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Imperium Angelicorum: A Post Apocalyptic Tale


Ave, True to Caesar!
Jun 15, 2013
Prologue: The End of the World

In the waning days of the information era, four huge empires have divided the world following the collapse of the One World Government (OWG). In the Anglo-Sphere, a highly corporatist and corrupt United States has ascended, ready to reclaim its lost hegemony over the earth. In Europe, the Russian Federation has successfully conquered the mainland and stretches from the Atlantic to the depths of Siberia, forming the Imperium of Europa. Revolution has swept through asia, and under the banner of the Reformed Chinese Communist Party has succeeded in forming the Pan-Asian People's Union, uniting the communist regimes of Asia under a common banner. Most stunning of all, however, is the rise of the Great Southern Empire, Formally known as the Imperial Federation.

Formed initially by a personal union between the Empire of Brazil and the Kingdom of Egypt during their rebellion against the OWG in the early 2030's, it gradually came to include all of Africa, South America, India, and the Near East. Africa and South America joined voluntarily, in order to safeguard their autonomy from the ambitions of the America, Europa, and Asia. The Near East and India would soon join as well, following the conquest of Turkey and Bengal by Europa and Asia respectively. Over the following decades, due in large part to the efforts of the mysterious Empress of Brazil (known popularly by her epithet: the Lady), a common military was formed and the power of the central government greatly increased. By 2055, the constituent states of the Empire had been reduced to little more than autonomous provinces. Tensions were high, and talk of rebellion became commonplace.

In 2057, the Lady Struck first. The Imperial Army quickly seized control of the major cities and carved up the constituent states of the federation into various kingdoms, which would be given to high ranking generals who had sworn fealty to the Lady and the House of Braganza. Catholicism was established as the state religion, all major corporations were nationalized by the State, and hereditary monarchy was mandated all throughout the Federation. The Imperial Court was moved to Cairo, with the summer palace remaining in Rio de Janiero. Guerilla warfare in the countryside and rioting in the cities would persist for the next few years, but the Imperial Army would manage to expand and restore order. Her Imperial Majesty Isabel 'the Lady' of Braganza, by the Grace of God, Empress of the Imperial Federation, Empress of Brazil, and Queen of Egypt, had won.

The Borders of the Imperial Federation in 2057:

Following her triumph in the Civil War, the Lady would fully implement the new legal structure of the Empire and set the borders of the different vassal kings under her. Eager to reclaim Algeria and Turkey, and to liberate the Pope from foreign rule, her vassals asked for war to be declared on Europa. The Lady accepted eagerly. In 2061 troops quickly crossed the border and seized Algeria. By 2064 Istanbul was taken and renamed to Constantinople once more. 2064-2068 saw a successful push north and the conquest of the Ukraine and Moscow. With the Capital taken, Europa quickly began to crumple. Berlin and Rome were both conquered by 2072, Paris by 2074, St. Petersburg by 2076, and by 2079 all of Europa west of the Urals was firmly in the hands of the Imperial Federation. Peace was signed with what remained of the Imperium of Europa, now known as the Kingdom of Siberia: The government was reformed to match that of the Imperial Federation, Catholicism became the state religion, and Siberia was guaranteed protection in the event of an Asian invasion. It made an excellent bufferstate.

In 2080 a new Pope was elected, Pope Boniface X, who would convene and ratify the Third Vatican Council. Traditionalists had been growing steadily within the Church and by the 2050's had become dominant in the hierarchy. The Council would largely focus on internal reform to return the Church to how it had been prior to the Second Vatican Council: Latin was the exclusive language of the Roman Rite of Mass again, the Index Librorum Prohibitum was revived, and the Code of Canon Law was reverted, with a few changes, to the 1917 Code of Canon Law. The most controversial decision of the Council was what to do with the documents of the Second Vatican Council. While Vatican II had not invoked conciliar infallibility, it was nevertheless an Ecumenical Council of the Church and had to be treated with care. Eventually, with a vote of 2378 bishops in favor, 2335 bishops against, and 73 bishops abstaining, it was decided that the documents of Vatican II would be given formal interpretations and clarifications in-line with the traditional teaching of the Church, rather than rejected and annulled completely.

To conclude, the Council promulgated a series of anathemas against what it called "the errors of the modern world, which still reign in this most unfortunate age". This lead to the denunciation of the Church and Catholics in general by much of the world, though many of the faithful received the Council with joy.

Depiction of the Third Vatican Council while it was in session:

In 2087, after recouping from the losses incurred during the invasion of Europe, the Imperial Federation invaded the Pan-Asian People's Union. Bengal was seized the same year, and Yunnan came next in 2090 following grueling fighting and a nuclear exchange between the two powers. By 2093 all of the mainland south of Manchuria was conquered, with tactical nukes and paratroopers being prepared to deal with Sumatra, Japan, and the Philippines. In 2098, following more nuclear exchanges, Kyushu was seized and the rest of Japan was set to follow. At the same time, the Imperial Army continued to push into Siberia. The following year would see all the mainland won, and the Kingdom of Siberia's existence rendered obsolete. The remains of Europa were gone by 2102, and victory over Asia was attained at last in 2108, during the last year of the Lady's reign. Dying at the age of 83, she passed the throne without issue to her grandson, Pedro III.

Scientists informed Emperor Pedro that continued use of nuclear weapons in the Federation's conquests would lead to an ecological collapse of apocalyptic proportions, but he paid them no mind. He was busy making plans to move his capital to Rome, and to be crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor in three centuries by the Pope. Alongside these plans, Pedro took a complete census of the Empire and formally organized the conquests of the past few decades into various kingdoms with defined internal borders. At the same time, the Imperial Army began expanding in preparation for war with the United States in the coming decades.

In 2119, after 11 years of preparation, the Imperial Capital was moved to the Eternal City and the Imperial Federation was reorganized into the Holy Roman Empire. At the same time, on the Feast of the Assumption, Pope Pius XIV crowned Pedro III as the Holy Roman Emperor. His formal title was now: "His Imperial Majesty, Pedro III of Braganza, By the Grace of God, Most August and Holy Emperor of the Romans, Emperor of Brazil, King of Egypt, Protector of the Apostolic See, and Defender of the Faith". The following day, the Pope called a crusade to "liberate" faithful Catholics under American rule, and the Emperor answered his call. By January of the following year, Mexico City and London had fallen. Nukes destroyed large swathes of Southern England and Cuba within the first year of the conflict alone, and more carnage was to come.

In 2121, a mere year and a half after moving the capital to Rome, the nuclear power plants of Cairo suffered a meltdown, irradiating and killing countless citizens. The worst loss was the destruction of the old Imperial Palace. American sabotage was suspected, but never proven.

Despite the "Disaster on the Nile" as it came to be called, Imperial forces continued their march with full haste. The rest of the British Isles would fall in 2122, and Texas shortly after in 2123. Nuclear weapons assisted the conquest of the latter, with a significant amount of American troops lost as a result.

Next came Havana and the Caribbean in 2124, followed by Atlanta in 2128.

The elderly Pope protested the continued use of nuclear weapons, on the grounds that they killed without any regard for civilians and, more importantly, for Catholics. They were entirely indiscriminate, and in violation to the Church's teaching on what constituted moral conduct during a Just War. The Emperor responded with a single phrase: "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius!" Despite this provocative response, no nuclear weapons would be used for the next few years as the war in America continued. Most notable was the fall of Washington in 2131, along with the fall of Chicago, Toronto, and Denver in 2133. Fearful that the war was truly lost, the United States government fled to Melbourne in Australia. This was the most logical choice, as though the Empire had a strong fleet of attack submarines, it relied on paratroopers rather than troop transports when it came to island invasions. Australia would be safe, for the time being.

Then came the American last stand in Ireland in 2134, the result of which would be the complete irradiation of the island following a nuclear bombardment. This atrocity was an act of direct disobedience against the Pope, which would severely worsen relations with the Church for years to come.

Los Angeles would share the same fate the following year, in 2135.

California would fall three years later, and by 2141 all that remained on the mainland was Alaska.

All of North America was under Imperial rule by 2144, and the blockade of Australia was strengthened in preparation for an invasion once enough transports were built.

The invasion would never come, however, as America surrendered in 2147. Darwin was ceded to the Empire, and what was left of the United States submitted to the Emperor as an autonomous Imperial Protectorate. Pedro III adopted the epithet "Hominicus" (meaning, "Conqueror of the Humans") and would pass away peacefully in his sleep the same year, at the age of 72. His son, Manuel Hominicus of Braganza, was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Paul VII soon after. Preparations began immediately to mass in Darwin and invade Australia with extreme force when it was deemed expedient. Regardless of their submission to the Empire, Manuel was determined to put an end to the "great masonic whore of Babylon", as he described it. This determination (and obsession) was so strong that he inscribed "America Delenda Est" on his personal coat of arms.

Ten years would pass while preparations were made, in spite of unrest that was building at home among the conquered peoples. Then, at last, on Christmas Day in the year of Our Lord 2158, war was declared. Honolulu was quickly taken in a sneak attack. At the same time Imperial Troops were storming the islands of Hawaii, the Emperor, determined to destroy America, ordered the launch of the Nuclear Arsenal.

The earth, already straining under the weight of the past century of off and on nuclear war (especially in the immediate decades preceding 2158), could handle no more. Fallout engulfed the atmosphere and spread all around the world, carried by the four winds. EMP bursts from the bombs, especially the intercepted, high powered ICBMs which exploded higher in the atmosphere, took out the satellites around the Earth along with any unprotected electronics on the surface. This coincided with an unexpected solar flare and volcanic eruptions around the world, which added to the damage. With famine setting in, scalding summers, frigid winters, complete loss of the Internet, and most of the military campaigning in Australia, the Empire began to crumble.

All around the Empire the disgruntled serfs were rising up, attempting to seize whatever they could from the estates of the wealthy, in order to delay death by a few more weeks. Rio de Janeiro was even seized by Communist revolutionaries. And, unsurprisingly, with the complex web of modernity having been suddenly cut in twain, it was not long before Rome itself was stormed. Pope Pius XV declared, in the Papal Bull In Fine, that the Emperor was henceforth deposed for his sins:

"'In the End, my Immaculate Heart will Triumph.'

Thus spoke Our Lady at Fatima, as a message of consolation in the midst of present ruin, and still greater ruin to come.

Moreover, He that reigneth on high, to whom is given all power in heaven and earth, has committed one holy Catholic and apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, to one alone upon earth, namely to Peter, the first of the apostles, and to Peter’s successor, the pope of Rome, to be by him governed in fullness of power. Him alone He has made ruler over all peoples and kingdoms, to pull up, destroy, scatter, disperse, plant and build, so that he may preserve His faithful people (knit together with the girdle of charity) in the unity of the Spirit and present them safe and spotless to their Saviour.

