And another great chapter . You've got nine companions too! Let's hope Ymira doesn't disappear for months like she did with me.
And another great chapter . You've got nine companions too! Let's hope Ymira doesn't disappear for months like she did with me.
This is so frickin`funny. Guess I should play M&B once again.
That has a Pratchett-esque ring to it. Very nicely done.She was obviously one of those particular geniuses, the idiot servants...
I liked her inspirational speech before lifting the siege as well. An interesting mix of encouragement, bullying and outright lies.
Ok, time for a bit of feedback:
TheExecuter - Nice try. Note that there's a special discount of 10% off on the illustrated Collector's Edition for members of the clergy.
Nikolai II - I have no idea what you are talking about. Chapter 9 clearly states that Matheld is the 2nd best warrior and as I am incapable of making elaborate typos, it must clearly have said so from the very beginning. (In other words, good catch). Regarding your second point, if you want to study the full-body illustrations, you'll just have to buy the Collector's Edition just like everybody else.
Monnikje - Disappear as in "not in the party" she certainly has. I've removed her from my party to "study at the university". Should I, to take an example completely at random, need somebody with a degree in economy and domain management sometime down the road, nothing will be easier than grabbing a random traveller, asking him where Ymira is, and go fetch her again. Ymira isn't made for the warriors trade. (She is obviously in the game as fanservice, but given my main character I think I forfeited all right to complain on that account from the start of this narrative).
Stuckenschmidt - if you intend to play warband, be well advised that the kingdom portion of the game is very buggy. Fun, but buggy as hell.
Stuyvesant - I may very well have nicked it from Terry Pratchett or Robert Rankin. It is such an obvious joke that it must have been made many times before and I am quite likely to have come across it in passing. I think of it as me getting a nice idea for a pun while I was writing but, honestly, I probably just remembered it from somewhere else. Ps: Khünbish Jalair would never be caught telling lies when a selective depiction of the truth is so much better and liable to have less severe consequences if challenged. Besides, she's as honest as the day is long. It is hardly her fault that her fate occasionally wills something slightly underhanded.
Rankin! I always had a strong suspicion you had read him! I remember way back that your sig used to bear an uncanny resemblance to the back blurb on They Came And Ate US: Armageddon II The B-Movie ('Watch! Fido the dog do Frankie Howerd imitations!', that kind of thing).
Anyway, I digress... And I apologize for any slight upon the truthful, honest and ethical khünbish Jalair, much put upon by the evils of the world. <Nods nervously>
Oh, yes, and just for the record - from chapter eight and onwards the settings have been "good" campaign/battle AI, full damage to myself and companions, and a battle size of 150.
Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 05-06-2010 at 12:45.
Chapter the Tenth: WAR!
I was not best pleased with how close I had come to lose everything and how I had been forced to risk my life. In retrospect, that too was inevitable, a necessary lesson to learn on my road to greatness, but I found no pleasure in it at the time nor, to be truthful, after reaching that realization later in my life. Hard lessons may be necessary but they are seldom pleasant.
I determined to stand apart from the 387th Rhodok war no longer. I would make the Rhodok nobility rue the day they had chosen to tangle with me! I would crush them and string them up by their guts! I would, well, being a realist I would do no such thing as they were utterly beyond my grasp, but I sure wished to do so. Instead, I would very carefully hit a weakly defended spot, taking advantage of whatever strategic mistakes they might have committed, and secure a limited objective at low cost to myself, embarrassing the Rhodok nobility and gaining the respect of my fellow nobles of the Sarranid Sultanate.
My first target was Jamiche castle, the Rhodok base of operations for their failed attack on my castle of Unuzdaq.
Gathering every trained man who could bear arms except my new Rhodok recruits, I fielded an impressive army of 91 Sarranids warriors, every one of them hot for revenge. There was nary a one who had not lost a friend to the dastardly Rhodok attack and I promised them blood, gold, and vengeance. We struck out for the south-west and a few nights later we came upon an unwary Rhodok noble, who had failed to make Jamiche by nightfall. I charged Rolf with their destruction and, baying like the brigand he always denied being, he led my men into battle and he did so.
Ill Met by Moonlight
I stayed in the rear commanding the army and not running the risk of having my mount break a leg, as too many mounts did that night, while my companions and my warriors slew and slew and slew. When the last enemy fell lifeless to the ground I ordered those taken alive to be enslaved and dragged along as loot as we approached Jamiche castle. Arriving without warning, and with Jamiche castle depleted of most of its defenders to support the attack on Unuzdaq, it fell to a surprise assault the very next morning. To avoid a repeat of the debacle of Asugan I had informed my men that they'd get a pretty free hand with the inhabitants so long as I got a mostly undamaged castle out of it. This was rather rough on the people of Jamiche, nobles and commoners alike, and there were more than one noble lady who that day, upon asking my warriors whether she'd be let free without ransom as was customary, got taken by surprise as she was manhandled and pinned by the blunt end of a Sarranid lance and had to reconsider the philosophical issue of fates worse than death, the latter being the fate reserved to recalcitrant commoners.
It was an ugly business and I cannot say that I enjoyed it but Calradia was a ruthless place in my youth and neither then, nor ever, were I one to gainsay my destiny. I had to prove that I was as ruthless as anybody and I did so; I was determined to make of Jamiche an example that the Rhodok would remember for a long time to come.
