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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Alex Borhild

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The Sisters' War
An After the End AAR
I enjoy Crusader Kings 2, and I've enjoyed the After the End mod for a long time, particularly as a native of the American Midwest. I'm originally from northwest Missouri, but I've been living in southwest Missouri for several years now. Perhaps northwest Missouri will be the setting for my next After the End AAR, but we'll see.

In this game, I began in 2666 as Duke Earl of Waxhaw, a Catholic duke with a few vassals who rules southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. Duke Earl didn't have any sons, but he did have 4 daughters. During his reign Duke Earl fought the Revelationists who rose to power in Arkansas, freeing the lord of Dardanelle from his vassalage to the Revelationist usurpers, though Earl's holy war against Arkansas resulted in defeat after the tribe of Tenesi joined their fellow Revelationists and Earl's seat at Fayetteville fell after a siege in 2687. His wife and several of his daughters were taken prisoner, which forced Earl to make peace with the Revelationists.

After Duke Earl's death in 2691, his lands and titles were divided among his eldest three daughters. His eldest, Juniper, became Duchess of Waxhaw and rules from her father's seat at Fayetteville, while Winona inherited Springfield and Holly inherited the county of Sam's Throne.


Table of Contents
1. Henry (June 1, 2694)
2. Holly (June 2, 2694)
3. Kelley (June 25, 2694)
4: ?
5: To Be Continued...​
 
Last edited:
1: Henry McDaniels, Lord of Dardanelle

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1
Henry

June 1, 2694
Harrison, County of Sam's Throne, Duchy of Waxhaw
(American State of Arkansas)




Henry McDaniels, Lord of Dardanelle (2660-present) and Marshal of Waxhaw (children not pictured)

Henry rode into Harrison at the head of 20 men, but he wished he had more. It was late afternoon, and most of the people he had seen were either relaxing in the shade or at work, but nearly everyone he saw looked concerned by a party of armed men. On the journey here, he had allowed his men to not wear their armor, but he had judged that, as they approached the town and Lady Holly’s castle, it would be best to look intimidating. At his side, one of his men held the Duchess’s banner, and he didn’t doubt that Lady Holly already knew about his party. Still, as they approached Holly’s castle near the center of Harrison, he noticed more people wearing Revelationist amulets than he was entirely comfortable with. Hopefully the people of Harrison would one day see the light and be brought to Christ and the Church.

When they arrived at the castle, Lady Holly, her husband Dennis, and a few of her courtiers were waiting in the courtyard outside the keep. Henry removed his wide-brimmed hat and nodded to Holly.

“My lady Holly. Lord Dennis. It’s good to see you both again.”


Holly Danvorn, Lady of Sam's Throne since July 27, 2690



Dennis, son of the heathen horselord Galen Hiramson

Holly was of average height and had brown hair and her late mother’s brown eyes. Dennis, her husband, was several inches taller and had dark brown, nearly black hair and blue eyes. Henry noticed he was wearing a Revelationist amulet and remembered, again, that Dennis had been born on the western plains of Nebraska into a horselord family, and apparently still kept the Revelationist faith of his heathen forefathers.

Holly spoke first.

“The pleasure is ours, my lord. Would you like to come inside for a cool drink?”

“That sounds wonderful,” Henry said after he dismounted.

“Before we move inside,” Holly said, “I have a few introductions to make. This is the captain of my guard, Dedan.”


Dedan, Marshal of Sam's Throne

A red-headed young man stepped forward and shook hands with Henry. “My steward, Jedediah.” Another young man stepped forward and shook Henry’s hand.


Steward of Sam's Throne

“Unfortunately, Abbot Abibo is in Mount Judea, or he would be here today.”

“That is unfortunate. I believe you mentioned a drink?”
Dennis spoke this time. “Follow me.” Henry thought Dennis had an odd accent, but he couldn’t say he had ever met many other people from the Great Plains.

