The Will of the Caliph: A MEM II story

Golden Fleece

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"The Will of the Caliph", from the chronicles of Al-ulī.


Abbasid manuscript​

About:

This is a story about the famed rise to power of the Abbasid Caliphate on embryodead's and Yoda's amazing MEM II-Mod. I've been inspired by the great stories on this board, but a complete tale in MEM seems to be missing as yet. This is an attempt to fill the gap. The story will be told in English prose style, as the poetic and flowery Arabic of Al-ulī's original manuscript would be too hard to stomach. :) I will try to follow the gameplay as closely as possible in the narration, but will take the liberty to apply artistic license if it adds to the flow.

Just a few facts:

Difficulty is Duke (Monarch), Large MEM Europe Map, all 31 MEM civs. Domination, Expedition and Conquest vistory conditions are on, Cultural is off (this is a tale of conquest!).

The goal is to recreate the historical caliphate, which at the height of its power stretched from Persia to modern-day Tunisia, encompassing the entire Middle East, south-east Turkey and most of Northern Africa. As Persia is not part of the MEM-map I'll haver to forgo the Eastern-most (and, arguably, most influential) part of the empire. Can't have it all. ;) As compensation I will also reclaim the lands of the historical Ummayads, meaning the rest of Northern Africa and most of the Iberian peninsula. Before this hasn't happened, I may not expand anywhere else; only when the historical caliphate has been re-established can I consider other territory. Let's see what happens. :D To add to the historical feel, I will try to dot this thread with historical images and idioms, which I hope will enhance viewing pleasure. I will also liberally mix actual history and fantasy (due to game-play), the first example right off the bat by moving the foundation of the capital 60 years before it's real time - that's because the mod starts before that.;) And of course, I'll include lots of screenies!


Oh, and this will be my first attempt at completing a Monarch game, and also the first time adding a kind of variant, so feel free to comment on the actual game-play. Al-ulī's chronicles are sometimes sketchy and difficult to decipher, there may be several interpretations to the text. ;)


Painting by Yahyâ ibn Mahmûd al-Wâsitî, 13 c.​

Off we go:


700 AD

Kneeling down in the soft earth, al-Mansur gazed with jet-coloured eyes at the scene presenting itself before him. The water flowed brown and rich past the fertile land, a gentle wind blew over a small grove of date trees and crickets were chirping in the grass, while the rising sun was already heating up the air. The eyes caught a small flock of purple herons rising from the far shore of the legendary river. He wondered whether that was a good omen. Hearing steps approaching, he nevertheless remained in this position, the hard features of his face inscrutable.

- "My lord, it is time."

- "Yes."

He rose slowly and turned to his loyal follower. The months, indeed years, of hardship and strife had been carved into the other man's face. al-Muhi had been a close friend to his brother, who had died during their journey just a few months before and whose title he had inherited. He was accompanied by another. al-Mansur found himself looking into a mirror image of himself, albeit with no grey hair and far fewer lines around those same black eyes. The younger man spoke.

- "Father - let us pray."

The three men turned south to Makkah, to praise God for bringing them to this blessed and ancient place, and allowing them and their families to live. Performing the sujud, the new Caliph thanked Allah for his aid in their struggle against the immoral Ummayad and saying duas, he added a promise that in the name of his ancestor, uncle of the prophet Muhammad, he would do everything in his power to establish and defend with a sharp blade a realm that will spread the glory and knowledge of Islam, as the prophet had taught 80 years before.

Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur rose to his feet and spoke in a ringing voice to his people.

"By Allah and his prophet Muhammad, from now on this, on the shores of the mighty Tigris, will be our new capital, our new home. We have cast off the shackles of those that stifled us in our faith and dishonoured the teachings of the Prophet with their decadent ways. Let this city be a beacon of purity, of learning and of prayer! Let it shine in the darkness of our times! This is indeed the city that I am to found, where I am to live, and where my descendants will reign afterward. Its name will be Madinat as-Salam, the City of Peace! For it is truly: Bag-dad, a "gift of God"!!!




