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878 – THE UGHANS ENTER THE WAR, AND THE RABARRANS PLAN THEIR COUNTER-ATTACK

The Atlanteans really thought now that they might be able to push the Rabarrans back across the Gestes once and for all. They reorganised their forces during December and January, and weighed up the strategical options. At first they considered making use of their seizure of Borepande to strike down the eastern side of the Gestes towards the Rabarran crossing-point and centre of communications at Vulcanipand. But they were very nervous of the reaction of the Ughans, who they rightly suspected were on the point of joining in the war on Rabarrieh’s side. An offensive so close to Ughrieh’s southern borders would not only annoy that country, but also leave the forces east of the Gestes open to a rear attack by the Ughans. So Zaippo decided to try to break through the centre of the Rabarran lines, around Lovriun, and split them in two by striking out towards Vailat. Attacks to the east of Lovriun began in January and February, in order to distract the enemy from the main offensive, which began on February 27th at Lovriun – the Second Battle of Lovriun. ("I" on the map). By this stage in the war, both sides instantly entrenched their fronts, whenever they became at all static, and the Atlanteans found they had a fierce battle on their hands.

Meanwhile, the Rabarrans too were preparing for a counter-attack on this front, and they thought now that they had a real chance of permanently forcing the Atlanteans back out of Meistayieh. This was because the Ughans had finally decided to commit themselves to the war. By December 877, they saw the Rabarrans forced right back southwards, and most of the Atlantean armies in the east had pursued them, leaving the whole Gestes front north of Pueggathis temptingly devoid of troops – as they believed. Furthermore, they thought that by attacking now, they could gain much ground in Dravidieh while the Rabarrans were still a way off in the south, and unable to argue with them over which parts of the territory conquered belonged to which party. It was for these reasons that they had refused to enter the war, even when Rabarrieh had seemed to be doing so well, earlier in 877. They were easily able to manufacture an excuse for joining the war at this stage. They claimed that according to their old treaty with Rabarrieh, they would support them against Atlantis, if the latter ever reconquered Borepande. Well, now they had.

The Ughans only gradually began to attack the Atlanteans across the northern part of the Gestes after February, and by their typical tardiness and caution, they lost any real chance they had ever had of defeating the weaker Atlanteans and gaining Dravidos, which was their initial target. Nevertheless, the Rabarrans realised that soon the Atlanteans were likely to have to draw off troops from in front of them, to face the growing threat to the north. So they planned to counter-attack in March. They decided firstly to attack north and west from the rivers Helvenslepp and Burtounna, in order to dissipate Atlantean forces and distract their attention from the front further east. Then they would attack northwards from the front-line east of Lovriun, avoiding the concentration of Atlantean forces at and to the west of that town, and also around Borepande. At the same time, they would gain final naval control of the Helvengio by advancing with their Huainarayix forces on Helvris, the main Atlantean port. This should force the remaining ships of the Atlantean navy out into the Helvengio, where they could be decisively defeated by the larger Rabarran navy. Then, an amphibious force would land on the coast of Helvrieh itself, east and west of the river Numeras, in the west.

THE BATTLES OF NOCCSAT AND SECOND PUSTABUATAYA, MARCH – MAY 878

On March 18th, three Rabarran armies concentrated to attack the hills between the sources of the rivers Helvenslepp and Burtounna. One army additionally held the line of these rivers. The attack ( "I" [Rabarran] on the map) in this Battle of Noccsat was fiercely resisted at first, but the Atlanteans were outnumbered, and eventually forced to retreat. The Rabarrans followed them up as far as the Cresslepp, but as usual, were quite unable to force their way over that heavily defended river. In fact, they did not intend to, hoping only to further distract Atlantean attention from the front to the east. To the south, one army, soon joined by reinforcements from the north, raced for Helvris, which was reached by April 5th, but again was much too strongly defended to be taken by a "coup de main".

