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With the release of the Old Gods comes my newest AAR, starting with Velnias of Žemaiteje. This will primarily be a narrative with captions of history books interspersed as needed. My first update should come later tonight, its in the process of being written, with updates after this coming probably every Monday.

As of right now I am about 40 years into the game and two generations away from Velnias. The game will stay at least two generations ahead of the story because a lot can (and already has) happen(ed) to change how I want to write about events after they happen.

I love comments and I hope to get plenty from my readers as well as guesses about what happens next/how something plays out. Also if anyone knows of a name generator or a list of names that would be accurate for the area and time period I am covering that would be great. Most Lithuanian and Latvian names I have come across show large influence of Poland/Catholic and Russian/Orthodox which, as of now at least, does not fit with my story.
 
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In 850 Velnias of Žemaiteje, better known as King Velnias the Magnanimous, became the High Chief of Zemaitija as well as the Chief of Trakai. Almost twenty years later he started a series of wars that would last the rest of his life.

He became known as the Magnanimous in the early 870s after he had doubled the size of his Chiefdom. It is often argued by scholars that the title was used sardonically later in his life, however this author does not subscribe to that. While he eventually became known for being firm in his rule there is no sign that he did not continue to help his people as he became known for early in life.

Velnias declared himself King of Lithuania in 879 after carving out a kingdom between the Vistuia and the Daugava. Later that year he sowed the seeds that almost ended his kingdom when he made his second son, Patelas, High Chief of Prussia. In 880, just five years before he would die, he would start the last major war of his life in which he added the High Chiefdom of Lithuania to his kingdom. His last war would be in late 884, and would be ended by his son almost exactly four months after his death, adding the island of Ösel to the kingdom.

The last fifteen years of his life have been elevated to myth in the minds of Lithuania to this day, just as the life of Rurik the Just has to the people of Rus. This status of myth was helped by the fact that his later life was one of expansion and great wealth for his people while soon after he died the kingdom was shaken by several civil wars and attempted wars of independence. This image of his later years being a golden age followed by years of uncertainty and doubt was cemented by the scribe Arelis the Prussian, who was hired by King Bubilas the Holy to write the family chronicle only to have the king dethroned, imprisoned, released, impoverished, and reduced a High Chief within two years of the start of Arelis’ writing.

-Traidenis Liudason, A History of Medieval Lithuania


*******************************

Velnias paced nervously, his slender fingers tapping at the rail surrounding the platform around his hall’s entrance, watching the servants build the effigy of winter, he was determined that this year the festival of Užgavenes would be one to remember for years to come. Not only would it be a festival to ensure the summer of this year, but it would bring the summer of his rule. Recently he had added to his realm with the Chiefdom of Zemgale and the holy site that was located in their lands. He was sure that the Gods favored him, at least of all his neighbors.

“Good evening, my Chief. How are the preparations going?” A deep voice asked behind him. Looking to his side, Velnias saw Lammekinus, the mayor of Selpils and his best advisor on military matters, walk up to him.

“It appears that it is going well as you can see. I didn’t expect to see you here so soon. Not many have farther to come than you.” Velnias greeted him warmly as they turned back to watching the construction.

“Selpils is a small town and most matters before me and my council are that of rebuilding after your army sacked the town. That is an area best left to other men.”

Velnias nodded, “I can see that. I am sorry you were on the side of the battle that you were; however soon you will be on the side that is doing the sacking not the side that is being sacked.”

Lemmekinus chuckled, “A few months ago I was watching a horde of men surround my town and wait us out, now I am getting ready to celebrate Užgavenes with the man who led that horde.” As he talked Velnias noticed that Lemmekinus’ face bore testament to his trials during that war, his cheeks were sunken and he had large bags under his eyes. His eyes seemed more weary than Velnias had ever seen them, even when he had marched proudly out of his town holding his banner of a golden longboat on red and green to surrender it to Velnias.

“And what a celebration it will be.” Velnias responded quietly, almost afraid to break the suddenly solemn air around the two men.



