News Turn 1 - At the Midwinter of 1186

We see out now this year of 1186 at this time and the Covenant of Peace is called in the precincts of the former palace of Cleopatra on the sea frontage of Alexandria. Great calamities and joys have been seen in this past year in equal measure and now we look to see what may be done to consider those futures that the great and the good may make for all of the rest of us.

News in the world of Crusade! is distributed by two major methods - from the pulpit and through private letters. Much is passed on to populations at large by priests and imams (though information often corrupted and inflamed). More is passed on by private correspondents, who write letters to the rich and important, describing the major news and events of their area, for which they are paid a small fee by the recipients. All are assumed to have access to the latter and naturally hear news of the former.

The Disappearance of King Baldwin V

From a letter of Cardinal de Tartars’ to the Vatican

“The party, a feast of indulgence and immorality, was a fitting setting for the disappearance of the innocent boy King. No doubt one of the many Infidels inexplicably invited was responsible for his kidnapping. Perhaps they have even conspired together to bring down the throne of Jerusalem. I have no doubt that the Military and Monastic Orders will be able to locate the perpetrators and put them to the sword but the retrieval of the boy, alive, seems less certain.”

Extracts from a missive from the Byzantine Ambassador to the Court of Jerusalem

“The repercussions of this night will be great indeed and I fear for the stability of the Holy Land. The rage of the Regent was terrible to behold when he discovered the king had been abducted and I fear he may order an attack on the lands of the Arabs without pause for thought or wise council…I am not privy to all affairs of state but I trust that none of our agents were involved in this matter…there would be much leverage to be gained in locating the Boy before the Crusaders…”

Conversation between two of Saladin’s representatives in Jerusalem

“I heard the Boy vanished while his drunken whore of a mother paraded herself before the men of the boy’s court.”

“Ha! And where will his court be now without their bedwetting king to lead them? No doubt they will tear at each other like dogs for his invaders crown.”

“Yes, and while they fight for that bauble their borders will be undefended…their loyalties divided…their kingdom weak.”

“Indeed. We should leave here at once. It will not be long before they look about them for one of the true faithful to blame for this.”

“I will organise our convoy at once…and are you so sure we are not to blame?”

A note from one of Queen Sibylla’s Ladies in waiting

“Her majesty is quite beside herself with grief and barely emerges from her rooms, even to attend Court. Lord Raymond came to visit her yesterday and I heard her screaming at him about his failure to protect her Son. The Regent emerged looking even angrier then he has been of late.”

Papal Bull


The Supreme pontiff of the Universal Church of Jesus Christ hereby decrees the man known as Jean Ricard, formerly the Cardinal of Bordeaux, to be anathema and a blasphemer against the Holy Church. He has dared to reject the authority of the Holy See and in so doing damned himself in the sight of the Lord. Any layman who dares to shelter this heretic shall be cast from the Mother Church and any ordained minister who communes with him shall answer to God and the Papal Inquisition.

Furthermore it has come to the attention of the Holy See that the man known as Mathieu Belibaste of Languedoc has declared himself an enemy of Christ and a servant of Satan. He has inveighed the sovereignty of God and denounced the divinity of our Lord Christ. A follower of the arch-heretic Nicetas he seeks to pervert the faithful with the lies of Catharism. Let him be turned from the door of every true Christian man and woman.

I hereby grant my Vassal, Cardinal de Tartarts, full authority in this matter and delegate to her the power of the Holy See to ensure God’s good and just retribution is brought down upon these heretics.

The Actions of a Tyrant

A petition awaiting a hearing at the Royal Court in Jerusalem.

And in his keep at Arce Philip of Jerusalem sits and counts the gold and silver he wrings from the nobles of the Holy Land.

For what purpose does he make beggars of barons and leave the populace in squalor? Why it is to build a great army and no less than an army that sits and eats and drinks for most of the year. Chews upon the fat of the land and gives nothing back. For these levies do not return to their farms and lands when the battle is won but instead continue to drink down the gold of their lord. The master of Acre then is like a farmer that sows not fields but harvests only.

For what purpose does he build this army? It is not to meet the invasion of the infidels, for then every noble should march to his call. And it is not to seek out the infidel and win back lands lost to your kingdom for it does not march at all. This is the army of a tyrant so afraid of his people that he must surround himself with shields.

