Not Yet Lost (Chapter VIII): Heart and Stomach

Author: Malafides
Published: 2017-03-01, edited: 2018-01-24

Part of the campaign:

Not Yet Lost (1320 - 1392)

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Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost (Chapter VII): Penitence

Images: 32, author: Malafides, published: 2017-02-01, edited: 2018-01-24

God will forgive me for the bloodshed. With the Lord locked up in Heaven, I must do His work on Earth. No flock is incorruptible. From time to time, the wolves must cull the unworthy sheep. Only the mighty will be left behind, and they shall be called the righteous. Christ delivered the world unto the meek, but His Father knew better.

My mother was named Judith. Wherever she may be, I can feel her namesake within me now. When Babylon invaded the Holy Land, the people of Israel were too fearful to resist. She alone had the will to survive. Judith strode right into the camp of Babylon's indulgent General Holofernes. She plyed him with sweet wine and sweet words. Then she scattered Babylon's armies and carried his head back to her people.

The nobles may squirm beneath the blade, but I can't let a little mess get in the way of doing what's right.
Any King is happy to have an heir and spare, but I've been praying for daughter. God rewards me for my service.
I'm just as bound to the laws of man as I am to the will of God. King Karijotas is a new ally, and he tests our alliance with a joint war against the Teutons. They have claims on Kurland, we have claims on Galindia -- it's a match made in Heaven.
The Lithuanian army crosses the Sventoji River to strike the Teutons. The river's name means "the Holy One" -- and with Lithuania's patchwork religious history, it's still a big deal. Karijotas has a slim advantage in numbers, but crossing the river could turn a huge moral victory into a huge embarrassment.
Poland's cavalry rides in to save the day. As usual.

It's just as well. The Order is a nation of warriors. I'm sure they'll appreciate the lesson I'm about to teach them.
The morning of November 3rd, our knights meet the enemy. The Holy River runs red by nightfall.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I won't give them the opportunity.
With the armies in the East, evil rears its head back home. The Wheel of Piast has too many weak and rotting spokes. Milobrat is just one more to remove.
The Pokutniki investigate the traitor. He won't go unpunished for long.
King Phil installed Pope Benedictus XI for his Frenchness and for his youth, but he dies after a handful of years. Benny was wounded in the battle for Rome, and the wounds became aggravated and infected. His supporters tried to cover it up, but they couldn't fool death.

Benny was not a popular Pope. The Italian Cardinals called him "Il Supino," chafing under some petty general installed by a foreign King. The smoke rose only a few days after his death, and they unanimously elected one of their own. Sergius V is an ugly idiot, but he's pliable and he's a true believer. Let's see how that works out for him. It's easy to be the opposition. Governing effectively? Now that's the tricky part.
After months of vacancy, the young Jakub Krakowicz becomes Archbishop of Lesser Poland. His brilliant mind escaped the shackles of poverty and flourished in the Church. For his own sake, I hope he knows better than to follow in his predecessor's footsteps.
Meanwhile, our combined armies hunker down to stake our claims throughout the long winter.
Milobrat gathers his cohort in the shelter of a Silesian count. My Penitents sniff out his treachery. Soon, his shelter shall turn him out into the cold.
But the traitor's host is just as corrupt as his guest. Milobrat is denounced and humiliated, but the Count refuses to turn him over to my judgment. His time will come.
The Teutons rally and trap the Lithuanians in Semigallia. I'll have to abandon the siege in Prussia to save their asses again.

It's not easy being the master of Eastern Europe.
Karijotas is no great general, but he's a crafty motherfucker. He escapes into Vilnius as Polish knights sweep the Teutons into the sea.
It started as a joke.

Dobie and I were having a bit of wine and discussing how to deal with The Brat. And I'll admit -- we crossed the line from tipsy to drunk. We made up this story about Milobrat having a torrid love affair with a young goat named Malina. We couldn't stop cracking up. We went on and on about how she was sold to a farmer in Silesia and he moved there to be with her, how he dressed her up in gaudy gowns and jewelry, how he discovered her with a goat lover, then slaughtered him and ate him for supper.