--------------------------

[I think I stole this next bit, I remember reading something similar in another Civ stroy. But I like it so much that I'll use this myself. Consider it a tribute. ;) ]

At this point the chronicle breaks off. It is unclear whether the missing pages are lost or whether Al-ulī found the years after the richly detailed description of the founding too irrelevant. From other fragmentary records we learn, however, that the new Abbasid capital grew quickly due to the extremely fertile land to its north-east and its strategic position and al-Mansur's and his descendants' followers set about irrigating, roading and mining the land.

So, that's it: a first little tease for you, the reader(s). I hope you will stay with me as we continue to learn about the beginnings and eventual rise of the Abbasid Caliphate, and further peruse the ancient manuscript of Al-ulī, the chronicler.
 

Golden Fleece

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Short update from the Historical Institute, Department of Middle-Eastern Medieval History. It seems some scattered leaves could be ordered and translated, detailing some early Abbasid court life and the first spread up the Tigris. It seems from this part and from some of the later parts of the chronicles, that Al-ulī does not seem to have been the sole author; it appears that he was rather a compiler of sorts: writing himself, but also copying work from other sources, as one can see from the different styles in the text. This later bit was less poetic (surprisingly, you'll find out later why), and more, shall we say, biting and direct in tone:

860 AD






Our supremely exalted lord, Caliph al-Mutazz (المعتز ), seems to find amusement in providing the most menial, dastardly, horrible tasks for me to perform. Not only to I have to provide constant distraction for his great lorship, poor Abu-Nuwas (ابونواس. . - that's me) has to run around finding more peasants for his holiest of holy quests to wade up this infernal river! Oh yes, the Tigris provides us with food and water, but it's absolutely no game of nard living at the butt-end of the city, with the stink wafting through my window.




Maids playing the European version of nard.



Yes, Abu-Nuwas should have taken leave of his shining caliphness and moved up to Damascus (دمشق. .) when he had the chance. My cousin Ayah moved there with her new husband Muhammad. They say that further up the river the land is greener, there is superb grazing land to the north-west - even the girls are supposed to be prettier. Unlike those faces of camels that have to be rounded up and coaxed into settling even further north. Why anybody would want to stay here is beyond me though.






Maybe I should ask his brilliance Lord al-Mutazz, that sparkling jewel of Sunni Islam, if I could join the sorry parade? What did he want to call the thing? Something about seeing, yes: Basra (لبصرة), that was it. What an imbecile name. A goat could fart better than that. Perhaps I could stop on the way in Damascus. After all my cousin Durriyah, that dreamy woman, is also there, I have missed her stories! The one about the djinn and the forty brigands, and something about a lamp and a jackal-vizier. No, I must be confusing it. What was it again? There was a princess telling stories...






By Allah and his prophet, I can't stay in Baghdad! My writing talent is wasted here, I have to keep running around for the holiest of lion-kings and put up with screaming fisher-women! They have no respect anymore, this is not like in the days of the great al-Mansur!

This is it! I have just seen a dead chicken float past my window. I will seek an audience with the Caliph, before sunset! The vizier will not stop me this time. I am determined. And once I'm in Damascus, I will spread everywhere that I was born there. Maybe even in Basra. But I, Abu-Nuwas al-Hasan ben Hani Al-Hakami, will not be known as one from Baghdad!




One of the stories of Abu-Nuwas, considered one of the greatest Arabic poets of all time, and himself featured in several 1001 Nights stories.


-----------------

Here, again, the chronicles become disjointed and unreadable. But you can imagine the excitement in the department at this finding of what is probably both the first documented text of the great classical poet and one of the first personal diaries. The frivolousness of the text is especially noteworthy; at this time the rate of literacy in the Islamic world was a lot higher than in Europe, so someone with decent education could easily read what would have been considered royal insult - punishable by death, with a starter of torture.

That's it for tonight, more updates on the way, and this time with less cultural blabber and more game-play meat on their bones! I hope you're having as much fun reading this as I am having writing (if anyone's actually following. :D).
 

Arexander

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Very nice start! I find your writing style very interesting. Continue on such a good story.
 

