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Europe Edit

In the north of Britain, having obtained newly constructed siege weaponry, based on supposedly Roman designs, the Dal Riatan armies crossed into Pictland in the late 530s, and wiping out their adversaries in a series of bloody battles, ultimately laid waste to the forts in the lowlands along the east coast – the Christian Picts were struck, too unaware to make a proper response. With the collapse of their coastal strongholds, any central authority amongst the Christian Pictish clans has all but collapsed, though the Dal Riatans have so far been unable to bring the deeper highlands under control. Alas, controlling a population of displeased Christians may take its toll on Dal Riata. At the same time, a group of druids gathered, and created a written script for the common language of Dal Riata, based on the Latin alphabet. The first things written down were a number of druidic ritual instructions.

(Dal Riata: -2 Infantry Companies, +Army Development, +Culture Development, -Stability) (Pictland: -3 Infantry Companies, -Existence)

Ireland continued to be home to some petty fighting in the 530s and 540s, with few shifts in political boundaries and few major conflicts, and little hope of further centralization. The sole exception was the kingdom of Connacht, which, thanks to the favor of Ishfanian envoys, managed to subjugate a number of neighboring clans. A number of Christian monasteries were established in these years throughout the island, and with growing trade connections between remote Ireland and the former classical world through Brittany, a growing number of texts are being imported to fill these monasteries’ libraries.

(Irish states: +Stability, +Culture Development)

Britain proper was a multi-faceted mess, at best. In the south, the remnant Germano-British kingdoms found themselves under attack from two sides, both by Brythonics from the west and the Frisobatavians from the east. Soon enough, the last kingdoms in the region had little chance. While they attempted to draw the Yr Hen Ogledd into the conflict, the latter refused, and the last petty kingdoms were parceled up between the two countries by 530. Brython itself completed its efforts to rebuild the old Roman roads, which resulted in spurring marketplace towns to develop in new areas.

(Brython: -2 Infantry Companies) (Frisobatavia: -1 Infantry Companies)

(Germano-Britons: -2 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

Alas, there was a new threat: Vandals. In 533, a massive collection of Vandal warbands, by most accounts some tens of thousands strong, landed near the city of Eoforwic, in Yr Hen Ogledd. Within the year, they had captured both that city, and by early 536, most of northern Britain lay under the Vandals’ firm control, and Yr Hen Ogledd had collapsed altogether – the last Coelings were hunted down and either killed or fled to Ireland, where by 550 some had arisen to become petty kings of at least one eastern Irish state. Many of the other subkings were brutally killed in ingenious ways regardless of ethnicity or religion – the blood eagle being the most infamous. In its wake, a new authority arose – the Vandalaw. The old Vandals colonized their new lands, and new, Vandal names have replaced the old ones; and the Allfather has come to Britain in droves. And there has been no shortage of Vandal raiding in neighboring countries.

(Yr Hen Ogledd: -4 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

(Vandalaw: -2 infantry Companies, +Loot)

Frisobatavia, in itself, saw the brunt of the raiding; Vandal raiders began attacking coastal villages with increasing frequency after 540. To counter similar attacks from the east, the country began the construction of fortified walls to the east, called the Grodwall. And, the Frisobatavians erected a great Mor Tad’s Temple in the south of the country, acting as a beacon – both of guiding light, and of resistance to the Allfather’s spread in northwestern Europe.

(Frisobatavia: +Culture Development, -Stability)

The slave trade of the past generation had made many Bretons very wealthy, and the now quite prosperous state set about affirming that the trade would continue. The city of Nantes became a merchant hub for all Western Europe, bolstered by the construction of a great harbor in the city’s port. And, to boot, any fees were significantly lowered and other special rights were given to foreign merchants, with royal authority. Firm military action by the Bretons to protect their trade from corsairs in the neighboring seas has also proven very attractive. Another side effect of this has been Drowned Queen adherents travelling on trade ships and spreading their words far and wide, and have attracted followers in lands as distant as Eldrachaa. In the late 520s, the Breton crown formalized a trade “alliance” of sorts with Ishfania, Alemannia, Nornidr, and the Samojards, though political developments since then rendered it quite insignificant.

In building closer relations with the leadership of Ishfania, the Aquitanian king abolished slavery in 530, labelling the practice “most un-Christian.” Most of the freed slaves returned to their ancestral homes in Iberia; others who had converted to Christianity stayed as freeholding farmers. Solar missionaries came to Aquitania too, where they were successful at converting a number of people in the countryside – but, in the end, the Aquitanian king Syragius III grew fed up with this and had the missionaries rounded up and expelled from the country in a 544 edict. The same edict banned all further non-Christian proselytization.

Far to the east, Yotvingia faced another difficult choice – the Scythians were demanding that in 526 the Yotvingian king bend the knee and accept becoming a satrap to Scythia. While not a great option, Yotvingia ultimately consented. The Yotvingian military was not pleased by this development, and attempted to resist independent of the king’s wishes. Unfortunately, this only resulted in Scythian hordes showing up and entering the country, all but wiping out the Yotvingian army after a series of pitched battles. The Yotvingian people however did not provide a great deal of resistance, and the Scythian military did little but collect taxes, especially after the king-turned-satrap made it clear he had no desire to see any further bloodshed. Being a satrap was looking more and more attractive.

(Yotvingia: -8 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

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

Fatar always demands tributes of his Samojardic peoples, so after 525, the Samojards plunged into Gothia. Unfortunately, it was at this same time, around 530, that the Scythians, in alliance with the Eldrachaa, both decided to invade Samojardia and rid themselves of the pesky “tantrum god” Fatar and his followers once and for all. The Samojards’ navy put up a significant fight, and managed to cause a good deal of harm to both the Scythian and Eldrachaa fleets, but in the end they were simply outnumbered and defeated. From there, the Scythians entered from land, overwhelming Samojardic defenses through sheer numbers, and utterly ravaged the land, raping the countryside, and causing the cities to empty, as did the Eldrachaa from the west, to a lesser degree. Many of the locals would find themselves in forced labor or slavery back east by 535, and the next decade saw Scythian colonization. The Eldrachaa grabbed their own share of lands in the west.

