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.