|LORDS OF THE EARTH|
|CAMPAIGN 4 - COMETS & CARNOSAURS|
|Turn #67 ( 1425-1428 )||GM: Rich Lloyd|
Map Improvement: I've been working on the map on & off, making improvements. This will be an ongoing effort. In specific, (a) replacing the solid black rivers with blue ones, and in some cases shortening them. (b) extending the map westward to include Iceland, the Azores and Maderia, to accomodate player Exploration.
Regional Improvement: At TL 5 for 20gp/20nfp you can Improve a cultivated homeland region from 2GPv to 3GPv, or any other controlled cultivated region from 1GPv to 2GPv. This is due to historical improvements in agriculture at TL 5.
MaxTax: still at 1.85.
Backslide: If a megalithic construction is started but not financed (at least 1 gold and at least 1 nfp) it will backslide 10% the 1st turn, 40% the 2nd turn, and down to nothing the 3rd turn as nature reclaims the work area.
Construction efficiency: In calculating the time requirement of megalithic construction, use 4 years per level. What previously took 5 years can now be done in 4 thanks to the spread of Renaissance knowledge.
Stat sheet units: units on stat sheets are displayed in the following order - forts, cavalry, infantry, seige, artillery, galleys, warships, transports. Within each category they are usually displayed fastest to slowest.
Exploration: just like distant Sea Zones and Open Ocean Arrows, Gray-colored land regions must be Explored before GPv, Rv and religion are known. Once explored they will become neutral color.
Mercs & Mercenary Leaders: If you hire any of the mercenaries available in an area, you must hire the leader also. OR the leader may be hired alone and has retainers like any other leader type. Mercenary leaders age, so they aren't listed as available forever.
Ships and AP
calculation: AP calculations based on ship movement are used only when
a leader is aboard ship performing a purely naval action. Naval actions are movement
by water (rivers, sea zones, arrows); entering or leaving a port, port area, port fortress,
coastline or islands; participation in sea/riverine combat, blockade, or piracy;
exploration by water; and Investigate Location / Espionage (Reveal Fact) done entirely
in water (for example, searching for a sunken
ship or underwater site).
Having children: If your king has no queen, this command will result in children with palace concubines. There will be a greater chance of children but having different mothers could lead to later intrigues. If your king is ordered to marry and then HC, a noblewoman will be chosen as queen from among friendly regions or cities. If your king's marriage is in support of diplomacy, then the queen's name and origin will be tracked.
Dynastic Failure: I'm not a big enthusiast of DF's, figuring nations have enough to worry about with "outside" problems like their neighbors, secret empires, etc. If the ruler dies and there is an heir, he or she will become the new ruler. If there is no official heir but a P-leader (Prince or Princess) exists, he or she will become the new ruler. If there are minor children, a Regent will be appointed, or the queen or consort may simply declare they will be Regent. (Of course, it will remain to be seen if the P-leader or Regent yields the throne when a minor child comes of age. But at least in the short run a DF has been avoided.) If there is no heir, no P-leaders and no minor children, then anything can happen.
(1) assassinating a Royal person (K, Q, H or P
type leaders) requires a KK action, not a KL action, and has a greater
chance of failure. (2) House rule: a successful RF before another intel or assassin
action will give a bonus to the attempt. A successful RF linked by SO to another
intel or assassin action will give an even larger bonus.
Agro: just like agro put into Reserve, agro transferred must also have
1gp spent per agro to Preserve it. Otherwise the recipient gets a load of
spoiled, rotting food. A lot of players transferred agro this turn without
preserving it. When possible, I deducted enough gold and
processed the transfer, but it wastes GM time. The new turnsheet
template effective Turn 68 will
calculate the amount of gold spent preserving transferred agro.
Transferred Agro: just like agro put into Reserve, agro transferred must also have 1gp spent per agro to Preserve it. Otherwise the recipient gets a load of spoiled, rotting food. A lot of players transferred agro this turn without preserving it. When possible, I deducted enough gold and processed the transfer, but it wastes GM time. The new turnsheet template effective Turn 68 will calculate the amount of gold spent preserving transferred agro.
Turn 68: next turn, I'm going to start paying attention to
three nasty things:
Suggested minimum bids: 1gp per combat factor of unit type (ie. 1gp for inf, 1.5gp for cav, etc.);
1gp per combat stat of Merc Leader (ie. 9gp for a M997). Note that some Merc Companies
now have a Broker representing them (rather than the GM).
It is unlikely (but not impossible) that Mercenaries will agree to serve a nation of a different religion against a nation of their own religion.
|Europe: 20c, 20i, 10hei, 10s, 10xbg, 4bg
Leader: Simon MA6B Age: 31
Broker: RFC Merchants
North Asia: 25c, 18i, 12s
SE Asia: 20c, 12i, 8s
|India/C Asia: 10c, 10i, 10s, 10xbg, 2bg |
Leader: Gumbwnanna M997 Age: 29
Mid East/Nile/Arabia: 15c, 8i, 8s, 10xbg
Rest of Africa: 10c, 15i, 13xi, 10s
GM NOTES (28 Jan 2009):
I've given a lot of thought to the knowledge of 21st century players vs. the knowledge of their 15th century characters (Kings, Princes, Lieutenants, etc). In GM-to-Player notes and website informational pages, Dinosaurs and other thought-to-be-extinct creatures encountered will be identified by their modern Real World names, ie Tarbosaur, Spinosaur, etc.
