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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Keizaal

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Good day everyone, and welcome to my first ever AAR.

As you may have noticed from the title I will be playing in Finland, a region in CK2 that, atleast according to my observations, hasn't had all that many AARs based on it. So, I decided quite a few years ago that ONE DAY I will make an AAR about this wonderful land I call home. After Holy Fury was announced I decided that I will definitely make it after HF is released, but then I got a bit carried away with all the new mechanics (and some other games too) and then the Great Works patch came around and I decided that there was no way I could leave such a patch out of the AAR, so I waited some more.

And here we are, I am finally starting to write my AAR here in Paradox Forums and I already have couple first chapters ready, just in need of some polishing and final check-ups before posting them.

Now I will be starting the game in the 867 bookmark as the High Chief of Pohjanmaa (Ostrobothnia in english) with a custom character. I will not be playing in ironman, because I intend to possibly add some custom CoAs to the game, at least for Finland since the historical one is somewhat based on the CoA of house of Bjelbo and from what I know ironman can make this difficult or even impossible without breaking the save and I don't intend to let the Swedes take over Finland like they did in our timeline :p But, who knows what might happen when you start with Björn "Ironside" of Sweden and Rurik of Novgorod as your neighbors. I've seen them do some crazy things in northern Europe sometimes, and other times they fizzle out early, leaving their kingdoms to the vultures. But we shall see.

But I have blabbered on long enough. I'll post the settings for my games as spoiler, since the list of settings for CK2 is LONG as anyone here probably knows (and it just keeps getting longer with every DLC) and I'll leave out some of the settings, such as "generate families", "Story events for Charlemagne" or multiplayer rules since they aren't relevant to this playthrough.

Major Epidemics: Delayed Dynamic Minor Epidemics: Default
Mongol Invasion: Delayed Random Aztec Invasion: Off
Exclave Independence: Limited (naval) Chinese Invasions: All
Chinese Interactions: Within Range Border Dispute Wars: On
New Casus Bellis: On Devil Worshippers: Default
Secret Religious Cults: Default Turkic Conquerors: Random
Non-Epidemic Diseases: Default
Shattered Retreat, Army Movement Lock, Siege Assaults, Siege Events, Defensive Pacts: All On
Gender Equality: Default Supernatural and Absurd Events: On
Dynamic De Jure Drift: Restricted De Jure Assimilation Duration: Default
De Jure Requirement: Required Nomad Stability: Unstable
Culture Conversion: Default Religious Conversion Speed: Default
Raiding: Historical Adventurers: Normal
Interfaith Marriages: Restricted Matrilineal Marriages: On
Custom Realms: On
Vassal Republics and Vassal Theocracies: Restricted
Diplomatic Range: On Provincial Revolts: Rare
Provincial Revolt Streangth: Powerful Defensive Attrition: On
Pagan Reformation: Allowed Assasinations: Plots Only
AI Seduction and Intrigue: On Regencies: On
Dueling: Default Release Prisoner After Punishment: On
Titles Named After Dynasties and Cultural Title Names: On
Demesne Size and Vassal Limit: Default Grant Indenpendence: Unrestricted
Crusader States: Default All Crusades and Reconquista: On
Child Of Destiny: On Great Works: On
Hellenic Revival: On (right, like that's gonna happen)

With that out of the way, few other things.
GOALS: Form Kingdom of Finland | Reform Suomenusko religion | Maybe form an empire (Scandinavia, Volga-Ural, Custom, we'll see where the game takes us) | Build a wonder, maybe two, if time and money allows | Establish a bloodline, maybe two, we'll see what the game gives and takes |
This AAR will also be text heavy, since I'm not much of a screenshot taker so I might not remember to take many, if any. I will also try to roleplay my characters as much as possible and try to avoid being too gamey. That also means I'm not going to aim for world conquest or something. To try to keep it a bit realistic at least.
Mild interactivity approved by @Qorten . So I might hold some polls as the game/story goes on, but no guarantees about that. (One that I might quite surely hold is about one of the doctrines if/when I manage to reform the Suomenusko faith, maybe even one on the nature of the faith too.)

That should be all. I hope you will enjoy my first ever AAR.

