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Thread: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!) Complete + Behind the Scenes

  1. #1

    Default [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!) Complete + Behind the Scenes



    For those who fought with me against Writer's Block from 2012 to 2013
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    A Blast to the Past
    Tigellinus
    G-Ballz
    Merchant of Venice
    Radzeer
    Steward Denethor II
    Anduril248
    Paragon
    Shankbot de Bodemloze
    Robin de Bodemloze
    Chirurgeon

    And the rest of you who had followed my Sicilian and Skyrim AAR, I am so sorry that I wasn’t able to finish them. Back then I did really badly for my exams, so I got banned from using the computer and sent for many rounds of tuition. I took a break from gaming to get my studies back on track and man has it been hard, but I’ve done it. I’m now one year away from entering University, which is super competitive for my course, and then I most likely won’t be coming back to write anymore. I reinstalled most of my Steam games from 2010-2013, and one of them was this little gem called Medieval 2. I started playing it last week, then I remembered all the good times I had on this site with it, so I decided to start writing again and hopefully finish one AAR before I begin the journey to adulthood. (Yeah, I failed hard by not completing a single AAR…damn) So in a manner of speaking, this is my swan song of sorts. I'm also privately hoping that the interest for a game that came out more than a decade ago hasn't waned too much. Only one way to find out! Once again, I am really sorry that I just vanished without saying something for so long. I hope that you will find it in your heart to forgive me someday, my friends.


    Author's Foreword Hey everyone. For the longest time I’ve wanted to do a Crusader States AAR in SS 6.4 simply because of the complexity and possibilities involved. I’ve already tried the Byzantine Empire, England (who hasn’t, lol?), most of the Italian factions and France. It’s the only interesting faction left (to me) that I have yet to go more than 10 turns in with a campaign. The AAR will follow the perspective of a few different characters, but I can guarantee that around 80% of the updates will be from the perspective of the main character, so it won’t be too confusing. The updates themselves should be quite lengthy, and the aim is to have the majority of them being upwards of 2000 words. In the AAR, Christians and Muslims may refer to each other as infidels, heathen, scum, and other derogatory language. This is only meant to simulate the attitude each religion had to the other in medieval times and no offence is meant. If anyone feels that I am going overboard, please let me know and I will tone the rhetoric down.

    I’ve decided to write this from a mostly first person point of view, so I’m sorry if what you’re looking for is a diary entry styled AAR, but I can assure you that they aren’t that different fundamentally. Be warned that the campaign will not actually start until a few updates have gone by, this is because I wish to flesh out the backstory of certain characters. Again, I apologize for those who are raring to see someone try to survive with some of the toughest difficulty settings from the get go. This story is based around the survival of the Crusader States in the Holy Lands, beginning from 1220 AD onwards. Historically the Kingdom fell to many invaders, with this play through I hope I can change that. It will be a content-heavy AAR, and some of the chapters will have the original AAR feel of no pictures, but since AARtistry itself has been modernized, of course majority of the chapters will have pictures, especially battles. I'll try to keep only pictures that are necessary or I feel can help express the scene clearly.

    If you’re still here, I would like to thank YOU for reading this humble AAR of mine. Without YOU, there will be no one left to appreciate my skill (or lack thereof).


    So, here are the rules/settings.

    Faction: The Crusader States
    Mod: Stainless Steel 6.4 Late Era Campaign, BGR IV, Live Long and Prosper, Real Recruitment, Permanent Watchtowers, Savage AI and Weaker Heretics
    Campaign Difficulty: Very Hard
    Battle Difficulty: Very Hard
    Unit Size: Normal
    Cheats: Cheats? What are cheats?
    Objective: Complete the Story
    Estimated Upload Rate: Four to Six updates per month, mostly on weekends
    Other House Rules: Zero usage of Assassins, maximum of two spies at any one point of time, no spamming of crusades (I will only be allowed to call the first crusade, the rest is up to the Pope), no exploits, no eye gouging and no biting.


    Table of Contents Content Page

    Parchment One

    The Calm Before the Storm
    Prologue
    |
    Chapter 1
    |
    Chapter 2
    |
    Chapter 3
    |
    Chapter 4
    |
    Chapter 5
    |
    Chapter 6
    |
    Chapter 7

    Parchment Two

    The Mellowing of a Fledgling
    Chapter 8
    |
    Chapter 9
    |
    Chapter 10
    |
    Chapter 11
    |
    Chapter 12
    |
    Chapter 13
    |
    Chapter 14
    |
    Chapter 15
    |
    Chapter 16


    Interlude I

    Parchment Three

    The War in Our Lands
    Chapter 17
    |
    Chapter 18
    |
    Chapter 19
    |
    Chapter 20
    |
    Chapter 21
    |
    Chapter 22
    |
    Chapter 23
    |
    Chapter 24
    |
    Chapter 25
    |
    Chapter 26
    |
    Chapter 27
    |
    Chapter 28
    |
    Chapter 29
    |
    Chapter 30


    Interlude II

    Parchment Four

    The War in Our Homes
    Chapter 31
    |
    Chapter 32
    |
    Chapter 33
    |
    Chapter 34
    |
    Chapter 35
    |
    Chapter 36
    |
    Chapter 37


    Parchment Five

    The War in Our Hearts
    Chapter 38
    |
    Chapter 39
    |
    Chapter 40
    |
    Epilogue


    Behind the Scenes-ish





    Last edited by Swaeft; July 09, 2019 at 10:02 AM. Reason: Editing the content page

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  2. #2

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    PROLOGUE

    I stare at the pristinely polished floor, twiddling my thumbs. The silence in my mind drowns out the voices of a hundred agitated and boisterous clergy members. They’ve been at it for hours, and still there is no resolution in sight.

    Just as he said there wouldn’t be.

    I shift about in annoyance. I look to my left and nudge my friend. “My arse cheeks have gotten too well acquainted with this pathetic excuse of a chair.” He snorts and grunts in shared vexation. I immediately receive a rough shove from behind. “No talking. Don’t make me tell you again.”

    With nothing else to do, I turn my gaze forwards and glance around the church I am currently being ‘hosted’ in, just one of the many within the basilica. Clerics, priests, clergymen and women have clustered into different groups, and all are engaged in their own deep discussions. My eyes halt briefly at the biggest circle, where the more prominent members of the Holy See have convened. Most are clad in the garb of a cardinal, with their respective attendants and clerks obediently loitering about a few paces behind them. Although they are standing many metres away from where I am seated, it is not hard to make out what they are saying when one considers that they are practically shouting.

    “This is madness! Heresy! It cannot stand. We will not suffer such an insult. Christendom will not suffer such an insult. Something must be done.”

    I roll my eyes in exasperation. How did it come to this? So much pointless bickering and meaningless fearmongering. Truly, have we fallen so far? In an attempt to take my mind off the ceaseless debate, I glance around at the church itself. ‘Saint Peter’s Basilica’ I mumble to myself. A marvel of engineering. I wonder how disappointed he would be in all of us, should he somehow be able to see our sorry state from the Heavens. My gaze travels upwards, and I find myself studying the intricate mosaics and delicately crafted murals on the ceiling and walls. These masterpieces were commissioned by the various Popes over hundreds of years, and cost a great deal of time, effort and money to create. Will our history be someday recorded as glamorously as this, a sight for future generations to admire? Or will we be cast aside and relegated to some obscure historical document that may not see the end of the century? I furrow my brows at the very thought. I turn my attention to the more famous stained glass windows. All crafted by master architects mainly from France, they are indeed a sight to behold. They glitter gloriously in the afternoon light, and the rays of light peeking through the windows are nothing short of pure beauty. However, for all its splendor, the Basilica is showing signs of wear and tear, with tiny cracks here and there appearing in the foundations and the walls. I suppress a smirk. I guess there is some irony in that after all. The Church is not what it used to be.



    “Enough.” A guttural voice intones. “It is time.”

    The conversations gradually die down, and the cardinals and clerics return to their positions, with some sitting and the majority standing. The more powerful ones ascend to the stage and take their seats at the High Table, next to His Holiness the Pope. I feel a bead of sweat materialise on my forehead.