In obedience to which duty, we (who by God’s goodness are called to the aforesaid government of the Church) spare no pains and labour with all our might that unity and the Catholic religion (which their Author, for the trial of His children’s faith and our correction, has suffered to be afflicted with such great troubles) may be preserved entire. But the number of the ungodly has so much grown in power that there is no place left in the world which they have not tried to corrupt with their most wicked schism; and among others, Manuel, the dissolute Emperor of the Romans and the servant of crime, has assisted in this, with whom as in a sanctuary the most pernicious of all have found refuge. This very man, having attacked an Imperial Subject and monstrously disobeyed the prior decrees of the Supreme Pontiffs regarding the use of unjust weapons, has reduced the World- which had already been restored to the Catholic faith and to good fruits- to a miserable ruin.

Therefore, resting upon the authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us (though unequal to such a burden) upon this supreme justice-seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare the foresaid Manuel to be a schismatic and favourer of schismatics, and his adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.

And moreover, we declare him to be deprived of his pretended title to the Empire of the Romans, and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever.

And also declare the nobles, subjects and people of the said realm and all others who have in any way sworn oaths to him, to be forever absolved from such an oath and from any duty arising from lordship. fealty and obedience; and we do, by authority of these presents , so absolve them and so deprive the same Manuel of his pretended title to the crown and all other the above said matters. We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others aforesaid that they do not dare obey his orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication.

Given at St. Peter’s at Rome, on the 15th of March; in the fifth year of our pontificate.

Pius PP."

Soon after In Fine was promulgated, the Pope lead the people of Rome against the Emperor and he was forced to flee the city. His stealth plane took off with a handful of advisors and members of the Imperial Court, desperately sending out messages to any province of the Empire that still remained loyal to let them land. Only one city returned his reply: Arkhangelsk in what was once Russia. There the Emperor fled, and attempted to preserve what little he could of the Empire. No future Emperors would ever be named Manuel again, out of shame for the man who had lost the world. Many provinces fell so completely, that society was returned practically to square one over the next century. A few refuges remained as remnants. Very, very few.

Meanwhile, as the Empire fell between 2158 and 2165, the Imperial Forces in Australia continued their march. They would
successfully conquer what little remained of the United States by the end of 2165. The Army tried in vain to keep order over the irradiated islands for the Empire.

But, by then, the world had already ended.

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Chapter I: An Ashen Eagle

As the ISJ (Imperial Stealth Jet) Caesar I set down in Arkhangelsk, the whole Imperial Court breathes a sigh of relief. The weather is frigid, and the city has seen better days, but it certainly beats being executed at the hands of angry serfs. As the Most August and Holy Emperor of the Romans, Manuel of Braganza, exits his personal jet, he is greeted by his loyal subject King Vasily IV of Karelia. Even in his old age, Vasily is a great bear of a man, with an even greater beard. More importantly, he is the only Russian Orthodox noble left in the Empire; a special privilege his dynasty that had been granted by the Lady for assisting Imperial Forces in taking the city of Arkhangelsk. As such, he is the only vassal Manuel has who doesn't give a damn about the Papal Decree which had deposed him. A disappointing show, to say the least; historically, plenty of Catholic princes were willing to disobey the Pope for temporal gain. Then again, the end of the world had made the nobility much more concerned about the state of their immortal souls than they usually were.

Greeting him, the King bellows out,

"How are you, my lord?"

Manuel rubs his hands together for a moment, shivering slightly in the cold.

"I'd have to say I've been better, old friend."

Vasily laughs heartily,

"True, but think of the headache you'd be having if those peasants had gotten a hold of you!"

Manuel contemplates for a moment what it would feel like to be torn limb from limb and beheaded by starving, bloodthirsty serfs, before promptly putting the thought out of his mind with a sour expression on his face.

"Never mind that, let's get out of this cold. We have a lot of work to do."

"Ah, this isn't so bad. For a Russian, it's practically lukewarm!"

Vasily's brow furrows,

"But, as you say, we have much to do and little time. Follow me, my lord."

* * * * *

Eight years had passed since the Emperor arrived in Arkhangelsk. Manuel and Vasily have managed to keep the power on, the people fed, and the modest garrison of the city relatively supplied, but the situation is getting desperate. While the roving bands of raiders and refugees have largely left the isolated, northern city alone, skirmishes were still a constant part of daily life. The oil reserves had run out a few years ago, and the coal reserves are diminishing at an unsustainable rate. Attempts had been made to construct a hydro-electric dam on the Dvina river, but what was left of the Empire simply lacked the resources to do so on the scale or timetable required. The city has a few years left, at most, until the power goes out and drastic measures would have to be taken.

While Manuel is mulling over reports and discussing with Vasily what possibilities remain to resolve the problem, an Imperial courier enters the room.

"Your Imperial Majesty," he bows to Manuel, "Your Royal Highness," he bows to Vasily, "A large force of tanks, gunships, and mechanized infantry have arrived at the main entrance of the city."

"Raiders?" Vasily asks

The courier shakes his head, "No, your highness. They are demanding that the nobility and clergy of the city come out to meet them and swear fealty to..."

"Yes?", Manuel inquires

He continues, "...to the Most August and Holy Emperor of the Romans, Robertus Hominicus Brigantiae."

Manuel exclaims, mouth agape, dumbfounded, "Roberto of Braganza... MY BROTHER?!?"

He stares blankly for a moment, before shouting out, "HE'S ALIVE?"

"I don't know, your Imperial Majesty. If they are telling the truth, then yes."

Vasily interjects, "We better go out and meet them, Manuel. To get to the bottom of this at the very least."

Manuel rises out of his chair, with a determined look on his face, "Agreed. Courier, tell the servants to prepare our armored train car. It's worth using the coal for this."

* * * * *

The first and second estates of Arkhangelsk assemble at the main entrance of the city, nervously eyeing the intense force sitting opposite them, a few thousand feet away. A small band of tanks, with banners mounted to them and fluttering in the wind, are heading towards the assembly. They stop a few hundred feet away, and an imposing figure steps out of the main tank along with a handful of other men. One of the men takes position on top of the tank, and announces through a loudspeaker:

"Omnes plene prosternere ordinatur, lege Dei et Imperio, ad Augustissimam et Sanctissimam Majestatem, Robertus Hominicus Brigantiae, Dei Gratia, Imperator et Caesar Romanorum, Imperator Brasiliae, Rex Aegypti, Rex Lombardiae, Rex Siciliae, Apostolicae Sedis Protector, Fidei Defensor, et Ultimae et Maximae spei Christianitatis!"

One of the Russian Orthodox priests standing next to Vasily leans over, and whispers, "Your Royal Highness, what did he just say."

Vasily whispers back, "He said: All are ordered, by the law of God and the Empire, to fully prostrate to His Most August and Most Holy Majesty, Robert 'the Conquerer of Humanity' of Braganza, By the Grace of God, Emperor and Caesar of the Romans, Emperor of Brazil, King of Egypt, King of Lombardy, King of Sicily, Protector of the Apostolic See, Defender of the Faith, and the Last and Greatest Hope of Christendom."

Manuel steps forward, and addresses his brother in their native tongue:

"Roberto? É realmente você?"

The man steps forward, garbed in tyrian purple with thick, black leather gloves, and responds to Manuel's query,

"Quomodo audes Augustissimis Imperatorem Romanorum in illa barbarica lingua alloqui, schismatici vilem!"

He stops three feet away from Manuel, sighs deeply, and then continues in Russian; a language all present understand,

"But, yes, it is truly I. I do believe all of you were commanded to fully prostrate to me and make complete obeisance. Bear in mind that with a flick of my wrist I can end all of your lives."

The assembled crowd of clerics and nobles shuffle for a few moments, before sheepishly prostrating on the cold ground; all save for Manuel, who steps forward to embrace his brother in a bear hug.

"Robert! I thought you were dead, butchered by the serfs of Par-"

Robert slaps him hard across the face with his left hand, before Manuel can embrace him.

"Your insolence knows no bounds. You, a blood-soaked schismatic, dare to embrace the Most Holy Emperor of the Romans?

Manuel clutches his cheek, his face growing dark, "No, I dare to embrace my brother, for whom I care deeply and have greatly missed," he thinks for a second before adding, "and I have never voluntarily left the communion of the Holy Catholic Church."

"Unfortunately for you, the Holy Father judged your disobedient use of nuclear weapons in spite of clear papal commands to be a schismatic act. And, after being formally declared a schismatic by the Pope, rather than stay in Rome to be justly executed for your sins in obedience to the Church like Savonarola of old, you instead fled to this forsaken patch of frigid earth.", Robert paused, taking off his gloves and handing them to one of his lieutenants, "But that is a matter of little consequence at the moment. I have come to seize command of this fief for the preservation of Christendom and the Empire."

Before Manuel could respond, Robert turns to his chief lieutenant and shouts loud enough for all to hear, "Legate, I want you to place all of these men under arrest. The Holy Father has instructed me to interrogate all of the nobility, before receiving their abjuration of schism and fealty if they should pass my inspection. Place them under guard in the Palace of Arkhangelsk. Gather all the clerics as well, and place them under guard in the Cathedral of St. Elias. Father-Inquisitor Frollius should arrive there shortly to handle the ecclesiastical side of things...," Robert pauses pensively for a moment, "As for the Arch-Schismatic, Manuel, I will handle him myself before heading to the Palace."

The legate bows, before saluting and saying, "Ave, True to Caesar! It will be done, Your Imperial Majesty"

Robert smiles slightly, "Very Good."

The crowd begins to murmur, but grows silent at the approach of Robert's troops. There is no other choice but to comply, or be fired upon; the consequences of which would be the possible destruction of the entirety of Arkhangelsk's religious and temporal rulers.

* * * * *

Manuel travels under guard to a makeshift camp around 40 miles away from Arkhangelsk. After arriving, he follows behind Robert at gunpoint, until they arrive at an extravagant tent with a large, double headed eagle engraved on a shield attached to the front. As they enter the Tent, Robert draws a bolter pistol and says to his men, "Leave us."

The men give a quick bow and salute, and respond, "Ave, True to Caesar.", before leaving. The two brothers are now alone.

"Take a seat, Manuel," Robert states coldly, "And, if you try anything stupid I'll splatter your brains all over my lovely tent."

Manuel, begrudgingly, takes a seat.

"We can't have that, can we? I'd hate to ruin your tent," Manuel smiles slightly, "I suppose you always have the Imperial Palace in Rome, right?"

Manuel pauses for a moment, before adding sarcastically, "Your Imperial Majesty."

