Friday, February 13, 2009

A Riot Is an Ugly Thing

News of the embassy from the Greeks, at first a subject of idle gossip throughout the souks and bazaars of Bizercca, curdled swiftly, first into sullen resentment at the honours accorded the Byzantine churchman leading the delegation, then into violent protest after Imam Chellai Ben Chellai, of the dominant Kechooup Mosque, devoted the bulk of his Friday sermon to vehement denunciation of the rumours of the commutation of the death sentence of the Morean buccaneer Spyridon Dukas.

The agitated crowd spilled into the market district and by misadventure encountered revellers from the Armenian millet spilling out of a wedding celebration into the streets near the bazaar. Insults and posturing swiftly escalated to violence throughout the merchant district, and the janissary orta of the Dey itself was required to restore order.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tour of the Tyrhennian

After several weeks preparation, corresponding with his associates and partners in Livorno and Monte Cristo, Salomon Baci departed Bizercca for Livorno aboard the newly launched xebec Al-Murabit, mounting 22 guns and the first fruits of the Dey's aggressive shipbuilding campaign to make good last year's losses in the treacherous attack by the Imperium.

Baci knew well that the ultimate success of that programme, as well as the Dey's overall campaign of revenge, now hinged on the success of his business in Monte Cristo, and that he would need to conduct his most delicate bargaining in order to succeed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Commission from the Dey

Salomon Baci looked up from his siesta reading, another sampling of Rambam's Guide for the Perplexed, as one of his junior factors burst backwards into his office closely followed by the burly forms of three towering specimens of the Dey's Janissary orta, and, behind them, the slimmer but somehow more menacing figure of the Dey's Aga, the renegadoe Banatiano.

"Baci effendi is not to be disturbed during the siesta--" his clerk protested.

"Silence!" spat the Aga, "I come on the Dey's business: a commission for Baci effendi."

Cowed more by the Aga's intense gaze than by his accompanying janissaries, the clerk sputtered, then fell silent.

"It is well, David," Baci reassured his clerk. "I am of course the Dey's humblest servant. What news from the Casbah?"

The aga regarded the clerk a second longer until the clerk turned physically from the renegadoe's glare, and then turned his electric eyes to Baci. Baci himself was able to meet the gaze, but found himself forced to consider the violent history of the men holding the office of Aga to the Dey, and the rapidity with which this strange renegadoe had risen from common mercenary to the exalted rank he now held.

"With apologies for disturbing your siesta, the Dey sends his compliments on your report of this morning of the results of your enquiries amongst the Franj, and is disposed to pursue the Waldrecker tender for both the artillery and muskets. You are to present yourself to Diwan on the morrow and receive the Dey's sealed commission to negotiate, following which you personally will sail for the Franj port of Monte Cristo under your Livornese documents to finalise the negotiations with your Bertel Stechung of Krantz. The Dey's confidence in you in this matter is absolute."

"I am of course the Dey's most humble servant."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Raid on Twinj

The reconnaisance parties sent out by the Wakil returned a week later with news of the surrounding countryside. Most pertinently, it had been discovered that beyond the coastal ridge the countryside opened enough to permit herding and horse-breeding. Indeed, the town of Twinj, not 20 miles to the north of Spilt, was to celebrate the miraculous deliverance of its citadel from a siege by the Ottomans on the Feast of the Conception of St. Anne fifty years ago with a festival of horsemanship, including the jousting tournament called the Alka, open to all the young men of the countryside.

While the best horses would no doubt all be in Twinj for the festival, the prospect of the horse farms and herds of the countryside around the town being left to the care of the servants and old women whilst the greater part of the countryside thronged the town for the festival presented an opportunity to both rebuke the Franj and to increase the corsairs' options in the face of the mounted relief force which was expected.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reconnaissance Parties

Along the beach, well to the north of Spilt, a single xebec approaches shore, close enough for two bands of men, exotic in their Mahgrebi attire, to splash through the surf onto the Dalmatian shore.

At a notional scale of 1:20, this represents the full complement of manpower the xebec could bring to fight, in addition to the slaves below to work the oars. Since the Dey's xebecs are relatively crowded, especially for a strike across the Mediterranean all the way to Dalmatia, the challenge of keeping food and water in adequate supply on board is constant. Raiding parties will venture up and down the Dalmatian coast, possibly as far as Lagerburg and Slobbovia, to keep the Dey's men fed while the plan against Spilt is brought to fruition.

[Ed Note: Those following Prinz Geoffrey's posts on Cavenderia may note that these figures, from Askari miniatures, are in a different scale than the Bashi-Bazouks seen there. The rules to arbitrate the raids are still being considered. I am tempted to order Legends of the High Seas and, perhaps, Legends of the Old West: Alamo to allow us to use our figures for both skirmish and larger actions, along with the naval rules included in LotHS. Reader recommendations are welcomed.]

Friday, November 7, 2008

عَدَم الجَوَاب جَوَاب

"No answer is an answer."

Sidi Mohammed Ibrahim, Wakil al kharj of his eminence Driss Dey of Bizercca, reflected aloud as the deadline for response from the town fathers of the Cavenderian harbour town of Spilt expired. He ordered his xebec about, out of cannon range from the harbour to the north, and had signals set for a captains' meeting aboard his ship. The time spent off the coast of the Franj was to be minimised, to lessen the likelihood of difficulties with the xebecs' rowers, chained below, and the punitive raid to be launched as soon as final arrangements with the other commanders made.

Each xebec had been manned to capacity with men for the purpose of these raids, over 400 men on each, including the slaves, with each ship capable of putting 300 men onto the deck of enemy ships, or, in this case, ashore to participate in the rebuke of the Franj. While his orders called for the looting of the customs house and any merchants in Spilt, almost as important would be the capture of sufficient foodstuffs for the return voyage, since this raid had not been authorised by the Sublime Porte, and a safe harbourage in any Greek port to take on supplies could not be guaranteed.

Satisfied by the arrangements aboard his own vessel, Ibrahim called for water while waiting, and began his ablutions preparatory to noontime prayers.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Alea Iacta Est

The Imperium has decided for war, so the Dey musters his forces both naval and terrestrial.

First on order: a half dozen GHQ 1:1200 xebecs to land his eminence's bashi-bazouks on their harrying raids on the Dalmatian coast of Cavenderia, which the Divan has determined to be the first of her Imperial majesty's subjects to pay for her insults to the Dey.

Hopefully the finished work will at least recall the image here.