Table of Contents
Prologue Homecoming
Chapter 1 First War and Books
Chapter 2 Victory, Family and Mother Bear
Chapter 3 Widow and Giant
Chapter 4 Declaration!
Chapter 5 Rise and Fall of the Giant (Part 1)
Chapter 6 Rise and Fall of the Giant (Part 2)
Chapter 7 New Beginning
Chapter 8 Pohjanmaa VS. Savo(nia), round 2
Chapter 9 Like Father, Like Son
Chapter 10 Victory and Heartbreak
Chapter 11 Confrontation
Chapter 12 Visiting Viena
Chapter 13 Securing the Hegemony
Chapter 14 Allies, Banners and a Realized Dream
Chapter 15 Crown and Grudge
Chapter 16 Stone Walls and Duels
Chapter 17 Lessons Learnt...
Chapter 18 The Mess That Is Bjarmia (Part 1)
Chapter 19 The Mess That Is Bjarmia (Part 2)
Chapter 19.5 Side Story: Nabtiko
Chapter 20 Kingly Negotiations
Interregnum
Chapter 21 Haunting Memories and a Dragged Out War
Chapter 22 Hero's Tributaries
Chapter 23 Deaths and Legends
Chapter 24 Wolverine, Wolf and Fox
Chapter 25 Grandchildren and Kings
Chapter 26 A Journey of Legends (Part 1)
Chapter 27 A Journey of Legends (Part 2)
Chapter 28 The Ones They Leave Behind
Chapter 29 The Right Opportunities
Chapter 30 Long Live the Kings
Chapter 31 Vultures Over Kiev
Chapter 32 Warfare and Loggers

Chapter 33 A War on the Field and a War in the Shadows
Chapter 34 The Great Bear
Chapter 35 Final Legacy
Chapter 36 Civil War and Plotters
Chapter 37 Traitors and the Mill of Fortune
Chapter 38 Armored Chariot, Coins and an Ambitious King
Chapter 39 Long Live the (Ambitious) King!
 
Last edited:

coz1

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Good luck and welcome to AAR writing! It's a fun adventure. :)
 

stnylan

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Welcome to AAR writing.
 

Keizaal

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Prologue

Homecoming

"How long has it been?" he thought to himself. "Twenty? No, twenty-one years. That's how long it has been." He began to see the shore from the deck, but could not yet make out the small fishing village to which the merchant ship was headed. "Just a little while longer and I'm home," he thought. But would it really be home for him? After all, he had been gone for so long that probably even half of the people in his old home town won't recognize him. He shook his head after a wave crashed to the side of the ship, spraying sea water to his face. "No need to worry about such things now. I'll see soon enough for myself if anything has changed in that small town".

Jalo had left home when he was 12 years old. He was the eldest child of his parents, and the only one left. His mother died when giving birth to his little sister, whom also didn't survive the ordeal. His father followed her a few years later after he had gotten too drunk during the harvest festival one year and had drowned in a river. After that his paternal uncle took the house and began raising Jalo and his last sibling, his brother Ahma, as his own. Jalo never liked the man and after his little brother died of fever a couple years later Jalo decided that there was nothing left for him in that place and joined a passing traveling merchant as an apprentice. At age 17 Jalo decided to join a mercenary company. Being the giant of a man that he is it was not hard to find employment in his new field of choice. He was already as tall as most adults when he left home and had only kept on growing since.

During his time as a mercenary Jalo became greatly interested in books. His native language didn't have a written form and but he learned to speak and read Latin and a word or few from couple other more common languages of Europe. As he learned he began to see the potential that writing had. Legends, laws, deals and many other things could be written down for generations to learn without having someone to memorize it all and then lose it all if the memorizer suddenly died without anyone else having memorized the stories. During the last years as a mercenary Jalo even tried to create a written form for his native language, but what could one man really accomplish, especially when it had been almost two decades by then that he had been home or seen or spoken to someone from his homeland.

A year ago the leader of the mercenary company had died and soon the company was split in three when the commanders of the company couldn't decide on who would lead them now. The largest of the three, the one which Jalo decided to stay with, headed to East Francia as they were hired there for a few years to help keep Norse raiders away from the northern coast. Once there a merchant also requested from them to help guard his ships when they are sailing the Baltic Sea to trade with the various peoples there. Jalo eagerly joined one of those ships, smallest of the small fleet, where he was stationed as the only one from the mercenary company. Once onboard he befriended the crew and told them that he had planned to stay home when the ship gets there. It took a bit of convincing and bribing to get the crew to agree to tell the rest of the company that he had died during the voyage, fallen overboard during a storm.

