Ali and the Golden Sun

Komodu, Hama
20 April 1690

Once upon a time, there was a country called Hama. The people of that nation were dark skinned, had curly hair and were tall. They enjoyed reading and studying. They always wanted to learn about the world and everything that was in it. They were fascinated by other cultures and engaged often with other nations.

They traded various goods such as silk and perfumes. They were known for the wealth and knowledge that they had amassed. Their merchants wore turbans and were draped in long flowing clothes with beads, bracelets and fascinating jingle-jangles hanging all about.

Knowledge and wealth were similar. They cultivated a desire to have more of both. One day there was a young man. His name was Ali Matu.

Ali Matu was a prince and a warrior. He was fabulously rich and was a skilled fighter. He was loved by women and respected by men. He had a vision to explore the lands over the Borean Sea. He couldn’t do it alone, so he asked the King of Hama for help.

He put together a large caravan of camels and horses that carried gifts of gold, spices, fabrics and exotic food and headed for the capital of Hama: Komodu. The city sat on the coast to the north. It was the biggest city in the land.

It had great walls, a big harbour full of great ships, great palaces and castles and wide stone roads. People spoke in a lofty accent of the Hamanese language. Their fancy and pretentious “how dost thou doeth?” made Ali laugh when he arrive.

He had sent a messenger ahead to tell the King that he would be arriving. He had hoped that the King would listen to him.

His own fame surprised him. People lined the streets waiting for his procession to enter the city. They yelled in excitement when they saw the famous Ali Matu enter the city. Women fainted and young boys play-fought, reenacting the stories of his adventures.

He finally arrived at the Royal Palace. He sent his herald to request an audience with the King. After a few hours, the herald came back to Ali and told him that the King was waiting for him.

Ali went inside the Throne Room in which he would meet the King. The floors were made from white marble. Black marble columns held up the vaulted ceiling which was decorated with arabesque. The King sat in a golden throne at the end of the room under a red canopy.

Ali kneeled before the King and waited for the King to acknowledge him.

“Greetings, your Majesty”, Ali nervously said.

“Greetings, my son”, the King, “Thou hast requested an audience with our royal person. What seeketh thou?”

“I seeketh thine help and blessing, mine liege”, Ali answered, “For an expedition to the cold lands beyond this Borean Sea”.

The King was interested by what Ali said. He was so happy and fascinated that he invited Ali to a feast where they could talk over the project in more detail. Ali and his caravan were housed in a part of the palace.

The feast took place later that evening. There were belly dancers and fire breathers to keep the attendees entertained. There was lots of food. The spicy fragrance wafted around the palace.

Ali then told the King of his request…

Komodu, Hama
20 April 1690

The King sat silently and listened to everything that Ali said. Ali spoke enthusiastically about the stories he had heard about that place and everything that they might find them. While the King was impressed, the veracity of his claims was difficult to ascertain. The King absorbed all that Ali had told him and contemplated it. He assessed the pros and cons, the good and bad.

Ali noticed how the King sat silently mulling over everything that he had said and weighing the facts in the story. There was something else that had driven Ali to pursue an expedition to Borea. He had omitted it, because he wanted it for himself. He battled within himself whether or not to tell the King. Luckily he didn’t have to.

The King said, “Thou hast presented such points as would lure Us to acquiesce. We, ourself, hath adventure nigh foreign lands pursued and thy resolve enthuseth us the more. Yet thou hast, rather selectively it seems, neglected to inform us of the challenge that shall be faced”.

Ali took in a breath and looked down nervously. But it was just for a second. “Majesty, I have attempted as far as I could to explain everything”.

The King looked at him, “What of savages, beasts, and disease, bandits and pirates?”

Ali replied confidently, “The mouse shall brave the serpent’s teeth to sleep on his tongue”.

The King smiled. “We admireth thy conviction. We would finance thy expedition, but we desireth more”.

Ali, “Your Majesty… I don’t understand”.

The King replied, “Power. We desireth more than the mere collection of wealth and knowledge. We desireth the increase of our realm, that nations o’er the world shalt knoweth the name of the King of Hama. Cleave a domain for us”.

Ali looked at the King, amazed. Expansionism had always been the way of the Pax, to assimilate the weak under its mighty hand. But if he was achieve his goal, then winning more land for his King was easy. Anyway the Kings of Hama were always enlightened and benevolent rulers. Their rule of the world might finally bring civility to an otherwise uncivil world.

Ali and his retinue stayed in the city of Komodu for a few months. He lived in the Komodu Royal Palace in that time. He resided there while he was waiting for the King to prepare a fleet and supplies for the mission to explore the land on the other side of the sea.

The King said that he would give Ali ten large dhows (called dawa in Hamanese). These were large wind propelled wooden ships. They were supplied with food, tools and other equipment. They also employed a variety of workers, sailors and soldiers. They were armed with iron canons and mortars.

The fleet was ready. With the possibility of an attack from pirates and war with the natives, the ship had to have a large amount of war related equipment. Shields, scimitars muskets, and armour were kept in one of the ships.

Luckily for them, Borea was not an entirely unknown place. It was, after all on the other side of a fairly narrow sea. Narrow is a relative term in this context. They had some knowledge of the people on the other side. For the most part they were savage. The people of Manaban and Rightport were fairly sophisticated, but they were far inland. The area immediately on the other side was inhabited by barbarians of whom they knew fairly little.

What they did know is that their skin was pale, their hair was golden, their eyes were blue, they spoke like monkeys, were barely dressed, fought with swords, lived in huts and were as sophisticated and cultured as bears. Fairly easy? Wrong.

Having been dealing with the Arabs to the south and expanding their territory inland, the people of Hama had never really thought about ruling lands across the sea. This new expedition made them feel both nervous and excited.

Luckily for them, conditions were still, warm and calm enough to enable them to land. While Ali and his crew put in the anchor by which they would begin their invasion, the King expected the navy to follow in full force as soon as enough information was collected.

For all the admiration that the King had for Ali, he was indifferent to his fate. His death would be the excuse he needed to attack. His success would be the excuse he needed to attack. Either way he was the winner. He looked outside toward the city on his balcony and smiled. Finally, he would extend his reach across the sea.