Golden Fleece

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Thank you Dumanios and Arexander. Good to see I'm not writing this just for myself. :D



Months of hard work by our document restorers and after considerable input from some of the most highly valued historians and archeologists with expertise in Middle-Eastern history have produced amazing results. What follows is the publication of these results, with the promise of more to follow. Several PhD's dissertations have sprung up around this research, :crazyeye: and is entirely conceivable that a definite understanding of Abbasid history can be gleaned from the fabled manusript of Al-ulī. CFC members will be the first to read of the group's findings. :king:

The exact record of the century between the last decipherable documents and this one can only be guessed at. It is known, however, that Basra was indeed founded a few decades after Abu-Nuwas diary entry, in 912 AD, on the shores of Euphrates. What was to make the third Abbasid city famous throughout the Caliphate were it's superb horses - something that would be crucial in the centuries to come.



One the famous Basra horses in splendour

What seemingly captivated the imagination of the Abbasids at the time was the crossing of the bādiyat ash-shām (بادية الشام ), the Syrian-Arabic desert, and the founding of Mosul. With that, the Abbasids set foot on the tip of the Holy Land. Not only that, the Abbasid settlers found a rich land, with a dye and incense industry soon blooming, forests perfect for bee colonies and olive oil plantations on the border of the desert. But most importantly, a troop of warriors, traveling south in search of the holy sites, met their first true rivals, the Fatimids!









This the Baghdad caliphs considered the upstart realm of the Western desert people - Shi'a followers on top of that. It was also to be the start of an initially civil but rapidly deteriorating relationship. What follows now, though, are the last years of peaceful Abbasid expansion and consolidation of their homeland, the defence of the caliphate against desert tribesmen, the Fatimid insult and beginning of the conflict, as well as the first real intercultural exchange of knowledge since the Ancient World.

962 AD

The upstart sons of the desert have thrown our enlightened ruler, Caliph al-Muti, into a holy rage. When the messengers returned from our spearmen that a settlement had been established by the Shi'a from Cairo, the vizier, my lord, thought it was lucky the envoy left with his head on his shoulders. I was summoned to the Golden Gate Palace, past the gigantic work-site where our enlightened ruler, by the will of Allah, had commissioned the building of a gigantic Royal Library, to scribe immediate orders for attack on what the Fatimids called Jerusalem (القُدس ).










By the time I had gotten to the inner courtyard, nervous servants and courtiers were running around delivering messages. As I passed under the great arch inside the palace I wondered whether our troops we ready for an assault against fortified Fatamid spearmen and came up with an unfavourable answer. Our own spearmen, while excellent on the defence, had proven just as useless as our old warriors in attack. Furthermore, the new javelins our weaponsmiths were producing on my command were not available in sufficient numbers yet. The young warriors I had chosen for this were also not trained well enough by far. I had already conferred with the vizier that our resources were better spent on recruiting more workers for the imperial roads which would one day connect Damascus to Basra, and cross the northern bādiyat ash-shām to Mosul. Besides, the people were unhappy as it was, and hiring entertainers were exacting a toll on our production. We absolutely needed the famous olive oil and deep dyes from Mosul in the capital! Any delay would cost us more than our pride over the Fatimid eyesore on the other side of our beautiful river, those sons of dogs!!

Besides, there have been worrying reports of Kastamoni tribal horsemen in the southern desert near Rakka. I have sent a hundred spearmen south immediately; I hope these will be sufficient to defend the small town. We've had enough raiding recently. The sack of Rakka by the heathen Dragovit four years ago was enough - who would have thought their horses would be able to move so swiftly in the desert?? We have to teach our Basra horses how to better cope with the sand, this may prove crucial in the future.





Ah, it seems the vizier was able to placate the caliph somewhat. He has the cunning of a desert fox and a silvery tongue, and is an example of piousness. He has performed the Hajj (حج. . ) at the age of nineteen and the Umrah (عمرة. .) three times already! al-Jafar has always shown wisdom in his counsel and the exalted caliph knows this. We must indeed strengthen the caliphate before engaging the upstarts from the west.

