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Thread: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

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    Default Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales


    Tales After the Crusade

    Some Acknowledgements Mixed with a Preface

    by NorseThing

    This is a collection of shorter tales that take place at the end of the 11th century during the First Crusade and during the early part of the 12th century after the First Crusade ended. They are like the familiar After Action Reports(AAR)


    but they are based on a smaller slice of real games that you have played. They are much shorter in length and may cover as short of a slice in time as one or two turns.

    These tales are akin to the short story versus the familiar but much longer novel. All of the basic elements of a novel are used such as plot, character, style, differing tenses to relay changes in time, and they may even have a few chapter segments. These elements are used in a much more compact form, thus the tales such as I am going to present.

    As a side note -- If you are a fan of one of many science fiction novelists that also wrote a great deal with the short story form, you may be familiar with my favorite author -- Ray Bradbury. This can be a great start to writing your own full length AAR -- really! These tales may get rewritten or appended later in time as a part of a full AAR or even revisited from another perspective as another shorter tale. This is all pretty flexible at this point. For this and other reasons, I welcome your comments and suggestions to help me make this a great series of tales.

    These tales are based upon the Medieval II Total War game using Stainless Steel 6.4 with the Bug Compilation v 1.27. I am new with this modification so I will probably make a few mistakes (some may rise to the bonehead level) in the play. That is okay, but I would still like to know where I stray when it is noticable. The tales are mainly about the roleplay aspects and not so much about the mechanical decisions of say a 'Let's Play' Youtube video. Imagination contributes more to the tales than whether a certain building should constructed or a certain settlement 'needs' a differant general. The tales will be drawn from a variety of factions. I will try and post at least once a week (more if I am ambitous and less if I am lazy). If this interests you as a reader, please subscribe or make a note of the thread and watch for updates.


    Also, if you are interested in writing your own shorter tale, there is a great cozy niche with a warm fire always welcoming a new face in The Writers' Study.


    The writing staff are friendly and have been a great help to me and the others who pop in. Check in and even check out the latest creative writings of your fellow TWC members.


    One such offering is a contest held on a very regular basis with it's own sub forum titled the Tale of the Week.


    This is a contest where we as writers compete in a themed short tale contest inspired by a picture and using some key words in a short tale. The contest is juried by the writers themselves. This can be great fun!

    Now a bit of a background on my shorter After Action Report tales:

    Pope Urban II had called a great council. The council gathered at the town of Clermont within the Kingdom of France. He called upon all Christians of faith for a reconquest of the Holy Land and most of all the reconquest of the sacred and most holy city of Jerusalem. Many a prince then headed off for Jerusalem with their own fellow knights and an assorted retinue of soldiers and retainers. This is now known as the Prince's Crusade.

    Before even the Princes could start out on this sacred journey, the peasants could not be disuaded from taking up the call. Their bands of disorganized chaos are now known as the Peasant's Crusade.

    We see the result in 1100. King Baudauwin is now the King of several Crusader States that are the result of these Crusading armies who answered the Papal call. His nominal capital of the somewhat artifical kingdom is Jerusalem.

    Not all of the crusaders have remained with the Crusade. There are many knights and soldiers returning home. Many never even helped to capture Jerusalem before abandoning the Crusade. Some were noblemen such as Count de Blois. I am thinking of a shorter tale with him in the future. (This is known as a sophisticated prelude or a hint designed to peek the reader's interest.)
    Many ex-Crusaders could show no gains from even the most basic right of a victorious soldier in battle which is to gather loot from the vanquished enemy. They are returning home disappointed, but they may be out for their own narrow profit while on the road towards home. If they abandoned the Crusade without helping to take Jerusalem, they have not even received his Holiness the Pope's favor to show for their efforts.

    They have lost their honor on the road towards Jerusalem or wherever they are now headed as adventurers. Such men want something. They left with honor. Some are now returning home without either a blessing from the new Pope or a prize. How can such men return as if nothing has happened and no boasts were made upon leaving home?

    These are uncertain times. Before the Crusade the men often clashed for the most trivial of offenses. This ended as the men went off to the Holy Land. Today, bands of armed brothers have returned and are again roaming the land seeking profit and perhaps even in desperate need of funds.

    Because so many knights have left the Crusade, the Kingdom headquartered in Jerusalem has few knights to support the new king against many foes. Even the Byzantine Emperor is warry after the peasant Crusaders entered his lands. Even some Norman nobles from Sicily threatened Emperor Alexis while residing within the high walls and massive gates protecting Constantinople.

    These are not the tales of grand battles. These tales were never noted in the chronicles. These are small tales of very human events. These are tales of men not marching off for glory to God and King, but of returning without glory to either God nor King. These are also tales of men who never went off to Jerusalem. They are still performing the mundane and everyday tasks in service to their leige lord, but they are now also burdened with the disappointed Crusaders returning home.
    Our first tale will be posted in several parts. We will read about some of the French Knights that remained in France and Lord Fleury, the youngest bastard son of the French King Phillip. Fleury has just come of age and will be tested for skill in battle as well as skill in leadership. It is titled "Bandits!"

