looked at me for some time, and then whispered together. Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes, that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair, as fair as can be, with great masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mara’s eyes and cause her pain, but it is the truth. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed, such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of waterglasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on.
One said, “Go on! You are first, and we shall follow. Yours’ is the right to begin.”
The other added, “He is young and strong. There are kisses for us all.”
I lay quiet, looking out from under my eyelashes in an agony of delightful anticipation. The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath upon me. Sweet it was in one sense, honey-sweet, and sent the same tingling through the nerves as her voice, but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood.
I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat. Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and I could feel the hot breath on my neck. Then the skin of my throat began to tingle as one’s flesh does when the hand that is to tickle it approaches nearer, nearer. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in languorous ecstasy and waited, waited with beating heart.
But at that instant, another sensation swept through me as quick as lightning. I was conscious of the presence of the Count, and of his being as if lapped in a storm of fury. As my eyes opened involuntarily I saw his strong hand grasp the slender neck of the fair woman and with giant’s power draw it back, the blue eyes transformed with fury, the white teeth champing with rage, and the fair cheeks blazing red with passion. But the Count! Never did I imagine such wrath and fury, even to the demons of the pit. His eyes were positively blazing. The red light in them was lurid, as if the flames of hell fire blazed behind them. His face was deathly pale, and the lines of it were hard like drawn wires. The thick eyebrows that met over the nose now seemed like a heaving bar of white-hot metal. With a fierce sweep of his arm, he hurled the woman from him, and then motioned to the others, as though he were beating them back. It was the same imperious gesture that I had seen used to the wolves. In a voice which, though low and almost in a whisper seemed to cut through the air and then ring in the room he said,
“How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me! Beware how you meddle with him, or you’ll have to deal with me.”
The fair girl, with a laugh of ribald coquetry, turned to answer him. “You yourself never loved. You never love!” On this the other women joined, and such a mirthless,hard, soulless laughter rang through the room that it almost made me faint to hear. It seemed like the pleasure of fiends.
Then the Count turned, after looking at my face attentively, and said in a soft whisper, “Yes, I too can love. You yourselves can tell it from the past. Is it not so? Well, now I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will. Now go! Go! I must awaken him, for there is work to be done.”
“Are we to have nothing tonight?”said one of them, with a low laugh, as she pointed to the bag which he had thrown upon the floor, and which moved as though there were some living thing within it. For answer he nodded his head. One of the women jumped forward and opened it. If my ears did not deceive me there was a gasp and a low wail, as of a half smothered child. The women closed round, whilst I was aghast with horror. But as I looked, they disappeared, and with them the dreadful bag. There was no door near them, and they could not have passed me without my noticing. They simply seemed to fade into the rays of the moonlight and pass out through the window, for I could see outside the dim, shadowy forms for a moment before they entirely faded away.
Then the horror overcame me, and I sank down unconscious.

mother of god they are cultists they are demons they are oh my god oh my god what the sidfohasdfagfb.
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In the City, the Makedonian soldiers entered through the Golden Gate, secured the Forums of Arcadius and the Ox, moved on to take control of the southern harbours and linked up with the Thrakian troops to post guards around the Great Palace (including the Chrysotriklinos), the Hippodrome and the two great churches of Holy Wisdom and Holy Peace (the Hagia Sophia and the Hagia Eirene).

Moving further north and east, they entered the Italian quarters and pacified the two harbours overlooking the Bosphorus.  The Great Chain was down, but all in all, Ioannes Angelos mused, that was probably for the best when engaged in hostile crowd control within the City.  “All” that remained was imposing order in the northern half of the City and ensuring that the Basilissa and the Blachernae Palace were safe, but that would take a while longer, whilst they awaited reinforcements from northern Thrace.

((Alexios))

Alexios could not bring himself to kill his own son.  Despite what Konstantinos had done, he was still Alexios’s son.  Nevermind the disowning a few years ago.  Alexios simply couldn’t do it.
He began to walk away…

((Konstantinos))

Konstantinos knew he wasn’t alone.  “Michael, brother, I know you’re there.  Come on, we’re brothers.  We both know each other’s location.  It’s no use hiding.”
Michael emerged from the shadows, his sword drawn.
“Is this what everything’s come to?” said Konstantinos.  “Have we become Cain and Abel, brothers killing each other over petty family disagreements?”
“I’m sorry, brother, but I must do this for the safety of the Empire,” Michael said.
Konstantinos chuckled.  “Safety of the Empire!  Defending a rotten system?  The Empire’s failing.  You know it.  The Empress can’t live forever  Even if she survives today, you’re only delaying the inevitable.  When she dies and her son inherits, what happens?  Status quo?  You wish.  The vultures are circling, and a great war is approaching.  The tangled web of alliances the Great Powers have built up will ultimately be their demise.  The people are suffering, and they will only suffer more under this ancient absolutism.  Please, brother, join me.”
“I can never join you, Konstantinos, after what you did,” Michael said, “You are no better than the barbarians that brought down the Old Empire and the usurpers that seized the Imperial Throne in the centuries between the Fall and the rise of the Doukai–our family.  We are Doukai, and our duty is to our Empress and Empire.  Don’t make me do this, Konstantinos.”
Konstantinos turned.  “So this is how it ends, then.  So be it.”
And he lunged at Michael, his sword also drawn.

((Alexios))

Alexios heard the sound of metal clashing on metal behind him.  He rushed back to the courtyard balcony and saw his sons fighting each other in a fierce duel.

Konstantinos was more experienced, being the older brother, but he was more rash and aggressive with his lunges.  Michael was younger and had faster reactions, and he dodged most of Konstantinos’s blows.  Both brothers were equally matched in their fencing skills, but Konstantinos was quickly gaining an advantage due to his aggressive offense.

Alexios had to act quickly.

((Michael))

Michael attempted to block Konstantinos’s latest lunge, only for his sword to fly out of his hand.  Konstantinos kicked him in the legs, and he stumbled to the ground.  The older brother pointed his sword at Michael’s throat.
“It’s all over, and I have won!” said Konstantinos, raising a pistol in his other hand.
“No, you have not,” said a voice behind him.
Konstantinos twisted around and fired one, two, three, four shots into Alexios’s chest.  Alexios continued to charge at Konstantinos.  One, two.  Two more bullets slammed into Alexios, but he could not stop running.
Alexios tackled Konstantinos, and father and son toppled over the balcony.

Michael got to his feet and rushed downstairs to the Senate room.  He found the senators, Empress, Patriarch, and royal family unharmed and surrounded by hastily armed Varangians and senators; all of Konstantinos’s men were dead, as if by the Cult.  Medics were arriving, treating the senators’ wounds and keeping the paralyzed Theodosio alive.  Outside a broken window lay the body of the pretender, Konstantinos Doukas, and the respected Senator Alexios Doukas.
Alexios was still alive, if barely.  Michael rushed over to him quickly.
“Father?” he said.
“Michael,” said Alexios, softly, “I’m afraid I’m dying.  After everything I’ve done, it’s all over.”
“No!  You cannot die!”
“Thirty years ago I fought against the Cult; now I end my life fighting the enemies of the Empire.”
“Father, please!  You cannot leave us!”
“I am an old man, son, and you are young.  Before I go, promise me one thing.”
Michael bit back tears.  “Yes?”
“Promise me that you will continue to protect the Empire and its citizens at all costs, that you will uphold the values of the Empress and the Empire, and that you will devote your life to making sure this does not happen again.”
Michael hesitated, Konstantinos’s boasts coming back to him.  “Yes.”
Alexios smiled weakly.  “I know that the Empire is in good hands.”
He gripped Michael’s hand.  “My father told me that if one does not treat the citizens of the Empire with the respect due to Romans, we cannot truly be a great power.  Please, for the Senate and People of Rome, continue my work.”
“I will.”
Alexios sighed one last time, closed his eyes, and passed away, at peace with the world.

Michael was silent and grieving, even as the medics approached him to treat his wounds.  He did not say anything as the reporters arrived to interview the survivors or when reinforcements arrived to suppress the rebels still resisting the Empress’s government.  For he was a changed man now.  He had seen his father and brother die in front of him, within minutes of each other.  The people of the Empire were up in arms, unsatisfied with the conditions they were in.  He realized that the only way to end the unrest and prevent another Konstantinos from arising was to improve the education and healthcare systems.  The current medical systems had failed to treat the obvious signs of mental instability in Konstantinos, and the education system had failed to make proper Imperial citizens out of the people.  They had to reform now and quickly.
He was a Senator and Doux now, and probably the Minister of Security.  He had a long road ahead of him.

((Konstantinos’s house))

The villa of Konstantinos was being burned down by loyalist troops.  Everything of value was carried off to be confiscated by the government, and what remained was destroyed.
Unknown to all of the loyalist soldiers, a lone figure snuck into the burning house and escaped with a small journal of Konstantinos called Ton Agóna Mou…

((Donal))
Donal sat on his horse watching the carnage unfolding in front of the palace of Blachernae. The Cultists and reactionaries were murdering each other and any civilians who were caught between them while trying to make a run for it and the guns of his own men only added to the carnage.
“We’ve been sitting here for too long!” Donal and Constantine were screaming in each other’s ears and yet it was still almost impossible to be heard.
“I know that sir but what do we do?”
“Hello there Donal” Guis rode up to Donal himself and a few others attempting desperately to keep the riderlass horses under control.
“Guis what are you doing here?” was Donal’s reply
“My brother told me to stay down and look after the horses.”
“How’s that going for you?”
“Could be better if I’m honest.”
“Well no time for that now. My brother’s in that palace and he probably needs help but how do we get there?”
“Great to see you understand the severity of the situation.”
“Any ideas?”
“None yet. Constantine?”
“Well sir with Guis’ horses and ours I believe I have an almost certainly suicidal idea that might just work.”

((With Columba and his men out side the throne room))

“3..2..1. Go!”
The throne room doors stood resolutely firm and stuck before them for a long while now and it was safe to say things had gotten desperate. The statue of some old emperor or one of his advisers his fist raised in imperial triumph had been lashed onto a large service cart dug up from who knows where and was being pushed down the hall by a dozen of the strongest men available and it was getting faster and faster both to the efforts of those pushing the statue and the slight incline in the floor. As the approached the door the men pushing it came away the cart carried on over the smooth, reflective, marble floor carried along by its momentum over the highly polished stone only slightly marred by blood, mud and who knows what else. Everyone pushed themselves as far back into the wall as they could as the cart came skiting by and it crashed into the door and bounced back into the wall, with and almighty racket the door buckled, it shook, it cracked, it held.
“Everyone alright?”
Thankfully nobody had been hurt when the cart had crashed.
“Good because that is God-dam enough!”
Columba took the halberd he was holding and put everything he could behind the swing and the ruined doors finally gave way and burst open. Columba’s men charged into the throne room guns going off Halberds and swords glinting in the light coming down on every traitor they could get their hands on. Those Columba had left by the window’s earlier joined in to shooting frantically before they to jumped through the windows and joined in the carnage. Soon all the traitors were either dead or dying.

Columba walked in behind his men. Holding him self tall despite the pain and light-headedness; a dirk in his right hand; his left clinging onto the halberd he was using for support. He faced the most powerful men and women in the Empire and realised what a sight he must make. A filthy disheveled blood drenched half-dead, half-barbarian form one of he darkest provinces of the Empire that most held in either awe or contempt standing over a scene of death and treason that had nearly destroyed the Empire. He calmly walked forward and addressed the Empress.

“Your Majesy. I pray you will forgive me if I do not kneel and excuse my tardiness but unfortunately I was delayed. However I am here now and you are alive. That is ultimately what matters.”

He bent down and picked the imperial crown off the floor. It was a but dented and covered with blood but now was not the time to worry about that. He stumbled forwards and held it out to the Empress calm and determined despite all that had happened.

“I believe this is yours your majesty”
Silently she took it with a small incline of her head. Columba looked around the room. Calmly surveying the scene around him: the bodies on the floor; his men standing guard all around the room some resplendent, some savage, all intimidating; everyone else with faces indicating various states of shock and awe.

“Right now before I faint. Which seat’s mine?

Several hours later in a local hospital, Senator Theodosio regains consciousness after various surgical procedures. It is then that he discovers his paralysis, and he dismisses all doctors and nurses from the room. A few hours later his wife and son arrive.

Valeria: Oh my heart and soul, thank the heavens you’re alive. When the riots started we hid in our cellar, I never imagined it could have reached Blachernae!

Theodosio’s son, Felix, only a boy of 11, rushes to the bedside and throws his arms around his father.

Nicodemo: Ah, careful, the stitching is still fresh. I barely survived as it is. Oh it is good to see you, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to break a promise I made you Felix. I can no longer teach you swordplay.

Felix: What, why father? The doctors said you were fine.

Nicodemo: Did they now? Well I suppose it is better coming from me. One of the bullets I took severed my spine in the neck, I can no longer move any part of my body below the neck.

At this Valeria breaks down into sobbing.

Nicodemo: I know, my love, but things are not as bad as they might seem. The doctors say it will have no effect on my lifespan, and an Imperial aide already assured me that anything I needed would be taken care of. They are supposed to come measure me for a wheelchair in the next few days. They don’t want me leaving the hospital quite yet. I will admit that life as I, and we, knew it is over. I will need help to do even the most basic thing, they are supposed to have a nurse feed me while I’m here, for example. Things will never be the same for me, this is true. However, even this will not stop me from my work, though I will need to hire a scribe, among other such things.

Valeria: How can you worry about your work right now!?

Nicodemo: I would comfort you if I could, my love, but you did not see what happened, what caused all of this. What happened will happen again without change. I have lost much, but I do not become a better person by grieving over what is lost. I become a better person by preventing it from happening to anyone else. The days to come are going to be dangerous as well, but if we weather them we can accomplish much. Now, could one of you please ask the guards outside if they could have a scribe sent here? I should make a statement, reassure everyone, and condemn what happened.


I dictate this for the purpose of an explanation, as none has thus far been widely spread, and many are still confused about the events of the past 48 hours. Early in the last Senate session, it was interrupted by a pretender to the throne. I call him a pretender for lack of words that are not explicit. He was a madman, so far gone that he shot his own father in front of my eyes. I understand that you, the public, want a name. I will not give it to you, it can be found if you must know, I’m sure. I refuse to name this madman, as to give him attention, to justify him as a pretender, would be betraying the memories of those who were lost in these events. It would also do damage to the rest of his family, damage they do not deserve.

What happened was a tragedy, and one we cannot allow to repeat. The masses who participated in the riot did so because they were disenfranchised, they could find nobody that was to blame for the conditions they live in that they could affect, so they chose the Communists and non-Greeks. I have not received numbers for how many were lost, but I have heard that the riots were not isolated to Constantinople as I had originally hoped.

We must finally enact the changes the people have clamored for. Nationalized education, healthcare, and workers’ rights must be implemented, as soon as possible.

I ask only one thing of the citizen on the street: do not follow this violence with more violence. My life has been forever altered, my body crippled, and I still do not desire vengeance. Vengeance has solved nothing, and indeed it is partially to blame for this entire disaster. If you wish to protest, do so, but do so peacefully. I hope that I recover quickly so that I may return to my work, fighting for the rights of the proletariat.

I remain, Senator Nicodemo Theodosio

Ambrosio looked on bleakly. Many of his friends were dead. Of the 1,200 men he had brought into Constantinople, only 400 men had survived. The bombs had massacred the soldiers and the mobs had rushed into the disoriented troops and killed many of them. The Nicaean Guardsmen and Governate troops had all been wiped out. The vexillation that he had brought was decimated . His father was dead, his family’s condition unknown. Diederick had seemed odd ever since the incidence, Ambrosio worried about his health. Ambrosio swore to reform the social systems of the Empire to prevent such militancy from causing a revolt. He also swore to strengthen the power of the military and police to crush any rebellion.

The Empress watched the conclusion of the violence in stunned silence. She noted doctors ministering to Senator Theodosio, and Senator Cominnus had returned her crown, but everything else was a blur. When her bodyguard led her away, she did not resist.

When she was later able to think on the events of the day, she knew this fortold not just more political division in the Empire, but more contentiousness in the Senate. It was unclear what could be done to heal the rifts opened that day. But the effort needed to be made. She sent word that the Senate would meet with her again in a month. Hopefully that would be sufficient to allow the injured Senators to heal. All the injured, and in particular Senator Theodosio, would be provided with anything they needed.


A few days later…

“…and so concludes my report on the situation in Raetia as it currently stands. Turning my attention closer to home during the rather disturbing events of the previous hours I noticed the frankly rather shocking conditions of the City’s fortifications. Before I go any further I would like to apologise to your majesty for the door and know that I am more than willing to finance a replacement as soon as I am able to properly walk without the aid of a polearm. Anyway as I was saying; the Theodosian walls are undoubtedly among the greatest in the world but they are now over 1 and a half millenia old and upon closer inspection look it. It is true that this city is hundreds of miles from the border of any other nation in the world but today’s events should be a reminder, if of nothing else, that one can never be to careful especially as this is the second major and nearly fatal disturbance to nit the capital in 3 deca – did you hear that?”

Not everyone, but some had, heard the disturbance from the other side of the ruined doors Columba’s men who had been doing their best to remove the bodies from the room grabbed whatever weapon was to hand, be it gun or mop and gathered round the door braced for another fight. One of the men on the other side of the doors shouted “Don’t shoot they’re ours.” from the other side. The doors opened as best the could for Donal to come charging in at the head of another group of battered and bloody men.

“I’m afraid you’re a bit late Donal but I trust your arrival heralds good news.”
“Indeed it does. We were able to disperse the crowd at Constantine’s Forum after killing the ringleaders there before making our way to the palace to find both sets of traitors fighting each other. We were caught in the blood bath and managed to fight our way though. Your brother led a charge on horseback through the madness you should have seen it!”
“Where is my brother?”

“Where is my brother Donal?”
The silence told him all he needed to know

“Good sirs, if I may return your attention to the matters I was just discussing before we retire …”

Magnus sat silently in his hotel suite in Alexandria, reading the telegraph from Constantinople over and over
“Dear God” he whispered to himself.
He knew that he had left the capital at a peculiar time but he merely assumed all that would happen was just a rebellion of poor, untrained socialist and maybe some smaller groups that tried to take advantage of the chaos. Something simple that the very capable Varangarian Guard could handle.
But no. This was lead by senators, aristocrats, businessmen, people Magnus had sat next to, oblivious to their ideas, intentions, and how far they’d go to achieve power.
Magnus’ eyes shot wide open as soon as this thought had crossed his mind.
He could be charged for the very same atrocities these traitors committed, just because he wanted to gain a slight upper hand for his family’s company.
The only person who he had told his plan to outside of his own administration was the Empress, yet even that didn’t sooth Magnus’ nerves.
He started pacing throughout his room, looking over papers and files, trying to piece together a reason for his secrecy that would still hold him high in the eyes of other Senators.
He finally collapsed onto the bed with his face buried in his hands.
“They’ll surely understand, right? I did no wrong. I was merely doing my job! I was doing my job, just like the other senators! I could’ve lost… my… life”
He knew he was lying to himself. He knew his life as a Senator will be in jeopardy soon, along with his family name, shared by many other prestigious and important people of the Empire.
10 minutes later.
Jensen walked out to his hotel balcony with his book and lamp in hand, about to enjoy a evening read while looking over the Mediterranean.
As soon as he sat down and opened his book he heard a knock on his room door.
Grudgingly Jensen marked his book and slowly moved over to the peephole to see who his visitor was.
Not to his surprise it was Magnus.
“For Christ sake” he mumbled under his breath while unlocking the door.
“Sir, every time I open my book, you seem to have a job for me, should I just lend you the book to finish it first?”
Magnus chuckled “Sorry Jensen, but there has been another change in plans, everyone except Kol is going back to the capital tomorrow.”
“May I ask why?”
“I must attend to some damage control, I need to prove I am not in cahoots with the traitors that attacked the Empress. And you, my friend are to tell my brother, Dr. Eric in the Imperial College, to go to Oceania and assist with its development, for I fear I might have to stay in Constantinople for some time.”
Jensen quietly nodded in agreement.
“Then it’s set, tell the men to meet me on the yacht at 9 a.m. we sail for the capital.”

((Blachernae))

The soldiers rammed the barricaded door one last time, and the old doors finally gave way.  The Empress’s troops charged into the throne room, ready to kill any traitors defiling the Imperial Throne itself.
The room was empty.

Markos Angelos, the last leader of Konstantinos’s Rebellion and self-proclaimed “Isapostolos,” Equal to the Apostles, had escaped.

((Athens))

Konstantinos’s body was cremated, with the ashes thrown in the ocean.  Michael made sure that there was nothing left of his brother to make him a martyr.
General Ioannes, an old friend of Alexios, had returned from his mission to Transylvania, which as it turned out was just a ruse by Konstantinos to lure the Athenian Lancers away from Constantinople and possibly destroy them in hostile territory.  Out of the several dozen Lancers, only four made it home.  Ioannes himself was emotionally scarred by his experiences, babbling about vampires and what not, but he would recover in a few weeks, the doctors said.
Michael’s mother was shocked by Konstantinos’s Rebellion and especially by Alexios’s death.  She locked herself in her room for a whole day and cried until she could not cry.  She blamed herself for the death of her husband and the madness of her son.  They had put so much hope and effort into training Konstantinos, and where did it end up?
Michael’s branch of the Doukai were greatly shaken by the Rebellion.  One of their own had attempted to seize the Throne.  While surely none of the survivors wished to do likewise, somebody would likely want retribution.  How would they convince the government they were loyal citizens?  Only time could tell.
Alexios was buried in Athens, in the family crypt near the Parthenon (of which the city was debating whether or not to rebuild it for conversion into a cathedral or to let it stand as is for tourism).  The funeral lasted several days, with family members from all over the Empire attending.
“He was a great man and a kind father,” Michael said during the memorial service, “He did his duty in the service of the Empire and the Empress.  May God forgive his sins.”
Alexios’s coffin was placed next to Nikephorus’s.  It was fitting, as both men had achieved similar things in life.

After the funeral ended and all of the relatives returned home, Michael sat down in the family villa which he had inherited.  He began thinking about reforms.  The Empire needed reforms.  Otherwise such pretenders would only appear more frequently.  They had to make sure the people were satisfied with their lives so that they would not consider revolution.  Education, to train them to become proper Imperial citizens and loyal subjects.  Health care, to make sure the mentally ill get the treatment they need and so that soldiers can be treated before they go mad.  Minimum wage laws, to make the citizens happy with what they have.  Pensions and unemployment subsidies, as befitting veterans and citizens of the Empire, to fulfill the same thing as the minimum wage laws.  Work hours, to protect the workers of the Empire.

Suddenly, Michael realized something.  Was he a socialist, or was he a liberal?  Or was he both?

