The Sword and Shield are Accepted.
Saturday, 15th, October.
I have begun to move my standing army towards the Gondwanese border. The nobles of the north have sent a rather worrying request; they want me to extend our protection to Khandesh, by force if necessary.
(Game effects; Occasionally you are issued missions by your populace. These can make handy excuses for war if you get the right ones, but you have no control over them and some can be inconvenient at best. Like this one for instance; I was hoping I'd get Kashmir.)
This is typical of the gutless shortsightedness displayed by the upper echelons of Delhian society. Khandesh is a meaningless strip of turf between us and Deccan. It is only of use to us as an extra 2000 soldiers when Deccan or Rajputana make the miscalculation of trying to attack it. We have the perfect target up north in the form of Kashmir, and they have hill cavalry of their own which would be most valuable to us. Why are the nobles wasting my time over some meaningless border territory, instead of focussing their attention on more valuable targets?
Their wishes will have to wait. I intend to use Khandesh for what it is best suited; an excuse to war with anyone idiotic enough to attack it. I have no interest in the territory, and may throw the request back in the faces of the men who had the nerve to suggest such an unworthy task. It may make me look weak, but I do not think anyone will be challenging my rule on grounds of lack of courage after the next few months.
Worrying news keeps reaching my ears. Vijayanagar has warned Deccan not to go to war with Orissa, or Mysore, far to the south. They must have the same thought as I. Vijayanagar is Hindu, so it is fair game if I have a border with them, but they are also powerful and our principle rivals in India, and their claiming of Deccan first would be a not-inconsiderable step back for me, as I would then have to immediately set about defeating them or risk being driven up and then off into the mountains. It may also, more immediately, put Deccan off its plans to subjugate Orissa, meaning I will miss my excuse for war, and they may instead go for Gondwana, which I have placed no guarantees on. I pray Deccans Sultan misses this crucial gap in my plans...
Bihar has allied with Orissa, meaning I must fight both of them at some point. I'll try to go after Nepal and Gondwana prior to taking on both at the same time. For the moment, my priority is Deccan, and getting my claws into Gondwana.
No plan survives contact with the enemy, but things are still progressing more or less within acceptable limits.
Monday, 17th October
Deccan has taken the bait! Their Sultan, Taj ud-Din Firuz Bahmanid, has attacked Orissa citing reconquest as their aim. They intend to retake Orissas southern territories as their official aim, but I doubt that is where they will stop if they are allowed to advance further. I have sent a message off to Bahmanid informing him of his new opponent on the field of battle.
Unfortunately, Taj has made an alliance with the Sindi Sultan 'Ali Sher Samma. I will therefore be forced to conquer Sind first (and no doubt annex it while I am at it, though I will hold it under occupation as long as I can to see if I can't convince a few territories to come over "willingly") before turning my attention back to Deccan. Orissa will have to hold the line.
We've been granted a double-edged sword in this matter. The leader of Vijayanagar, King Harihara II Sagama, has followed through with his warning, and has also mustered an army to fight. The leader of Orissa, King Narasimhadeva, will no doubt be glad of this news, but he may only be inviting a new conqueror. Harihara may well take this opportunity to take land from or even outright annex Deccan for himself, which would give him control, indirectly or otherwise, of almost the whole of northern India. It would force me to immediately declare a Jihad and drive his warriors back into the south, or face a powerful and well connected future foe. His intervention, while helpful in some respects, is overall not a welcome fact; not to mention co-operating with a Hindu monarch makes me look duplicitous in the eyes of the nobles of the court. And I am duplicitous, but not for those reasons.
Nonetheless, this war in and of itself should not prove too difficult. I have been named alliance leader which gives me an edge in any negotiations as I am free to negotiate an end to the war whenever I choose, potentially allowing me to block Vijayanagars attempt and restore the status quo if Sind falls quicker than Deccan. (Or if only enough of Deccan falls to give Harihara a border with my own lands, I can give him just enough room to hang himself.) I control 5000 warriors, most of them infantry, but have another 5000 hill cavalry and 1000 mounted archers being marshalled for before the end of the year. Harihara, for his part, has 4000 soldiers, again, mostly infantry. Narasimhadeva has only 1000 Orissan infantry to call on in defense of his kingdom. For our enemies part, Bahmanid has 3000 warriors, so he should crumble, and Sind can only muster a pathetic 2000 warriors, making me wonder if it is even worth delaying my southern thrust into Deccan, where I face stiff competition for who can claim what territories first, for the sake of defeating some isolated western Sultanate that will, at worse, occupy a few of my mountain territories prior to my returning in force to destroy the interlopers. Unfortunately the mountains are where most of my new cavalry are being trained, so I can hardly leave the border unguarded, and I do not wish to split my forces. To the west it is then.
I've taken the opportunity to avail myself of old laws regarding war taxes; an extra yearly levy allowing me greater amounts of ducats each year. War may not pay for the nobles and common folk, but it certainly pays off for a Sultan if he knows what he is doing. Making me wonder why the nobles are always so eager to engage in activities which can only strengthen my power (barring a military disaster) and weaken their own authority.
This is also my last day in the palace for this conflict... and possibly for my life. I am getting older. But I still have enough strength for this. I ride out to meet my men at the border province of Multan, our frontier with Sind. I intend to surprise my own captains, who are not expecting to be led, as we cannot afford a proper generals staff.
It is time for me to make right my failings, and cast off the memory of the Timurids, or at least make them less painful for our people to bear.
I am haunted by the news that Bengal has set its sights on Orissan Cuttack. I hope they do not act on these ambitions while I am in the west. Fighting two Sultanates is one thing. Total war in the north of India is quite another, and not what I had planned! Such a conflict would leave only Bihar, Nepal, Gujurat and Rajputana at peace. I would prefer to take things a step at a time.
This is, I suppose, my last chance to redeem myself, in my peoples eyes at least. But the path ahead of me is surely stained with even more blood. I know what I do, as a Sultan and warrior of Islam fighting other Muslims, to be wrong. But... what else can I do? I have seen the consequences of inaction, and it is only made plain by this war. These are brutal, horrific, dark days, where merely being of a different faith, or separate nation, is an excuse to have everything taken from you. If, by my heinous actions I can bring about one state, perhaps at least within this small corner of this wretched world, I can bring lasting peace.
Or is this merely an excuse for myself?