Chapter 11: The Rhodoks War
26 September 1257
It's war, and I'm deeply involved. Last month the kingdom of Rhodoks and Swadia collided, and even though I originally wanted to seek out the lords and ladies of my marked territory, I got dragged into this fight more and more. The past two weeks have been very exciting: I really feel alive. And the king now actually listens to my advise, which is also a good sign. I'm gaining influence pretty fast. It's hard to believe it's only six months since I arrived in these lands as a beggar: now I'm a trusted count of the king of Swadia.
When I left my castle two weeks ago, I rode to the Nord city of Dhirim, only to find it under siege by the main Vaegir army. I asked all the lords if they had something to do for me, in the hope I could improve my relation with some of them, but unfortunately no-one had something to do for me. Understandable, since they were busy conquering a city, which they managed to do. Nowadays it's a Vaegir city, although I'm still much liked over there.Dhirim was besieged by the main Vaegir army, who couldn't think of something to do for me.
From Dhirim, I rode to Uxkhal, where I heard the plea of a merchant: his daughter was kidnapped, and he was searching for a brave warrior to take the ransom to the bandits. I had experience with this: it even were the same bandits, although it was a different girl. This time we had a nice cup of tea before we concluded the deal. It was nice doing business with them: they were professionals. I also promised to take some ale to Narra, but rode firstly in the opposite direction. I rode to Suno, where I promised to guide a caravan to Tihr, although I planned to take a detour via Praven. My girl was awaiting there. Underway I encountered near the village of Iyindah the Swadian main army. From this moment on I was sucked into the war, becoming the decorated hero I'm now.
I had noticed before that Rhodoks and Swadia look very similar: the war showed me they were each others equals. Maybe I could tilt the balance in favour of Swadia, and let my star rise more in the eyes of the Swadia court. These thoughts flashed through my mind a dozen of times while I rode from the army towards Praven, until I saw a battle take place. Count Plais of Swadia was fighting against count Fudreim. Leading my men into battle, I managed to tilt the balance and save the day, and also free count Montewar from captivity. The taste of victory is sweet, and I rode along the border many times the past two weeks, and helped several counts with their battles.Wherever I go, I see fighting nobles: I aided the Swadian counts a dozen of times, leading armies to thunder against our Rhodoks neighbours.
My actions made such an impression on the nobles, that count Delinard, the appointed marshal of the Swadian army, send word for me last week: he wanted me to join the big boys in the fight against Rhodok. This was good news, and after delivering the ale to Narra, I rode on to Uxkhal, to meet the count just outside town. When I approached the city, I saw a fierce fight going on between the armies of the Swadian count Rochabarth and the Rhodek count Fudreim, and intervened. After winning the battle, count Rochabarth asked me to free his father, count Tredian, from Ergellon Castle, which I pledged to do. Then I continued to meet the marshal himself.
Seeing me arriving guarding the remnants of count Rochabarths army, the marshal was impressed. He asked me to stay close, and follow him around. The main army moved forward to inspect a large column of smoke spiraling up from behind the forest: it appeared to be the village of Ruluns. Seeing the destruction of this peacefull town, the marshall wanted to make an expedition into hostile territory, to make a retribution, but he needed good intel before he could proceed. That's where he turned to me, and asked me to go to Ergellon Castle and the two surrounding villages, and bring back reports of the whereabouts.
Knowing I had to go to the castle anyway to free the count, I gladly accepted the honour, and proceeded as planned. First I rode to Serindar, and sent a messenger to the marshal reporting the status of this quiet village. Next I went to Pagundur, the town closest to the castle. There I asked the village elder to create that night an enormous fire: it would be the perfect distraction for the guards in the castle, which would enable me to sneak in and free the captured lord. Unfortunately, all hell broke loose that evening.As I rode through the night to reach Ergellon Castle, the main Swadian army started to raid the village that would create the distraction. This would end very badly if I proceeded with the plan.
The moment I left Pagundur, the entire Swadian army came raging through the forest, and started to burn the village down. Even though this created a large fire, it was the wrong kind: from the castle walls every guard could see the pillaging, and every guard in his right mind would stay behind the thick walls. The villagers weren't able to create the distraction I had needed to sneak in the castle, so I just rode up to the gate and asked to speak with someone in command. Both count Rimusk and Gerluchs were present, but neither wanted to negotiate about a release of the prisoner. Disillusioned I rode back to the poor village, to report to the marshall: instead I encountered the king himself. Using my friendship with him I managed to convince him that Ergellon was an easy catch: he only had to lay siege to the castle in order to gain more territory. Too bad the king ignored his marshall and rode alone with his private guards towards the prison.
I rode ahead, and started the siege. For quiet a while I waited for the king to arrive with his reinforcements, but none arrived. Scouting around learned me he was under attack by the main Rhodoks army. Knowing I couldn't win the siege alone, I pulled back and helped the king. Seeing the main army raging forward, I feared for my life. This was something completely different than the little skirmishes I had before: we were outnumbered eight to one. I was relieved when the thundering army came to a sudden stop, and count Reland, an important guy from Rhodoks, walked towards me. He asked me if I could lend him my best surgeon, to help a dear friend of his. Of course I would do that, as a caring noble.Count Reland of Rhodoks asked me to lend him my best surgeon.
The moment I rode back to my ranks, to instruct Jeremus to ride to the other side, king Harlaus attacked the count. Of course I couldn't do less than help the king, and together we smashed count Reland's army into oblivion. It hurt my feelings a little, since we did have a good talk, and I had said I would lend my surgeon. But now I would need him myself for my own men. After this fight, I finally rode back to Ergellon castle, in the hope I could lay siege with the king, but once I arrived, I notice the king had fled back to his own land. The coward.
As I was standing alone before the walls of Ergellon, the Rhodoks sent count Rimusk forward to flank me and destroy my army. They had underestimated me: I wiped that army out, but paid a price: my army was severely weakened, and I was finally forced to break the siege totally and return to Swadia. I decided to ride to Praven too, where I would meet my sweet maiden Gaeda again, The past few months I started to appreciate her company more and more, and I believe she starts to think the same way about me. While I rode away, count Tredian, held prisoner at the castle I had tried to lay siege and to negotiate with, was released from captivity. All my trouble, my fighting and scouting, had been for nothing. Well, nothing... My standing in the kingdom has improved much, and it wouldn't surprise me if a big reward would come my way soon.
Here is a picture of Floris' current stats: