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Saturday, 04 December 2010
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Meeting at the Pass of Laz
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When Sir Frondeghast the Green, envoy to king Louen Leoncour of Bretonnia, a knights errant from a noble and well know Quenlassian family entered the gates of the Crac D'Aigle (Eagles Fort, bret.), the afore mentioned and rudly awoken knight, who was infact Ban (Baron) Mislav the First, lord of the Bretonnian Hinterlands, was all ready waiting for him in the entrence hall, wearing his tabard and lordly emblems. After the necessary protocol was satisfied, the excited young knight handed the letter, from the king himself, to the baron. 

"To Ban Mislav I., lord of the Bretonnian Hinterlands

It came to Our knowledge, that the winds and calamities of war weave their grotesqe cloth in the proximity of our holy kingdom. It is at the north of the Gray mountains, on the marches and fields around the city of Marienburg that the warbands and battlelords from both the old and the new, north and the south of our world rally on a crimson mision. Here, at our gates the balance of power shall be smithed by the stroke of sword upon shield. Ride forth, lord of the Hinterlands. You whom we call our strongest shield. You, the bulwark of Bretonnia. Scutum saldissimum et antemurale Bretonnianis.
Fullfill you're duty baron. Fullfill you're oath to the banner of your land, and to the crest of your King, and to the cross of the Lady of the lake. It is up to you to write yet another bloody chapter in our history,
Louen De Leouncourt, by 
the light of the Lady,
King of Bretonnia"

The baron, took his time, holding the letter, far longer after he read it, pretending to not have finished yet, so that he could gasp his thoughts. It was not the lack of courage, but rather an overwhelming sensation, of a veteran warrior, confronted with a vast task. He had lifted his head and gazed at the young knight who waited in anticipation. “You know my answer Sir. Do not look as if another possibility ever existed. We will mark the damp fields of Marrienburg Stadt with blood. It is up to the Lady to determine whether it shall be our, or the blood of my adversaries. Go on now. I have an army to raise.” said the baron. The yeoman guard closed the door and Ban Mislav went slowly to the kitchen. The peasant women were already finishing the meet stew for the field workers, guardsmen and knights alike. It was about midnight. The women stopped talking when they spotted the barons figure moving down the narrow stairs. He greeted them politely and asked whether he could have a saucer or two of this gulash meet stew. The cooks gave him a full plate, making sure that it was abundant with chunks of beef. The baron hurried not with this meal, for it would probably be the last calm meal in a long time, or just the last calm meal. After finishing he thanked the cooks and went to the main tower of the castle. 
His pace now quickened and determination substituted somnolence. The Bretonnian Hinterlands, his region were a very peculiar place. A secluded region besieged by high mountains and interwoven with green hills, on the borders of the dukedoms of Gisoreux and Montfort, with the foothills of the grey mountains serving as an outer ring of this emerald fortress. In the old days, this geographical position discouraged the dukes of Montfort and Gisoreux to extend their sovereignty to the Hinterlands. It was only formally a part of Gisoreux. However, whenever the knights of Bretonnia went to battle, a few Hinterland regiments would appear at the battlefield and fought alongside them; organized by their village chieftains, without coercion or mobilization, the folk of the realm gathered to fulfill their sacred duty to the king, land and lady. Some of this common born warriors sought their luck in the ranks of the armies of the dukes of Bretonnia, both in defense of Bretonnian borders and Crusades. Some of them rose to the title of a knight. One in particular, who started as a man at arms in the ranks of Gisoreux, continued as a knight in the army of L’Anguille, at last became the first Hinterlander who was elected Duke, Sir Mislav of Gisoreux. He abandoned this post, when he set forth on the grail quest. When he returned a grail knight, it was he, who led the regiments from the region in to battle. The rabble became a regiment, and regiment became an army. And this army, presented itself at the pass between the Gray mountains and the Pale sisters, eleven years ago, bearing its own crests and colors, and facing the chaos army of the Blood god, led by a crazed Arabian warrior. They did not win the day, but they crippled the invaders enough to prevent them moving onward. Since than the Hinterlanders bore the Bretonnian colors through sand and snow. Due to this, the Bretonnian King and the Hinterland Lord formed a pact. As his direct vassal, Mislav was awarded lordship of the Hinterlands. He in return vowed that he would forever defend the north of Bretonnia.
It was precisely because of this reminiscence, that the baron was preparing for war. He entered the armory, and enclosed his mortal body in steel, taking the heirlooms of his lineage to aid him on his quest. Sensing that something irregular is occurring, his dog joined him in this lonely hour of the night. Armed and armored the baron made haste to the guardhouse of his castle and loudly entered the yeomen barracks.


