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Europe Edit

From Dal Riata in the 510s, a number of raiders sailed forth to bring their wrath upon neighboring Pictland. The Irishmen ravaged Pictland, though a series of sporadic raids that the Picts were utterly inept at repulsing, following some inconclusive battles between Pictish soldiers and the raiders, and a few unsuccessful retaliatory raids did little to deter the Dal Riata, and in fact helped solve interclan conflicts as the clans united to help drive the Picts out. In fact, the raids have been especially disruptive to Christian missionary activities, as a few Picts have begun to realize that converting away from Christianity will save them from the raids. Also in Dal Riata was founded the Knights of Fianna, a “holy order” styled surprisingly similar to one of the Latin Solar Orders, its membership open to any pagan willing to defend against the Christian or Drowned Goddess foreigners. The Knights are a common sight in Dal Riata these days.

(Dal Riata: -1 Infantry Company, +Loot) (Pictland: -1 Infantry Company, -Stability)

But in neighboring Ireland, the story was quite different. The process of Christianization was almost entirely finished in Ireland in the early sixth century, the last pagan clans wiped out through warfare in the 510s. The state of Connacht in the west rose in power in this period, at the expense of Desmond in the south, which suffered a number of catastrophic succession disputes that led to a number of subclans in the center of the island breaking off. Despite this, the elimination of many of the last pagan holdouts has marked an end to much of the religious-driven tension on the island.

(Irish Petty States: +Stability)

Britain was surprisingly peaceful through this period. Yr Henn Ogledd appeared to turn inwards, focusing on retaining the peace. Between 512 and 518, neighboring Brython launched a series of conquests to the east, to incorporate some of the German kingdoms to the east back under native Brythonic rule. Many of the Germans were displaced by the Brythons, replaced by Brythonic military colonists, who have quickly become a major landowning class in the newly taken territories. In addition, closer to home Brython has begun efforts at rebuilding the wreckage of some of the Roman-era roads which cross it, in hopes of easing transportation.

(Brython: -1 Infantry Company) (Germano-British Petty States: -2 Infantry Companies)

The Brythonic conquests alarmed neighboring Friso-Batavia, which began further fortifying the Brythonic frontier. Some of these improvements were a series of beacons that lined the frontier in Britain, a similar system which was installed along the country’s eastern frontier, which have served as a quite effective tool for border watchguards – so far it has helped protect against a number of sporadic raids.

All around the English Channel, Breton trade missions in particular, especially to Friso-Batavia, began to link the somewhat disparate countries of the region together, leading to something of an economic boom in these countries’ ports. They have also brought the Drowned Queen to more and more loyal venerators.

(Brython, Brittany, Friso-Batavia: +Economy Development)

Alemannia eschewed war in these years, in favor of tying its newfound large and somewhat diverse realm together. The Alemanni king hired Latin engineers to supervise the construction of a large harbor at the port city of Arburg, Alemannia’s sole Mediterranean possession at the mouth of the Ryneburn, which it also spared no expense fortifying. In addition, the Alemanni king promoted pluralistic policies of religious tolerance, of both the Christians and Allfatherists in the country, although perhaps he saw no other means to, without alienating half the country’s people – and, more importantly, aristocracy – by converting to one or the other. With a peace-focused king for once,

(Alemannia: +Stability)

In neighboring Aquitania, King Syragius, who ascended the throne in 510, instantly showed himself to be a devout Christian of the Gallic school, and instantly set about ensuring that everyone else in the country was as devout as he. First was to eliminate the last traces of paganism in the country. This was accomplished by the swordpoint, when proper Christian soldiers rode into the parts of the countryside where pagans still resided, and quite often forced, under pain of death. Left alone were adherents of the Drowned Queen and some others, especially in foreign quarters of Burdigala, a move perhaps necessary to avoid the ire of neighboring countries. But with harsh tactics, Syragius has further united Aquitania – perhaps it may yet prosper.

(Aquitania: +Stability, -2 Infantry Companies)

Germany was dominated by a cycle of warfare between the Goths and the Thuringians despite the two states’ collective Allfatherism. The simple fact was that, with the death of the Gothic king in 505, the Thuringians saw an opportunity to strike, and grab valuable land from their neighbors. But, as it would work out, the situation did not exactly turn out that way. The Goths stayed well away from the Thuringian army and regrouped, sending only small warbands to weaken the Thuringians. Eventually, when the Thuringians were sufficiently weakened, the Goths struck back, defeated their army, and drove them off. Another war erupted a decade later, only this time, the Goths managed to negotiate a temporary alliance with the Anglic king of Apland, who attacked the Thuringians from the southeast and profited nicely from their fall. By 516, Thuringia had been entirely subjugated by both countries. Most of the Thuringians have been incorporated into the ever-growing Gothic Kingdom. In Apland itself, Solar missionaries arrived in the 510s, and began to proselytize to some success there.

(Goths: -4 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies) (Apland: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company)

(Thuringia: -5 Infantry Companies, -6 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

The cold northlands of Europe were historically completely isolated from the rest of the continent. There was little there worth going for, so few Greeks and few Romans ventured there. But that has started to change. It had already begun in the fourth and fifth centuries, with the evolution of the Eldrachaa state. The Eldrachaa had developed a rather unique culture. Since the concept of a family as it exists elsewhere is completely alien to the Eldrachaa, children are only tracked through their mother’s line, and as such inheritance is matriarchal. Somewhat like the people of Nusantara on the other side of the globe, women are considered fit for faith, while men are considered fit for war, and the two genders stick to their respective roles. The entire state has a very communal quality to it, through the klennech system of village-level communes, though at the top it is still governed by a monarchy. It was with the adoption of the Allfather in the last quarter-century that the Eldrachaa truly centralized, and rules the north of Europe in 525.

