Gurvan, Khanate of

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Foundation: 1757-1763 Dead.gif
Capital: Sargun
Religion: Sunni Islam

By Martin Helsdon


A short-lived Moslem horde that erupted into the territories of the Divine Kingdom of Judah.

The History:

Still to be written.

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1757-1758 T214
Judah: Unfortunately (though the priests had begun to make some progress among the Gaxun Nur) the arrival of generals Sifi and Twifo enraged the Moslem chieftains of Gaxun, igniting a sudden and unexpected war along the frontier. Moslem raiders burst out of the north and swept into the lands of the Lang Shan and the Lob Nor (clients of the Divine Kingdom).

A huge crowd of Judean commanders in the area (at least four of the Hand’s recent appointees) immediately fled for the safety of Yan’an city in Huang. The only one who tried to muster a defense of the frontier – General Sea’h – was killed in a skirmish while riding to meet the Lob Nor muster.

The Moslems, now massed under the command of Baylak of the Gurvanites, pressed the Christian tribes hard and – despite an attempt to bring the idolators to battle – succeded only in forcing the Lob Nor and Langshan tribes to flee south into the Divine Kingdom. This they did, flooding down into Ordos and beyond, into Huang. There they found the ‘four cowards’ huddling in the city, behind truly impressive defenses.

Meantime, Baylak’s tribesmen had burst across the Judean frontier, ravaging the provinces of Yanzhi, Wu Hai and Ordos. This invasion did not go unmet, however, as the Hand of God himself, accompanied by Prince Jui-Yen Bandares, marched east with all speed (and the entire Divine army) to repel the incursion. They reached Yan’an and found everything in great confusion – the fields tramped by the frightened Lob Nor and Langshan – fighting having broken out between the rural landowners and the smelly barbarians. The Hand stopped – taking the infantry, guns and engineers under his command – to sort things out, while sending Bandares north into Ordos with the cavalry army to chase off the Moslems.

Despite scouting aggressively with his zeppelins, Bandares failed to catch the nomads in Ordos – which was fairly ravaged by that time – and pressed on into Dzamin Uud, whence Baylak’s army had fled. Among the trackless wastes, the Judeans began to falter and were simply unable to make the same speed as the Mongols. Disgusted, Bandares turned around and rode off south again. Baylak’s attack was, therefore, quite unexpected – the Mongols were mad to attack an airship-supported army!

At Wubairha, 33,000 Moslem Mongols attempted to ambush the 30,000-man strong Judean army while it refilled canteens and water-bags at the oasis. A confused battle resulted – the Judeans rushing to mount their horses – while airships rained fire and shot down from a clear blue sky. The Mongol attack was beaten off with heavy losses on both sides. Bandares attempted to pursue, but the Moslems scattered into the desert again. Unable to come to grips with the enemy, Bandares retired into Ordos and tried to patrol the frontier as aggressively as possible.

Further south, another Turkish army (of swift-running infantry) pounced over the mountains into Kansu and laid waste to the countryside before withdrawing into Yanzhi. Meanwhile, negotiations with the Lob Nor and the Langshan had failed to win the Hand any kind of solution, so – in a fit of rage – he ordered his army to beset the tribesmen. A ferocious brawl erupted outside of Yan’an as the Judean guns suddenly erupted in smoke and flame, sending a devastating rain of chain and grapeshot into the nomad encampments. Nearly sixty-thousand nomads were slaughtered, plowing the earth with their blood. Both tribes simply ceased to exist. Afterwards it was discovered the ‘four cowards’ had somehow been killed –rather messily – in battle with the Langshan guardsmen.

1759–1760 T215
Khanate of Gurvan: Diplomacy Hsia-Hsia (^a)
Expecting the Judeans to storm into the wasteland and hunt them down like dogs, the Gurvanites squandered their hard-earned loot on guns (imported at great cost) and seeing the Bulingir given fresh horses. While Bujek remained with the main body of the people, wandering about in the sere grasslands of Gaxun Nur, Baylak learned from his scouts that the Judeans were remaining within their own lands, watchful and alert, but showing no signs of essaying the desert.

Emboldened by this, the noyan-khan struck swiftly north, into lands tenanted by the Hsia-Hsia and their subordinates the Tangut. The Sunni tribesmen[1] there were surprised to find so many Moslem warriors riding up from the south, but when a herald came forth, khan Jargay listened to the words of the scarred, hard-bitten Gurvanite.

“There is much gold in the south, and fertile fields, and the Cross-men are divided and war among themselves...”

[1] The map was wrong, the db has them as Sunni.

