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From the Diary of Diadohos Skantarios, 1450 AD...
- Opening Line

The year is 1450 AD. The Byzantine Empire — henceforth refered to as Basileia ton Romaion, "Kingdom of the Romans" — the last remnant of the glorious Roman Empire of the age past, is on its last legs. Surrounded by hostile neighbors who can crush what little land it has left and put an end to the lingering legacy of Rome for good, it seemed that there is little the the Basileia can do except for surrendering its arms and step down...

Or not.

Because against the hordes of Muslim holy warriors, greedy Catholic rivals and the heart of Constantinople stands one man who will soon take history into his own hands and attempt to revive the Roman Empire of ages long past. Will he emerge victorious and revive Rome to its heyday, or will he be crushed beneath the weight of all her foes?

He is Skantarios, and he's not exactly the most chivalrous one out there, but he will do what needs to be done by whatever means necessary, and looking like a great hero while he does it.

I Am Skantarios is a Medieval II: Total War fanfic/Let's Play. Look for this completed work here at TW Center.

The author also made a sequel, called Legacy Of Skantarios, and a prequel, Pagan Vengeance.

This work provides examples of:

  • Allohistorical Allusion: Plenty. For example, thanks to Skantarios's actions in Italy, Martin Luther reformed the Catholic Church from within instead of starting the Protestant movement.
  • Altar Diplomacy: The Byzantines strengthen their alliance with their Hungarian allies via marriage, one general becoming Bash Brothers with Skantarios.
  • Alternate History: Aside from the obvious, Legacy of Skantarios begins with a brief history of the Laskaris family. Most notably, instead of dying in the Siege of Constantinople in 1453, Emperor Constantine IX is instead betrayed and assassinated by the ruling council in 1450. The commander of his bodyguard, Theodoros, and his son Skantarios, usurp power from the council and establish a new dynasty.
  • Alternate History Wank: To a degree; the Byzantine Empire expands considerably under Skantarios' guidance, even reaching places it never conquered in real life. And that's not getting to what his family and allies try to do after his death.
  • Anticlimax Boss: In-Universe. The final confrontation between Skantarios, representing the Orthodox Church and the Pope is... underwhelming, to say the least. The pope is well into his 80s and has likely never wielded a weapon in his life. Skantarios is a lifelong soldier and a champion in combat to boot.
  • Antihero: Skantarios is frequently downright cruel to his enemies. His acts of genocide righteous retribution are implied to be mostly forgiven glorified by his people, who more-or-less worship him as a living saint, and since their enemies would do pretty much the same to them should he fail anyway.
  • Artificial Stupidity: A few battles were won owing to this, including many of the countersieges of Constantinople. Getting their men fried by Greek Fire? Forgivable. Charging cavalry through a row of stakes? No excuse.
  • Author Avatar: Inverted. The author's user ID is named after the character, and he's occasionally mentioned regretting doing so, due to the occasional bouts of mild confusion it engenders.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Skantarios gets one when his father is killed by an assassin. A rather inept one at that, for he gets hunted down and murdered by his network of (usually) insanely effective spies almost immediately thereafter.
  • Badass Army: Skantarios can be proud to say he owns the world's leading Badass Army about ten turns in, and he eventually gets several of these. The Imperial Army is still the best, as they demonstrate repeatedly during his genocidal campaign against Islam, but the campaign against the Ottomans and Rus show that his subordinates have some utterly invincible troopers as well.
  • Broken Ace: Skantarios is one of the greatest commanders in all of history, and a successful and popular ruler. Nevertheless, he is a deeply tormented man.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Tiverios ek Konstaninoupoleos, the Bishop of Thessalonica, has odd habits, but he does his job very well. The story doesn't dwell on him, though.
  • Can't Stay Normal: Late in the story, Skantarios tries retiring to Constantinople, only to find that he can't handle a peaceful life. He attempts to grow a vegetable garden in the royal palace, to... decidedly mixed results.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Skantarios for the Muslims. He deliberately cultivates his reputation as the bane of Islam in order to provoke acts of blind hatred from his foes, and fear when appropriate.
  • The Charmer: General Vitos, who manages to seduce two foreign princesses.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: The French armies fought are less than impressive. Skantarios gives Worthy Opponent Godefroy the highest praise he can think of: "He did not fight like a Frenchman".
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Playing on Very Hard is asking for this to happen, naturally. Entire armies repeatedly spawn from just out of sight to lay siege to Constantinople, and the Seljuk/Ottoman Turks repeatedly conjure up dozens of Jannisary companies, despite being flat broke and their cities smashed.
