The End of Atlantis, 888-890
ATLANTIS PREPARES FOR HER DOOM
As her enemies closed in around her, still only some way inside the original borders of the Province of Atlantis, there was perhaps a last chance for Atlantis to try to secure some sort of independent survival for her heartland. In practice, though, there could now be no salvation for her. Both sides in the war were now determined to play on to the end, and that could only mean the destruction and conquering of all that was left of the Atlantean Empire. Crehonerex and his inner circle had persuaded themselves that it was better for Atlantis to go down fighting than to submit to what must be a cruel peace imposed by its enemies. Nevertheless there were amongst these people several different opinions as to the best course to take, and to his credit Crehonerex did not attempt to suppress any of them. So there were some who did want to obtain terms from the Ughans or the Rabarrans or both. Others were concerned to preserve the essentials of Atlantean culture, and demanded that the political, cultural and artistic elite, with their families, should flee Atlantis with as many artifacts as they could take, and make for some other land out of reach of their enemies. Even the group which, like Crehonerex, wanted to go down fighting, was divided in its reasons for this option. The military had little philosophical background to their decision, but other people, particularly the religious ones, felt that death in itself could be a good thing, in that it would take humans out of this wearisome and dangerous world into another one which must be better. This group, though strenuously opposed by many religious and philosophical thinkers, advocated the use of what were virtually "suicide missions or squads". These would hurl themselves at the enemy, killing as many as possible, at the inevitable expense of their own lives.
Such fanaticism really only came into its own in the last year of the war, as defeat for Atlantis became inevitable. The hard-line leaders approved of this suggestion, and in the autumn of 887 suicide squads were set up in an organised way, in contrast to the few ineffectual missions which took place in earlier years. These fighters had most success in the woods of northern Atlantis, against the Ughans, and in the final battle within the city of Atlantis against the Rabarrans. But all the "cultural elite" of Atlantis, including many of the advocates of suicide attacks, also wanted the government to make sure that the spiritual, philosophical, artistic, political and practical inventions and discoveries of Atlantis were somehow preserved for posterity. So the idea of the exodus from the city of an elite group of people and artifacts was seriously planned and worked out.
Throughout the autumn and winter Atlantis prepared herself for the last battle. In the end, she made no attempt to ask her enemies for terms, apart from an unofficial approach to the Skallands in November, which was turned down immediately. She had to deal with a vast influx of refugees, fleeing before the Rabarrans, who when they arrived during 887 in lands actually lived in by Atlanteans, rampaged, raped and murdered with wild abandon. This behaviour by her enemies reinforced the belief of ordinary Atlanteans that they might as well go down fighting. On the other hand, the Ughans, who had behaved in just this way against Dravideans and Chalcrans on the far side of the Great Lakes, in fact behaved much more correctly towards the Atlanteans themselves.
THE LAST CHANCE FOR A SETTLEMENT IS LOST
It might be thought that one or other of the allied powers fighting Atlantis would by now have wanted to offer terms of some description to their enemy because of the very real danger that one at least of these nations would become so powerful if Atlantis were conquered, that it would threaten the survival of the others. Already Ughrieh and Rabarrieh had squabbled over areas of their common frontier, which now stretched back hundreds of miles through Atlantidieh and Chalcrieh to the river Gestes. In 886, as we have seen, the leaders of the allied Powers had met and agreed to carry on the war until Atlantis was completely conquered - in effect, allowing Atlantis no chance at all to make peace, not even unconditional surrender. They would put on ice areas of potential dispute between them, such as the Crolden Hills, and the Lakes area, which was in Rabarran hands on the eastern side, whereas the Ughans held the western bank of Lake Oncia. Both sides nevertheless had left large parts of their armed forces to hold this long border: Rabarrieh placed eight Armies here, with eight others now facing the Atlanteans, while Ughrieh had four armies in Atlantis, and four others further east. These four included three opposite the Rabarrans and one facing the Skallands. They too had four opposing the Atlanteans (two in Yciel Atlantis and two in the province of Atlantis), while two more watched the border with the Ughans back to the Cresskor Mountains. Here too there was the potential for friction, as the Skallands had occupied all the area north of the river Noilafa and the Decanda Runix, as well as the Cressdun Pass and the Gedandolix Mountains further east. The status of Atlantis city, once conquered, was also a looming problem.
