The Let's Play Archive

Medieval II: Total War - A Scotsman In Egypt

by Jerusalem

Part 35: A Scotsman In Egypt - Chapter 34

Aodh Canmore sat in his tent reviewing notes carefully, squinting his eyes as he read of alliances, troop movements and diplomatic overtures. It hurt his brain to try and make sense of it all, he had never been tutored in the intricacies of diplomacy and politics, and it had been accepted since he was a child that he would join the Church, but events had transpired to prevent that from happening. Now he found himself in a position where he MUST make himself useful to his brother, King Domnall, but it was so hard.

For example, why had Portugal offered Alliance with Scotland but then insulted them by demanding an unreasonably high annual tribute? Then in turn acted offended when Scotland refused the demand? What purpose did it serve Portugal? Why gain Scotland's attention AND ire? It made no sense.

"Portugal's Spy Network has found itself hindered by Scotland's Milanese campaign," spoke a rasping voice, and Aodh jerked to his feet in shock, twisting around to find a hooded figure standing inside his tent, unannounced by the guards,"It seeks to aggravate Scotland into revealing its long term plans, as well as how that may affect Portugal both directly and indirectly."

"Who the hell are ye!?!" demanded Aodh angrily, hand on his sword hilt.

"Scotland's greatest friend and servant," replied the man, and Aodh's eyes widened and his hand loosened on the hilt. He knew that phrase! But that was impossible, the only man outside he, Domnall and Nectan who knew it was dead!

"Be seated," smiled the hooded man,"I have a story to tell ye."


Duke Puccio had a young man in his private quarters in the middle of the night, but for once his reasons for doing so were not scandalous.

Count Maria was only 17 years old, still more boy than man, but Puccio had chosen him from the now relatively small Royal Family as heir to the rule of Milan. Puccio's reasons had been the same as the reasons that had seen others in the family look down on Maria. He was a careful young man who questioned everything and never committed himself to a course of action until he had satisfied himself he knew all the variables. He was thin and pale, and had been known to faint at the sight of blood as a boy, which caused many to whisper that he was unmanly, but Puccio saw that as an asset. A man who feared his own death would do all he could to avert it.

"See here, Maria," Puccio muttered, pointing to the map on the desk between them,"Scotland has taken Genoa, what does that tell you?"

"That they have split our forces at Marseilles from our forces here in Milan," mused Maria,"Preventing either from reinforcing the other. It also serves as a message, Scotland is telling us they can attack from any point at any time, and it is designed to make us scared."

"Not bad, but you give Scotland utterly too much credit," smirked Puccio, who had fled quickly from Genoa when he had spied the Scottish Fleet, leaving it to be captured easily by King Domnall,"You must make advantage from disadvantage to successfully rule, let me tell you what I see."

"WE hold Marseilles and Milan, and Genoa is trapped between us," he grunted, poking Genoa on the map with his finger,"Domnall Canmore knows we can ride against him from two sides while his reinforcements must come through the mountains from Dijon. I will admit he caught me by surprise, sailing up on Genoa as he did, but all he has done had strengthened his bargaining position. Let him celebrate in Genoa, and then I will send emissaries to broker a ceasefire with him. Now that the actual King of Scotland is on our lands, we can address someone both in authority AND competent enough to make the best decision for both our Empires."

Maria frowned, considering this take on things. It made sense... but then everything Puccio said made sense, and always seemed designed to greatly benefit Milan... but these last two years had shown that Puccio was not always right, and sometimes to the great detriment of Milan. But it was not his place to question the Duke, besides which Milan was a city that seemed siege-proof, its massive outer and inner-wall system and forbidding ballista towers could hold off a massive army for years successfully. But that left Marseille, whic-

A knock at the door disturbed his thoughts, and Puccio sighed before calling for the messenger to enter.

"My Lord, dire news," whispered the pale looking messenger, bowing respectfully,"Marseilles has fallen!"

"WHAT!?!" roared Puccio, striding over to the panting messenger and tearing his scroll from him. He unrolled it and read quickly, eyes narrowing dangerously,"That fool Agostino has lost Marseilles! Dougall Macdonchie rode west around the mountains and came on him unawares..... Milan is naught but Milan now!"

