Chapter 45: The face of war changed
14 June 1260
The war is barely a week young and already I've changed the rules of confrontation. Now I'm back in my capital, preparing myself for a hunt. A manhunt. It started to dawn right after I had captured the city of Wercheg in a lighting attack. The fighting had been severe, and the losses high. Many dead, even more wounded: some nobles couldn't take it and ran away. After just three days of war, even though I already captured one of their major cities, my able fighting force was cut in half. Given the Nords time to prepare, and I would face utter defeat. Those huscarls were a pain in the pork. I needed to change my tactics, and needed to do it fast.
I just couldn't figure out what to do, so I continued as planned. I gathered the ones left and marched towards the next target: the castle of Alburq. Everyone farmer had fled, no jarl dared to oppose us now: without any trouble we arrived at the gates of that castle. Since Artimenner was still in a bad shape from the previous battles, Jeremus oversaw the construction of the ladders. It took him five hours instead of the regular four: too bad. After he was finished, we attacked in the middle of the night. The fortress proved to be a big problem to take. Not only were the walls high, but it was situated on a strategic hill. My men had to walk uphill under a rain of arrows and axes coming down. I first ordered everyone to hold their positions and let the sharpshooters do their job, but I quickly realised they that while the Nords easily reached my men, my sharpshooters had a hard time hitting them. So then I ordered a full-scale attack. Lots of men charged from all sides to the ladder, and threw themselves against a wall of defenders. Even though I won that way, the price was terrible high. All 177 defenders were dead, but at the cost of 149 dead soldiers at my side, along with 250 wounded.I ordered a full-scale attack upon Alburq castle after my sharpshooters couldn't reach their archers. Still I felt so glowing-in-the-dark...
Four days after entering the war, my army had already gotten two hard beatings. Two more lords, Regas and Rafard, chickened out and rode off. If I would continue like this, I wouldn't have anyone left to fight for me in another week. I wanted to persue the two lords and order them to stay, but I couldn't: three Nord jarls were spotted in the area, and if I left my newly conquered castle alone, it would certainly fall back into their hands. So I decided to turn around and face them with the men I had left, which was still a greater amount than they could muster with the three of them.
The first jarl I encountered, named Knudarr, was actually quite friendly towards me. We had a nice conversation, but when I brought up the point of loyalty, he made it quite clear that he would remain at Ragnar's side, no matter what. It pained my heart to write down my next move, but I knew that it had to be done. Before this friendly man could ride away, I ordered my men to capture him. There was no way that I would allow him to recapture Alburq castle behind my back. This action shocked many, especially Knudarr's men, who immediately charged. But even though he had quite some huscarls with him, they were in the open field no match for my mamlukes attacking from the side. With Knudarr in custody, I moved forwards, to the next one, jarl Harald. Since no-one from Knudarr's army had escaped alive, he hadn't heard of the tragedy that had befallen his comrade, and he welcomed me warmly before I put him in chains. Once again his army was no match for the combined forces of the Hollandic nobles.I had forgotten to exchange my crossbow for a lance when I rode to battle against the jarls: no turning back, there were some men blocking my way.
While I was busy with fighting the armies of Knudarr and Harald, the third one, jarl Tulug, attacked the lonely lord Cruhask. Of course I could have let him loose as a punishment for not participating in my ordered fights, but I decided against that. Instead I rode to help like a true cavalry should, and arrived in the nick of time to save him from defeat. When Tulug saw my army arriving, he decided it was unwise to stay: he left his men fighting while he himself chickened out. I would see him later, I think.
While I was busy with those three jarls near Alburq castle, a fourth managed to slip past me. I heard about him the moment he started to besiege Wercheg all alone. Normally a siege of a city would be unwise to perform alone, but the number of defenders was still quite insufficient to withstand a fullscale siege. Immediately I rode back. Some Nord messengers tried to stall me by offering 1700 denars for jarl Meltor, one of my prisoners. Not only was I offended by this low amount, I had to hurry and had no time for such trivialties as negotiations. I rode on, until I met this new thread: jarl Logarson. The moment he noticed my coming, he abandoned the siege and fled. But I was faster, caught up with him, defeated his army and put him in chains. I needed to get back to Khudan as fast as possible to drop off all those prisoners.
I turned once more around, and rode the road I had rode quite a few times now, passing through the village of Jayek once more. When I approached this unassigned fief, I saw a black smoke coming from the buildings. It was being raided by jarl Gerlad, I soon found out. That was something I couldn't allow: I confronted him with his crimes by charging and destroying his army. Between the fleeing farmers and screaming soldiers he managed to escape, but his army of 155 men didn't. Another blow in the face of the Nords.
The next stop was the Nord castle of Jeirbe. Even though I had my army with me, which was still a considerable force, I decided not to besiege the place. Not yet. I would have to build a siege tower, which would take two days to build, and I rather put my five very important prisoners first in the prison tower before continuing. So I rode on, until I saw that jarl Haeda was raiding the village of Tismirr, right in front of my capital's doorsteps. Of course I charged, and defeated his army. He escaped, but still I was able to put quite a lot of people in the prison cell.Many nobles resident nowadays in the cells of Khudan.
Not only were there the jarls I captured, but also some older ones from long defeated factions. Like Sanjar khan, or Druli noyan. In total there are 13 nobles in my prison tower. But that's still not enough: I'll need to fill it up until they are packed tightly together. If the Nords can't muster an army anymore, the war will be a piece of cake. This is the new tactic. The war is become dirtier every day. A new kind of fighting has dawned to Calradia: the hunting season has opened. Let's prepare the men for a manhunt. Jarl season has just opened.
Floris' stats haven't changed much, so it's time to show you my financial situation. As you can see, quite some of my factories are under sequestration and don't make me money. That needs to change by conquering all the Nord cities:
Holland has conquered Alburq castle and the nearby village. That's all that has changed: