A Time for War - A Europa Barbarorum AAR for the Kingdom of Pontos

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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

A Time for War - Prologue

The forests of Paphlagonia
Spring, 272 B.C.

Mithridates' gaze drifted westward, his weary eyes settling on the wooded shores of the great Halys River. How long had it been since his ancestors had repelled the armies of King Kroisos from this very same river? He couldn’t remember. He could only hope that his fortunes would fare better than those of the fabled King of Lydia.

A cough tore through his worn body, far harsher than the winter winds of his people’s homeland. Mithridates could feel his bones rattling inside of his chest, and he pulled his woolen cloak tight over his shoulders. It didn’t help. Nothing did anymore. His cough was bad when he left Amaseia that winter, and travel had only made it worse. Taking one last look, he turned and made his way towards the soldiers’ encampment.


The air was warm and smoky as he pulled back the flaps of his tent. A servant tended a roaring fire, offering a spit of roasted goat to the old Basileus, but Mithridates wasn’t hungry. There was business to attend to.

As he made his way to the back of the tent, he saw a portly figure rise from the bedding laid down by the servants. A smooth voice broke through the crackling of the hearth. “My king, we must hold council.”

Mithridates nodded at his Chief Eunuch. “Have a servant call for my son.”

Alkimos Herakleotes ran a nervous hand through his thick dark hair. “We are in a precarious position, Basileus, and we both know how Ariobarzanes feels about our alliance with Seleukeia. Perhaps it would be best if we spoke in private first?”

Mithridates let out a sigh. “Yes, you are right. My eldest does not yet understand the importance of keeping our enemies close. What news of the war in the south? ”

“The war between Antiochus and Ptolemy lies stagnant. It is the east which I worry about.”

The old king raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“I fear that the other successors are planning to revolt against Antiochus. They see opportunity while Seleukeia is tied down fighting in Celesyria. If this is to be the case, then Antiochus will be eager to end this war with Ptolemy. He will be forced to deal with this rebellion, and that means…”

“…that means that Antiochus will view us as another threat, whether we join in the rebellion or not. It will only be a matter of time before the might of his armies comes crashing down upon us.”


“Yes, my king. I believe your judgment is correct.”

“I must sit.” The Basileus removed his cloak, his joints creaking as he made his way to the bedding on the floor. “If war is looming, then we must prepare to fight it. Perhaps this rebellion will be a blessing? It will delay the inevitable retaliation from Antiochus and the dogs who beg at his heels, impatient to pick apart our homeland for themselves.”

The eunuch gave a solemn nod. “If we are to prepare, then we must expand our grasp if we hope to survive."

“What do you suggest, Alkimos?”

“Our spies report that our rivals to the north are weakened. Constant raids along the coast have drained their manpower, and their armies are far from the city, dealing with the Galatian invaders. We should strike while the iron is hot.”


Mithradates nodded. “The people of Sinope have close ties with the Hellenic city states. A move against them would risk open war,” he sighed, “but it is a risk me must take. Send a messenger to my son in law. Tell him to march his army to the city of Sinope.” The eunuch nodded, and silently left the Basileus’ tent.

The venerable king looked into the crackling flames of the hearth. He wondered if he would ever see his Palace at Amaseia, he wondered if he would ever hold his wife in his tired arms, he wondered if he would even feel the warmth of the next sunrise. Shutting his eyes and casting out doubts, he spoke softly to the fire before him.

“It is time for war.”

Later that evening...

Ariobarzanes smiled as Alkimos left his tent. He rarely enjoyed the company of his father’s chief eunuch, but he was always open to good news. Two winters had passed since he last saw his brother in law, six since he last saw real combat, and his kopis felt far too heavy in his hand. He was getting soft, and he knew it. A chance to take to the field would be welcome, even if it wasn’t against those damnable Seleukeia Satraps to the south. Gods, how he hated them!  “Father underestimates our kinsmen,” he said to no one in particular. “Why can’t he understand that the best time to strike against our rivals is now, while Antiochus is pressed hard in the south and the east?” Pacing back and forth, the crown prince struggled to calm himself. It would do no good to fret now. A long day’s march awaited him.


The Pontic Coast
Summer, 272 B.C.

