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Thread: V&V Stories Thread

  1. #1
    The Count of Bohemia Senior Member Cecil XIX's Avatar
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    Default V&V Stories Thread

    This is the place where players should post all non-battle related stories they have written. Players who write stories involving other player's characters should first ask permission before including them.

  2. #2

    Default Re: V&V Stories Thread

    The life story of Hugues I, Duc de Bourgogne

    [Writer's comment: This is the prologue of the life story of my new avatar I hope I'll get soon. WARNING: Historical inaccuracies]

    Peasants look up from the fields while a man is following the path to the castle. The man is travelling alone and wears a dark cloak. His face isn’t visible. Although this is not a common sight, the farmers go back to work. The weather has been harsh and the harvest is meagre because of recent droughts.

    Having entered the castle the man removes the cloak which he used to cover his face. The face of this man is that of a 16 year old boy. But if you have a closer look you see this man’s face looks severe, scarred by sorrow and anger. It’s been 5 years since he’s last been in the castle. His castle. He is there to fetch his stuff.

    It’s been 5 years since the king exiled him. It’s still very difficult to talk about it. Thinking of it, his eyes become wet and this hardened man starts crying like a small boy.

    A small peasant boy, hiding in the castle from his duty, finds the man crying. The man does not want to anyone to see him crying. Especially not a peasant! But the ignorant boy is the only person he does not fear to tell his story. He lights the fireplace, finds 2 chairs, and starts telling his story:

    “5 years since I fled to the HRE. 5 years I’ve lived in poverty like a peasant. 5 years of sorrow. 5 years until I met that man. The only man who felt sorry for me. He said the HRE needed men like me. Arrangements have been made. The man will adopt me. I’ll change my name. I will represent the 16 year old son of my benefactor. Only my closest friends will know who I’ve been.

    I do not hate my country. It’s a great and glorious country suffering under the rule of a terrible king. I will do everything to save my country, even if I have to give my life for it.”

    The man stands up and hits the young peasant boy. “Don’t you dare to tell anyone!” The boy starts crying so the man hugs him; “Don’t feel sorry. One day, when you’re grown up, I’ll save this country and make you prosper!”

    He makes sure he takes everything with his coat of arms on it. Then he leaves the castle. He may never come back. Maybe it’s better if he didn’t.

    This is the story of the 31-year Hugues I, Duke of Burgundy who leaves France with only a horse, a cart, his few possessions, dressed like a peasant, but full of pride… And this is only the beginning…
    Last edited by Lord of Lent; 09-04-2010 at 17:07.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: V&V Stories Thread

    Antwerp 1080

    *CRASH!*

    “Curses!” muttered the merchant, observing the sorry fragments of a fine earthenware jar that now lay broken upon the cobblestones.

    Jan de Vries, a Frisian merchant of reasonable standing, was in Antwerp for the week selling his wares. Although he would hardly have been considered wealthy by the standards of the nobility or the Church, he had nevertheless earned more than enough to keep himself and his family in a sufficient state of comfort and distinction in his hometown of Groningen.

    He knew the city and her history well. From the early days of her foundation all the way through her gradual rise of prominence to her current status as the court of the Dukes of Holland.

    For many years the Leuven family ruled Antwerp as Landgraves of Brabant, and had been responsible in part for the gradual restoration of the city’s population. Their rule was considered reasonably fair, though they themselves hardly set foot in the city: their power lay in the county of Leuven itself. This was not unwelcomed by the merchants and burghers of the city, who, being freed from political interference, encouraged the growth of trade and did much to undo the effects of centuries of warfare and wanton destruction.

    This state of affairs had continued without trouble until the year 1054, when the last landgrave, Lambert the Bearded, died with no male heir. The city then passed to Liudolf Hümmel, Count of Holland, who had married Lambert’s only daughter Matilda. Liudolf had proved an ambitious ruler, expanding his lands at the expense of the Count of Flanders, and in 1056 Henry III elevated Holland to the rank of a duchy.

    Liudolf had died in 1078, and his son Andreas succeeded him as duke. So far, Andreas appeared to be content with merely maintaining his father’s gains. But just last month Andreas had marched into Antwerp at the head of 700 men. Rumours spread rapidly: trouble was clearly brewing in the heart of the Reich. And it appeared that Hümmel would be part of it…

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  4. #4
    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Post Wien, 1080

    Leopold, Duke of Austria and second son of Kaiser Heinrich, studied the plans intently before setting them down on the table and fixing the mining engineer with a firm gaze, his blue eyes glittering.

    Well now, it's certainly a grand plan - the largest silver mine in the known world! And I can certainly see the financial benefits of such an investment. But tell me good sir, how much is it to cost?

    The mining engineer, a squat and swarthy man of Magyar descent, shifted uneasily in his seat, cleared his throat and looked to Leopold's advisor Ernst of Melk. Ernst rolled his eyes before leaning over and writing a figure on the parchment plans which lay on the table in front of the Duke.

    Leopold looked at the figure for a long time before rolling up the plans, shaking the mining engineer's hand and dismissing him with a smile and the usual pleasantries.

    Once they were alone in the chamber, he turned to his advisor.


    Ernst, that's a small fortune! I'm flattered that the public appears to think me such a wealthy man but it is surely beyond the realms of credibility that we can raise a sum like that and invest it for such a long time before reaping the reward...We have troops to pay, horses to water...

    Ernst, a thin, gaunt man with dark hair and darker eyes, placed his arm around the Duke's shoulder.

    Sire, we live in unusual times. The ongoing rebellion creates a situation of....flux and uncertainty. And in such times clever men have been known to profit.

    Do you not ride north on the morrow to Prague and thence, God-willing, to Poland?

    Leo's eyes narrowed.

    I do.

    Ernst grinned.

    Then let me share with you an idea...
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 10-04-2010 at 03:19.
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  5. #5
    King Philippe of France Senior Member _Tristan_'s Avatar
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    Default V&V Stories thread

    Paying a blood price

    The wind came from the north and the desolate icy wastes. Carrying with it a cold that could shatter bones, it howled through the camp of tents tethered at the line of woods just out of bowshot of the walls of Stettin, a harbinger of snow and cold that would make the men shiver for countless nights, unless...

    Magnus contemplated the castle upon its hillock, wondering how much longer he would have to endure the cold and wet before the defenders surrendered or finally gathered enough courage to meet him in the field. He knew that these Pomeranians were no true warriors, drafted into militia from among the craftsmen, villagers and farmers of the land, their commander some kind of petty noble. But numbers played in their favour... Magnus had even sent away the spearmen that he had taken with him when leaving Hamburg, sent them out to foray for anything that would make the wait more tenable, keeping with him only his retainers to man the camp... Magnus' men were now outnumbered but he knew he could count on the bravery and valour of his Saxons to face the odds he had pitted against them, with honors.

    "What I wouldn't give for a tankard of hot wine", he mused while he watched the movement of the enemy, puffs of white mist marking the position of the men on the battlements.

    A squishing sound of rapidly approaching footsteps in the ever-present mud of the camp brought him around. Johann, Magnus' shield-bearer, stood before him, an annoyed look clear upon his face. Annoyance mingling with expectancy and a little bit of fear, Magnus remarked at a second glance.

    "What is it, Johann ?" asked Magnus, wondering what could cause such a mix of emotion in the rather unperturbable Johann.

    "An emissary, my Lord... A Danish emissary..."

    A scowl crossed Magnus' face. He had always harboured a deep rancour for his Danish neighbours, whose constant pillaging of the border villages of Saxony had taken part in bleeding his land of its riches. Now, he had struck deep into their lands and hearts, their prince dead at his men's hands but they had come back at him with a vengeance. King Knut had marched against Magnus and his paltry army with the whole might of his kingdom behind him. He had forced Magnus to flee cowardly, forcing him further away from his lands, leaving them at the mercy of the Kaiser's dogs, traitors to the ideals of the rebellion, perhaps the shortest-lived in the history of mankind.

    "What can Knut want that he cannot gain through force of arms ? I can run but I can't fight... The Dane knows it well... "

    "The emissary didn't say, my Lord... He said he must deliver his message to you in person."

    "Fetch him then, Johann, that I can hear what the Viking has to say", Magnus said before turning around towards Stettin... A price so close and nevertheless perhaps unreachable now...

    "Talk of being caught between a rock and a hard place", Magnus whispered, his words snatched from his lips by a fierce gust of wind like the mist from his breath.
    A short while later, Johann returned with the Dane. Although serving as an emissary now, he did not look like he was trained in letters and language. Magnus's suspicion was confirmed when he began to speak in halting German.

