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blklizard

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The Misguided Druids

Chapter 202

Few minutes later, more screams were heard deep in the forest before a cry, resembling that of a dying beast, reached the camp. The cry was so horrific that some of the Langobards soldiers were trembling in their boots staring into the forest wide-eyed. Then, there was once again silence. The two generals quickly formed a small group of thirty men and headed to the location they heard the cry. In the dark, moving through the dense forest was quite difficult but the group eventually made it to a clearing. There were a dozen or so men that had their heads smashed in or had their neck at an impossible angle. Two survivors were being tended by fellow soldiers while the rest stood in a circle around something. The generals ordered the man with the torch to come illuminate the thing and what they revealed had everyone taking a step back. The earlier accounts were accurate that the creature had a body of a human. However, the head of a horned beast was nothing more than helmet of an animal no one can identify. Some sort of paint was traced along the helmet giving it a more terrifying sensation. The generals did a quick count and noticed that there must have been at least three dozen deep wounds in the corpse. They questioned the soldiers learning that the creature was still resisting until one of them managed to stab his sword straight into its sternum. They claimed the beast kept swing its club at them and killed many while wounding a few. They also stated that several corpses were taken away by the beasts that ran away.

The two generals knelt down to take a closer look at the creature. What struck them first was the smell that suggested these Druids weren't in baths and cleanliness. Osvald would be the one to take the helmet off despite having difficulty pulling it off. The helmets seemed to fit onto the head so well that he needed daggers to pick apart the helmet. When the head was revealed, everyone was shocked to see a face that resembled their own. They have just discovered that these Druids who terrorize the interior were merely humans that wore a horned helmet and had terrifying strength. The generals ordered the men to carry the corpse back to camp so everyone can have a look at it (or him). The two generals hoped that their men would be less fearful once they knew what they faced off again. Fighting against creatures that one didn't know could put their men on a mental disadvantage. Once the soldiers knew that they were facing off against larger men who actually aren't that different from them, the generals felt confident that they could reinstall some calm into their men. Five soldiers were already lifting the Druid and were carrying the corpse when several large creatures came out of the darkness. These creatures were silent and they alerted the Langobards men only when one of them stepped on a branch. Everyone turned around in time to see five Druids charging at them. When they saw five giants beasts charging them with large clubs in their hands, all of them froze in place as if they were in a trance.

Osvald was the first to snap out of his trance and unsheathed his weapon to fight the creature nearest to him. He raised his shield in time to block the first strike of his enemy but the blow knocked the shield clean out of his hands. Without a moment to think, Osvald ducked seeing him dodge the second blow as he swung his sword at the knees of the Druid. Osvald felt his sword draw blood but the Druid seemed unfazed with its club ready for a blow downwards. Meanwhile, the other general and the men snapped out of their trance and engaged in battle. Unlike Osvald, the four soldiers that engaged the Druids first took direct hits to their head ending their lives instantly. Preben fared better by using his quick feet to avoid the enemy's attacks. As for the soldiers that were carrying the corpse earlier, they dropped the corpse to draw their bows and arrows. These men waited patiently and fired whenever an opening show up. The arrows would hit the Druids' soft spots but they continued fighting. Soon, the two generals decided to withdraw seeing their chances of victory low. The thirty men they brought with them and the twenty survivors that were at the clear has dwindled to only five soldiers who were supporting with bow and arrow. At first, the remaining three Druids made no attempts to stop them from backing away. However, just as Preben entered the forest and Osvald was the only one in the clearing, the Druids attacked.

The largest of the Druids made his war cry that seemed to shake the floor itself before he charged forward. The Druid was very fast catching the Langobards off guard and his first blow smashed Preben right in the head sending the general crashing into a nearby tree. When he landed, he wasn't moving which made Osvald believe his brother was killed. The Druid was going to attack Osvald next but it was taken by surprise when the outraged Osvald charged at it with his sword aiming to disembowel it. Osvald was no longer thinking logically as he was determined to take the beast with him. The Druid barely managed to avoid the worst as the sword only made a deep wound on its side avoiding any organs. As the Druid sidestepped, one of its companions didn't react fast enough and crashed right into it. The companion, however, saved the large Druid's life seeing it taking a ballista bolt to the head. Apparently, several officers in the camp quickly gathered their engineers to quickly assemble a ballista they brought with them. A hundred or so men, with a few operating the lone ballista, made steady progress to the clearing when they heard the war cry. The ballista crew set up their weapon and waited for an opportunity to arise. When the large Druid sidestepped, one of the crew members fired the bolt which was meant to kill the large Druid but its companion managed to knock it to the ground and took the bolt for itself . Despite having reinforcements, the battle was far from over.

The large Druid noticed the enemy the reinforcements and, with incredible mobility, closed the distance between it and Osvald delivering a blow to the general's stomach knocking his breath out. Then, it lifted the general onto its shoulder before making its escape with the other living Druid. The two creatures disappeared into the darkness without making a sound and the only noise was from the incoming Langobards soldiers. The reinforcements arrived onto the clearing only to find the aftermath of a horrific battle. There were several dozen of their comrades dead while only four casualties for the enemy. The soldiers didn't pursue in the darkness fearing they would enter a trap. Meanwhile, the officer leading the reinforcements spoke with the five soldiers who stood in the rear and learned that one of their generals was taken while the other one took a blow to the head that most likely killed him. The officer immediately took up leadership by giving orders for the five soldiers to keep carrying the corpse to camp while everyone else helped carry the corpse of their comrades where they would get a proper burial at the camp. The officer himself would take several men with him to locate the general who laid where he fell after colliding with the tree. The officer looked back before he knelt down to carry the general. He saw too many losses so early in the campaign and, with one general dead and the other captured, the Langobards forces might need to withdraw until reinforcements came. The officer realized that they were ill-prepared for this campaign and may need the blessing of the gods if they hoped to find victory at the end.
 
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The Misguided Druids

Chapter 203

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The men at the camp were shocked to see one general carried by two soldiers while the other was nowhere to be seen. When one of them dared to ask, the officer merely said one was dead and other was taken. The news spread throughout the camp rapidly instantly delivering a morale blow to everyone. Many were starting to develop doubt about their ability to leave the interior alive. Some were even considering the idea of desertion hoping that they might get out while the Druids were focused on the main group. The Langobards army looked as though it would soon disintegrate with the campaign ending in complete failure. However, later generations, the few that knew of this story, would claim the gods of the Langobards didn't abandon these men and performed an act of miracle. Just as the army was about to fracture, the general, Preben, suddenly groaned as he reached for his head. Nearby soldiers watched as the general they assumed was dead has risen from the dead to lead them once again. These soldiers called for medics to tend the general of his injuries. Medics rushed over to look over the general's injuries and the miracle spread through the camp quicker than the bad news that spread earlier, if that was even possible. The soldiers saw hope with the rise of their general. Those that thought of desertion earlier immediately put the dishonorable idea out of their minds. The army was whole again and would fight another day.

Preben was having a terrible concussion from the blow he took to the head. His helmet, made stronger than those used by the average soldier, took the worst of the blow seeing Preben's skull spared. The medics used herbs specifically used for concussions and, for the time being, they were relieved to see the general showing signs of a major concussion and nothing else. Two soldiers would help Preben back into his tent where he would be resting for the night. The soldiers, with renewed hope, were determined to protect their general from further harm. They would form shifts on their own and the rest of the night would remain peaceful. The night of rest was enough for Preben to sit up on his bed but a nasty headache still occurred periodically. The medics entered the tent upon learning he was awake so they could do a quick checkup confirming that the general will be fine in a few days. Preben then noticed that his brother wasn't in the tent and asked about his whereabouts. The medics refused to look at him making his worried. He looked up at one of the officers and demanded to know about his brother. When he received word that the Druids have taken him, Preben rose up immediately to grab his weapon and shield before pushing past the officers. He made his way through the camp where his presence was noticed by the soldiers. The soldiers felt relief seeing their general ready for battle. None of them stopped him as he made his way out the camp leaving on his own. A few of the soldiers, realizing what was taking place, immediately grabbed their gears to join the general.

The sudden departure of the general caught many soldiers off guard but they quickly realized what was taking place. The soldiers worked quickly in disassembling the camp so they could join the march. None of them had the fear that troubled them the day before. The general has unintentionally given them hope and many of these soldiers were ready for anything thrown at them. Of course, it did help that a Druid corpse was brought back revealing the Druids to be overgrown men that exhibited more strength. Like them, the Druids can be killed with weapons which was evident with the four Druid corpses. It took another hour before the Langobards army was in proper formation and, with the lack of fear for what awaited them deeper in the interior, the army made good time. However, the march forward would soon stop as Preben noticed an odd sight up ahead. Initially, he didn't believe what he saw and asked those near him to confirm. Before the Langobards army stood a large village. In the village, there were many people, both young and old and all those in between, that looked no different from the locals of British Isles. The Langobards believed that, according to the stories of the locals, the interior was only home to Druids and nothing else. The fact that there was a settlement definitely changed their view of the interior dramatically. Preben hoped he could find some answers at the village.

Initially, the villagers didn't notice the army marching towards them. A few kids were the first to look up and call out about the strangers heading towards them. The villagers, unsure who was approaching them or the intent of these stranger, ran back to their homes and closed their doors. Once Preben got closer to the village, he noticed that the villagers lived in poor built mud huts that probably offered little protection from the elements. A few fields with vegetation were what Preben assumed to be farms though they were truly pitiful. There was a small stream that provided some irrigation for the fields. He looked at the barren landscape surrounding the village and felt pity towards these people. By the time he arrived outside the village, the villagers have all locked themselves into their huts as though believing the huts could protect them. Preben began to speak out in common Brittonic which was the language he learned from the locals living at the coast. At first, he feared that the villagers spoke an entirely different tongue and was going to try a few other tongues he picked up. However, someone emerged from one of the huts responding to his words. The young woman spoke common Brittonic with a different dialect but the two of them could communicate just fine. The first thing Preben asked the woman was where they were at.

