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Thread: The Viking Migration

  1. #1
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Post The Viking Migration

    (This is my first attempt at an AAR, any feedback is welcome. For my first run through as the Norse I wanted to make the game a challenge, as much as possible at least, so I set myself a new type of migration game: overland migration. My basic rules are:

    1. I can't hold any province for more than ten years until I conquer Jerusalem.
    2. I can only conquer provinces that are contiguous with provinces I already own.
    3. I must own at least one province at all times.
    4. I must accomplish all possible Papal missions excepting crusades (Which force a blitz and break the fun of the game).
    5. I can attack any faction, Catholic or not, to accomplish my mission, but I must seek peace with them when I move on beyond their borders.
    6. I will recruit no ships or mercenaries.
    7. I will only break an alliance under extreme necessity.
    8. I can cross only at Constantinople or Gibraltar, and at the start of the game I'm only considering the (Formerly) Catholic crossing at Gibraltar, though diplomatic contact with the Byzantines may reverse that.

    At the end of ten years holding a territory I must gift or sell it to a nearby ally or the Papacy, though I can liquidate all buildings first. Once I reach Jerusalem my purpose will be reclaiming the Holy Lands from Muslims and defending them from the Mongols and Timurids, after which I plan to expand to nearest Catholic borders, gift everything to the Pope and retake Arhus. The story bit doesn't really make sense, it's just the best rough justification I could concoct for the rules I thought I needed to make the game harder. Difficulty is m/vh with battle timers on. Enjoy!)

    Arhus, 1080 AD, Day 0.

    Eleven days since the royal family's second son was stillborn. Eleven days since the the witchy woman who prophesied that King Knud would never know another son was put to death. For these past eleven days the King has been taken with a great terror, unspoken but contagious, and now the very walls of the city hum with fear. The men are jumpy, sensing change in the air, and even the peasantry can smell an ill wind about. Christianity has officially held sway here for generations, but even the nobles visit a weirding woman when they take sick. Now the whispers have it that the All Father is awake, and angry. Riders out of the north report storms and sky-lights the color of blood. Today a messenger out of the west brought news that our entire fleet had been sunk by fiery rocks falling from the stars. I fear the King's reponse. Even now he holds council with a creature of the deep forest.

    Arhus, 1080 AD, Day 1.

    King Knud sat in chambers, with commands that no one disturb him, all through the night. When he emerged there was no sign of the filthy being he'd taken into his counsel, but the King was a changed man. He called the nobles together, commanded me to gather his bodyguard troops, and gave an impassioned speech about the debt of blood and honor today's men owe to history and the gods of our forefathers. Then, his voice rising louder and louder, he swore his blood, his line, and all his kingdom to proper payment of that debt. There was a chorus of 'Ayes!' from the nobility, much aided by the King's mead no doubt, but as the men stood to adjourn the King went on in a quieter voice.

    'Odin spoke to me in the night.'

    The King's guard, The Black Worms, had long been recruited according to the ancient rites, even when the kingdom officially forsook the old gods. At King Knud's words, my troop stirred. The reaction among the nobles was that of a sheep stunned for the kill. They simply stared as the King spoke on, about the necessity of repaying the debt we owed Odin, who had warded our land since the start of time. If we were to set the old gods aside once and for all, we would have to undertake one last quest in their names. The road will be hard, for the debt is great, but those of the people who survive the winnowing will be stronger for it, and free to follow the one God.

    I saw my fervency for this quest reflected in the eyes of the King's guard, and in the eyes of King Knud. For the nobles, I saw a quivering recollection of the fear that had ruled our city for nigh on two weeks, and could readily fortell the failures of courage that would leave them scattered on the battlefields to come. I called a messenger to call up the troops for orders. Even those not familiar with the old ways would welcome any change from the snivelling terrors of these past days.

    South of Arhus, turn 1, 1080-2 AD.

    Our initial course is set, our Cardinal, Princess, Merchant, Spy and two primary armies head south. The Spy checks Hamburg out, discovering two peasant archers and two spear militia units. The southernmost army, composed of two spear militia units, a veteran peasant unit, a veteran Norse archer unit, and a unit of peasant archers lay seige to Hamburg immediately. They are commanded to prepare a ram and some ladders for the arrival of the King and his son. Diplomats and spearmen are to be trained at Arhus behind us before the structures are razed and the town is surrendered.

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    Hamburg region, turn 2, 1083-4 AD.

    The King assess the troops holding seige of Hamburg, and determines to send the majority of them on westward, holding two units of spearmen, his Black Worms, and the Prince's guard, the Gray Wolves, for the battle. We are outnumbered, but the enemy is far outmatched.

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    To draw fire away from the ram and the approach of my cavalry one unit of spearmen assaults with walls with only ladders against two units of peasant archers. They fought valiantly, and the gates broke before their courage did.

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    Once the gates fell the King and his son charge forward with their guards, smashing all resistance and sacking the town.

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    2000 florins are gained, swelling our coffers. The money will be well spent in the coming years as a project to improve the recruitment abilities of Hamburg is launched. A small army of Germans is discovered by our spy near Hamburg. We do not wish trouble with the Holy Roman Empire so soon, so Princess Ingrid is sent to sue for an alliance.

    Hamburg province, turn 3 1085-6 AD.

    Princess Ingrid discovers that the HRE's Prince Henry is unwed, and is commanded to offer her hand in exchange for a small sum of florins. A firm alliance is thus concluded, and maps are shared. The Pope instructs us to build a small church at Hamburg, and King Knud determines to delay construction of other buildings to accomplish this holy mission. The King takes command of the western army, leaving Prince Charles to hold Hamburg.

    Near Antwerp, turn 4, 1087-8 AD.

    The church is completed, pleasing His Holiness. Prince Charles takes a bride. Most men of worth have abandoned Arhus and struck for Hamburg already, taxes are altered accordingly. Our Diplomats begin to scatter in every direction, seeking trade agreements and peaceful relations.

    Near Antwerp, turn 5, 1089-90 AD.

    The Council of Nobles asks that we make diplomatic overtures to the French.

    Our spy discovers a powerful rebel garrison at Antwerp.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Even so, the King marches up to the walls, but lacks the time to prepare the siege. In a fit of foolishness our diplomat, meant to give away Arhus to our HRE ally takes a detour and runs out of movement points before reaching the city to negotiate. Arhus will not be abandoned on schedule because it cannot be allowed to fall into chaos and rebellion. Someday soon there will be a penalty for this foolishness, no doubt.

    Besieging Antwerp, turn 6, 1091-1092 AD.

    Surrendering Arhus to the Germans improves our relations to Outstanding, though they refused to pay so much as a wooden florin for the city. Our men sold all that they could before striking out for Hamburg with the last of the useful peasants in their train. Prince Charles departs Hamburg with a large force of troops, including newly trained Scouts, Raiders, and Huscarls. Antwerp is besieged and our spy discovers an even more powerful garrison at Bruges.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Soon after the siege is set in place, our enemy sallies out to meet us, suspecting that his force is superior. Little does he count the valor of our Black Worms!

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    Abandoning the useless rams, we position our two spear units behind four units of archers, while our Worm guards move off to flank the enemy and take advantage of his speed.

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    The enemy commander's own unit of mailed knights rush forward, but our archers withdraw in time, and our spearmen make short work of the cavalry, breaking them and sending 15 of them fleeing for their walls. Meanwhile the enemy has dispatched two units of pikes to threaten our King, and a third unit of pikes and a unit of spearmen along behind the mailed knights to threaten our archers and spears. The Black Worms deftly move between the units of pikes sent after them to catch the pikes from behind as they engage our spears, shattering their formation instantly. (This shot is poor, but you can see the two units of pikes marching slowly, far from the battle)

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    With the aid of Norse archers entering the melee, the spearmen are sent fleeing just as quickly. The enemy commander has rallied his knights by this time, and attempts to charge them through his crossbowmen to attack our King, who quickly wheels the Black Worms to meet the enemy charge, all but destroying the unit and killing the rebel commander. The remaining enemy pikes are lured into a hopeless chase, and picked apart by our archers. When their commander is killed, the first of the two remaining pike units breaks as well. Facing the charge of the King's guard, the city's peasants shut the gates when the last of their commander's guard attempts to re-enter the city.

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    Denied at the gates, our King orders us back to the field to aid in breaking the last whole unit of enemy pikes. This allows enough time for the pathetic remnants of the enemy who had fled into the city to rally and return to battle.

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    At the sight of the King preparing his men to charge once more, they broke and fled for the gates again, but this time the Worms would not be denied!

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    Hot on their heels we enter the city, charging not for their backs but for the square.

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    As the Guard roared up the city streets, the enemy surrendered at last, and Antwerp was ours!

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    2,000 florins were sacked from the city again, and with our finances in decline while recruitment continued at Hamburg they were desperately needed. Prince Charles delays near Hamburg to collect a ballista crew from Arhus. If the ballistae can be brought to the front in time they will greatly speed our conquest by allowing us to attack cities soon after we siege them.

    Though we neatly outmanuevered the three units of pike and our spy reported only two in Bruges, our next conquest, I worried what they might accomplish if their discipline proved stiffer in the battle to come.

  2. #2
    Senior member Senior Member Dutch_guy's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Must say you're not giving yourself a break at all, with those house-rules.

    Good luck and keep us updated !

    Last edited by Dutch_guy; 07-02-2007 at 20:19.
    I'm an athiest. I get offended everytime I see a cold, empty room. - MRD


  3. #3
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Antwerp, turn 7, 1093-4 AD.

    Prince Charles has determined to delay further west of Hamburg to collect freshly trained Huscarles and Raiders. He sends word that he will strike out for Antwerp as soon as possible. Rumor has it that the Prince's zeal is substantially lacking.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Meanwhile King Knud sets to training militiamen to hold Antwerp, and eyes the mighty garrison at Bruges. His reputation as a risky attacker may prove to be well deserved.

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    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Near Hamburg, turn 8, 1095-6 AD.

    The Prince continues to be slowed by the ballistae he picked up from Arhus, and he dithers on, clearly now dragging his feet. The King keeps himself busy with preparations for the coming assault.

    Antwerp, turn 9, 1097-8 AD.

    At the risk of angering the King, I continue to prevail upon him to wait for Prince Charles' forces to arrive before we come against Bruges. Our spy has scouted an English castle and rebel held city beyond that will be more easily taken, and the King is in no mood for counsel of waiting. Word is sent for the Prince to abandon the ballista to make it's own way and speed to the city.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Meanwhile diplomatic contact is established with the French, per the Council's orders, and the Polish. Neither nation is particularly receptive to our offers, but the nobles offer the King a paltry reward of 500 florins.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    In private the King tells me he finds their lack of faith disturbing.

    Antwerp, turn 10, 1099-1100 AD.

    Prince Charles left mainly the crudest militia troops behind to handle the dismantling of Hamburg, unfortunately these men misunderstood his orders and, in their haste, also destroyed and sold off the local church.

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    The Pope is outraged, the King is enraged, and Prince Charles once again slows his march to Antwerp a few miles outside of town. In private, however, many of the Black Worms express relief that our failure to obey Odin has had such mild consequences. Hamburg is gifted to the French, our new allies, leaving us with only a single city under our control. King Knud vows to capture Bruges in all haste, and in an ironic twist, trains a ballista at Antwerp, making a mockery of all Prince Charles' wasteful dithering.

    Besieging Bruges, turn 11, 1101-1102 AD.

    Prince Charles' soldiers reached the east gate of Antwerp just behind King Knud's assault force departing by the west gate. Whispers abound that this was no mistake on the Prince's part. In any event, battle will soon be joined! I can smell in the air around Bruges that the men inside are well led, confident, and will sally out against us posthaste.

    This happily prove to be the case! At last the Black Worms ride to battle again!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    This Captain Lancelot is clever, he charges forward with his cavalry to press our ballista unit immediately, knowing that they are our slowest men and that we won't have had time to set our spears.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The battle breaks up into chaos at this point, as the King leads a charge against the enemy crossbowmen when their pikes and spears abandon them. Unfortunately none of the enemy's pikes or spears turn back, and our spearmen are badly out manned and outclassed. Only heroic efforts by our Norse Archers save them all from breaking, and they spend all their blood before the enemy pikes even arrive. Meanwhile Captain Lancelot has been all over the field, charging our valiant archers, breaking our smallest unit of spearmen, and chasing our ballista men far afield from their engines. He has done much harm to our forces, but his horsemen have also been whittled away. At last a unit of peasant archers traps him and cuts him down.

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    Meanwhile, however, the enemy pikemen reach our much depleted spear line. The Black Worms have broken the enemy's rear ranks, and have a chance to chase them through to the town square. The King, surveying our remaining troops, makes the determination that it is more important to capture the town than to ensure their survival. At worst, they are faster than the pikemen, and will make it safely off the field. Those of us in his guard who remain ahorse turn and charge for the gates.

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    One unit of pike is enaged by both our spears, one unit of peasant archers, and the few remaining Norse archers. They break, but the cost is high, as the other unit of pike has flanked our spears and engages them even as their brothers flee. Now it is our turn to be broken, and our spearmen run for the hills while the archers lead the nearly whole pike unit on a merry chase, with the second archer unit shooting into their ranks from behind. Eventually they will break. Surely the King can secure the square to take victory in this siege.

    The Black Worms, however, have had to clean up the broken enemy units before they could stream back to the square, and so, tired, much reduced, and yet triumphant we finally move into place at the square. Minutes pass as the peasants try to muster up their mayor for the official surrender. As stout men struggle to drag him from under his bed, however, the formerly broken unit of pikemen, still numerically superior to the Worms, begins their slow, orderly march up the streets.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The fool mayor, upon spotting them, turns tail to run, but our men are near enough to snag him and bring him before the King. In his most bloodcurdling voice our mighty lord leans down and demands the surrender of the town. Quivering from end to end, the Mayor looks over his shoulder at the advancing pikes, and, perhaps realizing his posterior is perfectly positioned between those poles and our brave knights, bellows out his acquiescence at full volume.

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    The pikemen, twice broken and now betrayed, with nothing left to fight for, kneel and lay down their pikes. The battle was hard fought.

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    At the end of the day, Bruges was ours!

  4. #4
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    (Slight rules alteration in that, rather than give up a town ten years after I take it, instead I'm giving up a town every ten years starting with the town I've held the longest. Simply easier to keep up with. I'm abandoning the dates too, because they don't make much sense.)

    Bruges, turn 12.

    The King, hoping to train units other than militia for the conquest of Caen, has determined to convert Bruges into a castle. Some question the utility of this move, but in private the King also relates that he is concerned that the large native populace will be disorderly if their hands are not turned to some great work.

    Near Angers, turn 13.

    The King's financial advisor strikes the first blow against our next enemy, taking over the export of wine from a fool Englishman in this area. Superior troops are moved from Antwerp to Bruges to ready for the assault on the English at Caen. The Pope asks that we build a church at Antwerp, and the King commands that it be done ahead of all other projects.

    Bruges, turn 14.

    The Pope is pleased that the church is completed, and Prince Charles' reputation for noble acts is also thus enhanced.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    In darker news, the Scottish have landed a large force from the fleet near Bruges, and the English have moved in a smaller force from the west just as the King sets out for Caen with his invasion troops. Bruges is held by green milita troops deemed too likely to break for the King to bring them on the road to Caen. Word is sent for the Prince to reinforce Bruges in all haste.

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    Road east of Caen, turn 15.

    Diplomatic contact is established with the Spanish and the Papacy, at long last. The gift of Antwerp to the Papacy allows an alliance to be reached and relations to be improved to outstanding, but relations with Spain are cooler. They're between us and our God given mission. The Prince's slowest troops halt outside the gates of Bruges while he assumes control of the city.

    Caen, turn 16.

    Because we were forced to detour around the small English army in the countryside the siege cannot begin on time. The King is livid, camped mere miles from the castle he meant to be preparing to assault. Also our finances reach dire straits, and we fall into debt. The King's merchant assured us this was inevitable, but the King was certain one god or another would provide. Just one more test along the road.

    Diplomatic contact is established with Russia, who refuse our offer of alliance, and (Per council orders) Venice, earning us too small a reward to bring our nation out of debt.

    Besieging Caen, turn 17.

    War!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The English are but the fools of fate, set in our path by no ill will of their own, but destined for death all the same. An Englishman named Robert commands the garrison, and he sent a messenger begging to know what our intentions were. Word has it that King Knud sent back a fiery diabtribe on the Dane's place in history and the will of God. Rams and ladders are being prepared for the butcher's work ahead.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our diplomat has been recalled from Spain to negotiate a settlement with the English after Caen is taken, and hopefully to keep the large Scottish army restrained, though they've shown no sign of open war yet.

    Caen, turn 18.

    The English fool Robert has only a bare troops on his ramparts. Our ram destroys his gate as our Raiders butcher the defenders. Our losses are light until we engage their cavalry, but the Englishman Robert aquits himself well against the scouts that raced ahead of the Black Worms before falling in battle.

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    The scouts who still live will hopefully have learned a valuable lesson.

    King Knud's offer to ransom the men taken in the assault is callously refused. The King's reputation in battle is growing fearsome, and increasingly at odds with the Prince's public persona.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Something in the siege has set the King in a terrible mood, and so he strikes out for the rebel held Rennes immediately, with no pause for rest, taking only a ballista, a few peasant archers, and a unit of Raiders with the Black Worms.

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    Besieging Rennes, turn 19.

    The craven Council, sensing which way the wind blows, has promised a princely sum to the King for the sack of Rennes. With our mounting debt, who could refuse?

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    My personal suspiscion is that the Council urged him on in the hopes that he would throw his life away against the rebel held walls, but those cowards have underestimated the valor of the Black Worms, and the fear our King inspires in his enemies. Rennes will present no difficulty. We begin the siege and set the peasants to building rams.

    The enemy has some reliable troops, including a few knights, but they are rabble even so, and I suspect we will scatter them to the winds with one good charge.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Meanwhile the Scottish leave our lands to have a look at the Papacy's lightly defended Antwerp, and our diplomat prepares documents for seeking peace with the English.

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    Our spy discovers from afar that the Spanish garrison at Bordeux, next on the King's list, is quite weak, but that reinforcements are near.

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  5. #5
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Turn 20, Northern France.

    My son has come of age, and I pray that someday he will follow me into the ranks of the Black Worms. Indeed, King Knud set him on that path by sending him with a smoldering, furious letter to the recalcitrant Prince Charles and putting him under orders to join the Gray Wolves. I am proud, but also worried. The Prince has shown little enthusiasm for this battle, and I cannot help but wonder if the gods will not take umbrage at his footdragging.

    When the letter reached the Prince at Caen our King's dreadful nature stretched across the lands to whip him into action. Setting out for Bordeaux with a substantial force, the Prince rode on ahead alone to secure the bridge and was ambushed by some 220 rebel spearmen.

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    According to later accounts, the Prince whipped his men into a state of near madness with a rousing speech, and then personally led charge after charge into the teeth of the rebel spears.

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    These rebels were a doughty lot, and no mistake, because they continued to pursue the Gray Wolves even as they were cut down and broken, unit by unit.

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    Finally their captain, who had spent the lives of three other units of spearmen before risking his own in combat, was cut down under the charge of the Wolves.

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    Even so, the last unit of spearmen rallied and tried to come against the Prince once again, uphill no less. They too would be broken and swept aside, as none could withstand the frozen steel lance heads of the Gray Wolves on this cold and snowy day.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


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    Ten of the Wolves were buried on that field, with a mighty pile of their slain enemy's weapons mounded up nearby to mark the place. Prince Charles would be known as a better commander for what he did that day, as well.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Negotiations with the English produced a satisfactory peace, including handing over Bruges to them in exchange for some 2700 florins, a tribute of 500 florins for the next five turns, and an alliance. We also learned that Bordeaux had been reinforced, but the Prince's will, and the King's letter, drove him onward.

    At Rennes the King determined to move forward with a night assault, despite our inferior numbers.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our Ballista troops had bragged about their skill, and they proved it, firing at full range through a small hole they'd made in the enemy gates more than once.

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    King Knud was impressed, but he knew it would come down to steel meeting flesh once the gates were broken, and so it did. The enemy neatly arrayed himself in a bunched formation on a tight street, and our Raiders held them in place while the King moved in behind them and the archers and ballista rained fire on their heads. When the King charged their rear and butchered their captain, the rest of the enemy surrendered and begged for their lives.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


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    The Council's 2500 florin reward was enough to buy our way out of debt, temporarily at least, with 1000 florins to spare, which were quickly spent on fresh troops.

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    Besieging Bordeaux, turn 21.

    Despite the presence of a Spanish Cardinal and possibly inferior troops, the Prince went ahead with the declaration of war and the siege of Bordeaux, aided by our spy, who had slipped in the day before.

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    Caen was left in the hands of a few militiamen and peasants, Rennes was reinforced by the quality troops from Caen, and King Knud took the veteran units and the Black Worms and moved down the road to reinforce Bordeaux, fearing that the Prince would be driven back or unable to conquer the place on his own.

    Siege of Bordeaux, turn 22.

    The fool Council, showing their incomprehension of our quest, asked that we blockade the port of Leon, despite Odin's prohibition of the building of ships before the accomplishment of our task. The King laughed contemptuously, and order them to board wagons and make for Bordeaux.

    Prince Charles, having word of the King approaching the last bridge before Bordeaux, determined to prove himself and sack the castle before being reinforced. My son sent word that the Prince again delivered an excellent speech, and inspired the men to brave high walls and hard steel with fire in their hearts.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The battle was uneventful, and though our fearless scouts raced ahead once again, there were few casualties and a generally dispirited defensive effort from the Spanish.

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    I know the King will be much encouraged to hear of the spineless Spanish troops and their weak efforts. I can further hope that matters between the King and his son will be smoothed over with the rapid capture of this fresh fortress by Prince Charles.

  6. #6
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Southern France, turn 23.

    A member of our diplomatic corp brings most excellent news, we've made contact with the empire that holds the crossing at Constantinople, the Byzantines. For a small sum of coin and copies of our own maps the Byzantines were willing to send us maps of the area around the crossing. For the first time since our quest began we have a choice to make.

    News also reached us that Prince Charles has adopted a young noble from his retinue into the royal family. The King is enraged, and he can hardly be blamed. Rumors have swirled around the Prince for some time, centering on the lack of children, and now bringing this man into the fold smacks of something best left unspoken. Worse, the King's wife is clearly past the age of bearing more children, and the King's daughters will give him no comfort when he thinks on where the crown will pass.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Even more maddening for the King, a small Spanish force has taken the bridge north of Bordeaux and will have to be cleared away before he can meet with his son to discuss the matter. They quickly fall back from the bridge when we ride forth, and I urge the King to turn aside and make for Bordeaux, but he will have none of it. The Spanish are to be put to the sword.

    Late a night, on the rain swept coast of France, we take the high ground and prepare to assault. King Knud commands the rest of the force to hold their ground as the Black Worms ride out to clear away the enemy archers.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    They break quickly, and the guard pulls back to suck in the enemy cavalry. When we reach a good spot we turn to attack as our Huscarls ride in from the side under a shower of burning arrows. The enemy general is struck down, and his cavalry flees.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our horses trample a few more burning spearmen under their hooves, and the battle is won.

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    We lost only nine men, and after the battle the Spaniards who surrendered are put to the sword.

    Prince Charles, having word of the King's coming and his mood, departs Bordeaux via the south gate (Bumping into a small Portugeuse force) in considerable haste as we arrived at the west gate. I am sorry to have to record that King Knud's temper got the better of him, and he killed two gate guards on hearing the news. The peasants were suitably impressed with the need to be orderly.

    Our spy scouted the fortress at Pamplona and a Spanish city called Zaragosa, and reported them both lightly held by small armies.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Southern France, turn 24.

    Diplomatic contact is established with the Venetians, and maps are traded with a small sum of florins thrown in. We now have a fully mapped route to Muslim lands in the east, with our allies holding our north border much of the way. To the south, a hard slog through Spain followed by the trackless deserts of Africa. Additionally the Venetians and Byzantines are at war and will no doubt weaken each other before we arrive. The choice seems obvious to all, and the Prince heads east towards Toulouse with the spy preceeding him discovering that it is very lightly garrisoned.

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    Additionally a large army of Spaniards is spotted near Zaragosa. The Council tries to prevail upon the King to turn aside from Spain, even going so far as to point out that he must head east to bring his son to heel. In a towering rage King Knud attacks a nobleman, and a brawl develops in the council chambers. We drag the councilmen out, resisting the urge to add to their bruises and broken bones. The next day the council, two units in need of retraining, and most of the peasants strike out east, to join Prince Charles, as the King takes his army south.

    Southern France, turn 25.

    Prince Charles is joined by some units from Bordeaux, and remains on the Danish border near Toulouse. The council has met with the Prince, and with their support he has commanded that a diplomat enter negotiations with the French for the peaceable transfer of Toulouse into our holdings. After much wrangling the French are given the castle at Caen, the city of Rennes, copies of our maps, military access to our lands, and a promise of an attack against some rebels on their borders. It is enough, and Toulouse is ours. Relations with the French are outstanding on the news.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    I personally bring word of this to King Knud, expecting the worst, but the King simply sits at his desk muttering when I give him the news. Finally he glances up and with darkness gathering in his eyes he dismisses me.

    The next morning the King delivers a glorious speech, proclaiming that Odin has promised him a great victory at Zaragosa, but the darkness in his eyes was still there. I don't expect it will ever recede again.

    More orders out of the Prince see our weakest troops disbanded in an attempt to gain control of our financial situation. All the town militia and peasants, some of whom were raised in Toulouse for the handover, are dismissed. Still, a debt is forcast to mount quickly. Some of these men were under the King's command when word arrived that they surrender their weapons and join the peasantry. Still there was no fire in him, and the order was passed down as though it had come from his own lips. He was left with a few units of spear militia, some archer militia, a weakend group of Huscarls, and, of course, the Black Worms.

    In the Pyrenees, turn 26

    We camp in northern Portugal. Messengers from the east are few, but we gather that the Prince has ordered Bordeaux all but abandoned and our northernmost armies are moving to join him as he heads for the rebel city of Dijon, to make good our word with the French. Toulouse too is very lightly held, but seemingly unthreatened. Of late the King drinks and makes merry with the guard often, spinning great yarns of Danish history and his personal exploits from his youth, but the blackness in his gaze is growing. I'm no witch, but I can sense what is coming.

    Near Zaragosa, turn 27.

    We've moved to the outskirts of the Spanish province and learned that the garrison has been substantially reinforced. The enemy clearly outnumbers us, and has a superiority in cavalry and infantry troops, some armed with deadly javelins. King Knud wanders through the camp, slapping backs and shoring up courage among the militia.

    Word out of the France is that debt has crippled production at Toulouse, preventing the retraining of battered units. Prince Charles has moved into rebel territory.

    Soon the siege begins.

    Besieging Zaragosa, turn 28.

    We've reached the walls. The Spanish commander, a man named Vaasco, sent a messenger to demand our surrender, proclaiming both the superiority of the troops he had in the city and the nearness of his reinforcements. He was sent back with a warning, that any of the men of Zaragosa who did not surrender would be slaughtered.

    The last word from Prince Charles was that the rebel garrison was small and weak, two militia archer units backed by some bloodied spears and mailed knights. Debt was mounting, but expectations were high of another successful negotiation with the French regarding Marseilles.

    Siege of Zaragosa, end of turn 28.

    On the eve of battle the King is joyful. The weather has been still and dry, and the men are well rested and ready. When the Spaniard Vaasco gathers his banners by the gate, we form up to await his sally. The King, with no time for a speech, simply delivers an old joke about not chasing the enemy too closely for fear of their loosened bowels.

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    The King has detailed instructions for the spearmen, they're to form two lines with room between for the archers to fire in a tight line into the enemy. They are not to simply charge into melee, but instead to form up first, close enough that the opponent's cavalry cannot charge but not so close that his infantry are drawn into a fight. Meanwhile the archers will light their arrows to drive fear into the Spanish, and the Black Worms will ride to the walls in support of our weakend spear flank, while our Huscarls ride to the walls on the other side.

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    The pocket develops perfectly, with the enemy cavalry engaged by our spears, his infantry desperately trying to form up under our fire arrows, and our cavalry charging on both sides of them. Fighting so near the walls, we have shelter from enemy javelins, arrows, and tower bolts. The King kills Spaniard after Spaniard, working his way toward the gate. I watched him decapitate one man against the wall, swinging so hard he had to dislodge his sword from the timbers before he could continue the massacre.

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    When our Huscarls charge in behind where the enemy general has engaged our spearmen, his will falters, and in that moment our spears cut him down.

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    King Knud drives the enemy back through their gate, butchering them, and they are saved from a total disaster only by those of their men who had fled already and reformed at the town square. The King, with a froth of blood in his beard, roars order for his guard to pursue. The miltia spearmen struggle to make their way through the gate with good order, blocking the Huscarls from following the King's guard. The Black Worms, surrounded by enemies, tear up the city streets and enemy soldiers throw down their weapons in despair as we pass. Some are trampled under, some wail and cover their faces, and the rest flee in any direction, even back to the rest of our army. It is a glorious charge, with me right by the King's side.

    At the square we meet a stubborn unit of enemy spears, recently reformed, and smash them aside. Another reformed spear unit, just a dozen men strong, moves up to pin us in place and suddenly enemy javelins come flying in thick and fast. There is a moment of unutterable clarity for me as I look desperately about. Where are the Worms? Where is the King's Guard? Behind us is a trail of death and destruction, hundreds of dead, but atop those piles, here and there, is the body of a Worm or his horse visible. It's enough. It's too many. There are no bodies left between King Knud and the storm of javelins.

    Pierced a dozen times over, the mighty stallion of the King falls. Lord Knud, feared, dreaded, and much beloved servant of two gods, struggles to find his feet as the last of the Spanish spears swarm over him and run him through.

    Screaming our rage, the last remnants of the Black Worms lay about us. I try to keep my head, bellowing that we must get clear of the square. Too proud to break, five of us charge through the encircling javelin throwers and press out the north end of the square, far from the rest of the army to the south. Damnable Spanish Jinetes follow us, and before we can reach the north gate we must turn to fight them back. They are killed, but again javelins have reached us and fall in a cloud amidst the remnant of a remnant. My horse falls from under me, and I am spilled into the street just as the enemy's last few scattered bits of cavalry roar down the street. Blackness takes me.

    I wake sometime later, with the sounds of battle still near. I am able to drag myself to the wall of a cottage, though my legs are crushed, to watch the rest of the fight at the square. The enemy sits there, gradually cut down by our militia archers. Huscarls give their lives to cut down the last enemy archers, and by the time the last exhausted Spaniard falls the square is awash in blood.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    (Note the one 'healed' bodyguard member)

    The King is dead, long live the King. In truth King Charles' time came long ago, and in the end Knud knew this. I can only hope the new king carries out the mandate of Odin and restores the Danes to their place in history.

    My body is broken, and I, the last of King Knud's Black Worms, have spoken all the words I have left.

  7. #7
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Southern France, turn 29.

    "Look down at your feet men. Go on, look! Some among us would have me cast aside the work of these past decades under the ruse that it was my father, and not I, who set our feet on this difficult path. Some would have us lay down our arms and seek peace in these foreign lands. So who is the master of your feet? Who set your feet on the path you now bestride? You are, every one, the masters of your own feet.

    I do not command feet! I command men, as did my father before me!

    And for me, it will be god's will above all. If your feet take you along another path, slink down it you coward, dragging your belly in the dirt! For us men, us sons of Vikings, we will walk the path that God and King have set for us until we find it's end!"

    The men roared as King Charles dismissed them from the gathering, in the middle of the road to Dijon. Word of the death of King Knud arrived only a few hours ago, along with my father's journal and a sack of Spanish coin. The most striking thing about the book was how many empty pages wait for me in it. I mourn my father, but I also hope someday to find so valiant an end.

    King Charles had already assumed the mantle of leadership at the encouragement of the noble council some years ago, but now it was firmly in his hands. He dismissed a claimant for his sister's hand immediately, and heard a Papal messenger soon after. The Pope had orderd a cessation of hostilities with Spain.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    I am not often privy to the King's thoughts, but it was clear that this message pleased him, I suppose because it offered him an overwhelming reason, supported by the old King's own words, to not take revenge for King Knud's death. We broke camp and reached the walls of Dijon later that day, setting a siege immediately.

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    A small force of Spaniards was reported near the flighty garrison of Zaragosa, but the King send word they were to hold there.

    Siege of Dijon, turn 30.

    Another suitor for the Princess, also turned away. King Charles, ever mindful of the Code of Chivalry, evaluated his force in siege of Dijon and determined to take most of it towards Milanese lands, which we would need to capture next. He left the new crown Prince, Sweyn, in command of a mixed scout cavalry and militia archer force with orders to sack the town.

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    Word came to us on the road south of Dijon that the new Prince performed admirably, though his voice failed him in his pre-battle speech. Rather than attack the enemy's heavily defended gate where towers could fire at them from every side, Sweyn ordered that holes be knocked in the walls along the closest axis and the scouts be sent in quickly to clear away enemy archers.

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    It was done, just so, and losses in the sack of the town were few. Prince Sweyn has decided to name his guard the Red Hawks, they were fleet afoot this day and earned their name.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Added to the florins from Zaragosa the treasury was, at last, solvent. The money would likely be needed, for we faced another negotiation with the French over Marseilles. Recognizing his victory, King Charles sent a veteran warrior to watch over Prince Sweyn and keep the line of succession safe.

    As it turned out the French were quite anxious to have Bordeaux, and putting Zaragosa into the deal earned us a few florins beside. Marseilles was ours!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The King's sister then negotiated a ceasefire and a wife for Prince Sweyn out of the shocked Spanish as they watched the French investiture of Zaragosa. So hungry were they for peace, that they paid us some 2,000 florins for it and a husband for their daughter. Relations were poor, but we left an ally and a trading partner behind us all the same. Sycophants at the court were quick to crow over King Charles' clever coup.

    On the road to Northern Italy, turn 31.

    Prince Sweyn met his new wife for the first time. Reports have it that he is quite taken with her. Fresh troops are sent from Toulouse to Marseilles, passing the old French garrison on the road. Confused Spanish forces gather outside French Zaragosa as our garrison departs, and a diplomat is dispatched to speak to the Milanese about the surrender of Genoa.

    Northern Italy, turn 32.

    The Council has asked that we make entreaties to the Turks, they are anxious to know what lies on the road ahead of us. For myself, I am more concerned about the Milanese. We have few florins to offer them, and they are notoriously tight fisted about giving up any possible advantage. We offer them everything we have to avoid a war, and they send us away empty handed.

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    Our spy slips into Genoa, and discovers their Duke commands it with a light garrison. It will soon be ours.

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    Northern Italy, turn 33.

    A daughter is born to crown Prince Sweyn. King Charles is heard to wonder aloud if Odin's plague of daughters on his line hadn't yet passed. The King and his spy determine that, after Genoa, Milan will be our next target, and a tough nut to crack. A ballista is ordered to the front to aid it that coming siege.

    Besieging Genoa, turn 34.

    Genoa was seemingly taken by surprise at our attack, as only their Duke was within the walls when we arrived. An army heavy on infantry sets to work building ladders and rams, while the Milanese dispatch reinforcements from their capital to aid the city. Our own reinforcements, including the ballista, stop just short of the city as well.

    Word reaches us that Emperor Henry of the Holy Roman Empire, husband of King Charles' own sister, has discarded our alliance to maintain his friendship with Milan. Dark tidings indeed!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Trade rights and maps are exchanged with the Hungarians, filling out our view of eastern Europe.

    Near Genoa, end of turn 34.

    Milan has sent a force of crossbowmen backed by spears to block our reinforcement of the siege of Genoa. The King watches the battle from a hill west of Genoa, but determines not to lift the siege to intervene.

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    Our ballista crew cracks jokes about everything being much smaller in Milan as they catch sight of the Milanese crossbows for the first time.

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    Our cavalry ride out to either side as our spearmen rush forward. They all meet in the middle, on the hill chosen by the Milanese captain.

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    That same captain flees for his life afterward, the last man of Milan left standing on the field.

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    Milan paid their ransom, so the captives were released and crept across the border towards their capital. After the battle word reached us of a horrific act of treachery by the French. They've sieged us with a vastly superior force at Dijon under a captain named Godfrey.

    Sieges of Genoa and Dijon, turn 35.

    King Charles debates a night attack, but decides that it is unecessary as the Duke will hardly dismount his men and set them on the walls.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The King has high hopes of capturing the Duke of Milan alive, so he brings his whole force to the battle. In this case chivalry seems to dictate both showing respect to the enemy and striving to keep him in good health to be ransomed.

    In the field outside the city we once again ride down those same crossbowmen and spearmen we had just ransomed. Their masters will not be pleased to buy them back a second time. King Charles' Gray Wolves sound the charge of the new King's guard for the first time against them.

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    In the city a taste of fire tipped arrows drives the Duke from the square, where our men surround him and dismember his personal guard. When he is finally pulled from his horse he begs for his life, and swears that his nation will pay a King's ransom for his head to stay on his shoulders.

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    He is correct, they pay. King Charles is delighted to accept!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    King Charles, after suffering a nasty scrape on his knuckles in the battle for Genoa, recruits a shieldbearer to stay by his side. Fortunately it is not I who is tasked such work.

    In accordance with our mandate, negotiations are entered with Venice to secure Bologna in exchange for our western cities. After much wrangling, and quite a bit of our new coins thrown in for good measure, a deal is reached.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    We have agreed to attack the single unit of rebel peasants parked outside the city, and (In due course) the Byzantines, Venice's current enemy. The peasants are not expected to cause any trouble, so we send the newly mustered town militia after them. The town milita broke, and reported a loss with light casualties. A unit of spear militia is sent to 'mop up' the remaining peasants. The peasants slaughter them almost to a man, on a featureless plain with the spearmen fighting downhill no less.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


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    No more attacks are sent for now, for fear of disorder in Bologna.

    Meanwhile, Prince Sweyn determines to sally out against the traitorous French. He vows to leave none alive.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our two full units of Scouts and the Red Hawks ride out quickly, with the Scouts looping in behind the enemy to catch routing units and stragglers while the Prince's guard charges straight for the enemy's archers. By the time the French have carfully arrayed their men in neat formations, well back from the walls, the Red Hawks' charge is already upon the hapless militia bowmen.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    They break, and are scooped up by the scouts to the French rear. Another unit of archers, shrunken from some previous campaign, gets the same treatment when they venture away from the French lines.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Prince Sweyn was now able to bring his own archers forward to fire at the enemy infantry with impunity. This brought a quick response from the Mercenary Frankish Knights the French had brought. One unit of them chased after our much faster scouts in futile anger, while the other attempted to charge our archers. The Red Hawks met them with a charge of their own, and sent them reeling. A few quick moments of combat, and 30 dead knights littered the field while the rest fled. One unit of scouts interecepted the fleeing mercenaries, but in a stroke of bad luck they rallied just as the scouts arrived. Those 10 knights held long enough for the other unit of mercenary knights to join the battle, but our second group of scouts rode in behind them to save their fellows.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    With the enemy's archers and knights routed and captured, the outcome of the battle was no longer in doubt. Leaderless French infantry marched across the field, drawn hither and thither, often looking over their shoulders just in time to catch the glint of a steel lance head descending on them from behind.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The Red Hawks were everywhere on the field, with scouts not far behind. Despite some innovative French tactics (Note the spearman jumping over the lance), there would be nothing for them today but death.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    In the end, the French managed to salvage twenty men from that bloody day, men to carry word of what happens when you betray Danish trust.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


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    Some 200 prisoners were executed after the battle, and their corpses dotted the trees for miles as a warning to any other Frenchmen who might think to take up arms in this countryside. Prince Sweyn does decide to abandon Dijon, leaving only a token garrison in place, so that such heroic efforts will not be needed again soon.

    One last matter of battle to deal with, as a few more Milanese reinforcements meant for Genoa are on the north border, and the King means to deal with them once and for all. He strikes out from freshly conquered Genoa and meets them on a wide plain near the river. The King brings a force roughly even in numbers to the battle, but far superior in valor.

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    The battle is unremarkable on a tree dotted plain, and the enemy are driven back.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    What is notable is that Milan refuses to pay ransom on these troops. Have they reached the bottom of their coffers, or were they simply not convinced these men were worth paying for? In any event King Charles camps not far from the walls of Milan with a substantial force and reinforcements arriving soon.

    Besieging Milan, turn 36.

    The Holy Roman Empire sends a demand for a small sum of florins, and threatens to attack if it is not granted. The King instructs that they be offered Dijon to sate their hunger for land in exchange for a few florins and a promise not to attack. The Emperor Henry will have quite a task holding that battered town if the French come again. Diplomatic contact is established with Turkey, including an exchange of maps. The Council's reward? They have longboats built behind King Charles' back. The King is not amused, and orders them sunk.

    The Pope is pleased that we have observed his commands with regard to Spain, and our diplomatic relations are generally excellent. Two units of spearmen are sent from Bologna to finish off those troublesome rebel peasants, no wonder the Venetians needed help with them! They cannily avoid major conflict, and slip away into the populace.

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    (To be continued)

  8. #8
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    The escape of a few Venetian peasants was but a minor inconvenience. The decision to be made now was whether to hold the siege against Milan and let our men build ladders and rams, or to go forward with only the single ballista team to smash the walls. The King determines to capture Milan immediately, and offer the enemy no chance to bring in reinforcements. Except for their Duke and his son the only troops within the walls are spearmen and crossbowmen. We attack under cover of darkness.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Leaving only a few peasant archers at the west gate, the King arrays his forces at the north gate hoping to surprise the enemy again. Indeed, the mass of the Milanese and their standard are at the west gate. The peasants are ordered to shoot arrows over the walls to try to hold that force there, and the enemy withdraws all his spearmen to the town square, sending down crossbowmen to engage our peasant archers.

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    Meanwhile the ballista fires a few shots at the gates, but they are inset within the walls and a difficult target. Though it will take more time, they insist the walls themselves make a better target.

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    By the time the walls are cracked the enemy has no crossbowmen in place (They are all at the west gate, firing down on our peasant archers) to support their spears, and our swordsmen pour into the gap and begin the slaughter.

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    The enemy Duke and his son charge forward, swinging the momentum back to the Milanese...

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    ...but this is precisely what King Charles was holding back the rest of his forces for. Under a barrage of burning arrows, with a freshly dropped section of wall to open a new front, the Gray Wolves lead the attack and drive the enemy back, shattered, to their sqaure. The fool Milanese crossbowmen are cut off and cut down as they flee for the square, leaving their fellows vulnerable to our arrows. Surrounded by Viking Raiders, their Duke is cut down, and the town is ours!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    With the Milanese cleared from our path and the coffers overflowing King Charles graciously releases the troops captured in the sack of Milan, and hopes for a restoration of peace with that nation. Prince Selwyn gathers all of our captain led forces in the field to prevent rebellion, and between turns the French offer us a ceasefire. For their treachery they are made to pay dearly before another alliance is inked.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Diplomatic contact is also established with the Sicilians, and maps are purchased. Finally an envoy from Milan reaches our shores and offers a ceasefire. In light of their much reduced stature in the world, they too are taxed heavily for peace and an alliance.

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    Northern Italy, turn 37.

    The Pope demands a cessation of hostilities with Milan. A messenger is sent immediately with documents demonstrating our already concluded ceasefire and alliance. The Council asks that we make contact with the Egyptians. Rumor has it that ours is the wealthiest faction in the known world. With the siege of Venice an inevitable battle on the horizon the construction of ballista is commissioned at the formerly Venetian city of Bologna and our spy is sent to scout their defenses.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Maps are purchased from the Moors to enhance our knowledge of the world.

    Near Venice, turn 38.