The water around this area of Borea was fairly calm around summer. Ships often passed by these waters when headed to other areas of the world. One of the challenges that the topography of the land presented was the mountainous terrain.

The area was covered in mountains and the soil was fairly acidic. While it had some potential for agriculture in the valleys, it did not present the Hamanites and any other major nation significant opportunities.

This was until the rumours of something called the Golden Sun. Explorers and merchants who had been passing by those lands found a large gold reef that they nicknamed the Golden Sun, because of how the sun shone on the white crystalline vein formations that alluded to the presence of gold.

Many of the explorers and merchants from that expedition did not survive because of savages who ambushed them. One of the few survivors was man who had been rendered lame by the attack. Ali had heard rumours of his existence and sought him out from the more austere towns in Hama.

The man finally acquiesced to tell him about the possibility of gold in the area. Ali wanted that gold for himself. His reckless and extravagant lifestyle had caused him to squander his clan’s wealth and his father’s inheritance.

His family was dishonoured. He needed this expedition to reestablish his family as a great house. This reef of gold presented him with opportunities he had not thought he would have. The King presented him an opportunity to achieve this.

Ali had omitted to mention the Golden Sun to the King. As he lived in the palace, he was able to see how cunning the King really was. He became worried as he thought about his conversation with the King. The King was constantly asking him if there was something he had forgotten or neglected to tell him.

Naturally, Ali denied everything and pressed on with his pitch to lure the King to support the expedition. He doesn’t know anything, Ali thought to himself. One of the questions Ali struggled to wrap his head around was that Borea presented them with control of the sea lanes and trade in them. Surely he wasn’t the first person to suggest controlling both sides of the sea.

He tossed the idea aside and tried his best to forget it and look to the adventure ahead. He looked over the ships in the harbour as they were being prepared to not only explore but settle that land.

Workers were busy filling the dhows with supplies. They checked the planks to make sure that they were water proof. They checked the sails to ensure that they wouldn’t tear. They checked the canons to make sure they could fire. Every component of the ships was inspected and perfected. By December 1690, the ships were ready for the voyage.

While the King was responsible for providing money, ships and supplies, it had been Ali’s job to find the right crew. He had a few men of his own, but he needed an entire army. He combed the city to find the best smiths, carpenters, fishermen, hunters, assassins, masons, quarrymen and other workers.

This process took him just as long as it took the ships to get ready. In line with the King’s desire to take over that land, he also had to have an invasion force. This process was handled by one of the Rear Admirals appointed by the King.

His job had been to seek out the best sailors and soldiers to defend the expeditionary party and cement Hamanian claims by force if necessary. If the rumours of uncivilised savages was true, then they had to be prepared. And in ordinary, masculine fashion, the men often told stories of what they heard was there.

One man recounted, “I hear’ from a friend’s friend’s uncle who overheard a sailor in the fourth fleet say, that there are giants on those lands and they eat people too. Bute yer bones and crack yer skull 's what they’ll do”.

The stories metamorphosised into all sorts of peculiar myths. While Ali was not afraid of them, he was bothered by the little information that they head. The area of Borea he wanted to explore wasn’t that far from Hama. It was fairly close. Why did the King insist on such a large force?, He asked himself. They could just keep sending supplies, Ali thought.

The King was behaving in a way counter to his own expectations. He knew something was up, but what was it? Since telepathy was not in his already extensive range of skills, he simply had to play his role, get the gold, come back home and die rich.

Komodu, Hama
8 October 1690

The ships were ready to leave the port of Komodu. Crowds gathered on the waterfront to see the ships leave. They shouted and clapped happily and waved. Ali, stood at the very back of the ship and waved back. The sails were unfurled and the rudder directed the ship towards Borea. It would take about a week to arrive. If conditions were pleasant, it would take even less time.

Ali looked at a rudimentary map of the area. The bay presented a challenge. They would have to drop anchor some distance away from the coast and move supplies to and fro. He looked at a list of the things they had to do. They had to set up a camp.

Secondly they had to scout the land and find any natives. They had to build a more permanent wooden fortress along the coast. They would have to build outposts as they moved inland. They also had to build a dockyard. Luckily, Borea was well forested. Ali also put together his own team to find the mystical Golden Sun.

As he looked at the documents and his to-do list, the Commander came in. He greeted Ali heartily. He said, “Captain Ali Matu, His Majesty has instructed me to head inland for a special expedition. Lieutenant Doma Adu will be responsible for the defence and mobilisation of our forces in that time”.

“Oh really”, Ali asked, “Well then, good luck and may Allah be with you”.

The Commander left the cabin. Ali realised then, that it was a race against time, to get to the Golden Sun, before the King did.

Southern coast of Borea
12 October 1690

The fleet that Ali led, arrived on Borea four days later. The ships dropped anchor a kilometre from the shore. Boats went along the coast to find a place deep enough for the ships. In the meantime a scouting team was sent to the mainland to check things out.

A small group of men, landed. They kept their boat pinned to the sand with a rod, but far enough in the water to float. They wanted to make a quick escape just in case things got nasty.

So they looked at this land. It was forested heavily, even more heavily than northern Hama. The trees has spiny needles instead of leaves, cones instead of fruit and flowers. There were mountains in the near distance. They were capped with snow at their very summits. Some of them were so high that they were covered by clouds.

There were a few clouds in the sky, but it wasn’t cloudy nor was it likely to rain. The place was desolate. They went inland for several kilometres but found nothing that marked human presence. There were no remnants of campfires or signs of traps to catch animals.

They decided to go back to the ship later that evening to tell the Commander and Ali what they had found. The crews began sending supplies of tools onto the land. They began the arduous process of building a camp.

For the first night they slept in tents. They said evening prayers and told stories and sang songs around the campfire. On the next day they woke up and began the work of building the camp.

They found some stable ground and began digging the foundations of some buildings while others began cutting down trees using old fashioned saws and axes. Some cooked, some moved Urth. Regardless, everyone was busy working. Except for Ali.

Ali, while known for his marvelous adventures, often relied on others for manual labour. His role was consigned to giving instructions and cutting people up with his scimitar. Because of his position and status, the workers gladly accepted this. He was an important man after all.

After a few days, as the weather got colder, they were all rather annoyed with Ali’s laziness. Even the Commander got his hands in the mud. Luckily for Ali, the progress was great. He sent many letters to the King about how marvelous things were going and how well they were progressing.

Although they had sent scouts to survey and map the area in a 10 kilometre radius they found no people, not the fabled Golden Sun that Ali was looking for and whose identity he divulged only to a few.

Unfortunately for Ali, the Commander knew where to look and what the Golden Sun really was.

Southern coast of Borea
29 December 1690

Ali prepared an expedition party to go into Borea and see what was there.

Borea was beautiful. Streams cut through forests and trickled down mountains, feeding the great rivers that roared in the valleys below. Great trees with silvery bark rose up and the pine needles cut the breeze making a very subtle whistling sound. There were deer. The Hamanites were amazed to see these antelope with three branches on their heads.

Unfortunately there were also predatory animals. Ali and his crew set up camp and prepared to sleep. As they did, they heard howls in the distance. There was a menacing edge to that howl. Their neck hairs stood on end. Each man kept his weapon close at hand. They slept in shifts so that they could see an attacker before it came.

The moonlight had an almost liquid quality that cast long shadows. It made it hard to be certain of the shape and intent of whatever there was out there. But they trusted that their prayers would be answered and that the angels were on their side.

The night stretched without much incident. Then the twigs on the ground broke so gently, the guard thought he must have imagined it. Tired and annoyed, he closed his eyes for a minute too long. As he opened them and came back to consciousness, he the shapes of doglike creatures circling them.

He cried out to the men to wake up and get ready for an attack. They jumped up and went together, back to back. They were surrounded. They held up their swords and spears. A few of them had muskets and pointed them. Ali had one. He fired, in the hopes that the animals would run away.

Unfortunately they didn’t. The gunshot scared them. That scare led them into a frenzy rather than to flee. They pounced. Teeth were barred. Claws protruded. Skin was scratched. Limbs were bitten. Red drops touched the ground. Yelps cracked the silence. Swords clanged. Shots fired.

In the confusion and mayhem, Ali didn’t see one of the wolves come. Too late. He turned around and it jumped on his chest. He hit the ground hard. The creature dug its claws into his chest. He held its neck to keep its ivory white teeth away. Spit fell in his face. They wrestled until his arms hurt. He called out, but no one answered. He kicked the dog in the abdomen.

It jumped off. He grabbed his musket, but couldn’t load it. He hit the wolf on the head. The creature kept coming. He hit again, and missed. The wolf jumped on his back and threw him down. It bit his leg. It held on with a vice like grip. He screamed in pain, tears gushing down his face and pain numbing his reflexes. His comrade jumped on its back and wrestled it down and slit it’s throat.

Eventually they managed to kill and scare off the wolves. With adrenaline pumping their veins they celebrated. But unfortunately Ali was injured. They tried to tend his wounds and make him comfortable, but with every touch, a spear shot of pain went through his brain. They made smoke signals in the hopes that the settlers would see and send help.

Back on the beach, in the early hours of morning, the Commander, the only person, other than the guards who was awake, saw the signal…

And did nothing.

Southern Borea

Ali and his crew were in a difficult situation. Without help and proper medical treatment, Ali’s wounds would get worse and he would die. Ali had always believed that he was impermeable to death, but to his chagrin, he was a mortal human.

They saw figures in the moonlight. Angry and paranoid, he yelled, “Come get me, devil!”

The figures appeared from the shadows. They were humans. They were the strangest humans that most the crew had ever seen. They had skin that was as white as cloth, hair as gold and sunshine and eyes as blue as the sea. They spoke in whispers and murmurs, but their language sounded like primitive grunting.

They wore only animal skin around their waists and they were all male except for one dainty little lady. She approached Ali timidly. His crew stood in front of him to protect him. He told them to step aside and let her closer.

Her eyes changed colour as she moved her head in the moonlight from blue to green and back again. She had the tiniest little nose and cutest little lips. She pointed to the wrappings around his wounds.

He nodded and she helped him walk. One of his men held him under the arm to help him walk. She signed with her hands that they should follow them. They began walking through the forest. The Hamanites were still afraid, holding their muskets and guns aloft.

They finally arrived at the village. The buildings were made from mud and roofed with grass. The Hamanites looked at the austere dwellings uncomfortably, having been accustomed to Hamanian architecture and living conditions in general.

They helped him in the building. One of his crew were a doctor. He went to him and she came by his side. She was amazed by his deep brown skin like the color of rich urth. He had a wise nose and beautiful round lips and dark brown eyes. He wore a turban, with colourful draping cloth and all sorts of jingle jangles and funny pointy shoes.

She marvelled at his scimitar and the ornamented sheath in which he kept. She, and the other people of the village who coalesced around the entrance of the hut in which he was being kept, were amazed at this brown people.

She was particularly amazed by the doctor who used his hands to ask for things and she tried to help him get what he needed. He made a fascinating concoction from water and some strange substances from vials he kept in his bag.

He draped, and cut, and sewed, and covered and fed Ali things and simply confounded this girl. She seemed to have enough acumen to assist him. He bowed to her in respect and signed with his hands that they should give Ali a chance to rest and recover.

An older larger man, wearing an animal skin cape, with a long silver beard and a great spear appeared in the doorway, having moved all the people aside to see. He pulled her at the arm and began yelling at her.

The Hamanites simply heard him say, “Grunt, grunt, bark, bark, grunt, bark, howl”.

They heard the little female reply, “Squeal, squeal, squeak, squeak, burp, whoop, howl”.

The linguist of the crew whispered, “Maybe howls indicate that they are done vocalising. The big one seems distressed and so does the little female one. They must be some sort of sophisticated animal we have never known”.

The big man turned to them with an angry scowl. He kept saying “Nu! Nu!” as he pointed to himself.

After a few moments they deciphered what he was trying to say, “Nu. Ba nu!” The linguist said excitedly, “He says they are human”.

One of the crew said, “I highly doubt it. My dog also understands my instruction, but that does not make him a human”.

Southern Borea

Finding the way back to the beach was surprisingly more difficult than they had anticipated. The thick forests and tricky terrain made it hard for messengers to navigate their way to the settlement and the village. The crew were still rattled by the wolf attack and were unwilling to go back to the settlement through the forest.

They were also getting a very warm welcome. The natives were savage. Their dress, style and manners were unrefined. Their vocalisations could barely be called speech by the Hamanites. Regardless of these unendearing factors, they were accommodating. The people gave them space and helped them if they asked for it.

Although they weren’t able to bath as regularly as they would have liked, they were strong men who were unphased by the absence of the comforts of Hamanite life. They had made it out of trying conditions with their lives. That was all that mattered.

Ali was particularly growing to like this place. The little lady was beautiful, gentle, almost fragile, but mysterious. She captured his imagination. Over the few weeks, they learnt to communicate. She taught him a little bit of this and a little bit of that about tubers and herbs and berries, where to drink water and where not to and how to get rid of the mosquitoes. The people of this village had managed to stave of malaria by wearing a pungent plant sap.

The Hamanites reluctantly put it on as well, with Ali’s insistence. Ali was walking with her though the forest beside the stream. The water hit the rocks at a steady pace and sounded like laughter. Weeping willows dipped their tendrils into the water and lifted them up again as their golden tears ran down their bark. There was a mystical beauty to this land that made him gradually fall in love with it.

Of all the natives, there was one who did not trust nor particularly like the Hamanites. Big Man watched them with suspicion and plotted to get rid of them. He followed Little Lady and Ali (or Fat Nose as he called him) into the forest and hoped to club him when he wasn’t looking.

He stalked them, creeping silently in the shadows and undergrowth a safe distance from them. There was a sharpness to Ali that made him seem wary of everything, so Big Man was cautious of that. He followed them for so long that he felt frustrated. He decided to wear plant matter like branches and leaves to better conceal himself.

He came closer and closer. Ali and Little Lady were sitting on a rock dipping their feet into the water. Then Ali did something that made Big Man seeth with anger. He tried to contain himself until the chance to smash Ali’s brains presented itself. Ali and Little Lady kept touching and the touches got more intimate, less playful and more romantic.

Big Man couldn’t take it anymore. He was too angry and too bad at containing his anger and focusing his mind. He got closer and closer. He didn’t notice that that Ali slowed down and got more tense. He also didn’t notice the sharp dagger impale him. He looked down and noticed the silver blade. He looked at it in confusion. And fell down like a bag of Pax Fruites.

Little Lady was so taken aback that she walked to Big Man like she noticed a curious-looking frog. When she held him and he didn’t move, she began shaking and shaking him. Then she let out an ear-piercing scream. Her A#7 screech seemed to cut the air in half and seek every ear.

Ali held her around the mouth and tried to shut her up. She simply swayed and swayed and kicked and fought. Ali was panicked and didn’t think. He didn’t notice that he was holding her nose too tight. She slumped in his arms. He held her and screamed. He tried to slap her awake, but nothing happened. Then he heard grunts and ruffling in the distance. He knew that the Barbarians were coming.

He left her there and found a short cut through the brush to his crew, who had camped on the outskirts of the village. He woke them all up from their afternoon nap and told them what happened. A young girl ran to their tent looking distraught. The Doctor came up feigning surprise as she used overt body language to say that Big Man and Little Lady were missing. He told her that they would come.

The Hamanites packed their things and ran. They left nothing behind and took everything, while the village was out looking for Big Man and Little Lady. They finally stopped running when they felt that they were far enough.

Just as they were catching their breath, the Doctor burst out in anger, “Ali, you fool! What have you done?”

The men looked at him in shock. He kneeled down and begged Ali for mercy.

Ali said, “In understand your frustration, and I will forgive your tone, but you must never forget to whom your are speaking. We have no choice. We must flee to the settlement before these Barbarians slay us”.

The Doctor murmured, “Sometimes I wonder who’s really barbaric”.

Southern Borea

Without animals to carry them and their luggage, the Hamanites were forced to walk through the forests. They kept going south, back to the settlement, following the Southern Cross constellation.

Sometimes they got bitten by mosquitoes. Sometimes their feet had blisters from their wet shoes. Sometimes they were hurt or sick. Luckily, they had avoided the wolves, which were following the herds to the north.

Ali felt dishonoured by the fact he had had a romantic relationship with a Barbarian and had failed to find the Golden Sun. For now, getting away from a native attack and reorienting their objective of exploring and conquering the land of Borea was his priority.

Regardless of their failures, they had learnt a great deal. They had acquired information about plants, animals, key landmarks and geographical features, natives and inland routes. This information would be crucial to the inland exploration of the Hamanites and their subsequent occupation of this land.

After a few weeks, they arrived at the beech. They were surprised by what they find. The Settlement on the Coast had been expanded significantly. With some haphazard civil engineering, wooden building were organised into residential areas, storage facilities and towers and walls had been built. A dock had been built and expanded. The area of forest that was once here, was cut down.

There were more people than they had last seen, there were more ships. And, shockingly, there were women. When the soldiers in the tower saw a group of Hamanites walking toward the settlement, they ran to help them. They were even more shocked when they saw the Royal Pendant on Ali’s dirty turban.

They bowed to him and took him to the Commander…

Settlement on the Coast

Ali and his crew were taken to the Commander. They told him about their experience and what they learnt. The Commander encouraged them to share their experiences and insight. Rather than treat them with disdain for running away, he supported and sided with them.

Ali began to realise that in the time he had left, the Commander had consolidated his power and established his control over the settlers. With more troops sent under the Commander’s control, he had the might to usurp Ali’s nominal control over the area.

Ali’s crew inadvertently catalysed the process of inland colonisation. When the Commander learnt that there were Barbarians who attacked Ali’s group, he had the excuse he needed to hasten the inland invasion and circumscribe Ali’s plans to explore gold.

The Commander hung on that attack against Ali. He espoused fear among the Hamanites and compelled the King to send a large force for the inland invasion of Borea. Ali could do little to protect the people of the Village without implicating himself as a “Barbarian lover”

By February 1691, the King of Hama had sent 10,000 men, 2,000 horse and 1,000 moving and fixed canons. He sent 100,000 gold dinars to the colonisers to employ more manpower and purchase the resources that they needed to expand the settlement which would grow into a small town. Land surrounding the town was given to Hamanite colonisers to farm and live on to encourage more people to come.

