Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Part Six; On a winters day...

December 17th. 1409.

Act I.
Scene I. On a snow covered hill top.

Howling wind. Enter VON LÜNEBERG, VON NATHUSIUS and two SOLDIERS in armour, muffled against the cold

Von Lüneberg. What a filthy weather is this? Sooth but it freezes the marrow in my bones!
Von Nathusius. An tis but December. My discomfort swells in this chill breeze...
Von Lüneberg. Worthy Justus. Take pride and find warmth in your duty to the Fatherland.
Von Nathusius. Tis not my pride that diminishes in this foul tempest Noble Brother
Von Lüneberg. No indeed... [PAUSES TO STARE INTO THE DISTANCE]
Von Nathusius. What do you spy?
Von Lüneberg. Methinks I see a rider upon yonder snowy road
Von Nathusius. There is a road? In all this bleak wilderness I see but those hovels and trees before me
Von Lüneberg. Look you beyond that rude abode. There is a rider on the road
First Soldier. My Lord I spy two riders.
Von Lüneberg. Two riders? I say! What business is this on a dirty day in Skalvia?
Second Soldier. I can’t see them. Where away?
Von Nathusius. I spy them now!
First Soldier. There are soldiers with them, marching behind.
Von Lüneberg. How many can you count?
First Soldier. Ten or more My Lord. They wear red across their armour.
Von Nathusius. But this man has a good set of eyes!
Second Soldier. I still can’t see them.
Von Lüneberg. What soldiers are these? Death of my Soul if the Poles are running amuck whilst our men sleep in their warmth of their cots, an’ we few stout hearted Germans, duty bound by our honour, love and obeidience, must do away with these dark faced mutineers!
Von Nathusius. Amazing!
Second Soldier. Is that them over there?
Von Lüneberg. Can you make out their insignia by chance?
First Soldier. A yellow mark upon a blue shield
Von Nathusius. But the man is a miracle!
Von Lüneberg. What say you Justus, is it not the badge of the Lithuanian?
First Soldier. They are holding forth at the hamlet below
Second Soldier. Now I see them also. That is Vaclav of Stentzin and his men
Von Lüneberg. Be it so? Tis said he is a mad dog
Von Nathusius. Some say he is mad, others that lesser hate him do call it a valiant fury, but for certain, he cannot unbuckle his distempered cause.
First Soldier. Now I see another group on the farther road
Von Nathusius. Yet another road?
Von Lüneberg. Be it distempered or no, his cause will meet with a scant reward once I drew my sword this day!
Second Soldier. For this will bring a heat to our bones! What’s your gracious pleasure Sire?
Von Lüneberg. Let the Devil damn this Polak’s heart!
Von Nathusius. Lithuanian...
Von Lüneberg. Let the Devil damn this Lithuanian’s heart! I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hacked!
First Soldier. I shall rouse the men! [HURRIES AWAY]
Second Soldier. I must attend the call of nature before we advance to war. [HURRIES AWAY]
Von Nathusius. But who are these others which ride up the road?
Von Lüneberg. I know it not, but I fancy they bear blue shields.
Von Nathusius. Curse this wind which waters my eyes. Infected be the air upon which visions lurk.
Von Lüneberg. Vaclav must be meeting with some one. I spy the shag-haired villain himself now. He stands there by yonder hut.
Von Nathusius. He looks ill at ease. See how he casts this way and that, seeking a witness who will uncover his treacherous depravity.
Von Lüneberg. These Poles, they know not the tempered love of Christ and Germany. We shall kill them all or rue the day.
Von Nathusius. [PAUSES] ...Lithuanians My Lord Brother.
Von Lüneberg. A horrible sight!
Von Nathusius. I think the men are rousing now.
Von Lüneberg. The service and loyalty I owe, in deed, it pays itself.
Von Nathusius. Did you not yourself tell me an hour since that you have relinquished your oath to the Grand Master?
Von Lüneberg. Not so, valued Sergeant! My honour remains intact, for I swore my oath before Christ, to the Order, not to those who abase it!
Von Nathusius. A worthy distinction upon my soul.
Second Soldier. [RETURNS] I’m done.
Von Nathusius. Are the men ready?
Von Lüneberg. The sin of his ingratitude even now weighs heavy upon me. What other course to lay is mine? The needs of the Order must be supreme over the needs of the man, no matter his station.
Von Nathusius. I think the men are ready
Second Soldier. I am.