    Somehow the Venetians were informed of our intent to attack, that or they are better informed about our plans than our prior enemies have been, because they've launched a pre-emptive attack against Bologna. Even so, the diplomatic situation is overwhelmingly favorable.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    With our Cardinal aging, and the need for influence with the Pope so recently made obvious, new priests are being recruited in Genoa. They'll be essential for teaching the Muslims about their new lord once we reach the Holy Lands. The Venetian attack was obviously a hasty and ill prepared one. Our garrison of miltia troops at Bologna immediately sallies out with superior numbers and the only long range weapon on the field.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Determined to prove that their courage was in inverse proportion to their intelligence, the enemy's command bodygaurd stands their ground and is cut down by our ballista. Our own men watching the bolts fell horseman after horseman began to turn their faces aside and weep, but when the time came to clear the remaining Venetian spearmen off the field they matched the steel in their hands with the iron of their resolve. Brave fools, these men of Venice, but fools all the same.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 






    The captives from this battle were released, both out of respect for their courage and an hope that they spread the story, driving other Venetians to emulate that mad display of bravery. The war with Milan ended, a German princess is contacted about the resumption of an alliance in exchange for a sum of florins. Agnes the Man Hater proves a poor negotiator for Germany, but the alliance is concluded. In addition she is pressed into signing an agreement to attack the Venetians in exchange for her getting her own, just spent, florins back and our own inevitable attack against Venice. A large Venetian army is spotted heading north, and it is hoped the Germans can intercept them.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Some tough looking rebels pop to trouble Venice near Zagreb. Prince Selwyn take command of Milan, and notices that the Milanese built an excellent armourer in the town. Outfitting troops with the new armor is begun immediately. Contact with Egypt results in trade rights and the collection of map information. We now have at least spoken to every notable people in the known world.

    Near Venice, turn 39.

    Another Prince asks for the hand of Cecille, but is rejected. The council sent us a small sum of florins as reward for contacting Egypt, and immediately made a wildly unreasonable demand that we turn back and blockade the Venetian port of Marseilles. King Charles is heard to curse and ask why he didn't think to put the nobles on the longboats they'd gifted him and let them handle the blockade personally. A small force of Venetians is engaged near Venice by King Charles and a few hardly archers.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    As we open our attack under cover of darkness the enemy valiantly charges uphill against the peasant archers while the Gray Wolves ride behind them.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Scattered, demoralized, and lost in the darkness and woods the enemy is surrounded and broken by arrows and lances seemingly from every side.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 








    Again King Charles sends the enemy's men home to carry word of our power and valor. They bolster the garrison at Venice, but the word they carry of our coming will far outweigh any aid in arms they can provide. Enough soldiers for the siege are brought up, but the siege cannot yet begin.

    Besieging Venice, turn 40.

    The Papcy is gifted Genoa in the hopes that this will win a blind eye to our capture of Venice. Additionally this provides us a buffer between our current position and the towns we traded Venice for Bologna. The enemy also reinforces the garrison at Zagreb. Pleased with his success at Milan, the King determines to press the attack against Venice in all haste.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    An assault from the north and south with a distraction to hold their crossbowmen at the west gate is planned. The King takes his Gray Wolves north with some spearmen, Norse archers and a ballista, while our Huscarles and swordsmen make a quiet approach from the south, until the ballista can crush a hole in the walls.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The enemy again gathers in the square as our cavalry run down his crossbowmen.

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    While the swordsmen make their way up the southern streets archers are gathering to the west of the square and their arrows are set aflame. The men would later recount the beauty of the fire arrows arcing across the night sky, no doubt enhanced by the knowledge that each arrow might lighten their later work.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    In the end the enemy is beset on all sides and wiped out to a man. The smell of scorched horseflesh would take weeks to fade.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Hoping to maintain relatively cordial relations, the King releases the Venetian captives again. Word has it that he plans to attempt to negotiate for Zagreb rather than to take it by force. The King's reputation for chivalry is thus enhanced as well. Princess Cecille is commanded to begin negotiations for the eventual handover. Perhaps Milan will make a tempting prize.

  9. #9
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Venice, turn 41.

    Negotiations with the Venetians over Zagreb go poorly, as their demands are outrageous and unreasonable. Princess Cecille is ordered to move for Byzantine lands while Prince Sweyn begins gathering an army north of Venice for the capture of Zagreb. The garrison there is near full strength. Retraining proceeds apace at Milan and now Venice, where an accomplished blacksmith has been commissioned. Our furthest afield diplomat reaches Jerusalem at last, and discovers that for the nonce the garrison is light.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    North of Venice, turn 42.

    Cecille attracts another suitor, also turned away. King Charles may not confess it in public, but I know he still hopes for a son. Perhaps God will favor him, certainly Odin has turned his face from this matter. A second Danish spy infiltrates Zagreb, and sees a powerful force holding it.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Prince Sweyn has gathered a suitable Danish response.



    West of Zagreb, turn 43.

    Scouting further down the coast it is discovered that the Venetian fortress at Ragusa is poorly held, and their village at Durazzo is little more than a wide place in the road. If Zagreb can be captured the remaining Venetian holdings will certainly fall. With most of our forces down to retrain, there is little astir. My wife has borne twin boys for me, I brought them captured banners from Milan and France for their blankets. I greatly regret that it won't be the Gray Wolves riding to battle at Zagreb, but Prince Sweyn has proven his worth in the field.

    Siege of Zagreb, turn 44.

    Sitting in Venice with little to do but oversee the effort to outfit our old troops with fresh armor, the King has been presented with a fine new suit for himself. It is truly a marvel of protection, but wasting away here within the walls it will never see use! I can feel our armies growing frail here as the years pass, and I cannot help but worry that the King's will to complete our quest may be waning as his worry for producing a true heir waxes. The Pope is pleased that we have kept the peace with Milan. As if the people of Zagreb needed more warning, our attempt to introduce a third spy to their city was uncovered and the man was killed. Prince Sweyn determines to attack in some haste so as to preserve the two spies already in place.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 






    For the assault the Prince copied King Charles' now classic strategy from Milan and Venice, attacking at dawn with archers at the main gates, a small attack force with ballista to the south, and the Prince's own men and two catapults to the north. The enemy was ill prepared for our catapults, and had spearmen on the walls as though we'd brought ladders to this fight. Their error was soon revealed to them.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    At the west gate our Norse Archers got word that spies had opened the gates, and the walls were held only by a single spear unit. The archers charged into the first bright glints of sunlight, drawing swords for the bloody battle to come.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    While they fought the catapults finally dropped a section of Zagreb's walls northern walls, and the ballista accomplished the same to the south.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Venetian cavalry rode to assist their spearmen by the west gate, putting a bit of doubt into the Norse Archers there. As he charged to the aid of our archers by the west gate, Prince Sweyn orderd the catapults into the walls, under cover of a Huscarl cavalry screen to either side of the breach. The Venetian response was quick, almost catching our catapult crews unaware.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 






    Just as they began their charge against the fleeing catapults, with the massive engines blocking the gate, our Huscarl cavalry crashed into them from both sides, breaking them instantly. The Venetian spearmen were ridden down to a man, and the catapults began their slow roll back inside the walls.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    A fierce battle developed on the western streets between the Red Hawks and the enemy cavalry, with arrows and bolts whizzing overhead in a constant stream. Just as the enemy cavalry broke, a gap opened in their ranks, exposing Prince Sweyn to a devestating volley of crossbow bolts. He tumbled from his saddle, and a wail went up from the Prince's guard.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    They chased the fleeing cavalry, smashed the crossbowmen who had slain their lord, and mad with battle lust charged alone into the enemy's town square.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Calls to charge in support of the Red Hawks echoed down the streets of Zagreb as careful positioning of the ballistae and catapults was forgotten in the rush to spill Venetian blood. Our spearmen, who had safeguarded the south gate all this time, were the first to arrive in aid of the Red Hawks. As they charged down the street they saw a doughty Hawk cut down the enemy commander, though surrounded by spears on all sides. Their charge proved hasty, however, as reinforcements did not arrive in time. As their blood rage ran down and the true situation began to penetrate their heads the Red Hawks' courage faltered, and the few remaining men in the Prince's guard fled for the hills, never to be seen again. The spearmen too turned their backs to the fight and fled.

    As the battle hung in the balance our Huscarls completed their run to the enemy's rear and charged, just in time with the arrival of the swordsmen and archers at the melee. The enemy was surrounded and butchered to a man before the sun crested the hills west of Zagreb. No surrender was accepted.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    With no general to reign them in, the soldiers of Prince Sweyn's command took revenge on the locals and burned much of the city, putting some thousands of it's citizens to the sword. A Venetian army to the north watched as Zagreb went up in flames.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The King, on hearing the news, is terribly distraught. Rumors resurface among the troops of Sweyn's odd rise to adoption, and the King's childless wife. He immediately departs Venice and begins gathering a force along the road to Zagreb to relieve the grieving troops there.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    King Charles considers the civilian massacre at Zagreb a disgrace, and the loss of his adopted heir intolerable. In this light Princess Cecille is recalled to reopen negotiations with the Venetians. After much wrangling and the exchange of a large sum of coin a deal is reached which brings peace, and hopefully a final seperation of our two peoples. Bologna is returned to Venice in exchange for Ragusa and Durazzo. Our road to Jerusalem got a little easier, and a fortress for further retraining our elite troops has been secured.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The Venetians entrust Durazzo to mercenaries in our name. They are sent packing, with taxes set to near nothing to appease the few peasants in this crude village, and reinforcements begin making their way south from Ragusa and Zagreb to hold the town.

    On the road to Zagreb, turn 45.

    Once again documents must be sent to the Pope reassuring his Holiness that our hostilities with Venice are at an end. Additionally it is learned that our allies, the English, have been excommunicated. Another daughter of old King Knud, Vemy, has come of age. She is set to work seeking an improved relationship with the Papacy. Zagreb is little more than a burned out husk of a town, a waystation on the road to Ragusa, our new center of operations. The two Venetian forces encamped nearby worry the King a bit, since the fortress is held only by the conscripts Venice herself left there for us, but there is little to do but speed along the road.

    On the road to Zagreb, turn 46.

    A Venetian army momentarily blocks the route to Zagreb, but their men that abandoned Ragusa still head north, away from our weakly held new lands, so peaceful intent is presumed. The King waits for them to clear the road before proceeding. Retraining of spearmen in Milan and Venice is nearly complete, and crossbowmen begin training there.

    Near Zagreb, turn 47.

    King Charles has brought almost all of our troops of quality over the pass out of Itlay, only militia troops hold Milan and Venice now. Milan declares war on the Papacy, and so our alliance with the former is dissolved. Milan and Sicily are both excommunicated. Our Cardinal, our sole voice in Papal elections, passes away peacefully. Cardinal Halstan was dutiful in service to King and God, his passing is much lamented. Many of the men who perpetrated the massacre at Zagreb are now being retrained at Ragusa. A spy scouts the Hungarian fortress at Sofia, and the King is much impressed. Princess Cecille is sent north with the idea of wooing the commander there, Istvan.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Zagreb, turn 48.

    A son! A son for King Charles! The boy was born in a tent northwest of Zagreb, to much rejoicing and not a little disbelief. At Zagreb a parade was organized, the locals were dispirited but the soldiers made up for their lack as they trooped past the King holding his newborn son in his own arms.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    He is given the name Emund. My sons, though still unable to even hold a real sword, are sworn to his service by my hand in a secret ceremony. In private the King is heard to wonder if Prince Sweyn was the sacrifice necessary to appease Odin's wrath and lift the curse on his line.

    The Pope has commanded that the numbers of the faithful be increased around Durazzo, and our priests are sent south to accomplish this. Reducing the garrison at Zagreb to a few spearmen, the King sets out for Ragusa with his new son in tow. The cursed peasants that the Venetians begged our help with so many years ago have returned, blocking the very bridge to Venice herself. As a test of their mettle, a unit of Crossbowmen are sent to engage the peasants.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    These peasants are fearless, and charge directly into a hail of bolts.



    Though their losses are stiff, they prove resilient. A single man from our crossbow unit returns to Venice to tell the tale, compulsively muttering 'the pitchforks, the pitchforks, the rising and falling of the pitchforks...'

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    He is discharged from service and sent to retirement in the hills. A freshly armored unit of militia spearmen is sent to handle the peasants, but as before they avoid pitched battle when weakened and the core melts away into the local peasantry.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Near Ragusa, turn 49.

    Sensing a change in the power dynamic with the birth of Emund the council of nobles puts forward a candidate for adoption. The King dismisses him with a snort. Pope Gregory calls a Crusade for Tunis. Though relieved the target is not Jerusalem, the King still cannot bring us to participate, and an explanation is sent for the Pope. On the road to Rome our messenger gets word that the Pope died the very same day he called the crusade, and matters are somewhat in flux there. A new Pope, named Gaitanus is elected, without Danish input, and our allies the English are reconciled. One of our spies is scouting Thessalonica, the next town on our route. The Hungarians contact us to sue for an alliance, and the King asks that the fortress at Sofia be turned over to Danish control in exchange. To his surprise, the Hungarians agree.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Ragusa, turn 50.

    Sofia is a wonderous fortress, and mighty troops can be trained there. An agent of the King orders that training proceed at full speed in preparation for the battles to come. Another noble suitor is rejected for Cecille, who is recalled from the road to Sofia to negotiate with the Byzantines. We offer them two towns and a King's ransom for Thessalonica, but they reject the offer. In exchange, we reduce the offer greatly and trade for the castle at Corinth. This secures our flank for the inevitable capture of Thessalonica and Constantinople.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Leaving the castle the best the Byzantines can raise to hold it for us is five pairs of ballista. On news of the trade our relations with Byzantium are very good. Two large crusading armies encamp near Venice, which is loosely held by militia spearmen and the richest land in our current holdings. The King prays that their crusade goes as planned, south.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    East of Ragusa, turn 51.

    The King decides to take his best troops and head for Thessalonica, hoping to draw some cavalry from Sofia when the time is right. The council presses their case again, asking that the King adopt one of their number to be his heir. King Charles is furious when they present him with Gustav Jarl, who has demonstrated little loyalty to the throne in a career primarily noted for the size of his graft collected to date. The man is sent packing. Back near Venice little princess Vemy, out of the King's sight, determines to marry into the German nobility like her sister before her. She selects the commander of the brave crusaders at the gates of Venice. To everyone's surprise her new husband, Leopold insists that he be adopted into her family instead, and so a new heir is introduced after all.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    King Charles moves beyond mere fury at the news. Leopold is reputed to be a brute of a man, with little care for loyalty or chivalry and an ill reputation. In addition he has sent his new wife to live on his estates in Germany, seemingly as a public hostage against King Charles' ill will. Armies cannot be turned back to regain the Princess, no can anyone here in the south be quite certain how this Leopold effected his bold power grab. The King determines to test Leopold's loyalty as soon as possible, while only a crude militia army and a soon to be surrendered city are within his grasp.

  10. #10
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Continuing turn 51.

    Gradually a story is coming together that seems to explain the curious events surrounding Venice. The Germans moved their army of 'crusaders' onto the bridge at Venice, and there has been no word out of the city since. With Odin's prohibition on ships so firmly ingrained in the men of our armies, and the bridge held by an immense German force, there is no way for a messenger to reach us. Rumor has it that this Leopold scooped up a few noblemen and the Princess Vemy from the surrounding area, and took them to private chambers. These councilmen, already deeply concerned by the birth of Prince Emund, bowed to Leopold wishes and consented to witness his marriage to Vemy as valid. The remaining nobles will no doubt fall in line behind any scheme to hold their grip on power. Vemy is wed and carried away to Germany within a week. This Leopold is a disreputable sort, cruel, ignorant, drunken, unjust, and with a different woman in every town. Meanwhile the 'crusaders' remain camped on the bridge, under the command of one of his German cronies.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    This is a great indignity, a crime against our King and our country, but the mandate of Odin forces our hand. The matter must be borne for now, but letters are sent to the Emporer Henry and the Empress, the King's sister. Though the messengers must ride by way of roads through southern Germany, where Leopold holds sway, eventually one will get through. Meanwhile we turn our attention to Thessalonica, and then the great city of Constantinople. Ballistae are sent east from Durazzo to make for the walls of Thessalonica, and Feudal Knights, mounted and dismounted, are trained at Sofia.

    Road east of Ragusa, turn 52.

    Despite having effected this power play with Leopold, the council continues to put forward their sons for adoption into the royal family. A Jens of Sikrum, though a fine man in his own right, is sent packing because of who pulls his strings. The Pope is please that we have kept the peace with the Venetians. Leopold is spotted north of Zagreb, riding hard to the east. King Charles sends a trusted administrator to Sofia, hoping to keep it at least as a bulwark against any darker act of rebellion. The artillery from the capture of Zagreb, two catapults and two ballistae are also on the same road, but though the King ordered them brought to the front it isn't clear whose command they are actually under. Our spies report that Thessalonica is held by a single Byzantine general.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Between Durazzo and Thessalonica, turn 53.

    Again the council sends a young noble to the King, hat in hand, to ask promotion into the royal family. Again he is faultless in his own right, but King Charles sends him away without even a viewing. The King's mother passes away peacefully in a carriage by the road south of Zagreb. They had been estranged since the old King passed from power and went into Spain, but King Charles is still grief stricken. The army moves east, into Byzantine territory. Reinforcements from Corinth are moving towards Thessalonica, but the King is unconcerned. He sends Princess Cecille to Constantinople to negotiate for the surrender of Thessalonica into our hands.

    Siege of Thessalonica, turn 54.

    Negotiations fail, Thessalonica is either too rich a town, or the Byzantines think they can hold it against us with only a single unit of cavalry. It is madness. Additionally one of the eldest of the nobles has the effrontery to offer himself as a husband for Princess Cecille. He is sent away without an audience, and word is passed back to slow the carraiges bringing the nobility to the front with 'accidents.' I suspect King Charles would speak with Leopold, who now styles himself 'Prince' Leopold under the authority of the council, when the man's supporters are far back along the road. Still no word out of Venice. After all these years, I myself count the men we left there among the dead. Some finely trained archers, sons of true Danes who fought by King Knud's side at Hamburg will never fight under a Danish banner again. Hundreds of spearmen, and some freshly trained crossbowmen too are gone. We may never know the full truth of what happened there in Italy, but I hope some day I or my sons see that city again.

    Thessalonica is not reinforced by the Byzantines, the men we though were tasked to that purpose move into the hills south of our encampment. Whether they mean to rebel, attack our camp, or head for Durazzo they will have to wait until Thessalonica is captured.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    King Charles, ever chivalrous, sends a small force against the city.



    The ballista rolls right up to the unmanned gates, and blasts them aside.



    Our spearmen draw the enemy's bodyguard out of the town square to the west, while our archers occupy the square from the east and fire arrows into the enemy's backs.





    The spearmen sell their lives dearly to drag down the heavy cavalry, and eventually General Olaskos is run through, last of the defending Byzantines.









    Near ten thousand florins are taken from the capture of the city. There are no prisoners. A Danish spy spots a small army west of Constantinople, and our fresh mounted Feudal knights are eager to bring them to battle.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 






    The enemy refuses to pay their ransom. Our fortress at Sofia begins training Norse Axemen. No doubt they will be needed at Constantinpole. In the hills, King Charles declines to take the Gray Wolves against so weak and badly led a force, so he send his most trusted captain, a man named Sighvat, to manage the battle. The King and I rode out to observe the battle from a hillside north of the field, ready to call in reinforcements should Captain Sighvat be forced to withdraw.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our men arrayed themselve on a snow strewn hilltop, with sporadic tree cover on our left flank concealing our swordsmen.



    The enemy horse archers speed ahead of their main line to give battle uphill, and they take the worst of it despite the unusual tactic of riding in a circle to throw off our men's aim.



    Our hardy Norse Archers adapt quickly and sow slaughter among the enemy horse with precise massed fire.



    The Byzantine response is deadly, as their ballista opens fire from under the trees with flame tipped spears the length of a wagon axle to cover the charge of their infantry.







    Captain Sighvat wisely gives the order to counter charge, hoping the enemy ballista will hold it's fire for fear of impaling their own men in the melee. Simultaneously he signals the swordsmen concealed in the trees to deal with the enemy ballista.



    Those ballista men proved their courage, firing a last brace of bolts directly over the heads of the swordsmen who then destroyed them. Fortunately those bolts shot high, likely because the enemy feared hitting his own men.





    The Byzantines rout quickly without the ballista to cover their uphill attack.



    Afterward Captain Sigvhat orders the prisoners released. The King seeing this, turned to me and said, "I will need men like him as allies against the council and that German beast. This battle proved his courage, his wit, and his chivalry. In the past he has taken money from the nobles, though for what reason I do not know. Still, I have no better candidate that I can afford to send from my side."

    As King Charles pauses to contemplate, I nod my understanding of what is to come.

    "Bring him to me," the King commands.

    A patent of nobility is drawn up while I fetch Captain Sighvat from the field. In front of the gathered might of nearly our nation's entire army Sir Sighvat is knighted and adopted into the royal family. In his speech the King implies that with courage, strength, and victory any other man in his service might see the same. I cannot speak for our garrisons elsewhere, but for these men, these great sons of Vikings, they are true to King Charles and woe be to 'Prince' Leopold if he should seek to test their loyalty.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Later that evening a messenger arrived out of the north, dust covered and weary he immediately presented the King with a letter bearing the Imperial crest of the Holy Roman Empire.

    (split post for image limit)

  11. #11
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Near Thessalonica, turn 55.

    Another noble son comes to call on the King, begging the hand of his sister. Again the young nobleman rides away in a huff, not having been granted a chance to press his case in person. The Feudal Knights rampaging west of Constantinople catch another small force in the mist covered hills, and press the attack.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The enemy arrays his ballista behind his spearmen, making it near certain they will see no work but dying today. When the front spearmen spot our banners emerging from the mist, they charge, while their commander sits back to watch with his own unit of spears around him.



    They are run down and trampled under, a brief impediment to the momentum of our the Knight's downhill charge.



    Our captain rides around the inital engagement, seeking their captain.



    The enemy are braced and ready, but captain Grim leads the charge personally.



    Behind them, their ballista crews are lanced.



    When the last man from the initial spear unit falls, those men who led the charge move around behind the enemy captain. His courage fails him, and his men break to flee.



    They don't get far.





    Captain Grim has hopes of following in Captain Sighvat's footsteps, no doubt, but the Feudal Knights are new to King Charles' service, and without the King himself present the matter will not be handled today. Instead Captain Grim boldly leads his men across the straits and is the first of the Danes to pass into eastern lands.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Sir Sighvat and King Charles ride for Constantinople, catching up to a few small enemy forces along the way.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The disorganized enemy reinforcements are set to flight before they can reach the main Byzantine force. One good charge from the Gray Wolves destroys them!



    Unfortunately in the melee an errant swing from King Charles kills my horse as I ride in my accustomed spot to his right. (The King's sword runs right through the eyes of the horse next to him.)



    Leudaan was a good steed and had a clean death, falling to the earth without throwing or trapping me, but before he rides off for the rest of the enemy force the King swears to replace her from his personal stock. I sit, unhorsed but uninjured, on a hillside to watch main engagement. The enemy commands a slight hill of their own, and has a few fast horse archers on the flanks, but their spearmen look affrighted from watching their reinforcements fall so hard, so fast.



    The Gray wolves charge the enemy right, while the Huscarls sweep their left. A small spear unit is obliterated instantly.





    This draws the enemy captain's own unit of horse archers to charge the Gray Wolves, in a mad display of confidence.



    Wheeling quickly, the Gray Wolves carve them up. The King himself smashes their captain to the ground as he rides by.



    Hoping to save their captain, the enemy's last spears charge the Gray Wolves' rear. Again the Wolves whirl around to engage in a melee with no room for a charge.



    Our Huscarls, having completed their sweep and driven off another small group of horse archers, find the enemy spearmen's rear exposed and hammer them against the anvil of the Gray Wolves.





    The battle is hardly worthy of note, had it not been for the King's accidental swing. Much ale will pass over that story in the nights to come. The prisoners are released, and we ride out again immediately. I borrow a steed from the replacement pool with the baggage train, and ride hard to make it back for our second battle of the day.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Here we discover why the Byzantines have attempted to defend these valleys at all, a large, abandoned cathedral. It was not marked on our maps, and it may be a shrine of some sort. Though we ride up to examine the building, the King commands that no man enter it on the eve of battle, and we ride away to find the enemy.





    Nearby the main enemy force is perched high on a hillside. We make for them, and the Huscarls are sent against the very light reinforcements making their way onto the field.



    The enemy is well positioned and braced, awaiting our charge, but we are the Gray Wolves! We shatter their formation riding hard up the hill and ride over them.









    Enemy ballistae struggle to pivot around and target the King, but the crews are terrified by what they've just witnessed, and we ride them down as well before they fire a single shot.



    Then we chase the enemy horse archers up the hill and break them with one charge.





    Another battle of little note, but for the fact that the prisoners we release spread word that King Charles is a cruel, unrelenting warrior. Not the reputation the King expected to gain from coming to the field with minimal forces, but a reputation is a tricky thing.

    Hoping still for peaceful relations after we've taken what we need from the Byzantines, Princess Cecille is orderd to offer them the city of Venice as a gift. They accept, and we're sent word from our diplomat that they invest the city from the sea despite the Germans loitering on the bridge. Of the men we left behind there, no word ever reaches us. They vanish into the annals of intrigue between nations.

    West of Constantinople, turn 56.

    New noble son presented, same result. If nothing else, the council is succeeding in alienating the younger generation of nobles from their King. A diplomat near Zagreb reports seeing the mercenary garrison the Byzantines had hired for Venice all the way over at the border of our two nations. King Charles curses and wonders aloud if the Germans and Byzantines are somehow in league together against us. How else could that garrison have passed the crusader held bridge? And what are they doing camped on the border?

    To date our travels have been through Catholic lands almost exclusively, and so churches and places of worship have been plentiful in the cities we capture. Now though, as we move from Orthodox lands into Muslim lands we will increasingly have to put up our own churches. With that in mind, King Charles commissions the construction of churches in all Danish lands that do not contain one. Corinth, isolated as it is, is ordered to dismantle training facilities for florins to build churches.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our spies glimpse the garrison at Constantinople, and are impressed by the quantity of Byzantine heavy infantry.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Princess Cecille, after many hard years on the road, has seen some decline in her charms. Even so, she will make a fine wife, and King Charles decides that Sir Sighvat will serve best if he is cemented firmly to the royal line. The marriage is arranged, but purposeful, and both parties involved can see the reasoning. Despite being a wedding in the field, the King manages to concoct fine surroundings under an immense silk tent. All the troops enjoy three days of feasting and drinking in celebration.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 






    More small Byzantine forces are swept from the area in battles too small to recount. Captains Grim and Magnus each press their case for adoption, but are refused graciously. The King's guard rides out to smash the last significant resistance before the walls of Constantinople.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The enemy claimed the very edge of a vast cliff, while we had to race our way up a near verticle facing covered in slick grass.



    Victory was never in doubt, however, and the enemy turned tail in terror at the first sight of our banner, abandoning the high ground.



    We rode over them, and took no losses. (Forgot the ss for the first time!)


    Leopold is spotted in the area, and we watch as he catches a force of rebels on a hillside west of our camp.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The rebel archers are the first to taste steel and flee.



    Rebel spearmen, badly led, follow them to an unmarked grave.





    Following the battle King Charles sends for 'Prince' Leopold to enter his camp alone for a discussion. Leopold comes into camp alone with his head held high and an arrogant swagger. I offer to escort him before the King. He asks me "Have they told him yet," but I have nothing to say to the man. He curses the door sentry and kicks the cloak boy out of his way before entering the King's tent, still armed. Sneering, he comes into King Charles' presence and sprawls out in a chair looking around as though he expected someone else to be here.

    Before he can speak the King stands at his desk, leans forward, and quietly says, "Looking for your noble allies? I know what they have promised you. I also know that your army of crusaders controlling the bridge to Venice have been recalled." Voice rising, King Charles continued, "Furthermore, I know that none of my men at arms have come to your call." Here the King tosses a packet of stained letters onto the table. Leopold's slouch increasingly takes on the feel of a slump. "And more than that, I know that your Emporer has repudiated you, your own father has cursed your name, and your holdings Bavaria have been siezed in the name of the Empire!"

    King Charles throws one more letter onto the table, with the Imperial seal of the Holy Roman Empire at it's foot. Gray faced, Leopold begins to stutter out something, but once again the King speaks, "I do not know what lies you told the Council to convince them that this mad scheme could pay out for them, but that doesn't matter now. In a matter of hours I expect your wife to arrive here. Before she does I will have your oath to serve the crown, or I will have your head. There is no council here, nowhere left to run, and nothing for you but service to King and country."

    Sitting back, King Charles graciously allows Leopold a moment to compose himself. "My, my, my wi... and, my... my head?" Silently Leopold slips from his chair to his knees. He looks old, old beyond his fifty years. Placing his hands on the ground the 'Prince' bows his head and swears fealty to King Charles to his last breath.

    After Leopold departs, King Charles hangs his head and is heard to mutter, "So am I repaid in turn for my usurpation of my father's crown and kingdom. Only good fortune saved our people from utter disaster and servitude to a foreign brute."

    Some months later, assured of his grip on Leopold, if not the man's genuine loyalty, King Charles assigns him a command and orders him to move to hold the crossing west of Constantinople.

  12. #12
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Closing on Constantinople, turn 57.

    Again the Council sends their man before the King seeking adoption, and again he is sent off. A daughter, Hallotta, is born to Sighvat and Cecille. With Leopold holding one crossing and the great city herself sitting astride the other the King feels confident of our approach. A spy is sent to infiltrate the immense, sprawling city of Constantinople while our army camps on the road just outside the walls. King Charles is cautious; Constantinople is reputed to be the greatest city in the whole of Europe, if not the world. We have not yet laid siege, but all traffic out of the west passes through our hands before it reaches the city.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Besieging Constantinople, turn 58.

    The noble council is assembling once again at Thessalonica after a very effective campaign to disorganize their efforts. They send a young cousin of the King to beg adoption, but King Charles is unmoved and sends the boy away. Guildsmen from the Swordsmith's guild approach us about putting a guildhouse at Sofia, and the offer is sorely tempting but turned down. The Pope sends word of his disappointment that we failed to crusade for Tunis. A delicately worded letter is sent in apology. We trade maps with the Portuguese, and while checking the garrison at Nicaea spot a strong army of potential reinforcements for Constantinople. It is hoped that our artillery will arrive before that Byzantine army.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    To discourage any potential reinforcement of Constantinople, Leopold crosses the straits and makes for Nicaea. As usual, his arrogant letters leave the impression that he could charge forward and capture the city unaided. To further dissuade the enemy from attempting reinforcement, the King orders a siege set around Constantinople from the south, where we can control the crossing as well as contain the city. There will not, however, be an assault without better engines than the men can cobble together from trees. Engineers estimate that if the soldiers inside don't sally they can hold for 20 years or more. In a bit of good news our spy sends word that the commander of the city's defense is a sickly man, subject to visions and introversion.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Besieging Constantinople, turn 59.

    A handsome young man, scarred by some quarrel with highwaymen, is the next attempt of the council. He bears a resemblance to the long passed Prince Sweyn that cannot be a coincidence, and my estimation of the nobility's collective cunning rises. It would seem the nobles have gathered at Thessalonica to plot and scheme; it can only be hoped that they soon fall to squabbling amongst themselves over the rich taxes levied from Thessalonica's trade.

    One of the King's men watching Leopold reports that the fool has taken a pagan who claims to be a warlock into his inner circle. Our English allies are excommunicated again, and sign an alliance with the Pope's other foe, Sicily. It may be necessary to cut ties there. Fresh Russian maps are aquired. Rear garrisons at Zagreb, Ragusa, Durazzo, and Corinth are reduced to a bare minimum as men are called forward. A spy creeps into Nicaea, and discovers it is held by the eastern Roman's Emperor himself.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Leopold's crossing has worked perfectly, the men we suspected would reinforce Constantinople move to block him instead, and he brings them to battle west of Nicaea.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Leopold comes on them at dusk as they command a sloping hillside, flanked by horse archers on the nearby farmland. With a snarl Leopold orders his Huscarls to isolate the horse from the main force, and sends infantry marching for a direct assault on the hill.



    When enemy arrows begin to fall amidst his personal guard, the Lions of Bavaria, Leopold is enraged and screams 'Charge!' His guard outpaces the infantry in his lust to reach the hilltop.



    With no heavy infantry to oppose the charge, and Leopold's Lions scattering his archers, the Byzantine captain first orders his men to abandon the hilltop and regain the advantage of range.



    Realzing his error, the man attempts to turn his force to retake their position, and discovers that the Lions have taken it, and are upon him!



    Leopold hung the Huscarls out too far, and they face arrows from both sides, but they also keep the enemy's only other cavalry at bay while our infantry close for bloody work. Having done their work of distraction, the huscarls abandon the fruitless chase and speed to the main engagement.



    As the Byzantine archers fall back from our charge, their spearmen quickly lose heart and rout, doing as much to break the heart of their captain's horsemen as the Lions butchering them from above.





    The fresh Huscarls chase enemy archers down a series of terraced hills, in an exhilarating ride that ends in utter defeat for Byzantium.





    Leopold, with an eye to discovering the financial situation of his enemy before sieging their Emperor, offers the prisoners for ransom and is refused. Rather than kill them cleanly, he makes a sport of slicing their hamstrings and throwing them into the sea west of Nicaea, swearing that any who swim out will win their freedom. When this source of entertainment is exhausted, Nicaea is besieged.

    The sieges of Constantinople and Nicaea, turn 60.

    Another, less handsome chap with much the features of Prince Sweyn arrives in our camp, and departs the same day. If nothing else, the nobility has been fruitful in producing sons during their years on the road. Our diplomat in western Europe taxes the French for a resumption of the alliance they once betrayed. General Sighvat arrives with our artillery under escort, and King Charles takes them into his own forces and begins the assault on the mighty city of Constantinople. Sighvat is excused from the battle and little Emund is given into his care to watch the attack from a safe distance. He's old enough now to comprehend basic strategy, and it's knowledge he'll need in the life to come.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    King Charles delivers a glorious speech in the dim, chill air before daybreak; full of pride, listing the cities we have taken and the armies we have sent into darkness, intoning our accomplishments without embellishing them or dismissing them as easy. "Our thirst has been slaked by the finest wines, the darkest grogs, and the most golden ales of all of western Europe!" When he lifts his sword to point over their heads, down the plain to what may be the greatest living city on earth rays of light burst over the distant mountains. "Tonight," he roars, "I will toast the fall of Constantinople! Who will drink with me?!" In one voice that must surely have echoed in down the dark streets of Rome's mightiest eastern city, the army bellow "I" This lust passes quickly, though, and discarding their ladders and rams, the men mutter amongst themselves in awe as we near the immense walls. They are like nothing we have seen before, beautiful, still, and deadly.



    We suspect the Byzatine general will array his stiffest defensive troops by the south gate, and we will meet them head on with our main body of dismounted feudal knights and axemen under the banner of the Gray Wolves. To the east a pair of knight units are supported by dismounted huscarls, raiders, and Norse archers with a ballista. To the west three sets of Norse swordsmen support another ballista. We open with a barrage from the catapults.



    Seeing those indomitable walls crack and heave apart brings a cheer from the men. When the first gap is opened, it's all King Charles can do to reign them in from a foolish charge.



    On the east side the ballista works to dismantle the gate, to the west a wall is the target. The engines need only time to do their destructive work.



    As time passes the King rides up and down the line, urging the men to hold their discipline. Finally when the catapults have broken three holes in the walls, and destroyed the only manned tower along this stretch, they are turned on the enemy infantry for a few shots while we wait for the engines on the other sides to do their jobs. The catapult men are new, and casualties among the enemy are few. The enemy general rides forward to encourage his men at the gap during the barrage.



    At last the order is given, and our men make for the gaps. On the other sides the assaults are still to come, in hopes that the enemy will pull troops to try to reinforce against our main push. The enemy right, in the direction they would retreat to the square, is badly positioned and our men outflank them.



    Then the assault begins. The knights are instructed to hold enemy's heavy infantry and spearmen in place while the axemen break their ranks. The enemy general seems surprised to be under attack, and his men sit back from the fighting in orderly rows.



    Byzatine horse archers race down from the square. Fearing they may come against the breech we hold to the enemy right from behind, King Charles leads the Gray Wolves inside the walls to beat them back. Seeing the King speed by, the enemy general at last sends his bodyguard into battle.



    King Charles and I are the tip of the spear thrust against a four times our numbers in Byzatine horse. Meanwhile, though his guard fights, our opponent's commander still sits back on his horse and waits.





    Watching our axemen carving apart heavily armoured men ahorse, the few fools left on the right flank of the enemy's hold point break and surrender.



    Enemy foot archers take to the walls by the gate, behind the battle. Knights are sent racing to deal with them before they can drop a shower of fire arrows onto our King.





    With his right flank shattered, the pocket begins to close against the enemy commander. Axemen and knights surround him, and he panics, causing his horse to rear and cast the poor fool out of the saddle. He is butchered without having swung his sword once.





    With his fall, the men at the gap realize they have no escape, and fight a grim struggle to the death until our axemen pull back and convince them a surrender will be respected.



    To the east and west the Byzantines start to withdraw from the walls in an orderly fashion, and our soldiers rush forward to trap them away from the square.





    By the south gate the Gray Wolves have cut their way through all the cavalry the enemy will send against us. We pursue the remnant up the street, towards the square and more enemy troops.



    Unfortunately, we are trapped there when their cavalry rallies and is aided by an ambush from spearmen and archers. Pinned against the building by spears, Wolves are felled like leaves. (I was watching the fight to the east with no HUD info and somehow a few scraggly spears, HA, and just one full unit of archers tore apart my King's bodyguard unit. Strange.)



    I look around, and suddenly King Charles and I are fighting alone! I bellow for the King to fly back to our dismounted knights, but he gives a laugh full of battle lust and carries on killing. I am suddenly glad Sir Sighvat did not join us here, as I lay about myself furiously.



    At just that moment the sunrise catches the King's gleaming red spattered armor. Still laughing nastily, King Charles snaps his sword back, throwing an arc of blood off the blade into the faces of the archers that have drawn back from him in terror. The men of Byzantium's spirit breaks, and half of them throw down their weapons and clutch desperately at my horse while they plead for their lives. The rest break for the town square, and the King rides among them, smashing in heads like a hero out of legend.







    Reaching the square, they discover that there is nowhere left to flee, and, already marked for death, they turn to resume battle with our commander. Fortunately hardy Knights and Norse axemen have charged to King Charles' aid.



    When a shower of fire arrows lands amid the red tide around him, King Charles recovers his wits enough to note that he was saved from immolation only because the man he'd been fighting was struck in the back instead.



    I ride in, and draw the King back down the road to check him for injuries he wouldn't have noticed taking during his berserk run. Meanwhile our men arrive at the square on all sides. The beleagured remains of the enemy army put up some resistance, but our numbers are vastly superior and carry the day. Constantinople, the ancient capital of the eastern Roman Empire, was ours!





    King Charles, gracious in victory and awestruck by the beauty and majesty of the city, releases the prisoners and commands the citizens be spared during the occupation. He swears an oath to see the walls repaired as though new before we leave. I wonder if we can manage so large a city without fear, but if what we seek is a place in history best if that place was not as the greatest despoilers of the final legacy of mighty Rome.

    (Siege of Nicaea soon to come)

  13. #13

    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Excellent work! Your gameplay idea is great, and the story is very well written. I really enjoy reading it. Can't wait for the next part.

    Just one question. Could You from time to time post a map of the world or at least map of the surroundings of Your Mobile Danish Empire? I keep loosing track of provinces you hold . It would be also interesting to see how your territory exchanges affect the balance of power in Europe.

    Anyway keep on good work.

    Btw. It is nice to see that in M2TW a lot of things can be done by using diplomacy.
    Black holes really suck.

  14. #14
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    (World map added at the end per excellent suggestion )

    Siege of Nicaea, continuing turn 60.

    Though he cannot see it himself, in the eyes of the world Leopold comes against a superior commander in Emperor John. The quality of the soldiers in his army, though, swings the balance of power in a distinctly Danish direction.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Leopold reports that he manned a ram at the west gates with peasant archers and sent them against the most heavily defended stretch of the enemy's walls, while to the south veteran Norse Archers comprised four ladder teams to quickly exploit any undefended walls there, and to the north militia spearmen pushed the ram against Nicaea's seaside gate.





    The peasants reached the west gate first, and the enemy sends reinforcements from the square to hold there. Lucky for our men the Emperor has not chosen to put archers on the wall enfilading the approach to the gate, and surprisingly few of them are lost before the gate breaks. Rather than charge through, the peasants line up along the wall to trade high angle fire with the garrison within.



    Meanwhile, to the north our spearmen break the gates and drive a wedge between the Byzantine spears within, holding them while Norse swordsmen are brought up to grind them against the walls.



    A runner makes haste for the square as our men gain control of the gate and prepare to bring more forces within the walls.



    At the west gate, a confused mass of Byzantine spearmen exit the broken gate, seeking to drive off the peasant archers hugging the walls. Leopold cannot resist charging them, and half their force is spitted and pinned to our abandoned ram.



    To the north our swords and spears are threatened by archers on horseback, and call for their own cavalry to drive back the threat. The Huscarls stream into the city and split up, with one group engaging directly while the other rides hard around the enemy pack, to hammer them from behind.







    Only our men ride out of that melee, and the whole northern army moves up towards the square.



    This causes Emperor John to withdraw all but one of the units holding the southern walls, and our Norse archers launch their part of the assault. They easily scale the ladders to trap and capture the remaining spearmen on the walls.



    A feint from the square causes our northern army to withdraw to a safer distance and regroup. When Leopold's group breaks into the city he immediately sends word for the northern Huscarls to ride to the east gate and approach the enemy's rear. Dead Byzantine spearmen have to be drug clear of the gates and piled on a street corner to make way for Leopold's men to move into the city.



    The Emperor John's remaining troops huddle in the square in a tight formation, but they do retain control of a ballista and John's powerful personal guard is fresh.



    The spearmen from the north square up their formation and attempt to bait the Emperor's heavy cavalry into an engagement. Ever predictable, the enemy charges, at which time our swordsmen reveal themselves and press through the ranks of spears to reach the Emperor.



    Arrow-bit enemy spearmen too are baited out of the square and broken by dismounted huscarls and raiders.



    Cowering under a tree by the east gate a unit of town militia is discovered and dispatched by our cavalry.



    Our northern wedge spits Emperor John's horse, and swordsmen hack off his sword arm as he lies, broken in the street. Men who were there that day swear that his screaming was louder than any sound that could come from a mere man, and it destroys the morale of his guard. All of them surrender then and there, begging to be allowed to aid their leader as he lies on the blood stained cobbles, crying out to God for succor.



    As the much reduced enemy army is pressed back into their square and surrounded the Emperor's mighty voice breaks at last and his screams cease to echo off the buildings. In short order, his once powerful army comes to an end as well.





    Nicaea is sacked for ten thousand florins as Leopold releases his men to vent their frustrations on the citizenry. The spy who was unable to open the gates of Nicaea proves his worth even so, and spots the entire remaining royal family of Byzantium near the crossing west of Nicaea. Leopold begs to be allowed to ride out and destroy their lineage, but King Charles denies him.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Instead we negotiate with the Byzantines for the surrender of Smyrna, their sole remaining castle in the east. In exchange we offer them enough land to form very nearly a new empire, if badly developed, and their new Emperor wisely insists that an alliance be part and parcel of the deal, secure in the knowledge that we have never attacked an ally.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Exchanging ill held and poor lands for a fresh castle and a cowed ally to cover our rear flank seems a wise choice on King Charles' part.

    Constantinople, turn 61.

