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Several hundreds of feet below the black rain clouds which crowded the skies of Daria, the wet earth took on a hue of brown and dark green in the approaching dusk. A lone eagle scooping low over the plains noticed the unusual amount of activity in the meadows and hills but chose to ignore it. Down on the ground, tents had gone up by the tens and soldiers, camp followers and camp guards could be seen scurrying about their duties in the twilight. A lone tent stood hundred paces away from the farthest in the cluster. What distinguished it from the others was its rough texture and the dusty brown colour rather than the majority black. An armed guard with an evil looking scimitar stood guard just outside the tent, his face a mask of serenity.

Inside the tent, Ramadan Ali Bin Ahmed Ali, also known as "Ramadan the Fierce", slowly stood up above his prayer mat and sighed with contentment. He had every reason to be satisfied for he had been given a vision, a vision he had thirsted for, a vision he had trained himself for, a vision he had joined these heathens for. Slowly, he relived what he had come to him during his prayer - a scene from tomorrow's battle with himself charging the infidels, a flaming scimitar in his hand. And the enemy was none other than the hated "Teutonic" Knights of Daria, those very barbarians who had defeated his father in battle and set fire to his village. And the best part was the last - the Teutons broke and fled, howling in agony as his scimitar wreaked havoc among their lines. The only oddity was that the vision blurred for a moment thereafter, and showed him charging, and charging again and again....why so many charges?

The Plains of Daria

The Plains of Daria

While Ramadan Ali pondered over what he had seen, five warriors stood near a burning fire outside a big tent and sipped the wine from glasses handed to them by servants. All of them wore black, and listened to a man with a sword in his hand as he pointed to a crude map drawn on the ground. Any student of military history of the plains of Daria would have instantly recognized him - for he was Sejanus "The Black" Joseph, rebel commander who had left the Teutonic Church of Daria and joined the followers of the Church of St. John, soon becoming their undisputed leader.

The reason for Joseph's being in the plains today was interesting. The Bishop of the church had on many occasions deplored him and his fellow "black men" as pagans, which never failed to amuse him. On this occasion however, the church had gone one step ahead - and declared a divine battle with the wearers of black with the intension of subduing them in time for St. Joan's day. Days had passed with the Teutonic knights assembling to heed the call of their church and fight the rebels. And finally on the eve of St Joan's day, the armies had found each other, with the battle inevitable on the morrow.

Sejanus gestured with his sword at the hills he had drawn on the dirt. "This one hillock on our right flank is going to be the key to our plans. If I know the Teutons correctly, they will look for space to deploy their foot soldiers in the middle, facing our center, and that would mean that their cavalry will have to be to our right or our left." He made a questioning glance at his second in Command, Gregorious Thorpe. "Mi Lord, as all you can see, our right flank has more open space than our left, which is rather crowded by all those thickets and the buildings. I would wager that the Teutons will place their cavalry facing our right". Sejanus nodded, he could see the logic of the argument. "Tell me Lord Thorpe, if you were in charge, where would you place our cavalry? Left, right or center?". Thorpe was ready with the answer "To our right Mi Lord. We have better chances of breaking theirs given that you yourself would be leading the horses" Sejanus had to smile. Thorpe knew his habits well enough to predict that he would prefer to control the mounted wing himself.

"So here we go gentlemen: our horses with the artillery" he nodded at his artillery commander, Lord Blackhouse, "will keep to our right flank, just beyond the hillock. The artillery will stay put in it's initial position unitl the necessity arises for it to venture into the plains. Our plan is to draw the enemy's attention towards ou center where most of our foot will be. Once he is occupied with the center, we will advance in the right flank, and I will personally lead my men to crush their left". Everyone nodded, but Lord Thorpe still had his doubts. "Mi Lord, what do you propose that we do with Ramadan Ali and his men?" Sejanus thought for a second, then said: "Ramadan deserves a chance to fight - for that is why he joined our cause. I will put him in the front row of my warriors". Thorpe nodded again. The battle promised to be interesting.

A few miles awayfrom where Sejanus "The Black" had drawn on the dirt, another drawing was being made. Only this time it was made on a dearskin rather than on the dirt. Straightening up from his drawing, Lord Manoj D'Souza, pious follower of the Teutonic church and Lord Commander of the Teutonic Knights, smiled at his subordinates who had assembled in his tent.

