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The Delhi official made for the door to Bahlul Khan Lodi’s throne room. As he reached the door he turned to face the Sultan, who had been about to make an offensive gesture towards the official, but instead hurriedly and awkwardly made to stroke his beard instead.

“Same time next month” the official grinned sheepishly at the Sultan, who met his grin with a stony silence. The door opened and the official left, relieved the meeting was over.

upload_2020-4-7_17-28-7.png

Bahlul Khan Lodi sighed as soon as the door closed, before cursing the official, and the name of his overlord, Alam Shah Sayyid. It had been barely a year since he had attempted to overthrow the Sayyids and take Delhi for himself, but his attempt had been thwarted by a heavy monsoon and a bout of camp fever amongst his soldiers; since the aborted siege it had been the worst kept secret in all of Sirhind that he would one day try again. His acts of court done for the day, Lodi retired to his bedchamber, acknowledging the guard posted outside. Once in his chamber he clutched the amulet around his chest, which had once belonged to his grandfather, the great Malik Bahram Lodi. A pair of rubies embedded in a golden medallion, worn around his neck during his days in court as a reminder of his predecessor. It had been gifted to Bahlul Khan on his grandfather’s deathbed, along with the proclamation that one day he would have a kingdom to rule of his own. True to the prophecy, Bahlul Khan had first been granted a pargana of his own in Sirhind, and had built up an impressive territory from there, having added Lahore and its surrounding lands to his rule. The final piece of the puzzle for Bahlul Khan lay to the east, where the Sayyids had presided over the remnants of the Delhi Sultanate. The kingdom had been in something of a terminal decline since the sack of Delhi itself by Tamerlane some fifty years earlier, but still claimed overlordship of Sirhind. Through what appeared to those outside the court as little more than luck, the Sultanate had survived. However, there would surely be many who would welcome a regime change, not least of all Bahlul Khan Lodi.

Clutching his grandfather’s amulet to his chest, he took one last breath to clear his thoughts, and left the chamber for his evening stroll around the palace walls. As he made to acknowledge the guard at the door, he noticed that this one appeared different to the one who had been posted when he entered his chamber. He stared at the guard for a moment, who looked somewhat fidgety, but was doing his best to stand to attention in the presence of his liege. Bahlul Khan Lodi had something of a reputation as a disciplinarian, and no doubt it was this fear which was making the soldier uneasy. He turned and headed towards the ramparts of the palace, something he frequently did to pass the time by observing the city and its people from atop the palace walls. He watched the cotton merchants closing up their market stalls for the day, the travellers heading for the taverns, and the carriage of the official as it began returning towards Delhi. He fixed his eyes on the carriage for a moment, and watched as one of its wheels fell off, as he had instructed his servant to sabotage it earlier in the afternoon. The Sultan even afforded himself a chuckle as the official and driver stood in the street, looking perplexed at the now three wheeled vehicle as men came to see what all of the fuss was about. Such petty acts were surely unbecoming of a man with as mighty a reputation as Bahlul Khan Lodi, but he did what he could to make the Delhi officials lives as inconvenienced as possible anyway, knowing that the feeling was surely mutual between the courts of Delhi and Sirhind. He took one last look around the city, and went back inside to his bedchambers, taking another gaze at the guard outside the door. The guard still looked like he was recovering from the stare he had received when the Sultan was on his way out. Once inside, he took off the amulet of his Malik Bahram Lodi, and placed it in the chest next to his bed. He locked the chest, and soon fell asleep, dreaming of how he might continue to be a nuisance for Alam Shah Sayyid and the Delhi Sultanate.

Outside the bedroom, Akram Manak breathed a sigh of relief. Everything had gone according to his plan, well, that of his master Yusuf Singh at least. Yusuf Singh served in the court of Alam Shah Sayyid, and had heard from his spies and the delegations from Delhi to Sirhind about the amulet that Bahlul Khan Lodi wore. Such an amulet as this must be invaluable to him, and the loss of the amulet, Yusuf had figured, would show this rebellious upstart who was really in charge. He had devised a simple plan for Akram Manak to follow: enter the city, disguise himself as a guardsman, break into the palace chambers and steal the amulet, then make a getaway. It had been a simple enough plan for Akram to follow so far. Now here he was, outside the Sultans bedchamber, all he needed to do was to get the amulet and leave. This was the part he knew best, lockpicking had been a specialty of his since he was a child on the Delhi streets, trying to get enough food to survive. This amulet would make him enough to retire a rich man. He waited what seemed like an eternity for Bahlul Khan to fall asleep, before surveying the corridor one final time. Nobody was coming.

He took his lockpicks from his tunic and got to work, picking the chamber door with ease. Pushing the door open very slowly in order not to wake the Sultan, he crept to the chest with the amulet in it. The chest was every bit as magnificent as the amulet, the lid engraved with an outline of the Indian subcontinent, with several of the major cities marked out. Around the side were images of men, presumably Malik Bahram Lodi’s predecessors, slaying their enemies in combat. Akram had no time for marvelling at the design of the chest now though. He inserted his lockpick into the keyhole and began searching for the point where the lock would give. As he turned he felt some resistance, he turned in the other direction. There was an audible click as the lockpick broke.

Akram Manak had not planned for this.

Bahlul Khan Lodi woke with a start at the sound and saw the thief. He hurriedly got up and reached for his sword. In a panic, Akram grabbed the chest, getting to the door quicker than Lodi who was not far behind. He saw the open window ahead and sprinted down the corridor, leaping out into the night.

Akram had not planned for this either.

The Sultan reached the window and looked down, the loud splash as the thief hit the water would surely be heard by the guards on patrol. He went back into his chamber and saw the space where the chest containing his grandfather’s amulet would normally be. He had treasured this amulet for many years, a legacy of his grandfather and a sign of his destiny, and in a moment it had gone. Bahlul Khan could feel a rage brewing inside him as he called for his guards, and began describing the height and build of the thief to the men in the palace.

In the castle moat, Akram Manak swam like his life depended on it, which it did. He had been caught stealing the Sultan's most valued possession and surely every guard in the city would soon be on him. He reached the edge of the riverway and made for the city gates, disposing of his guardsman’s tunic as he did so. He felt sure he would be stopped, but news obviously hadn’t spread yet, for although there were some odd looks at the still dripping man running through the city streets, he was able to make it as far as the gates. When he got there, he made for the horse he had arrived on. As he went to mount it, he was challenged. Explaining that he had been unfortunate enough to be walking past a window as some dirty water was thrown out of it - which also explained the smell - the guardsman let him pass. Akram breathed a sigh of relief, but this would not last long. He heard the bellowing voice of Bahlul Khan Lodi in the streets, promising a reward for anyone who found a thief, soaked from head to toe in the waters of the palace moat. The gate guard realised a moment too late that he had been duped, and turned to see Akram Manak riding into the distance.

Bahlul Khan Lodi stood at the city gates, and looked out at the rider in the distance. He promised himself that this would be the last mistake that Delhi would ever make. The royal proclamation in front of all gathered there was brief. Delhi would fall.

upload_2020-4-7_17-28-31.png

Akram Manak rode hard and made Delhi as quickly as he could. Leaving his horse at the gate he rushed to his master Yusuf Singh, who had just come from a meeting with Alam Shah. Yusuf was slightly surprised by the presence of his apprentice in court, and rather more repulsed by the smell of a man who had ridden the entire journey without pausing to change his clothes, which still bore the odour of the moat that Akram had jumped into in order to escape Bahlul Khan Lodi. Yusuf’s joy at the sight of the chest containing the amulet was short-lived, firstly as Akram told him of his narrow escape, before the conversation was interrupted by alarmed voices around the palace of Alam Shah. Scouts had seen an army coming from the west, headed by Bahlul Khan Lodi himself. He was coming for what was his.

Bahlul Khan Lodi drew up his army upon the drylands of Bhattiana, a middle ground between Sirhind and Delhi. His stirring speech had roused the spirits of his own people, who had willingly followed him to war. His followers would be superior to the outnumbered, outflanked armies of their Delhi overlords, but he knew that he could not be complacent. He drew up his lines for battle, and seeing his opposite Daulat Khan Nazimmudin do the same, the order was given to advance. Bahlul Khan Lodi had seen years in the field, and his experience and leadership shone over his rival. He was able to effectively counter anything the enemy threw at him in the centre, whilst his cavalry on the flanks had freedom to harass the enemy line. When the dust settled, the enemy had been routed from the field, Bahlul Khan was victorious. Celebrations would be short lived, however. The road to Delhi now lay open, but there was first the matter of the army of Jangladesh to deal with.

upload_2020-4-7_17-28-47.png

Suraj Paunia was marching his army as hard as he could. It had taken some time to rouse his troops for war; perhaps it was the rumours that Bahlul Khan Lodi had a reputation for executing any enemies he had captured in battle, or maybe it was that the reports of the vastly superior enemy numbers, that had made his soldiers somewhat reluctant to face an army of Sirhind. It had been a march of several days across the desert in Churu, which had done little for the morale of his men; the rivers around Bhattiana had been a blessed relief to those who had only seen sand for days. Paunia had heard that this would be a likely spot for a battle, if indeed there would be one, and had marched his men as hard as he could, hoping he would not be too late.

He would soon find his answer. His men crossed a river and rounded a bend in the road towards Sirhind, whereupon they stumbled into the entire Sirhindi army. Bahlul Khan Lodi at the head of his men roared with laughter at his pitiful force. His soldiers followed suit. Suraj Paunia and his men fled, figuring they would at least escape with their lives this way. Smiling to himself about how easy it had all been, Bahlul Khan Lodi divided his forces, sending contingents to occupy Bhattiana, Panipat and Upper Doab, whilst he would march with the rest of his army to Delhi. He would not fail this time.

upload_2020-4-7_17-29-29.png

Inside the Delhi court, Yusuf Singh had summoned his new apprentice, Ibrahim Nadeem. Stealing the amulet would have been a good idea were it not for the incompetence of Akram Manak, who had survived just long enough to see the Sirhindi army march up to the gates and set up a siege. The loss of the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi had driven his grandson on, and Bahlul Khan Lodi now stood outside the walls of Delhi, determined to get it back. Having made sure Ibrahim understood his instructions to the letter, he was sent to carry out his task. Yusuf and Ibrahim were to split up and leave Delhi with separate groups of deserting civilians, and were to meet up at the only place left where an army capable of any resistance would muster, the fort in Jangladesh. Yusuf, as always, was perfect in executing his plan; his disguise fooled the Sirhindi guards who were on the lookout for anyone suspicious leaving the capital, and he was on the road southwest. Once safely past the army, Yusuf waited for Ibrahim, who was in the next group of civilians. The plan was working, at least it was until the nervous Ibrahim trod on his own gown, giving a slight reveal of the chest he was carrying inside. Yusuf gasped in horror at the thought of Ibrahim having revealed the secret, but the guards did not notice much and the two men united, making for Jangladesh, hoping that they would make good their escape and hopefully pawn off the amulet when they reached their destination.

