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Eclipse Of An Empire


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Today marked the tenth anniversary since the overthrow of Holy Emperor Valentinian II and the setting-up of the diarchy. Once this occasion would have been marked by mock-combat, military parades and other athletic or militaristic events. It was now just an excuse for drinking bouts and other decadence. Heraclius sometimes wondered whether it had all been worth it, as this was what he and Basilicus, the other co-Emperor, had attempted to get rid of.

 

Of course, it had not always been like this, Heraclius thought as he looked about the throne room, which was full of drunken Imperial and foreign dignitaries, yes-men and cronies surrounding the fat form of Basilicus. They had both worked hard, in the beginning, to rid the Holy Empire of the decay of the past century, and to rebuild the Imperial army which had been starved of cash for years. Both Heraclius and Basilicus were famed generals, of infantry and cavalry respectively, and had won the support of the army before taking the Imperial crown.

 

The first five years saw both the men rule like Emperors should, making Tagmatium again into one of the strongest powers in the region. But Basilicus had been increasingly drawn by drinking and debauchery, until Heraclius, the peasant’s son turned Imperial general, was the real power behind the throne. As Basilicus slid more and more into drink, Heraclius gained more and more power, whilst remaining sober at all times. This did sadden him, as he liked the man, who had once been one of the best tactical and administrative minds in the Holy Empire.

 

Laughter broke Heraclius’ train of though, and he looked up. On the stage at the end of the throne room, the traditional propaganda play of the events ten years ago was being played out. The end of the play saw the two heroic generals burst into the cowardly, drunken Valentinian’s throne room and face him down, and it ended when the wretched Holy Emperor jumped out of the window rather than face divine justice, in payment of his destruction of Tagmatium. The play said how Valentinian preferred to drink and spend money on palaces than to prevent Tagmatium from decaying more. It was never like that…

 

Valentinian looked up as the doors to his throne room opened, and the two Imperial generals were escorted in by the Imperial House Guards. The Guardsmen stood to attention, but Valentinian motioned them and the rest of his servants out. He was a man of sixty-seven, still tall and well built. He had a keen mind, and was working to repair Tagmatium. But he had heard that these two generals were gathering support from the Imperial armies and were planning usurpation. This upset the old man, as he both liked and trusted the generals, and Tagmatium would sorely miss their keen minds. He rose from behind his desk

 

“I expect you know why I have called you here. I have received disturbing reports that tell me of your schemes. It really does sadden me.” He looked down at his desk and shuffled some parchments.

 

“However, if you agree to my terms, you will be permitted to-“ Valentinian looked up to see an exchanged glance between the two men. It could mean only one thing.

“Bastards!” screamed the Holy Emperor as he ripped his sword, not the ceremonial one all at his hip, but an ancient, battered spathion from behind his desk. He leapt towards his two would-be assassins, who had drawn their own swords. A furious sword-fight ensued, the old man keeping his own against the younger generals. But Basilicus was able to hit him and hamstring him. As the Holy Emperor yelped in pain, Heraclius struck him with his paramerion and nearly severed his head.

 

The Imperial House Guards burst in. They would have sold their lives dearly for their sovereign had Valentinian still been alive, but now he was dead, heroically in combat; it was a case of “The Holy Emperor is dead! Long live the Holy Emperors!”

 

Heraclius awoke from his reverie as one of his courtiers nudged him on the shoulder.

Both co-Emperors still had the scars from Valentinian. Heraclius was missing the last two fingers on his right hand and the index from his left, whilst Basilicus possessed only one ear.. He looked about. The rest of the room was either unconscious with drink or in their own little worlds. The courtier had, however, alerted Heraclius for one reason. To see Basilicus walk out of the room. One of the co-Emperor’s habits was to, when very drunk, sit on the edge of the lion pit and remember past times.

 

Heraclius arose from his seat, and warned his courtier that no-one was to follow him. He tailed his co-Emperor to the edge of the lion pit, where he sat sobbing to himself.

 

Basilicus looked up.

 

“Ah, Heraclius, I didn’t hear you come in,” the man slurred.

 

“That was the idea,” Heraclius coolly replied, as he placed his foot on the co-Emperor’s back and pushed. The man was sent sprawling into the pit.

 

“What are you doing!?”

 

“Protecting the Holy Empire,” said Heraclius as he opened the gates to the lion pit. The animals would be agitated due to the noise, and it was a well known fact that the keeper sometimes left the gates open to allow them exercise at night. Most officials in the palace thought that it was only a matter of time before Basilicus had an accident. So what if Heraclius hurried it up? No one would find out, and he would be able to lead Tagmatium into a new golden age.

 

As he walked away, he could hear the sounds of the lions exiting their cages…

 


OOC Topic is to be found here.
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T'Thayaric looked across the plains and sighed. If it didn?t rain soon there would be no grasses to feed the horses, sheep and cattle. His people would starve. He looked to the heavens, not one damned cloud?why was the Great Stag punishing his children? What had they done to deserve this? A grunting cough pulled T'Thayaric from his musings. He turned his horse and looked at the other chiefs and smiled inwardly to himself. Not 2 years ago, none would have though that such a meeting would have been possible. The clans had warred incessantly for as long as any one could remember and the only times chiefs had meet was either to make temporary alliances or on the battlefield. Never before had they all met together under a banner of peace. The grunting cough became more insistent. T'Thayaric looked at its owner and spoke:

 

?T?Ka, you have something to say, or does the dust merely claw in your throat??

