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Thread: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Oct 26]

  1. #401
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: May 16]

    Now that's a well-executed surprise! I hadn't realise where he was or how he would take advantage of the situation he created. This will be a test of loyaly, indeed.

  2. #402
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: May 16]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Now that's a well-executed surprise! I hadn't realise where he was or how he would take advantage of the situation he created. This will be a test of loyaly, indeed.
    Thanks Alwyn, and I'm glad the bait-and-switch worked! That to me was the sort of cleverness that Zaadi would have in mind, and I was doing my best to keep it close to the chest, so that the reader would be as surprised as Mubsamat will finally be when she finds out. But then I still wanted to show each character's progression, and have my usual level of description. That set a fun set of parameters for what had to be included, all the while with me making sure not to have concrete markers that tie Zaadi to a specific place.

    What comes next will definitely be intriguing, and will be unpleasant as well (as every civil war is).

    Unfortunately though, you guys are going to have to start waiting a bit between installments. I have only like three months before I have to hand in my PhD dissertation, and so that is the center of my writing and work time these days. I actually have a couple installments already written, but I always write by hand and then transcribe it later, and right now I don't even really have enough time to do transcription work. So there will be delays and pauses for the coming twelve weeks or so. But after that, I will be done with my PhD (and you may all call me "Doctor" ), and then I will be taking some time to do writing, and you guys will have all you could ever want to read!
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  3. #403
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: May 16]

    Yes, it worked brilliantly! I look forward to finding out what happens next - in the meantime, good luck with your PhD!

  4. #404
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: May 16]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Yes, it worked brilliantly! I look forward to finding out what happens next - in the meantime, good luck with your PhD!
    Thanks, Alwyn! I am actually making good progress. Still a good bit to do before I submit the final version (which happens beginning of September ), but things are coming along. To that end, I was actually not gonna post another update for a bit still, but then while perusing the other AARs, I noticed something here...


    We've reached over 100,000 views here!

    Many many thanks to all of you who have been reading, keeping up over the months, and by now, years. To those of you who comment, giving encouragement and feedback, and finding the typos too, you guys are all extraordinarily appreciated. And to those who just read and lurk, I love you lot too! Knowing that someone is interested is a big motivator for continuing with the story, and so seeing those views tick up after each post is really nice! And also, to the lurkers out there who maybe aren't even members of this site, do consider becoming a member! The Total War Center was founded to be a haven for gamers, but it has developed into a solid community, and is one of the nicest writers' communities out there. So if you want to have a friendly chat with writers, get tips for things you might want to do, or even post something you are proud of (or which you want feedback on), come on over! We love seeing new faces, and you're sure to get a good welcome!


    And now, in honor of you all, who have pushed this AAR to 100,000 views, here is the next installment!
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  5. #405
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: May 16]

    Continued from Chapter 11 - Part VII


    Dramatis Personae

    Nabati:

    Mun'at Ha'Qadri: General of the Nabati army, tasked with uniting the tribes of Arabia and subduing the Saba' confederations that control Arabia Felix.
    Shullai Ha'Maleki: Prince of the Nabati, riding south under Mun'at's command.
    Ravv'l Bikrum: Crown Prince of the Nabati. Currently governing the conquered settlement of Dedan.
    Malka Qnu: King of the Nabati, and leader of the united tribes.

    Rana'in: Elder warrior and long-time friend of Mun'at.
    Khalil: Raider under Mun'at's command, usually tasked with leading the cavalry and light skirmishers.
    Haza'el: Captain of the Nabati.
    Wayyuq: A spy and pathfinder in the service of the Nabati, but not of their tribe.

    Sabeans (Saba'):

    Mubsamat: Queen of the Saba' with ambitions to end the tribal rivalries that plague her people.
    Tharin: Captain of Mubsamat's guard, tasked with contacting the approaching Nabati on Mubsamat's behalf and bringing them over to her cause.
    Zaadi Il'Bayyin: Often referred to as "Lord of the Northpass", Zaadi is a Qayl (higher official) of the Saba', and the ringleader of a group of nobles arrayed against Mubsamat.
    Halik Il'Yakif: Landowner and noble of the Saba' who initially followed Zaadi's plans but has since been turned by Mubsamat.
    Far'am Rafshan: Half-Qatabani exile who was in league with Zaadi Il'Bayyin, until Zaadi killed him.
    Karab: Son of the Athtar Yazi' clan and great leader of the Hashidi warriors of the northern plateau. He is also in league with Zaadi against Mubsamat.
    Hasan: Deceased brother of Karab.