    "Mein gut Ritter, das King wishes to speak with you personally." The Danish knight gestured towards the outside of the camp. "You follow, Ja?"
    "And what guarantees my safe return to my men, were I to follow you... The King's deeds these last few months surely do not lean that way," Magnus answered skeptically.

    "On the King's honour, mein Herr", the Danish messenger answered with hand going to his chest and striking it to the resounding clang of his mailed fist on his breastplate.

    "On the King's honour then, I'll follow you", said Magnus stepping forward to follow the messenger, silencing Johann, about to object, with a swift hand gesture.

    "I may come to regret this but I'll rather have regrets than remorse," Magnus mused while following the bulky form of the Viking through the first of the snowfall.
    They walked a short distance, eventually coming to the crest of a hill. At the top was the King of Denmark and his bodyguard, but upon seeing that Magnus had come alone the King waved away his bodyguard and they retreated a safe distance. King Knud wasted no time in beginning the conversation.

    "Magnus von Saxony. We meet at last. I assume you know why I am here?"
    "I assume you're here to ask a blood price for the death of your son, am I wrong ?" Magnus replied as bluntly as Knud had adressed him.

    "I did not wish for your son's death but make no excuses for it... He died valiantly though he would have lived honourably had he suffered to be taken prisoner. He made his choice and suffered the dire consequences..."
    "Indeed." The king replied nonplussed. "Nevertheless, it was your decision to attack my Kingdom that resulted in my son’s death. I cannot let that stand!" He gestured behind them. "My elite retinue is ready to scatter your pathetic Saxons across this land. But I thought you might just decide to run again, I am giving you another offer."

    The king unsheathed his sword, and pointed it at Magnus.

    "Magnus von Saxony, I challenge you to single combat! You will not refuse me, not if you have any hope that Pommerania might one day be yours!"
    "And I, Magnus of Saxony, gladly accept your challenge... For in my death, I hope your bloodlust will be sated and the Reich thus freed from your depredations and in yours, I will avenge the raping of my duchy for so many years."

    Bowing to the Danish King and divesting himself of his cape, Magnus himself unsheathed his own sword.
    Upon hearing Magnus's acceptance, the King quickly dismounted and returned the bow. Thus they began.
    The two warriors began circling each other. Blows were exchanged to the clanging of the swords, the rasping of the blades as they slid on one another. Soon, it began apparent that the Danish King although filled with rage had less stamina and prowess than his opponent.
    Using a feint, Magnus swiped at Knut midsection, cleaving his breastplate and drawing blood from the King’s torso. Knut stepped back.
    But having regained his footing, the King lunged at Magnus who sidestepped and brought his blade down on the King’s arm, once again drawing blood.
    The fight was taking a turn for the worst for the Danish King to the dismay of his retinue, watching from a distance.
    During a pause in the combat, Magnus stepped back and adressed his adversary

    "Knut, I do not wish to see you dead... Surrender and promise to leave the Reich lands at peace and I will spare you... You do not need to die today, your honour is safe."
    The King laughed ruefully. "Leave the Reich lands? Have you not noticed that I have been scrupulously avoiding entering the Reich all this time? Or are you so stung with the guilt of your actions that you have convinced yourself that you are the victim, rather than the perpetrator?"

    The king sighed, than staggered into a bloody cough over the nasty wound he received to his midsection.

    "No, I won't apologize. But if you truly are the man you claim to be, and you are willing to let me walk away when you have the upperhand, than I would be suitably impressed with your character to forgive you. Otherwise..."

    The King regained his composure, and raised his sword on high.

    "Have at you!"
    King Knud, bleeding and sore from the prolonged fight, raised his sword high over his head hoping to land a crushing blow on Magnus. But in doing so, he made his attack predictable, allowing ample time to Magnus to prepare a block.

    Knud's blade slided upon Magnus' own, carrying him forward with the strength of the blow, allowing the latter to land a blow on his back with the flat of his blade. A blow to the proferred neck would have separated the royal head from the rest of the body, had Magnus taken the opportunity.

    "King Knud, you would be dead by now if not for my mercy... Surrender and go back to your land... Your honour is safe as is your son's... He died a warrior's death... I truly wished he had lived but as stubborn as his father, he would not surrender and fought to the bitter end."

    Keeping a safe distance from Knud, Magnus circled him, awaiting his answer.
    The King straightened himself up, and let out a long sigh. He lifted his visor to look at von Saxony.

    "Very well, Magnus von Saxony. I will leave. If you are willing to forgo this duel then I am willing to overlook your transgressions against my Kingdom. But know this." The King leveled his sword at Magnus. "If you should attack my lands again, next time I will not be so constrained."

    Without waiting for a reply, the King remounts his horse, and rides away with his guards.
    Watching the King ride away, Magnus saluted with his sword, then wiped it on his sleeve before sheathing it back. Once the King's out of sight, Magnus slowly turned back to his camp.
    Last edited by _Tristan_; 10-19-2010 at 13:16.
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    King Philippe of France Senior Member _Tristan_'s Avatar
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    Double post
    Last edited by _Tristan_; 10-19-2010 at 13:14.
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  7. #7
    The Count of Bohemia Senior Member Cecil XIX's Avatar
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    Default Re: V&V Stories Thread

    Silesia, 1084 AD

    "My King, will it really be this simple? Can we really defeat the Empire?"

    The question hung in the air like freshly-baked bread wafting into the command tent. Władysław I Herman strode across the room before banging the palm of his hand against the main map that was unfurled on the table.

    "We can! We absolutely can! We've all heard the stories: How the Reich is bankrupt, how the Electors cannot afford their armies and are already in debt to support them. The so-called "Saxon Rebellion" has turned the Empire into a house of cards!"

    The King removed his hand from the map using to to gesture in support of his speech.

    "Most likely they will try to throw their soldiers at us, using this war as an excuse to trim their military expenditures to a sustainable level. But that will take time, during which all but two will be incapable of replacing losses. And even the Whole provinces, such as Brandenburg and Bohemia, have no ability what so ever. What shall they replace their knights and sergeants with? Peasants? Town militia? Or shall they continue to rely ever so much on expensive and difficult to replace mercenaries?"

    As the King continued, he pointed to the north of Germany.

    "The civil strife in the Empire has concentrated their forces in the north, as the loyalists squashed the rebellion. And now Leopold, no doubt trying to increase his financial clout within the Empire, has left himself vulnerable."

    Without breaking his concentration, the King made an abrupt about-face and marched out of the tent and out to the camp, his aides following behind him.

    "All we have to do is sweep him before us, and there will be no one to stop us from conquering Austria! With Austria's wealth taken from the Empire and added to our own, the Reich will have lost too much revenue to defeat us."

    One of the King's more astute advisors spoke up. "What about the Emperor? He has one of the largest armies in the world, and he's far from bankrupt!"

    Władysław smirked to himself as he mounted his sword, preparing for battle. "The Kaiser will simply have to ask himself a question. For what does it profit a man if he gains Poland but loses all the Holy Roman Empire?"

    With a wave of his hand his dismissed his men to finish preparing themselves for the battle at hand. In this brief, quiet moment he thought to himself.

    "Of course, this is only possible because of that otherworldy donation we recieved. How could anyone give away such a huge sum of florins?"

    In the few remaining moments the King of Poland had to himself, the again pondered the emblem that accompanied those 22,000 florins, the only mark to identify the benefactor.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Last edited by Cecil XIX; 10-24-2010 at 19:52.

  8. #8
    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Post Silesia, 1084

    Leopold paces the dirt floor of the tent while his advisors stand waiting, nervously shifting their weight from one foot to the other. Finally the Duke of Austria turns to the Captain of the Ducal Guard, one Johann of Durnstein.

    'We withdraw.'

    Johann pauses for a moment before responding.

    'But...your highness, I am certain that with the correct battle plan we can defeat the Polish King and his army. The majority is made up of that band of Bohemian mercenaries we encountered in the forests outside Prague - they will no doubt cut and run at the first sign of trouble. The remainder is peasants and spear militia. With the bulk of our forces on horseback we can simply run them around until they are tired and then pick them off one band at a time.'

    Leo's quartermaster, Gustav of Melk now chimes in.

    'Johann that's all very well but the Polish King's retinue alone numbers one hundred horse. And he is accompanied by a mounted band of Polish Nobles. Even if we are able to separate the infantry and run them down and even if we are lucky enough to preserve significant numbers while doing so, how are we to best his cavalry and bodyguard?'

    Johann grins broadly.