 

T?Ka grimaced and spat. One of the older chiefs and a renowned warrior T?Ka?s heavily tattooed and weather beaten face was disfigured by a scar that ran from temple to nose on its left side. His terrifying appearance was made worse by the fact that the same wound that had scarred his face had removed his left eye. He did not cover the empty socket.

 

?Why have you called us here??

 

There were a number of grunts of agreement from other chiefs.

 

T'Thayaric looked around at the assembled chiefs before returning his gaze to T?Ka. As he did so there was a slight clinking as the gold torque he wore around his neck was bushed by the gold and semi-precious stone beads in his hair.

 

?Our herds will die if we stay here. And if our herds die, we die. We must leave Than-A-Kai (OOC: the Akiiryan name for the plains on which they live at this time).?

 

A younger chief, T?Rothric, snorted.

 

?Leave? And go where??

 

?South.?

 

?South? To the lands of the childskins? Are you mad? We can not hope to stand against their legions.?

 

T'Thayaric smiled and shook his head.

 

?Maybe that was the case in our fathers? fathers? days and before, but it is not the case now. The childskins have become weak. Their cities,? T'Thayaric spat, ?have made them fat and dulled their swords. My clan?s raids on their settlements near our lands have met little resistance in the last few years. Their lands are green, green as Than-A-Kai in the days of our forefathers, and their cities are also full with gold.? He halted for a few seconds before continuing, knowing he had to chose his words carefully. ?If we were to unite the clans their lands and our gold could be ours.?

 

T?Ka looked at T'Thayaric, his one eye aflame

 

?Unite the clans? And who would lead them? You?

 

T'Thayaric stared back at T?Ka.

 

?Yes?

 

?By the Red Boar! Are we to be your serfs? To be chained to your will like some childskin peasant?? T?Ka face was quickly flushing with anger, and the other chiefs were also murmuring ominously .

 

T'Thayaric raised his hands in the traditional Akiiryan symbol of peace and continued.

 

?Peace T?Ka, peace! I have no intention of sitting in any of your saddles, nor do I wish to tie your topknots to my saddle horn. I wish to lead the clans against the childskins so that our people and our herds may live. Once we have taken the lands the clans will be free to do as they wish. I do not wish to change the old ways. Why should I lead? Because I know the childskins and their ways better than any of you. Surely a great warrior such as you can see the sense in this??

 

T?Ka grunted and seemed to relax a little, but a storm of anger and distrust still clouded his face. He did not answer for some minutes.

 

?I must speak to my liegemen.?

 

T'Thayaric nodded, ?of course, I would expect no less.?

 

T?Ka turned his horse and rode back towards his encampment. The other chiefs did likewise leaving T'Thayaric alone. He was relieved that his gamble had seemed to have paid off. In the past to even suggest taking leadership of the clans would have been unthinkable. Now it seemed that the chiefs were prepared to consider allowing one single man to lead all the clans, albeit for a short time. The Great Stag certainly moved in mysterious ways.

 

OOC: There you go guys.

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Constantine, a captain of a company in the 92nd Scutatii battlaion, threw the dregs of his mug of tea into the fire and stood up, stretching his aching limbs, glad that he wasn?t wearing his armour at that moment. His unit has seen a fair part of the fighting in the day?s battle, a small-scale border skirmish between a couple of battalions of the People?s Guard and some barbarians from the north.

 

As usual, they had crossed the river to plunder the rich pickings of the south and had expected no resistance, fooled by memories of a weakened Tagmatium. They had, however, run into a strong mixed force of cavalry and infantry. A hard fight had ensued, but the barbarians? usual tactics failed them and they were caught attempting to flee across a horse-shoe bend in the Abona river and were cut to pieces.

 

?Hey, captain, what do you notice about the barbarians? horses??

 

Constantine looked up from the fire and into the scarred face of his lieutenant, Cocidius, and then at the captured horses tied to a crude hitching post. He hadn?t seen it before, but now that his lieutenant mentioned it?

 

?They?re all really thin! Almost like skeletons!?

 

?Exactly, captain. Too thin to have been much use in their usual tactics of running away.?

 

Constantine nodded now. It made sense. In the majority of this sort of engagement, these barbarian horse archers would stay well out of any combat, peppering the Imperial troops with arrows before withdrawing out of the way of any counter-attack. This time, the under-fed horses had been too weak to do this, and they were caught in the horse-shoe bend to be annihilated by the heavier Tagmatine troops.

 

?But why do you think they are thinner. Some sort of drought or famine in their pastures??

 

?Probably, sir,? Cocidius shrugged. ?A bloke I know in the Galloper section says this isn?t a normal raid, either. He says that some Caballarii caught this lot?s wagons a few miles away. They wouldn?t have taken their families with them if this were just a smash-and-grab attack.?

 

Constantine nodded. Just at that moment, a trumpeter blew the signal for everyone to collect their gear and form up into ranks to prepare for the march back to the base. This stopped the rest of the conversation, as each man concentrated on putting back on their armour and equipment.

