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Turn 12 News

News of the 155th Day of the Shattering

The Centre Cannot Hold

The city is restless as more stories flood in of national disasters, large and small. The latest in a series of incidents was a large sandstorm which swept through the outskirts of town while refugees are concentrated, causing much property damage and a few deaths. There have also been an earthquake and a number of insomniac souls have reported seeing more stars fall from the skies, to the consternation of many frustrated astrologers.

Nadir's Shiny Weapon

'Did you hear about the duel?'

'Only that Killian brought out some huge great sorcerous iron golem to fight Nadir and teach him a lesson, and that Nadir lost most of his left arm before he managed to defeat it! But how did he do it?'

'I heard that the blood from Nadir's arm spilt on his sword, and that the instant it did so his sword turned to obsidian and chopped the golem in half with one blow!'

'Obsidian? Surely that's a sign of Shaliq's favour!'

'Hah! Shaliq, may Her blessed gaze return to us all, cursed people with obsidian. Djinn won't go near it. If you ask me, that sword is more likely a sign that Nadir's in league with the Adversary!'

'So where is he now?'

'Well, after the duel he got flown off to the Alchemist's Guild to be healed, and from there he legged it for fear of what Emira Hiroko would do to him. The Hadar have got agents out looking for him as we speak.'

Nadir to Be Arrested

'Thank Shaliq our Emira has gotten her head together! Not only has that Erasmus bloke been... well, if you listen to the rumours, he's currently being 'entertained' in a room that locks from the outside only, if you get my drift... but she's finally gotten enough sense to put paid to that Nadir fellow. Apparently, he was the bastard behind the assassination of our generals! Word is if any of the Hadar find him, he's to be arrested on sight!'

First Son of the Wolf Takes Throne, Demands Goldsmiths

The reign of Omar the Accursed has been ended, but there is little rejoicing in the streets. The people who bayed for his blood are no doubt glad he has been driven off, but they fear his replacement almost as greatly. The First Son of the Wolf, overlord of the barbarians of the North, has claimed the throne of Shalazar. His warriors walk proudly through the palace and the streets, and none dare bar their way. They seek for skilled goldsmiths, and it is said that they will forge a crown from the metal of the throne. The wizened witch known only as Old Mother sits at his side when he sits upon the throne, and demands and gets to sit in all the councils of the rulers of the Caliphate.

Rasheeda On Our Side

'Shaliq will come back, I'm sure of it!'

'What makes you so confident?'

'Haven't you heard? People praying at the Temple have been granted visions of Rasheeda, kneeling at Shaliq's feet up in heaven and praying for Her forgiveness just like she did before!'

'Hmph, won't help us much if all the barbarians, Jadeites and Djinn kill us in the meantime.'

'Well, some say even the Djinn are afraid of going too far, for fear that Shaliq may return and punish them for their transgressions. That's why they won't act against Omar.'

'That's what they say. Maybe they're afraid of him too, hmmm?'

Jerezad withdrawl from Shalazar Defense

[Conversation between two Hadar soldiers in the Calipha's army]

'What? The Jerezad have pulled back? What madness is this, they'll leave us defenseless!'

'Well, you can hardly blame them. The Bookwala went and stole one of their cities when Sahmid lent men to defend the Calipha, and it's not like the people of Shalazar have rallied to give Huzuz back to them. I mean, it's all well and good hearing how we all ought to hang together, but when it comes down to it the Emira still fight each other like cats in a sack.'

'Yeah, what should I expect? Still, it's going to be that much tougher if every Jerezad army is falling back to defend just their cities. I wouldn't doubt that they're doing it to keep the bulk of their forces intact after we've all been slaughtered.'

He's back!

'Have you heard? Jolem al Kazak, you know, the one who was always making those awful jokes, and ran the Calipha's vineyards? Well, he's come back from a long period of absence, I wonder where he went? Anyway, he's back, and now I hear he's been appointed bodyguard to the Protector of the City, Emira Kokoro! Nice welcome home isn't it? Mind you, brave honest men like that are just the kind of people we need around here these days. All the luck in Shalazar to him!'

