Friday, April 16, 1651, afternoon
With overcast skies and cool temperatures, a light air and a prevailing wind.
The party wakes at Yazigi's hut on the 15th, the wind descending to a light breeze, and leave Hichem behind to deal with the wagon and to procure a mule. The party strikes out, descending down a steep valley between outcroppings of the Anti-Taurus mountains on the left or right, rising eight or nine thousand feet. At Darende, reached in late morning Thursday, the land flattens to a great wide plateau filled once again with fruits, plantations and farmers sowing cereal crops. From there to Melitene there's a great many people, with the party encountering traders, caravans, scholars, pilgrims, soldiers, patrols and carters. Everyone is friendly, offering knowledge and directions, pointing out the mountain range rising majestically and snow-covered to the south and east as the Taurus, those left behind as, I said, the Anti-Taurus.
The party is held up outside of Akcadag in the late afternoon, as Janisaries there are searching for a party of criminals. The party is searched and sent on its way, but by then the sun has set and Melitene is still 20 miles away. You consider seeking lodgings in Akcadag, but one of the pilgrims you have met along your way offers you a free meal and rest in a garden they know south of the town, only a mile out of your way. You follow (just to keep this campaign on its way) and find a lush, green garden with grass like carpet, with fruits, almonds and chestnuts. The pilgrims tell tales of the Crusaders when they marched through these lands, of the capture of Edessa by Baldwin of Flanders, and of the days when the Sultanate of Rum, created by Turkish invaders from the east, controlled all this country.
So it is at the start of the afternoon, after a friendly but difficult to complete goodbye, that the party gets back on the road again and makes their way, at last, to Melitene. Virtually every bit of ground within site of this city is cultivated, there is no wild country at all that you see, and the city is large, a great mass of enclosed and indestinguishable buildings set upon a single shield-like hill, well known as The Fortress of Cappadocia. All around to the south are hills in a half circle beyond the city's plain, with very high mountains (still the Taurus) to the southeast, and a spreading plain (the Dove river basin) spreading out and down to the north. Distandly, fifty miles away, the party can make out the Anti-Taurus to the north.
Ahmet knows the city, but I'll explain that the streets are like a maze, the buildings having grown together completely. Platforms, passageways and bridges cross between the buildings high over the streets, even the widest boulevards, so that all the ways through the town seem like tunnels more than streets. The people are dressed extravagantly, no one seems to be poor, and EVERYONE seems anxious to sell something. Melitene is a market town, and I will post prices if needed, but to buy seems less a process of going to a shop to see what's available, and more of walking down the street and being continuously harrassed.
There are Chinese here, Indians, Africans, Russians, Italians, Greeks, and quite a few half-orcs sorted through the population, but all the people actually selling seem to be Turks. The city is a crossroads between two silk roads out of the east, the north and south roads, and business retail seems to the desired purpose to everyone's existence.