As calm fell on Jamiche the following day, my men began preparing the castle for the inevitable counterattack. I hastily penned a message for Sultan Hakim, informing him of the glorious seizure of Jamiche for the Sultanate and asking that it be awarded to me by right of conquest, promising him that, if there should be any problems fulfilling this request, I'd be more than happy to return to Shariz to discuss this in person.
The Sultan's response was prompt. He was unfortunately not receiving any visitors this week as he was exhausted, had a strain in the groin, didn't feel like playing ball, and was drained of his precious bodily fluids from my last visit, but he would of course assign Jamiche castle and village to me by right of conquest, that went without saying, and would I please stay away for a while? He'd make it a royal order if needed, just so long as I let him recover in peace.
Sometimes it is hard to know whether one should feel flattered or incensed, so I sent a sealed letter in return thanking him for his generosity in awarding me Jamiche and sent with it a box containing two melons, an iron rod, and a nutcracker to remind him of what he was missing out on.
Editor's note: The giving of symbolic gifts were to become a hallmark of Jalairian diplomacy. A superb diplomat equipped with an almost divine wit, the unequalled Khünbish Jalair would time and again display her genius by sending gifts, whose true import were only fully understood by the participants in her often very intense and personal diplomacy. Why did Count Nelag faint when she sent him a goat wearing golden trousers and a wool hat? Why did Jarl Thorkil the Skullsplitter die of laughter upon receiving an axe, a glass of pickles, and a trombone? Why did the Tyrant of Suno descend into madness losing all restraint upon receiving half a sausage, a cleaver, a yellow bucket, four apple pies, and thirteen milkmaids tied together in a line with red ribbons singing the Swadian national anthem backwards while bending over forwards with a dwarf tap-dancing under their bosoms singing “I am Harlaus the First, I am!”? Speculation has been rife ever since her day and this editor would do the reader a disservice by speculating himself. Interested readers should be advised that Lord Despin the younger's curious illustrations of the allegedly strangest of her gifts are displayed in the palace of Shariz together with his guesses as to their meanings. They should also be warned that he was a very disturbed young man and his guesses say infinitely more about his tragically twisted sense of propriety than it does about the ineffable Khünbish Jalair.
His illustrations have been reproduced in the collector's edition for the distinguished connoisseur.
I was now the rightful owner of four fiefs on the dangerous Rhodok-Swadian-Sarranid border.
My Emirate, a Shield Against the Rhodok!
The Rhodok warhosts were to strike at Jamiche thrice over the following months before they sued for peace with the Sultanate and every time they were turned back with huge casualties. I was always in the saddle in those days, trading and recruiting from Ahmerrad to Shariz, training my recruits on the way, and never having the time to lay down my burdens or, for that matter, my body, except to sleep, and sleep, while necessary, is a distinctly second rate use of such a marvellous body as mine.
Be that as it may, as the 387th Rhodok war drew to its close at last I had managed to build up a significant army based in Jamiche with considerable reinforcements in Unuzdaq. Maintaining and defending my fiefs had proven most expensive and my funds were running out, but giving up was never an option. Where others would have despaired, I saw opportunity!
While I had been fighting the Rhodok without any support but that of my own army, the Sultanate had been smiting the Khergites and both parties were close to exhaustion. I gathered to me my companions and my 86 best mamlukes, then visited the young nobles with whom I had the best personal relationships. It took remarkably little convincing on my part to get them to follow my tail, so to speak, and all were ready to ride on my command, lances proudly standing to attention. We gathered at Ahmerrad, then swung north past Asugan castle and struck south-west towards Halmar!
We scattered all who came in our way and the Khergites fled at my coming!
On the Road to Halmar
Halmar itself was defended by a mere 280 Khergite warriors, most of them poorly trained. My allies, though hard men in some ways I found not entirely unpleasant, were dreadfully timid in others. When they realized that my plan called for storming Halmar rather than merely having a jolly good campaign, looting villages, ravishing peasant lasses, stealing cattle, and having a good skirmish or two against other nobles, they objected strongly, the cowards.
Attacking a town took five to one odds and we had nowhere near enough men. The casualties would be severe. The gods were against it. Only a proper campaign army led by the marshal stood a chance at taking a town. Perhaps we should besiege the town and throw a party while the inhabitants starved? How about that feast in Shariz? They weren't stupid, mind you, they just had a very different concept of warfare than what I was brought up with, they were young, and I hadn't exactly selected them for their strong minds, ruthlessness, or military skill in the first place. In fact, they were utterly lacking in either and the best that could be said for them was that they were easily dominated.
In the end I told them to keep reinforcements away from the city and instructed my companions to prepare the siege ladders for an assault. We'd go it alone. The mamlukes would take point with my companions egging them on, and I would stay even further back keeping the strategic situation under control and directing the attack. There was a bit of grumbling about that, but Matheld shamed the whiners into silence and I graciously allowed them to redeem themselves by being first up the ladder.
Bravery Under Fire
I shall never forget how the one survivor of the first wave abased himself before me after the attack, praising my magnificence and begging my forgiveness for his rude words. I was pleased to grant him the small boon he asked and directed Lezalit to help find his legs in the heap beneath the ladder.
