An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Some Latin nation's Population had surpass Rhomania. I realize them didn't experience large-scale wars nearly two centurys like time of troubles. The cataclysm like OTL China in change Dynasty very harmful for comprehensive(politic system,science development,society construction and so on)improvement.
 
Some Latin nation's Population had surpass Rhomania. I realize them didn't experience large-scale wars nearly two centurys like time of troubles. The cataclysm like OTL China in change Dynasty very harmful for comprehensive(politic system,science development,society construction and so on)improvement.
Rhomania has been seeing immigration from other parts of the world too though, mostly Orthodox nations like Russia and Vlachia but also those Nile Germans, so that can help mitigate some of the problems.

@Basileus444 I'm wondering about the Jews in the Roman Empire, what sort are they?
IOTL The Sephardic expulsion meant that Mizrahi, Maghrebi, and Romanoite Jews (among others) got absorbed into that style of Judaism and that culture. Large numbers of Ashkenazi also migrated into the Balkans during Ottoman Rule. Without a Sephardic expulsion are these communities still distinct?
 
1620-'Who writes this stuff?'
Evilprodigy: There are orphanages. The Director of the Imperial Orphanage (established in the 300s) was actually a pretty senior official in the Byzantine court hierarchy. John the Orphanotrophos was an incredibly powerful official in the early 1000s.

I'm assuming they're Askhenazi. There were sizable Jewish populations in 12th century Greece so most of the Roman Jews are descendants of those. There's been some immigration of Sephardic Jews to Sicily and Rhomania because of business opportunities and slightly better treatment (Sicily was nice for a bit but there was just a major backlash; they're still second-class citizens in the Empire but the Roman government "just" levies heavier taxes on them rather than doing the ritual humiliations frequently levied in Latin Europe) but nothing even close to OTL since there's been no Spanish expulsion.

Nurhaci: Yeah, both the Triple Monarchy and the HRE have had it comparatively easy since the late 1400s.



The White Palace, Constantinople, April 19, 1620:

Andreas looked across the table, the board of Italy spread out before him. He frowned. His Apulian forces had done well, surging north to overrun Urbino and the March, then seizing the bulk of the Romagna, but now his situation wasn’t looking so well. Venice had rallied, securing her dominion over all of Italy from Gorz to Verona. Milan too was marching inexorably down the Po valley having beaten down Savoy. Both the Papacy and Florence were weakened but in a good position to flank him. Only Genoa and Pisa were not in a position to threaten him.

“It doesn’t matter what you do; I’m still going to kick your ass.” He looked over at the speaker, his wife Elizabeth, currently the commander of Venice. The German princess had turned from a skinny little girl into a developing woman, an inch taller than him and slightly plump, but in a cute way. Her blond hair, naturally curly, was currently bound up but undone could reach down to her waist. She looked at him with her twinkling green eyes.

“So ladylike,” he muttered.

“I’m quite capable of being a lady…and still kicking your ass. And don’t you forget it,” she grinned. She ‘absentmindedly’ rubbed her right bicep, currently covered under frilly blue silk. But in an impromptu arm-wrestling competition started amongst the teenagers frequenting the White Palace a month ago, children of courtiers and officials and a few Imperials, she’d placed fourth. Andreas had placed…lower than that, although he’d never actually crossed arms with her.

There was a cough to his left and Andreas looked over. The cougher was his cousin Leo Drakos, son of Anna Drakina, Duchess of Dalmatia and Istria. The black-haired, long-nosed, half-Magyar looked half-starved, which was amazing considering his appetite. A year old than Andreas, Leo controlled the Papacy and was massing forces near Perugia, where they could be directed either at Florence or at Andreas’ key supply depot of Ancona.

“I’d be willing to help you out but I would need some gold to move things along.”

“I don’t think so,” Andreas replied to the one making the offer. The ‘Duke of Milan’, for the purposes of the game, was another cousin, Demetrios Asen-Palaiologos. He was the grandson of Ioanna, the only daughter of Princess Alexeia, the tall mischief-making daughter of Andreas II. Like Leo his hair was black but the sixteen-year old had a decent beard going, in contrast to Andreas’ light brown scruff, and was rather plump too. He had crossed arms with Elizabeth and been resoundingly beaten.

Andreas took two standards, one blue and one green, the game pieces denoting a field army unit (blue represented a tagma and blue a half-tagma) and placed them at Forli, then handed the dealer two notes each marked with a ‘100’. “Two units of supplies please.” The dealer noted and handed him two ‘supply pieces’, two wooden cubes the size of his fingertips. Army units had to be properly supplied. If they suffered shortages, morale and discipline suffered and making the soldiers more easily beaten.

The dealer was yet another cousin of his, the eldest of his relations at the table. Alexandros Drakos, eighteen years old, was the grandson of Alexandros, the Princess Theodora’s youngest son, who was also the younger twin brother of Andreas’ maternal grandmother. Alexandros “the Elder” had been married to Sophia Komnena, the elder sister of Leo I of Arles. Their only son Ioannes had been married to another Sophia Komnena, this one the younger sister of Demetrios III, Despot of Egypt. Therefore Alexandros could trace his lineage back to Andreas Niketas via three of his legitimate sons; Andreas’ own blood relation to Andreas I was through an illegitimate daughter.

Alexandros was medium in height, his cheeks covered in a mass of freckles that could still be seen through the trimmed light brown beard he sported. His face was round, a thin unibrow set above hazel eyes. Andreas may have had the Good Emperor’s nose but Alexandros had his entire face. One difference though is that Alexandros had the swarthy complexion that looked much more of Manuel I Komnenos rather than Andreas I. Alexandros stretched his right arm and twisted it, his elbow popping. He too had tested his arm against Elizabeth’s. He’d also lost but unlike Leo had made her fight for it. He currently played Florence.

They were playing Field of Battle, a new board game recently developed, purportedly with significant input from the War Room which used it to help teach strategy. Currently there were four different fields, Iberia, Germania, Syria/Mesopotamia, and Italy, created although with its popularity a France was on the way. Andreas preferred the Italy one personally.

Alexandros rolled a pair of six-sided dice, ending up with a three. “You have to draw a chance card.” Andreas nodded; transactions particularly in the field often had unintended consequences, sometimes good and usually bad.

He drew a card. “God hates you,” he read. “Your new cook is English. His food blackens the teeth and softens the brain. Minus -1 morale for one turn. Who writes this stuff?”

“Somebody who knows you very well,” Leo drawled. Sprawled across his chair Leo reminded Andreas of a somewhat emaciated but scheming feline. “God does hate you.”

Andreas scowled. I need my luck to change. He looked up past his wife to see one of his guardsmen who seemed to be studying the table from a distance. Nikephoros Vatatzes was a twenty-year-old from Gallipoli, tall and muscularly thick, with skin almost as swarthy as Alexandros. He scratched his right nostril, prompting Andreas to scratch his left.

He plunked down some more banknotes, taking some ‘stone’ tiles to reinforce his citadel at Forli. That would help cover the morale loss. “Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!” He boisterously yelled, pointing at his handiwork and cackling.

Everybody at the table stared at him. “Where did that come from?” Alexandros asked.

“I have no idea,” Elizabeth deadpanned.

Andreas looked at her. “Join with me!” he said, stretching out his right hand to her. “And together we will rule the world as husband and wife!”

“Ah, you say the most romantic things,” she cooed, grinning, and gripped his hand. Andreas smiled wolfishly.

“Intervene!” Nikephoros shouted. There were two golden spheres, each the size of a fist, sitting on either side of the map. Part of the game was that campaigns did not happen in isolation; a new player could enter the scene partway through the game. To do so they had to shout ‘intervene’ and grasp one of the spheres. Those already playing could block the move by grasping the sphere first, something Elizabeth might’ve been able to do if it weren’t for Andreas gripping her hand. Nikephoros touched it and Andreas let go.

Elizabeth glowered at both Nikephoros and him. “You set me up.”

“Oh, don’t take it personally, your highness,” Nikephoros replied. “You’re not the only one we’re after. For my intervention I shall be King Sausage.” Elizabeth’s glower intensified. “Would you prefer Lord of the Beer?” Alexandros started handing Nikephoros his pieces.

