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Turn 3 News

News of the 66thth Day of the 2nd Year of the Reign of Her Most Magnificent Highness, Amlatta the Pious

'No news from Punt'

'That's odd, the caravan was supposed to be here by now.'

'Must have been delayed. Leaves on the trail I expect.'

Tower Moat

'Look, you're not getting me to stay here any longer - this is just the first attempt. What's going to happen when the Calipha - bless her name - starts sending more and better and bigger creatures to try and break in the tower? She was just one alchemist! That tower has stood in the centre of Abib for time out of mind and I for one am not going to hang around to find out what's going to come out of i!. That's if they manage to break in at all without destroying half the city. Yes, I know, it wasn't supposed to have that effect - but that's what they'll all say! Half the Red Market was blown over and the Street of Sighs collapsed and now there's a moat round the tower. I ask you, where's it all going to end?'

'You've got to joking.'

'It's true, all too true. Why do you think the Jerezad have been so busy in Punt recently? You said yourself that its those delicacies that really bring in the profit. Those candied wasps in marzipan were a great hit, as were the lark's tongues fried in pepper and paprika.'

'Yes, but hands! Actual pygmy hands!'

'Glazed in garlic honey, mind. The softest bit, or so I've heard. There's no need to look so shocked, m'dear, they don't have souls, so its just like eating any other animal.'

'I really don't think it's going to catch on. I mean no house would support it. And even my customers.'

'Don't be so sure. The Jerezad have already started their own little stockpile, and their first order is for the Palace itself. Once the Calipha is known to be tucking in, I think they'll be simply swamped. You have to move with times, m'dear. Bird's nest and fried peacock simply aren't exotic any more. But with the amount the Jerezad are amassing, its going to have to be the next big thing.

General Ghazi sends aid to Al-Hadeen

In a show of solidarity and leadership, General Ghazi Al'Altair has sent 500 of his men to the ruined city of Al-Hadeen to aid in the cleanup and search for survivors. Praise be to Shaliq that such a man was made general of the armies of Shalazar!

Slaughter in the North

'The Hadar and Kal'Nyak killed the northern barbarians you say?'

'Yeah, except they didn't get the men...'

'So who did they kill then?'

'They slaughtered the women and children riding in tow apparently...'

'Serves the damn heathens right!'

'Yeah, the Tribe of the Dragon is as good as gone now...'

Joyous news in the House of the Yildun

The Noble and Pious House of the Yildun are pleased to announce the engagement of Sharee al Yildun and Al-Phariq, the Royal Toymaker...

'Ssssh! Don' talk 'bout that, issh gonna get yer killed. Waitaminnit... okay, the coasht'sh clear.'

'Riiight, thish Order of -'

'Cough, cough.'

'Yeah, them. They're eshtablishtabl... eshtah... they're set up to fight demonic monshtroshities from the outer darknessssh, right?'

'Right.'

'Sho, why've they not sorted out thish bone dragon long before now then? Why're they botherin' the good folk o' Shalazar?'

'I dunno, I dunno, I mean, I'm shure they'll shend their armiesh and warriorsh along to kill it now it'sh deshtroyed another city.'

'Yeah, I 'eard they wash already makin' plansh of that nature. Ish shtill shilly of them not to do it when they 'ad that shword...'

Northern trade route opened, declared for Jerezad

[Shortly after the Northern trade route is liberated from the northern Barbarians, an Emissary from the Jade Emperor arrives in Shalazar announcing the following]

'Ladies and Gentlemen of Shalazar--let it be known that due to their tireless activities in the name of peace, their aid in the subjugation of the Northern Barbarians, and the goodwill they have shown us, the noble family of the Jerezad shall be given pride of place in all caravans to the Empire, and their goods shall be the first to be purchased. All hail Ghazi al'Altair and his noble warriors.

[This is a matter of some confusion in the marketplace, as the slaughter of the Tribe of the Dragon was the work of Marcillus al Hadar, and Ghazi al'Altair, while kin to the Jerezad, leads an army of the Calipha, not of one family.]