Columba looked around the throne room mop in one hand and the halberd he had taken to using as a walking stick in the other. He had planned on getting an actual walking stick but his men had told him to keep it. There was a certain novelty about it he had to admit. His brother was dead. So was Senator Alexios. Along with his son and hundreds if not thousands of others. Madness this was; such a thing, how could it happen? Word was coming in about revolts in the provinces as well. Whether it was news speculation or wild rumor was hard to tell. It all sounded the same. As he stared blankly at the bloody stones he remembered a saying he had stumble upon from the past: “Sic transit mundi gloria” how true it was. The empire might speak Greek today but Latin had always been his preferred language. Perhaps there was something he could do about that? Still he remembered what had happened only a few short days (or was it hours?) ago. Everything had been a blur since then. He hadn’t lost as many of his own men as he might have feared. But hardly any had escaped without some injury many serious enough to put them out of his guard. What would happen to them? He would have to think of something. He would he was sure, he was clever everyone had told him and he always knew it he would care for the injured as best he could and as for the dead he would fins someplace suitable for them to be buried and for their arms to hang in memoriam. His brother was dead though. What would he do about that. Did his wife and children know yet. How would he tell them? He had to tell them he was dead because of him. If he had only told his brother to leave; had forced him to leave; would he still be alive? Probably.

It made him think about himself and what he would do for a family. He was nearly 30 and still had not married. True had had 2 sisters and now 2 brothers all younger than him; and Gius had 3 boys and a girl. It still left him thinking who would he marry; if he did. Still though there were other things to worry about Reatia had escaped the worst of the trouble if what he had heard could be believed but the rest of the Empire had also taken a beating. What of other nations as well. The second near fatal disturbance within the capital of the world’s foremost nation in 30 years; this one if anything even worse than the last. What would other nations say? What would other nations do? There would be hell to pay for the Germans in Reatia. They would be blamed the traitors he had no doubt would see to that. As soon as he was fit enough he would have to go back but it would be weeks till he was fit enough for that tough. He would stay in the Capital for now. He would have to find a place to stay for him and his men. Perhaps he would visit the other senators and see how they were getting on.

Still the past was in the past and nothing would change that. The dead would be buried the survivors would heal mourn, remember and carry on before eventually forgetting. Such was the way of the world.

He sat down and look around the setting sun made quite a change to the atmosphere of the room. Only slightly marred by the still bloody floor. By this time tomorrow it would be clean. And once he had found replacement doors there would be no evidence anything untoward had happened. The room would move on; the world would move on; and so must he. There would be another problem to solve, another crisis to cool down, another war to fight. They were tomorrow’s problems, well perhaps not tomorrow but eventually anyway.  Now was the time for remembering, then there would be celebrating, then there would be moving. Speaking of celebrating he still had not arranged the imperial birthday parade he was planning with some of the other senators. He doubted if many of them would be in the mood for such a thing but it might be the spectacle that was needed at this time. He would talk with them, ask them but right now he needed whisky and a rest.

My Dear Empress,

I hope things are well with yourself in the Imperial Heart, tidings of mad doings and violence reach us here in Brittany, whilst we remain concerned we are sure the people will remain steadfastly loyal and you keep the Imperial family safe.

I have arrived to set up the proper structures within my new province, both administratively and to make sure that the people here are able to receive help, both economically and ideologically.

The local party members have welcomed me and together we work to make sure all have food and shelter. I believe that the population would be greatly buoyed by a visit, even a quick tour, by one of our Legions. Even if this is just a quick tour for a break for the Legion and their families, surely a reward for our loyal troops to the beauty of Brittany would be welcome as a morale boost to the boys in purple.

Otherwise I shall be finished here in time for the next session. I should warn you that whilst our party is determined to bring a fairer rule to the Empire by democratic means we can not but fear that some amongst our number or even just the pressure of the unwashed and unfed in our larger cities could cause unrest and in worst cases violence to these larger centres. I pray that soon you will appoint myself or another worth from our party so we may begin the reformation of the Empire it so desperately needs.

Faithfully Your & the People’s Servant

Αιδεν Στήβεν

Heraclius had been preoccupied with this rebellion. He reviewed what had happened, once more, in his mind. He had gotten wind of a meeting in the hippodrome and had met a contact of his before the senate meeting. The contact had told him that one of the senators had come into the hippodrome dressed in the imperial purple. What an affront to his nation! Then the senator had proceeded to advocate the toppling of the empire. He had then rushed towards the senate meeting only to be stopped by six poorly armed thugs. They told Heraclius “You’re was about to be very late to the senate meeting”. They attacked Heraclius and though he was able to cut down three of the men with his sword. They had had no training. It had brought him no joy to end the life of those misguided men. The rest had clubbed him over the head and left him for dead in the havoc of the streets. He awoke hours later? Maybe longer? And now I’m return to the Blachernae to warn the senate if I can or survey the damage if I must. This whole event has occurred because of the dissatisfaction of Her Majesty’s people. If they were treated as equals in the ruling of this country. If they had a say in what was to be done or not, then they wouldn’t feel the need to take up arms.

Columba was sitting in the gardens of the Sacred Palace staring at the sunset over the sea of Marmara having already changed into his dressing gown and pyjamas. He and his men had established themselves in the Sacred Palace. Nobody had said the could but then at the same time on one had objected and if you had every grown up in Caledonia you knew silence meant consent unless otherwise told. Besides he and his men were giving the palace a much needed refurbishment as most of it had remained untouched for at least 50 years now nearly and with good reason. For many native to the city ghost still haunted these halls but not so for these men from over 1000 miles away. They were discovering rooms cellars and tunnels dating all the way back to the 4th century by his estimate. It would be fascinating if not for the rats. The palace was the only place large enough to hold them all without causing a riot anyway. He shifted his gaze from the ruby sun to the fresh graves now dotted around the garden in groups. Temporary crosses made of wood marked who lay where, already the friends of the fallen had found suitable stone masons to commission suitable memorials. Each soldier had been buried individual. In the order they fell where it could be determined; if not by rank; then time in the guard and as a last resort age. It had taken them days but everyone had insisted on a full ceremony for every single one of them and the chaplains to had not objected in fact it was their idea in the first place. There was no special order to the graves. Each had been made where the friends or even family of the fallen had chosen. Most were in groups of two or thee. Friends and family fallen together. Cousins, uncles, nephews, brothers even father and son as the bitter stack of letters beside him remained a constant reminder. Some graves were alone. Those who had fallen without a friend or relative to accompany them into the dirt but by either coincidence or some divine influence all graves were close enough together that it would not be hard to walk to each one in the course of a visit. He knew their names. Every single one. Columba had always been terrible with names but the names of those sworn to protect him and empire he had resolved to learn and learn them he had. Now the names of those who had died was carved into his mind more thoroughly than any stone.

He got up and turned away from the scene before him. It would be along time before anyone was over this. They all blamed each other for the deaths of everyone. It was not their fault and they knew it; they constantly told each other. They knew that if the dead could speak they would not blame them either; cursing their own bad luck or stupidity or something else and the told each other that as well. That had not made it any easier. He turned his gaze to that of his brother. Nearest the palace and where he had taken to sitting recently. Reading, writing, working, thinking or just passing the hours with anyone who denied to talk with him. The loss still tore at him. He was going through everything all the others were but this he sensed was different. The others had all pledged themselves to this. Knew it might happen to them; that it would to some of them. Gius hadn’t. He had just come along for the ride. To see the capital and explore the wonders with his family. Give them something to look back on with laughter and to dream about. Instead they had stumbled into a nightmare that was all to real for all of them and which would only be looked back on with tears of sorrow and fury. He still remembered telling his wife and children. Still remembered. A wife without a husband 4 children without a father and not and the eldest of the only 8. It would take along time for any of them to get over it. Him he feared, most of all.

He limped back into the palace (he no longer had to hobble though he still carried the halberd much to the amusement of all) he moved slowly though the halls. Grim and dusty when they first arrived now bright and with a new sense of life. A few tapestries, carpets, weapons and flags on the walls along with a statue or two and suitable furniture and one could almost belie that an Emperor or Empress lived here right now. He reached his room greeted the guards standing outside and went in.

He looked around the rooms he had taken for his private quarters. He wondered for the umpteenth time what they had been in the past and who had used them. He took off his dressing gown and got into the 4 poster lacking any hangings when he realised something about the room was not right. He always had a particular spot for everything and a few seemed out of place. Only a few but enough to get his nerves up. He brushed them off angrily. He was too on edge they all were. They would be alright eventually. It would take a while but they would be alright.

(The morning after my previous post)

Donal looked at the clock on the wall worried. The senator was usually up by now.The Senate was due to be addressed at Blachernae he would at least have set his new fangled alarm-clock thingy to wake him up he was sure. He took another glance at the clock and settled himself on the idea that something was wrong. He went to the senators room and approched the guards outside.
“Everything quiet”
“Since we’ve been here sir and the men before us said the same.”
Still unsure Donal steeled himself and went inside.

He immediately noticed that it was colder in here than the hall outside. It was then he noticed a window was open. He went over to it and closed it when he heared a voice behind him
“Ah Donal sorry I just woke up. My alarm-clock was broken during the night there was also a bit of a smell so I opened the window.”
“Peaceful night sir?”
“Ehh mostly I was woken up at one point but apart from that all was well.”
“Ahh good to hear sir. Anyway we really should be goi-OH MY GOD WHO IS THAT? ”
“Sir”
“Well this Donal is the man who woke me up but unfortunately for him I was in a rather bad mood when he did so.”
Columba was sitting up in his bed casually reading while slumped against the bed was a black clad Slav with an eye patch and various items of cutlery from the senator’s dirk stuck in him. Most glaringly of all the Russian sword and halberd that was sticking out of his back.
“Believe it or not the bugger was trying to kill me but well it’s not the first time someone tried that with me.”
“Indeed sir”
“Now if you don’t mid Donal I really must be getting dressed and you need to get to work on improving my personal security.”
“Right away sir.”
Donal immediately turned and moved towards the door.
“And Donal before you go.”
“Yes sir.”
“Take him with you he really does stink you know.”
“Of course sir.”
“Oh and Donal”
“Aye”
“Leave the halberd”
“Of course. Sir”


Senators,

Thank you all for coming to this meeting. The events of the last one were hard on us all. And we all seem to have drawn different conclusions on how we should respond in the wake of the crisis. We shall all need to explore how the Empire can best be governed. But I wanted to speak to you first of power.

Christ warned us long ago that those that who sought to exalt themselves would be humbled (1). We all saw that with Konstantinos’ end. And how many more before him sought to become Emperor and sowed the seeds of their own destruction. What’s more, few understand the purpose of the Empire. It is a tool to continue Christ’s work on the earth. And did He not say that those who wished to be great must be servants, and that those who wished to be first of all must be the servant of all? (2) Therefore, those who are Senators are Senators for the purpose of serving and helping the peoples of the lands they govern. This is a task at which you have all excelled. And therefore We who sit on the Imperial Throne must also serve the people of the Empire, a task which We have sought to do to the best of Our ability.

But We fear this has not been done as well as it might be, thus the mob’s anger a month ago. Therefore We have given the Koinonikistai management of the bureaucracy in the hopes that they might find ways of easing the burden of the poor. As yet, none have arisen among them worthy of being appointed a Senator, but We trust that a worthy minister will arise.

And again, as Christ said, those who give food and drink to the ‘least of these’ have indeed done it for Christ himself. Therefore, We are using all Our influence to ensure that all in need will at least have food and drink. ((I’ve edited in trinket unemployment subsidies))

Finally, We have approved Senator Theodosio to hold a meeting of the representatives of the world’s workers in the hopes that they can find us ways of addressing the issues of our modern times.

Now, Senators, We would hear your input.

1: Luke 14:11a
2: Mark 10:43-44
3: Matthew 25:40


Empress, I thank you for your recognition and approval, and praise greatly your reminder of the Senate of the ideas our Savior espoused. Our Savior broke bread with prostitutes and lepers, and it would do the Empire much good if the Senate recognized what this implied.

I greatly praise the Empress for her transition of the official bureaucracy to Socialist hands, this will do the Empire great good, as will the new subsidies to those unemployed. Nobody should starve in the streets of the City of Cities.

As for my meeting, I shall elaborate again. In just under one year’s time, what I call The Internationale shall be held. Communists and Socialists from across the globe are invited to attend, to help arrive at a plan for the transition of The Empire, and in my opinion, one that does not involve further violence. All Senators, and indeed you yourself, my Empress, are welcome to attend, however only those who espouse Socialist beliefs will be given a position to speak, apart from the Empress. I am allowing the Empress to attend and speak so that she might come to a full understanding of the state of Socialist and Communist thought in the world as it currently exists, she may also ask any questions she has, so that we no longer have to worry about the issue of misinterpretation.

On a more personal note, the doctors say that my wounds should be healed sufficiently to attend Senate myself within a month. I would ask that a ramp be installed in the Senate, as I and stairs no longer get along.

I remain, Nicodemo Theodosio


Senators,

The last business for this session is to confirm the current appointments. They are as follows:

Foreign minister – Senator Moustakas
Minister of security – Senator Doukas
Minister of intelligence – Senator Favero
Chief of Staff – Senator Αιδεν Στήβεν
Chief of the Army – Nicodemo Theodosio
Chief of the Navy – Senator Alexander Smithereens

(North) Africa – Alexios Damaskinos
Armenia – Julian Leon
Asia – Constantine Panaretos
Britannia – Andronikos Palaiologos
Dalmatia – Mikael Moustakas
Egypt – Marcos Alexandros
Macedonia – Ioannes Angelos
Naples – Nestorius Septiadis
Raetia – Columba Comminus
Sicily – Alexander Smithereens
Syria – Alexios Doukas
Brittany – Στήβεν Γκρέυ
Catalonia – Magnus Kvensson
Italy – Leonardo Favero
Spain – Nicodemo Theodosio

Has any Senator been neglected, or would any Senator prefer to govern a different province? The following provinces have no Senatorial governor:

Georgia
Guayana
Mauretania
Palestine
Thracia
Aquitaine
Burgundy
Australia
Azerbaijan
Belgium
France
Java
New Zealand
Philippines
South Africa
Wales

As well, We still need an armament minister, if any Senator desires the job.


“Sebaste Basilissa, I would highly recommend that the Imperial family retain the governance of Thrakia for themselves.  The land around the City is of prime important to the Porphyry Throne.”

Excuse me my empress but my father, Andronikos Palaiologos is dead. He recommended me to continue on with the governorship of Britannia.

-Ambrosio Palaiologos

Greetings, Your Imperial Highness.  I hope you are doing well.  In his will, my father entrusted all of his titles and positions to me, as he would not risk such a traitor as my brother to sit on the Senate.  Before the attack, he had recommended that I continue as Governor of Syria-Palestina.  Unlike my traitorous brother, may he rot in hell with all traitors to the Empire, I shall serve you loyally and to the best of my ability.

First of all, I must say I am glad to be back in this beautiful room, despite the events that have tarnished it partially in my and others’ minds. I would offer a slight explanation for something before I begin with the issues to address today; the boy assisting me with my notes and pushing me around is my son, Felix. He has a bit of a mind for politics it seems, so I thought I would allow him to assist me today. If there are any concerns about this, I will of course use the assistant originally provided by the Empress. Now then, to more pressing issues.

As my position as Chief of the Army has just been affirmed, I will elaborate on my views of the goals and purposes of the Legions. I myself served for several years, and I am happy to have some influence over the direction of an institution I fundamentally respect, if disagree with others to its purpose. I will state now, in perfect clarity: the purpose of the Legions is not offensive, and will not be as long as I serve in this position. The Legion keeps the peace, and it is ready to defend us should our enemies strike, that is its purpose. I will pursue a specifically defensive doctrine, expanding fortifications of key locations and borders with worrisome powers, as well as encouraging further research into both military tactics and fortifications. We have seen the Empire fall close to ruin too often, and we must be prepared for any eventuality. As a direct response to the actions that occurred here, we shall reinforce government buildings to act as bulwarks in the event of such internal violence. This will also be carried out in other major administrative and population centers. I also would pursue an increase in the size of the Scholai Palatinae, they are the first defense in the event of a coup attempt, and must be able to defend the City of Cities. They have failed in this task on multiple occasions, and to great danger to the Empire, this will not continue to stand.

Now, on to matters of the Senate.

I would agree, direct control over a state enclave is paramount to the safety of the Imperial government housed within it. No single person’s ambition should have reign over such a crucial region.

And welcome the honorable Senator, and would remind us all that the actions that took place were not one of his family. The actions that took place were formed in the mind of a madman, and should not affect how we treat and address the rest of his family. Despite our political disagreements, your father was a good Senator, and a good man. While I hope we may find more common ground, it does not change that he was a hero, and one with a legacy you should be proud of.

-Nicodemo Theodosio

My empress, i propose appointing me as the governor of Australia or South Africa. I have created many economic development projects for both areas with my brother Professor Eric at the Imperial University. Along with this I will answer any questions about my absence during the imperial coup. Also I would like to welcome any new senators and bless them in their new roles among our glorious empire. Thank you.
– Senator Magnus Kvensson

Apologies for my lateness Senators I’m afraid I had a rather rough night. However having reviewed the discussion before me I have the following to say.

Firstly I would like to welcome the latest arrival to our sacred congregation you may rest assured that whatever the crimes of your brother I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that you are not your brother and none of us will hold his actions against you.

Secondly I would agree with the Other Senators that Thrakia remain ab imperial holding under the direct control of the crown. I hardly think it would be appropriate for the Queen of cities to be under the direct control of anyone else aside your majesty.  (Though I would not object to power being delegated but not to the extent of that of a Governor)

Thirdly in light of recent events security in and around the city is paramount. In the events of that dark day I was able to experience the frankly horrendous nature of the city’s defenses and must ask that they be restored and improved immediately.

Fourthly I would strongly recommend the establishment of a permanent and strong city garrison that cannot be moved from the city under any circumstances. I am also wiling to contribute my guard until a suitable unit/force can be drawn up.

Fifthly and most importantly… (pause for effect)…

I must now direct your attention to the matter of a new set of doors in the hall where her Majesty addresses us during those great occasions when we all have a chance to meet. I have had several designs by some of the most respected artisans in the city drawn up and present them to you for your approval.

We (that is me and my men) are also pleased to report we have completely refurbished the Sacred Palace having finished all cleaning and structural works all that is missing now is furnishing suitable to shuch a place. Mosaics frescoes and windows have all been restored to the best of our knowledge you are free to visit at any time and any contributions are welcome.

Fellow senators, thank you for your support.  It is very appreciated.

I would also agree that Thema Thrakia remain under the direct administration of the Empress and her government.  As some have already stated, it would be inappropriate for anyone but the Empress to directly administer the City of the World’s Desire and the regions surrounding it.  It would also prevent any person appointed as governor of Thrakia from easily staging a coup and claiming the throne.

I would highly recommend that the walls of the city be brought up to modern standards.  The Theodosian Walls have stood for centuries and have guarded against barbarians, Arabs, Seljuks, and other invaders in that time.  However, in this age of guns and artillery capable of shooting through thick walls like watermelons, I fear that they will become fully obsolete if not a hindrance to our ability to defend the city.  To this end I am willing to invest some funds to repair the walls to their former strength, add in turrets for the new “machine guns” the boys over at the Imperial University and School of War have developed (they would make really good defensive weapons, I believe), and build platforms where artillery can be positioned to protect against any assault on the city.

~Michael Doukas

I second the motion for the improved defense’s of the capital. However, i believe that we should use more than the Imperial University and College of War. If I may I would like for the senate to hire Vanir Industries, a very reliable defense company that I have had the pleasure of working with in the past. I think this would result in a good balance between pushing our new socialist policies while also not angering our capitalist citizens.
– Senator Magnus Kvensson

I would call for a full accounting and description of Vanir Industries before we even consider contracting such important work to them. Avoiding a capitalist military-industrial complex forming in this Empire is of great priority to me. I have heard of the damage it has brought upon other nations around the globe.

~Nicodemo Theodosio

to her majesty
i would like to thank you for appointing me as head of the imperial navy i would also like to request a detail breakdown of our navy by ships type since it seems someone forgot to send me any reports about the navy

-Senator Alexander Smithereens

To Senator Theodosio,
I understand your concern of managing the military industrial complex in the empire, but I have discussed the possibility with the senior chairmen of the company and they will happily accept any amount of responsibility in the defense of the Imperial capital. It is entirely dependent on how much her majesty would like for the company to be involved in the construction of fortifications.

As for Vanir Industries, it was a defense research company that was a branch of my father’s business, The Aesir Corporation. The Vanir branch in particular has grown in popularity in many border themes and provinces, it has also become one of the more advance military tech companies in the Empire. They are even funding a new school of siege in the Imperial College of War.

Aesir was started by Father, Jon Kvensson and other businessmen and researchers who were veterans from the Varangian Guard who still wanted to live in the Empire and help it prosper. Aesir Corporation is currently sporting two businesses, one being Vanir and the other is Long Ship Enterprises, a infrastructure-centered company that mainly interacts with locomotive transportation. Aesir is also starting to expand into the medical field as well.

Hopefully this will satisfy the Senate and Empress about any further about Vanir Industries and the Aesir Corporation in the future.
– Senator Magnus Kvensson

“Perhaps the Patriarch of Constantinople would be rather offended to hear that the Empress and the Senate had decided to vest considerable power and influence in corporations named after pagan deities from the distant north.  I think we should decline.”

I will continue to strongly oppose any such deal, as it is unnecessary to put them in charge of any such projects. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We can continue to purchase arms from them, of course, but I refuse to allow such important work to be subcontracted.

I have not spent the last decade fighting against corporate influence just to turn over an essential project to their hands, especially after just having authority delegated to me to deal with these situations. I will defer to the Empress if she believes this has some merit, but I oppose this.

~Nicodemo Theodosio

Senators,

We apologize for the confusion in Our records. We hope you can understand.

Senator Palaiologos, We have updated the records to show that you, and not you father, are the governor of Britannia. Senator Doukas, We do not at all condemn you for your borther’s actions. And We reconfirm your family’s titles. Senator Theodosio, We are pleased at the rate of your recovery, and We agree with your military plans. As well, We welcome Felix to the session. Felix, you do your family, the Senate, and the Empire proud by your assisting your father.  Senator Kvensson, We shall reassign you to Austrialia. South Africa is yet colonial in governance, so We expect you could accomplish more in Australia. Senator Comminus,  your work restoring the palace has been excellent, and We would be well pleased to have you review and update The City’s defenses.

Senator Smithereens, the navy is thus:
West Fleet – 21 Ironclads, stationed in Faro (near the Strait of Gibraltar)
Light Fleet – 20 Commerce Raiders, stationed in the Canary Islands
East Fleet – 20 Ironclads, stationed in Marsa Alam (on the Red Sea)
Transports – 20 Steam Transports, stationed in Üsküdar (just across the Hellespont from Constantinople)
Africa Transports – 20 Steam Transports, stationed in Durban (South Africa)
America Transports – 20 Steam Transports, stationed in Georgetown (South America)
Red Sea Transports – 20 Steam Transports, stationed in Ras Gharib (on the Red Sea)
South East Asia Transports – 20 Steam Transports, stationed in Batavia (Java)
1st Fleet – Any unassigned Steam Transports (currently 20), stationed in Üsküdar (just across the Hellespont from Constantinople)

Senator Kvensson, thank you for suggesting Vanir industries. However, We anticipate few major contracts in the near future. But if there are any, they will be strongly considered.

