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Thread: Echoes of Antiquity: The Hellenes in the West

  1. #1
    Marble Emperor's Avatar Civis
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    Default Echoes of Antiquity: The Hellenes in the West

    Campaign Goals: To re-establish the Western Roman Empire, to make the Western Mediterranean a "Mare Nostrum," and to destroy the Lombard Kingdom.
    Mods: Sebidee's Age of Charlemagne Overhaul (tweaked to add a few units and round off the roster for Theme of Sicily, also combined with MoonHoplite's Byzantine Expedition mod).
    Echoes of Antiquity: The Hellenes in the West
    Spring, 768 CE
    From the first moment I arrived in Syrakousai, I could feel the history of this place begin to captivate me. A Greek city founded in the West, militarily distinguished in fighting Athenians, Carthaginians and Romans, but ultimately conquered by the Roman Proconsul Marcus Claudius Marcellus. And now, with barbarians occupying the West, this place is again at the center of the world.

    I spent the first few days in the city meeting many of the local elite and acquainting myself with them as best I could. Everyone seems to be aware that my brother, the Emperor Leo IV was the one who personally dispatched me here. For now, it seems that this will keep the majority of people in line. They know that Konstantinoupolis has its eyes fixed on what happens here.

    I was initially apprehensive about the all of the various challenges facing my rule here, but I found great solace in the company of one of the daughters of the last Strategos of the Thema. Her name is Flora, and aside from her beauty I cannot help but find myself enthralled with her articulate way of speaking and her well thought-out views. We first danced at a feast in honor of the new leadership of the Thema. We ended up spending almost the entire evening together and talking about a number of topics, much to the chagrin of many of the local nobles who sought to propose docket items to me outside of the council chamber. I find that she is remarkably optimistic about the future, and although she lost her father in a skirmish with the Lombards of Benevento, she harbors no vengeful feelings towards them. It is strange, I sometimes forget who is courting who when I am with her.

    All is not as pleasant as my time with Flora however, I must also attend to matters of state. I tapped the shoulders of two prominent local statesmen, Isaac and Martin to assume governorship of the provinces of Sardinia & Corsica and Calabria. I also promoted Isaac to the rank of Magistrate and Martin to the rank of Retainer. Mauricius, my chief naval officer was granted the rank of Dux. After reviewing our finances, I also determined that it was most prudent that I disband all unnecessary military units until the state's affairs are in order, and we are prepared for war. After releasing his men from service, Mauricius put his ship to port temporarily at Akragas.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 





    Summer, 768 CE
    I proposed to Flora and she was somehow foolish enough to accept. We were married at a vineyard on the hillside overlooking Akragas. Even though we have only been married for a little over a month, she has proven incredibly useful in helping me understand the local politics. She knows the local nobles far better than I ever will from her time at court when her father was Strategos. She knows who is trustworthy and who is not. Who is ambitious and who can be sated; the information she has given me is valuable beyond measure. At her behest, I nominated a man named Theodore to govern Sikelia, who already seems to be making a positive impact. I also had Admiral Mauricius sail back to Syrakousai from Akragas, so as to reinforce the visibility of military men in the capital.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Autumn, 768 CE
    Only six months into my rule, I have failed my first test. Desiderius, King of the Lombards, declared war upon our defensive ally, the Republic of Venice. He knows that we do not yet have the resources or infrastructure to fight a war against his larger, more populous kingdom. Even if I levied every able bodied man in Sikelia, Kalabria and the Korsika and Sardinia into a poorly equipped militia and marched to aid them. The Lombards could have the city down to a pile of cinders before I was halfway there. I had no choice but to abandon the Venetians to their fate. I sent word to my brother, and he accepts my decision, but I have lost a certain amount of credibility among other nations already. Desiderius will pay for his opportunism, one way or another.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Winter, 768 CE
    Aside from hearing updates on various building projects I have commissioned across the Thema, I mostly spent the winter planning. Advisors from across the Thema were brought in and a military council was assembled. The obvious first target is Taras, it has long been considered the capital of the province of Kalabria, and it should serve well as a base to receive supplies and support both from Sikelia and Hellas. It is also the largest port possessed by the Lombard-vassal duchy of Maloenton. removing the Vassal duchies of Maloenton and Spoleto from the picture is going to be the primary objective, after this has occurred, peace should be sought and the territory that is captured should be rebuilt from the devastation of war. At least that is the limit of the expectations of my advisors.

    I am experienced in war only so far as I spent time as an officer in the wars against the Bulgars in the Balkans. I have slain a man in battle, and I have coordinated men and supplies on and off the battlefield but I have never commanded an entire army on my own, and I know that I will require assistance from the experienced soldiery of the Thema. My brother always said that best mark of a good ruler is one who listens to those around him, I will trust his judgment in this.

    Spring, 769 CE
    The economic growth in Sikelia and across all of the provinces has been marked since I have ascended to leadership. The merchants in Syrakousai are reaping so much wealth that our tax revenue has nearly doubled. This allows me more freedom to fund building projects and get the provincial infrastructure into the kind of shape that it will need to be to endure the costs of a prolonged war. My advisors tell me that this growth must be sustained if we are to be in the kind of fighting shape that I would like to be. As it stands, the Thematic government is reaping about four thousand gold talents every season in tax income; I am told that to build a fully fledged Navy and Army, we will need to be making around six thousand talents per season. This will be tough to accomplish, but I am confident that we will find a way.

