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Turn 13 News

News of the 187th Day of the Shattering

'He's Back!'

[Two random, and rather annoyed, Jerezad]

'I thought that usurping Protectress would just run roughshod over us and our perogatives--I mean, who does she think she is, arresting one who speaks for an Emira?'

'Well, I'd imagine she thinks she's Emira al Yildun. And Protectress.'

'Just so! Oh well--it doesn't matter. I've heard that some of the family were so up in arms, they've gone and consulted with Alaz al Zedwirshow al Jerezad. He used to be Elder Lakala's assistant before he retired. They think he'll get his speeches listed in not one, but two entries in the Theopneustic Tomes when he dies--and scuttlebutt is that he's petitioning the Priestesses on the Regent's behalf.'

'Which ones?'

'Well, that's the other thing I heard...'

Dragons To The Left Of Me, Dragons To The Right - Here I Am, Stuck In The Middle With Djinn!

'So what's going on with all the dragons anyway?'

'Well, it depends which dragons you mean. There's five different types of dragon, you see.'

'Five?! I knew there were northern ones and eastern ones, but what are the other three kinds like?'

'Well, there's the northern dragons, who are a vicious violent lot, especially now they're in possession of the Heart. Then there's the eastern dragons, who are a bit more civilised but influenced by the dæmon infested infidels of the Jade Empire. The southern dragons live down in the jungles of Punt, and are beautiful friendly creatures covered in feathers who are vegetarian and fairly peaceful. The dragons who live on the Western Isles - at least, on those Western Isles which haven't fallen off the crumbling edge of the world yet - are basically northern dragons who've grown up and got a bit wiser and a bit less aggressive. Finally there are the sea dragons, who live underwater in what's left of the Western Oceans and pretty much keep themselves to themselves.'

'And isn't there some kind of war going on between them all?'

'Only between the northern and eastern ones, the rest are all keeping well out of it and not getting involved.'

'But I heard the northern dragons attacked and killed a whole bunch of eastern dragons, aren't the rest worried they might be next?'

'Apparently not. Besides, the northern dragons may still have the Heart, but the King of the eastern dragons has now been freed from his captivity and is determined to protect his people, so I guess things are going to be a bit more equal from now on...'

Learned Astrologer Macolypse the Elder Eats His Hat

The already frustrated ranks of Shalazarian astrologers were struck low by yet another unexpected event early in the month, when the moon disappeared from the sky for seven days and seven nights. At a symposium conducted at the Visible College, a number of astrologers debated for hours the relevance of the several stars which have continued to fall, and what can be presaged by the now 'fixed' position of these celestial bodies. It was at a heated point during this debate, held in the College gardens, that one participant looked up and exclaimed, 'Oh, Shaliq, have mercy--now what are we going to do with that?' It is a mark of how far things have changed in the past months that it took a few minutes for some scholars took quite a moment to realise what their colleague wasn't pointing at.

The symposium was further thrown into disarray when astrologer Macolypse the Elder was reminded by his long-time rival, Simeon al Fesk, of his oath, 'Should the moon ever be proven false in its course, I'll eat my hat.' Unfortunately for the learned sage, he had indeed worn formal headgear on this occasion, and eating utensils were duly procured...

The Dark Powers Of Adsiz Dragonsbane

'I can't believe it! One of the Bookwala's greatest scholars and generals a filthy necromancer!'

'Really? I was rather suspicious about the way that army of undead kept on popping up out of nowhere to defend Amarat, but what proof do you have?'

'Some bellicose dragon from the north turned up outside the Temple shortly after the Grand Vizier's trial, started yelling and throwing people across the courtyard, and thanked Adsiz for killing the Bone Dragon and returning its heart! Said something about Adsiz's 'dark powers', and him standing there not denying a word of it!'

'Well, can we trust a dragon? I'm sure the Order of Kal'Nayak are looking into it, aren't they?'

'I don't think they even heard any of it. Too busy sticking things up eunuchs' backsides and dragging people away to the dungeons for being seduced by a priestess, they were.'

'So who exactly is in charge of justice at the moment?'

'Isn't it the Protector?'

'You'd think so, wouldn't you, but then that Elder from the Council did hand down an on-the-spot judgement for Saleem al Fesk.'

'Which Council?'

'The one which thinks it still deserves to be a Council. The We-Are-Not-Worthies opposed the judgement, of course, and I can't imagine what the Third Way makes of it all.'

'So, hang on, there's at least three separate outfits, the Protector and Killian, the Not-Worthies, and the Cheer-Up-Laddies, all of whom could make conflicting judgements on criminal cases?'

'Yep. It's a recipie for disaster if ever I've seen one.'

Like a bridge over troubled corpses

[The intrepid and pious soldier of the Order of Khal'Nayak, Jehzt Al Garisme, is seen leading a garrison of Khal'Nayak guards through and out of Shalazar along the riverside, postig guards to keep an eye out for 'contaminants' in the water supply. They are soon rewarded as tens of thousands of bodies begin flowing into Shalazar, victims of the war at Amarat. While the Order spend hours diligently removing each corpse from the city's water source and its many tributaries and aquaducts in the city, the rumour is that these bodies were not quite the ones the Order were hoping to find...]

Nadir A Dæmon!

'Did you hear about Nadir?'

'What about him? What's he done now?'

'It's not what he's done, it's what he is!'

'Don't you mean who he is?'

'That's the thing. After what happened in his duel against the golem, the Guild of Alchemists took a sample of his blood to analyse, and apparently he's not even human! Some kind of tainted, dæmonic creature that just looks like a person!'

'Well, that does explain a few things. To think he was so close to the last Calipha!'

'Perhaps a little too close. Ghazban was killed before the names of his accomplices could be wrested from him, but Nadir certainly had the opportunity. All those Hadar generals too, from what I hear Nadir had the skills to off them and no love for the Family. Who knows how many other evils he has wreaked?'

'Let's go save their scaly souls!'

[Early one morning, a caravan, bound for Punt loads up with supplies and a large group of priestesses. They are the mission that is travelling to Punt to convert the snake-people to the Shaliquar faith. The loss of all carpets in Shalazar means that the mission will take a lot longer than previously thought, but it is a pious mission, and so one that, in many people's minds, in these troubled times simply cannot wait.]

'Fly, my pretties! Fly!'

'Oh, by Shaliq! Oh, Shaliq, no! I'm going mad! I must be going mad! Tell me I didn't just see a load of Khal'Nayak soldiers flying on broomsticks!'

'No... no... I'm afraid you did see that... and I'm afraid I think I did too... pass the wine.'

Kayam framed!

[Conversation over heard between two members of the Order of Khal'Nayak in a souk]

'Here, have you heard about Captain al Kayam? Apparently there was a load of very strange stuff found in his quarters! There were some texts on demon worship, some vials of blood, a jar of eyeballs, and even an actual skeleton in his closet! It had the name of Shaliq scratched into its bones, and there were graven idols hidden in his desk!'

'No! Captain Kayam! I'd never have thought it!'

'Well, apparently it wasn't Kayam at all. The top brass have said he was framed! Most probably by that necromancer that stole his body a while back!'

'Hang on, wasn't that guy burnt?!'

'Yeah, but it was probably one of his mad minions or something... hey, what's that guy looking at over there?! Oi! You! Mind your own bleedin' beeswax!'

The Third Way weakened by the power of youth!

[Heard outside one of the Third Way orphanages]

'Oh! Oh, by Shaliq! How could we have been so blind and selfish? Melinka was so right, these young innocents need us! They need our guidance! How can we abandon them, especially now when they need us most! Oh we have been such fools! If only all our sisters could see the errors of their ways. Well, come, sister, let us go now and distribute alms to the poor!'

Blight in the North

[Reports arrive from northern cities that all is not well in the north. Crops in the southern-most parts of the barbarian lands are failing, the very lands seem diseased and rotting. Animals have withered and starved, even in previously lush farmlands. Dark, looming clouds and freak lightning storms have occurred far on the horizon. People fear to travel north, and are terrified the blight shall move south to affect their lands.]

Merilla for Calipha!

'Oh, isn't that Merilla girl just darling! She's so nice, and so innocent. Does cry an awful lot though...'

'Well, what can you expect, her only beloved killed himself with her hand! That's enough to put a crimp on anyone's day. But have you heard? They say that such an innocent and pure girl, and one from before the first time Shaliq turned her eyes from the world nonetheless, that she should be the next Calipha!'

'Oh yes! Oh, that's a good idea! Yes, she must be the purest woman alive. The woman closest in her heart and soul to Shaliq should definitely be the next Calipha. Maybe the world can be set to rights after all!'

Gifts from God

[All over Shalazar, in all areas of the city, small gifts of food and flowers have been appearing in public squares and open-air gathering places. The faithful cry out with joy that the entreatings of Rasheeda to Shaliq must be working, and Shaliq is showing mercy on the city in its time of need. The cynical point out to the jovial celebrators that it is obvious Shaliq has not yet turned her eyes back to the world as prayer is still an empty exercise, and these 'gifts' are more likely just the actions of some wealthy well-wisher.]

Icons of Shaliq

[A baker's wife, to her husband]

'What's that sound?'

'Oh, that's just the workmen'

'Workmen?'

