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Tagmatium Rules

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Tagmatium Rules last won the day on August 9

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About Tagmatium Rules

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    "If it had worked, it would have been perfect!"
  • Birthday 01/31/1988

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    The United Kingdom
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    Trying not to think too much about anything any more.


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    Kommodos III

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  1. Summer in Sumpfhofen wasn't greatly pleasant. It was sunny and warm, certainly, but it was also horribly humid and the Protologothetes hoped it wasn't malarial. The place name was accurate, after all – the city had been founded on a swamp. The history of the city had been explained to Makarios and, to his own surprise, he'd actually found it interesting. The benighted barbarians, far from the influence of Arome, had made a settlement on a series of defensible islands in the middle of a swamp and the place had slowly grown from there. The swamp was at the edge of a series of lagoons that provided a safe harbour for ships and safe places for little tribal bases to spring up. After centuries of fighting, a peace settled between the little states and this peace had fostered trade with the surrounding petty kingdoms of Ceris. This peaceful trade meant that the influence of the Sumpfhofen nobles spread, forming a confederation in the north of Secryae. This confederation then used its growing wealth and influence to expand away from the swamps and lagoons and into the rich, fertile areas to the south. They beat down any rivals with an army of mercenaries from across Argis and more and more other local kinglets joined and it slowly crystallised into a cabal of nobles running a country with the trappings of a democratic republic. Obviously, a lot had changed since Secryae's heyday. The mercenaries had long since departed for somewhere that could actually pay them and the astronomic wealth of the country had been frittered away by feckless aristocrats on vanity projects and palaces, many of which crowded along the edge of the canals and teetered on stilts in the waters of the lagoons. The Protologothetes stood at the edge of one of the canals that criss-crossed the city, trying to ignore the stink that wafted from it. He had been assured by his guide, the Erzkanzler's chief aide, that the smell was nothing to do with centuries of raw sewage having been dumped into the waters of the lagoon but more to do with the rich silt deposited by the network of rivers that fed into the sheltered waters. At the moment, Makarios was taking the man's word for it. “The lagoons and canals of Sumpfhofen have made our great city known as the most romantic in all of Ceris,” said the aide, with a pronounced wink. It seemed to be aimed at all of the Arhomaioi that he was guiding, not just Makarios. “If not the whole of Eurth.” You honestly think your mud wallow could hold a candle to the likes of Europatoria or even Arhoma? Makarios thought to himself with utter disbelief, although he didn't let it show on his face. Years of working within the Arhomaiki government meant that he was very well versed at keeping his own thoughts to himself. The aide, who had finally been introduced to the Protologothetes as Edelherr Neidhard vom Zursingen, seemed determined to impress on Makarios that Secryae could potentially be a tourist destination for the Arhomaioi. And Makarios couldn't really blame him and, indeed, could grudgingly admit that the place actually did have a sort of charm to it, in a rough and uncivilised way. Much of the country was actually quite pretty, if the rampant poverty was ignored. Even now, walking through the supposedly most beautiful parts of the capital city, there were refuse sacks piling up on corners, with stray dogs sniffing at them. The cobbles beneath the filth were certainly nice, though, as were the houses along the sides of the canals, with their timber frames and jettied upper floors. At times, Makarios caught the impression that the Secryaeans were actually desperate, that beneath the bluster and pomp they knew their country was pretty much just another failed state on the brink of collapse. If it wasn't Sentists, then it would have been socialists or communists. Or even getting subsumed by the growing mass of Seylosian puppet states to the east. Perhaps the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion could have pushed for a more favourable deal... But then that would have meant that the Secryaeans might have grown resentful of their presence and the Arhomaiki attempts to use the Ceriser country as a foothold in the New Wurld eventually collapse. “I'm sure that Sumpfhofen will get the attention it deserves, once this current crisis is over, God willing,” replied the Arhomaios with a bland smile. Of course, after the annihilation of Liechnenfax, the threat to the capital and the country itself seemed significantly more pronounced. Last time the instructor Droungarios Neokottaeitissa had spoken to Makarios, she had mentioned that desertions had almost completely halted and now they were even getting volunteers for training. A full division had been trained to at least nominally the standard of Skoutatoi, although they would obviously not have the same backbone and skill as those of the Arhomaioi. With experienced officers attached, there was the expectation that it would be able to pull its weight in any conflict with the Sentists. So long as it wasn't used in truly arduous operations. “I am sure it will, too,” beamed Zursingen. “Our city was once known as one of the jewels of Ceris. Once tourists start coming back, Sumpfhofen will be back on the map. Ours is a peaceful country, a land of romance and wonder.” Fitting with that theme of romance and wonder, eight soldiers in towering bearskins, red armour and with heavy sabres at their sides trailed after the Arhomaioi and their local politician guide. The Protologothetes would have been happier with a detachment of one of the Tagmata units but he knew that that would have been a show of bad faith. Instead, the Republican Guard, or Rote Wache as they were commonly known, were providing bodyguards instead. The bearskins certainly gave them an air of savagery that the plate mail of the Tagmata did not. They would definitely be a bit of a tourist attraction in on their own. “It certainly is, Edelherr,” said Makarios, stumbling slightly over the foreign title. “And I do not doubt that our faith will mean that both of our militaries will strive to not only defend the borders of Secryae but also push back the Sentists.” It was a trite turn of phrase but Zursingen didn't seem to notice the lack of effort that Makarios put into it. Instead, the Ceriser turned to the other two members of their party, one of who didn't have the political nuance to disguise the dismissive looks she was shooting at both Makarios and Zursingen. The Protologoethetes, rather than wilting under the hard stare of a veteran officer, seemed to smirk all the harder, despite still having a carefully neutral expression as he gazed at a particularly well carved wooden gargoyle on a house overlooking the canal. The Protologothetes knew that the former commander of the Arhomaiki forces in Ceris wasn't annoyed with him, specifically, but the circumstances that she had been dumped into. As the involvement of Arhomaneia stepped up after the destruction of Liechnenfax, it had been inevitable that that both the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion and the Epistrategaion paid closer attention to the events on Ceris. It was now no longer a merely convenient way to involve the Megas Agios Basileia in the affairs of the New Wurld. The Sentists were not just a vague threat that could be tackled at a later date. They were a clear and present danger to the stable nations in the area, a matter that needed to be defeated sooner rather than later. So, now the Protologothetes found himself sidelined by the fact that military operations were going to take precedence over diplomatic ones for the moment,which certainly rubbed him up the wrong way but he took some satisfaction from the fact that he wasn't the one who was worse off from that closer scrutiny and control. It was decided that a newly promoted corps commander was not what was needed to emphasise Arhomaneia's level of involvement in the crisis brewing in Ceris. Parsakountena now chafed under the fact that overall command of the Arhomaiki ground forces had been taken away from her. The fact that she would have had to be liaising with admirals in charge of carrier battle groups precluded her from overall command of the ground elements. Instead, a full Strategos had been placed in command of the forces that were being assembled in the Noble Republic. Isaakios Akilios had been the officer chosen to take over from Parsakountena. And, of course, inter-service rivalry played a part in it, too. The Strategos was from the Palationoi and they habitually looked down on the Noumeroi. “God will defend His own,” said Akilios absently, happily looking at the architecture of the Secryaean capital. “I am certain that He will guide the actions of both of our nations and bring peace to Ceris. I don't think that there are many cities quite so beautiful as Sumpfhofen in Arhomaneia. Although your buildings might be a bit more... rustic.” Easily said for a man who has enough firepower at his disposal to level cities, thought Makarios. And undoubtedly the general could have applied a bit more tact, but Zursingen didn't seem to be offended. Likely the last few months of working with the Arhomaiki had made Secryaeans used to their unthinking rudeness. Instead, the noble gave the Strategos a polite smile. “I am sure that Arumanien has