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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Dead William

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Chapter I: Ludwig

Cold winds drove wet snow down the valley. The small manor house was lighted by rushes and candles on the night of the Birth of the Saviour, but there was no happiness or joy within the house.

Ludwig von Reichenberg was standing in the snow near the millrace, frozen solid by the cold. His breath emerged in small, controlled puffs from his tight-lipped mouth and his aquiline nose. His hand, dressed in inverted lambskin mittens, rested upon the hilt of his sword. The sword was old and well-used and it was his. Come the new year, come the feast of Epiphany, it would probably be the last possession he held. The Eidgenossenschaft, the despised Swiss, were on the move. Four years before they had taken the Habichtsburg, the ancestral castle of the House of Habsburg, Ludwig’s lieges. Now they were coming for Ludwig’s own meagre holdings.

Silently Ludwig cursed the idiotic disagreement between Friedrich von Habsburg, fourth of that name to hold the title of Count of Tirol, and the Emperor Sigismund, King of Hungary. A disagreement at the Council of Konstanz during which Friedrich had supported the false Pope John XXIII and Sigismund had wanted to try him. Friedrich’s stupid decision to nettle the Emperor by helping the anti-pope escape had led to a call to arms by the Emperor, ordering all the Habsburg’s neighbours to seize Habsburg lands. And the Swiss had only been to pleased to comply. And when the dust had settled in Lonstanz, the Swiss had refused, and only the Swiss, to vacate the lands they had seized. And neither Imperial order nor Habsburg threat of violence had budged the Swiss. The Habsburgs had richer lands than the valley of the Aare and they had abandoned the Aargau, and Ludwig, by granting the Swiss the lease to the lands rather than fighting for them. Ludwig would be very surprised if the damnable Swiss would ever pay a single pfennig in rent to their landlords, but that was the problem of the Habsburgs.

And now the Bernmänner, the hired thugs of Bern, the so called free men, the men who fought for the glory of Bern, serving its patrician families and dying to increase the riches of its already rich burghers, were coming to his lands. They had increased his land-rents sixf-fold, as well as levying a lord’s entry tax several times higher than the Habsburgs had ever demanded. For he had been loyal to Habsburg. And no one loyal to Habsburg was allowed to live in the lands of the Eidgenossen. And Ludwig could not pay. His lands, even in the most profitable years, would not cover half of what the Eidgenossen wanted him to pay in a single year. And now they were coming to take his lands and to drive him away. To drive him from lands he had held for thirteen years and that his family had held for centuries. His son would not look out upon the Reichenberg, and his people would forget him. The small village of Reichenberg would probably be renamed by the vengeful Swiss. Bernberg, no doubt. They were coming, even in this Christmas season. And Ludwig was not going to surrender.
He had fought at Brugg, and Baden and Schloss Stein, and he would fight again at his own front door. And again, he would loose. The men from Bern would be there. They would come. And all Ludwig could do, was wait.


hobbemamill1oq.jpg


The Old Mill at Alt Reichenberg, by Meindert Hobbema 1638-1709. The picture must have been painted during Hobbema's journey to Italy in 1657-1661. The mill burned down in 1668 and was replaced by a small stone watermill.



Edit: I made booboo! Friedrich IV, who owned areas of the Aargau and the old western lands of the Von Habsburgs, was of course, the Earl/count of Tirol, not the Duke of Austria. Though he was regent for Albrecht V until 1411.

DW
 
Last edited:

Deus

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A great start to an intriguing story. I like the serious style of your writings also. You portrayed the situation and the scenery so in depth that i could imagine the location and Ludvig von Reichenberg standing there with his inverted sheepskin mittens on. :cool:

hope to hear from you soon.
 

CatKnight

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I agree, an excellent start! Though I have to admit I have a little trouble sympathizing with Herr von Reichenberg so far. Supporters of the Habsburgs deserve what they get! :D
 

Amric

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Excellent beginning, DW! Excellent description of scene and the background story was terse but extremely informative. I'll have to keep an eye on this.
 

