Tuesday 12 April 2005

Alcuran War of Succession

Diplomatic Groundwork:

Following the assassination of his half-brother, Gianbhar is crowned relatively quickly as Viscount Lecaha. His only nod towards Ankheran approval is his wait for the arrival of the Lord Deputy to witness the ceremony. He does however await the arrival of the great majority of his Knights.

Anistila, will however remain in Lecaha until her husband’s dominion is safe.

In negotiations in Swan Ertura, Roan received the promise of one hundred men-at-arms with several knights for his use in the Alcuran War of Succession.
In return he will promise a similar force for Ertura’s use, for a similar length of time. These negotiations also mention the possibility of marriage between the issue of Roan’s marriage and one of Ertura’s grandchildren.

A visit to Roan’s Warder, Baron Silhar, proves to be less profitable; apparently there’s a royal injunction against the export or private use abroad of Fontarbrian armour, and that this is taken very seriously (Baron Silhar, who had previously been the heir to the County of Tucinate, did not even bring his suit to Kalmar with him). However he promises to send a banner of household men-at-arms under the command of his Marshal’s son.

Over the following six months, Roan arranges a torturously diplomatic meeting between himself, Viscount Lecaha, Baron Pacose and Duke Ertura.
After much wheeling and dealing the parties agree on a truce between them, lasting until a year after Roan gains the throne in Alcura. Roan is forced to agree that if the treaty is breached he will aid the wronged party militarily.

Roan’s visit to Princess Mictila Matora is very pleasant, but unfortunately the Princess makes clear the military pressure she and her allies in the Barony of Kanole and Marquisate of Rempathar are under at present. With the strong naval blockade by the Viscount of Sothara, she cannot even promise any naval assets or safe passage home from there.

After almost a year of diplomacy, Roan decided that his allies are probably as committed as their ever going to be, and any further time spent will result in backsliding and the usurper gaining a definite upper hand in the war in Alcura.

Quickly he makes his way to an audience with the Queen of Histra.
She confirms her belief that he is the rightful heir to the Barony, and that any attempt to usurp his lawful accession to the throne will be taken very seriously. She reminds Roan that his father took his responsibility to the Kingdom very seriously, helping it become economically and militarily powerful, as well as being one of the key founding members of the Histran Court. She expects that her nephew (that is to say Roan) will live up to his responsibilities. Before he leaves she does invite him to pledge allegiance to her and all her heirs as Baron Alcura, suggesting that his crowning is a mere technicality. Roan does so.

At court some representative of the Barony of Falve are also present (this is the family of Wodarn’s second wife). They view their position as being precarious, as their position in Alcura was based entirely upon Wodarn’s patronage. And if Roan has no rights to the succession, then neither do they. The Ambassador there, a Votlira Taralciar suggests that while his Baron is often at war with the Viscounty of Sothara, he will approach the Falvean Admiral about the possibility of military aid, at the very least shielding Roan’s operations from Rienean interference.

Negotiations also take place there with the Duke of Murdesa on military aid for Roan’s claim. However, this man seems unwilling to take any guidance from Roan, and views his prime responsibility as that of keeping the Kingdom safe. He will only take action when it would be necessary to stop the conflict from spilling over, or affecting the Kingdom’s and Queen’s reputation. He advises Roan to act now and with the allies he has assembled in order to prevent any royal expedition being necessary.

Into Alcura

Roan makes contact with Knights known to be loyal to him inside Alcura, musters his allies and marches into Alcura.

His Knights
Supporters for Roan come from several different constituents.
There are those who were put into power by his father, and these are relatively new Knightly families. They certainly stand to lose if the usurper gains the throne.
Quite a few have family connections with the Duchy of Murdesa, either through Wodarn Alcura’s marriage to the now Queen’s sister or through older links across the border.
A few feel that Wodarn’s construction of the Royal Road has significantly benefited them.

The Usurper
The usurper, calling himself Dratapn Alcura, has moved slowly in consolidating his power. Only around the capital, Alcus, has he made any systematic attempt to impose his will upon the country. Elsewhere he has simply awaited one of Roan’s loyal Knights to disobey one of his edicts before marching to subdue that shire.

The FamilyWhile Roan is the only person in the family who has a direct link to the Murdesan line; his younger siblings are all linked to the Barony of Falve. These were generally given respectable posts in the Barony of Alcura, either being appointed to notable positions, or married into venerable knightly families. The fourth was married abroad into the Barony of Albera.

Some of them have not fared too well. Risiel Ralcura, the young Steward of Alcus Castle and wife to Sir Hadraden Teranos, was imprisoned following the coup. Narlos Ralcura, Wodarn’s squire was killed in the fighting following the Baron’s assassination. Senaol Ralcura, has fared somewhat better, as sheriff of a northern shire he has been quite active in opposing Dratapn.

The Alcuran War of Succession

First Skirmishes
Roan’s army comprising Erturans and Lecahans is just over two hundred strong, and being quite experience in border warfare, sieges and pitched battle, does quite well in the first engagements of the war.

