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Turn 7 News

News of the 189th 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...

How many Hadar?

'Is that the Hadar army off to smite the pygmies?'

'Yeah, quite a sight isn't it?'

'Well, I heard, they're pulling out all the stops and sending out as many men as they can get their hands on. Yeah, Mercillus's big recruitment drive in all the cities of the Caliphate has come up with results, apparently.'

'Well, good for them. It's always a wise move to act on the commands of the Calipha to the best of your ability. I mean. we've seen what happens to those who don't...'

'The barbarians are coming! Shaliq save us!'

'You may well say Shaliq save us, my friend. But it's the armies and cold, hard steel that's going to turn the barbarians away. Thank Shaliq that Ghazi and his mighty army are in charge of defending us.'

'Yeah, but aren't all the other armies in the South?'

'Ahem...'

Trooping Down to Say Hello

'I hear that going to Gazala was Marcie's second choice- before that he was taking his army to Amrat!'

'Amrat? Why? There weren't any threats down there?'

'Yeees - Marcie says he was going down there with his ten thousand soldiers to 'just drop in and say hello'. I know I always take a vast army with me when I'm dropping in for a social call. Scholar-General Adsiz was not impressed, told Marcie that it'd be war if he or any of his troops ever came within a hundred miles of Amrat again.'

'So what changed Marcie's mind?'

'Apparently he met a messenger on the road to Amrat and turned around post haste.'

'Probably lucky for him that he did. I heard something else as well, I heard that post haste doesn't exactly describe all the prevaricating he did to try and get out of swearing loyalty to General Ghazi, and that he was overheard talking sedition against the former Emira of his House! Complaining that she'd angered him by not allowing him to carry out his precious plans!'

'I sure hope this new Emira can keep him in hand. The last thing Shalazar needs at the moment is that kind of loose cannon running around shooting the Caliphate in the foot with all these enemies on our borders.'

'I heard that Wei Ling is the Calipha's daughter.'

'Rubbish, she don't look a thing like her. I heard she's her sister.'

'Both of you shut up, everybody knows she's the daughter of Prince Tariq!'

'Well, either way, doesn't that make her next in line for the throne?'

'You're kidding!'

'Straight up, I heard screaming, and breaking stuff, and then he came out looking like thunder.'

'But Killian is closer to the Calipha than anyone! What could they possibly be arguing about.'

'Nadir? He doesn't approve, and I hear he and the Calipha are very close.'

'But Killian owes everything to having the Calipha's ear. He shouldn't risk that.'

'They had to fall out sooner or later. It probably won't last.'

'It had better not. I'd hate to think what would happen to Killian's position if it did.'

'Ghazban has defeated the terrible lizard-monsters!'

'Yeah, but I heard he's in charge of them now.'

'Well, whatever, the point is they're no threat anymore.'

'If you say so, mate. Personally I'd be worried about anyone, especially a man, being put in charge of a bunch of demons, other than to destroy them properly. He should hand them over to Khal'Nayak...'

Hardline Vengeance from Beyond the Grave

'The Calipha may have been fairly thorough in executing the families of those traitors who blew up the Alchemist's Guild and attacked all those Honourable Messagers, but apparently only about a third of them were actually caught.'

'So the rest are still out there?'

'Yes, and by the sound of it there's a necromancer amongst them. Guild Master Ashira is being plagued by vengeful spirits of those who were executed!'

'Shaliq preserve her!'

Claim made to Jerezad

[One sunny afternoon, Atiya al Fesk is seen striding into several public courtyards in and around the Jerezad quarter. She claims aloud that in truth she is Atiya al Jerezad, and has come to claim the lands, titles and properties of Weesha al Jerezad, to which, as her sister, she has a true and righteous legal claim over Imzenzi al Jerezad, to whom the estate were given. The Jerezad send a representative to acknowledge her and her complaint, and it is said that the family will debate the matter. There has been no further word on the matter from the family.]

'Wow! What's that?'

'Why, these madam? They are genuine scale, accoutrements delivered this very morning from the deepest, darkest jungles of Punt - goods and crafts from the recently conquered snake-lizard-men of the jungles. Look, we have snake-eye jewels, gorgeous scale dresses, just look at that shimmer! Never have such fine things been sold in this market! And these hardwoods, smell that aroma; they're sturdy, excellent for crafting, as you can see with these snake models. Also, observe this gold-jewellery, the finest I've seen in years, madam, and I know fine jewellery! I see this necklace takes your fancy, isn't it lovely? Would you like it gift-wrapped? It is lovely, madam, suits you down to the ground...'