Bahlul Khan Lodi stood at the gates of Delhi and welcomed the delegation from inside the city. The defending garrison was unwilling to suffer any longer for the sake of Alam Shah Sayyid, who had no hope of summoning enough of a force to scatter the attackers. With the surrender taken as read, Bahlul Khan entered the city and searched the palace while his men occupied the fortifications. The search revealed nothing, however, and the victorious Sultan was growing frustrated when a report came in from a scout patrol. Two men had been seen on the road to Jangladesh, one of whom was carrying a fine looking chest, nicely engraved, apparently carrying something precious. The search for the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi was on once more, his grandson rounding up his troops for Jangladesh.

upload_2020-4-7_17-29-38.png

Yusuf Singh took a look over the walls of Jangladesh and sighed. The army of Sirhind was making camps outside, and drawing up a siege. Another apprentice had failed him. He had dismissed Ibrahim Nadeem on their arrival at the fort, but with news of the enemy advance, he knew he could not stay long in Jangladesh. A visit to the tailor later, and he was on his way. The guard patrols weren’t as rigorous as they had been in Delhi, thank goodness, and he was soon heading for pastures new. Where, he wasn’t quite sure, but away from Bahlul Khan Lodi would be a start.

upload_2020-4-7_17-29-57.png

The Sultan awoke from his tent one morning and gazed at the city walls he had become familiar with for almost a year. It had been a long time to have spent away from Sirhind, but it would be worth it, he had told himself, to recover the amulet. Since the siege had been set up, everyone who had left Jangladesh had been searched; the amulet had not been found, and so must still be inside the city. The thought had kept him going while the defenders had resisted manfully, even for six months after the attackers had breached the city walls. This morning felt different, however. Food and water had been scarce for weeks, and rumours were about the camp that a surrender was imminent. Sure enough, in the heat of the afternoon sun, the defenders could take no more. The gates were opened and the besiegers marched in. As he had done at Delhi, Bahlul Khan Lodi made for the palace, and he and his retinue began to turn over every chest, wardrobe and cupboard in the building, hoping to be reunited with the amulet of his grandfather.

upload_2020-4-7_17-30-9.png

The last room in the palace had been searched, and Bahlul Khan Lodi let out a roar of frustration. He and his men had thoroughly searched the palace, and reports from within the city were also proving fruitless. The amulet had evaded him again. The journey to his estate at Sirhind after the surrender, and complete annexation, of both Delhi and Jangladesh, should have been a joyous one. He had thrown off the shackles of his overlord and now ruled a kingdom of his own, as his grandfather had prophesied he would, but without the amulet it all seemed for nought. There was still no trace of the amulet, and he prayed that he would get a chance to find the man responsible for its theft, and recover it once and for all. It would take pride of place in his bedchamber, he had thought, mounted where nobody would be able to steal it again.

upload_2020-4-7_17-30-17.png

In a dimly lit tavern, the sun setting in the distance, Yusuf Singh smiled to himself. He sat at a table and drank his wine to the ignorance of those around him, next to him was a fine wooden chest, belonging to Bahlul Khan Lodi. The Sultan’s men had been most thorough in searching him, and his cart, but had not found the hidden compartment containing the chest, and Yusuf had enjoyed a leisurely journey away from Jangladesh. He had been on the road for several months now, sometimes sleeping in his cart on the road, others in whatever tavern he had come across. He would not stop, however, until he had found somewhere safe. Somewhere over the Sirhindi borders, where he would not be checked. Nobody in the villages knew about the amulet, which was to his advantage. Whilst at the table, he had written a missive to someone he would be sure would be interested in acquiring such a precious item that had sentimental value to the Sultan of Sirhind, in the morning he would send a carrier pigeon with the letter, before setting off again.

Before the assembled crowds in Delhi, Bahlul Khan Lodi stood ready to give his speech. He had returned to Sirhind before heading for the headquarters of his now defeated overlords, the Sayyids. His intention was to reassure the people of Delhi that even though he had beaten Alam Shah, and was now ruler of the kingdom, there would be no changes or upheavals for them to worry about. He would finish by announcing the construction of a fort in the city to defer future enemy attacks, before unfurling the banners of the new kingdom for all to see. All went swimmingly for the Sultan, and with the announcement of the fort he gave the signal, at which point he was alarmed and dismayed to see the banners unfurl. They were not the white of Sirhind, but the green, red and blue stripes of the former Delhi Sultanate. He stood awkwardly for a moment, with the crowd stunned to silence. He turned to face the crowd, feeling rather awkward.

“Why of course,” he started. “The reason I said that nothing would change for the people of Delhi, is that I myself, and my heirs, shall be the new sultans of Delhi. Everything will be as it was before, my people will be glad to accept your traditions and ideals as their own. You may enjoy your lives as citizens of the Delhi Sultanate, which will rise again.”

upload_2020-4-7_17-30-30.png


His voice tapered off, he turned away from his audience, and clapped. The guards in his eyesight took the hint of the menacing glare they were given, and began clapping too. Moments later the crowd had taken the hint and united in a steady, confused applause. Bahlul Khan had somehow turned this mishap into an unconvincing victory. Away from the crowds at a meeting of court, the Sultan learned how the mix up with the flags had occurred. The guards assigned to the duties had been accosted, only found hours later in a pile of hay at the palace stables. The two “guards” who unveiled the Delhi flags had revealed themselves to be agents of Multan, who Bahlul Khan was quick to send an emissary declaring a rivalry. As he dismissed the court, the Sultan welcomed another messenger, bringing news of a man with a wooden chest that never left his side, engraved with fighting warriors. The messenger gave a brief description of the man, and left with the words that he had last been seen heading northwest towards Kabul, and possibly beyond.

upload_2020-4-7_17-30-41.png
 

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DukeOfNorfolk

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Hello and welcome to a new AAR (unfortunately, Tales From the Brotherhood has fallen by the wayside). Apologies for a very long opening post, but the reconquest of Delhi happened so quickly after starting the game that I couldn't see how to break the post down into anything shorter.

There aren't really any aims or achievements to this game (unless I somehow manage a World Conquest, but this is extremely unlikely), I just wanted to have some fun writing a story based around playing EU4, and I hope you will enjoy the Quest for the amulet - as well as hopefully one or two silly moments along the way!
 

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I like the narrarive structure, following the amulet from foe to foe, presumably for generations. Can't wait to see where it goes.
 

DukeOfNorfolk

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I like the narrarive structure, following the amulet from foe to foe, presumably for generations. Can't wait to see where it goes.
Thank you! I'll try and post about once a week or so, depending on how much I've written :)
 

DukeOfNorfolk

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In the eyes of Bahlul Khan Lodi, northwest could mean only one thing; the Timurids were aiming to take possession of his grandfather’s amulet. Even worse was the thought that they already had it, but there was only one way to be sure. The Sultan made sure that his armies were prepared, and marched in the direction of Afghanistan, knowing that his best chances of recovering the amulet were probably over the border. The army, either inspired or intimidated by the presence of their liege, marched in file behind him. The soldiers hoped that this campaign would be just as swift as the last one, although rumours they were fighting the heirs of Tamerlane led them to think otherwise. Nevertheless, they remained in high spirits until they reached the western border province of Bhera. In their way lay the city of Margalla, beyond that lay the Afghan territory of Roh. The expedition halted and the Sultan went to address the guardsman at the city gate. The intention was to negotiate a peaceful march around the city in order to confront the Timurids, but the guardsman at the city walls frustrated the marching Delhi army by claiming he would have to get approval from his captain, who just so happened to be in the neighbouring province of Kashmir. Until the correct permission had been given, Bahlul Khan and his men were going nowhere. Frustrated, but understanding nonetheless, the Sultan left a detachment of mercenaries outside Margalla with orders to await further instructions, whilst the bulk of the army would make for a new camp at the foot of the Kashmir mountains. Bahlul Khan’s scouts traced the movements of the officious guardsman from Margalla, who had at least been true to his word and made for his capital. The following morning an emissary from the Kashmiris came to the camp, asking to speak to the Sultan. The emissary came with a small bodyguard, and some of the local trading commodity, paper, in his hand. The Sultan looked curiously at the emissary, and at the paper, and wondered if he should’ve brought a gift of his own in exchange.

upload_2020-4-18_15-46-21.png

“Your highness of Delhi. To what do we owe the pleasure?” The emissary was at least courteous in bowing to the Sultan, but his tone sounded disrespectful.

“Has your guardsman not told you? Well, we seek passage through your territories in order to reconnoitre the Timurids, who lie beyond your borders.” The Sultan grew impatient rather quickly, he had already lost time waiting here and wasn’t about to waste much more.

“I’m afraid that won’t be possible, your highness. At least not until you have filled in this parchment detailing the number of soldiers in your company, the purpose of your expedition, and how you intend to finance your stay in the cities of Margalla, Kashmir and Jammu. On the back of the form you will need to also give details of any heirs or heiresses we may need to contact owing to the unexpe-”

The emissary’s words were cut off at this point by a yelp of surprise from Bahlul Khan. He had fallen asleep during the emissary’s speech and had to be nudged awake by one of his commanders. The emissary handed the form to the Sultan, who glanced it over before marking a box on the form, and passed it back to the emissary with a smile. The emissary read the form and looked up at the Sultan, somewhat more nervous than he had been before.

