The Exalted Ottoman Earth

need my speed

Rex Omnium Imperarium
Oct 3, 2009
European Union (Magna Batavia)
This will probably never be finished, and may never be updated, but I've occasionally started writing stories like this, and I thought it'd be a waste to let them stay on my PC. As such, without further ado:
  • Apparently Settlers cost only one population instead of two (I discovered this while playing)
  • Marines have two moves and can attack multiple times (blitz)
  • Paratroopers and Modern Paratroopers treat all terrain as roads
  • Gold-related buildings (Marketplace, Bank, Stock Exchange...) have no maintenance costs
  • Wonders put free buildings in all cities, instead of all cities on the continent
  • Wonders that do not produce units never obsolete
  • The Great Library puts Libraries in all cities, but does not give the owner any technology that two other civilisations already know (in practice, I found this to be overpowered on a map with 31 civilisations, because it circumvents the four-turn minimum research cost of every technology - I could just not build it myself and let an AI have it, but instead I opted to change this wonder)
  • The Great Wall puts Barracks in all cities (to prevent the bombardment of Great Wall-created Walls bug - and the AI usually gets the Great Wall, and Barracks are more useful than Walls)
  • Sun Tzu's Art of War puts Courthouses in all cities (because the Great Wall already puts Barracks in all cities)
  • Smith's Trading Company adds +1 commerce to every commerce-producing tile, like the Colossus, in addition to paying maintenance for gold-related buildings (but most of those already cost no maintenance, hence the additional feature)
  • Iron Works requires Steam Power (and Iron and Coal, so practically nothing changed, but it may increase the AI's value of Steam Power)
  • Ancient age technologies can't be traded
  • And the human player can't trade any technologies at all
With these rules, 31 immortal rulers were put upon Earth, each encapsulating the most distinctive traits of the peoples they would lead. The gods had rolled the dice, and would soon see which traits were most desirable in one unified humanity. Would they be wise and cunning, hard-working and diligent, creative dreamers or martial warriors? Would they quench their thirst for answers by exploring the vast continents and wide seas, or by seeking answers from the gods themselves? Which traits would propel humanity into a perpetual golden age, capable of standing the test of time?

Our story starts in Anadolu, named for the sunrise. It is the gate to Avrupa, named in turn for the sunset - but it is the gate to the world at large; to southern Afrika, to the empty deserts of Arabistan, and to far eastern Asya where powers such as Cin and Hindistan would arise. All this and more, Osman Gazi held in his mind. In his life, he had been known as such, taking the more prestigious Arabic version of his name to indicate that Allah was on his side as he fought the Byzantines. But here, in this new world, there was no Iznik, nor Efes, nor even a Konstantiniyye to be besieged by his descendants. Nicaea, Ephesus, Constantinople... Only empty land. In time, they would come, he knew. He did not know from where - there clearly was no Byzantine presence in the countryside - but in time they would, and he would be prepared.

There was no Arabistan either, no holy Makkah nor holy Madinah, and the very tenets of Islam only existed in his mind. And that of Abu Bakr, he supposed. But Islam had developed well past its inception under Abu Bakr, a contemporary of the great Muhammad, peace be upon Him, Himself. Strife would exist even between these two brothers of the faith, Osman predicted with sorrow in his heart. It would not behove him to be Osman, then, to take his legitimacy from a fledgling Arabistan that held as many people and as much wisdom as his own Turks, and that would only grow poorer by comparison as it expanded over empty deserts, while his Turks would roam far and wide to garner the riches of Anadolu and the whole world besides. He would be Atman, or Atouman, and he would lead his Ottomans until the Exalted Ottoman State spanned the entire world. There was no Sögüt, there were no Oghuz Turkish people, there was no Sultanate of Rum, there was only himself and his people, with culture and national identity already forged by the gods. Ottomans. A word coming from centuries past his death, a word therefore holding the gigantic mark his legacy had left upon the world. Yes, he would be Atman of the Ottomans, and the dawn of the Devlet-i Allye-i Osmaniye would come with the establishment of Istanbul, a name known and held in awe by untold billions in a far future that would now never be.

Under the guidance of Atman, the wise Ottomans set out to recreate the Arabic abjad. The abjad held no vowels, unlike the alphabet, but in their exalted wisdom, the Ottomans would create an 'impure' abjad, that could indicate vowels by diacritics and a limited number of vowel-characters. The abjad was native to the crossroads of the world, and all noteworthy powers there used it. The ancient Fenike, the heathen Farca, the Yahudi diaspora, and many more besides these Phoenicians, Persians, and Jews. The alphabet hailed from Yunanistan, Greece, and Atman would not use the tools of Bizanslilar while better alternatives existed. There might not be any Byzantines in Anadolu for the moment, but Allah knew they would come for a reckoning.

Fearsome warriors alike to the mighty Turkish hordes would need to be trained to welcome them. Them, and all the others that now vied for their place underneath the sun - had the Seljuks not inspired great fear within all those that beheld their vast armies of horsemen? Persia had fallen before these armies, and the Ottomans descended from this mighty army. Persia, and all others, would know fear and subservience, lest they be trampled by modern Ottoman might.

The first warriors of the Exalted Ottoman State spread out throughout the known world, sighting pristine hills where once Konstantiniyye had stood as a blight upon the horizon. Full of glory and splendour and wealth, but a blight none the less. Allah, in His wisdom, had seen fit to purge Anadolu from their presence, and for this, He was thanked most heartfully. The levant was also empty, and this led Atman to wonder where the Jewish might have gone. Some said they were cunning and vile, and this might be so - they did cast Allah out of their hearts, after all - but they were skilled in matters of commerce all the same. Perhaps, with no great nations having arisen yet - Istanbul was only a city-state, he had to confess - there was little to do for those with skills in trade. Counting copper and gold to haggle and barter and charge interest - a haram practice that of course the Jewish had adopted - those were the skills of the Jewish, but if there were no copper deposits or gold mines yet, if there were no merchants traversing the Silk Road to reach the markets of distant Rome, then there was little use for these Jewish skills. Perhaps Allah had seen fit to cleanse them from the world - perhaps, he hoped, Allah had seen fit to cleanse all the heretics and heathens from the world.

But no, deep down, he felt the presence of the Byzantines. And he had been made aware of a nascent human presence along the northern coast of the Karadeniz, the Black Sea. A human presence that spoke in Greek. Atman ordered his warriors to strike camp at the hills of once-Konstantiniyye, and let none at all pass. Anadolu would remain free of Greek, Byzantine, Roman - heretical influence. Meanwhile, to the south, Egypt was sighted. Not the Mamalik Sultanate, nor the remnants of the Ayyubiyun dynasty of Saladin - Atman knew all this as Allah had granted him knowledge of the wonders of the world beyond the time he had spent alive on Earth - no, these Egyptians seemed to be of the pharaohic variant, one of the most ancient civilisations that had ever arisen. Heathen beyond doubt, but to be respected all the same; Allah had taught him mercy and compassion, and only by reaching out with magnanimity and friendship could the souls of the unbeliever be converted. After all, they had once been Islamic brothers, and the Mamalik Sultanate had been incorporated into the Exalted Ottoman State. After they had contrived with the Persians to wage war upon the Ottomans, that is... They would need to be wary of this new Egypt.

Simple greetings were exchanged as Ottoman warriors looked down upon Egyptian farmers. The temptation to redress past wrongdoings, to punish the deceit of the Egyptians... Ah, but Allah had taught him mercy and kindness, and he would offer them a chance at prosperity, in Allah's light, in this new world.

The Aleppo Eyalet - the Eyalet-i Halep - was established, with the founding of Halep on the banks of the Firat. Or, as the Greek world knew this river, the Euphrates. Halep had, for centuries, been one of the most prominent cities of the Ottoman Empire, and its establishment would secure food and farmland in plenty for the Ottoman people. With this newfound wealth now making its way to Istanbul, Atman wisely ordered taxes to be increased, diverting more funding to the scientific endeavours carried out in Istanbul.

Cleopatra, pharaoh of the Egyptians, ordered the Ottoman warriors to leave the borders of her realm, but not before they sighted a band of spearmen escorting a large population of artisans, farmers, and more such civilian occupations. Clearly, the Nil river was providing well for the Egyptians. The Firat would be an even greater boon to the Ottomans, as the wise and industrious Ottoman people would be far more capable of exploiting such a mighty river - but would the Ottomans have this time, with Arabian and Persian scouts prowling along its borders? To safeguard the Exalted Ottoman State, more than mighty warriors fashioned in the likelihood of rampaging hordes would be necessary. Disciplined spearmen were assembled in Istanbul, as seen in Egypt, but then having undergone proper military training at a barracks, instead of receiving the trappings of blessings of a long-discarded pantheon.

These spearmen were promptly dispatched to Halep, taking knowledge of the newly developed Ottoman abyad with them, as the Egyptians claimed the levant with their city of Thebes. Thebes, or Waset, was perhaps the holiest of the ancient Egyptian cities, being also known as Hut-ka-Ptah; the enclosure of the god Ptah. And the very name of Egypt itself came from this city; Hut-ka-Ptah was translated into Ai-gy-ptos as the years passed. It was thus utter blasphemy that this city of Thebes now incorporated the plateau of the Judaean Mountains where the Beyt-i Mukaddes, the Holy House, had once been built. Kudüs, the Holy One, Jerusalem itself, now lay in the hands of a long-forgotten cult.

