Black Obelisk of Sarai
See also the Sun-Haters.
People of Khirgizia, long have we writhed in the throes of doubt and dark council. Supported by the leaders of the decadent Papacy in all their debauched mockery of faith, we have, all in ignorance, supported the obscene and bloated edifice of the Church Spiritual. Woe unto us, who spread the tenets of that bastion of pestilence, who fed that gaping maw of corruption, who planted the seeds of plague and damnation in the secret soil of our souls, woe unto us. Yet now, all is revealed! For the Pope, in a moment of weakness such as all such vermin must have, has revealed himself for the deceitful traitor he is ... has attempted our ruin, and in so doing has brought to the light his own foul schemes for our undoing, indeed, for the annihilation of civilization as we know it!
Shall we then grovel in abject terror before the titanic wyrm of the Church? I say No!...For in the night there came to me a rare and potent vision. Revealed to me was the dark venom that has poisoned our dreams. I speak now of the collaboration of the Church Spiritual and their perported bitter enemies ... the dogs of Islam! That a truth so plain has never even been hinted at disgusts and amazes me! All our trials and pain can be laid at the feet of this vile and monstrous union. And I say it is time to rise against them, to turn the blasted tide and wash this flood of putresence back to the dark gulfs whence it came (fnord). For a power not akin to any other has visited upon me revelations the nature of which is more awesome than any paltry display by our pathetic filthy enemies ... we shall strike them down!
I have seen hordes of pale men pouring forth from eldritch places to smite the sickly ranks of our would-be Nemesis ... shrieking they were borne to their gruesome fates, dropped from the backs of winged Wyverns whose riders' eyes gleamed a mocking crimson! And the cathedrals and mosques shall tremble to their very foundations, and crumble into dereliction and ghastly decay! Yes! And I shall be the Pope of the new order and shall lead the righteous into the coming Age! And I and all who follow the Path of Truth shall rise on high in riotous splendour and pour derision down upon the pretenders as they writhe and shriek in their death agonies! I shall raise a gigantic monolith of basalt to the true gods and none shall look upon it who will not quiver in fear if they be unbelievers! Beware the dark blade of vengeance, for it will cut to the heart of deceit and smite the unworthy! All hail the true God! Hastur F'tahgn!
Following this tirade, Willem ordered thousands of his servants and leigemen to raise this nitrous obelisk on a high high south of the city of Sarai in Saksiny. Forty feet high it loomed over the waving grasses of the flatlands, and deep was its thirst for blood; several hundred workers were slain during the work, many crushed beneath the heavy slabs of stone brought down the Volga from the mountains of the north. Still gripped by the visions that crawled down from the outer darkness into his fevered mind, Willem also proclaimed that polygamy would be the marital rule of his new Order; and immediately seized many of the most beautiful women in Sarai to be his wives. When their families and husbands protested, he cracked down on the city with a harsh fist of steel - hundreds were murdered or executed.
Lord Natas, who was sickened by the insanity of the young Khagan, attempted to overthrow Willem, but was betrayed by his advisors and he ended his life gorily on the noisome obsidian slab that crouched at the foot of the Obelisk. Now Willem had crushed his enemies in Sarai and he led his army forth to deal with the provincial lords. Faced with the horror of the slaughter in Sarai, the lords of Alan, Kama Bulgar, Astrakhan, Kuban, Yeysk and Volga Bulgar all rose up in arms to save the state from the darkness.
The Alani and the Kubanu converged upon Khazar, where the city-folk of Astrakhan had risen up and now held the gates of the city against Willem's supporters. Similarly, the Volgan and Kaman Bulgars marched to join each other before advancing against Willem. To defeat these enemies, Willem crossed the river into Khazar, determined to defeat the southern rebels first. The khagans army of 17,000 men clashed with the 11,000 rebels at Khulkuta and ( eventually ) defeated them. The Army of Darkness took a beating though, now numbering some 10,400 effectives. Willem turned back and recrossed the river, seeking to beat the Bulgars to Sarai - he failed, as the Bulgars had force-marched from Nogai and Ghuzz. Now they stood between him and the city - nevertheless his dark mentors counseled victory and he attacked!
Kapustin Yar was an odd battle, featuring almost equal armies of 11,000 and 10,000 men, with markedly comprable commanders. One served darkness and one light. For full day the two armies slammed into one another; cavalry charge and counter-attack, the punctuating rattle of muskets, the grim swirl of melee at close quarters. Slowly, Willem's army eroded, worn away by the tide of battle. He attempted to break contact during the night, but failed, and the battle dragged into a second day. Despite a burst of frenzied valor at the beginning of the second day, Willem's army at last perished, hacked down to the man, and Willem amongst them, his face frozen in a rictus of insane laughter as he was hewed down by his cousin, Petrov of Kama.
That same Petrov was acclaimed the new Khagan by a shaken council of elders, and a shuddering nation came together to support him. The biannual delivery of strange gifts from the Empress of Sweden was noted to have failed to appear. Apparently Willem's sychophants had destroyed the shipment. A pity. Now, what to do about that damned obelisk?
T184, Swedish Empire of Russia
Street fighting continued in Cerkes, where the local Khirgizian government was held in custody during the Black Obelisk Incident. When Willem was killed and right-thought restored to Khirgiz, the mayor and his staff were let out of the hole.
T185, Khaganate of Khirgizia
Long did Petrov agonize over the blasted landscape of despair that once was the fair and bountiful land of Khirgizia. So much life wasted, so many sent into the Abyss. The people torn assunder by a darkly enraptured visionary made insane by deception and fraud. In deepest frustration did the new Khagan survey the chaos of which he now was ruler ... how would he ever restore order? Woefully unprepared was he to take the reins of this frothing fear-maddened steed of a nation. Had he but known how profoundly the demented Willem had affected his kingdom ... what to do?