  • The Conqueror: Skantarios. It becomes his title early on. Under his rule, the Roman Empire manages to stretch from Italy to the Caspian Sea. He even manages to reconquer Rome.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Several ten-star generals including the best the Mongols have to offer, giants of the late medieval world themselves, crumble in the face of the even more formidable Skantarios and his generals.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Specifically targeting, ambushing, and ruthlessly executing enemy generals, isolating them from their armies and cutting them down, in order to break the enemy's morale.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Lots and lots, usually with the Romans doing the stomping. The capture of Jerusalem is an especially strong example, since Skantarios and his troops suffer literally zero casualties.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Some of the Romans. While Skantarios' fatalistic and grim outlook leaves little room for humor, he has his moments, as do many of his subordinates.
    Skantarios: "Our scholars have received word of a peasant revolt in Germany. I cannot blame them. Were I a peasant in Germany, I'd be revolting too."
  • Death Seeker: Skantarios, in his later years. His final journal entries report how envious he is that Benedek was able to die in the field like a warrior, and ends his public report by begging God to take him, granting him the peace he's been denied his entire life.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The various prejudices of the era — especially religious ones — certainly aren't glossed over. Plenty of characters express sentiments that would generally be considered unbelievably hateful and bigoted today, to the point that the author felt the need to apologize.
  • Determinator: Skantarios, from the start, makes a point of emphasizing the unbalanced odds he faces. With just his immediate family and a small army raised in a hurry, he claws the Roman Empire back to its former glory from just two pathetic cities.
  • Disney Villain Death: Skantarios falls to his death in the Alps after being knocked off his horse by an earthquake.
  • Double In-Law Marriage: Skantarios marries Maria Arpadhazi, a Hungarian princess, while his brother Vasileios marries her sister Judit Arpadhazi.
  • The Dreaded: By the time Skantarios is in his mid-40's, the Dread meter is maxed out. In the epilogue, a historian notes that Skantarios' name remains feared by the Muslims for generations, and that even speaking it aloud or writing it down might summon him. This reaches the point where any Muslim who states his name is lashed, and any Muslim who writes it is stoned to death.
  • Duel to the Death: Near the end of the story, Skantarios has one of these with the Pope, and shortly after with the French king.
  • The Empire: Everyone surrounding the Byzantines, especially the Turks and Fatimids. By about midway through, Byzantium itself, especially given Skantarios' murky modus operandi.
  • Expy: Skantarios is essentially Lelouch Lamperouge born several centuries early.
  • Femme Fatale: Anna Laskaris, although she is far, far more patriotic than your average Femme Fatale has any right to be.
  • A Father to His Men: The title character... to a point. He's fond of his troops and certainly won't throw away their lives needlessly, but he recognizes the necessity of sacrificing them at times and views getting too close to them as potentially handicapping him. Averted big time with his treatment of the various mercenaries he hires. His most common reaction to them dying is something along the lines of "the more of them that die, the fewer we have to pay."
  • Freudian Excuse: Skantarios' hatred of Muslims is catalyzed by the murder of his father by an Egyptian assassin.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Skantarios' father was originally just a cavalry soldier, whose usurped the throne of the Byzantine Empire.
  • Game-Breaker: The Siphonatores are treated as such In-Universe. Having a unit of these at the gates of a city ensures no one gets in. In meta terms, their sky-high attack stat which pierces armor and their ability to deploy stakes at city gates makes defending from sieges a total joke.
  • Harem Seeker: Vitos, who manages to attract the fancies of foreign royalty. Skantarios arranges for him to be married to his daughter before a foreign princess can lead him away from his duty to the Romans.
  • Heir Club for Men: Skantarios is continually frustrated by his inability to produce a son.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Hundreds of thousands of dead enemies, dozens of massacres and sackings, and years and years of warfare reduce Skantarios to a man filled with nothing but hate, even for himself.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Some time into the war, Skantarios struck a deal with Hungarian cavalry mercenaries. These mercenaries become the core of his Imperial Army, and repeatedly turn the tide of battle for him.
  • The Horde: The dozens of Muslim armies rushing Constantinople give this kind of impression. Unfortunately for them, all they do is expand the burial pit outside the city.
  • Idiot Ball: A Doge of Venice strolling into the Balkans hundreds of miles from Venice with only a small bodyguard to be fought and captured may be an Acceptable Break From Reality, but his successor doing exactly the same stupid thing one year afterwards is too much.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Benedek is Hungarian by birth, but is extremely devoted to Byzantium.
