Vox Populi Forum
The Bishop Absalon of Montpelier was a progromist prone to using “Anti-baptists” as scapegoats for all ills in his diocese. The Bishop had a recent change of heart, mind and soul, and had decided the Anti-baptist sect needed protection. In the past, Bishop Absalon had called for the blinding of money-lenders, silver-smiths and dentists. A notable amount of money-lenders, silver-smiths and dentists are members of the Anti-baptist movement. The Bishop’s change of heart has yet to spread to his flock, for long-held sentiment does not change overnight from a single decree which many have not heard, or are unable to read!
Henri le Violeur was contracted to take the nine Elders of the Anti-Baptists safely into Mainz, and, from there, on to safety. Henri contacted Paul Klee, Jasc Bonadventure, Nemo McMcMoridin and myself to assist. Nemo brought in his friend, Tomas de Marchand. The Bishop provided Henri with funds to hire an Elite company of mercenaries, and a barge for transport. I brought my Star Horizon along to serve as a gun-ship. Rumors came to our ears that Charles, Chancellor of the Realm was indebted to the Anti-baptist Elders (who had helped Charles pay off debts to others) and that the ungrateful Chancellor had recruited among the infamous Fasci Friars to stir up trouble in Montpelier. The Fasci were formidable foes, and we all knew one shouldn’t be overtly Brash when taking actions against them. We also knew the Fasci were master of forcing foes into taking Brash actions.
The entire Olde World had been in turmoil for the past three or four years. Several nations had depleted their armies in a reckless invasion of a far-off continent, and other powers had decided to expand their influence at home. There was fighting between France and Russia, rumblings about the Serbians and the Fatimah, rumors of tensions between Kleef and Spain, while the Genoans had gone so far as to start using maps where certain routes bore different names to those used on the charts of all other nations! Mainz was amidst what would best be described as a war-zone!
The ports were abuzz with rumors that “Thor,” flagship of Kleef, had gone missing. I resolved to make it a point to seek more information on this situation as Nemo McMoridan and I had first met years ago on a mission to sail that fine ship from Paris back to her home berth in Kleef. We boarded our vessels and set off down the river. Henri’s two hundred and fifty-strong mercenary company might have held a reputation as an Elite force, but we found the troops to be Seasick, Plagued, thin as if suffering from Famine, argumentative to the point of being outright Felonious, and full of grumblers on the edge of Desertion. At least the hearty gruel they were served calmed their sea-sickness,.
Tomas, Jasc and Nemo wore the green sashes of the heroic Vert Valliant, and the reputation of that band of heroes was known across the Olde World. Perhaps this was why the mercenaries hosted a birthday party for Tomas? Tomas was obviously a man who cared about the common soldier, and the feelings of friendship fostered by the event surely contributed to the mercenaries rapidly becoming Fit and Fed.
Ashore, during re-provisioning, it came to my ears that Thor hadn’t gone missing, but had been taken by the Spanish. Tensions were growing between Span and Kleef. War would unite Spain and Genoa. As allies of Kleef, France would find herself drawn into this conflict. There are already tensions between France, Russia and Serbia, so an escalation of French hostilities would benefit no one except the owners of Frances munition factories. I doubled-down on my resolved to keep my ears turned towards more developments.
At this same stop agents of the Fasci Friars located our band. Given no time to plan,we found ourselves forced into brash response. Jasc almost was gutted by a wildly-slashing foe. Nemo fought off Fasci Friars with a series of one-two-three combinations, whist Tomas, Paul Klee and I took advantage of the Fasci’s encumbering robes - all of us tripped our ungainly opponent, then knifed them on the decking. The mercenaries through themselves into the fight and proved themselves a Battle Hard company. The Fasci were repulses with no casualties or serious injuries. The worst injury in our company was the headache given to Henri from being tackled about the legs and stunned into unconsciousness.
The attack must have been a mere feint. That evening one of the Elders of the Anti-baptists was murdered. Henri proved to be quite the spymaster and interrogator. Within the hour, and before any of the other Elder’s came to harm, the killer had been caught and hung. Henri assigned Paul Klee to guard the Elders. This proved to be unwise. Two of the holy men were arguing a point of ethics emphatically. Klee’s response to their raised voices was to beat both men into silence. The hot-tempered Klee is no longer trusted by the Elders, and another had to be assigned to guard them. Hopefully nothing goes wrong aboard the ships or their crews, else Klee’s known temper might make him an easy Scapegoat for any crew complaints.
