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Knights of the Black Cross

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  • Knights of the Black Cross

    Author's Note: Culture clashes tend to be a lot messier in real life than a city "flipping" every so often. Differences in customs and beliefs insure that such clashes will be horrible even as wars are judged. Both sides come to regard the other as less than human, and the battles aren't merely for territory, but for the survival of a way of life.


    Our Lord and Creator, ever mindful of the lost of the world, saw fit to raise up an army of conversion, even as he sent Jonah to minister unto the city of Nineveh. For even in these enlightened times the confusion of paganism still held sway over the idolatrous Livonian and Prussian tribes. Thus, in the fire of his love, the crucified one inspired a mighty army to awaken them from the slumber of sin.

    It came to pass, then, that with the authorization of the Polish princes and the blessings of the Trinity, a mighty and holy German army entered these regions. This army was not guided by lust for treasure or glory, but rather impelled by the edict of St. Paul, to carry the gospel into every land and to every creature. What a sight these men were as they marched forth to Babylonia and Raab! What force on earth, what human devil, could hope to stand before these glorious knights of Christ?

    -Excerpt from Soldiers of God , by Frederick of Magdeburg


    The wooden blade of the shovel dug into the horse manure. All the shovels in the camp were wooden. All available metal was needed for arms and armour. Plowshares to swords, pruning hooks to spears.

    Siegfried wiped his forehead, his right hand coming away glistening with sweat. His breath came in painful huffs. He had spent the better part of an hour cleaning the stables. Thankfully, the job was almost finished. His arms burned painfully as he shoveled the last bit of manure into a wheelbarrow.

    The stable was in the center of a sprawling encampment that had risen almost overnight. Aided by the slave labor of non-converts, mighty walls had arisen like weeds from the frozen soil. Massive towers streched defiantly toward the heavens, keeping watch on the encampment, much as they believed God himself did.

    Siegfried dumped the manure into a ditch outside the walls, keeping his eyes open for trouble. The pagan Prussians had been driven from the region, but an occassion raid still occured. In the first days of the mission the Prussians, who were ignorant of even basic masonry, had tried to push down the walls of the encampment. The attempt had failed. Siegfried nearly tripped over a half buried skull as he walked back to the walls.

    Siegfried was a squire for the knights, although he was nearly thirty. The common blood in his veins, blood he'd occassionally spilled into the mud of European battlefields, held him back from promotion. He'd been told that the reise , meaning the colonizations of the pagan Baltic region, offered a chance for him to move up. He wasn't so sure. First he would have to become a knight brother, taking a monastic oath. An oath that would forbid a number of activities that he found rather rewarding.

    For now, he was mostly concentrating on survival. Rumor was going around that another offensive was planned for winter. The pagans were under the assumption that it would be insanity to attempt to take ground during the bitter Prussian winter. Perhaps they would be caught off guard. Perhaps they were right.

    Either way, there was more work to be done. The blacksmith needed extra hands, he'd been told. At least that would get him out of the cold for awhile, at least the physical cold. Siegfried couldn't shake a spiritual chill, as if all this was less then the noble enterprise it had been preached as.


    "We've sighted land, sir!" The Eagle Warrior brought himself to attention before the captain of the Invasion Fleet. "Very good scout. Sacrifices will be made in your honor. Dismissed." General Axayacatl rubbed his hands together in anticipation. The stuffy leadership back in Tenochitlan had told him that an invasion across the great sea was folly, that the logistics would be impossible. Axayacatl was never one to play things conservative, and with peace reigning at home, this was the way to glory.

    Axayacatl removed a chicken from a cage near his desk in the ship's stateroom. He'd brought it to the chamber in anticipation of the news of landfall. Carefully he removed it from the cage, guarding his hands from the beak. He stroked it gently, calming the panicked clucking. He walked across the stateroom to a small altar to the one true God of his people: Quetzalcoatl. "Accept this sacrifice for granting a safe voyage, o feathered serpent. Soon you will be satiated with the blood of the infidel." With a single flex of his strong hands, he snapped the bird's neck. Slowly he placed the ruined body of the chicken on the altar, chanting silently the 101 secret names of the God. The bronze image of the feathered serpent behind the altar regarded the sacrifice with its ruby eyes.

    "Soon you will feast...grant me victory in your name." Axayacatl bowed deeply before the altar, and then left the stateroom for the deck.

    Sure enough, frozen land was visible through the mist that covered the inlet. A light snow was falling. Axayacatl regarded the foreign shores through a telescope. "Ready my personal guard and two of my possessions. Oh, get the flag, too." The first mate saluted sharply. A few minutes latter, the Aztec longboats glided through the fridgid water. Axayacatl's personal retinue were elite Jaguar Soldiers. Their ceremonial uniforms were replaced by heavy coats of animal hide. Rifles were cradled in heavily wrapped hands. Two men were not armed, and sat in silence, as the soldiers talked quietly amoungst themselves, awed at the sight of land so different than their homeland.

    The longboat's touched the shore, and the Aztecs advanced up the beach. Axayacatl took the Aztec flag, which depicted the feathered serpent super-imposed over a pyramid. He thrust the flag into the frozen sand. "I claim this land and all its peoples and riches for the Republic of the Aztecs!"

    "Perpare the sacrifices!" Rifle butts forced the unarmed men forward. Axayacatl produced his ceremonial dagger. The two victims watched passively. This was an honor for them, or so it was said. With two practiced swipes of his arm, the Aztec General cut their throats. The blood poured into the cold sandy ground. The men cheered.

    "With this sacrifice I sanctify this mission. Soon the God will be appeased!" More cheers. Perhaps an hour later the Aztec Galleons began to disembark. The armies of Quetzalcoatl were on a holy mission. They had no idea they were about to run into another "holy army."


    Look for updates every day or so. Comments always encouraged!
    Last edited by Rotten999; May 4, 2002, 21:58.

  • #2
    Very good, very well researched and written!

    Quote:"He who has not learned to obey cannot be a great leader."


    • #3
      um...what he said!


      • #4
        Enjoyable story. Something that can only be written by a fine author

        And I see that you have done some looking into some of the distinct civilizations.

        Can't wait for more.


        • #5
          Author's Note: Thanks for the kind words. A lot of the situations/characters are historically inspired, hopefully it's obvious what parts are fictional! The excerpts are also fictionalized, but are inspired by Eastern Crusade chronicles.


          In the year of the Lord's incarnation 1241 the Teutonic Order began a winter campaign against the pagan Prussians, who had been despoiling the converted villages. Thus, the Knights of Christ moved to protect the sheep of our Lord. They advanced into pagan territory, putting many of the reprobate Prussians to the sword.

          Many captives were also taken, as the sacred soldiers smote the enemies of God. The surviving pagan encampments were told that if they would renounce the worship of false Gods and join in the fellowship of the true God the captives would be returned. The pagans, though, would listen to nothing about Christianity. The reasons for this reticence soon became manifest.

          -Excerpt from Soldiers of God , by Frederick of Magdeburg


          Iron shod hooves hammered the frozen earth mercilessly. The Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary were on the march once again. When the Knights marched, it was the ground that suffered most.

          The mounted soldiers were almost invisible against the thin layer of fresh snow that carpeted the earth. The Knights and their horses were covered in white cloth, jet black crosses marking the chests and sheilds of the soldiers. The camoflague was completely coincidental. The white represented the spirtual purity of the Knight Brothers, while the Black symbolized their willingness to die for their beliefs. The secular knights that rode with the Order Knights stood out, their colorful family crests looking almost garish against the uniformity and simplicity of the Order's garb.

          The Knights thundered into a valley, the breath of the massive war horses, specially bred for size and strengh, coming in bursts of steam. The Grand Master of the Knights, distinguished by the golden cross instead of black, motioned the warriors to the left. They had spotted pagan scouts in the trees.

          Ehrenburg, the Grand Master, gave the marching orders. The forces would drive the infidel from the forest, into the open. There, they would be easy targets for the knights.

          Armed with little more than sharpened sticks and heavy stones, the animal fur clad scouts fell back through the trees. They would be gathering a tribal army.

          "Forward! Now we avenge their cowardly attacks! Remember, we fight for this!" Ehrenburg held up his sword by the blade, so it looked like a cross. The men cheered, and urged their horses forward, through the sleeping trees of the Prussian winter, their leafless limbs reaching toward the heavens, as though appealing for mercy, a petition that would be ignored.

