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Turn 6 News

News of the 155th Day of the 2nd Year of the Reign of Her Most Faithful Magnificence, Amlatta the Pious

Note: You can now vote for best news headline in the Forums...

'The Calipha isn't seen anywhere without Killian these days. Whenever she makes a decision he whispers in her ear, and judging by the behaviour of the Khal'Nayak, Killian is making the real decisions anyway. Seems to me that when a man has that much power, things can go wrong fast...'

'The Hadar have brought the wrath of the barbarians down on our NOrthern cities. We've been peacefully co-existing for centuries, now they go and stir up a hornets' nest. The Calipha's armies should have nothing to do with it, this is something the Hadar started, and its something they should finish.'

'Jolem al Kazak... yeah the master of the vineyards, y'know? He's gathering money to makes some sort of monument, to be built in Elmiyah, so I hear. I can't spare so much as a penny to be honest, but its a good thought. Remind people of what happened there [looks over his shoulder and spots a Khal'Nayak guard], and why, of course. Anyway, if you like the sound of that, drop a few coins in at the vineyards.'

General Ghazi to Free Gazala

'Yeah, that's right, we're off to Gazala. General's orders. He's a good man, the general. He just wants to save the people from the barbarians.'

'But I heard the Calipha said that the barbarian's was a punishment on the Hadar, for them being impious and all?'

'That's as may be, but she didn't specifically tell the general not to, so he's going to save the city.'

'Have you heard what happened to our Emira's niece and that toymaker guy she was supposed to marry? I've never seen one of Melinka's matches end up with the groom being sucked into the ground like that before. She always makes very good matches, y'see - matched my sister and that Herek guy, and they still get on better than any married couple I know. Oh no, there was nothing wrong with this match, researched and all prepared to the hilt, and the ceremony was perfect to the letter, as per usual with her. I wonder what happened to him?'

'I heard he was rescued - pulled out of the ground safe and sound. No doubt they'll be ready to try again soon, once he's recovered anyway. What's the Emira's niece actually like, by the way?'

'Well, just between you and me, she ain't the best looker in the city by any means, kinda fell outta the ugly tree, and hit every branch twice. A little bit dappy too, I heard, which does surprise me because apparently when her groom went missing she set about immediately sorting out search and rescue parties, and was quite an organisational force to behold. However, whenever she's around that toymaker guy she's the ultimate knee-bouncing, grinning ear to ear, dappy little lady... ah well, young love...'

The Hadar Want YOU!

[Throughout the Caliphate, in cities under the stewardship of all families, posters begin to appear around public notice boards and on shop doors and windows. Many in the non-Hadar cities are soon torn down, the remaining ones proudly proclaim there message]

'General Mercillus wants all strong, proud, brave young men, with a sense of adventure and love for your family to sign up to the greatest armies of the Caliphate - the armies of the Hadar! See the world! Smite the enemies of your family! Uphold the glory and might of the family Hadar! The Hadar armies want YOU! Join up now and you may be lucky enough to be under the command of the youngest and most successful General the Hadar have had for many generations: General Mercillus himself - the leader of the Hadar's recent glorious campaign in Najaah! What are you waiting for? Sign up now!'

Emira's Niece Missing

'Hello, excuse me, sister, have you seen this woman? She is the niece of the Emira of the Yildun, and we are very concerned for her safety. Yes, she was last seen two nights ago in a state of some distress. Well, thank you anyway, but if you do see her, please don't hesitate to contact anyone at the Yildun palace. Thank you.'

Heretics Smitten Again!

[There is erected, before the Great Temple of Shalazar a huge pyre on which is to be burnt the fourteen formerely highly trusted and respected mid-wives, at least two hailing from each of the Great Families, that have been found guilty of multiple murder and consorting with necromancers by the Council of Elders. The women were arrested and interrogated by the Order of Khal'Nayak, and confessed their crimes before the Court. Many broke down and begged forgiveness before the priestesses, others remained stone faced, and some fainted on the spot as the sentence was pronouced. The pyre was lit at dawn on the day after the trial, and burned until dawn the next day; the terrible screams echoed the courtyard for hours as the heat rose from the base of the pyre to scorch the skin of the condemned. Nobles from every family came to witness the execution, their righteous pain at seeing the muderers of so many of their infants plain for all to see. Few could stand the stench of scorched hair and flesh as the day went on and the surrounding area was near deserted, only the mothers of the slain remained to witness the destruction of those they once held in such trusted positions, but who betrayed them in the most horrific of fashions. Once the fire burnt out, the ashes were gathered and divided into five shares, one going to each of the great families to be disposed of as they saw fit. Most have kept them in the training rooms of their midwives, as a lesson to any who should ever consider such action again.]

