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Thread: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

  1. #1
    Strategist and Storyteller Member Myth's Avatar
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    Default Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    It was raining again, but rain was much more tolerable than snow. The King rode on his muscly, brown destrier, clad in plate and mail and with the royal coat of arms across his tabard. There was not much conversation going on between his loyal retinue and the nobility that followed him, in fact the drumming of raindrops across steel shoulder pads and vambraces was by far the most prolific sound to be heard. The horses bore the weather and their amroured riders stoically, only the occasional whinnying or snorting could be heard. The scenery was typically rural, with a muddy roadway leading trough sloped fields littered with patches of snow. Soon the cold rain would turn back to snow and the mud would freeze over, but the King was hoping to be besides a warm fireplace at that point.

    King Pozsony was a handsome man, or so his wife would tell him, and even at the advanced age of thirty eight his robust stature and great health made him into a fierce warrior when needed. He towered over the other riders by at least half a head, and his armour gleamed with silver and gold etched along the edge of the collar. Deep inside, the King felt himself to be more of a scholar than a leader of soldiers, however he had been cunning enough to recognize Hungary's need for a strong military commander. Such were the times, that learned men scarcely became Kings, and if they happened to chance upon the crown, they soon had to learn the crafts of war or find themselves short of a head or a kingdom. Often both.

    "What is Adelhaid doing right now?" he found himself thinking of his sister as Varad's walls appeared on the horizon. She was six years his elder and if not for her remarkable beauty she would have been sent to a nunnery long ago. She was at Bordeaux, on the other side of the world, speaking with the French on some minor matters the King himself had no time to discuss.

    Maria, his wife, found less space in the King's thoughts. She had been instructed to go to Sofia, despite the province being occupied still by Orthodox Romans and Bulgarians. It was safer than the border cities and Constantinople had long been a den of vipers, deadlier than the plague itself. Before King Pozsony asserted his rule over the city it was as safe as keeping a rabid dog as a pet.

    They passed by some serfs who were pushing an ox cart loaded with firewood, which had sank quite severely in the unpleasant mud, and threatened to tip over and spill the logs and sticks that filled it's entirety. The commoners cursed in some local mongrel tongue and their dirt covered faces and damp clothes made them seem wretched. The King signalled two of his knights to dismount and give them assistance. He would have to send them wine later tonight, least they mumbled curses under their breath fora weak - such things were best avoided when the absolute loyalty of his men was paramount to his success. They failed to understand that it was the serfs who worked the land and toiled to provide food, cloth and taxes. Not a single sword could be forged without someone working for it's price and a smith to craft it. And knights were neither smiths nor working men, though their service was unquestionably vital to the survival of Hungary and indeed any kingdom. He would need every mounted warrior of able body and appropriate age, if he was to push back these mongrels that called themselves Romans.

    The Golden Bull had just passed, barely at that, but such was the price of peace. The King had no desire to slaughter his kinsmen and vassals, nor did he wish to vanquish families who had lineages ranging back to the time of Árpád and his Magyars. Still, while they had been bickering and squabbling over rights and taxes, Hungary had grown weak. Had it not been much weaker and divided by constant civil war and treachery, the Eastern Roman Empire would have stomped his nation under a steel boot, much the same as they had done with the Bulgarians.

    Now, Hungary stood with weakened defenses, a sorry lot of impoverished Barons, with a horde of greedy Venetians in the east waiting to strike and an elite force of Romans reportedly prowling around Constantinople. Peace was tenuous at best, and only a fool trusted his neighbors. If said neighbors were the Republic of Venice and the so-called Eastern Roman Empire, then suspicion became as mandatory as breathing.

    The wild, unwashed Cumans to the North poached and poked around Hungary's borders, and they too had to be taught a lesson. So many problems and so little ways to solve them, bar the extinguishing of yet more Hungarian lives. Mika had been an eager lad and a decent general. The Kng's hopes largely lied with him, but now he had to prepare for the meeting with the other nobles. "First among equals" he reminded himself. He still held absolute power, but such an attitude would win them to his side. He needed someone on his side besides one twenty eight year old general.

    The horses hooves clattered as the riders went trough the gate and onto the slightly crooked cobblestone path that was leading towards the inner keep and the meeting hall. The rain made the locals miserable and they regarded the mail clad and richly dressed Hungarian nobles with suspicion and fear behind locks of drenched hair. "They need hope and stability, a means to survive the winter, sow in spring, reap in summer and marry their children in the autumn. I give them taxes, sieges and levies. And my blue eyes, as that is all I have left."

    The serfs would have to bear it, just as everyone else did. The King had suffered so much ill fate, after all. It was time to change Hungary's fate however, and the first step was securing the earnest allegiance of proud and powerful men, whom only recently had raised armies against him.
    Last edited by Myth; 01-12-2012 at 13:51.
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  2. #2
    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    Sunlight danced on the rippling surface of the great lake as he guided the magnificent horse along its banks, its thick black mane bunched in his fists, his bare heels firmly pressed against its hot flanks, feeling the immense and powerful muscles pulse and surge as they galloped together in the orange light of the morning.

    As they reached the crest of a bank they wheeled around and set off at an impossible gallop into the broad, flat, neverending steppe, aiming at the rising sun which cast its golden light upon the myriad seed heads of the waist-high grass through which they rode.

    It seemed they would run together forever without tiring, horse and rider combined in a single spirit of flight, their hot breath merging, utterly at one with their steppe home and as they flew across the plain they seemed to converge and transmute into the form of an arrow in flight - irresistable, unstoppable and almighty.


    Junior King Bokeny awoke with a start on the freezing cold flagstones of his chamber, his drool pooled before him on the dark granite and his vision blurred. Rising from the floor he experienced a blinding pain in his injured hip and he cursed loudly and without restraint, startling the chamber wench and sending her fleeing from the room with a giggle.

    Damn that saddlebacked pony and its fear of snakes, the potbellied nag had thrown him into a bramble and set off at a trot across a pitted field, breaking its leg in the process and leaving him without a mount. No wonder he was dreaming about horses...

    He relieved himself into the chamber pot and then staggered with it to the window. The cold grey light barely pierced the leaden clouds overhead and as he opened the pane he felt a bitter chill from the air. Down the slope and laid out before him was the city of Zagreb, his home for the past decade and the seat of his County. It was a grim outlook, the few stone buildings huddled together around a dung-piled central square, surrounded by near-slums in which the populace struggled to eke out a meagre existence.

    By God he hated this place. Curse his father for sending him here and curse the Venetians who held the only part of Croatia worth having, the beautiful Dalmation coast. Why could he not be Count of Dubrovnic instead, that pearl of a city on the glittering bay with all the fruits of the sea to dine on and a view almost to Italy on a clear day?