But Cairo will not be tolerated. I swear, by Allah, and Muhammad his prophet: I will train my new javelinmen to be the tooth and claw of the Abbasid lion that will rend the Fatimid reign asunder!


976 AD

Our emissaries had finally come back from their lengthy travels. Taking first the new imperial roads north, to the Christian kingdom of Armenia, our emissaries and traders were able to persuade the Armenians, with coffers filled with 380 gold pieces, to demonstrate and scribe the organisation structure of their religion. Who would have known the far-reaching possibilities of this? Our emissaries have also brought back the scrolls, which we traded after our dealings with the Armenians, containing the desert dogs' secrets of masonry building and plantation techniques. We had to devulge our literary knowledge and the Armenian idea of state religion, but we needed better building methods. Our defences were in a sorry state. We have to have our scientists add this knowledge to the newly finished Palace Library.



[Sorry, no screens of the highly profitable trades]


----------------------------------------


The records continue to chronicle the expansion across the Zagros Mountains (زاجروس الجبال ) with the foundation of Tyre and the resulting destruction of the Semigallian tribesmen, as well as the founding of the Kufah (الكوفة ), the first major Abbasid port to the Mediterranean Sea.

One very intereesting piece caught our attention; this was particularly difficult to translate, as it seemed to be written in code, and was dated to 1004 AD:

"To al-Tahin: My predecessor, the vizier al-Jumanji, whose mentor was the great al-Jafar, has entrusted these secrets to me, whcih I will now pass on to you. You expressed deep dissatisfaction with our arrogant and wilful caliph, who is nothing more than a petty tyrant, a shadow of his ancestors. Let me then tell you that you are not alone. There are many powerful families who are in discord with the caliph, and would like install a government that will usher the caliphate in a new age of Sunni Islam! Our people have had enough of tyranny! These families have long developed a system based on land and titles, feudalism. They are ready to overthrow the ungodly one, and they are in agreement that you, Hārūn al-Rashīd (هارون الرشيد), should head the revolution by the will of God, and be: the new Caliph of the Abbasids!"

1004 AD





This is the end of the third batch of translated and published chronicles, please tune in again for the fourth publication, titled: "The end of peace".
 

Arexander

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This story made me want to play MEM II again after a long pause. Too bad it's midnight here so I can't play it now. :cry:
 

Golden Fleece

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Arexander, great to hear that! I still think MEM II is one of the very best in Civ III Modding, I thought it was a shame that after the initial hype it's quietened a bit after the release v. 1.3, even though that's the best version and prettiest version. This story will hopefully get a few more members to give it another shot. AoI seems to be all the rage these days, looking at the story board, understandably so.

ps.

note to self: Must post faster, these updates take ages with all the research and pic editing. That last post took four hours... :eek::crazyeye:
 

Golden Fleece

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I think I'll just re-name that city sitting on <jerusalem's original spot and call what is now Jerusalem something else. And pretend it's always been like that. :D

Update tonight!
 

embryodead

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Very nice story, love the mix of gameplay and historical info / pictures :goodjob: Really weird to see the Fatimids settle 2 tiles away from Baghdad just like that, the bastards. Good luck with the conquest.

City's names on Euro map always annoyed me so I rename them as well.

@Dumanios It's a clean-map version, Jerusalem & other cities are pre-placed in later-era scenarios.
 

Arexander

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Well maybe it's the only fertile land where they could settle. After all, there are many flood plains in that area. :)
 

Golden Fleece

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As we know from various other documents that were preserved from the Abbasid Caliphate, the 11th c. was yet young when Harun al-Rashid, with the help of the Grand Vizier al-Jumanji the Younger and various powerful families overthrew the reigning caliph al-Qadir, as a climax of the power struggle between the most prominent families of Baghdad and the caliph himself. Using the accusation that al-Qadir had betrayed Sunni Islamic principles, al-Rashid stormed the Golden Gate Palace with his household guards and arrested the caliph after a brief but bloody struggle with the royal bodyguards. The rest of the palace guard had been previously ordered away by the Grand Vizier without the caliph's knowledge, and to ensure that al-Qadir wouldn't notice the absence of the soldiers, requested a private audience with him.

