The Siege of Shwarzenbruin
The siege of Shwarzenbruin was a conflict (it sure as shit was)
"Our knights gave battle splendidly, each felling a dozen rebels or more. That day I learned anarchy could never triumph, and the posterity of the law would reign eternal."
-Jericho Man at Arms
The First Day
The Blades Paramount had a keen intelligence network that tipped General Cain Racar off to the fact that Kairihenens would soon be arriving at the gates of Schwarzenbruin to take stewardship of the city. Cain, recognizing that this would be a grave expansion of Kairihen’s power and authority in southern Ghillodahn, was loathe to let that happen, unopposed. Cain also knew that much of the city’s poorer population worshipped Pelor and opposed the Raven Queen, making it the perfect grassroots breeding ground for the Blades Paramount’s first large scale military action. With time of the essence, Cain ordered one of his lieutenants in the area, Captain Harlaugh, to gather as many Blades Paramount soldiers as she could while he took a small group of handpicked warriors to reconnoiter the city and make connections. Cain's small band of sell swords, known as the Exemplars, were already well-known for accompanying Cain on many other important and dangerous missions against Kairihen. Their identities are recorded as Sur Coteaz Stern the Cleric, Snorri Snorrison the Dwarf, and the bonded rangers Pavel and Anton.
Upon arrival, they quickly found allies in the city. Some two hundred Blades Paramount soldiers lead by Lady Harlaugh arrived at the city and as predicted many of the citizens were fully supportive of their cause. Though they could not fight, they offered support in any other way that they could. A sizable contingent of Faithful Folk led by Cleric Tullit was also already in the city preparing to defend it. They needed no persuasion to rally with Cain in the face of Kairhenan oppression. The third ally, and arguably the most important, was Favian Three-Fingers. Favian was one of the city’s guard captains and a renowned swordsaint. He and Cain were already acquainted, having met during the SaltCell Jailbreak that first thrust Cain down his path of rebellion. Favian’s imprisonment had done little to make him fond of Kairihen, and with a little convincing from Cain he and his men pledged their support to his cause. Unfortunately, the Lord of the city, Hollister Pennrose, was a staunch supporter of Kairihen and refused to renege his support of the coming takeover.
The Second Day
The Kairihenens, lead by Cain’s nemesis Byron Sussunex arrived the next day by sea. Eight ships laden with troops dropped anchor off Schwarzenbruin’s shore. Blissfully unaware of the opposition they would soon face, the first ship had and fully disembarked when Cain made his move. Eight hundred Kairihenens were milling on the shore unpacking their supplies and preparing for a triumphal parade through the plazas of Schwarzenbruin when two hundred mounted Blades Paramount led by Cain and Lady Harlaugh crested the hill overlooking the sea. Thinking them the city’s reception, the Kairihenens did not realize the nature of the surprise charge until it was entirely too late. The first man to notice what was about to befall them was their commander, Lord Joseth Bartleby, but his shouted commands to wheel his troops into formation were cut short when Cain cleaved him in half at the waist in the opening seconds of contact.
What followed could only be described as total butchery.
Although outnumbered by a factor of four to one, the Blades Paramount had achieved total surprise. Kairihenen troops, though famed for their discipline, were unarmed and only partially armored. They broke in the face of the savage attack and trampled each other in a pell-mell rush to escape the slashing swords of their foes. Kettled in by the Blades with nowhere to run many leapt into the sea in their mad rush to escape but found no respite as they drowned in the tide. The sea itself ran red with Kairihenen blood, and within minutes six hundred corpses lined the beach with only thirty Blades Paramount dead in response. While his men herded the two hundred Kairihenens that had surrendered to execution grounds away from the city gates, Cain sought out the bisected corpse of Joseth Marbrand and severed its head. Carrying it by the hair, Cain strode into the shallows in full view of the horrified Kairihen fleet and Joseth's father, Lord Maynard Bartleby, and cast it to the waves. A gauntlet had been thrown down and in the coming days its tremendous impact would soon be known.
The Calm Before the storm (Days 3, 4, and 5)
Following the massacre on the beaches, Byron Sussunex departed with his remaining men and ships. There was no doubt in Cain’s mind that they would return, but for now the Blades Paramount had bought the city’s defenders invaluable time to prepare. And while the barricades were built and militias were whipped into shape, Cain’s warriors also ripped out a cancer that festered in Schwarzenbruin’s heart as dozens of Kairihenen agents, informants, and provocateurs were put to the sword. Though many would later decry these actions as brutal and dishonorable, the Blades Paramount could not afford to fight an honorable war when the odds were perpetually tipped in their opponent’s favor. The coming days would decide whether the rebellion lived or died and every step was taken to ensure their audacious gamble paid off.