    Last edited by NorseThing; April 02, 2018 at 04:39 PM. Reason: clean up

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    Excited for your new tale.Great that you also mention the WS and CW and TOTW.
    May your story prosper.
    Cant rep you,can someone rep Norse thing for me.
    To anyone concerned. I am leaving twc. Bye and best of luck.
    And Pike thanks for supporting me always.

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    NorseThing's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales


    Tales After the Crusade

    by NorseThing

    Chapter 1.1

    Bandits!
    1115 A.D.
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    King Philip the Chivalrous is in Rheims reviewing the local tax collections. He is an honored guest in the governor's town home.
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    This home is within a protected compound that does a double duty as the local town hall and administrative center. He often does his Kingly duties away from his beloved Bertrada. It has been a decade since he made the public distancing from Bertrada, but their relationship continues discreatly from the prying eyes of the clergy. Their love may not be secret and certainly the results are not secret. There is no need to make it blatant though and suffer the religious consequences of such a relationship. This public distancing allowed the embarrassing excommuniction from the church two decades ago by no less than Pope Urban II to lapse and thus be in better relations with the church. [1]

    The regular counting was not unusual for any noble that had toll revenues from roads and rivers. There were other miscelaneous sources of income from the proceeds of royal lands. Why -- he knew that even the Dukes and Counts of various portions of his dominion had much the same problems. When you have people handling your money out of site, a formal and regular counting is needed. It was always a good policy to know your people personally and to know your finances.

    Fortune did shine upon Philip though. There was always a diversion or two available within the court when traveling. The entourage was large as befitting the importance of so great a person as the king of France. There were the fellow hunters who also liked gambling and card playing to pass the time. The usual courtiers and hangers on seemed to always be present as well. Of necessity there were the usual stewards, cooks, maids, and many others that were essential to be present while away or at home. Then of course there was always the military garrision to escort all of these people safely from destination to destination and to assure the safety of the King in these uncertain times. To fit a diversion or two within such a huge party and remain discreet while on the move was not beyond the capabilities of his personal steward. This was a tradition dating back at least a milenium into the days of Rome. Yes -- the days of the Caesars and of the Tribunes for business travel. A tradition that could be expected to still be a part of business travel even a millenium or more into the future.

    The essentials for a monarch no matter where the monarch resides for even a single day or night must be maintained. It is always good to know that his nobles will do what is expected to please the king and cover the costs of such an entourage. The governor of Rheims seemed to be such a person, though the toll revenues seemed to be down for no apparant reason. [2]

    A currier has arrived. Out of breath, but wanting an immediate audiance with the king.

    "Your! ... Highness! ", he gasped.

    "Calm down, young man. Surely the news you bring can wait for a breath or two" said the king.

    "A small band of men have been spotted near a bridge crossing the Seine river. This is upstream but really near Paris. At the moment it has been reported as simple banditry. The peasants are terrified for their safety and the safety of their families." said the young man. He is clearly tired but now much more in control of himself.
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    He then added, "Is there any message you may wish for the acting governor in Paris?"
    The king thought for a moment, or perhaps for a couple of moments. He then responded by addressing a courtier beside him -- "Give this young man a good meal and provide him with a suitable mount to make his return journey quicker and safer."

    The courtier then motioned for the young man to follow a young solider. Both the young man and the soldier headed towards the kitchen.

    The King then addressed the royal scribe: "Take down a brief note to my son-in-law, the Parisan governor. [3] Briefly sum up what you have heard from the young man. He may be from Paris, but perhaps not from my nephew. Perhaps he is from the garrision commader. He was in uniform. Perhaps he is one of our young officer cadets from a noble family and in our service. He was eager to inform. Not that the nobility in Paris would not inform me, but this report shows more concern for the peasants than I would expect for message sent from Laurant, the acting governor. I doubt Laurant knows or maybe does not concern himself with peasant affairs. Then add to that note that I am sending my son with a very small militia escort to look over the situation. Give him all the support he needs to settle this matter of bandits on bridges. In addition to terrifying the local peasants this banditry will hurt our realm's toll revenues. A man who hurts the toll revenues hurts his king."

    The scribe then completed the message with the usual more polite wording:
    His royal magesty, King Phillip the Chivalrous, King of France commands the Royal Governor of Paris to read this message and to take immediate steps to please his Highness:
     
    A small band of men have been spotted near a bridge crossing the Seine river upstream from Paris. I am sending my young son with a modest militia escort to look over the situation. Give him all the support he needs to settle this matter of bandits on bridges. This banditry will hurt our realm's toll revenues. Any man who hurts the toll revenues personally hurts his king. [4]
     
    by the authority of his highness
    Philip
     
    The document was then carefully folded and sealed with wax. The royal seal was then fixed to the the document and sent by aide to the young man. The scribe never once thought that Philip should review the document or actually personally affix the seal. This was the usual practice and all the court knew who had the seal and who did the writing and sending. A good system when it worked, and a system that gave every noble an out when the system broke down.