Edited by Tagmatium Rules (see edit history)
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earthsea-sunset.jpg

The sun had already begun to descend hours ago, when what looked like a fast merchant vessel pulled into the old stone harbour of Teos. The late summer sky filled the docks with a warm, orange glow. From deep within the ship, the dark wood of the hull creaked as the sailors were preparing to moor. "Ahoy there!", one of the men shouted, "Can you give us a hand with the rope?" A few fishermen, who were repairing their nets after a fruitful day at sea, heard the call and strolled towards the pier.

...

It was a quiet evening for Tamira. The children were outside, playing in the evening sun, and she was making preparations for the tomorrow's meal: some hot and cold vegetables, followed by a tagine, and a bread. No fish this time. Tamira had to make sure not to spend too much money, as the family savings were running low now.

"Tamira! Tamira! Where are you Tamira?!", a woman shouted!

"I'm in the kitchen..", Tamira replied, wondering what was the reason for such a noise

The woman entered; it turned out to be her older sister, who lived near the docks.

"You wont' believe it! You won't believe it!", her sister kept yelling excitedly!

"Calm down sister, and tell me why you are screaming like that."

"The harbour, the docks, you must come! Your husband has come home!"

The children heard a scream. When they turned around to see where the noise had come from, Tamira and her sister were already running down the street, heading for the harbour.

...

It was with great pleasure that Empress Fuyami (1288-1298) received the news that the explorers she had send out months ago had finally returned home safely. Her heralds had already delivered the message that the captain was to present his findings to the council, but everyone understood the sailors needed some time with their families first. It was already dark outside when captain Uma arrived at the conference chamber of the imperial council. He had enjoyed being united with his wife and children again, and couldn't believe how much the little one had grown already. But he was also anxious about what still lay ahead of him: reporting his findings to the council. Although Uma did not recognise any of the faces he saw staring at him, he knew they belonged to the eminent women and men who shaped the daily policy of the empire. What should he tell them? How would they respond? And what would they think after he had told them he could not find any land where the sun rises, beyond the deep waters of the sea?

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Li Shunjin was the man to talk to when it came to trade in northern Europa. He controlled nearly all of the spice trade going in and out of the Borean straits. Ships from Ide Jima were few and far between, but every load of spice was worth a fortune. Although he was only part of a minority of about 30 Ide Jimans in all Tagmatium, he possessed much more power back in Ide Jima. For years, Basilicus had supported the trade between Ide Jima and Tagmatium, whilst Heraclius hadn't - he had always held a strong dislike toward Shunjin.

---

Shunjin took a breath from the opium pipe in his harborside warehouse and gazed out to sea. It had been a long time since a trade ship had come from Ide Jima, and Shunjin planned on returning once more before he got too old.

It was a sunny day, and as Shunjin and his entourage prepared to leave, a small boy ran to him and told him of Basilicus' murder. This wasn't what Shunjin had wanted. Basilicus' death could only mean one thing, that Heraclius was at the helm, which did not bode well at all.

It was clear Shunjin would have some thinking to do, which is what he did as his wagon rolled back to the Mansion he called home. Something would have to be done, he was certain. Heraclius could end his monopoly without lifting a finger (and he probably would) so, he would have to send some mail back to his prefecture in Ide Jima, asking for some troops and money to help get rid of Heraclius...

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OOC: Opium pipe!? Christ, he?d be completely off his tits, surely?

 

Plus, Ide, everyone?s supposed to think that Basilicus had a nasty accident when pissed, rather it being a murder. That?ll come out later.

 

IC:

 

Heraclius looked at the maps spread out on the large oaken table in front of him. Running an Empire as large as Tagmatium took all the wit and guile used in planning a campaign against an entrenched enemy on their home ground, but this time the enemies were not a clearly defined army or state, but embezzlers and corrupt officials, lax administration and poor communication, dishonest farmers and lazy workers. All these things conspired against every state in the world, from one the size of Tagmatium down to some petty barbarian statelet, consisting of just a village and the few square miles of pasture outside of it. Military matters were one thing, but civil matters also had to be taken into consideration. Add to this a powerful organisation concerned with spiritual matters and the large bureaucracy in the region, and the result was a harder task than Heraclius had ever faced as the most senior infantry officer in the Imperial army. Although a new oddity had surfaced in the last few weeks, reports of more raids against the northern borders and towns, although this wasn?t anything particularly new. Heraclius had put it down to some natural factor causing the barbarians to resume attacks on the Greater Holy Empire, raids like those under the previous Emperors, before the Diarchy took over. But, to be on the safe side, he had moved another corps into the area.

 

He brushed the maps aside and took out trade registers. A frown passed over his face as he was reminded about the Ide Jimans. They were controlling the spice and silk trade to the Empire more than he liked, too much so. He?d tried to encourage Tagmatine farmers to grow the spices, but most of the crops died as soon as they were put in the soil, or the farmers themselves mysteriously vanished. The same with the attempts to make silk. Christ, he?d even tried to make it on one of his own personal estates, but the buildings had mysteriously burned down. Heraclius blamed one man and one man only. Li Shunjin. Basilicus had fostered a good relation with the man, and attempted to increase trade with the southern Empire, the only other one Tagmatium recognised as another Empire, putting aside its usual claim of ?One God, one Empire? that was ordinarily the case. The Holy Emperor, however, thought that this was allowing money to slip through Tagmatine fingers. Of course, Li Shunjin had denied all of these accusations, pointing out that the culprits had been found by local Trapezitae units, but Heraclius knew that they had been hired thugs in the pay of the rich Ide Jiman. But Li Shunjin just laughed it off, as he had the patronage of one of the two ruling Emperors. Well, that had changed now. It was tempting to send a detachment of Imperial Household Guards around to the man?s mansion and arresting him. But that would be sacrificing good relations with another state for no good reason, other than gold, and Heraclius didn?t put profit before realism.

