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1199-1201 RE-- The Grand Duke's War

Date: 1199-1201
Outcome: Pyrrhic victory for Trayal
Belligerents: The Duchy of Trayal versus the Duchy of Eastern Trempa
Trayal Commanders: Duke Arnaud, Dame Dietra Morvien, Karl Choltitz
Eastern Trempa Commanders: Duke Petro of Trempa, Frederich Angvald, Sir Henning Arau
Strength: Trayal: 500 regular army, 150 Gaunt mercenaries
               Eastern Trempa: 350 regular army, 200 Western Trempa volunteers
Casualties: Trayal: 197 regular army, 10 Gaunt mercenaries
                Eastern Trempa: 151 regular army, 95 Western Trempa volunteers

Between 1199 and 1201, the Duchy of Eastern Trempa and the Duchy of Trayal in the Principalities fought in what came to be known as the Grand Dukes' War. There were four major engagements in this war: the Battle of Ostencross, the Battle of the Dawn Salient, the Battle of Bell, and the Siege of Marronberg.

The Grand Duke's war started over what some might term a misunderstanding, and others might term a blatant setup. Trayal found themselves starting to chafe under a curiously increased presence of the Left Hand in their lands, following a visit from the Duke of Eastern Trempa. Trayal's spies uncovered some rumors-- at least one of which seemed to come in letters from the Patriarch's offices-- that Duke Petro of Trempa was to be made the first Archduke of the Principalities, on the Patriarch's advice to the Emperor. Further, some of the contents of the letter, in speaking of territories technically within Trayal, could be interpreted as supporting some sort of annexation. Outraged, Duke Arnaud immediately wrote to the Emperor complaining. The Emperor's response was terse but blank-- he essentially said that there was nothing going on, and not to worry about it. Unconvinced, Duke Arnaud wrote to Duke Petro, asking what exactly that worthy thought he was doing. Upon receiving yet another smug non-response, Duke Arnaud decided to mobilize his army, and put out to hire mercenaries from Gaunt. Trempa-- records vary as to whether there was much in the way of surprise on Trempa's part, but The Contemporary Historian, Dame Vitel Carlsbad implies that the reaction was almost uncannily timely-- responded by thickening its defenses and dispatching a message to Trayal, asking them what exactly they thought they were doing. Trayal decided that a demonstration would be most efficient, and immediately deployed its forces across Trempa's border. Trempa marched almost as fast towards Trayal. The first major engagement of troops occured near Ostencross.

The Battle of Ostencross

Date: 1199
Outcome:  Victory for Trempa
Belligerents: The Duchy of Trayal versus the Duchy of Eastern Trempa
Trayal Commanders: Duke Arnaud of Trayal, Dame Dietra Morvien, Karl Choltitz
Eastern Trempa Commanders: Duke Petro of Trempa, Frederich Angvald, Sir Henning Arau,
Strength: Trayal: 150 regular army, 30 Gaunt mercenaries
               Eastern Trempa: 130 regular army.
Casualties: Trayal: 32 regular army, 0 Gaunt mercenaries
               Eastern Trempa: 12 regular army

The first major engagement of the war began at 12:30 of the clock on a cold, wet day. Trempa's forces, finding a good, defensible position below the hills near Ostencross dug in first, setting up a blockade to meet their enemy there. This was a major setback for Duke Arnaud, who had hoped to push past Ostencross into more open land beyond, and push as fast as he could towards Marronberg. Trempa also benefited from the presence of an officer1 under Angvald's command, who was natively from Ostencross and played a major role in organizing the defenses. Though Arnaud's men were not unfamiliar with the landscape, they were no match for the superior organization and knowledge of Trempa's forces, and were repelled back towards the Vervain river, where they dug in. Fighting would continue between Ostencross and the border for the next several months in small engagements, giving Trayal's Master of Scouts2 time to send several successful scouting sallies deeper into Trempa, and for Duke Petro to raise Volunteers from Western Trempa, under the command of a Tower knight named Roderick Volger. Also of note, and adding to the length of the period of skirmishes-- the ferocity of Trayal's Gauntish mercenaries, under the command of their warleader, Ormarr Vidarrson.

Dawn Salient

Date: 1200
Outcome: Slight Victory for Trempa
Belligerents: The Duchy of Trayal versus the Duchy of Eastern Trempa
Trayal Commanders: Duke Arnaud of Trayal, Dame Dietra Morvien, Karl Choltitz
Eastern Trempa Commanders: Duke Petro of Trempa, Frederich Angvald, Sir Henning Arau,
Strength: Varies by Report
Casualties: Trayal: 23 regular army, 1 Gaunt mercenary
               Eastern Trempa: 11 regular army, 30 Western Trempa volunteers

A year of fighting had, on the surface, seen the forces of Trayal inching ever backwards towards their own border. That said, the Trempa side was not in great shape. Keeping Trayal pinned had cost nearby Ostencross and its adjacent lands dearly in terms of resources, and supplies from deeper in Trempa were slow in coming. In addition, Duke Petro's Harriers under the soldier from Ostencross (given a Captaincy after the battle in which he had distinguished himself), had not been able to stop the Trayal Scouts, who had begun to make a habit of raiding farms for supplies, or else burning them to cut off Trempa's ability to benefit thereby. Realising that they could not hold out much longer, this Captain1 and Frederic Angvald planned the Dawn Salient, a ploy to force the army of Trayal finally over the Vervain and their border. Angvald theoretically wished to push further (According to Dame Vitel; another account, that of the Battlefield Historian5 suggests that any ambition towards invading Trayal belonged solely to the Duke), but that sources vary on how much this secondary objective influenced the battle. The Captain1 led a picked group of 75 of his Harriers and regular army towards Petro's supply lines, keeping in reserve another 100 of the Western Trempa Volunteers, under Sir Roderick Volger.

Unfortunately, Duke Petro seemed to be more interested in the secondary plan than the primary, and didn't realise why there were 100 troops "just standing there" for his money. Just as Trayal's troops began to wake and realise what was happening, He sent Sir Roderick an order to charge right at the front of the enemy line with a different group of 150 men (volunteers and army), and sent Sir Henning to commandeer the 100 Volunteers. Angvald and the Captain1 being in the thick of battle, Sir Roderick argued hotly with Arau, but was overulled by the superior officer. He was thus forced to send his men to the front of the line, though he thought this to be an unutterably stupid move. The Captain1, having worn down the flank and scattered the supply line agreed completely, upon returning to the ridge behind which he'd concealed his reserves and finding them not at all there. He rode immediately for Duke Petro, who blessed him out for taking them in the first place, then finishing with the words, "Well, you see! They're retreating! Strength will win this day, not wasteful tricks."

This much was true-- realizing that his lines were in serious trouble, Duke Arnaud had redoubled his efforts on wiping out Angvald's line as quickly as possible, which wasn't easy, as they used more dash and hide tactics than were strictly permissible inline combat. Count Karl Choltitz sent the Master of Scouts2 and his skirmishers to deal with them, while Dame Dietra's Shield Wall scrambled to form up against this onslaught to the fore. While this tactic did surprise, Trayal's superior numbers, having just received a fresh influx of Gauntish mercenaries, found this threat easy enough to deal with. Warleader Vidarrson's Shieldeaters poured fourth and shook the Trempa forces badly. The original plan-- to feed the battle at the supply line, push to the Vervain, then come up from the other side with the remainder of the army-- would probably have worked far better, even at those odds. This much the accounts of the Contemporary and the Battle Historian agree upon.

