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

  1. #41
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 12]

    I enjoyed reading about the way that Mun'at thought about Shullai Ha'Maleki and Khalil (and their levels of experience), your use of simile and metaphor (for exmaple in your descriptions of the Lihyanites and Mun'at's features) and the combined effect of your report of the battle and the map, showing the importance of Mun'at's order to Haza'el. I like Mun'at's concluding reflections on the new status of general and army in this strange land. A great update!

  2. #42

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 12]

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    Very nice. Loved the pre-battle buildup and the battle itself, almost felt like I was reading a book. Great read, and great map depicting the maneuvers. Love the little glossary at the end there, keep it up!
    Thanks Swaeft. I'm glad you liked the battle, and I am very happy to hear that you felt like it read like a book. A book is my ultimate goal, so that is great to hear! Also always happy to hear that those little things like maps and glossaries are proving useful. I will continue to include them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    I agree with everything Swaeft said! Mun'at really seems like a good man, not relishing in the destruction of his foes, as well as being a great leader of men. Sending out his own bodyguard to help in the battle while he himself inspires the main force with the weakest troops. A man destined for greatness I say!
    I have never been in the military or in combat, but I have thought about it extensively for my job and I don't think it is possible for a good man to look on mortal combat long unless he really has to. It is a rough and dirty enterprise that good individuals carry out only by necessity, and then only as long as they have to. I am trying to show that through Mun'at to some extent I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I enjoyed reading about the way that Mun'at thought about Shullai Ha'Maleki and Khalil (and their levels of experience), your use of simile and metaphor (for exmaple in your descriptions of the Lihyanites and Mun'at's features) and the combined effect of your report of the battle and the map, showing the importance of Mun'at's order to Haza'el. I like Mun'at's concluding reflections on the new status of general and army in this strange land. A great update!
    Well, Shullai will be learning quickly in the coming chapters I think. He isn't a fool, he's a boy, and boys usually do grow up at some point.
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  3. #43

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 12]

    Continued from Chapter 1 - Part VII




    Chapter 2
    First Moves


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


    As they left Tabuk, Edum, and the lands of the Nabati, Mun'at's army first traveled east. It was his intention that they take the Green Valley, Wadi Akhdar, as far into Lihyan as they could, using its wells and fertile vales to supply themselves. With no word from Ravîv'êl Bikrum, nor any expectation of news before they reached Dedan, Mun'at chose to err towards caution, miserly clinging to his supplies and instead taking what the land might readily afford. However, he made clear by command and thinly veiled threats that his men were not to take more than any village or tribe could spare, that they were to always offer at least some form of recompense, and that they were to treat those they met as they would fellow countrymen, as members of their own clan. They were coming as conquerors indeed, but they hoped that one day these men might aid them in war against the arrogant Greeks and it would not do to sow the seeds of future betrayal. Besides, the petty tribes of El Houl, Jabal Lebda, and Jabal Ugila, fringe peoples only marginally connected to the nearby Arabian powers, had since time immemorial been raided by both Nabati and Lihyanite parties. A friendly force bearing promises of future peace and potential wealth might well be given guidance, a measure of wine, and not least of all, unmolested passage.

    As they neared Wadi Akhdar Mun'at's anticipation slowly grew. He repeatedly urged his mount forward, playfully chided the footmen for going so slowly, or led his companions and the nearby units in song, heedless of any enemies that might hear. Once before as a young man he had traveled the length of the Green Valley, and his recollections dispelled all fear and caution, impelling him onward toward the cool embrace of low orchards and closely spaced wells and pools. When finally they reached the valley he was glad to see his memory had served him well.

    Before them a narrowing cleft opened, sheets of blasted sun-baked sandstone rising to either side, but between these comfortless ridges spread a carpet of lush verdure capped in the spreading crowns of fig, olive, and palm trees. While many among the desert tribes still led wanderers' lives, those along Wadi Akhdar had long ago given up the nomad's ways, choosing instead to call one place home, and the long canyon was dotted with dozens of close groups of low earthen huts. Their distribution and organization at first seemed almost artfully haphazard, but upon closer inspection Mun'at noticed the subtle signs that marked the transitions between one family and the next, and the less regular gaps denoting the presence of an entirely separate tribe. The only exceptions to this silent and unspoken agreement were the ponds and pools which periodically graced the valley floor and appeared to be by common assent the property of all.

    As they moved into this cool and somewhat unexpected landscape Mun'at's men became increasingly tranquil, quietly chatting with one another and laughing gaily at small private jokes. Here and there a company might even begin to tarry alongside a pool a bit longer in order to allow their mounts and pack animals to drink, or even to let the men splash about like children in the muddy waters, but soon enough they would move on, making room for those behind who had yet to enjoy Al-Akhdar's comforts. There were others still who walked silently, wide-eyed and disbelieving that a wadi could be so green, so full of life. Across the harsh Sinai and from Edum to the Hadramawt there lay thousands of ravines and gullies, each bearing the name "wadi", but virtually all are barren. The rains, which fall only seldom but then with a merciless intensity, flow too quickly, scouring the land of any trace of the life that struggles to take hold there. It is only in the lowest valleys that trees, bushes, and grasses may thrive, when the waters have lost their power and drive and may be effectually tamed by canals and cisterns and put to use by man. However, here in Wadi Akhdar some trick of the hills or perhaps favor of the gods conspired to keep the life-giving water confined between narrow walls without creating a deluge, creating an unimaginable spectacle of life made all the more impressive for the bleakness of the surrounding country.

