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Thread: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Mar 16]

  1. #121

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)

    Continued from Chapter 3 - Part V




    Chapter 4
    New Friends, New Enemies


    --------------------------------------------------
    (Part I)


    They walked in silence, their shoulders hanging low and the hafts of their bloodied spears dragging in the dirt. To either side the valley walls rose sharply, jagged and black to match their broken hearts, and as they trudged forward a thin breeze began to nip ar their heels. In any other instance they would have found it playful, smiling as it flitted its way among the rocks and between their legs, but such levity would not hold to their weighted souls. And so they shifted uneasily, taking for an irritant what should have been a boon, and in the melodies of the wind they heard only elegies.

    As they rounded the final bend of Wadi al-Jizl Mun'at raised his eyes from the rose hued sands below, his gaze falling on a wide vale of scattered green. To the east rose Uhud, to the west Salaa*, lesser brothers to Jabal Jinn, but ahead lay a city of white and red, its glory well marked by the domes and turrets adorning each mighty district. Mun'at did not smile, could not after such a night, but the creases and lines around his eyes softened, showing a face at peace with its master. Yathrib was safe.


    A quarter day's march northeast of Mar'ib, beyond the bands of green and blue, of field and flood, lay a hell of man's making. Nestled against the now scarce waters of Wadi Adhana huddled a small city of tents, outbuildings, sheds, and makeshift workshops, an incessant din of hammering rising from them day and night. Too many of the nobles on their high walls refused to see it, but war was coming, and the Saba' would be ready. Far'am Rafshan, half-Qatabani exile and twice renounced traitor would see to that.

    He walked the muddy lanes with head held high, surveying the craftsmen and smiths about their business, and though the work progressed with ease his brow remained clouded. The enemies to their north, east, and south were well known, but there were others within their own ranks, devils with smiling eyes who would caress with one hand while sharpening their blades with the other. That night on the palace walls he had seen them, individuals who mistook ambition for courage, ruthlessness for strength. By their designs his land would bleed, he knew that, and Far'am Rafshan would become twice exiled, thrice renounced. He would not let that happen.


    Carried on the wind, a low rattle reached their ears, the sound of a distant scree slope settling, and as if in answer a rending shriek tore from the heavens. The highest eagles calling to their prey, no doubt. Karab smiled and nodded to his brother Hasan, foremost sons of the Athtar Yazi'.

    They had been lying in wait for the better part of two days now but the great raptors' cries assured them their patience had not been in vain. Year by year the traders and raiders out of Ma'in crowded ever closer to the lands of Saba', coveting worlds they could never hope to keep, clinging to their foolish delusions of empire, and in that forthright arrogance they had sent a motley band of warriors to test Sarat's strength. Down below the mighty peaks, below the sheer walls and cavernous drops, beyond the eagles and great horned beasts of the upper domains there lay a dizzying maze of knife-edged gullies and twisting ravines. And there, infinitesimally small on the far-reaching horizon, traced a thin column of doomed men hopelessly trying to navigate the labyrinthine courses that led to the higher passes.

    With a crooked fiendish grin Karab quietly began to pick his way down the mountainside, the company of stout Houthi tribesmen falling in silently behind.



    Beneath sadd al-'Arim, the Great Dam, stretched an impossibly bright and chaotic plain. It was a place unlike anything in the deserts beyond the mighty Sarat, and indeed little similar to the other regions of Saba'. By dint of careful management the arid lands had been transformed into a patchwork paradise of water-heavy fields and scattered farms, the whole body of it divided and joined together by a sprawling network of narrow canals. The Hadramawt to the east was a blasted sandbox, Hijaz seldom better, but here lay a cradle of life and purposeful motion.

    Halik Il'Yakif walked the crest of a narrow berm separating a field of khat* from the sorghum plantations that dominated the landscape. His feet were caked in a black crust of clay and earth, the hem of his robe nearing a state beyond repair, but he paid these details little note, his gaze instead fixed on a rise some few hundred paces distant. As he neared it the indistinct mound resolved itself, showing a small hill of broken stone and baked brickwork, over which had been casually spread a dusting of finer soil and sand. Along one edge steps had been cut, regular angles pressed into the rock or shaped from wood and reeds, leading to the poor mountain's summit.

    Halik climbed the crude stair with ease, his legs sliding over the irregular intervals with confident familiarity. In an instant he had gained them all and his feet turned toward the south, to a low bench set beneath the sprawling and spiny foliage of an aging acacia. He sat and looked out with furrowed brow, but his dark eyes saw nothing. For six generations his clan had farmed these lands, never busying themselves with the petty games and avarice of the other noble houses, but he had broken that long tradition. He had allied himself with a lion, a hunter of men, and his heart could not fathom what the result of such iconoclasm would be.

    Halik Il'Yakif lowered his head to his hands, cupping his face and blotting out the light. The queen was a traitor, he was certain of that, but a traitor to whom? Alliances and friendships on the high plateau shifted as often as the sands of al-Rub' al Khali*, and he could no longer tell which way the winds were blowing. To his dismay he was no longer certain even of which way he faced, whether the coming storms would push him forward or strike him down.

    He brooded and worried for what felt an age of the world, but finally he was pulled back to the present by the sound of many wings taking flight. Lifting his eyes Halik saw a great flock of cranes and lesser fowl ascending into the sky, their disturbance centered on a distant figure walking toward him, following the same narrow road along the berm's crest. With each step the shape became more clear, showing the gentle lines and alluring curves of a woman, a woman alone but by her bearing not one with which to be idly trifled. Curiosity rising, Halik stood and moved toward the upper base of the stair, prepared to meet the unasked-for guest, when his heart suddenly shuddered within him. There, standing beneath, shining in the noonday sun, towered the Queen of the Saba'. There stood Mubsamat, her lips smiling like a maiden's, but her eyes chips of flint.

    *Glossary

    *Uhud and Salaa are two of the many mountains which surround Yathrib (Medina).
    *Khat (also spelled qat) is a plant native to the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. The leaves of the plant can be chewed, providing a stimulant effect as well as mild euphoria.
    *Al-Rub' al Khali, the largest contiguous sand desert in the world, covers much of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula, stretching from the Sarat and Hijaz mountains in the west to the Al Hajar mountains along the eastern coast of Oman.




    Continue to Chapter 4 - Part II
    Last edited by Kilo11; February 04, 2019 at 03:58 PM. Reason: Added links
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  2. #122
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 25]

    Short but sweet in setting the stage, as all openings should be. But I must say, I was surprised to find such a glaring amount of typos. I'll put it down to holiday cheer, but here's a short list of the most egregious ones:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Just kidding.


    I think you might be playing with symbolism a bit with the imagery, i.e., the eagles and what they represent. (Or maybe I'm reading too much into that.) I think I'm going to echo Cookiegod in saying that the Mubsamet plot line might be even more interesting than Mun'at's. I actually think I need to do a re-read as I find myself struggling to remember which character is which in some cases. I hate commenting when I don't really have much to say other than I liked what I read, but there it is. Glad to see you back in the game, Special K.


  3. #123
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 25]

    Great update! I especially enjoyed the introduction to Far'am Rafshan and the idea of being "twice exiled, thrice renounced". It sounds like Halik will need to work out quickly which way the wind is blowing, if he wants to survive (and if it's not already too late).

  4. #124

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 25]

    Hello!

    I am here to say I have not forgotten this beautiful piece of work, and I will comment at the appropriate time (that is, when I'm caught up). Just wanted to let you know if you keep writing, I'll be here


    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Short but sweet in setting the stage, as all openings should be. But I must say, I was surprised to find such a glaring amount of typos. I'll put it down to holiday cheer, but here's a short list of the most egregious ones:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Just kidding.
    You really had me there, I was so certain I didn't see any!

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Glad to see you back in the game, Special K.
    I do believe special K is a sort of slimming cereal...hmm...

    Swaeft's Scribblings (Library)| Swaeft's Snaps (Gallery)| My Blog (The Lensation)

  5. #125

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 25]

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Short but sweet in setting the stage, as all openings should be.

    I think you might be playing with symbolism a bit with the imagery, i.e., the eagles and what they represent. (Or maybe I'm reading too much into that.) I think I'm going to echo Cookiegod in saying that the Mubsamet plot line might be even more interesting than Mun'at's. I actually think I need to do a re-read as I find myself struggling to remember which character is which in some cases. I hate commenting when I don't really have much to say other than I liked what I read, but there it is. Glad to see you back in the game, Special K.
    Thanks Skotos, and I will try to get to your Chapter 3 this week. I had to finish up an abstract over the weekend, but that's now all but finalized and ready to be shipped out, so I can take some time tomorrow and the next day.

    You are right that there is some symbolism here, and I'm glad it worked out and you could see it. "The highest eagles" will be a bit of a theme that runs along the edge of the Sarat mountains and the upper Saba' plateau, and might even have a brief retelling of some myth as well (provided I can find some good material on ancient mythology from Arabia Felix; I am reading bits and pieces of Arabia and the Arabs by Robert Hoyland, and so far it is proving quite informative and interesting.