Meanwhile, the Persians were contacted, and though they, too, sought a slice of the crossroads of the world, they occupied themselves with the construction of a great Colossus. Once, the ancient Greeks would have built this in Rhodes, and made the eyes of the Middle-East turn west in wonder - Atman could only approve of efforts to undermine the Greeks. And the Persians had their own cause for wroth, with their leader Xerxes sorely remembering being turned back at Marathon, before all of Persia fell under the sandals of Alexander the so-called Great. They might not be Islamic brothers and sisters, but the Persians were tolerant of all cultures and readily took Islam in their midst as a religion equal to their home-brewed Zoroastrianism. In time, Allah's light would shine upon them, Atman knew.

To further secure the Firat, the city of Bagdat was constructed. In the previous world, this city would have been located between the Firat and the Dicle - the Tigris - but Atman had to ensure the proper interpretations of Islam would find their way into Arabistan and find a home in the heart of Abu Bakr and his wayward people. For this, a strong Ottoman presence south of the Firat would be needed.

Troublesome developments to the south were not the sole matter that kept Atman awake at night. No, to the west, Greek influence crept upon Ottoman lands like the silent shadow of death, with the founding of Argos on the hills that were once home to Konstantiniyye.

Allah made it known that the Aztecs had erected a Colossus in the floating gardens of Tenochtitlan, surveying all the swamps and farms that dominated this region of that faraway continent Atman had never known of. America. No doubt Allah's light would shine bright there, too, one day. He would see it be done. The Persians, however, were disgruntled over these Aztecs stealing their glory. To appease them, Atman sent some of his most trusted aides to Pasargadae, what had once been the Ottoman city of Basra, to negotiate the borders of Ottoman and Persian lands. One of the conditions was the founding of Qasr-e Shirin by Ottoman settlers, a city that had once been part of Persia, that had once served as the gateway for both Alexander the Great as well as the Muslim armies of Arabistan. Atman would now guard the borders of the Persian Empire, it was decided, and the Persians would continue to be warm and kind and receptive towards the Ottoman prophets that carried out the most holy of works. Ironically, in the past, this city had served to end 120 years of war between the two Islamic brothers, fixing the borders of the Ottoman and Persian nations just as Ottoman and Persian delegates had just done in Pasargadae.

Further, Musul was established, to secure enough food for generations to come - the wheat farms alone could feed all the Ottoman people - and to secure incense and other materials the prophets of Islam required to convert the ignorant masses of Persia and beyond.

Perhaps in response, Abu Bakr sought to establish an Oracle, much like the Greek oracle of Delphi. No doubt, with the strong presence of Ottoman Islam to his north, he sought to consult the wisdom of Allah; why had the Ottomans been blessed with such fruitful lands, why was their Islam so good and glorious and successful, why did the words of his prophets only reach the unhearing ears of the lost and the dead in his barren deserts?

Antakya was established to the south, to pave way for the construction of holy cities such as Sam - Damascus - and Kudüs - Jerusalem. It would also allow trade across the vast White Sea - Akdeniz - or Sea of the West - Bahr al-Maghrib - to flourish. The Greeks and Romans who dwelt along its shores would recognise it as the Mediterranean Sea, but if Ottoman traders gained dominance over the waves, that name would not hold sway much longer. Still, the Greeks were finally officially contacted, and thus it became known that both the Greeks and the Persians sought to improve upon Egyptian works, by raising the highest pyramids ever seen. This was a time of great works, apparently, as Atman had also heard of Persian efforts to create the most expansive network of granaries ever seen - they would have to, without the riches of the Firat and the Dicle to draw upon.

Tebriz was established to the north, on the foot of a volcano, to secure passage through these mountainous lands - and, Atman admitted, to prevent the Persians from expanding into the Kafkaslar region; the Caucasus. Meanwhile, an expedition was sent even farther north, to claim the gold that had been found there.

At this point, the abyat had been developed into a full-fledged Writing system. No Egyptian hieroglyphs, but characters, to form verbs and nouns, with grammar and spelling and genders and more such features, a script that vastly eased communication between the vast holdings of the Exalted Ottoman State. A script, the first of its kind, that would further trade and diplomacy, and that would, eventually, unify all of humanity.

But while Atman focused on the re-establishment of civilisation, laying the foundation for the complexities of modern life as he had known it, the Greeks colonised the shores of Avrupa, as their ancient counterparts in the past world had done too. The Ottoman warriors, long having guarded the frontier of Anadolu, were forced to withdraw eastwards - and the path into Ottoman heartlands was now wide open to the Greeks.

As Greek merchants and adventurers slowly started to appear in Anadolu, they brought word of the Pyramid of Berlin, the world's greatest granary, said to safeguard the Germans from starvation during the harshest winters and the longest wars. Atman cared little for this, with the many floodplains and the vast stocks of wheat being cared for by industrious Ottoman farmers. No, Atman was busy codifying the philosophies underlying the Exalted Ottoman State; his views and visions of the future, the workings of good government, the way of Allah and Islam - having developed the Ottoman script, it should now be used to educate the world and show them the wisdom of the Ottomans. After all, in time, the world would only know the wisdom of the Ottomans, as shaped by Atman himself.

Wisdom, in the sciences, the arts, and in strategic acumen during the many military campaigns Atman would embark upon. Alparslan Kent was founded, in lands that had once been home to the Christian Georgians. They had banded together with their Byzantine enemies against the might of the Seljuqs, but sultan Alp Arslan had seized Georgia regardless of this shaky alliance. The Great Turkish Invasion would soon follow, though a Georgian reconquista would follow too. But this time there was no Georgia, this time there wasn't even a Turkish invasion - this time there were the Ottomans, and Alparslan Kent would make their enemies think twice before taking up sword against the mighty Ottoman warriors. Indeed, a unit of spearmen was sent to fortify the crossings between Anadolu and Avrupa.

This, too, was wisdom, as Greek hoplites were sighted on the hills, guarding a rich variety of grapes as Greek citizens helped themselves to these delicacies. Atman thenceforth provided great wealth and prosperity for anyone who would settle in the hills to the north and west, instead of in the lush rivers to the south-east. No Greeks would be tolerated on Anadolu, certainly not now that they had began constructing a great statue to their god of thunder. Rumours abounded that this religious fervour would mark the beginning of Alexander the Great's renewed campaign to conquer the world - and Anadolu would be the first target of such a war.

Barracks were erected allover the empire, and settlers and warriors steadily headed northwards. Trabzon, old Byzantine Trebizond, was reclaimed as an Ottoman city. With this influx of Ottoman settlers, adventurers, labourers and artisans, came a diverse set of cultural habits and practices, thoughts and views and ways of working. The rugged terrain to the north, mountainous with scarce room for farms, encouraged animal husbandry, mining, and fishing where possible. This entirely to the contrary of the south, where the rich Firat and Dicle had once more become the centre of civilisation, perhaps even capable of feeding the entirety of the world's populace. Atman's sponsoring of philosophy ensured that the Exalted Ottoman Empire remained a strong and unified nation, with room for diverse thoughts, where question and answer and counter-question would lead the Ottomans to greater wisdom, and where innovative practices were eagerly adopted to replace inferior methods. Atman continued his sponsoring of this learning, by commanding the establishment of the greatest library ever, to serve as a repository for all the knowledge the world had to offer.

Dagestan, a region that had only ever known the yoke of Persians and Russians squabbling over its riches while Mongol horses trampled crop and woman alike, would be the first city of the Exalted Ottoman State that had never known the glory of being under Ottoman auspices. Worryingly, Persian fishermen eagerly took to the refreshing Dagestani waters, to escape from the dry desert that was their home. Far more worryingly, however, were the traces of Greek civilisation that were sighted to the north of Alparslan Kent and Dagestan. Had the Greeks colonised the entire Karadeniz, the whole Black Sea? A nagging thought came into Atman's mind. Perhaps, against the famous Greek hoplites, that had conquered all that Alexander had set his gaze on, Ottoman warriors might not be sufficient. Perhaps, the Ottoman miners up north should set their pickaxes to strike copper and iron and other metals of war, instead of the wealth and luxury of gold.

The Ottomans in Anadolu were rising to the challenge of countering the Greek incursions, however. Ankara was raised in the north, recalling memories of that glorious capital, from where Atatürk had waged his war of independence to free the Turks from Allied oppression. These memories remained only in Atman's mind, and would forever remain there, because none would ever occupy Anadolu, or any place where Ottoman banners were raised. And banners were raised; the passages into Anadolu were secured, fortified, and held forevermore by the Ottomans.

Izmir was settled, a city that Alexander the Great had once refounded after Cyrus the Great had razed it. Never would Anadolu be a toy to be torn apart by these two powers, a bone caught between two mongrel dogs, Atman vowed. The Exalted Ottoman Empire had now claimed large swathes of the lands that had once fallen under its many great sultans - and although the treacherous Egyptians held Thebes and the surrounding lands, the Persians had scarcely settled their homeland. Atman ordered bands of settlers and prophets from Qasr-e- Shirin and Musul to seize these lands - to better protect Persia's border, of course.

