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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Chapter XIV - The Mystic from Murcia

ibicko

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Chapter XIV - The Mystic from Murcia (1191-1207)

With Sicily secure and the Hayyid realm expanding further and further beyond its original Iberian confines, it was important for the Sultan to maintain a sturdy hand over his subjects and personal lands. Thanks to the great prestige Abu-Bakr had garnered throughout his reign, the realm’s subjects were more than happy to sign over more of their personal liberties to keep the realm prospering. A more centralised realm the Hayyid Sultanate was becoming.

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But this did not go down well with the newly conquered territories. The Emir of Sicily who had been transplanted into the Hayyid realm against his own will was not about to bow down to some infidel. When news reached Sicily that Abu-Bakr had ordered the Orthodox Emir’s imprisonment, the ruler raised his banners hoping to resist Hayyid domination of his lands.

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But when Abu-Bakr’s ships once again turned up on Sicily’s shores, the Emir was quick to bolt. Hoping to escape back Greece, the Sultan’s lieutenants apprehended the traitor before he could jump ashore. A nice, dark and dingy prison cell awaited Kosmos once he was in the custody of the Sultan.

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In his place, Abu-Bakr appointed Chrysogonos Dokeianos a local noble of Magna-Graecian descent. Importantly, Chrysogonos was a pious Sunni Muslim. Not only would this new ruler be able to oversee the conversion of the region to Islam, but his cultural background would also endear him to the local population.

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With peace now restored foreign affairs once more took centre stage. In the east, the great Cuman-Kipchak confederation had conquered the decaying and divided Kievan Rus. Khan Uzur would soon declare himself King of the Rus, settling his own people within the confines of the realm and abandoning their nomadic ways.

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But a matter of great importance was also taking place to the south. A civil war had broken out within the Almoravid Sultanate, greatly weakening the Hayyid’s southern neighbour. Long had Abu-Bakr’s descendants pestered the Almoravids for an alliance to fend off the Christians, but it seemed now the rulers of Marrakesh were intent on making themselves enemies of Córdoba. With their realm now at loggerheads with itself, it was the perfect opportunity for Abu-Bakr to push them out of Iberia. War was declared for control over Seville.

20,000 troops should be more than enough to push the Almoravids out of Iberia. Any army crossing over from the Maghreb would never be able to organise fast enough to defend against the Hayyid defenders. The Hayyid army led by Commander Musa burst into Seville, putting the Almoravid defenders to the sword and placing the city with its rightful rulers.

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Abu-Bakr’s attention then turned to more internal matters. A new court physician would be required less the royal family or anyone at court became struck down by a major ailment. After a string of contenders for the position proved themselves inadequate despite their great education from Córdoba’s new university; the Sultan sent word out to the provinces that their ruler was looking for a skilled medicus. News soon came back of a mysterious blind hermit named Balashk who resided somewhere within the hills near Murcia. Stories from local villagers suggested the man was blessed by Allah himself and could cure all sorts of diseases, even bringing one boy back from the brink of death. Other tales however, talked of an evil man, cursed by the Shaitan. There was only one way to settle this matter. Abu-Bakr would interview the man in person. The hermit was uprooted (against his own will) from his hillside shack to the more civilised residences of Córdoba. The Sultan entered into a long discussion with the man about his practices and healing experience. At first, Abu-Bakr was not convinced. The man kept babbling on about “the stars” or other such nonsense, but soon the Sultan’s opinion changed. He wasn’t quite sure why, but it was as though some outside force was compelling him to employ the hermit. Before he knew it, Abu-Bakr had agreed to make Balashk his Court Physician. The Sultan spent the next few days pondering exactly why and how he had agreed to do so.