I was down to my last 3,700 denars before the assault with a weekly payroll of 2,400 denars, but when the killing finally stopped and the smoke cleared from the battlefield my expenses had been halved. I took the steps down from the battlements closely guarded by my companions and with a guard of mamlukes I strode for the palace. Halmar was no mere castle, it was one of the big towns of Calradia, arguably a city, and I had no intention of letting my soldiers run wild until I was certain that all resistance had been crushed.
Marching through the streets, the townsfolk fled as we approached, and I have to say that the taste of fear was sweet indeed. Everything was going according to plan, everything would continue going according to plan, and Halmar would lay supine beneath my mailed boot. I would rule sternly but fairly and all would fear my name!
I really should have known better. Whenever I have started feeling complacency, my destiny has intervened. Sometimes abruptly, violently, and unpleasantly, other times merely surprisingly. And that's when the evil spirits don't intervene. When they do, weirdness multiplies.
In this case we had reached the palace only to discover the killing ground before it defended, not by warriors, but by a group of upwards of a hundred white-clad unarmed civilians. Spotting us, they gave a great cry and my companions readied their weapons – only to gape in astonishment as they civilians abased themselves before us all! In their midst a well-fed merchant stood on a cart chanted an invocation, and the multitudes (well, about a hundred people, but that is a multitude too under the right circumstances) repeated his chant. It went something like “ALL PRAISE... KHÜNBISH! DIVINE.... KHÜNBISH! HAIL THE VIRGIN! KHÜNBISH! VIRGIN OF HALMAR KHÜNBISH! PRAISE HER WITH GREAT PRAISE! KHÜNBISH! THE VIRGIN! KHÜNBISH! THE HOPE ETERNAL! KHÜNBISH!” and it went on and on and on.
For one surrealistic moment I wondered whether they had all been infected by Borcha's madness but even the evil spirits aren't that powerful. Marnid was cracking with laughter, Borcha shouting that the mare of plenty definitely wasn't a virgin, Lezalit trying to keep order in the ranks, Matheld looking as if she had taken a blow to the guts, and Nizar had that preoccupied look that told me that he was memorizing the chant and planning a song or, even worse, a story.
This had to stop, and it had to stop right now. My face flush with embarrassment, I marched towards the crowd with my guards around me and with my hand on my cleaver. I felt a terrible need to kill someone, anyone, to make this stop, but I was the one who was stopped, poleaxed, when I recognized the chanter-in-chief.
It was the merchant from Shariz. The very one who had met me on my first day in Calradia. The one whose brother I had saved. The one who had been exiled for vigilantism. The one who, as I dimly recalled, had had some serious delusions about my character. The one who had been arranging this unwelcome welcoming committee of his fellow merchants, ostensibly to hail the merchant's friend, the “Virgin of Halmar”, as I came into my own, but though he never admitted to it I am of the firm opinion that it was a desperate ploy on his part to save the fortunes of the merchant's guild of Halmar. How did he achieve such a firm grasp on the merchant's guild in such a short time? To this day I do not know. Sheer opportunism, most likely, or perhaps he was a better merchant than I had thought. He certainly was a better politician.
After all, his ploy worked. He and his friends undermined resistance to me in the town and under such circumstances it would not only have been ungrateful not to present a benevolent hand to the town, it would also have been bloody stupid. Rather than a bloody occupation and the iron fist, the “Virgin of Halmar” was generous to the population and saw her will enforced almost before she had to utter a word.
I swear that somewhere the gods are laughing.
It was both deeply satisfying and most vexing at the same time as it was not clear to me whether I was truly in control or whether I was merely being humoured but given the inevitability of a Khergite counter attack I chose to run with it.
My noble allies were impressed beyond words by my accomplishments and obeyed without question when I ordered them to guard Halmar, while I went to Shariz. I had sent a messenger to the Sultan requesting that Halmar should be granted unto me by right of conquest but for a prize of this value I would rather be safe than sorry. Taking only my companions with me, we rode hell for leather to Shariz and well we did so.
Upon arrival I was granted a private audience with the Sultan. He was gracious. He was full of praise. He was amazed by my accomplishments. He admired my resources in taking Halmar. That was much more than any woman could have been expected to do. He praised my blue dress and hoped that I hadn't gotten some shoddy second-hand work like that red shirt I wore when he swore me in, hurr hurr. He hoped I had as much pleasure in inspecting my huge tracts of land as he did. He had, upon due consideration, decided that his friend and marshal, Emir Nuam, were to have Halmar and that was that. He had some hot news that was just quivering to be revealed to his favourite vassal, but his armour was chafing, so perhaps I could help him relax a bit?
It was both tiresome and puerile, but he was the Sultan and that was that. He knew what I wanted and I knew what he wanted but he thought he was wily enough to get what he wanted while feasting on melon, while I got nothing at all but a poor meal and permission to play his flute.
He had seriously underestimated me. I told him to his face that while Emir Nuam was certainly worthy of his regard and the natural choice for so wealthy a fief as the town of Halmar, he was also a feeble old man without the vigour to seize the day, exploit the fertile territory, or pursue aggressive action. I told him that while my first impulse, for we women are impulsive beasts (and I arched my back and purred and his eyes near popped out of his face as my bosom obeyed the strict laws of physics invoked thereby), had been to ask for it for myself, now that I had considered his words closer I had come to the conclusion that there was only one natural choice, but I dare not say it, for he would wax wroth indeed given his preference for Emir Nuam.
