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All The Sultan's Men

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220px-Colin_Chapman_(1965).jpgOlav Hexeberg was known across Ostport as an incredibly rich, powerful mining magnate. The wealthy Ostportian owned a large chunk of land in the Paranoff Mountain Range, allowing him to extort their coal, silver, gold, and iron mines for all they were worth. Aggressive business tactics had allowed him to expand his company, Rockford Mining, to sites across the globe. Very quickly, he'd been invited to Fulgiyan by their Sultan to expand and explore their expansive iron mines; something that would be quintessential for Ostport's own current industrialisation. 

At first, progress had been slow. Olav made the mistake of bringing Ostportian and Aelish workers with him, who quickly succumbed to the much hotter climate of Fulgiyan and suffered heatstroke, requesting that they be sent home. Hexeberg then hired hundreds of locals, who he was able to pay less and force to do more work. Since then, business in Fulgiyan had been booming, and favourable government deals back home to supply iron and refined steel had made an already rich man much, much richer.


At first, the Fulgiyan deal had been perceived to be a quick one. Rockford Mining would make a small fortune, leave the mines stripped bare, the workers unemployed, and bugger off home to look for other shores. However, Hexeberg had grown to appreciate Fulgiyan, accepting their odd cultural quirks and ways of life; the most notable of which was portrayed during the dinner, where he noticed how incredibly fat Selim III was. Back home, King Erling, while chubby, would never grow that fat, although that was more due to lack of a natural food abundance than through choice. The people of Fulgiyan also dressed differently, sporting lighter clothes and exposing more skin, something which would be considered crazy in the cold hellhole of the Prymontian territories. Hexeberg had initially struggled to acclimate to the heat, and had to substitute his thick, lined suits for more relaxed alternatives. Olav still insisted on wearing a vest beneath his shirt, more for common decency than anything else, which would often result in him being coated in a thin sheet of sweat during the day. For the money he was earning, sweat could be endured.

Another difference was the way the Sultan ate. He ate like a child, using his hands and causing a great mess. Hexeberg chose to use knives and forks that he'd brought from home, dining like an actual gentleman and man of power instead of a careless man-baby. In truth, he couldn't judge the Sultan, at least not openly. The man had permitted powerful, dangerous companies into his country, risking the abuse of several key industries, all so his country's economy could eat. That boosted Hexeberg's bank balance, and for that he was grateful.

"Business has been positive," Olav responded as he set his cutlery down, dabbing at the corners of his mouth with a napkin. The man was well and truly stuffed after the Sultan's generous offering, and while the food had been difficult to eat with cutlery, had been thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. "We continue to earn profit from the iron." Ostportians in general were men of very few words, for they would rather save their energy for staying warm rather than wasting it on unnecessary speech. If the Sultan required further detail, Hexeberg's aides would pass along written reports of the last handful of months in both Ostportian and the local dialect, probably for the Sultan to have a servant read aloud to him. As Olav insisted, business was booming and he couldn't be happier, even if his plain northern complexion didn't show it.

The few Ostportians that did stick around had been promoted to senior positions in the mines, and could delegate work to their Fulgiyani inferiors. During weekends, they'd spend their paychecks in nearby towns, enjoying a drink and finding local women to spend their nights with. Those that eventually returned home would continue writing to their beloveds, or even choose to stay in Fulgiyan to start a new life as an iron miner in a warmer, friendlier climate. With happy workers came hard workers, and Hexeberg was quick to see those benefits. 



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IMG_20160128_111148.jpgThe Company Man sitting at this table was new to the job. He had been appointed to this backwater of a country partially as punishment for the loss of a lucrative mining contract he was supposed to help negotiate, and partially as the last political appointment he would ever be able to get for his favours. The only mercy afforded to him was the fact that despite no chance for advancement, he would be allowed a comfortable salary for as long as he remained to oversee farming ventures and did not skim any money off of the top. His name was Ulthric, son of Chas.