She looked at Andreas. “So are you going to help me deal with this guy?”

“Nope. I still haven’t forgotten Urbino.” Her Venetian forces had managed to wipe out three of his armies in detail before he’d thrown them back.

“I thought we were going to join together to rule the world?”

“I’m altering the deal. Pray that I do not alter it any farther.” Demetrios sputtered into his cup.

She shook her fist at him. “I’m going to make you pay for that tonight.”

Andreas looked at her and then over at Nikephoros. The guard threw up his hands. “Don’t look at me. You’re on your own there.” Elizabeth’s grin made her look like a cat that knew dinner was at hand.

* * *
Much to the relief of everybody it is a quiet year for the Empire. The one thing of note is the oncoming expiration of the truce with the Shah. But despite negotiations, no peace is signed when delegates from both mighty empires meet. Once again a truce is agreed. This time however it is not for six years, but for only one.
 
Much to the relief of everybody it is a quiet year for the Empire. The one thing of note is the oncoming expiration of the truce with the Shah. But despite negotiations, no peace is signed when delegates from both mighty empires meet. Once again a truce is agreed. This time however it is not for six years, but for only one.
But why? Iskander has tons of trouble in North India right now, and that's the new jewel of his Sultanate. Why would he go after the Empire now that it's at peace with its neighbours?

Also these names are making me go cross-eyed.
 
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Elizabeth is shaping up to be very competent (too competent?), maybe she'll be little Andreas' Kristina? Given that this Andreas doesn't have the mental trauma that Andreas I has with a similarly good mindset to ruling and commanding hopefully he achieves big things B444 willing.
 
Of all Catholics though the best from the common Roman perspective are the Castilians. The Castilians know what it’s like to be on the frontiers of Christendom, battling desperately against great Islamic hosts while their co-religionists sitting safe and comfortable behind them berate them for their lack of Christian purity and occasionally stab them in the back. Plus Castilians have served loyally and bravely in the Roman army during the Time of Troubles and since and the historically-minded Romans have not forgotten Miguel de Talavera, the Castilian Grandmaster of the Hospitaliers that served Andreas Niketas so well. Thus even though geopolitics gets in the way (like in the Spice Islands) there’s a respect in Roman minds that is completely lacking with any other Catholic state.
Does this positive attitude include the Portuguese?
Great updates!
 
Nice, unexpectedly funny update.

Btw, I hope the players in the wargame aren't some sort of preview of players in some later Roman civil war (War of Roman succession?). They definetely seem to have the bloodlines for it...
 
Glad you all enjoyed the comedy. I felt a more lighthearted interlude was in order.

Regarding names, here is my note sheet regarding the Drakos family. Hopefully it will help keep everybody relatively in order.

Children of Empress Helena the Elder (born 1529):

Kristina (born 1554) married to Friedrich von Wittelsbach, Holy Roman Emperor (title contested) and Duke of Bavaria.

Aikaterine (born 1557) married to Theodoros Sideros (deceased-son of Timur II). Has two living children Anna, Duchess of Verona and Padua (has son Leo born 1604), and Demetrios Sideros (born 1585), married to Jahzara.

Eudoxia (born 1557-twin of Aikaterine) married to Ioannes Laskaris, Megas Rigas of Russia and son of Giorgios Laskaris.

Veronica (born 1558) married to Tewodoros, Negus Nagast of Ethiopia (who is incidentally Jahzara’s uncle)

Sophia (born 1559), previously married to King Stefanoz Bagrationi of Georgia (deceased). Now married to Konstantin Safavid, King of Georgia. One surviving daughter, Anna (born 1584), married to Vakhtang Safavid (Konstantin’s son by previous wife)

Demetrios II (born 1560), has one surviving daughter, Helena the Younger (born 1580). She has one son, Andreas III (born 1605), and is married to Despot Alexios I of Sicily (see Alexandra daughter of Theodora below).

Anna (born 1562), married to Juan, Crown Prince of Castile-Portugal.

Theodora (born 1564), married to Andrew, Crown Prince of Hungary.

Children of Princess Theodora (deceased):

Anastasios (born 1552), King of Prussia.