However characters wouldn't know such Greek- or Latin-derived names, and will instead refer to such creatures appropriately for their culture. I will edit past Newsfaxes for this change after I get this turn out.
On the third and forth days, the rains came, and it fell as a Noachian deluge, dark as if with soot, swelling rivers and streams, turning fields into swamps. The rain stopped early in the fifth day, the day a bit brighter. The sixth day was even better, the sun could be seen as through clouds, and that night the moon showed it was still there, and even some stars. On the seventh day, the sun shown normally again, although the soot-like residue of the dark rain was visible everywhere, and rivers ran high and darkly.
Within months of the fall of "Comet Tears" as the dark rain was called, it was noticed that certain animals - birds, snakes, lizards, and crocodiles - acted much more intelligent than prior to the Comet. Some former herbivores, like the flightless birds of Mauritius, were now carnivores; those already carnivores, like crocodiles, now hunted far more cooperatively.
Meanwhile, the dinosaurs discovered in some regions of Africa, and on the island of Borneo, seemed a lot less instinctual and a lot more calculating...
Cardinal Antonio, Enforcer of Papal Writ.
In the late spring of 1425, Cardinal Antonio and 10,000 mixed Papal troops crossed
the mountainous border between Aragon and New Castile. As the column was slowly
working its way through a pass, Antonio cried out, an arrow sprouting as if by magic
from his chest, throwing him off his horse. By the time guards scaled the cliffs, the
assassin was long gone.
Antonio was down, but not out, thanks to wearing chain mail beneath his robe. The arrow had stopped between his ribs rather than in his heart. During its removal the Cardinal lost a lot of blood and his life hung in the balance for many feverish weeks until slowly he regained consciousness. The army encamped in New Castile while Antonio (not physically robust to begin with) struggled to live. It was several years later, and with much prayer, that he was able to walk again.
Charred remains of the Cathdral in rural Granada.
Towards the end of 1426, far worse than thievery happened. On a moonless night
the cathdral in Granada was attacked. It had no guards, being a House of God and
presumably protected by the Lord. Everyone in residence - priests,
nuns, workers - had been killed
and everything - the cathedral itself, residences, outbuildings - set ablaze.
To do this in a few hours would require hundreds of men. Indeed, in the charred bodies of several murdered groundskeepers were found daggers with the symbol of the mercenary Captain Simon, who had not been hired for years since Europe had been largely peaceful. Perhaps, said the rumors, he had become desperate trying to pay his Company.
The populace was shocked yet again on a moonless night toward the end of 1428 when the cathedral in Andalusia, and all who lived there, met the same fate.
Already shaken by the purges, the influence of the Papacy further declined as the people of Aragon began to say the Lord had turned his back on his Church.
Primitive stone bladed weapons recovered from among (or still embedded in) dead townsmen.
All the villages had some
dead townspeople, men generally, who had apparently tried to fight back, but
most of the inhabitants were missing. Paddocks were empty of herd
animals (mostly reindeer and caribou) and barns empty of the winter's supply
of fodder. Houses and stores had been ransacked; even the forge and scrap iron
from each village's smithy was gone. Snows had long since
obscured any footprints by the time castle garrison troops reached the sites to
A few months later similar reports came in from Lorhar Jarvi. Once again the raiders had simply slipped between the snowbound castle garrisons, surrounded villages (this was an assumption, since no villagers remained to provide details of the event) and looted just as they did in Vadvet Jakko, then moved on through the blizzards.
In both regions a few stone weapons were recovered, apparently lost by the intruders during struggles. Either no raiders were killed, or else their bodies were taken away, for the only dead found were unlucky villagers.
traditional Greek robes
greeting nobility & investors.
Helene Poponopolis hired more clerks and accountants in anticipation
of expanding the business, and invested much gold into using intermediate ports
to reprovision, thereby extending the distance a ship could trade.
She next met with her captains, allocating newly built cogs to new trade routes. These were mostly with Mediterranean and Black Sea nations, although one long route hugged the west coast of Africa down to half-mythical Ghana.
Helene then devoted her time to the establishment of a mercenary hiring brokerage, holding meetings with representatives of the European mercenary captain Simon. (Simon himself was busy invading Moldavia - [see Balkan Campaign] .)
In late 1428 the Chairwoman spoke at a gathering of nobles and investors in Genoa to announce that henceforth the RFC would broker the services of Simon's mercenary company, henceforth named Imperiale Legionne Straniera - Imperial Foreign Legion.
The terms "Hungarian" and "Magyar" are used interchangably, as are "Byzantine" and "Greek".
