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Revelation 6:4
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I
heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four
beasts saying, Come and see.

And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on
him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he
went forth conquering, and to conquer.

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the
second beast say, come and see.

And there went out another horse that was red: and power
was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the
earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was
given unto him a great sword.

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third
beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black
horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A
measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of
barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice
of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that
sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And
power was given unto them over the fourth part of the
earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death,
and with the beasts of the earth


Hey guys.

First of all, I'd like to say thanks to all of you for being patient with me and (hopefully) being willing to continue reading despite my irregular upload schedule. I've had a lot of tests in the last month, and I fished myself right before one of those during a mood swing. My last test is on Monday, so once I get that done I'll get back to writing and posting, hopefully more frequently. Until then, I've written an introduction that will be posted below & entered into the frontpiece. I'll try and do a comment response tomorrow.


In the void left by the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1204, the exiled scions of the Komnenos Dynasty were able to stage a victorious return to their homeland, establishing the Trapezuntine Empire. In the years after, the Pontic Empire and the House of Megalokomnenos both withered under constant foreign assault. However, the exiled Alexandros has returned from exile like his forefathers, determined to resurrect his realm’s fortunes and raise it to new heights. The rebirth of Rome has begun….

(The Story so Far)

Ioannes IV of Trapezous, a patricidal but buffoonish ruler, attempted to intercept a raid in force on Trapezous’ eastern territories and was utterly routed, being forced to ride into the sea to escape his pursuers. This defeat alerts his exiled brother, Alexandros, to the weakness of the realm and with the help of the Genoese he overthrows Ioannes in 1450. Over the following years, Alexandros overhauled the Trapezuntine state and army in preparation for war with the Ottomans, reshaping the Empire in his image. Thankfully, before the Turks attack a coalition of Latin crusaders savage the Sublime Porte, leading to the collapse of Ottoman Europe and the subsequent loss of Ottoman Anatolia to the Karamanids. Alexandros I died in 1465, leaving a disputed succession.

After his death, Alexandros’ sons, Alexios and Sabbas, struggled over the throne. Sabbas succeeded in seizing the capital, and forced Alexios to flee to the fortress of Kapnanion, to which he then laid siege. In 1466, Alexios sallies out as his Kartvelian (Georgian) allies arrive to support him, but in the ensuing battle both he and Sabbas are killed.

The throne passes to Alexios’ underage son, Alexandros II, with his Kartvelian mother, Keteon, as regent. After a contentious period of sole regency, she remarries to one of Sabbas’ lieutenants, Alexios Mgeli, to secure the support of the military. Keteon and Mgeli rule for the next decade, conquering several adjacent territories and resisting the advances of the Chandarid Turks.

In 1475, Alexandros II took the throne in his own right. He conquers southern Crimea, Paphlagonia and is given the city of Vatoume in exchange for supporting the king of Kartvelia against a usurper. In 1482, he declared war against the Ottomans in conjunction with the Venetians, only for them to abandon him. The Turks lay siege to Trapezous herself, but are unable to take it and are ravaged by the winter and disease. The Trapezuntines and Kartvelians are together able to repulse them. Alexandros creates a network of alliances to protect Trapezous, overseeing an era of prosperity and domestic quiet. A decade on, the Trapezuntines assist the Kartvelians in driving back a Mongol horde. By the time of his abdication, Alexandros had presided over two decades of peace and internal growth, but he essentially ignored his own family to do so. In 1506, he suffered a nervous breakdown and abdicated.

The throne passed to a distant cousin, Nikephoros, as the princes Alexios and Romanos were psychotic and barely functioning, respectively. Nikephoros was a kind but not especially competent ruler, and he allowed Alexios to make a deal with Anastasia Katsarina, a powerful courtier, under his nose. In 1507 he was assassinated.

Alexios V was a deranged and tyrannical ruler. In a brief conflict with the Samtskheotes, he annexed a good bit of land, but this only made him more paranoid about foreign and domestic threats. Over his seven years in power, he would have hundreds murdered and hundreds more imprisoned or sold into slavery. Finally, he was assassinated by Katsarina, but before the fatal wound ended him he purged the court and most of the army of any suspected traitors. He was succeeded by his only son, the underage David.

