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Emperor Gaius Diocletianus was the last best hope for Rome. He took an empire that had grown weak and made it strong. He took an army that was broken and reforged it. He took laws that had grown old and useless, and re-wrote them, creating prosperity and contentment. Through his tireless efforts a nation that seemed on the verge of falling into darkness stepped into the light once more. But Diocletian was not content with merely restoring Rome. He wished to give Rome something new. And thanks to a recent invention, he now could. Something as small as a needle made of special metal that would always point towards the North meant that the art of navigation would never be the same again. Ships could now travel the open ocean without fear of being lost.
In the process of building up Roman military might again, Diocletian ordered the construction of a whole new type of ship. Rome had preferred to rely on its roads and its legions rather than its fleet. But at a time when the old ways were failing, a new idea was sorely needed. So sea ports were hastily re-equipped to build the ships Diocletian wanted - ships that were larger; could carry more supplies; ships that could cross the vastest bodies of water without needing to dock. In Southern Italy, ports were creating a fleet that could traverse the entire Mediterranean with ease. But on the coasts of Hispania, the shipbuilders were given a challenge greater still. They were to build vessels capable of sailing across the seemingly unending ocean in front of them. The Romans knew that the world was round, and that it was vast. Surely, there was a place worth sailing to.
What the Romans were expecting from their newfound dominance of the seas were new trade routes and trading partners. What they got was a whole New Land, offering them a hope they thought lost. The early trans-Atlantic expeditions returned bearing word of a vast land populated only with savages even less advanced than barbarians threatening Roman borders. Unlike those tribes Rome knew, these people had no metal weapons and no armor; they did not have vast armies; Romans were like gods to them.
The opportunity was far too good to miss. Even for a Rome weakened by the circumstances it found itself in, such a land would be all too easy to conquer. And if things went well, then perhaps the resources of this New Land could be used to halt Rome's fall. Timber and food flowed freely to Hispania coast, in preparation for the construction of a fleet like none seen before.
Still, Rome could not afford to spare much of its military for this venture. Not with the powerful threats to the east. Nor would the Romans suffer barbarian mercenaries to enter this new land. So the old empire saw the rebirth of a tradition that started when it was fresh and new: the formation of new legions from the teeming crowds of freemen. Romans exiting the crowded Rome that was grand, yet empty of opportunity and purpose, for a chance to build a new life on land earned by fighting for the glory of Rome.
Knowing that an empire could not be governed from beyond the sea, Diocletian extended a policy he had already been forming. He had one co-emperor already in Maximian. Now he would have another in Flavius Constantius. Adopting this man as a son, he bid him to govern the new lands to be conquered in Rome's name.
The Great Conquest
During the years it took to build the fleet that would take them to the Terra Nova, the newly-recruited Romans were trained for battle. But when they arrived, there were few battles to be had. There was nothing in the New Land that could stand against the Roman legions. The people here did not make campaigns of war on each other; the small and disunited tribes could offer no resistance. Many of the natives surrendered and were put to work building up the foundations of Roman civilization in this savage land. Others fled the hospitable coastal regions and traveled west. The Romans did not pursue them there. There would come a time when all of Terra Nova would belong to Rome. For now they could pick and choose, taking the most pleasant of the regions.
The supplies Romans brought with them held them through the first winter in Terra Nova. Soon after the snows thawed, the legions swung southward to capture warmer lands. Here they found a civilization more advanced than the ones that once occupied their northern holdings. But they found something else too - gold. Back in the Old Empire, Romans had gotten very good at getting gold from even the most stubborn ground. But here gold seemed plentiful. These barbarians made simple crafts from it, not seeming to recognize its true value. But here finally the Roman expedition would justify itself a hundred times over.
The River of Gold
While the Roman holdings in the West grew, the Old Rome was in trouble. It was beset on every side by foes. From the east, the barbarian tribes seemed to move ever closer. Persia grew in power. From the west, rebels tore at the empire. But the discovery of gold in Terra Nova changed the fading fortunes of Rome. For much of that gold found its way back to the ancestral lands, whether as tribute of a new colony or as inflated payment for the sorely needed goods that made their way across the Atlantic. Soon a veritable river of gold flowed from coast to coast, stuffing Roman coffers full. The suddenly rich Rome could throw money at its problems. Now, the army could be paid well enough to stifle all thoughts of treachery. Now, entire barbarian tribes could be hired to protect the borders of the Empire. Now, the bread and circuses could return, to placate those of the unemployed mobs who had not yet left Rome in search of opportunity in the West - and those were getting fewer.
