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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Table of Content & Introduction

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The Green Jewel of the Garamantes


Table of contents



Chapter 0 : The last Nafusi
Chapter 1 :The Promised Land
Chapter 2 : Mapping the Empire
Chapter 3 : The Libyan exception
Chapter 4, Part 1/2 : The triumph of Inkaef

Table of contents also in the upper and bottom right of each post : "Index".
Also possible to navigate to each post with "<<" and ">>".

Introduction

Greetings, greetings !
I'm happy to show you a project I prepared since a few months now. Just like my precedent one, this AAR is based on a game which was not planned to became one. So, ehm :
- Just like the precedent, translation from french to english did not worked entirely. No-characters zones are still with french names. Most nicknames who appeared before translation are in french too
- Unlike the last one, where I took an omniscient point of view, I want to took a more narrative way of telling, centered around characters. The reason is that if omniscient way of writing made it easier and faster to write, with time, writing become sort of mechanical, and I was not happy about that. That's partly why I stopped the story after about 8 chapters.

Though, don't expect regular posting as :
- I also write the story in french (here for those interested). Translation from french to english is time-consuming, and I will post french and english posts together in the same time. To give you an idea, it took 3 hours for me to translate chapter 0. But I want to do it, and I want to do it all by myself, with no automatic traductor. Yet, I hope I will get used to it and go faster
- I have not much time IRL to write (mainly part of the week-end). And I'm choosing a more time-consuming way of writing AAR, so... Don't expect regular posts. I will try to keep at least for the first weeks to post on weekly basis, but don't expect too much that I keep the pace

Positions of some characters may seem sometimes extreme, but keep in mind that's fiction and it does not express my own opinion. Anyway, if you are regular CK2 AAR reader, you will not be breaking out of your habits.

Some infos before diving into the story :
- Just as my last AAR, I sometimes use console commands, always for the sake of the story. Restraining myself of using it only harms the plot, in my opinion. Especially in narrative AAR, where the writed story and the game situation itself could be out of step

Also, here is the list of the mods I am using (and yes, it's stable) :
- WTWSMS
- WTWSMS Portraits
- A Revolutionary Borders mod
- A Revolutionary Map Font
- A Revolutionary Water mod
- A Transparent Map mod
- Battle Captives
- Bigger Interface
- Choose your First Wife
- Decisive Battles
- Exclave Independance
- Fitna Fracture
- Merciless Ruler
- Your Personal Castle
- Rich Childhood
- Friendly NAP
- Genocide
- Enhanced Warfare
- Title Manage
- Sketchy Cheat Menu
- Friendly Non-Agression Pacts
Everything except maybe WTWSMS core mod could be found on Steam Workshop. My own version is not 100% the same as this compilation, as I modded it through my game according to my preferences.

And now, welcome into this mad world !
 
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Chapter 0 : The Last Nafusi

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Chapitre 0 : The last Nafusi

Arzeila, capital of Al-Maghrib’s kingdom, 13th June 607




Military crowds had at least the merit of being disciplined and lining up when you shouted out orders. The civil ones meanwhile weren’t worth better than a herd of camels. On top of that, Arzeila was a city full to breaking point. Not only by its fortuitous commercial location between Hispania and North Africa, but also because of the surrounding countries’s turmoils. North, arians and nicenes christians were unrestrainedly killing each other since Wisigoths’s disappearance in the Pyrenees mountains, abandoning their subjects and any hope of reconciliation between the two faiths. South, the gaetulians kings were tearing themselves to pieces. From now on, two Gaetulias were coexisting, each one judging itself more legitimate than the other, naturally.
Refugees could be seen everywhere, begging or doing casual job, when they were not simply waiting for the time to pass. Al-Maghrib may be lead by a kid, it was still more steady than most estates of the area.



Masinissa, within the scope of his mission, was following one of this daytakers, a local peasant with a heavy accent

- How are you sure it’s him ? he launched.
- The description of yar pal match ferpectly
- Perfectly.
- What ?
- Nothing.

With around ten soldiers, his guide led them to a small brick shack, similar to any other in the alley. The peasant indicated the opening which served as the doorway.

-Yar guy’s here.

He ran away without further ceremony. Masinissa slid into the house. As promised, the man was inside. The presence of a woman by his side was more surprising.
The man, who turned over to him, didn’t seem local despite his advanced age. Masinissa noticed that he wasn’t surprised at all.

- Ilatig of Azruwa ?




Nodding, the old man walked toward him, as Masinissa’s men deployed in the room.

- You know why we are here.
- You weren’t even born when I had to go into exile. It was an organized slaughter. Your masters did everything they could to wipe off the map my people !
- With righteous reasons. Gods be praised, this task will end here and now.

Ilatig looked at him face to face. His composure and determination were admirable, in spite of being a Nafusi. The women behind him became more agitated.

- I’m the princess Basil Sifaksid, king Izdârasen of Gaetulia’s sister and Ides’s kinswoman, king of this country. Leave this place immediately !




It was obvious that she was scared. Yet her voice was such authoritative ! The soldiers around Masinissa hesitated in front of this demonstration. Not him.