Robert, ignoring Manuel's sarcasm, continues in a dry tone, "I am here to obtain your abjuration of schism, and formal recognition of your deposition by the Holy Father. Should you accept to provide this, then I will proceed to test your dogmatic and doctrinal orthodoxy. Should you pass, you will be received back into the Catholic Church and will spend the rest of your days doing penance in a monastery," Robert pauses, looking Manuel over intently, before continuing, "Refusal to recant and repent of your errors, or failure to be found orthodox in your belief, will result in your death by immolation."

Manuel's jaw drops in shock, "You're going to burn me at the stake? Such a punishment hasn't been enforced in Christendom since... the 18th Century, at most, and the 17th Century more realistically. It certainly isn't the punishment for schism under current Imperial Law."

Robert retorts back, "That is where you are mistaken. Death by Immolation was introduced into Imperial Law as the punishment for Schism, Heresy, Sodomy, Sacrilege, Apostasy, and Atheism on the 15th of August, 2166. I debated making it the punishment for Blasphemy as well, but decided removal of the tongue prior to death by disemboweling was more fitting..." Robert trails off, looking past Manuel and into the air behind him, before continuing, "But, in any case, that is dependent upon your co-operation and your orthodoxy."

Manuel responds, "Though I don't believe myself guilty of such a sin, I nevertheless recant and repent of my unintended separation from the Holy See. However," his brow furrows, "I do not recognize my supposed deposition. I am still the legitimate Emperor of the Romans."

Robert shakes his head, laughing slightly, "Tsk Tsk Tsk. Pope St. Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, '...si deviat terrena potestas, judicabitur a potestate spirituali...'; 'if the earthly power errs, it shall be judged by the spiritual power'. The Supreme Pontiff had every right to depose you, and give your title to another. Remember, also, the words of St. Jeremias as recorded in the Sacred Scriptures, who prophesying of the Church said: 'Ecce constitui te hodie super gentes et super regna, ut evellas, et destruas, et disperdas, et dissipes, et aedifices, et plantes.'; 'Behold, I have set thee this day over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root up, and pull down, and to waste, and to destroy, and to build, and to plant.'"

Manuel scowls, "You always did read too much theology for your own good. This is nonsense! If the Pope can depose kings and emperors whenever he thinks they've 'erred', then temporal authority is in perpetual danger," He shakes his head, "No, the Empire needs to stay as unified as possible to weather the current crisis. And the Pope has nearly lead to its dissolution!"

Robert stares at his brother, aghast, and makes the sign of the cross, "In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti...You are a heretic, concerned only with your own pride and temporal affairs. Need I remind you that there would not be a crisis if you had obeyed the Pope and chosen to refrain from using nuclear weapons", Robert shakes his head, baffled, "That, is why you were deposed. And why I have been raised to the purple. You have almost destroyed all of Christendom. I have successfully gathered a modest army, traveled to Rome, ensured the Pope's rule over Rome and the old Papal States. More over, I have been sent to bring you to heel and, most importantly, to secure a self-sufficient fief where the Empire and the Universal Church can survive."

Manuel, growing curious and very much aware of how easy it is to get his brother rambling, asks, "Do you...know what has become of the rest of the Empire?"

Robert's eyes grow sad as he looks away from his brother, and responds, "News is hard to come by, but I know this much: most of the Empire has completely dissolved into a maelstrom of starving, roving raider bands. What few provinces haven't, I only know of because of their rebellion..."

Manuel sits up, "Rebellion?"

Robert nods, still looking away, "The Kingdom of Ontario has broken away and conquered the Kingdom of Quebec, and the Kingdom of Magadan refused to swear fealty to me and has likewise gone its own way. The only provinces which remain in the Empire are the Papal States, the Feudatory of New Zealand, the Feudatory of Hawaii, and the Feudatory of Australia. Of those, the last three are all recent acquisitions. Australia is an irradiated hell hole, and will quickly dissolve as the miliary runs out of its supplies, if it hasn't already. Hawaii has been the sanctum of choice for many surviving clerics and nobles who can make the trip, but is hardly worthy of note. New Zealand may survive, as it has been spared the worst of the fallout, but its fate is uncertain. It certainly is too distant to be maintained by the Empire in any case.

That leaves the Papal States in central Italy. I attempted to rule from Rome, but the situation is too volatile. I managed to defeat the Pope's enemies who attempted to take the region following your deposition; but whereas he has just enough Gravitas to maintain the loyalty of the Italians, my title leaves me with nothing but scorn and scheming by the remaining nobles of Italy..."

He trails off, mulling the situation over in his head, before continuing,

"No, I had to leave. If I had stayed, I would have wound up with a dagger in my back before long. Though they feigned at docility, and were outwardly submissive, I could tell they were just waiting for their chance to strike. So, I left, and headed to St. Petersburg with my army in the hope that the city had survived - it hadn't. The Pope blessed my decision, gave me a couple of bishops, some priests, and the good Dominican, Father-Inquisitor Frollius. More importantly, he gave me a full mandate to bring you to heel, and to reorganize the ecclesiastical provinces I passed through. I have a bag full of Palliums over there, and express orders to give them to bishops like candy, along with ordinary jurisdiction. You'd be surprised how few bishops I've come across. But I digress."

Manuel listened silently, weighing his brother's words in his heart. The situation was even more dire than he had thought. Still, there was one thing Robert hadn't said...

"And how did you discover I was in Arkhangelsk?"

Robert laughs quietly, darkly, and responds,

"We picked up some of the radio chatter between your men. That was around ten days ago. After that, we set off for Arkhangelsk at full speed. Unlike the other provinces, Arkhangelsk has remained shockingly loyal. Sure, they're loyal to the wrong Emperor; but until today they were mostly unaware of your deposition, and of my coronation. Once proper order has been restored to the city, it will make a good location for the Empire to hold out at...possibly for millennia... until we can start spreading out again."

Manuel's brow furrows again, and he asks,

"What kind of 'proper order' do you have in mind?"

"First, all schisms must be healed. Both your schism and its adherents, along with the more ancient schism of the so called Russian 'Orthodox'. My goal is to reconcile all faithful clerics who were formerly Roman rite or Russian rite Catholics back into the Church, as well as bringing by any means necessary all the 'Orthodox' clerics into the Russian Rite of the Catholic Church. Extrinsic Unity will be restored. Once the clerics are taken care of, it will be a simple matter to get the peasants in line. Same for the nobility. The only wrinkle I expect is from Vasily, who will no doubt refuse to give up his false religion; which, once he is burnt to cinders, will leave me in the position to posthumously revoke his title as King of Karelia, at which point I will take it for myself.", Robert stares into the distance, wistfully, "I'll rename Karelia to Russia, of course, now that the rest of Russia is rubble; and I'll give up the rest of my titles which are purely titular at this point. I'll just have to get by as merely the 'Imperator et Caesar Romanorum, Rex Russiae, et Defensor Fidei'."

Manuel retorts, as cold as Russia itself, "I won't let you hurt Vasily. He's has been a loyal subject, and more importantly, a good friend to me all these years."

Robert smiles, "Really, you ought to be more concerned about your own flesh. Will you recant, or not? There really isn't any more to say to each other; I've had my fill of gloating and rambling at your expense."

"Spare Vasily, and I will."

"That will depend on Vasily."

Manuel glares at Robert, knowing full and well that Vasily would never accept Robert's terms, before barking at him,

"You vile wretch!"

Robert laughs coldly, "That's enough talk. There's nothing left for us to discuss."

* * * * *

Spoiler Artist's Depiction of the Execution of Vasily and Manuel :

On the 27th of December, 2173, Manuel of Braganza, Vasily IV of Kholmogory, Bishop Ivan Petrovich, Bishop Chekhov Ivanovich, Metropolitan Tomas Nikolaevich, and 28 Russian Orthodox priests were burnt at the stake on the charge of Schism. Arkhangelsk was now under the iron hand of Robertus Hominicus Brigantiae, who would rule for the next 53 years. Though Robert managed to keep the lights on for far longer than expected through a series of cunning initiatives and expeditions, power was at last lost in 2196; but by then the city had been largely transitioned to a more feudal way of life, more in keeping with the resources available. The skyscrapers were left, abandoned, to be consumed by nature and worn down to dust over the next couple of centuries. Despite the loss of the modern, technological wonders man had long taken for granted, the Emperor managed to keep the city together in one piece. By the end of Robert's life, he had secured the future of his faith, his dynasty, and his empire. Arkhangelsk was self-sufficient, whole - and a complete shadow of its former self. According to legend, when Robert breathed his last breathe on August 15th, 2227, his body remained free of all decomposition and smelled of roses. He was canonized 11 years later, and from henceforth was known to history as "St. Robert the Zealot".

Icon of St. Robert the Zealot:

Over the next 439 years, the City of Arkhangelsk would slowly rebuild under the guidance of the Brigantiae Dynasty. Life in the frigid city was hard work, but the people were safe and fed, however meagerly. And, eventually, in the year 2666, the city would begin to stir once again:

The Ashen Eagle was waking, ready to rise once more.
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Chapter II: Wandering the Wastes

[Excerpt from a lecture given in 5730 at the Monastery of St. Basil in Vladimir, to aspiring students hoping to become Imperial Loremasters]

The period between 2227 and 2666 is shrouded in much mystery, due in large part to a scarcity of written records. Only four works survive from this period, often dubbed "The Great Dark Age" or (as is more common in ecclesiastical circles), the "Saeculum Obscurum Tertiae. These works are: The Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Romanorum (Ecclesiastical History of the Roman People) penned in 2258 by St. Innocentius of Arkhangelsk, the Комментарий к Добротолюбию (Commentary on the Philokalia) penned in 2389 by Schemamonk Anastasius, the Vitae Imperatorum (Lives of the Emperors) penned in 2441 by Imperial Castellan Clemens Scholasticus, and the Historia Sacrae Liturgiae in Urbis Archangeli Imperialis/История священной литургии в Императорском граде Архангельске (History of the Sacred Liturgy in the Imperial City of Arkhangelsk) penned in 2599 by the eccentric Father-Inquisitor Vladimir Bonifatius. Of these works, only the latter two are of significant note to the student of history. However, I will give a brief overview of each.

The Ecclesiastical History of the Roman People, due in large part to its date of composition relative to the other works, covers historical events which can be found in other earlier works; usually, with less detail. It is of some utility to a student seeking to learn a complete outline of the history of the Church prior to the death of St. Robert the Zealot, but one is generally better off sticking with a variety of more specialized works, if such are available.

The Commentary on the Philokalia is a commentary on an earlier work, namely the Philokalia, which is a collection of spiritual writings from the fourth to the fifteen century. Required reading for Russian Rite clerics, and of great utility to members of the faithful who aspire to progress in the spiritual life; but, of very little value as far as historical studies are concerned.