Tall tales from the deepest reaches of Africanus

A tanned and vigorous young man, calling himself Vespasian, has been seen around various cities earning his bed and board with his tales of what lies beyond the Sultanate of Egypt in that dark continent.

”… And so I came upon a holy place carved, nay hewn from the very ground, where one had to walk down passage and stairwell before one was could again see the light of the sun a whole 50 feet below the surface! In front of me stood an enormous entrance, of that very same red rock and this glorious Church seemed to fill the pit; in which it seemed only God's hand could have placed it. The dynasty of the Zagwe have protected it long for it is said that it is through and from this place that Prester John and his righteous armies will emerge, having come from deep in the South. This place is named for the Saint that was George and I saw with my own eyes the bones of the Dragon he had slain, laid out upon the floor of a cave to the east of the Bet Giorgis at Lalibela.

The King, of the same name as the city, is said to be guarded by bees and an army as numerous as those beasts and he watches the cataracts of Egypt with care, awaiting the greed of Salad bin to get the better of his ability to rule - for we all know that when he meets a true Christian, such as the late king, in battle then he is defeated by the power of our God!”

Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din issues a proclamation

With the first Winter Meeting under the Peace of the Covenant recently finished, messengers begin to arrive across the known world, bearing a decree from the Emir of Damascus.

“People of Anatolia, of the Kingdoms of the Crusaders, of all of Araby and the lands beyond, The City of Damascus welcomes all scholars to its libraries. God has gifted much knowledge to man, and it is right that it should be shared. And so let men and women of all faiths and walks of life be welcome in the city's libraries and universities. And it is with good faith that I allow pilgrims of all creeds free and safe passage into the city, as I understand the importance this city has in the eyes of many faithful. Exchange your ideas and be free with knowledge. In good faith, Al-Afdal Salah ad'Din, Emir of Damascus and Vassal to his greatness the Sultan Salah ad'Din of Egypt and Syria.”

Armenian Raiders Routed! The Glorious Horn Celebrates!

From a letter written by Unsplerous Phyloppsius, Horeiarios of the Theme of Thracia addressed to Helacori Maximus, Praetor of the Theme of Hellas

“For months it seems that bandits and blaggards of ostensibly Armenian roots have danced back and forth between Seljuk and Byzantine Empires robbing and looting settlements, caravans and even a remote garrison or two, though it should be noted that the it is the Byzars who have had the worst of it by some way in the last year or so but now it shall no longer be the case! At last it seems that some heroes of our people have step forward and led a valorous expedition that has rendered the threat no more, crushing at last the wilful disobedience that these Armen have shown again and again.

An action led by the rather infamous General Lucius Aprenos and aided by the one they call Loxos of the Golden Tusk resulted in the the vanquishing of the veritable army that has plagued our holdings in Asia Minor even though the good General appears to have been carousing with some encamped troops when the vital action took place and his trusted right hand man, ?, ambushed the Brigands that were attempting to out run the amazing herd of elephant at the command of Loxos. It is said that but two men, three ponies and one dog escaped the trap that had been so expertly laid.

Many with the Golden Horn itself hoped that the Emperor would declare a day of feasting for such a return to the glories of the past but it is widely acknowledged that the comments of one or two of his court that have spoken on the matter is correct, that the defeat of a few rogues, while good news, is not of the scope that would be required to generate the Emperor's favour to such an extent that a celebration would be declared. The Most Esteemed and Sublime Throne looks for greater successes in the future that would be more appropriate for such an act of beneficence.”

In him the Knightly Virtues Resplendent

From a letter by Sir William of Canterbury on pilgrimage in the Holy Land.

… and this knight, though he be not of the True Church be undoubtedly a Christian, and I believe he be all that a knight might be. For not only did he show his sword most brightly in the tournament here recently held, but he do make a great showe of virtue and by his showe do inspire others to likewise showe. He has been much seen in the streets of Jerusalem performing acts of charity and exhorting the people of the city to the example of our Lord and Saviour. And first from the pulpits of the few Orthodox Churches (though the name be a lie for they do not hew to the guidance of our holy father in Rome) permitted here, and then from the True Church has come a message of peace. I hear tell that even the priest of the Infidels, lost to God and decency they be, do copy some of the words of their betters and make the same pleas, though faith I know not whether such hearts and heads can understand.