    Princess Vemy gives birth to a daughter, Randve. Sighvat gathers the men from Constantinople that the King would have retrained and escorts them to Sofia. Churches are commissioned in all our new lands.

    Constantinople, turn 62.

    The Pope is pleased that we have finally converted most of the people of Durazzo to the Catholic faith. Our priests are sent east immediately. King Charles discovers that a network of Theives Guilds was worked into the fabric of every city and castle in the region, and orders their buildings burned to the ground immediately. A small fort is constructed east of Constantinople to guard the eastern approach to the city and as a staging point for moving soldiers from there to Nicaea.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The Venetian Pope counts us as a favored people, even above his own nation. King Charles wisely left diplomats stationed in Papal lands to assure that this continues to be the case.

    Constantinople, turn 63.

    The Pope commands the the people of Smyrna be brought into the light of God's church, and our priests move to obey. New priests are ordered trained as well for the task. Sighvat brings a much mightier force south than he took with him north, word of this pleases the King. Leopold sits quietly in Nicaea, and even the Council's incessant pestering of the King has taken a backseat to their determination to steal as much wealth as possible from rich Thessalonica. Though the royalty of Byzantium has fled our countryside, an armed contingent remains camped near Nicaea with protestations of insufficient ships and funds to move them west. Time will tell how true our ally can remain. One of our spies slips ahead and finds a good look at the capital of Turkey, Iconium.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Included here is a crude reproduction of our map of Europe with lines to show the path of our migration, and our current holdings colored blood red in the near east.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  15. #15
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Interlude, Prince Leopold's dream. (I couldn't resist fighting the battle against all that was left of Byzantium's family after the siege of Nicaea, though it is completely inappropriate for the AAR. I have to credit the jerk, he killed the new Emperor personally and survived being charged by both enemy bodyguard units.)

    After the siege of Nicaea Leopold rests uneasily in the Emperor's former chambers, dreaming of the bloody victory he should have had on the plains west of the city. He imagines himself in a duel with the man who, at best, mere hours before got word of the death of his father and of his assumption of the throne of what was left of Byzantium.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Leopold imagines himself honorably pausing for a moment to salute the dead horsemen from both armies piled high around him.



    Then riding on alone as Byzantine cavalry flee his face in terror. None can stand against him this day!



    He rechristens his army Leopold's Legion after this terrible slaughter, and his name is writ in history as the mail-fisted destroyer of Rome's final legacy when his spearmen encircle and butcher the fresh faced Byzantine prince.





    Leopold the Fierce, Lion of Bavaria, Champion of the Danes, Destroyer of Rome they will call him!







    As the dream fades Leopold imagines that even King Charles will bend knee and acknowledge him as the true ruler of the mighty Danish nation. At long last his run of ill luck will end, and his destiny will be fulfilled!

    In the morning his wife slaps him awake from his drunken stupor and screams that his mad rages have driven off the servants again, he'll have to empty the chamber pots himself.

  16. #16

    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    A dangerous man this Leopold is, with his dreams becoming reality. I hope he does not dream about removing King Charles. I am curious how you going to explain the sudden collapse of Byzantine Empire.
    Black holes really suck.

  17. #17
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Alas for Leopold, t'was only a dream, and when he awoke King Charles' orders to stay in the city under pain of death held him at Nicaea. Byzantium still exists, and events carry on as before no matter what Germans may dream.

    In other words, I just loaded an old save to play the battle out because it was irresistable, but I'll follow the thread from turn 63 as before.

  18. #18

    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramses II CP
    In other words, I just loaded an old save to play the battle out because it was irresistable, but I'll follow the thread from turn 63 as before.
    Yes, I should have guessed that. Maybe this "Leopold's dream" interlude is inappropriate for an AAR but it gives some depth to the story. Nothing wrong with that IMO.
    Black holes really suck.

  19. #19
    Barbarian of the north Member Magraev's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Great AAR! Keep the story rolling - interesting to see what happens when you get to Jerusalem.
    Nope - no sig what so ever.

  20. #20
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Constantinople, turn 64.

    The King's wife has brought forth a second son for him! Despite her advanced age, the boy is deemed healthy enough to survive and given the name Toraren.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    With the building of so many churches Leopold has discovered a seemingly genuine interest in God. Age can cool the fire of any man's heart and set him to contemplating what lies beyond, I know it has done so for me. Watching Prince Emund and my boys playing at war makes me wonder if their fathers will ever have the chance to put down the burden of Odin's quest. These days the hardships of going on campaign weigh heavily on me, and I can feel the same in King Charles. He has declared that we will rest and refit the armies here in Byzantium's old lands, lulling the Turks with our idle hands, until the time is ripe to pluck their capital on our border.

    Constantinople, turn 65.

    In his ongoing quest to leave Constantinople an even mightier and more beautiful city than when we first arrived, the King accepts a bid from the Merchant's guild to build a guildhouse. News has reached us of a powerful new force out of the east, the Mongols. I confess, it stirs my heart to contemplate battle with an enemy so feared that his name reaches across the world to raise fear over countless miles. Undeservedly King Charles has become known as a merciless mauler, and strangely also as quite merciful. Thessalonica is given to our allies, the Hungarians, in exchange for a paltry thousand florins.

    Leopold departs Nicaea and makes camp on the Turkish border, stretching the intent of the King's orders to be watchful of the Turk. To give weight to his command for restraint, the King departs Constantinople in response, and will ride for the border.

    Constantinople, turn 66.

    So much traffic passes through Constantinople that the merchants there are already demanding a larger guild house, for which permission is granted. The Pope, having clearly seen that no other Catholic nation was willing to take up the crusade effectively, conquers Tunis personally at the head of an army. From there he commends us on our efforts to convert the people of Smyrna, and sends a thousand florin prize. Danish merchants around Constantinople engage in unceasing financial war. The Turkish fortress at Caesarea is warded solely by a general and his bodyguard, according to our spy network. Those spies also report rampant heresey in those Muslim lands, with several heretics wandering openly through the hills unopposed. Norse War Clerics become available for training at Constantinople, and seem only too appropriate to bring the light of God to the heathen Turks.

    East of Nicaea, turn 67.

    Word reaches us that the Mongols have made for Sarkel, and likely points north. A Papal edict arrives commanding that the people of Nicaea be converted more rapidly. A Turkish Imam calls a jihad against Baghdad. At Constantinople construction of a cathedral is undertaken for the glory of God and the improvement of the city. With Turkish armies heading east on jihad, King Charles relents and sends siege engines to the army Leopold is gathering west of Iconium with orders that the attack proceed at his discretion.

    Turkish border, turn 68.

    The council of nobles, having abandoned Thessalonica en masse to prevent a repeat of our old delaying trick arrives in Constantinople and are suitably impressed. They instantly begin meddling again, sending a man to beg the hand of former Prince Sweyn's daughter. Though the King has maintained her place in his household, it will likely be her fate to enter a convent after a spinster's life as her husband would have a dangerous claim to press against the throne. This is all the more painful as the noble they send is a brave, loyal, and chivalrous man, with no fault of his own.

    One of our merchants loses his shirt, and a replacement merchant is asked for from the guild. Leopold cannot be made to wait for the catapults and ballistae to reach him, he rides on to the outskirts of Iconium and camps in sight of the walls. Our priests execute a Turkish heretic in the borderlands.

    Near Iconium, turn 69.

    Spain attacks the French, and we dissolve our alliance with them. The Pope rewards us for our efforts to convert the people of Nicaea. Leopold encircles Iconium and begins preparing rams and ladders for the siege, offering an official declaration of war. In a shocking move, Hungary dismisses their alliance with us and sides with the Turk. With Constantinople and Nicaea both held mainly by militia forces it is hoped that this is not a prelude to a war on both fronts. Concerned against an attack on Constantinople King Charles sends Sighvat on to Iconium, but holds his force by the border ready to reinforce the militia.

    Siege of Iconium, turn 70.

    The ever meddlesome Council has asked that we blockade a Turkish port at Trebizond, far from the line of our advance. They are ignored. The jihad against Baghdad is, unfortunately, cancelled; our diplomats later discover that the Egyptians have captured it ahead of the Turks with conventional forces. In darker news, the Hungarians declare war, and blockade the port east of Sofia.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our diplomats are commanded to seek peace, and to put the fortress we gained when Hungary sought an alliance up as a bargaining chip. Perhaps they only just now realized how uneven that exchange was, and now seek to recover the fortress?

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    This happily proves to be the case. Sofia was sold intact, to be a Catholic held bulwark at our backs. If you ask me, this was far too trusting of King Charles, but perhaps someday we will need the place again ourselves. Turkish fleets, obviously acting in concert, blockade the ports of Nicaea and Smyrna, but leave Constantinople open. That choice they will surely come to regret. Another heretic is executed east of Iconium, and we remain the most favored nation of the Papacy. The Turkish garrisons at Adana and Caesarea are evaluated again before Iconium is attacked.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    The siege of Iconium is put in Leopold's hands, with Sighvat ready to reinforce him or assume command if he should fall.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    This is one of the largest cities we have yet attacked. Fortunately our spies are able to open the gates, and the rams and ladders prove needless. Scouts from the north are the first into the walls, riding down pairs of ballista the enemy had stationed nearby.



    To the south swordsmen charge the gates and catch Turkish spearmen abandoning them, and at the main gate in the west Leopold rides through in stately grandeur unopposed.





    Spearmen are being butchered at the south gate. So far only the enemy commander and his bodyguard have been allowed to retreat to the square. To keep it that way, a unit of mounted knights is sent through the square to cut off some spearmen that Leopold is intent on riding down. Loathe to leave his rally point, the enemy general watches it happen and does nothing.



    Attempting the same trick again, however, forces the Turk general to realize he may have no men left to rally if he doesn't act, and he takes the knights from behind as they beset a ballista unit.



    Leopold urges on his Lions as they carve a path through Turkish spearmen, anxious to get to the square.



    More mounted knights ride to rescue the men from the second ride by, capturing the square momentarily, but the enemy's bodyguard is hardy and well trained. They have already all but massacred the initial squad of knights, and turning about they lay into the reinforcements viciously. To make matters worse the last enemy spear group from the walls runs up to reinforce them.





    Those spearmen are, in turn, taken from behind by the last of our scouts. No doubt exhausted from the long run, they shatter and flee.



    Leopold, in a rage at the delay the spearmen caused, rides up and seeks out the enemy commander, who has killed dozens of his men. Before the two can come to grips, a blade guts the Ottoman, and he falls, beheading the knight who spilled out his life on the way down. So passes a mighty champion of the Turkish nation. After the battle Leopold wanted to hang his corpse from the mosque's minaret, but Sighvat has his body wrapped and sent to the Turkish Leader in honor.



    One enemy spearman now remains to contest the square, screaming and shaking his spear to show his defiance. Our men run him through, and the Turk's capital is ours!





    Losses were unusually heavy due to the exceptional fight put up by the men of the enemy's bodyguard. Over eleven thousand florins are taken in Leopold's sack of Iconium.

    Sighvat rides ahead to drive off a small enemy force that was marching up the pass towards Iconium.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The enemy commands the high ground, but Danish horses scale it quickly even under fire.



    Taking advantage of the light scout's speed, each enemy cavalry group is surrounded and squeezed in turn. When their commander falls in just such an ambush, the whole force routs, and Sighvat lets them and the prisoners go, though they reinforce Caesarea.





    Reassured about the Hungarians at our backs, King Charles takes his army up to Iconium. The Turkish Crown Prince and their faction leader are discovered by a spy skulking about in the hills south of Trebizond, far from the battles.

    Besieging Adana, turn 71.

    Sighvat rides on down to the castle at Adana, and lays siege despite having an all cavalry force. He can pin the enemy there while Leopold or King Charles rides up to take Caesarea.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Leopold builds a watch tower north of Iconium to aid in ferreting out heretics.

    Besieging Adana, turn 72.

    The English declare a truce with Portugal, and are reconciled. Constantinople requires an upgrade and expansion of her walls, but the treasury cannot sustain it. Our financial situation has been in constant decline since Thessalonica was given up, and it though it pains King Charles to leave such great work for other hands, we must also realize that Constantinople will not long be under our control. Contact is finally established with Scotland, and trade rights are secured. The King's army moves down by Adana, and Leopold gathers a force to siege the new Turkish capital at Caesarea including our catapults and ballistae.

    Besieging Adana and Caesarea, turn 73.

    In an demonstration of intelligence I would've deemed quite beyond them, the council has hit upon the strategy of sending young nobility of demonstrable quality as suitors for Prince Sweyn's daughter. The King finds that poor girl's fate lamentable, and I'm certain he still feels something for her long gone, but dashing and heroic father. Still, what's best for the kingdom is a clear line of succession, and so the King condemns Hrefna to her fate and dashes the hopes of brave young men year after year. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. In better news, at last a bishop of Denmark is acknowledged for his pious work among the heathens, and wins a place in the college of Cardinals. One of our new priests fails to denounce a heretic near Iconium, and the Cardinal is asked to oversee his next testimony personally. The Egyptian castle at Aleppo is garrisoned by a single unit of spearmen, as our spy discovers. Prince Leopold, upon reaching Caesarea, launches his assault in all haste.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The enemy is found to be holding none of the walls. With Leopold leading a ballista attack on the south gates, our main force of dismounted knights and catapults begin to work on the wall by the east gate. When the enemy finally commits his archer corps to the south walls, Leopold rides like mad for the east, eager to be the first to race into the breach.



    He commands his men to ride under the catapult fire, right up the walls. Showing incredible discipline they hold there with immense stones hurling through the air overhead. Enemy banners reveal that they are sending their forces along the walls to oppose our thrust here.



    In a race between catapult thrown stones and pounding feet on walls, the stones eke out a victory. Before the dust can settle Leopold commands his Lion guards forward!



    The Lions of Bavaria ride over a brash bunch of peasant archers. Leopold urges them on, bellowing that they must take the gates to the inner keep quickly.





    Even riding their hardest, Leopold's heavy cavalry cannot beat the enemy's light horse archers to the inner gate, but perhaps he can still catch their general's own bodyguard!



    The Turkish general is aghast, but he masters his shock and calls back the horse archers to pull the odds sharply in his favor. Leopold rides back to where his dismounted knights are slaughtering Ottoman infantry and exhorts them to race for the inner gate!



    When the first routers from the engagement behind them reach the Lions of Bavaria a doubt enters their heart as the Guard are beset on all sides and losing ground, but they hold.



    Leopold returns to the battle at the gate, determined to hold open the gates until his knights can arrive, and gods take the cost.



    At last Viking Raiders reinforce the gate, encircling the enemy general and his bodyguard as they attempted to encircle Leopold.



    Leopold opens the throat of a hapless Turk defender, and quite suddenly the whole enemy force but for the heavy cavalry breaks and flees for the square. Caught up in a fury of bloodlust Leopold screams for his Lions to charge the square and crush the frightened enemy.





    Behind him knights drag down the enemy commander and he surrenders his sword to them. Unfortunately some of his men have rallied at the square, and carry on the fight. The dismounted knights, worn down by having run all the way from the field, across the castle, and straight into battle nonetheless find the strength and courage to charge into an arrow barrage.



    Leopold, bloody but unbowed, with only a handful of men from his Lions still ahorse, completes the encirclement of the remaining enemy forces, and they are soon swept away.





    The fortress is sacked and another seven thousand florins go into our coffers. Caesarea is a fortress every bit the equal of old Sofia, and we are pleased to have it holding our current northern border. King Charles takes his army forward, to control the pass between Egypt and Adana, though the Egyptians are technically our allies.

    Besieging Adana, turn 74

    A son is born to Leopold and Vemy, the boy is given the name Ulrik Nevjolvson. The news gets a cool reception from the King. Doubtless the nobility will bend their every effort to wooing this young man to their cause. Even with matters so complicated King Charles sends Vemy and Leopold his official congratulations, and officially recognizes the boy as a member of his household.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    We suffer reversals in the ongoing economic warfare around Constantinople, but more merchants are in training. The heretic Abascantus is found guilty and executed outside Iconium. A formerly Byzantine army is discovered to have rebelled, and is blocking the road east of Smyrna. A force of Huscarls is commissioned to deal with them. Leopold departs Caesarea and carries his siege train towards Adana. The Egyptian Sultan, a chivalrous man, is spotted south of Antioch.

    King Charles chases some rebels off the bridge north east of Antioch, and asks that the Egyptian Crown Prince Nasir ad Din ride out with him to battle.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Under a gathering storm and intermittant flashes of lightning and rain the two men meet. The Crown Prince is curious why the King has ridden down into his lands, backed by a significant army no less. King Charles says that God has sent him forth, and swears that he will soon have a full explanation for the Egyptians. Nasir ad Din looks thoughtful, and returns "What Allah sends a man to do, he must do, though all the world oppose it."



    Smiling his understanding, the King spurs his horse around, and charges the nearest rebel group.





    Prince Nasir watches the King's effort, and then rides out to match it.



    Under a hail of arrows the Egyptians catch up to the enemy captain, and wipe out his horsemen.





    After the battle the two men salute one another, and ride off their seperate ways. Jerusalem is scouted, and found to contain only a general's men as guard. A look at our maps:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  21. #21
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Siege of Adana, turn 75.

    Sadly this is the appointed year for us to leave Constantinople. Orders are sent to pull all troops into the fort east of the city, but to sell nothing, leave every structure just as it is. Though we are far along the road, and perhaps our final destination is even in sight, King Charles is greatly vexed to be giving up control of this great city. Meanwhile Leopold leads his army down from the high plain at Caesarea to the pass near Adana where he and Sighvat exchange troops to better prepare Sighvat's army for the coming assault. Sighvat sends away most of his cavalry with Leopold, and takes spearmen and siege engines into his force in return. So reinforced, he begins the attack.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    This is Sighvat's first major command, but King Charles is determined to prove his trust in the man by allowing him to conduct it without oversight. Sir Sighvat has been present for a number of sieges now, and with Leopold and the King both growing old it is time for him to prove himself. Before the battle he christens his bodyguard the Hart Guard. The men approach the castle walls from two directions, north and west, to discover that the west side where the ballista, Norse War Clerics, and axemen are waiting is covered by archers on the walls, whereas the north gate is not held. Sir Sighvat offers the catapult crews their pick of spoils if they can smash the enemy gate quickly, and they are up to the task, allowing him to ride in unopposed.



    To allow his War Clerics and axemen to enter the city, he must first capture the west gates. Rushing past enemy held walls and streets Sighvat's Harts find the west gate undefended, and throw it open before launching into battle against enemy cavalry.



    War Clerics and Axemen charge in there to cut off the retreat of the Turks fleeing the walls. Back at the north gate, our spearmen easily rout some enemy peasants, but then meet stiffer resistance as the castle's commander rides out to assail them.



    Some of the men from the walls rout and are smashed down by Cleric's maces. The Axemen will have to go up and drag the rest down under heavy arrow fire.



    Most of the enemy's men are in retreat, and Sighvat's force is well positioned to issue orders down both streets and to hold the enemy's line of retreat. While two spear units pin the enemy general, a third is sent to relieve the Hart Guard, causing the remaining Turkish cavalry to turn their backs to battle.



    The spears do their bloody work, and Adana's commander is trapped under his dying horse before being pierced by a dozen spears. What remains of his guard flee.



    As our forces assemble to take the square and end all resistance, the Norse Axemen file into the walls to do butcher's work. After the action Sighvat would come to regret sending them there, on the staircase they were ambushed and took heavy losses before making it into the fight (A pathing bug had them standing at a corner getting shot by the archers until I noticed it).



    At the square the Harts and Clerics rapidly destroy the remaining Turkish forces, and then look to the walls to watch the last bit of battle for Adana.



    The axes are slower, but more sure than enemy swords. Many is the Turk who finds himself hurtling through the air after an axe blow knocks him from the wall. In the end, the archers break and the castle is ours.





    Three thousand florins are taken in the sack of Adana. With Adana taken, we enter a complex negotiation with Egypt for the surrender of Antioch into our hands. King Charles sits outside the walls with an army, while inside the Crown Prince rests alone with his bodyguard, sure that the King will keep the faith of our alliance with them. Finally, after many frustrating days, the King comes to the table himself and asks to speak with the Crown Prince personally. After the pleasantries are exchanged, the men begin a legendary dicker.

    'Prince Nasir, I must have Antioch. It is my people's destiny.'

    'I recall clearly you saying on the eve of battle that your coming was the will of Allah. I have no wish to stand between a man and his God-given destiny, but my father the Sultan has sheltered the people of Antioch under his care for many years, as his father before him. If God wishes you to have Antioch, surely God has given you the means to purchase it from us.'

    'Our coffers are not piled high with plunder, if that is the question you do not wish to speak plainly, but there are many lands in Danish hands.'

    'One would expect that conquering your way across the whole of Europe would leave a larger impact on your purse.' The Prince smiled brightly to lessen the offense his statement might give.

    King Charles gave a grim look before answering, 'We have not conquered our way across Europe, we have merely followed the road that fate set before us. Where possible, I have left the lands behind us in better shape and trustworthy hands. It will forever be a joy in my heart to recall how many great works were undertaken by the hands of Danes at Constantinople.'

    'Constantinople you say? A mighty city, with men of all faiths living within her walls. I have often wished to travel to Constantinople.'

    'As I have now a wish to bring my people into Antioch. I am amenable to a land trade, though the city we give up is mightier by far.'

    'Would that matters were so simple, great King. If Constantinople were given into our hands, how would we hold it? How would our Imams reach it, so far across your lands. Who would administer the city, and who defend it?'

    For a few breaths King Charles merely gazed at the ceiling, before saying, 'I appreciate these concerns, and I am prepared to give my word that no Egyptian priests will be molested crossing my realm. Additionally mercenaries are widely available in the city herself, and could control Constantinople until your people arrived.'

    'I am afraid I must have a guarantee for the safety of all men spreading the word of the Prophet in your lands. An end to your war against the Turks would be a sufficient gesture to this effect, in the Sultan's eyes.'

    'This will be done, we have no further need of Turkish lands. If the Turks wish a ceasefire, they shall have it.' The King's eyes gleamed as went on, 'Though I suspect that you desire their lands yourself, now that we have weakened them.'