But this extravagance came with a price. The tales of Roman wealth spread far and wide. The differing tribes of Goths quietly started coming together, slowly forming an alliance that prepared to strike at Rome to take its gold if opportunity rose. In the far east, Huns began to move westward very quickly indeed.
The Rule of Constantine
Time passed and Constantius died, passing the office of the Emperor of Western Roman Empire to his son, Constantine the First. Having spent years in Terra Nova, the young emperor was determined that this would be the new true home of the Roman people. The Rome of old existed only to create a culture like no other, so that it could spread into this fertile land.
Constantine's first act was to drastically lessen the tribute paid to Old Rome. The expedition had already paid for itself a hundredfold. But few people in the Old Empire minded, because Constantine's second act was to dramatically increase trade. Even now, the Western Roman Empire was built mostly from wood and earth. He meant to create a new city. A magnificent city of stone, which would have everything the Roman culture offered in the East. The city of Constantinople.
Even while Constantinople was being built, Constantine pursued a policy of expansion. The East Coast stood pacified. The conquests to the South stopped where the land became a wall of jungle. One day Rome would enter it, but this was not the time. Not with the whole West of Terra Nova wide open to Rome.
Here at last Roman forces faced resistance to speak of. The natives who fled Roman rule had already passed this way, and in the process they had poisoned the minds of the local tribes against Rome. In their tales, every detail of Roman conquest was blown up a thousandfold. The tribes of the Midwest did not see Romans as gods, but as demons - powerful, malevolent, and deadly. So when Rome began encroaching on their territory, they formed a loose union to resist.
Despite this, Rome was able to make gains. The legionnaires had better equipment and were better trained. And, importantly, Roman horsemen were able to pass messages between the legions quickly or flank and harry enemy forces. Noting this advantage, Constantine proclaimed that any man who lost track of a horse would be executed. The natives would not be getting their hands on any resource of Rome. He also began the first attempt to build up Roman cavalry from a supplemental force to the equal of infantry. Though this brought the emperor troubles with the Equestrian class, he could easily handle it, for the will of the people was with him.
The Flight of the Romans
By late in Constantine's life, the Western Roman Empire had become a place of power and splendor. Constantinople had become a magnificent capital that outshone even Rome itself. Roads built the Roman way stretched to the borders of the Roman holdings, which were for now somewhere in the Great Plains. Mines had been dug into the ground, bearing out stone and metal. Fields were lush with the crops of the Old Land and those of the New, including several highly exciting plants which opened the mind to the Heavens. Horse and Cattle were bread throughout the land and watched closely.
With all of this, the Western Empire hardly needed the support from the East. So Constantine did the only thing that made sense to him - cut off most of the trade with Old Rome. No longer would the gold of Terra Nova stuff the coffers of the Old Empire that had outlived its usefulness.
For the Western Empire, this was a boon. But for the Eastern Empire, it was an unmitigated disaster. The River of Gold had dried up. And suddenly all the problems it held at bay returned with a vengeance. The Gothic Alliance fell upon the Empire. The Vandals and Saxons who once guarded the borders from the invaders now happily joined them. The Huns came down like a river of death and destruction. And Persia mounted attacks on any lands not directly in the path of the barbarian hordes.
With destruction facing them, Romans were split into two groups. One was the group that believed in the ancient roots of the empire and refused to leave them. The representatives of this group converged on Rome. Even when the endless sea of enemies arrived, they held the Great City for almost two months. By the end there was little left of Rome besides ruins.
This long fight was a boon to the other group - the group that believed only in survival. When the barbarians came, they fled. Their long flight would take them ever-westward, towards the shores of Hispania. Emperor Constantine, learning of Rome's fate, had declared that every resource of the navy would be used to aid in the escape and migration of Roman Citizens to the Western - soon to be the only - Roman Empire. He even sent troops, who joined with the remaining legionnaires of the East to engage the barbarians in a series of hit-and-run battles.
As lands that took a millennium to build up were lost in the course of a few short years, Old Land was soon all but empty of Romans. The brave soldiers were the last to board the ships. Behind them they left the dock cities aflame. If the barbarians wanted to find New Land, they would have to learn the art of shipbuilding themselves.
