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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Wyvern

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When Alesso returned to the world of men he came back in style landing in the small cobbled courtyard of the mountain temple upon the back of the fire dragon Shih Chin. The Jade Emperor was generous to his chosen one and Shih Chin had been set back with him to lead the armies of China in the coming conflicts Alesso's meditation had forseen lay ahead.

Planting his feet firmly on solid stone Alesso proceeded briskly to the temple gates where the waiting attendants prostrate themselves before ushering him into the presence of the Priest King who's abode this was.

"My dearest and oldest friend" he smiled at the priest in greeting, "you are still well I trust. I feared my little test might have consequences for you." The young boy stared up at him with piercing eyes that couldn't contain the mirth briming up behind them.

"Hah, your mongrel brothers still don't dare set foot in our ancient mountains" the boy laughed, "they haven't forgotten it was here they took the first step on the long path to their curse."

"Of that neither they nor I will soon forget" Alesso replied more soberly, "but tell me, surely it was not fear that kept them at bay, was there no reaction at all from Alvaro, Gothmog or Qutb?

"Oho it was a clever ruse Alesso to be sure but one I would not gamble the future on the result of. You underestimate how much they fear not just you but each other I think. Each one of them is supremely jealous. Jealous of the wealth, jealous of the power, aye and even jealous of the influence each of your siblings has. Most of all though they are jealous of you! Watch yourself my friend for the night will grow dark before the coming of dawn.

"But look at me" the boy laughted "spouting wisdom to you when you know this already."

"It does no harm to be reminded my friend" Alesso replied, "I hear the wisdom behind the words even if you hide behind the body of a youth once more."

"Ah not all see as clearly as you Alesso, but in time this body will grow old and weary and the cycle will proceed once more. But enough of this, I can tell you wish to hear more of your brothers so I will tell you.

"Alvaro devoutely enough declared himself the protector of Tibet before any other had the chance and Gothmog was swift to follow suit. Of the three you tested only Qutb stayed silent but then he had is own problems and likely never considered your words seriously, beset as he soon was from all sides."

"Yes, I've heard somewhat of those events, but tell me wise one, should I attribute Alvaro and Gothmog's actions to those of a soul striving for peace, or to one who fears only to act lest he brings down the wrath of the Gods?"

"Not even I can clearly read a mans soul Alesso. You must continue to judge them by their actions, for even a dark soul will change over time if he continually does good.”

“That sounds like a prophesy, but tell me, what else has happened in my absence?”

“Well, even outside India not all has been peaceful. Your brother Muhammed made a bid to wrestle the gold mines of South America from the local natives. It seems your governor in Mexica took this amiss and managed to pull the northern part of the continent away from him.”

“Then I will have to see what I can do to relieve him of his gains for this distant land is a distraction from the greater goal I now have. Perhaps I should reward Gothmog, it seems he passed the test after all. I would offer it to Alvaro too but I fear he has not the means to protect such land.”

“I doubt Gothmog will want land so distant either Alesso” the young Priest King replied, “but I’m sure you’ll find a solution and other rewards to give Alvaro.”

"Indeed I will. Now tell me of Kraunak, he troubles my dreams. I sense great pain and turmoil coming out of his lands and I fear I am losing him yet not in the same way as some of my other brothers. Perhaps I can lead him back if I give him more responsibility, something to draw him back to this world rather than to sink down into the madness I fear in engulfing him."

"You plan to give him these new lands in America then? A risky proposition Alesso and one I will pray works."

The two continued talking deep into the night. They had known each other for centuries, from almost the very beginning in fact. The only friend the endless years could grant an immortal man when everyone else withered, died and so fell by the wayside.

Alesso was as weary as any of his brothers as he lay down to rest that night, knowing it was his wyrd to guide them back to the light if possible, and if not then to cast final judgement on them all before his own soul could find peace. So long he though and yet so very far yet still to go. How will I bear to walk the path that must be trod, to do what must be done? He knew now that the first thing he must do was recover the Helm that was lost, hidden these many centuries in the bowels of Brunei. The knowledge was lost to all but he and his brother Ilyar, and when he sent out his thoughts to Ilyar, to contact him and beg him one last time to cast aside his ambition, all he felt was emptiness. Had Ilyar managed to end his curse somehow? To end his suffering?

At this thought and the thought of what Alesso must now do he nearly wept, but then he stealed himself once more. Yu Huang Dadi had shown him the path, he would let his will be done.
 

Swuul

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I sensed him, calling a pathfinder. I sensed him, calling a loyal friend. I sensed he would be the rightful master, even though I had once said nobody could be my master again. I sensed he had the ability to fulfill what my Master had not accomplished.

I broke the harness Death had put upon me. Free from the chilly stables of Death I went to him who called me.

"My lord, you called me. My name is Bukefalos. You may ride me, and I will help you find the paths to the Way. You are the Horselord, but I am the Lord of Horses", I said to Alvaro the Horselord.
 

devil

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Brunei Development in the Period 1575-1599​

- Muhammed receiving the report from his Grand Vizier-​

Honorable Sultan, here are the newest income figures, after your divination for the year 1599. We have added a new Chart to better highlight the distribution of wealth, or as you might say the incompetence of others.

post-4-1093542257.jpg


post-4-1093542430.jpg


post-4-1093542653.jpg


Very nice Grand Vizier its always nice, to be confirmed in I am on the right path. And most of my brothers are walking down the path of poverty and destruction.

Yes if you notice we are especially doing well to control our inflation, look at the fallen brother that fled from Delhi to Manchu, 40 % inflation :eek:

Yes I am even ashamed to call him a brother, Qutb the Sucidal he shall be known from now on. He proved to be a even greater fool with money than Sui the Gold Waster. :mad:

Thank Allah!!! We overtook the hindu's in mataram with a nice increase, concerning total income :D. But... they are still leading in trade income, our trade income dropped with nearly 40%!! :( Dear Sultan, the problem has been low stability since you ordered the annexation of the Inca realm. The cost to maintain control of the pagans have proved harder than expected. Still China is mostly to blame, attacking us during the war with nippon, protecting his little lapdog. :(

Dammit! Is it true most of our warfleet sunk too?:

Yes unfortunately we lost several ships due to extremly bad weather where at least 100 ships disapeared out of thin air. :( I am sure some greater power had something to do with it. Mischief I say....

Nothing to do about that now, I order you to rebuild the war fleet asap, I will not accept a navy below 500 armed ships.

It will be done great Sultan.!

Give me the results of all wars, lead so far.

First we honorably defeated the Weak Sui in Bengal, forcing him to pay tribute to us and Mataram. But even though we put considerable efforts into helping Qutb in Delhi he was defeated.

Second we destroyed the insane brother Kraunak in Nippon, he has clearly lost any chance of regaining his sanity. We pray that Alvaro miraculously will find a cure to him.

Then after defeating Nippon, Alesso the Coward stabed us in the back and betrayed the deal of the New World. We had to accept defeat as any communication with the fleet was impossible. We had to cede 6 newly conquers provs in the new world to the brother of greed. :mad:

Thank you Grand Vizier, Alesso better not betray me again, or we will teach him a lesson he never will forget...