 

The Emperor straightened up from the desk, thinking to himself still. There were only two problems at this moment, the increase in barbarian raids and that arsehole Li Shunjin. Both were insignificant, and could easily be brought under control, if the barbarian problem was not already.

 

It was now time to meet various dignitaries from some of the outlying themes and tributary states, probably to have them whinge at him about too high taxes or tributes. Often, it would take a military show of strength to bring them back into line, but Heraclius didn?t mind doing that. Often the best parents were the harshest?

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Emperor Golius was out hunting with several of his aristocratic friends in the woods south of his lavish estate. The group were crouding round a dead dear, which Golius had just shot with his bow, when a messenger boy from the palace galpoed up toward the group atop the Emperors fastest steed.

 

"My Lord, it seems Basilicus has died, fell into a lion pit during a drunken spell."

 

Golius turned his head toward the messengers direction, then looked back at the other members of his group.

 

"Would you please excuse us." His horse kicked, and troted backward slightly, and he moved forward to join the messenger. "Well, this shouldnt harm us much, Basilicus, and Heraclius both had a similar veiw on us, as long was we continue our tributes, we should be able to continue."

 

"Yes sir, and word from the west is that the Ashtons are amassing at Heldinium."

 

"Well, tell Prince Balisus to head with an army that way."

 

"Yes my lord."

 

The messenger rode off toward the palace, which could be seen on top a hill, surrounded by forest. At current, the Imerians were at war with the Ashtons, two states which would later partly form Adaptus, but for now, the strongest out of the five states was the Imeria Empire, which would later be the main founder of Adaptus as a united kingdom. But for now, it was walking in the shadow of the mighty Tagmatium, and was under it's influance.

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T?Ka Looked down on the unsuspecting Tagmatine villages in the wide river valley with grim look on his heavy face. He turned to T?Thayaic who was beside him.

 

?If we take these lands, there will be enough water and fodder for the clans and their herds for at least three or four months, but after that we?ll have to move on. This valley is only big enough for one of the larger clans for a long period of time.?

 

Much had changed since the meeting a month a go. The clans had voted to follow T?Thayaic?s advice and move south. T?Ka and T?Thayaic had increasingly become friends, well, as close to friends two Akiiryan chiefs could be. T?Ka was surprised how quickly the other chiefs had been convinced by T?Thayaic?s plan... the threat of starvation seemed to have disspelled and doubts they might have had. Only one fool of a chief, T'Baka, had refused outright. His clan, which had suffered more than most, had already lost numerous warriors and their families to ill advised raids on Tagmatium that had been motivated as much by desperation as by a lust for booty. It was no surprise when his son challenged him for the position of chief after he his refusal was made known to his clan. The ensuing fight had been as one-sided as the voting.

 

Another rider approached the men. As he drew close gestured respectfully to them before turning to T?Ka and issuing his report in a low voice. T?Ka listened intently before turning to T'Thayaic.

 

?No imperial troops to be seen and there are no watchers anywhere. Eeya, these child skins are fools! Too long have the slept in the comforting shadow of their emperor! It is time we took their lands for the clans!?

 

T?Thayaic nodded.

 

?Yes, and their farms.?

 

T'Ka nodded.

 

"Yes, and their farms. The peasants will be of much use to us."

 

(OOC: The horse clans, while mainly nomadic, do practice limited farming...although they have much to learn from the Tagmatine peasants they are about to capture. The hill clans and the sea clans have more experience farming. )

 

He stared at the villages below for some seconds before continuing.

 

?Have you received word from the sea and mountain chiefs yet??

 

?No, not yet, but their clans have not suffered as much as ours from The Great Stag?s anger so they may not feel the need to join us.?

 

T?Ka snorted and mumbled curses under his breath before speaking.

 

?I am sure I could convince them.?

 

T?Thayaic nodded thoughtfully.

 

?Yes, but let us see what they say first?Are your warriors ready??

 

?Eeya, what do you take me and my clan for, child skins? They are always ready.?

 

?Good. Send them ahead to close the mouth of the valley. By sun up the clans shall begin to take what should be rightfully theirs.?

 

There was no battle. Tagmatine peasants awoke to the sounds of thousands of horses pounding across the valley and by the time they had gathered their wits their villages gates had been broken down. Village headmen were dragged in front the clans' chiefs who demand they submit to the clans. Those who foolishly refused, prehaps hoping that by some miracle the legions of their emperor would magically appear and save them in their time of need, were beheaded in front of their fellow villagers. The question would then be asked again of the next most senior villager and would continue to be asked until the village submited. Submission generally came quickly. Those few villagers who attempted an armed resistance were cut down where they stood. Frighten peasants with pitchforks and grain flails presented little trouble to Akiiryan warriors who had be brought up to fight since the day of their birth. By day break the clans controlled the valley and the chiefs, under the direction of T'Ka and T'Thayaic, were preparing to consolidate their gains.