    'We have our own spear, do we not? Once the infantry are routed we lead the Polish King on a merry dance into the undergrowth beneath the trees, where we have hidden our spears. They can bog him down in melee while we reorganise for a decisive charge to his rear. Then we ransom him off for a wagonload of coin!'

    The Duke has been listening intently. He now clears his throat and his advisors cease their debate and turn their attention to him once more. He speaks.

    ''Tis a grand plan Johann and I praise you for it. But let us shelve it for now and seek to battle the King on our own terms. While I do not doubt the soundness of your tactics, would it not be best to marry them with some strategy? I like not this field on which we find ourselves. There is no high ground to speak of and it does not sit well with me to have my opponent choose the time and place of our fray. We withdraw.'

    And that is the final word.
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 10-26-2010 at 03:25.
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  9. #9
    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silesia, 1084

    Wien, 1085

    Leopold of Austria, now Prinz of the Reich and heir to the Kaiser's throne, is aghast at the news.

    "My brother Henry, gone? But how? He was in fine fettle, never spent a day sick in his life...what dark day is this that brings such mournful tidings! And what? There is more? The Bavarian Duke slain by the accursed Swiss! I can scarcely comprehend the scale of this tragedy. The deaths of the traitorous Saxon and that worm Raspe are but cold comfort."

    He lapses into a long silence, which is eventually broken in a tactful manner by Ernst of Melk, clearing his throat.

    "Ahem...your Highness, there are certain matters which must be dealt with - the Polish King runs rampant in Silesia this past year since you withdrew your army. It is rumoured he intends to march on Prague, or even on Wien itself. In the meanwhile he taunts the Reich with his presence on German soil and extracts a weighty toll from the good folk of the soil who have been ruined by his troops foraging their lands for supplies and plundering their stores."

    A moment's further silence passes before Leopold replies.

    "Yes, it is time the Prinz of the Reich began to act as such. Ernst, halt construction on the silver mine and make all funds available to me for the recruitment of mercenaries. There is no time to raise a native force, we shall have to rely on ruffians to do our grim work for us. Rally my company and ready my steed - we march on the morrow."
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  10. #10
    Involuntary Gaesatae Member The Celtic Viking's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silesia, 1084

    "Ah, it's good to see you out of that brothel, lord Theodericus!"

    "Well, unfortunately I can't say it's good to be out. I enjoyed staying there."

    "Yes, I expect it was all fun and games for you, sir, but to me it was hell. I had to spend half the time worrying that you would drown yourself in beer, and the other half worrying that you would suffocate yourself in breasts! As if that wasn't enough, you ran up quite a tab there. Had you not been so bloody fortunate your name would've run out of sway, and then it wouldn't have mattered how many times the kaiser had promised you how much land. You should be thankful you're alive."

    "And that I am, friend." Theodericus sighed. "The sun shines, the wheat is growing and things are looking up. You shouldn't worry so much, especially not about me. The Good Lord will not allow any harm to come to his servants except when it serves His purposes the most, and then it will be my honour to suffer any pain He would have me suffer."

    "I'm glad to hear that." Engelbrekt mumbles on: "Because the way you live your life, I fear the 'Good Lord' must be a sadist."

  11. #11
    The Count of Bohemia Senior Member Cecil XIX's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silesia, 1084

    The air around Vienna was unlike anything Eystein Haraldsson had experienced in service as a diplomat to the Kingdom of Denmark. Fear, uncertainty, resolve, pride... The confusing and contradictory emotions were well suited to what was currently the de facto capital of an Empire undersiege. Only the most important and urgent business could have kept him from finding time to spend in the markets and taverns, listening as the people dicussed the interesting times they found themselves in.

    But as it happened, Eystein was here on such business. He was summoned by Prinz Leopold, and after a tantalizingly brief stay in Vienna to double check his wherebouts, he was instead just reaching a castle near the city where he was to have his audience. After a brief introduction to the guards at the gate, he was led in to meet the Prinz.

    Prinz Leopold was in the map room, sat behind a large table of dark wood and strewn with charts. He looked pale and drawn, his face lined with tiredness and dark circles around his eyes. Eystein allowed himself a moment's private amusement; he had a good idea as to why the Prinz was sleepless.

    Still, despite his evident exhaustion Leopold emitted a calm determination and with a regal air drew himself up in his chair to his full height before motioning to the Dane to sit. Eystein found his seat and was immediately fixed by the Prinz with a piercing gaze of his steel-grey eyes. A mailed hand was placed on the chair back beside his ear and it made him jump.

    "Nervous, Dane?" inquired the Prinz, a wry grin upon his face.

    Admittedly he was, at least moreso than when he first arrived. Eystein didn't think the Prinz was the type to summon only to harm him, but then one couldn't be sure... Clearly Leopold was being affected by the stress of his situation. Still, Eystein silently cursed himself for responding to the intimidation and resolved to recover from it.

    "Indeed, my lord. They say the Hun could be here at any moment, and I would not want to be caught in the middle of such a powerful struggle."

    The Prinz laughed, suddenly and loudly, his deep voice echoing and booming around the small antechamber.

    "Yes, indeed, the Hun. You'd like that, wouldn't you? Well listen to me Dane and listen well for I have a proposition for you.

    The hand of my Royal sister Agnes, in return for a ceasefire, an alliance with the Danish Kingdom, and exchange of geographical information, full trading rights and a small stipend of 1000 florins per season.

    King Knud should know that this is the one and only time he will hear words of friendship from the Reich. While I concede that our errant servant Magnus of Saxony hath enraged him with his unprovoked aggression, I consider that was a personal matter and the King's opportunism at this time of strife for my nation does not sit well with me. It does not sit well with me at all."

    He paused for a moment. The shadows were lengthening as the afternoon sun grew weaker through the leaded windows. Leaning forward he continued, this time sotto voce.

    "You must believe me, Dane, when I tell you that the Reich, eternal and blessed, will endure. Our enemies will be cloven asunder and their cities blasted to the ground, stone by stone. This I swear. Your King Knud had better not count himself among them."

    The Dane relaxed.

    "Indeed my Lord, King Knud would much prefer to remain on good terms with the Reich. But I am sorry to say that the Danish Prince has only this month accepted another marriage offer and is no longer available to wed. However, with Poland seizing control of the Baltic, Hamburg guarding by only one regiment, and the Kaiser having gone silent to my King's earlier overture of friendship, we could not simply sit back and allow Poland to take Saxony. With Hamburg under our protection, you will have no need to fear that it will fall into the hands of your enemies."

    Leopold cocked an eyebrow.

    "So the Danish King covets Hamburg eh? What say you to this then: we add Hamburg to the aforementioned offer. King Knud may keep it so long as he pays us 1000 florins per season, enters into full trade and military alliance with the Reich and allows our geographers access to his maps."

    Eystein nodded.

    "My lord, I can assure you that King Knud will agree to this."

    The Prinz grinned wolfishly.

    "Then it is done. I bid you farewell Dane."

    He rose swiftly from his seat and with a flourish of his black cape he was gone, leaving Eystein in the company of the royal guardsmen, who ushered him from the maproom.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: V&V Stories Thread

    Corsica, 1108

    "And there I was in the Diet session, getting massacred by the very same people whom I showed the utmost of leadership and mercy to do, and then I just realized something. You know what? I don't feel like doing this anymore! I've had one bad thing after another happen to me since I was six years old. So I just up and left!"

    "Oh Heinrich," cooed one of the women in a nigh-incomprehensible accent, "You're so independent."

    "It's about time," said Heinrich, nodding lazily. "I mean, I'm Emperor, right? I'm supposed to have all of this power and wealth, right? I might as well have some fun with it!" There were three girls attending to Heinrich tonight. Three was a common number; sometimes there were more or less though. The Kaiser could never remember their names. Most of this was due to their identical olive complexions, raven-dark hair, and generous endowments, but at least a small percentage was the Kaiser simply not caring. If any of them could ever learn German without speaking it in such an atrociously Mediterranean accent, then he would start paying attention. Maybe. "So I send some letters off to the right people, weigh down those envelopes with a couple pieces of gold out of my personal wealth, and the next thing you know, I'm touring the most beautiful islands in the world!"

    "And we are glad to have you," said another one, massaging his shoulders and working her way down to his back. "I propose that we celebrate our generous and dashing guest," she continued, "A toast! To Emperor Heinrich the Free!"

    "Excellent idea, my lovely! And a further toast, to our generous Pisan republicans, for allowing me sanctuary here! It is a silly little government they've got set up, one that'll never catch on, but a toast to them nonetheless!"

