Western Europe Edit

The sweeping migrations and ebbing empires of the last several centuries had brought no shortage of great change to Europe. But Continental Europe soon found itself at the mercy of an even greater change, one its peoples could not foresee, which would likely rewrite the continent’s histories for centuries to come.

It began in Authigar, an Alemanni border town. For years after his flight from Meduseld before the Latin sack of the Allfather’s holy city, one young disciple had been wandering the lands of Western Europe, helping the people, preaching, telling them of the inevitable end times, and how they would be saved by the Allfather’s grace. He would become known far and wide as the Gudrekkr. But the nobles who ran Authigar had little time for this – this preacher was merely a disturber of the peace, and he was swiftly arrested. But with the help of a Gaulish freed slave by the name of Lydia, the Gudrekkr’s followers protested, and as soon as he was taken out to be hanged, they gathered, and revolted.

So was born the state forever marked in history as the Guthlid. Authigar was renamed Thrythern, and transformed into the Guthlid’s capital.

Or so the stories are told. In any case, in 559, some kind of coup was initiated in the area of that town, and the proverbial snowball only accelerated from there. The Guthlid’s amassed forces, men and women of arms gathered from far and wide across Europe, plunged deep into the hearts of their neighbors, states already badly damaged by years of war and political instability, with relative ease; the Guthild was particularly adept at creating rebellious atmospheres in their target states, which helped them immensely. So it was that the Guthild expanded with remarkable, scary efficiency and speed.

Alemannia was the first to fall. Already beleaguered by war with the Christians, the Alemanni state had little chance of holding back this newborn threat; and their armies scattered relatively easily. Frisobatavia was next – the country was already beleaguered by Allfatherist revolts in the early 560s, and after the Guthlid’s armies turned north to face the Frisobatavians in 565, all was relatively simple; the Frisobatavian army was very quickly emasculated, and much of the western half of the country was subdued and brought under the Guthild’s control before their armies turned south.

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

(Allemannia: -5 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies, -Existence) (Frisobatavia: -5 Infantry Companies, -4 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

The Gothic kingdoms were next to fall – the far superior Guthild military was able to defeat the Goths in combat, and rebellions led by groups of dissident aristocrats and general rural rabble were enough. It helped immensely that much of the Gothic military aristocracy were able to keep their lands – by the end, incorporation into the Guthild was the best option in the face of conquest and less-than-friendly neighbors, such as the Aplandic Solars. But one kingdom, Boimark, in the east, resisted incorporation, and by that time the Guthild’s armies were too distracted elsewhere to put the Boimark Goths down – so Boimark remains independent.

(Guthild: -2 Infantry Companies)

(Rheinmark: -2 Infantry Companies, -4 Cavalry Companies, -Existence) (Donau: -1 Infantry Company, -4 Cavalry Companies, -Existence) (Boimark: -2 Infantry Companies, +Stability)

The Guthlid’s hungry eye next turned to nearby Aquitaine, but that is a story for later.

The Frisobatavian court, however, lived on across the channel, in Britannia. A prince of the Frisobatavian ruling line, Gonar, migrated with some scattered men of his company there, and what was born thus in 562 was the petty kingdom of Cantia. The country faced an immediate threat – the Vandals, who came swooping down from the north like vultures to prey on the weak rump of a state. But Gonar was unfazed, and assembled his own army to face them near the town of Vestborg, in 563. How much of a chance Gonar had was uncertain. On the eve of battle, a dream came to him, reputedly in an epileptic fit, as Gonar claimed to witness one of the Drowned Queen’s servants rise from the river and anoint the king, who then proceeded to annihilate the Vandals in a fit of strategic brilliance that, according to Gonar’s companions, came quite literally out of nowhere – divine inspiration, perhaps? Gonar has since devoted himself and his realm to the Drowned Goddess, building temples in cities across his country. In more temporal affairs, many of the soldiers of Gonar’s army settled down and were granted land, forming a new nobility.

(Cantia: -2 Infantry Brigades)

(Vandalaw: -4 Infantry Brigades)

The Vandals themselves were, for their own part, turned inwards by their defeat. Still, raids continued after 563; these were not sporadic, but funded directly from the Vandal king’s pocket. Christian monasteries along the Brythonic and Irish coasts were favored targets, for the stores of riches they housed; but coastal villages and temples of other gods and cults, as far south as Brittany, were not spared either. Not even the seemingly impregnable Guthlid was immune, as the Frisobatavian coast suffered a number of such attacks in the late 560s and early 570s.

(Vandalaw: +Navy Development, +Loot)

Another group of Vandals, these ones from the Vandal homeland in the peninsula south of Eldrachaa, found their own opportunity amidst the chaos. Out of the former eastern Frisobatavia, now cast aside with the rise of the Guthild and the collapse of that country, one Vandal chieftain from their eastern homelands plunged in. Together with a sizable warband, this Vandal chief, recorded by the name Hilderic, was able to swiftly overpower the local Frisobatavian nobles who had attempted to take power for themselves in the wake of the war, and established a kingdom for himself and his men there – West Vandalia – Vestivandalia. Hilderic has taken to peace instead of war, and focused on binding his kingdom through a unified code of laws and a unified proto-administration, to Vestivandalia’s benefit.

(Vestivandalia: -1 Infantry Company)

Though Connacht proved itself the most powerful Irish petty state, both politically and militarily, Connacht – or anyone else – was unable to establish any sort of permanent authority over the entirety of the island. Nonetheless, further contacts, especially between Ireland and Ishfania, not only meant that trade in Ireland blossomed, but with Ireland coming into possession of increasing numbers of Latin and Greek texts through Christian monastic contacts, an intellectual community of sorts has begun to form, making strides especially in recording mathematics and history. Vandal raids are a constant nuisance, but they have been rather limited in scope thus far.