With snow still on the ground, King Stefan and Lord Balaton led twenty thousand troops east out of Budapest. These were mostly cavalry but with infantry and crossbowmen as well. Accompanying them were another ten thousand cavalry commanded by the veteran Lord Csaba, in his late 60s but still tough as leather.
Lord Hellfire, managing the government in the king's absence, informs Laertes that Stefan has taken the army on manuvers while considering Justinian's offer. A warrior first and a liege second, Stefan thinks best in the saddle or camped under the stars, Lord Hellfire explained.
The Byzantines too were on the move, positioning themselves to act if the offer presented by Laertes was not accepted. Civilized and diplomatic doesn't mean stupid.
The Byzantine plan: (1) Gladius Maximus (18,000), Prince Costas (5,000) & Mihajlovic of Serbia (1,500) would cross the Danube from Bosnia, pacify Hungary, storm Budapest then pacify Slovakia. (2) Leo (10,000) would move west from camp in Ialomita to pacify Walachia then Banat. (3) Profirio (4,000) and Simon's mercenaries (15,000) would move northeast from camp in Ialomita to pacify Moldavia then storm Bucharest.
Mercenary captain Simon and his company gather in Belgrade in the Dobruja, having taken service with Byzantium. Shortly thereafter they leave for the Byzantine camp in Ialomita.
The combined thirty thousand Hungarians moved south through the Banat, headed towards the Carpathian mountains that marked the border with Wallachia.
One night King Stefan awoke to shouts and the sound of running feet outside his tent and the alarm bar being sounded. Shortly thereafter a retainer entered the tent, panting, "Sire, Lord Csaba has been murdered in his tent!" Stefan and a party of guards hurried to the scene, meeting Lord Balaton and more men on the way. Sure enough, two dead guards were found behind Csaba's tent where a floor-to-ceiling slit showed how the assassins had made their entry.
Within Csaba's tent there was blood everywhere; the man had been practically hacked apart. "The cowardly Greeks feared to meet him in battle," said the King. Turning to his second-in-command Lord Balaton, he added, "I will lead the main army alone. You now command Csaba's force. We will avenge his death a thousand-fold."
Balaton bowed, and left to meet with Csaba's officers.
The twenty thousand men under King Stefan and ten thousand led by Lord Balaton move eastward through Walachia, in September going into winter camp by the Ialomitan border.
End December 1425
Summoned to the royal palace in Budapest, Byzantine representative Laertes is told by Lord Hellfire that King Stefan has not made a decision.
Byzantine armies receive word from Justinian to begin the conquest of the Hungarian kingdom with the spring campaign season.
The combined Byzantine armies of Gladius Maximus, Prince Costas, and Mihajlovic of Serbia begin crossing the Middle Danube into southern Hungary, the Magyar homeland.
Hungarian forces break camp and move east into Ialomita, their goal the destruction of the Byzantine army in that region.
The mercenaries of Simon and a light infantry force led by Profirio begin crossing into Moldavia. The remainder of the army, commanded by Leo, moves west across Ialomita - straight towards the Hungarians coming east.
Stefan and Leo both have receive reports of their enemy approaching. Leo, knowing his infantry can't outmanuver the masses of Magyar cavalry, forms a defensive line. The steppe favors cavalry and reduces the effectiveness of infantry; the best his army can do is sell their lives expensively.
Six thousand Hungarians march towards the center of the Byzantine line whilst twenty-four thousand cavalry form up behind them in two masses, to pass to either side of their comrades on foot and strike the Greek flanks in a Cannae-style double envelopment.
At a signal from their King, the Hungarian cavalry starts moving, slowly, then faster into a full charge, sabres ready. As they approach the Greeks, the closest ranks of Magyar foot, still out of range of Byzantine bows, rasie their crossbows and fire a volley of 2,000 bolts. As they hit home, hundreds of Byzantines, mostly unarmored light infantry, go down as if wheat before a scythe. A small proportion of the total Greek strength, but it shocks them and disorders their line.
The Hungarian cavalry crashes into the Byzantine line like a sledgehammer, smashing through by sheer weight. Magyar infantry rush forward to get into the battle as well. Most of the Greeks were light infantry, without armor and used to skirmishing, Against horsemen in chainmail, surrounded and pressed back upon their comrades with nowhere to manuver, they are cut down in droves.
Over 9,000 Byzantines are killed or died of their wounds as they lay amidst their dead comrades. Not quite a thousand are taken prisoner, almost all of them wounded, including young Leo. The Magyars lose less than seven hundred dead and less than 1,500 wounded, a testament to what cavalry can do to infantry on the open steppe.
The mercenaries of Simon and the light infantry force led by Profirio complete their entry into Moldavia.
The main Byzantine force of Gladius Maximus, Prince Costas, and Mihajlovic of Serbia complete crossing the Middle Danube. To Gladius' amazement the crossing is uncontested.
Simon and Profirio pacify Moldavia, the local levies retreating ahead of them to join the garrison of Bucharest, held by 16 year old Nicolas, Count of Moldavia.