“It appears you’ve ticked the box marked ‘Declaration of war’,” the emissary stood, shaking in his boots. Bahlul Khan and his bodyguards took a menacing step forward. The emissary from Kashmir fled.

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A signal was given to the army, and missives sent to separate detachments in Bhera and Doaba with orders to advance. The Kashmiris had been taken by surprise at the Delhi attack; their army had barely time to muster before being routed by the advancing Delhi forces. In only a month, Margalla and Jammu would be under occupation, but for Bahlul Khan it was all about eliminating Kashmiri resistance, and then seeing if he had the forces to move on the Timurids. The Delhi army made camp and surrounded the city, being sure to follow the orders of their liege to search anyone who left, and ask about an engraved wooden chest. It seemed an odd thing to be asking for, but the Sultan was a man who people tended to follow without question. They had heard what had happened to the diplomats from Kashmir, and nobody wanted to end up suffering the same fate.

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It had taken almost a year, and the Sultan was starting to grow impatient. It had been almost a year since the declaration of war, which at the time had seemed a better alternative to filling in the forms the emissary had brandished in his direction, but his mind still lingered on the amulet. Thankfully he would not have to wait for too much longer. He had sent a peace treaty that morning into the Kashmiri court, which he hoped he had made very clear for his enemies by only leaving one box on the peace treaty for the defenders to fill in. The box on the form was for the Kashmiris to sign and accept the surrender and annexation of their territories, which thankfully they did. It had cost the Sultan a year, but at least he could return to the capital with the successful conquest of three new provinces. Those in Delhi with long memories could remember the days long past when Margalla had been a core territory of the Sultanate, and this province would be easier to annex than the rest, the others could pose issues if enough people were brave enough (or stupid enough, the Sultan chuckled to himself), to challenge him.

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Bahlul Khan returned to court in his capital, whereupon he learned of a number of things that had taken place whilst he had been away. He had left his advisors in charge of finding allies for the Delhi Sultanate, and they had succeeded in securing friendships with Bengal and Nagaur. He also had the chance to conduct a proper ceremony in the capital, as he had agreed to marry a noble woman from the house of Khiliji the previous year. The marriage had produced a healthy looking boy named Muhammad Shah, who the Sultan would one day tell of the amulet of Muhammad’s great-grandfather, although of course he hoped he would be able to show it to him in person. With time to settle down in his new capital, and enjoy the fruits of three years of campaigning, Bahlul Khan sat and hoped, mostly that he would be able to go back on campaign soon - life in court tended to bore him rather quickly. Reports had reached his ears of a man who had been seen in Kashmiri territories asking for directions to Herat. The man looked like he had all of his possessions with him, as if he had been on the move for some time now, and most of all, a lift of his cloak had revealed a glimpse of a wooden box. The Sultan had heard all that he needed to hear, all he needed now was a pretext to invade the Timurids. This soon came with news that Transoxiana, a rebellious subject of the Timurids, were looking for assistance in supporting their independence. The search for the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi would have to wait until Transoxiana rose up in revolt, but the chance to fight the Timurids would be worth the wait.

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Not wishing for any distractions whilst preparing for a war with the Timurids, Bahlul Khan continued to leave the day to day affairs of court in the hands of his aides while he remained with the army, visiting the court from time to time. The Sultan’s aides had done well in securing defensive alliances in his absence, and the future of the Lodi dynasty was secure with the birth of Muhammad Shah. With no enemies to fight, the Sultan found himself increasingly drawn to thinking about his grandfather’s amulet, especially about places it might end up next were the thief to elude him again - there were several smaller states surrounding the Delhi Sultanate where the thief might try to hide after all. The Sultan’s aides had brokered an alliance with Nagaur, and a diplomat sent to their court had confirmed no sign of an engraved wooden box, let alone an amulet. The neighbouring state of Dhundar had not been willing to ally, however, as good a reason as any to send some spies into the country to see what they may be hiding. In addition to suspecting Dhundar, the Sultan also found any correspondence with the neighbouring state of Jaunpur to be curious. Why would they be friendly towards Delhi, yet also want to be hostile to Delhi’s ally, Bengal? The Sultan found himself increasingly less trusting of the Jaunpuri diplomats the longer they stayed in court, and was more than happy to accept an alliance with Malwa instead. If Jaunpur was up to something, then the alliance network of Delhi, Bengal and Malwa would surely be strong enough to take them down.

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Winter came and went, and the Sultan carried on waiting for the call to arms from Transoxania, which was yet to come. Reports from the northwest border towns were that very few people had tried to enter Delhi, and that none of them had been in possession of the amulet. The Sultan had dealt with reports of separatists in the former Jangladeshi and Kashmiri provinces, and had listened with feigned interest while a trader had spoken to him at length about how the marketplaces of Delhi were now much more efficient than they had been before. A war with the Timurids would be long and exhausting, he had figured, and it would be nice to spend time with his son, and to tell the story of the amulet, even if he was too young to understand for now. Whilst he had been in court, his military had been keeping itself busy, having mastered the Pike Square formation the previous summer. He hoped this would give his army the advantage whilst on campaign, but most of all he hoped for a chance to find the mystery man who had stolen the amulet. The spring passed, and still the Sultan could only walk around the courtroom, imagining his battle plans, and of holding the amulet once more. His prayers were finally answered on a summer’s afternoon with the arrival at court of a deputation from Sistan. The vassal subjects of the Timurids had declared their independence, and Delhi would be expected to join them in the war. The Sultan was all too happy to answer, and marched northwest with his troops once more.

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DukeOfNorfolk

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I love this AAR
Please continue it

Excellent storytelling and you appear to have a great grasp of Indian culture and flavour
Pls write more

:)
Thank you very much! I've played (and written) a little way ahead of what's online at the moment. More to come soon :)
 

DukeOfNorfolk

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Bahlul Khan Lodi led his armies into Timurid territory with haste. It had been several years since he had had the opportunity to search for his grandfather’s amulet, and he was determined not to let it get away again. His soldiers, having been mustered in a hurry, were somewhat grateful that the enemy was nowhere to be seen - presumably engaged in the west. The Sultan ordered his armies to occupy several territories with the hope of drawing his enemies out. If he could defeat and capture an enemy general in battle, he reasoned, then he may be able to get some answers as to the whereabouts of the amulet. The winter passed, and with no reports of an enemy army in sight, the Sultan lost patience. The Timurids were not coming to fight, so Bahlul Khan Lodi would go to fight them. He mustered his forces, and gave orders to march on the enemy capital at Herat.

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At a temple further to the west in the city of Yazd, a man knelt in prayer. He stared at the idol on the altar and wished to the deity for an upturn in his fortunes. As he left the temple, Yusuf Singh looked up to the sky and sighed. He had been making an honest living as a merchant selling cloth to the locals, but with Bahlul Khan Lodi on the march to the Timurid capital, he knew that it was time to make an escape once more. He packed his wares into the nearest available cart, including the wooden chest containing the amulet, and made his preparations to flee the city. It had been several years since Akram Manak had bungled the operation to steal the amulet, and Yusuf was still suffering the consequences. As the cart left the city, Yusuf turned to look at his former home, and thought about where he might go next. It stood to reason that if none of Delhi’s enemies would be a safe haven, then maybe he might have more luck with their allies, at least Delhi wouldn’t attack them without warning. As soon as he was out of sight, Yusuf headed east, avoiding any major roads that would lead to an encounter with the Delhi army coming the other way.

The garrison at Herat completed their slow march out of the city in surrender. They had heard of Bahlul Khan Lodi’s formidable experience in siege warfare, but had held out against Transoxania for some time, so were confident of doing the same against the Delhi forces. Instead it had taken a mere four months for the provincial governor, temporarily installed in place of the Timurid Sultan, to lose his nerve. Unable to mount an effective defence against the determination and nous of Bahlul Khan, the governor had surrendered the city, and now stood face to face with his adversary in a tent outside the town. The Sultan was every bit as terrifying as his reputation had made him out to be.

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Bahlul Khan towered above the governor, who was doing his best not to tremble before the Sultan. Dismissing his bodyguards, the two stood face to face in silence for a moment, before the Sultan interrogated the governor about his grandfather’s amulet, and the whereabouts of the thief. This was all he wanted, the Sultan insisted, not to bring the Timurid Sultanate to it’s knees - Transoxania, Afghanistan and Sistan would see to that - and the governor saw nothing in Bahlul Khan’s eyes to suggest deceit. The governor took a deep breath, before telling the Sultan about the rumours of a merchant with a wooden chest he couldn’t open, but would not part with. Two men had tried to take it from him in an inn once, and had not lived to tell the tale. Nobody had tried again, and the man had disappeared not long after, before apparently reappearing in Yazd further west. Bahlul Khan thanked the governor for everything, and promised no harm would come to him or his family, unless he spoke of this meeting. The governor bowed and left, not needing to be told twice about what would happen if he breathed a word of this to anyone. The Sultan allowed his men to enjoy their share of the spoils from the city for a day, before the army marched further west. The war was turning against the Timurids, but victory was not the only thing on the Sultan’s mind.

The people of Yazd looked nervously over the city walls as the two armies clashed in battle outside. As the days passed, they watched as Delhi first overcame the Najd army that had been marching north past the city, before dealing with charges of the leaderless Timurids who had joined in as reinforcements. At first they struggled bravely, but the leadership of the Delhi general proved superior, and the Timurids quit the field. As the victorious army paused outside the city, one of the defenders from the city walls was summoned to meet with the triumphant enemy general. He stepped into the leaders tent, glancing nervously around him at the bodyguards, who were all sharpening their swords in his direction. The Sultan dismissed the guards, before proceeding to ask the Yazidi guard about the man with the wooden chest, as described by the governor of Herat. The guard thought for a moment, before telling the Sultan about a man who had matched that description leaving the city several months earlier. The man had been heading south to take the coast route east, rather than venture over the mountains. For a man with such a large cart - he had claimed to be a merchant with many wares - it had been odd that he had been travelling alone, the guard told Bahlul Khan, who thanked the man before showing him outside. After giving his men a night to rest, the following morning the Sultan marched his army south.