  • In Name Only: In-Universe. Skantarios' opinion is that the Golden Horde are not really Mongols, as their armies consist of poorly-to-untrained militia and mercenaries, rather than the legions of horsemen Genghis commanded.
  • Insistent Terminology: Like in real life, the Byzantines prefer to call themselves the Roman Empire.
  • Invincible Hero: Skantarios never loses on the battlefield, despite frequently unfriendly odds. At the end of the first Jihad, Skantarios tallies up the thousands of fallen Jihad warriors in the burial pit outside the city. Recalling the Islamic tradition that every fallen Jihadi receives 72 virgins upon entering heaven, he calculates that Allah will need to find over a million virgins to satisfy that fallen warriors' needs.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Skantarios taunts enemy soldiers, particularly Muslims, to get them to sally out and attack. At one point he claims himself the father of the next generation of the city. When that doesn't work, he presents what he claims to be the ashes of the Prophet to a Turkish garrison, and puts them inside a pig's corpse. The Turks go berserk.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Skantarios kills prisoners in sight of their comrades, in order to demoralize the remaining enemy armies.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Byzantines have Greek Fire, and Skantarios uses it to devastating effect by burning entire units of enemy soldiers to a crisp with his flamethrowers and siege weaponry, and showing no remorse for it, to counterbalance his constant disadvantage in numbers.
  • King in the Mountain: These kinds of myths are raised about Skantarios after his death in an earthquake.
  • The Kingslayer: Skantarios' father, Emperor Theodoros, ends up getting fatally poisoned by an Egyptian assassin named Abdul-Yaqzan al-Hanzali.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: By mid-story, both and we and Skantarios realize that Skantarios never actually got a biological son and had to adopt his lieutenant because of his lack of empathy and his morally questionable decisions. In fact, Skantarios' job as Emperor dooms his chances of a normal, happy marriage. Near the end of the story, he admits to his wife Maria that his constant absence due to his military campaigns made him a terrible husband; she agrees, but recognizes that it was necessary for the survival of the Empire, even if she was upset that she could never have a son.
  • Last Stand: So, so subverted with multiple successful defenses of Constantinople. By the time the Jihad rolls along, the city of Constantinople has survived so many along those lines that it is rather expected.
    • This eventually reaches the point where it is mentioned in the text:
      Skantarios: I ask my interpreter with some curiosity if this is how you write "Constantinople" in Arabic. He looks at the sign for some time and shakes his head.
      Skantarios: He says, "No... The rough translation is: 'The land where Muslims go to die.'"
      Skantarios: I think that is as fitting an epitaph for the Jihad as any I could write.
      - page 8: "Picking up the Pieces and the End of the Jihad" - February, 1492 AD
    • Unsurprising, considering that the fact that Constantinople had never fallen to enemy arms was used to justify its status as a Holy City, moreso than Jerusalem.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Genessios at the end indicates that he's ordered the publication of Skantarios' journal and battle reports. He notes with some irony that the scribe hired for the task was also named Skantarios, giving the author a place in the emperor's story.
  • Leave No Survivors: Skantarios wins his battles by doing this. All the time.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Many battles are won because of the enemy general charging headlong without waiting for the rest of his troops. Many other units are eliminated piecemeal in this fashion.
  • Modest Royalty: Deconstructed. Due to spending most of his life on campaign, Skantarios feels more at home in Spartan surroundings, even preferring a rough cot to a comfortable bed. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult for him to transition to being a "stay at home" emperor.
  • Necessarily Evil: It's a cruel world, Skantarios knows this, and he is not afraid to do grievous bodily harm to those in his way ''repeatedly'' to make his point.
  • Never Found the Body: The only evidence found of Skantarios's fall is his horse and the Sword of Constantine.
  • Not Me This Time: Skantarios first suspects the Byzantine nobility in his father's assassination (which makes sense, considering they'd been involved in many intrigues throughout Byzantine history), but he realizes they're blameless when the Egyptians start celebrating their assassin's success.
  • Old Soldier: Skantarios himself becomes this over time as more and more of his contemporaries start dying around him.
  • Phrase Catcher: No less than three characters describe the mercenary Monster Bombard as "the largest cannon I have ever seen (or heard about)."
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Skantarios often sacks captured cities and looting everything of value within to fund his war machine. He does, however, spare a few towns that he needs for future campaigns.

  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Skantarios and Vasileios, respectively.
  • Rousing Speech: Skantarios and his family are the Basileioi of this trope.
    • Theodoros matches his son in the field of oratory, as he demonstrates in this speech just before the first of many sieges of Constantinople:
      The emperor strode out before them and spoke in a clear, calm voice:
      "You have all been judged and sentenced to death."
      A murmur of incredulity rose up from the ranks. Numerous whispers could be heard from the ranks: "Why?!?" "For what?" Was it a joke? Had they not heard him correctly?
      Theodoros continued, thundering now above the murmurs: "You may be asking yourself for what crime you are accused and then sentenced. Your 'crime' is being born a man and being conscripted into this army. Your crime is that you belong to a nation at war. There is no judge, procedure, or appeal to this sentence. This sentence is final."
      "There is hope, however. You can gain clemency by defeating your foe. Pass your sentence onto the enemy. Buy your life by taking his…for yours is already forfeit. By crushing him and driving him back to the steppes that spawned him. For, if you fail, you are dead. If my own men don't kill you, the enemy surely will. If you fail, you not only condemn yourself to death, but your wives, your children, and all that you hold dear. Death, enslavement, and ruin are all that await you should you falter or fail today. The enemy will have no mercy and neither will we. Better to die here than to run."
      "Make no mistake, there are no other alternatives. Win today, or die today. It's an easy choice. You are already dead. Today, tomorrow, ten years from now; we all wind up in the same place. Buy your life today and that of your family."
      - page 1: "War with the Turks Begins" - June, 1455 AD
    • Parodied in the Third Battle of Ankara. By this point, we're accustomed to Skantarios' eloquent speeches. He goes to the men to deliver a speech to get them in the right frame of mind. It consists solely of "Kill them all!"
  • Running Gag: In his first encounter with a Persian army containing elephants, the Roman general makes a comment afterward that elephant meat is pretty tasty. Every subsequent encounter with hostile elephants inevitably has the commander conclude their report by agreeing that elephants are, in fact, delicious.
  • Shoot the Dog: Exterminating every Muslim who crosses his path, tearing down the Dome of the Rock, torching the Kaa'ba (and the faithful Muslims still inside with it), and burying the caves where Muhammad received his revelations, in order to make sure that Islam never threatens the Byzantine Restored Roman Empire again.
  • Spare a Messenger: A tactic used by the Byzantines: they let the shattered remnants of an army regroup and run away, following them until they reach a city. Usually the city refuses to open its gates to let the survivors in, leaving them to be slaughtered by the Byzantines until they are conquered as well (helped by the severe morale drop caused by the survivors' deaths).
  • The Strategist: Skantarios. His first chapter of the story outlines his plan to break out of the extremely limited starting position of his empire. After establishing a foothold, he convenes a meeting of his generals to lay out a four-pronged assault on the Turks and Egyptians, tearing out the economic centers of both simultaneously.
  • Suicide by Cop: Al-Khawalanis demise is like this, the man being a 70 year old general who marches out of cover into a Byzantine arrowstorm after seeing his entire bodyguard shot to pieces.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Several enemy commanders make incredibly stupid mistakes.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Some of the generals and Skantarios' sons prove themselves to be very competent figures over the course of the story. Vitos in particular goes from simply being a casanova to becoming one of the Empire's best commanders.
  • Unfortunate Names: Skantarios says that "ibn Mahbub" (the name of a Moorish general) is "more of a joke than a name."
  • The Usurper: Theodoros overthrew the previous emperor and founded his own dynasty.
  • Vestigial Empire: Best sums up the state of the Byzantine Empire at the beginning. Of course, a certain protagonist named Skantarios Laskaris decides that he'd rather not watch Byzantium fall the way Rome did, and it shows.
    • To show just how well Skantarios reverses this, look at the two maps of the Restored Roman Empire in the section titled "The End". For comparison, the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire fell in 1461. According to the epilogue, the Restored Roman Empire survives for several more centuries, and only falls when civil war divides it into multiple successor states in the late 1800s.
  • War Elephants: Byzantium fights some of these, and eventually gets a herd of their own.
  • War Is Hell: There is much description about the ongoing war and its impact on Constantinople and its enemies. It's not a pretty sight to behold. Oh, and there is Greek Fire somewhere in the middle too. Do the math.
  • Warrior Prince: Skantarios. His father is Basileus, and he leads his armies from the front.
  • We Have Reserves: Mercenary units are deliberately used to draw out enemy soldiers, take hits from enemy arrows, block cavalry charges, and to wear down enemy numbers prior to elephant assaults. Skantarios even worries about this somewhat, as overreliance on mercenaries is one of the reasons that the original roman Empire failed in the first place.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Skantarios remarks often at the waste of so many good men in the Egyptian generals ranks, but a particularly heart-wrenching one is the pointless death of seventy year old al-Khawalani, who charges out in the face of withering arrow fire and actually makes it to the safety of the gatehouse... only to turn around and see his entire bodyguard lying dead. With nowhere to run, he simply marches out into the Byzantine arrowstorm... The general remarks at the unworthy death of this old man.
  • Wham Line:
    • My... father... is... dead.
    • And much, much later: The Army of the West has been destroyed.
  • Worthy Opponent: Skantarios's opinion of the French King Godefroy. Also of Yahya, an old general defending a city with only his bodyguard. The man kills no less than four of Skantarios' own bodyguards, who later reflects that the Sultan did not deserve such a man fighting for him.
  • Your Mom: Early on, Skantarios provokes a teenage Venetian noble he's besieging into sallying out by, among other things, saying his mother was a whore.
  • Zerg Rush: Attempted once by a Mongol Jihad corps comprised of ragtag soldiers. Skantarios isn't amused. In fact, the entire Jihad is built around this strategy... with predictable results for the armies of the Prophet.

