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History of the Burgundian Host

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The Burgundian Host was a band of kossaks founded under Jan Jeremi in the 650s AES (800s AH) to combat the pagan Hansetian invaders of the age of the Edelaw. They fought in countless battles, known for their iconic lavish burgundian cloaks they wore from the Waldorf-Hunnik basin, and sided primarily with the Creatorist parties during the turmoil of the Northern Crusades. Its histories were rechronicled by Siguine Barrow, the bastard of Ostromir Siegmondovic and later High Pontiff Daniel II, namely to counter the cultural pogroms and stir Raevir nationalism against Waldenian schismatics.

 

(OOC: Full credit to @Cracker who wrote this, posting this here for easier access)

 

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HISTORY OF THE BURGUNDIAN HOST

 

WRITTEN BY THE HAND OF

SIGUINE OTOVIC BARROW

AKA

HIGH PONTIFF DANIEL I

 

PUBLISHED BY

HIEROMAR LUDOVAR THE ELDER, SSE

 

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To understand the conditions which fostered the band of sworn Burgundian brothers and the Raevir tradition of virtuous bands of knight-errants, one must examine the geopolitical circumstances of the “Wild North” or “Bitter South”, dubbed by Heartlander and Highlander accounts respectively as the frozen steppes and crags around what we know as Alstion and Holmstad yet before the bleak Highland proper. The borders between the Highlands and the “Heartland” were in the hands of various merchant states known in the south as the Dulonian League, in the civilized north, “the Lahy”, and in the barbarian hinterlands, plunder. The league of “free cities” consisted of Dules, The Lahy, Mejen, Vsevolodnya, and the Buß along with many princely minors.

 

It was during this period where The Lahy and Dules dominated borderland trade; whilst many southron contemporaries in the era would claim the futility of the barren north, in truth, the trade between north and south was lucrative in the hands of thrifty burghers. Timbers, furs, ores, and even slaves made their way downwards whilst northwards came the southron native produce and luxury goods. The region thus held extraordinary wealth due to this constant stream of traffic, oft noted as “silver gleaming among the sea of frost; its people bright and bitter”.

 

However, despite the immense fortunes gathered, the Dulonian League’s dual names of “The Wild North” and “The Bitter South” were not unfounded . To the North, its southern borders with the Heartland were marked with fierce raiding, political debauchery, and decadence. The North was hostile and frigid, but more so by nature’s will, not by acts of man’s wicked hand. Naturally, to Southrons, even the borderlands appeared wild, untamed, and the squalor of looters and bandits remained more prominent in the minds of southron caravans than the rich Highlander burghers, who lived relatively modest lives compared to the wild extravagances of the south.


 

Whilst the Buß  was staunchly entrenched in Northwestern paganism, Vsevolodnya respectively in the Raevir Occult, and Mejen populace largely conducted to mixed animist worship, the size and prosperity of both Dulon and Lahy resulted a vast range of cultures and faiths practiced by its populace. Dules was oft considered a Heartlander settlement by many of its contemporaries, as while the fair majority of its denizens belonged to some Northern tribe, the Heartlander influence was staggering in its architecture and dialect. On the contrary, Lahy was a melting pot of all Highlandic cultures; the city held a slim majority of Raevir princelings, with competing Northman and Hanseatic families and countless temples to both the pantheons and the Allfather. Oft it was described the jewel of the Highland, a cultural testament to its solidarity as the prime pan-Highlandic civilization. The disparity between the Dulonian League had naturally lead to disputes and conflict.

 

The foundation of our Burgundian Brothers was lain in this land of wealth and war, where in particular, the city-state of Lahy was facing increasing encroachment by southron trade interests. The ruling Prince of Dulon had cobbled together an immense dowry to secure a powerful alliance with a myriad of Heartlander petty kings; all which would profit from securing a sphere of influence in the ore-rich Lahian east. Many of the Lahy’s outposts had slowly found their way in the hands of rivals, with this newfound enemy alliance and economic downturn striking fear in the hearts of its prominent nobility.