The Lives of the Emperors is a history of the lives and reigns of all of the Emperors from St. Robert the Zealot to Peter VI the Erudite, who died in 2439. It was commissioned by Peter VI prior to his death, and was studiously compiled by the Imperial Castellan. Despite the works origin in the Imperial Court, it generally tries to be unbiased; at least until the author reaches the 25th century. It makes for dry reading, but without it we would be almost completely clueless as to succession of Emperors who ruled during the Great Dark Age.

Lastly, and most interestingly, is the
History of the Sacred Liturgy in the Imperial City of Arkhangelsk. Though the work is ostensibly meant to detail the development of both the Roman and Russian rites of the Sacred Liturgy, the author had a dizzying amount of interests and an almost insatiable, or so it would seem, need to ramble about these interests for pages upon pages. One can start a chapter dedicated to how rood screens were reintroduced into the Roman Rite as a result of being influenced by the Russian iconostasis, before suddenly detouring into a long-winded exposition on political and social changes that consume the rest of the chapter! While this makes for confusing and, might I add, frustrating reading; it is undeniable that we are greatly indebted to the ponderous intellect of Vladimir Bonifatius. Were it not for his inability to shut up, and for his interest in the most mundane and minuscule of topics, we would be entirely ignorant of the immense changes which took place during this period; namely, the increased autonomy and even authority of the peasantry, the collapse of the traditional system of vassalage, the decentralization of wealth and property, the loss of numerous technologies due to lack of necessity or resources, and many more developments that are too numerous to name.

A final fact of interest about the Historia Sacrae Liturgiae, is that it is the only work from this period, and one of the very few works at all up to the present time, to have been written in both Latin and Russian...

[Excerpt from a Report of the Dominican Friar, Father Antoninus Nepos, to the Archbishop of Arkhangelsk and the Emperor]

...I must once again, if it does not displease Your Grace and Your Imperial Majesty, humbly protest my assignment to accompany and tend to the spiritual needs of the newly founded Imperial Scouts. While I do not in any way wish to imply foolishness or lack of wisdom on the part Your Grace or Your Imperial Majesty, I would feel remiss if I did not comment that there is nothing beyond the bounds of Arkhangelsk save for trees, endless steppe, and aggressive wildlife. It seems, for lack of better words on account of my immense stupidity and unlearnedness compared to Your Grace and Your Imperial Majesty, an entirely pointless endeavor. Such an environment, I do hope Your Grace and Your Imperial Majesty will agree, does not seem fitting for an ordained priest of Our Lord such as myself.

Nevertheless, I would not dare to defy or in anyway seek to displease Your Grace and Your Imperial Majesty. Should you wish me to remain among the scouts, then I will do so.

Ave, True to Caesar,

Pax Christi tecum sit,

Fr. Antoninus Nepos, O.P.

[Excerpt from a report of the Dominican Friar, Father Julianus Tiberius, to the Archbishop of Arkhangelsk and the Emperor]

...the barbarians, who were immensely grateful for their conversion at the hands of my preaching and ministrations, have agreed to send one of their shipwrights to Arkhangelsk. It appears that they regularly sail down the Danube and into the Black Sea, in search of riches and food to preserve for the winter. Having tried some of their pickled fish, I can safely say that they are wasting the effort. Though, they seem to love the stuff. I'm sure they will enjoy the upcoming Lenten season. In any case, hopefully their shipwright and his knowledge will be of some use to the Imperial Court. Turning to other matters of import, the barbarians have inquired as to to possibility of obtaining a bishop for their small village. I told them that such a station is unworthy of a prince of the Church, but they are fearful that if a mere priest is sent another may not come to succeed him after his death...

[Excerpt from a report of the Dominican Friar, Father Otho Innocentius, to the Archbishop of Arkhangelsk and the Emperor]

...after travelling along the coast for several days, we proceeded to head inland with the help of our local guide. Though I was personally suspicious that the man was really a brigand, trying to lure us into the wilderness and rob us blind, he made true on his word and lead us swiftly to exactly where he said he would; namely, Holy Rome itself. The wonder of the scouts upon seeing the city was truly amusing to behold. They had thought the Eternal City was merely a legend! Having been the most erudite of my fellow dominicans during my years of seminary at the Monastery of St. Robert, I was entirely unsurprised. What serious scholar of the Sacred Sciences is unaware that the Diocese of Rome will exist until the end of time, with faithful members of the Catholic Church in its embrace. After scolding the starstruck scouts for their ignorance of a dogmatic teaching of the Church, I allowed myself a moment of wonder as well. I had expected Rome to be a small village, or at least much smaller than Arkhangelsk. On the contrary, the city surpassed it!

Not all was well in Rome, however. Upon arriving into the crowded city, bustling with many dark skinned peasants speaking a tongue entirely foreign to both the scouts and myself, we attempted to try and make contact with the Pope. After much struggle, we managed to navigate our way to the Vatican, which we found entirely under a heavy lock down. Eventually, following much wasted time attempting to argue, or rather communicate at all, with the guards, an elderly man in fine clothing stepped out of the Castel Sant'Angelo. Praise be to God, he knew how to speak Latin.

We conversed for a while, and I made a full effort to impress upon him that I was a member of the Dominican Order, a subject of the Holy Roman Emperor, and that it was urgent that I obtain an audience with the Holy Father. He looked at me as if I were a drunkard, and remarked that such an audience was entirely impossible. He then proceeded to describe how the majority of the city was made up of a group of people, called the Maiaei, who had arrived from across the sea hundreds of years ago after fleeing from their homeland of Iucatania. The Maiaei had, at first, been loyal subjects of the Church and the Papal States; but, for the past seventy years or so they had been entirely up in arms and were striving to usurp the Pope's temporal domain. The Sovereign Pontiffs had been reduced to veritable prisoners in the Vatican for some decades, and only the most trusted of subjects were allowed an audience (typically, native born Italians, who were becoming increasingly less numerous relative to their darker skinned neighbors).

The man then urged me to leave the city in full haste, as apparently one of the barbaric customs of these Maiaei is that, every saturday, they gather up all the Italians they can find within the walls of the city of Rome and publicly sacrifice them in the forum. Aghast, I begged him to at least tell me the name of the current Pope, so that we might pray his name in the Canon of the Mass once more. The man informed me that the current Holy Father is Pope Gregory XXVI. Thanking him profusely, I gathered the scouts and rushed out of the city as quickly as possible through the north gate. They were reluctant to leave at first but, seeing as it was Friday and sunset was fast approaching, once I informed them of the imminent danger we were in, they acquiesced.

Some Maiaei would attempt to assault us as we passed near Piombino, but the scouts managed to ward them off with no losses. I owe them my life...

[Excerpt from a report of the Dominican Friar, Father Carolus Julianus, to the Archbishop of Arkhangelsk and the Emperor]

...following the aforementioned crossing of the Vistula, we found ourselves in the territory of a barbaric and backwards tribal confederation inhabiting what was once northeastern Poland and Lithuania. Surprisingly, they did not harass us as we passed through their lands, which is a rare blessing when encountering the savages that inhabit the lands beyond the Empire. I believe that, under the civilizing influence of the true faith, they could one day make good Imperial subjects. It may be worthwhile to send some missionaries out this way to see if they can have any luck...

[Extract from the Chronicle of St. Tikhon the Wise, regarding the founding of Vladimir]

...In the Year of Our Lord 3611, after receiving the permission of the Emperor, Teodor Stephanovich travelled south of the Great Imperial City of Arkhangelsk intent on expanding the Empire into the great barbaric wastes. After a month of travel, they had arrived close to the area where Muscovy once stood and, falling into an ecstasy, Teodor received a vision from St. Vladimir the Great. The blessed Saint said to him, "Go forth, man of my blood, and tame this earth upon which you stand; for it was here that a great city bearing my own name once ruled, lording over even mighty Moscow". Upon coming back to his senses, Teodor urged the men who had followed him to travel no farther, and commanded them to begin settling the area immediately. Working tirelessly, the city of Vladimir was refounded only a few weeks later. Messengers returned to Arkhangelsk, whereupon the Emperor (greatly pleased at the success of his subject), bestowed upon Teodor the title "Grand Duke of Vladimir". Thus, Teodor took up his rule as Grand Duke Theodorus I Stephanofilius, and ruled with piety and justice until his death...

[Extract from the Theodosiad, an oral story of anonymous origin which was recorded by Father Ioannes Ahenobarbus in the year 4528]

...And so Theodosius the Unconquerable, greatest warrior and bowman of the Empire, lead his mighty band of forty men beyond the civilized world and into the barbaric unknown. Travelling along the western sea, they hunted all pagans and barbarians that crossed their path. Upon reaching the Pregolia River, Theodosius prostrated in the frigid waters and beseeched succor from the Mother of Our Lord, desperate for a sign on how to proceed. Immediately his prayers were answered; an old bishop wearing full clerical garb appeared from the east and began to walk across the waters of the river. Theodosius cried out,

"Good father, where are you going?

The graven bishop replied,

"There are still pagans yet to save, just as in Riga of old. I must head west with full diligence, lest the Gepids lose their souls!"

Filled with light from the Holy Ghost, Theodosius realized the man was St. Albert, having come down from Heaven to lead the way. Immediately his host set out across the river in pursuit of the Saint, ready to bravely war for the defense of the Church and the sake of ignorant souls. Travelling fifty miles in only an hour, they seized upon the city of the Gepids with fury. It was taken in less than a day, and was newly christened as "Urbis de Sanctissima, Immaculatissima, Beatissima Maria, Victrix super turbi infideliae barbarorum" ("The City of the Most Holy, Most Immaculate, Most Blessed Mary, Victorious Over the Faithless Horde of the Barbarians"); or, as it would be known to the mighty descendents of those forty warriors: Maria Victrix...

[Excerpt from the Historia Ecclesiastica of Thomas Aurelianus, written in 4274]

...The latin speaking nobility who ostensibly ruled alongside the Emperor in Arkhangelsk had grown increasingly disgruntled at the rising influence of Vladimir to the south. Whereas, in prior centuries, the aristocracy had been entirely of non-russian extraction; following the foundation and growth of the Grand Duchy, many minor noble families of Russian blood would start to crop up. One man, however, had a cunning solution. The Imperial Legate, Theodosius Gregorianus, gathered a force of 4,000 men from among the non-russian nobility and set off to the west. Theodosius, a shrewd man who had spent many a night poring over old tomes in the Imperial Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel, was well aware that the Imperial Scouts had discovered a small tribal confederation of pagans between the Vistula and Pregorya rivers. Travelling swiftly, hoping to disguise his absence from the Imperial Court as an extended hunting trip, he managed to arrive at the border of the Gepid Confederation in roughly three weeks; an incredible feat, given that they made the whole journey on foot over a distance of 1355 (roman) miles.