[In a bar somewhere in the Jerezad quarters]

'Oh, by Shaliq, as if we didn't have enough trouble with the Bookwala!'

'What, you mean that Imzenzi/Weesha thing? Do you think he poisoned them?'

'Well, I've traded with him, and he didn't strike me as that kind of man. But then again, if he knew he was in their will, then boy did he have a lot to gain by it.'

'Well, I think there's no point worrying about it, there hasn't been any evidence found, has there? If there's any proof ever found then fair enough, but you ought to be careful of these types of rumours: jealousy at other's gains often causes people to try and taint their victory...'

Surprise, surprise

'Citizens of Shalazar! Let it be known that the winner of the Carpet competition, set by the great General Ghazi al'Altair, has been announced as the Guild of Alchemists. The award will be accepted by Guild Master Ashira on behalf of the Guild. Congratulations to the winner, glory be to Shaliq!'

Tobrukh Saved!

'By Shaliq! It's a miracle - the djinn have stopped fighting at Tobrukh! Yes, it was that street-thug acrobat guy wot did it! He goes over there in the morning and by the end of the day they've stopped fighting and left the island! Amazing...'

'Yeah, well, I hope he left more sober than he returned...'

'What d'you mean?'

'Well... not that I want to cast dispersions about a hero or anything, but I saw him when he got back, and by Shaliq, was that man completely out of control: staggering around the streets, bouncing from wall to wall, throwing up in every other alley, and singing very loudly that he was the champion of the world, or something. He also tried to pick a fight with a dog, claiming it said something about his waistcoat.'

'Must've been celebrating his victory or something...'

'Yeah, but wouldn't he have celebrated once he got back? I mean there can't be too many bars left on Tobrukh, and there's definitely nowhere to get quite so drunk in the ocean between here and there...'

Dragonfire!

'Praise Shaliq you're safe!. I heard terrible stories!'

'And they were all true. I saw it myself, the terrible bone dragon swooping down on the army. We broke and fled, no army could withstand it. We'd already dealt with those barbarians who'd captured the city, there were more than we thought, must had been near on 5000 of them, but General Ghazi had a plan, and we outflanked them in the streets. They fought to the death, to the last man, and they were all crying out in that strange tongue of theirs, sounded like 'Agurat Hamurat Renigat!'. I guess it must have been a prayer, because just as we finished them off, the dragon swept down on us. Luckily we were in the city, so we could try and hide in the buildings. Some of the men tried to shoot it, but the arrows just didn't harm it. After we'd all fled it toasted some of the city, and then flew off to the north. It's a funny thing, but I could have sworn I saw a carpet following it as it left...'

Obituary: Nadia al Yildun

'Hear ye! Hear ye! A one-month period of mourning is hereby declared for all the House of Yildun in respect of Nadia, mother of Emira Madara, who died in her sleep two days ago. Nadia led a long and pious life, and led the family of the Yildun to the greatness they now enjoy. There will be a ceremony of blessing and remembrance, and her body will take its final resting place in the hallowed family tomb. May Shaliq reward her soul greatly, as she deserves. Glory be to Shaliq.'

Crime against the Calipha!

[Before being caught and reprimanded by the Grand Vizier, two palace servants are overheard gossiping about shouts of 'Where's my monkey?! Someone's stolen my monkey! I'll have their hands cut off!' emanating from the Calipha's chambers. For a few days following the incident, the Calipha refuses to see anyone, and does not leave her chambers.]

Najaah in Flames

Refugee's from Najaah have began to join the camps outside the city, where they mingle with those who fled Gazala. They too report that another city has fallen to the barbarians. Many curse the name of General Mercillus, whose army left them undefended as he sought out further conquests. Some among the refugees say that he could have done nothing, for the army that came against Najaah was larger than any they had ever seen.

Alchemy Defied by Towering Sorcery

[Overheard in the marketplaces of Abib.]

'I'll say one thing for those alchemists, they're certainly persistent.'

'Yes, but they're not actually achieving much, are they?'