The remainder of Constantine's rule was plagued by disorder. His empire now contained two classes of people: those who came of their own free will in search of opportunity, and those who came from fear of disaster. (And a third group, consisting of those who had been there before. But they were not Romans, so they didn't count). The refugees did not get along well with the colonists. Many of them blamed the Western Empire for the fall of the Eastern one, despite the fact that it was clearly only the existence of the New Land that enabled Rome to survive as long as it had. There was also greater resentment still because much of the best land was already occupied. Few of those who left behind the pleasant confines of Italia or Gallia wished to make their home in the harsh climate of the Great Plains. But the early citizens of the Western Empire objected to the idea of their lands being occupied by those who did not sweat and bleed to take them.
Constantine attempted to counter this divide by re-instilling his divided nation with the patriotic pride of being part of the Roman culture and pursuing a propaganda campaign about more aggressive expansion to the west. He sent around whispers of a West Coast, as bountiful as the East one, and completely unoccupied (except for easily-conquered savages). By the end of his life, these efforts yielded effect. The unity of the Roman people was restored, and Constantine died a beloved emperor.
He was succeeded by his three sons: Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans. Of them, Constantine took control of the East Coast, Constantius of the South, and Constans led the army in their march Westward. All three held the title of the emperor, but the empire was still one. For the Western - now the Only - Roman Empire had grown large enough to easily accommodate three rulers.
The next two decades proved to have few surprises for Romans. Under Constantine II, the fleet made contact with the last remnants of Roman civilization in Europe. The Romans in Britannia were only too happy to hear from the West and to acknowledge Constantine as their emperor. With vicious enemies just a Canal-width away, they needed all the help the Empire could provide. The Roman populations in North Africa, however, were more skeptical, partly because many still blamed Constantine I for abandoning Rome, partly because Roman ships simply couldn't enter the Mediterranean freely anymore. Though Constantine brought up the idea of several fortress-cities to guard the strategic points in the Strait of Gibraltar, his advisors persuaded him not to do anything that could lead to a land war with the barbarians.
Farther west, Constans made continued gains in the West. His strategy revolved around taking and securing the major sources of water and winter shelter, leaving the enemy a choice between surrender and painful decline. The few actual battles were easily enough solved thanks to the Roman cavalry. What was once a support unit now represented one of Rome's greatest military assets. Horses bred for size and power and protected by barding made of stiffened buffalo skin carried into battle increasingly heavily-armored warriors. It didn't matter how fiercely the natives fought; the Romans had steel and horses and a military culture stretching back into antiquity. Before the Interim was through, Constans was able to stand on a cliff of West Coast and proclaim that the Roman Empire stretched "...from Sea to Shining Sea."
The Rise of Christianity
Christianity never took off in the Roman Empire. In the East, Diocletian suppressed it, as did his successors and those of his co-emperor. Once the gold from the New Land hit, this persecution rapidly became more successful. Many groups of Christ-worshippers were uncovered and destroyed thanks to a bribe or a spy. By the time of the Great Flight, it was almost impossible to find a Roman Christian.
In the West, the question simply did not arise. Few Christians inhabited the land which was mainly seeded with the progeny of the legionnaires who came to conquer it. Additionally, in this land the Imperial Cult grew stronger. The tradition of venerating the Emperors of Rome as messengers and vassals of the gods was made much easier by the successes those emperors had. The traditional mode of Roman worship persisted as well, with Romans cheerfully adding the local gods to their ever-growing collection.
But in the new Europe, populated by the tribes that burned Rome and tore apart the Eastern Empire, Christianity regained its foothold and grew once more. And as it grew, it changed. To accommodate itself to the new listeners, the legend of Christ was recast. Submission to God's Will was taken to mean conquering in His name. The local gods each tribe worshipped were depicted as real, but lesser, deities, sometimes the servants of the Greater God, and sometimes His enemies.The Romans, who killed the Son of God, were proclaimed to be the Accursed People, a vile blight on the face of God's Earth.