Upon arriving at the Gepid capital, the exhausted forces of Legate Theodosius were eager to rest. The Gepids, being a largely peaceful and accommodating people, invited Theodosius' men into their city and even held a feast in their honor. Then, in the dead of night while all the men of the town were asleep (and, quite likely, drunk), the Legate and his 4000 men seized the city. The Gepids were stripped of their original tribal names, which have since been lost to history, and were given the name they are currently known as by the conquering force. Thereafter, the small city was renamed to Maria Victrix, the men of the city were enslaved, and the women were given as wives to all of the unmarried soldiers. Theodosius had planned to butcher the children, but a nearby Dominican friar who was travelling with the Imperial Scouts reached the city in time and managed to intervene. Instead, the children were taken with him to the Monastery of St. Robert in Arkhangelsk where they would be raised by the Dominican order. It is thanks to said friar and the children he saved that we have a proper account of this conquest at all.

When news reached the Imperial City of Legate Theodosius' actions, the Emperor immediately stripped him of his position in the Imperial Court. However, the nobility would force the Emperor's hand, and he would be forced to compensate Theodosius with the title "Duke of Prussia". This was just the start of the problems that would soon assail the Empire, however; for Theodosius had just inadvertently caused the most controverted theological debate the Church would face in over a millenia.

Prior to the conquest of the Gepids, slavery was entirely non-existent in the Empire. The concept was known, of course; but with a largely independent peasantry on the one hand and the Church's traditionally unfavorable (to put it mildly) view of enslaving a fellow Catholic on the other hand, no one had yet attempted to introduce the practice to the Empire. However, the enslavement of the Gepids had opened Pandora's box, so to speak. It did not take long for Theodosius to begin selling some of his many slaves to other nobles, both in Arkhangelsk and Vladimir; and, once the market had come into existence, many other nobles began to hunt through the wasteland looking for slaves of their own to bring to market.

Many priests condemned the practice, particularly among the Russian Rite clergy. In response, Roman rite clergy who had aligned themselves with the nobility (especially those who had arranged to be reassigned to parishes in Prussia) began to defend the practice, drawing upon certain passages of Sacred Scriptures and select quotations from various documents of the Church. The controversy had begun, and soon the monasteries were filled with arguments among the learned. Arguments, which quickly turned to brawls, and then to worse violence.

Thirty years of chaos would ensue, with many local councils being called to decide the issue, and most of them contradicting each other. As the violence in Arkhangelsk reached a fever pitch, the Russian-Rite Patriarch of Arkhangelsk and the Roman-Rite Primate of Arkhangelsk joined together to hold the largest local council yet, with a third of the Empire's bishops in attendance. The second session would end in a heated brawl, during which several candles were accidentally knocked over. Several candles, which set the second-largest monastery in the city, the Monastery of St. Cyprian, ablaze. The ensuing fire would take out a quarter of the city before it was managed to be put it, and the Imperial Palace itself was nearly lost in the blaze. Thankfully, the Imperial Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel (which housed the majority of the Empire's written works) was spared; had the flames not been stopped in time, the cultural, theological, philosophical, and historical loss would have been incalculable.

Following the "Great Fire of 4027", the Emperor was no longer willing to wait on the clergy to find the solution to the controversy on their own. Invoking the rights bestowed by the Pope upon St. Robert the Zealot and all his successors to "do whatsoever may be required for the continued preservation, peace, and unity of the Church", Emperor Isaac III covoked an Ecumenical Council.

Icon depicting the Emperor presiding over the First Council of Arkhangelsk, the 23rd Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church
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Chapter III: Servi, obedite dominis

[Source: The Minutes and Acts of the First Council of Arkhangelsk, as recorded at the Council by the Dominican Friar and Imperial Chronicler, Father Romanus Aurelius]

Session I

Garbed in full liturgical regalia, the Primate of Arkhangelsk enters, with a full procession of the bishops and priests of the city, followed by some deacons chanting the hymn "Te Deum". Following behind them is the Patriarch of Arkhangelsk with his own procession of bishops and priests, followed by some deacons chanting the Trisagion in Russian. As they approach the altar at the far end of the Basilica, the Romans each genuflect before heading to their seats, while the Russians make the sign of the cross before heading to their's. Once they are finished, the Emperor, in full imperial regalia, processes in behind his court chaplain, the Bishop Andronicus of Septimiapolis, and three deacons. All kneel, and the Bishop removes his biretta which is kissed by the deacon next to him followed by the prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Once completed, the Bishop with deacons continue to the altar to sing Holy Mass, while the Emperor takes a seat in his throne near to the Altar. Mass, in this case a sung High Mass (Missa Cantata Solemnis), is celebrated in the Roman Rite, in full accordance with the rubrics.

At the time for Holy Communion, the celebrant, assisting deacons, Primate, Patriarch, and Emperor all receive the the Body of Our Lord. Only the celebrant and Emperor receive the Precious Blood from the Chalice. The other assembled clerics abstain from both. After the mass has ended, the Emperor and celebrant chant aloud thrice the "Sancte Michael" of Pope Leo XIII, praying for the success of the council and defense against the evil one. This is followed by a final chanting of the "Veni Creator Spiritus" by all in attendance, that the Holy Spirit might enlighten the minds and hearts of all present at the Sacred Council.

Six servants enter the Basilica as the Emperor takes a seat in his throne by the Altar, which is then moved by the servants to the front of the Altar. The Bishop makes a final genuflection to the tabernacle along with his three deacons, before making a procession to the front of the Basilica where he is to be seated. His deacons complete the procession, and depart from the Basilica. The Emperor dismisses his servants, who likewise depart. With Holy Mass ended, the Emperor addresses the Sacred Council.

I, Isaac, Emperor and Caesar of the Romans, holding the place of the Roman Pontiff in accordance with the Bull Pro Catholica, for an everlasting record, ask:

Most reverend fathers, is it your pleasure that, to the praise and glory of the holy and undivided Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, for the increase and exaltation of the catholic faith and religion, for the uprooting of current errors, for the moral guidance of the clergy and the christian people, and for the common peace and concord of all, that this Sacred and Ecumenical Council of Arkhangelsk should be opened, and be declared to have been opened?

All of the Russian Clergy, and all of the Roman Clergy save for the Primate of Arkhangelsk, twelve bishops, and two priests reply:Yes

The Primate of Arkhangelsk begins to speak:

With the permission of Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty, may I address this Sacred Assembly?

The Emperor nods in affirmation, and the Primate clears his throat before continuing:

I question the legality of this Council. Under Canon Law, only the Roman Pontiff may summon an Ecumenical Council. This much is known to all here present. His Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty asserts that the rights and decrees contained in the Bull Pro Catholica grant him the authority to hold this assembly, with himself functioning as what is essentially a Papal Legate. However, no where in the document cited does it expressly grant this permission; rather, it concludes by granting a blanket permission to "do whatsoever may be required for the continued preservation, peace, and unity of the Church". Now-

The Emperor interjects:

Your Grace, is it not true that, in the Church's tradition of canonical interpretation, permissions are to be interpreted broadly and restrictions are to be interpreted strictly?

The Primate replies:

That is true, Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty, however-

The Emperor interjects again:

And is it also not true that the present controversy is threatening the peace and unity of the Church?

The Primate replies:

Yes, this also true; but, this is not sufficient, as the one of the conditions, the continued preservation of the Church, is no-

The Emperor interjects for a third time:

Is it not true that the Psalmist David said of Christ Our Lord: "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts in men"? And does not Saint John teach us in the Book of the Apocalypse: "He that shall lead into captivity, shall go into captivity: he that shall kill by the sword, must be killed by the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints"?

The primate replies:

All of this is true, but that is not rele-

The Emperor interjects for a final time:

Is it not necessary for the preservation of the Church, that the patience and faith of Her members be guarded against possible errors that would lead them to lose said patience and faith?

The Council erupts in cries of "Ave, True to Caesar", drowning out the cries of other prelates who shout out "Gallican!" or "Photian" or "Tyrant", as the Primate takes his seat in shame. The Emperor continues:

Are there any other objections, reverend fathers?

The Assembly of the Clergy remains silent. After a time, the Patriarch of Arkhangelsk replies:

None choose to voice any objections at this time, Your Most Holy and Most August Imperial Majesty.

The Emperor responds:

Then the motion carries, and the Ecumenical Council of Arkhangelsk has formally begun. Are all the bishops of the Empire, all the priests of Arkhangelsk, and at least half of all the priests from the outlying provinces, here as I decreed?

Bishop Andronicus of Septimiapolis stands up, and replies,

Unfortunately not, your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty. The delegates from Maria Victrix appear to have been delayed. They should arrive at Arkhangelsk within a week.

The Emperor replies:

Very well. We shall reconvene eight days from now, on the Feast of St. John the Almsgiver. Do any object?

The assembled clergy remain silent. The Emperor concludes

Good. We will meet again at that time. This session is adjourned.

Session II

Holy Mass is celebrated in the same manner as last time, save for the presence of the delegation from Maria Victrix. Once the liturgy is concluded, before the Emperor can address the Council, the bold Archbishop of Maria Victrix exclaims:

Your Imperial Majesty, if I may voice my concerns before this session begins?

The Emperor opens his mouth to reply, but the Archbishop continues before he can respond:

We, the princes of the Church in Prussia, are greatly disturbed at what we have heard in regard to the first session of this Most Sacred Council. We fear that this assembly, far from being impartial, is a blatant attempt by the temporal power to interfere in the affairs of the Church.

The Emperor Replies:

I can assure you, Your Grace, that I am completely impartial. My only desire is for this Council to examine the prior teachings of the Church, to state them more clearly and explicitly, and to come to a single mind in regard to how they apply to the present case. I-

The Archbishop proudly interjects:

But, Your Imperial Majesty, from what we heard of the first session you are already... influenced against our position, which you described as "possible errors which may cause the loss of the faith and patience of the saints"? This is-

The Emperor interjects the Archbishop's interjection:

First, you will address me as "Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty", as has been the proper form of address in regard to the Emperor for over nearly two millenia. Second, if you continue to interrupt me, who am presiding over this Sacred Council and hold the place of the Roman Pontiff, who in turn holds the place of Christ upon this Earth, then I will find you in contempt of this Council, have you defrocked, and imprison you on the charge of blasphemy. Are we clear, Your Grace?

The Archbishop slowly nods, after which the Emperor continues:

Very good. And, third, you are twisting my statements from the prior session. I did not intend to insinuate that any particular position in regard to the current controversy is erroneous. What I meant, as was clear from the context, was that this issue is a matter which touches upon the deposit of faith and the moral life of the Church, as such it is of necessity that some positions will be heretical and a threat to the faith, patience, unity, peace, and continued existence of the Church; whereas others will be in conformity with the faith and the natural law. What positions are which, is a matter for this Sacred Council to determine. Do you understand, Your Grace?