This proved to be a wise decision. As Ottoman miners turned their efforts towards amassing copper and iron, to be made into shields and swords, keen explorers noticed a large vein of iron in the hills just north of Pasargadae. But keen Arabians had noticed the same, a piece of knowledge perhaps whispered into Abu Bakr's ears from his failed oracle. Apparently, the people of Summer claimed to have cultivated the powers of prophecy. Were the scorching deserts of Arabistan not 'summer' enough for these heathen gods? No matter - it was not as if Allah would commune through these heathen means. Self-delusions of grandeur, that was all.

Arabian warriors kept trying to find a way through Persian lands, but Xerxes, perhaps remembering the Anabasis, kept vigilant watch over his borders, and cooperated with the Ottoman workers and spearmen to keep the Arabians far away. In this exercise, Ottoman scouts learned that Xerxes had resurrected his ancient Immortals; thousands of the finest swordsmen ever, their ranks forever steady at one thousand per unit, a truly immortal army. For now. Soon enough, Ottoman swordsmen would triumph over all and sunder. Perhaps, both Ottoman swordsmen and Persian Immortals would be needed, to counter the threat to their west; Alexander the Great had erected a mighty statue to the Greek god Zeus, and this he used to rally an army of Hetairoi, his old Companion Cavalry, the first shock cavalry the world had seen, with whom he had conquered the known world. They had left behind such a legacy that the Byzantines had resurrected them - and now the Ottomans would need to put them to death for good.

Semnan was established in northern Persia, a city that had flourished greatly under the Seljuq Turks, with monuments of Turkic glory watching over the many roads and sewers and offices the Seljuqs had established in this once-devastated Persian city. Similarly, Abarkuh was erected in the Persian heartlands, a city once known for its four yakhchal, adobe ice houses used to store ice and other foodstuffs throughout the year, made by the Qajar dynasty from when the Turkic Qajar tribe reigned over Persia. A code of laws was instituted to ensure Xerxes could find no pretext for war, as his Immortals gazed upon the Ottoman cities. The Ottomans would need to be wary of the influence of Persian culture and military prowess, so deep in the Persian heartlands. But Xerxes seemed to be occupied down south, with explorers, adventurers, and ordinary citizens, all trekking towards the Arabian deserts. The Hajj, perhaps, but surely Istanbul was a better destination - Ottoman prophets had converted Persians to Ottoman Islam, had they not?

Meanwhile, the Arabian warriors that had tried to settle the Persian lands now scaled the treacherous mountain passages that cut Ottoman-Persia off from the rest of the Exalted Ottoman State. Perhaps the deserts north of Dagestan held value, Atman pondered. Magnanimous incentives turned Dagestani labourers and warriors, working on a barracks, into settlers ready to build and fight farther north. There, Atman's wisdom was proved once again, as Romans soldiers greeted the Ottoman civilians.

They brought word of the German city of Berlin, again, that now housed a temple to the Greek god Artemis, in addition to its pyramids. Curious, this; had the Germans and Greeks forged an alliance? Would Atman find Germanic warriors to fill the ranks of the Greek armies? Regardless. The entrances to Anadolu remained garrisoned by Ottoman warriors, and soon they would receive swords forged of the sharpest iron. However, the Romans did not pass east, but turned south, into Ottoman lands - following the Persians, perhaps, but the Romans clearly were unaware of the truth of Islam. Following the Arabians, then, who continued journeying eastwards into Persia? It was curious, but ultimately irrelevant.

Alania was established, once an important buffer state between the Byzantines and the Arabians - now, the northernmost outpost of the Ottomans, tracking all Greek movements in the region. And the Greeks were many; west and north and even east of the Exalted Ottoman State, like a plague they had spread themselves throughout the land. However, the sharp-eyed scouts of Alania also sighted another people in the distance, and rumours abounded that these were the Celts of Bibracte, famous for its Hanging Gardens and its unique system of noble lineages and hereditary rule.

As the Romans turned back again, as multiple bands of Arabians now sought to sneak into Persian lands, and as even Egyptians traipsed around Ottoman lands - Atman was of half a mind to evict all of them, but if they saw now the glory of the Ottomans, they would take more kindly to future incorporation - iron shipments finally began arriving in most major Ottoman cities. Spears were promptly discarded - the era of iron swords had now dawned.

And also, the era of the so-called 'res publica'. Each city's governor soon raised their own professional armies, with swords forged from white-hot iron, and trained in the best tactics and strategies that Atman remembered from his former glorious military achievements. But this gave power to the governors, and this gave the governors a desire to wield power at a level beyond that of their cities. Atman provided for this, in his inextinguishable wisdom, and thereby quickly ensured that the Ottoman armies would remain Ottoman armies, to be directed at Atman's foes. No Bagdati army would turn on Halep, and no army from Halep would occupy Bagdat. To satisfy the Ottoman citizens, long used to a life of fullness and plenty, luxury and living standards were increased, and taxes were cut ever so slightly. The Exalted Ottoman State grew only stronger, with the input of local governors - and later, wealthy merchants, wise philosophers, and innovative artisans - enhancing, and not shackling, the wise guidance of Atman.

Other despots turned towards arrogance and megalomania, instead of wisdom and foresight, as they erected mighty monuments in honour of themselves. A mausoleum in far-away Japan, a lighthouse in equally far-away Zululand - wherever that may be - and more pressingly, a great wall in Greece. A wall to keep the Ottomans out, no doubt - and a wall to hide the raising of an ancient army that had once conquered the known world. Barracks were quickly erected throughout the Greek empire, as legendary spearmen and powerful horsemen stampeded behind the gates, ready to rush beyond the walls of Greece and into the rich lands of the Ottomans.

The question, as such, was where to direct the exalted Ottoman armies. Moving beyond the passages to and from Anadolu, into Greece, would allow Atman to seize the many Greek wonders and to establish a convenient buffer region. But it would also expose the Ottomans to the great game of Europe, to the perfidious influence of the Romans and the Germans, and Atman's eyes might one day be on the west while the Persian enemy strikes from the east. It might be worthwhile to reduce the threat Persia could pose - but their Immortals were feared with reason, and Xerxes seemed to be amenable to the hand of friendship Atman had offered. Meanwhile, Cleopatra maintained control of the holy levant, the people there no doubt reeling under the oppression of Thebes. Just as the Arabians were no doubt yearning for the enlightenment of the Ottoman way of Islam.

As designs of siege engines were presented to Atman - in no way equal to those that had once conquered Konstantinniye, but then, the world was young still - and as philosophers turned to mathematics to explain the world, the governor of Halep brought another matter to Atman's court. He had been working on a great monument, with Atman's and Allah's blessing, to inspire loyalty to and reverence for the Ottomans in the hearts and minds of Thebes' inhabitants. But the rapid advance in knowledge pertaining to mathematics had revealed crucial flaws in the designs of this wonder, and various refurbishment attempts had failed to overcome these flaws - and now, there seemed to be no way to recoup the investments already made.

(yes, how do I actually turn the twelve-turn Palace into Sun Tzu's Art of War, given that I need... Ten more technologies? So 40 turns at a minimum, to reach the Medieval Age - plus Feudalism if I don't get it for free)
An excellent exposition and storytelling! You clearly have studied the Ottoman era and the Middle East in some detail.

You are at an interesting position in the game as well. So many options... or is it so many dangers? Halep becoming the home of Sun Tzu's seems hopeless, but perhaps it could become a center of trade.

The Great Wall giving Barracks is interesting, particularly with Greece building it and already having Zeus. Walls would have made Greece impervious to all but the most foolhardy invaders for quite some time; Barracks does not give that boost, but makes a potential offensive more dangerous. In a way it makes your choice tougher - with Walls, it would have heavily encouraged expanding elsewhere first. Instead, it's still going to be difficult to invade them, but you can't safely fortify that area with a skeleton crew while expanding elsewhere, either.
Thank you! I haven't studied much at all, but I like history, and it is fun to read up on (in this case Ottoman) cities that exist(ed) in the places where I found cities.
A center of trade? In which way? I'll find a way for Halep's poor governor to be rewarded for all his efforts (or else!), hopefully. :p
Yep, veteran Ancient Cavalry and Hoplites - Alexander couldn't have chosen two better wonders here. But that only makes the game more fun. :)
But thank you for your comment!

Extensive research and analysis would take place to prevent Halep's mishaps from happening in the future. Meanwhile, the Ottoman swordsmen were directed towards the site of once-Konstantiniyye, from where they would wash over Greece like a tidal wave of centuries old hatred. Better that Atman strikes now, before Alexander has the time to truly raise a world-shattering army.

Which would be soon enough, as Greek hoplites evicted the Ottoman warriors stationed at the southern crossing into Anadolu. This forced Atman to spread out his forces, deeper into Ottoman lands, where no Greek patrols could demand the Ottoman fortifications to be razed. In his wisdom, Atman also ordered northern Alania to be fortified, preventing Greek forces from sneaking through the Caucasus - but the woodlands directly west of Alania were already plagued by roving bands of Greek mercenaries. They would stand no chance against professional Ottoman soldiery - and certainly not when Ottoman catapults, the first one rolling in all the way from Semnan, could clear out these fortifications from afar.