To the east, another nation has arisen, in the narrow lands along the Baltic shore. The land of the Samojards has a history stretching back almost four centuries, to when in the late second century one Samojard woman named Selde had a vision of a god named Fatár telling her that the Samojards’ migration south alongside the Visigoths had been wrong, and so Selde led some of the Samojards back to their homelands on the Baltic coast, and settled a city, Trévoulld. Over the next three hundred years, the Samojard realm would expand, then break up amidst a mess of political intrigue, before in the last quarter century it reunited once more. Samojardia has already defeated the Yotvingians in a number of battles fought in the 520s, and it looks for expansion.

Unfortunately for some, the Eldrachaa expansion across the strait and the subsequent conquests of this land, in concert with the Samojard expansion into the land, meant that the people who had been living there rather peacefully for roughly a century beforehand were forced out or subjugated as Eldrachaa colonists arrived following the conquerors. While many would assimilate into the Eldrachaa or Samojard polites, many others, left with little chance of a livelihood, simply packed into longships and departed for new prospects abroad.

The Britons who spotted their boats off their eastern shore first would soon know them by one name, one that would strike terror in their hearts.

Vandals.

In 515, a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne, off the east coast of Britain, was savagely raided and sacked by mysterious “boat-people” from the east. In the following decade, a number of other coastal villages and monasteries would suffer similar fates. Even as stories, most of Britain has yet to bear any witness to these strange foreigners. But, indeed, that is the key word – yet.

The remaining Vandal communities and chiefdoms in the narrow lands between Eldrachaa, the Samojards, and Friso-Batavia continue to nevertheless fiercely resist subjugation, though their own fractional divisions mean that this is little more than a slow losing struggle. Meanwhile, Frisobatavian travelers report that warbands of tens of thousands of Vandals are assembling, with tales of lands of great wealth abroad, ready to leave their dying homeland for greener pastures.

The Scythians sent an envoy to Yotvingia, demanding a hefty amount in tribute, in exchange for Scythia leaving the Yotvingians alone. Knowing that if they fought, even with Dacian help, the Yotvingians could not last long and would more likely than not all be rounded up and sold into slavery, the Yotvingian king simply chose to pay the tribute, a decision that led to another round of unrest, with many tribal leaders now questioning the King’s authority. Outside Yotvingia, further attempts by the Scythians to advance down the Baltic coast were repulsed by Baltic tribes or the Samojards, though a Scythian military group did establish a trading post on the island of Gotland, which has mostly acted as a hub for Baltic slave traders.

(Yotvingia: -Stability)

But there is another issue. Scythia may be beginning to once again suffer from instability. With the army caught up in conflicts in the Caucasus, after the late 510s much of the north of the country began to suffer from increased unrest amongst local tribes. This would not have been a normal situation, but it was inflamed by some Balts being forced to migrate east into Scythian lands by the rise of the Samojards as a unifying force along the Baltic coast in the late fifth and early sixth centuries. How Scythia will handle this remains to be seen, but the might of Scythia remains completely undoubtable for now.

(Scythia: -Stability)

To the south, the Dacians remained ever-concerned about Scythian expansionism, especially after the incident with the Yotvingians, and as such, the Dacian crown spent a good deal of resources fortifying their province of Dacia Exterior, constructing a number of fortifications throughout that province’s countryside. In 512, on royal orders, a library was founded in the Dacian capital, Thermi-Davia.

(Dacia: +Culture Development)

The Kingdom of Svearia made efforts to centralize its administration and begin creating a permanent, advanced state that did not merely exist because its army told it to. So, the King set about doing this. First was to subjugate the loosely governed Dalmatian islands and their rogue fisherfolk inhabitants, which was done relatively quickly and without displacing too many of the inhabitants, though with some amount of bloodshed. With the help of military colonists who were granted large parcels of land in specific areas, with personal authority over villages and so forth in their locales, Svearia soon created a loyal system of control through their possessions. The Svearian crown also chartered the creation of a few Solar Orders to help manage the territory and convince heathens to praise the Sun, though these orders are so far completely independent of Rome.

(Svearia: -1 Infantry Company, -1 Squadron, +Stability, +Culture Development)

The Bulgar Khanate has begun to suffer. While at one point it may have been impressive and a force to be reckoned with, it has begun to suffer under the weight of numerous succession crises, as with the increasingly frequent deaths of every khan, multiple others rise up attempting to claim the leadership of the Khanate, and internal politics has begun to overwhelm external matters in importance in the Khanate. Meanwhile, Solar Faithful continue to rapidly spread their own faith in these lands. It is not too late to reverse this process, but the Khanate looks increasingly weak as of 525.

(Bulgas: -2 Cavalry Companies, -Stability)

The Carthaginian Wars Edit

The early sixth century saw the Mediterranean flare up into a war, when in 508 the Carthaginians launched an attack in Sicilia, placing Messana under siege, and simultaneously on Sardinia, pushing the Latins off the island entirely.

At first, the Carthaginian navy was able to hold its own. The Latin fleet had been separated from that being provided by their tributaries, and Carthage was able to strike, and cause heavy damage, including the capture of a number of the Latin ships – this alone was perhaps what prevented the Latins from landing. But when the tributaries’ fleet arrived, and regrouped with the main Latin fleet, and joined by their Cyrenaican allies, the added power was enough to hold off the Carthaginians long enough to land additional soldiers on Sicily, where the combined power of the Latins and their tributaries was enough to rout the Carthaginians and relieve Messana, and gradually in a series of battles and sieges fought between 509 and 512, drove the Carthaginians from Sicilia. In 512, the last Carthaginians on Sicilia chose to retreat to Africa rather than face death.

Simultaneously, the bulk of the Carthaginian military preoccupied with fending back the in the east, this opened up an opportunity for another power to strike. In 509, King Snorri of Nornidr passed away. His teenaged successor, King Brand, in the fortnight of his coronation saw a comet shoot across the sky, and took it as an omen for war. First taking Corsica, or Thrallmark, Brand proceeded to Baleares, but was unable to get past the Carthaginian fleet guarding the isles, so he proceeded to Iberia, and swiftly his men conquered it from its light defenders. Ultimately, the outmatched and outnumbered Carthaginians simply chose to retreat from Iberia altogether rather than have to deal with the overwhelming force – though Brand in 512 suffered a wound at the point of a knife, and took it as a sign that his conquests were over. Simultaneously, in 510, the Cyrenaicans launched an attack on Tripolitania, attempting. Entering 511, things looked quite grim for Carthage.