    A mount was prepared and the young man was sent to Paris with the message.

    The next day Philip had a private audiance with his 14 year old son, Fleury. [5]
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    "I want you to take your bodyguard of knights and a company of militia out to the reported bridge crossing and take what actions are needed to put down this banditry. You should be meeting up with some support from Paris. What that support is I do not know. Use it as you see fit. You go with the blessings of your father. This is an important mission, not just to deal with the bandits, to to also assess the quality of support for the king in the people and with the nobles residing within the safe walls of Paris."

    Fleury responds, "Yes father. I will gladly do what you ask."

    Fleury knew that this was a perfect opportunity to prove his worth. The other members of the court refer to him as the bastard behind his back. This was not the case with his oler brother. They both had the same parents. It is true that he is a bastard son, but he knows his father loves him and has tried as much as the royal house could do to give him a good start in life with money and responsibilities. The money could buy some property, but not enough to purchase a title of value.

    He knew he was not the heir an would never be the heir because of the misfortune between his father and the clergy. Some say that his father had abducted a married woman because he fancied her. Maybe. Maybe there was more to the story. Fleury and the rest of the family did not know nor cared to know.

    The matter may be small, but it was important to his father. Not just dealing with bandits, that was minor. He then called his knights to mount up and be prepared to go into the fields to support their king. A company of militia spears accompanied them on the road towards Paris.

    A two days journey down the road -- a fork in the road appears in the distance. A band of men are seen.
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    Could this be the bandits his father spoke of? He then asked a knight, "Ride ahead. Look and see what these men are about. If you think it safe, announce your presence. Determine whether they will act as friends to the King or act as bandits in defiance of our realm."

    "Yes, sire! I will head out and determine our foes and their intentions."

    He rode off with two other knights and approached the men.

    "Fellow countrymen! I bring you greetings from Lord Fleury, the noble son of our chivalrous King Philip. What is your business here on this lonely country road?"

    A man who seemed to be in command of the company of spearmen answered, "I am Captain Renaud."

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    The empasis on the rank seemed important to the man. He continued, "We are a small band of men no longer in the employ of our late departed lord, the Count Stephen de Blois. He left on Crusade for our King Phillip and for our late and beloved Pope Clement. Upon the end of the Crusade he had returned to his wife's Norman lands in England. He has since died. The current lord, CountTheobald IV, does not seem to need our services. We have left the county of Blois in search of some support in keeping with our responsabilities to our King."[6]

    The knight representing Lord Fleury then responded, "We have heard reports of bandits that are disrupting our toll road and the transport of goods to Paris. Again, what do you state your goals to be?" The knight's voice had boomed over the distance separating the knight from the spearmen. This was a voice of authority that was used to getting prompt and correct answers.

    Captain Renaud, now a bit nervous, then responded with careful words. "We have seen others on the road, but not towards Paris. On the road from Paris towards Clermont -- we did see such men. We avoided conflict so we did not speak with them. We did not think them to be bandits or we would have acted."

    The knight then responded, "Lord Fleury, the son of our King requests that you bring us to these men. Help us to settle the toll road problems. Help us to help the King. We must restore the flow of the wagons and the merchants heading to Paris. Wr must restore the tolls to the king's purse."

    "We are happy to serve our king. His smallest wish is our command." So said the commander of the spearmen.

    "Good, wait here and Lord Fleury and his men will join up with you. Together we will settle this matter of the toll road," said the knight. He and the other two knights then rode off to rejoin the knights with Lord Fleury. The knight then reported to Lord Fleury what had transpired. Together Lord Fleury and all the men then proceeded to join up with the spearmen and took the fork south towards the Seine river. The pact with the spearmen probably made the militia uneasy, but nothing was said to Lord Fluery or the knights. Nobles often make the peasants nervous, but they also know their place is in service to the King first and to other nobility as demanded. Lord Fleury has made his wishes known. Tonight the peasant militia will bed down with the unknown spearmen hoping for the best.

     
    [1] This excommunication was a terrible rift between the crown and the church. Philip could not participate in the Crusade of 1095 - 1099 even though the Crusade was called by a French Pope at the Council of Clermont. This was the very same public forum tht was used to issue the excommuniction. Very bad. Very embaressing. The Normans were quick to take advantage of this and particpated as a 'French' army in name only in the Crusade. This Norman 'French' army will be explored more when The House Divided AAR is published

    [2] Of course Phillip is paying for the entourage. It is paid via the corruption to the governor of Rheims and then to support the party put on by the governor to support the King's visits. Everyone knows this so there is no need to make big deal about the 'lost' revenues. King Phillip is not a fool. Of course there is always a little extra skimmed off for the governor's troubles as well. This is the very essence of the problem when corruption is allowed. Everyone wants a cut.