The First War of the Cross
Many of the warlords of Europe adapted Christianity. For most, it was a matter of simple convenience and of little consequence. A few, however, truly believed. Of those, one was Balamber, the ruler of the Huns. When he heard the words of the preachers, his heart burned with passion, and he built his rulership around his faith. And in the year of 372 as Christians mark time, he set out to do what he perceived as the work of the Lord - wipe out the last of the Roman presence in the Old Land. In this he went above and beyond crucifying a few Romans as other warlords did. He formed an army to invade Britannia and destroy the last vestiges of Rome in the East.
For this he made an alliance with the Gothic Union, drawing some of their troops into the host. He threatened the Anglos with ruin if they stood in his way. And the army, its soldiers decorated with the sign of the Cross, marched to the Canal, prepared to wash over Britannia.
The plans hit a snag there, since Balamber neglected to have a fleet waiting for them. The army stood in place for three weeks as troops commandeered fishing boats and built raft all along the shore. At last, an invasion fleet of sorts was built and Balamber commanded the crossing to begin.
This did not turn out well for him. The weeks the army spent camping in place had already made the difference, and Romans were expecting him. All the military forces in Britannia, save for a skeleton guard around Hadrian's Wall, stood at the shore, prepared to push the invaders back into the sea. Balamber's troops were in no condition to fight after the crossing - it was all they could do to stand.
Things got worse when the three Roman warships docked in Britannia sailed from their hiding place and tore through the flimsy vessels of the invaders. With their massive size advantage, the ships went right through like hot knives through butter.
A quarter of Balamber's army had been wiped out in that war. Without the means, or indeed the will, to cross the waters of the Canal, the rest were forced to retreat. As they went home, the tale of the defeat grew. According to the stories, Romans grew into giants to push the Huns and Goths into the water and caused mountains filled with monsters to sail on seawater. Legends grew saying that when the Romans traveled West, they sailed off the Edge of the World and into Hell itself.
Such circumstances surrounded the bloody failure that was the First War of the Cross.
The Great Uprising
For most of the native population in Terra Nova, the Roman rule did not prove too onerous. Despite the rumors spread by the first refugees from the East Coast, there were many nations that were far less kind to those they defeated than Rome. The conquered people were allowed to keep their own culture and religion. In fact, so long as they obeyed the Imperial edicts, they were mostly left alone.
This was not the case on the West Coast. Here, the richer landowners had created large plantations to cultivate commercial crops. So the native populations were faced with the onerous task of tending the fields. The very patterns that once brought the Eastern Empire low were being repeated in Terra Nova. Combined with the fact that the West Coast was the most recently conquered area and there were still people living here who had been fleeing Roman influence all their lives, it made for an explosive combination.
Enjoying their string of easy victories, most Romans believed the natives to be a cowardly lot. This was not accurate. Among the people now serving as Roman slaves were some of the most cunning and dangerous men of the age. And they were facing a whole new situation. They were no longer outside, fighting Rome on equal ground. Instead they were part of Rome; an invisible part. They could go into the homes and offices of prominent Romans and never be noticed. They could strike at any time.
And strike they did. In a single night known forevermore as the Night of Blood, thirty two Senators were murdered in their beds, along with hundreds of other prominent Romans. Before the perpetrators could be punished, they melted away, hiding in the wilderness still so prevalent on the continent.
That was only the beginning. The months to come saw the biggest popular revolt against Rome since Spartacus. In a masterfully arranged gambit, the rebels overran one of Rome’s arsenals, seizing the weapons inside. With these, they engaged the legions in a series of pitched battles, culminating in The Battle of the Long Hill. Here at last the rebels were broken when reinforcements from the South arrived just in time to strike at their backs.
The Great Uprising was over, but its effects would be felt for a long time. The Romans would never see the natives as harmless again. Throughout the Empire, changes were made in their treatment. On the East Coast, this meant an attempt to forestall their own version of the Great Uprising by attempting to integrate the natives into the greater Roman society. There had always been a path for Roman citizenship for barbarians, and now that path was being widened.
On the West Coast, the opposite strategy was adapted. The natives were banished from entering a Roman household for fear of assassination. They were forbidden to hold anything sharper than a hoe. In general, things got a lot more difficult for them.
To mark the separation of the two methods, a line was drawn through the northern portions of Terra Nova. To the west of this line, the natives were falling into ever harder oppression. To the east of it, they were gaining new rights. Eventually, this would lead to another conflict, far greater than the Great Uprising.