In the autumn of 887, the three leaders met again, for the last time, once again in Gasirotto. Each was now extremely suspicious of the others. Ughrieh and Rabarrieh found it impossible to hammer out a plan for next year without agreeing which of them should take Atlantis city, and in the end left the decision till later. Skallandieh at least denied all interest in that part of the province of Atlantis, and said she had virtually gained all the ground she needed apart from the rest of Yciel Atlantis and control of the Bay of Marossan. Neither of the other Powers trusted her, and Rabarrieh made sure that her own navy would not in any way seek to help Skallandieh deal with the Atlantean navy based at Sulosos. This should keep the Skalland navy tied up and out of the way of the seas bordering the more southern parts of the province, which Rabarrieh considered to belong to her in the future. (In fact this short-sighted strategy would backfire on Rabarrieh by allowing the Atlanteans to use the unblockaded Sulosos navy against her as well as against the Skallands.) Strangely, though, the concept of a "balance of power", that is the need to keep some part of the Atlantean Empire as a viable counterweight against any other country which became too dominant on the Continent, was not even thought of by the Allies. Each side looked simply through its own blinkered eyes, and was concerned only to wipe out all traces of Atlantis, with little thought of what would follow afterwards. It is true that each party also preserved its right and ability to strike at one or other Power by lining the borders with armies: but nothing would be done until Atlantis had fallen.
There is one other factor to bear in mind. Those geological upheavals and convulsions which would smash and bury the whole Great Continent within the next ten or twenty years were already beginning to make themselves felt. For several years the weather had become more and more extreme - storms, gales and earthquakes, as well as volcanic eruptions had become much more frequent - the long dormant volcano "Ahneyughol" in the old Eliossien part of Skallandieh had started a series of eruptions in 882 onwards. The major earthquakes, floods and breaking of the lands did not properly begin until around 893, but these precursors frightened everybody, and gave credence to millenarian cults and sects in all countries, which predicted the coming end of the world. Somehow this climate affected the way in which everyone behaved, making them more unwilling to compromise, and less able to look at things from a longer viewpoint and with proper dispassion.
THE FIGHT FOR ATLANTIS BEGINS: THE PROVINCE IS OVERRUN,
Typically the Rabarrans anticipated the agreed start of the offensive against Atlantis, in order to gain an initial advantage in the race for the Atlantean capital. On March 1st, ten days early, the eight Rabarran armies advanced across the Rollepp and Bore rivers. Their aim was to bypass and then surround the Dallase Fembe, the woods west of the Lillerunix which were held in great strength by the enemy. At the same time a naval force moved towards the city of Atlantis. This was decisively beaten by a mixture of Atlantean ships, mines and shore gunfire. After some initially serious fighting, the Atlanteans in front of the Rabarrans collapsed, and swiftly retired north-westwards. The Ughans quickly joined in the fighting, crossing the Bore and advancing as far as the Pusseal woods, where strong defences held them up until the end of March. The Skallands made virtually no effort to force their way further southwards in Atlantis: they concentrated on overrunning Yciel Atlantis. Their navy, after fighting extending throughout the winter months, had, as we have seen, gained control of the waters all around the peninsula. Now two armies struck southwards, along with amphibious attacks on the northern coast of Yciel Atlantis. Almost immediately the Atlanteans were broken, and they fled away, chased by the Skallands. By April, the latter had gained control of most of the peninsula, although Atlantean forces held out ferociously across the south-western area behind a line stretching approximately from Nerilo in the south via Atalaso further west and north via the inland lakes to the northern coast near the island of Suchimori.
