Finally finished Legacy and caught up with this (been quite buys irl), and well an image is worth a thousand words
Spoiler Alert, click show to read:
"The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned. " - Antonio Gramsci
"Those who do not move, do not notice their chains." - Rosa Luxembourg
Chapter 10 - A Message from the Gods
What had started out as an almost pleasant dream had devolved into endless pain. In the dream world of my mind, I saw fields of dead – men, women, horses. This was clearly the end result of my last battle with the Christians but why was I still seeing it?
At the end of the battle, I saw my life slipping away and I embraced my journey to be at the side of Kovas in the afterlife. Then, I was happy and at peace.
Now, all I felt was pain. Pain in my chest, my arms, legs, everywhere. Burning, cutting, excruciating pain.
I had not expected that the journey to the afterlife would be like this. After all, I had fought as a true warrior against impossible odds and slew at least a dozen men by my own hand. I had done exactly what the gods demanded of me. That I had lost the battle was nothing but a detail. I had been righteous and deserving of a place with Kovas. I should be traveling to the afterlife on the back of a strong stallion, clad in gleaming armor, with a sword in my hand and joy in my heart; to sit at the side of the gods drinking and feasting and fighting until the end of times.
Instead, what I got was endless pain.
How did it come to this? Why was I not with the god that I had served so well?
With great effort, I was able to open my eyes for a few moments at a time. Most times, I saw nothing but the blackness of the sky or the roof of some strange house. Other times, I saw men with red-hot irons burning my flesh. One time, I thought I saw Rashid looking down at me with great concern on his face. I was happy that he was with me but in despair that such a mighty warrior had followed me down to the purgatory I was suffering through.
Pain was replaced with anguish. I was not with my god but somewhere else entirely. I had not done enough. My lack of honor and courage had consigned me to some hell from which I could not escape. Instead of feasting and combat and honor, I was to be one with my shame.
Every terrible thing that had happened in my life passed through my mind in a series of waves. I saw my home being burned with my mother inside of it. I saw my sister being raped by a dozen men while I stood by impotently. I saw the soldiers of Kiev dragging me to slavery. I felt the collar of servitude being snapped into place. I felt the lash on my back while I suffered in the pits. I saw the look of the first man I ever killed as the rock came down to crush his skull. I tasted the blood of my former master in the moments before I killed him. I felt the shudder in my arm as I stuck a knife in the back of the first man I had killed as an assassin. I saw the knife of Tuzniq heading for my throat – instead of missing me as before, I felt the knife cut into my neck and me choking on blood as my life ebbed away. I saw it all, felt it all, and heard it all over and over again in an endless loop of pain and sorrow.
It came over me faster and faster until one event blurred into another. Again and again until it reached a crescendo of anguish that I thought must stop lest my head explode and drive me to a madness from which I would never awaken. At last, the agony and sound of it all became too much and…I opened my eyes.
I was alive.
I looked around the room and found that I was on a bed in some strange house that I had never seen before. Soft furs and blankets covered my body. There was a fire roaring in a fire pit to one side of the room. A cup of water was on the table next to me as well as an assortment of rags and what appeared to be bloody bandages.
I tried to move but my arms and legs were bound to the bed. I struggled against the bonds until I felt an explosion of pain from my limbs and I let out a short cry. That was when I noticed an old woman sleeping in a chair in one corner of the room. My cry had woken her from her slumber and she looked up at me with wide eyes. She screamed so loudly that my ears hurt and then fled the room.
In a moment, Rashid, Orteh, and a half dozen others ran into the room. They all looked at me as though I was some apparition from beyond. At last, Rashid spoke, “Lord, you are alive!”
So, it was true. I had not died. But how?
My mouth was parched and my throat swollen. With considerable effort, I croaked out, “What happened?”
Rashid said, “The battle against the Christians. You do remember that?”
I nodded and he continued, “The battle was lost. We fought well but there were just too many of them. The army were falling back but you and your bodyguard were trapped. I rallied a few of our men and went to get you out. We cut our way through but you would not come. I kept calling to you but it was as though you did not hear me. You were half dead and yet you continued to fight. I tried to pull you away but you would not respond. Finally, I…I…did what I had to in order to get you out.”
I understood now, “It was you who struck me?”
Rashid hung his head down and said softly, “I had to. There was no other way. Forgive me, my lord. I did what I thought was right. I couldn’t leave you to them.”
Rage and sadness boiled up deep inside me from a place that I did not know I had. Though my voice was still a whisper, I spat out with all the venom I could manage, “You bastard! I never asked for your ‘help’! Don’t you see, I wanted to die! You kept me from my righteous death; my place with the gods! You’ve dishonored me!”
The men with Rashid seemed startled and took a few steps back. Rashid did not move but bowed low as though he was a common servant.
I struggled again with my bonds and the incredible pain came. This time, I welcomed it and fought all the harder against the ropes. I wanted the pain. I wanted the anguish. I wanted an end to this madness in my head. I wanted it to be over. I screamed until my lungs seemed to burst.
Though the pain extended the time, I fell back to unconsciousness in moments.
- - - - - - - - - - -
I don’t know how long I slumbered but, thankfully, the painful dreams did not return. Instead, all I felt was sadness. I had been cheated of a glorious death. My army had been defeated and I yet lived. That I was still alive seemed the worst of all possible outcomes.
After a time, I woke again. The light had turned to darkness and the room was empty. Well, not quite empty. Rashid was there – still staring down at me.
As soon as my eyes opened, Rashid was on his feet and bowing down low again.
I looked over at the immense man as he tried to make amends for a wrong that he didn’t fully understand. I expected him to rise but he held the bow as though a lowly supplicant. “Stand up, Rasheed.”
“Lord, I offer my apologies again. I did not mean to offend you.”
There was no more anger in my voice anymore, just sadness. “I know. You thought you were serving me by coming to my aid. You thought to save my life. Instead, you stole something from me that you didn’t know I wanted.”
“Stole from you?”
“You need to understand something, Rashid. Over the past few years, my life has been a nightmare from which there is no escape. Everything that I once cared about was taken from me. My family, my country, my honor… everything. I am here as a fugitive. I am in exile until I can redeem myself. The reason I follow the god Kovas is because he offers me a way to restore my honor and a place with him in the afterlife. He offers me salvation. If I can crush my enemies and die a worthy death, then I will have fulfilled my side of the bargain. I thought that the last battle with the Christians was the end of it. I thought I was free.”
Rashid seemed uncomfortable as he shifted his enormous weight from one foot to the other. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes as I spoke but I could not brush them aside as my hands were still tied.
I asked, “Why have you bound me to this bed?”
Rashid seemed startled by the question and then moved quickly to cut the ropes. As he was cutting them away, he said, “We had to. While we were bringing you back here, your fever was high and you kept thrashing about and yelling as though you were still in battle. You kept tearing at the bandages and stitches until the healers insisted that we tie you down. Finally, we had to cauterize your wounds so that they would stop bleeding.”
Once the bindings were removed, I threw back the blankets and furs and surveyed my body. There was scarcely any spot that was not swathed in bandages. Though it seemed that all my limbs were more or less intact, my body was obviously seriously wounded. My earlier struggles had broken open several of the wounds and the bed was wet with fresh blood.
“How long have I been asleep?”
“Nearly a month, lord.”
“So long?!” No wonder I felt so sluggish.
“Yes. You were injured more horribly than any man I had ever seen. Truly, it is a miracle that you still live. The healers all say that it is the hand of the gods that allowed you to live. They had given you up for dead until I…convinced them to carry on. We had someone tending you at all times. Still, they all thought they were here just to watch you die, but I knew differently. I knew you would return. The men did, too. They say you have a spirit that refuses to move on to the afterlife.”
“The men? How many still live?”
“We have just over two hundred that came out of the battle. A few more have trickled in here but we are less than half of what went into battle with the Christians.”
That answered the question of the magnitude of our defeat but not our location. I asked, “Where are we?”
“In Murom, lord. After the battle, we had to leave our camp. We rallied in the woods and then came back here. It seemed the safest place we could go.”
“Safe?! I’m surprised the Christians aren’t knocking down the gates as we speak. I’m even more surprised that Sotan hasn’t sent someone to finish me off now that I’ve failed.” Really, it was only a matter of time. Now that I was defeated and my army ruined, to Sotan I was of little use but a great liability. He would notice quickly and act.
Rashid then said, “The Christians haven’t moved against us. We killed so many of them that they wait in our former camp and have not moved a step forward. Perhaps they are waiting for more men? As for Sotan, nothing has been heard. We have heard talk from the traders that something is brewing in the East that is demanding his attention but we do not yet know what it is.”
“What of the people of Murom? Do they clamor for our deaths? Has there been much fighting?”
“Fighting, lord?” Rashid looked puzzled. “There has been none whatsoever. In fact, the people welcome you as their hero! They know how you have saved them these past years. Even after our defeat, they have been more than welcoming. The garrison waits on us like our own personal servants. The people bring us food in bunches. All of our needs have been attended to.”
I hadn’t really expected that. “That’s strange. I should think they would be looking to cut our throats in our sleep. Surely, that would buy them some favor with Sotan. Who governs the city?”
Rashid chuckled a bit and then said, “A young noble from the East. He is Ordai, the younger brother of our former master, Lord Kotyan.”
Kotyan! The man I killed in my last act as an assassin. That this man was here was proof the gods (or Sotan) were clearly having some fun at my expense. Though none knew of my duplicity in that battle, how long would that last? A word from Sotan would ruin it all - a fact I am sure had not escaped his attention.
Some moments passed while I was locked in thought. Rashid broke the silence by asking, “Who is Jurate, lord?”
I snapped back the to the moment, “Where did you hear that name?!”
“You called it out many times when you were in the grips of your fever. We did not know what it meant but one of the traders who works with the people from your former country said it was a woman’s name.”
Although I thought of that day often, I hadn’t consciously uttered my sister’s name since the moment she was taken from me. Just hearing her name was like opening an old and painful wound. I said, “She was from another life - someone long dead. Never speak that name again. Is that understood?”
Rashid looked a bit puzzled but said, “Yes, lord.”
Jurate, Kotyan, Sotan, the pain in my limbs, the sadness in my heart…it was all too much, too quickly. I looked up at Rashid and said quietly, “No more. Leave me now.”
Rashid gave me one of his nods as he often did when he did not understand but would follow my wishes, regardless. As he opened the door to leave, I could see men clustered just outside. They started to ask him some questions but he silenced them with a wave of his hand. As soon as he shut the door, I threw my head back down on the bed and felt the world spin.
Though I fought back the tears, I could not escape the sadness. It was all ruined. My army was decimated, I was alive and dishonored, and we were in the power of a man who only needed a few words whispered in his ear to have me and my men slaughtered in ignominy.
I looked about the room to find a blade so that I could end my life under my own terms but found none. Even had there been one, I could no longer move. There was no strength in my body or even the will to summon the effort. I was lost. I was defeated once again.
I could hold back no longer. The tears came and sobs wracked my body. I was so close! Now, everything had been in vain.
I closed my eyes and allowed sleep to take me once again.
Spoiler for Dream:
Last edited by Skantarios; April 04, 2011 at 12:02 PM.
I finally had some time to post the next update. Sorry for the delay but real life has to take precedence. This was another story-heavy update but it tells an important point in the life arc of Juvage. Also, it will explain a few things going forward.
Juvage is going to be back in action very, very soon. Also, there are some hints about what is to come. So, those readers who like their stories with lots of action, your patience will soon be rewarded. There are still going to be a few chapters that are almost exclusively story but there are going to be a lot more with some big battles. You are going to have to trust me on this one.
I responded to all the feedback from the previous page on, well, the previous page. If you don't see your note here, please go back to my response post there and it should be addressed.
