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Dar al-Islam, Part Twenty-Seven: Go West, Young Man (Also a Second Crusade)

With the Itijid and Byzantine empires both reeling from our recent military victories, it seems safe to call our borders secure. So let’s work at expanding those borders, yeah?
Yeah!

West we go! There’s nothing very interesting between us and Iberia, but once we get across the Straight of Gibraltar, hoo boy!

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Aquitaine is the most powerful nation in Europe at the moment, what with the Holy Roman Empire looking like this:

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Also:

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Well isn’t that grand? It’s always nice to have another body or two around, in case I need him.

So uh, hey. I just noticed something odd…

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Oh hey! Some of those random, unimportant marriages paid off!

Well that’s nice. Now we have a tiny little province in the middle of the Seljuk horde.

Good thing they’re our allies, huh?

You can say that again! Please don’t, by the way.

I would never do something so good thing they’re our allies, huh?

I hate you and everything you stand for.

You know, there were a few seemingly insignificant marriages made in the last, oh, three hundred years. One of them got me Mali!

WHAT!? When?

I dunno. Like, a few years ago?

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How did I not notice this?

*shrug*

I need to pay better attention…

Well, okay. That makes things much easier! Let’s start our westward march, and get ready to fight Aquitaine!

Wait, hold on.

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I fucking love books bro!

That’s… good to hear. How’s that moving west thing going?

It’s fine. Boring, but fine.

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I figured it would be. The Kalmen Caliphate totally dominates Africa, the Middle East and Greece. Nothing can stop us now.

Well, nothing but jealous wives.

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Aren’t dynastic politics fun?

Well that’s word you can use to describe the death of my wife…

I know, that’s why I used it!

Word has reached me that, somewhere in Europe, a man claiming right to the throne of Byzantium is mustering forces. You should prepare to fight off a potentially massive force. He will also have access to the newly-formed Knights Templar.

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How are you going to deal with all these new and sudden threats, Aksir?

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Sure yeah. Let’s go with that.

Well fine! If that’s not good enough for you…

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Please don’t tell me you’re diving in…

Fine. I won’t tell you.

God damn it, Aksil! That is not what I meant!!

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Good job. Important information gathered.

You never know what Hekebepet is going to do, that saucy bitch.

Please don’t speak.

It’s useful stuff!

I can see that.

I sense some bitterness in you. Are you bitter?

YES.

Oh. Sorry.

At least you improved your Intrigue. Which, granted, may have had something to do with this?

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When did you get the Varangian Guard on your side?

Emperor of Byzantium, remember?

Oh yeah. It’s easy to forget that one. Especially in moments of utter crisis.

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Oh they want Jerusalem do they? LET THEM COME!

What are you going to do?

Kill every single Christian who crosses my border!

Good plan. But I might have a better one…

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See that? That’s Rome. The brown stuff is Lotharingia, formerly Italy, formerly the Byzantine Empire. They are Orthodox, so they probably won’t join the Crusade for Jerusalem.

And that green? That’s us. Right on Rome’s borders. Raise a few fleet levies and ship a massive army into Italy and sack Vatican City! That’ll show ’em!

I like the way you think!

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Done and done! That was easy, what’s nex- holy shit Lotharingia actually did declare war on me!

Calm down, calm down! Maybe Lotharingia has changed rulers? I haven’t been paying attention, so maybe they are Catholic after all. But that’s not a problem. We got this, you and me!

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See? It’s all good!

Yeah, fuck your Crusade! One day, I’ll rule in Rome. Everything is awesome!

NEXT TIME: Is it really?

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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in CK II, Snarkangel Plays (The Tags)

 

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Dar al-Islam, Part Fifteen: Throne of the Sultan

*sigh*
Yet another tiresome succession war in Egypt, with Sicily, the Akborids and the Hammids all fighting for the throne. As a Miaphysite Christian you have almost no support from your family and vassals, so we aren’t getting involved in this one. Your penchant for branding the people of your court as heretics and imprisoning them is not helping.
There is no God but Yahweh, and Jesus is his message!

Oh. So now we’re blending Miaphysitism with Islam. THIS CAN ONLY END WELL. Mix that with your growing temper…

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And we are going to have a problem.

It’s cool. I’m calm. I’m. Always. Calm.

Sure you are, Hakam.

I even made us a new dynasty banner! That old crescent-moon-and-stars thing was too Muslim.

