Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Melitene At Last

Friday, April 16, 1651, afternoon
With overcast skies and cool temperatures, a light air and a prevailing wind.
First quarter

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.

22 comments:

Andrej said...

Andrej takes in the city with appreciation, feeling perhaps closer to home here than he was in Europe. If there are things recognizable to him he will take time to point them out to Lukas and Max, assuming that Ahmet will lead us to where we need to go.

I would like a market list sometime before leaving the city.

Lukas said...

Does Lukas want to go shopping in a market town this big? Do fish swim?

However, how is our schedule are we in much of a hurry? If not, I would like to wander around looking for books and exotic goods I've never seen before.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: the Books thing is really becoming an issue. Something I'm going to have to do is produce some kind of ultimate list and incorporate that into the table).

Ahmet said...

During the long journey, Ahmet finally fills in his comrades on his history, and who this fellow Ramazan is.

"When I was a boy, foolish in the ways of the world," he says, "I fell in love with a beautiful girl named Sevim, the daughter of the village cleric -- Imam Ramazan. She said she loved me, too, and whenever we could we would sneak off to the caves to, to..." he glances away from Andrej, "to be alone.

"I was a penniless orphan, just another wretch consigned to the mines, and she... she was beautiful, and smart, and the eldest daughter of a powerful and respected man. We knew we could never marry, and that our romance had to remain a secret.

"But we were seen together, and her father told of our secret meetings. I ran away rather than face his wrath. But I was in love. And brazen. And..." he pauses for a moment, "ignorant of the ways of women.

He sighs heavily. "That night, fool that I was, I snuck back into the village and asked Sevim to run away with me and become my first wife."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet continues his long story.

"She laughed at me! She said I was 'for practice'. That I was a slow-witted brute who stank of donkeys. That one such as her could never marry one such as me.

"I begged her to reconsider. I swore to Allah that one day I would return and make her rich beyond her wildest dreams. And I told her I would keep sneaking back into the village until she changed her mind.

"At this, Sevim agreed. She said she would gather her belongings and meet me in the morning at our secret place. As soon as the sun was up I giddily went there, my heart soaring. And discovered instead of my love a posse of villagers. She had betrayed me! I was captured and dragged back to Ramazan, who pronounced me guilty of blasphemy -- that I had sworn a false oath to Allah.

"I was dragged to this city and imprisoned here. For 10 years. During that time I did... unspeakable things, in order to survive." He glowers sourly.

"When I was finally released, I journeyed west, thinking I would never return to this place... or think on things things ever again. But then my cousin found me, and..." his voice trails off.

"Imam Ramazan has been exposed as a thief and a fraud, but he is still a powerful, dangerous man. Friends, when you agreed to accompany me home, it was to be for an inheritance. I ask you now for your help in capturing him, but if you wish to remain here, I will not hold it against you. I must do this, but you do not."

Alexis Smolensk said...

The Melitene market can be found Here.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The relevant post about the inheritance is Here. The inheritance will be obtained by seeking the office of the Bey's Tax Collector.

Lukas said...

"Ahmet, I've already told you my stance on the issue. I will help you with this."

(OOC: Thank you Alexis, sorry about the books... Sort of.)

Andrej said...

Andrej listens to his friend's tale and after Lukas's assurances adds his own. "Ahmet, we are as brothers in my view. Should you have need to walk into hell itself I would follow. Afterall, with Aksion Spacimo in my hand I don't imagine I'd feel much of the heat." Andrej winks and tosses a fig to his monkey Farooq. "Farooq, however, is a fickle and faithless friend. He will need coaxing. And wine. Please tell me they have wine here."

Lukas said...

"Come, perhaps we can find out something about this man while we check for some books..."

Lukas begins the attempt to get bombarded by something he actually wants. In other words, forges his way through the streets and tries not to get sold anything he cant take with him on only a horse.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet leads the way as best he can, acting as intermediary, haggler, or enforcer as required. Although there's nothing in particular he wants, he occasionally buys some local delicacy he then insists the others try as well.

During the lulls, he asks the others: "How should we go about finding this man?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

Has anyone had trouble with the market download?

Lukas said...

I got it.

Andrej said...

(OOC: Haven't had time to look yet, Alexis, sorry. I didn't think you'd get it to us so quickly! I'm touch and go today but should be able to play more/ check in after 2 PM ET. By the way, really enjoying the main blog lately and looking forward to the book

So at this point does Ahmet have any clues as to where to start, Alexis, or are we all starting on equal footing from scratch as far as finding the cleric goes?

Maximillian Boii said...

There's a 4-day waiting period, but perhaps we should lay low until we can get an augury to find out something like "Does Ramazan, Father of Sevim, live in the vicinity of Melitene."

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ahmet needs to approach the Bey's Tax Collector.

Maximillian Boii said...

Apparently my comment got lost. I suggested we could perform an augury to determine if Ramazan still lives in the area. It requires a 4 day waiting period, but could tell us whether we need to watch our backs or not.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet seeks out the office of the Bey's Tax Collector.

Andrej said...

Andrej follows Ahmet.

Maximillian Boii said...

I put my name on the list for an augury, and then meet them at the tax collector's office.

Lukas said...

I follow Max to ensure he doesn't get into trouble, then catch up as well.

We have to use the buddy system you know.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up.