Indeed any who attack us, will taste the power of our fleets. Like Gothmog did, he foolishly stabed us... :mad:

Good, thats all for now you are dismissed.
 

unmerged(11031)

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Death and Rebirth

He woke up with sand blowing in his face.

Gazing around him, the land was barren and endless as far as his eye could see. Miles upon miles of scrub grass, seemingly endless. The freezing wind continued to throw sand at him, getting into his eyes and into his clothing.

‘Where am I? Who am I?’ he asked the emptiness.

Standing up, the man began to walk towards the rising sun, feeling compelled to walk that way. For days he walked, seeing no signs of life. Neither hunger or thirst touched him, the man only stopped when exhaustion caused him to lie down where he stopped walking.

While he slept he had dreams.

Dreams of pure and utter darkness. So dark that he wondered if his eyes had been plucked from his face. And cold, truly cold, the chill of the wind was as nothing to the cold of the dream. The man woke up screaming every time and began his walking, almost running, to escape the dreams. But every time he slept, they returned. He could not escape them.

Time passed, he knew not how long, before he came upon people again. The sun was high overhead when he first saw them in the distance. Something was moving towards him, he could not tell what, but they did not look like him. They had 4 legs, that much he could tell. As they got closer, he could see that they had two heads and the lower part looked as if it was covered in something, while the upper part looked more like him.

He tried to flee these strange creatures, to duck down in the grass and escape their notice, but it was too late, they had seen him and soon they had him surrounded and were making strange noises at him, but what they were he could not understand. They gestured at him and threw things at him, and then there was blackness.

The next thing that he knew, he was face down on one of these creatures, unable to move, something was wrapped around him, restraining him. The creatures were making noises at each other, still he could not tell what the noises meant, but they must mean something to them. One of the creatures turned to look at him and then made noises at it’s companions. They did not stopped but continued on through the light.

When darkness came, they threw him to the ground and then to his amazement, they seemed to separate themselves from their lower halves. Another amazing thing happened, they then brought light to the darkness in a small area. The creatures then tried to do something to him, they poured something down his throat, then leaving one of their number to watch him, they grouped to together and began making their noises again.

And so this passed for a number of changing’s from light to darkness to light again. As time passed, the noises the creatures made began to take shape and meaning, and soon he could understand the things being said, though some of the meanings of what they said eluded him. Nipponese, what was that? Chaganti? City? So many things being said that he did not understand.

And the dreams continued.
 

Wyvern

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The Beginning of Darkness

Alesso tensed as he felt a change in the breeze. Power was gathering, great gouts of destructive force and it was coming closer as if sniffing at him on the wind. Slowly as if it could sence his awareness it withdrew perhaps its wielder not yet sure of his power or with a different target in mind?

Casting out his mind Alesso quickly scanned for his brothers, what was happening?

He sensed Muhammed and Drake on the eastern islands. They too must have noticed something amiss for they were quickly casting warding spells but it would avail them naught as panic gripped the streets of the Mataram capital (-1 stab) whilst for Muhammed the scenes were soon even worse as the coastal city of Makassar was engulfed in a great tidal wave the like of which had never been seen in the region before, its force tearing at the city docks killing thousands and sending hundreds more fleeing to the hills (-3 Manpower).

Yet there was more to come. Dark forces were afoot he was sure of it. Like many others he had seen the streaks of sorcery passing through his skies. Like others he had gathered those stray strands up lest they do unknown damage to his lands and people. Unlike some however he had recognised the dark malevolent force behind the sorcery, a force that would have him use this power for evil destructive ends if he would but let it, and knowing this Alesso banished the stray power into the howling void lest it be used by someone else unwittingly or not for evil ends. Had someone else tapped into this same power Alesso wondered, was one or more of his brothers behind these event or another, darker force? One thing Alesso was sure of was that these were not natural disasters.

Looking further afield Alesso now saw a dark cloud enveloping the lands around Kabul causing more mayhem and destruction in the streets of Amzad’s capital (-2 stab), and India was not to go unskathed either with earthquakes hitting Sambalpur destroying the great fortress there and riots and looting taking place in Delhi (-1 tax).

The times of Darkness had begun ….
 

Peter Ebbesen

the Conqueror
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A Kindling of the Soul
1575-1599
In which Gothmog gloats most unseemly


As his mighty fleet approaches the shores of Atjeh, words reach him that Ilyar has fallen in battle to the sneaky Muhammed. He roars with anger and his commanders cower before his wrath. Then silence, blessed silence, as he communicates with Muhammed across vast distances. A partitioning is agreed upon. Atjeh to Muhammed and the mainland to Gothmog. It is not the best of deals, but it is a deal, and he has been conspiring with Muhammed the grasping for some time now to attack the avaricious Drake of Mataram. It would not do to upset such an ally needlessly.

Besides, it is not as if the land is his primary goal in this campaign.

He moves swiftly on the winds of war to Ilyar’s capital of Malacca and his armies lay siege. In the fifth month, the walls are breached and his victorious army pours into the city. Ever in the forefront of the fighting is Gothmog, serene bringer of peace. In his wake the silence of death.

As he walks through the capital his bright spirit searches ever for traces of Ilyar. Defeated on the field of battle, his soul will have returned to its seat of power even before his broken body. HE laughs as he catches the briefest taste of the stricken soul. A temple. The fool would reincarnate in a temple dedicated to himself. Is there no limit to the foolishness of these mortals?

Unhurriedly, but with the swift sure tread of the Valaraukar, he advances on the temple. Brave warriors defends its steps but none can stand against him, for though they are strong and true, the best in Ilyar’s realm, they are of the Secondborn, the mortal children of Eru Iluvatar and he is ever so much more.

Into the inner sanctum he marches, past riches and opulence unmatched, and the priests flee his coming, and there, there is the focus, Ilyar is already returning but his will is yet weak. Reaching into the roots of his power, he utters a word of command in the tongue of Melkor to still Ilyar’s struggles and brings forth an iron band. He rings the fool with wards and tortures his malignant soul, till Ilyar’s tenous grasp of sanity snaps. And thus, devoid of intellect, the power that was Ilyar is drawn into the iron band, and Ilyar is no more. Nevermore will he rise again from the grave or from the battlefield, yet part of his power lives on.

And Gothmog laughs as he leaves the temple for his power grows stronger with each passing day. His skin blisters with suppressed heat, and for a moment he envies his old companion Sauron, Melkor’s second lieutenant, the mastery of forms and skinshifting, yet he is human enough – for now – to fool most anybody. It will do.

And it is needed.

War erupts in India, and his ally to be, Muhammed the Cold of Brunei, has betrayed him and leaguered with Drake the Avaricious. Together those two rulers of the waves strike India with impunity, and Sui-cuf-noc and Bistami are sorely beset as they are already fighting Qutb and Amzad.

So he intervenes.

The fleet of Vientiane under the command of the great admiral Iron Reaver sets out to invade Mataramese Jakarta, yet despite initial successes against Drake’s main fleet, the invasion turns sour when the fleet is ambushed by Muhammed’s and Drake’s joined fleets, which outnumber his hundred-strong navy three to one. Though losses are few, the seas are denied him, and he settles down to burning officials of Mataram caught in occupied Indochina. In due course of time, a white peace is signed, yet he will not forget that Muhammed has played him false.