The Samojards’ commencing of raids to the south simultaneously was in fact a stroke of luck, from a certain point of view – without them, it is an almost certainty that their kingdom would not survive. This was because the Goths themselves had already sent much of their forces to aid their Nording brothers, and so the Samojards in fact found an easy opening to their south. The majority of Samojards, fleeing the Scythian hordes, have migrated southwards, carving for themselves former Gothic territories and assimilating some of the locals, where their kingdom lives on. And the Samojards, despite the incredible disruption, are steeled – ready to take their lands back, someday. In 549, Wulferic III, the king who had overseen these tragic events, was succeeded by his son as Reggesvar V – using money and politicking to make already pliable nobles support the line.

(Samojards: -Stability, -7 Infantry Companies, -15 Squadrons)

(Scythia: -1 Infantry Company, -4 Cavalry Companies, -2 Squadrons) (Eldrachaa: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Squadron) (Gothic Kingdom: -2 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies)

The reduced Goths faced other concerns, with riled-up nobles not helping matters. The last king of a united Gothic state, Amalric III, died in 548. Knowing that his three sons would soon squabble over the realm, Amalric willed that the realm be partitioned between these three. The eldest son would get Donau, in the south, the largest and wealthiest province; the middle son the lands that would come to be called Rheinmark, in the west; and the youngest, and supposedly Amalric’s least-liked son, the land of Boimark, in the east. This partition was completed, with remarkably little fighting. However, Amalric, the prince ruling Donau, quickly claimed to have authority over all the Goths, and perhaps war will come. Few Gothic nobles were particularly satisfied with the split, and none of the new kings have much in the way of authoritativeness.

(Gothic Kingdom: -Existence)

Dacia continued its attempts to tie its realm closer together, to a degree of success. In these years, the Dacians spent a good deal of money on building a comprehensive series of highways, connecting the realm’s major cities together, as well as those in the Dacian march – and with closer contact with the march, Dacian control of that region has been further solidified. Dacia also built a further amount of fortifications in the country, and similarly the march authorities built even more. However, especially with increased presence of Christians in neighboring Bulgaria, the number of Christians in Dacia, especially amongst the Dacian peasantry, is growing at ever-increasing rates, and more and more Dacians are baptized, this has had a somewhat destabilizing effect on the Dacian polity. And in the Dacian march, Solar Legions from Svearia and Apland have been hard at work creating a sizable body of converts, especially amongst the local Slavic populations.

(Dacia: -Stability) (Dacian March: +Stability)

The Bulgar Khanate’s decline continued, as another phase of internecine civil war – including fighting between Christian and Solar families and chieftains – wreaked havoc on the country in the 530s. Northern Macedonia, an already Solar-majority region to begin with, was conquered by the Solar Svears in 540 in a short and virtually resistance-less campaign – the Svears marched through the region, only stopping from invading Greece again and capturing Pella by some event – according to some accounts, it was a Hellenic border guard who shone a lantern into the Svear king’s eye at the border, thus blinding the king, and convincing him that Sol had commanded him to retreat. The chaotic situation in the Bulgar Khanate culminated in 541 when a Christian chief, who had been baptized under the name Christopher, seized power over the entire country, and officially converted the Bulgars to Christianity, and ending the disputes over a now-devastated land – at least for now.

(Bulgar Khanate: -Stability, -8 Cavalry Companies)

(Svearia: -1 Infantry Company)

Lastly, in Hellas, Pythoras’s hegemony would end with the man’s death in 529. He was replaced by one Zeno, a philosopher-general, and, more importantly, a graduate of the Academies who would continue the state funding and patronage of the institutions, which, while not the most popular, has continued regardless. With this succession power of the Academies, both intellectually and politically, would continue to grow in Hellenic politics, for better or for worse.

The Carthaginian Wars, Continued Edit

An uneasy peace had settled over the Mediterranean after the last bout of open warfare between Carthage and their arrayed enemies in 515. But it was clear to everyone that the wars were not yet over, and the next decade and a half would see a flurry of politicking and diplomatic activities, in knowledge that a new war in the Mediterranean was inevitable, once a new generation of leaders came to power. The Nordings hurried to defend their territories, building a great wall of forts in Ispanland, the so-called Ispingard.

The Nordings also had another weapon – amphorae filled with a strange concoction of powder, initially invented when an Allfather priest accidentally created an explosive powder during a ritual. This was the Eldgadr, and when properly thrown, it would create a great blast and quite the scare, if little else. Ultimately, the Eldgadr would also prove its own undoing. Allfather priests were sent to Rome to give the Nordings’ erstwhile Latin allies the weapon – it ended when one loose-lipped priest was paid off and gave the secrets of its manufacture away, and the others were immediately arrested and sacrificed to Sol for proselytization, with Latiniki proceeding to disseminate the Eldgadr. The Latins proceeded to spread the weapon throughout neighboring countries, who adopted the Eldgadr with some zeal, and through trade it continued to spread. Most considered it for their armies; but a few took it on board their ships.

(Nornidr, Latiniki, Latin Tributaries, Carthage, Ishfania, Apland, Svearia, Avaria, Gothic Kingdom, Cyrenaica, Hellas: +Army Development) (Nornidr, Latiniki, Latin Tributaries: +Navy Development)

The western branch of this conflict was fought in Iberia, where war would break out in 535. The Carthaginians had allied with the Ishfanians, who attempted to break through the Ispangard. And it would have held for some time. Alas, in the end, all the Nordings’ efforts to defend their lands, forts and explosive powder or not, in Ispanland would prove futile, as they simply were just too outnumbered, and with the Carthaginians crossing the strait of Hercules. It certainly didn’t help matters that, at the behest of the Ishfanians and Carthaginians who promised to free the region’s slave population, the Nordings were forced to deal with a slave uprising concurrent with the invasion. The campaigns in Iberia took mere months, and by 537 all of Nording Ispanland had been retaken. A contemporary Ishfanian poet would write a heroic epic poem about this slave uprising; it would serve as the hallmark of Ishfanian literature for decades to come.