"Father?" gasped Maria, dismay in his eyes. His father Agostino the Chivalrous had been left in command of Marseilles, and the idea that the invincible old man could be dead...."Surely he is not dead?"

"No, he grew wings on his arse and flew to the moon.... of course he's dead you buffoon!" snapped Puccio angrily,"This changes everything! We mus-"

"FATHER!" wailed Maria, and stumbled out of the room past the startled messenger.

"Bah!" grunted Puccio, the glared at the messenger,"You are to instruct my advisors to meet with me in the morning to discuss plans for the defence of the city, while I try to find a diplomatic solution to this nightmare."

The messenger left, and Puccio worked on for several more hours reviewing his plans, before finally, reluctantly, retiring to bed to get the bare minimum of sleep he needed. An hour later he was awoken by a new messenger, this one reporting even worse news than before.

Count Maria - the fool - had mistaken his grief for valor, and gathered an army to march on and meet King Domnall's forces head on.


"There was a boy once, who grew up in a place far from here called Shetland,"spoke the hooded man,"He had nae Father, and his Mother died when he was young, so he learned to live on the streets. He had nimble feet and fingers, but a nimble mind too, and there were people who took note of the boy, and took him in, and tutored and mentored him, and gave him a family. He grew into a man, and he left Shetland, and he did things for his family, and it was explained to him that his family had an even bigger family, an Empire in fact, an Empire they served and protected. So the man travelled in service and protection of the Empire, and he saw things that no boy or man in Shetland would ever expect to see. He travelled the gutters and the slums, the homes of commoners and nobles, the most glorious palaces and forbidding castles in the world. He learnt to be more nimble, with his feet, his fingers, and most importantly his mind, and he began to study under a man... a great man, who sent him on missions for the Empire, and told him how the family worked, and told him the family would one day need a new father.... and then the man from Shetland was sent on one final mission."

Aodh stared in wonder at the hooded man, whose words had a hypnotic effect. Realizing that he was in an almost trance like state, he sat up straight and shook his head, and was rewarded with a wide grin from within the shadows of the hood. Standing, Aodh walked around the tent, noting that the hooded man never moved from his chair, even when Aodh was behind him. The young Prince stopped by the small "package" that was the reason for his current trip towards Cairo and felt the familiar pain, and winced angrily, fighting it back. Turning around, he motioned to the hooded man to continue.

"He was sent to Caesarea to spy on the Turks, war was coming between them and the Empire. He did his duty there, and sent his reports back to the Family, and then something happened... the man from Shetland finally found something that his nimble feet, his nimble fingers and his nimble mind could nae escape.

The man from Shetland found the plague."

The hooded man stepped up and bowed to Aodh.

"That is enough for today, tomorrow ye will continue towards Cairo, and in the evening, I will continue our story."

Turning, the hooded men left the tent silently, and Aodh's eyes returned to the "package". Once again, he felt the familiar pain, but this time he let it wash over him.


Domnall flexed his arms and legs carefully, noting that they felt relaxed, they felt strong.

The sack of Genoa had been taxing for him despite the ease with which they'd taken the city. His recovery from the plague was still fresh in his mind, though every day faded the intensity of the pain and desperation he'd felt.

His vision of his Father had served to remind him that Turkish mercenaries had travelled with the Scottish Fleet, and that Turkey had been dealing with the plague for far longer than Scotland. Thus it stood to reason they knew more than Domnall's own physician about treatment, and so it had proved. The Turkish soldier dragged to Domnall's side had been no Doctor, but he served to keep his own unit healthy and had been able to offer advice to Dr Kinsey.

The Doctor had been taken aback at the Turk's insistence that the plague was not transferred through the air but by blood, and blanched at the idea of lancing the boils on Domnall's body. The Turk - al-Antaki - had insisted it was necessary to remove the "bad" blood from Domnall's body, but warned that this could also spread the infection if not drained correctly. Believing he was near dead regardless, Domnall had insisted they follow al-Antaki's suggestion, and endured hours of pain as the Turk and the Scottish Doctor lanced the boils on his body and drained the thick, black blood that oozed forth. Passing out through a combination of pain, fever, thirst and hunger, Domnall had spent the next few days in a bizarre "waking death" during which he sometimes babbled loudly, sometimes whispered harshly, and sometimes lay so still that he appeared dead at a casual glance. Then, several days after he had first called for al-Antaki, Domnall woke feeling tired, sore, hungry, thirsty..... but not sick.