    Heinrich and the girls began drinking in earnest, making more and more extravagant toasts.

    "To the Carthaginians! I don't know why, but here's to 'em anyway!"

    "To my good Catholic mother! If she'd see me now, she'd kill herself!"

    "To Mount Vesuvius!"

    "To the castrati! They're all so adorable, I don't want them to ever grow u-oh, wait..."

    "To Matilda of Tuscany! She's the one that sold me out, and I just know she and that damn Pope were lovers. If I can ever prove it..."

    The toasting and drinking continued on and on long through the night, but a few hours and several drinks later, one of them women produced a special bottle from heaven knew where. "Now," she slurred to the Kaiser, rendering her accent even thicker than usual, "a special treat for our special guest. You try unique Corsican wine now, brewed from a special mix. A lot more fun than normal wine, but you get nasty dreams too."

    "I stopped having dreams years ago," Heinrich said softly. "Gimme the bottle!" He snatched it from the girl's hands and drained the entire bottle in one gulp. "Whoa..." he whispered, as the girls gave each other uneasy looks, "you weren't kidding about this stuff being strong..." The Kaiser quickly became drowsy, going from rowdy to passed-out in a span of only five minutes.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "Heinrich..."

    Wha-?

    "Heinrich..."

    W-where am I? Why do you sound so familiar?

    "Heinrich..."

    What is this place?!

    "This is your domain, Heinrich. Your imperial dominion. Do you not recognize the forests of Germany? The icy peaks of the Alps? The restless waters of the North Sea?"

    There used to be more...

    "Indeed there did, Heinrich, far more. Far more and then some again. Come Heinrich, let me show you all that was and may yet be." And at the next moment, the Kaiser was zooming across the south side of the Alps, the rolling hills of Northern Italy, the plains to the lands of Staufen, the mighty rivers of Poland, and...

    Rome! By God, Rome itself! Oh, how I have missed that city! And inside is Castel St. Angelo, with-

    Inside the castle was Pope Gregory himself, writing a notice at his desk. He spoke as he was writing. "By Papal Bull, Henry IV, King of the Romans, is hereby excommunicated from the Holy Church of Rome, and denied recipiency of all its most sacred Sacraments..." - he looked up, directly at the Kaiser - "...and he shall have one year from this Bull's issuance to satisfactorily reconcile himself with the Church, else this excommunication will become permanent." He stood up, grinned, and turned, making out with a woman who could only be Countess Matilda...

    I knew it! That blasted Hildebrand has taken up that vile Countess in an unholy conspiracy against me! Oh, if only I could smash him for good before I die...

    "As you wish, Heinrich." That familiar voice was back, and before the Kaiser could say anything the vision whisked him away from Rome, now he was outside another city, he implicitly understood it to be Genoa, and he was at the head of a mighty host, and the host easily took the city, and now they were zooming in the city, going into the buildings, now under them, and then they were in the city's catacombs, its sewers, and Heinrich was walking away from Pope Gregory's corpse, which had been forcibly drowned and left to rot forevermore in the infernal muck -

    Yes! Finally! Oh, how I have longed for this day? But how is this possible? How do I achieve this great victory?

    The voice ignored him. "See what could have been, Heinrich. See what could still be, and more." And yet again they were whisked away from the foul scene, and under Genoa, when Imperial armies in mass quantities were driving to the east, not to conquer territory, but to head to the Levant, Jerusalem, and give it to the new Papacy in an attempt to reconcile the grave sin that the Empire had previously committed. All of the great Electors, the great heroes of the Empire, Heinrich's family members were talking, about how they were cursed, cursed by his horrible actions, and how they weren't sure that even such a great venture as the unsanctioned Crusade would make up for it...

    Pah, they were always weak.

    "Were they, Heinrich? For even as they dilute their strength so horribly to make up for your sins, see the Reich continue to prosper." They were moving away from Jerusalem now, back to the west, back to the Reich, and now there were armies en masse, storming across Europe in all directions, taking Paris and Palermo and Budapest and Arhus, and even in the East they were expanding too, Papal Jerusalem now being protected by five cities, to the point where fully half of Europe was under the control of the Imperial Eagles, and the Empire had truly entered a golden age not seen since the Pax Islamica several centuries back, and not in Europe since the glory of Ancient Rome, a thousand years' dust by now.

    Then all is well then, is it not?

    "No, Heinrich. All is not well. For as the Empire expands its borders, it rots from the inside out. See your family, Heinrich, your successors, and how they cope." And then there was more discussion about how the Kaisership was cursed, cursed despite all their successes and glories, and Heinrich saw a parade of men go by that he understood to be future Kaisers; one of them murdered in his bed in the desert, another one taking a direct hit from an artillery shell, yet another one ambushed by a band of mercenaries while traveling on a road west.

    "See, Heinrich, the Reich tear itself apart due to your actions." He was underground once again, seeing a dimly-lit room, with six hooded and cloaked men discussing the future of their plans and the fallout from their last moves, and he came to realize that these men, these Germans, had ordered the assassination of their Kaiser, and finally this was a blow that Heinrich understood, finally he realized what it was coming to, but before he could ruminate on this there were more visions, of French armies streaming in from the West, Poles from the East, and Byzantines, more Byzantine armies than he could count, coming in from the South and East, he saw them laying waste to Italy: Bologna, Florence, and most especially his beloved Rome, where afterwards the streets were filled with not vendors but weeds, and still he saw that there were Germans fighting each other, he saw a wretched amount of carnage in the fields directly north of a city in the Swiss Alps, Bern, and he saw one Imperial noble beheading another one, this one his own grandson and a hero of the Crusades and about a thousand different adventures, and then he saw this noble in turn get speared by a remnant of German cavalry that had just taken the city, their own commander fallen in the city square, and he saw the same council as before still meeting, still discussing, as if nothing had happened...


    What is -

    But he was cut off, there were still more visions to see. The fratricide, it seemed, was over, but the bloodshed was not, another Kaiser, another grandson, fell at the city gates, passing off the Holy Grail, the most sacred of all relics, to some unimportant Nubian because he deemed his own people unworthy to possess such a venerated object; a great plague sweeping through the realms of the Reich, its subjects dying by the tens of thousands if not more, and there were nobles, valiant and heroic nobles, dying by the bucketful just to maintain the status quo against the Byzantine Empire, and nobody seemed to care but that Satanic council...

    Make it stop, I beg you, make it stop!

    "No," rumbled the voice, it having turned sinister and menacing. "See, Heinrich, see the doom of your Empire."

    No no, please no -

    "See the doom of your Empire!" And they were on another Italian field, and it seemed like every single armed combatant the Reich could put up was present, and then they all started killing each other in mass quantities, far deadlier and more efficient than that last fratricidal battle he saw before Bern, or even that plague, and there was another noble, another Elector, watching it all, a morbid curiosity the only reason why he bothered in the first place, and there was the last Kaiser, valiantly charging, but getting caught up in a deadly maelstrom of soldiers, his contingent the epicenter of the entire battle, and then he saw the Kaiser's last remaining brother, from the same generation and family as the man who had been previously been murdered on the council's orders, hold his soldiers up at the critical moment, to let his brother, his friend, his master, his Emperor, die, be charged by a man wearing obsidian armor, by the very ruler of that council itself, and still the fighting continued, the entire Reich embroiled in a massive blood feud that not even treason and regicide would satisfy...

    No more... no more...

    "This is what happens when you take the wrong path, Heinrich. No matter whether you press too hard or not hard enough, it all ends the same. Vendetta and ignorance are two sides of the same coin, and how many tries will it take before you find the right path?"

    Who... who are you that speaks to me so?

    "You will address your Emperor by his proper title!!" the voice spat, and suddenly there was a great shining light, and then for the briefest of moments, Heinrich could make out...

    ...no...

    ...his own face.

    "Apply what you have learned, and perhaps you will do it right this time!" and then everything went black.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Kaiser Heinrich awoke with a start. He managed not to scream, but he was sweating and his heart was pounding harder than it ever had in his entire life. It took two full minutes for him to recover to a semi-normal state. The girls, still drunk, looked at him uneasily, asking him if everything was okay. He ignored them, wordlessly stumbling away in the direction of the nearest shipyard.
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; 01-31-2011 at 06:07.
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  13. #13
    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default Wien, 1111 - A Plan for Civic Improvement

    Prinz Leopold sat hunched over the map table, his head resting on one hand while the index finger of the other hand traced ever decreasing circles around the city of Budapest. Gustav of Melk, brother of Ernst and now chief advisor to the Prinz, shifted uncomfortably on his feet. He had been standing, in silence, for some time now. Eventually he summoned up the courage to clear his throat. The Prinz looked up, his reverie broken.