He is a giver of gifts, but to his enemies he is death.

As the years pass, he concentrates on the mastery of his remaining and newfound power, and he prepares to unleash a wave of sorcery on his worst enemies. To the west and to the south, none can hide from his wrath rekindled.

And yet – something is wrong, or perhaps very, very, right!

From the very skies tendrils of power seek the earth, and he recognizes the power. It is his own! Remnants of the power sacrificed to deceive the Wardens, it now streaks for the closest uncontaminated matter. He draws in as many strands of power as he can, yet some fall on distant lands and there is nothing he can do. Some will be wasted. Some will poison the land. And some will be taken and used by those who seek power in all its guises.

Those people, he will hunt down and kill, enslave, or subvert. If possible, he will bind their souls to iron bands and take their power… With every brother who falls and does not rise, his power will grow stronger, and when he has grown strong enough, then let the world know fear as he reveals himself.

When they use it, HE will feel it, and he will know who did it, for the power is ultimately his and answers only to him and to great Melkor, who gifted Gothmog lavishly when he was just one of many of the Maia when the world was young.

As war wracks India again, he readies his armies to take part in the fighting, his goal, as always, to preserve Indian disharmony.

And thus, when Alesso the sucker enforces a peace that leaves none satisfied and his own reputation more tarnished than ever, a peace that forces the Priest-King to extend his rule from the mountains and into the plains and forests, thus risking temptation – or damnation – he cannot help but smile. Even his enemies strive to achieve his goals though they know it not.

He raises his fists to the skies above and let loose a blast of flame to signal the end of war. And as he returns to Daegûl, he laughs with joy and his men laugh with him, for it is a good time to serve the bringer of peace.

And he unleashes a storm of sorcery upon his enemies, for harrying an enemy until he is tricked into acting rashly was always his preferred strategy.
 

unmerged(11031)

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Death and Rebirth Part Two (of many)

The smells and sights overwhelmed him.

There were far too many people here, in this city. Wasn’t that strange word? And his captors told him that there were many more of these Cities, in Manchuria, another strange word. Birobidjan was huge, teeming with life and the stench of all the people, huddled together in such a small place was beyond belief. Of what it stank off, he did not know, but it was enough to make him gag. The people seemed to be different here as well, they had no horses for one thing, which he had been told, were not part of them, but were some creature that the people harnessed to travel from place to place. How they had laughed when they told him that. There also seemed to be another kind of person, from what he had seen, smaller and different shaped to the ones who had captured him.

‘What am I doing here?’ He asked the lead captor a shortest man, with a long flowing tail of hair and an evil looking scar that ran down his right cheek, so close to his eyes, that he was surprised that it had not been damaged by the cut. ‘What are you going to do with me?’

‘Silence Slave. You belong to us now and you will do as you are told. If the threat of the south was not so strong, you would be dead now already’. The man replied, not looking back over his shoulder. ‘The City elders will decide your fate, there are many tasks a strong, if stupid man can do’.

With that, he went quiet, taking in the surroundings. But what his captor had said stirred something inside of him and suddenly an image appeared in front of his eyes, so real that he could taste and feel it. A path into the mountains, men gathered round something, waiting for something, another man coming to them and saying something, the men fleeing as if for their very lives. Suddenly something clipped the back of his head and the vision vanished.

‘Get a move on slave, we are here’

He looked about him and saw a building set apart from it’s neighbors. Taller then any other building he had seen by a half and with guards at the doors, the building radiated a sense of power and authority that the man found familiar. His captors led him inside, with his hands bound, but he walked taller then he had before and his captors felt an aura or power around him that they had never felt before, even when they fought with their Khan.

He was immediately met by a man behind a desk, who looked him up and down once and then said ‘Warehouse. Heavy lifting.’ And with that, his fate was decided. He was led out again and was made to walk to where the next chapter of his life was to begin.
 

ForzaA

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om-symbol.jpg
I like books :)
This time, I quote and/or use ideas from "the Years of Rice and Salt" by Kim Stanley Robinson- hope I won't spoil anything for someone reading the book


"You have to understand," Khalid reminded Bahram on the way back to the compund, "there are men in that very
group around the khan who want to bring Nadir down. For them it doesn't matter how good our weapon is. The better the worse, in fact.
So it's not just a matter of them being utter simpletons"

The Fateful Years

With an alliance with Sui now firmly in place,Bistami could finally focus all his attention on his other enemy, his brother Qutb of Delhi. Preparations were made, plans were drawn.
And so, Vijayanagar once again was at war with Delhi, but this time, numbers were with the warriors of the Deccan for the first time. Or so it seemed....
For it took Amzad of the Mughals little time to renege on his pledges made so shortly before, and the Mughals, too, marched against Bistami and his elite troops. To make matters worse, word arrived from Sui, that Muhammed and Drake had decide to invade aswell. Fortunately, Gothmog, bringer of Peace, stepped in, and partly due to his presence, Drake and Muhammed soon accepted a mild peace.

The war with Delhi took longer though, and made the hatred between Sui and Qutb surface more and more. The tides of wars swept back and forth, but eventually, Deccan troops occupied quite some parts of Delhi. It was then that a welcome peace-offer was received. Delhi would give up the contested provinces, if Sui would agree to continue the war between their two nations. And so it happened, and Vijayanagar grew. Bistami's faith in Sui's abilites proved correct, as he, too, soon occupied most of Delhi. A peacetreaty was signed, granting Sui significant parts of Delhi.

The Great Betrayal

No sooner had the first messenger left after delivering his message, or the second arrived, claiming peace had been signed for five. Chaos ensued, with several more messengers arriving over the next few days, some claiming peace had been signed, others that there was no peace. But it became worse, few months later, word arrived that a local militia had decided to attack Delhi again, very much against Bistami's wishes, and also against the good of Vijayanagar. Qutb, no longer possessing the strength to resist even such an unorganised group of troops, withdrew from large eastern areas, leaving them to the militia. Bistami attempted to impose his control upon these areas, and he seemed succesful.

However, this was not the end of the chaos, as Sui took the actions of this militia as an insult, and cancelled all ties with Bistami. This, ofcourse, could not be accepted. Bistami quickly reassembled his army, this time to bring back Sui into the fold. Yet it was not to be. After a short campaign, both Alesso and Gothmog expressed their concern over Bistami's so-called "aggression", and Gothmog even sent troops to fight Bistami. But even this was not the end of it, the governor of the northern provinces, so recently gained after the actions of the militia, handed over the cities, fortresses, and command over the garrisons, to the priest-king of Tibet. But the conspiracy ran deeper, several of Bistami's most trusted advisors and commanders, too, were part of the conspiracy, and although it grieved him much, Bistami had to have them executed. Stability returned somewhat, but the campaign in Bengal had to be abandoned.

However, Bistami knew that these people would not have betrayed him for nothing, there had to be a deeper reason. As far as Bistami could tell, there were two possibilities. Firstly, it could be bribery, which could come from quite a few sources, really.It could be from Alesso or Alvaro, as they both seemed to have an interest in making the priest-king stronger. It could be Sui, afterall, he benefited from it, in that he would be free of paying tribute again. It could be someone else, aswell, although reasons for them would be more obscure. Secondly, it could be that these people had been influenced by signs of the gods, signifying, perhaps, that the gods were unhappy with Bistami championing their cause. The first option, while not a good sign, could be accepted. The second, however, would need Bistami's full attention. While it was not certain it WAS the gods, Bistami could not afford not to investigate this, but it would take some time.
 

