Our Holy Roman ancestors (VH/VH) learned patience in the early councils of foreign Popes, and for centuries the empire made no Christians its foes, but only rebels, heathen Muslims, and heretics. At last, however, when the might of Hungary waxed against our longtime Polish allies, two generals of my grandfather’s generation intervened at the gates of Thorn and saved the Polish fortress. The royal marriages of our Kings to Hungarian princesses and all past efforts at friendship melted away.
Following a brief peace, hubris bred hostility, and Hungary emerged suddenly to storm and sack Vienna, while her ally Sicily landed in force at one of our island outposts to embarrass us further. So began our darkest years, for we responded in force, took all the Hungarian cities on our nearest eastern border, and annihilated Sicily. Consequently, as we had thoroughly lost our Christian prudence, our Holy Roman emperor was excommunicated, and the restless border kingdoms and even our own kin turned against us.
The only hope was to remove the Pope and elect a Holy Roman pontiff to reconcile us before the situation escalated. We took Rome, making sure the Pope was among those lost in the conflict, and our bevy of cardinals in the Holy Council carried out the plan. The emperor was reconciled, and Hungary instead was excommunicated by the new Holy Roman Pope Alexander. The pontiff settled in Florence and kept any misgivings to himself.
A powerful incursion by invading Scots in Britain was then quelled, and the ungrateful Spanish in Iberia were eliminated, whereupon we gave the new Pope two island provinces to sweeten his disposition.
Once the far western provinces were secure, we turned our attention eastward and determinedly set about conquering all of the Hungarian provinces, leaving only those farthest north. Riga and other lost territories we returned to our steadfast Polish ally, but we kept important citadels along the frontier to Kiev. The conquest was complete just as the dread plague swept through the land.
Most of the empire recovered quickly from the plague, and our numerous armies in the east were unaffected. The emperor chose that moment to call a Crusade against Jerusalem, at the heart of the new Mongol kingdom. The Egyptians had been destroyed. In the first Crusade long before, two imperial armies vanished in the desert sands near Cairo, and none had cared to journey there since. Until now. I, Markus Plitterdorf, age 27, took the cross on a field in Hungary in 1357, and gathered a host of cavalry, along with my friend, Jens von Austria, and set off to find a way to the Holy Land.
2. TWO WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
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Three Crusader armies landed together and besieged Jerusalem with no resistance. The Mongols were just then facing a grave menace from the hordes of the Timurids, who had ensconced themselves at Antioch. We had a chance to establish a nucleus of power to face and destroy all of them, and bring peace and the word of God at last to those benighted lands. The prince took Jerusalem easily and won accolades from the Pope. The emperor then turned south to Gaza, while Jens and I destroyed a nearby Mongol army in the field, composed entirely of infantry and archers. We charged them at once with our cavalry and overran their general, so that none left the field alive. Then we split the army between us, gathered reinforcements from the Prince, who remained in Jerusalem, and moved north to besiege Acre on the coast.
Prince Markus styled himself King of Jerusalem and spent a chest of gold to convince a very charming 18-year-old Hungarian princess to join him. The new alliance finally brought peace between Poland and Hungary, and raised high spirits among us all, for we had always had warm feelings for the Hungarians; particularly the prince, who thirsted for his lovely bride.
War erupted at home on two fronts while we celebrated our successes in the Holy Land. The Byzantines were disgruntled by our moving through their territories and using Thessalonica like our own port, and attacked us at Sofia. Unfortunately for them, a strong imperial army recruited in the west was just then approaching the city and vanquished them. Our grip on the Hungarian provinces was strong and we easily took Thessalonica and Constantinople to secure the entire coast of the continent. Thereafter, the Byzantines needed no extra inducement to accept peace. In Britain, too, the Scots threatened us again, and we responded with less patience than before, moving north to capture York, and also Aarhus on the Danish peninsula. The Pope did not complain until we achieved our aims.
The emperor then returned the ancient capital of Aarhus to Denmark in exchange for the hand of a disagreeable Danish princess. The emperor was in the desert marching toward Alexandria at the time and had no intention of consummating the arrangement; but the alliance established peace and prosperity in the warring lands of the north. He then gave York to the Pope as a buffer, and the Scots sued for peace. The empire was well.
I stood aside and allowed my comrade Jens von Austria to storm Acre to boost his esteem as an independent young general, but still young myself, I did not account all the risks. Jens and his whole army contracted the plague when they entered the city. Unable to help, I retreated to secure the mountain approach to Jerusalem. Jens died of the disease the following year and was buried in the new Christian church he had built in the enclosure of the citadel.
I was not strong enough to move farther north, and waited for reinforcements. Some troops were delayed at Smyrna to repel a sudden attack by the Turks, who were allies of the Mongols. The new enemy was no match for us. We took Nicaea and controlled the Bosporus completely. Meanwhile, the emperor took Alexandria, and another army supporting him from Africa took Cairo. Egypt was conquered and our rear was secure.
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Reinforcements arrived on ships, new generals were recruited from the local ranks, and finally we moved north. The Timurids were densely clustered around Antioch. The Mongols were clustered nearby around Damascus: four full armies against our three. So far, the Timurids were at war only with the Mongols, and since the Mongols refused to make peace with us, we turned our attention to convince them. One of our armies with the most units of heavy infantry besieged the city to keep the garrison off the field; a second circled and descended over the mountains to the north; and I struck directly over the mountains in the center. As the most experienced general, I took the lead. My army was smaller than the others, but strongest in cavalry. When we arrived, the other two imperial armies were nowhere in sight. The nearest Mongol army attempted to move down the hill to connect with an approaching Mongol army in the distance, but I raced out two units of mercenary Turkopoles and a unit of mounted crossbowmen to harry their rear and induce them to turn. My foot soldiers advanced to the high ground, moving slowly to conserve their energy in the mountainous terrain. A second Mongol army approached on the upward side of the hill, and they concerned me most.
We showered bolts down the hill at the Mongol army turning back toward us. When the Mongol general came closer, I committed my only heavy infantry unit and two cavalry units to charge the nearby Mongol foot soldiers on the slope, and charged myself with all but two units of the remaining cavalry to surround and kill the Mongol general. Just then, with cunning timing, the second Mongol army charged, but the spear line on our left flank held, supported by the reserve cavalry. With fortunate timing of our own, we captured the first Mongol general just as the khan leading the second army charged forward to test our center. I sent one unit of knights downhill to support the tiring knights on the slope, while the rest swerved around to catch the Khan before he could retreat. Together with the two successful cavalry units from the left and the charging spear line, we killed the khan and pushed his foot soldiers off the field. I sent more knights down the slope, and the Mongol army there finally broke after tough resistance. The third Mongol army in the distance, seeing the rout, turned and left the field. One of my reinforcements appeared on a distant hill about the same time our shouts of victory echoed across the valley.
After this defeat in the mountains, the Mongols were unable to prevent us from pouncing on Damascus. The massed armies of the Timurids still burdened them, and once Damascus was lost and their armies scattered, they were glad to make peace. The Turks accepted peace happily, too, and for a few seasons the world was quiet under the benign stewardship of the Holy Roman Empire. I traveled to Acre to heal and acquired a stablemaster there to help equip and train my cavalry officers. New armies poured in on ships from the west, and we sent priests and spies to scout around Antioch, where we intended to confront the Timurids. Instead, they came to us. I had just formed up a new army in the hills north of Damascus when three Timurid armies approached from different directions. Five imperial armies were ready for them and we combined in turn and made war on the devils.
Their elephant artillery we patiently decimated with missiles.
East of Damascus, when cavalry was lacking, the army used spears and swords to dismount the dread riders.
My contribution, facing a small detachment led by the Timurid khan and prince together, produced no great result. I formed a line on a hillside and fired into the enemy as in a gallery. Then, as the two royal leaders poised on my right, I charged on the left with foot knights and half the cavalry to deal with the heavy lancers and Timurid infantry at the base of the bowl.
The Timurid prince was poised to strike and I knew he would be unable to resist a powerful charge on my right flank as I committed forces to the left. Teutonic knights waited directly above him, and I charged with my bodyguard from the center, while the nearby spear lines closed around him. The Timurid khan hesitated, uncertain whether to push back my charging units on the left or follow and save his heir. He made directly for me. The Teutonic knights swerved to check his momentum and I fought my way through the melee to counter him, making room for the spear line to follow. The prince was already fighting for his life. There was no doubt we would win this contest, but no glory ensued, for both the prince and the khan broke free and rode off the field alive.
Our victorious imperial armies retreated to friendly territory to replenish themselves. Ships from the west continued to pour new soldiers and enterprising generals into Acre on the coast. The Timurids clustered around Antioch, their stronghold, but also continued warring against the surrounding Mongols and Turks. The emperor’s generosity to the Holy Roman Pope evidently emboldened his eminence, for at that moment the Papal States called a Crusade against Antioch to war against the Timurids. Our next army arriving on ships landed in Egypt and took the cross, while the four reequipped armies in Palestine moved north to hem in the Timurids and pave a way for the Crusaders. Slower than the other armies, I fell behind and fortunately managed to catch the khan and prince of the Timurids alone in the field. This time they would not escape. I left my infantry behind and followed them over the hills, employing fast mercenary Turkopoles to help chase them down when they ran. At last we finished them. I was not well aware yet that so far we were only fighting skirmishes. The war was yet to come.
4. FINAL CRUSADE
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In a first thrust, two armies led by Charles Godwinson attacked the main Timurid force east of Antioch, commanded by a mighty warlord with several units of heavy lancers and armored elephant artillery. The odds were slightly favorable, but only if the generals in the second army could deftly coordinate with Godwinson. The Timurid soldiers were all battle-hardened, and stood with steel and defiance even as their blood soaked the sand. One imperial general died on the field, the supporting army routed, and finally, Charles Godwinson caught in an elephant charge while chasing one of the last units of enemy heavy archers, broke and fled. His soldiers fought on to destroy one of the elephant units completely, but they remained in range of other elephant artillery on a distant hill, and they could stand no more. Two full armies of the best-equipped soldiers in the imperial arsenal blew away like paper in the wind.
My turn came next. The Crusader army marching from the south passed me in the mountains and moved directly to invest the walls of Antioch. Two imperial armies at the bridge north of the city pushed away the remaining Timurid army near the walls and joined the Crusaders in the siege, for the city had a full garrison commanded by the new Timurid khan. The two supporting armies also guarded the northern approach to the city. Timurid forces roamed the nearby provinces, but were so far hindered from moving directly to Antioch by enemy Mongols and Turks in their way. The mighty warlord remained in the field east of Antioch with his elephants and decimated army. The old governor of Damascus moved up with my former army of infantry and a few units of my cavalry that I dispatched to join him, and sought to finish him, where Godwinson had failed; but the crafty devil retreated into the vicinity of the full army just pushed southward from the northern bridge, and I saw the old man needed help.
I called the full garrison from Damascus – mostly weaker militia crossbowmen – and the strongest parts of the garrison and remnants of Godwinson’s army sequestered at Acre, and marched to a hilltop to attack the small band of steely killers, situated on a shelf of land below me. I moved the crossbowmen closer to increase their effectiveness against the nearly impregnable elephants, and slowly marched the spearmen to a close position studded with rocks. Heavy infantry followed, for I realized the whole force would eventually need to attack to overcome the beasts.
On guard! They attacked first, attempting to stampede the line.
