Western Europe Edit

If there is one thing that can be said about late sixth century Britain, it is that the entire archipelago was caught up in a turbulent dance of metal and blood and – mostly – rebellion.

After decades of being the last truly pagan holdout in the British Isles, Dal Riata’s ruling clan in the 590s ultimately decided to fold their dwindling cards and convert to Christianity, ostensibly to secure the nation’s place on the island. This was firmed with marriage and an alliance with the rulers of Connacht, in Ireland. In less chaotic matters, the Dal Riatans have begun building a palace complex at Arthfael, with the intent of making it a permanent administrative center when it is completed; this was coupled with the building of infrastructure through the land. The conversion to Christianity led to a boost in literacy, as Irish Christian missionaries arrived in sizable numbers to establish monasteries and churches.

It all would have gone off largely without a hitch, too, if it had not been for a pesky group of clans in the highlands and islands of northwestern Pictland, supported by militant pagan druids, who, combined, revolted, and tried to overthrow the monarch, an effort that failed; but independence was declared nonetheless, with the clans being able to drive Arthfael’s warriors out of Innse Gall and the Highlands. There had been attempted efforts to curry political support amongst the clans, which kept the clans of Eastern Pictland loyal to Arthfael, but the northern clans spat in the face of these efforts and revolted anyway. Civil war appears to have begun.

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

(Dal Riata: -1 Infantry Company)

Connacht’s overarching powerful presence, bolstered by Arthfael’s political and Christian ecclesial support, proved a stabilizing factor in Ireland, which saw the petty clan wars that had dominated the island’s geopolitics for a great majority of the past century almost cease completely. While Connacht continued to be unable to centralize the island, with the southern and eastern clans remaining fiercely independent if still loyal, Ireland has benefited from the years of peace.

(Irish states: +Stability)

Further south in Britain, another rebellion broke out, this one by and large unified by Christianity against the very foreign, Vandal domination of central Britain. In about 595, shortly after the baptism of Dal Riata, one Prince Æthelric arose as a successor to the crown of the lost kingdom of Yr Henn Ogled, raising the cross and rallying an army, and a number of princes from Coeling lines eager to regain their power, to the fortress of Loxley, in the country of Elmet. The Vandals found their largely Christian population eager and willing to disobey them and fight for Æthelric, losing control over a great deal of land very rapidly, and by 600 most of the south and west of what had comprised the Vandalaw two decades prior lay securely in Bernician hands. Through all this, the Faith of the Allfather continued its spread amongst those Vandals who stayed.

(Bernicia: -1 Cavalry Company, -1 Infantry Company)

(Vandalaw: -4 Infantry Companies)

The kings of Brython decided that enough was enough of raids along its eastern frontier, and built a line of forts there to protect it. A series of forts was constructed from Gwynedd in the north straight down to Dumnonia in the south, based on Roman methods of engineering, and engineers brought in from Burdigala to advise the Britons. A system of torchlight signals was also placed, to allow easy communication. Observers have remarked on the supposed strength and thick walls of the forts, and thus the relative ease in which military response can be granted

(Brython: +Army Development, +Economy Development)

And in the southeast of Britain, the rulers of Cantia spent a great deal of effort establishing a common law, based on the Frisobatavian law and updated, throughout their land, with the extensive rights of the peasantry and the rights of the aristocracy firmly codified. While Christians and others are tolerated here, favor is given to Drowned Men, and a belief in the Drowned Queen and devotion to her every will is necessary for any true denizen of Cantia to get any favor from the state and court whatsoever. This, plus the numerous great, elaborate temples erected across Cantia in the Drowned Queen’s name, the most magnificent in the center of the town of Londonwic, has spurred conversion. Not through violence has Christianity’s spread in this corner of Britain been halted and reversed, but through peace.

(Cantia: +Culture Development)

Now we proceed to the European mainland, past where the Breton ladies trade and hoard their wealth and fight amongst each other just as they always do, to Aquitania. There, the king in Burdigala focused on greatly expanding and reforming the army; importing former mercenary captains from the recent war to serve him and lead his army for him. For he knew that the Guthlid would return, and when it did, Aquitania would stand ready to fight.

(Aquitaine: +Army Development)

Rome had been lost, but the Latin Senate wanted to ensure that its legacy would live on. So, they turned to their neighbors in Apland. Cynric Niketor, the Solar savior of the land was dead before he could be offered the title, but his successor, Cynric II Soter, accepted the offer in 579. A Roman Emperor had been crowned again – the Rum Kaiserreich, as it was named in the tongue of the Aplings.

Understandably, this move sent shockwaves throughout the world. Some – especially Solar Faithful in the Balkans and Anatolia – accepted the authority, at least in name, of this new supposed Roman Emperor, but many did not. What right did the Senate have, they asked, when the Senate did not even reside in Rome?

Regardless, it was this move that created the impetus for the Guthlid to invade Apland, an army marching to invade the country from the west in the spring of 585. The Aplandic army, itself trying to figure out how to react to the creation of the Kaiserreich, was caught by surprise and defeated with few Guthlid casualties. Once the Guthlid’s armies left, the rump remnants of the Aplandic state, led by a younger son of Cynric II Soter, were reconsolidated around the city of Anglewyc in the east, controlling the Donau river valley. Dalmatia. The coastal regions had long been inhabited by the Viskervolk, sea peoples. The city of Viskervyc, itself named after these peoples due to their close proximity, was seized by one Viskervolk leader – a shrouded figure named Roderic – in 587. From there, Roderic carved out a kingdom of his own – the Viskermark – controlling Dalmatia and some parts inland. The Viskervolk have begun to depart Dalmatia too, and coastal villages across the Adriatic have been raided.