    “Judgement shall be rendered now.” The Pope declares with a haughty wave of his arm. I feel all the eyes inside the church shift their hostile glare onto me, and to a certain extent, my small entourage. “Be ready. Do nothing that will give them more cause to hate us.” I whisper to my friend, seated on my left. The only affirmation I receive is a slight nod. The Pope stands from his lavishly decorated chair, and lashes out. “In the name of all that is holy, have we not given you ample time and opportunity to explain yourself? Have we not, as guardians of our most Holy Church, adhered to its divine laws and commandments? Have we not treated you well?” The members of the clergy nod their head at each statement, like trained dogs. His tone sharpens as he continues. “Would you agree that we have been gracious hosts?” Silence falls upon the basilica. It is only after a few seconds have passed that I realise that the question was not rhetorical and that they are expecting an answer.

    I think about the friendly guard behind me, the ‘guided’ tours of the city, and the tiny accommodation I was ‘highly recommended to quarter myself in’. I clasp my hands together and stand, staring down the Pope.

    “Speaking of divine laws and commandments, Your Holiness, the papacy teaches that thou shalt not lie, and therefore, I must confess that I cannot say yes.”

    My friend cannot stifle his laughter, and the congregation bursts into anger. Cries for my punishment and even my head ring out, and only cease when the Pope raises his hands. Even then it takes a while for order to be restored. “I have just about had enough of your nonsense. If you do not answer my next question properly, Lord forgive me, you shall not live to see the morrow.” The Pope pauses to let the words sink in. “Choose your answer carefully. Where is he?”As I am about to open my lips, I see someone who appears to be a member of the clergy at the side of the church raise a banner of the cross for a few seconds, then lower it and walk away. Other than a few clerics who express annoyance at their view of me being temporarily obstructed, no one else seems to bother.

    For the first time in a long while, I manage to crack a smile.

    “I will not ask you again, boy.” The Pope’s voice refocuses my attention onto him. His lips are twisted into a scowl as he sternly bellows: “You will tell us where he is, as you promised. Where is he?”

    “Where is the King of Jerusalem?”
    Last edited by Swaeft; June 23, 2018 at 09:31 AM. Reason: Formatting Error

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  3. #3

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    CHAPTER ONE

    From the Perspective of Lord Jean, First Prince of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, The City of Jerusalem, 1232 AD.


    People always tell me that there is a certain allure to being a child. Innocence, naiveté, freedom to do what you want, independence from the burdens of the world, and piecemeal immunity from the responsibilities of a grownup among others. Shelter is provided, your family takes care of you, and you can just waste away in your home playing with toys and stick figures whilst dreaming of the wondrous world out there and what you would do in it in future.

    Such a shame then, that I never had the opportunity to experience any of that. My upbringing could not have been further from the norm. But that is partly because I am not a normal person, though I sometimes wish that I was.

    I am a Prince of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Or the Crusader States. Or Outremer. Or whatever name is being bandied about these days, it matters little. We are an isolated group of Christians surrounded by a sea of hostile Muslims, and also by an actual sea on one side. We are few in number, and that number decreases every year. We are desperately low on food, florins, trained men for the army, allies, and with each passing year our prospects for survival grow dimmer. The fact that we have managed to hang on to Jerusalem for so long now, and for a time, forge a peace with the Ayyubid Sultanate, is in itself, nothing short of a miracle. But we are never out of danger, or so father tells me. Our jealous enemies are everywhere, waiting for our Kingdom to crumble from infighting, lack of support, or simply our inability to sustain ourselves thousands of miles from the nearest friendly kingdom. We are fractured, hurting, and slowly bleeding to death, and not even the most valiant speeches or the most expensive festivities can hide that simple fact from our enemies.

    The Ayyubid Sultanate surrounds us, and is our most immediate concern. They have cut us off from our northern castle of Tortosa by occupying Damascus, and communication with the citizens there is unreliable and infrequent. Their biggest fortress of Gaza, is less than a hundred kilometres from Jerusalem, which is just a little under a weeks’ march away, a source of great concern to our commanders.

    Beyond this immediate threat lies the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. We have clashed with them time and time again, and yet our Kingdom has shrunk so much over the past few decades that we do not border them directly anymore. It seems that they have found it more of a hassle to deal with us that our orthodox brothers, the Byzantine Empire. It is no secret that both Sultanates do not see eye to eye, and I can only pray that they never mend their ties, for I fear that we do not stand a chance in hell to hold our Kingdom against the combined might of both Sultanates. We are having difficulty holding on to our possessions even now, despite being formally at peace with both Sultanates. There is always the danger of riots in Jerusalem, so polarized are the city’s inhabitants. The Constable of Jerusalem has to deal with more than a hundred disputes between Christians and Muslims every day, and less than half of those are resolved amicably, if at all. Tension within the city is palpable, and there is also general unrest amongst the population, some of whom feel that we have not done a proper job ruling the city. The city watch has their hands full dealing with petty theft and other minor crimes, and so are usually indisposed when we ask for their aid. Our castles of Acre and Kerak are in a similar state, though the threat of rebellion is much lower due to the higher number of soldiers and the strict rules imposed within castle walls. It is a small consolation, considering that fact that if we lose Jerusalem, our Kingdom is almost certainly lost. If that day shall come to pass, we will most likely retreat to our island stronghold of Nicosia, on Cyprus.



    I only pray our enemies take their time and dither about, for if they attack us now we will surely fall.

    I was robbed of my freedom at a mere age of 4. My father ordered that I was to be sent to a school to have daily lessons. At first, it wasn’t all that bad. Learning to read and write were basics that I would definitely have to use when I grew up, so I had no complaints there. But from then on I was sequestered away from the other students, and the education started to branch into settlement administration, taxation and tariffs, population management, all of which I found tedious and boring. In fact, the chapter that I was looking forward to the most, military tactics, wasn’t as long or as detailed as I expected. It basically consisted of a standard protocol that most generals were recommended to follow. In the end it boiled down to having a checking force engage the enemy, then flanking them with cavalry and pressing them until they break. It seems that in this day and age, victories are mostly won not by killing off the enemy, but rather by causing them to rout. This has perturbed me for the better part of my youth, as I have always wondered why the enemy would choose to run if it would only result in their deaths. Wouldn’t it be better to surrender or keep on fighting? I would never run away from the enemy in a battle.

    But I was young, and naïve. I never did fully understand the intricacies of the texts I was studying, and always assumed that there was only one possible answer to every question. Why did the enemy lose? Our forces were superior. Why does cavalry beat infantry? Because nothing stops a good cavalry charge! Why are archers useless? Because infantry usually carry shields. It never did occur to me that we usually took to the field with an inferior army, that numerous cavalry charges had ended in disaster, and even with shields, archers would still cause casualties unless the unit carrying them was well trained and knew how and when to use their shields. No, these possibilities did not come to my mind, for I was still young, ill-disciplined and only 4.

    Indeed, it took a few more years before I started grasping the basics of strategy and the finer points about administration. Mother tells me that I am supposed to take great pride in the fact that I have a much better education than the majority of the children my age, and that the school in Jerusalem where I am studying is one of the finest in the region. Her words ring hollow to me as somehow I feel nothing but despair. My days are filled with lessons, training, and more lessons. I occasionally catch a glimpse of other children running about the royal compound, playing with wooden swords or chasing one another, laughing gaily. They looked contented and happy with their lot in life.

    I certainly wasn’t.

    My days went by in a blur. A typical weekday would be waking up around 5 in the morning, gobbling down breakfast and then attending my private administrative lessons until 10. This was the most boring part of the day and my tutor, a member of the council of nobles, would always speak of me poorly to my father. “Bad attention span, lack of interest, lackadaisical attitude.” Those were some of the phrases my father admonished me with, when he deigned it worthy of his time to appear before me. Or rather, have me brought before him. In time I learned to fake my attention towards the noble, who went by the name of Paragon, but I would always flounder when asked a test question, and my relationship with the noble and Father did not improve. I distasted the taxation lessons the most, as it comprised of nothing but how to further extort the common citizens of the land.