          The Prussian tribes had indeed consolidated to try to defeat the Knights, but they were still using tactics that were hopelessly ineffective. Armed with stones and crude spears, led by a handful of nobles in light armour and weilding crude iron blades, the natives confronted the knights in front of their settlement, trying to stand against the charge. The ground seemed to shake as the avalanche of white and black flooded out of the forest, smashing everything before it. The pagan forces that weren't hammered into the ground scattered, leaving the encampment unguarded.

          "Imprison the villagers and put the village to the torch!" Ehrenburg watched with satisfaction as the orders were carried out. The pagan warriors lacked the technology to stand against the knights, and he was sure they would soon win over their people. Indeed, several Prussian settlements had already converted, and German settlers were being brought in to speed the process. Complete success seemed inevitable. Ehrenburg watched a group of captives being escorted past him, defeat hanging over them like a cloud. Yes, soon the entire region would be converted. Gott mit uns, thought Ehrenburg, smugly satisified.


          The Eagle Warrior dropped a bulging bag unto the floor of Axayacatl's tent. The white cloth of the bag was stained red. "Hearts of our enemies, sir. They are prepared to accept our rule."

          "Very good. Arrange the meetings." Axayacatl allowed himself a small smile. So far the Feathered Serpent was indeed smiling on him and his soldiers. The resistance they'd encountered resembled something out of his countries distant past, perhaps the time of the Garland Wars. Savages with spears and slings. They had quickly been pushed back by the Aztec riflemen.

          "What do you make of this land, sir?" Tizoc, the Commander of the First Divison of Jaguar Rifles spoke. He was younger than Axayacatl, and perhaps less set in his ways. There were even days when Tizoc wondered if the constant human sacrifices of his people might be somehow wrong, although he was as devoted to Quezatcoatl as any other Aztec.

          "They seem hopelessly backwards. I don't see how we can fail."
          Axayacatl looked down at the bag of hearts, satisfied. Soon the serpent would feast.

          "I'm not so sure, sir. They fought feircely, even agianst our rifles. They sent wave after die. If they could match our weapons..." Tizoc frowned.

          "Now they accept us as rulers, general Tizoc. Soon they will accept the True God, as well." Both men lowered their heads in reverence for a moment.

          "We still don't know what lies further inland...can we be sure this entire continent will be so far gone in the past?" Tizoc looked to Axayacatl almost as a father figure, and was perhaps looking for some reassurance.

          "Why wouldn't it be? Technology trades quickly, you know." There was no denying the logic.

          "You speak the truth..." Tizoc still had his doubts. Everything about this new land seemed so alien...cold, snow, the pale skinned natives.

          "You are dismissed, Tizoc." Axayacatl motioned to the flap of the tent.

          Alone, the Aztec commander opened the stained bag, and gazed at perhaps three dozen hearts. The sickly sweet smell was overpowering, intoxicating. The General poured the contents of the bag on the altar to the feathered serpent. "Accept the sacrifice, mighty Quezatcoatl!" Axayacatl bowed deeply to the altar, silently praying for the continued aid of his Diety. "Look kindly on these offerings."

          The bronze statue of the feathered serpent silently regarded the pile of steaming human hearts, its ruby eyes glistening.


          More to come!
          Last edited by Rotten999; May 6, 2002, 21:49.


          • #6
            Very gruesome, but good, I'm nominating you for the story contest. I can't wait to see what happens next, it's good to see someone else from WI writing here too.
            First Master, Banan-Abbot of the Nana-stary, and Arch-Nan of the Order of the Sacred Banana.
            Marathon, the reason my friends and I have been playing the same hotseat game since 2006...


            • #7
              Yup, but it is quite interesting with all of this gruesomeness. Especially the religious aspect of this story. I especially like the religious aspect


              • #8
                yes a bit gruesome but still a suspenseful story


                • #9
                  haha this is the fourth post with gruesome in it although It is my official request that you ask to join the storywriter's union
                  First Master, Banan-Abbot of the Nana-stary, and Arch-Nan of the Order of the Sacred Banana.
                  Marathon, the reason my friends and I have been playing the same hotseat game since 2006...


