Discussion in 'Civ4 - Stories & Tales' started by Pacifist46, Feb 8, 2009.
Great update thank you pacifist
Great update, and nice region names on the world map at the end. Congtrats on killing Cyrus! So who's next?
and 2 august it's not so far
When will you conquer the last city of india??
Thanks guys for your appreciation.
I capitulated India so unless Asoka breaks free (which is VERY unlikely) I will not be able to take the last city just laziness on my part that was!
However I played 30 turns or so more this morning and wiped out another rival, so that war will likely split the next chapter into two updates. Who was my target though? It's guessable, but you'll have to wait until 2nd August to be sure of who it is .
Well, I have just spent the last hour or so reading all 14 pages of this thread, and have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Great story thus far Pacifist.
XIII - A Crusade of Sorts
Joseph ben Symon looked left and right five times before he crossed the main street in Pasargadae, clad in his black Arab-style robe.
He hurried across the dangerous street quickly; keen to be back in the shadows. He hoped no Hindus had seen him, or, if they had, dismissed him as one of them. He was a thirteen-year-old Jew, the only son of one of the town’s most renowned Jewish preachers, but he wore the Arab-style robe to try and blend in as a Hindu. His father had warned him; there was serious trouble going on in the city. A group of fanatical Hindu Arabs were rumoured to be stalking the streets, killing prominent Jews and vandalising the synagogues. The nearby Arab state was rumoured to be funding the recent spate of killings, hoping to eliminate Judaism in the city. It was not safe to be a Jew in Pasargadae these days; even though the Mongol state was officially tolerant of the religion. Hence this ridiculous disguise, which itched like crazy.
Additionally, he should not have had to come this way. His father had forbidden him from crossing main streets. But there was this girl, and her father had been out, and they had met at hers after school in secret to hang out. And this was the quickest way home. But, he hoped, the main danger was behind him. He kept walking, entering a dark alleyway, the walls so narrow they almost touched.
However, crossing the street quickly was his mistake, tempting though it had been. He should have crossed normally, as a Hindu would have done.
Unbeknown to him, two Arabs had seen the figure dart across the street. Why did he not want to be seen? Suspicious, they went to follow him.
Joseph kept walking. It was not far now.
His pursuers turned the corner and saw the black robed boy. They hurried after him.
Joseph turned, and saw the men running towards him. He panicked, and turned, fleeing for his life, screaming “Help!” But there was nobody to hear.
The two Hindus saw the boy run and stepped their pace up, anxious to catch the boy before he got away. They were fit men early into their third decades, and accordingly they closed the gap on the boy.
Joseph, panting now, realised he could not outrun these men. But if they caught him, they would surely realise he was a Jew the moment they removed his cloak. What could he do? He scanned the upcoming street for exits or anything, anything he could use. All the while, the men were getting closer, they were only twenty paces behind now. One of the Hindus dug a whip from his robe, intending to trip the boy up when he was within range, his eyes fixed on the black robe, his partners’ likewise.
The black robe surprised them.
It came flying back through the air at the shocked Hindu men, obscuring their view of the boy who had thrown it backwards at them, just for a few seconds. The men swerved and ducked, and then kept running.
But then they slowed to a halt. In those few seconds, the boy had vanished.
“Damn it” cursed one of the Hindus. “Where did the bastard go, you fool?” he questioned his comrade.
“I don’t bloody know now, do I” replied the second Hindu. “He’s bloody got away”.
With that he hawked and spat on the cobbles, then turned and walked back up the alley. The first Hindu gave the alleyway a last accusing look, scrutinising the walls for cracks, but then he, too, turned and followed his comrade back to the main street.
Only then did Joseph emerge. After he had thrown the cloak he had jumped off one wall, and propelled himself through a second floor window on the opposite side, taking his chances that whoever lived there would not give him away. Even by his standards as a dedicated martial artist, it had been one hell of a jump. It had needed to be.
The flat had turned out to be deserted; its owner most likely down the tavern, judging by the reek of cheap wine and the quantity of broken bottles littered on the floor, which Joseph had been fortunate to avoid. He had listened for the Hindu’s footsteps to die away and then dropped himself from the window ledge, landing with a practiced roll. Standing up, he dusted himself down and, with a quick glance over his shoulder, he walked hurriedly away, desperate to be home.
ISHAK: And, well, like, the city is in turmoil and that, sire. The scene over there is, like, insane for those Jews.
GENGHIS: Ah, it’ll die down. Just troublemakers, we’ll bring them to justice.
IALBUK: Good luck doing that sire.
GENGHIS: Why do you say that?
IALBUK: Because Saladin will be pretty pissed if you try and hang a bunch of Arabs, even if they are murderers. In fact, my intelligence service reports that these insurgents are mainly Arabs, and not only that, but the Arabian government is secretly funding them to kill the Jews.
GENGHIS: WHAT? The bloody swine! But over RELIGION? That’s just madness!
GRIZNAKH: I agree sire. But remember religious zeal? Well, these Arabians are pure religious zealots. They see these murders as righteous acts which they must commit; else they see themselves as sinners and cowards.
GENGHIS: Mental cases. So they reckon they have to kill, or else they’re committing a crime. I’m gonna sort these Arabian mentalists out once and for all. Arabia, your doom approaches! Send word to General Kachiun, tell him to collect as many forces as he can from their northern garrisons, without leaving them too severely weakened, and bring them down to Pasargardae. I’m gonna collect forces from the rest of the towns. We’re going on a CRUSADE! Yeah!