    What we need, Gustav old boy, is a pair of eyes.

    Gustav was lost for a moment.

    Hungarian eyes Sir? he ventured.

    Hungarian, Austrian, Bavarian, French even! What matters is not the origin of the eyes but their placement. In Budapest, that's where I want them..and further afield. It still pains, nay sickens me to think that we had that city in our grasp and were forced to retreat for lack of intelligence. I will not be caught unawares like that again.

    Those ruddy-skinned horselovers will feel my mailed fist atop their over-large heads once more and this time it shall not be removed!

    Gustav warmed to this theme. Indeed sir! We shall smite them anew!

    The Prinz scowled. Do stop it with the sychophantism Gustav and grow a pair like your good brother Ernst. The problem is that nowhere in the Empire do we have a sufficiently adept pair of eyes to give me a view on Hungary. I have checked with Becker - he doth not exaggerate in his report to the Diet. There is simply no-one in our employ with the necessary skills.

    Where shall we find our eyes Gustav?

    He thought for a moment. Well sir, such characters are often to be found in ale-houses and in...establishments of adult entertainment, if you follow.

    The Prinz grinned his wolfish grin. Indeed I do follow good man, in fact in some situations I could be said to lead in such matters. You there! This to the captain of the guard unit on duty in the map room. Ready your men for an expedition! I wish you to plumb the very depths of Wien in search of a pair of eyes for a mission to Budapest. Leave no stone unturned!

    The guard captain looked ecstatic at the prospect. His men, by their stupid grins, gave every indication that they would attack the mission with relish. Gustav frowned.

    My liege, it strikes me that such an approach might only be successful at great...expense. Perhaps a more logical route might be to attempt to narrow the task somewhat?

    The Prinz looked puzzled. Eh?

    Gustav continued. Sir there are several such establishments in the city precinct. Even though I am sure the good Captain and his men will conduct themselves with great....efficiency and focus in touring their premises, perhaps 'twould be a better option to explore another possibility. As you know the clergy of Wien have for some time complained at the proliferation of such...facilities..in and around the city center.

    The Prinz scowled. Bloody nimbys, can't stand 'em.

    Gustav pressed on. One suggestion which has been made is to clear out those premises in and around the town square and instead contruct one large facility on the edge of the slum district. Centralizing the...trade...as it were.

    Leopold seemed to get it now. Out of sight out of mind eh? I see your point - this would give us the opportunity to monitor more closely for signs of persons of the right...aptitude.

    Gustav smiled. Indeed sir, as well as pleasing the Church.

    The Prinz sighed. Can't have everything I suppose...Go ahead then, we shall proceed as you suggest. Sorry Captain, looks like your men are now tasked with closing down the alehouses and bordellos of Wien rather than patronising them!

    He clapped the good Captain on the back as he strode from the room. The Captain looked glum and shot a look of daggers at the Prinz' advisor, who smiled fatuously at him in response.
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 02-10-2011 at 03:33.
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    The Search for Beefy Member TheFlax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wien, 1111 - A Plan for Civic Improvement

    Prague, 1113 AD

    Vaclav Premyslid was an old man now, slipping into his fifties, and since the Civil War he had relapsed into his old habits of ignoring politics in favor of hunting. This meant that the Duke of Bohemia had spent all his years in Prague and by now, all city officials in Prague thought of their lord as a nuisance regarding their duty. Indeed, his hands off approach coupled with his summary, unfair and expeditious ruling on any matter brought to him had not endeared him to the population of Prague. So when Friedhold Rochus, Chamberlain of Prague, heard that the Imperial Capital was threatened by a Polish Army, he saw an opportunity.

    Vaclav was just returning from a most enjoyable hunt when a disheveled and panicking Friedhold ambushed him.

    "What is the matter THIS time." Already annoyance crept into the Duke's voice.

    "My Lord, my Lord, its the Poles..."

    "What? They're coming here?" Vaclav was suddenly somewhat worried since he had no army to speak off.

    "No my Lord, they are marching on the Imperial Capital."

    The older man was immediately relieved. "Then why speak of it? The others will handle the Poles..." Already he was thinking of something else.

    "That's the crux of the issue my Lord, there is no one else!" Friedhold told him urgently.

    "That's no good... I wonder where the Kaiser will relocate..." Vaclav thought out loud as if Frankfurt had already fallen.

    "My Lord, you could save the Imperial Capital." The Chamberlain suggested.

    "Me? I don't have the men to face the Poles, everyone knows that."

    "Perhaps not normally my Lord, but by some stroke of fortune, the Poles' numbers are few, I am certain a valorous man such as yourself will be able to defeat them."

    Vaclav was thoughtful. "I suppose it is my duty to ride to Frankfurt's defense." There was a glimmer in his old eyes as he remembered his more martial days.

    "There is no time to waste my Lord, I will write to the Diet to inform them of your most noble of decisions." The Duke of Bohemia was already leaving the room the assemble Prague's garrison. "Godspeed my Lord!" Friedhold cried out to him as he left, all the while hoping the Poles would kill him.
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  15. #15
    Illuminated Moderator Pogo Panic Champion, Graveyard Champion, Missle Attack Champion, Ninja Kid Champion, Pop-Up Killer Champion, Ratman Ralph Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
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    Default Re: V&V Stories Thread

    Franconia, 1114

    News of the loss of Frankfurt had reached Kaiser Heinrich's mostly mercenary army quickly. The Kaiser, already mercurial from the events of the past few years, had flown into a swift rage upon hearing that his capital had fallen. For two full days, he yelled at everybody that came across him, staying up to all hours of night in his tent, cursing Premyslid for not properly positioning himself, the other Dukes for having so recently fallen (they had "cowardly evaded their duty to the Kaiser and the Reich by dying", Heinrich had memorably ranted on one of the nights), somebody named "Dietrich von Saxony" for not being there, and Pope Gregory. Most of the all the Pope. Scarcely an hour went by where Heinrich did not swear the foulest of oaths against his old enemy, weather it was muttered under his breath or roared at the top of his lungs. The army, pushed forward by the Kaiser's rage and determination, was making excellent time.

    However, when news of the death of Vaclav Premyslid hit the camp and the entire army braced for the Kaiser's intensity to ratchet up even farther, it appeared to have the opposite effect. Instead of blowing up at the world, the Kaiser retreated to his tent, brooding, apparently in a deep depression. Now, instead of sending his subordinates away in a hail of profanity, he simply ignored them, preferring to continue muttering to himself. All in all this was far more impactful on the army than the Kasier's previous behavior.

    Ash, the Kaiser thought, all of it is ash.

    It wasn't supposed to turn out this way. After the Kaiser returned from Corsica, there was supposed to be a glorious reconquest with him at the helm, restoring the Reich's former shine and making all things once again possible. Instead, what is there? Hummel falls, I have to go pick up the pieces in Antwerp and take that back. Becker recaptures Innsbruck, bleeds himself out doing so, and falls the next season. Meanwhile I'm out of position, the Poles get deep into Frankfurt, Premyslid takes up an inferior army, explicitly assures me that the city will not fall so I'm free to retake Antwerp, doesn't even position his army so that it can be of use in the defense of the city, and then falls after the unspoiled and victorious Polish army turns on him.

    So now I'm down another capital,
    Heinrich continued. The issue of Rome, of course, was murky, but the Kaiser had always considered it rightfully his and treated it as such.

    He sank into a deeper depression. What is it for? What is this all for? Even if we do manage to pick ourselves up out of this funk, how will I reshape the Reich again? I wanted fewer Dukes; the Lord certainly provided with that one. We are down to der Bartige now - a fine man, but so far that's it - and Leopold of course, indefatigable as always. The west is in ruins, the south a gigantic question mark. I realize now that I can't do it alone. All I've been able to do is mop-up work after Electors have fought and died; simply arriving too late, avenging the last army, and beating up on the battered enemy force that remains.

    Did I dither too long? Did I spend too much time on that godforsaken island? In all his time of existence, Heinrich had never once experienced an once of self-doubt. Tonight, however, that emotion was making up for lost time. He was for the first time in his life completely directionless. Certainly, there was Frankfurt to take back and the Polish army to kill... but what after that? Where to go? How could he continue to push forward, dragging the entire Reich along with him if he had to, if he was not sure where forward was?

    All he could do was once again start muttering oaths against Pope Gregory, this time more often than before.