 

 

OOC: Not the best I have ever written, but it gives you the general idea. I may add more to it later.

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Illius sat alone in his office, enjoying the breeze coming through the window. He often liked to sit in meditation like this; his office was like a private sanctuary, filled with all the things he loved. Much of the furnishings had been imported from his homeland north of Tagmatium and made the ambassador feel at home in the accursed Tagmatica. Large cherry bookcases dominated two of the four walls, their surface polished to perfection and the impressive array of books they housed hinted at the wealth and intellect of their owner. Ambassador Volan could spend hours locked in here, reading and meditating or just looking out over the capital of Tagmatium from the room?s balcony. Currently, Illius sat at his desk, pouring over the incessant paperwork that came with his position. Reports had to be filed, news had to be examines, time had to be murdered brutally. What a waste, in Illius?s mind. Nothing truly important had happened in a while, the status quo dragged on? until today.

 

A reserved knocking pulled Illius out of his thoughts and papers abruptly; he stared at the door for a moment before a voice issued forth from the other side. ?Ambassador Volan, this is Mari; I bring urgent news,? spoke the wispy voice of a woman. Hearing her through the door was a supreme challenge, but Illius knew the voice of every person employed by the Embassy of Karthis; Mari never came without something important to tell him.

 

?You may enter, my dear,? said Volan; his deep baritone voice had a commanding overtone to it, but it was gentle at the same time. He set down his papers and adjusted his tiny golden spectacles as the door swung open and Mari entered. He watched her walk across the rich Miirosi carpet until she stopped in front of her desk, waiting expectantly. ?Mari, you look as radiant as ever. Please sit,? said Illius as he gestured to a plush leather armchair situated in front of his desk. ?Now, what news do you bring?? asked Illius, brushing a strand of his long, white hair away out of his eyes idly.

 

?Basilicus is dead, Ambassador,? she said with a knowing tone and sad look on her face. The mood in the room changed instantly; the weather seemed harsher, the furniture more severe, and tenseness permeated the air. Illius?s aged face had become grim and he stroked his beard idly with a gloved hand; he always did this when he was deep in thought.

 

?How?? he finally said, breaking the uncomfortable silence. His voice did not have a trace of sadness, but rather a weary and cautious tone.

 

?They are all saying that it was an accident, that he was drunk and fell into the lion pit,? answered Mari quickly and obediently. She stared into the blue eyes of Volan, searching for a hint of what to do next. ?There are whispers though? some say it was staged. Irregardless, Basilicas is dead and Heraclius now rules Tagmatium. Alone.?

 

?Thank you for telling me this, Mari. Even when bringing bad news, it is a pleasure to see you,? answered Illius suavely. ?You may go now; lock the door as you leave.?

 

Mari smiled, despite herself and bid as the ambassador commanded.

 

Once the door had clicked shut and Illius heard it lock, Illius let out an irritated sigh.

?Basilicas, you drunken oaf, we needed you!? he thought, angrily. ?This upsets the balance, Tagmatium will grow too powerful with Heraclius running things. It is just a matter of time before Karthis loses what little independence it has left; Great Karthis may be the Emperor's first target to consolidate Tagmatine power in the region. This cannot happen; I cannot allow it to pass. Something must be done, but what?? So for a great while, Ambassador Illius Volan of the Kingdom of Karthis sat alone, stroking his beard with a gloved hand.

Edited by Miiros (see edit history)
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Heraclius sat on his throne, musing over the last hour?s events. Various representatives from several tributary states and the more distant themes had come and gone, spouting their usual drivel about needing lower taxes or tributes. As usual, they had been refused and now the Holy Emperor was considering the standard course of action. The deployment of a large Imperial force to put the fear of God back into them, and probably add one or two of the more minor semi-independent states to remind the rest of the clutch that Tagmatium was still God?s favoured nation, and the Holy Emperor was the Vice-Gerent of God on Earth, the Thirteenth Apostle, etc. The long and self-aggrandising list of titles did often seem to Heraclius as a bit long-winded and pointless, but he also knew that it was what was expected.

 

A door opened off to the throne?s left and a senior courtier walked in. The Holy Emperor looked up and nodded a greeting at the man.

 

?Ah, Vice Chancellor. Have you much to report??

 

The man bowed low, his head almost touching the floor. He wasn?t one of Basilicus? many lick-spittles and yes-men, but an independently-thinking and efficient minister.

 

?Nothing of much consequence, your Imperial and Most Holy Majesty, but something of high irritation. It appears, according to one of our spies, that Golius has once again taken to calling himself Emperor.?

 

The Holy Emperor sighed. It was common practice in Tagmatium to ignore every other nation that called its head of state Emperor, as Tagmatium insisted that there was only one Empire in Europa, just as there was only one God in heaven. Of course, this was relaxed as and when politics demanded, especially in the case of the Byzantine and Ide Jiman Empires in the south of the region.

 

?Well, Ambrosius, I think I may let it slide for a while. At this moment, it isn?t much of an issue. But it will have to be pressed with him once this whole situation of my dear friend and colleague, Basilicus, passing away has died down.?