Now, here he sat on his horse feeling as fit as ever, even if he had still not regained the weight loss during his sickness. Before him stretched a vast army of Scotsmen, and the sun shone, the grass was green, the sky was blue and there was an army of Milanese waiting to die at his hands.

"Life is good," grinned Domnall,"ALL RIGHT LADS! WHO'S UP FOR A BRAWL!?!"

Count Maria watched as the vast Scottish army marched towards them, and not for the last time found himself regretting his uncharacteristically brash decision to meet Domnall on the field. But it was too late now for second thoughts, and more in keeping with his character was his decision to use the land and the units available to him to his best advantage. The slope they stood on was slight, but still gave them the upper ground, and he had assembled handgunners on the frontline to open fire on the Scottish as soon as they were in range. The armor of the Scottish soldiers would be no match for their guns, and they would die in their scores, perhaps their hundreds before the reached the frontline. At that point, the handgunners would have pulled back to allow infantry to engage the Scottish, and they could then reform and open fire from a distance again. Everything depended on range, if you could attack your enemy before they could attack you, you could win the battle no matter how insurmou-

Maria's mounted bodyguard stared in horror at the flaming corpse besides them that had been their General. The Scottish had fired their cursed bombards and scored a direct hit, the blast smashing directly into Maria and making him the first casualty of the battle.

"OPEN FIRE!" roared a Milanese Captain desperately at the handgunners.

"WE CAN'T SEE THEM!" cried the Handgunner Captain, watching in horror as the front row of Scottish Infantry walked into range - and immediately into a dip in the ground that obscured them from view! Maria had been looking at the landscape for ways Milan could use it for offence and defence, he had never considered how the land could in turn be used to Scotland's advantage. As the Scottish Infantry reached the dip and held their ground - forming a long line across the width of the battlefield - the Scottish Archers moved up behind them just out of range of the Handgunners and fired high into the air with flaming arrows. Their arrows arced high, not constrained by a direct line-of-sight requirement, and then plunged down amongst the Milanese.

"Shit... shit.... SHIT!" screamed the Captain of the Milanese Knights,"This is all going to shit.... shit.... CHARGE! CHARGE!"

With no thought of tactics, flanks or strategy, the Milanese charged into the waiting Scottish, who roared with delight and egged them on, eager to kill.

Without strategy, it was simply a few hundred Milanese against over a thousand Scottish, and the difference in quantity told as much as the difference in quality. The Scottish tore through the Milanese, who held desperately and then broke, running wildly in different directions, losing all coherence and becoming nothing more than a series of small groups of running men, all completely exposed to the Scottish to pick off at their will. A small core of the Milanese tried to hold their formation at the top of the slope, but their resistance was short-lived as the Scottish swept up the slope and over them, Domnall sweeping his cavalry over the ground and smashing into fleeing Milanese, wiping them out where they stood.

Looking over the battlefield from a safe distance, Duke Puccio sighed as he watched the massacre.

"My Lord, shall we ride to the aide of our countrymen?" asked the Commander of his Bodyguard. Puccio and his men were suited up, and he had 600 men who could ride with him.

"I hardly see why we should bother," grunted Puccio,"The battle is lost, the Scottish have decimated them."

"But Count Mar-" started the Commander.

"Will riding in there bring him back to life, hmm?" asked Puccio testily,"No? Then what is the point, we return to Milan and we make ready for King Domnall to come lay siege, and maybe I can finally make a diplomatic solution to this entire stupid mess."


"The man from Shetland stumbled feverishly through the forests South of Caesarea," whispered the hooded man. Aodh had travelled through the day towards Cairo along with his "package", and then at night as he retired to his tent he had found the hooded man waiting, unseen the entire day,"He knew he was sick, and he knew what his sickness was, and his only thought was to get clear of Turkish land so that when his body was found, it did nae give away the plans of his Empire."

"The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak, and the man from Shetland collapsed in the forest, his last conscious act to be to destroy or bury any items on his person that marked him as an agent of his Empire. When he awoke, he found himself a small hut, being cared for a Turkish woman who had nae fear of the plague. She treated him, and soothed him in the dark days that followed as he felt fever and pain wash over him.... I would describe it as best I could, but only a man who has suffered the horror can ever truly understand."

Aodh's eyes strayed to the "package", then returned to the hooded man. He nodded, and the man continued.

"She nursed him to health, and finally the fever broke, and he began to recover his strength, and take note of his surroundings. She was a widow, her husband died in the war with the Mongols, and she had two children, a boy named Deniz and a girl named Ceren. Her name was Aylin, and she explained she lived in forest clearing because she and her children had suffered the plague and been cast out. She buried another son there, but the others survived, and together they turned their hut into a new home, and rebuilt their lives."

"Finally the man from Shetland felt strong enough to make his way back to his Empire, but first he felt it only just that he remain to help Aylin and her children. He did repairs on their home, and gave Deniz lessons in fighting, and taught Ceren how to dance. He hunted for them, and helped Aylin tend her garden, and when he had done all he could, he told Aylin he would be leaving. She understood, and thanked him for remaining as long as he had, and then she made a terrible mistake.... she told the man from Shetland she would nae tell anyone the strange things he said in his fever-dreams, and he learnt that in his sickness he had spoken words meant only for his Family. Words in code true, words that any other would nae understand... but words that should nae have been spoken."

"And what did y... what did the man from Shetland do then?" asked Aodh.

"He made it quick," replied the hooded man, his voice calm and emotionless,"And as he left the burning remains of the hut, he looked up and saw a man watching him. He approached the man, and bowed his head, and the man spoke to him."

"Wha... what did he say?" asked Aodh.

"Fearghus Campbell told me then," said Nevin of Shetland, pulling back his hood and staring directly into Aodh's eyes with his own terrible, cold ones,"That when he died, I would serve the Scottish Empire."

"I knew it when ye said that phrase about being Scotland's protector," smiled Aodh,"Ye are Scotland's new Spymaster."

"Nae, my lord," smiled Nevin, his eyes remaining dead and emotionless,"I am the Spy that serves as conduit between the Spy Network and the Spymaster. Fearghus and ye Father decided long ago that the next to be in charge of the Spy Network they created must be intimately associated with the Royal Family, to prevent any possibility of betrayal."

"Then... who is the Spymaster?" asked Aodh, perplexed.

Nevin walked to the table where Aodh's "package" sat and stroked one finger down its side. Lifting it almost reverently, he turned and held Nectan Canmore's urn - containing the ashes of Domnall's twin and Aodh's elder brother, dead of a plague bought to Antioch by Aodh. This was the pain that Aodh felt whenever he looked at the "package" he was carrying to Cairo to bury alongside his Father and Uncle. The pain of guilt, the pain of mourning, the pain of survival. He had suffered the plague as well, but he had lived where Nectan had died.

"Nectan Canmore was Spymaster of the Scottish Empire," Nevin explained,"And now that he is dead, Aodh Canmore, it is my job to make ye his replacement."


The city of Milan was not as huge and daunting as Rome, London or Paris, but it was an impressive city nonetheless. Huge walls were merely the first of many defences, which included massive ballista towers and an inner courtyard past the city gates with a second interior wall behind it . The streets of the city were built narrow and forked, with no central street leading up towards the palace. Any invading force that broke through would be forced to ride a few at a time, and could easily be isolated from the main force and whittled down.

Puccio was convinced that this would not be necessary, however. The Scottish army would not be able to get close to the walls without scores of men being killed by crossbowmen, handgunners and the giant ballista towers. Even if they then broke through the gate, they would have to fight in the interior courtyard, and Puccio was convinced that no one would be mad enough to lose potentially a thousand men when a simple diplomatic overture could end this.

Oh it was true that Scotland had "won" the war, Puccio didn't doubt that. But there were different degrees of victory, and as long as there was breath in his body, Milan would continue on. He would probably have to agree to make Milan vassal to Scotland, and maybe offer up his new heir - Borgognion Florioli - as a "hostage", but in the end the Scottish would depart Milan and he would be left in control as he always had been. He was in his sixties now, but those of his family who died of natural causes tended to live a good long time, and he had potentially another thirty years worth of life to rebuild Milan into the force it had once been.

"Mark my words, Borgognion," he chuckled, sitting his horse in the courtyard at the centre of the city,"The Scottish will ride up just outside of the ballista towers range and make a great show of their numbers, their valor, their might. Then our diplomats will ride forth and put an end to this "siege" without a single drop of blood being spilt.

It was not the first time Puccio was wrong about Scotland, but as they watched the flaming bombard fire arc through the air and come smashing against the ballista towers, Borgognion could not help but wonder if this was Puccio's last.

Word spread back quickly to Puccio from the walls as bombard fire pounded the ballista towers. The Scottish infantry was charging up towards the gates, which was surely a suicide charge except... the gates had opened!

"How is this possible!?!" despaired Borgognion.

"They have a spy inside the walls, you idiot," sighed Puccio,"Do you think they just asked nicely and our guards opened the doors for them?"

"Let's get this farce over with then, shall we?" sighed Puccio,"Borgognion, send some men forward to meet the Scottish and kill a few of them, I guess Canmore wants to spill some blood first."

Borgognion stared at his frustratingly calm Duke, then saluted and gave the order, sending a small group of men to their certain death. As they marched off, word reached Puccio that several smaller Scottish units were breaking off to move through the narrow side streets of Milan and prevent ambushes.

"Let's accommodate and lay some ambushes, hmmm?" chuckled Puccio, seemingly bemused,"Send some men in Borgognion, give the Scottish their blasted battle."

The Scottish tore through the Milanese easily, as Puccio had known they would, and continued their relentless march onwards towards the City Square.

"They're coming at us from two sides!" gasped Borgognion.

"Oh no!" Puccio mock-gasped, sarcastically flailing his arms about,"Who would have thought it!?! Of course they are, you idiot, wait here to be captured, that's when the real battle begins, to see what concessions I can wring from Domnall before he leaves me in charge of my city and claims his "victory".

"Are you mad!?!" snapped Borgognion,"Domnall Canmore isn't coming to negotiate, he's coming to KILL US!"

"Are you dense, boy, hmmm?" grunted Puccio,"Do you really think Domnall Canmore wants to be forced to leave one of his Generals and a huge army to make sure Milan is kept in check, so far as it is from their centres of control? Hidden as it is behind mountains, creating such potential for rioting, rebellion and overthrow? You are the mad one, boy, if you think Domnall Canmore will kill the one man who can keep it in control."

"ARRRGHHH!" snapped Borgognion in frustration, and turned his horse and spurred it forward towards the road leading into the square, up which the Scottish were even now marching. As he rode, more Scottish pushed up into the square from the South road, and Milanese charged forward to meet them, fighting furiously for their survival.

"Fine, die then," sighed Puccio,"Idiots."

"Duke Puccio," snapped the commander of his mounted Bodyguard as the Duke watched his men being slaughtered by the Scottish,"It seems grim, the Scottish look set to win this battle."

"Noooo!" gasped Puccio, rolling his eyes,"You don't say."

"Duke, it has been an honor to serve under you, you made Milan great," said the Commander with a salute, then turned his horse.

"What?" snapped Puccio,"What are you doing? NO! NO YOU IDIOTS!"

It was too late, the commander led the men forward and they crashed against the Scottish front, smashing their way through before becoming surrounded and dragged from their horses and put to the sword.

"What was the point of that," sighed Puccio,"Fools, now I will have to break in a new bodyguard."

He sat and watched impassively on his horse as the last remaining Milanese were wiped out, and all that was left were the Scottish. They filed into the square from the Southern and Eastern roads, a seemingly endless swarm of them, and then they parted down the middle and Puccio grinned cruelly as he saw the banner and watched Domnall Canmore ride slowly into the city square of Milan, a city the fool now probably believed was his.

"Time to get this over with, then," sighed Puccio, and kicked his horse into a slow march. It paced slowly down the square towards Domnall, who lifted an arm to restrain his men, and then slowly rode forward to meet his fellow ruler.

"King Domnall Canmore, Ruler of the Scottish Empire," smiled Puccio with a winning grin as their horses stopped beside each other,"Milan surrenders."

In one fluid motion, Domnall pulled his sword clear off it's scabbard and parted Puccio's head from his shoulders. It rose high in the air and then crashed to the ground, Puccio's body following moments later as it dropped from his horse, which remained still. In the silence that followed, Domnall wiped his sword clean and spat on the corpse of the man lying on the ground before him, before answering Puccio's surrender.

"Scotland accepts."