    Kaiser Heinrich's problems start to take a greater effect.
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  16. #16
    King Philippe of France Senior Member _Tristan_'s Avatar
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    Default Re: V&V Stories Thread

    Marseille, 1104

    It was a late sunny afternoon in Marseille like so many others in this most pleasant of places… The sweetness of life in Provence had taken its toll on Lothar. Never would he imagine himself returning to his horse, lance and sword. He was better with a quill and bottle of ink than with a sword and buckler in hand. One reason why he didn’t join in the Rebellion. His lands had suffered as much neglect from the Emperor as those of the Rebels but they were far removed and so he had chosen to wait and see which way the wind would turn.

    He had watched from afar as the Secession faltered, its leader Magnus von Saxony betrayed and killed in dubious circumstances in some forsaken city of the North. Watched also as the Reich bit more than he could chew, starting wars on all fronts : against the French, Danes, Poles, Hungarians, Milanese… Half the world was already at war with the Reich and those that weren’t were so only because they were perhaps too distant. The Reich was even on the brink of excommunication… A truly God-forsaken land.

    And while all this happened, Lothar had chosen the only sane course of action : declaring the independence of Provence and hope that the Reich would find enough on its plate and stay away from Provence long enough for him to build up his forces and enrich the region by implementing reforms he had long envisioned to propose for the whole Reich. Instead the Electors had given way to their constant bickering, refusing to hear the pleas of their people.

    That state of affair left Lothar undecided. He hated to know that the German people suffered at the hands of foreign sovereigns raiding and pillaging the villages and cities of his youth. But at the same time, he smiled at the lesson taught to those arrogant nobles who had chosen to follow that fool Heinrich instead.

    But now he stood at the crossroads of History : he had never been arrogant enough to think that he would leave more than a footnote but again he would like to be remembered as a man of the people and not as a coward who stood by the sidelines while his people disappeared from the face of the Earth.

    Still, he was torn. He was living a good life, prospering and making his people prosper, living true to his ideals of chivalry and had views to enlarge his possessions at the expense of his neighbors. The other course of action meant putting himself at risk in the defense of a man for whom he felt something close to hatred, but at the same time, saving the lives of countless Germans…

    Watching the sun set over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, drinking a chilled glass of Côte de Provence, Lothar considered where his fate would take him.
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  17. #17
    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default The Prinz and the Provencal

    Being an account of the infamous conflagration between Prinz Leopold, Duke of Osterreich and Lothar Zirn, Count of Provence during the years of our Lord 1125 to 1128 and the means by which the conflict was settled therewith.

    Chapter One: The Siege of Milan

    In which the Prinz Lays Siege and is alerted to the approach of Zirn


    Following his success at the Battle of Lombardy the Prinz was eager to march on Milan itself, which his scouts reported was but lightly defended.

    Reports from further afield had it that Lothar Zirn, the rebel Count of Provence, had the Milanese scattered and ill at ease and with the Diet's approval the invasion of Lombardy began in earnest.

    In the spring of 1125 the Prinz and his army completed their Alpine passage and descended the foothills to the edge of the great Italian city itself.

    True to the scouting reports the Duca Giorgio was not at home and the great city lay vulnerable to the assault of the army of Osterreich.

    Prinz Leopold was certain that a quick siege and assault would do for the defenders and leave open to him the booty of the Milanese bankers' vaults. With this money in hand the Reich would be adequately recompensed at last for the hurt inflicted by the Italian dogs over the years and the Reichsmarschall would be able to begin building his army, a personal political desire of the Prinz.

    Within a matter of days the circumvallations were completed and the city lay surrounded by the army of Osterreich. His forces having been thinned somewhat by the battles he had fought on the road, Prinz Leopold was faced with a dilemma - should he encircle the city entirely and spread his forces thinly, or leave some gaps in the siege line which, by the deceit of banners, signal fires and regular and noisy patrols, could be hidden from those inside the city?

    The Prinz thought long and hard on this matter and decided for the latter. He would not risk his men unduly by spreading them out. The Milanese garrison was cowed and fearful, but they may be relieved by a force he was as yet unaware of and his own army would be lost unless they were grouped in sufficient numbers.

    So the siege was laid and in the following days work was begun in earnest on the equipment that would assist his men in breaching the walls and seizing the city.

    As the days wore on and his triumph grew closer the Prinz could not help but see Milan as a giant purse stuffed to the seams with gold which would be his for the taking soon enough.

    One day as the shadows lengthened and the chill set in, the Prinz received a group of riders who entered the camp seeking an audience.

    They informed him that the army of the rebel Count of Provence had defeated a large Milanese force on the Po bridge and was marching on Milan.

    The Prinz was at first puzzled. To what end did the Count march to join him? Was he to request a parley? But surely if that were the case he would have sent word?

    He retired to his tent and brooded on the news for some hours before he became convinced of his interpretation of it.

    The Count meant to sieze Milan and his riches for himself. He was either unaware of the siege in progress or intended to challenge Leopold for the prize.

    With this in mind he hurriedly penned a message for the Count and sent it off with his fastest rider. If there was to be a confrontation, let no man say that the rebel had not been warned...

    His message read:

    Lothar Zirn,

    It is clear that you intend to take advantage of my inability to completely enclose the city of Milan and you seek to attempt an assault on the city before my own is ready.

    Be warned: despite your differences with my father it is still possible that one day and on my accession you might be reconciled with the Reich and receive the honour of a Duchy in recognition of your martial exploits.

    However, should you proceed to assault and sack Milan this will never be the case. You will have made a sworn enemy of the Prinz of the Reich and of the Duchy of Osterreich for ever more.

    Yours,

    Prinz Leopold von Osterreich
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 05-09-2011 at 10:59.
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  18. #18
    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default The Prinz and the Provencal

    Chapter Two: The Italian Job (Authored by _Tristan_)

    Part One


    The Prinz’messenger had come and gone, leaving a letter which stood unopened in Lothar’s hand.

    “Won’t you read it, my Lord ?” Guy d’Ollioules asked.

    “I’ll wait until we can see the walls of Milan before seeing what the Prinz has to say…Though I already have an idea of what he wishes.”

    Turning in his saddle, Lothar checked the advance of the column of his army. Most of the column was mercenaries, drawn to him by the stipends given to them but now bound to him by more than money. Their spirits were buoyed by the victorious crossing of the Po, they felt they could conquer the world. Lothar could not help but wonder at how small the column was. Would it be enough ?

    The days wore on until one morning, scouts reported that Milan was just over the next hill.

    Lothar rode ahead with Guy in tow to get a first look at the Milanese capital… Its capture meant much to him. If he could add it to his demesne, he could declare himself King of Italy and thus negotiate with the Kaiser on a more equal footing. And if negotiations failed, the Milanese gold would enlarge Lothar’s army, offering him protection from both the Reich, the French or the Venetians.

    With Milan sprawled at his feet, Lothar took the Prinz’ message from within his doublet. Committing every word of it to memory, the further he read, the more anger rose in him.

    Guy noticed the change of mood in his liege. “What does the Prinz wish ?”

    “Gold… The Prinz wishes gold… Milan’s gold…” Lothar answered “Let’s see if we can deprive him of it… But first things first, Guy… Bring me paper, quill and ink… The Prinz deserves an answer.”

    Finishing the letter, Lothar sealed it and gave it to Guy. “Have a man carry it to the Prinz but he is to deliver it only in 5 days from now.”

    Over the next days, Lothar scanned the positions of Leopold’s army. Soon a plan hatched in his head. It would require a conjunction of many factors, a lot of luck and daring-do but if he succeeded, it would be the perfect heist.

    Six days later, as night was falling on Milan, with siege engines built, Lothar gave orders to move out. The horses’ hooves were muffled, chainmails and weapons darkened with soot.

    Lothar deployed the main body of his army in front of the south gate while he sent his battering rams to the eastern and western gate with a small escort.

    From the city, night watchmen called in their rounds. It was the signal Lothar’s men were waiting for. The rams were slowly rolled down to the gates. Then it all happened very quickly. The city militias had expected an attack on the southern gate where Lothar’s main force was gathered, out of sight of Leopold’s sentinels. The other gates were thus taken almost without opposition. The city councilors and main bankers were rounded up. They were given a choice : either cough up their gold and live or refuse, have their gold taken and die. They chose the former.

    As the first rays of the sun struck the roofs of the city, the city vaults had been all but emptied and wagons loaded with brimming coffers full of the city’s riches.

    Lothar ordered a quick retreat to Genoa. He was sure the Prinz would come in pursuit but he had to reach Genoa first and free the city from the Venetians besieging it.



