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Venetians
02-28-2008, 04:10 PM
Among the most enigmatic characters encountered by Marron and his friends, and those who most affect the course of events, are the Sand Dancers. Elisande tells Julianne what she knows about them:


"They are men sworn to a brotherhood, ... sworn to serve the Ghost Walker, if he should come. They give a finger to their God, in witness; and they live apart from the tribes, in little groups together. For centuries now, they have lived with each other and their vows, and nothing more. Now the Ghost Walker has come again, he stands among them, and they are trying to slay him..."
Like the Ransomers, their brotherhood has the form of a religious order; yet the service for which they are trained is military. They have sworn to serve the Ghost Walker, and intend to do so as warriors, helping him to drive the invader from the land.

A comparable force existed among the Islamic peoples of the historical Outremer; during the later decades of the eleventh century, a group of followers of the Ismaili sect of Islam developed into a major political force by perfecting the art named after them: assassination.


The founder of the Assassins, as they were later known, was a Persian called Hasan as-Sabah, a convert to the Ismaili sect of Shi'ite Islam, which accorded particular devotion to Mohammed's son-in-law and successor, the imam Ali. Hasan was regarded by his followers as a scholar and a theologian, but, as Steven Runciman remarks in his History of the Crusades:


Wherein exactly his teaching improved on the mystical and allegorical theology of the Ismaili is obscure. His outstanding achievement was more practical. It was to build up an Order, united in strict obedience to himself as Grand Master, which he used for political purposes.
In 1090 he took possession of a stronghold in Khorassan which formed a suitable headquarters for that Order. Amin Maalouf describes it in his novel Samarkand (my translation from the French original):

Alamut. A fortress on a rock, six thousand feet up, in a landscape of bare peaks, forgotten lakes, steep cliffs and constricted passes. Even the most numerous army could only reach it one man at a time. The most powerful catapults could not touch its walls.

Between the mountains the Shah-Roud, nicknamed the "mad river", holds sway. In the spring, when the snows melt on the Elbourz, its flow swells up and races along, ripping up trees and boulders as it passes. Misfortune to anyone who comes too near, misfortune to any troops who dare to camp on its banks!

From the river and the lakes a thick, fleecy mist rises each evening, climbing up the cliff but stopping midway. For anyone who is there to see it, the castle of Alamut then becomes an island in an ocean of cloud. Seen from below, it looks like the haunt of the djinni.

In the local dialect, Alamut means "the eagle's lesson". Legend tells how a prince, wanting to build a fortress to dominate the mountains, released a trained eagle. The bird of prey spiralled through the sky, and finally came to rest on this rock. Its master realised that he would not find a better site.

Samarkand, a fictionalised "biography" of the original manuscript of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, also tells how the three influential contemporaries, Hasan as-Sabah, the poet Omar Khayyam and the vizier Nizam al-Mulk were originally allies. But Nizam and Hasan differed in their religious and political views, and in 1092 Nizam al-Mulk became the first victim of the Assassins.

The origin of the organisation's name is unclear. Maalouf follows a number of Ismaili sources in affirming that "assassin" is derived from the Arabic assass (foundation), via assassiyun (fundamentalists); they were simply believers in a purer and more basic form of Islam. A more highly-coloured derivation, favoured by Western writers, points to the Arabic hashashshin (eaters of hashish) to explain both the name of the Assassins and their fanatical devotion to their leader, the Old Man of the Mountain: their sanguinary tactics were fueled by narcotics.

That inspired teller of travellers' tales, Marco Polo, fuses together these two explanations to form one: he ventured into a region which he calls Mulehet, south of the Caspian sea, in which the Assassin stronghold of Alamut stands. On his return home, he claimed:


Mulehet, the name given to heretical Saracens, is also the name of the famous place where the Old Man of the Mountain used to live. This is the story of the Old Man just as it was told to Marco Polo by many people.

According to legend, the Old Man was called Alaodin. He had made, in a valley between two mountains, the biggest and most beautiful garden imaginable. Every kind of wonderful fruit grew there. There were glorious houses and palaces decorated with gold and paintings of the most magnificent things in the world. Fresh water, wine, milk and honey flowed in streams. The loveliest girls versed in the arts of caressing and flattering men played every musical instrument, danced and sang better than any other women. The Old Man had persuaded his men that this was Paradise. The Prophet Mohammed had taught that those who went to Paradise would find as many beautiful women as they wanted, rivers of wine, milk, honey and fresh water. So the Old Man of the Mountain had his garden built like Mohammed's Paradise and the Saracens really believed it was Paradise.

