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No Place Like Home

Author File Description
Lord Ap Hywell
File Details
Map Size: 400x400 (Large)
Difficulty: Normal
Minimap:
NO PLACE LIKE HOME - WINNER OF THE 2007 STRONGHOLD: CRUSADER FANTASY SCENARIO COMPETITION!

This is my first fully completed and submitted map. I realize the back story is rather long, but it's in your best interests to read it, as it may give you a hint about how to take Arklost for yourself. I also realize that all anyone really wants in these things is pretty pictures, so I'll humor you and a few before you have to read the nasty mean stinky story-poo. Enjoy it and give me some feedback!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And now- ZEE STORY!

“Bravo!” the emperor Siegfried called, applauding and leering at the same time as the three nearly naked dancing girls bowed and stayed bowed long enough for him to see all he wanted to see. There was a lot, so it took a while.

The emperor of the Empire (and it was THE Empire, no other adjective required) was somewhere in the vicinity of sixty, but his appearance was that of a man in his early thirties. It was rumored by the more superstitious in his court that he maintained this youthful appearance by means of black magic blood rituals, but there was no substance to these wild tales and most dismissed them outright. Good breeding was the real secret behind the emperor’s vitality and vigor, they said.

There could be no doubt the ruler of the most powerful empire on earth had vigor, and had it in spades. He winked at the prettiest of the three dancers and nodded his head slightly to indicate she should stay behind after the other two had left. He extended a hand, grinning slyly through his bushy brown mustache. The dancer took it and smiled seductively; the better a time the emperor had with her, the better her reward was likely to be. Siegfried rose from his throne and pulled his latest plaything towards the closet exit from the room, completely ignoring his courtiers and the rest of the people in the room.

One courtier coughed, politely, but still insistently.

“What is it?” Siegfried asked, voice betraying annoyance at the delay.

The courtier, a son of a high-ranking noble, coughed again. “My lord emperor, some of your guard officers have spoken of seeing massive clouds of dust rising to the southwest past the foothills.”

The emperor said nothing, merely gave the man a look that said, very clearly, “Get on with it.”

Not quite expecting so little a reaction, Conrad, son of the duke of Bonchurch- that was who it was, the emperor finally remembered- reddened, though the actions of the scantily-clad dancer trying to pull the emperor suggestively along may have contributed to the fact. “Your officers suspect that the dust might herald a marching army- a very big one, given the size of the cloud.”

The look was still there. The silence stretched uncomfortably.

Conrad made the classic mistake of trying to fill that silence. “My lord emperor, if an army is approaching us, surely we should do something to prepare?”

“The Empire,” Siegfried said, speaking very slowly and patiently as one might to a small child, “has stood for more than a thousand years on the strength of its armies and on the skill and expertise of its engineers. This very castle-” He stamped his foot for emphasis- “has weathered more than half a dozen sieges in the three hundred years since it was built and has yet to fall. The latest siege, only a hundred years ago, involved the entire armed might of the nation of Padgorinia, and still Arklost has not fallen, thanks to the skill of its builders and the defenders that man its walls. I’m not going to worry about one miserable little army when I’m enjoying myself behind its walls.”

Conrad flushed an even brighter shade of red at the sarcasm lacing his final words and bowed his head, indicating he would say no more. The emperor nodded curtly, in bad humor, and followed the tugging of his curvy courtesan to the nearest door. “See that Bonchurch’s son and his personal guard are all placed in the northern holding cell. I’ll deal with them tonight,” Siegfried muttered to his trusted manservant as he headed for his bedroom.

* * *

“The situation does not look good,” Pashtik muttered, just loud enough for his brother Rinjab to hear and wonder if he was speaking to him or to himself. Rinjab grinned anyway, indecently cheerful despite their current position. The brothers were lying prone on a ridge perhaps three long bowshots away from the first layer of walls protecting the fortress and summer palace of the Empire, Arklost. For all its apparent architectural beauty, the newly-christened palace was a stone beast, ready to chew up and spit out any army foolish enough to attack its walls. No army had been, in the last hundred years. All that might change shortly.

The brothers were both scouts in the fourth section of the Army of the Four Nations. It wasn’t the most original name, but the leaders had had other things on their minds when they invented something to call the conglomeration of forces. The brothers were members of the former state of Kushduk, and they and the peoples of three other former nations had been pushed north and east by numberless hordes of invading Jar-eds.