I will go ahead and respond to the feedback on this page at this time and then will update as (if) others come in.
Well, that catches me up for now. I am hopeful to have the next update done this weekend but it will be time permitting. A very busy period at work but that is nothing new. Still, I will do what I can.
As always, thanks for reading!
Skantarios, I think you have succeeded in creating more suspense and complexity than I have seen in most other AARs. Now, some have more dramatic elements, or more personal conflicts, but you are managing that fine balance of truly good writing: telling the reader enough to get them through the story, but not overwhelming them with info. I really feel the sense of urgency in Juvages' efforts, and think I know the threat he is destined to face....but I'm not sure, so will look forward to see how you lead us there. Tally ho!
This is so excellent update that i simply cannot find words to praise it! Magnificent! How you always manage to do that - you fooled us all, you ...
I'm so into this AAR. So far the BEST one you have yet written.
I enjoyed your first AAR, i enjoyed legacy, and now this one is here like a gift from the gods.
Last edited by Maiar93; April 03, 2011 at 08:49 AM.
excellent!! great to hear from you, skantarios
i'd check back here every now and then to see if there were any updates
good to see the plot thickens; it's like watcing a movie, the way you switched between dream states
epic, mate, truly epic.
thank you for this update
Chapter 11 - Redemption
I awoke from my dream refreshed in mind if not in body.
Like life, this dream was a mixture of good and bad. The good was that the gods had seen fit to send me this vision. Clearly, I must be important for them to make such an effort. The bad was that the vision was tragic in many ways. Instead of a peaceful and happy future, it seemed I was destined for one of conflict and death. Their message could not have been more clear – it is not for you. In other words, peace was not for me. Well, at least the gods weren’t being as vague as they had been known to be in the past.
I suppose I should have been angry that I was to be denied a peaceful existence. However, I had not known one for so long that I had lost any real concept of what that meant. If war was what the gods demanded, then war it would be.
In contrast to the clear message about my future, this message about “the one” was very strange. One what? Was it a person or event? A plague, a war, invasion…what? Whatever it was supposed to be, I had to be ready. Still, it was kind of hard to “be ready” for some unknown thing. Yes, the gods do like their little torments. I was just a puppet on their strings.
Well, it was no use worrying about something that you could not control. It was time to get up out of this damn bed and do something. The first order of business was to find out what the true lay of the land was. Who was the governor? How were the men? How many? Where were the Christians? Sotan?
I needed information and I needed it now. So, with excruciating effort, I pulled myself out of bed. My legs were unsteady and my hands were shaking but I did it. I even managed to take a step or two before I crashed like a toddler onto the floor of the house I was staying in.
The noise of my fall (or the yelp of pain I let out) brought Rashid in at a run. Hot on his heels were three of my men with their weapons drawn searching the room for intruders. At least they were taking the threat of assassination seriously.
Rashid rushed over and said, “Lord, are you alright?”
Though I was the farthest thing from “alright,” I would not let them see any more weakness than I already had. So, I lied.
“I’m fine,” I managed to say through gritted teeth. “Now, help me up.”
Rashid and Orteh took one arm each and got me back to my feet. Then, they helped me dress in a clean set of clothes – after putting a fresh bandage on my left leg where my careless fall had opened up one of my many wounds. I then ordered them to take me to see Ordai, the governor of the city and the man whose brother I had once killed.
As we were leaving the room, I asked, “Where is my sword?”
Rashid looked a little sheepish when he answered, “I am afraid it was lost in the battle.”
Yet another indignity piled on top of so many others. Nothing to be done about it but move forward.
“Give me another,” I growled.
Orteh asked, “Master, can you wield one in your present, er…condition.”
Anger flared up within me. I was done being treated like a helpless child. I wrenched my arm clear of Orteh’s grasp, snatched his sword clear of its scabbard and pointed it to his chest. I snapped at him, “What do you think?”
Orteh took a step back, gave me a bow, and kept his mouth shut. Rashid retrieved my scabbard from the bedside and buckled it around my waist. As I slid the sword into its new home, I felt like I was returning to my old self.
I turned to Rashid and said, “From this day forth, I will never be without a sword. When I die, I shall grasp it until the flesh rots from my bones.”
That bit of business concluded, they led me to Ordai’s home. Though the going was slower than I wanted, I did not fall again.
When we arrived at Ordai’s house, I was struck by its size: two stories tall and able to hold several families with ease. Ordai was clearly trying to emulate the new men of Sotan’s inner circle. He had forsaken the traditional yurt and built himself a fine house with wooden beams, mortar, and stone floors. Though it did not compare to those fine houses I had seen in Kiev, it was still rather extravagant for a Cuman.
Ordai waited for me in his dining hall along with a few priests and some of the city militia. Despite their fine clothes, they still struck me as a scruffy lot. Their faces unshaven, their hair unkempt, and their boots muddy. It was clear they were nomads pretending to be city dwellers. In other words, there might still be hope.Spoiler for Ordai:
I studied Ordai’s face for a few moments to see what his intentions towards me were. Did he know that it was my blade that had ended his brother’s life? I could find no sign of enmity. Quite the contrary, he looked on me with concern that bordered on friendship. If the man was acting, he was doing a damn good job of it.
As soon as I entered the room, Ordai rose and said, “My heart leaps to see you out of bed and on the road to recovery.”
“Mine is gladdened to see the hospitality you have shown me and my men,” I responded.
Ordai smiled and made a sweeping gesture with his hands, “Your service to our city demands nothing less.”
“I have done your city service. I hope to do more in the future. Before we talk about that, I would like to know what you intend to do about the Christians that still hover across the border.”
Ordai furrowed his brows and said, “I have sent word to Khanazde Sotan.”
“That is not what I asked," I replied. "I wanted to know what you intend to do.”
Ordai frowned, “I have not sufficient troops to deal with them. The ones I do have are poorly armed and lack the spirit to take the fight out of the city. I must get more from the Khan.”
“A man who waits is one that is only marking time to their death.”
Ordai's pleasant tone was now gone and he said, “Well, do you have a better idea?”
“I have the idea you reject. I say we take the fight to them before they get more soldiers or realize how weak we are. I say we march on Yaroslavl.”
Ordai exhaled audibly while shaking his head, “I hear word that the Christian king sits there with a powerful army at his back. To try and take that city is foolish. I am told by the traders that it has huge walls and a capable garrison. Besides, I cannot cross the border without orders. “
“I have no such orders.”
“As far as I know, you have no orders at all.”
I smiled, “That does make things easy. Now, will you help me?”
Ordai considered my words for a few moments. With a shrug of his shoulders, he said, “I have helped you before, I will do so again. What do you need?”
“I need men,” I said simply.
“I have none to give," Ordai replied. "The garrison must stay here.”
“Then let me recruit amongst the people," I asked. If he wouldn't give me real soldiers, maybe he would give me some of the excess population? "Surely, I can find some who will wish to take up the sword and bow to help us.”
Ordai shrugged, “You can have any outside of the garrison troops. I don’t know how many will wish to join. The word of your defeat has spread.”
“I think you underestimate your people.” Thinking quickly, I said, “I want to call an assembly in one week’s time. I want all able bodied men from the city and the surrounding districts. My men will carry the word, I just don’t want you to stop us.”
“I meant it when I said I would help you," Ordai was smiling again. "If you find volunteers, then who am I to say no.”
It seemed this Ordai had some promise after all. A little too shy about straying from orders but I was encouraged that he had helped us before and was ready to offer help again.
The next week was a flurry of activity. Rashid organized parties of warriors to move amongst the small villages around Murom and spread the word of the assembly. While that was going on, I reorganized my surviving warriors and did the best we could to rearm them. Our funds were low as we had left the vast majority of our money in the abandoned camp. However, I was able to get arrows and swords enough to get the men back into acceptable form. I was also encouraged by the fact that we had many volunteers from amongst the landless Yasi who had already come to the city and managed to flesh out the decimated ranks of my survivors. Added to the foot archers that were left in the city before the last battle, my core army now numbered over 400. It was a start but I needed more if I was to invade another country.
The day of the assembly dawned and I found well over a thousand men gathered in the central square. A small podium was thrown up and I managed to make my way to the top. Though I was still very weak, I was gaining strength by the day. What had returned in full force was my voice.
I used that voice to address the crowd of men.
Spoiler for Speech in Murom:
The response from the crowd was overwhelming. Even those that came just to see the show howled with excitement. Though less than half of them actually pledged their loyalty, it was still more than what we needed. The only drawback was that the majority of who joined were of the poorest rung of society. They had no land, no horses, and only the crudest of weapons. Still, their lust for combat would make up for material shortcomings.
I organized them into four companies, two of foot archers and two of dismounted warriors – the Kasogi. We spent the next two weeks training these men to fight together and gave them the rudimentary knowledge of warfare. What they lacked in training, they made up for with enthusiasm. They took to the instruction well and I was confident that we could rely on them to hold a line.
I will also note that Ordai was again helpful in this as he gave those without weapons swords and shields and even provided a few mounts for my men. He helped in the training and provided provisions for our march. Although he told me that I was beyond foolish to invade the territory of Novgorod with my few warriors and this band of militia, he still offered sacrifices for our success.
By the end of the two weeks, we were ready to march. Our first target would be our old camp and the horde of Christians. For this battle, I would not use my new recruits. No, the men of my old army needed to settle the score with these particular Christians without any aid.
Fourth Battle of Murom - Winter, 1531 A.D.
Spoiler for Fourth Battle of Murom:
After the battle, we reclaimed our lost camp. The Christians had destroyed or desecrated most of it but just having it back was one more step on our path to redemption.
We would continue and do what I had promised. We would attack the Christian cities as they had done so often to us. We would gain glory and riches and earn back the favor of the gods.
We would strike fear into their hearts the likes of which they had never seen.
The new recruits that joined our ranks were obviously very affected by what they had witnessed. They had seen the battle fury of my followers - the Soldiers of Kovas. They had seen what we had done to the Christians both during and after the battle. Though they were still unblooded, they were as committed as any. I had my guards keep watch on them for deserters but none left the camp. They were still anxious for battle to test their own resolve and earn the same glory that my men were gathering.
The march west went well and we encountered no more resistance for some weeks. The foraging was good as these lands hadn't seen an invading army in decades. Though the Cumans often raided the lands of the Kievan Rus, these more northerly territories were always too well defended. No more. We would strike deep into their lands until we had slaked our thirst for vengeance and treasure.
At last, the Grand Prince (or Knyaz) of Novgorod sent forth another army to stop us while we were still more than a week's march away from Yaroslav. This was a huge force of men and I decided it would be a good time to test my new army in battle.
First Battle of Yaroslavl - Winter, 1531 A.D.
Spoiler for First Battle of Yaroslavl:
The battle had a profound effect on the new troops and even some of the veterans. We had vanquished a larger foe and been nearly untouched in the process. My poor warriors, many of whom could not even buy their place in the army of the Khan, were victorious over a foe that their countrymen had long feared. If any showed some moral compunction about the killing of the enemy during the battle or after it, those thoughts were soon left behind.
Following the battle, some of the new men started to call me "Juvage the Merciless" for my ordering the execution of the prisoners and for the sacrifice of some of them to Kovas. At first, my captains tried to squash such idle and perhaps disrespectful talk of their commander. However, when I heard of it, I told them to stop it. In fact, I even started to like the moniker "the Merciless." It was better than "the Lithuanian" and, besides, it served to show that I was no longer part of that foreign country of my birth. I was a warrior of Kovas and, to a lesser extent, the Cumans. I was something apart from any country and so were they.
Being "the Merciless" also had the effect of striking fear into both the enemy and my own men. It was better to be feared than loved. Always better to be feared. It kept the men in line and, I hoped, gave pause to any enemy that would face us. In any event, the name stuck and it was how I was known for quite some time.
