Our story began on an island fortress of Rhodes in the middle of the Aegean Sea looking at the distant land of Jerusalem. With a purpose and determination in our hearts we embarked on a long journey to reclaim what was lost and make a Kingdom of Heaven whole once more.
The path of Destiny led us to the noble people of Serbia, Byzantium and Karaman who would then share our fate for the most of our story. Together with our newfound allies we defeated the terrifying Ottoman Empire paved the path for restoration of Kingdom of Jerusalem.
But first our path led us towards the mountains of Georgia, where together with our stalwart allies we forced the otherwise unbending Georgians to surrender claims in Anatolia to Karaman.
After almost 60 years of waiting for the right moment, we finally started the Last Crusade to liberate Jerusalem and make it great once again! Our future then seemed bright, but there were already clouds of darkness on horizon.
Once the goals of all coalition members were achieved our unity was lost and new alliances were made. Our next mission was to reinforce and secure the Holy land, but that goal was often set aside to assist our friends. Despite the odds we managed to become strong enough to become a power in the region and leave a mark for centuries to come.
Destiny once again lead us against the determined Georgians who would not go down without a fight. Fate intervened and they found new allies who helped them reclaim lost land. This marked a first defeat for the Knights of Jerusalem.
After the humiliating defeat we were left in a difficult position. It left us and our ally weak and with few friends in sight. More numerous were the enemies who would claim our land as their own. We resolved to endure and improve our precarious situation by expanding our realm across Arabia and Egypt. To our list of friends and allies we added Tlemcen, who were previously neutral to us. Somehow we managed to broker an unlikely peace agreement between Karaman and Georgia to ensure prosperity and stability in the region. Years of hope followed, but this was not to last.
While prosperity of our land grew, so did the ambitions of the powers in the Mediterranean. Serbia, our stalwart ally for years was among the first victims of the hungering greed originating from Italy. Once again fate intervened and their plans were thwarted by a powerful Prussian military. They would not see such aggressive expansion in their sphere of influence and so they drove Italians back to their borders. At that time it was great victory for us and our allies, but the threat was not over.
Milanese republic and the Pontiff of Rome have throughout our existance proclaimed baseless claims over the land we now possessed. In the past this was just an inconvenience souring our relations, as neither Ambrosian republic nor the Papal State had the means to enforce those claims. For a long time Serbia was the main target of the voracious Italian states. With Prussian intervention all of that changed.
Greedy Italians realised a change of plan was needed and set to expand their dominion while avoiding the wrath of the Prussians. Suddenly we found ourselves being a target as both we and our allies possessed land that Italians wanted. Unlike Serbia we did not have the same allies willing to protect us. We realised our future was inevitably leading to a confrontation that we would most likely lose. Despite the odds we were determined to defend ourselves to the last.
Our actions in the previous century have provided us with the means to defend ourselves. We and our loyal allies raised a large army and a new navy able of contesting Italians on the seas. Thanks to the Dutch we further enlarged the size of our navy and helped build the Karamanese and Serbian fleets. We secured an additional alliance with the unknown Tsardom of Ruthenia who were willing to defend Orthodox brothers in Serbia, where the main battleground of the future conflict would be. Preparations and willingness of our allies and other benefactors filled us with hope for the dark days ahead.
Clouds of darkness finally descended upon the plains of the Holy Land on November 17th 1634, when the misguided Bishop of Rome declared war against guardians of the Holy Land.
Our side was from the start outmatched by the sheer number of soldiers and mercenaries our enemies brought to subjugate all members of the Alliance. Without exception we were all determined to fight to the last and in every battle we inflicted our enemies great casualties. On the seas we took initiative, but early battles showed that Italians were more than ready for a fight. The main fleet under Jerusalem’s leadership was being defeated decisively until saved by galleys from Karaman and Serbia. They would continue to dominate the naval warfare for most of the war.
Disaster struck when our former defensive pact member Georgia could not let go of the past grudges they had with Karaman and joined the war on the Italian side. We were now fighting a two front conflict with majority of cities exposed. A moment of respite came when Prussia once again declared war on our enemies. This time, they would not defend their friends in need and decided to use the situation for their own advantage. We used the time of their invasion well by liberating captured forts in Serbia, as well as dealing with Georgia, who had at that point also called in their ally Deccan. Our struggle against all odds inspired the Tsar of Russia to join on our side and helped us force Georgia out of the war. This was achieved at a terrible price however, almost half a million troops died trying to take the well defended mountain forts of Georgia. With Georgia out of the war we were renewed with hope and moved to Serbia to fight the Italian host that made peace with the Prussians.
The war reached its peak in the period that followed. A number of great battles were fought, most notably the Battle of Niš that started on June 17th 1648. In the battle there were 1.3 million participans from 2 armies of about equal size. At a great cost of 350 thousand dead the fort fell to the enemy and our forces had to retreat. Combined there were almost 600 thousand casualties in this battle alone. Despite the heavy casualties inflicted upon our enemy, any action seemed to have no effect. We were gradually pushed out of Serbia across the strait to Anatolia while Serbia was forced to accept a humiliating defeat. Despite this setback we pushed on and fought our enemies in the Steppe lands of Ruthenia. The remaining coalition members bravely fought to the last until all of our forces were depleted. Our combined navy crumbled under constant attrition and the war was effectively lost. To stop the bloodshed we were forced to bear the shame of defeat once again.
After a long exhausting war that lasted for 21 years and resulted in more than 5 million dead on both sides we signed a peace treaty that resulted in the loss of Alexandria, Antioch and Palestine, including the Holy City of Jerusalem. Our economy was shattered and many rebels broke away parts of our domain. After a war followed a long period of reconstruction and recovery from the massive debt we have incurred during the war. Quick recovery was possible with the help of Dutch merchants who helped pay off our 11000 ducats worth of loans. Lost territories were quickly recovered and our might restored to former glory.
During these trying times our scholars have found the location of the Ark of the Covenant. Located deep within the mountains of Ethiopia our elite knights conducted a daring raid and successfully recovered the Ark. Once secure the Grandmaster opened the Ark and found The Ten Commandments. Discovery was shocking not only because of its historic significance but also because of its contents. We discovered that our faith is false and twisted by those who would use it for their own gain. Thus we decided not to follow the false faith any longer.
While recovering Milanese republic was betrayed by the Holy See and was defeated with help of Switzerland and Serbia, who wished to take revenge for land taken in previous wars. A new pact was forming with Milan being left out of the picture. Beaten but not broken they have found new allies in Brittany, Netherlands, Hanover and Prussia. Russia and Ruthenia, being threatened by this new coalition decided to side against the Prussians. The board was set for a global war.
At the start of the war Jerusalem was contacted and asked to join on the side of the Prussians. Hoping to retake Palestine we sided against the Papal State by assisting Al Andalus in Iberia. Our forces occupied a large part of Swiss troops which were unable to help the pope against the Milanese fury. Our Duty to avenge our fallen more than 25 years ago was fullfiled and we traveled home to celebrate our hard won victory.
In the end we cannot say much has changed for the Knights of Jerusalem. The 250 year journey ended in the same place it started: On an island hoping to achieve a dream that is Jerusalem.