Merilla For Calipha!

'Merilla for Calipha!'

'Who?'

'Merilla of the Tower! Merilla of Abib! Merilla for Calipha!'

'Whoa, slow down a minute! Who is this Merilla person, anyway? Which Family does she belong to?'

'She's not from any Family, she's of the pure untainted line of Rasheeda and Omar, from the times before Omar's seduction by the Adversary. She is beautiful beyond all other women, and the chosen champion of the Djinn of Air! She'll make the perfect Calipha!'

'Hold on, if she's so old, what's been keeping her alive all this time?'

'The will of Shaliq, may Her sacred eye turn to us once more, preserved her in the depths of the Grey Tower of Abib, beyond aging or death, so that she may emerge to become Shalazar's Calipha in our time of need! That time is now! Merilla for Calipha!'

'Well, she sounds a darn sight better than having some smelly, uncouth barbarian in stinking furs sitting on the Throne. I'm with you. Merilla for Calipha!'

'...She introduced the king of the Water-djinn to the Third Way, as well! Well, thank the blessed mother it gave up the pious life once it got a better challlenge! I've heard things, you know... djinn who kill themselves come back as demons, and if the Lord of Water dies then all the water in the world will be destroyed!'

'And she let that plot brew against her, then tried to shift the blame when things got messy. She's just too young to be an Emira. Maybe she'd have been a better ruler in a gentler time, when people could afford to be soft. These days, we need a strong hand to guide us, and I'm sad to say she isn't it.'

Peace with the Pygmies!

'Oh by Shaliq! I wish they'd make up their minds! First we have to slaughter every last one of the little buggers, as we're told by the former Calipha, Shaliq rest her soul, and then by a good chunk of the Priestesses, and now, along comes an Emira and says we're not to kill 'em anymore, I mean, what's the problem here? Aren't they still souless heathens, or have I missed something?'

'Nah, nah, you see the thing is that they had to down into Punt to bring back them kiddies wot decided to go kill all the pymies on a holy quest. Of course, they were just kids, so what chance did they think they had? But, anyway, the pygmies had them surrounded, and thanks to that Crimson Jackals guy, Sudaq and Emira Kokoro and her priestesses, they negotiated a deal with the pygmies that in return for no more killing or persecution of pygmies, they could go in and get the children out of there. Sounds alright to me. I mean, I know several people have ordered them all extinct and all, and they're still declared souless, but at least it seems they're being reasonable. I mean, no-one enjoys killing children do they?'

Kayam-O-gram, Say it with Entrails!

[On the roof of one of the Order of Khal'Nayaks headquarters in Shalazar, the dawn light brings a grim discovery. There is a young girl, barely a teenager, dead and disembowelled. The name and symbol of Shaliq carved into her forehead and bared chaest, her intestines wrenched from her open belly amd smeared liberally over the roof. In this visceral display, the words 'Al Kayam' are spelled with large chunks of flesh and gore. The Order set cleaners to the roof as soon as their top inverstigators had examined the scene for any clues or signs of what could've caused such an event. The word on the street is that nothing was found, and the Order are as baffled as anyone as to the cause of this death. Rumours about Demons and necromancers becoming more brave and brazen are filling the populace with increasing terror as each day goes by, rumours the Order, and the Protector of the City are trying to quell and refute as quickly as possible. Beggars have begun to fear the night and search for shelter wherever they can; but the poor of Shalazar are many, and there's just not enough places to hide them all...]

'I can feel it in me water...'

'Ugh! (Spits) This is disgusting! What on Shalazar's happened to the water?

'I don't know, we got it straight from the aquaduct... I didn't notice anything wrong with mine...'