Chaos ensued when the Guthlid’s armies curled around and attempted to strike at northern Italia itself, from the east. Initially, progress was quick. The city of Venehar surrendered to the Guthlid with little resistance in 589, and the invasion prompted a series of Allfatherist revolts that brought the Senate’s authority tumbling down. Following this, Meduseld had been liberated by 591. But it was soon that the Guthlid found itself faced off against an Ishfanian army, which quickly pushed the Guthlid’s forces back to the gates of Meduseld, and secured control of Padania, currying favor with the local Solar populace and largely ruling the area through them. The region has settled into a tripartite, uneasy lull, with the southern part of the region coming under the rule of a Germanic warlord who had converted to Sol Aniketus. A Kingdom of Truskland was established in the area, centered around the city of Firangar, roughly in the center of the peninsula, and extending southwards to the Brandgard.

(Guthlid: -6 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies) (Viskermark: -1 Infantry Company, +Loot)

(Apland: -Stability, -9 Cavalry Companies) (Latiniki: -6 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -Existence) (Ishfania: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company)

Further to the north, the Guthlid, interestingly, faced pressure from Christian proselytization in its lands. In some areas, especially in southern Gaul, the spread of Christianity acted as a communal unifying force amongst the Gewyrht, those peoples internally displaced by Guthlid hands, as a silent means of resistance to the Guthlid’s domination, meaning that the Guthlid’s policies of internal relocation have started to backfire. The Guthlid’s contact with the Italians has meant that a great number of texts and cultural artifacts from northern Italia have been removed and carried back with them to the north, or otherwise spread – to places such as the House of Stars, an establishment built out of the old Mor Tad’s Temple. In addition, the order of the Bokmen was founded, acting as a stabilizing force, and certainly helping soften the blow of the setbacks in war.

(Guthlid: -Stability, +Army Development, +Culture Development)

In one last policy, Allfatherists travelled to all corners of the known world, to spread their message. Little communities of missionaries have cropped up in places as diverse as Carthage, Hellas, Babylon, Persia, and even India, where they have caught the attention of locals entirely unfamiliar with the faith; but that is all that has resulted from this, little missionary communities. Time alone will tell if they will last.

In 577, amidst what was considered something of a golden age for the Samojards, the Samojardic royal election brought King Thunaric IV to power. Thunaric introduced the concept of Ustándanárr, or Rebirth, financing the construction of a great myriad of buildings, castles, and works of art over the course of the 580s. And in 581 Thunaric issued the Edict of the Three Pillars, reforming Samojardic administration into three ministries, the Spear, the Coin, and the Hand. The king would be considered the ultimate sovereign of all, but would have only limited capacity to interfere.

The Vestivandals, despite their support from the Guthlid to reconquer the peninsula above, met a rather nasty surprise when Thunaric IV declared a War of Devotion in 579 and the Samojards invaded. Though the Vandals fought bravely and inflicted heavy casualties, in the end, they were simply too outnumbered, especially when a Scythian fleet carrying Suomi soldiers with them arrived to help out. The land was occupied within just a few years. Thunaric IV offered every Vestivandal landlord a peaceful opportunity to join the kingdom; those that resisted were executed and had their land seized by the army. The Vandals would migrate back northwards into Eldrachaa territory during the 590s, driving the Eldrachaa back at first – but the Eldrachaa have begun to strike back, and the Vandals within the next few years may be destroyed once and for all.

The Suomi would carry many of the memories they saw and the ideas they heard, including worship Fatar, back home with them, where he has reputedly become quite popular.

(Samojardia: -4 Infantry Companies, -2 Mercenary Companies, +Army Development, +Economy Development, +Culture Development) (Suomi: +Army Development, +Culture Development, -1 Infantry Company) (Scythia: -1 Squadron)

(Vestivandalia: -6 Infantry Companies, -4 Squadrons)

(Eldrachaa: -2 Infantry Companies)

The Samojards had accepted fealty to the Scythian Peryton Emperor. At home, this was not the most popular decision. Though some certainly saw that it had bought the Samojards breathing room from both Scythian and Guthlid machinations, some Samojardic nobles resented the perceived loss of the proud nation’s independence. Similarly, the Suomi to the northeast accepted fealty in exchange for permanent peace, something equally controversial, but within reason, and most of the Suomi just went home entirely unaffected.

(Samojardia, Suomi: -Stability)

The Kingdom of Boimark, somewhat like Eldrachaa far to the north, wished to remain increasingly devout to the Allfather no doubt; but they saw the faith as increasingly tied to Trythern, and the Guthlid made them nervous. But they carried on as they had been for years. Then, abruptly, in 588, the King of Boimark, a man named Liuvigild, called a council of Allfatherist priests. They voted that they would, like the Eldrachaa, split off and declare themselves void of any connection to the Guthlid. The so-called “Gothic Allfatherist” faith has been accepted by most of the Boian people, for it has almost no doctrinal differences – it just rejects the authority of the Allfather.