    Flora has told me that I am beginning to obsess over the idea of war. I think that she fails to see the problem Desiderius' humiliation has inflicted upon me. He undermined my credibility, and he made me look weak when I really could not afford to. If I am ever to accomplish my goal of reclaiming Italy, I must be seen as a pillar of strength. For all her ambition, that she fails to see this, I will never understand.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Summer, 769 CE
    While visiting the city of Rhegion this summer, I was approached by their mayor with an interesting proposition. He introduced me to a young man by the name of Eugene who happened to be of Lombard descent. It turns out that his father was slain in an ill-fated rebellion against the Duke of Maloenton several years prior. Since then, he had fled and lived in exile under the protection of the Thema of Sicily, all unbeknownst to the Maloentines. But all this time, he had been seeking a way to undermine the Duke's rule and refer, working for me as a spy seemed to him to be a good means for him to cause problems for the aforementioned Duke. I took the man up on his offer, putting him on my payroll, seeing as how he was the perfect person to go unnoticed in the Lombard lands. I also was approached by an ex-officer by the name of Benedict who was well renowned for his role in the previous wars against the lombards. He was one of the chief lieutenants of the last Strategos, and he offered to assist me in training the troops and running recruitment drives, something which he had had much experience with in the past. I immediately accepted his offer as well.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Autumn, 769 CE
    Two months ago, I received a letter from Desiderius, he now stipulates that to even begin building up military forces will be taken as an act of war, and further that he will utilize any necessary force to destroy our fighting capability and remove any threat to his kingdom, should this occur. His aims with this letter are obscured to me because he knows as well as I do that I cannot sit on my hands forever and allow him to do whatever he likes in Northern Italy. His intentions to add Southern Italy to his domain are becoming clearer and clearer with each passing season. In response, I sent word to my brother and am awaiting word back, I expect him to give me the go-ahead to begin raising forces soon, even though we are not ready in terms of infrastructure or military technology. All of this is to say that my hands are tied, in the end I can only do so much; things take time, regardless of the mounting pressure from the council to act.

    To clear my head I left Syrakousai and went out to Flora's familial estate, where I can find some measure of peace. I finally get to spend some time with my beloved as well, which is always welcome. She showed me all of the places that she knew growing up, it was nice to put faces to the names of her friends and servants as well.

    Winter, 769 CE
    No entry.

    Spring, 770 CE
    Since midwinter, political crises have unfolded in Syrakousai that have drawn my complete attention. The assembly of the city sought to undermine me with foreign assistance and install a Strategos who is more favorable to the Lombards. Upon hearing of this, I had the suspected ringleaders rounded up and executed publicly. This was unpleasant, but necessary. I also had their firstborn sons taken as hostages and sent to Konstantinoupolis for "education." As long as they know my brother has their familial heirs at his disposal, the dissenting families will remain loyal. I learned this technique from watching how my uncle handled the Bulgars in Thrace. I never imagined I would have to do this to Roman citizens.

    Last edited by Marble Emperor; October 28, 2019 at 07:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Echoes of Antiquity: The Hellenes in the West

    A good beginning! Desiderius sounds like a dangerous foe, it looks like Eugene and Benedict will play important roles in preparing Sicily for the struggle ahead. It also sounds like Sicily was unlucky in diplomacy, they seem to have lost their defensive alliance with Venice and ended up at war against Vcenice's enemy anyway (unless I misunderstood what happened.)

  3. #3

    Default Re: Echoes of Antiquity: The Hellenes in the West

    In an attempt to make an informed vote about the Best Newcomer Award I came here to have a look at your stuff, and I must say, I am finding this quite good so far Marble Emperor. I have only read a few of the opening paragraphs (catching it in bits and pieces when I have a free moment at work), but the style is sharp and your use of language is really appropriate and immersive. I am eager to look through the rest of what you have so far, and see how you continue with this!
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  4. #4
    Turkafinwë's Avatar Cheerful Nihilist
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    Default Re: Echoes of Antiquity: The Hellenes in the West

    An excellent start! I like how we get a tiny glimpse on what kind of man Nicephoros is and the administrative tasks come with the job. Desiderius is set up as a great antagonist, with his conquest of Venice and threatning letter to the Romans. I'm interested to see how Nicephoros' journey will continue and if he will be able to restore the Western Roman Empire!
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Echoes of Antiquity: The Hellenes in the West

    Well, I managed to steal some time today and finish up that first update! And I must say, I'm glad that I did! This is a cool story, and you have set yourself a nice middle-ground with the detail of the storytelling, keeping it narrative in style but not getting too caught up in a novel-like presentation (that can be very nice, but it is also time-consuming, for both the writer and reader).

    I have one question about your game itself: Everything so far is focused around intrigues with the Lombards, but is there any chance that you may need to look south or west? I am not familiar with this game, and am wondering how secure your other flanks are, and whether you can afford to plow all of your resources into a conflict at the other end of the Italian Peninsula...
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  6. #6
    Marble Emperor's Avatar Civis
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    Default Re: Echoes of Antiquity: The Hellenes in the West

    Unfortunately the scope of the Age of Charlemagne campaign is quite limited and the map does not include North Africa or Greece, so I am a bit limited in early game enemies. Otherwise I would have loved the opportunity to restore the exarchate of Carthage. As it stands I must pretend that the Islamic states in North Africa are engaged in a standing truce with the Romans in Italy.

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