Anastasia (born 1552, Anastasios’ twin), married to Vlad IV, King of Vlachia.

Alexandra (born 1556), married to Andreas II, Despot of Sicily (deceased). Has two sons Alexios, Despot of Sicily (married to Helena the Younger) and Hektor.

Alexandros (born 1556, Alexandra’s twin), married to Sophia Komnena, elder sister of King Leo Komnenos of Arles. Son Ioannes who wed another Sophia Komnena, sister of Despot Demetrios III of Egypt, son Alexandros (born 1602).

Anna: Born in 1558, married to Andronikos Laskaris, Kephale of Trebizond. Has two living sons Michael and Theodoros.

Children of the Princess Alexeia Drakina (deceased):

Konstantinos: Born in 1556, married to Maria Laskarina, the first cousin of Andronikos Laskaris. Has one daughter Maria who is betrothed to the crown prince of Arles.

Ioanna: Born in 1565, married to Andreas Asen-Palaiologos, strategos of the Bulgarian tagma. Has one son Stefanos-has son Demetrios born 1604.

Ioannes: Killed prior to the siege of Pyrgos.

Herakleios: Killed prior to the siege of Pyrgos.


HanEmpire: What makes you think it’s Iskandar causing the difficulties?

ByzantineMan: I have a map planned for 1625. The last map is from 1600.

JohnSmith: Yup, Elizabeth is a good partner for him. And it didn’t require the intriguing that Andreas-Kristina caused.

Frustrated Progressive: For the inhabitants of the Roman heartland the Portuguese are largely out-of-sight, out-of-mind, although if brought up they’re usually lumped in with the Castilians. But in the east they’ve been one of the most consistent and successful rivals of Rhomania (they wrested Tidore and Ternate away not too far back). So it’s a ‘we don’t like you because of geopolitical reasons but you’re not horrible’ instead of the barely contained seething disdain felt for most of Latin Europe.
 
Sophia (born 1559), previously married to King Stefanoz Bagrationi of Georgia (deceased). Now married to Konstantin Safavid, King of Georgia. One surviving daughter, Anna (born 1584), married to Vakhtang Safavid (Konstantin’s son by previous wife)
Anna married her half-brother? Man, royal marriages are twisted.

HanEmpire: What makes you think it’s Iskandar causing the difficulties?
So some idiots are intriguing for more hostilities. Lovely.
 
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The Battle of Volos
Anna married her half-brother? Man, royal marriages are twisted.
Stepbrother. She's the daughter of Stefanoz and Sophia. Although yes, that's still a little creepy.




Kastron [Fort] of Volos, Thessaly, August 22, 1621:

Odysseus grunted and grimaced but he managed to parry Andreas’ stroke…barely. The second knocked his wooden weapon out of his hands.

Andreas put his own down and squatted so that he was eye-level with his eight-year-old cousin. “Keep your shield up or I’ll ring your head like a bell. You understand?” Odysseus nodded. “Good,” he smiled. He kissed him on the forehead and then stood up.

He and Odysseus could almost pass for brothers, their facial structures and body types virtually identical. Odysseus though had significant darker skin than Andreas, courtesy of his still stunningly beautiful Ethiopian mother. He could see the frustration on his cousin’s face. Sword and shield fighting was obsolete; nobody used the latter anymore. But it was good for building muscle mass and supposedly tactical thinking.

They were about to start sparring again when about twenty cavalry rode into the courtyard. The Kastron of Volos wasn’t that big, a brooding stone castle, still built more for pre-gunpowder battles, looming over the port of Volos, the chief port of Thessaly. “Why don’t we take a break?” Andreas said. Odysseus nodded.

“What are you doing back?” Andreas shouted at the eikosarchos leading the column.

Alexios Maniakes, supposedly related to the ferocious 11th century strategos, a tall but skinny man with long brown hair and an incredibly freckled face born in 1600, answered back. “Got killed.”

“Who did it? I want to thank them,” Andreas grinned. Volos was the headquarters of the 8th Helladic tourma, currently out on training exercises with the rest of the tagma.