- Basil, did Ilatig, swinging his head toward her. I...
- What a shame,, cutted off Masinissa, who was losing patience, that my orders are above yours, princess.

Princess’s eyes opened wide. Men powerful enough to pay no heed to a diplomatic incident with a lady of her rank could be count on the fingers of one hand. A fortiori in North Africa.
Masinissa grasped a parchment handed by one of the soldiers, then rolled it out in full view of Ilatig and Basil.

- Ilatig of Azruwa, you are charged of involvement into seditious acts, murder of Aai-Pharaoh representatives, murder of Aai-Pharaoh’s relatives and of felony. By being member of the despicable cast of the Nafusi, worshiping the false god Sol Invictus, kept Masinissa, spiting the name of the deity, and by, for fleeing the the judgment of the Aai-Pharaoh, representative of Horus in the human realm, fled therefore gods’s judgment, he finished, sentence his death this very minute.

Basil shouted, so loudly it was for sure heard through surroundings quarters. Guards shall not be late to inspect the place. Mimicking Misnissa, soldiers unsheathed their weapons and headed towards the couple. Two men quickly controlled the princess and tried to silence her, as Ilatig drew his own sword.
Masinissa easily disarmed the old man, who was holding his weapon in a shaky and an inconfident manner. With a punch and three other henchmen, the stunned Nafusi knelt before Masinissa.

- May the Maât’s scale be favorable towards you, Nafusi, spelt Masinissa.

He pierced Ilatig through the collar bone, making his blade go out again by his right side. The corpse collapsed after a jolt. The princess only shouted louder. Masinissa sheathed. It was over. Forgotten, the slaughters of Taqseft, Temeddot and Azruwa. Forgotten, the garamantians’s infernal rows, the unspeakable actions in nafusi’s villages. Their last witness was bleeding out on the floor, right in front of Masinissa.
The two soldiers who were still hardly controlling the princess launched him a questioning look.

- No witnesses, he ordered in a vague gesture.

Straightaway after, the princess fell down, a new red smile on her delicate throat.




- Burn the room. Corpses first.
- Commander, what do we do with the child ?
- The child ?




Indeed, the crate near the warrior contained a newborn. The little one returned to Masinissa a profound glaze.

- We take him, he announced after hesitating for a few seconds.

Some tens minutes later, the little group of Masinissa galloped forcefully, as a fire was breaking out in the city. Refugees shall be both first victims of it and scapegoats of this disaster.




-------------------------------------------------
Swarty in the East, capital of the Garamantian Empire, 26th August 607​



Swarty in the East, more known as Csi-Swarty by his dwellers, was the true jewel of the Saharan desert. Masinissa could see from his position in the caravan the wide sandstone walls, encircling a town worthy of an empire. You could see from here the enormous palace of the Azûlay, the reigning dynasty. Estimations spoke about 400 courtiers inside it directly or indirectly related to the Aai-Pharaoh.
In and around the city, large aqueducts were crossing the desert, dividing themselves to supply Csi-Swarty’s fountains and palace’s lake. For Masinissa as well as for any garamantian, the view of those canals filled him of pride : since centuries, his people was living right in the middle of the Sahara thanks to them. They were thoroughly maintained and their sturdiness were just as good as the roman ones. Alas, desert was progressing each year further, and water volume brought by the aqueducts lowered simultaneously.

As a commander, Masinissa was immediately recognized by the guards and easily enter the town. A squad of heavy riders surround him as soon as he entered for bringing him to the palace. Those were members of the Pharaoh Guard, sat astride on metal armored camels, were first and foremost a source of pride for the garamantian army and a symbol of power and prosperity under the Azûlay. Nobody else in the region was able to line up 150 heavy riders or more.

He was welcomed with great pomp in a sumptuously decorated hall, whose numerous openings let the light go through. He recognized straight away the two persons who were waiting for him.




To his left, Tagwilalt Azûlay, half-sister and Sesemut of the Aai-Pharaoh, in charge of all military matters in the empire. Masinissa was the first astonished by the appointment of a woman to this post, whose first years did not run without difficulties. But it was without considering the strong link between her and her half-brother in power as well as her strong character which, doubled by her incontestable military skills, brought every single soldiers of the capital into the line, whatever their rank. Masinissa, ready as he was to give her a chance soon appreciated her : their shared faithfulness for the Aai-Pharaoh, her directness and her integrity for the sake of her duty made her company pleasant.
The person right to him was way less likeable and for good reason : the Pharaoh Afer of Tuaregia was the Spymaster of the empire. If his loyalty and the quality of his work was beyond suspicion, his lack of faith, his evident vanity and his sick passion for the suffering made him detestable to the eyes of Masinissa.

- Masinissa, greeted Tagwilalt, I’m happy to see you again.
- Shared pleasure, Sesemut.
- Does the mission had been done ? interrupt Afer, exceeded by the exchanges of courtesies (and more probably of not being the center of attention).
- Yes Pharaoh. The fire took care of cleaning the marks.
- So the last Nafusi has been executed, thought the Pharaoh. I hope this dog had suffered.