The Archbishop replies:

Perfectly, Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty. Please, pardon my ignorance in using an incomplete form of address, as my sense of court custom has been dulled somewhat from my living in the distant Duchy of Prussia.

The Emperor responds:

You are forgiven, Your Grace. Now, if it pleases all of you, reverend fathers, then I will proceed to open this session, and declare it to have been opened.

All the Council Fathers exclaim: Yea, or remain silent. The Emperor responds:

And, are there any objections:

The Council remains silent. The Emperor concludes:

Excellent, then this session is formally opened. Before we proceed further, let us all confess our faith:

All stand and face towards the Altar, and proceed to chant the Creed of the Council of Trent, as last amended by the First and Third Vatican Councils. When the Creed is completed, all present, except for the Russians, genuflect towards the altar. The Russians instead make the sign of the cross. After all are seated again, the Emperor addresses the Council:

Father-Inquisitor Constantinus, please present the findings of the Dominican Order in regard to the Church's prior teachings on the subject of the present controversy.

The Father-Inquisitor responds:

As you wish, Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty. Angelus, Ioannes, and Cyprianus: bring me the findings of the Monastery of St. Robert and the most erudite Dominican Order.

Three Dominican monks sitting in the vestibule rise and enter, garbed in the black habit of their order, carrying many records containing prior dogmatic and doctrinal teachings of the Church. The lead monk, Cyprianus, whispers something into the Father-Inquisitor's ear before departing with his brother monks. The Father-Inquisitor frowns, before continuing:

If it pleases the reverend fathers, I would like to read from the findings directly.

The Emperor Replies:

The motion is proposed, do any object?

The Council remains silent. The Emperor replies:

Then the motion carries. Proceed, Father-Inquisitor.

Father-Inquisitor Constantinus clears his throat, and then proceeds to read aloud:

Pope Nicholas V, in the Bull Romanus Pontifex, teaches and decrees that:

"We, therefore, weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso — to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit...may be able the more zealously to pursue and may pursue this most pious and noble work, and most worthy of perpetual remembrance (which, since the salvation of souls, increase of the faith, and overthrow of its enemies may be procured thereby, we regard as a work wherein the glory of God, and faith in Him, and His commonwealth, the Universal Church, are concerned)..." Thus taught the Holy Father, Pope Nicholas V.

A murmur fills the Basilica of St. Robert, before quieting down so that the Father-Inquisitor may continue:

Pope Gregory XVI, the great enemy of Indifferentism, in the Apostolic Letter In Supremo Apostolatus, teaches and decrees that:

...This is why, desiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to vex anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour. Further, in the hope of gain, propositions of purchase being made to the first owners of the Blacks, dissensions and almost perpetual conflicts are aroused in these regions.

We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter."

A murmur fills the basilica again, this time louder, before once again quieting down for the Father-Inquisitor to continue:

The Third Council of the Lateran, in it's canons, teaches and legislates the following:

24. Cruel avarice has so seized the hearts of some that though they glory in the name of Christians they provide the Saracens with arms and wood for helmets, and become their equals or even their superiors in wickedness and supply them with arms and necessaries to attack Christians. There are even some who for gain act as captains or pilots in galleys or Saracen pirate vessels. Therefore we declare that such persons should be cut off from the communion of the church and be excommunicated for their wickedness, that catholic princes and civil magistrates should confiscate their possessions, and that if they are captured they should become the slaves of their captors. We order that throughout the churches of maritime cities frequent and solemn excommunication should be pronounced against them...

27....With regard to the Brabanters, Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, Coterelli and Triaverdini, who practise such cruelty upon Christians that they respect neither churches nor monasteries, and spare neither widows, orphans, old or young nor any age or sex, but like pagans destroy and lay everything waste, we likewise decree that those who hire, keep or support them, in the districts where they rage around, should be denounced publicly on Sundays and other solemn days in the churches, that they should be subject in every way to the same sentence and penalty as the above-mentioned heretics and that they should not be received into the communion of the church, unless they abjure their pernicious society and heresy. As long as such people persist in their wickedness, let all who are bound to them by any pact know that they are free from all obligations of loyalty, homage or any obedience. On these and on all the faithful we enjoin, for the remission of sins, that they oppose this scourge with all their might and by arms protect the christian people against them. Their goods are to be confiscated and princes free to subject them to slavery. Those who in true sorrow for their sins die in such a conflict should not doubt that they will receive forgiveness for their sins and the fruit of an eternal reward..."

The Emperor leans forward in his throne, with a perplexed expression on his face. The Father-Inquisitor continues:

Pope Paul III, in the Bull Sublimus Dei, teaches and decrees that-

The Archbishop of Maria Victrix interrupts him:

Objection, Your Most Holy and Most August Imperial Majesty! Sublimus Dei was never formally promulgated, rather it was merely published and then withdrawn at the request of the Spanish King.

The Emperor replies:

Objection overruled. I will let the Father-Inquisitor read it. Even if not formally promulgated, it will reveal the thoughts of a holy and orthodox Pope on the matter.

The Father-Inquisitor bows to the Emperor, before continuing:

Sublimus Dei
teaches and decrees that:

"...The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God’s word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.

We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

By virtue of Our apostolic authority We define and declare by these present letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, which shall thus command the same obedience as the originals, that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living.

The Council erupts into conflicted shouts, and it looks as if a brawl is about to begin between the Primate of Arkhangelsk and the Archbishop of Maria Victrix. The Emperor gestures to a servant at the front of the Basilica, and guards quickly enter. The assembled clergy all look around, before growing silent and returning to their seats. The Emperor clears his throat and speaks:

Father-Inquisitor, if you can, please select only one more decree to read to the Sacred Council. It appears we already have much to discuss. Reverend fathers, if you can behave yourselves like adults, I will withdraw the Imperial Guard.

Silence fills the Basilica. Nodding, the Emperor motions for his guards to leave. The Father-Inquisitor shuffles through the tomes of bonded together bark-parchment, hunting for anything that will help the Emperor resolve the controversy swiftly and peaceably. His eyes light up, and he begins to speak:

An Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy, Roman, and Universal Inquisition, known more commonly as the Holy Office, under the pontificate of St. Pius IX, teaches and defines that:

"...Although the Roman Pontiffs have left nothing untried by which servitude be everywhere abolished among the nations, and although it is especially due to them that already for many ages no slaves are held among very many Christian peoples, nevertheless, servitude itself, considered in itself and all alone (per se et absolute), is by no means repugnant to the natural and divine law, and there can be present very many just titles for servitude, as can be seen by consulting the approved theologians and interpreters of the canons. For the dominion which belongs to a master in respect to a slave is not to be understood as any other than the perpetual right of disposing, to one’s own advantage, of servile work, which dominion it is legitimate for a person to offer to another person. From this it follows that it is not repugnant to the natural and divine law that a slave be sold, bought, exchanged, or given, as long as in this sale, or buying, or exchange or giving, the due conditions which those same approved authors widely follow and explain, are properly observed. Among these conditions those which are to be especially looked at are whether the slave who is put up for sale has been justly or unjustly deprived of his liberty, and that the seller does nothing by which the slave to be transferred to another possessor suffer any detriment to life, morals or the Catholic faith.

Therefore, Christians, about whom one is speaking in the first question, can licitly buy slaves or, to resolve a debt, receive them as a gift, as long as they are morally certain that those slaves were not taken from their legitimate master or reduced to slavery unjustly. For if the slaves who are offered for sale have been taken from their legitimate master, it is not permitted to buy them, because it is a crime to buy what belongs to another and has been taken, the master being unwilling, by theft. If, however, they have been unjustly reduced to slavery, then one must determine whether they are unwilling to be sold or given to Christians or whether they consent to it. If they are unwilling, they can by no means be bought or received, since the captives themselves are masters of their own liberty, although it has been unjustly taken from them..."

The Sacred Council remains silent as the Emperor looks up, lost in thought. Frowning, he says:

If it pleases you, reverend fathers, I humbly request that we adjourn for the day, and meet again in three days. I know that I will need time to mull over these findings. Do any object?

The Patriarch of Arkhangelsk, the Primate of Arkhangelsk, and the Archbishop of Maria Victrix, all respond in unison:

There are no objections, Your Most August and Imperial Majesty.

The Emperor concludes:

Then this session is adjourned.

Session III

Holy mass is once again celebrated in the same manner as the preceding sessions. Once concluded, the Emperor addresses the assembled Council:

If it pleases you, reverend fathers, I would like to formally open this session and declare it to be opened.

The Clergy reply in unison:

None object.

Nodding, the Emperor continues,

Then this session is now open. I have taken the liberty to write some canons that I believe will resolve the present controversy, and state clearly what the teaching of the Church is on the matter of slavery. If I may, reverend fathers?

Looks of surprise rise on the faces of the assembled clergy, but none object. The Patriarch of Arkhangelsk replies:

Please proceed, Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty:

The Emperor Responds, a slight smirk on his face:

Thank you, reverend fathers. I do believe that these canons resolve certain apparent contradictions in the prior decrees we heard read which, only at face value, seem irreconcilable. I pray that you will all consent to these canons as an explicit and formal summary of the teaching of the Church on this matter, as well as in regard to some tertiary concerns.

"Canon I: If anyone saith that slavery in the sense in which one man owns another as property, is in conformity with the natural law and permissible to Christians; let him be anathema

Canon II: If anyone saith that God alone is not the sole owner of each individual man, or that God alone does not have the right to dispose of his property as he sees fit, in accordance with his loving providence; let him be anathema.

Canon III: If anyone saith that slavery, in the sense in which one man owns the right to the labor of another, is entirely and intrinsically contrary to the natural law, and completely immoral for Christians, and indeed all men; let him be anathema

Canon IV: If anyone saith that it is not contrary to the law of God for an innocent man to, without his consent, be enslaved by another in the sense that said innocent man no longer has the right of ownership to his own labor; let him be anathema

Canon V: If anyone saith that it is immoral and entirely repugnant to God for a guilty man to be enslaved, without his consent, in the sense that said man no longer has the right of ownership to his own labor; let him be anathema

Canon VI: If anyone saith that those who are guilty of the crimes of heresy, schism, unbelief, heathenry, apostasy, and other such offenses, are neither a threat to the Church, nor that such men can be enslaved without sin, in the sense that said wicked men no longer have the right of ownership to their own labor; let him be anathema.

Canon VII: If anyone saith that it is in conformity with the gospel and is not displeasing to Our Lord, that one Christian should hold his brothers in Christ as slaves, in any sense of the term; let him be anathema.

