We return to the adventure!
When we left off, Emperor Ogbae had just sworn eternal vengeance against the Byzantine Empire, who had managed to grab the Duchy of Tripoli. He's working on rockets, apparently.
I just need a bit of time to build up my forces and treasury, and we'll see ...
...or not. Who is Negus and why is he mad at me? Wait! I need context for this assassination!
Well, crap. Emperor Ogbae died as he lived, surrounded by constant violence. Long live Empress Zauditu!
Unfortunately Empress Zauditu is nine years old. She and her sister Misrak are Ogbae's only children. At least this resolves my potential succession problem -- now that I've got direct control of Empress Zauditu, there's no worry about her getting an unsuitable husband. Of course, first we have to live through the regency.
Predictably, half the dukes in Israel are plotting against the young Empress.
Empress Zauditu's rival, the Basilissa (another great title!) of the Byzantine Empire, is also quite young. Now I want a story about the two of them growing up being friends and then becoming rivals...
Isn't that the guy who had granddad murdered? I'm going to go with let's not trust him.
Before too long the inevitable revolt breaks out. Seriously, these things are like clockwork.
What a mess. Once again, it's hard not because it's a particularly bad revolt, but because with a child-Empress my power is weak.
FIST FIIIIGHT! Seble clearly doesn't remember what happened to Prince Jima.
Again with these assholes. I'm having deja vu.
In a shocking bit of good sense, the rebels immediately offer peace. Since I'm underage and won't get to strip their titles anyway, I accept. Let's get those Christians!
I'm just gonna ... not tell my doctor. I'm sure it's fine.
This is probably fine too, and not ominous foreshadowing at all.
Pope War V: The Pope Strikes Back does not go particularly well for the Christians. With the rebels on my side, I'm able to meet them at the beaches and throw them back. Again.
Ooh. It's really tempting to go for the battle-hardened lesbian Jewish Empress of Israel here. But I do need her to breed.
Empress Zauditu, at the very least, swings both ways.
Hakeem is your cousin, Zauditu. Although that probably doesn't matter, does it.
At least she's not spending all her time thinking about sex.
And she's gotten over her teenage angst! Ahead of the curve, that girl.
Empress Zauditu is coming out okay, stats-wise.
Her younger sister Misrak is actually somewhat better, which is nice since she's heir until Zauditu has kids.
Hurrah! Our first Empress takes power.
Her education turned out very well, making her an awesome fighter. She could have a bit more stewardship, though. But we can get some of that from a husband!
I would very much like to marry Mael the Wise, who has the hereditary Genius trait. Unfortunately he's sworn to a life of celibacy. What a waste. Instead, I pick a mayor who knows his way around the treasury.
Empress Zauditu still has her father's long-term goal of taking on the Byzantines, but I need to build up my forces first. I decide on a quick "starter war" with what's left of the Turkic Company.
King Jacques the Monster of Galicia wants to sign a treaty. Maybe he's like, a monstrously good king? No, he's just insane. But why not!
King Dawit the Seducer puts the moves on me. But I'm not falling for it. When your nickname is "the Seducer" it must make playing innocent sort of tough.
My younger sister Misrak comes of age, but isn't all that great after all. She tries to assassinate Empress Zauditu, but I convince her to stop.
Succession is looking good. I keep an eye on the girls to get them into safe marriages.
I'm just about ready for war with the Byzantines, but some adventurer is coming to mess with me, so I decide to deal with him first.
King Jacques the Monster offers a formal alliance. How did he get my number, anyway?
I raise my forces, ready for the adventurer's army to arrive. Some peasants pick the absolute worst time (for them) to rebel.
The adventurers only have enough ships to get dropped off 8,000 at a time, where they're promptly slaughtered.
My steward is ... randomly giving me gold?
Oh, now I see her game. Crafty. But I think the price for Jerusalem is a bit higher.
Someone has criticized me! Zauditu ANGRY!
Our bold adventurer ends up in prison. Throw him in the rebel cell/pile of skeletons!
Time to get serious. We'd ultimately like to take the Bishopric of Ganjnameh, the fifth and final Jewish holy site, but we're going to have to work our way there.
First I declare Holy War for Kermanshah on the still-underage Empress. At least with the Byzantines, I don't have to worry about other countries coming to help them. And King Jacques the Monster is willing to pitch in!
Friendly troops gather to repel the expected Byzantine attack in Israel, while another army heads over to Kermanshah to lay siege.
Finally. I was beginning to wonder if that mayor was too into his ledgers.
At least they're in love, while the war rages on.
Nine months later, we have a daughter! Our second Empress, if all goes well.
The war turns out pretty well. Last time, the Byzantines zerg-rushed me, but this time they arrived slowly and got crushed piecemeal. Fighting in difficult terrain helped, too. Victory!
