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Thread: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

  1. #21
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Another very good one! The pacing here is super well done, with lots of intensity and a sort of manic drive running through everything. All of that is so fitting for the events unfolding in this update, and I'm loving it! I also found a good dose of comedy (of the absurd) in Raffael's musing about "stupid mercenaries" being incapable of doing anything right, even while he is standing helpless outside the gate because he forgot ladders. That is good comedy, and reveals an interesting flaw in Raffael's character. All in all, a great installment, as I would have expected from you!

    Quote Originally Posted by theSilentKiller View Post
    Thank you for your constructive criticism and honest comment! Admittedly, I'm too dependent on what my word processor finds but I'll be more careful during re-reads to catch spelling mistakes (or rather, re-read sometimes solely for this rather than thinking about what is being written). To be honest, it's a bit frustrating how awkward writing had become for me (as in, I've been producing awkward writing) - not only have I written much but also haven't read much in English the past few years and I find myself more often that I used to (at least it feels like that) translating some expressions from my native lang. here and there in my head than actually *write in English* Though I have hopes that might improve with more writing
    Given these points, I think you should just keep pressing on for now then, and not worry too much about the editing. If English is not your native language, then you are bound to need a bit to "get back in the swing", as it were. I mean, English is my native language, and I still need some time to get back into writing when I haven't done it for a while, or when I'm not reading as much as I should be. So my suggestion would just be to try to read a bit more (in English), to keep the sounds and shapes of the language a little more fresh in your ears, and just keep up the momentum with writing. Each day will get easier and feel more natural, and in no time you'll find yourself coming up with every idea in English first. And to reiterate, this is excellent stuff as is, so don't beat yourself up about any mistake you might be making here or there. Just keep the good tales rolling!
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  2. #22
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    I agree, the absurdity of the situation provides a nice contrast for the brutal reality of battle. The image is well-chosen, I like the way that the murder stroke was incorporated into your story.

  3. #23

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Thank you both for your comments! As Mark Twain wrote "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand" - perfect for a siege! Though I fear Raffael doesn't find the situations he gets into quite as amusing as the rest of the company...

  4. #24

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)


    Chapter 5: A new day, a new disappointment



    The night passed as every night eventually does - an ancient rule that is indifferent even to a massacre inside the walls of a monastery. Leaving without any further afterthoughts the Band of the Black Boar moved west towards Parma hoping that the siege was still underway to give them a chance to be the first to charge in and take the city for the Margrave - or so Raffael hoped. But much to their disappointment - or rather the captain's as his men didn't seem particularly touched - the city had fallen only a few hours before they arrived. While they passed through the encirclement which was held by the trustworthy followers of every mercenary army, namely craftsmen and women of dubious professions, the company could already hear the uproar inside the city. All though any violence against the citizens had officially been forbidden by the Margrave himself who commanded the army the mercenaries where quite happy to abuse their leader's tendency to turn a blind eye on any misconduct of his army. However blind this eye might have been the men knew that they shouldn't stretch their lord's open-minded-ness too far. And so, as a result some kind of self-imposed restraint no raging companies haunted the streets that day and the people of the city were 'granted to option' to a small tribute to the brave and gallant liberators, an offer they were quite happy to accept - though the words 'somewhat willing, but also sort of reluctantly' probably was closer to reality.

    Raffael knew how little his men had liked the storming of the monastery, a siege that barely had brought any good loot and had cost the mercenaries 16 of their trusted comrades. He deemed 'letting them off the leash and do some good old fashioned pillaging' as Jacib suggested a somewhat sensible decision - some in the company said it was the first sensible decision of the captain - however they were soon disappointed to find out that they could not actually partake in such a 'good old fashioned pillaging'. The captain accompanied by his squire and some of his more elite men he knew from before he gained leadership over the company went for the keep on the east side of the river where the banners of the Margraviate of Mantua over the gate were being diligently watched by the various banners of mercenary companies which hung from the windows of the small stone building.

    Margrave Francesco merely nodded absently on his report of the decisive victory against the subversive renegades and liberation of the population from the 'mercenary blight that had infested the monastery', though he had left out that they took the little they could from this holy site in the assumption that his employer could not be bothered with pesky details like 'desecration' and 'heresy'. Of much more interest to Francesco were the recent reports of new trading rights with the Swabians and Florentines, and, arguably more importantly but to the Margrave at that time merely an addendum, the creation of the League of Venice. A certain French incursion into Italy had sent a shock wave through the peninsula and led to an alliance of the various states against the most powerful kingdom in western Europe. The question of Mantuan allegiance to the Italian cause would undoubtedly soon be open for discussion...
    If anyone had paid any attention to the captain of the Band of the Black Boar standing in the corner of the room in which all the leaders had met to discuss further action they surely would have frozen for a moment on the sight of what they saw no matter how hard-boiled they might have been. The corners of his thin lips were twisted upwards in a sinister smile as of he wore a poorly made painting of the devil made to scare unruly children as a mask. He felt that a chance to surpass the others would eventually come.
    ***
    The army under Margrave Francesco stayed in Parma for three days until the order to march for Mirandola came. Situated east of the Mantova-Modena axis the small town that had sprung up around the Castello Dei Pico as it had grown to be an important resting point on the trading route that went from the north-east of Italy to Florence. While the route itself was only a minor one that could not compete with the larger ones that directly went through the major trading hubs of the peninsular it still was considered a lifeline for the small Margravate of Mantua, especially now with newly established trading pacts and any disruption could have detrimental effects on any possible war efforts - or the Margrave argued to his noble men and distinguished citizens to gain their support. The greed of Mirandola's Lord Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola had made him claim independence from Mantua and he intended to defend this newly found independence with the lives of his men and citizens against any punitive forces sent against him. However important the city might have been to the margraviate the men of the Band of the Black Boar cared little for why they were now marching east but rather were interested in the generous payment that surely would be disbursed to the gallant warriors fighting under for the Margrave's cause - or in Raffael's case a chance to prove his worth as captain to his peers.
    The army reached the town after four day. Mirandola was small, encircling it was easy but this also meant that defending every wall and tower was much easier even with only a few men.

