The Lords of the Marne

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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:28 pm

Bardas had decided to let his bureaucratic disposition take over, a personality in which he was much more confident.
Dutiful overseer suited him much more than noble warrior, he'd leave that to his captain.
He would send a Frankish servant out to deliver his letter to Sigebert's camp.
Thinking that it could perhaps buy him precious time if Sigebert didn't immediately tear it up. It read as follows:

"Most Forthright Lord Sigebert, Master of Terrible Bertou,

Some clarification is needed in order to truly consider your verbal request of the Acacius family, their servants, and all others born of the Empire at Constantinople.

Firstly, please, if you would, define: 'Auvergnat Tyrant', 'Council of True Frank Lords', the borders of 'Francia', 'Auvergnat' of whom the "fault lies with", 'Agent' as declared in your statement "Agent of the Auvergnat", and, finally, the 'Auvergnat' of whom, agents of prove intolerable.

Also, a writ of safe passage is needed in order to secure our trip home.
On a related point, a letter detailing which lords will abide by your promise of safe passage is required along with said writ.
That, their seals, and a description of their banners.

This may all seem rather labyrinthine, and I apologize for it being so, but, in order to void any casus belli of retribution by Imperial forces it must be so.

I await your reply,

Bardas Acacius."

Esaias recalled the symbol from his earlier glance at the armorials.
The man was cautious, given Provins' proximity to Meaux, but felt he needed all the help he could at this time, damn the risk.

His cautiousness was comforted by the number of knights that had decided to join him, giving him the confidence to reply in the affirmative.

"Very well, I accept your Lord's invitation. Please, lead the way."
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:46 pm

Sigebert looked at the clerc that read the answer of Bardas for him, he himself being unable to do so.

"So... they refuse ?" He asked.

"Well. They're stalling for time." The clerc answered.

"Then they're refusing."

"Legally, they haven't accepted nor refused and asked for clarifications. Legally they..."

Sigebert stopped him with a sign of his hand. "Your laws are pointless. Words and words without meaning. Bardas is clear, he refuses. So I won't bother returning any clarification."

He then took a look at the engineers and their work. Soon, the little army will dispose of the engines needed to pierce the defenses of the Greeks and their servants. If Bardas wanted to stay, then so be it.

Meanwhile, Esaias was guided to the city of Provins. A little fortified town upon a hill, with its castle, a big tower of wood and stones, throning over it.

The inside of the castle was still mighty, but it was obvious it had known better days. Cracks in the paints, braseros left unused despite the cold breeze of the ending day. Everything was simple but efficient. Not by design, but by necessity.

Lord Jean of Provins sat upon his throne, in a dark hall. He was tall, with a long black hairs, long black beard, dark eyes piercing like thoses of a hawk. long fingers scratching his siege. He wore a long black cape of wools and multiple layers of clothes, of various shades of grey. A sinister man, a ruin from a time not so long ago, from a time before the Auvergnats. The shadow of the old franks.

"Ten years ago, The now king of the franks, Berenger of Auvergne, set his eyes upon Francia. He bought lands here and there from poor lords and knights, and used the threat of some bandits on theses newly acquired soils to send an army. Soon, he used it to gather supports, by promises of wealth and threats. We wanted none of it. We gathered a strong army to resist him, to chase him. It was possible, he was far less powerful than he his now. But then, we were betrayed."

The tall and thin figure then rose from his seat and seemed at first to crumble under his own height. But he was soon standing like a migthy statue, his soul still burning with the energy of the living behind his dark eyes. He took something from his clothes and showed it. A letter.

"Now, the same man that betrayed us asked for my help against the one he sold us for ! Where was Sigebert, lord of Meaux, nine years ago, when he pledged himself to our cause ? With the ennemy ! And now ! Now ! He call me like one call an old friend ! Never a lover had from him such words !

But I don't forget. I, Jean of Provins, and many other brothers swore many years ago to have our vengeance. Not against the Auvergnats, but against thoses who left us at the critical moment, who took us out of our home in false pretenses of friendships and took us to the southerners ! We swore it upon the tombs of our fallen comrades.

So tell your master and this Theodorus of Soissons, whom I've heard he too was gathering supports for the Auvergnat, that Provins and what's left of the Old Alliance, stand with them for this battle. The deads scream for vengeance and through my sword they will fight for you, until they are satisfied. And then so will I finally be at peace."

Jean sat back, suddenly he seemed much older. His beard was full of white and grey, and his face wrinkled beyond recognition. For a moment, he trully looked like a ghost that couldn't leave this world before one last task was accomplished.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:43 am

Damn his situation, and damn Tyche.
Bardas was certain now that the stories he had heard in passing during his time here from the common folk of how the old gods were tricksters and daemons all, were true.

The gifts he had arranged for the Council of Clermont, and the small fortune he had spent getting them hadn't worked, the letter he had sent to Sigebert hoping to buy himself at least a day hadn't worked, he was sure that the holes dug in the fields would only prove to give the enemy traction in the muddy fields, and that the walls of the Barony he had payed for would only crumble at the sight of their true master, Sigebert, and bury any man in Chateau-Thierry who opposed him underneath.

He put on a neutral face, and just hoped that the captain and the men could hold the walls.
He did not want to get pushed back to the castle, at that point he would surrender himself in an attempt, however fruitless, to save the land and people from the wrath of the army outside.

Esaias bowed deeply and thanked the man for his support.

"Lord Jean, I hope I do not offend you by suggesting something?
I am no military man, but I do look for an opportunity in almost everything."

If erm, If you have not yet dismissed Sigebert privately or publicly, you may have a chance to get to Sigebert, though it is a bit... deceitful.
But, given the circumstances, perhaps that doesn't matter as much as normal.

I believe I know where Sigebert is right now. Camped outside of Chateau-Thierry, I would imagine.
You see, I was sent to gather some men to help our cause when we had learned that Sigebert was marching for the Barony.

