On Green Grass, We Lie: Part 23

Boy oh boy. It’s been… a while, since the last update. My apologies. Life is kicking this king in the backside pretty hard lately, but that won’t stop the Ua Briains from getting into more trouble.

We open spring of 1216 with another random adventurer with a dumb name threatening to steal my lands.

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I am unimpressed.

I am, however, concerned about the developments in my family tree. When I married Princess Aibinn off to the Prince of Hungary a while back I didn’t think about what would happen if my only son, Tristan, dies before I do. Which, God forbid, is totally possible considering our dynasty’s susceptibility to the common cold. The loss of a male heir would leave the kingdom to Aibinn and eventually her son, who is not only Hungarian but not of my bloodline. This occurred in another non-AAR playthrough a while back and it cost me the game.

There’s no way to orchestrate a divorce between Aibinn and Prince Gabor. I take care of business the only way I know how.

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You know what? The Known Murderer thing is worth a little peace of mind knowing the future of my family doesn’t lie with Hungarians. Besides, everyone in Ireland loves me by now: I’m friggin’ old, and rich, and old, and nice to everyone who wasn’t my son-in-law.

Interestingly, my daughter doesn’t seem to mind the blatant assassination of her husband by her father. With an opinion of +52, she happily acquiesces to being shipped off to the household of an Irish courtier with hella good genes. This lack of familial loathing must mean she is not a true Ua Briain. Must’ve been switched at birth or something.

After two years of merry hunts and feasts the adventurer’s army briefly appears in Jerusalem. I say ‘briefly,’ because he is soon stamped into paste by ten thousand angry Irishmen in Acre.

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I lead the weakest flank in an attempt to die in glorious battle, but of course this fails miserably. To add insult to victory, this Saruca character won’t give up a ton of cash if I banish him, unlike his adventuring predecessors. I chop his head off because I can.

God smiles upon this act and decides to bless our dynasty with a little miracle.

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And that’s nothing compared to the miracle that occurs six months later.

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Oohhhhh yisssssssssssss.

January 1224 sees Tristan finally become King of Scotland. He’ll suffer from the usual difficulties that come with being a new ruler, but being male will help minimize any negative opinions among his vassals.. In the meantime he can start collecting Prestige and Piety in preparation for creating the Empire of Britannia when I finally follow Bleija to the grave.

Interestingly enough, Tristan’s opinion of me sits at -9. Coveting the Kingdom of England and being an Ambitious twat more than cancels out our shared Zealousness and familial bonuses. It would only be fitting if my own son was the one to kill me in the end.

I’d be okay with that.

The next few years of agonzing anticipation prove rather uneventful. My court chaplain dies while trying to prosthelytze to some heretical Welsh in Powys. The caliph of Egypt declares a jihad for Sicily, which somehow collapses a few years in. Tristan sires yet another half-French daughter named Ben-Mide. And, randomly, I become incredibly nostalgic for my poor, deceased, crazy-eyed murderous wife.

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Given the choice between lustily wenching the nights away and becoming Depressed and Celibate, I choose the later in an attempt to speed up my own death. I also decide to remarry, finding some voluptuous young thing with excellent Stewardship to keep me my coin purse warm at night.

Then, in a sudden stroke of genius, I realize I can use these last years of my reign to tidy up the realm a bit for my successor.

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A fair few powerful vassals have their own personal plots out in the open; knowing this gives me the chance to arrest a few, keeping them in jail as Tristan takes the throne or, failing that, beating down their rebellions and stripping them of some titles. And even if I die during the middle of an uprising, Tristan will get the opinion bonus for Crushing a Major Revolt. Perfect!

I begin with Duchess Conchenn of Ulaidh, who owns 3/4 of the duchy of Ulster. She responds in the traditional manner.

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While that’s happening my new accountant wife badgers me about wanting a bird. Reluctantly, I dig out the catalog for Birds of Prey, Etc. and order her a cheap buzzard. She is overjoyed.

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A few months later and Duchess Conchenn surrenders. I strip her of her duchy and keep it for myself so that Tristan can inherit and give it to whomever for a massive opinion bonus with that character. Emboldened by this success, I imprison Countess Aethelthryth of Northumberland, then the Duke of York for good measure. That’s northern Ireland and northern England purged of any major nobles that could challenge the Ua Briains.

Before I pick my next target, news of a very interesting development in Iberia catches my eye.

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As it turns out, Aunt Finneacht was the high water mark of Ua Briain rule in Andalusia. The kingdom (and Provence, which is practically grafted onto the Kingdom of Andalusia by now) is absorbed by the King of Castille in a rather one-sided affair against my cousin. Interesting.

After a couple more Just Imprisonments, the vassal map of Ireland/Wales/England looks like this:

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Although Mide is a bit more powerful than I’d like, the rest of the country is fairly well portioned up (and if I remember correctly, Mide is also controlled by a cousin of mine. Another family scrap is not something I want to invite at the moment). I think Tristan should be able to control his own house upon his ascension.

Which, evidently, is something Tristan would like to see sooner than later.

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I’m 69 years old! Impatient much? (I’m so proud of you…)

In 1233, the Hungarian side of the Ua Briain family suffers another tragedy when Orsolya, my granddaughter, dies in childbirth at the age of 18. It takes a Herculean effort to put aside my apathy and write my daughter a sympathy card.

A couple years later, my niece, Seoraid, becomes Queen of Jerusalem after my brother dies. I only mention this because she cuts such an interesting character.

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A Scarred, Craven, Content, Winter Soldier lesbian whose highest score is Learning at 8, Seoraid is a mystery wrapped in a paradox and packaged in a rainbow-colored box. I can think of no better person to rule the Holy Land. Godspeed, young one.

Then, in 1238, the moment we’ve all been waiting for arrives at last.

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Humorously, Tristan immediately fulfills the ambition to Amass Wealth upon inheriting the royal treasury. He thus mounts the throne with 1570 gold, 1409 Prestige, 800 Piety and a demesne of 10/8.

