An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

I will wait patiently, as a stylite would for the voice in his cave. But holy guacamole, this is picking up.

I Just have to point out that the Romans are fighting against a creature of their own creation. You can't be the best at something for this long and not have someone learn a thing or three, and then start to do it better. Especially when it come to a character such as Islander. This guy is the real deal for everything the Romans dont want to have next door. Pray for the blessed shot that catches him.... Or assassin. Something that we haven't read much about since the War of the Five Emperors.

Assassins have a way of removing even the toughest of stains! Rival to the throne drawing from the border? Call an assassin. Your mortal enemy has a Leader that makes Alexander look like a tinpot general? Call an assassin. Red wine on your new white rug? Call an assassin.

I feel it would be too poetic for Islander to die at the meeting with Leo. History doesn't work that way. It is messy and shaded, there are no clean lines or calligraphy to it.

Although a duelling death of Iskander by young Andreas, over the "true" heir of the Good Emperor, would be regaled far beyond the tales of Alexia slaying Galden of Merv. Aaaaand start an ugly power vacuum. A lot of problems when the Shah dies at the front lines away from the Capitol. Just sayin'.

Keep up the awesome writing B444.
 
So the Triunes are working with the Ottomans? Is it a formal alliance or just an enemy-of-my-enemy affair? Also, what is the Triune army like? I know they're a weight class below the Romans and the Ottomans and they lost the war with Germany, but I imagine they're either number one or number two in the middleweights.
 
I think there would be something poetic about Iskander meeting his end on the cusp of his greatest victory over the most powerful army in the world. Would add to his legend, may also put an end to his Mary Sue status, but I'll read whatever B444 writes intently.
 
Update! Hooray!

Great read as usual, altough I kinda have to agree with the consensus that Iskander's luck should have run out by now.
 
Neptune: Are you talking to me? I’m not sure what you mean.

HanEmpire: I feel sorry for Gabras. You’re having to lead an army of almost a hundred thousand, which is positively massive for the time period, against the greatest general of the age, and the one unit that gets pinched off is the one that just happens to include the crown prince in the ranks.

Earl Marshal: That’s how the Romans are definitely feeling at this point, a viewpoint that should be kept in mind.

ImperatorAlexander: The Romans do have naval superiority on the Tigris, although trying to run gunboats past the Ottoman army and its artillery train would end very very badly. The Romans do have reinforcements on their way and an important thing to remember is that the Roman army, although battered, is still very much intact except for the one carved-out section.

The Triunes have established trading factories and naval bases but haven’t carved out territories where they’re fully sovereign like the Romans and Portuguese. That’s an advantage of the alliance for them. Persia can be used as a launching pad for efforts to get some.

JohnSmith: The Romans know quite well that Lady Luck is a very fickle and capricious woman…

Chrrno: He’s in his fifties, so decently aged for the time but young enough that such is possible.

Nightbrainzzz: I won’t give any details but let’s just say with Iskandar the wheels turn and that Demetrios II is not the only Emperor who he’s angered…

Stark: On the one hand the Shahanshah has access to the best medical care on the planet. On the other he has practically been in the saddle for the past thirty years which isn’t exactly good for one’s health.

Babyrage: Both the Romans and Omani are aware and view the Persian-Triune alliance as a major threat.

I promise that Iskandar’s death will be interesting and poetic.

Splashface256: I haven’t directly copied Iskandar off of any OTL historical figure. Suleiman the Magnificent/Lawgiver has, in broad strokes, been an inspiration though.

Lascaris: Leo does have a reason, which will be shown next update.

Aishio: That’s the thing, any funny business very well could get Andreas killed.

Frustrated progressive: Would I do such a thing?

Duke of Nova Scotia: Yeah, the Romans have had a qualitative/organizational lead but this is the point where neighboring polities are closing the gap. Iskandar is just the first and most dramatic example of this.

Assassins seem like a cheap way to get rid of enemies but they’re not dependable. Napoleon and especially Hitler seemed to have really good luck at dodging bullets.

MarshalofMontival: It’s an alliance. The Triunes provide naval support and expertise (in eastern waters; the Triunes aren’t going to officially attack the Romans in the Mediterranean) and the Persians give trading privileges and a support base for their operations in the east.