Now, the opportunity I spoke of lies in if Sigebert doesn't know that you're against him.
You and your men could ride to his position to 'join his cause', and, well, I'm not certain.
You could gain their trust and attack while most are asleep, or while Sigebert attacks Chateau-Thierry, your men could ride behind them and attack them.

Like I said, I'm no soldier, but the idea is that you could exploit Sigebert's trust, and be made a hero for swiftly ending this war in the process, what do you think?"

Esaias waited nervously, rolling Bardas' signet ring around in his hand.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:34 pm

Jean thought about Esaias idea.

"A plan, indeed. I would have refused it, not so long ago. But times have changed. Yes, it would even be fitting, for Sigebert to be ended this way. Yes..."

He looked back at the greek, his eyes looking like two black perls shining with flames of hate. A great smile appeared on his tired face, a worrysome smile. The smile of someone who is going to enjoy the evil he is ready to do.

It took a few days for the army of Provins, fourty men or so, to prepare. An official declaration had been made ; Jean, lord of the city, was joigning the revolt. In a way, it surprised no one : Jean had always been an opposant of Berenger and it seemed obvious that the right words and a few presents would be enough to make him forget the past and get behind Sigebert.

So, in the middle of the day, Jean and his men appeared near the camp of the Boarhunter. They were received with great honors, like one receive an old friend not seen for years. Sigebert showed the lord of Provins the engines his engineers were building : battle rams, grappling hooks, pavois to protect the archers, and a tower that, once completed in a month or so, would be tall enough to take over Chateau-Thierry's fortifications.

The night falled on the Marne and the now two hundreds men joined their beds. Some guards stayed awake to watch out for any movements from the besieged, but all of the officers were sleeping. Except Bertou, whom decided to go walk and think about his situation, his futur, his dreams.

But something seemed odd to the bandit. Where were the guards ? For a moment, he was ready to show them what was the price of abandoning their positions for a game of dice, but he soon found out the truth. Their necks sliced open, stuffed in a tent like broken puppets.

"We're under attack !" He screamed, waking up his men in priorities and then going for Sigebert's tent. Jean was already over the bed, his sword at his hand, ans the count of Meaux unarmed, at the mercy of the mad lord of Provins.

"I've been waiting so long for this... this is for Ethias !" he said, looking less and less like a human. Bertou jumped on him, striking his shoulder with his giant cleaver. Jean was protected by his chainmail but the power of the strike was enough to throw him on the ground. Immediatly, Sigebert leaved the tent, Bertou behind him.

"No !" Screamed Jean, running outside. Already, his men at set fires to some tents, and were figthing Bertou's men and the few soldiers of Meaux that hadn't been killed in their sleeps. An infernal spectacle that the mad count had no time to enjoy. More akin to a shadow, he chased his two prey through the whole camp. "You cannot outrun Justice Sigebert ! I will end you !"

But it was too late. Sigebert already on his horse, fleeing the battle. Jean jumped on his path, ready to fight. The two lords rose their swords and in a scream, strike at their opponent. But Sigebert had spent the last nine years getting stronger, while Jean only weakened, to the point he was but a shadow of a man. The lord of Provins falled, not dead, but badly wonded and the lord of Meaux escaped.

Bertou looked at this strange scene for a moment, before returning to more pressing matter. He blew an horn, calling for the retreat. His men obeyed and with a speed and a discipline none would have thought possible from such bandits, they left the Provincois alone in the camp. Soon, they were all in the forest, under the protection of the trees.

The other minor camps that blocked the main routes to Chateau-Thierry soon saw the smoke coming and understood the situation. Before they could be taken by surprised, they fled to the forest, joigning the bandits and their master.

In the morning, Not much was left of Sigebert's base. Of his lieutenants, only Bertou survived, by sheer luck. Fifty of his men died in their sleep and twenty others during the figthing. Of Jean's side, no more than ten of his men died because of Bertou's bandits, but many had been wounded, like Jean himself.

And so ended the Siege of Chateau-Thierry. Now, the battle for Francia could begin.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:18 am

Bardas was already quite a light sleeper with the stress of an army outside of town, and so when he was roused from his few moments of sleep by his captain it didn't take long for the Baron to awake. He reached for his sword, fearing the worst had somehow come true during the one moment he took his eyes off things.

The captain held Bardas' arm back and spoke, somewhat excitedly. "It's not that, my lord. Quite the opposite. Get dressed and you'll see."
The captain bowed lightly and left Bardas' quarters, shutting the door behind him.
The opposite? he thought to himself, putting his underclothes on.

Bardas called for a servant to assist him in fitting his armor, and asked him what the captain might be so pleased about, not getting much out of the man other than that the siege seemed to be lifted.

That eased Bardas' mind only somewhat, hopefully there was more to it than 'looks like'.
Bardas, the captain, the confidant all rode out to Sigebert's camp under the captain's assurances.
The Baron could easily see the smoke coming from that area once he was on the other side of the wall, and could smell the blood and battle when he got closer.

The place was destroyed, the Chateau-Thierry soldiers already securing anything left of use.
There, in an isolated corner of the map was a man in distinctive Byzantine-style dress.
It was Esaias, no doubt. He had arrived earlier that day.
He was, currently, trying to assist with the nursing of an injured old man.

When Esaias saw Bardas approach he wanted to forget his training, run up to the man, screaming of his exploits.
But, maintaining a professional attitude, and not wishing to cause any stress to Jean, he got up, and calmly walked over to the group of men.

Esaias explained the situation to Bardas, having already informed the captain earlier.
It was quite the miraculous tale, Bardas thought.

Bardas had tried everything, but in the end the only thing that saved him was someone else, again someone else had saved his life, and It wasn't even Bardas' idea to send Esaias out, it was the captain's.

The glory and the praise would go to them, and this Lord Jean.
Bardas was quite happy with the overall situation, but this fact still hit him.
He had the fortifications built, he poured his money into this, he dedicated himself to this, but he still felt as though Berenger would blame this all on him, and ask the Emperor for someone else, best case.