Charging foot knights and three strong cavalry units racing down the hill encouraged the spearmen to stand, though the spectacle was terrifying.
The tusked monsters threw men aside like dolls.
Astonished, I watched from the top of the hill how my brave men toppled two units of the beasts, one by one; though in truth, the masters merely withdrew a safe distance to regain control and begin firing their long-range shells again. Nonetheless, the ground won was decisive. My foot knights charged down the hill at the Timurid heavy infantry firing missiles, previously safe behind the wall of elephants.
Satisfied that my main force was safe as it fought its way down the hillside, I turned with my two reserve cavalry units and a unit of fast mercenary Turkopoles to confront the three units of Timurid light cavalry sneaking up the hill behind us. They fought tenaciously, but their defeat was certain.
My three cavalry units that helped defeat the elephants swept to the left across the field to confront the seemingly invulnerable warlord tearing through the ranks of the governor’s force, which had tangled with the second Timurid army as soon as it marched onto the field. Without help, his whole army might rout. The Teutonic knights led, and pushed through to disorient the line of the warlord’s bodyguard and make way for the charging knights behind them. Then they swiveled and surrounded him, and the devil was soon dead.
At once, the knights charged at the general of the second army, until he managed to break free with a few companions and charged toward my lines of crossbowmen on the hill. A militia unit routed immediately, but the pavise crossbowmen stood their ground and fought back, while the nearby spearmen turned and pinned the horsemen in place. On the far side of the hill, we had annihilated the enemy horse archers and raced back to the main contest in time to help dispatch the Timurid general. I rallied my exhausted men, and we marched all together for a final push against the remaining enemy troops spread over the field. The clusters of elephants, infantry, archers, and horsemen broke one by one and fled; and with our last remaining strength, for those that did not outrun us, we cut them down without mercy and executed the prisoners. There was no place for these devils in our world.
Before we moved far from this arena of death, while the vultures still circled overhead, Antioch fell and another Timurid khan was eliminated. This turned out to be grim news, for with the evil bottle shattered, the contents slithered past us in the night through the mountain passes south of the city, spilled out over the desert sands, and coalesced in a form more menacing than before.
5. THE HORDE
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Prince Markus, King of Jerusalem, awoke in his pleasure palace to a rhythmic rumbling in the distance, like a growling thunderstorm waiting to erupt, or a restless sea casting incessantly on a rocky shore. Outside the windows, the darkest hour of night had passed and a dull rim of color etched the hills in the east. The prince-turned-king peered out, trying to penetrate the darkness, and as he became fully awake a closer rumbling separated from the low storm in the distance: a soft but insistent knocking on his stout chamber door. He strapped on a belt with a sheathed dagger and opened.
A few days later when the sun rose, the prince was mounted for war with a hastily gathered force ready to battle a powerful Timurid army outside the citadel at Acre. His precious princess was in a camp in the fastness of the hills behind him, where he deemed it far safer than in Jerusalem, where three Timurid armies circled the feebly garrisoned city like hawks sizing their prey. The strongest imperial armies were clustered around newly conquered Antioch far to the north, and two armies were able to muster and meet the prince at Acre, as far as they could travel in a forced march; but the foe slipped away. Inside Acre, only Godwinson and his severely wounded veterans remained; Gaza to the south was empty of troops; and no ships from the west appeared on the horizon.
The Timurid armies at Jerusalem followed the prince to Acre and surrounded the castle, bringing together four enemy armies. Another imperial army from the north arrived to support Prince Markus, and the two generals already on the scene embarked on ships to land south of the enemy and encircle them. A party of Mongols stopped in the coastal pass north of Antioch to spy and report. The prince struck at the weakest point of the interlocking enemy armies and forced a retreat, and then struck another army alone at night before reinforcements from either side could be deployed. The prince had the weakest of the four imperial armies present, but the enemy army was a large band of horse archers, with a general and a few heavy cavalry and infantry troops. They were easily overcome and scattered, and the prisoners executed.