Either way, the scouts were able to chase off Angvald and his Captain1, once it was clear that no backup was handy, while the clash in the front ended in a more-or-less stalemate, casualties-wise. The end result did force Duke Arnaud to regroup on the other side of the Vervain and into his own lands, but Trempa fared little better. Faced with an unimproved supplies situation, strung out over most of the country-side, and weeks away from fresh supplies, Trempa lacked the strength to maintain the border and was forced to withdraw as well. Worse, their plight was obvious to Duke Arnaud, though he too had to take the time to lick his own wounds-- which brings us to the Battle of Bell.

Battle of Bell

Date: 1200
Outcome: Victory for Trayal
Belligerents: The Duchy of Trayal versus the Duchy of Eastern Trempa
Trayal Commanders: Duke Arnaud of Trayal, Dame Dietra Morvien, Karl Choltitz
Eastern Trempa Commanders: Duke Petro of Trempa, Frederich Angvald, Sir Henning Arau.
Strength: Trayal: approx. 450 regular army, approx. 150 Gaunt mercenaries
               Eastern Trempa: approx. 370 regular army, approx. 150 Western Trempa volunteers
Casualties: Trayal: 30 regular army, 5 Gaunt mercenaries, Viscount Arnaud von Trayal
                Eastern Trempa: 150 regular army, 35 Western Trempa volunteers

The specific engagement known as the Battle of Bell is actually the final day or so of the longer Defense of Bell, as it is written in The Battle Historian's Report. Dame Carlsbad largely ignores the preamble and skips directly to the final day, but here we will follow the Battle Historian's example. A few weeks after the Dawn Salient, Trayal had regrouped and pushed past the unfortunate terrain near Ostencross. They did not sack the city, the city having already been very nearly sacked by Trempa's own army. With their backs to the hills, Trayal engaged in a minor skirmish near the town of Plinth, but committed little to it, pushing through towards the clear objective of Marronberg with little deviation. Between Plinth and Marronberg lay Bell, a growing farming town on the Adriarch River, possessing the best and most direct bridge and fordable area in either direction. The Army of Trempa had dug in here, refreshed and ready, and with a much shorter supply line. They held the ground there for nearly a week of stalemate, the action largely taking place between the Captain's1 Harriers and the Master of Scout's2 men. Trempa managed to thwart Trayal's every attempt at fording the river anywhere within 5 miles of Bell, and Duke Arnaud did not seem initially inclined to attack the walls for the possession of the principal bridge, that clearly being the more costly option. Heartened by this, much having endured for the past several weeks, Trempa began to make terse overtures towards peace, to which Trayal made a cautious, but encouraging response. Yet no word to help or hinder came from Emperor or Patriarch, and tensions ran high. In the meantime, the men grew restless. The few sorties became more like exceedingly cruel practical jokes, cumulating in an episode which, according to several different historians, altered the entire course of the war.

On a particularly dull and stultifying Thursday evening, Sir Henning Arau of Trempa stood with 10 or so of his personal attachment at the top of the makeshift guard tower they'd built in front of Bell's palisade wall. From there, Trayal's encampment were clearly visible behind their own makeshift palisades, and the Trempa Bowmen stood watching them and chatting idly. Presently, Arau's attention was caught by one, clearly an officer, parading before his troops on a big, white charger of a horse.

At this point, the accounts of the historians vary. The Contemporary Historian claims that the words uttered, "I'll wager 10 crowns if someone can't peg that big soldier there out of his saddle!" Were spoken in jest, and taken unfortunately seriously. The Battle Historian, who claims to have known the men involved, says that the wager was in fact deadly serious. What is more certain is that one of the Bowmen5, immediately nocked and let fly an arrow which pierced the officer's throat and knocked him direct from his saddle, as promised. What no one in the camp at Trempa realized was that the Bowman had just shot Viscount Alan Von Trayal, the younger of Duke Arnaud's two sons. The Contemporary Historian Writes,

"All jaws in the tower fell slack at this feat, which cross't more than 500 yards* t'least in its flight in the fading light, tho' downwards and with the wind behind it. The wind picked up as the body slumped to the earth, and the cries for a healer went up. Sir Henning glanced from the window and saw that Dusk had now fallen, and the enemy healer6 yet hurried across the camp…"

