Heirs of the Achaemenids

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by 9 Fanged Hummingbird, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    Heirs of the Achaemenids: A Surviving Persian Empire

    A Game at Dinner

    336 B.C.

    [​IMG]

    Dark storm clouds had gathered over Persepolis this evening, an ill-omen that drew comparison from the attending nobles and courtiers about the more metaphorical cloud that was forming over their great empire. Upon climbing the steps into the banquet halls however, troubled thoughts were kept behind fake smiles and kept masked and hidden by fake laughter and fake joy. After all, they were all ostensibly gathered for a feast in celebration of their young King of Kings, Artaxerxes IV. All were keenly aware of the devious plots and machinations that were to take place this night and taking place now but lest they wished to end up on the wrong side of a blade they pretended all was well with the world and settled in to enjoy what would surely become a dangerous game at dinner.

    Such pretenses and worries disguised by merriment did not go unnoticed by the king's vizier Bagoas, however. As the chiliarch of the realm, he officially held more power than any but the King of Kings himself, but few in court were unaware that Bagoas was the power behind the throne as well, quite the achievement for someone who started out as a lowly court eunuch. He watched as the noblemen who formed the spokes of the wheels that turned the empire gather to reluctantly watch the disturbing theater of drama Bagoas had in mind to play. He retired to the king's chambers then to assuage young Artaxerxes' worries.

    The young monarch however was already in a bit of an irritable mood this morning. "I don't know why you insisted on having this pointless little banquet here today, Bagoas, I should think there's bigger things to deal with than what robes I should wear to the party, such as the petty little rebels you seem so reluctant to mention. Or perhaps the Greek invasion? I swear, your obsession with these trivialities is damnably idiotic."

    Bagoas bit back a grimace. Soon, he thought to himself, soon you won't have to deal with this little upstart. Putting on a rather unctuous smile, he assured the king, "The nobility all need a show of generosity and fun to put their minds at ease, Great King. We both know how small-minded the lot of them are, let them have their distractions and you will have a contented lot of tools at your disposal." And I will have an audience to witness what happens when you get in my way. "And besides, Arsham," he continued, using the King's real name, "I've invited Artashata since he's been making obvious overtures against your throne. This way he can't attend without putting himself in your hands but his absence will make the others suspicious as to his motives, a fine trap if I say so myself."

    "That Satrap of Armina, you mean? Yes, he seems almost as ambitious as others I could dare to mention. I suppose you've done well enough, for a eunuch. Go on then, leave me to my most important duties of preparing pointless speeches for a crowd of drunkards." Artaxerxes waved his hand dismissively and Bagoas bowed deeply as he backed away, finally glad he could leave the presence of the young lord while feeling secure he wouldn't ruin the plan. Knowing the feeling was mutual, he went to wander the halls of Persepolis for a few minutes before his banquet began. It seemed the King grew more and more short with him each passing day, doubtless tired of Bagoas being able to run everything behind his back. The eunuch was only mildly disappointed his attempts at being subtle failed, but he supposed such was impossible after he had poisoned so many royals including the late king Artaxerxes III, father of Arsham. Now his snippy young lord couldn't stand his presence but couldn't muster the influence to oust him either, resorting to mild insults. Bagoas imagined he'd have gotten an earful and corrected him on the Makedonian, not Greek, incursion that had recently began. So lost in bemused thoughts he was that he did not realize who had just stood in front of him until he was directly face to face with the man.

    Staring at him with cold, expressionless eyes and a regal bearing was a cousin to the Great King, royal Postmaster, and Satrap of Armina: Artashata. Momentary shock gone, Bagoas sharply whispered, "Just what do you think you are doing here? You weren't supposed to be in Persepolis yet! You come after tonight's feast with soldiers, or did you forget?"

    "I did not forget, sir," Artashata calmly replied, "I simply came at the King's invitation. You are aware I was given one, are you not?"

    "You weren't supposed to respond to it! It's all a part of the plan!" Bagoas took a few breaths and stopped seething. "No matter, just don't make a scene and we'll still be able to pull this off, don't forget the rewards."