    He cleared his throat and spat into the chamber pot. Looking directly down into the courtyard he saw an old peasant lady gathering straw in a bundle. Waiting for her to pass beneath him he emptied the chamber pot upon her head and with a grim satisfaction closed the window and retired to his chamber.
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 01-22-2012 at 06:51.
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    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    Bokeny studied the lined face of the old Cuman who stood before him in his tapestry room. He turned to Joszef of Carniola, his Master-at-Arms.

    "This is my new Master of Horse?"

    Joszef nodded.

    "If it please you m'lord."

    Bokeny grunted and studied the old man again before speaking to him.

    "Sir, you come highly recommended as a buyer and trainer of horses. Are you also able to train cavalrymen?"

    The old Cuman cleared his throat and began to speak in broken Latin.

    "I...to fight with horse...men of strong.."

    Bokeny waved his hand impatiently.

    "Do you know our Magyar tongue? No-one prefers to speak this godawful Italian gabble except the King."

    The old man looked relieved.

    "I do great lord, it is familiar to me. I have spent my life training men to fight from horseback, in the steppe tradition with bow and lance, and in the Frankish style, with plate armour, sword and lance. It would be a great honour to me to organise your cavalry in this way."

    He bowed his head once more. Bokeny turned to Jozsef once more.

    "Give this man full access to the stables and let him work with the cavalry ahead of our battle with the rebel dog Bonifacio. By God I will transform these forces into a mobile army which can properly defend our borders. For too long we have stood in lines like idiots with spear and shield waiting for the melee. Let our enemies fear our thundering hooves as they once were terrified by great Arpad and his legendary Magyar! And if this man fails me or shows any sign of treason he will hang from the gibbet like his predecessor, that Venetian clown who sat me atop the potbellied nag that threw me."

    He rose and began to leave but was interrupted by a subtle noise from the Cuman. Turning back, he waited as the man spoke once more.

    "My liege, I have a gift for you. It is in the stables."

    Taken aback, Bokeny nodded before asking

    "What is your name sir?"

    "I am named Yurii my lord.....but my countrymen know me as the Wolf."

    Bokeny could only grin.
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 01-23-2012 at 06:31.
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    Wandering Metsuke Senior Member Zim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

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    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    Junior King Bokeny sat atop his magnificent black charger and surveyed the bloodied battlefield.

    The horse had been a gift from the Cuman Yuri, his new Master of Horse. Bokeny remembered his first sight of the beast, trembling and quivering in the stable with the barely suppressed rage of a noble spirit fettered by lesser beings. The stablehands and ostlers kept their distance, surveying the black steed with fear and suspicion, the signs of disrespectful too-close contact visible on some in the form of bite and hoof marks. It was, literally, the horse of his dreams and at the sight of it he felt once more the pull on his heart, the yearning and exhilaration of horse and rider united in unstoppable flight across the endless steppe.

    At a signal from the man known as the Wolf he had approached the horse slowly but without fear, sensing in the great steed's eyes and tentative snicker the recognition of an equal.

    The Wolf had seen the same. "He already knows his master my Lord. Truly this is a mount fit for a King."

    Bokeny had laughed, without breaking eye contact with the beast as he approached. "Well, he'll have to make do with me."

    Closing the gap between them he held the great beast's head and as it pulled away, skittish and nervous, he spoke to it in a calm voice, telling it they would be together now and he would let no harm come to it. The horse thus calmed, he quickly got astride it and spurred it, bareback, into the yard.

    Now, having ridden the beast into battle against the rebel army led by the Venetian cur Bonifacio, he felt a kinship between them that would only be broken by death. Like his ancient steppe ancestors and like his Cuman vassal, he was wedded to his horse and felt comfortable only in the saddle.

    He turned to the man known as the Wolf. "How did our cavalry fare sir? Be warned, I wish to hear the truth, not the honeyed pleasantries a vassal will use to flatter his master's ear."

    The old Cuman paused a long moment, looking out down the hillside to the plain below where the fighting had taken place.

    "They died too much my Lord. In the moment of decision they tarried in the melee and lost the advantage of movement. They forgot my lessons and sought to fight their enemies face to face. They should be as the wind, insubstantial and striking at once from different directions, wheeling and dipping as a bird in flight. These sons of Venetian Merchants, the Cavalry Militia, likely they will never truly learn this and we will always lose more of them than we should. The Magyar with their bows fared better. At times I saw their steppe blood rise in them as they feignted and withdrew, firing as they fled. They were too few this day but soon we shall have more of them."

    Bokeny scowled, frustrated at the lack of progress shown by his men. "Well, if the King has his way we shall have plenty more practice."

    Yuri grinned a lupine grin. "Aye, indeed lord, indeed."
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 02-12-2012 at 23:49.
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    Norse Uikikr Member Mithridate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Too early, moved bellow the very long very nice read :)
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 02-12-2012 at 23:48.

  7. #7
    The Count of Bohemia Senior Member Cecil XIX's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    The Relief of Constantinople

    It was thundering, but there was not a cloud in the sky.

    The King of Hungary had brought a mighty host to relieve the siege of Constantinople. Now, at long last, they had arrived within sight of the great city's walls.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    As King Pozsony paused to survey the city, he had to remind himself that he was seeing it for the first time. Waiting for the infantry to catch up, he decided to confer with his old advisor, Zsigmond.

    A precocious youth when Pozsony was born, Zsigmond had been given the honor of looking after the boy when the King was but a child. With his father so often busy, Zsigmond was responsible for a great deal of the Pozsony's upbringing, resulting in a strong bond. Now in old age, Zsigmond's eyes still held a gleam of idealism from his youth. Pozsony held him in great respect, which he repaid by always showing him the respect befitting his statation, regardless of their close relationship.

    "Tell me your thoughts, Zsigmond."

    His mentor nodded.

    "We must be cautious, your highness. The garrison will have a hard time dealing with the quality and quantity of the Roman army. Of the army we are leading in relief, the bulk of our strength lies in our mounted archers. But every advantage that those have will be heavily reduced if they are forced to fight inside the city. We must move swiftly and attack the besiegers while they are still outside the walls."

    "Things are not so bad as they seem." Replied the King. "Our horsemen can quickly move and strike the bulk of the enemy force while they are waiting for the gate to open. Furthermore-"

    A sudden burst of commotion caught the king's attention, as a rider was moving swiftly upon them. Obviously from the garrison, in short time his message had been relayed to the king through one of his attendants.

    "Reporting! The Duke of Nicaea has begun his assualt on the northern walls!"
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    "Furthermore," the King continued as he signaled for the cavalry to ride, "Fighting outside walls is what we do best! Tell our infantry to hold the City Square. Magyars, we ride!"