Marco Polo goes on to explain how this belief was maintained. Young men who were being trained for a mission of assassination were given a sleeping draught and then taken into the garden while unconscious. When they awoke, their ravishing surroundings naturally persuaded them that they were in Paradise itself. They remained in this happy state until a victim was designated, when they would once more be drugged, and were removed, still asleep, from the garden. The certainty, born of experience, that Paradise existed and would be their reward, not only strengthened their determination to succeed in their task, it also removed all fear of failure - knowing what awaited them in the next world, they did not fear death. In other words, the Old Man won the devotion of his agents both by administering drugs and by exploiting their simple piety.

Despite his taste for colourful detail, Marco Polo was also a realist. He ends his description of the Assassins with the comment that:


Many kings and barons paid tribute to the Old Man and cultivated his friendship for fear of being murdered. The Old Man was aided in this by the fact that the kings were always quarrelling amongst themselves and were not united under one power.
Like the Sand Dancers, the Assassins were a rogue force in the fragmented policies of Outremer; unlike the Sand Dancers, who saw the Ghost Walker as a weapon to drive the invaders from the land, the Assassins were as hostile to the Sunni Moslems as they were to the Christians. They formed a faction to be reckoned with, with their own policies, alliances and castles, initially in Persia but soon spreading into Egypt, Iraq and Syria.




In this, their position among the Moslems mirrored that of the military orders, and in particular the Templars, among the Christians. Both parties had their own organisational priorities which sometimes cut across their nominal allegiances. Under Rashid ed-Din Sinan of Basra, that leader of the Syrian Assassins who was known to the Christians as the Old Man of the Mountains, the Assassins were even able to establish a little state of their own. In 1169 Sinan sent messengers to Amalric I, king of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, suggesting an alliance against their common enemy Nur ed-Din, and even hinting that the Assassins would consider converting to Christianity. In return, they asked to be released from the tribute imposed on a number of Assassin villages by the Templars. Amalric thought these overtures worth encouraging, but before the envoys could return to their master, they were murdered by a Templar knight, Walter of Mesnil (apparently acting with official approval). Furious, Amalric threw Walter into prison, and the attempt to sabotage the alliance (and so safeguard Templar revenues) was thwarted. Amalric's death from dysentery (or from the medical treatment he received for his ailment) proved a further setback to negotiations, and in 1192 Conrad of Montferrat, was assassinated on the eve of his coronation as King of Jerusalem. The thirteenth century Itinerarium regis Ricardi gives this account:

When they were about to rejoin the army at Ascalon, Conrad, marquis of Montferrat, was detained at Tyre by his unexpected death.

He was peacefully making his way home, very happy and joking, from a dinner engagement with the bishop of Beauvais. He had just reached the city toll-booth when two youths, Assassins, made a sudden attack on him. They were unencumbered by cloaks and thrust at the marquis with the daggers they held in their hands. They penetrated his chest with these, lethally wounding him, and were ready to make a swift getaway.

The marquis immediately fell from his horse and was rolling on the ground, fatally wounded. One of the murderers was immediately cut down while the other ran straight into the nearest church. In spite of this he was snatched from it and dragged as a condemned man through the middle of the town until his last treacherous breath.

Before he died, the killer revealed that he and his accomplice had been sent by the Old Man of the Mountain, who had personally decreed Conrad's death: the chronicler proceeds to explain how the Old Man was accustomed to train his agents and how, when he had chosen the victim they were to kill, "for performing this task he presents each with his own dagger, which is very sharp and has a horrifyingly long blade."

Other victims of the Assassins included the vizier al-Afdal, the Caliph al-Adil, Raymond II of Tripoli and Albert, the Patriarch of Jerusalem; representing Christians and Moslems, laymen and clerics alike.

By the thirteenth century, the policies of the Persian Assassins had become more moderate, but they were unable to withstand the advance of the Mongols. In the words of Marco Polo:


In about 1262, Hulagu, the Lord of the Levantine Tartars, having heard of the Old Man's horrible ways, decided to destroy him. Hulagu chose a few of his barons and sent them with a large army to attack the Old Man's fortified castle. It seemed impossible to capture and would certainly never have been taken if the people inside had been able to get food. The siege lasted three years, by the end of which time there was nothing left to eat. The Old Man of the Mountain, Alaodin, was captured and put to death with all his men, and the castle and the garden of paradise were demolished. So that ended the evil rule of the Old Man of the Mountains and his assassins.