As the days passed Cain also formulated a strategy for the coming battle. He knew that Byron Sussunex’s honor, prestige, and competence would be shattered if he failed to capture a city that was supposedly ready to bend its knee to Kairihen. That the spellsword would come back was an inevitability; however, Cain bet that Byron’s inflated sense of pride would prohibit him from going calling for reinforcements. To do so would also call his competency into question. With knowledge of how many troops they would be up against, Cain also had his more experienced soldiers and Favian Threefingers’s pikemen begin drilling the Begging Brothers in basic discipline and battlefield conduct. A request was also sent to Edison Tollet, the Blades Paramount commander in Jericho, to muster as many men as he could gather and ride to Schwarzenbruin.
While his troops trained and prepared fortifications, Cain attempted to sway Hollister Pennrose to their side and secure his troops for the coming battle. He was unsuccessful. The lord of the city cursed Cain as a criminal, though Cain swore to deal with him once the battle was over.
At dusk on the fifth day Byron returned with his army. Soon the battle would be joined. Spears would shatter, men would die, and the fate of Schwarzenbruin, and indeed Ghillodahn, would be decided. But first, there was a parlay. Accompanied by a guard of Blackbird Banders Byron approached the gates of the city and demanded that Cain stand down and submit to justice. Cain, famously bullheaded, responded by casting a dagger into the dirt inches from Byron and declaring to all who could hear that no dog of Kairihen would set foot past the blade while he drew breath.
As it was on the beaches, the challenge was once again cast. Both parties left each other to marshal their men for the coming battle.
Red Dawn (Day 6, Opening Actions)
When dawn broke both armies marched forth to meet each other on the fields in front of Schwarzenbruin. Byron’s army was resplendent, bedecked in all the finery the noble families of Kairihen could muster. Blackbird Banders paced back and forth on massive ebony chargers, and well drilled groups of soldiers mustered into formation under the watchful eyes of their lords. By contrast, Cain and the Blades Paramount were a ragtag bunch. There was little uniformity among their dress and equipment. Nervous Begging Brothers shuffled and shifted, whispering small prayers to Pelor as Favian’s men barked orders and steeled their nerves. But what they lacked in training and equipment, they made up for in conviction. Unlike their Kairihenen foes, the men under Cain’s command were fighting to protect their homes and they would be damned before they let Byron’s lot run rampant through the streets.
Cain rode out in front of his host, flanked by Coteaz Stern, Snorri Snorrison, and Lady Harlaugh. They knew Kairihenen tactics and were certain that Byron would lead with a charge of his Blackbird Banders. They would counter with a charge of their own cavalry, supported by Lucrezia’s handgunners. As the cavalry and its supporting elements wheeled into formation, the coalition infantry formed into two blocks. Both contained a thousand Begging Brothers, bulwarked by one hundred and fifty of Favian Threefinger’s pikemen. The block on the left was commanded by Favian himself, while Septon Tollet commanded the one on the right.
With the clash of hooves and the thunder of war-horns, the battle began.
Like clockwork, Byron charged forward with his Banders and Cain leapt forth to meet them. When the riders met it almost seemed as if the battle would be decided in that instant as the Blades Paramount cavalry charge collapsed almost immediately (Sam here, speaking OOC: this was my first major mistake of the battle. I charged light cavalry nearly unsupported into a block of heavy knights. The fact that I rolled like a 3 vs an 18 on the opposed roll-off didn’t fucking help either). While they were brave soldiers, the Blades Paramount were heavily outnumbered and the much better equipped Banders cut through their ranks like a knife through butter. A few were felled here and there, but for the most part their black-armoured ranks emerged unscathed. By contrast, only a dozen Blades including Cain and Coteaz yet lived. In the bloody tangle that was left in the wake of the opening skirmish lay the mangled corpses of Snorri and Lady Harlaugh. It was a disastrous note to start the battle on, and one that only got worse as the Banders shifted their charge to Lucrezia’s now unsupported handgunners, though few who witnessed what transpired next would deny the glory of that doomed regiment. Coolly they formed ranks as the Banders closed, taking careful aim with their devastatingly powerful rifles. A volley rang out and dozens of Banders tumbled, their breastplates shattered or their mounts dying hideously as shots ripped through their bodies. With practiced grace they reloaded, reformed, and fired again. More Banders fell, but now they were nearly on the gunners. Where lesser troops would’ve broke and run in the face of such a charge, Lucrezia’s gunners merely loosed a final volley, felling a dozen more of the Raven Queen’s chosen before dropping their rifles and drawing pistols and swords. To a man they fought, and to a man they died. Their sacrifice was not in vain, for of the six hundred Banders that had entered the battle only four hundred and forty now remained.
As they watched this happen, morale dropped like a stone amongst the Blades Paramount coalition. Only the timely return of Cain, Coteaz, and the few remaining riders who had charged back down the middle to rejoin the lines prevented them from losing hope entirely. Buoyed by his presence, the troops rallied forward to meet the Kairihenen infantry. The survivors of the charge accompanied Septon’s block.