Not Yet Lost (Chapter II): The Heights of Greatness

Author: Malafides
Published: 2017-01-27, edited: 2018-01-24

Part of the campaign:

Not Yet Lost (1320 - 1392)

Previous part:

Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost (Chapter I): The Kingdom Restored

Images: 40, author: Malafides, published: 2017-01-27, edited: 2018-01-24

The church bells moan through the streets of Krakow. The people are torn between grieving their old King and celebrating my ascension. A decade ago, it was my father's coronation. Now it's mine. And what do I have to celebrate? My father entrusted me with our people's future, but I'm not sure I can bear the weight.

An old Seneca quotation finds its way into my head. It's one of the only things that ever stuck from lessons in Latin: "Confragosa in fastigium dignitatis via est." It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness. Today, all I can do is stare down at the white waters of the Vistula. She flows on with no regard to family, fate, or legacy. If only I could have a taste of that freedom.
King John renews our unlikely alliance. Thank God he still hates the Kaiser more than he hates us. Dad always had a few choice words to say about my stepfather, but he's alright by me. He might be useless anywhere outside the battlefield, but all I need from him is to mind his own business. As long as he keeps his armies out of Silesia, I don't care how much he prattles on about the latest French fashion.
The Regents in Hungary confirm that the agreements between my father and King Charles will remain. My niece and I are both in a precarious position -- we'll need each other to survive.
Meanwhile, my nephew Henryk stands to succeed me. My wife is a beautiful woman and I'm itching to start cranking out some heirs, but I can't seem to find the time alone with her. She's always busy with this or that, conferring with her ladies-in-waiting and making nice with her new subjects. I know it's only been a couple months, but we haven't fucked since our wedding night! I'm not sure what the matter is. Look, I won't bullshit you -- I was no virgin before we married. Believe me, there isn't a woman in Poland who doesn't want a slice of that Kazimierz pie. So why doesn't Judith want me? I used all my best moves, but she didn't seem too enthused.
I was a bit worried the lords of Poland would rise against me and try to return Poland to its state of disunity, but the whole Kingdom became richer under my father's protection. With the New Year past, I can breathe a sigh of relief and prove my greatness. A war with the Teutons should take my mind off the problems in my marriage. If I can seize the rich lands of Prussia, I'll ensure my place in history and pay back my father's trust.
The Teutons rush forward into Gdansk, trying to catch my armies by surprise and reclaim their old territory. I punish them for their audacity and leave no survivors.
First we charge straight into the capital at Marienburg, then wheel around to take Chelmno. We don't bother with sieges. Our horsemen crack their castles like eggshells underfoot.
Now comes the true test of my mettle. The Teutons were no match me for me, but that snake of a Kaiser could ruin everything my father built. King John agrees not to provide his liege with any troops, but he declines to make a move against him. I'm beginning to understand why Dad hated my father-in-law so much.

The Teutons are broken, but the Grandmaster knows I'm in no position to make any great demands. I wanted all of Prussia, but he won't give more than Chelmno Land. I swallow the urge to knock out what teeth he has left and take the deal. He'll get what he deserves in time.
I hadn't bothered to reach out to my niece in Croatia, but I can use all the help I can get. Her country is still working closely with Hungary, and it's unclear how separate the two will remain. No matter where things stand in the South, the Kaiser is a threat to us all.
The Empire is strong, but its leader is weak and his people suffer for it. Over ten thousand have risen up against the Kaiser a short distance from his capital, led by a charismatic Frankish priest.
The Kaiser's troops outnumber mine by a longshot, but he has no idea what it means to lead an army. A battalion passes through Poznan as he attempts to gather his forces in the East. My father used to say that an idiot thinks the whole world is as dumb as he is. The Kaiser must've thought I'd still be scrambling to get my armies in one place.
The result is a total slaughter. The troops toast as all of Europe gossips about my victory. They say that each night, the Kaiser wakes screaming to nightmares of the Polish king.
The Kaiser finally gets his shit together by Spring and a massive force converges on Poznan. The allied troops gather in Krakow, but it will take more than our assembled forces to push the Germans from our lands. Think Christ for Pecheneg horses and thank Yahweh for that Jewish gold.
I move the allied armies further into Greater Poland as Pecheneg mercenaries assemble beneath the Kaiser's nose. He takes the bait. All he can see is an enemy army that he outnumbers, stranded in open plains.
German swords clash against Polish shields as we fight with our backs to the Vistula. The Pecheneg horde races along the water's edge to catch the Kaiser in a pincer.
The Emperor's forces dissolve under the Charge of the Pechenegs.
The Battle of Kalisz proves a decisive victory, with under 4,000 troops fleeing from Polish soldiers. Over 16,000 German corpses now fertilize our fields. The Kaiser will teach the world a valuable lesson: The Kingdom of Poland ain't nothin' to fuck with.
We follow up our victory with the Massacre at Radziejow. Not one of the Kaiser's men will be allowed to leave Poland alive.
But defense is not enough. I need to show the Kaiser that if he invades my country, I'll invade his right back.
Even the River Oder cannot stand in our way. My horseman storm over the water and cut through an equal force like Moses parting the Red Sea. The air is thick with blood and fire, with tears and screaming. Meanwhile, my soldiers sing my praises, and their voices carry to the furthest corners of the world. I drink with them and smile, but I cannot seem to lose myself in their admiration. I know the rough road to greatness stretches long beyond my vision. This step is only the beginning.

Next chapter:

Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost (Chapter III): Blind Ambition

Images: 30, author: Malafides, published: 2017-01-27, edited: 2018-01-24

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