Aronnax: Thanks! Glad to have you with us!
Range: Thanks. I figured it'd become a bigger and bigger problem for her over time. It's something I'll dwell more on later. BTW, I loved your Yemen AAR.
morningSIDEr: Hey, I was originally going to do an update related to the scandal, but I couldn't find a way to put it in. Shame, you're right, it would have been cool. And yes, the blonde woman will be more prominent very soon.
Beowulf: I can imagine that! Yes, there's a state of the world update coming up when we reach 1500 in...4 posts?
Dewirix: It certainly will. Regarding Devarsi...I can understand his mistrust though. People do tend to fear the unusual and the abnormal.
RAMA I PART 6
The term had not been used for many years. Vijayanagar was a peaceful Kingdom, and deliberately so. Strife and violence had almost destroyed the Kingdom fifty years before, and the overly rapid expansion had brought great dangers as well as great power.
Now the Kingdom marched to war again. The torpor of peace was slowly being shaken off, and soldiers of all sorts were being armed for the coming conflict with Gujarat.
Talena watched as the generals and soldiers marched out of the gate. At their head was Devarsi Malini himself. The young man was now grown up, experienced from his brief campaigns in Orissa, and now the leader of an entire army.
“Talena...she wants to see you.”
Amar was waiting, and Talena followed him inside the sick room. There Imani lay, her face lined and tired. She was clearly near to death, as her breath was coming slowly and hoarsely.
The doctor stood aside as Talena entered. She knelt by the woman who she had met almost fifty years ago. That first day, when the cute African slave girl had shown Talena her rooms now contrasted with the old woman before her now.
“Thank you...Mistress,” Imani whispered to her friend.
“No, thank you for staying all these years. You could have gone anywhere, done anything! Why would you want to stay with someone like me?”
“Because you treated me like a person. Because...being with you reminds me of the past. When I look on you....”
Talena bowed her head and kissed Imani’s hand. “But I can’t save you.”
“Life runs its course, Talena. I think it is a relief in a way. But you have your own path to tread and no one can tread it but you.”
“Life runs its course and ends...except for mine,” Talena said bitterly.
“There must be a higher purpose for you being here. It is God’s will. Goodbye, Talena.”
Talena kissed her friend, and then went outside so that she would be spared the sight of her friend dying. She wanted to cry, but no tears came. She was not holding them back, but they would not come. Her eyes were dry, and in fury she slammed her hand onto the stone banister. To her consternation it cracked.
As she was staring at her hands in shock Amar appeared beside her. “She will be given the best of funerals. What’s wrong?”
“I...nothing.” Talena looked at her hand as the flesh healed again from when she had struck the stone. “What is happening to me?” she wondered. Out of the corner of her eye she was sure she saw a blonde woman briefly before the spectre vanished.
Vijayanagar’s first war in decades was a success, though a lack of training and experience was a key problem. However, the wealth and manpower of the Kingdom allowed many thousands of troops to be dispatched in campaigns to the north.
In a series of battles the states of Gujarat and Rajputana were vassalised by the King, and victories on all fronts ensued. By the middle of 1496 all of India was either under the overlordship of Vijayanagar, an ally or a vassal. It was a startling achievement.
Good news followed domestically as well, with King Rama being provided an heir by his brother, with the new Prince named Srianga. Also of interest were the (relatively) remote islands of the Andamans which were colonised and established as a naval base after several attempts. During the next years it would grow significantly and eventually become a fully fledged province in and of itself.
The news was good, and as King Rama’s 40th jubilee approached, the future seemed golden for the Kingdom....
(I was getting .1 colonists a year, so I figured I may as well colonise something!)