“And what a celebration it was.” Girdenis said overly loudly as he clapped Velnias on the back so hard the High Chief had to take a step forward to not stumble. Girdenis had been deep in his cup all night drinking thick beer and from the looks of it; he was still deep in it. “I am glad I came, the gods showed their favor tonight, that is for sure.”

Jaunule looked on disapprovingly as he stood nearby, his hunch clearly visible. “Girdenis, you are a priest, it would not hurt if you acted like one from time to time.”

Girdenis laughed, “Jaunule, you are much too stuffy, I hope you know that. It is clear you spend too much time in your temple divining things and not enough time among the people.” The slight slur in his voice was quite evident as he went on, “Its all good that you try to read the stars and you are entrusted with watching over one of our most holy sites, but there is more to life and you should know that.” With that he started staggering off toward home before Jaunule had a chance to respond.

Velnias made his way over to the scholarly priest, “Don’t let his words affect you too much. Remember he is quite a few years younger than you, and you yourself are not an elder.”

Jaunule looked up; “Oh?” he said blinking for a second, “Of course, I don’t let his words get to me at all. He is currently a drunken priest who has much learning before him.” He paused for a moment and pointed at the palisade going up not too far from where the effigy was still glowing embers, “Is that because of how easy it was for you to add to your realm?” He asked in a slightly pained tone.

Velnias groaned inside, the problem with having former enemies come to your celebrations so soon after conquering them was they made the mood too somber. “Partially.” He said truthfully, “And partially because right now I have a hall that happens to be on a hill. With a palisade I will have a hillfort, something that can be defended well.”
 

Machiavellian

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A very nice start.
 

Dogia

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Awesome! I look foward to see you lead Lithuania to glory. I have been leading Lithuania myself for the last few days, and when i thought I was unstoppable Dievas sent me back down to earth. Now the once mighty kingdom it but a province of Francia. But it was a great game.
 
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A very nice start.
Thank you Machiavellian. Glad to have you aboard.

Waiting for more....
I am in the process of writing the second update now.


Awesome! I look foward to see you lead Lithuania to glory. I have been leading Lithuania myself for the last few days, and when i thought I was unstoppable Dievas sent me back down to earth. Now the once mighty kingdom it but a province of Francia. But it was a great game.
Thank you very much Dogia. I know all too well how that can go. I will be putting up some maps every 25 or so years so you can see whats happening but so far Europe is looking rather static. But Rurik worried me for most of the game so far, but I think I am at a point where I could hold my own against his (great?) grandson.
 
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Velnias surveyed the lowlands around his hillfort. Men and women in simple garb were moving among fields of gold while beyond the millet fields lay one of the many forests his part of the world was known for. He had heard that the Christians thought that these forests were dark brooding things that swarmed with savage folk and goblins and other such terrible things. That was fine for them to think that, though the truth was much different. Few people lived in the forests, which were not that dark nor were they brooding, and while there were wolves, boars, bears, and other deadly creatures there were no goblins. At least not that he had ever heard of.

Lemmekinus strode up to him, “I know that look. It is the look a man gives his home when he is about to leave it and is unsure when or if he will return. So I take it you have picked a target for our men then?”

Velnias turned his head to look at his marshal, considering what to say to the man. He had picked his next conquest, the next men who would feel the might of his men, and that thought gave him little pleasure. It was what he had to do though, when the old crone told him that he would one day wear a crown on his head he knew he would have to forge a territory worthy of being called a kingdom. “Yes, I have. Raise the levies and gather them here. The harvest is almost over so the men can go awhile away from their farms. We will march against High Chief Kodere of the Curonians. We will push him against the sea and his men will break.”

Lemmekinus nodded a bit slowly, “I see.” He said in a measured tone, “I will send word out for the levies to be raised. I think most men will come, but some men will refuse their duty to come for their fields are not yet fully harvested.”