'Well, it's only to be expected. You know what they say - set a sorceror to catch a sorceror.'

'You mean the offerings?'

'Of course. If it's sorcery that's sending the offerings, then it's sorcery that must be holding the tower up. If you ask me, they should get the Invisible College to deal with it.'

'Either that or send in the Order of Khal'Nayak. I bet they'd find the heretics keeping the tower up soon enough!'

'Maybe so, but how much damage would they cause while they were looking?'

Obituary: Shari al Yildun

[The House of Yildun are now in a double period of mourning with the discovery of the body of Shari al Yildun, niece of Emira Madara. Shari's remains were found floating in a small boat in the great river that flows through Shalazar. In her right hand, clutched to her breast was found a note which reads:

'I realise now what a fool I have been. My beloved does not want me, so I will not force him to marry someone he despises. However, I cannot live without him, so I have come here to this place, the Lake of Barminta. I now understand the significance of this place, and feel akin to its spirit: I too was once a thriving body of life and love, but now I am barely a shell, a husk filled with grief and pain. So many people lost their lives here, what will one more matter? The poison will work slowly, so I may enjoy the clouds rolling through the blue sky as my last sight in this world, and perhaps, if only for a moment forget my pain. I hold out little hope for this, as the thoughts of my beloved are rarely from my mind. I am sorry to my mother, and to all those who worked to make me suitable for the man who didn't want me. May Shaliq forgive me.'

The family have held a ceremony for her, and her body will be placed in the family tomb.]

We're off to Kill the Pygmies! The Horrible Pygmies of Punt!

'Soldiers, fall in line! Now listen here! You men, have the great honour of going forth in the name of the great familiy of the Jerezad, and smiting those souless, heathen pygmies until the jungles of Punt are purged of their heretical presence! Not only will you men be fighting alongside your family, but you will be fighting alongside two of the great armies of the Calipha! It is a great honour! Let's make sure we do the family proud, eh? Now, fall in!'

Magic Gates Missing Mystery

[Several people gather around a spot where there appears to be nothing of interest, yet they mutter amongst themselves in a concerned manner. As you come closer you hear that the gates of the Invisible College have mysteriously vanished and not reappeared. Over the next few weeks there is a noticable lack of college initiates in the city, and the whisper on the street is that the college no longer wishes to associate itself with the city.]

[A man in a hood and a cloak sits down in a bar near you. He soon gets up and departs, leaving behind him a leaflet he found on the floor under the table. Intrigued you read what the pamphlet has to say.]

'What sadness lies in your heart fair friend? For without having met you, I am sure that the cold winds blowing through our fair city have touched your life too. I am sure that you have prayed fervently to Shaliq in this most sudden autumn, but she has turned her cheek to us. I am sure you have clung to your family for warmth, only to find yourself with the coldest of strangers.

Yet there is much that both of us can do together, before we also succumb to the numbing cold. We who can still see, hear and feel the warmth can make a difference. We still have strength in our voices and our hearts, and I say that our faith in Shaliq demands that we should use that strength. Perhaps when we have cleared these rotten oaks, we shall once more stand tall and proud in the light of Shaliq.

However, for now we must move cautiously lest we waste our opportunity. Find others who might yet have warm blood in their veins and tell them our name; tell them that the Brotherhood of Fire are here! Soon I will send a sign and you shall know your roles.'

Jade Armies on Manoeuvre

'I hear the Jade Empire has an awful lot of armies on manoeuvres on their western border. Worries me, that does.'

'You don't think they'd actually consider invading us do you?'

'Well, I never thought the northern barbarians would be mad enough to try it either, but look what they did to Gazala!'

'Maybe the armies are just in training to fight the barbarians, and being kept away from the northern borders so the barbarians won't notice and become antagonised? Surely the Empire won't start anything, so soon after making an agreement wth the Bookwala?'

'Hmmm, Not that the Jade infidels are as primitive, but look what's happened with the last lot of heathens the Bookwala made friends with...'

Necromancer Captured and Caged by Khal'Nayak!

'It's quite a procession isn't it? The Order have obviously been out smiting evil doers again. Hang on... what on Shalazar is that?! Is that that Captain Kayam? What's he doing bound and gagged in a cage?'

'Didn't you hear? Some necromancer stole his body, and them lot went off to get it back. Looks like they succeeded. Good for them...'

