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Note to readers: I want to try and get back to writing regularly, and thus have decided to start a serious, narrative AAR. The situation of Jerusalem in the 1187 scenario is quite interesting, and I don't recall any other AARs based on it, so that's what I'm going with.

Updates should be up at least once every three days. If I take too long, PESTER! Pester to your hearts content, as a lack of updates means I'm just being lazy.
 

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Sheep in the Midst of Wolves

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16, KJV

koj1.png


The desert at night was a strange, eerie and desolate place. The intense heat of the day gave way to the biting cold, and in the vast, dry emptiness it was easy to fall into a kind of madness. The intensity of the silence only broken by the howling spirits of the desert, lost, forlorn and damned souls.

Along a well worn path, a camel train ambled onwards at a steady pace. As the setting sun filled the land with the dying light of day, the grooms wrapping themselves tightly in their robes, concentrating solely on getting to their destination as soon as possible. The backs of the camels were laden high with fabulous goods, the fine cloth of kings, plentiful grain and beautifully scented spices that filled the nostrils of the grooms, and lingered along the path already trodden like the wake of a ship.

“How long till we stop, Master Anwar?” called out Abd-al-Hamid, a young man with a darkened, pitted face, and a thick, lush beard that hid most of his features. “Some of the camels seem to be growing tired.”

Anwar was the boss, an older, rugged man, who Abd-al-Hamid regarded with a strong respect and certain amount of awe. Anwar was a man who seemed to thrive in the desert- he never seemed to sweat, and had once reputedly spent three months in complete solitude, praying and fasting and conversing with the djinns, spirits of smokeless fire. Some regarded him as a deluded madman, but there was no doubt in Abd-al-Hamid’s mind that the stories were true, every single word.

“No stopping,” came the curt reply. “This place is infamous for banditry, so we must hurry on. Salah-ad-Din will not be happy if we arrive in Cairo belatedly.”

“But master, the camels…” Abd-al-Hamid weakly protested, but it went ignored. He knew why Anwar was so reluctant, of course, and glanced back at the third groom of the caravan, an odd young man called Nadim, who rarely spoke, and had the most startlingly bright brown eyes. Abd-al-Hamid felt an instinctual mistrust for the man, though Master Anwar seemed happy enough with his presence so he remained silent.

If he had been pressed, he would have been forced to admit the camels were holding up fine. It was his own legs that were tired, and he longed to sit down if only for a minute, but resolved to continue. As he did, he imagined what it must have been like to catch a glimpse of the train as a far away observer. It reminded him of a distant, vague memory of childhood, the only thing remaining a sense of marvel at the strength and fortitude of those ships of the desert - no one noticed the sweaty, tired grooms. Only the camels.

He was shaken out of his thoughts by a loud, annoyed cry from the old man at the head of the train. The camels came to a grinding halt, and Abd-al-Hamid rushed to where Anwar stood, staring into what appeared to the young man as sheer blackness.

“What is it, Master Anwar? What’s wrong?”

“There’s dust on the horizon…” he said quietly, keeping his gaze locked on the darkness.

“Dust…? A sandstorm?!” The air was still and cold, but Abd-al-Hamid was well aware of how suddenly a storm could whip up, with no prior warning. It was something every camel groom feared with a great dread. Anwar’s sinewy face remained a frown, his eyes dark and fierce.

“No, not a sandstorm. Worse than that.”

Abd-al-Hamid gulped, some fear entering his voice. “Bandits, Master Anwar?”

Anwar rubbed his mouth, and finally looked his younger colleague in the eye. “There is a distant rumbling, a number of men on horseback approach. Abd-al-Hamid, go fetch the scimitars.”

The young man stared, incredulous, but silently hurried to the back of the caravan where the swords we kept, only to find himself face to face with Nadim, who had already lain the curved swords on the ground. Nadim stood and watched as Abd-al-Hamid leant down and picked up one with either hand. He then realised something that filled him with surprise; Nadim was shaking, his face a mask of terror. Then it dawned on him, Nadim was silent not for any sinister reason, but rather out of timidity. The lad must only have been sixteen or seventeen, and scared out of his wits.

“Come on, Nadim,” Abd-al-Hamid said coaxingly, “Take a sword, and follow me. Allah will protect us.” The lad nodded, and Abd-al-Hamid noticed the camels were starting to become uneasy. The thudding of hooves was now definitely audible, and as they joined Anwar at the front of the train, the dark shapes of the horse were now visible against the darkness. Abd-al-Hamid passed a sword to his master, and the three grooms waited in silence.

