News Turn 4 - At the Midwinter of 1189

The winter of 1189 approaches among the many turmoils already having taken place. The Peace of the Covenant comes again and mighty feasts are being prepared amongst the broken streets and homes of Baghdad, the glorious yet tortured jewel of the desert suns. All are summoned to talk their business and politics and scandals, the people of the Levant and beyond watching not what arguments shall stand or fall and which nations shall collapse this day.

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.

Papal Assassination Foiled

A hastily written letter from the Bishop of Elphin, visiting the Vatican

“It is monstrous! Terrible! Her Holiness attacked within the Vatican, the heart of the Holy Mother Church. I cannot describe the horror that I feel, that we all feel here. They say the assassins were sent by the devil Saladin himself to show the Muslims that her Holiness was a weak and frail woman. No doubt he sought to use her death as a sign from his false God that the Muslims should retake the Holy Land from the good and honourable Christians. I am only thankful that her Holiness is unharmed, truly God defended her by sending the guards when he did or she would surely have been struck down by the fiends…

…The whole Vatican is in uproar and the college of Cardinals has been called to Rome…

Her Holiness has yet to respond to the attack and the faithful eagerly await to hear from her and know that she in unharmed. No doubt she will call for God’s righteous justice to be brought down upon her attackers and their evil master Saladin…”

A message from Captain Huldrych Zwingli to his brother in Switzerland

“I was on duty that night. The same as always. It was quiet with nothing to worry about but the occasional passing nun. I was nearly at the end of my guard when all hell broke loose in the papal apartment. I heard shouts of surprise and I sprinted for the door but it slammed shut, blown by great wind…I cannot be sure what happened next. I heard cries of pain and a thunderous crackling roar as if a storm were raging within. I backed away afraid…Then I felt a terrible chill come upon me and I saw mist begin to pour from my mouth as the freezing air began to burn me with its withering cold…The door sprang open and the assassins leapt out. They were Arabs! In the Vatican! They sprinted away while I was still numbed by the chill…The Papal apartment was a mess but her holiness seemed unharmed and as calm as always, though I saw blood on her sleeve…I have been sworn not talk about this, please be discreet.”

A conversation between two priests in the Vatican library

“I hear that in all the confusion Cardinal de Tartars has vanished.”

“The papal legate? Vanished?”

“So it seems. She simply disappeared. The pope herself does not seem to know where she is and has asked the Vatican guard to search for her.”

“These are strange times. Perhaps the assassins abducted her and took back to the heathen Saladin's harem.”

A letter from an ambassador to the Holy See

“Since the attack the Vatican has become a fortress in the centre of Rome. Guards and watchmen are everywhere, any more assassins will find it nigh impossible to enter the Holy See and they say that the Dean of the College of Cardinals has personally overseen the renewal of the magical wards that guard St. Peter's against harm. Her Holiness, it seems, does not wish to be disturbed”

The Rabbi and The Templar

A letter from Julian of Diss, Knight of the Order of Lazarus to Sybill of Prague, Preceptor of the Order in Gaza.

“For three days straight both Joshua ben Issac And Gerard de Ridefort debated those matters theological, legal, political and moral, breaking only to rest a little and to follow their religious observances, which both did with significant respect for the other. While no one could say as to which resolved to move the other most, and indeed none would have expected it so, but it did appear to be that both proved themselves well educated in both their own and the others faith with the Grand Master surprising some of those who heard as to his understanding of matters rabbatical. When others tried to involve themselves in the discussions they were largely welcomed by both parties and efforts by some less than noble parties to nurture hatred in the hearts of either of the speakers came to nowt.

It is said that Joshua did lead a congregation of his people to the wailing wall at the end of the studies and discussions, the largest throng of Hebrews that has ever attended there perhaps since the days of the Temple itself and that they did so under new laws enacted by the King, and that they were accompanied by a guard of the Knights Templars themselves who did ensure their safe conduct and allowed them to practice their anarchic ways in peace and with respect!”