In a near frenzy the bewildered Khagan tore at his hair. As if it wasn't bad enough that there was ruin and destruction everywhere, rising from the earth to shock the eye and torture the soul, as if the dead did not continually loom forth from every shadow in grim reminder of the Dark Blade of Death Undeserved... there was that accursed, miserable, obscenity of an obelisk. Petrov moaned at the mere thought of the hideous monstrosity. Day and night it tortured his thoughts, burned in his fevered brain like some monstrous tower of ebon flame. Loathe was he to destroy it lest the souls of those who had perished in its benited construction, and those whose blood had been spilled on its obsidian altar in obeisance to Abyssal Gods have no resting place and be loosed upon the land, a nightmarish scenario at best.
Oh, he despised the loathsome thing, jutting so mockingly from the earth, seeming to sneer at him derisively. Then it came to him! After long nights spent obsessing about the horrendous monument, Petrov came to the obvious conclusion. He could recreate the nasty thing and make it into... a sort of shrine to those who fell to the the thing's ghastly hunger. It could become a creation of beauty, a place of reverie and peace.
A memorial! That was the very thing to do! And without further delay Petrov began the process of rendering ugliness into beauty. Many were the gardeners commissioned to plan the ranks and beds of luxurious and rare flaura to be arranged around the Black Thing. Reverent were the many employed to collect the remains of the tortured and sacrificed, which were then placed with the greatest of piety and adoration in vaults of alabaster fair and marble white as lilies.
Costly were the engineers who planned the radiant reflecting pool that doubled the obelisk and softened its grim countenance, drowning in crystalline waters the darkly stained and morbid altar stone. The meandering paths were gentle to the feet of the laughing children and indulgent mothers, who came in great numbers for the pastoral peace afforded by the rolling parkways and for the rare opportunity to gaze in wonder at the exotic creatures gathered at no mean expense for the menagerie, and kept in great comfort and luxury. Great care did Petrov take in his conversion of the foul to the fair, not wishing a single life to be lost in the completion of his masterwork. And when it was done, often did Petrov visit this place of wonder and serenity, to gaze with affection upon a hideous deviation made into a playground for the innocent.
Sadly these idyllic moments did not last long...
The new Swedish ambassador, Sir Yuri Morden, arrived in late 1697 to meet with Petrov and to present him with several bags of cash money ( the subsidy ) and to tell him that, in recognition for his work in battling Willem the Evil, the Empress had decreed that he would hold the rank, in Swedish society, of Altjarl of Kapustin Yar. Petrov was obscurely pleased by this. The ambassador also delivered papers handling the annulment of the marriage of Sonja Tuchachevsky - so that the princess would be free to wed again if she so chose. This please both the princess and Petrov considerably, for they had got along well in the palace and tentative plans were announced for them to be wed.
These glad plans were almost immediately thwarted by the arrival of a Papal delegation bearing a writ of excommunication for the "vile king of Khirgiz, known as Petrov Kamanov" and all his family. Petrov was stunned at the heavy-handedness of the Church and Sonja was devastated to learn that her putative husband was a consorter with demons and the diabolical. Rumors began to circulate of a crusade by neighboring Christian nations to destroy the Obelisk. The Swedish ambassador, Morden, was also surprised as his own government had assured him that Petrov was "one of the good guys". Having met the king himself, he asured Sonja that the Empire would support her and her fiancee. This resulted in a shouting match between Morden and the Papal legate. Both left dissatisfied.
Petrov's excommunication now drove a deep wedge between the khagan and his feudal nobles - they refused to follow his lead, leaving the government paralyzed. Then Petrov was struck down in the streets of Sarai by an agitated monk and things got out of hand. Rioting broke out between those who felt that Petrov had been falsely accused and then murdered and those who felt that the Church would have to "purify!" the state. In the course of restoring order, Prince Ludus and General Torkek were both killed.
Sonja, seeing that the capital at least was in danger of civil collapse, called on Swedish intervention, leading to the arrival of General Dorner and Brigadier Lubomirski and three corps of Swedish regulars within two months. They crushed the mob and restored order in Sarai. All of the Papal agents were thrown out of the city and packed off to Cerkes before they made more trouble. Princess Sonja was installed as the Grand Duchess of the country, which was edging towards becoming a Swedish protectorate.
T185, The Church Spiritual
The Benedictine master, along with a passel of Templar troops, sailed for Trebizond, where he met with a contingent of Danish marines. The combined force then began looking for trouble - hearing of the black Obelisk in Saksiny they marched off into the north to do battle. They reached the Garden at the end of 1698 to find that a Swedish infantry corps was camped around their intended target. The Danes counseled a night attack...
T186, Khaganate of Khirgizia
In early summer of 1699, the Swedish army corps in Sarai ( the IIIrd Guards, XIIth Infantry and IInd Cavalry ) received news of the Lubeck Explosion and immediately packed up camp. The engineers works around the Monolith were abandoned and a large number of river barges were seized to transport the troops back up the river to Syzran. General Anderks, who was supposed to arrive with more artillery, was ignored for the moment. By the end of 1699 however, the Expeditionary Force had reached Nova Byzantium and had met up with Anderks.
Sonja was only obscurely pleased to learn that the Pope had lifted the Excommunication levied against her with the onset of the latest Dano-Swedish war. The monolith remained, though now the Swedes had withdrawn their armies to the north.
Last updated: 12 September 2003
© 2003 Robert Pierce