BlkbrryTheGreat

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Chapter II

It was all for nothing. For nothing my people suffered through over a century of war. For nothing there crops were stolen, their homes burned, their sons and brothers conscripted, and their children slaughtered. For nothing they suffered for over a century. For nothing, save my arrogance and pride.

When I was but a young child in China the wise men of the village had a saying. They said that wealth and rank are what people desire, but unless they be obtained in the right way they may not be possessed. I did not believe them, I did not think that such a such a quaint platitude could possibly apply to the Sultan of one of the most glorious kingdoms of the Earth. In my hubris I believed that aggression would secure the wealth and power I needed to meet my noble end. I was wrong and it was my people who paid the price.

The worst of it is that they would have continued to pay had it not been for the Priest King. When he descended down from his mountain he tore away my facade of benevolence and exposed my hypocrisy. The people under his care were prosperous, peaceful, and above all happy. My people were starving, miserable, and in open rebellion against me. While I preached of living a virtuous life, he had practiced it. When I realized this, I was angry, angry with myself; angry that I had forgotten that my quest to seize the Throne and slay God was but a means to an end. I had forgotten that my ultimate goal was the uplifting and enlightening mankind. It was then that I realized that it need not be all of mankind at once, I could start with my own Kingdom.

I would spread the light of reason through Bengal, I would make it a beacon for the entire world to emulate. No longer would I allow painters, scientists, and uncooperative philosophers to be arrested to appease the power drunk clergy, my sworn enemies. I knew that my people had to be free. From that point forward the former were encouraged while the latter, and their true believers, were persecuted, arrested, and converted from a faith based mentality to a rational one. It was not an easy process, nor a short one, (education never is) but, ironically enough a century of tragedy eased the process- the people had suffered so much that they believed that God had abandoned them, a notion that made the process relatively peaceful and much more rapid then it otherwise would have been.


The religious fanatics in other kingdoms did not look kindly upon this - and they began pressuring my brothers and other leaders to invade Bengal. They did not know what their leaders did; that Bengal had been reborn from the ashes of War and rebellion. That the will of Sui and his people were now one, that to wage war against them was to wage total war. For them there would be no more defeats, they would never surrender or make peace save on terms favorable to Bengal. That they would rather be slaughtered to every last man, woman, and child then yield a single inch of ground to those who would oppress them once again. They did not invade because there were scared, they sensed something that was not there before- a will of steel emanating from both leader and people.

They knew this for they had recieved a message. For it was on February 12, 1599 of the Christian calendar, that the leaders of the world, one and all, heard the voice of the one they knew as Brother Sui-cuf-noc, as loud and decisive as a thunderclap: "Leaders of the world know this! The blood thirsty tyrant known as Sultan Sui-cuf-noc is dead! From his ashes has arisen Confucius, the Prophet of Mankind! The long silent voice of reason has at long last found its song! The shackles placed upon us by those who would deny us our true potential have been torn asunder! Bengal is reborn, we are free from the tyranny of both man and God, we are free in both mind and body! Any who attempt to enslave us shall perish, know that we will preserve our freedom by any means necessary!"
 

Peter Ebbesen

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The Hour of Power
Special Report!

MEPHISTOPHELES: A brave INN infiltration team has managed to unearth the following deeply secret knowledge. Brother Ilyar is no more. Somebody somehow managed to end the curse on his life and Brother Gothmog is suspect. But wait, there is more!

ASMODEUS: Apparently, Brother Ilyar was in possession of some ancient documents showing the location of the Mystic Heirlooms of the Kingdom of Brunei from last century. Prominent amongst them was a Helm of Power. The INN team is working on determining the exact location, and I know that we all love Dr. Braun’s work, but preliminary analysis suggests that the Heirlooms are probably buried somewhere under the capital of Brunei.

MEPHISTOPHELES: It is doubtful that Brother Muhammed knows of this development at this point in time.

ASMODEUS: Indeed.

MEPHISTOPHELES: A second recent breakthrough occurred as Dr. Faust managed to decrypt the bong-bong-bong code used by the witch-drummers of Zanj, who have been banging away on their drums like there is no tomorrow. It would seem that the Golden Idol of Mohrsex has been rediscovered! Stolen from the chief of Zanj four decades ago, the signals indicate that it was recently recovered from a beached pirate ship.

ASMODEUS: Looks as if the Zanj is once again about to become the perpetually happy land of yore.

MEPHISTOPHELES: Disgusting.

ASMODEUS: Indeed.
 

RedPhoenix

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The reign of Amzad, lord of the Mughals, in the years faded out of memory by extravagated combat and Gothmogs witchcraft

The day of reckoning was at hand, Amzad a peacefull protector of the weak sought nothing but peace. But so it was not to be, the evil terror of Gothmog and his viantiane guerillas launched an uprovoked attack on the peacefull settlers in ganges, raping and looting every woman and child in the city.

Such attrocities could not for long be looked idly on from the sidelines, Amzad finally after failure to peacefull solution to the crises, launched an offensive to plow way to his peaceloving people, to save them from the hands of the evil tyrant.

Yet it seems Alesso is not only the protector of peace as he claims, but he joined this offensive war against the mughals and so the armies of China marched against Amzad. A huge battle were to ensue between Amzad and the axis of evil armies of Sui and Alesso, now 3 powers faced against Amzad alone who only sought to protect the innocent.

In the great Battle at Sambalpur, Amzad showed what a true battle commander can do, nearly wiping out the troops of Sui and Alesso, choosing not to pursue them and give them chance to make peace though...

Peace they did not desire, as evil men generally are kin to like war and mayhem they desired to continue it.

China brought half a million men more to india, so Amzad had to withdraw several provinces back, merging with his main army just as the Chinese Vietantiane and bengal troops jointly invaded the lands of the Chagatai in Delhi, a bystander in this war had now been involved by the bloodthirst of the evil axis.

A huge battle ensued again with 100.000 evil troops facing off against a bit under 60.000 mughal troops whom at that time were at half maintenance, the result... 50.000 mughals withdrawing pulling a tactical withdrawal after Amzad drilled his sword through Alessos heart, in the end with 50.000 evil troops stayed on the battlefield. Immediately after Amzad threw his troops back into the frey with reinforcements and so the evil troops ran like dogs. But China sent another wave of troops against Amzad, only to be totally obiliterated and wiped out by the power of Amzad. So China the evil orchestrator wanted peace, and Amzad let him out the door like the dog he was.

So the the royal guard of Amzad and him self made camp once more in Sambalpur, when in the night the sneaky assasins of Gothmog swarmed the sleeping troops, outnumbered 3 to 1 Amzad rallied and battled like never before, not giving an inch or retreating they drove off the evil viantianes slaughtering them left and right. Tales of Amzads courage would live on forever, his heroism and honor. A true man of dignity, saviour of the innocent!