(Ishfania: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, +Culture Development) (Carthage: -3 Infantry Companies)

(Nornidr: -2 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies)

The Nordings had one more weapon – the Thurings. These people, having been displaced by the Gothic conquest of their kingdom in recent years, were employed by the Nordings, and a number of these Thurings, under a chief named Radulf, were given transport across the sea to Carthage, in the hopes that they would conquer a land and settle there. Alas, despite evading the Carthaginian navy which was preoccupied in the west, the Carthaginians were strong, and repulsed the Thurings near Leptis Magna. Instead of dispersing, Radulf decided to try his luck again in neighboring Cyrenaica. Fortunately, they evaded the Cyrenaican fleet and defeated them on land in a surprise assault on their camp at night, and the Thurings were able to defeat the Cyrenaicans and take over in 538. And thus was born the kingdom of Kyrenmark. Radulf and his successors would attempt to consolidate their holdings, and it was difficult – they controlled the countryside, but the cities would remain filled with Greeks and Latins, who were not the least bit pleased with their loss of political privileges. However, by 550 a good deal of the Thurings had been Hellenized.

(Carthage: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Mercenary Company)

(Cyrenaica: -3 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies, -1 Siege Train, -Existence) (Kyrenmark: -2 Infantry Companies)

Closer to the Nordings’ home, the situation looked equally grim. Employing their superiority in naval doctrine, and including the use of flames and specific formations to deal maximum damage, the Carthaginians sailed forth through the Mediterranean and handily decimated the far numerically inferior, taking few casualties themselves. The Carthaginians’ Ishfanian allies emulated their tactics, and did much the same. This paved the way for an invasion of Corsica, in 538, which was accomplished quite bloodlessly, the thinned Nordings not bothering to especially defend the island.

(Carthage, Ishfania: +Navy Development) (Ishfania: -1 Squadron)

(Nornidr: -3 Squadrons)

Their betrayal of the Nordings consummated, the Latins and their tributaries amassed a new force, and launched a thrust into the north. The Brandgard held, just like the Ispangard across the sea, but only for a time as it was clear the Nordings were outnumbered – the use of the Eldgadr on the Latins was only met by its similar use right back. Yet, for a time it seemed that the Nordings might be able to successfully defend their homeland. They were accompanied by a detachment of Goths, in the spirit of an alliance forged after a marriage between the Nording and Gothic ruling houses had been consummated before 530.

But in 539, one event occurred that would change the course of the conflict. In that year, Cynric, the Anglic king of Apland, struck a bold move. At the behest of Latin and Svear emissaries and money, Cynric symbolically fell to his knees in an open field before the rising Sun on a cloudless morning, thus converting both himself his realm to Sol Aniketus, and taking for himself the title Cynric Niketor. Cynric immediately claimed Solar retribution – on Nornidr, and led an army into Nornidr’s heartland, conquering Venehar all but unscathed, and establishing Aplandic rule over it.

This invasion would spell Nornidr’s death knell, as the kingdom fell under attack from both south and north. The Latins breached the Brandgard, and by year’s end had captured Meduseld, putting the serene Great Temple of that city to the flames of Sol. Western Italia was all this time plagued by Ishfanian raiders, who in fact went as far as to sack Genovtorp and the neighboring countryside in 539 and carry most of its wealth back to Iberia with them. King Brand would make one last stand at the Nordings’ mountain fortress of Helmsdeep in 540, praying that, perhaps, the Allfather would come to his aid. Alas, it was not to be; the greatest stroke of the Eldgadr was its use at the hands of the Angles to breach the iron grate that served as Helmsdeep’s gutter, thus tearing the outer wall apart and allowing. Brand disappeared in the ensuing chaos, and would be immortalized in legend for years to come.

(Latiniki: -4 Infantry Companies, -1 Siege Train) (Latin Tributaries: -2 Infantry Companies, +Loot) (Apland: -3 Cavalry Companies, -Stability) (Ishfania: -1 Infantry Company, +Loot)

(Nornidr: -4 Infantry Companies, -4 Cavalry Companies, -Existence) (Gothic Kingdom: -2 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies)

The division of the Nording realms afterwards was accomplished relatively peacefully. Despite vague rumors of joint authority in Iberia, the area was divided between Ishfania in the north and east and Carthage in the south and west. The Ishfanians were largely successful in coopting the Nording administration and courier system, and integrating the lands successfully into their country – only this time with Punic masters, more often than not freedmen, rather than Nordings. King Cynric of Apland had the city of Venehar fortified to become a powerful center of his authority throughout his newly gained realms in northeast Italia.

A concurrent and ensuing influx of influential Allfatherists, including a number former Nording jarls and nobles, into his realm and court prompted the king of the Alemanni, Gundoald, to have himself baptized and converted to the Faith of the Allfather in 546. This prompted a rebellion amongst the Christian population and a number of appalled Christian nobles in the west and north of the country – a rebellion that was swiftly and brutally crushed. Taking cues from their Nording brothers in Iberia a generation earlier, Gundoald and his army had many of the subjugated Christians forced into slavery, either under domination from Alemanni masters, or sold into markets as far afield as Scythia. Solar missionaries have been active in the country, but the crown has not turned an eye to them – yet.