Canon VIII: If anyone should dare to saith such a blasphemy, that not only the Holy Roman Pontiffs and the Blessed Apostles, but even God himself, erred when they allowed slavery, in the sense in which one man owns the right to the labor of another, to continue, both under the Old Law and after the promulgation of the Gospel; let him be anathema

Canon IX: If anyone saith that the Most Holy and Most August Emperor and Caesar of the Romans has not been given by the Roman Pontiff the express right and privilege, in perpetuity, when necessity so requires, to convene and temporarily ratify, pending eventual and final confirmation by the Roman Pontiff whenever possible, Ecumenical Councils of the Church; let him be anathema

Canon X: If anyone should be so proud and senseless as to reject any written or unwritten tradition of the church, or any of her dogmatic and doctrinal definitions, let him be anathema."

Are there any objections to these canons?

The Archbishop of Maria Victrix begins to speak:

Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty, I find much to consent to in these canons; however, you have not touched the issue of what is to be done with those who are already enslaved, or who already own slaves.

The Emperor replies:

Those who already own the labor of another, with or without their consent, may continue in their ownership of said labor, if only for the continued peace and preservation of the Empire and the Church. The canons will not address it, as such a matter is more an issue of prudential considerations than principles.

The Archbishop responds:

Thank you, Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty.

The Primate of Arkhangelsk begins to speak:

I take offense to Canon IX, and I also believe that, while the content of these canons may be orthodox, they go against the spirit and desire of prior teachings of the Church. As you yourself quoted some time ago: "He that shall lead into captivity, shall go into captivity: he that shall kill by the sword, must be killed by the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints".

The Emperor replies:

That is an isolated proof-text, Your Grace. As we have seen, it is not sufficient to resolve this matter, hence the more nuanced teachings of the Church which help to understand the kind of captivity being referenced. However, I leave the issue to your fellow men of the cloth to discuss, along with the issue of Canon IX...

The Patriarch of Arkhangelsk responds to the Primate:

I believe I speak for my fellow reverend fathers when I say this: Demetrius, my brother, the Empire and the Church have suffered enough at the hands of this controversy. The canons the Emperor proposes are a fine synthesis of the prior teachings of the Church, and will be sufficient for both sides. Those in favor of slavery will be able to continue their way of life without an overly harsh change, and those who stand against slavery such as myself can rest easy knowing that the Faith is safe, the Church preserved from further discord, and that the worst abuses of slavery will be kept in check. Please, do not oppose the Emperor, on this matter or the matter of his right to summon and ratify this Council.

Primate Demetrius replies:

Pyotr, my dear friend, you know I can not acquiesce. I will not be strong-armed by a petty sovereign who thinks he can play Pope, and I will not quietly allow untold numbers of pagans to suffer at the hands of Christians, solely for the crime of being in woeful ignorance of the Faith and for being unable to defend themselves against the bloodthirsty warriors of Theodosius! Do you not see the great evil being perpetrated here? Will you not defend and even suffer for the sake of these slaves, even as Christ Our Lord suffered for us poor slaves of the devil that we might be free?

The Archbishop of Maria Victrix responds:

What nonsense! Those brave Christians have expanded and defended the Empire, and have given the pagans a better life than they would have otherwise. They may not be free, but they are fed and they are no longer under the rule of barbarians.

Primate Demetrius answers coldly:

I must disagree, Your Grace. They are more under the rule of barbarians now then they were before your masters among the nobility seized upon them. In any case: I reject the canons proposed by the Emperor, and I will no longer stand here and be dictated to by a mere layman who acts as if he holds the place of Our Lord on this earth. All who agree with me, follow me. We will not allow the Church to be corrupted by such evils.

Primate Demetrius of Arkhangelsk storms out of the Basilica, followed by four priests of the Russian Rite, and one Bishop of the Roman-Rite. The rest remain, and the Emperor addresses them:

Am I correct to presume that the rest of the reverend fathers consent to these canons, and are pleased that they might be promulgated and formally defined?

Patriarch Pyotr VI of Arkhangelsk responds:

You presume correctly, Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty. We accept these canons as the formal teaching of the Catholic Church.

The Emperor concludes:

Very good. Very good indeed. In that case, this session is adjourned, and this Sacred Ecumenical Council of Arkhangelsk is adjourned, ended, and declared ratified by myself in virtue of the authority granted to me by the Pope in the Bull Pro Catholica. I will ensure that Imperial Law is in conformity with the canons, and that their teachings will be enforced. Father-Inquisitor?

Father-Inquisitor Constantinus responds:

Yes, Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty?

The Emperor firmly states:

Take my guards stationed outside, and arrest the Primate and those who have sided with him. From this moment forth they are heretics and schismatics of the Holy Catholic Church.

Father-Inquisitor Constantinus answers:

As you wish, Your Most August and Most Holy Imperial Majesty. It will be done.

The Father-Inquisitor bows and gives a salute:

Ave, True to Caesar!

The other members of the clergy rise, and do the same:

, True to Caesar!

Smiling, the Emperor motions for all to leave. The First Ecumenical Council of Arkhangelsk had ended.

An Icon from 4681, several centuries after the Council, depicting the Primate as reprobate and fallen at the feet of the Emperor

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Very Awesome. Let's hope this revives some interest in the game!
Thank you! That would be a welcome result, though I know that the current focus on the ecclesiastical side of Russo-Roman culture and politics is not everyone's cup of tea (or vodka, as it were). There will certainly be much more drama between Church and State, especially once proper contact can be made with the Pope again and he has to choose whether or not to ratify all of the in extremis actions the Emperors have been doing for millenia.

Especially with a strong Primate like Demetrius now essentially deposed and considered a heresiarch, the Emperors will have a much freer hand in the affairs of the Roman-Rite branch of the Church (the Russian-Rite hierarchy tends to largely be ambivalent or even supportive of the Emperor involving himself in Church affairs). It's pretty much guaranteed the next Primate of Arkhangelsk will be an Imperial "Yes-Man"; perhaps Father-Inquisitor Constantinus will get consecrated for the role.

But I don't want to spoil anything ;)
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Chapter IV: The World Taking Shape

[Excerpt from the Chronicle of St. Tikhon the Wise, regarding the aftermath of the First Council of Arkhangelsk]

...though the Sacred and Ecumenical Council of Arkhangelsk had concluded, peace was not immediately restored to the Church. Ex-Primate Demetrius fled the city with his handful of followers, narrowly escaping Imperial justice. He would thereafter roam the wastelands and the remote portions of the Empire, preaching his heresies and, so it was said, working great miracles. The day after Christmas, in the year of Our Lord 4031, he would come out of hiding and begin preaching openly in the city of Vladimir. The authorities soon took note of his reappearance, and swiftly laid a trap for the cunning Demetrius. The heresiarch was captured on the Ides of January, whereupon he was interrogated by the Archbishop of Vladimir and three priests of the city. Demetrius claimed that St. Peter had descended from heaven, crowned him as Pope, and had revealed that the Roman See had, in fact, been vacant for millennia, since at least 2163. The mad man did not stop there, however, but proceeded to claim that the Bull Pro Catholica was a forgery, and that St. Robert had never been crowned Emperor at all; rather, Manuel the Destroyer had supposedly survived his death by burning, and still dwelt in the Ural mountains to this very day as the True Emperor of the Romans.

The Archbishop, having heard more than enough to hand Demetrius over to the temporal authorities, informed the Grand Duke of the situation. Theodorus VI scheduled the date of execution for the following day, and sent messengers away to Arkhangelsk to inform the Emperor. The next day, Demetrius was tied to a pyre in the main square of the city, across from the courtyard of the Church of St. Vladimir the Great. A large crowd was standing by to witness the event, along with the temporal and ecclesiastical hierarchy of the city. The Steward of Justice approached the pyre, announced the crimes and errors of the heresiarch to the assembled crowd, and then stated: "Since you claim to be the true Roman Pontiff, and a great worker of miracles, then call upon the heavens to prove your claims". Demetrius responded, with a proud smirk, "I call upon the Blessed Virgin as my witness and defender, who will vouch for all I say". Thunder sounded in the sky, in spite of the temperate weather, and a great wind began to blow towards the entrance to the church courtyard. The wind coalesced into an apparition of the Theotokos, holding the infant Christ. The apparition bellowed out to the assembled crowd, "I vouch for Pope Peter II, whom you call Demetrius, and all he says; if any should lay a finger on him, I shall destroy this city in an instant."

The crowd grew restless and mad, with some shouting out "He is our true Pope!" and others exclaiming "What vile witchcraft!" At the time this tumult was happening, St. Clemens Augustinus, at this time a young Dominican Friar, was passing through the square on his way to give Holy Communion and Last Rites to one of his brother-monks. Upon seeing the apparition, he approached it, held up the Most Holy Body of Christ, and said, "If you are truly the Mother of God, then adore thy Son". The apparition suddenly let out a great howl of agony and scorn, before dissipating into a cloud of noxious black smoke which covered the city square for several minutes, smelling pungently of rust and decaying corpses. Demetrius was soon thereafter burnt at the stake, along with any of his followers which could be found in the city. Word soon spread throughout the land of what had happened, and the scourge of the Demetrian sect largely evaporated within the borders of the Empire.

This was not the complete end of the heresy, however, as the former bishop of Kholmogory took up the mantle of anti-pope and fled to the east, to live among the barbarians. There he inducted them into his vile ways, and soon barbarian attacks on the Empire would increase for centuries to come. Similarly, several of Demetrius' defrocked priests would do the same in the west, where they spread their errors to communities of escaped slaves just beyond the borders of the Empire. Lastly, many of Demetrius' lay followers would flee Vladimir before the temporal power could arrest them, and they took up residence in the remote woodlands of the Grand Duchy. To conclude, here are the particular errors and blasphemies of the three branches of Demetrianism:

The Demetrians of the west, known as the Andrewites, are most peculiar heretics. They go beyond mere veneration of the angels, and render to them the adoration which is proper only to God. They believe that the Angels rule over the material world as manifestations of God himself, that there are no true Holy Orders, that laymen can administer the sacraments, that the only sacraments are Baptism and the Eucharist, that the Eucharist is not truly Our Lord Jesus Christ in substance but merely his spiritual presence, that slavery in any sense of the word is intrinsically immoral, that all Sacred Images are blasphemous, and that there is no grace outside of their particular sect.

The Demetrians of the east, known as the Neo-Manuelites, believe that Manuel the Destroyer still lives, that their line of anti-popes are the true pontiffs, that deacons can give absolution, that Christians should receive Holy Communion only once during their life, that when Christian's receive Holy Communion they are obligated by Divine Law to receive under both kinds, that slavery in any sense of the word is intrinsically immoral, and that the Mass is not a propitiatory sacrifice, but merely a feast of Divine Union and Thanksgiving. This heresy is followed by all the known barbarians of the east, whom so regularly assault and raid the fringes of the Empire.