    ***

    Raffael looked at the city from the small hill he stood on. Only 200 paces of former farm land and newly dug ditches separated him from the lime stone plastered walls. Next to him was a chapel that had been 'repurposed' as a defensive position for medium-sized cannons - though a holy man might have used the word 'desecrated'. The mercenaries had bust two large holes into the walls of the chapel behind which the cannons were placed. Several smaller holes were used for observing the town, aiming and simply for letting in more light into the building as the men went about their day. A half-circle of pikes and larger wooden spikes rammed into the earth protected the building from any possible enemy charge and steps that had been dug into the earth led into the saps that grew like tentacles reaching for a jewel towards the city. This would normally have been considered excessive for most towns of the size of Mirandola but the Margrave intended to retake his lost trading node as fast as possible, not only to secure the route for the merchants but also to discourage any possible dissidents from following Camillio's example.
    One of the metal beasts inside the chapel roared. A metal ball was pushed out of its mouth which moments later crashed into a wooden watchtower that overlooked the approaching saps. The watchtower groaned under the pain as one of its legs got obliterated but withstood the shock and continued its duty to the city. Leaving the chapel Shoddy Hobb approached Raffael.

    "Talked with the guys form the cannon-companies... don't know what to call them, to be honest, cap't'n. Anyway, don't think we can get much done with only two cannons, said there were not made for sieges and the walls are thick."
    Hobb blinked with his dead-fish-eyes at the captain.
    "I already told Jacib and the others that the Margrave has some people that are loyal to him inside the town. The plan is that they're going to open up the gates for us tomorrow morning before the sun goes up so that we can charge in. Not the most honorable methodology I'd say but as far as I'm concerned considerably more preferable than sitting here doing nothing."
    "So ... what are we gunners going to do? Take the walls once we're inside and shoot whatever we can?"
    "First, you'll continue putting pressure on the defenders on the walls. Your gunners are not going to play a central role in this assault, however", Raffael raised his finger like an unpopular teacher preaching one of his nuggets of wisdom that none of his students care about, "you will enter the city after us to secure our back. Moreover, if the necessity arises support us with suppressive gun fire. Understood?"
    "Whatever his majesty orders."

    ***

    The next morning while it was still dark enough to not distinguish the faces of men standing right on front of oneself hundreds of mercenaries swarmed the saps that had now almost reached the walls. Only about 50 steps of a grown adult stood between the tip of the farthest reaching sap and gate but everyone knew that these 50 steps would be the most crucial to their success. Given the name "Forlorn Hope" and three times the pay the men inside the saps were the first to enter the town to secure save entry for the rest and possibly push right through to the keep. Among these were 50 men of the Band of The Black Boar led by Raffael. The captain had volunteered to be the closest to the main gate and secure the main street inside the town for the Margrave. Normally captains had to draw lots for this undertaking. While there were many mercenaries willing to be on the first line for double the pay their captains and officers usually were not so keen on loosing experienced men.
    Crouching inside the trench the captain looked at the two rows of men kneeling behind him, the 13 year old Orfeo at the tip of the line to the right behind Raffael trying his best not to defile the banner which was wrapped around a pole he held. Karlheim, an old friend of Raffael and also an old man with gray hair, though not visible under the helmet, looked at his captain. Staring. Dozens of eyes were focused on Raffael. Jacib crept towards Raffael from behind.

    "We're ready whe'ever the signal from the general comes. Shouldn't take much longer. I don't think the enemy knows our plan but who knows."
    "Whatever the enemy might know or not you'll charge when I give the signal ... and you will wait until I give the signal. But to make this clear: I plan to charge soon as the gate open. I don't want to miss the chance to be the first inside just because the Margrave thinks he needs to be cautious."
    "As concerned 'bout us as ever, eh?"
    "You get paid for it so do it. Moreove-"
    Something heavy moved. Chains started to wrap around something. Raffael smiled.

    "Charge! Regroup inside the city! Everyone charge!"

    Clack, clack, clack. Dozens of visors closed and the banner of the Band of the Black Boar danced through the air towards the city.

  5. #25
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Very exciting! I am eager to see what's gonna happen when they get to the gates.
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  6. #26
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Nicely done, I like the way that you describe the cannon ("metal beasts") and the watchtower ("groaned under the pain") as if they were living creatures, this made the scene vivid.

    Being in a Forlorn Hope sounds very hazardous, I wonder how many losses the Band of the Black Boar will suffer and if they'll get enough loot to keep them loyal to their captain.

  7. #27

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Thank you for your comments!

    Yes people Forlorn Hope often didn't get very old - or rather stories from that time speak of old people in the Forlorn Hope (they often also were in the first ranks of a formation and received double the pay) with a certain awe or sometimes consider them the worst of the worst kind of brutalized people with no moral sense what so ever.

  8. #28

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)


    Chapter 6: Mirandola


    Cold air and steam. Steam rose from the warm blood that stuck to Raffael's two-handed hammer in the fresh morning air. Whose blood it was, he did not know nor did he have the time to think about it.
    After he and his men had entered the town through the main gate in the grayness of the young dawn they met a sudden stop to their charge - the night guard. Raffael using the invincibility his armor gave him to the fullest had single-handedly cut deep into the enemy line that blocked their rush to the keep. As a result he stood alone surrounded by dozens of sparingly armor enemies, mostly lower noblemen, merchants and artisans that had viewed the ceremonial night guard as a duty to their city and as a way of carving their names into the chronicles. Amidst the clumsy formation of uncoordinated men raged Raffael, his pole-hammer crushing a face, smashing a shoulder or striking an unhealthily deep dent into a helmet that probably hid an even unhealthier dent in someone's skull every time it came crashing down. Around the young captain grew a carped of dead, probably dead, and people wishing to be dead. Somewhere behind a group of his enemies stood Jacib rising into the air like the tower of a cathedral from a town. The one-handed hammer looked comically frail in the hands of the giant while it was crushing people like a child's food might crush the fallen leaves of a tree in autumn.
    Raffael cut - smashed! - his way through the enemies towards his second in command. As he reached the giant he shouted:

    "Don't get pinned down! Push towards the castle!"

    Jacib just nodded, broke someone's face with his buckler and then roared the same words in a voice that made everyone, foe and friend alike, flinch for a moment. The men of the Forlorn Hope increased their push against the enemy line as if someone had blown a horn to rally the troops. Smashing, hacking, cutting, thrashing, thrusting and grappling - it seemed as if a colossal black boar raged in the main street of Mirandola, impaling the defenders with its tusks while crushing men under its hooves. It was a totally one-sided slaughter as the beast advanced further into the formation that blocked its path. The guards retreated step by step as they desperately tried to maintain their formation. If they held out just one more moment... If they managed to maintain order for just a bit longer... If the just... From one moment to another, like a sudden wind gust on sea, chaos broke out.
    Whether it was the man in armor that had killed two dozens of their comrades alone, whether it was the giant towering over every single other person on the street or whether it was the endless onslaught weighting down on the inexperienced guard - whichever of the three it was something snapped inside the men of Mirandola that had been holding the street of their city. They ran. And carnage followed. Merchants and their sons that had bought the prestige position of night's guard, noblemen and their followers, masters and their apprentices and other men of higher status and wealth were indiscriminately "killed, slaughter, nigh torn-apart" as it would later be retold. To the civilians hiding in their houses it sounded as though a beast-boar had risen to earth to punish the small merchant town for its avarice.

    ***

    Raffael led his men through the main street towards the keep whose main tower arose from the houses in front of them. Between them and their goal were men who were throwing down their weapons and tearing of their armor as they fled from them or begging for their live only to receive alms of steel. Raffael no longer cared who was in front of him. The tower at the end of the street was the only thing he saw through grayness of dawn. But as they arrived there the captain quickly saw what he should have expected: the castle had long been closed off with gunners and crossbowmen peeking out from the crenellations, the gates not even answering to the calls of the fleeing guard who were now trapped between the bulwark and berserking boars.

    "Everyone cha- ", Raffael began to shout but Jacib cut him off.
    "No, everyone take cover! Shoddy Hobb's coming."

    Raffael's face grew red inside his helmet. After almost ripping off his visor and greedily sucking in the fresh air he shouted:

    "That castle is merely adornment! It can't hold off an assault. As your captain I order you to charge."
    "Won't be captain for long if everyone's dead", Jacib answered without even looking at him, "Everyone, ignore the Cap and take cover between the houses."

    Just as the captain was about to explode just as a bolt glanced of his helmet and a series of gun shots drowned the pleading of the defeated night guard at the gates.

    "...."

    He threw a glance at the castle. Attack now or wait for Hobb? He was almost torn apart by the two options playing tug of war in his head. Looking at his men he saw tired faces, angry faces and frozen, emotionless masks. He breathed out.

    "Fine, take cover."

    It wasn't long until Shoddy Hobb and his men arrived together with the rest of the Forlorn Hope. Not being able to compete with the firepower the defenders soon fled the ramparts and with the joined force of other companies they gates were forced open leaving the castle in no better of a situation than an opened clam. The defenders surrendered. Any hopes for leniency they might have held were shattered when Margrave Francesco Gonzaga entered the castle. Clad in armor with gilded ornaments and on a large Arabian horse he proclaimed the death sentence of the leaders of this 'revolt' as he passed the gated accompanied by servants carrying his white and red baldachin. The executions were held the next day. Banner carriers paraded, cavalry in shining steel, men wearing blackened armor with beautifully gilded and bronze rims, meticulous carvings and etching and mercenaries in clothes dyed in more colors than any painter could have named guarded the town square in front of the keep while the Margrave sat under his baldachin. With horror watched the nobility and merchants of Mirandola as Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, Lord of Mirandola was executed by a Mantuan born noble man wearing the white and red of house Gonzoga.

    ***

    In the following days a 'reexamination' of Mirandola's leadership took place. Everyone who was deemed 'a subversive entity', 'a traitorous bastard' or 'a syphilitic whore's phlegm' as the Margrave put it poetically was put to the sword. Merchants in fancy, new, unscratched armor knelt next to mercenaries in their typical cut-up clothes-fashion and proud-to-the-last-moment noble men as they waited for their final moment. This time no knights paraded, no banner carriers stood watch.
    Raffael watched the executions in front of the keep unfold with utter unconcernedness. The fact that he had lost his chance to be the first to raise their banner over the enemy castle by waiting for the gunners gnawed at him much more than the names of some no-names. The days passed with drills and training. Now that the rebellious companies had been defeated and the lost towns had been retaken it seemed as though life might slow down again. While the last weeks had seemingly passed faster than some nights the following days felt like life-times to the young captain. But somehow he knew that the next war was approaching. Something inside him sensed the tension in the air. Not only now in Mirandola but even before that. The towns and villages he had passed by, the people he had seen, the air he had breathed - everything had felt like a spring under tension.



    Historical Notes
    I think I will now sometimes add some notes about the historical background of some of the things in a chapter - just for some old fashioned history nerdism.

    Night Guard:
    While guards in a historical context (or in this case a medieval to renaissance context) wasn't really that much of a thing - citizens were usually mandated to resolve any trouble they saw by law and not doing so could lead to a court hearing ( which surprisingly well documented) - the closest thing that existed was that cities demanded the guilds to have x amount of people on y days per way to look over the gate or one of the battlements of the city. Rarely did mercenary do this job or at least not a lot of them would be employed. For example, the Emperial City Frankfurt, which was not the the capital of the HRE (since it had none) but a place of permanent residency for the emperors employed a total of 30 foreign mercenaries (not companies, single people) to guard the city in the 1460s-1480s - the city had about 30-40k citizens at that time. Night's watch were never a thing, as far as we now, except in very specific situations. The reason being is, that no one could really do anything at night... gas and electricity wasn't a thing and candles and oil lamps wouldn't be bright enough to see much. (both for criminals and the nights watch).

    Much different were of course sieges - which was one of the specific situations where a nights watch was somewhat present. While they still had the problem that they could barely see anything at night, they often guarded the towers at night and would patrol during dawn and dusk. In this context the fact that these were often people of higher class makes sense: if it is dim (even at dusk or dawn) you still need some source of light which were incredibly expensive (any kind of light source was surprisingly expensive. The average house hold in Nurnberg in the 1470s might spend 10-15% of their income on firewood. Wood prices would rise even more during the renaissance so much that public baths would more or less die out during the 16th century [among other reasons]). Hence the night watch could only be done by people to either have the money to pay for so much wood/oil or people hoping to raise their social standing by participating in this prestigieus undertaking. People who were rich enough for this were often noble men and merchants who usually were highly trained fencers and skilled fighter but it is often show that a mix of several groups of people (different guilds, nobility, merchants, etc. ) lead to very poor coordination during possible fights. For example one reason why each guild usually fielded one company on their own (so the smiths would have one company, the weavers would field one, etc. .)

    As it has happened in this story, if a foreign mercenary company was given the command over a city during times of war the mercenaries sometimes decided to take over the city. (if it was a small one - large cities usually had little problem with defending themselves.)

  9. #29
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Not much to say here beyond the usual: I am loving this, and can't wait to see it continue to unfold. One concrete thing I really liked is the ending. It doesn't do anything too obvious or give huge omens or hints, but it definitely sets a rising tension in the air, making me super eager to see what spring brings to this tale!

