Crusader King 3 – Chiefdom of Baol

Note: This originates from a game called Crusader King 3. The story is still in development. More content will be added.

Geer Pateh

The year was 867AD, in the era of tribal, I was the ruler of Baol. Boal is a coastal country in Africa, in today’s west of Senegal. My name was Pateh, Geer Pateh of Baol, in the House of Congin.

Our faith was Roog Sene, which outlines the way of the divine, the path to living a spiritually fulfilling life in honor of one’s ancestors and the creator of the universe, Roog. Our culture was Wolof and we spoke Senegambian.

Geer Pateh of Baol

I was born timid and did not enjoy being challenged, or scared. I enjoyed things in moderation and am also greedy. I possessed a keen sense for all matters relating to stewardship and was an administrative force to be reckoned with. Not a natural leader, but I had to rule. In my younger days, I had taken up the call of the wild and enjoyed hunting. These were the highlights of my legacy.

  • I was the ruler at the age of 19. I had my son Ndyay Congin when I was 18. I did not know who the mother was. One day, Ndyay appeared at my doorstep. He had my eyes, I could tell you that.
  • Out of all the eligible spouses, I picked Awo as my betrothal. Not because she was special as a baby. But rather she was the heir to Kayor, another coastal country next to Baol.
  • While waiting for Awo to grow up, I took in concubines. I needed to start young and expand my bloodline. Of the few concubines I took in, Fatoumata had produced five daughters. For her contribution, even as she had passed the fertility age, I kept her as my concubine so that she could stay in my court, and with the girls.
  • In my early rule, Baol was raided numerous times by the neighboring countries. Due to my inexperience, we were mostly defeated. That relegated me to be an illegitimate ruler by the age of 40.
  • I was delighted when my betrothal Awo became the ruler of Kayor at the demise of her parents. But my happiness was short-lived. When Kayor was attacked, I agreed to join the war to defend Kayor even though my tribe holding Sene was recently raided.
  • Both Kayor and Baol failed to fend off our invaders. I was taken as a prisoner, together with my son Ndyay and three of my daughters. My regent Kumba took over to govern Baol. Some of my counselors and couriers were also taken as prisoners. Others were killed, including one concubine. It was a great defeat.
  • My son and I managed to escape prison. We returned to Baol. Eventually, I paid the ransom to have my daughters back. But I did not have enough gold to secure the safety of the rest. I had to focus on upgrading my tribal holding Sene. Some sacrifices had to be made.
  • Through years of upgrades, Sene became more resilient to raiders. We started to win battles.
  • Awo and I got married after Awo came out of age. We had 17 years of age difference. She was a very average girl. But she got me a son, Mahecor, my second male heir.
  • I taught my son well. When Ndyay came out of age, I found a woman to be his wife. Faaduma Askiya was 16 years more senior than Ndyay. But she was honest and patient. She was also lustful, which made her a good match for producing heirs. In addition, she was good at military tactics. She has the Amazonian physical trait! That made her powerful, healthy, and strong; and she had a sublime female physique.
  • In no time, my grandson Maha Congin was born. Meanwhile, as my daughters grew up, they took on important positions in Baol’s council.
  • At the age of 18, my daughter Yalla had committed a fornication crime! With my court physician! She was pregnant while betrothed to the son of House Bainunk 10 years younger. I could pardon her. Or I could imprison her, revoke her title. I have decided to pardon both of them. The affair went on and they had two daughters.
  • My realm priestess passed away due to old age. A 28-year-old Saltigue Mbodj was the replacement. I had decided to seduce her and take her as my third and final concubine. I was 45 of age. In the end, it didn’t work out. She left and another priest took over.
  • What?! I was attracted to my 21-year-old daughter Yalla!
  • Meanwhile, my neighbor Wulian has declared war against Baol. I managed to set up a new alliancing by agreeing to a betrothal agreement for one of my daughters. I had also hired the mercenaries to help with my war effort. Not only could I defend my county, but I also took my army into Wulian and laid siege to their two counties. It was a victory!
  • My second son Mahecor married a pretty girl, someone of his age. Meanwhile, I have lost track of the number of children and grandchildren I have.
  • I have decided to declare war against my southern neighbor and attempt to subjugate the ruler. Meanwhile, I have accepted the proposal from my northern neighbor to send one of my daughters as a hostage. That should buy some peace from the North while attacking the South.
  • At 53, I won the subjugation war against now-Geer Lamane! I took the Dutchy title and became Damel Pateh. I now had Baol, Niomi, and Saalum. I released all the prisoners and granted gold and a council position to gain favor with Geer Lamane. After all, he is excellent in stewardship.

Damel Pateh of Wuli has crossed the door to the world of spirits at 54 years of age. He died in his sleep. An old man, he lived a long, fulfilling life.

