Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘nanowrimo08

Settling accounts

 

The fat wholesale merchants had a win-win situation financially and politically.  The small retailers were hanging on since their job was to pass on the increase in prices to the consumers.  Inflation kept climbing and the banks had to buy more gold at higher prices to keep liquidity circulating normally.  The little people were feeling the crunch.  One new factor emboldened the common people: a centralized authority was emerging due to natural processes.  Frequent clashes with the Iskandaranian mafia flashed on a daily basis.  The notions of order and security were heard and demanded. 

Artax contracted State to State deals with the neighboring Maharajas.  Once Artax regains his legitimate throne then the Maharajas would enjoy preferred trade status with Persia.  Reluctantly, the fat merchant realized that they would have to take side and cover the expenses of military campaigns against their steady connections in the Iskandaranian mafias. The ever optimist fat merchants figured that once the mafias are weakened then the merchants will have higher leverage for setting prices.

Since Artax is a new comer to the region then the honor was bestowed to the maharajas to lead the military campaigns.  It was as good an offer since the fat merchants are paying the bill even if it was for the duration of only three months. Two maharajah men of war dusted off their heavy arsenal of siege and destruction that were rotting and dilapidated and new forests were cut down to make ready for the war machine.

            The Macedonian trained divisions and the Greek recruits have lost many of their effective in men due to business competition and were getting older; not so much in age as in fitness for sustained frontal assaults.  They were still a magnificent war machine if combined under a central command and it would not be by any long shot a quick and dirty enterprise to dislodge them from these inaccessible rocky regions; not by the army of Artax anyway who had not engaged any enemy for long time but still it was a disciplined army that was kept on the march and is environmentally “battle tried”.

Seleucus understood that he was to negotiate a reasonable deal with Artax since he would have to take the brunt of the war in the Pakistani side.  The other more important factor was that Seleucus got secret intelligence that Ptolemy was negotiating with “Khosro the Magnificent”.  The piece of intelligence was wrong but persistent rumors are potent weapons because you end up believing them.

Artax was determined to control the Khyber Pass at any cost: didn’t he promise his troops up north “I shall return” when he received the infamous news of the take over?

Reaching Eden

 

As Artax pursued his advances through Northern Pakistan and Kashmir, he discovered a variety of cultures, civilizations and religions that could take him a lifetime to comprehend and transfer their best aspects to his people. His new plan was to settle in these countries and investigate the extent of its spread and wealth. At long last the troops of Artax found their ideal urban center.  Azarabad was a prosperous City-State with wide connections to the Iskandaranian mafias and the neighboring maharajas. It looked good and smelt good to Artax and he settled down.

During that whirlwind of a campaign, Artax had created two regiments of women soldiers. One regiment was engaged in real combats as mounted archers, on horses and chariots. They were also equipped with short light swords for emergency engagements such as to prevent any outflanking maneuvers by the enemy cavalry until reinforcement arrives. The other women regiment was on reserve and generally employed to supply the army. They furnished clothes, footwear, tents, equipments, food and unavoidably, for nursing the wounded.

 

This commercial City-State had already the rudiment of a new business unknown to Artax of what we call now banks.  After learning the purpose and procedures for running banks Artax invested in just one bank to get a hand on training.  Merchants were encouraged to leave their money at a safe institution when joining a caravan. They recuperated the same amount at the place of their destination.  This facility discouraged organized thugs that harassed caravans. It also made the Monarch and his associates richer by three per cent on the total amount deposited in the safe castles.  It goes without saying that Artax army was in charge of securing the forts and castles for salary.

Competition was encouraged and some financial institutions started educating the less fortunate travelers to the benefits of this commerce; a few even invented a credit system. Soon, people dared travel more frequently and the economy boomed. 

Iskandaranian Mafias,(fiction, continue 21)

 

Artax learned the whereabouts and business of the three Macedonian trained divisions.  The divisions have taken hold of the strategic passages between Afghanistan and current Pakistan. They started on the business of brigandage, kidnapping, and all sorts of highway robberies. By and by, their business units stabilized on legitimate transactions.  The natural process cut in half the number of shareholders through a series of inner civil wars.  The two officers Seleucus and Ptolemy emerged winner and alive.  Seleucus and his band took control of the entrances fro Pakistan and had the monopoly on silk, spices and incense imported from India and China. Ptolemy controlled the entrances from Afghanistan and monopolized opium, furs and the slaves’ trades.