Alexios glowered at him, then smiled as he tied up his horse. Grooms from the stable were coming out to take care of the equipment. “The Ninth hit us with a flank charge and we were wiped out so the Tourmarch sent us back here to help keep an eye on our new guests. The rest of the tourma will be back in two days.”

“Want to take a look at those guests?” Andreas asked.

“Sure.” Alexios directed a groom to take care of his steed and together the two of them walked up to the stairs to gaze across the ramparts down onto the city and harbor of Volos.

Volos was the chief port and one of the key cities of Thessaly, second only to the capital of Larissa, with a population of almost eight thousand. A respectable amount of merchandise passed through the quays but mainly in the small lighters that flitted amongst the islands of the Aegean. The big ships headed to Corinth or Thessaloniki so the sight was currently a rather unusual one.

Fourteen ships, each one displacing four hundred tons or more, two at least nine hundred, were riding at anchor in the bay. From four flew the banner of the Kingdom of Arles, from ten the standard of the Triple Monarchy, the United Kingdoms of France, England, and Ireland. All but one of the ships were trade convoys heading for Syria that had been driven off course by storms. The last was another Triune ship traveling separately that had arrived just before dark yesterday, also diverted by storms.

“Have they caused any trouble?” Alexios asked.

“Nothing out of the ordinary for bored Latin sailors.”

“That’s a comfort. Still, they could cause a lot of trouble. There’s a lot of them.”

Andreas nodded, scratching his chin, the brown stubble pricking his fingertips. He pulled out his pocket dalnovzor and scanned one of the Triune ships. “Something wrong?” Alexios asked.

“Something seems different; I’m not sure what.” He lowered the instrument, a telescoping design the length of his forearm when fully extended. He raised and looked through it again. “The decks are clear. That’s odd. I could’ve sworn they were covered in trade goods.”

Alexios pulled out his own dalnovzor, similar in size but without the silver filigree, and focused on another vessel. Men now were scurrying back and forth. “It looks like they have sand down on the decks. If I didn’t know better, I’d said they’re cleared for action.” He looked at Andreas in alarm.

“But if that’s the case…” Cannons and muskets boomed, the sound ripping across the town. Andreas just gaped as the Triune ships opened up on the Arletians, shots tearing into them, many also missing and flying in the town behind them. Gunfire ripped down the harbor front too. He could see men on the docks firing on where the Arletians were staying onshore, and some that were not being so particular with their shooting.

“WHAT THE DEVIL IS GOING ON?” The Kastrophylax, commandant of the kastron, Thomas Lachanodrakon (himself purportedly a descendant from the 8th century Thrakesian strategos) hobbled onto the ramparts. A portly and wrinkled man walking with a strong limp, he tugged on his long white beard furiously as he looked out over the scene. The Triunes were swarming the Arletians, which seemed to have been caught completely flat-footed.

“All guns ready, kastrophylax!”

“FIRE!”

The seven guns of the citadel let fly, their shots ripping down toward the Triunes. One slammed into the deck of a ship, clouds of splinters flying. Two more punctured sails, the remainder splashing down in the water. Gunners shouted out elevation corrections as the pieces were sponged. Powder monkeys scurried forward. Andreas frowned. Only two of the pieces were culverins, twenty-two pounders, the others were ten and eight pounders. The elevation advantage helped a lot but that was a big Triune squadron.

More cannons boomed from down on the harbor, the air shrieking. Alexios tackled him as the shots slammed into the fort’s masonry. One of the powder monkeys screamed. Alexios got off him and Andreas staggered up. The boy, just a little older than Odysseus, was whimpering, his hands clutching his intestines, now outside of his body rather than in.

Andreas snarled, both in anger and to distract him from the gorge rising from his stomach. “Michael!” he shouted.

His steward scurried up the steps. “Yes, your highness?”

“Get my battle gear ready.”

Andreas’ quarters were in a small room just off from the central square. It took him only a few minutes with Michael’s help but those minutes seemed like an eternity. More musket and cannon fire were coming from the harbor, although the staggering of the volleys seemed to suggest that the Arletians were starting to shoot back.

He emerged back into the square clad in the standard gray uniform of the Roman army, the insignia on his collar marking him as an eikosarchos of the Akoimetoi, which he officially was. The golden thread on the cuffs was the only regal flourish on the standard kit. A sword hung from his right hip, a dirk from his left. A Macedonian steel cuirass protected his torso.

In the courtyard he could see other men girding themselves. A horseman nearly ran him over as Andreas stepped out, whipping his horse to a full gallop. Two more charged out following him. More men scrambled from a side chamber, one pushing a wheelbarrow full of coal.

Andreas ran over to the point on the ramparts where the Kastrophylax, Alexios Maniakes, and Nikephoros Vatatzes, the commander of his bodyguard contingent, were gathered. The fort’s guns were dueling with two Triune ships although none of the Latin shots were coming near them. “How’s it going?” Andreas asked.

“Not good,” Nikephoros answered. “The Triunes are attacking the town indiscriminately now.”

“Latin bastards. Have they ever tried not being assholes?” Andreas muttered. He looked at the Kastrophylax. “How many men do you have?”

“Just enough to crew the guns.”

“What about the ovens? Heated shot will ruin their day.”

“Just started it up. But it’s stone cold right now and I can’t fire those at the town.”

Andreas nodded. “We have Alexios’ twenty and I have twenty.”

“There’s probably two hundred and fifty Triunes onshore,” Alexios commented.

“How long will it take for the eighth to get here?” Andreas asked.

“It took us three hours and we’re all mounted,” Alexios answered.

“Three hours…they’ll kill a lot of people by then,” Andreas growled. They could hear screams from the waterfront. Townspeople were fleeing inland and it seems the Triunes not attacking the holed-up Arletians were concentrated mainly on looting. But the harbor district was heavily populated and a lot of people wouldn’t have had time to escape.

“I’m going down there with the forty we have.”

“You can’t be serious!” Nikephoros protested.

“I am. I’m not going to stand there and watch people be slaughtered. I have a Drakos family banner; they’ll think twice before firing on a member of the Imperial family.”

“They didn’t hesitate to attack Volos or fire on the fort,” Nikephoros countered.

“True, but while they outnumber us they’re spread out and focused on looting. Plus most of them are sailors, not trained soldiers. And the sight of the banner might make them pause for a second, which is all we need to shove an ambrolar up their asses.”

Nikephoros looked at him. “I’m not going to be able to talk you out of this.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Well, let’s get to it then.”

“Your highness,” Thomas said. Andreas turned toward him. “Good luck, your highness. I’ll keep those ships busy.”

“Thank you, kastrophylax.”

“And a word of advice. I’ve fought Triunes. Both the English and French despise the rest of mankind. They have a hard time imagining other people having the audacity to oppose them. So when you hit them, hit them with anything you have and don’t let up.”

“I have no attention of doing so.”

It took a few minutes for everyone to get fully geared up and Andreas was about to mount up when he saw Odysseus. He had his pony fully saddled, a leather jerkin covering his torso, a small helmet in one hand and the reins in the other, a dirk slung from each hip. “Stay here, Ody,” he said.

“But I’m going with you. I want to go with you.”

“I appreciate that, but I want you to stay here and guard the fort.”

He opened his mouth, Andreas expecting a protest. “Fine,” he muttered.

Andreas ruffled his hair. “I’ll take you with me next time.” Odysseus smiled.

Andreas smiled too, then mounted his horse. He nodded at Hektor, one of his bodyguards, who unfurled the Drakos family banner. It was a golden double-headed eagle with black outline on a dark blue background, each talon clutching a sword. Every Triune looking on it would know they were facing a member of the Imperial house. It might make them hesitate for a second, which would make killing them much easier.

He looked over his men. All of them were older than him but they were his to command. Aside from being Kaisar, he was an eikosarchos of the Akoimetoi, which gave him seniority over Alexios. “Seems like a good day for killing Frenchmen.”

“Tis always a good day for killing Frenchmen,” Nikephoros snarked back, a grin on his face.

“That is true. Let’s ride.”

They cantered out of the kastron as its guns boomed down on the ships. Refugees were starting to flee up to the citadel so Alexios guided them down on the side streets. It was slower than the main thoroughfare but a traffic jam would be even worse. Here the town was eerily quiet. Houses and shops were shuttered although Andreas could see eyes looking out at him from a few windows. Most of the locals here worked outside the city walls so all that was left were children and old folks.