    Chapter 12
    Brother's Blood


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


    Nawfim stared out into the night, seeing nothing, and he let out a deep sigh of regret. He should have been with the army at Qarnawu, helping to destroy the rebel Zaadi, but instead he was overseeing the garrison of Ma'rib, 'protecting the city against any threat.' At least, that was what the Queen's captain, Tharin, had said when he gave Nawfim the command. Nawfim could not bring himself to be angry with Tharin, for the man had done his best to give the posting an air of honor and responsibility, but Nawfim knew it for what it was: a punishment.

    Thinking back on his crime, his jaw tensed, as it always did. He was attacked without cause in the night and had only defended himself. And lightly at that. How was he supposed to know the drunkard who had tried to strike him was a noble's son? How was he supposed to know that the sot would trip over himself like a fool, and then roll down a flight of stairs, breaking his arm? But whether it was just or not, once the clumsy arrogant oaf had come to himself, he had gone to his lordly father demanding some form of petty vengeance. And the old bastard had obliged, using his meager power to ensure that Nawfim would pay a price. And so here Nawfim was, watching an empty desert wile his brothers and cousins marched out to war. They would return as heroes, having made names for themselves, and he would still be just Nawfim. Untested, unblooded, and without honor.

    He turned to walk along the crest of the wall, to check the scattered watchmen and kick them back to wakefulness, when at the corner of his eye he thought he saw something move out on the plain. Probably a lost sheep out for an evening graze. Nawfim thought to himself dismissively. But then he noticed other shapes too, or at least, he thought he noticed others. In the stifling gloom it was impossible to say with certainty what one might be seeing out in the darkness, but Nawfim, his eyes narrowing in concentration, felt certain there was a slithering shadow deepening the honest hues of night.

    Turning his feet to the plain, he leaned against the parapet, his hands feeling the stored warmth of day slowly leaking from the stones. Nawfim squinted, and twisted his head this way and that in an effort to decipher what he had noticed. Here and there splashes of darkness would appear and vanish, but still he had not truly seen a thing. At least not a thing which might merit his raising the alarm. Especially not when the army of the Saba' was out winning glory while he stood watch. He would not make himself a laughing stock by ringing the midnight bells because some shepherd boy had lost his flock. And yet, he had seen something.

    Nawfim took long slow breaths and cupped his hands against the sides of his face, blocking out the glare of the nearby torches to allow his eyes to better pierce the night, and slowly the shade before him began to draw back. The clinging cloying black gained depth and shape, and Nawfim began to believe he was seeing men sneaking over the plain. The images were fleeting, moving in and out of sight. It was like sitting beneath a wide tree and trying to follow an eagle's flight; it would be so clear for a moment, and then be swallowed behind the branches, only to appear again a hand's breadth further in his field of view. But even with that passing clarity, Nawfim was becoming certain there was indeed something out there worth noticing. And then suddenly, a hand clapped against his back.

    With a start, Nawfim spun on his heel, finding standing behind him the old one-legged warrior Jabar. The graying man was smiling a devilish grin, seeming to relish in the young captain's embarrassment at being startled so, but after only a moment, Jabar spoke.

    "Come back to the fire, Nawfim. There is good roast lamb and the night is still long." he said kindly. Nawfim turned back to the dark plain, but he no longer saw any men there, only shadows. "Come." Jabar repeated. "You may return to watch the dark when I have told you a story or two. Come."

    Uncertainty briefly clawed its way through Nawfim's heart, but before he could protest, Jabar was leading him away from the parapet, toward the stairs that led down to the courtyard and the watchmen's cooking fires. And by the time they reached the first steps, the smell of smoke and sizzling meat had banished all trace of Nawfim's worries. After all, Zaadi was to battle the Queen's army at Qarnawu, and there was nothing outside Ma'rib to trouble the young captain.