David’s first two years on the throne were tumultuous, as a rotating cast of would-be regents fought for control. Eventually, the megas doux Loukas Ratetas took the regency, ruling competently and honorably in the name of his ward. During the regency, the Greeks of Bithynia revolted against the Ottomans, and with Trapezuntine help the Turks were driven out from much of the country, and the resurrected Empire of Nikaia united in personal union with Trapezous. At Ratetas’ death, David smoothly began to rule in his own right.

In 1525, a Mongol horde shattered the combined might of Trapezous and Kartvelia at Ananuri. All of eastern Georgia fell under Mongol rule, but with Trapezuntine help the west was able to hold out under the leadership of Mamia Dadiani, who David considered to be his ally. Shortly afterwards, the Rûmites invaded under the sultan Kadir, but after several years of warfare they were repulsed. The Qutlughid Persian Empire, whom the Trapezuntines were nominally vassals of, took interest and invaded Rûm as well, but Kadir managed to evade Qutlughid armies and nearly take their capital before he was crushed. Because the Trapezuntines hadn’t aided him but the Kartvelians had, Shah Arslan helped Dadiani drive out the Mongols, and they turned against David, reducing several of the border territories.. Insulted and betrayed, David plans a war of revenge, seeking out new allies and new ways of fighting.


Want to pick up Levan story?
Yes, please. Sorry for not posting the last one earlier, it fell by the wayside and I forgot about it.
So, David invented a kind of Trapenzutine Tercio? This is gonna be good.
You hit it right on the nose. Obviously, the style of warfare in the Near East is quite different from that of Continental Europe, so there is more of a need for cavalry defense, but the broad strokes are more or less the same.
Start by writing some appendix. That’ll help a bit maybe.

Honestly, the most Timeline choice would be to show us the fallout of David’s submission to Arslan. Maybe have the people begin protesting over some fake news that said David “begged and licked the boot of Islam to save himself” Or something along those lines. Then have David show us his political acumen and bounce back from this Or maybe make things even worse and show the deteriorating economic situation
Thanks for the advice, I've taken it into consideration and am writing out something along those lines.
Yes, please. Sorry for not posting the last one earlier, it fell by the wayside and I forgot about it.

Dont worry, ill post it.

It was Saturday, the busiest day in most of the Tabriz markets. And in the middle of the market, Menachem had already setup his store and began to carry the orders:

- Ahmed, 15 rolls of linen fabric.
- Onur, 3 skin bags.
- Bogdan, 4 silk cloths - straight from Kashgar.

Besides these requests, the store used to get wool and skins from the locals, exchanging them for more goods or just buying it.

His servant helped him a lot. After he learned to read, he demonstrated an innate hability for reading and maths - skills very useful to trade.

Suddenly, horses, dust, all together near the market. In the middle of the dust cloud, a fully armoured man emerged. Other armed men began to appear.

"The Quthlug army, needs more arms, to defend you from the menace that lurks on the north!"

And the other men went to the market, the stores and houses - a routinary mass levy had begun. Its been a while it didnt happened one of these levies.

"Hmmm, maybe i have an use for you old man... you can be a nice decoy!!" And a rude laughter echoed through the market where the levy was carried on.

"Sorry captain. As you see, my age starts to crumble upon myself. But hear this, let my servant carry my duty. He helped me so much with the store! Im sure it will be more useful to you."

And Menachem pointed to the servant - he was writing in the table and checking the coins.

"Dont worry about me, i can go on with the business as usual. Kid! come here!"

"Very well, lets see what you can offer to the army, which is your name, servant?"

"Levan, Levan of Tbilisi, sir"
Part LX: The Davidine Army (1527-1533)


From here on out I'll be aiming for smaller updates, and God willing I'll be able to keep up a steady schedule. Additions and revisions from the draft are in red.