To make things more sweet, somewhere along the line Tristan had a son named Conan, who has by now come of age. I must have forgotten to screenshot that.

This is going to be so fun.

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On Green Grass, We Lie: Part 22

With Osraige situated in the middle of Ireland it takes about a week to invade the county and destroy my aunt’s puny levy. Even better, Osraige appears to be Finneacht’s capital – probably because she thought it safer than her other territories in Spain and Provence.

Heh.

A month later the would-be Empress of Britannia Sansa of Castille dies from (what else?) illness in summer 1206. Before she was able to have any children, too, which is a bummer. I scamper to find a replacement wife for Tristan, eventually betrothing him another courtier, this time a 10 year-old who has claims on a third of France.

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Not as good as Sancha’s claims were, mind, but so far she has great personality traits that line up well with Tristan’s. Hopefully they find true love like the kind I had for Bleija… before I tried to kill her.

In a quest to kill myself as soon as possible, I personally put myself at the head of my army. Rather than losing my life, however, I find my courage instead.

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With little fanfare I capture Osraige, adding it to my admittedly undersized demesne and sufficiently pissing off my aunt so she won’t bother me ever again.

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Karma’s a real bitch sometimes, innit?

A couple more years go by, slowly. Just for fun I try giving a sermon at mass but one of my courtiers falls asleep, earning my ire and causing me to hole up in my chambers gorging on Netflix and ice cream for three straight days (I have a fragile ego, okay?!). Also, unbelievably, France is still fighting its heretics:

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That warscore has been sitting at 60% for over ten years. And check out those incompetent ruler maluses! I’m thinking France may not be too hard for Tristan to conquer someday.

Then, just when I’m about to defenestrate myself out of sheer boredom:

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…Again?

*sigh*

Okay…

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Jerusalem is like a bad penny; I can’t seem to lose it for long. And because I’m still technically “king in exile” of Jerusalem, it all defaults to me if the Christians prevail.

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Don’t worry; I’m not going to keep it this time. Also, I’m treating this as a great chance to commit suicide by crusade.

And, as chance would have it:

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Wait. This is not what I had in mind.

Prison Diary – September 30, 1210

Where did it all go wrong? Everything was going so well. One moment you’re riding the high of slaying 14,000 guy and laying siege to Sur, then the next you’re waking up in a pit that smells strongly of camel dung, sharing a straw bed next to a sweaty (but nice enough) guy named Yassuf.

God, this place is hotter than the flaming tit of Lucifer. How do people even live here? I long for the cold, dreary castle and wet green grass of True Civilization. After all, you can always add layers to keep warm, but you can only take so many clothes off to keep cool… especially when you catch Yassuf looking at you *that* way.

But if I die here – Lord Jesus please make it sooner than later – I pray only one thing comes true: that Jerusalem becomes my brother’s problem, and not my son’s.

This place sucks giant donkey balls.

-end of entry

With my unfortunate capture I’ve lost all power over many of my affairs. Caliph Mehtar seems to be savoring the moment: despite my having the funds, he won’t accept a ransom.

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Ah well. I’ll just have to sit out the remainder of the Crusade. I *should* be released when we win (?)

In the meantime, Tristan takes over as regent. Time for some real driving lessons, son!

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Luckily our glorious armies bounce back from that little ambush in Acre and wipe the floor with the infidels.

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Amazing how well these things go when the full weight of Christendom is behind us. Even Bleija is doing something right.

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Pictured: a rare glimpse of Scottish competence

I send my wife a letter, commending her on her first positive contribution to our marriage since Tristan was conceived. For some reason she reacts strongly to this.

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Fair play, wife. I guess I could have worded that a little better. And not sent an assassin after you a while ago. Good thing I’m in a smelly ditch somewhere in Cairo; her hired men will never find me here. Checkmate!

While I’m languishing and learning how to play Seega with my new buddy Yassuf, Irish and Scottish forces are positively carrying the entirety of the Third Crusade.

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And before too long, in the immortal words of Walter Cronkite: that’s the whole ball game.

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Yes… victorious. That is what I am. Not only did I NOT DIE when I spent two years sharing a Turkish toilet with a very smelly man, but upon release I was awarded the most conflict-ridden piece of land on the planet.

But at least I won.

I keep the counties of Jerusalem and Acre for myself. The rest are divied up between my vassals in such a way as to keep them at each others’ throats and not at mine. Then I do the responsible thing and gift the kingdom title to my brother Tressach. Hands = washed.

Then we all board our ships and sail home. I carefully make sure to board a different ship than my wife and her men. Just in case.

Celebrating my newfound freedom I organize a grand hunt upon returning to Ireland, whereupon I bravely euthanize my own horse after it breaks its leg. The Knights Templar ask to establish a castle in Acre, and I’m all like, “yeah, sure” and get 100 Piety for my not-so trouble.

In 1214 Tristan and his French wife give birth to their first child, a daughter named Ellbreig. That’ll be a fun -10 diplomacy malus for Female Heir when he takes over. And a year later I discover that my nemesis and aunt, Queen Finneacht Ua Briain, has died of consumption at age 66.

Which is so sad. SO SAD.

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At her funeral, I be like:

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Which is not to compare Finneacht to Nelson Mandela.

She was just the worst.

 

On Green Grass, We Lie: Part 22

Sun Tsu says “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

I think what my dawg S. Tizzy is trying to say is we should first check the ledger before making any decisions.

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Here’s the thing: Ua Briains only surrender territory if it is absolutely, 100% necessary for self-preservation. Anything less than that and we fight ‘til the cows come home.

Or rather, ‘til the crows come home. Because the corpses. From battle. Crows eat corp- okay you know what let’s just do this thing.