A few moments later, the interlopers came into full view, illuminated by the very last rays of the day’s sun. Anwar spat on the ground, and shook his head. “It‘s him,” he said with disgust. “That piece of camel shit…”

“Who?” said Abd-al-Hamid, his arms already beginning to ache from the heaviness of the sword.

“The most barbaric of all the filthy infidel barbarian invaders who have soiled our land…Raynald of Chatillon.”

Abd-al-Hamid instantly recognised who Anwar was talking about, a big, cruel faced man at the front of the twenty or so horses, who rode his horse up to where they stood and glanced down at them with a leering smile.

“Give my regards to Saladin,” he said with a grin. Nadim and Abd-al-Hamid stared in confusion, not understanding his foreign tongue, but Anwar remained stony faced, and waved his scimitar threateningly.

“Leave now, infidel,” Anwar’s voice rang out in broken French, “Leave now, and Salah-ad-Din will spare your life.”

Abd-al-Hamid found himself unsurprised that Anwar could speak in the barbarians’ tongue, as the man seemed to him capable of anything and everything.

Chatillon appeared to consider what Anwar said, and then, with great care, directed his horse so that he was towering right over the aged man. Then, he hocked a wad of spit right into Anwar’s face, and let out a roar of a laugh, his men joining in without too much enthusiasm. Abd-al-Hamid wanted to cut the man down right there, and noticed a similar, albeit greater rage, on the face of Nadim, who was shaking and mumbling to himself.

A moment later, to everyone’s surprise, Nadim let out an animal cry from the pit of his stomach, and charged, scimitar waving, at Chatillon with such a fury that even Anwar looked shocked. Before he could inflict any damage, Chatillon swiped his sword and cut Nadim down with ease.

“Nephew!” Anwar stuttered. Abd-al-Hamid stood beside him, shaking his head with disbelief.

“Come on, load up the goods, lads,” Chatillon said, mockingly waving his sword at the two stunned Arabs. “The cold is getting to me.”

Chatillon’s men raided the caravan with relish, and to Abd-al-Hamid’s horror several camels were stabbed and cut down, for no apparent reason, other than malice. When they had finished, only five of the original twelve camels remained alive, the burden of the cargo lifted from their backs.

As his men prepared to leave, Chatillon turned, and laughed. “Again, make sure to give my complements to Saladin.” And with that, the men on horseback left, consumed by the cold night, and as the sound of hooves gradually faded, Anwar leant over the slain Nadim, visibly holding back tears.

“Oh you brave, stupid boy,” he murmured, “you shall be avenged, my nephew. Allah knows, you shall be avenged.”


koj3.jpg
 

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*Subscribes*
 

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You sure are getting to have a lot of AARs Fiftypence. :nods:
 

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I'm glad to see a AAR on this subject, CK needs more of them. Good luck surviving the onslaught.
 

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Fulcrumvale: Jolly good.

Tskb18: Haha, no, he's not nice. :)

anonymous4401: Not as many as Judas Maccabeus though, yet. :(

JimboIX: Interestingly, the onslaught doesn't come...not yet, at least.

Llywelyn: Wolves, not werewolves! :p
 

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Sheep in the Midst of Wolves

koj4.jpg

Citadel of Cairo, January 1187

“This is not the first time this has happened, my brother.”

Salah-ad-Din glanced across at his brother, and shook his head. “I’m well aware of that,” he said quietly, taking a sip of the carefully prepared mug of sekanjabin, a sweet, minty drink that the Sultan enjoyed.

“The man is a dog, my brother,” Sayf ad-Din said, pacing round the surprisingly sparse and austere room that Salah ad-Din favoured during the cooler winter and spring months. The walls were plain white, decorated only by two ebony skinned serving court eunuchs. The room was only furnished with a table and single chair, resting on top of a simple yet attractive and colourful Persian rug. On one side of the room was a door that opened onto a white stone balcony, where the view was dominated by the keep of the citadel, and the obscured view of the bustling city that lay beyond. In this room, though, the city seemed a thousand miles away. An impenetrable place of tranquillity.

The Sultan nodded, and spoke with a calmness that betrayed a rage bubbling under the surface. “Chatillon has no honour. He is nothing more than a common bandit. It will be a great day when I hold his severed head in my hands.” He clenched his fists and sighed. “The man makes a mockery of chivalry and nobility...”

Sayf ad-Din let out a guttural laugh. “My brother, what do you expect from these infidels from the west? They are barbarians, they no nothing of nobility!”

“Come now, younger brother, you know that’s not true. But Chatillon…” He rose to his feet, and threw the empty sekanjabin mug against the wall with uncharacteristic frustration, only just missing the head of one of the eunuchs who fortunately ducked in time. “This situation is intolerable, simply intolerable.” He looked pensive, deep in thought for a moment, before saying, “The Red Sea is controlled by Chatillon’s pirates, the land route by his brigands. King Guy of Jerusalem is too much in his debt to challenge him, and everyone else too scared.”

Sayf ad-Din raised his eyebrows. “Do you mean…?”

The Sultan nodded, smiling thinly. “My brother, we are going to war.”

simow6.jpg


**​

A strange tiredness overcame Salah-ad-Din before dinner, and so it was decided that preparations for war would begin when morning came, assuming the Sultan was fully refreshed and well.

He decided to retire early, and headed for a chamber near the very top of the citadel.

“I don’t want to be disturbed, and would like to be left alone,” he said to the servant who had accompanied him, who nodded and strode away down the corridor purposefully. Salah-ad-Din rubbed his head, feeling quite dizzy as he entered the chamber, and stumbled towards the fresh bed, eager for the embrace of the soft silk. He began to undress, wondering what strange ailment had overcome him with such suddenness.

“How are you feeling, good Sultan?” a sweet voice rang out around the room.

Salah-ad-Din immediately stopped, shocked, and fell absolutely still. His first instinct was to dismiss it as his imagination, a mere product of his sudden malady. That, or some kind of demon come to tempt him. His face betrayed his absolute puzzlement.

The next few moments were filled with silence, and the shadows in the room grew darker and longer. He shook his head, and continued getting ready for sleep.

“Did you not hear me, oh Sultan?”

Salah-ad-Din’s head shot up. There was no doubt now in his mind that he had really heard the voice, but an internal voice disputed, telling him it was simply impossible for any kind of intruder to be in this room in the citadel. Simply impossible.

“Who is there?” he shouted, in his most authoritative tone, feeling irritated by the voice‘s seeming lack of deference. There was a giggle.

“The Old Man of the Mountain sent me to tell you something. Something important.”

The Old Man of the Mountain! Rashid ad-Din Sinan, a man Salah-ad-Din knew only too well. He laughed with mocking disdain.

“Tell me something?! That I find hard to believe. You are here no doubt to murder me, and typically of your kind you are cowering in the shadows! Come out so I can see my would-be assassin in the face. You will do as I ask if you have any honour.”

He noticed a subtle shift in the shadows, and there before him was a figure dressed all in black where he could have sworn there was just shadow before. He could not make out much the face, obscured as it was by a shawl and the darkness, but the eyes looked young and bright. He could not help but notice the glint of a small dagger clutched in the left hand.

“I have no orders to kill you, Sultan. Though I did enjoy slipping that poison into your coffee. Seems it worked a treat.”

Salah-ad-Din blinked. “So that’s why I feel so strange…”

“Of course. But don’t fear, you won’t die, it was only a mild poison I used. I’m not here to murder you. Look, I cast my dagger aside.” The black figure elegantly stooped down, letting the knife drop to the floor with a soft thump.

“You expect me to believe you are carrying only one dagger?” Salah ad-Din said, incredulous. The black figure appeared to find this amusing, and laughed gently.

“Ha! No, of course not, you are a clever man, Sultan. But listen- you desire war with Jerusalem, do you not?”

“Yes, I do. Not only do I desire it, but I am honour-bound to punish such insolence.”

“You see, the thing is, I have orders from the Old Man of the Mountain to come to you and tell you that there will be no war…not yet, at least. Do you understand? You attack Jerusalem, and you die.”

The Sultan remained silent, feeling a cocktail of rage and humiliation boiling up inside of him. He had already managed to evade assassination once before at Aleppo eleven years before, and it was not often that the Hashshashin failed to kill a single man twice.

“But tell me, why?”

“I cannot tell you, for I myself do not know. Now,” the Hashshashin continued, the slight clinking sound indicating the presence of a new dagger, “turn your back, close your eyes and count to ten.”

