This video is a visual reference to the story you are about to read. The video has been cut from my Twitch stream. I led my troops as well as an ally’s troops into unbelievable odds as my own castle was falling into enemy control. I hope you enjoy the video and the corresponding story. Let’s begin.
Spring 12, 1086
Morning of Bloodshed
Nobles with influence on the realm sought fit to bestow Varagos Castle unto me. A simple “yay” with weight behind it has promoted me to nobility. I led a successful campaign across Calradia during the early winter of 1086. This campaign has won me favor with the nobles of the Southern Empire but has also bred opposition from the East and the North. I set forth to adventure with an Army, not knowing what my future would hold.
It is… a wonderous thing. I earned my place at the head of the Varagos region in my campaign this past winter. I mounted my horse and road away from my new home after a decisive victory over the Northern Empire. One newly acquired subject asked when I should return. I could not say. The war could take some seasons to conclude.
I truly hope to call this castle home in my retirement from campaigns and bring prosperity to the region. The Northern Empire had ruled on the region for a long time. Could I bring a new outlook to the citizens? Time could only tell. I rode away. Onward to other trials.
I traveled for a time. Expanding my influence and imposing my will upon other parties with the same goal in mind. It was not until today, only a season later, when I received parchment from the North. A force from further North marches on my hopeful home. I call an emergency meeting with my most senior warriors.
Normally I would call my trusted companion, Henera. Herena came into my service way before I had any influence at all. I trust her completely. I remember when I met her in the bar at Phyaceon. Men were giving her a hard time and she was close to cutting them all down when I stepped in. She has been with me since. Sadly, she is in the custody of a Khuzait Party. I became a large part of this war after I heard the news of her capture. I must get her back in one piece, but now I have a decision to make. Continue to chase her captor or go save our home? What would she do? What would she want me to do? Do I have the manpower to complete both daunting tasks? The council should help in this decision.
My 3 best fighters arrive at my tent. Bram, Isadore, and Alfred are my most senior men. I could see they were already aware of my quandary as they enter. I ask them directly, “What would you have me do?”. Bram was the first to speak. “My Lord, we have to bring Herena’s captor to justice.” Alfred quickly rebuts, “After, we save our home!”
The discussion continues as I gather information. We learn that over 600 trained warriors bare down on my castle. I have but 60 soldiers in my service. “If we make it into the castle, we won’t need the numbers, Lord Goose.” Alfred reminding me that we had faced overpowering odds before. But never 10 times the force. The walls would provide us an advantage, but we are further in days from the castle than the North. We would have to make it passed 600 fighters, enter the castle, and resecure it before it falls. We all die if we fail, and who knows the fate of Herena after that. If we win, Herena remains in captivity another day, and who knows if we will get back on the trail of her captor. We also learn that Lucon is the commander of the Northern Empire’s warring party. Making the siege defense trickier.
Lucon is the ruler of the Northern Empire. On one hand, battling him back from our walls and defeating his army could end the war in the north. On the other hand, he has the best trained troops in the Northern Empire. Ten times the force as my own in number and in skill.
The discussion seemed to take the entire day; however, it was over quickly when Isadore finally delivered his thoughts. “My Lord,” he said, “We all know we will be on the Empress’s road to Varagos Castle soon.” Yes, it is apparent my mind had already been made up. “You would not have asked for our council if you were planning to continue Herena’s trail.” He added. And… he was right. I tell them to ready the warriors for return to Varagos.
Since it has been decided, how are we going to win this thing? I have put together some influence among Southern Empires nobles. I know that Patyr and Turiados are nearby. They each have over 100 fighters in their parties. We would have great odds of a victory over Senator Lucon with 260 soldiers and the walls under our feet. I send word but receive support from Turiados alone. Turiados scout tells me that they are just hours behind and his 110 fighters are heading for Varagos.
Bram reminds me that there are towns which approve of our cause between us and Lucon’s siege camp. Perhaps they will have hard men ready for work. Several towns give us fighters. We will have 200 warriors once we rendezvous with Turiados. I set in waiting for Turiados just an hour from Varagos. This is the last time I will be able to speak to the warriors before we engage in the siege defense. I decide to take time to get in one last training session ensuring the archers are calm, and the front liners are not.