The woman stated that her village had no name. Their people have lost their freedom a long time ago and they had a sole purpose in life. When asked what the purpose was, the woman replied that her people were meant to feed the Misguided (this was the translation that historians agreed upon) Druids. Preben asked the woman why they don't attempt to escape only to see the woman laugh. The woman claimed that they couldn't hope to escape from this village. The forest was the home of the Druids and all those that attempted to escape would face severe punishment. She then asked Preben why he was here. Preben said that his mission was to either kill or pacify the Misguided Druids. After his encounters, Preben concluded that there was no way to pacify these creatures seeing only death the suitable fate of these creatures. The woman was laughing at the remark but stopped when she realized Preben wasn't kidding. Preben then asked the woman her name receiving Tia as her answer. He asked Tia if the Druids kept prisoners and was relieved when she said yes. Tia explained that the Druids kept something called the Wicker Man that was a great, wooden statue that reached to the skies. The Druids would make sacrifices to it to please their gods. Preben suddenly found hope as he realized that he could still save his brother. When he asked Tia where the Wicker Man was located, she looked at him as though he was crazy. Still, she said the Wicker Man could be found in Hades Valley.
 

blklizard

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The Misguided Druids

Chapter 204

Preben bombarded Tia with a few more questions which she chose to not answer yet. Instead, she decided to tell the history of her people and the origins of the Misguided Druids.

Our people were once the proud Druids that ruled over this land. We lived content lives as we played a vital role in the region. We communicated with the gods and our words were the law. We were respected by all and our advices were valued by all those across the land. Those days were the golden age of our people but centuries have passed since then. As you can see, we are no longer the great people our ancestors once were. In part, we brought this fate upon ourselves. We gave birth to the Misguided Druids and we would pay the price in the end. You may wonder who the Misguided Druids were. They were no different from other Druids at the time, at least, not on the surface. One may see them no different from others. However, they had seeds of evil sowed into them long ago. For many decades, the seeds failed to flourish seeing them remaining good like the rest of us. One fateful day would see seedlings rising from those seeds. The change was gradual which made their transition very subtle. We were careless and failed to see them gather weapons secretly. Once their preparations were ready, they struck with ferocity killing most of our men and enslaving the men they considered weak or harmless. The women and children would be enslaved as well while the elderly, ill or handicapped were killed mercilessly. Overnight, they took over the settlement starting the dark ages for this land. We thought the worst was over but it has only just begun. Our nightmares would soon come true leaving us helpless against these monsters.

Initially, they would continue ruling as though nothing has changed. Yet, they would soon introduce a horrific ritual called human sacrifice. They claimed that their gods needed nourishment and humans were needed. They also added that humans that committed crimes were especially alluring for the gods. You must understand that, when they took over, acts of good were considered crimes. Thus, those that showed kindness or aided others would be destined to be sacrificed. Human sacrifices were first performed by burning a person on a pyre which was already a horrific sight. They forced our people to watch as the criminals repent for their mistakes. Later on, the Misguided Druids came up with the idea of a Wicker Man. A giant statue made of wood would be built in the Hades Valley and many criminals would be herded into the cages that served as the body of the Wicker Man. When the cages were full, the Wicker Man would be set on fire seeing everyone in the cages screaming as they get burned alive. We were fortunate to not watch what they claimed to be a holy spectacle. The nightmare would not stop there. After a while, we learned that the burned corpses would serve as food for these Misguided Druids. We were horrified to learn about them eating humans, even if they were dead. There seemed to be no limits to what these creatures could accomplish and many of us wondered if they were indeed once our kins. Soon, we came to the realization that we were nothing more than a food supply and labor force for these creatures. We were no different than a domesticated cow or goat that we once owned.

As decades passed, the Misguided Druids went through a change. They were growing larger than us which they associated with the blessings of their gods. Let me clarify here that we don't know what gods they worship. We have no intentions of knowing these gods other than the fact they were cruel towards us. As for the changes, the creatures began to wear helmets made out of animal skulls. They began with any skull they can acquire but they weren't ever satisfied. They would go and hunt every living thing hoping to find the right helmet until they came across an animal even we didn't know about. By eavesdropping, we learned that the animal was found in a glade hidden deep in the forest. The animal was killed in great numbers with their skulls kept in a secret location. Once the childred of the Misguided Druids were born, they would be given a skull as helmet. As they aged, a new helmet would be given to them until they reached adulthood seeing them obtaining one of the larger skulls that remained with them until they died. These creatures seemed satisfied with their change but there would be a minor tweak. Due to their enormous bodies, they have developed an incredible appetite seeing them needing nearly triple the amount of food they normalled needed. The sacrifices took place at regular intervals and breaking such intervals were seen as blasphemy. Thus, they began experimenting with eating humans raw which became the norm that continued to this day. We were left alone in the village where we struggled to get by until the Misguided Druids needed sacrifices or, simply, a meal. They would take some of us leaving the rest of us to continue reproducing so their food supply remain safe.

There are several villages scattered across the land where the creatures could find their meals of sacrifices. We are merely a small herd waiting for the predator. We have no hope against these creatures who are superior in every way. We have rebelled once but it failed miserably. Our leaders were burned in the Wicker Man while the rest of us were forced to watch. Since then, we have given up on opposing the Misguided Druids. We have accepted the fact that there was no escape except death. We were content that we will be given a swift death before they feed on us. Our lives are filled with uncertainty. We have no future and even our past will be forgotten one day. No use pondering on the brighter past when a darker future awaited you. We were once called the Druids but we are now nothing more than livestock. This is our story.


Tia looked up and saw tears in the eyes of the Langobards soldiers. Preben took her hand and gave her a reassuring squeeze. He then stood up and gave orders for his men to set up camp around the village. Preben has noticed earlier that there was a large stretch of flat land surrounding the village which would give his men plenty of time to react to incoming Druids. The story has touched him in more ways than one but, most importantly, it gave him hope that he still had time to save his brother. Preben knew Hades was the name of the Greek God of the Underworld which seemed a fitting name for the valley if the sacrifices were performed there. The general knew that he would ask Tia how her people knew about Hades another time. At the moment, he wanted his men to set up camp and prepare for nighttime. Meanwhile, he hoped to learn as much as he could about this enemy of his. Seeing the poor state of the village huts, Preben wanted to free these people from their prison. To do so and to save his brother, he must kill the Druids. Preben once regretted coming to the interior but he has realized that he was meant to come. He has learned much from listening to his elders but the stories did little to show him what truly existed in this world. Now that he found a purpose in life, he was determined to complete the campaign and unify the people of the Isles under a just leader.
 

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The Wicker Man seems familiar. Have you ever played "Nethergate" or "Nethergate: Resurrection" by Spiderweb Software?
 

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The Wicker Man seems familiar. Have you ever played "Nethergate" or "Nethergate: Resurrection" by Spiderweb Software?

I'm afraid I've never heard of that game. I was just checking Druids on wiki and saw the Wicker Man which reminded me of something I watched on YouTube. Truth be told, the idea of the Misguided Druids did arise from a cinematic video of Ryse: Son of Rome I've watched awhile back. Never played the game but it definitely gave me some inspiration for this AAR. I made major tweaks and added my own stuff (being Langobards and not Rome).

The Misguided Druids

Chapter 205

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The Langobards army would set up their camp and, for the rest of the night, there were no sign of Druids. The villagers have learned to not fear these stranger and many bombarded Preben with questions that he tried his best to answer. Meanwhile, the general gathered as much information as he could about Hades Valley learning that the Druids have set up their main base there. To attack Hades Valley was basically targeting the heart of the Misguided Druids. Preben also learned from Tia that he had two weeks before the Druids would burn the Wicker Man and his brother which gave him some time to work with. Preben ordered his men to get well rested at the camp as he went over many plans with his officers. The villagers didn't dare to venture deeper into Druid territory seeing the Langobards entering enemy territory with much uncertainty. Preben has seen the dire consequences of an ill prepared squad and hoped not to see the rerun of similar failures. He knew that he might not live the next time he get bashed in the head seeing his brother's fate sealed. From their last engagement, Preben noticed the effectiveness of the ballista in taking out Druids and decided to utilize it fully. At the moment, Preben was just amazed at his brother's insistence on bringing the weapons for the campaign. He stated that they might needed such weapons and experience has proven him right. The Langobards army rested at the village for a week with no signs of Druids which suggested that the creatures might be smarter than one may give credit to. In addition, this further proved to the Langobards soldiers that the creatures they faced picked on the weak and vulnerable and, to a certain extent, feared them boosting their morale for the upcoming march to Hades Valley.

Once the week passed, the Langobards army packed up their camp as they progressed further into the untamed wilderness. The villagers said their farewells wishing success for the warriors while Tia gave Preben a kiss that made the general blush. The brave soldiers marched into the forest with renewed confidence against the enemy they once feared. The army was marching in a narrower column which, if under attacked, would force the Druids to come out further in the open. The ballistas were kept in sacks carried by crews that could reassemble the weapons in mere seconds. These crew members were expected to be on the lookout and fire at Druids the moment they set their eyes on the creatures. The march to Hades Valley took three days through the dark forest void of all life and, surprisingly, there were no attacks by the Druids along the way. Preben didn't know if he should be glad or worried about the development. He knew these creatures were capable of great brutality but he still couldn't confirm if they were capable of ambushes or sly tactics. Still, the Langobards army arrived outside Hades Valley unscathed and Preben , with his officers, sneaked to the edge of the cliff overlooking the Druid base. What first caught their eyes was the Wicker Man which did indeed rose to the sky. If it wasn't meant for human sacrifice, the Langobards might actually praise such a magnificent structure. After they got over their initial surprise of the Wicker Man, they began analyzing the base set up by the Druids.

The base was a poor term for what they saw before them. There were many holes dug out but nothing resembling huts anywhere. This could only suggest that the Druids don't live indoor and, instead, embraced the wilderness to its fullest. As he estimated the number of Druids in the base, Preben was amazed by the sheer number of enemies they needed to face. Initial estimates put the Druids to up to two hundred strong not including the children, if one could call them that. Preben and his officers also happened to arrive during the meal time of the Druids. They watched the creatures bring in people from other villages and delivered the killing blow before eating the corpses raw. Preben knew the creatures were distracted at this moment and ordered his ballista crews to set up their weapons ready for battle. The Langobards army had ten ballistas which, with the skilled crews, could fire three bolts a minute. Positioned on their vantage point, the ballistas mostly likely had a minute before the Druids reacted and engaged friendly forces. The infantry core were positioned at the flanks with some detachments covering the rear. Once the preparations were made, Preben ordered his ballistas to fire down at the feasting Druids. With coordination, the ballistas fired down killing ten Druids almost instantly. The nearby Druids were puzzled by the projectiles sticking out of their friends and ventured closer to investigate. When a second volley saw the death of ten more Druids, the creatures suddenly realized they were attacked and searched around for their enemy.