Once we had finished stripping the dead of their valuables and looting their camp, we continued on the way to Yaroslavl. I wanted the first thing the Grand Prince knew of this defeat to be our banners appearing in view from his city's walls.
When we did appear before those city walls, I was struck by the sheer size of the place. It made the cities of the Cumans seem small in comparison. The high, stone walls of Yaroslavl were the biggest I had ever seen except for that too brief look at Kiev.
I had never assaulted a city before and did not know the first thing about siege craft. Though I have gained a measure of expertise in the years since, I was never any good at it. I knew how to fight in the plains, not slugging it out in the narrow confines of a city where being on horseback is a liability and not a benefit.
I thought that all I would have to do was present myself at the city gates and Kovas would show me a way in. Well, he didn't. I levied many challenges to the Christian prince but he would not sally forth to meet me. Instead, I had to set up my camp in the frozen ground outside the walls and wait for something to happen.
Fortunately, something did. About two weeks into our "siege," another army of Novgorod appeared behind us and attacked!
Second Battle of Yaroslavl - Winter, 1531 A.D.
Spoiler for Second Battle of Yaroslavl:
Once the battle was over, I had the captives stripped of their armor and weapons and then marched up to the city walls. Each captive was assigned one of my warriors to guard him and we formed them up in a long line around the city gates. The prisoners in front and on their knees while my men stood behind them with their weapons drawn.
The towers were deserted but the gates were closed. However, thousands of eyes peered out from atop the walls - the wives, children, and parents of the Christian soldiers that we held prisoner.
I called out to Kovas that I offered these men as a sacrifice to his glory and, in return, I asked that he open the gates and give up the city to our will.
Once my invocation to Kovas was complete, I ordered my men to release our captives from their cowardice and so return the honor they had forfeited by surrendering. In just under a minute, 600 throats were cut in full view of the city walls.
A collective cry of anguish went up from the city as the blood of our former prisoners began to stain the snow-covered ground. I then noted with great satisfaction that Kovas had answered my prayers in return for the sacrifice we offered him. The gates swung open and the newly widowed wives poured out of the city to be with their slain husbands.
Offering a silent thanks to the gods, I sent my men pouring through the open gates. We trampled quite a few of the women coming from the other direction but the city was now ours!
Once we had done away with the few men who tried to stop us, my captains asked what I wished for them to do. I thought about what Kovas would have wanted from us in this situation. When I put it that way, the answer was easy.
I told my men to think of the great wealth that lay inside every one of the households of the city. I told them that this city had been the staging ground for every invasion of their territory for a generation. I reminded the men of the many injustices that the Novgorodians had inflicted on them in the past. I asked them to think of brothers killed, their sisters and wives raped, their fields burned, and their livestock slaughtered. I reminded them of the generations of injustices that these people had done to the Cumans.Spoiler for The Fate of a City:
I then said, "It is time we repaid them in kind."
The men let out a cheer and then fanned out into the city slaying any that they could find. The operation was done poorly and some of the civilians escaped out of the outer gates. Some, but not many.
Soon the streets were running red with blood and some scattered fires broke out around the city. The able bodied men and the old ones were killed quickly. Women screamed as they suffered their own particular brand of horror at the hands of my men. Some of the prettiest were spared for our use later; others were collected with the children in the city center to be sold off as slaves. I had the men heap up as much treasure as they could find into one large pile; but, I didn't count too carefully and I imagine much of it found their way into the men's purses.
The work of this sack was haphazard, brutal, savage, and, I have to say...thrilling. Kovas rejoiced this day and many, many souls went to his service in the next world.
In the days that followed, I had every structure that could be used by the enemy pulled down or burned to the ground. I had no intention of keeping this city and wanted to make sure that the enemy could make no use of it when we left.
We spent several weeks in the grisly charnel house that had once been Yaroslavl. The weather broke and soon the snow had melted and spring was upon us. It seemed that even the weather gods looked favorably on our victory.