Holly’s courtiers made their excuses and went their separate ways. Finally, Henry, Holly, and Dennis were sitting in a room in the castle, with a guard posted at the door and another guard on the other side.

“What brings you to Harrison, my lord?”

“Your sister, Duchess Juniper, has requested your presence in Fayetteville.”


Her Grace Juniper, by the grace of God and Saint Peter Duchess of Waxhaw

“You’re her marshal, and a lord in your own right besides. She can’t have sent you just to deliver a message.”

“You’re right. If you will not accompany me voluntarily, Her Grace has authorized me to arrest you.”

Henry handed Holly the letter from Juniper, as well as the arrest warrant. Holly had the grace to glance at both documents before she spoke.

“No.”

It was the answer Henry had, unfortunately, expected.


The Duchy of Waxhaw, early June 2694 (including the rebel county of Sam's Throne). Duchess Juniper rules from Fayetteville, and her vassals Lord Gomer of Joplin, Lord Henry of Dardanelle, and Lord Clifton of Meramec rule from Joplin, Russellville, and Rolla respectively. A host of Northmen have sacked Springfield and the city of Republic.

Despite the Northmen that had sacked Springfield and were still raiding the surrounding countryside, the Revelationists in Arkansas and Waxhaw, and the various other threats that faced Waxhaw and Duchess Juniper, Holly was going to be stubborn.

“The allegations in this letter are ridiculous- why would I ever plot the death of my beloved sister and liege? Besides, Winona has been rotting in an Arkansas dungeon for years, and Juniper has done nothing to free her. She probably hopes Winona dies in Little Rock so she can inherit Springfield herself.” Holly had handed the letter and arrest warrant to Dennis, and he studied them while Henry tried to remember if he knew whether the heathen was literate.

Henry sighed. “Perhaps you’re right. I only know that Juniper has been trying to free your imprisoned sister and I was told that you were plotting against her.”

If Juniper had heard about Holly plotting against her, would she know about Henry plotting against that boy in Rolla? Henry decided he’d have to investigate and suppressed that thought while Holly and Dennis exchanged a look, and in the moment of silence Henry began to think about returning to Fayetteville. Hopefully he and his men wouldn’t have to fight their way out of Harrison.

Holly’s forehead smoothed and she turned back to Henry.

“Lord Henry, I shall allow you and your men safe passage out of Harrison. You can tell my sister that if she wants to talk to me, she can come drag me out of Harrison herself.”

Henry bowed.

“Thank you, my lady.”

“Don’t mention it.” Holly looked contemplative for a moment before summoning a servant to fetch some writing materials. After the girl had left, Holly said, “You can take a letter of my own back to Fayetteville.”

Henry smiled politely. “I’m sure Duchess Juniper will appreciate a letter from her beloved younger sister.” That reminded Henry that Duke Earl had had another daughter. “That reminds me, how is Sapphira?”

“She’s still studying under Abbot Abibo at Mount Judea, last I heard.” Henry noticed Dennis touch his Revelationist amulet.

“Is there a convent there?”

Holly frowned. “I believe there is, a small one.”

The serving girl returned with the writing materials, set them on the table in front of Holly, and left the room. After a moment, Henry smiled. “It’s a shame Abibo isn’t here, but I suppose he’s busy bringing the light of the Lord to the snake worshipers in the hills.”

Dennis didn’t move. Holly had placed a hand on Dennis’s leg and looked at his face with concern, but Henry saw the concern fall away as she turned back to look at Henry.

“Would you like to return to your men, Lord Henry?”
“Yes, my lady.” Henry recognized a dismissal when he heard one, and bowed again before he left the room and was escorted back to his men, who were waiting in the courtyard. Henry noticed Dedan, the captain of Holly’s guard, standing nearby and observing Henry’s men, who were mostly talking among themselves.

“Good day, Lord Henry.”
“Good day, Dedan. It seems I’ll be leaving to return to Fayetteville sooner than I had thought.”
Dedan looked slightly surprised, though he seemed to hide it, and Henry wondered how genuine his reaction was.