Masinissa did not react, thus letting silence install itself in the trio.

- Who is the child in maid’s arms waiting in front of the palace ? threw Afer.

Yes, Afer deserved his post of Spymaster.

- I stood on site for two years, my lord. I had time and opportunity to have children. This kid was born a few days before the end of my mission.
- It wasn’t necessary to brought it back with you.
- My lord, I’m going to my 40 years, started the commander. Still no wife, no children. I want to have a posterity.

Afer nodded. Masinissa hoped that his men hold their tongue and that Afer would not inquire further. If the Spymaster knew the origin of Munatas, all could be settled quickly.

- Speaking of which, stepped in Tagwilalt, in recognition of your service, the Aai-Pharaoh judged wise to honor you for wedding his relative Tazêllayt, great-granddaughter of the illustrious Pharaoh Amestida « The Saint », himself cousin of the Aai-Pharaoh.
- Oh, I… Well, I am…, stammered Masinissa. Words miss me, he finished with a smile.

Even if Amestida was dead since a century, and was no saint but by the name.

The following years were idyllic for Masinissa. As the Garamantian empire entered in his golden age, as short as thriving, himself was recognized for his skills by the court as well as by the folk, meanwhile his ennoblement open a few doors at powerfuls’s homes. He would remember those years with nostalgia, when everything would crumble before his eyes.
 
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Zamarak500

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Well, never saw something on the Garamantian before. Should be interesting!

Also, for some reason it feels weird to read an AAR in my birth language (french). :confused:
 

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Well, never saw something on the Garamantian before. Should be interesting!

Also, for some reason it feels weird to read an AAR in my birth language (french). :confused:
Indeed, I first took the Garamantes just for the kemetic faith, but they are in fact a very interesting and ancient people who mastered and ruled the Saharah for a very long period. Until being swallowed by the Arabs around 640. We are in 616. Just putting it there. Eh.

And for the language, that would explain a lot, like the fact that it is so enjoyable to read your AAR :p (no jingoism here, move along).


Except that, I am currently thinking of making one scene per chapter. I was initially planning to do two scenes per chapter, but the first scene of chapter 1 is actually as long as the entirety of the chapter 0.
So I think I'll base the chapters according to the length rather than according to the scenes number. That would give me more flexibility.
 

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So a posterity - that can be a powerful motivation.
 
Chapitre 1 : The Promised Land

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Chapitre 1 : The Promised Land

Asyut, province of the Garamante Empire, 4th June 616





Picture from Attila Total War


- Open the door !

The soldier made it collapse by a strong kick. The two bowmen behind him who were aiming the house’s entry instinctively stepped back, as a foul whiff coming from inside hit them with full force.
Three other soldiers rushed inside despite the stench, only to went out again a dozen of seconds later.

- Nothing here, commander. Only a woman and her three kids, killed by the plague.




Masinissa sighed. A half of the town had burn, the other one reserved his quota of horrors and unpleasant surprises.
The conquest of Egypt, the “Recapture of the Promised Land”, as grandiloquently pronounced the Aai-Pharaoh, had been done in a handful of months. After a few determining and spectacular fights, like the battle of the fields of Rmehkama where the Pharaonic Guard and personal levies of the Aai-Pharaoh squashed in a resounding show of strength the allied troops of Egypt kingdom and the Cretan duchy of Libya in early January 616, or the taking of Alexandria the next month, what was left of Egypt finally came under control of the empire. It was paying the price of its independence, obtained from a rebellion about thirty years ago. The Garamantes continuously gained border territories for years. This war only brought this expansion to an end, in a region long-standing under garamantian influence.
However, the seizing of the small independent duchy of Thebais was another fuss.

The duke himself was a 10 years old boy. His regent, on the over hand, was a fanatical jackass, who shared their stubbornness. Even after the Theban army’s slaughter in the garamantian desert, the duchy’s capital Asyut whose unique holding was the eponym province simply prepared itself to the siege. His population probably hoped that the bubonic plague, who appeared in Italia as the war begun and who was at the time raging on in Egypt would drive the besiegers to move out.
Indeed, Masinissa retained a terrifying memory of those 6 months of siege, with the plague-stricken soldier’s corpses that he had to burn day after day. Nevertheless, the defenders locked themselves with the plague.
After a storming entrance in the city by the army, only facing a gaunt and scattered garrison, the Garamantes discovered the extent of the damage. Every single animal had been eaten up and the most desperadoes were chasing rats. Not a blade of grass on the soil, nor leaves on the trees. One of Masinissa’s captains even passed information on case of cannibalism. Plague itself had taken its due : inflated and black bodies could be seen in nearly every building, when they were not rotting in the street.

This house was the last of the neighborhood. Masinissa decided to halt for today. His men loved him thanks to his personality and his active involvement to their activities, should they be dangerous or convivial. However, since his wedding, he had other concerns than his men. Despite being an arranged marriage, his couple turned out to be happy. He now had a wife who loved him, and who he loved, two young and healthy boys and an older boy, who Masinissa carefully watched. It was as simple as that.
As he came back to the camp, he saw bodies carried along by the Nile, some victims of the bubonic plague, others relatively new, Theban deserters and civilians alike.