(Boimark: -Stability)

In Dacia, surprisingly, peace reigned, and there was little in the way of religiously-motivated violence. Dacian Christianity, through unlikely means, continued to spread, and a unified code of laws was established using Dacian Christianity. A large military buildup, coupled with the fact that all in the Dacian military continued to be rigorously indoctrinated with the ideals of Dacian Christianity, meant that order prevailed in the country, even if that order was a tentative and rather fragile one that threatens to splinter at the slightest shift in the winds and waves.

(Dacia: +Stability, +Culture Development)

In the Dacian March however, affairs were not so peaceful. A migration eastwards had begun, spurred by the Guthlid invasion of Apland; many Aplish Germans living in the east of the country were forced out, and some ended up. The migration has severely shaken the administrative structure of the territory, with the new arrivals in fact being able to drive Dacian soldiers out of some areas completely, and there are fears that Dacian control over the territory may collapse entirely in the coming years.

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

In a similar migration, Lombard groups already at the fringes of the Aplandic state were pushed into Svearia in the late 580s and early 590s. Most of them simply settled peacefully in northern and western Svearia, but their migration in turn displaced a good number of already existant Svears in the area, and there followed clashes between the migrants and the Svears. The migrants by the start of the seventh century had an upper hand in some of these skirmishes, causing authority to begin to break down in some areas.

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

The Bulgar Khanate remains quiet, aside from the sounds of heads rolling on the ground – the heads of non-Christians. In much of the countryside, the devoutly Christian military travelled from village to village yet untouched by Christianity, baptizing those willing to convert, and brutally sacking, killing, and pillaging in those that refused to. Many Solar Faithful and Hellenic pagans in particular attempted to escape by fleeing across the border into Hellas, to settle in the cities of the south Thracian coast, with some pleas for Hellenic action against the persecutors. A few Dacian Christians who tried to naively spread their own faith into Bulgaria, independent of the Dacian church, were equally executed by the Bulgarian khan, publicly, for their heresy and noncompliance. The show of force has scared many Bulgarians into line with the khan.

(Bulgar Khanate: -1 Cavalry Company, +Stability)

Central Asia Edit

The Scythian state, the so-called Peryton Empire, is now more powerful than ever before. Its influence spreads across the plains from Frisia to Sogdiana. It has been further solidified with the construction of numerous step-wall monasteries to the Eight Riders across the country, glorious buildings centered around pools of water. Not only do they serve religious purposes, they also serve as resting places for travelers and watering holes for their animals. This has signaled the spread of Eastern ideas through the realm, and now, one can see Fatar and Zoroastrian priests debate Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophers within the monastery walls, as they stop and rest on their long journeys.

(Scythia: +Economy Development, +Culture Development)

No Tarjan khagan had any intention in staying put in their lands. Why should they, when rich lands laid arrayed in all forms around them for their taking? It was only a matter of choosing one, and having the strength adequate to finish the task.

In 582, amassed Tarjan armies poured into the western Tarim Basin, through a pass through the Tian Shan, north of Kashgar. Though the trek over the mountains was arduous and somewhat costly in lives, the Tarjans came out of it intact, and advanced southwards. By the end of 583, both Kashgar and Yarkand had fallen under Tarjan rule. By 600, accepting political reality and recognizing that submitting to the Tarjans and retaining autonomy was preferable to attempting to gain Chinese support and risk being forced into the Chinese sphere, the rest of the Tarim cities had accepted Tarjan suzerainty.

In any case, Bactria was next. The Tarjans, already adept at crossing mountains from their passage of the Tien Shan, crossed into Eastern Bactria and laid siege to Ai-Khanoum in 586. Another Tarjan horde simultaneously invaded the country from the west, bringing Persian-made siege equipment with them, thanks to a stroke of adept planning by the Tarjan leadership. The Bactrians had become masters of fighting off steppe hordes in their existence. But, attacked from both east and west, the Bactrians could not hope to hold out, and in just a few short years, the entire country was in Tarjan hands, their cities largely sacked, having culminated in the fall of Bactra in 588.

(Tarjans: -9 Cavalry Companies, -1 Siege Train, +Army Development, +Culture Development, +Stability, +Loot)

(Tarim Basin city-states: -5 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -Stability) (Bactria: -8 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

The wealth and authority from conquest has provided the Tarjan khagan Huba – Huba Khan, as some call him these days – the impetus to solidify his control over his large and diverse realm, and the tribes who inhabit it. Perhaps, further wealth awaits, in yet another country…and perhaps, Huba and his successors may be able to challenge the mighty Rouran for the title of Khaan…or even the Scythians themselves…

The Mediterranean Edit

In Ishfania, aside from the sporadic frontier conflicts with the Allfatherists in Italia, the end of the sixth century was a time of rebuilding and renewal. Much of the Miat’s funds went towards rebuilding roads, towns, and cities the Mediterranean coastal regions of Hispania and Gaul devastated by years of warfare, which prior to the rebuilding had still not fully recovered. The military was reformed based on the experiences gained from the past century’s wars, In addition, a great Christian monastic library was erected in the city of Kartuba, collecting texts from across the ecumene; to preserve elements the library in the case of its destruction, Christian clergymen set about copying many of the library’s texts. This alone has helped make Ishfania’s army one of the most effective in Europe, if not the entire known world.

(Ishfania: +Stability, +Army Development, +Culture Development)

Perhaps the centerpiece of Hellenic power in this age was the great Lighthouse of Rhodes. It is reputedly the tallest building ever built, and at night, the great torch at its apex can be seen for many leagues around. Its construction has proven the great power of Pythagoras, the tyrant of Athens, and solidified his control over the state with the wondrous aura that seems to surround the great structure. Around the same time, in the early 580s, the fledgling republic of Cephallenia was incorporated into Pythagoras’s confederation bloodlessly and without great impact; Hellenic soldiers landed in the Ionian Islands in large numbers, ensuring the Cephallenian senate’s cooperation.