many of its own wonderful sites,” replied Zursingen tactfully and with a polite smile. “But even being here for a short while, Herr Strategos, you can see that our capital is one of the most lovely on Eurth.” Strategos Akillios nodded. “It most certainly is. Once the threat of the Sentists has been put down, I can imagine that tourists from the rest of the wurld flock to your great capital.” Makarios smiled the same smile as both Zursingen and Akilios but he was much more sceptical than the rest of them. Maybe visitors would come, maybe they wouldn't. There were lots of other countries on Eurth that weren't so poor as Ceris. Other Argic nations were going to be better places to go on holiday. And it wasn't as if the Sentists weren't going down without a fight. The reinforcements that the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion had sent to Secryae included numerous units from the Omikhliforoi, the Chemical Weapons Corps. They usually acted as rocket artillery but they were also experts in chemical warfare and defence, although the Arhomaioi as a whole were paranoid about it, thanks to their northern neighbour. “We are coming up to one of the great sights of Sumpfhofen,” said the Secryaean noble, turning away from the Tagmatine general and waving his guests forward. “Our capital was founded on a series of islands, which were expanded as the population grew. But up ahead is one of original fortified settlements of Sumpfhofen.” The small group and their escort rounded the corner of a canal and where met by the sight of a castle that seemingly grew out of the water. Again, Makarios tried to not find the view impressive but failed. The castle wasn't anything like the grand fortresses of Arhomaneia but it had its charms. “Although some of the others were eventually replaced by either palaces or modern fortifications, the Sumpfburg remains something of a symbol of our republic,” Zursingen continued. “It was where the compact between the leaders of the islands was first signed. There is enough time in our itinerary to visit it later. The Erzkanzler feels it is important to get a feel of what Secryae is like.” This was more aimed at Akilios than the other two Arhomaioi, who had now been in the country for some time. The Secryaean turned away from the castle and pointed towards a cafe on the edge of the canal. It was busy, but two of the bearskinned guards detached themselves from the escort and started to whisper to the patrons. They seemed to be the upper class of the city and most of them looked disappointed but they still got up and walked away from their tables. “However, before that we'll have some refreshment at this cafe. It has some of the finest cakes and coffee in the city." To: His Majesty, King Aidan I of the United Kingdom of @Seylos, Eire, Pleinmont, and Sark; the Government of the Kingdom of @Gallambria; the Government of the United States of @Prymont; the Government of the Sanctum Imperium Catholicum (@Salvia) ; the Government of the Workers' Republic of @Fulgistan; the Government of the Unified @Variotan States From: the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion Honoured friends, It is time that our nations strike back against the threat of the Sentists, and free the Cerisers from the yoke of their brutal rule. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion has marshalled forces from the Basilikostrates, Basilikoploimon and Basilikoaeroporia in and around the Ceriser nation of Secryae, along with units of the Secryaean military. The Basilikoploimon has been operating in the Makhaira Thalassa for some time, to safeguard against the activities of pirates in and around that sea. They had been threatening the maritime shipping routes in eastern Argis for some time. That mission seems to be, if not complete, then superseded by the much bigger threat that is posed by the Sentists. As such, the Arhomaiki and Secryaean forces gathered in the west of the Noble Republic will advance into Hodrea, aiming to free it from the repressive clutches of the Sentists. This force will consist a thematon (army) and several divisions of the Secryaean Heer, which have been retrained to Arhomaiki standard. In conjunction with this, the one of the two carrier battle groups operating in the Makhaira Thalassa will begin to shift towards Hodrea, east of Rewhain, in order to support Arhomaiki forces as they advance. This will be in conjunction with strikes by the Basilikoaeroporia in order to disrupt Sentist operations and any attempts to prevent the advance of the combined Arhomaiki and Secryaean forces. The carrier battlegroup of the BPK Agios Pantaleon will remain in the area, off Liechnenfax, and continue to coordinate with the Seylosian and Gallambrian forces. That of the BPK Agios Ioulianos will head back east. I will forward on the details of the plans drawn up by the Epistrategaion, so that the forces set to liberate Ceris will be able act together to once again allow the island to breath free. God will set us on the road to victory, Honorios Kontarian, Megas Logothetes of the Logothesion tou Stratiotikou of the Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion
  2. The name could have been put in place by people inspired by the spirit of optimism rather than reality
  3. That's actually a good way in. As you're likely aware, the point where discussion on this tended to fail was a cause for it to start over. This gives us a good one and seems pretty unique, too. Although perhaps we need to modify how the UEL works. A mirror of the UN doesn't seem to be the best way of organising it.
  4. “The leopard had very little significance to the Aromans specifically, other than being a symbol of a heathen god adopted from the Laimienes. It was just another predator to use in their arenas. It was only when Eudoxius decided to use its likeness for one of his thrones that it started to gain some significance.” From The History of the Decline and Fall of the Aroman Empire by Edvard Onasger. Published by Sjoholm and Opdahl of Canastota, in EK7281 (AD1773). At night, the view from Trofimos Onosandros' twelfth floor flat was actually pretty. The constellation of street lights and the headlights of late night traffic of the city of Resafa made the city look beautiful, where during the day the flat looked out across suburbia, towards the marshalling yards and the rail junction that marked the city as the main transport hub in the north-east of Arhomaneia. That certainly wasn't pretty, unless one was a train-spotter. Even now, after dark, the clanking of freight wagons, the chug of diesel engines and the blasts of horns could be heard in the flat, especially since the windows were open against the summer heat. And it had been a warm summer. Onosandros himself did often look out the window towards the marshalling yard. It was easy to get distracted by the business of it, even if he didn't care about what they were actually doing, much less why a certain sort of locomotive often found in southern Arhomaneia was pulling coal trains this far north. Onosandros was staring out towards it now, sat at the table in the living room and holding a bottle of beer. He'd not taken a swig in a long while and it'd got warm in the hot night. He sat in a t-shirt and shorts against the summer heat and, against usual Arhomaiki fashion, he had a moustache rather than a full beard. He worked as a para-legal for an insurance company and he saw first hand how the system ground people down. Perhaps that was why he was in favour of Nea Demokrateia and a change in how the Megas Agios Basileia was run. “You know it won't change anything,” said one of the other two people sat in the living room. The speaker was also clutching a beer and staring out the window. He wasn't saying anything that the other two didn't agree with, or hadn't said before. He wore his dark hair and beard short and had on a set of overalls, which were clean despite the fact he'd spent all of his day in a garage. “Even if we have elections, even if Kommodos steps down, he'd still be organising things behind the scenes.” Onosandros turned his gaze away from the window, looked over at the speaker and took a drink from his warm beer. It was the last bit and he put it down on the table, slightly disturbing all the empty bottles, including two bottles of wine. Other than all the bottles on the table, the flat was clean for that of a single man. It was painted in neutral colours, with cheap pine furniture. He knew the other man well. Nikeforos Evangelopoulos had been a good friend for the last five years, a fellow member of Nea Demokrateia. He had a better reason than Trofimos to join the group, as a veteran of the Civil War in EK7513 and a soldier until that very year. An injury had seen him pensioned out of the Noumeroi and he'd taken up work as a mechanic. A lorry was a lorry, after all, and civilian ones needed fixing. Things had seemed like they were finally getting better under Theodosios after the Navarkhokrateia, Nikeforos held, until he'd been martyred. Then Kommodos, who had always been a dark figure behind the Leopard Throne, had taken over and reigned with an iron fist. To an extent, Trofimos took his word for it – he'd been seven years old when the Civil War had happened and only really remembered his parents hiding with him and his sister under the table as the house as the house shook around them. The rebel forces had bypassed Resafa in their drive towards the capital, apart from some brief shelling. He did remember seeing the Basilikoaeroporeia constantly harrying the rebel forces, especially at night. Trofimos remembered all of his family watching them in the dark, the flares of jet engines passing overhead as they struck the traitors and seeing the ground fire coming back at them. But one of the widely unspoken things after the rebels were defeated was the fact that many of the officers who'd been taken prisoner never made it to trial. They'd disappeared, declared “missing in action” despite people