The Second War of the Cross
Attila the Hun had always looked to surpass his grandfather in all things. He succeeded. When people considered them together, they agreed that Attila was the better man. He was the better fighter; he was the better chief; he was even a better Christian, which was a challenge. So it is no wonder that he longed to succeed where Balamber failed.
Despite what the legends say, the second Army of the Cross didn't set out with crosses sewn onto their clothing. Given the colossal failure of Balamber's war, this would be a great strategic mistakes on Attila's part, and Attila didn't make such obvious mistakes. The decorations were added much later, once he was sure his expedition would be a success.
In Attila's true fashion, his army was stronger than that of his grandfather. His troops were not much more numerous, but they were more unified. Like Balamber, Attila forged a coalition with the Goths, who feared his strength. But he did not use their troops; rather, he had them stand guard over Hun lands with the promise that he woudl be coming back, before taking most of the Hun army on his mission.
But the better part of his valor was discretion; unlike Balamber, Attila selected a target he knew how to take. Instead of attacking Britannia - a dangerous exercise, given the fact that the Romans inhabiting the Island spent the last forty years fortifying their coast - he chose to move against the splinter Roman colonies of Africa.
Attila's army swung around the sea and made the long land trek to Egypt. There, they engaged the Romans.
It was easy for them to win. Though the Romans of Northern Africa had grown fierce in their isolation, they lacked access to the materials necessary to war. The Romans were broken and overrun, just as they had been a hundred and fifty years ago. Unlike the Romans of that time, though, most of them had neither the time nor the means to escape to Terra Nova. Attila's African campaign was over in less than two months.
The response of the Roman Empire was to secure their remaining holdings. Emperor Gaius of the East Coast sent three legions to Britannia. Their task would be to conquer the lands north of Hadrian Wall, to close the second fron on the last Roman holdings in the Old Land.
Given the success of this campaign, the Second War of the Cross could perhaps be considered a tie.
The Age of Buildup
Attila was good at judging his strength; he knew that he did not have the men to assault Britannia. Certainly not if he wanted to finish subjugating his newly-conquered lands and return enough of his soldiers to his ancestral lands to keep them secure. So he left that work to his heirs. In the meanwhile, the world spent two centuries in relative peace, punctuated by nothing more than an occasional squabble for territory.
In the Old Land, the barbarians were very slowly turning away from being barbarians. After knocking over Rome, they were finally building up civilizations of their own. They were very different from the Roman ideal, often based on purely physical strength or else on respect for ancestors or tradition. The countries slowly stabilized their borders, with the descendants of the first conquerors of Rome settling down in lands claimed by their great-grandfathers. Thus, the Vandals claimed what was once Hispania; The Angles and Franks settled in Gallia. The slowly splintering Gothic alliance held the former lands of Italia and the surroundings, save for the southern tip of Italia, which had been sold to Attila. The Huns, meanwhile, began building the Holy Empire of the Huns, a country secure in its might and its faith.
In the New Land, Romans took on the arduous task of building roads across the Great Plains. The roads were needed fro communication and travel. Nevertheless, this was a project that would take countless years before finally being complete.
In the meantime, Rome continued to expand North and South. These territories held less appeal than many of the already-occupied lands, but there were those willing to trade the comfort of the Coasts for the distance from the direct will of the emperors.
On the West Coast, a fleet was built to match the one on the East Coast. Its first tentative expeditions discovered new islands in the Westernmost Ocean. In time they reached the shores of a continent. Upon some mathematical work, it was determined that this was the unfamiliar eastern edge of the great landmass that once stretched to the South of the Old Roman Empire. The Romans had sailed full circle. A lucrative trade arose between the two continents, mainly in exchange of spices for tobacco.
The Civil War
In time the tensions over economic interest and the treatment of the native population led to a broach in relations beween East and West. The whole of the conflict is better described elsewhere, but it is the long-term consequences of the Eastern victory that carry the most historical interest.
The redistribution of land among the plebian class and the broad emancipation of the natives meant that the class distinctions were once again eased, reversing the trend building in the West and leading to a more representative government.
The appointment of an Eastern loyalist to the Western throne combined with broad amnesty to the Westerners not judged to be ringleaders meant that the Roman Empire was brought closer together once more. To take greater advantage of this, Emperor Constantine ordered the building of the Midland Canal - an ambitious project to create a waterway in Central Terra Nova which would allow for the easy passage of ships between the two oceans.