 

As soon as he said that, the head of a woman dressed in black mourning clothes snapped up to look at Heraclius. Something in the Holy Emperor?s tone had made her suspicious.

 

?You murdered him, didn?t you!?? She screamed.

 

The courtiers and officials in the throne room stiffened and went silent. Heraclius himself had managed to put a look of outrage upon his face.

 

?Empress Hypathia, you cannot surely mean that??

 

The woman stood up. ?Of course I do, you murdering-?

 

The Holy Emperor caught the eye of one of the several guards in the room and nodded. Several red-cloaked guardsmen walked over to the Empress and led her out of the room. As she was taken from the room, Heraclius stood up.

 

?It appears that Hypathia has become slightly crazed by the death of her husband. The very idea that I could have played any part in the death of my co-Emperor, who I regarded as a brother, is in no way true. We ruled Tagmatium together for ten years, and there is no way I would have ever considered taking Basilicus? life.?

 

Although such an outburst would undoubtedly have sown some form of doubt in courtiers present, especially those who had profited most out of Basilicus? favouritism, thought the Holy Emperor. That foolish woman would have to be confined to a convent somewhere until she calmed down, or more preferably, did the decent thing and died.

 

OOC: Sorry, that feels like a bit of a lazy post, but I'm sort of out of ideas at the moment. I'd like it if this was fairly slow-moving at first. People can use the next page or so to introduce their nations at this time, or something.

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The low bow of the ship cut through the water, it was a trade vessel - carrying the spices that had made Shunjin so rich. It had outrun the pirates and cut through the Sevrun Sea in a time of unusual calm. The ship was small, compared to the giant war galleys that had sailed out of Weihan into the northern wastes several hundred years ago. It carried enough spice and silk to make half the ship's weight in gold, and Shunjin would definitely need this if he were to complete his aim of maintaining his monopoly in luxury goods.

 

The ship slipped into the blue waters of the harbor, where Shunjin was waiting, eager to hear news from the homeland. The captain of the ship entered the warehouse immediately, and bowed. He took a sip of some wine and spluttered "tastes like piss" before realising that he was in polite company - for about the first time in a year. Having offered apologies, the captain began to tell Shunjin of news from the Ide Jiman Empire.

 

"How are my lands and my family?" Asked Shunjin, eager to know what his further family who did not live in Tagmatium with him, were up to.

 

"Your lands were safe at the time we left, but we have bought some grave news."

 

"What is it?"

 

"Civil war has broken out, the Shoguns of Tutong have once more challenged the Emperor's right to rule over the north of the country. One of your cousins has risen in support of Tutong - however I do not think the emperor will hold anything against you for that"

 

"That is bad news, you must send troops to aid the emperor"

 

"Your uncle has done that already, it strips you of any chance of getting warriors up here."

 

"That is indeed grave news. I pray to the mountain gods that my uncle should not come to fight his own treacherous son. For now though, what is in the hold of your vessel?"

 

"Saffron, Jasmin, a lot of other spices, Silk, some Jade..."

 

"A full hold"

 

"Yes"

 

"Excellent, you and your crew may expect a very generous pay rise because of this"

 

"Thank you sir"

 

"One more thing, what happened to the other ship? That came last time?"

 

"I'm not sure sir, people say they saw a Weihan vessel being used by pirates in the Morutau straits"

 

"Bastards..." Shunjin muttered... "You are to take this," he said counting out paper money onto the table - a seemingly radical concept in parts of Europa, "And buy two new ships to replace it upon reaching Weihan. I shall write a letter, you shall take it to my estate and give it to my uncle. He will reward you generously for your trouble. How long do you intend to stay here?" He asked, looking up from having counted the money out on the small table.

 

"One week sir, then we leave for Weihan"

 

"Very well, you and your crew shall stay on my estate, for now though, go and enjoy yourselves, there are a hundred good taverns and prostitutehouses in this town"

 

"Yes Sir, I shall see you later"

 

--------

 

Shunjin left the warehouse in lower spirits than he would do normally after receiving a shipment. The combined effects of war at home and a change in emperor in his other home had taken away the joy from becoming even richer than he had been previously.

 

The sedan chair moved up past the harbour back towards his house, but Shunjin liked this town and the country, and he would like it even more if someone he could trust was in power, he just had to find somebody who was also disgruntled by this shift in leadership.

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The various units of the Imperial army had definitely been seeing a lot more action recently, especially in the north. Tribes of herder-barbarians had been spilling into the territory of the Greater Holy Empire, into the fertile river valleys of the northern frontiers. Drought was pushing them south, drought and the emergence of a new power on the dusty steppes. That didn?t faze the Greater Holy Empire. It would take more than a uncivilised, barbaric rabble to break the back of the four hundred year old state. The tide of the unclean hordes would wash against the breakwater of Imperial shields and evaporate into the air, retreating back onto the empty steppes.

 

This, however, was far away from the men of the 92nd Scutatii battalion. Their deployment was to the south of the Greater Holy Empire, in an attempt to remind the vassal monarchies and republics that Tagmatium was still undeniably in charge. This little campaign?s objectives was just to march about the countryside for a period, showing overwhelming force and maybe taking some relatives of the petty rulers hostage to guarantee their good behaviour in the future.