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As the waves of reinforcements poured into battle on the Timurid side, Bahlul Khan Lodi admitted to himself that he had made a mistake. In his haste to recover the amulet, the Sultan had sent scouts to the south looking for the merchant described by the guard in Yazd, and they had missed the presence of the enemy armies. Upon engaging a small Timurid contingent with glee - the Sultan hoping to quickly dispatch them in order to continue the search to the south - enemy reinforcements had left the Delhi force overwhelmed. All was not lost, however, as a large Transoxanian army was marching from the north. If he and his men could hold their line, the Transoxanian reinforcements would drive the Timurids from the field. He looked south once more, and saw a vision in the sky. A vision of a golden medallion embedded with rubies - his grandfather’s amulet. Surely if his men held, he could still catch the thief on the road ahead. He rode behind his men, urging them to resist whatever the enemy could muster; reinforcements were coming, he told them, and if they held the line, what looked like defeat could become a glorious victory. Steeled by his words, his troops dug in and fought hard, but the sheer numbers were just too much for the Delhi forces, and reluctantly, Bahlul Khan gave the order for his men to retreat. It would be a long march back to friendly territory for the Sultan to reflect on this defeat, he had been so close to holding out for the Transoxanians to save the day, but it had not been enough. News of the Transoxanian victory, and more problems for the Timurids in the form of a separatist army were little consolation.

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The coast roads along the Indian Ocean featured some arduous passes, and breathtaking views, but the villages and towns along the way were little rest for Yusuf Singh. The locals did not have many wares to trade with him, instead they looked longingly at the chest he was carrying. Despite repeated attempts to tell them that it was not for sale, the chest was all the locals were interested in, and Yusuf had been forced to move on from several market squares. Returning the way he had come was not an option - reports in Baluchistan were that the Timurids would soon be overthrown by their former vassals, as well as several separatist factions. He knew he must journey onward, the mountains to the west of Delhi seemed rather inviting. Perhaps, he thought, he could stop travelling for a while. Farming, after all, would attract little attention from outsiders. He rode towards the rising sun, enticed by the idea of starting a new life, and ridding himself of the attention of Bahlul Khan Lodi.

The Sultan arrived with his army in Lahore to spend the winter recuperating and resting his armies, who deserved at least some respite after their recent excursions. Despite returning with far fewer men than he had set off on campaign with, the people welcomed Bahlul Khan and his men as heroes. The Sultana had ruled well in Bahlul Khan’s absence, although she had not been entirely successful in quelling rumours of heavy losses suffered by the Delhi army under the command of their liege - the official proclamation had been that men had been left behind to garrison the territories Delhi had occupied had never been entirely believed from the start, fuelling rumours of incompetence in court. Where the Sultana had been successful was in attracting scholars from the west back into local temples which would give assistance in their studies, which had boosted the mood of the people across the country, who had welcomed her as one of their own.

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The winter passed, and still the conflict dragged on. There had been casualties aplenty on both sides, but the refusal of the Timurids to surrender and no reports of the amulet meant that as the spring came, the Sultan decided that once more it was time to go on campaign. Before leaving, he took part in a ceremony in Lahore to dedicate a new temple to the victory he would gain over the Timurids. It had been half a century since the sack of Delhi by Tamerlane and his army, but the outcome of this war would further the decline of the empire he had left behind. At the head of his army, the Sultan marched through the territories on the eastern fringes of the Timurid kingdom. Between him and the fighting centred around Kerman in the west, lay a huge army of Afghan separatists. Despite the Delhi and the separatist army having the same agenda - securing Afghan independence from the Timurids - the separatist army was intent on giving battle if they encountered the Delhi force. It took several months of careful manoeuvring to get past the Afghan separatists in the mountains, the Sultan leading his army back and forth through in the hope of getting around them without a fight.

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During these manoeuvres, the soldiers noticed their liege growing wearier by the day. The years of constant campaigning and fighting had caught up with Bahlul Khan Lodi. He kept a brave face on things, motivated by the thoughts of the amulet, but even this was struggling to sustain him. Summoning his right hand man, Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk, to his bedside one morning, he briefed the newly promoted general on his orders. Before he had left the capital, he had written a note to his wife. When Ibrahim returned to Delhi, Bahlul Khan instructed, he must tell Raziyya Khiliji the Sultana to share the note and its contents with Muhammad Shah, and him alone. Ibrahim bowed solemnly to Bahlul Khan as the Sultan breathed his last breath. The great man had overcome many difficulties in life, and had transformed Sirhind from a rebellious vassal state into a resurgent Sultanate, but his passing on the eve of one of the greatest victories Delhi had known was a great loss to the army and the people of the Sultanate. Ibrahim emerged from the tent, and gave the orders for the troops to move out. The body of the Sultan would return home with a small detachment, whilst the rest of the army would head west, in the hope of one last push for victory.

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The battle of Shiraz in the late summer of 1453 would be the final nail in the coffin of the Timurids, or so Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk hoped. The campaign had already seen the death of Bahlul Khan Lodi, and the news had undoubtedly not gone down well in the capital. Despite commanding the loyalty of those around him, the people of the capital had never quite forgiven his two attempts to siege their city and never warmed to him. Now that he was dead, there were reports of unrest in the provinces, people speaking out against the incompetent Lodi dynasty in town squares across the kingdom. Whilst it was true that not everything had gone exactly as Bahlul Khan Lodi had planned, the general and the army had sworn allegiance to him, and once they were back in the country, they would do what they could to keep the Lodis on the throne. The Sultana, ruling as regent for the seven year old Muhammad Shah, was not making things easy by infringing on the priviledges of the Ulema in the capital with one of her first decrees. The march back to Delhi - avoiding the Afghan separatist army again - was at least made enjoyable by the reports of yet another separatist army (Ajamis this time) rising up against the Timurids. The war had been exhausting for all parties, but the Timurids had suffered the worst, and peace would surely come soon. As Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk and the army headed back for Delhi, he offered a silent prayer that the Sultana would not cause too much trouble during this regency. A prayer he hoped would be answered.

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By the time the general and the remains of his army returned triumphantly to Delhi in September 1454, it had become apparent to Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk that his prayers had not been answered, at least, not yet. Although a peace treaty that had been signed six months prior, and the Timurids had been dealt a heavy blow by it, Raziyya Khiliji had proved herself to be as strict as her late husband in court affairs. Already she had declared that the Timurids and Multan would be Delhi’s rivals, creating an unease amongst ul-Mulk’s troops. Having just returned from war, and with rumours of unhappy peasants circulating around the capital, the general and his men were hoping for some respite, however brief that may be. The general was even less hopeful when news of both an insult from Ladakh to the north gave Delhi a new cause for going to war. At least Ibrahim had followed Bahlul Khan Lodi’s final instructions and told the Sultana about the letter. Whatever it may have said - the general certainly had no interest in reading the note - it had caused a bit of a change in both Rayizza Khiliji, and her son Muhammad Shah Lodi. The boy in particular would often ask the general about the various locations he had been on campaign with his father, and if the Sultan had ever mentioned an amulet, which the general could not recall him ever doing. Ibrahim had also begun to notice Muhammad developing quite a cruel streak when playing with other boys around court, the disciplinarian attitude of both of his parents had obviously played a part in this. The general knew better than to voice such opinions, for now his best move would be to follow the orders of the Sultana, and hope that she - and Muhammad if he lived to see the boy on the throne - could be half the ruler Bahlul Khan Lodi had been.

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From a farm at the foot of the Suleiman mountains, Yusuf Singh watched over his flocks. He had grown rather fond of tending to the sheep, and had made a steady income from the wool markets to have several workers tend the fields for him. Life in Multan had been much more rural than the cities of Delhi and Herat, but settling in Siwi had brought him peace. He had yet to figure out a way into the chest containing the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi - Akram Manak’s lockpick had broken itself in the keyhole and was proving most tricky to dislodge - but he had not had to suddenly pack up and run away at a moments notice for some time now. Even the recent war Multan had declared against Sindh was not unsettling; the army of Sindh had suffered annihilation at the hands of Baluchistani separatists, so a Multanese victory would be assured. Yusuf stood and enjoyed watching the sun setting over the mountains, any thoughts of moving on a long way from his mind.

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DukeOfNorfolk

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Parmanand Singh arrived in the court in Delhi, and stood for a moment to admire the splendour of the building. Having grown up in Doaba, he had often heard people talking about the sheer size of the capital, but had never been there to experience it for himself. Parmanand’s moment was interrupted by the person who had summoned him, Rayizza Khiliji. He had heard rumours that all was not well in court. Despite the best efforts of Bahlul Khan, the Lodis had a reputation for incompetence that preceded them, and the Sultanas incapability to solve a dispute between two local nobles feuding in Samana the previous year had brought incompetence to the fore. She had put out a search for someone who would provide calmness and stability to the court, and that is why Parmanand had come. He bowed in the presence of the Sultana, who was rather uninterested in this new arrival.

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“Speak.” She started rather dismissively.

“Your highness. I have come from Doaba to give my assistance in your court, I understand there is some discord amongst the realm?”

“Oh, and what made you come to this conclusion?” She sneered, Parmanand wondered if she was like this with all of her employees.

“Well it’s like this, your highness. I have conducted a survey of the people of the Sultanate. I gave them a simple question. How satisfied are you with the stability of the realm? I gave them seven categories to choose from. The concerning report is that the vast majority believe the realm to be in this ‘very unstable’ category here, the second worst category I could’ve given them. On the one hand, it is good that the worst category ‘extremely unstable’ was rarely chosen; on the other, the mere handful of ‘stable’ or ‘very stable’ responses, and only slightly more ‘satisfactory’ responses, are rather alarming.”

“Alarming? Why do you think that?” Parmanand wondered how any conversation with the Sultana could last any time at all if she kept giving short answers like this.

“Because, your highness, on my journey to your court I passed a number of makeshift recruitment offices. The people signing up were all expressing discontent at your rule, and if I could hazard a guess, they were signing up to armies that could mount attempts to break away from the kingdom, or to overthrow you completely. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there isn’t a significant rebellion in the next few months if the kingdom carries on the way it is going.”

The Sultana finally looked like she was paying attention, Parmanand had done his job. “What do you propose I do about it then? My son is still young and I would not wish any harm done to him” for the first time she sounded nervous.”

