Iran, Shahdom of

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Foundation: 1752-1759Dead.gif
Capital: Al-Harkam in Carmania
Religion: Sunni Islam

By Martin Helsdon


Arising from a civil war in Persia, following the War Against the Beast, the Daemon Sultan, the Iranians invaded India, enjoying initial success. The Hussite backlash, however, rapidly destroyed their realm, and the Shah of Iran abdicated his throne to become the Grand Master of the Tamerhadeen, the Knights of Tamerlane, later known as the Grivpani i’ Timurlenk.

The History:

Still to be written.

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1751 - 1752 T211
Safavid Persia: Shah Nusayr devoted enormous efforts to rebuilding the lands between the two rivers which had been so devastated by the war against the Daemon Sultan. Unfortunately, due to rampant corruption on the part of the regional governors and their agents, most of the money dribbled away into the sand. Nusayr, enraged, ordered the Grand Imam onto the carpet to account for this scandal. Unfortunately, when guardsmen arrived at Bal'ami's abode, the minister was dead - a suicide. Greatly disgruntled, Nusayr launched a wide-ranging anti-corruption probe into his own government.

This did not prove wise, for the normally canny shah angered many loyal men now placed under suspicion - and one of them decided to protect his own honor by raising his hand against the shah. A brawl followed in the Imperial Offices and when the pushtigbahn separated everyone (smashing more than one noble face with a mailed fist) shah Nusayr was choking on the floor, a flensing knife in his gut. Though rushed to the doctors immediately, no one could keep the young Emperor alive. Nusayr died at the age of thirty-one, leaving no heir of his body, only a fourteen-year-old brother, Bahram, and a conniving sister, Fatima.

A 'silken brawl' immediately erupted in the halls of power in Semnan. Lord Abbas, the satrap of Bactria, aligned himself with Fatima, marrying her, and attempted to push aside Hasan al-Sundar (the only other noble of repute in the city). Indeed, al-Sundar did not live out the month, dying of a peculiar wasting disease. With Fatima at his side, Abbas now declared himself regent for the youthful Bahram (who was now placed in 'protective' custody).

This did not sit well with General Mahmud in Kuwait, who immediately marched north to succor the 'captive prince'. At the same time, Bahram Suren (a gruff northerner, notably loyal to the dead Nusayr) also proclaimed his support for prince Bahram at Bukhara and marched south with his own army.

The sole other general with any power, Al'Qadir (who had most recently successfully mismanaged massive irrigation projects in Hahmar and Abadan) declared no support for either party, though he did march south into Abadan to seize control of the port of Basra.

Suren was the most immediate threat to Abbas' regency, so the Great Vizier led the Imperial army north into Kophat Dagh and surprised the northern general as he was approaching Merv. Outnumbered by no less than four-to-one, Suren's attempt to rescue the prince was doomed. The loyal general was seized and hung, his men disbanded and some taken into the ranks of Abbas' army. Now the Great Vizier turned south again.

Mahmud, meanwhile, had reached Shir Kuh and stopped, taking refuge among the many fortifications in the province. He was in constant correspondence with Al'Qadir (who was now in Ahvaz, having rousted out the governors of Kuwait and Abadan and replaced them with his own men), seeking the support of the Army of Mesopotamia. As the Great Vizier marched south through the wasteland of Kvor, Mahmud realized his only chance of survival (now trapped between two pretenders) was to throw in his lot with Al'Qadir.

As a result, when Abbas and the Imperial Host swarmed over the mountains, they immediately clashed with the Mesopotamians and Mahmud's loyalists at Kurheh. Abbas commanded 41,000 men against Al'Qadir and Mahmud's 28,000. The Great Vizier faced a formidable defense, well-entrenched and fortified… but he did not shy from battle, not with his airships quartering the sky and the earth shaking with the tramp of his host.

Sadly for Abbas' dreams of empire, his furious assault on Al'Qadir's prepared position shattered in a debacle of staggering proportions. His airships were unable to penetrate the wall of rockets and anti-airship fire thrown up the Mesopotamian veterans and his infantry abjectly failed to break through the fixed defenses. Worst, the Vizier was badly wounded by a stray artillery shell.

His army staggered back through the desert of Kvor, a pale-faced Abbas' carried in a litter on the back of four white stallions. The Vizier did live to reach Rayy, however, and immediately set about regrouping his battered army. Down south, meantime, Al'Qadir and Mahmud fell to bickering once more - a long drawn out affair which ended in the late fall of '52 with Mahmud suffering fatal steel indigestion and Al'Qadir declaring himself Shah of Iran. This did not prevent Mesopotamia from revolting from Al'Qadir's control (borne up on a rising tide of Karidjite fervor).

The Shahdom of Iran: The Iranians control Hahmar (Nasiryah), Kuwait (Kuwait City), Abadan (Basra), Ahvaz (Shankar), Fars (Abas), Media (Hamadan), Zagros (Al-Wan), Persia (Tehran), Khvor, Shir-Kuh (Kerman), Kuh-laleh-zar, Mand (Cem), Bandar (Ormuz), and Carmania (Al-Harkam). Subir Al-Jawzi, who had led the fleet on a surveying trip into Indian waters, accepted Al'Qadir's rule when he returned to Al'Harkam at the end of '52.

1753 - 1754 T212
Arnor: Within three months, an involuntary tide of refugees were choking the roads south and east into Chandellan territory and an equal crowd of Hussite settlers was spilling in from the north-east. Casualties were rather heavy for the Arnori, including Prince David - killed by a native woman with a cleaver who caught him unawares at the latrines. Still, after about six months of fighting, the province was subdued. Settlement had begun in earnest when the Duke received stunning news from home.