But the situation did improve. The Carthaginians regrouped with Tripolitania’s beleaguered defenders south of the city of Carthage and had pushed the Cyrenaicans back by 513, retaking Tripolitania and restoring the pre-war frontier, which continues to hold to this day. The Carthaginian navy remained supreme, having protected the Baleares, Sardinia, and the African coast, and continuing to do so.

The wars, or at least this phase of them, had been solidly concluded by 515, though technically no formal peace was ever agreed upon and a state of hostility continues to this day – perhaps these wars, as they were, are not yet over.

(Nornidr: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -2 Squadrons, +Loot) (Latin Dictatorship: -4 Infantry Companies, -2 Siege Trains, -7 Squadrons, +Navy Development) (Latin Tributaries: -4 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -5 Squadrons, +Navy Development) (Cyrenaica: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -3 Squadrons, -1 Siege Train)

(Carthage: -4 Infantry Companies, -4 Cavalry Companies, -1 Siege Train, -6 Squadrons, +1 Navy Development)

Nearby, Ishfania watched this entire sequence of events with reserved interest. In 501, Ishafanian and Carthaginian officials had signed a treaty recognizing a permanent peace at the current borders, in exchange for unhindered Mediterranean access for the Ishfanians. In the ensuing years, Ishfanian military colonists began to settle the frontier, in the hopes of creating a group of veterans who would be able to be quickly raised in event of war. Ishfania, in contrast to the chaos in the Mediterranean, remained prosperous, and in the countryside, Christianity continued to spread at the expense of Solar faithful.

When Nornidr assumed control of Iberia, or Ispanland, they quickly set about altering the landscape of the region. Many of the native Hispanics were captured and sold into slavery, replaced by Nording colonists. Aside from the slaves taken by Nording soldiers, large numbers of slaves from Iberia would thus proliferate through the Mediterranean and northern trade routes, as far north as Britain and Friso-Batavia, often arbitrated by Breton merchants – and the slaves brought their faith in Juno and local disruptions wherever they went. Many wound up in Aquitania, where a sort of Roman-era slavery began to grow once more. Others would wind up as cheap labor for military colonists. In the 520s, the arrival of these slaves would cause some number of ethnic disruption in their destination lands. In addition, King Brand divided Ispanland into six jarlings, each distributed to a loyal friend.

(Nornidr, Aquitania, Alemannia, Gothic Kingdom: -Stability)

Closer to Meduseld, a fortress, known as “Helmsdeep,” was erected in the Fells, in the last years of King Snorri’s reign. This was to serve as the centerpiece of Nornidr’s defenses should the kingdom ever fall to invasion. Snorri also started the construction of a vast shipyard in the swamps south of Meduseld, the Skiprgord, but died not long after – Snorri’s successor King Brand would finish it. Following the conquest of Ispanland, to keep his now-vast-expanded realm tied together, Brand also had a courier system established. The history of Nornidr in this time is known to us in great detail largely thanks to the work of a huscarl named Ivar Nimelung, whose son was one of the first Ispanlandic jarls.

(Nornidr: +Navy Development)

Sicilia was incorporated directly under the administration of the Roman senate. In the vicinity of Rome itself, following the conquest of Sicilia, work began on a great Temple to Sol in 522, a temple meant to eclipse even the fabled Pyramids of Egypt in size and scope. A number of Solar Legions began working on the temple’s construction, though as of 525 construction is still ongoing. In addition, the Senate approved funds for the improvement of harbors throughout Latiniki.

Carthage would actually recover somewhat from the war, pushing the frontier of the realm southwards into the lands of the Garmantes and Numidians, and increasing trade with them as well as across the Sahara softened the impact of the loss of Iberia. Construction began on a grand temple to Juno in the city of Carthage itself, though this was not yet finished as of 525.

Nevertheless, through the whole conflict, the normally smoothly flowing western Mediterranean trade routes suffered quite greatly, affecting all the nations involved. This, coupled with an upsurge in piracy in the Eastern Mediterranean, meant a sharp decline in trade.

West Africa Edit

On the other side of the Sahara, there was little of note that occurred – the news brought by caravans across the sands was not of wars of great conquests, but of entirely normal events. Ghana continued to grow in wealth, the neighboring Kingdom of Gao continued its expansion upriver, subjugating a number of local chiefdoms, with only a small amount of bloodshed. In the east, Pel Ma ‘ir remained the arbiter of the Sao confederacy, which suffered no shortage of internal politicking as recorded in the steles of the period, but nonetheless remained a united polity, and in much the same state as it had been in a quarter century earlier.

(Gao: -1 Infantry Company)

Hellas, Asia Minor, the Levant, Arabia, and the Erythraean Shore Edit

The Confederacy of Hellas in this time came under the leadership of the tyrant Pythoras, elected in 496 and considered by many a new and decisive man who would increase his office’s power, permanently – for better or worse. One of Pythoras’s first acts was to refurbish and revitalize the anemic Academies in the Confederacy’s capital of Athens, where the great philosophers and mathematicians and tacticians of the day will reside and teach, under perpetual patronage of the Tyrant – this has firmly established Athens as one of two major centers of western philosophy in the sixth century, the other being Rome. Pythoras’s other major act was to construct a truly magnificent harbor in Rhodes, to act as a staging point for the Confederacy’s fleets and for Eastern Mediterranean traders, especially those coming from Egypt and the Levant. These great projects are considered a show of the office’s potential power that could be quite dangerous in a certain man’s hands, but they are impressive enough that even Pythoras’s staunchest opponents agree that there’s something to be gained here.

