The First Northern War is a conflict during the trilogy, between The North and The Union. The war stretched across Angland and The North, with multiple engagements, including the battles for Dunbrec and the High Places. It ended in a victory for The Union and the death of the King of the Northmen, Bethod.
The Union and The North were in conflict some two hundred years before, when King Casamir conquered Angland for the Union, which had been populated by Northmen. The Union also tried to extend its influence into The North itself, but Skarling Hoodless, a great hero and war-leader of The North, united the northern clans to defeat them.
A number of years before the start of The Blade Itself, a ruthless and skilled war-leader named Bethod, started to unite clans under his rule. He frequently used duels in the circle to subjugate clans, and also made use of magic with his sorceress Caurib. He proclaimed himself King of the Northmen after uniting almost all the northern clans, with only a few hold-outs like the hillman Crummock-i-Phail. He was spoiling for a war with the Union, partly to gain territory, but also to strengthen his fragile hold over The North by uniting the recently conquered clans against a common enemy.
Hostilities Open Edit
The North sends emissaries, Fenris the Feared and White-Eye Hansul, to Adua to offer a peace proposal, in return for the territory of Angland. When The Union refuse the peace terms, Bethod’s forces invade Angland capturing the key fortress of Dunbrec on the River Whiteflow, starting war between them.
Angland was thrown into uproar with refugees pouring into Ostenhorm. Lord Governor Fedor dan Meed could not stand idly by, waiting for Union troops to arrive as the Closed Council had ordered him. He gathers all the able men he could find, and meets Bethod's army in battle. Fighting as best they could, but outnumbered and outmatched, they suffer defeat after defeat, the worst being the massacre of four full regiments in Black Well, including all three of the Lord Governor's sons.
- Twelve regiments of the King's Own: seven of foot and five of horse;
- At least as many men in Levies from the nobles, though of rather poor quality.
The Battle on the River Cumnur Edit
The Union forces arrive in Angland, and are soon joined by a group of rebel Northmen led by Rudd Threetrees. Lord Marshal Burr splits the army into three commands, two to flush Bethod onto the field where the Union’s five-to-one advantage can win the day, and one to guard their back led by Prince Ladisla.
However, Bethod’s main force eludes Burr, and head directly south, closing on Prince Ladisla division. Thanks to his rebel Northmen scouts, the Prince is given warning of their approach. Nonetheless, Ladisla, urged on by his flunkeys, demands that the division meet Bethod in battle without delay, rather than remain defensive as ordered. Prince Ladisla’s one regiment King’s Own and three times that number in ragtag Levies, would be facing Bethod’s ten thousand hardened Northmen.
Deployed for battle, Ladisla’s army sits and watches a small band of Northmen on a hill above them; the bulk of Bethod's forces were hidden behind the rise. The Prince orders the cavalry to charge. Once the cavalry disappears over the hill, the Northmen quickly massacre them. Heavy mist begins to rise around the Union forces, created by the sorceress Caurib. Emerging from it is Bethod’s true army unleashing hell with crossbows. Colonel West orders the retreat, but chaos ensues as the mist thickens and Bethod’s cavalry join the fray.
The Battle for Dunbrec Edit
Bethod’s army move north, ignoring the easy pickings of Ostenhorm, and encamp outside the captured fortress of Dunbrec to draw the Union into battle. Thanks to the growing number of rebel Northmen, the Union are well aware of Bethod’s movements.
The Union forces were based to the west of the fortress. Burr orders General Kroy to proceed down the road to commit Bethod’s forces to battle. Meanwhile General Poulder brings his troops through the trees to the north to take Bethod in the flank. Burr holds his Calvary in reserve.
The morning of battle, Kroy’s men advance, and the two sides clash. Burr’s confidence spikes as Kroy holds, however Bethod's cavalry unexpectedly appear on the opposite ridge from Poulder, and join the fray. Also, before Poulder’s men can engage, they are attacked through the forest by thousands of Shanka. The reserve Union cavalry is committed to reinforce Kroy’s position, which continues to hold.
The battle ends with the Union victorious, but barely. Having taken heavy losses, Kroy has succeeded in forcing Bethod’s troops to retreat, as has Poulder on the flank. Dunbrec is quickly put to siege, and after three months, the Union recapture the fortress, thanks to the efforts of an enterprising sergeant.