The Persians had invaded.

Shahdom of Iran: After lengthy negotiations on the disputed frontier between Iran and the remains of the Safavid state - assisted by representatives from Sweden and the Islamic Union - Al'Qadir and the Great Vizier managed to reach an accommodation. While portions of the south would remain in Iranian hands, they would abandon much of the central plateau and allow the Safavids to reclaim something of their previous domain.

As part of the settlement, prince Bukharm moved the Iranian court (and all its attendant business, vendors, hangers-on, pretty boys and girls, etc.) to the bustling port of Al-Harkam in Carmania, where the clerks and scribes and ministers would be closer to the lands Al'Qadir hoped to rule.

The Iranian fleet was immediately unleashed to ravage shipping in the Gulf of Oman - but only Arnori, Albanian and League shipping was attacked. Somewhat to the surprise of the Iranians, their depredations were soon joined by a squadron of Javan trimarans flying jaunty skull-flags. As there were no Hussite men-of-war or frigates on patrol in the area, their losses in merchantmen were heavy.

Having decided that coming to the "aid" of his fellow Moslems in India was preferable to fighting a protracted civil war in Iran against the Safavids and their Unionist and Swedish allies, Al'Qadir launched his armies into the valley of the Indus in a two-pronged attack. First, Subir al-Jawzi led nine thousand lancers up through the wilderness of Baluch to pounce on the lowland towns of Sukkur. At much the same time, Giv Gudarz (al'Qadir's general of armies) marched across the harsh Carmanian plains and through the desolation on the border of Edrosia. They expected to encounter heavy Hussite resistance, for the martial spirit of the Arnor was well known… and the vast ramparts of Schwarzkastel legendary throughout Asia.

The Iranian armies swept to the walls of Schwarzkastel in November of 1753 . Much to their surprise, they encountered little or no resistance. The Ducal armies were still mired in suppressing the resistance of the Jaunpur to the Hussite migration. Gudarz stared at the sprawling, smoke-shrouded suburbs of Schwarzkastel and turned to his emperor.

"My lord? Isn't this city supposed to be girdled by some of the most stupendous fortifications devised by man? The rival of distant Malta, or the Long Shong Gate in golden Judea?"

Al'Qadir nodded, as puzzled as the general. It was quite clear the city - thriving as it was - had no walls, no garrison, no means of stopping the Iranians from seizing the capital of Arnor and everything within… lock, stock and barrel.

What garrison had been in the city fled - without walls or a leader - they would have perished against the disciplined Iranian troops - across the ferry to Surashtra beyond Kutch Island. Further north, al-Jawzi's cavalry army had conquered Sahis and Sukkur, including the city of Lahore (also without so much as an angry goat in defense), isolated Multan and were preparing to advance into the Punjab.

Finally, with nearly a year of campaigning past, the Duke and his armies bustled up the road from Jaunpur in enormous haste. Al-Jawzi abandoned Sahis and his abortive raid into the Punjab, scattering south like a cloud. Peregrin and his Arnori regulars pursued cautiously - they'd had enough of tricky surprises from the Chandellans!

A hundred kilometers south of Lahore, the might of Hussite India (including the recently constituted Hussite Legion) came within a hair of colliding with Giv Gudarz, the shah and the entire Iranian army on a dusty plain near the town of Bohjapur. The 21,000 Hussites made a wary advance into near-contact with 25,000 Iranians, then backpedaled upon realizing they were outnumbered. Schiller, commanding the Arnori force, used his two light zeppelins to best effect, keeping a distant eye on the Iranians as he withdrew.

Now the Iranians pressed the advance, plowing up the highway towards Lahore and Schiller and the Duke had to decide exactly what the devil they were going to do… the Afghans had returned to the mountains, the treacherous Chandellans were at their backside and the entire apparatus of government, as well as their only lifeline to Hussite Europe and aid was now in the hands of the Iranian dogs.

"We must fight," an ashen-faced Peregrin announced to his generals, "and we must win. Without Schwarzkastel… the Duchy is lost and every Hussite woman and child in India will perish, shrieking, on a Moslem lance."

"Not so…" Schiller rose, favoring his lamed leg, a glint in his eye. "We must retake the capital, then force them to dig us out of a fortified position…" The lean old German turned to a cunningly drawn map spread across the camp-table. "…but we must move swiftly."

A day later, under cover of darkness, the Ducal army abandoned it's baggage train and servants, then sprinted south into the desert of Ajmer, essaying to force-march through the wilderness in a wide-ranging curve around the Iranians.

Six hundred miles later, with the two zeppelins circling warily above, the Ducal army staggered out of the desert and into the fertile plains of Sind. With a ragged cheer, the infantry broke ranks and rushed to the banks of the first canal they found, empty canteens in hand…

A massive, basso roar answered their feeble cries of joy. The orchard on the far bank was suddenly alive with motion - an entire Iranian infantry regiment leveled their rifles - and far to the north and side, the wings of Gudarz' army deployed en masse. Half-delirious from heat and dehydration, Schiller gawped in horror as a long rolling boom-boom-boom rippled across the fields. Clouds of white smoke puffed above the cotton trees. Flights of rockets soared up, hissing and sparking, angry claws reaching for the zeppelins circling in the pure blue sky.

"The falcon has keen vision," Al-Jawzi chuckled, raising a spyglass to his good eye, "but the mouse can see him from a great distance… and who can see a mouse in the thicket?"