It goes without saying that he instructed me to tell him immediately without hesitation. I tossed my head in desperation and twisted my body in anguish at which movement his face contorted and he leaned forwards as his eyes sought to keep track of their primary targets, bouncing merrily to and fro. Mesmerized, he leaned ever closer, and pretty soon his nose was a mere inch from my quivering bosom. He was thus caught utterly by surprise when I straightened out and the brownian movement was replaced by short pendulum swings. As a result he was clubbed in the face first by my right breast then, on the rebound, by the left, ending up with his head firmly caught in the firm wedge between them, which is a considerably trickier maneuver to perform than to describe.
Stunned and at a loss for words, he could nothing but gape when I informed him that based on a rational analysis of all the nobles of his realm, he himself rather than Emir Nuam was the natural choice for the fief of Halmar.
I support YOU 100% for the fief of Halmar, Sire! Errr, Focus, Please!
With half his mind stunned, the other half of his mind couldn't handle this revelation and shut down to protect what little remained of his sanity, which meant that his secondary brain, always willing to usurp the primary as is common in men, seized control. This mind was ever so much easier to direct. I helped him out of his chafing armour, took his couched lance in hand, and allowed him to lay down his burden on the throne-couch. Gripping him with my legs I fed him melons and sweet words and allowed him to forge while the iron was hot. And when he was finally sated and got to his feet, wanting to feed me a sausage and nuts, I slapped his sausage out of the way, gave it a friendly twist, at which he roared, and showed him the nutcracker I had been hiding, at which he whimpered.
His secondary brain shut down at that point.
What remained was a hollow shell of a man operating under the emergency control of the half of his primary brain that was stunned, shocked, and in desperate need of comfort.
So I laid his head on my bosom and sang him to sleep, the big baby. When he awoke a few hours later, I was in my blue dress lying on his couch and he was in his armour sitting at his table. On the table was a document granting me the fief of Halmar, a pen, an inkhouse, and the nutcracker.
Sultan Hakim told me that nothing had happened and I agreed with him. We had had a glass of wine, discussed the state of the realm, and he had sat down to sign the document granting me Halmar by right of conquest. Nothing had, indeed, happened.
I set out for Halmar in high spirits.
Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 11-06-2010 at 02:11.
Pretty well done, gaining a castle and a town! And once again a very funny chapter (especially liking the symbolic gifts).
I notice you've got the battle messages in your screenshots: nowadays during a battle, just before I want to make a screenshot, I hit escape to go to the options, and uncheck all the boxes. I wait until the text has disappeared, go back, make a few screenshots and then put it back on (because I find those messages to be very usefull in battle).
I do so admire Khünbish Jalair's ability to lead almost from the front and inspire her troops. Oh, and others:
Ending up with:It goes without saying that he instructed me to tell him immediately without hesitation. I tossed my head in desperation and twisted my body in anguish at which movement his face contorted... [Etc, etc, etc]
Unorthodox, but certainly successful. And a very nice, (nearly) plausible explanation for that bug.And when he was finally sated and got to his feet, wanting to feed me a sausage and nuts, I slapped his sausage out of the way, gave it a friendly twist, at which he roared, and showed him the nutcracker I had been hiding, at which he whimpered.
Thanks, Monnikje and Stuyvesant. I do wonder with nearly every chapter whether I have finally reached the bottom and written something so puerile that it will stop readers from coming back, but you are proof positive that at least two remain.
Monnikje - thanks for the tip.
Platypus rutilus, in hoc signo vinces - In honorem Paradox!“Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign for a diseased mind!” – Terry Pratchett
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Okay, that does it. I'm moving up a deeply romantic chapter focusing on love, romance, comradeship, factional politics, marriage, feasts, and clinical* descriptions without any naughty bits at all** which was intended for two chapters from now. Definitely time to raise the level, that there be further to fall... errr, or something like that. It'll just require a small change to a few lines in the first paragraphs to make it fit in right here. (A bit like how the list of companions was a piece just waiting for a natural place to be slotted in).
* Depends on the clinic, I guess.
** Arguably. In your dirty minds, everything I write will be misinterpreted by now, I am sure.
Chapter the Eleventh: Prospects
As I was waiting at Halmar for the Khergit counterattack, I found myself with spare time on my hands and nobody to manipulate save my companions, who were used to it, and servants, who were either too stupid to notice or too wise to let on that they noticed.
With the merchant class fawning on me as well, at least in public, and with my army being regretfully off limits – a hand's on approach to stimulate the esprit de corps, making officers rise to the occasion, and to encourage healthy rivalry, had been all well and good when I was merely a nobody with a warband, but it just wouldn't do now that I was recognized as one of the great ladies of the land.
I suppose I could have turned to the priests for entertainment but between Borcha and the merchant of Shariz and their tomfoolery, I was very, very, leery of getting more involved in religious matters than I had already been forced into by mischance.