'Ugh, it's revolting, it tastes like metal and rotted meat! Has anyone been dumping garbage in the aquaduct?'

'Don't think so... but maybe that's what's been going around recently, you know, that stomach bug everyone's been having. First Fira got it down the road, and Hiret wasn't feeling too well. Maybe it's doing the rounds?'

'Oh... oh Shaliq! I don't feel so good... I think someone... better... clean out the water system... ack... there's obviously something not ri-... (stops to vomit copiously)'

'Oh dear! Oh, no honey, not on the rug! Hurry, Manek, go get a cloth, your father's not very well!'

'How well done would you like your city, madam?'

[One day, just as dusk is setting in, a rain of fire falls onto the city of Marinia. There is a veritable army of small fire djinn leaping about on the roof-tops and running in and out of houses, setting everything they touch alight. People who flee their homes are soon set alight and people-shaped fireballs run screaming through the streets causing fires and panic as they go. The men are grabbed by djinn and held to them in a lethal embrace as their flesh quickly melts away. Babies are used as burning balls in games of catch, and displays of talented juggling. Pets are raced with their tails each sporting a different colour flame, then the losers, and indeed the winners, are roasted. The women are caught in great whirling fire-storm tornadoes and drop to the ground as charred skeletons.

It was feared that the Emira of the Hadar, Hiroko, who was visiting the city at the time would be caught up in the massacre. Her safe arrival back in Shalazar a few days later was a welcome sight to many. However, recent news has arrived reporting that the fate of Marinia seems to have also befallen the city of Londameldarol in the South. It is sadly ironic that such dark times should be so well illuminated...

Hmmm, by now they must all have very flat heads...

[Another mysterious tragedy has befallen the troubled family of the Hadar. First Husband Erasmus, who was heard to have recently talked of male rule in the family, has been taken ill into the care of his wife, Emira Hiroko. He is said to be being well cared for on the Island retreat of Tobrukh, and no more such imflammatory remarks have been made by him in public since.

Also, several of the Hadar chancellors have gone missing. They vanish in the night and are never heard of or seen again. Many live in fear that their companions departure was linked to the recent assassinations of the Hadar generals by the assassin and outlaw Nadir. All guard watches in the Hadar quarter have been increased three-fold.

Plagues of Madness or Visions of Rasheeda

[In the halls of many tongues, an ever greater number of prophets and mystics have gathered over the last month. While the tales they tell are ever different, they have similar themes.]

'And the cities shall run with blood, and the deserts shall rise up and swallow us whole.'

'Are you a fool, man? No desert shall rise up! We shall all die, and our babes shall be born soulless, and the cities shall become naught but dust, for without Shaliq no force can create upon this earth.'

'I have had visions of Rasheeda, first of women, blessed mother of all, and she has told me that man may yet be saved, and that Shaliq, while she is angry, may be calmed in her anger. We must turn her face back to the world.'

'Indeed, indeed, we may do so! We must paint this city with the blood of a million pygmies, and break the backs of the Jadites until they bow before the might of our goddess...'

Mystery Grand Viziers

[In Tobrukh]

'That--that can't be!'

'What?'

'I saw him there, the Grand Vizier! He walks free!'

'You fool, the Kal'Nayak have him--everyone knows that!'

'Well, how many other people wear the Royal Turban? Look!!!'

'You're right. Follow him!'

[The two follow their prey around a corner into the alley, where they find nothing but empty air. Scenes like this are repeated throughout Shalazar and its cities.]

Jadite Army near Abib destroyed

The threat of the Jadite's second front has been ended. The army that launched an assault on Abib was first driven off by a force of horse barbarians, then shattered by warring tribes of Djinn. Now the armies of Ghazi Al'Tair, assisted by the forces of the Crimson Jackals and several groups of bandits, have swept down upon their remenants and driven them back into the lands of the Horse Barbarians. Many were slain, and the rest are without supplies.

