Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
Dietrich von Hammerstein
This fanatic is a noted brother among the Teutonic Knights and a key member of the Order of the Black Cross for Kronstadt.
A bull-necked, brawny warrior wearing the ruffled, soiled surcoat and cloak of a Teutonic knight who spends too much time in the saddle. His mousy hair is cropped short, the better to wear his coif and helm, and he keeps his cheeks and chin scraped as best as he is able, given his obvious predilection for excessive work. Although not quite middle-aged, his face is set in the heavy, hard lines of a man who holds himself to a puritanical regime of long hours of prayer and arduous duty, and anger boils close to the surface of his dark blue eyes. His hands never stray far from the sword and dagger belted at his waist.
As a fully vowed brother of Teutonic Order, Dietrich Ritterbrüder von Hammerstein has forsaken his own coat-of-arms, and chooses to wear only the black cross on a white field of the German House of St. Mary of Jerusalem.
A stalwart of the Kronstadt commandery since 1214, this zealot is very much the stereotype of a brother of the Teutonic Order – a fierce warrior, a stern disciplinarian, a dour leader and a fanatic in pursuit of the vestiges of paganism throughout the Burzenland. He is known for patrolling longer, praying more devoutly and training harder than any knight of his commanderie, perhaps any knight in the entire protectorate, and his reputation precedes him wherever he goes in the land. He is a profoundly skilled swordsman and a valiant, brave man who believes strongly in the cause of militant German Christianity. Dietrich is also a natural leader. However, while his men follow him willingly, they do so with equal parts respect and fear, for Dietrich Ritterbrüder von Hammerstein is an impulsive officer who thinks little of placing himself (and the far less capable brothers beneath him) in harms way, apparently without thinking the situation through. It is a testament to his great personal skill that, leading his men from the front, he tends to lose fewer men than other, more prudent commanders.
The truth is that luckily, he has the more practical (and far more experienced) Gottlieb Ritterbrüder von Koblenz as his second, and the even more competent Berengar Ritterbrüder von Dohna as his superior. Hard experience has taught him that Gottlieb is usually right, so unbeknownst to his men, Dietrich usually asks the older knight’s advice when the opportunity arises to do so before action must be taken. Dietrich may be impulsive, but he is no fool. He seems to have a rare insight into his own shortcomings as an officer, and takes steps to mitigate them. The advice of Gottlieb and the directions of Berengar have contributed much to von Hammerstein’s growing fame, and he is humble enough to acknowledge his debts to brother in arms and domitor.
This insight does not extend to his attitude towards infidels and pagans. He despises both, and works diligently towards the holy mission of bringing the cross to every corner of the world. His true intolerance, however, is reserved for insincere converts and others who slip back into offering prayers to the demons and devils that the pagans have the temerity to call gods. Dietrich would cheerfully burn every last one of them, and he so lacks imagination as to be utterly immune to the clever words of those who call such an attitude “un-Christian”.
He takes orders from his domitor readily, and without complaint. Indeed, so devoted is he that Brother Dietrich would probably think little of placing himself in a conflict that would bring certain death if Berengar ordered it. His conviction in his mission, his loyalty to his superiors and his personal discipline are strong, perhaps stronger than that of any other brother of the Order in the Burzenland.
Dietrich was present in the entourage of Brother Berengar when the Ventrue’s cavalry accompanied the wards of the Concord to the village of Etteldorf. The fire in his gaze was not lost on the Cainites in the party, nor the men in service to Ulrich the Bull. He soon set to work directing his own men in repairing several of the ruined cottages in order to use as a stables and a barracks for their temporary stay, and Ulrich’s men almost unthinkingly moved to assist them. Brother Dietrich would remain behind to continue this work when the Cainites returned to Kronstadt the next evening. Unlike his brother-ghoul, he would accompany his domitor on the campaign to Muntenia and Oltenia, and he witnessed first-hand the repercussions of Ulrich’s political machinations upon the reputation of Berengar and the Ashen Band.
As a result, his hatred for the rival Ventrue coterie-mate is visceral, and obvious. He proudly led the Teutons away from the their station at Etteldorf, first giving a noonday speech that those who wished to return to Kronstadt with his men would enjoy their full protection to the city. Those who wished to remain were free to do so under the protection of Ulrich, a man who lacked the honour to put others before himself. To the Bull’s credit, only a few family’s chose to accompany the Teutons, but the loss of even a little manpower was damaging to the recovering village.
Despite their problems, the Ashen Band managed to see out the Cuman campaign against Kordönül to a successful conclusion. Indeed, it was Dietrich von Hammerstein who first let out the cry of “Gott mit uns!” as they charged the Cuman camp in gray pre-dawn at Buzău. Hundreds of brothers took up his cry as they thundered down upon the unsuspecting pagans, their fury echoing across the flood plain in front of the castle and beginning the rout that would break the Cuman horde.
Afterwards, Brother Dietrich humbly returned to his earlier duties of patrolling the borders of the Burzenland. On account of his extraordinary leadership skills, he was also tasked with training Kronstadter recruits to the Order, and as a result he became a figure of much respect among the townsfolk. His efforts reflected well upon his master, whose own status had been utterly depleted by his inability to neautralise Ulrich’s “missteps” in Oltenia.
In 1217, he and his brother-ghoul Gottlieb, were among the mortal members of the Order of the Black Cross to undertake King András II’s crusade to the Holy Land. While not among the most senior of the ghouls of the Order, Dietrich’s leadership skills marked him as quiet pillar of the Black Cross; a man who could be trusted to lead the charge of his ghoul-brothers and hundreds of other unsuspecting Teutons.