Bardas slipped his signet back on, and went to thank Jean, keeping his voice soft, promising that he would make sure that Sigebert would face justice and that the name of Jean would be cleared, and praised.

"Right." Bardas said to his group, trying to take a commanding position, and looking to grab some of the glory for himself later.

"Let's get an idea of our situation. Send the scouts out, see where Sigebert may have gone.
Paris and Meaux are the obvious ones, but any hideaways, like the ones Bertou fancies, those sort of nearby areas, that we know of, should be checked too.
Perhaps even Provins should be checked if Sigebert is angry and foolish enough to try that given recent developments

Send another group to scout Soissons, if the siege there is lifted, make contact.
If not, return home, and report.
Finally, see if there's any news from traders of if assistance is coming from the south.
I still fear Sigebert is strong enough to come right back here and try again, only in more of a paranoid fever, with Lord Jean's betrayal.

This is a nice victory boys, but things are still far too uncertain.
We can't risk losing Chateau-Thierry by having our guard down. At all."
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sun Apr 09, 2017 5:53 pm

"Ah ! That scoundrel ! That human shaped rat ! Undermining my plan ! Killing my knights ! Threatening me ! May the Devil take Jean with him !"

Sigebert was running in circle in Bertou's tent, hidden somewhere deep inside the forests. Bertou knew very well of his master feud with Jean, having sacked Provins' outback more than once, knowing there was no risk for him to do so. Jean's betrayal seemed highly ironic for the bandit, and he had the hardest time to stop himself from pointing it out.

"What's the next step of the plan ?" He said, trying to at least act like a concerned servant.

Sigebert stoped for a moment. "We need to keep the pression on Chateau-Thierry and the rest of Champagne. Theses death very much change my plans, but there is still possibilities..."

Meanwhile, the group sent to Soissons discovered a city still free from any siege. But on their way, many settlements and littles bourgs had been devasted. The few farmers left speak of a battle that took place on the road between Paris and Soissons, and how both sides had to retreat without being able to claim victory. Now, bands of soldiers and mercenaries from both sides haunted the region, both asking anyone they met with this simple question : "Soissons or Meaux ?" If one answered correctly, they let him go. If not...

Theodoric received the envoyed of Bardas with a warm welcome. In his palace, another lord was here, Robert of Paris.

"He had to flee his city". Theodoric explained. "A cabal of traders bought a full revolt, and now they wait for one of Sigebert's men to come and take over the city."

Paris falled. And the other news weren't any better. Rouen and Reims were still under siege, from the Normands and Vichy respectively, and Laon faced problem with the lord of Vermandois.

"Laon is untakable" Theodoric said. "But their countryside has been ravaged by Vermandois army. I'm afraid they might actually come here next."

The castle was very animated. Every room possibles had peoples busy with one task or another, all related to war. "We try to unite what can be united. There is loyalists that need to be contacted and peoples that need to be convinced. My jurists and our Bishop's clercs do what they can to create a united front against thoses "Francs Seigneurs".

"As it is, we can count, with you, about 2800 soldiers on our side and 1200 directly under Sigebert and his cabal. But there's also the Normands, around 3000 men. There's also Vermandois, maybe another 1000 men, and Verdun, another 1000. Reports tell us of Orleans ready to join in, another 1000 men for our ennemies...

... our only hope for now is to hold and wait for reinforcement from Auvergne. But it can take anywhere between weeks and months before Berenger can act."


Last edited by Grand Auvergne on Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:50 pm

When the scout returned from Soissons, Bardas knew that Theodoric was probably right, stay put and wait.

But, Bardas had saw the beginnings of siege engines being built in Sigebert's now destroyed camp, he couldn't hold out for weeks or months, Chateau-Thierry wasn't important to holding Champagne, but Sigebert obviously wanted it nonetheless.

Once the teams had returned, two new teams were sent out.

One to Reims to see if there was an opportunity to break the siege there.
The second was sent south to see if a route could be established to more easily send and receive messages and supplies. Auxerre was the first destination, if it was possible to get there easily then that would be a nice foothold into the south.

Bardas worried though, this rebellion seemed to wrap around the entire north of Auvergne, and he wasn't sure which lords held sympathies for Sigebert and which were loyal to Clermont. It might be more difficult to go south, and may be more worthwhile to attempt to go north and try to sail messages around, or perhaps go east, and try to make contact with Venice, though, that would take weeks. But, if he was expected to just wait here for weeks or months he may have to try it.

The dead of Sigebert's camp were buried there, on the hill where they were killed. What was to happen to Jean's men was up to him.
Maybe this would stop Sigebert's men from camping on the same hill if their comrades were buried underneath them, or if they did, perhaps that fact would lower morale, lessening the areas were Sigebert could gather to siege Chateau-Thierry.

Until the scouts returned Bardas would just focus on getting enough food to sustain the Barony, making makeshift farms within the walls, which gave the bored and scared populace something to work on. He would try to keep enough grain and cereals available in case this war lasted into the winter.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:56 pm

It took a little less than three days for Bardas men to join Auxerre. There, they met a city ready for war. Obviously, the news of the "Francs Seigneurs" revolt reached them, but the banner of Auvergne was still floating alongside thoses of the Duke of Burgundy and of the Bishop.

The road to the city was useable, if somewhat savages by moment. Really, nothing less or more than a normal road in the Gauls.

In Auxerre, the team will be able to gather more information about the preparation of Berenger. It seems that Theodoric messenger did reach the kings, and an army was being gathered. Already, the Burgunds have been call to arm and joined in Neuvers with the rest of the Auvergnats army. But no one seemed very optimist about the time it would take. Months, at best. The revolt came out of nowhere.