The first day was brutal. The Arnori tried to claw their way out of the trap and Gudarz hammered them mercilessly. His men were rested, he had more artillery, more light cavalry… and still the Hussites inflicted a heavy toll on his troops. Schiller failed to break away, but did manage to fall back to a low set of hills three miles from the canal. Cursing, Duke Peregrin was forced aboard the surviving zeppelin and sped away to the south. The battered remnants of the Hussite army labored through the night to dig in on the hilltops.

The second and third days, Gudarz husbanded his men and had his artillery shell the living daylights out of the Arnori positions. The fourth day, as the Hussite troopers were drinking their own urine, the Iranian pushtighbahn stormed up the low, rolling slopes under a barrage of rockets and explosive shell and made bloody work among the revetments and shallow trenches. Again, the Iranians bled, but the exhausted Hussites were slaughtered to the last.

From a distance, Al'Qadir watched with narrowed eyes. The battle was one, but such things meant nothing in the crucible of India. He looked south, to the fading daylight sky, wondering where the last airship had gone. The shah had little time to ponder such things, for - while marching with his army back south to Schwarzcastel - he was nearly murdered by thugee who attacked him in his tent along the road. Though sorely wounded, the shah managed to fight them off.

By the end of the Iranians had managed to conquer and garrison the provinces of Edrosia, Sind, Sukkur, Punjab, Und, Sahis, Tarain and Uttar Pradesh. The cities of Peshawar, Multana nd New Dehli continued to hold out, held by garrisons of old men, Danish matrons and children.

Afghanistan: While the lowlanders spent themselves in a particularly violent orgy of destruction, Ahmad Durani and his bodyguards made a circuitous journey through Ghazni and Baluch, watching with interest from the high peaks as various Iranian armies tramped past and Arnori agents got involved in scuffles with the locals and died horribly.

General Bahulan returned (safely) from the southlands just in time to avoid the Iranian invasion, his men laden with as much loot as they could carry. Now the Afghans sat on the heights of the Khyber and watched the fun with interest.

Tewfik: The business of the House remained business, even as Persian and Iranian armies trampled the countryside, tore up the vineyards and generally spoilt everyone's humor. Despite the oppressive privateering activity in the Gulf of Oman by the Iranians and Javans, Tewfiki ships continued to ply those waters in relative safety, and now their reach was growing long… Saul was pleased with the prospects for profit.

Safavid Persia: Faced with the prospect of a devastating war over the central plateau and the rich provinces in the south, Vizier Abbas relented and agreed to meet with an embassy from the Iranian court. With Swedish, ARF and Islamic Union representatives looking on, the two factions managed to seal a suitable arrangement. Some of the south would remain in Iranian hands, but the northern Empire would be free to retake what had once been theirs… everyone seemed quite pleased. Everything was made much … easier… with a powerful infusion of Catholic gold, much of it in Norsk thalers.

Young king Bahram, with Abbas' hand on his shoulder, then issued a general amnesty for all those 'rebels' in the southlands. His newly-raised armies then took to the field to 'restore order'.

One of those armies was commanded by the newly minted lord Khayr al-Din, who hurried off north to the embattled city of Ufra in the wastes of Gurgan. There he found a busy port thronged with ARF and Swedish airships and the men of the Khirgiz Expeditionary Force. Those grizzled veterans had recently finished smacking about the Gurganites, allowing Khayr to garrison the province. This done, the young general loaded a force of three thousand Safavid regulars aboard the ARF airships and they set off to the south.

Passing over the hostile mountains of Tabaristan, Khayr and his men made a fierce show as they swept (still carted about on the northerner's zeppelins) through the Iranian provinces of Ahvaz, Kuwait, Hahmar, Abadan and Fars. In each place, they sent messengers ahead and dropped leaflets (provided by the Rostov Printers Association) relating the treaty of Kerman which had resolved the recent 'unpleasantness' between the Safavid and Iranian thrones.

Al-Maqdisi's army was also in motion along the 'great road' and Safavid control was restored in Shir-Kuh, Zagros and Media. While this pleased the Vizier greatly, Abbas was wroth to learn that Persia itself had repudiated the Iranians and declared its own little kingdom, while the highland province of Ferghana simply refused to pay taxes anymore.

ARF: A large portion of the Company aeroarmada, however, had been dispatched to the south, to Persia. Though the accomdation between the Great Vizier and the Iranians precluded any open warfare, the Company airships did get a few musket-balls through the rigging as they flew here and there in the south.

1755 - 1756 T213
Ming China: Though the Ming would seem to have no business meddling in Indian affairs, somehow the Office of Barbarians managed to entangle itself quite thoroughly in the Iran-Arnor war and the (hopeful) settlement thereof. Two fleets were dispatched to India, and the East India Company received a huge payment from the Ming Exchequer. The Empress was also minded to see her widowed sister-in-law Ye Geema out of the house…

Southern League: After intensive diplomatic maneuvering (most of which occurred far from India, in the council rooms and throne rooms of Europe) a tentative peace was struck between the northern Hussites and the Iranian (dare I say Aryan invaders?). This concerned the lords of the League for part of the settlement between the Von Hessens and their enemies was the declaration of a Treaty of Union between the remnants of Arnor and the League.

This stuck in the craw of many of the southern Lords, who knew too well they had been abandoned to the mercies of the Moslem Yasarids in living memory, and now the Von Hessen came crawling to them for refuge. Both Maximillian of the Carnatic and Joseph of Satava argued fiercely against any kind of alliance with the ‘thrice-damned northerners’ and their cursed royalty.