(Hellas: +Culture Development, +Economy Development)

Not long after 500, Babylon sent envoys to the Anatolian realms of Avaria, Galatia, and Pontus, demanding immediate capitulation of all three into the Babylonian orbit. Unsurprisingly, the Anatolian realms outright refused. Perhaps it would have ended there, if the good Christian king of Pontus had not flown into a rage and ordered the Babylonian envoy’s head cut off and sent back to Babylon on a pike. The Babylonians were rightfully quite annoyed, and not long after their armies marched straight into Pontus, handily defeating the Pontic army and subjugating the country quickly and efficiently. While the Galatians promised the Pontics assistance and forged a formal alliance, the Galatians could do little before the Pontics were destroyed, and at that point, the Galatians decided to retreat back into their hills and hide. They did launch a few raids into Pontus while the Babylonian armies were largely in Persia, but mostly their forces were repulsed.

(Babylon: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company)

(Pontus: -6 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies, -Existence) (Galatia: -2 Infantry Companies, +Loot)

Avaria escaped the Babylonians’ wrath, perhaps because they built closer ties with the Solar center in Rome. In 505, with funds from Rome, Avaria’s first Solar Order was officially inducted and endorsed by the Avar king. Since then, generously funded by the Avar crown, the Avar order has gone around thoroughly converting Avaria’s pagans, and to a lesser extent Christians, to accept the true grace of the Sun. Simultaneously however, the Avarian king found himself courted by Hellenic merchants.

The Ghassanid Kingdom remained largely peaceful and quiet throughout this time. The prosperity that had come to it in the course of the fifth century would continue into the first decades of the sixth. There was great fanfare in Jerusalem, for a wedding between the crown prince Jabalah IV ibn al-Harith and a princess of Alodia, thus tying the two countries forever together. At the same time in Jerusalem, even as the Ghassanid King al-Harith IV ibn Hijr was a devout Christian, he had constructed upon the Temple Mount a grand “Temple of the Lord,” which was not just for Christian worship, but for the Kingdom’s many Jews, too, and of a plurality of other faiths – and on royal orders, access was allowed for all the kingdom’s people, rich or poor. While this has annoyed some of the more devout Christian aristocrats in the Kingdom, it is nonetheless a highly impressive feat by all accounts. Money was also spent on improving the road network, and a brand-new road was paved linking the cities of Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Aqaba.

(Ghassanid Kingdom: -Stability, +Culture Development)

Alodia remained in its place in Nubia, content with its own prosperity. Its major investment in these years was the construction of a great new capital city at Dongola, at the bend of the Nile, on the orders of its quite devout king. This city was dedicated in its place to God, and at its heart, next to the capital, was erected a great church for all the city’s people to converge upon. More importantly however, Dongola was to serve as a market nexus for the Alodian kingdom.

(Alodia: +Economy Development)

Similarly, Aksum enjoyed these years of peace along the Red Sea shore. The Aksumites spent a great deal of money expanding and upgrading the port infrastructure in the great trade city of Aden, not only bridging their control of both the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, but also – as is natural with these sorts of things – helping to draw in significantly more trade wealth. Aksum can thus continue to draw in an ever-growing quantity of precious metals, spices, and slaves from across the shores of the world.

(Aksum: +Economy Development)

To the south, the Azanian city-states continued their own peace, largely uncaring about the rest of the world, their own kings content to grow fat and wealthy on the trade flowing in. Christian missionaries operated in significant numbers in these regions, often funded by Christian kings wanting to do their own part for God’s plan. Similarly operated Yibri missionaries from the south, who were largely successful in converting many of the region’s Zoroastrians. The arrival of the latter has served as somewhat a nuisance to the Christians, but a few Asian texts have begun to proliferate into Azania, brought by the Yibri.

(Azanian City-States: +Culture Development)

But in the nearby sands of Arabia, a great shift was afoot. For centuries, the middle of the peninsula, between the Aksumite presence in Sheba and the great realms of the Egypt and Babylon, had been a great number of fractious tribes. Christianity had slowly crept through the peninsula in preceding centuries. Often, some of these tribes fell under foreign influences. But between about 505 and 525, one tribal confederacy centered around the city of Mecca, dominated by the Quraysh tribe, underwent a period of expansion and political evolution to the north and east. Over these two decades, King Abdullah al-Hasim of the Quraysh would unify the Hedjaz and the Najd through the sword, quickly becoming the dominant power in the peninsula, and using Christianity as an expansionist unifying force. United and stronger by the day, Arabia is watched with growing anxiety by Ghassanids, Babylonians, and Aksumites alike.

The Wars of the Albanian Collapse Edit

In 525, the Albanian Empire, one of the strongest empires known to man, was but a memory.

The sudden collapse of the Empire began with the death of the Shahenshah Vardanes in 509, who had been the sole thread holding it together. His two sons both laid claim to the throne, each backed by various satraps and court factions, and the Empire descended into civil war. Thus the fighting started. It appeared. Then followed two opportunistic satraps, one ruling from the city of Persepolis that once served as the great Imperial capital, and the other in Kandahar in the far east of the Empire, who himself had gotten rich from reaping trade, got the idea to perhaps carve out independent realms for themselves. So they attempted to do so.

This would have been an entirely ordinary round of civil war, but soon after a pair of foreign invaders entered the fray. The first was the Scythians, who poured into the Caucasus from the north in 512. The second was the Babylonians. By that year’s end, they had reached Ecbatana itself, placing the city under siege. To the south, another Babylonian army quickly captured Susa. The advanced siege weaponry the Babylonians had brought was sufficient to make the sieges quick and easy. With, the Emperor fled, and as he fled the Empire began its final collapse. Babylon looked as if it were ready to emulate Alexander the Great’s conquests and bring all of Persia into their empire.