GRIZNAKH: Isn’t that normally a war where you fight for your religion though? Motivated by religious zeal.
GENGHIS: Well this is a crusade against religious zeal or whatever. These guys need to learn a bit of sense. It’s a crusade of sorts.
IALBUK: Are you sure about this sire?
GENGHIS: Yes I am thanks, now shut up.
IALBUK: Let me tell you about the Arabians, sire. Their tactics - are not of the usual kind. Ok, the least religious of them join the army and fight for their religion that way, or else they get normal professions.
GENGHIS: So they have an army. Oh damn, how will I cope? Wait, I’ll annihilate it!
IALBUK: I’m not done. However, there is a sect within the country - nicknamed the “Scimitar of Justice” - which is glorified by the state and draws the most fanatical of Arabs. The Scimitar is cunning. It will come for you, in the way you least expect, when you least expect it. It will use strange methods in its business, methods near impossible to detect or to expect. And if you declare war on Arabia sire, my spies say the Scimitar will certainly place an “Orkanch” on you.
GENGHIS: Orkanch? Sounds weird.
IALBUK: Sire, it effectively means they will call their members to assassinate you, as the top priority of the sect. The member that succeeds will be immortalised in their legend for eternity, and these guys are fanatics, so they’ll all be gunning for you.
GENGHIS: Bah. I can take them down. No member of this Scimitar is a match for me, however mad they are.
IALBUK: I warn you sire. They will use suicide attacks on you. They will blow themselves up, poison themselves, anything as long as you die too.
GENGHIS: Bloody mad indeed! How am I supposed to guard against such idiocy?
IALBUK: I’ll take measures sire, and my spies will be on constant guard to foil plots. But I warn you, it would be very dangerous to march into Arabia at the head of an army and take Mecca. The Scimitar have never failed.
GENGHIS: Aha! A challenge, perhaps, though! I’m gonna do just that! This Scimitar seems like a tough opponent at last!
IALBUK: Sire, reconsider.
GENGHIS: How do I permanently eliminate this Scimitar from the game?
IALBUK: Sigh. Well, I know they operate out of a secret crypt in the Kashi Vishwanath in Mecca. Taking Mecca and then defeating them there might put a halt to their operations for a long time.
GENGHIS: The what?
IALBUK: The holy shrine of Hinduism.
GENGHIS: Oh, the money-making one? Sweeeeet! I forgot about that! Right, Kolai, go to Pasargardae and start rooting out those Arabs, and also make arrangements for the whole army to barrack there.
KOLAI: Right you are my lord.
IALBUK: So we’re going against Arabia?
GENGHIS: Give it a few years, but yeah.
ISHAK: Like, I dunno sire. It seems kinda - well, dangerous.
GRIZNAKH: And as a high-ranking Mongol official, I might be a target of this horrid sect as well! I want the best security!
GENGHIS: Oh, you two. Didn’t you hear Ialbuk, it’s me they will REALLY want to kill. I’m gonna be top priority! Now pack your bags. Go and wait in Pasargardae.
ALEXANDER: Yo dudes! G-Unit, I was hopin’ you might be chillin’ in yo crib. I need to ask you summat man.
GENGHIS: Go on then, but make it quick.
ALEXANDER: Bro, the scene in Europe is kickin’ off, man! I don’t know whether you’ve been paying attention, what with all your battles and that, but I’m being victimised by the other nations, and I thought’cho might be able to help me out.
GENGHIS: What’s occurring?
ALEXANDER: B*tch-face is gunning for my ass man, yo know the one, the Russian or whatever her crew’s called, and she’s got that Spanish honey with that scorchin’ body onside! I mean, come on, I only touched her …
GENGHIS: Yeah, yeah, enough details.
ALEXANDER: What’s more, that German guy is grillin’ me too! Blatantly hopin’ to jump in the sack with B*tch-face, who can blame the guy though, I mean loo…
GENGHIS: Is that all?
ALEXANDER: All? Come on, man, I mean, Greece is lean and mean and all that shizzle but it ain’t a friggin’ superpower like you bro! I need you to turn up and knock a few heads together!
GENGHIS: Sorry dude, can’t help you. I have my own plans, and they don’t involve Europe at the moment. Hang on in there.
ALEXANDER: What? God’s sake man, I thought yo was a homey, I thought you had my back man! Whatever, I’m off.
GRIZNAKH: He didn’t seem best pleased.
GENGHIS: To hell with him. He’ll survive, likely enough.
And so the Mongol armies stayed on the move. They swarmed towards Pasargardae, where they congregated, right on the Arabian border. Business was kept to a minimum as Genghis was busy, although he did negotiate a trade for Constitution with Mansa Musa. Then there was an interesting event.
Genghis summoned Griznakh to him whilst he recruited in the cities. The meeting took place in Samarqand
GENGHIS: So, I understand the results of the voting are in.
GRIZNAKH: Indeed they are, Lord Genghis.
GENGHIS: Yes! Im almost sure I have beaten Sal here!
The most recent set of elections for the Apostolic Palace had seen Genghis come up against Saladin. The Arabian had already expressed his disgust that a leader who was not completely Hindu was allowed to compete. But the rules allowed it, and Saladin had grudgingly acquiesced, although with some grumbling. He clearly detested the Mongol leader, which suited Genghis just fine.
GRIZNAKH: Well, you had the lions share of the votes, sire. Almost a third! Saladin only had around a quarter.
GENGHIS: But how did the rest of the voting go?
GRIZNAKH: As expected really. All your vassals voted for you
GENGHIS: Yes! WINNER!
GRIZNAKH: Everyone else, apart from the abstaining Alexander again, voted for Saladin.
GENGHIS: So I totally won then?
GRIZNAKH: Indeed. You are now the resident of the Apostolic Palace. Congratulations.
The news infuriated the Arabian leader, who insisted that the election was unfair, the might of the Mongol bloc was such that even the combined votes of ALL the other nations could not defeat him. He demanded a move to an alternative voting system. Genghis opposed him. And again, the conflict went in Genghis favour. Saladin was furious with the Mongol leader.
Meanwhile, Julius Caesar joined the war against Alexander, and Genghis had to fend off his aid requests again, pointing out that Catherine had also been to see him, and he had declined to enter the war on her side as well. This earnt him no credit with Alex though, who was well annoyed.
A further discovery was made by Ialbuk, even in these hectic time. The discovery of Steel, a combination of metals the Mongols already possessed, was very important, as this alloy was far stronger than pure iron or pure copper. Ialbuk designed new boats with the metal, and also revolutionised the artillery section of the army by inventing Cannons. These machines could fire metal balls at incredible speeds and with unnerving accuracy. Genghis ordered that the majority of his Trebuchets were upgraded immediately. The chief engineer told him it was not possible, the Treasury did not have the money and it would take ten years anyway. Genghis fired three consecutive chief engineers, who all told him the same thing, until it became apparent that there was no other way. He raged at the delay, but as always, his rage dissipated over time. Over a few years.
Then the Khan founded a new city.
The meeting to announce Sanchu took place in Persepolis; the last town the Khan visited to enlist units
GENGHIS: So guys, who wants to see the new city?
GENGHIS: Yeah? That makes no sense!
IALBUK: Well, were tired, you dragged us all the way over here just to see a new city map, even Ishak is bored.
ISHAK: Like, go on, where is it?
GENGHIS: Miserable bastards you lot are. Here is
KOLAI: Hey look, a barbarian Spearman squad. And theyre going to attack the Longbowmen probably.
GENGHIS: See, suicide attacks. And we can deal with them.
IALBUK: Speaking of suicide attacks, have you been attacked at all yet sire?
GENGHIS: Not since Pasargardae. I think you overestimate the power of this Scimitar thing.
IALBUK: Look, sire, the Scimitar is the main reason why Arabia is feared by all non-Hindu states. Dealing with them is going to be as hard as dealing with the armies of Arabia
what am I saying, actually itll be way harder, their army is crap.
GENGHIS: Look, these Scimitar members are only humans, like myself. Theyre possible to overcome.
IALBUK: Yeah, well I received word today from one of my agents, and this guy is a senior member in the Scimitar, so his information is accurate.
GENGHIS: What did he say?
IALBUK: He said that the Scimitar have noticed the troop build up in Pasargardae and know whats coming, given the recent tensions between Mongolia and Arabia. Apparently, by the time
by the time his message reaches your ears, sire, they are almost certain to have already placed the Organch on you. So you need extra security. Triple the guards outside your yurt, have you bodyguard around you at all times, dont go for random walks, common sense stuff but dont let it slip.
GENGHIS: Ha! So, the side-show has begun. Lets go and start the real fight.
Genghis exits the yurt, flanked by his bodyguard
IALBUK: I really dont think Genghis is taking the Scimitar seriously.
GRIZNAKH: Nor me. Its certainly worrying.
Even with the threat of the Scimitar apparent, the Khan was unmoved. He declared war upon Arabia, starting his crusade.
Saladin meets Genghis after the declaration of war
GENGHIS: Yeah, damn right. Im fed up of you and your lunatic state, Saladin.
SALADIN: You think you can defeat me? Ha! The righteous Saladin of Arabia, the true Hindu lord? I have resources you can only imagine.
GENGHIS: Whatever. I know about your crappy Scimitar, and I aint scared.
SALADIN: You will not be the first to underestimate the Scimitar, Genghis. It is possible you may be the last, one they have killed the greatest warlord on Earth.
GENGHIS: You admit Im the greatest warlord? Why?
SALADIN: Warlord is not an enviable status, Genghis. An emperor like myself is far superior to you. So are Nobles, Princes and Monarchs.
GENGHIS: Hmm. What about Chieftains?
SALADIN: No, youre better than chieftains. The only chieftain though is Montezuma.
GENGHIS: Right then. You can go back to Mecca and await your destruction.
SALADIN: Enjoy your last years, Genghis. Your days are numbered.
Saladin exits, and the advisors enter
IALBUK: So what did he say?
GENGHIS: Nothing of substance. Just spouted crap about how he was the righteous Hindu lord and blah blah blah, and the Scimitar are going to erase you, and blah blah blah. Basically tried to big himself up, but it was a pretty pathetic showing if you ask me. Weve got him!
KOLAI: So, were headed for Mecca?
GENGHIS: This part of the army is. We march to take Mecca immediately. I sent Kachiun with the rest of the army to take Damascus and then Medina. But even after that, there is more. Arabia is an interesting state.
IALBUK: Oh dear. Dont plan too far ahead, my lord.
GENGHIS: For gods sake man! Its almost as if youre expecting me to die! At least have a bit of confidence in me. Ive proven myself against assassination plots before. Remember Haselofs plot?
IALBUK: Damn right I do. You nearly killed ME instead of HIM.
GENGHIS: And that Persian dude in Pasargadae? Showed him, didnt I?
IALBUK: Yes, but the Scimitar is less amateurish, more insane, and willing to make greater sacrifices, like many of their own lives, to take yours.
GENGHIS: Jeez, just chill, will you. Look forward the war.
GRIZNAKH: Oh yes, a very cheery and enjoyable event; the killing of thousands of people.
The Old Man sat on his iron throne in the windowless chamber of stone. A river of fire, broken only by a bridge of five stepping stones, provided sufficient light, running horizontally across the chamber between his throne at one end and the solitary entrance to the chamber at the other. He looked downwards at the three men he had summoned, all senior, trusted men of the order, his wrinkled, but stern face showing no emotion. It had never, according to some, shown any emotion whatsoever. It was as if his face was carved of stone, this enigma, known only to them as the Old Man.
He spoke into the silence, addressing the three men.
So, what are your ideas?
The first man came forward. He was a decade or so younger than the other two, but still, well into his fifth decade, his best years lying behind him. He spoke.
I plan to use the greatest snare that the gods have set for man he replied.
The Old Man, although he didnt show it, approved of the clever reply. Women he intoned, his voice grating. How many do you need? he asked.
My requirements for my mission are but two women, exquisite, irresistible women, and five other men. And I need weapons as well, Scimitars and Bows for each man.
Granted the Old Man said. You may leave now, and fetch your equipment.
That was all the women, and the junior order members, were to the Scimitar. Equipment for the senior members, just like the weaponry.
The second man stepped forward
My requirements are fifty men, fifty shovels, and 200 barrels of gunpowder he said without preamble. My plan? I am sure you can guess.
The Old Man knew exactly what his subordinates plan was. It was a very effective method in cases like this one. Granted he rasped. The second man followed the first across the stepping stones and out of the chamber.
The third man stepped forward. He was the oldest member of the order, with the exception of the man seated in front of him. And he felt almost ready to conclude his career on Earth.
I shall need ten loyal men he said slowly and eleven close-detonated explosives
He thought he saw the Old Mans brow raise slightly, just a little.
I am almost ready, my lord. This, should the others fail, will be my crowning achievement.
You have indeed achieved much. The Old Man spoke, as always, without emotion. If this is your wish, so be it. Granted. The third man made to turn and leave.
The Old Man thought about speaking again, but could think of nothing suitable to say. And so the chamber remained silent, save for the crackle of the fire, as the third man negotiated the stepping stones with ease and exited the chamber.
The Old Man thought long and hard. The first plan would almost certainly succeed. If it failed, the second plan was certain to succeed. So the third man was guaranteed to return, almost. He hoped so. Old Men had to be seven decades at least, and successors were hard to come by. Most members of the Scimitar of Justice died before they were four decades old on suicide missions.
Occasionally he wondered whether all their deaths were worth it. He always came to the conclusion that they were. Any sacrifice was justified when ordained by the gods.
Genghis meets Griznakh in his yurt for a meeting.
GENGHIS: So this shrine in Mecca, how much gold does it make?
GRIZNAKH: It makes, my lord, a whole chest of gold for each city where Hinduism is a prevalent creed. Each city must donate every year to the shrine to appease the gods, it is said.
GENGHIS: Sweet! I cant wait to own it. How much in total then?
Whilst this meeting was going on, Genghis had stationed six guards outside the entrance to his yurt. The guards, kept in the dark as to why the extra security was needed on this campaign, were bored, but kept alert to their surroundings.
Crouching behind a pile of barrels twenty paces to the guards left, unknown to them, were six men and two women, each Arabian. And they were here to kill the Khan.
Send out the distraction murmured the leader. The women heard his command. They were the distraction needed to switch off the alertness of the guards. They straightened up and strolled over towards the yurt.
The captain of the guards attention was caught by a couple of moving figures around twenty paces to his left. His head shot round to assess the danger, then he relaxed. It was only a couple of women. Good looking ladies at that, as he assessed them more keenly. His attention, like those of his guards, was caught by the women.
The two ladies strolled nonchalantly over until they were five paces directly in front of the yurts entrance, watched all the way by the men. The captain of the guard looked them up and down appreciatively. They were both gorgeous, tall and slender, one with shoulder-length, flowing brown hair, the other with shorter jet black hair. They wore thin, almost translucent brown tunics; the brunettes slashed at the front with a tempting glimpse of cleavage visible between her ample breasts. Their skirts were tight and short, drawn up to the top of their thighs, barely covering her private parts, the captain thought, as lustful thoughts entered his mind. He tried to shake them out.
The brown-haired girl spoke. You soldiers look awfully bored she teased, playing with her hair as she pouted, her red lips drawing the captains attention. He spoke. Were doing our duty maam. A tedious one though it may be. Best to adopt a manly show of professionalism he thought.
The black-haired girl giggled, as if his response was quite the clever witticism. Maybe we can help you with that! she said mysteriously, her voice washing over the red-blooded captain like honey. Then she astounded the guards. She reached down, took the ends of her tunic, and started to lift it up, over her head!
The guards just stared for a moment. Then they all leaned forwards, all their concentration on her, waiting eagerly for the moment her tunic would rise above her breasts, leaving them bare and exposed. If the captain had recovered his ability to think clearly, he would have realised in an instant that this was a ruse. But the incredibly sexy woman standing in front of him had robbed him of his ability to do just that as she finished removing her tunic, her breasts spilling free, and stood there in front of the ogling guards, who were transfixed. The captain as much as his men.
That was then the arrows came.
