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The Golden Ram, the Broken Fire, and the Temples of Vengeance: A CKII LP


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There was Persia. Then there was Rome. And, for a thousand years, they held each other by the throat. Wars were waged from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, blood soaked deep from Arabia to Anatolia. They were the sum of civilization, the two sharp horns of empire, and their rivalry never broke.


Then came Islam. Rome, already a wraith, was broken, never to recover. Persia was devoured.


It is January 1st, 769. Persia stirs within the belly.




This is not the first time Persia has fallen.


The first Persia was the Achaemenid. This is the empire that fought the Greeks, that broke Egypt, that built Persepolis, and that fell to Alexander.


The second Persia was the Parthian. This is the empire snatched back from Alexander's successors, the empire of horse archer tribes, that fought the Roman republic and the empire, and that fell to its own subjects.


The third Persia was the Sasanian. This is the empire that saw the rise of Christianity and reformed and codified Zorastrianism in response, the empire that personally destroyed two Roman emperors, that laid waste to the Levant and was laid waste to in return, that was emptied by plague, and that fell to the first and greatest Caliphs.


There may yet be a fourth.




In the third Persia, there were seven great Parthian houses that struggled against each other and the shahanshah for power. They have been destroyed, except for one - The Karen live on, in the bodies of two men, small and distant subjects of the Abbasid Caliph. They have been lords since the second Persia, and one is a lord still, if only just. The Sheikh Vandad Hormozd Karen, lord of Dihistan and Gurgan, carries with him the seeds of Persia's rebirth. But will they take root?



The world, as we know it.



The Sheikh himself, and his holdings.




I hope you guys remember the last one. Poor old Emir Hasan, lost to the vagaries of digital storage. It's the same general setup - this is going to be in-character, after this intro, and audience input is encouraged. We're starting in almost the same place as last time, but there's been a few changes to CKII since then - most notably, the Charlemagne expansion moved the start date back almost a hundred years. Just as a note, I am running a few mods, but only one should really be visible or effect gameplay. The Better Gender Laws mod unlocks a few in-game options for succession laws and female rulers or council members, so we could eventually play as an especially enlightened feudal monarch, if we so wished. I hope you enjoy reading. :)

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Chapter 1: A Marriage of Hungers


It is January 1st, 769. I'm getting married!



Zohreh possesses a keen ability for management.


The Depaid are only barely a noble house, and Zohreh is singularly unpleasant to be around, but neither of us are in this for love or fame. We're in it for the power.


Perhaps I should start at the beginning.


I am Vandad Hormozd, son of Karen, son of Vandad, son of Balash, son of Alanda, son of Karen, son of Sukhra, son of Zarmihr, son of Alanda, son of Sukhra, son of Balash, son of Zarmihr, son of Karen, who founded the house of Karen.



My family line is too long to fit on one page.


. . . However, Karen Karen was the son of Perozamat Karen-Pahlav, son of Vehsachan, son of Erdewan, son of Perozamat, son of Erdewan, son of Karen, who founded House Karen-Pahlav.



No, we aren't done yet.


. . . However, Karen Karen-Pahlav was the son of Erdewan Arsacid, son of Balaxš, son of Vonon, son of Phraates, son of Orodes, son of Phraates, son of Sanatruces, who was the first of my ancestors to rule Persia, being asked to rule after the death of Mithridates the Great in 88 BCE. Of course, we were kings among the Parthians before even then, but I don't wish to bore you.



Alas, the pictured tree only goes back to Vonon.


The Karen have waxed and waned over the last nine hundred years, but we have always been lords. In fact, the Karen are the oldest surviving noble house in the known world, however low our ebb may be at the moment. And that lineage won't be ending with me, thanks to today. Today is the key to a great many things. I'm going to kill my liege.


Right, right, start at the beginning.



Pictured: a lazy, cowardly fool who at least knows his place.


This is my master, Emir Sorkhab Bavandid. One of the last remnants of the house of Sasan, who drove Persia into ruin. He serves the Caliph, his emirate a consolation for the empire his forefathers lost. Sorkhab is an idle coward that fancies himself a warrior. Sorkhab grovels at his master's feet and contents himself with fantasies rather than fight to restore his birthright. The house of Sasan long ago lost its power, and Sorkhab could never be the one to restore it.


I hate him. I am going to finally destroy his cursed bloodline, the bloodline that let Persia fall. I am going to take everything he has. It begins the moment Zohreh and I sign the marriage contract.



Now, I can devote myself entirely to my plotting.


You see, the Emir's family has withered significantly under the heel of the Abbasid. The Bavandid are almost as reduced as the Karen. The Emir has only one son, and only one grandson, and there ends the line of succession. His titles will fall to his vassals, and I am the foremost among them. Additionally, I will have the privilege of finally ending his blighted house, and so scatter the last ashes of the Sasanian Empire, which held the Karen in servitude for so long. Vengeance will be sweet.

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The Arabs may have conquered you from without, but you shall conquer them and their servants from within, you who would be satrap. Tell me, what of your current master's other vassals? Are there any whom you believe will aid you in your mission? And what of your own vassals? Though if they are not willing to aid their own liege lord in this, perhaps more pliable vassals could be found.


And what of your brother? If you die without issue, not an unlikely event should your liege discover your plotting, would he be capable of ruling in your stead? Best to plan for the worst, and ensure that he is married and siring children of his own, lest your line die out.

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You are wise to ask these questions, Dintiradan, but they will not bear fruit. My master has only two other vassals, each weaker than I, and neither inclined to help. One, the Sheikh of Dailam, is his own son:



An unworthy fool. He cares nothing for justice, or work of any kind, spending his days surrounded by women and food.


While the other, the Sheikh of Gilan, favors the emir far more than myself:



He is a snake, bowing and scraping, but always biding his time, always testing for any threat to his own power.


As for my brother. . .



An indulgent wastrel, who loves the squandering of coin over anything else. He at least has no drive that would put him in my way.


He is old, and unmarried, and unfit for rule. One half of the Karen will have to be enough.

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