“Oh really? That’s a shame. You haven’t been here long.”

“That’s true. Duchess Juniper sent me with a message for her sister Holly, and now Holly is writing a reply for me to deliver to Juniper.”

“The duchess sent you here to deliver a letter?” Dedan also seemed skeptical that the Lord of Russellville and Marshal of Waxhaw was sent merely to deliver a letter.

Henry wondered what harm there might be in telling Dedan what had transpired between him and Holly. Surely the whole castle would hear about it soon, if the word wasn’t already spreading.

“Sure enough, I was sent to deliver a message. At the head of 20 armed men. Between you and me…” Henry took a step closer to Dedan and lowered his voice. “I would have done this differently.” Henry smiled.

“What do you mean?” Dedan looked like he was on the verge of taking a step back.

“If I had heard that my vassal and brother was plotting against me, I would have tried luring him away from his castle and falling upon him instead of sending men to deliver a message.”

“What?”

“It wouldn’t be the most honorable approach, but it might be more successful.”

“Is that some kind of threat?”

Henry stepped back. “Not at all, sir, don’t worry.” After a moment, Henry continued. “I do think that your lady should join her sister and fight against the Northmen- or, for that matter, the heathens in Arkansas- rather than fight her own blood, but that’s not my decision to make.”

Dedan looked confused, and Henry saw Dennis out of the corner of his eye and turned.

“Lord Dennis.”
“Lord Henry, my wife’s letter to Duchess Juniper.”

Sure enough, the letter was marked with Holly’s seal.

“How long until we have to leave?”

“Holly didn’t say, but the sooner this gets back to Juniper, the better.”

“True. It’s too bad we couldn’t stay until tomorrow morning, but perhaps next time.” Henry wondered if the “next time” would be at the head of an army laying siege to Harrison, and no doubt Dennis was wondering the same thing. Holly could call her banners and muster all the men she wanted- she should know that Juniper could defeat her in the field, even if only by having more men.

Dennis shrugged. “Maybe. I’ll go arrange for some food to be brought out for your men.”
“Thank you, Dennis. I’ll speak to my men.”

Dennis left and Henry walked over and spoke with his men. While none of them were happy about having to leave so soon, at least they were being allowed to leave without any trouble.

A light-haired man with a beard seemed to be in charge of the several serving girls and other servants who brought the bread, cheese, meat, wine, and cider out to Henry and his men, and while they ate and drank Henry thought he saw the man watching, but he didn't bother to introduce himself.


Lamar is definitely not the Spymaster of Sam's Throne. Officially, that is.

After they ate, Dedan, Dennis, and several other armed men escorted Henry and his men, but they turned their horses around and rode back to Harrison once they were a bowshot beyond the walls. Henry and his men made the trip back to Fayetteville without further incident.
 

stnylan

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Aren't family squabbles always such fun.

Good to see you writing again.
 
Holly Danvorn, Lady of Sam's Throne

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I recently was playing with the idea of writing an AAR based on my recent playing HOI4 as Brazil, and at some point while reading about the latest update for the After the End mod I remembered/realized I still had this unfinished project. I wrote this chapter back in October(!), and I'm not convinced that it's good, but I'm going to work on this again. Fortunately, the semester is nearly over, so I look forward to having more free time soon.

stnylan: Thank you!
Specialist290: Thank you! I always enjoy seeing new After the End AARs too.
Solomon Barbarossa: Thank you! Hopefully this doesn't disappoint!



2
Holly


June 2, 2694
Harrison, County of Sam's Throne, Duchy of Waxhaw
(American State of Arkansas)​



Holly hadn’t expected her eldest sister to try to arrest her. Not only had Juniper sent Henry of Dardanelle to arrest her, but she had somehow found out about Holly’s plot to kill her.

“How do you think she found out?”