Finally, as many have recommended, We shall hold Thracia within the royal family. Prince Alvértos shall govern it so that he can gain experience in leadership. As well, We shall increase the size of the Scholai Palatinae to be a full legion so that they can properly guard The City.

These are Our current notes on appointments. Are they correct? Do any Senators wish the role of Armaments minister? And are there any further concerns from the Senate?

Foreign minister – Senator Moustakas
Minister of security – Senator Doukas
Minister of intelligence – Senator Favero
Chief of Staff – Senator Αιδεν Στήβεν
Chief of the Army – Nicodemo Theodosio
Chief of the Navy – Senator Alexander Smithereens

(North) Africa – Alexios Damaskinos
Armenia – Julian Leon
Asia – Constantine Panaretos
Britannia – Ambrosio Palaiologos
Dalmatia – Mikael Moustakas
Egypt – Marcos Alexandros
Macedonia – Ioannes Angelos
Naples – Nestorius Septiadis
Raetia – Columba Comminus
Sicily – Alexander Smithereens
Syria – Michael Konstantios Doukas
Thracia – Prince Alvértos Doukas
Australia – Magnus Kvensson
Brittany – Στήβεν Γκρέυ
Italy – Leonardo Favero
Spain – Nicodemo Theodosio

(minor governors)
Georgia
Guayana
Mauretania
Palestine
Thracia
Aquitaine
Burgundy
Australia
Azerbaijan
Belgium
France
Java
New Zealand
Philippines
South Africa
Wales

The Navy is not my area of expertise, Empress, but I question why all of our transport fleets are utterly unguarded by actual combat ships. Surely this could be disastrous if war broke out, with the possibility of entire legions being sunk with the unarmed transports? I defer to Senator Smithereens, of course, but I am sure we can afford and support a larger navy, or at least a better distributed one.

Also, what is this “Belgium” you speak of Empress? I have never heard of any such culture as “Belgian”.

~Nicodemo Theodosio

My Empress, there has to be mistake, as my father, Alexios Damaskinos is listed as governor of Africa. As we all know I was appointed by him as his successor.

– Senator Alexandros Damaskinos

Senator Theodosio, that is an insightful observation. This demonstrates the former lack of ministers was a mistake. We shall see what recommendations Senator Smithereens has for the navy.

And We feel that We should give you specifics on the Legions. There are currently twenty-three legions, each consisting of two cohorts of hussars, eight cohorts of artillery, two cohorts of engineers, and eight cohorts of infantry. Those along the former border with Bavaria are subdivided into two forces.

They are positioned as follows:
I. Legio – Antioch
II. Legio – Adygei (north of the Caucuses, near the Russian border)
IV. Legio – Edessa (Macedonia)
VI. Legio – La Rochelle (western Gaul)
VII. Legio – Manchester (Britannia)
IX. Legio – Tangier
X. Legio – Aachen (northern Burgundy)
XI. Legio – Batavia (Java)
XII. Legio – Luanda (central Africa)
XV. Legio – Georgetown (South America)
XVI. Legio – Durban (south Africa)
XVII. Legio – Tunis (north Africa)
XIX. Legio – Cairo
XXIII. Legio – Judenburg/Innsbruck
XXIV. Legio – Galatai (near the Ukraine border)
XXV. Legio – Rome
XXVI. Legio – Barcelona
XXVII. Legio – Kaiserlautern/Graz
XXVIII. Legio – Zurich/Bregenz
XXIX. Legio – Salzburg/Sopron
XXX. Legio – basel/Strausburg
XXXI. Legio – Madrid
XXXII. Legio – Sassandra (west Africa)

Finally, the Scholai Paltinae consists of three cohorts of Cuirassars (the Athenian, Roman, and Constaninoplian Lancers), and one cohort of guards.

As for Belgium, it seems that the Flemish and Walloon peoples of northeastern Gaul have forged a united identity. They themselves chose the name Belgium, though We know not why.

Senator Damaskinos, Our records are being corrected even now. Thank you for bringing this oversight to Our attention.

I have a few questions/suggestions about the current setup. First, are the Legions in Africa entirely necessary? I count a total of 360,000 deployed troops there, the stacks there could likely be broken up into half size and spread out to effect the rebellion prevention that is the intention. I would maintain the full Legions in Tunis and Cairo though, as they are important cities in the Empire. For more specifics, I might remove Legio IX from Tangier and redeploy them to a more needing area, perhaps the Russian border? I see Russia and Germany as the two most likely nations to pursue aggression, and a full garrison on the Russian border in such a core region as the Caucasus, only a few hundred kilometers from our capital, seems very relevant. As rebel forces in the African colonies seem unlikely to generate very large forces, if only just due to the lack of political awareness there, splitting the Legions located there and spreading them out would seem the most efficient way to deal with the situation. I do not, however, know the status of rail infrastructure or of the fortifications of key cities and naval bases in Africa. I would appreciate more information on this subject to come to a decision on most defensive deployment.

Otherwise I am happy with the current deployment of troops, however I would also request information about the total amount of sustainable regiments, as not only does the Scholai Palatinae need to be expanded, so might the rest of the armed forces. As we are no longer allowing the Scholai Palatinae to leave their post as protectors of The City of World’s Desire, a new Legion should be raised for expeditionary purposes. I would propose the transfer of the current Scholai Palatinae to this new Legion, as it would serve their skills more than defense. While they have failed their purpose as defensive troops, they have shown their mettle in exploration and such, and should be repurposed to this task.

For the new Scholai Palatinae, I advise the replacement of the standard two engineer cohorts with artillery, we will have no need of their skills at breaking defenses in the event of their use. I also advise the usage of standard infantry rather than guards, as guards, despite their name, are more suited for offense. I also would use Cuirassiers for this Legion instead of Hussars, as Cuirassiers are more skilled in defense in general, even if the current Lancers have not shown this.

A note for all Senators: the total count of soldiers in service to the Legions of the Empire is 1,392,000, a truly magnificent force. I believe it might easily swell to 1.5 million with new expansions though.

~Nicodemo Theodosio

Empress,

Allowing for the budget and manpower, how many legions could we have in the field without running a loss?

Αιδεν Στήβεν

Senator Theodosio, your analysis is apt, as always. When it comes to the Empire’s manpower, there are 462 fielded cohorts, and the manpower to fully support 904. As for Africa, all railroads that can be built have been built, though in the central African jungles that is little enough railroad. No fortifications have been built in Africa during Our reign, but the ones along the Egyptian border with Ethiopia.

to her majesty

i would like to request more professional troops to ensure the security of my county the current troops have not experience and would certainly have  a hard time against a well lead professional army plus my appointment as head of the navy  causes me to have to keep a number of my current troops as bodyguards since a s a high ranking member of the government it makes me a target.

Alexander smithereens

My recommendations hold then. My only additions would be the construction of fortifications in any province that has a naval base, due to the strategic importance of those bases.

I am not sure about the necessity of raising a large number of additional troops, I would support perhaps an additional Legion or two beyond the new Scholai Palatinae, for the purposes of garrisoning the Russian border similarly to the way the German one is, but already our forces FAR outnumber any other professional army on the planet. With the defensive footing I am suggesting, there should never be a situation where an outside force can overwhelm us.

I would ask the honorable Senator his opinions on our transport fleets lacking any escorts, it seems possibly catastrophic in my mind.

~Nicodemo Theodosio

Senators,

As always, thank you for your time.

The Empire Strikes Back 94 – The Imperial Census

Senators,

The census is now ready.

 photo 94-1_zpsba4mht23.png

Let us start in the north, in Britannia. When Brazil was traded to England for them to cede their claims on Britain, most of the staunchly English peoples emigrated to England’s New World territories. Those that remained took up Greek customs over the years, and now the only significant population of English-speakers are centered around London and Canterbury, which they dominate. In the north of England, there are populations of Norwegians dating from their domination of the island, and a sizable population of Scots in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Southern and western Wales hold to their roots, whereas northern Wales has assimilated to Greek culture. The island of Britannia is considered two provinces: Britannia and Wales. In all, 6.85 Million people live on Britain.

Next, Gallia. In the low countries to the northeast, the Flemish dominate in the Eindhoven region and Vlaanderen. To their south, in the western half of Wallonie and the inland portions of Picardie, are the Walloon peoples. In the rest of Picardie, nearly all of Champagne, all of Ile de France, most of Normandy, and a little of Loire, are the Franks. The northern part of Brittany is filled with Bretons. In the south, particularly Aquitaine, Poitou, Le Midi, and Provence, are the Aquitaine peoples. They also are the main population of Lyon. And much of the eastern Gaulish lands are ruled by a Germanic people who consider themselves Burgundian. Much of Gaul is predominately Greek-speaking, and the regions that are not have significant Greek populations. Gallia is considered to be five provinces: Aquitaine, Belgium, Brittany, Burgundy, and France. In all, 15.51 million people live in Gaul.

Iberia is primarily Castilian, with significant Andalusian populations along the southern and eastern coasts and inland. North along the Pyrenees many of the people have taken to Green customs. On the coast of Catalonia is another significant population of Aquitaine people, and in the northeast there are Basque people still holding to their ancient ways. The Iberian peninsula is considered two provinces: Catalonia and Spain. In all, 6.00 million people live in Iberia.

Almost all of the Italian peninsula adopted Greek long ago. But in the northern half there are significant populations of Italians, with some German communities as well. The Italian peninsula is considered to be three provinces: Italy, Naples, and Sicily. In all, 8.99 million people live on the Italian peninsula.

Raetia is a smallish province between Italy and Bavaria. As can be expected from a border province, it has significant populations of Germans, mostly in the east. Also in the east is a large community of Hungarians. In the west, it is primarily Greek. There are no major subdivisions of Raetia. In all, 1.66 million people live in Raetia.

The rest of the Empire to the Hellespont is almost entirely Greek, but for a Hungarian population in northern and western Pannonia. This vast region consists of five provinces: Dalmatia, Macedonia, Moesia, Pannonia, Thracia. In all, 10.81 million people live in this region.

East of the Hellespont is also almost entirely Greek, with Tartars and Russians north of the Caucasus Mountains on the border with Russia, and major Sephardi population in Judea. This also vast region consists of seven provinces: Asia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Judea, Syria, and Trans-Caucusia. In all, 4.98 million people live in this region.

The northern part of the continent of Africa is again mostly Greek, with scattered Berber populations, and a significant English population in the far west. This region consists of three provinces: Africa, Egypt, and Mauretania. In all, 4.43 million people live in this region.

Most of the rest of Africa does not have the bureaucracy in place to take a census. Except for the province of South Africa. In the west, South Africa is Somali, and in the east a Tartar population brackets an Oromo one. In all, 0.92 million people live in this province.

Across the Atlantic, Guyana is Greek, and the nearby islands are Caribeno and Afro-Caribeno. There are two provinces in this region: Guyana and the Caribbean Islands. In all 0.58 million people live in this region.

Oceania is a mish-mash of colonies and provinces, and did not get data back to Constantinople in time for this census. The map has been painted in the Greek colors for convenience.

If any Senators have recommendations for redrawing the provinces, or wish to govern a different province than they have been assigned, please let Us know.


Thank you, Your Higness. The taxes shall flow from Dalmatia as long as I am governor!

-Mikael Moustakas

I thank the Empress greatly for this appointment, I do hope that the governance of other regions can be transferred to their cultural kin reasonably soon however. I shall govern Hispania to the absolute best of my ability; I shall also seek to end the worrying faction that is seeking a return of a Castilian kingdom that we saw in the rebel census.

I would offer my services as Chief of Staff, if the Empress sees it fit. I would see the worrying trend of corruption amongst government officials ended. I offer myself because I am as of yet, uncorrupted by the various factions that seek to buy influence rather than earn it. Unlike most senators, who live lives of leisure in this wonderful city, I live in a modest townhome I share with my wife and son, and all income that is not needed to take care of them or myself I donate to the soup kitchens here in the City of Cities.

You have my solemn vow, that if I am granted the position, I will use it to forward your will. Regardless of my political beliefs, the corruption and excess shown by many bureaucrats needs to end, and I would seek to end it. I may prefer the working bureaucrat to the aristocrat who inherits their position, but corruption among either is unacceptable. The citizens of this Empire should work for the glory of the Empire and all its people, rather than their own personal greed.

As for military matters, while I served in the legion in my youth, it was not out of choice, rather it was to provide for my family. I am your loyal sword should you need it, and will advise to the best of my ability, but I do not know about the wisdom of any territorial expansion given the internal problems we face. Nevertheless, I am committed to serve you, and will provide any council you wish of me.

~Nicodemo Theodosio

I thank you, My Empress, for allowing me to continue to serve as Governor of Italy as my father did before me. I will ensure that the region remains quiet and prosperous.

– Senator Leonardo Favero

Thank You Empress for such glorious title that is Governor. You won’t be disappointed, I’ll make sure of that.

– Senator Alexios Damaskinos

“You have my great thanks, Megali Basilissa. The Angeloi will not disappoint the Crown.”

To Theodosio, he says, “perhaps you should retire to a monastery and sing the praises of God each day. It might suit your delicate temperament better than this place of worry and stress.”

~ Ioannes Angelos

I assure the Senator that I am quite happy with my work here, I may not have accomplished everything I set out to do yet, but I am causing change.

I would remind the Senator of a certain quote of our Lord: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

~Nicodemo Theodosio

“We are all the product of wealth, senator, and some of us of good breeding. Let’s not pretend that you are truly representative of the working classes you profess to love so much.”

Thank you, Your Imperial Highness, for appointing me as Governor of Syria. I have served there in my youth, and I shall maintain the peace there efficiently.

~Senator Alexios Doukas, Doux of Greece and Governor of Syria

to his excellency
I would like to become the chief of the navy as well as continue to be governor of Sicily my experience as governor of this province has given me the knowledge necessary to lead our navy to victory and rule the sea.

Alexander Smithereens

I will make sure to honor my role as Governor of Naples fiercely. I thank you, my Empress.

-Nestorius Septiadis

Ioannes, Thedosio give it a rest you to you are beginning to make my brain hurt the way you to go at each other. There are times when I find myself wondering “Is it those two eminent senators at it again? Or have the Blues and Greens started yet another civil war? have you ever asked yourselves why half of us bring earmuffs to the senate even in July? Well now you know.

Augusta Magna.
I accept my appointment as the Governor of the province of Reatia it is my sincerest hope that I shall serve your Imperial Majesty and the Empire well.
Before I leave I would like to inquire on behalf of my fellow Governors precisely what territories we will be expected to govern as areas within our respective provinces. So as to avoid any confusion or unfortunate misunderstanding in the coming years.

-Columba Comminus

Thank you, Empress! Your benevolence and generosity has been shown with this gracious assignment. I will immediately take up my assignment as governor of Britannia!

-Ambrosio Palaiologo

((Private – In Alexios Doukas’s mind))
While the senators were busy discussing what would be the better names for the provincial governors, Alexios thought back to those dark days, when the Jacobin menace stormed into the city, thirty-six thousand of them. Angry peasants, unpaid soldiers, the homeless and the unemployed, all angry at the state and Church for abandoning them, outraged that they had to suffer while to them the Patriarch and Empress “swam in lakes of gold,” as one Jacobin newspaper claimed before it was shut down by the government.
Luckily Alexios was on vacation in Thessaloniki when the rebels laid siege to the Queen of Cities, but his son Konstantinos wasn’t so lucky. The Athenian Lancers were on the front lines when the rebellion began, and the three thousand lancers were swarmed by over ten thousand angry peasants, led by a Slavic-looking man with an eyepatch, who shouted that the “tyranny of the madwoman shall be crushed” to his followers.
By the time the Scholai Palatinae was forced to retreat, only a handful of Lancers had managed to fight their way out of the mob. The rest were torn to pieces, their bodies desecrated and some even offered up to the Black God by zealous converts to Ignatieff’s paganism.
Konstantinos barely made it out alive, his right leg severely injured, leaving him with a permanent limp, and his right hand (his gun hand) barely able to hold things and write, much less swing a sword or shoot a pistol. There was a burn scar over his right eye and a nasty scar running down his back from where a Jacobin used a scythe to torture him.
His son was alive, but scarred. Alexios sensed that something was wrong with his thinking after the rebellion, even ten years later. Konstantinos didn’t want to help out with his younger brother Michael’s University projects, despite promising to before the rebellion. Where he showed respect for the cultures of others he now showed hatred of all things Slavic and Jacobin. He refused to interact with anyone of the “lower classes,” the “plebeians,” not even his own servants.
Konstantinos wanted to be treated like royalty, like he was above the citizens of Rome, like he was the Emperor. But that would be treason, wouldn’t it? Alexios thought.
For the last few years, he and his men had been keeping an eye on Konstantinos and had included amendments to his will leaving his property and titles and Senatorship to Michael should Konstantinos snap, which was inevitable.
What worried Alexios was when that would occur.

The Empire Strikes Back 93 – The State of the Empire 1869-1880

Senators,

Your presence is requested to a State of the Empire address at Blachernae Palace on January First, 1880.

The following newspapers are considered significant by the archivists.
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And the Senate’s world map is being updated.
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As always, feel free to send messages of concern to the palace before the address.


Bah, reactionaries. There are too many radicals in these dangerous times, from the stubborn reactionaries to the wild liberals to the crazy socialists.

Senator Andronikos Palaiologos

Congratulations on the victory over Deccan, Your Imperial Majesty.

These rebellions in Russia and Germany are indeed worrying. We can only hope this Jacobin madness does not pass on to the Empire.

I see there have been many interesting scientific developments. It is quite fascinating to learn more about the noble Archaeopteryx. Too bad that Professor Huxley has gone insane.

I believe the Minister of Justice should investigate this disturbing trend of corset-related fainting. Perhaps we should ban corsets if they are causing so much trouble for our young women. What do you think, Your Majesty?

Events in Scandinavia are somewhat alarming. I believe we should monitor the situation and ensure that the region does not undergo too much instability.

-Senator Moustakas, Foreign Minister

So…many…jacobins…I’m getting a bit old for this.

Those pesky Bavarians beat us to the source of the Nile!  (where as you may recall they promptly were massacred by the Cult)

Russian expansions is quite worrying.  We should supply training officers and weapons to the Ming in order to stop their advance into Asia.

I appreciate all of the Imperial research into these “dinosaurs,” but I don’t seem to see a single Greek scientist among them, right?

Why did the editor mention the Irish craving for the protection of the British, who barely exist?

Gender equality…does this have something to do with the corset fainting thing lately?

~Senator Doukas, Minister of Security

So we help the Unite Tribes for years and they suddenly see us as dangerous to them?  See if we help them again!

We should seek out these Doctors Cope and Marsh.  They seem both brilliant, although their bitter rivalry seems to get the better of them.  They must be brought to cooperate for scientific achievement!

I see that the interior of Africa has been tamed.  I suppose there was no doubt that the savages there would be brought under our rule eventually.

– Senator Leonardo Favero

I completely agree, Roman civilization should be spread to the savages of Africa and we should reestablish our imperial presence on the Dark Continent.

-Moustakas

Don’t forget, the Cult has multiple strongholds there.  We must destroy them quickly lest they spread like a cancer to the rest of the world.

~Doukas

The editor said no such thing, Senator Doukas. The editorial said ‘Much as the Irish graciously welcomed British overlordship, the black race crave the guiding hand of whites.’. Nothing here implies that the Irish crave for the protection of the British, only that they had graciously welcomed it before. Now, as far as I recall, the Irish did no such thing, so the editor should be reprimanded for making such a claim.

-Nestorius Septiadis

A Senate historian submits a report:

I went and reviewed the historical archives. Despite a focus on Imperial history, they have some hints as to the history of Britannia.

The Irish were long dominated by the Scottish, though with many rebellions, so the conquest took hundreds of years.

It’s unclear who this newspaper article might mean by ‘the British’. The Britons were long dominated by the Anglo-Saxons, of course, who ruled England. But they were constantly harassed by other powers (the Norwegians, the Scottish, the French), before the Empire reconquered Roman Britannia. The Anglo-Saxon had taken many aspects of these cultures and fused them into their own form. The cultural melting pot of England had become a colonizing power, forming a major nation in the Brazilian region as well as many colonies elsewhere. The other colonies were eventually conquered by other powers, and Roman Brazil, mostly populated with a Romano-native peoples who still have a strong Brazilian cultural identity, was traded to England for the surrender of their claims on Britannia.

So if the article’s mention of British means the Anglo-Saxons, then it must satire about peoples who were barely able to rule themselves and eventually who were wholly displaced and their disinterest in dominating their neighbors. Perhaps making some kind of reference to the Empresses’ rulership? If it refers to the Scottish, which would be a strange use of ‘British’, then it might be serious in tone, but the Irish rebellions and the slow conquest again point towards satire. And on the off chance it refers to the Empire as ‘the British’—after all, we were the ones who civilized the land first, despite our thousand-year absence—then again it’s satirical, as the Empire never made a move to conquer any of Ireland.

In any case, the article is muddled and poorly-written. This has become frequent with the increased freedom of the press. Note as well the decreased number of papers worth archiving.

The clerk sighs, and walks off grumbling.

I recommend this Senate Historian be awarded a commendation for his fantastic research!

Senator Andronikos Palaiologos

Ah, I see now.  This makes sense.  Someone should reprimand the reporter responsible for the article!  And if the number of papers worth archiving is decreasing, what happens when that number reaches zero?

~Doukas

Those Jacobins overthrowing rightful governments are worrying. Especially if they do it in countries like Germany and Russia.

I am proud seeing that we’ve been victorious in so-called “Scramble for Africa”.

– Senator Alexios Damaskinos

I demand that the editor of one of the newspapers be arrested for spreading defeatism. How are we scared of Russia? We are the Roman Empire! We have the largest, most advanced army in a world and a navy to go along with it! Why are we scared of some barbaric Slavs from the east?

Senator Andronikos Palaiologos

Well perhaps instead of bring death and destruction to the Dark Continent we could bring enlightenment.

The rebellions throughout the world are the workers way of forcing new values and ideas into corrupt and failing institutions, this Senate should be aware that our very own Empire has a growing discontent between those that have and those that have not. The force of history is pushing on the pillars of the old systems and unless the Empire reforms and acknowledges the very people who bleed for her then our Empress and Empire are at risk, not just from some cult, but from a tide that will was it away and see it reborn.

Already in August 1872 we had a number of protests put down with lethal force, for shame Senator Doukas & Favero ordering the massacre of our own people. Yet still we talk about invasion here and new lands for the thirds sons of senators to lord over, perhaps we should bring our own house in order before these matters become too violent to resist.

Αιδεν Γκρέυ
Chief of Staff and Commissar of the Workers Progression Union of the Koinotita

Expel this man from the Senate immediately

-Mikael Moustakas

Ioannes Angelos says contemptuously, “perhaps we should set the senate and palace in order by removing you, senator Grey.”

If me and mine need to respresent the spirit of a modern Gracchi in this Senate so be it.

I hope members of this Senate will realise this movement will not pass and that unless the Senate members are prepared to act directly against me, I am here to stay!

Αιδεν Γκρέυ

Ioannes smiles unpleasantly.  “Given your outbursts of late, that’s a tempting proposition, but I will wait for the voice of the senate or the Basilissa first.”