This game was different from previous games in several ways. First it began with a short 'thespian intro', Oleg playing the part of von Lüneberg and Palle the part of Von Nathusius, whilst I took First Soldier and my brother Peter debuted as a DSB player by taking the role of Second Soldier. Goeg was present but was eventually forced to sit out the game due to illness, other wise we would have had five players.

There was no map at all, the players taking turns to place terrain features on to the table top, once a faint snow clad road had been drawn running length wise across the table (which was smaller than usual due to the snow terrain slowing the elements to a crawl).

Once the terrain had been established, the players rolled to determine who would play which
force. Peter rolled for von Lüneberg and Oleg was his second in command. Goeg rolled for the local Prussians, Palle rolled for Vaclav of Stentzin and I rolled for Radu Puşcaş of Dâmboviţa.

A; von Lüneberg. B; von Nathusius. C; Vaclav. D; Radu Puşcaş.

We set up standing forces and the game began with the Teuton's trudging along the road and fanning out to attack the Lithuanians, and Muntenians who were centered in and around the
largest buildings in the centre of the table. The Eastern Europeans had been meeting, and were engaged in some kind of trade, but both were heavily escorted and the Lithuanians were guarding every approach.

Von Lüneberg took the road, moving the bulk of his force in a turgid column whilst Von Nathusius moved to cover his eastern flank. The Germans were not happy about the Lithuanian skirmishers and Muntenian archers but they pressed on, weathering the constant barrage of missiles and returning fire with some accuracy. The soldiers of the Ordenstaat were better armoured and carried effective crossbows and this told. They whittled down their foes as they moved slowly southward, though some of the forward Lithuanians on the western flank held their own slowing the German advance and keeping the fight managable.

Peter's first game.

The Muntenian commander, Radu Puşcaş was seated upon his horse through the battle, and beside him was another mounted Muntenian, clad in bright clothing and bearing a crossbow (he also had a lyre on his horse's harness). This second rider attempted to ride into the skirmish on the eastern flank, but was brought down by a Teuton crossbow bolt to the head. He died instantly. The Muntenians who were trying to hold the eastern flank were also suffering terribe losses, but as things began to look hopeless, some local Prussians arrived and took the side of the Lithuanians. These were Goeg's elements, but by this time he had left and so the dice decided the local Prussians loyalties. I won the toss so the locals became a relief force for the eastern flank.

The arrival of the Prussian locals meant the defeat of von Nathusius, though being a named character required for another game, he was allowed to survive to fight another day without a damage roll, for this time.


The end result was a marginal win for the Teutons, who were in better condition by the end of the game, with more elements in some semblence of order, despite the loss of their secondary commander. The Lithuanians eventually retreated into the countryside, Radu Puşcaş and his remaining men fleeing along side them. The Teuton's arrested the surviving locals and put them in chains and began to drag them back to Memel...