(Irish states: -Stability, +Economy Development, +Culture Development)

North of Ireland, Dal Riata was largely quiet – at the fringe of the oikumene and politically rather isolated due to its relative worthlessness and its paganism, there was little to do. Its soldiers fended off a few inconsequential Vandal raids, and Christian missionaries continued to make strides into its territory. Neither of these things are especially healthy for the unity of this state.

(Dal Riata: -Stability)

Brython also mostly concerned itself with fending off Vandal raids, which were a consistent pestilence along its coast. The Brythonic aristocracy wet itself over fears that the Vandals might attempt to turn to them next; but this feared invasion never quite occurred, and in 575, Brython still exists just as strong as it always has.

(Brython: -2 Infantry Companies, -Stability)

All of the British isles underwent extensive Christian missionary activity in the mid-to-late sixth century, as monasteries and churches blossomed throughout parts of the island where Christianity had been fading with the Vandal invasions and Allfatherists’ influences. The Vandalaw saw the brunt of this blossoming, and the Vandals lacked the political will to expel the Christian missionaries, and through the 560s the religion spread through the inner countryside. Nonetheless, the Christians have brought with them a great wealth of classical texts to their new structures. Christianity is growing here, and it may be a matter of time before Vandalaw is entirely Christian.

(Vandalaw: -Stability, +Culture Development)

Though some of Brittany’s eastern frontier was lost to the Guthlid in the 560s, and the strength of the new power meant that the Bretons were unable to retake it, the core of the state – its burgeoning coastal cities and ports – continued to prosper, and the wealth found its way to every strata of society, even the rural peasantry. In fact, the unification and stability brought to the east by the Guthlid has brought forward a potential blessing in disguise, in the form of further trade connections via land to the east. Drowned Goddess adherents under Guthlid rule have been remarkably left alone, with the exception of the aforementioned Guthafrath, and despite some word of “incorporating” the faith into that of the Allfather, this has been brushed off as harmless talk.

The Elephantine War – or, the Third Carthaginian War Edit

Not as soon as the flames from the burning of Meduseld had settled was the Mediterranean at war again – this time, for the third war in barely half a century. Fighting had been dormant for a decade after the Latins surprised the Carthaginians at sea, but by the late 550s, they had flared up again, and hostilities resumed.

Much of the war between 559 and 564 was fought at sea, between Carthaginian-Ishfanian and Latin fleets. At first, it appeared that the Latins had the upper hand, with a recently greatly expanded fleet which was able to repulse a number of Carthaginians. But after 560, when the Carthaginian and Ishfanian fleets were able to link up, and the Carthaginians’ superiority in naval tactics was able to prove crushing – as was the Carthaginians’ effective use of the Nording powder against the enemy, such as tying jars of the stuff to ballistae and firing them at enemy warships.

(Carthage: -5 Squadrons, +Navy Development) (Ishfania: -3 Squadrons, +Navy Development)

(Latiniki: -11 Squadrons) (Latin Tributaries: -3 Squadrons)

The Ishfanians crossed into Alemannia in 560, and immediately laid siege to the fortified port city of Arburg from both land and sea; after several months of this, the city surrendered to Ishfania – it has since been incorporated as a poleis into the Ishfanian state. The Ishfanians were aided in this attack by the Aquitanians, who launched their own, successful, campaign into central Alemannia.

(Ishfania: -2 Infantry Companies) (Aquitania: -2 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, +Army Development)

(Alemannia: -6 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies)

The Carthaginians landed on Sicily in 560, aided by Thuring soldiers of Kyrenmark, and not long after the Ishfanians plunged into northern Latiniki, marauding much of the landscape. The Latins fought valiantly, but forced to fight in both north and south, they were outnumbered; and despite some early victories, including a major defeat of the Carthaginians outside Syracuse by the combined armies of Latiniki and her tributaries, the Carthaginians by 562 had achieved the upper hand and defeated the Latins on Sicily, before proceeding northwards onto the mainland. The dozen elephants of the Carthaginians, imported from India supposedly at the whim of one general, rampaged into Latin lines, spreading some degree of fear and panic.

The master stroke came in 564, when the Carthaginians defeated the collective army of the Latins and their tributaries on a field southeast of Neapolis, and proceeded to march as far as Rome, laying the city under siege for the winter of 564-565 – a long, arduous siege which is reputed to have killed as much as a third of Rome’s people, as both sides attempted to use the Nording powder against each other, largely in vain. But, Rome held firm – until the spring of 565, when the Ishfanians brought their own army from the north. This was enough to force the gates open, and Rome was sacked.

Not long after Rome was brought under Carthaginian administration, the old Roman Senate chamber went up in a mysterious fire, or explosion, the specifics depending on the author – the cause of this has long been lost to history, and a hundred thousand possible explanations, from Allfatherists to Christians to Arabs to even time travelers (at least two known sources record sightings of a mysterious lone man dressed in Latin armor near the Senate building) have been blamed for the incident, which, despite its supposed impressiveness, has overall done little but mildly shake Carthage’s authority over Latium.