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As all the Irishmen of the realm load up in boats I raise the Jerusalem levy and reconnoiter the ground. Things do not look promising. Some 16,000 jihadists make themselves known in the Sinai and begin crossing into Christian territory. It’s going to take some serious tactical genius to break down their numbers and hope that other nations that follow The One True Faith will join my struggle.

Speaking of other Christians, I suddenly remember that Holy Orders are a thing. With all dat Piety in the bank I bet they’d be chuffed to join up!

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Like a turd, the King of France has monopolized the services of the Templars and the Hospitaliers. And just to fight some stupid inconsequential war against heretics in his own kingdom that he could surely win without hired help. I guess we’ll just have to wait until they’re freed up.

Okay, who else wants to join?

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Not the allies I was hoping for, but alright. The Danes had long since overthrown my uncle, but that fact and the fact that they’re currently embroiled in another civil war isn’t stopping them from paying lip service joining the defense of Jerusalem.

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Alfonso of Castille flips me the metaphorical bird, eager to admit that he cares more for the invading infidel jihadists more than me… I’ll just chalk this up to him being too busy with another war and not read into things too much.

I then turn around and extend the same finger toward my aunt Finneacht, who has the gall to ask for my help against the Almoravids seeking to reclaim Seville.

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At this point, I’m fairly convinced that her only remaining purpose in life is to cost me Prestige at every opportunity.

In the meantime, the Irish Band I’ve already hired begins putting the finishing touches on the last Scottish rebellion, leaving me free to focus my strength on our Muslim adversaries. In May, 7000 Irish reach the Nile Delta where they disembark and ambush 1300 of the enemy.

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Then, with the bravery sung by every bard in the land for generations, they bravely scamper back onto the ships before they can get spanked by 14,500 or more Muslims who track back across the Sinai.

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Some 35,000 bad guys are now in the region, quite a bit more than the ledger led me to believe was possible. As such, guerilla warfare is going to be our bread and butter until the Holy Orders can reinforce us to fight the doomstacks.

A similarly lopsided victory at Masada inches the warscore up to a morale-boosting 1%.

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More good news arrives from Rome, where Pope Something Something XII does his damn job and finally commits to defending Christendom. Hopefully his 6000 troops can join with mine or, failing that, at least not make a hash of things like past papal expeditionary forces are wont to do.

As 1188 dawns Irish forces are still massing off the coast, probing for more hit-and-run opportunities. Unfortunately for us, the clever jihadists begin splitting their forces in such a way to avoid attrition while still keeping their stacks close enough together to quickly reinforce themselves if need be. Since we’re outnumbered 2:1, there’s not much we can do but wait.

Before long, castles in the south of my Holy Kingdom begin to fall.

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Muslim forces have swollen to over 50,000 in total, while the warscore rapidly reaches 19% after several early year sieges. Something must be done soon, and we need to get creative.

The last the of the Irish forces arriving in the Mediterranean, some 3500 men from Brittany, are diverted from the Sea of Palestine to split up and lay siege to the island of Malta and Kerkent in southern Sicily, both possessions of the Egyptian caliph. Despite my manpower shortage in the Middle East, these sieges will help counter the warscore inevitably ticking upward in favor of the enemy.

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The rest of my army lands in Pelusia at the mouth of the Nile to lure 13,000 Muslims away from the siege in Negin. We set up a defensive position along the Nile and hope the defensive bonus and our superior numbers will win the day. As battle commences in May 1188, 5700 Muslims are rerouted to reinforce their brethren. I only hope to do enough damage to kill off the main army before they are reinforced!

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Initially the battle goes well –we overrun the left flank and begin to hammer away at the center of their army just as our morale begins to run low across all flanks. But just before a full rout can be achieved the reinforcing column arrives to bail out the whole host.

What follows is less than ideal.

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Well, we tried.

After losing nearly all of nearly all the troops at my disposal, the warscore rockets to an alarming 46% in Caliph Mehtar’s favor. A veritable cascade of successful Muslim sieges follows over the next few months, and while I am able to successfully capture some castles in the Mediterranean it does little to staunch the bleeding. Meanwhile, the Pope’s forces were predictably butchered south of Acre, the Danes have yet to show up, and the Holy Orders are still tied up fighting the longest conflict in France since the Hundred Years War. FML!

The only bright spot of the year is Bleija giving birth to a son, whom we name Tristan. I sincerely hope he does not inherit family’s Holy War business.

In April 1189, I decide to face facts.

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Shoulda listened to Z-Z-Z’s advice in the first place. But you know what they say: prideth before the falleth, and all that.

After slinking back home in ignominious defeat I begin the rebuilding process. Predictably, two or three factions crop up seeking to lower Crown Authority and other annoying things, but with the right combination of bribes and flattery I’m able to nip them in the bud. My daughter turns six and I hand her off to be educated by my brother Tressach, who is a very Cynical but talented Grey Eminence. I attempt to vassalize Scotland, but realizing that Bleija is a queen and thus equal in rank as me, that’s not how things work. Speaking of my wife: Bleija manages to allow yet another revolt break out in Scotland as soon as I return from the Orient. With my exasperated help it is crushed in a few months.

Boredom overcomes me, though this period of respite is probably the best thing to happen to Ireland in a long time. Long overdue infrastructure improvements finally get funded. I find joy in hunting and cowering in fear from the white stag of the forest, watching my children grow up, and laughing merrily at the disintegration of Aunt Finneacht’s Andalusian realm by Moors, the Doge of Pisa and my vassals who own land in Iberia. Ah, how nice to not be the one with the bullseye painted on my back for a change!

Also, three years after the end of the jihad:

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How long are you planning to let this heresy thing play out, France? Even my wife isn’t that incompetent.

With little else to do, I organize a grand tournament and watch as knights from all over Ireland bash each other over the head. A guy died. A bunch of nobodies get first, second and third, much to my disappointment, but the important thing is that everybody loves me for hosting the tournament. Then I tinker around with falconry, but the bird store sent me the wrong bird, one that must have been fed a steady diet of steroids and anger.

