You are led to a huge, ornate palace. On either side of you in the audience hall there are golden mechanical lions who open their mouths and roar. In golden trees are mechanical birds who sing. In front of you, seated upon a golden throne, is the emperor, attended by a chief minister. You approach the throne and prostrate yourself in front of it. You are bidden to rise and when you look up you discover that the emperor, throne and all, is suspended high above your head. Later, imperial officials give you rich presents and inform you that more wealth and support will be forthcoming if you will fight the emperor’s enemies (pocketing any booty you may pick up along the way). It was a rare tribal chief who would turn down such an offer. This process was repeated time and time again throughout the history of Byzantium and it encouraged many to ally with the empire.