Image inspired by an original work by NC Wyeth3rd May. 1409.
Having gathered all the surviving German civilians of Karlshof, and having looted the defeated Lithuanians (including Vladimir's rather expensive horse). Lothar gave orders to evacuate the village after the civilians warned of other Lithuanian war bands roaming the nearby countryside. Lothar realised the longer he stayed in Karlshof the more likely he would be attacked so gathering his booty in a small convoy he headed west for the river Neman.
Sometime around dusk, as the Germans approach a ridge on their way to the river, a solitary figure steps out into the road before them.
"Halt!" the man shouts in German. "Halt in the name of Ulrich von Kunitz!"
Lothar rides to the fore and holds up a mailed hand.
”I am Lothar von Schöenberg, Brother Knight of the Ordenstaat and bound for Memel.”
The figure in the road approaches cautiously, a loaded arbalest in his hands. ”Who do you travel with?” he asks.
”My men and some Germans fleeing the treachery of Vytautas”
Another figure approaches from the gloom. Others can be glimpsed along the ridge, barely visible against the backdrop of dark trees.
”I am Ulrich von Kunitz” the second man says in a deep imposing voice. ”I too am headed for Memel and Germans from Samogitia travel with me. You are welcome to join our camp”
Lothar considers the offer. Time is of the essence, but his retinue is already weary from the forced pace of the last two days and the German civilians look pinched and miserable. He looks to his Sergeant-at-Arms. ”What say you Otto?”
”We know they are coming after us and we are moving too slow with all this baggage. We need to rest before we are overrun” Bierhoff replies tersely.
”We will rest with these people until dawn then.”
Beyond the ridge is a simple roadside camp, a fire and warm food. Whilst Bierhoff and von Kunitz’s men arrange a perimeter, Lothar sits on a log beside Ulrich.
”I know your name sir. Are you not of the Royal Court?”
”I am, for what thats worth these days”
Lothar frowns as he regards Ulrich. ”Come sir, what do you mean by that?”
Ulrich glances about the camp as if to catch eave droppers, but no one is paying any attention to anything but the hot broth being served.A few are engaged in conversations of their own, none sit close enough to hear what is said above the crackle of the fire.
”King Ruprecht is ill and I do not think he will live much longer. In his illness the King has no interest beyond the court and the throne of the emperor is beyond us. With the current state of affairs, I cannot see any great likelihood of a German ascending the Imperial throne.”
”Samogitia will soon be in open rebellion” Lothar predicts. ”If the king is as weak as you say, can he support the Order?”
Ulrich regards the younger knight with melancholy eyes. ”Probably not, but the Brotherhood has not asked for help so even if the King could help, any aid he might feel able to offer would wait in vain.”
Lothar pauses and says nothing for in his mind the answer forming is unpardonable, his allegiance to the Grand Master is an obligation he cannot allow himself to violate, but in his heart he knows that Ulrich von Jungingen is stubborn and proud. Until now he has defied his innermost feelings but suddenly, seeing the resignation in Ulrich von Kunitz’s eyes, Lothar realises that his faith in the Grand Master is lost and even his faith in the Ordenstaat is precarious. He looks about the fire place, at the German civilians in their mud spattered clothes with gaunt, tired faces and realises that they are symbolic of everything he has sworn to protect. Watching him, Ulrich von Kunitz nods his head wearily.
Otto Bierhoff approaches, stepping carefully over the sleeping bodies huddled about the fire. ”My Lord...”
Lothar looks up and sees the urgency written upon Sergeant-at-Arms face. ”There are men on the last ridge behind us and Jörgen counts at least three horsemen.”
”I will join you” Ulrich von Kunitz says as he rises to his feet.
As the older knight hastens to confer with his men, Lothar grabs Bierhoff's arm.
”Find Gerd Möller and put him on the Russian horse. Tell him to ride for Memel at once!”
”As you wish My Lord”.
All terrain is Rough unless otherwise marked and the road is Good. The camp site is Rough.
The dotted line indicates the ridge
(Ritterbruder of the Teutonic Order)
Otto Bierhoff (Teutonic Sergeant-at-Arms)
4 x Teutonic Infantry
4 x Teutonic Cavalry
5 x German civilians
Baggage wagon wth two oxen
Player Two: OlegUlrich von Kunitz (German Knight of the Court of King Ruprecht III)
6 x German Infantry
6 x German Skirmishers
2 x German civilians with crossbows
5 x German civilians
2 x Mules
Player Three: JanSvarn of Šiaulē (the celebrated first son of a Lithuanian noble)
4 x Lithuanian Cavalry
7 x Lithuanians Skirmishers
7 x Lithuanian Archers
Player Four: GoegVaclav of Stentzin (the fifth son of a minor Lithuanian noble)
Vladimir Rus (Russian Knight/adventurer of dubious reputation)
6 x Lithuanian Infantry
8 x Lithuanian Light Cavalry/Turcopoles
Players One and Two start to the west, and along the ridge in prepared positions. All civilians begin within 6 inches of the campfire.
Players Three and Four begin within six inches of the estern edge of the table.
Either side wins by defeating both generals, or two thirds of the opposing force. If neither side has won by the end of the game, the DM considers the situation from a role playing perspective.
The game takes place during the night, but there is a quarter moon so visibility is reduced to 24 inches and command range is reduced to 12 inches.
All players may pass movement pips to their partners.
The Lithuanian Turcopoles are extremely skilled and can fire on a target any where within 360' degrees.
Both Vaclav of Stentzin and Vladimir Rus were wounded in the last game and Vladimir Rus suffers a penalty as a result; in this game he is classed as ordinary.
This game was played on Thursday 11th February. 2010.