With the Albanian Empire having been thoroughly weakened, the opportunity was ripe for another player to enter the game. The ones who the Greeks called the Hephthalites stormed into Persia from the northeast in droves after 515. The fledgling independent realm of Gandhara was rapidly crushed underfoot, the Gandharan satrap-turned-king martyred in his palace. Within mere years, much of the Persian heartland was under firm Uar control. Driving south, the Uar vanquished any remnants of the Albanian army that might have survived. The Uar established a capital of sorts at Nishapur, from where their khagan declared himself Emperor, though control of the land is loose, and it is uncertain how long the Uar can maintain their control. To the south, the satrap of Makran, a desert land, quickly bowed to become an Uar tributary – the Uar were more than happy to let this, knowing that trying to march through the desert was effective suicide.

With, the Babylonians attempted to move on Persepolis. When the Farsi satrap-turned-shah heard this news, he started panicking, but he quickly came up with a new plan – he simply shifted his allegiances, promising tribute to the Uar emperor in exchange for military help. The Farsi and Babylonians met at the ruins of Pasargadae in 518, and at first, the Babylonians were winning, driving deep into the Farsi lines. Then, the Uar cavalry swept down from the flanks, routing the Babylonians and forcing them to retreat completely from Fars back to Susa. However, all this has come at the cost of Farsi independence, as the Farsi have been reduced to a tributary of the Uar. Yet, in Persepolis, the Farsi shah stirs, as he does not long plan to maintain this, especially with the Uar control of the land uncertain as it is. Babylon has incorporated Medea and Elam into their empire, though their control over the mountainous territory remains not entirely firm.

All in all, it is estimated that perhaps a fourth of Persia’s population was killed during the civil war and the Uar invasions.

(Albanian Empire: -21 Infantry Companies, -7 Cavalry Companies, -1 Siege Trains, -Existence)

(Scythia: -2 Infantry Companies, -6 Cavalry Companies, +Army Development, +Loot) (Babylon: -5 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies, -3 Mercenary Companies, -1 Siege Train, -Stability, +Loot)

(Uar: -9 Cavalry Companies, -1 Siege Train, +Army Development) (Fars: -2 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies)

In the wake of the Uar’s move to Persia, the Uyghurs took the opportunity to expand their confederacy to the west in the late 510s and early 520s, some Uyghurs migrating with the military expansion, and by 521 the Uyghurs had reached the Oxus, which continues to mark the western frontier of Uyghur territories several years later. A few Uyghurs clashed with the Bactrians along their respective frontier in the 520s, to little consequence as the Bactrians held their border fortresses, and in fact the chaos only encouraged the Bactrians to further reinforce them. Meanwhile, in Bactria itself, the king in Bactra, seeing his realm precariously balanced between fluctuating steppe tribes, managed to negotiate a peace with the Uyghur khagan. This, combined with the fact he has passed some minor administrative reforms to empower the military, has helped secure Bactrian independence – for now.

(Bactria: -2 Infantry Companies, +Stability) (Uyghurs: -2 Cavalry Companies)

Amidst the chaos, the satrap of Susa was killed when Susa was captured by the Babylonians. With only an infant child, authority of the satrapy nominally passed via regency to his wife, the satrapess Roxana. Alas, she did not, in fact, have a satrapy to govern, and the sequence of wars made staying in Persia untenable. So, in 513, with some loyal soldiers in her husband’s name, she crossed the straits to the region of Mazun, and secured control of Sharjah, Mazun’s major market town, where she had herself crowned “Shahbanu-i-Mazun.” The issue for Roxana and her successors, in the coming years will be how to manage their own Persian Zoroastrianism over the Christianity of the country’s Arab majority.

India Edit

To the east of collapsing Persia, Oman mostly attempted to consolidate its own power in the wake. Roxana’s flight to Mazun rendered any attempts at capitalizing at Persia’s fall too costly, so the Omanis instead turned east for wealth. In 515, an Omani trade fleet arrived in the port of Patala in India, bringing with it a great deal of gold, as well as other passengers – Christian missionaries. The kshatrap of Patala was impressed by the Omanis, and after a series of audiences, allowed the Christians to stay in the city. Said Christians managed to link up with the Nasrani of Kerala, and in the years since a small but growing Nasrani community has been born in Patala. At the same time, the Omanis returned with a number of Buddhist and Hindu texts, brought back by a scholar, which were added to a growing Omani royal library in Muscat, at the behest of a quite curious king.

(Oman, Western Kshatrapas: +Culture Development)

Those same Western Kshatrapas continued to squabble amongst themselves. At one point in 508, neighboring Taxila launched an incursion into some of the northern kshatrapas, perhaps with the ultimate aim of paving a route down the Indus Valley to the sea, which had the potential of giving them access to both Silk Road and Indian Ocean trade. This paved the way for a conglomeration of forces, naturally led by Patala, to ally and counterattack. The ensuing battle surprised the Taxilan armies, routing them and forcing them to retreat, all the way back to the city of Taxila.

(Taxila: -5 Infantry Companies, -4 Cavalry Companies) (Western Kshatrapas: -2 Infantry Companies, -6 Cavalry Companies, +Stability)

Taxila would suffer its own issues, especially when the ailing Taxilan king died in 510 from wounds suffered during the abortive southern campaign, and a succession crisis began. A rival feudatory within the realm, Megasthenes, would set himself up as a breakaway king in the eastern city of Sagala, close to the Magadhan border. A number of Taxila’s vassals joined Megasthenes in revolt, and in the ensuing conflict, Taxila was unable to bring the revolt back into line, so there it stayed. Megasthenes has also managed to conquer the city of Bucephala, which has been converted in the years since into a fortified Sagalan border town. Sagala, with close cultural contact with the Sakas and with Magadha, has begun to fall away from the “Greek” part of the Indo-Greeks somewhat, at least in court culture.

(Taxila: -2 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, +Stability) (Sagala: -3 Infantry Companies)

In 522, after a procession of short-lived Sundara kings over a decade and a half that did little for the Magadhan state, a teenaged Ram Sundara II engineered a palace coup and thus came to power. He determined in his infinite wisdom that the best way of reuniting a fractured state was simple: go to war, and win. And so, in 523 the armies of Magadha swept into neighboring Bengal, then under the control of Kamarupa. And, astonishingly, it worked. With instability in Bengal higher than ever and Kamarupa barely able to retain its control of the area, the Magadhans vanquished Kamarupa and evicted them from Bengal. Magadha has since attempted to consolidate its holdings, while Ram Sundara turns his forces west, gazing upon the rich plains of the Indus, while rump Kamarupa links their wounds.