"Its not very surprising." Admitted one of the Bishop's advisors. "Every ten years or so such a thing happen. But normaly, you can see it coming, because you need something big to trigger an insurection. Traditionaly, taxes raises. But I guess a minor chain of events that angered theses lords would have been enough and invisible from here..."

Meanwhile, it took Half a day for the other team to reach Reims. There, they could see what Theodoric talked about: one thousand men encircled the city in a bigger version of Sigebert's try with Chateau-Thierry. Siege engines were already being built and, by the look of it, it would take a month or so to achieve them. To kill time and gather foods and ressources, the countryside was ravaged by bands of raiders. It wouldn't be surprising if one day, theses troops were to reach Chateau-Thierry but for now, they seemed to stay on their side of the hills.

On a good note, Epernay seemed to have joined the "Soissonians", as the loyalist faction was starting to be called. More and more, a clear West-East divide was forming. Even if pockets of one faction or another were still here and there.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:13 am

The only thing that could be done in this situation, or predicament, was to make more soldiers out of the local men, that, and, exploit the temporary weakness of Sigebert to gather as many supplies as possible.

Bardas thought constantly, even while working his mind was racing, thinking of ways to combat Sigebert and Bertou.
He saw the unfinished siege engines, if the walls couldn't hold Sigebert back long enough before help arrived perhaps Sigebert's personal morals could be tested.

He hated to admit it, but Sigebert seemed fairly sane, just an opportunist who was probably in well over his head.
The man made an offer to Bardas first, instead of outright attacking. There was still a man inside of tne beast.
Sure, the law was on Bardas' side in that story, but now wasn't a time to whine about laws, this was war, and Bardas knew he had a duty to protect his people as their Baron.

The captain had sent more men out to trap the fields, and to build an outpost on the hill where Sigebert formerly camped.
But, Bardas had his own idea, an idea that wouldn't cost nearly as much, and may prove just as effective.

Bardas had built, around the Barony's walls, shrines to saints, crosses, and other Christian icons.
A shrine to Crispin and Crispinian, various crosses, and memorial sites for those who had died all were built and placed in strategic positions.
If it proved to only increase the spirits of the townsfolk and not slow down the invaders, then it was still worthwhile.

Bardas had also decided to have the outpost that the captain had built on the hill to be disguised as the beginnings of a church to keep the rebel armies further away from it.

Bardas did worry, and see a flaw in his plan.

He knew Sigebert was a Catholic, but was Bertou?
Would Bertou and his men be sent in to destroy the icons and keep Sigebert's conscious free?
Bardas felt that if they tried to move the religious items that he could cry of desecration, and have a decent chance to get the word out there and perhaps win the emotional war, if he couldn't win the physical war alone.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:09 pm

"Boss, they've built a church. Why would they build a church in time of war."

Bertou grumbled something and smacked his underling on the back of his head. "Idiot." He said. "This is not a church ! This is a millitary outpost disguised as a chuch !"

The bandit was in awe before his boss cunning. Bertou was just getting tired of having the worst of Francia as soldiers. Well, as meatshield for his real soldiers, anyway.

The two men were hidden behind bushes, spying on Chateau-Thierry.

"So, why aren't we attacking ?" asked the other bandit. This stupid question won him another smack on the head.

"Because, while we can attack a church when we're just between us, when we're under someone else payroll, we can't, as it would unite the people against our employer !"

"...why ?"

Another smack on the head and no answer this time.

"Shut up and return to the base. Tell the boys to arm themselves up and go on a rampage somewhere. I think I see what part of the walls could be good enough for our plan."

The second didn't ask anything anymore and just returned to the forest. Nobody would tell him any plan beyond "go there, do stuff".
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:48 am

It was a night like any other, the sharp music of cicadas, the crackling fires throughout the Barony, and the whispers of people chatting lowly were the backdrop to the peaceful, cool night.

It was only when a pained cry came from a far side of the Barony that the town came alive.
A group of soldiers of Sigebert's army had apparently snuck up to a quiet portion of the Barony's walls, and were attempting to climb up.
One such soldier had apparently slipped into one of the trapped holes that were dug and had broken his ankle.

The cries gave way to horns being blown and the soldiers of the Barony all waking up, or looking out for enemies at their posts.

There were about twenty or so enemy soldiers trying to scale the walls, the guard who spotted the army managed to hold off most of the men by himself before he was overwhelmed.
Reinforcements arrived and fought the bandits back, slaughtering most, some even were bashed back over the walls, where they thudded onto the hard ground below. The hooks the bandits used to attempt to climb up were pulled up, and arrows were shot down at the bandits now stuck at the bottom.

Bardas was up and active, the perks of being a light sleeper, the first horn shook him awake, and there he was, right at the wall where the bandits had climbed.

That was brutal, Bardas thought.
"We can't afford to relax or treat our situation so lightly, this is definitely war.
We can't have an entire section of our walls unpatrolled."
Bardas spoke to his captain quickly after the last bandit who had climbed up was down.

"I agree, we'll have to double patrols, at least until reinforcements arrive." The captain replied.

It was at this unfortunate time that reinforcements did arrive, just not the ones the captain had intended.
Screams of battle came from the front gates, and the majority of the army went running, following Bardas' and the captain's leads.

There was a small battle indeed, two more soldiers had apparently climbed the walls near the gates while everyone was distracted with the group on the far wall.
The guard at the gate fought valiantly, holding off two men at once before being distracted with one bandit and ran through from behind by the other.

Both bandits saw the army running full speed towards them to avenge their fellow soldier, and ran for the gates, clawing at them, looking desperately for the latch, unfortunately finding it before both being each swarmed by heavily armed soldiers of the Barony, who effectively tore the duo apart.

The soldiers of the Barony went to close the gates again before they were beaten to it by a group of Bertou's men, who pulled the gates open from the outside. Both armies were somewhat startled meeting each other like this, it seemed as though Bertou's men had expected them all to still be on the walls fighting, and the Barony's men, well, weren't expecting an army at all.

