Wednesday, March 27, 2013

War Journal of Christoff Koch

So, last year I did this for a couple days of War and this year I ended up doing it for all but the last day. Basically I blogged about each day of War from the perspective of my persona. I'm reposting them all here, to save for posterity and my own happy memories. Long post ahead, I hope you enjoy the read!

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Part 1 - 

The journey to the great Gulf War has begun, and as I was this time last year I am a flurry of emotion.

I finished my work in the kitchens in a prompt manner, the head cook was impressed with my diligence but gave a knowing laugh as he knew I was excited to be on my way. The remaining supplies are being packed into the wagon as I write, and within the hour the horses will be spurned onward to begin the long trek to our destination. It was with a heavy heart that I must leave my brothers and sisters behind once more, but the Cantons must be protected in the Armies absence and I know they will perform admirably.

Adriano has left ahead of us, once again managing to wriggle his way into a situation he was unexpecting. The sly weasel has found himself ensnared by the beauty of our fair Princess, pledged his loyalty to her name and has become head of her personal guard (all with the permission of his Lady of course). He is off near the vanguard of Caesars army, marching with the royal heirs and no doubt getting himself into a trouble that will require me to extract him from.

While my heart is heavy at leaving some behind, I am overjoyed to be spending the time with my Lady. She has been unable to attend to me on such journeys before, last year she even spent much of her own gold to send me on my way, and we have both been looking forward to spending a great deal of time together this year. I am eager to show her the Shrine, the Fort and of course the tavern. I think she is more interested in meeting all the scribes and spending her hours locked away in the libraries.

While I cannot fight in this years army, I am glad for what spent my coffers and filled my time instead. Mistress Madhavi has been a patient and kind teacher, and though a language barrier can still exist making it difficult to communicate at times we have grown closer over this past year. She has taught me much, and showed me where to learn much more, and has promised to introduce me to HER teacher as well as her fellow apprentice sisters who will be in attendance. Intimidated, I am just a little.

The wagons are packed, the sun has begun to set and the great drive towards War has begun. I pray that St. Martin keep watch over me as we travel, and that our trip be a safe and prosperous one.

- Christoff

Part 2 - 

The first day of War has unofficially begun, and already a flurry of activity has overtaken the Kingdom and the various parties who have traveled to partake in the combat and festivities!

We were able to drive through the night, pausing only to change horses as ours grew exhausted. A small tavern served as the supper, I believe it was called Hamburg's King, and while not the best quality of meat it filled the belly and warmed the body. We were able to arrive at the rear of the slumbering army near the witching hour, we slept a nervous and fitful sleep and before we knew it the sun had risen and the call to war was sounded.

What a sight, the crowds gathered to support their causes! The army of Trimaris proved fearsome in might and sound even at the wee hours of the morn, but perhaps that was simply the sound of their stomachs as I and my fellow cooks rushed to sate their hungers. Old friends were reunited and new friendships have already begun to form, it is nice to compare notes and meet friendly faces from all over the Known World.

As my Lady has chided me, I have already found work. Though not a fighter yet, I feel it my duty to aid King and Kingdom in any way I can so the task of supporting the armies is one I can take to with a zeal. Assisting Corwyn with his fighters encampment was a pleasure, getting to meet his fellow brothers in arms is always a delight. Several Baronies required assistance with different measures, even the Royal Household required my aid and I did not disappoint. My friends and brother have already chided me on my "quests", but I pay them no mind.

I have made my big purchase for War, a new basket, and am currently sitting in camp awaiting supper to be served. My Laurel has chided me for spending time writing instead of being social, it is wonderful to see her in such good spirits and she has already begun to fill me with beers and go at length to their crafting and purpose. I will set my quill down for this evening, and write again in the morrow.

Part 3 - 

A long day to report in, but in the end a happy tiding for all.

The storm blew through the night, one that raged and battered every tent in the encampment. The rain poured in sheets across the whole of us, the canvas concaved and expanded with each gust of wind. It seems that twelve hours of constant pounding storms would prove more powerful than even the tightest water seal, come the morning much of my ladies and I's bedding was soaked. Thankfully the garb and other needed supplies were dry, but this did not cause my lady any less panic or concern.