He had taken to his job assuming that he would only have to sign paperwork, and make occasional appearances like the one he was making now. How he had been wrong. His first month on the job had been nothing but utter slave work! He had been forced into the unbelievable low task of meeting with suppliers and contracting groups in order to negotiate new deals after their previous contracts had expired, and to add insult to injury, he had also been forced to carry out periodical inspections of associated and company owned lands to make certain that their production potential was being met. Instead of having a room of a hundred lackeys to send off to carry out these tasks, he found that under his direct authority were no more than twenty men. Normally, he would have given them parts of his workload anyway, but as he soon came to understand it, they were all saddled with large workloads themselves, and there was no way he could alter their schedules without someone taking notice. Alas, his life had become one of drudgery.

Despite this, Ulthric was still obligated to dine with the local petty king and make nice with the savages. The locals ate like peasants, not even using a knife to run through their food, but instead preferring to just grab with their hands like they were drunken workers in a boardinghouse. The Prymontians on the other hand seemed to clean their mouths constantly before talking and also seemed to not wear hats leaving their heads exposed. Following the report from the Prymontian, Ulthric began to speak through his translator. 'All of our operations have been running smoothly since I arrived here, despite issues with your local peasantry trying to upset them with their frivolous requests. That said, we expect that the value of your spices will begin to fall with the advent of this new industrial technology called refrigeration which apparently has become so compact, that you could mistake one for an icebox! Not to worry though, we will find other markets to sell your products to.

With that final line he patted himself on the back. Despite the warmer climate and what people would say, the tropics were no paradise. Ever since arriving, he had been in a constant state of exhaustion from the heat and could not stand talking dealing with anything for too long. Considering his duty completed with his little speech, he resumed drinking the drinks being offered and eating the foreign food being put in front of him. The fact that some of his men had moved their families over to this country was a complete mystery to him. How they could stand the thought of living near these technologically and spiritually backwards people, he would never know.

Edited by Derthalen (see edit history)
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July 26. Port of Wulumuqi. Noon.

The young Bozaanist was nervous. Even flanked as he was by other men with clubs and swords, he continued to adjust his dusty, scratched spectacles. As the three dozen of them entered the main square of the Foreign Quarter, those holding banners let them unfurl. The red cloths bore slogans like "Expel the foreign menace and secure liberty at home!" and "One Fulgistan, democratic and free!". Poor, nervous Hussein climbed onto a fairly tall crate, no doubt containing goods meant for export, and donned his own red armband.

"Peasants, workers and downtrodden of my country!"

He gulped. That probably didn't sound very convincing. Maybe he should try waving something around. People in the posters were always waving things around. Hurriedly, he grabbed a sword from one of his fellow disciples, and hefted it above his head.

"The Sultan and the foreign devils at his back take all from this land and give back nothing but more toil and more suffering! We live in time of modernity, and yet our people work as slaves! Brothers and sisters, now is the time to make anew our nation, one ruled not by kings but by quorum and the people!"

At this point, a few people had begun to take notice, most of whom looked either nervous or dissatisfied. A few Madrians sat in the shade of a building, smoking, while various company men did their best to ignore the armed dissidents in their way. Hussein, emboldened, decided to go out on a limb.

"Who builds the railroad?"

A silence. One of the other Bozaanists, hoping to prompt the crowd into answering, shouted "Fulgiyanis!"

Hussein tried again. "Whose backs are broken in the sugar plantations?"

This time, the crowd had caught on. Nearly a score of voices responded, with varying volume, "Fulgiyanis!"

"And who must pay the Sultan's debts in their sweat, blood, and sorrow?"


"Brothers and sisters, children of this soil, who is it that will retake their country?"

The response, this time, was loud and widespread.



It was at this point that behind the unwashed faces of the crowd, the noon sun glinted on the bayonets of rifles, held by troops of the Royal Army. As the soldiers, roughly seventy in number, attempted to force their way to the center of the square, the Bozaanists gripped their makeshift weapons, and many of the peasants in the crowd picked up rocks, knives and hammers. All hell was soon to proverbially break loose.

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July 26, in the Port of Wulumuqi, at around noon.

It had been hard for Matteo and his crew. Ever since the dirty Mauridiviah tribe had taken over their homeland, they've been following one of the leaders of their true Madrian tribe of Triunforoh. That old man had taken them to the ends of the Earth and back, and has now dumped them in the colonial backwater of Fulgiyan.