seeing them led off onto buses nominally going towards captivity. Not many people, other than their families, truly missed the rabid supporters of the Navarkhokrateia, though. “I don't know,” Onosandros replied cautiously. He knew that they were treading old ground over this. “I do think the Agios Basileos does act with the best intentions for us, as Christ does guide his actions.” It was a formulaic response and both Evangelopoulos and Ioulia Halimeda, the final occupant of the room, turned and looked at him, raising their eyebrows. Those two shared a glance and a smile after he said that. Onosandros sighed and walked over to the fridge to get himself another beer, placing the empty bottle on the table as he walked by. The fact that there were a dozen empty bottles spoke of the long evening the three of them had had so far. “I'm sure he's got the best intentions for Arhomaneia,” Ioulia said. She glowered at her beer bottle before she continued. “Just not necessarily the best intentions for us.” She took a drink of her beer and put it back on the table, slightly harder than she must have meant. A bit spurted out and landed on her t-shirt, which she wiped down with the palm of her hand before wiping that hand on her long skirt. Trofimos could only guess at what she meant, although it was an educated guess. It might not have been the “us” that signified the three of them in the room, the supporters of the democracy movement or even the Arhomaioi, but something that he'd not tried to pry about. He knew that Ioulia had never had a boyfriend or a husband, despite being in her mid thirties, long after the point where most women of her age had already married and started having children. She had a good female friend who she shared her flat with and they had two dogs that they loved. He also knew that it was something that he ought not ask questions about – Nikeforos had warned him off some years before. There was a reason why there was a steady flow of immigrants who couldn't conform to some of the norms of life in Arhomaneia westward towards Adaptos. Like there were those who didn't want to be part of the hyper-competitive and very elitist system of Adaptos went eastward, to the open arms of Christ. “Well, we've done better than most other countries in recent years,” offered Trofimos, not quite sure why he was defending someone he felt more or less inherently opposed to. He grabbed a beer out of the fridge and looked at it, before grabbed two more for the others. There was another one and a half cases in there. The little 330ml bottles barely lasted. “We've had over fifteen years of peace, after all. Most other countries in the wurld have barely seen half of that.” Nikeforos snorted and reached for a bowl of shelled hazelnuts that sat at the centre of a rampart of beer bottles. He picked up a handful and thumbed a couple into his mouth. He spoke whilst eating them. “You'd not really remember all the scuffles between the alliances back after Kommodos took the throne. Arhomaiki soldiers being thrown into all sorts of conflicts to show that our nation could stand on its own two feet again. It was madness, and I thank the saints we've not seen the likes of that again. There was the threat of invasion once or twice.” “No, I don't remember it,” Trofimos admitted. He walked back through the kitchen towards the living room. The flat wasn't huge but it still had a separate kitchen, living room and bedroom. It was a shame that much of the floor space in the hall was taken up with Nea Demokrateia posters that they'd never put up now. “But recently, the last decade, we've been able to show the wurld we're not to be messed with. And that's thanks to Kommodos. Although there is still Ceris.” He shrugged to show he wasn't being completely serious. The conflict on that island hadn't really been taken much notice of by the average Arhomaios compared to the conflict in the Exkousiokrateia, despite the size of the deployment there. It had seemed like a distraction in the New Wurld. That had changed when the footage of the destruction of Liechnenfax filmed by the Basilikoploimon was made public. Then popular support entirely swung behind the actions of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion with regards to troop numbers on the island and the support of the ethniki country that Arhomaneia was supporting. “I don't see why we should send off our troops to die for some foreigners,” said Nikeforos, unthinkingly rubbing his shoulder, where Trofimos guessed he'd been injured during the Civil War. “They're heretics, too. Worshippers of images, as if they're somehow windows into heaven.” It was half-hearted, though. The utter destruction shown by the images of the capital of Hodrea was shocking. Although the size of the Arhomaiki force wasn't being discussed openly within the media, there were rumours that it'd reached the size of an army. Arhomaneia was planning on putting a hammer blow against the Sentists. “That's not what we're talking about, though,” Ioulia pointed out, trying to remind the other two why they were in Trofimos' flat. “We need to try to revitalise Nea Demokrateia. Everyone saw how Niketas was treated in that interview.” All three of them took a drink and put their beers down on the table with a resounding clonk. It had been a travesty. Hagiokhristoforitissa had clearly been in the pocket of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, even though the Arhomaiki Alfa Tileoptikou Diktyou promised that it was free of the influences of the government. But, on the flipside, the three of them had been at the protest in the city over a year ago. At the time, it'd seemed like Nea Demokrateia had been running out of steam. “I've not watched them since,” Trofimos said. “I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. Hagiokhristoforitissa should have been better than that.” “She should have been better than that, yeah. But what are you going to f*cking do against the government?” asked Evangelopoulos, although Onosandros guessed it was rhetorical. He shifted in his chair, going from a slouched position to sitting upright. “We literally have a f*cking secret police sniffing about. For all we know, they had her at gunpoint and told her to ask these questions.” “But the questions were obvious and heavy handed,” pointed out Halimeda, apparently playing devil's advocate. “It just made them look stupid, doubly so after the Logothesion ton Deesion tried to explain it all away. It seemed like something else was going on there.” The blocks of flats were usually known as “insoulai”, after the ones in ancient Arhoma. It was a vain attempt to channel the glories of the capital hundreds of years ago, glossing over the fact that “insulae” had been notoriously overcrowded and ramshackle. Many of them had been built in the hopeful years after the Long War, when the new emperor, Leon III, had brought peace and prosperity to Arhomaneia, sweeping away the slums that had grown up in most cities and replacing them with modern high-rise buildings, each topped with its own chapel to allow the people easy access to a centre of worship. That was possibly why such blocks didn't have a reputation of having shoddy lifts in the Megas Agios Basileia as they did in other nations on Eurth – they were kept in good order, lest the maintenance crews get excommunicated. They continued to be built in the population boom in the years after war, too, as it was often easier to build up than build widely. “They just got wrong footed.” Evangelopoulos sat back in his chair, his arms crossed. He inhaled deeply and breathed out slowly. “They got caught out doing something f*cking stupid and had to try to back pedal.” “Nah,” she shook her head. “I don't think so. The ABK is usually pretty heavy handed but that just seemed to be more heavy handed than they would usually be, you know? Something struck me as off.” “As off as the number of Eepoi at our demonstration last year?” asked Onosandros pointedly. Evangelopoulos looked at him whilst taking a drink, the expression on his face showing that he thought that Trofimos had taken the words from his mouth. “You know they have snatched people before. And beaten them, or done worse.” Halimeda looked shocked for a moment and Nikeforos stood up and put his hands out in a conciliatory manner. The woman shot him a look and sat back with her beer. “Yes, they have. And I'd definitely be one of the first to criticise this government but there is every indication that it has only ever been supporters of the Navarkhokrateia. And the last one was years ago.” “It's still monstrous,” said Trofimos. “You have no idea,” replied Ioulia, in an icy, polite tone. Evangelopoulos sensed something starting to brew between the friends. It was probably the booze, and there had been a lot of it. The veteran stood up, ready to catch anything that might spoil an otherwise good friendship. Before anyone else could say anything, there was a knock at the door. More than a knock, a proper bang. At first, he thought it might have been someone getting the wrong door in the block of flats, but the look on the face of the other two suggested otherwise. All three of them looked at each other and the stacks of Nea Demokrateia propaganda in the hallway. It wasn't illegal, just frowned upon. Onosandros straightened his t-shirt and walked towards the door. However, Evangelopoulos sensed something was different and held his hand up, which meant that Trofimos stopped in the hall doorway. The veteran found his voice first, unsurprisingly. He approached the door and started to slide the cover of the peephole out of the way. “Who is it?” The only answer he got was the door being kicked in and a truncheon hitting him behind the ear as he fell back. As soon as he was down, the grey-uniformed Eepoi shoved past him. They didn't even look at the stacks of undelivered leaflets before they clubbed both Onosandros and Helimeda to the ground, handcuffed their hands behind their backs and dragged them off.