“I expect you are right with that, and we will not punish them for that. We should have enough that do come and those that don’t need to worry about their family making it through the winter.” Winter was harsh and if a field didn’t produce enough in almost all cases that would spell death for at least some of the family, to leave a harvest unfinished was unthinkable. Regardless of that, they had to march soon. Velnias was not the strongest chief in the area and he knew that fact well.

Lemmekinus tried to blow warmth into his hands as his men finished gathering behind their small ridge. The nearby Liepāja Lake was frozen solid or so he hoped, the priest Girdenis would be leading his hundred men across it when the battle started in earnest. After months of chasing the Curonian army they had finally caught up to them near the town of Grobin while they were foraging. The plan was fairly simple truth be told, Sarunas iš Jurbarkas would set up his men in a shield wall with the lake to their right flank, Lemmekinus was gathering his men behind a ridge to the left of the center and Girdenis was getting ready to wipe out their scouting party followed by a charge over the lake.

Turning around in his saddle he saw that his men had formed up, “After almost three months of pursuit we have finally caught up with the main Curonian army. At this moment Girdenis should be finishing up the destruction of their scouts, while the main force marches toward our center. Without the report of the scouts their leader assumes that the center is all that we have. Once he commits we will show him just how mistaken he is.” Lemmekinus stopped for a moment to let the men cheer. They deserved it, three months ago they were called from their homes and told they would fight a short winter campaign then they would go home long before it was time to plant their crops. With them being gone and being fed by food from the stores of the High Chief, their families would have more than enough to get through this winter. What he didn’t tell them was there was another Curonian army in the south of Žemaiteja and even if there wasn’t they would still have to lay siege to several holdings before they could go home. They would almost assuredly miss the planting. Banishing such thoughts, he rode to the top of the ridge with his escort. Kodere had taken the bait and his men were starting a charge toward the shield wall. Even as Lemmekinus watched, the ranks of the Curonians spread out as everyone raced each other to be the first to hit the wall.

“This is it men, tonight we bury their dead. CHARGE!” Lemmekinus yelled as he spurred his horse into action and the mass of men behind him surged up and over the ridge. The frigid caused his face to sting as his horse flew across the flat ground kicking up snow with every step. He watched as the skirmishers in the back of the Curonian army started turning around trying to face him, and then he was on them hacking with his sword left and right. The panicked men were trying to find leverage with their spears as he felt the impact of his men joining him in the fight.

It seemed like hours had passed when he came up on the first horseman in a long time. Lemmekinus raised his sword to attack when he noticed that the shield coming up to meet his sword was red with a white stag painted on it. Quickly lowering his sword he greeted the horseman and asked to be taken to Sarunas. A few minutes later he was out of the melee and entering a tent with a fire burning. In front of the fire sat one of the ugliest men he had ever set eyes on. “Sarunas, so nice to see you alive still.” His words were missing the charm they would imply but he hoped that would be pinned down to his weariness.

“I see the gods didn’t see fit to remove you from this world either, Lemmekinus.” Sarunas scowled. “I am sure your men will get the glory for causing the almost complete destruction of the enemy while my men will not even be remembered for their time spent fighting a foe outnumbered.”

Lemmekinus rolled his eyes, “Your men almost matched the entire army of the enemy and you know it. How complete is our victory?”

“Almost completely. Girdenis was not able to march across the lake as quickly as was hoped and some of the enemy was able to escape that way, including Kodere. That being said, for every one man who escaped another three lie dead. Also there is news of the army in the south. They crossed the Neman River near its mouth and have been following it through their land, now through ours, and so far they are passing all of the towns, forts, and temples in the area.”
 

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Good luck against the Mongols.
I've read through the list of names the game has and most seem to be traditional Lithuanian names.
 
May 4, 2007
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Good luck against the Mongols.
I've read through the list of names the game has and most seem to be traditional Lithuanian names.
Thank you, on both accounts. Also, its awesome to see that this thread is your first post. As for the Mongols, I have 300-400 years I think I will be ok against them, but I will be reacting in the way that whatever ruler I have then reacts. That most likely means I won't be attacking them until they are very close and are getting ready to attack me.
 