(Carthage: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -3 Mercenary Companies, +Army Development, -Stability, +Loot) (Kyrenmark: -2 Infantry Companies, +Loot) (Ishfania: -2 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies, +Loot)

(Latiniki: -7 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Company, -Stability) (Latin Tributaries: -4 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies)

A peace has settled over Italia again, but the Carthaginians rule over what is little more than a devastated and broken land, where bandits and brigands and pirates have done what armies could not. Christian missionaries have been remarkably active in this destroyed land, bringing hope where others can not and will not. What remains of Latiniki lives on, ironically, in the north, ruled from the city built upon what had once been Meduseld – neither the Latins nor the Ishfanians came around to incorporating the area. Many of the Nordings had been cleared in the 550s and 560s, forced out into Alemannia or elsewhere – which conveniently enough was incorporated into the Guthlid not long after – and replaced by Latin settlers, which enabled the Senate to retain some degree of control. The Senate made a point of desecrating every Allfather temple and holy site it could get its hands on. To the west, Arburg was incorporated into Ishfania as a poleis, and the lands directly to the east, as far as Massalia, were also brought under Ishfanian control.

By 565, Aquitania seemed to be on top of its corner of the oikumene. Under the reign of King Syragius IV, who had been crowned in 559 on the eve of war, a large swathe of central Gaul had been reconquered from the heathen Alemanni. Aquitanian soldiers prepared to celebrate in the fields of their newly conqured lands. It was all too soon – 566, in fact – that the Guthlid came, and shattered the Aquitanian armies, and sweeping through eastern Aquitania. The city of Burdigala remained safe and untouched, but most of its eastern lands and all gains in the recent war are lost in the humiliating peace treaty of 568, and Aquitania is reduced to a de facto glorified buffer state.

(Guthlid: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company)

(Aquitania: -6 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies)

The Guthlid would have invaded Italia next, to liberate the kingdom of Nornidr and the ruined sacred sites of Meduseld. Alas, when the Guthlid did arrive in 571, they came across an Ishfanian army, and in a somewhat pitched battle north of Arburg, the Guthlid’s forward army was repulsed handily. While the Guthlid’s losses were not too severe, the result prevented the Gudrekkr’s dreams of reclaiming Meduseld from ever coming to pass. And, alas, the Gudrekkr would sadly live the rest of his life without ever being able to see his home again.

(Guthlid: -1 Infantry Company, -1 Cavalry Companies)

(Ishfania: -1 Infantry Company)

In any case, the Guthlid proceeded to tie its diverse, large, and newly conquered realm together. One of the first reforms was the establishment of the Guthafrath, a special tax levied on non-Allfatherists within the realm, in exchange for state protections. People who refused to comply were forced into working on public works projects or forcibly resettled, a process labeled the Gewyrht; the same was applied to other outlaws, rebels, and traitors. Inspired by the Latin Solar Orders, a number of Allfatherist military orders, named the Harthis, were formed; the most notorious and famous of these were the semi-mythical Sith, who by 575 supposedly had contacts as far away as India. And a number of ecumenical councils, Guthings, were convened to determine the future of the Allfather and other faiths; the ones in Thrythern in 565 and 573 were the major ones, but neither accomplished much permanent change.

(Guthlid: +Stability)

The fall of Rome provided for other opportunities as well. The former Latin tributary state of Dalmatia attempted to set itself up as an independent republic, but it found that it had little leverage against the Aplandic behemoth to its east, which had just spent most of the 560s waging open war against its Allfatherist population, to a degree of success; by 570, most of the Allfatherists had either converted or fled, with some laying fallow in remote parts of the country. Dalmatia did not survive long before its almost bloodless incorporation into Apland in 570. Aplandic soldiers started marching into Dalmatian territory, but war was unnecessary; an immediate agreement ensured that senate of Dalmatia retained local authority in exchange for immediate surrender. The Ionian Islands were cast adrift, and established as the Republic of Cephallenia; they continue to exist because no one has yet taken care of them.

(Apland: +Stability, -4 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company)

(Latin Tributary States: -Existence)

And, lastly in the region, Kyrenmark was evolving. It could no longer survive as an Allfatherist state in a Greco-Latin and largely Solar world. Instead, King, who ascended to power, agreed to a forward-thinking and unique arrangement – some power and authority was devolved to a senate, consisting of local, largely Solar faithful from the kingdom’s major cities. It helped somewhat that Kyrenic court culture became more and more Hellenized throughout the period, though retaining its Allfatherist trappings. Despite some grumbling by the Thurings, the arrangement has been remarkably successful, helping to unify the realm. Perhaps Allfatherists and Solar Faithful can cooperate in this world?

(Kyrenmark: +Culture Development, +Stability)

And, lastly, as if in perfect tandem with the victory in war, the Grand Temple of Juno was completed, becoming the centerpiece of the grand city of Carthage.

(Carthage: +Culture Development)

Eastern Europe Edit

After a generation in exile, the Samojards returned with a ferocious anger in 551 to claim their lands. The ferocity of the Samojard assault was simply too much for the Eldrachaa defenders to bear; they were outmatched on the battlefield and outnumbered, and they retreated back to their homes rather than attempting to defend the cities of the coast. The Samojards’ exile only hardened their devotion in Fatar, and the twenty years saw a cultural flowering from the homesick people, who penned a good number of poems and ballads in their sadness. Now that they have returned, victorious, they must still remember all that has been lost. The local settlers have already been incorporated into the Samojard caste system.

(Samojards: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Mercenary Company, +Stability, +Culture Development)

(Eldrachaa: -3 Infantry Companies)

Little of this was heard in the courts of the Eldrachaa nobles and queens, however, as there were far grander shifts afoot. Eldrachaa wanted all but nothing to do with the rising Guthlid, which claimed authority in the name of the Allfather. So the priests of the confederacy gathered and stuck upon a bold decision – instead of following the lead of Thrythern, they would uphold their own priestess-queen as the head of the faith, and establish themselves as an organized structure independent of the Guthlid. Many texts of the time refer to this sect as the “Allmother,” often in a derogatory manner, that the Eldrachaa queen wishes to take the Allfather’s place in the heavens. Though most of the country’s priests have accepted this new order, a few remain who do not.

