New Basileus Methodios is finally an adult, and is ready to start racking up the piety in order to mend the Great Schism. Are you ready for some humble prostration before the Lord?!
Step one: Theology focus, hoping for some good events.
Step two: Continue trying to convert Jerusalem to trigger the formation of my holy order.
My high-stewardship wife is a Catholic, but fortunately she’s willing to convert. Why her title is “Khatun” I don’t understand, though.
Methodios is very down on the heathens.
Huh. I guess we can add “God” to the “medieval stress relief” list alongside dogs, murder, and cheating on your wife.
Must … become … pious …
Step three in my piety plan is to win holy wars against heathens. Fighting someone named “King Vukasin the Monster” seems like a good place to start.
“Hey, guys, have you ever actually read this thing?”
The Muslims have gotten the jihad ball rolling, but fortunately not in my direction.
“I mug the monk and take all his piety!”
Aha! The holy city is holy again!
This, in turn, triggers the formation of the only Orthodox Holy Order, the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre. They’ll join my team for future holy wars, but that’s not the most important reason I’m happy to see them.
Speaking of holy wars, this one turns out well, and I grab two counties of coastal Serbia. Granting the temples to fresh bishops gives me MOAR PIETY.
And I now have a better claim to Serbia than its former “king” does!
Slowly but surely, I’m subduing the Balkans.
Here’s the real reason I’m happy to see the Holy Sepulchre. Donating money to them grants me piety on a one-for-one basis, which is a far better return on investment than anything else I can do. And it’s repeatable, immediately.
So, basically, being rich equals being pious, now. And I’m very rich.
Oh, yeah. I am pious as balls.
With the world convinced of how god-damned holy I am due to dropping a wagon full of gold on the doorstep of the Holy Sepulchre, it’s time to mend the Great Schism! We’ve got plenty of moral authority and I still control all five sites of the Pentarchy.
Sorry, Your Holiness. That’s check and mate.
Much of the Christian world immediately converts to Orthodoxy, Catholic moral authority is shattered, their holy orders disappear and there’s no longer any danger of being targeted by a crusade. That means this will be my first playthrough without having the Pope come after me!
Methodios is now known as “the Saint” for his holiness. With piety accomplished, I switch him back to family focus to try and add some more children.
Not that I’m done with holy war! There’s still land to take in the Balkans.
Time to look toward my next goal, which is proclaiming myself true Roman Emperor, heir to Caesar and Constantine. Taking Lombardy has brought me a long way toward that goal, but we’re not there yet. I still need Venice and the rest of Croatia, which are controlled by small Christian nations and should be easy enough. But parts of Antioch and Alexandria are still in Muslim hands, as is the entire Duchy of Tunis. That’s going to be a little harder.
I’m going to try and get this done in Methodios’ lifetime, though, because he already has the 3,000 prestige needed. Prestige is easier to get than piety, but it’d still be convenient.
One holy war down, anyway.
My brother has decided he would like to have my daughter killed, which is actually kind of convenient because I wanted his county back anyway.
Perfect! Have fun in prison, bro. That’s what you get for messing with my kids and also having land I want.
The empire is growing nicely, especially in the far east where my vassals are pushing out the frontiers against the heathens of the Caucasus.
I set my chancellor to forging a claim on Venice, while some of my vassals continue the fighting in the Balkans. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Tunis is conveniently held by the Talalids, who are relatively weak. However, they have an alliance with the Muradids, who are extremely strong.
The best way to cause trouble there is to assassinate the Muradid Caliph, so I start trying that. No shortage of eager helpers in his court.
This works poorly. Not only does he refuse to be assassinated, the Muradid Caliph quickly takes over Tunis. So we’re going to have to fight him one way or the other.
And, to make my job even more fun, there’s a plague coming! I’m not sure why Methodios thinks he predicted it though.
A Muradid revolt breaks out, and I decide to use the opportunity to grab the county of Archa, which is the last piece of Antioch I need. Hopefully between the plague and the revolution they’ll be too busy to fight back.
And, as an added bonus, I get a shot at the Caliph! Come on, viper, I believe in you!
Nice. Anything that sows confusion in the ranks of my enemies.
Because he’s paranoid, Methodios is convinced that the plague is here for him personally.
Honestly, judging by its trajectory, he may not be wrong.
My war-plan is a success, though! Soon after I seize my target, plague sweeps through the region, killing everyone and making it impossible to keep armies in the field. So I continue to hold Archa by default as the warscore ticks up.
Methodios wisely decides to seal himself in the palace to keep the plague away.
Probably a good plan, to be honest.
Get me some adorable fluffy cats! For … um, examinations.
