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Turn 8 News
News of the 31st Day of the Shattering
'Come on, come on, look at that! You see that, it's the armies of Ghazi al Altair! They're evacuating from Punt. Lucky stiffs - you think we can go with them...? Ever since the attack on Shalazar, and our poor priestess going blind, I haven't felt too good about hanging around here....'
[Somewhere on the outskirts of Punt]
Ambassadors treated well in the Empire of Jade
[From a missive received by the Palace, from the five ad-hoc Shalazar Ambassadors to the Jade Empire]
Grand Vizier retains control
The Grand Vizier Tiral al Abdar has withdrawn the Court from the Pavilion of the Rock, where Omar remains secluded beneath the Dome of Thorns. He has announced that, until the Throne might be restored or a new Calipha take the throne, he shall speak with her voice, as befits the Grand Vizier, and by and large the people of Shalazar are satisfied with this. Court life is not normal, nor are the Order of the Burning Sword satisfied--but they are mostly engaged in a hunt for the Calipha's murderers, and have withdrawn from politics.
[At a gathering of minor nobles, in a more affluent part of Shalazar]
[It is known throughout Shalazar that the call has gone out to priestesses in the city of Shalazar that the Council of Elders are calling a meeting of the priestesses to meet and consider the recent hardships that have fallen upon them and the land. All priestesses should come to the temple and all citizens are notified that if they notice a lost or distressed priestess that they should lead her to the nearest available temple.]
[In a bazaar in Shalazar, a shambled ragged figure stumbles along the streets, occasionally bumping into people or things, but continuing on her path regardless]
[Overheard from a rather pungent man in a bar]
'Look! There's another one. No, no, don't look! It's another one of those girls... Yeah, what are they up to. They come down here, wandering around in their veils, reeking of cheap perfume, slipping around the corridors, where do they think they are! No, I don't know any of them, and I know all the palace maids and servants! Well, they ought to be careful sneaking around this end of the palace. The Grand Vizier's quarters are down here and if he catches them, they will be punished!'
[It is noted that many of the Hadar, particularly the higher ranked nobles, have been relocated by their new Emira to the safety of the island of Tobrukh. Workmen and their families have been rebuilding the palaces and houses there and new buildings are having their foundations laid. Aged vineyards have been ripped up for the planting of crops and the debris of the war of the Djinn has been cleared.]
[Whispered conversation overheard in a dark, back-alley bar]
Death of a Steward
All over the city of Amarat, there is mourning for the Steward, who died tragically of a heart attack in his sleep in his palace last week.
'Come back, Shaliq! Come back!'
In temples all over Shalazar, people have gathered for the hugely successful prayer meetings organised by Samid al Jerezad. Here, peole from all walks of life gather to pray for the return of Shaliq, and forgiveness for their sins. They plead, they beg, they promise eternal piousness, weep, cry out their sorrow, some even fall to the ground in grief-stricken fits. The meetings are hailed for their incredible charged atmospheres and are rapidly becoming the most successful venues of prayer for the general populace.'
'Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! I saw them, I saw them! Out in the desert! Zombies! Dead corpses walking around, all headed north to Huzuz. I was on my horse, riding back to Shalazar, and I saw them on the horizon! I swear it! Zombies! Oh my god, I need a drink!'
Schism of the Priestesses
The Great Convocation of the Priesthood has been held, but it has not brought peace nor decision. Lead by the Council of Elders, the priestesses of Shalazar have been unable to decide where they should lead their faithful, nor what is the meaning of the blindness that has struck them. Elder Fasira al Yildun, Elder Lakala al Jerezad and Elder Berah al Hadar have declared that the priestesses may have been blinded, but only to release their vision. They have proclaimed that a new Calipha will be found, and that they are chosen to find her and place her upon the throne to bring healing to the land. Elder Namiha al Yildun, Elder Rebekah al Yildun and Elder Kali al Bookwala have been broken by the loss of Shaliq. They have proclaimed that the priestesses are no longer worthy, and that they should not seek to lead the faithful. Only by looking to the past, and seeking to fulfil the last requests of Calipha Amlatta, do they hope to restore Shaliq. Elder Shala al Yildun has found a third way, and it is one that a number of other priestesses have followed. She died.
Arkan the Noble
Even in the darkest of times, there are occasions for heroism. So it was that during the sacking of Shalazar, Arkan al Fesk, noble of the former Calipha's bodyguard, rallied around him the citizens of Shalazar. At first he had a band; then they grew to a rabble; and finally, he had the makings of a legion. Certainly, this legion was ill-equipped, poorly-trained, and fighting only for their lives, and yet their bravery against the Barbarian invaders was the stuff of legend. Later, Arkan would try to lead this group outside the city to drive back their foes, but here his wisdom proved as great as his courage, for he realised that these men were no match for their tormenters on open ground, and would be cut to ribbons. Still, he maintains a vigilant watch over the domain where the city walls once stood, and those who fought by him remember him, and would rally to him again.
How Did Ghazban Know?
'Oh, the poor Calipha! Cut down by bandits in her
prime! Oh, woe is Shalazar!'
Dragons at Court
'Dragons you say? What, all wings and tails and fiery
breath and being hundreds of feet long?'
'Of course, it was all a conspiracy between Omar, the First Son of the Wolf and the Jade Emperor. Those men couldn't stand seeing an Empress ruling the greatest and most powerful empire in the world, constantly reminding them that women were Shaliq's chosen. They decided they'd rather see the world ruined than suffer such a damper to their masculine pride!'
'You believe Ghazban's story then? I'm surprised, my dear, I thought
you had a slightly more inquiring mind than that. Then again, you've
been so distracted of late I'm not surprised you haven't noticed the
little things I have. Come closer, young one, and I'll tell all.
Grey tower crack widens a little
And from Abib, almost lost amidst war and chaos, comes news that the cracks in the Grey Tower have grown, the largest almost as long as a man's hand. It is as if the damage of the ages, or even of recent days, is finally beginning to bear its mark. The men and women of Abib are fearful of what may emerge...
Melinka Back on the Market, One Previous Engagement, and Blinded by God
The Caliphate's pre-eminent matchmaker may be slipping. Not only did the marriage between Al Phariq and Sharee al Yildun fail with his... ahem... reluctance and her suicide, but indeed now even her own nuptuals have been cancelled. A suitable fee for breaking the engagement has been paid to her groom-to-be's family, and all the proper protocol has been followed. Some say that, what with her blindness as a result of sitting on the Throne of the Rock, that the family was not too upset to see the marriage cancelled...
Death of Emira Sakhara
Shortly after the death of Amlatta, new grieving gripped the house of the Jerezad, as Emira Sakhara was announced dead of a mysterious illness. She had earlier designated that her sister's daughter, Sakima, was to take the mantle of Emira after her, but surely Sakhara had expected this to be several years in the future: Sakima is a child of merely three years. Even during this time of upheaval, the House of the Jerezad waits impatiently to find who shall act as Regent while Sakima grows to adulthood.
Fall of Huzuz
Reports from the front are unclear, but the overall truth is undeniable : Huzuz has fallen to the Jadeites. A steady stream of refugees has been arriving into Amarat, outside of whose walls the armies of the caliphate now camp, seemingly awaiting the ineitable Jadaite attack. Within the marketplaces, stories of cruelty and torture abound, and many ask the question of why the city was so weakly defended. Whatever the details, this latest defeat has conclusively done away with the myth of invincibility that has surrounded the caliphate's armies for so long - it now remains to be seen whether the remnants of its armies can hold Amarat.
Military status update
The Barbarians hold Muna, Gazala and Thaara. The city of Najaah, much fought over, is a smoking ruin, not likely to be inhabitable for a generation. The Jadeites hold Guise and Huzuz. The armies of the Caliphate are split into three: a considerable force, mainly lead by Yildun generals, still fights in Punt, many others are at the walls of Shalazar defending the city against barbarians, but the main of the force is outside Amarat, preparing to stand against the Jade empire lest the routes to the northwest be lost.
Najaah sustained 65,000 casualties. Gazala sustained 200,000 dead, half a million refugees and 300,000 taken into slavery. Half a million died in Shalazar's streets during the attack. A further 200,000 refugees died of starvation in the shantytowns around the city. Guise was wiped out nearly to the last man, almost 100,000 died. 200,000 died in the attack on Huzuz, half a million or so escaped as refugees, and the rest have been taken into slavery.
The Jerezad have lost Huzuz, and are hurting from the loss of almost half their population. Things are not happy in this house.
The Bookwala have weathered the storm fairly well, largely because they were wounded so deeply in the first place.
The Yildun have a new and inexperienced Emira, and their political ties have been called into question with the Schism with the Temple, and the problems at Court.
The Hadar have now definitely lost Gazala, and are restructuring after their new Emira has come into power and their greatest General has been lost.
The Fesk have lost all but three of their cities, and are seriously threatened by the Horse Barbarians.