Damel Ndyay

The year was 902AD. I succeeded my father in ruling Wuli. I was generous and temperate, but cynical. I had excellent martial skills. However, I had lost a leg in one of the battles. These were the highlights of my legacy.

  • At 36, I only had one son and one daughter. My 53-year-old wife had passed the fertility age. So I have decided to take in a concubine aged 38 in the hope of having more children.
  • My neighboring ruler offered a 10-year truce for 50 gold. Why not?

Having ruled Wuli for a mere 19 months, Damel Ndyay was dead after eating a duck at a fest. It was certainly under mysterious circumstances. His 15-year-old son would have to take over.

Damel Maha

The year was 904AD. I was 16 years old when I became Damel Maha of Wuli. I was callous and calm, but yet paranoid. I was an insightful thinker and was born fit.

  • First, I lost Baol as my army was vastly outnumbered. I had to relocate to Niomi. The land area is one-third smaller. What a bumper.
  • Then, I took in my cousin and my best friend Sall as my concubine. When she was pregnant with our first child, I doubted that the baby was mine. So I confronted her. She reassured me and I rested the case and did not investigate further.
  • My wife was 4 years younger, an average girl from another culture and faith, but also shared the same hale physical trait as me. Our babies would be strong.
  • My concubine gave birth to a baby girl. On the same day, my wife was pregnant. She gave me a son.
  • The culture and faith differences were too much for my wife and I to overcome. Despite my best efforts to learn and speak her language, our relationship deteriorated. But I was willing to work for it.
  • Meanwhile, my concubine and my wife were pregnant at the same time! Both were sons. The babies kept coming.
  • I joined a war and helped win it. My reward was tiny. So was my contribution.
  • I was on a roll! My concubine gave me a boy and my wife, a girl. There was no competition here, was there?
  • I was seduced by my vassal and spymaster Greera Fatoumata. It was a sensual proposal. We were the same age. So why not? We slept together in a small space. The air reeked of foul things recently deposited. But it was a private place. We became lovers.
  • Next, I added my priestess (33) and my pretty cousin (16) as concubines. I should be blessed with many children.
  • My lover gave birth to a son. I decided not to expose the boy’s true identity and kept my lover’s secret.
  • Because my lover (29), also my vassal, did not have a legitimate child. If she died today, my realm would lose the land (Saalum). Hence, I offered my uncle (17) as her concubine. I hoped that would help with the baby-making business.
  • War was such a tiresome business. I was called into a war that I didn’t want to enter. Perhaps I shall go hunting instead.
  • During the hunting event, my lover gifted me a pressed rose trinket. This artifact would boost fertility and prestige. I had the opportunity to lay with her. So I did. Nobody found out our secret.
  • The hunt was over. The hyena escaped. It was a fun event nonetheless.
  • I was called to the same war again to defend one of my relatives who would inherit my vassal and lover’s land had she died (no good). It was a complicated situation. The attackers were either my alliance or paid me gold not to be involved. In the end, I raised an army and watched the war take place from afar.
  • Great news. My lover gave birth to a son. I was pretty sure the son was mine as we had laid during the hunt. But no one seemed to disbelieve that my uncle, her concubine was the father. Now, the linage of my vassal was secured. Though she would probably need more children. At the age of 31, she should be able to have more.
  • Another allied war came, another war was won. More babies to come. All my concubines were onboard with my ambition to build an even bigger family than my grandpa.
  • I was getting wiser, intrigued by the ancient text, and experiencing divine communion. Meanwhile, I pondered upon the regret that I had lost Baol since my rule. My neighbors were at war. My vassel was involved. I saw a rare opportunity to subjugate a neighboring ruler. My military strength was ten times more. I did not even need the help of my alliance. It was a quick victory. I took over Namandiru and Podor.
  • Emboldened by my recent military success, I worked on my pressed claim on Baol and declared war. At the age of 44, I retook the city of Sine, my grandpa’s founding city. I was in tears of joy. Baol, Nionmi, Saalum, Namandiru, and Podor. They were all under my care.
  • After the war, my next focus was to marry off my children to form alliances.
  • It was peacetime. What about a hunt? I got better, took down a hyena, and received a trophy artifact.
  • Pulaar Sweats spread across my land! I isolated the capital and dedicated my physician’s time to control the plague. Both Saalum and Podor were badly affected. The plague had taken away three of my lover and my vassal’s children so far. I was concerned. As for my capital, it went into a lockdown. I isolated the entire family in a secluded area. But for how much longer?
  • Two years passed and the plague left my land. I spent gold to let my realm recover. Everyone survived in my family. Meanwhile, my daughter and heir Yumeyga has given birth to a son! May you grow strong and wise, Gejopal.

“If you don’t buy the package, I know you won’t be back to see me”

I can count on my 10 fingers the number of people I have been in touch with for over two decades. AY, my senior whom I met in my university days. 33 years. BP, my ex-gf’s elder brother has become my brother-in-law. 29 years. Had I kept in touch with his sister, my ex-gf, that would have been a 32-year relationship. Unfortunately, we don’t keep in touch. The last time I saw her was at a funeral. RC, my ex-manager during my first job. 28 years. Believe it or not, I just met him earlier this month. He found a new job. And he is doing well. As someone older than me, in today’s market condition. I am impressed. Consider the fact that I am still in touch with my ex-wife, due to the joint custody of our dog … 26 years. ML, my partner-in-crime from video gaming to web hosting and all things in between, my ex-bandmates JL and JT, all of whom I still keep in touch with, thereabout 20-ish years.

So, where does my hairstylist SE, or rather, ex-hairstylist as of this moment, stand? 28 years.

I was in my late twenties, renting an apartment at AMK. Back then, the nearest mall was Bishan Junction 8. It was a walk-in, at Jean Yip, when I first met SE. I was single back then. And I was, and am still a habit of routine. I didn’t quite like my first haircut. But I know how stubborn my hair is. To find a hairstylist who can do a perfect job on the first attempt is difficult.

I kept going back to visit SE. Over time, she perfected the job. And she delivers a very consistent outcome for close to three decades. She is not the talkative type. But when we were in the mood to chat, we chatted. Through the decades, many things happened. She moved from Bishan Jean Yip to Thomson Plaza Jean Yip, and I followed. She kept a log of all my visits. My customer record ID is W007, which was kind of cool: double-o-seven. I was aware that she had a sales quota to meet. At times, I bought a package of 10 visits ahead of schedule. Maybe even two. Looking back, in today’s menu, a walk-in visit for men is S$45. The package I had was $22 a visit. The value was great. I love her work. However, ever since I moved from YCK to town, I have been thinking of a change of scene.

Traveling from my home to Thomson Plaza in the evening takes about 45 minutes without toll. And with a toll of S$3, half an hour. It is the hassle of making such a trip almost every month. With car prices going up, and how unlikely I will buy a new car, it is daunting to think of taking a train regularly for such a distance.

Or perhaps, I need a change in scenery.

SE knew what was to come today. We chatted as normally as we could during my haircut. Knowing that I had no intention to extend my package, she awkwardly tried to make another sales attempt. I know it was more than a sales number. She was the one person I saw often (besides my ex-wife). She was holding back her tears. I could see that. I joked that if I am in the area, I could walk in. She commented on the high walk-in price and said, “If you don’t buy the package, I know you won’t be back to see me.” It was a statement and not a plead.

Knowing that I won’t be back in the near term, she said there was something she had always wanted to ask, “Are you OK?” I knew what she meant and knowing that time was running out between us, I didn’t beat around the bush and told her that I am divorced recently. “Two years?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied. She told me that she sensed the change in me and intuitively guessed that. Shortly after, she couldn’t hold back her tears and cried.

I suggested that we keep in touch, have a coffee, and chat like good old days. I am not sure if that will be a reality. I hope that I am not merely another customer. And she surely is not just another hairstylist. After all, 28 years is a rather long time.

Horrible Experience at Café&Meal MUJI Plaza Singapura

I had one of the most humiliating experiences at MUJI Plaza Singapura, no fault of mine. It was so absurd that it took me a meal’s time – not at MUJI – to internalize.

I enjoy the food menu at MUJI. It strikes a good balance between tasty food and healthy food. The price is more premium. But once in a while, it is OK.

It was during a weekend. Faced with a table shortage during lunch hour, I joined a queue. In front of me was a big group of young people. Further down, there were tourists from Indonesia. The queue was long. And I was queuing alone. Since I had no one to talk to, I looked at my phone most of the time. I recalled the waitress passed by and asked, “Table for how many?” I said two. She quickly moved on. She looked stern, in her late fifties. Highly efficient.

To control the crowd entering the cafe, there was a barrier. It was closed when the cafe was full. And it was open when tables were available.

I was looking at my phone when I sensed the big group before I had entered. I saw the barrier was opened. I presumed that it was my turn. So I entered, looking for a table. But there was none. The cafe was full.

Naturally, I returned to the front of the queue. The barrier was opened. As I rejoined, a woman in her thirties stopped me and accused me of queue jumping. Then out of nowhere, the waitress appeared and testified that she did not see me in the queue! I was speechless. I told my side of the story. The barrier was opened. I thought there was a table available. Hence, I walked in.

The woman behind me insisted that she did not see me. Neither did the waitress. Further down the queue, the Indonesian tourists watched on and said nothing. No one spoke up as though I did not exist until now!