(Eldrachaa: -Stability)

In Dacia, a centuries-long age came to a screeching halt in 555 – the Zalmoxian era was over. A state cult, crafting together Zalmoxianism and the burgeoning Christiainity, was born – Dacian Christianity. Initially confined solely to politicians and intellectuals, the new religion actually managed a degree of popularity in the Dacian cities, but the Christians and Zalmoxians in the countryside were nothing short of furious over the move, and revolted; the mass of the revolts meant that, at their height, over half the country was in arms – led by a mysterious Slavic holy woman by the name “Vladimira the Anointed.” But with the might of the Dacian army under state control, the tide soon turned, and control was restored. With that, the worst of the revolts were put down, the bulk of the Zalmoxian priesthood has been emasculated, and perhaps Dacian Christianity can take hold for the future – but it will be a long and uphill battle. To this end, a great number of religious schools, and some of Europe’s finest churches to date, were constructed, and missionaries were dispatched to the countryside – albeit to little success.

(Dacia: -4 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies, -Stability) (Dacian March: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -Stability)

The Bulgar khans converted much of their people to Christianity by the swordpoint, and a harsh swordpoint at that; Solar and religious figures were often savagely executed, to be made examples of. Nonetheless, the spread of Christianity through Bulgaria has proven to be a useful unifying factor in the khanate, which stands at the brink between the two greater powers in Hellas and Dacia, neither of whom are especially fond of the “barbarians” roaming around at their borders – though with Christian missionaries now bringing foreign books and learning into Bulgaria, that perception is beginning to change.

(Bulgars: -2 Cavalry Companies, +Stability, +Culture Development)

The historians would write Zeno’s four-decade-long tenure as tyrant of Hellas as great and illustrious, as for the first time since possibly the Hellenistic era, a Greek-centric state was able to expand its influence well beyond its own borders. In this case, Zeno oversaw the declaration of Hellenic protection over the Anatolian kingdoms, securing them from Babylonian expansionism. All this would culminate in a 564-566 military campaign which saw upper Macedonia and the coast of Illyria swiftly taken from the Svears. Though the Svear cavalry proved fearsome, the superiority of the Hellenic soldiers combined with their usage of siege weapons meant that the Hellenes had the distinct, especially when it came to entering the Illyrian coastal cities. After 566, the conquered lands were reconstituted as a pair of tributary states, partly settled by veterans of the campaign, and each governed by a council of local Solar and Christian citizens in tandem with a handpicked Greek king. Allowing both Illyria and Macedonia considerable local autonomy, system has functioned remarkably well in the almost-decade since then, though with Solars vastly outnumbering Christians, the latter are complaining of being underrepresented.

Zeno would die in 568, replaced as tyrant by Pythagoras of Ephesus, an Academy-affiliated mathematician-philosopher (better known for his description of the string construction of an ellipse). Zeno’s actions would further legitimize the power and position of tyrant in Hellas. Closer to home, as knowledge and samples of the “Nording powder” spread through the Academies and other institutions, Hellenic philosophers closely studied it, and realized it would prove effective as a weapon at sea.

(Hellas: -5 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, +Navy Development, +Stability)

(Svearia: -4 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies, -Stability)

The Anatolian states did indeed come under some degree of Hellenic influence, but the Christian states look south to the rising power of Arabia, as an opportunity to secure their own power from their infidel neighbors. In contrast, Solar Avaria became a hub of Solar missionaries, some of whom were fleeing Carthage, who saw the opportunities to save people in the East, Solar Faithful have started spreading eastwards, into northern Mesopotamia, and even as far east as Persia.

Arab-Babylonian Wars, Continued Edit

With their state beginning to crumble around them, the Babylonians launched a campaign into Egypt, in an attempt to eliminate their one western enemy. The Ghassanid armies sallied forth to defend their land, but they were outnumbered and swiftly defeated by the far greater in number Babylonians, those who stayed pressured by Aksumite incursions along Egypt’s southern frontier. Meanwhile, the Babylonians pressed directly for Alexandria, which fell in 554. From there, the Babylonians pushed up the Nile River, and by 556 most of Egypt had fallen under Babylonian subjugation with relative ease.

(Babylon: -9 Mercenary Companies, -1 Cavalry Company)

(Ghassanids: -5 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -10 Mercenary Companies, -Existence)

But it would be this invasion that proved costly, for just as the Babylonians had finished placing Egypt under their rule, the Arabians invaded the Levant, and were able to make quick progress – the Babylonian defenders were thin in number, and an attempted counterattack of the Babylonian forces from Egypt was driven off, despite taking a number of casualties. In 557 a triumphant King Ali entered Jerusalem, where he made a grand show of visiting Christ’s holy places, gaining sanction from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and thus gaining a great deal of legitimacy as a centralizing figure across the Christian world. The Temple Mount was converted into an all-Christian church, the Cathedral of the All-Holy Trinity, with Jews forbidden from entrance.

(Babylon: -2 Mercenary Companies)

(Arabia: -1 Cavalry Company, -2 Mercenary Companies)

With the remaining Babylonian garrison in Egypt now cut off from the rest of Babylon, and very confused, the largely mercenary-composed army’s leader, a man named Gondophares of Arachosia, decided to make a daring move. In 566, to secure his realm’s stability and prosperity, he converted to Christianity, and – as the ultimate coup, had himself crowned pharaoh, the first since the incestuous and ineffectual Ptolemaic line had been ousted centuries earlier. Though he certainly does not claim to be divine in himself, Pharaoh Gondophares does claim to have been chosen by God as his lieutenant to rule Egypt. Gondophares distributed administrative power and land to those members of his army who joined him in converting to Christianity, and through some basic reforms such as guaranteeing Arabs equal treatment in law and civil service, peace has been restored – if she can survive, this new Egypt may have a bright future ahead of her.