    Continue to Chapter 12 - Part II
    Last edited by Kilo11; September 26, 2021 at 08:56 AM.
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  6. #406
    Derc's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: May 16]

    Well, I can only say it's good that I waited. I recently played 'Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt'. And while I dislike Assassin's Creed, the Discovery Tour is amazing. They really nailed the atmosphere of the desert. Played it during the usual summer days, of course, and while doing so, your story became very much present. So I finally read your updates. Oh, they delivered. Thank you. That was tasty. Onward to the usual text dump.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Chapter 10 (Part VI)
    But then again, Mubsamat herself was beyond rare, a fact she knew well, [...]
    If she was beyond rare, then she was well done. If she was even beyond that, then she was well roasted, or perhaps got burned. Great she knew that.
    Sorry. Couldn't contain myself. Great part.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Nothing stopping us except basic decency! Come on man; we will drink good whisky, and good whisky ought not be drank in such quantities. It is a waste of such excellence. But tell you what, we'll strike a compromise: I'll bring the good whisky over to Derc's, he can provide something to snack on, and you can bring some nice Belgian beer. I think I prefer a dubble rather than a triple.
    I still have some Wodka from myself and a wine from Cookiegod. Sounds like a plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinw View Post
    Nobody wants to see the baddies win.
    Well, I do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    The eastern sky was blooming more and more with the soft brightness of a Levantine rose, and Zaadi finally determined to forsake all remaining caution. He raised a hand, halting the men behind him, and he turned to face them. Each looked back at him, a cold determination lighting their eyes from behind, and Zaadi took a deep breath. He would shout rage and defiance into them, and they would make their final stand, riding the crest of dawn against their enemies. They would all die, but they could still cut a tale bloody and deep enough to mark them in the history of their people. Zaadi opened his mouth to speak [...]
    When I read this section, I listened to some AC ambient stuff...
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    ...to be precise, I hit the 56:50 mark, and it just matched perfectly with the rising tension of the scene. I completely lost myself in it. The music might have played a big role in it, but your great writing is what triggered it off. Huge kudos and a +rep for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    J.K. Rowling. Ugh. I am with that on that count dude. I tried reading Harry Potter in fifth grade, when it was all the hype, and I was the "right" age, and no part of me was interested. Granted, I had just (like, really just) finished reading the Lord of the Rings, and in comparison Harry Potter is honestly a freaking joke. But I even tried again a bit later, and was still very unimpressed. [...]
    My thoughts exactly. I was forced to watch the first part of HP in school. Was a nice chill day, but meh. Same with LotR. Turk might rip me apart, but I just couldn't get the hang out of that either. So I stayed neutral and watched how both fanbases ripped each others apart.

    The watchmen's fires atop the stone walls were reflected in Zaadi's eyes as he gazed hungrily upon Ma'rib. Mubsamat had emptied the city of its strength, leaving only a paltry garrison to protect it, and the Lord of the Northpass was ready to show her the error of her ways. The capital of the Saba' would be his.
    Well, that's quite some ninja move, and one that reminded me of the fact that you still play Med2. Who doesn't know the situation where you outflank the enemy army to take their settlement and laugh at them. Dunno if that happened to you, but it doesn't matter. It was a cool move by Zaadi. Tbh I had no idea he was this close to the Saba capital, though . Thrilled for the next part. Now we will see once more what kind of person he is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    So there will be delays and pauses for the coming twelve weeks or so. But after that, I will be done with my PhD (and you may all call me "Doctor" ), and then I will be taking some time to do writing, and you guys will have all you could ever want to read!
    Good luck with your PhD, (soon to be) Doctor Woods!

  7. #407
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: May 16]

    Congratulations on 100,000 views and good luck with getting the final version of your PhD ready!

    I'm sorry for not commenting before, I (wrongly) guessed that there wouldn't be an update for longer. I enjoyed the explanation of why Nawfim came to be commanding the garrison while others marched to the expected battle with Zaadi. Jabar's actions make me wonder if he's trying to be kind or if he's an agent of the enemy.

