A few centuries before, the Caďinorians had looked up to the Cuzeians as older brothers— leaders in the fight with Munkhâsh and pioneers in the arts and technologies of civilization. But by Nusisponos’s time Cuzei was a sad spectacle— corrupt, divided between multiple realms, riven by theological quarrels. The zîtenarrûos Zeilisio IV was a typical specimen, an alcoholic given to lecturing the Caďinorian ambassador on the glory days of Cuzei.
At the same time the cities of Cuzei maintained a cultured lifestyle that still enchanted and sometimes titillated the more warlike Caďinorians. Nusisponos had visited Eleisa several times, even romancing a Cuzeian namiēi; like many in the Caďinorian élite he spoke Cuêzi well.
The general of the army, Bēgisios, rebelled in 1010. This too was almost routine; perhaps he would kick Zeilisio out and take his place. It was a little unusual that he claimed to have an invisible battalion of iliu in his army, and that he had added two mētū to the deity— Enäron and Usolu (“darkness”), representing the virtues of war and chaos whose lack he felt explained Cuzei’s weakness. The prophet Examnās symbolically rent the Cloth of Cuzei, to show that the favor of Iáinos was now lost.
When Bēgisios surrounded Eleisa, Zeilisio panicked, and asked the Caďinorians for help. This also was not unprecedented; Caďinas had responded to such appeals before, and left afterwards. Nusisponos responded to the appeal with alacrity; a short incursion to end an unseemly civil war seemed a gallant use of Caďinorian strength.
He marched his army to the Eärdur and entered Eleisa in 1012; he was hailed as a liberator. He garrisoned enough troops in the capital to make it safe for Zeilisio, then pursued Bēgisios. But the heretic general stayed out of reach, adopting guerrila tactics— burning a House here, destroying a Caďinorian or loyalist garrison there. This didn’t build support for his rebellion, but after a few years it soured relations between the Cuzeians and the Caďinorians. More and more the Cuzeians blamed the war on Nusisponos and considered his army to be barbarian occupiers. Examnās began to preach resistance, and other Cuzeians rebelled.
Bēgisios was finally tracked down and killed in 1015, which produced a period of comity.
But within a few years the situation had worsened. The Cuzeians felt it was high time for the Caďinorians to leave; and shouldn't the Caďinorians go back to fighting Munkhâsh instead? But Nusisponos was never quite satisfied with the security situation— there was effectively no Cuzeian army at all now— and to leave was increasingly seen as a defeat. And to be defeated by isolated rebels, sullen graffiti, and mouthy prophets was particularly unacceptable. After all, they had intervened for the benefit of these ungrateful people.
Zeilisio died in 1024; Nusisponos did not allow another zîtenarrûos to be named, for fear of simply creating a figurehead for resistance. Instead he declared that both the Houses and cities of Cuzei were under the protection of Caďinas.
What did this mean exactly? Should Caďinorian law apply to Cuzei? If not, how could Cuzeian law apply without an Emperor or his Council? Caďinorian nobles were firmly subject to the king, but the Cuzeian lords stubbornly explained that the Lords were really sovereign and the emperorship was elective— a situation that had been only a theoretical abstraction a thousand years before.
Nusisponos reacted to all this with increasing irritation and sometimes with force— he quickly made it clear, for instance, that he would move and station Caďinorian troops wherever he wanted. But he largely left the problem to his successor, his son Besclaies. He died in 1031; the Cuzeians immediately petitioned for a new zîtenarruôs and their independence. Besclaies would inherit a crisis.
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