Arnor: His realm overrun by the hated Iranians, Peregrin (already in exile) fled south and disappeared, Moslem assassins dogging his every move. Despite their fanatical pursuit, the Duke managed to escape their clutches and vanish. His son Saul, left behind with a token force in Bhuj, was forced by the Realm’s erstwhile allies to sign a humiliating peace treaty. “This curst paper is the doom of every Hussite in India,” the boy declared as he signed the declaration of peace.

Iran-Arnor Treaty
The Realm of Arnor will cede all territory currently occupied by Iran to Iran with the following modifications:<br /
To Iran:
Rights to Bauluch
Rights to Ajmer
Jats, ceded from Arnor
Chitor, ceded from Arnor
Cities of Multan and Peshawar, ceded from Arnor

To Arnor:
Uttar Pradesh, ceded from Iran
Rights to Avanti

To Afghanistan:
Carmania/Al-harkam - The transfer of this province will proceed as follows:
The turn after Iran is able to move its capital out of Al-Harkam, Afghanistan will be allowed to take control of Carmania and half of Al-harkam.
After sharing control of Al-harkam for five turns, Iran will relinquish total control of the city to Afghanistan.

Arnor conditionally surrenders to Iran.
Arnor and Iran immediately exchange agreed upon territories and cities. Failure to meet this basic part of the treaty will invalidate all subsequent agreements and the war will continue.
Borders are declared open, various populations are free to move of their own accord.
Hussite, Ming monitoring force lands in Edrosia, and other locales yet to be determined.
Red Kross humanitarian force lands and sets up in various border locales to oversee refugees.
Arnori leader arrives in Schwartzkastel and escorts the remains of the Arnori government to Rajput.
Iran will cooperate with the IRK concerning the relocation of Hussites under its rule, contingent on the active assistance of the IRK in effecting those relocations.
Peregrin Von Hessen pledges allegiance to the King of the Southern League, who gains control over his foreign policy. Arnor becomes a duchy within that nation.
Iran and Southern League sign a peace agreement. This agreement will last for twenty years, and prohibits any overt or covert action against the other nation.
Iran pledges neutrality in Southern League-Yasarid War.

Iran, or its representative, delivers 500gp to the AEIC on the first turn, and delivers 100gp on each subsequent turn for 10 years. AEIC distributes these monies to the various concerned parties. Arnor / Southern League, Knights of Tabor]
Any flagrant damage to Iranian holdings during the transfer will be compensated by the Hussite circle of nations. This would include City Point/PWB/Airship Yard/Merchant Industrial Site destruction, not incidental damage caused by fleeing refugees.

Neither side interferes with the desires of various populations to move where they wish.
Mechanisms to downplay effects of famine and internecine strife to be determined.
No populations are to be moved in the first two years of the treaty.

The treaty was humiliating – the Arnor gave up all rights to the provinces the Iranians had overrun, even though those regions were very strongly Hussite. Only Uttar Pradesh was recovered from the Moslems in exchange. Word spread on the streets of Schwarzcastel, Lahore and Multan for the Christians to flee – but most did not. Unlike the Hindu underclasses, the Hussite settlers were well armed and entirely invested in remaining where they were… There was minor rioting in Edrosia and Schwarzcastel itself, where nearly the entire population was Danish / Greek Hussite.

The presence of a strong International Red Kross army (Carthaginian and Frankish in the main, with a large squadron of Albanians and some Danish ships in support – a total of 26 airships, 70 men-of-war, 48 troop transports, 12,000 men and 32 guns) quelled most of the violence for the time being. The presence of such personages as Emir Hamilcar of Carthage, Princess Margaret of the Commonwealth and Colonel Albrekt of the IRK lent gravity to the situation, though did little to reduce the overall potential for violence.

The provinces of Chitor and Jats, assigned to the Iranians by the treaty, simply revolted and refused to join anyone, even the Southern League. The unexpected arrival of a Ming fleet, accompanied by Hosogawan and Borangi ships, startled nearly everyone – the common people had no idea of the level of negotiation which had managed to forge the treaty. The shops of Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese merchants were burned and looted throughout the lower Indus. Word passed in the night, hand to hand, ear to ear, of the pressures brought to bear on the Duke by foreign powers. The darkness was filled with whispers.

We were betrayed. The Persians and the Chinese murdered us. Where is noble Denmark in our hour of need?

Shahdom of Iran: Though the threat of Ming intervention had secured Al’Qadir his new conquests and a little time to make good on them, he still faced a restive and thoroughly hostile population. What tiny portion of Persia he still controlled would soon have to be abandoned, due to the terms of the other treaty he labored under. Faced with such troubles, he scattered his army into garrison and labored mightily to build dozens of new fortified encampments to police the Hussites.

Still, while the various foreign representatives were still gathering the ‘Stalwart One’ fell ill – poison? – and died before the spring of ’55 had arrived. His son Bukharm hurried from Al’Harkam to Schwarzcastel and buried his father in a simple tomb. So was that the son of Al’Qadir signed the treaty, while the son of Peregrin Von Hessen stood, face black with fury, on the other side of the table.

The Iranian subadars standing outside the treaty room were fond of singing while on guard:

Mohammad's Fusiliers

Down through the pass of verdant grass their shovels slung behind them,
came beloved sons with long range guns, in Arnor you will find them.
Like new cadets out on parade they marched through morning clear,
so up kits boys, we're on the road with Mohammad's Fusiliers.
To the north the dusty toil of Subir's deadly ride,
and on the snare Ali prepared, young Jafar by his side.
It's up and at 'em, raise the flag, when the enemy is near,
they're on the run before the guns of Mohammad's Fusiliers.
A thousand miles in our brother's boots, no coffee, rest or tack,
and though we pray five times a day, our boots they found his back.
Into the bloody field they flew, the pale skinned foe appeared,
the Shah did send the mighty men of Mohammad's Fusiliers.
The dust, the sand, the final stand, we fought them man to man,
we laid to rest the very best of our proud and valiant band.
So if you walk the road of Sind and that fateful hill draws near,
doff your cap and praise the men of Mohammad's Fusiliers.