    Then it would transit to sparring practice with the Master at Arms until lunch, or whenever he was satisfied with my progress. I was restricted to only one weapon type – the sword and shield, as I was deemed too weak to carry a two handed weapon, and had little aptitude for a bow. The Master at Arms was a French crusading noble named Tigel de Linus who decided to stay in Jerusalem to train new recruits for the army. “I’m doing it for the pay.” He rasped at me when I pressed him for the reason why he didn’t go home to France. “Now stop asking so many questions and raise your shield!” When training began I was terrible with the sword. Tigel de Linus had handed me a one handed sword, but sometimes even with two hands holding the pommel I couldn’t keep it steady. The shield was even heavier, and this resulted in me discarding it totally during sparring sessions sometimes in order to wield the sword with better flexibility. That was when sparring would halt, and I would be forced to grab my shield up from the sand under a ruthless tirade from Tigel. “If you miss your first blow, what will you do without a shield? I didn’t spend all this time training you just so you could die because you didn’t want to carry something heavy! SHIELD UP!”

    ‘En Garde’ very quickly became the phrase I hated hearing the most.

    By midday, my arms and back would ache with soreness whilst I ate in a hurry, then it was off to another round of lessons, this time on military tactics and strategy. I was astounded to learn that in the past, the Kingdom of Jerusalem relied on a very simple tactic, to charge in all the heavy horse first, and if that didn’t break up the enemy, to send in the heavy infantry to finish the job. My military instructor, the Constable of Jerusalem, scoffed when he told me that the crusaders only realised that this tactic was outdated after the end of the Third Crusade and did not work in the East, where warfare and tactics were different. “They needed fifty thousand dead pious men before they could figure out that they couldn’t simply charge into a hail of arrows and spears? No wonder they all failed.”

    After which, around 4 in the afternoon, I would be escorted to the stables to learn all there was to know about horse riding. “You will be riding into battle atop one of our finest mounts, m’lord.” The stable master told me. “Can’t have you mistaken for a common peasant now can we?” Horse riding was the only period of the day’s training regime that I actually thought I would enjoy. I was convinced that training would always start with me petting the horse and getting to know it better by feeding it and grooming it, and giving it a name. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. The stable master was a severe, dour man named Chirgeon who tried to get me riding at a gallop from the get go. I fell off more times that I could count, and this only added more bruises and bumps to the ones I already acquired from sparring. When I inquired about horse feeding and horse grooming, the stable master curtly told me: “Don’t bother. They die too fast for us to care about them.” That admission stunned me and almost brought me to tears. I glanced down at the majestic stallion I was riding on and patted its head mournfully. It seems that I wasn’t the only one being mistreated.

    Spending so much time separated from other children didn’t do me much good. There were days when I spent the evenings wistfully glancing at the night sky, longing for a playmate after a long day of studying. I knew more names of the constellations in the sky than I did of the other children. Father was insistent that I receive the best education that I could possibly receive, and that meant as little distractions as possible. All my time and energy were to be directed to studying and training. I hated that part of my life. Mother seemed to notice this, and I believe I heard her arguing with father about my situation every now and then, but father is the King, and Mother always relents in the end.

    I’m not even close to my family. My mother, Marie de Lusignan, is the only person I can talk to without reservation. Father is always absent, dealing with nobles and politics and other business that I neither know of nor understand. I can’t remember the last time I saw father at the dining table. None of the so called eastern delicacies lavished on me are able to help ease my mind, no matter how tasty or presentable they look. My older and only sister, Yolande de Brienne, is friendlier to me, but due to my overloaded training schedule and her own studies, we don’t have much time to converse with each other.

    I have no friends. I have no freedom. I practically have no family. I do nothing but study and train, and I am sick of it.



    But I am no longer four years old. A cooped up, deprived and malcontent twelve year old child can only take so much for so long.
    Last edited by Swaeft; July 23, 2018 at 06:19 AM. Reason: Formatting

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  4. #4
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Welcome back, Swaeft! It's good to see the author of To Change our Fate: Reforging Sicily with Steel and Heart (first-place winner of the MAARC XLII) back in action!

    Lord Jean comes across as a relatable character, frustrated because other young people can enjoy themselves, while he's forced to study and train. I like the Constable's comments about the crusaders' tactics (I wonder if those comments were based on the historical tactics of crusaders) as well as Lord Jean's own reflections on the fractured, hurting Kingdom of Jerusalem. Chirgeon's comment about the horses adds a sad note, and a worrying one if the Kingdom of Jerusalem still depends on its cavalry.

  5. #5

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Welcome back, Swaeft! It's good to see the author of To Change our Fate: Reforging Sicily with Steel and Heart (first-place winner of the MAARC XLII) back in action!

    Lord Jean comes across as a relatable character, frustrated because other young people can enjoy themselves, while he's forced to study and train. I like the Constable's comments about the crusaders' tactics (I wonder if those comments were based on the historical tactics of crusaders) as well as Lord Jean's own reflections on the fractured, hurting Kingdom of Jerusalem. Chirgeon's comment about the horses adds a sad note, and a worrying one if the Kingdom of Jerusalem still depends on its cavalry.
    Man, that MAARC and AAR feels like they were from a century ago...even though it's 'only' been five years. Thank you kindly for the welcome.

    Let it not be said that Lord Jean could be mirror character for my RL, that is certainly not the case, no no As for the crusader's tactics and lack of cavalry, I am trying to portray them as historically accurate as I can, and I've actually done some reading (nothing too heavy, though I might when I have the time) on the tactics and life of crusaders, so I'm striving to depict the battles and leadership as close to how it was as possible. Articles on the First, Second and Third Crusades were interesting reads, so it was time well spent I guess.

    I also need to apologize for the fact that I can only update the story on weekends, as I am too busy on the weekdays and do not have access to my computer with Stainless Steel installed on it. I promise to make up for it by pumping out the content on the weekends

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  6. #6
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    It is like Alwyn says, Lord Jean is a character we can easely relate to, the poor boy or should I say young man. I should think he is more mature than some 20 year-olds in our time. I expect a lot of good things from him being brought up as he was. The history and background concerning the Crusader States in this time period are nicely portrayed in here, being the crumbling and decaying state they were in the 13th century. The Prologue was also nicely done bringing in an air of mystery regarding the King of Jerusalem and the concern it has brought to the Papacy.

    All in all a great job and am looking forward to see more of this! +rep

  7. #7

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    It is like Alwyn says, Lord Jean is a character we can easely relate to, the poor boy or should I say young man. I should think he is more mature than some 20 year-olds in our time. I expect a lot of good things from him being brought up as he was. The history and background concerning the Crusader States in this time period are nicely portrayed in here, being the crumbling and decaying state they were in the 13th century. The Prologue was also nicely done bringing in an air of mystery regarding the King of Jerusalem and the concern it has brought to the Papacy.

    All in all a great job and am looking forward to see more of this! +rep
    Well they did have to learn a lot faster than what we are going through right now, with imminent threats lurking around everywhere. I am crafting his upbringing according to the traits he is receiving in the game, and so far it's been delightful to see what kind of traits he receives each turn he stays in Jerusalem. I do hope I don't get one of those nasty ones like 'poor tutor' or 'sadistic as a child', that would really ruin the story and I absolutely abhor reloading previous saves. Thank you kindly for the nice words, and I hope to publish the next update when I get home, which would be a little under 12 hours' time.

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  8. #8

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    CHAPTER TWO

    From the Perspective of Lord Jean, First Prince of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, The City of Jerusalem, 1232 AD.


    I had wanted to wait til the last vestiges of the Sun had disappeared from the horizon, but the Sun was setting particularly late today. By my estimations, it was just after 7pm. The guards had assumed that I was already lying in bed, tired from the day’s training. But in truth, I have never felt more alive. My heart was racing and I was feeling the full effects of an adrenaline rush.

    I was sneaking out of the royal compound, armed with only a pouch ofcoins.

    Light rain was keeping the streets clear. There was not a soul in sight. I haven’t felt such a thrill since…I stopped and realised that I actually haven’t felt such a thrill ever before. I was finally experiencing some of that youthful freedom that everyone else seemed to have.

    The gates were barred, but only a lone soldier stood guard. Notwithstanding the fact that the guard had probably never even seen my face before, I took the extra precaution of dressing myself in one of the servants’ robes and wore slippers. I was gambling on the fact that they would only question people entering the compound, not people exiting, as those people most probably had business inside and were allowed in in the first place. I walk straight up to the gates and look at the guard expectantly.