Lord Manoj glanced over the map and pointed in the genral direction of the enemy camp. "Our opponent the rebel Lord Sejanus is very much a cavalry general. By any estimate, he will deploy his cavalry in a key position - and I venture that it will be in their center or to their right, with more chances for the former. My intention is to make our cavalry do the initial fighting - for they are our strongest - and for this they'll need planty of room." One of his subordinates ventured a question: "Are you proposing that we deploy our cavalry facing the hillock?" "Precisely! In this way, we'll get enough leverage to turn thei flanks while we hold fast in the center with our foot soldiers".

The thought of the foot soldiers made them wince internally. Despite its best efforts and promises of heavenly glory, the Church had been hard put to bring up an army. While the knights could hold their own, the only reliable foot unit was a unit of Foot Brethren fron the hills, who had pledged their support and were due to arrive in the morning. The rest were mostly militia, and in a few cases, fisherfolk from the coasts whose skills of fighting were sharpened in tavern brawls than in the battlefiled. All said, the army lacked in muskets and arquebus, and hoped to make it up using their slightly superior numbers of cavalry.

Lord Manoj proceeded to spell out the instructions for each commander. Once all doubts had been clarified and the logistics looked into, he signaled the end of the meeting. "It is all settled then - may the heavens help us". The assembly crossed themselves and filed out of the room, each man lost in his own thoughts.

The Armies Deploy

The Armies find each other

Night passed over the plains and soon, the Sun rose over the mountains, announcing the beginning of a new day. In the camp of Sejanus the black, the morning prayers included special offerings for St. Joan, after whom was named the day. Rejuivenated and excited, the army started moving out into the plains to face the enemy. Sejanus himself took the right flank, and watched as his mounted command moved into position. Soon, he would join them and lead the battle. Time was passing slowly indeed.

The Teutonic knights reached their postions shortly therafter. Facing Sejanus's Cavrly were the Teutonic cavalry and facing his foot were the assorted teutonic foot soldiers and their artillery guns. Lord Manoj took the left flank, in charge of the cavalry. He waited, all the whle eyeing the movements among the enemy ranks. Despite the rains, Manoj D'Souza felt the heat rising. Today's battle was going to be decisive for his men.

Standing atop the hillock, Sejanus glanced over his army's positions. Satisfied, he raised his lance and dipped it twice. Down below, the groups captains of the cavalry squadrons yelled otu the orders "Advance!". The whole of the mounted troopers spurred their horses into a trot and the lines moved forward in an orderly fashion. Sejanus adjusted his spurs and clicked on the reins. He started moving to a new position further down the slope.

The advance did not go unnoticed in the Teutonic lines. The commanders glanced at each other, looked at their own well formed lines - and waited. Incredibly, as first the enemy cavalry and then the enemy foot moved out into the plains, the Teutons waited and watched, hardly stirring from their positions.

Sejanus saw what was happening, and decided to put this his advantage to good use. He decided to spped up his original scheme and gave orders for his cavalry to advance further and faster. The knights heard the horn blowing, announcing the decision to increase speed. They pressed on eagerly - the enemy cavalry appeared to be immobile, and they were confident of themselves. Leading the pack was none other than Ramamdan "The Fierce" Ali. His face glowed red in the morning sun, a huge wild grin contorting his facial features. The sound of the horns increased the flow of adrenalin in his veins - at last, revenge was going to be his!

Hooves racing in the sun, by the valiant led; Like thunder from the skies, did the valourous fight; Like the rivers of old, did the faithful bleed; Of men doth I speak, who spared no thought!"

Firdouz, Turcopole Poet

The spirit of their leader was spreading like wildfire through the ranks of Ramadan Ali's cavaliers. Without realising, they spurred on their horses into a canter, and soon, distance increased between the turcopoles and the rest of the knights following them. As the distance closed, Ramadan Ali's thoughts and blood began to race. He was seeing everything now - images of his father, the burning of his village, the black knights and the battlefield swirled in myriad colours before his eyes. He lowered his lance and let out a wild yell. "Jihaaaaddd!"

The advnace of Ramadan Ali's turcopoles caught the attention of both sides. The teutonic knights finally got their wits together and Lord Manoj ordered his cavalry forward. Soon they were within charge distance of ramadan Ali and his men and the distnce was closing by the second.

Sejanus, on the other hand, was startled. This was something he had not expected. One of the first things he had done in taking Ramadan Ali's men into his team was to give strict standing instructions that under no circumstances were the Turcopoles to act without orders. Too late, he found that Ramadan Ali was yelling at his men to charge...