The captain was shocked at how silently Bertou's men were able to move, but regained his composure when he saw the army facing him, opening his cities gates.

He still had the bottleneck, and somewhat, the opportunity of surprise, and before the front gates were turned into two armies throwing themselves at one another, he would capitalise, throwing out commands, breaking the dumbfoundedness of the Barony's guardsmen, and reminding them all of their roles.

He ordered his archers to fire at Bertou's men, the first arrow effectively breaking the floodwalls.
As one of Bertou's soldiers collapsed, the rest of their army rushed in, dealing heavy blows, blocked by the superior armor of the veterans, but killing or injuring many new, lightly armored recruits.

Bardas himself got involved at any area he could, helping to bolster lines that were at risk of being overrun.
Bardas had sworn that Bertou himself had hit him, even though he could not be sure if the man was even present.
A huge cleave had come down upon his shoulder, nearly crumpling Bardas completely, he felt he would have lost his arm, or had it damaged enough that it would be removed had it not for his Byzantine-style lamellar deflecting the blow.

The fight continued on for what felt like hours, Bertou's army having savagely pushed up enough to not have the gates shut on them, and to be picked off from the walls.

Bertou's army made gains, but after so much time fighting it was obvious that their spirits were not in this fight, not nearly as much as the soldiers of Chateau-Thierry who had been subject to the propaganda of Bardas' mind, telling them of their superiority, and their just cause.

In their attempts to move up, Bertou's army had been reckless, leaving themselves open to easy attacks. Having already gone through the less well equiped portion of the Barony's guard, the heavily armed remainder was painful to remove, their armor proving difficult to pierce. This only led to more savage attacks, Bertou's army throwing many men at just one or two targets at a time, which was successful, but deadly for the attackers.

As the sun began to rise, it was obvious that Bertou's army had exhausted itself, while the Barony's guard had held out well enough all things considered, swapping out tired soldiers for fresh ones whenever possible, a luxury Bertou's men could not afford.

Soon the front gates were growing more and more quiet, as the number of men decreased on both sides, but on one side clearly more than the other.

Some of Bertou's men, common soldiers, fled the battle, realizing their fate if they were to stay behind, they mercilessly left the more experienced men behind to cover their retreat as they ran back to their forested hideaways.

The few remaining soldiers who didn't wish to die surrendered, once it was obvious the soldiers weren't returning with reinforcements.

Bardas watched the final scene: Somewhere between 30 to 40 men lay dead at the gates of Chateau-Thierry.

Twenty, twenty-five or so more over at the initial battle site.
A few men surrendered, and we subject to harsh treatment by their captors, something that Bardas decided to overlook for the time being.

He had no idea if Bertou was with the group that surrendered, as he had never gotten a good look at the man before, and the bandit that had joined the Barony who would be able to identify him lay dead at the gates.

The dead were gathered together, the enemy soldiers were burnt in various piles, and the soldiers of the Barony were all given proper burials.
Bardas would see to it to pay any widows their husbands year of salary. He could afford it, after all.
It was the least he could do.

Esaias silently walked up next to the man who was obviously in his own world of thought, and waited to be acknowledged.

Feeling quite Pyrrhic, Bardas broke the silence:
"If we are victorious in one more battle with the rebels, we shall be utterly ruined."
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:47 pm

Bertou was not happy about his men performance. The Distraction Team had been spotted and disposed off far too early. The gate had been opened but right into the enemies. If he had another choice, he would have prefer to retreat and live to fight another day, but they were already in contact and the same trick wouldn't work twice. So they charged.

He mostly stood behind the melee, to scream and shout orders and guide his men. Most of his rank and files bandits were just able to take down one frank of greek soldier at a time, and only by going at five against one, doing the dirty tricks Bertou and the older bandits taught them, like two holding the arms of the soldiers, while a third was able to bypass his armor and slice his throat, or go for the legs. Only some were organized and professional enough to do so. The other died.

But too many of them died and soon, they fled the battle. Bertou shout at them to come back and keep on fighting, but it was too late, their moral was completely broken. Finally, all that was left were the elite of Bertou against the elite of the Barony. Theses bandits were organized, efficient, and somewhat calm despite the odds. Figthing by pairs, they proved to be quite a challenge.

But even then, Bertou saw very well where this was going. He had to join the fight, hiting and denting armors or flesh. Slowly but surely, the bandits retreated, one feet of ground at a time, without breaking formation. But when they were close to the gate, something happened, Bertou wasn't sure off, and the soldiers at the rear started running for the forest, soon followed by the whole team. But Bertou and some couldn't and had to fight until the very end.

That it, until they were completely encircled and had to throw their weapons, not really hoping it would save their lives. For the first time in many years, Bertou's cliver touched the ground. The bandit leader smiled, he was at peace. He knew this day had to come and now that he what there he wasn't as scared as he thought he would be. Even the pain when a garrison of angry soldiers started hitting him and his last men with their feets and fists wasn't able to brake him. He was going to be hanged. The story was finished. The rest hardly mattered.

Meanwhile, Sigebert saw the whole debacle from the forest. Disgusted he would just return to his camp, take his men with him and go back to Meaux. His "attack phase" was over. Now was his turn to be on the defensive.

In the followinw weeks, three news arrived at Chateau-Thierry. Two bad and a good one. First : Berenger finally reached Neuvers and the Auvergnat army was slowly forming. Second : One third of the Normands army was left to besiege Rouen, while the rest slowly climbing up the Seine toward Francia, ready to fight the troops left to defend the Vexin. And finally : Berenger wasn't the only one coming from the south. Orleans opened its gate and a thousand men strong troop left the city to join their ally, Sigebert.

The final phase of the battle of Francia seemed to be on its way.



The situation after the battle of Chateau-Thierry.