    “What are you, daft?” The gate guard grumbled. I start getting anxious. Why isn’t he opening the gate? “They need to stop sending in brain less louts to make deliveries. Use the postern gate, you fool. The main gate is only for big groups, and you’re certainly not in one.” I seriously considered telling the guard just who I was there and then, but in the end I bit my lip and decided to play it cool. I bowed my head and mumbled a half-hearted apology, then I quickly scampered down to the right, where I saw a smaller,wooden door that I assumed was the side door. No guard this time. I muttered to myself in delight. I pull on the handle but the door did not budge.Frustrated, I tried twice more, to no avail. I was just about to consider heading back to the gate guard to explain myself when the door swung outwards. A guard in a nasal helmet peered over and looked at me inquisitively. Ah…it’s an out swinging door…and the guard is posted outside. I murmured my thanks and quickened my pace down the street, praying that the guard did not attempt to question me.

    For once my prayers are answered, and after a few minutes of walking down the main avenue, I found myself at an intersection. I halted briefly, bewildered,as I had never left the royal compound before. I took a few moments to admire the sprawling city before me.




    I smiled to myself, taking in a breath of air. So this is the fabled city of Jerusalem, which Kingdoms have fought over for decades. Pathways and alleys stretched and snaked around the many bends between the buildings,and the buildings themselves looked resplendent, basking in the glow of the afternoon sun. The many shingles on the various rooftops matched the color of the sand, and the pathways themselves were sometimes indistinguishable from sand or dirt. Looking forwards, I spotted a tavern straight ahead, a sign saying ‘market’ that pointed to the right, and the unmistakable smell of fire coming from the left. That would be either the blacksmith or the siege workshop, neither of which I was particularly interested in at the moment. The market is probably closed. I decided to continue forwards to the tavern, and pushed open the door. The heat of a crackling fire rushed to embrace me, and the smell of a dozen drinks I’m not allowed to consume, as well as the exuberant atmosphere, overwhelms my senses. I dithered around at the entrance. Perhaps this wasn’t the right choice for me. Before I could turn around however, a young man I estimated to be about six to seven years older than me spotted me and strode over, welcoming me and pulling me inside.

    “Benvenuto! Hey, you new here?” He asked. “I’ve never seen you ‘round here.You’re not lost, are you?” I shake my head and tell him that I was just looking for a place to sit down and gather my thoughts. He glared at me suspiciously.“What are you doing here alone? What’s your name?

    “I’m Jean. My parents have a room upstairs.” I extended my hand, and he hesitated, as if he was considering the authenticity of my reply, before proffering his own in return. “Just Jean? Well, okay. You shouldn’t wander the streets alone though, all sorts of nasty folk out there. I’m Lorenzo.”

    “Just Lorenzo, then?” I chided, which elicited a bashful grin from him. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lorenzo. Where are you from?” He replied wistfully:“Italy. Venice to be exact.”

    “That’s really far from here, isn’t it?” I exclaimed. He inhaled and sized me up.“If you want to hear the story of why I’m here, come with me. It would be nice to chat with someone new, and who’s not hostile to us for a change.” Lorenzo guided me towards a table with two chairs and signaled to a waitperson along the way.

    He pulled out a chair for me, and I gratefully sat down. “What do you mean hostile? Do people hate you just because you’re Italian?” I inquired. Lorenzo chuckled. “Dear God, no. People hate us because we’re Venetian. As to why they hate us, I don’t know exactly, something about a crusade that went wrong.You’ll have to ask my father. He owns this tavern. He always tells me not to fraternize with the locals too much, but you seem alright.” Lorenzo paused to take a breath. “Where did you say you were from?”

    I thought about lying to him for a moment, but promptly decided that there would be no benefit in doing so, and I couldn’t think of a suitable country to name that I would be able to talk about with confidence anyway. “I grew up here.” I replied. Lorenzo chortled softly. “Well, you have to watch out for the royal family then. My father tells me that they’re all a bunch of bastards,though I have heard equal portions of praise and hatred for the King.” I smiled,amused, and just then the waitperson from earlier strides over with two cups of…something, and set them down on our table. “Grazie, Marco.” Lorenzo thanked the waitperson and lifts his cup, but I do not, and he takes notice. “Ah, don’t worry, it’s nothing too strong, just tea from my hometown. Please, have a taste and tell me what you think.”

    I lifted the cup and took a small sip. The tea was flavourful and the smelled pleasing to the nose. I quickly down half of it in a single gulp. Lorenzo berated me good-naturedly and told me that tea was meant to be enjoyed slowly,and preferably over a long conversation. I had originally intended to tour the city on my own, but Lorenzo’s welcoming nature and the prospect of having someone friendly to chat with seemed significantly more appealing. I quaffed some more tea and inquired about his backstory. He settles nicely into his chair and relates to me the story of how his family was originally a proud merchant trading family, but a dispute with an even bigger and more well connected trading family caused them to lose their clients, business and eventually their own house had to be sold to pay off their debts. “My father saw opportunity in the Holy Land, and so here we are, trying to make our fortune so that we may one day return in glory and riches to reclaim our home!Until then, drinking this tea is all that reminds me of my home. Not that I had much to remember anyway, I was only four when my father shipped us away from Venice.”

    I felt equal amounts of pity and admiration for him. His family had lost everything, and yet they were still working hard in the hope to one day return to the dream that they cling on so dearly to. “So, what about you? What kind of life do you lead?”

    I stuttered out a few incoherent words, my mind in a sudden panic. I had been so engrossed in his tale that I had forgotten my own cover story! As if by some divine providence, the young man’s name was shouted across the tavern. He looked at me and apologised. “Sorry, I have to go. That’s my father. Listen, if you have time, come visit me here in the evenings. I’ll be in the market from morning to afternoon too, tending to my mother’s stall.”

    “BOY! Where are you?” A booming voice hollered. I told Lorenzo I would certainly look for him, and inquired as to the price of the tea. “It’s on me!”He declared as he melted away into the tavern crowd. I didn’t even have time to utter my thanks. I finished the last of my tea and was just about to leave when a firm hand pressed on my shoulders and forced me back into the chair.

    “You should have been more careful, prince.”

    A jolt of trepidation coursed through my body. A robed and hooded man pulled out the chair opposite me and sat down roughly. Two of his henchmen stood on either side of me, which told me that this man meant business and has somecoin, at least for a few hirelings. I tried my best to swallow my fear, which only really meant that I didn’t say anything and continued quivering slightly.Then the man drew a dagger, I drew a sharp breath in turn.

    “Do you know what this is?” He twirled the dagger deftly around his hands, then with a sudden movement, stabbed it into the wooden table. The man looked at me,emotionless. “Just one of these stuck in you would mean the end of you, and quite possibly this Kingdom.” He stared me straight in the eyes. “You really don’t have any idea what you mean to this Kingdom and Christianity, do you?” I was too stunned to answer. The man sighed and removed his hood. I judged him to be in his mid-thirties, and noticed a particularly terrible scar on his right cheek. He followed my gaze and sighed again. “I got this from a guard in Gaza.Nearly lost my life there and then. My name is Foucaud. I’m what you’d call a spy, and I work for your father. Well, I’m really much more than just a spy,but that’s all you need to know for now. You really should be more careful when sneaking about like this. The city isn’t safe. Thefts happen in broad daylight,and brawls break out all the time.”



    Foucaud pulled the dagger out of the table, and I gaped at the medium sized indent in the table. “The next time you decide to skulk around alone, take this with you.” I grasped the hilt of the dagger, which was surprisingly heavier than I expected it to be. “And for God’s sake don’t tell anyone I gave it to you. John here will escort you back to the compound.”

    The man on my left groaned and opened his mouth. “I will?”

    Foucaud glared at the man. “Yes, and you will shadow this young man whenever he leaves the compound and make sure he doesn’t lose his life. I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to be the last we see of him in the city.” The man on my right let out a loud guffaw which caused a few heads to turn, and the man named John started to protest. “Are you kidding me, I’m not paid to babysit a boy!”