Angered by their defeat at Karlshof, Vaclaf of Stentzin and Vladimir Rus sought the help of another marauding Lithuanian noble; the dreaded Svarn of Šiaulē. Celebrated by his people as a hero, Svarn is a ruthless young man dedicated to restoring Lithuanian power at the expense of Germans. He readily agreed to track down and kill Lothar and his retinue. Filled with eagerness then, the Lithuanians mounted up and followed the fleeing Germans with all haste.
Catching up with them after night fell, the Lithuanians entered the game table from the east, converging at the junction with their mounted troops and making no attempt to conceal themselves.
The Germans having been made aware of the Lithuanian approach had decided on a cunning plan which would lure the Lithuanians into the forest where traps and ambushes were waiting whilst all the heavier German elements were concealed behind the northern hillock awaiting the Lithuanian attack. The Lithuanians however did not attack. Instead, they used the cover of darkness to move their lighter troops into the open ground where they set up a loose line of archers and soldiers, hoping to provoke the Germans into emerging from the forest. For a long time, nothing much happened. Beyond the ridge, the German civilians were busily engaged in creating a subterfuge but most of the rest of the Germans remained under cover. Only a few brave Germans crept out into the darkness, penetrating the Lithuanian line and scouting the terrain.
Eventually the foremost Lithuanians crept into the forest where they soon discovered small groups of Germans crouching behind bushes and trees. One Lithuanian in particular, by the name of Biatuslaf the Bold, managed to pass over the reach and in doing so, discovered the German cavalry, including both the German knights. Unfortunately Biatuslaf was so far forward that he could not get word back to his companions. This was remedied when the Lithuanian Archers spotted the German knights (Lothar's white surcoat and big white crest being difficult to conceal in the dark). The word was sent back and the Lithuanians charged. Svarn, Vaclaf and Vladimir Rus charged up the road with the Lithuanian cavalry whilst the Lithuanian light horses rode to either side to provide cover.
The big Lithuanian idea was apparently nipped in the bud however, when the Germans also charged, though what looked like it might develop into a headlong smash turned out to be a feint and the Germans quickly turned and fled back into the forest. Ignoring this obvious ploy, the Lithuanians carried on down the road with the idea of passing right through the German positions and coming up from the rear, unfortunately at this point we ran out of time, so the game was concluded with the Lithuanians ignoring several more viable options and turning into the forest in order to force a satisfactory conclusion. Svarn, Vladimiar and two Lithuanian cavalry charged into Lothar and a line of spear men but were all but obliterated, Vladimir Rus being bodily impaled on a Teutonic spear. Only Svarn of Šiaulē survived the initial charge, meeting Lothar in a brief series of blows which left neither knight at a disadvantage.
All around them the forest was in mayhem as the ordered ranks dissolved into a squabbling meleé, so the two knights were forced to turn their attentions else where. Svarn eventually withdrew from the chaos with most of his forces intact. Lothar and Ulrich carried the day but at a heavy cost.
Neither side defeated two thirds of the other, and all four commanding elements survived the game. Palle and Oleg won because they'd defeated several of the Lithuanian elements, where as the Lithuanians hadn't managed to defeat a single German element.
Battered and weary, but still alive, the remaining Germans withdraw back across the River Neman and make their slow way to the coast and to Memel where Lothar is admitted to the chambers of the Komtur, Albrecht von Oldenburg.
"Ah, my dear Brother Lothar!" the squat muscular von Oldenburg exclaims as he peers from his ledgers. "How good it is to see you hale! I take it you dealt with the Lithuanian rebels that kept you on the road?"
"I am afraid not" von Schöenberg replies, "though truth be told, we did put a great many to the sword."
Von Oldenburg is an older man, heavier than Lothar but slowly losing his strength with the passage of time. With his great black beard now greying and the lines about his face deepening, his appearance is more of statesman than a soldier, and yet he wears his armour and resting across his thighs is a mighty broadsword.
"I welcome your news" he says bluntly. This unreliable peace was always a bastard child of chance, forced upon us by outsiders. We were always going to see rebellion sooner or later. Vytautas will never rest easily under the Ordenstaat. It will be good to bring the sword to bear again."
Lothar agrees with regards to Vytautas, but watching the Komtur's eagerness he realises that there is more to the older Knight's sanguine nature than a wish to deal with Vytautas. In von Oldenburg's face, Lothar sees the animated greed of an old man grasping for youth. He says nothing however. Tradition and respect are utmost in his mind, though his conscience struggles with his misgivings.
"War will see a great many Germans killed in Samogitia" he says in as neutral a voice as possible. The older man's lack of interest shows his tact to have been in vain.
"Indeed, Christians on both sides" he adds.
The Komtur regards him.
"It cannot be helped" he replies and his voice conveys a degree of sadness which briefly confuses Lothar. "The Lord God will protect the righteous however!"
"As you say My Lord. Tell me, did a man I sent ahead reach you?"
"His name was Gerd Möller..."
"Ah yes. The one who saw the Lithuanians mustering forces. Yes he made it here. I was very happy to hear from him. I sent him on to Marienburg at once. The Brethren will be most interested to hear what he has to say. Well done."
Several days later, Lothar sits in contemplation when he becomes aware of a distant voice, He lifts his head to see his younger brother Maximilian entering the chapel. At his side walks Albrecht Mansfeld who is trusted by both. All three embrace.
"Brother, I heard you were set upon by Rebels!" Maximilian exclaims, his eyes searching Lothar for visible evidence of combat.
I was but never mind. It was Gods will that I should survive, even though many did not. How are you both? What brings you here?"
"The Grand Komtur sent us to you. We are to assist you in your new task"
"What new task?"
Maximilian grins and produces a small roll of paper tied and sealed with a ribbon and the crest of the Ordenstaat.