The Atlantean armies had already decided to pull back quickly in the south to a line between Ygohe, the river Puster and the Algrunix, north via Failrun to the Pusseal, while maintaining their original defences against the Skallands for as long as possible. The Army's plan was that they would create a strong striking force behind this line of defence. Before the Rabarrans or Ughans could catch up with them, they would suddenly lunge out at one or the other, and by a series of manoeuvres for which their generals were well trained, defeat them in detail and send them fleeing back out of the Province. Certainly the Rabarrans were surprised by the speed of the Atlanteans' withdrawal after the first few days' fighting, and they nearly let themselves fall into a trap, by deliberately pushing forwards the troops on their right, across the Bore to Buatloua and then Failrun and the hills near it, in order to prevent the Ughans from reaching the capital first. So, with the southernmost Rabarrans still only around Cennis and the west of the Dallase Fembe, on March 22nd, an Atlantean strike-force emerged from the lines east of Atlantis and struck the southern flank of the Rabarran armies around Buatloua, moving via Yeldis, which was in the gap between the two Rabarran forces. In the battle of Buatloua, (March 22nd - 26th) the Rabarrans were forced back towards Yzuephe on the Bore at first. The Atlanteans hastily moved on to strike the Ughans north of Failrun. Again they caught the Ughans by surprise and forced them to retreat eastwards. However, they made the mistake of following them up too closely, and as the Ughan armies became more concentrated, they were able to hit back at the Atlanteans and give them a bloody nose. The Atlantean armies were compelled to retreat back to Atlantis in April. The Rabarrans soon recovered from their shock and took advantage of the retreat of the Ughans, moving their forces back to the Failrun area by mid April.
The Allied attack on March 1st, 888, and Atlantean counter-attack at the battle of Buatloua, March 22nd - 26th, 888
THE BATTLE OF ATLANTIS, MAY - JULY 888
In the first weeks of April, the Rabarrans hastened to move forward their group of Armies from the Cennis area to the Algrunix hills. At the same time, taking advantage of the withdrawal of Atlantean troops from this area on account of their earlier offensive to the north, other Rabarran Armies marched from the Yeldis area to the river Atlanos. For much of the rest of the month and on into May, however, the attacks on Atlantis by both Rabarrans and Ughans faltered, as the two empires came to the brink of war over which should attack and occupy the capital city of Atlantis. Arguments between the two sides raged between generals, then between political representatives at the front, and finally between the two monarchs of Ughrieh and Rabarrieh. Action against the Atlanteans stopped almost completely for a time, and both sides prepared their troops for war along the long, informal frontier eastwards to the Crolden Hills. At first one Army apiece, then two more on each side were brought into line against each other west of the Great Lakes, and some skirmishing did indeed take place around Tilrase and in other parts of Atlantidieh during May. However, the Ughans could not win any war against the Rabarrans, as they just did not possess the manpower of their rivals. Apart from the forces facing the Atlanteans, the Ughans had another four Armies occupying the former Atlantean territory back to the Crolden Hills, while the Rabarrans had six here. Moreover, the Rabarrans had eight Armies fighting the Atlanteans, while the Ughans had only four, so again the Rabarrans had double the reinforcements which could potentially be moved from one front to the other. At the beginning of May, at the height of the tension with Ughrieh, the Rabarran Armies which had been defeated at Buatloua had been rallied and tried again to seize the hills west of Failrun. Ughan troops followed just behind, but they were pipped to the post, and by 17th May, the Rabarrans were camped on the hills, holding the most important tactical position around Atlantis. They had blocked the approach of the Ughans to the city, and had also potentially outflanked the Atlanteans' defences along the south and east of Atlantis. Then the Ughans were seriously distracted in the middle of May by an Atlantean counter-attack north of the river Ghesse via Yfeale against the Ughans' right flank, as we shall see below. After this, they tacitly abandoned any hope of seizing the city of Atlantis, which was left to the Rabarrans.