    "I never forget the rewards given to those who are loyal." With that, Artashata bowed slightly and left. Glowering after him, Bagoas went to the royal banquet hall as the event was now starting, trusting his men in the kitchens had done their job. Sure enough, the place was filled with laughing noblemen and silent servants standing in the background who may as well have been invisible for all the attention paid to them. From outside they could hear the crack of thunder and the patter of heavy rain on the roof, but inside the hall was the vision of serene beauty. The architects had really done their work, with every bit of wall and column finely decorated and a ceiling made from fine wood of many varieties and well painted. A perfect setting for tonight's performance.

    Artaxerxes and his relatives and closest companions were in place at the table upon the royal dais, Artaxerxes at its head. Bagoas approached and Artaxerxes, acting much more warmly and cordially than an hour before, smiled and raised his drink to let Bagoas begin his speech. Bagoas politely bowed, and all in attendance stood as Bagoas began to talk. "As you are all no doubt aware, I have organized today's festivities myself as I am most grateful to our Great King, Artaxerxes IV! He has been on his father's throne for only two years and already great things have been accomplished by his glorious reign. Tonight is dedicated to His Majesty!" His hired servant boy from the kitchens approached holding a tray with a single filled cup upon it. Bagoas had the servant turn to face the King. "And to express my gratitude I offer this humble gift to our most noble King of Kings!"

    Artaxerxes rose and approached the tray. Lifting the cup, he smiled and said, "You are too kind, Bagoas." He looked to the crowd. "This humble servant of mine has served my family all his life, and he has served us well indeed! My father owed a great debt to this man..." At this moment Bagoas felt an incomprehensible chill, and started to perceive a shadow over him from behind. Manners and custom however compelled him to remain attentive to the king. "...Without this great and loyal man who stands before me, I would surely not sit in the chair I do today! So I feel it only honorable to thank him myself, Bagoas, you may drink this." And Artaxerxes extended his hand to Bagoas, still holding the cup originally given to him.

    For Bagoas, time seemed to freeze. For once he could not think of what to do. Weakly, he replied, "I couldn't, Great King, this cup is for you, not one so lowly as I!"

    "The King has offered you a drink, who are you to refuse? You must drink." This cold voice came from behind Bagoas, who turned around only to see Artashata still bearing the same cold expressionless gaze that felt like daggers in his skin. And behind Artashata was a scene even more grim, the jovial faces and grins of the guests of the King had all turned into the same evil glare pointed straight at Bagoas. So everyone knows but me? I am the only one not in on this cruel jest? Bagoas started to feel weak at the knees and wondered at how he could remain standing. He wanted to give a noble statement to all watching, but only tears came forth now. He was well and truly out of options.

    Hands shaking, Bagoas reached forth and accepted the cup from Artaxerxes, who still somehow maintained the same smirk from earlier that now seemed all the more smug and malicious. As he felt his breaths coming quickly in short pathetic gaps, the royal vizier stammered, "I-I only ever w-wanted to s-serve my empire..." And with that Bagoas gulped down the wine as quickly as he could, filling his body with the same poison meant for the King, the same poison used on the king's fathers and brothers. Within seconds he started convulsing into violent spasms, making agonized choking noises all the while. It was a disturbing scene but the King had made his point.

    "You have done well to tell me of this toad's plot, Artashata," he said, grimacing at the corpse his former vizier, "I wonder if that scum really did think he was serving the state rather than just himself. No matter, you shall be awarded his estates in Babylon for your service. And you shall receive his position, for Armina is too lowly a post for someone as useful as you. Though you shouldn't get too comfortable, we have work to do. After all, Philip is knocking our door looking to be invited, we can't just ignore him can we?"

    "Indeed we cannot, Great King."


    ___________________________________________

    So, new timeline from me, I've been trying to start it for a while and now I've finally decided to go through with it. Basically, the POD is that Bagoas' plot to kill Artaxerxes IV has failed, and now the Persians have an additional two years of more political stability than IOTL to get their house in order before a bigger storm than Philip comes a-knocking. So now we have a young and energetic visionary on the throne, freshly liberated from a scheming manipulator, and more militarily experienced generals to lead the troops. In case you are wondering, Artashata is in fact OTL's Darius III, and he shall yet have an even bigger role to play in the events that are unfolding, as will many other figures of this time who deserve more attention such as Memnon, a certain Molossian, and a whole host of Athenian statesmen.