The Battle of Uffrith Edit
Having pushed Bethod’s army out of Agland, the Union take the fight into The North. The rebel Northmen, now under the Dogman, sneak into Uffrith and silently kill the men standing guard at the docks. Dogman divides the men into squads with tasks assigned. Once the missions are complete, Dogman rings the town’s bell, calling the citizens to gather. Rather than butcher them where they stand, he disarms them and lets them return to their homes. Uffrith is now under Union control, an important port to bring in men and supplies.
The Battle in the High Places Edit
Another northern chieftain, Crummock-i-Phail, joins the rebel Northmen. He comes up with a plan to lure Bethod into a trap in the High Places, allowing the Union army to flank them. Reluctantly, the Dogman agrees to follow the madman’s plan.
Crummock leads the Northmen high into the High Places to his ‘fortress’, an ancient crumbling wall, full of cracks, and coated with creeper. They set to work repairing it, knowing that it might save their lives. The whole stretch of it is built up to three times the height of a man, with a decent ditch in front, and a new made parapet on top, with plenty of slots for shooting arrows from.
They repel multiple attacks from Bethod for seven days, including charges from the wildmen beyond the Crinna and the Shanka. On the seventh day, Bethod sends his best troops, his armoured Carls. The Carls use a battering ram to break through the gate in the fortress. Just as the rebel Northmen seem doomed, the Union forces finally arrive, having been delayed by the death of Lord Marshal Burr. New Lord Marshal West immediately orders the cavalry charge, and Bethod's unprepared army is routed. The Union victory is decisive, however Bethod himself escapes.
The Close of the War Edit
Bethod takes refuge in Carleon, and the Union put siege to the fortress city. However, no sooner is the siege in place, than Lord Marshal West is order back to Midderland to the Battle of Adua. With the risk that Bethod may escape, the rebel Northmen offer a duel between Logen Ninefingers and Fenris the Feared.
Logen brings the sword of the Maker to the duel, and the Feared brings no weapon but his armour. The Feared win the shield spin, and chooses the armour, to Logen’s relief. In the duel, Logen hits the Feared with mortal wounds in his tattooed side, but he can do no harm to the flesh where Glustrod wrote. Even going Broody-Nine doesn’t help Logen. The only time, the Feared is hurt is when West loosens a strap of his armour. Eventually, the Feared grabs Logen in a crushing hold. Meanwhile, three rebel Northmen infiltrate Carleon and kill the sorceress Caurib, who has been using magic to aid the Feared. This seems to weaken the Feared, allowing the Bloody-Nine to drive his sword straight through the Feared, from the painted flesh across into the unmarked half. Fenris the Feared tottered backwards, and died.
Winning the duel allows Logen to freely enter Carleon, and kill Bethod, effectively ending the war in a victory for The Union.
Logen Ninefingers is declared the new King of the Northmen.
The human casualties in the war for the Union, both citizens and soldiers, were large; probably well over ten thousand with the massacres in Black Well and the River Cumnur. Notable losses include:
- Three sons of Fedor dan Meed die in Black Well
- Lord Smund dies in the Battle on the River Cumnur
- Prince Ladisla dies soon after the Battle on the River Cumnur
- Rudd Threetrees dies in the Battle for Dunbrec
- Cathil dies in the Battle for Dunbrec
- Lord Marshal Burr dies soon after the Battle for Dunbrec
- Tul Duru Thunderhead dies in the Battle in the High Places
- Rond, son of Crummock-i-Phail, dies in the Battle in the High Places
- Lieutenant Kaspa dies in the Battle in the High Places
The human losses for The North were also huge; probably around ten thousand with the massacre in the High Places. Notable casualties include:
- Crendel Goring dies in the Battle in the High Places
- Littlebone dies in the Battle in the High Places
- Whitesides dies in the Battle in the High Places
- Fenris the Feared dies in the duel with Logen in Carleon
- Caurib dies during the duel with Logen in Carleon
- Bethod dies after the duel with Logen in Carleon
However, the conflict between The North and The Union does not end there, with the Second Northern War occurring some eight years later.