They were about halfway to the harbor when Alexios held up his hand. The thirty or so men coming up the street towards them were definitely not children. The leader, a thickly built man with a wrinkled, grizzled face and a nose that looked like it’d been broken repeatedly, stepped forward as they reined to a halt.

“Are you the prince Andreas?” he asked in heavily-accented Greek, pointing at him.

“I am,” he answered, but in Serbian.

The Serb grinned. “You honor me, sir. As the grandson of the blessed Demetrios, we are here to offer you our blades in this fight.” Andreas looked over them. All the men looked well built, even though many were on the older side. Most had swords slung from their belts, the remainder with axes slung from their backs. I wonder if the old Varangians looked like this?

“You honor me. I welcome you and your men. Although I must say you do seem rather well armed for fur traders.”

“The blessed Demetrios said we may not travel with firearms in the Empire. He said nothing about blades.” He grinned.

“And for that, right now, I am very grateful.”

It didn’t take them much longer to reach the waterfront, although the detour meant it was the wrong section. The harbor was shaped like a C, its open part facing to the south. Here on the western end was where the fishermen docked their smacks and cleaned their catches. The warehouses here stored bulk goods, grain, dried fruit, salted fish, and the like. There was no incentive for looting here.

They took a break while Alexios took two of his men and one of the younger Serbs with him. They were only gone for a few minutes. “There’s about two hundred, maybe two hundred and fifty on land. They’re tearing the Pasha’s Slipper to shreds. The rest are running amok on the Arletian ships.” Andreas nodded. He expected that. The Pasha’s Slipper claimed to have the best food, wine, and women in all of Thessaly and that was where the gold and silversmiths, plus the silk merchants, had their shops. That was down on the eastern end. “They’ve also trashed Saints Constantine and Helena.” That church was also the pride of all Thessaly.

Andreas looked at Alexios’ face. “There’s more.”

“We heard two sailors saying that Prince Andreas was in town which was good by them. Greek princes named Andreas make good screwing, just ask the Venetians. That’s what they said.”

“Did you get a good look at them?” Andreas growled, his hand clutching his hilt.

“Yes.”

“Good. I want them taken alive. They’ll not get a quick death.” Alexios nodded. “Now, what about the kastron? I want to come down the waterfront; they’ll expect an attack from the town, not the harbor. But we can’t let those ships take us in flank.”

“The kastron’s quiet now. But there’s a lot of smoke. The Kastrophylax has got those furnaces going really hot.”

“Alright-” Andreas started to say when all the kastron’s guns spoke at once. Andreas saw the cannonballs, glowing red hot. Splinters crashed as each shot found home, fires starting on two vessels as the roiling metal ignited wood and pitch. On a third vessel, Andreas saw the shot blast from the ramparts, scream down, and punch through the deck of one of the larger Triune vessels. A moment later the ball hit the powder magazine.

The ship ceased to exist. One moment it was there and the next, a crash of thunder, and a cloud of splinters and sail shreds.

“GO! NOW!” Andreas shouted and immediately they galloped out on the waterfront, the Serbs jogging behind them. To his right he heard Triunes swearing and screaming. A cannon boomed and Andreas instinctively braced himself. The ball ricocheted off the kastron’s ramparts. That was the threat to the sailors, not these men galloping and running down the shore.

Andreas drew his sword. Several dozen Triunes were sprawled out in front of the Pasha’s Slipper, drinking and stuffing their faces. In the corner five or six were each gang-raping three women, clear for all the world to see. One Triune standing further out where a dock met the shore turned and started shouting, a moment later shrieking as an arrow slammed into his calf. One of his guards, a Philadelphian, notched another arrow. A couple of other Triunes started scrambling up, one shooting off a pistol. “SAINT THEODOROS AND NO QUARTER!”

“NO QUARTER!”

A moment later they piled into the Triunes.