 

This time of troubles would soon be alleviated by a band of sworn swords, brothers in arms who fought for no name but gold and glory. Legend dictates the Brotherhood began with seven men-

 

Tomasz Brzyżek

Huss Blackface

Igor Fortsko

Lorik Svensen

William the Beggar

Anton the Sepoy

and its first Hetman, Jan Yeremi
 

-each whom each bore backgrounds as mercenaries in service to the Lahy. Bonding over drink and battle, the seven decided to band together as sworn brothers in the sea of faceless mercenaries in service to the sickly Lahian state. These reavers of various Highlandic nationalities and contrasting faiths soon rose to prominence as they raided the rich fringe of the south, disbanded rival caravans, and sparred against hill tribe and looter in the Wild North.

 

Leaving town in mute greys and returning with lavish vintages and rich velvets, the locals took to calling them “the Burgundians” for their spoils of wars; bringing back lavish burgundy vintages and tyrian cloth had distinguished themselves as soldiers first-class. Yet they did not act with wanton greed nor lust, sharing their spoils with the populace in a tactful manner to secure their support. Their numbers swole under the first Hetman, Jan Yeremi, who established both the trials of a Burgundian and the host’s precedent of decentralized order, ensuring each “Burgundian Brother” would have their respective freedoms.

 

Jan Yeremi’s policy of granting his peoples freedoms and allowing his company to appoint officers, or atamans, among themselves was revolutionary; peasantry flocked to his order in awe of the idea that they could choose whom governed and commanded him. Their exploits were renowned as legendary; ranging from the historical liberation of the Waldorvian outpost from the hands of necromancer Janka of Mebern, or the mythical slaying of the White Wyrm. However, despite the Burgundians valiant actions, the inevitable clash between Dules and Lahy was bound to occur. As the old Prince of Dules passed of natural cause, Rulfe of Teffian had secured his succession as new prince and sovereign of Dules. Rulfe, a stubborn heathen and impaler, took immediate plan to “liberate” the Dulonian League of all influence from Creatorism. The Lahy, known for its growing population of monotheists and greatest rival to Dulonian interests, was a ripe target to subjugate.

 

Citing his planned conquest in the name of Wielken, the many-faced Wolf god, had earned him the support of the mountain clans of Yorvar and Malik, whilst his alliances with the Petty Kings of the South remained firm in their quest to expand north and partition The Lahy. Claiming to the former that the war was to crush the wicked Creator of the South whilst to the latter dictating the opportune moment to strike in the Lahian autumn, Prince Rulfe played his allies off in order to strike with a great “Wulfesarmee”, a combined arms force of over twenty- five thousand men.

 

Rulfe’s demands were harsh; full control of all outposts and settlements across the Hunnik River, House Teffian granted patrician-status among Lahian nobility, and the expulsion of the Order of the Black Sepulchres, a monastic fraternity dedicated to defend Horenite monotheist caravans and protect the sacred urns and tombs of Orthodox missionaries from pagan defilement. Whilst the princelings naturally rebuked the first two terms, it was the commons who roared out against the lattermost, where the populace had become over thirty percent Orthodox. The Lahy could not yield to these terms; Prince Rulfe insured they were severe enough that if accepted, traders from the Highlands to the Farfields would lose confidence in The Lahy and cut off investments, further dooming its economy. Yet The Lahy could not afford the exorbitant fees of raising a mercenary army great enough to stem back the might of Dules and her Wulfesarmee.

 

However, despite the certain doom facing the state, Hetman Jan Yeremi and the Burgundians stood with the merchant state of The Lahy, fighting alongside Grandmaster Bionn Lendus of the Order of the Black Sepulchres and Prince Nikolai of the Lahy without pay. Jan ,among countless Burgundians, voted to aid the state despite their venal nature in homage of The Lahy’s ideals, a historical moment for the host as it began to move away from sheer profit to virtue and faith.