Part LX: The Davidine Army (1527-1533)

The First Rûmite-Trapezuntine War greatly impacted the Trapezuntine military. With many of his best soldiers killed in the east or exhausted by months of constant marching, David had been forced to rely almost entirely on the interior bandons. They had done well, comparatively speaking, but the near famine that ensued because of their long absence was a warning of future crisis, and their inability to campaign for extended periods of time put them at a serious disadvantage. With the lessons of the last wars fresh in mind, it was time for David to overhaul the army.

The most pressing issue was the near-complete lack of high-quality cavalry. Neither the Greeks nor the Lazes were equestrian-inclined peoples, and the mountains and forests of the Pontic coast did little to rectify this. The Turkmen were excellent horsemen, but they were restive at best and outright hostile at worst, and none of the Trapezuntine rulers were willing to take the risk of allowing them into the army as anything other than scouts or outriders. As such, they had gotten on for centuries without anything more mobile than light infantry. This had been tolerable while Trapezuntine interests were limited to the coastal highlands, but now that they were pushing into the interior a counter was needed to the fast-moving horsemen of the Rûmite and Qutlughid armies. While Djoga the Grey and his Mongol horde were servants of the aftokrator, their pastures in Perateia were too distant to be of good use, and there weren’t enough of them to be truly advantageous anyway. However, the submission of the Qizilbaş of Erzincan to Trapezous planted a seed, and as David undertook his military reforms this speed would sprout into a great forest.

The Qizilbaş were a strange bunch. For centuries, groups of nomads had passed through the Armenian Highlands en route to greener pastures, and by-and-by some of them had broken off and remained in the region. By the 16th century, the region was dominated by the Oghuz, Turkmen and smaller groups of semi-nomadic Persians, Kurds, Lurs, Talyshes and even some Uzbeks and escaped slaves. The one thing uniting this disparate group of nomads, semi-nomads and craftsmen was faith; for varying reasons over the centuries, the Qizilbaş had fallen under the influence of the Safaviyya, a Shi’a mystic order headquartered at Ardabil on the eastern edge of the South Azerbaijan Highlands. The Safaviyya held sway over much of the mountainous Middle East, as various Qizilbaş bands wandered about and took up service as mercenaries and elite troops. By the 1520s, Ardabil’s shadow spread as far west as Syria, where a Qizilbaş tribe had followed the Çandarids towards Egypt, and as far east as Karakum Desert. Nonetheless, the bulk of the Qizilbaş resided in an arc stretching from northwestern Persia into Anatolia, straddling the Rûmite-Qutlugh borderlands.

Despite their influence, the heterodox beliefs of the Safaviyya meant that neither of the neighboring realms could fully embrace them, instead keeping them at arm’s length and limiting their religious expression and practical control to keep their hold on the rest of the country. Both Tabriz and Konya were cold and somewhat overbearing masters by necessity of their Sunni faith, something which Trapezous did not have to be. The vassalization of the Qizilbaş in Erzincan had opened the possibility of a symbiotic relationship with the Safaviyya in David’s mind, and he hoped to use the mystic order both to reinforce his armies and allow him to spread his influence throughout the region. In 1529, he secretly wrote to Ali Mirza, the head of the Safaviyya, and offered him land, protection and funds if he agreed to an alliance between them. Ali Mirza was quite afraid of Arlsan’s potential wrath and so refused out of hand, but kept the message quiet as a future source of leverage. Nonetheless, the offer of support and protection from various feuding enemies led a few thousand of the Qizilbaş to migrate into Trapezuntine territory, settling around Erzincan. From these men, David was able to extract a pledge of loyalty, securing the first of his new cavalry forces.

In 1531, Ali Mirza died of an unknown illness, passing the office of head of the order to his brother, Esma’il. Esma’il was a warrior-poet, one of the greatest commanders of the Qutlughid Empire; he had led the Qizilbaş as the vanguard of Qutlughid armies in lands as distant as Kartvelia, the Hindu Kush and Syria, fighting in dozens if not hundreds of actions but emerging without so much as a single wound. He was regarded by his men as a heaven-sent commander who would never lose a battle, and had briefly become the left-hand of the shah himself. However, now that Arslan was clearly on the brink of death, Esma’il looked to secure a place for his marginalized group in the near future. David wrote to him as he had his brother, and this time received a positive response. That autumn, Esma’il and his followers would abandon Ardabil and relocate to Erzincan (and to a lesser extent, Erzurum), establishing the city as the new capital of the order and developing a tacit patron-client relationship with David and Trapezous. This arrival caused a small deal of domestic turmoil within the country, but this was entirely overshadowed by the sheer force--more than 15,000 fighting men--that the newcomers brought with them, as well as the promise of more men that could be called upon if war were to break out. While the relationship between Trapezous and Erzincan seemed to be good, no-one could be truly sure of its future until push came to shove and the armies were mustered out….

With a strong cavalry force secured, David turned his attention to his infantry. As previously mentioned, the bandons were competent and reliable, but couldn’t be kept in the field for very long because of their semi-professional nature. David saw no reason to replace them entirely, but it had become apparent that another force was needed, something that combined the numbers of the bandons with the discipline and endurability of the eleutheroi, even if they didn’t fully match up. There weren’t nearly enough slaves available to create an expanded eleutheroi of the proper size, and so an army of natives would be needed. The ruler and his generals got to work experimenting with ethnic composition (Greek/Laz/Armenian, etc.), the recruiting basis of the new force (entirely volunteer or mixed), the weapons and uniforms of the new army and even their drills and tactics. From this process of trial and error had, by 1531, emerged the neostrategos.

The neostrategos arose from the simple observation that an army which ground down the enemy at a distance would take less casualties than an army which relied primarily on melee combat. Advances in weapons technology meant that muskets could be produced on a grand scale, even grander than that of the cannons, and given that it was much easier to train musketeers than it was to train bowmen, a force of gunmen seemed entirely possible. Of course, they’d be vulnerable while they reloaded, so they would need to either fire in lines, or have protection from ‘classical’ phalanx formations, preferably both. They should never be advanced beyond the line and so should maintain the support provided by the main line, but there had to be enough conventional soldiers to ward off any enemy charges. Any such unit would also have to be spread out enough to make good effect of their muskets, but not so spread out that they couldn’t be maneuvered. There were so many demands and requirements that needed to be balanced….

The first true neostrategos regiment was fielded in 1530. It numbered an even thousand men, of which fifty were corpsmen, standard bearers and other secondary combatants. The regiment was drilled to be able to form up in a half-dozen different ways, in a manner similar to that of the old bandon system. There were two types of foot soldiers. The pikemen bore polearms such as pikes, spears and billhooks and were heavily armored as benefited a conventional melee army of the period. The musketeers, meanwhile, were armed primarily with muskets, as well as a mixture of lighter weapons--swords, axes and maces, etc.--as a last ditch defense, and some lighter armor as well. Both groups wore dark blue tunics, and the long Lazic hats that the Ottomans had once used. The hope was that the two groups would be able to support each other, strengthening them and allowing them to function like armies in miniature.

David intended to raise some fifteen of these regiments, but by the time war would break out in the east only six of them had been mustered and trained. Ultimately, only twelve neostrategos regiments would be raised throughout David’s reign, most recruiting going to merely replacing losses from years on the battlefield. The units would prove to be quite effective, of that there was no doubt, but there was a great deal both public and private that the program was worth its ultimate cost. In a time fraught with financial uncertainties and declining revenues courtesy of the Spaniards and Irish, the costliness of the neostrategos--per head, they cost a time and a half as much as the eleutheroi to keep in the field--was a major drawback. The eleutheroi were also expanded, an action which drew some of the first direct criticism of David from the presses of Trapezous. The actions which David would take to lessen the financial burden incurred by these actions will be addressed later, but if it is true that they were at least partially motivated by fear of domestic turmoil, their consequences would be greatly ironic.

After direct military reform had been seen too, or more accurately once he had done all he could directly, David turned his attention to the Empire’s defenses. Fifty years before, the Pontic landscape and its winter had proven to be the undoing of a vast Turkish host, and as David (or perhaps Mgeli?) concluded, the Trapezuntine heartland and hinterland would both be immensely more defensible if the proper defenses were erected. Great deals of coin and labor would be invested into turning the Pontic Alps into a wall impenetrable by cannon or by traitors.

The Akampsis River had once been a major artery of trade connecting the Black Sea with Trapezuntine Samtskhe, but with the loss of Vatoume to the Kartvelians it became a liability, offering a highway into the heartland of the Empire to an invading force. David ordered all but one bridge across it destroyed, leaving only the crossing directly opposite Vatoume. The river was relatively narrow, but roared and crashed along the walls of its canyon with such speed and ferocity that it would be impossible to cross except in a few places, which were also fortified with cannonade. Any Kartvelian attack would have to come across that lone bridge, while the Trapezuntines could land nearly anywhere along the coastline, if not in Vatoume itself.

Due to the great expenses involved in constructing fortifications, David was forced to be choosy in the location of the strongholds which were erected during this period. The bulk of them lay along the eastern and southern frontiers, but there were some exceptions made where geography dictated that they be pulled back from the border. For instance, Erzurum--which sits exposed in the Armenian Highlands--was defended only by its (expanded and reinforced) city walls, the outer line of defenses running through the mountains to its north. While physical hardpoints were few, David made good use of Mgelian tactics. Roads were slimmed to easily obstructed chokepoints, small forts were hidden in dense stands of trees to serve as raiding bases, gutters were cut in mountainsides to flood out roads if they were ever opened, and the bandons stationed along these roads were supplied with caltrops and all sorts of nasty traps to slow down or even halt any invading force.

It didn’t matter how many men came against Trapezous if none of them reached it.

As previously mentioned, David’s remilitarization efforts were exorbitant, and required the payment of a vast amount of money to various sources. By 1531, the sakellaroi were struggling to keep up payments, and eventually he outright begged David to stop. The young ruler felt that his mobilization wasn’t complete, but had been expecting a cashflow problem to break out for some time now and so relented. Trapezous was, in his mind at least, in as good condition as he could realistically hope for it to be going into a future conflict with the Kartvelians or Qutlughids.

The timing of this decision couldn’t have been better. A few weeks after the sakellarios’ desperate request, Arslan II was dead, and the Qutlughid Empire was suddenly pitched into chaos. Trapezous, now far stronger than before, was perfectly placed to take her revenge with all haste…*
Part LXI: A House Divided (1534-1535)


Part LXI: A House Divided (1534-1535)

By the time of his death in April 1534, Arslan II had ruled the Qoyunlu Horde and the Qutlughid Empire for a combined total of fifty-six years. Victorious in nearly every war he had fought, he had expanded the frontiers of his empire from the Mediterranean in the west to the Hindu Kush and even briefly Delhi in the east, and from the Amu Darya and Caucasian Mountains in the north to the vast wastes of Arabia in the south. Persia was once more a powerful empire, unified by Sunni Islam, Arslan’s simplified system of laws and the centralized administration of Tabriz. By every metric of the word. Arslan was a great ruler. However, these achievements were fueled at least in part by extraordinary good fortune, and as the self-proclaimed Lion of Iran passed from this earth his dynasty’s fortune would go with him….

The military success of Arslan’s reign is indisputable, as evidenced by a map of Western Asia in the early 1530s. Dozens of independent kingdoms, statelets and tribes had been crushed and incorporated into the Qutlughid Empire as its great armies had swept out in all directions over several decades of constant low-intensity warfare. The combination of gunpowder-based infantry and professional corps of cavalry was a lethal one, and in both quality and quantity the Qutlughids were one of the foremost military powers in the world. Less obvious was the demographic rebound that occurred across the empire. Once an area had been conquered, the Qutlughids were quite good at ensuring it remained conquered and in many places the half-century or so of peace and stability were the first such period since the Mongol conquest. According to the census of 1533 (940 Hijiri), the population of Iran had finally recovered from the Mongol devastation of centuries previous and passed 3,000,000 for the first time, while the population of the empire at large was around 15,000,000. The Qutlughids also controlled a broad stretch of the world’s most valuable trading networks and farmland, and the collected riches of the region were immense.

As Arslan’s death drew near, all of this--unimaginable wealth and splendor, millions of subjects and the most powerful state in Western Asia, if not the world west of China--was up in the air. Like many Islamic rulers, Arslan had an almost comically large harem--supposedly 100,000 women, so many that he physically couldn’t have had sex with them all--and a practical legion of sons. Given the sheer number of his children, he was able to pick and choose the most intelligent and capable of his sons to give roles in his government and groom towards succeeding him. The shahanshah tried to balance the need for ‘backup’ heirs as a contingency and the danger posed by having multiple claimants with the skills needed to properly stage a coup, but ultimately he strayed too far towards the former.

In the end, his chosen heir was his thirty-fourth son, Muhammed Rostam (b.1504) the son of an Armenian slave. Rostam reminded Arslan of himself, already a renowned warrior and poet of quick wit and hand at only eighteen. After several years of specific, focused training, Rostam was growing into a wise, calculating ruler. Inspired by stories of Harun al-Rashid, the young prince took to disguising himself and traveling amongst the people of Tabriz to see how they lived and give charity. Although devout he was not overly so, aware that the religious minorities of the empire might revolt if persecuted, and already had several children of his own. Wishing to give Rostam the best start to his reign as possible and feeling death creeping upon him, Arslan entrusted the Qal’i Sword[1] and the Crown of Arslan[2] to him in the winter of 1533, imprisoning his brothers in Tabriz in a gilded cage and ordering the other competent claimants to come to the capital to pay tribute to him. This was done by March over the quiet grumbling of several of Rostam’s brothers, and the great shahanshah prepared to leave the earth.

At last, at the age of 81, Arslan died on 3 April 1534[3]. Word of his passing rippled out across the city like a wave and the people fell into mourning as a figure of stability for more than a century finally passed. The bazaar and all of its wings were shuttered and all business and dealings in the city ground to a halt. Arslan was ritually bathed and then enshrouded, and the people of the city held a great procession as he was carried to the cemetery. In later years, it would be said that the city seemed to vibrate with the recitation of funeral prayers. Because of all this ritual and ceremony, the discovery of the burnt and horrifically mutilated corpse of a guardsmen in Lake Urmia went ignored by the city watch, despite the gleaming bolt driven through his heart.

The stability which Arslan had tried to ensure began to unravel before his body was even cold. Once the Qutlugh princes returned to the palace for the usual three-day mourning period they began to bicker amongst themselves over everything from the food at the public reception to who should sit upon the throne. In particular, the sixteenth son, Mohammed Siyavash (b.1491), had also been trained in the arts of war and statecraft and in fact was much more experienced than Rostam, which Siyavash believed ought to make him the next shahanshah. Rostam was furious at this, and shouted at his brother that he was saved from execution only by the mourning period, and that if he did not give up his claim he would kill him himself. One of the other brothers, Mohammed Kurosh, managed to talk them down, but it was a foreshadowing of things to come.

On 7 April, the mourning period complete, Rostam was publically crowned and re-girded in the Blue Mosque, being hailed by the people of the city as the rightful shahanshah and heir to Arslan. He emerged to further cheering by his subjects, and for a few short minutes he was the sole and undisputed ruler of Persia. Then a gold-tipped quarrel blossomed out of his throat, and the shahanshah toppled to the ground, dead. Horrified silence fell over the crowd for a long second, and then the panic hit. Mobs rushed in all directions, screaming and shouting and trampling each other as three more of the princes went down. The guardsmen struggled to surround the surviving princes and then rushed them back inside, where they huddled until night fell.