(Babylon: -10 Mercenary Companies)

(Egypt: +10 Infantry Companies)

Northern Mesopotamia, taking advantage of the chaos, broke off as well, centralizing through the late 560s and 570s into what is now a pair of states independent of Arabs and Babylonians both. First, from the ancient city of Nineveh arose a new Assyrian state, which established its control as a local power along the Tigris as far south as Ashur and Hatra, managing to evade Arabian control. The second is the nascent kingdom of Armenia – the Armenians once again have a state after several centuries of domination from various local powers. Though it is still rather small and weak, of course, so was Macedon before Philip, and the new Armenian king Tigranes II, who ascended the throne in 574 after the death of his father Tigranes I, looks north, to the Caucasus, and dreams – of empire. With the visibly rotating political tides, all two states have accepted Christianity as their official state religions, though, especially in Assyria, others are quite well tolerated.

The Uar Persians, having recently fended off a tribe of invading Kushans from the north (detailed under Central Asia) launched their own invasion of eastern Babylon, starting in Medea, entering Ecbatana – the old Albanian capital – in 560, and proceeding southwards into Elam and Susa, and from there, west into Babylonia in 562. At the same time, the Arabs from the Levant marched down the Euphrates from Dura-Europos, and up the Persian Gulf coast. But through sheer numerical advantage, the Babylonians managed to fend off the Arab invaders from the south at the Battle of Charax, as the Arabs fell upon a Babylonian fortification. From there, this same, massive Babylonian army marched north to repulse the Arabs north of the City, and when the invading Uar attempted to lay siege to Babylon, they too were driven off. The exhausted Arabs retreated, and the Uar returned back to Persia proper, content with having gained Elam and Medea.

(Babylon: -1 Infantry Company, -1 Cavalry Company, -15 Mercenary Companies)

(Arabia: -2 Cavalry Companies, -6 Mercenary Companies) (Uar Empire: -4 Infantry Companies, -6 Cavalry Companies, +Army Development, +Culture Development)

While the bulk of the Arabs’ army was off in the north, the Aksumites launched a renewed campaign into the Hedjaz itself. They were supported by the strange men of far-off Yibram, who in the 550s had established a trade post on the island of Socotra, which they named Haafi, sent a contingent of soldiers in support of their fellow Jews. Though the Arabs had the advantage of terrain, they were outnumbered and the Aksumites were able to provide their armies ample supplies from the sea, and in 561, Mecca fell to the Aksumites. As did Medina, around the same time. Nonetheless, the Aksumites and their Yibri companions who help defend the newly gained territory must face constant harassment from the Arab tribes of the interior, who despite being outnumbered, are relentless in their aim of retaking the Hedjaz. Still, for the Aksumites, who solidified their own control of Alodia through the construction of a road network there, it is a time of great victory and triumph, as the state reaches unpreceded heights of power and influence. Yibram, with ever-greater influence in Arabia, is also at a high point, since 571 under the rule of Tolum Jeyte, the first Yibri king to win a unanimous election.

(Aksum: -1 Cavalry Company, -8 Mercenary Companies) (Yibram: -4 Infantry Companies, +Stability)

(Arabia: -Stability, -3 Cavalry Brigades)

Though the Arabians have thus inherited the Levant, and have done a fairly good job of allowing local traditions to be retained and reestablishing a bureaucracy, they inherit a rather devastated land, that continues to be plagued by Cilician corsairs raiding its coast, nomadic bandits in an effective hold over the interior, and the cities largely depopulated with no one to support them – just as the Babylonians had begun building what might have been a successful administration to stabilize and rebuild them, the Arabs came along and destabilized it, again. The loss of Mecca has meant that the Arab imperial seat has been relocated to Jerusalem; and the center of Arab power has shifted to the north, its amorphous tribal-based structure allowing this to be done fairly easily. At the same time, the addition of numerous libraries’ worth of texts to the Arabs’ hands has brought the state into contact with some of the great works of Roman, Hellenistic, and Persian civilizations for the first time.

(Arabia: +Army Development, +Culture Development)

And Babylon stews, reduced to a rump state in lower Mesopotamia by the invasion, much of its local wealth carried away by the Arabs. Yet, Babylon lives on. Its navy remains superior in its region, and perhaps Babylon will live to see the next age – but its future looks ever more bleak.

(Babylon: +Navy Development, +Stability)

We should also mention Oman here. Striding the edge of the peninsula untouched by war, Oman acquiesced and became an Arabian vassal – but it is clear that this status is in name only, and especially with the shift of Arabia’s armies northwards, Oman is ever far from the Quraysh’s control. Nothing changed in Oman, which had little interest in foreign conquests to begin with. Oman’s rulers displaced a remarkable amount of tolerance for its Buddhist and Hindu trader-based communities, and rather curiously, traders from India erected a somewhat impressive Hindu temple in Muscat’s port town, a development which has drawn more curiosity than criticism from the country’s Christians.

West Africa Edit

In Pel Ma ‘ir, the Sao high king awoke one morning to find he had received a rather unique delegation – an Aksumite envoy had arrived. The high king did not trust these foreigners very much; they were of that foreign cult whose rabbis had been making the rounds in his city streets, stirring up nothing but trouble. But the deal they offered – halting the persecution of the Jews in exchange for promises of wealth – that deal interested the high king very much. And the emissaries did not hesitate to display their wealth. Yes, the high king could do this. Of course, the same protections did not hold for the followers of the “nail god,” and the high king’s ire soon turned on them after Pel Ma ‘ir authorities discovered a supposed coup plot by the city’s small Christian community against the king. On order of the High King, the Sao Kingdom’s Christians were swiftly rounded up sometime after 560, forced to renounce their faith, or face execution.

Meanwhile, the sparse records from this time show that the rising Ghana Empire turned its armies on Gao sometime in the early 570s, and entirely subjugated the small state, supposedly torching the city of Gao to the ground and salting its remains – a new city of Gao was established as a Ghanaian military outpost on the outskirts of the old one, using building material from the old city. Much of the city’s wealth was returned to the Ghanaian upper class – and especially the emperor, who used it to make his already wildly luxurious palace even more extravagant. Tales of this “land of red and gold” have spread into the Mediterranean world, enticing traders, travelers, and adventurers all.

(Ghana: -3 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, +Army Development, -Stability)

(Gao: -8 Infantry Companies, -6 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

Central Asia Edit

Kabul, in its own corner of the globe, remained peaceful and prosperous. Here, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and Manichaeans continue to meet and mingle with each other in peace. Little of note happened here, and considering what Kabul faces outside its borders, perhaps it is better off for them all this way.

For the Kushans, some of whom hoped to continue pushing west, they would be only met and defeated by a swift Scythian counterattack starting in 553, when the Scythian army regrouped and pushed back, managing to break the Kushans with their ferocity, and causing their nascent confederation to scatter in all directions. The Scythians instead of directly attacking from there assembled a group of friendly tribes and chieftains, under a singular high king, which went on the offensive and proceeded to seize much of the Kushans’ land. The new Kèhánat of Sikesh was thus born, as a Scythian client state. It incorporated a number of tribes to the east, thanks to the Rouran Khanate suffering an internal collapse of sorts, in response to an invasion from the east – we will come to this later.

(Scythia: -1 Cavalry Company) (Sikesh: -5 Cavalry Companies)

(Kushans: -8 Cavalry Companies, -Stability) (Rouran Khanate: -5 Infantry Companies)

Another group of Kushans was scattered southwards, and combined with Babylonian money, attempted to migrate into Persia. But, thanks to their old state having fallen. The Uar Persians have not conquered Margiana from them yet, simply because the Uar have been distracted elsewhere. And, so, technically, the Kushan Khaganate continues to live on.

(Kushans: -10 Cavalry Companies, -Stability)

(Uar Empire: -3 Cavalry Companies)

Scythia itself attempted expansion to the east and to the north, incorporating friendly tribes into its state. In this, they were somewhat successful, and the expansion was accomplished fairly bloodlessly, through the land itself has little of note. Then, the Scythians attempted to cross the Baltic, to the land called Suomi, to establish their rule here, and when Scythian soldiers entered this land attempting peaceful integration, they met harsh resistance from tribes who had heard tales of slavery and other supposed dark facets of life under Scythia – so much so, in fact, that the Scythians were repulsed and prevented from settling the region. In fact, the Scythian expansion marked the impetus for something else, for the local Finns to altogether unite under one chief, and in the 560s a unified Suomi is born for the first time.

While all this was ongoing, Scythian arts and culture were blossoming – and so were its politics. The centerpiece of this was a grand ceremony in 555, held in the Scythian capital of Chersone. There, the satraps and xuyltai met at the behest of Karlitava, Kèhán (king) of Scythia who had led his armies to victory over the Yotvings and Samojards, to bear witness to Karlitava, clutching a peryton with nine arrows for nine gods, being crowned Xšaya – Emperor of Scythia, giving rise to the so-called “Peryton Empire.” The long peace of Karlitava’s reign has also brought stability to the country – but how long can this last, with an empire so big? Inevitably, it must fall, the other peoples of the world tell themselves – the question now is when?

(Scythia: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, +Stability, +Culture Development)

(Suomi: -1 Infantry Company)

Still another group was released by the subjugation of the Kushans: a group of seven tribes, collectively known to the Scythians and Greeks as the Tarjans, after their supposedly leading tribe; but they were also known, especially to the Persians and Indians, by the name of another major tribe within them: Megyers.

In any case, the Tarjans, who were strikingly, firmly Buddhist, and completely undesiring to partake in the whole Sikesh mess, fanned out to the southeast in the 560s, establishing control over most of the lower Oxus river valley and the number of trading posts that had been established there, before they fell upon the northwestern frontier of Bactria in 563. Perhaps Bactria would have stood, and by all rights, it should have; but it just so happened that the death of the Bactrian king in 561 triggered a succession war, allowing the Tarjans to sweep in and capture parts of western Bactria, though at some cost. Proceeding from here, the Tarjans proceeded to subjugate the Ferghana Valley in 570. The trade city of Marakanda, though somewhat ravaged by the ongoing war, has become the Tarjan capital.

(Tarjans: -3 Cavalry Companies)

(Bactria: -5 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies)

Nevertheless, the Tarjan khagan’s hold over the region is slippery. To make matters more complicated, many Tarjans hear of greener pastures, and more importantly, wealth in abundance almost unheard of on the western steppes, just across a mountain pass to the south, and perhaps Marakanda just isn’t good enough; perhaps they should go there...

India Edit

Not for the first time, Hindustan found itself divided between two immensely powerful states, one in the north and one in the south. It appeared that the two would inevitably go to war.

Such a conflict never actually came.

There is a tale of the Emperor Gopala Sundara. When he was a boy, he went swimming in the Yamuna River near Indraprastha, and witnessed a pair of his father’s soldiers attempting to slay a tiger, and being both killed in their militarist arrogance, turning the boy off warfare forever. Whether this tale is true or not, from the gates of the Hindu Kush to the wide fan the Ganga makes where it enters the sea, if Ram Sundara’s reign was a time of war, his successor Gopala Sundara’s was a time of peace. And what a peace it was! Letting the military be to defend the empire’s frontiers, Gopala turned to art and culture.

Influenced by the Yona aesthetic common in the northwest extension of the Sundara Empire, Gopala Sundara patronized the construction of a great many Buddhist centers in that style – and not just Buddhist, but Hindu temples as well. Infratstructure improvements on the scale of those of the great Ashoka were conducted, namely the construction of a new and greatly modernized road network swiftly tying one end of the empire to the other and a courier system to go along with it, was completed. To top it all off, in the 560s, Gopala Sundara relocated his capital from Pataliputra to the more central location of Indraprastha – which was spectacularly built in a very Hellenistic-influenced style. In 575, the eminent Gopala Sundara still reigns, in full health, with no signs of stopping the great golden age his rule has brought to North India.

(Sundara Empire: +Economy Development, +Culture Development, +Stability)

The far eastern kingdom of Kamarupa took an unprecedented step – instead of bothering to care about the affairs to the west, of Sundaras and Chalukyas and the other great nations of a divided India, Kamarupa turned its little eye east, across the perilous mountains, to China. In a hitherto unprecedented step, Chinese envoys were able to firmly establish a trade route between the two countries, and secure it from outside threats – meaning that the harrowing land route can now be traveled. The kings and nobles of Kamarupa now feel ever safer, knowing that the Emperor of All Under Heaven has their back – maybe.

(Kamarupa: +Stability)

Records show little of Kalinga in this period; there is some mention of its kings establishing closer diplomatic relations with the Sundara Empire, as Gopala Sundara made it clear he had little interest in conquering Kalinga, or anyone else, for that matter. It is also mentioned that it continued stewarding trade missions to the eastern lands, and that the Kalingan kings are reputed to have built up an impressive collection of Nusantaran tortoise shells.

In the western realm of Vallabhi, continuing to exchange trade contacts with Oman, the state’s rulers sought to attain enlightenment through the gathering of knowledge, and established a royal library in Dvaraka, where Hellenistic, Persian, and Indian texts were gathered in what by 575 was India’s largest outside Karnataka and the Sundara Empire. But, far more interesting, was the development of a full-fledged Nasrani community in Dvaraka, in tandem with Omani missionaries who, despite the vast doctrinal differences, saw much common ground in these communities, and even much that they could learn for their own faith at home.

(Vallabhi: +Economy Development, +Culture Development)

In Chalukya-ruled Karnataka, it was a similar time of peace and prosperity; but despite this, all was not entirely well. The newly incorporated Malayalam- and Tamil-speaking areas in the south have proven somewhat difficult to administer thanks to a language gap that has not been resolved with Telugu- or Kannada-speaking nobility managing the affair, resulting in bureaucratic conflict. To the north, being a Chalukya feudatory has helped the state of Malwa in more ways than one; its generals have decided to emulate the Chalukyas’ methods of warfare and army organization, though there has not yet been a war in which they can show their skills.

(Karnataka: -Stability) (Malwa: +Army Development)

The Tamil states, even in the watchful shadow of the Chalukya Empire, squabbled amongst each other, often exchanging alliances. After a couple of inconclusive wars in the 550s after which everyone involved realized the pointlessness of them all, it was too late. In the 560s, the Kingdom of Gokanna on Lanka crossed onto the Indian mainland. It is reputed that just like Rama, the Lankans crossed by building a bridge of rocks; but in reality, they probably merely crossed the narrow strait on boats. The southern Tamil state, that of the Cholas, was swiftly conquered; but for whatever reason, the Lankans did not proceed any further northwards. Travelers of Lanka in this day report of how the island might as well be some Paradise, with its bountiful wealth and prosperity.

(Tamil states: -1 Cavalry Companies, -3 Infantry Companies, +Stability)

(Gokanna: -1 Infantry Company, -1 Cavalry Company, +Army Development)

Southeast Asia Edit

Tarumangara retained its hold of all Nusantara. But, lately, even with Taruman naval dominance, holding onto all that land seems more and more difficult for the country’s complex administration. Case in point: Malaya, which was invaded by Langkasuka in the 560s, and as the periphery of the Taruman domain, quickly taken by Langkasuka. The high king of Langkasuka at the time of the invasion, a man named Bhagadatta the Great, used the conquest to consolidate his power further, to the point where Langkasuka can hardly be called a confederacy anymore. Still, for most of the country, including the great country of Rondan, the peace continued. Some of the Rondanese natives have established a further for their variant of Buddhism based on cultural fusions between the Nusantaran migrants and those of the Rondanese – the so-called Altjira Buddhism.

(Langkasuka: -2 Infantry Companies, +Stability)

(Tarumangara: -Stability, -3 Infantry Companies)

The north saw the further rise to power of Dvaravati to prominence. Some wars were fought between the Mon Dvaravati and the Khmer Kambojans over the upper Mekong region in the 560s and 570s, leading to Dvaravati victory and establishment supremacy there, and travellers’ records show that in Kamboja, the time was one of malaise and general decline. Little of note passed in neighboring Champa, except a general flowering of wealth. Buddhism continued its spread through the still largely Hindu-dominated region.

(Dvaravati: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, +Stability, +Army Development)

(Kamboja: -5 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -Stability)

The Pyu world was badly shaken by the conversion of the king of Beikthano to Vajrayana Buddhism – a date marked as 557 in Kalingan sources, but differing in some others. Nonetheless, it was this event, and the succeeding wars, that caused a great flowering of Buddhism amongst the Pyu – not to mention a further centralizing of power into Beikthano.