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That is the last time I’m shopping at Discount Falcons Ltd. Probably. Also, given the option between gaining the horrible Depressed trait and a bonus to Diplomacy, how many people choose the former?

In 1194 Prince Tristan turns six, and he’s educated by my bamf of a brother, who is more skilled than I am, scarily enough. Good thing he’s a knob and I’m the king.

Now, before you all shake your heads at me, I’m going to preface this next bit just a little. When there isn’t a war going on, we Ua Briains tend to get a little ornery. Some say the very first of our clan was given a sword as a pacifier, and as wee lad he chopped the tail off the family pig to use it as a Slinky.  Ever since, even the Kindest of Ua Briain rulers (like myself) have a roiling bloodlust always lurking below the surface of our conscious. And in peacetime, we tend to do… dumb things to compensate for the lack of violence.

Now that you are thus enlightened, you might have a better understanding of the following screenshot.

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I’m not trying to justify myself here, but I do want to explain that I somehow got it in my head that my wife needed to die. Something about getting my son on the Scottish throne sooner than later, even though it’d be a dangerous regency and I’d lose control of him, and I could get a new wife, one with better Stewardship… I don’t know. The point is, I failed, got caught, and Bleija didn’t care too much for me from then on.

She then punishes me by mismanaging her realm so badly that for some four years there’s never not a revolt happening. And because I really want my son to inherit all of the kingdoms someday, I keep bailing her stupid ass out.

It’s after the turn of the thirteenth century that I turn 40 and my eldest daughter dies of illness at the age of 19. All in the same week, too.

I begin to contemplate my own mortality and weigh my boredom against the need to safeguard the realm for the next generation, who will hopefully form the empire our family has been dreaming about forever. In the end, I’m content with King Pilib being a placeholder monarch; his only legacy will be gaining and immediately losing Jerusalem.

In summer 1195 my daughter Aibinn turns 16 and starts to complain about not being married.

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Tired of her nagging I spirit her away to Hungary. Two years later my younger daughter Muirne reaches majority and is married to a courtier in Castrobarte who somehow has claims to both Castille and Galicia. In retrospect I should have pressed for a matrilineal marriage so Tristan could press her kids’ claims down the road, but oh well.

Several years of crushing peasant revolts and irate Scotsmen follow, which is about as exciting as it sounds. I start wishing for an early death to just give the throne to Tristan already, but remember he’s only 15 and I don’t trust another Ua Briain to be regent in his stead. But in summer 1204:

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As you can probably tell, Diplomacy is probably my favored stat to improve. Not only do you get blanket better relations with all other characters, but special options during random events – say, casually ignoring vassals’ demands for certain things – comes in handy all the time.

Learning from my mistakes, I marry my strapping future Emperor into House Jimena by way of Princess Sancha, who holds claims on Castille and Galicia. It’s not outside the realm of possibility to create a second empire in Hispania someday.

But for now, I have to put up with this $#@%:

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No joke, my aunt has cost me at least 500 Prestige by way of incessant demands ever since she stole Andalusia decades ago. I’m tired of it.

Hey… she does still own a couple counties in Ireland… maybe I don’t have to spend the twilight years of my reign putting up with this nonsense after all…

Say, what’s the prestige hit for declaring war on an ally?

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Worth it.

PartOn Green Grass, We Lie: Part 21

Let’s take a look at the shape of Ireland as it now stands in 1179:

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It goes without saying that our base of power lies in the British Isles, but even after shedding some discontent territories we still have Brittany, Palestine and extensive lands in Iberia, including the as-yet-unformed Kingdom of Portugal. I dole out our new Middle East possessions to family members, careful to create a balance of power between my brothers and uncles so no one Ua Briain starts getting delusions of usurpy grandeur.

With that done, it’s obvious what our next move should be.

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As you can imagine, it took me all of five seconds between signing the peace treaty with the Egyptian sultan and declaring war on King Radulf of Scotland to press my wife’s claim on his kingdom. Radulf is currently losing pretty bad to a factions seeking lower Crown Authority, with the warscore sitting at 70% in their favor. There’s also a rather more minor revolt in the Isles of the Minch. So I’m getting in on this action while the getting’s good.

As my levies mobilize to march on the Scottish border, my wife plops out our first progeny.

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I’m of two minds about this news. Yay for having a direct heir; boo for it being a girl. Now I’m saddled with a Female Heir opinion malus just as I’m beginning an offensive war. Great.

To make myself feel better I call in the King Alfonso V of Castille and Galicia as an ally. In response, Radulf brings in the relatively weak King of Norge.

Eight thousand Irish settle down to siege southern Scotland while I keep a close eye on developments within my kingdom. Beorthric Gutierresson, a cousin of mine, is murdered at the hands of the mayor of Aonach Urmhumhan – considering I didn’t know I this cousin existed this isn’t much cause for concern. The Knights Templar create the first of many new castles in Jerusalem. Also, Earl Ewan of Strathearn tries to forge a claim on one of my titles and I fail to kill him in retaliation.

Two years and three occupied counties later the warscore sits at a stubborn 64%. And there aren’t any Scottish armies to beat down to expedite things, because the Scots are terrible at this game and they hate me.

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In the meanwhile the protests of my vassals gradually grows more shrill as their armies stay longer and longer in the field.

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So much so that the first real challenge to Pilib’s reign manifests in the court of Duke Dubgenn “the Wicked” of Connacht.

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Now, in the past I’d just murder his ass, but the Ua Briains have been burned by that tactic too many times before. Rather than risk yet another ruler burdened by the Known Murderer penalty so early in his reign, I ship my wicked duke a mahogany chest packed with 300 gold. It’s a steep price to purchase his loyalty, but my coffers are presently overflowing and can take the hit.

In November 1182, another member of my dynasty dies, this one a bit closer to home.

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God Almighty. Evidently someone has bought up all the good assassins in the realm and is unleashing them on my family. It’s enough to make me a little nervy. I decide to build a pillow fort around my four poster bed and sleep with a Glock under my pillow for the forseeable future.