    Again with a thunderous roar, the Hungarian host moved in a clockwise direction to meet the Romans. It was not long before they arrived, and soon the arrows were let loose.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    An ill-disciplined unit of Stratiotae, units of which the bulk of the enemy army was composed of, moved off in an attempt to intercept them. However, they moved slowly and without deliberation, apparently thinking they had time to manuever into an ideal position.

    They didn't.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    As the Romans began to feel the sting of arrows, the King paused to observe the gate. By now the ram had indeed reached it, and was threatening to break through it and offer the Romans the cloistered shelter of city streets. Quickly, the company of mercenary knights that had been hired for the campaign were order to make best speed towards the ram, and destroy it. They moved quickly, and were soon there.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    But it was not soon enough, as with a sickening thud the doors burst open seconds before they knights could make contact with the enemy.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    They were now stuck in a bitter melee, as the Roman horse rode forth like a flood.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The King cursed silently to himself. "Right men, your orders! Advance! Let loose on the enemy, keep the pressure up! Remember, don't-"

    "Your highness, look out!"

    Pozsony was about to forcefully remind this bodyguard what happens when you interrupt a king in the middle of a battlefield, when suddenly he noticed an enemy soldier enter his field of vision from the right. Wheeling horse around, he realized an enemy regiment had decided to climb back down the walls in the hopes of coming to grips with him! Already they had come under fire from the mounted archers.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Fortunately they had become strung out, with some close and some far away, making it easy to block them. Unfortunately, no sooner had this issue been dealt with then another unit of Stratiotae, enduring a barrage of arrow fire, broke through to attack the King and his guard.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Although they lacked the numbers and skill to defeat Pozsony's handpicked men, by the time they had been dispatched the King realized that his counterpart for the battle, the Lord of Nicaea, had come forth and was attempting to come to grips with the cavalry archers.

    However, his inexperienced showed. Pozsony expertly charged the Byzantine's flank, seperating him from half of his bodyguard.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The confusion caused by the attack allowed the King to easily maneuver himself behind the Strategos.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    But just in time, the remainder of the Roman guard returned and were able to sprint the Duke away to safety. Still, King Pozsony would not relent. The two groups of horsemen danced around for a time, until the Hungarians were once again able to force a confrontation. Pozsony once gain came to grips with his foe, eyeing his armor for a spot that would be weak to the thrust.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    He found it.

    With their general dead, the King hoped that the Byzantines would lose the stomach for further fighting. Indeed, as he turned to regard the northern gate into the city for the first time in what felt like quite a while, he couldn't see anymore fighting. He just saw that there were Roman infantry exiting the city.

    Heading directly for him, in good formation.

    Without further ado, the King gave the order to charge.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    But these were not horsemen. They were spearmen, trained specifically to handle the challenge that the King presented. Recognizing that the impact of the charge was insufficient, the King called on his bodyguards to move back some ways. After gaining some distance from the enemy, he rendezvoused with Zsigmond's hungarians nobles.

    "I don't see the rest of the army. Where are they?" the King asked.

    "They must have been lured inside the walls by the enemy. Your highness, the enemy seems to be shifting their attention away from the city towards yourself."

    These words stopped Pozsony cold. If the rest of army entered through the north gate, and now Roman infantry were marching out... Looking around, there were only a few dozen men with him. It took him perhaps a bit too long to regain his composure.

    "Do you think they have taken the city?" he questioned.

    "Regardless, it's too dangerous to try to force our way in through here."

    The king nodded.

    "All right. Let's see what the situation is like at the west gate. We ride, men!"

    What remained of the Hungarian host began moving back to the west gate, hoping to find more Hungarians, but it was not long before a cry arose in the back.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Another unit of Stratiotae was now in pursuit, and they were gaining on Zsigmond's nobles. Being unable to allow a threat to the rear to persist, the King gave the order to turn 'round. The Nobles, being the target, were forced to meet the charge head on while the King's guards moved to hit the enemy on their left flank.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Their advantage was not as strong this time around, but the Hungarians eventually triumphed and resumed their ride towards the west gate. But the extra time spent made it seem even less likely that they would receive good news.

    Eventually they arrived at the west gate, only to be met with the smattering of arrow fire. As they began moving away from the gate to get to a safe distance, Zsigmond rode up to Pozsony.

    "Your highness, the enemy may have a substantial force of cavalry remaining. We can no longer afford to linger here."

    The King nodded, and Zsigmond gave the order to continue riding, as they began making their way back to Bulgaria. They could already hear the sound of the gate being opened behind them.

    It was thundering, but there was not a cloud in the sky.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  8. #8
    Norse Uikikr Member Mithridate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    Bokony stirrs his cup of watered wine, sitting in the small hall of the captured fort just outside the Transylvanian border. Around him his men where feasting and celebrating whilst the priests held mess outside for the many fallen. Waving over his cupbearer, he inclined his head with a sigh and rubbed is nose. Thinking back on the past few weeks of hard fighting and relentless marching.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Early summer 1227, outskirts of Brasov by the mighty Abby of Brasov.

    The cuman army consisted of only infantry part from the bodyguard itself, their Cavalry having withdrawn from the siege the season before to Baia, or as other reports claimed, the passes to Bessarabia. The joint army of Vata and Bokony held firm with the men of Bokony making the front ranks. Boskovs garrison joined the battle from the East in a flanking move, although only the frenzied Crusaders and Bokony himself had truly joined the battle.

    3000 Hungarians against 1500 well armed Cumans, the battle was long and fierce with Maggayar harraying the flanks while Bokony and Vata charged time and time again. Once the hungarian Vanguard of Slavs clashed Vata had been locked in melee with Mudjuk himself whom attempted to charge the lightly armored infantry.

    "The valiant fool saved many of my men that day" Bokony murmured. Like a man posessed Vata had cut throughout the very elite Bekh Druzna, flanking a force of Kosogi chasing Magayyar. When Mudjuk charged the Slavs, he had placed himself in the middle taking the blunt of it. Bokony withdrawing after having charged the Khagan foot observed with awe how the man despite being severely wounded from Khagan arrows and sword blows, struck down the enemy warlord.

    When the battle cleared, only four men of Vatas bodyguard remained standing. Covered in blood they guarded his unmoving body on the field. Mudjuks bodyguard had fought on, outnumbering Vata 3 to 1, yet the old man had refused to die.

    231 Hungarians had lost their lives that day whilst well over 1000 Cumans lay dead. No prisoners where taken as the Hungarians went into a frenzy once Vata fell wounded. Only a few days after the battle, Vata joined the march up the passes along with the magayyar.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "How is he doing?" Bokony asked. "Not well my lord, his wounds are healing slowly but his state is forever uncertain. The march have been hard on him and he remains unhealthy." Once again rubbing his nose, Bokony waves him away.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Mid summer, 1227
    After a hard march with poor weather 1000 Cuman and Bulgarian brigands blocked the Hungarian path. Taking positions on a large hill reinforced by the previous battles survivors. With Vata still recovering from wounds, Bokony had insisted on being the one to lead the charge. Vata had relented but still commanded the maggayar and flanking operation.