Amzad proceeded to clean the peacefull land of the bengal terror when suddenly a field under him turned to swamp out of nowhere before his horses feet and he sunk right in, the swamp closed after not allowing anyone to help Amzad. This has to be works of Gothmogs dark sorcerors who by their dark magic make the earth devour Amzad, evil villains like this deserve nothing but the blade and fire... BURN witches BURN!!!!!

Rumors of Amzads resurrection and forthcoming vengeance bring joy to the hearts of all good and honest Indians, our saviour will be back! REJOICE! Drive the Viantianes to the sea Amzad !!! Drive them away from our lands, chants can be heard all over India as jubilant peasants rally to honor Amzad their hero!
 
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Swuul

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At last the great army started upon its march. There were warriors from every corner of the Horselords lands. Infantry were armed either with bow and arrows or muzzle-loaders, for nearly the entire contingent of the musketeers had been enlisted for this march. Cavalry, my beloved Horselords, had their spears and sabres.

Troops of Kraunak and Qutb were not to be underestimated, that had the demise of Kenta-Ur showed. I divided the forces into divisions, regiments, battalions, companies, and even to platoons and sections, appointing the full complement of officers and noncommissioned officers. Each regiment was made up of about a thousand bow and spear infantry, and to each was attached a contingent of musketeers. The Horselords were to act as a massive shock attack force where ever I needed them.

Before we reached the border to Manchu we were discovered by a Nipponese ninja, and despite Bukefalos doing his best, the sneaky shadow succeeded to disappear. The result of this was that when we crossed the border a great army of Manchurians and Nipponese were lined up to give us battle.

Despite the enemy outnumbering my troops 3 to 2 I ordered an attack.

The slaughter was something frightful. The Horselords scythed through the trembling lines of the Manchurians. The Nipponese under my mad brother Kraunak succeeded to flank my right side because of the sheer numbers didn't allow my line to be as long as theirs. We lost heavily in the encounter after the Nipponese reached our flank; but they were stopped and thrown back by a timely counter-charge of the Horselords.

But here we were doomed to defeat, at least temporarily; for no sooner had the battle in the flank begun, when the spearmen at front saw the Horselords charging in their back. Despite my frantic actions, the front-line began to waver. Soon the whole line was falling back, even though the enemy was falling back too. Seeing victory was escaping I ordered my troops to withdraw across the border to regroup and rest.

The losses had been horrible; near half of my force was no longer fit for fighting; only 35 thousand men were left, amongst them 14 thousand Horselords. Yet the enemy had lost even more, and their morale was shattered.


After a week I was scouting the battle field again with Bukefalos. I did learn Kraunak had deserted his ally. The Manchurians where alone on the field now, but they had recieved reinforcements. 70 thousand Manchurians! But surely they would be no match for the Horselords!

Without hesitation I rode with Bukefalos to the wast camp of the Horselords. Orders where given; in the morning we would attack again!

This time the battle went as expected. The Manchurians where crushed. Kraunak had again learned of my movements, and was force-marching his samurai to the field, but they arrived too late.

I called a truce. Brothers Qutb and Kraunak arrived. I suggested we stop all hostilities, and return to status quo that had been before the sneaky backstabbing attack Qutb and Kraunak had pulled at me. Qutb agreed, Kraunak - with a mad glee in his eyes - first hesitated, but then agreed too.

The worst backstab was however yet to come. Alesso closed the border, and sent me and my men to the Manchurian wastelands in the dead of the winter. Thousands and thousands died, as we ploughed through the snow to the Horselords realm. My thought of brother Alesso are not very high now; it is as if some daemon have taken over him, he is not the peaceloving brother he once was. He has become a lover of war, and laugh at the sufferings of his brothers.



I must again redouble my efforts to find the Way.
 
Last edited:

Norrefeldt

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Brunei, during Muhammad's absence

Muhammad had to be away for some time, he understood if even if he didn’t like it one little
bit. He wanted to be in the centre, directing his merchants’ every move. But business demanded it and the gold miners of South America had to be turned into Indonesians. That would mean they would adopt his secret lust for bullion, trade and dominance of sea lanes. Of course he had to get a stand-in, and true to him he opted for a last minute priced budget model of a mercantilist clerk demon.

He left for the mountains of the former Inca Empire while the demon started to form in the atrium of his astrolabe. All he left was a note with the necessary instructions on the back of beer mat.

The clerk demon summoned was 233. Not an impressive number, short and insignificant. He secretly hoped to add some more numbers of higher ranks to his name after a few more missions and maybe, one day, he could get to do really evil clerk business, probably working in some truly impregnable bureaucratic organisation. Well, that was far into the future and he got to his work. He found joy in sending merchants to their destinations and it was even more fun to see hapless human strive off to colonies ha had chosen in really far away places. Everything went smooth. The problems begun, a group of humans called England declared war and some of Muhammad’s brothers wanted him to join another war. Of course he declined their call, and England fortunately was happy with just burning down replaceable trade stations. The clerk demon 233 hid from the news of this war, hoping it would go away if he didn’t think of it. Such madness as wars often gets worse the more one thinks of them, he new from experience.

He found among Muhammad’s papers a note of a tribal Mohresex discovery in Zanj. After having tried to calculate its worth three times he gave up since it evaded fitting into his models. Still, once again the peaceful mind of the clerk demon was disturbed, when Brunei found itself in a war with the aggressive and hot blooded Nippon. They invaded from the lands of Alessi, another of Muhammad’s brothers, and into the Inca lands. Luckily he didn’t have to bother about that since Muhammad himself waited across the border and soon sent the 16.000 soldiers of Kraunak's insanity to their eternal sleep.

Apart from these things, that the clerk demon found only disturbing, there’s a lot of interesting deals to report. It is all in neat order in his ledgers, along with receipts of every expense, of course.
 
Last edited:

Wyvern

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Alesso’s mind reeled. Where was he? What had happened to him? A stab of pain half remembered lanced through his mind then was gone again as quickly as it came, this time to be replaced by a soft glowing light.

“Go back Alesso” a voice commanded in his mind. “Go back for it is not yet your time.” He knew the voice for it had spoken to him before, spoken to him that very first time when it guided him to the Throne of Heaven, it was the voice of the Jade Emperor, the ruler of Heaven. “When your task is complete” it spoke, “then return. Know that a great evil threatens all the people of your world; One has recently come to your world that yet hides in the shadows. Soon the evil will show itself and then you must counter it lest this evil gains the Throne itself and threatens the immortal Heavens!” This last statement was uttered in such a ringing shout that his mind blacked out again, but this time as darkness decended it enveloped him almost lovingly.

When he woke it was to the sharp bite of a chill winter’s wind sweeping through a crack in the window. He found himself resting on a hard wooden cot surrounded by solid stone walls and knew he must be in the care of the mountain priests a thought quickly confirmed by the rustling of a robe as a man stirred in the chamber. “Welcome back my son” spoke the Priest King. His friend had aged considerably since last they met but Alesso would never forget the soul that shone out of this man, no matter what the age or what body it inhabitted. Something in his clear blue eyes spoke of what and who he was. “Next time Alesso” he spoke again “let your generals lead the fighting eh, if there has to be a next time which I fear there will for the war still continues in northern India”

“How long” croaked Alesso his dry throat causing him difficulty to speak, “how long have I been here?”

