|return of Yasko
Saladin's mercy, Saladin's rage
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Another all-against-one skirmish map. Place your keep in the lower right corner and place Saladin, Omar, Wazir, Nazir, and the Caliph in the remaining 5 keep locations allied against you (or choice of any enemy if you don't have the patience for long stories). You are at a height disadvantage, but a lot of grass land is at your disposal. Included is a long story. I hope you enjoy it. Have fun!
For years you have been fighting in the holy lands, an amazing soldier who’s fierce determination, talent, and perhaps a great amount of luck, have allowed you to climb the ranks and become a great leader and a renown crusader soldiers of the day. Even when an arrow pierced your eye in the battle of Hattin, you fought forward with the ferocity of a Lion. Crusader and Arab alike looked on in awe as you fearlessly led the charge, appearing to ignore such a deadly wound! Now 5 years later in the spring of 1192, having survived the travails of the 3rd crusade, you and your veteran nights trudge through the desert south towards a recently re-captured Acre. There, you will depart across the Mediterranean Sea back to your Fiefdom in France. Your last mission will be to escort a group of pilgrims and peasants to awaiting ships at the ports.
Then disaster strikes. A massive sandstorm throws you off track, somewhere at the feet of the Amanus Mountains. For days your group wanders the foothills in the blistering sun. Attempts to find the road south have failed. Water runs perilously low. Clouds form every evening, but no rain comes and hopes of survival run thin. All water rations are spent within a week. Then on the morning of the 10th day in parched desert, you smell water. Wind blowing from a crevice on the cliff face you’ve been following is belching the moist air. Your men rejoice for water must be near! The cliff opening is just wide enough to accommodate men, camels, and horses. You march single file through the mysterious opening towards an unseen source of precious water.
As you march on, the cliff faces of the crevasse gradually widen, the smell of water growing stronger. 5 kilometers and still no water to be seen, but foliage is growing ever thicker. Then, you hear it. The trickling of water. There, in the near distance a tiny waterfall trickles into a pool. You are saved. God is praised as grateful crusaders, pilgrims, and animals quench their thirst.
Venturing just beyond the pool, you find the cliff faces suddenly widen to an amazing circular arroyo. It had to be 3 kilometers wide! On the far side, you see a stream fed from faraway mountain rains rushing down the arroyo walls, ending in a waterfall that feeds the arroyo valley floor. This was the wind-carried water that drew you here. Oasis waters pool in the arroyo, verdant with grasses, trees, and wildlife. But there are also other signs of life. Five major encampments line the cliffs above the arroyo. All those years of experience assure you that they are Arab forces. They will not be friendly…
It’s not long before your caravan is spotted. Dozens of Arabian horses thunder across the arroyo floor towards your camp. In your current exhausted state you know you cannot outrun them through the cliffs you entered. You command your outnumbered knights to defend the pilgrims. You expect a fight to the death.
Instead, the mounted warriors abruptly stop, and a path is made as an aged, stately Bedouin warrior approaches. It is none other than Saladin himself; leader of the Muslim forces, unitor of the tribes. His eyes scan your knights, the pilgrims and peasants behind them, then finally a measured gaze to you in the forefront. A look of surprise flickers across his face, followed by a wry and knowing smile. He turns to his warriors and utters some words. Workers hastily erect a tent but 20 meters away, while a translator addresses you’re your caravan, “Salah-Al Din has decreed none shall be harmed today. You shall receive a day’s food at sunset. Do not think to leave. The passage to our sacred place will be blocked.” Then directly to you, “The Lion of the Franks. You will come with us. Salah-Al Din requests your presence.” You reply abruptly, “Not without my knights”. Saladin, whose gaze never left you replies, “You deny my invitation? Come. None will be harmed….today. You have my assurance.”
You and Saladin enter the tent. An assistant guides you to a rug in which to sit down on. Saladin does the same opposite from you. A servant offers refreshments and departs. A translator warns you to speak only when allowed to do so.
Then Saladin speaks,
“You know, I thought we could keep this place a secret forever from the men of the cross. Do you know where you are?”
“No, lord.”, you reply.
“Ah”, replies Saladin, “and unknown to you it shall remain. Our caravans use this oasis on our northern treks. Strange that we should meet here in my time of retirement. I was heading to the city that you call Damascus. I had thought my days of battle were over.” He uttered a quick laugh, “It seems it’s not, is it?”
Sitting around him are what appear to be leaders among his caravan. You’re suspicions are correct, as Saladin introduces them. Saladin had with him notorious Arabian military leaders of the day. You have heard of all these men. There was Emir Omar, a handsome man exuding confidence. He looks upon you with a condescending smile. There was also Nizar “The silent”, Wazir “The terrible” and a Caliph from the south lands nicknamed, “The scorpion”. These three men remain silent but tense. They glare at you with such unimaginable hatred.
After a pause Saladin says, “It is lucky for you, that you found this place today, is it not? It is only by my decree and such respect they have for me that they do not kill all of your men this very moment. And I would have let them….but then I saw you.” He continues, “I know your face, warrior. I was there at the horns of Hattin. It is no coincidence you are named “The Lion of the Franks” by my people. I could not just kill so callously such a great warrior and leader. You will not be a lamb to the slaughter. You shall die a lion, I think.”
Saladin sips his drink, letting his words soak in. At last he finishes,
“These wars have been cruel beyond reckoning. I have heard stories of your mercy to the defeated. So I grant you but one mercy in return. You shall have four days in this part of our oasis. Use it to rest and contemplate your end. Do not turn back, for the way is blocked. On the fifth day we shall come to kill you. Now go.”
As the Arabian forces depart, you turn to your men. “We have been granted mercy. At week’s end, there shall be rage. Today we rest. Tomorrow we prepare. Masons, build ramparts. Engineers, set to work on engines. Swordsman, sharpen your steel. We didn’t come all this way....to lose.”