Dogia

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Worrying about the mens ability to gather the harvest? More like worry about a minor opinion modifier! But that should be a major concern. I guess it might be represented in game by the money you lose fighting.

Nice update and good job against the curonians.
 
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Worrying about the mens ability to gather the harvest? More like worry about a minor opinion modifier! But that should be a major concern. I guess it might be represented in game by the money you lose fighting.

Nice update and good job against the curonians.
Thank you. The idea of the harvest actually comes from the fact that my levies hadn't fully refreshed after the last war, and I happened to declare war in October. Since Velnias is kind, gregarious, and gets the nickname "the Magnanimous" I thought it was a good fit. That battle was ridiculous in the game I had about 2.5 times as many men and they had 4 guys in one front and all the rest in the other. I think I had like twenty killed on my side while they had close to 75% death. The next update, which is in progress, will finish out the war and start bringing us through one of the larger periods of peace in Velnias' reign.
 

Legolas

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I'm sooooo following this.

Regarding names, you may try this list, looking for names that aren't Lithuanian versions of western names. This entry in the Lithuanian Wikipedia may help you as well, although it's a mix of names from all origins.

Oh, also, could you add some screenshots? I believe they spice up any narrative quite well :)
 
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I'm sooooo following this.

Regarding names, you may try this list, looking for names that aren't Lithuanian versions of western names. This entry in the Lithuanian Wikipedia may help you as well, although it's a mix of names from all origins.

Oh, also, could you add some screenshots? I believe they spice up any narrative quite well :)
Thank you on all accounts. I might start looking for pictures to put in and will have maps from in game but for screenshots I will probably not have any because I feel they pull at least me out of the story a bit.
 

Dovahkiing

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I love this, Sematary! It reminds me of your own dearly departed but not forgotten 'The Rise of Watters', I was checking the forums every day to see if there was an update!
I shall surely follow!
 
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I love this, Sematary! It reminds me of your own dearly departed but not forgotten 'The Rise of Watters', I was checking the forums every day to see if there was an update!
I shall surely follow!
This is easily one of the best responses I have ever gotten, thank you Dovahkiing. This will most likely have an update sometime in the next 15 or so hours its mostly done. I am looking forward to your AAR's update.
 
May 4, 2007
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Zygimantas iš Kraziai passed through the gate in Jurbarkas idly noticing the men digging what could only be a moat around wall of the hill fort. The bustle and rush around him in the courtyard brought a smile to his face. He had grown up not too far from here and had visited often over the years watching it grow. Now he was the chancellor to the High Chief Velnias while his younger brother acted as the head of his family’s large farm. Eventually he found Velnias and they retired to a small chamber in his hall. “How are you doing, my friend?” He inquired as they embraced.

“Zygimantas, you were not expected back for quite some time. The war concluded a month ago, I thought you would be at least a few months wrapping up the details of Kodere’s surrender.” Velnias replied greeting his friend and advisor. The two of them had known each other for several years but recently Zygimantas had proven himself to be quite the diplomat. People had often said he was kind and friendly, ever willing to talk about any topic the person brought up, even if he knew nothing of the subject himself. Most importantly to Velnias was the fact that Zygimantas was gaining a reputation of a just man who dealt fairly with those he was negotiating with.

Zygimantas grinned and shook his head, his full red beard slightly wagging as he did. “No, the war was long enough, a year and a half long and you told the levies only a season. I figured that the quicker I could finish the better.” In truth there was nothing to get in the way of a quick resolution. Kodere’s forces had been crushed, most of his lands had been captured by the Žemaitejan forces, and a Norse adventurer was off the coast getting ready to invade. Not that the adventurer was much of a threat, the Lappish Band and its 1,400 men were still pacifying the last remnants of Kodere’s holds while the adventurer had maybe 700 men following him. That said, it was nice to hear Velnias praise Zygimantas’ good work.