Efforts to establish a reliable census count in the newly conquered territories failed. Worried by this, Bukharm initiated a lengthy series of meetings in Schwarzcastel (now apparently the Iranian capital of convenience, particularly since Al’Harkam was now promised to the Afghans in an attempt to keep the Pashtuns from sweeping down from the Khyber and slaughtering everyone) with the leaders of the Hussite community. What he learned did nothing for the young prince’s sleep at night. He did lavish them with gifts, however.

In the north, the settlement saw the withdrawal of Iranian garrisons from Lahore, Multan and Peshawar and the establishment of Hussite city administration, though still under the threat of Moslem military might. Mand and the city of Cem were yielded to the Persians. In the south, Bukharm issued an edict restricting the activities of ‘mercantile concerns’ in Schwarzcastel (and thus, truly, all of Iran) to the Noble House of Tewfik. Those workshops and facatories which had been built in the city by the Albanians were granted to Tewfik as well.

Very early in ’56, a Ming Chinese squadron arrived at Schwarzcastel and disembarked a lightly armed ‘peacekeeping’ force to secure the city during the peace negotiations. The arrival of the Chinese precipitated a great deal of grumbling among the Hussite citizens of the city – along with rock-throwing, arson and near-riots. The Viet general commanding the expedition managed to keep his men on a tight rein, however, and there were not too many unfortunate incidents.

Late in ’56, another Chinese fleet arrived at Al-Harkam and unloaded a fairly powerful army of Ming and Borang regulars. The massive Chinese junks were escorted by a squadron of Hosogawan trimarans.

Tewfik: Saul rubbed his hands together in glee – the cursed Albanians had been ejected from India and now, thanks to the graces of the Iranian shah, the Noble House had secured possession of all their investments in Schwarzcastel. Tewfiki craftsmen were immediately dispatched to examine the machines, tools and plans therein.

International Red Kross: No sooner than the Society had been founded, than it was called into action in India. Colonel Albrekt was dispatched with a small fleet (filled with medical supplies, tents, and so forth) to Schwarzkastel in Hussite India. Upon his arrival however, he found the city in a tense state of stasis. The Iranians had clamped down with their garrison, the civilians were just waiting for a spark to ignite their hatred into open rebellion and thousands of Hussite and Buddhist troops were trying to keep the peace in the streets.

After meeting with local church and town leaders, Albrekt realized his charge to lead the ‘refugees’ out of the city to their new homes further east was only going to happen if the citizens (some of whose families had been living in Schwarzcastel for over a hundred years) were rousted out of their homes at gunpoint.

1757 - 1758 T214
Shahdom of Iran: Faced with an increasingly restive population (both Hussite and Hindu), the Iranians dug in.

The garrisons of Sind, Sukkur and Tarain established fortified cantonments throughout the provinces to secure Iranian control. The Shah also directed the settlement of nearly ten thousand of his soldiers throughout Edrosia itself. This was not likely to please the Hussite inhabitants… no, not at all. Of course, Bukharm was careful to absent himself from the province for the duration, returning to Al-Harkam to see to the care and feeding of his harem.

Nothing indicated the level of paranoia and tension in the court of the Shah than the ominous and unmistakable presence of the “Chin Guard” who watched Al’Qadir’s back and secured the safety of his family. Many in the court looked upon the foreigners with distaste – why should an Aryan king need these barbarians to protect him? The truth was even less palatable… the entire edifice of the state rested on the presence of nearly 20,000 Qing troops encamped in and around Schwarzcastel (plus a large number of Borang mercenaries, and three fleets of Qing and Hosogawan warships). The honor of the Aryans was a little soiled by holding such a barbarous overlord.

Even more troubling, the citizens of Carmania (a poor and destitute province, particularly by Persian standards) wholeheartedly embraced the Karidjite revisionism introduced by Tewfiki merchants constantly coming and going from the port. All this was noted in the travel journals of an Afghan soldier named Akmed Bahulan who traveled to the port of Al-Harkam in ’57 and then returned to his mountainous home in ’58, having failed in his mission for Shah Durani of Kabul.

While the shah’s generals Gudarz and Mahmoud al’Basrah were poking a hornet’s nest down in Edrosia, Subir al-Jawzi was picking a fight with the Hussite Rajputs in Chitor province. The foolish nature of his enterprise, however, was belied by a swift, victorious campaign shedding a minimum of blood. Subir’s lancers shredded the Hussite infantry and ran circles around their knights. The baron of Chitor was forced to make obeisance to the Shah.

The attempt to force the Arnori citizens out of their farmsteads, estates and homes in Edrosia was inflicted by the Iranians at bayonet-point. The presence of the Red Kross with tents, water and food did little to assuage the fury of the betrayed Hussites in the valley of the Indus.

“Traitors!” Screamed mobs of outraged Hussites, flinging bricks and offal at the Red Kross workers. “Pawns of the satanic Qing!”