Tropes for Legacy Of Skantarios

  • Allohistorical Allusion: The Roman empire is finally ended in the 19th century by a Roman general by the name of Napoléon Bonaparte, who took it over and was killed shortly after.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Ioannis. While his talent is recognized by his peers, he's still not as good as Genessios or Vitos. He begins signing his reports as "Ioannis the Conqueror," then "Ioannis the Invincible."
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the one hand, a bloody civil war has cost the empire Genessios, Vitos and Ioannis. On the other hand, having a young Emperor at the head of the vast Empire allowed nearly-worldwide peace for far longer than Skantarios ever did.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Exaggerated compared to the previous AAR, not one battle against the French goes by without going on about their cowardice.
  • Egopolis: Several conquered cities are named after Skantarios.
  • Evil Uncle: Vasileos to Skantarios' adopted sons. Everyone knows he's behind Genessios dying of "natural causes."
  • Foreshadowing: On meeting the new Hungarian king, Vitos remarks that he's cunning and opportunistic, and bears watching closely. The Hungarians turn on the rebels in the final battle.
  • French Jerk: Evrart. He has his wife — a Roman princess — hanged from a rope made of her own hair, for no reason other than to spite her family.
  • La Résistance: At the end of the story, official state position is that Vitos and Likenia are dead, and that reports that a rebel Roman state in the far north are obviously false and impossible. The Stinger at the end of the posts shows an unknown settlement far beyond the northern borders in Finland, claimed by the Romans, which was never visited during the story.
  • Manly Tears: Shed in the aftermath of particularly wasteful battles.
    Efthymios: I cried many tears that day. Tears for my brother, for father, and for the thousands of valiant soldiers led astray to their deaths. Mostly, I cried for our great failure to live up to Skantarios’ dream. If Skantarios had been here, I know he would have wept with me.
  • Orphaned Etymology: Roman generals occasionally describe battles in terms native to the New World, which had not been discovered yet in-universe. Isidoros once describes the hunting down of fleeing Spaniards as "a turkey shoot," and Likenia refers to the use of Greek fire as "barbequing the French."
  • Unwanted Assistance: Genessios and Vitos do not appreciate Vasileos getting the Pope to order a Crusade against the Mongols when they'd done most of the work already, and finish off their empire before they arrive to prove their point. The Hungarian king, aware of the dissension between the two, tells Genessios that as an ally of the Romans, he will not stand in his way if he makes a bid for the throne.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Efthymios gets hit with this hard in the aftermath of the final battle against the rebels.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Markianos the Bastard.
  • Wham Line: The death of Genessios.

From the Report of Troper, 2010 AD...