We had one alarm as another army of Novgorod appeared outside of the city but they made no move to attack. The word of what had happened here had spread and their courage faltered without even meeting us in battle.
Yes, Kovas smiled on us and we did his work in return.
Last edited by Skantarios; April 09, 2011 at 05:56 PM.
Great updates as always and a very impressive comeback by Juvage. This 'one' is probably the Mongol Khan, which would explain why you said such big battles are coming. I look forward to the rest of the update. Just a few things:
Shouldn't that be: I felt the shudder?I felt I felt the shudder
I think you meant: So, it was true. I had not died. But how?So, it was true. I had not died. By how?
Shouldn't that be: Rashid gave me one of his nods?Rashid gave me one his nods
I think you meant: Though some of the enemy tired to surrender, we were in no mood to take prisoners.Though some of the enemy tried to surrender, we were in mood to take prisoners
As evil as always...
Nice twist that Juvage and his army could get revenge, good idea to use the very same units.
Those large mixed armies are a real pain to face, what strategies do you normally use? The only really effective thing I know of is to focus everything on one enemy flank and then retreat as soon as the enemy cavalry and similar troops are engaged, to draw them away and finish them first. After that, the infantry is usually easy to handle. Always some poor militia strolling of from the others.
Read, and add to, Maltacus guide to field battles!
Zhidislavs Battle, a Battle AAR seen from the generals point of view - Completed.
I Hate Late Era Bodyguards, a Battle AAR - Completed
A Diabolical AAR - Completed
Home to Midgard, a Third Age AAR about two dwarves, a spy and a diplomat - updated 6/4.
Reviewed by Boustrophedon in The Critics Quill
Third Age Unit Cards Minimod
Really buetiful AAR. Very nice to read it Thanks for this AAR
the saga continues with juvage eh
i can't believe the odds juvage is winning-testament to your abilities as a cavalry commander from the days of 'i am skantarios' eh-i would've been tempted to give juvage more men but it seems you're keeping it real and realistic which i like. it definitely keeps me on the edge of my seat, seeing juvage win against such odds.
have i repped you, lately?
i will do asap
Very good update.
+rep i would rep a thousand times if i could.
Very nice updates. I wouldn't be surprised if the guy who will write the review of your AAR at the CQ takes the example of writing style from Chapter X. It was really very very very well written
Chapter 11 (aka post #149) is now edited to a full update. If you read it before and it was only through the battle at Murom, please go back and have another look. This update carries us through the attack on Yaroslavl and the fight with the Novgorodian Knayz (re: King/Grand Prince). It also shows Juvage's ever growing belief in Kovas and how he thinks the war god wishes him to act.
I am afraid that I am out of time to respond to reader feedback but I will definitely make a point of doing so tomorrow (really). Thank you to all that have read this work so far and I promise you that we have a lot more coming.
I will close for today with one last note. The voting for MAARC XXVI is going on right now. While this AAR is entered and (of course) I would be honored if you voted for it, I would really just ask that you go to the voting thread and look at some of the other fine works that are being presented and make a decision on which you think are most worthy. You get three votes so you don't have to pick just one. The MAARC has had a drop off in voters and entries lately and it would mean a great deal to the authors to have more people weigh in with this competition.
[Edited for Reader Feedback]
You know, every time I respond to one of the long-time readers who hasn't posted in a while, I have the urge to say something like, "Welcome Back!" Of course, you didn't go anywhere, you just haven't posted (which is absolutely fine). Still, I am very happy to have you still following. Thank you for making the time.
Besides, Emperor Skantarios was sainted after his death.
Well, I think that catches me up on reader feedback. I will note again that having you all read and comment on my story means more than I can adequately put into words. I avidly check for feedback and knowing that you all are reading it (and, I hope, enjoying it) gives me that extra motivation to get back to work on the next chapter sooner rather than later.
Until next time, thanks for reading!
Last edited by Skantarios; April 05, 2011 at 04:27 PM.
Emperor Skantarios seems like a saint compared to Juvage.
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