Through costly trial and error procedures, Seleucus and Ptolemy learned to respect the spirit of free market and free passage to the Afghanis tribes. Thus, the Afghans were not charged any entrance or exit fees and their caravans not inspected or intercepted.  The non-Afghanis caravans were taxed by adult heads over 10 year-old.  The task time measurement science proved that inspecting the belongings and ballots and bags and sacs were discouraging the soldiers and the return on minute inspection was not beneficial.  They opted for a straightforward head count and the appropriate rate to cover monthly expenses.  Thus, the entrance charges fluctuated but were decided on both entrances at the beginning of every month.  There were extra fees when caravans needed guides in the passages, and they learned to need it, for safety and security was within the business philosophy.

Turn of events for a New Spirit

 

Naturally, we have no further feedback on the prowess of the company venturing farther north and we failed to retrieve any manuscript or diary of Boleyar Khosro.  The general direction of Artax army was south, discounting the many detours, natural dead ends, and re-direction to a potential stable, strategic, and fertile region.  The clan of the run, running Iskandar got wind of the inevitable approach of the Persian army.  The clan was tired of relocating and surviving on goat milk and milk based products.  The clan beheaded Cyrus Iskandar and offered the severed head to Artax.  The Son-God Incarnate sensibility was tried harshly and he reacted in kind.  Artax beheaded the perpetrators of this ignominy.  This clan and other clans in the neighborhood got the message that only the Son-God had the right and legitimacy to end human lives.  The poorer clan members joined the army en mass.

Lingering traits in Son-God Incarnate psychic

 

            The medium-term strategy of Artax was clear in his mind but he failed to share it with his highest ranking officers.  The Monarch intended to lead his troops north for a few weeks and then lead the main body of his army south to future Azarabad country.  The rational was first, to send a strong message to the “Magnificent Khosro” that he is not a match and his take over does not constitute any major worry to Artax.  Secondly, Artax wanted to test the loyalty of his army: He sensed that the ranks and files were dubious of his mental stability though he needed confirmation of the extent religious tradition can sustain temporary insanity of their Son-God Incarnate.  Surely, this sort of test at this junction was highly flammable though excellent if the strategy goes well without major damage.  Monarchs had always agendas that common people were left out to reflect on:  a sure cause for disasters most of the times.

The first week north went passably well but grumblings were crescendo.  Artax sensed the danger of pushing his loyal troops to their edge.  He thus gathered his troops and spoke frankly and openly of his medium-term strategy and his latest testing tactics.  His speeches were delivered around bonfires for each company at a time.  The next day, the soldiers expressed their attachment to Artax by calling him “Lance Corporal”, one among them and one of them.   Artax sent a company further north that cherished self-autonomy at the risk of extra hardship; he ordered Boleyar Khosro, the scholar who figured the North Pole to be at reaching distance, to join the company and plant the Imperial Standard in honor for all the generations to come.

Defying “Pavlov Reaction”

 

Artax troops were leisurely wandering in the Mongol steppes heading east and still hoping to link up with the troops of Iskander who was now on the run.  The most common of news, and the most dreaded, reached Artax:  A successful coup d’etat by one of a more “legitimate” cousin of his.  That renegade cousin claimed the title of “Khosro the Magnificent, the eldest Son-God Incarnate”.   In his guts, Artax foresaw this kind of turn of events and had hypothetically pondered his immediate reactions on receiving such news, supposing that he was not poisoned or murdered before the reversal of fortune. As long as the troops believed that Artax was the legitimate Monarch, which means his treasure chest was plenty, then there was hope to prioritize His dreams and desires.

 

Artax was faced with a serious dilemma; would he resume discovering new lands and new people or focus on his people?  What are the alternatives?  If he gathered his army and marched on his cousin then he would be obeying a natural reaction from any monarch and the reaction would agree to his traditional troops. The Monarch was analyzing a typical reaction that was labeled centuries later “Pavlov Reaction” but which intrinsically was targeted toward animal reactions after extensive training to a certain behavior. His army would urge him to march on his cousin anyway; otherwise, he might lose the confidence of his officers and soldiers to his legitimacy.  

Artax decides to keep both options.  He reasoned that the first angry reactions were beneath a wise and forward thinking monarch.  He will then resume the exploration with a much smaller army: These wastelands up North cannot afford a large expedition. 