Matteo and his pals had however established a proper business here, in the highly competitive market of shoe shinning. Of course, competing with all those 14 year old Fulgiyanis often caused them not to have enough money. Matteo however had a back-up plan for that: heroin. A lot of the locals lack the connections to get the high quality stuff, produced and processed back in Madria. Plus, it is a very lucrative market considering all the suffering happening around here.

And so, there he was. Smoking a joint with Victor and Fausto after a hard half day's work, polishing shoes and selling heroin on the streets of Wulumuqi. Of course, something had to go wrong right about now.

As that small man stood on some crates, wildly shouting in Fulgiyani about peasants and railroads, the trio's attention shifted from whether or not to continue working after this to the little man.

"Man, is that guy like, that Buzen guy all the peasants are talking about?" said Victor, coughing and red-eyed from the joint.

"Vozen, you idiot" snapped Fausto, finishing his own joint.

"It's Bozaan. BO. ZA. AN. It's not that hard, guys." said Matto, sighing and also finishing his joint. "We gotta get out of here. Wherever this guy is, there's trouble, and I'm too high to deal with trouble."

On cue, the Royal Army began to approach the square. Matteo, reacting quickly grabbed Victor's joint and threw it on the ground. He then proceeded to slap Fausto back into reality and, dragging them both by their collars, they began to push their way through the crowd, which was preparing for a bloody massacre. Whatever the outcome, one thing was for sure in Matteo's mind: He was not going to be one of the dead.


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Meanwhile in a nearby street...

Three Company Men were busy watching the unfolding scene. They had been walking to their favourite worker's cafe for lunch when they had noted an odd disturbance taking place nearby with the locals. Rather than get closer to find out what was being said, they had opted to hang back and watch what happened. This had evidently been the right choice. While they could not hear what was being said clearly, the words 'foreign devils' and the swinging around of a sword were enough to tell them that they were not welcomed. One of them crept closer to see how the crowd was reacting better and then froze in his tracks. Local soldiers had appeared and were making their way through the crowd. In a matter of crystal clear clarity, he rushed back to his fellows and said this 'Inform the head office of peasant unrest here and also tell the manager to have the guards be deployed to protect our assets, the situation is ripe with tension, and it appears that those native soldiers are about to light the tinderbox. We need to get back to work now!' With that, the three men began a mad dash back to their respective compounds and offices in order to alert the troops to possible trouble. The first one worked near the centre of town in an administrative building, despite its central location the building had been made like an old fashioned build hall. In order to enter the building you had to pass through some metal gates into a small courtyard with a single heavy double door and lots of windows surrounding it. It was ideal for defence as long as the attackers were not interested in burning the whole place down. As he arrived, he noted that there was already an odd murmur in the air. He practically slammed into the nearest guard and shouted 'Lock down hall and do not allow any locals in!' before sprinting into the building to report to his boss and to use its telegraph line in order to pass on the warning. Thankfully, his superior was in his office when he came rushing in and instantly bellowed for the remaining guards to take up defensive positions and to prepare for a siege. He set to having the telegraph operator relay his message right away.

The second man was less fortunate, he worked alongside teamsters. His entire workplace was filled with native labourers, and it only had three guards there in order to check the workers for stolen items at the end of every shift and to stop any would be horse thieves. As he came in sight of the building, he slowed to a light jog so as to appear more casual and carefully made his way to the office. His luck was absolutely rum. Due to the need to quickly dispatch labourers and transports, the whole place was designed for quick and easy access. The only two areas which were remotely defensible, were the stables (which were filled with flammable material) and the office where he worked itself. There were only two windows, plenty of desks, and a small area with iron bars separating it from the rest commonly referred to as the strong room despite its open appearance. What came next was a mixed blessing. His boss had gone out to lunch, and with his early return he was the one in charge there. He quietly informed his coworkers about the situation, and then informed the guards. A plan was formulated. Two of the guards would stay in the office and set up firing positions and cover behind the door, while the third kept watch at the entrance to the teamster area and kept up appearances. As soon as the first signs of trouble appeared, he was to run to the office and while his comrades fired out at anyone who tried to follow. If all went well, everyone would be safe and sound in the office with the local savages having to cross a wide open area to try to get at them. The only problem was ammunition, the guards only had around thirty rounds each. Hopefully things were going to be fine.