In terms of size the Triunes can put forces in the field comparable to the Romans, Ottomans, and the HRE but in terms of officer and troop quality they’re a rung below the three. The loss to the Germans mainly had to do with inferior generalship.

Bergioyn: I see your point, but I do think it’s fair that not only the Romans turn out world-class leaders from time to time.
 
Nightbrainzzz: I won’t give any details but let’s just say with Iskandar the wheels turn and that Demetrios II is not the only Emperor who he’s angered…
That's a really good point, if the Romans bleeds Iskander enough that opens him up to a Vijayanagaran invasion from the east (if it's not underway already), it's a long march from the Tigris to the Ganges.

The Triunes have established trading factories and naval bases but haven’t carved out territories where they’re fully sovereign like the Romans and Portuguese. That’s an advantage of the alliance for them. Persia can be used as a launching pad for efforts to get some.
Castile-Portugal is in the best position to intercept Triune ships, are they more inclined to work against them with the Romans or the other way around?
 
Duke of Nova Scotia: Yeah, the Romans have had a qualitative/organizational lead but this is the point where neighboring polities are closing the gap. Iskandar is just the first and most dramatic example of this.
I'm starting to think that the Roman's supposed qualitative/organisational lead is more of an informed ability. Since the reforms that made it a purely professional army their main results have been; getting smashed repeatedly by Iskander (I'll accept that he's a great leader that benefits from an extraordinary amount of luck), a disaster in Algiers, getting fought to a stalemate by a bunch of Egyptian peasant rebels and getting overrun by (recently enriched) Bedouins in North Africa. Their one clear success was against the Hungarians. I bet Helena is REALLY regretting not listening to Nikolaios and carving up the Ottomans while she had the chance.
 
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I'm starting to think that the Roman's supposed qualitative/organisational lead is more of an informed ability. Since the reforms that made it a purely professional army their main results have been; getting smashed repeatedly by Iskander (I'll accept that he's a great leader that benefits from an extraordinary amount of luck), a disaster in Algiers, getting fought to a stalemate by a bunch of Egyptian peasant rebels and getting overrun by (recently enriched) Bedouins in North Africa. Their one clear success was against the Hungarians. I bet Helena is REALLY regretting not listening to Nikolaios and carving up the Ottomans while she had the chance.
I'm currently rereading old chapters, Romans are probably mostly regretting not cutting the Ottomans down while they were still wrestling with Persia - still a substantial power level below the Empire and engaged to the East. Andreas could probably smash them with ease (as he did when he faced them in combat).
 
Bergioyn: I see your point, but I do think it’s fair that not only the Romans turn out world-class leaders from time to time.
I think since Andreas Niketas Rhomania's biggest rivals Germany (Frederick III, Manfred, Wilhelm and now Frederick IV) and Ottomans (Suleiman, Osman Komnenos and now Iskandar) have had more long lasting high caliber leaders. They've all done much to expand their realms through martial glory in contrast to Rhomania's post Niketas rulers whose Empire is slowly being chipped away (at least in the heartland).
 
Duke of Nova Scotia:Assassins seem like a cheap way to get rid of enemies but they’re not dependable. Napoleon and especially Hitler seemed to have really good luck at dodging bullets.
Have any of the Hashassin survived? The odds are long, but if I were the Roman espionage service, I'd have plots in play from all angles. Everything from poisoning his salt supply, to unleashing rats everywhere he is, any manner I could kill him, I'd throw money at it. Allergic to peanuts? I'd plant them outside his doors and windows. A fear of heights? Paint his floors to look like he's 30 stories up and kill him of a heart attack. He must die somehow. And yes it is cheap, about as cheap as telling a guy his shoes are undone before you upper cut him. Better that than winning a bloody fight.
 
The Plains of Nineveh, Aftermath
ImperatorAlexander: It could go either way. Rhomania and Castile-Portugal have been longstanding rivals in eastern waters for decades. The Portuguese drove the Romans out of Tidore and Ternate not too long ago. But the Triunes are also friendly with the Marinids, which really annoys the Iberians.

JohnSmith: The professionalization of the army wasn’t designed to make it better at fighting, but more loyal to the central government (as paymaster). Of course that made payroll more expensive, so some bean-counter probably decides to economize by skimping on the training budgets. Plus between the end of the Time of Troubles and the beginning of the Great Uprising, the Imperial heartland had 40 years of peace so it’s not surprising the army got flabby from lack of exercise.