Salah-ad-Din did as asked, and with each number he praised Allah and cursed the name of Rashid ad-Din Sinan. When he opened his eyes and turned around the Hashshashin was gone, the only thing remaining the dagger, its blade stuck all the way to the hilt in the part of the bed where Salah-ad-Din’s heart would be as he lay asleep.
 
Last edited:

Olaus Petrus

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Nice, AAR about the Holy Land. I love the topic and would like to hear more about the adventures of the brave knight Renaud de Châtillon.
 

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Interesting twist, the old man is so relentless, perhaps a campaign against Archa is in order? Wouldn't want him getting after the Lusignan girls..
 

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Well, what have we here?
 

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Hashashin, Hashashin, threatener of Saladin!
 

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Olaus Petrus: Brave knight?? Well I guess that's one way of describing him. :D

JimboIX: Attacking Archa, in game terms, would not be a great idea. It would need a large investment of troops, and would leave me somewhat vulnerable to attack by Ayyubid. And anyway, the Old Man has far more of a problem with Saladin (a heretic Sunni and old foe) than the Franks. ;)

Fulcrumvale, anonymous4401: Thanks for stopping by. :)


By the way, Humphrey de Toron's age in game is wrong, so I changed it to the correct age.
 

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Sheep in the Midst of Wolves

koj9.jpg


Jerusalem, 1st February 1187

“Wake up, Master Humphrey! You’re stepfather has come from Kerak to speak with you!”

Humphrey de Toron grunted, peeping out over his bed sheets at his manservant Gilles, who stood beside the chamber door. The young noble wiped his eyes and glanced towards the window, where the light of day was streaming in. He shifted, and realised the sheets were drenched in sweat. He groaned.

“Gilles, I grow weary of waking up every day feeling like I’ve been rained on all night,” he muttered, sitting up. “Is there no way to make it cooler in here during the night-time?”

Gilles smiled, puzzled. “It was a cold night, Master Humphrey. At least, it seemed it to me…”

Humphrey scratched his head. “Hmmph.” He remembered back to last night, and had a vague recollection of it being disturbed and filled with strange dreams, though as usual with such visions he could recall barely any of the details.

He got out of bed and stretched, feeling a chill as the film of sweat on his body cooled. The air was not humid as he had expected, but rather cool and refreshing, and suddenly the prospect of his waiting stepfather did not seem so bad.

“Um, would his Lordship like to be left alone while he dresses…?” said Giles, his cheeks turning a strange shade of crimson. It was only then that Humphrey realised he was standing completely naked.

“Yes, yes, that will be fine.” Humphrey said hurriedly, with a slight embarrassed smile. Gilles nodded, and before he left he said, “I’ve left your clothes beside the door. I shall tell your stepfather to expect you in five minutes.”

Before Humphrey could respond Gilles was gone, and Humphrey sat down on his bed. I wonder what he wants, he thought unenthusiastically, spending another moment just sitting before rising, and quickly getting dressed. He had heard about the trouble of course, and as he left his room and headed as slowly as he could for the Solar of the Jerusalem town house, he wondered if the recent events had contributed to his sour dreams. The future was uncertain, and he seemed to be doing everything to make it so. This land was his home, the only home he had ever known…

As he cautiously entered the Solar, he found his stepfather sitting, sipping a glass of wine. He glanced up, and grinned at his stepson.

“I arrive here at half past ten, and find you still lying in your pit. You always were a lazy boy. By the way, how‘s Isabella?”

“I don’t know, we sleep separately at the moment.”

“Ah right, of course you do.”

Humphrey rolled his eyes, sat down and was handed a glass of wine by a servant. “Raynald, I would have been ready to welcome you if you had sent notice of your coming,” he said, with just a slight amount of irritation entering his voice. Raynald de Chatillon did not seem to notice, or else ignored it. He took a gulp of the blood-red wine, and nodded to a servant, one of his own retinue, who handed Humphrey a garment, gold and red, made of the finest silk.

“A gift for you, my boy.” Raynald said. Humphrey held it before him, staring with a mixture of awe and delight, but after a moment a creeping uncertainty took hold of him.

“Oh my, it’s wonderful, stepfather! But I can’t…”

Chatillon laughed dismissively. “Don’t be silly, boy! I doubt you own a finer garment. You will be the envy of courts all across the world!”

Humphrey arched his eyebrows. That was most likely true, but he knew where it had come from.

“This was stolen, wasn’t it?” he said quietly, keeping his eyes locked on Chatillon. “From the caravan that you raided.”

