Part 23: All Grown Up
"They call it progress. They call it fate!
They call it destiny - this bloated nightmare State!"
"We must stop him, this smiling thieving king
If we don't stop him he'll take everything!
The end of nobility!
The end of crowns!
The end of family!
He wants what's ours!"
"The ties of blood have lead us for thousands of years
Ever since man has crawled out of the slime.
History shows that changing things always ends in tears
And if we have to make them that ain't no fault of mine."
"I AM TIMUR! KING OF KINGS! KHAN OF KHANS!
I'M HERE TO KILL YOU AND TAKE ALL YOUR LANDS!
ALLIANCE? JUST BECAUSE I'M FUCKING YOUR WHORE?
THAT'S NOT GOING TO STOP ME FUCKING YOU ALL!"
"Hey guys, great talk, great feast, but the most terrifying man in history is here to quote fuck me unquote so I've kind of got to bail on this one. Hey, we're cool though, right? You guys don't want to overthrow me any more?"
"Awesome, see you guys later!"
CENTURION FIELD NOTES
6/6/1392: Timurids crossed the border today. Unfortunately they have not adopted the tactic demonstrated by the Ilkhanate in the Second Invasion of distributing their forces to maximise foraging, instead remaining in a single concentrated army. While the Ilkhanate tried to take as much territory as possible, they overextended and were picked off piecemeal. Timur is expecting a pitched battle. Clever of him to adapt to Legion strategies without even seeing us in action; this is indeed a dangerous foe.
#1 Distributed Retaliation: Split the army and occupy territory, taking advantage of the Khan's formation and sow chaos deep in his territory.
#2 Frontal Assault: Use superior logistics to concentrate troops in one point, fight a pitched battle.
#3 Ocean Defence: Lure the Timurids to the ocean and then launch a total oceanic assault from a fortified position.
... As much as I personally hate it, I'm going to recommend strategic response #2 to the commander. The other strategies may win us the fight, even the war, but a single clear unambiguous victory over the Timurids will likely break them for ever.
"Good morning class, this week's lesson is on the Battle of Timerevo. Timerevo was perhaps the defining moment for the Legion of the North and it was the largest single battle in medieval European history. In many ways, it marked the turning of the age.
"It was the clash of worlds and tactics, the ultimate meeting of East and West. The Swedish army was predominately comprised of heavy infantry and fought in extremely immobile line and turtle tactics. The Legion had around 30,000 heavy infantry, 7,000 archers and 5,000 cavalry. In what couldn't be a greater contrast, the Mongols brought 20,000 cavalry and 20,000 auxiliary infantry. The battle went on for over a month, with Legion reinforcements pouring in from the highways constructed for this express purpose. Ultimately the superior training and discipline of the Danish legions shined through..."
They broke. I can't believe it. I'm going to live through this. I'm going to have a home to go back to.
I think I'll sign up for one of those new settlements in Finland; they're giving land away to anyone who puts his hand up for it. Just need to stick around for the mop up but we can do this. We can do this!
In lieu of the money owed to my mercenary company for our service in your failed campaign, I am prepared to take any one of the kingdoms you currently possess. Don't stand up, I'll pick one out myself.
- C Rustem
"I think the most important thing I've learned in this campaign is just to let the Legion do their thing. They've been doing this longer than I have."
Timur sighted SSW 2001L. Division 4 stood and engaged. Successfully stalled for time until Divisions 3 and 5 could join the fight and turn it into a rout.
"I appreciate the thought, but you're a little late on the assist bud."
With the declaration of war from the Seljuk Turks on his southern flank, the Lord of Iron, Timur, greatest warrior of the Steppe finally surrendered to the Legion. A great tithe of gold and treasure was paid to the Empire, and for a moment it seemed that Denmark would have peace.
"I am not a man of blood; and God is my witness that in all my wars I have never been the aggressor, and that my enemies have always been the authors of their own calamity."
So spake Timur as he stood over the ruins of Baghdad as the corpse-fires burned all about him. While the North had proven unbreakable, the South was less so, and the Lord of Iron laid waste to those who thought him weak.
"So hey, guys! I'm back! I didn't even get fucked! And we took out the greatest military mastermind of the century, so -"
ENOUGH! This is where this nightmare ends!
Listen to me, if we were ever friends!