“Are you sure you want to know?” The old man paused for a moment, “Well I guess you must. It has been over four years Alesso, four long years since you were wounded in battle and brought here by your companions. Years during which the fighting has continued to rage in India between Amzad and Gothmog getting bloodier and bloodier. You must bring it to a close you know if we’re ever to see peace and it won’t be straight forward for during your absence your advisers withdrew your own forces from the war.”

“I know my responsibility have no worry there and if needs must China will reenter the war. I have other tasks though to complete too and these cannot wait forever. Perhaps with one you can help, my lord the Jade Emperor has spoken to me of a new evil that has entered our world. Tell me wise one do you know of what he speaks?”

“Surely Alesso you don’t need me to point to the forces of sorcery that pervaded our lands not so long ago and continue to trickle through. I have my guesses as to what he speaks but so far I’ve been unable to pinpoint the source. Whereever its coming from it grows stronger every year and I fear it is attempting to corrupt some of your brothers too for they would make useful conduits for its power and malevolence. I fear Alesso that alone you will not be able to fight it.”

“It seems I’m always alone.” Alesso spoke bitterly, “How can it be any different when each and every one of my brothers is attempting to gain control of the Throne?”

“I know your wyrd seems harsh sometimes but don’t give in to despair. Not all are as avaricious as they seem, in some there is still yet hope and even from the most unexpected quarter help may come in the end. Now we have talked enough my friend, I’ve arranged for a group of your companions to lead you through the passes back to China, much as I enjoy your company I hope I won’t be having to tend to your wounds again in the near future.”

As Alesso lay back in the cot his mind wandered over the events of recent years. His brothers were getting bolder it seemed which did not bode well. Once upon a time if he had given his protection to a nation or to one of his siblings then nobody would have dare attack in any way. Now though Amzad had broken the spell and boldly invaded Bengal despite Alesso’s alliance with Brother Confucius. Brother Confucius - now there was a stange one. Why would he change his name from Sui to Confucius? It seemed the fad started by Gothmog was catching. And what about Gothmog, the name meant bringer of peace so he said in the ancient tongue. Something whispered to him that he should watch Gothmog carefully but he brushed the thought aside as unworthy. Surely Gothmog was one of the brothers the Priest King was meaning when he spoke of there still being hope? Of all his brothers it seemed Gothmog was the one he could rely on most. Yes he grew in strength little by little but for decades now he had looked out for his brother in Bengal. A voice whispered to his –he did invade Ganges, but like swatting at a gnat Alesso brushed that throught aside. Now Alvaro, there was one he had thought he could trust. Trust? Now Alvaro was publically supporting Amzad and his foul invasion of India. An invasion that had caused the deaths of thousands of innocents not to mention ending in his own near fatal injury. No, Alvaro was clearly not one to be trusted now.

Then there was the new worry on the northern border with Manchuria. Peaceful for centuries and then war had broken out seemingly over a triffle. He had sensed the presence of brother Qutb in the region which would explain much, but he had been too distracted by India to pay it much mind. Had Qutb resurfaced again? Had he gained a new power base?

He would return to China and investigate. He would return and then put a stop to the fighting in India. And then, if he could gain but a moments peace, he would search for a way to retrieve the great Helm of Power lest it fall into the hands of one of his brothers who would only use it for evil ends…
 

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Brunei Development in the Period 1599-1614​

- Muhammed receiving the report from his Grand Vizier-​

Honorable Sultan, welcome back. Here are the newest income figures, after your divination for the year 1614. Brunei has been in good hands, allthough we did unfortunately peace nippon after our great succes in the start of the war.

post-4-1094147807.jpg


post-4-1094147847.jpg


post-4-1094147931.jpg


I will comment on the later, I am busy in the harem tonight..

Very well Sultan, we shall talk later.
 

Peter Ebbesen

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The Hour of Power
1575-1599

…The assassin, dressed to kill, enters the throne room and confronts the Emperor of the Pale Orange Empire who, seated on his throne, watches his would be killer dispassionately. Fivefold wards rings his body, ensorcelled rings protect him from poison, from disease, and from attacks by beings of the lower planes… From his voluminous robes, the assassin draws the Dagger of Eternity, the one weapon in the world that can harm the emperor, the blade for which he quested a decade in the Valley of Diamond against the Archimandrite of C’hulttt and his Shadow Plumbers, balances it carefully in his hand, and with one graceful movement throws it straight for the heart of the Emperor. The Emperor smiles evilly as the dagger loops and strikes the assassin right between the eyes, then he sends for an underling. Time to return the dagger to his servant the Archimandrite. No doubt, another questing hero will be along sometime soon, and it would be a crying shame if he did not get to exploit the well-known vulnerability of the Emperor. Time used to be that heroes would bring along armies and sow destruction in their wake, which was rather hard on the carpeting, but ever since he invented the dagger and story of his invulnerability things have been ever so much tidier.

[Sibililant voice] Welcome… To the Hour of Power.


MEPHISTOPHELES: Death. Destruction. Devastation..

ASMODEUS: And many other words with D. Dreariness comes to mind.

MEPHISTOPHELES: I am Mephistopheles and this is my show, the Hour of Power. Tonight we will be covering briefly the ongoing deceits of Earth #29

ASMODEUS: And the ongoing fall from grace of Alesso the not particularly good anymore.

MEPHISTOPHELES: Tibet. Mountains, Priest-Kings, and rancid yak tea. Also the single most protected nation in the world. Alvaro the Horselord guarantees it his protection. Alesso says that he will tolerate no harm to come to his “good friend” the Priest King, and even Gothmog states that anybody messing with the Buddhists will be messing with him. A sign that the world is entering a period of peace and prosperity, Asmodeues?

ASMODEUS: Fortunately not. A case of old-fashioned brownnosing. It appears that Alesso told several parties that he wanted to see Tibet defended, then “disappeared” on a journey for a few years to see what they would do. Well, if he was thinking that anybody would blow their facades of peacefulness for the sake of rancid yak tea, he was greatly mistaken. Everybody sucked up to him, even in his absence, and Alvaro did it so well that Alesso gave him a fortune in gold.

MEPHISTOPHELES: And meanwhile, I understand that they were busy slaughtering people elsewhere?

ASMODEUS: All in a good cause. Alvaro plotted and goaded Qutb to his destruction against Sui-cuf-noc, while Gothmog crushed what remained of Ilyar after Muhammed had conquered Atjeh. As we noted in our Special Report, Ilyar’s soul is nowhere to be found. The betting odds are 3:1 that ‘twas Gothmog what dunnit. Odds on Ilyar’s soul being redeemed are currently in the vicinity of 10,000 to 1.

MEP. According to exceedingly well-placed sources, once Alvaro had gotten a fortune in gold from Alesso, he put it to good use by plotting with Amzad the destruction of Sui-cuf-noc’s Bengal, grown large by Sui-cuf-noc’s conquest of Delhi by with rebel problems en masse, hiding their communication in plain sight be speaking an arcane language, the use of which is a crime against humanity.

ASMODEUS: Finnish?