  8. #408
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: May 16]

    Hey team! Sorry for not getting around to responding the comments sooner, or to posting an update. Until the very end of August, I was very much busy with concluding things with my PhD thesis, and since handing it all in at the beginning of this month, I have just been decompressing my brain from the long crunch that was this past summer. I am hoping to properly get back into the swing of writing though, and to posting updates, so that we can find our way to the end of this winding tale through the desert (because believe it or not, I have another rollicking AAR planned!). To that end, I am going to try to get myself back onto a schedule of posting an update every two weeks or so, and it would also really help me if all of you readers would leave a comment! Seriously, anything you notice that could be improved, or anything you like and just want to point out; all comments are super helpful for motivation!

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Well, I can only say it's good that I waited. I recently played 'Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt'. And while I dislike Assassin's Creed, the Discovery Tour is amazing. They really nailed the atmosphere of the desert. Played it during the usual summer days, of course, and while doing so, your story became very much present. So I finally read your updates. Oh, they delivered. Thank you. That was tasty. Onward to the usual text dump.
    Seriously Derc, I love that you always wait till you've got the right atmosphere and whatnot. I find that awesome, and I know it definitely improves the overall impact of the story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    I still have some Wodka from myself and a wine from Cookiegod. Sounds like a plan.
    Yay! I could use a good night of boozing with friends. It's been a weird 18 months, and simply a night of drinking without thought for the morning would be so welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    When I read this section, I listened to some AC ambient stuff...
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    ...to be precise, I hit the 56:50 mark, and it just matched perfectly with the rising tension of the scene. I completely lost myself in it. The music might have played a big role in it, but your great writing is what triggered it off. Huge kudos and a +rep for that.
    Ooooh!. That is indeed a great combo! Nice suggestion, and that is an ambient track I will add to my Written in Sand writing playlist. My go to is the soundtrack for Black Hawk Down, especially the track "Gortoz a Ran", but it is always good to add something new to the old inspiration bank!

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    My thoughts exactly. I was forced to watch the first part of HP in school. Was a nice chill day, but meh. Same with LotR. Turk might rip me apart, but I just couldn't get the hang out of that either. So I stayed neutral and watched how both fanbases ripped each others apart.
    Well, I absolutely love LotR, so you'll have to your comments about that here as well But I never could understand the HP hype. I mean, hype about HP sauce maybe, especially with chips, but not hype about HP books.

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Well, that's quite some ninja move, and one that reminded me of the fact that you still play Med2. Who doesn't know the situation where you outflank the enemy army to take their settlement and laugh at them. Dunno if that happened to you, but it doesn't matter. It was a cool move by Zaadi. Tbh I had no idea he was this close to the Saba capital, though . Thrilled for the next part. Now we will see once more what kind of person he is.
    Well, this didn't straight happen in my game, but it reflects a mechanic that is present when you play Saba'. My game was as Nabati, but if you play as Saba', whenever you invade one of your neighbors of Himyar, Qataban, Hadramawt, or Zohar, an enemy stack appears at your doorstep. The idea is that the southern Arabian peoples had a fairly fragile set of alliances which bound them into a coalition of states, and attacking any one of them meant a fresh new enemy at your back door.

    Also, this seemed like such a very Zaadi thing to do. He uses the necessities of politics to force Mubsamat's moves, and then does something underhanded to try to sweep in and tie hands behind her back. It is clever, and it is the only way one could hope to beat such a larger force, to get the city and it's walls, and then force them to fight on your terms (while you have lots of potential hostages).

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Good luck with your PhD, (soon to be) Doctor Woods!
    Thank you kindly! Once the defenses are done and all is finalized, you can bet I will let everyone here know, and we will have a raucous (digital) party!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Congratulations on 100,000 views and good luck with getting the final version of your PhD ready!

    I'm sorry for not commenting before, I (wrongly) guessed that there wouldn't be an update for longer. I enjoyed the explanation of why Nawfim came to be commanding the garrison while others marched to the expected battle with Zaadi. Jabar's actions make me wonder if he's trying to be kind or if he's an agent of the enemy.
    Thanks Alwyn! 100,000 views is a cool milestone to have reached, and one I was happy to see crossed. As to your expectation about the delay till the next update, you were totally right, just one update early Cause now that delay has come with a vengeance. But hopefully I'll be back on the ball from now on out, and you guys will get your regular fixes of desert war!