Qing, Borang and Hosogawan troops took the field and stepped up patrols in Schwarzcastel, trying to keep the lid on. But the presence of the hated Chinese and their lackeys fed more oil into the flames gathering among the citizenry. Worse, the still sizable Hindu underclass now found common cause with the Hussite landowners – the Moslems were well known for their outright destruction of Hindu temples, and the Buddhists were even more reviled…

In September of ’57, while the Iranian army was trying to organize the evacuation of the Hussite inhabitants of Schwarzcastel, the entire Indus valley erupted in The Great Revolt. Edrosia, Sind, Sukkur, Bauluch, Punjab, Sahis, Und and Tarain rose up in a frenzy; mobs of citizens attacking every Iranian outpost and garrison, the Bauluchi highlanders sweeping down onto the plain to take revenge, the Ajmeri and Jats desert-men slipping into the cultivated lands to slit a few Moslem throats…

Though some might have expected the rebels to call upon Peregrin of Arnor to succor them, to lead them, they did not. He too was disgraced in their eyes[1]… the stolid farmers, craftsmen and merchants of Danish India would free themselves from tyranny!

The rising in Edrosia drew the immediate attention of the Qing / Iranian / Borang army, resulting in widespread slaughter. While battles in the streets of Schwarzcastel made the gutters slop with blood, the Ajmeri, Jats and Bauluch converged on Sind and obliterated the Iranian garrison. With Subir al-Jawzi and his lancers tied up fighting in Chitor there was nothing to prevent the isolated garrisons of Sukkur, Punjab, Und, Tarain and Sahis from being enveloped and besieged by hordes of Hussite and Hindu rebels.

The garrison of Sukkur put up a stiff fight, but was overwhelmed. In Punjab and Und, particularly vigorous Iranian commandants managed to crush the local rebellions before they could rightly form. The rebels in Sahis and Tarain, however, managed to gather their forces, then attack the garrisons and rolled up the Iranian presence from east to west. In middle ’58, they were joined by the remaining rebels from Und and Punjab.

Meanwhile, the ‘International Peace Keeping’ force in Schwarzcastel was locked in a brutal house-to-house battle for control of the city with (essentially) the entire population. Buildings burned, artillery leveled whole blocks, the harbor districts roared up in flames and smoke, and thousands were killed in the crossfire. After two months of constant battle, the revolt was crushed. More than half of the IPK troopers were slain, wounded or missing. Forty-four thousand civilians (armed and not) were dead. The city itself was a smoking wreck, nor more than a shell of its former self. The rebellion in the countryside was also suppressed with equal vigor. At last, with their villages in flames and their menfolk dangling by the roadsides or consumed by the charnelhouse of Schwarzcastel, the Hussite population began to flee up the road to the north and safety.

In the wreckage of the port, the Borang contingent had been wiped out (along with its commander), the Qing forces were nearly shattered and the Iranians were exhausted. The Qing commander Kuo Cheng had fallen in the worst of the fray.

The settlement of Edrosia did, however, succeed. While the port burned, Giv Gudarz had been slaughtering civilians and driving them off their land with a will. In late spring of ’58, however, a Hussite army (composed of the diverse rebels in the north, as well as the bands of raiders come across the border from Ajmer, Jats and Bauluch) swept out of the north with fire in their eye and a forest of lances newly washed in Iranian blood.

(Punjab and Und, as it happened, were still under Iranian control, but the decision of relegate those garrisons to regional fortifications stole their mobility).

News of the Hussite counter-attack struck fear into the hearts of those Iranian and Qing commanders in the south, but Giv Gudarz was made of far sterner stuff than the palsied sub-commanders who had succeeded Kuo Cheng. Claiming their first duty was to ‘preserve the army’, Dhin Duy and Joo Siah rushed to board their fleet and fled, taking the five-thousand-odd men they still commanded to Mei-Guo in Muscat to ‘regroup’.

This left Gudarz to face thirty thousand angry Hussite troops with only 13,000 of his own. Finding the odds not particularly palatable, the Iranian general marched day and night and managed to evade the Hussite rebels and reached the modest safety of the Carmanian mountains. Mahmoud al’Basrah, meantime, took over the defense of Schwarzkastel itself.

The Hussites, who had now organized themselves under the overall command of John Abraham of Bauluch laid siege to the city with a portion of their force while the rest harried the Iranian settlers out of their newly won homes. While this second round of slaughter and misery transpired, Al-Jawzi had learned of the revolt and had daringly led his horsemen across the wasteland of Jats to arrive all asudden in Edrosia itself. Then the Iranians dashed east, trying to meet up with Gudarz in Carmania.

Unfortunately they now traveled in an entirely hostile countryside, where every herdsmen, shepherd and milkmaid was a hostile spy. Al-Jawzi and his riders were caught at Khosal, a dozen miles east of the Grand Trunk Road by Abraham’s pashtun horse-archers. Despite great personal bravery, Al-Jawzi’s command was destroyed on a dusty afternoon and the daring captain taken a prisoner.

John Abraham now spent the last months of ’58 besieging Schwarzcastel (oh, unhappy city!). This time the port was fortified and defended – but against the markedly superior siege skills of the Hussites, the Persian defense was doomed. Of course, they suffered too without a fleet to support them with supplies (though there were Carthaginian and Albanian ships aplenty in the nearby waters…) and no one knew the byways of the old port as well as those who had grown up in it’s once beautiful streets. Al’Bahram was captured with the last of his men.

[1] Plus, Peregrin was from a dynasty of southern Hussites – latecomers, Macedonians, really Greeks – not the pure stock of the northern Dane. So the rebellious lords had little truck with him and his failed schemes.

Afghanistan: A mission sent to the southern provinces returned with empty hands, having been turned away by the Iranians in Al-Harkam.

Safavid Persia: Bahram stifled a laugh at the torments befallen the Iranian rebels. “Just desserts,” he said under his breath, lest Allah hear. Still, he did send lavish gifts of coin and gold bar to both the Iranians and the Islamic Union.