    South of the plentiful vale the land quickly recovered its unforgiving aspect, throwing broken hills across their way, separated only by sun-blasted plains and fields of shattered lava-stone, terrain fit to burn soles and wills and lame the horses and camels. Knowing this Mun'at slowed their march, allowing them two full days in which to refresh themselves and fatten their beasts before they again entered the hot lands. They marched both days, but only shortly, almost casually, flitting their way southward with poorly concealed distaste at the prospect of moving on. It seemed almost as though to leave that valley might mean doom for the brave Nabati men, so much did they drag their feet. Perhaps they were right.

    At any rate, on the evening of that second day they reached the confluence of Wadi Akhdar and Wadi Manhazawa whose sandy base marks the end of the fertile lands. There, laid on foundations of sand, Mun'at found the small village of Dizad, the final reason for taking the eastern road. Before they left Tabuk the garrison commander Tarsu had vehemently impressed upon Mun'at the importance that they pass through this quiet town and speak to their elders, for according to his testimony Dizad was the final home of the last remnants of the Jadis tribe, a mighty clan of warriors famed for their strength and prowess with bows. Their counsel held much weight in the lands of Hijaz and the nearby desert, and it would be unwise to travel south without securing a token of good faith from them first. And so Mun'at bade them halt for the evening, but he entered the chieftain's low earthen dwelling apprehensively, displeased with the prospect of so few unknown individuals holding so much sway over his future endeavors.

    As he stepped inside Mun'at sat at the place offered to him, placing Shullai to his right and Rana'in to his left, with Khalil and Haza'el behind. They were then given cool water and melon, fruits of the valley which each graciously accepted, and they ate and drank in silence, waiting for their host to speak as was his right. The man opposite them, alone and much scarred, sat quietly at first, eying each captain in turn, but most of all Mun'at, and when finally he spoke it was with words lightly accented in tones of the east. "Proud Nabati," he began, "you do not know me and so I will make no show of familiarity with you." Mun'at shifted uneasily. The words were true enough, but they failed to bespeak a gracious host. "However," the man continued, "news travels faster than summer storms and I have heard of your victory at Tabuk. You Nabati have seldom been friends to me and my people, but the Lihyanites are oft worse, and so I may trust you. Perhaps." The man then paused briefly, seemingly for no other reason than to cause discomfort. When again he spoke it was with a flash in his eyes and a veiled fury not lightly to be tested. "You surely go to strike Dedan," he said, "and in this quest I wish you all good fortune, but know that between here and there there roam many idle men, raiders bereft of clan and country, or family and honor, and you would do well to step lightly. And know this also; the people of Hijaz are under my protection and should you tarry in these sacred hills or your men turn to petty banditry they will bleed long before they are allowed to meet their ancestors. Do we understand one another?"

    Mun'at let out an easy sigh and smiled broadly. "I believe we do. And though there is, as you say, no familiarity between us, I believe I know you well enough, and so I will trust you and I would hope you might trust me." At this Shullai Ha'Maleki gently laid a hand on Mun'at's wrist and began to whisper in his ear but was quickly brushed away. "Know that we march on Dedan" Mun'at continued "not to raid or sack the lands of Lihyan, but to unite them. We, the Nabati, the first of the desert peoples who will fall to the greed of Greek hearts, are marching south to call our brothers to arms, so that when the Ptolemaic and Seleukid spears come, and come they will, we will be ready. We are marching so that the sons and daughters of these our lands may remain free and proud, untethered and unbroken. That is our cause."

    The man stared long at Mun'at, clearly weighing the words and the man who spoke them, searching for some concealed trickery, but finally he too smiled broadly. With the rigors of distrust laid aside their conversation became more intimate and friendly, and Mun'at, having won some esteem in the man's eyes, stayed long into the night, his captains retiring one by one as he and the scarred soldier spoke. Eventually exhaustion took them both as well, and Mun'at laid his head to rest with an ease not felt for some time.

    As the sun rose the next morning and the army prepared to march they were greeted by a small company of scouts and pathfinders, local Hijaz raiders prepared to lead Mun'at and his men through the often desolate landscape of the mountains' parched eastern slopes. And so, as Tarsu had said, their journey through Wadi Akhdar to Dizad was made profitable and the army of the Nabati gained its first Arabian allies outside of Edum.