(Alemannia: -Stability, -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company)

Almost as if a monument to Latin victory, the Grand Temple of Sol was completed in Rome. This, one of the grandest buildings ever constructed and certainly a rival to the ancient wonders themselves, is notorious for its strange and innovative construction. There are many domains within – one for holding exotic beasts from the east, one for philosophical studies and debates, and one for the study of the natural sciences, featuring a working aeolipile. And, of course, the centerpiece is just as grand – a great oculus built into the ceiling that focuses light upon one altar.

(Latiniki: +Economy Development)

Nevertheless, the entire sequence of events, and the effects of the conflict that dominated the region for multiple decades, plus the attempts at trying to expand their administration over new, often less than willing lands, took its toll on some of the countries involved. Especially in Latiniki’s case, the Solar Faithful of Rome finds itself ruling over a large, and quite uncooperative, Allfatherist populace.

(Carthage, Latiniki, Latin Tributaries: -Stability)

There was one, final moment in this campaign. In a surprise maneuver, a combined naval force of Latins and Latin tributaries turned upon the Carthaginian fleet off Melita in 548. While, combined, they were not strong enough to do much damage to the far more advanced Carthaginian fleet as a whole, the Latins were able to destroy a number of astonished Carthaginian ships before retreating, thanks to their use of the Nording powder, despite taking a good deal of casualties themselves in the process.

(Latiniki: -2 Squadrons) (Latin Tributaries: -2 Squadrons)

(Carthage: -6 Squadrons)

It was also the doctrine of Solar Retribution that came into being during this war, explained by the head of the religion of Sol Aniketus. This claimed that it was the duty of all Solar faithful to defend their lands from un-Solar barbarians, as Sol smiled upon those who did. This was the only conflict it was used in.

The Sand Wars Edit

The Quraysh set out to consolidate their rule over their state, and advance it. A Majlis al-Shura, a consultative council of Arabia’s chiefs and an advisory primitive legislature of sorts, though lacking actual power, was established. Religious magistrates were established as well, forming a judicial system. Marriages between chieftain’s families would tie the chiefdoms together, tariffs were put in place, and a jizya system of taxes on non-believers spurred conversion to Christianity. And, by not long after 530, expeditions to the east would bring the northeast of the Arabian peninsula where the Lakhmids dwelled, as well as the Rub al-Khali and surrounding regions, under nominal Quraysh control – culminating in the taking of the port of Salalah on the Indian Ocean shore in 527.

(Arabia: +Stability)

It was a prelude of the conflagration that was to come.

The Babylonians noticed the threat a potentially expanding Arabia would bring, fearing that the ancient city itself would burn in Arab flames, and made their own set of moves to counter it. Unfortunately, the Quraysh had already allied themselves with the more powerful Ghassanid Kingdom to the north. In turn, Babylon managed to secure an alliance with the Aksumites. Through the 520s, tensions rose between the region’s powers. The Babylonians drained much of the royal treasury on creating perhaps the largest mercenary army the world had ever seen.

It culminated in 530, when the armies of the Ghassanid Kingdom attempted to launch an invasion of Babylon, in a preemptive strike. They made it as far as the west bank of the Euphrates before the massive Babylonian army struck back, and resoundingly defeated that of the Ghassanids. It was not long before the Babylonians counterattacked, just a few years later. The cities of the Levant fell, one by one, to Babylonian sieges, culminating in the fall of Jerusalem itself in 540 – the Babylonian mercenaries were brutal and carried many of the city’s treasures off with them to fates unknown. And so the Ghassanids fled into Egypt, yet still managing to tie down many of the Babylonians in battle.

In Mazun, the Arabs were able to take much of the worthless tracts of desert. But, thanks to Babylonian support, Sharjah itself held out, and the Roxanid forces repulsed the invaders – and so Mazun was saved, and prepared to attack again. Or, so they thought. Once the Babylonians had left, a Christian revolt began amongst the city of Sharjah’s people, and soon spread out of control, and the Roxanid kings and the Persian nobles were soon killed off. The city passed over to the control of a local Arab chieftain and a vizier from Arabia’s ruling Hashemite dynasty. Part of the Mazun navy simply shifted allegiances to Babylon; the rest had been destroyed.

The Babylonians attempted to attack. An attempt to strike back against the Arabians failed – the Babylonian army, as they tried to cross into Arabia, would face incredible attrition rates, as their water supplies soon dried up. Many Babylonian soldiers would simply go missing or disappear in the desert. The Arabs themselves mostly allowed attrition to work for them, using their nomadic background to make quick strikes against advancing enemies. Both here, and elsewhere they fought, this enabled the Arabs to take few casualties. While the Babylonians did gain some territory, it was not very much.

The Aksumites simultaneously attempted to drive down the Nile River. There was one problem – a little country by the name of Alodia stood in the way. Though the Alodians fought long and hard, and enough to make the campaign time-consuming, it was only a matter of that same time before Alodia fell completely. Across the Red Sea, the Aksumites from their holdings in Sheba marched northwards into after 540; they gained some land in the south, but the Arab style of fighting meant that the Aksumites again took large amounts of attrition, and the major cities of Yathrib and Mecca remained well within Arabian grasp. The Arabian navy had long been wiped out; and as such trade to Arabia declined sharply, but none of the invading powers were able to land successfully land forces in such a hostile environment.

The Ghassanids are now reduced to merely Egypt, the Ghassanid king having reestablished his court in Alexandria. But, nonetheless, they have survived, and perhaps they will regain their lands.