His voice thundering across the plains in a firce yell, Ramadan Ali led the charge into the lines of the Teutons. Directly to his front were a unit of crossbow armed Teutonic cavalry, who trembled in their saddles. The captain of the bowmen was caught by surprise when the charge raged at his unit. Quickly recovering his balance, he ordered the unit to fire. A hail of bolts spewed forth at the yelling turcopoles as they approched. But the tucopoles kept coming! It was as if they had failed to heed the bolts, for such was their fury. The bowmen desparately tried to reload, but their efforts proved futile, and the charge rammed home with a chorus of yells, screeches of men, yelping of horses, clash of metal on metal and the sound of thundering hooves....

Ramadan Ali Charges!

....and to the shock, surprise and astonishment of all who watched, the Turcopole line broke as if it had hit a stone wall, reeled and crashed back in a tangled disorder of horses and men. Unable to maintain cohesion, they fled towards the rear where the rest of their cavalry was assembling. On the teutonic side, the horse archers nealry broke with the effort, and struggled to control their horses who had gone wild and thrashed about creating chaos among the soldiers.

Perhaps you would care to teach such eminent tactics to my men as well? ... Those sheperd boys of yours would do better tending to the camp's livestock than fighting, it seems.

Thorpe, to Ramadan Ali

Silence enveloped the ranks as both units regained control. Ramadan Ali was stunned at what had happened, and his fellow soldiers were totally bewildered, unable to beleive what had just happend. Ramadan led his horse through the lines, glancing at each of his men, his eyes searching and failing to find an explanation. Ali slowed down and stopped altogether, his face red with shame, his thoughts full of images of his village burning and his inability to do anything to stop it...

Lord Thorpe found him in this state, and stared at him for a while. "Perhaps you would care to teach such eminent tactics to my men as well?" The sarcasm in his voice snapped Ali back to reality. "Those sheperd boys of yours would do better tending to the camp's livestock than fighting, it seems". Ramadan's mind was afire. It was happening to him again. The village was burining again..."Ramadan Ali, do you hear me?" He did not hear any more of what Thorpe said. No more of failure. No village of his would burn again. No infidel would mock his brave brothers again. Turning, spurring his horse, he galloped forward "Yaa khudaa!" The turcopoles caught his message. They yelled after him, "Inshaaallaaah!!", and charged yet again....

As the Turcopole poet Firdouz later described it in his epic poem "Al fardeen khayyamat",

"Hooves racing in the sun, by the valiant led; Like thunder from the skies, did the valourous fight; Like the rivers of old, did the faithful bleed; Of men doth I speak, who spared no thought!"

The turcopoles thundered yet again across the plains, over bodies of their fallen and into the ranks of the enemy. The bowmen, confident because of their earlier victory, waited eagerly for yet another chance to beat back their enemy. With a mighty crash of metal on metal, the turcopole charge slammed home - and tore the mounted teutonic bowmen apart! If providence had helped them the last time, it failed to do so now, and the teutons found themselves outskilled, outclassed and outfought by the fierce and bloodthirsty turcopoles, who despite being in disarray managed to inflict heavy loses on the enemy. The bowmen fled for their lives. And Ramadan Ali's men went in hot pursuit, their yells echoing across the plains.

The pursuit continued past the lines the heavy Teutonic cavalry, stopping every no and then as the Teuton Bowmen tried desparately to fight a rearguard action to break off the pursuers and save the unit. But the turcopole fury knew no bounds, and the fight raged...

The Effects of the Charge

It was difficult to say who was more affected by the charge and its results. For the Teutons, it was the inevitable happen, for they had expected the bowmen to be routed the first time around itself. For the knights of St. John under Sejanus, it was confusing and inspiring at the same time. Confusing, for they had all heard Lord Thorpe criticise Ramadan Ali and seen his reaction to it; inspiring, for they had witnessed thre grim determination of a single man. There was unrest among the ranks. Men were spoiling for a fight and the leaders were finding it hard to control the soldiers. Sensing trouble, Sejanus Joseph himself hastened to the side of his units. He was still on the slope of his hill, where he had stopped to watch when Ramadan Ali charged. He sensed the urgency of his need - his men were getting uncontrollable and the last thing he wanted was a repeat performance of what had just happened. With the intention of issuing the orders personally, he spurred his horse on, and the general and his staff raced to reach the knights on the plain.