The very fact that the conflict occurred in the first place led to continued funding for the army, an issue that had previously been in question due to the long stretch of relative peace faced by the Romans.
Around the time of the Civil War in Terra Nova, the Holy Empire of the Huns undertook a military campaign of its own. Moving eastward, its troops entered the forests of the Slavic lands, gaining some limited successes. The most notable part of this invasion is the profound effect it had on the other nations of Europe. It scared them.
The people were not afraid that the Huns would turn on them, for such a thing was unlikely. Instead they feared they would be left behind. Most of them were feeling very isolated. The Huns were expanding to the East and South. To the North lay ice and fearsome Viking warriors. To the West was nothing but a vast ocean leading to Hell with its population of Romans. The world was closed to them.
To respond to this, the descendants of the Vandals, now calling themselves Andalusians, set to the task of rebuilding the ports that the Romans destroyed more than four hundred years ago. It was hoped that by sticking close to shore they could sail ahead of the Hunnic conquest and claim lands for themselves.
The descendants of Franks, Anglos and Gauls, now united as Franks by way of several shrewd marriages, made several half-hearted attempts to assault the shores of Britannia, not achieving much success. Many of them thereafter held that no Frank was meant to live on the Island.
The Goths did not care; their alliance had disintegrated some seventy years prior and they were now engaged in bitter infighting.
To the south, the Persian Empire entered a new period of vitality. Its successes had dried up along with the fall of its Roman rival, since the Roman lands were now largely occupied by fierce invaders. It had faced hard times since then. But now an advantage was afforded to Persians by the spread of an interesting new variation of Christianity in the lands to the south. There, a message arose saying that God ultimately stood for peace and love among His children and that conflicts were to be shunned. Between the pacifistic attitude of the adherents of this heresy and the endless religious wars between them and those who disagreed with them, Persians were easily able to step in and capture new territory.
The Age of the Sea
The next big chapter of human history was not written in blood, but in seawater.
Andalusians made their first uncertain forays into the waters of the ocean. They lacked all the advantages Romans held centuries earlier. They did not have the accumulated knowledge of navigation passed down since the Egyptians. The did not have the compass to allow them to brave open seas. They did not have the lumber of the whole of Europe to draw on. But they also had one advantage: They had no interest whatsoever in crossing the ocean. Instead, Andalusian ships sailed southward, hugging the coast of Afrika close. For a long time, they found little of worth. But as decades went by and their ships improved, they eventually reached the southernmost edge of the continent, much to their own surprise. In due time Andalusian ships reached the shores of Hindia, where they began trade relations similar to those of the Romans. The fact that Romans and Andalusians had somehow managed to completely miss each other for at least another century is nothing short of a miracle.
As for the Romans themselves, they too made new discoveries. The Western fleet (which became part of the Joint Fleet after the completion of the Midland Canal) continued to discover and conquer new islands in the Westernmost Ocean. however, the really big discover was made by the seagoing vessels of the usually tame South. Upon their early expeditions, they bumped into a land mass many times the size of those discovered by their Northern counterparts. A brief period of exploration proved that it was a new continent entirely.
The colonization of Terra Australis was set at a sluggish pace. Over the course of several decades Romans slowly encircled the coasts. They wanted little to do with the Bad Lands in the middle of the continent, and were inclined to let the natives be for now, in accordance to the philosophy descended from the East, but now held by most Romans.
In the plains of Asia, a new tribe was being born. A young chief named Chuluunbold used his great cunning and valor to unite the many tribes of horsemen into a single Horde, creating a force more feared than even the ancestors of the Huns. These horsemen came unexpectedly, and where they went they brought destruction. They smashed the Persian Empire at the height of its strength. Then they rode eastward, overrunning Serica. At last, they threatened Iaponia. Fearing the great hordes, Iaponians turned to the one force they believed capable of stopping the Demon Riders. They turned to Rome.
They got a promise of help, though it cost them dearly economically. Although few people minded the cost when the battle came.
The Roman defense of Iaponia was basically a far grander version of the Battle for Britannia. After allowing a third of Chuluunbold's army to unload, they unleashed their warships upon the Mongolian fleet. Their ships were larger, more numerous, and held tactical catapults which hurled Vulcan's Fire (a highly flammable compound that could reduce a ship to ashes very quickly indeed). The battle on the sea was hardly in question.