 

The Lahian army numbered at roughly two-thirds the Wulfsarmee, yet over a third of that number consisted of ill-trained partizans displaced by war. Prince Nikolai was thus forced to put much of his countryside to the torch, leaving scarred land and evacuating its displaced peoples into the great city of Lahy. Whilst the city’s bolstered population lead to an increase in riots and crime, Nikolai’s tactic of scorched earth forced the Wulfesarmee to extend their supply lines, slowing down their advance until the thick of winter. It was not until the month of Joma, the Deep Cold, where Prince Rulfe could set sight on Lahy itself.

 

Rulfe’s host quickly encircled the trade-city, splitting his pagan and monotheist forces to the north and south respectively. A long siege commenced; whilst Rulfe possessed a far superior numerical advantage, he knew the tenacity of the Lahians would make an early assault pyrrhic in victory. In accordance to his plan of scorched earth and pushing the siege to winter, Prince Nikolai had to insure that the southern supply lines of the Dulians were strained along with having a replenished foodstore to avoid a surrender by starvation. To achieve this end, he had a third of the Burgundian force, a host of one-thousand grizzled men-at-arms at the helm of William the Beggar, to live off the land on the outskirts of The Lahy. “The Begging Brothers” concealed themselves in thick black burlap cloaks, often pretending to be paupers displaced by war or seers gathering alms during daylight, whilst raiding countless supply-wagons and returning salted rations to The Lahy through its deep sewers.

 

The constant delay in foodstuffs coupled with the stinging bite of winter had forced Rulfe to act soon, lest he face deserters, or worse, mutiny. Already countless incidents of southron soldiers being killed by bitter Yorvars had inflamed relations between the cobbled together coalition, with southron lords demanding an early assault due to their lack of insight on Northern warfare, and the pagan chiefs crying for a “red snow and a red city”, their bloodlust unsatiated. Rulfe was forced to act.

 

As the day of the assault came closer and closer, it was the Hetman Jan’s decision to unify the various Burgundians by one creed beyond wealth. Deciding to place all of their faith into one religious practice in hopes that its God would defend them against these insurmountable odds, the atamans and Jan brought forth three prominent clerics of the three prominent faiths of the town; a seer of the Northern faith, a priest of the Raevir occult, and Ser Bionn Lendus of the Order of the Black Sepulchres.

 

The seer set aflame his incense and recited his prayers to the wildwood and the warrior-gods, but not one ataman was moved by his ritual. The priest of the occult brought forth a murder of crows and cast his hexes, which most of the atamans found too dark for a faith of a band of brothers. Then Ser Bionn stepped forth, chanting a solemn homily in the Flexian tongue. As his words hung in the air, the howls and bays of countless wolves joined him; signifying a great omen among the atamans and even Hetman Jan himself, who reportedly went pale of face and fainted at the display. The Burgundian leadership were mass-baptized under Lendus himself, and the wolfs-omen sent by the Allfather himself had given them a clue on how to defeat the enemy at their gates.

 

Rulfe’s host began its assault with a pincer attack from north and south; in response Prince Nikolai had divided his forces in an attempt to match the threat, having a four-thousand force of combined Sepluchrites and Burgundians quell the northern assault of fifteen-thousand tribesmen, whilst leading his Lahian native force of eight-thousand men to match the ten-thousand swords of the south. The northern tribesmen whom our Burgundians were pitted against broke through the lightly-defended first gate in moments, pouring into the city ghettos and sacking them bloody. Granted powerful siege onagers and ballistas on the coin-purse of Prince Rulfe, the Yorvars and Maliks were instructed to flatten the entire second gate and its housing in order to penetrate into the heart of the city with minimum casualties. Yet Jan Jeremi and Bionn Lendus had other plans.

