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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....'

'According to Manek, you can go with them, providing of course you join the army. Yeah, pick up a spear, take the oath, sign up and you can go wherever they go. Personally, with all the fighting going on, I'd rather try and get back to Shalazar on my own. I've no wish to tangle with any barbarians or foreign devils or the like!'

[Somewhere on the outskirts of Punt]

'What on Shalazar is that?! Oh no, I didn't believe it when I heard it! It's those Yildun children Autie Fara told us about in her last letter. You know, the ones that went off to kill the pygmies from Shalazar. How did they get this far? They're only kids! Wow... maybe they're truly blessed... Look, there they go. Off to attack the pygmy capital I suppose. Well, good luck to them...'

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]

My brethren in Shaliq, peace be with you:

Our hosts in the Jade Empire wished us to give notice that, while there has been a recent deterioration in mutual understanding between our two nations, that the Emperor still values the traditions of hospitality traditionally shown to members of Court sent in official capacity to the Empire of Jade. We are being treated well and are being allowed such reasonable freedoms as one might expect. The Emperor inquires after the treatment of his ambassadorial staff, and would ask that despite the recent troubles in the Caliphate, that they be shown the courtesy that he would expect of our glorious nation...

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The Grand Vizier Tiral al Abdar has withdrawn the Court from the Pavilion of the Rock, where Omar remains secluded beneath the Dome of Thorns.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the Order of the Burning Sword satisfied--but they are mostly engaged in a hunt for the Calipha's murderers, and have withdrawn from politics.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]

'O come all ye faithful! Yes, right here, save your soul! Own a part of Shalazar history! Thanks be to the generosity and piousness of the Fesk! Here, for a limited time only, genuine pieces of the tunic worn by that corageous hero, Samir al Fesk, as he carried the body of our beloved Calipha, into the city of Shalazar, her final journey. These pieces are guaranteed genuine, on most you can actually see the dried blood of our Calipha soaked into the fabric! Look at these beautiful holy artifacts, madam. Each is contained in it's own beautiful golden locket, each inscribed with a commandment of Shaliq and a verse from the Theopneustic Tomes. How much for these priceless blessed, treasures you ask? Nothing! That's right, nothing! The Fesk ask nothing for these beautiful articles, only that you see clear in your souls to give a donation to us for the Temple and Blind Priestesses Relief Fund. Please give generously, it's for a good cause. Right here today yes, only for the faithful. Makes a lovely present for the husband. Limited stocks only, alright don't crowd, don't crowd...'

[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]

'...she has left us! Shaliq has left us! Whatever you do, do not die! Where will your soul go?! Shaliq doesn't care about your soul! I was one of her most faithful priestesses, yet she struck me blind and has left us alone! She won't care for us now! No-one will care for us now! We are doomed, we are all doomed! Do not die! Do not die! Your soul is worthless! It will be lost! Doomed, we are! Doomed!...'

[Across Shalazar, similar messages of warning are proclaimed by other similarly demoralised, dispossessed priestesses]'

[Overheard from a rather pungent man in a bar]

'Oh, it's disgusting! After the barbarians broke past the walls, there were men falling left and right. Of course, once they were driven back, clean up had to begin, didn't it. All these corpses lying in the streets, some of them were dead even before they got to Shalazar, bleedin' zombies! It weren't hygenic! And of course, some of them got into the water supply, didn't they? So now, we got all these people falling ill, haven't we? It's disgusting! You try working on the sewer clean out team when half the city's got indigestion! It's a plague, I tell you, it's a plague! Do you have any idea how many rats there are down there? Thousands of the buggers! I don't know where they've come from, but they're all feeding on the waste and the blood... that's probably what's brought 'em out of their burrows. But they ain't exactly stemming the tide of raging illness or anything. People have been going down with fleas, sores, fevers. I tell you, it's a busy, busy time to be a doctor or a sewer cleaner in Shalazar!'

'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!'

Hadar Relocate

[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]

'Psst, have you heard? Yeah the Crimson Jackals are looking for some men. Yeah, they're hiring as we speak... yeah I thought you'd be interested... go talk to that guy in the black hood over there. Yeah, put in a good word for me too, would you?'

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.

The Steward was believed to be troubled by the death of the Calipha within the walls of his city, as well as the accusations of necromancy against his general Adsiz al Ash-Kenz, who was found innocent of all charges in the investigation instigated by the Alchemists' Guild in the weeks following the siege of Shalazar by the barbarians. The investigation into the death of the Calipha in the city is still ongoing.

After the burial of the Steward and a meeting of his former advisors, the new Steward of Amarat was named as Adsiz al Ash-kenz. The general is understood to have accepted the position, though he has not yet spoken of whether he is to appoint a new general of the city, or whether he is to remain in the role himself.

'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!'

'Woe indeed! But what I'm wondering is, how did Ghazban know where she was, and why didn't he say anything before? If the Court had only had a little more notice, they could've sent a couple more heroic warriors with him, maybe a few archers, made sure he didn't have to go in alone. The Calipha might still be alive today!'

'You're right, it was a bit odd. Maybe he thought someone else at Court might have been involved in her disappearance, and didn't want to say too much in case her abducter got wind of it and stopped him?'

Dragons at Court

'Dragons you say? What, all wings and tails and fiery breath and being hundreds of feet long?'

'No, they looked just like people, but everyone was saying that they were dragons. Dragons can do that, you know, pretend to be human. Three of them, at the Court just before Melinka al Hadar sat on the Throne.'

'You think they were involved in what went on? Working for Omar, maybe?'

'Doubt it, they didn't even seem that interested. Just cornered some Honourable Messager, asking him about the Bone Dragon's heart. Sounds like they really want it back.'

'Hmm, I wonder what happened to it?'

Chauvinist Plots

'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.

You've heard, of course, that Ghazban commands the Serpent-folk of the south, the demonic fiends that steal people's shapes. Well, what if you were to learn that two days before she disappeared our poor, lost Amlatta decreed that Ghazban's wife would be forgiven? Ah, you had not heard - I'm not surprised, they kept that decree quiet indeed. After all, Amlatta did build her reputation on being, ah, less generous about such things than her predecessors.

It's not too far-fetched to suspect that our dear Ghazban stole away the Calipha himself, and replaced her with a serpentine replica - who perhaps then disappeared once it had completed its task so as to avoid sitting on the Throne, or maybe it was stolen away by those loyal to the real Calipha. Remember, the only living witness to Amlatta's death is Ghazban himself. And how did he come to know that Amlatta was in the City of Flowers? Because he put her there, mayhaps?

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.

Casualty count

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.

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 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.