Stark: Yeah, the Romans really shouldn’t have stood by and let the Ottomans eat Persia. That’s what made the Ottomans able really to stand up and go toe-to-toe with the Romans. Iskandar just with the resources of Mesopotamia would’ve been really annoying for the Empire but something that could be dealt with provided the Empire was serious (think a 17th century equivalent of Sayf al-Dawla).

Babyrage: Yes, but Rhomania had an extraordinarily good run in the 1400s, Demetrios Megas, followed by Theodoros IV, and then Andreas Niketas. That’s been a big part of the Empire’s problems since the early 1500s. Andreas Niketas expanded the empire so fast and so much, it’s really hard keeping everything together since he died.

Duke of Nova Scotia: I like the way you think. I won’t give any spoilers but I have just written Iskandar’s death and the Romans are involved.




The Pavilion of the King of Kings, the Plains of Nineveh, October 6, 1622:

Iskandar was having a really hard time not smiling as the Sanjakbey finished his report. An old lion still has claws; it’s good to remember that. He looked down at his own wrinkled hands, the veins sticking out more starkly against his dusky skin. He was definitely in the old lion stage, no longer the twenty year old personally setting the charges to Galdan of Merv’s tomb. Now he was a fifty-four year old overlooking a bloody quagmire that made Ramsar and Astara look like schoolboy scuffles. He had taken the field of battle and isolated a good chunk of the Roman army, but there were many villages of Luristan and Yazd whose whole flock of young menfolk had fallen from Roman musketry in the confines of Bahzani and Dur Sharrukin.

“Impudent wretch,” Ibrahim snarled. “In his position you would think he’d learn some respect.” Iskandar looked over at his eldest son, now twenty nine years old. Medium in height, he inherited his crooked nose and triangular face from his Gilani mother, but his stout build, hairy forearms, and thick crop of black hair was all Iskandar. Said crop was starting to thin out just as his had at that age.

He was the Beylerbey of Mazandaran, the Garden of the Shahs, the Beautiful Province, the wealthiest per capita of all the regions of the empire. He also commanded its armies in the field, fourteen thousand Qizilbash, four thousand sipahi cavalry, and two thousand Uzbek auxiliaries. The next largest provincial army, that of Khuzestan, numbered fourteen thousand total.

Iskandar scratched his chin, his gnarled fingers gliding through the silver hairs of his beard. “Yes, respect would be called for in his position, but a cornered lion is still a lion.” He still has his pride. The demand could be a way to arrange his assassination but he doubted it. Neokastrites didn’t sound like the type of man for that. Oh, on the field of battle he wouldn’t hesitate but not under a banner of truce. Plus such treachery would guarantee the massacre of every Roman on Alfaf and if the rumors were true, the strategos would never risk it.

Ibrahim frowned. “A pity we can’t just overrun them. But that’ll cost another two thousand casualties at least and we can’t afford to starve them out.”

Iskandar nodded. He was thinking the exact same thing. Amazingly supplying his host wasn’t as impossible as he’d feared, although the deadliness of the Roman fire line had lightened the magnitude of the task significantly. But he needed to snuff out the Alfaf enclave now. His manpower pool had run out while spies reported that a Roman column of eleven thousand had marched out of Aleppo to reinforce Gabras; it’d be here in four days. Plus he needed to turn his attention to Mosul, which was still under a hot siege and close to cracking.

He looked at the Bey, who’d been standing there silently while he and Ibrahim talked. “Are the reports true?” he asked. He’d sent that official, who’d served as a member of the diplomatic staff in Constantinople for two years, for a reason.

“They are true,” he answered. “The Kaisar of Rhomania is on Mount Alfaf, a staff officer attached to the Strategos himself.” There was a murmur of surprise amongst the officers and officials standing around the tent. Iskandar was seated on a throne in the back, a red carpet stretched out before him, the chief men of the empire standing off to the side, his sons Ibrahim and Osman flanking him. “Also his cousin, the son of the Eparch, is there as well.”

“The great-grandson of Timur II himself,” Ibrahim snarled.