  5. They left the region an hour after arriving. That's not to say they're not welcome if they wish to return but that it may not be worth saying "hello" right now.
  6. Welcome to Eurth! I hope you enjoy your time here as much as I have!
  7. Logothesion ton Agelon investigates the Isthmos Kanalos Environmental Impact of the Canal Questioned The Istmos Kanalos is one of the greatest feats of Arhomaiki engineering ever carried out. Whilst the ancients were able to build the roads that allowed the soldiery of our nation to conquer much of the known wurld and constructed the aqueducts that meant our cities could flourish in a way unimagined by the barbaroi that surround our countries and our lands, it is the great canal that joins the Ragas Thalassa, the Raga Sea, and the Kolpos tes Stratonis, the Bay of Stratonis, that surmounts any of these glorious works of the past. Its completion at the start of the reign of his Aroman Majesty, Kommodos III, by the Grace of Christ the God, Agios Basileos kai Autokrator has been a vast boost to the economy of our nation. Although it has meant that some of the traffic that used to the call at the ports at the north-eastern end of the Ragas Thalassa now bypass them, the long way around the northern coast of the Occident is no longer as economically viable, opening up a huge amount of trade from southern Europa. But it has not been without its costs, and not just to the Arhomaiki ports in the south of our nation. From the start, there were worries that a route that joined the Ragas Thalassa and the seas of central Europa would have an adverse environmental impact. At the time, it was suggested that there ought to be locks fitted to the canal, to control the flow of water through it, even though the geography of the isthmus meant that the locks were not necessary for travelling through it. The idea behind these was to prevent the water of the seas mixing and preventing any invasive species from going from one to the other. This, however, was mooted by the order of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion. The locks would impede the flow of trade as they impeded the flow of water, and the idea of stopping ships and putting them in dry docks to scrub their hulls clean of any flora and fauna would annihilate any economic and strategic advantage given by the canal. In order to counterbalance any damage done to God's Eurth, the Logothesion ton Agelon, the Ministry for the Environment, was ordered to monitor any changes and keep tabs on the progress of invasive species through the canal. At the time, it was rather naively hoped that the constant passage of ships through the canal would entirely disrupt the movement of any animals. As a precautionary measure, it seems almost comical in its woeful under-preparation. However, the new Megas Logothetes ton Agelon, Presbyteros Paulos Narses, has announced that a large-scale survey will take place of both the northern Ragas Thalassa and the Kolpos tes Stratonis in order to check the extent of the movement of invasive species. This will be in conjunction with Panepistímion ton Petrion, the Hekademion and, surprisingly, the University of Canastota in the Enomenes Politeies tes Prymonteias, the United States of @Prymont. The Logothesion ton Agelon has defended its inclusion of a barbariki institution because of their expertise in undertaking oceanographic and wildlife survey, and that the knowledge gained and shared here will help with the protection of the environment across Eurth. The Prymontiki are known for their keen awareness of the impact that human activity has on the wurld, especially since any rise in global temperature will affect their country more than many others. Much of the country lies within the Argic Circle. “Although we are much separated by both faith and distance, the Prymontiki are motivated by the same drive to preserve the environment as the Arhomaioi,” said a statement released by the Logothesion ton Agelon. “Seeking cooperation and tapping into the expertise that they can provide is not something that we can allow to pass us by.” Initial studies have been reportedly carried out to establish the extent of potential contamination between the two bodies of water. The Logothesion ton Agelon has remained tight-lipped about the amount of individual animals and the number of species that been found. There have been unconfirmed reports from fishermen that the Lavrakoi that are usually caught in the Kolpos tes Stratonis are diminishing, being replaced by Koiloi, a fish much more common in the Ragas Thalassa. This, in turn, has forced the beginnings of a change in how the local fishing industry operates. God willing, the survey that will be undertaken will be able to shed more light on the matter. Arhoma hosts Conference on Arhoma Potentially seditious meeting monitored by the Esoteriki Epitheorisi Pliroforion The city of Arhoma is the centre of our nation, the ancient and symbolic capital of our nation, which is the chosen nation of God on Eurth. As everyone knows, the Arhomaiki civilisation is the guiding light of Eurth, both spiritually and politically. All other nations look towards us and what we have achieved. Even now, all barbaroi regard us as the model to base their nations on. This can be seen in such things as the famous Manille Arsenal in Iberikeia (@Iverica) drawing on Arhomaiki architecture, as well as many other political and administrative buildings across wurld. It should not be surprising then that there are those Arhomaioi who wish to see a return to the past or move to a future different to the one that God has chosen for us. Last week, a conference was held in our ancient capital to discuss the future of our civilisation and what shape that might take. A range of different speakers attended, including academics, politicians and historians. The conference was not condoned by the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion and no-one from the government is known to have attended. It was at least partially funded by Isaakios Niketas, the former Proedros and leader of Nea Demokrateia, so the possibility of subversive aims of the conference should not be surprising. This is the reason why the Esoteriki Epitheorisi Pliroforion, the secret police, were carefully monitoring the conference. This was so that if there were any attempts to undermine the holy rule of the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator, they could be nipped in the bud. Niketas himself stated that the conference was nothing more than a meeting of like-minded individuals, keen to promote cooperation between the nations of Europa that claim Arhomaiki heritage, as well as to pool ideas on how to promote peace between the nations. Nationals from Adaptos (@Adaptus), Sporseia, Euandreia and Salbeia (@Salvia) are known to have attended and given speeches and seminars, as well as some individuals from the breakaway province of the Hexanesa. It demonstrates the enlightened rule of His Aroman Majesty that the visitors from that province were not arrested as traitors. Agios Basileos Kommodos respected the promise of his predecessor, Theodosios VI, who allowed the Hexanesanoi to visit Arhomaneia without fear of arrest for treason. It is no more than what they so richly deserve, however. One of the main speakers of the conference was a past leader of the Hexanesa, Ioannes Hegesinos, an ex-leader of the rogue province, who has advocated Arhomaiki cooperation in the past. Whilst Hegesinos was leading figure in a nest of traitors, he saw that a strong Arome is something that can be a force for good. He supports the intervention by Adaptos and Arhomaneia in the New Wurld, stating that it helps make our planet a safer place. His speech was reportedly on that theme, that Arhomaneia has a duty to help guide the rest of the wurld towards peace, working in cooperation with all other nations. Other speakers promoted closer economic cooperation between the five nations, or an expansion of the agreement between Arhomaneia and Adaptos. Trade between our nation and our closest neighbour and ally is frictionless and includes an alignment of standards and regulations. It isn't currently thought by the Logothesion tou Kommerkiarionikou, the Ministry for Trade, that an expansion of the agreement would be economically advantageous for the Megas Agios Basileia, especially since the south-eastern two nations have been through some chaotic times that see no sign of abating. It also remains to be seen whether Salbeia should truly be considered as a descendent of our great civilisation, considering their geographic distance and insistence on heresy. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion is supposedly frustrated with the fact that Praifektos Orbanos, Khristoforos Florentios, allowed the conference to go ahead. It is understood that the Praifektos Orbanos would have been aware of the conference and what it entailed, knowing it was controversial, but still gave it the go ahead. It can only be hoped that he is praying for forgiveness for his actions. Likely, this is part of his misguided plan to seemingly secularise our ancient capital and bring it in line with the capitals of the barbaroi, as if that is something that is laudable. His actions in allowing a fashion show to go ahead was criticised by the Patriarkhes of Tzankheia but was greeted by silence by the Patriarkhes of Arhoma.