    The battle was short but bloody, Bokony was unhorsed as the charge connected. His horse pierced by arrows and spears alike, Around him Slavs fought like the hungarian elite troops and Maggayyar once again left scores of dead. The enemy broke even before Vata could make his charge, a knot of bulgarians fighting to the death being the last to fall. Not a single man opposing Hungary remained standing that day. 128 of our brave men where buried on the hilltop, most of witch fell by cowardly arrows.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Currently Bokony was in charge of the Armies, resupplying and preparing for the possible assault on Baia. Despite the juviliant mood in the hall the lord was brooding, dark thoughts and memories clouding his mind. Particularly one event from whom the assailant escaped punishment by untimely dying in the act. "Curse that fool for starting the war with the ERE! If not for him I would have thousands more men with me, perhaps the king himself..." he burst out. Feeling slightly lightheaded despite watering the wine. In rage he threw his goblet in the wall with a curse, causing the nearby minor lords to pause their conversation while the rest pretending not to notice as Bokony left the hall. The knowledge that he would lose half the men or more if he marched did not improve his temper as he ascended the stairs.

    A stray thought struck him as he entered his chamber that he should ask Bokeny for a new horse, a proper one. The wretched wolf of his was supposedly one of the finest regarding such things.

    The day after the command was given that the troops would be ready to march for Baia on the marrow and word be sent to the king.
    Last edited by Mithridate; 02-12-2012 at 10:47.

  9. #9
    Mmmm, Antares is tasty! Senior Member Alien Attack Champion Nightbringer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

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    I have been really enjoying reading this stuff, awesome posts guys! Keep up the good work!
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 02-12-2012 at 23:48.
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    Norse Uikikr Member Mithridate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    (Bug forced me to replay the battle so its a little different once the keep was breached, since they only defended the walls with 30 archer militia the second time i tied the battles together -.- )

    Double post due to having trouble with the pics, sorry
    Last edited by Mithridate; 02-16-2012 at 05:21.

  11. #11
    Norse Uikikr Member Mithridate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    It was a cold day, fresh snow light snowfall making the landscape shine around Baia as the army drew up at the front gates. The cumans clearly not fearing our men knowing we only had two pesky catapults, shouting insults from the walls. In eerie silence the men formed ranks, grimly awaiting to enter fierce battle.


    A flag-bearer waves a flag being quickly mirrored by another and as one, the army begins to bash their shields while changing formations unit after unit. A rhythmic thunder silencing even the defenders behind their walls, more men move out from the keep to observe the commotion. Only a few Cumans remains to guard the Eastern gatehouse, as the army chouts and the slavs begin a feigned attack the hidden catapults are unveiled from their hiding. Having been positioned in the dark they where just outside the iron gates, destroying the gate with a rapid barrage allowing the Bokony lead Vata with his hidden reinforcements in a charge through. Only thew warlord Ernak managed to get in position to meet the charge. Outmatched and outnumbered where quickly overwhelmed, Ernak being one of the first to fall.


    His bravery proved to have bern in vain as the unit of Croat axemen having rushed to his aid, leaderless quickly fell victim to a reformed charge to their flank. Decimated and seeing Hungarian militia pour through the gate they soon ran for their lives. When the Eastern gate fell the archers manning the Main gate tried to withdraw, Vata would have none of it cut them down to the last as they ran for the keep while Bokony opened the gates for the main force.


    Leaderless, the cumans in the keep and could only watch with most of their bowmen dead or captured as Bokony lead the orderly march into the keep. His men quickly lined up as the catapults brought up by Vatas men started the barrage on the inner gates. Men cheered as Bokony raced across the walls shouting challenges and demanding the defenders surrender, seeing as the only response was arrows and the occasional rock he eventually returned to his now leering troops.


    When the gates fell, Boskony was the very first through, closely followed by the pavise spearmen whom had yet to prove themselves. Showing remarkable cohesion and skill the well drilled spearmen physically pushed the cumans back forming a line allowing for the militia in followed by the crusaders, slavs, magayyar and eventually light infantry.


    Well inside crossbowmen moved up on the walls and stared to rain death down on the desperate defenders while militia pushed and flanked the right, despite fighting fiercely the yard was soon covered in Cuman dead and once only a tenth remained they threw down their arms in surrender resulting in a clear victory for Hungary.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Bokony was clearly not pleased and looked up from the parchment.
    "Enough, i tire of this. It is sufficient to notify the King and realm that Baia is taken, that our forces are still in good shape and ready if needed. You can recite the battle in your own time and not in royal dispatches."

    "But my lord, the people will want to..." Bokony slams his fist on the table making the scribe to drop the quill causing a blob of ink on the parchment.
    "Then make a second letter for display, You where told to prepare a message and not a recietment! The King needs to know about the situation and our status, now write what i tell you or i shall have your hand!"

    The scribe pales and quickly draws up a new parchment, writing down the precise words of the lord:
    "Baia taken, the enemy crushed and we have sustained minor losses.

    "We deployed 2555 men, precisely 300 lost and 1000 are ready to march.
    The enemy was accounted to 1737 out of whom roughly 1600 will never rise again.
    The survivors have been pardoned and set free, they will not oppose us again and some have joined my service."

    "Vata will depart immediately and we request permission to move on the Byzantines, I will join any endeavor the coming year when i have bolstered my forces. I am greatly concerned as the main cuman forces, the Druzhina and other cavalry units had left before our assault leaving mostly peasants and Bosnians behind. Demeter must be warned for they may be upon him in the coming season. Should he be caught in the open i fear he will be overwhelmed as they may be up to a thousand crack troops."

    observing the scribe hastily finish Bokony continues:
    "Now, copy that message properly and send it to Pozsony, then make another for the court."
    Last edited by Mithridate; 02-17-2012 at 00:31.

  12. #12
    Norse Uikikr Member Mithridate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    Baia, 1228 AD.

    It was a grim afternoon when the King arrived. The sting of defeat from Constantinople still lingered, as it would until Pozsony could return to Varad and oversea the raising of a new army. But for now, there were other matters of state to attend to. Lord Bokony's proposal had been a welcome surprise, and he had decided to give special attention to the matter.

    Hence his visit.

    The King's party, still only a couple dozen, approached the gates of the fortess after having verified it's ownership. After exchanged minor pleasentries with the noble assigned to escort him through the castle, he was led to central keep where Lord Bokony was waiting.