He will also regain his throne by other means than direct and frontal assault by armies.  He doesn’t desire to mire his country in a textbook civil war.  He opts to bifurcate south to any region that is flourishing, fertile and close to His Estate Afghanistan and settle and refill his treasure chest and lay the ground works for a new Constitution and a Bill of Rights for the Persian Empire.  We didn’t have GPS locators at the time to offer precise coordinates but Artax troops headed toward what is called now Islamabad. Most probably Artax had named it Azarabad or the City of the Sun God Azar.  Azarabad was on the Indus River and close to impregnable mountain chains with easily defensible passages.

Confronting a most difficult decision

 

In those two years of wandering within his Empire, The Imperial Monarch had to reorganize his army and civil administration before attempting a hazardous decision that might take him far away and for many years from his base.  The first impulse of Artax was to pursue Iskandar and then lead personally the Macedonian trained divisions.  The problem was that Iskandar had already crossed the Khyber Pass and was ascending toward Kashmir, a very high altitude region covered with snow most of the year.  Arlax reflected that his army was too spoiled for these kinds of exertions and physical hardship; his only hope was for the Macedonian trained divisions to rebuff Iskandar insanity and backtrack toward Afghanistan.  Once again God satisfied the wishes of his Son and the officers of Iskandar refused to climb any higher and preferred a descending maneuver.

This timing of the refusal to continue was wrong: snow was melting and it was advisable to linger a month or two more for better terrain conditions.  Iskandar resumed his climbing with a few hundreds of his tribe warriors; he reasoned that his army would follow him by taking this bold decision but it didn’t work.  Actually, Iskandar preferred a modest but independent life in harsh weather than facing military court martial.

Artax started his journey north, sort of within his borders as he was told.  The idea was to initiate his troops to a climate comparable to Kashmir.  Suddenly they were amid the steppe.  Soldiers who were familiar to the desert south of Persia claimed that it was a desert with a twist; the weather was much colder and there animals lived there.  One particular mammal looked like an oversized goat with a donkey-like face and functioning like donkeys but with heavy, thick and long hair.  It was fun for a while capturing and mating these lovely and hard working specimen.

A scholar advised the Son-God Incarnate that if they advance a little forward then they might reach what is currently known as the North Pole. The idea of planting the Imperial standards at the farthest point up north was excellent but needed further reflection. 

Artax to cross over the Old World

 

Artax decision was firm; His army is to be smaller and lighter of any superfluous encumbrances.  Wives and concubines are not to follow the officers, much less the soldiers and cavalry.  The number of Imperial palanquins was to be reduced to the bare minimum and so many other traditional requirements that the personnel in management were so nerve wracked that their energy stopped flowing to their brains.  How to begin the re-design of the organization of this peculiar army? What are the specifications? There were too many unsolvable questions and nobody to refer to for even general resolution.  It was out of question to bother the Son-God Incarnate for details and the right hands of the Monarch, oh how numerous and redundant, never dared to approach the Monarch for further clarifications.

It was a huge mistake not to have retained one of those mixed Macedonian trained divisions, Artax kept lamenting in his mind.  An ingenuous idea leapt to Artas; it was necessary to intercept the arrivals of the fresh Greek recruits whose purpose was to share the glory of their beloved Alexander, not the “Afghani” Iskandar.  The Monarch had dispatched a messenger to Cyrus, his loyal “servant”, summoning him to detach one of his divisions to join His army.  The Imperial messenger never returned but a messenger of Cyrus reported events confirming that the Imperial messenger had not delivered the scroll. Consequently, the Imperial caravan was not moving forward even at a snail pace.

At every stop, circumstances and urgent intelligence carried Artax into different directions.  Strong suspicions of deliberate obstructions, the idea of sabotage was not in the Imperial lexicon, retained Artax’ reflection. Nevertheless, the zest and excitements of youth should never allow Artax to backtrack to his Capital and to indulge in the lures of magnificent comfort.  

After two years of permanent wandering within the confines of his vast Empire, the Monarch reached the decision to cross the borders of his Empire.  He doesn’t really care of conquering new lands.  He just wants the right of passage to explore the vast Universe.  Preliminary negotiations taught him the reality of life beyond his borders.  Bribing worked fine most of the time but there were exceptions to the rule.  He had to show force, determination and harden his heart while wasting valued soldiers. It was the price for the luxury of discovering new lands, people and civilizations.

Iskandar’s young and fresh army on the move

 

Cyrus was bewildered when two thousands of new Macedonian recruits arrived from Greece to join his army.  What happened?  H-2 Alexander had sent messengers to Greece before he was selected to lead the “adventure” and then his death was kept secret for some time before news of his untimely death reached Greece.  In between these two events Greece was in limbo; a few knew of Alexander death but were never believed; in fact they were treated as traitors sent by Persia to spread calumnies and weaken the morale of the Greeks.  