By March 1691, there was nothing to stop the first battle in the Hamanian Borean War.

Komodu, Hama
April 1690

The King was sitting on his throne in his throne room reading correspondence. Some of the letters were requests for water in the southern provinces. Some were requests for help against Packilvanian raiders on the eastern borders. The King was always faced by a variety of issues. He had many matters to look into and many problems to solve.

He opened an interesting envelope, closed with a red wax Royal Seal. This letter must be from special missions he commissioned or officers he deployed. The letter was from the Commander. It read as follows: We have made progress in the plan to settle and colonise Borea. The first phase of the development of the first settlement is approaching completion and will be fit for settlers in the near future. Ali Matu has successfully led an expedition into Borea. He mapped routes, geographical features and key landmarks. He also studied the plants and animals. More interestingly, he encountered the primitive natives who inhabit this land. They are an inferior race that shall be easy to subdue. These creatures attacked Ali and his men in the forests. This is a grave insult to the people of Hama and His Majesty. This sort of courage must not be permitted. Please send military reinforcements to help crush these natives and bring Borea into His Majesty’s Empire”.

The King smiled. He had received this report positively and was happy to obliged. He ordered a Master of the Law of the Royal Court, to draft the decree by which he would declare war on the natives and take over their nation. Their land, livestock and lives were his to command and claim.

The King summoned the General. The man was exceedingly dark. His lips were unusually pink and chapped. He wore a cape and armour. While he was decorated for an audience in with the King, he seemed more comfortable in less comfortable surrounds.

This was the type of man that the King needed to lead the war effort. He was a man who had not only been hardened by and become accustomed to war, but seemed to enjoy it. It was where he was happiest.

The King explained the situation and gave the General his instructions. “General, I believe that you are the best man for the job and you will not disappoint me”.

The General spoke in a deep husky voice, ”I am your servant my King. I shall carry out your will”.

”I am glad”.

Later that month, the General had all the men, weapons and horses to invade and take over the island. The General had a habit of holding his dagger and examining it. He seemed mesmerised by the sharpness of the blade and the ornamentation of the hilt. It made him look more fearsome. He always seemed ready to sever a finger or cut off a toe. His troops spoke to in reverent respect. They were eager to please and show that they were brave.

The ships were ready. They set sail for Borea. They moored in the newly built docks. The General left the ship and went with the Commander who was waiting for him. They had dinner in the Commander’s quarters, which were ample and well-furnished. The men spoke about their experiences in war and shared expertise on horses, swordsmanship, hunting and canons.

After dinner they went out into the cool night air. The stars came out and the sky was clear. They drank a bitter alcoholic beverage that warmed the chest as they looked out at everything. Comfortable, they were able to speak about the invasion. They exchanged ideas and information. The discussion covered a range of topics such as the climate, geography, biodiversity, and war strategy.

Satisfied with the discussion, and having depleted all the available alcohol, they retired to their quarters. The General sat on his bed and took a deep breath. He folded his legs and closed his eyes, meditating on the task at hand. He tore his emotions and sentiments off his heart like taking layers off an onion. His loyalty and life belonged to the King and he must steel himself for anything. From his point of view, these men - The Commander and Ali - were fickle and untrustworthy, and may need to be removed if they show any weakness or disloyalty.

The Village, Borea

A messenger was instructed to go to the Village that Ali had discovered and stayed in, to tell them to submit to the Hamanian Empire. He got on his horse, looking official and serious. He was far too ostentatiously dressed for an expedition through the forests. But he had a wicked memory and was able to navigate his way through trees, over creeks and under branches.

The people of the village were sad about the events that had happened and all the pain that they been through. Death and betrayal had become normal for humans living under these conditions, where starvation, animal attacks and diseases were a real possibility. In spite of it all, they had to move on and stopped grieving for the dead.

As they were busy with daily chores like collecting water, lighting firewood, and other things that people did when there was no television or internet, a great brown beast and colourful man rushed into the village center. They looked at him in amazement. Was this a mirage or was this a real person.

Loud Mouth was the new leader of the Village people. He had been sleeping. The sound of hoofs smashing the ground and the great neighing of the horse woke him up sharp. He pushed through the crowd that had congregated to see the visitor.

He instantly recognised the ridiculous costume that this very dark man wore and knew that he was a Hamanite. He came forward and grunted and snarled and spat incomprehensible gibberish at the Hamanite who looked at him dumbfounded. He came down from his horse and began reading the royal decree that he had been given by the King.

The people of the village looked at him, equally dumbfounded by his exotic speech. Loud Mouth could not fathom a word, but he knew someone who may have run into these “darkies” (as the Hamanites were pejoratively known) before. He turned around and went to one of the huts.

He was in a conference with someone for a little bit. He came back smiling (he revealed all his brown teeth; if that sort of thing is a smile). He gave the Hamanite a firm handshake then…
tossed him down and broke his neck.

The messenger was subsequently chopped into pieces and served into stew. His horse was also slain and chopped into pieces. The flesh was dried and smoked. The Hamanite tasted surprisingly delicious for someone that smelt so much of feminine perfumes. And the horse would keep them for the winter.

How lovely. Loud Mouth liked wearing his cape and shoes and looking fancy. The children jested with the poor man’s clothes. The person with whom Loud Mouth had been in conference, came out of the hut, furious. She was not furious that they had eaten him, to reiterate he was delicious. She was angry that they were wearing his clothes. She ordered that they burn them.

She slapped Loud Mouth so hard he fell down and said, “There must be no sign that the darky was here. If he has come, more will follow”.

Southern Borea

The messenger had not come back for a few days. Although the journey was fairly long, it should be reasonably short on horseback. The dangers of the forest was apparent. Ali and the Community were having an argument over what to do next. The Commander wanted to expedite the colonisation process by using the missing messenger as a reason for them to march soldiers into the forest. Ali wanted to defend the natives by conveying the possibility of natural phenomena that may have slowed him. Drawing from personal experience at the claws and teeth of wolves, his account carried a great deal of weight.

The General simply sighed as he heard them arguing. He wanted to gauge the two men before making his announcement. What he had assessed was that both men had their own agendas and were not to be trusted. He took a breath and knocked on the door.