The incident sparked a two-year civil war, which ended in 1006 AD when the loyalist leaders, bloodied and almost defeated, and the heads of the rebelling families signed a truce, declaring that by the will of Allah, no Abbasid should have to shed blood of another Abbasid in anger. al-Rashid was thus instituted as new caliph, supported by the most powerful under new feudalistic system.

al-Rashid wasted little time. The training of javelinmen and spearmen and forging of weapons was redoubled, but it would take another 40 years of internal maneuvering before the infrastructure and the army were sufficiently ready and equipped for the storm of Jerusalem and the war against the Fatimid Caliphate.

But al-Rashid is not only remembered as the man who finally showed the world the might of the Abbasid lion but also as a deeply religious ruler, who wished to leave a lasting religoius legacy in the Islamic world. Baghdad was have religious significance second only to Makkah and Medina.

Never before has the scientific community had access to such detailed documents on the war and the building of one of the most famous Wonders of the Arab World. Please read on:

1028 AD, Golden Gate Palace

"al-Uhan, tell me again what you have planned."

"Yes, your Highness. I have considered your request in deep contemplation and Allah, may his name be praised, has blessed me with a most marvellous idea. Baghdad, as capital of the most holy Abbasid empire, should shine as a beacon of purity and..."

"Please don't quote the words of al-Mansur to me. I am well-versed in the history of this city."

A droplet of sweat trickled down the architects cheek that had nothing to do with the day's heat. He bowed very low, speaking to the floor.

"Yes, my lord, my most humble apologies. I did not mean to offend. I..."

The caliph waved an impatient hand.

"Yes, yes, please carry on."

Looking up, al-Uhan saw two black eyes boring into him, doing little to allay his nervousness. Was the honour and, more importantly the superb payment, of the position as Royal Architect really worth all of this? Reminding himself of his own status as the most acclaimed builder in the caliphate, al Uhan steeled himself and pressed on.

"Well, your Highness, allow me to show the plans I have drawn up. Here..."

al-Uhan beckoned his assistant, who hurried up with the scrolls.

"I believe the design is compelling. The ground floor is kept simple, symbolising humility and submission."







"The most prominent feature, however, will be this."

al-Uhan fished out a second scroll, spread it on the small, ornate table and pointed to the lower right-hand corner.





"This will be a structure that will make your name famous throughout the Islamic world; Sunni and Shi'a alike. I call it al-malviyya (&#1575;&#1604;&#1605;&#1604;&#1608;&#1610;&#1577;), it will measure over 216 hand spans in height and will be seen for miles around. It will take some time to construct, but when it is finished, your name will forever be linked to a true Wonder of Islam! (though hopefully mine more than yours)", he added in his thoughts.

al-Rashid leaned forward. A smile spread across his face, to al-Uhan's immense relief.

The caliph stood up.

"Build this for me, al-Uhan, and you and your descendants will know riches beyond your dreams. Allah, exalted is he, will show favour upon your entry to Paradise!"


1036 AD




The dust blew across the desert, whipping up battle cloaks and stirring the sand around the armies feet. The small Fatimid town was just discernible in the distance, the border to the upstart's territory a bare stone's throw away. Fatimid spearmen were sure to see them as well as they could. Harun al-Rashid, the caliph who had reigned the empire for the last three decades, was an old man now, but still as fierce as in his youth. He drew his sword, which made a rasping sound full of menace. 7000 javelinmen and spearmen, raised in all parts of the empire, watched as the desert sun glinted off the blade, the caliph raising his sword arm.

"Forward!"

The Fatimid defenders knew they were coming, the envoys bringing the formal declaration of war just weeks before, but were wholly unprepared for the storm that hit them. Thousands of iron-tipped javelins rained on their position, scores were pierced to death by the first hail of wood and metal. The ululating cries of the charging Arabs froze the blood in their veins, and the might of the Abbasid lion struck home. The defenders offered little resistance and were overrun within the first hours. The blades rose and fell and rose and fell, their blood-thirst only quenched when the crimson sun finally set, bringing with it the promise of a cold night.