    I should also note that this chapter was partially meant to ease y'all in. I shall plan on using more Persian names rather than their Greek bastardizations, and to that end I shall welcome all the constructive criticism and advice, both linguistic and historical, I can get because admittedly Classical Antiquity isn't my primary forte, especially in comparison to the wide depth of knowledge I know many of you possess. So please feel free to give input of whatever kind you can dish out!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  2. St. Just Angel of Death

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    A mistake
    I think Artaxerxes de-Hellenized is Ardeshir.
     
  3. Canassatego King of Ball

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    Artaxerxes= Artâkhshatra

    Xerxes= Khashayar

    Cyrus= Kurush

    Darius= Darayarahush

    Cambyses= Kamboujyeh
     
  4. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    I was under the impression that Darius came out more as Darayavaush, though I heard even the Persians shortened it to Darayaush or something like that. Ah well, lucky me that Darius/Artashata ain't on the throne. Yet. :p
     
  5. Grouchio Well-Known Member

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    Subscribed. Intirgued to see where this goes. Hopefully the Roman Empire is butterflied away in the future! :eek:

    And I'll see if I can get in a recap of the mid 4th century BC World. NikoZnate, wherever you are, I need your help with this!
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  6. Malta Kirked

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    Go forth in the name of Ahura Mazda.
     
  7. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    Chiliarch is the wrong title. Firstly because it's a military one, commander of 1000. True, the Commander of the Immortals was called that (by the Greeks), often filled the rôle of vizier, but not all viziers were military. I suppose a eunuch MIGHT have been commander of the Immortals, but it's hard to imagine.

    Second, it's a Greek word not a Persian one. That's less significant.
     
  8. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    My sources tell me that Bagoas was indeed a chiliarch, and yeah, I know the proper term would be hazarapati. Despite being a eunuch he was apparently a general in the armies of Artaxerxes III and certainly didn't waste any effort climbing his way into power.
     
  9. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    Hmmm... OK.
     
  10. SlyDessertFox Literally Natalie Portman Donor

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    You mentioned a certain Molossian...I can only assume Alexander The Molossian will have a little more luck this time. Possibly he will be the Alexander known as "The Great"? :cool:
     
  11. Arcvalons Just me.

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    I like this
     
  12. Monopolist Member

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    Really glad you're doing this. Subscribed. :)
     
  13. Errnge I'm back, bitches

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    Can' wait to see where this goes. Always glad to see another good Ancient TL out and about.

    Subscribed
     
  14. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    The Changing of the Crowns

    Three months later

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    As it would happen, Artashata had little time to settle in at his new estates in Babylon, for he had found himself invited to be a part of a small host of advisers the Shahanshah Artâkhshatra had gathered around his person in his royal estates in the city. Artakhshatra had summoned them all to help with a small handful of matters, notably the ongoing reconstruction works in Babylon, but primarily the no-small matter of an army of Makedonians trampling over their western borders. To that end there were a wide array of diverse personages gathered about the Royal Gardens, but there was one person who stood out among the sumptuously robed and bejeweled nobles, a Greek to be precise. None however found his presence particularly odd, for he and his late brother had both been welcomed back to the service of the King of Kings.

    Memnon the Greek was in fact speaking to Artakhshatra quite directly as Artashata arrived. "...I have seen these Makedonians in battle before, as I'm sure you're aware. Trust me when I tell you they are not to be trifled with." They both looked up as the Satrap of Armina and now hazarapati, vizier, of the empire arrived. Artashata bowed towards the king, complimenting on the fine works in Babylon he saw on the way in. The King had been restoring the great Babylonian temples called the Etemenanki and Esagila. Then addressed Memnon, "Truly, you have warred with Makedon? When did you fight this Philip?"

    "I didn't fight him per say, but when he attacked Byzantium and Perinthus a few years ago our late king bade me bring a force of my fellow Hellenes to discourage any further military adventures from him, part of an agreement with Athens actually."