Somebody was waiting for him in his tent.




The prince Igider Azûlay. The “son” of the Aai-Pharaoh. The open secret of the imperial court. A father of Greek ethnicity and a mother whose ancestors originate from northern Germania. And a child with a body typical of the locals garamantes.
One could have expected the mother to be harshly punished. The Aai-Pharaoh did worse : accept the child, gave his own very name and let the mother humiliated by the entire court. On the contrary, the cuckolded Aai-Pharaoh was supported and admired for his moral righteousness… All relative. With time, the child became the ideal henchman for his father when he needed to send in a dangerous place one of his kin. An expendable pawn. Everybody knew it, but nobody had the right to say so. Any courtier who alluded to it just vanished the next days.
Igider was clever. He had to suspect the whole situation. Yet, he accepted it in an admirable way and did his duty. Sometimes in a ruthless manner which could remind his adoptive father.

- Finally. I was wondering if you wouldn’t come back feet first, , said the prince.
- Alas, I’m still well and alive, scathingly retorted Masinissa.

Igider’s expression became more attentive.

- How the seizing of the city is running ?
- A few dozens of killed, several hundreds of wounded. The defenders were scrawny and half of the city burnt during the assault. The other half is infested by traps, plagued corpses and last regent’s zealots. That’s why we are actually combing Asyut. We could hopefully make the surrender official by finding with them the regent and the little duke.
- You’ll not be here to see that. My father the Aai-Pharaoh ask for your presence in the victory’s parade at Alexandria .
- And you went through a plagued, impoverished area at war only to invite me to the great pharaonic parade ? ironized Masinissa.

Igider get closer to him.

- You’re far from being stupid, Masinissa, but your tongue is too sharp for your own good. Listen me carefully now. As the war is over, loot shall be soon shared. Egypt is a territory full of meaning for our people, and the Aai-Pharaoh went to install trusted men on site. We could take all the coastal provinces west of Damietta, but we couldn’t manage to remove the coptic king of Egypt. As a new vassal, he will lose no time to prepare a rebellion. We need loyal and skillful individuals to react quickly when that will happen.

Masinissa pondered about the situation. He now only dreamed to have a small domain near the capital to finish his life and peacefully raise his children with his wife, and now he was offered to become a nobleman to survey a king !

- Can my father counting on you ? said Igider, interrupting his reflection.
- Of course the Aai-Pharaoh could count on me. But not as a landlord, answered Masinissa.

The prince looked at him, dumbstruck.

- We are truly different, you and I, whispered Igider.
- Yes my prince, coldly replied the commander.
- We offer you Egyptians lands, cradle and origin of the world. And you decline ?

Clearly torned apart by an inner dilemma, Masinissa grimaced. He leaved the tent, followed by Igider. Soldiers were beginning to come back to the camp.

- I don’t want to raise my children on a devastated battleground, he said, encompassing the ruined city.
- The town shall be soon rebuilt, retorted the prince.
- The area will be unstable due to inhabitants bitterness.
- That, said Igider as he laid his hand on Masnissa’s shoulder, that’ll be your task.

Masinissa pulled Igider’s hold out.

- There is the monastic facility of Durunka here. You know as well as me how this place is important for our faith, implacably insisted the prince.
- The monastery is in ruins since the beginning of the siege, defended himself Masinissa, as a new grimace was taking shape on his face.
- It will be reconstructed with the city.

The commander did not deign to answer.

- Fine ! I give up ! dropped Igider. You can be stubborn when you get started !

His interlocutor blankly stared him.

- Your wife shall know better how to convince you than me, I guess .
- You spoke to her about this ? rumbled Masinissa, gritting his teeth.
- Better. I brought her back, said Igider with a devilish smile.

It was Masinissa’s turn to be stunned.

- You brought her…

And he bursted out of rage.

- You duffer ! Reckless idiot ! he shouted, paying no heed to surprised soldiers around him. Brought my wife in a such region ! Get off my sight before I skin you alive, you…

Genius. Igider brought with him the only person with the Aai-Pharaoh able to make him take this decision.

- Masinissa ? asked a feminine voice.

Already knowing who was behind him, he turned over.




- What’s happening to you ? You are speaking to the son of the Aai-Pharaoh !

Ah, what a twist of fate, really !

- I’m not mean to raise Ziri and Aslal all alone ! she whistled.
- I leave for Alexandria. We will meet again there, stepped in Igider, whose laughing eyes betrayed his enjoyment before the marital scene.

Masinissa pierced him by his eyes.

- With great pleasure, he articulated with a voice dripping of sarcasm.

The battle ahead was going to be more difficult than the newly won siege.
 

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Not much left of that place by the sound of it.
 

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Not much left of that place by the sound of it.
Indeed, the province was hit hard by the plague, and was the last place to surrender of the conquest of Egypt. But the entirety of Egypt is weakened by those two factors, something that would have consequences later. And it's not finished for poor egyptians...
 