  8. Happy birthday, @Esonice!
  9. “A man-eating leopard frequently breaks through the frail walls of village huts and carries away children and even adults as they lie asleep. They usually prefer to ambush prey, however; that is when they are most successful.” Excerpt from Man-Eaters: The Memoirs of a Professional Hunter by Khristoforos Iagoupes, first published in EK7400 (AD1892). Iagoupes was later awarded the courtly title of Protokynegos, or “First Hunter”, in recognition of his exploits. The most dangerous man in Ahromaneia was currently sat reading a book on a patio. The patio overlooked a large, neatly tended garden that spread away from a relatively modest villa, down towards a meandering brook. It was a rare moment of peace and quiet in an otherwise busy life and high ministers of state only very occasionally had time to themselves. He paused for a moment in his reading, put his book down on the glass topped table in front of him and took a sip of mixed fruit squash before picking his book back up again. After reading for a few more pages, he kicked off his shoes and put his feet up on the chair next to him. The book wasn't that interesting, not really – it was some trash historical fiction about a common soldier during the Octarchy, who through his newfound Christian faith was able to save the Empire from being overrun by barbaroi before his piety and devotion was able to sway the heart of the pagan emperor to True Religion. It was utter trash on a few levels – the emperor Auxentios never became Christian, not even on his deathbed. He reportedly died of a broken heart, all his efforts to reunite Arome dashed to the winds as the struggles between Methodianos and the other, later Oktarkhoi shattered the peace he'd striven hard to make. And the emperor had instituted an official persecution of Christians, something that had never been enacted before. Still, it was trash that let him turn his brain off and not think of very much for a few hours, especially on a day off. It was uncommon to get any decent time off and the Megas Logothetes imagined that something would pop up before the day was out to mean that he wouldn't be able to enjoy it completely. He did have underlings, of course, who would deal with anything before he had to but the sort of government that the Megas Agios Basileia had meant that it often required a personal touch. The old tyrant would come sniffing about sooner rather than later, demanding answers whilst sitting and staring. Not that he had any real issue with Kommodos Iakoumos, other than the fact that the man was in the way of the reader's own ambitions. The only thing that he truly had against him was the fact that he had split the Logothesion tou Praitoriou, the Ministry of Police, away from his own Logothesion some years ago. It had weakened his own power but it was understandable. If Kommodos allowed an underling to gain too much of that, then it meant that his perch on the Leopard Throne was fundamentally weakened. If there was one thing that the man reading the book had an understanding of, it was power. It was why he had worked for years to get himself where he was. He didn't genuinely care about ruling, or keeping God's chosen nation on Eurth strong, although those were part of the parcel. It was all about power. And, as the Megas Logothesion of the Logothesion tou Dromou, he was amongst the most powerful people on Eurth. But there was someone above him. For years, he thought that he could tolerate that, as he felt that he could predict what the old tyrant wanted or wanted to hear. But with this move towards democracy, everything was now much more unstable. As the face of the ministry that was the source of the low level oppression that every Arhomaioi faced on a day to day basis, from the grey-uniformed Esoteriki Epitheorisi Pliroforion they saw on the way to work or on street corners to the price they paid for stamps, he was never going to win any elections. So he had to make sure that there was not one in the first place. And that was why Pantaleon Tonaras was the most dangerous man in Arhomaneia. Not just because he wanted to overthrow the God-ordained monarch of Arome but because he had the plan and the means. Tonaras turned the next page of his book. He knew himself that an election victory would be entirely out of his grasp. That was why he was planning on acting before Kommodos stepped down. He was also cynical enough to think that this was little more than an attempt by the Agios Basileos to go down in history favourably. He had brought peace and strength back to Arhomaneia but it was at the cost of repression. Something that Tonaras knew about quite well, since he was the one in charge of doing a lot of the repression. Sooner rather than later, the Arhomaioi would look upon the rest of the countries of the wurld and think that they were missing something. Now that the country was being drawn closer to the nations of TRIDENT, they would see the likes of Iverica and Prymont and realise that they could also have a say in how their country was run. Kommodos was trying to stay ahead of the game by announcing a move towards a democracy but it was certainly going to be a managed one. The old tyrant was lucky that the loudest voice in favour of democracy was that fat windbag, Isaakios Niketas. The man was a strange mix of a reactionary and an idealist. He had slowly but surely morphed from wanting nothing more than a return to a sinecure position to genuinely being in favour of democracy. Of course, as with most people leading a crusade, he saw himself being borne aloft by worshipping crowds. Unfortunately, it tended to fall flat because he had spent over a decade whinging about how life was unfair to him on TV programmes paid for by his family's billions whilst sat in a palace. Now the Megas Logothetes was working hard to make it look as if life was unfair to him. The Logothesion tou Dromou was a very useful tool in that regard. Not only was the Esoteriki Epitheorisi Pliroforion a part of his ministry but post service as well – that was what the name meant, after all – the Ministry of Post. It didn't take much to find blackmail material on Theoktiste Hagiokhristoforitissa and get her to ask questions that looked as if the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion had got to her and made her try to make Niketas look like a fool or a traitor. And the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion had been left scratching its head, as it was exactly the sort of ham-fisted thing it would do. When it had adamantly – and truthfully – denied that it had anything to do with the questions, people became even more suspicious. After all, it was known that Niketas was effectively being bullied by his team of “bodyguards”. What other lows would Kommodos' regime stoop to now that the country was once again edging towards democracy? Now all Tonaras had to do was to curate that. Make Niketas more likeable in the eyes of the common Arhomaioi or, something that was much more realistic, less dislikeable. The pro-democracy campaigner had a resource of a hardened following, who had stuck by him for many years. Even though it had been undermined by high-profile members leaving in recent years, Nea Demokrateia was still fairly strong. To allow it to flourish again, all it would take was to lessen the pressure put on it by the Esoteriki Epitheorisi Pliroforion and reduce the amount of mail being intercepted. The book was placed on the table again and Tonaras stared down the garden, towards the rushes edging the stream. It was a beautifully manicured garden, with a natural look that only came from a horde of gardeners carrying out the actual work. The villa was an official residence of the Megas Logothetes tou Dromou, near Skouton. Surprisingly for the ancient country, it wasn't as old as it looked. The building had been heavily damaged by during the Civil War of EK7513, shelled and burned during a battle between traitor army units and the Tagmata, who were trying to