(Magadha: -5 Infantry Companies, -7 Cavalry Companies, +Army Development, +Stability) (Kamarupa: -9 Infantry Companies, -6 Cavalry Companies, -Stability)

Kalinga spent much of its resources building a network of forts along the the northern border, with now an increasingly powerful Magadha, in the hopes of stymying any future incursions into Kalingan territory. The Kalingan court did, at the same, fund a number of trade missions to nearby locales in the East Indian Ocean, some of which reached the Pyu city-states in Burma, establishing contact between some of the southern states and Kalinga.

To the south, the ongoing South Indian Golden Age of sorts continued with earnest. There was rather little war, and rather great prosperity. Some of classical India’s greatest works of literature, art, and architecture hail from the early sixth century. We start in Malwa, whose kings ensured that their state partook in this great cultural flowering. First, they funded trade missions from their ports to places such as Patala and Nelcynda, and even as far as Oman. Malwa, and its capital of Ujjain, became known as India’s center of mathematics and astronomy, as great works on the number zero, trigonometry, and even algebra were created here during this time.

(Malwa: +Stability, +Economy Development, +Culture Development)

The Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka mainly patronized the erection of some impressive temples throughout the Kannada countryside, on scales that surpassed all previous temples. Also in Karnataka was a large number of public works projects, including road construction, harbor improvements, and trade patronization. All this has helped tie the realm of Karnataka ever closer together, and the Kannadigas live in peace and harmony, and this period’s Karnataka has become renowned for its literary prowess, especially in poetry.

(Karnataka: +Stability)

Lastly, we come to Tamilakam. In that nexus of philosophy that was Thanjavur, the capital of Chera Tamilakam, a group of philosophers from across India gathered. It was there, in approximately 503, that the Carvaka school of thought first became prominent. Carvaka was an esoteric offshoot of Hinduism that was quite unique and rebellious – not only did it completely disavow the existence of gods, or karma, or reincarnation, or any of the standard Indian beliefs, it professed a belief in pure materialism. It was radical, but popular, and so by 520, the Carvaka school of thought had become all the rage in philosophical circles and amongst a number of upper caste Hindus in the region who openly espoused this philosophy, especially with Tamilakam as prosperous as ever. By 525, it had become a significant minority in some parts of Tamilakam, Karnataka, and into Malwa.

(Tamilakam: +Culture Development)

Lastly, Anuradhapura’s era of dominance over the island of Lanka ended in 516, when King Vijayabahu shifted the kingdom’s capital from Anuradhapura, in the central highlands of the isle, to Gokanna on the eastern coast. It is uncertain what exactly Vijayabahu was thinking when he made this decision, but perhaps he was influenced by Gokanna’s capacity as a port, as well as the arrival of grand trade ships from Nusantara several years earlier.

(Gokanna: -Stability)

Southeast Asia Edit

In these years, Tarumangara prospered under the benevolent and just rule of her queen, Sri Ratu Andriana. Her reign saw a number of major developments. First amongst them were a great trade infrastructure overhaul, greatly centralizing the administration of local harbors. Following this was a number of edicts discriminating against “foreign religions,” particularly Buddhism, which were seen as upending natural Nusantaran morality and society. Infidels found their property confiscated, and foreigners were prohibited from proselytizing on Taruman soil. These reforms are entirely popular amongst Taruman society, and were successful, though some Hindus in particular remain in remote parts of the country. In the 510s, the island of Sulawesi was brought under Taruman control by force, and by 525 all of it was under Taruman control, despite some battles with local chieftains.

Lastly, and perhaps most far-reaching, was the queen’s dispatching of Taruman ships in the early 510s to faraway lands. Some ships sailed west, arriving in the Chera capital of Thanjavur, a route already travelled by merchants, but these official ships brought back a number of Indian goods and texts with them. En route, a few posts were established on the otherwise insignificant islands between Nusantara and India. Others sailed north, landing first in Guangzhou, then journeying to the lands of Hirajima. Other ships sailed east – these ships disappeared, and never returned at all. Finally, some ships sailed south, to reach a previously unknown island, but the sailors reported back that this island was far too big to circumnavigate. A trading post was established on the coast in a convenient location, but the locals the Taruman have encountered have little worth trading; the trading post for now seems mostly to be to facilitate local fishing of sea cucumbers. Some daft adventurers have attempted to trek deeper into the interior, but have found little of note. Yet it is clear that some vast, mysterious land has been found.

(Tarumangara: -2 Infantry Companies, +Stability, +Culture Development, +Navy Development)

Little is known about what happened to Champa and Kamboja in these years – it is known that the two countries fought a number of inconclusive wars with each other, and Kamboja’s rulers in particular were quite happy to spread Hinduism throughout the region – known from the fact that some of Kamboja’s actions were recorded by Chinese and especially Indian visitors, and the fact that a number of temples exist in the region dating from this time – and it is also known that Kamboja expanded somewhat up the Mekong river. Champa sent a number of trade ships to Guangzhou in the hopes of impressing the Chinese emperor, but they had the misfortune of arriving at nearly the same time as the Yibri fleet (described later in some detail) so they were recorded as naught but a footnote. But it is still known that the Champans returned having obtained some Chinese texts.

(Champa: -1 Infantry Company, +Culture Development) (Kamboja: -1 Infantry Company, +Army Development, +Culture Development)

In Burma, the age of the Pyu city-states continued. However, by the end of the period, power had begun to specifically concentrate on one of the city-states – that being Beikthano, in the south. In about 511, Beikthano subjugated Sri Ksetra, which controlled the far south and the Irrawaddy delta. Beikthano proceeded to start building a hegemony of sorts, though it is still far from secure. In the north, the city-state of Halin started expanding in the 510s, and conquered neighboring Taguang in about 520. Through close trade contacts with the Buddhists of Kalinga in eastern India, Buddhism has started to spread faster in the south, culminating in Beikthano’s king adopting Buddhism in 523. However, uniquely, it is the esoteric Vajrayana school that has achieved prominence amongst Burman Buddhists. It is yet to be seen how Burma will end up in a short time.