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Wow are the royal a pain. I seems as if only Masinissa cares about the senseless deaths.
 
Chapter 2 : Mapping the Empire

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Chapter 2 : Mapping the Empire

Swarty in the East, capital of the Garamantian Empire, 4th June 616




The childminder smiled at Tawenza as she entered the room at full throttle.

- You are radiant today, princess !


The young girl only had the time to smile back before her young brother ran into the room.

- Taaweeenzaaaaa ! screamed Izemrasen, who narrowly failed to crash into his sister.




Two breathless soldiers of the Pharaonic Guard finally arrived to close the procession.

- Princess… said one of them, trying to get his breath back. You’re really aren’t making our task easier…

Tawenza superbly ignored him and turned herself over her little brother.

- We’ll see each other again in a while. Be good ! she finished, throwing a wink.

Izemrasen affectionately clutched her. Although he only been 6 years old and her 14, he was already nearly as tall as her. No doubt he got this build from their father.
Tawenza hugged him back. A bond, stronger than the blood one was uniting the two Aai-Pharaoh’s youngest children. Six years were pulling apart the two kids, but 9 years were separating Tawenza from her direct eldest, or supposedly eldest : Igider.
The same soldier moved forward to interrupt the scene.

- Princess, you’re gonna be late to the imperial library.

She nodded and followed the bodyguards. Every week, she was crossing the immense palace to see Afaw. She could see according to her movements the town, the palace’s lake and pretty much everywhere vast empire’s emblem, the coloured diamond-shaped heraldry.

The library was not hiding its ambitions to compete with the Alexandria’s library, destroyed around two centuries ago during the clash between kemetics and christians under Roman domination. Annex of the palace, the building was huge with a high ceiling, in order to stock as far parchments as possible. Numerous tables were placed inside for allowing the visitors to study the knowledge held in the shelves in a more comfortable way.




It was at one of those tables that Afaw was waiting for her. He was already sited, surely in an attempt to hide his clubfoot. Tawenza could not explain how, despite this genetic defect, this man in the prime of life always managed to catch everybody’s attention when he honored a place of his presence. To this oddness added his certain smartness and an impressive knowledge of the speaking and of the power.
And it was precisely what she learned from him. He greeted her with a simple and warm smile which seemed incongruous considering his talents.

- Ah, Tawenza ! I hope Izemrasen is well ?

Tawenza nodded while smiling in return.

- Did you reviewed the empire’s sections, as I asked you for ?
- Yes, tutor.
- We’ll see that !, he exclaimed, turning to a nearby slave. Could you brought me a recent map of the empire, please ?

This was typical of Afaw. He was as polite with the nobles as this library’s slave, tasked of all manual works, from the upkeeping of shelves to cleanliness of books, passing, of course, through several meters climbing to find a parchment.
The servant nimbly complied, and was rewarded by Afaw with a two gold coins as a tip. His face lit up at the offered amount.

- Hum, perfect. I entrust you to ask to the mapmakers that Thebais’s color need to be changed. You can’t see the difference with Egypt.
- Yes, master !

The slave’s voice betrayed his enthusiasm. Two gold coins was a for him a huge sum. He leaved them while blessing them by every known kemetic god’s names.

- You still have the means to take such largesse ? skeptically asked Tawenza.
- Indeed, I’m in debt up to the neck, sighed Afaw. I’m more educated than those poor people will ever be. Giving them a coin or two is the least one I can do.

I sighed a second time.

- But don’t try to divert the conversation ! Come here.

As Tawenza sat next to him, he placed small weights on each corner of the map to better flatten it on the table.




She looked at the map with great interest.

- Alexandria ? Thebais ? You didn’t ask me to remember that ! complained Tawenza.
- That’s not surprising, joked Afaw. They only exist since yesterday ! The scribes worked all the night to have a map ready for the Aai-Pharaoh. So… he announced while spinning his finger. What can you tell me about… Arzugis ? he said, placing his finger on the large corresponding red stain.

Tawenza frowned as she attempted to gather her knowledge.

- Arzugis… Is a pharaonat, led by Areksim Idderid. He inherited it by his father Izemrasen, who passed out last year. The country is fairly stable, even if the population is divided between Shawias in West, Libyans in East and garamantes settlers coming from the southern inlands. The region also suffered from religious uprisings from the believers of Gurizil…
- Gurzil.
- Of Gurzil, a local god, son of Amun and of a cow. To the east the libyans venerate Aten, an heresy that replace all of our gods by Aten, the sun god. My father doesn’t like Aten. He calls his believers « a bunch of raving lunatics in withdrawal of mysteries ».

She stood quiet, satisfied of her report.

- And what do you know about the relations between your father and Arzugis’s pharaoh ?

The question took Tawenza by surprise. She opened her mouth, only to reconsider and then adopt a pensive pout.