stop the rebel penetration towards the capital. It didn't seem that Pantaleon Tonaras saw any irony in plotting a coup whilst sat where blood had been split the last time Arhomaneia had suffered one. It was a double irony that there were Tagmata soldiers here still, acting as guards for the residence of the Megas Logothetes. If they knew the thoughts going through his head, they probably wouldn't stop to drag him before the Leopard Throne, instead shooting Tonaras where he sat. Perhaps it would be better to put more pressure on them, make the secret police more overt and heavy handed. The people would end up backing them more, in all likelihood. He stroked his beard for a moment. Of course, that could well backfire – he didn't actually want Niketas to become a hero of the people. And, in the end, Niketas needed to be put back in his box or put under the ground without anyone giving overmuch of a f*ck. He picked up his book again. It wasn't as if Tonaras wanted democracy to flourish in Arhomaneia, any more than he thought that Kommodos wanted it to, either. The Agios Basileos likely wanted to be able to retire from public life and puppeteer any new incumbent of the Leopard Throne. And it made sense that the Kouropalates was the man heading the plan for a democratic changeover. Fillipos Kommenos was little more than a younger version of Kommodos, although with an ancient pedigree that made him much more palatable to the aristocracy of the country. The Kouropalates would make decisions that Kommodos would approve of and the pair of them would shape a democracy that was little more than facade on the autocratic regime. The Megas Logothetes wasn't criticising them for that, though. He would do the same in their shoes. Their plan, such as he saw it, made perfect sense to mind of Tonaras. The other player in Tonaras' own plan would blindside Kommodos. The Megas Logothetes ton Ilektrikon was thought of as a key member of the Agios Basilikon Vestiarion, which didn't cease to surprise Pantaleon. It often seemed completely clear to him that Zemarkhos disliked Kommodos but even he hadn't imagined the depths of vitriol that had spilled out when he had met him in the suite of rooms put aside for the Logothesion ton Ilektrikon in the Basilikon Synkrotima Palation several weeks ago. Zemarkhos had a deep hatred for anything that damaged the dignity of the aristocracy, which Kommodos was the root of in his mind. The bile that had erupted forth took Tonaras aback and almost, almost stopped him from including the other Megas Logothetes in his plans. On top of that, Zemarkhos likely saw himself as the rightful ruler of the Arhomaioi and wouldn't allow anything other than that, so Tonaras was going to have to deal with that later. Likely terminally. Until that point, the Megas Logothetes ton Ilektrikon would be able to bring any other dissatisfied aristocrats on board, just as Niketas would be able to tap into the democracy fanatics. There was a large amount of them, as it turned out, all moaning about how Kommodos was favouring competency over breeding. Honestly, if this coup did fail and the upshot was that these arseholes were washed out of Arhomaneia, then Tonaras thought he should be hailed as a hero rather than a traitor. But they would be useful fodder when the plan was set in motion. Most of them had military training and ties with the armed forces, which would be able to counterbalance the fact that Pantaleon knew that he had little sway with them, not when compared with the old tyrant. That Zemarkhos was literally in charge of power was also why Tonaras had brought him on board. Between the two Megaloi Logothetai, they controlled much of the communications of the country. Neither of them directly but they would be able to disrupt it significantly, either through shutting off power or subverting it. Although there were obviously backups and redundancies built into the system, Tonaras had calculated that they could sow chaos for the crucial first day or so of the coup. Even the military response would be slowed, as rail lines were without power, traffic lights wouldn't work, anything like that. As well as that, with the secret police and the Viakoloutai, the Logothesion ton Ilektrikon's armed police, they could seize control of much of the infrastructure and centres of power. With a resurgent Gharoi menace to the north and deployments to Ceris, Tonaras calculated that the military would acquiesce to any changeover of civil leadership, so long as he was careful to give them the sort freedom and glory that they had come to expect under Kommodos. And if the democratisation facade was kept up with Niketas on board, then the ordinary Arhomaioi would follow on, too. In all, Tonaras was satisfied that the plan would succeed and he would see a smooth accension to the Leopard Throne. The only stumbling block as yet would be to the elimination of the old tyrant and getting the Church to back him. With regards to the former, it would only be a matter of seizing the opportunity when it was presented. The latter he was less concerned about. Kommodos had never been a particular friend of the Church, especially after he and the former monarch, Theodosios VI, had meddled in church affairs and got Maurikios Amfonos appointed as Patriarkhes Nikolaos IX of Tzankheia. That was still a black mark in their eyes against Kommodos and Tonaras assumed that they would just fall in line. He put his book down and closed his eyes, relaxing in the sunlight that was falling on the patio. All in all, it was good to have some time off from one's job. It allowed one time to think.
  10. To: the Foreign Minister of the Federation of @Anatea From: the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion Your Excellency, There has never been any formal relations between the Federation of Anatea and the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion, the Greater Holy Empire of Arome. It is felt by my government that it is time that this be addressed. Aurelia remains something of a distant and far off continent to the nations of Europa, although we have established relations with some of the countries of that land. Aurelia is seen as mysterious and exotic, one of the last undiscovered parts of the wurld, alongside the central deserts of Alharu. That it has taken some time for Arhomaneia to attempt to open relations with your great nation is not meant to be a slight against your country or your people, but it is due to the ever changing nature of the wurld around us. As your government has undoubtedly seen, unrest and conflict casts a long shadow across much of Eurth. This has meant that the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, the Holy Imperial Government, has perhaps not been as attentive to the distant corners of the wurld as it should have been. Although our nations have had little in the way of contact, I am sure that what we have in common far outweighs our nations' differences. Those differences that we might have can be put aside readily, in favour of peaceful relations, which will flourish into cooperation and mutually beneficial friendship in the years. In order to foster relations between our two great nations, I have been requested by His Aroman Majesty, Kommodos III, by the Grace of Christ the God, Agios Basileos kai Autokrator ton Arhomaion, to suggest that our nations undertake an exchange of embassies. If your government accepts, then I can forward the credentials of a potential ambassador and begin to select a possible site for your nation's chancery within Tagmatika, my nation's capital. I do not doubt that this will be the start of a long and happy relationship between our nations. May God grant our nations everlasting peace between us, Eugenios Goulielmos Megas Logothetes of the Logothesion ton Barbaron of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion
  11. They were just alternative suggestions to the island. I'm sure we sort something out. I'm not sure where we stand now that @Limonaia may have quit.
