Hey, it's the third installment! Sorry for the delay, I wanted to do a Medieval II: Total war one but I had to get an idea first.
All right, this might be really sensitive to some, so lemme get this out first: I am not bashing, or offending an religion here. It's all in the name of writing and author's imagination. So don't kill me.
It was a religious war unlike any other. The medieval war was thrown into chaos, with every nation in perpetual war with each other for nearly ten years. Europe and Asia had been split into three main powerful alliances. The Papal States led the Catholic nations of England, France, the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary and Denmark.
In the east, Kievan Rus and the Byzantine Empire allied with each other, being the only Orthodox nations in the known world. Though their armies were terribly outnumbered, the Russians of Kievan Rus had the advantage of the horrendously cold winters of Russia and their extensive land to fall back upon. The Byzantines easily had one of the most powerful navies of the world and could easily land troops wherever they wanted, unopposed.
In the middle east and northern Africa, the Moors, Egyptians, Turks, Timurids and Mongols formed a massive, powerful and advanced alliance. They had the advantage of surprise and nature was on their side. For any nation to invade their lands, they had to cross the Mediterranean, except for the Byzantines, who shared a common border with the Turks. Also, almost none of the European powers had been in combat with the Middle Eastern and Asian powers, and so had no idea of their capabilities.
All three alliances were against each other. However, during the ten years of warfare, little had changed. The borders had not moved an inch despite all the bloodshed. The holy crusade against Jerusalem led by the Papal States had stalled outside the city walls, the defending Egyptians refusing the surrender. Aside from the little expedition, the Middle Eastern powers were completely unscathed.
However, unknown to any of the two other alliances, the Middle Eastern powers were building up and mobilizing their forces. The Timurids and Mongols had began moving their forces westwards, the Mongols heading for the Byzantine-Turkish border and the Timurid forces heading to aid the besieged Egyptians at Jerusalem.
Now, General Javed Baraz of the Timurid Dynasty and his army crested a sand dune, looking down at the desert plains around Jerusalem. The crusading Papal army had surrounded the city. Baraz wasn't stupid. He knew that if the Pope had dared to send a force to aid the crusades, there had to be a stronger, foreign army backing them up. His bet was that it was either an English or French army, since Baraz had heard from Turkish spies that Poland, Hungary, and the Holy Roman Empire was busy with the Russians. Also, the Moors reported that Portugal and Spain had dedicated large amounts of troops against them.
Hmm...Maybe we should head there next. Baraz mused absentmindedly, then shifted his attention back to the task at hand. They were to aid the Egyptians by mounting an attack on the Papal army. Another Egyptian army would handle the English. The Timurid General studied the scene. The opposing army was not exactly formidable, but Baraz would only judge when they were in combat. The Papal army was composed on mainly dismounted Chivalric knights, along with a handful of Italian militia, armored sergeants and Pavise crossbowmen to augment them. The only thing that concerned Baraz were the large number of Papal guard units in the army. If what he heard was right, they were fierce, fanatical and generally dangerous foes.
Still, he believed that his numerically superior army would easily crush them. He had four units of Sabadar militia, archers skilled in both ranged and hand-to-hand combat. The bulk of his army comprised of dismounted heavy lancers. As deadly on foot as they were on horses. For cavalry, he had two units of Mongol heavy horse archers and the Khan's guard each. The Khan had given Baraz command of two units of the royal guard cavalry as a victory at Jerusalem would open them up to Egyptian ports. And from there, an invasion of Europe would follow.
Now, all Baraz had to do was to wait for the Egyptian messenger. The two armies had to attack at the same time, otherwise either of the enemy armies could easily reinforce each other and repel the attacks. In the meantime, the general arranged his troops. He moved them up and down the sand dune, placing them in extreme arrow shot of the Papal army, but still out of sight.