On land, the combined armies of Rome and Iaponia emerged to stage an assault on the Mongols. For this battle the Romans revived the classical Greek phalanx, employing heavy infantry with long spears. For long range they employed a mix of archers and crossbowmen. Once the Mongols broke themselves against Roman defense and retreated to the shores under the rain of projectiles, the Iapanese were allowed to come in from the flanks and begin the final slaughter.
With the death of Chuluunbod and the defeat of his army, Mongolian ambitions were briefly curbed.
The Vikings had long harbored a desire to find new lands to the West, replicating Rome. One of the most prominent explorers to hold this line of thinking was Erik the Red, who sailed further out than any before him. At some point he found a land he thought perfect, naming it 'Green Land'. However, several days later his men stumbled on a Roman fishing village. Following several minor incidents of violence, Erik sailed back home to inform the Norse people that the West was already occupied and they must look for glory closer to home. Setting aside his wanderlust, Erik the Red focused on becoming a Viking warlord.
Mongolian Conquest of Europe
Just as with the Civil War, there exist more complete accounts of the event itself, but it is worth noting the long-term consequences of Mongolian dominion of Europe.
First, civilization was once again largely overturned in Europe, aside from that in Andalusia and Britannia. Many of the painstakingly won advancements in social thinking were lost to dust - for a while, at least. Latter Mongolian khans were less feral and showed some interest in the pleasures of civilized world, but they would find it difficult to rebuild what their fathers and grandfathers destroyed.
Second, the displacement of the Huns to their Afrikan holdings forced them to delve into the heart of the continent for the first time. Here they found men with black skin and many strange animals. They also found diamonds, much to their surprise. This discovery would weigh heavily in the fortunes of the Huns for a long time to come.
Third, Leif Erikson's unification of the North made what was once a large collection of raiding parties into a true army, and their collection of boats into a true naval power. They began staging more ambitious raids, sometimes going so far as to assault Roman territories.
Finally, it convinced Andalusians that they were truly God's Chosen People, spared from the terror of Mongolian occupation and given the world to sail out into. The Church of Andalusia grew considerably stronger.
Roughly concurrent with the Mongol invasion, a Roman named Ptolemy perfected the printing press. It used wooden letter blocks and vegetable dyes to do in hours what would take even the most skilled of engravers many days. Though it had many changes to go through yet, the movable print machine was immediately put to use for Imperial orders. Within as little as a decade, several presses began churning out copies of the great classics. This invention heralded the steep rise in literacy rates.
The Great Death
When Andalusia was spared from the Mongol threat, its inhabitants began to think themselves invincible. In the Church of Aragon there developed a new preaching: that the West was not Hell but Heaven, occupied wrongfully by the accursed Romans. After all, did not ancient legends tell of the gold that once flowed from the West? And everybody knew Heaven was filled with gold. No land this fruitful could belong to the Romans. Talk began of an invasion; a mighty Armada to sail West and take back Paradise. However, all such plans were interrupted by the arrival of the Great Death.
Truth be told, there was nothing unusual about this occurrence. A malady from Asia, it had already reached Roman shores multiple times. In ages to come, medical scientists would identify as a culprit the fleas carried by Asian black rats. The infected flea bit the rat, which died. Then it moved on to another host, such as a human.
In Rome, the process stopped there. The human would visit the baths and the fleas would die horribly. Occasionally, a few people would fall to the disease, but it simply didn't have the spreading power. Not in the Roman Empire, where bathing was considered a form of recreation.
In Europe, where a man would sometimes bathe once a year if at all, things stood differently. Whether the disease was brought in by Mongols with their connections to Serica, or by one of Andalusian trade ships, it would never be known, for in just a few months both peoples suffered from it equally, along with everyone else on the continent. In three years, a hundred million people were dead. Europe stood broken and terrified.
Vikings in Britannia
During the reign of Diocletian IX something happened that had no precedent in centuries: Rome was invaded by a foreign power.