  12. Evangela waited in the vestibule of the Palati tou Exarkhou, Leontios standing just behind her. He was partially there to take the expected visitor's coat but also as moral support. The old lady had a carefully neutral expression on her face but even someone who didn't know her that well would be able to tell that the look was covering a sense of nervousness. A nervousness that would surprise any of the people of her country, as the woman had a reputation for being formidable. The guest was to arrive at nine o'clock at night, late enough that there would be few pedestrians in the street to catch a sight of them arriving at the Megas Kritissa's house but not so late that it was remarkable in itself. A sign of the Megas Kritissa's nerves and discomfort was that she had been waiting in the hall since half eight. Every now and then, Leontios opened his mouth to ask if his employer was feeling well, but he closed it again. She wouldn't appreciate his concern. He occasionally shifted on his feet, feeling uncomfortable in the draughts. Arkadios sat behind the pair of them, confused as to why his mistress was waiting in the draughty hallway when there were much warmer rooms he could be snuggled up in. After a while, he yawned and lay down on the floor, sprawling out so that if either Leontios or Leotykhidissa had wanted to get past him and deeper into the building, they would have had to step over him. A fourteen stone dog would be hard to manoeuvre around. The sound of the clock in the hall to the right of the door started to become more prominent. The eyes of both the Megas Kritissa and Leontios were drawn to it. It was past nine o'clock. The guest had said that they were coming and it was always a foolish move to spurn the head of a nation. The old woman finally moved and shifted on her feet. There was a knock at the door from one of the Taxiotai honour guard standing outside the building and three in the hallway jumped. The big dog had fallen asleep where he was lying. Almost as soon as the knock echoed around the room, the door swung open as one of the police pushed it to allow the guest in. “Good evening, Megas Kritissa Leotykhidissa,” said the guest, almost as soon as he had stepped through the door. “It has been some time since we last met. It was this very place, wasn't it?” The guest was a former Megas Krites himself, Evangela's predecessor, Ioannes Hegesinos. He was a tall man, over six foot, with a salt-and-pepper beard, although his head was shaved. He might have been handsome, had his right cheek not been slightly marred by some slight scars. He entered into the vestibule and the door was closed behind him. Leontios stepped forward and took his coat. Hegesinos bowed towards Leotykhidissa, once his coat had been taken. She returned the bow, although she did not answer directly. “Good evening, Kyrios Hegesinos,” Leotykhidissa replied. “I hope this not too late in the evening for you?” “I must admit, I was somewhat taken aback by your request for a meeting,” he said, ignoring her question as she had ignored his. He spoke with a breezy charm, which did not really covering up his own curiosity, or hostility. “Especially one so late at night. It's almost as if you have something to hide.” The smile he gave the old lady at the end of the sentence made her frown. It was quite obvious she had something to hide – this very meeting. At the very least, it would look somewhat strange. The two had been very opposed when Hegesinos had been in office, as he had been in favour of warmer relations with the Megas Agios Basileia and she was utterly against such an idea. And she had stood against Hegesinos when the election had come around in 2010 and decisively defeated him, although there would have been very little that he could have done to win by that point. The tyrant on the Leopard Throne had done that much. Before the Megas Kritissa could reply, Arkadios had got to his feet and padded forward to sniff at the stranger, tail wagging despite the edge of hostility in the air. He stepped forward and Hegesinos ruffled the big dog's ears, who responded by trying to lick the hand that was touching him. “Please follow me through to the study, Kyrios Hegesinos,” the Megas Kritissa said. She turned before she could see if the man was moving behind her. “I'm sure you remember the way.” Hegesinos raised an eyebrow at Leontios, who did not respond at all, but followed him in turn. The ex-head of state shrugged to himself and disengaged from the dog, who quickened his pace so that he could be behind Evangela. The building was warm at night and the heating had been on all day, even though it was beginning to be a fine spring. The temperature still dipped below freezing at night, especially on a clear night like it was. The Megas Kritissa seemed to be in a hurry but Hegesinos wasn't. It was the first time he had been in the residence since he had been voted out of office and he was interested in how the old building had changed. At first glance, little seemed to be different, despite the fact that an old widow lived there now, rather than a family with children. The biggest difference was the large dog that walked along in front of him. There was the occasional sign of his presence in the building – a discarded dog toy in a corner, for example, or a lead hanging from the hooks where Leontios had hung his coat. Once he was in the study, he found the Megas Kritissa had already taken a seat, not at the desk that dominated one side of the room, but in an armchair in a corner. She sat, staring at nothing, whilst playing with the ears of the big dog, who had his chin on her leg. Hegesinos frowned and looked around for a chair. The aide had disappeared off somewhere before he had got to the study. With no obvious option other than the other armchair opposite Leotykhidissa, who did not seem inclined for a conversation, Ioannes took the seat behind the desk. As soon as he sat down, his eyes caught on a sheaf of paper on the desk. Involuntarily, he read the first line and his head snapped back up to stare at the old woman, who was still looking off into the distance. “Read it,” she said. Suddenly, Hegesinos was angry. Angry at this little old woman, who dragged him away from his house on a cold night, who had painted him the stooge of a tyrant during the last years of his incumbency as Megas Krites and who had cost him much more than an election with her nationalistic zeal. “No,” he said, his voice calm but the hostility that had been in the air since he arrived crystallising. A clock on a side table struck a quarter past nine. “You can't just 'invite' me to a late night meeting and command me to do things, Megas Kritissa. You know that very well. That was a stick you beat me with, after all. All you did was say I was a puppet for Tagmatika. I acted with the best intentions of my country at heart.” “I know,” the old lady replied, quietly. “So do I. Read it.” Hegesinos didn't want to. Partially out of spite of the hateful old woman but also partially out of fear. He was worried he might read something that he would come to regret. Some state secret that would cost him, or his family, dear. But what secrets like that did the Hexanesa actually have? He loved his country but he also knew that it was an isolated backwater. Even the country, Tagmation, that the credulous feared was ready to take them over at any moment was no longer looking towards them. Its attention was to its own border in the north or across the sea to an island ravaged by conflict and misery. Before Ioannes could snarl out a comeback and storm out of the room, Leontios opened the door, carrying a tray with tea, biscuits and carafe of wine with two glasses. The aide frowned slightly when he saw Hegesinos sat behind the desk and his employer sat in an armchair but quickly placed the tray on a side table and put out the drinks before retreating out of the room again. It almost seemed as if he didn't want to know what was going on within the study. The phrase “plausible deniability” crept into Hegesinos' head. He shuddered involuntarily. As if to confirm that idea, the Megas Kritissa waited until the door clicked closed before saying anything else. She picked up her cup and saucer but didn't drink from it. Instead, she just stared down into the cup. “Hegesinos, at this moment you are the only person whose opinion I want to hear.” Her voice was little more than a whisper. “Read it. Please.” At that last word, Ioannes' resolve to spite the woman wore down. The stern old lady who had been a bulwark for the islands through the turbulent events of the the last decade seemed so small and frail at that moment. With a sigh, he looked down at the paper in front of him and started to read it. It wasn't, as it turned out, that long a document. When he got to the end he looked up at Evangela, laughed to himself, at himself, at her or all of those and read it again. And for a third time. He then sat back and drank the tea in one long swallow before getting up, pouring himself a glass of wine and taking a long drink. Only when he had half drained the glass did he sit back down and look over at Leotykhidissa. It was a long, long look and she seemed to wilt under it. He only stopped staring when the big dog looked around to see why his owner wasn't stroking his head any more. Arkadios' eyes then looked over to see the strange man staring at her and his hackles started to rise. Hegesinos realised that whilst the dog did seem to be a big softie, it was ultimately big – probably weighing more than he did and certainly with bigger teeth. He sat down and felt tired, much more tired than he would usually at this time of night. “You plan to do everything that you accused me off,” Ioannes said, a sardonic edge to his voice. “And more.” At heart, Hegesinos was a pan-Aromanist, if such a phrase existed. He firmly believed that if the Aroman people could work together, then they would truly be a force for good in the wurld. At times, Tagmation and Adaptos had worked together and the wurld had been moved for the better. If the other Aroman nations, the Hexanesa and Sporseia could also join that, then only great things could come from it. Part of the shine had been knocked from that as Tagmation had lost a monarch who had humanity, to be replaced by a cold autocrat with a willingness to sweep aside those who stood against him. And then Adaptos had once again plunged into isolation. “I know.” She still stared into the cup of tea in her hands. “I wanted you to read it, to see what you thought of it. And whether I could convince you of what needs to be done.” “It isn't me that you need to convince.” He lifted his right hand from his lap and put it on the table. The Megas Kritissa's eyes were drawn to it. In the end, it hadn't been the growing strength of a resurgent Tagmation that had defeated Hegesinos' hopes for re-election, or the fact that Leotykhidissa was able to play on the fears for the country's independence, although those had made him unelectable to the people of the Hexanesa. What had truly destroyed his campaign in his own eyes were the threats to his life and his family. He had finally, although not formally, withdrawn from the campaign when a letter bomb had been delivered to his house. Unfortunately, it had been missed by both the Taxiotai and the Skouterioi. It took off the top joints of Hegesinos' index and middle fingers on his right hand and scarred his face when he had opened it. Leotykhidissa made all the right noises and her own campaign hadn't suffered in the long run, although she hadn't won in the landslide that had initially been predicted. The bomber had proved to be nothing more than a lone nationalist, obsessed with the Long War and the events after it. But it was enough for Hegesinos to realise that he could no longer have a political career. Leotykhidissa's eyes were still on the damaged hand. The warning could not be more explicit. Nor more of an accusation against her. “I imagine that they will come after you a lot harder than they did me,” the man carried on, although he moved his injured hand back onto his lap and out of sight. He had sat back in the padded desk chair and a slight grimace touched his mouth. It wasn't clear whether it was at his hand or what his words were pointing out. “They will see you as even more of a traitor than you painted me as.” The little old lady didn't look quite so withdrawn any more. The steel that the Hexanesa had come to expect from her flashed again. “No, I don't think they will. I hope to convince our people that this will be the best way towards the future.” Hegesinos breathed deeply and was silent for a bit. Long enough for Arkadios to settle down at the foot of the Megas Kritissa's chair and drift off to sleep. The clock on the side table chimed the hour. It had felt a lot longer than that since Ioannes had come to the Palati tou Exkarkhou. He drank the rest of his wine and noticed that, despite the old woman's firm tone and seemingly strong belief in her own actions, she had slipped into staring at the wall again. “I never blamed you for this,” Ioannes murmured, gesturing with his left hand towards the right side of his body. He was looking at nothing in particular, either. “As I said at the time, after the trial, it was clear it was the actions of an unstable individual. You might have been the spark that lit the fuse but I believed, and still believe, that if it hadn't been you, it would have been someone or something else.” He caught her eye, gave an ironic smile and twisted the knife further. “Although perhaps I might not have been the target that time.” That was mean. Perhaps too mean, but then the Megas Kritissa hadn't spent years having to stop herself before she picked up a cup or tried to do up buttons with the wrong hand. To disarm the barbs in that comment, he stood up and walked over to her. “I will, of course, help in any way that I can,” Hegesinos said. “I am not sure that what I can do will be all that helpful, though. There is too much baggage attached to me, even ten years later. I can talk to my friend in Tagmation, Isaakios Niketas, but he's got as much baggage attached to him as I have. I can show myself out.” He stood up straight and walked over to the door. As he put his hand on the door handle, he turned. “Good night, Megas Kritissa. May God give you the strength to see this through.”