The third man worked at the docks keeping track of exports, arrivals, and various other figures. His run was by far the longest, as his place of work was right next to the water. Around halfway there, and he could already hear the first sounds of gun fire coming from part of town he had left. As he ran he saw fellow Derthalers and shouted at them 'Get back to you work places, there is a riot!' before continuing on in his long sprint back to the docks. He was lucky in a way, as his workplace was the most well armed and protected of all three. The docks dealt with large quantities of valuable materials and money, and as such required a sizeable force of armed guards to keep would be thieves from attempting anything. As long as he could make it there and not get caught outside during the riot, he would be fine. With this in mind, he continued down the streets running, and running, and running until he was almost there. A couple hundred more yards and he would be safe. Really, his entire journey had been quite stupid though. He laughed to himself as he realised that the guards at the docks would have gone on alert as soon as the sounds of weapons fire were heard. Realising this, he could not help but have a wry smile on his face as he clarity dawned on him again. He would have been much safer following one of his friends to their workplaces, but no matter, he was almost there...

Edited by Derthalen (see edit history)
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  • 4 weeks later...

August 1st. Outskirts of the village of Guhuan, Western Fulgiyan.

"We are gathered, Big Sword of Jochi's Orda. What have you to say to us?"

The group of chieftains sat astride their horses in a loose circle, their mounts bedecked in finery and hunting trophies, damascened swords and imported pistols hanging at their sides. All of them had answered Jian Bozaan's summons out of respect, but not all were sympathetic. The one who had spoken, Batbayar, was one of the latter. Jian's horse stepped forward into the ring of men; all eyes were on the revolutionary who seemed to have changed so much in a few short years.

"We cannot live as this. You know it is so as well as I. "

"Such is our way; it has been thus for centuries."

This was Nergui, of Baliq's Orda. A good man, and level-headed. Jian would have to win him to have any chance at the rest of the north.

"Nergui, in those days there were no steamships. No railroads, no aeroplanes. Our world is changing, turning like a great wheel. We must either jump onto the wheel or be crushed by it. Even now, our sons and brothers work like slaves for the outlanders. This is not our way; it has never been our way. I have read the works of the Iberians; they understand the plight of the Fulgistanis better than Selim the dog ever could."

If the others were discontented at Jian speaking badly of the Sultan, they did not show it. Their horses shuffled and pawed anxiously, awaiting a break in the tension. Batbayar nudged his mare forward, bringing him into the circle with Jian. 

"You talk of foreigners debasing our country, yet you would remake it in the image of a crazed Europan. Fulgistan is not like Iberia; Fulgistan is Fulgistan. You want to erase our way of life, not preserve it, Big Sword."

"You raise a fair concern; I have studied the text, and I find that it, unadulterated, will not suit our people. However, if we make changes, to suit ourselves and our nation, I believe that communism is the way forward for the people of this nation."

"The way? To throw away our riches and our herds, our land and our property? 

This was a clear challenge, and a tipping point. He had to win them over now, or all was lost.

"Would you not care for your child? For your sibling? Your parents and grandparents? Of course, this is your duty and your great love. Is it not right that we should each treat one another like sons, brothers and fathers alike? That no one in this country ever need go hungry, that no foreign devil ever again make exploitation of us? Friends and brothers, this is that time. And we are the ones who alone can bring about this. To you who answered my call, I promise you this: join me, embrace communism, and the ordas of the people shall bear your names into eternity. To those who will not join me I can promise only their erasing from history. So says Big Sword Bozaan."

There was only the whickering of the horses until old Nergui pointed his sword skyward. There was no shouting, no adulation, as the other chieftains did the same. All were resolved: this, or death.


Jian Bozaan, aged roughly 42, 1920

Edited by Fulgistan
Forgot the photo, like a fool (see edit history)
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