Soldiers and watchmen combed the city in the following days, hunting for the mysterious assassin while the princes squabbled over their rights to the throne. Several of the princes were killed over the following weeks, and despite the frequency of the attacks the sniper was impossible to identify. Accusations flew as princes accused each other of killing their brothers for personal gain. The only connecting elements were their family and the gold-tipped quarrels, which could only be traced to some Greek who’d been dead for the better part of the last decade, and so an investigation was almost impossible to conduct. Rostam should legally be succeeded by his eldest son, the eleven-year-old Alp Muhammed, but Siyavash and several others claimed that Alp Muhammed’s Latin mother had baptized him as an infant, which they claimed made him illegitimate. With so much power and money on the table, the only Qutlugh willing to support Alp Muhammed’s claim was one of the younger sons, Alp Temur, who was quite the charismatic speaker. Alp Temur seemed to be on the verge of swaying most of his brothers to his cause when, in mid-April, Alp Muhammed was shot through the chest by the assassin and bled out. With the chief obstacle to his claim on the throne gone, Siyavash was free to proclaim himself the rightful heir of Arslan, and despite Alp Temur’s attempts to rally support for Rostam’s other son, Arslan the Younger, he could not be stopped.

On 5 May, Siyavash was crowned and girded in a much less public ceremony, proclaiming himself the rightful shahanshah and being hailed as such by the crowd that could squeeze into the Blue Mosque proper. By this point many of his brothers had fled the capital, rightfully suspecting that he would attempt to purge them, but those which remained in Tabiz were rounded up and confined inside the harem complex. After extracting pledges of loyalty from all of these, Siyavash then mustered out the (much-expanded after Kadir’s attack) city army and had it hail him as well, hoping to secure their loyalty further. He announced a pay-raise for all soldiers who followed him, which quickly won the support of most of the military. He then ordered all of his brothers to return to Tabriz or face execution, throwing down the gauntlet.

Most of the princes would reluctantly comply or flee beyond the borders of the empire, but two raised their standards in revolt. First was Alp Temur, who had slipped out of Tabriz after Alp Muhammed’s death with Arslan the Younger and fled to Herat, the capital of the Qutlughid East. The region wasn’t especially rich and much of it was still controlled by clans and aristocrats, but the east was the most heavily militarized part of the empire because of the need to defend from the Uzbeks and the Sisodians. Alp Temur promised a 25% pay raise to any soldiers who struck for he and Arslan the Younger and quietly negotiated with the local clans, offering them greater rights and autonomy. At this time there were also a great number of dispossessed Indian Muslims who’d been exiled from India proper but were still quite good at fighting, and Alp Temur was able to raise several thousand of them as light horsemen. Within a few short months, tens of thousands of men had rallied to Alp Temur and Arslan the Younger. Siyavash made several assassination attempts against them as he gathered his own soldiers, but it was perfectly clear that the two great armies would meet on the battlefield bar divine intervention.

Meanwhile, another one of Arslan’s sons, a very minor figure named Mohammed Khosrau (b.1495), slipped out of Tabriz and fled southward. He arrived at Basrah a few weeks later but laid low, wanting to let the conflict between the others play itself out before making his own play for the throne. As the armies of Siyavash and Alp Temur assembled that summer and began to make probing attacks prior to the first major actions in the autumn, Mohammed Khosrau wrote to the vassal sultan of Damascus, Jibril al-Ghazali, and asked for his support for a rising. al-Ghazali gave a non-committal answer, not wanting to lose his throne in case things went sideways, and Khosrau was left in a vulnerable position, without any supporters but known to a potential ally of one of his half-brothers.

In November 1534, Alp Temur and Siyavash met outside Varamin and fought an inconclusive battle just north of the city. The two armies had converged on the region after Alp Temur opted to follow the northern road towards Tabriz rather than swinging south to take the south road and potentially leave Herat exposed. Siyavash’s army numbered 20,000 infantry and 5,000 horsemen, while Alp Temur’s host numbered 20,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry, albeit with Siyavash’s host being of a slightly higher quality. Seeing his half-brother camped across the river, Alp Temur split his forces, sending most of his cavalry south to ford the river and attack him in the rear. Siyavash saw this and used the opportunity presented by his temporary numerical superiority to try and force a crossing against Alp Temur’s weaker force. After several hours of thick and bloody fighting, Siyavash’s men succeeded in gaining a bridgehead on the river, but Alp Temur’s cavalry was returning and Siyavash gave the order to pull back. The greatest impact of this battle was to make a long, drawn-out conflict certain, as Alp Temur physically could not advance all the way to Tabriz before the snows set in.