Ariarathes Herakleotes was tired. Two years of chasing Galatians across the hills of Anatolia was hard on a man, and the dozens of skirmishes against the Gallic barbarians had taken their toll. Death and desertion reduced his command to half of what it had been when he set out from Amaseia, and he was reluctant to admit that his soldiers spoke ill of him behind his back. The orders from his father in law brought little comfort. More bloodshed was the last thing he wanted to engage in, but honor demanded it.

For weeks he rode north east, urging his scouts onward to search for signs of the Basileus’ encampment. The letter proposed that they meet south of Sinope, in order to join forces before the siege. Ariarathes wondered what little help he could provide. He was restless, but he found himself to be surprisingly relieved when his scouts brought back word of his father in law’s encampment, just a day’s march away.

Cheers greeted him as he marched his soldiers into the Basileus’ encampment. Friends and strangers alike grasped hands and patted backs, and the camp sergeant’s looked the other way while the men enjoyed their wine, but Ariarathes had not come to drink. As he made his way towards the king’s tent, he wondered how the last two years affected the old man. Offering a short prayer to Hermes, he entered the tent.



Chapter 1 – New Blood

A camp on the outskirts of Sinope
Spring, 271 B.C.

The crown prince fidgeted in his saddle. Arsames never wanted this responsibility. He wasn’t ready to be named Koiranides anymore than he was ready to lose the king that he called father. He certainly wasn’t ready for the battle which awaited him.


The letter came just months shy of his sixteenth winter; sealed with the sigil of the Basileus, signed with the name Ariobarzanes. Mithridates Kianos, Ktistes, founder of his line, had passed on to his ancestors. For weeks an illness had ravaged his frail body, starting as a fever and culminating in a horrible seizure. He never awoke from the violent ordeal, and stopped breathing two days later, an hour before the dawn broke.

For months his mother wept, and as her youngest son, Arsames did all that he could for her. Couldn’t his brother see that she needed him? What help could he be in this battle? As the youngest son of Mithridates, Arsames had trained to be a priest, or perhaps a member of the Basileus’ council. He didn’t have the drive or the ambition for war, and he knew that the young noblemen named him a coward behind his back. Yet here he was, named as Koiranides and summoned to fulfill his duty as crown prince. He would ride into battle alongside his brother, his king, whether he wanted to or not. To refuse the order of the Basileus was unacceptable.


The siege would break any day now. Inexperienced as he was, Arsames knew that the defenders could hold no longer. A year had reduced their supplies and manpower as starvation took its toll upon the populace, and even the most loyal citizens whispered of regicide. Alkimos and his spies reported that King Aigicoros would be forced to sally forth within the week. They were right.


The levies raised arms and prepared for battle. The skirmishers readied their slings and javelins. A sea of pikes bristled. It was time.


The gates opened, and the forces of Sinope poured out. Half starved, the soldiers had a look of grim determination on their faces. There would be no retreat for them. They would fight, or they would die.


The Greeks charged as the skirmishers released their javelins. Holding their hopla aloft, the Greek warriors were protected from the barrage of stones and missiles. They closed in on the Pontikoi skirmishers, a collection of young farmers and herdsmen, and the line broke. Barely fit to hold a sword, they turned and ran, desperately seeking the safety of the phalanx.


As the skirmishers weaved between the rows of pikes, the men within the phalanx readied themselves for the coming battle. Digging in their heels and gritting their teeth, the phalanx held as a mass of bronze and battle ready hoplites crashed into the line. Five good men fell in the initial charge, but the soldiers behind were quick to take their place.


As the levies battled in the center of the line, Aigicoros himself led a desperate charge towards the Pontikoi cavalry. Calling out, Ariobarzanes commanded his honor guard to retreat, and Arsames was happy to oblige. With no hope of catching the enemy cavalry, Aigicoros pressed on, smashing his personal guard into the left flank of the phalanx. The Basileus immediately saw the danger of encirclement, and drove his cavalry headlong into the enemy.


The Greeks were ready for them. Their doru poked and prodded at the horses, driving them wild, and Ariobarzanes saw one of his closest companions die before him, his horse brought down and his brains dashed out by a fateful blow. Fearing for his life, he ordered a retreat. As the king's guard retreated, Ariarathes was ready. Horns blew and spears lowered and a second charge crashed into Aigicoros' guard.