Vlad II Dracul of Transylvania, taking advantage of the situation, again raids across the mountains into western Moldavia, returning to Castle Dracul with gold and food.
The Hungarians easily pacify Ialomita, since the local lords haven't had time to raise, equip and train new levies. It was Stefan's intention at this point to continue on to Moldavia, there to React to further Byzantine invasions. He had just begun heading east when news arrives of the Greek conquest of Moldavia, and of the invasion of Hungary itself. At once Stefan orders his armies to return west to aid the homeland; a cavalry force is left to patrol reconquered Ialomita. Word is sent to Nicolas in Bucharest to hold at all costs.
The forces of Gladius Maximus, Prince Costas and Mihajlovic overrun the Hungarian homeland, having located ten forts but no mobile forces supporting them. Having nearly forty batteries of two culverin each with his army, Gladius subjects each fort in turn to several days' bombardment to breach walls and demoralize the defenders, followed by a swift storming. All the garrisons fight to the last man. Byzantine losses are less than 200 dead and 400 wounded, plus two of the light bombards which burst during firing (always a possibility, and why gunners were paid more than infantry).
Hungarian armies led by King Stefan and Lord Balaton cross into Walachia and set up winter camp near the western mountains, resolving to liberate their homeland during the 1427 campaigning season. The Byzantine armies in both Hungary and Moldavia go into winter camp as well, displacing locals from their homes for officers' quarters.
Breaking camp, the Magyar army moves west through the Carpathian mountains, into the Banat steppe.
Detatching a force to garrison Hungary, Gladius Maximus orders his men deploy to actively seige Budapest. The culverin begin firing, and the impacts of their shot starts bringing down parts of walls and towers in small avalanches of stone bits and mortar. A few arrows come from the city walls but it is soon apparent that the city is almost undefended. Lord Hellfire, under a flag of truce, rides out to parlay, offering to surrender the city intact if he and his family may leave with their possessions. Gladius considers the man with loathing, but not wishing to throw away such an opportunity, agrees. Returning, Hellfire orders the gates opened; as planned, Byzantine cavalry led by Prince Costas rush through, securing them before the mayor or head of the city guard can countermand the betrayal.
Later, the Byzantine representative Laertes and the army leaders sample the contents of the royal wine cellar.
Profirio posted garrisons in Moldavia while the mercenaries of Simon put Bucharest under seige, ten batteries of culverin and four of basilisks bombarding the city. The smaller number of artillery do less wall damage, but some of the heavier bombards' "long" shots pass over the battlements and crash through buildings, spreading fear among the civilians.
Profirio calls upon the city to surrender, but young Nicolas refuses, taking his feudal vows seriously. The Greeks and mercs launch a general assault against Nicolas' several thousand mixed infantry and dismounted cavalry holding the walls. The attackers are savaged as they approach, but once they reach the ramparts, their superior numbers, training and equipment let them clear the walls, then pour into the city itself, the defenders dying almost to a man. Nicolas was reported wounded but apparently escaped aboard one of the transports and cogs that fled upriver.
Simon's mercenaries suffer less than 400 dead and 800 wounded, with a pair of culverin burst from repeated use, while Profirio's light infantry take several hundred casualties too.
Stefan, Balaton and their armies reach the Tisza River between the Banat and Hungary itself. The area is filled with those civilians who had fled Budapest, scavanging food, including the Queen and royal children. Stefan, grieving for his homeland and capital (curse Hellfire! ) orders the army to cross the Tisza into Hungary.
When news of King Stefan's advance finally reaches Gladius Maximus, Prince Costas and Mihajlovic in Budapest, they grimly consider options: (1) deploying their mostly infantry and artillery force to fight the more manuverable Hungarian cavalry in open farmland would almost certainly lead to the same fate as Leo's army in Ialomita. (2) enduring a seige in Budapest, with Hungarian ships between them and supplies coming from Belgrade, could get them starved out. (3) moving north to pacify Slovakia as originally planned appeared to be their best chance.
Leaving a garrison in Budapest, the Byzantines head into Slovakia.
Both his and Lord Balaton's armies now back in Hungary, Stefan orders the homeland liberated. The scattered garrison of Byzantine infantry tries to fall back but horsemen can move much faster than men on foot, and the homeland population keeps their King well informed. The garrison is killed to a man at a cost of less than fifty Hungarians dead. Stefan orders his troops into winter encampment within sight of occupied Budapest.
Finding no garrison at all in Slovakia, Gladius orders his men into winter camp.
March - May 1428
Logically, Stefan knows his army is not equipped or trained for city fighting, but emotionally he cannot leave Budapest in the hands of his enemies. Lacking seige engineers, he orders his foot soldiers and dismounted cavalrymen to build scaling ladders. Assaulting one's own capital, he thought, I wonder if any King has done that before?
The Magyars advance, knowing from sources within the city it is held by about 800 Byzantine infantry. Halting outside bowshot, the lead ranks sent a sheet of crossbow bolts at the jeering (and obscenely gesturing) Greeks atop the walls, killing or wounding over a hundred. With a feral cry the Magyars launch a general assault upon the disordered garrison, dozens of scaling ladders rising from where they'd been concealed within the masses of warriors, men scrambling up them in the face of arrows, reaching the parapets.
The Byzantines have superior training and equipment, and take a bloody toll of the Hungarians, especially the dismounted cavalrymen who fight poorly on foot. The Hungarians however have overwhelming numbers and sweep the walls of defenders, hunting down and killing the last men of the garrison as they break and flee.
Stefan enters his capital in triumph, pleasantly surprised to see it hadn't been looted or set afire by the Greeks. The assault cost him over a thousand dead and two thousand wounded, but the jubulation of the liberated populace certainly justified the decision.
Stefan's men find Hellfire's mansion empty, everything of value gone along with the betrayer and his family. They also find the Byzantine ambassador Laertes passed out drunk in his own chambers, surrounded by empty bottles of royal vintage.
Gladius orders defenses built along the Slovakian border with Hungary. If the Magyars pursue him, he plans to extract a heavy price in lives.
June - September 1428
King Stefan takes the field near the Slovakian border, but hesitates to attack, his scouts reporting on the Byzantine fieldworks. His army has covered hundreds of miles and fought multiple battles over the past few years, and would benefit from rest and reinforcements. His Queen, of Slovakian heritage, is understandably angry.
Gladius, Costas and Mihajlovic prepare for an attack that doesn't happen, keeping their men busy with construction and drills, meanwhile waiting for new orders from Justinian.
The campaign was very challenging to GM fairly so I thought I'd mention how decisions are made. First, obviously I follow the player's orders as far as possible.
Second, If a circumstance arises the player's orders did not cover (for example, Reacting to two simultaneous threats) the leader's combat stat and some other factors are considered to decide how good a decision they'd make. Obviously, an A combat leader would choose correctly more often than a 5 combat leader.
Finally, GM role-playing generally won't extend to having an army loot, burn, enslave, commit genocide or scorch earth, since those cause destruction often requiring multiple turns to rebuild. A player can order those things done, but I won't presume to do them.
In the late fall of 1426, the conclave of Eastern Orthodox bishops met in
the Vatican-style enclave previously established around St. Sophia in
Constantinople, again to discuss the steady decline of their religion, caught
in the middle geographically between the spreading of both
Roman Catholicism and Islam.
The Patriarch had traditionally been the Emperor of Byzantium, but he had done nothing to reverse the failing of Eastern Orthodoxy. With heavy heart the bishops voted to strip Justinian of the Patriarchial title, choosing one of their number, Alexander, as the new Patriarch. Will now be active.
Takeda Tanasaki, Samurai and Emperor of Nippon
Takeda Tanasaki, upon receiving news of the death of the Regent, brought
his fleet of warships swiftly to the capital of Heien. Arriving in late February
while his detested middle brother (and potential rival) Suwo was still
waiting for the end of winter and overland travel to be practical, Tanasaki
took possession of the capital and its garrison, effectively consolidating
Tanasaki's youngest (and more trusted) brother Hiro was given command of the fleet to patrol against piracy or invasion.
Gold was funneled into the bureaucracy and all areas of the military. The University received only a small grant, perhaps reflecting Tanasaki's favoring of the sword over the scroll.
The Empress gave birth to a son at the end of 1425. The birth was difficult and for a time palace physicians feared for her life. She recovered but did not have more children afterward.
Hun Cho of the Manchu
To celebrate his ascending the throne, Hun Cho ordered the capital of
Kwangdu beautified with fountains, an amphitheater and a paved public
marketplace. Gold was also spent on military improvements and
expanding the bureaucracy.
Lieutenants Shang Li and Bolon Chan were sent to Khungari to propose a dynastic marriage between a local noblewoman and the Emperor. The young lord of Khungari, Amursk, pledged alliance and sent his sister to be Hun Cho's bride.
In early 1427, Hun Cho's younger half-brother Hun Chang came of age, and was proclaimed a Prince of the Manchu. Several days of celebration followed.
OPEN FOR A PLAYER
Gyanendra, Khan of the Alung-Gangri
While the Alung-Gangri wintered in Hsuing Nu,
messengers moved between Seong-Lee, Emperor of the Jung-Mo, wintering
just over the border in Lu'an, and Gyanendra Khan, encamped near the sacked
city of Suiryu. To the Khan's surprise he was offered tribute by the Jung-Mo
in exchange for peace.
A price was agreed upon, but in March of 1425, as the steppe dwellers were preparing to break camp, a messenger returned with an offer of even more gold if the nomads would go elsewhere. A new price was negotiated, with Gyanendra adding, "... and your Emperor can even pick which way we go! Upon his head shall be the life or death of kingdoms!"
In June 1425, Counselor Ching-Lang arrived with his retainers and a wagon bearing five chests of gold. The Khan ordered each opened,and the gold counted and weighed. Satisfied, he asked the slight, trembling Korean which way he should lead his battle-hardened warriors.