                  • #10
                    Author's Note: I thought I was being fairly restrained with the grittier aspects...of course when you have Aztecs AND Germans...


                    Even as the Lord of Creation saw fit to test the faith of Job, so did he visit trials upon the Knights of Christ. The mysterious outlanders quickly proved to be devils wrapped in flesh, debased in the vilest of superstition and corruption, lacking natural affection, and opposed to all goodness. Just as The Philistines threatened the choosen of Jehovah, so did these demons threaten to undo the work of the noble knighthood. Worse, they seemed to be armed and supported by Satan himself, as they challenged the heroic knights with foul sorceries never before seen...

                    -Excerpt from Soldiers of God , by Frederick of Magdeburg


                    In the year 4357 of the Third Creation, the forces of the Republic established a foothold in the New World. The natives were initially tractable to Aztec rule, lacking the technology to stand against the Jagaur Rifles. Indeed, the land seemed ripe for conquest and colonization.

                    Sadly, a strong central authority did exist, and while technologically backward, they would challenge the process of assimilation, protecting themselves in suits of steel, and riding strange creatures...

                    -Excerpt from History of the Aztec Republic, Volume Seven , by Nezahualpilli the Elder.


                    Surtur's mind was wandering in the past. The Prussian warlord had seen his power erode almost overnight, as the outsiders had suddenly come like a plague. They were far more insidious than the worst disease. They had sickened the very mind and morality of his people.

                    Surtur remembered the warnings of the last Shaman of the tribe, the Clan of the White Wolf. Ancient Tyrmin had been the most potent Shaman in generations, gifted with visions of the future. His mind had wandered on the other side, seeing things undreamed of. He had seen fear, threats to the White Wolf clan beyond any they had ever faced. Surtur remembered the Witch Doctor's warnings...that dry voice croaking voice of doom...he had been unimpressed then, still in the prime of his life, as was the tribe. They were the strongest force in the region, recieving tribute from a dozen other tribes. What forces could change their way of life, a way of life that had existed for a hundred generations.

                    Surtur sighed, leaning back in the throne of gray ash wood. It was all symbolic now. Outsiders, clad in steel, weilding blades that cut through the furs of his warriors...trampling them under hoof. He now led the last cadre of resistance in his tribe. Many had already abandoned the Gods for the Crucified God of the outsiders. Those who hadn't had been slain. So much lost.

                    Surter regarded the remains of the White Wolf Clan. One small encampment, miles from their former territory. Only a hard core of warriors, fighting the knights in the swamps and forests...hit and run. Mostly run.

                    "You have a visitor, chief." One of the warriors, a massive man in dirty furs, informed Surtur. He turned to regard the visitor. A small man, dressed in outlandish clothing, his skin a deep bronze color. This strange man was holding some sort of weapon...a steel club? What could this be? Why had the propecies of Tyrmin not spoken of this? Perhaps the Gods had more in store for his people, thought Surtur as he returned to his tent, accompanied by the strange man.


                    Axayacatl was fit to be tied. The colonization efforts had been running smoothly for three months, and suddenly this. A group of Eagle Warriors were returning troubling reports.

                    "We ran, sir. You would have too!" The scout immediately regreted the second sentence. Axayacatl's ceremonial officer's sword lashed out with a flash, severing the scout's head.

                    "Get rid of this!" Axayacatl motioned to an aide, who quickly dragged the corpse away from the officer's tent, cradling the severed head in one arm, leaving a trail of blood on the slowly thawing ground.

                    "Now, let's have this again." Axayacatl handed the soiled blade to another aide, who quickly ran off to have it ritualistically cleansed of the coward's blood by a preist of Quezatcoatl.

                    "They didn't seem to have guns, but they were riding creatures that I've never seen." The head scout shook his head. "They charged us, and we had to scatter. We lost two men...three now." The scout leader struggled to keep the bitterness from his voice.

                    "Some pistol fire discouraged them, and we followed these men to their encampment, at a healthy distance. They have some impressive stone works...we'll need the Engineers." Axayacatl frowned.

                    He wanted to keep the Engineers busy with expanding the Aztec camp, which was fast become a thriving center to which the nearby tribes were drawn, to swear allegiance. Even at the same time, priests were going forth to begin educating the tribal leaders. Two Galleons had returned across the great sea with the news of the invasion...hopefully the government would vote to send more soldiers, and especially more settlers. Now, they had a new problem.