It was not enough, and Ariarathes ordered his horsemen away from the fight. This was it. Arsames cried out, but his voice escaped him. He looked down at his knuckles. They were bone white from gripping his kontos, and when he relaxed his grip, it seemed as if his spear would shake right out of his hands. Clearing his throat, he gave the order to charge and kicked his horse forward. The sound of hooves was an earthquake around him.


The force of the charge shattered his kontos, and it drove clean through the gleaming bronze of a grizzled hoplite who immediately dropped his shield and gripped his doru in both hands. Shifting his body in his saddle, Arsames dodged a thrust that would have skewered him like a stuck pig. Dropping the useless lance, Arsames drew his kopis and lashed out at the man, opening his throat. With widened eyes and a gaping mouth, the man fell to his knees. The screams of the dying replaced the thunder of the charge.

He looked around. All around him his guard was pressing hard upon the Greek's line. Men fell like the man before him, their blood seeping into the ground like rainwater. He looked at the dying Greek. He looked odd, resting on his knees in the mud and the blood. Arsames wondered who he was, if he had a family. Then, the line broke. Shaking himself out of his trance, Arsames bellowed out the order to pursue. He was a boy no longer.


Aigicoros wouldn't live to face his cowardice. As he ordered the retreat, he was knocked to the ground by an armored boot. Struggling to rise, he caught the sharpened edge of a horseman's kontos. It entered between his shoulders, and the horseman pushed with all his might, driving the stake through the king's chest and into the ground. Aigicoros looked up and saw his men retreat, before the shower of hooves rained down upon him.


The death Aigicoros was too much for the soldiers of Sinope. Faced with the fate of their once proud king, they began to flee, first as individuals and finally as a host. Arsames watched as his brothers charged, cutting down all within their path.


It was a massacre.


Men trampled over one another to reach the safety of the city walls. Comrades forgot their brothers as panic descended upon the soldiers of Sinope.


The city walls would bring no respite. Ariobarzanes himself led the charge into the city, cutting down soldier and citizen alike as he made a beeline for the town square. Women pulled at their hair, children screamed, and soldiers dropped their arms and begged for mercy.


As he pushed into the city square, Ariobarzanes blew his war horn. A cheer rose up among the ranks. The city was theirs.


Later that night

Darkness fell over Sinope, and despite the obscuring clouds which had rolled over the city like the army before them, the market square was lit up like midsummer’s day. Braziers burned brightly on every corner, music played from every home and wine flowed freely from every cup.


Ariobarzanes gave his brother a playful shove and a lecherous wink. “Oh, come on Ariarathes, live a little! There are plenty of fine women in this city, and all of them willing to show fealty to their new lords! You should take them up on the offer.”

Ariarathes grinned. The Basileus was deep in his cups, that much was sure. “And how do you think your dear sister would feel if she knew her honorable King was encouraging her husband to stray?” He chuckled to himself as he watched Ariobarzanes stumble and catch his balance on a royal guardsman.

Ariobarzanes snorted in contempt. “Bah, I thought you were supposed to be a Greek! Perhaps you’d enjoy the company of a young boy instead?”

Ariarathes burst into laughter along with his companions. “Why don’t you go find our little brother and get him to bed a woman? He has yet to find a wife that he can dishonor.”

Nodding in approval, the king sauntered off to find Arsames, followed closely by four of his royal cavalry. Breathing deeply, Ariarathes enjoyed the cool air that blew south off the Pontos Euxinus. The night was still young, and to the victor goes the spoils. Draining his cup, Ariarathes wondered what fortune would bring him. Pushing the memories of war out of his mind, he made his way to the market square, where suckling pig and fresh grapes were being served to all manner of soldiers, both noble and common.


The morning after.

Arsames woke to the sound of shouting.  He tried to stand, but the fire within his head caused him to reel. With bleary eyes, he looked over at the young maid who lay asleep in his bed. Who was she? She had long and curly black hair, but he couldn’t remember her name, much less anything else that had happened that night. Rolling over on his side, he retched into an empty jug of wine. “How much did I drink last night?” He closed his eyes, but the shouting persisted. With great effort, he roused himself from the sheets, tousled and damp from his own sweat.

As he left his room, he found himself standing in the hall of King Aigicoros. Members of the royal cavalry were lying on the floor of the great hall, most of them trapped in their drunken dreams. A few soldiers noticed him and made an effort to stand, but he motioned for them to relax. His head pounded as he made his way towards the shouting, and as he approached closer he recognized the voice. It was his brother.

Ariobarzanes was in a rage, his face red and twisted with anger. Navid, his hulking retainer stood beside him, and Arsames recognized his mistress in the bed behind him, her face white. Shards of broken pottery lay strewn about the room, and standing before him was a portly man in fine clothes. Glancing briefly at Arsames, he turned his gaze back towards the man before him.

“How could my father leave me with such a debt? Surely the value of this city will relieve most of the cost taking it!”

The portly man looked concerned. His hands were clasped together in an attempt to belay any fidgeting, but the man’s fears were written plainly on his face. “My most sincere apologies, Basileus, but there is nothing I can do. Your father had expensive taste, and of course we have to provide for our soldiers. My arithmetic tells me that it will be many years before the crown can begin spending again.”

Ariobarzanes glowered at the man. “Alkimos, how many years have you served my father?”

Alkimos stammered, “Twenty three winters, my lord. I have been a loyal servant to the crown.”

Ariobarzanes smiled. “And I am not calling your loyalty into question. Rather, I am questioning your usefulness. Your service was valued by a different crown, but I am the Basileus now. And I have never found your services to be valuable.” He smiled. “Navid, please escort this man outside of the palace. I wouldn’t want to stain my new floors.”

The giant Kappadokos nodded, “Of course, Basileus.” Navid stepped forward as Alkimos stepped back, his face pale as the snow.

“Your grace,” Alkimos stuttered, “surely you can’t do this! Your father…” Navid grasped his arm with a huge hand.

“My father is dead.” Ariobarzanes turned away as Navid pushed past Arsames, dragging the eunuch into the hallway. He looked back. “I’m sorry you had to see that, brother, but you are the Koiranides, and someday you may have to make the decisions of a Basileus."

Arsames silently nodded, not trusting himself to speak past the lump in his throat, and he could hear the screams of the portly man echo through the great hall. Stepping out of his brother’s chambers, Arsames watched the poor man kick and bite at his captor, to no avail. “If this is the duty of the Basileus,” he thought, “I am not fit to be king.”



Thanks! Trust me, there will be more! AAR's die out often, but I'm really enjoying this so far, and I can't see myself stopping anytime soon.

I might want to set up polls in the future if there's enough interest. It would be cool to have a sort of council which could make decisions on important matters.


Grandmaster Knight
Great AAR, normally I can't be bothered to read them, but this is actually fairly interesting.


Pretty good, aye. Interesting enough for me to follow, for sure. Haven't played EB in a while, so it's a nice timing for it. :razz:
Very well written, but I did have a few problems in distinguishing factions and names. But that's probably because I'm not familiar with this theatre in EB, so not your fault. Ill definitely follow it.


Knight at Arms
Great AAR, can't wait for the next chapter. Too bad that the Succession game that Temuzu made died..


I don't often read AARs but hey, Pontus. Pontus is awesome and so is your well-written AAR. Very nice. :razz:


Hm? What happened with the spy? Had him executed or did he just fail a mission?

I've never played Europa Barbarorum myself.


i'm a bit confused myself. first he's a councilor executed by the new king, next he's a spy who died on a failed mission. could use some explanations.
great read so far.


The original king had a chief eunuch as one of his ancillary character's, and I used one of my spies to represent him (or rather, to represent his network of contacts). The new king did not have a eunuch as an ancillary character, and because the spy was lost during a mission, I decided to write the eunuch out of the story. Just a little role playing exercise. That's all.

Jeeze guys, try to keep up, will ya?  :razz:

Also, new chapter coming soon, maybe tonight. Here's another action shot!

Warning: May contain small amounts of digitized penii. Admins, if this picture presents a significant problem, please let me know and I will gladly take it down. I've posted shot's of gaesatae before but I'm just being careful, I wouldn't want to get warned or muted!  :oops:



Chapter 2 - The Calm before the Storm

The mountains outside Amaseia
Winter, 261 B.C.

Ariobarzanes shivered. The air was dry but cool, and his torch provided little warmth as he descended into the great mausoleum. Excavated by his father’s best architects, the caves served as a final resting place for Ktistes Mithridates Kianos. Reaching the tomb, he brushed the inscription of his father’s name. The stone was cold, and he drew his hand back. Holding back a tear, Ariobarzanes uttered a prayer to Men. “What would you have me do, father?” he asked, his tired voice echoing throughout the caverns.


Ten years had passed since the capture of Sinope, and fortune had smiled on the Kingdom of Pontos. His own son Mithridates had grown into a fine young man, able to fraternize with noble prince and common soldier alike, and Arsames was more than willing to renounce his title of Koiranides in favor of the young Mithridates. Moreover, his daughter’s had found strong husbands, Dionysius and Holophernes, both capable men willing to meet the challenges of leadership head on.


The security of his line wasn’t the only luck Ariobarzanes found. An alliance with the Celts in Galatia had provided his realm with added security, and the pacification of the barbarians had allowed him to finally pay off his father’s massive debt.


With the promised support of the Celts, Ariobarzanes was able to successfully capture the city of Trapezous. The city brought new trade routes into the realm, but it also brought new headaches to the aging king. His son in law Holophernes was a good man, but he was a Scythian, and perhaps too harsh a governor for the Greeks in Trapezous. Rioters tore through the streets, driving away merchants and craftsmen, but it was not the riots which brought the Basileus to seek guidance before his father’s tomb. It was an army.


Scouts reported vanguard from Seleukeia, making its way north toward the capital Amaseia. With Ariarathes busy governing the city of Sinope and Arsames marching towards Trapezous to quell the rebellion, Ariobarzanes felt isolated. The army was not large, but it was well equipped and days away from the capital. No declaration of war had come from Antiochus in the south; nevertheless, Ariobarzanes was wise enough to know that war was at his borders.


The Palace of Amaseia
Spring, 260 B.C.

“We should meet them in the field! The winter snows are over, and it won’t be long before they march north into our lands.” Mithridates fumed. The young Koiranides had little patience for those who would test his resolve. “How long father? How long before they steal our crops, slaughter our livestock and murder our people?”

Ariobarzanes frowned. “If we march now, we must be wholly prepared for war. This is not the first vanguard to approach our borders, and to cross into Kappadokia to attack Arche Seleukeia would send the wrath of Antiochus down upon us.” There had been a time when he would have agreed with the crown prince. Ariobarzanes held no love for sons of Seleukos, but the burden of rule demanded prudence, and the might of his rivals could not be ignored.

Dionysius shifted uncomfortably in his seat. His brother in law had been arguing with the Basileus for hours, and he tired of debate. “Perhaps we should wait for Arsames to return before we make any drastic decisions?"

Mithridates spat. “No doubt he’ll take his sweet time returning.”

Ariobarzanes nodded in reluctant agreement. Arsames was never one to hurry. “What would you have me do, son?”

“Gather the levies and ride out tomorrow. The strategoi of Seleukeia will never expect an attack inside their own borders.”

Dionysius spoke. “Would that be wise Basileus? Would we leave the capital defenseless?”

Mithridates glared at the Greek, but spoke to his father. “They won’t attack Amaseia if our forces besiege Mazaka. They will want to deal with our army before they mount an attack.”

Ariobarzanes frowned again, and stroked at the graying hairs of his beard. “And what will we do if they decide to deal with our army?”

Mithridates smiled. “Why, we would defeat them of course.”

Ariobarzanes sighed. Besieging a city was no small undertaking, but it was preferable to defending one. Turning to one of his clerks, he spoke with tired but determined voice. “Gather the levies and alert our kinsmen. We ride for war.”


The hills of Kappadokia

A fortnight had passed since the fateful decision, and Mithridates smiled as they approached the foothills of Kappadokia. His body was tingling with anticipation, and he rested his calloused hand on the hilt of his kopis, eager to spill the blood of his enemies. Finally, he would teach the dogs of Seleukeia!


Horns were blown, and the Pontic cavalry marched ahead of the main army. The skies were dark, the ground seeped with rainwater, but the kinsmen marched on. There was no turning back.


With no hope of retreat, the Seleucid vanguard set up their defenses on a wooded hill, hoping to make use of the forest to dissuade a direct charge by the Pontikoi cavalry.


Their hopes were unfounded. As the kinsmen approached, the Seleucid peltasts released their javelins, but the rain made their vision poor, and they clattered harmlessly short of the kinsmen cavalry.


Unwilling to withstand another barrage, Ariobarzanes charged. Wheeling his cavalry to the right, he made his way up the muddy hill, followed closely by Dionysius and his guard.


Fearing the charge of their enemies, the skirmishers turned on their heels, desperately hoping to reach the safety of the forest…


…but the kinsmen were close behind.


With a great crash, the lines met. Spears and swords shattered while bones and shields broke! A horse reared up and kicked at the man in front of him, breaking his nose and sending him to the ground. A kontos lunged and caught a skirmisher in the liver, his black blood pouring out and staining his tunic. Ariobarzanes saw a kinsmen being pulled to the ground behind him, and turning around, he drove his horse into the group of attackers, his kopis hacking at shield and limb, cutting through bronze and flesh and bone.


As the battle continued, the skirmishers who escaped to the forest found no respite. On the orders of his father, Mithridates avoided the initial charge and entered the forest unseen, and as the battle began, he sprang his trap. Caught unawares, the archers were no match for the heavily armed and armored kinsmen.


The battle slowed, and the dead men of Seleukeia were innumerable, but among them their captain was nowhere to be found. The kinsmen cheered, and Ariobarzanes blew his great horn three times, but Mithridates was not yet willing to end the hunt. Spotting two figures retreated from the forest, he signaled another charge.


Despite their haste, the two cowards couldn’t outrun the horses which trailed behind them, and as the Pontic cavalry closed on the deserters, Mithridates recognized armor befitting of a captain of Seleukeia.


He called out. “Hold!” The men dropped their sword as the cavalry encircled them, and Mithridates dismounted. He walked over to the prisoners. “Name yourself, dog!” He spat.

The man’s voice was loud and strong, but his trembling hands betrayed his nerves. “I am Captain Hypatos, son of Kleitos, and I command that you take me and my companion unharmed.”

Mithridates laughed. “And why do you presume that I follow your command?”

Hypatos was silent. The look on his face was pure contempt.

Turning around, Mithridates called out to his companions. “Who among you would wish to honor yourself and your family by slaying this man?” A chorus of responses came arose the crowd, but Mithridates had chosen his champion before he asked, a brave warrior who had risked his own life to protect the Koiranides during the siege of Trapezous. “Mahvir, come forward and do me this honor!”

A muscled man stepped down from his horse. Clad in the finest scale and wielding an iron kopis, he stepped forward. “Yes Koiranides.” He removed his helmet, and his black curly hair fell down around his shoulders. He glared at the Seleucid captain. “Pick up your sword.”

Hypatos scrambled for his sword, and the horsemen around him backed off to form a circle. Standing up, he readied himself for battle.

Mahvir fell upon him like an eagle falls upon a hare.  Hypatos blocked blow after blow, but they continued to beat down upon the captain. His arms aching, he made a hopeless lunge at the furious Persikos who opposed him, but Mahvir stepped effortlessly to the side.


That was when he felt the bite. It was deep in his stomach, and a cheer rang out among the crowd. Hypatos looked down and saw a sea of red. He tried to tighten the grip around his sword, but found that his fingers had no strength. His sword fell to the ground, and he collapsed forward. As he lay face down in the mud, he wondered what his wife would say to him when he returned to Mazaka. He smiled as he watched the enemy cavalry gallop away from him. "Cowards," he thought as he closed his eyes.


The hills of Kappadokia
Later that evening

A fly rested on an unseeing eye. Reaching down, Dionysius brushed the insect away from his former companion. With a heavy heart, he closed the man's eyelids, placed a silver danake in his mouth, and prayed that he would receive safe passage through the rivers Styx and Acheron. Vultures had already begun to circle overhead, and the remaining kinsmen knew they would have to work quickly to bury the dead.


As vultures picked at the remaining bodies, the army continued south along the road towards Mazaka. The road led to war, and there was no turning back.
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