The Friars must have agents in every port, village and mooring up and down the river. We have had no issues with attacks from the water, where Star Horizon’s cannon could be brought into play, but, again, came under assault while ashore. We were attacked from behind with Jasc rendered unconscious from a blow to the back of his skull, and Henri more concerned with halting the bleeding from an inexpertly slashed throat than fighting. Nemo slipped, dropped his sword, and found himself scrambling for anything at-hand to defend himself. Klee managed to avoid a garrote, and declared “on his honor,” not one of these Fasci would live another hour. I was knocked to the grounded, breath stolen from my lungs by a hard kick, and had to struggle to avoid panic. Only Tomas avoided surprise and felled his attacker by whipping his belt around the man’s knees and dropping his Fasci foe, face-first, to the floor. Nemo grabbed the first thing his questing fingers found and got his arm up in time to lock up the blade of his antagonist. Surprise! Nemo had caught up his own sword, which he sank into his antagonist’s breast. Nemo called on the attackers to stand down, but they chose to press on. So be it! The man who had kicked me to the ground moved in to finish what he started and found himself “hoisted upon his own petard.” My foot drove into his gut, my dagger into his eye, before I threw the dagger at another foe. My throw was mistimed, for the spinning hilt caught the target in the temple, not the blade in his throat. Either way, the man fell from battle. Kicks became the preferred tactic of all in the fight, for Tomas avoided a slashing blow from he who had assailed Jasc before Tomas’s boots removed the man from the waking world. Klee’s foot lashed out against the last of the attackers, but was caught by his mark. Klee pushed into the air with his resting foot and lashed his boot into the amazed foe’s face! It seemed the attack was over, when my keen eyes caught sight of a figure in robes skulking away. The leader of the gang, no doubt, was trying to save himself or report back to his masters. I chased him down and brought him low with my mastery of Wrestling Holds.
Henri le Violeur was in no condition to continue the voyage. A cousin of his, a man named Robeire Renee Rouseau, lived nearby, and Henri was confident Robeire would be willing to assume his responsibilities for the Elders. We decided the others would continue up-river on their barge while I situated Henri with a barber, and waited for the arrival of Robeire. Robeire and I would quickly catch up to the lumbering barge aboard the nimble Star Horizon. While waiting I inquired around, hoping to hear more news of Thor. There was none. Indeed the gossip was all about the conflict between the Serbs and the Infidel Fatimah! The Serbian army had recently lost a major battle against the Infidels, which surely left the Serbians regrouping along their eastern borders.
Star Horizon caught up to the barge just down-river from Mainz. Robeire was introduced to the party just in time for the next obstacle. The Elders of the Anti-baptists were reluctant to stay in Mainz, and wished to return to Montpelier. For their safety we needed to persuade them to remain. We appealed to their greed, to points of law, raw charisma, witty repartee, blackmail, and forged documentation. Klee even resorted to knocking on out, prompting jasc to try the same. Six Elders were convinced to remain in the safety of our care, two wished to brave their own fortunes, and nothing would dissuade them from their foolish desire.
News reached us that Montpelier was shortly to come under assault. As a group we decided to return and defend the village of some nine-hundred souls. It was the depths of the weathering season, and so the decision was made to try a forced march directly over land rather than to risk the waters. We set out, and recruited another twenty-five soldiers, but road conditions were worse than initially estimated. Continue to try a forced march over ice and snow, or risk the inclement storm winds of winter? Once again, the Star Horizon proved her worth. Lines attached between her and our barge allowed the weight of the barge to help steady Star Horizon, while the caravel’s sails were able to boost the speed of the barge. Word reached us mid-transit that the Bishop Absalon was displeased with our plans to defend Montpelier. It seems strange for a Godly man to care more for six of a competing sect than for the farmers, merchants, wives and children of his own flock. Whatever the Bishop’s wishes, Montpelier needed the assistance.
We arrived before the invaders had finished their preparations and before they moved to seal off the village Roughly four-hundred mounted invaders were poised to attack, and, strangely, they seemed to be Serbians! If the Serbian rulers felt the time right to assault other nations, while their own gate faced invaders, perhaps that explained why the Serbs seemed to far so poorly against the Fatimah!
The season had gone dry. The wooden construction of most of Montpelier was dry. There were four main approaches into the village - one for each of the cardinal directions - and we had over nine-hundred innocents (and six Holy Men) to protect. Robeire had taken over the command of the mission for his injured cousin, and he divided up his soldiers. Jasc Bonadventure, Nemo McMcMoridin, Tomas de Marchand, Paul Klee and I each had thirty-five troops to command. Robeire Renee Rouseau kept an oversized unit for himself. Jasc’s soldiers were to hold the Western Bridge into the city. Nemo’s troops, the gates of the South Floodplain. My forces drew a line at the East Moat and Tomas’ mercenaries kept the North Moat safe. Robeire's infantry were held in the village armory - they were to fire over the outskirts of the village, run supplies to the rest of us, and were ready to reinforce any unit that fell into dire straights. The Holy Men were holed up in the heights with Klee.
And the bloodshed soon began. Surprised by the ferocity of the Serbian cavalry, Tomas’s troops immediately lost the Northern Moat. They were pushed east to the Baron’s estate. Klee’s forces moved towards the Market just south of the Northern Moat and prepared themselves with prayer. Jasc tried breaching levies to flood the area around the Western Bridge. An inspired tactic that would have worked better in the narrow, walled streets than the open fields at the edge of the village. Jasc was badly injured for his trouble. Nemo’s company was forced from the South Floodplain into low-town. A barrier of pike and musket was formed, ready to make the attackers pay. My men had been instructed to lay explosive charges along the far end of the bridge, and along the stout stone rails of the bridge itself. The first trap drew first blood for our side. Well over a hundred of the Serbs were blown into gibbets. I’d sent a runner, Jurdi Canaigres, back to the armory detailing the tactic. Robeire saw the value in using bombs in narrow choke-points like the bridges, and set out for the Western Bridge where hurled grenades dispatched another sixty or so of the foe.
