As you can see, one of my catapults was still wounded, but who needs healed catapults when all they would do is bombard cities? The stack moved into the jungles and stripped Medina off its defenses. Saladin's axemen that had been in the city all the time conveniently left it, leaving only two archers and a spearman behind, and so my macemen easily captured the city in 815AD.
Unlike Mansa, Saladin put up a fight though. Or at least, he tried to. The axeman and the swordman you can see in the above picture moved into my lands, but I trailed them with elephants and simply waited until they had left the jungle, and killed them. However, I hadn't left enough forces behind to deal with all the pillaging forces that appeared at Hastings in addition to a landing commando Saladin had sent via a galley...
Protecting the city was top priority of course, so I had to whip a maceman and let the swordman pillage my ivory. That way, the city held and I was able to kill the swordmen during the next two turns. A new camp was then put on the ivory under the protection of the whipped maceman afterwards.
Meanwhile, my main attack stack had healed in Medina and moved to Baghdad next, south of Medina and southwest of Hastings. Here, also only two archers were defending the city, plus a catapult...which left the city and moved into my territory, apparently on a pillaging mission. One of my elephants got rid of the catapult, which could have slowed down my attack stack if it had attacked, and my macemen took Baghdad.
I had a source of marble now, which should come in handy soon. Alas, I also had another border with Hatty now as well, but that couldn't be helped.
It's time to talk about one of my major mistakes I tend to do in so many games. I always seem to forget to scout the lands I am about to invade! Instead of using open borders in peace time to send in a unit or two to map out my neighbour's lands, I forget about it (and I'm generally too lazy anyway...). "No-scouting Sulla"? Hah, I don't think so. If anybody deserves this title, it's me - and I'm not proud of it, at all.
So my forces lacked clear directions of where to go next. However, a lot of resources could be seen: Iron, guarded by a fortified swordman; cows; and two gold. All this was to be found near Medina and Baghdad - that must be the location of Mecca, Saladin's capital! So it was clear now where to go: Southeast, over the iron hills!
But since I didn't know exactly what southwest of Baghad was, I had to wait a few turns for reinforcements - Baghdad had to be secured against any counter attacks coming from the west before my main stack would be able to proceed!
I moved on the forest, killed the swordman on the iron, and moved on southeast. I did not pillage the iron though, as I expected to capture the city during the next few turns, and there was no need to artificially create more work for my workers than necesarry. I was right: Mecca was there indeed, and fell in 965AD.
Wow, what a nice starting location! Iron, two gold hills, spices, incense and cows! The only thing it really lacked were flood plains and grassland tiles for fast growth, but apart from that it was a very nice site. It was also shielded by water from two sides, so I expect some good results from the Arabian players in this game - if they manage to overcome the lack of food.
Capturing Mecca had finally put my score on top, too. With the cramped, jungle-heavy and somewhat resource-poor start, I had been last for a long time - and now, during my second successful war, I was leading for the first time. Life was good!