THE FIFTH EMPIRE: THE LATER FINAL WARS
883 – 890
THE OVERTHROW OF GAIDUICCON, 883
As soon as the peace was agreed, Gaiduiccon faced continual criticism for ending the war with such large concessions to her enemies. At least half his advisors were against it, as well as much of the army, despite the fact that Atlantis had obviously been steadily losing ground for several years. It was whispered that the Emperor had always been a pacifist at heart, and only wanted to rescue his wife was Ughan captivity. At the same time, Gaiduiccon's old supporters gradually re-emerged as well, making their old demands for peace with democracy. They rejoiced that Atlantis had been shorn of much of her Empire, but were not really able now to demand more industrial and technological progress, as they had in the 860s, as this had been thrust on them by the war, and they did not much like it. So now they sought a return to a way of life which perhaps had preceded industrialisation, with small-scale industry and settlements. Meanwhile the Believers, whom Gaiduiccon now after all supported, were themselves split, as half of them still hated the agnostics and the democrats, and found themselves willy-nilly in the war camp. Gaiduiccon wavered as a result of this pressure, and in the spring of 883, permitted the armed forces to remain on standby for a possible resumption of hostilities.
By the middle of 883, Gaiduiccon was becoming ignored and bypassed by the military and their allies, who continued rearming and making preparations for war, whatever he said. However, from time to time, he objected and held things up, and so plots began to overthrow him, and replace him by one of the military, specifically the general in command of the central Front. The Commander-in -Chief, Zaippo, a supporter of the peace and a friend of the Emperor, remained ignorant of this plot, and was looked on with disgust by the plotters for his unmanly pacifism.
On July 23rd 883, Gaiduiccon was quietly arrested, and told he had been deposed in favour of a new Emperor, to be called Crehonerex IV. Simultaneously, all Gaiduiccon's supporters were arrested, and to show its determination, the army, with Crehonerex's approval, shot many of these leaders, and put down a series of rallies in favour of Gaiduiccon with great brutality. Gaiduiccon himself was threatened with a trial, and according to his own later comments, with torture, unless he retired from the scene, and told his supporters to support the new regime. Whatever the reason, this is what he did, retiring with his family into private life. Later, he regretted his weakness at this time, and spoke up again, claiming he could reveal secrets about the private behaviour of the new members of the Government, and other scandals, financial and moral. Certainly pamphlets were secretly produced over the next two years, accusing Crehonerex and his cronies of secret immorality. The Government went to great lengths to quash these rumours and writings, and was very probably behind Gaiduiccon's in the mysterious explosion at his house, just after the war began again, which killed him and his wife, and destroyed all the writings he had committed to paper.
CREHONEREX IV AND THE PREPARATIONS FOR A NEW WAR,
Crehonerex was one of Gaistuyex's favourite generals, who until 881 had commanded quite successfully in Helvrieh. He was then transferred to the northern front, and conducted the brief, successful counter-offensive against Skallandieh, when that country alone refused to take part in the truce which ended the Middle Later Wars. Crehonerex was an outspoken critic of the 882 Peace of Gasirotto, and a vocal opponent of Gaiduiccon. He led the military rearmament, which Gaiduiccon was forced to concede in 883, and was now appointed to the central Front. He led the plot to overthrow the Emperor, and was then crowned Emperor himself in January 884, forming a new Dynasty and taking the name Crehonerex IV.
We know little of his personal life, and there is probably little to know. He was born in 851 (and was thus 33 in 884), and married in 875. He rarely saw his wife afterwards, although they had one son in 878. His wife was slightly injured in Cennatlantis in 880 (at the same time as Gaistuyex was killed), and at the end of the war, in 888, both wife and son were killed with Crehonerex in the storming of Atlantis. According to rumour, Crehonerex had many mistresses during the wars, but generally he seems to have shown no interest in any emotional matters, nor artistic ones. He was certainly most at home with his military comrades.
He was a fanatical believer in Atlantis and Atlantean regeneration, and had worshipped Gaistuyex. He was now determined to continue fighting Atlantis' enemies until Atlantis regained her former boundaries - and this meant for him as much territory south of the Helvengio as possible. He refused to recognise that Atlantis must ultimately be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of her enemies.