...so, Marcillus has been recruiting people from all over, you know that. Then he mounts this attack on the City of the Flowers, which - thank Shaliq! - the former Emira stopped in the nick of time. Then he starts spreading dissent in the ranks about how the Emira spoilt his plans and that she's not fit to rule. Add to that the alliances he's been trying to make behind his family's back with other families... and you've got an internal coup in the Hadar brewing. Yes, you heard, a coup - I'd bet you anything within a month we'll have General Marcillus running the Hadar and the new Emira locked up in her chambers, `guarded' by his goons. I know it's never happened before, but we've never had a general quite like Marcillus before...

Infidel Alliance Refused

'Have you heard? Apparently that infidel ambassador went to the Calipha and offered her an alliance with the Jade Empire, as well as several armies to fight under her generals against the horse-barbarians. Of course, she turned him down...'

'WHAT?! What do you mean, she turned him down?'

'Well, they're infidels, aren't they? You can't trust an infidel, can you? Plus, she obviously thinks Ghazi's good enough with Mercillus to fend off the barbarians - so there's no need to form any kind of unnecessary ties with a foreign nation we might not want to deal with in the future, is there? At least, that's what I think she's thinking...'

'Yeah, the Calipha must know what she's doing... mustn't she?'

Hadar Unusually Stable

[After the arrest of Barag al Izar, the creator of the mechanical mole digging machines that terrorised the Hadar quarter and Hadar properties around Shalazar, those same affected lands and properties have now, it seems, returned to peace and are no longer under threat. Unexplained earthquakes have all but ceased completely, and buildings are no longer pray to holes, pits and the kind of damage they have been subject to over the last few months. Some that were affected have fallen in the interim due to their damaged foundations, but the repairs to the quarter are going ahead and are not predicted to take long to complete.]

Melinka's Lost Love Returns

'Everyone thought Melinka's heart was hard as stone, and here only thoughts of marriage were bringing others together. But it turns out that all these years she's been pining for her lost love!'

'You don't say! Who?'

'Oh, I didn't hear his name. But apparently they were betrothed, and then she thought he was dead, whereas he's really been spending years out in the swamps ruling some group of serpent people or something.'

'You mean the ones who've made Ghazban their king?'

'Yes, that sounds like them.'

'Hope Melinka checks him for scales then...'

Pygmy Idol Powder Power

'Hello, madam, can I interest you in an urn of ground pygmy idol?'

'Haven't those idols been outlawed.'

'Yes, madam, yes they are. These idols have been destroyed, and the remnants of them put into urns and sold as a reminder of the power of Shalazar over heathen, souless fiends. Look, madam, we have broken pygmy spears and signal carriers, shattered statues and jewels, bent metals. All destroyed to demonstrate the power of the faithful over the faithless. Shall I put you down for a crushed pygmy skull? They make lovely flowerpots...'

Children Stand Tall Against Pygmies

[People stand around aghast at the strange site that greets them: a small band of children stride through the city from the Yildun quarter to the gates of Shalazar. Here they stop and proclaim their intentions:]

'Hear us, people of Shalazar! We, the children of three lines of the great family of the Yildun, hereby announce a crusade to slaughter the remaining soulless heathen pygmies. We, with the strength of our faith, will triumph where you fickle, weak-minded grown-ups have failed. Glory be to Shaliq!'

[This speech having been concluded, the children stride proudly out of the city, many weighed down by the saucepans on their heads, the plates tied to their torsos with string, and the wooden clubs and sticks that they wield like sabres ready to impart their righteous justice. With all the courage of great holy warriors they stride forth, and the gates close behind them, many unsure whether they should be stopped for their impetuousness, or praised for their bravery and devotion to their Calipha and their faith.]

The Lady Vanishes

Oh Shaliq be merciful, the Calipha, the Calipha! The poor Calipha, oh what will become of us, she is gone, she is vanished, she is undone!'

Monument to Elmiyah

[Many are happy to see the foundations of a monument to the victims of the tragedy of Elmiyah being laid in a park near the royal vineyards. Many praise the generosity of Jolem al Kazak, the philanthropist behind the venture, and already flower-tributes and street-venders of such things are gathering around that place, ready for the grief and ceremonies of remembrance that will take place there.]