    And now, without further ado, we continue our tale!
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  9. #409
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: May 16]

    Continued from Chapter 12 - Part I


    Dramatis Personae

    Nabati:

    Mun'at Ha'Qadri: General of the Nabati army, tasked with uniting the tribes of Arabia and subduing the Saba' confederations that control Arabia Felix.
    Shullai Ha'Maleki: Prince of the Nabati, riding south under Mun'at's command.
    Ravv'l Bikrum: Crown Prince of the Nabati. Currently governing the conquered settlement of Dedan.
    Malka Qnu: King of the Nabati, and leader of the united tribes.

    Rana'in: Elder warrior and long-time friend of Mun'at.
    Khalil: Raider under Mun'at's command, usually tasked with leading the cavalry and light skirmishers.
    Haza'el: Captain of the Nabati.
    Wayyuq: A spy and pathfinder in the service of the Nabati, but not of their tribe.

    Sabeans (Saba'):

    Mubsamat: Queen of the Saba' with ambitions to end the tribal rivalries that plague her people.
    Tharin: Captain of Mubsamat's guard, tasked with contacting the approaching Nabati on Mubsamat's behalf and bringing them over to her cause.
    Zaadi Il'Bayyin: Often referred to as "Lord of the Northpass", Zaadi is a Qayl (higher official) of the Saba', and the ringleader of a group of nobles arrayed against Mubsamat.
    Halik Il'Yakif: Landowner and noble of the Saba' who initially followed Zaadi's plans but has since been turned by Mubsamat.
    Far'am Rafshan: Half-Qatabani exile who was in league with Zaadi Il'Bayyin, until Zaadi killed him.
    Karab: Son of the Athtar Yazi' clan and great leader of the Hashidi warriors of the northern plateau. He is also in league with Zaadi against Mubsamat.
    Hasan: Deceased brother of Karab.



    Chapter 12
    Brother's Blood


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


    Huddled behind a low shrub with a half-dozen other men, Zaadi slowly raised his head above the bristling twigs and shaking leaves. The man on the wall had been looking straight at them, gazing with an intensity that worried Zaadi, but then the guard had turned away and walked away casually, easily. There seemed no fear or apprehension that Zaadi could see, and the bells and voices of Ma'rib remained still. It could be a trap, a trick to lure him closer, into bow range, but Zaadi doubted that. Such cleverness could be assumed of Mubsamat, or her dog Tharin, but the dregs they had left at Ma'rib would not have it in them to act with such cunning. No. Zaadi and his men had not been seen, and their task could still be attained.

    Zaadi cupped his hands around his mouth and gave a low call in the voice of a night-owl, and suddenly his men appeared from behind every rock and bush, from out of every ditch and gully. As one, they closed on the city, slithering through the night like coils of smoke, following any deeper darkness that might be found. His eyes locked on the crest of the city's walls, Zaadi moved with them, expecting at any moment to again see the guardsman's face peering down at him, to hear the alarms sounded. After that it would be only a moment before arrows rained across the plain. With nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, that would be the end for him. A sad and inglorious death in the dark of night, killed by boys and lamed old men who had been left behind so as not to slow Mubsamat's army. A bad death.

    His jaw tensing and releasing uncontrollably, Zaadi quickly looked left and right. All along the wall's length his soldiers were tightening the noose, crossing the final distance with care, but also with what seemed a trace of eagerness, perhaps even excitement for what was to come. In an earlier time, such deeds would have seemed unthinkable, cause for nothing but shame; to shed brother's blood, to kill Saba', and in the heart of their nation. It was a crime not worth considering. But the Hashidis and Houthis no longer saw those in the city as brothers. They had lost their claims to kinship when they stood by the false queen, when they failed to throw that whore out onto the street for daring to set herself upon the blood-hued sandstone throne. In the men beside him, Zaadi could see it; deep down in their souls, they had become strangers to the guardsmen atop the walls, and strangers might do much violence in the dark of night.

    With a last burst of speed, Zaadi slid into the deeper shadows at the base of the wall, and he then stood perfectly still. In through his nose and out through his mouth, he breathed slowly, calming his heart and lungs. For perhaps a minute he continued so, until finally the rushing air in his throat and the pounding blood in his ears quieted. As they did, he began to mark the softer tones of night which encircled him and his men; the distant nightsong of birds in the palace gardens, the quiet crying of a child in a nearby house, and the rich tapestry of murmurs and sighs that rose from the sleeping city. Yet overlaid on that soothing melody were other sounds too, the rhythmic stamp of the watchmen's feet on the walls above, and the rattle of their armor, the coughs and the jokes that betrayed their passing of other men. Zaadi strained to hear them all, slowly turning his head this way and that to determine just how many were waiting for him above.

    The minutes stretched long while Zaadi waited, and bit by bit his confidence grew. There were men above, some alert, many clearly not, judging by their dragging heels, but from the scattered sounds it was clear the queen had left few to guard the city. In her eagerness to destroy Zaadi, she had emptied Ma'rib of its strength, doing exactly as he knew she would. Now was the time. Now was his chance to take the heart of Saba', freeing his nation from the queen's clawing grip.



    Continue to Chapter 12 - Part III
    Last edited by Kilo11; October 26, 2021 at 02:59 PM.
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  10. #410
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Sep 26]

    Nicely done! Your writing conveys well the experience of Zaadi and his men as they listen for any alarm and expect arrow fire at any moment, fearing a bad death. It looks as if Zaadi's plan is working - I wonder how Nafwin and Jabar will react when they discover what's happening. I'm still wondering whose side Jabar is really on.

  11. #411
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Sep 26]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Nicely done! Your writing conveys well the experience of Zaadi and his men as they listen for any alarm and expect arrow fire at any moment, fearing a bad death. It looks as if Zaadi's plan is working - I wonder how Nafwin and Jabar will react when they discover what's happening. I'm still wondering whose side Jabar is really on.
    Thanks, Alwyn! It is a tense moment, trying to sneak attack a city, and I am glad some of that transferred well in the writing.



    @Derc: Thanks for mentioning the AC: Origins music above! For the longest time my go-to music for getting in the writing zone was the Black Hawk Down soundtrack, in particular the song "Gortoz a Ran". I still love that soundtrack, and that song in particular, but the AC: Origins stuff is beautiful, and a nice change of pace to something more level and smooth for my writing soundtrack! It is really helping me to get my head back to a good place for writing more regularly, and for that, I must thank you! Just one more beer I owe you, I guess.

    And now, the fight continues!
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  12. #412
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Sep 26]

    Continued from Chapter 12 - Part II


    Dramatis Personae

    Nabati:

    Mun'at Ha'Qadri: General of the Nabati army, tasked with uniting the tribes of Arabia and subduing the Saba' confederations that control Arabia Felix.
    Shullai Ha'Maleki: Prince of the Nabati, riding south under Mun'at's command.
    Ravv'l Bikrum: Crown Prince of the Nabati. Currently governing the conquered settlement of Dedan.
    Malka Qnu: King of the Nabati, and leader of the united tribes.

    Rana'in: Elder warrior and long-time friend of Mun'at.
    Khalil: Raider under Mun'at's command, usually tasked with leading the cavalry and light skirmishers.
    Haza'el: Captain of the Nabati.
    Wayyuq: A spy and pathfinder in the service of the Nabati, but not of their tribe.

    Sabeans (Saba'):

    Mubsamat: Queen of the Saba' with ambitions to end the tribal rivalries that plague her people.
    Tharin: Captain of Mubsamat's guard, tasked with contacting the approaching Nabati on Mubsamat's behalf and bringing them over to her cause.
    Zaadi Il'Bayyin: Often referred to as "Lord of the Northpass", Zaadi is a Qayl (higher official) of the Saba', and the ringleader of a group of nobles arrayed against Mubsamat.
    Halik Il'Yakif: Landowner and noble of the Saba' who initially followed Zaadi's plans but has since been turned by Mubsamat.
    Far'am Rafshan: Half-Qatabani exile who was in league with Zaadi Il'Bayyin, until Zaadi killed him.
    Karab: Son of the Athtar Yazi' clan and great leader of the Hashidi warriors of the northern plateau. He is also in league with Zaadi against Mubsamat.
    Hasan: Deceased brother of Karab.