It took another volley to fire before the Druids caught sight of the Langobards infantry. With fury, the creatures called to each other and charged the Langobards. The infantry were nervous but they were determined to fight back the creatures. They have seen the creatures died and, having heard the stories of the villagers, they knew that they were fortunate to only die with a swift death instead of living days after days worried about being the next meal. The ballistas kept firing with precision lessening the numbers of Druids but the mass soon engaged the infantry core that, while braced, held the line. The soldiers knew that a single cut wasn't enough and held their shields high as they jabbed at their enemy. The fact that the Druids were fighting at a choke point proved to be an advantage for the Langobards soldiers who had the supports of the ballistas. At this close of a range, the ballistas bolts could penetrate through one Druids hitting the next resulting in two kills with one bolt at times. Preben watched the battle intently and ordered soldiers to reinforce the line every time the Druids took out a rank of the soldiers. Both sides were losing men, or beasts, quickly but the Langobards had more to start with. The Druids at the chokepoint was dwindling and, as victory seemed to be assured for the Langobards, the unexpected happened when a horde of Druids came in from the rear. The detachments barely had time to react but they could do little to fend off the masses of creatures bearing down on them. Preben, along with his officers and reserve, would be forced to engage this unexpected force in the rear.

The detachments were sent flying seeing many never rising again. The few that did rise would continue fighting with Preben and the reserve supporting the rear. The two sides were engaged and, in the tight quarters of the forest, the Druids had the advantage. Many Langobards soldiers were slaughtered while only a few Druids were killed. Minutes later, the other engagement concluded with Langobards victory which freed up all the infantry there to fight the enemy in the forest. The ballistas could also turn around targeting the hapless enemy that managed to stumble into their line of sight. The Druids had the advantage initially but the tide soon turned as more Langobards soldiers rushed in seeing many fighting one beast. The Langobards soldiers no longer feared the beast which saw them fighting with the same ferocity of their enemy. The Druids fell one by one until the few remaining survivors fled from the battlefield. Preben and his officers thought they have won the day when they heard soldiers calling out to them. Soldiers reported that the Wicker man was set on fire by a giant Druid. Upon hearing the news, Preben led his men straight for the Wicker Man determined to take out anything that stood in his way. They ran past the piles of Druid corpses as they entered the base which was largely abandoned. Standing between them and the Wicker Man was the Druid that knocked Preben out and took Osvald prisoner.
 

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The Misguided Druids

Chapter 206

Preben only had a vague recollection of the Druid before him. He has heard more about the Druid from his men and had been looking for this opportunity for a rematch. He knew the Druid before him was not only strong but fast. This time, he only wore a soldier's helmet which wouldn't protect him from a direct blow by the beast. Thus, he must stay clear of the beast's blows and find opportunities to attack. Preben ordered many of his men to go around the Druid to the Wicker Man before leading his most elite warriors against the abomination before them. Preben knew pride would spell his end if he took on the beast alone which saw him bringing with him some of his best men. The Druid let loose a war cry that shook the valley and charged forward. Preben and his men waited for the last moment to sidestep the beast as it failed to hit anyone. Before the Druid could take another swing, it would take a ballista bolt through its right arm forcing it to drop its club. The Langobards men then slashed away and, whenever the beast swung its left fist, they simply leaped backward to avoid the blow. Without the club, the Druid no longer had the reach it had and another bolt would soon find itself in the creature's left knee. The creature called out in pain and stared right at Preben sending fear into the general. The Druid was down on one knee as its free hand was placed over the bolt that pierced its knees. The creature tried many times to stand but the damage was too great.

As they gazed at each other, Preben saw the eyes beneath the helmet that resembled no eyes he saw. They appeared as the eyes of some supernatural being that could only be a creation of the death god. For a brief moment, Preben couldn't break his eye contact with the Druid. Then, the contact was broken when a bolt pierced right into the creature's spine ending its life instantly. Preben used his sword to steady himself while keeping an eye on the Druid that was down on one knee but refused to fall down. When one more bolt struck the beast's body, the corpse finally fell flat on the ground with blood oozing from the wounds. Preben and his men were relieved that they had the ballistas for support or they would have otherwise suffered greater casualties. They stood in a semi-circle around the Druid half-expecting it to rise again but it stayed down. When men were shouting behind them, everyone turned their attention to the Wicker Man which was completely engulfed in flames. The smoke from the fire has made it impossible to see the prisoners in the cages and the soldiers were fighting a losing battle to put out the flames. Preben looked around the Druid base but found nothing he could use to battle the blaze. Just as he was frustrated at his helplessness, he heard a bolt flew above him into the blaze. Moments later, several more bolts would follow as the balliasta crews were firing at the Wicker Man itself.

Preben turned around seeing the ballistas getting reloaded as more shots were fired into the blaze. Initially, he wasn't clear what these men were trying to do but shouts nearby soon clued him in. Someone in one of the battlista crews had a hunch that the fire was weakening the support of the Wicker Man which meant that their bolts could break the supports. Without much time to aim, the ballistas were all turned towards the Wicker Man as everyone fired at the base of the Wicker Man. The first few volley did little but their persistence soon saw the Wicker Man swaying back and forth. A few more bolts and everyone near the Wicker Mean ducked for cover seeing the great statue crashing down onto the ground. The crash saw several cages shatter as the few prisoners that were still conscious made their way out of the flames. Some Langobards soldiers rushed to aid them while the majority rushed into the blaze to the cages where they lifted the prisoners and carried them out. The soldiers whose clothes were caught on fire got quick showers as those at the sidelines poured buckets of water over them. Once all the prisoners were believed to be freed, everyone moved further away as they watched the Wicker Man burn to ashes. Preben didn't bother watching the spectacle and, instead, searched for his brother amongst the prisoners. To his horror, his brother wasn't there and, when he asked one of the conscious prisoners if he saw his brother, he was told that Osvald was never in the Wicker Man to begin with.

The Wicker Man would take another hour to burn to ashes but, by then, the Langobards army already set up their camp above the valley. The prisoners were given food and water before they slept in a few tents. The soldiers put the Druid corpses in piles and set those piles on fire hoping the flames would permanently remove these creatures from the face of the planet. Meanwhile, other soldiers found the corpses of their comrades and performed a proper burial for these brave men. Preben dug an extra grave which he dedicated for his brother. He knew that there was no way they could retrieve his brother's corpse given the area they had to search. For the rest of the day, the camp remained silent seeing everyone grieving for the dead. The Druid base was eliminated but the Langobards army suffered heavy losses as well. From the freed prisoners, Preben learned that there were still many Druids in the forest that had smaller settlements. This development meant the Langobards army still having a job to do. Lookouts were placed around the perimeter of the camp while many tried to sleep, though many would stay awake through the night. When morning arrived, Preben gave orders for the Langobards army to pack up and escort the freed prisoners to their villages before they separated to target the remaining Druid settlements. As the Langobards army was packing up, several shouts immediately turned the grieving atmosphere to a tense one as everyone grabbed their weapons.

The lookouts saw a group of shadows in the forest and called out to their comrades as they unsheathed their weapons. When the shadows were close enough, the lookouts realized that a group of Druids have stumbled onto their camp. Before the creatures acted, the lookout charged forward with their weapons drawn. These Druids were so surprised with humans charging at them that they froze in place until they received nasty gashes. The blood sent them into a fury as they looked to kill those that gave them the gashes. However, they didn't get a chance as the ballistas fired seeing their bolts finding the necks of the Druids. Several fell while the few remaining were terrified by the weapons of their enemy. Fearing a similar fate, they began to rout but none of them would make it far. The new corpses were set aflame as the army began its march. Prior to the short engagement, everyone was grieving for their losses resulting in bad moods for everyone. The engagement helped many overcome their depression by replacing their grief with anger and hatred for the creatures. The Langobards soldiers now sought to avenge their fallen ones by killing all the Druids. Revenge would push the Langobards army on for the remainder of the campaign. They would show no mercy for the remaining Misguided Druids and, for the next few months, they pushed the Druid population to extinction. That would conclude their campaign in the interior and thus completed their unification of the Isles.

That concludes our Misguided Druids story. Just wanted to put that in for fun and we will return to the False Crusade in the next update. Hope you enjoyed it and I'll see what other extra things I could add in.
 

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The False Crusade

Chapter 207 (Holy Land Campaign [part 1])

Samuel Rivkin was born and raised in Jerusalem. His parents were devout Catholics and he was no different. Rivkin would eventually choose the profession of a priest seeing the position allowed him to be closer to God. Rivkin was a charismatic man who eventually had his own church where he preached. He soon got many followers which included several high ranking city officials who, by abusing their power, helped Rivkin rise to the position of a bishop. Rivkin was initially content in being the bishop of the holy city but, as time passed, his influence in the city grew and so did his wealth and power that would eventually reveal Rivkin's ambitions. Rivkin wasn't a man tolerant of those following different religion from Catholicism. He viewed Catholicism as the one and true faith which put any other faith, including the heretical ones, as a crime towards God himself. Rivkin's religious views would create a gap between the Langobards policies of being tolerant to everyone regardless of their faith and the man himself. Such policies, in the bishop's view, were the creation of those following the Devil and needed to be root out. Rivkin has secretly sent out his followers to execute or, even commit massacres, heretics or heathens in and around Jerusalem. The bishop kept his cleansing a secret because he wasn't foolish enough to challenge the Langobards government outright and risk throwing everything away.

Rivkin has always believed that he was born in Jerusalem for a reason only known by God. He hoped that God would show him the true path and that day arrived when the Pope declared the Crusade. Rivkin has been waiting for the opportunity for a long time seeing God has finally answered his prayer to root out the greatest enemy of Catholicism, the Langobards. While the bishop has seen much success in killing heretics and heathens, the fact that he must do it secretly seemed to slow down the process. With the Crusade, he could now have free rein over the region allowing his cleansing of the land to progress much faster. When Rivkin gained complete control of Jerusalem, he began to spread his influence to the region seeing him finding new and powerful allies. Meeting these new men revealed to Rivkin that he wasn't alone in wanting to see the end of the Langobards. They would make a pact that, should God give them the opportunity, they would join forces and overthrow the nation that was built by the followers of the devil. The time to act has arrived when the Pope sent his agents to the region. It was clear that their views coincided with those of the Pope suggesting that their uprising was indeed the will of God. Rivkin suggested to the agents that they might need some assistance in the situation that the Langobards might amass large armies. The agents returned to Vatican City and, soon after, large chests of ducats were delivered to Jerusalem.

With the wealth they amassed over the decades, Rivkin and his allies already hired many large mercenary armies to do their bidding. The extra ducats from the Pope were kept in reserve should anything go wrong. The mercenary armies were kept a secret as Rivkin and his allies were unsure how the Langobards would react if they learned of the armies. The mercenary soldiers were well trained, well armed and, especially, well paid. These men claimed to fight for God against his enemies but there was no doubt that they valued ducats a lot more than the religion of their contractors. They wisely kept their opinions to themselves knowing that, once the conflict was over, all of them would live in luxury at the rate they were being paid. In the days leading up to the uprising, Rivkin and his allies gathered in Jerusalem to discuss the future of the Holy Lands. Their discussions revolved mostly around how to govern the region after they overthrow the Langobards as though their independence was guaranteed. The meetings would finally have a breakthrough when one of the members found, among old records, an ancient nation called the Kingdom of Judea. The Kingdom of Judea was once a dominant power in the region following the true faith long before others (though many may argue against this). Rivkin and his allies would trace their ancestry claiming that they were the descendents of those that rule over the mighty kingdom. Thus, they were the rightful owners of the Holy Lands with the rights to oust the outsiders called Langobards.

When other regions had uprisings, Rivkin didn't waste time to gather his followers and declared themselves as the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Rivkin would be the head of the kingdom and would be crowned as the first king of the holy nation. The entire Holy Land would rise up with him which included the major players like Jerusalem, Antioch, Tripoli and Edessa. In addition, those living in Cyprus also swore their allegiance to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. With all the regional powers under his command, Rivkin didn't think anything could possibly go wrong. His first act was the root out all heretics and heathens in the region who he believed would betray him at first opportunity. Instead of carrying out his act secretly, the king did it openly as his men forcibly herded heretics and heathens into the open fields where they would dig a large pit that would eventually be their graves. Ten of thousands were killed in days seeing many fleeing from the region searching for sanctuary elsewhere. A few of these refugees arrived at the Kingdom of Armenia where they requested the immediate audience with the king. The Armenian king, Tachar III Rangabe, was hesitant at first to join the Langobards against the rebels. It wasn't that he didn't want to help but he had doubts about his chances to putting down the rebels. Armenia has grow strong by being the vassal of Langobards which the king felt grateful of. However, Rangabe was more or less a pacifist who would avoid war whenever he could. When he heard some refugees requested audience, he immediately granted the request as he often did in his court for ordinary civilians.

The refugees described the chaos in the Holy Land where many of their friends and families were massacred for what they believed in. Their horrific description helped install resolve into the Armenian king who realized that sitting idle in this case would go against all he stood for. His family, along with most of his people, followed a faith different from Catholicism. Despite the difference in religion, the Langobards showed tolerance and both sides benefited for cooperation instead of bloodshed and persecution. After hearing the accounts of the refugees, Rangebe realized that he couldn't stay idle while innocent civilians were persecuted for their beliefs. He knew that the nation of Langobards has stood strong largely because the government were tolerant of people from different cultures and religions. They strove for diplomatic and peaceful policies instead of forcibly converting the people. What was taking place in the Holy Land was the exact opposite of those policies. Those in power of the Kingdom of Jerusalem has committed horrific crimes against ordinary civilians. Staying idle would mean Rangebe allow those people to continue their crimes which was an unacceptable position for him. Needing no more convincing, the Armenian king gathered his forces while sending a messenger to Alans, another vassal of the Langobards. He hoped that Alans' Great Chief would answer his call and they would together eliminate the evil that has plagued the Holy Land.
 
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The False Crusade

Chapter 208 (Holy Land Campaign [part 2])

Alans' Great Chief, Abbas III Ghilzai, has actually finished preparing for war when the Armenian messenger arrived. Ghilzai has longed to achieve greatness only heard of in battles and putting down the massive uprisings was his opportunity for prestige and fame. The Great Chief has gathered fifty thousand men and was about to leave his city when the Armenian messenger arrived. Ghilzai offered the messenger to travel with him as they headed for Armenia where they would merge their forces to put down the rebels. Ghilzai and Rangebe had close tied because they were the only two Langobards vassals in the region. They had many trade agreements that saw people of both nations happy and content with their lives. Ghilzai knew the Armenian king was, more or less, a pacifist and had doubts that the man would be willing to fight. Thus, The Great Chief never bothered sending a messenger which explained why he was surprised to see an Armenian messenger calling him to arms. Knowing that he would be fighting alongside his best friend and rival, Ghilzai felt that their cooperation was a good omen for the battles ahead. Ghilzai led his fifty thousand soldiers out of the Alans capital and they traveled to Armenia where Rangebe, hearing his friend has already arrived at his city gates, rushed to welcome him. In the next few days, the Armenian king gathered his forces of a hundred thousand men and the two armies would march together westwards towards the Holy Land.

The march towards the Holy Land wasn't uneventful though as the two armies encountered many people fleeing persecution in the Holy Land. These refugees told horrific stories of entire villages burnt down while its inhabitants enduring cruel torture before their merciful death. Among the refugees, most were Sunni who embraced the newest religion in the region. The religion was preached by a man called Muhammad but very little was known about the man. There were many incredible stories of the man but no one can confirm those stories. This new religion was quite popular amongst those living on the Arabian peninsula but it never really spread elsewhere. There were many attempts to spread it to Damascus, Egypt, North Africa and even Iberia that saw little changed as not enough people chose to embrace it. Despite Sunnis being a minority in the Middle East, they consisted a large enough percentage of the population that one doesn't pass policies without their approval. Sunnis in Roman controlled territories were persecuted and forcibly converted while those in Langobards territory were free to follow their faith as long as they followed the laws like everyone else. In the Holy Land, the Sunnis generally kept to themselves avoiding others as conflicts did arise from time to time between those of different religions. Overall, they led simply, peaceful lives but the peace would be shattered when Rivkin became the bishop and a dominant figure in local politics. Despite keeping his persecutions secret, the Sunnis figured out the bishop was behind the killings but, powerless, they endured.

When Rivkin and his allies rose in power, the Sunnis, like others that Rivkin considered heretics and heathens, were no longer safe. Innocent people, young and old, would be herded into one place that would become a killing field. Some of the most horrific stories told of torture which the rebels claimed was the punishment of devil followers. Tens of thousands died sending much more fleeing for their lives. Families were separated as people were forced to enter foreign lands, despite still within Langobards borders, where they tried to rebuild their lives. During the persecution, one Sunni called Zohrag Antebian would rise up to make history. He was an ordinary teacher living in a small town when the uprising took place. With the locals, he worked to help get children, women and elderly away from the Holy Land. When survivors reached their town and spoke of the atrocities, Antebian and the locals were worried about their well-being. Antebian stated that there were two paths they could take: they could either wait until their inevitable death or they could resist and have a chance of defeating the rebels. Everyone who remained in the town voted to resist and they picked Antebian as their leader. On that day, Antebian would gather a small force of five hundred which he led around the countryside gathering more support from other refugees. Antebian didn't limit his recruits to Sunnis but, rather, all those that were persecuted. He felt that a common enemy would band them together and make them stronger. He has seen such ways work under Langobards rule and many of those under his banner agreed with him.

Antebian has avoided any direct conflicts with Rivkin and his allies worried that they stood little chance. He stuck to the countryside where he gathered more men and supplies hoping that a professional army arrive to aid them. After a few months of wandering the outskirts of Holy Land, his prayer was answered when he encountered the Armenian and Alans armies. The encounter was unconventional in the way that Antebian and his most loyal men were hunting for food and, when they were chasing the prey, they would encounter Rangebe and Ghilzai. At first, they were too distracted by their captured prey to notice the men staring at them. When one of them turned around, all of them turned with fear in their eyes. Antebian and his men thought they stumbled onto one of Rivkin's forces and that only death awaited them. Rangebe would ride over to speak with them. Antebian, who also happened to be an Armenian, had a conversation with Rangebe which helped him relax upon learning that the armies before them were allies. Rangebe learned from Antebian that the Sunni has gathered a force of ten thousand that was split up into many groups. The groups were scattered across the region and would merge once he called for them. Learning that two armies before him totaled up to a hundred fifty thousand men, Antebian claimed that there was hope for those persecuted under the rebels. The Sunni would offer some of his friends to lead the way for the two armies while he and his remaining men gathered their scattered army so they could oust the evil that has befallen the Holy Land.

Antebian gathered his ten thousand men army without a hitch and joined the two professional armies at Harran which wasn't very far from the capital of the Edessa State, Edessa. Rangebe and Ghilzai agreed that they must first target the outer layers of the Holy Land as they slowly wither down the enemy. They had no idea how many soldiers were at the disposal of the enemy so they shouldn't venture into the Holy Land carelessly. Edessa State was the most northern part of the Holy Land making them the first line of defense. The plan was to take Edessa and, from the captives, they would gather more information on the enemy. Antebian agreed to what he thought was a sound plan and chose to assist whenever and wherever he could. The night that the three armies merge, the three leaders would quietly lead their men to the outskirts of Edessa where they sent a few scouts forward. The scouts would return minutes later reporting that the city gates were open and, from the conversation they overheard from the guards, a small force was sent to a nearby village to kill those siding with the devil. With caution, the three armies moved swiftly across the field undetected largely due to the darkness. Once they arrived close enough to see the faces of the guards lit by the torches, they charged catching the guards completely off guard. The guards were disposed quickly as the armies stormed into the city. The garrison didn't have the time to close the gates and, seeing a massive army entering the gates, rout instantly as they ran for their lives. Edessa would fall that very night.
 
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The False Crusade

Chapter 209 (Holy Land Campaign [part 3])

Unknown to Rangebe, Ghilzai and Antebian, the main army that used to garrison the city headed southwest to cleanse the several villages. The leader of the Edessa State, Dumas Yagil, was leading his forces back to the capital when a few of the soldiers that fled the city encountered him. Once they reported an enemy force has taken the capital, Yagil ordered the execution of men he considered cowards. He then marched onwards to Edessa to retake his capital. With an army of twenty thousand mercenaries, Yagil was confident that he could take on whatever ragtag armies the heretics and heathens have built up since the rebellion. Attacking Edessa was a poor decision which Yagil could have avoided if he got everything out of the soldiers that fled the city. If he had learned the numbers of soldiers on the other side, he may have reconsidered the attack altogether. Thus, the Edessa ruler, in his haste of killing those who viewed as cowards, would soon engage in a battle he couldn't win. Yagil was worried that his residence, with its fine golden monuments and the best weapons one can buy, would be looted and urged his forces on towards the capital. When he arrived, the city gates were still open making him assume that the enemies of God have already abandoned the city upon seeing his army. Without a care in the world, Yagil led his men through the gates into the city and he would breathe his last breath moments later when skirmishers on buildings fired javelins into the midst of his army.

Yagil died instantly along with all those near him. Following that, skirmishers hidden behind the battlements rose up and fired their projectiles at the army below. A large cavalry force would bear down on the wide column of men. Their charge would not only send many mercenaries flying but the sudden disruption would also cause a mass rout seeing the mercenaries fleeing. The Armenian, Alans and resistance forces kept pursuing after men that would slaughter innocent people to satisfy their greed. While some got away, the majority, estimates reached fifteen thousand men, were killed that day. The death of Yagil would also have a significant impact on the region as the officials feared similar fate if they resisted. Thus, many officials in the Edessa State ended their massacres and some even took the initiative to compensate the survivors. Hoping to avoid further bloodshed, the three leaders agreed to spare the lives of the officials on the grounds that they would no longer do harm to innocent civilians. In a span of a month, the Edessa State was once again under Langobards control though representatives from the government have yet to arrive to govern over the land. The three leaders agreed that Antebian would remain behind to help restore the peace. His ten thousand men army would be enough to garrison all the towns and the capital while he seemed the suitable replacement for the deceased Yagil. Rangebe and Ghilzai would say farewell to the new leader of Edessa knowing that their rear is safe as they ventured further into the Holy Land.

Rivkin's Kingdom of Jerusalem consisted of five states: Jerusalem, Tripoli, Antioch, Edessa and Cyprus. Rivkin was the king but his power was only limited to the State of Jerusalem. The other four states enjoyed much autonomy and, as such, the communication between them was lacking at the time. Edessa took a month to fall under "Langobards" control but not even those of the neighboring state, Antioch, was aware of the development. Many may argue that the ruling class of the states, overjoyed with their new independence that allowed them to kill enemies of God at will with impunity, were too busy enjoying their freedom to worry about possible threats elsewhere. However, the truth was the leaders of the states weren't that close. They may have similar goals but there were evidences of discontent amongst them when Rivkin was crowned the king. The other leaders felt they were cheated out of the position by Rivkin. They didn't openly oppose Rivkin knowing that the State of Jerusalem was the strongest of the all five states. Instead, they chose to fight amongst themselves to strengthen their position before they challenge Rivkin for control of the throne. In the month when Edessa was pacified, the three states: Tripoli, Antioch and Cyprus, were already at war while Rivkin, who stood at the sidelines, watched on in amusement. He didn't tell the other leaders of the extra ducats he received from the Pope which he intended on using to persuade the mercenaries of the winning state to defect over. Rivkin never trusted the leaders of the other states and felt the conflict between them was working to his advantage.

The war raged on between the three states seeing the leader of Antioch, Zemer Atai, taking the capital of Cyprus and claiming the island as his own. On the day he took the capital, the Antioch capital was attacked by Rangebe and Ghilzai who met little resistance along the way. Their forces took the lightly defended capital with ease and, a week later, they would pacify the rest of Antioch. Those that served Atai were getting weary of the war and, with the promise of amnesty for those that put down their weapons, they agreed to surrender to Armenian and Alans forces. Atai was furious that his capital was taken and, due to miscommunication, actually assumed that Tripoli took his state while he was busy. Instead of the retaking his state, Atai would attack the State of Tripoli hoping for a swift victory. The victory never did materialize as Atai was repelled back to Cyprus where he would nurse his wounds. The leader of Tripoli would have given chase had he not been attacked by the Armenian and Alans armies. Weakened by the earlier engagements with Atai, Tripoli would fall soon after seeing that state pacified in two weeks. The situations was looking very good for Rangebe and Ghilzai who had three states under "Langobards" control, one state (Cyprus) that won't be fighting back anytime soon and one last stronghold take. From their captives, the two leaders learned that the State of Jerusalem hasn't participated in any conflicts yet putting them at full strength. To get to Jerusalem, they must get through a fortress called Acre.

The location of Acre made it an ideal location for a major port. Lots of resources were invested in building up the infrastructure of the city seeing it becoming the largest city in the Holy Land. The city was well-known to traders who operated in the Mediterranean resulting in much wealth entering the city making its inhabitants richer. Rivkin, once he became bishop, tried to spread his influence over the city with little gsuccess. The officials in Acre were much wealthier than Rivkin and any attempts the bishop made were easily quelled. The officials in Acre generally kept to themselves and it was difficult to join their group. When the rebellion in the Holy Land took place, the officials within Acre actually didn't participate seeing little gains. Working with those Rivkin viewed as heretics and heathens, the city of Acre got a major boost in its trade and filled up its treasury a lot quicker. The officials even offered shelters for refugee during the chaos. Despite being included in the State of Jerusalem, Acre was very much independent and their loyalties still remained with the Langobards knowing that nation would protect their trade from all those that dared to interfere. Against the states, Acre had its own standing army of ten thousand along with fortification that turned it into a mighty, seemingly impenetrable fortress. When Rangebe and Ghilzai arrived before the city, the gates were opened and their armies were allowed to rest inside before their march to Jerusalem itself.
 

DKM

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I wonder whether or not Islam would still have the Sunni-Shiite Schism?
 

blklizard

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I wonder whether or not Islam would still have the Sunni-Shiite Schism?

I won't answer it now because I will dedicate a chapter or two (maybe more?) on this topic right after the Holy Land Campaign. So, you won't need to wait too long.

The False Crusade

Chapter 210 (Holy Land Campaign [part 4])

The Armenian and Alans armies marched out of Acre towards Jerusalem which was seen at the time the source of the rebellion. Rivkin was the leader of the rebels and stopping him should conclude the rebellion in the region. The siege of Jerusalem was expected to be a long one given the strong walls that surrounded the city and the numerous garrison force (or so the rumors claimed). Rangebe and Ghilzai were in good spirits as their numerous victories had not only finally brought them to the city of Jerusalem but also boost the morale of their soldiers. While the city was a holy city for many different religions, it had no significance for the two leaders other than the final stronghold of the rebels. The two armies arrived outside Jerusalem in a few days to find that Rivkin has brought his forces outside the holy city. Rivkin rode at the head of his mercenary armies with one of his subjects carrying a relic Rivkin claimed to be the True Cross. The rebel leader stated that, with God by their side, they would be invincible against the heretics and heathens that stood before them. It became obvious that the rebels weren't willing to negotiate a surrender which resulted in a battle outside Jerusalem to decide the outcome. Rivkin has used the ducats he acquired from the Pope to hire more mercenaries seeing him in control of fifty thousand men. Rivkin's army would be the largest rebel force the two leaders had to face but they were confident that victory awaited them. They have seen the atrocities committed by these people concluding that the enemies they face were only capable of attacking those weak and vulnerable.

The two sides spread out in the open field trying to get better positioning. The skirmishers moved out to trade fire as the infantries of both sides marched forward towards the enemy. The Armenian and Alans skirmishers, vastly outnumbering the enemy, soon forced rebel skirmishers to withdraw allowing them to fire at rebel infantry. Upon signal, the infantries charged and met in the middle. The skirmishers continued laying down fire to support their men while the Armenian cavalry moved out from the flanks. As the cavalry force moved in, they saw no enemy cavalry which puzzled them greatly but, with the enemy flank open, they still went in and delivered a devastating rear charge. The rebel flanks almost instantly crumbled under the charge leaving the center trapped inside an enemy pincer formation. The center was soon surrounded and, a few hours later, the carnage was over with the remaining survivors lowering their arms. The body of Rivkin was found later amongst all the corpses but the relic he claimed to be the True Cross was never found. The problem for Rivkin's army was that he relied too heavily on different mercenary armies. There wasn't a clear hierarchy and chain of command which saw the flank exposed as it was. Against a trained, disciplined army, the mercenary armies could do little unless they had very favorable circumstance. The death of Rivkin should have suppressed all rebels but there was a minor problem on Cyprus.

Apparently, Atai, who was frustrated with his losses on the mainland, chose to cut his losses by being content with ruling over Cyprus. He sent his forces to garrison all the key forts that guarded main harbors. Atai also had a small navy at his disposal which he used to sink any ships that moved towards Cyprus. Because of this small navy, Rangebe and Ghilzai were unable to deliver their forces across. This turned into a stalemate that lasted for several months until the Langobards fleet, with twenty thousand men, sailed from the Gauls to Cyprus. Faced against this trained navy, the small navy under Atai stood no chance and were sunk. The twenty thousand men landed onto Cyprus seeing them taking complete control of the island within a month. Atai was killed in battle and his subjects either surrendered or died resisting. The generals of the twenty thousand men then sailed across to Jerusalem where they met with Rangebe and Ghilzai. Following some pleasantries, they spoke of the future of the region until the two leaders were convinced the Holy Land was in safe hands. The two leaders would lead their soldiers back home to Armenia and Alans suffering relatively few losses while the two generals stayed behind to maintain the peace until representatives arrived. The accomplishments of the vassals would delivered through messengers that were sent to Trier to inform the Tzar of the development in the Holy Land.