“Well for starters, I’d do something about addressing this rumour that the Lodi clan are a bunch of incompetents. There’s a rumour going around in my previous employers in Lahore that you were planning to spend the entire treasury on a series of building projects, the one about a wall between Delhi and Jaunpur made of solid bronze isn’t true is it?”

The Sultana stared blankly

“Or the one I heard in Margalla about your son being able to project fire from his mouth? And that he talks to his pet elephant as if they are having a conversation?”

Silence.

“Or that the great Bahlul Khan Lodi wasn’t really interested in bringing down the Timurids, and that he only fought west in search of an amulet that some thief st-”

Parmanand’s words were cut off by the Sultana rising from the throne and thrusting a sword in his direction. He stood in silence as she advanced. “Where did you hear that?” She hissed angrily.

“Oh, just a rumour that was doing the rounds in the taverns in Doaba, I’m sure it was nothing, just some harmless rumour designed to poke fun at the foibles of the great man, right?” Parmanand was trying to give the impression of being calm, but having never been this close to the point of a sword, he was anything but.

“Err, yes, right.” The Sultana stopped pointing her sword at Parmanand. “Yes of course, definitely a rumour that one, no truth at all. And those others were nonsense as well. Do what you need to do then. Start putting the word out that I am a competent ruler, who will honour the legacy of Bahlul Khan Lodi, and that Muhammad Shah will be a fine ruler in the footsteps of his father.”

Parmanand Singh bowed and left the room, Rayizza Khiliji hoped that the man would not ask about the amulet again. Somehow he had come across the truth of Bahlul Khan Lodi and the amulet, perhaps the rumour that had come from his homeland was worth investigating.

1588436360313.png

The following year was a very unnerving one for Rayizza Kihliji and those in the Delhi court. Parmanand Singh may have been exaggerating rumours of the incompetence of the Lodis, but he had not been exaggerating the rumours of rebels, who did exist in abundance. The Delhi army had barely had much time to recover from the expedition to Shiraz at the end of the war with the Timurids, and now it was bracing itself for major uprisings. The court had done their best to present the Sultana in a much more favourable manner since the employment of Parmanand Singh, but the advisor could not turn the situation around overnight. Placating the Ulemas in Delhi had brought the court some respite from the wealthy estates, but there were still rumours of a vast throng of Hindu Zealots, who wished for the Sultana and her increasingly malevolent son to embrace the faith. Wherever they went, someone always managed to confront the Sultana and the boy and ask about a conversion. The pamphlets that the zealots helpfully provided were often thrown away, but this did not stop the zealots from trying again. A very awkward twelve months passed, until a December morning. The Sultana went about her morning meetings in court, and then went to leave the palace. She had seen the nervy looks on her courtiers faces, but had ignored them and went outside to the palace walls.

She looked out at the city, and could not believe her eyes. Looking back at her were innumerable throngs of men and women. She turned back at her courtiers, who all looked cluelessly back at her. She looked for soldiers, but they shrugged back at her. They were a handful of picked men who stood as a garrison, what could they do against such an army as this. The Sultana would have to listen to the masses.

“My Queen” a leader spoke from amongst the crowd. “We come in peace to celebrate Tulsi Pujan Diwas, a festival of medicine and healing for our faith. We invite you and your son to join us, and take part in the rituals.”

“And if I refuse?” The Sultana asked, hoping to be allowed to carry on with her day.

“There are twenty thousand of us, your highness, while you have only the small garrison of the city. Your army numbers are significantly fewer than us, and it will take them some time to reach the city. Would you like to join us, or risk a rebellion?”

The Sultana cursed. Who were these people? And how had they all been allowed into the city at once? She would have to find the person responsible, and make an example of them. For now, however, she had no other alternative. She and Muhammad, for the sake of the Lodi dynasty, entered the crowds, and returned announcing - somewhat reluctantly - that from now on, the Lodi dynasty would worship the Hindu gods. It had been a surreal experience for the pair of them, but the news that the Hindi peoples would not cause them any problems were replaced by another, very imminent problem. The news that Alam Shah Lodi - a child of Bahlul Khan Lodi from a long time ago, had been seen in the surrounding territories with an army of his own. Things were not getting any easier for Sultana Rayzza Khiliji.

1588436384426.png

Yusuf Singh took a walk around his fields as the sun set beyond the mountains. It had been another very quiet day on the farm, as indeed it had been for some years now. Settling down in Multan had been a very good move; his farm had prospered, his servants respected him and it had been a long time since anyone from the Lodi dynasty had come asking for their amulet back. He had been cheered by the news that Multan had expanded its territories in a recent war against Sindh, the latter being almost completely annexed, but most of all by the rumours of the instability in Delhi after the death of Bahlul Khan Lodi. It had been a long time coming, but Yusuf was enjoying some respite. The only difficulty he still had was in opening the chest containing the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi. He had tried all he could and the lock continued to refuse to budge. This had been a problem since he had acquired the amulet, but on the plus side he had been able to believe that Multan would be a new home for him, and for the last few years it had been exactly that.

In the court of Delhi, Parmanand Singh afforded himself a smile as he strode around the palace. He knew that some of the servants would find this unbearable, but he didn’t care for what they thought. He had been brought into the court to improve the uncertain situation for Rayizza Khiliji and her son, and had succeeded. The realm was as stable as it had been for years, and the armies of Alam Shah Lodi had trickled slowly away - rumours that Parmanand himself had begun spreading that this pretender was not a descendant of Bahlul Khan Lodi at all, but instead a farmhand from Lucknow may have had something to do with it. Reports from across the Sultanate had been arriving at the court that the recent census ordered by the Sultana had been completed. The census suggested, amongst many other things, that manpower reserves - exhausted by Bahlul Khan Lodi in the war against the Timurids - were on their way to recovery, the strengthening of the priviledges of the nobles over the last decade having gone some way towards aiding the recovery.

Despite having achieved all of this since coming to court, the advisor was still occasionally reminded of his initial meeting with Rayizza Khiliji. In gatherings at court she still sounded keen to return to war, or on expeditions to the west. Parmanand had never gotten to the bottom of this, could it be that rumours of the amulet that had driven Bahlul Khan Lodi west on that final campaign seven years ago were actually true after all? Parmanand had been so sure he’d made something up just to convince the Sultana that his services were necessary, but she had reacted like Parmanand had said something that was true after all. The advisor had often thought about this, and wondered whether there was anything ulterior behind the Sultana’s willingness to fight Multan. Could something, or someone have come back from the west but not made it as far as Delhi? Parmanand would have to find out, without alerting anyone in court.

At the head of the army, Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk began the march into Dhundar. The Sultana Rayizza Khiliji had grown tired of peace, and had issued the declaration against the far weaker state of Jaisalmer, who had also brought Dhundar and Multan into the war. On the side of Delhi, Nagaur and Malwa had come to their aid, this was by no means a fair fight for the defenders. The troops of Dhundar had been caught very unawares by al-Mulk and his men, and the battle had been a rout of an unprepared enemy. After occupying the province of Dhundar, the general moved with his forces onto Jaisalmer, hoping for a swift siege and an easy victory.

1588436875664.png

Rayizza Khiliji cut an equally frustrated figure in court. The plan had been to eliminate Dhundar as quickly as possible in order to take the fight, and her troops into Multan in order to search the cities, towns and farmsteads for the amulet of her late husband. Instead, the Delhi army had headed to eliminate the smaller enemies first, and had yet to move against Multan. She cursed the incompetence of her general, and hoped that no soldier from Malwa knew about the chest, or the amulet. She looked distrustingly at Parmanand Singh, and wondered exactly how it was that a provincial had known about the amulet. Could her husband have told someone else? Could Parmanand have just been guessing and hoping to tease the information from her? Was the advisor secretly a spy? The questions continued to buzz around in her head, even the howls of laughter as her son Muhammad Shah chased a hound throughout the court, yanking its tail as he did so, could not distract her. She could only hope that general ul-Mulk could redeem himself, and soon.

Yusuf Singh bade the Malwan soldiers farewell, grateful that nobody had really been that bothered about searching his farm. Although they had come to occupy the territories of Multan for their allies, they obviously weren’t to know that in a small farm in Siwi, at the foot of the mountains, lived the man who had caused Bahlul Khan Lodi to go on the warpath. He watched the men go, relieved that it had been Malwa, rather than Delhi on the doorstep, before checking the cupboard in his farmhouse where the amulet had been kept. The chest still sat, untouched. Yusuf Singh breathed a sigh of relief, the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi was safe for now.

1588436458004.png

The Jaisalmer fort raised its gates. It had taken ul-Mulk and his men most of the previous year to force the surrender of the inhabitants, but eventually they had done so, and with Multan under heavy occupation from Malwa, the only thing left was the Jaisalmeri army. Ibrahim had marched his men as quickly as he could, and hoped that this siege would be better than the previous one against Dhundar had gone.

1588436473823.png

Despite the fall of Jaisalmer, their armies remained at large; the war was still not yet won. The Jaisalmer court was convinced that their forces would come to save them from their fate, and pointed to the capture of the fort at Sirhind as proof that they were making gains against their vastly superior enemy; even though with Multan and Dhundar no longer fighting alongside them they were outnumbered at least three to one. Ibrahim had seen that there was no way through the stubbornness of the enemy leader, and set out to retake Sirhind. Along the road, he paused in thought. Reports that the army had been seen nearby were making him reconsider; why should he waste time and resources on a siege, when the enemy morale was boosted by news that their army was coming to their rescue? The general made his instructions clear to his soldiers; they were to carry on marching to Sirhind, but at his signal they would march south, hoping to catch the Jaisalmer army unaware. His instructions were carried out perfectly. The valley passes at Derajat had been the perfect spot for an ambush, and his forces caught the Jaisalmeri troops on the march back to liberate their city. The battle was brief. Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk, aided by the Malwans who had been waiting beyond the next hill, won a decisive victory. He returned to court victorious, Jaisalmer would belong to Delhi.

1588436487940.png

Rayizza Khiliji was furious. Yes, the war was over, and Jaisalmer was now a part of the Delhi Sultanate, but it had all been rather pointless in her eyes. Her troops should’ve taken the opportunity to occupy Multan and find the amulet, but instead had taken the path of least resistance. No battles had been fought, and all they had occupied was three provinces in Dhundar and Jaisalmer. At least Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk had learned from the Dhundar debacle, as she had taken to calling it, and the siege of Jaisalmer had been much quicker, but if the amulet had been in Multan, then was it still there? Could it have been looted by Malwan soldiers, and now hanging on display in their court?