Prester John: While Queen Megan took pains to train and hire more scribes, clerks and men skilled with the abacus, two of her nobles were sent East to speak with the khan of the Tangut. Unfortunately, the wise and temperate words of Yissu-Temur and Ochigin fell on deaf ears – the Tangut and their masters the Hsia-Hsia wished to bring war and terror to the soft Christians living in the fat lands to the south.

Troubled, the embassy returned to the Queen in haste.

Megan was wary to learn this – the Gurvanite expansion had already cut the overland trade route to Judea – taking with it an enormous portion of the nations’ tax revenues. Further war would only lessen the prospect of restoring the caravan route...

Judah: Despite spending his time on the frontier, plotting the destruction of the Gurvanite barbarians, the Hand of God did not neglect his realm.

Rumors of the Manchu sending aid to the Gurvanites proved unfounded, though various Judean frontier patrols did report seeing signs of some kind of non-nomadic army marching about in the Dzamin Uud. Oddly, what trash and debris the scouts did find indicated another ... Judean army(?) operating in the desert.

A diplomatic mission sent into the hills of Lanchou came scurrying back, carrying the arrow-pincushioned body of General Sete. Apparently the highland tribes had no love for the Catholics down in the valleys.

In the east, the Emperor waited until his scouts reported the nomads had withdrawn from the immediate frontier, then launched a cavalry probe in the north (commanded by General Aimi from Kin), a strong push along the Silk Route into Yanzhi by We Lu and his newly raised ‘Army of Kansu’, and the main effort by the Emperor himself directly against Wu Hai.

As the Gurvanites and Bulingir warrior bands were all away in the north, trading manly stories with the Hsia-Hsia, the Judean attack went unopposed in 1759. Wu Hai and Yanzhi were both reclaimed and the Bulingir garrisons scattered. The raid into Dzamin Uud yielded nothing save the mysterious signs noted previously.

His victory complete, the Hand of God withdrew to Ordos.

This did not please Baylak at all. As the snows of March melted in ’60, the Gurvanite and Bulingir armies lunged out of the desert into Yanzhi, spoiling for a fight with the Army of Kansu. We Lu’s forces were in motion as quickly as they could muster from their camps and swept towards the invaders for a week’s quick march before We Lu suddenly realized he was probably outnumbered and the Hand of God was two provinces away!

The Army of Kansu recoiled, cutting north. The Gurvanites pounced, having advanced behind a deep screen of scouts. An almost-unheard-of cavalry clash developed at Tennger Els between 15,000 Judean horse and 33,000 nomads. Despite being outnumbered, the Judean regulars fought with discipline and grit, repulsing two mass charges by the Bulingir.

Bloodied and clearly outfought, the Gurvanites withdrew in a vast cloud of dust. The Judean army had suffered six thousand dead, but held the field. General We Lu, however, had been killed in the closing hours of the day, leaving his army leaderless. This did not prove to be of enormous import, however, as the Hand of God and the main Judean army reacted with considerable speed, reaching Yanzhi only a few months later.

The Hand, as he had ridden south, had received certain intelligence indicating the oases serving as bases for the Gurvanites. Once his forces had reached Yanzhi and gathered up the battered remains of the Army of Kansu, he launched a second invasion of Lob Nor. This time, however, he sent his son Bandares in command of all the cavalry, zeppelins and light artillery at hand.

The Gurvanites were taken completely by surprise. Bandares and his swift-moving force pounced upon them as they were regrouping at Huretin Sum. Baylak had 26,000 men under his command as Judean airships suddenly appeared above the oases, raining fire and explosive bombs into the lines of his horses. 24,000 Judean horse stormed out of the desert with a wild whoop and a fierce melee was underway amid the palms and orchards.

The battle proved bloody for both sides. The Judeans paid a heavy cost to engage the nomads in close-order combat, but they hadn’t enough light artillery to pummel the Gurvanites from long range. And the nomads were slaughtered in droves by the withering fire from the zeppelins blackening the sky. Baylak broke off at the first opportunity.

Bandares pursued. A second battle developed to the north-east, out on the desert flats. This time the Gurvanites were smashed, their corpses littering the salt pan for miles. Bandares finished off the survivors, captured thousands of horses, and then turned for home.

Meantime, while the Hand was waiting for his subordinates to return from their foray into the desolation, Aimi’s force in Kin was ambushed by the Hsia-Hsia, who had crept up to the frontier and then launched a swift, dagger-like campaign to break past the border forts and into the heart of the Empire. When news reached Aimi (at El’Khudz) of the incursion, he marched out to cut off access to the Yun valley – and was encircled and attacked at Huringer. Despite a heroic stand by the Judean infantry, Aimi’s army was smashed and a bare thousand horsemen escaped with the general to flee across the mountains into Bao Ding.