    Author's Note to Wadis

    I added a bit more explanation of wadis because in an earlier private conversation Cookiegod was sceptical* that desert people would use them to travel, as wadis can be extremely dangerous! In fact one of the most common causes of death in the desert is not exhaustion or heat-stroke, but rather drowning, because people will take shelter in the narrow passages and when rains come these fill very quickly. Sometimes rain in the immediate vicinity is not even necessary, and it is not uncommon for places with clear blue skies to very suddenly become flooded. However, there are wadis and there are wadis, with some being nothing more than narrow gorges and others being vast open spaces like Wadi Rum (you might also compare the bed of the Colorado river, which at its higher reaches is astoundingly narrow but eventually opens into the Grand Canyon). There are others still like Wadi Akhdar which are regularly green and have some persistent water there, but these are rather rare.

    Regarding whether or not wadis would be traveled, from my research it seems that it is common for desert people to use them as highways, as they are easy to traverse and tend to have at least some vegetation for pack animals to forage on and some (even minimal) amount of water hidden away in sheltered locations. These people are also usually able to "eye-ball" the danger level of a given wadi (with respect to flood risks) and act accordingly, either camping up the edges of it a bit, or keeping their gear ready so that they can move at a moment's notice.

    However, all of that being said, wadis are not to be taken lightly or seen as mere valleys or roads, as Cookiegod's scepticism was based on a very real fact: wadis are dangerous. That danger will crop up at some point in the future of this AAR...


    *(Many thanks to Cookiegod for being critical and sceptical; it helps us all as writers when someone takes the time to find those small faults or oversights!)




    Continue to Chapter 2 - Part II
    Last edited by Kilo11; February 02, 2019 at 08:42 AM. Reason: Added links
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  4. #44

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 19]

    So Mun'at seems to have a deft hand with diplomacy, and the Nabati seem to be going from strength to strength. A short but sweet chapter, and very descriptive. Keep it up!

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  5. #45
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 19]

    Is there something Mun'at can't do. Brilliant commander, strategist and diplomat. Intriguing that such a small tribe in the middle of the desert can hold so much power over so many. Like Swaeft says, a short but sweet, descriptive chapter. +rep

  6. #46

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 19]

    A wonderful chapter kilo, as always. I wanted to rain reps on your wadi, but then the forum software explained to me what you meant by having to spread out.

    The only thing that was a tad unrealistic was in a previous chapter the thing with the lancers shattering their spears. People didn't have stirrups back then, so the force it takes to break the spear is more likely to unhorse the rider.
    Doesn't matter though.

  7. #47

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 19]

    Intriguing developments and great chapters. The sense of going into the desert seems to be on the increase.
    To anyone concerned. I am leaving twc. Bye and best of luck.
    And Pike thanks for supporting me always.

  8. #48

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 19]

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    So Mun'at seems to have a deft hand with diplomacy, and the Nabati seem to be going from strength to strength. A short but sweet chapter, and very descriptive. Keep it up!
    I am not so sure he has a deft diplomatic hand; it may just be that he and the elder at Dizad agree on things. However, the Nabati do seem to be on the rise, despite a seemingly endless array of rebel stacks that were roaming the desert at the outset. Hopefully I can handle them all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    Is there something Mun'at can't do. Brilliant commander, strategist and diplomat. Intriguing that such a small tribe in the middle of the desert can hold so much power over so many. Like Swaeft says, a short but sweet, descriptive chapter. +rep
    As I said to Swaeft, Mun'at might not be the best diplomat, just blessed so far with meeting people of like minds. So far the chips have not really been down, so to say, so it's hard to say for sure how capable he really is. And regarding the small tribe holding much power, while it seems odd to most of us, the Bedouin people placed much more value on esteem and personal qualities than many western societies would, and so it was not uncommon for some small group to be very highly respected without necessarily holding vast amounts of power.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    A wonderful chapter kilo, as always. I wanted to rain reps on your wadi, but then the forum software explained to me what you meant by having to spread out.

    The only thing that was a tad unrealistic was in a previous chapter the thing with the lancers shattering their spears. People didn't have stirrups back then, so the force it takes to break the spear is more likely to unhorse the rider.
    Doesn't matter though.
    Yep, them softwares be trying to keep us egalitarian in our repping for some reason

    I hear you on the "breaking spears" line, and I wasn't necessarily meaning that the spears literally broke; I just liked the sound of the line.

    Quote Originally Posted by mad orc View Post
    Intriguing developments and great chapters. The sense of going into the desert seems to be on the increase.
    The desert will indeed become a bit more present in the next few installments, and will continue until we reach the highlands of the Saba' in what is modern Yemen.


    Two final points:
    1. A million thanks to Cookiegod, who has been helping to explain a variety of things to me to help me clean up some aspects of the writing and to develop some things more fully than I had initially intended.
    2. I have planned a new updated map for the next installment, but it is not yet ready while the text is. I'll post the text and try to get the map finished as quickly as I can and add it to the post later.
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  9. #49

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 19]

    Continued from Chapter 2 - Part I




    Chapter 2
    First Moves


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


    She stood on the western wall of the royal palace, the distant volcanic mountains gaping at her with their cones of black and leaden gray, dead teeth gnawing at the heavens. Unable to bear the brutish spectacle longer she began walking south along the parapet toward the long floodplains below the Great Dam, sadd al-'Arim.* Mubsamat walked alone, in silence, her hands clasped behind her back and her fair olive face pinched and scowling.