    Regarding the comparison between Mun'at's and Mubsamat's plotlines, I am also glad that hers is seeming a bit more interesting. That area is far more complicated because they don't have to work as much to survive (easy living breeds complexity; just think about how a backwoodsman thinks about life compared to an inner city banker), and so there will be more intrigue and little power plays, but it is likely that Mun'at's situation will also become less straightforward as more victories (and spoils) begin to accrue under his belt. At any rate, it's good to hear that something is catching your eye Oh, and do tell me if the names are too confusing. I wanted to add in some more characters, but I understand it might have been too many at once, and it may be good to pace their introductions more. If on re-reading it still seems somewhat confusing, please do tell!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Great update! I especially enjoyed the introduction to Far'am Rafshan and the idea of being "twice exiled, thrice renounced". It sounds like Halik will need to work out quickly which way the wind is blowing, if he wants to survive (and if it's not already too late).
    I also liked that detail! His is a desperate character, and I wanted to make that painfully clear at the outset. And as of now, I am not sure what will happen with Halik. I thought Mubsamat would kill him, but I am not sure, as he also seems like he could be of use. I have to figure out how she is going to calculate the costs and benefits of her dealings with him, especially the value of saving face (by killing him for his transgression) versus having an ally her enemies think is still on their side. Their "conversation" (or perhaps interrogation is a better word) should be in the next installment, which is still in the works.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    Hello!

    I am here to say I have not forgotten this beautiful piece of work, and I will comment at the appropriate time (that is, when I'm caught up). Just wanted to let you know if you keep writing, I'll be here

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Short but sweet in setting the stage, as all openings should be. But I must say, I was surprised to find such a glaring amount of typos. I'll put it down to holiday cheer, but here's a short list of the most egregious ones:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Just kidding.

    You really had me there, I was so certain I didn't see any!
    He got me too! I was totally certain it was clean, and then had this moment of panic that I had overlooked a thousand ridiculous errors. But it's okay, because while my characters are moving forward with anything being possible in their futures, we know all of Skotos' fellas will die before he is done

    Just kidding, Skotos; you know I love your Etruscans!

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    I do believe special K is a sort of slimming cereal...hmm...
    My first thought on reading "Special K" was definitely not anything as legal as mere cereal. I was thinking something that maybe has to be prepared in a spoon...
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  6. #126
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 25]

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Thanks Skotos, and I will try to get to your Chapter 3 this week. I had to finish up an abstract over the weekend, but that's now all but finalized and ready to be shipped out, so I can take some time tomorrow and the next day.

    <snip>

    If on re-reading it still seems somewhat confusing, please do tell!
    Cool. If you have the time, that would be awesome. I do appreciate it. And don't worry about my being a bit fuzzy trying to remember all the details of the story. It's like binge-watching a show. You go through it so fast that when the next season rolls around, you're thinking “Wait, what's that guy's name again? What are they doing there?” I thought I was taking my time, but clearly I was binge-reading Written in Sand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    You really had me there, I was so certain I didn't see any!
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    He got me too! I was totally certain it was clean, and then had this moment of panic that I had overlooked a thousand ridiculous errors. But it's okay, because while my characters are moving forward with anything being possible in their futures, we know all of Skotos' fellas will die before he is done*
    Bah! Life is over-rated. They may die, but their glory will live on. The brief flame burns brightly! And Swaeft, that was a bit of an in-joke because Kilo is the one to always notice the smallest typo in my writing. (Which I might grumble about but which I'm really grateful for.) I wonder what Kilo would do if one day he actually had a typo himself. The shock might end him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    I do believe special K is a sort of slimming cereal...hmm...
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    My first thought on reading "Special K" was definitely not anything as legal as mere cereal. I was thinking something that maybe has to be prepared in a spoon...
    Why not both? I bet if you laced your breakfast cereal with it, it definitely would be slimming...

    ::leaves before he gets arrested::
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; January 08, 2019 at 12:25 PM.


  7. #127

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 25]

    Hello Special K

    I promised to give you my comments on your AAR, and here they are. As someone once told me, I hope I was harsh on you.

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  8. #128

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 25]

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    And don't worry about my being a bit fuzzy trying to remember all the details of the story. It's like binge-watching a show. You go through it so fast that when the next season rolls around, you're thinking “Wait, what's that guy's name again? What are they doing there?” I thought I was taking my time, but clearly I was binge-reading Written in Sand.
    Hmm. Well, do keep an eye out on whether things get too complicated or I throw in too many characters. I want this to be more grand and large (and also to seem that way), and I think part of conveying that requires that there be more than a handful of people involved. But I also need to keep it manageable. For that first installment, the main idea was to get the names out there, and a bit of a start for character development for each one, but I wouldn't expect you to remember them all yet. My hope is that as they come back in throughout the next couple installments they will become more clear, and that this first run will have been helpful. So do let me know how things seem as this chapter progresses!