Holly, her husband Dennis, and Lamar, the local man Holly had appointed as her informal “spymaster”, were sitting in the same room where Holly and Dennis had met with Lord Henry the day before. Before they began, Holly had arranged for a servant to bring some wine to the room. It was already a warm morning, and promised to be a warmer day. The closed doors and windows certainly didn’t help.

“I’m… not sure, ma’am.” After a pause, Lamar said, “But let me assure you, I’m working on finding that out.”

Holly had been on the verge of saying something when Dennis spoke.

“Are you?”

Dennis probably would have been better at Lamar’s job, Holly reflected. She might have to consider replacing Lamar in the future, though Lamar did have the advantage of local connections. Despite sharing the Revelationist faith of most of the people in her lands, Dennis would probably always be known as a foreigner unless he started sounding like a native of the Ozark hills instead of the distant plains of Nebraska.

“Yessir. I’ve already told my agents to keep their ears to the ground and see what they can find out.”

“I see.” Dennis didn’t sound convinced.

“What about the people you sent to Little Rock?”

“Don’t worry, my lady, it’s taken care of.”

Dennis set a hand on Holly’s lap under the table and squeezed her thigh.

“I hope you are right,” he said. “Are you certain that one of your people didn’t tell Juniper about our scheme?”

“What?” Lamar sounded authentically shocked, at least. “Why would you suggest such a thing, m’lord?”

“Well,” Holly drawled, “if you don’t mind my saying so, spies aren’t known to be trustworthy.”

Lamar’s brows furrowed, but he didn’t say anything. Holly thought she noticed Lamar’s gaze dip toward her chest. This dress wasn’t particularly low-cut, but she thought a lower dress would have distracted him too much.

“We’re fortunate that Juniper is honorable,” Holly said before he could speak. “If it were up to Lord Henry, I’m sure he would have rather ambushed me, or perhaps arranged a hunting accident like he did for his late wife a few years ago.” Juniper would never have agreed to that, of course, but Holly and Juniper’s father the late Duke Earl might have been willing to arrange an “accident” if one of his vassals had been plotting against him.

“Maybe,” said Lamar. “Still, since the Northmen have sacked Springfield and Republic and are raiding near Ozark, at least Juniper can’t bring men from that direction.”

“That’s not very reassuring. Can’t she still muster more men than we can? How many men can she muster?”

Lamar looked confused for a moment.

“Um… I’m not sure, ma’am, but I think she can muster about a thousand men from Fayetteville and the surrounding lands.”

Dennis joined in. “What about Rolla, Joplin, and Russellville?”

“Actually,” said Holly, “let’s get Dedan- I bet he knows how many we could muster.”

“Good idea, ma’am,” Lamar said. “What about Abbot Abibo?”

“Is he back from Mount Judea yet?”

“I don’t think so, but he should be here soon.”

“Well, we can talk to him later. Have Dedan come here so we can discuss calling up the levy.”

Lamar went to the door and stepped outside to speak to the guard for a moment before returning.

“He’s on his way.”

“Good.”

Dennis poured Lamar, Holly, himself, and Dedan a cup of wine. As he set the pitcher on the table and Holly took a sip of her wine, Dedan appeared at the door. He was wearing simple clothing, but from the sweat that was visible on his forehead and his reddened face, he must have been helping train the men.



“You wanted to see me, ma’am? Sir?”

“Have a seat, Dedan, and take a drink.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

Dedan drank from his cup, and after a moment, Holly asked, “How many men can we muster?”

Dedan set his cup on the table and looked thoughtful for a second.

“Maybe about five hundred?”

“How do you think those five hundred would do against a thousand or more of Juniper’s men?”

Dedan’s brow furrowed.

“Uh… If you don’t mind my saying so, ma’am, I’m not sure they’d do very well.”

“What if it we didn’t meet them in pitched battle?”

“Hm...” Dedan looked thoughtful again for a moment. “They might do better.”