(Hellas: +Culture Development, +Stability) (Cephallenia: -Existence)

The 580s and 590s saw the dawn of what might become a truly Pontic cultural golden age. Pontus in these days was the closest Christian state to the original heartlands of Hellenistic civilization, and had been spared many of the ravages of war that had afflicted much of the rest of the Middle East, even while it had been under Babylonian domination. With a unique blend of Hellenistic tradition and Christian intellectualism, Pontus fast became a center, if not the center, of Western Christian philosophical debate. A number of schools of thought, or revivals of schools of thought, have emerged, such as Neostoicism and Neoepicurianism, blending the two. Pontic kings and nobles and priests have eagerly jumped behind this, patronizing philosophers and teachers throughout the country to fit their needs. Galatia, despite its relative insulation, too saw something of a cultural flowering, spreading from its northern neighbor southwards, and a great debate of sorts was held in the Galatian court in 596, of which news spread far and wide through the Christian and Hellenistic worlds. The Galatians also accepted Arabian suzerainty; but this shall be discussed later.

(Pontus, Galatia: +Culture Development)

Avaria also saw a great deal of cultural flowering – but of a different sort. The fall of Latiniki has caused a diaspora of Solar Faithful, and one of the most common destinations – alongside the secondary Solar “homeland” in Hellas – was Solar Avaria. The Avar court and Solar Orders provided shelter to a great number of these refugees. Some integrated themselves into the Avar navy and introduced the Nording explosive powder to the country’s repertoire of naval tactics. Others settled into the routine of the Solar Orders, and a number of philosophical schools in the Greco-Roman-Solar tradition have had locations founded in Avaria.

(Avaria: +Navy Development, +Culture Development)

Across the sea, in Egypt, the nascent Pharaoh declared loudly that there would be no more blood split in his name. Some of Gondophares’s trusted generals urged him to join the war in Arabia and seize the Levant while he could, but Pharaoh Gondophares decided – in decision popular with a weary Egyptian public just emerging from a period of war-induced famine – that he’d had quite enough of war, and instead set about working to tie his realm together and establish the new dynasty’s prosperity and authority. One of his first steps, taking a page from accounts of earlier Egypts, was to reestablish the nome system – the country would be divided into several dozen administrative units, and each would be placed under the control of a single nomarch, usually a trusted military officer or a man of local prominence. Lastly, in the 580s, shortly before Gondophares’s death, the Egyptian capital was moved from Alexandria to a more central location at Memphis, a city that under Gondophares and his successor Gondophares II was revived and rebuilt, centered around a great Christian church.

(Egypt: +Stability, +Culture Development)

To the west, Kyrenmark similarly enjoyed the fruits of prosperity in the absence of war. The state has become remarkably cosmopolitan, and the Hellenistic trappings of the court and capital in Kyring, or Cyrene, grow in influence with each passing season. Kyrenmark has little interest in the affairs of the Allfatherists across the sea, and instead of listening to them, a royal Edict of Tolerance was issued in approximately 584, recognizing the right of all religions and communities to practice their faiths and beliefs free of persecution. Sites of devotion to Sol, the Allfather, Zeus, Juno, Christ, Yahweh, and even the Buddha can all be found in that city alone. Nonetheless, many of the Thurings in positions of authority have realized that praising Sol grants them a means to legitimize their authority, and this trend is a visible one.

(Kyrenmark: +Stability, +Culture Development)

Pirates continued to haunt parts of the Mediterranean, though Carthaginian naval operations largely drove them out of the west and into the wild east – Cyprus, in particular, has become a notorious den of pirate bases. Then in 599, an incident occurred off the coast of Crete when, during a series of rather violent Mediterranean storms, a Carthaginian ship came into contact with a small vessel manned by Cilician pirates. The Carthaginians boarded the vessel, and found, much to their surprise, that the pirate captain claimed they were being supplied by men no lesser in stature than certain Hellenic archons. Nothing else has been made of these rumors, yet.

Carthage itself these days is quite peaceful, reaping the fruits of victory in the peace that follows. Much effort has gone into reconstructing the devastated portions of Italia taken from the Latins in the Elephantine War, with old roads rebuilt to contemporary standards, fallow fields retilled, and abandoned towns refounded, all with Carthaginian state funding. Much of the land seized from the Solar Orders has been handed handed over to the stewardship of discharged mercenaries from the Carthaginian army, an opportunity they eagerly accepted. Aside from that, a policy of tolerance and acceptance of non-Iunonist faiths was enacted, allowing Christians, Allfatherists, and Solar Faithful all freedom. Rome’s great Solar Temple has remained remarkably untouched. Indeed, a cultural trend was seen wherein faithful of Juno saw the Christian god as merely a representation of Jupiter, entirely compatible with Iunonism. In Messina, construction has begun on a great cothon, which will, when completed, serve as the centerpiece and shipyard of Carthage’s vast and powerful navy.

