From the East shall come one sent by the gods but of no gods; of this land but not of this land; born of man but without father or mother. The one will darken the skies and cause the very ground to tremble. The one will come clothed in fear and cleanse the land in fire and blood; leaving nothing behind but death and sorrow.
The one shall be the many gods’ mightiest champion fight but, in the end, will cause their destruction.
The one will go by many names, but you shall know the one by the name: Shiva – the Destroyer of Worlds.
The one will be the end of us all.
The year is 1220. In the forests of Lithuania, a young man by the name of Juvage leads a carefree life, unaware of the destiny of violence and bloodshed that awaits him.
Pagan Vengeance is a prequel of sorts to I Am Skantarios by the same author. It begins with our Designated Hero Juvage growing up in the green forests of Lithuania, when his life takes a complete U-turn when his father's overlord has him assassinated, and his family too. Thus begins for Juvage a long war that will see him ravage central Asia at the head of an Army of Thieves and Whores, all with a single goal in mind: to avenge himself of the Christians who killed his father, in the name of the pagan gods.
This work provides examples of:
- Alternate History: The most obvious point of which being that Juvage, a Cuman general, meets and dispatches Genghis Khan in combat. Par for the course for the genre.
- After-Action Report: Each battle is described retroactively, and in-universe, months to years after the events occurred across Juvage's life. Father Konstantin was tasked, at some point in the latter half of Juvage's campaign, with recounting his deeds and thoughts, and authors the epilogue.
- Afterlife of Service:
- Juvage's men kill with abandon because their religion teaches that their victims will serve them in the afterlife.
- When Rashid dies, Juvage and his men leave a pile of plunder and weapons in tribute to him almost as big as the one they leave for their god.
- And Then What?: After Juvage has finally had his vengeance on the man who had his father murdered, a journey that took him all the way through Asia and back, he's faced with having no idea how to continue. He ends it by getting his sister to kill him, seeing himself as responsible for the fate of his entire family.
- Assassin Outclassin': Juvage accidentally kills the assassin sent for him by Sotan.
- Artificial Stupidity: Justified in-game as the enemy being overconfident and sure to win via greater numbers.
- The Atoner: Juvage by the end. After realizing that conquest has brought him no joy and culminating with the mass suicide of Palanga, which shakes him so bad, he actually starts caring for the villagers before leaving without looting. By the end of his life, he's left with nothing but self-hatred.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Mongol artillery does huge damage… if it hits. And once Juvage learns to keep his elephants out of reach, not even that.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Without an army left to defend itself, the citizens of Palanga commit mass suicide before the army arrives at their gates. Juvage and his troops are so baffled at this they start treating the survivors and leave the city untouched with a big pile of plunder contributed from each man. This is also the point where Juvage starts questioning himself, since they didn't even need to take out the city.
- Babies Make Everything Better: Subverted. The birth of his daughter doesn't make Juvage any happier or a better person.
- Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: Rashid dies Holding The Line so Juvage can escape an ambush. As thanks, Juvage has a pile of plunder and sacrifice put up that might be bigger than the one intended for Kovas.
- Bling of War: Towards the end of the campaign, Juvage's troops are so laden down with precious metals (and no one left to trade it with) they try out silver-tipped arrows.
- Call to Agriculture: Juvage is rewarded for defeating the Mongols with a huge estate. He doesn't last two days before going back to war.
- Canon Welding: With the author's other AAR in the last chapter.
- The Chessmaster: Sotan. Even half-dead and drooling, he's able to manipulate enemies and allies to his advantage, and at his death is known as "the Saint".
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Juvage has one man drawn apart by horses, another placed under a tent and walked on to death, and killing the duke's son by throwing him into a cesspit with his father's body wrapped around his shoulders.
- Deadpan Snarker: Juvage is an evil and thoroughly tortured man, but when around his men, isn't above cracking a joke. In particular, one captain advises that his men fear Juvage has "come to eat their souls and rape their women." Juvage comments that he didn't come to fight, but "I'd hate to resort to 'soul-raping' but I will if I have to."
- Death by Childbirth: Tuba dies giving birth to Juvage's son, and the baby doesn't live through it either.
- Death Seeker: Juvage wants to die… but needs to die in battle so as not to dishonor himself. In his final battle, he charges headlong into spears and pikes, but is so dreaded and notorious that enemies break before they even attempt to fight.
- Face Death with Dignity:
- Juvage's mother, when surrounded by killers, retreats to her room, locks the door, and sets the house on fire.
- When Juvarte is forced to kill Juvage, she refuses to escape and wades into the chaos of a leaderless army. She is never seen again.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Juvage was the son of a minor chieftain in Lithuania. By the end of the story, he's leading a bloodthirsty Army of Thieves and Whores, killed Genghis Khan in personal combat, defeated the Mongols, the Russians and the Teutonic Knights.
- Horse Archer: The core of Juvage's army. Before he became a general, Juvage's dueling skill focused on horse archery duels.
- Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Konstantin believes Ghengis Khan is the first (Conquest) and Juvage the second (War).
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Death by suicide is frowned upon by Kovas, though apparently trying to charge Anti-Cavalry units on horseback doesn't count.
- Karma Houdini: Suyiketu betrays Juvage to the Mongols and is never seen again.
- Keystone Army: Juvage's army falls apart after his death, much like Alexander the Great's.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Played for Drama; after recovering from a coma, Juvage finds out he once spoke the name of his sister while under. He orders Rashid to never say that name again.
- Made a Slave: A few days after escaping his father's killers, Juvage is captured and sold as a slave, killing his first man as a Mercy Kill.
- Man Hug: Rashid's specialty. Juvage never walks out of one without his ribs feeling it.
- Money for Nothing: Towards the end of the story, Juvage's Scorched Earth policy bites him in the ass; the soldiers have tons of money, but they don't have anything/one left to spend it on. They end up caching huge amounts of it, with some experimenting with silver-tipped arrows when they don't outright leave it behind.
- Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe. Ordai considers Juvage to have crossed it when he abandons his just-out-of childbirth wife to him so he can get back to slaughtering people.
- Morality Pet:
- Father Konstantin, an Orthodox priest Juvage gives orders not to kill. Subverted, in that Juvage only keeps him around to laugh at and try to prove that if his merciful god really exists, he's doing a very crappy job of it.
- Later, Juvage's sister Juvarte and daughter Jorte fulfill the same role, which ends up reawakening his long-latent conscience. The only enemies he ever lets escape come after he finds sudden panic in the notion of his daughter dying.
- Offscreen Villainy: While Juvage presumably partakes in the same Rape, Pillage, and Burn as his troops, the narration doesn't dwell on it, focusing instead on the killing and sacrifices.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: Juvage ends up feeling he fulfilled a rather vague prophecy of his own people. All of the prophetic dreams Juvage had as a child come to pass, down to the exact dialogue. Ghengis Khan says the Mongol soothsayers predict that Juvage cannot be killed by any man. He's killed by his sister in an act of assisted suicide.
- Quantity vs. Quality: Juvage spends fortunes on upgrading his troops' equipment, which saves the day as he's almost always outnumbered.
- Rape as Drama: The last Juvage sees of his sister is her being raped by the soldiers sent to kill them. When he meets her decades later, she's being raped by his own soldiers, who he has executed.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: What Juvage does to the cities he takes, rarely bothering to leave a garrison there to hold it.
- Revenge: What drives Juvage throughout his life; revenge on the duke who ordered his father killed and the Teutonic knights that killed him, and revenge on the person responsible for years of murder and atrocity, himself.
- Reverse Psychology: Sotan comments that all he needs to do to get Juvage to do something is prevent him from doing it.
- Running Gag: Juvage fights a lot of enemies nicknamed "the Wise", always commenting that it seems to have been given sarcastically.
- Sex Slave: Juvage is sold as such to a Depraved Homosexual. He kills the man and waits patiently for death, but then Sotan intervenes...
- Sins of the Father: Juvage's family is hunted down because his father's overlord thought he was getting too big for his boots. Juvage, much later, returns the favor to the duke and his son.
- Strictly Formula: Every battle goes much the same; horse archers harass the flank, causing the enemy to start running down, foot archers take them down as they approach, and Juvage finishes off the survivors with a heavy cavalry charge.
- Undying Loyalty: Rashid mostly, but most of the army is ready to follow Juvage through hell and highwater. Only one unit ever breaks and flees during battle.
- Tagalong Chronicler: Constantin, after Juvage spares him. He ends up recording all of Juvage's confessions and safeguarding his daughter after his suicide.
- Title Drop: "I came here not to deliver Christian Mercy. I came here for Pagan Vengeance!"
- True Companions: Subverted. Of Juvage's four companions, one dies, one deserts him, one finally sees what Juvage has become, and only one stays with him to the end.
- Underdogs Never Lose: Despite being vastly outnumbered in most battles, Juvage always comes out on top, mostly due to having better troops, tactics, and terrifying the enemy.
- Villain Protagonist: Juvage is, by all accounts, a murderous warlord whose sole allegiance is to his God Of War, Kovas. He sacrifices captives to enslave their souls and murder tens of thousands for their gold.As I live what I hope to be my last day on this accursed world, I take time to look back at the wreckage of my life. I have decided to write these words so that those who come after me may know why I did the things I did. I do not think they will excuse me nor do I ask them to. My actions have been reprehensible and, without this explanation, impossible to understand. I write only so that those who may find this record will know that while my actions may not have been righteous, they were justified.
- War God: Kovas is regularly prayed and sacrificed to for victory.
- We Can Rule Together: Ghenghis Khan offers Juvage to rule alongside him, even throwing in his daughter in marriage. Juvage refuses, since he wants to be the one who killed the Khan or die trying. He even asks the Khan to keep his gifts ready, since he'll be taking them after the battle.
- Worthy Opponent: Juvage considers Genghis Khan to be one. The feeling is mutual, as the Khan invites Juvage to be his son-in-law.
- You Have Failed Me: Officially, this is the reason Sotan executes his bodyguards, because they allowed an assassin to get close to him, when they had been witness to his conceding power to a subordinate.
- Your Soul Is Mine!: Juvage and his followers believe the enemies they kill will serve them in the afterlife. By the end of the story, one can only assume half the Earth's population is waiting for them.