(Pyu city-states: -2 Infantry Companies, -Stability, +Army Development)

The Theravada and Vajrayana flowerings that swept through Southeast Asia roughly between 550 and 570 left behind a rather impressive legacy, in the great number of stupas and other such buildings which survive from the period, and the literature it produced; though largely oral, the spread of Brahmi-descended scripts in the sixth century with Buddhism has marked an outburst of written literature.

(Pyu city-states, Dvaravati, Kamboja, Champa, Langkasuka: +Culture Development)

East Asia Edit

The increasingly powerful position of Imperial Chancellor of Great Sung fell to one Xiang Yaoshi, a remarkably young man for the post. Xiang’s main concern lay at sea – he proposed a new doctrine: “the dragon rides the waves,” he famously declared to the Qianlong Emperor. To this end, the size of the imperial fleet was greatly expanded. Ports and harbors were constructed at grand scales in dozens of coastal towns and cities. The newly expanded Sung fleet made a grand tour of sorts amongst a few of its neighboring countries – ports in Champa, Baekje, and Hirajima all saw visits by Chinese “dragon ships,” instilling fear and wonder both in observers. In any case, all these countries were shaken by this.

(Great Sung: +Navy Development) (Champa, Baekje, Hirajima: -Stability)

From the cold lands of the northeast, where not even the hardiest of Chinese or Mongols venture, came the Kamchachans. A most strange and alien “bone people,” having mastered the arts of horseback warfare and dogsled warfare both, the Kamchachans had by the mid-550s brutally subjugated most of those Jurchen tribes ruling the lands to the northeast of China. The Kamchachan invasion of the Rouran Khanate that followed, through the course of the 560s, would bring much of the eastern third of the Khanate under Kamchachan control, after the Rouran army was decisively defeated in 562. A simultaneous invasion of the Jin Kingdom in 567 succeeded where previous Rouran invasions had repeatedly failed, for the Jin could not outfight the dogs who came tearing upon them. Jin called for aid, but Baekje did not respond; Jin was quickly overrun, and though its cities held out, it was only a matter of time before they fell. The Kamchachans by 570 had reached the banks of the Yellow River.

(Kamchachan Khaldom: -2 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies)

(Rouran Khanate: -15 Cavalry Companies) (Jin Kingdom: -10 Infantry Companies, -4 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

Though large parts of the Rouran Khanate were lost, either to the Kamchachan incursions, or to events to the west, the Khanate itself miraculously held together. Perhaps it was because the deadweight of the least loyal elements of the Khanate was cut away by the incursions. Or perhaps it was the extension of the Yassa Decrees over the entirety of the country, standardizing the rule of law everywhere. Or perhaps it was the completion of the irrigation projects brought continued prosperity to the countryside unaffected by the war. Or perhaps it was merely that the Khaan’s authority, built up over the years, was able to weather the storm. A grand marriage was held in Karakorum between Princess Roxana of Kashgar and Gur Khaan II. The Rouran Khanate may yet survive, but it will take a great deal of effort to keep the edifice stable and safe from invasions.

(Rouran Khanate: +Stability)

The political boost that arrived from the consummation of Kashgar’s ties with the Rouran Khanate cannot be underestimated. As the swords clanked at the Battle of Yarkand in 571, the armies of Khotan were resoundingly defeated by those of Kashgar, the king of Khotan killed on the battlefield, and Khotan’s age of hegemony amongst the region’s states was ended. Yarkand fell under Kashgar’s direct rule, and Kashgar has replaced Khotan as the prominent state of the Tarim Basin. Kashgar in particular, placed nicely along the Silk Road, has become a nexus where Hellenistic and Persian cultures of the west met Chinese cultures of the east.

(Tarim Basin: -4 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies, -Stability, +Culture Development)

Baekje in the south of Korea was spared the ravages of war, and managed to dodge the Kamchachan arrow when the Kamchachans, instead of driving straight for the southern coast as many expected, simply turned back north after subjugating Pyongyang. The kings of Baekje paid for the construction of a series of fortresses along the frontier with the Kamchachans – these also served to solidify the state’s administrative control over the frontier. The ever-wealthier Baekje court was a major patron of poetry and visual arts, and in Baekje’s cities, a number of schools of mathematics and philosophy flourished in the 550s and 560s. The entire period was remembered as a glorious golden age for Korean arts, who displayed a growing cultural influence with nearby Japan as the two lands grew ever closer through trade, and all this continued even as the north suffered subjugation, not for the first time in recent memory.

(Baekje: +Stability, +Culture Development)

Japan remained quietly prosperous; records and art from this phase of the Hirajima era all demonstrate a curious fixation on boats.

(Hirajima: +Navy Development)

Story Bonuses Edit

Despite the politicking in Dacia, its variant of Christianity has spread and taken root. But the opposition is quite great, and this may not at all be in any way permanent, before another force enters the equation to overturn it completely.

The story of the Peryton Emperor of Scythia is told far and wide in these days and those yet to come, and it is told to visitors in the increasingly lush and wealthy streets of Cherson.

The tales of the Arab King Ali, who “liberated” Jerusalem, have spread through the newly conquered lands quick and wide, and the king’s divine eminence, but more likely the Arab military force in the Levant and upper Mesopotamia, have spurred widespread baptisms in cities and villages from the Erythraean to Cilicia.

The port construction efforts in Great Sung were overseen by a eunuch mathematician named Jia Xian, best known for his work on the so-called “Jia Xian triangle,” a mathematical tool in which each number in a growing pyramid is the sum of the two numbers above it. His work was able to increase the efficiency of Chinese ports significantly.