    As she walked a series of small noises escaped her lips: muttered insults and half-stifled scoffs, curses and threats. 'Royal Palace?!', she thought to herself. 'It is ten generations and more since true royalty walked this hill, and ten generations again since our great queen, Bilqis Malkat-Saba', went north to 'Isra'êl to ensnare their wise king Sulayman.* Now we are nothing more than a rabble of squabbling tribes, a nest of snakes ready to strike the heel of any who might think to stand tall.'

    She reached the end of the western wall where a broad stair led down to a flattened space overlooking the green valley. Flanking the stair were two guards, the regular watchmen she had walked past so many times before. A boy of the Hashid clan standing watch with an aging Bakil warrior. And she knew that scattered across the compound were other men and women of the tribes of Banu Hamdan, Houthis and Yamis, as well as Maqil clansmen of every stripe and a dozen other greater tribal confederacies besides. Day in and out they stood by one another without complaint, but at a word from some distant elder they would gladly cast each other from the ramparts. Tribal fools.

    Worse still were the petty kings and jealous chieftains that surrounded them on every side. To the south Himyar and Qataban, insignificant lands that nevertheless deigned to stand independent of Ma'rib.* To the east and northwest Hadramawt and those scheming traitors of Ma'in. They were no better than herdsmen or desert raiders, but each year they spread their filthy tribes further along the incense routes, strangling the future of Saba'. It was the desert people who most vexed Mubsamat as she walked, lost in thought.

    Ma'in, whose fortunes yearly waxed even as Saba's waned, had only recently lost its sway over the eastern kingdoms, but still there remained many who might bend those simple clans against her people. And to these dangers was added the news out of the north; trading ships from Elath had witnessed the mustering of a great force that set out for the oasis cities of Tayma and Dedan, and from there they would surely continue south. The foolish nobles of the court thought this a boon, that the Nabati might distract Ma'in long enough for Saba' to reach out and take what was hers, but Mubsamat remained troubled. The bloodlines stemming from Wadi al-Jawf* had traveled far along the Hijaz, and the Bedouin of the Hisma and Harra held more in common with the northern enemies of Saba' than with Saba' herself. To trust that those traders and raiders would inevitably clash was folly, for so far from their home, in a strange land, the Nabati would be looking for friends and allies.

    Mubsamat stopped in her tracks. They would be looking for friends and allies, and though her people were in few ways similar to the tribes of Edum, the Ptolemaioi were stranger still, yet an alliance existed between those Greeks and the Nabati. And besides, why not ally with Saba'? The spices and incense grew most tall in these her lands, and the high mountains of Sarat made conquest an unlikely event for outsiders accustomed to the hot plains beyond Hijaz. To take Najran and Qarnawu* might perhaps be within the power of Nabati spears and horsemen, but to navigate the high passes as Saba' arrows rained down on them was not. And once Ma'in was broken she might perhaps put those simple desert soldiers to the sacking of the Hadramawt while the tribes of Saba' marched on Timna and Zafar.* Yes, the northern "enemies" might indeed serve her well, provided she could but speak with their commander. Saba' would have its ally, one known to her and under her control.


    Map of Arabia (Political & Geographical)




    As they began their march from Dizad Mun'at turned his eyes to the new recruits. They were a stalwart if motley crew, speaking a dozen different dialects and belonging to twice as many different tribes. Among them there seemed to be no ranks or distinctions, but when addressed there was one man who nearly always answered while the rest remained still, and so Mun'at unconsciously deemed him their leader. Wayyuq was his name, and though he always spoke simply his darting eyes betrayed a sharp and active mind ever on the alert.

    Their road would be taking them south toward Dedan and Mun'at sent the new scouts ahead and to the east and west as well, mixing in some of his own men that they might learn from one another. Wayyuq, however, he kept by his side, wishing to speak to the man about this wild country and what they might expect from it.

    For an hour they walked in silence, Mun'at on foot and leading his horse, Wayyuq, who had no mount, striding confidently beside him. Periodically Mun'at would glance over at the man, hoping to gain some measure of him, but some trick of his features rendered him utterly unreadable, mysterious. "Where do you call home?" Mun'at finally asked, casually seeking an entrance for further interrogation.

    Wayyuq looked thoughtful for a moment but then only shrugged.

    "What?" Mun'at asked, perplexed. "Do you not know, or have you no home?"

    "I am not sure." he answered. "When I was a boy we lived by the sea, but I think my family abandoned me. One day I came home after tending the flocks and they were simply gone. Eventually and after a great deal of misfortune I found myself in Wadi Akhdar, and though I have lived there long now there is no one waiting for my return. It is not my home." Wayyuq's eyes became distant then and somehow he looked both content and irretrievably saddened as he said, "I suppose home is wherever I lay my head."

    Mun'at did not know how to respond and so he simply walked in silence, providing the comforts of companionship but nothing else besides. After a short space he tried again, striking for a less personal tack. "What do you know of these lands we are now crossing?" he asked, gesturing widely to indicate the cracked fields of flint, the distant wind-swept dunes, and the rising massifs of Hijaz's eastern outriders.