The Legion you've created, it has to stop here
Because if that door stays open there is much to fear.
Honour will die. Limitation will die.
Restraint will die. Chivalry will die.
I see Europe blanketed in corpses
I see entire nations marched to war
I see slaughter on industrial scale
It stops now! No more! No more!"
"... I will not be blackmailed.
"You can't stop this. You can't stop the future."
"Then war it is."
And so it was that the Empire of Denmark was gripped by its first true civil war. The Legion of the North, exhausted and depleted from its long campaign against Timur, began to fight a desperate battle against the angry and disenfranchised aristocracy.
Emperor Sigbjorn was ambushed by the treacherous Dukes at the feast he had announced to hear them out, and received a blow to the head that put him into a deep coma from which he would never awaken.
He gave as good as he got, though - the rebel leader was put in a coma of his own. The First Danish Civil War was commonly referred to as the "Dreamers War" for this reason.
Two Dreams were indeed fighting for superiority here.
One, where the Legion of the North was put back in its box, the State was decentralised, and Feudalism was allowed to reign in Europe again.
The other, where military technology was free to develop as it will, even if that meant opening a path towards the doctrine of total war.
There was no compromise in this battle. Everything else was irrelevant.
But the very nature of the war proved the ideology of the Legion correct. The war went on for seven years, during which the rebels adopted the Legion's techniques of recruiting, training, and mobilisation of the commoners in order to survive. Over the course of the war the nobility became what they despised, telling themselves it was only going to last until they won.
The Legion had superior numbers but had too many fronts to fight on. Naval power was critical in this conflict - without it, the depleted Legion would not have had the mobility to fight a war in Sweden, Prussia and Denmark at the same time.
And sensing weakness, the nations Denmark had spent the past century defeating in war all closed in at the same time.
The Holy Roman Empire and the Poles advanced from the south. The Qadarid Sultanate came in from the East. Everyone wanted a piece of Denmark. Everyone wanted a little payback.
The Legion ignored these foreign threats. It was operating entirely on its own command at this point, not even bothering to set up a regent for the comatose Emperor or pretending they didn't effectively run everything in the Empire.
They just waged the war, wherever it took them.
After all, the Legion had beaten all the foreigners before and would do it again once the dust settled in Denmark.
But the enemy within? This was their one chance to get rid of them forever.
After three years of the Legion de facto running Denmark, the Emperor finally passed away and a new monarch was crowned.
Emperor Fredrik was a puppet ruler and he knew it. Immediately after his coronation, the Legion confined him to his palace 'for security' and proceeded to ignore him while they continued to conduct their campaign.
Terrified by this development, the rebels offered a white peace which the Legion duly ignored. The rebels had feared the Legion as a wing of the Empire's service but they'd never considered the horror of the Legion openly ruling Denmark.
It was too late to put that genie back in its bottle, though. By trying to limit the Legion's power, the rebels had strengthened it immeasurably.
The final few battles of the campaign were waged in Sweden, where the last rebel holdouts and mercenary companies were wiped out to the last.
The Legion crossed yet another line when the High Council noticed that the heir to the throne was an open Cathar.
Without so much as a letter to the Emperor, they locked him up and forced him to recant at swordpoint. And then they turned him loose on the street like he didn't even matter.
This open disrespect to the Royal Family was too much. The last heir to the Hvide line fled to Gotland.
And there, he rallied the merchants of the trade republic and threw his lot in with the rebels. The Legion had to be stopped at any cost.
Far too little, far too late.
The rebels were crushed, and in 1399, seven years after the war had been declared, they surrendered. Every single noble Duke who had supported the rebellion was imprisoned. Those who had remained loyal were either Legionnaires themselves or were terrified of the Legion's power and control.
One final invasion of the Republic of Gotland was launched. The Last Hvide put up a valiant fight.
But the monster was off its chain.
The battle was conclusive.
The town was besieged, and surrendered four weeks later.
It was over.
Denmark was at peace.
And the prisons were stocked with the realm's entire aristocracy.
The Emperor was under house arrest. The heir was in prison. All the Dukes were in prison.
The Legion of the North, who had fought for Denmark for over a hundred years without peace, had finally earned their prize and payment. The common rabble had triumphed over the scheming nobility.
Denmark was theirs.