1588436504574.png

Across the court, Parmanand Singh tried to avoid the gaze of the Sultana. She had been very displeased by the war, or what she had perceived to be a lack of effort from her soldiers. Parmanand had tried to do his best, even negotiating a decade of annulment between Multan and Jaunpur, which gave Delhi the opportunity to potentially invade Multan by itself, but this had not been enough for her. Worst of all, her son had not taken the news very well either, and he was due to ascend onto the throne in a couple of months time. If he was an arrogant bully as a child, as a ruler of the kingdom he would be far worse. Parmanand shuddered at the thought of Muhammad on the throne; perhaps Alam Shah Lodi could be persuaded to rule after all? He sat and thought to himself as Rayizza Khiliji stormed out of the courtroom. She had been furious that her troops had not marched west; perhaps there was more to this amulet story than he had thought.
 

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DukeOfNorfolk

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Let's hope the recency goes safely for the Lodis and no Babur comes and destroys them this time!
:D


Yusuf's adventures are intriguing
Great chapters and great quality
It was a good read
Thankfully Babur hasn't come yet, I'm not sure I'd be ready for him if he did! Glad you're enjoying things :)
 

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Excellent chapters again!

I have one wish
Can you pls provide some nice photos of your empire after any war ends. It would be good to see expanding borders

(Also can you pls check out my AAR in sig)
Thanks, in this case I didn't have a screenshot from the aftermath of the war, I'll try and remember for next time!
 

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Muhammad Shah Lodi stood atop a podium in the palace courtyards, holding aloft the head of the defeated pretender Alam Shah. “This,” he stared vengefully into the eyes of the dead man, “this is the price of treachery in the Sultanate. I am the son of Bahlul Khan Lodi, I rule the kingdom. There shall be no objections, only your loyalty.” He glared menacingly at his soldiers on the podium, who began to break into applause. The crowd took the hint from the soldiers. The reign of Muhammad Shah IV could now begin in earnest. The strict attitudes of his parents had combined in the boy, into something far worse than either of them could have imagined. To the eyes of the people of the Delhi Sultanate, the only thing he had in common with his father was the name of the Lodi dynasty. Indeed there were those who questioned the young man’s legitimacy - not to his face of course, anyone doing so did not tend to last long. Beside him on the balcony, Parmanand Singh looked on nervously; he had yet to confirm the amulet story, but did not wish to arouse any suspicions in front of his new liege. If he was right, and the amulet did exist, he doubted the Sultan would be happy that someone outside of the Lodis knew of it. For now it was better to keep his head down, and carry on thinking of a way to escape the cruelty of Muhammad Shah Lodi.

1589032067262.png

The Sultan sat in his throne, furious at the men in front of him. Here they stood, offering to help with the dealings of the Delhi spy network. Why were they here? He wondered. Did they know about the amulet? And was this their way at getting into his court to find out? Well, he thought, they weren’t going to find out from him or anyone else. These men would be sent to ply their trade elsewhere. Muhammad held the aggressive posture as the spies were led from court, and then slumped as soon as the door was closed. Ruling a kingdom was much harder than his parents had made it look. He had ascended to the throne less than a year ago and already had to invest considerable military force into bolstering his claim to the throne. Parmanand Singh had done a grand job tracing the family tree back over a hundred years to find that the Lodis were descended from the great Ashoka himself, and this was why the Lodis were so keen on a great reconquest of the Indian subcontinent, at least that was the official story. This had bought him some time - there were once again rumblings from the provinces about a massive rebellion, but nobody had been able to trace the rumours back to a source. Muhammad Shah closed his eyes for a moment, and began to think about the amulet his father had told him so much about in the note left for his mother. The quest to find it was now in his hands, but the trail had been cold for some time. The last anybody knew about it was Bahlul Khan’s vision at the battle of Rafsanjan, but a decade had passed since then. Nobody had reported any suspicious traders or engraved chests, let alone the prize amulet. Perhaps, he reasoned, this had been why his mother had been so angry at the lack of a military expedition to Multan in the recent war. He thought about breaking the truce with Multan to go to war again, but he knew there was no way anybody would let that happen. With nobody noticing the Sultan had closed his eyes, and with no more official appointments for the day, Muhammad Shah continued to dream to himself.

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Irfan Nadeem stood next to his master in a tiny cellar below the farm building above. The cellar had a few shelves with a suit of armour and a sword, and a chest engraved with warriors around the side. He glanced at Yusuf Singh, the man he had known as his master on the farm for several years, and back to the chest. Yusuf reached for the chest and handed it to Irfan, who looked down at the map of the Indian Subcontinent on its lid. Yusuf made him promise that he would tell nobody about the chest, or of what he was about to say next. Irfan looked at Yusuf, and hoped that the man would give him some answers.

“This chest, is your future now,” the old man began rather cryptically. “I want you to have this, and to look after it, but do not tell anyone about it or what lies within it.”

Irfan stood clueless. Yusuf continued, and told him all about his past in the court of the Delhi Sultanate under the Sayyids, of Bahlul Khan Lodi and his tricks, and of the amulet he never took off. In this chest, Yusuf said, was the amulet that Bahlul Khan Lodi had worn, belonging to his grandfather, and of how a moment of incompetence from his former apprentice had led to him being caught in the act of stealing the amulet. If he’d gotten away with it, Yusuf explained, the Lodis would never have come for the Delhi throne, and he would still be in the court of Alam Shah Sayyid. Irfan looked stunned. This frail looking elderly man had lived in secret amongst them for the last ten years and only now did he reveal his past. He stood in silence, before eventually asking.

“Well, with Bahlul Khan dead, why not return the amulet and claim a reward?”

“Because, child, the Lodis needed bringing down from their lofty pedestal, and this was the best way to do it. If I return the amulet to them, I give them a symbol that links them to their past, and will spur them onto some ‘great and destined future’ that the windbag used to go on about. Without it, they will be forever trying to get it back, and the infighting could leave them vulnerable to someone else taking over while they bicker. Look at them now. Bahlul Khan has died, and the boy who has replaced him is a fool who thinks only of cruelty. If you give him this, you enable them to achieve conquest in the name of his great-grandfather. I served the Sayyids for years, and I wish only to see the end of these pretenders. When I die, I am entrusting you to keep the amulet safe from the Lodis.”

Irfan wasn’t quite sure of what had just happened, but he knew his master was sincere. He promised then and there to keep the amulet away from Delhi, and that the Lodis should continue to suffer incompetence and misfortune without it. He did not know exactly what he would do with it, but in difficult times he could think of his master, and inspiration would surely come to him. He stared at the chest for a moment, and back at his master, before bowing and leaving the cellar.

Muhammad Shah awoke in his throne and was surprised to see Parmanand Singh stood in front of him with another young man, who looked strangely familiar. He looked around at his advisor, back to the man, and around the room at the soldiers who had come with them. The stranger with Parmanand stepped forward.

“Your highness, I am Nusrat Shah Lodi.” Muhammad’s face fell, he was sure that there were no more pretenders to the Lodi throne that was his. “I am your cousin, a brother of Alam Shah who fell in battle several months ago. I come to speak on behalf of the Muslim communities who have been unhappy with how things have been running since you and your mother converted those years ago. We believe that as your father was a Sunni, the ruling Lodi should also follow the faith. We have come to ask that you abdicate peacefully, else I have an army at the gates ready for a revolt. It is of course your decision, but I would prefer peace of course.”

Muhammad Shah Lodi rose furiously from his throne and drew a dagger, lunging at Nusrat. Nusrat did not move as the Sultan thrust forward and overbalanced and tripped. His crown flew into the air, and bounced off a nearby statue. Muhammad looked up from the floor as the crown rebounded into the grateful arms of Nusrat, and then froze with fear as spears were pointed at his throat.

“Thanks, I think I’ll keep this.” Nusrat grinned smugly at the defeated, now former Sultan. “Take him to an estate in the country and keep him under armed guard at all times.” His guards bowed and moved on Muhammad Shah. “You,” he pointed at Parmanand Singh “start putting word around the court and the town that Muhammad Shah has abdicated in order to spend more time chasing dogs around his farm, like he used to as a child.” Parmanand nodded, and smiled at his new liege. How ironic, he thought as Muhammad Shah was led out of the throne room, that if it wasn’t for the research Muhammad had asked him to do into the genealogy of the Lodis, this young man would never have been found, and the people of Delhi would’ve suffered the cruelty of Muhammad Shah. He could not grin for long, there was a lot of work to do to reassure the Hindus that although Sunni Islam was once again the official religion of Delhi, and that Nusrat Shah Lodi was styling himself as a new ‘Khalifa’, that the previous line of tolerance under Bahlul Khan Lodi would be upheld. He left the throne room and set to work.

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The ceremony was over, and the celebrations of the marriage of Nusrat Shah Lodi could begin in earnest. It had been a whirlwind rise to the throne for the young man, but he had been warmly welcomed by all in the capital, some of whom had paid him the ultimate compliment by saying that Nusrat had reminded them of Bahlul Khan Lodi himself. Messages had come from all over the Islamic world welcoming the Delhi Sultan into the community of the faithful, and now to cap it all off, Nusrat Shah Lodi was marrying a beautiful princess from the Khiliji estate, as his uncle had done. As the Sultan was being compared to Bahlul Khan it seemed only appropriate that his bride had also changed her name to Rayizza, although it had caused a small uproar amongst the chroniclers at court as to how exactly they were supposed to differentiate between the previous Rayizza Khiliji and this one. To him it didn’t matter though, she looked radiant in her wedding outfit, and the people in court had taken to her as warmly as they had done to him. It looked like this could be the beginning of a long, and prosperous reign.

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The following morning, Parmanand Singh was going about his business at court when he was summoned to a private meeting with the new Sultan and Sultana. It had been six years since he had come to the court, and the new couple were his third employers. He hoped they would not be about to terminate his services, as he had grown to like the young couple. He made his way through the palace to the office where they had asked to meet, he opened the door and was surprised to find the couple hunched over a map, pointing at a few locations. He stood in silence for a moment, then coughed to make his presence known. The couple looked up somewhat startled before Nusrat spoke.