And now, he finally set foot on his homeland after twenty-one years. It was still morning and it would take him until early afternoon by foot from this small fishing village that also acted as a trade post to his small hometown. Though calling it even a small town after all he had seen could be seen as an overstatement. The place barely had a thousand people living there when he left all those years ago, but it was also the home place for the High Chief of the region and thus the most important settlement in the area.

When Jalo finally got there he saw that the place was... quiet. No merchants yelling and selling their wares, even the local blacksmith was quiet. No banging of hammer against anvil, nothing. All he could hear was some people talking to each other on the street and the various animals making their way through town from one place to another. "That's odd. Usually there is at least something going on during the day," he thought to himself. He received some curious stares as he made his way to the house he had called home before he had left. Once there he saw that it was in disrepair. It had been empty for at least a few years it seemed, but the great silver birch was still standing there, just a few steps away from the house. It had already been a fully grown tree during his grandfathers time and it was still going strong.

Inside the house looked a bit better than the outside, but not much. But it will do for now. "At least I'll have a roof over my head tonight and walls to shield me from the wind," he thought. Once he had gotten settled, Jalo left to take a walk and try to find someone to tell him what was going on in the town and where his uncle was.

He eventually found himself in the local tavern (once again, thinking that calling it a tavern would be an overstatement after all he had seen in the South during his mercenary days) talking with some of the local people and offering them drinks to "loosen their lips" like some would say. But there wasn't really much going on that would need lip loosening. The town was so quiet because the young High Chief had died a couple weeks ago and without any children or living relatives at all, so there was no High Chief at the moment in Pohjanmaa, and people were anxious, maybe even a little fearful, about the future. Getting information about his uncle was a tad more difficult, since not many people necessarily knew him or his family. From what he could gather Jalos' eldest cousin died when the High Chief had gone raiding the other tribes some ten years ago, third eldest, the only daughter, died from an unknown illness about a year later, the second eldest died when he fell off a cliff when hunting around 5 years ago and his uncles wife left him with their youngest soon after. His uncle himself disappeared some three or four years ago when hunting and his body was never found. The family house has been standing abandoned ever since.

Despite the gloomy atmosphere in the town, that night at the tavern was one of merriment, as people were drinking and eating and Jalo more than happily shared his stories from his mercenary days, and let people wonder his height and strength. A few days later Jalo woke to a knock on his door. When he went to the door there was an old man that he didn't know with a couple other men that seemed like guards of the old High Chief with their spears, shields and axes. Now, Jalo didn't know who the old man was, but he did know what he was. He was the tietäjä of the High Chief, that much was evident from his clothing, staff and his very demeanor.

"May I come in?" the old man asked.
"Sure. Come in, come in," Jalo replied.
The old man thanked and walked inside whilst slightly leaning on his staff. He sat down at the table whilst Jalo brought some bread for the two of them.
"Sit down young man, it aches my old bones just watching you younglings go about your business", the old man said while gesturing for Jalo to sit down at the table across from him.
"What brings the tietäjä of the former High Chief in to my humble home this early in the morning?" he asked as he was sitting down. "I haven't broken any laws since I got here, at least none that I know of", he continued.
"No need to worry about that. You are not in any trouble", the old man replied. "Unless you are not who you claim to be." He took a hard look at Jalo after that. "You are a man named Jalo, yes?" the old man then asked.
"Yes. And as far as I know I have always been."
"Then what about your brother? What was his name?"
"Ahma."
"And your father?"
"His name was Lalli. He drowned in a river when I was ten."
"What about your sister, what was her name?"
"She didn't have a name, she was born dead as far as I know. My mother died when giving birth to her."
"And what was your mother's name?"
"Helmi."
The old man thought for a while before speaking again. "Yes, you would indeed seem to be the man you claim to be and thus, have the right to live in this house." The old man stood up and continued: "There were some concerned townsfolk when they saw or heard that a giant of a man had suddenly appeared in town and was now living in the abandoned house next to the great birch tree. So they came to me with their concerns, seeing as I am now the authority here until we find a new High Chief." The old man had started to walk towards the door when he turned around and asked: "Would you happen to remember the names of your mother's parents?"
"I think they were Tommo and Marja" Jalo answered after thinking and trying to remember them. He had never had much to do with his grandparents from his mothers' side, with what him having been very young when they passed away.
"Yes, those were their names", the old man replied. "Helmi, daughter of Tommo", he sighed. "Come with me" the old man almost shouted. Jalo was confused about what was going on but decided to follow the old tietäjä anyways to perhaps make some sense of the situation. As they got outside the old man ordered the two guards to follow them. The old man didn't seem so old anymore, as he walked with normal pace compared to the near crawl that he walked inside the house.