Council of the Defense of Shalazar

'We're saved! OK, I was worried when I heard that the Kal'Nayak had grabbed the Grand Vizier on charges of demonology--I mean, really, he was doing such a good job. But the Protector has called together some of the best and wisest folks who've been helping out the city, and they're going to sort it out! She's got Sahmid and Arkan at the same table now, she's put several of the generals with armies in the city alongside them... I've been told Sahmid's revived the ferret-post system, putting some of the best ferrets in the city at the service of communications between these leaders. Everyone from the Kal'Nayak downwards is pitching in. We're saved!

Protector of the Caliphate Calls for Unity

[Kokoro al Yildun, Protector of the City of Shalazar]

'People of Shalazar! Stand fast and together, for surely it is only through sisterhood and faith that we shall survive these troubled times. Was it not the fight of sister against sister, using pygmies as pawns in our own internal struggles, that brought this catastrophe forth? So surely it shall be togetherness and piety that...'

[The speech continues in this manner for quite some time]

Bookwala Emira Assassinated

Emira Bahima al Bookwala, young and impetuous in war, has fallen down the stairs of the tallest tower in her palace, breaking several of her bones and, incidentally, her neck. Her death has left the Bookwala in disarray, although some mutter that with her recent military actions the family might be better off without her.

I love the smell of Jadite in the morning. It smells like victory

A sobbing girl was led out between two of the Order of Kal'Nayak and strapped to the stake before faggots were piled at her feet and the whole thing set alight. Herscreams echoed through the temple for over an hour before the ex-Jadie Ambassador was finally silenced for good. Al Kayam and Jhetz al Gharisme looked on with pride as the sentence of death for necromancy and demon-worship was carried out.

Hari-kari Hally and her boyfriend, Kamakazi Ken!

Hey, what was that? It looked like a little mechanical woman marching towards the temple!'

'Haven't you heard? It's the answer to the Third Way. Don't want to kill yourself? Don't worry--you can get a clockwork doll to do it for you.'

'That sounds pretty f----- up to me!'

'Yeah, well, it wasn't my idea. Then again, it's not like committing mass-sin to get the Almighty to return ever made much sense in the first place!'

The Fall of Amarat

The City of Amarat has been preparing for invasion for many months, and now it has come. The armies of the Jadites, 300,000 strong, marched down the river accompanied by a flotilla of attack boats. They were met by a force of undead rising from the sand, but their priests went forward and the dead men turned to march at their side. They came upon the city like a plague of locusts, and despite the rockets of the alchemists and the stout hearts of the men of Shalazar they burst the walls and took the city. Their fleet however was shattered by the many traps set in the bottom of the river, and many Shalazarian warriors were able to escape in their own boats. Over 100'000 of the foe fell in the assault, but nearly 50,000 of the faithful fell as well. Many of those who escaped praised the foresite of their steward, and proclaimed that had he been there they could have one the day.

News from the East

Rumours escaping from the encampments of the Jadite troops tell of troubles back in their homelands. None of the common soldiers know what has occurred, but the Servants of Those Who Have Gone Before are spending much time at their rites, and the generals gather often in secret council.

influence chart

Standing is a measure of the relative strength of the Great Families of Shalazar. The Standing of a great family determines how useful it is to spend points of Influence on your actions each turn.

The Jerezad may be accused of betrayal for pulling their armies away from those of the Calipha, though with the crafty Bookwala tearing at their flank, who can blame them? Whatever the case, it has left them militarily more prepared than some other houses.

The Bookwala have lost Londameldarol and Amarat, which has stolen much of their influence from them.

The Yildun continue from strength to strength, and their Emira is now the official protector of the Caliphate.

The Hadar have seen Marinia burnt before their eyes, and remain riven by internal strife. Some speak dark whispers of the true power within this ancient house being a band of assassins....

The Fesk continue to show signs of wealth and prosperity, and give alms and succor to the poor in Shalazar and beyond.