(Carthage: +Stability)

Lastly, Carthage’s horizons are ever expanding. In 584 an expedition, comprising five hundred men under leadership of one Titus Hadrianus Borealis, set sail for a number of poorly known islands on the far side of the Pillars of Hercules and off the west coast of southern Mauritania – the Barcan Isles, they were named. There, they are reputed to have purchased some land from the. The easternmost islands have come under Carthaginian control since, while the rest, though claimed by Carthage, remain uncontrolled.

Following this, in 590, with news of the Barcan expedition having reached his ears, a Hellenic admiral entertainingly named Jason convinced his superiors to fund an expedition to head even further south, to attempt to sail far, far past the west coast of the Pillars of Hercules, and chart the west coast of Africa. He was given the opportunity, and Jason’s expedition set sail early next year. They sailed far past the Barcan Isles, and south of there made contact with some local fishermen, who informed them of great empires and even greater wealth located further inland, as if the sands themselves were gold dust. Though tempted, they proceeded further. It was here that a series of storms struck them and sunk a number of their ships, and while Jason would have liked to go further, his crew threatened to mutiny, and they returned home. Nonetheless, they gathered a few locals, who were taken back to Athens and sold into slavery for a good profit. His fantastic tales were published at home, and while many doubt his veracity, some see the potential for more.

Arabia, Mesopotamia, and the Levant Edit

Two emperors planned campaigns. One Babylonian army marched upriver; another Arabian army marched downriver. And, though their goals were certainly different, they met each other on a plain southwest of the city of Assur. The Battle of Assur, of 583, is thus recorded; while both forces largely consisted of mercenaries, the Babylonians outnumbered their enemy, and by flanking the Arabs, scored a decisive victory over the invaders. The Arabs were crushed, and driven back, while the Babylonians continued their march up the Tigris, subjugating Nineveh after a somewhat quick siege in mid-584. Following this, and the subsequent capture of the King of Assyria, the entire state collapsed around him. Armenia came next, with the Armenian army ultimately annihilated in a single battle. The Babylonian military leader was a man fittingly named Alexander. He had first gained prominence by preventing the defection of large numbers of Babylonian mercenary corps to the Arabians, but his genius was proven in battle and siege, and he had by 590 gained great notoriety from Ishfania to India for his prowess. Nonetheless, following this, the Babylonian army was exhausted, and the Babylonians set about reconsolidating their regained empire. Whispers through the ecumene speak of a New Babylonian Empire that is to rise to conquer the known world once more, in Alexander’s name. Nonetheless, most of the state’s funding goes to paying its mercenary army, and one wrong move could throw the entire situation into turmoil – again.

(Babylon: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, -19 Mercenary Companies, -1 Siege Train)

(Arabia: -5 Cavalry Companies, -29 Mercenary Companies) (Assyria: -7 Infantry Companies, -6 Cavalry Companies, -Existence) (Armenia: -5 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

With the Arabian army largely destroyed at Assur, the Arabian state itself began to unravel – especially after the assassination of the Arabian emperor by a disgruntled mercenary in his forces in 587, after his army had already been shattered. Jersualem remains secure, and the tribal links cushioned the blow and enabled the state to remain somewhat intact through the Arabian peninsula, but to the north, one tribal leader used the opportunity provided by the emperor’s death to seize power in Antioch, raising an army of local Christian Syriacs, and break away to form an independent kingdom, controlling a significant portion of Syria, if one ravaged by pirates. The Arabians still maintain power in Jerusalem.

(Arabia: -1 Cavalry Company, -1 Mercenary Company, -Stability)

(Antakya: -1 Infantry Company, -1 Cavalry Company)

To the south, in the nominal Arabian heartland, despite constant pressure by Bedouins and what Arab forces had stayed behind to fight from the desert, the Aksumites and Yibri were able to not only hold their ground, but extend it. The Aksumites marched north, with the intent of capturing Jerusalem; though the terrain prevented them from doing so, they were nonetheless able to capture much of the Hedjaz. The Yibri, too, went on campaign to the east. With naval support, Salalah fell in 588, and from there the Yibri were able to bring the surrounding landscape and the coast under their nominal control. To the east, Oman quietly took the opportunity to slip away from Arab control, with the rest of the Arabs too caught up elsewhere to care much. Still, Aksum and Yibram are both feeling the great effects of their overextension; at home, their people and aristocrats are calling for an end to the incessant wars abroad. This would play a great role in the Yibri election of 594, when a candidate named Yakob Olwa came to power promising to focus on more internal affairs.

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

(Aksum: -4 Infantry Companies, -3 Cavalry Companies, -3 Mercenary Companies, -Stability) (Yibram: -3 Infantry Companies, -Stability)

But all was not terrible for the Arabs. Even with themselves cut off, the Galatians, who accepted the Arabian emperor as supreme overlord in 584, remained loyal throughout the period. Wars between Antioch and the Galatians were pervasive, and despite the Antiochans’ nominal numerical strength defeating the first attempted Galatian offensive into the state, the Galatians’ ferocity meant that the Antiochans by the end of the 590s were on the defensive, and the Galatians have in a series of small-scale raids reached the Euphrates, and another offensive may be in the cards.

