"No doubt they will be trouble. They will look to our growing power, and they will be envious. They will look at the city of the worlds desire. Our City!" Mehmed proudly proclaimed out into the street from the room in his temporary accommodation. The city of Constantinople lay sprawled out before him. The sun peeked over the hills in the distance, and gave the Turkish flag flying over the capture cathedral an especially impressive look.

He turned back and gave Zaganos Pasha a reassuring look. The impressive looking Albanian General towered above him, such that the Sultan was constantly uneasy around him. His thich black hair, his booming voice, and round, rolled consonants. "Yes, sir. Who exactly, if you don't mind me asking, sire?" He asked, with an upward infliction.

"The Mamluks, Pasha, The Mamluks. They are a force to be reckoned with. They are also in possession of the Holy Land. A turbulent, and also important region. Holy to three faiths. It was thinking of this that gave me an idea. If they were somehow to grow more powerful than us, then this region may become theirs. Not directly, perhaps through vassalisation, or as part of a sphere of influence. Maybe that's not a plausible scenario, maybe I'm paranoid. But what might trigger this? Us. I have a dream, of a huge empire, the Ottoman Empire! But they are in the way. I may not see my ambitions carried out, but sooner or later they will be in the way, trying to counteract our growing power ..." By the time he was finished, Mehmed has his arms open, as if waiting to give his general a crushing embrace. And the nauseating look on his face...

"And your proposal, sir? You said you had an offer?" Zaganos questioned. He looked annoyed. "Yes ... Zaganos ... You used to be a Christian, did you not?" The question came out of the blue. It seemed quite irrelevant. And Mehmed could tell he thought so, as his puffy cheeks crinkled, into an annoyed, although inquisitive look. All to Mehmed's concealed amusement.

"Excuse me, sir?"

"You were a Christian, no?"

"Well ... Yes. Why do you ask? I have spurned the path of righteousness! Torture me not! I am Muslim! I have cast out my sins!" This was all, again, to Mehmed's amusement. He was not as devout a Muslim as one could be, and found Zaganos' sudden Scriptural tone the most amusing part of his meeting with him so far! (Am I overusing "Amused" and "Amusing?") In fact, he would come to marry a christian!

"It's all right. But you and I have both seen how devoutly people attach themselves to their faiths. We ... I could use that to my advantage. Provoke a war of faith before they become too much of a threat to my designs on that area. How? Recruit the Byzantines into our ranks. Into the Janissaries. If we encourage them to cultivate their Christianity, then we could edge them into a war over it. They see us using "heathens" to carry out our dirty work, then our relations go south. Of course, this will not be an overnight thing, they won't just hop into a war over it like that! No, we need to conquer as fast as we can through the Balkans. Thunder into Europe! We will become a major power in the coming decades. We need to build up a huge army, to rival the Mamluks, as they are many, and we are few! And we will not convert, but pacify the Christians of Europe! And hopefully from that, they will not be so rebellious. And of course, it is just one more reason for the rest of the Muslim world to go to war with us! The next century will see us rise to such power. Will you help me Zaganos? With all of my generals, and advisors?"

Zaganos looked severe, and Mehmed could tell he wasn't taking him seriously. He followed the "true faith" more ardently than he did, and did not like the thought of sympathising with Christians, the group, which of course, he was descended from. But he was a trustworthy general. He would help him, hopefully. "I shall think about it." And with that, Zaganos exited. Mehmed turned to the window, and leaned out. And roared out into the street; "Pax Ottomania will come!"


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