Not Yet Lost (Chapter XIII): Century

Author: Malafides
Published: 2018-02-17, edited: 2018-02-23

Part of the campaign:

Not Yet Lost (1392 - 1444)

Previous part:

Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost: Iberian Interlude

Images: 5, author: Malafides, published: 2018-01-21, edited: 2018-02-17

With my wife behind me and King Vainius beside me, I can't help but feel a cautious optimism.
The Mongols are revolting! Also, they're in revolt.

Matthew Csak may be dead, but his son Moses is alive. Even with his inexperience, the young king can still smell blood in the water. He's no match for a Horde with its shit together, but he can sweep the rug out from under some rebels. Hopefully, he'll follow his namesake and lead his people through this promising future.
Our Crusade's off to a great start! The Mongol armies are nowhere to be seen. I don't see how this could go wrong.
Yep, should've seen that one coming.

With no resistance in sight, we cross the Dniester to scout the Khagan's territory. I mean, this is weird stuff, right? And man, we did some serious scouting. We scouted about 12,000 angry Mongols just in time to get our asses kicked.
Qara-Quchuq the Merciless leads the Khagan's armies. He's a terror to behold. We'll call him QQ, because he makes me want to cry.
My father Spytko insists that we escaped the battle with "only minimal losses." I don't know what that's supposed to mean. What's minimal about a thousand people dead? I doubt those "minimal losses" will mean much to the people who loved them. I can't shake their faces from my mind -- but I know I will, in time. There are just too many to remember. Their families won't have that luxury.
This defeat was a humbling experience, to say the least. War is the fucking worst.
We barely have time to regroup with the Hungarians in Torki before QQ catches up with us.
The Mongols crash into the rabble that calls itself our center flank. With no one else to lead the men, I try my best to ignore the panic twisting up my guts and do something.

The right flank rallies behind me and we charge forward to meet the enemy. QQ must not have expected us to put up a fight. His weak flank breaks before us and we ride in to relieve the center, catching the great commander from behind. I don't know how it happened, but somehow I "won the day."

Around the campfire, the men sing songs and make toasts in my name. I excuse myself to throw up in the bushes.
Rycheza gives me a real reason to celebrate. God has blessed us with a second son. She suggests naming him after me, but the thought makes me blush. No, best to name him Bolesław. I don't want him to live in anyone's shadow, if he can avoid it. Better to name him after some distant ancestor, so he can decide what it means for himself.
The Lowlands have been a battleground between the French and the Germans for just about forever. You might imagine this would inspire some animosity among the locals. You'd be right. Now Duke Guy the Fearless leads them in revolt against the Kaiser. They're not happy with some Italian deciding whether Dutchmen should live or die. He'd rather replace Adalberto II with a loyal vassal, in hopes of a more pliable ruler.
Back at home, the Archbishop cleans up the heresy in Slupsk. The Church might be corrupt and divided abroad, but not in Poland.
QQ hasn't shown his face since the Battle of Torki. Maybe the Khagan has bigger fish to fry.
King Moses signs peace and extends his country's borders to the Black Sea.

After almost three years at war, I get to go home! I hope I never see another battlefield.
Rebellion seems to be the latest fashion. The Provençals have been grumbling under Neapolitan rule for a while now. Now they've rallied behind Matias d'Antibes, a daring young knight. He promises to liberate his people from all foreign overlords.
The Kaiser is dead. The electors decide to appoint his son Adalbert III.

Unlike his father, Bert the Third spent his life in Germany, but he takes after his Venetian ancestors. He's a shrewd businessman from what I hear, but I doubt this bean-counter will pose much of a threat.
OK, so I was wrong again. You don't have to rub it in.

The Schism has come to a head once more. The French are distracted by a war with England, seeking to reclaim their stolen territories. The new Kaiser pounces just months from his ascension. Now he stands before a massive army, hellbent on kicking Pope Lucius out of Avignon.

I have mixed feelings about the whole situation. I'm a big fan of Pope Alexander, and Lucius is a tool. Still, Charles IV is my nephew. Can't we talk this out?
The German swarm is making a bee-line for Paris. Poor little Charlie.
I'd much rather make an impact with the power of law than the power of violence. That was my mother's refuge, at the end of her life. I want to make life better for the powerless -- but if I want to do that, I need support from the powerful, no matter how much it turns my stomach. My brother-in-law could use these reforms to rally the other nobles against me. I send Gierolt a fat stack of cash to keep him on my good side. Rycheza won't like it -- but without any evidence of his patricide, there's not much else I can do.

JustNoBIL, am I right?
These new laws are Rycheza's brainchild, not mine. Among other small reforms, they allow noblewomen to both attend Krakow University and to teach there, with sufficient education. My wife knows more than I ever could. How many more brilliant women could be slipping through the cracks?
Rycheza is more than Poland's Queen. She's the one who really calls the shots, the one who wheels and deals. Now she's my Chancellor, my most trusted minister, our country's face to the world.
Despite her best efforts, the Swedish King is committed to being an obstinate little asshole.

The impressionable young man has been swayed into antisemitism by his advisors. They've driven him to expel the Jews from his country. Now he claims "Polish complicity" in a litany of imaginary crimes. I'd like to tell him off, but I don't know the limits of his irrationality. I don't want to smother our fledgling alliance in the cradle. And it could be worse -- there's no way I'm letting this squabble escalate to war. Our people don't deserve to suffer for some king's mistake. I tell him it's his decision to make, but I insist on paying for their transport to Poland. They'll find new homes with us.
Bert makes a quick detour to imprison the fearless Duke of Holland without breaking a sweat. I seriously misjudged the new Kaiser. He's a man to be reckoned with.
Further South, the Hafsids take Africa back from the Italians. Meanwhile, hairline fractures continue to spread in the Holy Church. How much more violence and pettiness can it take before it shatters?

I can't stop this dread from bubbling up inside me. I try to push it down, but it always comes back. I can't stand to think that things won't turn out alright, that God would let good people suffer for no reason. Rycheza calls me an optimist. I'm beginning to wonder if that's just another word for a fool.
The new year brings a new century with it.

And I want to feel hopeful about that.

I really do.

Next chapter:

Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost: Italian Interlude

Images: 21, author: Malafides, published: 2018-02-23, edited: 2018-11-03

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