Another matter of internal concern for Abu-Bakr were the crownlands of the Hayyid Sultanate. Currently, those lands comprised the Emirates of Córdoba and Granada along with the Sheikhdom of Almansa. Yet the Sheikhdom of Calatrava, part of the de jure Córdoban Emirate remained outside of the Sultan’s direct rule. With the growing centralization, the realm now enjoyed Abu-Bakr would be more than capable of controlling the province. With a number of vicious rumours about Sheikh Adfuns swirling around court, Abu-Bakr elects to suggest a fatwa be issued against the Sheikh.

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Sure enough, Court Imam Abdul-Aziz was more than happy to grant the Sultan’s request. Calatrava now joined the rest of the crownland provinces.

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However, the situation in the rest of Iberia was moving quickly. Rebellions and wars had engulfed almost all of the Christian states but most notably the Kingdom of Navarra had gained independence from Castile and held control over the prized city of Lisbon. The jewel of a city saw trade flow in from both north and south. Ships from as far as Novgorod and Constantinople docked in its ports. The Hayyid realm still hadn’t exactly recovered from the banishment of the Jews, but this could be an opportunity to refill the coffers through taxation on trade.

There was however, the small matter of the Treaty of the Pyrenees. It would take some tricky diplomacy skill for Abu-Bakr to justify his conquest with the agreement still in place, no matter how precarious it may be. But the answer was staring the Sultan in the face. The treaty had been between the Kingdoms of Galicia, León, Castile, Aragon, France, and the Hayyid Sultanate. Navarra was not independent at the time and as such the conquest of its lands did not contravene the agreement. This perspective was not shared with the other rulers who denounced the invasion. But with problems of their own, there was little they could do to resist. To them, the Treaty of the Pyrenees was now nought more than a scrap of paper. Abu-Bakr had proven himself a deceitful and spineless ruler. They would be preparing their arms once their own struggles were over.

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As for Abu-Bakr, his forces were already on their way to Lisbon. With Navarra having spent most of its soldiers resisting the Castilians this wouldn't be much of a fight if any. At most, the Navarrese could muster 1,820 troops, nowhere near enough to resist the Hayyids. Lisbon quickly fell, annexed into Abu-Bakr’s domain.

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On returning home to the Palace of Córdoba however, Mundir was greeted with a hamper basket. The guards brought it up the Sultan’s room, and as Abu-Bakr removed the cloth covering he was in for quite a surprise…

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The Hashshashin! Their mark was undeniable. But why would they do this? Who ordered them to kill one of the realm’s foremost vassals? And why deliver the head to me, Mundir thought to himself. There was only one possible answer. This was a message. And he was next. The only question was who put them up to this?

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Rumours of the assassins operating in Andalusia had been rife for some time. You heard things, disappearances, shadows, whispers of figures listening in from hay bales or rooftops. But there was never any evidence of their presence. Until now. The Hashshashin had revealed themselves to Abu-Bakr, this meant they were confident. Did the Christians contract them, as revenge for breaking the treaty? No, the assassins don’t work with Christians, do they? The work of a vassal, a pretender? Abu-Bakr could never be sure. His paranoia had begun to grow.

Several days later during an afternoon stroll in the palace gardens with one of his courtiers Farida, Abu-Bakr was about to take a dance with death. It all happened so fast. First, it was a glint of sunlight in the distance and Farida fell down clutching her throat. The guards quickly pulled the Sultan to one side, but by then the robed figure had made off, clambering over the palace walls.

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After that incident Abu-Bakr barely left the palace, an armed escort was within his presence at every waking hour. But soon the Sultan fell ill. A neverending tiredness seemed to grip his body and later a fever. Poison was his first thought. But no, that’s not the assassin’s style he thought. They only use the blade.

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Upon consulting with Court Physician Balashk the mystic believed Abu-Bakr to be suffering from rabies. “But I haven’t been out or near animals in months, how could it be rabies?!?” The Sultan exclaimed. The mystic relented. The stars he said.
“The stars spoke my Lord. They speak the truth.”