'Yeah, I don't know who they are, but they keep wandering around cities putting up icons to Shaliq in the night. I think they expect people to think these things came from Shaliq or something--and we won't spread any tales of it, will we? But let's face it, those of us what wake up early in the morning notice these things...'

Buzak rememberance disturbed by earthquake

[A rememberance ceremony held for Buzak, the Warrior-Champion of the Djinn of Earth, is halted in mid-observance when the earth begins to rumble in anger. It is said that the Padisha himself, enraged at being betrayed by his champion, will not let him be spoken of in honour...]

Be Pious, says Hadar

'Well, wasn't that a stirring speech Emira Hiroko just gave! Yes, quite uplifting! A call for unity in this time of disparity, definitely what we need. Emira Kokoro gave a very good speech last month, didn't she, and much along the same lines. They're a good pair, those two. The houses, and indeed the Caliphate are in good hands with those two. They're young, but at least their hearts are in the right place.'

Sahmid's Rapid Reaction Force

''Elp! 'Elp! Me 'ouse is on fire! Them bleedin' djinn causing fires and earthquakes and what not! 'Elp! 'Elp!'

'Don't worry ma'am, we're here now! We'll have that house fire put out in just one moment!'

'Oh thank you, thank you, you've saved me 'ouse! Oh, thank you. But who are you people?'

'Why, we're the new Shalazar Safety and Support Service, the S.S.S.S! Generously provided by Sahmid al Jerezad to the city, in the name of Kokoro the Protector of the city! Have a nice day ma'am!'

'Oh, my heroes!'(Swoon)

Saleem al Fesk rebukes the Council...gently

[Exerpts from Saleem al Fesk's impassioned speech before three members of the Council of Elders outside the Temple]

'Pray listen to me, oh Elders: I would not presume to teach so august a body, but it is sometimes from the lowliest beetle that great wisdom of the world may come...'

'I have come not to speak heresy, nor am I tainted by demon nor in possession of dark magics. The only thing I have in my defense is love--love for Fatima, yes, but also a love for Shalazar and a love for Shaliq....'

'I long to submit to the will of the Council of Elders. But the Tomes, the first words of the first Calipha, every fibre or our heritage and tradition demands that the Council of Elders numbers seven, and that seven shall sit in judgement. By what authority, then, may a council of less than that number sit to judge, and to judge a man of noble birth, no less?'

'...it was this division amoung you that led to the Third Way--a group so blinded by the absence of Shaliq that they had forgotten her words. Shaliq has not asked of us blood sacrifice, and she has forbidden suicide herself. Had the Council not divided itself in dissent, had you not left us to pursue our spiritual duties while leaderless, perhaps the Third Way would not have arisen. Or perhaps I might have had guides of suitable stature such that I would not have chosen the solution for which I now stand before you...'

[One half of the Council considers these words carefully. Saleem is released pending the reformation of the Council, but is told that he will be brought before them again when seven may sit in judgement.]

Invisible College making threats

'Hear us, oh Priestesses of Shalazar, the Invisible College hereby declares that unless Saleem al Fesk is turned over to the Invisible College for judgement, the College will remove its support from Shalazar, and close its doors once more. Give us your answer, oh priestesses, the College demands your decision!'

Rocky-road for Yildun cities!

[After the duel of the champions of the Grey Tower, it is noted that strange environmental phenomena have been occurring with alarming frequency. After a week, there are several large tremors reverberating around Shalazar. Later the cause of this is discovered. Every known mountain in Shalazar has lost its integrity to the extent that they are not so much large structures of rock, but are now large piles of rubble. Consequently there has been some damage to the Yildun cities of Asalah and Rashad, built in the foothills of the Eastern mountain range, as falling rocks and rubble have near razed some parts of their outer walls to the ground. Repairs have begun to restore the defences.]

Council Meeting Unknown to the Council, Ends in Visionary Quest

'I don't understand--how many members of the Council of Seven are there?'

'Well, there'll be seven eventually....'

'But right now?'

'Well, none, technically.'

'OK, I'm panicking now.'

'Nope, it's not that bad--look, Melinka brought them all into this big audience chamber, right? And she got the proud half in on the right, and the humble half in on the left, and being that they were all blind, you see, she played this loud funereal-type music to keep 'em disoriented. And then she started them singing, and it wasn't until halfway through the hymn they realised they were all in the room together. And then I was told they had visions, and prophecies, and feinting spells, and such like that, and finally they all decided that none of them were really worthy, wholly, and that they'd go out an' find a new Council.'

'Erm... keep counting. That's still only six.'

'Melinka's supposed to choose the last one...'

Regent of the Jerezad Proclaimed Innocent on the Evidence

[Several rumours surround the 'trial' of Regent Qasim al Jerezad, all confused. In older days, such political niceties would have been smoothed over by the consummate political acumen of the Grand Vizier and his eunuchs, but the Palace is sorely tested, its institutional memory having been executed almost to a man.