MEPHISTOPHELES: Got it in one… Interestingly enough, a duo of INN Succubi with access to top ranking Mughal and Chagatai officials reports that while Alvaro apparently believes himself to be the devious one in his partnership with Amzad, manipulating the Mughal to his advantage, Amzad believes himself to be the driving force, cunningly lulling Alvaro into a false sense of peace while using the Chagatai horsemen to secure India for the Mughals, with the inevitable end of the alliance being the Mughal conquest of the Chagatai.

ASMODEUS: Well, Succubi were ever flighty creatures. Great in bed and excellent for a bit of low-grade corruption, but their vapid little airheads can only hold so much information. I would not put it beyond Amzad and Alvaro to have spotted them for what they are and to have used them even as they used them, so to speak.

MEPHISTOPHELES: Might be, Asmodeus, might be. But enough about Alvaro – let us turn briefly to the east, where Muhammed defeated Kraunak the Golden, conquered Incan provinces, and ended up fighting Alesso in the new world. He ended up losing six of his Incan provinces to Alesso, who immediately handed them over to Kraunak. Does this make any sense to you?

ASMODEUS: no.

MEPHISTOPHELES: Meanwhile, Muhammed was busy betraying Gothmog, with whom he had agreed an alliance to fight Drake of Mataram. Never intending to honour it, he fobbed off the pacifist Gothmog with promises while gloating over his own cleverness. He even attempted to continue the charade after the united fleet of Brunei and Mataram chase away Gothmog’s fleet in the battle of Jakarta.

ASMODEUS: Gothmog a pacifist? Hardly. You are aware that Gothmog is the one of the brothers, who have conquered most land previously belonging to other brothers?

MEPHISTOPHELES: Erhmm. Of course, Asmodeus. Goes without saying. Ha, on a lighter note, it appears that the lunatic brother Sui-cuf-noc is attempting to stir up trouble. He is attempting to spread the following rumour: “The alliance between Mataram and Brueni is a farce, and one of them is secretly working to weaken the other so that the brother can seize his assets and markets for himself.”. WOW! WHAT A SURPRISE! NOT. He also urges Kraunak to discover the Potato in South America, so that that worthy will have something to boil other than ambassadors. Weird. Is Sui-cuf-noc running low on ambassadors?

ASMODEUS: No. He usually sends the village idiot anyway. Kranuak stopped noticing the difference some decades ago. It may be a stunt to promote the spread of potatoes for agricultural reasons, but more likely it is just his insanity manifesting itself again.

MEPHISTOPHELES: You are probably right, Asmodeus. Wouldn’t be the first time. I mean, consider his statement to his privy council last week: “Brother Kraunak is on a Dark Path, seduced by the Dark powers of Darkness, that are very Dark, and spreads Darkness and Doughnuts wherever he goes!”

ASMODEUS: If marketing had gotten their scaly claws in Kraunak, surely we would have been informed?

MEPHSTOPHELES: Of course. Goes without saying. Only one answer: Confucius, the erstwhile Sui-cuf-noc, is mad as a hatter.

ASMODEUS: Right. Of eleven brothers, one is gone, one is insane, and nine strive for dominion. There are no knights in shining armour remaining, only tarnished souls, as black magic rocks the world. Unrest spreads throughout the land and earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and much, much more devastate the countryside, even as the brothers gird themselves for war and spell-battle. Signs and portents aplenty, it is time to unlimber the heavy-duty spells.

MEPHISTOPHELES: The fun is only beginning.
 
Last edited:

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Chapter III


"He does not preach what he practices till he has practiced what he preaches."​


Alexandria 1614​

"All praise to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!," Shouted the would be Leader on the raised dias.

The crowd shouted in return "There is but one God and Muhammed is his prophet!"

"All praise to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!," Shouted the Leader again.

To which the crowd once again responded, "There is but one God and Muhammed is his prophet!"

And so it repeated over and over, yet little did the crowd know that she was looking down upon them. In their "holiest" of sites here she was- Circe the feared, Circe the corruptor of men, Field Marshall of the Nine Hells, daughter of the great and wise Confucius, and succubus extrodinare. True, she looked normal enough (if you considered unworldly beauty normal)- she did not have the cloven feet, protruding horns, long forked tounge, or leathery tail of her succubus sisters, but she was one none the less. At least thats what she told herself anyway, (none of the other demons willingly acknowledged her as one- unless it was in an insult) she had, afterall, passed her guild "exam" with flying colors (meaning she had sucked the soul out of some poor sap who had found one of the arcane portals linking the mortal world to the Harem of Hell and wandered in.... not that the 13 Sisters of the High Succubi made them particularly difficult to find- that however is another story altogether), and her records even said as much (file number 666-1010011010 in the Hellish Buearu of Buearacratic Buearuacrats). However, her human appearance, and brilliant mind, had made her an outcast among the extremely dimwitted succubi and other assorted demons; she had litteraly lost count of the number of times she had been approached by a smirking minon of hell who, barely containing his mirth and laughter said, "You know Circe- you're the most brilliant of the Succubi- but then thats not saying much." Upon which the minion and the surrounding host of demons would break out into a caccophony of idiotic, hellish, gut bursting laughter. Not that she let it get to her, the occasional insult was tolerable enough price for immortality, eternal youth, and demonic magical power- power that could only increase now that she was once again in the service of her Lord and father, Confucius.

"All praise to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!," Shouted the Leader yet again.

To which the crowd once again responded, "There is but one God and Muhammed is his prophet!"

The latest round of repetitive shouting had snapped her from her musings.

"Anyway, back to my original thought." she said to herself. Here she was, atop one of the four minerets surrounding The Temple of Virtue, Cirice looked down onto the central square. The square, now known as the Square of Sui-Cuf-noc the wise, peaceful, and serene was currently filled with a rather passionate crowd. Well, that just a bit of kindness on her part, in truth it was really more of a violent mob. Given what they were here for she wasn't all that suprised at their virulet, hate filled rhetoric. Apparently they had a rather large problem with her father's decisions to shut down all Mosques in Bengali Egypt and ritualistically slaughter all the Clerics, Ayatollals, Imams, and assorted religious leaders and teachers of Islam therein... thinking back upon all the souls, and power, she had gathered from hypocritical "Holymen" (and the rather pleasurable way in which she had gathered them) a wicked smile flashed across her beautiful face and she mumbled to herself "Now THAT was alot of fun."

"All praise to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!," Shouted the Leader, once again breaking the concentration of Circe.

Right on que, the crowd responded, "There is but one God and Muhammed is his prophet!"

"Damnit, if they're going to chant they could at least vary the words a bit, this is getting boring." said Circe. Though, in truth, she didn't care at all what they said, she was more irritated that they had, once again, interupted her thoughts. In fact, when her father had first contacted her and gave her the first step in her latest task she had thought that it would be nothing BUT boredom. Which is understandable given what he had said when he had magically contacted her...

"Let it be known to the Muslims and true believers in our Egyptian lands that if they come to their former mosques, at the time of their traditional evening prayers, that we will hear their grievences and weigh their words."

When she heard that she really had thought this was another one of the usual borings missions of promoting peace, understanding, thought, and virtue- and then he told her the fun part.

"All praise to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!," Shouted the Leader yet again.

