After healing, my stack moved towards Walata in the north. It was similarly weak defended - two skirmishers. I lost a war elephant in the attack, but made sure that a catapult killed the now wounded skirmisher, which gave me my first accuracy catapult.
Reinforcements to the stack were already diverted to my next target: Djenne. Kumbi Saleh and Walata had been in an area I considered to be rightfully mine, as both were in London's first ring, more or less. Djenne was farer away, but would serve as a perfect place to control the choke point. It fell in 680AD.
After that, I had no desire to continue my war against Mansa. It's often a good idea to finish off an opponent, to prevent "we're yearning to join our motherland!" unhappiness in the cities you captured. However, here I had met all my goals for this war: I had weakened the AI tech leader a lot, I had captured cities in the first ring of my capital, and established a nice point of defense to react to any future aggression. All this had been done so quickly that I hadn't seen a single unit from him except city garrisons! I expected a counter-attack stack to appear sooner or later, so I saw no sense in stretching too far and attacking his capital in the far north. There were more important things to attend, so I made peace with Mansa - not without first moving my attack stack back out of Djenne into my territory, because it would have been trapped in the city otherwise due to the mountain and cultural borders.
The reason I had expected more resistance from Mansa during the next turns stemmed from looking at the power graph before declaring war. Here it is:
The two AIs winning in their wars, Julius and Hatty, were far ahead in power, but Mansa had a similar power rating as the rest. So he had to have some units somewhere... Note also my power graph: I had been dead last for a long time. Until around 200BC, I had finally begun to garrison my cities for real, so my power was steadily increasing since then - especially after 300AD, when I had prepared for the war in earnesty. Right before declaring war, I was in third position already together with Roosevelt, and my power would increase even more from then on.
Here's my empire from 680AD, after "correcting" the border to Mali:
As you can see, Nottingham and Hastings are still fighting culturally for their tiles, which is something that needs to be corrected soon. But let me first talk about another thing I had done on the home front during the Malinese war. Remember how I had said that I didn't want to build Stonehenge in my capital? Here's the reason why:
As you may remember, I had built the Pyramids in London and had adopted Representation. There's a wonder that fits perfectly to that civic, the Great Library, and one very useful way to get it is to use the great engineer the Pyramids would eventually generate to rush it. However, had I built Stonehenge in London as well, there would have been a very good chance of generating another great prophet instead, for which I didn't really had much use at the moment! So building Stonehenge in York had kept London's people points pool clean.
The problem with having built Stonehenge, and the reason why I was now wondering if it had really been that good of an idea, was that it had already generated a great prophet. While this great prophet had given me lots of techs as described earlier, it also meant that the next great person needed a lot more points to appear. One of the advantages of the Pyramids/Great Library combination is that you will have the Great Library very early in BC times. Now several hundred years had passed in AD times already, and I still hadn't generated the great engineer...I might even lose the Great Library in the end!
For that reason, as you can see in the above screenshot, I had researched Metal Casting in 300AD and built a forge in London. Forges are generally a good idea to build early, for everything you build thereafter will be finished faster, it amplifies the power of the whip, and it will give you extra happiness if you have gold, silver or (as in my case) gems. But apart from all this, it also allows you to hire an engineer specialist! This was the most important feature for which I needed the forge in this case, as it sped up the generation of the great engineer considerably: Instead of +4 GPP per turn, I now generated +10 GPP per turn - thanks to being philosophical. And thus in 500AD, I was finally able to rush the Great Library in London.
But back to my cramped situation on the map. My now battle-hardened army from the Malinese war healed and returned to London. To relieve Hastings and Nottingham from cultural pressure, I had to attack either Hatty or Saladin next. Hatty had made peace with Mao some turns ago, in 620AD, and that war had slowed her down a bit research wise. Saladin's research on the other hand was going strong. Additionally, I only had Nottingham at Hatty's border, while my border with Saladin was longer and a lot more complicated. That sealed it - a war with Saladin would be up next!
In 620AD, shortly before the war with Mansa ended, I had researched Civil Service and adopted Bureaucracy. Research on Machinery came in in 755AD, and I ran 0% science for some turns to upgrade my axemen to macemen. Then, I was ready to declare on Saladin. Although he and Julius were the AI tech leaders, I was up Literature, Civil Service and Machinery on him.
Only Julius had Feudalism already, which meant against Saladin, my macemen would be facing only archers, axemen and swordmen. I planned to make the conquest of Arabia as speedy as possible, to enjoy that window of opportunity as long as possible! My forces gathered at the border to Medina, and I declared war in 785AD.