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The blind man said he knew what he had to do. He only needed the Sultan’s permission. With assassins eyeing his every move and insidious eyes all-around court Abu-Bakr was sure his condition was life-threatening. As far as the Sultan was concerned, whatever Balashk had to do, he should do it.

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Three days later as night fell over Córdoba Abu-Bakr was summoned to the mystic’s chamber. The room was caked in the oozing black of night, with a tiny flickering candle providing the only light. Not even the moon shone through the open window. An eerie silence fell over the room as Balashk entered, he gestured towards a rickety chair positioned in the middle of the room and the Sultan sat. The mystic proceeded to take a small bottle of black oil from a nearby table and proceeded to coat Abu-Bakr’s nails with the substance.
“Are you sure you know what you are doing?” Asked the Sultan.
“The stars. They speak,” replied the mystic. “All will be well. We shall cleanse the sin away. Now close your eyes.”
As Abu-Bakr’s eyes closed it was as though the world around him froze. A chilling cold crept up his spine and he was left with nought but the sounds of footsteps on the rickety floorboards. He tried to open his eyes again, but it was as though there was a force stopping him.
He soon felt a faint heat near his hand, growing stronger. Soon it became unbearable. Sweat poured from Abu-Bakr’s brow as he let out a wail of pain.
“LET ME OUT OF HERE!”
“Do not fret, my Lord. By the wisdom of Allah, you shall be cleansed!”

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ibicko

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Hello all, I hope everybody is enjoying CK3 as much as I am (at least those of you who have the game).

I imagine that activity on this forum will begin to dwindle a little now the new game is out, but we will be continuing this campaign (no matter how tempted I am to make a CK3 AAR).
We still have around 240 years and 4 Acts of varying length to go before we start EU4, but I can confirm I have finished playing the campaign and only have the writing to complete now. In addition, I have also begun work on the conversion for the next chapter and I think I have a clear idea who we will be playing within the next entry.

Thank you to those who have stuck around this long, it's your comments that keep me going each week!
Now if you excuse me, I've got some pagans to go and conquer.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Fighting pagans is always fun.
 
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Nice to know that this AAR is staying alive...

Well, the Sultan is dead, but Sicily will likely be pacified.

The realm might be in grave danger, though. If the Christians ally with each other...
 
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Idhrendur

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I fell behind, but I am still reading and so I'm glad to hear you've got things planned out.
 
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No worries :)
 
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Chapter XV - The Party of Ali

ibicko

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Chapter XV - The Party of Ali (1207-1219)

“The deed is done.”
“Good. Your payment. I trust there were no complications?”
“Only his vociferous yelling. Not that anyone but I could hear it.”


With the mysterious death of the great Sultan Abu-Bakr, it was his son Umar, aged 34, who inherited the Hayyid Sultanate. A keen warrior brought up on stories of his father’s conquests, Umar was sure to seek to emulate his father’s victories, or perhaps even better them…

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Yet something was different about Umar. His observance of the religious services of the realm was noticeably more low-key relative to his predecessor. Though many chalked this down to Umar being a more cynical character relative to his father, this was far from reality. Umar was secretly a Shia Muslim, and a member of Party of Ali a secret underground Shiite group dedicated to the installation of their branch of Islam within the Hayyid Sultanate.

The group had already infiltrated the Hayyid court, bringing several courtiers and important vassals to their cause. Indoctrinating Umar Hayyid was their greatest triumph yet. But as Abu-Bakr clung onto the throne and basked in the prestige brought about through his North-African conquests, Umar grew older and older, moving further from the reigns of power. Direct action needed to be taken. Accidents were arranged, assassins were hired, and when they failed a blind mystic, still aggrieved from being transposed from his humble shack in Murcia to court was convinced to do the deed.

But with the realm at their fingertips, the Shia faithful would need to tread even more carefully now. In the limelight, it would be much easier to be exposed. Now was not the time to declare their allegiances, they had to bide their time.