Circled in red : the lands currently part of or occupied by the revolt of the Francs Lords.
Circled in blue : the lands currently sided with or occupied by the party of Soissons.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Rorukheim on Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:56 am

Fécamp, Northern Francia-
News of this revolt of lords reaches far and wide. To the sands in North Africa, the mountains and valleys of Italy and Greece, even you the icy land of Rorukheim. Konge Ragnar, listens to this news with great interest.
A few days later a ship is spotted off the coast of Francia, near the town of Fécamp. The ship sails to shore and waves a flag of peace. They bring a few items to trade into the town. But the Vikings seem interested in two things. Who leads the revolt, and where can they find them. The North remembers all and these Normans were once from the same icy home as were the Rorukheimians
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:16 am

Bardas looked down towards the gates, remembering the battle and all who died.
The Baron subconsciously rubbed his shoulder, which Bertou had earlier chopped at like he was preparing to turn Bardas into a stifado. The slight sting of pain shook the man from his thoughts for a moment.

Bertou... He thought again. That would be a good gift for the next Count of Meaux, and a nice way to start that relationship off. He would be keeping the cleaver for himself however, as a reminder of these times.

Bardas had wandered off the ramparts, and into his room, picking up the cleaver, testing its weight in his hand, he examined it. The handle was somewhat worn from being held so often, and the blade was exceptionally sharp, but, noticeably, a bit shorter than your ordinary cleaver, the result of months or years of sharpening, he supposed.

Bardas set the cleaver back down, thinking now only of his situation.
Berenger was in the north, downstream of Orleans, meanwhile the bulk of Orleans' garrison had left, and was seen marching for Sigebert.

If Bardas knew this, than so did the Lord of Orleans, and Sigebert both.
Was it a test or a trap to try and have Sigebert attack Orleans?
Bardas supposed he couldn't work himself up over that, there was nothing he could do to effect that. Besides, he was certain that Sigebert could sniff out a trap if there was one.

Then there was the army seen coming down from Rouen, and into the heart of the rebellion.
Bardas had a job, he knew. Keeping the people of Chateau-Thierry safe.
He could tell them all this, but they had just started to come out of their houses again, no longer hiding themselves away, huddled together, waiting for the worst.

Things were starting to feel normal to them again, he couldn't take that away, not completely.

Morale had been low the days after the attack, a good number of people had lost brothers, husbands, friends, or neighbors. Bardas worked to boost morale, and it was finally paying off.

He would have to let them know something though: That the rebellion still rages on, Sigebert still lives only miles away, but would soften the blow by telling them that Berenger's army had entered the north, and that everyone would soon be able to relax. But, the Barony still needed to be vigilant should Sigebert attack in a last stand.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:16 pm

The vikings managed to be indicated the direction of Rouen, the city the lord of Fecamp was currently besieging.

There, in the war camp built for the occasion, the Normand lord received them. Not out of any feeling of brotherhood with the peoples of Rorukheim -100 years, a convertion to Christianity and many wars separated them from their "cousins"- but because potential allies and mercenaries were always welcome.

Meanwhile, Jean of Provins, once healed, regaigned his city. News of the war's progress kept reaching Chateau-Thierry, now that the siege was trully broken. Theodoric of Soissons was still fighting the Count of Vermandois and the revolted in Noyon and Beauvais, while Reims was still holding against the Verdunois whom plan seemed to be to starve the city.

The Renegade Lord of Orleans made the news as he defeated the army of Senlis and took over the roads linking this loyalist city and Mantes. Now, the loyalist bastions of the Vexin were cut off from the rest of the "Soissonais", which proved to be dire, as they barely hold against the Normands. The Renegade Lord, however, took advantage of the situation not by besieging Senlis, but by letting his men raid the now defenseless region, and then returning to Paris for unknown reason, where he was received as a hero.

The reason of this meeting was that, in secret, the Lord of Orleans convoked his peer from Meaux. Sigebert had no choice but to come to the revolted city in secret. He feared the Renegade Lord. The man had a reputation of dishonor, brutality, and a list of crimes long like his arm -a list where the "illegal occupation of Orleans from its legal masters, the Robertian familly", was in good place- and was one of the great strategists of the Gauls -with his rival, the champion of Auvergne, lord of Bourges : Michel the Just, being one of the only man alive able to defeat him on a daily basis-. What more, he was victorious against the loyalist while Sigebert, despite his efforts, had been completely defeated.

And he was right to be dubious. While at first, the meeting seemed "normal" for a secret discussion, the tone changed very quickly.

"You see my dear friend" said the Rogue Lord, " I have doubt about the way this campaign is handled. I think I should have a more...important role, in this event."

"And why that ?" Innocently asked Sigebert.

"Because you are unfit to lead it." The Rogue Lord was brutaly honest. "And because I am unsatisfied of our past agreement."

Soldiers of Orleans entered the room and sat on each side of the lord of Meaux. The Rogue Lord laugthed and smiled gently at Sigebert.

"I think we will renegociate some of our terms."
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Rorukheim on Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:44 pm

Rouen, Francia-
The Vikings send fifteen out to Rouen. In a day they arrive at the siege camp. The group contains ten Fekter, in their chainmail, and leather armor. They carry huge round shields and Nordic swords. They're following the five others with them. Four of them are berserkers, carrying great axes, war axes, war hammers, and swords. Their bull skull helms make them look like the Minotaur of legend, conplimenting their beastly style of fighting and driving fear into the hearts of men. They last man and obvious leader of the group is a man in the robes of priest. He adorns a golden cross around his neck. The only thing that makes him distinguishable from a normal priest, is a gold band around his wrist, depicting the Nordic serpent eating its tail. A gift to him from Ragnar.
The Vikings walks through the camp, the Norman's turn to look at their visitors. The Berserkers man a few men stumble, but the priest with them confuses them. The priest steps forward.
[Athelstan] "We're here to see the leaders of this revolt! We have some good news for him."
A cruel smile creeps across Athelstan's face. He used to be a monk of the church, until the faithful day were Ragnar's raid party sacked his monastery and took him as a slave. Eventually he and Ragnar built up a strong bond of fellowship. Thus Ragnar freed him and made Athelstan, his advisor. Althea tan is still a priest and is allowed to worship freely, but the Vikings imbedded within him, a little bit of their warrior spirit. Secretly he has a war ax buried in the folds of his robes.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sat Apr 15, 2017 6:52 am

The normands looked at the northerners suspiciously, especially at the Berserkers. But nobody stoped them, and most soldiers were happy with just ignoring the viking delegation and just return to their daily tasks.

