Previously on An Age of Miracles: Lots of Things The old thread was locked because of its length so here is the continuation thread. Starting off with responses to the last batch of posts. HanEmpire: It is the Negus; I’m using his title as shorthand. Iskandar is a top-tier general, probably the best the Ottomans produce ITTL. Tabriz is well fortified but Iskandar has a knack for coming out of nowhere and launching an assault on a weak spot. He surprised Tabriz, meaning low supplies, and the Georgians are starting to fear him. / Nikolaios Polos’s offensive plan against the Ottomans envisioned setting up a Mesopotamian client, although the idea was for a Shiite Arab state (from the southern, Basra era). They would be a minority estranged both from the majority of the subjects and the rump Ottomans and thus motivated to look to the Romans for support. However the Great Uprising pointed out some flaws in that plan. / EmperorSimeon: Thank you. / Arrix85: The Nile Germans kept their original territories at the tip of the Delta, with a portion of volunteers transferred up to Cairo. They’ve just spent a lot of their blood defending their homes; they are not about to give them up to Roman/Coptic bureaucrats. South of Cairo is an empty wasteland. All the Copts were killed or fled north and everyone else is moving south to the Idwait Malikate. / The Idwaits have the naval base although the Romans took everything of value. The Idwaits are barred from building any ships for twenty years (which should do a number on any knowledge base) and even after that any Idwait navy getting beyond the token stage has a very high risk of getting a Copenhagen. / Soverihn: It is a big territory with lots of potential resources. Although as Russian history shows, that only is not enough to make one into a great power. / Stark: Ethiopia’s had some hard times. It has lost a huge chunk of territory (Darfur, Makuria) but those were lands that were hard to administer and yielded little in gains. From Gonder’s perspective they could easily be classified as dead weight, although their loss is still humiliating. / AussieHawker: As long as the Romans/Ethiopians can maintain control of the Red Sea the Idwaits can’t do much to threaten trade other than invading Ethiopia or Egypt with a land army. / JohnSmith: Logistics. Even if the full forces of Ethiopia or the Empire, it would be a massive pain to launch an expedition into the heart of Sudan. The main item that would make the Idwait Malikate valuable in the fairly near term is cotton. But then the Romans could just buy it, turn it into textiles, and then sell them back to the Idwaits. They’re already shipping it east so all that would be needed is setting up a branch office/warehouse. / DonaldReaver: Agreed. Iskandar is, from Constantinople’s point of view, a problem a hundred times bigger than Hassan/the Idwaits. Ideally the treaty solves all the problems but in the likely event there are issues the Idwaits are easily contained. / Parmenion1: Fighting Iskandar with one hand behind your back is a good way to get beat up. After Cairo and the canal were retaken the Idwait war lost all purpose for the Romans. Even without the Ottoman war the Romans wouldn’t have been interested in re-conquest although they might have imposed a tighter political relationship instead of just making the Idwaits a tributary. / GdwnsnHo: I like surprises. Springing them on other people, that is. / Duke of Nova Scotia: I admit the thought of making a Despotate of Upper and one of Lower Mesopotamia never occurred to me but that is a really good idea. Your views of Hassan are spot-on. He won his position by personal charisma and bravery on the battlefield but he has already proven to not be so good at political intrigue. Not to mention the gigantic social disruptions caused by the massive influx of Egyptian Muslims. That is going to be ugly. / GamingWeasel: Thank you. / Sh3baproject: I have plans for the Marinids that should be coming up fairly soon… / The Kurds: I’m going to hold off on answering the questions about the Kurds as I think what is written for one of the upcoming updates should cover it. Mount Yosifon, Kephalate of An-Nabek, May 16, 1599: It was a highly inappropriate time to need to pass gas. In fact Leo Neokastrites was hard pressed to think of any more inappropriate time. To the northeast, a huge plume of dust was rising from the Syrian plain, the three droungoi of cavalry in full flight, hotly pursued by at least twelve times their number of Muslim horse. The sun to the west was not far above the horizon, dazzling the eyes of both pursued and pursuer alike. Leo glanced around at the other droungoi of the 4th Chaldean, hunched down on the reverse slope of the scrubby hill that had pretensions of being a mountain. They were behind the lower northern slope. Six hundred and fifty strong, not counting the two hundred and seventy down in the valley, they were covered in dirt, their eyes tired. Two days of night marching will do that. The bulk of the tagmata were needed north near Aleppo where ghazi forces whose combined strength was close to ten times larger than this band were pillaging the Muslim villages on the Roman side of the border and slaughtering everyone they could find. Thus it was Leo’s lone tourma that was available to curb this force with its southerly inclinations. It had been hard to keep ahead of it. Leo looked again through his dalnovzor, the horsemen increasing in size by an order of 10. The Muslims were deploying a prong of horsemen to the north, forcing the Romans to maneuver south, their advance further west blocked by the mountain. With the Romans veering southwest it was the easiest direction in which the Romans could be cut off. It was clear they were tiring although the turkopouloi still kept a steady fire of Parthian shots back at their foes. Leo looked down at Kostandin Thopia, standing about twenty five feet below the crest. He was a tall Albanian with a disturbing amount of nose hair, but who was also his simamandator, ‘signal messenger’, the dekarchos in charge of signaling his orders. “Number 6,” Leo said. Kostandin nodded, looking at his assistant and then picking up a twelve foot long pole that had a solid crimson banner, three feet square. His assistant picked up an identical pole but one with a bright orange flag instead. Holding his flag at a 30 degree angle while his assistant held the other at a 60 degree, Kostandin raised his as his assistant lowered his own, until ten seconds later the flags had reversed position. The flags were then set on the ground, picked up again, and the process repeated. That was not part of the signal, but a repetition of it to ensure that it was received. It meant “all guns deploy forward”. The four cannons, which had all been loaded ten minutes earlier, had their wheels wrapped in cloth to dampen the sound. The rocket forks did not need such precautions. Looking like two-tined forks four and a half feet tall with a spiked base, there was a plate in between the tines, the idea being the spike was placed into the ground and the plate struck with a hammer to sink it. However the plate was indented in the middle; if looked from the side it would look like a V. There were two holes also punched in the plate, one on each side next to the V. Metal rods with a hook on the end would be placed in the holes, and the other spiked end placed in the ground. These were to guide the rocket, the indentation to accommodate the delta-shaped guiding fins. They were a pain to lug around, but could be set up in less than a minute, with a couple of different length guiding rods to help accommodate different ranges and the lay of the ground. The 4th Chaldean had twelve, each fork equipped with three rockets. Leo waited thirty seconds as they moved forward toward the crest, then held up his palm towards Kostandin. Up snapped a banner, diagonal black and red. ‘Hold’. The Romans were now riding south-south-west, their right flank facing Leo. Leo pointed his right fist at Kostandin, then lifted his wrist. The simamandator waggled the standard to the right once, and then left once. ‘Proceed with previous order’. The cannons slowly rolled to the top of the crest, two horses pulling and six men pushing, but the Muslims, now riding right in front of them, were too fixated on their quarry. The battery commander looked over each gun quickly, looked at Leo and stuck his left arm straight out, palm facing the tourmarch, and raised his forearm until it was parallel with the rest of his body. ‘All guns ready’. Leo smiled and then bellowed at the top of his lungs. “SAINT DEMETRIOS AND NO QUARTER!” All four guns roared simultaneously, hurling their cannonballs down below. Leo could see them skipping along the ground, plowing into the ranks of horses at the height of their waists. The rocketeers ran forward, cresting the hill and slamming their forks’ spikes into the ground fifteen feet down on the reverse slope. A hammer strike on the plate, the rods placed, a rocket set, a fuse lit, and twelve rockets added their shriek, nicely covering Leo’s own release. The mauroi were at the crest now, hurling their bullets into the Muslims, now roiling in confusion as their ‘quarry’ wheeled around and counter-charged…and four hundred Owais riders slammed into their rear. * * *Leo walked through the carnage, disemboweled horses lying atop men with their legs and faces blown off. Some of them were still alive, bleeding out through their wounds. Flies were gathering in great clouds to feed and phalanxes of vultures were gathering. The sun had dipped behind Yosifon, the western horizon a sheet of blood. It was doubtful any of the enemy wounded would survive the night. It would probably be a mercy to kill them now. Those vultures do not look inclined to wait until they’re dead. Therefore they would not be killed, save for those with golden teeth. Several of the Owais were picking their way through in search of such boons. Ottoman regulars might have been treated with some respect, but bashi-bazouk vermin get none, for they deserve none. About half the enemy force escaped the jaws of his trap because of their smallness, which was disappointing, but even the number destroyed outnumbered his entire command by three to two. It’s a start. He had lost sixteen men.