Within 10 minutes past dusk, the full strength of Trayal were arrayed and hammering at the somewhat off-guard forces of Trempa. Their fury and battle fervour completely overwhelmed the defenders, and sent them fleeing back towards Marronberg, the bridge torched in their wake. But Trayal had the advantage, and all they had to do was press further…

*(Other sources, the Battle Historian, for example, say that the arrow was one that had received a boon from a Ritualist's spell. The Contemporary Historian omits all mention of ritualism from her account of the War, but implies that the craftmanship of the bow was somehow unusual. The Battle Historian suggests that one side or the other made use of Ritual Works or at least Alchemical enhancement, which would have gone ill for his Report if not for the outcome of the final battle. It is worth mentioning, however, that both Angvald and Arau, in commenting on the incident later, vehemently denied the involvement of any Ritual Magics.)

Siege of Marronberg

Date: 1201
Outcome: Pyrrhic Victory for Trayal
Belligerents: The Duchy of Trayal versus the Duchy of Eastern Trempa
Trayal Commanders: Duke Arnaud of Trayal, Dame Dietra Morvien, Count Karl Choltitz
Eastern Trempa Commanders: Duke Petro of Trempa, Frederich Angvald, Sir Henning Arau,
Strength:Trayal: approx. 600 regular army and conscripts, approx. 50 Gaunt mercenaries
               Eastern Trempa: approx. 500 regular army, conscripts and citizens; approx. 200 Western Trempa volunteers
Casualties: Varies by report; the legitimate Ducal lines of both nations were wiped out.

The length of the Siege of Marronberg varies depending on whom you ask. The Battle Historian gives the length as three weeks of stalemate and a combined week of fighting. The Contemporary Historian says it was more like two weeks of solid fighting, and anyone else who was there might tell you that it lasted about a year or more. Obsessed with either laying waste to, or taking control of the mighty city, Duke Arnaud hammered the walls viciously, laying waste to the woods around to build massive siegeworks. The Battle Historian and the Contemporary both agree, uncannily enough, that the Duke gave the appearance of not caring whether or not his army survived as long as the walls of the city were breached. More soldiers fell in this battle on both sides than in any other engagement of the war, and still more failed to rise again.

As if to emphasize the bloodiness of this engagement, it was here that the lines of both Duchies were eradicated. Alan's elder brother, Albrecht Von Trayal, was killed in the first breeching of Marronberg's outer wall, burned to death by boiling oil. Duke Petro's wife, the Archer Brenna Von Chamneburg-Trempa, was killed in the storming of the castle. His three older children, Hans, Casimira, and Czera fell variously to bow-fire and to melee combat inside of the walls (though they were said to have acquit themselves very well), and the youngest, Otto, a lad of seven, was reported killed in trying to escape. His personal bodyguard7, as the inner castle fell, dressed him in the clothes of a commoner and spirited him onto his horse, attempting to steal away. Nonetheless, they were spotted, and the horse shot out from under them. The brave bodyguard was thrown clear, but returned word that the boy was crushed to death by the horse.

As for Duke Arnaud, he was a widower himself, and had no other family aside from his late wife's brother, Simon Mendel. This worthy did not take part in the war as a soldier, but remained in Trayal as an administrator. The Duke was reported to be killed in the courtyard, run through the chest by the sword of Casimira Von Trempa, before she was herself cut down. As for Duke Petro, his death remains something of a mystery. He was found after the battle, still inside of the castle, lying on the floor of his chamber before the tower window: his bow in his hand, his sword on his bed, and his throat cut.

The political implications of the war and its particulars are many and profound, but are dealt with better elsewhere. What is most important to note, however, is that Eastern Trempa and Trayal are now ruled by a Duke-Regent (Frederic Angvald) and a High Steward (Simon Mendel), respectively. These regents currently seek the Emperor's permission to found new ducal lines of inheritance.