When word of Varamin reached Basrah, Mohammed Khosrau decided that the time was right. He proclaimed himself the shahanshah, and with a fiery and impassioned speech managed to swing many of the locals to his cause. He pillaged the provincial treasury, where the payments of the Anatolekoi to Tabriz and Trapezous as well as normal tariff revenue were kept, and sent out a call for mercenaries into the desert. He rallied the local militias and border troops to his cause, and within a few short weeks had a few thousand infantry and several thousand more Bedouin cavalry willing to fight for him. As 1534 came to a close he marched on Baghdad, taking the city and parading through it to cheers of ‘Shahanshah!’.

As 1535 began, the Qutlughid Empire was tearing itself apart….

[1] This is the White Sword of the Prophet, which Arslan purchased from one of the Mamluk emirs during the sultanate’s collapse. It and the crown would become the chief symbols of the Qutlughids and their legacy.
[2] During Arslan’s time, the crown would’ve been known as the Crown of Persia. It was designed in 1493 for his coronation as Shahanshah the following year, and made by a specialized team of smiths, forgers and jewellers. It was a radiant crown (think statue of liberty) made of gold, with an ivory band around its rim and its spikes inlaid with constellations of small gemstones. Because of its association with Arslan it would become known to history as the ‘Crown of Arslan’, and used or copied by rulers trying to associate themselves with his conquests and the Pax Iranica that followed.
[3] The death of Arslan--or rather, Arslan/Ya’qub Beg--marks a fairly major milestone in the story. The last major figure who existed ‘in the same form’ for lack of a better word in both OTL and TTL has just shuffled off his mortal coil, and everything from here on out will have diverged from OTL to a major degree.
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The quality of these first two might not be too good as I'm more than a little rusty, but hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things soon.
Eyy it lives! Happy to see you back my man!

On a more related note, looks like it’s time forDavid to get his revenge. The Qutlughid Empire is busy shredding itself, the Sultanate of Rum is basically dead, the Golden Horde is gone, the Ottomans are on shaky grounds, and Trapezous has managed to get its economy and military organized enough to beat any power. The timing could not be more perfect for the RomanEmpire to take back its rightful lands from the Barbarians and Fakers.
On a more related note, looks like it’s time forDavid to get his revenge. The Qutlughid Empire is busy shredding itself, the Sultanate of Rum is basically dead, the Golden Horde is gone, the Ottomans are on shaky grounds, and Trapezous has managed to get its economy and military organized enough to beat any power. The timing could not be more perfect for the RomanEmpire to take back its rightful lands from the Barbarians and Fakers.
Soon the Komnenos will rule the Empire once more!
Glad to see this back, and the recent post couldn't be any more hype. Trapezous survived against all of their enemies by the skin of their teeth (Golden Horde, Sultanate of Rum, the Ottomans, and the Qutlughid Empire). So what happens now...?

Now it's time to wreck house.
Then a gold-tipped quarrel blossomed out of his throat, and the shahanshah toppled to the ground, dead.
Alp Temur seemed to be on the verge of swaying most of his brothers to his cause when, in mid-April, Alp Muhammed was shot through the chest by the assassin and bled out.
Looks like old Skaramagos has done a little trolling. I'd say making one of the largest empires in the world implode qualifies as sufficient revenge for his sufferings.
it's good to see that The Undying Empire's back!

also, who is David going to attack/invade first? I think continuing his conquest of Anatolia makes the most sense, so bye bye Neo-Rumites?

PS: will the tribezontines conquer/vassalise kartvellia evantually?
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