The Commander opened the door and graciously welcomed the General in. Ali and the Commander were already trying to get the General to support both of their points. The General stood silent. As the argument got louder and louder, he simply coughed.

They simmered down and apologised for behaving the way that they did. The General set down a letter on the desk. It had a red wax seal. It was the royal seal. This letter was a decree from the King itself. They nearly butted heads, eager to see what was contained. Before they could get beyond the King’s many titles and all the legalese that made this a legal document, the General said, “As of today you are both relieved of your duties and I am taking command. Your luggage has been packed on a dhow and you will return to Hama immediately. The Kingdom thanks you for your service. Your job is done”.

The Commander attempted a mild protestation. The General looked at him with a grave eye. They bowed to him and accepted his orders. The General less than cordially told them to get out and prepare to leave. He looked at his dagger in the almost entranced way that he usually did.

He came back, and got out. He stood at the docks waiting for Ali and the Commander to board the ship. Several ships were entering the dock. Ali looked at them, curious at what they contained. When he saw what came out, his jaw dropped. People clad in chains and dressed in loin cloths plod slowly while the Hamanite guardsmen whipped them.

They are bringing slaves, Ali thought in horror. As the ship was delayed, he quietly slipped on the boat with the help of a trusted friend. As far as the General was concerned Ali was gone and the real of colonisation could begin.

Hayifu, Hama

General Yeshu a Abdullahu was born from a family of moderate stature in the social order, without having too much or too little. He was large for his age. With his less than accommodating disposition, he was aggressive and impatient.

His father had been so embarrassed by his recent beating of his teacher, that he disowned the boy and threw him out of his house. Yeshu wandered the streets of the city of Hayifu, where he grew up, to mug people. Soon he was caught by the police. He was beaten terribly.

One of the police was so impressed with his resilience that he paid four gold coins to the corrupt jailer to let him go. He took the boy to a castle in the middle of the desert. Yeshu was stubborn and disobedient but quickly realised that there were stubborn and scary people than himself.

The boys were scarred and muscular. They threw knives, fought with scimitars, rode horses, carried incredible weights on their backs. Their hands were rough and the soles of their feet were like one thick callous.

They were the misfits of society. They were people who didn’t belong anywhere. They had been collected by the mysterious stranger who had brought Yeshu here. When he saw this place, he asked the man, “Who are you? Why have you brought me here?”

“The next time you speak without my permission, I will break your hand”, the Mysterious Man replied.

He took Yeshu to the Overseer. The old bent man and the strong mysterious man spoke quietly. The Overseer whistled and signed to some boys who were standing nearby. They punched Yeshu in the stomach.

They took him to a dark room. The threw him against the wall. They stripped him naked and threw ice-cold water on him. His skin stung from the cold water. He lay there, cold and in pain. For the first time since he was a child, he cried. They threw a bundle of clothes at him and told him to get dressed. They simply stook there, expressionless, watching him awkwardly try to piece together his dignity.

“Welcome to Sakaru. Follow me”, the Mysterious Man instructed.

He followed the man. He watched the men walk around like soldiers. They didn’t pay attention to him. They kept marching and training and looking terrifying. They were actually quite young but the scars and muscle made them look older. Moreover their unpleasant, dead expressions made them seem even older than rocks and trees. They were not people you befriended.

Sakaru became his home for a few years. It’s purpose and character were deep and formed part of some grand scheme that he never fully fathomed. From the limitations of what he could grasp and the little he was told, this was a school to train delinquent boys and turn them into men. They were part of the King’s plan to build a strong army by preparing its leaders while they were young.

Life here was difficult. The food was unpleasant, the training was arduous and the command structure was inflexible. The only respite available to them was prayer. Unfortunately this was the most unpleasant part of his experience. He had to believe in a God he thought didn’t have much interest in his life. From an early age he resolved God did not exist, his loyalty belonged to the King and his duty was to kill.

He grew through the ranks over the next few years and did quite well. Although the relationship with his fellow “inmates” was austere, it was the closes thing he had to family. Unlike his own family, here no one judged you or berated you. You were all suffering together. Petty jealousy did not feature. And in a pinch, he could trust these gents to risk their lives for his sake. It was then that he realised that family is not hugs and kisses and pleasant company. It is trust and mutual reliance.

He was eventually ready to enter active combat in the King’s special forces (an infant precursor to the machinery of espionage and subterfuge that exists in the bowels of the state security apparatus).

This force eliminated opponents, dealt with particularly difficult criminals and problems. It maintained the King’s power and order in the land. Then one day he received orders to prepare to take over the command of an army. He finally felt important. This position came with so many perks, he was surprised it’s business was war.

He came to realise two things: (1) he was not a great leader and (2) the Commanders of the army were lazy and selfish and King had hoped that men like Yeshu could remedy that. He awkwardly got into the process of leading. One day he was giving orders to a group of subordinates. They were clearly from distinguished homes. They acted the part: lazy and proud.

One day he grew so impatient that he took one of those boys and held his head against the wall. He ordered his friends to hold him down, which they did, terrified. He swiftly chopped off the offending boy’s hand and threw it on the floor.

“Disobey me again, it will be the last thing you do”.

His army quickly got in shape. Yeshu knew then that people respected you only if they feared you. It was your power over them and willingness to get rid of them that made them scared. This formed his style of command and he gained the nickname, Mamba, the deadly venomous snake of the forest. The boy’s father was important and wealthy man, who had connections to the King.

Yeshu thought that he would be dismissed or demoted. He contemplated his life without his job and there was nothing. He could be nothing and could do nothing other than this. It was then he realised that this was all he was. It was his identity. The King had the power to strip him of not only his position, but his identity.

He received a correspondence and was afraid that it was a letter of dismissal. To his utter relief and surprise it was a letter from the father apologising for his son’s and his own behaviour. Yeshu was amazed. It was then that he knew where his loyalty lay: with the King, 100%.

Southern Borea

Ali had slipped off the boat without being noticed by anyone. With all the new ships that were coming and the hurrah of their departure, it was difficult for anyone to pay attention to a man wearing a cloak, looking drab, dull and uninteresting.

He knew that the General could not be trusted. The General always seemed to know more than he said he did. He had outmanoeuvred himself and the Commander. The manner in which he presented that decree and treated them afterward was humiliating. He took his position and honour from him.