Dead William

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Introductory:

Game: EU II
Mods: AGCEEP, most recent version
Settings: Lowest, since I crave some historical resemblance
Cheats: I will mod certain events and add a few more, as the situation warrants. Very few, since I am very bad modder.

The AAR will in essence be a serious one. No silly undead kings, failed assasinations and foolish Scottish pages. But I hope it will still gather some attention.

Now, answers to some feedback!

Deus: Welcome! Thanks for the praise and pull up a chair! Fewer jokes and fewer sheep. Also, most likely, no Cameos.

Catknight: Well, the Knight of Cats! Thanks for the praise. I will see if I can change your fews, at least on the Reichenbergs, if not on the Habsburgs. And stay away from my trees!

J. Passepartout:

Apparantly the Reichenbergs will get their revenge, judging from the title.

I briefly considered:

The incredibly short, painful and bloody history of the House Von Reichenberg, featuring the Deaths and torture of the family, the destruction of their property, the dashing of all their hopes and the rape of their cattle.

But I somehow thought it lacked appeal…

We shall see how high and how far the Von Reichenbergs will rise, and if they will get their revenge…
Thanks for reading!

Amric: Thanks! I hope I can maintain the quality so it retains your interest.

And now: Update.
 

Dead William

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Chapter I Ludwig

Ludwig strode into the room. He had cleaned his boots on the wooden scraper and beaten the snow of his thick, well furred woolen coat. Agnes was adamant that he not drag mud and snow onto her clean rushes or well-swept wooden and stone floors. Agnes kept a neat house. All Ludwig’s manors were well kept, and all of Agnes’ houses were well-kept as well. Ludwig still smiled at the firm way Agnes had taken control of his household after their marriage. Much as he had loved his aunt Gretl, she had not been nearly as effective at handling the servants as Agnes was.

Agnes was sitting by the fire, with Mathild and Clara. Gertrud was in her crib, and Matthias and Friedrich were standing at guard, their wooden swords nearly meeting, but not quite. Halpert, the steward, was looking on indulgently, but with a sharp eye to see that the boys learned no bad forms. Halpert was a very good swordsman but a very bad soldier. He believed in honour in combat, whereas Ludwig was a far worse swordsman and a far better soldier. Halpert taught the boys how to handle a sword. Ludwig taught his sons how to fight.

The new fire place was something Ludwig would miss. The great mantle, carved from a single beam, the well built smoke channel. It was a great advance over the annoying fire pit and smoke-hole of his father’s and grandfather’s time. Often times Ludwig had felt he had been smoked better than the hams in the smokehouse. Of course Agnes was better at smoking than aunt Gretl had been, too.

solar9su.jpg


The Solar at Alt Reichenberg, an idealised drawing from the early 20th century, as the artist assumed it looked in the early 15th century. At the time the picture was drawn, Alt Reichenberg was not open to the public. The actual solar is much smaller, did not have glazed windows and little or no carving or other decoration.

He walked over to the fireplace, leaning against the mantle, looking at Agnes.

“You’re blocking the heat.” She said it without looking up from her sewing, in a voice so devoid of life that Ludwig knew she was very troubled.

“Yes dear. I will move when I get a bit warmer.”

“The baby needs warmth, she’s fussy.”
Halpert snorted. “I’d be fussy too, with two great big lugs of brothers who don’t know a hilt from handbasket fighting across my crib like a bunch of Italian ladies. Keep that point up!”

Agnes put down the tunic she was repairing, by the size one of Friedrich’s, and looked pointedly at the two boys and their arms tutor. “The fact that the Solar is not the best place for such training of course occurred to none of you?”

Matthias sniffed. At thirteen he thought of himself as a man, and better able to arrange his affairs than his mother. “It is cold outside mother, and the servants are preparing the Hall for the feast.”