As the Rabarrans had hoped, Atlantean forces east of Lovriun were now being thinned out as a result of the Ughan attacks: one Army was sent north in March, leaving four o the front, two of which were still trying to force their way south, to the west of Lovriun. They had some success in the end, but thereby only pushed their heads still further in the net. For on April 10th, after one army had rushed back from the Cresslepp, giving the Rabarrans a superiority of five armies against four, two of which were exhausted, the Rabarrans attacked hard east of Lovriun. With tanks ready to exploit success, they quickly broke through the weak front, ("II" on the map) and while two armies sped north towards Pustabuataya, two more wheeled north-west towards Lake Trannolla. At the same time, another Rabarran army attacked eastwards across the

Burtounna from the Cresslepp front. As a result, both the Atlantean armies which had been engaged in the fighting about Lovriun were forced back to the Lake, with their retreat to the north cut off. With superhuman effort, 50000 men were rescued by ship across the Lake, and some 20000 did escape north. Of the rest, about 40000 were killed, and the remaining 60000, many of whom were wounded, were taken prisoner. This Second Battle of Pustabuataya continued as the Rabarrans again chased the Atlanteans right back to the Atlandravizzi hills and to the Burastoura. To the east, the garrison in Borepande was cut off, though most of the forces here had escaped across the Thyggis to Atlanipand in time. Borepande fell some two months later after a fairly feeble resistance to its besiegers.

THE UGHANS’ ATTACK ACROSS THE GESTES, AND THE RABARRANS MAINTAIN THEIR POSITIONS, MARCH – NOVEMBER 878

 

Campaign 878
  
The Ughans attacked on a wide front across the Gestes, with three, later five armies. The Atlanteans initially had only two armies in defence, later increased to three. Their first area of attack was between Hottisso in the north and Tuellplas to the south, aiming at Dravidos. However, the hills were strongly fortified, and it took the Ughans until July just to work their way through the woods at the base. While two armies were engaged here, two more attacked directly west from Tuellplas and from Pueggathis. The Tuellplas attack gained some ground, until it was stuck in the woods at the bottom of the rising ground near the river Thyggis. The Ughans to the south were repeatedly counter-attacked by Atlantean forces from the south of them, despite the pressure of the Rabarrans on the western side of the Thyggis. (red dotted arrows on the map). At first the Atlanteans used Atlanipand as a base for attacks on Burtinnu, the fort which protected the left flank of the Ughan attacks. Then the Atlanteans moved north, leaving a small garrison in Atlanipand, and based an army around middle reaches of the Thyggis, on the eastern bank. For a while, in May and June, these harassed the Ughans to their north, as well as raiding west across the river against the Rabarrans. By July, Atlantean forces to the east of the Thyggis had been cleared out as far as the garrison in Bratatinnu, which protected the left of their position at Atlandravizzi.

The rest of the year saw a number of hard fights in the area south of the Crolden Hills, between the Gestes and the Burastoura, as the Rabarrans sought to maintain their position and defend themselves against attacks into their left flank across the Burastoura. By keeping an Army in reserve east of Giestisso, the Rabarrans were able to ward off these attacks, and even make a few of their own northwards towards Atlandravizzi – all in vain. The fronts had completely stabilised by the end of the year.

THE INVASION OF HELVRIEH, AND THE WITHDRAWAL OF QUENDELIEH FROM THE WAR

By the beginning of 878, a force of two armies, under the command of Iferiri Alauqo, had been collected near Aggorpend to be transferred to Helvremon, and then to amphibiously invade Helvrieh east and west of Cennetis. Firstly, though, the Rabarrans had to regain complete control of the Helvengio, and also await the attack on Helvris by land, which was planned to distract the Atlantean defenders away from the west of the Province. In March of 878, the Rabarran Helvengio fleet emerged from Giezuat, and while part of it moved on Helvris to blockade or distract the enemy there, a considerable force moved on Cennetis. This bombarded the port, and, not for the first time, laid mines outside it. At the same time, the transfer of the Rabarran army from Manralia to Helvremon commenced. A similar sequence of events took place at weekly intervals, allowing the whole of the Rabarran army to reach Helvremon in safety. As they expected, on the third expedition, the Atlantean fleet at Helvris sortied, having become belatedly aware of the movement of the troops from Aggorpend. The Atlanteans believed the naval manoeuvres and bombardments of the Rabarrans were a cover for this troop movement, which is what the Rabarrans intended them to think: their plan was to thereby draw the Atlanteans out of their port and defeat them once and for all on the open seas. And this indeed was what happened, in a hard-fought battle off the mouth of the river Gesten (Battle of the River Gesten). The main Atlantean fleet was forced back into Helvris and blockaded there.