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Bah! Life is over-rated. They may die, but their glory will live on. The brief flame burns brightly! And Swaeft, that was a bit of an in-joke because Kilo is the one to always notice the smallest typo in my writing. (Which I might grumble about but which I'm really grateful for.) I wonder what Kilo would do if one day he actually had a typo himself. The shock might end him.
    You dang right it will, because that stash of letters that Peticus found is AWESOME! Never forget, never surrender! And by Grabthar's hammer, they shall be avenged!

    I was actually going through some earlier installments yesterday and I found a couple small typos. I felt very bad, and like I had lost all sense of self

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Why not both? I bet if you laced your breakfast cereal with it, it definitely would be slimming...

    ::leaves before he gets arrested::
    "Yes officer. I know this looks bad, but I swear it isn't mine. There's this Paphlagonian dude I know who gets stuff... -- Yeah, I said 'Paphlagonian'; it's a real place! No, don't tase me! I swear I'm not on drugs!"

    :falls to floor convulsing, wondering how to get a hold of defense attorney at this time of night:

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    Hello Special K

    I promised to give you my comments on your AAR, and here they are. As someone once told me, I hope I was harsh on you.
    Thanks much for the review Swaeft. There are a lot of good things in there, and I'm hoping the exposure will get a few more folks over this way! I am also going to try to start getting images in here, to ease the pain you feel on just seeing words Hopefully that can start happening bit by bit in a somewhat timely fashion. No promises though.
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  9. #129

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 25]

    Continued from Chapter 4 - Part I




    Chapter 4
    New Friends, New Enemies


    --------------------------------------------------
    (Part II)


    Yathrib was altogether new. One would have thought it have been all ruddy arrogance in keeping with its half-undeserved wealth, but it belied such uncharitable estimations. Here and there splashes of hyacinth and saffron indeed marked the rich quarters of oiled Arab merchants, men fatted on luck and the sweat of others' brows, but they were few and ultimately of little consequence. Public opinion and true power flowed from the sons of Ishaq*, close cousins to the tribes of 'Isra'êl, who two score generations earlier had founded the fledgling settlement. And though Yathrib had grown prosperous in that time, it still retained the quiet calm of its founders.

    Mun'at walked forward, leading his mount by the nose, his shoulders pulled back in a display of easy confidence. Over-full bravado and sharpest wit would bring one far with the often noisome and always superficial nomads who were his regular company, for out on the long wastes there was little opportunity for drawn out considerations of another's merit and subsequent action, but in the settled lands he had learned that such outright boldness would be taken for an insult, or, worse still, a threat. And so he had dismounted, along with the rest of his companions, and in quiet procession they won the streets of Yathrib with heads high and lips tight.

    They made their way to the center of the city, walking for the better part of an hour, their eyes widening at the sight of so vast a place. Few of the Nabati had failed to see their own rich capital at the heights of Wadi Musa, but Rekem was narrow and cramped in comparison to the broad avenues and open airs of Yathrib. Where there the valley walls crowded in and closed one off, here the surrounding hills and mountains bowed outward, creating a wide bowl with gently undulating rim.

    When finally the warriors reached the central square, rounded in with bustling markets and restless caravans, they were met by a small detachment of soberly clad men, their hair cropped close and black as night. They were cousins to the Arabs of Edum and the Levant to the north, these sundered sons of Ibrahim, but they were distant cousins indeed, and such distinction could plainly be seen by the curl of their locks, the sharpness of their cheeks.

    In silence Mun'at touched his forehead and offered a half-bow, leaning forward with his shoulders while holding his form otherwise erect. Such greeting was polite, but calculated, and it would be taken as such. It was a sign that he came in peace, as a friend, but a friend on equal footing, one who gives courtesy by choice rather than necessity. The men opposite responded in kind, after which one stepped forward and began to rapidly speak, addressing Mun'at.

    It lasted perhaps a minute, and though the form and general shape of the speech seemed familiar to the commander of the Nabati, he could not understand the meaning. The language was a hybrid, a bastard offspring of Old Aramaic and the dozens of dialects between Judea and Bakkah, making it sound common while somehow remaining alien. Mun'at merely stared in puzzlement, briefly looking the fool.

    On seeing such incomprehension the man began to quickly relay a series of short utterances in apologetic tones, after which he began again slowly in a halting and dusty Haurani patter. "Desert brother," he began, "the force behind you dares evil, but you have used it for good. For that we would give you thanks." Mun'at bowed again, slightly deeper. "However, blades and bows are poor tools in our lands, and we have few with the art of their use. We cannot help you in that."

