I am Raja Muhammad of Banu Sama Raj. I'm a Sunni ruler on the border between the true faith and the barbarous Indian faiths of the east. I am told that I am a temperate and charitable man, never taking more than I need and giving freely to those who are more needy than I. My father, however, good as he was, constantly lamented that I was unfit to rule in this land, as I was too deceitful for my own good and I shied away from conflict. He would warn me that as a Muslim faithful on the border of my religion, I would have to be stalwart and ready to strike at any moment against the infidels, but the infidels seem far too powerful now and I do not wish to die quite yet.
The only ally in faith I have is to my south, the Habbari Sultanate. To my north and east are Hindi infidels, the Shahi Shahdom and the Pratihara Kingdom, respectively. As much as my late father would have me prepare to push north and defend my Islamic brethren, I see no possible way that can happen, as we are simply too small.
The problems don't end there. In my father's haste to prepare me for rule, he neglected to marry me to a suitable wife. When I came to power, I attempted to rectify that, and saw that there were simply no women available who could offer an alliance. The Habbari ruler is as barren as I am, it seems. I married a courtier who seemed to know her way around handling money and left it at that.
Speaking of barrenness, because of my chaste lifestyle, I have no heir to the throne. Looking over the laws of the land, I learned that if I were to die, my spymaster would inherit, which in and of itself is a frightening proposition, even without the fact that he's not of my blood.
So in order to fix this minor possible heart attack, I opted to change the council out.
Not everybody likes me, and not everybody's competent, but it's a shade better than having my most powerful schemer in line to inherit, and not to mention absolutely nobody liked me before. The Court Imam, however, is irreplacable; the laws forbid it.
I call in my new spymaster to see what I can accomplish under the table, but I'm faced with an ancient roadblock: nobody likes me enough to help me bloody any blades. As all my vassals have no children, I am first in line to inherit as their liege, and this includes several thakurs (counts) whose land would be quite nice to have. However, nothing can be done yet.
My military isn't in much better condition. 800 men is not a lot, by any standards, and I will have to work on getting recruitment up, or be sure to save up for mercenaries.
More pressing matters await, however. My military is incredibly
weak, and I border two nations of the Hindi faith, a religion notorious for their warmongering and expansion. As weak as I am, I make one of the most delectable targets around, so I must fix that immediately.
Many options come to mind, one of which being my fathers' advice: expand with the help of mercenaries. However, I cannot fathom ever going toe-to-toe with my much more powerful neighbors, so I opt for the more diplomatic solutions: I swear fealty to the Habbari Sultanate.
As the courtier rides out with my proposal, I look to the next issue: inheritance. Once the sultan accepts, he will immediately be first in line to inherit my land upon death, and the only way I can fix that is to have a child, preferably a male. As odd as that is, I make that my next big goal: to have a son.
Soon my courtier returned with the sultan's approval, and with my land safe in Habbari hands, I set out on a hajj to Mecca, as is customary in my religion. As I set out by boat, I catch wind of the vessel I chose to ferry me to Mecca secretly dealing in slaves, and plotting to sell the their "cargo" at the next stop. Overwhelmed with fear and rage, I gather my bodyguards and stage a mutiny, overthrowing the slavers without even harming myself, and sail the vessel myself towards its destination. Once in Mecca, I pay to hear the pious tales of an old man (+1 stewardship)
, and inform the local population of a well filled with filthy and unsafe water. I perform the necessary ritual and the locals praise me for my humble nature (+1 health as well)
. On my way back home, I lend monetary aid to a local village that's fallen on hard times, and as I pass through the gates to my domain, I feel as if I have become a better, more enlightened person.
As I return, I call my spymaster back and ask him what I should plan on doing, when I'm able. He tells me that of my vassals, three thakurs are displeased with me. And of those three, two are on my council, as marshal and chancellor. So in light of that information, the most logical route would be to revoke the thikana (county) of the third thakur, Thakur Shahabuddin of Karur. I mark it as top priority, but leave it aside, as I cannot raise enough support to go through with the plot.
The year drags on, and in May I notice that my liege has raised his levies for war. Delving deeper into the matters, I learn that the war is against our most powerful Hindi neighbor, the Pratiharans.
My marshal tells me what he can about the conflict, and I decide that the cause is hopeless. My liege has waged holy war on the Pratiharans, and currently they are outnumbered 5300 to 2100. My liege is well and truly fucked, it seems.
In these dire times, he opts to make me his steward, and sends me to Masara, a province on his eastern border, to study economic technology. Immediately after I set out, my wife comes to me and tells me she's pregnant. Hopefully it will be a boy, and I can rest better knowing the succession is safe.
In December, word reaches me that the target of my stalled plot has died of a pneumonic attack, and the Thikana of Karur has become mine. This puts me neatly at my demesne limit, and I let my other vassals be. If they die, they die, and I can reap the spoils or hand them back out as I see fit.
The year rolls over, and I finally send my council to work. The chancellor goes to Uch to try to improve relations with the people there, and the rest of the council is moved to Karor, a much more profitable and better-manned province where I've moved the capital to. The Marshal is sent out to raise troops, the steward to enforce taxes, the spymaster to comb the city for plots against me, and the imam to perform charity and make the locals more tolerant of their liege.
