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Chapter 4


It was done! Finally, after almost seven years, the book was finished. Jalo felt great satisfaction after he read through the final version of the book. "The Finnish Language" it was called. It contained the Finnish alphabet, based on the Latin one, and the basics of the (complex) Finnish grammar and even a long list of the most common Finnish words and sayings. Jalo knew that the book wouldn't immediately make all the people adopt the written language, but in time, chiefs and merchants would certainly be the first ones to use it to write up the laws of the land and to have written proof of both trade and peace deals. Sometimes, half-jokingly, he called the book "Volume 2" since it was his second attempt at it. He even added a written thank you for Amalric at the end of the book for his invaluable aid in making his dream a reality, and that he hoped that maybe one day either he or his descendants document the nature of the North in a book as Amalric had hoped to do.

Some more good news soon followed when his concubine Helmi told him that she was pregnant again. Jalo was in an elated mood from finishing his book and now his concubine being pregnant again that he decided to do what he had thought about for a while now. He officially made Helmi his wife. Around the same time Jalo finally had the resources to make the upgrades to his fort that he had wanted to make for years: higher doorways, higher ceiling in all rooms, a proper wooden palisade around the fort. Maybe even add a few rooms to the High Chiefs house within the fort. But since these renovations would take a lot resources Jalo decided that he would need a better source of income than just raiding. And thus, a few months after the renovations started he declared war on Chief Kaleva of Rovaniemi to make him pay tribute.

While on their way north Jalo was talking with one of his senior officers. The conversation eventually goes to talks about what to do after the war. The officer mentioned that he has considered retiring after this war to take up his father-in-laws offer to work as a baker when they get back. The man asks Jalo what does he plan to do after the war, especially now that his "little" project of writing a book was finished. Jalo thought for a while and then answered: "I want to improve the organization of my armies and their logistics. We are still a far cry from how well the Southern armies are organized and supplied, but we are getting there. At least we are far more organized than most around the North, the one most comparable maybe being the Rus to our south-east." The officer nodded, not all that surprised by the answer of his High Chief. A few weeks later the armies of High Chief Jalo and Chief Kaleva fought in the battle of Kainuu. It was a crushing defeat for Chief Kaleva, as he lost nearly half of his soldiers. Just a month later all of his lands were occupied and he was forced to surrender and agree to pay tribute to High Chief Jalo of Pohjanmaa and Häme.

When he returned home with his army Jalo noticed that the renovations to his fort were finished. Helmi had also given birth during the time he was away, something he regretted because he couldn't be there with her, but she had not given birth to just one child, but to twin girls. They had not yet been given names, because Helmi wanted Jalo to be the one to name them, like he had named all his children. She did a have a couple of ideas though, and she shared them with him and he agreed to these names. The girls would be named Tuulitar and Ilmatar, both names relating to wind and air since it was a stormy day when the girls were born.

The next year as Jalo was hosting the Ukon Juhla in his town and fort, he made a declaration to all his fellow people there and to his vassals. He declared that later that year he would go to war against High Chief Tuure of Karelia. He had begun to see his fellow High Chief as a threat after he had finally brought southern Karelia, namely the lands of Joensuu, Sortavala and Käkisalmi, under the fold and now controlled as much land in eastern Finland as he himself did in the west, with only his tributary of Savo between the two High Chiefs. This would certainly be a war to decide the fate of all Finnish tribes, as the two large High Chiefdoms would wage war on one another.
I was gonna post chapter 4 on sunday or monday but life kept getting in the way so here it is, finally. A bit short this time as I thought cutting it where I did would fit best and not make the next chapter too short, as I also cut that at a certain point to keep the flow of the story better. Now the next chapters are going to be a two-parter, as in chapter 5 is part 1 and chapter 6 is part 2, so I'm thinking of posting them both over the weekend. Don't want to keep people in too much suspense :p

Also, a quick question to the more exprerienced AAR writers here (so, to maybe like 99% of you all here): How do I make a proper table of contents? Is it made with the threadmark label or something else? I've never actually seen this discussed in any other AAR that I've read myself.
I was gonna post chapter 4 on sunday or monday but life kept getting in the way so here it is, finally. A bit short this time as I thought cutting it where I did would fit best and not make the next chapter too short, as I also cut that at a certain point to keep the flow of the story better. Now the next chapters are going to be a two-parter, as in chapter 5 is part 1 and chapter 6 is part 2, so I'm thinking of posting them both over the weekend. Don't want to keep people in too much suspense :p

Also, a quick question to the more exprerienced AAR writers here (so, to maybe like 99% of you all here): How do I make a proper table of contents? Is it made with the threadmark label or something else? I've never actually seen this discussed in any other AAR that I've read myself.

I’m not really an AAR writer (yet),but threadmarks can be used to create a table of contents or you could link each individual post in a Table of Contents in the first post.
Threadmarks are the easiest way, but you can also link each post in a list. The bottom-right of each post has a number which doubles as a link to the post. Right- click it and copy the link, and you can add the link to the ToC.
No worries about the delay
Chapter 5

Rise and Fall of the Giant (Part 1)

Jalo was confident that he will win this war of subjugation against the Karelians. After all, not only did he have his own army but those of his tributaries of Savo and Rovaniemi too. When put together this army would number over 3000 men, whilst Karelians numbered little over 2000. But before all Jalos' allies could join him the Karelians arrived in Kainuu and a battle was inevitable. Jalo knew that his tactic of outflanking the enemy with archers and then charging from the other flank wouldn't work this time like it had before. The two armies were just too big for that, and Kainuu was a heavily forested region, meaning there wouldn't be much space for maneuvering. Besides, he didn't have all 3000 thousand men present yet, he only had his own and Savonian troops numbering around 2700. The battle would be quite even unless Chief Kaleva of Rovaniemi would arrive to tip the scales to Jalos clear favor. So, Jalo sent a messenger to meet Kaleva on the way and to tell him of the situation and of his plan and to hurry so they could crush the Karelian army here and now so the war doesn't drag on for too long.

Few days later High Chief Tuure of Karelia was ready to battle and he started to readying his troops. There would be no clever tactics or maneuvers this time, just pure battle in the forest, Jalo knew that. But he had taught his men to try stick as close to your comrades as possible and not wander off seeking for glory or charge on your own. Stick with your group, watch each other's backs and you will survive. Then the battle started. Some arrows reached them, most of them hitting their shields, but even more had hit the trees on their way and never even reached them. "A desperate volley in an attempt to thin our numbers before a charge" Jalo thought. Archers could be useful in a forest, yes, but not in this way. They would have fire from lot closer than usual to be sure to hit a man and not a tree than what they would have to be in the open. Jalo knew this, and he's sure Tuure knew it too. After all, the man who united whole of Karelia couldn't be such a fool. "A desperate attempt to thin our numbers and to perhaps make himself seem like a simpleton so we might take him too lightly" he thought later.

Jalo then ordered his men to charge and to keep their shields up, since there could be more arrows coming. Jalo was advancing with his own personal guard and they were making good progress through the enemy, felling them left and right and front. Then they were felling them in the back too. "Oh no, we've gone too far from the rest of the army" he thought. "We have to rejoin them." He ordered his guard to fall back to where the rest of his army was fighting, and they managed it. The battle was a pretty back and forth affair. When Jalo tried to have his archers sneak to the side of the enemy to get a better shot at them they ran into Tuures' archers who were trying to do the same thing, and a ranged battle ensued between the two archer groups. And like that both armies were without archers on the main battlefield. Then suddenly it seemed like the Karelians were fighting someone behind them. It was Chief Kaleva, and he had finally arrived with his 500 soldiers to join the battlefield. He had charged the Karelians from the back like Jalo had planned. "Thank the gods my scouts made it to him, this battle could've gone either way otherwise." The Karelians were taken completely by surprise and soon after Kalevas' charge began they began to retreat. The enemy losses were almost a thousand men thanks to the surprise attack, whilst Jalos army had lost a couple hundred soldiers.

After the battle Jalo went to meet Chief Kaleva and thanked him for his timely arrival.
"If not for you and your men's arrival the battle could've gone either way", he said.
"I arrived as soon as I could but the forest made it difficult to make sure we were behind them," Kaleva replied. "But once we were, it was quick. Almost all my men managed to cut down at least a single enemy before they fled."
Jalo sighed. It was sad that his dream of unifying the Finnish tribes would have to come through bloodshed. But alas, it was something no one had truly attempted before so they couldn't really imagine it the way he did or understand what was the point of it. "It has always been this way, why should it change", was a phrase he had heard too often when he answered questions about why he waged all these wars. "Maybe so, but times are also changing, and so should we. We need to stand united and strong if we are to withstand our warlike Norse neighbors", Jalo thought. The Norse in Holmgarðr had already taken a piece of Finnish land in the south, now calling it Nyland. Jalo had sworn to himself that the Rus would be made to leave those shores one day. But that day would have to wait, since he doesn't have enough men to wage war against them quite yet.

A month later as Jalo was leaving from Viena after taking hold of the region some reinforcements from Pohjanmaa arrived to replace at least some of the men lost in the battle of Kainuu. But with them came grave news. They told Jalo how his marshal Pyry, who had been left in Pohjanmaa to recruit and train reinforcements, had been using soldiers that he had trained, and even some of the soldiers from the forts garrison, to extort goods from the local populace. Jalo was outraged. Apparently Pyry had been sending mostly sub-par soldiers to him and keeping skilled and those loyal to him and training them to become his personal soldiers. He couldn't let it stand. But he also wouldn't be able to anything right now, since what the newly arrived soldiers told him, Pyry had almost as many loyal soldiers to him as there were garrisoned at the fort. And even their loyalty was questionable since some had joined Pyry. Jalo would have to wait until he returns home from the war to deal with Pyry, or he might put his family at risk.
Very decent battle description!
Might steal an idea or two for my own (future) AARs :)
Always nice to win a battle
Chapter 6

Rise and Fall of the Giant (part 2)

It was a brisk spring morning. Jalo, along with a few of his guards, stood in front of the great cup-marked stone that loomed over them. Nearly twice as tall as he was, it had cracked in half in such a way that it created natural stairs to reach the top. It was believed that it had cracked when the ancient giants either dropped or threw it, for reasons now unknown. Nowadays it was a sacred stone and the cup-marks on top of the stone are often used for sacrifices to the gods and spirits, such as leaving grain for better harvest or sometimes people drink the rainwater from the cups as such water is believed to hold healing powers. But now, it shall be the place for his peace negotiations. A week earlier his army had defeated the remnants of the Karelian army in the battle of Sortavala and at the end of it Chief Kalevas' soldiers had managed to capture High Chief Tuure of Karelia, thus effectively ending the war then and there. But instead of just taking the title from his now defeated foe, Jalo wanted to do something different. Instead of just making him say it and admit defeat, he would get his proof of victory in another way.

Chief Kaleva of Rovaniemi and Chief Mielus of Savo arrived with a few guards and the defeated High Chief Tuure right behind them. Tuures' hands were tied and there was also a rope around his neck which was held by Chief Kaleva to prevent Tuure from escaping. Then the four men climbed on top of the stone. Jalo first, with Kaleva second and Tuure close behind and then Mielus as last to make sure that Tuure won't try to jump or run. When they all were on top Jalo spoke directly to Tuure.
"I challenged you for your High Chiefdom in war and now you stand defeated and tied up in front of your foes. Do you admit your defeat and call me the High Chief of Karelia?"
After a moment of silence Tuure answered "Yes, you and your allies have beaten me and captured me, thus leaving me with no choice but to surrender my title of High Chief to you."
Jalo smiled, but he wasn't done yet. "As you all here have heard Tuure has surrendered to me. But as you also may know words can scatter in the wind like ash and one can say they have not said words others claim they have, even if said on holy grounds in the presence of the gods and spirits."