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

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

West Africa Edit

The Ghana Empire has met perhaps its greatest challenger yet. Its expansion eastwards through the city of Gao, had begun to concern the Hausa in the sorghum-rich lands to the east. One of the most worried was one woman named Magajiya, the queen of Daura, the largest of the Hausa city-states that had mushroomed in the last century. Magajiya saw that the Hausa had to unite, or face Ghanaian subjugation of their own. But she lacked the forces to do so on her own. So in an unprecedented political move, she married a powerful Tuareg chief named Bayajida. Armed with perhaps the largest army West Africa had yet seen, a combined Hausa and Tuareg force, the city’s control expanded at an alarmingly fast rate to the south, and a new state rose: the Daura Empire. Children of Magajiya and Bayajida were placed as hereditary chiefs, alongside allies and tributaries of Daura, binding the Empire together quite effectively. With the gold and labour brought in by conquest, Daura itself has been greatly rebuilt into a fortified capital rivalling the great Sao cities of the east, and other Hausa cities through the rest of the empire have similarly grown. Daura’s best days are certainly ahead of them.

To the east, the Sao Kingdom’s cities saw increasing exposure to Jewish culture imported from Aksum, by travelers and traders. Many of the Sao Jews have started developing their own version of Judaism combining the foreign religion with local beliefs, leading to a combination which some scholars have described as akin to the Yibri Judaism of the south. One king of Pel Ma’ ir was reputedly quite impressed by some of these Jews, and patronized the construction of a synagogue in his city, reputed by Aksumite and Carthaginian travelers to be quite impressive.

East Africa Edit

Azania benefited from the proliferation of Babylonian ideas through the Indian Ocean, thanks to Babylon’s ties with the Aksumites and Yibri, both of whom lay in close proximity to the East African city-states.

(Azanian city-states: +Culture Development)

Yibri settlement of Madagascar, after the country’s previous conquest of the island, continued. Many of the local peoples found themselves integrated into Yibri society, not always for the better – many found themselves forced into virtual slavery on the island’s burgeoning numbers of plantations. Meanwhile, from the regions surrounding Yibram, Judaism started to be spread by trade networks amongst the Bantu peoples of the African interior. Many of these people melded the religion with their own customs, forming a unique sort of hybrid faith – this was only mentioned in passing by travelers and chroniclers from elsewhere, but as of 600, it is known to exist.

Persia and environs Edit

The Uar Empire turned its focus away from Babylon. Wars between the Uar and the neighboring Kushans continued, to little territorial gain on either side. Ultimately, with the ascension of the Emperor Mithrak in 592, a peace was instantly made. The Kushan khagan would accept the protection of Persepolis, in exchange for an annual payment from Persia. Some claimed that this policy was “surrender,” or “tribute in reverse,” but for the people of the border, who had almost seen the invaders from the walls of Nisa, it was worth what, to the Persian treasury, was ultimately a pittance. With the “northern problem” thus taken care of, the Uar Empire turned its attentions inward. One of the first things completed was a “new royal road,” a triangle of sorts, with its three corners placed at Ecbatana, Nisa, and Susa. This helped tie the diverse and far-flung Persian state together, quite effectively.

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

(Kushans: -3 Cavalry Companies, +Stability, +Culture Development)

Neighboring Kandahar remained as it was. At several points after about 584, there were sporadic clashes with a strange enemy from the east, an enemy whose kind had never been seen before in these parts, an enemy whose soldiers began marauding at the edges of Kandahar’s territory, but an enemy not serious on taking much from them, and who disappeared as quickly as they came.

Of course, not all would fare as such against them…

India Edit

Gopala Sundara, perhaps one of the most enlightened rulers who ever lived, passed into the bardo in 581, after almost four decades of rule. His successors were determined to keep his imperial glory alive, and Gopala Sundara II, his grandson, would take over in his stead.

But it was not to be. For India would soon face an alien invader perhaps far more potent than any it had ever faced in its millennia-long history: the Gnamri.

The Gnamri emerged in the peaks and valleys of Tibet, as stewards of a number of pastoral city-states. It was a series of conflicts between them and the Kingdom of Kamarupa in the 570s that led to the introduction of the stirrup and repeating crossbow to Gnamri society, innovations which the Gnamri quickly mastered over the course of their westward migration in the following years. Nontheless, in the following decades, they established a state in the mountains of Kashmir - Lhatsang. And then, like a horde under the command of one ruler whose name was too feared to be spoken, they swept into the great Indus Valley in the early 580s and swiftly carved out the area for themselves, defeating the Sundara armies resoundingly, and taking and sacking as far south as the city of Alexandria-on-the-Indus, which was destroyed and replaced by a new, Gnamri city across the river. In the halls of the eastern cities, they were whispered of in hushed tones as the Himajana, the snow people, as they seemed to bring winter wherever they came. The Sundaras could do nothing to stop them, as Gopala Sundara II was killed by court intrigue in 585, and the situation devolved into a death spiral from there.

(Lhatsang: -2 Cavalry Companies, +Loot)

(Sundara Empire: -5 Infantry Companies, -4 Cavalry Companies, -Stability)

With control over the Punjab lost to the Himajana, Sundara control over neighboring Sindh was equally untenable. With Sundara rule thus retreating, a local Sundara administrator arose to carve out a realm for himself and his friends, centered around the city of Patala, securing his borders from the Himajana. When this administrator, a man by the name of Harsha Sahasi, died in 597, the kingdom passed to the control of his teenage son. Harsha Sahasi II has dreams of creating a society much like that of the Sundaras, full of plurality and tolerance; and that may start soon, in Patala, if the Himajana don’t get him first.

But it was Karnataka who entered a truly high phase in the late sixth century. The era was also one of great plurality and tolerance, as Buddhists and Christians both were allowed presences in Badami, and temples were built far and wide across southern India.

