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Thread: The Chronicles of the Golden Cross Redux

  1. #241
    Field Marshal naggy's Avatar
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    The key is to hit Saladin's parts of forces before they form up and kill them piecemeal. Get some sieges in before you kill the last army, because you don't want them raising more levies.

  2. #242
    Crazy Reactionary crusaderknight's Avatar
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    Ah, my old friend! At last I had a bit of time to get started on this. Only read the introduction, and may not get time to read further until after graduation in May, but I like what I read thus far! Sybilla is marrying Richard Coeur d'Leon! I like this very much! Richard will be much more at home as a King of Jerusalem. He always was more of a Frank at heart than an Englishman. And now his genius and inspirational leadership can be used to bolster the Kingdom of Jerusalem all the more! I am very excited to see where this goes!
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  4. #244
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    The_Archduke: The royal demesne provides over 9,000 soldiers. The vassals of the kingdom can field another 16,000. When those are combined with the 15,000 troops of the Templars and Hospitallers, the grand total of Jerusalem's army is about 40,000 men-at-arms. Saladin has... more than that. But they're scattered over large distances. I'm not sure if it's possible to take land away from the aggressor in a Holy War, but I don't think it is. IIRC, making them surrender just gives them a huge prestige hit and you a huge prestige hike.

    Hyo: Thanks for commenting! Good points all, hopefully everything goes according to plan. By the way, what's with all the rooting for Saladin that's been going on? You guys must like watching me suffer.

    naggy: Yep, hit and run is Jerusalem's pivotal strategy. Never let the enemy forces unite against you.

    crusaderknight: Thanks very much for stopping by! I know you're very busy with your coursework. I do hope you'll be able to sneak away from your studies long enough to read a bit more some time, but if not it's completely understandable. Best of luck and congrats on your upcoming graduation!

    RobWorham: A pleasure to see you, and thanks for commenting! I see you've acquired CK2 -- I hope you will enjoy it as much as I am.

  5. #245
    Great read, thanks for doing this! Provides for great lunchtime-at-the-office entertainment!
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  6. #246
    Basileus Romaion Nikolai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobWorham View Post
    Checking in!
    Hey! Welcome over to the boards, mate!
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  7. #247
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    How did I miss this? A very good read, keep up the good work and don't you dare leave it unfinished

  8. #248
    In situations like this, I have had good luck letting attrition do my work for me.

  9. #249
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Emren: My pleasure. Glad you're enjoying the story.

    Nikolai: It's always good to see a familiar face.

    Daffius: Thanks. I'm pleased that you're enjoying it so far. This AAR's been much so easier to write than my old narrative AARs. That's because I just sit down and write whatever comes into my head, rather than painstakingly crafting dialogue and story arcs. So while those may be a superior product, they take forever and I have a harder time finishing them.

    OutsiderSubtype: Yes, that's a solid strategy. Why waste the lives of your men when a simple bacteria can take out so many of your enemies without you ever having to lift a sword?

  10. #250
    Wizzaard Estonianzulu's Avatar
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    Got to hate it when you get all excited about a tournament only to have it canned because of a silly little thing like a holy war
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  11. #251
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Estonianzulu: Yeah, that's how it goes sometimes. But don't worry, there'll still be time to knock some heads together at the tournament once we're done knocking heads together on the battlefield. I bet Richard Cœur de Lion is happier with things this way anyhow.

  12. #252
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    We root for Saladin mostly because this AAR is full of historical badasses- Richard the Lionheart, Balian of Ibelin (Kingdom of Heaven didn't do justice to his character), Raymond of Tiberias (historically, a shrewd and calculating man), and finally Saladin himself.
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  13. #253
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe27 View Post
    We root for Saladin mostly because this AAR is full of historical badasses- Richard the Lionheart, Balian of Ibelin (Kingdom of Heaven didn't do justice to his character), Raymond of Tiberias (historically, a shrewd and calculating man), and finally Saladin himself.
    I freely admit that Saladin is my single favourite figure from the middle ages as a whole, let alone the Crusades.
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  14. #254
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Axe27: That's true enough. As for all the characters you mentioned, in the next update you're going to see them come together in the biggest bloodbath the kingdom's ever seen.