Six bow-strings hummed, and six arrows flew in from the left hand side, punching through six necks. The guards slumped to the floor, dead. The six Arab men, seeing that their shots were satisfactory, dashed in from the left, and hurriedly dragged the corpses behind a nearby pile of barrels. The women, the brunette now fully clothed again, wished the men good luck in their mission, then set off. Their job was done.
The men paused before the yurt entrance, and looked to their leader. He looked at his scimitar, which he, like the rest of his men, had now drawn out. He often thought the Scimitar was a poor choice of name for the order. Hell, it wasnt even Arabian, it was of Persian design! But at times like these, he realised the strength of the weapon. The Khan apparently favoured a katana in combat, similar in reach to these weapons. The man knew that the Khan was alone in the yurt with his fat cultural advisor, who wasnt expected to put up a fight. He had seen them go in earlier.
He whispered to his men Leave the fat one; he will likely just cower in the corner. Our target is the Khan only. That is how the Scimitar operates, remember; efficiency, and discipline. For the gods.
With that short speech he plunged between the folds of the tent, entering the yurt.
The Khan looked up as he saw men enter the yurt. And then jumped up as he saw they were Arabs, six of them, and had drawn their scimitars. Griznakh merely paled, and then fainted. The Khan kicked him in disgust, but Griznakh was out cold. He looked back up, where the Arab leader was eyeing him.
ARAB: Your guards are far too sloppy, Khan.
GENGHIS: How did you get past them?
The Arab was taken aback by the casual, almost uninterested tone the Khan spoke in
ARAB: Bah, it was easy. Merely a distraction, although a strong one.
GENGHIS: Well, this is it then. You six against me. Hardly a fair fight.
He whipped his katana from his scabbard at his side with a clang
GENGHIS: As youre about to find out.
Genghis suddenly whirled into action, spinning towards the nearest of his men, the blade a blur, and suddenly the Arab was down, clutching his bleeding stomach, his sword clanging on the floor. The other five Arabs quickly adopted a guard position and the Khans next blow ended in a clash of metal as it was parried by a scimitar. The Arab grinned, and lunged back for the Khan. Genghis simply sidestepped and spun, arcing his katana into the mans side. The Arab brought his blade around, but at the last moment Genghis changed his grip and brought it swiftly up, slicing into the mans face, cutting it open to the skin. The man howled in pain and fell to the floor. The Arab leader blanched. Two of his men already down? He barked an order.
The four remaining Arabs bunched together, and started to advance, pushing the Khan back. The Khan instantly launched a furious, complex series of blows, but each was parried by a scimitar. He stepped back, gasping. The men were advancing upon him still. One hacked at him, and he only just parried the blow below his shoulder, then parried again as another Arab slashed at his chest.
Come on Genghis, thought the Mongol leader. There has to be more than this.
He glanced over at Griznakhs body behind him, and saw his katana in its scabbard. With one last parry, Genghis suddenly rolled backwards, away from the Arabs, and grabbed the katana from its scabbard. Now he had one in each hand. He swirled them in vertical circles by his sides. Now he stood a chance, even against four men, as the Khan was an incredibly skilled and ferocious fighter.
GENGHIS: So. Who thinks hes hard enough now?
The Arab leader threw a few curses at the Khan. Genghis laughed and charged the Arab foursome advancing upon him, swinging his katanas above his head now. The Arabs were stunned and reeled, at which Genghis took full advantage. He leapt into the air, and slashed his katanas in an incredible simultaneous motion, scything through two of the remaining Arabs heads at the same time! Both men fell to the floor, dead. However Genghis had paid for his ferocity; the Arab leader had leaned in and thrust his scimitar at the Khan, wounding him in the side and drawing blood. As Genghis landed he immediately felt himself losing consciousness. The yurt swirled, and his vision started to blur. The Arab leader sensed he had hit home.
ARAB: You have fought well, Khan. But he who fights for righteous glory will always win the day.
With that the Arab leader stepped forward and launched his own series of blows, only just fended off by Genghis. The other Arab joined in with an occasional thrust, and Genghis barely managed to fend off the duel attack, even with his two swords. The khan growled. It had to end now, or he was lost. He roared and hacked at the Arabs in a frenzy, and the Arabs were again shocked by the naked ferocity of the attack. The leader ducked behind his katana as it took all his strength to hold against the Khans mighty blows. His remaining comrade was not so lucky, the Khan was too strong for him. His scimitar was wrenched from his hand, and clattered to the floor. The next slash caught him straight in the heart, and he fell, lifeless.
The Arab leader looked on dismayed. He needed to avoid the Khan, just for a minute, until he succumbed to unconsciousness. Then he could finish him off. He tensed his arms as two katanas hit his scimitar, but the force was too great. He stumbled back, falling back against the yurt wall, dropping his scimitar.
GENGHIS: Ha! It is YOU who have lost today, Arab scum!
With that the Khan roared once more and charged the Arab leader, his katanas lowered, their points towards the Arab. The Arab could not get out of the way in time as the Khan ploughed into him, stabbing him with both blades spearing him. Blood gushed out and on the floor. The Arabs eyes rolled upwards, then he crashed down onto the floor, his corpse splattering blood onto the felt.
With that, the Khan blacked out, and his massive torso hit the deck too.
It was some hours later before the Khan woke again. Opening his eyes to see the face of Ialbuk staring back at him, he groaned as the pain in his side throbbed again.
IALBUK: You had us very worried there, my lord.
a little s-sparring. No great danger.
IALBUK: No great danger! The Scimitar almost had you. Its a miracle you defeated them! Six on one isnt great odds, you know. Even for you.
IALBUK: At least youre all right. Id better leave you to rest.
Ialbuk exited the hospital yurt, where fifteen men stood on guard, another five inside. He gave them another order.
IALBUK: Lads, remember the fate of the other guards. If a hundred naked women ride past here on unicorns and one of you so much as flickers his eyes towards them, you will be punished. The Khan can only be a hero so many times before his luck runs out. I dont want another attempt to be allowed. Understood? Good. I have my spies watching you as well, so make sure they dont see fit to report your name back to me as a slacker.
With that, Ialbuk continued on his way.
Within days, the news had filtered back to the Old Man that the attempt had been a failure. He received the news as impassively as ever, to the observer at least.
It took a fortnight for the Khans wounds to fully heal. Once they had, though, he was back on his feet and giving orders with vigour again, screaming at Ialbuk for delaying the advance whilst he recovered. The army got moving again, at a faster pace in order to make up the lost time.
The men, their digging finished, slumped onto the ground.
Two minutes rest barked their leader, and then youre getting up again and helping me roll these barrels into your pitiful hole. And if they dont all fit, may the gods have no mercy upon you!
Later though, they rolled all the barrels into the pit, and discovered it was indeed the right size. Then they covered the pit with canvasses, and spread sand across it to conceal it. The pit looked just like another bit of the road.
The Khans approaching army would travel right over this spot, thought the leader. It was good the Khan travelled near to the head of his forces; he would be nearby when the explosion occurred. The first person or animal to walk over the canvas would fall straight through. This would detonate the barrels of gunpowder, and blow everything within a hundred paces sky high. The Khan would not suspect a thing.
The leader and his men retreated to a safe spot in the hills to watch the show. They could see everything clearly.
Late that afternoon, a dust cloud appeared on the horizon, and gradually increased in size as it came nearer. The cloud signalled the approach of a large body of men. Soon the Arabians could make out the individual figures of men. The Mongols were heading straight for the trap.
Inside the Khans army, Ialbuk was worried.
An agent had sent him a message, but it was unclear. It seemed to signal some sort of danger on the road ahead.
What could he do? He could stop the army, but that would just cause the Khan to grumble. He decided to anyway. He couldnt take any chances.
In the Arabs stronghold, deep inside the hills, the leader of the Scimitar mission groaned as he saw the Khans column grind to a halt, just two hundred paces down the road from the trap.
Why have they stopped? inquired one of his men.
I dont bloody know. Now shut up said the leader irritably. Evidently someone in the Khans army knew something.
He gazed down at the trap, searching it for visible signs that a scout might have picked up. There was nothing.
A desert fox ran out onto the trap. The leader saw it. He was not concerned. The trap could hold the weight of quite a few desert foxes. Just as well, he thought, as he saw two more run out and join the first. Bloody animals might have given the game away.
Then about ten more foxes ran out. The leader jolted. Suddenly a whole swarm of foxes ran out onto the trap. What the bloody hell were they doing? The Mongol army down the road was still stationary. The leader gnashed his teeth.
The foxes kept coming! This must be a huge migration of the animals to a new area. The leader watched in unbridled horror as the canvasses began to sag under the weight. Surely this invader was blessed by the gods Slowly, it was pulled downwards by the foxes as they kept coming.
Then it collapsed altogether. There was a large blast, and then the air was filled with dust and strands of fox fur. It made a gruesome sight.
The leader, still watching dazedly, saw two horsemen ride forth from the Mongol army, a hundred paces, then they reigned in at the edge of the massive smoking crater the explosion had caused.
There was only one thing he could do, only one honourable path from this failure. The Arab drew his dagger, and slit his throat.
IALBUK: Sire, we found the Arabians hideout, in the hills close by.
GENGHIS: Right, bring in their leader, I want to question him.
thats not possible.
GENGHIS: Dont tell me you let them get away?
IALBUK: No, no way, its just
theyre all dead. They must have all slit their own throats.
There is a stunned silence around the council table
GENGHIS: Insanity. Pure and simple. This is exactly why we MUST liberate Arabia: to free its people from this zeal caused by religious indoctrination.
GRIZNAKH: Silly me! I had thought it was mainly about gaining more lands.
GENGHIS: Two birds, one rock, Griznakh, now lets get going again since those bastards are all dead. I wonder, are there any of these cult members left?
IALBUK: I dont doubt there are. Were almost at Mecca, so theyre going to be desperate now.
Still sitting in his throne in the underground chamber, having just heard news of the failure of the second assassination attempt, the Old Man felt fear and rage well up inside him in a noxious mixture of emotions as he fought to maintain the cold face. His hands gripped his stone armrests, his knuckles white, as he forced himself to calmly dismiss the servants that had brought him the news.
Dammit, he had to remain more emotionally detached, he scolded himself. But now the man who he had earmarked as his successor would have go and kill himself in order to kill the Khan and preserve the Arabian lands. And the Old Man had no doubt that the gods would not let him die until a successor was ready, cruel as they were benevolent.
Still, this last mission could not fail, and then peace would return. There would be others, in time, that could take his place.
Meanwhile, the Khan received reports that an Arabian army, foolishly of only 16,000 men, divided now into 8 larger units, had been crushed in a battle in the floodplains near to Pasargadae. That had been an arrogant and foolish Arabian move. As the Khans army caught sight of the Arabian capital for the first time, the Khan was surprised to find himself thinking about his brother. Of course, what he was really thinking about was how his brother was getting on in his assignment of taking the cities of Damascus and Medina, completing the conquest of this new province, which he had already decided to name the Aibaramaklan; the Arabian Desert. He had not received word so far.
Kachiun, the elder brother of Genghis by a couple of years, was of a totally different mettle to the Khan.
He was shy and retiring, preferring to spend his days behind the scenes rather than in the limelight, and took little active part in the running of the Empire. He had his own family, a beautiful wife and three young children, whom he loved. He had his own circle of advisors with him on this campaign, and he treated them with respect, as his equals. His advisors in turn had great respect for the competence and wisdom of the army general, humble about his achievements in the field and unassuming. They were glad to be serving him.
As the sun rose upon another summers day in 1575 AD, Kachiun roused his men early, readying them quickly for the battle, in order to have the majority of the battle over before the fierce midday heat arrived on the scene. The Arabians had ventured, in their arrogance, from the city to do battle, leaving their walls in the belief that the gods would provide as their shields as warriors of righteousness. They were vastly outnumbered, just 4 000 camel archers on the flanks and an infantry centre of the same number of men-at-arms and crossbows. Kachiuns army, meanwhile, was bordering on 60 000; artillery, knights, elite men-at-arms, even a small contingent of 2000 of those new Riflemen that owed credit for their weapons to Ialbuks latest research. The Riflemen were indeed formidable, although Kachiun decided to restrict their role in the battle to a minor one. That way, the Arabians would not necessarily realise the true capacity of the new weapon; it was not necessary here to rely on them.
He put his knights on his wings as well, and his cavalry greatly outnumbered the slightly superior Arabian cavalry, who were armed with bows as well as scimitars. His centre was a mass of thousands of men-at-arms, supported by archers from behind. As the Arabians advanced to engage him, his artillery was already at work, hurling boulders over the Mongols heads and decimating the enemy central formation.
The camel archers were a nuisance; they avoided contact for the most part, swerving suddenly inwards, their bows drawn, releasing an arrow or two, and then disappearing again. They were too fast for his heavily armoured cavalry to catch, and strong enough in close fighting to easily defeat his lighter cavalry. Kachiun commanded his knights to just protect the flanks, absorbing the arrows, putting up a strong defence against the camel archers as they released arrow after arrow. Eventually the camel archers quivers were empty, at which point they led a charge for the weakest point in the Mongol cavalry line; but it was futile. The knights surrounded the vastly outnumbered Arabians and slaughtered them to a man. They had taken few casualties that day.
The infantry had taken even fewer by proportion. By the time the centres of the two armies clashed, the Mongol artillery had halved the number of Arabian swords and crossbows. It was a great mismatch between the Mongol horde and the small, yet valiant, phalanx of Arabians. They fought bitterly to the death, refusing to break, but it was futile; they were all killed.
Kachiun, watching from the rear lines of archers with his bodyguard, felt little satisfaction at his triumph. It was his duty, after all, and there were many generals who could have beaten the paltry Arabian showing today. As his men went to loot the city, Kachiun retired to his yurt and dictated a short dispatch to his brother, informing him of the victory. Then he started to think about Medina.
Genghis was pleased as he read the message a few weeks later in his yurt. Outside, the artillery of the Mongol army was whirring away, flinging rubble at the city. The siege was likely to last for a while yet.
Ialbuk was worried.
He sensed that the Scimitar would try one last attempt at assassination before the assault. That attempt was likely to be more desperate than the other two, and therefore far more dangerous. He needed to find a way of deflecting it. The impending discovery of Scientific Method was unlikely to be of much use, and so he left it to his scientists to finish off.
He turned to the Arabians who had, earlier that day, deserted from the city, and joined the Mongol side.
IALBUK: I have found a job for you after all.
One of the Arabs, a bearded man, spoke up
ARAB: Is it dangerous? I did not leave the city because I revel in peril.
Yes, thought Ialbuk, its very dangerous. In fact, its almost certainly going to end in death.
IALBUK: No, it shouldnt be. The worst you might have to do is dodge a few rocks I think.
ARAB: So what is the job then?
IALBUK: Im planning a little, ahem, morale booster for the troops. The Khan is to ride out to the city walls, right to within easy bowshot of the defenders, and inspect the defences by riding once around the city at an arrogantly close distance. Problem is, the Khan is too busy.
ARAB: We are certainly not going in his place! That is way too dangerous! Well get shot!
IALBUK: I doubt it. You said you sabotaged their arrow supply before you left, a commendable action, by the way. Most gallant.
The Arab responded well to the flattery
ARAB: It was my own idea.
IALBUK: Well, then, the fletchers will not have produced new arrows in such a short time. The only missiles will be rocks, I assure you.
ARAB: So we are to pose as the Khan and his entourage for this ride?
IALBUK: You are.
ARAB: What if we decline?
IALBUK: Why should you? I would be compelled to view you as potential agents for your country. And as head of the Mongol intelligence service, I know only too well how that would end for you.
ARAB: It seems we have no choice.
IALBUK: Good! Your cooperation is noted by the way.
The plan was put into action immediately.
The artillerymen cheered raucously as the Khan and his retinue rode out to the walls, stopping only a few paces away. The Khan rose his sword in defiance at the walls, to the delight of the soldiers, and then nimbly stepped his horse aside as a rock came flying at him from the walls. The men went wild.
Ialbuk merely stood and observed.
Suddenly, he saw eleven men dart round the corner of the walls, only a few paces from where the Arabs were acting as the Khan, trotting slowly along the walls, dancing around the poorly aimed missile fire from the defenders. They had boxes strapped to their chests. Ialbuk saw them, and instantly knew what they were. Suicide bombers, ready to detonate the explosives attached to them as soon as they got close enough.
The leader of the Arabian suicide bombers grinned as he and his men gained easily on the oblivious Mongol leader. What a rash, foolish, arrogant sortie this was. In his vast experience, the cooler, less cocky head won the day more often than not. And the Khan hadnt even turned round yet!
The cheers of the troops turned to screams of horror as they slowly noticed the eleven Arabs running towards the Khan.
Again, Ialbuk merely stood and observed.
The Khan turned round just as the Arab and his men made a final frantic dash for the Khan. There was a bang as a huge explosion filled the air with clouds of ash and dust. The smell of sulphur wafted in the noses of the silent Mongol troops, too stunned to speak or move.
Ha! Itll take more than that to defeat me!
The shout came from behind the Mongol artillery troops. They turned.
And saw their leader standing, very much alive, laughing at the spectacle.
All a trick lads! bellowed the Khan in fine voice, oblivious to the shock. All a trick, to get those bastards trying to kill me! And look! The stupid f**kers have blown a gigantic hole in their own bloody walls! The Khan cracked up laughing again.
The shock of the artillery troops lifted like the sudden withdrawal of mist penetrated by sunlight. As one, they roared their approval of the Khan, laughing in the very face of his adversaries.
Ialbuk slipped away.
Once the Khan had calmed down, the dust clouds dispersed, revealing the extent of the damage to the enemy walls. It was devastating. A whole section of wall had crumbled completely.
Genghis ordered his troops to assault the city, and before nightfall, Mecca was theirs.
Genghis took a minghaan of dismounted knights with him to the Kashi Viswanath.
They discovered the secret entrance to the crypt, moving the tomb of an ancient Arabian hero to reveal a door in the wall behind, emblazoned with a golden scimitar.
As the knights entered the crypt, they were attacked in a chamber on both sides by shrieking archers armed with flaming arrows. As Genghis remarked, this was f**king amateurish. Any professional army would have attacked from one side only, thereby eliminating the probability of hitting their own men on the other side. Trained assassins and religious nutcases these guys might be, but they were no cohesive team of soldiers. The knights easily defeated them.
The crypt led Genghis through many empty rooms; meeting rooms, dining halls, empty store cupboards. Once or twice, a man leapt out of the darkness, screaming as he thrust a dagger at the nearest man. The knights easily parried and stabbed the men with their long broadswords.
Then the column suddenly entered a room which was well lit.
Exiting the passage, Genghis saw immediately that this chamber was unlike the rest. For one thing, there was a bloody great river of fire running through it! The only way across seemed to be across a series of stepping stones. Genghis motioned for his men to follow him as he made his way across, nimbly leaping between the stones with astonishing agility for a man his size.
He reached the other side, looked up. And locked eyes with an ancient looking man, seated on a throne of stone on a raised dais, his grey eyes piercing into his.
Genghis grimaced. Here was the leader of the Scimitar, refusing to abandon his order. He clambered up to the throne, still holding the gaze of the old man, the old man still holding his. Upon reaching it he stood in front of the throne, his eyes now level with the old mans. They regarded each other in silence.
The Old Man spoke first.
It has been many years, many years indeed, since a heathen entered this chamber. You and your men should be honoured.
Genghis bristled, and longed to just stab the old wretch, so coolly facing death as fearlessly as his finest warriors. But that would be undignified.
Do you not fear death, old man? Do you not fear pain? he said, as calm as the statement was menacing.
The Old Man kept his face stone-like.
It has been long since I have known fear. And death I would embrace, for I have been long on this Earth, too long. Soon I shall be with the gods, and they will reward me for the worthy life I have led in my next incarnation.
Genghis nodded. He didnt understand the mans inclinations in the slightest, but his words had the ring of simple truth about them.
You are a strange one he said.
Then he drew his sword and slit the Old Mans throat.
The knights, still reliving the scene in their heads, made their way out of the crypt, Genghis marching grimly at their helm. On the surface, Ialbuk, Griznakh, Kolai and Ishak were waiting for the Khan.
IALBUK: Successful, my lord?
GENGHIS: Oh yes. The leader of this misguided sect is dead. Along with all their members.
IALBUK: Good. We can safely say the Scimitar is dead then.
KOLAI: My lord, the looting of the city has been a great success! Mecca is as rich as you promised! My soldiers are struggling under the weight of all the booty!
GENGHIS: Good stuff. Im sure the tavernkeepers and brothelowners of the city will soon be very rich men! Now, Griznakh, I want to see for sure how much gold Im getting from this shrine each turn.
GRIZNAKH: Of course my lord.
GENGHIS: WOO! Thats amazing!
IALBUK: The science budget will be much improved!
GENGHIS: And Im hoping to finance a new sport, I invented it myself. I call it dog-wrestling
As the advisors listened politely to Genghis latest idea, the city became alive with the hordes of victorious Mongol soldiers staggering drunkenly between taverns, spending their fortunes as quickly as they could. Not many of them were aware that a greater victory, a victory over the Scimitar had been won. That victory, rather than the capture of the city, was the one that ended all effective Arabian resistance. The Arabians surety in their gods had also been shattered. The rest of the war looked very simple indeed.
To be continued
Right then, it'll be a while until the next update since I'm going on holiday
Look out for it before the end of August though.
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