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Finally, in April 1183, Irish forces storm Inverness. I’m able to force a peace with King Radulf, who reluctantly hands over Scotland to my wife Blaeja.

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Woohoo! My daughter is the confirmed heir for both Ireland and Scotland, so everything is good and set as the succession is concerned. And of course, my wife inherits the rather weak civil wars of Scotland, but that’s no bother. After those are wrapped up, I can vassalize her lands and form the Empire my family has dreamed about for over a century!

Naturally my wife requests Irish arms in putting down her rebellion.

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Seeing that she’s my wife, and I just want my damn crown of Britannia already, I guess I can spare some men to help her out.

A little luck seems to help things along in the winter, when a rebel leader dies of old age.

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That just leaves the other revolt which enjoys a mere 5% warscore against my wife. No matter. Strange that I’m not at war with that faction… again, no matter. I’ll just text my wife and ask to join her w-

Your wife, Blaeja, has arrived at your court.

Come again for Big Fudge?

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OH, COME ON!

For some inexplicable, rage-inducing reason, Blaeja folds against the remaining Scottish revolt and flees the country before I can join the war. I don’t know what happened. Maybe the AI ran a calculation and found that, since Blaeja couldn’t raise many if any new levies after so recently being installed as Queen, it was better to cut and run? C’mon girl! I thought was the Craven one in this family!

At any rate, a guy named Richard is now King of Scotland. So I’ll have to declare war AGAIN and conquer Scotland AGAIN on behalf of my darling bride. *sigh*.

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After resacking several Scottish counties, the warscore climbs very quickly in our favor. Rather annoyingly, just before we force a peace, another revolt breaks out in Scotland, this time against Richard’s reign. This means that we’ll have to do the same old song and dance of revolt-crushing when Blaeja retakes the throne.

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Late 1186 witnesses the inevitable outcome of Irish might versus Scottish enervation.

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Wasting no time, I join the war against the rebels. At the new year I even hire the Irish band to storm some holdings speed along their demise. With Irish forces already in action in Scotland, there’s no way we’ll have a repeat surprise surrender like last time.

After just a couple months, the warscore against the rebels is at 38%. Finally, at long last, the prize is within our grasp.

But, because it’s me:

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On Green Grass, We Lie: Part 20

With Darren’s death, the Irish crusaders are left standing around, decidedly not crusading.

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Upon reincarnation as my son Pilib the first thing I do is email the pope and ask to rejoin the crusade. At the very least our new king can pick up the Crusader trait.

Within a week, I receive the pope’s reply.

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Woohoo!

And as a bonus:

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Looks like Pilib inherits Darren’s warscore after all! Which I suppose makes sense, if you think about it – a ruler’s contribution to a war doesn’t simply disappear with the death of the ruler unless the casus belli is invalidated entirely. And since the Crusade has a casus belli external to King Darren, and seems to depend on nations pitching in rather than characters, Pilib simply steps into his dad’s shoes like nothing happened to and inherits the full responsibility of Ireland’s war contribution.

Looks like I’m still leading the pack for the Kingdom of Jerusalem! My relief is soon tempered by some news on the home front.

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After holding on to it for probably far too long, I’m finally forced to give up the crown of Andalusia. The Short Reign penalties end up being too much for my established vassals, and this Finneacht for Andalusia faction is too much to contend with while my strength is tied up in Palestine.

Ultimately this isn’t a huge deal, as I still control a good chunk of southern Iberia through other vassals. And since it’s my aunt Finneacht who gets the kingdom, it stays within the dynasty (for the time being, at least). Perhaps I’ll be able to reabsorb Andalusia when I become an Emperor someday?

Before we turn back to the war at hand, let’s get acquainted with our new protagonist.

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Pilib is Kind, Zealous, Just, Shy, a part-time Crusader and full-time Underhanded Rogue. He’s thoroughly poor-to-mediocre in everything, which isn’t ideal. I need to start breeding some talent into the Ua Briain bloodline.

Speaking of which, because Pilib only just reached majority, I didn’t have time to find him a wife before Darren bought the farm. Time to fix that.

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While just a courtier and not particularly talented, Blaeja nonetheless has claims to Lothian and SCOTLAND 🙂 🙂 🙂 Looks like that breeding program will have to wait a generation – the Ua Briains have been after Britannia for too long to pass up this golden opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Holy Land is locked in a bitter clash of attrition, with forces of roughly equal strength grinding each other down as the Christians gradually see their advantage slip away. Perhaps ironically, the Pope commands the largest force in the area – ironic because he pissed away four thousand troops earlier in the year and now has another four thousand sitting on their thumbs during a siege while they could easily take out the infidel forces swirling around them in open battle.

Being a rather more decisive leader than the Vicar of Christ, I abandon a siege and take the fight to a thousand Muslims in Jerusalem. They are reinforced by three thousand of their brethren from the west, decidedly tilting the battle against the Irish. Then, with a strategic acumen completely unknown to papal forces to date, the Holy See abandons his siege west of the Dead Sea to bail my ass out.

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The Pope’s men arrive just as my flanks being to collapse.

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It’s barely a victory, and a costly one at that… but it’s a victory nonetheless. The papal forces pursue the routed enemy while I march south to Beersheb, hoping to tuck in a quick siege before another doomstack comes bearing down on us. I’m eager to end this Crusade quickly, for many reasons. Not the least of which is that Scotland has recently descended into civil war.ck2_27.png

This means I can trigger my new wife’s weak claim on the Scottish throne!

If only I wasn’t tied up in this stupid other thing…

In the meantime I nip a few factions in the bud by granting honorary titles and sending my Chancellor and Spymaster to flatter/intimidate as needed. And I random an Emir for a whopping 145 gold, who sends a hilariously insulting acceptance note as a the cherry on top.