    Wayyuq first pointed east, his finger sweeping over a sea of sand. "That way is El Houl, and beyond it the demon Nefud. It is a bad place." he said simply. He then turned west toward the mountains. "Al-Hijaz stands tall, holding back the rains and leaving us thirsty here, but between his feet there is still water hidden in the deep valley; I know where to find it. But you, great commander, do not care for these lands of the rising or setting sun, for you say your road goes first to Dedan." he said, turning his eyes south to the odd bastard landscape where the mountains blended into the plains. "And between us and that city still lies a quarter turning of the moon or more." Seeing Mun'at's expression Wayyuq flashed a momentary smile, adding, "We will get there."

    Mun'at grunted under his breath at nothing in particular. "And between us and Dedan, who occupies that country?" he asked, adding, "The Sharif of Dizad said evil men without clan or honor had taken root there."

    "Some of the people are Banu Udhrah," Wayyuq answered, "relatives of the southern Himyari who worship Ibrahim's* lonely god. Some are of the great line of Mudhar, many sons and daughters of Quraysh and Hashim who have found their way ever further north over the years. Some are Rabi'ah, the Banu Bakr nomads who travel the oases and never leave the inner desert except to trade their wares."

    At the last words Mun'at briefly tensed, recalling those high horns riding the crest of dawn, but he put the memories aside. "And are there any others?" he pressed. "Any of whom the Sharif might think ill?"

    Wayyuq did not answer immediately. His ever-moving eyes darted between Mun'at and the cracked earth over which they walked. Finally he spoke, his gaze still averted. "I am not sure." he said. "It is long since I dwelt in these lands and I hear only stories from those I meet on my travels here, but..."

    "Yes?"

    "I have heard that a portion of Banu Sulaym was cast out, that they broke the customs and sacred bonds of the Bedouin and for that were sent into exile. Unwilling to endure their sentences with honor they returned and have indeed put themselves to degrading and lawless behavior. They are rogues and bandits and not to be trusted, or so it is said."

    "Hmm... 'Rogues and bandits not to be trusted'" Mun'at repeated. "Some might say the same of us and our lot." Wayyuq looked at him incredulously, and Mun'at added, "But I will heed your words well."

    For the rest of that day and the morning hours of the next they discovered no signs or circumstances that might mark the presence of such men in the country. The villages they passed made trade with them without fear and the scattered wells were peopled by nomads and travelers at ease. However, as their road wound ever south the mood of the land darkened, becoming suspicious and chill. Riders in the distance would flee at their approach and the denizens of the oasis towns would hide themselves, begging for mercy if found as though Mun'at and his men had come to that place for the sole purpose of spreading terror in its inhabitants. Day by day the stench of fear became stronger until it was a thing almost palpable in the air, and when they reached the young settlement of Al-Hijr, a days' march north of Dedan, Mun'at's soldiers found the marks of evil men, marks of horrors that were abundant and without remorse.

    *Glossary

    *Great Ma'rib Dam (sadd al-'Arim): Dams and canals were extensively used throughout the various kingdoms of northern Yemen as far back as 2000 B.C. The Great Dam of Ma'rib, one of the most extensive engineering feats of antiquity, was constructed in the 8th century B.C.
    *Bilqis and Sulayman refer to the biblical Queen of Sheba and King Solomon respectively.
    *Ma'rib, located in northern Yemen east of Sana'a, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Saba'.
    *The heart of the Kingdom of Ma'in lay in Wadi al-Jawf, and from this valley the Minaeans were able to control much of the trade going north, eventually expanding north along the Hijaz mountain range.
    *Najran and Qarnawu were principle cities of the Minaean Kingdom, just north of the lands of Saba'.
    *Timna and Zafar were the capitals of Qataban and Himyar respectively.
    *Ibrahim is the Arabic variant of Abraham.




    Continue to Chapter 2 - Part III
    Last edited by Kilo11; February 04, 2019 at 03:43 PM. Reason: Added links
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  10. #50
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 26]

    Good update! Loved the exchanges between Mun'at and Wayyuq, who I think is a very interesting character or at least has a great potential to become interesting.

    Regarding the many placenames, in reference to myself, I could somewhat pinpoint myself in the Arabian peninsula because I have some knowledge about the region and having played some EBII myself. For people who have no idea about the game or region I think it might be very difficult to know exactly where everything is in general and relative to Mun'at's position. This would indeed be solved by using a map, which is on its way. The glossary also helps a bit regarding to Ma'rib and the Sana with the reference to modern day Yemen. You could argue if it is really necessary to know, as the reader, where everything is in the world. But that is of course an entirely different discussion.

    What you could do, something most books do, is put a global map of the wider region at the front of your story and provide more detailed ones in chapters where you deem it necessary.

    Keep up the good work!
    Last edited by Turkafinwë; August 27, 2018 at 10:56 AM. Reason: Because getting your post right the first time is overrated ......

