|THE FALL OF CENNATLANTIS AND THE DEATH OF
The Atlanteans had very strong defensive lines and positions all around Cennatlantis, along the Dodolla, and stretching east-west between the Dodolla and the Gonril. It is one of the most surprising events of this war that they were turned out of all these positions and lost their capital city with hardly a serious fight at all. The reason is the complete panic which gripped the Atlantean forces in the aftermath of the Battle of Yellis, the tremendous success gained by the Rabarran tanks and cavalry in chasing and turning the flank of the Atlanteans, right back to the Dodolla, and the confusion which gripped the high command and Imperial headquarters in the capital. By May 1st, a third army had joined the two Rabarran armies moving directly on the Dodolla. The northernmost of these troops succeeded in crossing the Dodolla north of Cennatlantis and south of Rundes, outflanking several of the Cresslepp-Dodolla defence-lines in this area. To the south, the Atlantean armies which had been trying to relieve Helvris had retired behind the Cresslepp, which was immediately crossed by advance forces of the enemy. These were finally brought to a halt by the defences stretching between Giezat on the Gonril and the Dodolla, to the south of Cennatlantis. But the events to their north meant that they were likely to be cut off soon, and some were moved off west over the Cresslepp and into the hills, in order to help man the last defensive line between Gresslepp and Rundes on the Failrunn hills. Others moved directly north, only to meet further troops coming out of Cennatlantis to help defend the flanks, or, in some cases, simply fleeing away in panic.
Cennatlantis was thus surrounded, still with part of the Atlantean government and the Emperor himself inside. Gaistuyex insisted on staying close to the fighting, although everyone still with him begged him to escape westwards while it was possible. He refused, and ordered the most important members his government to remain with him. Many in fact sidled away, but by the middle of May, Cennatlantis was being bombarded by the Rabarrans. The latter did not really want to see the capital destroyed by bombardment or fighting, and in the end, the city did indeed escape almost unscathed, despite Gaistuyex’s determination to make his forces fight here to the bitter end. On May 18th a shell hit the house where Gaistuyex and several officials were working, killing them all instantly. There was considerable confusion thereafter, but it was clear what the next step had to be from a constitutional point of view. Gaiduiccon was contacted and told that he must take over the leadership. This caused considerable misgivings, both for Gaiduiccon and the military leaders, who thought that Gaiduiccon was too pacifist at heart to be a good war leader. However, Gaiduiccon agreed without delay, and despite his personal antipathy to the war, showed himself willing to defend the Empire, which was after all, at present in dire straits. The Rabarrans indeed seemed to be everywhere over the Dodolla, although in numbers they were, at this stage, considerably inferior to the Atlanteans. Following the death of Gaistuyex, Gaiduiccon soon approved the evacuation of the capital. Many prisoners were taken by the Rabarrans, many other Atlanteans escaped into the Meilox Hills, while some others managed to get away north into the last defensive line protecting Atlantidieh, at Failrunn. And indeed this was where the Rabarran advance was finally held.
THE UGHANS MOVE WEST BUT ARE STALLED BEFORE SIROTTIS
Once they had joined up with the Rabarrans and surrounded the whole Crolden Hills complex, the Ughans looked to advancing westwards. Two Armies had been involved in the Crolden operation, and there were four more to the north. The Chalcran Forests tended to split these into two groups of three Armies. The southernmost group moved on during April, with the Atlanteans slowly giving ground, but there was no rout, comparable to what was happening opposite the Rabarrans in the south. By mid May these Ughan forces had reached the edge of the hills of Sirottis. In the north, the Ughans moved even more slowly north-westwards, halting ultimately in the face of strong Atlantean defences in the mountainous areas they were now approaching. Much time was spent in the first part of June as the Ughans attempted to storm the hills before Sirottis, but the position was unassailable. The Rabarrans to the south were also trying to force their way through the Babemme woods, but these were held just as tenaciously, and the Rabarrans suffered heavy casualties, for the first time in this year’s campaign.