1759 – 1760 T215
Baluchistan: John Abraham also betook to reduce the immediate pressures on his government by granting the town of Multan a charter as a free city and reducing the alliance with Jats and Ajmer to merely non-paying tributary. After dealing with these matters, the King marched his army north (accompanied by Prince Solomon) and invaded the Punjab, intending to root out the last of the Iranians loitering about there.

Soon after John Abraham had left Schwarzcastel he received news a very dusty column of Carthaginians had marched up from the south to New Dehli and encamped there.

The Baluchistanis, meantime, had punched into Punjab and found the province defended by a very strong Iranian garrison – and one which now found itself on its own, as the Iranian shah had abdicated his throne (see Iran, below). Sadly, no matter how strong their fortified cantonments were, barely three thousand Iranians just could not withstand the fierce assaults of 24,000 Baluchis.

Punjab was reduced and then Und. The Hussite populations of both provinces were ‘liberated’. Prince Solomon, in fact, found himself married to a likely Punjabi girl.

Afghanistan: For his part, Ahmad Durrani had been very, very careful to keep out of the wars in India. His mountain kingdom was more than enough trouble for him – what with the feuding clans and the restive Hazaras and the Persian refugees and all of the strange religious groups creeping from cave to cave in the mountains. He had, however, joined the various kings and shahs of Persia, Iran and Prester John in settling the matter of Al’Qadir and his fate by establishing the Knights of Tamerlane.

In the south, meanwhile, Akhmed Bahulan and the Royal Army had marched out of the hills and into Carmania – all ready and willing to shoot it up – and found the Iranians waiting for them with a key to the city. Having turned over the province, the Iranians (now Knights of Tamerlane) rode off to the north to their new fortress near Bukhara.

Near Bokhara, Central Asia: Bukharm waited on his horse in the morning’s building dawn. A strong, melodic voice called the faithful to prayer in the mosque across the square that sat outside the old walls of the city, ancient walls that predated these difficult times. Pensive, he reflected on the recent years, the civil war and his father’s unshakeable fascination with India. “A new Moghul Empire,” Al'Qadir had promised. No dawn that dream; more like a sunset. No, thought Bukharm, a nightmare.

A cacophony of hooves yanked his attention back to the empty square. Riders, numbered to match his own bodyguards, carefully filled the far end of the square, eyes darting rapidly and alertly about the structure. Bahram followed them in and the two sovereigns approached one another, stopping by a fountain near the center of the structure. All others had been blocked from the market this morning. The two men greeted each other, warmly, but guardedly.

“Peace be upon you,” Bukharm mouthed ritualistically. Bahram paused and arched an eyebrow.

“Peace,” he repeated, a speculative tone belying his thoughts. “Will there be peace for Iran?”

He gets to the point quickly, mused Bukharm. But he said nothing. What he could say about that question was still terribly unclear. Iran’s prospects for retaining, really regaining, any control in the cesspool that was India seemed remote, at best. No one had suggested testing Persia, who had begun to grow strong again, even as Iran’s empire in India had crumbled under the impossible weight of the Indian dream. Besides, few could even remember the reasons for the war in the first place.

The sound of the morning prayers from the nearby mosque saved him from trying to provide an answer he did not possess. “It’s time,” he said, glancing at the now clear Eastern horizon. Bahram nodded agreement, and each man drew a rug from his horse’s riding gear and spread it on the ground, facing west and a bit south. Side by side, they knelt and prayed the ritual prayers near the gurgling fountain. As they finished, Bukharm was ready for what he was certain would come next. He can only want to discuss reconciliation. Bukharm wondered if should have come; he was not ready to stop being a Shah.

“What will it be, back into India?” asked Bahram, although his eyes betrayed that he knew the answer already. Clumsy, though Bukharm, he never did have the polish of a true diplomat. Still, Bukharm could not help find himself amused by, and even drawn to, the energetic young Shah: his face never failed to speak volumes, and he was difficult to dislike. Bukharm had known the younger King at court, then a prince, years before the war. Even then, mused Bukharm, he charmed them all.

“You have a better idea?”

“Few good choices seem to be available to you,” responded Bahram carefully. “You’re considering Africa, no doubt,” he dangled the hook. Bukharm’s silence was cut by an appraising look. “Yes, I agree,” said Bahram. “You think India was a powder keg? Just give Africa a try!”

“Fah! I’ve told my advisors the same thing a dozen times. They’re fools to look there for our future.”

The two Shahs walked through the East arch of the square, serious riders securing the path ahead of them.

“It all seems a waste to me,” offered Bahram. “Chopped to bits in India, or Africa, or even Asia. To what end? What will men say about you, about Iran? That you died for pride?”

“But still an independent country!” shot back Bukharm. “Not one that went crawling back to Persia, begging to be taken back or protected!”

“We both know the time for that is past. Iran has a life of its own, now, however little is left of it. But we are all Persians at heart. All Muslims. Can we not find important work to be done?”

“What, the Hussites?” Bukharm spat Hussites as if it were the foulest profanity ever to issue from the mouth of Shaitan.

“Are the Hussites really our most important work?” Bahram shot back disdainfully. “Can you name even one Hussite nation that you have reason to fear today? No, not a single one,” he continued artfully. “Besides, the Hussites still have an important part to play in the work ahead of us, and have yet to prove themselves to be our enemies.”

“But someday….” countered the older Shah, wearing his foresight on his sleeve. “They say they covet the lands between India and the Mediterranean. And India may yet be the launching point for such a move.”