- He said he does not like this « arrivist too ambitious for his own good, doubled by a palen… Paquent… »
- Patent, encouraged Afaw.
- Here is. « Patent incompetence ». In a nutshell, he doesn’t like him very much, she said with this disarming simplicity of the youth.
- That’s putting it mildly ! He’s angry at him too because he joined a support league for one of the many pretenders to the throne, Ilatig, son of Yuften. Do you remember him, by the way ?




- Yuften ? He’s the second emperor. He didn’t rule for a very long time, if I remember well.
- From 574 to 580, indeed. Areksim precisely joined this league because he was frustrated by your father, who refused to gave him a place in his council.
- Because of his incompetence ?
- Exactly. You’re too young to realize it, but there’s also another very important element. Since centuries, Garamantian’s pharaohs legacy is done by seniority, in other words the oldest dynastic member become the new pharaoh. Your father, basing on neighbor countries changed that. Today, the heir is the eldest son of the Aai-Pharaoh. The Azûlay are enormously angry with your father to have deprived them the chance of being a pharaoh, and the vassals are angry that he shoved the traditions. The fact that he was put on power when he was 17 years old by a rebel faction didn’t fix anything… finished Afaw in a grimace.
- That’s why he’s nicknamed as « the Idiot » ?
- Yes, it dates from this time. His long reign is a sharp contrast to the old men succession of the last centuries, and even if it allowed great reforms, the nickname remained. Though everybody idolizes him today and nobody remembers why he’s called so, they keep calling him that way.
- That’s not fair ! aggressively exclaimed Tawenza.

Afaw only laughed

- Life isn’t fair, Tawenza. It’s up to you to make it so ! he threw with a bright eye. Anyway, let’s continue. What do you know about Murzuk ?
- It’s a Nomes, a kind of big province. His capital is one of the six large cities which constitute the cradle of our civilization with the Nomes of the capital, the Great Swarty and the other Nomes : Balun, Tammuat, Garama and Akadabakhe…
- Adkaddakhe.
- Oh, come on ! I never remember this one ! vociferated the princess.
 
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stnylan

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Well that map looks wonderfully messy.
 

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Well that map looks wonderfully messy.
I grossly simplified it. And the rest of the map doesn't look better. The AI proved itself to be unable for two centuries to create large countries of empire-ish size. It always crumbled back to counties or duchies. Though, something is happening in France and India, I truly wonder if it's finally the end of the Dark Ages.
 

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This family has a lot of interesting members, although we've yet to see the heir or the actual Pharao.

Also, the Sassanid Empire seems to be the only one of the old empires to still hold together.
 

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This family has a lot of interesting members, although we've yet to see the heir or the actual Pharao.

Also, the Sassanid Empire seems to be the only one of the old empires to still hold together.
The family have a lot of members, period. :D
I was planning to present the Aai-Pharaoh and important sons in the next chapter, but I decided to add one more chapter before, to give more depth to the empire structure and to the Swarty's court.

Indeed, the Sassanid Empire is the last powerful empire from the start, actually expanded his territory. Gupta crumbled on itself, Western Roman Empire was conquered, then cut in pieces independence revolt after an other, Soissons and Visigothic lose province after province, to the point of Soissons annihilation and Visigothic reduced to all but two provinces in Pyrenees. Eastern Roman Empire divided, then in the last decades made some sort of comeback, but the bubonic plague hit it hard, and the empress is facing a huge revolt.
There's only Axum who keep chilling in Ethiopia. Altough he lost a few eastern provinces, gained some southern ones, and now he's fine.
 
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Good evening everyone, just a little post to let you know that there will be no new chapter tomorrow.
The pace of a chapter per week is difficult to maintain now that my holidays are over. The text isn't done quite yet and I even not started the translation : it will be released next friday ! It will allow me to take in the wake of it some head start for the chapter 4, which will be more filling.
 

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No worries
 

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No problems. We can understand if real life schedule get in the way of the AAR. :)
 
Chapter 3 : The Lybian exception

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Chapter 3 : The Libyan exception


« Numerous are those whom speculated upon the political, religious and cultural centralization shifting of the Garamante Empire. Some claim it was done for practical reasons, which is false. Replacing local leaders by foreign rulers only led to regular people revolts. Others affirm that Garamantes did so for religious belief, which is just as false : even though kemetic faith aggressively spread out over North Africa, its expansion happened in areas where religions were not organized at all and could vary from a village to another. The Garamantian’s kemetic version was in no way as proselyte as could have been Christianity before him, then Islam.
The recent discovery from New Pictish researchers of a correspondence between the Pharaoh Amestida and the Libyan duke Awilan III enlighten the garamantian political organization. If this confirms the lybian exception within the empire, it also says us a lot about the nomarchs’s opposition in the country. Amestida seemed to deeply respect the libyan people, who were at the time of the great garamante reconquest – which begun after the fall of Augustus – the only people to share their religion. It was most likely the facter that led the libyan nobles to stay in power by the own Amestida decision in the 630s, and despite the resistance of his vassals.

To me, one matter is obvious. Unlike some self-righteous person, who think astute to apply our ways of thinking to men we are separated by a millennium and half, and absolutely seriously explain that the Garamante Empire’s project was a genocidal and ideological one, my reading is different. Even though ethnic slaughters took place under the Pharaos Udad II and Amazzak, DNA studies of their remains showed they had mental deficiencies, probably due to regular and common consanguineous marriages amongst the Azûlays. No, I think on the contrary that the Garamantes people were traumatized since the roman conquest and their situation on the brink of extinction in the fifth century. They had lost tolerance for different peoples, which is the mark of a confident and forward-looking people.

The Garamantes no longer trusted themselves. Thus, it's not surprising that they were struck down at the height of their power at the beginning of the seventh century. The great conquests which began under the first Pharaoh Idus “The Ancient” had in effect only offered to the Garamantes and kemetic faith a reprieve of two centuries. »

« The Garamantes : A 1 500 years concise and simplified chronology », Cathair Mac Cardagáin




Iagburn, province of Nasamonensis, Nasamoni pharaonat, 9th June 616




The first refugees, mainly coptics, came since a month. They were screaming, whining, dying, by dozens. The army was obdurate : the agitators were executed on the spot, the ill people penned in fenced spaces only to die in filthy conditions, while the others waited in hardly better enclosures. Death was also prowling there. The ghost of the plague sometimes passed, but it was especially the starvation one : the town was a provincial capital, remote from the coastline and far away from croplands. There was only livestock farming, and it was certainly not enough to make subsist all those coastal populations that were retreating inland.




Usem was gazing at those tragic scenes from far away, leaning on his elbows on the ledge of one of the Iagburn castle decks. He was not seeing much apart from the noise, the crowd and the agitation. He willingly wanted to see what was going on there, but the man who was waiting for him inside prevented him to do so since the arrival of the first refugees. He was saying he could not take the risk of letting the brother and heir of the province’s governor getting sick.

- Master ? he asked as he turned to the man. When could I leave the castle ?
- Today. But you will no go in town.

Intrigued and excited by this announcement, Usem stared the man. As the inside was dark, he therefore entered to better gaze him.




The Afalkay’s face was the same as always : severity and authority made man. The regent and court tutor of Nasamonensis was at this moment the true leader of the province.
Despite his well past 49 years old, he kept a respectable physical stature and a large scar proving his brilliant military career. Usem hoped to succeed in life just as much as Afalkay. For the time being, this one was looking him up and down by a stern gaze.

- You’d better move yourself away from your brother for a while, before one of you does something unfortunate.

Usem reluctantly nodded. He could not deny the deep hatred between him and his half-brother Menna, owing to tensions linked to their father’s inheritance, which only worsen following the years to the point of open warfare between the two teenagers.




Fate made it so they were born shortly one after the other. Close to a few months, it could have been him in charge of Iagburn, and Menna who would have been forced to leave the town.
They were lucky to have a regent like Afalkay, with enough guts to prevent them to mutually go for the throat, with all the typical passion of their youth.

- You’re leaving for Csi-Swarty’s court, pick up again the regent.

Usem’s eyes widened. Csi-Swarty ! The empire’s capital, the court of the Aai-Pharaoh ! He, the brother of some obscure Irypat from the desert of Cyrenaica ! He would at last be able to see with his own eyes all the wonders of the heart of the empire ! The royal family, the Pharaonic Guard, the riches which passed through the capital, before carrying on their journey to the four corners of the world…

- Oh master, I…
- Shut up and sit down, coldly cut him Afalkay.

Calmed, but far from being let down by the attitude of his tutor, Usem obeyed without batting an eye, hanging on every word of his interlocutor.

- The imperial court is an authentic nest of vipers, I could not decently send you there without any preparations nor any supports on the spot. My acquaintance’s network was finally able to contact someone, who agreed to take you under his wing.
- Who is… impatiently cut off Usem.
- I haven’t finished. There are many things you must understand. Firstly, this woman, because she is one indeed, doesn’t welcome you by pure altruism. She is the second wife of the Aai-Pharaoh’s spy-master, and doesn’t hesitate to help her husband when needed. She is a formidable schemer, talented in the court’s plots.I don’t know what she may have in the back her mind about you, but be sure she sees in you some use. Secondly, once there, you’ll be alone. Totally and entirely alone. Your only support will be this woman, who has certainly not very legal plans for you.
- And what’s her name ?
- Tamenzut Azûlay. Her full name is Tamenzut Yeggi Amesggin Azûlay. She is a terribly clever, twisted and ruthless woman. I saw many of people like her in my long life. Those people are dangerous, but I fear she’s worse.
- And, with all due respect, you still want to send me there ? answered the teenager, who was beginning to doubt of the validity of his trip.

To his surprise, Afalkay looked away, embarrassed by his question. After a few seconds, he put back his eyes on Usem’s ones, a new flame burning within them.

- Yes. Because thirdly, we are libyans. The regent kept quiet.
- And… ? called Usem again, surprised by silence and the direction of the discussion.
- I taught it to you : Garamantes are excessively dominant in the newly conquered regions. The nomarchs who govern the Tuaregs are garamantian, as well as for the Chaouis, the Mzab-Warglas and now the Copts ! We only have those lands because…
- We are the only ones with them to follow the precepts of Amun-Re for centuries, before the great conquests of the Azûlays. I indeed learned it recited Usem with a bored look. I still don’t see where you are coming to, master.
- Though we are sharing the same faith, they still consider us barely better than those bands of roaming barbarians ravaging lands beyond the Mediterranean. And what about our people who suffer under the Pharaoh Arzugis ! The majority of the dwellers here are tuaregs, not Libyans. We aren’t in our lands !

Usem could only stay silent facing such a passionate demonstration. He still asked a question, which concerned him directly.

- So what do you expect from me by sending me there ?
- To act for our people from the court ! To finally take back our lands !

The teenager patiently watched the regent. He really, deeply believed in it. Usem meanwhile only saw in the empire a believers community, united by the only true faith, the kemetic one. Defending his culture did not interest him, whereas religion already included every subjects of the empire.
Nevertheless, saying that aloud and Afalkay would never let him go out.

- So… I’ll try my best, he said with a faltering voice.
- And I do not ask for less. You have potential and opportunity to use it. Play your own game, and don’t get caught in those of others to your detriment. That’s all I can advise you, answered Afalklay on a tone distinctly more warm and… relieved ?

The regent accompanied him to his apartments. Usem had to prepare his stuff to go for Csi-Swarty. A trip that would go to the coastline before taking the sea, for more safety and speed, before entering again in the inland, toward the capital.


-------------------------------------------------​


Swarty in the East, capital of the Garamante Empire, 19 June616




The sight of the city made Usem forgetting all the annoyances he had suffered during his journey. Fear in his heart as when he crossed the plagued cities, his first time on a boat, the exhausting walking through the desert : the Csi-Swarty was far from the miseries which struck the rest of the country.
The streets were crowded with guards, merchants, travelers and townspeople. Everywhere, products were spreading in this hub of North Africa. The wealth was displayed, both on people and buildings which quality betrayed the means put for the construction. And for a good reason, as it was an artery leading to the palace : he was walking in one of the most expensive neighborhoods of the city !




For the umpteenth time, he uttered a sigh of admiration when he finally emerged on the main square, in front of the palace. Observing it removed any doubt that the Aai-Pharaoh was one of the richest men of the world. On the walls of pink sandstone were added marble columns imported from the Pyrenees and Greece. He could see still more guards pharaonic this time, visible between the many pennants displaying the colors of the empire.

A slave was watching out for him in the palace’s shade. After seeing the young libyan lost in the middle of the square, he went towards him.

- Lord Usem Mmi Idir Idirid ?

Usem confirmed with a nod.

- Please follow me, my mistress is waiting for you.

He would quickly be lost in this maze without his guide. Despite the size of the building, there were everywhere marauding guards or courtiers, walking in one direction or the other without paying much attention to the young man and the slave. There was, after all, always something to do here.
However, over their journey, Usem saw some curiosities : several dwarves, hunchbacks and even some monstrosities barely human. When he questioned his guide about it, this one quickly checked they were not observed before started speaking.

- It’s better to hold your tongue on this subject : every last one of them are Azûlays. The imperial court, as you will soon discover, is a true freak show. You’ll find people like… Those we have just met, and others, extremely imposing physically speaking and sharp-minded, like my mistress.

Usem thought his new protector knew how to choose her servants, since this one was not only obviously educated but loyal.

- And believe me, I’m not honeyed to my mistress : she is terribly intelligent. It is said that the lineage of the Aai-Pharaoh is blessed by the gods. How could it be otherwise ? The empire only thrives despite obstacles. Therefore, each of their member receives a gift from the gods. However, some seem to better manage it than others…

He shrugged.

- But that’s only rumors.

He led him to a room in the center of the palace, after having climbed a volley of stairs. Inside, a woman was busy talking to four other people, courtiers given their clothes. She turned to the two newcomers.




As Usem had observed during his walk in the palace, there were surprisingly few people with a garamante profile. This woman wasn’t an exception : she was closer to those barbarians people of the north who had settled in Hispania and Italy.

- So, the libyan arrived, she said on a neutral tone. You did it quickly.

And to turn back to her interlocutors, sending Usem away with a gesture. The slave encouraged the young man to followed him. Too outraged to react, Usem obediently followed him to leave the room.

- She just… he exclaimed.
- You’ll need to get used to it, lord. That’s how lady Tamenzut is. She is too smart to give us more than a few seconds of her attention, I fear.

Usem grumbled, frustrated at being string along so arbitrarily by a woman, even though she was close to the Aai-Pharaoh.

- At least you saw her. With the departure of the Aai-Pharaoh for Alexandria, the palace is quite calm today. You might not even seen her if he was there.

Usem raised his eyebrows. This hive of activity, quite calm ?

- Please follow me, it’s time for you to discover your new apartments.

Astounded by his surroundings, Usem followed the slave in the corridors, towards his new life.
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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I think Usem is going to find it some getting used to.