    Saithis: Well, if you're a fan of Saladin you're in for a treat. This next update that I'm working on is really his time to shine.

  15. #255
    You set Saladin on fire so that it was his time to shine. This had better not be the end of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

  16. #256

  17. #257
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    1193

    Salah ad-Din was not messing about. He meant business, and his vast armies immediately began pouring across Jerusalem’s borders from three directions. First, Saladin’s brother Sayf al-Din brought up Syria’s levies from Damascus to besiege Irbid. Meanwhile, Saladin’s incompetent son al-Afdal led several small assaults against Kerak, bringing the southeastern desert levies in piecemeal. The Sultan himself marched north from Cairo with his main army, almost 25,000 strong.

    Although Saladin’s forces were quite numerous, I had been expecting to be hit with a lot more. I soon noticed that Saladin was also at war with King Lalibela of Ethiopia, as well as some rebellious Emir in the middle of nowhere. Hopefully those other fronts would distract him long enough for Jerusalem to be able to survive.

    The call was sent out for all of Jerusalem’s levies to muster at the Krak du Lion, and soldiers streamed in from every corner of the kingdom. King Richard would not be leading the armies himself this time, as he had not yet completed his marshal’s mission to expedite reinforcements and troop replenishment. The man that would be leading Jerusalem’s hosts against the mighty Saladin was Balian of Ibelin, the next most skilled commander in the kingdom after Richard.

    Since the real-life Kingdom of Jerusalem had both a Constable and a Marshal serving as leaders of the army, this in-game situation made sense to me. Sibylla had long-since bestowed the ceremonial title of “Master of Horse” upon Balian, and since this was part of the responsibility of the real-life Marshal, I thought it only fitting that the army’s second man should have this role.



    In the north, Raymond of Tiberias was sent to perform a holding operation against Sayf al-Din as best he could in an attempt to prevent Saladin from uniting his forces.

    In the southeast, al-Afdal would have to be ignored for the time being. His army was the weakest and the least important threat, and I hoped that his incompetence could buy me some time. Even so, the citadel at Kerak fell without much of a struggle. It was fortunate indeed for Reynald de Chatillon that he was not at home when the raging Saracens came a-calling. Luckily for him, he had already moved to join the mustering at Acre; his uncharacteristic diligence had saved his life.

    Meanwhile, Balian of Ibelin marched south along the coast to Ascalon, where he was intercepted by Saladin’s men. With the addition of the Knights Templar and Hospitaller to Balian’s ranks, the two armies were almost evenly matched, with Saladin holding a slight advantage in numbers.

    What followed would prove to be one of the worst bloodbaths in the history of Jerusalem.

    ***


    Salah ad-Din watched the conflict from a glittering pavilion set on a nearby hill, while several of his sons and brothers led the first attack. Saladin’s vast forces were a wonder to behold: dark-skinned Abyssinian guardsmen and Ghazi holy warriors fought alongside elite Mameluke slave cavalry and Bedouins on camelback. Jerusalem in turn could field a diverse host in its own right, comprised of the various heavy knights and sergeants of the noble retinues and holy orders, along with their retainers, mercenary Italian archers from the port cities, lighter Armenian and Turcopole horsemen and thousands of local Palestinian militia.

    The Battle of Ascalon began with a glorious charge by the Knights of St. John into the gaping maw of Saladin’s right flank, which was led by Saladin’s esteemed chancellor, Imad ad-Din. The heavy infantry of the Christian center advanced slowly and steadily while their Muslim counterparts rained down a hailstorm of arrows over their heads.