    "Yes," Artakhshatra cut in, "we have been making many new friends in the courts of the Yaunas in their mainland. My dignitaries have been greatly assisted by a certain Demosthenes, but to be honest I can't make any sense of these foreign politics, I don't even know who this Demosthenes is in relation to his court!"

    Memnon smiled softly. "It is not precisely a court in Athens, Great King, but more of an assembly. You must understand, they have no kings of their own and choose their leaders by mass consensus at these assemblies."

    "Indeed?" Artakhshatra replied, "How strange these customs of the Yaunas. I suppose you know all about it though, Memnon."

    "Indeed I do, Great King. Demosthenes himself is but an orator at the assembly, but one of such skill he wields more influence than almost any other there. I've heard him speak myself, a most passionate and fiery individual to be sure. We are most fortunate he hates the Makedonians more than any other, so much so that he has been very cooperative with us. Unfortunately he has an equal named Phokion who is a fair bit more reticent about allying with your empire. He doesn't have the same flair and charisma as Demosthenes, but he is quite forceful in his terse speeches and is the soul of caution. Now that Athens has been forced to join Philip's 'Leage of Corinth' he has been a bit of an obstacle in our dealings with Athens."

    Artashata felt it his turn to cut in. "So you do know quite a bit about the politics of your home, but this is getting away from the point. We have to defeat Philip before he gets further into our country and you say you know just how to stop him."

    Memnon frowned. "That is the difficult part. He may have failed at Byzantium and Perinthus, but over open ground his army is nigh unstoppable. You yourselves have had difficulty fighting 'Yaunas' and Philip's already brought nearly the whole of Hellas under his heel! Fortunately for us Philip is not leading this army, but that is of small comfort. It is his best general, Parmenion, and an able statesman named Attalus who lead the forces in Anatolia, and they are but an advance force, yet they've already taken the Ionian cities on the coast. If we can't stop them soon I fear Philip himself will arrive with an even larger army in short notice. That might just spell the end of our rule in Anatolia entirely."

    "I've already assigned Mazaeus to hold off, er... Parmenion's army." The Shahanshah said, "He seems a trustworthy sort." Artashata approved, noting that he was a good man. "I should hope so, I've promised him the whole satrapy of Abarnahara [1] should he accomplish this task for me!"

    "A generous gift!" Artashata was mildly surprised. "I suppose he shall be the master of this city someday soon!" It was a comforting thought for him however as he was personally friends with Mazaeus. "So, Memnon, any ideas for stopping Parmenion?"

    Quickly thinking it over, he coolly replied. "It shall take no small amount of work. The whole army shall need to be reformed. I have noticed that one of the big problems you Aryans have is that the Hellenes wear thick armor and your arrows aren't strong enough to pierce it quite often. Cane is cheap, but if you have the fletchers start turning out arrows of a more solid wood with iron tips they may do much better. But the biggest advantage Philip has are his spears."

    "Spears?"

    "Yes, the spears. You see, like your people, my countrymen tend to use spears that are just a bit taller than a man. However, the Makedonians have started using spears three times that long, and have organized their army in such a way to create a massive wall of steel points that their enemies can't even reach through to stab them. The most ingenious part is that Philip did all this with an army of conscripted commoners rather than the rich men the Hellenes use who have to pay for their own equipment. The idea for this was actually the invention of an Athenian, Iphicrates. I knew him myself actually."

    "I don't suppose you personally know every Athenian of note, Memnon?"

    Memnon smiled. "Of course not, just the best ones. But in any case it is these long spears we shall have to worry about as much as their shields and armor. And not least Philip's excellent generalship and organization. The fact is, the Makedonian army he has created is quite possibly the finest force in the world, if they but had the numbers and wealth we possess they might just take over the world!"

    Artakhshatra deliberated over all this silently, finger curling his short beard in consternation. "If only we haven't had to squander so much of our funds through quelling the rebellions and fixing the corruption that resulted from Bagoas' poor handling of his duties. But this is important beyond all else and if I could not handle it I would not be King of Kings. So be it, I shall have you and our other strategists write up a memorandum on what is to be done to reform our army, then we shall stop this incursion into my domain."

    It was at this moment a man marked as a royal messenger came sprinting into the gardens. He stopped several feet shy of Artakhshatra's royal person and took several long moments to catch his breath. After doing so, he gave the appropriate signs of proskynesis before the king and with his permission informed all present, "I bring great news from the west. We have just been informed that the King of Makedon is dead!" The whole host of advisers and servants alike were shocked into momentary silence. Upon the king's inquiry into the manner of death, the messenger said, "We know very little so far, but it would seem he was killed by one of his own guards. A happy stroke of fate."

    Artakhshatra thought this over. "Ahura Mazda looks kindly upon our works it would seem. We shall not squander this opportunity and cannot wait any longer. Memnon! Artashata! You two shall ride west with all haste and meet up with Mazaeus, and from there you two shall both take command of our armies there and drive Parmenion and Attalus from our shores!"

    ------------------------------

    -Life of Artaxerxes and Alexander-

    As it would happen, the counter-offensive led by the Hellenic mercenary Memnon and the vizier Artashata would meet a quick but difficult campaign across the lands of Asia Minor. Without any leadership in Pella guiding them, Parmenion and Attalus had little choice but to fall back before the relentless assault of the renewed Achaemenid offensive. While they inflicted heavy losses in some cases, they themselves suffered much. By the time they reached a defensible position near the Hellespont, a new king had firmly established control over the Makedonian throne. This was Alexander III, eldest son of Philip of Makedon but to an estranged wife of his from the foreign land of Epirus, Olympias.

    Olympias had made many enemies in Pella, especially the powerful statesmen Antipater and Attalus, and when Philip had decided to marry a niece of Attalus, she withdrew to Epirus and Alexander very nearly followed after an insult from his father. But he had stayed in Pella and when the king found himself being murdered by a guard he had even more grievously offended, Alexander found himself in a good position to secure the throne for himself. Among rumors of his mother's or even his own involvement in Philip's murder, he had directed suspicion against their ancient enemies in Parsa, adding Artaxerxes III's interruption of Philip's wars as another grievance to be avenged.

    And he wasted no time in discrediting rivals and silencing local opposition to his rule as well. Attalus was a particularly suspicious nobleman to him, being the uncle of the woman whose marriage caused Alexander and Olympias' estrangement with Philip, and whose own ambitions clashed with those of Olympias and her ruling son. Parmenion was yet another of the old guard who had been close to Philip as well, and so to endear himself to his new king he had is comrade Attalus killed. Quickly after the bloody politics of Makedon wreaked havoc upon their forces, Memnon and Artashata went forth and drove Parmenion across the sea back into his homeland. It would be a few more years before Alexander could realize his father's dream of leading a mighty army into Asia.

    ____________________

    [1] Abarnara, or Eber-Nari, is the satrapy that controls Syria, Phoenicia, and even Mesopotamia IIRC. It should also be noted at this point that the Persian word for Greek "yauna" is derived from 'Ionia'.
     
  15. Grouchio Well-Known Member

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    Can I do some historical portraits soon? :D
     
  16. rldragon Well-Known Member

    Actually, the greatest strength of the Macedonians weren't the phalanxes, which almost always fulfilled the role of the "anvil", but rather the combination of Macedonian cavalry and the Shield-bearers (later Silver-shields) which constituted the "hammer".

    Other than that, I am completely enthralled. Can't wait to see more of this, as the Macedonian era is one of the few areas where I actually possess enough knowledge to be able to constructively participate, as well as being a favorite of mine.

    Eagerly awaiting for more.
     
  17. 9 Fanged Hummingbird Some Random Guy

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    Go ahead, knock yourself out.
    And it seems the Persians are going to have to learn that the hard way like they did IOTL. ;)
     
  18. SlyDessertFox Literally Natalie Portman Donor

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    If Memnon isn't completely hamstrung by the other Persian commanders in Anatolia though, they might have more luck. :cool::cool:
     
  19. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Nice detail, well written. I'll be following. I am also curious to see what effects this has on Rome
     
  20. Huehuecoyotl Reinar es Agridulce

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    Nice to see another 9FH timeline. I'm interested to see where you'll take this one. :D