Speaking of which the majority of members here have either bought or inherited their place in this Senate.

Strange people paying off officals is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some… farcical amount of money changing hands!

Αιδεν Γκρέυ

Well it’s certainly more legitimate than if the senators were chosen through some farcical aquatic ceremony involving some watery tart throwing a sword at potential senators.

– Senator Leonardo Favero

“A mandate from the masses?” Ioannes says with a sneer.  “Don’t make me laugh, senator.  Over a thousand years ago, the great scholar Alcuin warned the false emperor Karolomagnos against such a path, in words that yet resonate today: And those people should not be listened to who keep saying, the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.”

He shrugs dismissively in the general direction of the entire Koinotita faction.  “He who is ignorant of history is doomed to repeat it.”

Alexios laughed.
Should we give the people to decide who rules the Empire, eventually these “elections” will devolve into a mere popularity contest in which the man who speaks the loudest and has the most money trumps everybody else!

The state derives from the person of the emperor/empress, whose authority is derived from God and tradition dating back to Augustus Caesar, not some hogwash about the masses. The Basilissa should listen to the people, but your theory of sovereignty is complete nonsense.

-Mikael Moustakas

(( In a private letter to Nicodemo Theodosio ))
Welcome to the Senate, Mr. Theodosio.  Please be careful as to how you present your views around here, as due to some recent events many of us do not like socialists.  Your point about free universal education intrigued me, as my family has always strove for such a system, though on your other points I’m afraid we differ quite significantly.

Regards,
~Alexios Doukas, Minister of Security, Doux of Graecia

(( In a private letter in response ))

The recent events of which you mention can only be tied to Socialism as a whole if you insist on every “enemy” of the empire wearing the same face. The actions of both foreign states and cultists are not supported by the Party, and do not represent revolutionary activity as we encourage it. Servants to a dark god are no different than servants to a hostile state, and should be treated as such.

I do not encourage the overthrow of the Roman Empire, long may it endure, I call for its transition to a more economically centralized and efficient state. The Empire has long truly worked off the power of the bureaucrats, and the acknowledgement of the work of the proletariat in maintaining our proud nation is long overdue.

There are those among the Communists who do encourage the overthrow of the Empire and the establishment of independent nationality-based states, but I do not support those views. The dissolution of the Empire can only harm civilization, as it threw Europe into chaos when we were at our weakest. I believe in a strong Roman Empire, but one that doesn’t suppress the culture and language of its citizens. The Empire of old did not do so, and it is a product of modern Bourgeois Imperialism.

I would argue for the appointment of reasonably powerful regional governors to bring the concerns of the regions to the attention of the rest of the Empire when necessary. I would suggest that these governors be appointed from among those from the region, as opposed to further appointments of Greeks in similar positions.

Regards, Nicodemo Theodosio


Senators,

First, We wish to welcome the new Senators, and to appoint Senators Favero and Doukas into their fathers’ positions. They have both proven worthy of the positions.

Second, We will update you on the royal family. Princess Louiza married John Tudor, Duke of Kent in 1871. Prince Alfrédos married Grand Duchess Maria of Ukraine in 1874. Prince Artoúros married Princess Louise Margaret of Germany in 1879. To my great sorrow, though, Princess Alíki’s family was struck was diphtheria in 1878, killing two of her children and then killing her. Of my nine children, only eight now survive. I have twenty-four living grandchildren, with an additional seven already dead.

Third, in response to your concerns:
It is true that much work in exploration and archaeology is done by non-citizens of the Empire. Our efforts have been in the military sciences, in industry, and in commerce. Matters of the humanities have been much neglected, apart from those areas of philosophy useful to the government.

As you observed, Africa has mostly come under the control of the Empire. Like Italy, Spain, Gaul, Britannia, South America, and many others, the locals are finding it to their benefit to be a part of the Imperial system and joining with glee. More on that later.

Finally, We would remind you that Senators are appointed because they are useful to the Empire. Be that as a representative of wealthy families, of aristocrats, of the bureaucracy, or as representatives of the working class. Kindly have respect for those in other social classes than your own. After all, all are equally made in the image of God, reliant on the cross, and citizens of the Empire. If need be, We can ask the Patriarch of Constantinople to give a homily on the topic.

Finally, news of the Empire.

After the last session, IV. Legio made a landing on Deccan’s west coast and marched towards the capital in Hyderabad. Before they arrived, Deccan had agreed to a peace. Nearly all of the subcontinent was in Our sphere of influence.
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At the turn of the year, the philosophers again came to request a new chair. They pointed to the success of Empiricism, and claimed that they could free logic from any but self-evident axioms. So We funded a new chair, expecting that again there would be useful benefits for the rest of the Empire. They finished their initial work with such speed that we suspect they had prepared much of it in advance, though many other advances came with time.
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When they were completed, We noted that the Legions claimed there were new guns that could provide support from fixed positions. Instead of artillery, these would be rapid firing ‘machine guns’. We ordered several arms companies to develop designs and begin equipping the Legions.
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As We added more Indian nations to Our sphere of influence, it become clear that it would a constant fight to keep them in Our sphere. So We moved to have them unite as a single nation under Our influence. That they would soon be regarded as a Great Power and be beyond Our economic influence was unexpected.
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Apart from a minor reactionary revolt, time passed peacefully.

When the machine guns had been completed, We ordered that the existing railroad designs be undated again, using the Empire’s greater iron resources unlocked by improving technology.
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And when We saw that yet another German-Bavarian war was in a stalemate, We decided to intervene. Technically Our casus belli was to humiliate Our foe, but the real reason was to soften them against their other enemies. The Legions prepared as the diplomats prepared the justifications.

And when Centurion Doukas had demonstrated that the Cult was using Africa for bases of operation, We decided that the Empire’s influence must be extended at any cost.
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Fortunately, the use of force was not necessary, and the locals were easily brought into under Imperial governance, organizing themselves under local colonial governments. Although in the west, England and Scotland competed to expand their influences, winning the coast and competing for years over the inland areas. And in the east, Ethiopia expanded along the coasts and inland up until the African Great Lakes.

When We were ready to attack Bavaria, it was almost too late.
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The legions moved in mass across the border, while X. Legio in the north attempted to assist Germany.

When the railway designs were complete, the businessmen of the Empire took no time in upgrading the railways nearly everywhere. During a meeting with Ourselves, they pointed out that there was a great need to know how to manage a workforce scientifically. So We created a task force to learn how to do so.
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With Our help, Germany was able to annex Thuringia. But this was not the end, as their former war with Weimar had shown. They needed to escape with at least a white peace with Bavaria.
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When the scientific management task force released its first findings, We created a new task force to better understand the flaws with the capitalist system of production.
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The war with Bavaria was devastating…for them. We did not agree to a peace until they had no men under arms, no land under their control. They were able to resume control of their own lands once the peace was signed, but surely Germany and their Commonwealth allies would end that.

When the collectivist research was done, We saw the need to better support the workers of the Empire. They had jobs in increasing numbers, but these jobs did little to address the quality of their lives. Sadly, it would take time to develop the political will to make changes.
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In the meanwhile We tasked a group with better improving the methods of mining iron.
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With the success of the censored press, We decided it was not worth Our while to continue the work of censoring the papers, and thus We allowed for a free press.
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With the improved iron extraction techniques, We tasked engineers with tailoring steam engines to various jobs.
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When those had completed, We began drafting laws that would regulate the printing of money. Specific private banks would do so, not whomever pleased.
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And of course, a great many inventions developed from advances before the last address to the Senate.
During the few years of peace, We upgraded factories throughout the Empire, attempting to provide jobs for the thousands of peoples moving into the cities.
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As We have now covered events until 1875, there shall now be a short recess to discuss them and to refresh ourselves.


It is good that we live in such enlightened times.  All these new inventions and ideas surely benefit the Empire

The Indians are surely thanking us for helping them unify the subcontinent.  Let it be known that the Empire and our Empress care for those outside our border.

– Senator Leonardo Favero

We live in prospering times, yet we must not forget the common people and their efforts in getting us here.  Already we have heard rumors of Jacobins bringing down foreign governments at alarming rates, and that must not happen here.

~Senator Alexios Doukas

Your Imperial Majesty, I speak to you today to address a dire issue that is facing our Glorious Empire. Despite the increased research into collectivist economics, (a move I applaud) the class divide is only growing greater. I speak on this not to denigrate the aristocrats or plutocrats among us, but to point to an issue that will cause strife in this Empire. If the working class cannot trust the upper class to treat them as human beings, the reverse sentiment is at least understandable in its origin. The rising tide of Nationalism is also trying to subvert the ends of the Empire. To this end I must call again for the following policies, at the very least:

1. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
2. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
3. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
4. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
5. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
6. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.
7. The appointment of powerful regional governors for each separate nationality still distinguished in the Empire. These governors are to be selected from members of the populace, and not appointed to a Greek as has been done in previous such situations.

~Your Citizen, Senator Nicodemo Theodosio

I am glad to see Bavaria humbled. Those barbarians must be taught to respect the might of the Empire.

I am somewhat skeptical of these press “reforms” but it could be beneficial to the Empire to let all our citizens speak their mind.

-Senator Moustakas

We must seek greater trade with our Indian tributaries. Offer them the Orient while we mop up the uncivilized savages of Europe, Western Asia, the Americas, and Africa. While they take the casualties, we must exploit the situation. Let everyone obey the divine law of Rome!

-Senator Andronikos Palaiologos

“Senator, if we do not appoint Greeks to positions of power, how do we expect our ideals, society and influences to be spread properly?  All must speak (and think!) Greek in our great empire.”

-Ioannes Angelos

Am I not a non-Greek standing before you now? Do I not espouse the glory and potential of this great Empire? I speak in Greek now to speak to you all, Senators, but when I was born, I first learned Spanish. The ideals of Rome have spread to the furthest reach of the Empire and beyond. I am here as a voice for the “radicals” and I must say what the honest opinion of the citizen in the reaches of the Empire is.

That opinion, radical as it might seem, is that Rome was never a Greek Empire. Rome was an Empire for and of its people. It provided clean water, medicine, sanitation, roads, and countless other public works. The re-establishment of these projects would go a long way towards lowering public dissent and revolt.

~ Senator Nicodemo Theodosio

Ah yes but you have assimilated into Greek culture. I agree with many of your points. However, I also wish to include greater integration of Romanized minorities into the Greek culture. We must make the Empire stronger than before and that includes assimilating those who are minorities.

-Senator Andronikos Palaiologos, Duke of Nicaea

Asimilado!? Me presento ante ustedes como un romano, no un griego! Mis compatriotas sienten lo mismo que yo! Somos romanos, los griegos no!

Ahem, Senators, to call me a Greek, or assimilated, shows great disregard for the value of other cultures. The Roman Empire of old looked at each new culture it continued with interest and passion. Many of the gods on the old pagan pantheon were adopted from other cultures. The Roman Empire is not an Empire of Greeks, and continuing to pursue culturally destructive policies will lead to rebellions from nationalists. I will state this publicly now, that if I am again called an assimilated Greek, I will be happy to settle this elsewhere.

~ Senator Nicodemo Theodosio

Spoken like a radical socialist! The old order will always be defended by those who were the first Romans in this country, the Greeks! We accept every culture but we expect those cultures to follow Roman laws and Roman rules! Let the nationalists rise, our army will crush them! Rome is a massive multi- ethnic nation, I am willing to tolerate minorities but not extreme radicals. How dare you talk about paganism in the sacred Christian halls here! How dare you talk about our policies like they are destructive! How dare you talk about rebellions as a reasonable thing! I shall tolerate this as free speech but I vehemently disagree with you.

-Senator Andronikos Palaiologos, Duke of Nicaea

The old order has fallen across the world. This was a revolution of the people, not the aristocracy, and that is why the honorable Senator defends against it. He relies on an outdated institution: the aristocratic class. I kneel to the Empress! Not to you sir, never to the aristocrat class! Even here its power has been limited severely, the authority of the bureaucrats upheld. While it is not the ultimate injustice the Communists and Socialists rally against, they are the front line in the class warfare I speak of. It is them who would see all other viewpoints squashed, who would ensure that a child is never taught the language of his parents.

And while you extoll the virtue of the legion, do not forget your history, Senator. The army was involved in almost every political instability of the Roman Empire, and will continue today. I am sure if you asked the common soldier, his views would differ from yours. I wager that a large percentage of the soldiers in the Roman Empire are involved in radical groups!

Unlike the honorable Senator, I wish to maintain the borders and strength of this Empire. I merely see that refusing to accept the power the people have in our Empire is unfair and will lead to nothing but ruin. I would not see the Empire fall in my lifetime, not ever!

~ Senator Nicodemo Theodosio

Alexios sighed.

Muttering to himself so that only he can hear:
Now all we need are some ultranationalists.  We could call them…fascists?

Speaking louder:
Please, enough squabbling!  We are here to discuss the future of the Empire, not argue over who’s ideology is better than the other in serving the Empire!  We must discuss things peacefully and without argument, so that we can come to a conclusion agreed upon by all sides!  Isn’t the point of the Senate for us to work together in deciding the Empire’s path in the coming years?
We are at a crossroads, senators.  Everything is changing.  Not only are borders and technologies changing, but minds are changing.  The Empire hasn’t experienced such change since the rise of Islam in the 7th century AD.  If we don’t change now like we did then to survive, we will stumble and fall apart.  If we change too fast or too radically, we will lose ourselves and what the Empire stands for.   Now is not the time for ideological factionalism.  It is this kind of arguing that tore apart Germany and Russia and put them under the boot of the Jacobins and allowed the Cult to operate practically unmolested in foreign lands.  We absolutely cannot let that happen here.

~Alexios Doukas, Doux of Greece and Minister of Security

“Whilst I agree with Senator Doukas, I do wonder who Senator Theodosias thinks the Basilissa is, other than the matriarch of Constantinople’s greatest family.  Many of us in the palace are part of the very best families – the Angeloi and the Doukai are just two.”

-Ioannes Angelos

My Red Colleague and Trusted Friend Nicodemo,

As those of our party constantly try to impress upon the Senate the world is changing, the common person yearns for change. We see what happens when the conversatives and reactionaries think that there schemes and ploys will keep those beneath them in place yet we see how their greed blinds them and allows a new power to grow in India all cause they couldn’t control the people well enough. Even now our sister party in India makes great gains in this new state.

*Two Burly Senate Gaurds rise from their seats and attempt force Αιδεν back into his seat*

Aha, now we see the violence inherent in the system.

HELP, HELP! I’M BEING REPRESSED!

Αιδεν Γκρέυ

Speaking of India it is a shame that those heathens believe they are too good for Roman protection. Hopefully we will still be able to foster further economic ties and prevent the Rusians from entering the market.

-Moustakas

I would agree on this, continuing our history of peaceful international economic cooperation is ideal.

To the honorable senator, I would encourage a little more restraint. The theories of communism espoused in less developed countries would not serve the material conditions in place here. While I would be happy to see the communists there take power, it has little effect on a nation as developed as the Empire. We must endeavor to create new lines of thought that serve to illuminate the path to revolution for a Roman.

~ Senator Nicodemo Theodosio

Do we still maintain an alliance with India or have we lost all diplomatic power in this region?

-Στήβεν Γκρέυ

I would think we are still allied with India.  We may have lost all of our influence in the region in helping with the unification process, and if we still have some influence, I believe that it will presently wither away once India reaches Great Power status, which it should probably reach within a year or two due to the resulting prestige, its extremely large population, and industrial capacity.

~Doukas

I am a man of the people. Each and every person is a human, I am a fierce proponent of reform. I agreed with your social reform, remember that! The aristocracy support the reactionaries, I am not a reactionary. You may call me a conservative but I am not an old fool nor a young radical. You are the man of the radical nationalists! The army was involved everywhere! The only reason we exist now and we are here now is because of the legions! Some may have radicalized but our officers will keep them in check. I wish to bring civilization to the rest of the world. You must seek the greater good!

-Andronikos Palaiologos

Ah! the Greater Good, that old adage. Generally the more money that finds its way into the Greater’s pockets the better and if you happen to do some Good on the way well, jolly good.

I submit to the Parliament a report by the Journalist Henry Mayhew on the conditions in part of my own province’s capital Londino, Londino Labour and the Londino Poor a shameful reflection on the multitudes that throng streets such as those not far from this very chamber. The squalor and depravity these unfortunates are forced to resort to to feed, clothe and shelter themselves is a sad relection on this Parliament and because of this Parliament a stain on your Imperial Highness.

I request that a Senate Committee be formed to further investigate the conditions of the poor in our 20 largest cities and what measures we can take to reduce their suffering. I would request that Senator Palaiologos be co-chair on this committee so that there is no appearence on bias.

To those members that would only look to what they stand to gain, under our parties leadership the poor would be entitled to subsidies, those subsidies would fuel greater growth in the economy as people would no longer be forced to just survive, but could educate themselves, find a home of their own and perhaps even group together to start new industries so we are not so reliant on the same few thousand capitialist elite to drive our industry. Heck perhaps it would allow the government to stop holding the hand of industry and support the people more.

“If you want the state to to improve these poor people’s lives, then clearly industry should be tasked with this matter.  Build new Greek schools to teach the glories of Rome to the poor unfortunates and build new factories so that their parents might earn their own crusts.  It is the Church that should provide charity, not the State.”

-Ioannes Angelos

Hear, hear.

-Mikael Moustakas

I agree with this. Many poor people are being oppressed by corrupt, sleazy capitalists. We need unemployment subsidies, a minimum wage, and limited safety regulations to protect those abused poor people. However, I believe reform can come from the government and it must be slow and methodical to prevent mistakes and loopholes, unlike my red colleague.

-Andronikos Palaiologos

I would be glad to offer my support towards social reform.  How can Rome claim to be the leader of the world when its people don’t have an appropriate standard of living?

~Alexios Doukas

“If dangerous conditions are harming the Empire’s productivity, then a commission should be formed to investigate these matters, but this senate is not the Holy Church and the Basilissa is not the Patriarch.  Let the Church perform charity, whilst the State ensures that none is needed.”

~ Ioannes Angelos

((Introducing Senator Columba Comminus))

Ave!

Your Imperial Majesty, Your Holiness, Honourable and Eminent Senators.

My apologies for arriving late for this particular session so if you will allow a few minutes for an introduction I promise to keep it brief. (Though I have provided a longer version explaining my origins further for those of you who so wish to read it)

The origins of my family are shrouded in mystery thought to date back to the time when Rome was ruled by Kings me and my kin are said to be descended from slaves who won their freedom in the overthrow of the last king and establishment of the Republic.

Overtime we rose to a respected, but not prominent or powerful place in society. By the time of the Caesars we were a rich equestrian (and on occasion senatorial) family who migrated to Roman controlled Caledonia for what most said was at long last an aim to rise to higher positions within the Empire. But despite what you may have heard was an attempt to move to more suitable climes as the paler complexion and hair of my dynasty led to an unfortunate tendency to be almost permanently sunburnt or very heavily tanned even in the winter. Those of you who have been “Up North” as they say just South of Hadrian’s Wall will know the change suited us admirably (though sunshine is nice from time to time).

After our fellow countrymen withdrew; first from Caledonia then Britannia altogether you may have thought we would have found ourselves alone and surrounded by a hostile people.

Thankfully the natives were found to be much friendlier once we stopped lording it over them and got on rather well and soon found common ground in our love of the weather, alcohol and poking fun at those men sissy enough to wear trousers.

Over the intervening centuries my family endured a series of rises and falls from wealth and power to destitution and irrelevance. We may have been down at times but never out which is more than can be said for most families which lied in the border regions of Scotland (or indeed any region of anywhere).

Which brings us to the here and now. I myself was born some years ago in “the early days of Winter 1855” according to my Da nobody bothered to note the exact date as my mas’ 13 hours of labour had left her in a spectacularly foul mood and my Da’ hand nearly half chewed off (we are still to hear the end of it).

I lead quite an active youth studying and travelling both within and without the empire. I have studied not only various languages but also am fully qualified in matters of both Scots and Roman law (which are remarkably similar) as well as theology and history according to Glasgow, Constantine, the Gregorian and Paris Universities respectively (I must confess I am rather anti-social preferring a good night’s reading to a good night’s drinking any day) I also had the honour of enjoying a brief though largely ceremonial tenure as a junior officer in the Varangian Guard and as a navy cadet. (Celts and Anglo-Saxons have been part of the guard ever since the Vikings started raiding us. Though if you value your lives you will please ensure that the Angles are as far as possible from the Celts in the same room while sober and preferably city while not (which I regret to say the latter is the norm).

And so now after an absence of many centuries my family has asked me to come to the Queen of cities to reclaim the seat in the Senate that once belonged to us. Provided your majesty has no objections.

As for political leanings I have come primarily to represent the interests of my Family and those who live in the lands surrounding my birth so you will forgive me I hope if I do not align myself just yet.

Thioridh an-drasta and God love you

As Chief of Staff I would request that for the next senate session we have access to the current landscape of the senate, our laws both constitutional and social.

Also out current tax rates and any subsidation/tariffs for local industry, I sincerely hope that our conservative friends and refusing to the people what they provide to their rich backers and that being charity. If it is fine for the State to bankroll industry, then why we can not offer to protect those most at risk once again is an issue I must strongly bring to the Empress’ attention.

-Στήβεν Γκρέυ

“At the risk of sounding heretical, senator, the Church must be where there is need, and if the church does not free people from oppression or poverty, what purpose does it serve?”

~Ioannes Angelos

How dare you paint us conservatives with the reactionaries! The government must do more to protect the workers while promoting industry. I am not one of those old fools known as reactionaries but nor am I a red radical who achieve power through anarchy and bomb- throwing. As a Senator, I must ask the Chief of Staff why he is the Chief of Staff of the military when he is against the military?

-Andronikos Palaiologos

Have I ever praised the anarchists or the bomb-throwers? The anarchists may want what we desire eventually, a society free of capitalism and  its restrictions. We differ on methods. Most Communists advocate for revolution against the Bourgoise state, this is true. But Roman Communists see the truth of the matter: that a transition through socialism can be accomplished peacefully. The Imperial powers are known, the history of the Empire is full of examples of them. The state, should it be benevolent, should assume control until class struggles can be resolved.

I second this request, with the possible addition of some sort of census. The cultural landscape of the Empire is something I think needs to be discussed.

-Nicodemo Theodosio


Senators,

While it is not yet time to resume the address, it seems some comments are in order. My clerks have quickly prepared some charts displayed on the easel here at the front of the chamber.

First is a political summary of the Empire. While the Senate is wonderfully diverse—which immensely helps in Our governing the Empire—the administrators who would implement any changes are not so. If a simple majority of them supported any given reform then it could be implemented. But only 23% of them would support social reforms at this time, and only 36% of them would support political reforms.
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Second is the latest budget information. This tends to be highly variable, as the government buys various goods in order to build naval bases and factories, or temporarily supports factories in distress so that people retain their jobs, so it may not be the best reflection of the true state of the Empire’s finances.
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Third, the Minister of Security has reported the following mass movements within the Empire.
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A census will be conducted post-haste, but the result will not be available until the next State of the Empire Address.