Soon Jalo realized they were walking towards the High Chiefs house that stood up on the earth mound just outside of town. A small fort it was, but nothing compared to the castles of the South that he had both defended and sieged. The old man's pace didn't slow even at the steps leading up the mound to the fort. When inside the old man turned around and asked: "Do you know who you are?" Before Jalo could answer anything, the old tietäjä continued "I know that you think you do, but you don't know everything. I know now for certain that your mother was Helmi, daughter of Tommo. She was a second cousin to the father of our late High Chief. And thus that makes you the last known relative of our High Chiefs."

Jalo stood there, dumbfounded, unable to utter a word.
 

terr0rizm

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Looking good already. I'm curious about Jalo's first steps. Consider me subbed.
 

Keizaal

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Chapter 1

First War and Books

FrNHsCO.jpg

The starting position and starting character, High Chief Jalo of Pohjanmaa. (The only screenshot I've remembered to take so far :oops:)

It had been a few months since the old tietäjä, who later introduced himself as Kuuti, had declared Jalo as the sole remaining relative of the old High Chiefs of Pohjanmaa. In the eyes of many, this was enough to make him the new High Chief. It also didn't hurt that he was a former mercenary and thus an experienced soldier and commander, according to his tales of his past.

But this was not what Jalo had planned when he returned home. At most he might have tried to find work as a guard in the High Chiefs army, not become the High Chief. All this responsibility weighed on his shoulders heavily, and people could easily see that he was stressed day and night. There were few things that helped with his stress, one of them was talking to this young woman who worked at the tavern where he had went on the day he returned. Sohvi she was named, and she was the niece of the tavern owner. Near every night Jalo would go to the tavern to speak with the townsfolk, but the most time he would spend with Sohvi, speaking this and that. She was a smart woman and diligent, wasted working in a tavern as Jalo would put it. Despite the age difference of sixteen years between the two of them, they were drawn to one another and soon married.

Duty would not sleep however, and soon Jalo declared war upon his neighbors in Savo. The Savonians had been emboldened with the absence of a High Chief and had been raiding a lot of settlements in Pohjanmaa. Jalo had decided to make them pay back what they had taken and force them to pay tribute to him, as the Savonians themselves hadn't had a High Chief for a long time. None of their chiefs were considered worthy enough to be called such for long time, but their current Chief, Mielus of Savo, had been able to unite the Savonian tribes and was aiming to become a High Chief. As Jalo had gathered his troops in Pohjanmaa and was starting his march east towards Savo, a messenger arrived. From his dialect it was obvious he was Savonian. He said that he came ahead of his Chief to tell Jalo that there would be no need for bloodshed, as he would agree to pay tribute to the High Chief. Some of the commanders considered this a trap, including the marshal, Pyry, to delay them from reaching Savo, but Jalo decided to wait. And sure enough, three days later Chief Mielus of Savo arrived and offered his surrender and to pay tribute to the High Chief of Pohjanmaa. Apparently all their raiding had taken its toll and they would have been too badly outnumbered if it came to battle, so he decided it would be better to just not fight at all.

And just like that, in little over a week, High Chief Jalo had made the Savonians pay tribute to him without shedding a single drop of blood. To many this was a sign that Jalo was the right choice as a new High Chief, since he could defeat his enemies without even having to fight them. But Jalo didn't think that way. He just thought he had simply gotten lucky. In his mind he still needed to prove himself on the battlefield somehow.

There were a few pastimes that helped Jalo get his mind off the stressful things in his life, and one of them was reading. Now, getting your hands on a book in a land the language of which has no written form could be... well, really, really difficult. But ever the bookworm, Jalo had asked that a merchant who had sailed to port some months ago should try to bring a learned man with him the next time he came to trade in their lands, and he would be rewarded. That time was now. The merchant had returned and with him was a young man. Jalo had come to meet them and was a little perplexed. How could a young man, who looked like he wasn't even twenty, be considered a learned man? The merchant explained that none of the older folk were willing to leave, either citing their old age or families or general lack of interest in traveling North as reasons not to leave with him. But this young man was more than eager to go. Apparently he was eager to learn about the nature of the North and of its people. He also knew how to speak and write Latin fluently, so communication wasn't an issue, at least with Jalo. Satisfied with whom the merchant had brought, Jalo decided to reward the merchant as promised.