    Prinz Leopold,

    I respect your martial prowess and your honor. You were ever present for the Reich while your father was away, gallivanting while his Empire was torn to shreds and his people suffered.

    In all of this, as I said, you've earned my respect.

    Thus, it is with a lot of regret that I must decline your warning of not storming the walls of Milan. It is a prize that would ensure the future of my princedom and a means to negotiate a truce with your father, not on an equal footing but from a stronger position.

    As the proverb goes, one bird in the hand is better than two in the bushes. So I'd rather make Milan mine today than wait on a hypothetical reconciliation once, or if, you access the Imperial throne.

    What is Milan to you anyway ? Would you not be better off helping your vassals defend the Reich against Hungary or help your father secure the northern reaches from the Poles ?

    Leave to me the defense of the Reich southern borders... I think I have proven more than capable of it, don't you think ?

    So march north, Prinz, fight for the Empire and maybe one day, we'll be able to fight alongside...

    May the future be kind to you,

    Prinz Lothar of Provence and Liguria
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 05-09-2011 at 12:06.
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    Default Re: The Prinz and the Provencal

    Chapter Two: The Italian Job

    Part Two

    The messenger lay sprawling in the dust before the Prinz who stood over him menacingly, brandishing the gauntlet with which he had struck the man about the face.

    Leopold spat on the Provencal and wheeled around to accost the captain of the guard who stood before him cringing

    "So you mean to say, good sir" he snarled, "that under our very noses....through our lines of circumvallation....into a besieged city" his voice rising, "a troupe of French peasants and mercenaries simply pranced into the vaults" shouting directly into the man's face now "took what they wished and SIMPLY WALKED BACK OUT AGAIN!!"

    The Prinz was clearly enraged. His face was turning a shade of purple that the onlookers had never observed before in a human being. The word 'apoplectic' sprang to mind.

    The captain was in tatters, his nerves at their very end. In the smallest voice imaginable he said "Yes your highness."

    For a brief moment it seemed the Prinz would lash out once more. But he gathered himself, slowly, the purple receded, he took a deep breath, turned away from the captain, clearly disgusted, and turned instead to Gustav von Melk, his trusted advisor.

    "And to top it all off he styles himself Prinz! It is enough to make the blood boil in my veins. Gustav, wherefore has the criminal fled?"

    "To Genoa my liege."

    "Genoa? Does he not know that my father has claimed the city? The elders will not harbour him in defiance of the Kaiser."

    "Perhaps he does not my liege. He has been on the march for some time, after all."

    The Prinz visibly cheered.

    "Then we have him! We march at once to catch the rebel Zirn at Genoa. God willing we will reclaim our gold and punish the traitor in one fell swoop."
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 05-09-2011 at 12:21.
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    Default The Prinz and the Provencal

    Chapter Three: The Genoan Trap (authored by _Tristan_)

    Part One

    Guy d’Ollioules watched the approaching column of Lothar’s army from atop the northern gates of Genoa with some trepidation.

    The news of Lothar’s clever deed under the walls of Milan was in everyone’s mouth and should have had Guy filled with unabashed pride. And pride he felt but it was tarnished by the news he’d had to impart to Lothar. Unbeknownst to his liege, Genoa was no longer a city gained to his cause, but a city under the command of his enemies, or at least, unwilling to take sides.

    From the battlements, Guy could witness the clouds that rose on the horizon and as a man of many campaigns, he could tell that if ever those clouds reached Genoa, they would sooner break into a rain of arrows than in drops of water.

    At long last, Lothar walked through the gates among the nonplussed sentinels in Genoan militia uniforms, with his men and baggage train in tow. The gate sergeant refused to acknowledge Lothar’s salute and quickly withdrew through a side door, from which quickly emerged a runner that left towards the town center.

    Surprised, Lothar watched as the scene played out before his eyes. Then he spotted Guy coming down from the walls and dropped from his horse, clasping arms with his second and vassal.

    “What’s all this ?” Lothar inquired.

    Guy hesitated before answering. “Sad news, my Lord… The Kaiser has asserted authority over Genoa.”

    “What ? How ? How can he do that while his nearest army is leagues from here ?” Lothar interjected as they started walking through the city streets to the palace that Lothar had requisitioned upon his conquest of the city.

    “The Charter allows him to do it… However, the city council has not clearly chosen its side, knowing you’d probably be back soon. But they probably won’t fall behind you for fear of Imperial retaliation… Thus, if those clouds are what I think they are, Genoa may well become a trap.”

    “Yes, Guy, you’re not mistaken… Prinz Leopold didn’t like me reaping the riches of Milan right from under his nose and he’s coming after us like a dark hound of Hell. All he has to do is surround the city and wait for the city council to gather enough courage to disarm us and deliver us to him or simply let him through the gates where his larger force will tear us apart.”

    The two men walked in silence through streets cleared of their usual bustle. They both considered the gravity of the situation.

    Having finally reached the palace, the Army of Provence settled in the courtyard and buildings around it. Lothar walked into his private office and served Guy and himself a large glass of wine. Sipping from it from the balcony, he watched the sea over the roofs of the lower city and the masts that rose above those roofs.

    “Guy… You’ve fought with me through countless battles…You know I have no love for the Reich as it stands today but still I remain German to the core. I cannot and will not have Germans fight against German to satisfy my pride or that of the Prinz… I had hoped to gather enough strength that Heinrich would have had to parley with us but I think it will a dream, for now at least… We must run, Guy…”

    “Run ? But… “

    “Yes, flee… It is the only way to avoid spilling German blood…” Lothar walked back in and went to a side table where a map of northern Italy was spread. Pointing here and there, he went on “We can’t go west to Marseille, Leopold’s army could cut us off… Same goes for the east: if Leopold didn’t catch us, I’m sure those money-grubbing Venetians would give us a very warm welcome: atop a pyre. As to the north, it would be walking into the lion’s jaw. Only the south remains open to us...” Lothar said his gaze turning towards the distant sea.

    Guy followed his lord’s gaze. “The sea ? But we do not own a fleet, my Lord.”

    “Yes, but those coffers out there in the yard should easily buy us passage to Corsica or back to Marseille. See if you can arrange that and quickly: Leopold is hot on our trail… Also, send for the captains and a runner: I have orders to give.”

    “Yes, my Lord, I’ll see what I can do.” Guy bowed and quickly withdrew.

    Watching his second go, Lothar then turned to the window and walked back out on the balcony. Out of frustration, he then suddenly threw his glass to the cobbled street below… A dark red patch spread on the street, too much reminiscent of a blood stain.

    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 05-10-2011 at 13:24.
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    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default The Prinz and the Provencal

    Chapter Three: The Genoan Trap

    Part Two

    It was almost nightfall when the Prinz' exhausted army crested the final rise and looked down upon the city of Genoa, wherein the traitor Lothar Zirn was hidden.

    Agents among the Genoese had informed Leopold that the Count planned an escape by sea, so the army of Osterreich quickly circled the city and deployed between it and the port, in order to cut off the escape path and confound Zirn's efforts to flee.

    In short order the camp was set and the Prinz rode out to the plain to observe the city as it prepared for bed. The setting sun behind him, he could see the torches being lit along the city wall and observed the gates being closed for the night.

    Soon enough a delegation from the city council arrived at the Prinz' camp, eager to assure him of their loyalty to Kaiser, Reich and Prinz but equally unwilling to use what little garrison they had within the walls to forcibly eject the traitor.

    The Prinz, sensitive to their plight, released them from that obligation, safe in the knowledge that with the final rat run blocked, Zirn would have to come to him.

    Soon enough he would catch the Lion.
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 05-12-2011 at 04:27.
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    Default The Prinz and the Provencal

    Chapter Four: The Surrender (co-authored by _Tristan_ and phonicsmonkey)
    Part One: The Exchange of Letters


    Prinz Leopold,

    I know your father the Kaiser and yourself consider me a traitor to the Reich for not having sworn the oath your father demanded of me.

    Though traitor I may be, I am nonetheless honourable and never have I done anything that could put the Reich in danger. I may even say in my defense that a small part of your success against the Milanese may have come from the constant pressure I applied to their western and southern fronts.

    I still cannot swear that oath as it is worded for I cannot serve a man I disrespect, I cannot swear to serve your father faithfully. This man has put the whole Reich and the whole German people at risk twice. Once in refusing to parly with Magnus von Saxony and those that sided with him, negotiating an honourable end to the rebellion. The death of my friend Magnus remains shouded in shadows but I cannot erase from my mind the idea that your father played a part in it.