Iskandar held up a hand, his son snapping his mouth shut. “I don’t care about the boy, regardless of his ancestry. The one that matters is the Kaisar.” I need to bag this now; an opportunity like this comes once a century, at best. But despite the Strategos’ demand, it was still inappropriate for him to go to Neokastrites. Men came to the King of Kings; the King of Kings did not come to them.

“I could take their surrender, Father.” Iskandar looked over to the left at the speaker, his son Osman. Seventeen years old, his face was still beardless, his skin pale and his frame slender. His green eyes and light brown hair were from his mother, a Circassian-a people who along with the Pontics were considered the most beautiful in the world-slave girl captured in the wars.

“Very well, do so.” He pointed at three of his most senior officials. “You’ll accompany him to oversee the details.” They bowed. Iskandar gestured at the rest of them. “You’re dismissed. Leave us.”

They filed out, Ibrahim hanging back at the entrance. Soon it was just the two of them. “You have something you wish to say?” Iskandar asked.

“Why did you send him to accept the surrender instead of me?” Iskandar knew why he was upset. It was a huge honor to accept the surrender of such a large contingent of Romans, including the Strategos of a guard tagma plus the Kaisar of Rhomania himself.

“I did not do it to belittle you. Kaisar Andreas is heir to the throne of Rhomania. You are the heir to mine. Therefore you too are equal. By sending Osman I show respect, as the Kaisar is being received by a prince Imperial, but as even he is not Andreas’ equal it is a reminder who is in charge here.”

“I understand. Thank you, father.”

“You are welcome.”

* * *
Nikephoros lowered his dalnovzor. “Looks like an Ottoman prince from the retinue and the horsetail banners.” Andreas nodded, looking at his bodyguard commander.

“Time to mount up then,” Leo said. They’d been standing under an awning set up to block the sun. It would’ve been a fine target for Ottoman cannons but for now while the truce held it was a welcome relief.

Andreas got on his horse, grunting a bit in pain as he did so but he managed unaided. He had a nasty bruise, well over fist-sized, over his ribcage, but the doctor said there was no other damage. Odysseus on his pony trotted next to him as the group of about twenty, a mix of Leo’s staff and Andreas’s bodyguards, moved forward to meet the envoy.

The pickets hadn’t let the bulk of the Ottoman soldiers past the line, but a young Ottoman who looked about his age was surrounded by three elder men, all nobles from their apparel, plus five soldiers whose markings made them out as Shahshevan, came through. “Strategos Neokastrites of the Akoimetoi, it is an honor to meet you,” he said as he pulled on his horse’s reins. “I am Prince Osman, son of the Shahanshah Iskandar, Lord of E-raq, E-ran, the Lands Beyond the River, and of the kingdoms of the Hindus. I have come to accept your surrender.”

“I said that I would only surrender to the Shahanshah,” Leo answered.

“I speak for my father and I am the closest you will get to him.”

Leo frowned. “So be it. Were the Shahanshah anyone other than Iskandar I would ascribe this to cowardice but of that he cannot be accused. What are your terms?”

“Your men shall surrender all your weapons and war materials. All officers however shall be allowed to retain their swords and treated as befitting their ranks. You and any members of the Roman Imperial house shall retain your mounts. All soldiers shall be guaranteed their personal possessions aside from war materials and animals save those already exempted and will not be enslaved but subject to repatriation to the Roman Empire provided suitable ransoms or exchanges are made.”

“Those are fair terms but I require them in writing, with the Shahanshah’s seal and signature.”

“That is a fair request and a granted one.” Osman pulled a scroll out of his jacket. A droungarios trotted over to the prince, took it, and then took it back to the Strategos.

Leo examined the seal, then broke it and read the scroll. A minute passed before he rolled it up and looked at Osman. “Very well, your terms are acceptable.”

“Excellent. I’m glad to hear it. Brave men such as yourselves should not have your lives wasted.” Then Osman looked over at Andreas. “Kaisar Andreas, it is an honor to meet you.” So much for not being noticed, he thought. Although his mention of “members of the Roman Imperial family” had shown that had not been likely.

“The honor is mine, Prince Osman.”

“We must share that honor then, your highness. But for your stay as our guest I must ask, how would you be treated?” His smile had a bit of impishness in it.

Andreas smiled too. He knew his history; there was only one answer to give. “Like a king.”

Osman nodded. “It will be done then.”