Ten men jumped from their beds, woken by the barons inconsiderate entrance. These were the council representatives of the ten settlements of the Hinterlands. Heads of their villages. Banded together here, under the same banner, neither knights nor peasants. Fast outriders, the barons eyes and ears. All strong men in their early thirties. Sores from hard field labor on their hands were hidden now by cuts and bruises from battles. The villages they represented were: Laz, Zabok (Dersalut, bret.), Pregrada (Barmur, bret.), Klanjec (Gorgot, bret.), Bedekovchina (Loudralie, bret.), Stubica (Ainsille, bret.), Bystrica (Clairerou, bret.), Radoboy (Hereux de Batre, bret.), Kojnschina (Chevalville, bret.) i Andrashevecz (An’Dreville). “Ride to your native hamlets and ring the town hall bells, with such ardor, that the blow of bronze upon bronze wakes the mountains that surround us. Bash down the doors of our arsenals, and let those who yesterday plowed, now bear arms of dismay. Ride, and be driven by the shadow of failure that reluctance brings”. The men heeded the barons words, equipping themselves with haste. Fire now burned in the lords eyes, and awareness grew where sleep not long ago was. He proceeded now to the main hall, tearing the nocturnal silence, with his loud metal walk and commanding voice.
From the main hall he hurried upstairs, trying but not necessarily succeeding to run, up the steep stairs. He knew that there was one more person insulting the solitude of the nights sky apart from him and his faithful dog. It is this person, whom he needs to ride with him to the north. Upon reaching the stairway to the platform of the highest tower, he found his predictions to be true. A young woman, in her mid twenties, in a metallic copper gown, was gazing at the moon and chanting. It was Anna of Carcassone, one of his wives apprentices. Anna was originally from the far south of Bretonnia. Where green hills are here, rocks and modest grass stand in her native region. Baron of the Hinterlands took her in, as a favor to her father, the Battle standard bearer of the duke of Carcassone, due to the fact that her native castle was not a safe homestead for her anymore. The resistive damsel, had seduced an asrai warrior, meeting him on few occasions on the outskirts of Athel Loren, using his benevolence and infatuation to gain insight into the lores that the elves practice. The price of her new gained arcane knowledge was an enamored elf noble. The haughty girl, decided to get rid of her admirer. This did not end well, and here she was. “Good evening, lady Anna. Would you be so kind to prepare for a long journey, and when finished, meet me and my army at the Pass of Laz.”, asked the baron politely, as did both his religious and knightly beliefs require. “I will be there, when Your army passes my lord, and there I will join it”. The baron nodded in a manner that could also be interpreted as a light bow and headed back down stairs. He yelled loudly calling for the chambermaid, and when she arrived he ordered her to complete two tasks. First was to inform the stableman to ready his horse Baiard. The second, to wake Lady Floriana. He was perhaps her General and lord, but it would still be unimaginable that a knight would enter the lady’s chamber in such a manner at this time of the night. He headed to say farewell to his wife, the Baroness. Their talk was short, as she was half asleep. The baron thought it to be better that way. The modality of their parting would not affect the possibility of their reunion. Clapping his hands loudly while hurrying to the courtyard he inadvertently gave the stable master a warning that he is coming. He mounted his steed, and put his broad helmet on. Before taking the lance he noticed a young blond women standing at keeps doors, holding a blanket and shivering. The baron, taking his lance, and finally catching sight of Damsel Floriana, spoke gently: “Go back inside but get ready. There is a war, and we are summoned as its clergy. From this winter paradise I am taking you to the cinders destruction. For this I bid your forgiveness.” The lady nodded with affirmation, as the baron rode out of the caste courtyard.