In sober fact, Alamut did not fall to the moral outrage of public opinion, but to the expansion of a new power in the world: the Mongols, under the leadership of Hulagu Khan (grandson of Genghis, and brother of the Great Khan, Kubilai). After destroying the stronghold of the Assassins, and with it the main force of the organisation, he proceeded to capture and destroy the headquarters of orthodox Islam in Baghdad.



A detailed and interesting account of the Assassins, based on Arkon Daraul's A History of Secret Societies appears on the web in two sections, The Old Man of the Mountains and The Later Days of the Assassins. Desmond Seward's The Monks of War includes the tantalising information that "Their [the Assassins'] weapon was the poisoned knife, flat cakes their trade mark, and they terrorised Moslems and Christians alike."

GO HERE FOR MORE INFO ON THE ASSASSINS CASTLE

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://features....z%3D1I7GGIH%26sa%3DN (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://features.us.reuters.com/uploads/2007/07/13/fs_2007-07-13T085800Z_01_LBN29-_RTRIDSP_4_SYRIA-CASTLE-ASSASSINS.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.shiachat.com/forum/index.php%3Fact%3DPrint%26client%3Dprinter%26f%3D1 3%26t%3D234929512&h=334&w=490&sz=67&hl=en&start=286&sig2=Sf9V2r1Mfx3EBSAcqO2foQ&um=1&tbnid=aRZGhBg7pe-TRM:&tbnh=89&tbnw=130&ei=cT7HR67JJ6nUpgSnkb0G&prev=/images%3Fq%3DAssassins%2B%26start%3D280%26ndsp%3D2 0%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7GGIH%26sa%3DN)


http://features.us.reuters.com/uploads/2007/07/13/fs_2007-07-13T090146Z_01_LBN30-_RTRIDSP_4_SYRIA-CASTLE-ASSASSINS.jpg


We organised a day trip to two castles today. The first was Qala'at Ibn Wardan, in the Jebel Assyrian mountain range, more commonly known as the Assassin's castle.



We shared a taxi with Katie and a German guy - I have forgotten his name - it worked out pretty cheaply for us. The assassins castle is situated in the city of Masyaf. It is strange to see the castle looming up amidst the rural areas of the city that lie on the lower slopes of the jebel Assyria mountain range. We parked outside of it, just opposite a small barber's shop, and walked up the hill to the castle. We paid the usual entry fee and spent an hour or two exploring inside. It was quite and moderate castle by our standards. We are now old hands at castle exploration! But it has been renovated and has many nooks and crannies to crawl around in [I have fallen in love with exploring castles. They are such fun, and full of so many amazing highs, lows, and nooks and crannies to look around].



he main interest in the site is that it was used for some time by the Hashshashin cult. These were splinter faction of Shiite Muslims; annexed from Egypt they ventured into the Middle East and settled in Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq. They were rumored to have existed from the 8th Century AD. They were recorded as the Nizāriyya faction leaving Egypt in 1090 AD after a quarrel between ruling dynasty of the time. They occupied fortified settlements such as this castle. Their leader at the time was Hasan i Sabbah. He was an educated and charasmatic man and a ruthless enforcer of the Hashshasin creed. The Hashshashins were trained assassins with a reputation verging on the mystical; much the same as the ninpo or ninja of Japanese history. In fact assassin is derived from Hashshashin the etemology of the word has been traced back to hashish. There is much speculation of the links between the use of hashish and the Hashshasin cult. Many people believed that the assassins would first get whacked off their faces on hash, before heading out to complete their infiltration and assassination. This does seem to be absolute nonsense. Such missions would require one's faculties to be completely in the present. I don't think much in the way of stealth would be achieved tripping of one's face, red-eyed, and giggling with a craving for munchies. It would seem that the drug fuelled states - if this were true at all - were employed as conditioning techniques to promote loyalty and to brainwash the initiates. The cult saw their role as a rebellious one against the ruling Sunni factions whom they considered usurpers and unfair rulers. They finally eradicated during the Mongol invasion of the Middle East at the end of the 13th Century AD. It is a pretty amazing story though.



We finished exploring and headed back down to the taxi late that morning and then headed off for the highlight of today's trip - Krak des Chavaliers.