“Then it’s decided. Call up the levy, and we’ll meet my beloved sister in the field. Let her try to arrest me.”

“As you wish, my lady.” Dedan gulped down some wine and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “If you excuse me, I’ll go get ready.”

“Please do,” said Holly. After Dedan bowed and took his leave, she turned to Lamar, who was sipping his wine.

“And you’ll continue to investigate how Juniper learned of the plot against her, and keep me informed of any developments from Little Rock?”

“Of course, my lady.”

“Then you are dismissed.”

“Ma’am.” Lamar stood, bowed to Holly and Dennis, and left.

Dennis stood, opened the windows, and turned to Holly.

“Who’s going to lead your men?”

“I will, of course.” Holly stood and tried to remember the last time she had worn armor or trained with weapons.

“You will?” Dennis seemed surprised.

“My father insisted that all of his daughters receive some training at arms, particularly once it began to look like he wouldn’t have any sons. Juniper always was his favorite.”

“I see. When was the last time you trained with weapons?”

“The siege of Fayetteville, probably.” After a moment, she continued, “I hadn’t thought about that for a while.”

It had been a long time since she had thought about the siege. Fortunately, as one of the daughters of Duke Earl, she was merely taken prisoner when Fayetteville surrendered, but she did not enjoy being a prisoner of the self-styled Duke of Arkansas or being humiliated on his orders.

“It’s almost been 5 years since Mother, Winona, and I were taken prisoner by the duke of Arkansas, and Winona’s still a prisoner! What has Juniper ever done to free her?” That was one thing that had bothered Holly- Juniper claimed she was working on freeing Winona, but Holly had been unable to learn about any attempts to ransom Winona or help her escape from captivity.

“I don’t know, but hopefully the people Lamar sent to Little Rock can find something out.”

Her captivity seemed relatively short, Holly supposed. Nearly 5 years later, Winona was still in Little Rock, presumably rotting in a pit (if she wasn’t already dead) while Springfield, which she had inherited from Duke Earl, was being raided by Northmen, who would probably carry off or destroy anything of value if they hadn’t already. Springfield, the surrounding lands, and the towns of Republic and Ozark would probably take years to recover from the depredations of three thousand Northmen.

“I hope so.” Holly felt like Juniper had a lot to answer for, but her clenched fists loosened when she felt Dennis wrapping his arms around her and she moved her arms to return the hug.

“What do you need to do to get ready?”

His tone was serious, but she replied lightly “Oh, I can think of a few things...”

After a moment, she continued. “I could change into some armor and practice in the yard, go riding, look over the armory and larder… Of course, I could also send you to go do those things, but,” she said as she pulled back and looked into his eyes, “I can think of something we need to do first.”

He squeezed her and replied, in the same playful tone, “I think I know what you mean.”
 

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Pleasantly surprised to see this getting updated :)

Holly and her levies might not be able to withstand her sister's full forces, but centrally located as Sam's Throne is, she might well have a chance at defeating her in detail, one piece at a time.

Of course, those three thousand Northmen may end up spoiling all of Duchess Juniper's fun, too...
 
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Very nice to see an update
 
Father Kelley, Court Chaplain of Waxhaw

Alex Borhild

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Specialist290: That would have been interesting! Probably a more compelling story, too. Haha
stnylan: Thanks!

My original plan for this update had been to write from the perspective of one of Juniper's agents in Little Rock, as a look at the "cloak and dagger" theater that, ultimately, didn't have any effect on the war. I decided to instead write from the perspective of a character that actually existed in the game.

Also for this update, I'm including a photo I took a couple years ago when I took my then-girlfriend to Arkansas for her birthday to look at some waterfalls. The scenic overlook where I took this photo is near Jasper, Arkansas (south of Harrison and north of Russellville, conveniently) and overlooks the Buffalo River valley- according to the sign nearby, 2169 feet above sea level and overlooking the deepest canyon in the Ozarks, 1414 feet below.