The Demetrians of the Woodlands of Vladimir, known as the Silvestrites, are the most abominable. They practice only two sacraments, which they call the "Great Love Feast" and the "Heavenly Union". The former consists of a large orgy they celebrate in the forests every Saturday, while the latter is essentially ritualized incest wherein a male son, upon reaching the age of 15, goes into a large tent decorated with strange sigils and has marital relations with his oldest sister. The Silvestrites are also infamous for their convulsionaries, said to be their holiest figures, who prance around the forest naked begging the "Great Spirit" to induce them into a state of violent convulsion. Once they begin to convulse, those who have been following one of these convulsionaries proceed to prod them with sharpened sticks and pine needles, while chanting in a nonsensical tongue. All of these vile abominations aside, doctrinally their notable errors are a rejection of all hierarchy, a denial of the continued existence of the Church after the time of St. Constantine I, a denial of all moral law whatsoever, rejection of the Most Holy Trinity in favor of a crass Modalism, a belief that the world ended millenia ago, that individuality is an illusion and all people are different incarnations of St. Adam and St. Eve, that St. Adam and St. Eve are themselves merely Manifestations of God, that slavery in any sense of the word is intrinsically immoral, and that the temporal authority has no power given to it by God, but is merely a tool of the Devil.

Thankfully, the Silvestrites are believed to have gone extinct a century after the death of Demetrius; however, even in the present day, mothers in Vladimir warn their children not to explore the forests by themselves, lest deformed beasts carry them away to be inducted into the Silvestrite sect...

Depiction of St. Clemens Augustinus confronting the so called "Demetrian Madonna":

[Excerpt from the Imperial Charter of Settlement to Alexei Petrovich]

...henceforth thou shalt be known as Alexius Petrofilius, and thee and all thy descendents are henceforth of noble and consecrated blood, ordained as such by the providence and predestination of God. Thou art granted full command, to settle, to name, to build, to levy troops, to assist the Church, to regulate trade, and to rule as sovereign over the Duchy of Finland and all it's territory, as a vassal of the Kingdom of Russia and the Holy Roman Empire. This thou art granted by the Most Holy and Most August Emperor and Caesar of the Romans, Isaac VII Hominicus Brigantianus, for the service and defense of the Empire. Be loyal and true to Caesar with every ounce of thy breath and thy life's blood, and Our Lord shalt bless thee and all thy children...

[Excerpt from the Imperial Bull, Ut Pax Ecclesiae]

That the Peace of the Church may continue and prosper, We, the Most August and Most Holy Emperor and Caesar of the Romans, in virtue of the rights bestowed upon us in the Bull Pro Catholica, do grant full ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Archdiocese of Vladimir to His Most Divine Beatitude, the Primate and Archbishop Constantinus VIII of the Great City of Archangelus, Septimiapolis, Colmogorius, Belomorius, all the land of Russia, and all the Empire, Father of Fathers, Shepherd of Shepherds, Prelate of Prelates, thirteenth of the Apostles, and Judge of the Oecumene. From henceforth, the Roman Archbishop of Vladimir no longer answers directly to the Roman Pontiff, but is a subject of the Primate. This bull does not in any way infringe upon the rights of the Russian Arch-Eparchy of Vladimir, which remains under the jurisdiction of the Russian Patriarch of Arkhangelsk...

[Excerpt from the Letter of Duke Theodosius XII of Prussia to the Emperor regarding disturbing rumors]

...I thereafter conversed in Latin with the newly captured slaves, who claimed to be Catholics and noblemen, and yet were covered in filth and unaware of the Council of Arkhangelsk, and they told me that they had fled from a distant and vicious kingdom ruled by a people called the "Maiaei". These "Maiaei", so the slaves claim, currently oppress the Holy Father and faithful Catholics who dwell in distant Holy Rome, and have seized his temporal domain. They live, supposedly, as the first Catholics did: impoverished, poor, and persecuted constantly. I know not the truth of the matter, given the apparent lies they had already told me, but it may be worthwhile to send another expedition to Rome...

[Excerpt from a speech given by Emperor Isaac XII, to the newly founded "Imperial Shield"]

...and so, as the mad followers of the wicked and damned Demetrius increase in their barbaric attacks on the edges of the Empire, it has become necessary that you, brave and noble men of Arkhangelsk, take up arms and steeds to defend against such proud depravity. You are the Shield of the Empire, defending all the souls within her from the servants of the Evil One. You shall serve Us, and all Our successors, to the last drop of your life's blood...

[Excerpt from The Restoration of Sankt-Petrograd, by Schemamonk Boris Andreivich]

...and so, in the Year of Our Lord 4526, on the Feast of the Epiphany, the pious and bold Russian peasants at last completed their labors. Though humble at present, their new hamlet represented a rebirth for the people of Russia. For the first time in millennia, great Sankt-Petrograd was inhabited again, and the sound of Russian children could be heard in its streets. The Emperor granted the leader of the peasants, Istomin Vasilievich, the title "Prince of Sankt-Petrograd", and sovereignty over the newly founded "Free Imperial City of Sankt-Petrograd"...

[Excerpt from the Historia Fidelissima Urbis de Maria Victrix, by Dominican Friar Romulus Antonius]

...arriving suddenly from the south, the barbarians thought themselves capable of triumphing over the most pious and faithful citizens of Urbis de Sanctissima Immaculatissima Beatissima Maria Victrix super turbi infideliae barbarorum. Such insolence is a common mark of barbarians, and a sure sign from providence that slavery is a great mercy to them, for only iron bonds and hard labor can dissolve their wretched pride. Setting a trap in the woodlands, we allowed the barbarians to believe that they had free reign in our lands before, at last, in the dead of night, striking against them. So many slaves were taken by our victorious crusaders, that even the most destitute peasant was able to be granted one out of the immense kindness and magnanimity of Duke Theodosius XVI...

[Excerpt from Introduction to Iter Inter Barbaros, by Marcus Plutarchus]

Dearest reader,

This is a tale of adventure, danger, and unexpected discovery. It is not a tale for the lighthearted, nor for the cowardly. Over the course of my account, you shall learn of faithless Swiss guardsmen living in barbarian villages of the north, of strange pagans who dwell in great longhouses, of the Pillars of Hercules and the sea monsters who live there, of the fate of Genoa and of the Eternal and Holy City of Rome. You shall learn the tale of how the great ship, the Plus Ultra, was sunk by barbarians who live only for human sacrifice; the tale of how I, the lone survivor, swam desperately to shore and roamed the strange lands of the Maiaei for a decade, ever fearful of my life, before at last managing to return to the beautiful Maria Victrix of my birth. It is a journey as vast as that of Ulysses', and just as epic. Now that I have warned you in advance, dear reader, of the great literary expedition you are about to embark on, let us press forward, if you are not weak-hearted...

[Excerpt from the Chronicon Imperialis, commissioned by Emperor Peter IX the Honest, and completed in 5966]

...following this conflict between the two provinces, and its subsequent resolution by the Emperor, both the Duke of Prussia and the Grand Duke of Vladimir would send settler parties into the disputed lands; hoping to gain by influence what they were unable to gain by force of arms. Minsk and its environs were claimed for Vladimir, while Bacovia and its environs would be claimed for Prussia. Thus, the March of Bacovia and the County of Minsk were founded, not as direct vassals of the Emperor and Arkhangelsk, but as direct vassals to Vladimir and Maria Victrix. The authority of the Emperor over the newly claimed lands was diminished as a result, which greatly displeased the Most Holy Trinity; it is no coincidence that the Great Famine of 5871 would begin only four years after the founding of the new cities. It was only after the Duke of Prussia and the Grand Duke of Vladimir signed, at the command of the Emperor, the Golden Bull of 5873 (which settled the border between the two realms) that the famine ended...

[Excerpt from the Treaty of Sankt-Petrograd, which established peace between the Iroquois of Britanny and the Holy Roman Empire]

...accordingly, since we both are enemies of the barbaric and bloodthirsty Maiaei, let us establish peace and friendship between our two peoples. No longer will the Iroquois war with the Romans, nor the Romans with the Iroquois; no longer will the Romans call the Iroquois "barbarorum", nor will the Iroquois call the Romans "sauvages". May irenic prosperity ever blossom between us.

Signed and ratified, in the Year of Our Lord 5966, Petrus IX Honestus Hominicus Brigantianus, Dei Gratia, Augustissimis et Sanctissimis Imperator et Caesar Romanorum, Rex Russiae, Defensor Fidei, Legatus Papae a latere et natus et pro tempore

Signed and ratified, in the Fortieth Year after the founding of the Great Longhouse, Chef des Iroquois et Seigneur de la Grande Maison-Longue, Logan Coeurloup le Unificateur

Map of the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Russia, in the Year 5966:

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Story is on a brief hiatus, as the motherboard on my computer appears to have died this morning - of course, on the day I had scheduled the next update. I have the pictures for the next update on imgur already, and will see if I can format it to my satisfaction from my phone. If I can then the next update will be tomorrow, and the one after that will likely be next week when my replacement pc comes in and I manage to get the needed files off my hard drive. If not, then the next update will be when my replacement comes in.

It'd suck to have to restart the story if worst comes to worst, since I've already played it past victory and was in the process of getting the last few needed screenshots before dumping them all on imgur (O cruel and ironic Fortuna!); but if I can't get the files off my hard drive then I will restart and revise the relevant chapters. I say revise, as the Prologue, Chapter I, and Chapter III will be pretty much the same in the event of a restart, so I will instead just edit Chapter II and IV, not repost them. That shouldn't wind up happening, however, as my hard drive was replaced not too long ago and had been working great. We will see what the future holds.

Just an update for all you lurkers, the story continues! I kind of expected something like this would wind up happening, I'm just glad it's early on and I was prepared. I may be a chronic pessimist, but so far reality has proved it to be a prudent perspective:lol:

My old hard-drive is entirely inoperable, along with the cpu of my laptop. Apparently the motherboard is still fine though, I had misdiagnosed the issue. My replacement pc has come in and after much painstaking effort, I have managed to get civ IV running on windows 11. The story will have to be restarted, which for all practical purposes means Chapter II and IV will be redone, and Chapter III possibly tweaked. I will also be playing on LoR 0.9.9b instead of 0.9.8d+, on prince instead of noble, and with unrestricted leaders on (the Empire will be much better represented as Russia lead by Justinian instead of Peter, and it will make the ai civs more interesting and fitting for the setting).

On the bright side, my laptop should work again once I get a new cpu for cheap.

Thank all of you lurkers for your patience. Expect the next updates in about a week after I've had time to play a decent ways into the new save.
Not an update, that's in the works, but I remembered I had a map of the Empire at the victory date I had made by hand. Figured I'd post it here so as to give some closure before the restart, and context for any throwbacks to the original save.

I did of course play past the victory date, so this isn't entirely how things looked after my rev bonuses from war ran out. I would have to cede the american colonies to some vassals. They stayed under the capitulation limit though, and that's the only land I directly lost. The rest of the world are my vassals.

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