Agnes picked up her sewing again, but her voice rang like steel. “Ah yes. And you three, strong, able men are not able to fight in a bit of cold or a bit of snow. And a fight in a nicely warmed Solar is going to happen so often. An almost daily occurrence, I would think. I am certain that the Imperial court, or the court of Salzburg, see them quite often.”

Halpert and Friedrich looked somewhat embarrassed at the dig, but Matthias felt no such emotion. Instead his broad, bony face filled with blood, an effusion brought on by anger. Matthias firmly felt all women, including his mother, should defer to him as a superior being.

Ludwig often thought his eldest born was a fool, but then Matthias had never known his great-aunt Gretl. Before Matthias could burst into an angry harangue, Ludwig strode towards him, looking his tall son in the eye, though he had to look up to do so. The boy, for in all things but physique he still was a boy, looked down, knowing full well his father demanded he respect his mother. “Halpert, take my sons and teach them how to hold a sword on the snow. They will learn important lessons regarding balance, footwork and hopefully, humility and propriety.”

The man and the two boys trooped out of the solar, leaving the girls and their parents. Ludwig stood looking at the closed door for a while, then turned back towards the fire. “Hassmann said they will be here for Epiphany. They will attack on the 13th day, unless we let them join the feast, honour them as our lords and pay the fine and taxes. And I will be damned first.”

Agnes looked up. “Language dear, mind the children. Girls, why don’t you go see if you can help Anna in the kitchen.” The girls left too, leaving Ludwig and Agnes alone in the Solar. Ludwig sat down and slowly and gently started rocking his baby daughter’s cradle. The thin whining that had been issuing forth from the crib started, and then stopped. The large, weather beaten hand, so capable on the hilt of a sword, touched the little red fist on top of the white linen. The little fist opened and grasped his finger, clutching tightly.
“Where are her swaddling clothes?”

Agnes smiled. “If your aunt Gertl had heard you say that, she would have your backside glowing.”

Ludwig smiled as he stroked his daughter’s cheek. “And to think she nearly had to beat you to let Matthias free from the things. Not that it worked quite the way she had in mind.”

Agnes chuckled. “Well, if she had been alive to beat some sense into him, he might have turned out different.”

Ludwig sighed. “He might still change. He’s young. But there will be nothing for him to inherit.”

Agnes looked up. “You could go to Bern and ask the Patricians for clemency. They would let us stay.”

Gently disengaging his finger from his now sleeping daughter’s clutch, Ludwig looked up. “They would let us stay but I would not be alive. I would not be me. I will never bend to them. I would rather die. But there is no need for you to die, nor our children. After the feast I want you to load all you can gather, every cloth, every faggot of wood, every rabbit, every dove, from all three manors, and head for Austria. Sell what you can or must. Go to Vienna. Ask Albrecht to take you in. He owes me, owes the family, at least that.” He laughed bitterly. “He might even give you a pittance, and Matthias a place in his guard, but I will not bend to the thieves in Bern. The thieves I bend the knee to have all been stealing far longer.”

Agnes leaned back in her chair, a great clawed monstrosity a woodworker had made for Ludwig’s grandfather. The chair was worn, old and blackened by soot and fire. Demons and angels warred upon the carved armrests. A dragon clawed its way up the back, griffins struggled upon the seat. Agnes had padded the uncomfortable thing with a horsehair pillow.
“Your aunt Gretls would have said pride is very well, but it does not feed the mouth, nor fill the belly.”

Ludwig snorted. “Pride has nothing to do with it. If I submit to the Patricians, they will take one, maybe two manors to settle the fines and taxes. I will loose all rights to them, for ever. I will owe fealty for Reichenberg itself to the Patricians of Bern and Broicht would do anything he could to make that as uncomfortable as possible. And it will all be by theft. Theft on grand scale, but theft nonetheless.”

Agnes sighed, closing her eyes. “So, you will fight, you will die, and I will be a widow at the court of a duke who will be embarrassed by my very presence. Damn you and your fool stubborn pride!”