The Sabadar militia stood at the front, with orders to fall back should the Papal army rush to meet them. Behind the archers stood the heavy lancers, placed in one long continuous row in order to quickly counter an attack anywhere. The cavalry units took the flanks, one heavy archer unit and one guard unit per flank.
Baraz was behind the dismounted lancers. His own bodyguard would act as a reserve, in case one of his flanks would break. If that happened, he would personally lead his bodyguards in an attack to repel the enemy.
The Egyptian messenger arrived soon enough, the hooded rider reaching the general and telling him that the Egyptian army was marching to battle. Baraz nodded and dismissed the messenger. He promptly began his journey back to his own lines. The Timurid general looked over the enemy. They were still relaxed, not knowing of the terrible storm that would soon be unleashed on them.
Perfect. He thought with a thin smile, and without any hesitation, gave the order for the attack to commence.
Navid Sharihya heard the shout of his general for the attack to begin. He stood in the third row of his Sabadar unit, and so had to aim high to avoid hitting his friends in the second row. He pulled the arrow back as far as he could and released it. Hundreds of arrows flew into the sky before slowly arching down upon the Papal army. They never saw it coming. In an instant, the projectiles rained on them, killing anyone who wasn't in a tent or under some sort of shelter.
Navid could hear the shouts of confusion, which only proved how close they were to the enemy. He readied another arrow and waited for his friends to load their weapons. In order for their attack to be successful, they had to fire a whole barrage. Individually, arrows fired form such an extreme range rarely did any good.
Another barrage followed, barely seconds after the first wave struck. The Italians had no idea where they were being attacked from, but Navid doubted it would stay that way for long. The Italians were still gathering their troops when the third barrage impacted.
"Use fire!" the general yelled, loud enough to be heard by all the archers. They reached for a quiver slung on their hips, this one containing cloth-covered arrows. A torch was passed down the lines, allowing each archer to light the tips of their arrows on fire. The loaded their weapons, pulled the string taut and released the deadly projectile. However, a torch had to be passed down the lines every time they reloaded in a time consuming process, and so they couldn't produce the same volume of fire as they did with unlit arrows.
But, the slow reload was more then compensated by the damage the flaming arrows caused. Once they struck a tent, it was immediately consumed in flames, dooming anyone inside to a fiery death unless they got out in time. And also they lit anyone struck by it on fire, provided they were not wearing plate armor like the chivalric knights. That made it useful as a psychological weapon as well. No one liked to see their brother-in-arms dying a slow and painful death.
At last, the Papal army saw their attackers, a patch of black and grey standing out among the brown sands of the desert. The crossbowmen were the first to move, taking up positions to open fire with their powerful crossbows. The Timurid archers shifted their sights to the enemy missile infantry. A rain of arrows descended on them, killing the unprepared crossbowmen. Had their backs been turned, the shield strapped to them would have protected them from harm, but the barrage of arrows took them completely by surprise.
"Douse your flames, hit them as fast as you can!" The General ordered. Navid and his unit switched back to the arrows contained in the quiver strapped to their backs. Another torrent of arrows was released.
However, the Papal crossbowmen had gotten into position and opened fire with their powerful weapons. The man next to Navid went down with a scream as a bolt penetrated his light armor and killed him. Navid froze for a moment, stricken with fear. As an archer, deaths were rare as they were rarely deployed to places where they would take casualties. Then, he shook his head, clearing it. I must steel myself, He told himself. Then I can avenger his death.
The Mongol horse archers didn't need any ordering. They saw that the Sabadar militia were in trouble and quickly rode out to harass the enemy crossbowmen before their melee infantry got into position to protect them. The cavalrymen rode swiftly before releasing the reins of their horses, standing up slightly and opening fire. The arrows flew straight and true, striking the crossbowmen in their unprotected sides. The quickly reloaded before firing again.
The crossbowmen were losing too much men for them to operate efficiently. Quickly, they withdrew, not routing, but simply withdrawing to wait for the opportunity to strike again, allowing the melee infantry to advance and attack. The horse archers fired a single volley, this one aimed at the Papal guards which were at the front, before retreating back to Timurid lines. Their arrows thinned out the guard unit's lines.
Navid silently thanked the Mongol archers. He loaded another arrow, aimed slightly lower now that his targets were slightly lower and released the projectile. The arrows bounced off the metal armor of the knights and Papal guards, with a few lucky hits in the unprotected heads of the guards. The majority of the arrows were aimed at the lightly armored Italian militia, killing scores of men. This prompted the Papal army to quicken their pace, charging straight for the Timurids.
The Sabadar, seeing that the enemy was much too close for comfort, quickly ran behind the heavy lancers, who were bracing for the coming impact. The knights and guards were the first to meet the wall of spears, the unlucky ones impaling themselves on the weapons. The lancers pulled their weapons out of the corpses and entered open combat.
Shahin Ardarshir ducked to avoid the sword of a knight, then pushed hard with his small round shield, knocking his enemy back, the swung low with his spear, knocking the knight off his feet. He took three big steps forward and plunged his spear into the neck of the the enemy soldier, the one weak point of the suit of armor. He raised his shield, blocking a chop to his head and stabbed forward blindly with his spear. His attacker jumped back, dodging the attack. Shahin looked up, and saw that his attacker was another knight. He swung to the side, avoiding a stab to his stomach and lashed out with the blunt end of his spear, catching the knight in the head. Before his opponent could recover, Shahin stabbed his weapon straight into the neck of the knight, just like before.
The archers continued firing, aiming for the mass of Papal troops that had yet to enter combat. Arrows fell on them, killing dozens, and yet they kept coming. The armored sergeants and militia pushed forward, making the crush even worse on the knights. They were pressed so tightly against one another that they barely had room to raise their arms to attack. This was made worse by the rapid attacks made by the Timurid lancers. Despite their name, the Heavy Lancers weren't exactly clothed in heavy armor. After all, there was only so much weight a horse could take. The faster, more maneuverable lancers easily avoided the slow attacks of the fatigued knights.
Also, nature was on their side. The hot afternoon sun of the desert baked the earth, and the metal suits of armor the knights wore acted like a personal oven. The heat was unbearable and stifling, making their breathing difficult. Every swing, lunge or chop they did drained their dwindling strength, making them easy kills for the lancers, who had grown up in the desert, and was thus more or less immune to the heat.
The armored sergeants took the place of the dead knights, fighting tooth and nail with their large shields and spears. However, they suffered the same shortcomings as the knight, though not as serious, as their helmets didn't have faceplates and so they had an easier time breathing. Shahin blocked a stab and pushed back, temporarily stunning the sergeant. The Timurid warrior wasted no time and closed in on his enemy, swinging his shield in a wide arc. The thin edge of the shield smashed into the neck of the sergeant, breaking the neck and crushing the windpipe.
The lancer turned around quickly and jabbed his spear high, catching another sergeant in the face, without missing a beat, he kicked the body away and swung it in a wide arc around him, forcing several enemy soldiers back. Around him, his comrades yelled a war cry as they began to push the Papal army back to their camp. The Pavise crossbowmen of the Christian army could do little. Either they fired indiscriminately and killed their own friends along with some of the enemy, or they did nothing. They chose the latter, as killing an ally was considered a crime in the army. They were far away from the battle, taking up positions on a sand dune, believing it to be safe.
Their safety was not to last. The guard horses of the Timurids were dispatched to hunt down the crossbowmen and ensure they were no longer a threat. Leaving unseen, they trotted at a brisk pace towards the sand dune where the enemy were. Once they were in range, they lowered their lances and charged forward, one unit taking them from both flanks, trapping the crossbowmen in the middle of a bloody melee, the one thing they were unprepared for.
White-uniformed troops were trampled underneath the hooves of the horses or were stabbed clean through by the sharp and deadly lances. The weight of the horses and their riders combined also crushed some of the enemy soldiers. The crossbowmen had enough and tried to escape. A few of them managed to find their way out of the melee and run towards the English army, not knowing that they were being driven away from the walls by an Egyptian army.
Those who failed to run away were massacred. Once the last soldier fell, the cavalrymen turned around. The enemy might be being driven back, but they still had a lot of depth to their army, only a small portion were facing the Timurids at any one time. The guard horses decided to put a change to that. They set off towards the enemy's rear.
Arrows flew into the melee from all directions. Those that fell from above into the rearguard of the enemy were fired by the Sabadar militia. Those from the sides were fired by the Mongol horse archers. The enemy wasn't going to hold out any longer. They quickly broke off contact, running back to their camp to take up a more defensive position with their depleted army. Shahin and the rest of the lancers quickly gave chase, yelling at the top of their lungs with the most fearsome expression of their faces they could muster.
They made contact with the retreating knights and sergeants. The Italian militia, being lighter armored, managed to run away faster than the rest of their army. Shahin stabbed his spear into the chest of the first sergeant he encountered. Around him, the Timurids smashed into the enemy, killing anyone that stood in their way. Shahin used the end of his spear to smash an enemy in the ribs, forcing him to turn, then twisted his spear around and stabbed him under the arm. The spear entered and exited through the neck. He pulled the weapon out, just in time to parry a blow from a knight.
Navid readied another arrow and opened fire with the rest of his unit. After the lancers had advanced, they had received orders to move location to one of the sand dunes facing the western flank of the enemy. They crouched low on the small mound of sand and opened fire with deadly accuracy. They were running out of arrows, but it didn't worry them. Unlike the European archers they had faced before, they were well versed in the art of hand-to-hand combat with their axes and short swords.
The guard horses stood sentinel some distance away from the camp, waiting for the enemy to come to them, rather than they go to the enemy. Once the retreating militia were within charging range, they rushed forward, lances level and ready. The militia saw the horses advancing on them and tried to run the other way, but they only ran into the comrades. Within seconds, the horses made contact. The militia took heavy losses as their light armor did little to protect them from the powerful weapons of the Timurid guardsmen.
Shahin swept low, catching a knight in the knee and knocking him down to a kneeling position. Before he had time to get back up, a spear end smashed into his head and forced him face down into the sand. Shahin then stabbed the weapon down viciously on the back of the neck. By this time, the Papal army was in full retreat, trying to escape to English lines. Very few resisted, more concentrated on running away.
Shahin saw a Papal soldier, dressed in fancy gold-trimmed armor and armed with a beautiful, ornate sword seemingly shouting at his men. The soldier stabbed a Timurid through the chest, killing him instantly. It was obvious the soldier was the general of the army, and he was only a few paces away from Shahin. He pushed his way through the retreating enemy, killing only those who resisted. Those who ran would be massacred by the Egyptians anyway.
Shahin surprised the General with a swift strike to the side of the head with the edge of his shield. The General recovered quickly and chopped downwards with his sword, but Shahin blocked it and slid out to the side, swinging his spear hard into the chest of the General. Though the armor protected the Papal officer from the edge of the weapon, it still knocked the breath out of him and cause him to stagger back. Shahin swept his spear low and toppled the General. Knowing that a live General was of more use than a dead one, he knocked the officer out cold with a few strikes to the head with the blunt end of his spear. They would pick him up later, after the battle. He ran forward with the rest of his unit, running down the routing enemy.
It was over. The entire Papal army had routed after losing more than half their number. The Timurids only lost a small fraction of their men, maybe two hundred or even as low as only a hundred men, most of them lost during the melee fight and the initial attack by the crossbowmen.
Shahin breathed a sigh of relief as the last of the Papal army ran away, turned the corner at the edge of the city walls, expecting to find safety with the English army. However, all they found was death by the victorious Egyptian army.
Navid walked carefully through the mass of dead bodies. It turned out that there were less Timurid fatalities than previously thought. Most of them were wounded, and only a handful had wounds that ended their military careers. The rest would heal and return to the fight. His unit was searching for any living enemy nobility or anyone worth ransoming.
"Archer!" He heard someone call out. Navid turned around and saw a lancer walking towards him, looking slightly confused. "Have you seen a Papal officer around here? I knocked him out during the fight and now I'm trying to look for him."
Navid shook his head. "I can help your search, if you'd like."
The lancer smiled. "Many thanks." He extended a hand. "Shahin Ardarshir." He introduced. Navid shook his hand firmly.
"Navid Sharihya," He said and tilted his head towards the mass of dead bodies on the field. "Shall we begin the search?" He asked. Shahin nodded and the two moved through the dead bodies slowly, trying to find a single soldier out of the hundreds that were dead. One of the archers found a Papal noble playing dead and forced him to his feet, directing him back to Timurid lines with his sword.
Navid looked down. The empty eyes of the dead looked back up at him. He shuddered slightly. Despite being a veteran of several battles, he was still shaken by the sight of dead people. He used his feet to gently nudge the bodies, making sure they were dead. He moved down the field, heading towards the ex-Papal camp. The glint of a shiny object, standing out from the other reflective items due to the yellowish hue caught his eye. He moved closer towards it, and found out that it was an ornate, beautifully decorated sword.
He picked it up and tested it's weight. It was perfectly balanced. This will make a good tribute to the General for delivering us this victory. He thought.
"What's that?" The friendly yet gruff voice of the General asked. Speak of the devil. Navid commented to himself and turned around. Despite the huge difference in rank, the archer didn't fear the General. He had been with Baraz from the time the General was just a small officer in charge of several archer units, and so were good friends.
Navid dropped to a knee, looked down at the ground and presented the sword to the General. "A gift, sir, for the victory you have led us to." He said in a voice full of respect.
"Keep it, or give it to someone else," The General replied and pulled Navid to his feet. "My friend, I have enough of these things. You told me you have a brother interested in fighting. Give to him instead." He suggested with a smile.
"I would, but I don't trust the caravans..."
The General looked deep in thought. "Very well, pass it to me. I'm going back to the capital in a few days time. I will pass it to him then. Same place?"
"Y-Yes sir!" Navid replied excitedly and saluted. "Thank you sir!" He bowed.
"No need to thank me," The General replied humbly. "If it weren't for soldiers like you, I wouldn't have been able to add this victory to my growing list."
Shahin suddenly appeared, running towards the pair. "Sir!" He saluted, panting when he saw the General. Baraz motioned for him to be at ease. The lancer looked at Navid. "You found the sword!" He exclaimed, then before Navid could reply, crouched and dragged a Papal soldier, clad in ornate and expensive-looking armor to his feet.
"Up!" Shahin growled and roughly removed the helmet.
"Infidels," The Papal officer spat. "God will punish you for this."
Baraz took the Papal officer roughly from Shahin. "Your god isn't here." He motioned for two archers and they walked towards him. "Take him away." He ordered them. The archers bowed slightly before each of them took an arm of the officer each and dragged the man away. Baraz looked back to Navid and Shahin. "Who wounded him?"
"I, sir," Shahin said proudly.
"And you found him?" Baraz asked Navid. The archer nodded slightly. "Good, this will aid us greatly in our effort to drive these invaders away from out lands." He said, then continued, "I'm giving you two four days of rest as reward. Spend it any way you like. Any questions?" The two men were too stunned to even say anything and merely shook their heads. Baraz had a reputation for being a nice and caring General to his men, but they never thought he would be as nice as this.
The General walked away. Shahin looked at Navid. Navid looked at Shahin. Both had a blank look on their faces, but that slowly turned into a smile. "Well done, friend." Navid said and patted Shahin on the back.
"You too, you too." Shahin replied with a chuckled as the two made their way back to camp.
Eh, sorry for the crappy titles, I'm not too good at them. Reviews will be appreciated! Thanks.