    Foucaud cut him off. “The King is paying me a lot of money for my work. I’m paying you for your work. And your work is whatever I say it is. Get it done, unless you want to find another employer. That is, another employer who can command the same salary I’m paying you.” With that, he stalked out of the tavern without looking back, seemingly melting into the crowd. The man who was on my right clapped John on the shoulder and followed. John lamented his ill fortune and grabbed me by the shoulder. “Come on, young ‘un. Let’s get a move on before someone discovers that you’re missing.” Before I was manhandled out of the tavern, I removed a few coins from the pouch on my belt and left them on the counter. Thanks for the tea.
    Last edited by Swaeft; July 25, 2018 at 05:20 AM. Reason: Thanks Kilo11

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  9. #9

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    CHAPTER THREE

    From the Perspective of Lord Jean, First Prince of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, The City of Jerusalem, 1232 AD.

    It’s been barely two days, but I was still feeling the excitement of leaving the compound. Even better, I am about to do so again this afternoon. Horse riding lessons were postponed as the horses were sick and the stable master was tending to them, so I had the afternoon to myself. What better way to spend it then getting out of this place? As it turned out, the guard outside the small gate was a friend of John’s, so I now had unrestricted access to the outside of the compound as long as he was on duty. I kept the dagger Foucaud had given me on my person at all times, only removing it from underneath my waistband when I was going to shower or sleep. I also took up John’s suggestion to bring a smaller pouch of coins out next time under advisement. “Too many damn thieves.” He had remarked.

    I strode towards the small gate with a spring in my step. Getting out of the compound and away from the monotonous life I was leading inside felt like a breath of fresh air. I confidently shoved the door outwards and nodded at the guard, who immediately walked over to close it. I made my way down the avenue and turned right this time at the intersection, towards the market square. Stalls and caravans stretched as far as my eyes could see, and I quietly wondered what kind of goods they were selling. Trinkets from the West, or exotics from the Islamic lands? I looked behind me for an instant and saw the unmistakable silhouette of John following me from a distance. Initially I had felt annoyed at someone snooping around behind me every minute of the day, but that feeling had given way partially to one of safety and security. Is this what my father feels like, being surrounded by all his bodyguards all the time?

    A figure darted towards me out of the blue and in the blink of an eye, snatched away the coin purse on my belt before shoving me towards the floor. I get up almost immediately, slightly dazed but with my blood pumping. The audacity of that bastard! I started to give chase, but John clapped me on the shoulder. “Let him go, it’s not worth it.” But I was seething with anger and ignored him, so I shoved his arm away and sprinted after the thief. “Damn it!” I heard John curse, then after a short lull, I heard the pounding of his footsteps behind me. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Lorenzo watching me from what I presumed was his mother’s stall. I had no time to say hello though, and continued pursuing the thief. Training has made me a fast runner, but the thief was faster and lighter on his feet. I had difficulty catching up to him, but I was able to stay on his tail. The thief shifted direction and headed towards a residential section of Jerusalem, with myself hot on his heels. I kept him in sight well enough, though I could start feeling my legs getting heavier.

    After about a minute or two of chasing the bugger past houses and other shops, the thief bolted into a small house and slammed the door behind him. I pounded my fist on the door in rage but to no avail. “Step aside.” John panted. He took a few breaths then raised his right leg and kicked down the door.

    I step in and am confronted by an unexpected scene. An adult woman whom I presume is the thief’s mother is holding him firmly behind her back, but her eyes were wide with consternation. “Please don’t hurt my son!” She yelled, confirming my assumption regarding their relationship. “Your son is a thief, madam.” John barked. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t turn him over to the guards right now.” Upon further inspection of the mother and the thief, his eyes narrowed into slits. “Of course you had to be Muslims. And you people wonder why Christians hate your lot.”

    The mother stammered and stuttered, but before she could compose herself her son replies meekly, “It’s for my sister, sir. She’s very sick and we can’t afford the medicine she needs.” John exhaled and sheathed his dagger. “Alright then. Give us back the pouch and we’ll be on our way.” The mother nodded and reached for the pouch but the thief held it even tighter towards his chest. “No, we can’t! She’ll die if we don’t get her help soon. I just need a few more florins!” John glowered at him, frustrated, and moved in to wrest the pouch back by force.

    “John, stop.” The words came out of my mouth before I could stop myself. John paused and looked back at me with incredulity. “You can’t be serious. There are hundreds of families like them living here. You want to give them all free florins now?” It was my turn to be astounded. “Hundreds? You mean to tell me there are hundreds of families living like them, too poor to buy medicine?”

    “And food, sir.” The thief piped up, and is immediately shushed by his mother. John rolled his eyes and glared at me. “Look, there could be thousands of families living in poverty like this, elsewhere in the city. We can’t help them all.” After hearing that statement, I met his glare with a ferocity that surprised even myself.

    “Show me.”

    John was nonplussed, but recovered quickly. “This is ridiculous, my pr-Jean.” He flicked his eyes at the mother and her child. “We should just take back what is ours and leave.” I was adamant, however, and repeated my demand. “Or should I find Foucaud?” I threatened. John looked at me as though his veins were about to burst, but after a few seconds he uttered a curse or two and stalked out the door. “This way.”

    I looked back at the thief, and tell him to keep the pouch. “You have more need of it than I.” I declared. Both mother and child thanked me profusely, and the latter asked, “Who are you, sir?” I hesitated for a moment, then flashed him a small smile. “A friend, if you’ll have me.” John stuck his head back inside, annoyed. “Well? Are you coming or not?” I scowled at him and followed him out.

    “Sorry about the door!” I hollered on my way out.

    From the Perspective of ???, The City of Jerusalem, 1232 AD.

    At last the waiting was over. I stared coldly at my target, feeling the familiar rush of adrenaline start to build up.




    “Are you sure that’s him?” I pointed directly at the young boy exiting the house. “Him. Right there. Are you absolutely sure that’s the prince?” The man I was holding by the shoulder squinted, then nodded.

    I tilted his face so that I was looking right at him. “Stefano, is it?”The man I was grabbing nodded vigorously. “If you breathe a word of this to anyone, you’re dead. We know where your family lives. Understand?” The man trembled and nodded silently. “Amir.” I gesture to the man I was holding. “Walk him out of here and give him the payment we promised him.” Amir inclined his head and escorted the man away from the area. I stifled a snort of derision as I watched the man depart, still daring to ask Amir about his reward. “May Allah have mercy on his soul.” I whispered. Then I looked to the five other men with me, and curtly gave the order to fan out.

    “We strike when the Sun is low.”

    From the Perspective of Lord Jean, First Prince of the Kingdom ofJerusalem, The City of Jerusalem, 1232 AD.

    With each small hovel the inhabitants call a house that I walk past, my bewilderment and displeasure grew. The amount of poverty alone was shocking,not to mention the appalling state of the hygiene and living standards the citizens were experiencing. Some of the families didn’t even have a shack to call home. “What is my father doing about this?” I asked John indignantly. He shrugged and responded: “The heck if I know. I’m just a paid hireling. But you can’t help everyone.”

    What in God’s name is happening here? Father is supposed to be taking care of this! I nudge John. “I can’t stand seeing much more of this. Let’s go back to the tavern.” John snorted. “To the compound, you mean. It’s going to be sundown soon, and we’ve been away from the compound for too long.” As much as I wanted to meet my friend at the tavern, my legs were killing me and I agreed to head back to the compound. I stopped by the thief’s house on the way back, and promised to meet him soon.

    A few hundred metres from the intersection in front of the compound, John lightly touched my arm. “Don’t look behind now, but I think there’s someone following us. Act normal.” I instinctively started to look around, but John poked me hard in the ribs and I stopped turning my head. My breath caught in my throat and I walked a little faster. After a few more paces, John nudged my arm and steered me in the direction of the tavern. “Let’s take a detour, see if they follow us.” I followed like a sheep being herded, and walked beside John in anxious silence. The hundred or so metres to tavern at the intersection felt like forever, and a wave of relief washed over me when we reached the tavern without incident. John stayed outside for awhile, looking for the person who had been following us.



    I instantly started looking for my friend, but he wasn’t here. In fact,the tavern was quite empty, save for a few sleeping – no, drunk patrons lying on the tables. John closed and bolted the door behind us, and told me that he saw a few robed men moving towards the tavern. I swore beneath my breath as I watched him look for another exit, then go to find the owner when he failed to find one. Maybe it was the paranoia that someone was stalking me, but something felt really off. I don’t think the tavern is supposed to be this quiet at this hour of the day.

    John looked around and cursed for the umpteenth time. “The owner’s not around.Not even a single waitperson.” Sweat rolled down his forehead. Just then, he cursed once again and pointed towards the door. I notice that the small sliver of light beneath the tavern door had become obstructed by a moving shadow. John moved over to wake the nearest drunkard up, but when he tapped the patron’s shoulder he slumped to the right and fell off the chair…with a knife in his belly.

    “Blast it!” John shouted. He quickly ran over to another patron, and rolled the person over, with the same results. “They’re all dead! What…” He dashed back towards me, dismay in his eyes. “Got any bright ideas?” He asked. I shook my head and he grunted. “Should’ve guessed.” Just then, we both heard a knock on the door. Then another. And another, followed by several in quick succession. John brandished two daggers and told me to hide behind the serving counter. I obeyed and scampered over. I saw John back away slowly from the door, a dagger in each hand and gritting his teeth. I scurried to take up a position behind the counter and almost slipped on a carpet. I muttered my second curse of the day, Lord forgive me, and flung the carpet away in frustration.

    I couldn’t believe my eyes. A trapdoor! “John!” I hissed. He looked over at me, just as the knocking on the door turned into rapid pounding. He shuffled over and clapped me on the back. “Well done, this must lead to the cellar. Hold these, and don’t drop them.” John passed me his daggers and fished out a lock pick from one of his pockets. A few seconds later I heard a click and the lock popped open. “Tricks of the trade.” John allowed himself a slight grin. “Come on, get in here, quick.” He lifted the trapdoor up and I quickly shimmied over and jumped down, after handing his daggers back to him.

    I landed on my feet but it was a steep drop. Pain shot up my legs and I nearly fell flat on my face from the agony. “Damn it, you should have just used the ladder!” John rasped from above. He clambered down on the ladder that I didn’t see in my impulsiveness, and paused four rungs down to close the trapdoor.“Thank God for small miracles.” John uttered as he latched the trapdoor from below. He looked at me with his fingers on his lips and motioned for me to back away from the trapdoor. I spared the cellar a brief once over. Apart from a few barrels of what I assumed to be wine or some other form of drink, the cellar was empty. Barely a few seconds later, the unmistakable sound of splintering of wood is preceded by a loud bang. Multiple footsteps could be heard, as well as several angry voices. John listened in for a while, and although I could barely make him out in the darkness of the cellar, I could tell that his face had contorted into one of irritation and he was shaking his head. Loud crashes continued to reverberate from the tavern, and the angry voices increased in both quantity and heatedness.

    Then a loud bang emanated from the other side of the trapdoor. They must’ve found the entrance! I chided myself for not pulling the carpet over the trapdoor. The trapdoor started to make weird noises, as if someone was trying to pull it open by sheer force alone. Although I knew that the chance of the trapdoor being forced opened was very low, I still could not help but worry that somehow our assailants would break through. The next few minutes went by slowly. The cacophony of pounding, the groaning of the trapdoor bolt, and the shouting in some language that I couldn’t understand threatened to overwhelm me, and at one point I could swear that I was paralyzed by dread.

    Then the pounding stopped.

    A few murmurs were heard but nothing more. The footsteps above receded and then vanished altogether. The assailants seemed to have disappeared as suddenly as they had come upon us. John motioned for me to stay put, and I did so, not entirely convinced that our enemies had just given up. After a few minutes, I took a step towards the ladder, but John touched my arm and whispered: “No. They might be waiting for us to open the trapdoor. Wait.” And so we wait in complete silence and darkness for at least twenty minutes, before John decided to check it out. He gingerly approached the ladder and took it rung by rung, ever so slowly, careful not to make any unnecessary noises. I ambled over to the bottom of the ladder, ready to grab on as soon as John gave the all clear. I held my breath as John reached for the latch…

    Only for him to cry out in pain and jerk his hand back, almost losing balance in the process. “What the? It’s piping hot!” He hissed in agony. He jumped down the ladder, used his dagger to cut out a portion of his robe, then wrapped it around his right hand and ascended the ladder again. With the cloth covering his hand, John gingerly slid the latch towards him, opening the trapdoor. He then quickly lifted it up, and that was when the heatwave hit me.

    John closed the trapdoor almost as quickly as he had opened it, then turned tome, fright clearly visible in his eyes. “Come on, we have to go now! The bastards have set the place on fire! COME ON!” I had no need for further urging– already I could feel the smoke constricting my windpipe. I hurriedly clambered up the ladder, and to my horror, all I could see was smoke and the reddish glow of fire! I could not make out the exit, and it seemed, neither could John. We both stand flat footed for a few seconds, trying to find a way out. Then, we both hear screaming and people shouting alarums. “Head towards the voices!”John roared, trying to make himself heard above the crackling of the flames.“Follow me!” He dashes ahead of me and seemingly disappeared into the smoke. I gave chase, and the smoke stung my eyes and filled my lungs with dust. I started coughing profusely and flailed about in the smoke, though I dared not turn my head lest I lose my sense of direction. I felt my arm slam into what was most probably a beam or table, and although the discomfort and soreness slowed me down for a bit, the smoke and heat spurred me onwards.

    “Jean, over here!” I heard John’s voice ring out just towards my right. “Follow my voice!” I took a few steps in the direction of his voice and, all praise to the Lord, I stumbled out of the tavern from the main entrance into the waiting arms of John. For a brief, terrifying moment I realised that I had failed to consider the possibility that our assailants were simply waiting for us outside to finish us off, but a quick look around dispelled that notion. John didn't allow me to catch my breath though, and immediately dragged me towards the royal compound. I broke free of his grasp and looked up, about to tell him that I was exhausted and needed a few moments, but the first thing I laid my eyes on was the royal compound a few hundred metres ahead.

    It was ablaze.

    Last edited by Swaeft; July 25, 2018 at 05:19 AM. Reason: Darkan's eyes are too sharp, goddamn disappearing spaces

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  10. #10
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Great chapters! I enjoyed Lord Jean's encounters with Lorenzo and Foucaud and I'm enjoying the hints about Lord Jean's character which can be seen through his experiences here, such as his response to the thief. I'm intrigued by the mysterious figure from whose perspective we see the middle part of the latest chapter. The events of the latest chapter make me want to read on, to see what will happen next.

  11. #11
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Intrigue, mystery and tension. Those are the keywords to your last chapter and I loved it! Like Alwyn I just want to read on and see what happens next.

    Two great chapters!

  12. #12

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Great chapters! I enjoyed Lord Jean's encounters with Lorenzo and Foucaud and I'm enjoying the hints about Lord Jean's character which can be seen through his experiences here, such as his response to the thief. I'm intrigued by the mysterious figure from whose perspective we see the middle part of the latest chapter. The events of the latest chapter make me want to read on, to see what will happen next.
    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    Intrigue, mystery and tension. Those are the keywords to your last chapter and I loved it! Like Alwyn I just want to read on and see what happens next.

    Two great chapters!
    Thanks very much guys, the general idea is to keep up the intrigue and suspense for now. I have to ask for forgiveness for holding back on the battle aspect of the aar for now but I really want to flesh out the characters first. Many thanks for your continued interest!

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  13. #13
    Darkan's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    I'm caught up now. Great story, I love your storytelling and descriptions. It's interesting to see how the prince reacts to this new part of his life and the knowledge it brings, as well as his future relationship with Lorenzo and the Muslim boy.
    In Chapter 3, par.3, line 4, you forgot to change "insert character name here" with "Lorenzo".

    Keep up the good work and we'll keep on reading! +rep
    Last edited by Darkan; July 05, 2018 at 05:15 PM. Reason: spelling mistake
    [DLV 6.2 AAR] - The Danish House of Hen - updated 20/08/18 - on hold
    [King of Dragon Pass AAR] - The Drakkar Saga - updated 14/04/18 - on hold
    Participate in the TotW!!! PARTICIPATE!!!
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  14. #14

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkan View Post
    I'm caught up now. Great story, I love your storytelling and descriptions. It's interesting to see how the prince reacts to this new part of his life and the knowledge it brings, as well as his future relationship with Lorenzo and the Muslim boy.
    In Chapter 3, par.3, line 4, you forgot to change "insert character name here" with "Lorenzo".

