1237- On the Cusp of Battle
Batu's tumen had already swept the hills of the Urals alongside Subedai's own unit, and in the process they had gathered more conscripts and soldiers for the auxiliary troops. The army was swelling with both old and new riders of the Horde. They passed through the forests on the Volga's West bank with speed, pressing through unobserved. The choice of taking the vassal state of Riazan was calculated; it was the weak point of the Russian's eastern front, and was strategically nestled between both Chernigov and Suzdal, the two stronger principalities. Riazan was governed by several princes, who looked after their own interests moreso than the needs of their people. As such, they saw the loss of the Bulgars as nothing more than another raid. The true plan of Batu was lost on them, and they underestimated the power of the massive horde of horsemen greatly.
When the long lines of Batu's military were finally detected by Russian peasants, they immediately fled to the capitol of the state for which it was named, Riazan. When they appeared on the doorsteps of the Prince's home, they were tired, bloody, and sweating. Their horses had died from overexertion due to the ride they were pushed through, and the Prince, for what it was worth, saw the issue at hand.
“My Lord, there...” He paused to catch his breath, “...is an army. Mongols. Thousands. Only a few of us made it away from their scouts...the rest..” His voice trailed off and he began to whimper, remembering the loss of his friends and family to the swift horseman's bows.
Prince Yuri said nothing for several moments. But he was aware of the devastation the Mongols had wrought to not only his outer lands, but mighty empires such as Persia as well. He stood up, the weight of his decision weighing heavily upon him.
“Summon my brothers, Oleg and Yaraslov. Inform them of the situation. We will meet them outside the city with the entirety of our forces. If we take them lightly, I fear the fall of Russia altogether.” His stewards hastened to carry out his orders, and within minutes riders were sent to the other cities. His third brother, Roman, was sent north with his army to appeal for help from Suzdal. Yuri knew that this would simply serve as a useful tool to absorb Riazan as a whole to them, but it was a worthwhile gesture regardless.
Within days, the combined forces of Yuri, Oleg, and Yarislov stood united miles from the city as the Horde poured from the trees in a never-ending torrent. The troops they had managed to assemble were green, and unprepared for such a vast battle.
“Is that the Russian force the scouts told us of?” Batu asked his messenger.
“Yes, Great Khan. That is all they have assembled.”
Batu looked on, as the light cavalry began to encircle and pepper the comparatively small army with armor piercing arrows. The Russian's own bows did not have the draw to reach them, and any enemy cavalry that gave chase was quickly subdued by concentrated barrage.
Within a few hours, the naccara, the drum that sounded only when the heavy cavalry was to charge at the apex of the battle, let loose its quick staccato beats, and the Russian lines broke and fled in a single, audacious charge.
If this was what was to be expected of the Europeans, their lands would be Mongol by the new year.
1237- Fall of Vladimir
In the few weeks following the slaughter at Riazan, the Mongol army had advanced hundreds of miles and sacked every city in their wake. As was tradition, the city Riazan itself was burned to the ground and the populace massacred, as it was the first to fall. While only half the Mongol army had laid siege there, Subedai had taken another contingent West to the city of Pronsk.