The Rabarran amphibious invasion took place on May 1st-4th, and one army was landed in two separate bridgeheads. The transfer of the second army was beginning, when disaster struck. A considerable number of Atlantean ships succeeded in entering the Helvengio from outside on May 6th, and, in co-ordination with the Helvris navy, threw itself on the supply ships of the Rabarrans. Even the Atlantean ships in Cennetis sortied, although two of these fell victim to mines. In the Battle of Cennetis, the Rabarrans lost many of its supply ships and transports, though fortunately for them, not many troops. Furious recriminations flew back and forth between Iferire Aklauqo and Akariri Alitheeri, the fleet commander, for allowing the Atlanteans to thus reinforce their Helvengio navy. Relations between the two services, Army and Navy, Ilnebu and Kultebu, took a long time to recover from this. The result was that the Rabarran troops in Helvrieh were virtually cut off for the next twelve months from any reinforcements. Nevertheless, the forces in Numidis did succeed in expanding westwards, and by July had overrun the peninsula of Numidis, and destroyed or seized the Atlantean guns overlooking the entrance to the Helvengio. As a result, small numbers of supplies were able to cross the seas from south to north at this point. Cennetis, too, fell to the Rabarrans, but the Atlantean ships formerly there had long since escaped. In any case, the Atlanteans were not long able to keep the advantage of their victory here, for by the autumn, the Quendeliens were beginning to withdraw their armies and fleets from the war against the Skallands, and the Atlanteans were having to take their place with their own forces. As a result, the strength of the Atlantean navies facing the Rabarrans began to fall, and by 879, the Rabarrans were able to seize control of the Helvengio once more, and finally reinforce their troops in Helvrieh.

THE CONQUEST OF HELVRIEH

The withdrawal of Atlantean ships from outside the Helvengio north to face the Skallands, meant that by May the Rabarrans were able to make another attempt to regain control of the Helvengio. This they did, and this time permanently. They greatly reinforced the navy in the Helvengio, and moving to relieve Giezuat, under blockade for months, beat the Atlantean navy at the Fourth Battle of Giezuat. The Atlanteans were chased back into Helvris, where they were blockaded. Now at last the Rabarrans were able to reinforce their bridgeheads in Helvrieh.

The situation in Helvrieh as a whole was dire, and even before the Rabarran invasion in 878, there had been considerable unrest amongst Helvran civilians and soldiers about the war. The Helvrans disliked the refugees from south of the Helvengio, particularly Miolrel, and after 876, the Rabarrans deliberately stirred up trouble between Helvrans and Atlanteans by propaganda and by secret agents landed from the sea. They also indulged in bombardments and raids, usually targetting Atlantean bases, but occasionally hitting Helvran civilian targets, as if to say that this was what the Helvrans could expect, if they continued to back the Atlanteans. It was of course difficult for them to avoid fighting the Atlanteans’ battles, but they became increasingly liable to avoid conscription, once that was fully imposed after 877. Gaistuyex was persuaded by his brother, in a rare and successful intervention into the running of the war in 877, to place an ethnic Helvran, Ghreuken Mists, as Military Governor of Helvrieh, and allow Helvran units some independence under overall Atlantean military control. Both brothers hoped that this action would make the Helvran forces rally behind one of their own leaders, to defend their countryfolk. However, when the Rabarrans made their initially limited landings on Helvran soil in 878, the seepage of Helvrans into the Rabarran camp grew, either by desertion into the Rabarran forces, or, more commonly, into rebellious guerrilla groups in the Meilox Mountains. On the other hand, there were barely enough Atlantean forces to defend the whole Empire, without making use of non-Atlanteans like the Helvrans in the Army.