Von Lüneberg and his men trudge from the burning ruins of the peasant farm and return along th the road. After a few hours the weary soldiers and their prisoners come to a crossroads. Wrapped against the cold wind, von Nathusius has walked with help from his men, but his condition has begun to deteriate and von Lüneberg calls a halt to the column as he regards the silent snow covered roads which radiate off into the gathering darkness.
"I am exhaused" von Nathusius grumbles.
"Your head does not look good" von Lüneberg replies. "I wish we had some shelter so you might recover your strength".
He turns to a nearby man-at-arms.
"Heinz, go and fetch one of those treacherous locals".
"What are you thinking?" von
Nathusius asks.
"Memel is still half a days walk at this pace. You will never make it. We should have stopped at the farm but for the
risk of that dog Vaclav returning and surprising us".
The man-at-arms returns dragging a shivering bare headed man.
"What is your name, you!?" von Lüneberg shouts at the terrified man.
"Gutenberg My Lord" the man replies.
"What? Art thou a German?"
The man nods miserably
"But then why did you take up arms with the Poles against us?" von Lüneberg asks in wonderment. The man merely shakes his head and mutters something to himself. He points back down the line and the Brother Knight understands the man is blaming one of his fellow rebels.
"Well, be that as it may. Now is your chance to find some small redemption"
The man glances up, and despite his shivering there is a spark of hope in his eyes that almost moves von Lüneberg to pity him.
"We need to find a place to shelter. The wounded cannot be expected to walk to Memel in these conditions."
Even as von Lüneberg speaks, the snow falls heavier than ever and the man nods enthusiastically. He points.
"That way there is an inn not more than a short way"
"An inn?" von Lüneberg frowns. "A German inn?"
The man nods eagerly, hugging his thin arms to his shivering chest. Von Lüneberg nods to himself then motions for the man-at-arms to drag the prisoner away again.
"It sounds promising" von Nathusius says. Von Lüneberg agrees and soon the column makes its way southards. It takes an hour to reach the inn, but eventually the soldiers see a dim light up ahead. A moment or two later there is another and then a row of windows.
"Finally" von Nathusius groans as the group stops before the facade of the inn. He looks up and reads the lettering which is half obscured by the driven snow. "The Merry Widow"
"Lets hope she is" the soldier beside him mutters.

Von Lüneberg and his men do not stand on ceremony but kick in the door and enter the inn with drawn weapons.
Within they find several people with shocked faces huddled around a fire place.
"Who... who are you?" a fat man in aleather apron asks
"Are you the inn keep?" The Knight replies.
"Yes... Yes I am Albrecht Bauer, are you guests or bandits?"
"I am the District Provost and I am requisitioning this inn under the authority of the Ordenstaat!"
"But you can't..." Bauer's voice whispers as he watches the long line of heavily armed soldiers entering the building.
"Albrecht! Whats going on?" a woman cries as she enters from a backroom.
"Madam." Von Lüneberg holds up a commanding finger. "Calm yourself. We merely require food and shelter for the night". He removes his sopping wet cloak and kicks the snow from his feet.
"Verily" the woman agrees readily as she sees the stark black cross on his chest. "We have plenty of room My Lord. Albrecht! Prepare our finest room for his Lordship at once!"
Starting in surprise at his wife's tone, the Inn keeper shuffles up a flight of stairs and disapears above. Von Lüneberg glances about the room at the civilians who make way before him. He warms his hands at the hearth and looks into their eyes.
"Have you ever known such a winter?" he shakes his head.
One man, gratefully replies, "No My Lord".
There is visible relief at this District Provost's tone, and the room is suddenly filled with voices as people begin to relax again. Most of the Teutonic soldier's disperse to other parts of the building, to find a dry place to sleep whilst the inn keepers wife busies herself in the kitchen. Von Nathusius finds a chair and pulls it to beside his brother knight. He warms his hands at the fire, then leans back in grateful repose. Von Lüneberg has produced an object wrapped in cloth
"What do you have there?".
"I'm not sure. I picked it off the Poles's mules."
"I think they were foreigners"
Von Luneberg shrugs. The package is tied with wet leather string and his fingers are still numb with cold. He draws a poniard and slits the package open. Within is a book of dull metal, its cover wrought in finely worked gold and a locked clasp holding it shut.
"Well, well" von Lüneberg mutters. "What is this now?"
"Can you open it?" von Nathusius asks.
"It is locked, but I'll wager I can break into it easily enough.
Von Nathusius shakes his head slightly. "It would be a pity to break such a fine book"
Von Lüneberg considers this for a moment but then shrugs and passes the book to a nearby soldier.
"Open this."
"Yessir!" the soldier produces an axe and with a single blow severs the lock from the cover.
Von Nathusius murmurs
"Yes, Hans is a dab hand with his axe!" Von Lüneberg smiles happily, "And look, the damage is minimal".
Ale is brought and the two men sip greatfully, then von Lüneberg places the book on his lap and opens the cover. The first page is blank but for a few strange scribbles in some alien writing. Frowning von Lüneberg turns the page, and then the next.
"What is this?" he wonders. "Moorish?"
"It is Greek"
Von Nathusius replies in a dull voice.
"Can you read it?"



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