But first, they had to ensure that they could hold onto their position and that meant inducting Umar’s heir into their ranks. Umar’s heir Abu-Bakr was but a boy of ten, still an unruly child with little real knowledge of religion. This would be the perfect opportunity for Umar to teach his sons the real one-true-faith.

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But when the Sultan began his personal one-to-one sessions with the boy, he would not listen. The boy was not interested at all, constantly squirming in his seat, huffing in boredom. It was clear that Umar’s lectures were not getting through to the child. But the Sultan committed to one last try with a new approach.

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With a more relaxed, conversational approach Umar was able to engage with his son. Umar told Abu-Bakr how evil men had twisted the will of the prophet Muhammad, neglecting his chosen successor Ali, instead electing one of their own. Umar told his son how it was important to be loyal to Ali, but keep it a secret as the evil men are still out there and could even steal his birthright when Umar was gone. Abu-Bakr, not entirely understanding the irony of his own name, agreed with his father and was soon on the path to becoming a righteous Shia Muslim.

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With his son converted Umar gained a great deal of confidence. Believing his cause to be righteous he promised his brothers within the Party of Ali that he would do all he could expand Shia Islam’s reach within Andalusia and when the time was right, that they would reveal themselves.

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But before he could do that, Umar had to ensure he was in a strong enough position for his leadership to not be challenged. He would have to make a name for himself through conquest or other means. An opportunity would soon appear in the form of rumours of the famed White Stag. Nearly 40 years prior, Umar’s great-grandfather Hakam ‘the Hunter’ led a fruitless search for the beat, but if Umar were to be successful in capturing the stag… The Sultan’s horses were soon readied for a hunt.

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For nearly a month the party scoured the countryside near Turtusha making little progress on their way. Believing the size of the hunting party to be responsible for scaring away the beat Umar abandoned the group to set out on a personal hunt. After days of solo searching, the Sultan was about to give up when he came across an isolated cottage in the hills. Seeking shelter Umar knocked on the door only to be greeted by a beautiful young woman named Suraya. Having been invited to stay the night, and having no luck on his hunt, Umar chose to spend the rest of his time out in the warm embrace of a woman.
Come morning it was time for the Sultan to return to court, but with Suraya requesting his presence for a few more hours, Umar brought his lover with him back to court. He may not have found the white stag out in the countryside, but the Sultan was sure to bring back a prize of his own.

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And soon enough Suraya would be with Umar’s child. It seemed Umar’s dalliances in the woods had yielded another surprise. With a child on the way and with a woman he truly loved, Umar chose to make Suraya his wife, his previous brides had never been married for love, only political alliances and reasons of state; this was different, Umar had found happiness.

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Yet once back home the Sultan’s attention soon returned to the affairs of state. In Egypt and the Levant, the Fatimid revival had been short-lived. Rebellions had engulfed the Caliphate, freeing much of Egypt and Jerusalem from their rule.

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Reports from the Marshals and Commanders of the realm did not yield good news. Since the banishment of the Jews under Umar’s predecessor, the Hayyid military had begun to suffer. The administrative ability of the army had been considerably hampered. Weapons, armour, and boots were in short supply and the army’s budget was out of control. Nobody knew where the money was going and the men keeping track of supply were understaffed and poor with numbers.

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To distract attention away from this concerning development, Umar elected to wage a war with Galicia for control over Portucale. Gold and weapons could be captured as some spoils of war. Whilst Umar’s war would undoubtedly break the Treaty of the Pyrenees signed under his father, that agreement meant little these days. All parties knew it had outlived its usefulness and that the Hayyids could not be trusted to uphold their side of the bargain. But to Umar, this was a defensive struggle. For the Duke of Portucale had seen how the tide in Iberia was turning and had personally converted to Islam. This was a war to free him from the tyrannical King of Galicia.

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The troops were mobilised and marched straight for Porto. Over the coming days, the surrounding region would fall to the Hayyids, and though the Catholic allies of Galicia did their best to resist, nothing could stop the Hayyid war-machine, no matter how badly managed it had become.