    An attempt by the Mamelukes to turn Jerusalem’s right flank was met by a countercharge from the Knights Templar while Saladin’s center strained against the pressing weight of Jerusalem’s heavy men-at-arms. Just when the Saracen center was about to break, Lord Balian received a grievous wound from an arrow and had to be carried from the field. Without a leader, Jerusalem’s center caved, leaving the Templars and Hospitallers on either flank to fend for themselves.

    Lesser warriors would have retreated after being cut off from the support of their allies, but the embattled knights of the two holy orders were true soldiers of Christ and refused to surrender. They pushed to unite in the center and finally cracked Saladin’s own center, which buckled and fled the field in turn.

    By this point, the battle had degenerated into a disorganized melee in which both sides were drenched in spattered blood, mingled with the thick dust trampled up by the hooves of the many horses.

    By the time the few brave survivors of Jerusalem’s host were forced to withdraw, the extent of the carnage on both sides was shocking. Of the tens of thousands of brave Christian warriors who had marched to battle that morning, barely 3,000 were still capable of bearing a sword. Saladin’s men had fared little better, with scarcely more than 5,000 able soldiers filling the Saracen ranks.

    In a characteristic act of magnanimity, Saladin offered the wounded Balian the aid of his excellent physicians.



    With Saladin victorious at Ascalon, the surviving men of Jerusalem were compelled to withdraw eastward to Beersheba, where they were met by the overzealous forces of al-Afdal. Woefully outnumbered, the beleaguered knights were once again defeated by the Saracens. The few survivors of the massacre at Beersheba amounted to little more than a pittance of the once proud army’s former glory. There was no point in keeping these few hundred men around to be fodder for the Saracens, so I disbanded the army.

    Meanwhile, al-Afdal’s command met up with the main Saracen host, which marched north to confront Tiberias’ forces, the last remaining crusader army currently in the field. Raymond of Tiberias already had problems of his own -– somehow he had managed to get embroiled once again in a futile border skirmish with the Hashishin. His forces were so weakened by that point that there was no use but to disband them all as well.

    ***


    The Kingdom of Jerusalem was now in the extraordinary situation of having two Saracen hosts running amok through the countryside with no standing armies to defend against them. The Saracen armies may have been depleted, but they definitely had the advantage of remaining in the field while their Christian counterparts convalesced. Kerak had fallen; so too had the strongholds at Irbid, Monreal, Ascalon and Darum.

    Fortuitously, King Richard succeeded at his training mission around this time, providing Jerusalem’s withdrawn armies with vital reinforcements. I'm assuming that many of the casualties suffered in-game should be considered merely wounded rather than killed, otherwise it doesn’t seem possible that the realm levies could rehabilitate in a matter of just a few months.

    Then an envoy arrived from the new Pope, declaring that His Holiness was truly impressed by Jerusalem's devotion to fighting the infidels and had provided a small trove of treasure to help finance the kingdom’s continued military efforts. His “gift” might as well have come with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, for it was immediately sent back to Rome in the form of indulgences to garner enough piety to redeploy the holy orders once they were sufficiently replenished. So perhaps this Pope might not be as bad as he had originally seemed.

    In the meantime, Saladin’s army had pushed north to Acre, the kingdom’s richest province, where the mighty Sultan laid siege to the Krak du Lion itself. If Acre was taken, Jerusalem’s primary supply line would be cut, as well as its primary route of escape. Now it was time to see if all of King Richard’s expensive fortifications were worth the cost.

    The long siege dragged on for several months without incident. The crusader garrison was too well-supplied to surrender and Saladin’s army was far too powerful for any relief column to get through. Aside from the occasional casualty due to a stray arrow or crossbow bolt, life proceeded relatively normally and both sides eventually adjusted to the siege mentality.

    Eventually, however, the poor state of the besiegers’ sanitation and hygiene led to an outbreak of typhoid fever. The fever spread through the neighboring provinces, and thousands were struck down by the illness. Word even began to spread that Queen Sibylla herself was suffering from the debilitating effects of the disease back in Jerusalem. No doubt the excessive strain of the war had weakened her normally hale and hearty constitution.