As Jalo stroke up a conversation with the young man, who turned out to be a German named Amalric, it was evident he was indeed fluent in Latin and rather wise too for his age. Jalo told him what his goal was with bringing him here: to help him to create a written form for his native language, something which he had tried before some years ago when a mercenary, but wasn't really all that successful at. Amalric first looked a little panicked, but then clearly started thinking of ways to accomplish this task. They agreed that Amalric would first try to learn some Finnish from the first book that Jalo had attempted to create, and go from there, since Jalo was still in possession of said book.

With Jalos' help after a few weeks Amalric seemed to have a basic grasp of some of the Finnish language. Jalo was feeling great after a long time and maybe even stress free. As he was walking through the market one day when returning to his fort, he noticed something interesting. There was a merchant in the marketplace whom he hadn't seen before. And he was selling wood carvings. "Art of our people", Jalo thought, remembering all the paintings and statues he had seen in the south. He talked to the merchant a bit, and commissioned something from the man. The craftsman promised it would be finished by next summer, as it would be different and bigger from what he usually made. Jalo said that it's fine, as long as it gets done. Jalo then turned around and continued to walk towards his fort, feeling good about himself. What the carving would look like was a part of a dream he had had not too long ago. But he had planned to make that dream a reality in more than just as a wooden carving to prove that he was indeed the right choice as the High Chief.
 

Keizaal

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Thank you everyone for the warm welcome. I might post the next chapter some time in the weekend, since I'll be going out of town for a couple of days, but I will take my notes with me and see if I can work on future chapters while I'm away.
And it was the first time ever for me that the one I declared tributary war on just keeled over and surrendered before I had managed to even gather all of my army in one place. But it makes for a good story. Not all wars need to be bloody :D
 

champion0

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Ooh it's narrative! That's what I love to see.
Finland isn't exactly a military or economic powerhouse, so I'm curious whether you intend to change that over time or migrate somewhere with more wealth and holdings...! Sweden or Russia perhaps?

That all said, you've decided to jump in with a... very average character. So I'm interested, because that's quite mundane, and set in a mundane part of the world, and not exactly typical of AAR's. Hell, I've subbed. Looking forward to more.
 

stnylan

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Quite the homecoming indeed. Imagine that, going back home for a relatively quiet life to be thrust into leadership.
 

alscon

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A nice beginning. Jalo has humble goals, but if he manages to create his written language, then he's in an excellent position to take leadership of the Finns, not just militarily, but also culturally.
 

Narvait

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“You know nothing, Jalo!” :)

Some Jon Snow reference was necessary to celebrate the last season of GoT...
 

HistoryDude

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Subbed!
I’m interested in how you would reform Suomenusko.
 

Keizaal

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(NOTE: For story's sake I'm calling the High Chiefdom of Finland/Satakunta [d_finland] the High Chiefdom of Häme to better represent the "four main tribes of Finland", namely Häme/Tavastia, Pohjanmaa/Ostrobotnia, Savo/Savonia and Karjala/Karelia)

Chapter 2

Victory, Family and Mother Bear

High Chief Jalo was inspecting his troops before the battle. The enemy's forces were on the other side of the meadow, readying for the battle themselves. It had been a few months since Jalo declared this war to subjugate High Chief Ihala II of Häme. Jalo had already taken the region of Satakunta and marched to south-western Finland, expecting to meet the fellow High Chiefs' forces there, but then his scouts reported to him that Ihala had sneaked around from the east, through the lands of Chief Mielus of Karjaa (not to be confused with Chief Mielus of Savo), and were reconquering the lands in Satakunta. This would be a problem, since they would be cut off from Pohjanmaa and potential reinforcements and supplies. This would not do, since feeding an army of some 2000 soldiers in the early spring just from foraging would be too difficult. And so Jalo gave the order to circle back and to go and face High Chief Ihala II in Satakunta.