Yasemin of the Kyzl-Kom
Yasemin, the athletic (often out-hunting the clan chiefs) and beautiful Khan
of the Kyzl-Kom ordered the Horde west and then south to Tsinghai, letting the cattle
and horses graze on the rich steppe grass. During the journey over 15,000 nomad
warriors joined them, rebuilding their strength.
The clan leaders (unwilling to see one of their own elevated above them) had grudgingly accepted her leadership despite Islam's perception of her gender as inferior.
"This is dishonorable," muttered Tarashani, "instead of fighting these things, the King has ordered us to cut and run!"
"You haven't faced these reptiles," pointed out Bindusara, "you have no idea how dangerous they are. The King is wise to avoid loss of human life."
"Bah!" snorted Sitang, "I saw three sea lizards swimming off Mindinao, with necks as long as pythons, and they fled from our arrows! I hope these overgrown land lizards stand and fight, so my men can get some exercise!"
Towards the end of summer the coast of Sarawak was reached. Longboats were lowered, soldiers scrambled awkwardly down rope ladders and were rowed ashore by sailors. The ships' boats made trips back and forth until darkness approached; the shuttling of men and supplies would resume in the morning.
Just as Bindusara was commenting to Ronak that the landing was off to a good beginning, a lookout suddenly shrieked, "the sky! There, up in the sky!" All eyes looked up to see multiple leathery-winged reptiles wheeling and circling over the anchored fleet.
Cries of "demons!" spread across the fleet as ship after ship became aware of what flew above. Bindusara ordered word spread the creatures were simply flying animals like birds, admittedly with over twenty foot wingspans, but nothing supernatural. Gradually calm was restored in the fleet.
At dawn the transfer of soldiers to Sarawak continued, with some flyers always watching. After one had approached too closely and taken an arrow, losing altitude as it flew off, the rest kept their distance.
It took two months but eventually both armies were ashore and heading inland to collect the settlers and bring them back to the ships. The flying reptiles were in the skies here too, circling above bowshot range. The evacuation began early October 1425 and for the most part the civilians cooperated. Some in the northern part of the region, far from the carnosaurs, protested leaving their farms, and Tarashani's men had to be more forceful.
In southern Sarawak, by November the raiding carnivores from Barat found their hunting grounds emptying of what had become their favorite prey. With deep saurian bellows of fury, the multi-ton creatures, mostly in pairs, a few times 3 or 4 together, followed the trails of the evacuees, tracking them by scent.
Giant land reptile: 40+ ft long, 20 ft tall, weighing about 8 tons.
Most of the scattered mercenaries didn't see action, but several units did; in a series of skirmishes almost a hundred mercs had been killed or wounded, but after overcoming their initial fear they'd taken down two of the big saurians in thrashing clouds of dust, and wounded four others enough that they withdrew, roaring in pain. At least thirty more of the huge carnosaurs were glimpsed moving about, bellowing defiance, but had surprisingly quickly learned to keep their distance. By late May 1426 the last settlers had boarded ships, and the leaders gathered to conference.
"...so, with discipline and on ground of their choosing, men can stand up to those demon lizards. We taught them a lesson," Sitang concluded his analysis, "and if they try to interfere in Sabah, we'll do it again!"
In June the cogs headed out to sea then sailed around the northern tip of Borneo, anchoring offshore Sabah in late July 1426, shadowed by the ever-present flying reptiles. Meanwhile, the armies of Sitang and Tarashani marched east and entered Sabah also in July. They'd spotted several dozen big lizards stalking them - creatures that size couldn't find much cover in open farmland - but they still kept well out of bowshot. They learned fast we can hurt them at a distance, brooded Bindusara.
The evacuation of Sabah began in August of 1426 and proved more difficult, since the Javans there had not been subject to carnivore raids. As such, they bitterly resented being forced to abandon their homesteads and shops, and Tarashani's men were kept busy enforcing the King's command. Bindusara, Manu and Ronak assisted as well, traveling and speaking extensively. Sitang's merc units deployed, some along the border with Sarawak, others along the border with Timur, again to protect the movement of civilians.
It was late April of 1427 and most of the Sabah evacuees were aboard ship when the carnivores returned. The sky filled with hundreds of flyers, now much more aggressive, using feet and mouths to carry off mercs or disrupt their formations. Worse, they did this in obvious cooperation with the giant carnivores, of which there were nearly two hundred attacking, most crossing from Timur, but some who'd come through Sarawak. Rather than hunting in pairs or threesomes, this time they massed into much larger formations to strike with greater force, and were now utilizing whatever cover existed.
But the worst enemy were hundreds of smaller carnosaurs not previously encountered, two-legged also, as long as a man was tall. They were incredibly quick and agile, sweeping around the flanks of mercenary formations already busy fighting against flyers above and giants in front. Disturbingly, they could apparently understand infantry tactics, both to mimic and to devise counter- measures, and appeared to be commanding the other two types of saurian.