  11. #51

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 26]

    Excellent. I like what you did there, and look forward to seeing more of Mubsamat and Wayyuq. Your style is top notch, especially your dialogue, the phrases you use are ingenious ('quarter turning of the moon', 'Ibrahim's lonely god', etc.).
    Tiny detail and you're the native (English) speaker, so I might be wrong here: Shouldn't it be "quarter (of a) turn of the moon" rather than "quarter turning of the moon"?

  12. #52

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 26]

    UPDATE: Added map to the above installment, and it looks awesome (though that is my own opinion, and I made the map, so do with it what you will )!

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    Good update! Loved the exchanges between Mun'at and Wayyuq, who I think is a very interesting character or at least has a great potential to become interesting.

    Regarding the many placenames, in reference to myself, I could somewhat pinpoint myself in the Arabian peninsula because I have some knowledge about the region and having played some EBII myself. For people who have no idea about the game or region I think it might be very difficult to know exactly where everything is in general and relative to Mun'at's position. This would indeed be solved by using a map, which is on its way. The glossary also helps a bit regarding to Ma'rib and the Sana with the reference to modern day Yemen. You could argue if it is really necessary to know, as the reader, where everything is in the world. But that is of course an entirely different discussion.

    What you could do, something most books do, is put a global map of the wider region at the front of your story and provide more detailed ones in chapters where you deem it necessary.

    Keep up the good work!
    Thanks Turkafinwe. I hope he does indeed become an interesting character, and has some chances to take part in some of the adventures.

    The map is now up, and pretty dang sharp (if I say so myself). I have also done it with GIMP and put each aspect of the map (wadis, mountains, settlements, political landscape) in different layers, so I can take certain things out for single maps if that is desired. So, if there is something in there that is getting in the way for you or that you think makes it too "busy", let me know. I will also be making insets for future installments that require more in-depth maps of smaller areas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Excellent. I like what you did there, and look forward to seeing more of Mubsamat and Wayyuq. Your style is top notch, especially your dialogue, the phrases you use are ingenious ('quarter turning of the moon', 'Ibrahim's lonely god', etc.).
    Tiny detail and you're the native (English) speaker, so I might be wrong here: Shouldn't it be "quarter (of a) turn of the moon" rather than "quarter turning of the moon"?
    Many thanks Cookiegod! I put a lot of effort into the "sound" of things (usually reading things out loud to myself and seeming like a crazy along the way ) and I'm glad it's appreciated. Regardin the phrase you mentioned, I think it works both ways, though it could be slightly more accurate to say it your way (it could also be just fine as is though). I'm not 100% sure which is "more correct" though, or if there is such a thing for these options, but I think I like the sound of the active phrase more. I will leave it as is for now, but I will think about it more.
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  13. #53

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 26]

    Tiny point to your map: You should put the legend (Malkut Ha'Nabati, etc.) in the map instead of under it as text. Est of Socotra you have enought ocean space to put a simple box and some legends in.

  14. #54

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 26]

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Tiny point to your map: You should put the legend (Malkut Ha'Nabati, etc.) in the map instead of under it as text. Est of Socotra you have enought ocean space to put a simple box and some legends in.
    That is the plan actually, to have a few different legends on separate layers that I can pull to the front when needed, but I didn't get that done yet, and I've still yet to find an outline for the legend area that I like. If you have any border designs that you think might fit nicely for going around the legend area, I'm all ears (maybe via pm though, to keep this thread more dedicated to the AAR itself).
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  15. #55
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 26]

    I'm enjoying this a lot! Like Cookiegod, I like your well-crafted phrasing. Your description of key characters is vivid. You've got me interested in Mubsamat's perceptions of the other peoples around her and her plans, in Wayyuq and the exiles of Banu Sulaym which he described, as well as the ominous, almost palpable fear in the air.

  16. #56

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 26]

    Another great update, and your writing is excellent as usual. This AAR gives off a rather sombre, solemn kind of vibe that I can't quite put my finger on, but it definitely helps in creating and conveying the atmosphere. Bravo! I cannot thank you enough for adding in the map, I was lost and clueless as to where this update was taking place in. The characters' language and choice of words are pretty archaic and suits your AAR well. As the annoying ass medieval 2 diplomats would say, "Please, continue with your suggestions." Just replace suggestions with updates and yeah you get the idea.

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  17. #57

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 26]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I'm enjoying this a lot! Like Cookiegod, I like your well-crafted phrasing. Your description of key characters is vivid. You've got me interested in Mubsamat's perceptions of the other peoples around her and her plans, in Wayyuq and the exiles of Banu Sulaym which he described, as well as the ominous, almost palpable fear in the air.
    Thanks Alwyn. As the story progresses and we become more familiar with the core set of characters I thought I would slowly add a few more. Hopefully there will be more development of them in the coming updates. At any rate, Mubsamat and her Saba' cohorts will feature somewhat prominently in many coming sections.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    Another great update, and your writing is excellent as usual. This AAR gives off a rather sombre, solemn kind of vibe that I can't quite put my finger on, but it definitely helps in creating and conveying the atmosphere. Bravo! I cannot thank you enough for adding in the map, I was lost and clueless as to where this update was taking place in. The characters' language and choice of words are pretty archaic and suits your AAR well. As the annoying ass medieval 2 diplomats would say, "Please, continue with your suggestions." Just replace suggestions with updates and yeah you get the idea.
    Thankd Swaeft. I'm getting them done as quickly as I can, but still trying to stick to my "once a week on Sundays" update policy. It also just takes me more time to get the ideas flowing and the sound of things right before I'm happy posting. I'm glad you find the tone sombre and solemn though. I like that feeling in writing and have been trying to get that through without being too heavy-handed. The next update will be downright dark, but I will try to lift things up in the following one, just to make sure it isn't all too down.
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  18. #58

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: August 26]

    Continued from Chapter 2 - Part II




    Chapter 2
    First Moves


    --------------------------------------------------
    (Part III)


    They approached Al-Hijr cautiously, taking two steps forward and then stopping to listen, but their straining ears detected no sounds of bustling markets or people about their business in the streets. There was nothing except the sighing of the wind through the narrow alleys, its melancholic chorus augmented by periodic cries from the crows lining every rooftop. Mun'at ordered the cavalry and archers to remain outside the settlement with their bows and blades at the ready as he and his captains entered with the spearmen and Harra tribals.

    They walked shoulder to shoulder down the packed-earth streets, the chill and emptiness of the place driving them to huddle together like children lost in the dark. As yet they had seen no single individual, nor sign of any fight or struggle for that matter, but something on the air whispered of evil and death in unmistakable tones; an overturned cart of smashed and fly-ridden fruits, a lost and orphaned children's toy, a scrap of finest wool trampled into the dust. They continued on, speaking only when necessary and then in hushed tones, for the oppressive still had infected them all.

    As the men neared the central square of Al-Hijr the deafening silence began slowly to lift, a low but insistent note rising with each step they took. Louder and louder it became, and by the time they turned into the open space at the town's center the noise had risen to a pitch that drowned all other sounds. They stepped into the plaza and a buzzing roar erupted as a million million flies alighted, revealing the missing inhabitants of Al-Hijr.

    Mun'at knew that the desert does not hold with the casual convenience of compartmentalized professionalism. As needs arise every man, woman, and child may act the soldier, farmer, or trader, the herdsman, smith, or spy, but there in that narrow square the will of lawless men had driven each and every individual to act as nothing more than a cornered animal. Stalls and tables had been hastily thrown on their sides and piled across every street and alley in a doomed attempt to forestall the inevitable. Perhaps it had given them time enough to prepare some final defense or say their last goodbyes, but eventually it had been breached, evil flying through the gap on bloody wings, and the results were a sight unfit for human eyes.

    Gazing on the square the men stood silent, paralyzed by horror, the younger among them falling to their knees and retching over the red-soaked earth. Slowly and solemnly and altogether alone Mun'at stepped forward, carefully picking his way through the maze of debris and death. He did not avert his gaze. He did not cover his nose and mouth to spare himself having to inhale the reek of mortality. With open eyes and trembling hands he walked forward to the well which lay at the bloody spectacle's heart. There, leaning against the crimson-stained stones along its lip, he found a man, perhaps thirty years old and with a closely cut beard. The man was covered in wounds, deep slashes across his arms and chest, but over the worst of these a clumsy bandage had been applied with care. A thin stripe of undyed linen was pressed into the widest gash, the rough cloth held in place by a girl who even in death would not leave her charge. She could not have been more than eleven or twelve, but she had watched this man, no doubt her father, die before her, and then the demons responsible had with cruel barbs shot her in her back, unwilling even to look on the face of their victim. Three feathered shafts lay buried deeply in her still form, dried blood spattered up their lengths.

    Silently Mun'at took the cloth from the wound and unwound it, and with that sanguine memento in hand returned to his men waiting at the plaza's edge. Without a word they turned about and exited the way they had come and once rejoined with the rest of the army began to widely skirt Al-Hijr's outer farms.

    It took them the better part of an hour to go around the village and when the vanguard turned south without a backward glance Haza'el spoke, breaking the pounding silence with a question. "Commander... Mun'at, what are we to do about the bodies?" he asked, gesturing toward the low mud and brick buildings behind them. Mun'at looked at him distractedly, his eyes slowly coming into focus, but he said nothing, seeming to not have heard Haza'el's words. "Commander," he began again, "what about the bodies?"

    Mun'at looked fixedly at his lap where the scarlet linen lay and he breathed deeply, considering Haza'el's question. "Leave them be." he answered finally, coldly, adding, "We are too close to Dedan to spend a day with our eyes on the dirt. Leave them."

    The assembled captains began to mutter to one another, distressed by the unfeeling tones of the man they thought they knew, and Rana'in gently took Mun'at aside. "Old friend, I know why your eyes are downcast" he said, "and why you would leave here so quickly, but we cannot abandon them to be pulled apart by carrion. Think on the men who walked with us through that pit of blood and death, on the terrors they too have seen this day. Do not ask them to walk forward knowing what it is that lurks behind."

    Mun'at raised his gaze to meet Rana'in's and the slightest of tremors shook him. His breath began to come ragged and short, his vision narrowing and teeth clenched, but Rana'in held him fast. Seeing the memories in his friend's eyes the old warrior spoke quietly. "I know." he said. "We will leave here and we will find them and we will make them pay. You have my word. But we must set things right before we begin that journey. Mun'at, tell your men what needs to be done."

    After another moment Mun'at straightened his back and shook off Rana'in's hands. "Thank you, old friend." he said. "You are, as always, right, and if you say that we will find them and make them pay then I will believe you and we can leave here in peace. But do not ask me to stay here longer than necessary." With a curt nod Rana'in graciously took a step back and Mun'at returned to the captains.

    "Commander, what of Al-Hijr?" Haza'el pressed again. "What are we to do?"

    Mun'at looked past the captains and soldiers to the settlement they had just left, and said "Burn it down. The rains will come again and wash their ashes into the land they paid so dearly to protect. Burn it."


    Mubsamat was again walking alone along the ramparts of the palace walls, absorbed in thought. Since resolving to ally herself with the Nabati she had become consumed with the problem of contacting the general of this army that daily moved closer. Her messengers could cross the lands of Ma'in, but to send them by that route with letters promising violence against the very same kingdom would be too great a risk. On the other hand, an envoy by sea would land far from the northern army's course, with the Hijaz standing between moreover, and by the time they had crossed the hills the Nabati might well have moved on. She would have to anticipate their course and be certain that her men would be waiting astride this foreign general's path.

    As she considered the possibilities a low rumble drew her gaze to the southern horizon where pillars of dark clouds clung greedily to the spreading curtain of mountains and hills. Already it had rained much this year and there was a fear running through the valley that the dam might burst. Mubsamat was not certain of that, but she did know that the rains were too often cutting her walks short and she had business to attend to that night.

    She continued watching the sky, half-daring the storm to come her way. However, it stayed its ground, seeming instead to be content with the company of peaks and gullies, but someone was approaching, the click of heels on stone growing steadily more distinct. Mubsamat turned and saw the captain of her personal guard coming toward her. He was a handsome man of the Yami tribe, and long ago she had made certain that he would be faithful to her wishes alone, rather than deferring to her foolish husband's commands. After so many eventful evenings together beneath the stars she knew his heart and hands belonged to her.

    "My Queen, you asked for me." he said with a half-nod as he arrived. Unsure of why he was called but perhaps hopeful he added, "Shall we retire to some quiet place?"

    "Not yet Tharin." Mubsamat laid a hand across his forearm and together they walked a short distance along the crest of the wall, moving away from the watchmen and petty lords who constantly milled about the ramparts. When finally she felt that they would not be overheard she stopped and turned to look him in the eyes. "Tharin, strongest and most faithful, you have heard the rumors of this army out of Edum." she said matter-of-factly, adding, "And I know you have heard how the nobles bicker about what is to be done." He nodded but said nothing, mindful of Mubsamat's wish to not be interrupted unduly. "Tharin," she continued, "I have not joined in their querulous councils because I know what is to be done, but I cannot see to it without your aid."

    "What would you have of me, my Queen?" he said without hesitation.

    "Tharin, take a company of trusted men from the bodyguards, men loyal to you and to myself, and take passage by sea to the independent coasts north of Ma'in. From there cross the hills to Bakkah* and wait for the Nabati force to arrive out of the north. When they do impress upon them their dire need for friends in the south and make clear that you and I and our followers can provide such friendship... if they will aid us when finally they come to Saba' lands." Mubsamat paused then and took Tharin's hand in hers. She squeezed gently, drawing him closer, and added, "It pains me to say this, but if they accept I would ask that you join their number and fight beside them, as a token of our goodwill. Would you do this for me Tharin, for us?"

    "My Queen, I am, as I have always been, yours to command, body and soul. I will do this."

    Mubsamat embraced him then and whispered in his ear "Come back to me. When I am truly queen I will need a true king beside me, and there is none other in this land but you. Come back to me. Come back and all of this will be ours." Tharin nodded silently and together they slipped down from the walls hand in hand in search of a quiet place beyond prying eyes.

    *Glossary

    *Mecca




    Continue to Chapter 2 - Part IV
    Last edited by Kilo11; February 04, 2019 at 03:46 PM. Reason: Added links
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  19. #59
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: September 2]

    A dark chapter indeed, but a very enjoyable one. Your description of the massacred town is superb and comes to life when I read it. Little details like the overturned cart of fruit or a children's toy are really touching and makes the scene more real to the mind's eye.

    Really a good chapter! +rep

    PS: You can be very proud about your map, it looks amazing!
    Last edited by Turkafinwë; September 06, 2018 at 12:20 PM.

  20. #60

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: September 2]

    A very vivid and haunting chapter, which clearly shows the horrors of war. As always your description is excellent and allows the readers to create very detailed images in their mind with regards to what you are trying to portray. I really cannot find much to critique - normally I'd suggest a chapter isn't complete without a picture or two, but the mood and setting you've created with words only seem to fit very well on their own, so it's all good. Maybe just a little update for the campaign map and other details from time to time would be good.

    Also, loving your new sig! Very nice image there.

    Edit: Reppy incoming! Once I can...

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