Sir Pyotr has gone amongst the Jews and beggars too. For he does say that the Jews are not to be made to suffer more in this world, for such would be a sin, and intead to be judged by our Holy Father in the next. Instead we should show them compassion and charity for they exist in a poverty of the spirit and soul as much do the beggars of the city want for food and copper coins. It seems the beggars do the same for I have seen them lately show that kindness to the Jews in the ghettos…

Damascus Hospital attacked by Hospitallers!

A missive from Physician Omar Khyyum to his brother Akbar Khyyum, a trader of some reknown.

“And there can be no other explanation for it than the jealousy that those non believer s hold in their hearts! Not only did they steal into the hospital in whcih so much good work has been done in Damascus and where much progress had been made in so many aspects of physik, but they did steal texts, salves, potions and even people from the environs and attempted to set the city alight so as to make good their escape. All saw they were christians and some say that some where of the Order of St John, an order we were given to understand respected charity and humility though on this occasion it lacked either and instead had murder and sin upon its heart. But worse is yet to come!

Not only did they do all this but one of their number, said to be the one known as Donatien Alfonse Desgranges of Béziers stole a most scared and valuable texts, one of those that dealt with the arcane art of alchemy and the greatest of it's mysteries! And those others who made good their escape did so upon the back of a giant bird into which one of their number had transformed to enable their egress. While it is not known who this was it should be marked that the great and noble Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din, may the blessings of the Prophet be upon him, took up his bow and did, from the highest tower in our city, let fly a single arrow that did pierce the backside of this giant bird and cause it to shriek in pain such that the entire city heard it's cry! It is said though that one of their number was taken and that the truth will out!

Mark the man who may not sit down for it may be he who has caused such harm against such a place of peace as a hospital!

The Laughing Knight

Testimony of Naif Na'il on her arrival in Alexandria

As we headed for Alexandria we found him fallen amongst the scree slopes of the pass at Umm Hileiqa. We thought at first he was dead; so skeletal was his frame and so bloody his ragged tabard. However as we moved closer we saw that he yet lived and breathed, though barely. Matta carried him to the caravan and we thought to take him to Alexandria and claim what bounty we might from the authorities there.

Throughout the following night and day of travel he lay unconscious and although we dripped honeyed water into his throat we could elicit no response from him. As we sat around the fire the following night telling the stories of the desert Seyd recounted the tale of the Camel and the Imam’s wife causing much hilarity. As our mirth subsided we heard another’s laughter; shrill, continuous and full of madness. We rushed to the caravan and found the man, his eyes fixed straight ahead, laughing and laughing. The terrible sound drowned out the stillness of the desert and reverberated back upon us so that it seemed magnified a hundred fold. So eerie was the effect that some of the more skittish of our group began to fear that the man had called some evil Djinn to haunt us. We should have heeded them.

At last he stopped, lapsing back into sleep, and we decided to wait until light to determine if we would carry him further towards the city. I slept little more than an hour before I heard the scream. Hisham had been on watch and as I rushed to the edge of the firelight I found him with his throat torn out and scrabbling in the dirt with his last breaths. The rest of the group joined me in time to see him die. Perhaps we might have blamed a jackal or lion but then the laughter started anew. Matta, always the bravest of us, drew his blade and headed for the caravan that held the stranger. To our surprise he lay where we had left him, unmoved since we last attended to him and in his ruined state it was hard to believe he could have stirred even if he had desired it. As Matta climbed into the caravan the laughter stopped as suddenly as it had started and the man whispered something, though I did not hear it. Matta leaned in closer to catch the words and too late did I notice the gleam of fresh blood on the tabard.

He moved with a speed I did not think possible and in an instant had sunk his fingers into Matta’s eyes, his teeth tearing at the big man's face pulling away great chunks of flesh. As the other men unsheathed their weapons he hurled away the big man and rising began once more his terrible laugh, now lubricated with the blood of my friends. It took the death of two more of us to subdue him. He fought with a terrible strength; tearing the arm of Yahya from it socket and shattering my cudgel in his fist. Even after we had severed his hand and wounded him gravely enough to slay any normal man he came on: breaking Harun’s neck as the boy tripped on a stone. Only when I took up Matta’s fallen blade and cut away the side of the monsters head did he fall and cease his hellish laughter.

Only two of our number made it to Alexandria. We left the others in the desert. We found nothing on the corpse of the fiend except a faded map with a single city marked upon it: Ma'arrat al-Numan.

Apamea restored to the Holiest of Kingdoms!

A homily delivered by Bishop Flambard within the Holy Seplechure

“With Great fanfare our heros have returned, the garrisons of Jerusalem and Acre as well as the Military Orders, having won a great vitory at Apamea and driven the accursed Arab scum from within our very holy land. No more shall their heathen ways taint this most sacred of places and it is through the great works of the likes of Philip of Jerusalem, Michael of Bethlehem, Henry of Gloucester, Raymond de Forcalquier and Gerard de Ridefort that thw whole of our kingdoms shall be recovered again and the ascension of all of the world shall begin. They rode forth with the True Cross amongst their rans and nothing could stand int heir way, such was their faith and the will of God. It took but moments for the walls of the city to tumble before the stride of Michael of Bethlehem and for Raymond to then defeat the evil Emir who had stolen the ity from its righteous guardians. And when confronted by the horrors of the barbarians of Islam then the great Henry of Gloucester did put all those who stood against the lord to the sword, maing sure that God himself would be able to judge their fate!”

Prince Basarab the Just

A letter from an ambassador to the kingdom of Wallachia

“Prince Basarab has personally intervened in the fate of a Jewish settlement on the banks of the Milcov river. The situation was tense, with angry locals threatening to burn the village to the ground and I suspected that the Jews would be massacred within the week. However with the subtle use of diplomacy and the stationing of his knights around the region the Prince has been able to calm tensions between the Jews and those of the Orthodox faith. The Prince seems more adept then I had at first thought, perhaps Wallachia will survive longer then we expected…”

Second Year of The Mantykori

More fast-Travelling Guard speeches from Baghdad:

”…PLEASE stay in your homes! The deadliness of the Jackal attacks cannot be underestimated! All you need to do is lock your doors and barricade your windows! The smell of that mysterious burning Hell-pile of Infernal Carcasses must have summoned them here. We admit the beasts are organized, but despite Muntasir's stories, there is no proof that there is a “Jackal She-Witch Queen” controlling them! Not even that orphan girl we took in last ye– THAT'S NOT THE POINT! STAY IN YOUR HOMES! THESE ARE THE FOOTSOLDIERS OF THE DEVIL MANTYKORII, AND BY ALLAH WE WILL PROTECT OUR CITY AGAINST THEM!”

As well as an uprise in Wild-Dog attacks, rumours have spread of Harpies, Land Sharks, The Walking Dead, River Pigs, Bone Giants, and something described as “The Great Satan's Flacid Ivory Shaft”
Since last year, 53 men have been reported missing, having left to kill the Manticore.

General Karantenos in the Balkans

Extracts from a speech by General Makis Karantenos, as recorded by a scribe accompanying the army, later distributed from Constantinople.

”… to come to these Imperial lands, from ancient times Roman, though often threatened by our many enemies. Now I lead you all to fight again against these rouges and bandits, who would challenge the authority, might and safety of the Roman Empire…

… and know, that though they defy the Peace of the Empire, they also set themselves against the rule of the Emperor, and thus defy the Anointed of Our Lord, and so defy the Almighty Lord God himself…

… their actions no better because of all this than any infidel that our Empire may face…

… nor since the time of Velentinian… … the campaigns of Belisarius against the Goths…”

The Religious Tensions of Jerusalem Reduced, A Calm Arises

Item on Jerusalem from a letter distributed by Kuftan al-Rhumi, residing in the Holy Land.

“The tensions of Jerusalem, meanwhile, have ground to a halt these past few months. Though the Muslims, Eastern Christians and Jews felt the threat of the cruelties that might be set upon them, we are glad to see a Peace descend. Even if it last only a short while, there is time for the useless Latins to consider that they might lose the precious city altogether.

There are many who put their voice to the peace and tolerance of the faiths, such as the knight of George Pyotr Loria and a learned man of theology Jacob. A pope of the Latins, one Jean Ricard also put in many speeches for the toleration of the Jews, too kindly than they deserve, and one more Latin priest, Mathieu Belibaste is said to have helped keep the peace…

…though one other man most notable for acting against the peace comes to mind. One day, the Latin Praeceptor Abelard called for an all-night fast and Vigil and in the morning all manner of calls for violence were heard from him. He raised a rabble of the Latins and called them to act against the heathens and heretics of the city…”

Catharism Spreads in Jerusalem

From a sermon given by a Catholic priest in Jerusalem.

“Now these beliefs come here, to our most Holy City, and threaten to corrupt all Christians from within. It is true that the many beggars of the city now espouse the beliefs of the Cathars, this plague having spread to them from far-off France…

…and such heresies, as others, cannot be allowed to spread, or take greater root amongst our congregations. Whoever does spread these damned words must be called to answer for their crimes.”

Similar sermons have been preached across Jerusalem.

Healing and Teaching

An account by the priest of the parish of Birra, writing to the Bishop of Jerusalem:

… the day begins with the selection of the first student to open the Bible. In some schools the student is chosen by lot, and so too even the page, so that God's voice through his Holy Book might give such wisdom as will serve them best. At others it is an honour to be won by skill at scribing or understanding. A page is copied and then passed to the next student that they might make their own copy and so to the next pair and in this manner in but a few months are several copies of the Holy Book made and students educated in the wisdom of the Lord. Even the poorest of peasants may receive an education in Latin and the skill to scribe at one of these hedge schools founded by Friar Gregory

Extract from a letter in reply

… for it is my worry that the teachers in such schools may seek to usurp the authority of the ordained priests of the most Catholic Church or even, through ignorance or malice of any sort, lead their students into heresy…

On the Errors of the Papal Legate

From a much-repeated speech given by the Cathar Mathieu Belibaste, though to whom it was first delivered has become lost in the retelling.

”… rage and contempt fill her! I say to you that Cardinal Arabelle de Tartarts has long since surrendered to the twin sins of wrath and pride, and her words and her prayers alike are tainted. If you listen to her, if you let her words into your heart, then they will taint your soul as surely as sin has tainted hers. Beware! For anger and hate, the anger and hate she seeks to inflame, will sully your immortal soul and distance you too from Heaven. She is unfit for her position and its authority. I have witnessed this for myself, with my own eyes and my own ears.”

Horde from The East

A letter from the Border guard of Khwarezm, “Persia”

”…of their recently cured Ambassador. Further more, lights have been seen in the distant East. Great Celebratory Bonfires. Taboo Markers and Warning Lights. Our banditry problems have ceased, great swathes of thieving families found riddled with arrows and trampled underhoof. There is a form of chivalry here: justice upheld, borders acknowledged. Their gifts of green rock have been accepted and their rights approved. But soon they will spread. There are too many of them to simply be an are army. They are a burgeoning expansion, tearing at the seems. They see our land, and call it theirs-to-be. The Eastertners are watching from upon their horses. Soon the Horde will be upon us.”


  • Baldwin was kidnapped by Saladin's spies
  • Rumour has it that Al-Afdal's manly jawline is the talk of the Empire, with many diplomats seeking vainly to emulate it.
  • Rumour also has it that The great Sultan Salah ad'Din is a fierce and noble warrior who can out-run a horse and out-roar a lion.
  • Baldwin was kidnapped by Queen Tamar's black clad eastern mercenaries
  • Rumour also has it that The great Sultan Turgal III is a fierce and noble warrior who can out-roar a horse and out-run a lion.
  • Lots of thistles in the roads this year
  • Baldwin was kidnapped and eaten by the Antipope
  • Lots of laughter heard in Georgia this year
  • Pyotr awesome, bardic tales from Georgia
  • Is that Simeon Gabriel gathering a treasury? The number of diamonds he's buying it's either that or he's courting Helen of Troy!
  • Which was more slashy? The knightly tournament or the naughty after-party.
  • The Anti-Pope is really the Pope!
  • Muntasir is the rightful God-King of Persia. And The lion of Tikris is his Jester.
  • Bats come out at night.
  • The monstrous corpse of the undead alchemical Baldwin is in good health.
  • Angel-wranglers are nothing compared to a good, honest, Invoker.
  • If I were Caesar, I'd reconquer Italy and give those Venitians a right good seeing to!
  • A clockwork King? What a preposterous idea!
news/1.txt · Last modified: 2009/05/04 18:05 by delvy
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