"Rise!" The angry sergeant hooted into the barracks. The soldiers, fully clad in Janissary uniform forced themselves onto their feet, to the discomfort and displeasure of some. Again, he screamed. "He will be here in ten minutes, no more, no less, and I want you to sort every detail about your sorry selves! Cagatay! Your feather is crooked! Sort it now! Ozker! What on Earth is that stain!?! Get it out!"

As he left the dorm with his robe tail trailing in mid-air, and slamming the door behind him, he swore he could hear one of the soldiers mutter after him; "Arse... Give us an hours warning, arse..."

Back inside, with Ozker scrubbing furiously at his robe, and Cagaty trying to prop the feather atop his hat with a long splinter of wood, the first of the "new recruits," a Mr. Filippos Mola cleaning off a shining, cheap brass crucifix. He did not know it, but he was the first in a new wave of such recruits.

"Rise!" Came the angry shout of the sergeant. "For Sultan Mehmed the second, of the Ottoman Empire! Sultan of Anatolia, Constantinople, and the Ottoman Greek lands! Για το σουλτάνο Mehmed η δεύτερη, της οθωμανικής αυτοκρατορίας! Σουλτάνος της Ανατολίας, Κωνσταντινούπολης, και των οθωμανικών ελληνικών εδαφώv!"

And Mehmed entered, in full "royal regalia"; with the ridiculously huge crown and a flattering silky red robe, trailing behind him on the floor. The floorboards creaked uneasily as the Sultan strode through the beds, lined up against the wall either side. He smirked a little. They were each so still, looking directly opposite them, faces frozen as if time had stopped. And then he came to the Greek. The little brass cross dangled from his neck, and could see the beds and Janissaries behind him, with a gold tinge.

Mehmed lapsed into Greek; "You, son, are my favorite...." _____________________________________________________________


Sultan Inal of the Mamluk Sultanate sat opposite Mehmed at the dining table. Until now, the only words spoken between them were solely diplomatic.

"I appear to be a little short on wine..." Inal muttered, in a harsh Arabic tone. Mehmed signaled to one of the servants in the corner, tending to a wilting plant. The servant stumbled over to the other end of the table, leaned over other members of the Ottoman royal family, all gathered round the long table, deep in conversation with others of the same family, and Mamluk diplomats. "Your wine sir." he said, before trotting off back to the plant. The candle light flickered in the silence between the two men. "You did notice, he had a crucifix...." Inal said icily. "Maybe you should fire the heathen..." Mehmed's mouth raised itself at the side, and his cheeked cringed. "In the palace of Mehmed Osman, Christians are treated as Muslims. Not bad company either. Some of my best friends, servants, and... Eh.... Soldiers are what you might call.... Heathen." They did not talk again the entire night. All conversation and communication was handled by the diplomats.


Later then evening....

"They speak bad of you... The foreign diplomats." The Ottoman diplomat said, every inch of his being frightened to the core. Would the Sultan harm the messenger? "They say that if we cannot even beat the Serb primitives we are good as dead if we even think of provoking a war. And apparently they are right." He stood silent in the gloomy hallway, and let it sink in. Mehmed replied a few seconds later, stunned; "Excuse me? What about our campaigns against Athens and Albania? Morea? What of them?" Frightened by his suddenly angry tone, the diplomat shrunk back a little, and winced before answering; "Well, they seem to see them as Minor." This time Mehmed hushed himself before saying anything. He gave a little sigh. "I mean, as if Serbia wasn't minor enough. What do you suggest? Sir?" When the sultan did not reply, the diplomat continued. "I also overheard Inal talking to one of the diplomats. He let his tongue slip, and apparently there are troops stationed near the border. A lot. I advise you let them be this once. We are not strong enough yet."

"We are equals. Our army is smaller, but better. Quality over quantity, no? We will march on Belgrade again. One year from now, give the troops time to rest, the army must be exhausted. "And then?" The confused diplomat asked. "I doubt I will see Egypt as part of the Ottoman empire in my lifetime, to put it lightly." Came the sombre reply from Mehmed.


One year later, the Ottoman armies marched victoriously on Belgrade, although at a great cost. A huge loss of manpower. The Ottomans managed to, with a large amount of bias and propaganda, hide this largely from the Mamluks. And finding a lack of soldiers, yet more Christians were recruited into the Ottoman army. The growing equality of the Christians in the Empire, even meant they had regional representatives, in some cases. The Ottomans had taken the first few steps towards Westernisation. However, very soon, it would seem to most Ottoman citizens that the Arab world would turn against them as this continued. But, as it turned out, Mehmed was already searching for a European Ally... But the Mamluk threat was no doubt there. There was a popular phrase used at this time, and the closest English equivalent might be; "The shit will hit the fan..." Would it?


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