I do adore my lady and worship the ground she glides above, but when it comes to camping she is quite the storm of trouble herself. She is better suited for the perfumed halls and a quiet scribes library, not the loud and heavy war encampments that we find ourselves surrounded by. The ropes have been a challenge enough, but the storm proved too much for her. She was frightened by the high winds and pouring rains, come the morning she was a wreck with the wet bedding.
To make piece with her, we hitched the horses and went deep into the Burg of Hattie's to acquire clean and dry bedding. We met with my Laurel and her husband at a small bakery, sipping warm drinks we discussed much, and returned to the War encampment soon after. Sadly most of the day was spent in recovery for not just us but many similar camps, even the merchants themselves were busy cleaning broken pottery. It seemed that a great cheer was needed, and the Green Dragon was just such the place.

Ahh, the Green Dragon. There is no where on earth such a place like this. The stone floors echo with the sounds of battles fought, and the tables stained with the drink of friendship and boast. Tonight Mistress Miriam Heather o' the Dale chose to perform for the War effort, her own Kingdom making her comfortable in the cold and wet environment. The tavern was filled to bursting, many chose to simple sit outside and catch the snippets of sound when then could no longer stand inside.

As the evening drew to a close, my lady and I returned to camp to enjoy the company of friends around a fire. A wonderful discussion was started by my Laurel and a true wise woman simply known as Wolfmom; from religion to Kingdom history, no subject was left untouched. I write these words now in the glow of the dieing embers, absorbing the lessons and getting to better know my fellow kinsman. Many drinks have been shared, lessons learned and stories told. I hope my family back home does well, I hope to sleep before the dawn because tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow, battle will begin.

Part 4 - 

Ahh, the day has finally arrived! The field of battle has been prepared, the armies mustered and the eager merchants looking to capitalize on the whole affair have flocked from all the known world. It is a good day to be a Trimarian!

Thankfully this morning started far
simpler for my lady and I, no flooding of water or blustering wind to contend with. The heavy chill of winter settled after the storm, I'll admit I was displeased with the light covering of ice on much of the encampment gear. A slow start, and I found myself traveling down to join my Emperor and Empress for the Grand Processional. I escorted Honorable Lady Ever to join me, we would march in the great parade while my Lady Mora would spend the day toiling with inks and learning new jewel crafting skills.

Of course things are never so simple for me and upon arriving I was greeted by a nervous Baroness, my own in fact, who explained to me the great banners of the Emperor and Empress were missing! Cursing the tricks of Calontir, such a deed as hiding the banners is not unusual for the bard kingdom, Ever and I sprinted frantically towards the royal encampments to see what we could do. Aiding their Imperial Majesties majordomo, we located the banners and hung them from a war-torn spear. Sprinting back across the length and breath of the camp, we arrived to find that we had been promoted to head of the processional!

Such a thing is not uncommon to me, but the surprising turn of events had Ever a touch confused. We quickly applied our war faces and marched with dignity and poise behind the Prince and Princess, leading the assembled to the great fortress within the center of the battlefield. The walk was several miles, through the town and across the field, but it warmed the heart to hear the triumphant cries of Vivat from Trimaris and her allies at the sight of us.

The fortress was imposing, its stone walls and wooden ramparts loomed over the assembled crowd. The gravity of the situation had settled on the crowd, and as the heralds began their calls you could hear the hearts pound from the populous. Excitement was electrical, spreading like a strike in a dry field, and the crowds leaned in and awaited the great doors to open to reveal the royalty. Each Kingdom sent forth their best bards, proclaiming the virtues of their houses, to the applause of the assembled.

I'd say my favorites were the great Kingdom of the East ("she who summons the sun with her smile, to warmth and wrath") and our rivals the great Kingdom of Ansteorra ("The great calendar of the ancient mayans ended to signal the rise of the black star across the known world"). Such elegance and poise from them all!