To most present this was a strange turn of events. Men were expected to keep their promises and be worthy of their words. But then again there are many an old story where liars twist their words and promise one thing and do another. And seeing as how so much was at stake for both men it wouldn't be too surprising if Tuure would betray his word sometime in the future, especially if he would happen to be one of the last left of those present, allowing him to twist the words and events of that day.

Then Jalo pulled something out of the small bag he had taken with him on top of the stone. It was a parchment with something written on it and a quill and some ink. The three other men on top of the stone looked puzzled. They asked what it was that Jalo had brought with him. It was a written peace agreement. He explained that on the piece of parchment was all that they had just agreed upon written down in their own language and with a few more details. He read it out loud to the men and once again Tuure agreed on the peace terms, but then asked "And what use is that parchment? How can it be used to prove that I was here and agreed on what you have written there?". As an answer, Jalo handed the quill to Tuure saying "You will write your name on it." Baffled, Tuure simply answered that he doesn't know how to "write" his name on something. As if on cue Jalo then took something else from the bag. It was a small knife. "Your blood will do too" he said and then pricked his own thumb with the knife, allowed a few drops to fall in to one of the cup-marks on the stone and then pressed his thumb on the bottom of the parchment. Then he told Tuure to do the same. He pricked Tuures' thumb and he let a few drops fall to one of the cups and pressed his thumb on the bottom of the parchment.

Jalo then lifted the parchment over his head and shouted "And here we have it! Written proof that I am now the High Chief of Karelia and rightful liege to all chiefs who call themselves Karelian, sealed by our blood in front of men and the spirits and the gods!" With this Jalo had become the sole remaining High Chief of the Finnish tribes. It wouldn't be long now that Jalo could rightfully call himself the King of all Finns.

On their way back, before parting ways, Jalo and Kaleva agreed on the betrothal of Jalos' son Ahma and Kalevas' daughter Tyyni, as they were only a year apart and this would help bring their two peoples together. After all, the Sami and Finns aren't all that different from one another and the Sami have lately begun to feel the pressure of their Norse neighbors from the south so an alliance to such a strong High Chief would be highly useful to a Sami Chieftain. And for Jalo and Ahma it would be useful to have an ally in the north instead of the more warlike Norse.

When Jalo arrived home he immediately went to search for his marshal. He couldn't find the man anywhere in the fort. Then he heard that marshal Pyry had gone hunting earlier that day, but was expected to return before dusk. So, he waited. Hours went by and then one of the guardsmen came running and told that the marshal had returned and would soon be at the fort. "Good, it looks like he doesn't know I'm back" Jalo thought. Jalo was waiting in the great hall, opposite the main doors on the other side of the hall when Pyry arrived.
"High Chief! You are back. If I had known I would've thrown a feast for your return."
"And what foodstuffs would you have used for the feast? The forts' own stocks, or the goods that you and your men stole from the peasants?" Jalo answered coldly.
"My Chief, I don't understand what yo-"
"Spare me your lies! I saw with my own eyes the farms and villages that you and your men robbed clean! Did you honestly think I wouldn't notice on my way back!? Or maybe think that some bandits were responsible for something of that scale!? Or that none of the people would recognize you and tell their High Chief when he passes through!?" Jalo yelled at the man. Jalo had never been so furious in his life. The man that he trusted to train his soldiers, to guard his fort and family therein and to keep the peace in his lands whilst he was away had broken that trust utterly and completely.
"Take him to the dungeon" Jalo told to the guards who were there with him. For a second Pyry considered fighting off the guards, but then decided it be best not to. Two or three guards he might handle, but the giant of a man standing on the opposite end of the table that stood in the middle of the great hall. Not so much. He was certain he would be hacked to pieces by the man in his rage if he gave him the reason to. He should probably even be glad he was only getting thrown to the dungeon instead of just having been pummeled to death the moment the High Chief saw him. And so, he went quietly with the guards.

A month after the arrest of marshal Pyry, Jalo was spending time with his fellow members of the Followers of Otso when Captain Dávgon of the Sami Band, a hero of the Followers, declared that he wanted to have a sparring match with someone, since no one had challenged any of the heroes for a while. Jalo thought of this as a great opportunity to increase his standing among the Followers of Otso, so he accepted the open challenge. Soon the two of them headed outside with a crowd following right after them. They were going to use wooden swords this time. The match was quite even, with both men getting couple hits in and missing a few. Then, Jalo managed to hit with a big blow to Dávgons' leg, just as Dávgon hit Jalo at his hands with an overhead strike. Dávgon fell to one knee, but didn't fall over. Jalo on the other hand dropped his sword from the hit to his hands. He might have broken two of his fingers and maybe even his wrist from the impact. Even though Jalo lost the sparring match, no one could deny that he fought well against a much more experienced opponent. Luckily for Jalo it was his right hand that took the blow, since he was left handed so he wasn't completely incapable of doing everyday tasks. Or raiding. Which was what he decided to do some time later when he heard that his Rus neighbors from Holmgarðr were busy with helping King Dyre the Stranger of Könugarðr in his desperate war to defend his territories. He still wouldn't be able to take them on in a war, but he certainly could weaken them by raiding all their northern regions bordering his while they were away. And so, he gathered his men and took off once again.

When the raiders had reached Käkisalmi they decided to set up camp, since all they would need to do anymore was to cross Neva river and they would be in Rus lands. The men celebrated that night, anticipating the coming raids and riches they could get. Come morning, the men notice that their High Chief hasn't woken up yet, which was unusual since Jalo was typically one of the first men awake. When his guards came in to check on him, he was unresponsive. They did all they could, but it was for naught. No one knew for sure what had killed him in his sleep at such a relatively young age. Some said his stress filled life had finally caught up with him and his body had given up. Some would later argue that it was complications related to his gigantism. All that was known for certain was that High Chief Jalo had died in his sleep at the age of 45 on June 11th 879.
And there, part two of Rise and Fall of the Giant. Thus ends the story of Jalo and next chapter focus will shift to Jalos' son and heir, Ahma.
And thank you all for your advice on how to make a table of contents. As some might have noticed I've made one and it's working. Surprising that I got working on my first try to be honest.
Oh, and if some haven't checked after Ahma was born what his name means exactly since I mentioned he has a namesake animal, ahma is finnish for wolverine.
Not with a bang, but with a snore, as it were.
Chapter 7

New Beginning

Ahma was swinging at the training dummy with his wooden sword he had gotten from his father. The fort guards had made the dummy, and couple others like it, themselves and Ahma was more than eager to use them too. Not only to train like his father's new marshal Havu had instructed him to, but also to beat out his frustrations on it instead of bottling them up. Lately all the adults around the fort had been all moody and sad and no one would play or train with him, and it made him angry. The only one who would play with him was his slightly younger (half-)sister Aamu, who was a bit of a tomboy and interested in a lot of the same things as he is. She was even tutored by the new marshal like he was after the previous one was thrown in the dungeon by his father. Ahma never really liked Pyry, so he didn't mind the switch in marshal, which also meant a switch of tutor for him.

But Ahma didn't know why everyone had been so down lately. It all started a few days ago when a rider came to the fort in a hurry and spoke to his mother, Helmi, and his father's councilmen who were present at the time. Namely all but the marshal who had left with his father to go raiding this time. After that his mother had barely spoken a word to anyone and everyone in the fort had become all gloomy day and night.

His next swing was cut off by sudden, really loud shouting. "They are coming", "Open the gate" and the like. Ahma went to look what was happening. Guards were coming from everywhere in the fort and lining up past the gate with his mother coming to the gate soon too. She seemed distraught when she arrived. Then he saw what was coming. Marshal Havu came first, riding on his horse with a couple of High Chiefs personal guards right after him. Then came another horse, this time pulling a wagon behind it and a few more of the guard came after the wagon. But why would the marshal return with so few soldiers, and without his father? They weren't supposed to return until fall from their raids. Then his mother saw Ahma and came to him and held him tightly. "I'm sorry my son, I'm sorry I didn't tell you or your sisters immediately but I didn't want to believe it myself" she cried. Ahma didn't understand what was going on. He was confused, and scared, though he would never admit it. Then his mother let go of him and told him that she would go to look for his sisters. As she did the marshal came over to Ahma along with a few of his father's soldiers. "Your father requested that his sword be given to you instead of it being buried with him, as he thought you would have more use for it here than he would in the afterlife" the marshal said as he handed the sheathed sword to Ahma. Ahma took the sword and marveled at it. His wooden sword had been made to look like his father's sword and the resemblance was uncanny. And now it was his. "Wait. Burial? Afterlife? What are they talking about, father isn't..." he thought as he suddenly went pale, dropped the sword and darted towards the wagon that arrived with the soldiers. "Father! Father!" he kept screaming as he ran and then climbed up the wagon. There he saw him. His father's body in a crudely made casket, lying motionlessly. He grabbed his shoulders, trying to shake him awake, still screaming "Father!" as tears began to trickle down his face. After Ahma had calmed down a little and had stopped trying to shake his father awake the marshal came to pick the boy up and took him to his mother. She was in her room with all his sisters, and they were all crying. Ahma ran to his mother and the marshal left soon after to let them grieve in peace.

Now that all the council members, save for Helmi who was the spymaster, were present they began to negotiate as to how to proceed next. Marshal Havu spoke first:
"I left our most capable men in command of the army, they know what to do. Such a good opportunity to raid the Rus lands comes rarely so we shouldn't let it go by."
Taisto, the steward, spoke next: "I am not sure if that was the wisest decision. Our High Chief is dead and our army is away south raiding. There are many who would certainly love to take advantage of this situation."
Toivo, the chancellor, spoke after him: "I understand your concern, but the situation is not as grim as you make it out to be. Our army is south in Holmgarðr raiding the Rus, yes, but they themselves are preoccupied with a war further south. That is why our High Chief even decided this to be a good opportunity for raiding them. And our north is secure with our allies in Rovaniemi thanks to the betrothal between Ahma and Tyyni. Further east no one is strong enough to be an immediate threat and the Norse to our west are currently preoccupied with civil war. The only troubling news as of late is that Chief Mielus of Savo hasn't sent his due tribute. It might just be late, of course, but we all know what he really thought of our late High Chief Jalo."
The three other men present all nodded in agreement. It was more than likely that now that Jalo was dead Mielus would no longer agree to remain as a tributary state to the High Chief.
Havu slammed his fist on the table and said "We will deal with him later. He is of no concern. He can't even raise enough men to be a threat. Our only immediate threat is to our west and even they are fighting among themselves. The way I see it, we are secure for some years to come."
Lalli, the court chaplain and also the current tietäjä, then spoke: "True, but I say the most immediate concern is our new High Chief. He is young, too young. But he is also the only son and only male relative of Jalo."
Taisto spoke next: "Yes, but Jalo had prepared us for such an occasion. He had said that in case of his death his wife Helmi act as regent and High Chieftess until Ahma comes of age."
"Yes, I remember. But you all saw how grief stricken she was. Do you really think she would be capable of acting as regent?" Lalli said whilst stroking his long, graying beard.
"Don't tell me you weren't sad or grieving after you heard that our High Chief was dead. She will grieve for a time, and continue her duties then" Toivo snapped back at Lalli. "Until then we will govern the fort and the town" he continued.
"Toivo is right. We have all seen how well she rules whilst Jalo is away raiding or waging war" Taisto said. "Besides, we also have to arrange for Jalo's burial" he concluded. To this, all four agreed.