  13. Although Khoiroboska should have been sat snug inside the IFV, she had decided to step out into the freezing winds to see the escort arrive. The Gharoi seemed to want to overawe the Arhomaioi with their arrival – an entire regiment to escort a platoon-sized element of the Ikatanoi. Again, it wasn't as if it wasn't something that they wouldn't do, either. It was the reason why the élite of the armed forces of Arhomaneia had been sent, not some group of semi-reservists from the Noumeroi. The tetrarkhes stood next to Demetrios as the thump of rotor blades drowned out every other noise before passing over them. Slowly but surely, the grinding of tracks broke through the wind blowing across the road and the escort emerged through the flurries of snow. “F*ckers,” said Demetrios. The single word had a lot of feeling in it and the tetrarkhes just nodded. Just being in the presence of the soldiers of her nation's ally made her feel grubby. The elaborate masks and barbaric image that they liked to project was usually just viewed with amused scorn by the Arhomaioi but now they could definitely seen as gore-soaked monsters. “Well, at least you're not going to have to shake hands with them,” replied Eudokia, shifting how her rifle hung across her chest. She didn't want to be holding it in a threatening manner when the escorts drew to a stop but there was the ever present danger of Kousseioi trying to defend their homeland to worry about. “Pity the boss for that. He might get the blood from their paws on him.” The other soldier nodded emphatically, causing a cascade of snow to drop from the top of his helmet where it had built up during the time he had been outside. A wet slurp in the slush at the side of the armoured vehicles announced the arrival of several more soldiers. It was the commander himself and his platoon sergeant. From what Eudokia could see of either of their faces through the goggles that they wore against the awful weather, both of them were not happy with their circumstances. That wasn't really a surprise, however. No one in the observer force was particularly happy and morale was very low. But they were the proud Tagmata and made of sterner stuff than most other soldiers, either in the Basilikostrates or in any other armies on Eurth. The pair stopped alongside Eudokia and Demetrios and stood and watched as the Gharoi armoured column drew closer. “Is there much word from Kometon, kyrios?”, asked Eudokia, after pulling her scarf away from her mouth. The regiment had been surprisingly silent over the past few days, issuing the barest of orders and keeping the platoon in the dark. It wasn't sitting brilliantly well with the Ikatanoi, who weren't used be being treated in such a manner by their superiors. It had begun to fuel all sorts of rumours. The officer turned away from the approaching vehicles and shook his head. He pulled down his own scarf and fog of breath was snatched away by the blowing wind. One hand rested on the top of his bullpup rifle, a nod to the fact that all of them were feeling somewhat jumpy. The silence from the regimental command, being made to feel incredibly unwelcome by an ally and standing in the lands of another former ally as their country was erased from the map made for a confusing situation on the ground. The latest rumour that had been going around the IFV over the last few hours as they had waited for the escort to turn up was that the reason the regiment was keeping quiet was that shit had hit the fan somehow. The first idea floated was that the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion had finally had enough of the Exkousiokrateia's shit and declared war. That was immediately thrown out as being ridiculous, because one of the first things that would happen was the Gharoi would purge themselves of the observers. They knew where the platoon was, as they been told to meet there, and no aircraft had flown over head and dropped a stick of bombs on them. The second theory was on that theme – that either the Ghallamvrioi or the Iberikoi had come to blows with the Exkousiokrateia – but that was rejected for the same reasons as the first. The final one was that maybe the Exkousiokrator had been killed or assassinated and the northern barbarians were slowly crumbling into civil war. That was the reason for the delay, as the panic amongst the Gharoiki set in and battle lines were drawn up between erstwhile compatriots. It had just seemed like wishful thinking to the tetarkhes. People like him didn't meet sticky ends. After all, he was leading his country to a final victory over the Kousseioi, their ancient enemy. Even if it soured their relationship with the rest of the wurld, that would surely keep his people from killing him. Gharon might end up isolated for a while but they had been for sometime beforehand. That wouldn't really change much in the country. They didn't really have much to offer the rest of Eurth, anyway. Apart from snow and a bloated sense of self-satisfaction and superiority, which struck most Arhomaioi as entirely misplaced. “Not a f*cking word, tetrarkhes,” replied the spatharios-kentarkhes, the frown on his face intensifying. The long rank title denoted the higher place that the palace guard units had within the army. The first was actual rank of the officer, whilst the second was one that gave any Tagmata officer seniority over officers from other units. The first rank was the equivalent of lieutenant, the second was of captain. “It's almost as if the buggers want to keep us in the dark. All I know is that we've got to meet these f*cks here and we'll watch them as they trundle about the place.” He gestured towards the vehicles with his free hand and continued. “Not that we'll see anything. They won't want us seeing anything and, in all honesty, we don't want to see anything, either. It'll be too f*cking awkward if we did.” The ainiator, the platoon sergeant, shrugged. “Pretty much. But it's not as if the rest of the planet doesn't know what monumental arseholes the damned Gharoi are already.” There was silence for a moment. If the Gharoi hadn't been damned before, then their actions against the heathen Kousseioi and the heretic Gerenians would certainly assure them of that place now. The silence deepened as the Gharoi command vehicle drew up next to the rear Khalkaspides and the column of somewhat incongruous half-tracks stopped behind them in the road. The eyes of the Spatharios-Kentarkhes flicked up towards the 37mm gun on the turret of the IFV. Khoiroboska imagined that the officer was probably thinking of giving the order to open up on them. The large guns on the turrets of the Gharoiki AFVs certainly discouraged such thoughts, however. Tetrarkhes Khoiroboska drew herself up taller, as did the other three Arhomaiki soldiers. She was somewhat taken aback by the size of the Gharoiki soldier who unfolded himself from the back of the command vehicle. With an audible sigh, the platoon commander detached himself from the three Ikatanoi and walked over as smartly as he could whilst trying not to slide over in the icy slush. He stopped in front of the towering Ji Yagens and gave the traditional half bow. “Spatharios-Kentarkhes Oiskrates, Ikatanoi,” he said. The next part was in the best attempt at the Gharoiki tongue he could muster, having undertaken a course in the language before being deployed to the former Koussoeia. It was likely appalling. “I am the commander of this force of Arhomaiki observers.”
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