Injurious Incident

On the 27th of October, after a couple of days in Grudnjak the comrades left to complete their ‘reconnaissance’. Braggadocio, wine and beer had induced them to espouse an attack across the border into the lands of the Ban of Bosnjana and five of the younger village franklins had volunteered enthusiastically to join the adventure.
Miguel muttered… “I thought this was supposed to be a clandestine reconnoitre, not a bloody war.”

Moving up river, the expedition met a challenge from a well mounted and spectacularly accoutred knight to dispute access to his causeway to the little sandy spit in the river that he claimed… the Heroes, still battered and bruised by the boar, refused his challenge. Miguel; reflected that Pavel had hitherto, rarely refused such an encounter.

The river which marked and formed the border was in spate so the group’s local allies, who had now grown to 31 archers and spearmen, collected boats of a bewildering assortment, at the village of Oteš, to affect a passage. The heroes decided that the flow was too great and the craft too flimsy to swim the horses across successfully, so they proceeded across the river without their mounts.

Thus, on foot, the little band of heroes and their auxiliaries approached the village of Crkveni-Bok some miles north of the river crossing. As they emerged through the gap in the woods, almost all they could see, were a series of small, but high hedged enclosures surrounding small village from the rooftops of which rose the heady wood-smoke of hearths and curing hams. A few villagers abandoned the open fields surrounding the enclosures and fled into the hedges, indicating that the settlement had been taken by surprise.

The expedition split into two forces, according to a pre-arranged plan. Radovan, Pavel and Miguel, each with his groom, led a group of 7 Letniciani spearmen straight for the enclosures. To their left, Pedrag and Yezid led 11 spearmen, screened by Draguldub with 6 archers, intent on outflanking the defenders.

15 Crkveni-Bok archers DDragoldub & 5 archers MMiguel & groom + 7 spears
214 spearmen & leaders PPedrag & 11 spearmen PaPavel & groom
311 serf clubmen YYezid RRadovan & groom

Dragoldub led his skirmishers straight for the leftmost enclosure, which presented an apparent entrance. However, when he got there he quickly realised that, although there was an entrance, there was no other exit and thus, no easy access to the village. He quickly abandoned the idea and doubled back along the western face of the enclosure to turn the obstacles by moving around the north face.

Meanwhile the direct assault advanced on the more southerly enclosure facing them, soon to be met with ranging shots from defending archers, hidden behind the high hedges; no-one was hit and their advance continued unabated. However as they closed to 100yds the arrows increased in intensity wounding Pavel’s groom and three of the spearmen. The spearmen broke and ran for the woods behind them, dragging their own wounded and followed by the wounded groom. Pavel and Miguel, accompanied by Miguel’s groom, Giuseppe ran straight for the hedge, hefting their long-axes behind their shields. Radovan and his groom veered to the right to try the lane approach to the village.

At first sign of an attack, the village headman, Čedomir of Crkveni-Bok, had gathered his shield-bearing freemen, some fourteen in all along with his trusted advisor, Bogoljub, a retired warrior of some fame and the village priest, Father Grgur, behind the hedge immediately to the west of the houses. Ahead of these in the enclosure were four freemen archers and a serf huntsman. In the enclosure to the north of them, were the most trustworthy 11 serfs armed with axes, sickles and staves, with orders to ambush anyone who attempted to enter the village from the north. The remaining serfs were escorting the women and children into the woods to the east and herding the cattle in the same direction.

As Pavel and Miguel reached the hedge, Pavel was hit in the thigh by an arrow, causing a flesh wound, another shaft embedded itself in his shield and a third clattered off his mail shirt. Miguel was also struck harmlessly by two of three shafts to his shield or armour; whilst Pavel’s groom was felled by another barb. While this happened, Radovan and his man, Marco were advancing along the lane and Dragoldub was leading his archers along the northern face of the enclosures, followed by Pedrag, Yezid and the spearmen.

Pavel and Miguel then slung their shields and went at the hedge to clear an entry point with their axes. The archers facing them through the hedge, fell back, shooting at the noise and movement of their hacking. By the time they emerged in the clear, several more arrows had been turned by Miguel’s armour, but Giuseppe had taken a wound to the side and fallen back behind the hedge. Pavel was not so lucky, he crumpled seriously wounded back into the hedge, struck almost simultaneously by three arrows, one piercing his thigh and two more penetrating the mail covering his chest. Miguel shouted to Giuseppe to help Pavel and charged alone into the archers to his front. These turned to flee out of the entrance, but were met by Radovan and Marco charging into them. In moments three archers were dead and the other two cowering in surrender.

On the northern flank, events had been equally dramatic. Dragoldub’s archers rounded the end of the northern hedge, quite unaware of the serfs behind it. The serfs boiled out of the enclosure, a swarm of flailing staves felling axes and slicing sickles; two archers were hacked to death and a third beaten to the ground, the survivors fled in blind panic, leaving Dragoldub and Yezid alone to face the serf’s fury. Fortunately for them, Pedrag led his spearmen in a charge to the rescue. Faced with this, the serfs sensibly decided that they had done their job and all broke and ran for the woods.

In the archer enclosure, Miguel ordered Marco to bind the prisoners. Then he and Radovan, equally unaware of what waited beyond the hedge, charged around the corner into the village, just as Bogoljub led the Crkveny-Bok spearmen into them. The fight took place in the narrow passage between the hedge and the houses, where the villagers superiority in numbers, counted for little. Radovan had a hard time against the veteran warrior, but Miguel fought and slew in a red mist. Forgetting to retrieve his shield and draw his broadsword, he cleaved his way into the throng, slaughtering with his great axe; in moments, four villagers lay dead at his feet and the rest broke and fled. Just at this moment, Pedrag, Dragoldub and Yezid led their spearmen into the north and east of the village surrounding the survivors.

Crkveny-Bok yielded little loot and there was no time to round up its livestock, or the villagers who had successfully fled. The Heroes and their allies trod a slow path back to the river, carrying their wounded, along with ten captured peasants. Only the two archers had actually died, but another archer and three spearmen had been wounded along with Pavel and the two grooms. Pavel’s wounds were very serious and he had to be carried in a litter, back to Oteš where he rested up, the whole party in fear for his life. A local wise-woman was persuaded to tend to him, which she did with much mumbo-jumbo and evil smelling folk medicine… but it had its effect and within a few days, Pavel was able to travel by boat to Saczow and the care of a more respectable doctor.

On the doctor’s advice, Pavel was persuaded to winter in Saczow and Pedrag and Dragoldub decided to winter there too. Radovan, Miguel and Yezid rode rapidly back to Atraverso, with only the slightest of untoward incident. At one point the three and their grooms were challenged to hand over their money, by a group of a dozen or so brigands, who had cut down a tree, across the road. Miguel arming his shield, tossed a crown into the mud and drew his broadsword. He explained to the bandits that he would pay then the crown to remove the obstacle… and if they refused, he would kill them all… they removed the tree.
"Who would have thought I would be using one of Vlad's tales to deal with bandits" he thought. "At least I think that was what the tale was about. Difficult to tell with that accent. Maybe he was talking about drowning kittens."

In Atraverso, the group took a room in a familiar inn whilst Radovan paid court on the lovely Maria. Although the beauty maintained her affection for him, her parents were of an entirely different mind and forbade him ever to see her again. A midnight tryst followed, at which secret lovers plans were laid and the weary trio rode on to Triente.