Prince Markus then sent orders in the night to Markus Plitterdorf to lead an attack the next morning to engage and crush all three of the remaining Timurid armies, supported by the three imperial armies surrounding them. Plitterdorf was the most experienced general in Palestine, whom the prince recruited from the wars in Hungary to march with him across Anatolia on the way to the Crusade to Jerusalem. Now age 40, Plitterdorf was not a superb general, but he was competent and eager. He was also in the best position to attack the weakest of the three enemy armies, composed mostly of infantry troops. The others had full complements of heavy lancers and infantry, and one had four units of elephant artillery, which would best be delayed until the combined imperial forces could be deployed against them.
Athalwolf von Kassel, the young general closest to the army of Markus Plitterdorf, witnessed the whole early phase of the battle from a mountainside, while winding slowly down to the field through treacherous boulders and cliffs. He saw the glorious triumph, hesitation, resistance, and crushing defeat all played out in turn as if he were there in the mind of his peer. “I drew up my lines,” he imagined the older general thinking, “to take a hilltop overlooking a steep ravine, which I could defend until reinforcements arrived.”
… Until reinforcements arrived. For a moment, we stood as the sun rose, realizing with a bolt of fear and then grim determination that no reinforcements were approaching the field. The hill in front was defended by a Timurid army with a general and mostly infantry, which we must at all costs overcome. We rushed forward together, quickly, before the two approaching Timurid armies could come in range. The Teutonic knights and two other cavalry units cleared the heavy horse archers on the right flank and stormed forward. On the left, one cavalry unit slipped past the enemy flank, but my own bodyguard was faced by a unit of charging enemy halberds, and I was forced to pivot with just enough room to thrust into the rear of the halberds already in contact with my front lines.
My three cavalry units converged on the rear where the Timurid heavy foot archers lined the slope. They would need immediate help from swordsmen to break them. I swept across the rear of the enemy front line, breaking their order, and charged directly at the Timurid general fighting wildly in the center, and dispatched him to hell. Fired by desperation, we surged up the hill and broke every resistance with few casualties.
The Timurid army on the right was close and we were already coming under fire. One unit of knights was nearly ruined. Others saw the bullets snapping the ground in front of them. Overhead, we saw an imperial army scrambling down the mountainside to enter the battle. How long before they were here? There was no sign of Prince Markus or the other army.
On the left, the near ground was steeper, and the Timurid army farther in the distance.
Without haste or panic, three spear units, four pavise crossbowmen, and a unit of the new arquebusiers, formed on the right to hold off the elephants and heavy horse and foot archers, while the rest of the army moved into position on top of the hill to the left. Once nearly ready, I took all the cavalry and charged the heavy archers coming in on the flat plain to the far left, knowing the general and heavy lancers approaching in the center would take that opportunity to charge. They did. One unit of spears held the top of the steep ridge to the right of the center, while all others I threw at the charging Timurid general. When the heavy horse archers fled from us, we swerved and crossed the top of the hill through the melee to disorganize the general’s charge, and I pushed through to support the beset spearmen on the hilltop.
The knights following failed to pass through with me. Swordsmen, spearmen, the dwindling Teutonic knights, and others were crushed against the heavily armored horses of the enemy eagerly charging up the hill.
I needed the whole force to face the Timurids on the left, and chose that moment to call the spearmen and crossbowmen on the right to abandon their position and race to help stem the attack. My reinforcements had nearly descended the mountainside and some had reached the farther edge of the battlefield. If they could distract the Timurid army on the right, even a moment, I could combine my force again on one front and recover. The time was now or never.
