1349: The Road to War

1349: The Road to War

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For over a decade, England and France have been locked in embittered and bloody conflict, both sides reaping a heavy toll over the verdant fields of Western Europe.

768 readers have visited 1349: The Road to War since XavierDantius32 created it.

Introduction

The year is 1349 anno domini.


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For over a decade, England and France have been locked in embittered and bloody conflict, both sides reaping a heavy toll over the verdant fields of Western Europe. Edward, the self-styled Black Prince has vanquished the enemy on the fields of Crecy, the deadly hail of arrows massacring the French forces, impetuously spurred on by their king.

No mercy was shown to the survivors of Crecy and Edward, spurred on by his victory went on to capture the port of Calais, securing an English foothold on French soil. With the English position strong and the nobility of France in tatters, a truce was reached between the two powers under the mediations of the Papacy and its cardinals.

As both sides scheme and plot, steadily rebuilding their shattered armies under the veil of a truce, another spectre casts its shadow across Europe. Born in some dark, forgotten corner of Asia, and gestated amongst the hordes of rats spilling along the silk road and into the bowels of thousands of merchant ships, the Great Pestilence gnawed its way into the heart of Europe and the Mediterranean.

Oozing boils filled with blood and pus split the skins of peasant and noble alike, not even men of God could escape the Pestilence's scythe. Ignorance and superstition rose amongst the serfs and peasantry, blaming it on witchcraft and foul devil-magicks, or some avenging angel filled with heaven's fury, dispatched to exact God's toll for the violence at Crecy.

Truces set to end during the year 1348 are extended as neither side is capable of fighting, laid low by the pestilence. Despite this, banditry is on the rise, with small companies on either side sallying out into the land of their enemy, bringing the torch to crops and villages whilst taking the sword to the inhabitants.

It is the time of the mercenary and the bandit, not the men-at-arms or the knight. They are all safe in their castles, sharpening swords and polishing mail awaiting the call to war. The bandits ride daily, raping and pillaging the land, almost unopposed.

Some are locals, outlaws and convicts escaped from the axe or noose, clad in hide and leather with stolen swords and hand-crafted bows. Many are in the service of some absent lord, clad in rusting mail and plate, swift and deadly. Holdfasts and villages fall before their scourge, taking for personal gain or for status in a hierarchy that only serves the strong.

As the scorching summer sun becomes ascendant above the French countryside, there is talk of another chevauchee; another spear driven into the bleeding heart of a nation. On English shores ships are amassed, bowmen pulled from the fields whilst knights don their armour.

The scattered French lords are marshaled to defend their land, smaller bands of men and horse sent into Gascony and Pircardy to harass the English in their stolen castles.

The dispossessed who have spent a long year raiding amongst the hamlets and holdfasts begin to flock back to their nests, to join this new campaign and earn honour and glory on the field of battle.

How will you make your mark? With whom will you side? Where will your blood be spilled? And where will your broken body lie?






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The smoke could be seen for miles, rising like a dispossessed ghost wreathed in darkness above the shattered remains of the houses. The raiders had torn down the round tower, scattering the stones amongst the fields. A deathly stillness hung in the air, broken only by the caws of circling carrion crows, some already picking at the spilled innards of an unfortunate field hand.

Bodies littered the ruins, all hacked and broken. Vitally red blood pooled like rain after a storm, slowly congealing whilst feral dogs lapped at it. A girl had been tied to a barrel, passed around the bandits before having her throat slit, a red smile in her pale flesh.

The alderman had been crucified against an oak tree in the village centre, his sagging limbs and distended body a testament to his slow, inexorable demise. In the shade of the oak's spreading branches, leaves twisted and despoiled by fire lay a small number of armoured bodies lay slumped, pierced by dozens of arrows, blood and mail glinting in the evening sunlight.

Looters were already picking at the bones, not that the raiders had left anything behind. They'd even taken the few corpses slain by mishap or dumb luck. The only remnant of their passing a slashed jupon bearing three black lions rampant on a yellow field, with a cross of St George stitched over the breast.

Wisps of smoke rose from the smouldering inn, the fire set in its distended belly not yet extinguished. The charred sign had been torn away from the mounting, replaced by the scrawny body of the proprietor, a thick noose drawn around his long neck. His wife lay at his feet, a broken spearhead sprouting from her belly.

Those who escaped will surely return, taking shelter in the ruins of the torn down tower, hunting for game in the verdant forest, scratching at what remains of the charred crops.

This is the stage on which your journey begins. Drawn to this shattered ruin by fate or simple chance. The road to war starts here.

The year is 1349 anno domini...



Toggle Rules

The call to war is heard by many ears. The rich and the poor. The young and the old. Those with decades of martial skill, and those who can barely hold a sword. Men of God, and heretics. None will be turned away by War's sweet embrace.

Thus, I encourage you to go wherever your imagination takes you upon reading through the setting for this roleplay. If you can justify how your character chanced upon the shattered ruins of a village in Gascony, I'll most likely accept you.