Ludwig knelt by the fire, using a hook to rake the hot coals and embers, then placing a new log on them.

Agnes opened her eyes. “I will not go. I will not abandon you, merely to be a married of to some lesser knight by a Duke all to glad to get rid of me. You will not ask this of me.”

Ludwig looked up, the red and orange of the fire lighting his face into a tight, hard mask, reflecting of his eyes to make it seem the fires of Hell itself burned within them. “I will not ask. Not this time. You will leave, you will take the children and what you can carry. It is not a request.”

Agnes shivered. Not once in the 15 years of their marriage had Ludwig given her an order, always he had asked. The long forgotten words, the holy oath before God came back to her mind “To love, honour and obey.” Never had he ordered. She swallowed. “Then come with us. Matthias will not listen to me, he will seek to join you, and I will not loose my husband and my son.”

Ludwig rose, then sat upon the small footstool at his wife’s feet. He looked at her. “I have no intention of dying. I have no intention of making a heroic last stand, a Roland like sacrifice of my life for my honour. But if I do not fight, we will loose all rights to this place, and I will not allow that. As for Matthias, he can enter Vienna riding on his horse or riding in the bear cage. I will not have my son killed because of his pride, nor will I die myself. A short barking laugh escapes from his lips. “Aunt Gretl also said: “Never let go of an advantage. As long as I have a claim to these lands that is recognised under Imperial Law, I will have an advantage. And to gain that advantage, I must fight. So fight I will. Die, I will not. Unless the Lord has other plans.”

Agnes sat up. “You could have told me that earlier, making me worry like that! Sometimes I wonder why I married you!”

Ludwig grinned at her, then placed his hand on her ankle, running it up to her knee. “Why, our fathers thought it a good idea. What other possible reason could there have been?”

There was a thud and a yelp as Ludwig landed on his backside. Agnes well placed kick had toppled the foot stool and slid him of his seat. He landed against the crib and there was a wail from baby Gertrud. Ludwig stood up, glaring at his wife.

“What was that for?”

Agnes sniffed. “Cold hand on my knee. Cold heart in your chest, cold bed for you tonight.”

Ludwig laughed, righted the footstool, sat down, and started rocking the cradle.
 
Last edited:

J. Passepartout

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Aunt Gretle sounds like she would be interesting to fight. :D

I would say that pride has a great deal to do with it, but I see nothing at all wrong with that.
 

Rythin

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Getting more and more interesting. I am gonna follow this one :)
 

VILenin

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Interested to see where you'll go with this one DW. :)
 

Dead William

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Chapter 1: Ludwig

The Feast of the Epiphany (Sixth of January 1419)

Ludwig stood in the snow. Agnes had left after Christmas with the carts full of goods. Matthias, protesting loudly, had left on his own horse. He had given his word he would obey his mother and Ludwig had made it abundantly clear to him this battle was not for him. Ludwig hoped his recalcitrant son had really understood that. He looked at he twelve men who had decided to stand with him against the Bernermen. Twelve free men, twelve men who could ride, for Ludwig would not leave any man behind, or slow his flight, for he knew he would have to flee, eventually. Of course the fact that the horses were mostly nags and plough horses did not encourage Ludwig. Nor did the fact that he was the best armed, with his old fashioned chain-link armour and that most of his men were clad in soft leather and good woolens. Not that Ludwig objected to wool. It just offered very little protection against swords and arrows. The men carried short iron swords, almost iron bars, and a crossbow each. The hilly and woody country was not fit for the longbow, and the men had not the time for learning the intricacies of the shortbow. Ludwig’s two men at arms had died in Brugg and Stein. So now he commanded free, if untrained men into battle. Their wives and families were safe, their goods on the carts with Agnes.

The priest, father Ugard, a natural son of the former Bishop of Chur, was of course not going to show in person. He lived in Chur, and had not visited Reichenberg or any of the other villages of which he was the incumbent. He was too cheap to hire more than a single parson for five or six villages. Though his tithe-master was always very good at pointing out deficiencies in the duties of the villagers and Ludwig.

The parson finally moved into sight, mounted on a grey donkey. The donkey had seen better days and the parson was drunk, no doubt he had been well feasted in all the villages he had visited. The Holy mass would be short. Ludwig doubted it would be very holy either. He just hoped the parson would not throw up on the altar.

After Mass Ludwig walked out of the church. He had confessed his sins and received absolution. Not that Father Meinhard had been paying attention to his sins. If Ludwig had confessed to being the anti-Christ and the eating of babies, the fat drunk would still have fined him six pence and a hundred Avé’s. The festivity of the season had no doubt prompted the priest to lay the extra burden of fifty Paternosters upon him. Ludwig sighed and fingered the smooth wooden cross on the thin silver chain around his neck. The figure of Christ was worn almost away. It had been his grandmother’s, then his Aunts, now it was his. He would hand it on to a daughter. He only had it since none of his sisters had lived. He muttered under his breath. The wine the priest had blessed and the Divine had changed into the Holy Blood had tasted foul, vinegary and spoiled. Then again, Ludwig doubted the Lord would change wine into Blood if blessed by this particular priest. That thought probably meant another ten years in purgatory, if not Hell itself. Ludwig sighed, then walked towards the frozen millrace, where the men were gathering.

They looked downcast and glum, not a lot different from Ludwig himself. They carried their weapons diffidently, though some of the men were skilful with the crossbow, most preferred the shepherd’s sling. All carried their belt knives, to which they were far more accustomed than to the heavy iron blades. None had killed a man, though they all had been in plenty of brawls.

Ludwig sighed. “Well men. If you are all certain, let us mount up and see how the Bernermen are doing.”

The men shuffled their feet and looked somewhat apprehensively at the horses. Though they had all ridden, riding into battle was different. Ludwig had no intention for them to fight mounted. He was the only one who had had training in that and he had no desire to see the men fall of their horses on the first pass. The good news was that most of the riders with the Bernermen had never fought on horseback either. There was a scuffle, as Emil der Jüngere, son of Karl der Schmiede, son of Emil der Schmiede, fell of his horse. There was laughter to at the embarrassed young man as he sat there holding his crossbow with a sheepish expression on his face. But the laughter was strained.

The small group rode out of the village by the mill path. Ludwig planned to meet the Bernermen at the small river valley of the Loor, a stream so small it barely counted as a trickle. It had, however, cut a deep and steep little gully which was almost a natural ditch on the south-west side of Ludwig’s land.

Ludwig dismounted and tied his reins to a bush, some distance away from the little rough beam bridge across the gully. The men gratefully dismounted as well. The thirteen men walked towards the gully. Ludwig intended to cast down the bridge, but arriving at the site, he saw rough wood was covered in ice. It was a thick, slick layer and anchored the bridge to the gully sides firmly. Emil der ältere, even though age had slowed him down, was the first at the edge, grasping a great sledge, raising it high. Before the smith struck at the ice, he lowered it again.

“Do we have to break the bridge down?”

Ludwig sighed and opened his mouth to explain to the old man again why it was needed for the defence, when suddenly the old man’s meaning became clear to him. He started to grin. The other men grinned too. Young Emil quickly walked down the gully, checking the sides, covered in snow and ice. Ludwig thanked the Lord for keeping the snows thin this year.

The group withdrew a little. Ludwig chose a small hedgerow as his defence line and the men settled down, sitting on leather and wool cloaks, wrapped well against the cold. It started to snow. This was only to the advantage of the waiting men. Their tracks would hopefully be snowed under, the Bernermen would be less attentive. They hoped.