The three generals were surprised when they arrived from Anatolia to the Holy Land. From the new garrisons, they learned of the feats of the two vassal kingdoms and the pacification of the Holy Land. These generals then met with the two generals that were temporarily governing the Holy Land. A day of discussion would see the three generals leading their forces back home to Crimea. Several months later, the cities and towns in the Holy Land had new ruling class and garrison which allowed the previous garrison to return back home to England. Their objectives were deemed accomplished with the smooth transition between rebel occupation to new ruling class. Not much has changed except for the occasional crackdowns on those that continued to pursue attacks on heretics and heathens. For many, they returned to their old lives that most of them were content with. The families affected by cleansing were generously compensated while those who participated were executed or, in the case of those that served under Atai but surrendered, sent into exile. The Tzar wanted harsh treatment to those that opposed the tolerance of other religions and hoped that what has transpired in the Holy Land would be a warning to all those who even considered the idea of rebelling. The large scale massacres in the Holy Land would leave deep scars in many that may take centuries to heal. Under Langobards rule, the healing process would at least be a much smoother transition.

The Tzar was relieved that all the rebels were put down before things got out of control. Still, he knew that the False Crusade hasn't ended yet. He would need an open apology from the Pope that would indicate that the Catholic Church was at fault. Few months after the Holy Land was pacified, the Tzar and his subjects were getting a disturbing picture. They were learning that many of the rebel leaders were given a large amount of ducats from the Pope to fund their war efforts. Providing funds wasn't surprising compared to the amount the Pope was giving away. The amount the Pope gave away easily rivaled the net income of some of the Langobards' vassals who enjoyed lots of autonomy and little taxes. One must remember that the Pope only controlled the Vatican City and nothing else. The taxes and tithe the Pope received should be quite limited but, upon further investigation, the Tzar learned the Pope has been secretly selling indulgences to the highest bidders. Such practices created an outrage amongst the Langobards government and its people. Those that participated in the practice within Langobards territory were executed while the Tzar demanded the Pope to change his ways or face consequences. The Pope, thinking he had the protection of the Romans, decided to call what he considered to be a bluff. Days later, the Langobards declared war on the Papal State with the sole objective of reforming the Catholic Church.
 

blklizard

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To my reader, I'm going to dedicate a chapter on the history of Islam so we can cover a bit more of the religious aspects of this AAR. Following this, we will see the conclusion of the False Crusade before transitioning back into the main story. SPOILER: I might be writing about the history of the Kangju as well but not sure when.

History of Islam

Chapter 211

Islam has been shrouded in mystery for centuries. This religion is practiced by only a minority in the Langobards empire today and they usually kept to themselves. Many have tried but no one ever came close to uncovering its past. This is largely due to no written accounts being kept at the infant stage of the religion. The only fact we can confirm, by comparing the many sources we have available to us, is that the founder of the religion was a man called Muhammad. Sadly, we know very little about the man. We don't know his origins or what he looked like because no written records or drawings of man has been found. It seems almost as though, once he brought Islam to his people, he vanished from the face of the earth. From our sources, we can conclude that Islam was given birth in the seventh century within the Arabian Peninsula. Many agreed that the origin of the religion was in Mecca. Langobards records suggest that the religion took the region by force seeing majority of the population embracing the new faith. The Langobards king was losing sleep and sent many soldiers to the region should religious conflicts arise. One must remember that, around the time Islam was taking root, the Langobards were facing another, but more dangerous, enemy in the form of Proto Bulgarians. Because of the great rebellion, the Langobards took a more pacifist approach to dealing with the Muslims. Missionaries were sent to the Arabian Peninsula in hopes of putting an end to the spread of Islam.

The missionaries could do little as, by the time they arrived in Arabian Peninsula, Islam has already spread to neighboring provinces. All of Arabia would be converted before the followers moved to Persia where they did the same. Islam then spread to Egypt, North Africa and eventually into the Iberian Peninsula. The speed at which the religion spread across the regions was incredible at a time when horses and galleys were the quickest transportation. Some believed that those early Muslims had very strong faith in Islam. They practiced what they preached and, by showing their dedication to Islam, they were able to persuade others, through actions, to do the same. Many of the regions have suffered many crisis which made Islam quite enticing. We must remember that, at the time, Catholicism had limited influence on the region which allowed Islam to take a firm root in the region. In a span of a century, Islam has spread across much of the known world catching both the Langobards and Romans off guard. The converted populace did create problems seeing that the Catholics at the time weren't very tolerant other heathens. Many cleansing took place in Roman controlled North Africa seeing tens of thousand dead and much more fleeing from their homes. The Langobards would probably have used force as well had the Proto Bulgarians and, decades later, the Bulgarians didn't rise up fighting for their independence. The timing of the rebellions saw brute force against the Muslims a poor choice which, following the failure of the missionaries to contain the religion, transitioned into a new policy.

Forcibly converting the Muslims could result in many rebellions that would put more strain on the Langobards armies busy putting down the rebellions. Thus, the Langobards king, with the help of his subjects, introduced a new policy seeing many people immigrating from Europe to the Middle East. Those that immigrated were promised lower taxes along with more opportunities. The policy was meant to bring in enough Catholics into the region so that the Muslims become a minority which, as time passed by, would eventually nonexistent. There were a few things going for the immigrants that were headed to the Middle East. First, these immigrants were a lot more tolerant towards other faiths than the Romans seeing them getting along much better with the Muslims. Of course, it also helped the Muslims were tolerant towards other religions allowing the new arrivals to integrate into society without much conflict. Secondly, a portion of the Muslims were, in fact, colonists sent by the Langobards government decades before. These people may have converted to Islam but there was still a bond between them and the immigrants. Because many of them shared similar ancestors, the locals were willing to aid the immigrants. The policy would last for several centuries until, as the Langobards king that imposed the policy has hoped, the Muslims became a minority. However, the Islam religion never did disappear seeing somewhat small, but dedicated, groups still following the religion.

Islam did take a small unexpected turn during its rapid expansion across the known world. When Islam was spreading into Persia, there were a few groups that separated themselves from the other Muslims. They followed what they called Shia Islam, as opposed to Sunni Islam that was the dominant Islam spreading across much of the known world. There has been speculations that the split was due to the influence of some local religions in Persia. Sadly, very little was learned about Shia Islam before it ceased to exist anywhere in the world. The regions that did see a significant rise of Shia Islam bordered the Kangju nomad which, with Langobards soldiers busy putting down rebellions, allowed many raids to go unopposed. Kangju raiders were after goods and they slaughtered the local civilians to get what they wanted. Villages and towns were burnt down leaving behind destruction and death. Successive raids would see the population in the region wiped out. These regions would eventually be repopulated by Catholics and, by then, Shia Islam has been wiped out. Thus, Sunni Islam, or simply known as Islam nowadays, would live on the region as the minority carried on. Do note that the Muslims today don't consider their religion as Sunni Islam as the name was created by those of the Shia Islam. For many centuries, no one even knew Shia Islam existed until a few ancient records discovered by Islamic scholars were interpreted. Even then, the branch of Islam was lost forever despite the many efforts by both Catholic and Islam scholars.

Islam nearly faced extinction during the False Crusade. Many important establishments for Muslims were located in the Holy Land where, under the Langobards rule, were protected. Key Islamic figures gathered at the Holy Land where they worked to preserve their knowledge by writing down all they knew. As mentioned earlier, very little was known about the past of Islam. This wasn't always the case as some of the Muslims, like those mentioned above, worked together to piece together the past and teachings of Islam into a book. The book would take several generations but they have finished their book in the eighth century. The incredible feat would have uncovered much about Islam had the rebellion not see the first, and only, copy to be destroyed in a great fire. During the rebellion, these key Islamic figures were tracked down and killed alongside other the rebels considered heretics or heathens. After the rebellion was put down, the Muslim communities gathered together trying to repeat the feat but the survivors simply lacked the knowledge to accomplish it. The knowledge of the Islam that once spread across the known world at a rapid pace was suddenly out of reach. In a way, Rivkin has succeeded in delivering a great blow to Islam with his cleansing. The lost knowledge was irretrievable which left the remaining Muslims to follow a simpler version of Islam based on what they knew. Thus, the Islam we know today is the simpler version of a Islam that we will never learn about.
 
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DKM

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I can't help but feel sympathetic for them.
 

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I can't help but feel sympathetic for them.

The Muslims had it tough in this world. Luckily, they are strong people and their religion will continue.

The False Crusade

Chapter 212 (Catholic Church Reformation)

The Pope made the mistake of not negotiating with the Langobards Tzar when he had the chance. The Tzar has, during the suppression of rebellions, been communicating with the Roman Republic on the issue of Catholicism. Both sides agreed that the Catholic Church, especially the Pope, has grown too powerful for any of their liking. Most people in the two empires were devout Catholics making them despise the idea of selling indulgences. By selling indulgences, the Catholic Church has committed the Sin of Greed which was a horrific crime against God himself. After many discussions, the two empire agreed that the Catholic Church needed to reform to make up for its mistakes. When The Tzar sent his demand to the Pope, he has already reached the agreement with Rome with military access that allowed his armies to march straight for Vatican City should an armed conflict be necessary. The Tzar has hoped that the Pope has learned the error of his ways and would be willing to negotiate which would avoid bloodshed altogether. Unfortunately, the Pope showed no sign of remorse for his actions which only saddened the Tzar more. Thus, war was declared with a Langobards army of twenty four thousand men marching into Roman territory. A month later, the army reached Vatican City surprised to see no soldiers manning the walls. The Pope has apparently doubted of seeing any battles so he didn't bother with his garrison. The Langobards army scaled the walls, opened the gates and continued their march to the Apostolic Palace where the Pope was still asleep.