Jalo also wanted to end this war as soon as possible for another reason. Soon after he had started to prepare for the war his wife Sohvi had asked to speak with him later. That night Sohvi had told him that she was pregnant and that the baby would probably be born in mid to late spring. Jalo was elated at the news and promised her that he would be back in time for their firstborns birth. And now, it was already early spring. Rainy weather and warm spring caused early floods that had made Satakunta more difficult to conquer than Jalo had first anticipated and now having had to circle back from south to face the enemy back here in Satakunta had delayed them even more. He had promised his wife he would be back before she gives birth to be there with her and he also didn't want to keep his men from their farms and jobs for too long or the year's harvest would suffer. So he had to make this battle decisive.

Jalo had the numerical advantage pretty much 3 to 2, but that alone would not guarantee victory. He had also been training his men in some of the ways the Southern armies fight. Tactics, formations, anything he could try to pound into their heads to give them an advantage over their enemies. And such a clearing was almost perfect for his style of fighting, instead of the more primitive "charge the enemy with all you've got"-approach his enemy would most likely use. In the forests such tactics would be more effective, since he wouldn't really be able to make formations there and battles would be more like small skirmishes happening all over the place. Jalo was riding down the line of his men one last time reminding them that they were not to charge until given such order, and let their archers rain death on the charging enemies and let the ones remaining break their charge against their shields. He knew that his men were under-trained for such tactics, as they were no professional soldiers, but he also knew that they would do as they're told. He had assured them that this would be their victory if they follow his orders.

And soon the enemy charged. Many of them died from the arrows, but not so many that they would slow down or begin to hesitate. Then they hit the shield wall of Jalos' troops. And their momentum stopped. Some of the archers moved to the right flank of the enemy without them noticing before it was too late, and began to pelt the enemy with arrows from their sides. Then Jalo charged to the enemies' left flank with his personal guard. This soon broke the enemy and they began to retreat. Then Jalo ordered his whole army to charge after the retreating enemy army.

After the battle High Chief Jalo was inspecting the battlefield. The dead seem to mostly be enemies, with maybe every one in ten being his men. Then he heard someone shouting for him or one of the commanders to come over. When he got there, one of his commanders was already there. There was a body of an enemy commander on the ground, with a grievous axe wound on his neck. It was Voitto of South-Western Finland, a Chief under High Chief Ihala II. The best commander the enemy had was lying dead with almost a thousand of his fellow warriors. Soon after the battle of Satakunta High Chief Ihala II of Häme surrendered and High Chief Jalo of Pohjanmaa became the High Chief of Pohjanmaa and Häme.

When Jalo finally returned home with his army he was glad to see that Sohvi was still pregnant and had not given birth to their child yet. Sohvi went to labor just a few days later though, and gave birth to a healthy girl who was named Ilta, since she was born in the evening. Her birth, and the victorious war, was celebrated that night in the big hall of the fort. During the celebration many noticed that there was a new young woman by High Chief Jalos side. It was the widower of Chief Voitto, Helmi, whom Jalo had taken as a concubine. "Spoils of war" some would say, whilst some rumors said that she asked to join Jalo in Pohjanmaa herself, as she had never liked the previous High Chief of Häme and was afraid she would be taken as a concubine by "that drunkard" as she called him. Later that same year, both wife and concubine were pregnant and Jalo decided that this occasion deserved celebration. So, during the next harvest festival his wife Sohvi was chosen to play the role of Akka, the goddess of fertility.

During the festival Jalo searched the marketplace for the merchant who was selling wooden carvings last year and soon found him. Jalo greeted the man, who then told him that he had just returned from taking the big wooden carving to the High Chiefs' fort. Jalo then thanked him and told him to come by later that day for his payment. During his search for the merchant, Jalo noticed that there were unusually many foreign merchants trading their wares at the town marketplace, so Jalo decided to take the chance to buy something nice from faraway lands for both his wife and concubine, whom both had begun to get worried about whether their simultaneous pregnancies were a good or a bad omen. While there he asked some of the merchants about anything major happening in the South. One of the merchants told him that the nomadic Magyars had settled in the Carpathian basin and founded a new kingdom there called Hungary a few years ago. Another told him that just earlier that same year, 869 AD, King Ivar the Boneless of Suðreyjar, one of the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok had converted to Christianity. This was big news all around the Christendom, since Ivar was one of the leaders of the Invasion of England by the sons of Ragnar.