"There is but one God and Muhammed is his prophet!" responded the crowd for the last time, though they did not know it yet.


*CLANG*




The nine foot high solid iron doors leading into the temple square had been quickly and quietly shut while the crowd had been distracted. Soldiers equipped with bows appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, on the walls surrounding the square. In unison they drew they pulled an arrow from their quivers and drew their bows taunt. The crowd was now trapped inside the square, they could do nothing about it.

Standing tall, she finally made her presence known to the crowd. In a clear and loud, yet seductive, voice she said to the crowd, "Males of Alexandria we have seen your actions and weighed your words- and from them we pronounce judgement. You are all guility. You are all guility of mindlessness- you blindly follow a religion even after Lord Confucius has shown you the brilliance of reason, thought, and virtue. You are all guility of intellectual murder, you brainwash your young with this same nonsense and execute those who question your baseless traditions. Worst of all, you are all traitors to mankind- for have knowingly sided with a God who would keep mankind as sheep- ignorant and to be slaughtered when convienent. For your crimes you are awarded with the punishment of..... DEATH! To be carried out immediately."

She waited just long enough for the crowd to realize its fate before she ordered her archers to open fire. A torrent of arrows rained down upon the crowd, every one a hit, every one going exactly though the beating hearts of the condemned. She enjoyed watching the slaughter while it lasted, which wasn't long at all- within minutes everyone in the square was dead.

Utilizing her powers of levitation she floated down to the temple square, she listened carefully for sounds of violence or rioting coming from the surrounding areas of Alexandria. She heard nothing. Good, that meant the second portion of her mission had gone exactly according to plan. The use of bow and arrow instead of muskets, which were much louder, and the swiftness of the executions had kept the surrounding areas of the city completely oblivious to what had transpired within the temple. She could now begin with the final portion of her mission. She nodded, and the gates surrounding the square opened. From them emerged her Dark Acolytes, young virgins one who were chosen based on one criteria- overwhelming lust. An overwhelming lust not only for pleasure, but also for the same power, beauty, and immortality that she possessed. One day, if they proved their worth, they might even be privledged enough to be elevated to apprentices. However, today was not that day- there were more important things to attend to.

The acolytes went about their assigned task. They ripped the hearts out of the condemned. The blood was used to draw an enormous pentagram within the center of the square, while the drained hearts were thrown into a sacrificial braizer in its center. When the gore filled task was finished they joined hands in an enormous circle, surrounding the pentagram they began chanting, chanting in arcane demonic. Their chanting grew loader every minute, and as their voices rose so did the size and intensity of the central flame, and it continued for hours. Louder and louder their voices grew, and the flame increased in size to match it. By midnight both had reached a roaring cresendo. With the night at its peak, and the full moon overhead, she spoke the "forbidden" words of the Old Gods, the words that completed the summoning and ripped a hole through the planes of existence into the very bowels of hell itself.

She spoke the words of binding to the gate "Those who pass shall only harm the condemned within Bengali Egypt. The adults you shall make an example of- you have already been instructed as to how. The children shall be spared- but must be taken to the infernal acadamy- remember, we are demons- not monsters. You have until this time tomorrow to complete your task."

She and her acolytes backed away from to the gate, and floated to the minerts surrounding the square. Moments afterword the hoards of hell burst from the flaming portal to hell and sundered the thick iron gates surrounding the square as if they were tissue paper, it slowed them none at all. From there they poured into the city of Alexandria- there was no one to stop them. Afterall, the guards and soldiers, one and all, had sworn a blood oath to Confucius- they had been instructed to do nothing- so they would do precisely that.

As the hoard spread across the land it was methodical about its task, it gathered the condemned- but it did not commence the slaughter quite yet- it waited until all those destined for death had been gathered, which did not happen until mid-day. Then, simultaneously, across all of Bengali Egypt, the condemned were thrown into the air..... so that their hearts could be pierced by pikes tipped with the bones of those that Lord Confucius had personally slaughtered in battle. Across Egypt blood poured in torrents, the earth greedily drank the offering- not a drop of blood reached the Nile. The bodies of the dead were left on the pikes, to rot in the sun, as a warning to those who would dare to defy Confucius.
 

Swuul

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Snow and Ice. Snow and Ice...

With my men wading after me through Snow and Ice towards west and home, I had an idea. I hadn't found the way yet, even though I had visited every place where a man could walk or ride.

But I hand't visited lands where I couldn't walk or ride.

I had heard there are people who use Water as their roads and ways. Bukefalos told me there most certainly where such ways, and men and horses could use these ways. And aren't Snow and Ice just Water?

Perhaps the Way could be found on or beyond the Water?

With a powerful word I asked Snow and Ice to allow me build a way over Water! In the east, massive amounts of Snow and Ice moved.

With a smile I rested. If I can not find the Way, I will make a Way.

Five days later an exhausted messenger came to my camp. He told me the news I already knes: A massive Ice Harbour had erected in Amgoun.

---

I had again one of my strange but real dreams; the man from the river-bank again visited my dream. In the usual way, his words did sound wise, yet ever so confusing.

In the morning I woke up, with a powerful tool to send aid to brothers. Perhaps other brothers in addition to Alesso would be interested in finding the Way?

I pondered who the deserving ones were, and the choice was hard.
 

Wyvern

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A reaction to the events in Egypt.

Alesso lay abed his mind in turmoil. The images of blood, of death and murder swept over him in a great tidalwave. It was as though ten thousand voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.[:D]

Freeing his spirit he slipped up onto the astral plain, looking down he saw the pale silver cord extending back to his body as his spirit form sped over the plains. In this form he could scry out the land and attempt to discover where these images of death came from. Westwards he went for from that direction emanated the darkness - there on the horizon he saw flickering flames, dancing shapes of orange and red, demons! Down he swept further and further until he hovered above a great city - Alexandria - and there in silence and sadness he observed the blood spattered courtyard the mutilated bodies, and above them all the image of the young dancing woman. When he looked at her own astral image, an image that every human had, all he saw was a speckled web of blacks and reds.

Was this the evil that had been foretold? It was strange it should revealed itself in such a wanton display of bloodshed, yet from the bloodshed he sensed great strands of power emanating, and also something, someone feeding upon it, drawing it into himself and readying it no doubt to unleash upon an unsuspecting world! With a gasp of horror Alesso quickly withdrew, back across the astral plain, back to his body, and there safely returned he began to draw the astral seals across his lands and people that would protect them from harm and lend his shield some of his own spirit so that no matter how powerful the enemy or powerful the spell, those in his care would be safe.

Having completed this task he returned once more to the question of this evil. No master steeped in the arts of darkness would surely reveal himself in this way, not unless he was sure of his power. The demon master could not then be Confucius for of all his brothers his power was the weakest. Perhaps though in his weakness he had called upon other sources of power, asked them to lend him aid? Could Confucius really be so stupid? Perhaps. Yet if he had done so he was likely only a tool being used by the true enemy, little more than a decoy perhaps. Time would tell but this latest event made the situation in India even more difficult to call. No for now his policy in India must stay firm, these events in Egypt did not alter the facts of Amzad's actions and those must be punished, and if he returned to India perhaps there he could investigate Confucius and his doings more closely.