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Derthalen

The Story of Otto the Peaceful

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The garrison was tired. Villagers from all over the place had come begging for help against raiders, and the Amtmann had already left with most of the men to try and fight this encroaching force. Now there were reports of another band attacking further north with impunity, and they simply did not have the men to spare. Instead they were having to maintain a full time watch of the pass to keep anymore raiders from getting through. It was nearing midnight when the alarm was raised. One of the houses in the small village had caught alight and the fire had spread to one of the fields. The castle's guard started rushing out with buckets of water and dirt to keep the rest of the fields and houses from catching fire. Thankfully it was but a small one, so it would not hurt the harvest much. Thirty-two of the men worked tirelessly to get the blaze under control, and managed to save the field. Feeling quite proud of themselves, they were completely dumbfounded when they saw some of them with arrows sticking out of their chests and shoulders. While they had been tiring themselves out with the fire, an army had snuck through the fields; they were under attack! 250px-German_Empire_1914.svg_-_Copy.png

Before the gates could be closed, Uddomar charged his men through the first gate and began their attack. They were met bravely by fifteen men carrying pikes and who managed to form a cohesive line at the second gate. Despite the overwhelming numbers advantage that the attackers had, they could not simply push through a bottleneck when they did not have the reach to get at the defenders. Nor could they pepper them with arrows, as all the archers with with Wendel slaughtering those that had gone outside. Instead the attackers formed a phalanx with their shields and made to advance on the pikemen while those behind them lobbed stones and the occasional francisca. The pikes jabbed at the legs of the advancing men trying to provoke one of them to break formation and create an opening. Each jab came with risk though, as the second rank would try to grab the weapon and pull the wielder towards their axes. The two lines squared off with three yards between. The pikemen held fast as their allies organised behind them. They continued to stand up to being pelted with stones as even a slight opening would be all it would take for the attackers to rush them. Uddomar looked upon this and grew frustrated. In his irritation, he ordered the whole of the second line to throw their axes at once to try and break the defenders. The axes felled five of the pikemen, and made the rest flinch. This was all that was needed, as the first line crashed into them and hacked them to pieces in short order. While this did work, it had taken too long. The third gate had been shut by those further in, and anyone who went onto the bridge was killed by archers.

Meanwhile, the slaughter in the village continued without a hitch. Wendel's archers continued to attack the thirty men who had come out to stop the fire. Most of them had left their weapons and shields behind, and posed little to no threat, but they attempted a charge anyway. Some of the villagers seeing this, rushed out of their homes carry poles and tools as weapons to try and help the soldiers. Outnumbering them three to one, Wendel simply had his men come out of the field and stand their ground.The villagers and desperate soldiers were met by the bite of steel and iron weapons and shattered once they realised how outnumbered they were. The defenders started to run, and so were chased down. Those that surrendered were herded into a large storehouse, and were kept there to be sold off as slaves later. The rest were shown no mercy. None escaped.

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The northern pass had been secured. With the fall of the castle guarding it, the road into Östragrel was open for the army of Derthalen now; thirty-three years before, the Eastern Goths had invaded the Kingdom of Derthalen and had taken most of the Kingdom's farmland and access to the Got-See in the east. They had even dared to march into the mountains and try to take the silver mines that had formed the basis of power for Derthalen. Thankfully, they had never experienced winter in the mountains before. Their armies were allowed to march unopposed through the passes and deep into the territory of the Derthaler, the castles that stood in their way had been stripped of supplies and their defenders long gone. It was during the winter solstice that the counterattack finally came. The Goths were only four leagues from Jomsberg (what would become Heinrichstadt), and were preparing to lay siege to the city. Their massive army of fifteen-thousand had slowly made their way through the valleys stripping them of food in order to deal this final blow and take the capital of the mountain men. The day they were to march on the city, disaster struck them. Teams of men had climbed the mountains and played their horns and drums as loudly as they could, bringing down white death upon the invaders. Avalanches struck the Gothic foemen trapping them where they were. They could not advance, nor could they retreat. Of the fifteen-thousand, only three-thousand made it out of this disaster. They were without supplies and with only a few of their leaders. In their flight from the mountains, they were harassed ceaselessly by the Alemanns whom they had sought to subjugate. They brought back with them stories of powerful magics being  wrought by the folk of the mountains, and of how in the dark of the night, snow-wraiths would appear in their camps to take them never to be seen or heard from again.

Despite this, the war did not end. The mountain men were few in numbers and without much food to get them by, and with enemies rousing in the flatlands as well. Seeing the failure of his vassals, the King of Östragrel sent forth his own army to seize the passes and make sure that their work was not undone. Over the next five years, skirmishes and battles saw them gain a foothold in the mountains, but never getting the silver that they so wanted. An unsteady peace was created, as neither kingdom could sustain the war any longer without their other neighbours taking notice and invading. Although there were minor raids and skirmishes, between the nobles living along the border for the next twenty years, Östragrel turned its eyes towards the south and into Rukonen. They trusted in their sense of superiority and waged war to their south while leaving their western frontier largely unguarded. All that was left were a few minor lords and their levies to protect them from incursions from the mountains. It was this opportunity that started us off on this path to unification. The young Prince Uddomar was tasked by his father to set forth with some men to test the strength of the Gothic presence and clear the way for the army to advance undetected. Having succeeded in his mission, an army of six-thousand men were now to follow his raiders and burn the countryside to bring about a famine. Even while Östragrel was busy fighting Rukonen, the chances for a victory were slim. Their only hope for the future was cripple the enemy's ability to feed their armies so that they would not face a renewed campaign against them in the coming years.

For the first two months of their campaign they had moved relatively unopposed. While the lords and stewards of the fiefdoms they moved through organised defences, they could not stand up to the sheer numbers of the Derthaler forces. After coming out of the mountains, they had swept through countryside like a plague locusts. The summer of that year was an especially hot one, with the crops sowed in the spring growing strong already. As such, it was truly devastating for the peasants in western Östragrel to see what was promising to be a great bumper harvest turned to ashes before their very eyes while many of their sons and fathers were gone to the south to war. The dispossessed were driven from their villages and to the towns, creating great strains on the food reserves and farmland that the marauding army had left untouched so that they could move on to softer targets. While all this transpired though, riders had gone to the king's host in the south to call for aid; while it was slow, it was surely coming and the first of the Eastern Gothic army would be back to challenge the raiders soon.

Edited by Derthalen
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