For now he could do nothing. Rather than sit in those cozy dhows, he paddled from Southern Borea to mainland Yasteria. He travelled for weeks, pushing his arms against the water of the sea. The waves rose and fell down again, taking his boat with them. He was like a ball being tossed by a juggler. There was no way to know whether he would fall or not.

Luckily for him, he survived (narrowly). With a little bit of gold, he was able to get a place to stay, a hot meal and a trip on a camel back to Komodu. He wanted to find a new crew to go to Borea with and find the famed Golden Sun.

His priorities had changed. Another variable was added to the mixture. What he felt for the Little Lady and the guilt that consumed him for what he did to her did not go away. As far as he knew, she was dead. And it had been his fault. He owed a debt to her in some way. Saving he village may be the best way to do that.

He went to a small dingy inn in Komodu and booked in. The thin wooden walls could not keep out the sounds emanating from the other side. His eyes could not close as his ears were forced to endure adultery and fornication.

He was no longer at the top and could no longer expect people to be less visible about their unique desires. These dark places at the fringes of society were the stage for people to live their transient double lives before going to back to the sobering reality of family commitment, social expectations and religious obligations.

In the morning he was able to talk a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy’s donkey, that knew this other guy’s second uncle twice removed. He said that the boat that had been carrying the Commander had mysteriously been looted and the crew slain by pirates. That could have been me, Ali thought.

Far South Deserts

Just as every country faces labour shortages, so too did Hama. The problem with Hamanites was that they were too educated to use for cheap labour. They had rights. In the King’s opinion, they were far more than they ought to have. Regardless they were his people, the high race. He found a solution to his problems, or more broadly, the problems of the nation.

The Hamanite Kingdom had stopped expanding south ward simply because there was nothing of importance there. The far south (as it was called), was just dry and annoying. In that area, there was a commodity that had been overlooked: people.

Nomadic tribes wandered from place place, following the herds, running from sand storms and looking for water. They were a relatively primitive society if they could be called a society. They presented the perfect solution.

Slavery (known more euphemistically as bond servitude) had been around for a long time. As Hamanites became more advanced, they reduced the need for slavery. And never had slavery been a state instituted practice. Unfortunately under this King, it became one.

The King ordered General Yeshu to round up natives and make them bondservants. In some feigned attempt at benevolence, the King out in place some slight protections for slaves to prevent excessive abuse and overwork. But slavery is slavery. They could also be free in seven years so that was a bonus. Somewhat.

So the General did what he was told. He rounded up thousands of slaves. They were sold by the state at auctions held every Thursday (the last working day of the week). The state made a large amount of gold from this. With cheap labour, agriculture and construction expanded significantly.

This same labour was being used in Borea to build a new colony for Hama. Slaves worked for a long time, quarrying stone, mixing mud, pulling carts, feeding the livestock and tilling the farms to produce food and build settlements.

Original settlement had change significantly. It was a city of 20,000 people called Rabatu. It had a massive fortress in the middle called the Rabatu Castle. It was a large structure that housed the government of the colony and gave a residence to the King, who visited sometimes.

The rest of the town spread outward. In a surprisingly forward-thinking feet of urban planning, the roads were wide and organised in grids. There was a “city center” of sorts where the House of Worship, open air market and stadium were located. Great walls were built around the city to protect it from invasion. The original docks had been moved to the east and expanded to the Port of Rabatu

Bigger ships could finally moor at the port. The town was a bustling place for business. It was linked to the port by a large stone road.

Battle of Vantage Point Rock

General Yeshu a Abdullahu was confident that he had left the settlement, which was gradually being called Ashadu. The name was odd, but apt. It was derived from a very archaic Arabic term for a port. He liked the name. It was fairly easy to remember and more or less sounded like a worthy name.

He had left his town in the hands of a competent administrator. While the man did not have years of war experience on his hands, he was a shrewd businessman who knew how to manage resources. In fact, it was this man, Elihu a Zakaru, who had devised the setup for the development of the town, and stressed the importance of controlled development.

As Yeshu a Abdullahu grew older and occupied greater positions of power he came to value those people he disdained. He had often look upon men who never went to war with contempt. Then he came to realise that everyone had a purpose and a place and that there were many things a soldier didn’t know and couldn’t do.

Elihu a Zakaru developed a system for collecting taxes and organising expenditures. He helped Yeshu a Abdullahu tackle administrative challenges that he stumbled over. What he liked most about Elihu was that he did not talk too much. He was an amicable fellow in private, a shrew one in business and a no-nonsense leader at work. He was a capable and trustworthy man.

Naturally there were those things which Yeshu a Abdullahu concealed from him, but at least he was trust worthy with those things about which he was informed and instructed to carry out or look after. It made it easier to lead the first campaign into the interior. Using the information that Ali and his men had supplied to him, he was able to map a route to the first known human settlement: the Village.

He marched his cavalry of fifty horses and fifty men. Yeshu a Abdullahu liked to travel light and expend as few men as possible. After a couple days, they arrived at a hill overlooking the Village. This hill offered a spectacular view of the basin below. There were rivers and forests and streams. It was a very beautiful country.

Rather than wait for night, they charged in immediately. They divided into two segments of thirty and twenty with one coming from the one side and the other coming from the other side. Then they attacked. They come down on the Village before the people could get an adequate warning. The mounted attack sowed an incredible amount of destruction in a short time.

They threw small balls wrapped in cloth at the huts. The thatched roofs caught fire instantly. Yeshu a Abdullahu had few archers climb the trees and give them rudimentary aerial cover. Arrows flew, putting every male person to an unexpected sleep. After a couple hours, the town was subdued and it came under their rule. The women and children were captured. Each one was branded with the mark of the state. They were now property of the state, and plunder of war.

Of all the people there, only one managed to slip out unnoticed. She watched her Village burn, their men perish and their women get captured from the safety of an erratic in the forest. She felt sick from the horror and guilty for leaving her people.

Nonetheless she was of no use to them. All she knew was that she must get to the nearest village and warn them: the Darkies are here!

The Village, Borea

The native women and children who were left, were allowed to mourn the deaths of their husbands, sons and fathers. They were given an opportunity to grasp the new change in their circumstances and status.