Strange Tales and Snakeskins

[Heard in a bar from a drunken soldier]

'Pygmies? Pygmies? What sort of nonsense is that about pygmies, no more fierce than a pussycat. Now where I've just come from, to the southwest of the Jade Empire [a small shudder], I've been to the Swamp Unpassable. Or at least, that's what we called it. Dear god, what a mess. Lousy weather, mists that move like serpents, and serpents that walk like men. No, no, we never saw them, but they'd steal through the night, silp you a way, and suck out your skin to wear it for themselves. We lost ten good men that way, until the Captain started checkin' us to see if we was real or not...

'Still no news from Punt'

'That's really odd, the caravan should have been here a week ago. What can have happened?'

'Maybe you should sent one of them Honourable Messengers to see what's happened.'

'Good idea!'

Strange Whispers in the North

[Among the traders of the Fesk, men whisper that their friends in the Northern Tribes have stopped talking. Small caravans that used to find pitched camps and hunting grounds have found them empty. When a small group of hunters have been crossed, the speak slightly if at all. The word on their lips is of a man, the First Child of the Wolf.]

'I hear there's some kind of curse on the Bookwala family. That business with the wig-maker was just the start, now they're all growing hair and teeth and howling at the moon. Still there's more than one skilled alchemist in that family- perhaps they will be able to find their way out of the problem.'

'Prince Erasmus is too cowardly to fight his own battles! First he refuses to give the water djinn their rightful dues, then he deliberately provokes them by drinking part of the debt. When Nadir called him up on it, he cheerfully sent another man to his death. What a wimp! The mighty Hadar must be so proud...'

'Messenger gone missing!'

The Honourable Company of Messengers regrets to inform that the carpet messenger recently sent to the city of Karnak in Punt has not returned, and is believed lost. A full refund will be paid on all undelivered messages, and a repeat messenger will be sent out at Company's expense. The Company apologies for the delay, and any inconvenience caused.

'Did you hear? The Alchemist's guild has blown up!'

'What - all of it this time? They're always blowing bits of it up.'

'No, no, it was just the Cloud Weavers section.'

'Alright, that is unusual - the cloud weavers don't usually blow thing up, more likely to set things on fire...'

'No, no - you don't understand, they don't know who did it!'

'Yeah, right. They NEVER know who does it, wasn't me, sir, honest sir, have you asked Hassan? I mean, how do they expect to be taken seriously as a guild if they won't even take responsibility for an individual's actions?'

'Well, they claim it was an Outside Agency, 'cos of all their new security measures.'

'But they would say that, wouldn't they?'

Idols seized

By pronouncement of the Bookwala criers:

'Let it be known that due to their gross trespassing on the common curtesies and kindness of the good residents of the Bookwala sector, and in particular the unjustified harassement of honest merchants selling figures of idols from foreign lands, the Kal'Nyak are henceforth banned from the Bookwala sector of Shalazar. May this serve as a lesson to those who would be a law unto themselves!'

Overheard in the Jerezad Quarters:

'No, no, we have no trouble with the Order of Kal'Nayak making their way into the Quarters of the Jerezad, and of course you are searching for those who might worship pygmy idols. It is merely that this door... no, it isn't locked, it's just very solidly stuck, we're having someone come and look at that... and you wouldn't want inside anyway, as my mistress has been afflicted of a malady of late, nothing serious, but certainly nothing you would wish to expose yourself to, poor humours and all....

'Rumour has it that a number of foolhardy adventurers plan to go and kill the bone-dragon. If past history is anything to go by, I'll be buying flowers for their families soon enough. Walid Al Din failed, and they will too, you mark my words...'

Calipha's general in tax evasion shocker!

By word of the Yildun messanger to the Calipha:

'Oh great Calipha, we humbly ask that you hear our plea. For the last month, the Jerezad trading caravans crossing our lands have been avoiding taxes by camping with the armies of Ghazi Al`Altair, your general in the North. This places a great burden upon our cities who rely on tax income to survive. We beg you, order your general to cease this practice and give us our due.'

Calipha gets Big Bang

'Cor, it was the biggest one I ever seen!'

'Yeah, but it was still only a firework, wasn't it?'

'Well, it looked like a firework, but it was huge and had a sort of pointing and firing framework around it. The Calipha got to light the blue paper herself, and then we all had to stand well back. It went off with an enormous boom and my ears rang for hours - it completely destroyed the bit of wall wot the alchemist had erected to demonstrate on. Calipha looked pleased, I can tell you.'