As time passed, Ludwig’s men became restless. Ludwig became restless too. It was of course, possible that the Bernermen had taken a different route. Possible, not likely. If they had, Ludwig would be in trouble. But the other routes were even more uncomfortable than the bridge over the Loor. And Ludwig doubted the Bernermen were sober enough after the Twelve days to find, let alone ride, the longer northern route. Also, they had spent the festivities at Hassbruch, a manor to Ludwig’s south-west. Ludwig’s anxiety was relieved when he heard voices raised in song. The singing got louder. The forces from Bern were arriving. Ludwig cursed as he saw the strength of the group, many mounted, some walking. The Bernermen had a large cart filled with barrels and sacks, no doubt stolen from Ludwig’s neighbours. They carried their weapons slovenly or not at all, but they were many. The man at the front turned back and shouted something, and another man rode up. Ludwig grinned as he recognized Karl Broich, son of Berthold Broich. He did not know the leader, but Karl was no doubt here to take control of Ludwig’s lands and to do the accounts. No doubt he was being paid well for it too, out of the Berner treasury. Broich took care of his own, that Ludwig had to admit.

The leader, or at least the front rider, approached the gully. If a man on a horse could be said to swagger, he was swaggering. He was covered in snow, small avalanches falling from his thick cloak. The cloak was of a fine, rich blue colour and Ludwig thought he could see gold at the collar. The man in the blue cloak rode forward, stopping at the edge of the gully, then moving his horse towards the small bridge. Sighing, Ludwig stood up and walked forward a few paces. If he wanted his rights, the proprieties of the situation had to be observed.

“HALT!”

The man in the blue cloak leaned forward in his saddle. Then he rode a little closer.

“I am Richard Feinwenger von Bern, captain of the Berner Freiwehr. Who are you to impede our progress into our lands?”

Ludwig smiled to himself. Feinwenger at least had some sense of propriety. “I am Ludwig, Ritter von Reichenberg! I hold these lands of their rightful owner, Friedrich, Duke of Austria, Count of Tirol, Count of Kyburg and Count of Aargau!”

Karl Broich moved forwards on his horse, his youthful face filled with too much flesh and red with anger. “You are lord and owner of nothing and your swineherd of a Liege is no more than a son of an Alsatian Bitch!”

Ludwig’s felt his face harden. No matter how much he disagreed with certain of his master’s policies, the Duke was still his liege. “He at least has a history and ancestry to be proud of, even if some curse his name. Know that I will defend my lands and they will be mine to all time as long as I do so.”

Karl opened his mouth to hurl more abuse, but Feinwenger raised a gloved hand. “Please, master Broich. Abuse will hardly help in this situation. Sir Ludwig, I must ask you to let us pass and to accept the lawful new lords of the area, the Council and citizens of the Free City of Bern.”

Ludwig sighed, then shook his head. “Never will a Von Reichenberg accept Bern as master. And certainly not it’s Council.”

Karl Broich, fuming, wheeled his horse around and rode to the assembled Bernermen, who, more drunk than sober, were gathering and readying their weapons.

Feinwenger looked through the falling snow at Ludwig, seeming to measure him, gauge him. Ludwig smiled and waved. Feinwenger grinned and turned his horse. Broich had grouped the men up. As Feinwenger rode up to his men, Broich spurred his horse into action, shouting for the soldiers to follow him.

Ludwig turned and ran to the hedgerow, hoping his men would react well to the onslaught. Behind him he heard Feinwenger shout for the men to stop, but they, probably egged on by Broich with promises of extra pay, looting and rapine, stormed on.