The Kushduk, Neerfalans, Santagons, and Turquesan peoples had all been allied into a loose confederation for more generations than could be easily counted and usually worked together for mutual benefit. Each country tended to specialize in specific areas based on its physical geography and location. On the steppes of the far south, Turquesan horsemen had ruled supreme until the Jar-eds had driven them back by sheer numbers. From there, the enemy had pushed north into Neerfal and run amok through the rich, lightly-defended farmland that served as the Four Nations’ breadbasket and which was traditionally protected by the sea and its three more militaristic neighbors. Neerfal’s contributions had always come in the forms of food and supplies rather than fighting men. Moving east, the Jar-eds skirmished with the bowmen of Santago and Santagon traps and ambushes had taken a heavy toll, but still not enough to stop the numberless masses.

Pursued by their implacable foe, the remainder of the Santagon, Neerfalan, and Turquesan peoples fled north into rocky and mountainous Kushduk. Sharing a border with the Empire for hundreds of years had provided the Kushduk with an incentive to maintain a professional, well-trained army. The skill of its scouts were legendary, and the corps was used to guard the country’s numerous high passes, while a central reserve of mobile swordsmen provided a powerful weapon ready to be moved to wherever they were most needed.

Kushduk swords held the Jar-eds long enough for their allies to cross the border, but the Jar-ed numbers still told and now the Army of the Four Nations had been pushed from its homeland and marched to find a new one. Its only course lay through the Empire itself, and surviving a trek across the thousands of miles that comprised the Empire was unlikely at best. So instead they would have to fight.

“I think we can take it,” Rinjab said to Pashtik.

“Didn’t you tell me that last week about that guy in the bar?” Pashtik needled. His brother winced; the broken nose and bruised cheek were still plainly visible. A noise off to their right made them turn, hands on their swords, but it was only one of their men, sent out earlier to reconnoiter. The scout saluted them and then gave them his report of the area.

“The palace walls are manned, but the city behind it is pretty bare, and the men there are mostly militia. Arklost, meanwhile, will be almost bare of melee fighters- apparently Siegfried’s pissed at his guards and has most of them on a punishment parade beginning before dawn tomorrow outside the walls on the parade ground.”

Pashtik’s jaw nearly hit the ground at this good news. But before he could say anything, the scout continued, grinning widely. “Better yet, it would seem the emperor is a dabbler in black magic, though not a very talented one. He’s had one of his noble’s sons locked up, along with his guard, in a prison a little north of the palace. There are rumors that he maintains his youth by blood sacrifice, and after seeing the temple near the prison, I’m pretty certain it’s true. If we free this noble, we could probably make good use of him, assuming we rescue him in time. We’ll need some help to break the place open, and fortunately, a ship full of mercenaries had landed on that beach to carry out some repair work on the siege weapons they were carrying. My men made contact and they’ve agreed to work with us for a share of the plunder we’ll get when we take the city, should we decide to attack.”

“Praise be to the God-of-All in all His forms,” Rinjab breathed. His brother was equally astounded. The conditions were unbelievably perfect and would need to be passed on to the Lord Sanjay, along with detailed reports about the terrain.

“There’s one last thing,” the scout said. Pashtik and Rinjab were amazed to see his smile grow even wider. “The emperor has no heir. If we can remove him in the fight…” He didn’t need to finish the thought. The Empire had ALWAYS had a ruler. If one were to be removed suddenly and without a successor to boot, they might just cause enough chaos to carve out a chunk of land big enough for the remaining exiles from four nations to hold onto and live on.

“This needs to be passed on to the Lord Sanjay,” Pashtik said, voice a little hoarse.

* * *

After his meeting with the scouts, Lord Sanjay settled back in his camp chair and steepled his fingers together in thought. The conditions for taking Arklost and the city it guarded were as close to perfect as would ever be attained, but taking the mighty fortress would still be a hard and dangerous task. It was quite likely the coalition would be gutted in the attack, even if it were successful. They could move on, of course, but then what? Arklost and the emperor would still be there, and threat to their rear, and sooner or later they would be crushed. If taken, Arklost would serve its new owners as well as its current ones, and would give the shattered peoples time to rest and rebuild some of what they had lost.