When he returned to his fort, Jalo went right away to find the wooden carving. It was placed in the big hall, between the two fireplaces on the left wall from the door. It was just as he had imagined it would turn out to be. Four men, each representing one of the tribes of Finns, namely Pohjanmaa, Savo, Karelia and Häme respectively, kneeling and offering gifts to a fifth man, standing in front of them. Jalo was happy with the result. This ambition would certainly prove him as a worthy man, and he was already High Chief to two of the four tribes. The wooden carving was indeed big, as the merchant had said, as tall as him. And that was something. Jalo had still continued to grow, though it had slowed somewhat, but the pains were still there. And it felt like the pains had gotten worse the more his growth slowed. He had also considered doing some work on the fort, since he has to lower his head at every door and he thinks it is embarrassing. A man of his stature needs a house fitting of his size. But that would have to wait until he manages to gather the resources necessary for the "refitting" of his fort.

Early next year Helmi was the first to go to labor. After what had seemed like an eternity, while in truth it was just one night, she had given birth to a healthy son. Jalo decided on the spot to name him Ahma, after his late younger brother and to also hope to give the ferocity of the namesake animal to his son. Just a week later it was Sohvis' turn to go in to labor and she gave birth to another daughter, who was named Aamu, since she was born early in the morning.

These happy news were however soon shadowed by unfortunate ones that spring. Amalric, the German man Jalo had hired to help him in writing his book about Finnish language, had died in the woods. Amalric had a habit of going to the woods to study the nature of the North when he wasn't working on the book. This time he was really unlucky on his trip though, as he had apparently run into a mother bear and her cubs and the bear had attacked him and mauled him badly. Later that day when the hunters found him he was barely alive. Luckily one of the hunters was able to understand some of the words that Amalric spoke as he had taught the German about the forests a few times, and could make out the words "mother bear" and "attacked". The hunters tried to rush him back to the town, but he finally passed on the way there. This was bad news, since Amalric had even been able to teach two other men to read and write to help him in the bookmaking, and Jalo wouldn't find someone like him to work on the book easily. So, Jalo did the only thing he thought would guarantee that his book would become as good as he had hoped it to become. He would take a much more active role in the making of his book to make up for Amalrics' absence.
 

Keizaal

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And here's chapter 2 on the weekend as promised. Now the next chapters might take a while since during my time away I didn't get to work on them nearly as much as I had liked to despite having my notes with me, so bear with me. And yes, it's only around 869/870 when chapter 2 ends. Seriously, I didn't even realise so much stuff happened in the first years of the campaign until I started writing these. But the few following chapters should span a bit of a longer time span since things quieted down for a few years with only one or two notable events happening per year for a while.

And I know I'm using the Finnish and English versions for the High Chiefdoms here. Here's a bit of my reasoning for those wondering/interested:
I prefer to use Pohjanmaa since Ostrobotnia is a Swedish influenced name (from Österbotten) as is Tavastia for Häme (Swedish: Tavastland). Savonia and Karelia however are so close to the Finnish Savo and Karjala that I'd prefer to use them for the ease of reading, since the AAR is in English.

@champion0 I'm planning on staying in Finland rather than migrating for now, but if I manage to create a large realm I might change the capital to a more central location as empires sometimes did.

@HistoryDude I have a few ideas on how to reform the faith, but I'm thinking of leaving at least one doctrine up for a poll with the options being doctrines that would some what relate to what the old finnic pagan religions were like.
 

Idhrendur

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This is definitely a solid AAR. Don't worry about taking time to get the various chapters out.
 

stnylan

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Well, the bear clearly didn't like his translations.
 

alscon

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Voitto can't have been such a good commander after all if he followed the "charge with all you've got"-approach and died in the attempt :p. Well, Jalo's political ambitions are well on their way, even if there's been a setback in his cultural one.

And don't worry, as long as you update the AAR at the pace that works for you, it works for us readers as well :).
 

Keizaal

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Chapter 3

Widow and Giant

Jalo was beyond consolation as he walked towards the graveyard. Beside him walked his eldest, Ilta, and he himself was carrying his two other children, Ahma and Aamu. Behind him came his concubine, Helmi, and in front of him were four of his men, carrying a wooden casket. In the casket was his wife, Sohvi. She had collapsed in the marketplace a few days prior, and despite the tietäjäs best efforts, she had passed away soon after.

Sohvi had been sickly as a child, but the sickness seemed to have left her before she was ten. She had never been the picture of top health even after that though, but still able to live a normal life. Her pregnancies however seemed to have brought the sickness back and this time, it hit far worse than ever as a child. She had collapsed once before after she had given birth to Ilta, which ultimately led her to tell Jalo about her sickly childhood. They didn't think much of it though, since it didn't come back again after that and she was an adult now, and she should be strong enough to handle whatever comes her way. "Oh, how foolish we were believing that", Jalo thought to himself as his wife was being lowered to her grave.