The Rabarrans resumed action against the Algrunix and along the Atlanos in mid-May, but the defences were far too strong here for frontal assaults to succeed. So they crossed the river Puster from the Failrun hills and advanced on the capital from the north. At the same time, their navy made a foray to the north of Atlantis, attempting to hem in or destroy any Atlantean ships trying to get through the straits between the city and the "Atlano Mandengio" (island) from this direction. However, the Atlantean fleet at Sulosos, still partially intact, was able to counter-attack and fight off the Rabarrans. Nevertheless, there were no Atlantean ships now left in the area of Atlantis, and its waters were defended simply by land-based artillery firing seawards. It had reluctantly been agreed by the Atlantean leadership that a picked force of intellectuals, artists, philosophers, scientists and members of the government should escape from the city of Atlantis before it was finally surrounded by the enemy. This moment had evidently now arrived, and it was decided to first take the party to Sulosos, the defensive redoubt of the fleet, rather than try to lead it out to sea directly from Atlantis city, as it might easily be intercepted by the enemy. So some 2000 citizens were led out and escorted by army units to the final redoubt at the naval base of Sulosos, some 60 mile to the north. They took with them some of the smaller and more portable treasures of Atlantean civilisation, books, sculptures, paintings and examples of technology. Others had already been buried deep in underground vaults within Atlantis, where it was hoped, correctly as we now know, that some might survive the burning down of the city and the looting of the Ughans.
By the end of the month, the city of Atlantis was surrounded on all sides by the Rabarrans, and the assault on it began. The Atlanteans defended their city tenaciously, and much of the population was forced into the lines. Fighting went on throughout June, as the defenders were forced back further and further westwards to the sea, amid the burning ruins of the city. On June 27th, a Rabarran force landed on Atlano Mandengio and soon conquered the whole island, which had been largely stripped of defenders. Finally, in the second week of July, the last defenders, scorning surrender, but cut off from any escape, as the Rabarrans had finally inserted naval forces into the Atlanix Lirilix (straits) themselves, either died fighting or threw themselves into the sea or onto rafts, where they were killed or drowned. The Emperor Crehonerex and those of his family remaining in Atlantis were killed beneath the collapsing buildings in the centre of the city as they fought to the end with machine-guns.
THE LAST BATTLES WITH THE UGHANS AND SKALLANDS, MAY - JULY 888
At the same time as the city of Atlantis was going up in flames, the final rounds of the struggle between Atlantis and her other enemies was played out north and south of the river Ghesse. We have see that the Ughans were thwarted in their desire to close in on Atlantis city by the Rabarran seizure of the hills west of Failrun in mid-May. At the same time, and just afterwards, their troops were also fighting their way through the Pusseal woods, aiming to cross the Ghesse at Ghestis and hit the rear of the strong Atlantean position of the hills to the north, where they were facing off the Skallands still further north. But as we have also seen, at this point, the Atlanteans made what was their last true offensive of the war, risking the move of one whole Army from the hills down the north bank of the Ghesse through Yfeals and on south-east, rolling up the right flank of the Ughans. The move had some success at first, but after all, the single Atlantean Army was facing three Ughan Armies (apart from a fourth one in the Pusseal), and soon the Ughans almost contemptuously pushed past it in the south, crossing the river at Ghestis, and against its flank at Yfeale. It suffered 50% casualties overall and the remnants of its forces managed to return to their starting-point by the beginning of June. The Ughans now directed two Armies over the Ghesse against the rear of the two very weak Atlantean Armies on the hills to the north, while the Skallands bestirred themselves to attack them from the front. The Atlanteans here withstood their enemies for ten days, but they had news that the city of Atlantis was being stormed and there was now no hope at all of relief. On June 16th, the remains of the Atlanteans, only 55000, surrendered deliberately to the Skallands, as they knew they would get fairer treatment from them rather than the Ughans.
Meanwhile, in the west, Sulosos, its refugees from Atlantis, its military garrison of 12000 and the navy in its harbour remained unscathed throughout most of June. The Rabarrans concentrated completely on reducing Atlantis city, while the Ughans were concerned with the fight for the Ghesse. Some 45000 Atlanteans still held out in the west of the Pusseal, or were scattered to the south-west in defensive positions, mostly on the "Huainarun" hills around Yrun and Sulosos itself. Both Rabarrans and Ughans suddenly started moving small forces west towards Sulosos at the end of June. The Ughans, in a final effort, cleared the Pusseal, and forced back the weary defenders towards the coast, To the south, a force of 40000 Rabarrans moved northwards along the "Atlantisraita". As they closed on Sulosos, the remaining defenders took up their positions in the large and immensely strong redoubt on the Huainarun. At the same time, following decisions made during the last winter, the 2000 civilians, along with about 4000 soldiers, prepared to escape by sea.