Removing the emperor was key. It would prevent the rest of his empire from dealing with them since they would all be busy fighting amongst themselves. The opportunity of killing him was simply too good to be ignored. His mind firmed and the decision was made. The Army of the Four Nations would attack at dawn tomorrow.

Strictly speaking, the decision was not his to make, but by dint of his capabilities, he had risen to become the unofficial leader of all four nations and what he said more often than not was accepted. There were those who were jealous of his success and were plotting to remove him by violence. But not for nothing had he risen to greatness. He knew all about their plans and had altered his own accordingly. He gave orders to his aide-de-camp, and the word was passed along to the soldiers to prepare for the assault tomorrow. Lord Sanjay would personally command the remaining Kushduk swordsmen and share the same risks as they would. Tomorrow they would win themselves a home, or they would die in the attempt.

Terrain Report
From the Desk of Lord Sanjay

The fortress of Arklost is situated on a large cliff which bisects a small river flowing from the northern hills. The northern branch flows through a marshy valley where most of the city and palace’s agriculture has been relocated. The north branch flows into the newly-constructed harbor, where an imperial supply barge is currently docked. It’s taking on merchandise to sell in the markets and will be used to help finance the conversion of Arklost from a southern border fortress to a palace fit to be lived in by the emperor. Sections have been redesigned for aesthetic reasons and its military buildings have been removed, giving it an empty feeling in some places, but Arklost is still a fortress first and foremost and will likely prove to be unexpectedly deadly. The southern branch of the river is much like the north and ends in a marshy lake, but there is little agriculture there as yet simply because of the relatively short time the emperor’s entourage has been there. East of that is a much drier valley, which serves as a graveyard and holds the bodies of prominent local figures- one of the nicest examples is a large sepulcher, the northernmost grave. The whole area is maintained by an old and semi-retired monk. East of the palace and north of the cemetery lie drier, fertile fields that have been cleared of the previous owners’ farms at the emperor’s orders to be used as a militia drilling ground, though the emperor has used part of the ground to cultivate coffee and dates, some of his favorite menu items which could never survive in the swamp-like river valleys. Troops can usually be found training there, while the walls are guarded by two ballistae and several archers, militia spearman, and one or two professional soldiers. An aqueduct, meanwhile, taps the source of the river and passes through the city walls, providing the citizens with fresh water. Scouts have identified the aqueduct as a likely site of infiltration. Lastly, in the northern hills a hidden prison was discovered, as well as a decaying temple just west of it, staffed by a black-robed monk. The son of the duke of Bonchurch and his personal guard are being held in this prison and scouts are in position to kill the monk, but help will be needed to break into the prison itself. Caution in all instances is advised; the terrain is unforgiving for all its peaceful appearance.
AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
jake0402 does this work for the expansion?? and howd you make the graphics so good?? WOW!! I'm downloading it right now.... =)
Lord Ap Hywell
File Author
Err... yes? Not sure what expansion you mean. And thank Firefly for the graphics, I just work with the tools they've given me.

Thanks for the download!
Lord Karpathea Very, very impressive. I'll DL and rate this one.
strongforce2 This is a pretty awsome map. I was just wondering.. How do you get the stone floor without raising the whole ground and making it lvl to the wall? your advise would be realy helpful cuz ive been working with like 30 other dudes for like 2 years on a HUGE Rome Map like like the one for Stronghold but for crusader and bigger. So if you could tell me how that be great. good job on the map.
AZ ViTrAzhAs strongforce2, I didn't fully understand your question, but lowering walls and keeping the landscape's size unchanged is a minor editor trick, when you place rocks on walls (Rocks lower the walls by leveling them with the height of the landscape). When you placed the rock ON the wall, lower the landscape to minimum, use the eraser to clear the stone wall from rocks inside, and then repeat the process until you achieve the desired height of walls.
A a lot of eyecandy and invasion maps contain this editor trick.

[Edited on 10/07/07 @ 03:23 PM]

Lord Ap Hywell
File Author
Could anyone who's played it post either a review or a rating of some kind? I'm anxious to hear what you all thought of the different parts of this.
DragonSpawn Strongforce2, he made level ground and put stockpiles for the floor, then squished the walls with Large Rocks

[Edited on 03/08/08 @ 09:26 PM]


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Size:833.25 KB
Added:09/25/07