(Babylon: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -20 Mercenary Companies, +5 Squadrons) (Aksum: -5 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -10 Mercenary Companies, +Navy Development) (Mazun: -6 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -1 Siege Train, -10 Squadrons, -Existence)

(Arabia: -2 Infantry Companies, -4 Cavalry Companies, -2 Squadrons, +Army Development) (Ghassanids: -8 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies, -4 Siege Trains, -10 Squadrons) (Alodia: -8 Infantry Companies, -11 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

The entire region’s stability has been badly undermined by the seemingly never-ending sequence of warfare. Babylon itself, after decades upon decades of campaigning and warfare, is beginning to show significant cracks in the edifice. The state and her economy are badly weakened, and are coming ever closer to the brink of collapse. This was proven in 547, when after growing pirate raids, Cilician Pirates attacked and managed to sack the city of Antioch. In fact, in the 540s, the previously subjugated region of Pontus revolted and successfully threw off the Babylonian yoke, aided by Galatian soldiers who came to the aid of the Christian revolts, and by Hellenic merchants who saw an opportunity for profit.

(Aksum, Babylon: -Stability) (Babylon: -1 Infantry Company)

(Galatia: -2 Infantry Companies)

Despite the growing mess right at their frontiers, Avaria continued to only look further inwards. Despite calls from advisors that Avaria should strike Babylon while the opportunity was there, the Avarians chose not to – instead, they built a series of fortresses along their borders, both with Galatia and Babylon – for they not trust very many of their neighbors. Another neighboring country, Oman, continued to merely look eastwards instead of caring about affairs on its own peninsula – it continued to sail the Indian Ocean in search of trade, and Omani ships would appear as far east as China by 550. It certainly helped that with the turmoil in its surrounding lands, Oman remained a peaceful trade hub.

(Oman: +Navy Development)

Persia Edit

Despite collapsing into chaos rather spectacularly a generation earlier, Persia recovered remarkably quickly - or, at least, some parts of it. In 528, a local, Buddhist, chief from the area of Kabul rose to power and established a power base sufficient enough to establish his independence from Nishapur. Kabul prospered, as its kings spent a lot of their efforts patronizing the rebuilding of the region – and the area quickly became the safe, stable cultural nexus of the Persianate ethos, and a beacon of religious tolerance and plurality.

(Kabul: +Culture Development)

Seeing that they needed to reform to prevent further collapse, the Uar in fact did so. Taking cues from their Albanian predecessors, the Uar khans-turned-shahenshahs turned from wanton destruction to rebuilding, spending much of their gained wealth on rebuilding cities, towns, roads, and other infrastructure. Their conversion to Zoroastrianism in 534 was critical in solidifying their authority over much of the countryside, and breaking away from the past. It was an age of Persian rebuilding. Any Farsi attempts to strike back were stymied when the Uar returned and ended Farsi autonomy following an abortive attempt at independence in the mid-540s, helped by revolting mercenaries. In the wake of this invasion, the Uar moved their capital back to Persepolis. Makran remained largely peaceful, and still autonomous, as few Uar wanted to return.

(Uar Empire: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Companies, +Stability, +Economy Development, +Culture Development)

(Fars: -6 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

==
Central Asia

==

With the destruction of the Uyghurs at Rouran hands, some of the Uyghurs scattered. One tribe under the Uyghurs, the Kushans, ended up migrating north and west into Scythian lands, where they managed to again carve out a chunk of land for themselves. With the bulk of the Scythian army off in the west fighting campaigns against the Samojards and dissident Yotvingians, what Scythians there were in the region were displaced by the Kushan hordes in the late 540s, and the Scythians were unable to keep them out. The disruptions to Scythia caused by the Kushan’s marauding have rippled throughout the rest of the country.

(Scythia: -1 Cavalry Company, -Stability)

(Kushans: -2 Infantry Company)

Nevertheless, the rest of Scythia enjoyed a quite bountiful amount of prosperity. Trade routes up the Volga and Dneister Rivers were marked out and embellished with caravanserai and houses, now allowing free-flowing trade from the north to the Mediterranean sphere. The Scythian crown paid for the establishment of naval schools and shipyards, bringing sailors, shipbuilders, and tactical scholars from both the Baltic and Mediterranean traditions into the country to syncretize all these together, for Scythia’s benefit, as a matter of course. And, lastly, a grand new summer capital was established for Scythia, at a location that was a major crossroads of trade for multiple river routes. A magnificent palace was erected there, built in a Persianate style – but, perhaps, most grand of all, a temple for each of Scythia’s eight major deities was built on the palace grounds. From this new capital, the Scythians can extend their control better over the north of their country, keeping all of it harmoniously together.

(Scythia: +Navy Development, +Stability)

Bactria remained unbreakable, throwing off both an Indian invasion (which we shall detail later) and incursions by scattering nomadic tribes – many of whom settled and assimilated into Bactrian society by the end. The Bactrian kings spent much of their effort in this time patronizing military improvements, creating a series of military academies in their cities, and devolving much local control and authority over justice into the hands of military colonists. Overall, Bactrian society became far more militarized in this period, for better or for worse.

(Bactria: +Army Development)

==
Africa ==

Little of note is reported to have occurred in West Africa in this period – except for the fact that Jews from Aksum slowly travelled west across Darfur and into West Africa. While there were already Jews in the Sao kingdom, their numbers began growing significantly, as the foreign faith was brought to the region in the 530s and 540s, with adherents and communities now as far west as Ghana. In the Sao kingdom, the number of Jews has increased so rapidly the political institutions now view the religion as a threat, according to Aksumite accounts, at least. However, with the Jews have come cultural contacts with the greater Indian Ocean region, if sparse at best.

(Sao: -Stability, +Culture Development)

Similarly, the Azanians seemed quite content to remain in their homes, and little of note happened in these city-states during this time. Judaism, both the Aksumite and the Yibri kind, began to noticeably grow in popularity in this period.