In July the Ughans decided on a different tactic, and moved two Armies together to move round the high ground to the north, via Ronhusso, reach Lake Chalcris, and then attack the Atlanteans about Sirottis from the flank and rear, as well as renewing the frontal assaults. Initially all went well, and by July 14th, the Ughans’ forces had taken Ronhusso, and were climbing up the hills to the south. But the Atlanteans did not waver, and were even strengthened by reinforcements from Gasirotto. Then on July 20th, there occurred an Atlantean counter-attack across the Chalcratoura, south of Runnates. This Army forced aside the flimsy Ughan screen along the river, and hit the Ughans to the south in the rear. The Battle of Ronhusso became more complex after July 26th, as additional Ughan troops then struck these Atlanteans from the north-east. The battle spread northwards, as more and more forces came into direct conflict, instead of remaining in defensive entrenchments. North of this, of course, where the Atlanteans were installed on mountainous ground, no real Ughan attacks were feasible. In the end, the Atlanteans won, forcing the Ughans back from the Sirottis hills, and ultimately back eastwards to their north. This large battle finally fizzled out by August 20th.
Thereafter, for the rest of the year, neither side engaged in any major attacks, settling themselves into trench-lines opposite each other.
THE SIEGE AND FALL OF HELVRIS, 879-880
Helvris had been under siege since the previous year, and the attempt by the Atlanteans to relieve it earlier in 879 failed. For the rest of 879, the Atlanteans within Helvris are able to keep the enemy at a reasonable distance, and the siege progresses rather slowly for the Rabarrans. The army in the Meilox Mountains made several unsuccessful attempts to relieve the city, and by 880, its position was becoming desperate. Gaistuyex became worried again about the loyalty of Ghreuken Mists, and messages smuggled out of the besieged city by balloon in February of 880 seemed to suggest treachery and some sort of collusion with the Rabarrans. Gaistuyex decided to send a loyal Atlantean commander of his own, Fulgon Cennan, into the city, with a small bodyguard, ostensibly to advise Mists, but in reality to find out what was happening. He was to act decisively, if necessary, arresting or executing the Helvran, and rallying the Atlantean forces to take over the whole defence.
The problem was to how to insert the commander into the city through the siege. Gaistuyex decided to try to achieve this, and perhaps relieve the whole city, by moving armies south across the Cresslepp down to the coast, as described above. He action, which began on 23rd March, was aborted by the Rabarran attack across the Burastoura, but a small Atlantean force did in fact reach the Helvengio south of Noccsat. It could not force its way through the Rabarran lines investing Helvris, and had to retreat soon in any case, but as had been planned as a contingency, Cennan and a few men set sail in a boat which they had carried with them. Remarkable enough, they were able to creep surreptitiously along the coast and into Helvris by sea on April 8th, avoiding the Rabarran patrols. The Atlantean commander soon discovered that the Helvrans had been arranging surreptitious contacts with the Rabarran forces, and Ghreuken Mists was making little effort to defend the city. In a melodramatic scene, Cennan discovers the treachery in person, and the scene and its results are described for us now by the contemporary historian, Carel Nixalen, written in the rather formal style which came back into fashion in these last years. Click: The treachery in Helvris, April 880
The siege was now tightened, and the first serious bombardments of the town took place. All along, the Rabarrans had been hoping that disaffected Helvran elements in the town would force its surrender, but with the thwarting of Mists’ plot, they realised there was no choice but to carry on with the siege to the bitter end. The Atlantean garrison now had the whole city under tight control. After May, a series of Rabarran assaults make slow progress up to the city. Over the next two months, the fight for the city becomes calamitous. The bombardment reduced great swathes of it to ruin. Many civilians were killed, the rest living underground in cellars. The Rabarrans suffered horrendous casualties in their attacks, but the defenders also lost badly. By the beginning of July, many Helvran forces in the town were in open revolt, and the Atlanteans had to withdraw most of them from the defences. The Atlanteans now carried out a series of horrible massacres against all Helvran soldiers, perhaps over 6000 being killed. These massacres extended to civilians, as these began to sabotage the Atlantean defence. Another Rabarran attack on July 20th broke through the defences where a remaining Helvran force defected. For the next week, fighting spread throughout the streets, more and more Helvran civilians joining the invaders. The last Atlantean defenders holed up in the old citadel, and were bombarded mercilessly. Their final offer to surrender was ignored, and they were killed to a man. Thus on July 31st, the Rabarrans took control of the smouldering ruins of the ancient city of Helvris. They had suffered at least 50000 casualties in the siege. The Alternations had lost all their 27000 defenders, over 20000 being killed, 6000 Helvrans massacred by the Atlanteans themselves. There were probably also about 18000 civilian casualties.