Hauler and Carter Hardliners Arrested and Executed

[Before the great temple, the priestesses pass judgement on the members of the Carters, Haulers and Message Beast Operators who have been found guilty of violence, causing public unrest, and destruction of Alchemist Guild property. The court hears the testimony of Samir al Fesk, among others, and are sentenced to be put to the sword. The Calipha was present at the court, and requested that the priestesses extend the judgement to the husbands, wives and children of the condemned. The Council accordingly ordered the executions of the families of the protestors, and all were put to the sword that afternoon.]

Shaliq's Judgement on the Hadar!

[Proclaimed in the streets of Shalazar by some of the more vocal and outspoken citizens.]

'The sack of Gazala was Shaliq's judgement on the Hadar! Great Shaliq frowns upon the vice ridden House of the Hadar, as witnessed by the fate of Tobrukh! Of what worth a mighty military academy which trains soldiers to turn upon their sisters within Shalazar when great threats lie without our sacred borders? This be Shaliq's lesson, that Family not turn upon Family when the jackals and serpents worry at our heels!'

Wei-Ling feeds Refugees

Each month, more and more refugees have been settling into the poorer sections of Shalazar, citizens from Najaah, Gazala, Tobrukh, Elmiyah, cities ravaged by war or the Bone Dragon. At first it started as a small rumour, but now it has become an article of faith amoung the masses: that Wei-Ling, at the behest of the Jade Emperor, has been providing grain to refugees, and has been seen walking amoungst them regularly. Various stories depict her as silent during these charitable efforts, although one popular story has her quoting the holy Tablets: 'Thou shalt not suffer thy sister to go without lodging, nor without bread nor salt nor water...'

The Walls of Jade are Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down!

'The Bookwala aren't going to be in such favour in the Jade Empire for very long.'

'Why do you say that?'

'Because you know that Djinn they gave the Emperor to repair their Great Wall? Well it seems that it's not doing that great a job of fixing. I was up there a few weeks back, and the workmen on the wall were reporting all kinds of things: that the wall kept rumbling, that a section would fix itself and then break again, that the earth would tremble at nightfall... all very odd.'

Yildun not that righteous

'You know, for all they say the Yildun are righteous, they get up to as much stuff as anybody else. It's just that they cover it more. I mean, really, you should hear what some of their diaries say...

Grey Tower 4 Alchemists 0, House prices Falling, Plants Dying

It stood silently and somewhat suspiciously for 2,000 years... but now they just can't seem to leave the Grey Tower alone. Lady Zahrah the Alchemist and Lady Kyree again tried to crack the recalcitrant tower, this time with some form of enhanced acid. After several hours of spraying, and a horrible bubbling noise, the acid leaked off the Tower (which was as solid as ever, and into the moat, creating a noxious mist. The citizens of Abib, never the happiest of people, have seen the value of land in the area fall as plants died before the caustic mist, and children who used to swim in the tower moat are now crying because it's now unsafe...

Grand Fire works display for Calipha by Zahrah al Bookwala: Omar and the Adversary

Lady Zahrah excelled herself this month with a fireworks display detailing the legend of Omar and the Fall of Man. [See tale Here.] The Display itsel fwas dazzling, all the more so because the Adversary's role was presented completely in black fireworks, explosions of horrible yet seductive sound with no accompanying light...

Fesk/Hadar Stand off in Gazala

In post conflagration Gazala, a new conflict arises. Almost as soon as the barbarians have been driven out, two armies find themselves encamped on opposite sides of the city: the army of Mercillus, and an army of the Fesk still hankering for revenge after the rape of Najaah. Much of the city itself is still in ruins, and the populace cower in their homes, waiting for either of the armies to make a move against the other.

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 have fared well with the takeover of Elmiyah, although the citizens there show them little goodwill. It is said that recent problems in the Empire might open up their trade routes, and teh stars are judged to be favourable to them...

The Bookwala, have seemed content to lick their wounds, and are recovering their good name in court circles...

The Yildun seem blessed, and although there is sadness and mourning in their household, it is also filled with a certain joy.

The Hadar have regained Tobrukh, though the island is much steamed and ravaged; in turn, they have lost Najaah and hold only a formal claim to Gazala. Their aggression has won them few friends, and there is honest worry amoungst some that the alliance with the Yildun will supplement their military power.

The Fesk sit grinning, though the glint in their teeth may suggest a certain sharpness. Certainly they see Gazala as a vengeance-filled battleground.