    I'm also wondering if Raff and Jacib might have to duke it out at some point. They seem a good team, the one complementing the other in a number of important respects, but Raffael also seems like a loose enough cannon that he might do something stupid if Jacib is loudly sensible too often.
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  10. #30
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    I agree, the desperation and chaos of the fighting is well told, and the tension between Raffael and Jacib seems to be building towards a crisis. I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen next.

  11. #31

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Thank you for your comments!
    @Kilo11 We have a saying where I live which goes around the lines of "People that love each other hate each other"... used especially by grade schoolers when two people, usually a girl and a boy, have some kind of fight. Not that I had this in mind at any point when writing or thinking about the Jacib-Raffael dynamic but I was reminded of this saying when I read your comment

  12. #32

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)


    Chapter 7: Ponte Nuovo Part 1

    Little damage had actually been done to city and while the loss of three entire merchant families, some ten noble men and several other members of the gentry was not to be ignored the city would soon return to some kind of normalcy - as normal as a city can be after a siege. The deeds of the companies that had stormed in first and had rushed to the keep wouldn't go unnoticed as a not insignificant amount of gold and several hundreds of pieces of yellow and black cloth were given to each of their leaders. The latter was the first part of a plan to dress the mercenaries directly under the employment and leadership of the Margrave Francensco uniformly, though how the cloth was worn was not mandated. For the men themselves who received the cloth this might have only seemed as an appropriate compensation for their deeds but to their captains this signaled something more important: the Margraviate was preparing a long standing army. And considering this, the question "For what, was more war to come?" was a sensible one for people earning their livelihood in war...

    ***

    One and a half week passed until the companies stationed at Mirandola received the order to march south-west. From the little information that Raffael and his men had received it seemed that the relations between Mantua and Duchy of Ferrara-Modena had increasingly deteriorated over the years. According to rumors a dispute involving the Secchia, a small river flowing from the Alpe di Succiso south-west of Modena past the city itself into the territory of the Margraviate had led to several smaller conflicts between villages. A Mantuan dam project to regulate the small river for its forges and foundries had resulted in floodings along the river in the regions of the Duchy while some older mills were destroyed by the high waters.
    As a reaction to a particularly bloody skirmish between several dozens of villages supported by armed citizens, Margrave Francesco II had decided for a punitive expedition into the lands of Duke Ercole I d'Este who was incidentally the father of the Margrave's wife Isabella. Normally this entire dispute might have been settled in front of a court or with a small scale feud but for some reason, and no one at that time could quite tell why, conflicts seemed to explode on the Italian peninsula at that time much faster than the decades before. Whether it was the French incursion which proved to be a sudden wake-up call as one of Europe's strongest kings had marched his armies through all the way to Naples or whether it was the natural evolution of the city-states of Italy that were had been in a constant struggle of economical superiority which had been amplified by the fall of Byzantine and subsequently a race for the new trading routes would be a question scholars even centuries later would debate over.

    But for Raffael the reasons where irrelevant as he and his men left the city of Mirandola as they followed their employer south-west wards. Shortly after the army had crossed the Secchia and passed by a town called Carpi the word of enemy movement further down the road traveled along the long column of men, horses and wagons.

    It seemed at as though several hundreds of lances had taken a stance at Ponte Nuovo, a town that had grown around a bridge of the same time. The bridge itself had been build over a small branch of the River Po and was despite its name one of the older bridges in the region. With the road ahead blocked by the enemies their only options were either to go further south to the next bridge but running the risk of getting too close to Modena, march half a week north to the next bridge under the control of the Margrave or break through the enemy lines. Though if one had asked the mercenaries and citizens in the army there really only was one option. And so...

    ***

    "Hurry up you idiots. Enemy's close."
    Jacib's roaring passed through the group of men in front of him like the thunder of a storm. Along the bank of the river were about sixty men dismantling wagons and hammering them onto strung-together barrels that were floating in the river. It might have been a small makeshift bridge but enough for the men of the Band of the Black Boar. Cracking of guns came from somewhere further south of the river. The Ponte Nuovo bridge was visible in the distance while black masses swarmed amid a thin, white fog on both sides.
    "Get on with it", he turned around to Raffael that sat on a horse, "Cap, how's cavalry?"
    The captain sniffed at his Second in Command. "Don't talk to me like that.... Including me we have 14 from the 6 main lances and another 7 men trained in mounted combat. However, I have my doubts that they can keep up with the rest. I'll leave the 7 here and charge forward with the 14. If I wait here for all of our men to cross, we'll lose too much time and-"
    "Ya, sure. Think the bridge... thing can be crossed if you're careful. Guess you'll go then."
    Raffael stared at the Croatian whose head was despite Raffeal sitting on his horse on the same height as his captain's.
    "Don't die. Need the payment from you. Hahaha."
    Raffael's horse cringed at the giant's laughter. It must have been scared by what sounded like a roaring bear, the other men thought.

    14 mounted men slowly crossed the bridge and then turned south as they headed for the Ponte Nuovo. Next to Raffael rode his squire Orfeo and Hager, a 16 year old boy who carried the banner of the company. As they came closer to the town the defenses that had been build started to become apparent. Around the houses short sections of earth walls enforced by planks rose from the ground, wooden spikes facing into all direction like pikemen in a circle formation had been stuck into the earth and in front of this, rudimentary hedge laying had been done to slow done any attackers. The bulwark and hedge laying were unfinished as the Mantuan army had been faster than anticipated and the several wide holes seemed to beg for the attackers to come. The cracking of guns echoes over the plain and the bridge was shrouded in smoke, yet no one dared to advance.
    Raffael lead his men far outside the reach of any crossbowman or gunner eastwards away from the river over a large plane into the enemy land. The road that led outside proved to be heavily guarded as groups of five to ten pikemen and halberdiers crouched in regular intervals along it. Raffael considered pushing further into the enemy territory to be too dangerous and returned to the river about 500 paces away from the villages. He turned to Orfeo and said:

    "Saw the men along the road? A good way to prevent people like us to go around the villages. A long chain with strong links of men. We'll might have to approach them from the north."
    "Shouldn't we synchronize our advance with the main army? Otherwise we'll advance towards the enemy position alone..."
    "Hah, 'many enemies much fame'. Moreover, if we attack, the main army might just go into the offense too and support us."

    He turned to one of the mounted men next to him, an older man in his fifties wearing plate armor and a jacket with embroidery over it.

    "Karlheim, go back to the company and tell them to come and take up formation here. We need Hob and his men. Tell Jacib to give them some wood as shields. It seems as though the enemy's gunners are pinned down by the main army. Then tell the other companies that they can cross the river after us. Understood? Great. Go!"

    While Karlheim, his master of horses, perhaps his oldest friend and an experienced ex-ministeriales who had chosen the live of a mercenary after he had been accused of sleeping with his lord's wife, disappeared towards the bridge Raffael let his eyes wander the plain where Ponte Nuovo stood. The skirmished had died down somewhat. A group of oddly large people, Raffael assumed them to be mounted men, left the town over the road that they had scouted earlier. Then he gave his companions the order to advance towards the villages in search for an opening to attack. The closer they got the more they could smell the gunpowder. The town seemed eerily silent after the skirmishes - or rather disappointingly silent, as he had hoped to use the cover of main army's fire to advance with his company.
    Men started to take up position at the earth walls as the mounted men approached. flopp flopp flopp Bolts thrust into the earth a hundred paces in front of them. Even if they dared to get closer, everyone was equipped well enough that neither bolt nor ball could even scratch them at this distance. Raffael called for Hager the standard-bearer who wore a plain cuirass and sallet helmet as he held a lance with the banner of the company. The banner of the company - a large black boar mimicking a prancing horse on a rectangular cloth that was diagonally divided into a green and white rectangle.

    And so they waited for the rest of their company, 13 mounted men under the banner staring at the defenders in the fortified town while their enemies stared back.

    ***

    The chatter of over a hundred men. The sound of earth getting crunched thousands of times. The rest of the 150 men of the men of the Band of the Black boar arrived with an avant-garde of noise. Their captain rode along the front line as the took-up formation, three smaller groups each led by an armored officer and the skirmishers between then with Shoddy Hob as their leader.

    "Hob, put some fire on them", said Raffael before turning to Jacib who stood like a tree on a grassy field in front of his men. "We're going to attack and push through before the other companies catch up."
    "...Always make it sound so simple..."
    "Because it is. "
    "Sure, sure...", Jacib sighed, "Your strategic mastermind is going to cost us all our lives one day. I just gotta make sure that..."

    Not listening to the rest his second in command had to say, Raffael sat straight on his horse and shouted:

    "In front of us is the enemy, some couple hundred men, maybe some thousand! If we push through and create an opening for the men at the bridge - such a deed won't go unnoticed. More deeds, more gold. Much enemies, much fame!"
    He let his eyes wander over the ranks. All were dressed on red and yellow, some with plate armor - though none in full plate - and held either some kind of pole arm or mace, while long knives and arming swords hung from their hips. Most of them didn't even look at him as their tense faces were fixed on the town in front of them.

    Hob and his skirmishers advanced on his signal. The skirmished opened fire. Smoke and gunpowder. The first true field battle of the Band of the Black Boar started with the thunderous applause of over a hundred guns.

    Historical Notes

    Mercenaries getting paid with cloth was fairly common throughout the 15th - 16th century which was used especially by the Italian states to create some kind of uniform, for example Venice demanded that their mercenaries would wear cloth of a certain shade of red - though whether they had to wear it at all times or only during battle, marching, etc. is different from state to state. Btw, not only mercenaries were often paid with cloth, other occupations that were somehow related to the "public sector". Judged were entitled to x amount of fine cloth, the master of wells or the master of towers in a city might also receive some kind of cloth

    Ministeralis were a certain class of people in the HRE that's often described either as 'lower nobility' or some kind of 'officials' - and both are true. They often were lower nobility, usually people that had earned their title through some deed, and would often take over administrative work on a very local level for their lord or be involved with the defense of very small parts of lands. The English medieval gentry is somewhat comparable to the ministeralis, though the letter always was given a name (a title. For example: Johann "von X", same as the English "of X" which the English gentry would necessarily receive. One could quickly rise to the ministeralis but also quickly lose ones title, unlike higher nobility which was more static.

    A lance was a military unit that consisted of one leader on a horse with armor and a lance (usually a knight or man-at-arm) followed by some kind of squire, or other better equipped helper who would also be able to fight and a certain number of skirmishers and other infantry men, the numbers differed heavily from place and time. One lance was often 5-10 men, Lances didn't necessarily go as one unit into the battle field as the leader accompanied by his helper/squire would join the cavalry while the infantry would join their comrades in arms (quite literally) - though this mostly counts for proper battles which were the minority. They'd stick together during their every day life and fight together during skirmishes... though these situations were very irregular and inconsistent so its hard to definitely say how a certain military situation might have looked like during the late middle ages.

  13. #33
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Another great continuation here! One thing I like in your presentation is the way you are melding together both the big and small of warfare. A lot of AARtists (as well as authors and screenwriters) think of battles as these massive affairs with thousands against thousands. Usually, we'll also get some one-on-one stuff too, as the hero breaks through the ranks toward some baddie. But the small-scale of war is really the heart of fighting. A lower commander with a small cadre of troops is such an interesting perspective, and you've done a great job highlighting that, while also zooming out now and again to the bigger picture. All in all, good stuff!
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  14. #34
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    I agree, this is a great continuation and there's some really good phrasing, particularly the line when Raffael reacts to Orfeo's suggestion about synchronising with the main army, and also the 'thunderous applause'. The historical notes are helpful, for adding useful details to the story and for showing us the historical knowledge behind it.

  15. #35

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11
    Another great continuation here! One thing I like in your presentation is the way you are melding together both the big and small of warfare. A lot of AARtists (as well as authors and screenwriters) think of battles as these massive affairs with thousands against thousands. Usually, we'll also get some one-on-one stuff too, as the hero breaks through the ranks toward some baddie. But the small-scale of war is really the heart of fighting. A lower commander with a small cadre of troops is such an interesting perspective, and you've done a great job highlighting that, while also zooming out now and again to the bigger picture. All in all, good stuff!
    Thank you! I've been interested in the more 'zoomed-in' perspective for some time now and wanted to try that out, partly because it hasn't been done. I also wanted to try out writing man-to-man fighting from time to time (for example, like in the following chapter).

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn
    agree, this is a great continuation and there's some really good phrasing, particularly the line when Raffael reacts to Orfeo's suggestion about synchronising with the main army, and also the 'thunderous applause'. The historical notes are helpful, for adding useful details to the story and for showing us the historical knowledge behind it.
    The many enemies much fame like is a version of the supposed saying from Georg von Frundsberg, a German mercenary at that time. There are several translations of this, and several versions in German too (which makes me wonder whether he actually said this or whether a saying like this from that time has been attributed to him after his death)

  16. #36

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)


    Chapter 8: Ponte Nuovo Part 2


    Men crammed into rectangle formations slowly marched towards each other. Crossbowmen, archers and gunners stood on the ramparts that ran along the river, laying down a shower of fear on the men approaching from the other side of the bridge while also trying to aid their men fighting the attackers that had approached from the north and south. The initial skirmish with the gunners at the bridge had given the Mantuan mercenaries time to build bridges north and south of the town, effectively surrounding the town from 3 sides. Only the western road was still free and as the people of Pointe Nuovo saw the enemy's numbers, retreat became a viable option...

    ***

    The shrill screams of steel pierced through the stifling air shrouded in swaths of gun powder - or so one might have described the fighting if it hadn't been for the constant trampling of hundreds of men, crackling of guns on the ramparts and crossbow strings rubbing against wood as they released their bolts. All of this crashed against Raffael's helmet which, with the four-fingernails-thick steel and a padded hood, blocked most of it. Now on foot he stood at the top of a small formation of 12 men clad in more or less the same level of armor as him behind the main group of his company fighting the enemies. Left and right of them were what might have been considered a bulwark if it didn't have a gaping hole that was just begging to be attacked. Too fast had the Mantuan offense been to complete all the defenses - or to be more precise: they had quite literally been surprised right while they were building them. The old hedge laying they wanted to repair had barely stopped the approach of the enemies who had cut right through the thinnest parts as years of rain had gnawed at the wood. Now the Band of the Black Boar stood right at the last line of defense while reinforcements came from behind them and the rest of the army was attacking from the south. Yet the other companies did not immediately approach. A small window to push through and be the first, Raffael though. Break through, fall into the back of the enemy holding the bridge and open the way for the Margrave himself! A plan so simple it had to work.
    And so, he walked with his 12 followers, the men which he had known even before he had met the rest of the company, past the formation fighting at the 'breach'. The small gap at the right side of the breach seemed too tempting to just ignore it. The sound of the fighting fully reached his ears when they were about 10 more steps apart. Raffael turned around to the young Orfeo.

    "Orfeo, stay right behind me. Hager! Give him your banner, you'll take a halberd and stay in the last line! Anyway, Orfeo, you are the standard-bearer now, understood? It doesn't matter what happens, don't let it touch the ground. And don't die here. As soon as we are in... You've seen the palisades along the river right at the bridge? Take the standard and raise it there as soon as we managed to fight our way through."
    The boy nodded as his captain screamed instructions at him. He stood upright, holding the standard while trying to look just as brave as the ancient warriors from the stories of old - though his face gave away his young age of 13 years. A child. In armor.
    Raffael looked at the rest of the men.
    "As we said before. Jacib is leading the main group here. I've ordered him to push towards the bridge if possible. Ello and Luca are leading the remaining groups and are going to sweep over the palisades as soon as we're in. Hob is going to protect our backs if the men at the road are planning a pincer movement. With that being said", he smiled while he moved his left hand to the visor only to lower it again without doing anything, "let's mess them up!"

    The armored men marched, slowly, almost leisurely, towards the corner of the enemy's first line fighting the main group. Only 4 more steps. Then 2. And then they were in arm's reach. Raffael raised his war hammer and swung it at someone who saw him just too late. The man behind the dying man thrust at him while stepping over his squirming comrade on the ground. The man to Raffael's right, it must have been Karlheim judging from the yellow and red jacked with red stripes he wore over his cuirass, cut into the neck of the enemy with his halberd while Raffael was about to parry the attack.
    And so they started to fight their way through. The 12 armored men raged among the enemy lines. Halberds, pikes, arming swords and long knives - they were mostly met with weapons that could not even do so much as a dent into their armor. And the men with the maces and hammers would quickly learn the sheer difference in skill between them, some citizens and villagers, and experienced mercenaries. Cutting, thrusting and bashing. Parrying, blocking and riposting again. They lost any sense of time as they did these over and over and over. Men stepped in front of them, seeing rich enemies to kill, but then stopped being alive. One moment they shouted as they tried to strike at Raffael or any of the other knights, the next they were flesh lying on the ground. It didn't matter who they were. Young boys no older then 18 with nervous eyes as the saw the men of steel approach. Men in their prime, filled with pride and pugnacity. Old men with tired eyes that had seen many a man die in their during their lives. In front of Raffael's war hammer, Karlheims halberd, Hager's mace or any other weapon, they were all the same: Things that had to be killed, destroyed, made un-living. And it seemed as though this would continue for ever. Endless fighting. They did not feel fatigue. They did not feel their lungs burning as though they had inhaled fire. They did not feel time as it passed. Everything was reduced to this fight. 12 men cutting their way through the enemies, surrounded by them as they had pushed into the formation. Crammed, standing shoulder by shoulder, back by back as they slowly advanced.
    And then they were free.

    They pushed out of the enemy horde only to find themselves right of the breach behind the bulwark. They had done it. While some of his knights were holding back those that broke off the formation to go after them Raffael lowered his bevor and sucked in the air as if he had just barely escaped drowning. Then he looked around. Jacib and his men had also pushed forward, judging from the giant's head he saw rising from the enemy horde. They stood on what seemed to be a small field used to grow vegetables. A path lead further into the town - though 'town' might have been to much for what essentially amounted to a bunch of houses and fields around a bridge. Yet its strategic position had earned Ponte Nuovo its town privileges from the duke - or so the captain had been briefed by someone from his men. Raffael turned to Karlheim, then to Orfeo. Sweat splattered as he screamed:
    "Orfeo, stay with me! Karlheim, we push to the town's square. Do you see that path? And those houses over there? The ones with the flower paintings? That's the square. I think. Then we turn left and go for the bridge, but I think we might see the enemy leaders there. If we get them we win."

    He smiled. A wicket, ugly smile, as if someone had copied a depiction of The Enemy onto his face. A caricature of a demon's smile. They advanced further into the town, their foes had apparently given little thought into defending the inside it as they didn't even encounter anyone along their path. When they reached the town square, a small cobble-stone plaza in front of a wide building where blossoming flowers had been painted on the facade, wagons were leaving the plaza. A tumult of men, oxen and horses unraveled in front of them as the inhabitants of the town were about to retreat. Seeing his plan to be the decisive factor for taking the town crumbling away Raffael stormed with his knights right into the middle of them. A turmoil broke out and suddenly three men in plate armor came forwards. Where they had come from, he did not know. One of the three shouted into the crowd around them:

    "Run, we'll hold them back! Flee east!", then he turned Raffael and said:
    "You will not get any of the our people here, Mantuans. I, Ermete Luodecce, knight under the banner of the Lord of Torrechiria and the my lord's place I guarantee for the protection these people, with God as my witness! If you wish to attack any of them here, your first shall fight me!"
    "Captain", said Karlheim who suddenly was overcome by a bad feeling, "we don't have time for this. They're already retreating. It seems as though the Lord has already retreated eastwards."
    *"Oh... no"*, he thought as he saw Raffael's face. He knew it was *that face* - the notoriously stupid not-going-to-back-off-from-a-duel-face.
    "Shut up! I'll fight him while you take the other and push for the bridge. Orfeo, stay here with me!"
    "But Sir, you as the captain should not-"
    "Did you not listen? Go, for Christ's sake!"
    The captain turned to the Italian knight and said: "Fine, I take your challenge. One-on-one.", as a vicious fire seemed to burn in his eyes.

    Raffael stepped forward to Ermete and immediately slid into a stance with the pole of his war hammer over his right shoulder. The knight in front of him drew his arming sword. He did not have a shield yet he did not seem particularly nervous as he shut his visor. The other two knights backed off as they took two steps back. Not giving his opponent a moment to search for an opening Raffael leaped forward while swinging his hammer downwards. Ermete blocked with the flat of his sword, let is slit off downwards as he took a step forwards to the left of Raffael. His free left hand shot forwards as he went for a grappling maneuver. Raffael blocked this with the shaft of his hammer but now had his weapon locked as his opponent grabbed it. Eremete pushed forwards with his entire body weight. Raffael performed a half-turn to the left while yanking his hammer into the same direction, adding to the movement of the Italian knight. He let go of the hammer with his left hand while still yanking, grabbed the sword hand of Eremete and forced the weapon out of his hand as he twisted the wrist while the Italian knight was still falling forwards. Eremete turned around as soon as he landed on the ground but had only two heart-beats of a man that had just run for a long time to see the tip of his own sword sliding into the eye slits of his visor before he died.
    "You'd kill a defeated foe without offering quarter, you dishonorable bastard?!"
    The other two knights wailed as they drew their arming swords. At Raffel's right appeared Orfeo with a mace and shield raised. The captain now had his hammer and a sword, an unorthodox combination he had to admit. The two Italian knights charged at them. Raffael leaped forward and threw the sword at the man approaching him just as they were about to clash.
    The man made a simple mistake. There was no way the sword could even have done so much as to scratch his armor. He could have just shrugged it off as a minor nuisance. Yet he deflected it out of reflex while running. Raffael brought his forward food next to the man's - except his opponent's still hadn't yet touched the ground. A small window, so minute most people would not have been able to see it unless they had over a decade of training. Too bad for the Italian knight Raffael had enjoyed a knight's training since his childhood. His right food moved back, locked into to the knee pit of his opponent's and swept backwards towards Raffael. The knights fell. Instead of throwing himself onto the man on the ground Raffael turned around to Orfeo who was desperately fending of the blows of his opponent. The captain swung his hammer with full force at the sword arm as the knight was about to thrust at Orfeo's neck while he had the young boy in a lock with his left arm. Something broke. Raffael could feel. And the knight definitely felt it too. Leaving the wounded man to his squire Raffael immediately turned around and using the force of this movement swung his hammer at the head of the knight who was standing up. Again, something broke. The knight definitely couldn't feel it this time - or at least not for very long. The hammer had hit his helmet. All of this, including Orfeo finishing off his opponent had taken only a few moments - so short and fast it would have made a horrible stage-fight.

    Raffeal turned to his squire who was heavily breathing under his visor. The plaza around them had become empty.
    "Now that was fun", the captain said as if he had just finished a round of piket. He realized that they were in the middle of a battle. "Oh, right! Let's join the rest."

    Historical Note

    Hedgelaying used to be an essential part of the defenses of a town or even city. This often involved growing several lines of hedges, enforcing them with wooden and weaving them together. They were supposed to stop smaller enemy armies for example during feuds since it wood takes ours for people to cut through them only to give the defenders a choke point. They didn't serve much purpose during large scale wars though. However, they were supposed to be maintained during peace times and which was often a very expensive tasks as a circle of hedgelaying could be huge, often circles with a radius of several kilometers
    Last edited by theSilentKiller; March 13, 2022 at 04:45 PM.

  17. #37
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Raffael's equipment and training make him formidable in melee. I like the detail that the knight made a mistake - I can easily imagine that happening. The use of the history of hedge-laying is a nice historical detail, too. Good update!

  18. #38
    Kilo11's Avatar Philosopher
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    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    This is indeed a good continuation. I think my favorite bit was Raff throwing the sword. It is such a stupid and useless thing to do, and reeks of Hollywood nonsense, but you turned it to a brilliant and plausible ploy. Throw the blade to instigate an instinctive but unnecessary response, and then take advantage of the opening. Brilliant move, and executed so well! At any rate, more great content, tSK, and I can't wait for the next one!
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  19. #39

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)

    Thank you both for your comments!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11
    This is indeed a good continuation. I think my favorite bit was Raff throwing the sword. It is such a stupid and useless thing to do, and reeks of Hollywood nonsense, but you turned it to a brilliant and plausible ploy. Throw the blade to instigate an instinctive but unnecessary response, and then take advantage of the opening. Brilliant move, and executed so well! At any rate, more great content, tSK, and I can't wait for the next one!
    There's an interesting little manual from the late 14th century by the (rather famous at that time) master Fiori Dei Liberi where he discribes a situation where three people try to kill a master and the master manages to fend it off, because of his good guard and and by stepping aside.
    And even if you throw your spear or sword at me, I will beat them all aside in the same manner I described above, steppingoff the line as you will see me demonstrate in the plays that follow, and which you would do well to study.
    I doubt that throwing swords was common at that time, but I guess that it was something a swords master might have think about, if he wanted to be prepared against anything at all time. I guess the knight who fought against Raffael should've stepped aside while blocking, rather than charge and block but perhaps it was these minute mistakes that cost people's life back than!

  20. #40

    Default Re: A World Gone Mad (The Italian Wars Mod)


    Chapter 9: Ponte Nuovo Part 3

    Chaos. Pure chaos. There was no formation, no strategy. Just fighting. What unraveled in front of Raffael was a symbol of the inexperience on both sides of the river. The main army at the bridge had crossed the river while the Band of the Black Boar and several other companies had attacked the village from the north and south. Most defenders fled - or at least tried to - as soon as the realized that they had been surrounded by the enemy. The bulk of the Mantuan army had decisively, barely, heroically broken apart the mighty defenders' lines - or so they would later retell it. But reality was, not experienced mercenary had tried to hold the barricades but the citizens of Modena that had been put under contract by the duke. While the same had been true for the Mantuans, mercenaries like Raffael had been used to flank the villages as the Margerave had wanted to give the honor of leading the main attack to his citizens.

    Hence the lines on both sites had disintegrated as soon as the made contact and the battle turned into small pockets of fighting throughout the villages. When he saw the almost clumsy attempts of the officers at maintaining order, the awkward fighting of men that had never actually fought in battle and relied only the little training they had received weeks prior or years of fencing which was more akin to dueling than fighting in war as it was popular among the city-folk, the only thing Raffael could think about was that there was no chance that his accomplishments during this battle would be noticed by his employer. He should have known. "The brave citizens of our beloved Mantua broke the enemy lines". There was no room in the history books and chronicles for foreign mercenaries.
    The only thing he could hope for was that the knights he had killed had been important people - at least that thought been his first instinct. Then he realized that he had actually duelled and killed knights during the battle rather than taking them prisoner or fall into the enemy's back...

    What have I actually achieved today?

    Just for a moment he though that sometimes maybe, perhaps, possibly, viewed from a certain angle he could get carried away too much.
    You brute!, he heard a voice he wanted to forget shout after him. A voice he hated. Despised.

    "Ah, captn. You're also here? Completely forgot what you looked like."

    Raffael turned towards the sarcastic voice. Shoddy Hob stood in front of him, his long bow in his left hand. The Bristolian looked around with his fish-like eyes and said:

    "Well, that's all over the shop, as we say back home, you know. Guess the plan didn't really work out that well."
    "Where's Jacob?", the calmness in Raffael's voice surprised Orfeo for a moment.
    "Fighting somewhere. Think he had the rest of the company with him. Good for him I guess, seems a bit frisky around here to be honest."
    "Take up position around the town and take whatever men you find with you. Don't let any enemy escape, and don't let them charge you. I will find Jacib, take the rest of the company and clean up the road that leads east, understood."
    ".... It's the shock I guess? "
    "What are you talking about?"
    "Nothing, cap. Whatever, interesting to hear that you're actually taking command, but I already took the libe...-thing to have my men take up position on a hill along the road. Got some pikes and other spikey-boys with them, but looks like most of the Modenan mercenaries already retreated."

    As Hob left Raffael spotted Jacib among his men but just when he was about to walk up to them he stopped. The men in his company surrounded the Croatian, shouting, celebrating and cheering at the giant. Their eyes were fixated on him like in the paintings of Christ among his disciples. Raffael stood alone in the shadow of the entrance of a house, watching this - his men looking up the Second in Command while he was the captain.

    "..."
    ... It was not loneliness that he felt nor was it jealousy... It was something.
    "Sir, if I may give an unasked-for word of advice", Karlheim appeared next to the captain, "as to why perhaps these men look up to this Jacib person."
    "You're right, its unasked-for... But speak."
    "It is the same reason why your uncle and father were-"

    Raffael turned to the old knight, his face distorted like a depiction of The Enemy.

    "Your", Karlheim continued with a finger raised like a teacher, "father and uncle were, despite their... difficult disposition respected leaders. They were fancied by who they wanted to be fancied by. Or perhaps should I say by who they needed to be fancied by. Much like that large man over there."
    "I have to disappoint you, Karlheim, but I do not want to be liked by these... let's call them 'people' for now."
    "... Did you never consider the possibility, that this disparaging demeanor of yours might be one of the reasons why these men over there are not surrounding us here but rather Jacib over there?"
    "..."
    "Though it should be mentioned that this is only one reason, if I can freely state my opinion. Another problem is your tendency to-"
    "I have heard enough! You are better off preparing the company to march on. I doubt that we'll stay here for long. As for me - you don't actually have to know."

    A disappointed Karlheim, the same disappointment a teacher might feel towards his favorite student who had just failed a test, watched after Raffael as the captain walked away.

    ***

    A shock wave, an almost literal wave of shock, ran through the Modenans as they heard of their mercenaries' retreat before the enemy had even crossed the city. Surrender was the only option. None of them were suicidal enough to keep fighting a clearly lost battle. Among the glum faces of the prisoners were also looks of relief as the days of hardship and the uncertainty they had felt prior to the battle ended. The wealthy citizens, especially those that had lived within the city of Modena were sent to Parma where they would be kept under house arrest in the keep, though not without having to give the Mantuans any possibly helpful information about the fortifications of the cities under the control of the duke.
    Another portion of the prisoners were used to clean up the villages and prepare the road for their enemy's army to pass while some others would follow the army as some kind of odd-job men. Given their situation they were more than happy that the Mantuans and their mercenaries didn't treat them that bad - though the prisoners that had to directly interact with them were certainly hoping for not having to deal with these 'wild men' again.

    Honors were given to the brave citizens of the city of Mantua that had broken the enemy lines as the mercenaries had proven less than satisfying in doing that - at least according to said citizens. In the end the deeds of a certain captain of a certain company would go by unnoticed. The discovery of the dead bodies of three Italian knights caused not just a little commotion among the Mantuan nobility that led the army and whoever had killed them could consider himself lucky that time was pressing.

    While the Margrave Francesco II and his closest men remained in a town close to Ponte Nuovo the rest of the army under the control of the knight Ernesto Tarantini Quintieri. Ernesto continued further westwards instead of south towards Modena. His goal was Montechiarugulo. Francesco had ordered him to take the city based on the assumption that most men that had fled the battle had sought refuge in Modena. He bet on the Modenans fearing his army would attack their city and preparing defenses instead of intercepting their advance further west. That meant that Montechiarugulo would lay more or less unguarded in front of the Mantuans. They'd only have to take the city before the enemy realizes their plan and decides for a relief attack while Ernesto's army was still besieging the western town.

    Even better for the Mantuans: their merchants were reporting that a war between the Duchy of Ferrara and Modena, and Venice would ensure that the mercenaries in the city of Ferrara wouldn't just march west into the land of Mantua, or even worse reinforce the men at Modena. If the reports from the east could be trusted the situation for Duke Ercole I d'Este was even more dire for the Modenans than Margrave Francesco could have hoped for, as the Venitian armies ravaged their enemy's country side while the Duke himself hid behind the walls of Ferrara.
    The Mantuan army was neither particularly large nor experiences and the planned maneuver was risky as it opened up their homeland to the enemy but if not now when? Audentes fortuna iuvat!

    And so they marched westwards towards Montechiarugulo, leaving Ponte Nuovo behind them, like a forgotten dream in the morning, as though it was merely a foot note in what was yet to come...
    Last edited by theSilentKiller; March 13, 2022 at 04:46 PM.

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