    The Prince inclined his head and appeared thoughtful for a moment, 'Perhaps, but there is a further problem with this deal, and it is simply that no facilities are available for training professional soldiers in the city. We will need such men, if Constantinople is truly to be ours.'

    At this the King grinned, sensing the end of the haggling, 'Smyrna. We hold a castle at Smyrna that could also be surrendered to your trust. The lands of Egypt will then be mighty indeed, and well held.'

    Rising to his feet, the Crown Prince of Egypt smiled widely, openly, and exclaimed, 'So it shall be! Leave the signing of documents to the functionaries, for now let us share sweet dates and dark tea while we watch the sun set from my palace. At sunrise tomorrow, the palace will be yours!'

    Turning to me, the King whispered grimly, 'The Pope may well send a letter asking for my head, but his forgiveness will be easier to seek than Odin's. Tell the men to make ready to secure the city, unrest will be high for a time while the priests do their work. Tomorrow I will ride south, to the border, to put up a watch tower. The Prince is an honest man, but this alliance will not long survive such hard bargains as we gave up today.'

    Quickly a deal was reached with a Turkish emissary. They were enthusiastic, desperate, but also destitute, and so we asked only a pittance as recompense. If we weren't in need of money, we wouldn't have gouged them for anything, but times being what they are every florin counts.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Just as quickly we invite the Hungarians to resume their alliance with us for a price, making certain of a two front war should the Egyptians prove unfaithful.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    At the end of the year a deputation arrives from the Papacy with a private rebuke for King Charles, and a demand that he repudiate his deal with the Egyptians that gave mighty Constantinople into their hands. Mindful of the Code, and of keeping his nation's reputation intact, King Charles was then offered a path that all involved would understand. A Crusade. In the end our people's faith and destiny must trump the King's and even the country's honor. The Egyptians would know that we had manipulated them, perhaps they may even see a vast Christian conspiracy in it, but the Catholic nations of Europe would hear a different tale from Papal messengers; one of Muslim treachery and cunning that must be repaid with Muslim blood. Constantinople would be the target of the second Crusade.

    Antioch, turn 76.

    We are asked to answer the call to crusade, but as before it is forbidden for us. Still, three nations come to the Pope's war banners; Venice, The Holy Roman Empire, and Hungary. This puts us in the position of choosing between our alliance with Hungary and our alliance with Egypt. Looking south to Jerusalem, there is only one possible choice. Egypt sends their Sultan and a small force to block the pass out of the mountains around Adana, but the rest of their armies draw back from our borders rather than cross them. Perhaps they still hope for peace since we did not declare for the Crusade. Leopold sends men to hold the path down out of the pass, while Sighvat sits atop it. The Sultan is trapped, but has also cleverly trapped a large part of our forces including our siege engines.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    An aging member of the noble council puts himself forth as a suitor for Hrefna. One of Leopold's original conspirators, this Sigurd of Dragor is one of the men King Charles has had watched since Thessalonica, and he is known to be actively disloyal. Though his claim on her hand is rejected, the King invites him to dinner before he departs back to Iconium. Afterward, when I voice my concern at this change in tacks, the King says 'Better to have such men here, in my camp with my soldiers when they get bad news, than away behind my back surrounded by their own petty suck-ups.'

    Vemy bears Leopold another son, who is given the name Lars Eigod by his mother.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Across our lands heretics are being burned, which encourages the locals to convert to Christianity. Our priests report excellent results from their efforts in the hinterlands around Ceasarea and Adana, though Iconium is still home to a number of Turkish and Egyptian Imams. Spies report Edessa and Acre are weakly held.

    Near Antioch, turn 77.

    A spy from Nicaea discovers Constantinople is still held solely by mercenaries. It looks as though the city will suffer another siege soon, as a Hungarian crusader army is spotted not too far to the north by one of our diplomats.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    More heretics go to the stake, inside Egypt and our borders. We've almost cleared the whole area of them at last. While King Charles is pinning the former garrison of Antioch by the sea to the south, Sighvat is trapped on the far side of the mountains by the Egyptian Sultan. Leopold was ordered to find a peaceful solution to this matter as messeges couldn't get through to Sir Sighvat and there was no one else. Unfortunately after months of snide remarks and sly insults from Sultan Moussa at the negotiating table, Leopold hears the translator snicker through saying '...the flighty kittens of beer-area,' one time too many. He snaps, and nearly assaults the Sultan across the table before regaining control of himself. Snatching up a butter knife from the remains of breakfast, he slams it into the table and says simply 'We're coming.' Hearing Leopold's trumpets, Sighvat marches down into the pass as well.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Sultan Moussa arrays his men on a high hill nearby, but they are vastly outnumbered. Leopold screams at his cavalrymen to ride faster, seeking battle with all his heart. As they ride in, immense catapult stones hurtle overhead and slam into the ground behind them. Blind with rage, Leopold turns his Lions to end that threat once and for all while the rest of his cavalry go to meet the enemy horse archers. The Sultan's guard first moves indecisively to save the archers, then moves back towards the catapult just as the last of it's crew are killed. Finally a squad of Feudal Knights ride down to engage them as they ride somewhat aimlessly.





    More and more forces pour in to surround the Sultan, and Sighvat rides up with his Hart Guard exhorting the men to capture him alive.



    Alas for Egypt, it is too late. Leopold rides down to Moussa still in a frothing rage, and his well trained horse dances back to dodge the Sultan's first strike. Leopold's counter insures there will be no second, and the Sultan of all Egypt pitches forward, face first into the blood stained dirt. His personal guard fights to the death, taking many Danes with them.



    Sighvat and Leopold ride down onto the plain east of Antioch, sending two seperate letters to King Charles about the battle in the pass. Dismayed, the King is nonetheless confronted by a now enemy army just southwest of his newest, least Christian city. He resolves to bring them to battle that very evening, before they hear of their Sultan's heroic last stand.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Under storm swept skies we few, proud Gray Wolves rode forth once more to battle. Once before, in France, in the first battle after I came under his command, we were ambushed by a similar number of men. What then we could accomplish by mere strength and hardiness, now we must get done with cleverness and hard earned battle wisdom.



    First we scatter the enemy archers, who set their arrows alight in the vain hope that it would aid their aim. Taking advantage of the darkness and confusion, King Charles routs their second unit of archers singlehandedly.





    Riding quietly out of the darkness, we surprise a small cluster of spearmen as they chat casually.



    When we charge the main body of spearmen, we find them also milling about purposelessly. I line up the enemy captain with my lance, but he ducks the blow (He is bent over behind the second nearest horse in the 2nd shot). Despite this, his line is smashed, and his force flees in terror.






    Clearly King Charles is an expert at night fighting. The further south we go, the better fighting in the cool of the evening seems to me. After the battle we march south, to the plain east of Acre. We can see the walls of Jerusalem from here. Our spies still report that fabled city to be lightly held. In our camp the mood is high, and by striking so deep into enemy territory it would even appear that we've outrun the reach of the Council. Were it not for the brewing conflict between Sighvat and Leopold all would seem well with the world. King Charles, though wroth with Leopold, can nearly smell the city of his dreams on the horizon. Leopold's second reckoning will have to wait.

  22. #22
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Besieging Jerusalem, turn 78.

    Our spy in the city continues to report that Jerusalem is held by a small force, and so the King approaches with only a few Huscarls to make ready the siege. Our fate is here, in our hands, waiting only to be seized, but a note of caution must slow us. The fortress of Acre behind us must be taken first, to maintain our borders with the rest of our lands and in accordance with the mandate of Odin. For now, we sit 'round the city and prevent it from being reinforced.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    On the diplomatic front, the Turks have called a truce with the Egyptians. Though we sit at the gates of our goal, still King Charles prudently orders priests and scouts to be sent out around Caesarea to watch for Turkish forces. Most of our armies are on the march south and the Turk has an opportunity to split our nation in half if he strikes boldly. I suspect their people are still cowed by our rapid advance, however, and any declaration of war would meet fear and riots in the enemy streets. Hours ahead of the Hungarian Crusaders, Egypt reinforces Constantinople with mercenary horse archers and light cavalry. Seeing this, the Hungarians lose heart, and do not lay siege.

    A small force of Feudal Knights is sent out of Antioch to pin the new Sultan, Nasir ad Din, at Aleppo, and the new Crown Prince is spotted near Damascus. The young man's name is Camona the Ugly. Leopold moves south with his siege train, making for Acre at best speed.

    Sieges of Aleppo and Acre, turn 79.

    King Charles' son, Prince Emund, has come of age! My first born, Aethelwulf, heads his bodyguard while his slightly younger twin Magnus awaits Toraren's maturity. The boys have ridden against bandits, and watched major engagements all their lives, but for the first time Emund will have a command of his own. Having been raised on the road, with no set home and only Odin's all consuming quest as a guide, the boy has grown up with some silly beliefs, and a skewed view of the world. Only to be expected, I suppose, but I hope it does not interfere with his ability to command. Diplomats in Europe are given orders to find him a suitable princess from among our allies.

    King Charles does not wish our armies to intercede in matters at Constantinople, feeling that his deal with the Egyptians has already stained his honor. A priest discovers a small force of Turkish rebels on the high plain north east of Adana, and cavalry are dispatched to deal with them.

    Emund is given charge of the siege of Aleppo, and he sends a messenger with a demand that Sultan Nasir ad Din surrender the town and depart. My son reports that the Sultan's reponse was straightforward, 'Not your ears alone hear the voice of Allah. I am called to defend these lands to my last breath. Allah willing, the victor's hand will be a merciful one.'

    Emund's pre-battle speech is odd, but effective, 'Today we turn another page in the book of time! I have read ahead, and on the last page are the names of our honored dead inscribed! If you fall today, know that all mankind will revere your sacrifice in the times to come!'

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    King Charles is not known as The Watcher for nothing, and his spy network proves itself again by opening the gates of Aleppo for us. The men drop their ladders and make for the gates as Prince Emund rides in unopposed. The Egyptians have only a unit of militia spearmen and the Sultan's bodyguard in the town, so the walls are unguarded.



    Our men begin to surround the square where Sultan Nasir has massed his defenders. The militia look terrified at the prospect of a hopeless battle.



    As our knights move to complete the encirclement, Sultan Nasir orders his men to attack. Instantly Prince Emund orders a charge into their flank, lancing some of their hardiest fighters from behind.







    As our foot knights charge, the spearmen run to the Sultan's side as though he can protect them.



    Prince Emund's years of training show as he clears a space around himself in the melee. No enemy can stand before the Prince when a joyous bloodlust comes over him.



    The Egyptian spearmen are quickly taken by our Knights, and the Sultan's guard is pressed in around him on all sides. When a pause occurs in the battle, Emund calls out a challenge to Sultan Nasir to end this pointless slaughter with a personal duel. The Sultan nods his head, and quickly Prince Emund spurs his mount forward. Two swords flash as the horses pass, Emund's armor resists the Sultan's swing while Emund's punching motion takes Sultan Nasir in the leg. To hear my son tell it, the matter was already decided at that point, as the Egyptian leader could no longer guide his horse properly. Emund made five more passes, cutting Nasir ad Din again each time, before the Sultan fell from his horse. Emund came down from his saddle as well, and began to approach his enemy when the few remaining members of the Sultan's guard lost their discipline and attacked.

    Knights surrounded Emund and held him safe while the dishonored bodyguard was killed, but in the melee the body of Sultan Nasir ad Din was crushed beyond recognition. In the end Aleppo was ours, and Emund's first command was a success. (Forgot the post battle screenshot)



    Having word of Emund's victory, King Charles met Leopold east of Acre as Leopold's army was setting up to siege the castle there.

    Setting aside any ceremony, King Charles says, 'A mighty Egyptian warrior commands that castle, the new Crown Prince Saladin. He is all that stands between my people and the end of Odin's burden.'

    Leopold snorted, 'My army is far superior. This man will die like every other if he stands in my way.'

    'Like the old Sultan did, in the pass east of Adana? You recall that attack, do you not Leopold?'

    Shifting uneasily, Leopold merely nods.

    'Of course Saladin is not negotiating with us across a peace table, is he Leopold? Very much unlike the old Sultan Moussa. I'm sure you recall those negotiations as well, do you not Leopold?'

    Grimly, Leopold nods again.

    Appearing to change tacks, the King says, 'Do you still imagine the Council can put you upon my throne if I fall?'

    White faced, but forced to speak, Leopold sputters, 'Of course not my liege! I am sworn to you, loyalty unto death. I have no other place in the world but by your side.'

    Nodding, the King continues, 'Even so sworn, even so outcast from your homeland, and even if you have abandoned all hope of ruling the Danes, even given all that you still see fit to defy my orders and launch what may have been a needless war with a mighty people who have in their grasp the lands we desperately need? You have dishonored me Leopold! You have forced my hand, the hand of your King, on a terrible choice! Here I have word that my own son fought a death duel with a man who not so long ago rode at my side into battle!'

    Dropping his voice, King Charles went on, 'I am a fair king Leopold, even handed and just, but it seems to me that I am twice betrayed by you, and my whole people bear a certain stain on their honor because of your actions.'

    Ashen, hands balled into bloodless fists, Leopold cannot look away from the King, though he must be worried that he will leave this tent in irons.

    Pausing thoughtfully, King Charles appears to be struck by an idea, 'But you have proven yourself in battle, time and again. You have done much to advance our cause, and led our ever victorious armies forward for many years. I do not wish to break that spirit which is so useful to our cause. Perhaps I should give you another chance to prove yourself in battle. Perhaps I should overlook your faults and send you out to redeem yourself. Would you like that Leopold? Do you think you could scrub away the stain?'

    Surging to his feet, Leopold shouts, 'With my own blood if you need it my Lord!'

    'Then go Leopold, go to Acre and bring me the head of Saladin. Go quickly, for I would have Jerusalem in my grasp before Odin's heavy hand takes another of our cities from us.'

    Leaping up, Leopold races for his horse and rides for Acre as though the King had fired him at it like a bolt from a crossbow. Turning away I hear King Charles mutter, '...and if he comes back, the real trouble begins.'

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our spy network shows it's worth again, and as Leopold rushes his men to the walls Egypt's archers abandon them.



    The two meet, and archers flee for the inner keep while horsemen cut them down. Leopold's fury is boundless.



    That mad battle lust is infectious, even veteran Huscarls ride along the lines of cowering peasant archers splitting open their heads with mighty hews of their axes.



    With the enemy walls taken, and their foot soldiers all cut down, the battle roars into place at the castle's square. Leopold drives his Lions against Saladin's bodyguard.

    <

    Inevitably as Leopold cuts his way through one side of the battle line, and Saladin slaughters his way along the other, the two men move towards a meeting.



    Exchanging blows, with neither proving superior, they are quickly forced apart by Saladin's guard driving themselves between their lord and the madman Leopold appears to have become.



    Isolated, outnumbered, and surrounded Leopold nonetheless cuts down man after man, relentlessly making his way back to Saladin one gut spilling blow after another. None can stand against him.





    At last the fight between the two commanders resumes, and Saladin gets the worst of it. Leaning far out of his saddle, with no caution or care for his own defense, Leopold strikes Saladin down.



    With the fight surging around him, Leopold slides down out of his saddle and approaches the corpse of the mighty Egyptian general with his sword held ready. Beyond any thought of risk, he grabs the plume on Saladin's helm and draws it off so that he can thrust a hand into the man's hair and lift his head to one side. Raising his sword, Leopold begins to hack his way through Saladin's neck, not noticing as the last of his now leaderless Lions of Bavaria is run through by one of the seven remaining Egyptian bodyguards.

    Turning back to look on the spot where their leader fell, the Egyptians see Leopold hewing demonically at Saladin's neck. As one they charge, and mighty Leopold is pierced many times by their swords. Staggering back to his horse to attempt to remount he is heard to roar 'Avenge me!' before he falls into the final darkness.

    Grim spearmen catch the enemy's last cavalry, and Huscarls ride behind them. The Danes have not lost heart, for Leopold died well exhorting them to carry on the battle.



    At the last two great men from two fate crossed lands lie dead in the mud, filth, and blood. Acre is taken, and Leopold leaves a powerful legacy for his young sons.





    Seven thousand florins are gained from the sack of Acre. The Council of Nobles is forced to acknowledge Prince Emund as the true heir following the fall of Leopold. In honor of his long service, King Charles orders the construction of a tall tomb at Acre. Princess Vemy is invited to bring her children to live in the King's household, if for no other reason to try to keep them clear of the council's machinations. A spy is sent from Acre to scout Gaza, and finds it loosely held.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Before the siege of Jerusalem can begin a small force north of the city must be cleared away. Men from Leopold's command are ordered to march south and make ready for battle.

  23. #23
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Siege of Jerusalem, turn 80.

    At last, the city of our hopes and dreams, the end goal of Odin's quest. If King Knud's visions were true, capturing this city will lift the debt of the old gods from the Danes for good. Perhaps we could even put to sea again, here on these strange shores with their warm, blue waters. All my war wounds ache with the tension I feel as we move inevitably towards our destiny. At least this much I know to be true, the Gray Wolves will ride into battle once more.

    First, however, more practical matters. The King accepts an offer from the Merchant's guild to put a guild house in Nicaea, on the presumption that the city won't be lost this year though it's turn is up. The Council demands that we capture Damascus, which is on the trade roads between Jerusalem and all points north. No doubt they seek a comfortable city closer to the King, so as to improve their ability to meddle. Spain joins the Crusade against Constantinople. Antioch is becoming a huge city. Sultan Camona the Ugly holds the bridge east of Aleppo with only his bodyguard to protect him. Baghdad is found to have a single unit of spearmen holding it, and Turkish Mosul is held only by a general and some dismounted lancers. The whole area is ripe for plucking by our mighty armies.

    For the siege of Jerusalem King Charles sends away all of his men but one veteran unit of Norse Swordsmen to push a ram to the gates, should our spies fail to open them. He vows to send those men away, and capture the city with the Wolves alone, as it is protected by only an Egyptian general named al Mutawakkil and his retinue.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Word reaches us that our spies have thrown open the gates, and with the sun rising beautifully over the city we ride for the undefended entrance. The Norse Swordsmen are sent away from the battle, and withdraw quickly.





    The King leads us in a near perfect parade formation into the quiet city. The air itself feels pensive. There are no peasants on the roads, and the markets are shut. Even the morning call to prayer seems have been suspended until the matter of control of the city is decided. King Charles rides ahead of us, before turning back to shout, 'Here! Here, by all the gods new and old, here is our destiny! Reach out with me and take it!'



    Leading us up the silent streets, the King is ebullient. He launches into an ancient sailing song which hails Odin as the source of all favorable winds.



    Reaching the town square, we find our enemy neatly arrayed in the center, awaiting us. We make our line too, slightly longer than theirs at both ends.



    There is no negotiation now. Reaching up King Charles slashes at an Egyptian flag and commands us to charge!





    Heedless of his own safety, the King attacks with short, precise strokes, and fells every enemy that comes before him.



    When I spot the enemy commander riding down the line, intent on attacking King Charles despite the fact that the King is already engaged with two other Egyptians, I goad my horse to slam it's shoulder into his mount's side, trapping the general's leg so that I can reach back and run him through from behind. His dead, slumping weight carries his horse to the ground with him as I move on to relieve the King.



    The King fights coldly, slaying his opponents quickly with powerful strokes so that he can move on to the next. No mere man will slow him today.





    We surrounded the last few Egyptians, and cut them down. When the last enemy falls, the Gray Wolves stand in their stirrups to shout and raise bloodied swords heavenward! Jerusalem is ours!





    Veteran swordsmen, huscarls, and raiders, sons and the sons of sons of the mighty men who first enlisted on this quest with King Knud are brought forward to take spoils from our sack of the city. This will go far to guarantee loyalty in the locals and the suddenly unburdened Norsemen who may wonder what is left to fight for. Eleven thousand florins go into the coffers.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    King Charles' first act as governor of Jerusalem, of course, is to commission the construction of a church in the city, and to order the destruction of the resident theives' guild. A week of feasting is declared, though troops in the field keep a close watch on the countryside. That night King Charles delivers a brilliant speech, one long in the coming, about a destiny and a duty fulfilled. Odin's burden can now be laid down, and cities taken by Danes are free to remain in the hands of Danes. No longer are we a wandering, homeless people. Now we are a people of one God, and one purpose, undivided and no longer indebted to the old ways. Heralds are sent with copies of the speech to every land and army we control. Back in Jerusalem, we celebrate! Many days later, when the last barrel of drink we brought with us is tapped, business resumes nearly as usual. A spy sends a report that a handsome Egyptian has a small force protecting Edessa.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Some knights and axemen out of Acre catch an Egyptian general and his reinforcements north of Jerusalem, and rapidly put him to flight.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Prince Emund departs Aleppo to see if Sultan Camona will give him battle across the bridge east of there. He brings a group of peasant archers to goad the Sultan into crossing the bridge.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Riding out onto the bridge, Emund screams insults and strange prophecies at the Sultan, but to no avail. He commands the archers to set their arrows alight before firing.





    The Sultan and his guard are either foolishly brave, or insanely determined that no Dane will cross, as they sit under a hail of flaming arrows despite some of their fellows wailing as they burn.





    Once he is certain the enemy cannot be lured onto the bridge, Emund sends the archers away. With a final shouted challenge, his men surge forward. Like all the men of his line, Emund is a fine swordsmen; he carves a path into the Sultan's guard.



    When the Sultan is felled by a combined attack, his guard breaks and flee the bridge at last. Prince Emund has won his second battle, and for their valor on this day has given his guard the name Emund's Eagles.



    Riding south from the bridge, Emund confronts another Egyptian army, but word of the Sultan's death has come ahead of him and the enemy retreats. They will have to wait. In his camp Emund gives a series of curious speechs before the men, speaking of old debts forgiven and new debts incurred. My son is uneasy with the direction they take, but for no reason he can specify in his letters. In sadder new, King Charles' sister, the Empress Ingrid, sends word from Germany of Emperor Henry's peaceful death. His passing may put some strain on our relationship with the Holy Roman Empire and their fractious nobility.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Jerusalem, turn 81.