    [3] Laurant was current the acting governor of Paris. He was married to King Philip's daughter -- the very diplomatic Constance. The marriage was perhaps not the best for Constance, but it was a good marriage for the crown. Philip is the crown. The younger genertion are all his children so naturally Laurant is his 'nephew' even though he is actually his son-in-law. A better relationship prehaps. It does avoid the xxx-in-law jokes.

    [4] Notice among the differances between the document and speech of the king -- " Any man who hurts the toll revenues personally hurts his king." Will this come back to haunt a noble in the future? This was not the intent of King Philip, but this document is now the official voice of King Phillip.

    [5] Yes, a 14 year old is a man in this era. Fleury has in his name all the authority to act in the king's name. An awesome responsability for any man at any age whether the responsability is by title, position, or blood relation.

    [6] Count de Blois did leave, but not at the end of the Crusade. He left during the seige of Antioch. Upon his early and unexpected return his wife verbally chased him out of the castle and told him in no uncertain terms, 'Take your buddies and get out there and do what you have given an oath to your Pope that you would do!' His wife Adela or perhaps Stephen would make a great short tale. (Perhaps a hint at a coming attraction.) However, the important question here: Is the captain telling the whole truth? Did they come directly from the county of Blois or did they leave from the Crusade? Are they the bandits?
    Last edited by NorseThing; December 19, 2017 at 08:14 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    My absence does not mean that i wont encourage.
    Excellent piece.
    Except for the small pictures,i liked everything.
    You made a simple thing like some badit rebels seem so interesting and colourful.
    You have also managed to put an interesting story in things like 'an entourage' and 'counting money'.
    To anyone concerned. I am leaving twc. Bye and best of luck.
    And Pike thanks for supporting me always.

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    NorseThing's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    I changed the pic sizes. I was really frazzled last night when posting. I am not certain how this affects the system though.

    I did debate this and decided that with my budget, I was better off with the attachment process than spending the bucks needed for a purchased site. If it is a free site, I felt the chances of the pics surviving longer than the next quarters P&L were not so good. Several sites have succumbed recently and more will follow if the trend means anything. You do get what you pay for and I am cheap. Sigh.

    Also, I tried to do with more narrative and less pics. Maybe the pics should not even be there. Well it is a learning event for me. I may indeed drop some as not really adding to the story. There is a limit with attachments and albums in number and maybe in memory as well.
    Last edited by NorseThing; December 01, 2017 at 07:16 PM.

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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    I'm enjoying your new AAR! Thank you for encouraging others to participate in Writers' Study activities. I like the way that you introduce the setting, the situation - men who failed to earn honour in the Crusade are returning - and key characters such as King Philip and Lord Fleury. The encounter with the mercenary spearmen is nicely done, I like the idea of telling the story behind something which (in the game) is a routine action, such as hiring a mercenary unit.

    (You mentioned the issue of posting images. You're right, there is no guarantee that pictures posted on free image-hosting web sites will remain - even so, I imagine that most AAR writers who include screenshots use free image hosting sites (that is what I do). Some screenshots remain for years, some disappear. Yes, some writers might prefer to use more text and fewer images, or to not use images at all.)

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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    It's taken me much longer to get to this than I had hoped, but it is excellent to see this, NorseThing!

    This is a nice start, I think. I like the way you depict the breathlessness of the messenger - and the way you've casually hinted at possible problems with the system for delivering messages. And I'm intrigued by the spearmen.


    Speaking purely for myself, I prefer to use a free image-hosting site (I've used several at different times) because if you post pictures as attachments, they look very small to anyone who isn't logged in. But how you post images is very much a question of personal preference, I think.

    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    Tales After the Crusade
    by NorseThing
    Chapter 1.2
    Bandits!
    From the last episode:

    The pact with the spearmen probably made the militia uneasy, but nothing was said to Lord Fluery or the knights. Nobles often make the peasants nervous, but they also know their place is in service to the King first and to other nobility as demanded. Lord Fleury has made his wishes known. Tonight the peasant militia will bed down with the unknown spearmen hoping for the best.

    We now continue:

    The morning sun is breaking on the horizon. It appears that this will be a warm and sunny day. The peasant militia fears of the prior night fall are now just considered foolish concerns. The peasant militia seems to have found a new confidence in their Lord Fleury's command of the situation. It is amazing what a bit of sunlight can do for every person's perspective after the dark concerns of the previous night.

    Lord Fleury has been awake for some time enjoying the sun rise with many of the knights. He has just finished a light breakfast prepared by the cooking crew. It is now time to dress for the day ahead. It is now time to make some plans for this sunny day. This will be a good day to ride if it does not get too hot for the mounts.

    Lord Fleury to one of the knights closest to him, "Perhaps it is time to plan. Call the Captain of the spearmen over here. What was his name?

    "He said yesterday that his name was Captain Renaud. I do clearly remember the rank of Captain. That seemed important to the man. I will go and notify the good captain to come and hear your orders for the coming day." said the knight with perhaps the slightest sarcastic tone in his voice.

    "Let's call them plans and not too much emphasis on what are orders. No need to draw lines in the good earth that may be challanged." said Lord Fleury as he began to stretch his legs. He continued,"Our plans will be firm, but let's see where our good captain stands first. He may have the same interest in testing us as well. Also, see to it that his men have a good but light meal to start the day."

    It is still early morning, but the sun is a bit higher and a bit warmer.

    Captain Renaud approaches Lord Fleury. "Sire, your knight has requested my presence to start the day with a plan."

    "Yes, we need to meet up with some of the Paris garrison along this road toward Clermont. Is this the way to the other men that you saw several days ago?' asked Lord Fleury.

    Captain Renaud answered, "Yes. Just up the road a bit or perhaps a bit less than a days journey is a bridge crossing the Seine River. It is not an especially magnificant bridge, but it is servicable."

    Lord Fleury then firmly responds, "Good. I want you to bring your men up to the bridge. I want the bridge to be secured before we make any other movement to discover the location of these other men. It may be handy to hold the bridge and divide the land with the river. I will send some of my knights out and scout the area in a few directions."

    And then the morning plan was set into motion. The spearmen led by captain Renaud began moving down the road. Down the hill. Down towards the Seine River. Meanwhile the knights fanned out in groups of three to scout out the near area looking for signs of activity and also looking for signs of the ordered reenforcement militia from the Parisan garrison. If it were to come to blows with the spearmen, the knights and militia spears would be no match for the strangers in a direct head on confrontation. The reinforcements were not essential, but would be welcome.

    Fleury wonders aloud with no soldier in range to hear his doubts, "... if these other men truly exist, where are they?"

    Mid-day comes and now the sun is past the peak strength. The shadows are now lengthening. Still there is no sign of the ordered reinforcements nor any reports from the knights scouting the fields. Fleury decides to order the remaining knights and the spear militia down the road and to cross the bridge. The spearmen and Captain Renaud were just beyond the bridge as planned. The captain was being optimistic that this bridge was servicable. The bridge had seen better days and Fleury doubted that there were many days left that this bridge would see. There is no sense in delay though. A better spot needs to be taken before night. Perhaps there is a suitable bluff beyond the river that would afford the milita some sense of security.

    After crossing the bridge, the several remaining knights are with Fleury proceeding near the trees. The spear militia are now proceding down the road. The supply train is following at a discreat distance, but not too far back.

    Lord Fleury addresses Captain Renaud, "As you said the bridge is not quite a days journey. Let's move your spearment forward and the militia will cover the rear near to the baggage train. We can move along and eventally up to higher ground nearer to the forrested areas away from the river. Let's find a good spot to bed down for the night."

    To the left, the the land starts to slope away from the road with open fields. To the right the forest trees continue to hug close to the road. Fleury thinks. His memory of this road to Clermont is a bit fuzzy. He is becoming very aware that his 14 years may not be enough for the experience needed on what he thought would be a simple mission. How much further beyond the river should we really proceed without the reenforcements from the Parisan garrison? Now is not the time for his mind to wander. Now is not the time to wonder. Certainly not to wonder out loud within the hearing of the militia spears...

    Twap! Twap! A couple of crossbow arrows bury their arrow points into the tree trunks just to the right but dangerously near to the knights!
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    Last edited by NorseThing; December 19, 2017 at 08:12 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    An intriguing chapter.The ending pulls you to the wire.Well done.Twap twap the crossbows arrows come.But hey,i have a question,how did he know they were crossbow arrows and not normal ones.
    To anyone concerned. I am leaving twc. Bye and best of luck.
    And Pike thanks for supporting me always.

  11. #11
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    Good chapter, I wonder what has happened to the reinforcements and how Lord Fleury and Captain Renaud will respond to the situation they are in. (Thank you for helping to advertise the Scriptorium Writing Competition, in your signature.)

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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    @mad orc: I am in no way an expert, but wouldn't crossbow bolts generally be shorter than arrows?

    That is definitely a cliffhanger, NorseThing! I, too, hope to find out what happened to the reinforcements.

    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales


    Tales After the Crusade
    by NorseThing

    Chapter 1.3
    Bandits!

    From the last episode:

    Twap! Twap! A couple of crossbow arrows bury their arrow points into the tree trunks just to the right but dangerously near to the knights.





    We now continue:

    Lord Fleury looked around. He could see no crossbowman that could have fired those arrows.

    "Quickly, loyal knights -- spread out! Let's not give this rogue a big target to aim for. Let him fire at one man and then the rest will know his position."