I tried settling my mind by sparring with my companions, but when I called them to me Marnid and Rolf cried out “ALL PRAISE... KHÜNBISH! DIVINE.... KHÜNBISH! HAIL THE VIRGIN! KHÜNBISH!“ and threw themselves into the dirt before me. Rolf's huge body was shaking with laughter as he attempted to kiss my boots while Marnid, who was obviously the culprit behind this practical joke, kept up the chant, and Nizar played a jaunty little tune on his lute as counterpoint. Lezalit and Borcha were furious, though for very different reasons, but the rest of my companions thought it a splendid joke. Even Old Man Ironguts was affected. A fleeting smile crossed his face and, finding the unfamiliar territory to its liking, decided to camp there for a while.
I kicked Rolf in the face to teach him a lesson or say rather that I tried to. Like the rest of us, he was dressed for war, so my impulsive action resulted in my kicking him in the helmet which rang his head like a bell, at which he laughed even harder.
I stalked off for my chambers, my dignity in tatters. Sometimes you have to know when to call a strategic retreat and this was definitely one of those times. With a final cry of “VIRGIN OF HALMAR!” ringing in my ears, I slammed my door. Marnid's sense of humour was ever inappropriate.
It was thus in a contemplative mood that, as so many other young women before me, my mind turned to marriage.
Gone was the naivety of a few years before. Where once I had innocently planned to marry an old noble, tend to him to the best of my ability, send him to an early but happy death, and then rule with custody over his children from a previous marriage, my experiences with the battle-hardened nobility of Calradia like Emir Hamezan had disclosed the fatal flaws in that plan.
The surviving older nobles of the Sarranid Sultanate were those who had survived the battles and intrigues of their youth. They were those who had put aside sentiment and passion in favour of cold hard steel and the joys of power and had proved that they deserved their place by being harder and more ruthless than their fellows. While they had no objections to younger feminine companionship, they weren't ready to be led in anything, they all had grown heirs, and besides, they all had wives and I had no intention of remaining a mere mistress, being a lady of note in my own right.
Not insurmountable obstacles, one might argue, but climbing into one's bridal bed over the bodies of the groom's family, while a plan not without its attractions, was a plan that might well backfire.
No, if I wanted a useful husband, I would have to train him myself. I'd need somebody old enough to have survived the suicidal and moronic impulses of young men, yet young enough to respond well to domination. Somebody stupid enough that he would be overawed by my superior intellect and look to me for directions, yet clever enough to be capable of acting independently given only loose instructions. Somebody honourable enough not to spend time plotting on his own, yet dishonourable enough to remain useful in my own plots, and finally somebody that the other nobles would listen to as one of their own.
With the significant risk of having him around for a long time if he didn't misstep to a degree requiring replacement, it would in addition be preferable that he be possessed of a decent wit, a great deal of patience, and few perversions disliked by society, not to mention being a hardened warrior, but not one too much in love with his horses, and a respected diplomat, but not one too much in love with his own words.
Somebody who could truly appreciate the supreme image of femininity, which was me, while not being a skirt chaser. The possession of huge tracts of land would be nice but was not imperative as I had enough for both of us. Superior riding skills, stamina, and a loving tongue wouldn't be amiss either.
I was such a romantic at that age.
My girlish visions, however, had some trouble reconciling themselves with the eligible bachelors of the Sarranid nobility. The idea was that I'd provide the brains and my husband to be would provide the balls, so to speak, but the selection wasn't impressive. The first-born sons of the nobility fell naturally into three groups, second or third sons being, of course, completely out of the question.
There were the two I called the “Bathrobe Sages”. Always willing to discuss the decline of imperial power, the rise of the independent kingdoms, and the importance of their own lineages, they were about as boring in person as you can imagine.
Emir Biliya, 25 years old, the son of Emir Dhiyul. A good catch by dynastical standards, his family was the best connected in the Sultanate. Both his uncles, Ghanawa and Nuwas, were Emirs in their own right, as were his cousins Ayyam and Tilimsan. Unfortunately he was well under the thumb of his father and a weakling more interested in philosophy than the battlefield. A seeker of truth, only his family connections kept him from being ostracised from the nobility, a fate much deserved due to his chosen area of study. His tendency of seeking knowledge by knowing any woman he could back up in a corner and get his clammy hands on, willing or otherwise, made him proof in person that even for a wannabe sage, the pen was not always mightier than the sword and in some situations lacked all influence save writing memos after the deed.
He nearly managed to corner me during a feast in Shariz but I managed to distract him with a nearby serving maid as I was stalking other prey that night. She didn't sound entirely unhappy with being caught, though, so who knows what I missed? Either way, dominating his errant sword might be more trouble than it was worth, but it was not an unknown task to me and perhaps I could straighten him out if I took his sword firmly in hand?
Emir Ghulassen, 27 years old. Known for being a bit too friendly with his grooms and playing with dolls, this moronic cretin had informed me during a party in Ahmerrad that, while I was undoubtedly a worthwhile individual in some way he couldn't immediately recognize, he just couldn't be seen in the company of somebody, who so clearly didn't understand his artistic temperament and lacked style.
Besides, he had been awarded my castle of Asugan, an injustice of towering proportions that I was not soon to forget. He was probably impotent to boot – that would explain his atrocious behaviour in full, but I make no accusation.
Then there were the three poseurs who went for the cultured look with flowing robes and terrible hair.