 

The battalion was marching down a sunny country road in early May, on the way to knock upon the gates of the capital of a small republic called Damascium, a small but rich trading city state. Captain Constantine had a bit of a feeling that it wasn?t going to be a simple affair. He put his hand on the hilt of his sword, and looked down the lane. The capital was still a few miles off, over the crest of a hill and on the coast. The Damascines would be expecting them, undoubtedly. Peasants in the fields had fled to the capital, bringing reports of the advancing Imperial forces.

 

Constantine looked down the line of marching troops. The midday sun was glinting of rows of spear-points and helmets, whilst the rippling mail had an effect that was like sun off the sea. The plodding forms of the cavalry were in front, and behind them came several battalions of psiloi, some armed with mysterious bronze tubes bolted onto wooden cross frames. Cocidius, the lieutenant, saw his senior officer looking at them.

 

?Have you seen those things being used yet, sir?? He asked.

 

The captain shook his head.

 

?Well, what they do ? Well, it looks like you?ll be able to see first hand.?

 

Over the crest of the hill came a line of infantry. Constantine?s feeling was right, and the Damascines weren?t going to be pushed around this time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Duke Laren tasted the refreshing breeze, then spit out the sand it had carried. This pitiful excuse for a war, that had been going on for centuries, had caused pointless deaths for little honour. The people all carried the same blood, but refused to live under the same crown. Indeed they all rallied to fight under one banner, so they wouldn't live under one. That banner now belonged to Hetman Yuself, just one of the many names that had gathered armies, because they feared the power of the bloodline of the Dukes. This time however it was different. The constant struggle hadn't weakened the position of Laren's ancestors, on the contrary, it had made them only stronger. This time they brought the fight to the plains, to their lands, their homes.

 

Before him on the barren plains tribes had collected their men. Thousands of horses eagerly trampeled and an enormous amount of footmen shouted warcries and taunts, while banging their weapons on their shields. Archers fired a couple of arrows to the hill in front of them, on which stood Duke Laren and his faithful lords beholding the battlefield, but they where standing too far for the arrows to have any effect.

 

A silent nod of the Duke signalised a mounted soldier, who waved his flag two times high up in the air. The barbarians slowely saw a mass amount of soldiers appear on top of the hill. More signals where given and more soldiers marched from both sides of the hill. Native archers fired some rounds, but where ineffective. Suddenly these provocations where answered with a single volley. The swarm emerged from the Duke-forces and seemed to hang still in the air, clouding the sky. The barbarians hold their breath and braced for income.

 

The first group lost half it strength, pinning the men, women and children within it's ranks to the ground. Hesitation was seen troughout the tribe-forces. Yuself saw this was the decisive moment and ordered a cavalry charge, headed by himself. Groups of mounted men poured into one one another and the dust rose so high, one couldn't tell anymore where the horizon stopped and began. Thousands...

The Lord commanding the first infantry lines let his men bring down a row of spears. With confidence he prepared for the hastening storm of wild horse and wild men.

 

Than all of a sudden, the charge slowed down. Only the Hetman and his closest companions rode further, with a patient pace. The spearmen opened their ranks, allowing to let them enter. Duke Laren, accompanied by an cavalry squadron, rode towards the small group. Yuself spoke only one sentence.

 

"The war ends here. You can claim this lands as your own, but you can not claim our people. We will leave these plains and search for new lands."

 

An invitation of Laren to his tent was answered with a spit on the ground. All a barbarian has is his wife, his tent, his horse and his pride and he let nothing take that away from him by anyone, except by the first one.

Edited by Haken (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

A man sat on a low stone seat, staring blankly out across the sea. The view itself was a stunning one, looking out on to a crystal-clear blue channel framed in a inlet surronded by golden sands, with gulls wheeling in the wind. The occasional trading or fishing vessel trailed across the sea, its slow progress adding to the feeling of complete tranquility.

 

The sitting man had a lot to think about. In the months since Basilicus? accident, he had attempted to gather about himself some plotters and schemers, co-conspirators at least. However, most of the co-Emperor's cronies had found themselves given comfortable administrative posts at the arse-ends of the Greater Holy Empire. Those who had protested too much had found themselves ambushed by bandits or nomads on the way to those comfortable administrative posts at the arse-ends of the Greater Holy Empire. The generals of the armies were pleased with Heraclius? rule, as it allowed them to soldier to their heart?s content. There were recent reports of the fall and subesquent massacre of Damascium, which had dared to contradict Heraclius? wishes. It was also a warning to the various other vassal states of Tagmatium, to get in line or get what?s coming to them.

 

There was no-one in the ruling elite of the Greater Holy Empire that was, as yet, willing to co-operate with him and remove the last member of the diarchy. Heraclius was keeping them in check, either through fear or because he was a nice antidote to Basilicus, who had been viewed as a symptom of all that was wrong in Tagmatium. He had not yet thought about trying to get foreign aid to help him remove the Holy Emperor. It would, after all, be demeaning to be indebted to a barbarian. Although he may have to begin to look in that way, if things carried on like this?

