The Mercenarial Free Company of the Black Reiters, est. c. 1636
HISTORY AND FOUNDING
The founding of the Free Company of the Reiters can best be attributed to the global tumult following the waning of the Holy Orenian Empire’s status as a superpower and the ruthless period of conflict following - namely during the War of the Beards. It was then in the year 1636 that the foundations of a formal band began to culminate; a handful of sellswords and once-soldiers wayfaring the land in search of coin and plunder for hired steel. Their exploits on the field of battle gained them immense renown amongst the denizens of Axios, specializing in mounted cavalry and shock hit-and-run tactics.
Having established themselves on Axios, the Reiters erected a fine red fortified bastion on the plains of Calais, having exchanged coin with Savoyard lords for their would-be home. After laying the foundations for their operations, the Reiters received multitudes of contracts for their services. The most notable contract which the company received resulted in many giving their lives to the hell spawn known as Mordskov where the Manticore witch-hunters would find great need for the Reiters experience on the battlefield. They were tasked with procuring the panacea plant, which they did with great sacrifice. Many of these brothers in arms would offer their mettle against a beast of no lesser spite and evil than a demon, the Hydra.
This nascent, hard-hearted band of men branded themselves as the Black Reiters, a mercenary company unfettered by the laws of arms and governments of Kings and men. Sporting a rich and consummate operational history in Axios and Atlas, they have since reformed in the newly-settled continent of Arcas, receiving their first contract from the Emperor of Man who had assigned them to deal with disloyal vassals in exchange for land. Now again at full bearing, the company elects to be recruited on a contract-by-contract basis by private employers during times of war.
The Company - though partaking in a vast number of minor skirmishes, raids, and attacks on towns - is notable for their involvement in the following wars and battles.
The War of the Beards, c. 1631 - 1636
1634 - The Battle of Jornheim Fields
The first major deployment of Reiter forces on a battlefield. Large contingents of the company were mounted on horseback, performing hit and run tactics on the Coalition’s rear lines. However, after having noticed the Orenian and Urguani lines crumble under the weight of the Coalition onslaught, a withdrawal was ordered.
1635 - The Siege of Fort Kovakirr
A large portion of the Reiter Company was tasked with aiding with the defense of Fort Kovakirr, an integral territory of the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska. Reiter sappers helped with organizing the siege batteries and archers manned the walls with the rank and file. While the Company’s marksmen initially stemmed the Coalition advance, the attempts would prove futile under the weight of the assault. The Reiter forces garrisoned within Fort Kovakirr fought to the last man, slain where they stood. This brave and fearless sacrifice is still honored today by members of the Company.
The Third Crusade, c. 1638 - 1641
1638 - The Battle of the Bloody Road
Forward Reiter scouts identified a hilltop thought to be advantageous; overlooking the Bloody Road. Archers were quickly scrambled to seize the high ground. The hill, nicknamed ‘The Bloody Knoll,’ served as the Reiter’s much needed vantage point. Throughout the day, several advances were rebuffed. However, the Company’s lines would begin to wither over time and the strategic position would have to be given up.
1640 - The Battle of Rochdale
Contracted by the sovereign of Renatus, the combined human kingdoms and Reiters sought to bring a counter offensive to the heathenous Kingdom of Norland. Reiter mercenaries were equipped in their heavy lancer kit; full barding, polearms, and clad head to toe in plate. The Company’s cavalry wing took the far flank along the left side of the main road leading up to Adelberg. From there, they caught eye of the Norlander forces moving through the forests who had thought they had the element of surprise on the Crusader-allies. Instead, the Reiters seized the initiative, charging headlong into the sides of Norland’s lines. The poorly organized militias of Norland quickly dissipated against the sheer impact of the charge. The battle was a decisive victory which would set the course for the Third Crusade.
1641 - The Siege of Vjorhelm
High off their previous victory, the Crusaders and their allies pursue the fleeing Norlandic host back to the walls of Vjorhelm, the capital of Norland. For the following months, a siege would ensue. However, the walls would prove sturdy against the constant bombardment. The Reiter officers present at the battle determined that explosives would need to be planted at weak points along the wall to create a breach. After a hole had been punched, Reiter combat teams infiltrated the first set of walls. Under a blinding hail of arrow fire, they were able to interlock shields in a turtle-like formation and exchanged arrows with the Norlandic archers harassing the Crusaders below. Progress was slow and came with a devastating loss of life. However, through their will and determination, the Reiters and the Crusaders were able to go from room to room, snuffing out all embers of Norlandic resistance. In this battle particularly, the Reiters were credited with a high kill count.
Atlas Coalition War, c. 1657 - 1662
1660 - Battle of the Sleeping Swamps
Their first major taste of battle during the Atlas Coalition War, the Reiters were charged with holding the left wing of the Northern Alliance’s envelopment. With Southern forces chiefed by the Kingdom of Norland seeking refuge on a secluded island, the Reiters rode with the Northern Alliance in a calculated advance upon their islet in a charge which would later be dubbed the ‘Mole’s Hill Massacre.’
1661 - Battle of the Forkwoods
With the men of the Southern Alliance demoralized by their previous defeat, the Battle of the Forkwoods was a short and decisive engagement which marked a clear tipping point in the war.
1662 - Siege of Ruriksgrad
Following the Southern Alliance’s defeat at the Battle of the Forkwoods, their host retreated back to their capital of Ruriksgrad; and, finding the battle too hot there, retreated further to an unnamed keep behind their capital. The Northern Alliance, armed with notoriously small and ineffective siegecraft, lost many-a-man rushing the gates; though upon landing one serendipitous trebuchet shot, the Reiter Company rushed the breach following the Frostbeard host, bringing a swift end to the already injured Southern host.
Bandit War, c. 1664 - 1668
1667 - Battle of the Huckery Hills
Employed by the Crown of Renatus-Marna, the Reiters met the bandit forces on the field; and, hosting a superior number, chased and killed them in an even which would later be marked as the primary precursor to the Staunton Uprising, whereby the bandit forces vassalized under House Staunton in a bid to salvage a win.
The Staunton Uprising, c. 1667 - 1669
1668 - Siege of Whitepeak
With the bandit forces officially vassalizing under House Staunton, Cedric Estermont led a discrete detachment of Reiters during the Siege of Whitepeak whom, under the cover of darkness, found their way inside the keep through clandestine means and butchered the Staunton Host inside. The slaughter was so immense that many Renatian soldiers later went on to coin it the ‘Battle at Redpeak.’
1669 - Siege of Cyrilsburg
Upon their combined host’s arrival, the Courlandic forces laid down their arms in surrender.
1669 - Siege of Ashwood
Again, upon their host’s arrival, the Courlandic forces took to a surrendering. Inside, however, the Reiters happened upon an eldritch, god-like entity whom was a monster of the castle, to which they slew.
STRUCTURE, RECRUITMENT, AND CONTRACTING
The Reiters structure is split into three well defined groups:
The Officer(s) of the Company is an elected position, decided by the group as a collective. The Officer(s) have higher authority within the company, they are typically charged with recruitment and the promotion of the Initiates. As well as handling larger contracts which require further organisation.
The body of the group, the main rank, to be a Reiter is to be a proven mercenary who has blooded their scarf, they have passed their initiation and are now serving members of the company.
The Initiates are the fresh recruits to the company, yet to prove themselves. An initiate can prove themself to an Officer or the rest of the group through contracts in which they can earn a promotion and blood their scarf.
To join or contract the company then an Officer must be sought out in the realms of Arcas, the Reiters are currently stationed in Calais in the northern reaches.
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