The surviving enemy horsemen on the far left now stormed into the units racing across the field. I saw the new threat just as I turned away the heavy lancers from the spearmen on the hilltop. The running spearmen mixed in with the crossbowmen in the center of the field were defending well, but I charged to help them finish it. There could be no delay, for I saw with horror the enemy units from the right charging close after them now that the defending line was gone. Reinforcements no longer mattered. With my absence from the front line, many of my men panicked in the press and broke. I turned again and charged toward the Timurid general mounting the hill and called my men to stand their ground. The units caught in the center were shaken by the sight of their fleeing comrades and the ponderous army overtaking them from the rear as I spurred away and called out desperately, Follow me! Quickly!
I charged over the hilltop where a few stalwart knights and spearmen fought on. The enemy surrounded us from all sides. Only at the very end, when every comrade around me was slain, was I sure it was hopeless. I was knocked from my mount, held to the ground, my helmet ripped off, and a blade pressed to my neck. The sky spun. After a short time, my captors put me on a horse, not my own, and forced me to watch the fate of the second army, which reached the field in full force just at the moment it was entirely too late. The imperial soldiers eliminated one elephant unit, but the combined Timurid forces swarmed around them with confident superiority, until the army broke and fled. My cheerful captors then pushed me off the horse and shackled me heavily. I suspected the worst, but the tears I shed at that moment were not for my own fate, but for all the dead scattered across the field who a short time earlier were warm and real, and had entrusted me with their lives.
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The reduced Timurid armies still surrounded Acre. One imperial army backed away to the coast, one fled farther into the mountains shattered, and one was simply gone. The Timurids executed Markus Plitterdorf. Only the prince’s army remained intact near the enemy. Fortunately, ships with reinforcements from the west docked in the harbor of Jerusalem, a bit south. A few troops arrived in Jerusalem from Gaza and Egypt. The mood of all was somber and ashamed. In the following days, however, the Timurids fled inland to find an easier prize. They were much weakened. For the moment, none had the will to follow them. Then the Mongols thought to take advantage of the empire’s low spirits and emerged to besiege Antioch, and sent small scouting parties to harass communications and pillage the countryside. Passions inflamed. General Charles Godwinson, now fully recovered, and too long trapped impotently inside the walls at Acre, sallied out and furiously punished the Mongols on the coast nearby. He then begged the prince to give him an army to chase down the Timurids that he might pay them the same attention.
Prince Markus turned over his army to Godwinson and took charge of the new army from the west to make the first strike on the tail of the Timurid horde, just across the river from Jerusalem. He wanted a taste of blood to charge our souls and salve his own remorse. Making a night attack to avoid elephant reinforcements, he pushed the startled enemy deeper into the desert.
Each night, Prince Markus challenged the exposed tail of the retreating Timurid armies. One Timurid general was killed by his own rocket launcher firing blindly in the dark. Godwinson moved up to intercept the lead enemy army, and another general from Gaza, Goudaine Courcy, approached the prince’s position with a combined force of the best remaining units from the scattered imperial forces in the area. Once coordinated in position, they were ready to stop the devils from running forever.
At Antioch, Welf the Crusader calmly surveyed the Mongol force outside the walls. He had only remnants of the cavalry units that helped him assault and win the city, but together they were sufficient against what faced him, and his heavy infantry and bowmen were strong and ready. The old governor in Damascus took the field again with a substantial force garrisoned there for just this occasion, and marched to Antioch to help relieve the threat. As he approached within striking range on the right, Welf the Crusader walked his units outside the front gate, ignored the light horse archers harrying his advance, and charged the whole line of Mongols huddled beside their siege engines.
While his foot soldiers charged forward, the Crusader and his combined knights swept the Mongol archers and javelinmen from their forward positions, and crushed each exposed line from one end of the field to the other. He used fast Turkopoles to help catch the enemy’s light horse archers when they came within striking distance. A single unit of spearmen ran to occupy the enemy on the left flank, backed by crossbowmen and horse archers. The main body of swordsmen and spears struck the center, converging with the assault by the army from Damascus. When the Mongol general struck back in the center, Welf the Crusader concentrated his cavalry there until his spearmen were in position to hold the line.
