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1213 RE-- The Sack of Kelkheim

Date: September 9th, 1213
Outcome: Victory for the Emperor
Belligerents The Imperial Grand Army and the Church vs. the nobility of Brezha and the Lions of Brezha
Imperial Commanders: Emperor Ludovic II, Margrave Dietrich von Ehrensgard
Noble Commanders: Count Horazo von Kruyer, Captain Alaric of the Lions of Brezha, Count von Kelkheim
Strength: Emperor: 120 knights, 200 archers, 200 footmen, 10 siege engineers
      Nobles: 50 knights, 150 footmen, 300 mercenaries
Casualties: Emperor: 98 dead, as well as many noncombatants
     Nobles: 205 dead, 117 taken prisoner

Beginning some time in the summer of 1213, Emperor Ludovic II summoned the nobility of Eisenmark, Trayal, and both Eastern and Western Trempa to Luzerne City. In private audiences, he requested and required their aid in bringing oathbreakers among the nobility of Brezha to justice. According to rumor, ever since the riots of New Aulesburg in the previous year, the nobility of Brezha have grown restive, disobeying the lawful orders of Prince-Bishop Tewdar von Brezha and rejecting the spiritual authority of the Church. A large force of knights, archers, and footmen mustered in the city of Düren, where the Emperor took his place at their head, along with the Margrave of Eisenmark, Dietrich von Ehrensgard.

From Düren they marched south and east to Kelkheim, where Count von Kruyer and the Lions of Brezha had lately relocated. The fortifications of Kelkheim have never been the equal of New Aulesburg, but the opposition the Prince-Bishop and the city's populace made it impractical to invest the city. It had, on the other hand, retained considerable fortifications dating back to an era in which it guarded the Principalities' border with Tarsikka, though they had lost some of their splendor in the intervening two centuries. The Countess von Kelkheim had been among the first to join in von Kruyer's treason.

The Imperial Grand Army laid siege to the city, and the Emperor's engineers(1) began the construction of ladders, rams, and mangonels. As the leaves had begun turning even before the army marched, however, it seemed unlikely that there would be a protracted siege. Further, recent troubles with the Imperial Smiths meant that the Emperor needed to end the conflict before the enchantments faded from his force's armor and weaponry. Ever one to keep his own counsel, however, the Emperor ordered everything to proceed as if he intended to winter outside Kelkheim.

This continued until the eighth day of September, at which point the rams were indeed complete. He requested volunteers from among his footmen, and found thirty men and women(2+) eager to earn distinction in battle. As they bore the rams forward, he ordered the storming of Kelkheim. The wealth of the city would be regarded as spoils of war, while the rebellious nobles and Captain Alaric of the Lions of Brezha were to be placed under arrest and brought before him. He granted to the Margrave the honor of leading the attack. Ludovic, armored and mounted, remained in his camp with a tiny force of ten knights(3) and the noncombatants that traveled with the army - mostly cooks, quartermasters, pages, and physickers.

The footmen and knights on the walls of Kelkheim rallied, throwing back the first two efforts to scale the walls, thanks to heavy magical support from Captain Alaric, who hurled fire and lightning against the attacking force, including one spell that shivered a ram to splinters. On the third charge, a small band of knights and footmen(4) seized a portion of the city's walls, holding it against the defenders while their fellows scaled the walls behind them in relative safety. This was the city's death knell.

At about the same time, however, the army's baggage train came under attack from a large band of armed men and women; most bore no livery, though some few wore the white torch of the Lucinean schismatics. The Emperor and his guards moved quickly to intervene, sounding horns to alert the main of the Grand Army. Outnumbered as they were, even with enchanted weaponry and far superior training, they were unable to defend the noncombatants; dozens were slain, and much of the army's reserve of alchemy and war-gear was stolen. The Emperor and his forces were in a battle-fury and gave chase.

The defenders of Kelkheim fell back from the walls into Palast Kelkos, at the heart of the city, where they mounted a defense once more. Though von Kruyer's cause was now quite lost, they continued to fight; many of those who surrendered or fled were slain by mercenaries in the livery of the Lions of Brezha. As night fell, the Margrave withdrew all save a perimeter of soldiers. In the camp, he learned of the calamity of baggage train. The Emperor and his guards had given chase, and for a time it was feared that the Emperor lay among the slain, but in first watch of the night, he returned safely.

In the morning, the Emperor ordered the army back into Kelkheim. As they pressed into the Palast Kelkos, Captain Alaric was nowhere to be found; the outer perimeter of soldiers reported a tiny number of soldiers breaking past them much faster than they could possibly pursue. It proved to be the prelude to a larger breakout attempt, as a substantial force of mercenaries emerged from a magically-concealed postern gate. This exodus permitted the Margrave to seize the Palast, but several score more mercenaries overwhelmed the thin perimeter. Imperial forces were slow to give chase, as the Margrave's forces were hindered by extensive trapping in the corridors. The Countess and her household knights gave a determined, even remarkably skilled, but ultimately futile defense; it was clear that they were bolstered by substantial magic. Attempting to stem further bloodshed, the Margrave offered clemency to those who threw down their arms; a few(5+) did so gladly and were spared. Later they would be taken back to Luzerne City for trial.

When the Margrave's soldiers reached the central chambers, they found Countess Raimunda von Kelkheim alone, her armor ruined and her mace and shield nowhere to be seen. Her hands still shone with magical might. As the soldiers approached, she blocked them with magical walls. Some of those present - including, eventually, the Emperor himself - pleaded with her to give up this madness and accept his Imperial mercy, perhaps lifetime imprisonment. They could do nothing but watch as she sat and drew out ritual bones, placing a dagger beside them. None there were wizards or scholars of magic, to discern the nature of the spell, and there was no time to summon a Church wizard to work a counter-spell or warding.

At unknown risk to his own life, the Emperor approached the wall and spoke four words to her. After a long moment, the Countess dismissed the wall. A moment later, as the Emperor's knights rushed to surround her, the ritual's backlash struck her with a terrible affliction. She lived, but barely. Ludovic ordered the creation of a litter to bear her away to the camp, and thence to Luzerne City, along with Count von Kruyer, who had been captured earlier in the day.

The current whereabouts of Captain Alaric and the surviving Lions of Brezha are unknown, but Kelkheim is surrounded by miles of wilderness to the south as well as the east. Matters within the Palast delayed them long enough that they had half a day's lead. Forward scouts departed at dusk, followed the next day by a detachment of the Imperial army. They followed the enemy's trail into the wilds, but lost it after a time, and returned to Kelkheim to regroup and rebuild the damage that the city had suffered in the two days of assault.

The rebellion among Brezha's nobles appears to have ended. A number of nobles have not yet been brought to justice, but it is only a matter of time. Their forces slain or scattered, many of them are expected to surrender. The Lucinean religious schism continues unabated, though the Left Hand have begun a more overt suppresion, starting in New Aulesburg.