 

Utilizing the Begging Brothers knowledge of the sewers, Jan instructed William and his band to run through the sewers and howl as wolves. The combined effect of one-thousand men howls echoing throughout the sewers created a haunting dirge as the tune of the heathens conquest, which furthered their blood fury. The High Seer of both Yorvar and Malik took this omen as a blessing from Wielken himself to charge forth, and the hill clans abandoned their siegecraft instead choosing to ram the second gate down with their legendary Wulfsram. As they stormed the merchant quarters, they chose to forgo the garrisons in a frenzy toward the trade district, the jewel of the city where countless riches awaited them. What they met was Lendus’ trap, who instructed his men to drench the bazaars in thick oil before lighting them aflame. A wild fire soon spread through the trade district, trapping countless barbarians in a thick of flame and smog; as one Sepulchrite’s account noted, “the heathens stormed the city expecting material wealth by their many-faced Wolf gods...but what they were given was the cleansing fire of our one true God.”

 

As the bewildered heathens attempted to flee the merchant quarters, they were met by countless guerrilla Burgundians, hunting them down in wild-wolf pelts and crying out wolf howls to further haunt their superstitious foes. Chaos ensued in the Yorvari rank as its clanlord was caught under debris of the fires. When the remaining forces managed to drag themselves out of the merchant quarters, they found themselves at the end of fresh Sepulchrite lances and Burgundian arbalests. Only a third of the heathen army managed to escape the fury of the Orthodox soldiers, decisively crushing the northern threat. The remaining forces quickly moved across the walls to relieve Prince Nikolai and engage the southern army.

 

Prince Nikolai had managed to keep Rulfe’s army from entering the city, but the siege fire had effectively trapped his forces in the noble quarters. When the Orthodox soldiery had come by bearing their enemy siege and weaponry, he was in utter shock; it is rumored that when he saw Hetman Jan, he remarked “By which Gods do you stand before me, alive with your enemy slain?”, which Jan replied “By the fires of Godani the Allfather!”

 

In respect to the Sepulchrites and Burgundians resounding victory, Nikolai rose the banner of three pronged Orthodox cross and sallied to meet his foes. Leading the vanguard were the Burgundians in fur-pelts, whom the southron lords mistakenly assumed as the Northern hilltribes and their success in capturing the city. Lowering their guard, the Southron Lords and Rulfe were met with thick arrow fire under the command of Lorik Svennsen and his outriders coupled with heavy ballistic fire; the ensuing melee then tilted heavily in the invigorated defenders. In a mythic encounter, Ser Bionn Lendus and Rulfe met on the field, charging another upon horseback, before grappling to the ground. Lendus plunged his dirk deep into Rulfe’s neck, but not before his eyes were gouged by the wicked Dulonian. With Rulfe’s death, the Dulonian and Southron lords knew the battle was lost, and waved the white banner of surrender.

 

While victory rang out in the streets of The Lahy, the air of the infirmaries stank of rot and atrophy. Lendus’ wounds did not heal, as Jan watched over him. They became fast-friends after their struggles together and Jan pained to see his comrade in arms rot away. In respect to the newly christened Burgundians, Lendus had it writ upon his passing that the Order of the Black Sepulchres would merge with the Burgundians. While many senior Sepulchrites grumbled at the notion of forming a merger with a band of cutthroats, none dared defy the dying Lendus, whose sacrifice had swooned the hearts of soldiery throughout Creatorism. The Burgundians adopted the Lendian Rites as their communion in homage to Lendus, emphasizing tradition and rationality in their Orthodoxy.

 

The Burgundians were granted a fief and fort for their service to the Lahian prince, a fort which stood as a testament to their order until their dying days. Known as Burgstad, the fort soon grew to be a citadel of Highlander culture. The Host saw the likes of petty kings and princes in their rank as they grew to become one of the most prestigious orders in the northern realm. Yet, as with much of Northern civilization, the Undead put a definite end to the Burgundians. In the Great Siege of Burgstad, over ten-thousand warriors and fifty atamen were slain at the hands of Undead cultists. With the last Hetman imprisoned at Undead hand and tortured to death by the prophet Vekaro, the Burgundians had died at the hands of Iblees. Small splinter groups which emulated the freedom of the Burgundians arose such as the Ivalyos, which the prophet Sigismund and St. Bogdan would encounter in their travels, but none ever matched to the legacy of the great Burgundians.

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