    Mun'at was silent, his jaw lightly clenched, and he looked from one man to the next. After a moment he seemed to reach a decision and began to speak, placing the words carefully and slowly for the benefit of the ambassador opposite. "Of brothers in arms we have plenty, yet so far from our home we find ourselves short of friends." He paused briefly then, to be sure the others had understood. Satisfied, he continued in even tones. "But if you and yours would look kindly on us we might continue onward with glad hearts, and we would moreover leave here with a solemn oath to safeguard you, just as we have this past day. And so I ask: would you freely and truly call yourselves brothers to us, as your northern cousins of Judea do? Would you welcome our friends and shun our enemies?"

    The man looked past Mun'at, his gaze flickering over the long train of Nabati warriors, men who marched in peace but carried war and its threat in their wake, and he nodded. "Yes, northern brother. We will call you friend. And we will show you what friendship means to the sons of Ishaq."


    Halik Il'Yakif had regained his weather-worn bench beneath the grasping acacia, and he was breathing slowly through his nostrils, his eyes fixed on Mubsamat's back. The Queen stood at the edge of his small mountain, surveying his fields, refusing to look on Halik's face. After a long and heavy silence, a silence ringing with threats and imparted doom, the Queen finally spoke.

    "Halik Il'Yakif," she began gently, "son of Sha'ram Il'Yakif, do you know why I am here?"

    "I believe so, my Queen." he answered, his words pinched and alone.

    "Hmph. 'My Queen', you say. Somehow I am not entirely convinced." Mubsamat took a step further toward the rim of the mount and then slowly exhaled, seeming to show a weariness Halik would not have thought possible in such a woman. "I knew your father, you know." she continued in conversational tones, her voice suddenly soft as a spring meadow. "A man of the earth and running waters. Too clever to be a soldier and too good, too honest, to be a lord, to play our little games."

    "He was a better man than I."

    "Perhaps... I did not know him well, but well enough I would say, and truth to tell I miss him." Mubsamat shook her head sadly. "Men of that kind have year by year left this world, leaving too many sons to take up their mantles." She paused, and on the edge of hearing muttered, "Scorpions and asps in the garb of lords."

    Sensing some thing not before seen Halik rose to his feet and stepped toward Mubsamat, the slight rustle of his clothes turning her on her heels, and when her gaze met his he saw a cold fire burning in the depths of her eyes. Halik stopped, but then again stepped toward her, this time more slowly, almost timidly, and he dropped to his knees. From the dust and dirt he looked up, his face pleading, a mist clouding his vision. "My Queen," he began weakly, failing to fight the quaver in his voice, "I am not my father, for he was a good man and I see now the extent of my sins." Halik reached out and grasped Mubsamat's hands in supplication. "I have wronged you. I see that. I allied myself with demons, not knowing the depths of their ambition, their greed, and in my upright foolishness I sought to harm you, my true Queen." Halik let go of her hands and turned his eyes to the dirt. "Is there anything I might do which could right the wrongs I have committed?" he said quietly. "Is there anything at all that you would have of me? Anything to show my true worth?"

    Mubsamat looked down on him in silence, her features slipping between disgust and quiet satisfaction, and slowly she smiled, showing her perfect teeth. "Perhaps."

    *Glossary + Author's Note

    *Ishaq: Arab form of Isaac, one of the patriarchs of the Israelites.

    Author's Note: The awesome scenebreak image of the camels is provided by cedric37. If you like it, please show him some love by throwing a +rep his way! Just click here:




    Continue to Chapter 4 - Part III
    Last edited by Kilo11; March 16, 2019 at 04:37 PM. Reason: Minor edits
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  10. #130
    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    He's back, and may all the Gods rejoice! I do so look forward to the continuation of this sandy odyssey.

  11. #131

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    Quote Originally Posted by McScottish View Post
    He's back, and may all the Gods rejoice! I do so look forward to the continuation of this sandy odyssey.
    Ah, my scribbling Scotsman, it is good to see you again! Any chance you've got a wee bottle of Uiscé beatha in that sporran o' yours?

    Oh, and what's happening with your Baktrian AAR? I saw it go up a while back and read the first post, but I haven't heard from it since. Any chance it'll be running again soon?
    Last edited by Kilo11; February 04, 2019 at 10:49 AM.
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  12. #132
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    I really liked how you handled the "language barrier" between the different peoples, though they speak a somewhat similar language. I immediatly made a connection to myself. I talk Dutch (mostly, and in an regional dialect that is) and would say that German very much sounds familiar but I don't speak it myself, but if someone were to talk slowly I would be able to understand enough to perform a basic conversation.

    Other than that another good update!