Jalo was buried the next day. He was buried in such a hurry since he had been a long way from home when he died, but was still recognizable. No one wanted to wait until he began to decompose badly to bury him. Luckily Taisto and Toivo had begun arrangements for the burial as soon as they had heard the news from the messenger a few days ahead of the marshals arrival. Jalo was buried next to his first wife Sohvi, with some everyday items, weapons and hunting equipment to use in the afterlife. After the burial it was declared that Ahma as Jalos' heir would be the new High Chief. However, due to his young age, his mother, Helmi, would act as regent and High Chieftess until Ahma would come of age.
Let us hope the Regency proves an easy one
Chapter 8

Pohjanmaa VS. Savo(nia), round 2

It was a busy time around the fort. Steward Taisto, ever the cautious man, had managed to persuade regent High Chieftess Helmi to make some upgrades around the fort. Mainly these upgrades consist of stone reinforcements on the palisades and on some of the key buildings in the fort to better protect them. Ahma was watching the workers during his break from training. He was eleven years old now and two years have passed since his father's death. That had also been the last day that Ahma had used his wooden toy sword. Instead, he used his father's sword whenever he could, for he knew he would have to use it a lot in his future. But his tutor, marshal Havu, wouldn't let him use it during practice, instead telling him to use a dull old sword so that he doesn't accidentally hurt anyone else or himself, though the latter would be the unlikely case. Ahma had learned to fight fast and seemed to have a natural sense for combat and tactics.

He would soon have to join his sisters in their lessons to learn to read and write. Their teacher was actually one of the men that the German scribe, Amalric, had taught to read and write in order to help create the written form of their language. It was his father's project and Ahma remembers how happy his father was when the book was finished and how much his father loved to talk about it. He was only five then, but he could clearly remember how important it was to his father and how important he considered writing to be for the future of the Finnish peoples. So he came to regard writing as something important too. And he wasn't too bad at it either. His siblings weren't the only ones being taught to read and write though. Some of the children of those who worked at the fort were also being taught, and couple others. One of them was a girl named Branislava, a girl who was captured during his father's raids in Norse held Pomerania. Her father had died when she was young, her mother was captured too but died a year later and she wasn't related to anyone of significance so there wasn't anyone to pay her ransom, so she was stuck there. Ahma's mother had decided that she would become a servant when she grows up to earn her keep at the fort, but until then she would have to learn Finnish language and traditions to be able to live among them. Ahma didn't know why but he was interested in her. Perhaps it was because she was a foreigner, or that she was two years older or that she quite pretty for someone of her status or birth. Nevertheless, she interested him.

Later that day Ahma was walking along the palisades with his mother Helmi and steward Taisto when the chancellor, Toivo, came over to them. He seemed frustrated, angry even. He greeted the three and began to talk: "I'm afraid I'm bringing troubling news. That arrogant idiot Chief Mielus of Savo has gone and declared himself the High Chief of Savonia. And to top it all off, he seems to be eyeing to become the High Chief of Häme as well. We've found his chancellor and several of his lackeys trying to incite the populace in Satakunta to declare him their rightful Chief so he could claim to be their rightful Chief." This was troubling indeed. Ahma may be young, but he had attended all the council meetings to better learn to be his own man when the time comes. He knew they couldn't afford to be in a war right now. Their north and east were secure as always, but the Rus in the south had managed to end their wars with their ally King Dyre the Stranger still the king of Könugarðr, and not having lost any lands. Their west was also done with their civil war, but their manpower was weakened, so they wouldn't be a threat for a while, but still. If they lost too many men now the Norse to their west would consider them as a target for conquest sooner than Ahma or the councilors would like. So dealing with Mielus would have to wait for a more opportune time, lest they be beset by their Norse and Rus neighbors from two fronts.

Two years later that time was close. The Norse to their west were busy campaigning somewhere in the southern Baltic against the Germans and the Rus were now in turn defending their lands from an onslaught from their various Slavic neighbors. The war would begin the next spring, though the regent High Chieftess wouldn't get to see her son become the undisputed High Chief of Finns, since she died from dysentery the next February. Ahma knew he would have to be strong for his sisters. He had learned to be the man of the family after his father's death some four and a half years ago. His mother was buried beside Jalo. Now the two women whom he loved so dearly would be by his side in the afterlife. It was only during the burial that Ahma allowed himself to show his grief. He wouldn't let himself show it otherwise, at least not now. He would soon have a war to wage on High Chief Mielus.

The following spring Ahma took off with marshal Havu and the army, leaving chancellor Toivo as the regent in his absence. Havu wouldn't let him join the fighting yet, but he could join in on the planning of the campaign. However, before they could even begin to plan where they should try to fight Mielus to have the advantage, a messenger arrived. He came to tell marshal Havu that Mielus' troops were heading towards Satakunta to take out Chief Ihala's forces. That would be bad. They were the largest army outside the High Chiefs own that was being sent to Pohjanmaa, even outnumbering what the Karelians were sending, but they wouldn't be enough to face all of Savonians by themselves. Havu decided to ask Ahma what should they do and he decided that they will go to Satakunta to ambush the ambushers. Havu said that he made the right choice, since it was not only his duty to protect his vassals, but it would be a great opportunity to attack the enemy forces by surprise. Havu and Ahma already had the men from Pohjanmaa and Oulu with them, and that should be enough for this unless Ihala loses too many men before they get there. Havu sent messengers to the troops coming from Kainuu and Karelia to meet them in Satakunta.