This location has always been a prime spot for some kind of fortified edifice - overseeing the Homs gap. It sits at the bottom of the mountain range known as the Jebel Assyria. A north-south Sierra which affectively splits the coast from access to inland. Hence the prime strategic location: Nothing, but nothing, gets past this place in a 100 km circumference. So whoever controls this pass, controls the trade route.



The crusaders first got hold of this place 1n 1099. The original fortress was built for the Emir of Aleppo. Raymond IV of Toulouse took it, but then discarded it in his race to conquer Jerusalem. It was reclaimed at various subsequent dates. The foundations and original keep were later expanded greatly and it was used as the headquarters for Knights Hospitaller during the crusades. The castle could hold nearly 3,000 soldiers and was thought to have been able to withstand a siege for up to 5 years. That is a lot of card playing time! It stood unconquered throughout the crusades. It was finally taken in 1271 by Barbars after he tricked the Crusaders into surrendering.



The approach to the castle is via a winding road that leads across the sides of the steep valley as you come down through the Homs pass. You can see the castle from miles away, perched atop of the valley pass, like a shephard surveying his flock. The flock in this case being the many towns and villages scattered around the valley. You don't really comprehend how enormous this place is until you get within a couple of miles. Then you begin to realise its scale. T E Lawrence referred to it as the most amazing medival castle in the world. You can see what he was banging on about immediately. The grandeur of the place oozes out of every turret. It is like someone has planted Camelot right in the middle of Syria.



In order to get into the main castle you must first wind your way through the 20 metre thick outer walls and passageways. Up through the stables and the barracks. These later additions to the fortications did not occur until the 12th century. once you have entered the castle proper. You can see the great keep rising above you. Surrounded on three sides by a glacis and a moat on the fourth side, this really is a awesome work of military architecture. Marcus, Katie, and I, spent the rest of the day climbing towers, exploring dungeons, and scaling walls. We found a fantastic secret passage, cunningly labelled with a massive sign saying 'Secret Passage'. At the bottom of it were a bunch of chairs and sofas. Which was interesting to say the least. We went up into the great keep and explored the Gothic cathederal, and the church, all leading off from the vast inner courtyard. We had a great, if not expansive, meal inside the south tower. Before climbing high onto the battlements to get an absolutely amazing view over the Jebel Assyria. Not to mention the Mediterranean, Lebanon, and the Golon Heights. It even started to rain, which was just brilliant, as we could watch it falling through the sun streaming down of the valley in the western sky.



We headed back down to our taxi as the rain really began to pour. On our way back down the hill a rainbow emerged. A perfect half circle, shimmering amidst the rain and sunshine. It has been a long time since I have seen such a perfect rainbow and we all jumped out and stood in the pouring rain trying to take a decent picture of it.



We got back in the evening and made use of the excellent wine facilities up the road. Per was not headed off again, so we all chilled out watching no-holds-barred cage-fighting on NBC Action and got toasted.

I Hope you all have a great day and belive in this we are still real...

webswinger93
02-28-2008, 04:34 PM
Good for you http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

iPlunder
02-28-2008, 04:36 PM
Does ANYONE on this board have the patience to read that?

PS. I came out of retirement.

webswinger93
02-28-2008, 04:37 PM
No...
I read the first two lines and had no idea what I was reading.

And I read the last part about Cage fighting...

WTF? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif

iPlunder
02-28-2008, 04:45 PM
I read the last line and just thought... wow.

webswinger93
02-28-2008, 04:50 PM
When you say wow, do you mean it like wow http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_eek.gif or like World of Warcraft? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/354.gif

I can't stand World of Warcraft. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif

iPlunder
02-28-2008, 04:55 PM
wow like "dude thats pathetic" wow.

cooldude6681
02-28-2008, 04:58 PM
Does anyone have a TL;DR summary?

webswinger93
02-28-2008, 05:11 PM
Originally posted by cooldude6681:
TL;DR

And that means?

CouchZombie
02-28-2008, 05:11 PM
i was looking for the cliff notes

cooldude6681
02-28-2008, 05:16 PM
Originally posted by webswinger93:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by cooldude6681:
TL;DR

And that means? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Too Long; Didn't Read

webswinger93
02-28-2008, 05:18 PM
Originally posted by cooldude6681:
Too Long; Didn't Read

Ohh, That's clever. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/winky.gif

blarson11
02-28-2008, 09:23 PM
ok heres what i got from the article. some dude named Hasan formed a political group of trained killers, whos fortress was located in an unreachable area....then i stopped skimming cuz i realized i dont care....