“You’re probably wondering why we’ve called you here,” Parmanand nodded. This sounded ominous.

“Well, no need to worry. You’ve done more for me than you can possibly know, this isn’t going to result in the termination of your services.” Parmanand sighed with relief.

“We were wondering if you knew anything about an amulet that used to belong to my great-grandfather. According to a note we found in the royal bedchamber, it was stolen from Bahlul Khan Lodi just before the attack on Delhi. It seems to me like his reason for marching west was to try to get it back from the Timurid courts, but we don’t know whether he ever got it back. Our guess is that from the records of the Sultana and the boy both wanting to attack Multan, it has never come back from the west. Do you know anything about it?”

Parmanand stood stunned. It was true! He had made up a ridiculous story just to gain employment, and it had actually happened. He looked back to the Sultan, who was waiting for him to speak, but he couldn’t think of how to begin.

“I see.” Nusrat had assumed that Parmanand wasn’t going to say anything, “well in that case, keep quiet about it will you. You’re the only person who we’ve asked about this, so if anyone else does mention it, we’ll have you executed for treason.” Parmanand Singh nodded in acceptance and left. How bizarre that his suspicions had been true after all. He walked from the palace into the cool Delhi evening. Meanwhile in the palace, Nusrat and his wife began plotting; the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi had remained hidden for too long, and the quest to find it should begin again.

Nusrat Shah Lodi stood with his wife and admired the completed works on the palace. The opportunity to construct such a talismanic symbol of the Lodi rule had not passed him by, and he was pleased with the magnificent exterior the builders had created. The interior was just as impressive; a new, much grander throne room and enlarged banqueting hall to welcome delegates from across the subcontinent, a larger suite for the Sultan and his wife, it had all gone to plan. Of course, the Sultan hoped that nobody would be able to draw a line between the many workmen at the palace and the corrupted army rosters; many of the workmen were in fact off duty soldiers, and whilst it had taken months for some of the commanders to figure out that men had gone missing, nobody had yet worked out where it was they had gone. The Sultan’s first decree from the new courtroom had been to renew the tax policy of Bahlul Khan Lodi, which pleased the people no end - the policy would not have to be changed, and this meant less work for them to do as well. With little else to trouble the Sultan, he turned his mind back to the amulet, and what to do about trying to find it. When renovating the throne room he had been sure to leave a space above the throne for the amulet to take pride of place, so that all who saw the Sultan on the throne would have their eyes drawn to the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi. Nusrat gazed at the empty spot, hoping that he would see it filled.

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The bustling silk markets of Central Doab were a world apart from the sleepy mountain farm of Siwi, the crowds jostling to see the wares of the traders who had set themselves for the day's business. Struggling against the crowds was a young man who had come all this way in the hope of seeking a fortune. Irfan Nadeem had been on the road for several months after the death of Yusuf Singh; the farm had no longer felt home for him, and so he had left in search of adventure and a new life, and perhaps someone who could open this engraved chest and see how magnificent this amulet truly was. His previous master had never been able to get the chest opened, and Irfan had come to the city to try and find someone more adept at picking locks than he was, although that wasn’t saying much - in the farms Irfan had never needed to pick a lock, and had never attempted it. He kept the chest with the amulet held tight to him, and wandered around the endless stalls in the hope that someone here would be up to the task. He turned a corner between two stalls, and continued his search.

Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk surveyed the scene as the battle came to an end. The reports that the new arquebus would give a distinct advantage in battle had not been exaggerated, it appeared, the forces of Delhi had marched into Nagaur and slaughtered the defending army to a man. In the capital, the general knew, this victory would be celebrated as the beginning of a triumphant war, which would see Delhi recapture some of its former core territories from Jaunpur. Ibrahim felt a little sorry for the Nagauris, who had been a useful ally to Delhi in the recent fighting against Jaisalmer, but they had honoured their alliance with Jaunpur and had had to be made an example of. General ul-Mulk was ordered to wait in Nagaur with his men whilst a detachment under Mubarrak Shah Jahan, recruited for his siege expertise, went off to blockade the capital. The war would be a long and tough one, Jaunpur relying on three allies of their own, but Nusrat Shah had been able to bring in Malwa and Bengal on his side, which tipped the odds significantly towards Delhi, at least in the Sultan’s eyes. Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk, a veteran of several campaigns, knew that the Sultan would be right in the end, but that there was a long way to go before victory was achieved. He waited with his men for any orders to assist Mubarrak and the men besieging Nagaur, and hoped the Sultan knew what he was doing.

To Parmanand Singh and those around him it was obvious the Sultan’s calm visage was slipping somewhat. He had listened to the advice of his generals, and let them take their time to weaken Jaunpuri allies first, before marching on Jaunpur itself; this had worked up to a point, with Nagaur having fallen very quickly and been swift to accept peace, but the siege of Mewat was taking too long. A messenger was being dispatched to Mubarrak Shah Jahan to cease the siege of Mewat and make a move on Central Doab. To most of the gathered crowds it had seemed a bold move to go for the enemy territory whilst their allies were still intact, but Parmanand Singh could not help but wonder if there was anything else behind this change of action. Reports of a traveller from Multan making his way around the southern borders in the direction of Jaunpur might have reached the Sultan’s ears, and this was what had led to his impatience. The determination with which he had announced the new plan suggested as much for sure. For now, Parmanand Singh would keep quiet, the initial success in eliminating Nagaur had since been replaced by frustration on all sides, with everyone keeping clear of the amassed force of thirty thousand Jaunpuris marching around Malwan territory. Everyone in court had heard that they were making for Delhi territory, but hopefully not for the capital itself.

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Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk stood facing the vastly superior numbers opposite him, and realised that he had repeated the mistake of his former liege. The battle of Rafsanjan had been a costly defeat for Bahlul Khan Lodi, and here at Bhattiana, ul-Mulk had done the same. The Jaunpur force had split itself up in order to ravage some of the Delhi territories to the northwest, but al-Mulk had been clever, or so he thought, and caught some of the Jaunpuris apparently isolated in Bhattiana, only for the bulk of the Jaunpur forces to come and relieve the leaderless detachment ul-Mulk had engaged. The general steeled himself, although he was not the inspiration with words that Bahlul Khan Lodi had been, he knew that he needed to inspire his men to hold their ground here. The enemy did not have the same technological superiority with the arquebus, and would risk heavy casualties with an all out assault. Nevertheless, the enemy numbers were superior enough that the Jaunpur general gave the order and his men charged across the plains. As the waves of enemy armies swarmed towards them, Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk knew that although his superior firepower would take many Jaunpuris down, ultimately they would win the day. After heavy losses on both sides, the horn was sounded and the Delhi forces retreated. It had been a costly victory for Jaunpur, but it had been a victory all the same. Ibrahim hoped that Nusrat was a kinder man than his predecessor; the Malwa capital had fallen, his first army had been defeated in battle. His only hope was for better news in Central Doab.

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Nusrat Shah Lodi sat eagerly awaiting the reports; in the space of a few weeks, Jaunpur had fallen to Bengal, and Central Doab had just surrendered to Delhi. Even better, there had been reports of the man who had been travelling around the southern border having surfaced in the city that had just fallen. He thought of his ancestors as the first chests of the spoils from the siege arrived in the palace, and began searching frantically through them. As he finished looking through each of them, he would sigh and look up to the heavens, and pray that the amulet would be in another one.

Irfan Nadeem looked back on the city he had just left, the Jaunpur capital had made a nice home for him, but only temporarily. Thankfully he had not been searched by the victorious Bengalese on his way out. His search in Central Doab for someone who could open the chest had been fruitless and now, worst of all, it appeared the curse of Yusuf Singh had transferred itself to him. He had only been in Jaunpur a month or so, and now he was already on the move. Perhaps his former master had been right, and peace in the mountainous foothills would be a better option. Taking one last look back at the city he had briefly called his home, he headed west towards his old home in Multan, hoping there would be no Delhi forces on the journey.

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The Sultan was pleased with the reports that were coming in with increasing frequency of victories on the battlefield, the only thing that would sweeten things much more would be news of the amulet. From a somewhat precarious position, Delhi had witnessed a huge turn in fortunes, as Jaunpur had been occupied one territory at a time, and the enemy forces had still not caught up with the advanced technology of the arquebus. Even the loan of some troops from Mewar had not helped the Jaunpuris, and Nusrat would soon look for peace. The amulet had not been found this time, but there would be future wars, he promised himself. Soon the thief would run out of places to hide.

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A victory parade was held for the Delhi soldiers returning from the east. They had reconquered several of the former Delhi heartlands, including the rich tax offices of Central Doab, which would massively boost the economy. Nusrat Shah watched the parades go past, waving to the soldiers as he did so. The victory had brought him prestige, gold and all sorts of treasures, as well as the respect of his people, but in his mind, Nusrat felt he would trade it all for his great-grandfather’s amulet. In the courtroom the Sultan had been happy to accept a renewal of the alliance with Nagaur, but the news that the Malwa Kingdom had felt betrayed by Delhi - they had been expecting to gain land in the Jaunpur war but had not been given it - had led to the end of the alliance. The Sultan hoped that it would only be a temporary annulment, Jaunpur had been reduced considerably, but would still offer resistance in the face of another attack. The Sultan would have to learn his lessons, and not let the search for the amulet consume him. He did not want to make the same mistakes, and suffer the fate of, his predecessor.

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Irfan Nadeem stood in shock. He had returned to his former farmlands in Siwi only to find them in ruins. Since his journey east, Multan had been crippled in wars with both Sistan and now Afghanistan. The prosperity of Yusuf Singh’s wool farm had gone, and rebuilding was a hopeless task whilst Multan was under attack from all sides. He turned away from the farm and headed in a new direction, to somewhere he and his master had never been before, somewhere where he could start a new life. East and west had been unsuccessful, perhaps north would provide some safety for him, he thought, as he began his new journey.
 

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volksmarschall

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I really enjoy Far East/Subcontinent AARs. Keep this up. Excellent work mate!

Cheers!
 