Medium land reptile: 6 ft long, 4 ft tall, unusually intelligent and adaptive. 1
In their stand, the men of Sitang suffered almost two thousand casualties, over 600 of them deaths. Many hundreds of wounded required attention. With the evacuation over, Tarashani's elite light infantry reinforced the exhausted mercs, tended to the injured and formed up details to build funeral pyres. The lizards had often been seen scavanging the battlefields, presumably for food; Sitang would be damned if he'd bury his losses only to have them dug up and eaten!
Human training, leadership, equipment and numbers had more than compensated for saurian ferocity. This time, thought Bindusara as the island was lost to sight.
1Velociraptors were native to China and Mongolia, assumed here to have migrated to Borneo over a land bridge. The large raptors in the Jurassic Park movie would have to be Deinonychus, native to North America, 10' long and standing about 7' tall. Both carnivores are in the Dromaesaur family and were among the most intelligent Cretaceous predators.
Alania, God-Empress of Sirinigar
Alania toured the kingdom to boost the morale of the people, her phenomenal
charisma allowing her to instill confidence into the most fearful citizen. Some
even claimed to see divine light in her eyes.
She returned each winter to the royal palace (rapidly becoming temple-like) to spend time with her children and meet with her generals and administrators. Her intelligence service expanded, hiring both scholars and cutthroats, as both had their uses.
In 1426 Counselor Murgesh suffered a fatal heart attack. Hunchbacked, shambling, and drooling, he only held his position due to family connections. He was not missed.
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Karmak aboard ship.
Alas, Bieru and Karmak had but a few days together before Karmak and a
thousand infantry left El'Qahira for the seaport of El'Iskandria. Once there he
assumed command of an exploration fleet of 20 carracks, which put to sea
and headed west through the Mediterranean to
Passing through the Gates of Hercules in late May 1425, Karmak ordered the fleet south through the Sea of Dogs, then west in mid-June to investigate reports of islands. The sailors had confidence in their navagational abilities and did not fear leaving sight of land.
In early 1426 the Egyptians saw dark blobs on the western horizon which proved to be the Canary Islands. Soon small boats were visible fleeing. A city upon one of the islands, with the flag
In July 1426 the Egyptians crossed into Asir to discover that the elderly local lord, Harun, was not tributary to Sheba but rather a feudal vassal. Angry at the Sultan of Sheba for so lightly treating the vassal/liege relationship, he renounced his oath of fealty, his lands becoming NT to both Sultanates. The army again encamped for the winter.
In May 1427 Argun and Hosni led their force across the border with Yemen only to discover a Sheban garrison of ten engineering companies commanded by career officer Harib who had not gotten word of any deal with Egypt. Moreover, as Harib pointed out, the populace were loyal, ethnic Shebans, not some tributary people to be shared like a camel or a slave! Already his men were entrenching across the likely Egyptian line of advance.
With regret, Argun ordered his batteries of basilisks unlimbered, and soon the ten seige cannon belched dark smoke, hurling 30-40kg rocks at the hastily-dug trenches of the Shebans. Best used against stone fortifications, the cannon nevertheless caused almost five hundred casualties among the defenders as the kenetic force of the stones pulped bodies to spatters of blood and viscera. The acrid smoke, the thunderous sound, and the inability to strike back - the Egyptian guns were well beyond shortbow range - led to panic, first a few of Harib's men, then more, until the force had broken. Harib, unable to stop them, fled with them.1
Leaving a garrison to hold the Yemeni farmland, the bulk of the Egyptian army approached the region's port city of Hodeida. An army of over 20,000 cavalry led by Ras al Khaimah of Dubai had been quartered there, but had been ordered to Aden early in 1425. The city was thus ungarrisoned; nor did it have walls. The city's mayor led a delegation to surrender the city to Argun and Hosni.
An infantry garrison was installed to keep order, and the bulk of the Egyptian army encamped in Yemen, its mission accomplished.
1Certain events give one side a huge combat bonus the initial round of battle, such as the first encounter with strange animals (men on horses, elephants, etc) by unfamiliar troops, or the first time gunpowder is employed against unfamiliar troops.
remains of a mathematics professor
Most journeys were uneventful; but the trip
upriver to Aksum however proved a nightmare. Having left Faiyum's
riverport of Asyut a few hours earlier, the boats were abruptly encircled,
overturned and savaged by
what horrified witnesses swore were scores of crocodiles.
Scholars, servants and boatmen alike were torn apart as the reptiles tugged at thrashing bodies desperately trying to swim to the riverbanks. Crimson-jawed, the crocs devoured most of the Merchants' contingent and a few non-merchant Egyptians as well for variety.
It was said some of the books that sank into the dark Nile waters had not been copied before leaving, their knowledge now lost.
Sketches made by Abdallah.
Hussain was fascinated with the sketches made by his lieutenant Abdallah of the
carnivorous flightless birds found on the islands of Mauritius. Considering himself
an amateur naturalist, the Prime Minister attended the dissection of
the dead bird brought back and all subsequent lectures by scholars. In fact he
became so obsessed that he let the kingdom drift.