[...]

1038 AD


The Fatimid townsmen cowered fearfully in the sand. Their final resistance against foreign occupation had been crushed. In the town square the bodies of the resistance leaders were being burnt, headless, by the fierce sun and the slaves already marched off toward Baghdad. Now the townspeople lay kneeling to await their fate.

al-Rashid, on his favourite Basra steed, cast a cold stare on the lines of the defeated. Several heartbeats nothing happened. Then the lord of Baghdad spoke in a thunderous voice.

"This town is now part of the Abbasid empire. You are subjects of the exalted Caliph of Baghdad. Know this: Should any of you dare to contest your rightful ruler, you will suffer a fate far worse than the carrion lying in the dust before you!!"

At these words many townswomen started crying in a mixture of fear and relief: They were to live and their homes spared.

The Fatimid insult was no more.


 

Golden Fleece

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Our team recently doscovered a manuscript detailing an important event in the caliphates' history. Abbasid coutiers had refined the art of communication and diplomacy, and sent emmisaries to a powerful, largely independent region in the Persian heartland. Following months of negotiation, the tribesmen of Daylam entered Abbasid military service, instigating a period of military dominance.


1042 AD, The Governor's Palace, Samarra


The Governor of Samarra had spent a long time in discussion with the royal emmisary. al-Mina had never liked al-Jahal, but admitted to the other man's shrewdness. al-Jahal was also an experienced warrior, very learned in Islamic Civil Law and a superb strategist, said to be next in line for the position of Grand Vizier. Most importantly, the new caliph, nephew of the great al-Rashid, trusted his advice.

Besides, in this particular point he fully agreed with him. The demonstration on the training ground had impressed both men.

"Show him in."



A short, stocky tribesman, his face lined by sun and wind, entered the comfortable diplomacy room.

al-Mina spoke.

"Faroud, we have considered your generous offer; the prowess of your men has been most illuminating. You are skilled in combat and wise beyond your years. By the will of Allah, most exalted is he, will the Caliphate of Baghdad be most honoured to welcome Daylam as our ally. As we have agreed, your men will be integrated into the Abbasid army and fully paid in gold.

Our alliance comes at a most propitious time as we are at this moment at war with the desert people of the west. Together with your warriors and our javelinmen and spearmen, nothing can stand in the path of victory.

Let us share this meal of milk and dates as a symbol of our friendship and join us in prayer. "

Faroud bowed low.

"My tribesmen are at your command. We gladly submit to the exalted Caliph, Lord of Makkah and Medina, and Keeper of the Spiral Minaret. As we agreed, we will also train young warriors in the ways of our combat, so that your - our! - enemies, the Fatimid, will be crushed beneath Abbasid soles."

"In the name of Allah, whose prophet is Muhammad: So be it."

al-Mina beckoned the slaves forward with the silver tray bearing three shallow bowls filled with warm milk and another bowl laden with sweet dates.





Helping himself to some of the dried fruit, al-Jahal smiled inwardly. He knew of course that his daily prayers had allowed this fortunate event to come to pass, but he was not such a pious fool as to be unaware of his own powers. The alliance had been entirely his doing, he had worked for more than a year towards this hour. This, if nothing else, would ensure him the position of Grand Vizier. The caliph was yet young and malleable. It might be that al-Qa'im was the head of state in name, but he would make sure that he, al-Jahal, held the true reins of power in his own hands. And with the help of the powerful tribesmen, the Fatimid's days were surely numbered.


 

Golden Fleece

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The next part of the manuscript is a detailed account of the final part of the first Abbasid-Fatimid War, bringing the holy sites under the control of the Caliphate. Unfortunately, our team will be unable to publish these tonight as there have been several delays on the way, while the work on the last updates took longer than expected. Stay tuned for more exciting records!

Next:

Part V: Conquest of the Holy Land
 

DJ Bonebraker

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Interesting story... Looks like the Abbasids may end up replacing the Ottomans as the premier Islamic power in this timeline.
 

