Chapter 20: Swadia burning
9 July 1258
Swadia is burning, and it has been for two months already. The enormous growth earlier this year was enough reason for the bordering kingdoms to make an alliance to stop this growing beast. If I had only foreseen the misfortune that would befall on me, I could have prepared more, could have rallied more support. But no, the first half of May I was too busy with the squabling of my companions. I had gathered many men around me, and it appeared some people didn't like each other after all. In April I had hired four new companions, but they all didn't fit in to the group. Before things escalated, I had asked them to go out to the people and spread the joyfull word of my upcoming ascention to the throne. Baheshtur told the steppe people he came from that I would guarantee them free passage to the markets, instead of a toll they now have to pay each time they pass through. Bunduk went out to tell every common peasant he would meet that I would have audiences with common folks once I'll be the supreme one. I don't know if I can forfill every promise I've made the past few months, but at least the people are starting to believe in me, which basically gives me enough right to rule.
But even though they had set out to spread the word, there wasn't any harmony left in the party, so the new ones had to go eventually. It's sad because I had hired them, but it seems I had made a mistake by doing so. Some of my most trusted companions started to rebel against this new generation of followers: especially Artimenner wanted to leave me by the end of April. I'm glad I managed to convince him to stay a little longer. On the eight of May Alayen decided it was enough: he left the group, to be followed by Katrin. Even Baheshtur saw we couldn't continue like this. In the end I sent Deshavi and also Bunduk away, keeping only the core of my old companions around me.Me and the seven companions that are left in my party: Marnid the horse archer, who will learn to fire a crossbow while riding into battle; Nizar and Firentis, who will be jousting knights charging the enemy; Artimenner and Rolf, who will think out the tactics and build constructions; Jeremus and Ymira, the medics of the team.
The war with Rhodoks, which had started by the end of April, was going steady. Swadia had conquered Almerra castle and the nearby village of Saren, but otherwise it wasn't that spectacular. Until the Khergit Khanate saw its chance and declared war too. A war on two fronts would be a real challenge: the forces had to be divided. But on the other hand: king Harlaus trusted me to protect the border. Pretty quick after the declaration of war, the Khergit forces were standing at the gates of Khudan. But I had been building up forces for the past month in that city, so when I arrived on the scene, the defence was a lot better this time. I decided to go out again and get more men to defend, but unfortunately I was overwhelmed by sea raiders. The first three groups I managed to fence off, but the fourth overcame me and took me prisoner. Rolf, Jeremus and I managed to escape the next day, but once again I had lost companions. I rode to Curaw, where I felt miserable. I had once again to look for many companions, although not all this time, and I had to rebuild my treasury. So I started to ride along the trade routes.
The first route I thought of, was the Khergit-Sarranid Spice route. I have ridden many times along there, and made a lot of money out of it. The route is short, but effective. I start in Tulga, where I buy spice for less than 700 denars. Most of the time I pay between 500 and 600 denars a piece. I also buy salt, for which I pay no more than 200 denars a piece. Then I ride through the eastern valley to Ahmerrad, where I sell the spice for at least 800 denars (I start most of the time at 880 denars) and the salt for at least 250 denars a piece. In Ahmerrad I buy iron for not more than 150 each, and ride back to sell in in Tulga for at least 250. There is one structural problem with this route: there is more money flowing from Ahmerrad to Tulga than the other way around, so after a few times the merchants of Ahmerrad aren't able to buy my spice anymore: then it's time to sell the last pieces in Bariyye and go somewhere else. But this time I couldn't go for this trade route, since Swadia was at war with Khergit.
Another possibility I thought of, were the Velvet sales of Jelkala. The city of Jelkala is the one place in the world where they sell really cheap velvet. Most of the time I can buy it there for 600 to 700 a piece, although I never pay more than 800. I haven't found a favourable selling city, since every one seems to want Jelkala velvet equally: they all pay more than 900. Unfortunately Swadia was also at war with Rhodoks, so no velvet for me.
The trade route I was closest too, was the Vaegir-Swadian Iron route. In both Curaw and Dhirim I could buy iron very cheap, paying of course not more than 150 each. Reyvadin is really waiting for this iron, and takes it all for at least 250. I hadn't found any other profitable resources on this route yet: therefor I had to look at a more extended route.