Also, I would remind the Senators that the Church and Our government work quite closely. If We wished for the government to provide charity to the poor, it would need be done via the Church. To do otherwise would require great changes to the administrative structure of both the Church and the government, as they are deeply intertwined.

Finally, India sadly allied with Persia recently, and as we have treaties of old with two Great Powers—Poland-Lithuania and the United Tribes of America—they are unlikely to ally with us again.


Anarchism is the epitome of social disaster. You yourself have admitted that you do not want the Emperor, you support anarchism! People will shoot each other for sport, it will be a return to the feudal peasant- hunting days!

-Andronikos Palaiologos

We do not listen to the words of Marx, except we agree that this change is destined to happen. Already we are the second largest party should those fools in the liberal party understand that their time is done we will soon control the senate.

Anarchism maybe a sideline for some in the Empire, but not for those of the party. As for us being violent our supporters that are champing for change number in the millions, yet only a fraction have become militant. Look at the last vestiges of the reactionaries, only a few 10’s of thousands yet they are far more likely to take up arms!

Whilst we would look to full sufferage as it would truely put our party as the power in the Empire, the Empress is our monarch and we will defend her to the death. However we do fully support the minimum wage, injured workers cover and a limit on the number of hours a man or woman can work in a day.

As per my previous speech I note that our poorest still pay the majority of taxes, yet receive the least protection. This can not stand.

-Στήβεν Γκρέυ

This treasonous suffrage movement should be suppressed at all costs. To defile the Senate by transforming it into a vulgar democratic body would threaten the integrity of the Empire.

-Moustakas

The Ministry of Security will set to work suppressing all of these potential uprisings, especially the Communist one.  We have yet to determine a link with the Cult, but I am sure there is one.  How else would they have gotten this far?

~Alexios Doukas

I would point out that a large number of our soldiers are already part of radical organizations. This is likely to only grow over time. Indeed this appraisal of radicals in the empire shows the growth of the Communist movement. Those who are potentially rebels are those who are losing faith in the empire’s ability to take care of them.

As for the economic situation, if the Empress indeed wishes to lower the amount of Communist sympathizers, as many seem to, she should simply redistribute taxes to focus more on the middle and upper tiers of income. From what I’ve heard the capitalists do little useful and efficiently besides build railroads.

The goal of anarchism is the annihilation of class society, is it not? Anarchists, communists, and socialists (If they believe that socialism is a transitory state as written in most every text) all desire the end of class warfare, and the seizing of political power by the proletariat.

I support the Empress strongly, her intentions have proven benevolent, unlike many here. Her as a symbol, and as a powerful part of the government, is necessary in my opinion.

Indeed Empress, I call attention to what has always been the first demand I have made: A heavy progressive or graduated income tax. The mere fact of reality is that the less money you have, the larger percentage of it is needed to survive. The fact that the upper income brackets pay less percentage-wise than the lower is a travesty.

~Nicodemo Theodosio

I must make it known that in my opinion a graduated income tax is just not fair.
Why should the poor man pay in nothing the well to do pay say 10% and the rich pay 50%. There is absolutely no justice in this. An unlikely example I know but not impossible.
However I do believe that those not so well off within our empire do deserve some kind of tax reduction. as it must be accepted that a certain basic income is required to survive.

-Columba Comminus


Senators,

Welcome back from the intermission. Many of you have brought forward various concerns, and they will be addressed at the end of the address.

When the Private Bank Money Bill Printing laws had been drafted, We allowed the Admiralty to design naval bases that could specialize in different forms of ships. Though it seemed it might be some time before any could be built, as the world was facing a great shortage of cement.
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In July of 1875, there was a much larger revolt. You no doubt remember when the Scholai Palantinae were forced to retreat and Constantinople was put to siege.
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And how XXIV. Legio assisted the Scholai Palatinae in repulsing the rebels before they came close to breaching the walls. And how the rest of the rebels were easily dispersed. Before the end of the year the last rebels had been removed.

When the naval bases were designed, We tasked a group with finding cheaper ways of making steel.
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This research also gave the Empire improved methods of extracting coal.
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While the Empire’s dye supply problems seemed to have been eased, an errant experiment with coal tar had produced a new artificial dye. The Chemistry Department at the University of Constantinople promised a new age of innovation if they were supported in their quest to understand organic chemistry. So We gave them support in this endeavor.
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In April of 1877, Germany declared war on Bavaria. We had added Germany to Our sphere of influence, and were surprised when they did not immediately ask for Our aid. We quickly signed an alliance. But when no request to join their war came, We began fabricating a reason for war with Bavaria, pointing out to the Empire’s newspapers the danger their fortifications proved, how those were a sure sign of their aggressive intentions.
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When the initial research into organic chemistry was complete (again improving the Legion’s ability to avoid disease and other attrition), We ordered the Legions to begin training junior officers in how to make decisions for themselves, which would allow them to better take advantage of changes in the battles they faced.
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The war with Bavaria lasted until April of 1878, when they agreed to dismantle their fortifications in Bayern. Germany was now positioned to crush Bavaria.
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The improved military tactics only came after the war, but that meant that the next war would be even better fought.
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We insisted the Admiralty make the same training improvements as the Legions had just done.
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We spent the following months as We had most of the time in the previous years: heavily investing in the economy to try to provide jobs for everyone, and upgrading the Empire’s naval bases. Meanwhile, the new naval training was beginning to bear fruit.
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It was in August of 1879 that England saw the beginning of a new political force: Communists. Their reach was rapidly felt everywhere.
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And meanwhile, Germany’s war with Bavaria stagnated, and it looked as though Bavaria might soon push back against them.


Blasted Jacobins and Bavarians! We are facing a determined threat to Roman culture that could destroy us if we are not vigilant.

-Moustakas

If the honorable senators remember the examinations of rebel factions in the Empire that we underwent years ago, they pointed to this rebellion being a risk. They might also remember that the numbers of those supporting communists was 10 times larger. If that force continues to build, without some release of tension, violence is sure.

~Nicodemo Theodosio

Never forget the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest! Those savages, who were the predecessors of the Bavarians, massacred three legions there. We must seek to crush the Bavarians to atone for their crimes in that time. I am glad of our technological progress, I feel that Germany could soon be further included in the Roman Empire.

Senator Andronikos Palaiologos

This form of communism in England sounds quite repugnant.  A society without a government?  Hows does such a country even operate without falling into anarchy?  At least Roman communists have the sense to know that the Empress provides sound government and stability for the Empire.

Those damn Jacobins threatened Constantinople and put the Empress in danger.  I hope the streets of Constantinople ran red with their blood for their insolence!

– Senator Leonardo Favero

“A society without government?  Hah!  So the true motives of I Koinotita have been revealed, eh?  Then there were those rebels, even besieging the walls of the Queen of Cities, and you want to give that rabble the vote?!

“Congratulations to the Empire’s armies on their work against the Nemitzoi.  Their final, feeble effort should be crushed and they should be at last absorbed into the Empire and never dare to stand apart from Rome again!”

~ Ioannes Angelos


Senators,

Given the contentiousness of the question, We shall not create a progressive tax system at this time. However, We will strive to at least create a flat tax instead of the current highly regressive tax system.

We will also continue to expand the industry so that all citizens of the Empire might find employment to provide for themselves and their families.

We are also appointing all Senators as governors of various regions for the next five year period, as such:
(North) Africa – Alexios Damaskinos
Armenia – Julian Leon
Asia – Constantine Panaretos
Britannia – Andronikos Palaiologos
Dalmatia – Mikael Moustakas
Egypt – Marcos Alexandros
Macedonia – Ioannes Angelos
Naples – Nestorius Septiadis
Raetia – Columba Comminus
Sicily – Alexander Smithereens
Syria – Alexios Doukas

Brittany – Στήβεν Γκρέυ
Italy – Leonardo Favero
Spain – Nicodemo Theodosio
Once these five years have passed, We will reevaluate who should be governors where.

The following ministries have been filled:
Foreign minister – Senator Moustakas
Minister of security – Senator Doukas
Minister of intelligence – Senator Favero

But there are several more that need filling:
Armament minister
Chief of Staff
Chief of the Army
Chief of the Navy

We are also creating a General Staff, headed by Prince Alvértos. All Senators are invited to participate in the military planning.

Finally, We will order for a census to be undertaken, and the results shared with the Senate as soon as it is complete.

Senators, thank you for your time.


Thank you, Your Higness. The taxes shall flow from Dalmatia as long as I am governor!

-Mikael Moustakas

I thank the Empress greatly for this appointment, I do hope that the governance of other regions can be transferred to their cultural kin reasonably soon however. I shall govern Hispania to the absolute best of my ability; I shall also seek to end the worrying faction that is seeking a return of a Castilian kingdom that we saw in the rebel census.

I would offer my services as Chief of Staff, if the Empress sees it fit. I would see the worrying trend of corruption amongst government officials ended. I offer myself because I am as of yet, uncorrupted by the various factions that seek to buy influence rather than earn it. Unlike most senators, who live lives of leisure in this wonderful city, I live in a modest townhome I share with my wife and son, and all income that is not needed to take care of them or myself I donate to the soup kitchens here in the City of Cities.

You have my solemn vow, that if I am granted the position, I will use it to forward your will. Regardless of my political beliefs, the corruption and excess shown by many bureaucrats needs to end, and I would seek to end it. I may prefer the working bureaucrat to the aristocrat who inherits their position, but corruption among either is unacceptable. The citizens of this Empire should work for the glory of the Empire and all its people, rather than their own personal greed.

As for military matters, while I served in the legion in my youth, it was not out of choice, rather it was to provide for my family. I am your loyal sword should you need it, and will advise to the best of my ability, but I do not know about the wisdom of any territorial expansion given the internal problems we face. Nevertheless, I am committed to serve you, and will provide any council you wish of me.

~Nicodemo Theodosio

I thank you, My Empress, for allowing me to continue to serve as Governor of Italy as my father did before me.  I will ensure that the region remains quiet and prosperous.

– Senator Leonardo Favero

Thank You Empress for such glorious title that is Governor. You won’t be disappointed, I’ll make sure of that.

– Senator Alexios Damaskinos

“You have my great thanks, Megali Basilissa.  The Angeloi will not disappoint the Crown.”

To Theodosio, he says, “perhaps you should retire to a monastery and sing the praises of God each day.  It might suit your delicate temperament better than this place of worry and stress.”

~ Ioannes Angelos

I assure the Senator that I am quite happy with my work here, I may not have accomplished everything I set out to do yet, but I am causing change.

I would remind the Senator of a certain quote of our Lord: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

~Nicodemo Theodosio

“We are all the product of wealth, senator, and some of us of good breeding.  Let’s not pretend that you are truly representative of the working classes you profess to love so much.”

Thank you, Your Imperial Highness, for appointing me as Governor of Syria.  I have served there in my youth, and I shall maintain the peace there efficiently.

~Senator Alexios Doukas, Doux of Greece and Governor of Syria

to her excellency
I would like to become the chief of the navy as well as continue to be  governor of Sicily my experience as governor of this province has given me the knowledge necessary to lead our navy to victory and rule the sea.

Alexander Smithereens

I will make sure to honor my role as Governor of Naples fiercely. I thank you, my Empress.

-Nestorius Septiadis

Ioannes, Thedosio  give it a rest you to you are beginning to make my brain hurt the way you to go at each other. There are times when I find myself wondering “Is it those two eminent senators at it again? Or have the Blues and Greens started yet another civil war? have you ever asked yourselves why half of us bring earmuffs to the senate even in July? Well now you know.

Augusta Magna.
I accept my appointment as the Governor of the province of Reatia it is my sincerest hope that I shall serve your Imperial Majesty and the Empire well.
Before I leave I would like to inquire on behalf of my fellow Governors precisely what territories we will be expected to govern as areas within our respective provinces. So as to avoid any confusion or unfortunate misunderstanding in the coming years.

-Columba Comminus

Thank you, Empress! Your benevolence and generosity has been shown with this gracious assignment. I will immediately take up my assignment as governor of Britannia!

-Andronikos Palaiologos

((Private – In Alexios Doukas’s mind))
While the senators were busy discussing what would be the better names for the provincial governors, Alexios thought back to those dark days, when the Jacobin menace stormed into the city, thirty-six thousand of them.  Angry peasants, unpaid soldiers, the homeless and the unemployed, all angry at the state and Church for abandoning them, outraged that they had to suffer while to them the Patriarch and Empress “swam in lakes of gold,”  as one Jacobin newspaper claimed before it was shut down by the government.
Luckily Alexios was on vacation in Thessaloniki when the rebels laid siege to the Queen of Cities, but his son Konstantinos wasn’t so lucky.  The Athenian Lancers were on the front lines when the rebellion began, and the three thousand lancers were swarmed by over ten thousand angry peasants, led by a Slavic-looking man with an eyepatch, who shouted that the “tyranny of the madwoman shall be crushed” to his followers.
By the time the Scholai Palatinae was forced to retreat, only a handful of Lancers had managed to fight their way out of the mob.  The rest were torn to pieces, their bodies desecrated and some even offered up to the Black God by zealous converts to Ignatieff’s paganism.
Konstantinos barely made it out alive, his right leg severely injured, leaving him with a permanent limp, and his right hand (his gun hand) barely able to hold things and write, much less swing a sword or shoot a pistol.  There was a burn scar over his right eye and a nasty scar running down his back from where a Jacobin used a scythe to torture him.
His son was alive, but scarred.  Alexios sensed that something was wrong with his thinking after the rebellion, even ten years later.  Konstantinos didn’t want to help out with his younger brother Michael’s University projects, despite promising to before the rebellion.  Where he showed respect for the cultures of others he now showed hatred of all things Slavic and Jacobin.  He refused to interact with anyone of the “lower classes,” the “plebeians,” not even his own servants.
Konstantinos wanted to be treated like royalty, like he was above the citizens of Rome, like he was the Emperor.  But that would be treason, wouldn’t it? Alexios thought.
For the last few years, he and his men had been keeping an eye on Konstantinos and had included amendments to his will leaving his property and titles and Senatorship to Michael should Konstantinos snap, which was inevitable.
What worried Alexios was when that would occur.

The Empire Strikes Back: Interlude—Heart of Doukas

“MINISTER OF SECURITY MISSING!”
Alexios read the newspaper over and over again and then glanced over at the Imperial Order on his table. The news stated that his father, the senator who had saved the empress and the Empire from the wrath of a pagan cult, had been abducted by unknown persons. He and the other senators knew better than the partial truth they were forced to tell the common people. His father was captured by the Cult itself.
The Imperial Order, the letter accompanied by a seal with the double-headed eagle insignia of the Imperial House Doukas, ordered him to find his father and hunt down those responsible “by any means necessary.”
This was going to be a long journey. The Cult was a formidable opponent to take on, having eluded the forces of the Empire for many years ever since their initial attack on the Senate and palace on 9 May 1854. They were good at bending the minds of the people to their will without the people themselves knowing it. Already people were asking about the explosions of several ships in the harbor that had killed several innocents and thirty soldiers. It wouldn’t be long before the protests began in the forums.
His wife Anna appeared in the hallway of their house, looking quite worried. “Is it true?” she asked. “Is the Empress really sending you off around the world to find your father?”
“Yes, my dear,” he said, “It is of grave importance.”
“You just came back from that slaughterhouse in Varna!” she responded. “I feared for your life when the rebels sacked the garrison and beheaded everybody inside!”
“I’ll be fine, my dear,” replied Alexios, “I always am.”
Anna didn’t even cry. “I hope you will come back.”
Alexios arrived at the docks of the Ukrainian frigate Yehven, where the other members of the Athenian Lancers had already gathered on the decks of the old warship. Next to it was the commerce raider Konstantinos, which had just arrived from the Canaries.
After greeting his men, he gave an order to exchange all of their uniforms with merchant clothes, as the Cult would be expecting an Imperial army to be marching after them. All rifles were to be hidden, and each man would carry pistols in their inconspicuous clothes.
The ships left the harbor, sailing out of Constantinople into the Mediterranean Sea. Alexios knew the Cult wouldn’t be hiding in Russian territory; despite the fact that the Ruthenians and the Imperials were bitter enemies, both had agreed to work together on the matter of the Cult, as they were both Eastern Orthodox nations.
Before his father had left, he had posited that there was a Cult stronghold somewhere in UTA or Kanata territory which was causing the constant wars with Mexihco. But with the destruction of the last Aztec enclave in Cherokee territory, Great Chief Lincoln and his generals had sent a letter to the Ministries of Security and Intelligence stating that there was a stronghold in one of the enclaves and that it had been destroyed by UTA forces. The Aztec emperor and the chief of Kanata also affirmed that any pockets of Cult control had also been destroyed.
So if not Russia or America, then where?
There were three options: England, Asia, or Africa.
The English had control of the rainforest known as the Amazon, where nobody who had gone in had come out. However, they made sure very well that nobody went in at all.
Asia was full of lawless states, ideal for cultists to escape from central governments. But after the recent diplomatic agreements with the Celestial Empire, the Empire could project its power deep into Asia. Poland-Lithuania owned parts of Southeast Asia, and Russia owned Siberia. A Cult stronghold had been found and destroyed in the Philippines, so they wouldn’t likely relocate to the mainland.
That left only Africa–the “Heart of Darkness,” as a Polish writer in London had wrote in a recent book. It was the last place on earth that was truly wild and savage, untouched by both the West and East. While the Empire had a few military and corporate bases along the coast, those were merely outposts in a hostile environment, and nobody, not even the major African kingdoms like Mali, Ethiopia, or Kongo knew what lay in the interior of Africa.
Alexios gave the order to sail for the Kongo River region, where the rainforests were the least well known to the Empire of all of the African forests. The Cult knew that the Empire would have a hard time sending an army into the heart of Africa.
Alexios knew that. He had selected from among the Lancers those who were best suited for jungle combat. Some had fought in the Yucatan, while others had lived in Guyana. Still others had participated in Senator Favero’s invasion of the Philippines and the destruction of the Cult stronghold there, and the rest had been part of military operations in Indonesia. They were all used to fighting proficiently in rough terrain, hot and humid climates, and against unconventional enemies.
He hoped that they would be enough to rescue his father.

Alexios awoke when the Yehven’s horn blared. The two ships were approaching the port city of Brazzaville, where the Empire had an outpost ready to assist them. A lead picked up by a contact in Morocco indicated potential Cult influence in the Kongo region.
He put on his disguise and was about to stand up when there was an explosion. There was shouting in the many languages of Europe and Africa. Footsteps were heard as sailors rushed across the deck.
The Konstantinos had apparently fired upon the Yehven, which was firing back. All attempts to signal the commerce raider were in vain when somebody began raising the heads of its crew on poles out the windows.
The guns fired again, tearing holes in the wooden hull of the Ukrainian frigate. The Ukrainians tried shooting back, but the frigate was old and weak, and its guns could not pierce the commerce raider’s hull.
Alexios felt the ship list heavily to port as the bombardment from the Cult-occupied Konstantinos continued. Then there was a great jolt as the commerce raider rammed into the side of the frigate.
Peering above deck, Alexios and his men watched as cultists streamed onto the Yehven’s deck, using scythes and barbed blades to mercilessly behead and dismember any sailors who stepped in their way.
“Sir, what do we do?” Ioannes asked.
“We can’t fight them,” said Alexios, “This is their territory. We jump the ship and head to shore. Blow up the frigate.”
“Yes, sir,” said Loukas, dropping some explosives in the gunpowder reserves and boiler room.
The Lancers took everything they needed and escaped the ship by jumping out some holes in the starboard side. A well placed bomb in the boiler room then detonated, killing the cultists and destroying both of the ships.
Alexios and his men washed up on the beach near Brazzaville. Nobody in the city had seen them yet, which was good, as he assumed that the Cult has also infiltrated the city. They had to get to the river without anyone noticing and then follow it upstream.
Luckily, he realized that a branch of the river was just nearby, along with a steamboat conveniently moored there…


Far up the Congo River, in terra incognita

The Athenian Lancers watched as the Kongo natives advanced on them from all directions, armed with crude spears and wearing little more than loincloths.
Alexios ordered his tired and exhausted men to retreat to the steamboat moored at the riverside, their (empty) pistols raised at the enemy. Ioannes and Loukas, both of whom had a rudimentary knowledge of native languages, desperately shouted at the natives to stop.
How did they fall into this trap? he wondered. Well, they made the journey upriver, following native accounts of a white “Lord Dooku” deep in the jungle somewhere. Eventually they found what appeared to be an old hut which was built on top of an elaborate prison-like structure. There were signs of a struggle but no bodies at all. Farther up the river they found the bodies of numerous Cultists, killed by gunshots or stab wounds. And then they came to a native village where Alexios was sure his father was staying. He was stupid enough to fall into the trap the native savages had sprung. Clever men, they were, despite their savagery, he thought.
There was a shout of a white man from the village, and the natives halted their advances. There was a Greek accent to that voice, Alexios realized.
Natives emerged from one of the buildings, carrying an old and frail white man on a stretcher towards them. It was his father, almost unrecognizable now. Somehow he had managed to escape the Cult and come here to the natives.
“Father!” he shouted.
Nikephoros didn’t respond. He was too weak to speak, having used up his energy on the shout. He was also very old now.
The natives set down the stretcher in front of the Lancers and pointed at the steamboat, intending them to leave quickly. Shouting some orders to his men, they carried Alexios’s father back to the ship, where Ioannes floored the throttle in reverse.
The brown current ran swiftly out of the heart of darkness, bearing them down towards the sea with twice the speed of their upward progress; and Nikephoros’s life was running swiftly, too, ebbing, ebbing out of his heart into the sea of inexorable time. Alexios was, so to speak, numbered with the dead. It wqs strange how he accepted this unforeseen partnership, that choice of nightmares forced upon him in the tenebrous land invaded by those mean and greedy phantoms.
Nikephoros discoursed. A voice! a voice! Alexios thought. It rang deep to the very last. It survived his strength to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the barren darkness of his heart. Oh, he struggled! he struggled! The wastes of his weary brain were haunted by shadowy images now—images of wealth and fame, the destruction of the Cult, revolving obsequiously round his unextinguishable gift of noble and lofty expression. My son, my station, my career, my ideas—those were the subjects for the occasional utterances of elevated sentiments. The shade of the original Nikephoros, the respected and noble senator, frequented the bedside of the hollow sham, whose fate it was to be buried presently in the mould of primeval earth. But both the diabolic love and the unearthly hate of the mysteries it had penetrated fought for the possession of that soul satiated with primitive emotions, avid of lying fame, of sham distinction, of all the appearances of success and power, of his drive to destroy the Cult with his dying breath. And he had, somewhat; there was a Cult stronghold here in the Kongo, and Nikephoros had managed to escape before he could be sacrificed. He then returned at the head of a native army and destroyed the stronghold, forcing the Cult to flee even farther inland, where nobody, not even the natives of the Kongo, ever went. The interior was even more unknown to the Empire than the Kongo River region.
The days passed. They chugged down the river, past ruined settlements built by both natives and the Empire, past trading posts built by the Kongolese government, and other stuff. And Nikephoros’s condition got worse and worse.
He was an impenetrable darkness. Alexios looked at him as one peers down at a man who is lying at the bottom of a precipice where the sun never shines. But Alexios had not much time to give him, because he was helping the engine–driver Lancer to take to pieces the leaky cylinders, to straighten a bent connecting–rod, and in other such matters, for the steamboat had broken down.
One evening, Alexios was startled to hear him say a little tremulously, “I am lying here in the dark waiting for death.” The light was within a foot of his eyes.