Emir Azadun, 26 years old. An energetic and cultured man, who aspired to be a poet despite an utter lack of ability. A known schemer, but an incompetent one, it was an open secret that he considered himself a misunderstood man of the people and funded primitive revolutionary activities intended to support the plight of the common man against the nobility. In this too he was a mere dabbler and was considered mostly harmless and his treasonous dabbling an eccentricity. An able leader of men in battle, he was always in the forefront of the Sultan's campaigns but had lost more men to disaffection with his speeches than he ever did to enemy action.
Claiming that the soul of poetry was his muse and only companion, he had broken the hearts of several of the daughters of the nobility and was said to be utterly indifferent to the fair sex. Breaking him to the bit might be an entertaining challenge, but did I really want to marry a man primarily known for his utter incompetence?
Emir Lakhem, 26 years old. A romantic fool, you had only to mention his name at a feast to set the hearts of the unmarried ladies aflutter – and some of the married ladies too. Believing himself to be the protagonist of a heroic epic, he attempted to do everything heroically. Unfortunately, neither being a heroic man by nature nor one favoured by destiny, he relied on book-learning to guide him in heroism, with predictable results. His failures were many and varied, but they were almost invariably considered romantic and tragic failures by the ladies of the nobility and some of the more impressionable young men rather than, as would have been more appropriate, the natural outcome of inadequate planning and worse execution.
Always in a mood for fun when he wasn't charging dashingly across the desert on one errand or another for a lady, he was hung like a horse and one of my favourite toys amongst the younger nobility, but his tendency of aiding any unspoiled young maiden with a problem (including, or so it was rumoured, the problem of being an unspoiled young maiden) and his being as dumb as a doorknob reduced his value as husband material. Still, he was a very good rider and might make an excellent puppet, but did this outweigh his substantial downsides?
Emir Muhnir, 25 years old and the son of Emir Atis. An educated man of middling skill, he was in many ways one of the most conventional of the young nobles and certainly the easiest to manipulate. Moderately pleasant, an average warrior, an above-average rider, and with good connections, the main strike against him was his most disturbing boot fetish. Could a woman truly stay sane with a husband who valued her boots higher than her booty? My intuition said no.
The third group were the military midgets, mighty warriors who thought they were strategists of note because they were able to point a hundred men in the same direction and make them charge.
Emir Ayyam, 23 years old. A sheep-faced young daredevil, he spent his life in the saddle eschewing the company of his equals save those attempting to match him in depravity. Living the rough life with his warband, he was never happier than when he was torching a village. Expertly wielding his flaming sword, he was the sort of noble who gave raping, pillaging, and looting a bad name while justifying it with religion. He had recently been overheard telling a village elder he was busy flaying, that “I am the punishment of God...If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you", at which even his fellow hotheads stood aghast.
The foremost member of the dangerous set amongst the young nobility, he was not expected to be long for this world unless he got married to somebody who could absorb most of his restless energy sometimes soon, but even with his status as a scion of the greatest noble family in the realm, who would be crazy enough to marry such a hothead?
Emir Hiwan, 33 years old. The son of Emir Hamezan. He was a disgusting pig of a man, who deserved nothing but a quick death. A morally upstanding member of the aristocracy by reputation, I had cornered him at a feast in Shariz away from the other guests to get to know him better. Following a preliminary chat, I thought he quite fancied me as he took me in his arms, held me close, and carried me to an alcove, but oh, was I ever wrong. I was heating up nicely from such chivalrous treatment, when he informed me in no uncertain terms that while he admired my valour and beauty, he found me to be severely lacking in the virtues of femininity, delicacy, and purity, and he begged my leave to withdraw.
As this upstanding member's upstanding member had breached the gates and was five inches up my keyhole at the time he withdrew in haste, I considered his claim not just hypocritical and proven at least partially wrong by virtue of demonstration, I also took it as a grave insult. Insofar as I hated any of the Sarranid nobility, Emir Hiwan and his father, Emir Hamezan, took pride of place. And I never forget.
Editor's note: Emir Hiwan's deeply rude behaviour demonstrates clearly the decline of chivalry during this rough age. A true cavalier would never offend a lady so, much less the pure of heart and unsullied Lady of Mercy. Only her heroic nature prevented this rank villian's actions from breaking her heart, the only barrier remaining that he had not yet violated or by bypassed by seduction. Typical of her essential goodness, the great-souled Khünbish Jalair made little of this gross affront in her autobiography, though heaven itself must have cried out in vengeance! His capture and subsequent execution on the steps of the great temple in 1268 was surely ordained in the Courts of the Holy, where all important things are decided.
Emir Quryas, 29 years old. An accomplished wastrel and rake who considered murder an art form, he staved off bankruptcy by virtue of being the foremost duellist of the Sarranid Sultanate and, some of his admirers claimed, of all of Calradia. A much-married man, he was widely suspected of complicity in the death of his three first wives. Losing one or two in a few years, well, that could happen to everybody, but losing three in six years and none of them in childbirth, that just reeked of carelessness.... or complicity. While I had employed him with some success in the removal of rival merchants before I was raised to the noble class and his fees were not unreasonable, though he always required payment in coin rather than in kind, and while he was probably the best strategist and tactician of all the young nobles when he could be bothered, and while I certainly didn't object in principle to having a spicy and edgy marriage, marriage to him might be a bit too edgy. Swimming with the sharks is best done armoured or not at all, and swimming in armour carries its own risks.