Basilissa Agathe turned out to be a so-so fighter but her intrigue is monstrous. This is somewhat inconvenient, because I now have a ten-year truce with her, and the easiest way to get around that is to have her killed.
Empress Zauditu, unfortunately, is ... not much for scheming. So that's probably not on.
At least the Mongols are still far off.
*Jaws theme plays*
This again. But hardly anything comes of it. The Shia kingdoms have been pretty badly battered between the Byzantines on one side and the Hindus on the other.
That's not flattering, that's creepy. The other Emperors didn't have to put up with the shit.
I actually fight the jihad all the way to the finish, since it's so weak, thus assuring the moral ascendancy of Judaism.
Opportunity presents itself! There's a revolt against the Byzantines, which conveniently controls the region I want. I'm still at peace with the Empress, but not with the revolt faction, so I can declare a quick holy war. The downside is if the revolt wins or loses before my war ends, my war is canceled and I get nothing. So it's a race!
A race which I win handily by spending lives like they're going out of style, reckless assaulting all available fortifications. What's a few thousand soldiers between friends?
A random woman turns up at my court wanting to be spymaster. She's pretty good at it, and she likes me, so why not?
I discover, unexpectedly, that I now own territory in the Byzantine mainland. As best I can figure it out, these counties also belonged to the guy I just beat, so I got them as kind of a bonus.
All five Jewish holy sites are secure! We're not done with the Byzantines yet, though.
King Dawit the Seducer is plotting against me. Unsurprisingly, though, he's easy to blackmail.
These guys never learn. I mean, it's called the Tenth uprising for a reason...
*Jaws theme gets louder*
That's ... a lot of guys. Also, one of his vassals is Varzakk Calmandana, Chief of Tsagaannuur. And people accuse fantasy authors of strange names.
Oh, no, I'm not falling for that one. I remember what happened to (pause to check) my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather back in Part Two! No nuns-who-are-Death-incarnate for me, please.
Having evaded the killer nun/Death, things are going pretty well. Even my vassals are mostly not plotting against me! Now that the truce has expired, I launch another attack against the Byzantines, who are still weak from the just-ended rebellion.
Meanwhile, there's another problem to deal with. After more than a decade, Empress Zauditu has only one child. Clearly Mayor Benaim is not up to snuff. I decide to start encouraging all the other mayors who always seem to be hanging around.
It's not heart problems, it's just lust!
Or consumption. Could be consumption.
Good work, doc.
If I'm going for sin, no sense in restraining myself.
Well, that worked. Fortunately Benaim is very gullible.
"He's got your eyes! Well. Someone's eyes."
With two children to maintain the succession, I turn my attention from family to rulership.
This time the Byzantines barely show up to the war. You guys are no fun.
I guess they are also at war with Italy and Aragon.
This is like the TV playing in the background of the disaster movie as the protagonist gets ready for work.
*da dum da dum da dum da dum*
Another chunk of Byzantine territory falls!
Unfortunately, I'm now extremely threatening.
I kind of want to grab those little bits of Muslim territory, but if I try literally everyone will go to war with me.
Yet another mayor offers to teach my daughter how to fight! Sounds good.
Princess China is actually turning out quite nicely.
Random Byzantine count who I conquered has apparently usurped some territory up at the top of the Black Sea?
A fitting end for Duke Zula the Careless.
Another Byzantine revolt breaks out. Since the revolt faction isn't a member of the grand alliance against me, I take the chance to grab another couple of counties.
I, uh, may have mis-clicked and made the King of Nubia my court jester. Also, the new "pope" is a dwarf so I made him court dwarf.
Wait, you were supposed to be forging a claim on his title, not making friends! God damn it.
Still picking away at the Byzantines. The Mongols are fighting the Rashtrakutas, in the east.
King Kafa is plotting against me. I guess he didn't like his cap and bells.
Princess China comes of age, not as martial as her mother but quite a bit wiser, though just as poor at scheming. Time to find her a husband, ideally one with high stewardship.
The Jews of the realm are somewhat lacking in that regard.
I go searching abroad. No likely candidates are willing to agree to a matrilineal marriage. However, a few good ones, like Zakkai of Ramnic, are willing to come visit my court!
Yeah, turns out? Once you're at the Empress' court, you don't get a choice about whether to say yes to her marriage proposal anymore. Mazel tov!
With virtually the entire world ready to ally against me, I wisely decide to try to go for five years of peace.
Shortly thereafter, the Rashtrakutas fall to the Mongols, and Genghis Khan declares war on the Byzantines, the only thing separating him from my territory. Time to start preparing for a confrontation with the horde ...
Oh, FFS, you guys!
Current Year: 1236 AD. Current Status: Standing Alone Against The Coming Darkness.