While Sejanus raced to get to his knights, the Teutonic commander Lord Manoj D'souza ordered his center to assume defensive positions. He could see that the foot soldiers of Sejanus' army, grouped under a single command, were advancing across the plains to occupy the set of buildings which was near to their deployment area. If everything went as planned, the Teutonic foot would stay put in their defensive positions in the center, aided by artillery. The cavalry was in confusion following the fateful charge by Ramadan Ali, and Manoj began issuing hasty orders to put them in proper order and formation. The Teutonic cavalry soon moved closer to the knights of Sejanus.

The knights of St. John, alias Sejanus's men, watched intently as the Teutonic cavalry closed in. Some of them turned back to look around for Sejanus, but failed to find him in the dust and dirt churned up behind them in their wake. All the time, the Teutons were closing! the units were getting truly nervous, and Thopre sensed it acutely. Frantically, he looked around for Sejanus, the only person whom the knights obeyed with any command. But sejanus was not to be found on the hill! In vain, he issued hold orders, but the knights were already moving. Suddenly some one shouted "Ramadan Ali!!!" and the knights replied with their own respective war cries. Before Thorpe could blink, the whole mounted wing took flight, canter turning to gallop and shouts turing into blood curdling yells and cries. Yet another charge had begun!

Sejanus was stopped short in his tracks when he saw his knights racing away from him. Cursing, he spurred his horse on - there was no chance of Thorpe bringing the units under control all by himself, and Sejanus knew it. Unknown to him at the moment, the advance in the center halted at the same time. Sejanus had promised revised orders for the foot command, which had failed to arrive. Then, news of Ramadan Ali's first setback reached them. Lord Blake, in charge of all the foot soldiers, did not hesitate; he ordered some of the units to fall back and awaited further news!!

The knights of St. John, aka the knights of Sejanus, fierce and loyal warriors, clad in leather, mail and plate, galloped towards the Teutonic lines, intent on avenging Ramadan Ali, their valiant fellow soldier. The whole battlefield stood still and watched as the steel flew at break neck speeds to meet steel. With a series of earthshaking "thuds", all of Sejanus's mounted units crashed into the teutonic knights....

And hell broke out!Chaos reigned as the men ensued to entagle themselves in a fierce melee, spilling blood and gore. Metal tore through steel and cut into flesh while yells, curses, shouts, war cries and commands added to the din of battle. The outcome was mixed and confusing. After fierce fighting, half the units of Teutons were repulsed, while half of Sejanus units too were thrown back.

Fiercest was the fight between Lord "Pious" Robert Blackham's men and the opposing Sejanus's unit. Lord Pious Blackham personally led the melee, and fought from the ground after his mount was cut down from under him. His opponents routed, but Lord Pious was not one to give up. He relieved an enemy knight of his mount, and jumping into his saddle, set off in hot pursuit. The whole unit followed suit, not even hearing Lord Manoj's frantic orders to halt in their raging battle lust. Out into the plains did they pursue, hacking and cutting through the enemy lines, still yelling for more blood to avenge their own fallen. In their haste, none of them noticed that they had left the lines of the formation, had gone too far out into the plains, and were now approaching the hillock where the loaded artillery guns of Lord Blackhouse waited...

Lord Blackhouse, Artillery commander to Sejanus the black, was his usual self. A smoking pipe in his mouth, his face bore a look of contenment. It was as if the melee raging in the plains, as if the war itself did not concern him. Philip Thorpe, Esq., brother of Lord Thorpe and squire cum page to Lord Blackhouse was standing in attendance near his master. "Perhaps Mi Lord would care for a drink?" asked Philip, and was surprised to see his Lord gape, consequently dropping his pipe into his own lap. Following his gaze out ito the plains, he saw what his master had seen. A whole bunch of yelling Teutonic knights were appraoching the hill at full speed! Lord Blackhouse stumbled up, knocked his chair over, and brushing Philip aside, ran for his gunners. Even as he ran, he shouted orders at the men: "Fiiiirreeeee!!!". The gunners, starled out of their small talk, set the fire to the guns without even pausing to think. Two whole batteries roared in sequence, and sent deadly fire hurtling at the invaders...

Lord Pious Blackham and most of his men did not even see what hit them. With their cry of "Glory be to God!" hanging in mid air, the valiant found themselves enroute to forever world in an instant. The cannon fire punched holes through the lines, and the unit routed. Those who survived turned back and fled, hardly aware that they passed Sejanus himself en route, not even noticing the rallying cries of the Teutonic commanders.