* * *
Leo, Andreas, and Odysseus were mounted at the head of the column, leading the officers of the Akoimetoi and the three Chaldean tourmai as they marched into the Imperial enclosure of the Ottoman encampment. Shahsevan in all their finery lined the column with arms shouldered, rank after rank of Qizilbash in their blue uniforms and red fezzes behind them. Andreas did notice though that he could only see the new-style Persian troops. The old-style Turkish soldiery such as the Janissaries were nowhere in sight. As the three of them trotted through the gate in the wooden palisade that marked off the Imperial zone, a band started up. It took just a few moments for the Romans to recognize the tune, the Shatterer of Armies. The march got a little more step in it as the Romans continued their way.

The Shahanshah’s huge tent was spread out in front of them in the center of the enclosure, Iskandar sitting on a throne set in front of the main entrance, shaded by a large canopy, gold-thread tassels hanging from the fringes. Prince Osman stood on his left and an older, although still young looking, man stood on his right. Must be Prince Ibrahim, Andreas thought. A pair of black women waved peacock-feather fans. Flanking them were even more Ottoman dignitaries, Andreas recognizing the Bey who made the original surrender demand in the throng.

There was a carpet spread out in front of the Shah and the three of them reached the front edge just as the song was entering its last refrain. They waited for the final notes and then dismounted as one, a trio of Persian grooms materializing to take the reins. They all bowed, Leo and Odysseus from the waist but Andreas just bowed his head for a moment and then looked up. “Well met, uncle,” he said in Persian, his accent betraying his Mazandarani tutor. If the Emperor and the Shahanshah were Imperial brothers, then he as the heir to the Roman throne was the ‘nephew’ of the Persian Emperor. It was either that or some really distant type of cousin.

“Well met, nephew,” Iskandar answered. “It is an honor to have you here with us.” He then looked over at Leo. “Strategos Neokastrites, word of your long and valorous service to your sovereign is well known even here. You are most welcome here.” His right lip crooked upward. “If while you are staying with us you need to relieve yourself, the artillery park is that way.” He gestured to the left. “Dinner tonight will be mutton, although if you need something more filling there are a few courtiers I wouldn’t mind getting rid of.”

Leo smiled. “May I choose the courtiers?”

Iskandar smiled back. “I think something can be arranged.” Leo grinned toothily.
 
JohnSmith: The professionalization of the army wasn’t designed to make it better at fighting, but more loyal to the central government (as paymaster). Of course that made payroll more expensive, so some bean-counter probably decides to economize by skimping on the training budgets. Plus between the end of the Time of Troubles and the beginning of the Great Uprising, the Imperial heartland had 40 years of peace so it’s not surprising the army got flabby from lack of exercise.
That explains so much, I think I just have professional = better ingrained in my head. Leo has to be planing something but I have no idea how he could carry it out in his position. Perhaps he's hoping to distract Iskander enough for the Romans to sneak something around him? (wishful thinking on my part)
 
So, Romanos was the first captured Emperor, Andreas the first captured Kaisar (I think?)

That doesn't bode well for him, or for the Romans in general - his rescue will likely need to be a priority.
 

Arrix85

Donor
That went surprisingly well. (Finally we have the names of Iskandar's sons. Family tree updtate! I'll post it when the WW will begin). It will be interesting to see the aftermath of this war, the romans can't give back the black stone, they gave it to the Marinids....
 
He was the Beylerbey of Mazandaran, the Garden of the Shahs, the Beautiful Province, the wealthiest per capita of all the regions of the empire. He also commanded its armies in the field, fourteen thousand Qizilbash, four thousand sipahi cavalry, and two thousand Uzbek auxiliaries. The next largest provincial army, that of Khuzestan, numbered fourteen thousand total.
The old-style Turkish soldiery such as the Janissaries were nowhere in sight.
I can't help but feel you're foreshadowing something here. I would assume that the Turks are getting increasingly resentful as they get sidelined by the Persians. Sure they're a minority now but still an old and proud one.
 
I can't help but feel you're foreshadowing something here. I would assume that the Turks are getting increasingly resentful as they get sidelined by the Persians. Sure they're a minority now but still an old and proud one.
A tentative of coup d'etat (maybe with the participation of Prince Osman) with Iskander taking refuge in the Roman prisoners camp? :)
 
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