'Yeah, but wot use will it be?'

'Do you want one of them things pointed at you in battle? No, thought not...'

Calipha too kind?!

Psst! You know what I just heard? I just heard from my aunt, who heard it from her sister, who heard it from her friend, who heard it from her son's wife, that the Order of Khal Nayak aren't too happy with the Calipha at the moment. Yeah, honestly, she said that they think she's not taking a hard-enough line on religious issues. Yeah, I know sounds crazy doesn't it? But apparently that's what they think. Also, she said they may be plotting to keep her out of the way, you know, get her up in a tower in the palace with a load of advisors while the Order take over running of the Caliphate! SSSSHHH! Keep your voice down, they have spies everywhere! I know it sounds insane, but that's what she heard. Yeah, I know Shaliq would never stand by and let that happen, bu nonetheless, let's still hope it's just a rumour, eh?

Wilting in the Wine

'Wow, really? Is he alright?'

'Yeah, apparently master Jolem was just having a walk through the vineyards with this man, and came over all funny. Apparently he fainted and was twitching a bit. I reckon it must have been being out in the sun for too long.'

'Who was the man he was with, I thought you knew most of the master's friends?'

'I do, but I hadn't seen this guy around here before. He was a new face to me. He just turned up on the doorstep, and asked if Jolem could show him around the vineyards like he'd offered to. The master appeared and said it was all fine and led him off. But, yeah, he's fine, it must have just been a bit too much wine and sun.'

Beauties about Town

Well, I've not seen the likes of that in ages. what must be the most beautiful couple in all Shalazar just went walking down my road, and bought an apple from my sall! Oh no, you don't understand, these guys were REALLY beautiful, and I mean STUNNINGLY so. For exampl, this poor runner guy was so taken aback he ran straight into a wall!... Who were they? Well, the girl looked as though she was from around here, but she was wearing strange foreign clothing, and the gentleman was that Salim fellow, you know, the funny mechanic guy, from over in the next quarter... on my life, stunning they were, just stunning.

'Pygmy Slave Revolt'

'Boo-hoo! Boo-hoo-hoo!'

'What happened? Are you all right?'

'Boo-hoo-hoo!'

'There, there. It's alright. Here, have a nice hot tisane. Now, what's troubling you?'

'Terrible news. It's terrible. I heard about it in the market. The pygmies are revolting!'

'Well I know that the Council of Elders has determined that they are soulless, but they're not revolting...'

'No, they have revolted. The wild pygmies have attacked Karnak, and freed all the slaves.'

'Well, they were slaves. I mean, it's understandable that they want to be free.'

'That's not all. They killed them all! Everybody in the city, except some who got dragged away to be sacrificed to their terrible idols. Even the women, and the poor children!'

'That's ghastly! How did it happen? Weren't there guards and soldiers?'

'Yes, but not enough. I heard people saying that there were giant pygmies, and strange pygmies from the far south with hideous poisonous smokes.'

Clouds and Skins

[A rumour begins, first in the Fesk Quarters, and gradually takes hold of Shalazar like a noose around a villain's throat. It is not clear from whence they came, but the Tribes of the North now ride beneath one standard, a skull and skin of wolf held aloft. The Fesk have ceased travelling northwards for the moment: their hosts' eyes are not friendly, and they do not feel safe there anymore.]

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 horizontal lines represent standing at the end of last turn.

The Jerezad, with the loss of their main trading centres and gem mines in Punt, have suffered a terrible blow. Some wonder if they have underestimated the pygmies they enslaved, while others wonder much darker things...

The Yildun, despite the annoyance of reduced taxation income along the northern trade route, have recovered from the attack of the Bone Dragon. News of a joyous wedding and continued influence at court ensure the success of the family.

The Bookwala suffer from the loss of trade with the Jade Empire, but have continued some trade with the Western Isles, and more importantly look more formidable in relation to the now-humbled Jerezad.

The Hadar wear the mantle of the conquerors, the liberators of the Empire of Jade, the defenders of the Calipha's trade routes, the butchers of several hundred [infidels/women and children, depending how you look at it]...

The Fesk are as they always are... doing well, doing badly, it's very difficult to tell with them.