When they arrived the battle was already going on. It was a meadow by the forest and Chief Ihala's army's back was to the forest. A decent choice, since the forest could cover their retreat if it came to that. Some of his archers also seemed to fire their arrows from the cover of the forest. But it seemed that Ihala hadn't really learned anything from the battle he had against Ahma's father, Jalo. He should've fought numerically superior forces in the forest, not in the open next to the forest, to have a better chance or to inflict more casualties on them. "Stubborn fool with his pride and honor" Havu grumbled. It seems Havu had made the same observations as he himself had. Without further delay Havu ordered the troops to charge upon the Savonians. The Savonians were taken by surprise to say the least. They clearly weren't expecting the main army to come this soon, or to come at all. The battle was hard fought, but ended in Savonian defeat. Chief Ihala thanked Ahma and Havu for their timely arrival and once the armies from Kainuu and the various Karelian tribes had arrived the full 3000 man army began marching east to Savonian lands.
Ahma seems to grow up to be like his father one day. Jalo would be proud of his son, and happy to see that his councillors are doing a good job as well. The realm is in good hands.
Pride is very dangerous
Chapter 9

Like Father, Like Son

The war against High Chief Mielus of Savonia was swifter than Ahma or Havu had dared to hope. The Savonian loss at Satakunta was a major factor, definitely, but such a defeat would have happened at some points of the war eventually. The quick conquest of the High Chiefs' home was definitely one factor, but what finally made High Chief Mielus demoralized and end the war was the capture of both of his sons by Chief Ihala. Ihala had been sent to take down some reinforcing armies that were trying to reach their main army after the defeat in Satakunta and two of those armies were being led by Mielus' sons. Both were defeated and captured.

Now High Chief Mielus was being brought in front of Ahma and Havu. His two sons, Soini and Veli, were behind them, hands tied and with ropes around their necks held by some of Ahma's guards. They were all in front of a sacred site, one of many that are called Altars of Tapio, the god of the forests and hunting. It was a large boulder standing on top of three smaller ones. High Chief Mielus had a suspicion as to why he was brought here, and those suspicions were confirmed when marshal Havu handed him a parchment with writing on it. Mielus didn't really know how to read but he had learned a few words during Jalos' war for Karelia, and recognized a few when he eyed the parchment. Ahma read it out loud to him, saying how Mielus would admit defeat and grant the title of High Chief of Savonia to Ahma, making him the rightful High Chief and liege to all chiefs calling themselves Savonian. Mielus already knew how this would go so he just told the boy to hand him the knife because he doesn't know how to write. Ahma took the knife from his belt, pricked his thumb enough for it to bleed and pressed his bleeding thumb on to the side of the large boulder next to him. After that he pressed his thumb on the bottom part of the parchment and gave the knife to Mielus who proceeded to do the same. After this was done marshal Havu began to shout: "All hail High Chief Ahma, the High Chief of all the Finns!" As the cheering began Ahma went and cut the ropes that tied the hands of Mielus' sons and the guards removed the ropes around their necks.

Upon returning home they learn that Tyyni, daughter of Chief Kaleva of Rovaniemi and betrothed of Ahma, was visiting with an escort of people from Rovaniemi accompanying her. This was nothing new, since they were betrothed they would often visit each other to learn to know each other so they don't get married as complete strangers. This time however, one of the escorts was acting uppity, above his station to say the least. He had been with Tyyni to Pohjanmaa before but back then his actions had been held in check by Ahma's mother, Helmi, who was regent at the time. Now, he didn't even listen to chancellor Toivo, who was made the regent after Helmis' death. Ahma knew that he himself could definitely bring the man down a peg, but decided that the best and the most lasting way to do it would be if he was scolded by his own Chieftain. He knew that Chief Kaleva couldn't read, but that wouldn't be a problem really. The second man that Amalric taught to read and write had left to Rovaniemi soon after the betrothal was announced. He had said that he hoped to create a written language for the Sami while there. Truthfully, everyone doubted that he could really create a written version of Sami language, but it didn't hurt to have him there as it made exchange of letters that much more easier between the two allies. And so, Ahma wrote a letter to Chief Kaleva, describing in great detail all the stunts and rude behavior that the man had made the people of the fort and even the town endure, and if confronted would say that if he was to be hurt it would be the same as hurting or insulting the Chief himself. No one was certain if this was true, but just in case they didn't dare to do anything without the High Chief's orders. Ahma ended the letter with words:
"...and if the good Chief is truly to consider that punishing or even insulting such a worthless human being as doing the same unto you, I cannot help but to question whether this alliance of our two peoples is worth the trouble of enduring more of such humiliation."
Ahma then gave the letter to Tyyni and told her to give it to her father when they get home and to remember the things that the man from her group of escorts had done during their stay so she could confirm if her father asks about their stay. Tyyni nodded and promised to give the letter to her father upon her return. The next morning they bid farewell, but not for long, as it would be only about a year until they would both be of age and get married.