    The Kaiser failed the Reich a second time by leaving its helm while the ship was in the worst storm it had ever face, with waves striking it from all directions... How many German lives could have been saved, how many electors would still be among us if your father had deigned tp play his role of leadership rather than go gallivanting God knows where ?

    And you'd expect me to swear an oath of allegiance to such a man ? This is something I cannot do.

    Still, keeping true to my ideals, I cannot bear to have German blood shed by my fault.

    Thus, I propose to surrender myself to you unconditionally. Or almost... I would have my men spared. They fought valiantly by my side, for the Reich, if not for the Kaiser and deserve a better fate than the execution, prison or slavery that would normally await them. Allow them safe passage to Marseille, it is the only condition I'll put to my surrender.

    I stood defiant and I see now the errors of my conduct. I am prepared to pay for them.

    May God have mercy on the Reich,


    Lothar Zirn
    Count-Elector of Provence
    Count Zirn,

    Firstly let me acknowledge your prowess in your war against our common foe the Milanese. Indeed your mighty efforts paved the road for my own invasion and it is a great shame that we have found ourselves adversaries. However, I place the responsibility for that squarely on your shoulders, your having ignored my explicit warning and proceeded to loot the city of Milan in clear defiance of my wishes.

    As to my father, whatever his failures (and I do not dispute that he falls short of perfection as do we all), he is Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire and is deserving of the loyalty of his subjects and vassals. As his son and heir to the throne you would surely not expect me to believe any differently. A ruler of the Reich cannot tolerate disloyalty and it was specifically to avoid the civil strife we experienced in the past that the practice of swearing the Oath was implemented.

    Still, these are esoteric arguments relative to the situation we find ourselves in.

    I will accept your offer of surrender and treat you with the respect deserving of you as a noble of the Reich. You will deliver yourself into my personal custody immediately and bring with you the contents of your treasury, including the remains of the coin you looted from the Milanese capital.

    Your men will be spared. They will each be given the option of either being disarmed, disbanded and sent home to their wives and children, or serving in my army under my command.

    We will discuss your fate together in person when we are face to face.

    Yours,

    Prinz Leopold von Osterreich
    Prinz Leopold,

    Were you in your father's throne I would find the oath much more bearable to swear. Still I fear such an oath should not be sworn to a man but to a greater ideal... One should swear to serve the Reich or the German people, whoever leads it. For there are times when leaders are not worthy of their vassals' allegiance, while the people should always be served loyally.

    Still, I agree with you that this is not the time to be discussing politics.

    Let's to the matter at hand.

    My whole treasury (including the loot from the Milanese bankers' vaults) will be surrendered to you at the same time I'll submit to your justice.

    As to my men, they served me loyally through my campaigns and I fear they'll refuse to serve under your orders. In the same vein, I fear you'd be unable to trust them fully and more willing to sacrifice them than any other regiment of your force.

    I do not know what fate will be dealt to my beloved city of Marseille nor who will become its master but I think it deserves to be properly defended, being so far from the main body of the Reich. Hence, I must insist upon your agreement to return every single one of my men to Marseille to help defend it.

    I can pledge these men will not again rise against the Kaiser nor against the Reich but will fight its enemies as they did in the past.

    This is the only condition to my surrender. Surely you can grant this small favour to your defeated enemy.

    We will meet soon in person and you'll then be able to decide my fate.

    Lothar Zirn,
    Count-Elector of Provence
    Count Zirn

    Very well, if you would have it that way I shall allow your small force to return to Marseille.

    Upon your surrender we will discuss your fate and the fate of your city. The fate of your men will flow directly from that.

    Yours,

    The Prinz
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    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default The Prinz and the Provencal

    Chapter Four: The Surrender (co-authored by _Tristan_ and phonicsmonkey)

    Part Two: Into the Lion's Den

    Lothar had read and re-read the last missive from the Prinz. There was nothing to it. He’d have to trust the man.

    He stood upon the quay watching the ships slowing making headway out to sea leaving the Port of Genoa behind, carrying Guy and the men that had served under him back to Marseille.

    Guy had begged to be allowed to come with Lothar but not knowing what fate might befell him, Lothar had chosen to go alone. In time, Guy would understand and maybe forgive him.

    All available ships from Genoa had been commissioned by Lothar, thus effectively putting his men out of the Prinz’s reach. The fleet would remain in sight of the coast for a few days. Then, Guy had been left with instructions from Lothar on what to do.

    The city council had provided him with wagons and guards for his treasury, waiting behind him upon the quay. Strong had been the temptation to have the coffers loaded onto the ships but honor had won over greed and they remained upon the quays.

    Turning away from the departing ships, Lothar mounted his warhorse and with a signal to the Genoan captain of the guards, he set out towards the Prinz’ camp.

    Though they had come to Genoa in a rush, force-marched by the Prinz’ will, the men had erected an orderly camp. As he approached, Lothar felt the alertness of the Prinz’s men and recognized it as the same willingness to serve a worthy master as that of his men. He knew then that had it come to a fight, both sides would certainly have taken heavy losses, leaving a gaping wound in the Reich’s southern flank.

    An Austrian captain came up to Lothar, who signaled the wagons to a halt.
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    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default The Prinz and the Provencal

    Chapter Four: The Fate of Lothar Zirn (co-authored by _Tristan_ and phonicsmonkey)

    Captain Wasserstein of the Ducal Guard of Osterreich swallowed and nervously approached the captured Lion of Provence. Seeing that Zirn was unarmed, he motioned for his men to surround the Count's horse. Another group of knights took possession of the oxcart and led it away to safety.

    The horse bearing Lothar Zirn was led by the muzzle through the camp. Onlookers gathered and stared. The general feeling was one of relief that the battle had been avoided and their long and hard pursuit of the Count was finally over.

    At the Prinz' tent, a black velvet affair with gold trim and bearing the Imperial double-eagle, Wasserstein halted the steed and Zirn dismounted.

    Lothar proffered his wrists, expecting them to be bound, but the Captain shook his head and simply bade he enter the tent.

    Inside he found the Prinz, seated in a comfortable chair and with a corresponding seat left empty beside him for the Count.

    "Please," said the Prinz, "be seated."

    Lothar took a seat and sat in silence, waiting for the Prinz to make the first move. Leopold brushed his blonde locks back from his face impatiently and fixed the Count with a firm gaze.

    "So, what are we to do with you now? By rights I should have you executed for treason, but it does not sit well with me to slay a noble of the Reich, whatever his crimes. But I cannot simply let you go free to cause further trouble and continue to refuse allegiance to the Kaiser.

    However, we are in need of good men and Provence is in need of defence from our enemies. With the settlement of the Milanese gold my own personal interests are now served.

    I should be willing to let you go if I could be assured of your loyalty.

    So I ask you one final time. Lothar Zirn, Count of Provence, will you swear the Imperial Oath and serve my father the Kaiser as a loyal subject?"

    Lothar considered the Prinz' proposal, somewhat surprised by the leniency shown by the man who had vowed to see him dead in the aftermath of the fall of Milan.

    "Prinz, you drive too hard a bargain... I was banned from the Diet for refusing to swear the oath to your father... I haven't changed my mind nor has he proven that I was any less wrong in thinking him unworthy of the title. I could swear that oath and plot in the background for your father's downfall but I value ideals of honor, truth and service to my country if not to its ruler. So, I would be willing to swear an oath to the Reich. I had my lawyers prepare a piece of legislation in that regard but my exile forbade I proposed it in the Diet."

    Lothar's head hung low as he finished his tirade. In an almost inaudible murmur, he went on.

    "So, I fear, my Lord, you'll have to make a martyr out of me... For believe me, if I were to die, I'm no so vain as to think I'd leave more than a footnote in history... But are you willing to take the risk I die an example, a beacon to guide those that would defy your father's rule... The Reich could very well be taken back to those years of Saxony's rebellion, of brothers fighting brothers, Duchies pitted against duchies... It could spell the end of the Reich... Something I do not wish..."

    The Prinz waited a long moment before responding. The air between the two men seemed thick with tension.

    "I will not slay you Lothar Zirn. You shall not be a martyr to dissidents and the dissaffected. Nay.

    Instead I shall imprison you. You will return with me to Wien where you will spend the rest of your natural life in seclusion. You will be comfortable enough but you will have no contact or communication with the outside world. None shall speak with Lothar Zirn and after a time none shall speak of Lothar Zirn.

    This shall be your punishment, until such a time that I feel I am able to trust you."

    And with that Prinz Leopold left the tent, leaving the Count of Provence alone with his thoughts.
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 05-13-2011 at 02:44.
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