Nadir Not a Drunkard

'Turns out Nadir stumbling drunkenly around the streets wasn't him celebrating at all, one of the conditions set by the Djinn he'd been negotiating with was that they'd leave Tobrukh alone if he drank a whole crate of wine!'

'A whole crate? I'm glad I'm not his liver! Still, a good use for all that Hadar wine lying around on the island with nobody left to drink it.'

'The Calipha seemed impressed by his alcohol tolerance anyway, enough to make him her own servant. With all the feasting they're doing in the palace these days, his capacity for wine will probably be an asset!'

'Shhh, don't say those things so loud. You never know who's listening these days...'

'The armies are coming back! Look, ten of the armies of the Calipha, they have returned to the city from the South!'

'Why are they coming back? Are they heading North, to fight the barbarians?'

No, they have returned on the orders of the Grand Vizier to guard the city.'

'What? Why's he done that?'

'Who knows, my friend: we live in interesting times...'

Killian come uppance?

My cousin says that there are evil going's on at the palace - he's a guard with the Order of the Burning Sword and he was there when Killian was disappeared.'

'What do you mean, 'was disappeared'?'

'Well, my cousin says Killian was walking in the palace when there was a shout, horribly cut off, and when guards came running there was no sign of him.'

'Yeah, but he could have been bundled into a carpet or anything...'

'No, but the Order of the Burning Sword was called out immediately on full alert and conducted searches and guarded all known exits and everything.'

'Then what happened, he wasn't found was he?'

'Well no, but two of the Order also disappeared, and have not been seen since either. It's evil, it is. Evil!'

'It's horrible, horrible - we're all going to die!'

'What are you talking about?'

'There are murderous horse barbarians to the left of us and a murderous army of pygmies to the right of us...'

'Don't you mean to the north and to the south of us...'

'Does it matter!? What matters is that we are all going to die!!'

Djinn Speaks before the Empty Throne

Since the vanishing of the Calipha, the throne room has been a silent place. But every week, at noon on the Friday, a Djinn has risen from the grown and gone to kneel before the throne. The first time it said 'Your servant stands forth the first time. Call us to do your bidding. Command me now, or anon, or anon, lest the pact be anulled.'

The second time it said 'Your servant stands forth a second time. Call us to work your will. Command me now, or command me anon, lest the pact be anulled.'

Everyone wonders what will happen when it returns a third time.

The Stand at Sul-ma-an-Artamat

' Bards across the city of Shalazaar have been heard to tell this tale in the days since the battle at the Oasis Sul-ma-an-Artamat, in which the Warden of the North, Ghazi Al'Altair, and general Mercillus of the Hadar fought the horse barbarians. '

'The barbarians had not gone far from Najaah when they first found the poisoned wells. And the further south they went, the more they realised that there was no water to drink, and their horses died, and they drank their horses' blood. For the Warden of the North, Ghazi Al' Altair, had poisoned the wells, to save his retreating armies. Finally, after riding for days, the barbarians came upon the Oasis of Sul-ma-an-Artamat, seemingly clean and defended only by a small force of Hadar troops lead by General Mercillus. Thirsty and exhausted, the barbarians attacked, and their force was overwhelming. But even as they butchered the Hadar troops, the remaining armies of the North who had been lying in ambush attacked. Struck on both sides, and facing the mighty Mercillus with his bodyguard at their front, the barbarians were split, and their spearhead was scattered and destroyed, and their main was routed. Outnumbered by 5 to 1, the armies of the North pursued the barbarians for as long as they could, and for each man that fell, two barbarians went to their deaths. But they were at last turned, and though Mercillus and Ghazi lead their troops well, few survived the long retreat to the city. And so now we stand here, in the eye of the storm, with the barbarians at the gates. May Shaliq have mercy on us all.'

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 started their new trade route to the lands of the Snake men, and have brought back exceptional trinkets. The stars bless them as much as any at the moment.

The Bookwala seem to be recovering from their misfortunes, especially with their recent excursions into the Jade Empire.

The Yildun are blessed with a new Emira, although some of their standing at court is threatened by the disappearance of the Calipha.

The Hadar have distinguished themselves in battle, but have lost their territory and some of their military might to the horse barbarians. They are brave but embattled.

The Fesk mourn the loss of Muna, and rumour has it many of their other northern cities are threatened.