    With a bit of thought, they were fired too quickly to have been from a single crossbow. There must be at least two archers or a single brave sole with two crossbow loaded to fire. Either way, there was still no archer within site and open fields to the left where the arrows must have traveled from to hit the trees.

    "Men, look to the left and down below! The arrows must have come from some low depression in that open field."

    Twap! Another arrow!

    Two men are now seen running further down hill and further forward of the knight's position.

    One Knight spotted them and called out, "Sire, they are now running off. Shall we give chase?"

    "No. They must have been either lone assassins or more probably lookouts for a larger party. If it is a larger party, then more men mean more crossbows ready fire with a deady strike. A small handful of knights on their mounts would not be successful if their nerves were steady and their fire mneasured. Pull up into the trees. At least that gives us less of a target!", shouted Lord Fleury as he spurred his mount towards the trees.

    Once in the relative safety of the trees, Lord Fleury and his small band of knights started to look around with greater care. No further arrows have been fire and no night is in need of assistance.

    "We were lucky. Let us take care and not repeat this error. Fan out, but remain with your mounts. They may be out of range. We cannot remain though. Night will come and then the trees may not be of any useful cover. We do not know the strength of our foes, but if they are the bandits, then Captain Renaud was honest, at least to some of his story."

    From closer to their position and coming from the trees are some men on horses. They appear to be one of the groups of three knights that were sent out earlier as scouts.

    Lord Fleury spoke out for any knight close at hand, "One of you brave knights stay in the trees and go and warn our fellow knights before they fall into the very same ambush that we survived. Take care ... but hurry!"
    Within minutes the small group of knights were now three stronger. Modest reenforcements, but welcome none the less.

    "Sire, I think I have spotted the baggage train and our militia spears. Also, there seems to be more militia than we left Rheims with. Out reenforcements from the Parisan garrison must have arrived.", called out one of the knights.

    Lord Fleury responded, "That is good news. Now let us think our position out. The militia will need to take some cautions. They would stand little chance against the crossbows alone. We can better the odds by flanking the crossbows and give them more than one target."

    Again Lord Fleury responded, "It is time to form up. Let's give these rogues a taste of French Royal steel!"

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails crossbow arrows points bury into the trees.jpg  
    Last edited by NorseThing; December 19, 2017 at 08:09 PM.

  14. #14
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    I can't help still being slightly worried about how this is going to go...

    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  15. #15
    NorseThing's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales


    Tales After the Crusade


    by NorseThing

    Chapter 1.4
    Bandits!


    From the last episode:

    Lord Fleury responded, "That is good news. Now let us think our position out. The militia will need to take some cautions. They would stand little chance against the crossbows alone. We can better the odds by flanking the crossbows and give them more than one target."
     
    Lord Fleury responded, "It is time to form up. Let's give these rogues a taste of French Royal steel!"

    We now continue:

    Another knight called out, "Sire, look beyond the first rise in the open. Captain Renaud and the spearmen seem to be advancing. They must be between the militia and the rogues. They are marching in good order. They seem to know they are in the midst of a conflict since they are advancing with their spears in a ready position."

    Lord Fluery then continued with a better command to his voice, "Prepare the lances. We will advance and then charge!"

    The knights with Lord Fleury in the lead then began to advance on the enemy position. They advance first at slow pace. This will allow the horses to settle in an organized formation. The horses are comfortable with this from the training exercises that all men of arms must practice. Once at a steady pace, Lord Fleury then picked the pace up to a steady trot. The cavalry responded as a well practiced unit.

    The militia crossbows were now visible. The cavalry were not yet within the deadly range of the crossbows. Captain Renaud and the spearment were marching closer to the crossbows as well.

    Lord Fluery's militia escort with the Parisan reenforcements were also advancing at a steady well formed pace. They were now combined as three companies of militia, but they were well behind Captain Renaud and his spearmen.

    The rogue crossbows seemed to be with a company of spearmen. The odds were still clearly with Lord Fleury, but much would hang in the balance. The bandit crossbows were now standing in a close formation. These bandits were preparing to fire upon Captain Renoud as he and his spearmen closed the gap.

    Lord Fleury could not wait. He spurred his stead and began the charge. The knights were surprised that the charge began so soon. They then spurred their mounts as well if not to charge in a well ordered formation to at least protect their Lord from the enemy in combat.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The bandits opened with a barrage of arrows against Captain Renaud and his men. Several fell. Captain Renaud and the spearmen continued to advance in good order. They had obviously seen cambat and knew to break against the enemy would be not only be a loss of discilpline, but possibly increase their own losses as well.

    Another volley of arrows flew. Many continued to hit their marks against Captain Renaud's spearmen. More spearmen dropped down. The formation of spearmen continued their advance.
    Lord Fleury and his knights now crashed into the enemy crossbow formation. Not a perfect charge by any means, but this would at least stop the volley of arrows against Captain Renaud and his men. The knights now drew swords and engaged the bandits in a confused melee. These crossbows were trained castle troops and not simply town militia such as Lord Fleury had brought from Rheims. Several knights were dismounted. More of the bandits fell to the sword.