3. Stalemate and the tortuous path to a short-lived peace, 881 – 882
881: THE RABARRANS REACH THE GREAT LAKES
The Ughans and Rabarrans succeeded in progressing a little further to the west, and as a result of the battle of Sirottis, reached the banks of Lakes Chalcris and Oncia by May. The Ughans attacked on April 18th with four armies from the Chalcran Forests, where they had secretly been collected over the past weeks. Some forces moved directly westwards, but made relatively little progress. However, the rest of the armies turned south, striking the main Atlantean position south-west of Micazzo. These troops were forced back, and were split up, some retreating west across the river Chalcratoura, the rest retiring on the strong position of the Sirottis hills, which had withstood the Ughan attacks in 880. At this point, the Rabarrans joined in with a frontal attack on these hills, also moving north-westwards from their positions around Gilliso. The First Battle of Sirottis which ensued lasted 10 days (April 25th – May 4th), and resulted in 30000 Atlanteans surrendering at Sirottis, when they were surrounded. Meanwhile, Rabarran troops reached the banks of Lake Oncia and drew close to the great fortified area of Gasirotto, while to the north, the Ughans reached Lake Chalcris and the river Chalcratoura. There was little further movement on this front for the rest of the year, apart from an advance some miles south by the Skallands west of Keltanipand.
Elsewhere, too, neither side could gain any ground. The Rabarrans made various small attacks in the Meilox Mountains, particularly against Nagguat and the great fortress of Ugholtis, all failures. The Atlanteans made a serious attack in July south from Rundes, but after weeks of bitter fighting, gained only a few miles of ground, as the Rabarrans’ defences here now were as strong as their opponents’. Gaiduiccon, meanwhile, was already seeking for an opportunity to end the war, if only with a truce. He was encouraged in this by an increasing amount of war-weariness amongst his subjects, for the war so far had resulted in full-scale conscription, unprecedented casualties and destruction, and the loss of all Atlantis’ eastern Provinces. Some of the population in these areas had indeed welcomed the enemy as deliverers, as we have already seen in Helvrieh. Rabarrieh was itself experiencing some opposition to the losses in the war, and even its leaders were beginning to decide that they should settle for what they had gained so far, which was more than they had ever really expected. Rabarrieh was also facing continual warfare against Yciel Tuaince Mandagge and was beginning to worry about the ground gained by the Ughans to the north. This became still more of a concern in 882, when both Ughrieh and Skallandieh started to make large advances, while Rabarrieh herself could not gain any ground at all. King Athulco Alibixo would not be unwilling to walk away with Meistayieh and perhaps some parts of Dravidieh II, as well as footholds in Helvrieh, and complete control of the Helvengio.
882: THE GREAT UGHAN ADVANCES IN THE NORTH: THE BATTLE OF BURESSO.
The Ughans were at this stage becoming extremely ambitious in their war-aims. After being so hesitant about joining the war at all a few years earlier, King Ladrubith and his generals were now convinced they had the Atlanteans on the run, and wanted to keep attacking westwards. They were also becoming just as anxious to rival their allies the Rabarrans, of whom they were quite jealous. After all, this nation had begun the war, seized Dravizzi and Atlandravizzi, taken both Helvris and Cennatlantis, and taken control of the Helvengio and most of Helvrieh. On the main battle-front, their troops awkwardly linked up with the Rabarrans to their south, sharing the Dravizzi-Atlandravizzi hills as well as the Sirottis heights between them. Even the Skallands were now moving southwards in the northern mountains, threatening to block them from further movement westwards. As suggestions for a truce wafted towards them from Atlanteans and Rabarrans, they were determined first to seize more ground in the north, as well as lay claim to as much of the Crolden Hills as they could. They wanted to annex Dravidieh I and as much of Chalcrieh as possible.