Turiados finally calls for an audience to hear my plan. I bring along Bram, Isadore, and Alfred to inform the other party of the plan. We understand we will take some losses to get in the gate, but determine it is the only way to victory for us. Fighting this large of a force on the open battlefield will surely end in defeat. We fill every seat on every horse we have and make our dash for the gate!
Over 50 men fall to arrow fire, but we enter the back gate and resecure it with success. We are committed to the siege now.
Stories speak of the calm before the storm. This poetic luxury is nowhere to be found. We all die here, or we push back Lucon’s army. There is nothing in between. What happens after today is too far in the future to fret over. I have an army to deny. I replace tired archers on the wall and rearrange our battlements. We are as prepared as we can for an outcome.
This is not Lucon’s introduction to siege tactics. He will use bowmen to cover the maneuver of his ladders and battering ram. He knows all he must do to win the land is impregnate the gate. His laddermen with occupy my archers while his archers cover the motion of the ram. Once that gate falls, our fate is sealed.
Incidentally, this is my introduction to siege defense. I stand here with throwing knives rather than bow and quiver. I was ready for a 1 on 1 fight, yet I find myself gazing upon a force which seeks to wipe out the only claim on this realm I have. I have walked already 50 loyal followers into their early graves on this quest for a retirement plan for myself. Now, another 150 loyal followers stand shoulder to shoulder with me ready to claim the same fate.
I walk atop the wall right as the rain starts. Raining arrows to cover the movement of objects designed to destroy me. Ladders rush across the battlefield ready to pierce my walls. One of my loyal archers falls right as the ladders reach their destination. Unlucky fate for him has turned into a correction of my ill-preparedness.
I collect his bow and quiver and fire upon the raiding crew with haste. I knock one man down as he attempts to mount the ladder, and another as he advances upward. Waves of enemies continue to mount the ladder. Some of them are cut down by us archers. Others have their armor pierced by the swordsmen waiting for their arrival. Some of them set foot on the top stone but are quickly exiled. I decide it is time to find higher ground to continue shooting while getting eyes on the rest of the siege. I move to the highest point of the way -just over the gate. The West side wall archers are falling. The battering ram is making light work of the outer gate. We are being beaten at 2 out of the 3 points of impact. I begin firing arrows frantically to the west. The door continues to thud just under my feet.
I do not know what will come should the gate collapse. I must get down there and brace for collision. I start down the West side, continuing to fire arrows over the wall. The door continues to pound with every step I take. Just as I start down the stairs to make my way to the front entrance, I hear the most frightening sound of my life.
The door has fallen! “Get your shields up and hold the door,” I exclaim at the top of my voice! A fighter slips through the shields and makes his way straight to me. He can end the battle with a lucky swing of his sword. He swings. I quickly parry and return a strike! I hit right down the outside of his shield. We trade blows for what seems like an eternity. Out from nowhere, a flood of sharp iron forces past me and contacts this young man. The reserve force I had placed in the castle heard the gate fall and responded. They quite possibly saved my life.
I lead the reserve force up to the door. We clear out the spill over and link up shields beating back the wave at the gate. Shield wall meets shield wall. We replace the gate with our shields. Pikes slice over the top of our shields.
We give a last push when I hear Lucon’s voice in the distance yelling, “fall back!” We have done it! I answer his call with an exclamation of my own, “Soldiers! Give them hell!”. It was at that moment I learned something unbelievably valuable.
Every allied troop immediately chased down retreating soldiers. They cut them down with a sort of smile I had never seen before. They were happy that we were keeping our home. I realize, this is not my castle. This is our castle. They want this home just as bad as me. These are not my soldiers. We are a team. They follow me because they want what I want.
This newly found way of thinking has uplifted me as I continue to chase intruders from our land. We cut down the remaining outsiders and look back at our home. We had to come here. Now, we must go find Herena. I once again do not know if I will ever see this castle outside of conflict, but I cannot stay long. I cannot rest here if Herena is out there as a captive rather than here at our home.
We had a great victory here. We had few losses, and a lot of gain. We likely ended the war with the Northern Empire, and we saved our home. Onward to Herena.
We get just one day back on the trail for Herena when a friendly scout finds us. It is one of our Empress, Empress Rhagaea. The scout was sent to inform my army that Lucon has made terms with Rhagaea. The war with the north, is over.
And now we head East.