    Captain Renaud now had closed the distance and were about to engage the bandits together with Lord Fleury and his knights. The bandit leader fell by an experienced knightly stroke of a sword. Upon the falling of their leader this one company of the bandit crossbows broke and ran. Before the knights could organize to pursue, a company of bandit spearmen had began to advance now.

    With a shout and charge, the bandit spearmen clashed with the knights. The bandit crossbows began to reform. They began to fire at will into Captain Renaud's spearmen and the knights.

    The knights and the spearmen now had to resolve this battle by sword and knife. This was a classic melee and quite the disorganized battle. Many men began to fall. Fortune did shine on Lord Fleury. Most of the fallen were the bandits.

    Captain Renaud's spearmen lost nearly half their force in the battle. Most had been dropped by the crossbows. Lord Fleury had also some loses, actually nearly one half the knights had dropped during the battle. Most were alive and their wounds would heal with time. This would result in a better bonding for future challanges. The militia escort including the reenforcements from the Paris garrison played an indirect part but did not engage the bandits. However it cannot be denied that their appearance on the field probably helped break the moral of the bandits. The bandit losses were nearly complete. Some bandits fled the field, but they were never seen again.

    Lord Fleury scanned the battlefield. Captain Renaud was tending to his men. At least the few who were still alive but terribly wounded. These wounds needed to be tended to or too much blood would be lost. The milita escort finally arrived. They began the unpleasant but necessary task of tending to the wounded who were mainly Captain Renaud's men. They also began to set up camp. Water was drawn from the Seine River to be boiled. Cook stoves and pots of water were heating up both for food and for the washing and binding of the wounds. The shadows were lengthening. Dusk seemed to quickly turn to darkness. The camp fires warmed the survivors and cast surreal shadows upon the battlefield. There was nothing to be seized as a prize for victory by Captain Renaud and his few survivors. Even the bandits themselves were poorly dressed. So ends the day on a battlefield that will not even be remembered in the chronicles.

    Lord Fleury walked up to Captain Renaud. "Captain Renaud, you and your men are brave. Without your contributions, this day may have been won by the bandits. You had stated to me earlier that you were no longer in the service of the county of Blois. I can assure you that you will be rewarded for this day. You are a proud company of spearmen now in the service of my father, King Philip of France. We will bind your men's wounds. We will bury your honored dead. We will stay the night on this hallowed field made holy with the sacrifice from your men. Tomorrow the Parisan garrison will return to my brother-in-law Count Laurant with my thanks. You and your men will return to Rheims as my guests to meet your leige and my father, the Chivalrous King Philip of France."
    _____________________________________________________________________________


    This ends Chapter 1 of the Tales After the Crusade. This 4 part series of episodes was titled "Bandits" and represented a few days in 1115 (just a small sliver of one turn) when a young bastard son of King Philip had come of age and was still learning to be a knight and a leader at the very young age of 14. We may never know whether Captain Renaud and these spearmen were simply out of service or whether they had left the Crusade without honor and without a prize. It does not matter. Today they proved themselves and earned the honor and praise of a Son of France on the field of battle.

    There will be a break for Christmas. I will try and start a new episode before I begin the break. I can give a hint though. The second chapter will be titled "The Norman Conquest of Italy". No promises though!

    However, there is more if you are interested. My blog will have a short commentary on the young Lord Fleury. I had some real problems in writing and developing this character within this shorter tale.

    Your comments and suggestions on both my writing style and the story itself are always sincerely requested and appreciated. Thank you for reading my tale.
    Merry Christmas!
     
    Last edited by NorseThing; December 19, 2017 at 05:40 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    Splendid story, my author...subscribed


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    My name is John, Tribune of Legio Ripenses IX Tertiae Italica and loyal servant to the computer generated Emperor, Julianus Flavius Augustus "The Apostles". And I will have my vengeance again The Quadi tribes, barbarian scums who decimated half of my legio in Mediolanum City Siege almost a year ago and Gratianus Flavius "The Traitor", the former Caesar who convince a half of precious my legio to his petty scheme rebellion just 3 months ago in this save game or the next
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  17. #17
    Axis Sunsoar's Avatar The Dead Pirate Roberts
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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    Very impressed with the way you turned a bandit encounter that could be a very simple thing (in fact I'd assume in your campaign it was probably rather insignificant overall) and turned it into a story. I think you did a good job developing Lord Fleury as a character, and the additional characters like Renaud formed a good supporting cast. The overall structure of story was very solid as it built up to the encounter which then provided a satisfactory conclusion to the story.

    +rep! looking forward to the next chapter!

  18. #18
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    I agree with Johnadiw26 and Axis Sunsoar, this is well done, both in the reporting of the battle and in the development of the characters.