A month later Jalo decided to go raiding some of his neighboring tribes. He needed to get his mind off things and while writing his book did help with that, he just couldn't bear to be home right now. Not without her. And so he took his most seasoned men and first headed north to the lands of the Sami and then east to Karelian lands. Whilst on his way back from east and setting up camp for the night Jalo saw a group of warriors approach who didn't seem to be affiliated with any tribe. Nothing to mark them from any tribe, no painted banners, no fur banners like his six ermine furs of Pohjanmaa and lynx fur of Häme. He hailed them from a distance, and told his men to prepare in case they were bandits. But the group hailed them back, and asked if they could join Jalos' camp for the night. The men introduced themselves as Followers of Otso, a warrior lodge for the people of the northern tribes, such as Sami, Komi, Finn, Nenets and many more. That night the men shared many a story among each other. Then Jalo expressed his interest in possibly joining them. He thought that this would certainly help him get his mind off things and would take him away from home from time to time, without having to risk his men's lives in raids. The leader of this group, Chief Baeivi of Finnmark , who was a hero of the Followers of Otso said that if he wanted to join he would have to fight one of their own. Jalo stood up and said that he would agree to the match. As soon as he stood, a man from the Followers stood up and said "Mind if I take this one?" The man was Uoti, leader of a mercenary group known as the Finnish Band, and was a veteran of the Followers. No one objected and soon the two men were given staffs to fight with. Jalo had the advantage in size and strength, but Uoti had the experience. He was barely fifty and had apparently been the leader of the mercenary group for nearly twenty years. The two were evenly matched in their fight, neither managing to hit the other as their hits would always either miss or be blocked or dodged. Until finally Jalo managed to hit Uoti with a good thrust to the chest, making Uoti fall flat on his back. Jalo had won his duel against a veteran of the Followers of Otso and was welcomed to the warrior lodge. Soon after returning home Jalo began to suffer from food poisoning, but thankfully it passed quickly. "Must have been something that I ate during the raids", he thought.

Few years later Jalo was still working on his book when his three year old son Ahma came in to his study asking to play. Reluctant to leave his work, but thinking that he needed the break, he decided to go play with him, and his new toy he had gotten for his birthday. A wooden sword modeled after Jalos', which he had gotten as a mercenary. "The man sure is worthy of his reputation and pay" he thought. The wooden sword was made by the same man who had made the large wooden carving for him. Later that day Jalos' chancellor Satatieto came in with news regarding Chief Mielus of Savo, his tributary. Apparently Mielus had seized an opportunity to conquer some lands in the south after Chief Mielus of Karjaa had lost the region of Uusimaa to king Rurik of Holmgarðr, who were now calling the region Nyland. Seeing how Mielus of Karjaa had lost nearly all his soldiers in the war, Chief Mielus of Savo decided to conquer the lands of Häme and Karjaa to grow his domain. This didn't alarm Jalo in the slightest. He would still outnumber the Savonians almost three to one if Mielus started acting too uppity, and if he did, he would just conquer all his lands this time instead of just making him pay tribute.

The night was clear and the great bonfire burned brightly and warmly. Jalo was in a grand meeting of the Followers of Otso. All the four Heroes were there, and many warriors, veterans and fledglings like him. In this meeting many of the members were being recognized for their efforts and would rise in rank in the lodge. The hero who had welcomed him in the lodge, Baeivi, had died and a new one was promoted to his position earlier that night from among the veterans. This new hero, Chief Pudak of Zavarot , was now speaking. "We have had many recruits along the years, but one has really stood out from among the rest lately. He has raided his Norse neighbors many times, even learning from them a little and taking his boats to raid their holdings in the southern Baltic Sea, in the lands called Pomerania, and even taken some Slavs as prisoners! He even dueled a warrior of the Band of Medeina, and cost her an eye in the process. She later swore revenge, but what can she hope to do against the man who easily beat her and took her eye?!" He then pointed towards Jalo and continued: "You have shown great skill and bravery, and thus we are honored to call you a warrior, Jalo 'the Giant'!".
 

stnylan

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A sad time, but there are certainly far worse epithets than that! :D