    The hall was large and nearly void of people, a throne arranged on the farther wall flanked by two large Bokony banners on a small pedestal with tables arranged in an ü shape bellow it. Along its outlines row after row of tables and benches lined the walls, making room for a large assembly to feast. A few torches where lit along the walls but the large, long brazier in the center of the hall held only ashes.

    Two servants where hurrying to replace the old Cuman banner between Bokonys above the throne, as the King entered the hall.

    "Ah, your majesty! My apologies for not arranging a suitable reception but i did not expect you so soon, we have had no words from the south in some time... you must have outrun any messengers." Rising from a small table bench with a small group of minor lords he marched up to the king waiting by the entrance and bowed stiffly.

    "Bessarabia have been secured and is firmly in our hands, law and order rules the land and i expect the first revenues to be collected within the season. There are rumors still however of Cumans lingering these lands so i advise caution, a crack force of Druzhina and Magayar apparently but nothing that could stop us from marching south."

    The King spoke calmly, his voice betraying no emotion.

    "Indeed, I am returning to Varad with all haste. The Byzantines have shown their worth, and have retaken Constantinople. It will be necessary to raise a new army before Hungary can retake the offense. In the meantime, I have decided that this second front must be closed before all attention is turned south. Tell me Bokony, can you finish off the Cumans?"

    Bokony raises an eyebrow

    "Of course, they shall be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly." Waving over a servant to deliver the orders for an immediate departure north he continued
    "I would never have belived the Byzantines able to march united against us, yet alone in the same direction! Troublesome news indeed...

    "Now, about what we discussed. These are hard times with threats at every turn so i understand that there can be no grand ceremony but when time allows it it would be suitable, i believe. To hold any such things at our next call to council for all the nobles to attend. Meanwhile I shall serve you as I am able, should you see fit to entrust me with this new title and award.

    A servant comes up with two cups of wine for the king and lord, Bokony rubbed his nose and awaited the kings reply.

    With a moment's pause, the King took the wine and took a large swig.

    "Lord Bokony, you are hereby appointed as Lord of Bessarabia. You charged with the defense of these lands and the maintenance of law and order within them. In addition, you are appointed Master of the Treasury, and given the power to negotiate with foreign powers in the name of the King. I expect you to discharge these duties faithfully, and well."

    With a moment's pause, the King took the wine and took a large swig.

    "Lord Bokony, you are hereby appointed as Lord of Bessarabia. You charged with the defense of these lands and the maintenance of law and order within them. In addition, you are appointed Master of the Treasury, and given the power to negotiate with foreign powers in the name of the King. I expect you to discharge these duties faithfully, and well."

    Bokony smiled and emptied his own cup

    "I shall, messengers will be sent immediately and the Cuman remnants are to be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly. I have quarters prepared for you should you desire some rest, if not I'll provide you with fresh horses and an escort. Regardless it would be an honor if you stay for a few hours, food will be brought out but im afraid i have urgent matters to attend. With your permission, I'll take my leave.
    "Unfortunately, we have no time to spare and must leave immediately. Good fortune to you against the Cumans, Lord Bokony."

    With that, the King swiftly turned and left. There was much work to be done.

    "Certainly, my king" Bokony said with a bow and refilled his cup as he watched the king depart.
    Last edited by Mithridate; 03-11-2012 at 20:16.

  13. #13
    Norse Uikikr Member Mithridate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    It was an unusually warm morning, the fog heavy as Árpád climbed the moist walls of Halych. He had a talent for spying but this was something completely different, he focused his mind on his training from the Thieves guild in Brasov whilst ever climbing upwards. Above him a group of Lithuanian passed and as he squeezed inside an arrowslit, blessing the fog for its cover.
    http://oi44.tinypic.com/64faxv.jpg

    After some skulking he made it into the main chamber of the gatehouse and went to work with sabotaging the closing mechanism. Opening the gate was easy enough with its counterweights, keeping it like that would be hard all alone in a hostile castle. Fortunately though, the mechanism was all in iron so removing some sprints and the leavers would serve he reckoned. Just to make sure he barred the doors and prepare some pitch should the worst come to worst whilst securing a rope for a quick escape out the window, he had no intention to die out here after all.

    When the work was done, the wind had picked up outside and the fog had all but cleared. Outside voices could be heard, the barring of doors had surely drawn some attention and pelting on the door quickly ensued as he gave the signal to attack for the armies of Hungary outside.



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Bokony ordered the assault immediately and a third of the army set off at a run, the rest conserving their energy at a normal pace for the coming fighting.
    Bokony being first inside quickly noticed the lack of defenders and ordered the rest of the army to make haste, the cumans where positioned on the Eastern walls and there was a chance to reach the keep before they did. As the vanguard charged thorough, Bokony charged the amassing peasants and levy archers to buy time for his men.



    The Vanguard soon made contact with the enemy as they raced for the keep, the cuman captain Gendai threw himself and his Yasi upon the men of hungary as the garrison raced towards the keep behind him. More than half managed to get inside before a brave unit of militia managed to cut the rest off as Bokony himself cut down the Cuman leader.



    As he fell the remaining Yasi broke with the rest of the rabble still outside the keep, only the Bekh Druzhina stood their ground as a unit of Croat Axemen descended on them. Slowly cutting them into chunks and pieces, as Hungarian men flooded the still open gates.
    The boiling oil killed many...



    The battle turned from a trial of arms to a massacre as our men forced their way into the keep, arrows constantly hailing and the last of Bokonys bodyguards fell securing the gatehouse. The defenders made a desperate stand while a unit of khagan Druzhina emerged from hiding attempting to break us from behind. Valliant Vata however, having finally reached the melee charged their rear and drove them like an anvil against the Croat axemens waiting axes.






    The slaughter continued and once Vata joined the fray inside it was all but over, the yard was strewn with dead and dying and our crossbowmen rained death from the walls until only pockets of resistance remained, when the fire would most likely mean friendly casualties.



    Vatas men delivered quick death as they mercilessly cut down the defenders, the horses stumbling on the heaps of corpses.




    Bokony himself called for the surrender of the last dozen men, promising free passage or allowance to join his service. An exhausted roar of was all the answer he received, part from more bodies hitting the now red ground. Bokony could only watch in bewilderment as the very last Cuman shouted out his defiance in death, his frenzied shout turning into a gurgle as his lungs filled with blood.



    The tally:
    600 out of 2135 brave men of Hungary
    2257 Cumans, dead to the very last man.

    Halych has been cleansed
    Last edited by Mithridate; 03-02-2012 at 17:26.

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  14. #14
    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lords of the Danube: Story Thread

    Battle of Belgrade

    It was a bitterly cold winter's day, clear and bright as the pale sunshine danced on the ice-laden trees when the Junior King drew his army up on the hill overlooking the plain where the battle was to take place.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Having heard the awful news of the death of Mikan a Bogantradvany, slain even in his moment of victory as his forces seized the city of Belgrade from the accursed Byzantines, Bokeny had seen it as his duty, a matter of Hungarian honour, to ride to the city to defend it from Byzantine incursion.

    And incursion there soon was, as reliable as the movement of the sun across the sky, the army of some grecian cur by the name of Mikhail Tzourillas came sloping out of Macedonia with the all-too-obvious desire to recapture Belgrade.

    So here was an opportunity indeed for Bokeny - to avenge Mikan's death by making the Byzantines pay a blood toll. Mikan's family had not been friends to Bokeny and his father, siding instead with Mate and Pozsony in the long civil war. But they were Magyar, descended from the blood of those who rode out of the steppe alongside great Arpad and they scion of their line did not deserve to fall to an apostate greek's blade.

    An opportunity too to test his new combined force of infantry supplemented by mobile squads of horse-archers, trained and instructed by the one they called the Wolf. If all went to plan the swift bowmen would bleed the enemy almost dry before they came into contact with the spearline, making it possible to defeat the leaden-footed Byzantines with few losses.

    So it was that as the Greek forces came into view, marching across the snowy plain below, that Bokeny sent his horse archers to the high ground on their right flank, to rain down fire upon them and thin their numbers.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 






    The Greeks trudged on, over the bodies of their fallen comrades and into the spearwall, the Magyar's arrows still biting into their rear and down the enfilade from their flank. Their faces showed the unease and fear as they met the heavily armoured Pavise Spearmen in Bokeny's front line.

    At the rear of their formation Tzourillas and his bodyguard danced as close as they dared, shouting encouragement and threats to motivate their men into action.

    Blood began to run in rivulets through the snowy landscape and an eery quiet descended in which the wet thwack of blade on flesh could be heard to reverberate along the battle lines and the caw of carrion crows echoed in the stillness.

    Wearying of the wrestle, Tzourillas lost his patience and guided his cavalry to the flank where he charged headlong into the massed spear in an attempt to tip the balance and create a rout.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 





    He was soon surrounded and above his head flew great fiery rocks, propelled by Bokeny's catapults to wreak havoc among the Byzantine missile troops which lurked at the rear.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The Junior King, seeing his foe enmeshed in the melee and unable to escape, took the opportunity to charge his own bodyguard home, heading directly for Tzourillas. If the Byzantine lordling could be slain among his men, they would panic and flee and the day would be Hungary's!
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    The melee between the two groups of knights was brutal but with many of the Greeks cut down in the initial charge Bokeny and his men soon had the advantage and pressed it home ruthlessly until only Tzourillas and his squire remained fighting desperately for their lives.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Somehow the greek cur freed himself from the throng of Magyar and set off shrieking with panic across the plain, leaving his men to die at the hands of the bloodthirsty Magyar. Bokeny urged his men on in pursuit but they were tired from their butcher's work and could not catch the coward as he ran.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Still, it was a solid victory for the Magyar and Belgrade remained part of the Kingdom, likely for a long while as the Macedonian Byzantines would struggle to recover quickly from their losses.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 04-28-2012 at 09:00.
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    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default The Siege of Varad, Year of Our Lord 1208

    In the harsh winter of 1208, Bokeny son of Saul paced the battlements of castle Varad, his thick fur collar proving inadequate to the task of protecting him from the bitter wind which whistled and screeched around the black stone ramparts and sent icy droplets of sleet pelting into his face where they froze and lodged in his thick black beard and eyebrows, giving him the aspect of a wild man frozen alive in the icy tundra.

    Stopping at a lookout post he gazed down upon the camp of the besiegers far below, huddled in their tents behind their circumvallation of logs under the leaden skies in which ominous black clouds gathered.

    Squinting against the gale he tried to make out, among the pools of orange light cast by struggling torches and feeble campfires, the tent bearing the standard of his cousin Pozsony, son of Mate. How had it come to this? Years of bitter civil war between men who had been brothers in arms, the bloodlust and rancor amplifying by the day, by the month, by the season until finally here they were, set against one another in a standoff which showed no signs of relenting even as God himself assailed them with storm, with pestilence and with famine in a desperate attempt to bring their feud to an end.

    Curse the fat and indolent wife of Sandor who bore him no children and in her barren womb conceived this war-child as a curse on the Magyar for a generation after his death.

    Curse the pride of his father Saul who could not let it lie and hounded Mate to his early death through wood and vale as they struggled for Sandor’s vacant throne.

    A pox on the greedy, self-centred nobles who grasped for increments of additional power and wealth and egged the two rivals on to their doom!

    And the greatest curse of all on the fickle whims of fate which cast Pozsony and he as successors to the blood feud, bound by duty, honour and the promises of their fathers to fight for the crown to the bitter end, here at Varad where the abominable throne lay vacant, waiting for its blood tithe to be delivered once more.

    He remembered their childhood together here, in happier times when the Magyar were at peace and the harvests were bounteous, when all men of Hungary, even the lowest serf, had a full belly and naively believed they would die before their children. How the two boys had plotted mischief together, overlooked at the busy court of Sandor as they rode far and wide without leave across hill and dale, hunting and fishing, stealing fruit from the orchards of red-faced yeomen who shook their fists at the scamps as they fled laughing.

    How gloriously foolish they had been, with not a worry between them and nothing ahead but the promise of a life filled with adventure and camaraderie, set to inherit large estates and be troubled by nothing more than the petty disputes of their tenants and the seasonal worries of farmers.

    It was widely believed that Pozsony had been responsible for the death of Saul; a mysterious poison which had left his body racked with convulsions and tinged blue at the extremities had claimed his life in the spring of this year and with it any hope of settling the civil war which at that stage looked to be resolving itself in his favour.

    Bokeny himself did not know what to believe – true, it would have been in Pozsony’s interest to murder his father but that only placed him in a group of several dozen men of rank who would stand to benefit by the destabilizing effect of decapitating his tenuous regime.

    Then, of course, with the inevitability of such events the treasonous and disloyal among his ranks had switched sides, breathing new life into Pozsony’s resistance and leading to a counter-campaign which had pushed back Saul’s armies, now with Bokeny newly at their head and struggling to come to grips with his leading role, back to the very spawning ground of the conflict, here at the capital Varad.

    So here they were, deadlocked in the blizzard, the supplies within Varad dwindling, belts tightened, morale dropping and sickness beginning to spread its tendrils through the ranks of the defenders. Outside in the besiegers’ camp the situation was hardly better. Pozsony had begun to suffer desertion and his own supply lines were assailed by guerilla actions by partisans encamped in the forests and still loyal to Saul.

    Something had to give. Bokeny could see it clearly – desperation would drive Pozsony to assault the castle and one thing was certain: it would be bloody and the best and brightest of the Magyar would be slain in the carnage which would result. Meanwhile, the enemies of Hungary: the bestial Cuman, the cynical Byzantine, the calculating Venetian, the accursed Reich – all would descend like carrion crows to pick at the remains. Already news of armies massing on the borders was trickling through to him. He knew Pozsony would be hearing the same tidings which would only increase his desperate need to bring the siege to an abrupt end, whatever the cost.

    Suddenly from out of the whirling snow a giant boulder appeared and interrupted his reverie. Hurled by one of the stone throwers below it smashed into the black stone wall below him, causing barely a scratch on the granite surface. A desultory gesture which seemed to underline the futility of it all.

    Clearing his throat, he spat the yellow phlegm out over the ramparts and into the snowy void below.
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    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default On the Road to Zagreb, Year of Our Lord 1209

    Judit and Joszef stood by the side of the road waiting for the new Junior King's party to pass by. A great crowd had gathered, mostly peasants and serfs like themselves, curious and eager to get a look at their liege lord, many for the first time.

    It was a cool spring day and the thin sunlight lay dappled on the muddy track, filtering through the young leaves of the old trees lining the road.

    Judit turned to her son, speaking to him in a wheedling tone. Her back was hunched and she gathered her threadbare shawl around her head and shoulders, shivering in the breeze. "Joszef, why must we wait here? It's been hours and we have firewood to gather."

    Her son, a burly farm worker with a thick black mustache, was beginning to grow impatient with her complaints. "Mother we've been over this! I want to see him, the man who gave up the crown to his cousin. Who sold out our lords to subservience and brought dishonour on the Serbs....what manner of man must he be? I bet he's a weakling, a coward."

    The man standing next to Joszef overheard their conversation and interjected. "I hear Pozsony was set to take the castle by force and Bokeny simply surrendered. That he crawled before him on hands and knees begging for his life."

    Judit tsked and clucked her tongue. "So this is why you want your old mother to die in the cold, so we can watch a coward ride by on his high horse. I don't understand you youngsters at all." She continued to grumble under her breath and sat down on a nearby stump to rest.

    Joszef ignored his mother and turned to the man who had spoken. "And yet I met a returning soldier recently who had been at the siege last winter. He claimed it would have been impossible to take the castle by force. And he said it was Poszony who called the parley, the meeting that ended the war. So it is confusing, why would the man Bokeny simply give up? And to the man who murdered his father, King Saul?"

    The man shrugged. "Who can know the minds of Kings and those who would wear the crown?"

    Joszef laughed. "Not I! Bokeny is now 'Junior King' they say. What does that mean? Is he the heir, or will the crown pass to Pozsony's sons when he has them?"

    The man just shrugged again. In the distance the cry went up that the horsemen had been spotted and sure enough within minutes they hove into view, trotting down the track. As the lead horseman approached the crowd pressed forward, jostling for a better view.

    "There he is!", "Which one?", "In the crown stupid!"

    Bokeny sat hunched over in the saddle, as if with stomach cramps and with his shoulders drawn up around his ears as he held the reins loosely. He looked anything but regal and stared fixedly at the ground in front of him.

    As his horse passed in front of Joszef he heard a single word shouted in a wheedling voice.

    "Coward!!"

    The Junior King heard it too. He stopped his mount and drew himself up in the saddle to his full height, turning to search for the source of the insult. As his blazing eyes swept the crowd he was struck on the head by an apple which knocked the crown from atop and into the dark mud of the riding track.

    Joszef's heart stopped as he realized that it was his mother, Judit, who had shouted out. Whirling around he saw her standing up on the stump and cackling, preparing to hurl another apple at her Lord and master.

    Time seemed to slow down considerably. Bokeny, clearly enraged, jumped down from his horse and drew his sword. The crowd took a collective intake of shocked breath. Two of the bodyguard tried to restrain him but he shook them off and they collapsed in the mud as he advanced towards the old crone, purple-faced and with murder in his eyes. Joszef found himself in between his mother and the Junior King, remonstrating with him.

    A bumble bee, fat and drowsy, ambled into the air between their locked gazes.

    Bokeny smashed his mailed fist into Joszef's face, crushing his nose and sending him crumpling into the mud. He began to beat him with the flat of his blade, raining stinging blows about his back, buttocks and legs as the farmhand flailed in the mud, tasting his own metallic blood in his mouth. The downed bodyguards had now righted themselves and grabbed an arm each, dragging the Junior King away but not before he landed a few well-aimed kicks in Joszef's ribs, cracking one to the audible dismay of those gathered and watching.

    Joszef lay shattered in the dirt. Judit, wailing, hurried to him and took him in her arms, sobbing and rocking her stricken son.

    Bokeny recovered his poise, sheathing his blade and adjusting his mail. He glared about him at the shocked onlookers, bellowing "Bow to your Lord!". The serfs dropped to their knees and bowed their heads, many trembling in fear.

    A long moment passed which seemed frozen in time, the heavy silence broken only by the soft keening of the crone as she comforted her son. Bokeny, flanked by his guards and looming over the humble folk, seemed suddenly awkward and humiliated.

    Without another word he remounted his horse and spurred it into a gallop, fleeing the scene of the assault and of his humiliation, less a king than a criminal.
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 03-22-2012 at 03:42.
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    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default The Abrupt Coronation

    Bokeny strode angrily into the antechamber, still in his tournament armour and with the dust of the arena flecking his hair and beard.

    In the small room were Istvan of Carniola and Cardinal Vid a Bogatradvany nembol, resplendent in his red robes.

    Istvan, seeing his master's furious demeanour, shifted nervously from one foot to the other.


    What is the meaning of this? shouted the new King. I have much to attend to, do you need to waste my time in idle chat?

    The Cardinal cleared his throat.

    Your highness, we had thought to arrange a formal coronation to mark your ascension to the throne.

    Bokeny scoffed.

    A coronation? And how do you intend to perform such a rite when we have no crown? Or have you forgotten that it was robbed from us by the Cuman bandits along with the life of my cousin?

    Istvan intently studied the flagstones at his feet, saying nothing. The Cardinal smiled.

    Your highness, a crown does not make a King...

    He was interrupted by Bokeny, who raised his mace at the clergyman and, while the Cardinal cowered, knocked off his red biretta which rolled across the stone floor and into the fire, exposing a bald pate. The King of Hungary laughed as the old man scrabbled at the hearth to retrieve his headgear.

    And how do you feel now padre? Diminished somewhat?

    We will have no coronation while the crown is in enemy hands. Do not bother me again with this foolishness, I ride on the morrow to bring war to the Greeks in Macedonia.

    Istvan smirked and followed his liege out of the chamber, leaving the Cardinal ruefully clutching his scorched hat.
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 04-17-2012 at 03:19.
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    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default Dispatches from the Byzantine front - The Sack of Skopje

    Addressed to Istvan of Carniola, signed with the Royal Seal of King Bokeny of Hungary.

    Istvan, I have decided to send you regular dispatches so that you may pass on the details of our Byzantine campaign to the Lords and their representatives assembled at Court.

    As the Spring rains fell across the Skopska Crna Gora pass, we descended into the Vardar valley through a thick alpine forest. One evening as the light drew in our outriders reported discovering an encampment of Prussian mercenaries and I instructed the Wolf to negotiate for their hire. Soon enough and with the necessary coin they were enlisted and we proceeded through the foothills towards the fortress, encountering no sign of Byzantine troops. The curs were holed up in the fortress it seemed and unwilling to emerge to defend their surrounds from our pillaging. The farmlands in the vicinity of that city are rich in produce and we were able to sustain ourselves from their output without diminishing our supplies. No doubt the local peasants will feel the pinch but they have the whole season to recoup their losses and if we seized the castle, God willing, we could provide for them should the winter arrive early or the autumn harvest fail.

    The mercenaries were a scurvy lot, a leadership group of Prussian spear of high quality with the rest made up of deserter levies and local archers - one step away from a robber band. I thought them suitable for the task ahead only in that I intended to storm the castle and they would provide meat for the grinder.

    Indeed, this is how it ultimately transpired, as I will relate.

    We approached the castle in the afternoon sunlight, drawing up into ranks with the mercenaries at the head. A lone rider approached from the east gate to bear the news that our agents in the castle had seized control of the gatehouse and stood ready to open the gates to our advance.
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    I gave the order for the mercenaries to lead the charge and, sure enough, the gates swung open, much to the surprise and dismay of the defenders.
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    After a few moments of bloodshed I led the cavalry charge through the gates and into the melee, causing the Byzantines to break and flee for the inner keep.

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    We pursued them through the city streets, hacking down any man not fast enough to outpace us and encountering small bands of resistance along the way.
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    At the walls of the inner keep the defenders stood ready....
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    ...but again the judicious application of gold by our agents melted the iron grate to nothing and we poured through the gap.

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    Overwhelming the defenders with sheer numbers, we pressed them back to make a last stand in the courtyard of the keep.

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    The close fighting took a heavy toll on our infantry, much of which was borne by the mercenaries as we horsemen stood and watched from a distance.

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    Eventually the throng had thinned sufficiently for a flanking movement of crossbows, who laid down a hail of fire which diminished the remaining resistance and won us the day.
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    In the aftermath the Wolf relayed to me that the mercenaries were much dismayed with what they considered our heartless use of them in the forward lines. I commanded that they be paid their fallen comrades' share of the wages and this seemed to quiet them. Indeed most of them remain in our service for the upcoming advance on Thessalonica, which suggests that their grief was not overwhelming...
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 04-28-2012 at 09:02.
    frogbeastegg's TWS2 guide....it's here!

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  19. #19
    Norse Uikikr Member Mithridate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dispatches from the Byzantine front - The Sack of Skopje

    reserved

  20. #20
    Throne Room Caliph Senior Member phonicsmonkey's Avatar
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    Default Dispatches from the Byzantine front - The Battle at the Loudias

    Addressed to Istvan of Carniola, signed with the Royal Seal of King Bokeny of Hungary.

    After a brief sojourn in Macedonia where we replenished our supplies, we made our advance once more into Byzantine territory, halting some leagues short of the bridge over the river Loudias, east of Edessa.

    It was here that our outriders returned to inform us that to the north-west of our position, in a fortified camp within Sicilian territory and within striking distance of our supply lines, was a large force of Byzantine troops. I immediately sent word to the garrison commander at Arta to request his assistance in dealing with the Byzantines.

    Enclosed here is a copy of our correspondence for the court records.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    A message from King Bokeny to the commander of the Sicilian army stationed near Durazzo:

    Noble sir, we are engaged in a campaign to liberate Greece from the Byzantine yoke. Our common enemy quails under the force of our assault and this season Skopje has fallen to our armies.

    Our spies have discovered an encampment of Byzantine cavalry within the borders of your territory. It would be of great assistance to us if you were to besiege them within their fortifications and thus prevent them from attacking our supply lines or attempting to retake Macedonia.

    Our common foe will surely be defeated all the sooner if you assist us in this way and relations between our two great Catholic kingdoms will be strengthened all the more.

    We trust you will provide us the required assistance and welcome this opportunity to act together against a common threat.

    Signed with the Royal Seal of King Bokeny of Hungary
    To King Bokeny of Hungary,

    I regret to inform you that I was unable to fulfill your request. My orders were clear, as was the need of my fellow Sicilians, that my forces should move south to support them. I must also question why your spies are operating within our territory.

    If you wish to establish better relations with us, I must instruct you to speak to our King. I can do no more until then.


    With no assistance forthcoming from the cowardly Sicilians, we anticipated an attack by the Byzantine dogs, perhaps in concert with the Thessalonian garrison which we received word was mobilising.

    As a precautionary measure we took to the high ground and, sure enough, on the morrow we received word of three forces advancing to meet us from north-east, south and east across the Loudias.

    I drew up the royal army in a defensive posture atop a hill, the better to survey the battlefield, manouever quickly to face the multiple foes and to provide both better range for our missile troops and greater momentum for cavalry charges.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    The first of our enemies approached on our right flank - I ordered the Wolf and his mounted archers to assail them as they approached.
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    Meanwhile another small force advanced on our left flank, which I secured by denying the left section of our infantry line.

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    As this force grew closer their skirmisher cavalry detached and moved ahead of their infantry, showering our lines with fire but also bringing them in range of our missiles.
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    After a pause while our crossbows and archers whittled down their numbers, I led the royal guard in a glorious charge upon their ranks, sending them scurrying away in fear.

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    On the right flank, the enemy infantry had braved our missile fire and charged into our serried ranks of spear. They were tired from the long slog up the slope and were soon routed.
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    The Byzantine commander, attempting to rescue the situation, charged his own cavalry into the fray.
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    But it was too late and he found himself isolated as his infantry fled back down the hill from whence they came.
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    A long way off in the distance, the largest of the three Byzantine armies waited - but for what? I was not inclined to pursue them and give up my vantage point.
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    We rested atop the hill awaiting an advance that never came and in the end the Greek dogs slunk away back to their camp.
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    We would no doubt face this foe again in the coming days as we prepared our advance on Thessalonica.
    Last edited by phonicsmonkey; 04-28-2012 at 09:03.
    frogbeastegg's TWS2 guide....it's here!

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  21. #21
    Norse Uikikr Member Mithridate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dispatches from the Byzantine front - The Battle at the Loudias

    Reserved

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Sorry taking so long to make the stories... a bit much >.<

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