|This article is about the scenario in Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten. For the scenario in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, see The Rebellion of Melus (Definitive Edition).|
I walked downstairs the next morning, searching for my father. His health was far from adequate, and I worried that the wine he had drunk the night before might have made him ill. The battle of the night before was also fresh in my mind, and it chilled my blood. I whirled around, and found myself staring straight into my father's eyes. "Son, are you alright?" he asked.
"Yes," I lied, "a late night and a bad dream, that's all. Father, could you tell me of the rebellion of Melus?" I asked. "You must have been a young man at the time, and your stories seem to take my mind away from the horrors surrounding us."
Michael sat down by the window. The sun shone through onto his gaunt face, and although he was 82 years of age, he did not look it. Thick grey hair lay on the top of his head and his limbs were still supple from his many years as a sailor and a soldier. He began the story:
"I have been a soldier of this city since the year 1005, when I was 16 years of age. Since our family has lived here for so long, I was able to serve under Lord Melus himself, the highest-ranking Lombard nobleman in the city. He needed somebody who knew the lay of the land and whose family was respected enough by all of the locals, and I was ambitious and eager to serve. I became his best man.
Melus was always passionate, but distant. He always was secretive and never showed me any praise, and was sometimes quite harsh and blunt. But I was loyal and happy to carry out his orders. When he summoned me to his castle one day, I assumed it was just another ordinary mission."
- Bari (Italians) is located in the central-eastern part of the map, facing the Adriatic Sea. Once the rebellion of Melus breaks out, all buildings, except the castle where Melus spoke to Michael Nautikos, would be taken over by the "Rebels". The player must defeat the rebels and bring Michael back to this castle.
- Byzantine Empire (Byzantines) is initially occupying Bari together with Melus' troops. Their troops are mainly made up of Tagmata (mostly Legionaries with a few Centurions) and Varangian Guards (Halberdiers). Melus would give a group of Byzantine Tagmata (only Legionaries) and Varangian Guards to the player before the player is to meet the leader of Brindisi. Once the rebellion breaks out, the Byzantine Empire's troops would be quickly defeated by the rebels.
- Friendly Lombards (Goths) are controlling a village in the north (northwest of Bari) where Michael is to meet the chieftain to demand for more troops as instructed by Melus; another much smaller village near the west gate of Bari where Michael is to meet the theign to get a few soldiers from him (after fleeing Bari); and a gold mining area in the southern tip of the map which would be taken over by the player if Michael personally goes there. If Michael goes back to the northern village after controlling Capua, they would request for one tower before submitting themselves to the player.
- Local Italians (Italians) are controlling Brindisi (in the east) and Potenza (in the southwest). Both of them are trading partners with Bari and later the rebels. Melus would send Michael to Brindisi to demand for tribute, which the leader (a Monk) relunctantly agreed to pay. Potenza would request Michael to help destroy the rebel camp on the bridge east of Potenza, and kill Dattus of Bari, and once succeed, Potenza would submit themselves to the player.
- Normans (Franks) is controlling Capua, in the west of the map. Once Michael enters Capua to see the Norman lord, they would request to bring them a relic into their monastery (they would give the player a Monk to do this), then they will submit themselves to the player. They also possess two military camps for 2 seconds before taken over by the rebels - one in the west, just south of Capua separated by a cliff; another in the south, in the middle of the bridge east of Potenza. This would explain the "Western European" architecture of these two camps, instead of the "Central European" or "Mediterranean" ones.
Ally → enemy
- Melus (Byzantines) is the lord of Bari, and the one who started the rebellion against the Byzantine Empire. In the early game, he at the main castle of Bari would assign Michael for errands. At the 2nd second of the game, this player would take over nearly all "Rebels" over the map, except those along the route from Bari to the northern Lombard village. He become enemies with the player after Michael flees Bari due to the rebellion outbreak.
Enemy → ally → enemy
- Rebels (Goths) is the primary opponent of the player, initially having a few troops along the way from Bari to the nearby Lombard village, and later taking control over Bari after Melus started the rebellion. They would also take over two small military camps from the Normans at the 2nd second of the gameplay - one in the west, just southeast of Capua; another in the middle of the bridge east of Potenza. They are at the Imperial Age, therefore technologically having the upper hand. They would actively attack the player with cavaliers, Huskarls, and sometimes with trebuchets, scorpions, pikemen, etc.
Michael Nautikos and his lord, Melus of Bari, are having a conversation at the main castle in Bari. Melus orders Michael (the player) to go to the nearby Lombard village in the north and get some soldiers. Michael questions the necessity for this since Bari is well-guarded with Tagmata, but Melus refuses to reveal his own intention and simply orders Michael to go. At this point, the player controls Michael and two Throwing Axemen. The way to the village is blocked by some 'rebels' which must be dealt with - as forces are limited, taking advantage of higher ground where possible and luring enemies away from large groups is recommended. Note that Michael himself gradually heals damage but the Throwing Axemen do not -- using Michael to lure and to tank much of the damage can be effective as long as he doesn't get himself killed: he can then heal up before venturing further.
Upon arriving in the village, the Lombard chieftain turned down the request for soldiers, saying that because of the rebel threat there are no men available to supply Melus. Thus, the player must bring Michael back to see Melus. Since there will again be rebels, take advantage of the village monk to get everyone fully healed before departing. Careful management of the tiny force will once again prove necessary to survive.
Melus now sends Michael to Brindisi, east of Bari, to demand tribute. The now player receives a few more soldiers, consisting of Tagmata and Varangian Guards.
Michael meets the leader of Brindisi, a Monk. The Monk initially refuses to pay, as he foresees that Melus was actually plotting a rebellion against the Byzantine Empire, pointing out the fact that Melus' forces consist of Lombards and Normans who only answered to Melus and not the Byzantine Empire. In the end the monk leader reluctantly agrees to pay, after being pressed by Michael to do so, even though Michael harbors similar doubts.
As Michael returns to Bari, the player witnesses the breakout of rebellion. Michael then learns that Melus himself started the rebellion, and quickly flee Bari with his own men -- Michael will need to head northwest out of Bari, but it is recommended to leave via the second gate rather than the one that leads back to the beach. Once Michael is a certain distance from Bari, both Melus and the Rebels become enemies with the player. The player must fight more enemies, after which Michael can visit the nearby Lombard thane and get a few soldiers from him. The thane points out that Michael could get help from Capua (a Norman town in the west) and Potenza (in the southwest).
Michael must now get safely to Capua at the far west point of the map with his limited forces (although he can legally visit Potenza as well, this simply reveals Potenza's steep requirements to be recruited, which Michael will not be able to accomplish without recruiting Capua's aid).
The way to Capua is guarded by several substantial groups of Melus' troops. Some of these can be avoided through timing movements carefully and ducking into the swamp and killing a few wolves. Where enemies must be fought, it may be best to use one unit to lure small groups of them at a time (sometimes only some of a formation of troops will chase the player's units upon catching sight of them, and the others will continue on their patrols). Once again, use of high ground as well as luring is useful. Note there is also a large group of wolves near the road intersection -- the enemy soldiers can often be induced to fight these wolves.
Upon arriving in Capua, the Norman Lord requests the retrieval of a Relic, which is located at the intersection the player recently snuck past, the one with the large group of wolves. In order to retrieve the relic, a monk joins the party, and can be used to heal Michael's forces. The player must once again contend with Melus' groups of troops, but they are once again visible when near the key intersection, and so through timing and guile the enemy forces can be defeated in detail. If the wolves remain near the relic, they can be lured away or onto the enemy troops; or, if the monk approaches the relic alone (with enemy troops not present) he can safely retrieve it as the wolves will not attack the monk. Once the relic is safely retrieved, it must be put in Capua's Monastery to trigger the next section.
The player is now given control of Capua and should begin constructing a base and an economy. Note that the relic is ejected from the monastery at this point, and should be retrieved and regarrisoned to generate gold.
The Rebels must be defeated by destroying their buildings and units (though it is not necessary to destroy the buildings that do not produce units). The player is stuck at the Castle Age, but both enemies - Melus and the Rebels, are in the Imperial Age. Some work on economy and defense will be needed before the player can build up enough force to go on the offensive.
One potential strategy is to build Stone Walls and Gates with Guard Towers at the bridge outside Capua as well as at the forest path leading to Potenza near the small Rebel camp. Within this area, the player can build a large farming area to gather food.
Capua itself provides an unlimited supply of wood, gold, and stone. The forest in the western tip of the map outside the wall has 6 spots providing a tree repeatedly respawning after being chopped and used up. Within the town, there are Gold Mines and Stone Mines, and one mine of each time will respawn whenever used up (note that it may be necessary to manually move gatherers further away to leave room to trigger the respawn). [Note: The Gold and Stone miners will always block the area where the Gold and Stone Mine respawn, and the player will have to manually move them away each respawn. So in order to fully automate the process, delete the Mining Camp. By the time the villagers deliver the Gold/Stone to the Town Center after exhausting the mine, it will have respawned.]
In terms of additional gold, there are gold mines at the southern tip of the map, with a few Lombard Villagers and guarded by a Watch Tower and a Spearman. If Michael approaches these Lombards, they will join his cause. Gold can also be generated by sending trade carts to either Potenza or the Lombard Village in the northwest of the map -- but note that if and when the player takes over these markets by fulfilling the conditions of their towns, the ability to trade with them will cease. This might be a reason to leave the Lombard village neutral for a time.
Although permanently stuck in the Castle Age, the player has two main ways to get access to imperial units:
1 - By taking over Potenza (see section below), the player gains control of its castle which can produce Elite Cataphracts.
2 - Monks can be used to convert enemy units, particularly Cavaliers and Huskarls. If Monastery upgrades are taken, monks can even be used with care to gain control of enemy siege weapons such as Trebuchets and Bombard Cannons - these can repaired and kept in reserve until the player is ready to go on the attack. Thus, a strategy of building large groups of Monks may be helpful in overcoming masses of imperial units, although substantial "micro" can be required to achieve best results.
Meanwhile once an economy has been built the player should build enough military buildings to produce masses of whatever units the player can afford - e.g. knights, skirmishers, pikemen, etc and trying to keep a full population cap of army in the field at all times, gradually reducing the enemy's territory, taking over the secondary objective towns, and finally knocking out production and military buildings in Bari.
Since the enemy cannot rebuild production buildings, knocking them out permanently reduces enemy military capacity and should therefore be considered a primary objective.
Once the Rebels are defeated (kill all enemy soldiers and ships, and destroy all military-producing buildings), the player must bring Michael back to the courtyard outside the castle in Bari, where the player started. Michael then wonders about the absence of Melus. The scenario is won.
Due to terrain problems, it is impossible to build Docks outside Capua, and the player will need to take over either Potenza or the Lombard village (see section below) to gain access to docks.
Taking over Potenza
Once Michael meets the Lord of Potenza (a Two-Handed Swordsman) at his castle, the player is given the task to destroy the Rebel camp on the bridge in the east of Potenza, and kill the Knight hero Dattus of Bari. Once done, Michael must return to meet the Lord again to take over the entire town and all the units (and receive a substantial tribute of resources). Note that if friendly monks are used to convert buildings in the town, the scenario script will not realize they have been destroyed and the objective will not progress until/unless the buildings are deleted by the player.
Taking over the Lombard village
After taking control over Capua, if Michael returns to the Lombard chieftain in the northwest, the chieftain will request that the player build a tower on the spot marked with a flag. Once completed, the player immediately takes over everything in the village, including the units. This ends the ability of the player to send trade carts to the village for gold, but gives the player access to docks and fishing on the northern sea.
Michael stood up, walked over to the fireplace, and added more wood, stoking the fire with a poker. "1011. It had been 2 years since I had stood in the courtyard of Melus' castle in Bari. After the siege, the rebel army was defeated and Bari was repossessed by the Empire. The new Catapan of this land made me a captain in the army I helped him recruit from the countryside."
"Father, what of Melus?" I asked. "You told me that when you entered the city and took his castle, he was gone!" Michael coughed, a ghastly sound to hear. "I neither saw nor heard from Melus again, but I know that he was slain soon after." He took another draught of wine. I then asked: "Father, you said that Melus recruited barbarians to fight. Who? The Normans and the Apulian Lombards fought with you!"
"Goths, Slavs, Germans, even Arab horsemen. Melus reached far for help, and some came even whom were not asked. But there was one more group whose help Melus enlisted," Michael added angrily. "Who, father?" I asked. "A new generation of Norman adventurers, the fathers of the scum who attack our city as we speak," he answered. "It is because of Melus that this new menace is upon us."