In 530, a small Yibri force entered the realms of the third Feather King of Madagascar, but were met by a much larger Malagasy army, which was able to repulse the invaders and force them to rout. The result of this battle caused Yibri King Shido I Jeyte to openly curse the Feather King. And, barely a year later, a mysterious forest fire swept through Madagascar. In the wake of the event, the Yibri armies attacked again. Many of the Feather King’s followers, seeing the might of the spectacle laid out before them, abandoned him and accepted Judaism; and the ensuing war was quick. Madagascar has been incorporated into Yibram, though conflicts remain between the Yibri and tribes in the countryside. The Feather King was captured, beheaded, his head encrusted with jewels, and sold to an Indian merchant as a “rich exotic beast,” and his lands were redistributed to soldiers and rabbis. In this time, the Great Nacala Harbor was also completed in 548, becoming a true spectacle that was visited and frequented from traders from all across the Indian Ocean, and even by previously unknown peoples from parts west and south.

(Yibram: -2 Infantry Companies, -Stability, +Army Development, +Economy Development)

(Madagascar: -6 Infantry Companies, -Existence)

==
India ==

Magadha’s expansion into Kamarupa, as it turned out, was only the beginning of an extended sequence of warfare and conquest, under the great warrior-king Ram Sundara, whose tactical genius shall live forever in the annals of Indian history. After the crushing of Kamarupa in the early 520s, Ram Sundara turned west. The Indo-Greek realms of Sagala and Taxila were preparing to war once again, and just as the army of Sagala began their march for Taxila, their country was struck hard in the behind by the rampaging Magadhan invaders, in 532. Sagala itself fell after a quick siege, and at the Battle of Bucephala in 533, the Sagalan army, just recently victorious yet bloodied over the Taxilans, was wiped out almost to the last man. From there, Ram Sundara proceeded to march into Taxila, where the Taxilans, too, were routed in combat, and the northwest was secure. With the fall of Alexandria-on-the-Indus in early 535, the Indo-Greek realms had all been conquered. Ram Sundara placed some of his officers as the kshatrapas of the new realms, and these kshatrapas have, within a decade and a half, come to adopt Yona culture into their courts.

(Magadha: -3 Infantry Brigades, -2 Cavalry Brigades)

(Sagala: -6 Infantry Brigades, -6 Cavalry Brigades, -Existence) (Taxila: -4 Infantry Brigades, -4 Cavalry Brigades, -Existence)

Yet Ram Sundara was still quite thirsty. He turned south and marched down the Indus River, to the Saka realms of the Western Kshatrapas. The kshatrapa of Patala, the most powerful of them all, attempted to form a unified league of the Sakas, in a largely vain attempt to counter Ram Sundara, and in 539 a combined force of Sakas marched against the Sundara armies. It was too little, too late, and despite some promising early victories, and the Sakas were dispersed. The city of Patala fell in 541. But one kshatrapa would live on – a Hindu kshatrapa, ruling from the city of Vallabhi. Its lands were too barren for Ram Sundara to care much, and quietly after the Sundara armies left, Vallabhi slipped away from Sundara control, and expanded over its neighboring territories.

(Magadha: -4 Infantry Brigades, -4 Cavalry Brigades)

(Western Kshatrapas: -2 Infantry Brigades, -5 Cavalry Brigades, - Existence)

This all concerned neighboring Malwa quite greatly. And, when a messenger from Pataliputra came with dubious information that Ram Sundara was turning his eye southwards, the Malwan king started panicking. He knew that he could not stand up to the Sundara war machine. Fortunately, there was another option. The king thought long and hard, and ultimately in 541 after receiving a number of generous gifts from one foreign envoy, it was official – Malwa would become a feudatory of the Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka. This was not the most popular move, certainly, and many Malwan advisors and nobles made a great outcry over the matter; but the king believed it was necessary, and that was that. Simultaneously, continued patronization of the arts and philosophies in the halls of Ujjain – particularly in mathematics – meant that the city’s thinkers and their texts would become renowned as far as Japan and Babylon.

(Malwa: -Stability, +Culture Development)

But Ram Sundara was not done, and, gathering his forces once more, marched across the Hindu Kush into Bactria in 545. Perhaps he would have conquered Bactria, too, but alas, at the gates of Ai-Khanoum in 546, Ram Sundara took an arrow to the forehead, and died almost instantly – with that, his army retreated back into India. While Ram Sundara II – Ramsundar the Great – will no doubt will go down in legend as one of India’s greatest conquerors, perhaps on par with Chandragupta Maurya himself, in 550 the empire he conquered – a Sundara Empire – stands at the brink, on the fine line between prosperity and collapse. It will all rely on his sun, Gopala Sundara, whose abilities are yet unproven.

(Sundara Empire: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -Stability)

(Bactria: -2 Infantry Companies)

Kamarupa itself, having been forced from the west and merely existing in prayer that the Sundara Empire would not turn east once more, itself turned east. A group of envoys from Kamarupa crossed the mountains and arrived in Jianking in 534, to meet with the Sung Emperor. They returned with some trade goods, and formal contact. While harsh terrain makes further travel between the two lands difficult, the hope remains. Meanwhile, at home, Kamarupa simply rebuilt and resoldified control over its territories, through a mixture of force and centralizing administrative reforms.

(Kamarupa: +Stability)

Kalinga continued to build up and fortify its lands. It was helped that a Kalingan poet published an epic work detailing the country’s brutal conquest by the Maurya emperor Asoka in the third century BCE, a situation bearing chilling similarities to the present political situation in northern India. After Ram Sundara’s death, the Kalingans struck something of a blow by launching a series of raids into Bengal, already under loose enough Sundara control – while no land was exchanged, the years between 546 and 548 saw Kalingan soldiers return home with a good deal of wealth, largely stolen from local Hindu temples. This proved a major boost to Kalinga’s morale.

(Kalinga: +Stability, +Army Development, +Culture Development, +Loot)

Southern India saw its own fair share of war. In 535, the Kannadiga armies, seeing opportunity, invaded Tamilakam. One Kannadiga army struck down to the west, into the lands of Kerala, where after a number of battles, the major port cities such as Nelcynda and switftly fell into Kannadiga hands, as did the rest of the country; the outnumbered Chera forces largely retreated. In the east however, the marauding Kannadiga forces were far more closely matched, and despite several raids were unable to secure a major victory. While the combined Kannadiga armies were able to defeat the Tamils, the Kannadigas did not progress further into or annex Tamilakam in its entirety, being too thinly numbered after the initial victories to do so.

The fallout of the war had by 545 reduced the Chera dynasty to a small tract of land surrounding Thanjavur, with the Cholas to the south and the Pandyas to the north newly independent, and the new kingdoms find themselves largely domineered by the power of Karnataka. Thanjavur itself is less than half the size it was just a generation ago, as most of the cultural nexus that surrounded it has shifted to Kannadiga cities with the conquest. And Kannadiga military tracts, of the Kannada military tactic mockingly dubbed the “elephant rush” have proven influential across India. Closer to home, Kannadiga authorities outlawed the open promotion of Carvaka. This was popular in some quarters, but it led to as-yet-unproven fears amongst Kannada and Telugu Buddhists that they would soon suffer the same fate. Most Carvaka adherents and philosophers who did not reconvert to another school have fled northwards, either to Malwa or into the Sundara Empire. Kannadiga power in South India is uncontested.

(Karnataka: -6 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -Stability, +Army Development, +Culture Development, +Loot)

(Tamilakam: -8 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

Gokanna, on the island of Lanka, underwent an interesting development. While its kings were Buddhist, they nevertheless found the money and interest to patronize the construction of a great Temple to Rama, on a site that numerous scholars pointed out as the location of the mythical Kingdom of Lanka – the kingdom ruled by Ravana, and defeated by Rama in the great epic, the Ramayana. With the construction of such a grand temple, pilgrims from far and wide began reaching Lanka. Similarly, a great lighthouse was constructed in Gokanna, to mark the capital as a jewel.

(Gokanna: +Culture Development)

Southeast Asia Edit

Tarumangara is in what can only be described as a golden age. Traders with India, China, and Japan have returned with magnificent goods and tales of glorious lands, and – most importantly of all – large numbers of imported texts, which have filled libraries at home. Emissaries from the Taruman court were in fact responsible for bringing many of these texts home, and in total these have formed the sprouts of a native intellectual community in the country, with a school of natural philosophy being established in the capital in 542. The capital itself, and many of the country’s other cities, saw great improvements modelled off travellers’ accounts of India, with sewage systems, great monuments and lush gardens being constructed, as well as better harbors based on the cothon system, and designated trading quarters – some of which have become permanent homes for Chinese, Japanese, and Indians – and forums for merchants, all sharply increasing trade revenues. In the countryside, roads were greatly improved.

Reportedly inspired by Indian and Chinese works on law, Sri Ratu Andriana instituted a unified, written code of laws, the “Tatakrama Andriana,” firmly codifying the Kejawen beliefs, including religious, social, and moral laws, for the first time in Nusantaran history. However, as this apparent golden age continues, not all are happy; the supposed proliferation of such “foreign ideas,” regardless of how true that actually is, has inflamed certain more conservative women in the body of Kejawen theologians. And this, despite all the obvious improvements that have come, has caused a deep resentment of Andriana’s courtship with these foreign ideas.

(Tarumangara: +Culture Development)

To the south, Taruman sailors continued their exploration of the mysterious, massive new land they call Rondan. In the 530s and 540s, a series of Taruman military expeditions set out into both the interior and around the coasts of Rondan. The most extensive would be that which set out in 539, which sailed down the supposed west coast of Rondan, until a harsh storm wrecked a number of ships and forced them to turn back. A similar expedition set out in 537 to explore the east, which made official contact with an island they named “Purwantara,” and exchanged weapons and goods with the island’s natives. Concurrent with the introduction of paper to Tarumangara by traders from China and Japan, Taruman sailors have been able to make somewhat extensive maps of their region. Much of inland Rondan was explored too, with little of note found except vast tracts of harsh desert and scattered natives. On Rondan itself, the trading post previously established has expanded into a small town and a local hub, as the area is settled by colonists. Additionally, fleeing Buddhists have established a pair of monasteries – with tacit Taruman support – on an island to the north, and a number of Hindu communities have formed inland as well. Reputedly, the ways of the settlers – including metalworking and, in some cases, Buddhism – are being spread to the natives.

(Tarumangara: -2 Squadrons)

On the mainland, Chinese and Indian texts from the period show that a pair of previously nonexistent states came into existence. One was Langkasuka. Claiming to be the continuation of an older kingdom, which exists in the oral memories of the local Malay peoples and is confirmed by Indian accounts and histories, Langkasuka of today is in fact a confederation of a number of monarchial city-states, dominated by the city of Tambralinga, towards the south of the realm. Hinduism is prevalent here, but Buddhism is growing, and with increasing Nusantaran cultural influence, there are numbers of Kejawen adherents here, especially in and around Tambralinga. Further north, the kingdom of Dvaravati arose, an Indianized kingdom of the Mon peoples living in the valleys west of Kamboja, which united much of the region for the first time under a possibly mythical king, Suryavikrama, in around 530.

Kamboja continued its expansion up the Mekong river, subjugating a number of local tribes – but, by the 540s, the state had started to overextend itself, and dynastic disputes had begun to unravel much of what had been accomplished. Buddhism continued its spread through the Khmer peoples. And neighboring Champa remained largely peaceful and somewhat prosperous through the period, with the exception of a growth in trade, as the city of Indrapura would arise as a port of call for some traders travelling between Tarumanagara and China.

(Kamboja: -Stability, -2 Infantry Companies) (Champa: +Economy Development)

==
East Asia ==

The Rouran came invading Jin, for a second time, in 526, and once again advanced to the gates of Pyongyang. It looked as it this time the Rouran might actually finish the Jin Kingdom off. But this time, the Jin had come to an understanding with neighboring Baekje, and to the Rouran’s surprise, the armies of Baekje would come to Jin’s aid. The siege was relieved, the Rouran armies sent fleeing by the combined forces of the two Korean states, and once again Korea was spared destruction at the hands of a horde. This in a sense reflects the fact that Korean society in recent years has become far more militarized.