Roan’s strategy follows his experience in Otgaidar, and he undertakes a steady advance towards Brogadac, an important inland city, with two supporting columns marching through the shires. These ensure the security of loyal Knights, mustering about half of their men-at-arms into the army. They ensure the loyalty of wavering or previously undecided Knights, mustering most of their men-at-arms as well as the knight into the army, and leaving a mixed garrison of about five loyal and five unproved men-at-arms in the keep. They neutralise enemy Knights, by defeating their men-at-arms in initial skirmishing or by besieging their keep. These defeated Knights are imprisoned or forced to swear allegiance to Roan as Baron Alcura, and wards are taken into the households of proven Knights.

Battle of BrogadacAt Brogadac, Roan discovers a large opposing army besieging that city. Roan’s army stands at about three hundred at this stage, and Brogadac’s garrison seems to be about forty men-at-arms and about twenty city watch.
Their arrival sparks huge confusion in the besieging army, who have just made a breach in the walls. Part of the army decides to assault the breach, part of it decides to defend against this new attack, and a small part runs for the hills.
Needless to say Roan decides to attack immediately and this results in a great rout of the usurper’s army. About a third of it is killed, a third captured and a third escapes.

Sir Hadraden Teranos is in command of the garrison; he has been the Castellan there for about three years. He is a keen young knight, in his late teens, who is eager to get to Alcus as quickly as possible.

With the opposition in disarray, and in no condition to oppose his continued campaign, Roan decides to continue on his march to the sea, and heads towards Vandaral.

The twenty mounted men-at-arms promised by Baron Silhar arrive at this stage, and this further proof of Roan’s diplomatic backing and military power convinces many of the captured Knights to swear allegiance to Roan.

The Fortress of Kararil
News reaches Roan from the south of the Barony, that Rienean forces have taken the fortress port of Kararil. Riene have long coveted the twin to their fortress port of Hadaril across the bay; and have seized upon the chaotic situation of the civil war to take control of it. This is the first time in two hundred years that one of the Baronies has controlled both cities.

Battle of Sereasal
While on the march to Vandaral, word reaches Roan that a significant force has moved out of Alcus and is reported to be heading eastwards towards the Murdesan border. Fearing that they intend to undo his campaigning by taking back each of the Keeps, Roan decides to attempt to intercept. Leaving behind his baggage train and moving swiftly and lightly, Roan’s army intercepts the usurpers at Sereasal, as they move through the pass. Silhar’s mounted men-at-arms prove decisive in catching the enemy on the move, as they had been very active in seizing outriders and scouts. The misty Alcuran weather further helped surprise the enemy, as each battalion was defeated in detail as they exited the pass. With the danger of losing command in the conditions, Roan gave the order that no quarter was to be given, but that he would compensate each man-at-arms for ransom lost. Eighty two enemy men-at-arms were slain.

With what must be a large part of the usurpers remaining forces destroyed, Roan decides to march on Alcus, before news of the great victory at Sereasal reaches the city.

The Final Battle
Reaching Alcus, Roan prepares to besiege the town. However he has no fleet under his command, and he does not have the numbers to completely surround the city. As he prepares to send half of the army out campaigning to subdue the rest of the Barony, he receives an emissary from the usurper.

The proposal is quite simple. That the two men fight in single combat, adjudged by a Priest of Javarus, and that as neither man has an heir, they will be bound by the result. Roan, hungry for victory and sure of his skill, quickly agrees.

The common field half a mile from the walls of Alcus is chosen as the scene for the combat. The flattest and driest ground is sought out, but the site is no parade square.
Dratapn exits with a small bodyguard of witnesses, Knights all, although they are not in armour. He seems older that Roan figured, probably in his early thirties. It is hard to see his physical attributes with armour on, but his stance and handling of his weapons while arming implies a fair level of skill.

The opponents are similarly attired, both in typical Knights armour; a mail hauberk with plate breastpiece and a typical spangenhelm. Their swords are both very much in the Histran style. Only their shields are different. Roan prefers the long Kalmari kite shield, while Dratapn uses a simple round shield.

After taking their blessing from a Priest of Javarus, and vowing themselves and their followers to uphold the judgement of combat, they engage each other.

Several moments pass while they attempt to gauge the other’s intent and disposition, and as Dratapn obviously intends to make a few tentative passes, Roan steps forward and makes a savage cut to the shoulders. Dratapn steps outside with his forward foot making a counter cut at the head. The blow slides along Roan’s helm, forcing him to retreat to compensate for the physical and psychological loss of balance.

Dratapn follows up swiftly with a downward cut to the crown, but Roan raises his shield and deflects the attack. Making a quick flurry of cuts at Dratapn’s upper body and lower leg, Roan forces his opponent to put his shield to good use, trusting in a slow steady advance behind the shield to keep the initiative. Dratapn catches this approach flat footed when his uses his sword to slap Roan’s attack away and swings his shield horizontally at Roan’s face. Roan’s helm has no nasal guard and his nose is broken with a sickening crunch.

Losing his footing after such a fierce blow, Roan slips onto the ground on top of his shield, feeling his elbow wrench out of his socket as the stout leather straps holding the shield to his arm prove their quality. Although screaming in agony Roan keeps his senses about him, parrying the killing blow to his left shoulder with his sword. Edge on edge Roan’s sword is chipped, but Dratapn’s sword shatters a foot below the point. Straining with all his remaining will and courage Roan thrusts hard and low into Dratapn’s belly, screeching through the plate.

Roan is crowned several months later with the Queen of Histra and many magnates of the Kingdom present. His wife arrives with her brother in escort to be crowned as Baroness.

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