A total of three Armies moved north to the Daigorunix and east to the river Numeras in June. The passes through the Meilox Mountains were all held securely by Atlantean forces, usually buttressed by fortresses, but they were entirely unprepared to prevent the Rabarran forces sweeping eastwards along the Helvrod. They crossed the Numeras at the end of June, and reached the Gesten within two weeks. This was crossed near Borfierp against stronger opposition, and by the end of July, they had reached the Cresslepp.

Now there had been considerable Helvran desertions during this long retreat, but the Helvran Governor seemed to be doing his best to defend the state. By August of 879, the Rabarrans from the west had joined hands with those to the east, and the city of Helvris was surrounded. A force of Atlanteans, some 27000 strong, retired within the walls with most of the rest of the Helvran Army, and the great siege began. The rest of the Atlantean forces withdrew to the Meilox Mountains to the north. There they came up against the Helvran guerrillas, but these were quite unable to withstand the full weight of the Atlantean forces, and most of them were either killed, captured or forced to flee south to the Rabarrans.

 

2. The struggle for the Crolden Hills, the collapse of the Atlantean positions in Chalcrieh and Helvrieh, and the death of Gaistuyex, 879 – 880

879: A YEAR OF FIGHTING FOR THE CROLDEN HILLS

879 saw the complete withdrawal of all Quendelien forces from the north-west of the Continent. This withdrawal was unplanned and the result of catastrophic attacks and invasions within the home continent of the Quendeliens themselves. The result was to force Atlantis to replace Quendelien armies with her own south of the river Ereipha, where the pressure of the Skallands increased throughout the year, gradually forcing back the Atlanteans towards the river Ruphaio. At sea, too, the loss of the Quendelien navy meant she had to withdraw forces from opposite the Rabarrans to the northern seas.

Meanwhile, in the east, two major campaigns saw a great see-saw of movements between the three combatants, ending with the Rabarrans maintaining their position, and even expanding westwards somewhat across the Burastoura. The main campaign began in April, when the Ughans concentrated three armies against the Dravidos hills. These armies tried to turn the Atlantean defence on the summit of this position, about Dravidos, both to the south and the north. There erupted fierce fighting but gradually the Ughans gained ground, moving to the north through Giestes. However, the Atlantean position held for the time being, and the Atlanteans now began their own offensive. This was, as usual, east and south-east across the Burastoura south of Giestisso, but this time there was to be additional pressure created. Once the Rabarran reserve army had committed itself to defending and counter-attacking this Atlantean move, part of the Atlantean force

Campaign May 879defending the Crolden Hills south of Atlandravizzi would attack southwards. The two Atlantean forces, four armies in all, would, it was hoped, crush the Rabarrans and sweep them away southwards.

The First Battle of the Crolden Hills began with the attack from around Giestisso on May 12th, and while making little progress on its own, did attract the Rabarran forces over to it, as anticipated. The assault by the Atlantean forces from Atlandravizzi came as a complete surprise to the Rabarrans. Their armies were thus under pressure from north and west, and were soon forced to withdraw southwards for safety, having lost over 25000 men. Now Iltozamma had to think and act quickly, and his actions in this amazing campaign, full of thrusts and counter-thrusts, with disaster looming alternately for Rabarrans and Atlanteans, show up his true genius. He knew that the Ughans’ attack on Dravidos had ground almost to a halt on the northern and central flanks, and had been informed that they were building up more armies to attack from the south, east of the Thyggis. He now asked the Emperor Ladrubith, in a personal request, to divert these forces south-west across the Thyggis, directly onto the Crolden Hills, which the Atlanteans had denuded of troops as a result of their attack southwards after the Rabarrans. It was to be aided on its right flank by a small Rabarran force at Bratatinnu. Ladrubith agreed to this, and a week or so later, at the beginning of June, the sparse Atlantean defences around Dravizzi were soon overwhelmed by the Ughans’ attack.

To read the next part of this history, click on (5) 879 - 880

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