ScytheOfGrim
02-28-2008, 09:50 PM
Heh, what I gathered from my SAT style skim:

The guy is describing the history of the Assassins, then describes a trip that he (or the author, assuming this was copy/pasted) took to the remains of an Assassin fort.

He then ends with the trip home, or at least part of the trip home, and talks about wine and a cage match.

He also claims that he is an Assassin.

My notes:

Ha. Ha.

moqqy
02-29-2008, 04:46 AM
That's long, and most of it is bull****. I don't recommend reading it.

loveboof
02-29-2008, 05:11 AM
LoL venetians... did anyone ask??

I am a bit curious what his other post is though -
"hi, i'm stuck on memory block 2" *fingers crossed*

DreamerM
02-29-2008, 12:45 PM
I don't know what to make of this.

It starts out with some blither about Sand Dancers and Marion and Elisande and Julianne. Then Ghost Walkers, then some well-known history.

Who posted this stuff, did they write it or find it, and what DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The madness. It will not stop. Will no one stop the madness?

the_assassin_07
02-29-2008, 12:56 PM
TL;DR.

FYTJ
02-29-2008, 02:41 PM
I don't understand what you all seem to not understand. I mean, the title says it all. There is not more to understand. It's just a text about the real assassins and pictures of their fortress in Maysaf. What do you not understand?

blarson11
02-29-2008, 10:05 PM
rofl, its not that we dont understand, its that we cant be bothered to read it...

ScytheOfGrim
02-29-2008, 10:38 PM
The madness. It will not stop. Will no one stop the madness?

Madness?
You know the rest... >_>


rofl, its not that we dont understand, its that we cant be bothered to read it...

Nope, we do understand what he wrote, but the fact that we can't be bothered to read it leads to the true reason of what we don't understand.
We don't understand what the heck was his point.

ZmeySPB
02-29-2008, 11:45 PM
I clicked the link he provided, it was interesting.

webswinger93
03-01-2008, 02:26 AM
Originally posted by ScytheOfGrim:
We don't understand what the heck was his point.

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/agreepost.gif

Easy72
03-01-2008, 08:59 AM
I like the title...."The real Assassin's in reality" lmao

Ghost Dog 3
03-01-2008, 10:26 AM
Good read, thanks.

moqqy
03-02-2008, 07:28 AM
Originally posted by FYTJ:
I don't understand what you all seem to not understand. I mean, the title says it all. There is not more to understand. It's just a text about the real assassins and pictures of their fortress in Maysaf. What do you not understand?

But it's not about the real assassins :S

DeadCorpseAC
03-02-2008, 01:19 PM
I read the two first lines and I was like "WTF IS SAND DANCERS?"
I'll try to read everything later.

caswallawn_2k7
03-02-2008, 01:23 PM
Originally posted by DeadCorpseAC:
I read the two first lines and I was like "WTF IS SAND DANCERS?"
I'll try to read everything later.

sand dancers are from a town in the north east of england or atleast thats what they get called lol.

DeadCorpseAC
03-02-2008, 01:26 PM
Originally posted by caswallawn_2k7:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by DeadCorpseAC:
I read the two first lines and I was like "WTF IS SAND DANCERS?"
I'll try to read everything later.

sand dancers are from a town in the north east of england or atleast thats what they get called lol. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Ok, but they are assassins or not?

caswallawn_2k7
03-02-2008, 01:28 PM
Originally posted by DeadCorpseAC:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by caswallawn_2k7:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by DeadCorpseAC:
I read the two first lines and I was like "WTF IS SAND DANCERS?"
I'll try to read everything later.

sand dancers are from a town in the north east of england or atleast thats what they get called lol. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Ok, but they are assassins or not? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
no but its what i thought of when i read that line lol

DeadCorpseAC
03-02-2008, 01:35 PM
Originally posted by caswallawn_2k7:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by DeadCorpseAC:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by caswallawn_2k7:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by DeadCorpseAC:
I read the two first lines and I was like "WTF IS SAND DANCERS?"
I'll try to read everything later.

sand dancers are from a town in the north east of england or atleast thats what they get called lol. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Ok, but they are assassins or not? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
no but its what i thought of when i read that line lol </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
lol

Faylinks
03-05-2008, 12:05 AM
Originally posted by GhostDog3:
Good read, thanks.
ha you read it, congrats, did you start last week?