Ceneric, lord of Fécamp and commander of the camp while the rest of the army was further down the Seine, met Athelstan outside of his tent with his closest confidents. Some of which seemed surprised to see a man wearing the robes and the cross around his neck with the northerner, but no one bothered to make a remark about it.

"And what is this good news you bear, monk ? What will come out of the frozen north this time ? And what kind of deal does your master wish to make with our party ?"
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Rorukheim on Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:52 pm

Athelstan gives Ceneric a warm smile and shakes his forearm.
[Athelstan] "Lord Ceneric is it? I've come to tell you that your plight has been heard in the north. The Council has decided to support your most honorable fight against the tyrants. Rorukheim is ready to supply you with an army to help fight in the war. The Rus have also agreed to bring their armies as well. We do though not come just out of good will. For our help we ask for pay, and the right to keep any plunder we take."
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:49 pm

Ceneric :

"I see, well, please let us enter my tent, so we can discuss the matter in more details."

"First, how many men will you be able to deploy and in how long ? Secondly, for the price, I think our party can pay for one denier for each of your men, by month. Thirdly, the right to dispose of your plunders as you see fit is a given, with the condition that you avoid cities and lands possessed by our party and allies.

This does seems to be fair conditions for me. Do you see any objection ?"

===

With the passing days, the figure of Sigebert was slowly overshadowed at the head of the revolt by the one of the Rogue Lord of Orleans. He was now in command of an army of two thousands men, half from Orleans and half from the locals. He then attaked the Vexin, meeting with the Normands army and defeated any troops or army from Mantes, Montfort or Dreux, laying siege to theses cities and cutting all links between them. He then took his men to the east, and defeated another army from Melun that tried to break the siege of Etampes. In a two week span, his troops did more harm to the loyalist than the preceding months of fighting. Soon, it was him that the other revolted send their letters to and asked for advices, and even order, no longer bothering with the Lord of Meaux.

But by the end of theses two weeks, Berenger finaly made his move. Eleven thousands men from Auvergne and Burgundy marched from Neuvers to Auxerre, then to Joigny and Sens. Their destination seemed to be Melun, where they called for the lords of Champagne to meet him here.



Circled Red : Occupied lands by the Francs Lords.
Circled Blue : Occupied lands by the Soissonais.
Blue dots : Soissonais cities under siege.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Rorukheim on Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:20 am

Athelstan thinks for a second, carefully going over the terms. He turn back to Ceneric.
[Athelstan] "All that is acceptable. We can have seven thousand here within four days. But first we have one last condition. We want the Duke's son, Richard."
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:59 am

Bardas didn't waste any time, if Berenger's army could make equal the scales of this rebellion he would ride for Melun, leaving Esaias in charge, which, given that this was wartime, meant the captain and Esaias were near equals.

Bardas took two of his soldiers with him, he knew these lands weren't necessarily enemies, but with the rebellion so close, some protection was needed. The group followed the existing paths, eventually leading towards Coulommiers, Bardas sending in a Frank soldier to the village to get an idea of their feelings, not daring to go in himself just yet, lest the locals attempt to appease the rebels with the Greek that they had captured.

Once supplies and any intelligence was gathered, the group continued along the river that ran through the town, towards the Marne.

The turrets and spires of Melun came into view, it was a terribly nice sight, Bardas thought.
Chateau-Thierry wasn't as big a settlement, not yet, but the aesthetics would look quite nice on the Chateau, which Chateau-Thierry was named for, Bardas had to admit.

The group rode into town, imagining that Berenger had to be in the castle, he looked out for banners, or signs of other lords in the area along his way.

Bardas knew that this entire rebellion could be pinned on him if he didn't play the game correctly.
He would have to see if he should maintain the attitude he had in Clermont when confronting Sigebert, or if he should play a more humbled role.
Berenger didn't seem to appreciate the feud between Bardas and Sigebert then, but perhaps his anger would have shifted completely towards Sigebert.

Appearances did matter after all, Bardas knew that. Especially in front of a King, even during wartime.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:19 am

The Normand lord seemed suspicious. Him and his advisors whispered among them in their strange speech, a mix of gallo-roman and the nordic speech of their ancestors.

"In four days. That means their fleet must already be ready for war." Noted one of the advisor. "And that they're already somewhere in Brittania. Maybe in the south of the Jutland, but the winds would have to be really in their favor to achieve such a travel in such a short time."

Ceneric thought for a little bit. Was this priest that confident in his master's troops ? Beside, seven thousands vikings, already so close... he made a sign to his treasurer and discussed numbers. The clerc was vigorous, even with the awfully low pay Ceneric offered and the shared-budget between the normands lords, seven thousands would be too much to sustain on the long run, especially when they already had to contract so many debts. Ceneric nodded, the treasurer returned in the rank and the lord faced again the so strange monk.

"An interessing offer I must say." He returned to latin so he could be understood. "But seven thousands of your kinsmen might be too much for this land. As it is, we will gladly accept to pay and maintain one thousand of yours as mercenaries."

"As for Richard, the junior king, that is I'm afraid, something I cannot promise. As the only heir of Auvergne, he is under strict protection and I'm doubtful he would even by present in Francia at all. But if you trully desire him so much, your men will be free to try and get him. If the Auvergnats are utterly crushed in battle, I'm sure their king will have no other choice but to accept to your terms, whatever they are."

===

Many banners were already present on the walls and towers of Melun and soon, Bardas own flag was added to them. Not all the lords of Champagne were presents, but it seemed it was because of the distance more than any kind of reluctance.

All lords came to the castle and saluted their king, kissing him on the cheek as per tradition. Berenger seemed unexpectedly happy. He was smiling, joking with his court, and of great company in general, despite wearing his green travel cape and his gambison, and having his sword by his side at all time.

A surprise to thoses unfamilliar with the King of the Franks methods was the sheer number of monks in his party. Sometime, it felt like the castle of Melun had been transformed into a monastery, as many regular clergymen wearing the robes traditionals of the Abbey of Aurillac or Cluny, were walking through the corridors, discussing in the halls, head in their books or writing the King's minor correspondence and edicts, or analysing datas and reports of all kinds. This was the alliance between the Armandian and the Gallic Church in action, the spine of Auvergne's war effort.

Bardas arrived just in time to see an unexpected event. Jean, lord of Provins, finally meeting Berenger a decade after his defeat. He bowed and kissed the sword of the Auvergniat King, who then ordered him to stood up and kissed him on his cheeks, before presenting him to the assembly present :

"This man is my brother and friend. He has my sympathy and protection. All that shall do him harm will harm me as well !"

It was the formula, spoken in a flawless latin. With this phrase, Jean was restored in his honor and it was finally acceptable again to be seen with him. Just this fact seemed to have restore a bit of his old self to Jean, that looked more human than when Bardas first met him, his cape draping him less like a distorded shadow and more like a real cape.

Tomorrow morning, all present lords were called for the first war meeting. The situation was explained to the kings, efforts coordinated, informations shared. And during all this time, never Berenger seemed taken aback or lost his reassuring smile, like if he already knew all that was told around the table and that it pleased him.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:51 am

Bardas appreciated tradition, and followed the other lords leads, not wanting to seem backwards, or arrogant.

He did personally wish that Berenger would be handling this situation with a more serious disposition.

Where was the man that had confronted Bardas all those weeks ago in Clermont?
Bardas had lost men, and so had Berenger, in a roundabout way.
This wasn't a hunt with the local Lords, not an opportunity to rub elbows and drink wines, this was war.

Bardas was ready to tell Berenger that he could probably gather a few hundred men, maybe a thousand or more from the Empire when he first rode into town.
Emperor John had already sent thousands to this area earlier, although, that was probably more a show of force to the other Mediterranean realms than anything else, Bardas imagined.

Still, he was sure he could get some men to help if he worded himself correctly.
But, Berenger seemed to have plenty men, plenty more if the men behind the banners on the walls would commit their armies to the cause.

So, why did Berenger seem so indifferent? Perhaps it was a part of the spectacle of regency?
"A king always knows what he means." Bardas had heard before, he supposed that applied to this.
Hopefully Berenger would take a more serious stance at the morning meeting, especially with this new position, so close to Orleans.

But, Berenger still seemed to be rather calm.
Usually war was at least.. well, somewhat civilised. When it was between two civilised parties, that is.
Populations were not usually wiped out. Rather, decisive victories were made, and talks of peace began.
But, Sigebert had destroyed farmland with his commands, and had started riots that consumed cities.

He couldn't expect to unite his future citizens, or to get them to respect the man who had effectively starved them, and destroyed their homes.

Sigebert had obviously become uncivilised in his fervor, Bardas thought.
Effectively giving control of his rebellion over to bandit hordes.

Bardas just hoped Berenger had a plan. That's all he could do, hope.
He would have to, in the meantime, remain quiet, listen intently, and speak softly.
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Grand Auvergne on Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:54 pm

The day after a reunion, part of the army amping outside seemed to have just vanished. The camp stood exactly as it was and nothing had been moved or destroyed, but there was just less soldiers going on to their daily buisness. No flag were missing and, at night, there was as many firecamps as before.

The last lords arrived some days after and another reunion was called, this time to discuss how many soldiers each one could bring to the fight. But during the reunion, one monk came to Berenger and whispered something to the ear of the king. He nodded and the monk leaved. Then Berenger stood up and spoke to the rest of the table :

"My dear friends, we just received the news that the forces I dispatched prior are returning from Reims, victorious. The Verdunois were taken by surprise and the siege they layed, broken. What was left of them was forced to flee eastward, and it would be surprising if they returned in their state. We now have officialy retook control of all lands east of Meaux.

I did not inform you of the operation to keep the surprise, and I did not hope to see results this soon, but we can now think of the coming battles without risking an attack from our rear."

He sat down, and let everyone return to their debates and strategies. After many hours, most of the council agreed with returning to their cities to gather their troops, and meet again with Berenger's army while messages were sent to the Soissonais to do so themselves. But this time, Berenger fixed a strange location.

"Meet us in Paris." He said. "You'll see, it is a pleasant trip."

But before Bardas could leave the city, one of the Colored Knights came to see him. "His Majesty the King wish to see you."
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Re: The Lords of the Marne

Post by Hellas on Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:07 am

Bardas gathered as many men as he could, still leaving enough behind to patrol the walls.
Berenger didn't expect Bardas to empty the town, did he?

Bardas didn't even feel comfortable taking this many men away from Chateau-Thierry, the Baron had promised the group that this would be over soon, but here he was, leading a march.

Hopefully though, Bardas thought, the few men of Chateau-Thierry would seen insignificant overall for any real fighting Berenger may have planned.

Nevertheless, Bardas had a job, and loyalties to Berenger, no matter how titular those loyalties were.

Berenger had said 'Meet in Paris', that would take Bardas and the other lords of Champagne along the Marne, past the dominion of Meaux, wouldn't it? No roads, after all...

Unless they all were meant to delay armies by going around?
No mention had been made of that by Berenger.

Bardas and the army marched for Paris, but would send a group to scout ahead to see if they could get past the lands under the authority of Meaux safely, perhaps by crossing the river if needed.
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