Chapter 46: Last remnants of the army
20 June 1260
The war had taken quite a different course than I had imagined it would. When I started it twelve days ago, I had thought I would surprise them, force them back, take their castles and conclude some business while I were at it. In a way that had happened, but absolutely not as I had thought it would. The fighting is over... For now. And while my men rejoice with the returned Lezalit, I can't feel any happiness. War has changed forever, I can feel it in my snowcold bones.
Two weeks ago I had mustered around 1700 men and 14 lords to accompany me to victory. But in these weeks much has happened, and a lot of lives had been lost in an enormous short timespan. I had conquered Wercheg, but at what price? In a week time my army had been reduced to just 700 men and a handfull of lords. How would I win this war with only so few? Despite my prisoners there were still 26 free jarls at that time, not including king Ragnar himself. If he was smart, he would gather them all and crush my small band. I'm glad that hasn't happened.
Six days ago I threw my recently captured prisoners in the brick of Khudan, and reevaluated my situation. The risk of an all-out mobilization of the Nords was still very high, with that many still roaming free. I needed to hunt them down one by one, and lock them all away before they could destroy my fresh victory. Where to start this mad manhunt? I looked in my backpack, and saw a lot of fish and salt. That moment I remembered my business plan: I needed to relinquish myself from many fiefs and reevaluate the operation of some businesses. I also needed desperately to trade... What better than to combine them all? I would set out to Curaw, a border city, where I would sell the salt and go on from there on to finish it all and capture some nobles on my way. Unfortunately nothing happened the way it is supposed to go. In Curaw the prices of salt had dropped dramatically and to top it, my freshly conquered city of Wercheg was under siege. So I gathered my men and rode out, through the snowy cold landscape. Two jarls had dared to ride onto the peninsula: Tonju and Tansugai. With my army of 700 men I broke their siege by just appearing. They tried to ride away, but couldn't escape my wrath. Unfortunately they managed to evade capture, but their armies had been destroyed anyway.
Glad to be free of snowcold feet I fought fiercely against those two jarls.
Wercheg had been saved - again - but I hadn't come any closer to realising my goals. To do so, I needed to go to the kingdom of Rhodoks and visit both Veluca and Jelkala. That seemed like a smart move, since selling salt in Nord cities seemed a little problematic now. So I rode from Wercheg south. On my way I passed Curaw, and saw the city of Reyvadin on my route. I looked at my men, and decided to make a bald move. The castle was heavily defended, but we were strong: we were Hollandic. Artimenner prepared the ladders, and pretty soon I found myself in another siege.
I had learned from my previous Nord encounters: those huscarls were deadly on walls. So I ordered my men to hold their position, and let my sharpshooters fire their bolts away. I myself had prepared for this, and stocked myself with 91 bolts. Quite some archers fell down from the walls by my hands. When I noticed that my men started to ran out of bolts, I ordered them to finally storm the ladders. I picked up some bolts from fallen comrades, but the fighting continued long after I had ran out of all the bolts on the field. In the end we won, but once again against a very high price. Even though 440 defenders had been killed, and 12 wounded, 682 of my men had been disabled: 222 dead and 460 wounded. Almost no-one was standing anymore.
My men were holding position and fired upon the defenders.
The only good news was that I managed to capture jarl Surdun. I needed to lock him away pretty soon. But the moment I left this freshly captured city, my entire army dissolved. No noble wanted to stay along. They all dragged their wounded to all corners of my kingdom. My army! King Ragnar, give me back my legions! I had now conquered two Nord cities, but had no support anymore to push any further. My own men were bleeding too, so I was forced to return home anyway, where I dropped Surdun in my cell.
Back in Reyvadin I met Baheshtur once again in a tavern. He immediately greeted me like an old friend, like nothing had happened in the past. Apparently my fame had even grown outside Calradia, where he had heard of my progress in his homeland. Still not accepted by his old tribesmen, he decided to try his luck once again at my side. And today was indeed his lucky day. Not only did I accept his warm greetings, I also lifted him up to nobility and gave him the newly conquered Reyvadin as a fief.
When I returned to Khudan, more state business awaited me. Rochabarth had decided to abandon the Sarranids and try his luck in Holland. He couldn't arrive at a better time: I had fiefs to spare. I immediately gave him Alburq castle. Also I asked my wife for advice on assigning the city of Wercheg. When she told me Delinard had already the support of six other nobles, I followed her advice and gave him that fief. but that wasn't all. With pain in my heart I analysed the fighting so far: I conquered quite some Nord land, but lost my entire standing army. I needed time, which I didn't have during this war. So I called Lezalit, and sent him away on a peace mission.
Lezalit returned with good news.
Right after Lezalit I rode out too, to hunt down some Nords. I defeated Harish and Gearth, but captured neither. Now, just before I confronted Despin, he returned with good news. King Ragnar hadn't been able to gather all his nobles. He was rather panicked by my bold moves. Hadn't I conquered quite large portions of Nord lands in less than two weeks? He wanted this to end, before I would usurp everything he owned and hold dear. Good to hear that the news of my diminished army hadn't reached his ears. Here, in the soaring cold of the snowy fields between Reyvadin and Curaw, my men rejoice this 20-day truce. After this small break I will strike again. But for now, I'll need to prepare all over again.
I decided to first write this chapter and then upgrade my game and mods to the latest patch. So this chapter has still be made with the goo' ol' 1.125 patch: the next one will be in 1.127.
Here is a picture of Floris' current stats:
As you can see, I conquered Reyvadin. That's all that's changed before this phase of the war ended.