The 'trial' finally occurs before the reformed Council of Six, and it is not, at that, a trial. Alaz al Zedwishrow, a temple eunuch of great reknown, speaks to the Council, and what his words are are not recorded, only rumoured. To some of the Council he is said to speak of the travesty of a 'Protector', a position not sanctioned by Shaliq, claiming authority upon the Temple grounds; to the leaders of the Yildun and the Kal'Nayak he points out that if the Protector, also Emira Yildun, would put absolute faith in a truth serum, then she must believe that Ghazban al Bookwala did not slay the Calipha, and that the Burning Sword have slain themselves for naught. This and other arguments are brought to bear, and finally the Council lets it be known that, at present, they will not hear these accusations without greater evidence.]

Qassim Kidnapping Attempt

[Two random, and rather annoyed, Jerezad]

'So what happened after the "Protector" lost her case?

'Well, barely had the Regent stepped out of the Temple, only halfway back to his palace, and six men stepped out of the shadows and tried to kidnap him. They were dressed like members of the Order of Kal'Nayak, but it must have been a clever ruse of the Bookwala--if they can't have him "legally" they'll just settle on knifing him in an alleyway, won't they? You might think thing's'd change under Emira Ashira, but you just can't trust those bas----s.'

Council of Elders Reforged

'Rejoice! Rejoice! The Counsel is reformed, the counsel is reformed! Glory be to Shaliq! They will lead us back into the graces of our beloved Shaliq! Glory be to Miyha al Yildun, Litala al Yildun, Jera al Jerezad, Tysera al Hadar, Retra al Yildun, and Gheda al Hamat! They are the new counsel! Women of piety and purity to lead us back to the righteous path! Glory be to Shaliq!'

Victory at Amarat with Barbarian Troops, Adziz reclaims his City

Glory be to Shaliq! With the aid of Northern Barbarian horsemen and the mercenaries of Sudaq, General Ghazi and Adziz have reclaimed Amarat. The battle was bloody and swift, with the demoralised and outnumbered Jadaites offering little resistance to the righteous onslaught. Most of the Jadeites have fled into the desert, where...

Jadite Army Takes Hostages into Desert

The Jadaite armies retreating from Amarat and Huzuz are heading full pelt towards Shalazar, with a large number of men, women and children in tow as hostages. Popular belief is that the madmen still seek to place a rat on the throne of Shalazar.

Ghazi holds Husuz

Following the stunning victory at Amarat, armies of General Ghazi swooped down from the north onto Huzuz, and finding it empty of Jadeites promptly retook the Jerezad's old stronghold. Quite who the city belongs to now is debatable, as Ghazi has claimed it in the name of the Caliphate...

First Son of Wolf still on Throne

'Is he still there?'

'Oh, yep, he is. No doubt about that.'

Emira Ashira of the Bookwala

'Well, it's official, that Ashira woman's our new Emira.'

'She's our new Emira, isn't she already the Guildmaster of the Alchemists?'

'Well, she was, but apparently she's stepped down as Guildmistress. The ceremony was performed yesterday, she swore fealty to the family, and now she's our Emira.'

'So who's the new Master of the Guild?

Human Shield Marches from Huzuz

[A messenger, breathless from riding full-speed on horseback from the east]

'The Jadeites are coming! The Jadeites are coming! Those demon priests raged at the fall of the Jade Empire, and they've quit the walls of Huzuz! Perhaps the soldiers are scared for their lives, but their eyes are full of a firey hatred for us! And before them march the citizens of Huzuz, bound and dropping from exposure like flies.... it's a pitiful sight, but any army that marches near them inspires the Priests to fury, and they begin to slaughter their prisoners! Take me to Ghazi, quickly: his armies await his orders!'

6 Month Anniversary Prayer Meeting

'Hear us, citizens of Shalazar! The Protector of the City, Kokoro al Yildun, has called a day of prayer for the pious populace three weeks from this day! Maintain your piety, citizens. Pray every day at the appointed times, and join everyone together in the streets of Shalazar, and in every temple, to entreat Shaliq, blessed be her name, to return her beloved gaze back to our world! Hear this citizens, the time for prayer, the time to save your souls is now!'

Beetlemap changes dramatically

[In the park in which resides the Map of the Beetles, Wonder of the World, great changes have been made. For the upshot of these changes, see here]

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, riven by internal factions, risk breaking into open civil war.

The Bookwala have a new Emira, and some new hope.

The Yildun continue to fare well, though their Emira is now 'distracted' as Protectress.

The Hadar have begun to regroup.

The Fesk seem, at least outwardly, content. As always.