Erik Bjornson, The Viking King of the North, dared to do what the Mongols did not. He attacked Britannia, defying all the might of Rome. The Dragon Army landed on the northern shores, relatively defenseless when compared to the heavy fortifications facing the Continent. The Vikings continued southward. When the Roman forces attempted to stop them at the crumbling Hadrian's Wall, the Vikings simply boarded their ships and sailed along the coast, unloading behind the Roman troops. Only the ancient tradition of building a fort anywhere Roman soldiers chose to sleep saved the Britannic Legions from total annihilation.
The Governor of Britannia ordered the Britannic fleet to pull around and destroy the Viking ships. But when they did so, the Romans did not fare as well as they'd hoped. Though the Viking ships were far smaller than those of the Romans and lacked their fearsome weaponry, they were far more maneuverable and numerous. They fell around the Roman leviathans like wolves. A few were burned; a few were crushed; but many others closed and had the Norse clamber up the sides of the ship. For the first time in an age, the Romans knew defeat at sea.
Diocletian responded to the news with the foresight and cunning of his namesake. He did not send aid to Britannia right away. Instead, he spent three months creating a whole new force to defeat the Viking threat. By the time the expedition sailed out, three quarters of Britannia had known Viking embrace.
The Roman fleet split in two when approaching the Island. The larger ships capable of carrying armies and supplies landed on the coast, unloading the expeditionary force. The newer ships, smaller and nimbler, swung around to face the Viking Drakkars.
The battle on the sea went very differently this time around. The Dragon Army was needed on land, so the Viking ships could not unload half so many troops. Not that they had a chance to. The new Roman ships were faster and could turn in the briefest amount of time. Each one was equipped with catapults and plenty of Vulcan's Fire. One craft, bereft of crew, sailed straight into the middle of the Viking fleet before being shot by a skilled Roman crossbowman. At that moment it exploded like nothing before it, spreading fire far and wide.
On land, the Romans moved swiftly as well. Their special forces encircled the Vikings, who were robbed of their sea vessels. When the time came, they unleashed the newest weapons of war: rockets. Developed from a Serican invention, they made more light and noise than actual damage. But they created terror even in the heart of the hardiest warrior, causing the Norse forces to go from an organized host to a collection of panicked individuals.
The Romans finished off the battle by advancing light infantry followed by archers. And they brought many arrows with them. Enough that by the time they had to close, there weren't very many Vikings left to fight.
Between the Roman advance and the rebellions in every part of Britannia, the Island was back in Roman hands by autumn's end. The Norse had lost their army and gained a powerful enemy.
After their unsuccessful campaign in Britannia, the inhabitants of the North expected Rome to retaliate. They waited for the famed and feared legions to land on their shores and move against their capitals. No such thing happened. Romans were not intending to invade. They had other ways to retaliate.
A year after the invasion the King of the North fell to the floor with foam at his mouth. Both his food tasters were fine.
Half a year later the powerful Snow Wolf clan split from the united North, declaring its borders off limits to members of any other clan. Two months later the Long Trek clan did the same.
Precisely a year after the last king's death, the new king was lost in a hunt. He was never found nor heard from again.
Four months after that an outbreak of the Great Death occurred in the North, spreading to two cities.
A year to the day after the death of the last king and two years after the king before him, the new king was killed by the fall of a great moose head. No one dared become king in his place. The United North fell apart.
The Third War of the Cross
After their population recovered from the Great Death, Andalusians considered themselves all the stronger for the experience. They emerged with the belief that before they could take Heaven from Romans, they had to earn it. And how could they hope to be allowed to storm Heaven's borders when they did not even rule their own continent?
Thus began the Third War of the Cross.
The most notable thing about this war is the Andalusian use of strategy, particularly of mimicked Roman moves. After challenging the current leader of the Europa Mongols (after the breakup of the Great Horde), the Andalusians marched half of their army straight at the enemy, while landing the other half behind in an amphibious invasion. By countering the recognized Mongol tactics, the Andalusians won a victory along with large areas of Frankia and Italia.
The War of the Globe
With their victory over Mongols, Andalusians were prepared for an even more dangerous target. They finally felt ready to begin their assault on Heaven. However, their leaders were more cautious than they were ever given credit for. Instead of attempting to attack Terra Nova, they started out by testing the waters in Hindia and adjacent islands.
Nevertheless, the events that followed led to the War of the Globe.
The Age of Rebuilding
After the War of the Globe, the Andalusians were humiliated, the Romans victorious and the Huns not knowing what to do. A new leader came onto the scene.