Yawning softly Floriana headed to here chambers. She heard a quick pace from the other side of the corridor. It was Anna, wrapped in a light blue cloak, hurrying down. She barely noticed her colleague, let alone offered to wait for her. This did not surprise Floriana, for Anna’s ambition was all but new. She changed her clothes and had put on a light blue dress which she particularly liked. After taking the bare necessities she proceeded to the vestry of the castles chapel. There in a cabinet made out of pure gold, she took the Prayer Icon of the Lady of the Lake, an artifact that would surely come to use in the days ahead. After reporting to her teacher, she rode out through the gates of Crac D’Aigle, as did Mislav and Anna before her.
Meanwhile, the baron rode with infernal hurry towards the hamlet of Stubica, more accurately towards the castle that overlooked this village. He needed to wake his Battle Standard Bearer. Galloping through the village he paid little attention to the weary peasants who were arming themselves. Arriving at the afore mentioned castle he found his Battle standard bearer armed and ready. “Go, summon the Brotherhoods, I know everything. We will meet at Laz”. Without a word, Mislav turned his horse around and headed towards the ghoul haunted forest of Humlug.


Sead and Mislav met one infernal afternoon in Araby. They were both young rankles warriors back then. Their regiments had slain one another and the two were the only ones alive. They stood motionless, staring at each other, waging whether to fight on or talk. Both of them saw it unnecessary to charge one another in an battle without armies, banners and cause. After long deliberation, Mislav spoke clearly: “I have a manor, far north. It has room for one more knight.” He spoke only this and turned his horse around. Without uttering a single word Sead followed him. They never discussed this moment in time, and just went on, as if they met upon entering Bretonnia. Since than, Sead always bore the Barons banner. Perhaps it was this old anecdote that made the paladin smile for a moment. But not for long. A task was at hand. He was to ride with lightning speed and summon the knights of the Realm one by one, knocking on their gates, by blowing his horn or any other way that he could find adequate.  He mounted his horse, assisted by squires and took upon his arm the most sacred of all banners. The Banner, which in the Hinterlands version was a cross representing the cohabitation between the noble and the common folk. It had a strong metaphorical meaning. The shorter represents the common folk, who even though are not of noble birth play a crucial role in this ensemble. The longer bar represents the nobility, the knights, who perhaps superior in position and power cannot exist without the peasants. There is another interpretation of this symbol, which states that the nobility are actually represented by the shorter bar, because they are far fewer in numbers. The pole of this cross was made out of that pole which bore the Banner of the Lady, when she first blessed it, in the forest in front of the Grail companions. Sir Mislav, came to possession of this heirloom in an interesting manner, but that’s another story. Mislav and his Grail knights agreed how it would be a blasphemy to cover such an artifact with plain cloth and decided to keep the pole the way it is. They did themselves right by that judgment for the pole itself had the same ability as the the Banner. With this, most sacred banner, Sead rode down towards the village which was all ready illuminated by torches of the man at arms that were getting ready for battle.


These men, who were preparing for battle, were the members of the oldest and perhaps most renown commoner outfit in the Hinterlands. They were the first ever commoners to join the barons army and managed to make their banners famous. They were known by many pseudonyms such as the Giant-slayers, due the battle of Herbert’s Crossing where ten of them slew a giant, and also Twilight of Chaos, when a flank charge from this regiment broke and destroyed a unit of ten Slaanesh chosen knights. This regiment took pride of its history, and had always taken into account their past exploits when on battlefield, striving not to shadow what they have achieved. Few years ago, the second regiment was formed in Stubica, mostly due to the fame of its predecessor. But the doctrine of war changed, and the two units were merged as one, leaving some, in the first regiment unsatisfied with youngsters frolicking under the banner whose worth did blood pay.
Johan the Mad was yelling and instructing the men, hurrying them to complete the preparations as quick as possible. He was a good and brave man, who had however terrible manners. He was loud, abrasive and blasphemous. The baron liked him that way. A loyal savage is better than a treacherous king. “Hurry, you need not to look good for death, it really takes everyone. Speed up your pace. I want to be at that Pass even before those half fey floozies (referring to the damsels). Move. Men in the front ranks, children in the middle (referring to the those of the second brigade)” The regiment was formed, command group at the front and it started its march towards the Pass of Laz.
Some few miles to the north of this column, Baron Mislav, slowed his gallop. He had reached his destination. The ghoul haunted forest of Humlug. The pine trees were standing erect as if the were blades of grass reaching to the moon, this antithesis of the sun which uncovered his white gown this particular night giving the forest a pale visage. Despite of its name, which it had acquired long ago, Humlug was not really infested by ghouls. A knight could bump into a solitary lair, but the fact was that those ghouls were more afraid of the travelers than the other way around. This fear became justified now more than ever, because a band of questing knights was adventuring through these parts and their main task was ghoul-hunting. It was that band of knights that the baron was looking for.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 11 December 2010 )
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