A Cordial Exchange

A key topic in most contemporary discussions about the political situation:

Though without much of a proclamation from any official involved, and with little receiving pomp for those returned, a great blow was struck for peace this year as Philip of Jerusalem came to an accord with Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din to exchange the hostages taken at the Siege of Damascus some years previously. Malik az-Zahir ibn Salah ad-Din was returned to the Ayyubid fold and in return the Praeceptor of the Hospitaller Chantry in Jerusalem was returned to the Crusaders. Reportedly the exchange took place on the glass fields before the gates of Damascus, known as Shrewsbury's Lament. The act of cooperation has been praised by many, showing the leaders of each side to be just and reasonable men.

"A man does not have to be an angel in order to be saint"

A letter written by Philip 'the Grammarian'to Emma, abbess of Almenchêches
“It is the very talk of the city; that by the dark of the night the poorest of our people are gifted tiny angels of glass or wood or silver, all intricacy and delicacy and each of significant value, that they do acts of good and charity amongst their fellows before they do then sell these charms and thereby raised themselves out of the poverty in which God had placed them – as though each is being forgiven and allowed to rise up should they seek that forgiveness. A miracle of God’s work within our own fair city!

It is the very talk of the city that over one hundred have benefited so now and that some have been able to home others who had lived in the poorest of conditions with themselves and found each and every one of them work. One, whose angel had been set with eyes of ruby, found favour with the Hospitalers who bought it from him for their reliquary and with those same monies he has set up a merchant’s business most successful these last six months and now he employs ten men whose health and wealth he has restored since their days upon the streets.”

A Proclamation Concerning the Legendary Most Sacred and Most Military Constantinian Order of the Knights of Cross of St George.

A pronouncement made by the offices of the most Holy City of the Vatican, within the purview of the Apostolic See of Rome and under the great seal of St Peter of her most Gracious Holiness Urbane III, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of All Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City and Servant of the Servants of God.

From this day forth it shall be known and self evident that we have newly revived, by the Grace of God, and with our voice and hand there empowered, the rights and responsibilities, charges and dues, tasks and times, upon God’s refounded Order, reawakened through our word, that of the Most Sacred and Most Military Constantinian Order of the Knights of Cross of St George. They shall be tasked with the defence of the faithful and the destruction of threats to the safety of Christendom and shall stand at the command of the Pontiff personally. May God bless this Order and grant their arms and hearts strength and fortitude in these troubled times. May prayers be said for the Order throughout Christendom.

Margravine of Burgundy

An announcement cried in Jerusalem:

“Let it be known of the most chaste and pure Margravine Aelith of Burgundy, she whose pious and God-guided actions have brought relief and assistance to the Crusader knights waiting in Venice. She whose actions in the name of her father, Duke Hugh III have brought the eye of our God-Appointed King Baldwin, and whose chastity and pious-ness only serve to reinforce the most Holy Name of Jerusalem. Praise be to Our Lord!”

A most sinful priest

A tale heard as far away as London, in some version, for it is found very funny by many.

… a priest of the schismatics found running through the streets upon an ass, and upon his own skin nothing for he was as naked as a new-born. I hear tell that Constantinople is the biggest city in the world, I bet it's so big they have more than one street, like I heard Bill said they have in Coventry now. Naked all right though they say the man was a mighty sinner and his breath would have stunk of communion wine were it not for the apple stuffed in his mouth. A sign of the sin of Adam, you see? But then upon his head was a hat like the say the pope wears. Must be made of gold or something - stands to reason what with the pope (God bless her I say!) being more important than a king.

I'm not sure as you could say he was wearing the next thing as such but he had a goat's head in his lap. Always said those foreigners were a bit funny; not to be trusted with the livestock if you catch my drift. What with him being naked and all.

Maybe he was making a run for it, he'd stuffed all them fancy pictures the schismatics are so keen on into the saddlebags of his donkey and filled the nosebag with communion bread. Now I'd say that were blasphemy but it'd have to be real communion bread and how are the picture-worshippers going to get that? Cunning, you see, to use the fake stuff for his ass.