“And you will forestall them by attacking them now?” Another meaningful pause emphasized Bahram’s point. “We must look to our own house, and let someday take care of itself. Look around us. To the West is the Union, from whom we must buy grain to feed our people.”

“Foul heretics.” Bukharm’s distaste was plain.

“Muslims, still…if barely,” Bahram reminded him. “More importantly, our lands are infested by those who practice abominations. Our ally in Europe has been cleaved in two, and asteroids shower the earth in fire and death. We cannot allow ourselves to bicker each other into oblivion, like the idiot Europeans. We must strengthen our own hand, be our own allies, and draw together the people of faith. We dare not repeat the mistakes of others.” Bahram could see his counterpart struggle with his reasoning. He sees the wisdom of this, if only he can let go of his hate, he noted, as they passed a stand of trees, a small mosque coming into sight before them.

“How do you propose to do this thing? This thing that has not been done in three and a half centuries of Persian history,” Bukharm reminded him, pointedly.

“Not me, brother. You.”

“How can the Shah of a bare two million accomplish all this?” Bukharm turned to look at Bahram, challenging his seemingly insane statement. The mosque was emptying, and the street, although remote, filled steadily with people. The privacy of their conversation, though, was guarded by the menacing stares of the dozens of elite horsemen who occupied the grounds.

“As a Shah, you can’t,” replied Bahram slowly. He paused to allow Bukharm a moment to gather himself. “But as a Prelate,” he went on, “as the leader of a Sunni order, with your army,“ he gestured at the elite Iranian riders, many of whom he’d known when they had guarded his family, “you could be a formidable tool of Allah. Measure that against the slow wasting, or the sudden violent death, of all Iran.” His stare glanced from Bukharm to his riders, and he could see that he was beginning to win them over, too.

Persia” he continued, “cannot do that, not alone. She can be the voice of Sunni Islam, as she has, but her hands are weighed down by the administration of government. You can be the free hand that advances our cause, and that binds together those of our faith in action, and that eventually bridges the gaps between us and our wayward brothers.” Bahram knew that his companion would understand: peaceful reconciliation between Sunni and the Shia…perhaps even the Kharadjites; it was crucial.

Bukharm paused, but Bahram saw in his eyes that his mind was made up. Bukharm knew that he was right: those eyes held a hope, a hope and a purpose that was not there before. He had not misjudged the character of this able and battle-scarred leader; he would rise to this occasion as any other great man of purpose and faith would. It would be a start. Bahram smiled a broad smile that broke down the last wall of reluctance in Bukharm’s heart.

“And what will we call this order of yours…of ours?” he corrected himself.

The mosque whose doorway they were now nearly standing in was small, and little known to those who lived in the city, now or in the past. It was not among the most beautiful in the city, nor the largest. Its tiles had long since faded from their original bright blue patterns, and many were missing, lending it a sad, scarred character. It had been built centuries before when the city was much smaller, and far from the city’s center. Its outside was unremarkable, except that it in the courtyard to the side of its humble arched entrance it kept a modest stone statue of the ruler to whom it had been dedicated so long ago. “I suggest,” said Bahram the Bold, Shah of Persia, indicating the statue with a sweep of his arm, “that we call it The Order of Tamerlane.”

The message was clear. The mission was bigger than Persia or Iran. It encompassed the soul of a whole people, the urgency of their survival and prosperity, and the legacy of the hundred thousand horsemen who had followed Tamerlane out of the steppes into the lush civilization of Persia centuries before, and in doing so had created a new order in the Middle East. Now the rich morning light seemed to breathe the appearance of renewal into the worn marble horse and rider. Bukharm Al’Qadir, Shah of Iran, studied the enormity of the mission that the grimacing, mounted stone Tamerlane laid before him…and with a moment’s hesitation, judged himself worthy of it. He signaled silently to his groom for his horse. “I’m going back to Al-Harkam. There’s much to do,” he said, without fully recognizing the prophecy of his words.

Bahram nodded, and reached for his own mount. Much to do, indeed.

Knights of Tamerlane: Bukharm accepted his fate, bitter though it seemed, and turned his face to the future.

In this late hour, I realize that holding together the Shahdom of Iran is hopeless. The Hussite Kingdom of Baluchistan cannot be held, and my remaining provinces are too weak to stand alone.
Throughout the lands, memory of the civil war with Persia grows dim, hastened by Persia’s recent aid, both that which was visible and that which was not. Bahram’s emmisaries have told me also of Bahram’s lament of the failed experiment in India. They say he laments the loss of good Persian blood, which has been shed too easily and too often in recent decades.
What future is left for Iran? The dark continent of Africa offers few prospects for my people and little reward for my armies. India is a dark hole into which blood and gold seem to endlessly fall. All that is left is our faith, so it is there we must turn. With my lieutenants, I shall form a holy order. The Knights of the Islamic Order of Tamerlane. There is much good work to be done.
Riders approach, bringing word from the far reaches of the Islamic world. Persia and Prester John will help found the order, and Tewfik sends word of its recognition of the order and welcome gold.
Then it is done. I shall renounce my crown and go forth with my faithful elite, trusted advisors, beaurocrats, and a cadre of intelligence agents and spies to a Sunni stronghold deep in Central Asian Persia. There my men and I will find purpose, for there is much that needs to be done.

Safavid Persia: The Iranians slunk home, tails between their legs, and set up shop in the old capital at Burkhara.

The Shahs

  • Bukharm Al’Qadir 1755-1759
  • Al'Qadir 1752-1755

The Players

  • Scott Stricklin T212-T214
  • open T211
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