At some point we realized it was time to call it a night, but we spread the story by morning. People will believe anything if they want to believe it. I doubt it will be taken seriously enough to hang him for it, but I want to humiliate him first.
My 30th birthday passes by. I may be sick today, but I have never felt stronger. My age shows little, yet it's clear to all that I am no helpless maid. They call me Jadwiga Szeptucha, or "Hedwig the Whisperer" -- for my spies whisper to me, and I whisper to God.
I finally discover solid evidence of his plotting to seize the throne. His conspiracy has already soured his relationship with his liege. The Count offers no resistance as my Penitents come to take him.
The Brat manages to slip away and goes into hiding as he plots his next move.
Croatia continues to crumble under the Regency. Nature abhors a vacuum, and Domenico Ziani is happy to fill it.
My plots complicate further South with the death of the Byzantine Emperor.
The new boss is a Palaiologos with roots in Italy, where some of his family took refuge when the Varselonikoi took power. Born Orlando, he starts calling himself Emperor Michael IX, named for the founder of his dynasty, before things went haywire.

I know a good schemer when I see one, but "Michael" will have to bring his A-game if he wants to beat me. I've got another horse in the race -- the old Emperor's young son, still in his minority. My sister Eufrozyna is still engaged to him, and I don't want to lose my investment.
After years of occupation, the defenders of Angerburg surrender to our forces. This long war is nearly over.
To celebrate, I send an assassin to take care of The Brat once and for all. I'd love to drag him in front of my Penitents, but at this point, I just want to get him out of my hair.

And yes, my hair is long and luscious. I have decided to wear it down now. Thank you for noticing.
I hate this guy.
The Brat gets tired of living in a state of constant terror and finally raises his troops against me.

Unfortunately, he poses a bigger problem than I'd like to admit. His troops are green but numerous, and my noble knights are weary from the battle in the North. Worse still, I lack the funds to raise a larger army.
Milobrat thinks his sword and his cock make him fit to rule. The time has come to show the world why a woman can be the King.

On New Year's day, I don armor and take the field to lead the troops with my husband at my side. Before we march across the Vistula, I address the men of Poland.

"My loving people," I begin. The air tastes crisp in my mouth, like biting into an apple.

"Some may try to persuade us to be over-careful for our safety, to take heed in how we commit ourselves against the armed multitudes."

I look over their shining weapons, their armor tarnished by years of siege. What can I say to these men? How on earth could I convince them that I stand among them, except by action?

"They persuade for fear of treachery," I say.

I let the final word hang in the air, a dangling noose.

"But I assure you -- I shall never live to lose the trust I have for my people, for it is all of my soul. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects. Therefore I have come not for mere pageantry and recreation, but to live and die amongst you in the midst and heat of battle, to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honor and my blood, even in the dust!"

The Pokutniki roar the crowd into a whoop of applause. I hold my sword to the morning sun, reflecting all the promise held in the seam between two years.

"Some may tell you I have the body of a weak, feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King!" I shout. "And should any petty prince should take arms against me, I myself will repay his honor in the field!"
Milobrat is so sure of his victory he spreads his men across Greater Poland, already trying to siege it down.
A battalion of the Brat's rats see our armies approaching and flee into Gniezno. My army lunges forward to catch them in the trap.
As I grind Milobrat's troops into Kielbasa, Dobie and Karijotas finalize a peace treaty with the Teutons.
My first battle is a massacre. Where only 300 of my soldiers die, Milobrat loses over 3,000. This is the price you pay for standing against me.
I follow up my victory in Gniezno with another Battle of Czarkow, just as my father did before me.
At his trial before the Penitents, Milobrat refused to atone. That's fine with me.

In his last days on Earth, starving in a forgotten cell, Milobrat will repent for every sin.

Next chapter:

Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost (Chapter IX): Let Reason Prevail

Images: 35, author: Malafides, published: 2017-04-19, edited: 2018-01-24

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