A somber look passed over Velnias’ features for a moment. “They really did not want to give up. On top of that part way through Lemmekinus asked me to name Sarunas the marshal.” The war had dragged on even after the first Curonian army had finally been destroyed near Riga. He had been forced to hire a mercenary named Viggu the Quarreler who led the Lappish Band who made quick work of the second Curonian army also near Riga. It had been during the siege of the city of Memel that Lemmekinus had asked to be replaced. He had said it reminded him too much of Selpils and he couldn’t sleep after his men had charged down the streets of the city and put the place to the torch. He had suggested Sarunas be his replacement and pointed out that the younger man was better than he was at leading men.

“Have you decided who will rule the new lands in your stead?” Zygimantas’ question pulled Velnias out of his memories of the war, a war he had spent ensuring his men would get paid and fed rather than leading them. “Yes, I have. There is a mystic named Jogaila who has been hanging around my court for sometime who will get the title of Chief of Memel. He is respectable enough, not overly good at anything but being lowborn his fortunes will be tied with mine, thus ensuring loyalty. As for Kurzeme, that will go to Sarunas. He served me well during the war and he held the center at Grobin.”

“So it was his banners that I passed the other day on my way here, the pale green tree on yellow and olive.” He would never say it but Zygimantas thought it was about the ugliest arms he had ever seen. Though his family was considered Lithuanian and respected land owners, his Norse heritage still showed in his red hair and the longboats on his coat of arms. “He was born here wasn’t he?”

Velnias thought about it for a second before replying, “Yes to both. Like your family, and even mine, his family owns quite a bit of land. When he became one of the top military leaders soon after I inherited my titles he took his arms. He still has family not far from here and I suspect he will be spending more time here at court than in his new hold.”

Zygimantas quickly nodded his understanding of what his liege was saying before changing subjects. “I see you have your men building a moat below your walls.” That should get him to talk about it. Zygimantas found it odd that after both wars that Velnias was in he built the defenses at his hillfort more afterward. He had to learn what that was about.

Velnias laughed heartily at Zygimantas for a minute before bringing himself under control, “Sorry my friend, its just amusing that you point that out. Keep in mind that almost every chief in this part of the world wants to claim the crown of Lithuania. Also you must realize, as I do, that we are not the largest and most likely not the strongest chiefdom in the area. Until recently Jurbarkas was nothing more than a hall atop a hill, it would not be hard for determined attackers to rush the lines of the defenders and kill everyone in the hall. Then I built a wall, a wall of wood to be sure but still a wall. Not only do the attackers now have to break down the wall if they want to get to the hall but the men on the walls will be even higher to rain their arrows down. Now I am building a moat so the attackers will have to either converge on the gates and be crowded in or they have to swim to the wall to break it down.
 

Legolas

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Very nice :) So Jurbarkas is the capital of Velnias' realm, isn't it? Are there similar defence projects carried out in other towns?
 
May 4, 2007
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Its very nice for a start, ive never played lithuania myself. The closest ive played is Rus. Keep up the awesome work.
I just saw your comment, sorry it took a bit. Thank you, I have played in that area a few times and I (correctly it seems) guessed that most new AARs would be about the Norse or Zoroastrians, so I would be alone in choosing Lithuania.

Very nice :) So Jurbarkas is the capital of Velnias' realm, isn't it? Are there similar defence projects carried out in other towns?
Yes, Jurbarkas is the captial of Velnias' realm. I am imagining it to be looking close to a hillfort that will probably become a mote and bailey castle at some point. At the moment no, Jurbarkas is the only one getting any projects. Velnias wants his capital to be secure and able to provide him with enough taxes and troops that he can afford a large war before focusing on other areas.

There should be a new post sometime today/tonight.
 

Lord Durham

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He had heard that the Christians thought that these forests were dark brooding things that swarmed with savage folk and goblins and other such terrible things. That was fine for them to think that, though the truth was much different.
Ah, darn it!! Just kidding ;).

Great start, and some nice writing. I'm not overly familiar with the area, so I second the request for a map or two for reference. Looking forward to the next update.