Emir Tilimsan, 31 years old. The son of Emir Ghanawa, and the third of the terrible cousins, he was cousin to Emirs Ayyam and Biliya and the most conventional of the three, which by no means should be mistaken for normal. I met him under unusual circumstances, which predisposed me against him, but he ever strove to be polite and useful and my opinion of him improved upon closer acquaintance. Our first meeting was not one out of which romances are made, at least not without copious artistic license, but reflection on my mistakes may prove instructive to the careless, for such I was in this instance, though perhaps excusably so under the circumstances.
This was some short time after my introduction to the court but before becoming a sworn vassal of the Sultanate and I was visiting Emir Hamezan in Ahmerrad on my way to Asugan castle and my destiny. I had been entertaining the old goat at a candle-lit dinner for two wearing a rough peasant dress he had had prepared for the occasion and had eaten more than my fill. Upon leaving I had gone to a lonely balcony to empty my stomach. As I was puking my guts out over the side of the balcony in the moonlight, I felt a cold draft of night air as my dress was lifted in one swift movement and I was taken by surprise from behind while rough hands held me down and a handsome voice spoke in my ear, whispering sweet nothings and ordering me to be a good peasant and relax, for he was a nobleman newly back from campaign and I the honoured vessel for his lever, grown hard with disuse on the trail, so he would appreciate me performing to his satisfaction without any unseemly actions that might cause his mighty lever to accidentally tilt me over the edge. With no way to leverage my weak body in opposition to his manly strength and even less of a desire to be recognized or of acting up in a way that would bring others to the scene of my humiliation, I bore the indignity with stoicism as he pounded away, while giving him all the signs of pleasure he expected and plotting my revenge.
Two days later, as he was leaving Ahmerrad for his home, we caught him in ambush outside the town limits, Lezalit, Matheld, Nizar, and I, knocking him off his horse, tying him up, and dragging him off to a ruined fortress close by. Without ever speaking a word, we stripped him of his fine clothes and tied him spreadeagled to an upstanding iron cross near the edge on the roof, leaving him alone to await the coming of nightfall and the chill of the desert night. As darkness fell and the moon rose, I came to the roof dressed in my best noble clothes, wielding a wicked whip and a truly formidable dagger I had bought for the purpose, and after blindfolding him, told him it was time for him to meet his fate as a man. He had maintained an admirably stream of blustering until then, but when I tilted the cross such that nearly half of it was over the edge and he could feel the deep drop beneath him, he screamed once and fell silent. I whipped him a bit, then held my knife to his groin, told him I had been waiting for this, and ordered him to perform to my satisfaction without any unseemly actions or risk being tilted over the edge.
At this he began laughing uncontrollably, loudly and, above all, honestly, much to my surprise, and he rose to the occasion as I had my wicked way with him, sparing him no indignity. The only one of the terrible cousins who was ever able to laugh at himself and see turnabout as fair play, he had a truly wicked sense of humour. When his heat had melted my ice, so to speak, we had a good long talk and I decided to let him live. He was both amusing and competent when you got to know him and in my life I have suffered much worse than being taken for, and as, a peasant, and he was easily guided by one who held the whipping hand, but he was definitely not a good and honest man. Now as well as then, there are too few people like him around for one to kill them off merely for personal pleasure or petty vengeance. So long as they remain under your control, you have a first rate tool, and we were bound by ties of lust and mutual amusement. Respect would come later. My companions were most surprised when I introduced him to them next morning, as they hadn't expected him to live to see the dawn, but in this as in nearly everything else, they obeyed my will and they saw my wisdom as he turned into one of my more reliable and effective tools.
Even so, marriage might merely lead us from ill met by moonlight to star-crossed lovers and from a practical purpose, did I truly want to marry into that mad and bad family?
I am sure there is more than one lesson to be gained from that story, but the one I remember the clearest is to always check your back and take care not to be caught with your rear exposed between a rock and a hardcase.
Editor's note: Emir Tilimsan's behaviour, which was shocking even by the standards of the time and would never happen today as it is certain that no true nobleman would ever so much as think of forcing himself upon an unwilling woman, and which was unforgivable save through the nearly divine ability of the kind-hearted Khünbish Jalair to forgive those who had wronged her, should be seen in the wider perspective of his family history. He was a scion of the most deranged noble family that Calradia ever bred, a family of egotists whose perversions were only limited by their imaginations. Compared with other members of his family such as his third cousin twice removed, the “Forklord of Mazigh” or his deceased grandfather, Ayyam “Decapitator” Nuwas the Apologetic, he was remarkably well-adjusted. For a study of the descent into madness of the lineage of Abdul Alhazred the Moderately Sane, the seminal work is Azadun the younger's slightly sensational work “Alhazred: House of the Afflicted”.
The first two meetings of Emir Tilimsan and Khünbish Jalair were adapted into the famous licentious romantic play, “A Midsummer Night's Scream”, by Nizar the poet during his playwright period in the 1270ies. Nizar took considerable poetic license with the source material and featured the rugged and handsome pirate Robberdock the Ironrod playing opposite the immortal queen of the Gates of Heaven, Melonia, as he strove to find the Key to the Gates of Heaven, that would grant him absolution, only to discover at the end of the first act that he had owned it all along. The fact that it was an adaption rather than an original work and the result of Nizar's fertile mind only became apparent with the later publication of Khünbish Jalair's autobiography, ”The Life and Times of the Unparalleled Khünbish Jalair”. The degree to which Nizar based his play on information received directly from the unrivalled Khünbish Jalair and to which degree he made things up out of whole cloth has been a hotly debated topic amongst the literati ever since, but even the most devoted scholar of literature of the pro-Jalairian school of thought in Nizarian literature must have his moments of doubt late at night, where he pulls out a ruler, measures off 12.6 inches, and begins considering the lever principle and lifting capacity.
So, a challenge to the readers, the answer to be divulged in good time. Which of these splendid young men of the nobility did Khünbish Jalair set her cap for, and why? Did she single out one for her attention and stalk him until she got him or did she divide her attention amongst a smaller group and take the first to fall?
Make your guesses, preferably including a good reasoning for your choice(s) based on Khünbish Jalair's personality as revealed in the first eleven chapters, and make your guesses while they are hot!
Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 13-06-2010 at 13:27.
Well, Tlimsan got the most screen time, making him a prime suspect.
As for wooing - I'd suspect that Khünbish woos them all, just to have some prepared backup in case the first one falls through.
Probably your best update so far, particularly loved the section listing out what Khünbish was looking for in a husband and finally ended with:
As to who she will settle on, let's take a closer look at them compared to her stated requirements. We can rule out the boring Bathrobe duo as Khünbish wants someone with wit and Emir Biliya is also said to be ostracised by the nobilty whilst the only reason Khünbish would look to marry Emir Ghulassen would be if it somehow involved some kind of revenge plot with him dead at the end of it. So anyway let's scratch the Bathrobe boys.Originally Posted by Peter Ebbesen
On to the terrible hair threesome. Emir Azadun is cultured and a schemer, but not an effective one so would offer no danger of plotting against Khünbish without her finding out about it. A man of the people but an ineffective leader sounds like someone Khünbish could manipulate as a puppet pretty easily and perhaps go on to mold his revolutionary activities to something successful. Definate candidate material.
The romantic fool Emir Lakhem also has some potential but not as much I feel as Emir Azadun. Whilst he may ride well I'm not sure he'd be the sort to enter into all the kinds of plotting Khünbish would wish.
So on to Mr Average Emir Muhnir. With no upside or downside Khünbish would get bored with him too easily so let's scratch another one.
Now finally for the military midget brigade. Emir Ayyam sounds a bit too depraved and so fails the perversions test.
Emir Hiwan is clearly ruled out as one of the I never forget gang.
Emir Quryas has to be a possibility, but only an outside one. Having a trained assassin on hand has to have its benefits, but this one sounds too intelligent to be easily manipulated and the marriage might not be physical enough for Khünbish's taste!
Finaly we come to Emir Tilimsan, and there would be a certain perversion if he were the one and he certainly tics many of the boxes. As Nikolai says he also gets the most air time but I don't think we can safely go off that.
Anyway my prediction is either Emir Azadun or Emir Tilimsan.
Realm of the Wolf - A Completed Mount & Blade Warband AAR
Dominions 4 WrinklyToes 3 Nations & Players Here
Unix Proverb "Is |more less or is |less more?"
I have never played this game, but reading your AAR I would guess it japanese?
I don't believe in imaginary property.
The Elves of Space, and Altarian Resistance Galciv2 - Twilight AAR
I'm glad to see Lovecraft get a little love in that update (though not exactly in the usual Khünbish manner - but then, that would be too disturbing).
Well. Erm... Yes. Quite. Indeed. And more non-commital words of that nature....but even the most devoted scholar of literature of the pro-Jalairian school of thought in Nizarian literature must have his moments of doubt late at night, where he pulls out a ruler, measures off 12.6 inches, and begins considering the lever principle and lifting capacity.
As far as the suitors (are they even aware that they are suitors?) go, there are two that I'll place my bets on. I'll forego Tilimsan, as the overall tone of the historical scholarly accounts are a little too negative for my taste. His historical judgment (and that of his family) seems too bad for one who would be Prince Consort to the DIVINE! VIRGIN! KHÜNBISH!
No, instead I'll pick Emir Lakhem. Yes, he's a fool, but he seems to have natural charisma that allows many to overlook or forgive his many shortcomings. That kind of natural charm, guided by the firm hand and sharp mind of our protagonist, could go a long way towards giving Khünbish Jalair access to those things she cannot have, by virtue of being a woman and an outsider. Plus, since he's dumb as a doorknob (such a charming assessment of a person ), Khünbish will never have to worry about watching her back. He'll be a loyal lapdog (hung like a horse) and like any dog, he can be taught all sorts of useful tricks, with enough patience and the proper rewards.
Oh, he also hasn't been picked yet, and it's always nice to pick an outsider.
My other suspect would be Emir Quryas. Yes, he's killed a few previous wives, but I seem to recall Khünbish' estimation of noblewomen was not particularly high, so they were probably too dumb to see it coming. Not only will Khünbish never let it get to that, it is also very likely that Emir Quryas could recognize that she would be a wife who's infinitely more valuable alive than dead.
So there you go, those are my two guesses.
PS: I'm getting heartily sick of that ALT+1+2+9 combo to get the u-umlaut to appear. Thanks a lot for that.