That's the only bit that was cunning mind. Must have drunk an awful lot of wine drunk in the vestry because the reason he was drunk was that he's only gone and put his clothes on his donkey and not hisself! Even them foreigners were always going to find that a bit strange! Though not half so strange as painting himself and donkey both in all sorts of strange “things”. You know the kind that look a bit like the writing in the Bible, only they've come out funny and not just cause they're foreign.

Kitten Sanctuaries

From a sermon delivered by Imam Musa binti Qasim, one of the more aggressive imams of Damascus.
There are those amongst those who call themselves Christians that would treat an animal better than they would their fellows. There are those who starve every night upon the streets of every city in the world, die of hunger and thirst, felled by disease or set upon by brigands and thugs. Allah in his great mercy has commanded the zakah tithe that the poor of Islam shall not starve as the the poor of the Christians.

No! The Christian priests show their mercy and kindness to a different kind of stray, taking cats from the streets and lavishing upon them the care that they refuse those foolish enough to worship with them. I have heard tell that both Praeceptor Abelard, a man known to call always for war against the servants of Allah, and Bishop Giannopoulos, a man who seeks tirelessly to debase the souls of our brothers in Islam with apostasy and death, have at the same time opened these insults to charity.

Why at the same time? I tell you it is because they serve the same master. And their master is surely Shaitan who seeks always to mock the commands of Allah.

The Death of Khawan al Khatara

A Proclamation by Emperor Isaac II

“The murderer and assassin, Khawan al Khatara, is dead. Killed by the hand of our Vassal and General Makis Karantenos. The monster attempted some fell scheme of escape with the aid of accomplices but righteous justice was delivered and The Lion of Tikrit was laid low before the might of our imperial throne. Let it be known that we shall greatly reward any who bring us the whereabouts or the heads of these accomplices and their masters. Furthermore we shall grant the sum of ten thousand gold pieces to anyone who can deliver to our imperial person the costume worn by the assassin al Khatara, that of the monstrous black bat.”

A drunken report from a squire of the Order of Mary Magdalene

“He was killed not once but twice and when he rose from death the first time his rage was terrible to behold and the fury of hell flowed through him as he cut down those that stood against him at the end. He struck down Knights and Arabs with his dance of death, darting from the shadows and killing with a touch. He bested Byzantium’s greatest general in but a moment and I nearly thought he would flee into the darkness of the wilderness and be lost to us for good. But as he ran he was set up by the spirits of those he had slain and they reached out to quench his life once and for all. So the demonic bat died…

…Preceptor Michael has been most depressed since then, no doubt saddened by his failure to fulfill his promise to the Byzantine Emperor…“

A Princely Wedding

Reported extensively by multiple sources, an extract from some:

”… the great day has now passed in splendour at Constantinople. Today, it seems all the world's notables had gathered on our streets to celebrate the marriage of Prince Philip of Jerusalem and the Emperor's own niece, Princess Anna…”

”… the most fantastic gathering in the great Church of St. Sophia, where under the ministration of the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Prince and Princess were united in marriage. The Princess, resplendent in a finely-crafted dress of most expensive crimson and edged all in porphyry, and the Prince himself finely dressed in gold and black, the crest of Jerusalem upon his heart. Upon his face solemnity, upon hers contented smile, and yet both so full of joy…”

”… a fitting feast as has not been seen in some time. I have had but a few glances of the great halls, but the tables laden with all delicacies an Emperor can buy. And there, Rus dancers, come in from the Crimea I hear, with their Governor and from him the best the north can offer. In the corner, I espied a statue of the Virgin Mary - I had gazed upon its beauty earlier, delivered by Lady Aelith of Burgundy…”

“Now returned to Acre, where a party to surpass even the Roman feast has been prepared by Lord de Reys, the married couple are ready to enjoy their happy life.”

The One Thousand

From a citizen of Baghdad:

“And they passed us, Fifty Score Strong. A 100 banners or so amongst their spit-be-laden camels. I grabbed one by his robes, and questioned who he was. He told me he was only one of The One Thousand, ten hundred Bedhouin warriors out for Glory. He told me he had fought against the Beast Army of Al-Mantykorii the previous year, tearing the wings of a Sirynii himself. He told me he had charged the Laughing Knights and shown no fear. He told me he had climbed to the roost of the Rukkhi and put to death one of the Great Birds himself. He told me he was a warrior of Allah, and A Most Faithful Soldier. Then he asked for coin in exchange for the good story.”