Those truth speakers were quickly put to death by the sword and the women stoned to death.  As a national reaction, all these youths who longed to join Alexander during his first incursion into the Old World were recruited and shipped by Persian connections, the real spies.  The Persian Empire needed these fresh Macedonian recruits because the Persians were satisfied with their conditions and didn’t seek loots at such a high risk into the unknown.  Within two years, as new Macedonians arrived regularly and in groups every three months, Cyrus “Alexander” enjoyed a large and young and efficient army of over 75,000 soldiers.  This is the kind of number that encourages qualitative reflections into gaining self-autonomy from central government.

The young fresh army was mostly constituted with Macedonians and Afghanistanis who had the looting spirit as chief motivator. The Unicorn Cyrus “Alexander” was replaced by the more common name of Al Iskandar, or Iskandar for short.  That new name was agreeable to the new army and to Cyrus. This tendency that the army was motivated by loot suited well Iskandar, other wise how could he lead this army to unknown lands?

In order to secure self-autonomy from the Son God Incarnate Iskandar resorted to three main schemes: first, he delayed as long as he could recognition of receipt of Imperial messengers.  Most of these messengers had a way of disappearing mysteriously on their way back. Second, Iskandar sent regular reports of achievement and occasionally a portion of the treasures that he might or might not have gotten hold of.  Iskandar messengers were selected from units far away from headquarter to minimize chances of the messengers learning of the rumors being circulated. Thirdly, Iskandar never rejected a petition from the Persian soldiers to return definitely home; that included the soldiers from the western provinces:  it was necessary to eliminate potential spies and the faint hearted soldiers who didn’t join for the loot but because of an Imperial order. In fact, Iskandar made it laudable and excellent traditional behavior to visit families or start a family.  Forth, Iskandar decided to keep advancing as far as he could from the Persian borders so that communication become very difficult and confrontation with an Imperial army more remote.

The major problem was that Iskandar and his army was not to expect support or assistance from central government, especially the crucial financial aspect in the organization.  Consequently, Iskandar was to focus on loots regardless of casualties since he could always recruit fresh souls with money.

Years later, it was rumored that Al Iskandar was worshipped and his face and Two-Horned hat sculpted on mountains in scales befitting the grandeur of a God.  Eleven centuries later, it is rumored that the Moslems destroyed these pagan figures because Alexander was never mentioned in the Old Testament as a legitimate prophet. (A plausible story since Taliban detonated two majestic and mountain sized Buda.  The “prophet” Abraham for example, who is recognized as the father of the three monotheist religions, is a very lucky man; he could get away with everything; he abandoned his Egyptian wife Hagar and his son Ishmael to die of thirst in the Arabian Desert. Many CEO’s are very lucky men; their golden parachutes open on ridiculously lavish bonuses even when their companies go bankrupt).

Cyrus “Iskandar” shining star

 

            Three weeks later, Artax sent an Imperial messenger to Cyrus “Alexander” ordering him to resume the project.  Cyrus was to lead “The Adventure Caravan” and Seleucus, the right hand of the late H-2 Alexander was to lead the advance guard regiment.  Cyrus had the honor of selecting two of the Imperial guards divisions as rear guard of “The Caravan”.

First, Artax had to secure exclusive rights of the title of Son of God Incarnate; thus, Artax summoned the High Priest of Egypt to his Capital Persepolis. The Son of God Incarnate snatched the crown from the High Priest hands and crowned himself Son of God. With a modest sized army, light in baggage but loaded with treasures and money Artax exited his Capital on a long journey.  Artax was to catch up with Cyrus; His travel this time around turned out not to be that straightforward or luxurious.

In the meantime, the fame of H-2 Alexander (better known as Al Iskandar in Afghanistan) preceded Cyrus “Alexander” in Afghanistan.  In order to have a glorious passage in that dangerous Estate of the Empire and avoid any useless engagements, Cyrus had to dye his hair blonde, shave clean his beard and order a Two-Horned helmet fabricated especially for this passage.  This transformation was to be temporary but it took exigencies of its own for the remaining life of Cyrus.  “Al Iskandar” was welcomed as a living God and he loved every minute of it.  What amazed the Afghan people is how quickly Al Iskandar learned to understand their language and even pronounce adequately their difficult vocal words. 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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