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The following months demonstrate a rare condition of karmic balance for my reign. News of a peasant revolt in Cill Dara is balanced out by news that my wife is pregnant with the newest Ua Briain spawn. Gaining the Craven trait by not directly leading my Crusading army is offset by another good laugh, this time at the expense of my Aunt, the newly-promoted Queen of Andalusia, who seems to be in a spot of bother regarding her new ill-gotten station.

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The penalty of 100 Prestige is a small price for the sweet satisfaction of flipping her the bird and leaving her to her fate.

After a successful siege of a town in Beersheb the Crusade’s warscore shoots back up to 94%. Furthermore, the Pope has brought in some hefty reinforcements: some 10,000 Catholic guys are prancing around wrecking havoc. Then, in late April 1179, I celebrate the successful siege of Darum and the conclusion of the Second Crusade for Jerusalem.

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Fulfilling the Paragon of Virtue ambition like a year after selecting it is a nice feeling. So does getting 5000 Prestige. And 2500 Piety. And a free kingdom. And being called King Pilib the Great. And all this before my 18th birthday.

I think Pilib is off to a good start.

On Green Grass, We Lie: Part 19

Well, [expletive].

As a Known Murderer, Kinslayer and an Excommunicated SOB, general opinions of me have hit record lows. I’m more unpopular than any Irish monarch ever. With this in mind, I decide to make some drastic changes to keep the ship of state from capsizing entirely.

The Danes have been in a near-constant state of discontent since I delivered their beleaguered nation from the burdens of independence. They’ve never pushed for an all-out revolt, but a couple factions are now getting close. So, to save myself the trouble, I’m doing the noble thing: put my half-brother in charge of the kingdom and cast him off with a smile and a wave.

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Aside from deflecting popular anger at someone else, this decision also has the benefit of repairing relations with the closest pretender to the throne. This is especially prudent in the wake of the recent Kinslaying. So… Godspeed, Clydog!

I’ll likely do the same with the Kingdom of Andalusia and give it to a tangential member of the Ua Briain dynasty; for now, though, I’d like to keep hold of that title until things reach critical mass.

In summer 1162 the war with the Welsh ends and Glamorgan is mine. I promptly turn around and give it to one of the faction leaders whose name I can’t remember but was probably about to rebel.

For all the good it does me. Shortly after, my English vassals come to me with an ultimatum.

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NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE. NOT GONNA FIGHT THAT BATTLE. Given the choice between half of my kingdom revolting and lowering Crown Authority, I choose to run and fight another day.

Before I receive any more ultimatums I need to repair my public image however I can. It’s time to pull out the big guns and force my soul back into heaven with the universal sign of repentance.

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Abs: solved. Unfortunately, the pope is still not convinced to open the doors of the Church to me quite yet, but this is a big step in getting there. I dispatch both my Chancellor and Chaplain to Rome in order to fully win over the Holy See. But, in a break with tradition from my predecessorss’ cabinets, they do nothing but convince minor Roman nobles and bishops of my virtues while completely ignoring the Pope. Idiots.

Nearly a year later, our old friend finally comes back for some more pain.

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Heh. This time I call my father-in-law, the King of France, into war. I need to preserve as many of my own troops as I can to keep my peeps from revolting. Besides, the sooner this thing ends the sooner I can get back to my horrible life.

Exasperatingly, Sa’d calls the Hammadids into his war yet again. They content themselves by sieging the relatively unimportant Balearic Islands, while Sa’d himself lands with nearly seven thousand adventurers in Provence. Unfortunately for him, he is soon met by the full might of the French army.

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That poor bastard. And I thought I had bad luck.

While Sa’d is getting curb stomped in Provence, I notice a severe reduction in the amount of people actively trying to separate my head from my body.

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Only three factions?!?! It’s enough to make me consider just continuing the adventurer war indefinitely: never concluding a peace but still drawing on the fabulous opinion bonus. Definitely tempting. But in a rare flash of conscience, I suppress the urge to cheat the system and instead banish Sa’d yet again, pilfering 525 gold from his seemingly bottomless purse in the process.

While goofing around the Intrigue screen, I notice a formerly-unnoticed option:

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Sigh… there goes my biennial tax return. Also, I’m beginning to suspect that the medieval Catholic Church is running some kind of salvation racket up in here.

 

Now that I’m back in the warm bosom of the One True Faith, let’s take a look at where we stand in relation to things.

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I like to use the military vassal tab and sort by strength – this gives a rough idea of how your most powerful vassals regard you in any given moment. Here, things have considerably improved since I splashed out a considerable fortune to lift the excommunication. It’s nice seeing some green numbers on this screen for a change.

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After similarly sorting the global ledger by strength I find myself sixth in the world. Which, considering my relatively tenuous position, the fact that only 99 years have passed in-game, and my start location was in bloody Ireland… well, things could certainly be worse.

Some months pass with little excitement. I throw a grand feast that further improves my relations with most of my vassals – excluding the ones that don’t show up (coughprickscough). I succumb to illness but only for a few weeks, which hopefully says something about the improving immune systems of the Ua Briain bloodline. That spoiled brat Duke Roucen of Granada/Provence – the guy who owes everything to King Seamus and has been a thorn in the side of our dynasty ever since – comes whining about some vassalage transfer, but I gently rebuff him with my mad diplomatic skillz.

In April 1165, feeling on firm-ish footing, I declare war on King Lodin of Norge for the county of Cornwall, which is de jure part of England. While this is a relatively straightforward affair, another simultaneous conflict catches my attention.

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Now, just bear with me on this one. If you remember, Countess Lorna is the successor to Aelfgar the Black, former nemesis and onetime king and duke of England. After inheriting the sometime revolting blob in northern England she has been vigorously pressing her neighbors to acquire more territory. Her latest victim is King Clydog of Denmark, who, until recently, still owned the county of Teviotdale as a secondary title; Teviotdale happens to border Lorna’s power bloc, and she somehow got a claim on it.