                    "Tell me about these...creatures." The general frowned.

                    "Somehow they have domesticated an unknown animal to serve them. They ride these creatures in battle, it seems."

                    "Ridiculous. War is a man's business. War dogs went out with the first Arquebuses..." Axayacatl stopped short. He'd forgotten he was in a land much more primitive than his homeland. It made sense, he had to admit.

                    "For this disgrace I should put every third Eagle Warrior to death...but I can't afford to waste my men." It was true. The daily sacrifice to the sun was merely a single individual, usually a captured native. Still, the sun came up.

                    "We'll move in force into the area...and bring our Engineers. Enlist the aide of conquered tribes, as well. Perhaps some of their blood can cover your dishonor." Several of the aids hurried from the tent to prepare the march south. The scouts hastily exited, feeling lucky to be alive.


                    Next: The Collision of Worlds!
                    Last edited by Rotten999; May 6, 2002, 21:51.


                    • #11
                      Excellent addition, I hope the updates to the union thread have you posting
                      First Master, Banan-Abbot of the Nana-stary, and Arch-Nan of the Order of the Sacred Banana.
                      Marathon, the reason my friends and I have been playing the same hotseat game since 2006...


                      • #12
                        Well, we finally knew the point of the Aztecs being there now


                        • #13
                          Blessed by the Lord of Creation, the Knights of the Hospital of Saint Mary had never tasted defeat in their campaigns in the Baltic Canaan. However, these successes led to the sin of pride, and Divine Providence saw fit to withdraw his guiding hand. So it came to pass, that the spring of 1242 saw the Knights weighed in the balance, and found wanting.

                          -Excerpt from Soldiers of God , by Frederick of Magdeburg


                          The theology of the more advanced natives, if it can be dignified by calling it such, seemed to center around the most unnatural beliefs and practices. The South-Men openly worshipped a corpse, believing that in the death of another they were sanctified. Still, a number of bizarre demands were made upon them by their dead God, including unnatural beliefs about their bodies and their relation to nature. Clearly Quezatcatl had abadoned these people to their ignorance, to a debased faith that falsely presented the doctrine of sacrifice...

                          -Excerpt from Southern Mythology , by Nezahualpilli the Elder


                          The Teutonic Knights were again on the march, heading North. Reports of the outlanders had gradually been gathered from converted tribes and the Order's own scouts, and it appeared they would be little match for the Knights. Yes, they seemed to control sorceries, but the Knights were now protected. The Bishop of Marrianburg was riding with them, carrying a piece of the True Cross. Certainly this holy relic would protect them from the foul spells of the outlanders...assuming it was black magic, of course.

                          Grand Master Ehrenburg spurred his massive war horse to the front of the Knights, who were flowing over the land like a force of nature, a plague of the Gods, some might say. He could see the forces of the enemy lining up at the opposite side of a massive valley. A sea of yellow grass, gradually coming to life from the winter, separated the two forces. Soon the grass would be nourished.


                          "Now we avenge our families!" Surtur's voice boomed over the chatter of his warriors, demanding attention. "The outlanders have vowed to support us in this battle. We will have vengance!" Surtur screamed a battle cry, one that was returned a hundredfold. Screaming with blood lust, the native Prussians awaited the signal to advance.


                          "Form two lines!" Tizoc shouted the order to the Jaguar Riflemen, who had the honor of starting the battle. Normally the Eagle Warriors would make a probing attack first, but they had been disgraced and had forfeited that honor.

                          Across the valley basin, Order Archers were advancing, weilding longbows and arbalests. It was like looking into the past, thought Tizoc, remembering stories of the Incan conquest and their archers. The German skirmishers were moving on the riflemen, but still well out of their range. The main forces of both sides waited on the opposing lips of the valley, to see how the first contact would resolve. The Jaguar Rifles formed their lines, one standing and one crouching. "Mark your targets...Fire!"

                          The standing men fired, and across the valley the bullets claimed their victims. The clash had begun. "Switch and Advance!" The standing men moved forward and went to a knee to reload, while the crouching men stood. "Fire!"

                          "Switch and Advance!"