A couple weeks after the visit Ahma woke in his bed, all sweaty and panting. He checked his pants. "Not again" he thought. Lately he had been dreaming a lot about the Pomeranian girl, Branislava, and him doing... those things. "Why? Why her when I don't even have such feelings for her?" he wondered. "I do think she is pretty, but I don't love her though, so why? I'm not even going to get married to her." He decided to confide to his tutor, marshal Havu, about his dreams and what would they mean. After Ahma was finished Havu laughed a bit.
"Why are you laughing?" Ahma snapped at the man.
"My apologies High Chief" Havu said, trying to stop laughing. "You see, that is something quite normal and there's no need for alarm. Sometimes men and women just lust for one another. You know, want to do such things with each other simply for the pleasure, even if there is no love between the two."
"So, I lust for her? I wish to do such things with her, is what you're saying?" Ahma asked.
"That would seem to be the case, my High Chief. Simply a sign of you becoming a man" he answered.
"Then have you lusted over women Havu?"
Now it was the marshals turn to be a bit embarrassed. "Well, yes, I have. But it has been quite awhile since the last time you see, so I do not really even remember who it was, really."
That was the last they spoke of the matter, since a guard approached them, bringing with him a letter meant for the High Chief. He said a Sami merchant had brought it to the guards, and that it was from Chief Kaleva. "Great" Ahma thought, "let's see what his response is." Ahma opened the letter and as he read it, a grin formed on his face. In the letter Chief Kaleva explained how he was shocked to have learned of his courtiers' behavior and complete lack of respect for his hosts and allies. He said he would reprimand the man and wouldn't include him in any escorts for future diplomatic missions into Ahmas' court. Ahma was more than satisfied with the result.

About a year later Ahma was finally of age and his own man. And truly the High Chief of Pohjanmaa, Häme, Karelia and Savonia, since there would be no more regents ruling in his stead. It may have been late February, but a great feast was still held in his honor to celebrate the occasion. And there would also be more than Ahmas' coming of age to celebrate by the end of the day. First occasion was when Ahma declared that he had decided to take Branislava as a concubine. Some saw this as bit odd, since Ahma wasn't yet even married but he was already taking a concubine, but in the end nobody objected, it was his right as High Chief. The second occasion came soon after, when High Chief Baeivi of Kola, a hero of the Followers of Otso, came to congratulate the young man for coming of age. Ahma thanked the man for his kind words and expressed his interest in joining the Followers of Otso. Baeivi said that he would gladly welcome son of Jalo the Giant among their ranks, if he can prove himself. That was when warrior Nyalku, son of Chief Pudak of Zavarot, came forth and offered to spar with the young man. The two went outside with a crowd of people following them. They would use staffs for their sparring duel and as always, first one to fall down or drop their weapon loses. The fight, however, became unusually long. Soon, both men were exhausted and neither had gotten even a single hit in. It was always a miss, a block or a counter. Then, with the last ounce of strength he had, Nyalku went for an overhead swing. Ahma blocked it just in time and managed to direct the strike to his side and then went for a good, wide swing. It struck Nyalku square to his left temple, knocking him down. Everyone was impressed with the fight, and also with Ahma. He had defeated a stronger and a more experienced opponent without a scratch on him. "Like father, like son" Baeivi thought as he remembered how Ahmas' father Jalo had also passed his initiation duel without a scratch. He approached the exhausted young man who was now leaning to his staff with both of his hands.
"That was a great fight! We would be honored to have you join us as an initiate, Ahma son of Jalo" he bellowed. "But I'm sure you will one day prove to be even greater than your father, I dare say" he chuckled.
"Certainly. I at least have some twenty years head start on him as a member, so I will definitely rise higher than him among the Followers" he answered jokingly. Most of the people there also had good laugh from the joke. Ahma had already come to terms with his father's sudden death years ago. That was the reason why he was able to even joke about his father like that. Once Nyalku woke up, he was helped up and everyone returned inside to continue the feasting. Ahma still had one big announcement to make, but he would have to wait a while to catch his breath first after the fight. It had been tougher and taken longer than he had expected, but it didn't matter in the long run. Today was a good day. And it was about to be even greater than that.

After he had rested for a little and eaten something, Ahma decided now was the time. People were still merry and they were finally talking about something else than his initiation duel with Nyalku. He cleared his throat, took a sip of mead and stood up. Then, he shouted:
"My good men who have gathered here on his auspicious day, listen! I have a great announcement to make! As many of you may know, my father had a dream of becoming something more than a High Chief of all the Finnish tribes!"
He then pointed towards the great wooden carving his father had had made for himself, depicting four men representing each of the Finnish tribes, kneeling in front of a fifth man.
"I have decided to make my father's dream a reality! I will become more than a High Chief of the Finnish tribes. I will become the King of all Finns!"
This was met with loud cheers from all those present. But Ahma wasn't done yet. As the cheers quieted a bit, he continued:
"To accomplish this goal, next summer I will lead my armies to drive out the Rus from the shores of the lands they call Nyland. And then I can truly be called the King of ALL Finns!"

Many townsfolk later said that they were woken by the loud noises coming from the fort that night. That loud had the cheering and celebration been after Ahmas' last announcement. But truly, if Ahma had made such declarations just a year prior, everyone would've thought him a fool. But not now. Rurik, the king of Holmgarðr, had died just last year from his wounds and left his kingdom to his six year old son, Dyre. It had been the leadership and ruthlessness of Rurik that had made Holmgarðr. But now that charismatic and fearsome leader was gone and so, the lands of the kingdom he had forged through war were ripe for the taking for those bold enough to seize the opportunity. And Ahma had certainly shown that he was bold enough.
Ahma is growing up - and has a clear goal in mind. He truly follows in his father's footsteps. His father brought the written word to Finland, he may bring the idea of a kingdom.
Always nice to have clear goals :D
Chapter 10

Victory and Heartbreak

Ahma himself had been wed to Tyyni, daughter of Chief Kaleva of Rovaniemi, for about a month now. Now, his older sister, Ilta, is being wed to Taisto, second son of Chief Tuure, formerly High Chief of Karelia. It is in Ahma's hopes that this marriage brings the western and eastern ends of his realm closer together. He was also travelling through the Karelian lands in order to assess how many men his vassal Chiefs should be able to send to him for his upcoming war against Holmgarðr, as he would need all the men possible. But for now, he was enjoying his sister's wedding and upcoming feast with his wife. Tomorrow, he would continue to southern Karelia and then head home to join his own army, which is preparing for the campaign while Ahma is on his trip to Karelia. On the early summer, the war is finally declared and Ahma marches south towards Nyland.