The old and broken senator cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision—he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath:

“The horror! The horror!”

Alexios blew the candles out and left the cabin so that his father could had some peace. The pilgrims were dining in the mess–room, and he took his place opposite Loukas, who lifted his eyes to give Alexios a questioning glance, which he successfully ignored. Loukas leaned back, serene, with that peculiar smile of his sealing the unexpressed depths of his meanness. A continuous shower of small flies streamed upon the lamp, upon the cloth, upon the Lancers’ hands and faces. Suddenly Loukas’s native servant boy put his insolent black head in the doorway, and said in a tone of scathing contempt:

“Mistah Dooku—he dead.”

All of the Lancers rushed out to see. There was a lamp in there—light—and outside it was so beastly, beastly dark. The voice was gone. What else had been there?

Nikephoros Doukas, the Bringer of Victory, the Duke, Doux of Thema Greece, Imperial Senator, was dead.

The Empire Strikes Back 92 – The State of the Empire 1860 – 1869

Senators, your presence is requested for a State of the Empire Address at Blachernae Palace on the First of September, 1869.

The following newspapers are considered significant by the archivists.





















And the Senate’s world map is being updated.


I cannot wait to visit the excavated cities of Pompeii and Herculaneam. It will truly be a wonder to see how our forefathers lived.

The rise of this “socialism” greatly concerns me. What else could we expect from those American heathens? I am glad to see that Chief Lincoln survived an assassination attempt, however.

These so-called “dinosaurs” intrigue me, particularly the Archaeopteryx.

-Senator Moustakas

Ah, Pompeii! My daughter has spent much of her adult life excavating tombs in Egypt with her husband. I’m sure she and her husband will be delighted to excavate a city of the First Empire.
I’ve met High Chief Lincoln one time. He always had a reputation for being a just and fair man.
Archaeopteryx and Compsognathus…I’ll let my brother know about it. He’s always fascinated in these “dinosaurs.”
So we will finally get that education reform that the Foederatoi has been seeking. The Empire’s youth will flourish!
As for “socialism,” while I do agree with some of their values, I fear that some may take it to the extreme in the long term, capable of posing a threat to the Empire and other monarchies.
I am genuinely worried about the rebellions and revolutions taking place both within and without of our borders. Your Imperial Highness, I am in the process of writing a report detailing rebel activities and any possible sightings of the Cult. Would you mind privately showing me the relevant military reports?

~Senator Doukas, Minister of Security, Doux of Thema Graecia, Head of the Chi Files

It is indeed a majestic creature, from what I have heard, and would look excellent represented on a flag. This Meyer family must be incredibly proud of their discovery.

I have seen the most outrageous sight when travelling through the capital yesterday. There were women riding these strange contraptions called bicycles with their ankles exposed for all to see. Their ankles! The lustful looks on some of the younger men who witnessed this sight were quite disturbing. These women must learn some modesty.

A canal through the Suez? Who would have imagines such a feat of engineering even decades ago. We truly live in enlightened times.

This socialism sounds dangerous. Granting too much power to the common people is just asking for trouble.

– Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero

Perhaps we can use these “bicycles” in the legions of the Empire? Think of it…a portable short-range transportation vehicle, capable of carrying a man and his gear over moderate terrain.
Yes, we must watch these “socialists” carefully, as they have the potential to stir up a lot of trouble.

~Doukas

The socialists are a symptom of the minorities. We must grant the aristocrats more power to combat such revolutionary, plebian tendencies. Let the aristocrats vote in the upper house and we will crush the lower classes. Look at the world, embroiled in war. We must puppet those nations to ensure worldwide peace! Let the Empire become strong!

– Senator Andronikos Palaiologos , Duke of Nicaea

It is quite fortunate that fire brigades have been established in case another catastrophe strikes the capital.

-Senator Moustakas

Senator Palaiologos, sir,
While I do agree with your statement about the socialists, I am not sure how that is related to puppeting the entirety of the world. How would we even accomplish that? I’m sure that the Empire, as the just and honest broker that it surely is, can resolve other nations’ disputes through peaceful diplomacy.

Yes, we won’t have to call in the army every time in that case!

~Doukas

Nikephoros stands up. His servants pass out files to the other senators.

To those of you just joining us, I shall give a brief introduction of what I am about to discuss. Surely you know of the terrorist attack on the Senate on May 9, 1854, in which the Empress and the Ecumenical Patriarch were almost killed. That attack was carried out by a radical savage Russian pagan cult, whose aim is to tear the Empire apart from the inside while also provoking a war with the other Great Power, thereby slaughtering and sacrificing thousands or even millions to their Dark Gods. As the newly appointed Minister of Security, it has been my goal to track down and ultimately defeat this cult, with this file being the latest on the Cult’s activities.

There were small rebellions taking place across the Empire, recently. Several thousand peasants, disgruntled with their state of living, were provoked by a certain Slavic-looking individual wearing an eye-patch into rising up against the Empire. Of course, they were crushed, but the man who orchestrated the whole rebellion managed to escape yet again. Perhaps he is somehow linked to the reactionary revolutions shaking the rest of the world?

In the past, my friend Senator Favero, Minister of Intelligence, found a Cult stronghold in the Philippines which was quickly destroyed. I am pleased to say that I have conclusive evidence that there is a similar Cult stronghold somewhere in eastern Kanata, near the “Great Lakes,” and the members of this branch have been inciting hostilities between the United Cherokee Tribes of America and the Aztec Empire of Mexihco for the last few years. Think about it. Why are the Cherokee settling for random bits of land, creating isolated pockets of Mexihcans and causing incidents in which Imperial cartographers gouged their eyes out, instead of at once taking all of the land as demanded by the “Manifest Destiny” the great Chief Lincoln espoused? There has to be something going on there.

So a few months ago, I personally accompanied a Cherokee expedition into one of these isolated pockets of Mexihco. You can read the mission reports in the file I gave you. Yes, that is a [CLASSIFIED] label at the top, and I had to go through at least a dozen different offices to get all of the [REDACTED] labels removed just for me to read, not to mention release it to the entirety of the Senate. What we found in the isolated land was so gruesome that we ended up censoring most of the report, as evident by the [REDACTED] labels.

While the Cherokee do not generally care about their citizens’ faiths, the Cult was actively working in those isolated pockets to encourage human sacrifice to the Dark Gods, specifically those in pagan Aztec and Russian pantheons. When they discovered us…it was not pretty. They butchered one poor guy right in front of us before we managed to escape, his heart carved out and offered to the Dark God right in front of me. We estimated that probably thousands had already been sacrificed to the Dark Gods by the time we escaped back to Cherokee territory, and it’s still going on right now. Mexihco can’t do anything about it, as they’ve been cut off from the territories in question. I recommend that we take action quickly; destroy the Cult stronghold on the continent and end their suffering.

That is all. Any questions?

~Senator Doukas, Minister of Security

I agree, making the world bow to our direct rule is impractical. Instead, we should set up a tributary system just like in the First Golden Age of the Empire under Justinian. THey will pay homage and give us tribute, providing troops of course as auxiliaries, while we protect them from foreign influence. But if this fails, war is the only option. We will establish friendly nations on countries that border us as a buffer zone. What happens if the Slavic Barbarians invade again? We need to fight wars on foreign soil, not on our sacred land. War destroys our infrastructure.

-Andronikos Palaiologos

I can’t understand your concern about those “socialists”, Senators. Why are we even discussing them? They won’t receive any significant support in future and propably go defunct.

As predicted UTA-Mexico wars go on. We will see how our withdrawal will affect their factions.

It seems like Russians haven’t drawn any conclusions as they are still acting agressive, but as long as it concerns some useless Siberian Wastelands, we shouldn’t intervene.

Finally I have to congratulate our engineers on building Suez Canal, as it is the greatest accomplishment of our times.

– Senator Alexios Damaskinos

Senator, with all due respect have you read the files that I presented to you? I have found conclusive evidence of a Cult stronghold on the continent that has been causing these wars between the UTA and Mexihco. We must act quickly and destroy it before they escape!

~Doukas

I hope that what you are saying is true and we will soon see the end of those endless conflicts. I can’t even imagine the horrors of people living on UTA-Mexico border.

-Alexios Damaskinos

As the border between the UTA and Mexico has apparently been cleaned up, we can probably expect fewer wars between the two. However, The Cult stronghold is still there, and it is likely to start a war between Kanata and the UTA in the near future over the region known as Columbia.

~Doukas

Nikephoros took a stroll in the Senate lawn during the session break. The Empress was busy collecting her papers to read from after the break, and the other senators were busy getting some refreshments to drink.

He did not want to drink; he was getting old, and he felt drinking wasn’t good for the old.

There was a rustling in the bushes near the fountain which caught his attention immediately. He gripped his gun, which he kept on him at all times. Slowly, he stepped towards the bush.

When the rustling intensified, he pulled out his gun and loaded it, pointing it straight at the bush.

However, he was too late.

Several masked men jumped him from all sides, hitting him with a bludgeon and throwing him into a body-sack. His gun was knocked away before he could shoot at them; he resorted to shouting very loudly, attracting the attention of a few servants and senators but no guards yet. Everything went black just as there was another blow to the head.


The Empress appears before the Senate dressed in black.

Senators,

The light has gone out of my life. On the fourteenth of December 1861, Yevhen died, apparently of typhoid fever.


I am sorry. You are not here to witness my grief, but to hear of the state of the Empire. *ahem*

I think some happier family news might be best first. Princess Alíki married Louis IV, the Grand Duke of Thuringia in 1862, Prince Alvértos married Princess Alexandra of Scandinavia in 1863, and Princess Elena married Prince Christian of Denmark. There are a total of sixteen grandchildren so far, with fifteen surviving. Prince Sigismund died of meningitis after all the German doctors were taken away to focus on the war with Bavaria.

I am sorry. My attempt at happy news ended on a sad note. Nevertheless, here is the state of the Empire.

Shortly after the last State of the Empire Address, We promulgated press reforms allowing for private newspapers, provided they submitted to Imperial censorship. This mollified many who had joined reform movements.

While the navy was of utmost importance, the philosophy department was insistent that if they could clarify the nature of Empiricism and spread the idea, that all research and advancement would be much speedier. So We supported these efforts first.

Meanwhile, We took advantage of the increased ability to supply the legions to increase the amount of artillery for each legion. A proper legion now consists of two hussar cohorts, eight artillery cohorts, two engineer cohorts, and eight infantry cohorts.

Near the end of the year, the United Tribes of America formally created a Socialist political party, campaigning for ‘the rights of the people’. There were the smallest of hints of support for such a party in the Empire, and currently no Senators support the Socialists. However, Socialist sentiments are increasing, so We may need to appoint a Socialist Senator if only to keep abreast of what the Socialists may want.

In May of 1861, when empirical methods had begun to take hold throughout the Empire, We finally tasked the Admiralty with creating designs for iron-armored ships. The philosophy department was far more excited about the new schools of philosophy they either developed or contributed to, but the practical effects of a focus on the measurable was far more useful to Us.


We spent much of this time increasing the defenses on the Bavarian border. XXIII. Legio and XXVII. Legio were split into two groups each and spread across the border further. Two new legions were recruited to finish lining the border this way, XXVIII. Legio and XXIX. Legio. Now if there was again war with Bavaria, there was no part of the border they could cross without battle.

In the middle of 1862, Germany moved the annex Weimar. They were successful, but Bavaria had moved to defend Weimar, and so a much larger war raged. We decided to support Germany financially in the hopes of weakening Bavaria.

Shortly thereafter, Mexihco was completely defeated and gave up much territory to the UTA.

The Admiralty finished developing general principles for Iron Steamers, but still needed time to develop specific designs.

They also pointed out that we would need improved shipyards to build any new designs, and that these shipyards could be used to help Our navies control the sealanes by raiding opposing shipping in times of war. We agreed to help them develop the necessary doctrines and upgrades.

While developing specific plans for upgraded shipyards, they also developed specific ship designs. In the following years, they developed several refinements to these designs.

When this had been completed, We began a massive upgrade of the Empire’s shipyards. The amount of work needed suggested a new industrial improvement: interchangeable parts. If parts were constructed properly, they need not be customized for each use, vastly reducing the labor needed. Of course, We instructed engineers across the Empire to design such parts.

In July of 1863, Germany was finally forced to sign a disastrous peace treaty with Bavaria. Germany had conquered Weimar, but now was forced to release it with extra lands, and gave much land to Bavaria.

Hungary then chose this moment to go to war with Bavaria. This was not as crazy as it seemed: Skotland and Scandinavia came to their aid, while Bavaria only had the support of minor German states. Later in the year, Russia declared war on Iraq for the northeastern-most reaches of Asia.

And March of 1864 saw Bavaria victorious again, taking the Oppeln region from Hungary.

This continued Bavarian expansion worried Us, so when the interchangeable parts designs were advanced enough that individual inventors would continue the work, We asked the army to better learn how to hold a territory, so that Bavaria would not be able to cross the border. If We had known just how far the innovations with interchangeable parts would reach, We would have had them developed far sooner.


With the Empire’s improved technology, a powerful idea became possible: a canal through the Suez, connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. We ordered it be done, and it quickly paid for itself.

Russia, meanwhile, won their war. They not only took the territories they desired, but insisted on Iraq becoming part of their sphere of influence.

When the army had developed better means of controlling supply lines through point defenses, We ordered them to do as the navy had done and develop plans for specific scenarios.


In July of 1865, the United Tribes of America again asked Our assistance against Mexihco. Again We promised it, but saw no need to send any legions. And within months, Mexihco sensibly agreed to give Nebraska to the UTA. The UTA now held all of the lands they had dreamed of just years before.

When the army’s plans were complete, We commissioned designs for improved artillery, this time made of iron.


This was followed by fire control systems systems to help navy ships to fire properly in rolling seas.

At this time, Our upgraded naval docks started to be completed, so We began a program of building ironclad ships to replace the former Man’o’Wars. The East and West fleets would each consist of twenty ironclads. Smaller fleets, but far more powerful.

When the fire control systems were ready, We turned to economics, funding a chair at the University of Constantinople to better understand how our increasing industrialization was changing how the market functioned.


This was followed by learning how to better organize the Empire’s industrial workers. Factories were replacing the old guilds.


And when this was complete, We funded another chair in the growing ‘humanities’ department in the University of Constantinople. This one was for a natural philosopher who thought that functionalism could be expanded with ideas from biology to better explain society.

In early 1868, all naval bases that could be upgraded either were upgraded or were in the process of being upgraded. So We began a program of improving the defensive fortifications along the Empire’s borders.

Our factories were continuing to starve for dye, so in July of 1869, We declared war on Deccan to force them into Our economic sphere. XIX. Legio crossed from Ceylon to attack the south, while XI. Legio attacked the northeast. I. Legio attacked the northeast, and the Eastern Fleet blockaded Deccan’s fleet into port.

In other areas of importance, the innovations from past areas of research continue to pour in, though not all of them are helpful innovations.

Many people seem to think that the activities of the cult of Chernabog were a result of the expedition to Egypt.

Our relations with Ming are excellent.

And the Ethopians have sponsored a contest to find the source of the Nile. We outfitted an expedition, which failed. And so We have sent a second expedition. They have not yet returned.



Do the Senators have any questions or comments?


Alexios runs into the Senate hall, accompanied by Varangians who were more heavily armed than usual.
Senators! The Cult has struck again! My father is missing!
He had…my father had just been going for a walk during the break. I heard him shout suddenly and then go silent as if something had happened to him.
I looked over…and he was gone. His gun was lying on the ground, along with a small note.
He pulls out a piece of paper with Cyrillic script on it.
It reads as follows:

“To the incompetent and arrogant senators and your pitiful Empress with her harem of little Mexihcan boys:

Your dead god will not save you from the wrath of Chernobog. We warned you that there were twelve senators within your ranks serving the Black God. You did not heed our warnings. So, we gave you a better warning.
It was quite easy to steal your Minister of Security, as you call the Duke. That old buffoon never knew what hit him. By the time you read this, he will no longer be in your dying empire’s borders.
Don’t think about offering a monetary ransom; we have no use for your money. Don’t worry, we won’t sacrifice him to the Dark God…yet.
We offer the following terms in exchange for the life of your precious senator:

You will stop persecuting our cult and let us live in peace.
All investigations into our cult will cease immediately.
All members of the Favero and Doukas families (no, not the Imperial House, you traitors) will be stripped of their various titles and barred from public office.

The following will occur should you refuse to meet these terms or if you attempt to send in your army:

We shall trigger a war with Germany, Russia, Bavaria, Mexihco, Iraq, and Hedjaz…all of them at once.
The sleeper agents we have implanted in the Senate will kill all of you and your royal family.
The Ecumenical Patriarch will be assassinated.
We shall fund and lead separatist uprisings in all parts of your empire.
Of course, we shall sacrifice your Minister of Intelligence and Minister of Security to Chernobog.

Do we have a deal? Good.

Hail Chernobog,
Yosef Ignatieff”

What do we do, senators?

~Alexios Doukas

I shall mourn for the loss of poor Yevhen.

I hope that the war with Deccan went well. I heard so little of it from my home in Venice.

I can only hope that we have seen the last war between the UTA and Mexico for now. Their constant warring is quite exhausting.

We do not negotiate with cultists. I will have all the resources of the Ministry of Intelligence put towards finding the Duke. For the moment, I suggest that the Empress and Ecumenical Patriarch be protected at times by only the most loyal of guards. Their safety is paramount.

– Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero

I am sorry for your loss, Empress. The entire empire mourns.

Bavaria’s expansion is quite worrisome. Perhaps we should put those upstarts in their place once more.

The Suez Canal is truly the greatest wonder of our time. Now we can control the east-to-west trade, especially when we are victorious against Deccan.

-Senator Moustakas

Your loss is our, Senators’ and citizens’, loss aswell, Empress.

That note was written by some mad man. He’s acting like a child giving us threats that can’t be accomplished. You won’t really believe that they have the power to make coalition that involves all those countries. Germany and Bavaria attacking us at the same time? I can’t stop laughing. If one of them will be at war with us, the second one would attack our enemy as they are weaker, not us. Separatists in all parts of Empire? Considering that most of our citizens are Greeks I can’t even think about what could make them turn against the Empire. I’m sorry to say that, but I think that Senator Doukas was prepared for such situation and he is more than anyone willing to sacrafice his life for safety of the Empire, and our Empire won’t be safe if we will let those mad murderers live on. With a bit of luck we will be able to rescue Senator Doukas before they will do something terrible to him.

– Senator Alexios Damaskinos

As Alexios shook the hand of the senator who had just arrived, he noticed the hand of another senator dropping into his pocket, as if to draw something…a gun!

Get down!

Shots rang out throughout the senate room. He charged at the gunman before he could target the Empress, but the gunman turned his gun on himself and shot himself in the head.
Outside, they heard numerous explosions coming from downtown.

“Kyrie eleison!” says Kyriakos Angelos angrily. “I’m getting too old for this! Firearms in the Senate, even after the Rus assault on the Chrysotriklinos?? If it wasn’t such an affront to our dignities, I’d motion that all senators are searched before entering the palace!”

As the body of the gunman is taken away for analysis by the Ministry of Intelligence, Alexios speaks up.
Well, actually we did institute harsher security measures after the attack. Somehow this senator–I mean, cult sleeper agent–managed to sneak in an unauthorized firearm.

After what seemed far too long, members of the 1st Constantinople Guard arrived, escorting General Kanaris.

Your majesty.

As we expected, the cult revealed their hand in this session. This has allowed us to track the traitors within the Scholai Palatinae and remove them. Your person and the city should now be secure.

Unfortunately, the cult leaders have escaped with the Senator. We thought we had them trapped in the harbor, but their ship exploded before we could board it, as well as several other ships that had been booby-trapped. And then suddenly they were taunting us from a ship outside the Great Chain. It is unfathomable how they could have slipped the noose.

Centurion Doukas, I task you with rescuing your father. Your century shall go with you. We’ve arranged passage on some merchant ships, Ukraine is sending a Frigate to meet you and continue the chase, and one of the Light Fleet’s commerce raiders is sailing from the Canary Islands to carry you wherever you need. Orders have been telegraphed to every garrison in the Empire to help you to the end of their abilities. With the transatlantic cable, we were even able to send orders to Guayana, and to request assistance from the UTA and England. You can go anywhere in the world and receive assistance.

Your majesty, the world is growing ever smaller, and the cult will have fewer and fewer places to hide. They will not survive much longer.


Senators,

We apologize for this madness. It was necessary to allow the cult to try again in order to weed out the worst of the traitors. And they have done just as we expected.

Like several of you, We do not believe they can carry out their threats. They are a stinging gnat, not an existential threat. Nevertheless, their escape is surprising.

Senator Moustakas, We agree that Bavaria needs to be put in their place. And after their war with Germany distracted the doctors that could have saved Sigismund, We are their everlasting foe.

Normally, We would give you more time to respond, but We must discuss matters of security with the General, and We expect that many of you are shaken. So yet again, thank you for your time, Senators.

The Empire Strikes Back – Dramatis Personae

Non-Player Characters
Empress Veronica – absolute ruler of the Empire
Prince Yevhen of Ukraine – married to the Empress, died 14 December 1861
Princess Veronica – Born 21 November 1840, married to Frederick, Crown Prince of Germany
Eight children, Six still living​
Prince Alvértos – Born 9 Novemeber 1841, married to Princess Alexandra of Scandinavia
Six children, Five still living​
Princess Alíki (deceased) – Born 25 April 1843, married to Louis IV, the Grand Duke of Thuringia
Seven children, Five still living​
Prince Alfrédos – Born 6 August 1844, married to Grand Duchess Maria of Ukraine
Five children​
Princess Elena – Born 25 May 1846, married to Prince Christian of Denmark
Six children, Four still living​
Princess Louiza – Born 18 March 1848, married to John Tudor, Duke of Kent
Prince Artoúros – Born 1 May 1850, married to Princess Louise Margaret of Germany
Two children
Prince Léon (deceased) – Born 7 April 1853, married to Helene Friederike of Burgundy
Two children, two still living​
Princess Veatriki – Born 14 April 1857

Player Characters

Patrikioi Members

Kyriakos Angelos (Arakhor)

Introducing Kyriakos Angelos, a noble of Thessaloniki and proud member of Patrikioi, born 14.10.1804. He’s a good, old-fashioned, ‘benevolent imperialist’; Rhomaion knows best, naturally.