                          The Aztecs slowly moved forward, firing almost continuously, shredding the Order Archers. The Archers desperately fired long range shots at the rifles, most of them falling well short, sticking out of the field like quills. A man near Tizoc fell, an arrow buried in his throat to the fletching, making a hideous gurgling noise as he died. The Riflemen kept firing.

                          "Fall back to positions!" The German Knights had seen enough. They began their charge into the valley, as the surviving archers scattered, leaving a grisly pile of dead and dying behind.


                          "There's the signal! Forward! Remember your families!" As the Jaguar Rifles fell back, the natives moved forward. The plan was to draw the knights at them, and then they would be supported by Rifles. At last victory over their blood enemies!

                          Surtur's men took positions at the bottom of the valley, where the riflemen had been. The ground seemed to shake as the knights bore down on them, charging at full speed down the far hill into the bowl of the valley.

                          Surtur waited for rifle support...and waited. Something was wrong...he didn't see any Aztec support anywhere, as the Knights came closer, a mighty charge of flesh and steel. Surtur set his jaw...they'd been betrayed...again. If he was to die, he would die fighting. "Forward!" He shouted as the knights closed to within a hundred feet. Surtur rushed forward, his crude iron sword drawn, ready to die under the hooves of the massive horses. A moment later the first cannonball exploded.


                          Axayacatl watched the battle unfold with the satisfaction of a man seeing a plan come to fruition. He had concealed the Engineer Units and their cannons to the left and right of his main force, on higher ground. He had then created a killing ground, and baited it with the savages. Through his telescope he watched the explosions decimate the Knights and his savage "allies."


                          Ehrenburg had no time to be scared. One moment he was in the saddle, the next the air, and then the ground. He couldn't remember any intermediate moments, just three scenes, and now the pain. He tried to rise, but couldn't. He was still wondering what exactly was happening as he died.


                          "The Cross!" In the horror of the attack, Siegfried was snapped out of stunned horror by the death of the Bishop of Marrianburg before his eyes. An explosion had ripped off most of the upper portion of the Bishop's body, sending the ruined remains crashing from his wounded horse. The True Cross piece could be lost, he realized, and suddenly that was of prinicipal importance, even as explosions and the screams of the dying filled his ears. Acting without thinking, the career squire quickly dismounted, scooped up the piece of The Cross from the bloody ruins of the Bishop, and quicky mounted again and joined the retreat, an undisciplined, panicked retreat, back to the encampment. Siegfried clutched the peice of bloodied wood in a vice grip, urging his terrified horse. Even as he rode out of the valley he could still hear the explosions, and fear flowed over him like ice.


                          "Take the hearts." Axayacatl walked through the battlefield with satisfaction. "Quezatcoatl will feast tonight."

                          Tizoc looked at the bloodstained ground in reverence for the feathered serpent. "A great victory, General." He watched as Eagle Warriors moved amoung the mangled bodies, killing the wounded. Acrid smoke hung over the nightmarish scene.

                          "I would think that's the end of this foolish resistance." Axayacatl surveyed the fresh human meat covering the scortched earth.

                          "Do you think the Natives will stay loyal?" Tizoc still questioned the tactic of using them to draw the enemy, successful though it was.

                          "What choice do they have?" It was cold logic. Slowly the sun set on the battlefield. Tomorrow sacrifices would help it rise.


                          Surtur had managed to escape the slaughter, making him sure that the Gods were protecting him. Blood covered his animal furs, he hadn't escaped unharmed. He would recover, and he silently vowed to avenge the slaughter of his people. Perhaps the Order needed his help...


                          Next: The Aftermath and Reaction
                          Last edited by Rotten999; May 7, 2002, 21:36.


                          • #14
                            very sad, but I doubt the soldiers would have killed the wounded unhesitantly...maybe they might be relucant to fight in the next battle...


                            • #15
                              Civman: They're human sacrificing Aztecs...of course they butcher the wounded! Also, there were only a handful of Aztec casualties (from the first skirmish) so morale is still good.

                              On the other hand the Eagle Warriors have been mistreated of late...a possible wild card?

                              More will be revealed tomorrow!

                              I was considering a Metaliturtle type signature: Author of Knights of the Black Cross: Every chapter has disturbing gore!