My wife gives birth, sadly to a daughter. Even sadder, however, is her death at the hands of a subsequent illness in July.
I still need an heir, so I remarry again to a competent steward, hoping for better luck.
Soon after my marriage, I am given an offer to study law under the greatest fuqaha in the realm, which I take up heartily. Thankfully the studies will readily come in handy, as my spymaster gives me word that my marshal has his own court hard at work fabricating a claim on my new capital.
This, of course, cannot stand, and my new studies have given me the knowledge necessary to deal with the danger, as such a trespass is easily punishable by imprisonment. I order the marshal to increase the security in the capital, and I give the order directly to the guardsmen that he must be imprisoned for crimes against his liege.
However, when they bring the marshal forward to me, I instantly recognize him as a fraud. Thakur Mahmud has left a co-conspirator to take the fall for him, while he rushes home to prepare for war.
I appoint a new marshal and immediately order the levies to be raised, and to rally to Multan, north of Uch, to strike. I have a clear advantage, 1232 men to his 580, so I am not overly worried, but Mahmud rallies his men to Karur to siege. A direct assault would necessitate a river crossing, which would weaken my men. Instead I opt to attack him from the south, marching through Uch before turning north to Karur.
Coincidentally, my new marriage has lessened my ability to govern properly, as my new wife is simply not as good at handling land as my previous one. I find a man who has proven himself to be a capable steward in and of himself and give him Karur, by far the least profitable of my personal holdings, and that just happens to be the thikana under siege.
As my men turn towards Karur, however, scouts inform me that Mahmud's men march west towards Multan. Sadly, they were able to outrun us, and so we accept the situation and drive towards Multan over the river.
As expected, we are able to rout the single flank of men, and as they retreat into Karur we follow them, wiping them out entirely. We then turn towards Uch to siege it and finish the war.
A horror awaits us, however, as the Pratiharan army waits just to the south of us, finishing up a siege of their own.
I order the men to hold, and hope that the Pratiharans move to the south or west. However, luck is not kind to me, as the army immediately begins to march north as soon as the thikana falls in January. Unable to retreat safely, I order my men to disband, and hope the Pratiharans' siege will help me strong-arm Mahmud into surrendering.
However, the Pratiharan army suddenly turns east, towards their own land. Apparently the war ended soon after my order to disband, with my liege quite solidly on the losing end of the bargain. I curse my shortsightedness and order a reraise, marching my men immediately towards Uch without even rallying to regroup. They make it safely and settle in for their siege.
The year drags on, and in October news reaches me of rebel flags being raised off the northern border of my land. Courtiers are sent to scout and report back that the Pratiharans face a civil war. Factions in their north, south, and east are fighting for independence, and their northernmost faction borders us. I secretly wish them luck, as if they win then I will have a nice, hopefully weak target to attack and expand into.
In January of 870, news also reaches me of a more religious upheaval in the west.
The shia schismatics have somehow gained enough strength to dare to proclaim a caliphate for themselves, rivaling the rightful Sunni caliphate. I am aghast by this news, but I can do nothing as I have more pressing matters to attend to with my own religious enemies to the east. The caliph will just have to sort this all out on his own.
In time, Uch falls, and Thakur Mahmud accepts his defeat, as well as his imprisonment.
While mulling over my opitions, I decide I want to revoke his title and land, and give it to someone who'd be more happy to serve me. Mahmud is clearly unhappy with me, and while he made a good marshal I would rather the land be under someone more appreciative of my work.
Sadly, this is not to be, as the laws of the Habbari Sultanate forbid revocation of titles. My options become limited to tyrannical actions: execution or banishment, or options that keep him in power: ransoming or unconditional freedom. Of the more acceptable options, ransoming the thakur nets me a decent amount of money, but freeing him will make me be seen more positively in the eyes of the people.
In the end, I decide to ransom him, as the money can be spent improving the capital. He remains Thakur of Uch, but he will not get the title of Marshal back.
With the ransom money, I commission an upgrade to the castle fortifications and militia training ground, giving us better protection against sieges and a greater ability to raise a levy.
In the summer, I see skirmishes between the Pratiharans and their revolt off to the east. Sadly the revolutionaries seem to be on the losing end of the war, as the Pratiharans completely destroyed the armies that patrolled my border.
September turns to October, and my new wife is pregnant. Again, I hope for a boy, as that would cement the inheritance, but I'll just have to wait to see what exactly is growing in my wife.
The year ends, and I take another look at my council. My unlanded steward could be better, and Thakur Mahmud has actually warmed up to me a little, so I give him back a seat on the council, this time as the Steward. The unlanded Marshal stays, however, as his skills far outweigh the skills of the best landed man.
And so I wait, hoping for a son to continue my dynasty and an opening to expand so I don't have to live under the boot of the Habbari forever.
Perhaps hoping on the Hindi revolt isn't the right course of action. I am a vassal of the sultan, perhaps I should be looking within his lands...