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Why a ship? Do you have a fondness for ocean travel? Are you planning on building a sea-faring empire?

Sure, let’s go with that. In the meantime, let’s take some land back from Sicily.

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Oh God damn it child! Make up your mind! Wasn’t Alia the one who converted you to Miaphysitism in the first place?

Yeah, but she converted back to Islam, so I thought I’d go do the same.

Just like that?

Hey, I am twelve years old! I have no idea what all this religion stuff is about!

Good point. In any case, we’ve landed troops on the island of Sicily itself, trying to force the islanders to give up their hold on Makuria. Unfortunately, Sicilian allies have landed at Alexandria.

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Now that I’m Muslim again, I should probably release those not-actually-heretics from my dungeons.

All twelve of them? That would be a good idea, yes. What about the Sicilians?

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I’m not that merciful!

Clearly. So twelve releases, three executions. Busy day!

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I… You…

Are very bad at this whole religion thing. Even for a child.

So hey, remember the Seljuk Turks? Well here they are, carving an empire out of the Aral Sea.

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If they head west, they are going to run headlong into the Samirid Dynasty, which took over from the Abbasids a few decades ago. The Samirid Empire might be strong, but it is facing down against some tenacious Byzantines, and faces an incredibly powerful Holy Roman Empire. A third great power arrayed against the Samirids might tip the balance of power in the Middle East.

In our favour?

Perhaps. Who knows what Egypt might grab if the Samirids collapse? But there’s no guarantee this will happen. And there’s no guarantee the Kalmen Dynasty will gain anything at all.

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Well happy 16th birthday, Hakam! What are you going to do first?

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You know what? This isn’t even exciting any more. So many Kalmen men have had such an ambition, yet failed to act upon it.

Don’t worry. I have a plan. First: Kill the only Tulunid heir of age.

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Second: do the same to the Sultan himself.

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Third: in this moment of Tulunid weakness, discreetly suggest myself as an alternative to the prepubescent Ra’uf. The Sultanate of Egypt would be safer in the hands of the Kalmen Dynasty.

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That is disgustingly clever, Hakam.

I know!

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Now we wait. We wait until Ra’uf is distracted by war.

Like this one?

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Precisely.

They have thirty-two thousand men!

We can raise fourteen thousand on our own. Include our allies and the mercenaries our vast treasury can support, and we will outnumber the Tulunid armies.

Let’s do this shit!

Raise the levies! Raise the fleets!

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Isn’t it beautiful?

It surely is. Praise Allah for giving me this strength.

The Hammids have joined the war on our side, too!

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A combined force of Kalmen and Hammid troops march on Fustat, capital of the Tulunid Dynasty. Two vast armies clash outside the city of Cairo. Camel riders, drunk on wine, ululate their war cries and crash into the enemy lines. Emir Hakam draws Muammar Tulunid, the Sultan’s uncle, into battle and slays him.

Dust and sand clog the eyes. Screaming floods the ears. The battle is long, a slog through fifty thousand mutilated bodies. Hakam pauses only when Koriaur Tulunid, his own cousin and Marshal of the Tulunid Sultanate, lies bloody and broken at his feet, slain by his sword.

NEXT TIME: The Great Egyptian War

P.S. Hakam’s a total badass, with a Martial stat of 21. That’s hardcore.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in CK II, Snarkangel Plays (The Tags)

 

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Dar al-Islam, Part Thirteen: The Dynasty Marches On…

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Another Kalmen Emir passes on.
So. How’s it goin’ Is’mail?
Hold on, BRB!

What?

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Oh. Well sure. You do that then.

I will!

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Is’mail and Zaia, BFF’s?

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Oh dear!

I’m fine!

You sure?

Never felt better!

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Piety is more important than life anyway.

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I’m surprised you managed to do it at all! I mean, after being stuck on a deserted island with little food, then being forced to travel the desert on foot, I’d probably just give up.

Allah gives me strength!

Clearly!

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You’re lucky there wasn’t a succession dispute while you were gone! Those seem to happen with upsetting regularity.

Nah, it’s all good. I got this.

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Ayup. That is unsurprising.

So, uh… Haroun! How are you?

Pretty good!

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That’s pretty awesome, actually! So is your ambition:

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It’s about time we had another Kalmen leader with the right ambition!

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That is decidedly not awesome! In fact, I do not like these implications at all! Hang in there, buddy! You’re young, you’re spry, you’re –

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Dead.