I was red-faced. Speechless. The waitress asked me to rejoin the queue, from the back. Doing so would have admitted that I had jumped the queue, which I didn’t.

I was upset. But I did not wish to cause a scene. Besides, I was hungry. So I have decided to leave MUJI and dine elsewhere.

During my meal, I thought to myself, if I let this go today, I would regret this very moment. I was wronged. There was no one in this world but me to look after myself.

So I returned to the cafe after my meal. At the entrance of the cafe, the barrier was closed. The same waitress recognized me. I requested to speak to the manager. With the same stern look, she asked, “The queue just now?” I said yes. I pointed at the CCTV nearby and told her the footage should prove I was in the queue.

The waitress rolled her eyes, disregarded what I said, and pointed at the cashier. “Speak to Ivan”. She opened the barrier and let me in.

It was passed two but the cafe was still busy. I patiently queued for my turn.

At the cashier, I explained to Ivan that I had a feedback/complaint about the cafe. I was prepared to return at a later time. But Ivan promptly stepped aside and attended to me. He was empathetic. I asked if we could check the CCTV together with the waitress. He said it wouldn’t be necessary and promised that he would speak with her.

Frankly, at that moment, I just wanted to have my side of the story heard. He passed me his name card. Assistant manager, Ivan Tan. He offered that I could further escalate if I wanted to.

I have decided to rest the case. My intention is not to seek justice. I don’t want to look back to that day and regret that I did not have the courage to speak up for myself.

What is the moral of the story? And what have I learned? Always give people the benefit of the doubt.

Highlights of 2023

Over dinner, GZDJ asked about my 2023 highlights. The first thing that came to my mind was snorkeling at Tioman Island. It was something that before this year, I would have never wanted to do. It was too adventurous for my liking. But in the spirit of YOLO, I joined a diving trip with my friends. I didn’t dive, not that adventurous yet. The experience was exhilarating. Floating in the open sea, with eyes on the ocean bed, seeing sea creatures living their lives entirely different from mine. The cold and warm current, the buoyancy. I could float the whole day and not get tired of what I saw. Plenty of small colorful fishes. Then came a few large bumphead fish. Corals, live and dead. Urchins and plenty of other sea creatures that I was not able to name. That trip was the highlight of my 2023.

I had no idea that snorkelling can be that much fun!

I think the year 2023 has been a year of traveling. I visited Bangkok and am impressed with how connected the places are with the railway. I got by easily without even calling Grab once. 22 minutes was all it took to travel from the airport to town.

I visited Chennai for business. Last visit, I was unwell for half of the trip. This time, work was super hectic. But I was able to enjoy what the city has to offer after working hours, thanks to my lovely colleagues in India.

I visited Hong Kong at the beginning of last year. It was great to catch up with my buddy AY. And to see my parents and my relatives of course. The food was delicious. Alcohol was cheaper than in Singapore. Hong Kong is still a shopper’s paradise. So many varieties.

I visited Malaysia often. By air, by bus, and by car. I am not new to Malaysia, But still, so much to offer to a tourist.

“But what about that accident you had and the first time you were taken by an ambulance?” GZDY asked.

Oh, that, I would rather not talk about it!

Perhaps to end this post on a high note, I have started to enjoy comedy shows. It wasn’t until relatively recently, that I discovered the joy of a live comedy. Three shows in Singapore and one in Malaysia. I am hooked on comedy shows on Netflix too.

Talking about Netflix. What about my favorite TV series in 2023?

Hmmm. There are so many. Penthouse versus Alchemy of Souls, Single Inferno S3 versus Love after Divorce S4, The Glory versus My Name, etc. If I had to pick one, that would be Penthouse.

Or perhaps. The real highlight of 2023 is the closure of one chapter and the beginning of another. To end this post, I wouldn’t say Bailey is my 2023 highlight. He is a reflection of my life: a constant struggle between physical and mental health versus discipline and routine, an unconditional affection that requires daily effort, a witness of my past and present, and a reminder of the path I have chosen.

Roger Water’s Dark Side of the Moon Redux is a Cringfest

Roger Water’s re-recording of Pink Floyd’s 50-year-old classic without any of the Pink Floyd members is very unpleasant to listen through. His long-winded spoken words are a constant distraction. And when he sings, he does so in such a low-key that makes me cringe all the way. The only part that is remotely enjoyable is when Roger Water neither speaks nor sings. The music is okay though I miss the real music from the original setup. Some parts are quite enjoyable, like his bass line. And then he sings, that spoils everything.

Album artwork

I forced myself to listen to the entire album in one setting. Because I am one huge Pink Floyd fan. My verdict: the original classic is so much more epic than this.

Sorry Roger, David is way more talented than you. You probably thought that this “Redux” album would prove otherwise. The truth is, Pink Floyd was fine without you. You are not good without Pink Floyd.