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TOPIC OF THE MONTH:
THE HELDANNIC CRUSADE IN DAVANIA
This is a part of letter sent by a Heldannic Knight which has made it into our hands. Since the section we received had no names on it, we do not know who wrote it, or whom it was destined to. We therefore have printed it here without permission from anyone, and should the actual author read this, we hope you are not offended by this.
Imagine my surprise to find myself thousands of miles from home, in a hot, forsaken land filled with savages and other nasty things. Fortunately, I had the good fortune to have a couple hundred Heldannic Knights with me, so I had no reason to worry about any of these things. Or so I thought.
What was I doing here? By some stroke of luck, I had been invited by the renowned Friedrich von Eisendorf to come to the remote fortress of Vanya's Rest in Davania, and document what he promised to be "The most illustrious and inspiring holy crusade the world has ever known." How he knew of me I had no idea, but it was clear that he, as well as the famous Herr Wulf von Klagendorf himself, who was also present on this journey, intended for the whole Known World to know of the Knights' exploits in Davania.
The days in the wilderness were long and hard, and many times several Knights were dispatched into the wilds to forage for whatever game could be had to supplement our rapidly-decreasing stock of rations. I will not go into detail about the encounters we had on the way to the town of Polakatsikes, but suffice it to say that the Knights had their share of challenges, most of which were met by the sword.
In truth, I had lost count of the days spent travelling through sweltering jungles, dry savannahs, and dusty scrublands. Only the cool breezes of the night brought any sort of relief from the searing heat of the sun, and even then, in the height of summer, these respites from the hell that is eastern Davania were all too short. Many of the Knights, some of whom looked as though they were hardly out of boyhood, began to lose hope that the holy goal would ever be reached. What was this goal? I suppose I should explain.
Herr Wulf had claimed that he received a holy mission from Davania, that he should lead a select force of loyal Knights from the fortress of Vanya's Rest into the interior of the continent, where an ancient enemy would be brought low to appease Vanya's thirst for conquest. In all the weeks spent trudging across eastern Davania, no signs were found of any civilisation. This changed as fall approached.
Finally, Herr Wulf told us that the goal was near, and he ordered a scouting party to investigate the lands west of a nearby stretch of hills. Hours later, they returned to report that, as Wulf had promised, there was indeed a large town just to the west, near the source of a great river. Wulf immediately made plans with his most trusted advisers, while the rest of us took the opportunity to relax. The mood among the Knights was one of caution mixed with enthusiasm.
Over the next few days, the enemy was engaged on several occasions. Though I never had the chance to observe any battles but the last one, because the Knights feared that I might pose a security risk if I were captured, I still was able to see the aftermath. Bodies of foreign defenders strewn about the grasses and hillocks, mixed with those of the occasional Knight. Their armour was strange, seeming to be composed of leather, boiled in some waxy substance to give it extra strength. These soldiers carried spears and shields, though some were armed with short swords, too. Regardless, it was clear that these brave men were no comparison to the heavily-armoured Knights, with their war horses and large swords. Some of the defenders had surrendered in those early days, and attempts were made to talk to them. Fortunately, the Knights had hired a Glantrian mage to assist in magical matters, and he turned his skills to allowing each side to understand the other. From the captives we learned the town's name, the size of its army, and how many people lived within its walls. I spent some time with these men, and they were, for all their strangeness, men of honour.
Finally, there came the Battle of Pelmos Hill, which, if I understand correctly, is already the subject of many songs in the Heldannic Territories far to the north. Here I watched the might of Polakatsikes beat bravely on the Knights, but to no avail. [Accounts elsewhere in this Almanac will tell you, gentle reader, how events turned out on that day, the 4th of Ambyrmont, AC 1015. Ed. note.] The Knights won a decisive victory, utterly destroying what remained of the town's army that was on the field that day, and only two days later the town of Polakatsikes capitulated to the invaders.
The days that followed were those of immense joy for the Knights. Though roughly half of the original 200 who set out with Herr Wulf to crusade for the glory of Vanya had survived, the mood was optimistic. Folk songs were sung in the taverns and public houses of the town, and the Knights marched proudly about the paved streets. Others hung Heldannic banners on every street corner, displaying the colours of each detachment that fought in the campaign. Finally, Herr Wulf himself proclaimed that all who served in the Polakatsikan Crusade would be made part of a new military order - the Champions of Vanya. Now, those same Knights strut proudly, wearing a wide red and gold tabard over their armour, with the symbol of Polakatsikes on their breasts - a golden hawk poised to take to the air.
Perhaps some future scribes will be able to put these events into perspective better than I have, but I can say for certain that the Heldannic crusade into the heart of Davania has been an experience I will never forget, for never have I seen such violence done between men, and never have I seen such passion in the fight for a cause or a belief.