    Realizing now where the future lies, and with King Charles difficult to reach in Jerusalem, the Council has switched it's efforts to wooing the Prince. They send a marginally loyal older man to Prince Emund with an offer to tutor and guide him, in exchange for adoption into the family. The Prince, with years of experience with the noble's games, sends the man away. The offer of an Explorer's guild is declined in Jerusalem. Our English allies are excommunicated, again, while Milan goes to war with the Papacy.

    Our spy in Damascus reports that it is held by a ragtag collection of partial units, though some are of veteran status. A spy in Constantinople reports the city to be suffering riots that the mercenaries cannot seem to quell.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Captain Ingeborg leads his Huscarls out of Acre to engage a small Egyptian army in the pass to the north east.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The enemy sits very high on one side of the valley's walls, trying to hurl stones down at the fast riding Captain and his men.



    Under a hail of arrows, the men ride up and assail the enemy archers, who have nowhere left to flee.



    Riding back down on the Egyptian spearmen and their captain, the battle is quickly decided, though losses are heavy.





    Captain Ingeborg puts his name forward as a candidate for adoption, but even with King Charles in a most excellent mood and gathering veterans in Jerusalem the man's efforts were not sufficient to this honor, and he is turned down. To the north Captain Magnus brings some rebel scum to battle in a small forest east of Caesarea.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Fast scouts cause disruptions in the enemy formation, which heavy knights are quick to exploit.



    The enemy's commander, riding with some horse archers, moves away from his spearmen to avoid our scouts, and our knights are quick to exploit the spearmen's disarray.



    Riding back by the site of the rest of his command's destruction, the enemy captain is caught between our knights and our scouts, and routs quickly.



    Captain Magnus, a man with many good qualities, also puts his name forward in the hope of gaining a place in the royal family, but with no member of the family present he too must be turned down. Back to the south, just below Aleppo, Prince Emund brings the enemy army that previously avoided him to battle this time.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    They set their lines on a small hill, and send forward archers to harass our advance. Prince Emund teaches them the error of their ways.



    Having penetrated their line on the left, the Prince takes this chance to lance a few of their catapult crew.



    Having scattered their line, Emund's Eagles ride around their rear to the right and put to flight a second group of isolated archers.



    In stages our main line reaches the enemy and engages. We are superior in number and quality.



    While his army dies behind him, another Egyptian captain rides with his cavalry archers to duel our well entrenched and veteran Norse archers. It is a mistake almost as glaringly obvious as abandoning his militia troops in the face of our advance.



    The Prince and his men encourage a third unit of archers to flee. These men have more fight in them, but they don't last long.



    With his whole force running for the hills behind him, the enemy captain is killed in an arrow barrage, and his horsemen break at the sight. Emund lets them go.





    Prince Emund's Eagle guard showed exceptional skill on the field today, and gained valuable experience accounting for over a hundred of our foes themselves. The prisoners are offered for a fair ransom, and for the first time the Egyptians accept and pay some five hundred florins for their release. Concerned about the wild chances Prince Emund is taking on the field, King Charles dispatches a veteran warrior to his side.

    Here is the world as we know it, with our path through it marked in white:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  24. #24

    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    So, Jerusalem is taken, now it is time to prepare for Mongols. They should be coming soon, won't they?
    Black holes really suck.

  25. #25
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    The Mongols went north from Sarkel, the jerks. They came in about turn 64-65. I've got something cooked up with Emund though, we'll end up getting to them, probably right around the time the Timurids show up. Should be fun!

  26. #26
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    King Charles decides that the castle at Adana is unecessary with Caesarea in our control and few enemies likely to make an attack on those high plains from the sea, so Adana is taken off a military footing and converted to a town. We command so many greater fortresses in the area, and so many powerful armies, that this may be but a test case for the dismantling of other castles in our zone of control. Additionally some money is gained from the sale of the military structures that would be inappropriate to a township.

    Besieging Damascus and Edessa, turn 82.

    The Council sends a brave young nobleman to the Prince, surely hoping to reproduce the success they had with Sweyn so long ago, but the man is sent on his way. Almost all the men they send are disloyal in one way or another, and what's more the King knows it. Perhaps they only continue with this gambit to show contempt. In any event, King Charles has decided that the best counter to maintain his son's loyalty is to actually provide him with some of the power the councillors whisper into his ear about. The title of King of the Goths was resurrected for the Prince, and as a practical matter is taken to mean he holds lordship of the northern lands of the Danes, from Nicaea to Aleppo. Sir Sighvat, who has proved an invaluable administrator in rich but fractious Antioch, is also placed under his command. Privately the King let slip that this is but the first step in a comprehensive plan for the peaceful passage of power from his hands to those of his son.

    The merchant's guild in Nicaea is improved, and all our merchants are to be trained there. France is reconciled with the Papacy on the death of their King. King Charles' army lays siege to Damascus, and awaits only the arrival of our siege engines to begin the assault. We have spies within the walls, but they cannot guarantee the gates can be opened.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The battle against heresey continues north of Nicaea, and more heretics are seen in Turkish lands to the north and east of Aleppo. Rioting continues in Constantinople. One of our diplomats in Europe, Snorri, chances upon a lovely Sicilian Princess returning from negotiations with the Russians. Discussing Sicily's conflict with the Pope and our recently matured Prince Emund, they discover a common interest, and negotiate an alliance by wedding of our two great nations. Princess Chola of Sicily and a small sum of florins arrive for Prince Emund later in the year, in exchange we prevail upon the Pope to declare a ceasefire with the Sicilians. Emund's new wife is both fair and admirable, and it is hoped she will be a calming influence on the young man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Emund's odd speeches increasingly target Muslims as a scourge of the Holy Lands. His view of them is quite simplistic, and he makes no distinction between our Egyptian enemies and our Moorish allies in his invective laden diatribes. The men under his command are fiercely devoted to him though. He sends a small detatchment of cavalry riding ahead of him to begin the siege of Edessa.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    A rebel army sits by the Turkish fortress at Mosul, but they do not lay siege. Shortly after reporting this, our spy at Mosul is killed attempting to inflitrate the fortress.

    Besieging Damascus and Edessa, turn 83.

    Another noble suitor for Hrefna is sent away. Another popular Danish priest, Jens Bluetooth, is called to duty as a Cardinal. He immediately goes to work trying a heretic. We lose some merchants around Constantinople, but Nicaea trains fresh ones while our more experienced traders reap the benefits of putting merchants from other nations out of business. Adana now functions fully as a town. Our spies watching over Gaza report that the Egyptians have emptied the citadel of it's garrison and sent those men to slow a Venetian Crusader army. The veteran captain Frederik at Jerusalem decides to exceed his orders to take advantage of this mistake, and marches out with a force to make a quick assault with the spies' aid.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    The mighty final redoubt, a vast slab of stone, sits high on a hill behind three gates, and soldiers under any other captain would be intimidated at the thought of this attack, but our man knows his business after years on the road south. The men march right through the gates leading to the final square, where the enemy commander, Amir, and his bodyguard await.





    After noting their numbers and position, he sends his Norse Archers onto the walls flanking the gate, and holds his swordsmen outside the gates. When the enemy comes under fire, they'll rush us and won't be able to make a good charge through the relatively narrow gate. The enemy is aware of this predicament as well, and even as our archers draw their bows he spurs his men forward to the gate.



    They are tough men, and mounted. Their general is hardy, and leads the attack personally on the right. The fight looks to be a difficult one, but our captain calls out a single word, 'NOW!'



    The archers descend from the walls and draw swords, taking the enemy in the rear and cutting down several horsemen before the Egyptians realize what is happening.



    When the enemy general looks back to see what is going wrong for his force, Frederik rushes forward and opens the Egyptian stallion's belly. Thrown harshly into the street, Amir finds he has fought his way so far forwards that his men cannot protect him. He dies with a surprised look on his face. (Yep, that's a partial horse's head intruding in the shot and Captain Frederik appears to be looking at the camera with mild curiousity, but I don't have control for the 'general death' videos and this one wasn't as bad as some.)



    With their commander dead, the men of his guard turn to try to fight their way back to the square for a last stand. When the Norse Archers hold firm, they break and lay down their swords.





    8500 florins are taken from Gaza, and rejuvenate our coffers so that we can undertake the work of expanding the city of Antioch with huge walls. A spy we sent north long ago to seek the Mongols at last discovers at least one of their powerful generals near Russia's eastern border.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Besieging Damascus and Edessa, turn 84.

    Trying to take advantage of Emund's increasingly dire pronouncements about a clash of civilizations with Islam, the nobles send a third son who was in training to be a priest to beg adoption. Like all the others, he is sent away. Another Danish priest is called to Cardinalhood, increasing our voice with the Pope. The clearing out of heretics goes on apace in his hands, and around Constantinople. Meanwhile a member of Egypt's royal family has crept down into our lands north of Jerusalem. Huscarls are sent out to try to capture him.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Though surrounded, he will not surrender, and a battle ensues. In the melee Samy is killed.





    Captain Niels is one of the new generation of young captains in our armies and puts his name forward, but this small scuffle was hardly a proving ground for adoption into the family. The full extent of the Mongol's gathered might is revealed by our spy, who further sends word that they are Muslims. Emund works this information into his dark predictions of total war between the faiths.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Concerned with more immediate matters, King Charles proceeds with the assault on Damascus. The Gray Wolves ride to battle again!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Predictably our spy network throws open the gates for us, and we Wolves ride for them with the rising sun behind us to blind our enemies on the walls.



    Egyptian spearmen and archers flee outer streets in terror all around the city as our cavalry rides in among them, causing much death and panic.







    Norse Axemen, cleaning up a fleeing unit of archers on the main street, are stunned to find that the enemy has a catapult in his square. A pair of huge flaming stones crashes into the unit, incinerating many men.



    Shaken but defiant, the axemen surround the remaining enemy archers and give them no quarter. When the butchery is finished, hacked off limbs and heads are hurled towards the enemy catapults before the axemen pull back to safer streets. An errant parting shot from the catapults demolishes a building outside the enemy square.



    The Gray Wolves have chased some Egyptians all the way to the square, and into the teeth of an ambush by Mamluks and spearmen. I urge the King to pull back, but he exhorts us to fight it out and finish off the dangerous Mamluks.



    The last archers from Damascus' guard are killed by Huscarls in full view of the enemy general. Sitting in the square, they will have no means of striking at us.



    At the square the Gray Wolves have finished off the Mamluks, and nearly destroyed the spearmen that aided them. Rather than ride up to face us himself, Crown Prince az Zafir sends his toughest remaining spears to charge us. The catapults in the square are slowly being turned in our direction as well. This time King Charles listens when I urge him to pull us back, and we rest two streets back towards the gate, leaving a mighty pile of enemy dead behind us.





    There is a lull in the battle, and word reaches us of the casualties our men took from that enemy catapult. Never one to leave a good idea untested, the King orders his catapults and ballistae brought into the city. Our most skilled ballista team, with buildings all around them being struck and burned by flaming rocks, nonetheless targets and destroys both enemy catapults.



    With little left to fear at range from the Egyptians massed in the square, we bracket them with catapult and ballista fire to begin dismantling their few remaining troops.



    Now az Zafir must act, or his men will turn on him themselves! He charges the position of the ballista that destroyed his catapults. Axemen and mounted knights respond quickly, while foot knights are commanded to rush through the enemy's town center to cut off any retreat for az Zafir and his men. The last two Egyptian archers are casually cut down along the way.





    Realizing his situation quickly, az Zafir attempts to retreat to the square where his men, still under heavy fire from other streets, are cowering. They will attempt no rescue. The foot knights hold, and mounted knights take az Zafir's guard from behind. Beset on all sides, the general falls and his guard's will breaks.





    The bombardment continues. When a unit of spearmen gather their courage and decide to die attacking, the Gray Wolves ride to cut them off from the square, and they shatter like glass.





    Taking heart, the enemy's toughest spearmen rush to relieve their fellows; we kill a few but as we are tiring the King orders us to fall back rather than risk a drawn out engagement with fresh, tough spears. The catapult behind us rapidly teaches them toughness is useless in the face of a half ton burning projectile, and they go scuttling back to the square sucking scorched fingers.





    When they turn their backs King Charles leads the Gray Wolves' charge! They cannot turn again in time to bring their spears to bear. Seeing our charge, the rest of the Danes attack to bring an end to this siege.





    Though the King's guard gave twenty five lives to take Damascus, we sent ten times their number in dead Egyptians ahead of them. The valour of the Wolves is undiminished by now deserving the moniker 'gray,' but I confess to wondering sometimes if King Charles doesn't feel a desire to die in glorious battle as his father did before him. His enemies dub him King Charles the Mauler, and field tyrant after this siege. Ransom on the prisoners is refused and thirteen thousand florins are taken from the sack of Damascus in addition to the twenty five hundred florin prize the Council pays.

  27. #27
    Member Member Ferret's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Cool idea Ramses and a good read too, looking forward to the fight with the mongols.

  28. #28
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Siege of Edessa, turn 84.

    The pattern holds with the parade of nobles begging adoption. With the Prince gaining power and prestige year by year as the King sets it aside, the nobles increasingly see him as a threat to their position in our kingdom. King Knud battled the council, King Charles owed his assumption of power in part to their support, but Prince Emund simply ignores them. The man follows his own council. My son Aethelwulf, captain of Emund's Eagles, shares this concern and tries to ward the Prince from any desperate move by the council. Word from our spies is that the riots at Constantinople have ceased as the mercenaries made a demonstration of power, putting a crowd of protestors to the sword and crucifying the ring leaders. The news enrages Emund, who takes control of the men at the walls of Edessa and launches his assault.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our spies fail us for once, but the Prince is prepared. He rushes two ladder teams over the walls to throw open the gates. The small enemy garrison cannot respond quickly enough to prevent it.



    The Eagles fly forth, rushing through Edessa's square to cut off the Egyptian spearmen who were so slow at the walls earlier.



    Emund orders a charge before the spearmen can set their formation, and the Eagles crash into them.



    The Prince's battle madness overtakes him, and he rides across the foremost rank of spearmen raining down death strokes until they throw down their weapons in terror and beg for mercy.





    Norse Archers harass the Egyptian cavalry in the square, and obligingly they charge. Huscarls meet them, and Eagles sweep in to cut off their retreat.



    Emund, his unblemished plate mail gleaming in contrast to the enemy's mud colored mail jerkins, disembowels one of the lightly armored horsemen, and the courage of the remainder fails. The day, and the town, are ours!





    A few thousand florins are secured and Emund begins work on a church before departing on the east road for Mosul. To the north he orders diplomats to demand the surrender of the fortress from the Turks, who are reported by spies to have only Crown Prince Tutush and some spearmen holding it.

    Besieging Mosul, turn 85.

    One of Prince Emund's drinking buddies is the next noble to step forward, and the next to depart in disgrace. The Nobles also put it to Emund that the castle at Smyrna should be retaken, and no matter that it was given to Egypt. Clearly Emund mulls the idea, as he works into his speeches the failure of the Danes to answer the Pope's calls to crusade as a far greater dishonor than a technical breach of an agreement with Muslims. Emund considers Aleppo pacified and further orders that it be coverted to a town.

    Under a weaker Emperor than old Henry, the Holy Roman Empire has fallen so far that they become mere vassals of the Hungarians. In Damascus King Charles recruits new men for his bodyguard and considers his next move. Certain that Emund can pacify the north, we must surely strike south for Egypt's heartland, but the King and I aren't getting any younger. It was once our hope that with the burden of Odin aquitted we could retire to estates in the Holy Land, and leave the concerns of war and statesmanship to the next generation. The weight of duty, however, bears us on, and we prepare to march south when word reaches us of failed negotiations with the Turks. Over the paltry sum of three thousand florins more than we have to commit, they will risk war.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Emund declares that they shall have it and lays siege to Mosul with a force of untried Huscarls. Venice and Hungary both dissolve their alliances with us to stand by the Turks, but time will make a mockery of that choice.

    We negotiate an alliance with Spain through their army of Crusaders that approaches Constantinople and thus bring about a ceasefire between them and French and Moors. Some small Turkish and Egyptian forces are found in the area around Edessa, but nothing to be feared. The work of building churches and dispatching heretics is pursued with great vigor across our lands. The former garrison of Gaza is spotted on the border, and reinforcements are sent there against an attack.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    An emissary of Egypt brings an offering of peace to us, and our diplomats respond by demanding Constantinople in exchange. Their man departs in a huff.

    Siege of Mosul, turn 86.

    In their struggle to impress the Prince, the council has sunk to a new low by sending a man named Erik Emundsson to beg for position. Prince Emund has a good laugh before dismissing the fool. Spies report the force on the border at Gaza is led by Sayf ad Din of Damanhur, a dauntless and loyal servent of the Sultan. Acre is given up to Emund's control, and he orders it converted to a town. Perhaps it is only his inexperience talking, but he says we have no need to fear assault from the sea. Riding ahead of his main army, King Charles confronts a force of rebels west of Gaza who flee his wrath, and drafts a letter asking Prince Emund to avoid direct involvement in battle during the period of the succession. At Mosul Emund proceeds with his assault against the small enemy force.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our ladder teams draw the lone group of spearmen to the west wall where they stare into the setting sun as our ram makes it's way unmolested to the gates.



    When the gates crack the outer walls falls uncontested as the enemy retreats to the inner keep.



    The ram does it's work again, and the spearmen retreat to the square where our untested Huscarls surround them.



    Emund chafes at the necessity of standing aside from battle, but restrains himself. Negotiations with Crown Prince Tutush are brief, and consist primarily of rude gestures. Prince Emund commands his men to pinch the spearmen first.



    When Tutush turns his bodyguard to relieve the spearmen, Huscarls assail him from all sides before he can bring any aid.



    As the spearmen are vanquished, the Huscarls complete the encirclement and drag down Egypt's Crown Prince, bringing Mosul under our control.





    Six thousand more florins swell our coffers to their richest state since the siege of Constantinople, and Baghdad lies ahead with only a few hardy spearmen to guard her walls.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Having found the siege of Mosul little sated his desire for battle, Emund immediately rides out to drive back the rebels nearby. He later claims that he believed his father's letter only applied to battles against real armies, not riding down a few bandits in the desert.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The rebels are arrayed on the highest hilltop in the area, but a ridge on their left will allow us to equal their height and so avoid charging uphill.



    As we make for it, the captain leading this scum rides forward to harry us with arrows, and Emund moves to screen his slower, less armored Huscarls. The horsemen retreat behind their infantry at top speed.



    Sliding their line to be perpendicular to the ride, the enemy infantry advances and Danish Huscarls turn to meet them. Prince Emund has manuevered his Eagles in behind the rebel commander, and pins him against his own infantry to neutralize his speed.



    The Huscarls fight fiercely to reach the Prince's banner, and with one squad sweeping down the rear of the enemy line their militia infantry breaks mere moments after the melee is joined.



    Seeing his men put to flight, their captain screams in fear and struggles to retreat through the line of Eagles. The fight, once joined, was as brief as any recorded in our whole campaign.





    Spies report Alexandria, as with all the other Egyptian cities we have taken, is lightly garrisoned. Egypt counts too highly the valour of their generals, that or they are a family of fools.

    West of Gaza, turn 87.

    A drunken, dissolute, and disloyal noble by the name of Milling presents himself to Prince Emund, and is sent packing. Pope Gaitanus dies in Rome, and Papal elections are held immediately. Jens Bluetooth, a venerable Dane, is one of the Preferati and has the King's full support, of course. Given the duration of our alliances with the three other voting nations, Jens' election is very nearly a foregone conclusion.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    And so it goes, with every free vote going for our man. On his assumption of the Papacy, he declares himself to be Pope Simon. Surely having a Danish Pope shows that we have the favor of God in our cause! Certainly the tone of Emund's frequent forays into public speaking alters. Where he once preached desolation and darkness, he now can see the touch of God's mercy on his chosen instrument, the Danes. Still his messages are full of apocalyptic visions and dire predictions, but the King chooses not to attempt to reign him in. Indeed, the King gives more of his responsibilities to Emund every day. It is only at Emund's own insistence that his sycophants do not already call him King of the Danes as well as of the Goths.



    Portugal, England, Milan, and Sicily are reconciled. A letter arrives stating that King Charles' sister, the Empress Ingrid, has died peacefully in her sleep. Another Egyptian city scouted, and another found to have an absurdly inadequate garrison.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    King Charles leads a small army of cavalry against the pathetic rebels that fled his previous attack, west of Gaza.

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    We surround the peasants and light spearmen before charging home. I personally lanced their fool captain and pinned him to the ground, at which point the lot of them threw up their hands and wailed for forgiveness. None is given, for to show mercy in these hostile lands would be tantamount to encouraging rebellion. We ride them down to a man, and leave their corpses for desert rats to gnaw.





    Word of this act goes ahead of us, and at the border Sayf ad Din falls back before us, but not far enough. His force is little better than hill bandits themselves, and we press home our attack in the moonlight.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The mere sound of our rapid approach causes the Egyptians to flee the high ground in utter disarray. The Gray Wolves speed to the slaughter, catching an unprotected catapult crew on the enemy right attempting to escape.





    As our swordsmen engage Egypt's spears the King's guard rides down the line behind them, seeking Sayf ad Din, who rides away from us in some haste, clearly hoping to engage anyone but the Wolves. Sayf's reputation as a dauntless warrior will no more survive this battle than the man himself.



    A scattered line of foot knights calls off pursuit of some broken spearmen to trap Sayf and hold him for the King.



    Our charge smashes most of his bodyguard, but the general himself slips away before the jaws of the trap can close.



    Attempting to flee the field Sayf inadvertently rides into the middle of another unit of foot knights chasing spearmen in the night. He and his last two guardsmen are killed, and the battle is brought to an end.





    Ransom is refused, and, sick of slaughtering men who have surrendered honorably in battle, King Charles swears a vow to release all further prisoners our army takes in it's push through the remains of Egypt. Perhaps my age is getting to me, and one of these men we set free will carry my death on his second try, but I heartily approve of this measure. Veterans of a battle, on either side, owe at least some measure of respect to one another. I am convinced Emund will see things differently, at least against Muslims.

  29. #29
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Siege of Baghdad, turn 88.

    Chola has given Prince Emund a son! He is named Stenkil, and he will carry forward the line of Kings. Though both of my sons, Aethelwulf and Magnus, are married to fine, plump young women neither has given me a son yet. I will demand that they redouble their efforts, the young prince will need a guard.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The Turk's Crown Prince Masud guards Yerevan, their capital, unaided according to our spies. They further report that he has a eunuch in his retinue, and having asked after the meaning of this word I must confess I find it a terrible thing. Perhaps there is something to Prince Emund's claims that Islam is an alien religion full of intolerable practices. Aided by spies, Emund launches the attack on Baghdad. Negotiations at the enemy square go better on this day, and the Egyptians surrender their spears without a battle and go peacefully into the peasant's life. The example Emund made of Tutush at Mosul doubtless weighed heavy in their minds as the Prince's Huscarls surrounded them.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Nine thousand florins are taken from Baghdad, and in putting some of the more outspoken peasants to death order is restored to the restless city. Emund puts a few more rebels to the sword west of Baghdad, but the battle is not worthy of note except that he again put himself in the line of fire despite King Charles' orders.

    East of Cairo, turn 89.

    The next pawn the Nobles send before us is a faultless young man named for old King Knud. Prince Emund decides that it's long past time to start building a coalition among the nobles to oppose the old guard, and so takes the loyal young man into his confidence. Adoption into the family is out of the question, but he leaves camp with the understanding that under Emund the wars we're engaged in will take a new tone. The men of the Council must make their decisions individually, come along or fall behind. Sitting around collecting coin and failing to manipulate the throne isn't purposeful, and the Prince won't waste time on it. Knud goes away with much to think on.

    The Spanish crusade army arrives at Constantinople, where the Hungarians still dither about, unwilling to lay siege. Time will tell if the sons of Spain will prove more bold. A small force of Egyptian rebels blocks the road to Cairo, and King Charles leads the Gray Wolves out at night to clear them away.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our enemies are blind fools, mustered for battle but facing the wrong direction halfway down a steep slope. This will be a bloody rout.



    Unit by unit we lance them, riding away into the darkness afterward to leave their allies confused. As the night wears on the spearmen increasingly cower and wail, some even throwing down their shields and spears at the mere sound of our hoofbeats approaching.



    Desperately peering downslope into the moonlight, the last of our opponents is shocked into flight when we ride over the crest of the hill and into their backs. The Wolves performed admirably, taking no casualties in battle though far outnumbered.





    Northwest of Baghdad Prince Emund discovers a small army under an Egyptian General named Shaykh al-Su'ud. Unwilling to wait for reinforcements, he attacks with just his veteran Huscarls at his side.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Riding hard Emund's men catch the enemy struggling to reposition. While the Eagles pin the Egyptian spears, Huscarls scatter and run down his archers before they can loose a single arrow.







    Before al-Su'ud can organize a counter charge with his bodyguard, Emund pulls back to wait for the Huscarls. Unwilling to abandon his spearmen, the enemy commander must sit and watch as we surround his spears.



    We deliver a series of charges against the affrighted militia troops back to back, like the beats of a drum. When the Eagles land the third blow, they are obliterated. Only the Shaykh remains.





    Again we array ourselves so as to surround him, and again he does nothing, surely afraid to pursue any one of us lest the other two take him in the rear.



    Emund's intent is to capture the man for ransom, so he sets some Huscarls as an anvil and hammers in on all sides.



    Realizing his peril, al-Su'ud and four of his guardsmen slip between the Eagles and the smaller group of Huscarls to flee the field. The day is ours, but Prince Emund swears a terrible oath to see Shaykh al-Su'ud dead if the man should ever come against him again.





    Prince Emund releases the forty prisoners of this battle to carry word of his oath to the enemy. Emund's reputation as a commander is enhanced, but the Egyptians also say that he is a merciless mauler and a dreadful enemy. A small garrison is left at Baghdad as Emund takes the rest of his army north towards Turkish lands. King Charles is displeased that Emund places himself in such danger, but his son is now a man and in truth already becoming the ruler of his people. Acknowledging this fact, the King officially gives Jerusalem into Emund's control, keeping only Gaza under Charles' direct control as a base of operations for us. The King's army rides on to Cairo and lays siege.

    Siege of Cairo, turn 90.

    Another loyal young man comes before Emund, Sten of Aalborg, and again Emund takes him into confidence on his plans for the nations. If Emund can build a coalition among the nobles that favors him over the old guard much will be smoothed in the administration of our empire. The Pope attacks the Moors, causing us to dissolve our long held alliance with the Moorish people. Also our spies in the north report that the Mongol armies have turned south, towards Turkish lands... and ours. Emund uses these opportunities to deliver a black and fiery speech that is quickly published throughout Danish lands.

    'Down through the long and hard years since we departed our homelands under the curse of the old gods we have neglected our duties to the one true God! Christianity is no ephemeral shackle, to be taken up or cast aside at a whim. When the Pope speaks, he speaks with the voice of GOD! For too long have we ignored this voice, failing to take up arms and Crusade for our faith. Now we reap the whirlwind! Islamic depredations threaten on every side, from the filthy Moors of the far west warring with the seat of Catholicism itself, to the Mongols of the north who even now make haste for our own borders!

    Death and darkness gather, and who will uphold the light to oppose them? A gutting candle our devotion has been, but no longer. I swear it, in my father's name and my own, I will reforge our people into a mighty weapon for God. The armies of the infidels will shatter against us. Islam itself will end! This is our Crusade, to which we will devote ourselves with one mind and one heart.

    So says your Prince! Any who do not follow me will fall and become as the dust of my trail.'

    Sir Sighvat, longtime administrator of Antioch, is ordered out of the city and onto the road west. He will be the first of us to take ship in many long years, with orders to sail to Moorish lands and annihilate them. The practical part of me can see this clearly for what it is, a clever political move on Emund's part. If the prohibition on sailing holds, Emund has dismissed a potential rival and can claim his lack of faith brought about his own end. If not, Sighvat is still effectively gone from the Danish political scene for many years. Sighvat, no fool himself, sees this as well, and as a statement of loyalty names his newborn son after Emund's own year old babe; Stenkil Chemnitz becomes the newest member of the royal family. A daughter, Geirny, is also born to Princess Chola.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    East of Gaza the Egyptian Sultan is spotted riding out of the desert, and King Charles orders cavalry dispatched under a local captian to capture him.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Our man attempt to negotiate with Sultan Nasser, but the general must be sun mad from marching in the desert as he ignores all entreaties. His hand forced, captain Gunnar orders an attack.



    Captain Gunnar rides down the line, seeking the Sultan out personally. The man's bodyguards are a hardy lot, and fight desperately to protect their leader, but Gunnar carves a path to the man eventually.



    A blow to Sultan Nasser's head in the exchange with Captain Gunnar seems to clear the man's thoughts, and he screams an order for his men to cover his retreat.



    Captain Gunnar knows he cannot allow the Sultan to escape, and drives his Huscarls hard to cut the enemy off. Gunnar cuts down Sultan Nasser personally.





    Of course for this brave deed, and the desert battle was no doubt a difficult one, Gunnar puts his name forward for promotion. Alas for Gunnar, not only is his loyalty to the King questionable, his task was not to kill the Sultan but capture him. King Charles dismisses his request. Another pair of heretics are discovered and tried in formerly Turkish lands. A Venetian Crusade army arrives at Constantinople, but finds the road blocked by the Spanish.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    At besieged Cairo Egypt crowns her new Sultan, and on the day of the celebration King Charles launches his assault! Inside the city are the Sultan's guard, several trebuchet crews, and a few militia archers.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Attacking in broad daylight, unusually for the King, he had hoped to take the city by surprise but we find them well prepared. Ballista towers pound foot Knights pushing a ram towards the south gate. The west gate in unheld against our second ram.



    The gates fall quickly, and our troops pour into the city. Knights catch the militiamen from the front as the Gray Wolves ride by behind them, killing a few but moving on to capture the enemy trebuchet teams.



    Struggling to turn their immense war machines in the narrow city streets, engineers at the trebuchets are shocked to be attacked so suddenly by King Charles and his guard.



    The militia archers behind the Wolves realize their plight and break, streaming into the Wolves from behind. We've been in this situation before, and handle them easily. Meanwhile, our primary group of foot knights moves up the main southern street and captures two more trebuchet.



    To the west Huscarls run down the masters of four more trebuchet, leaving none in the enemy square to launch projectiles at us. One man from these crews defiantly refuses to surrender, but bravery does not slow the stroke of a heavy axe.



    At the square we lance a few more crewmen and offer Sultan Mostafa a chance to surrender mere hours after his coronation. He refuses, but the square and the city are ours.





    King Charles releases the few prisoners and in the sack of Cairo we take nearly twenty thousand florins.

    Riding down to Jerusalem on his own by relay Prince Emund reaches the place and has three days of prayer and fasting in the holy city. On the third day he emerges before the people and proclaims that he has had a vision from God. Jerusalem today, and eventually all the cities of the Levant, must be surrendered to the Papacy in order to secure the Holy seat against Muslim perfidy, and to make restitution for our failure to answer the call to crusade. To ease the transfer of power we will delay ten years between each city. God has promised a terrible reckoning if his will is not carried out; all the lands between Caesarea in the north and Gaza in the south must prepare themselves.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    A look at the state of the known world:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    (So obviously the game was becoming too easy just wiping out Turkey and Egypt, hence Emund's proclamation. Sundering our empire by giving up Jerusalem also caused a sharp drop in loyalty in many cities, but it couldn't be avoided. I'm going to do nothing to prepare against the Timurids (Especially no cannon towers!) so they can be a shock, we'll see how far they make it and where they come in. Should be nasty. )

  30. #30
    Prince Louis of France (KotF) Member Ramses II CP's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Viking Migration

    Siege of Alexandria, turn 91.

    Another of Emund's drinking buddies puts his name forward for adoption, and is refused but inducted into the Prince's rapidly growing cabal of supporters. With so many lands and so much wealth in our hands a policy of conciliation and enrichment is working wonders among the youngest of the loyal nobility. Despite his oddities, Emund will no doubt be a very popular King. The Germans add another crusade army to the pile up around Constantinople, the fourth in the area. Only the Spanish have yet laid siege. Our spies assure us that the gates at Alexandria will pose no problem, so King Charles takes a portion of the army out of Cairo and launches a sneak attack under cover of darkness.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Crown Prince al Mu'izz leads the Egyptians, and the shock is evident on his face as we pour through the gates, catching him in full flight towards the town square. He dies with that look of suprise still on him when I ride by and cut him down in the first stunning moments of our assault, throwing his defenders into chaos.





    At the east gate War Clerics catch archers fleeing the walls, and on the west side Huscarls smash a few ballista men. A lone madman on a fast pony charges the Gray Wolves, trying to reach the King and avenge the Crown Prince. He dies quickly.



    Our cavalry carve a bloody path up the streets to the square, where al Mu'izz's bodyguards are gathering, trying to drum up an effective defense. Once the foot knights catch up to us, we charge!



    Losses are light. After the battle King Charles orders the hundred prisoners released, but the city is sacked as a demonstration of power, to bring the infidels in line. Eighteen thousand florins are taken. The King's reputation is as tricky as ever, and he becomes known as King Charles the Merciful for his charitable acts after battle.



    At Constantinople the Spanish launch their attack, and due to our alliance the local Danish observers are caught up in the battle. Resolved to honor our treaty obligations, Captain Hardeknud attempts to reach allied lines in time. (Unecessary technical side note, if you are the reinforcements to a battle and your captain or general cannot fight at night, do not select 'attempt a night attack,' to try to exclude your men from the battle. The game will crash.)

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Prince Horacio, for all his reputed prowess as a general, favors a brute force strategy over any tactical niceties. His men throw everything they have at the walls immediately, ignoring the hail of arrows and tower bolts.



    When the gates break, the long suffering Egyptian mercenaries who sat through riots even before the siege began, break also, fleeing for the square. Our men must make haste if they are to take part in the battle at all.



    By the time we ride into the square, fighting is done, and the city belongs to Spain.



    In a terrible act of violence, the Spaniards exterminate Constantinople. When word reaches the King he is first devastated, then wrathful. That mighty Constantinople should be brought so low, and clearly as a result of our own honorless dealings with Egypt, is a stain of shame that will long darken our lineage. Though it may further harm her, the city must be brought back under our control so that we can be redeemed. To this end King Charles withdraws our priests and orders the infiltration of spies as rapidly as they can be trained. It will take time, but the Spain and Prince Horacio will pay the price of their vile act.

    Near Alexandria, turn 92.

    Another loyal, chivalrous noble is refused adoption but recruited to Emund's cause. The shift in power is becoming clearer with every passing year, as cities, guilds, and peasants rush to obey orders they may once have delayed or slouched through. Emund is a curious choice for a uniter, but however outlandish his words may sound to the educated they rally the people and the next generation of nobles admirably. At Antioch the local Explorer's Guild is upgraded to be their headquarters. The Pope sends a small sum of florins to reward our participation in the crusade for Constantinople. Considering the fate of that once great city, the coin is a slap in the face. Sighvat boards a fleet of Dragon boats at Iconium's port. We were forced to hire experienced locals to man the boats, but they float and even sailing out of port no ill befell them. Odin's curse is demonstrably gone!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Even with this proof the men no longer take to the boats the way they did in my grandfather's generation. At Dongola, south of Cairo, Sultan Marsal of Egypt sits and stews on the rapid decline of his empire. The Wolves won't leave him to worry for long. East of Alexandria King Charles meets some huscarls and knights out of Gaza, and begins to pursue an Egyptian army amidst the bridges. In the far north the Mongols appear to be turning back east for some reason. Emund has ordered most of the veteran soldiers to march north, towards his predicted apocalyptic confrontation. Yerevan, the Turk's capital, is scouted and found to be suffering riots. It should prove easy to capture, once the long march north is complete. To that end, Emund's army attacks a Turkish force in the pass north of Mosul.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Captain Abi is clearly unsure of the quality of his men, as he sets their backs to an impossibly steep ridge, leaving them no direct line of retreat. We begin the attack by pinching and picking off the outlying Sipaphis.



    Sliding down the ridge on their flank, Emund's Eagles crash into a frightened unit of archers while the main body of infantry and Huscarls approaches.



    The enemy archer screen in front of their line routs on impact with our huscarls, who harry them off the field. The infantry follow as soon as our swordsmen make contact, and the battle is won with only a handful of the mounted Turks escaping.





    Almost three hundred Turkish soldiers surrendered to us, and Emund commands that they be killed. In groups of ten they are led to a steep cliff, knifed, and thrown off the edge. Bloody work, but once done Emund again sparks the fire of anger in his men with a detailed speech on the depravities of the infidel.

    Jihad, turn 93.

    A Turkish Imam named Al-Sadat has the termerity to call a jihad against Jerusalem. Prince Emund is incensed, and the news is only slightly offset by the birth of his second son, Sten. It seems very unlikely that any jihad army can be gathered and brought down out of the mountains past Prince Emund's army, especially since Yerevan is besieged. With our spies to incite it, rioting breaks out in Constantinople.

    Southeast of Alexandria King Charles again uses the cool covering darkness to attack the Egyptians.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Egypt's Tulun Yasser aligns his companies of ballista and catapults with a sheltering farmhouse to hold their flank. Keen eyed, he spots us charging out of the darkness and points his sword, screaming orders for the spearmen to set their spears.



    But we are the Gray Wolves! Long lances impale dozens of cowering militia spearmen who, under the faint sliver of a moon, cannot see to strike back.



    As the last struggling spearmen are crushed the King rides on ahead, eager to seek a more worthy foe.



    On the left a depleted group of War Clerics hold some powerful Mamluks while mounted knights charge them from behind. In the center Huscarls join the King in cutting a path through terrified catapult crews.



    Yasser is reluctant to come forward to meet us, but our foot knights are nearing the battle and if he waits to long he will be vastly outnumbered. At last he engages, and instantly Huscarls sweep in behind him. Tulun Yasser falls to the dark sand in a fan of blood; the King's warhorse reared up and struck the indecisive general down with a powerful blow from it's forehoof.



    The Egyptians have had little heart for this battle from the start, and now they flee. Few escape.



    Tulun Yasser and sixty of his men are set free to slink away south and carry word of King Charles' ever improving command ability.

    Besieging Yerevan, turn 94.

    England is once again excommunicated. Our diplomats arrange an alliance with Portugal, with the goal of having a secure northern border when Sighvat brings the battle to the Moors. No troops can be spared from Alexandria or Cairo, so the Gray Wolves ride south for Dongola alone. If the garrison there is not improved, and if our spies can crack the gates, we should have no trouble capturing the castle. Swordsmen are marching down the slow road to Jedda as well, also aided by spies. The mass of our armies, including all our veteran troops, continue to move north in support of Prince Emund, who is now King in all but name. His influence with the nobles, and the rights and priveleges given to him by his father, allow him to manage all the lands of the Danes effeciently and to one purpose.

    The destruction of Islam.

    Besiegeing yerevan, turn 95.

    The Knights Hospitaller ask to build a chapter house at Iconium in the same year that it suffers a deadly earthquake, though the death toll is light. Perhaps they seek to prove their bravery? The offer is accepted graciously. Prince Toraren comes of age at Alexandria, the the King sends him a mentor to be his guide on the path of chivalry. The young man is ugly, aloof, and prim, but an excellent commander with his father's penchant for night fighting. Milan is excommunicated. The garrison at Dongola is enhanced, but the Wolves ride on alone despite it, with Toraren bringing an army along behind us.

    Some rebels are put down south of Gaza, in an insignificant battle. Under Emund's orders Damascus is presented to Pope Simon, and a curious Papal army takes control there. It may be difficult for them to keep order with only siege engine crews. Sighvat's ships are reported to be passing Corinth on their way to Iberia. A Danish diplomat reaches the Mongols, and shrewdly offers them copies of our maps as a gift. They accept. Mixed among the papers is a falsified strategic summary which appears to show our northern border very lightly defended. Prince Emund very much hopes that they will march south against the forces he is even now leading against the Turks. Unfortunately our spy amidst the Mongol camps is caught and killed.

    Siege of Yerevan, turn 96.

    A suitor comes asking after the hand of Hrefna of Vikhus, but Emund is unsure of him and sends the man away. Chola bears Prince Emund another daughter, but the midwife claims the birth has torn something in her body so that little Ulfhildr will be her last babe. Training facilities at Gaza are upgraded to produce Obudshaer, long poled, armor breaking halberd troops. So far south, in nearly pacified lands it is hard to see what fighting they may find, but it is good to have such mighty men march in our armies again.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Sultan Marsal rides out of Dongola to challenge King Charles in combat, but the King waits and comes upon him at night. In our element we take the high ground and charge their flank before they can turn.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    I bury my lance in the Sultan's horse on our charge, but the man fights on afoot for a few moments before I can bring him down. The battle is bloody, but brief.





    Striking while momentum favors us, we urge our horses on to the castle and attack under cover of darkness again. Crown Prince Ghandour's reinforcements are unaware of our rapid passage, and can give him no aid in defending the city.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Fog lies thick over Dongola, making it easy for our spy to capture the gates and throw them open before us. Riding into the inner keep we catch the enemy's spear militia retreating from the walls.



    The retreat becomes a rout, and we take all but one of them before they can reach the square. Falling back the Wolves recover our breath and prepare to duel Ghandour's bodyguard.



    We draw them out of the square into the lee of the massive stone keep for the battle. King Charles aims for the Crown Prince, and cuts a bloody path to his side.



    The mighty generals exchange blows for some moments before the Egyptian is cut on his leg. Gathering himself he calls his guard to reform back at the rally point. We draw back too, and both sides are heavily depleted by the brutal combat.



    Ghandour spurs his horse forward again, noticing too late that I and the King have him bracketed on both sides.



    When he turns to withdraw a second time, three swords find his back. Silently he slumps out of his saddle, dead before he strikes the paving stones.



    We ride in on all sides of the last Egyptian on the field, a scared young man from the Crown Prince's former bodyguard who cannot even control his horse.



    I salute the memory of the Gray Wolves who fell this day in service to their King. Down the long list of battles fought by the Wolves, these two are surely among the greatest.





    The spearmen who surrendered are released and fourteen thousand florins are taken in the sack of Dongola. With only a few Wolves to cow the populace and an angry Egyptian army outside, the people are rebellious but we will hold them here until Toraren arrives.

    In the north Prince Emund's siege train arrives with his reinforcements, and he launches the assault on Yerevan. The Turks bring what may well be the best of their troops we've yet faced to the defense of their capital.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Our men are arrayed on three sides of the city, with a smaller force to the east and our main assault coming from the south and west. Catapults begin knocking out towers along the south-west wall while the rams advance on the gates to the south and west.



    Ballistae and rams do their deadly work on Yerevan's gates, and our men advance into the city. Huscarls corner javelinmen on the west side while raiders confront spears to the east.



    Sipaphis ride eastward through the ranks of the eastern spearmen, thinking to drive back our raiders but their axes will do for horses as well as men.



    On both sides of his city Osman of Anatolia's soldiers are fleeing towards the square, but at the main gate he peers out at our motionless siege towers in amazement. They were constructed merely as a distraction. With the gates cracked dismounted Huscarls begin to advance on him.



    The battle is bloody and Osman is a mighty warrior, but he cannot hold back good Danish axes for long. A Dane runs in under his rearing horse to gut the beast, and the Turk general is crushed between his horse and the stone wall.





    Piles of dead men decorate the roads as our fresh reinforcements enter the city.



    Riding ahead beside the Axemen, Prince Emund shouts encouragement to his army while he kills.



    Losses are significant, but the day and the city are ours! Yerevan is sacked, producing fourteen thousand florins. The few dispirited Turks who surrendered are put to the sword.


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