 

There were some footsteps behind him, and a servant handed him a glass of water, which he then sipped slowly. Probably the most fundamental question was why he wanted Heraclius removed from his throne. That one was fairly easily answered. He wanted to rule the Greater Holy Empire himself, partly because he thought he could do a better job himself, and partly because it should be his by right. The Holy Emperor before Valentinian II, Arcadius III Tziscumes, had been his uncle on his mother?s side, and, as he was the last surviving child from his family, the title of Holy Emperor, by rights, is his. But Tagmatium had become a very unstable place in the 13th century since the birth of Christ, coup and counter-coup being something of the norm. It was as if seizing the throne by force had become a legitimate act of succession, just like the ancient rite of electing the Holy Emperor, which was often just confirming the last sovereign?s heir as ruler.

 

More footsteps, and the man turned around. He looked up into the face of an Imperial official, who was flanked by two Imperial Household Guards in ceremonial uniform. They were still armed with swords, though. The man swallowed nervously. The official bowed and handed him a summons note.

 

?Nobilissimus, the Holy Emperor wishes to meet with you.?

 

The man, Nobilissimus Allectus Seleucus to be precise, took the pro-offered summons note and stood up. His heart was going a mile a minute, but his face remained calm. Unannounced visits like this heralded nothing good. Could Heraclius have found out about his machinations?

 

The official could see the slight look of horror and dread on Allectus? face, but read it as confusion. He gave a bit of a smile at this.

 

?His Imperial majesty wishes to discuss some slight changes in taxation on grain shipments. He apologises to this rude interruption, but the appointment for later this week has to be cancelled as his Imperial majesty wishes to pay a visit to his elderly father who has become ill.?

 

Allectus nodded calmly, but internally he could have screamed due to the release of tension.

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  • 2 weeks later...

?They are all the same. Basilicus, Heraclius, even that one they overthrew, Valentinian. They are all hell-bent on dragging the greater Holy Empire into war, as if it was still the age of Alexander, Caesar or even our own Constantine I,? the man paused to take a breath. ?However, it?s the 14th Century, not the 9th. The world is a different place, they must realise it is not the place for flame-boat diplomacy or the annihilation of cities that disagree with your rule. In time, Heraclius will see it, or be forced to. If he continued in that vein, he?d make enemies on our borders unit and destroy us. This is an age of reason and trade, and such things must be encouraged, not vandalised by reckless military ventures which, in the long run would only serve our enemies. The Greater Holy Empire must be dragged kicking and screaming into the 14th Century!?

 

?You know, that sort of out burst would probably have you impaled for treason,? said another, voice sounding slightly amused by the first person?s rant against the current policies of Tagmatium.

 

?He wouldn?t dare.?

 

?Wouldn?t he?? said the second voice, this time mixing intrigued and amused. ?So, minister, why would Heraclius spare you where he purged his co-Emperor?s cronies? The answer is, he wouldn?t spare you, not some minor appointee, really only valued for his skill at negotiating trade, when he didn?t even spare Basilicus? sister.?

 

The first speaker audibly sighed. ?You?re right. If I were to attempt anything, I?d need at least one backer.?

 

The second speaker coughed.

 

?Apart from you, that is.?

 

?That?s right. I?ve heard that a certain Allectus Seleucus has also been probing to find allies. Although that pretentious fool should probably be added to the first bit of your rant, as his head is full of returning the Greater Holy Empire to its days of glory, he could be a worthwhile co-conspiritor. So, Minister Manuel Kybiosaktes, you may want to begin finding your allies.?

 

Minister Kybiosaktes nodded and turned from the room, off to find some supporters?

 

OOC: Not the best post every, but, once again, BUMP.

Edited by Tagmatium Rules (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

user posted image

Imperial Summer Palace, Zuidhaven

 

It had been two whole months since last was heard from the troubles in the great and far northwest. The political change in the Greater Holy Empire had come as disturbing news. The imperial council was not pleased when they where informed about how the dual imperium had been overthrown, and with what system it had been replaced. Messages were sent between representatives in both empires. The imperial council had not yet decided if they'd support the new sole emperor Heraclius, or try and contact any rebellion, if it existed.

 


OOC: Use the OOC topic to help plan this story.
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  • 1 month later...

It had been several weeks now since they left fermiliar ground. Most of the tribes from the plains had joined. More than there had been present on that faithfull day that decided whose children would rule Rideria.

 

Hetman Yuself remained a respected leader amongst most. Altough he carried the burden of defeat, he carried it well. Other hetmen wouldn't let a sunset pass to remind Yuself of his early surrender without practically any fight. The others, warriors, women, children, they were releaved by the choice the warlord had made. Not a single warrior would admit it, but on that day, on that field, they were scared. Frightened to death. It wouldn't have been a fight, it would have been a massacre. They feared their blood would spill on the land from which their ancestors had eaten the fruits from.

 

It had been a long time ago since the great travels of the tribes. To Yuself his sadisfaction, the decades had little effect on the spirit of the men. The large group, counting up to to then of thousands of people, managed to cross large distances with only few interruptions. With them, they took large amounts of cattle, long-haired and long-horned. The Riderian bull and cow. The best travellers' companion. The milk lessening the thirst, the meat silencing hunger, the fur holding of the cold of the night.

 

They remembered the stories of the large empire that ruled a thousand plains. Where the land was fruitfull and the people were weak because of the easy life. A place were the cattle could graze, the temperature was kind and the women smelled nice.

 

They travelled north.

Edited by Haken (see edit history)
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