We weren’t unique in our use of explosives. The Serbs had bombs of their own, and Tomas found out the hard way that the Baron’s Estate was naught but a Deathtrap! The ancient stone walls of the manor crumbled under the detonations of grenades, and half of Tomas’ unit perished in the rubble. Meanwhile, Klee’s commandos were pushed from the Market, and Klee, himself, was pierced by a Serbian spear. Jasc’s pike formations prevented the Serbians from crossing the Western Bridge, but Jasc lost a significant number of troops, and narrowly escaped death himself. Nemo attempted to flood the streets of Low Town, to little avail. The townsfolk should have stayed safe in the Heights, but their bravery could not be denied. The citizens pushed out into the town to fight off the invaders that roamed the streets. Alas, while brave, farmers and merchants are not fighting men, and hundreds perished. I helplessly watched two-hundred villagers form an ad-hoc company and attempt to charge across the East Bridge. Fuses had already been lit for a second trap and those brave village men were unable to hear my shouted warnings over their own battle cries. They pushed the Serbs back from the bridge but died in savage explosions meant for the Serbs.
Robeire had set a second explosive trap on the Western Bridge, when it, too, found unwanted aid from the brave, foolish villagers. The villagers charging the bridge failed to push the Serbians back across the water - which only meant the detonations slew Serb and Frenchman alike.
Despite the appalling loss of civilian life, bombs, grenades and explosive traps had still proven more useful against the Serbian cavalry than lines of pike and musket, flooding the streets or powerful prayers. Robeire split his forces and assigned the splinter unit to Jurdi Canigres. Jurdi fell back to the armory where grenades and charges were prepared then run out to our forward positions. Tomas, Jasc, Robeire and myself were all successful with the deployment of our munitions against the invaders, while Nemo used his indirectly - to further breach the levees - and forced the Serbs to retreat from Low Town. Jurdi’s splinter unit had gathered up the remaining villagers, and removed them to the heights. The civilians were handed pikes and formed into ranks as a diversion to keep them our of the way of our mercenaries. Tomas moved the remnants of his unit to cover the East Bridge. We had no need of the additional troops, so Tomas pressed west to pick off Serbian stragglers in High Town. Jasc’s men returned to the Armory to prepare fresh explosives while Nemo pulled back from Low Town to join those on the heights.
The battle had grown increasingly chaotic with the Serbs showing little central organization, and the villagers brave attempts to hold their town more often than not placing them in danger of our French guns. I think all were surprised when the Serbians who were ravaging the town chose to try flanking my unit on the east bridge. We faded back and waited until the Cavalry crossing the bridge met their “victorious” companions holding at the village end. Their celebrations were cut short in a roar of concussive fire.
The echos faded away to silence. It may have been one of the Holy Men, the Elders of the Anti-baptists who first realized the all the invading Serbs had perished in battle or disengaged from battle. The village of Montpelier stood proud and victorious in safety. Yet, the cost was high. Of the nine-hundred villagers, fewer than four-hundred remained alive. To the townsfolk, the loss of life, while terrible, was still worthy of celebration. Without our aid, they said, surely all would have perished in flames. To my mixed pride and horror, I find myself hailed as “Savior of Montpelier.”
Perhaps it’s true. Perhaps in the aftermath of this battle the townsfolk will unite to rebuild and put past squabbles behind them. Perhaps the Elders of the Anti-baptists we were removing from this village will stay, rebuild and find themselves accepted, once again, by Montpelier. “Modo liceat vivere, est spes,” the playwright Terrance, wrote. “While there is life, there is hope.” We can but hope that Montpelier will rise anew.
Yet, something nagged within… A gut feeling that this danger has not fully ended. Robeire is also uneasy, hence he has posted a watch at the heights. If more raids should occur, we wish to be ready well in advance.
Hugo Marque Lamarr (Mike)
Why did we do this again? -- Mike Myke Mique (posted: 9/9/2018)
Death be not Proud -- red (posted: 9/9/2018)
Bonadventure took a vicious too -- IronConrad (posted: 9/10/2018)
Probably something I missed at the time. -- Mike Myke Mique (posted: 9/10/2018)
Took a Vicious on the first draw .... and continued .... -- IronConrad (posted: 9/10/2018)
Too subtle a wound... -- Mike Myke Mique (posted: 9/10/2018)
Didn't Dennis also shift to an Alt? -- red (posted: 9/10/2018)
Yes, he did. -- Mike Myke Mique (posted: 9/10/2018)
Porse at Montpellier -- red (posted: 9/10/2018)
Another thing I missed... -- Mike Myke Mique (posted: 9/10/2018)
Perhaps frayed a seam on the coin purse .... -- IronConrad (posted: 9/10/2018)