However, now having to contend with the desires of the merchants and the artisans, and other representatives of the common citizenry, Atman was forced to confront the fact that this militarisation of the Ottoman State had resulted in a rapid depletion of the state's treasury. Unwilling to let the future of all Ottomans be dictated by a Greek - or otherwise foreign-born - tyrant, Atman consulted his finest merchants and his own knowledge of economics, and quickly undertook a variety of measures that would bring rapid economic growth to the Ottoman lands. The development of coinage and the establishments of mints, alongside centralised marketplaces and official tax collectors, would in due time see commerce increase to unparalleled heights. Indeed, Carthaginian traders already came looking for Ottoman riches - one day, Ifriqiyah would be an Ottoman province again, but for now, ancient Tunis was shielded by even more ancient Egypt.

Soon after, French scouts were sighted next to Thebes, but they promptly retreated before initiating formal contact. Still, Atman knew that the so-called saint Jeanne d'Arc had claimed Al Jaza'ir for her own - Algérie Francaise, as she called it. Just like Tunisia, Algeria would fall too to the Ottoman sword. Swords, that had by now equipped 26 regiments of professional swordsmen, though roughly a dozen of those were needed to garrison the northern, eastern, and southern border of the Exalted Ottoman State. With such a mighty army, more and more governors started investing in trade, given incentive to this by Atman and the Ottoman merchants he had consulted. Besides matters of military and commerce, literacy and science were also emphasised, with the completion of Istanbul's Great Library and the establishment of minor libraries all throughout the empire.

This led to a minor golden age, and regional high society took a liking to Ottoman cultural artefacts and manufacture. Trinkets, mostly, but the common citizen could be seen fabricating houses of Ottoman design across the border, and the soft power of the Exalted Ottoman State was at an all-time high. Fine Persian horses soon became finer Ottoman horses, as cultural practices spread both ways, and this would eventually enable enterprising Ottoman governors to erect arenas for chariot races, like the Byzantines had once done. But more importantly - the Greek colonists on Anadolu soon appealed to the governor of Izmir, desiring to join the Exalted Ottoman State. Thus all of Anadolu became enveloped in Ottoman culture, the first victory of many, of the Ottomans over the Greeks.

Soon, the first marketplaces were established, in Trabzon and in Antakya. Not in Halep, where the governor was still busy erecting a glorious - and flawless - monument. In his quest, a few labourers had died already, as the building crumbled apart on their heads. Still, progress was being made - but was it too hasty, and would the result be full of structural faults, again? Atman privately thought so, but he would give his governor a chance - should he fail...

(and yes... 26 turns is 4 turns too fast, I believe - so I need to throw the city into revolt at some point... What a pointless struggle, but it's part of the story by now :p)

As Ottoman worker crews finished laying down the roads that would see the glorious armies of Atman march into Greece - armies that would be augmented with horsemen from Abarkuh and elsewhere - Atman turned towards diplomacy on the eve of war. He sent envoys to Persia, Egypt, and Arabia, all equipped with lavish gifts, as one immortal godlike ruler to another - regardless of the superiority of the Ottomans and the decadence of all others. These envoys reported valuable information back to Atman, but also established permanent embassies, so that all three rulers might grow closer. That is, so that all might be persuaded to not take advantage of the mighty Ottoman host soon being faraway to the west.

Xerxes clearly had a mighty army prepared, for even the relatively small capital housed many companies of fearsome Immortals, together with horsemen and spearmen in vas multitudes. He had also turned his eyes towards naval dominance, and most strikingly, Persians seemed to be happier than the average Ottoman, thanks to luxurious materials ranging from ivory to dyes. Of course, Ottomans didn't need superficial luxury products to be happy under Atman's benevolent rule.

Cleopatra, meanwhile, had taken to chariot racing to keep her citizens happy, and guarded the way to Africa with traditional spearmen. However, the cunning Ottoman envoys found out that she was actually working on chariots made purely for war, instead of entertainment - a prelude to war, perhaps.

Only the Arabians held nothing to fear, Atman concluded. But then, they held themselves to a perverted form of Islam, and were clearly cursed for it, wallowing in a desert where cities consisted largely of - false - Islamic temples, instead of the infrastructure that lay at the foundation of every great realm. The Arabian army, small and understrength, relied on prayer alone, and had trouble enough dealing with bandits.

Finally, Atman sent an envoy to Alexander's own court.

Eight units of Hetairoi - Alexander's formidable cavalry, blessed by Zeus, but also by daunting martial training - were stationed inside the capital alone, along with countless bands of hoplites. And who knew how many more soldiers the Greek army contained, stationed in the many cities of the vast Greek empire, or fortifying the lands around them? They outnumbered the entire Ottoman army, the envoy reported. Atman felt a cold fear in his heart, and he truly did not know if the war he would embark upon was to be the beginning of an era of greatness, or the beginning of an era of darkness as the world succumbed to the Greek.

Strangely enough, Xerxes politely reported having heard of the Greeks, and their terrible army, yet had never seen them in person. This despite the Greek colonies on the east coast of the Caspian Sea clearly bordering the Persian settlements on the same shore. The Egyptians had met the Greeks - allegedly, Cleopatra and Alexander had struck up a friendship of kinds, if only as a tentative pact against the Romans - and Cleopatra cared nothing for taking a more opposing stance towards the Greeks. Even a simple agreement pertaining borders, right of passage, and trade, was nothing Cleopatra was interested in for the moment. No doubt she was waiting to see the Ottomans be crushed by the Greeks - but she did fear the many Ottoman swordsmen all the same. The Arabians held nothing of interest, nor anything to fear, and thus were left in their desert dwellings, while the envoy sent to Greece threw the dice to determine the fate of the world.

Though Alexander acquiesced to the Ottoman demands, this did not prevent a war under other pretexts. And so, in the year 900 BC, the Ottoman army marched into Greece, and the whole world trembled.

Oh boy! The die is cast now! It will be interesting to see how your army fares. It looks like the Hetairoi in Athenae can reach your troops this turn, as well as the Horsemen in Athenae and Argos. You have enough forces to withstand an attack of the former, and probably the latter as well, but this doesn't look like a cakewalk.

It would be really interesting if Greece were played by a human, who could send Hoplites onto the Hills by Argos. I doubt the AI will be smart enough to send Hoplites to both hills, so you'll probably be able to strengthen your position after the initial attack.
The world trembled as the hooves of all of Athenai's Hetairoi cavalry rode forth, together with lesser horsemen - and, praise Allah, retreated within an inch of their life or met a bloody end at the hand of Ottoman swords. Three companies of swordsmen died, but this was a trade that saw Atman sigh with relief as reports from the battlefield found their way towards Istanbul.

(actually, originally, the outcome was as such, but then I forgot to save... We now have a marginally worse outcome, but still, I think the Ottoman army did very nicely; )

None the less, it was time to exact a bloody toll for the loss of Ottoman life. The wounded Ottoman swordsmen charged into the disarrayed bands of Greek cavalry, and though some managed to retreat, most died without exacting much but the most superficial wounds on the Ottoman soldiers. In return, the Ottoman army now had valuable combat experience under their belt - which they would need in order to assault Argos, a city founded in a fertile valley surrounded by hills and mountains.

Meanwhile, a small skirmish up north, with the roving bands of Greek archers that had long haunted the forests, revealed the Greek outpost of Ephesus. Five companies of swordsmen, alongside a guard of spearmen, were dispatched from the northern fortifications to seize this city.

Greek soldiers wisely fortified the hills and mountains around Argos, allowing them to fall down upon the Ottoman army as it marched towards the gates of Argos. Indeed, the heavy shock cavalry Greece was so famous for could charge right through the ranks of Ottoman swordsmen, much like the heavily armoured Kataphraktoi of old Byzantium, while Greek archers could rain down arrows upon the Ottoman army from afar, using their elevation to their advantage. But all this would only work if the Ottomans were caught out in the open fields.

Instead of in, say, Argos itself. Hastily-assembled siege engines scattered the city into dust and rubble, finding little in the way of fortifications to oppose them, and as the dust settled, only two companies of hoplites were sighted guarding the city directly. One of them apparently forced into service, clearly not having undergone the rigorous training Alexander had insisted upon. As these fell before the vast armies Atman fielded, a half-starved company of horsemen came charging in, the surviving remnants of those that had foolishly decided to attack the Ottoman army earlier, but these measly few horses could not prevent Argos from being occupied by the Ottoman soldiers.

The isolated Greek armies could only look on helplessly as Argos was taken - and before they had time to regroup and launch a coordinated assault on Argos, Ottoman swordsmen experienced in hunting and scaling arduous terrain found these bands of Greek soldiers, and promptly cut them down. These Ottomans, forgoing loot and plunder and feast, would be compensated generously by their generals - but every Ottoman knew to put the needs of State above the needs of self.

This was also known by the soldiers marching onto Ephesus, keenly aware that the well-trained Greek hoplites, given time to fortify themselves inside Ephesus, would outclass the Ottoman swordsmen. With many more hoplites on the way, Ephesus would need to fall fast.