Over the next few months, Crehonerex worked furiously to re-equip the Atlanteans, and by means of rigorous concription, increase the size of her armies. He planned to strike suddenly and unexpectedly against the Ughans, while maintaining the truce with Rabarrieh and Skallandieh. He would assure them that he only intended a limited attack on the Ughans, to regain ground which they were supposed to have given up anyway by the terms of the Peace of Gasirotto. (In fact both Ughans and Rabarrans had withdrawn some troops from the front line back towards the areas they had been granted in the Peace, but both sides were too suspicious of the Atlanteans to fully demobilise. Moreover, arguments over Cennatlantis and Helvrieh meant that Rabarran troops did not withdraw at all from those places). He would strike the Ughans in front across the Ruphaio, and in flank across the Chakratoura, surrounding them in the Cresskor Mountains, seizing Buresso and Runnates. This would be followed by an amphibious attack over Lake Chalcris, and then the rolling up of the Ughans from south to north, forcing them back to the Chalcran Forests. If they had not already declared war, Crehonerex then intended to turn on the Rabarrans, attacking east from Gasirotto, and at the same time south from against their eastern flank via Micazzo and Yellis, cutting them off from their communications. eastwards. To carry out these manoeuvres, he dismissed Zaippo as Commander-in-Chief, and replaced him with Norindel, a faithful supporter and very aggressive general.
The number of Atlantean armies in 884 was sixteen, the same in fact as in 882, but whereas then they had been worn down to under 1,000,000, they were now raised to 1,300,000, and this despite the fact that Atlantis had lost half her recruiting grounds over the past few years. In comparison, the Rabarrans had had 12 armies (about 1,100,000 men) in 882, the Ughans 6 (600,000) and the Skallands 7 (650,000). This made a total of 25 armies or about 2,350,000 men, over double the size of the Atlanteans. In 884, Atlantis' enemies had considerably fewer men at the front, and by attacking them one at a time, he would always be able to outnumber them. Above all, he hoped to keep the Skallands off his back, and tried throughout 884 and 885, quite successfully, to negotiate a permanent peace with them. Crehonerex was not able to hide his preparations from his enemies, but he did initially persuade the Rabarrans to remain neutral while he attacked the Ughans suddenly in July 884.
THE DEFEAT OF THE UGHANS, 884
On July 28th 884, two Atlantean armies attacked and held the Ughans frontally in their positions on the mountains across the Ruphaio, while another two armies swung round through the Taigeheill woods, seized Buresso and moved over the Chakratoura against the rear and flank of the enemy to the north. The Ughans were fairly scattered about in the mountains, north of Buresso, and east of Encetes, with others still further east, so the Atlanteans were able to isolate and defeat them in small groups in the Second Battle of the Cresskor Mountains. The troops on the high Gedandolix were forced back and partly surrounded, while south of Buresso, a second strike nearly encircled the enemy west of the Chakratoura, forcing the remains of them over the river at Runnates. The time was now mid-August, and the Atlanteans hoped to carry on their attacks against the Ughans as planned, and prepared the amphibious crossing Lake Chalcris. However, Rabarrieh had decided that enough was enough as far as the Atlantean advances against Ughrieh were concerned, and on August 10th peremptorily declared war. Her relations with Ughrieh were still pretty frosty, and her strategy now was decided without any discussion. She threw parts of two armies against Gasirotto, and then struck north-west from the Cennatlantis front. Rundes was retaken here, but Gasirotto was completely impregnable, and the Rabarrans suffered incredible casualties during their assaults throughout August and September.
Meanwhile, Atlantean troops carried on their manoeuvres against the Ughans, deliberately remaining on the defensive against the Ughans. The amphibious attack crossed Lake Chalcris near Ronhusso and moved north, as other troops met them coming southwards. Further northwards, the Ughans were gradually forced back eastwards out of the mountains, and during September and October, the Atlanteans retook Gedancairn and Caddan, and their forces bulged out in a salient towards the Chalcran Forests. In September, the Rabarrans saw the chance to hit the Atlanteans advancing eastwards in flank up the east side of Lake Chalcris. However, their attack here towards the Chakratoura and Runnates was very badly organised and piecemeal, and while it forced the Atlanteans back some way, it in no way seriously impeded them. By the beginning of October, the fighting had died down everywhere, and while the Ughans and Rabarrans tried to organise their defence, the Atlanteans prepared for the next stage of their offensive.
THE UGHANS DEFEATED AGAIN, JANUARY - APRIL 885
The Atlanteans paused only for a couple of months. Then, on January 16th, they resumed their offensive. Once again, they began by hammering the Ughans. Five armies struck again south-eastwards towards the river Merros in the north and the Chalcran Forests to the south, and after a tenacious defence at first, the Ughans collapsed. Atlantean tanks appeared on the scene, and joined in the chase, and
gradually the Ughans fell back. However, the weather and time of year, as well as a toughening Ughan defence meant that the Atlantean advance was slower and more costly than had been planned. By April the Forests had been taken and the slopes of the Dravidos hills finally slowed down the Atlantean advance to a crawl. On the southern flank of this advance, two Atlantean armies at first continued to remain on the defensive against the Rabarrans, who themselves made no further attacks here. They also seem to have been unaware of how the Atlantean advance was extending past their right flank, and by April, the Atlantean capture of Micazzo should have been a real warning to the Rabarrans to guard the communications of their armies to the west before Gasirotto and north of Ronhusso.