I asked about the plague, and Strategos Fluffykins says he didn’t do it.
I declare her official cuddlebug of the Empire!
Poor Belisarios’ love is unrequited and he has to settle for being “friends”.
Okay, seriously guys. Cats are not the problem.
Enough with the cats! I am the god-damned Emperor around here, and I say Boots is Grand High Patriarch!
Food is running low, though. High Patriarch Boots, bring me back some rats or something!
Who’s a good kitty?
The new Caliph, who is eleven, finally gives up the fight since basically everyone is dead anyway.
Oh, so hiding in my palace while the people suffer and die makes me a coward, is that it?
Good times, good times.
While most of Europe is still pretty plagued, Anatolia is recovering, and I cautiously emerge. Everyone is mad at me for some reason.
Hmm, promising you say?
Holy crap! I make him chancellor and send him to forge a claim on Venice, which he accomplishes immediately.
I’m still threatening enough that attacking Venice is going to piss off the rest of Christendom. However a) most of them have the plague, and b) Venice is a single-county realm so it should be easy to storm.
As predicted, it’s a short war.
Getting there! Venice and Antioch are off the shopping list. That leaves Alexandria, Croatia, and Tunis.
Croatia’s going to be annoying, since it’s held by three different people.
One of them is a single-county realm, though, so in spite of high threat I can rush it down like I did Venice, before any allies get involved.
Taking Tunis, meanwhile, means fighting the Muradids, who I still have a truce with. The easiest way around that is to kill off the Caliph. That’s an expensive poisoning, but it’s good to be the Byzantines, who are basically the Lannisters of medieval Europe.
I have to assume we poisoned him with pure gold.
With bureaucratic niceties out of the way, the holy war can begin! Fleets and armies from across the empire converge on Tunis.
The first Muradid counter-attack gets bushwhacked by a peasant rebellion army on the way over. That’s just embarrassing, guys.
I get my score to 99% without any Muradids actually coming out to fight.
The Caliph isn’t required to surrender at that point, but he does anyway. I’m getting the feeling the Arabian Empire is kind of a paper tiger here.
See this is how you crush a peasant revolt. It’s all in the wrist.
I choose my new rulers from dynasty members who don’t already have land and have the highest opinion of me. Since Methodios is attractive, this tends to mean the gay ones.
Prince Sabas is ready to be introduced to the realm! He’s turning out okay so far.
Since I need to take more territory off the Muradids, that means killing off yet another Caliph. I’m really thinning the herd here.
Unfortunately my threat is getting ridiculous. The Muradids are big enough that they only join the defensive pact at the highest levels, but we’re getting there.
Man, you’d think the Caliphs would invest in some anti-snake defenses. Mongeese or something.
In fact, it’s possible I could wipe the Muradids out completely. There are only four male dynasts left. I’ll give it a shot, on the theory that if they fall the empire might splinter and make things easy for me.
The chief of Hum, in the Balkans, is inexplicably not part of the grand coalition against me. I take the opportunity to jump on him.
Chalk up another Caliph. I’m not sure anyone in the empire believes the story about “bandits” at this point.
At last we have triumphed over the Humians! Next stop, the Isle of Man.
Hooray for health-dogs!
Hmm, last time this happened they worked it out and became the best of friends.
Not this time. That cat chases the dog somewhere and presumably devours it, since we can’t find any trace.
Oh well. Cats, amirite?
But apparently my dog is still growing up … somewhere …
“The Emperor has the flu! I need 20 pounds of toad, stat!”
My heir has come of age and immediately gone bald. I secure him a wife who doesn’t mind.
Meanwhile, my vassal the Patriach has won a war against the remnants of Croatia, bringing them under my control! Someone is getting a Christmas bonus this year!
It’s down to just Alexandria. The Muradids have dropped out of the defensive pact, and they have two of the counties I need, so I go after them first.
This doesn’t take long. Now there’s only one county to go, owned by the Talalids. They are part of the grand alliance against me, but because the territory I need is so small, I should be able to rush them before anyone else intervenes.
The prince has rabies?
Did he find my dog?
What about the dog, damn you? What do you know?!
Well, shit. At least I foresightfully got Sybilla a safe matrilineal marriage to guard against this possibility.
Anyway, back to the Talalids! It’s me vs. literally everyone, but literally everyone is a long way away.
As expected, the province falls long before the combined armies of the world can intervene.
There we go! That’s the lot.
At 44, Methodios is now “the Glorious” and bears the ancient title Augustus. Not a bad run at all.
But we’re not finished yet, by a long shot. After all, the Roman Empire used to be much larger than this …
Current Year: 986 AD.
Current Status: Veni, Vidi, Vici.