Hetairoi cavalry managed to ambush the scouting regiment the local Ottoman general sent forward. A heroic last stand by superbly drilled spearmen allowed the swordsmen to escape this ambush, and managed to bring down most of the cavalry before being taken into Allah's warm embrace. Thus inspired, all of the Ottoman swordsmen assaulted Ephesus, and all came out victorious - but as the archers and spearmen were put down to rest, the Hetairoi cavalry persisted, and hoplite reinforcements were sighted on the horizon. The Ottoman army sounded the retreat, for now, and understood that by doing so, they most likely condemned a fifth of their brothers to dying in the harsh deserts bordering Ephesus.

The unit of swordsmen that had garrisoned the woods south of Argos beat back two Greek archer companies - poorly coordinated, these - but again it was the Hetairoi cavalry that inflicted losses upon the Ottomans, charging straight towards the northern gates of Argos, brutally murdering the Ottoman swordsmen assembled there before retreating and seizing the fertile plains beyond these gates.

This retreat was short-lived, as Ottoman swordsmen descended upon this marauding band of Hetairoi and refortified the countryside. Four catapults spread out over six regiments of swordsmen made their way through the fertile plains, intent on besieging Athenai.

Sensing his impending doom, Alexander begged for peace - but Ottoman spies had learned that the Greek military no longer outnumbered the Ottoman military, and thus emboldened, Atman generously offered Alexander peace; Greece would know peace as a vassal state within the Exalted Ottoman State, or none at all.

As the Ottoman army arrived at Alexander's doorstep, the lands around Argos were further secured. Some mountaintops still harboured Greek soldiers, but they would break against the Ottoman defence lines, as two Greek archers companies descending from the north-western hills had found out, to their ill fortune. Besides, it would be a pointless trade in lives, smashing warm Ottoman bodies against the cold metal spears of the Greek hoplites - better to let them stay in the mountain passages, on the look out for a threat that wouldn't come, slowly starving as they were cut off from Greek supply lines.

Ottoman generals had made note of supply lines themselves, and noting that logistics had often won wars, Atman ensured that his armies would always have enough food and other supplies. Granaries were built, not only in the larger Ottoman cities to serve as storages for winter times or draughts, but also in the outlying lands and empty fields, empty save for small country roads where one day an Ottoman army might march. Or, perhaps, with food stocks thus established, Ottoman citizens might flock to these lands, Atman thought.

To the east, where the barren Persian deserts lay, this food would prevent unnecessary suffering. But especially to the north, in the deserts surrounding Alania, where an almost starved and vastly understrength Ottoman army - glorified border guards, once - had captured Ephesus from under the nose of scores of Greek hoplites.

Hoplites that, unfortunately, could easily deal with the Ottoman swordsmen, should they launch a coordinated attack. Even with the decision to send the remaining border guard northwards, this front was not secure or stable at all. Swordsmen and horsemen were on their way, from the Ottoman heartlands, but would they arrive in time? At least, if the Greeks should make for a concentrated push here, it would mean less resistance on the more important front; the siege of Athenai.

Two companies of hoplites attacked in concert, but though they fell most of the Ottoman swordsmen, they were forced to retreat just before finishing their bloody job; Ottoman reinforcements had arrived.

The rest of the Ottoman army, meanwhile, had arrived at Athenai, losing only a single unit of swordsmen that marched in range of Greek archers. A troupe of Greek cavalry that had bypassed the Ottoman army found its end at the gates of Argos - a fate that would not be mirrored by the Ottoman army. Careful positioning of siege engines and the ensuing bombardment revealed at least five professional hoplite companies seeking cover behind the crumbling walls of Athenai, and the Ottoman general present knew that he could not yet take the city. Investments in logistics paid off, as the local commander of Argos soon knew to reinforce the general in the field. This he did, sending as many as seven companies of swordsmen up north, having just been released from oversight by the physicians and healers, as well as a single troupe of horsemen that had just crossed from Anadolu into Avrupa. Meanwhile, a comparatively small army was tasked with probing the defences of Pharsalos, to the west. It was suspected that Alexander might hold lands north of Pharsalos, but judging by the borders of Athenai, the Greek presence there could not be very strong.

The rest of the forces that streamed into Argos, he ably used to fortify the lands around the city, besting Greek archer companies from Knossos and confining the hoplites to largely uninhabited lands. Two threats surfaced; a swordsmen army hailing from the north of Pharsalos, west of Athenai, seized the outlying hills of Argos. And an enterprising unit of archers - bandits, no doubt, sent out to die in a futile attempt at seizing the passes of Anadolu, winning their freedom in the unlikely chance that they should succeed - landed on the shores of Anadolu.

The latter was dealt with easily enough, as Izmir's governor sent his swordsmen out on a training exercise against. Superior Ottoman training resulted in but a few superficial wounds, and the fresh recruits happily marched on to Argos.

The former was harder to dislodge, with the five-unit strong army repelling various Ottoman attacks, and with the Ottomans also investing in Pharsalos. Half of the army sent against Pharsalos was lost, as even under-trained and hastily assembled hoplite companies beat back the Ottomans' finest, and the rest of the army struck up camp, wary, but eager for reinforcements so as to avenge their fallen brothers. The general of Argos was forced to shuffle his forces around, in order to not give up on Pharsalos and to rout the impending Greek army. In the end, the Ottomans prevailed - of course - aided by steady reinforcements from the Anadolu heartlands.

Farther to the east, from the north, entire armies of hoplites came bearing down upon the Ottoman state, and the general assigned to this theatre would be hard-pressed to hold these lands. Horsemen racing to the Athenai front were hastily redirected to fortify Alania, and the two spearmen garrisons, now augmented by two horse companies, should be able to hold off the first wave of hoplite invaders...

The garrison of Ephesus repelled an overeager attack of warriors, savages of a Caucasian complexion clearly enslaved by the cruel Greeks. But the rest of the Greek army dug in, and started pillaging the countryside for supplies. They clearly intended to stay there for some time. Fortunately, Ottoman horsemen and swordsmen from the south fell upon the unsuspecting Greek army, and, taking but a few casualties, soon secured Alania.

To the west, heroic Greek civilians - once the famous few that guarded the passages to and from Anadolu, now little more than an eager militia - had occupied the mountaintop between Argos and Athenai. From there, they provided crucial intelligence to the Ottoman army, and held an important fortification in the defence of Argos. From there, they made a heroic last stand against Greek archers threatening to overwhelm them - they were overwhelmed, and forever put to rest, but not before taking the Greek archers with them. The mere company of hoplites that remained, assigned to guard these archers, would stand no chance of seizing Argos.

Only slightly less heroic was how a troupe of wounded horsemen defended an almost completely perished unit of swordsmen, in the outlying wills of Argos. But as these skirmishes took place, the main Ottoman army now numbered ten swordsmen companies at full strength, and the Ottoman catapults were appropriately preparing Athenai for receiving these swordsmen. Most volleys of the Ottoman catapults struck true, and the most elite swordsmen charged in first. They were led by Mehmed-i Sani, and exacted a bloody toll from the accursed Greeks, wading in Greek blood as sharp Ottoman iron cleaved hoplite, horse, and archer alike in two.

He would forever be known as Fatih Mehmed-i Sani, Conqueror Mehmed, but today would not be the day he took Athenai. Despite miraculous fortune, with only a tenth of the Greek army actually collapsing, almost all of the companies making up the army suffered terrible wounding - and now they were caught between the gates of Athenai and a lonely mountaintop held by Greek hoplites. With no safe place for retreat, they could only hope that a final, desperate assault, would see them achieve victory.

Indeed, Greek soldiers were on the move, with bands of hardened hoplites patrolling just beyond the reaches of Ottoman fortifications. Greek horsemen sought to flank the Ottoman army, leading only to reinvigorating the Ottoman spirits. And as a new dawn arose, with memories of gloriously beating back furious Greek horses still fresh in the mind, the Ottoman army prepared itself for a final push.

Catapults rained down terror upon Athenai, with three-fourth of the barrage striking true. The few hoplites left had not the men to hold ranks as rocks fell upon them from above, and they were scattered into smaller groups. They still posed a challenge for the grievously wounded Ottoman army, but Ottoman numbers prevailed. What came after - bands of swordsmen hiding in the ruins of Athenai, futilely waiting on a chance to strike at the Ottoman army - was hardly worth mentioning, and that night, the Ottoman army slept in Greek palaces, in the warmth of Greek beds filled with Greek women.

The Hetairoi cavalry, sworn to the god Zeus, had failed. Failed Athenai, failed Alexander, and failed themselves. In the morning, the leader of this order presented himself to the Ottoman generals, holding council in what had once been Alexander's throne room. He bade the generals to follow him to the Statue of Zeus, the holiest of holies for the order. Once there, he ascended the stairs, and stood in front of the gold-plated Zeus. "Toi kratistoi", he uttered, and shoved a dagger through his throat. To the strongest, indeed. The Hetairoi cavalry would answer to the Ottomans now; they were the strongest.

Along with the State of Zeus, Athenai also held the headquarters of those elite hoplites that manned the great walls of Greece, and the designs of these fortifications were now in the hands of the Ottomans. Later, some enterprising Ottoman generals would compare Greek recruitment and training methods with those of the Ottomans, and a programme of 'Spartanisation' would be instituted to more efficiently raise, train, and maintain the mighty Ottoman military.

Finally, secret plans were found, for Alexander to flee to Pharsalos, and from there, to appeal to his Roman cousins to the west. Their mighty legions would, with luck, come to the aid of Greece, and the entirety of the Ottoman State would be incorporated in this Greco-Roman polity. Immediately, an all-out assault was launched upon Pharsalos, and with great loss - even savage warriors managed to club a good many Ottoman swordsman into submission - the city was taken.

Ottoman forces sallied forth from the fortifications around Argos, charging out of the forest across the river, to prevent Greek hoplites from retaking Pharsalos. Alas, the great Greek tyrant himself - Alexander - could not be found. Not in Athenai, nor in Pharsalos, nor with any of the surrounding hoplite armies wherein he might find refuge. Ottoman generals debated over the next course of action; Alexander could have been evacuated by sea, perhaps to Knossos, though this seemed unlikely. Or Alexander could have fled Athenai before it fell, before catapults rained down terrible wrath upon that city - but there was scarcely any information on the Greek presence north of the Black Sea.

As such, detailed maps would need to be made, and harbours and ships would need to be built. Besides, with the Mediterranean opening up, a strong fleet would be necessary to control both trade and the tides of fortune - who knew what ravages an amphibious incursion could have inflicted upon the Ottomans, should the Greeks have sent more than exiled prisoners and slaves? Further, the Celts were contacted, though they knew little of Greek internal policy. They did, however, have swordsmen units specialised in avoiding the strong hoplite patrols, employing flanking attacks and guerrilla tactics to wear down their enemies. They had not been in a war with the Greeks yet - but considering their swordsmen were practically trained for such a fight, the Ottoman diplomacy corps was highly optimistic.

An embassy was soon established, to seek right of passage and other deals, be they of commerce or war, but these proposals were all refused. Disappointed, this meant that the Ottoman army would go in blind, should it march north.

Perhaps, then, the Ottoman generals should secure Knossos, and whatever holdings the Greeks might have west of Athenai. Alexander was not yet willing to see this done the peaceful way...

So it seemed like the rain of Ottoman swords would not end anytime soon. With Mehmed's army occupying Athenai, and with a dearth of Greek heroes - Leonidas, Agamemnon, Ajax... None had been reborn, nor did Alexander command any generals or warriors whose names were worth recording - who could stand against the Ottoman prowess? So long as the Romans kept merely watching, the Persians kept silent, and the Byzantines kept far, far away... The Exalted Ottoman State would grow from height to height, and never fall.

Thank you for your comment! :)

Not everyone was pleased with the continuation of war. Two Greek archer companies, guarding the mountain passes north of Argos, fell down upon the city's wounded army, and inflicted damage upon the recovering swordsmen stationed there. Meanwhile, a company of swordsmen and hoplites advanced upon the hills next to Argos, defeating the swordsmen garrisoning this hill too. The general of Argos thus requisitioned more soldiers from the homeland - but Halep's governor, still busy working on his pet project, had paid no mind to training new soldiers, and was forced to send old men and young boys in their stead. Riots ensued, ensuring only corpses could be sent to Argos.

Similar riots could be seen elsewhere, and with the floodplains betwixt Musul, Qasr-e Shirin, Halep, and Baqdat, thus producing less food, the Exalted Ottoman State was thrown into starvation - which, of course, caused more riots to break out. A free grain dole was instituted, luxuries were made cheaper, and various other entertainments were provided for, to take the populace's mind of these growing problems - bread and circuses, as Atman mused.

But the war seemed to have lost its momentum for the moment, as the general of Argos now needed to defend Rumelia - the Balkans - without fresh soldiers. This he did ably, with an eye to logistics; he established strong roads on the site of once-Konstantiniyye, so that soldiers from the homeland could easily scale the hills there, and Greeks enslaved from the conquest of Pharsalos started constructing similar roads on the hills west of their home. An Ottoman army gathered in the woods south of Argos, where they could be supplied with fish and cattle and wine, so that no dysentery or other disease would strike as they camped in the fields to ward off attacks from Knossos. This army would, barring unforeseen circumstances, be sent onwards to take over Knossos.
Of the other two armies of note, one was recovering in Pharsalos to eventually make for the Greek holdings up north, while the other recovered in Athenai, where surely the brunt of Greek warriors would seek fame and glory and death.
Experienced swordsmen recuperating from wounds in Argos were directed into the lands north and west, to beat back the inexhaustible tide of Greek soldiery. Amongst them was Murad I, who had once conquered Edirne - then still the Byzantine city of Adrianople - and who had subsequently spent his life campaigning in Rumelia, bringing most of it under Ottoman rule. This namesake of his would go on to achieve similarly legendary feats, as he rallied the wounded Ottoman soldiers of Argos and drove back the archers, swordsmen, hoplites, and other Greek warriors threatening the city.

But others would go on to excel too. With the blessings of Fatih Mehmed I Sani, Kanuni Suleyman I patrolled the shorelines between Argos and Athenai. He dealt with Greek incursions, both from the land as from the sea, and dealt with piracy and banditry too; with Athenai falling into Ottoman hands, there were no Greek authorities to police the local populace. But both Mehmed, as well as the high command in Argos, recognised the importance of the farms - and the horses, which he himself used to patrol this large distance - of Athenai, to be able to feed the Ottoman armies even as the Ottoman heartland saw famine strike. Thus Suleyman patrolled, and thus he became known as the Lawgiver, imposing order upon chaos and ensuring prosperity for all.

Even though Argos was now garrisoned by a paltry sum of swordsmen confined to the tents of physicians, and a civilian militia whose only experience was garrisoning the crossing from and into Anadolu, and even though the heartland of the Exalted Ottoman State was in disarray, in the field, the Ottoman army was stronger than ever. Three great leaders, that would bring the Greek civilisation to its knees in due time, and that would return to the Ottoman lands to see glory and prosperity and happiness for all.

The Greek forces sent to recapture Athenai all met their doom, but then, the hardened soldiers holding Athenai in Atman's name were perhaps the most experienced soldiers of the entire world, having campaigned against Alexander's tyranny from the very start. And they were aided by the Ottoman's finest machinery of war; catapults. Joined by Murad I, the southern Ottoman army marched upon Knossos, and to the north, the mountains of Knossos, rich in gold, were seized to keep watch over the Greek forces in the area - and to scout out the best path for marching into the unknown wilderness there.

As the Ottoman army prepared itself to march upon Korinthos, the new capital of Greece, the homeland returned to relative prosperity, growing peacefully as regular grain shipments arrived in the Ottoman cities. The sentiment of the people cautiously turned into support for the war against tyranny, as food and entertainment became less scarce; Atman, wise enough to take good advice regardless of the source, had quite literally started building circuses and colosseums. Indeed, the Ottoman people, highly literate thanks to the Great Library and the many initiatives to support literacy, enjoyed reading about the heroic tales of Mehmed and Murad and Suleyman and all other Ottoman heroes. And even formerly Greek heroes; the first of the reformed Hetairoi cavalry - now the Janissary cavalry - were ready to serve Atman's interests. To further support the war, and to ensure support for future wars, the collection and centralisation of these heroic epics might be advised, and thus Atman ordered his generals to send regular reports to the capital, where they might be weaved into epic tales of Ottoman heroicness.

The first of these would be Murad bloodying his army against the gates of Knossos. He took heavy losses, but managed to drag the most experienced of the Greek hoplites into their graves, allowing the rest of the Ottoman army to capture the city.

Upon which some Greek citizens fled south. South, towards Rhodes, a city whose presence was wholly unanticipated by Murad. The Ottoman army had taken losses in assaulting this city without any siege equipment, and would now need to set up camp and tend to their wounds in a city full of Greek rabble-rousers and militiamen, itching for a Greek army from Rhodes to relieve them of their Ottoman 'oppressors'.

Fortunately, the governor of Rhodes chose the safety of his citizens over the ownership of Knossos; an archer detachment ensured the Greek citizens made their way back safely to Rhodes, but this gave Murad the time to fortify Rhodes - as much as he could, at least - and more, this gave Argos the time to dispatch an additional unit of swordsmen. They would probably be unnecessary, but Murad was wary of more Greek trickery.

This Greek trickery revealed itself in the very east, in Persia, no less, where Greek mercenaries found themselves on the outskirts of the Ottoman city of Abarkuh. Xerxes claimed to have no knowledge of harbouring Greece-sympathising citizens, nor of his governors reporting Greek soldiers marching through their lands, and Atman avowed to write the Anabasis and present it to the Persian court at the earliest opportunity. Whether this was Persian treachery or Persian incompetence would be decided later - for now, the swordsmen guarding the Persian border saw their first action, and did as well as their brothers in the west.

This Greek trickery also revealed itself in Pharsalos, where Greek ships landed a small unit of archers. Reinforcements from Argos helped cleaning these raiders up, and for the first time in millennia, the passage between Anadolu and Avrupa lay bereft of Ottoman guards. With all of Rumelia soon to be secured, the militiamen received a heroic reception in Argos, after which some of these stalwart guards were dispatched to Pharsalos, to keep watch on the Romans.
For the many swordsmen that had captured Pharsalos had found a new target; Sparta, quite possibly the final Greek city in all of Rumelia, except for the outpost of Rhodes. Not many citizens dwelt in Sparta, but then, these had undoubtedly all been pressed into military service, given the amount of soldiers Greece had sent against the Ottomans. Greek horsemen retreated, and Greek archers fell, and soon Sparta would fall too.

Sparta, however, housed a new threat; catapults, clearly inspired by Ottoman design - clearly inferior, too - that pummelled the Ottoman army with rock and stone. Fortunately, the Ottoman army advanced from the cover of forests, and thus took fewer losses than what might have been. They still took harsh losses though, as the Spartan soldiers embodied the very definition of discipline. The elite of the Ottoman army all fell, but they were the vanguard that saw the rest of the Ottoman army secure Sparta. They promptly turned the catapults onto the routed Greek army, as wounded swordsmen fled into the mountains - and as others, perhaps, made it to a previously unknown city north of Sparta.

Both Fatih Mehmed and Kanuni Suleyman marched onto Korinthos, leaving Athenai guarded by a small troupe of horsemen - detached from the patrols instituted by Suleyman - and some swordsmen-turned-city guards. The end of Greece seemed to be in sight, thought Atman, as he - or, his underlings - started compiling the many military reports into a truly heroic epic.

Hi need my speed, :santa2:

great that you are writing this Civ 3 story. :xmas:
Thank you for your comment! :)

With the end of the war in sight, more and more governors turned their attention towards civil infrastructure. Granaries and colosseums, per Atman's wise advice, but also harbours and marketplaces for trade. The governor of Halep in particular turned eagerly towards such peaceful projects, having restored order after multiple revolts and famines. As ambitious as ever, he had put shackles on the seditious elements within his city (real or perceived), and now an army of slaves was working on the seemingly forever-unfinished wonder of the world the governor sought to erect.

Meanwhile, the remnants of the Spartan army were broken in the countryside, and the sturdy Ottoman soldiers there prepared themselves for the march north, into unknown territory. At the same time, Murad marched south, to seize Rhodes, and both Mehmed and Suleyman had arrived at the edge of Korinthos.
These two heroes marched past broken bands of Greek soldiery seeking refuge in Celtic lands, but the Ottoman soldiers knew it was not their prerogative to risk diplomatic tensions with Brennus, leader of the Celts. Suleyman in person rode out into the Celtic forests, where he put down all the Greek archers and hoplites he could find, all by himself. The bravest of these Greeks managed to best a few Greek horsemen patrolling around Athenai, but these Greeks were killed in turn as reinforcements rode in from the south.
East of Kortinthos, Greek horsemen managed to extract themselves just in time before facing a complete defeat against the oncoming Ottoman army there.

Suleyman, meanwhile, met with the governor of Verlamion and with the envoys of Brennus. Brennus was annoyed, though apologetic, and offered to pay two thousand pieces of gold to compensate for the lost Ottoman lives and to amend the damaged relations between the glorious Ottomans and the equally glorious Celts. After all, had they both not burned down Rome in their time, be it Konstantiniyye or Rum itself? A right of passage was negotiated between the two powers, and during a stately banquet, Suleyman spoke with one of the foremost Celtic generals. He learned of the swift Gallic Swordsmen, to whom every wood is a home, skilled in the way of stealth and misdirection, assassination and guerrilla warfare, and he further learned that the Celtic army actually outnumbered the Ottoman army. Apparently, the vast plains and steppes, where so many tribes had migrated from, into Avrupa, had all been united by Brennus, in a feat only matched by Temujin, Genghis Khan himself. This could be a mere boast, of course, but Suleyman would return to the Ottoman lands with words of caution against their new northern neighbour - and he almost did not return, for as he left Verlamion, he was ambushed by Greek soldiers, and barely escaped with his life. Fortunately, with scrolls of promises of Brennus on him, he found safe harbour in the Celtic lands that had once provided refuge for the Greek soldiers. No longer, though, and soon horsemen from Athenai appeared on the horizon to escort the wounded Suleyman to safety.

The army of Suleyman was left in the capable hands of his father, Selim I, and the full might of the Exalted Ottoman State was brought to bear down upon Korinthos. Situated behind a river, between two lakes, Korinthos proved to be in an excellent position to withstand years of siege. This would have been true, if not for the cunning foresight of the Ottomans; Korinthos was exposed and vulnerable to armies coming from the east, and it could not defend itself in perpetuity against armies coming from both the west and the east. With the strongest elements of the vast Ottoman army gathered at the western riverbanks, Korinthos could not trust in its natural defences to hold this army at bay, and thus divided, the Ottoman assault began - and ended soon after, in victory.

Because of the excellent leadership of Selim I, comparatively few Ottoman swordsmen had been lost, and those mostly during skirmishes in the countryside east of Korinthos. Captured Greek officers and officials were interrogated - earning Selim I the nickname 'Yavuz', 'the grim' or 'the resolute' - and revealed that the Greeks held an outpost even farther to the north of Korinthos. This outpost would lay on the outskirts of Bibracte, the Celtic capital, deep in the Celtic heartland - but with promises of friendship from Brennus, Atman hoped that the seizing of this Greek outpost would not lead to trouble down the road.

The Ottoman army feasted in Korinthos, and stories of Selim's glorious conduct were already being passed on to scribes and bards heading to Istanbul, to work on the heroic epic there. Selim was rewarded with his own army to command, and he would lead the expedition northwards. To the south, the assault on Rhodes, spearheaded by Murad, succeeded. But Murad himself ended up in dire need of healing, and the two most elite companies of swordsmen were slaughtered to the man. None the less, only a single Greek curragh managed to escape the fall of Rhodes, and no Greek port remained for it to call home, as far as the Ottomans were aware.

The final vestiges of Greek civilisation were scouted. On the march to Thebai, the Greek army made contact with German spearmen, and news of this eventually found its way back to Atman. He remembered the Germans, holy and pious and claiming to be the heirs of Rome, this Holy Roman Empire of squabbling city-states and princedoms, and second sons playing at courtly intrigue to acquire a new acre of farmland over the bleeding corpse of their father and the raped carcass of their sister. But these Germans, led by Otto von Bismarck, were of a different bent, lacking the self-righteous trappings of Roman and Christian culture - perhaps, Atman pondered, in order to keep peace with the Roman Empire to the south, the Germans had needed to do away with their unholy non-Roman not-empire. They were now a people of discipline and industry, a nation powered by forges and hot iron, producing swords and armour, but also roads and homes, and all according to the same schematics, as if Allah had snuffed out any spark of creativity or individualism. An industrious society, of cold grey mass production, of military efficiency in all matters of life, this was the realm Otto von Bismarck had crafted. And Atman approved; all knew how the Roman legionaries had almost by accident established the gigantic Roman Empire - how else could Bismarck guard himself against this threat?

Official relations were soon established, and Berlin, capital of the German nation, became of considerable interest to Atman. The Pyramids had been erected in Berlin, and with it the creation of a most efficient system of logistics, compared to which Atman's own granary initiative was but a paltry facsimile. And more; Berlin housed the greatest temple the world had ever seen, dedicated to Artemis, the Greek god of the hunt. This, too, was a tool of survival in Bismarck's arsenal; it drove a potential wedge between any Roman-Greek cooperation in taking down the Germans, and the military doctrine of the hunt that spawned from this temple was in line with how the Celts had sought to counter the Roman legionaries, with their swift Gallic Swordsmen. Atman himself could make great use of these wonders for the betterment of the Exalted Ottoman State, he mused - and Berlin was not so far from the soon-to-be Ottoman city of Thebai...

Interested in what the other civilisations of the world might have to offer, Atman sent envoys on the long, long, long road - or, sea - towards Roma, Carthago, and even distant Paris. They revealed nothing of interest, but none the less expanded the Ottomans' knowledge of the world, and served as a first step to potential closer relations.

In the same vein, bands of horsemen were sent out across the Ottoman borders. Wounded German archers were found in the west, fighting against the Celts - but whether Otto or Brennus had started the war, was unknown to the Ottomans. Perhaps Atman and Brennus could ride together against the Germans, after the Greeks were reduced to the dustbin of history. The riches of Berlin were up for grabs, and Dusseldorf was a large city positioned there from where once Venedik - Venice - had grasped the entire Mediterranean in its claws. Seven wars spanning more than three hundred years, the Ottomans had waged against this city - perhaps soon it would forever remain in Ottoman hands.
On the other hand, perhaps Atman would fight by the side of cunning Otto. In the east, a small group of Greek archers were caught sneaking across the shores of the Caspian Sea - caught sneaking through Celtic borders. This was curious, especially taking into consideration that Greek archers and even swordsmen were also found marching next to Verlamion, even as Celtic spearmen looked on in silence. And Celtic swordsmen, themselves specialised in sneaking, merely watched north of Mycenae, as Selim launched his first assault. Were the Celts covertly aiding the Greeks - would Selim find Gallic Swordsmen in the ranks of the Mycenaean soldiers?

Worse - Ottoman merchants heard rumours of Brennus embarking upon a project not unlike the Ottoman heroic epic. But the heroic epic was meant for the Ottoman citizens, to rest assured in the glory and victory the Ottoman armies attained again and again, to look up to the heroes of Ottoman civilisation, to know that none could stand against the wisdom of Atman... The Celtic variant, on the other hand, consisted of the compiled lessons learned from their war with Germany, of the tactics and skills of the Gallic Swordsmen, and of how these could be applied to a fearsome new kind of warrior harnessed in full plate.
Atman privately inquired about the well being of Halep's governor, and about the well-being of the grandiose wonder he was working on. And of whether their might be an inverse correlation between the two, if results were not produced soon.
Meanwhile, Ottoman armies had dug in to besiege both Mycenae and Thebai at the same time. Selim had suffered horrendous casualties, and Mehmed had arrived to reinforce him, while Suleyman was marching west to aid the Ottoman army that had just claimed the Greek iron mines for the Ottomans.

Despite Brennus' skills at war - the mighty Gallic Swordsmen, the army that outnumbered even Atman's, and the compilation that was rumoured to have the working name 'Art of War' - his skills at diplomacy left something to be desired. The Rus, a people Atman had not yet met in this world, were intent on reclaiming their old motherland, and had declared war on Brennus, who was now caught between the Germans and the Russians.

Perhaps this was the work of the Greeks, as yet more Greek soldiers were spied in the desolate deserts east of the Caspian Sea. The governor of Isurium, the Celtic outpost there, resupplied the Ottoman horsemen, and noted that the Greeks had actually marched out of Isurium's borders, into the lands of Hammurabi of Babylon. The Ottoman horsemen returned to Alania, content in the knowledge that these Greek hoplites would never return to their homes - because there would be no Greece at all to return to.

It began with the fall of Mycenae - a rather simple affair, now that Mehmed had arrived to relieve Selim. He broke through the city's gates, and the small garrison that had not yet participated in the battles and skirmishes outside of the city, were cut down by various companies of Ottoman swordsmen, each boasting of more outrageous victories and accomplishments. This only pleased Atman; more tales for the heroic epic that would soon be distributed to every Ottoman citizen.

Suleyman continued his march west, routing elite Greek swordsmen as he forced himself through the hills and mountains east of Thebai.

And Murad's army marched northwards, in high spirits from his conquests of Knossos and Rhodes - and soon, perhaps Thebai, too.

Selim's army, meanwhile, was marching east, to find the Greek colony east of the Caspian Sea. When he would march west again, he would leave a pile of mud and clay in a faraway desert. But as he did so, he saw the first fruits of Brennus' 'Art of War'; iron pikes longer than any man, wielded by men encased in metal, so that no horse could trample these soldiers as they impaled horse and rider both. Later, Ottoman horsemen scouting the Celtic lands, reported variations on the same concept; maces with spikes instead of pikes, and chainmail in addition to plate harnesses.

Whether this army, perhaps the mightiest and most advanced of the world, could save Brennus...?

Atman's philosophers and artisans would soon have advanced Ottoman metallurgy and engineering to similar standards. And then, truly, who could stop the might of the Exalted Ottoman State? Soon, the Ottoman age would begin in earnest.

The Ottoman army steadily marched on, past Isurium, through barren deserts where the few wells and irrigation works were heavily guarded by Babylon bowmen. Fortunately, Selim I proved to be a charismatic general when he needed to be - no grimness here at all - and in return for intelligence on Celtic settlements and military movements, the Babylonians freely shared their food and water with the Ottoman army.

Meanwhile, the main Ottoman army had surrounded Thebai, and subjected it to a short siege campaign. Though eager to conclude this war, and baited by over-eager Greek swordsmen that were promptly chased off in defeat, cooler heads prevailed, and the Ottoman army waited for the mighties of Murad and Suleyman to arrive on the front, before committing to an all-out assault.

This all-out assault would see Suleyman take grave wounds, and his army shattered by extremely disciplined hoplites and swordsmen, seamlessly working together - perhaps the last remnants of the fabled Spartan army. However, Murad's army charged towards the front, and saw Suleyman being safely carried off to the Ottoman camps. The flanks, composed of battle-proven swordsmen regiments, rushed in to fill the gaps, and closed down around the exposed Greek army, that had rushed in to capture or kill one of the Ottoman's most able generals. Soon, the Greek army was overrun, and a seizable amount of camp followers were captured by the advancing Ottoman army. They were set to work in the surrounding lands, as the Ottoman army finally found the rest - and feasts, and fortunes - that they thoroughly deserved after having conquered all of Greek Europe.

The Balkans, and beyond, were Ottoman again, now and forever. The conclusion of this arduous campaign saw an uptake in the world's interest in Islam, the cause of multiple entwined factors. For one, the Ottoman army, fighting under Allah's auspices, had doubled the size of the Exalted Ottoman State. As they advanced, they grew emboldened by victory, stronger through experience, and also, secure in the belief that Allah truly was on their side. But not only the soldiers grew stronger in their faith. Missionaries - those who practice 'dawah', issuing summons and making invitations to bring those around him closer to Islam - became more and more frequently attached to Ottoman armies, engaging in dialogue with the many camp followers the Ottoman armies picked up, and finding homes in the villages and cities the Ottoman armies conquered, spreading Islam all throughout the Balkans. Atman encouraged all this, and in fact set up incentives for Islamic scholars to proselytise amongst the populace, and teach all about Allah and the Qur'an and Islam.

However, the Balkans were an impoverished place. Small clusterings of cheap houses, of wood and mud and stone, where perhaps a dozen Greek farmers lived, were a common sight. The Ottoman empire might have doubled in size, but the core of the Ottoman empire was much more urbanised, and was inhabited by a people far more skilled and knowledgeable - and literate - than the lands that were once Greek. Progress, and the small pleasures of life, had been sacrificed at the altar of an army meant to conquer the world, and of monuments built to honour the would-be conqueror Alexander himself. Ottoman wisdom was spread by the Ottoman soldiers, who often took a Greek wife and settled down in a formerly Greek village. However, the missionaries and scholars that were directed into the Balkans by Atman, played a far more important role in this, and it was them who truly paved the way for the Exalted Ottoman State to become a wealthy and industrious empire that none would ever come to match.

Even the Babylonians were interested in the teachings of Islam, and Islamic scholars were sent forth into the lands of Hammurabi, where they would construct mosques with their own gold, paid for by Atman himself. In return, the advanced metalworking and engineering practices the Celts had adopted - and apparently the Babylonians too - would be taught to Ottoman smiths and other craftsmen.

(but upon posting this update, I read the first post of this thread and remembered that I had forbidden myself from trading technology... Well, from now on then. :p)

With the Exalted Ottoman State so vast and so advanced, emissaries were sent to Egypt, Arabia, and Carthage. To be sure, all these lands were once under the rule of Istanbul, and all these lands would fall under her glorious rule given time, but with the Ottoman armies dispersing across Europe, perhaps a warming of relations and an increase in commerce with the south might benefit the Ottoman empire. An embassy was also established in Babylon, to better oversee the Islamic works that would take place there - but the Ottoman emissaries found an empire engulfed in the flames of revolution, and it was suspected that the people were clamouring for the old code of Hammurabi to be replaced by the laws of Islam; the shariah.

With death at Greece's doorstep, Alexander too sent forth emissaries, asking for peace in an arrogant demeanour reminiscent of Alexander himself.

Alexander, who now commanded a salt mine in an infertile wasteland, devoid of life or water. Alexander, who was now faced by death personified in the form of Yavuz's army. A grim sight indeed, for the pretentious would-be conqueror who had lost everything.

Though a valiant band of Greek archers managed to whittle down a unit of Ottoman swordsmen, Halikarnassos fell, and with it, all of Greece. Alexander was struck down when the Greek army - that is, the pitiful remnants housed in this sand-blasted wasteland - sallied forth, and the paltry citizen militia couldn't keep the Ottomans out of Halikarnassos.

The eyalet of Kefe was established, and plans were drawn up for the further Islamisation of the Balkans through the construction of two new cities of proper Ottoman make.

But not all business conducted was the business of peace; in the mountainous east were timber and minerals were abundant, mighty trebuchets were assembled, to be moved all the way to Thebai. And Ottoman generals, now having studied and reproduced the plate armour and weaponry of its neighbours, came to Atman with a daring proposition; to replicate the Byzantine heavy cavalry, the Kataphraktoi, so that the Ottomans might break through the sturdier opposition of modern times. Soon, knights would charge across the lands, fighting under the banner of the crescent moon, for Allah and Atman and the betterment of the whole world.

For although a right of passage had been agreed upon with Bismarck, this served two purposes, neither of which peaceful; it enabled the Germans to fight and die in Celtic lands, and it enabled the Ottomans to scout out the Germans' own lands. Though no crusading Holy Roman Empire, this Germany was still of a militant mind, and who knew what ravages a combined Roman-German army might wreak upon the underdeveloped Ottoman Balkans? Besides, Berlin lay just across the hills of Thebai - and Berlin housed wonders such as the Pyramids and the Temple of Artemis. A mighty boon indeed, for the burgeoning Exalted Ottoman State.
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