(Rouran: -2 Infantry Companies, -9 Cavalry Companies, -1 Siege Train)

(Jin: -2 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies) (Baekje: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company)

Dejected, the Rouran turned their hordes west, into the Uyghur Khaganate. This war, in sharp contrast, went extremely well. While one half of the Rouran army attacked directly, the other half the army passed through the northern Tarim Basin city-states – themselves now increasingly divided between the coalition of the northern three (Kashgar, Tumxuk, and Kuqa) and the southern dominant state of Khotan – and attacked the Uyghurs from the south, and from there the Uyghurs were soundly defeated, very rapidly, the Uyghur khagan and his family killed, and Turkic citizens were placed in charge. By 540 Rouran horsemen were roaming the steppes as far west as the Oxus River.

(Rouran: -1 Infantry Company, -5 Cavalry Companies)

(Uyghur: -20 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

In Gur Khan’s last years, he forced a series of reforms – the Yassa Decrees, named after the Persian-born writer-philosopher Yassin Abur, who proclaimed them. The khanate was transformed into a truly absolute monarchy, with the Khaan above all. Gur Khaan I would die, and the state would pass to his son Aggur, named Gur Khaan II. The khanate would be administered through a series of states, ruled by figures named kurultai, chosen by the khaan, supposedly on meritocratic lines. Education, taxes, and law were all reformed as well, in efforts to create a more equal society. While these administrative reforms have helped, the Khanate’s rapid expansion and subjugation of the Uyghurs has severely burdened the vast state, which now stretches from the Urals to the Pacific, to the point where the advances made by the reforms have been completely negated by the territorial additions since. Most of the west now lies under loose control, at best.

(Rouran: +Culture Development, -Stability)

The Yangdi Emperor’s illustrious reign began to come to an end in 530, when the aging emperor had his eldest son and heir, Chang Yang, crowned as co-emperor; a stroke of genius that would prevent any succession crisis. Five years later, Yangdi would retire – thus beginning the sole rule of the Qianglong Emperor, whose reign would see the continued prosperity of his predecessor. But the real power in Chinese domestic affairs through the whole cycle was the imperial chancellor, Yang Guo, who had spearheaded the conquest of Liao and whose Treatise on Military Efficiency had become the standard for Chinese military texts.

Between 530 and Yang Guo’s death, at the age of 80, in 541, a number of reforms and programs were initiated by the eminent chancellor. A large number of roads through the countryside were paved and constructed according to a plan by three mathematicians; schools and universities for the country’s scholars were constructed in towns across China; and, most far-reaching of all, at Yang Guo’s behest, the state began providing pensions for some of the elderly and unemployed. Some of these were popular, others were, suffice to say, not. The conservative faction of scholars balked strongly at the last one, citing it an unnecessary expense and an unnecessary involvement of the state in economic matters. Still, the Qianglong Emperor’s high opinion of the chancellor and his policies meant that they have stayed, years after Yang Guo’s death.

(Sung: -Stability, +Army Development, +Economy Development)

In Hirajima, these years were largely quiet; the Seven Ports efforts that had begun in an earlier generation were completed in earnest, to great fanfare, and solidifying the Hirajima kings’ authority over their realm. The combination of the ports’ completion and the growing trade between Japan on one hand and Nusantara and China on the other, and Japanese trade links as far as India and even Africa, meant that the Japanese economy and society could truly prospered and grew wealthy. Simultaneously, in 527, Hirajima soldiers crossed the strait to the northern island of Ejima, founding the port city of Tsuchiwan; mostly, this has been used for interaction between Hirajima and the Emishi and Ainu peoples of the north, with any locals who resisted Hirajima expansion subjugated or evicted by force. Japanese Buddhists have been particularly energetic in using Tsuchiwan as a staging point from where they can spread Buddhist teachings to the Ainu, and many have picked it up.

(Hirajima: +Stability, +Economy Development)

==
Story Bonuses ==

When Meduseld burning, one young ex-initiate at the Temple was reported to have fled the chaos, and, according to some reports, experienced a vision while lying in a ditch, of five figures. He has, supposedly, started wandering Europe, preaching and spreading their message. The destruction of Nornidr has also caused a number of Allfather adherents to spread into neighboring countries, especially into the Balkans, which is already religiously divided between Christians, Solar Faithful, and various other faiths.

Carthage’s outright rejection of the proposed Nording treaty hardened its navies in battle even further, and proved that the Mediterranean was still its mare nostrum.

The Dacian system of roads has been critical in starting a larger flow of trade through Dacia, which has also prospered in this regard from the increased trade flowing through Scythia.

Fatar’s need for devotion has hardened the Samojard people, and even though their homeland has been lost, their faith in the god of their people only grows through their ordeals and their exile, and the memories will never die so long as Fatar lives.

The numerous kings of Yibram over the centuries have given the state a great deal of long-term stability that remains today.

It is a golden age for poetry in China. Perhaps one of the pivotal events in launching this golden age was the marriage of the aging Yangdi Emperor to Suren, a princess of the Rouran Khanate, in a diplomatic move that helped forge a lasting peace between the two East Asian realms. The marriage was a happy one, and despite a large age gap the two had strong feelings for each other. Court poets immediately set out writing love poems, in the efforts of winning the lovestruck Emperor’s favor, and the ensuing growth led to a national blossoming of poetry, advancing the country’s cultural prowess.

The Yassa decrees in the Rouran Khanate further advanced Rouran society, at least in the core regions surrounding the khaan’s burgeoning capital at Karakorum. The decrees also appear to take cues from the contemporary reformist Chinese figures such as Yang Guo.

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