Michelangelo Favero (Michaelangelo)

Introducing Michelangelo Favero, born 9 August 1800 to a rich upper class family in Venezia. He is a member of the Patrikioi and is a strong advocate of expansive imperialism and a powerful military. Michelangelo is slightly at odds with the rest of his party because of his Italian roots, but he speaks Greek and identifies as one as well.
Granted the title of Duke and Governor in Italy for his heroics during the attack on Constantinople.
Kyriarchía Members

Constantine Panaretos (PrincepsAbsolut)

Announcing Constantine Panaretos. Born April 12 1815 a wealthy aristocrat. A member of theKyriarchía he detests the Patrikioi due to their divisive nature. Will do anything to see the empire take its rightful place at the forefront of the world. A military who turned to politics after his discharge due to an injury Constantine is utterly devoted to bringing glory to the Empire.

Andronikos Palaiologos (austrianemporer)

I, Andronikos Palaiologos, wish to join the Senate as a member of the Kyriarchía Party. Born on the 12th of January in the year of our lord, 1817, in Britannia. I wish for the people of the Empire to achieve unity through assimilation, conversion, and tolerance of those who wish to conserve their cultural heritage as part of the Roman Empire, the Phoenix of the East, led by Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Veronica. Those who oppose us must either pay homage or be forced to pay homage!

Foiderátoi Members

Alexios Damaskinos (oskar-kar)

Introducing Alexios Damaskinos, born 10.02.1816, belongs to middle class. He is young and determined in helping Foiderátoi achieve their goals. He is committed to his Empire which glory can be assured with strong military. He seeks to end aristocratic dominance in politics.

Julian Leon (Figus)

Introducing Julian Leon. Born on the 5th of February, 1811, Julian firmly believes in the strength of the empire. but at the same time feels that the aristocracy has too much of a grip. Despite this, he is a loyal man who is willing to serve the empire no matter what. He was born in Barcelona to a Greek mother and a Castilian father and is a member of the Foiderátoi,

Marcos Alexandros (Fish-Of-Fury)

Introducing Marcos Alexandros of the Foiderátoi party. Born to Greek parents in England, joined the Leigon at 15 and served for many years. After the service moved to the capital to try a hand a politics… whether that decision was a good one he has yet to decide.

Alexander Smithereens (strategymad3500)

introducing Alexander smithereens born 1851 to a middle class family in the Levant its a member of the moralist and is an imperialist who wants the empire to have colonies in Asia .Alexander fears for his homeland due to being close to foreign borders he wishes for the empire to expand its hold in the Levant.

Michael Doukas (zenpheonix)

Name: Michael Konstantios Doukas
Birth year: 1855
Home/Residence: Athens (official), Thessaloniki (personal)
Party Affiliation: Foederatoi (official), leaning towards socialism (though this is not expressed in public)
Bio ((a bit long)): Michael belongs to a new generation of Doukoi. Along with his cousins, he believes that it is the people that make the Empire great, and as Imperial citizens they must be afforded appropriate rights and respect. After all, what are the Imperial Legions without the common soldier? What is Imperial industry without the workers toiling to make the machines work? What is the Imperial economy without the merchants that prop it up and further the Empire’s economic interests around the world?
He inherited from his grandfather and his father the sympathy for the working class, yet publicly refuses to identify as a true socialist to not be lumped into the same category as the radical socialists and communists. Like his father, he served in the Athenian Lancers upon graduation from the Imperial War Academy in Constantinople. Luckily he had gone into politics, assuming temporary powers over Thema Graecia and the Governorship of Syria while his father was on the Senate, when the Lancers were sent on that ill-fated mission into Transylvania and were utterly destroyed by an unknown enemy.
Despite his military training, he had a talent for administration, managing to secure the trust and respect of the Athenians and other citizens he governed through his tolerant policies. He now wishes to bring his talents to the Senate to improve the Empire’s well-being.
However, there is one obstacle to all of this: his brother’s dark legacy. Though he wishes to put Konstantinos’s Rebellion behind him, it would not be easy.

Christianikoú Kómmatos Metarrýthmisi̱ (XKM) Members

Heraclius Komnenos (Username1453)

Name: Heraclius Komnenos
Birthdate: September 20th, 1841, in Constantinople
Party Affiliation: Christianikoú Kómmatos Metarrýthmisi̱ (XKM)- Liberal Party
Biography: Born of the son of an influential noble in his townhouse in Constantinople. The Komnenos family traces it’s lineage back over an 800 years in it’s genealogical records and it’s well known that the family traveled with Constantine when he founded Constantinople. Heraclius grew up much like many young nobles. He lived in the city with occasional trips to the countryside and ancestral lands. He was a restless young man, however, constantly traversing the city and engaging with it’s lower classes. He consorted with merchants, blacksmiths, cooks, and others. His experience constantly left him impressed by the intellect that the people showed and the diligence they showed in a cruel life. He entered Constantinople’s University and studied the humanities (One of the few Greeks in the department!) and philosophy. He was impressed by the political and ideological thoughts produced there and became adamant in his support for more liberal political policies. However, he maintained that the Roman Empire held a special place in human affairs. That the government should be reformed with universal suffrage for all people and a political body that reflected the population. However, he believed that the head of state and head of government should be the Doukas Imperial Family. They have restored the empire and have shown judgment and foresight, as well as the benefits of the stability, decisiveness, and swiftness of action that this gives to the government. After his graduation from University, Heraclius joined the military and remained in service progressing through the ranks till a year ago. In the last year, Heraclius has been influential in forming and directing political movements that are demanding a degree of democracy. When his father died, he left to him a position in the Senate which was greatly disputed amongst his siblings. (They didn’t want to be connected to a person they thought of as a radical.) He joined the Christianikoú Kómmatos Metarrýthmisi̱ (XKM) because of their similarities on core values, however, he supports a more interventionist foreign policy than is normal party line.
Basically, a Prussian Constitutionalist who advocates Free Trade, Interventionism, Pluralism, Full Citizenship, Anti-Military. On social reforms, he supports some safety regulations and high education. He may, if he feels the people strongly support it, support a low minimum wage or work hours.

Magnus Kvensson (Beaverman1)

Name: Magnus Kvensson
Home: Barcelona, Espana
Date of Birth: 22.5.1849
Political Party: XKM (for now)
Description: Magnus is currently not comfortable in any of the main parties of the senate, but supports the internal policies of the XKM

Koinonikistai Members

Nicodemo Theodosio (NiccoTesla)

Name: Nicodemo Theodosio
Birthdate: May 3rd, 1839, in Tarragona
Party Affiliation: I Koinotita
Biography: Born the son of a successful businessman in the Catalonian region of Terraconensis, Nicodemo became a successful writer and political theorist in the Spanish-speaking regions of Roman Spain. His theories of the Rise of Imperialism and the State’s role in a society began some of the first Socialist organizations in the Roman Empire. He has been threatened with censorship and imprisonment, but his popular support among the Spanish and advocacy for a continuation of the Roman State in a socialist vein has allayed some worries. He supports the theory of International Revolution and desires the Roman State to either reform towards economic democracy or be toppled by its dissatisfied inhabitants if it refuses. The Empress is a topic he has written multiple essays on, and praises her power as a symbol of International identity of the Roman Empire, and as not entirely the same as the aristocracy, which he does protest, though their powers have been severely limited. Many less developed nations have their own theories of communism in the Juche school, and an absolute hereditary leader is a part of that school of thought. Nicodemo has largely been given this seat as an experiment, and to see what on Earth these Socialists are going on about.

I Koinotita Members
Unaffiliated Characters

Nestorius Septiadis (Damian0358)

Name: Nestorius Septiadis
Birthday: 22nd of June, 1849
Party affiliation: Unaffiliated, leaning towards the Christianikoú Kómmatos Metarrýthmisi̱ and Koinonikistai
Biography: Born in Hadrianopolis, thanks to his father, at a young age, he not only received the chance to travel around the territories of Rome, but also the chance to travel around the rest of Europe and the Middle East. He received greater opportunities to study many things, such as history, linguistics, geography, cartography and more, as he met many non-Greeks as well as Greeks, both within the Empire and outside of it. As such, he is way more sympathetic to non-Greeks than his father. Wanting to follow his father in his footsteps, he decided to join the Senate as an unaffiliated senator, though he leans more to the left. Speaking at least 7 different languages and able to read multiple writing styles, he hopes to help if a translator is needed. Just don’t mention the unfortunate connection between his name and his date of birth.

Columba Comminus (righ na-Alba)

Ave!
Your Imperial Majesty, Your Holiness, Honourable and Eminent Senators.
My apologies for arriving late for this particular session so if you will allow a few minutes for an introduction I promise to keep it brief. (Though I have provided a longer version explaining my origins further for those of you who so wish to read it)
The origins of my family are shrouded in mystery thought to date back to the time when Rome was ruled by Kings me and my kin are said to be descended from slaves who won their freedom in the overthrow of the last king and establishment of the Republic.
Overtime we rose to a respected, but not prominent or powerful place in society. By the time of the Caesars we were a rich equestrian (and on occasion senatorial) family who migrated to Roman controlled Caledonia for what most said was at long last an aim to rise to higher positions within the Empire. But despite what you may have heard was an attempt to move to more suitable climes as the paler complexion and hair of my dynasty led to an unfortunate tendency to be almost permanently sunburnt or very heavily tanned even in the winter. Those of you who have been “Up North” as they say just South of Hadrian’s Wall will know the change suited us admirably (though sunshine is nice from time to time).
After our fellow countrymen withdrew; first from Caledonia then Britannia altogether you may have thought we would have found ourselves alone and surrounded by a hostile people.
Thankfully the natives were found to be much friendlier once we stopped lording it over them and got on rather well and soon found common ground in our love of the weather, alcohol and poking fun at those men sissy enough to wear trousers.
Over the intervening centuries my family endured a series of rises and falls from wealth and power to destitution and irrelevance. We may have been down at times but never out which is more than can be said for most families which lied in the border regions of Scotland (or indeed any region of anywhere).
Which brings us to the here and now. I myself was born some years ago in “the early days of Winter 1855” according to my Da nobody bothered to note the exact date as my mas’ 13 hours of labour had left her in a spectacularly foul mood and my Da’ hand nearly half chewed off (we are still to hear the end of it).
I lead quite an active youth studying and travelling both within and without the empire. I have studied not only various languages but also am fully qualified in matters of both Scots and Roman law (which are remarkably similar) as well as theology and history according to Glasgow, Constantine, the Gregorian and Paris Universities respectively (I must confess I am rather anti-social preferring a good night’s reading to a good night’s drinking any day) I also had the honour of enjoying a brief though largely ceremonial tenure as a junior officer in the Varangian Guard and as a navy cadet. (Celts and Anglo-Saxons have been part of the guard ever since the Vikings started raiding us. Though if you value your lives you will please ensure that the Angles are as far as possible from the Celts in the same room while sober and preferably city while not (which I regret to say the latter is the norm).
And so now after an absence of many centuries my family has asked me to come to the Queen of cities to reclaim the seat in the Senate that once belonged to us. Provided your majesty has no objections.
As for political leanings I have come primarily to represent the interests of my Family and those who live in the lands surrounding my birth so you will forgive me I hope if I do not align myself just yet.
Thioridh an-drasta and God love you

Αιδεν Γκρέυ (BBBD316)

* Into the senate chamber walks a broken and haggard man, leaning heavily on a much younger man in the latest military style*
My sincere apologies for my long hiatus my Empress. A number of years ago I was a Senator like you corpulent pigs in wolves clothing, I saw with disgust the so called elite of the Empire lead our Empress further and further from the true path of the Empire and the Glorious Republic that it sprouted from. The Cult that these men shy from is nothing less than a cabal of nobles of masonic heritage attempting to stop the people from seeing their Empress and expressing the woes of the Empire.
After I laid my allegations against certain high ranking members of the Senate I was visited by a man, a man who promised a way that truth could return to this chamber of lies that even know sees more Freemason plots against our Empress! This man was supposed to take me back to my home lands to meet with landed gentry and merchants that wanted to support a drastic change in the Empire.
Instead I was bound, gagged and beaten and left in some South East Asian hell hole, there I had to work with the common man to survive for years, it was not till I was able to reach my son working at his post as Governor that I was able to be freed. So many years wasted whilst those here continue to bleed the vitality of the Empire.
In short Empress, I Senator Στήβεν Γκρέυ now I am too old to continue and my son Αιδεν will now take my place. I would heartily recommend him for Chief of Staff.

Nestorius Septiadis (Damian0358)

Name: Nestorius Septiadis
Birthday: 22nd of June, 1849
Party affiliation: Unaffiliated, leaning towards the Christianikoú Kómmatos Metarrýthmisi̱ and Koinonikistai
Biography: Born in Hadrianopolis, thanks to his father, at a young age, he not only received the chance to travel around the territories of Rome, but also the chance to travel around the rest of Europe and the Middle East. He received greater opportunities to study many things, such as history, linguistics, geography, cartography and more, as he met many non-Greeks as well as Greeks, both within the Empire and outside of it. As such, he is way more sympathetic to non-Greeks than his father. Wanting to follow his father in his footsteps, he decided to join the Senate as an unaffiliated senator, though he leans more to the left. Speaking at least 7 different languages and able to read multiple writing styles, he hopes to help if a translator is needed. Just don’t mention the unfortunate connection between his name and his date of birth.

Governorships
(North) Africa – Alexios Damaskinos
Armenia – Julian Leon
Asia – Constantine Panaretos
Britannia – Andronikos Palaiologos
Egypt – Marcos Alexandros
Macedonia – Ioannes Angelos
Naples – Nestorius Septiadis
Raetia – Columba Comminus
Sicily – Alexander Smithereens
Syria – Alexios Doukas
Brittany – Αιδεν Γκρέυ
Italy – Leonardo Favero
Spain – Nicodemo Theodosio

Staff Positions
Minister of security – Senator Doukas
Minister of intelligence – Senator Favero
Chief of Staff – Senator Αιδεν Στήβεν

Former Player Characters

Potitus Caristanius Gallio (The Crows)

Introducing Potitus Caristanius Gallio, born on November 7th 1796 in Rome. His father was a wealthy Greek trader who made millions off of a multitude of trade posts in hubs across the Empire. He is a short man, never rising above 5’6 with brown hair and brown eyes. He is also not really a looker either with a face most accurately described as squished with his crooked smile being his most defining feature. What he lacked in looks he more than made up for in political prowess and quickly joined the Senate using his fathers money and his own rather Machiavellian ways. He arrived a boy in a mans game but soon found solace with a group of like minded men who called themselves the Patrikioi. While he recognized the Senate was powerless in many aspects, having the dubious distinction of being under an absolute monarchy; but he aimed to change that and strengthen the Senate. It was not however in line with the XKM factions Liberal attitudes but rather one some call outdated. He wanted a restoration of the Senate of the Republic, one that held the ultimate authority over what the Nation did and an abolishment of the so called Emperor’s of Rome.

Basileios Rellis (Attalus)

Introducing Basileios Rellis, born on the 7th of November 1801 in Konstantinopolis. The heir of one of the oldest aristocratic families of the Empire, Basileios sees as his duty to serve in the Senate and advise the Emperor. Having never wandered much outside his great estate of Thrace and the parties organised by the best families of the Imperium he can’t imagine another way of governing : the Emperor at the top, aristocrats beside him and the pleb far below. His recent lectures of Platon and Xenophon only confirmed himself in his belief of being a part of the “good”. As such he decided to join the Patrikioi.

Konstantinos Galatías (Sakura_F)

Introducing Konstantinos Galatías, born September 1, 1796, belongs to middle class. He is a Foideratoi, and is committed to a strong Empire. He has four sons, Andronikos, Ioannes, Andreas and Theodoros.

Ovulur Kishiev (CaterpillarKing)

I introduce Ovulur Kishiev, a direct descendant to several famous Roman generals and born into a wealthy family in Cayenne in Roman Colombia,March 8 1798. Soon after he turned 17, he began to see the world around him for what it really was. He saw the lack of political freedoms and was frankly appalled by it. For 4 years he worked hard to try and bring justice through many means, but failed at each of them. Through his trials though, he had become a master politician and rose up the ranks on the political ladder. Now he resides with the rest of the Senate, supporting the Foiderátoi party, fully supporting the liberalization of Rome, yet also supporting the expansion of its power through military strength.

Nikephoros Doukas (zenphoenix)

Introducing Nikephoros Doukas, born sometime in the 1790s in Athens to a well-to-do middle-class family with ties to the legions (actual birthdate is unknown due to a fire which destroyed most family records). He is a self-made man and has joined the Foideratoi Party to speak on behalf of the common people. He advocates for social reforms to increase the well-being of the people and has ideas for overhauling the Empire’s education system so that we can have the best and brightest men and women serving Your Highness. He is currently neutral on matters regarding the military but slightly learns toward pro-military. He believes that some of the future Great Powers of the world will be in the Far East, and as such the Empire ought to form strong bonds of friendship with nations in Asia. As to the nature of citizenship, he believes that all people living within the Empire can attain citizenship and keep their beliefs and practices, provided they acknowledge the Empress as their sovereign ruler and serve the Empire well.

Damianos Septiadis (Damian0358)

Introducing Damianos Septiadis, born on the 5th of July, 1810 in Dyrrhachion, at a young age, he received the chance to travel around the territories of Mainland Rome, meeting many non-Greeks aswell as Greeks who speak their own regional dialects. As such, he is more sympathetic to non-Greeks. He would spend the next 18 years of his life traveling and studying across the entire Empire. Eventually, he decides that the only way to properly serve the Empire is to go into politics, joining the Christianikoú Kómmatos Metarrýthmisi̱. He is also known to dabble in mapmaking.

Georgios Blenchard (GreatUberGeek)

Introducing Georgios Blenchard, a member of the Christianikoú Kómmatos Metarrýthmisi̱ party, born in 1798 in Paris, France. A Franco-Greek family led to his odd name; he is mainly concerned with the plight of non-Greeks, and wants to fight for their rights. This often puts him at loggerheads with his colleagues. Besides that, he is a normal social reform liberal, strongly against the military, for reform and decentralisation to some degree, and for interventionism.

Alexios Doukas (zenphoenix)

Name: Alexios Doukas
Birthday: sometime in 1821
Party affiliation: Foederatoi but leaning towards unaffiliated
Biography: Alexios is the eldest son of Imperial Senator Nikephoros Doukas. He joined the Imperial Army after finishing his studies and served from 1840 to 1865, when he took up politics after his father’s death. Notable engagements include operations in the Levant against Iraq and Hedjaz, the Battle of Constantinople during the Cult’s first and deadly attack on the Senate, numerous skirmishes with the Russians, and finally the rescue of his father from a Cult stronghold in the wilds of Africa. He shares many of his father’s core values and is determined to destroy the Cult for good. He is married and has a son named Konstantinos who is in the Imperial Army as well.

Mikael Moustakas (Andre Massena)

Introducing Mikael Moustakas, born on April 5, 1818 in Western Thrace. The founder of the house was a Norse commoner named Gunnar who served in the Varangian Guard and rose to become a captain in the year 1650. For his service, he was given a plot of land in Western Thrace and his descendants adopted the name Moustakas. House Moustakas has risen to become one of the most prominent houses in the Empire, though there origins prevent them from achieving a place in the imperial inner circle.

Mikael has followed the family legacy and served as an officer in the Imperial Legions. He is a veteran of both Russian wars but was severely wounded and crippled in the last war. Mikael is a moderate “conservative” and aligns with the Kyriarchía faction. He believes that Greeks are the proper heirs of Augustus and Alexander but, keeping his family’s origins in mind, believes that all ethnicities can consider themselves roman citizens and receive the benefits of imperial rule. Mikael thinks that the only legitimate states are the Empire and the ancient states of the Orient. Because of this, he believes that the whole world, excluding India, China, and Japan, should be brought under Roman rule. He also holds a strong hatred of Russian barbarians.

Στήβεν Γκρέυ (BBBD316)

My I present Στήβεν Γκρέυ, born in 1817 in Ireland and fled Scottish master to Brittany, joining the local chapter of Christianikoú Kómmatos Metarrýthmisi̱ Seeking to open the Empire to the many facets of its loyal citizens, not just the Greeks.

The Empire Strikes Back 91 – The State of the Empire 1854 – 1860

Senators, your presence is requested for a State of the Empire Address on the First of March, 1860.

The following newspapers are considered significant by the archivists.
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And the Senate’s world map is being updated.
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Michelangelo Favero happily hums a tune played by Piano Cat during his concert in Constantinople.

Senator Doukas reads about a “shadowy cabal of a Prussian, Pole, and Irish-man” sabotaging the news.

It has to be the Cult, infiltrating our news agencies!  Nobody would describe any other group as a “shadowy cabal.”  It would have hurt the Empires reputation if they succeeded.

He looks over his shoulder, a bit paranoid after the rebellion in Athens six years ago.  He is surrounded by at least three bodyguards, but he is still worried.

He returns to reading his book on Ancient Ruthenian pagan mythology, hoping to find anything that could help him find the Cult.

Perhaps the Gujarati ambassador’s death may not be due to a simple robbery…
The expansion of the Ruthenians in the Far East is quite unsettling.  Perhaps we should do something about it…

I would like to see this “Piano Cat” at court.

We should also take measures to prevent another fire from breaking out in the capital.

-Senator Moustakas

The growing importance of Deccan and possibility of creating united Indian country worries me, can we get an update on how much Deccan developed is and do we consider it civilized?

UTA continues to grow and I’m still insisting on our withdrawal from Americas.

I didn’t know that Livonia and Poland were so close. It’s good to see that disputed lands (Lithuania in that case) not always cause conflicts but they’re also uniting nations. As long as they are loyal to us it’s good news. Do we have any information on tensions between Poland-Lithuania and Ukraine?

Next wars between Germany, Bavaria and Hungary shouldn’t bother us. I don’t consider any of them as reliable ally or countries that have common interests with us. Let them bleed in their pity struggles.

– Senator Alexios Damaskinos

you should concentrate on conquering more of Arabia otherwise you might get cut off from your African provinces since you only control a narrow strip of land in the Levant.how exactly did Mexico end up with provinces surrounded by USA?

– An unknown voice

who agrees that  conquering more of Arabia  its a wise choice because otherwise you might get cut off from your African provinces since you only control a narrow strip of land in the Levant

– Senator Smithereens

Who let this man into the senate building? And who gave him reports that are assigned for senators? Guards! Show this man where are the exit doors!

I say we take Arabia for the Empire. The land is ripe with possibilities, and the black sludge found there is flammable, and may be of use in weaponry.

-Senator Ovulur Kishiev

Good to see new face around here. But I think I did not catch what party are you representing, Senator Alexander Smithereens?

I haven’t heard from you Senator Ovulur Kishiev for a long time. It’s good to see you are active in Empire’s matters again.

I think Senators that expansion in Arabia is worth considering, but are we sure we would be able to control those Islamic heathens? Besides, I’m not sure, but don’t we have a truce with Arabic nations due to our latest conquests in Asia? I’m sure that Empress Victoria would be able to confirm it or deny it.

– Senator Alexios Damaskinos

I say there is no need to conquer the savage deserts of Arabia

-Senator Moustakas

We must act expand our lands to secure these resources before the Arabs use it against us! I see much potential in the future from this, but only if we act now.

-Senator Ovulur Kishiev

I Alexander  smithereens represent the Foiderátoi party who wishes to expand our empire by seizing Arabia or perhaps seizing some land in the new world but we must expand

Senator Alexander  Smithereens

Well I do not.