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DukeOfNorfolk

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The treaty was signed, and the Nagaur delegates left. Nusrat Shah Lodi wished that all meetings could go as smoothly as that; Delhi had offered Nagaur the opportunity to be a subject state under them, and Nagaur had willingly accepted. Perhaps they didn’t want to fight Delhi again, having been crushed in the previous war. Whatever the reason, Nusrat was glad to have some good news to tell those assembled in court. There was more than a little grumbling from some corners about the Sultan’s easy attitude towards most aspects of ruling his kingdom that had allowed the rajput landowners to take control of the province of Bareilly. Whilst there were certainly wealthy landowners in the kingdom, this had been the first time that one estate had made such a bold move, but the Sultan had been happy to tolerate it for the time being. The Sultan had another announcement for those gathered in court, Delhi was now at war with Dhundar, as well as the small state of Kutch on the Gujarati coast. To some this seemed like a very questionable move, but the Sultan reasoned that placating his new subjects with a grant of some land, as well as eliminating a potential Jaunpuri ally, was worth the risk. There were also those who questioned why the Sultan simply didn’t wait and fight Multan, they had been allied to Jaunpur after all, and would surely have been more worth fighting than Dhundar and Kutch, who had no pretensions to anything beyond their survival. The Sultan chose to ignore their pleas, he was after all committed to taking the copper mines of Dhundar, and was gambling that nobody would offer any sympathy to Multan. He was also keen to follow up on some news from a spy sent to Gwailor. The spy had reported of a man recently passing through Dhundar, who kept checking himself every few minutes to see that he was still carrying a fine wooden chest, far more valuable than anything else he owned. Could the amulet have made its way to Dhundar? Nusrat Shah was certainly keen to find out.

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The Sultan hung his head in disappointment as he walked back from the podium outside the palace to his courtroom. In front of everyone gathered, he had made a monumental slip up at what should’ve been the triumphant climax of the speech. It had all gone so well, the people had cheered the announcements of the vassalisation of Nagaur, and the new war with Dhundar; at the culmination of the speech he had ended by saying the war would bring about the annexation of Delhi, rather than Dhundar, and here the trouble had started. Panic had spread amongst the crowds as they wondered whether the Sultan had just announced the surrender of the entire kingdom, or had declared a war he knew he couldn’t win. It had taken crucial minutes to try and overcome this faux pas, and the masses left shaken by the Sultan’s words, reassured for now at least that it was of course, Dhundar who would be annexed by Delhi rather than the other way around. All in all it had not been Nusrat Shah Lodi’s finest hour.

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Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk led his army south, being sure to have constant reports from Mubarrak Shah Jahan as to the location of his men. The two provinces of Dhundar had been occupied with ease, but with armies of Dhundar, Kutch and Mewar, who had once again lent condottieri to Delhi’s enemies, there was quite a lot of manoeuvring to do. The veteran al-Mulk, approaching twenty years in charge of the army, had learned his lesson from being overambitious against the Jaunpuri troops in the previous war, and was being more cautious about engaging the enemy in battle. Finally, in the arid terrain of Gorwar, the armies clashed. The rented troops of Mewar had somewhat evened the odds of what would otherwise have been a victory - on paper at least - for the Delhi armies. Eventually, after heavy losses on both sides, the defenders quit the field, and retreated for Rajkot, hotly pursued by the attackers. Delhi had the upper hand, now to hammer home the advantage.

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It had been a frustrating couple of months for Nusrat Shah Lodi. His army was bogged down in the south, having little more than some narrow victories to show for their efforts. The coastal city of Halar was taking a while to besiege whilst the defenders could smuggle in supplies from the sea. To the west, Multan had allied Jaunpur again, and worst of all, neither Dhundari province had yielded the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi. All in all it had been about as needless a war as the Sultan could’ve imagined, and would surely give ammunition to any detractors of his regime. He needed good news, and he needed it fast. A walk around the palace walls did little to calm his nerves, but when he returned he found an unscheduled messenger waiting in the throne room with Parmanand Singh. The Sultan received the greetings and gifts from the messenger, who came from Dhundar and was holding what looked like a treaty. Nusrat stood confused, normally it was Delhi who made the demands, not the other way around.

“Greetings most humble Nusrat Shah, we have come to offer you the surrender of our provinces, and this sum of money in order to make peace. We hope you will gladly accept.” The diplomat bowed whilst the Sultan stood agog for a moment, before gladly accepting.

The Sultan cursed his luck once the diplomat had gone. All the time wasted fighting in the south when Dhundar had meekly submitted their surrender? If only they’d done so sooner, then the Sultan would’ve been able to answer his critics in style by fighting Multan before they had made friendly with Jaunpur again. He would have to face a lot of criticism for this, he knew. The thought of telling the courtiers all of this made him shudder, but he would have to do it. On the face of things, this war had achieved very little. He would have to do better next time, if there was a next time.

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The funeral for Parmanand Singh was a dignified affair, befitting a man who had ably given his services for the past decade and a half to the Delhi court; he had been liked by all, and as a close friend of the Sultan had assisted him as best he could. The Sultan had become something of a recluse since the death of his advisor, which had led to some unkind rumours of the Sultan becoming a more reclusive, even craven man. As much as the Sultan knew this was not true - he had simply been grieving the loss of his close friend - the rumour had spread across the country and that people believed it was something he would have to put up with. After a few days quiet mourning the Sultan reemerged from his chambers. His advisor may be gone, but the search for the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi was still ongoing.

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Bhenji Das arrived at court and bowed to the Sultan; he knew he had some very big shoes to fill, having been summoned to advise the Sultan in administrative matters he would have to fulfill the role Parmanand Singh had recently vacated. Not only that, but Bhenji had demanded a hefty fee when he had arrived in court, knowing that he would have to work very hard, and for a long time, to reduce the inflation that had been rife in the kingdom. That this fee had only been covered by a reduction in army pay had not endeared Bhenji to the military men in court; he smiled towards them but received a hostile glare in return. Despite this hostility from certain factions in court, Nusrat Lodi promised the advisor that he would be allowed to continue his work unharmed and away from prying eyes. He knew the accounts were not in good order, and that is why Bhenji Das was worth the fee. At least, this was what the Sultan told himself. After the incompetence of the war with Dhundar that had let Multan off the hook, he needed to do something to show that his decisions were in the best interests of the people of his kingdom. A formal ceremony to accept the status of the many Panjabis in the Sultanate had been a start, but Nusrat Lodi knew he still had work to do.

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Those gathered from the estates could hardly believe their ears, but were grateful for the generosity of their liege. The Sultan had called them all together to acknowledge the work that they had done for him and his predecessors, and that he would reward some of these people with land in which to do their duties better. The amirs would be given Bhattiana, Kashmir would go to the ulema, and the jain faction would receive land in Bhera. A formal document was gifted to the new magnates and they left the court to warm applause from the crowds. To everyone in court it was good to see Nusrat Lodi in a better mood than he had been in recent years. The appointment of Bhenji Das had reaped an instant reward when the Panjabi communities that the advisor had grown up in had seen his appointment as a sign of their acceptance in the Delhi way of life. A warm feeling grew in Nusrat Lodi as he soaked in the cheers of the crowds for a moment longer, then he was back to more serious business. Spies along the southern frontier had been reporting problems with Mewar, who kept proclaiming that what was Delhi’s land should actually belong to them; the Sultan of course was having none of it, but this was not his immediate concern for now. What he wanted to do most of all was investigate another report of the man with the engraved chest having reappeared in Kangra.

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Mubarrak Shah Jehan began instructing his men to blockade the city, and not let anyone out. He had been given his orders from the Sultan himself, and was determined not to let Nusrat down. To the west, Ibrahim Viqar ul-Mulk had engaged the army of Sirmur, and despite the mountain passes giving an advantage to the defenders, the sheer numbers of Delhi had been enough to secure victory. With the few territories of Sirmur being occupied or besieged, and Mewat in the south being taken care of by Nagaur, this war would not take long; the Sultan would be pleased.

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Nusrat Lodi watched the traders closing up their stalls for the evening and felt the breeze for a moment. The past few years had taken their toll on the man, but this war had been a welcome distraction for everyone; the fact that it would be a swift and easy victory would quell any doubts that had started to creep into court. The Sultan thought about the Sirmur diplomat who had come seeking him out in the throne room to deliver a message, and in front of the court said “The people of Delhi must come to the mountains seeking enlightenment, primitives that you are.” The insult had stunned the court into silence, but the Sultan had kept his cool and replied, “If we come seeking enlightenment, it will be from someone far wiser than you,” at which the court had roared with laughter. The diplomat had escaped with his life that day, but the Sultan knew it would soon be his turn to look down on the upstart and receive the surrender of Sirmur. The day would only get better if news came of the recovery of the amulet of Malik Bahram Lodi, although the Sultan was not holding his breath. The mountains were full of secret passes and ways to escape, but there were becoming fewer places where someone could hide. The amulet would not stay out of his reach for long.

The demonstration concluded in front of the watching commanders, generals and of course, the Sultan. The cannon had blown a hole in a target wall several hundred feet away, much to the incredulity of all involved, and the limber was now in operation across the Delhi army. Blueprints were sent to Lahore in order to get the limber into mass production, whilst the Sultan ordered this test model to be mounted on the palace walls. Once set, it would be dedicated to the men who served the court as advisers to the Sultan, with a plaque to commemorate Parmanand Singh, and the recently deceased Bhenji Das. It had been a disappointment to the Sultan that the master of the mint had passed before many of his reforms could take place. Inflation was still rather high across the kingdom, but Bhenji had made a good impression of himself, and would be missed by everyone. The Sultan returned to court, where persistent reports of unhappy Hindu neighbours continued to flood in. The recent annexation of both Sirmur and Mewat - the latter rather unjustifiably in the eyes of a lot of people - had worried some people, but not Nusrat Lodi. The elimination of Mewat had left even fewer places for the thief to take the amulet to, but it was still out there somewhere.

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DukeOfNorfolk

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What Idea Group did you take? Religious?
I went for Administrative Ideas, both my ruler and heir have 1 admin so I was hoping to save some points from coring. Extra states will also come in helpful if the amulet keeps evading the grasp of the Sultan as well!