Thus rumors of fishing boats from Sofala on Madagascar heading out east and never returning were not investigated.
Mossi warriors parade before Chief Burkina.
Gathered with his subchiefs in their Bani forest encampment,
Burkina announced his intentions to carry
out his past plans now that the flooded Upper Niger had subsided .
"We shall move southwest to Tusyam, then cross the river from a direction
the Ghanans are not expecting," he said, using charcoal to draw
upon a flat sheet of papyrus. "We shall take Segu and live like kings!"
The listeners cried out approval.
After looting anything of value from the people of Bani, the migration of warriors and families flowed into Tusyam, whose hopelessly outnumbered people cowered in the forest. Some of the Mossi began looting while most cut down trees and vines to build hundreds of rafts. In March 1426 the first waves of warriors crossed the Upper Niger into Segu. [See Segu Campaign]
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The first wave of Mossi, consisting of fast-moving light infantry, begin crossing the Upper Niger from Tusyam into Segu, surprised to find no one on watch. Dia of Segu mobilizes his 1600 mixed infantry and cavalry. Realizing by the time any assistance arrives the entire Horde will have crossed, he leads an assault on the Mossi bridgehead.
The sight of his mounted troops panics some of the barbarians, allowing Dia more of a chance than he'd expected. Savage fighting along the riverbank stains the water red and soon crocs are arriving and savaging the shrieking wounded. Over 1200 barbarians are casualties but their waves of reinforcements eventually overwhelm the men of Segu, who are virtually wiped out. Dia is found unconscious and taken prisoner; Burkina, impressed by his courage, orders him and the hundred or so surviving Segu wounded well treated.
By the end of April over 30,000 Mossi warriors had crossed.
Word reaches Director Murshid in Kumbi-Saleh of the incursion, but no details beyond "barbarians invading!" There are six thousand troops in Ghana but Murshid, busy ruling and ignorant in military affairs, does not leave his capital. Besides, he thought, surely my vassals can deal with this!
By the end of May over 55,000 Mossi warriors had crossed.
The same word reaches lords Sikasso of Boure and Dosso of Gorouol; and both order their house troops to prepare for campaigning.
By the end of June 80,000 Mossi warriors had crossed, as well as the civilians, cattle, wagons and their escorts.
Sikasso of Boure leads 1200 mixed infantry north into Ghana. Dosso of Gorouol, using the great road, reaches Songhai with 1000 mixed infantry. Neither have an inkling of the true numbers of the Mossi.
Word reaches Bafata of Takrur and Kabala of Okoikoi, both in far western Ghana; both order their house troops to prepare for campaigning.
Burkina orders the Segu countryside pacified. His army spreads out, finding neither fortifications nor garrison.
With the Director not reacting and thus no central authority involved, Sikasso of Boure and Dosso of Gorouol react independently, entering Segu from different directions and engaging the Mossi. The barbarians are taken by surprise and Burkina has some trouble controlling so many warriors. However the Mossi are better trained and there are, well, hordes of them. The two vassal forces are worn down by days of hit & run fighting with tribal bands until wiped out, Sikasso dying from a spear thrust while crafty Dosso, though wounded, evades immediate capture. The Mossi took about 600 casualties.
Meanwhile, moving together, Bafata of Takrur and Kabala of Okoikoi reach Gambia with mixed cavalry-infantry forces of 1800 and 600 respectively.
Burkina orders the pacification of Segu resumed. At the end of the month the Mossi go into winter quarters.
Moving east along the great road, Bafata and Kabala reach Khalem, then go into winter quarters as well.
In mid-April, Bafata and Kabala reach the capital of Kumbi-Saleh, coming upon squalid refugee camps and learning of recent developments. The two vassals declare to Murshid it impossible for them to drive the Mossi out of Segu, and neither will waste their soldiers' lives attempting it.
Meanwhile, by the end of April Segu has been pacified by the Horde.
In case the Mossi decide to continue west and invade the Ghanan homeland, Bafata and Kabala grimly order their men to fortify the border in concert with the regional garrison, for what good it will do.
Chief Burkina leads a force to Segu's river port of Mopti with the intent to assault it. He is met by a delegation of elders who surrender the city since it has neither walls nor garrison. The Mossi settle down comfortably in Segu and Mopti, living well as the conquered population supplies them with food and labor, the daughters of the wealthy chained at Burkina's feet.
Emir ibn Sayid of Morocco
Emir Arisaw ibn Sayid poured gold into military innovation, his intelligence
services, expanding his government and funding his University, which was
hosting a visit by Egyptian scholars. Works of benefit to agriculture were
added in both Sicily and Zirid.
Shipyards across the Emirate echoed with sawing and hammering as cogs were built for trade. Arisaw met with his merchant captains to discuss where best to utilize the ships.
The royal road linking the port of Rabat in Merrakesh to the capital of Fez was finally completed amid celebration.
Lords of the Earth is a PBM ©2002 Throne Enterprises