With the Sundara’s fall, the Chalukya dynasty would become the most powerful in all Hindustan It began with the late 570s subjugation of the remnant Tamil petty states. The Pandya kingdom in the north was the first to fall – it had been swiftly defeated and conquered by the end of 577. The Kannadiga army proceeded south, to the Chera remnant, attempting to take Thanjavur. A lengthy siege ensued, with the Cheras doing everything in their power to hold onto the city, but by 579 Thanjavur was safely in Chalukya hands. By 580, the Chalukya armies had proceeded further south, to swiftly evict the Lankans from mainland Tamilakam. Despite this, at least one Kannada officer was captured by retreated Lankan armies, and has reputedly been convinced by Lankan money to enter Lanka’s service, providing valuable military advice.

The campaigns did not halt there. In 585, the combined forces of the Chalukya dynasty and its Malwan feudatories marched into the kingdom of Vallabhi from land. This proved somewhat more difficult; the armies of Vallabhi had the decisive terrain advantage, and fought hard. Nonteheless, Dvaraka fell in 589 after a year-long siege. The rest of the cities in the region, including Vallabhi itself, would fall within the next several years. However, as the newly conquered land was distant and separated from the Kannadiga heartland, the the Chalukya dynasty was unable to establish its centralized bureaucratic authority over the territory; instead, a local family became a Chalukya feudatory, ruling from the port city of Dvaraka.

Further raids continued into Sundara territory. Though Malwan soldiers at one point attempted to sack Indraprastha, the Sundara armies were able to regroup in time to repulse them. Nonetheless, the Malwan and Kannadiga raids loosened Sundara control over the western lands, even further, and a number of petty rajyas formed in the kingdom, led by Gurjara warrior clans displaced by the invasion of Vallabhi, who set up their armies to rule from fortress-towns in the area, though there is little of value there. In the east, Kalinga launched a campaign into Bengal in 587 to some degree of success, only turning back after the death of their king in 589. In turn, during the 590s, a local warlord from the town of Vesali rose to power and carved out much of the region, including the delta itself, which had rotted away from Sundara control.

(Karnataka: -6 Infantry Companies, -4 Cavalry Companies, +Army Development, +Loot) (Malwa: -5 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, +Loot) (Dvaraka: +Loot) (Kalinga: -2 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, +Loot) (Vesali: -2 Infantry Companies) (Gurjara Petty States: -1 Infantry Company)

(Tamil Petty States: -3 Infantry Companies, -5 Cavalry Companies, -Existence) (Gokanna: -3 Infantry Companies, -1 Cavalry Company, +Army Development) (Vallabhi: -Existence) (Sundara Empire: -15 Infantry Companies, -12 Cavalry Companies, -1 Siege Train, -Stability)

As the seventh century dawns in the west, the Sundara Empire is now a rotting corpse, a mere shell of what it had once been, only holding through . The Gnamri in Lhatsang grow restless, preparing to pounce on a self-immolating enemy. And, from their city of rock at Badami, the Chalukya dynasty stands undisputedly supreme as overlords in the south. The peace and prosperity and culture flowering of India in the past century may be over – a new era, an era of warfare and bloodshed and invasions, may have begun.

East Asia Edit

The Rouran Khanate in 575 seemed like it would inevitably collapse, under attack from west and east. But that did not come to pass, and the Khanate’s frontiers, somewhat miraculously, remained secure. The administrative reforms under previous Khaans paid off, with the still-meritocratic administration allowing locals from across the land participation in administration. With this, plus a greatly rebuilt military under the Khaan’s service to enforce order where it was necessary, the country stabilized, and, in some areas, in fact prospered. How long this can sustain is unknown, but perhaps a Rouran renaissance may be in the cards.

(Rouran Khanate: +Stability)

For all the fears that the Kamchachans might turn on China next and ravage its lands, none ever came to pass; the Kamchachans stayed in their new homes in the north, and built. They built a new capital, at a site along the cold eastern shores of their land, north of Korea and Japan – travelers from both these lands have visited it, and seen it as an impressive feat for a people they consider so primitive. The capital has allowed the khal to centralize his authority, and provided an inlet for Chinese culture, which continues to proliferate in the southern regions of the khaldom. The khal also attempted to expand his control to the north, with relatively little success.

(Kamchachan Khaldom: +Stability, +Economy Development, +Culture Development)

This gave the Chinese to the south vital time to build a long line of fortifications along their northern border, providing them added security. This, and the subsequent construction of a great Taoist temple on Wudang mountain, were the landmarks of the reign of the Taizong Emperor, a prince named Chang Wu who ascended to the Heavenly Throne in 580 after his predecessor, Qianlong, retired to a life of seclusion in a distant Taoist temple. Jia Xian became Imperial Chancellor in 583, after Xiang Yaoshi’s death via heart attack. The imperial preference for Taoism continued, as an expedition of Taoist scholars was dispatched to the Kingdom of Kamarupa, where an intellectual community of considerable size has grown, and with it, increasing cultural imports and intermingling across the mountains.

(Kamarupa: +Culture Development)

Hirajima seems to have reached an apex in power. The bright kingdom’s naval and trade dominance over the region has effectively pulled neighboring Baekje into Hirajima’s cultural and political sphere of influence, and this sphere has begun to grow as a counterweight in the eastern seas to the great Chinese dominance of the continent. Trade continues to blossom, and colonization and conquest of the north continues with gusto. However, in Baekje, especially in the south, away from the threats looming across militarized Kamchachan frontier, there is consternation amongst some noble factions that the court, and Baekje’s culture in general, has become far too Japanese for their liking, and that Baekje has become a Japanese tributary in all but actuality. Perhaps this is true; but some things cannot be denied.