First Crusaders arrive in the Holy Land

Accounts relayed from those attending to the Crusading army by correspondents in Jerusalem and Antioch

“Traveling from Venice for several weeks, we have passed as far as possible from the patrols of the Romans and the Muslims, and then on the second day of the new month finally sighted the Holy Land. It could scarcely be believed - but at last we were to be but a short march away from the Holy City of Jerusalem!

Then the ships nearing upon the shore, and the first boat, full of but a handful of men and the Emperor Frederick himself, who stepped of all these Crusaders first upon the earth. By the next day all had disembarked who could in this first trip come to Venice, some from other fleets further north of us. Soon all gathered by the Emperor, the man standing under the heating sun in full armour, a yellow cross glowing bright upon his chest, spoke to the men assembled. I have here recorded the words as best remembered:

'We stand here all, upon the very edge of the Holy Land, mere day's march to the Holy City, and we have come to keep this land safe. We have come to keep the baying armies of the Infidel at bay, to stay the crushing hand of the Romans. And I will make it so! Now bring me fresh horse, and to Jerusalem we march!'

Now we all await word from the Pope, and any news of when might Richard of England and Philip of France follow the Emperor - for if they tarry longer, surely Frederick alone will fight all who oppose him.”

Virgin Birth in Jerusalem

From the Gospel according to Mrs. Grodno from across the street

“And lo the Angel of the lord did come upon them in his glory and proclaimed himself Ophanim servant of the Almighty, and they were much afraid. Verily did he proclaim that a great miracle was to be enacted upon them by the Holy Spirit, and they were much afraid. “It is our wedding night” they did cry with much gnashing of teeth, “How did you get in?” and so the mighty Angel did reveal his majesty unto them, and they were much afraid. And in her grace the young virgin did speak thus; “Why is that monk carrying a syringe?” and the Angel of the lord did smile broadly, and they were much afraid. As the dawn did break upon them and with many cries of; “It’s in my hair” and “Look just hold still will you” the Angel made to depart and announced unto them. “A virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a daughter, and they shall call her…”

War In Georgia!

From a letter to Georgian notables in the Holy Land, from a scribe of the Queen's court, much copied and repeated by drunken northmen in taverns throughout the Holy Land:

… Despite the terrible betrayal of the Byzantines, Her Majesty has been most pleased with the performance of the loyal and ferocious Georgian armies and the outcome of the hostilities. Lucius Aprenos was rumoured to be their most competent and fearsome General and even now he languishes in a jail cell within the royal palace itself.

The attack was of course surprising to those who do not have the formidable foresight of Her Majesty's advisors; its strategy and speed, coupled with the complete lack of political warning, would easily have caught lesser military minds off guard. The mercenary forces they had hired to flank our gallant defenders almost broke our defences, though they were seemingly unprepared for our counter-attack in turn. Their main force, led by Julius Vorenus, we met on the borders and held there, though the Byzantines unfortunately managed to capture some outlying towns and one or two minor fortresses, which we will undertake to return to their rightful owners when the seasons turn fair once more and we can march troops upon them.

The capture of Aprenos was again down to supreme strategic advice on the behalf of Her Majesty's commanders as they ambushed him at the head of a company of Rus mercenaries and after a lengthy and hard-fought battle in which he forced some of our troops to flee the field, they captured him and brought him to Tblisi. What fate awaits him here is as yet unclear, though Her Majesty will certainly be bringing him before the court.

The Emperor Cured

From gossip amongst the less influential members of the nobility of Constantinople.

“Of course I'd never really put any stock in the rumours. An assassin getting past all those Varangian Guards to throw fire in the Emperor's face. It was always ridiculous! No, I told myself at the time it must have been just some temporary indisposition. Did I tell you about the time I ate crab in Iconium? More than a day's ride from the sea so you can imagine…

“Anyway I saw the Emperor myself looking as gorgeous as always - you know there's a reason they call him Angelos - at one of Choniate's parties. Oh, you didn't know I'd been invited? I did think I hadn't seen you there. It was quite an event. They even had Loxos the Golden Tusk there. I tried talking to him but he was caught up in Herena again. You should have seen Stephen's face. Of course, you've heard the one about Hagiochristophorites nose? You haven't?! Oh everyone who was there, everyone of importance you understand, was repeating it after Loxos told it. I can't remember how it went, something about a trunk anyway.

“Of course I didn't get a chance to talk to the Emperor with all those guards around him. They're a dozen thick when he goes to the bathroom I hear! All red beards and tall, you know what they say about the Varangian's length…”

Outbreak in Nicea

Trade-routes to Nicea have been suddenly closed and trade has been sent around the city.

Rumours are flying thick and fast about demon infestation and ruined crops cursing the Hagia Sofia, although a particularly itchy Eastern-Whisper is that of a bubonic plague outbreak. Helena of Trier, Grandmaster of the Hospitaliers, recently praying at the Church of the Dormition, has regrouped her first regiment and attempts to quarantine the city.

No freight or travelers have left the city.

Mourning of a Hero

Rumours have spread throughout the Levant of the death of the adventurer and hero Muntasir. His demise has been described as the following:

  • Lightning-Bolted by a Crazed Italian Mage.
  • Kicked up the Arse to Death by a Cardinal.
  • Killed by an Angel after stealing a Christian Holy Icon
  • Swallowed by a Sandworm.
  • Sexed to Death by Djinn.

In remembrance of their hero's end, the people of Baghdad let out a hearty-laugh at midday. Even the Manticore was said to take part.


  • Sign ye no contract with the Withyking!
  • Inquisitor Rex Ricardo Villalobos missing presumed dead!
  • Raymond de Forcalquier is the Super-Devil.
  • I don't believe it! The She-Weasel of Tikrit was the Great Satan all along!
  • That wasn't an angel. You're drunk.
  • The Great Satan is in fact a Book. He controls your minds…
  • The excavations of the Hospital in Cairo have revealed an ancient Mosque.
  • The massive crusading army in Italy is the Great Satan.
  • Baldwin is not the Messiah! He is a very naughty boy!
  • Have you tried hiring a mason recently? They all seem to have Greek accents these days.
  • The Guildia Simboluri are plotting to usurp the Throne of Georgia.
  • The Al-Nazihah are selling dolls in the likeness of the attendees of the Winter Meetings.
  • Too many Batmans spoil the escape plan.
  • She finds your Faith disturbing.
  • I'm trying to give you money, no I don't want a bible. Stop preaching a minute so I can give you some alms.
  • What looks like a dragon, feels like a dragon, but runs away in the night cackling to itself?
  • That Count bloke has found the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Fashion in Byzantium this year dictates the wearing of heavy wrist and ankle chains.
  • A kiss is not a contract.
  • Kittens grow into cats. Puppies grow into dogs. What do tapirs grow into?
  • And so a great grey soul passes.
  • What are you, suntouched or something? I'M THE GODDAMN LION OF TIKRIT!
  • A tiny Angelic voice cried out in pain, and was suddenly silenced.
  • The educational systems of Levant seem lacking in the teaching of mathematics.
  • Baldwin and Aelith sitting in a tree… P.O.N.T.I.F.I.C.A.T.I.N.G
  • Everyone accused of being the Great Satan seems to end up dead…
  • Stephen Hagiochristophorites is the Great Satan. God told Father Giannopoulos so!
  • Have you seen Loxos's bone? It's hugely enhanced now.
  • I hear that the Princess is having an intimate relationship with the Sphinx! Oh the number of sins there…
  • He cries for her, but she will not come back, what now will he do? Visit vengeance upon the Holy Land?
  • Camel Breeding, Serious business

news/4.txt · Last modified: 2009/05/25 19:33 by innokenti
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