At last the time for alliance declarations had arrived. Both Trimaris and Ansteorra stood at opposite ends, and each royal house spoke and chose whom to ally with then stood with them to declare their loyalty. Both the Middle and the East made interesting choices, the Midlands chose to split their army in half to support both sides while the East had their armed fighters support Trimaris and their rapier/archers support Ansteorra. My Laurel whispered from behind her veil that there are rumors of aggression between the East and the Middle Kingdom, talk of an upcoming war, and both are striving to seek support from all the kingdoms by displaying their prowess for all to see.

After the announcements of the allies, the armies began to muster and prepare for war. The nearby town was a central point of contention, the easiest access to the Fortress for the Trimarian forces lay in liberating this town from Ansteorran rule. The townfolk fled, happily willing to watch the fight from the safety of the nearby hills, and the Trimarians filled the town. It seems the Ansteorrans had tried to fool our forces, thinking to trick us into lowering our guard, but our brave generals would not allow us to relax. As the Ansteorran tide surged in, the Trimarians held fast and kept them at bay. We are a people used to hurricane winds, the hot air of an opposing enemies feint would not cause us to bend. Our Empress left shortly before the battle began, she had some secret mission to undertake with the archers and I pray St. Christopher keep her in his hands.

While we secured victory over the town, it seems the rapier fighters felt it necessary to pause for a drink in the local tavern. I choose to blame Adriano for this, he was on Princess guard duty, and it seems a few choice words about our Trimarian heirs statue had swords drawn in anger to defend her honor. I am not sure if anyone technically won the sheer number of duels that began...nor am I certain they cared. I do know that they all stumbled out drink on battle and expensive wine, and half chased their Ansteorran counterparts out of town. I hope Adriano has not overstepped his bounds, there is whisper of a plot against the Princess as well as a rival to her heart.

The tavern calls for me, and there are bardic circles to join. I rest my pen for the night, secure in knowing our Trimarian forces are protected by God and our works are seen as good. Hopefully God will see the drinking adventures I have planned for myself as good as well.

Part 5 - 

If I were to attach a label to this day, it would have to be the revenge of Ansteorra. Mistress Madhavi and I hitched up the wagon and traveled into the Burg of Hatti's to pick up supplies for camp as well as the Queens Tea the following day, but the war continued to rage without us. I heard word of what happened from Adriano, and after sorting out the bardic fluff added for retelling I was able to piece together much of the battles.

While the main Trimarian force kept nipping at the flank of the Ansteorrans, the Empress herself personally led the archers of the army into the ravine just before the fortress. A garrison of Ansteorran archers were kept there in supply, a legion used to reinforce the fortress should it come to siege, and thinning their ranks and routing them was required for success. The Trimarian archers fought bravely in defense of their Empress, but they lacked the bloodthirsty and single-minded focus the Ansteorrn forces had in their eyes. The moment that Empress Brenna took an arrow to her shoulder the Trimarians rallied. Led by Captain Corwyn, the army rallied to their Empress and encircled her protectively. Withdrawing from the ravine, they chose the life of their queen over victory. While we lost the battle, the Ansteorran forces were cut down by half and severely weakened.

Out on the field, the Princess had chosen to lead the witty rapier fighters to chasing the Ansteorran forces. I chided Andriano on being cocky, the Trimarians had so routed the Ansteorrans that they felt chasing them out of not just the tavern but onto the open field may have been a good idea. It seems the Ansteorrans had a bit more sobriety to them, and turned and pounced on the fencers as they ran jovially onto the field of combat. I admire the rapier folk though, they laugh and delight at the thought of combat and eagerly toss themselves into the fray. It seems the Ansteorrans were not willing to "play", they struck back with a vengeance that quickly lead to the Trimairans surrounded. If not for the quick thinking of her Highness and the Don's of the Kingdom we would have lost an heir, she personally challenged the Ansteorran Princess to a duel. The Don's of both kingdoms ringed the battle while the whirling dervish blades struck at each other, the distraction allowing the remaining men to slink off down into the ravine for safety (where they met with the forces of the Empress in a strange twist). Sadly the Princess was struck in the side, first blood was drawn and the Ansteorrans won the duel. So impressed with her courage, the Ansteorran Princess allowed them to leave the battle lives in tact and then sent her forces after the Trimarian's licking their wounds at the edge of the ravine.