  19. #19
    NorseThing's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    Tales After the Crusade

    by NorseThing

    Chapter 2.1 The Norman Conquest of Italy

    1100 A. D.

    Times have changed. With the end of the crusades and the establishment of Crusader dominated counties within the arab world, the Norman knights of Sicily have started to seriously consider establishing more permanant roots with an empire based upon a portion of Italy being firmly and properly in Norman control.

    The adventerous Normans had established control in the county of Greater Sicilia. This control was based upon the stone castle at Palermo. The stone castle is a center of military activity which dominates the island. The Normans then continued to push against the Muslims and eventually established a kingdom by uniting both of the counties on the island of Sicily under Norman control. Like the foothold established in Normandy, this was no longer sufficient. Norman dynasties such as the House d'Altavilla need more than a small island to be an empire. So the Sicilian Normans had pushed against the Greeks and the Muslims and now possess the county of Campania which includes the large town of Naples. With Campania, the Normans of Sicily are now neighbors with the Pope. The county of Lazio is the Papal States with the capital of Rome itself as the center of Christiandom. King Ruggero is respected by the Pope, but as of 1100 A. D. there are no formal diplomatic ties. It is a respectful neutrality between adjoining kingdoms. Still this is rare even within Europe in these chaotic times after the Crusade.

    Unfortunately it may be a future empire without a solid future. This is not a dynasty filled with nobles directly desended from the founder of the House d'Altavilla. The heir is a mere child. King Ruggero is the House d'Altavilla as a natural commander with strong authority to rule. He does lack the depth of family that is security for all aging rulers that want to pass on a legacy.

    If the 61 year old King Ruggero were to die, he often wonders and sometimes wonders outloud to no one in particular: "who would rule in the name of my young heir? Prince Simone is only seven and not able nor ready to rule in his own name. The prince has some older sisters, but... No. They would not be able to protect the dynasty from our neighboring nobles if it came time to cross swords. Princess Judith needs a suitable husband. Princess Emma did marry but has not yet produced and may not ever produce any additions to the family. Her husband, Romoaldo, is more suited to military affairs that affairs of state."

    It is time to act. Enough with wondering, in silence or outloud. This is not productive to securing a dynastic empire. This is not the Norman way of things. King Ruggero calls a scribe to take down a set of dispatches.

    * To the Governor of Naples, Romoaldo de Montescaglioso:

    Take your garrison and proceed towards the border along the road to Bari. Construct watchtowers as you see fit to better cover our frontier. We need some overlap to keep the province watched with care. Naples was a recent conquest. With our armies on the move, we need good information. Once the area is better patroled and better watched from towers on our frontier, then proceed towards Bari itself. The fleet under the command of Admiral Serlo will meet you with a substantial force to take the castle at Bari.

    by my Command,
    King Ruggero
     
    The next dispatch --

    * To Admiral Serlo:

    Take your fleet from our port in Palermo and proceed with haste to the castle grounds of Bari within the county of Apulia with the garrisons from Naples and Syracuse. At Bari you will instruct the garrison troops to beseige the castle and unite with the expected Naples garrison under the capable command of Romoaldo de Montescgliaso.

    by my Command,
    King Ruggero
     
    The next dispatch --
     
    * To my beloved daughter Judith:

    My desire is to know the knowable. Please proceed up the coast of Italy along the Adriatic. Take your time and meet with people. I trust your pleasant demenor will negotiate any agreements to our family's advantage. You will find the good noble Pietro quietly observing the adriatic coast. Use him as you see fit to expand your knowledge of our neighbors.

    by my Command,
    King Ruggero

    The next few months are filled with dockside activity. Preparations are now begining in earnest to load provisions and all manner of supplies onto the fleet while it is safe within the Palermo's harbor.

    Today, the modest Palermo garrison has assembled on the docks with banners and flags. Three companies of infantry and three companies of cavalry are now prepared to embark. They begin the process of boarding the transports by marching forward. These are well trained and experienced units. If not all battle hardened, they at least know how to drill in good order.
     
    So begins the next stage in the Norman Conquest of Italy.

    -- to be continued --

     
    Last edited by NorseThing; December 28, 2017 at 05:52 PM. Reason: links

  20. #20

    Default Re: Tales After the Crusade - a collection of shorter tales

    You write action scenes so very well man.Much better than me.That's why i take your help for my Blood and Diamonds story.
    That bandit encounter was splendid.
    You have written letter in your aar.
    As Alwyn told me long ago,doing things like letters or conversations gives a nice surprise and a break from heavy reading to the reader enhancing the whole experience.I like that too.
    One note though-According to me,writing the letters in another font would be better since that easily identifies the letter and looks better.But its just my personal preferance.

    To Calliagh De Bodemloze-Yes i missed the fact that crossbow bolts are shorter.Thanks.
    To anyone concerned. I am leaving twc. Bye and best of luck.
    And Pike thanks for supporting me always.

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