Azure Three Bezants: Bill of Rites

The chanting was a low mutter in an Egyptian [1] dialect different from any David had heard before; he was fluent in the language, but between the echo off the sweating stone walls and the strange fricatives, this invocation lay maddeningly beyond the edge of comprehensibility. Sometimes three cognates in a row would leap out at him and he would imagine he understood what the chorus was imploring their gods to do; then a particularly rapid series of fricatives would break the illusion, and he would be left with only the monotonous background “ia, ia”.

He swallowed nervously, trying to ignore the chanting and focus on his task. It hadn’t seemed very difficult when Nenet had told him what to do: Walk up to the altar, cut his thumb with the obsidian knife, let three drops of blood fall on each of the five symbols that his eyes couldn’t quite resolve in the flickering torchlight; they seemed vaguely animal-like, but stubbornly refused to come fully into focus. It was different now, in this close temple cellar that retained the humid heat of the day, with too many people breathing in it and the scented smoke from the torches stinging his eyes. He took a stumbling step forward, and almost fell, dizzy from the heat and the disorienting chanting, but steadied himself by biting his cheek, hard. Don’t let them see you sweat, he told himself firmly. That old family saying applied even more strongly to contacts who were brown and insisted on making you go through a silly initiation rite before they would let you buy the choicest goods. Pushing his momentary confusion aside, he walked steadily to the altar and picked up the knife.

He hesitated a moment; the Aiello were brought up with secret rituals that would get them all killed if the outside world knew, but they didn’t involve blood and unintelligible chanting. Usually no blood, he corrected himself; there was the thing on the eighth day after a boy was born… and if the truth were told, David had never been very sharp at Hebrew, either. Still, he took a moment to check whether he was doing anything explicitly forbidden. No eating meat sacrificed to idols, no problem, no meat in sight. No worshipping foreign gods; that was fine, he wasn’t worshipping anyone, just sprinkling some blood. And, of course, he had been promised some very lucrative deals; the alpha and the omega. Decisively, he stabbed at his thumb with the knife.

It was useful, he thought in the few seconds it took to sprinkle the blood, to have a religion which explicitly stated that you were to follow the letter of the law, that the letter was the spirit. A Christian might have had to refrain from this silly native ritual, and the associated money-making, even though there obviously weren’t any actual supernatural beings involved. Just an ancient Egyptian superstition, that was all.

Very ancient, a voice in his head agreed; and for a long, terrible moment the chanting was a vast and inhuman laughter.

[1] That is, Coptic. In this history the displacement of the old Egyptian language by Arabic mysteriously ceased about 1204 AD.

Azure Three Bezants

With colonisation complete, I abandoned the Exploration group in favour of Economics; I also completed Maritime, replacing Global Empire with Grand Navy. My navy is, for the first time, approaching something like its force limit, at the moment a little over 200; I am building a lot of light ships to protect my Mediterranean trade. Further in the interest of my Mediterranean trade, I went to war with the Templar Republic to seize Tunis; with sufficient power in that node I could, in principle, cut off something like one-fourth of the inflowing trade to England’s monopoly in Genoa. In practice this will not in fact work because England owns almost all the territory in Genoa and gets a humongous “trade upstream” power in Tunis, without even considering the English navy; but I didn’t think of that before the war. In any case, Tunis is my clear sphere of interest and looks good in light blue.

My ill deeds come back to haunt me; the province of Girnar, which I gained from the previous war with Peshawar due to peace-rule abuse, is now the cause of renewed war as the Indians return to reclaim their sacred territory. It is, however, a somewhat weaksauce haunting, what with Persia and Uzbek joining to defend me. Currently this war is stalemated on the Persian and Himalayan fronts, where neither side dares attack for fear of being defeated by bad terrain. This has tied up large forces; a small raiding army of Indians has made great inroads on unfortified Siberia, but are about to be driven back by the Venetian Expeditionary Force.

The Jackal continues not to exist. I assure you there are no supernatural entities in this game!

Eurasia, 1650

Eurasia, 1650. Note the vast Fandangese occupation of worthless and unfortified Uzbek provinces in Siberia.

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Filed under Azure Three Bezants, Dominion over Palm and Pine, Recessional

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