THE FINAL ODYSSEY, JULY 888
It was decided initially that the Atlantean refugees should make for Yciel Atlantis, where remnants of the defenders still held out in various towns and ports in the south. Phonero was the landing-place that was chosen. Part of the navy moved out of port before the 6000, and turning south, put itself in a position to defend the exodus against attack by the Rabarrans. The rest of the navy went ahead to watch out for the Skalland navy, though this had been conspicuous by its absence for the last few months. The travellers set off on July 3rd, and the voyage was at first uneventful, the Rabarran navy being wholly concentrated around Atlantis itself. As the ships approached the naval base and islands around Achosil, now in Skalland hands, some ships were seen, which the Atlanteans engaged and pushed away. The forces landed cautiously at Phonero, where there was a garrison of some 15000 still resisting. Some of the ships stayed here, the rest going off to visit other Atlantean points of defence on the peninsula. These ships are never alluded to again, and it seems that they were all sunk or captured by the Skalland navy, which in the following weeks reappeared in the seas off the Atlantean defensive positions, and helped to reduce them by bombardment. But the Phonero garrison held out all autumn, and it was only in November, that its perimeter finally collapsed, and the defenders surrendered. By then, though, the exiles had moved on, crossing the narrow seas to Phonaria, with numbers now up to some 9000, as some of the defenders of Yciel Atlantis had joined them.
The group hoped to find some help and friendship in Phonaria, from Atlanteans still there, although the island was of course now theoretically ruled by the Quendeliens - theoretically, because Quendelieh had withdrawn almost all her troops years before, to fight invasion and civil war at home. As a result, the whole island was in near anarchy.
From this stage onward, we know less and less of the details of the Odyssey, for few accounts of it have come down to us. It seems the exiles moved around the eastern areas of Phonaria, still seeking a place to put down roots. Elsewhere, the war against Atlantis had ended. All resistance to the Rabarrans and Ughans had ceased on the mainland by August, as the Sulosos defenders were wiped out in a grim nemesis, which saw hundreds jumping off the cliffs to their deaths. The remains of the Sulosos navy fought some more skirmishes against the Rabarrans, who now moved up in force by sea and land. The final Atlantean ships were hemmed in on the coast, and deliberately set on fire or sunk. The Skallands withdrew immediately from the war in Atlantis, and by the end of the year, having conquered the whole of Yciel Atlantis, demobilised. The Ughans and the Rabarrans hastily lined up their forces against each other along the long border between Atlantis and the Crolden Hills, while diplomacy tried to work out a settlement between them. Earthquakes and extreme weather conditions were of course increasing all the time, and continued to do so over the next few years, until the final catastrophe around 894 and after.
These details are not important to the story of Atlantis, which is now almost over. The final flicker that we can observe is in the movements of the small group of exiles, and their odyssey across land and sea. We know some left Phonaria in 889, and sailed westwards along the north coast. Some seemed to have sailed right round the island and returned again to Atlantis later in the year, only to be sunk in battle by a Rabarran fleet. But rumour - and more than rumour - insists that some parts of the intellectual, artistic and religious inheritance of the Atlanteans came down to the earliest parts of our own civilisation across decades and centuries of geological upheaval, meteorological disasters, and the reversion of civilisation to barabarism. Somewhere these exiles, with their precious knowledge and some of their artifacts, found a haven and their children and children's children survived into the new era. This cannot have been in Atlantis itself, nor anywhere nearby, for we have found no trace of it. Our best guess from what evidence there is, must be that their odyssey ended in some obscure central part of Phonaria, where some of them lived on through the terrors to come. Their descendants then passed on their legacy to the civilisations of the Middle East, Egypt, India, China and perhaps the Americas.
888: The end of Atlantis and the Odyssey. Showing attacks by allies in April till the capture of the city of Atlantis, and the subsequent moves against Sulosos and the Odyssey.
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