They were to be taken as slaves and assimilated into Hamanite society. They were to be taught to read and write the Hamanese language, they were coerced to convert to the Abrahamist religion and fit into Hamanite social and moral mores. Children under the age of 12 would be taken to special institutions where their native tendencies would be suppressed and prepared for seven years of bonded labour. Their mothers would similarly be assimilated into their society and made bonded labourers for seven years.

This reality had not yet dawned on these people. Unfortunately it was their new situation and would be their new situation for the next half millenium.

Rocky Creek Village, Borea

The lone escapee went to the nearest village. Her journey was dangerous and difficult and her hold on sanity and survival was fragile. But she determined to live and avenge her people.

She stepped on thorns. She was scratched by thistles. She stumped her toes on rocks. She sucked fluid from edible tubers. She climbed up a tree waiting for the wolves to go away. She cried often. Then she saw conical structures rise above the trees. Then she was filled with hope.

Rocky Cliff Village, Borea

Rocky Cliff Village was a small settlement of native Boreans located in the south of the subcontinent near a cliff overlooking a river.

The Village had been taken over by the Hamanites. They had burnt down the buildings, killed the man and taken the women and children captive. Only one person escaped. This person had travelled across the forests to the nearest known settlement to warn them of the coming Hamanite advance.

She had endured a difficult journey in the midst of personal hardship and grief, but successfully arrived. Weak and shocked, she was unable to relay the message she had come to deliver; she could not speak. Recognising this figure, the people of the village took her in and nursed her for a few days until she was ready to tell them what was wrong.

She was sleeping, with a maiden by her side to help her if she needed it. Then she suddenly woke up and jumped out of bed. She ran around in circles, shouting: “They are coming! The Dark Ones are coming!”

They tried to restrain her but she was too strong and fast and they were too afraid. Finally the Chief of Rocky Cliff Village came out of his hut and ordered the men to form a circle around her and close in on her so she could not escape.

They managed to hold her down. She took deep breaths and sat up. Then she told the people of the village the events of the past two years. She told them of the first Hamanites who arrived on the south coast, the first ones to visit their village, kill their chief and run away. She told them of the second time they came, attacking their village. Then, she told them of the attack that was imminent upon all the people of Borea.

She spoke of the fire-spitting rods that they had, the mighty beasts they rode upon, the flashing swords they wielded and their cruelty and relentlessness. The people of this little village were scared and it was apparent that they stood no chance.

Rocky Cliff Chief knew that they could not face this threat alone. He sent the strongest and quickest young men to other villages and homesteads to warn them of the coming invaders and prepare themselves for a fight. He fled with the elderly, women and children into the forest, leaving the village desolate, taking all their worldly possessions.

They looked back at their mud and grass homes and knew that life would never be the same again.

Thistle Bush Village, Southern Borea

Chiefs and headmen from villages and homesteads far and wide had received the warnings from Rocky Cliff Chief and acted upon his instruction to unite to fight them.

As news travelled and people learnt of these so-called “Dark Ones” or Darkies for short, stories were developed and embellished and conveyed and heard with incredible errors. Regardless, it was clear: the invaders are dangerous and will stop at nothing to assimilate their people and take their land. Being so rooted in their land and customs, the prospect of losing these things was unacceptable.

Leaders congregated at Thistle Bush Village to discuss what their response should be. Some called for them to flee to the north. Others called for them to try to find a peaceful agreement with the invaders. Others called for open war.

It was the cry for open war that rung loudest. Plans were made to strike the invaders first. In two months, only the Village and Rocky Cliff Village had fallen and the invaders were last seen several kilometres from Rocky Cliff Village. One of the scouts reported the Dark Ones building a great structure (in fact a fortress) where the Village once stood. There was work day and night. The outer wooden wall surrounded a complex of mud and stone structures that housed men and beasts, stored food and equipment.

More and more of the dark ones were congregating there. There was an outpost where Rocky Cliff Village once stood. There were some foreign-looking structures built on hilltops. It was the darkies’ way of asserting dominance over the land they took over, but they were some distance from any other settlements.

The easiest way to deal with them was to lure them into a trap. The Lone Escapee was asked to help them. She was immediately repulsed by idea. After some pleas and whimpering, she agreed to teach them some of the Hamanite language and customs.

Apparently Hamanites liked people who dressed up and looked ridiculous. So those who were chosen to go engage with the Hamanites and draw them into a trap, were dressed in the most astounding fashions. They war bark plates and massive head pieces of animal heads and tree branches and long grass capes.

They went to the outpost and yelled, “Minubonawenu! Minubonawenu!!”

The Hamanites looked outside. They laughed and laughed, until there was not a single person who was not on their knees crying. The natives were confused. From their perspectives, they looked exactly the same as the Hamanites I.e. equally ridiculous.

They were able to navigate their way over linguistic and cultural faux passé to say that they wanted to invite the Hamanites to a discussion on peace. The laughing and gauding happened again at the Fortress. Unfortunately it was exceedingly difficult to offend someone who was already plotting your demise and didn’t have a clue about what you were saying.

Lieutenant Rahamu a Hasanu was asked to represent the Kingdom in these discussions. Naturally the Hamanites were not interested in negotiating with savages, but it would be helpful to acquire information on the natives and ways to exterminate them. The natives led the Hamanites on a long journey to Willow Creek, where the native leaders were waiting to talk to them.

The natives felt good to be carried by horses instead of walking all the way. They felt very important and were almost surprised by their kindness and generosity. In fact they almost thought the Lone Escapee was lying when she said that they were evil. The Fortress standing in the place of a village was a formidable reminder that these powerful and beautiful creatures were also evil.

The party finally arrived at Willow Creek, but there was no one there. The two natives left them and said they would go find the leaders. The Hamanites waited for the natives to arrive. They never came back nor did their hosts. But the arrows did.

Waves of arrows skewered every one of them. Horses bolted, abandoning those they carried to face the wood and metal menace. Each Hamanite fell. The struggle was over in minutes. The poor darkies were relieved of their heads which were ceremonially impaled on pikes and left standing in regular distances throughout that piece of the forest.

Hopefully these darkies would realise that the natives are not to be trifled with.