  13. #133

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    I really liked how you handled the "language barrier" between the different peoples, though they speak a somewhat similar language. I immediatly made a connection to myself. I talk Dutch (mostly, and in an regional dialect that is) and would say that German very much sounds familiar but I don't speak it myself, but if someone were to talk slowly I would be able to understand enough to perform a basic conversation.

    Other than that another good update!
    I'm glad you liked that, and that it seemed to work. And I can also relate to the language barrier thing, and how odd it can sometimes feel. I'm a native English speaker, but am also fluent in German, and my current position is actually at a university in Belgium (Hey Turk, we should get a beer together! ), and I am so often confused when I'm over there. I always think it's English, and then I think it's German, and then I think I should just stop trying


    Oh, and I also forgot to say with the last update that I have started putting in a new image for scenebreaks! I hope you guys like it (I know I do!), and if you do, please show some love to cedric37, who was kind enough to put that together for me! All you have to do is click here to throw a rep his way! And since it's now just so easy, why not go ahead and do it :whispering: Seriously, just go ahead and do it
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  14. #134

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 25]

    Hello Kilo11, I'm finally commenting as a person caught up to the story

    A nicely done update, with your descriptive writing as excellent as ever. As for the dialogue, I for one liked the sentence "We will show you what friendship means to the sons of Ishaq", that sounds pretty foreboding. Looks like the Nabati have gained more allies, always a good thing.


    There are a few suggestions I can make, though. Your AAR has many important characters, and as such a character list with a short description of each person might help. I must confess I do not remember every character when I read the chapters and sometimes I have to refer back to previous chapters before going: "Ahh, so that was the guy." Just something to consider

    Regarding the scene-breaks by Cedric, I have to say I love the idea, but instead of drawing attention to the breaks, the scene-break to me is drawing attention to itself. I think this has to do with a combination of being well designed (haha, no complaints there) and being a little bit too big and a little bit too black (by a little too black I mean it seems to me as if you are typing in regular font, then the scene-break comes across as bold font - am I making sense here?). In short, it is rather noticeable and is a little distracting, to me at least. I would personally prefer if it were a little bit smaller, but this of course is entirely up to you.

    Also, I'm not sure if this is just a different method of speaking, but when you say
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    in quiet procession they won the streets of Yathrib with heads high and lips tight.
    I do not understand what this means. Have they won the hearts and minds of the people there? Or is this an archaic way of saying 'wandered'?

    As usual, a very good read, and I hope I do not come across as being too impolite by pointing these out.

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  15. #135
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    The two scenes make a nice contrast: in the first, someone unfamilar to Mun'at becoming a friend, while in the second, someone who seems familiar to Halik seems distrustful and potentally dangerous. I wonder what Mubsamat is thinking of.

    (I like cedric37's design of the scenebreak image.)

  16. #136
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Here and there splashes of hyacinth and saffron indeed marked the rich quarters of oiled Arab merchants, men fatted on luck and the sweat of others' brows, but they were few and ultimately of little consequence.*
    I love this burn, and what it reveals about a hard man unimpressed by luxury.

    And once again I don't have anything to add, except perhaps that I'll get started on that thing I promised you this week.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Oh, and what's happening with your Baktrian AAR? I saw it go up a while back and read the first post, but I haven't heard from it since. Any chance it'll be running again soon?
    Not to threadjack, but seriously McScottish you got us all waiting here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    I must confess I do not remember every character when I read the chapters and sometimes I have to refer back to previous chapters before going: "Ahh, so that was the guy." Just something to consider
    Ah, I recognize this condition, having suffered the affliction myself. The clinical term is “AAR Binge-reader's Disease”. When we dig something, we read it too fast, and get so caught up in what we're reading, we're not remembering all the little details like who is who and what the name of this or that town is.


  17. #137

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    Hello Kilo11, I'm finally commenting as a person caught up to the story

    A nicely done update, with your descriptive writing as excellent as ever. As for the dialogue, I for one liked the sentence "We will show you what friendship means to the sons of Ishaq", that sounds pretty foreboding. Looks like the Nabati have gained more allies, always a good thing.
    Good to have you caught up Swaeft! And I also felt like that sentence came across as really foreboding. It's not meant to be, but every other formulation of that concluding sentence was either odd in itself, or sort of fell flat as a conclusion. I was having a hard time getting the content of the speech there to fit the tone of it, and I just sort of thought "Hell, a little suspense won't kill anyone." But if you want a small spoiler:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    There is nothing nasty planned for the Nabati.