After fighting the formidable Timurids for possession of Antioch, the imperial soldiers had only contempt for these desert dogs dressed in goatskins. Perhaps they, too, had been formidable once, but not now. Once the center was secure, the Crusader and his dwindling cavalry force turned to the left, where his spears were slowly losing ground. The charge broke the enemy on the left at the same time the Mongol general routed in the center and managed to escape alone with his miserable life. Welf and his army burned the siege engines and immediately marched after the retreating enemy to join other converging forces making their way to the Mongol stronghold at Aleppo. An army from the west landed at the docks and fortified Antioch with a strong garrison. Farther west, the general at Smyrna, who had also been awaiting the outbreak of war with the untrustworthy Mongols, marched from his castle on the coast to gather more troops from a fort in the mountain pass on the way to the Mongol city of Iconium in the interior.
The three Timurid armies on the edge of the desert were harassed and demoralized when General Courcy finally approached and attacked directly against the terrible elephant artillery. While his whole force slowly mounted a hill to the right, he rode forward into a gully, supported by a single unit of spearmen. Two of the three elephant units charged into the gully, while the general slowly moved away, up the hill and around behind them. Every bow and gun on the hill aimed down at the elephants. The prince’s army was moving up directly behind, and Godwinson, though delayed, appeared in time on the far left to occupy the reinforcing enemy armies approaching the field.
Missiles barely affected the armored elephants, and a unit of the prince’s spearmen took over the battle to hold them in the gully.
On the hilltop, once the enemy cavalry was cleared away or diverted to the fronts against Prince Markus or Godwinson, the heavy infantry on the hilltop charged. Cavalry joined to run down the heavy foot archers, and the depleted Timurid army was massively overwhelmed.
The elephants in the gully finally broke, and Courcy and his bodyguard joined to run them down, determined to let none escape.
Courcy then raced to meet the khan, battling in the midst of Godwinson’s army, and cut him down in a rage.
With his last few comrades Courcy scoured the field, along with Prince Markus, Charles Godwinson, and all the remaining cavalry, to ensure every last devil nourished the desert with their blood. The rumbling that disturbed the prince’s sleep many weeks before was finally silenced, and he returned to Jerusalem, where the city, and his queen, welcomed him with joy. Godwinson turned north to Damascus and beyond, where more killing was due. Courcy backtracked to Acre to fortify the citadel, and gradually made his way back to Gaza to protect the road to Egypt. Farther north, Welf the Crusader watched while a young general won his spurs against the fortress at Aleppo. Farther west, the city of Iconium fell. Imperial gun hulks and armies traversed the seas. The Holy Land was secure, beyond doubt; the Pope was pleased; and the Holy Roman Empire supreme.
I must express infinite hours of appreciation to Lusted for making the Lands to Conquer mod, which makes Medieval II Total War worth playing, and to all at Total War Center for encouragement, models, strategies, tactics, and stories that add a whole new dimension to the pleasure of the game. ― ARISTARCHUS 2009
Last edited by Aristarchus; April 20, 2009 at 07:33 AM.
This one is longer than the others - sorry - but then, folks seemed to want something longer, too, hard to balance. I guess this took me a week or two to write, since I had to play it at the same time. I always try to fight the Timurids or Mongols before declaring victory in a game, so I get the full challenge, but it doesn't always work out. This one was headed to a good confrontation, and I saw someone say there was not a Lands to Conquer AARs. Thought I could fill that gap, because I love the LTC mod. I wish I had written out an earlier epic confrontation between the Russians and the Timurids. Maybe there will be another chance. Uh, and there are chapters. I couldn't figure out, though, how to enclose them in their own "spoiler" sections.
Cool, I like that much better! Thanks for the prompt to add spoilers. Never done it. That makes it much more manageable and gives a better overview. Also, find the story attached here in pdf format, for those who may like to print it out and see it on paper like a comic book (sort of). I had to split it into three docs to get under the size limit.