The inhabitants of Vatican City were just waking up and they, curious about the sound outside, looked out their doorway only to see Langobards soldiers in the streets. The inhabitants immediately closed their doors hoping that the soldiers would not pillage and kill. Luckily for them, the soldiers were given strict orders to leave the inhabitants alone. By the time the Pope was woken from bed, his bedroom was already stormed by Langobards soldiers who escorted him to Saint Peter's Square. To his horror, there were several bishops that were gathered in the square with two Langobards soldiers behind each of them. The Langobards general approached the Pope and told the man to watch. He then gave the orders that saw all the bishops beheaded which went sent the Pope into a terrified state. The general then told the Pope to accept reformation or face a similar fate. At the time, the Tzar and his general had no intentions of killing the Pope as it would hurt their reputation in the Catholic community. They hoped a little scare tactics would work. The bishops that were beheaded were once Langobards bishops that have betrayed their nation. The Tzar chose to show no mercy to traitors but his general wisely didn't inform the Pope. The Pope, fearing a similar fate, agreed to to reform seeing a few of the Langobards bishops that traveled with the army enter the Apostolic Palace with him along a few Langobards soldiers. As fate would have it, these were the same bishops that were sent into exile after refusing to side with the Pope. The Tzar felt they would be the ideal candidates for the negotiations.

The negotiations within the Apostolic Palace would last for two weeks as new documents were drawn up. Once the negotiations were finished, the general was given two copies which he sent to the Roman Republic and the Tzar. As soon as he received replies that both parties agreed to it, he had the bishops make an official document that would be followed by the Catholic Church at all times. The first issue to be handled was the sales of indulgences which was permanently banned. Anyone that performed such an act would be executed without question and the Catholic Church would be fined several times the amount yielded by the sale. The second issue would be installing independent parties, one from each of the empires, that would work alongside the administrators within the Holy See so that all finances were held accountable and corruption would be eliminated. The third issue dealt with the overall power of the Pope which seemed to be greater than the leaders of the two empires at times. Thus, the Pope's power was severely limited seeing that the Curia Controller, either Langobards or Rome, gaining significantly more power in the decisions of the Catholic Church. The Papal State, following the reformation, would be a lot weaker in both power and influence. Their limitations on their acquisition of wealth would ensure that they stayed that way. If the Pope were to break any of the new rules, either Langobards or Rome were given the ability to replace the Pope with a more suitable candidate through diplomacy or, if necessary, force. Of course, there were many other issues dealt with but those were minor compared to the three issue mentioned above.

Once the official document was completed and signed by the Pope, the Tzar and representative of the Roman Republic, the war on the Papal State was over. The Pope stepped down following an official apology to the Langobards. The Langobards bishops that were sent into exile were offered their positions again which they gladly accepted. A new Pope would selected while Langobards soldiers marched out of the Vatican City. The first action by the new Pope was revoking the Crusade on the Langobards. The False Crusade, as what many called it today, had officially ended with the rise of a new Pope. The Catholic Church has went through significant reforms that would have an impact for the centuries to come. The Langobards were busy rebuilding the regions that were devastated by war. Homes were rebuilt and new local governments were set up. The relations between the Langobards and Gauls have been, surprisingly, strengthened by the uprising which saw the Gauls officially integrate into the empire. The Greek region would no longer enjoy the autonomy it once enjoyed. A few Langobards armies were stationed in the region to maintain the peace while Langobards officials took part in the local decision making. Anatolia would experience the same fate at the Greek region. As for the Holy Land, rebuilding the region would take the longest. Those that fled their homes were given compensation while those that were in support of the cleansing went through a series of "teachings."

The Catholic Church reformation would have a great impact on the rest of the known world. Prior to the reformation, there were many opposed of the ways the church deals with their aspects of life. There were plenty of discontent and, occasionally, there would be some conflicts between the locals people and the local church. While there weren't anything serious, many historians argued that, had the Catholic Church remained the way it was, there would be no doubt that, in a few centuries, outcries of the Catholic church would lead to movements seeing different branches of Catholicism. Emergence of the different branches would create many unwanted problems which could ultimately lead to more conflicts. If there would take place, there could be a lot more bloodshed between the different sides that wouldn't be eliminated in a span of a year or so. Thus, the reformation has avoided the bloodshed ensuring more stability for the centuries to come. Both the Langobards and Romans were credited for their contributions to the reformation which further solidified the relations between the two mighty empire. Since the two wars, the two empires remained at peace and both enjoyed prosperity. The Papal State, while weakened, still served God as they always had while having safeguards to prevent those within the Holy See from committing sins. As for the Catholic nations, the reduced power and wealth of the Papal State actually saw more ducats in their treasury which benefited more Catholics. Overall, nobody was at the receiving end of the deal.
 
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Chapter 213

The rebellion has been suppressed and the Catholic Church has been reformed. The Tzar could be content with a peaceful reign but he must continue the great expansion that has been postponed due to the False Crusade. In 1026, the Tzar declared four separate wars seeing him at war with much of Asia. His first war was declared upon the Satavahana who should have been wiped out a long time ago. The Tzar expected a few more wars before the second last Indian nation could be integrated into the Langobards empire. In their defense, the Mongolians and Sila, a small Korean minor which is too far to be effective in the war, would enter the war. The second war would put the Langobards up against Tibet who have expanded their influence into Southeast Asia. Tibet would be alone in their war as their allies were too busy aiding others. The third war involved Bhutan who brought in Manchu China and Shu as allies. The fourth and final war would include Japan and Manchukuo. Interestingly enough, Han didn't participate in any of the wars making the Tzar wonder why the strongest Asian power didn't join, not that it would make much difference. Against the Langobards army that were superior in every way, the Asian nations could do little to halt their advances. Provinces would fall steadily under occupation while the enemy forces were busy outrunning the Langobards soldiers instead of actually fighting back. The wars would be swift with peace negotiations occurring once much of the targeted nations were occupied.

Satavahana would be the first to sign a peace treaty with the Langobards which saw them ceding two provinces and renouncing their claims on nearly half of their Indian provinces. Shu wouldn't go scathed with them giving up their only province that bordered the Langobards. Mongolian would exit the war with one fewer province and they would renounce all of their claims outside their territory effectively eliminating their chance of further expansion. Bhutan would be spared any losses as the Langobards negotiated with Manchu China directly seeing a province transferred over along with a few claims renounced. Tibet would lose the most in the war following a peace deal that had them give up seven provinces reducing their territory in Southeast Asia to a few scattered provinces. Japan, like Tibet, would also lose seven provinces further weakening their presence on the mainland despite putting up the most resistance out of all the Asian nations. The peace deal with Japan took place in 1031 and it was followed by seven years of peace. The Tzar used the peace to stabilize the region and, whenever it was necessary, his generals sent troops to suppress the rebels who rose up occasionally. When the region was somewhat stabilized, the Tzar ordered more crusades which would put the Langobards in five separate wars. The parties involved in the individual wars were basically the same as the previous wars except for the extra war that involved Dai Viet who had no allies whatsoever.

The 8th crusade of the Satavahana would finally conclude the century old conflict between the two nations. Satavahana may have recovered slightly when the Kangju nomads were forced back but they would never regain all of their territories. The Langobards have marched into India and a clash between the two nations was inevitable. The wars was always one-sided but Satavahana, with their large plots of land, needed slow trimming before they could be fully annexed. The trimming of the Indian empire would take time as their territories spreading into Southeast Asia and, at times, even in Korean peninsula. Finally, the Langobards, in 1039, would annex this Indian nation that has survived slightly more than a millennium. The annexation of Satavahana would see nearly all of India unified by the Langobards. Funan was the last nation to hold a province in India but they would be integrated into the Langobards sooner or later. Dai Viet would be integrated into the Langobards empire next after a brief independence gained from defeating their former overlord. Mongolia, for interfering with the Langobards, would lose another province reducing their holdings to only two provinces. Tibet and Bhutan lose enough provinces to cripple them for good. Manchu China lost a few more provinces for showing aggression towards the Langobards. Japan would lost more coastal provinces that left their remaining Southeast Asian provinces landlocked and ripe for the picking in the next war.

Tech:

Government: 23
Production: 48
Trade: 32
Naval: 66
Land: 98

Map of Langobards in year 1042:
57Ot0GH.png

 

DKM

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1 - How much of that is cored?

2 - I have an idea for another side-story. You could make one explaining the evolution of Langobard culture from a migratory tribal culture to a sedentary Imperial culture! Just an idea if you haven't already written this.
 

blklizard

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1 - How much of that is cored?

2 - I have an idea for another side-story. You could make one explaining the evolution of Langobard culture from a migratory tribal culture to a sedentary Imperial culture! Just an idea if you haven't already written this.

1. I would say 80%. I cannot open the ledge to see the pie graphs (since it CTD when I try) so I'm just estimating.

2. I have mentioned this aspect before but I do want to go into more details. Thanks for the suggestion and I'll see what I can come up with and, of course, when I will include it.

Chapter 214

Peace in Asia would be a brief one as wars were renewed in 1044. There would only be two wars declared this time. One war was directed at Bhutan with the Tzar intending on annexing the small nation. During the peace, the Bhutan government has been supporting rebels hoping to usurp the Langobards presence in Southeast Asia. When questioned about the rebels, the Bhutan government chose to deny everything despite the many evidence collected by Langobards officers. The Tzar did admit that relations have gone sour in the past few wars but he did attempt to repair the division between the two nations. A few generous gifts were sent to Bhutan to show the act of good will by the Langobards but, ironically, the ducats would be used in return to fund rebels in Langobards territory. The Tzar had hoped the people in Bhutan were civilized enough to return the act of good will but the supports for rebels have proven that these people were worse than the African tribes encountered during the colonization of Africa. Thus, the Tzar ordered his forces to mount an attack to crush these untamed creatures so they could bring them into the light. Knowing that there would be allies to these creatures, the Tzar ordered his generals to show no mercy to them either. Manchu China and Shu entered the war alongside the Bhutan which was to be expected. The Tzar respect the loyalty of these nations to Bhutan but he was still, nonetheless, saddened by the misplaced loyalty. To stand up against the Langobards for Bhutan was seen as a hopeless cause and the Tzar, with his reputation on the line, must crush all those that opposed him with an iron fist.