Emil der ältere rose, grasping a crossbow that looked insignificant in his great, mittened hands. His son and grandson rose beside him, then the others. The old smith looked pale, but the crossbow never wavered as he took a few steps forward. The other men stepped up beside him, some looking eager, most determined. They waited. Broich and the Bernermen stormed forward, shouting, incoherently, probably drunk. Ludwig reached his crossbow and hurried to stand beside his men. The Bernermen reached the ice-covered bridge. The first rider, a large, brutish man in an ill-fitting red and yellow tunic, spurred his horse. The beast surged forward, then slipped on the ice beneath the snow. Man and beast fell heavily, crashing into the gully. The frozen Loor held, creaking. Neither man nor horse got up. Broich tried to halt his horse, but the animal had the bit in his teeth and ran on. Ludwig fired. Next to him he heard the twang of bow stings and the creak of the prods. He grunted as he started to pull his lever, getting the weapon ready for the second shot. Beside him the powerful smith had already done so, aiming and firing again. Ludwig saw Broich go down, he hoped with plenty of quarrels in his fat belly. As Ludwig shot his second quarrel, Feiwenger rode to the front of his men, slashing his cloak across the face of one of the foot soldiers, taking position at the foot of the bridge. Ludwig saw Feinwenger drive his won men back as he looked over his shoulder, running to his horse. None of his men had been wounded or killed, for which Karl Broich was to be thanked, and Ludwig thanked God for the presence of Karl Broich. Had Feinwenger co-ordinated the attack, he doubted he would have escaped with half his men.
 
Last edited:

J. Passepartout

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Broich sounds like the master of tact and civility, unlike his man Feinwenger. :) It is a good thing that Broich was drunk, or he might have been smart enough to leave matters to the man who actually may have stood a chance.
 

coz1

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Very strong start here, Dead William! I like that you have focused on a lessor noble rather than the Duke himself. I'll be following along.
 

Storey

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Most battles in AARs involve hundreds or thousands of men. Its nice to read about a small encounter such as this. However Ludwig with so few men certainly has a difficult task ahead of him. I'll be reading with interest to see what happens.

Joe
 

Rythin

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Woah, impressive. Can't wait for some more... :)
 

Dead William

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Chapter I: Agnes

Agnes von Reichenberg had left her husband’s house on the third day of Christmas, travelling slowly but surely towards Vienna. Agnes had sold cattle and goods, ad Ludwig had ordered. Nevertheless the progress was slow. Though they went faster once they had converted all the wagons to sleighs, the going was very slow. Agnes hoped that the Bernermen would not travel after them to exact revenge. She looked over her shoulder at the converted carts behind her, seeing her eldest born, Matthias engaged in manoeuvring a sleigh loaded down with tools and goods. She had made him road master, which meant he had to keep his mind on the road and on keeping the small caravan moving. Five carts would not have been much for a road master attached to a great court, or even a comital court, but for a thirteen year old boy whose family’s entire future depended upon getting these carts and their contents to safety, the responsibility was heavy enough.

Agnes sat back again, sighing. There was still a long road ahead of them. She considered travelling to the Lech and then to use boats down the river to the Danube, but the hire of such in the middle of winter would be problematic. The problems of transport had probably been the reason why the Patricians of Bern had chosen this time to make their demands, so the rat could not escape the trap. She just hoped the food would last, but she feared it would not, and their meagre money would hardly buy enough food for all in the cavalcade.

Agnes cursed, silently, her husband’s stiff-necked pride. She cursed his overdeveloped sense of honour, far greater than that of many greater lords. She cursed his sense of justice and adherence to law. She cursed his foolish insistence that he had to fight to maintain the rights of his family. And she prayed, fervently, promised much and cajoled God, if only He would let him return safely.

Chapter I: Ludwig

The thirteen men had not been followed. Feinwenger was too canny a commander to let his men ride after them, on terrain they did not know. To Feinwenger the matter was not personal. He was probably annoyed enough at loosing men to Ludwig because of Broich’s foolish attack, but he was not going to risk more troops by following Von Reichenberg. Feinweger, unlike the young Broich, had sense. Ludwig led his men at a crisp pace, but not so fast as to tire the horses unduly. They reached Reichenberg and there collected the extra supplies that Ludwig had kept back, then moved out. Travel was slow, since men were not really used to riding long distances and the horses weren’t either. The snow and ice hampered the beasts, as not all of them had the new-fangled hoof-irons¹ and they kept slipping and snow kept building up under their feet.