(Pyu City-States: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company +Stability, +Army Development, +Culture Development)

East Asia Edit

China was dominated by a dance of politics and intrigue. It started in 501, when the King of Liao, seeing the writing on the wall with the growing strength of the dynasty of the Great Sung, accepted an offer of protection – he would retain sovereignty as a Governor-General of Liao. However, under the command of the Imperial Chancellor Yang Guo, an imperial army was quickly dispatched to the border between the two realms. As if this was not a worrying enough situation for Liao, in the next several years peasant revolts began springing up, especially in the north and east of the kingdom. With the Liao army distracted, their worst fears were confirmed in 504 when Yang Guo’s army crossed the border with clear hostile intent. The brilliant techniques used by Yang Guo in this campaign were recorded down to history. Amongst them was the hiring of an almost equal sized army of prostitutes to travel with that of the Sung, preventing much of the sexual destruction that is almost natural with war, along with harsh punishment for any war crimes. The humaneness of the Sung, coupled with forced land redistributions and punishments for accused corrupt Liao officials, meant that the Liao peasants greeted the army as liberators, and openly undermined the defense. The weak and distracted Liao army stood little chance, and despite some sporadic Liao victories in skirmishes aided by the terrain, by and large by 506 the campaign was concluded, the Liao court in custody, and the area incorporated seamlessly into the Empire.

Less further afield, after the defeat of Liao the Great Sung also spent a great deal of money on an empire-wide irrigation improvement project, which. And the Yangdi Emperor ordered a council of imperial scholars, led by Ling Wei, to categorize and codify the laws of all the realm under one. This would become known as the Yangdi Code. Thus, it is an era of peace and prosperity in China, as with the lands more and more redistributed to the peasants, they can enjoy a greater standard of living than any others in history.

(Great Sung: -8 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -1 Siege Train, +Stability) (Liao: -5 Infantry Companies, 9 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

Another landmark event occurred in 508, when the harbor of Guangzhou was suddenly filled by a truly immense fleet of quite strange ships, crewed by dark-skinned men. This treasure fleet claimed to come from a faraway land called “Yibram,” which was in a perpetual struggle against another land, “Madagascar,” supposedly an island that the Yibri were beginning to conquer. The Chinese and Yibri exchanged words and goods – the Yibri said that they had set sail some years earlier from a city called Nacala, where, on the command of their benevolent ruler Mursal, construction had begun on a fabulous harbor, reputed to be the finest in the world when it would ultimately be completed. Ultimately, a few of the Yibri stayed and established a presence in Guangzhou’s foreign quarter. The rest returned with a great amount of gold, some Chinese texts, and a great deal of sailing experience, just in time for Mursal’s death in 523, replaced at that year’s Rabbi Council by one Shido Jeyte. Yibram enjoyed prosperity and peace.

(Yibram: +Navy Development, +Culture Development, +One-time Trade Bonus)

In the Tarim Basin, the instability caused by the fall of Liao enabled the rise of the city-state of Khotan. With neighboring Qarqan, to the east, destabilized by this after 505, Khotan was able to mobilize, and capitalize on a dynastic dispute between two Qarqan princes in 508 to capture the city. The city was placed under the rule of one of said princes, who was installed a Khotan subking. By the end of the next decade, Khotan had turned its armies west, to capture the city of Yarkand in 519 and install a similar subking. Khotan has become the strongest rising power in the region, as its neighbors panic and form alliances amongst themselves to stymie Khotan’s expansion.

(Tarim Basin City-States: -1 Infantry Company, -3 Cavalry Companies, +Stability)

Neighboring Rouran turned their eye to the east, to the petty khagans of the Syanbi and Ashina, and demanded their absorption into Gur’s great Khanate. The Syanbi khagan, unwilling to resist the light of the Gur Khan and promised to retain a degree of authority under the Rouran, quickly folded in 505, with the Syanbi and their lands incorporated into the growing Rouran Khanate. Nevertheless, a good number of Syanbi chieftains formerly aligned to the khagan were unhappy with the situation, and resisted the incorporation, often violently. The neighboring Ashina Turks entirely rejected the Rouran, and knowing that certain war was coming and assisted by companies of Jurchen mercenaries, mustered all their forces possible to resist the Rouran when they came in 508. The battle that ensued was fierce and bloody, but in the end of the day the sheer force of the Rouran was more than enough to break any sense of unity the Ashina had, especially after the Ashina khagan was killed on the battlefield.

(Rouran: -Stability, -9 Cavalry Companies) (Ashina: -15 Cavalry Companies, -4 Mercenary Companies, -Existence)

In 502, the ships of Hirajima set sail for the Amami isles to the south, the aim being unmistakable: conquest. The With overwhelming Hirajima force, the islands’ warring defenders, divided amongst tribes and petty princelings of their own, stood no chance of fighting back the invaders, as, one after the other, they fell. It is often claimed by its accounts that the conquest of these islands was entirely bloodless. Though this may not, strictly speaking, be true, what is clear that once these islands had been subjugated, the Hirajima military progressed south, to the three mountains of the Uchimaa islands, which were just as easily conquered. By 503, so had the Sakishimas, or Far Isles. The conquest, and the subsequent integration of the islands into the Hirajama administration of circuits and prefectures by the 510s, has opened up traffic on the new southern trade route from Hirajima through the Uchimaas to China.

Simultaneously, the Rouran hordes flooded into Korea from the north. The swiftness of the Rouran cavalry took the Jin by astonished surprise, driving their armies back into the peninsula, and brutally rampaging across the landscape, sacking and raping every village and town in their path. In late 517 the Rouran fell upon the Jin capital at Pyongyang, and placed it under siege. But the Jin were astonishingly resilient, managing to retreat and regroup, and several months later a counterattack from the south was able to relieve the siege, and drive the Rouran from the peninsula, though at great cost. While the lands north of Korea are lost, the Jin survive in weakened form, but the security thread, and no further Rouran campaigns were attempted allowing the state time to centralize. Meanwhile, the Khanate has begun to struggle to maintain control over the entirety of their territory, and Gur Khan himself has become an aging man who is barely able to control his own court, let alone a realm that spans from the edge of the Tarim Basin to the Sea of Japan, and the radiance of his authority seems to be the only thread holding the realm together. Even a number of public works projects begun in the late 510s and early 520s, such as irrigation and roadworks, have had limited effects in reversing this.

(Rouran: -Stability, -2 Infantry Companies, -8 Cavalry Companies, -1 Siege Train, +Loot) (Jin: -7 Infantry Companies, -9 Cavalry Companies, +Stability, +Army Development)

In the wake of this, Hirajima turned its eye to southern Korea, where three kings reigned in Baekje, Daemahan, and Silla, in an uneasy peace trapped between the sea and the beleaguered behemoth of the Jin to the north. But in the 510s, that ended rather suddenly. In a bold move, Muryeong of Baekje, the northernmost and most powerful of these kingdoms, successfully negotiated an alliance with the foreigners of the Hirajima Kingdom, not against the Jin, but against the other two kingdoms. And so, in 519, Baekje went to war. Their newly improved army split in two and assaulted both Daemahan and Silla at once. Meanwhile, the so-dubbed Solar Contingent of the Hirajima army sailed from the south. The Mahan and Sillan fleets were easily destroyed by the greater might of the Hirajima, and the two parts of the Solar Contingent fell upon each kingdom’s capital from the south. It was thus a matter of mere months before the conflict was wrapped up. A triumphant Baekje swiftly annexed the other two kingdoms by 520, though the island of Saishū was kept by Hirajima. Nevertheless, rebellious nobles complaining about “foreign cultural influences” remain a nuisance.

(Hirajima: -3 Infantry Companies, -2 Squadrons, +Army Development) (Baekje: -3 Infantry Companies, 1 Cavalry Company, +Army Development)

(Daemahan: -4 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -1 Squadron, -Existence) (Silla: -5 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -4 Squadrons, -Existence)

Closer to home, King Heinei began the construction of the Seven Ports on the southern tip of the Home Islands: Ōmura, Tōishi, Sai’ishi, Togitsu, Matsukai, Haenosaki, and Sasebo. This was meant to create a network, all under a single administration. As most of the ports are mere fishing villages, the extensive labor on constructing the ports began in 512. However, Hirajima’s military expeditions meant that only limited resources could be used. Still, with the campaigns in Korea concluded, perhaps that will change soon. In any case, Heinei’s reign will be remembered in the future as a time of expansion and prosperity.

Story Bonuses Edit

Following the death of Queen Alania Henaff in 498, Brittany entered a temporary period of political uncertainty as the Great Houses entered a phase of indecision, potentially threatening conflict between several major houses and their own feudatories. However, ultimately the rising power that was House Ollivier managed to broker a compromise, placing Roscille Ollivier as queen of Brittany. A Breton poet wrote a long ballad on this sequence of events, which has been hailed as one of the great epic poems of its time.

The Friso-Batavian linguistic scheme has proven itself a large success, and has been even adopted by some neighboring countries, whose bewildered but intrigued rulers court Friso-Batavian scholars for advice.

The complex, federated nature of the Ishfanian government, combing hereditary positions, a legislative body, and a complex administrative and judicial system, has succeeded in tying the ethnically diverse state together. It has horrified kings in neighboring countries who fear that they too may someday come under trial, but in Ishfania is has brought lengthy political stability with virtually none of the coups and bloody dynastic politicking found elsewhere.

The songs from the Nording court in Meduseld spread far and wide in the early sixth century. Some say it is because of these songs that the Nording armies proved themselves so effective and victorious in Iberia, with their smashing victory over the retreating Carthaginians.

Latiniki had established itself as a center of western philosophy, with Neoplatonic, Pythagorean, and Stoic schools competing for cultural dominance in sixth-century Rome. So it was that the city of Rome by 525 had become firmly recognized as the western center of the descendants of Greek philosophy, rivalled only by Athens with its new Academy.

Dacian administration has been a great help in stabilizing the Dacian state, and, combined with the state’s rather effective electoral system for the crown. Its biggest contributor has so far been a smoothened tax system, which is quite advanced in comparison to its neighbors.

The utilization of the state cults in the Confederacy of Hellas means that the Confederacy has been able to reject both Christianization and Solarization quite effectively, and Hellenic paganism has grown once again in numbers in the Hellenic poleis.

The faith of Riders Eight has spread far and wide through Scythia, even in its newly conquered Caucasian territories. In fact, in the present day, it is quite possible to tell slaves from their masters, at least superficially to travelers, by the fact that the masters universally worship the eight.

The new building atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, in the Ghassanid Kingdom, is considered by nearly all to be one of the great buildings of the world. But it has also helped draw in a good deal of wealth to Jerusalem, as pilgrims from far and wide flock to the city in growing numbers.

Mori was entirely codified in the Rouran Khanate in the first quarter of the sixth century, as books of the Mori, such as its holiest, Amiinom, the Book of Life, have begun to proliferate far and wide, throughout the Khanate and even into places such as Korea, where they have produced a number of converts, especially amongst Koreanized Jurchen populations.

The adoption of the Yangdi Code in the Sung state has been a great success in unifying and tying together the scattered local laws of the state, meaning that, even in the areas once belonging to the Liao kingdom, the empire’s coherency and stability are higher than they have ever been.

With Yibri expansion westwards up the Zambezi River, many of the locals found themselves being assimilated into Yibri culture, including the Yibri variant of Judaism, in ever-increasing numbers.

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