The second war was declared upon Tibet which was also becoming a thorn in the Langobards' side. Tibet, unlike Bhutan, didn't have the funds to continuously support rebels seeing them go to the alternative of gathering a large coalition of Asian nations to fight against the Langobards. While the mighty empire wouldn't fear such a coalition, the Tzar still wished to minimize their losses by taking the fight to Tibet before they were ready. Tibet has secured alliances with Japan and Mongolia which was a pretty good start but the Tibetan government wasn't ready for the declaration of war. Both Mongolia and Japan were too far to be of any help seeing Tibet isolated in their fight against the mighty empire. Mongolia would also feel the wrath of the Langobards for daring to oppose the empire that has been generous in their peace deal with the republic. As for Japan, neither side could really gain anything from each other in the war. Langobards had no navy to transport troops across while Japan simply lacked the armies to actually put up any fight. Thus, only Tibet and Mongolia would face the wrath of the Langobards while Japan simply watched at the sidelines. The two wars weren't expected to last very long with Bhutan being fully annexed three months after the declaration of war. Tibet would lost two of their richest provinces along with renouncing claims on their cores. The Tzar hoped the losses would make the Tibetan government think twice before attempting another coalition.

Previously, the Langobards generals assumed that Mongolia had very few territory left but the recent war had them discovering several more Mongolian provinces. The discovery may explain why Mongolia was still putting up such a fight and, in the peace deal, seven provinces would change hands. Four of the provinces were part of the Mongolian republic while the remaining three belonged to the Japanese in Southeast Asia. To say the Japanese government was furious with the Mongolians using their territory in the peace deal was an understatement. Japan would openly denounce Mongolia and cut all their ties with the nation. The peace deal, however, did put the Langobards only a step away from unifying the settled section of Southeast Asia. Days later, the Langobards general made an interesting discovery in a region that would be known as the Ceylon region. A nation called Lambakannas apparently also joined the Bhutan but, because their forces never actually landed onto Langobards territory, the generals assumed the name was a reference to a general's name. By cross-referencing their map of India, the Langobards generals learned of an island in the southeast corner of India where the nation of Lambakannas was situated. The Langobards navy had the region's coast mapped out allowing their ships to move freely. The ships transported soldiers to the island where they met little resistance. Lambakannas was annexed and, four days later, Manchu China exited the war losing four more of their provinces.

Tech:

Government: 23
Production: 49
Trade: 32
Naval: 71
Land: 98

Map of Langobards in year 1048:
AVa07Mz.png

 
Last edited:

DKM

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I believe you have a typo here. Do you mean Mongolia?

Tibet has secured alliances with Japan and Mongolian which was a pretty good start
 

blklizard

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I believe you have a typo here. Do you mean Mongolia?

Yes, thanks for catching that.

Chapter 215 (The Sixteen Year War)

In 1049, the Langobards suddenly found themselves fighting a coalition war against all of Asia that would be later known as the Sixteen Year War. Leading the coalition was none other than Han. The great Asian nation has finally agreed to aid the other Asian nations in repelling the Langobards invaders. The stand against the Langobards made the Tzar respect the Han Emperor for his decision. Despite Han not having the ability to fighting the Langobards at all, his decision to go down fighting was still commendable. Many historians would argue that Han has formed the coalition far too late. If they had banded with the other Asian nations before the Langobards got a foothold in East Asia, there was a small chance they would succeed. However, the year 1049 saw the Langobards securing nearly all of Southeast Asia and parts of East Asia. The Langobards had no supply problems and their men were already bordering many of the nations that joined the coalition which included: Han, Tibet, Ming, Manchukuo, Japan, Manchu China, Sila, Shu and Mongolia. The coalition looked impressive on paper but the Langobards generals were veterans at war and their soldiers were some of the best soldiers in the world. The coalition actually made the soldiers look eager to the battles where the enemy might actually put up some resistance. Han, while forming the coalition, has yet to declare war in what many assumed was a tactic to deter the Langobards from declaring war. The Tzar wasn't afraid of such a coalition and declared war only a month after the coalition was formed. The Langobards have officially entered a war with all of Asia, except the Xiongnu but we will get to them eventually.

Tibet would be the first nation to be fully occupied in the war (or so they thought at first). Their two coastal provinces were isolated and easily captured by Langobards forces. Meanwhile, the Langobards found success elsewhere as they pushed back Ming and Manchu Chinese forces. Han armies have yet to make an appearance but Langobards scouts reported seeing Han soldiers moving to the front line. The Langobards armies moved swiftly seeing them occupying all of Ming which removed another player from the coalition. Han armies have finally arrived on the front lines but they came too late now that they lacked the supports of their allies. Mongolia and Manchukuo were busy with Langobards forces arriving from the north while Manchu Chinese forces were in full retreat. The Han armies would soon find themselves outnumber and outmatched as the Langobards armies descended upon them. The Han soldiers have not participated in actual war for several decades resulting in them crumbling from the pressure. The Han soldiers routed leaving their nation wide open for an attack. Manchu China and Shu were next to be fully occupied while Langobards soldiers still made steady progress into Mongolia and Manchukuo. Those two nations would follow leaving only Han and Japanese territories on the mainland remaining to be occupied. The poor performance of the Han armies was a major disappointment and this further reinforced that a new power must rule over China. As for Japan, all of her land forces were evacuated from the mainland leaving her provinces in China easy pickings for the Langobards.

The war lasted sixteen years because of the large tracts of land the Langobards armies must travel through. The Han garrison actually put up some resistance increasing the durations of the sieges. During the war, there has been many terrible storms that basically halted the Langobards advance. With no real rush, the soldiers would set up camp in a nearby city and wait out the storms. They would make steady progress which would eventually see the Langobards occupying all of the enemy provinces on the mainland. The Japanese homeland was still safe as the Langobards lacked the transports to get their men across. Once mainland China and Korea was completely under their control, the Langobards generals finally agreed to negotiate peace with the losing side. Ming, Mongolia and Shu were all annexed to remove three nations in East Asia. Manchu China and Tibet both lost three provinces. Langobards generals would later learn that Tibet had holdings in Korea they didn't know about which helped them avoid annexation. Manchukuo lost four provinces dramatically weakening their strength. Japan lost a total of twelve provinces and still had a few more on the mainland. As for Han, this once mighty Chinese nation suffered the most with the loss of fifty provinces that has cut them to only a fifth of their size before the war. The total victory by the mighty empire allowed the Langobards to have nearly complete control over all of East Asia. Han and Manchukuo would annexed in due time while Japan will have to wait until a Langobards navy could be built in the region.

Tech:

Government: 24
Production: 50
Trade: 33
Naval: 81
Land: 98

Map of Langobards in year 1065:
D7VSnjO.png

 

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Chapter 216

As the Langobards entered the twelfth century, the mighty empire has conquered all but one Asian nation. The Sixteen Year War ended in 1065 seeing the Langobards delivering a mighty blow on Han, a mere shadow of its glorious past. Five years were spent following the war to stabilize the region. The poor administration, along with constant internal conflicts, of the Chinese nations have made the local people suffer tremendously. The Langobards had to transport food into the region to feed the starving population while investing lots of resources in rebuilding the local infrastructure. Langobards administrators sent to East Asia were surprised by the large population base in the region. The first focus to be reformed was the local agriculture which hasn't been keeping up with the population growth, despite the many wars. New methods were introduced while resources were spent on improving the existing methods. In the five year of peace, the output of the farms were improved dramatically seeing less food imported from elsewhere. Of course, there were also migrations which saw many Chinese people being sent to less populated regions of the Langobards empire to start new lives. This new offer was alluring to many who were tired of the constant wars in China. Once the food situation in China was stabilized along with order restored to the conquered provinces, the Langobards generals would renew their wars.

Their next wars would involved Japan, Manchu China, Tibet, Han and Manchukuo. Tibet would finally be annexed after the decades of war followed by the annexation of Manchukuo. Manchu China would be left with one province as their other possessions were ceded to the Langobards. Han would only hand over five provinces but they were forced to renounce claims on many of their former territory. It was a disappointment when Han put up less resistance than Manchukuo. The devastating loss in the Sixteen Year War has resulted in many uprisings that further weakened Han. The Han treasury was nearly empty and rebels were running rampant. Han would have been annexed if they weren't too big. Sila, the Korean nation that joined alongside the Japanese, was annexed as well. Two more years would be needed for the Japanese government to be willing to talk peace seeing six of their mainland provinces ceded. However, Japan would no longer be safe after the war. The Langobards have mapped out the entire East Asian coast allowing them to bring their navy. The navy consisted of several transports that would finally get Langobards soldiers onto Japan itself. Instead of waiting for the Japanese people to grow weary of war, the Langobards could finally strike at the heart of Japan. In 1075, the Langobards launched their first invasion of Japan proper with thirty six thousand soldiers. The Japanese defended their homeland valiantly but they couldn't halt the Langobards advance. A peace deal would be negotiated with a third of Japan proper transferred over to Langobards' control.

War with Japan would be renewed two years later seeing most of the Japanese territory on the mainland taken. Following the war, Manchu China and Han were next on the list. Manchu China was finally annexed by the Langobards while Han gave up a third of their territory. As soon as the truces were over, the Langobards declared war on Han and Japan again. Han would lose half their territory while Japan was reduced only a third of Japan proper along with two scattered provinces on the mainland. For the remaining ten years, the Langobards repeated their crusades until Han was finally annexed and Japan was left with only a handful of provinces. Given that Japan was no longer a urgent problem, the Langobards could finally focus on the Xiongnu in the north. The nomad nation has been struggling with their internal conflicts but, along their border with the Langobards, they still carried out raids. To end the raids once and for all, the Langobards declared war on Xiongnu and, after a year of campaign, finally annexed the nomads. Finally, the Langobards concluded their conflicts with Japan which was left with a single province and became a vassal of the Langobards. The Tzar hoped that the Japanese would, like his many other vassals, help put down local rebellions so that the Langobards armies won't be too overextended. The Tzar would sadly pass away a year later seeing his son take the throne. The rise of a new ruler would spark an uprising that would occur very close to home. The uprising would test the new Tzar to see if he was indeed ready to rule over the mighty empire.

Tech:

Government: 24
Production: 53
Trade: 35
Naval: 95
Land: 100

Map of Langobards in year 1100:
LhPvSTg.png



The new threat will have to wait as our next update will deal with the history of the Kangju.