    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    Regarding the scene-breaks by Cedric, I have to say I love the idea, but instead of drawing attention to the breaks, the scene-break to me is drawing attention to itself. I think this has to do with a combination of being well designed (haha, no complaints there) and being a little bit too big and a little bit too black (by a little too black I mean it seems to me as if you are typing in regular font, then the scene-break comes across as bold font - am I making sense here?). In short, it is rather noticeable and is a little distracting, to me at least. I would personally prefer if it were a little bit smaller, but this of course is entirely up to you.
    Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. I will have to see if there is some way to change the image without changing the image location though (the BBcode string that is used between the IMG brackets), because I am not, I repeat not, going to go back through every post to change the link address for the pic, and my brain will murder itself if I start using a different scenebreak image and don't make it consistent throughout. I will also need to think about your point in more general terms too, as I also found the camel pic to be somewhat "too pretty", in that it briefly distracts the mind, but then again, that can help to reset someone's brain for a new scene. But again, I'll think about it more, and see if there is some way to change the pic image without changing the address.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    Also, I'm not sure if this is just a different method of speaking, but when you say
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11
    in quiet procession they won the streets of Yathrib with heads high and lips tight.
    I do not understand what this means. Have they won the hearts and minds of the people there? Or is this an archaic way of saying 'wandered'?

    As usual, a very good read, and I hope I do not come across as being too impolite by pointing these out.
    The idea there is indeed that they have sort of "won hearts and minds". The main point is that the city is with them now, but that they did not actually conquer it. The map in coming installments will reflect this to some extent, as I plan to make some areas be colored in a way that shows "Independent Allied Territories", which will for now be the areas of central Hijaz. Since there are so few settlements on the Arabian Peninsula in EBII it is not realistic that the Nabati could properly rule all of that area (not to mention, it's not realistic in any historical terms either). My idea was then to have a certain portion of the area be left relatively autonomous, but with agreements of friendship and mutual assistance, and in those areas, it cannot ever be the case that Mun'at fights against them, otherwise he would have to then leave a garrison behind to maintain authority. Suffice to say, it's a tricky endeavor to control areas you can't easily communicate with, and leaving grievances behind you is a sure way to foment later insurrection or insurgency.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    The two scenes make a nice contrast: in the first, someone unfamilar to Mun'at becoming a friend, while in the second, someone who seems familiar to Halik seems distrustful and potentally dangerous. I wonder what Mubsamat is thinking of.

    (I like cedric37's design of the scenebreak image.)
    Thanks Alwyn. I hadn't really planned that (or noticed it), but that does indeed work nicely. Thanks for pointing it out! And I am also glad you liked cedric's design (don't forget to fire him a rep for it too! ).

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11
    Here and there splashes of hyacinth and saffron indeed marked the rich quarters of oiled Arab merchants, men fatted on luck and the sweat of others' brows, but they were few and ultimately of little consequence.*
    I love this burn, and what it reveals about a hard man unimpressed by luxury.

    And once again I don't have anything to add, except perhaps that I'll get started on that thing I promised you this week.
    Hah. I like that you liked that! That is also something I hadn't quite thought about much. Mun'at is in large part a man after my heart (I use him as my own mouthpiece for a lot of ideas and impressions), and that is my usual thought about wealth and affluence. Your take on that impression does me much flattery!

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    There are a few suggestions I can make, though. Your AAR has many important characters, and as such a character list with a short description of each person might help. I must confess I do not remember every character when I read the chapters and sometimes I have to refer back to previous chapters before going: "Ahh, so that was the guy." Just something to consider
    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Ah, I recognize this condition, having suffered the affliction myself. The clinical term is “AAR Binge-reader's Disease”. When we dig something, we read it too fast, and get so caught up in what we're reading, we're not remembering all the little details like who is who and what the name of this or that town is.
    I know what you are saying here Swaeft (and Skotos has the medical terminology correct as well, I think! ). I have been worrying about this from the outset actually, as the foreigness of the names makes them harder to remember I think. I mean, you think about even a children's book like Harry Potter, and there are easily way more characters than what I've introduced so far (off the top of my head I can name Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, and Voldemort, and I didn't even read those books or watch the movies). However, for each name here you have to really think about who it is, and how they fit in, as the names just don't "click" for us easily. I am not certain whether I will add a character list, as I don't like the idea much, but then again, I probably will anyway. However, once I have finished Book I, I would love it if anyone was interested in having a re-read and approaching more like a normal book, reading one chapter at a time (rather than one part at a time, as it is uploaded here), as I think the characters might be easier to follow in that type of reading. That is also the type of writing I am aiming for anyway.


    EDIT: Regarding the next update, I hope to have it sometime soon-ish. I am swamped with work right now, but I have most of the scenes pretty clear in my head. The only thing that is still giving me pause is where to put them, as I want the chronology to be correct for them all, and there are a few more moving parts in this chapter that are very spacially removed from one another, making it harder for me to figure out how they chronologically align with one another. Hopefully I'll have it done in a week or so though.
    Last edited by Kilo11; February 12, 2019 at 02:23 AM.
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  18. #138

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Good to have you caught up Swaeft! And I also felt like that sentence came across as really foreboding. It's not meant to be, but every other formulation of that concluding sentence was either odd in itself, or sort of fell flat as a conclusion. I was having a hard time getting the content of the speech there to fit the tone of it, and I just sort of thought "Hell, a little suspense won't kill anyone."
    It's nice to be caught up Don't worry, I'm a fan of suspense, and it is your story after all anyway.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. I will have to see if there is some way to change the image without changing the image location though (the BBcode string that is used between the IMG brackets), because I am not, I repeat not, going to go back through every post to change the link address for the pic, and my brain will murder itself if I start using a different scenebreak image and don't make it consistent throughout. I will also need to think about your point in more general terms too, as I also found the camel pic to be somewhat "too pretty", in that it briefly distracts the mind, but then again, that can help to reset someone's brain for a new scene. But again, I'll think about it more, and see if there is some way to change the pic image without changing the address.
    Oh I didn't meant to suggest changing everything. I know how hard that can be (Robert de Quar for 13+ chapters was a pain), so if you don't feel like doing it please don't, it's really a minor inconvenience for me, and it's not as if I'm going to stop reading just cos of that. Again, it's up to you to decide whether the brief distraction is worth the pretty image, either way I'm fine.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    The idea there is indeed that they have sort of "won hearts and minds". The main point is that the city is with them now, but that they did not actually conquer it.
    Ahh, I see. I've just never seen it being written that way before, that's cool.


    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Ah, I recognize this condition, having suffered the affliction myself. The clinical term is “AAR Binge-reader's Disease”. When we dig something, we read it too fast, and get so caught up in what we're reading, we're not remembering all the little details like who is who and what the name of this or that town is.
    Actually it's not the binge-reading that's causing it, for me personally it's the time between updates and the fact that I'm trying to read as much stuff as I can, so sometimes when I come back to stories I get a little disorientated. Don't get me wrong, this is a me problem more than a you (Kilo11) problem, time doesn't matter when you're putting something of this quality out, so whether you decide to implement a character list or not won't sway me either way, but I can tell you it would help

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  19. #139

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    Sorry for not responding to this sooner, or getting moving along with things in the story. The last month has been kicking my ass, as I had to write a paper for a conference I am hoping to present at. I finished it last week, and had planned to strike off an update in the lull after finishing writing, but found that I was just totally sapped. However, the last day or two I have felt my energy slowly returning, and will try to get back into writing with a vengeance!

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    [Referencing the scenebreaks] Oh I didn't meant to suggest changing everything. I know how hard that can be (Robert de Quar for 13+ chapters was a pain), so if you don't feel like doing it please don't, it's really a minor inconvenience for me, and it's not as if I'm going to stop reading just cos of that. Again, it's up to you to decide whether the brief distraction is worth the pretty image, either way I'm fine.
    Well, if someone knows of a way to change a photo in the albums area without changing the IMG code, then I am open to trying different sized scenebreak images. However, until such a possibility is presented to me, I think it will have to stay as is, as I just can't bring myself to change the code in every previous update (and my OCD brain would murder itself if I changed the scenebreak for future installments and didn't make it consistent with previous ones).

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    Actually it's not the binge-reading that's causing it, for me personally it's the time between updates and the fact that I'm trying to read as much stuff as I can, so sometimes when I come back to stories I get a little disorientated. Don't get me wrong, this is a me problem more than a you (Kilo11) problem, time doesn't matter when you're putting something of this quality out, so whether you decide to implement a character list or not won't sway me either way, but I can tell you it would help
    Thanks for the input here Swaeft. I think I will try to put together a list, and add it into all installments. It will go up for the older installments first, as I will build it character by character, so that each installment only has the list of characters that have been introduced already up to that point. But hopefully it will be there by the time the next update goes up.

    A final point, which is more of a question to all of you readers here: Does anyone happen to have or know of a good geographical map of the Arabian Peninsula? In particular, I need to know the names of each wadi that runs along the Hijaz. As you can see from the map, I already have a number in there, but there are others that I need to use for the story, but whose names I cannot find. I am considering buying an atlas to help me with this, but so far I have yet to find one that is detailed enough in that area of the globe. If anyone knows of a good source, or has such an image, I would be most appreciative!
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  20. #140

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Feb 3]

    Good luck with that conference!

    Also, a wise man once told me this was an important milestone, so congratulations on your AAR reaching 10,000 views!

    Iced water and imaginary pizza are on me.

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