Sejanus the Black had finally caught up with his men. Standing atop his horse to make himself visible, Sejanus ordered his men to halt, breaking off melee and preventing hot pursuits. But still, he was not entirely successful. One unit of knights paid no heed and rushed forth for the Teutonic camp which was now visible to the rear. Seeing that there was nothing he could do to stop them, Sejanus directed his attention to more urgent matters. Riding to the front line of a disordered unit, he raised his standard, and ordered it attached to that of the unit's. And the men went wild!! Sejanus "The Black" was going to lead them personally! Cries of "St. Joan with us!! The Black knights never fail!!!" went up and every unit got the general idea - they were going to charge!

Lord Manoj was tiring himself out trying to hold his units in place in the aftermath of the fight. To add to his woes, the Teutonic camp now stood open and the enemy was already making a run towards it. Trying hard to protect the camp, and the flank of the infantry, he ordered the nearest units to turn and face to the left in an attempt to protect the flanks. To his shock, the nearest, and the only ones who could react in time, were the fishermen levy, who stood shaking in their positions. With repeated orders, cajoling, shouts and threats Lord Manoj managed to get them to turn and do as he wished. But as was obvious, this was not going to be enough.

With Sejanus in charge, the events took a turn. Standing directly against his unit were the Guards of the Teutonic crown, fierce, strong, murderous men who would fight to the last man. In a flash, Sejanus closed on them, and before the Guards could wink, was leading his men in a fierce melee. The Guards quickly came out of their surprise and lashed out with their lances and hefty longswords. They hacked; and chopped; and cut; and thrust; and fought with great skill - but Sejanus's men refused to budge! Chaplain Catellan, the captain of the Guards was dazed. No one could have withstood such an onslaught from his boys. Still determined, he ordered them to attack with renewed vigour...

...and Sejanus's men stood! It was as if they did heed the deadly blows which the Guards inflicted, as if the meleee was but a mock fight. Chaplain castellan was now really desparate. His guards were tiring, while the enemy showed hardly any strain. And then, Sejanus ordered his men to strike back.

Sejanus Takes Charge

The Guards recoiled as if hit by a giant arm, and broke ranks. Sejanus led off in hot pursuit, dealing yet another massive blow to the stricken men. Wave after wave of lances punched into the ranks of the Guards and routed them. Chaplain Castellan himself was slain, and the rest were slain or cut down. True to their tradition, they had fought to the last man, but had lost the melee forever.

The situation elsewhere on the plains was not much different. The rout of the indomitbale Guards did not help the morale situation of the army. As Lord Manoj tried a last ditch action, there came a wail from the rear - the Teutonic camp had fallen. An the Fishermen were running for their lives, while the foot Soldiers of Sejanus were crossing the plains, loaded muskets and arquebus gleaming in their hands...

Lord Manoj D'Souza froze atop his horse. In slow motion, he watched dazed as his units fled, routed or were cut down. The army was being pushed back, the camp was burning. Sejanus's guards were coming for him. Slowly, still in shock, he turned his saddle towards the rear of this army, and ordered a retreat...

The battle had ended for the Teutons. The rain clouds were back, as black as the cape which Sejanus wore, swollen like the eyes of Lord Manoj. Lightning and thunder raked the plains, and the heavens wept for the folly of men.


Several hundreds of feet below the black rain clouds which crowded the skies of Daria, the wet earth took on a hue of brown and dark green in the approaching dusk. A lone eagle scooping low over the plains noticed the unusual amount of activity in the meadows and hills but chose to ignore it. Down on the ground, tents had gone up by the tens and soldiers, camp followers and camp guards could be seen scurrying about their duties in the twilight. A lone tent stood hundred paces away from the farthest in the cluster. What distinguished it from the others was its rough texture and the dusty brown colour rather than the majority black. An armed guard with an evil looking scimitar stood guard just outside the tent, his face a mask of serenity.

Inside the tent, Ramadan Ali Bin Ahmed Ali, also known as "Ramadan the Fierce", slowly stood up above his prayer mat and sighed with contentment. There would be no more black dreams for him, no more burning villages. His father's death stood avenged, his enemy had been severly defeated. At last, he, Ramadan Ali Bin Ahmed Ali, had found his peace.

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