El’Khudz itself was sacked by the Tanguts (who spared few, if any, of the citizens) while the Hsia-Hsia swept south into Yun, burning and looting as they went. Shan’si was also pillaged before ’60 ended, with the Hsia-Hsia swarming around the heavily fortified city of Tai-yuan, eagerly seeking a way in...

The Hand, meantime, had managed to march his massive army back to Kin, closing (he hoped) the trap behind the raiders.

1761–1762 T216
Khanate of Gurvan: With absolutely no assistance coming from their Moslem neighbors, the Gurvan found themselves in a sticky situation. The might of Judea would only grow unchecked while the limited numbers of the tribesmen would shrink. Still, the Hsia-Hsia had plunged into the heart of the enemy, giving Baylak time to retire to the secret oases of Gurvan and Gaxun Nur to rebuild his army.

The noyan-khan was outraged to learn that Catholic missionaries (adapting to circumstance and martyrdom, as they always do) were infiltrating Gaxun Nur and slowly, steadily converting the tribesmen there to the infidel religion. He retaliated by ravaging the Judean province of Ordos while the Chin were off chasing the Hsia-Hsia.

In the south, the Hsia-Hsia separated into two smaller forces and scattered from Shan’si with all the speed their steppe-ponies could muster, hoping to avoid the avalanche of Judean troops sure to converge on the captured province.

Prester John: Keeping a wary eye on the fighting in the east, the Queen shooed away a clutch of Gurvanite emissaries, sending them home empty-handed.

Qing: General Heshan returned from the ferocious western mountains and made a desultory foray up along the Judean border to watch for the Gurvanites. They didn’t see any, which was lucky for the Qing.

Knights of Tamerlane: A haggard rider arrived from the east, bearing news from the deserts on the edge of ancient Chin. The Grand Master listened politely – his heart moved by the plight of the Gurvanites in their long struggle against the infidel Christians who dominated the Middle Kingdom – but knew the order was still too poor and weak to venture jihad against Judea. Not yet, at any rate.

1763–1764 T217
Khanate of Gurvan: Embattled, demoralized and facing annihilation at the hands of the Judeans (and patently abandoned by their fellow Moslems), the remaining Gurvanite warbands filtered back through the desert to the fortress at Sargun, to await the end…

Judah: Prince Bandares, commanding the Emperor’s forces in Kansu, received 17,000 fresh troops and orders to undertake a punitive expedition against the Gurvanite stronghold of Sargun, deep in the Gobi desert. General Aimi’s ‘blocking’ force in Yun was also reinforced.

Missionary efforts among the tribesmen of the Gaxun Nur were met with merciless hostility, causing the martyrdom of many Catholic priests and the slaughter of countless converts.

Back in the Middle Kingdom, The Hand decamped with his army from Huang and essentially vanished. Everyone assumed he had taken his massive host (in excess of 60,000 men) into the wasteland of the Gobi on a holy war of extermination. However, this was not the case. Prince Bandares and General Aimi were entrusted with that particular effort… their two armies converged on Gurvan, one marching from the east, the other from the south.

For their part, the tribesmen were demoralized and filled with fear for the righteous vengeance of the Judeans. They had, however, purchased a few cannon and reinforced the walls of the citadel at Sargun. All Baylak’s wan hopes were dashed when the first Judean zeppelin appeared in the sky over his desert fort and the first bomb plummeted into the breastworks, bursting in a black cloud of fire and smoke, scattering men like tenpins.

Bandare’s army was only 55,000 men strong, but the prince still let his gunners and aeroships hammer at the Gurvanite city for two weeks before the first wave of Yaqui jaguarundes stormed over the shattered walls. Baylak died fighting, bayoneted by a Judean solder in the hall of his palace as he and his servants fought from behind a barricade of bedding and bags filled with sand.

The ‘brigand’s nest’ of Sargun was then leveled, torn stone from stone, and the wells poisoned, before Bandares returned from the desert to more settled lands in the south.

1765–1766 T218
Prester John: Following this, the widowed Megan also took as her new husband (in a small, tribal ceremony) the exiled Prince Bujek, khan of the now-destroyed Gurvanite kingdom. No children, however, were expected from this marriage as the Goddess was 56 years old.

The Khans

  • Baylak 1757-1763

The Players

  • Derek Plymate T215-T217
  • Adam Rautio T214

Last updated: 8 April 2005

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