In March there took place the great Battle of Buresso. The Ughans began their new attack across the Chalcratoura, moving west and north-west to Encetes and the Taigeheill forest. This attack was successful, and was followed a few days later with a second, co-ordinated attack on Buresso from the east. These two pincers, closing in on Buresso from north and south trapped many Atlanteans, the rest escaping to the forest. However, the Ughans’ attempt to capture Encetes itself, by a direct attack from the east, was beaten off. Further north still, Ughan armies moved westwards across great swathes of mountains, the Cresskor and the Gedandolix. In so doing, the Ughans outsmarted the Skallands, who hurriedly had to organise an attack from the Taigeheill to the Cressdun Pass. Even here they were almost beaten to it by the Ughans, who continued westwards over the Gedandolix in the First Battle of the Cresskor Mountains, and were only narrowly beaten to the Pass by their northern neighbours.
By June, the Ughans had run out of steam. An amphibious attempt to cross Lake Chalcris was a disastrous failure, and the Atlantean defences were hardening all along the Gedandolix mountains. To the south, the Rabarrans had gained no ground at all, indeed had had to ward off a furious Atlantean attack on Cennatlantis from the west, across the Gonril.
SEPTEMBER 882: THE PEACE OF GASIROTTO
Serious negotiations between Atlantis and Rabarrieh took place throughout the winter and spring. Atlantis concentrated on dealing with Rabarrieh, the more so as she realised how she was being outpaced by the Ughans to the north. Her initial conditions, requiring the Rabarrans to quit all conquered Atlantean territory were of course ludicrous, and even the militarist party admitted that any truce would have to involve some loss of ground, albeit until the war could be resumed. This indeed was the reason why the military reluctantly went along with these peace moves, despite the fact that they mistrusted the new Emperor. (They whispered that he only wanted to release his wife from Ughan captivity.) Gradually the Atlanteans relented on their demands and offered Rabarrieh Meistayieh and Helvremon, but refused to give away any Helvran territory. As the Ughans’ advances continued in April and May, both sides became alarmed. The Ughans joined the negotiations in any case, but at the same time, Atlantis and Rabarrieh carried on secret talks, in which Gaiduiccon sought to set Rabarran and Ughan at each others’ throats by offering to cede, to Rabarrieh only, the whole of the Dravizzi-Atlandravizzi position. Currently the Ughans had a foothold on the hills north of Dravizzi, and wanted to obtain control of Dravizzi, at the very least. If Ughrieh objected, Atlantis and Rabarrieh would threaten to ally against her. Hints of these plans were deliberately leaked to the Ughans, who were already facing growing friction with the Skallands around the territory each was occupying in the northern mountains. In July, Rabarrieh and Atlantis agreed to a truce, pending a more permanent peace. Pressure was now put on the Ughans, and the Atlanteans began moving forces away from the Rabarran front against the Ughans. The Ughans then agreed to a truce in August, and finally, by September, a provisional peace was agreed between the three states at a conference in Gasirotto, the impregnability of which was concurrently made manifest to Atlantis’ enemies.
The Peace of Gasirotto was indeed really only a truce, during which both sides pledged to carry on talks towards a complete and full-scale treaty. In fact the only person who probably was serious about this was Gaiduiccon: all the others considered that the truce was just a breathing-space before a continuation of the war. Rabarrieh was granted Helvremon, Meistayieh and part of Dravidieh I, as well as in theory the Dravizzi-Atlandravizzi position and all the Crolden hills. Ughrieh took over Dravidieh II and eastern Chalcrieh. The Ughans and Rabarrans agreed to pull back their armies from their forward positions to a line one hundred miles west of the territory Atlantis had ceded to them. However, in all the areas of contention, troops remained on full guard. These included Helvrieh, which Rabarrieh refused to evacuate, the Crolden hills, where both sides’ troops eyed each other suspiciously, and Cennatlantis, which the Rabarrans were determined to hold.
The Skallands deliberately refused to treat for peace, and carried on moving through the Cressdun Pass. Atlantis had already agreed with Ughrieh that she would counter-attack here, and force Skallandieh to the negotiating-table, and Ughrieh played along by threatening to join in these attacks. During September and October, the Atlanteans concentrated three armies, and threw the Skallands back into the Pass and the Taichtaill mountains. As a result, Skallandieh too agreed to peace by November. Atlantis was determined to make this a perpetual peace, and Skallandieh in the end decided she had gained all she wanted out of the war: namely, the land down to the river Ruphaio including Dortan, but excluding Marussolo and the Cressdun Pass, and some territory to the east south of Keltanipand.
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