From that trade route, I came to a very large one, which takes five days to make just one round: the Nord-Swadian route. It all centers around the oil sale in Suno: if the selling price there is lower than 300, I can make monstrous profits: else I make only 2500 to 3000 per run. The cities I attend in this route, in order, are: Suno (where I buy oil for less than 300: I sell it for at least 450; I also buy wine, which I buy for maximal 150 and sell for at least 250), Wercheg (I buy salt for less than 200 and sell it for at least 250), Sargoth (I buy Flax for less than 100, which I sell for at least 100; Linen I buy for less than 250 and sell for at least 300; Wool for less than 100, I sell for at least 100), Tihr (Salt for less than 200 and sell for at least 250; Wool for less than 100, I sell for at least 100) and lastly Praven (Ale and Wool both for less than 100, sell for at least 100). The goods I can't buy in a certain city, I can sell over there. For example, I can buy ale and wool in Praven, and thus can sell flax, linen, oil, salt and wine over there.A map with the original kingdoms as I arrived, and the trade routes I ride.
As I rode the trade routes, I searched for my companions. In the meantime I hired Lezalit, an experienced sword instructor, and Borchit, another warrior. I hoped they would fare better in the group than my last round of hiring people, and apparently I was right this time. Marnid and Borcha seemed to get along pretty well, just like Lezalit and Artimenner.
On 30 May I heard that the siege of Khudan was over: the attackers hadn't been able to capture the place, easing my nerves and giving me more time to gather an army and find my friends back. This was also noticeable in my current group: Lezalit had heard of me before, and offered to ride to all corners of Calradia proclaiming that I would not only be the one to unite the kingdoms, but also to conquer all other realms outside. I don't know, that seems like an impossible task. But who knows: if I can unite these lands, I can do everything. A little later Borcha spread the word that I would pardon all but the worst prisoners once I'd become emperor. Both tales let my fame grow, and are good pavements for the emperorship.
During my travels I met lady Sihavan in Praven: lady number nine on my courting list. I really should focus my attention soon, and see whom I could marry best: not for love, but for political reasons. When I just arrived in Praven, I heard about the siege of my Dramug castle: unfortunately, I wasn't able to prevent its fall: most of my men had been stationed in Khudan. Now I had not only lost the city of Halmar, but also the castle of Drumar. I needed to gather more men to station in my remaining castles if I want to become independent one day. But on the good side: I was able to gather support on the feast to elect me marshal. Unfortunately the king didn't listen to his peers and choose count Klargus again. Maybe next time. I rode out and found my companions one by one back in the taverns of several different cities. Only Ymira and Firentis were at Yalen, deep in hostile territory: I wouldn't be able to reach them until there would be peace between Rhodok and Swadia.I found Marnid in the tavern of Dhirim, as I found my other companions in other taverns.
On 7 June the worst thing that could happen to Swadia, actually happened: the kingdom of Nords also
declared war. Now Swadia had to face three enemies from three different sides: Rhodok, Khergit and now also Nord. While Swadia was raided from all sides and even all of the villages in the entire country were burning, I rode to the Sarranids and Vaegir to trade. The war seemed pretty far, until I saved a caravan from jarl Dirigun. Even though I defeated him and captured the lord, I let him go: he had fought well, and it was the honourable thing to do. Unfortunately pretty soon after that Rindyar castle fell to the Khergit too, robbing me of my second castle. I wouldn't see a chance to take them back, since on 21 June there was finally peace between Swadia and Khergit: they had obviously won the war. Thee days later the Rhodoks followed, claiming their spoils of the war. I finally was able to go to Yalen and get the rest of my companions back, but once I got there, they were gone already! Luckily I was able to retrace their tracks, and find them.I've got over 500 men, although many still need to be trained. Their wages are already killing my treasury...
Now I'm in my new capital, the city of Khudan. I've gathered more than 500 men. I'll keep on training them, to have an army soon that can plough through any resistance. I'll arm my companions till they are the deadliest group of the entire empire. With Lezalit and borcha they now count nine whose wrath will fall upon my enemies. I think we'll seal our companionship by creating a ring for us all: nine rings for the mortal men, and one to rule them all. I have lost much the past two months. Beware, everyone, because soon it will begin. Soon I'll thunder across the landscape.
Here is a picture of Floris' current stats, including his renown, honour rating and right to rule:
Three countries waged war at the same time against Swadia: no wonder that they've been pushed back hard. As margravate of the border provinces, I've been bit hardest. The Khergit have expanded much, and came back. The Nord have reclaimed Dhirim and some surrounding towns. Even the Rhodoks took a castle and town from Swadia.