Ahma had barely arrived in Nyland when his scouts told him that the enemy was already almost at Käkisalmi, preparing to cross the Neva river soon to get there. Ahma decided that he would have to face his enemy with all the advantages he could get to be certain of victory. The boy king Dyre was no king Rurik, but he still could muster an army near equal to his. And so, the first battle of the war, the battle of Käkisalmi, was an embarrassing defeat for the Rus. The 3500 strong Finnish army had managed to arrive in Käkisalmi first, forcing the Rus to battle while they were crossing the Neva river from the south. Finns lost almost 500 men themselves, whilst the Rus lost some 1600 men, nearly half of their entire army. After the battle Ahma turned west to finally take the region of Nyland.

After Nyland was occupied Ahma turned south to the heartlands of Holmgarðr to make sure that king Dyre would agree to the peace, and to possibly even get some loot while they were at it. What they didn't expect was to face the Rus army at Käkisalmi, again. This time they had made it across the Neva river before the battle started, but they no longer had the numbers to be as much of a threat as they were during the first battle. They numbered barely over 2000 now, while Ahma still had little over 3000. Seeing how his enemy was disorganized and still demoralized from the earlier defeat, Ahma decided to charge. He himself led the charge on horseback, accompanied by several other riders from his personal guard. Ahma fought with ferocity no one had ever seen from someone so young and his father's sword ran red with blood. They said he looked like his namesake, a wolverine, when he fought. Then again, it wouldn't be surprising if he did. He had taken to wearing the skin of a wolverine when fighting on the battlefield. He had hunted the animal down himself as a young lad when they were returning from their subjugation of Savonia. He thought it only fitting to wear his namesake over his head. It also served to intimidate his enemies.

The second battle of Käkisalmi was yet another defeat for Holmgarðr. This time they barely had a thousand men left after the battle, and they soon surrendered. Nyland was now part of High Chief Ahmas' domain. Whilst returning from the war, Ahma received two messengers on the way. One was from the region of Karjaa which had been taken as part of the subjugation of Savonia. Ahma was told that Chief Simo of Karjaa had died without an heir. Chief Mielus, then High Chief, had given the region to Simo to rule as Chief under him. Given that Ahma was the High Chief of Häme that Karjaa was traditionally considered a part of and Simo became his vassal after the war, the lands of Karjaa now belonged to the High Chief. The second messenger arrived when Ahma was in Karjaa, inspecting the region now that it was directly under his control. But the messenger only brought more news of death. Ahmas' brother-in-law, Taisto, had died in a duel against Culle. Both of the men were members of the Followers of Otso and apparently the duel wasn't simply a sparring match, but a proper duel with no wooden weapons. The two men had both died in their duel, both bled to death according to the messenger. This left Ahmas' sister, Ilta, a widower at the age of 18 whilst she was pregnant.

Upon returning home Ahma noticed that Branislava was carrying a baby around. She said that the girl was his. It was noticed that Branislava was pregnant soon after Ahma had left for the war and she had given birth during the time that Ahma was away waging his war. The girl had been named Kivutar. Ahma was happy that he now had a child, but also troubled that his wife Tyyni hadn't gotten pregnant too. He had spent as much time with her, if not more, than with Branislava before he left for the war. He decided to ask his tietäjä, Vesa, for help in the matter. They concluded that the problem was not in Ahmas' end, since he had gotten Branislava pregnant, so there would be no need for him to be treated. So they decided that Vesa would give a special treatment to Tyyni to help her become pregnant with Ahmas' child. And with a son, specifically. Vesa wouldn't tell Ahma what this treatment was, but most things involving tietäjäs were like that. Most of their spells, cures and whatnot were secrets, passed only from one tietäjä to another. And so, a few days later, Vesa administered the treatment for Tyyni and told Ahma that "for it to work, it must be a full Moon the next time he beds his wife". Ahma was a bit miffed at this, since the next full Moon wouldn't be in almost a month, but decided to follow the instructions given to him.

The next full Moon came and went with Ahma being down with a bad case of the flu, so bedding his wife wasn't the first thing in his mind that day. But during the next full Moon he was vigorous as ever and full of energy. He spent the full Moon with his wife and the next few nights also. And soon, it was noticeable that she was pregnant. Too soon, in fact. Ahma couldn't help but wonder how it was possible for her to be so noticeably pregnant when it was a little over a month ago that he bedded her for the first time after the treatment. He told some of the servants in the fort that he knew he could trust to talk with Tyyni about her pregnancy and about the treatment that Vesa gave her. The summer harvest festival also came and went, and the townsfolk were slightly confused as to why the High Chieftess was not chosen to play the role of Akka. It had almost become a tradition at this point that if the High Chieftess was pregnant during the time of the festival, she would play the role. Ahma was too suspicious of his wife's pregnancy and whether or not the child really is his to allow her to be portrayed as Akka.

And then the news came. One of the servants had managed to get Tyyni to open up about the treatment that Vesa had given her, even though the method was supposed to stay a secret. He had laid with her that day. Put his seed inside her. The servant also said that Tyyni had mentioned once that she herself suspected that Ahma wasn't the father of the baby. Ahma was sad and furious at the same time. Heartbroken. He told the servants to leave him alone and not to tell anyone else what they had just told him. Ahma didn't sleep that night. He couldn't. His blood was boiling and tears wouldn't stop flowing. Come morning, all the training dummies in the fort had been hacked to pieces and the High Chief was nowhere to be found.