Normally I’d object to an Ua Briain losing out on some territory, but this is kinda sweet. Lorna’s conquests fall under my jurisdiction, so I just got back one county that will count towards the eventual Emperor title that I still hope to forge one day.

Tl;dr – Lorna’s totally my bro right now.

With Cornwall acquired after little fuss in March 1167, that puts me at 51 counties – only three away from the holy grail!

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Assuming I’m holy enough to afford the 400 piety to create the Empire to begin with. In fact, to help that little detail along, I take up celibacy as a hobby.

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It’s… not as fun as it sounds. Well, actually, it’s exactly as fun as it sounds.

The next five years blur by in a whirlwind of extreme boredom. After fabricating a claim on Clydesdale I yoink another county from Scotland (just two more to go!). The Steward of Lothian defects to my court, bringing with him a claim to said Scottish county that I will activate when the truce expires. Between four and six factions linger on, but, since none of them can muster over 50% of the manpower I have at my disposal, it feels like a friggin’ vacation from worry.

A famous writer comes to me and offers to write the history of the Ua Briains – for the hefty fee he charged, I can scarcely hope he uploaded the whole story onto a niche thread in the forums of a game developer’s website. Also, my son contracts consumption, the Cathar heresy pops up in Cill Dara and another peasant revolts manifests in Cornwall. So, ya know, all in all a pretty typical run for the Ua Briains.

Then, just when all seemed bland:

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Well, sign me up, Pope. This place is LAMESAUCE and I need a vacation. Of course, I’m not actually expecting to win this thing, but the Crusader trait and getting on the Pope’s good side are too nice for an opportunist faithful Catholic like me to pass up.

Twenty-five hundred doods, my least favorite vassals and myself leave for the land Grandma Sadb got so sick of like 50 years ago. We get there in August ’74, sword in hand. Fortunately for us, our fellow crusaders actually have their shiz together this time.

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My merry Irish band marches straight for Jerusalem. For some reason our fellow Christians are busy sieging less important targets, so I get the place all to myself. Unbeknownst to me, you actually get some pretty cool benefits from sacking the castle of Jerusalem.

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Fifty Prestige and a gore bath for being the first guy to enter the Holy City! Booyah!

And the craziest thing about it?

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Seriously? This Crusade is almost over and the bored Irish king with little more than a bodyguard has a chance to beat out about 14,000 other Christians for the ultimate prize?

This optimism is tempered a tad by some stupid occurrence back home.

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Because of some convoluted inheritance thingy hitherto concealed from my knowledge, Oxfordshire becomes Scottish, setting me back two counties further from Britannia!

Curses! With nothing to do but take out my rage on people who hold another religious belief system, I do just that. A series of costly victories catapults the Crusade up to a 95% warscore. However, just as we begin to have thoughts of a Christian Holy Land, a massive doomstack arrives in Acre and begins to chase us around the Dead Sea.

Hmmm. I remember Dad telling me stories of how Grandma Sadb was once in the same boat. However, as I am less inclined to repeat the mistakes of my predecessors, I keep in mind the strategic big picture and run toward my allies in an attempt to combine and score the decisive victory. But to my great annoyance, another Muslim column attacks the Danes just as I look to combine with the Pope’s men and take a stand against the doomstack.

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As my army joins with the Danes and easily beats the smaller Muslim force, the Pope’s army stupidly decides to continue their siege before getting obliterated by the doomstack.

This is hilarious until I notice that our warscore decreases to 89% and now the Christians are outnumbered by infidels. I and a few squads of Crusader allies retreat south to the Sinai where the mountainous terrain might help us survive the imminent clash.

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What follows is one of the most glorious defeats in the history of Irish arms.

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I mean, we definitely lost. But it was a good loss, you know? Like, we put a dent in ’em before they butchered us.

I disband the retreating force before they all die. As only 600 survivors sail home to the Emerald Isle, my son, Pilib, comes of age and becomes an Underhanded Rogue. Since he’s the first Ua Briain to not focus on the Diplomacy track, I’m not sure what kind of expectations to hold for him.

Undeterred by my son’s brash rejection of tradition and the ability of Muslims to kill all my doods, I double down on the Crusade. After accidentally almost winning this thing and becoming the savior of Christendom yet again, we gotta get closure on this thing. And because world domination.

Twelve thousand Irish arrive in late July 1177, six months after the Battle of Sharm El-Sheikh. After ambushing a smaller stack of 3000 Muslims and routing them at the cost of only 88 men, we maneuver into a confrontation with the doomstack that killed us previously. It’s a clash of even numbers, but I hold the high ground and deploy some truly awesome generals on the flanks.

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What follows is one of the more epic victories in the history of Irish arms.

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Warscore is 98%, but the Caliph isn’t folding until I get the full 100. Just one more captured holding, one more battle, and this place and a metric buttload of Piety and Prestige are ALL MINE.

Then:

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Q7jRhOG - Imgur

 

On Green Grass, We Lie: Part 18

As I lay dying in a puddle of my own brain matter, there’s a bit of confusion over who the regent should be.

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I’m not quite sure what causes this mix up or even who the designated regent is, but then again, with my skull caved in and my medulla oblongata working at roughly 1% capacity, I’m not quite sure about much of anything. All I know is that my vassals seem to like me much more when I’m barely clinging to life.

Anyway, the whole episode is incredibly traumatic for anyone who doesn’t owe me fealty – so much so that my daughter suddenly dies from chronic despair.

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That’s 4/7 kids dead before me, which is incredibly selfish of them. I’m the one doing all the work here! They can at least have the decency to wait for me to go first before joining me in Catholic heaven.

At the very least, the war with Scotland progresses well in my absence, with an 87% warscore before any holdings are captured. Who knows, maybe I can linger on until it concludes? Nothing would bring me more joy than seeing Scotland bend its knee to me as I laugh and Laugh and LAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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Hi, I’m Darren, King Seamus’ second son and far and away the best king Ireland will ever see!