I want to see the most diverse band of rogues to ever grace the middle ages. A group not wholly trusting of each other, but aware that alone, they'd probably end up butchered. Unlike many roleplays, there isn't a defined plot or goal. I'll discuss this with you in the OOC once the characters have been assembled, and we can work together to tell a story that will echo through the ages.

I'm not really one for rules. Other than the usual stuff about god-modding and meta-gaming, I'm pretty relaxed. As a thoroughly realistic roleplay, you should expect to be looking over your shoulder for the grim shadow of death. I don't expect you to throw your characters away frivolously, but sometimes things will have to run their course.

Don't be afraid to ask me, or another player for help. If you need to know something, just post in the OOC or grab me in the main chat, I'll be delighted to help.

And on that cheerful note,

Good hunting, and may God bless you,

XavierDantius32.

The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 1 authors

Our stage is set, our players arranged before you, in motley company. But what goes on beyond our mortal sight? To London, swifter than a harrying hawk we must travel, to present the backdrop to our scene...

The Tower of London.

“Where is Lancaster? Steward, fetch me him!”

The iron-bound doors banged aside, and a lordly figure clad in sodden mail and leather, his jupon clinging to the iron rings. He was accompanied by a number of attenders, dropping to their armoured knees in deference to the figure at the far end of the long room.

Edward, the third of his name reclined on a ornate oaken throne, chased with gold and precious gems. A red doublet hung to his knees, doeskin breeches falling to ermine-lined leather boots. At his side hung an arming sword laden down with gilt and fiery rubies. The fury of battle had taken it's toll on the king's once vital features, lines and wrinkles edging forth from his greying hairline.

Behind the throne stood his son, the Black Prince. He was carved from the same stone as his father, grim-featured and stoic, attired in mail and plate despite the security of the castle around him. His pale hands rested on the hilt of a notched and battered sword, a far cry from his father's ornate weapon.

With lordly grace, the Earl of Lancaster took a knee before the king, inclining his head towards the hewn flagstones. There was a weary creak to his voice, his poise leadened by months in his mail, his posture split by an ache in his wounded leg. “What would you have of me, my liege?”

The king smiled as he rose from the throne, reaching down to clasp his lord's shoulder. “Rise, cousin. I will not have you at such discomfort.”

Clasping the king's hand Lancaster stood to his full height, brushing aside the entanglement of his empty scabbard. “News from France, m'lord?”

“Aye, coz.” Reprising the throne the king settled himself, one hand curling protectively around the jeweled pommel of his blade. “Most troubling. Guy de Nesle reprises his position in Saintonge, and means to retake our possessions in the Gascoign”

“We expected this. We knew the dogs wouldn't keep to the truce.” A note of incredulous anger entered the earl's voice, as if he could not quite comprehend the kind of thinking it would take to go back on an agreement signed under God. “Can we match them again?”

The Black Prince stepped out of the shadows, the fires of battle alight in his eyes. “Let me go, Father. Let me create another Crecy on their fields. Another glorious spectacle to be forever mourned by the women of France.”

“No, Edward. I need you here.” The king's anger flared in his weary voice, an irate jab at an impetuous boy. “The pestilence has drained us and our brother France of soldiery. They can hardly stand, let alone bring the might to crush us.”

He turned to the earl, standing silently as the royals bickered. “I wish for you to reprise your seat in Gascony, cousin. Take Northampton and what men you can muster. Keep the bastards back till I can gather the strength to drive the dogs back into Satan's arsehole.”

Another wry smile from the earl, a deferential bow to both king and prince. “As you wish, my liege. Lancaster will answer your call.”




Southampton dock, a few weeks later.

Atop a cart laden down with provisions, the earl of Lancaster stands. He is garbed as before, in a heavy leather hauberk, studded with iron. Links of shining mail cover his arms and fall below the jack, the skirt falling almost to his knees. An iron arming sword sits at his side, paired with a broad swordbreaker on his other hip. At his feet lies a lead-weighted pollaxe, the hooked axe-blade gleaming in the mist-laden air.

Around him are grouped his knights and captains. Ventenars and Centenars of archers in leather and mail, leaning on cased bows with sheafs of arrows piled at their feet. They are silent, save for the rustle of cloth in the stiff sea breeze. They await the Earl's speech.

Behind them, drifting on the misty sea stand sixty burgeoned galleons, sails unfurled like seabirds wings. Men and horses bustle around them like a colony of disturbed ants, loading the provisions of war into the holds.

A small army of no more than two thousands prepares to cast off from English shores on this damp, October. However small the host might be, it benefits from the experience of a thousand battles. From border wars against the Scots, to the killing fields of Crecy. The nobility of France should be quaking in their beds at the thought of this host reaching it's shores.

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Sometimes, I prefer being lost. The woods are kinder to me than my lord.

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Sometimes, I prefer being lost. The woods are kinder to me than my lord.

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A chorus of voices unbidden, to describe and reveal the stage before you.

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Sometimes, I prefer being lost. The woods are kinder to me than my lord.


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