    As Saladin’s forces began to diminish from disease and attrition, the great Sultan ordered a direct assault upon the citadel.

    Massive siege towers were rolled into place to deliver heavily-armed Muslim warriors directly to the stronghold’s battlements while others scaled the walls with siege ladders. Huge mangonels were brought up to fling projectiles coated in flaming naphtha at the towers and curtain walls. A battering ram broke through the first gate, only for the jubilant assailers to be slaughtered inside the gatehouse by boiling oil poured down through the murder holes in the ceiling, which was compounded by a withering rain of death through the arrow loops.

    Although the fortified emplacements built the Lionheart continued to hold, Saladin’s forces were too many. Fresh Saracen reinforcements were on the way from Egypt, and the morale of the garrison began to falter. It was under these conditions that King Richard Cœur de Lion knew the time to act had finally come. Balian of Ibelin protested; the army’s numbers were not yet fully replenished and might not be enough to defeat Saladin’s hordes.

    But Richard had not received his famous epithet because he liked to sit on the sidelines. The brash monarch declared that he would lead the reinforcing army himself and break the Sultan’s siege once and for all. The king rallied what few thousand men were available and made a lightning march for the coast.

    The battered garrison took heart at the sight of brilliant crimson banners fluttering on the horizon. Richard the Lionhearted had come at last.

    As the bemused Saladin looked on, a cavalcade of mounted knights came pouring down the hillside into the ranks of his waiting host. Furthermore, the Saracens noted that the teeming white-clad hosts of Jerusalem were once again led by a solitary figure in scarlet.



    The Saracen lines gave way before the charging masses of Jerusalem’s horsemen, and the elated garrison sallied forth to join their rescuers. The Saracen army was now caught with enemies on both their flanks. Unfortunately, Richard’s trademark red tabard made him an obvious target, and his horse was struck by a volley of enemy arrows. Some of his knights panicked, fearing that if their liege had fallen all would be lost, but Richard proved resilient. He clambered to his feet, seized a spear and felled a Saracen cavalier, taking his fallen enemy’s mount for his own.

    Spurred on by Richard’s leadership, Jerusalem’s army drove Saladin’s host from the walls of Acre, even capturing the Sultan’s gleaming golden pavilion. Against the odds, the Krak du Lion had held firm. The invading Saracens retreated down the coast to the captured citadel at Darum, there to regroup for another incursion into Christian lands.

    Richard may have won a victory, but the great Salah ad-Din was far from beaten. The Egyptian armies had defeated Saladin’s distant enemies in Ethiopia, so more Saracen reinforcements were constantly pouring in from the south, while Jerusalem’s armies were already at less than half-strength and dwindling every day.

    Barring the occurrence of a miracle, it seemed as though this would be Jerusalem’s darkest hour.

    And then the miracle happened. Word came to Jerusalem that the Pope had heard of their dire situation and had called for the bravest knights of Christendom to ride forth and save the Holy City from the infidel. For Christ and glory, a new Crusade was coming.

    Over fifty thousand German troops were even now on the road to the Holy Land…

    …led by none other than Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor.





    ***

  18. #258
    I'd been hoping for a cameo from Balian of Ibelin. He dully turned up, got wounded and lost a battle. Raymond doesn't have the sense God gave slime to embroil himself in another war with the assassins. You're just about surviving. It's a race now.Will Barbarossa arrive before Saladin's reinforcements. Cab the Kingdom's levies recover the lost fortresses without getting jumped by throops Saladin already has in theatre?

    It is just as well you have Richard. That's two he's dug the Kingdom out of.

  19. #259
    I've finally caught up with this amazing narrative, and what a time to be with the vanguard of this AAR! Hollywood Schmollywood, this is far more entertaining!

    Long live the Queen! Long live the King! Long live this AAR!

  20. #260
    Field Marshal naggy's Avatar
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    You forgot to send Raymond into battle alone over and over.

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