Rabarrieh, in fact, had her mind on a bold attack from the Rundes position directly north-westwards into Atlantidieh, a move which she hoped would stymie Atlantis' advances to the east of the Lakes. This campaign began in March, and within two weeks, Rabarran armies had forced the thin Atlantean line back almost to Failbloua. Atlantis, however, completely ignored this threat, and now struck hard at Rabarrieh, striking south on Ronhusso with two armies, and preparing two others s to wheel southwards from the Micazzo area. The two armies north of Ronhusso turned the Rabarrans' right flank, and forced them back up the hills towards Sirottis at the end of April. For the next month the Second battle of Sirottis raged, as the Atlanteans gradually forced the Rabarrans southwards through and past Sirottis, and on 4th May, they relieved the fortress of Gasirotto. The Rabarrans were becoming aware by now of the threat to their right, or eastern, flank, and had spread out elements of three armies between Sirottis and the Crolden Mountains and Dravizzi hills. Crehonerex and his staff now saw their chance to strike a really decisive blow, and break the Rabarran communications, while cutting them off completely from the Ughans. Gradually during April and May, the Atlanteans sidestepped their armies southwards down their easternmost flank. While three armies remained facing the Ughans on and north of the Dravidos hills, one army moved on to seize the Crolden Hills, and two others grouped south of Micazzo with many tanks.
CAN THE COURSE OF HISTORY BE REVERSED? THE UGHANS AND RABARRANS ON THE BRINK OF DISASTER, APRIL - JULY.
On May 27th began the great Lake Trannolla campaign. To the east, the army on the Crolden Hills assaulted the Dravizzi position, more to keep the Rabarrans occupied, than in any expectation of seizing the position. Although sparsely defended at this stage, the Rabarran positions held, and the Atlantean attack was called off after ten days. No-one could know it then, but this would be a fateful failure, for the hills were never again going to be within the grasp of the Atlanteans, and that fact next year would allow the enemy to rebuild their forces from a position of near-defeat, and ultimately counter-attack the Atlanteans right back to the gates of Atlantis itself. But apart from this, the Atlanteans now had a great success. Their armies sped south on Yellis and Triallana, and then into the Babemme, catching a Rabarran counter-attack on Sirottis in flank. On they advanced, down to Rontisso and down the west bank of the Burastoura. Gradually the Rabarrans were being forced south-westwards away from their communications, and back on to Cennatlantis and Lake Trannolla.
Simultaneously to the west of Cennatlantis, the advance of the Rabarrans had run into difficulty. With the relief of Gasirotto, the Atlanteans had an army spare, and with this they struck the Rabarrans from the north in a battle north of Failbloua. Being still outnumbered, the Atlanteans should not have prevailed, but the Rabarrans were now transfixed by what was happening in Chalcrieh, and pulled back their armies to a defensive ring yet again. In Chalcrieh, the Atlanteans swung round west from Rontisso on Gilliso and Snattarona, and by the end of June, their armies to the east had reached the Lake. Rabarrieh's forces were thus sliced in two.
THE BATTLES OF CELINGE AND SECOND DRAVIZZI, AUGUST - OCTOBER
At sea, meanwhile, Rabarrieh launched an amphibious invasion of Atlantis itself. A large army landed near Celinge in August 5th, and at first easily held off the sparse Atlantean defence in the Battle of Celinge. But now the Atlantean navy emerged from Atlantis city, and crushed the Rabarran naval support force at sea. Without support, the Rabarrans on land were forced back into Celinge, and forced to surrender on September 23rd.
In the east, Atlantis made what in retrospect was the mistake of trying to force her way westwards to the Dodolla, but was held off by the Rabarran armies on the hill positions around Gilliso and Snattarona. Only in August did she turn to the eastern flank, to try again to seize Dravizzi and Atlandravizzi. But she had been anticipated by Rabarrieh, who had quietly been moving up to three armies out of the Snattarona-Gilliso position south round Lake Trannolla and on to the Atlandravizzi hills. Thus the Atlantean attack here, when it finally came, was too late. Again and again, in September and October, her troops were thrown against these hills in the Second Battle of Dravizzi, but she lost huge numbers to no avail. Finally she admitted defeat here, and the whole vast front of conflict fell quiet - but not for very long.
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