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Seamus expanded the realm and put up more points than the previous two rulers combined, but I think I’ve got the stuff to improve upon this. I’m Cynical, Kind, Content, Gregarious and Wrothful as all get out, which overall isn’t a bad spread. I’m a Grey Eminence too, so even if I’m an average guy in everything else my Diplomacy is off da hook. And good thing, too; as a new king with a female heir who’s inherited Medium Crown Authority across the realm, I’m not the most popular guy.

Right off the bat I give my old Duchy of Gwynedd to my half-brother and pretender to the throne, Prince Gabriel. Since he’s only 5, that should keep him busy when he grows up and sufficiently ingratiated to me to prevent any trouble (hopefully).

So now we’re three weeks into my reign. How’s the state of the realm look?

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These guys don’t waste any time, do they? Fortunately, my six most powerful vassals are split in their opinions, with half remaining pretty loyal while the other half would rather I give them all the things.

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Then, in an interesting twist:

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I’m not entirely sure but I think this guy was one of the former caliphs in southern Iberia before Seamus came in and ruined his life. Now he’s getting revenge on Darren, gathering troops to take what he mistakenly thinks is his.

But in, like, two years, though. So I’ve got time to prepare. In the meantime, 1159 opens as the war with Scotland concludes in my favor, granting me a shiny new county.

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That puts the Ua Briains at 50 counties in the British Isles, a mere six away from our coveted Empire title. THE DREAM IS STILL ALIVE, PEOPLE.

I give the new county to my older half-brother, Clydog, so he can stop pestering me for a title. Also, because I control four out of the six counties of Wales I can make a new Welsh kingdom. It uses up all the piety I currently have, but I’ll be able to press de jure claims for the other two counties there.

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Unfortunately, the petty king Muirschertach the Old presides over those two counties with a fierce independence and won’t voluntarily vassalize himself to me. Not a big deal. I would go ahead and declare war on him now, but with the list of factions now at seven and growing, and the imminent adventurer invasion, Muirschertach can wait.

A few months later some random guy comes to me to intercede on behalf of the imprisoned Niall the Unready, begging for his release. I laugh in his face before stopping a moment to consider.

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Hmmm… with only two counties Niall is scarcely a threat, and the +10 opinion bonus for mercy could be helpful… alright, fine. But if he steps out of line for one second, I will murder his stupid ass with extreme prejudice.

In spring 1160, the Muslim adventurer finally scrapes together enough men for an attack on Andalusia.

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He also pulls in Sultan an-Nasir of the Hammadid Sultanate, which is directly across the Mediterranean in North Africa. With no idea how many troops I can expect on the opposing team, 10,000 of my men and those of my most loyal vassals set sail for Iberia. En route, I learn that the antipapal war with the Holy Roman Empire – the one King Seamus was nominally a part of – ended in a white peace. Looks like the Kaisers finally got their crap together after nearly a century of underperforming.

While this outcome probably isn’t ideal for the health of the Catholic Church, it doesn’t stop the pope from doling out free candy to his faithful flock.

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Thanks buddy! At only 49 Piety, I consider myself lucky he even noticed me. I also get a massive temporary +50 opinion boost from my vassals, since we’re technically Defending Against Foreigners. That should help put any plots and factions on hold while I get Sa’d sorted.

Sa’d’s sizable host appears in Andalusia, split between three uneven columns – no doubt to avoid attrition. Calling up a few local levies I position my army between 2600 men in the east and those still crossing the Straits into Europe.

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After smashing that column with little fanfare, I collect more reinforcements and march toward Gibraltar, where Sa’d and his men seem to have hesitated in Algeciras. Eighteen thousand Irish soon concentrate in Seville to face the 12,500 invaders. On the eve of battle, I enjoy the hospitality of the local duke who thinks I’m the bees knees.

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Wonder how long that’s gonna last.

I find out my French wife Sybille is pregnant just as battle commences at Tarifa. Inspired by this announcement, I order my army forward to push the infidel into the sea – and I do so safely from the rear. Unlike Dad, not only do I have no martial skills to speak of, and, also unlike Dad, I’m not looking for a glorious death in battle.

With my brave un-leadership, the battle concludes decisively.

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OH YEAH! With the remnants of his army pursued and summarily destroyed, Sa’d surrenders. He also turns out to be one rich spoiled brat.

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For 500 gold, yes, I will gladly banish him and risk another invasion sometime down the line. In fact, I hope he comes back!

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I disband my levies and sail back home, then immediately reraise them to claim one of the two Welsh counties outside my control. I figure this is the best time to do so, while my vassals are relatively content.

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Then, ironically, hilariously, barely three months after ungratefully escaping with his idiotic life:

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I’m just going to start an eggtimer for every two years, notifying me of an impending opinion boost and cash infusion.

Unbelievably, two days later:

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Princess Blanca is the widow of one of my dead brothers; since his death she has been languishing unmarried in the Irish court. The Scots have periodically made attempts to marry her to one of the men in their ruling house; naturally, I declined every time, because I hate them. But if the Doge of Pisa wants to buy her from me, well… I’ll deal. Incidentally, my personal demesne in Ireland sees a bunch of new keeps and town projects begun.

While the battle against the Welsh goes as planned, I get a notification that my half-brother Gabriel, to whom I gave the Duchy of Gwynedd, stands to inherit both the Duchy of Northumberland AND the Kingdom of Sansa/England if I die, because some weird succession thing. If I do die suddenly – and, given the Ua Briain susceptibility to germs, this his highly probable – I’d like my daughter to inherit a unified realm. Only one thing do to about that; I’ll leave it to you to figure out what that means (Hint: it requires killing my brother).

Just as I send out my hitmen, MORE good news arrives, this time from my wife’s vagina.

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YES! THE LUCK OF THE UA BRIAINS HAS CHANGED, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! I AM INVINCIBLE!

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