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Yet, the Sultan soon received a note whilst out on the battlefield from Suraya no less. The omens were bad, terrible luck had beset her, the stars were not aligned and all signs were pointing to a difficult pregnancy. Fearing for his wife and unborn child, Umar dropped everything and rushed back to Córdoba to be with his love.

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Fortunately, the military campaign continued smoothly despite the Sultan’s absence. Portucale had been freed. A close battle at Bragança was enough for the enemy to concede defeat. In the peace negotiations, the King of Galicia also announced his intentions to convert to Islam in the vain hope that he would be placed under Hayyid protection and spared the conquest of his remaining lands.

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Back at court, Suraya was undergoing treatment, comforted by her husband. Though she had given birth to a son named Abbad the boy was weak and sickly, but her condition was worse. Umar pleaded with his Court Physician to do everything in his power to save his wife.

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But the Sultan’s woes were only beginning. With Abbad only clinging to his life, one of Umar’s other wives Pourandokht had killed him, jealous of Suraya’s growing influence at court. If not for a guard who had overhead the commotion coming out of the infant's room, she would have gotten away with it. A quick death was not enough for this woman. She would be thrown in the oubliette. She would have to suffer for her crimes.
And only days later Suraya, Umar’s one and only love in this world passed. Nought was left but the memory of her. The Sultan spent nearly a month in isolation as he mourned her passing.

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Not all is going well for Umar. I imagine he will throw himself even more into the project to convert the realm to the Shia path.
 

BlackBarook

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A secret Shiite in power? God help the Sunnis of Andalusia through this ordeal. May he expand the Dar-al-Islam in Iberia, but die before he could corrupt it with his heresy.
 

Nikolai

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Such a tragic loss...
 

HistoryDude

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The Shia are spreading...

Surprised the vassals didn't complain about his lover becoming his wife...

The unrest in the Middle East surely lends itself to a Byzantine restoration?

Also, the King of Galicia will lose his throne soon...
 
Chapter XVI - Beyond the Mountains

ibicko

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Chapter XVI - Beyond the Mountains (1219-1228)

Nobody but his closest servants had seen the Sultan for nearly a week. Questions were starting to be asked. Rumours were swirling. But during prayer at the Mosque of Córdoba, a mysterious cloaked man appeared, kneeling beside Abu-Bakr, heir to the realm. After the service, he took the young lord to one side.
“Father! It’s you!” Exclaimed Abu-Bakr.
“Yes my son, I have returned. And now it is time for you to join us.”
With Abu-Bakr’s coming of age the Party of Ali had gained a new member and its status within the Hayyid realm was growing by the day.

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Having spent considerable time mourning the loss of his beloved Umar had returned from his leave of absence with a new sense of vigour. Knowing that he could never replace the gap in his heart Suraya had taken up, all his energy was now directed towards the affairs of state and the interests of the Party of Ali. Chief among the Sultan’s goals was now the eradication of the Christian states of Iberia. For too long the rulers of Andalusia had tolerated their presence north of the Sistema Central, but that was all about to change. One by one they would fall. War was declared on the Dual Monarchy for control over León.

Mere days later, however, the Christian Pope declared his intention to launch a Crusade on the ailing Fatimids for Egypt. Had the Christians played directly into Hayyid hands by diverting their attention eastwards?

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It certainly didn’t seem that way however as both Aragon and the Holy Roman Empire threw their lot behind the Franco-English crown. This war was about to get messy.
Though the numbers may have been in favour of the Christian alliance, the Hayyids possessed a powerful force in their own right. With 30,000 troops now at their disposal, Umar should possess superiority on the peninsula for the time being.
French troops were the first to arrive, laying siege to Seville. But they would quickly be routed as the Hayyid force moved north to press their claims.

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By September though Christian numbers were increasing. The Aragonese were at La Mancha whilst around 20,000 Franco-English troops were scattered across the Mediterranean coast. Fearing the division of the Hayyid armies, Umar orders his entire force to combine whilst hitting the Aragonese at La Roda.

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With the Aragonese in retreat, it was easy pickings for the Hayyids to take on the divided forces of the Dual Monarchy. Soon near all enemy forces would be pushed out of Iberia allowing the Sultan to focus his efforts on León.

By July of 1218 however, reinforcements had arrived 15,000 English troops descended upon Salamanca, led by the Franco-English King himself. Reinforcements from the north hastily made their way to the battle in an effort to bolster the faltering Hayyid lines.

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The reinforcements arrived just in time. The first German army had just entered León and would have turned the tide had the English been able to hang on just a little longer. What’s more, the Franco-English Matias had been mortally wounded in the battle and rushed back home. Days later the news would break that Matias’ mangled body gave up, leaving behind his one-year-old son on the throne of France and England.

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With the Dual Monarchy now in disarray at the death of their monarch a prolonged war was the last thing they needed. León was now Hayyid territory.

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Unfortunately, it seemed despite the Iberian distraction, the Crusaders had succeeded in reclaiming Egypt. It would seem that if Egypt was to remain in Muslim hands it would need to be under Hayyid control.

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Back in Córdoba however the city’s university was coming along rather well. Hundreds of students now graced its halls to study all manner of subjects from theology to natural philosophy. The rising prestige and success of the institution led the Sultan to authorise its further expansion.

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Yet as the Sultan settled back into life away from the battlefield his attention had increasingly turned away from the affairs of state and onto another target. Since Suraya’s death, Umar’s heart had never been the same. He could not even contemplate the idea of sharing a bed with another woman...but that was all about to change.

Following the death of the Sunni Duke of Portucale, the lands around Porto had come under the ownership of a new ruler, but this one was not like the others...for they were a woman. Whilst the Portucalese Duke may have converted to Islam, his realm’s inheritance laws remained unchanged and so it was perfectly legal for a female to inherit in contrast with the rest of the Hayyid realm. The new Duchess Urraca had skillfully outmanoeuvred her opponents through a mix of guile, bribery, and intrigue, ensuring that she would inherit her birthright from her father. If this strong, independent woman was not enough to catch the Sultan’s eye, then perhaps rumours of her infatuation would…

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Umar hadn’t felt a rush like this since...since Suraya. Things only got more intense as Urraca visited the court at Córdoba, Umar couldn’t help but blush whenever he saw the Duchess. After a chance meeting in the kitchen and a long night of conversation, the Sultan couldn’t hope to resist. Suraya was long forgotten in his mind.

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But soon rumours of the Sultan’s affair began to spread around the court. It was far too obvious to deny. When Urraca was confirmed pregnant much of the Hayyid inner court knew the child was Umar's. And when Vasco Umares was inevitably born he was the spitting image of his father. There was no passing off this child as somebody else’s.

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With the affair the talk of the court, a number of vassals such as Bilal II seeking to use the Sultan’s dalliances as blackmail. Furthermore, Urraca herself was pushing for greater influence and status. There was only one thing for it, Umar would have to wed his lover. Things got infinitely easier once Urraca’s original husband mysteriously vanished without a trace...

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With Urraca now wife of the Sultan, Umar sought to bring her into the Shia fold, but it seemed she was not at all interested in joining the Party of Ali.

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However, she was clearly interested in aiding her husband’s conquest of the Iberian peninsula as her forces were able to vanquish the last vestiges of the Kingdom of Galicia. Though Umar poured praise upon his new wife a number of the realm’s vassals were now looking upon Urraca with suspicion. How could this woman have equal status?!? To them it was obvious she was some form of a temptress who held the Sultan under her spell. She had to be removed.

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However, not to be outdone by his own wife, Umar announced his intention to launch a joint invasion of both Castile and Navarra. Both realms would fall under the Hayyid sword. Though it seemed the Christians had joined in a coalition in a vain effort to prevent total Hayyid domination of the region. The Aragonese and Knights Templar and of Calatrava joined the fray. Just more bodies to put to the sword!

The Templars would be the first to fall at Toro and it seemed the King of Aragon had ridden out with them. A poor decision as the Catalan King would soon find himself captured and thrown into Umar’s dungeon.

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The Castilians were next to fall at Valencia. The clash of steel reigned night after night as 20,000 Hayyid soldiers duked it out with 15,000 Castilians, ultimately there would only be one winner though.

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In the midst of all this, one of the Sultan’s vassals, the Siddrayid Emir had succeeded in pushing the Almoravids out of Iberia for good. Clearly, the Emir was looking to gain favour with the Sultan by emulating Urraca’s victory within the north.

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As for the Navarrese they had pinned their hopes on the Knights of Calatrava. Their small realm proved unable to field sufficient troops to defend against the Hayyids, and whilst the Calatravans held a sizeable force of their own it was no match for the Hayyids. Their conquest was complete.

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With the realms of Galicia, León, Castile, and Navarra now thrown to the wayside only the Aragonese, firmly under the protection of the Dual Monarchy, remained. Nevertheless, Umar’s uncontested dominance of Iberia was now affirmed. In 1228 Umar elected to present himself with new honours and a new title. He may no longer have been Sultan Umar, but now he was the Badshah ruler of all Al-Andalus!

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Map of the known world circa 1228:

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stnylan

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The Hayyids do seem to be the Muslims with any consistent record of success against the Christian foe.
 
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HistoryDude

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The Hayyids are doing well.

Urraca is indeed a good seductress... I wonder what her goals are?
 
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Midnite Duke

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Have you ever killed the white stag? I got the Great Hunter achievement for killing a large white bear in Arctic Russia. What is so great about killing a large Polar Bear in a land where polar bears outnumber people?
 
Chapter XVII - The Great Reconquest

ibicko

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Chapter XVII - The Great Reconquest (1228-1233)

With Umar’s wars of conquest having ended in victory, the Badshah’s attention now turned to matters of court. The holy month of Ramadan was upon us and thus a month of fasting during daylight was in order. Yet this year something was off. Umar had become increasingly ill during the holy month. The Badshah was constantly clutching at his abdomen. Though the ill are of course exempt from fasting, in an ill-conceived display of piety Umar chose to continue with his observation of the month.

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Over time this only made the situation worse. Court Physician Amr didn’t believe the lack of food to be the issue however, and would prescribe an even more strict abstinence from food for three days. Ultimately though Amr’s prescription did little to aid the Badshah’s misery and soon Umar was spending almost every waking hour on the privy.

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When the festival of Eid was upon the realm Umar was not permitted to join the feast, instead, he would spend the day stuck in the Physician’s quarters chowing-down on a charred cat carcass. Lovely.
Fortunately, the less-than-appetising meal was worth it in the end as the Badshah’s ailments soon disappeared.

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But where one issue had vanished, two more had taken its place. One of Umar’s wives Massa had perished in mysterious circumstances. Much of the court put the blame on Urraca, but Umar was defiant in the defence of his beloved. Surely she had nothing to do with it!

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Additionally, Prince Ali, brother to Umar, was considering leaving the Party of Ali. It seemed the Badshah’s son Abu-Bakr had been expressing his secret faith a little too loudly and now prying eyes were everywhere at court. Despite Umar’s assurances that they would not be found out, Ali was having none of it. The Shia faithful within the Hayyid court had lost a brother, and he would not be the last they lost.

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Over the next few months, the Party of Ali’s ranks grew thinner and thinner. It seemed the mini-inquisition taking place at court was leading many to abandon the true-faith in pursuit of conformity. Naturally, this was getting Umar down a little and stressed so when Yahya, a loyal member of the Party, invited the Badshah for an incognito get-together Umar immediately accepted.

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But after hours and hours of conversing the two may have let a little more on than they had hoped. Soon a local ruffian who had overheard their conversations was looking to put the Shiites in their place. Fortunately, Umar being the learned diplomat he was proved able to diffuse the tension. Soon the ruffian was joining in on the discussions and even admitted that there may be something to the Shia arguments.

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Yet back at court things were not all well, but this time the issue was the Badshah’s love life. Several years prior Umar had made Urraca his first wife. But still, she yearned for more. More influence, more gold. Her ambition knew no bounds. But with Umar refusing to give her the world or a seat on his council she made her move by requesting a divorce from the Chief Qadi. This move shocked Umar, Urraca was his beloved, he thought their bond was true! But no. Within the next few days Urraca had made it abundantly clear that this was all just a ruse to grow her political clout. What’s worse, Urraca was soon buttering up the Emir of Badajoz in an attempt to gain his ear.

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Umar thought that he should execute this woman on the spot for what she had done. But no. He DID truly love Urraca even if she didn’t love him. He would not allow himself to lose the love of his life once again. Despite Umar’s pleas Urraca was having none of it. Ultimately, Umar was able to convince her to wait out the iddah period. If she still wanted a divorce then he would allow it. In the meantime, the Badshah would go out on campaign.
In Umar’s mind, he knew he had to prove himself. He would need to conquer a prize far larger than anything before it. This would be his way of demonstrating his love for Urraca. Only one prize would be suitable, Egypt. A great reconquest of the lands long lost to Islam. Only the golden sands and glistening Nile waters of Misr would be enough. Furthermore, in Arabia, the wider Islamic world was in a point of crisis. The Fatimids were weaker than ever, whilst the Seljuk dynasty had fallen to the Erdemids and revolts were breaking out across their lands. The Hayyids would have to strike now before the Christians could take advantage of the instability in the east. The troops were readied and the invasion began.

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Egypt was not without allies however. Navarra and Jerusalem soon came to their aid. A detachment of troops led by Umar himself was sent up north to deal with the Navarrese, whilst the rest of the army went by boat to Tripoli.

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Though the Navarrese were quickly put down the Egyptians had begun to make headway into Hayyid holdings in north Africa. Around 20,000 Christian soldiers stood between the Hayyids and the Nile.

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But soon Jerusalem had joined the fold, landing 6,500 men in Viscaya as a distraction force. No matter, Umar would put them down like all the rest.

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But when Umar’s forces hit the Jerusalemites a mighty clash of steel tore the Hayyid lines asunder. Like a flash the frontlines broke, soon the Christians were coming at the royal retinue. Before he had time to retreat Umar found himself unsaddled in a daze on the floor. The world was spinning. Steel clashed on steel above him, the pounding of hooves wailed away in the distance. When the Badshah regained consciousness the world stood still. It was as though time itself had stopped. The only figure moving was a wounded Christian warrior on the ground brandishing a knife.



“Go with Allah,” whispered the warrior as he plunged his knife into Umar’s heart.
"Tell Urraca that... that I love her." Where the final words that came out of the Badshah's mouth.

Umar never did prove himself to his beloved. But hoped that maybe if there truly was an afterlife, that he may be able to see his two loves again. Urraca and Suraya.

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ibicko

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Have you ever killed the white stag? I got the Great Hunter achievement for killing a large white bear in Arctic Russia. What is so great about killing a large Polar Bear in a land where polar bears outnumber people?
I'm pretty sure I've killed the white stag at some point in playing CK2, though I rarely play on ironman so I don't get achievements. I might have even done it before ironman was added to the game. I think I got close in my old campaign a Spanish Story but chose to spare it.
 
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Have you ever killed the white stag? I got the Great Hunter achievement for killing a large white bear in Arctic Russia. What is so great about killing a large Polar Bear in a land where polar bears outnumber people?
You. Absolute. Monster.
 
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