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Turn 9 News
News of the 64th Day of the Shattering
The Military Situation (prior to actions)
The forces of Shalazar have been massing around the city and eastern outpost of Amarat. At present, some 60,000 men from the Calipha's armies backed up by some 40,000 militia guard the northern front of Shalazar. Meanwhile, 120,000 soldiers backed up by 10,000 militia guard Amarat, and some 40,000 of the Calipha's soldiers continue the crusade against pygmies in Punt. There is also loose milita in the other cities of the Caliphate.
[One day, just before dawn, in a market square in the city of Shalazar, the air becomes filled with the sound of grinding metal, curious bubbling, and the repetitive squeaking of something metal being manically polished. Citizens who come out of their homes to investigate discover in a huge set of brass scales newly seated in the formerly clear market square. Children scramble onto the huge brass weighing plates, but they do not move, no matter how much weight is put on them. The general rumour is that it is a folly of a Djinn, though some wonder if there is perhaps some greater purpose lying behind their creation...]
And the kids go marching on...
'Look! It's the Children's crusade! Oh, those brave Yildun children, marching forth to exterminate the pygmies! Good on them! Hang on... what's this? Isn't that general Ghazban? What's he doing? Why's he barring the children's progress?! He's interfering with their holy crusade! How dare he?! Oh wait, oh, oh no, it's alright, here comes the priestess. Yeah, she's having a word... oooh, she's getting a bit agitated... he's backing off... she's speaking to the children a bit... patting a few heads... and they're off again. Oh, that's good. I'm glad. The side of right proceeds unabated. Right, husband, come on, back to work!'
Calls for Assistance
[The call goes out to every city from the protector of Shalazar, Arkan al Fesk, that all shall donate a tenth of their foodstock and water to the city for the relief of the city's growing food and water shortage problems. Those that can attempt to meet the demand, the family of the Fesk doing notably well in this respect, though most cities are either too imbued with problems of their own, or are cut off from the city by the armies of the Jade Empire, or the horse barbarians, to get the relief through.
[Announced throughout the streets of Shalazar and Amarat]
Shalazar Coalition Feeds The Hungry
'Have you heard about this new
The Greening of Elmiyah
The steward of Elmiyah, Sahmid al Jerezad, besides the holy prayer meetings he has organised, has taken it upon himself to aid Shalazar in every way he can. Recognizing that food and water will be a struggle over a few months, he has set up a system of irrigation canals, cisterns, and storehouses in order to maximise the grain output of the city. Certainly his efforts will be a boon to the continuing food supply of Shalazar.
Omar a heretic, shock, horror!
[All over Shalazar, posters begin appearing on walls, boards and public places of note, each with the symbol of the Order of Khal'Nayak, and with a clear message decrying the man calling himself Omar as a heretic. They accuse him of heresy, illegal and heretical usurpation of power, and above all cal for his removal from the throne. Crowds all over Shalazar are incensed by the signs and chanting crowds calling for the death of Omar parade around the palace daily, and anyone voicing support for Omar is instantly set upon and stoned to death for heresy.]
The Third Way Lives--but not for long
'Come sisters! Lend me your ears! Soon the time will come when we shall show Shaliq the extent of our faith! Are you willing to give your life for your faith? Shaliq gave you life, now that we have faltered and lost our way, we must show Shaliq that we are willing to dedicate to her that which she gave us! Join us sisters, pledge your life for the cause, and when the time comes, Shaliq will see the truth and strength of our faith. What is life without Shaliq? Our lowly lives are a small price to pay for the love of our great and glorious Goddess. We have failed Her, now we must right our wrong! Join us sisters!'
Holiday camps for Djinn
Do you know what I saw down the bazaar? There was this ruddy great cloud of dust, whirling and rushing, and people were screaming and getting out of the way - well, it could have been anything couldn't it, these days? Anyway, it turned out to be this ruddy huge djinn of the air waving a parchment and demanding to be told where the games were being held. Yeah, I know, that's what I said, what games? Anyway, it turns out there's this chap who's trying to organise fun competitions for the unemployed djinn. Why? How the hell do I know? Given everything else that's happened I'm thanking Shaliq - may she return - that the djinn are being kept occupied and aren't making things even worse!
Group therapy for God
'Oh, hello. Are you off to the prayer meeting? What do you mean, 'what prayer meeting?' You know, one of those prayer meetings outside the temple, the ones started by Sahmid al Jerezad. You obviously haven't been to one yet. You should try it, you know. For a while, when I went to prayer, no matter how long I prayed, no matter what I did of offered, I always came away feeling kind of... I don't know... empty. It was like no-one was listening to me, like I was just talking to some impenetrable void. But at these meetings, we all pray together. This great atmosphere builds up and I tell you, it makes you feel so much better, being part of a big crowd like that, all with the same purpose. We all chant and sing and pray, and you know everyone around you is listening, even if that's all it is. You know your prayers are being heard. Like I said, you should try it; Shaliq knows where I'd be mentally if I hadn't started going to these meetings.'