3
Kelley

June 25, 2694
Somewhere south of Harrison, Duchy of Waxhaw
(American State of Arkansas)



photo taken May 6, 2017 near Jasper, Arkansas
by the author




Kelley the Hunter, court chaplain of Waxhaw (late February 2695)

Kelley had spent nearly two weeks in and around Russellville before he led his men north toward Harrison. After Lord Henry’s return from Harrison, Duchess Juniper had called up the levy from Fayetteville and Russellville and, due to his martial skill, sent him to Russellville to command the Russellville levy. Lord Henry had not been thrilled by the idea, but Duchess Juniper had felt that Lord Henry could not be spared, while Kelley’s role as court chaplain could be fulfilled in Juniper’s camp and court by other priests with less martial talent. Lord Henry’s son and heir Javan had been surprised when Kelley appeared in Russellville with his orders, but he had done what he could to help muster the levy. Still, Kelley had been told that Juniper could muster about a thousand men from Fayetteville and Holly could muster about half that, so Kelley would have felt better if he had been able to recruit more than, if he could remember right, about one hundred and thirty men.

“Are you sure you should be riding ahead like this, sir?”

Kelley turned his head to see his squire, Earl.

“Why shouldn’t I lead my men?”

Kelley turned to look behind him. Most of his few cavalry were riding ahead and behind the army as scouts, though the hills and forest were not ideal horse country. Some of his archers and light infantry were also scouting and guarding the flanks, though of course they wouldn’t be able to cover as much ground as the cavalry. Aside from the few horsemen he was riding with, he could see most of his hundred men and women and the baggage train behind him.

“What if Holly attacks Russellville instead of waiting for Juniper to come to her?”

“What if she does?” replied Kelley. “According to what I’ve been told, Lady Holly can muster around five hundred men, about half of the number Duchess Juniper can muster. Duchess Juniper may have been her father’s favorite daughter and learned strategy and tactics from him, but Holly isn’t a complete fool. Her strength may be making money and not swinging a sword, but she’ll probably stay near Harrison and try to lure Juniper into a siege, or some other tactic where her smaller numbers aren’t a disadvantage. What good would it do Holly if Juniper takes Harrison while she is trying to lay siege to Russellville?”

“You’re right. She probably couldn’t go to Springfield, Rolla, or Joplin, either.”

“No, I’m sure Juniper has men watching the roads north to Springfield and Rolla, and if Juniper tried to go past Fayetteville to Joplin I bet Juniper would be able to flank Holly. Those three thousand Northmen are still raiding near Springfield, and I bet Holly doesn’t have enough money to persuade them to either join against her sister or to leave her be.”

“Three thousand!”

“Yes, unfortunately.” Kelley took a deep breath. “Duchess Juniper would rather fight the heathens than her own sister. Holly’s five hundred men, even if she was able to get them to Russellville, Rolla, Joplin, or Springfield, is probably not enough for a proper siege of any of them, but just enough men she thinks she can defy her sister and liege.”

"That’s too bad.”

“Yes, it is, and that’s why I think we’re fairly safe. Every man Holly sends away from Harrison is a man she won’t have to put against her sister, and if she sends more than a token force from Harrison, she’s a bigger fool than I thought. Presuming it’s less than a hundred men, any token force she sends we can probably handle.”

“That makes sense. How long until we get to Harrison?”

“If we don’t run into any major obstacles, maybe a couple days.”

“What do you think we’ll find at Harrison?”

“There’s always the possibility that Holly defeats Juniper, but I think it’s more likely that well either find a battle or a siege. We might even arrive right before the fighting starts, but I doubt it.”
 

Specialist290

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Well, it sounds like matters are moving swiftly to a final decision, and apparently in Juniper's favor. Unless the Duchess herself suffers an unfortunate mishap on the battlefield, it looks like the rebellion may end rather soon.
 

stnylan

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It does rather sound like mattesr are coming to a head.