Chatillon shrugged. “Yes, so what?” He stood up, angrily. “I thought you’d be pleased.”

“No no, I am, I am.” Humphrey breathed a sigh of relief as Chatillon sat back down, and sniggered.

“Those Muslim dogs have no need for such array. They only waste it.”

Humphrey nodded. “Well thank you. I wish we could all be as generous as you. But anyway,” he continued swiftly, “May I be so bold as to enquire as to true purpose of your visit?”

Chatillon finished the remainder of his wine and wiped his mouth, leaning forward as if to divulge something of great importance. “That caravan was carrying spices, cloth and grain, and was headed from Damascus to Cairo.”

“I already knew that. You broke a treaty, stepfather. Saladin is not going to forget that.”

“Ah,” said Chatillon, pausing as a servant poured him a fresh glass. “it’s interesting that you should mention that. Because a few weeks back I received two visitors. One, an agent of mine, told me that Saladin was enraged, and was preparing to invade Jerusalem with vigour and haste.”

“Oh my,” said Humphrey, face alarmed.

Chatillon smiled. “But the second visitor, my lad. The second visitor, also an agent in the same line of work, informed me only a day later that no such invasion was to occur. Something changed Saladin’s mind.”

“I…see,” said Humphrey, not knowing what to think. “So what does all this mean?”

“I was just getting to that. Now, as I said before, the caravan was carrying fairly standard cargo, the usual stuff.”

“Yes, you said, cloth, grain and spices.”

“Indeed.” Chatillon took a gulp of wine, and winked conspiratorially. His face darkened. “But that’s not all it was carrying.”

“What?”

“It seems that Saladin was expecting a, how should I say, special delivery.”

Humphrey shook his head, frustration beginning to rise. “Really, Raynald, you are speaking in riddles! I don’t understand, what did you find?!”

Chatillon was silent, and took a large swig of wine.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” said Humphrey, with a frown.

“As it happens, I am. But anyway, take a look at this.”

Chatillon reached into his clothes, and produced a red-stained glass rose, the crafted petals intricate and beautiful, with a stem made of gold, or what looked like gold. Whoever had made it must have been a true master of his craft, that much was obvious. As Humphrey took it, he felt a strange rush of serenity, holding it as delicately as he could in his hands.

“It’s…perfect,” he murmured.

“Snap out of it, boy!” Chatillon said sharply, after watching him for a couple of moments. “Look at it more carefully.”

Humphrey looked up sheepishly. “I’m sorry…” He frowned, gazing the rose as he slowly twirled in in his hand. “Hang on, what’s that…?”

As he held it up to the light, Humphrey could make out some kind of symbol in the heart of the rose, resembling an Arabic letter. The thing that struck him was that whichever angle he viewed it, even upside down, the symbol appeared exactly the same.

“That’s really strange,” Humphrey said quietly. He looked Chatillon in the eye. “Did you find out what the letter is?”

“Yes, showed it to some acquaintances of mine, but none of them recognised it. It has no meaning whatsoever in modern Arabic, that's all know.”

“That’s really strange,” Humphrey said again, almost in a whisper. Chatillon cleared his throat and clicked his fingers.

“Yes, but anyway. What I want to know is why Saladin wanted this object, and why it was so well concealed within the baggage of the caravan? I’d bet that even the camel grooms didn’t know it was there. And, stepson, I want you to find this out for me.”

Humphrey looked again at the glass rose, and sighed. There was no point arguing with his stepfather. He placed the object softly on the table, and took as large a gulp of his wine as he could manage.
 

Olaus Petrus

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Interesting. I wonder what mysteries that glass rose conceals.
 

unmerged(59737)

Strategos ton Exkoubitores
Aug 9, 2006
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I suppose just giving it back is out of the question?
 

unmerged(51292)

Canis Canem Edit
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Great stuff. So who are you actually playing as, if i might be so bold?
 

Fiftypence

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I've Been Canonized. So it's St. Fiftypence of Lancashire from now on.

canonizedfiftypence.png

Recently I had the honour of being interviewed for the "You've Been Canonized" segment of the great EU3 AAR by canonized. We had an interesting discussion, including some questions about this very story.

Check out the interview here, and the the whole AAR - Timelines: What If Spain Failed to COntrol the World.
 

unmerged(51292)

Canis Canem Edit
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:p I thought you were a life long atheist hehe