'Another toast to Arkan? Yeah, I'll drink to that, but even though he's been doing good work the Vizier won't let him do the one thing which could make Shalazar far more secure - expell that snake of an `ambassador', or even better, string him up. Yeah, so we've got ambassadors over there - if I were them I'd get out as soon as possible, you can't deal with those easterners.'
Tempestuous Travel Troubles
'You're really planning on travelling by
carpet? I wouldn't trust one of them if I was you!'
Zombies to the Rescue!
[It was noted by scouts of the forces at Amarat that a scouting force of thousands of Jade Empire warriors were advancing towards Amarat, with intent of assessing the defences of the city and perhaps set up an advance camp. The forces advanced, the city's defences dug in, prepared to repel the aggressors, but before their eyes from beneath the sands rose a force of undead soldiers. The walking dead moved against the Jade warriors, and after a fierce battle repelled them back into the desert from whence they had emerged. Some wonder if these were the same undead who fought for Shalazar at during the first attack by the horse barbarians, or those that were seen marching north in the desert. Few feel comfortable with relying on such unholy creatures for their security, but in these dangerous times survival is paramount.]
Well, you can't spell Amarat without...
[Spoken by a mad rat-catcher in Amarat]
Jerezad supporting armies of Shalazar
Some 20,000 Jerezad soldiers and militia poured into Shalazar last week, bolstering the city's defences.
'Beautiful statue, innit?'
When All Else Fails, Invade Elmiyah
[Towards the end of the month, a significant army marching under the banner of Emira Yamada of the Bookwala seizes control of the city of Elmiyah. Had Steward Sahmid al Jerezad not sent most of his troops to Shalazar to defend that city, it is unlikely she would have been able to seize it. Rumour claims they were supported by a popular uprising, but the Jerezad dispute this. The former Steward has been removed from his position and sent back to Shalazar; in the ensuing conflict, most of Sahmid's agricultural improvements have been destroyed.]
The palace is an eerie place thse days. Many corridors are empty, many rooms deserted. Much of the palace has been destroyed, and many of the courtiers are fled. The Grand Vizier and his assistants still inhabit their wing, and that part of the palace is filled with activity. Even late at night, lights still flicker in some of the windows, as the eunuchs work ceaselessly to restore order.
Yildun return but not the children
A few days ago, some 10,000 Yildun militia and soldiers made their way from Punt to Amarat to bolster the city's defence in expectation of a Jadaite attack. They were welcomed into the city amidst a cacophony of cheers, although it was noted that there was no sign of the children's crusade returning.
Exultation of the Faithful
The pious of Shalazar have seen their faith rewarded. After many weeks of hopeless prayer, with no response save echoes in the hollowness of their hearts, their massed gathering was graced with a vision of Shaliq herself. A figure of blazingly beautiful light, radiating peace and hope, appeared before the gathering at the height of their prayers, and spoke to them, proclaiming 'I am your True Creator. All should bow before me.' Then it vanished, leaving behind footprints outlined in gold, melted into the stones of the square, and a sweet smell of flowers.
Tsu-Yang The Evil Sent Home
'A cursed letter?'
'Look, mate, the world isn't going to end. Sure, lots of things are going wrong, but a lot of people are trying to put things back together again. There's all sorts of charity events from the great and the good, and maybe those prayer meetings will come to something. Who knows? Maybe they'll bring Shaliq back. Sure, it looks dark, but Shalazar has always been a beacon of hope, a triumph of faith, and a convocation of heroes--should we expect any less now?
The Jerezad have been kicked while they were down. Not only have Guise and Huzuz been stripped from their grasp, but the Bookwala seem to have taken this as their time to settle old scores. Significantly weakened, and with most of their homelands near the battlelines, for the first time they seem more vulnerable than their old foes.
The Bookwala may now have the upper hand in terms of raw power, but their blatant refusal to put Shalazar first will not have made them popular. There are those who whisper that perhaps the Bookwala stronghold of Amarat should be left to fend for itself--and not just among angry Jerezad.
The Yildun are materially the most blessed of the houses at the moment, their remote location meaning that their lands are relatively untouched. Nonetheless, while Huzuz lies in enemy hands, their cities are cut off to trade.
The Hadar are beginning to rebuild themselves, and Tobrukh is becoming the island to which many refugees are making travel plans...
The Fesk have been much reduced, but have favoured themselves in the eyes of the people through generous contributions of food and aid. Though it is they who have lost most in the attacks of the Horse Barbarians, it has not blunted their patriotic spirit or generousity.