    Chapter 12
    Brother's Blood


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


    On the other side of the wall, down a flight of steps and nestled in a narrow courtyard, there burned a small fire. The lamb that had been roasted over it was already carved and parceled out, Nawfim holding a dripping foreleg in one hand, a thin loaf of unleavened bread in the other. Nawfim took a bite of each in turn, and smiled. Old one-legged Jabar was telling one of his stories, recalling when he had crossed the narrow sea to the land of the Aithiopians. Nawfim had heard the tale before, and he knew he'd be laughing before Jabar had gotten even halfway through. The old man had lost his leg in that adventure, yet still he could weave jokes from his miseries, find some humor in his pains. It was Jabar's gift.

    Nawfim continued to eat and listen, forgetting his earlier worries as he'd stood looking out into the night, thinking he saw enemies in every shadow, when suddenly there came a muffled cry from the walls, followed by a crash of armor. The watchmen left to guard Ma'rib were mostly old men and boys, and as likely as not, one had tripped over his own spear and fallen. At least, that was Nawfim's first dismissive thought. Then he saw Jabar's eyes widening in horror as the old man looked to the walls.

    Dropping his meal and grabbing his spear in one smooth motion, Nawfim spun away from the fire, turning to the flight of steps leading up to the parapet. But it was no use. The night was dark, the walls only slightly less so, and Nawfim's vision had been momentarily ruined by sitting at the watchmen's fire. He could see the stair's bottom steps, but the crest was a swirling mass of blackness broken by the lingering starbursts behind Nawfim's eyes, the afterglow of the flames he had only just turned away from.

    He could not see what was happening atop the walls, but Nawfim knew the rising sounds of mortal combat, knew the thick reek of spilled blood. He could not se their forms, but he knew there were men there, enemies beginning to cut their way through his garrison, into his city, the city he had been tasked to protect.

    Still half-blinded, Nawfim felt the hairs on his neck rise, and trusting to instinct, he crouched low and brought his long shield up before him. In an instant it shuddered -- once, twice, three times -- as arrows hit it. The last iron-tipped shaft came with such force that it punched all the way through the thick wood wrapped in hardened leather. Poking through above his wrist, the arrow seemed to be leering at him, and Nawfim stared back at the barbed head, transfixed by the metal flashing crimson in the reflected light of the fire. Nawfim had no idea who had invaded his city, but whoever it was, they had tried to kill him. Refusing to stand in the light of day, they had crept upon Ma'rib like thieves, and now they thought to kill Nawfim, without even giving him the honor of looking into his eyes as they did so, giving him a chance to defend himself. The audacity, the gall, it should have enraged Nawfim, but staring on that merciless point of iron he felt cold and irretrievably sad and alone.

    A long cry of pain came from the walls, tearing Nawfim back to himself in an instant. With rising boldness, he peeked around the side of his long shield, only to be rewarded for his efforts with another thin flurry of arrows, driving him back to his small refuge. He was trapped. In the fleeting image he had gained of the wall's crest, he had seen only a handful of men, but all of them had been looking at him, staring down into the courtyard with strung bows or bloody spears. And if all of them had their gazes fixed on him, that could mean only one thing: they had taken the walls completely. The enemy, whoever they were, had routed Ma'rib's first line of defense, and in that moment Nawfim was the only thing keeping them in place, holding them from the city and the palace-citadel at its center. He was trapped, but as long as he had his spear and shield and the strength to use them, they were trapped too. If he could just hold them there for a time, maybe someone would be able to bring help, to alert the palace garrison of the danger climbing into Ma'rib. Nawfim just had to hold, and perhaps they could still drive the demons back over the battlements, and crush them into the dirt.



    Continue to Chapter 12 - Part IV
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  13. #413
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Oct 26]

    Nawfim's instincts have saved him for now, but his situation seems hopeless, unless someone arrives very soon. Good update!

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