(Baekje: +Navy Development, -Stability) (Hirajima: +Navy Development, +Culture Development)

Southeast Asia Edit

By 600, the once-proud kingdom of Kamboja had outright collapsed. It has never really been clear to anyone what happened to cause this; some sources mention that a famine struck the region, coupled with migrations of Mon and other peoples from Dvaravati eastwards into ethnic Khmer territory. In any case, the late sixth century saw a great emptying of Kamboja’s cities. Central authority by the 590s had clearly collapsed, and the region was, according to Indian and Chinese accounts both, under the control of a number of warring, tribal-esque cities and petty states. Dvaravati and Champa had both been able to use this to their advantage, gaining significant chunks of territory inland by the end of the century.

(Kamboja: -2 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -Existence)

Dvaravati itself, following its incursions into Kambojan territory, would turn against Langkasuka; the king of Dvaravati, as recorded in a few dramas of the time, loudly proclaimed that he could march all the way to Singapura itself, deep in Taruman territory, with an amassed army tens of thousands strong. This would prove one of Dvaravati’s greatest follies. The Mon armies marched deep into the peninsula, where they hoped to meet Langkasuka in battle and crush their army, enabling easy conquest; according to this drama, the exact opposite happened, as the Malays struck back at the Dvaravati camp on one particularly disease-stricken night, forcing the Mon soldiers to retreat in what could best be described as chaos. The king of Dvaravati fled home, his tail between his legs, and his authority and pride in shambles. While it is uncertain if that exact sequence of events came to pass, Dvaravati was regardless dealt a major defeat, and though some territory has been added, the great trade cities of Langkasuka remain out of Dvaravati’s reach, and much of Dvaravati’s army lies rotting in the ground. And, in turn, Langkasuka grew even further in renown.

(Dvaravati: -9 Infantry Companies, -2 Cavalry Companies, -Stability) (Langkasuka: -2 Infantry Companies, +Stability, +Army Development)

And, to the northwest, the Pyu city-states solidified into a pair of actual, centralized realms, for perhaps the first time in the region’s history, with the establishment of a unified code of laws in Beikthano in approximately 580, as recorded by Kannada travelers. Very quickly, through the application force of arms, the various cities in the region were subsumed to Beikthano’s interests, and Beikthano’s king, a possibly mythical figure by the name of Venkatesh, had, by approximately 590 become the leader of the entirety of the lower Irrawaddy valley.

(Pyu city-states: -Existence) (Beikthano: +Culture Development) (Halin: +Army Development)

Tarumangara continued as always, but records show that by approximately 590 something had started to filter through the countryside. Whatever it was – a deep illness, at the very least – would start with bloody urine, but soon morphed into a severe fever, internal pains, vomiting, and a number of other entirely unpleasant conditions, followed by an excruciating death. Thousands of people started to fall deeply ill, from the lowest backcountry peasants to the highest priestesses, and as corpses piled up, reports of this illness had begun to filter through the country all the way to the capital, and to neighboring countries too – supposedly in 598-599 Tambralinga was stricken. In any case, if not even the priestesses were saved, then who was?

(Tarumangara: -Stability)

Rondan Edit

Northern Rondan is certainly far from the most fertile of lands. But the Nusantaran settlers there have managed to make a living quite successfully in their beautiful new country. And Nusantarans are far from the only change to come to this land. A wave of diseases spread through the Rondanese natives in the latter half of the sixth century. In its wake, it was along the southern coast that one clan of the Gurri people united, partly adopting the Nusantarans’ ways of agriculture and rice-growing through the course of the sixth century, and by the end of it had formed Rondan’s first true native state. Using the esoteric wisdom of Altjira Buddhism as a unifying political force, one clan leader – a Father of Clans – arose to become Rondan’s most powerful figure. A number of tools and weapons of the Nusantaran style have found their way across the continent, to help the Gurri’s fledgling agricultural society; many have been adopted into the Gurri army. Writing was also introduced to the Gurri sometime in this period, through a Brahmi script brought across the continent.

(Gurri: +Army Development, +Economy Development)

Story Bonuses Edit

The Bernician rebels found themselves with a unified cause and with the winds of the British spirit behind them.

With the perceived victories over both the Solar Latins and the Zoroastrian Babylonians, Christian missionaries have been better able to prove their God’s righteousness and might throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.

The Guthlaw has helped tie the burgeoning and unwieldy state of the Guthlid together, even as it rules everything from the northern coast of Gaul to Meduseld itself. In addition, the Guthlid’s merchants have started a mapmaking tradition of their own, easing trade through their lands as merchants now have greater knowledge of what lies ahead on their paths.

Similarly, Carthaginian navigators have created their own mapmaking tradition. Carthaginian portolan charts are some of the most renowned and accurate of their time, showing trade ports on coasts with great detail.

Despite the great odds, the amalgamation that is Dacian Christianity continues its spread, and continues to act as a stabilizing factor.

Arabian contact with the intellectual flow of the Levant and Mesopotamia from its conquests has continued a flow of texts and ideas back through its territories, even in times like these.

From Babylon arose a new Alexander, and he led Babylon’s armies to victory.

The Sung court’s endorsement of Taoism over the other philosophies of state has helped export it to neighboring countries.