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Rus - half of the 13th century
Half of the 13th century on Rus.
The view of the world which has seen its Judgment Day.
Even shortly before, no-one would have expected all the horrors and atrocities which were yet to meet the peaceful people of Rus. Apart from some local feuds and quarrels over the (only nominal by then) throne of the grand Prince of Kiev and some skirmishes with the nomads from the east, the Rus principalities had been living in peace and harmony - like ripe, red apples in the August sun, awaiting the coming of a greedy hand.
The nightmare begins circa 1237 according to the Western year count, when first principalities fall and strongholds from the south and east fall into eternal silence. It is not long after that the Prince of Kiev shamefully flees, leaving his city and people to steel and fire. The mighty armies of Rus are shattered, the nobles die in torment, the people come to experience the suffering they have never dreamt of. The invaders - oft they were called the very devils from hell spawned, but later generations have found for them a different name - The Mongols.
'Tis in such a dark and dismal time that set are we - the Rus' of the break of ages. The year is 1243. Rus has fallen before the onslaught, and only the principalities of Novgorod and Pskov have resisted the Mongols, who - according to their shock tactics - simply did not attack the victim prepared to defend. The nightmare has passed nigh by the walls of mighty Novgorod - the trade and cultural capital of the northern Rus coast - but this does not mean its situation is by any means good. Even those to hae succesfully fled northwards before the storm find new and equally painful troubles there…
The northern principalities are constantly troubled by the incursions of their neighbours - the ever greedy for land people of Sweden , the half-wild Baltic tribes, finally the knightly orders, who have not so long ago settled on the Baltic coasts... One of such attacks, the swedish one in 1240, is repulsed by prince Alexander, nicknamed "Nevsky" after his victory at Newa. Two years lated, the Rus is invaded by Teuton armies. The knights take Pskov by force and still threaten Novgorod. Alexander and his army turn back towards their capital and return by forceful march, blocking the warrior monks' path on the frozen Pejpus, wherefore the icy mouth of the deep black lake opens wide to swallow the invaders defiling the russian land. However weakened, the Teuton might is not yet broken, and skirmishes between the knightly West and Russian East are yet to last…
'Tis a sad time for Rus, but a beautiful one at the same time. The Mongols, having destroyed the old Rus, have at the same time brought into its land things yet unheard of in Europe - armour of the highest craftsmanship; weapons which cut through flesh and iron alike as if it were parchment; the powder, black and mysterious, in an instant burning into a cloud of devil black smoke and thunder; beautiful patterned fabrics; gold of incomparable beauty; finally, the skills and technical thought, which were to enter - as a heirloom left after the invaders - into the heritage of all the Europe.
The people of Rus live somewhere among those sands of time - forced between the steppe nomads and the Teutons in the Inflants, the cruel and heartless Mongols and the ruins of their own late country... They live and they learn; however low they must keep their heads so far, they learn well, borrowing any and all worthy news from their enemy. They pracice their martial arts, standing against anyone and everyone - be it a Knight from an order or a Mongol from the Horde; in part, the people of Rus take as their own the vestments and the way of life of their foes, the better to put their attention to sleep. The northern Rus gathers its painful experiences and strength, for she knows that the time for her greatness may yet come.
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