It is here that I once again am witness. I had the misfortune of being the one to report to Caesar the losses both, as well as the wounding of his Empress and heir. Great was his fury and great was his stature as he rose from his desk and swore to make the Ansteorrans pay for the insult. Gathering the Prince and a team of guards, he rode hard and fast to join his troops. He grabbed a rapier blade and swore the Ansteorran's would not leave this field of battle alive, rallied his men and allies and personally led the charge into the Ansteorran forces.

The fighting was brutal and intense, neither side giving much ground, but the Trimarians had one thought on their mind: victory. Caesar himself never stopped running, back and forth he ran through the lines giving commands and words of encouragement. It was not until the Prince himself wounded the Ansteorran Princess, a blow struck for his fair lady, that they realized they had roused the 3-headed dragon into the fury of the hurricane. They retreated slowly at first, then faster and faster till the Trimarians were the only ones standing alive.

The battle had finally been won, the rapier forces and the archers of Ansteorra were wiped clean or too wounded, but there was still more battles to be fought and won. So caught up in the fever of excitement, in the war camps all the merchants kept their stalls open till after the midnight hour and sold at extremely well rates. Much gold and spoils were spent, and my fellow craftsman who did not fight found wonderful treasures.

I admit that I may have been a bit overzealous in my own pride, and followed too well the command of my Laurel. She instructed me and a few others to, ahem, "acquire" linens to use for a grand breakfast tomorrow. She had not packed enough, and many dinner parties were going on that night so they wouldn't miss a few dining linens to use to clean hands and lips. While my companions got a few each, I may have "acquired" the whole lot from Meredies. A good laugh was shared by all.

The victory party calls to me, I can hear the drums pounding as my fellow Trimarians celebrate the victory this day. I think I shall enjoy a glass with my brothers and sisters.

Part 6 - 

Another exciting day in camp, but this comes from not the fighters on the field but from us artisans and other camp followers. It seems rumor has spread that the Ansteorran forces feel their camp followers craft better than us, and we shall not allow the gauntlet to remain untouched!

Countess Dulcia, Wolfmom the Wise and Mistress Madhavi spearheaded the "attack", Countess Dulcia gathered the best artisans she could muster and put them to task at sewing or cooking or crafting their masterworks to display. Mistress Madhavi and Wolfmom the Wise worked on feeding the artisans, while I was a good ways away preparing my own plan of attack. Though not yet prepared to enter a war of art, I was tasked by Empress Brenna with hosting the Queens Tea. This is a special meal for only those of the Royal blood from around the known world, and I was entrusted with the honor.

Of course I had to make thingd complicated on myself, this being a royal command from Empress Brenna meant I was serving roman food! I studied the cooking roll of Apicius and translated several recipes from the original Latin, and those were the dishes we dined upon. Countess Sybilla gave me a terrific compliment, and a Laurel from Meredies (unaware of my linen theft thankfully) said the dishes were to the caliber she herself would craft. The food was well consumed, I like to feel my meals inspired the champions battling before us to suceed as Trimaris won the champions tourney.

The artisan gauntlet was thrown and Trimaris gleefully picked it up, smacked Ansteorra with it then gilded it in platinum. Even those of the collected kingdoms of the known world could not deny our artisans superiority, and we were declared the artisan champions. There was a great cheering from within the camp, one the carried over encampments for miles around. Sadly this good Wa did not transfer to our military battle for the day. We lost the field battle, but this was an expected and planned for loss owing to our disadvantages.

We Trimarians are not used to wide open fields of combat, ours is a land of small spaces and narrow passages. These large field battles put us at a distinct disadvantage, terrain we're not able to train for and fighting the mounted cavalry of Calontir. We held our own well, but knowing we had minimal chance at victory allowed us to strategically retreat back to the bridge. We may have lost the field, but Ansteorra has gotten cocky and are not prepared for what awaits them in the next battle.

Caesar and Empress Brenna hosted a royal court later that evening, not only to rally the people but to announce awards of state and recognition for those they felt worthy. It was a beautiful court that ended in a wedding between the Prince and Princess (officially solidifying their claim to the Imperial throne). Countess Dulcia was inducted as a Lancer of Trimaris for her duty in serving as "general" of the artisans on short notice, and Honorable Lady Thallassia was given the Crowns Order of Gratitude for her works during the War to date. I was honored by being inducted into the Order of the Emerald Seas for my work with the Queens Tea, and my brother Adriano finally had his award of arms verified and is seen as a Lord in the Kingdom of Trimaris and beyond.

After court I traveled to the viking encampment, to join my Laurel in the mead hall and share drinks and stories with her friends. I met an old friend of hers, a Norseman who's name roughly translated into English was Mad Dog, and we shared several pints of his homebrew and told stories of wars past and hopes for the future.

The fire burns low here in the meadhall and another bard has begun to sing. I feel I shall end my journal entries here, and hope my letters reach you safely and with due haste. The mead calls to me, and I feel honor bound to drink enough for those at home.

Part 7 - 

I pen this entry while assisting a member of the Princes guard in keeping the Prince "dignified", he has enjoyed greatly the spoils of victory this day and has fallen far into his cup. And he should, today has been a glorious day of combat and victories for many.

The day before the Ansteorrans had pushed the Trimarian forces back to the bridged then camped for the night, thinking they had trapped us and cut us off from the remainder of the encampment and thus our supplies. What they seemed unaware of was this was our ideal environment, a small enclosed space where the superior Ansteorran numbers did nothing and our generals could display their tactical brilliance. In the morning light the Ansteorran forces began to march on the bridge, and the Trimarians grinned and awaited the black star slaughter to come.

The night before, Jarl Ari and General Takamatsu came up with a brilliant tactic to crush the Ansteorran forces. Armed and ready, the Trimarians braced themselves for the tidal wave of enemy forces. As combat was engaged, the front shield men crouched low and kicked their shields out. The angled point forced the enemy shields forward, exposing the upper bodies of the surprised foes. Though this angle did not allow our own front line to strike, it opened up for the sneak attack. Behind the front line, the second line grabbed and swung hard the claymores they had hidden low, slaughtering the whole front line of Ansteorrans. As the claymores came down, the third wave thrust their speartips forward, balanced on the edge of the front lines shields, and took out the second line seconds later. The Trimarians moved forward over the Ansteorran dead as the claymore's swung again. Within less than a minute the front three ranks of the Ansteorrans lay dead, not a Trimarian was lost, and the enemy suddenly became afraid of the trap they found themselves in.

The second surge onto the bridge ended just as disastrously, as did the third. Captain Corwyn had devised a type of throwing mace, the few remaining archers of Ansteorra had no idea what it them when a large metal mace was suddenly thrown at them with deadly accuracy. The archers of Trimaris had their revenge, led by the Empress they rained death from the walls of the bridge upon the back lines whom thought themselves safe. Five times the Ansteorrans tried to take the bridge, and five times they failed.

At this point the Ansteorran forces tried to go beneath, into the ravine in hopes that the uneven terrain would aid them. They were mistaken, for the three-headed dragon chased with a reckless abandon after the enemy and fought with a ferocity not seen since the days of King Tyrbrander. The battle was fierce and hard fought, the Ansteorrans realized their mistake and their trapped state at the bottom of the ravine and fought like men facing certain death. It seemed to last for hours, but the Ansteorrans finally extracted themselves and fled to the fortress for safety. We had triumphed that day, and it was proper cause to celebrate.

My own lady triumphed that day as well, a labor of herculean proportion was set before her and she succeeded amazingly. Caesar, the morning before the battle, set her to task to finish writing the war book referred simply as The Codex. This would be a record of his words, of the words of the men fighting and the names of all who fought on behalf of Caesar. This was a great honor, any scribe should feel blessed to partake in its work, but this monumental task was given to her with only a single day to complete. She worked through the day, bent over her desk and writing at a feverish pace, but before Orion had crossed the sky in his eternal hunt she had completed the task.

I must pause my writing here, the Prince has decided he needs more liquid in his cup and we must send him to bed lest he be unable to fight in the morning.