Golden Fleece

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1052 AD, Baghdad

Caliph al-Qa'im (&#1575;&#1604;&#1602;&#1575;&#1574;&#1605;. .) kneeled in submission on the bright new, sand-coloured floor. Behind him his entire court was doing the same, each in his own private prayer to Allah. With God's aid, the architects and mason's directed by the family of the recently deceased al-Uhan had finally completed the holy structure, that would cement the capital as the foremost pilgrimage destination north of the Arabian Peninsula.

The Spiral Minaret had been completed.






1054 AD, not far from Jerusalem

The tent-flap was pushed, or rather, torn open and a boastful Hussein al-Masba charged inside. His lieutenant al-Jamal had already started cringing.

"THOSE DOGS FROM CAIRO ARE PROBABLY ALREADY SHI-"

"General, please!", al-Sumeila, the Grand Vizier's aide cut in, "this may be the largest tent in the camp but we're not deaf. No need to tell the Armenians of our imminent attack."

Eyes flashing, al-Masba puffed his chest.

"I DO NOT NEED YOU TO TELL ME-"

"My lord, what have the scouts reported?", al-Jamal cut in quickly. He knew his general to be an able but slightly irreverent and irascible man, respected by the men for his fighting prowess, but often leaving them scratching their heads at his antics. His new affectation of insisting to wear exclusively bright yellow robes, slashed with eye-blinding pink, did noting to help.

"HA!!!!", the general started, then realised that everyone looked severely alarmed once again and softened his tone somewhat.

"The Fatimids have left hardly any defences; if I'm saying they have 2,000 spearmen, I'd be more generous than... than..." Obviously, the volume of generosity needed to make such a presumptious statement defeated al-Masba.

"Anyway, our javelinmen will wipe THEIR AR-"

al-Sumeila pointed at the map, interrupting the imminent tirade.

"Show me their position on the city walls."





Deflating again, the great warrior made a sweeping motion over the map, knocking two goblets filled with warm goat's milk off the table. The guard narrowly missed a deluge. "The dribbling sons of a Samarran whore..." - al-Jamal cringed again - "have posted the rabble of old women they like to call an army around the Eastern part of the wall. Which is right where we'll attack. We'll hammer straight at them!!"

al-Jamal had to admit that al-Masba's tactics had always lacked a certain finesse but had proven immensely successful. Just four years ago he had been responsible for the defence of Mosul. Back then, hundreds workers had been busy building a connecting road from the city into the heartland of the Holy Land, when the Fatimids had launched their first serious counterattack. 5,000 archers had invaded and threatened the capture of the Abbasid workers - whose spearmen defenders were outnumbered five-to-one - and possibly of Mosul itself.

al-Masba had led another 1,000 spearmen south, leaving 3,000 javelinmen in the city; troops that were weak in defence. Furthermore, Mosul had not been walled yet and was therefore left vulnerable. The resulting battle in the forests south had been fierce, but al-Masba' spirited leadership left the Abbasids victorious and the first Fatimid wave routed. Yet 2,600 Fatimid archers and only 1,000 Abbasid spearmen to defend their position still remained.

And then the Eygptian army split.





It was a sign from Allah himself. The Northern part of the Fatimid army, exhausted from their ascent into the mountains, proved an easy target. The javelinmen's commander in Mosul realised the opportunity and, leading a massive sortie, totally destroyed the archers, himself suffering the loss of 1,000 javelinmen. Meanwhile, javelinmen reinforcements hurrying south for al-Masba chased and annihilated the rest of the Fatimid invaders.

This feat, amongst many others, gained al-Masba the leadership of the main army, the very same that had captured Najaf under the great al-Rashid, some ten years before.

"WE CRUSH THEM TOMORROW!!!"

al-Jamal was ripped violently out of his reverie. He had little time to recover.

"al-Jamal, go tell the men that we will attack at dawn!!!"

"THE HOLY LAND", the man in bright yellow-pink robes roared, while the rest clapped their hands over their ears, "WILL BE OURS BEFORE BREAKFAST!!!

When the Abbasid lion would roar again.





 
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