Well shitting dick nipples!

Let’s do this again. Hi Ra’uf!

Hi!

You have an issue to deal with.

That’s unfortunate!

It is!

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Curse those infidels!

Yes, well. You’d best get your Court Imam into the proselytism business.

No, wait. You can’t do that. BECAUSE YOU ARE DEAD.

NEXT TIME: I have another Haroun

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in CK II, Snarkangel Plays (The Tags)

 

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Dar al-Islam, Part Six: The Alexandrian-Abyssinian War

Our forces muster in Quena, ready to crush the pitiful Nubian guard.
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Should be easy! Plus, controlling Nubia will give you a foothold in any wars against the Tulunid Dynasty you shall undertake, and against Abyssinia should you so desire.
I may just desire! The idea of fighting my Sultan leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Well, you just do what you need to do. Like winning the war against Nubia!

That was easy!

I know, right? You have strong armies, you know…

Shut up. I’m releasing Ablarion from my dungeon.

Uh… why? This seems like a bad idea.

Well I’m stripping the Sheikdom of Gizeh from him first.

That doesn’t really answer my question…

You are thoroughly annoying, you know that?

Fine, I’ll stop asking questions.

Good.

Oh, by the way:

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I’d hate to say I told you so,…

No you wouldn’t.

You’re right, I love it. I told you so. To make matters worse, Queen Falasha of Abyssinia wants Nubia, and has fabricated a claim to get it.

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This may be problematic.

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Raise the levies?

Raise the levies! We’ll strike the first blow.

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The early war goes well for the people of Alexandria, marching south along the banks of the Nile, heading for Abyssinia. There is no resistance at the border, and the Alexandrian army makes quick progress.

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Abyssinian forces muster in the south, but they are not numerous enough to mount an assault on Koriaur’s army. At home, the Tulunids are facing a few issues. The war against Byzantium has faltered and ground to a halt, while a peasants revolt brings the economy to its knees – without farmers and craftsmen, the armies cannot be resupplied. The peasants have shown no interest in disrupting Alexandrian lands, so they are safely ignored.

Oh, by the way. Kor?

Yes?

You have a claim you can press on Tobruk. I managed to whip up a convincing forgery.

You did WHAT?

Don’t worry about it! Just press the claim while you still can!

*sigh* Okay

Oh, and Ablarion is still being annoying. He joined the Sheikh of Tobruk in this war.

I knew this was a bad idea!

Hey, it was a great idea! Ablarion will be easily crushed, and you can revoke his last title, free of penalty! And on top of that, you’ll have Tobruk!

I don’t even want Tobruk!

Too bad, you’ve got it! Also, your men have captured Ablarion’s son, Yared. You can use him as leverage against Ablarion in the coming months.

All of your children are now of age, and you have another grandson, Ilyas! Your family is doing quite well for itself Kor!

I’m a badass old man!

Wait, that makes me wonder; just how old are you?

Holy shit, you’re 74!?

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We started this when you were 34 years old! You’ve outlasted five wives, two Caliph’s, and now one Egyptian Sultan! Ahmad is dead, struck down by smallpox in his 70th year.

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His son, Shaybad, has taken the title of Sultan of Egypt and continued the line of the Tulunids. Shaybad is not promising. There is nothing remarkable about him.

Well, there is one thing. He wants to marry your daughter.

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Uh… Sure! Why not?

Because you’re going to go to war with him? That would be a good reason.

I will not be doing such a thing!

Blech, still on about that honour thing, are you? At least Yahya is turning out a bit more ambitious than you!

Have you been talking to my son again?

I don’t think so.

Come on, you can trust me! I’m trustworthy! You even said so yourself once!

I’ll take your angry glare as a good sign.

Anyway, your forces have destroyed Ablarion and the armies of Tobruk. The war is won.

Something fishy is going on in Egypt, though… An assassin has killed Shaybad, then his first son, the true heir. This leaves Shaybad’s second and third sons as the rightful rulers. You missed your chance, buddy. All hell has broken loose.

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WHAT IS GOING ON!?

WHAT IS GOING ON!?

NEXT TIME: WHAT IS GOING ON!?

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in CK II, Snarkangel Plays (The Tags)

 

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Dar al-Islam, Part Five: Politics Is Hard

Yahya is quite the little rascal!
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A little curiosity is a good thing!

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A fine, upstanding kid! Meanwhile, your eldest daughter Andali has come of age. She is an Elusive Shadow; an excellent spy and assassin!

Awesome!

Awesome indeed. Know what’s not awesome?

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Would this be a bad time to get sick?

YES.

Oops!

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Oh boy. Well, civil war in Alexandria, here we come! The unstable political situation has brought out the worst in everyone, it seems. Sacmis, your third wife, has murdered Samira, mother of your heir.

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WHAT?

What shall I do with her, Emir?

Throw her in the dungeons! I’ll think of a suitable punishment when I’m feeling better. Perhaps a public execution is in order!

I think you might have been too slow. Sheeva, the young Andalusian Princess you just married like, two days ago, reached Sacmis first.

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I don’t know if I should kill her or thank her.

Well, you need to make a choice.

I am too tired for this nonsense! Let us put this behind us.

Amidst all this scheming and plotting, Asenath, your second daughter, has come of age.

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She’s also a bit… queer. She pays more attention to the girls of the court than the boys, and many whisper rumours in her presence. She has refused any and all suitors.

I’ll keep an eye on her. How goes the war?

The war goes well! Buhairya and Gizeh have both declared support for Prince Shaybad – whom you tried to kill, remember?

I do!

Strangely, the Prince himself has not joined in this war. Shaybad remains neutral in this conflict. It is Sheikh Ablarion who wants to see the prince rule in Alexandria.

Politics is confusing.

Welcome to Crusader Kings II! Now, as for the actual war…

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We’ve actually got quite a lot of money. And money means mercenaries to bolster our army. With this vast advantage, we are easily crushing Ablarion’s forces and besieging his castles. It won’t take long to crush him and his army. A short campaign, and Ablarion surrenders.

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Easy-peasy!

Yes it was, Kor. Yes it was…

I’m not sure I like that tone of voice.

Why? I’m not insinuating anything! (You could totally take on the Tulunids and rule in Egypt!)

I’m sorry?

Nothing! Just go about the work of ruling your Emirate. I’m going to go talk to Yahya, all right?

You stay away from my son! Wait, you can do that?

Yup!

You stay away from my son!

Oh hey, look over there!

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Neat!

Very neat! You should arrange a marriage for her. I’m sure that will occupy your time.

Good idea, voice! I’ll get right on that.

Excellent. Oh Yahya…

Get away from him!

You have a granddaughter!

Ooo!

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And they named her after Samira! How sweet!

You are easily distracted, aren’t you?

Am I? I hadn’t noticed

You are. Just trust me on this.

Okay! A random voice in my head seems totally trustworthy!

A message for you, sir:

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Do you know what this means?

War!

With the Byzantine Empire!

Oh dear!

That undersells it, I think. Sultan Ahmad is insane! There is no way he could win a war against the Byzantines! If ever there was a time to strike, it would be now, while Ahmads armies invade Sicily.

That would be awful! Underhanded! Dishonourable and vile!

It would also be a good idea.

I’ll think about it.

That means no, doesn’t it?

… I’ll think about it.

Well think harder! Ahmad is being crushed by Byzantine armies!

I actually have a better plan.

Oh this should be good…

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Nubia is weak, but holds rich lands. Taking those lands for myself would gain me prestige and access to southern troops. The Kalmen Dynasty would be strengthened!

Surrounding the Tulunids! I like it! That’s… dastardly! Nice to see you’ve got your head in the game after all!

NEXT TIME: The Invasion of Nubia!

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in CK II, Snarkangel Plays (The Tags)

 

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Dar al-Islam, Part Four: The Family Tree

Your family is getting rather large, Koriaur. Let’s take a moment to review it, shall we?
Let’s do this!

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Let us begin with your children. The eldest is Andali bint Koriaur, daughter of Samira.

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She is betrothed to Prince al-Mu’tamid of the Abbasid dynasty. You can see her three traits; Quick-witted, Charitable, and Cynical; and her Diplomacy skill of 9 and Intrigue of 10, both above-average for a girl of her age.

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Asenath, your little swordswoman. Born to the late Huma, she has only one trait: Brave. With a proper education, she could easily become a martial genius, or a pwerful and unyeilding member of your court. She is also not betrothed to anyone.

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Zahra is Ambitious, but unfortunately a bit Slow in the head. She is betrothed to the young Sheikh of Fars, a small and independent Sheikhdom in Persia.

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And your first son, your heir; Sheikh Yahya bin Koriaur Kalmen, Sheikh of Quattara. That was a good idea, giving your son a small piece of land to rule – he has the opportunity to learn under the guidance of Milad of Siwa, a competent man without undue ambition. Yahya has only one trait: Quick. He is intelligent and witty, taking to his education like a fish to water.

The remaining children have not yet even reached their first year. They have no traits and no skills, so we’ll be skipping over those.

Well, there is one trait of note. Your youngest daughter, Amunet, has some kind of lung disease that will likely leave her crippled her entire life.

:(

Sadface indeed, Kor. Don’t let that get in the way of your ambitions, though! You have yet to become Sultan of Egypt. This is a depressing lack of awesome.

I should fix that, shouldn’t I?

Yes you should! First, you need to weaken the Tulunid dynasty. Ahmad has only one son. Kill him, and the lands of Egypt will fall into the hands of another family on Ahmad’s death.

Sneaky! I like it!

Then let’s do it! Already you have on backer.

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But you are going to need more! Start spreading coin around. Make some friends, make some promises! Sheikh Latif of Manupura seems interested.

He seems like a shady character.

Shady characters are exactly what you need right now, Kor.

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While we wait for this plot to stew and gain traction in the courts of Egypt, your daughter Asenath has started to grow.

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She is angry, brave, and good with a sword. She would have made a great soldier, but alas she was born a woman.

Sadly, Sultan Ahmad has heard the whisperings and dealings being made in his halls, and he demands the immediate end of our plot.

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Well that’s the end of it then!

Hold on there, buddy! I don’t think so. We can push this!

Nope.

Damn it, man! Don’t back out now!

It will mean war! A war I cannot win.

Dude, we got this, you and me!

You are nothing but a voice in my head. What are you going to do?

I’ll… Frown. Really hard.

You do that. I’m not pushing this.

Fine. You have a few heresies to deal with, by the way. Your Court Imam is proselytizing the Yakhri faith.

Jail him. I’ll not have blasphemies spoken in my presence!

Yes, well, his replacement is also stressing the Yakhri teachings over mainline Sunni Islam.

Jail him too!

There’s more…

Don’t tell me HIS replacement is Yakhri as well?

There is no replacement. There is no one else to take the place of Court Imam.

So the post is empty?

Correct. I have sent out invitations to holy men across Egypt, and even included a little coin to entice a mastermind theologian to take up the post. Matta Mattid has taken up the call.

Very well.

Yahya has been hard at work ruling in Quattara, and aims for greater things in life.

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Good lad!

Maybe he’ll become Sultan of Egypt.

Are you still bitter about that?

NO.

NEXT TIME: Murder, Intrigue and Ambition!

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in CK II, Snarkangel Plays (The Tags)

 

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Islam Is Not A Race

I came across this in my facebook feed this morning. There are not enough faces, nor palms to place against them, for this kind of poor thinking.

Opinion- -try replacing 'Muslim' with 'Black' in... - Al Jazeera English

What kind of nonsense is this? How can people still be getting this so wrong, especially news journalists? Don’t they have a duty to maintain at least a modicum of integrity?

Islam. Is. Not. A. Race. To claim it is, is insulting to the millions of Punjab and Pashtun people of Pakistan – an incredibly Islamic state. Very few are Arabic. Nor are they Berber.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation on Earth.

Is this question trying to say that Punjabs, Pashtuns, Arabs, Egyptians Berbers, Turks and Javanese are all the same race? This is lunacy akin to saying Canada and Mongolia are the same country.

The article is here, and the author doesn’t seem to have read Harris’ work. Murtaza Hussain also seems to miss one rather important distinction when he says “It’s worth remembering why making sweeping statements about “the Jews” and “the Blacks” became considered unconscionable behaviour in the first place. Both groups were once spoken of by racists and anti-Semites as though they were a homogenous mass of people, undifferentiated in any meaningful way and all sharing the same (largely negative) characteristics.”

The distinction missed is this: racism targets people based on who their parents were. Criticism of religion is not criticizing people for things they have no control over in this way. Harris and Dawkins are criticizing ideas. Ideas are not people, though they are held by people. Ideas really do affect the way people act, unlike their skin colour.

Religion does not come down to the melanin receptor distribution in your skin, Mr. Hussain. Thanks for trying though.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Politics, Religion

 

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