    Keep up the good work and we'll keep on reading! +rep
    Great, now I have to execute my editor, and the rest of my staff who proofread that without letting me know. I'll also have to sue Bill Gates as his ctrl F function has failed me...for the last time.

    Jokes aside though, thanks for reading, and pointing out what a grievous error I have made here. I shall endeavor to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

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  15. #15
    Darkan's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    Great, now I have to execute my editor, and the rest of my staff who proofread that without letting me know.
    Indeed, and a well deserved fate, as reliable slaves workers are hard to come by these days.
    [DLV 6.2 AAR] - The Danish House of Hen - updated 20/08/18 - on hold
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    Participate in the TotW!!! PARTICIPATE!!!
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  16. #16

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    CHAPTER FOUR

    From the Perspective of Lord Jean, First Prince of Jerusalem, The City of Jerusalem, 1232 AD.


    By the time John and I got back to the royal compound, there were already tens of city watchmen and guardsmen running about in groups, most with buckets of water. John ignored the commotion before us and headed straight for the gatehouse with me in tow. It took me a moment before I realised that someone had beckoned him over, and that the someone was Foucaud.

    When John and I had climbed the last of the stairs to the top of the gatehouse,Foucaud stared at us in exasperation. “Where the hell have you been?” He lashed out at John. John, his face black with soot, simply pointed at the burning tavern in the distance. Foucaud’s expression changed from one of annoyance to one of disbelief. He then folded his arms and stared at John. Without further prompting, John started relaying our story to him, mostly glossing over the visit to the sick and the poor. Foucaud listened intently, his gaze lingering over me every now and then, but never longer than a few seconds at a time. I stared soundlessly at the commotion beneath us, watching soldiers and watchmen run from somewhere out of sight with buckets of water, to somewhere else in the compound, and then back again with empty buckets. I wondered which part of the compound had caught fire, and then with a startling realisation I wondered if it was an accident or something more sinister. “What did you say?” Foucaud’s query jolted me out of my own thoughts and back to reality.

    “I said they were speaking Arabic. I had a quick look at one of them on the way to the tavern. He definitely looked like a Muslim. Dressed like one, at least.”

    “How many of them were there?”

    “I don’t know, I only saw one, but while we were hiding in the cellar it sounded like there were four or five of them.”

    Foucaud frowned. “Submit a report to me later, in writing.” He paused, then:“Get a good rest. You’ve been through a lot. I’ll take it from here.” John glanced at me, then back at Foucaud, then nodded. As John departed down the stairs, Foucaud placed an arm around me. “Lord Jean, your father has been the target of an assassination attempt.” I was stunned by this news, but before I could speak, he continued: “But he is alright. The assassin never got close enough to do any real harm, although he did cause a fire during his escape to cover his tracks. Your father is waiting to see you in the throne room. I shall accompany you there.”

    Foucaud escorted me to the throne room, and we brushed past more than a dozen soldiers on the way there. Upon our arrival, we found the double doors guarded by more than twenty men, but once the guard captain saw our faces he immediately gave the command to let us through. Once the doors were opened, I instantly spotted my father, my mother and my sister all seated at the high table. A wave of relief washed over me,

    I did not have to walk the length of the throne room to see that my father was not just worried, but mad as well. Upon laying his eyes on me, my father stopped his pacing and bellowed: “Foucaud! Once again you have done what my guards could not. Only in your thirties and already the finest spy in the realm. Where did you find the little devil?” Some of the clerics inside the throne room winced at my father’s choice of words but said nothing of it.

    “He was watching the town from the gatehouse, my king. That was why he was not in his bedchambers.” The lie took me by surprise, but I was not stupid enough to contradict Foucaud’s reply openly. “There was a fire in the city. The tavern, I think. Might have been one drunkard too many in there.”

    My father let out a loud guffaw. “Ah, the wonders of alcohol.” He remarked.“Thank you, Foucaud. That is all. Return to your duties. I am sure your men have much need of you at this time.” Foucaud bowed and gracefully exited the throne room. My father approached and embraced me. “Come, my son. I am glad to see that you are safe.” I hugged him back, and savoured one of the few moments I felt that I truly had a father who cares. Then, he broke the embrace and led me to a side room, gesturing for the rest of my family to follow.

    “I know you weren’t on the parapets watching the city. Foucaud reports directly to me. Did you think that I wasn’t keeping an eye on you?” My father slapped me lightly but firmly on the back of my head. “Why do you keep doing this to me? Don’t you know how important you are? Why can’t you just focus on learning how to be a Prince?” Disgruntled, I opened my mouth to retort. “Father, I hate the training! I want to be like other children. Why can’t I?” He simply ignored me and continued leading me to the side room. Typical…once we’re out of sight of the nobility he becomes harsh again. I turned my head around and made eye contact with mother, silently pleading with her to do something. She gazed at me with doleful eyes and I knew that she was asking me to bear with it, again.

    We reached the entrance to the room and my father threw open the doors. I saw that there were people already waiting for us inside, about twenty-five of them. I do not recognise most of the men, but they all look like hardened warriors and I noticed right away that they were mostly wearing full body armour.



    “I am not unreasonable.” Father addressed me. “I know that you have been training tirelessly and to the best of your ability.” I repressed an overpowering urge to scream. What a two faced – no. Mother always tells me not to swear. “These men will accompany you wherever you go, for they are now sworn to you. I present to you the members of your personal bodyguard.” The King finished with a flourish and a wave of his hand. I was momentarily dumbfounded. My…own command?

    My father pointed at four out of the twenty five. “The four of you will follow Princess Yolande. Keep her safe and ensure that she is able to do her duties undisturbed and unbothered.” The men he had indicated saluted and went to introduce themselves to my sister. “Father, is this really nec-” She begins,but one uncompromising look from our father and she shut her mouth. “Come now dear, this is a good thing.” My mother, Marie, suggested. “You’re going to need protection once you leave these walls.” Yolande, ever the fast learner, hugged my mother and replied, “If you so desire, I shall not complain.”

    “What, no gratitude for me?” My father berated us with displeasure. “Children.”He sighed. “Jean, you are not permitted to leave this compound without the full complement of your bodyguards. As for today and tomorrow, you are not allowed to leave the compound at all until the watch commander assures me that it is safe to do so. Am I understood?”

    I know better than to argue by now and simply reply, “Yes, father.” His lips almost curled into a smile before he even spoke: “Good. Now I have urgent business to attend to. When I find out who tried to have me assassinated, I’ll bring down the wrath of heaven upon him. Good seeing you all.” He did not even stop to hug us before striding out of the door. How he obtained his epithet ‘The Honourable’ would be one of life’s greatest mysteries.

    From the Perspective of High Lord Jean The Honourable, King of Jerusalem,The City of Jerusalem, 1232 AD.

    I hurried towards the war room. Time was of the essence now. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Foucaud approaching. Didn’t I dismiss him? I slowed my pace as he neared, but I did not stop, and neither did he. “My King, I bring you urgent news.” I rolled my eyes. “Is it ever not? Out with it.” Foucaud did not blink – he had gotten used to my behaviour. “Sire, remember when I told you that your son had ventured into the city again? I sent one of my own men to look after him, and they were ambushed and nearly killed in the tavern just outside the compound.”

    I stopped moving and gave him a blood curdling stare. “What? Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?” Foucaud stiffened and replied: “It wasn’t convenient to do so in the throne room just now in front of everybody, and I didn’t want to tell you in front of your wife and daughter.” I grit my teeth and know that he was just being subtle, which was what I had hired him to be. “Who was behind it?” I rasp.

    “I’m not sure, my King, but the man I sent to look after him tells me that there were a few of them, and they were all wearing Muslim clothing and spoke Arabic.”

    I took a deep breath and resumed walking. “You know what this means, don’t you, Foucaud?” My spymaster nodded. “It would appear that someone wants your son dead as much as they want you dead. There are two obvious culprits, my King. Both are the realm’s mortal enemies.”

    We reached the heavy doors of the war room, with two sentinels stationed outside. I turned to Foucaud. “Investigate both assassination attempts thoroughly. I want proof that one of the two Sultanates are behind this.Preferably the Ayyubids. Those bastards will pay for their treachery.” I waved Foucaud away and enter the war room.