-Senator Moustakas

Greetings, Senator Smithereens (weird name you got there, is it a Levantine name or something?).  Glad to see the Foederatoi’s recruitment campaigns are paying off.  Also, you are a senator of the Empire now, so please speak like we do or we may not be able to take you seriously.
Senators, I do not believe a major expedition into Arabia would be necessary.  Taking the holy sites of Mecca and Medina would severely damage our relations with the Muslim world and possibly with Muslims living within the Empire.  We could send a few expeditions there to check out the surroundings and possibly seize Syria and the territories near the Mediterranean, but I will not support any far-fetched excursion into a hostile desert.  There’s a reason they call it the Rub al-Khali–the Empty Quarter.  Maybe establish a few outposts to secure control over this “black sludge” you speak of before the Arabs can…

~Doukas

I hope you do not say that I am an intruder. I am the distinguished Ovulur Kishiev, mind you.
If not now, then at some point we must seriously consider this though. Even if it means integrating the region peacefully into the Empire, we must do something before another nations acts.

-Senator Kishiev

My apologies, I was not referring to you as the intruder, Senator Kishiev.  Surely you witnessed the man who burst into the Senate room and clamored for an invasion of Arabia shortly before the arrival of Senator Smithereens?
Yes, Arabia is a strategically important location.  However, rushing headlong into the desert right now, what with a Cult of pagans out to kill us all, would not be the best idea.  I am advocating for a gradual settlement of the region, setting up outposts and protectorates in the area before setting up a full administration.

~Doukas

I see, well let’s hope we can take advantage of it once we have the ability to.

-Senator Kishiev


Senators,

It seems that despite Our publishing of the facts of the day, much of the public has chosen to believe rumors about the attack on the Senate last session.
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We decided that it were best to develop regulations to create banks focused on lending to businesses, as well as create a few initial state-owned business banks.
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And the legions had already been recovering from the wars of the past few years. They continued to replenish. We also had the Scholai Palatinae expand to include a guard cohort.
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In June to 1854, Khiva was no longer considered among the Great Powers, England now rising to fill that void. At the same time, We began sending diplomatic envoys to the Ming. And soon thereafter, reactionaries actually rose in revolt in Varna, Athens, and La Rochelle. They were swiftly put down by the legions.

The wars and the rebellion had distracted us, and Poland was able to wrest Livonia from the Empire’s influence. They were able to convince them to join in union, forming the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
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The whole year, We assessed the employment of Our citizens, and began creation of several new factories throughout the Empire. By October, they were ready, the legions had been expanded, and all was at rest. So, though we were still at war with Mexico, We reduced funding to the army and navy and lowered taxes.
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In early 1855, Mexico tried to claim bankruptcy. But We could not stand for this, and so added the repayment of debts to Our list of demands for peace. By February, they sent an emissary agreeing to this demand, as well as all of the UTA’s demands for land, and so We agreed to this peace. As for the reasoning behind the UTA’s particular demands, we have no idea what they were thinking. Perhaps they intended to isolate Mexihcan lands? Perhaps they anticipated returning to war soon and seized the richest of the lands they ultimately intended to take?
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In addition to the UTA’s expansion, England had expanded their influence into the Amazon.
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And Hungary had expanded at Germany’s expense.
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In more peaceful uses of diplomacy, We made moves to solve our constant dye supply problems by courting Ceylon, and in 1855 We were able to add them to Our sphere of influence.

As well, Persia rose as a Great Power, replacing Germany.

And Our banking regulations were completed. We followed these up be asking Our best writers how to inspire both nationalism and imperialism in Our citizens, as needed.

When we sought to continue expanding the Empire’s influence in the eastern islands, well, Senator Favero, would you share your report?

Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero, Duke and Governor of Italy:

I am certain that many of you remember back to that fatal day that Constantinople was attacked? The group responsible, the so-called Cult of Chernobog or whatever they may call themselves, has been causing mayhem across the Empire ever since their first attack. We do not know why they do this other than that they wish to cause war, violence, and chaos throughout the Empire and the world. These pagans are clearly mad, but that does not mean they are not clever.

Recently, at the behest of the Empress, a group of diplomatic advisors and generals met to draft up plans for a potential war with Hedjaz over the northern Philippines. We had verified information that the Cult of Chernobog had set up a large base within Hedjaz’s land there to use to harass the Empire with impunity. This meeting was of the utmost secrecy, yet within a week of convening, the plans drafted at that meeting were leaked to the Hedjazi authorities in the Philippines. This is an embarrassment to the Empire. Even our best diplomats had not been briefed on these plans yet and were thus unable to stem the backlash we faced from this debacle. Our reputation has been tarnished because of this incident, yet the circumstances surrounding it are much more sinister.

The Empress requested that I look into the incident, since it was suspected that cultist activity was involved. I had my best men investigate any leads, and after much searching were able to root out a lair of this Cult of Chernobog in one of our holdings in Southeast Asia. It had long since been abandoned, most likely because they knew we were coming beforehand, but they left behind a couple documents linked to the original plans for the war with Hedjaz. It is clear that these pagans are still within our ranks, stealing our best kept secrets and ready to use them against us. Who knows when they’ll strike again?

It is unfortunate that the cultists were not caught red-handed, for it made the eventual declaration of war more damning. Hedjaz knew we were coming and any explanation we gave for war only sounded faulty to the world. The Cult of Chernobog has made us look like war-hungry fools, even as we move to destroy them. I can only hope that one day we root out this foul pagan group once and for all so that the Empire can continue on in peace.

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While this was happening, the Empire of Mexico experienced a revolution, thrusting a liberal party into power. The UTA took advantage of this to declare a war for Arizona. They asked us to join, and We agreed. However, as Mexico still had no army, We sent no legions.

By late December of 1856, the Empire was prepared again for war with Hedjaz. XI. Legio began the usual sea circuit, defeating an army in Tacloban.
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Meanwhile, I. Legio and XIX. Legio made the usual invasion of Hedjaz proper, with XIX. Legio diverting to defeat an army attacking Beersheba. Enthusiasm for war was high. But this was a short war, with Hedjaz agreeing to peace in March of 1857.
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With the end of this war, We learned better how to manipulate both Nationalist and Imperialist notions to demonstrate the superiority of the Empire and of its citizens.
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We further sought to better understand the past glory of the Empire by sending archaeological expeditions to Egypt.
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The philosophers of the University of Constantinople claimed that society had discoverable laws as in natural philosophy, so We funded created chairs for several new philosophers to seek these laws.
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Late in the year, we added Bastar to Our sphere of influence, securing even more dye for our factories.

The philosophers had not been able to find simple laws governing the way society operated.
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However, other philosophers proposed that society could be described as a series of overlapping functions. So chairs were funded for them.
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In the beginning of 1858, Russia declared war on Iraq, claiming more eastern Siberian land as theirs. They eventually won the war, also giving Persia some of Iraq’s land as prize for assistance in that theater.

And we faced another rebellion. This time Jacobins, who rose in Aurillac. We raised funding to the legions so they would be put down with minimal harm. This increased funding to the army proved well when Bavaria insulted one of Our ambassadors.
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Bavaria had recently won wars against Germany and Hungary and had expanded at their expense. We decided it was well to put them in their place. Bavaria’s armies flooded across the Alps, and XXVII. Legio sought to stem the tide. Meanwhile, XXIII. Legio swept in from the east, chasing a Bavarian army before finally confronting and completely defeating them in the province XXIII. Legio had first been occupying. And X. Legio stuck against Bavaria’s allies in Thuringia in the west. The fierceness of the Imperial attack stunned Bavaria, and they soon surrendered.
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When corruption in the state industrial departments was shown, We began investigating, eventually ending subsidies to the worst factories. As expected, other factories were able to provide jobs to the displaced workers.
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The philosophic investigations into the functions comprising society were completed, and while useful still did not provide a complete picture of society.
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However, the recent wars had hurt the Legions. Not from the fighting, but again from disease, harsh weather, and the like. So We again sought for natural philosophers to seek solutions to these problems by finding better materials for uniforms, gunpowders, and other supplies.
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As they did so, We continued slowly closing clipper factories, always ensuring that the displaced workers had new jobs, even encouraging new industries better fitted for their regions. With the closing of many clipper factories, We thought it prudent to have the navy develop design for steamers to replace the Empire’s old Man-‘O-War ships.
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Finally, there seems to be sufficient support to make political reforms in the Empire. Though We are firmly of the opinion that elections are not needed. We are able to correctly select the best Senators to advise Us.
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Is there ever a time that the UTA is not at war with the Mexicans over this land or that land?  It is frankly exhausting hearing about them and their repetitious efforts to conquer the continent.

I trust your judgment implicitly, Your Majesty.  There is no need to consult the people when you always have their best interests at heart.  It would only limit your ability to perform your duties.

– Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero

It’s good to hear that Your Majesty considered our suggestion of not involving Legions in UTA’s wars, but I’m afraid that our reaction was to slow, as we can see, with Mexico having no armies, UTA is now capable of expanding into the rest of continent without our help. Let’s just hope that they won’t turn against us in the future.

Also, after recent events of terrorist attacks our citizens seem to want political reform, especially Free press, that would, in their opinion, ensure them thruthful informations about the state of Empire and the World. I suggest creating some sort of illusion, let non-state press function, but only after our approval, thus making sure that our citizens will be free from dangerous and radical ideologies. That should also satisfy their need of political reform, thus avoiding radical changes like elections.

– Senator Alexios Damaskinos

Elections…the very word reeks of the liberal menace!

-Senator Doukas

I see no harm in letting the people have greater control over the press, if we censor anything that could harm the Empire.  It is surely better than the nonsense that is elections.  We haven’t needed them for centuries, so why start now?

– Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero

Another glorious victory for the Imperium!

I believe we should consider terminating the alliance with the Tribes so we do not keep getting dragged into their endless wars.

Furthermore, I propose that we create a commission that would study the effects and viability of a press run by the populace. It may reduce discontentment from non-Greek peoples if they are allowed to express their grievances in print. However, the press should be carefully monitored, of course.

I would be curious to see how our statisticians in the Diplomatic Corps rank the Great Powers of the world.

Nikephoros motions to a servant, who hands him a thick file with the double-headed eagle seal of the Imperial House Doukas and the letter “X” stamped on it.

I almost forgot, Her Imperial Highness has directed me to give a report regarding the details of major rebel activities since 1854, which have been gathered into this file.  I shall refer to this file and all subsequent files as the “Chi Files.”

Servants hand out copies to the other senators.

You may be wondering…why am I tasked with documenting small and isolated rebellions?  Well, the answer is that they’re not so isolated after all, as I found out personally.

When the first rebellion broke out in Athens, my house was burned down, with my wife and servants all brutally murdered and dismembered; the local tagmata managed to help me escape but could not return in time to save my wife or servants.  Leading the mob of so-called reactionaries was a Slavic-looking man with an eye-patch, promising to bring down the Empress for her crimes against tradition.  When I found my wife’s body, a sign was nailed into her head, with the following written in blood: “The Cult Remembers.”

Yes – the Cult, the same one that almost killed the Empress, is behind this.

In the next few years, as rebellions broke out in France, Varna (nearly killing my son), Egypt, and Southern Hispania, with their ideologies ranging from Jacobin to reactionary, all of them shared a defining characteristic: a Slavic-looking man with an eye-patch led them and managed to escape the tagmatas sent to crush the rebellions every single time.  We know this man as Iosef Ignatieff, the leader of a savage pagan cult practicing abominable human sacrifice to their Dark Gods and bent on the destruction of the Empire.  He came very close to doing that in 1854.

A couple days ago, I found this letter in the mail.  Let me close by reading it out to you:

“To the Duke who is now a duke and the Doukas who is not emperor:

Your Empire’s efforts at crushing rebels are in vain.  The Cult is many-headed.  Sever one head, and two more shall take its place.  Soon we shall succeed – the Empire shall fall, and Chernobog shall feast on humanity.  It is even better if you die; my seers tell me that the death of the Duke and the Artist shall being about the death of the Empress and the House of Doukas, and they are never wrong.  We’ve sent men to Venice to handle the Artist already.

As for you in your city of Constantinople?  We don’t need to send anybody.  We have men there right now, in the Senate itself.  I can tell you, there are twelve worshippers of Chernobog among the ranks of your “loyal senators” as you read this.

Have fun.

Iosef Ignatieff”

That’s all I have.  Any questions?

~Senator Doukas

You are wrong senator Damaskinos. Give them an once of liberty and then they will ask for more. Let the reforms come when the Empire is ready. No need to listen to the demands of the rabble!

I wonder if this Polish-Lithuanian “union” will last. Often dual-sytems end up dismantled because there can be only one ruler in an ideal state. Do they claim Imperial or Ukrainian territory ?

Also I hope we’ll get to know more about the wonders of Egypt. Such civilization needs to be understood better!

-Basileios Rellis

With no action, the people will grow restless. It is wrong to assume the people do not already want some form of change. There was a popular saying where I come from. “Sometimes, the hardest time to notice something is when it’s most obvious”. We can keep putting off change, and we can keep ignoring the populace. For how long though? A year? A decade? A century? Eventually the people will grow restless with no change. I am not in support of a rebellion or immediate change, but I do want these words to be heeded.

-Senator Kishiev

the status of our navy should be updated

senator smithereens

Has anybody bothered to read the files I passed it just now?  May I remind you that there are twelve traitors within our ranks as we speak?

~Doukas

what files?

senator smithereens

do you have proof about this accusations or any links between the government and this traitors?have you authenticated the letter and how did they get the letter through your guards perhaps you should clean house first

senator smithereens

If you had attended the previous Senate session, you would have found that a traitor had been exposed while the Senate was in session.  He confessed to working with the Cult.

If you had taken a closer look at the files I passed out, you would have found that the leader of the Cult sent me a letter proclaiming that there are twelve traitors within the Senate.  Claiming that the Cult poses no threat to the Empire would be a very bad idea.

~Doukas

can you authenticate the letter and as for the exposed traitor are you sure its part of the cult or just confessed  because it  wants to start a witch hunt and destabilize the government making it hard to trust our fellow senators ?

senator smithereens

The letter is written in the Cyrillic script, with handwriting that has been identified to be that of the Cult leader.  I am merely doing my duty for the Empire, and I want to get rid of these traitors as much as the rest of us do.
As for the traitor, upon an investigation of his house we found that he had been conducting human sacrifices, complete with an altar and a book on Slavic paganism.  There were also letters from the Cult leader found, and they have been compared to the letter I have received.  The handwritings are the same.

~Doukas

have you found any information on the traitor senator so we can remove them the longer we take to unmask them the harder it will be to remove them from their position and have you check if there any links between the cult and the royal family there might be some member there if they are so widespread as you said.

senator smithereens

I’m afraid that if you want more information on the traitor, you’ll have to ask the Intelligence Division; I don’t know what they have found and if I did I would not have the authority to tell you.
I am not sure about the royal family…an investigation shall be recommended to Her Imperial Highness at once.

~Doukas

head of the Intelligence Division
im writing in regard to the traitor who you recently apprehended in the senate im wondering have you found any links between the cult and the imperial family im worried they may attempt to seize power if a member of the family is willing to support them. i have my suspicions of someone in the imperial family because of his trips to Russia  informer has tip me off that something happen on his trip  but we are not sure exactly what here an image my informer manage to get to me before he disappear.

senator smithereens

Alexios Damaskinos whispers to Senator Doukas.

I know that being witness of such terrible events can change a man and I’m sorry I was in Riga and not in Constantinople back then, but you have to listen to me my friend. This letter is not a proof. Maybe one of Senators from other party wrote it to provoke you. You can’t say such things in public. You do realize that you accused over half of the Senate of being traitors? You really want to make yourself enemies, after all those years of cooperation between Senators? Listen to my friendly advice and reconsider it.

perhaps you are right but it comes from doukas if we cannot trust him who should we trust?

senator smithereens

call the guard to protect the senate in the future

senator smithereens

Sir, my apologies.  I did not mean to offend anybody.  I was trying to do good in the name of the Empire.  I shall retract my claims and instead send out copies to other senators so that they can decide for themselves the nature of the potential threat.

~Doukas

I apologize to my fellow senator for saying that there were traitors among us i suggest that we follow doukas example and make our own judgement before accusing anyone.

senator smithereens

anyone in the intelligence division get my report?

senator smithereens


The wars between the UTA and Mexihco seem tiresome, but they make sense. Mexihco and the UTA both easily expanded among peoples similar to themselves, and eventually Mexihco also expanded into western America, which is sparsely settled and loosely-controlled. The UTA only contends for this area, not for the Mexihcan heartland. Nevertheless, it seems unnecessary to aid them in these wars.

With your suggestions, We believe that the state newspapers can be augmented with privately-run newspapers. Provided, of course, that these private newspapers are willing to allow for state oversight, to ensure they do not publish material harmful to the Empire.

As for Poland-Lithuania, We shall see how they fair. They claim no Imperial nor Ukrainian territory, and seem more focused on expansion in the Indochina peninsula.

Senator Smithereens, We agree regarding the navy. Once designs for better heavy ships are made, then We shall begin a mass building project for the navy, ensuring Imperial superiority.

We have no further information regarding the cult beyond what senator Doukas has been able to offer. We shall have Our agents continue to investigate.

But in happier news, We have borne yet another child, princess Veatriki. As well, princess Veronica has married Prince Frederick of Germany. We truly are blessed.

Do the Senators have any other questions or comments?


Congratulations on the birth of another child, my Empress.  My she live a happy and healthy life.

– Senator Michelangelo “the Artist” Favero

Congratulations on the new baby and the marriage, Your Highness. God bless the imperial family!

-Senator Moustakas

Your Imperial Highness,

Congratulations on the new daughter and son-in-law!  I hope this leads to peaceful relations with the Germans in the future!  As for the Cult, I shall continue searching for clues to their whereabouts.  They shall not rest while I am still alive!

~Senator Doukas, Minister of Security


Senators,

As always, thank you for your time and your advice. This session of the Senate is now concluded.

The Empire Strikes Back 90 – The State of the Empire 1849-1854

 


Summoning the Senate

Senators, your presence is requested for a State of the Empire Address on the Ninth of May, 1854.

The following newspapers are considered significant by the archivists.
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And the Senate’s world map is being updated.
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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.

CLICK. Nothing.

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.

Senators,

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.[1]

Finally, if there are no objections, the Scholai Palatinae will add a guard regiment that will be stationed in the Blachernae palace complex.

[1] (( 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.

~Alexios Doukas

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.

~Alexios

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.

~Alexios


Senators,

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

In the east, XI. Legio moved island to island.
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In the west, I. Legio and XIX. Legio both attacked the Hedjaz homeland.
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By November, Hedjaz was ready for peace.
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Agents were then sent to the Iraqi holdings in the Philippines. Iraq, suspicious of us after the war with Hedjaz, found our agents nearly immediately. But this did not deter Us in the least.
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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.
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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.
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IX. Legio initially assisted against New England by defeating their armies. Again, occupying their territories would be left to the UTA.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Meanwhile, XV. Legio had been shipped from Colombia to the southernmost regions of Mexico to occupy their lands. When they had occupied the whole South of Mexico, they returned home to Georgetown.
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In August of 1842, New England finally agreed to annexation. The UTA had a secure northeastern territory.
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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.
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The war with Mexico did not dissuade us from war with Iraq. This war was declared on October 4th 1450. XI. Legio did its usual work of occupying the island of Southeast Asia.
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And I. Legio occupied the Iraqi heartland.
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And those small occupations were all it took for Iraq to surrender on the 11th of November, 1450. Γιώργος Γκρέυ, son of Senator Στήβεν Γκρέυ, was made governor of this new colony.
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Before the Mexican war had yet ended, Poland asked for Our help in freeing Lietuva from Russian domination. We could not refuse them.
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As in former wars, XXIV. Legio marched to occupy Moscow, while II. Legio cut off Russian access to the sea.
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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.
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Fortunately, enough damage was done on enough fronts that Russia surrendered in June of 1853.
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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…

~Alexios

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.

-Alexios

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?

~Alexios

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.

SenatorΣτήβεν Γκρέυ

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?

-Mikael Moustakas

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


Senators,

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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At this point, We turned Our attention to the economy. With the continuing expansion of businesses everywhere, We sought regulations that would better manage the market as a whole.
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By the beginning of 1853, a legal framework for these regulations had been developed, and specific regulations for the financial markets promulgated.
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At this point, the experiences of the Mexican-American war were leading to applications of the new technologies of recent years.
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They were also demonstrating the need for an improved rifle for the legions. Preferably one that did not need to be loaded from the muzzle.
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Sadly, the rifles were not yet ready for the disastrous battle of Kursk. Nearly a year later, they were finally deployed.

And with that, We are uncertain where to direct the researchers and inventors of the Empire. Perhaps the Senate has some recommendations?
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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.
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Those may sound as if we had great difficulties, but consider instead Persia’s violent overthrow of the Persian Patriarch, who replaced by a monk from an ascetic monastery.
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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.

-Senator Moustakas

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.

~Doux Nikephoros


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.

-Senator Moustakas

*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.

The Empire Strikes Back 89 – The State of the Empire 1846-1849

Senators, your presence is requested for a State of the Empire Address on the First of January, 1849.

The following newspapers are considered significant by the archivists.
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And the Senate’s world map is being updated.
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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 !

-Basileios Rellis

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

*Russians
**Germans

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.

-Alexios Damaskinos

Punish the Castilians and Chagatai for their insults! They do not respect our people and our glorious empire! They will pay for their insolence!
-Nikephoros Doukas


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.
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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.
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Persia defended Russia, so I. Legio marched for Tabriz.
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During the war, the new business regulations were finalized and passed into law. So We again looked to the University of Constantinople, seeking to learn how We might better govern the Empire.
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Of course, previous research continued to pay off.
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On the 6 of October, Russia signed a white peace with Germany. While this prevented Russian expansion, it also meant that Russia could focus on the Empire.
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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.
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In December, We were informed that Poland’s former truce with Russia had expired. They accepted the resulting call to arms, eager for revenge.
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An advantage of denying Russia access to the Baltic was that their main fleet was forced into the Gulf of Finland, where the West Fleet waited for them. Their fleet was completely destroyed.
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That same strategy was then applied to Persia’s fleet.
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Once the surrounding lands were occupied and We were certain we were not leading an ally to certain doom, We had Livonia join the war as well.
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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.
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And so We agreed to peace with Russia.
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While the legions were marching home (to be met with fresh cohorts to replace any losses), advancements in the nature of the State and Government were figured out.
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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.
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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.
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Likewise, Japan had been fighting Iraq for control of Outer Manchuria for quite some time, and in December of 1848 Iraq ceded the territory.
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Simultaneously, the research into Strategic Mobility was completed.
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We began upgrading the border forts throughout the Empire, and tasked engineers throughout the Empire to develop railroads that could reliably provide long-distance transport.
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By the end of the year, We had eighteen fully equipped legions, as well as the Scholai Palatinae.
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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?
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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:
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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.
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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

Clerks rush in, providing the maps that Senator Damaskinos had requested.
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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?

-Senator Doukas

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

-Basileios Rellis

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
-Basileios Rellis

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.

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