* * *
Andreas clumped down to the ground, wiping his forehead. He looked at his dirt and blood-covered right hand. It was trembling. He gripped his wrist to stop it. The fight had been hard. The head of the butchers’ guild had organized some of the townspeople to try and block the Triunes from moving inland and they’d pitched into the Triunes from the other side as well. The ships were another matter but between the heated cannonballs and the arrival of the cavalry of the Helladic tagma they had been ‘convinced’ to surrender.

“First battle?” the head Serb, whose name was Michael, asked. Andreas nodded. “You need a woman.”

Andreas looked up at him. He too was blood splattered. Unlike Andreas, some was his own. He’d taken a gash on his shoulder. “My wife’s in Constantinople,” he replied.

Michael smiled. “You’re named after Andreas Niketas. Why is that stopping you?” Andreas chuckled. Michael smiled for a moment and then frowned. “They’re bringing the Triune leader.” He held out a hand and helped Andreas to his feet.

Another man, a tall, skinny man with squinty eyes, walked up to them. “Tourmarch,” Andreas said. Nikolaios Psellos was the tourmarch of the 7th Helladic.

“Your highness,” Nikolaios said and then looked at the captive being marched toward them between two very angry looking dekarchoi. The man was several centimeters taller even than Nikolaios, with curly black hair going down to his shoulders. He had bushy eyebrows and an angular face, his nose jutting out sharply. “Well, I’ll be damned. It’s the Emperor of Constantinople.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive. I was ambassadorial guard commander for two years at King’s Harbor. It’s him.”

Andreas frowned. Henri Plantagenet was the Triune King’s illegitimate elder brother. He’d never taken kindly to be overshadowed by his younger brother so he’d purchased the title of ‘Emperor of Constantinople’, which dated back to the Fourth Crusade, from the Sire of Coucy, its incumbent. I wonder what he’s doing here.

The dekarchoi brought Henri to a halt in front of them. “What do you want, boy?” the man sneered.

“Why did you attack the town?”

“The Lion’s Whelp brought word that we are at war with the Arletians. So we made war with the Arletians.”

“In our harbor? And what right did that give you to attack us?”

“You have no right to tell us what we can or cannot do, Greek. We made war on the Arletians because the Arletians were here and you stood in our way, and then we sought recompense for our efforts. We are the chosen people of God. We have no need to explain ourselves to you.”

Andreas frowned. “Chosen people of God. You think you are special. You’re not. You’re a typical Latin, using desire as justification for your crimes. And now you will die for those crimes. Block.”

“Do you think I am frightened, boy? I am the brother of the Emperor of the United Kingdoms. You kill me and it will be an act of war.”

“You attacked and pillaged one of our cities, raped and murdered our people, and fired on a member of the Imperial house. So either we are already at war or you are a pirate. And by the laws of the United Kingdoms, pirates are killed via impalement through the rectum. And what is the penalty for attempted regicide?” The man blanched.

A large wooden block was plunked down in front of him. “Out of respect for your rank and lineage, I would prefer not to chain you for this,” Andreas said.

“I am not a coward,” Henri answered. He got down on his knees and laid his head on the block.

“Have you any final words?” Andreas asked as he drew his sword.

“Kill me and be done with it.”

“As you wish.” With one swing he decapitated the Emperor of Constantinople.

“What should be done with the rest of the captives?” the tourmarch asked. The Triune landing party had been mostly butchered but those on the ships had surrendered.

“Keep them captives. One of the Triune ships should be good. This whole thing is going to be a gigantic diplomatic mess.”

“Especially after that.” Nikolaios gestured at the headless corpse.

“A point needed to be made. But no need to overdo it.” Alexios walked up at that point. “Did those two survive?”

“They’re both wounded, but yes.”

He looked at Nikolaios. “They’re the exceptions. Have them impaled in full view of their comrades.”
 
I can hear the Wittelsbachs laughing themselves silly, and the slapping of foreheads in King's Landing.
If the peace treaty from the last German-UK war holds then the Reich can't intervene. They can sure as hell pay others to jump the Triunes though.

@Basileus444 what are the Scandinavians and the Castilians doing? Can they fight a war?
 
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It'll be interesting to find out who started this Triune-Arletian war. Maybe the Triunes are so delusional that they can't see when they are overextended and should take a rest.
 
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