    The men inside are seated, but all of them rise when I enter. The powerful Ibelin family, comprising of Jean d’Ibelin, Prince of Acre, and Philip d’Ibelin, Duke of Nicosia and Grandmaster of the Knights Templar, are here, as well as the council of nobles and Tigel de Linus, Master At Arms and the commander of the garrison. I noted the absence of the Constable, who had never seen eye to eye with me, and cursed him for not attending this important war council. Foucaud’s second in command, Gaston de Rocafolio, was present as well.







    “Please sit.” I said, whilst pulling out the nearest chair and plopped myself down on it. Everyone but the Ibelins sat. “Something the matter,friends?” I inquired. It is only then I noticed that both Jean and Philip had looks of anguish and sadness etched on their faces. Jean’s hand was curled into a fist, and he shook with irascibility as he bellowed. “My son is dead!” The entire room falls silent. “My only son! Murdered by the Saracens! Balian was sixteen!” I was taken aback, and softened my facial expression as best as I knew how to. This was news to me.

    “I’m truly sorry for your loss, Jean. How did this tragedy happen?”

    Jean stared at the table, fury written all over his face. After a few seconds of silence, Philip spoke up, his tone not as unnerved as his brother’s, but he was clearly on edge as well. “Three months ago I left Nicosia with my nine-year-old son, whom I had named Jean in your honor, to attend young Balian’s coming of age ceremony. Whilst watching a tournament, two members of the crowd leapt up and brandished concealed knives.” Philip lowered his voice. “Our bodyguards immediately raised their shields in front of my brother and I…but we were not the targets.” Philip was interrupted by Jean, who had slammed his fist on the oaken table. “We caught them.” Jean spoke, with a single tear running down his left cheek. “They immediately confessed, telling us that their Sultan had sent them and begged for mercy, but what mercy can there be but the edge of a sword for someone who kills children?”

    The entire war council said nothing, their eyes riveted on Jean, Philip or myself. “Philip’s son was only nine. NINE!” Jean roared. “If he wasn’t there to restrain me himself I would have tortured the two assassins until they wouldn’t know their stomach from their spleen!” His outburst over, Jean slumped back into his chair, sobbing softly. “If we none of us can produce another male child, our lineage ends with us.”

    I glanced at Philip, who has been watching me with quiet determination. “My King, I have mustered what few Templars I have under my command in Acre and marched them here. They are currently in the Jerusalem Temple.”

    “This cannot go unpunished.” Tigel de Linus declared. “My King, give me leave to muster the garrison. We can march within two days, on your order.”

    I looked around. Everyone seemed to thirst for war and vengeance, especially the Ibelins. But the council of nobles was oddly silent. “Which Sultan ordered the assassination?” I asked. The answer was instantaneous and filled with utter hate. “The Ayyubid Sultan.” Philip d'Ibelin rasped. A note was found on one of the assassins in Arabic, and it bore the seal of the Duke of Cairo. There and then I informed the war council of their own attempt at assassinating me and my son. "It would seem that the Ayyubids thought to kill off our entire royal house in one fell swoop." A noble observed. The entire room boiled without rage. I closed my eyes, not daring to look at the war council lest I give away even the slightest hint of satisfaction.

    “My friends, lords.” I declared. “Spy.” I inclined my head towards Gaston, and he reciprocated. “I was planning to tell you this a few months ago, but I didn’t due to the need for utmost secrecy. The Ayyubids cannot get wind of what I was planning. Six months ago I sent word to Pope Honorius, pleading with him to let us go on a crusade and recover the rest of the Holy Land. Two days ago,I received his reply.” I brandish a letter from my vestments. “The Pope has agreed with me that Gaza is a worthy target, and has sent us some florins to speed up our raising of an army, as well as the cementation of an alliance I had simultaneously proposed.” At this moment, I stood, and noticed a spark in Philip and Jean’s eyes.





    “This conflict will be long and hard, and cannot be won by a few knights and soldiers alone. We will need the common folk to rally behind us, to support us and bolster our numbers. The crusade was started three months ago, and as per my request Pope Honorius has agreed not to spread word of it towards the East, except for this letter. Many nations have already pledged their armies to this cause, and will be travelling to aid us with righteous fervour.”



    Jean stood up. “YES!” He bellowed. “We shall stop at nothing, until the last remnants of the Ayyubids are destroyed, eradicated, and erased from the face of this good Earth!"

    Philip stood up as well. “When do we begin, my King?”

    I motioned for both of them to sit, then continued. “My lords, I must ask for your patience and understanding. We cannot join the crusade immediately, for we are lacking in both florins and soldiers. I have already ordered the training and equipping of various companies of soldiers, but this, along with provisioning and paying them, require money. Money that we currently do not have…as of yet.” I started walking around the room, making eye contact with each person in the war council to make them feel valued. “Upon my receipt of the letter from the Pope, I sent Colin to make alliances with the European nations, as well as sell whatever information we have of the Holy Land that has not reached the eyes and ears of our Christian Brethren. He has written to me, stating that no small amount of florins is on its way back to Jerusalem from Rome aboard his diplomatic ship. When the florins arrive, then we can begin our campaign in earnest.” I observed some signs of displeasure from Jean, but his brother Philip nodded in understanding. I always thought he was the more sensible of the two. No wonder one is a Grandmaster and the other is not.

    “Until then, I must ask you to help me acquire the huge sums of money we need for an extended campaign. Consider this an order. Destroy any non-essential buildings in your cities and holdfasts. Taverns, brothels, siege works, and the like. Bring all your men here, to Jerusalem, save for a light garrison force to maintain order.”

    This time it was Philip who protested. “But my King, that would leave Tortosa and Acre vulnerable to attack. We can’t afford to lose those strongholds.” I finally allowed myself to crack a smile. “We are currently at peace with the Seljuks. They will not bother us, for the time being at least. Put your faith in me. Have I not kept this Kingdom alive? Trust me, friends, and nobles. I will put your soldiers to good use. And should the worst happen and we lose a few of our settlements, wouldn’t you feel better knowing that you have captured a few of theirs as well, instead of sitting idly in your castles?”

    At this, the Ibelin brothers seem to come round, as did the council of nobles, who gave me a smattering of applause. Jean stared straight at me. “Let us prepare for battle then, my King. I will have no less.”

    I met his stare authoritatively, but with the kindness of a nephew in law.

    “Yes. Let us prepare for war.”
    Last edited by Swaeft; July 25, 2018 at 05:14 AM. Reason: I didn't forget to add in the chapter number...no...

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  17. #17
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    I enjoyed this, including the well-executed details, such as Foucaud's response to the King's question about where the prince was found and the prince's bafflement about how his father came to be called 'The Honourable'. It sounds like the King's strategy involves taking a risk with the safety of Tortosa and Acre, but that's it's a relatively small risk, at least for me.

  18. #18

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I enjoyed this, including the well-executed details, such as Foucaud's response to the King's question about where the prince was found and the prince's bafflement about how his father came to be called 'The Honourable'. It sounds like the King's strategy involves taking a risk with the safety of Tortosa and Acre, but that's it's a relatively small risk, at least for me.
    Thanks, I've actually played a few turns ahead in the campaign, and the King has been in Jerusalem with taxes always on low, so I suppose that's how he received the trait. Perhaps I should start including snapshots of the kingdom before this becomes more of a story than an AAR. We shall just have to see whether the rewards are worth the risk, and if the risk turns out to be a mistake

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  19. #19
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Snakes and shadows! Assassins allegedly from the Ayyubids, you never know if it's true or if it's a fabricated lie to unleash a war. A bold strategy, but much must be risked at war (yeah it's a Denethor quote ).

    Undoubtedly a great chapter which deserves some rep!

  20. #20

    Default Re: [SS 6.4] God's Justice (Crusader States AAR, with BGR IV and more!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    Snakes and shadows! Assassins allegedly from the Ayyubids, you never know if it's true or if it's a fabricated lie to unleash a war. A bold strategy, but much must be risked at war (yeah it's a Denethor quote ).

    Undoubtedly a great chapter which deserves some rep!
    Aha, therein lies the rub. How to tell what is true and what is false? Good point, I'll be sure to expand on that in time to come. Truly, I did not know that was a Denethor quote lol.

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