The party had to take one of the longer, more winding, mountainous routes. Ludwig doubted if the Bernermen knew those paths as well as he and his men did, but the main road was fairly clear to all. Feinwenger, should he be so inclined, would easily follow him there. And Feinwenger, even if not all his men were mounted, had more horsemen than Ludwig, and his horses were better and well-shod. Ludwig would not be surprised if some of them were trained to fight on horseback too.


Chapter I: Reichenberg

Feinwenger was standing by the frozen millrace. His men had taken the empty manor and were now seeking to plunder where nothing was left to plunder. Feinwenger was not going to interfere, unless they were going to harm the villeins or damage the property. He just wished that Drioch the Elder had not insisted upon sending so many of his friends and relations. The old man had not expected any resistance and had seen the seisin² as a way to reward some of his people with easy plunder. There was a scream from one of the small houses. A female scream, young, frightened. Feinwenger sighed, moving his feet in his boots and flexing his arms. Then he moved towards the small dwelling. He opened the door. One of Droich’s idiot cousins, Folger, had pinned down a girl, barely twelve if Feinwenger was any judge. Her dress was torn, exposing the girl’s torso. She was bloodied and battered, having obviously fiercely resisted. An older woman, possibly the girl’s mother, was lying on her side by the fire, amidst a mess of rough, broken pottery and scraps of food. Feinwenger stepped up next to the man, grabbed his long, dirty hair in one hand, pulled back his head, and slammed his fist into the man’s temple, hard. A deep sigh escaped Folger’s lips, and he collapsed, hanging from Feinwenger’s hand by his hair. Feinwenger lifted him up, grunting, nearly ripping the man’s hair from his scalp, then threw him away from the girl. He knelt by her, scanning her quickly. As far as he could see Folger had not been able to proceed with his shaming act. He gently pulled together her torn dress and then rose, to check on the older woman. He became worried as he realised that much of what he had presumed was pottage was actually her blood. A large, gaping wound in her neck and her wide open eyes showed him he had come to late for the elder woman. With a sigh he closed he eye lids. Folger would have to pay for his crime, but seeing that the High Justice was in the hands of the Berner council and Droich owned the Berner Council, he would probably get away with a small fine. Feinwenger looked at the sobbing girl, who had sat up and was now staring at the dead woman, and wondered what he should do.




¹ Yes, I know the word horse-shoe. This is a translation of a word in an English chronicle, stating the acquisition of horse-shoes. The German word is still Hüfeisen. (The Dutch word is hoefijzer)

²A technical term for taking control of a fief.
 

Dead William

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Feedback to feedback

A short update, but better than no update, which is what the Line of true bastards fans are experiencing... I intend to split feedback and story, to keep the line neat. Not to increase my post count at all. Ehem.

Made an edit, fairly important, in the very first update.

Deus : Well, the Bernermen are back... Angry, like you said.

J. Passepartout: Actually, initially Broich was supposed to be a scheming cowardly guy, and Feinwenger a tough, total bastard. And despite the fact that this is the first installment in which they appeared, they already refuse to do what I want! I just hope Broich the Elder does what I want, otherwise thing might get difficult!

Coz1:I will be focussing on various people, as you may have seen in the new update, but there will always be a central character, who will always be a Von Reichenberg.


Storey: Well, Joe, (If I might call you that), most battles were far smaller affairs then occur in EU II, as you most likely know. 9000 men was an enormous number, fit for a great royal expedition. It is my main beef with EUII, manpower is way to high and war far to cheap. Thanks for reading! I hope I can keep the interest of such a distinguished AARthor.

Rythin: Well, you had to wait four days! I hope you approve though!

DW
 

coz1

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It seems that Feinwenger has some strong moral fiber. Poor girl. But then again, life was very much like that back then. You just never knew when a little raping and plundering was about to occur. :rolleyes: