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The military geography of the Atlantean Empire

INTRODUCTION: THE HEARTLAND OF ATLANTIS

The geography of the vast region covered by the Atlantean Empire, as well as its periphery, which was occupied by neighbouring states and peoples often antagonistic to Atlantis, is of vital importance when studying military history. Again and again, throughout the 700 years of recorded Atlantean history, the position of mountains, hills, rivers, plains, lakes and cities determine the course and limitation of invasions, defence and civil wars. Despite changes in sizes and armaments of armies, and conflicts between differing nations or contenders for the government of Atlantis itself, the strategy of wars and the sites of battles are limited by geography and often repeat themselves over the centuries.

The original kingdom of Atlantis, its heartland, as it was before its expansion after the 200s, was a compact area highly defensible against invaders. It is bounded on the west by the sea, on the north and south by mountains and on the east by rivers, the Bore and the Rollepp. There are relatively narrow lower areas between the mountains and the sea to north and south - from Marossan in the north and Numidis in the south, but these too are not difficult to defend. In fact once the Helvran Wars were past, no invaders penetrated as far west as this until the Final Wars in the 880s.

Atlantis city itself is almost impregnable, with the sea and the Atlano Mandengio securing access by sea, as well as two rivers, the Puster and the Atlanos to east and south-east, and the Algrunix hills serving as a bulwark to the south. These strategic hills and rivers were the site of several battles in the early years - against Helvrans in 253 and in the Family Wars in 308 and 312. Then at roughly 120-140 miles away, the capital is protected and almost surrounded by two great rivers, the Fellepp in the south and the Rollepp to east and north. The source of these rivers, and bridging the gap between them, are the Lillerunix Hills. Possession of these hills was important to Atlantean defenders and to invaders, as the major road called the "Yeltrata" crossed the hills from east to west and could allow an attacker to bypass the river barriers. Furthermore the thick wood called the Dallase Fembe, west of the hills, provided a convenient area to move westwards unseen by defenders. The Lillerunix was fought over in the Helvran Wars, the Imperial Wars (with a major battle in 361), in Ruthopheax's campaigns against the Republicans and in the Final Wars.

Within the circuit of the rivers Fellepp and Bore, the landscape around Atlantis city was hilly in parts, but had no serious obstacles to armies other than the woods - the Dallase Fembe west of the Lillerunix and the Pusseal north-east of the capital. An invader crossing these rivers was usually forced to use a certain number of roads. In the north, the "Marossaraita" crossed the Bore at Ghestis (it was too wide to cross easily any further west) but then had to skirt the Pusseal and cross the Huainarun hills between Yrun and the later naval base of Sulosos. This area was often successfully defended by the Atlanteans, notably against the Skallands in the Continental War (746) and at the end of the Final Wars. Another road crossed the river to the east, south of Yfeale, which also avoided the woods. The Bore was crossed by two main roads, about 70 miles apart, because they went round the edges of the Borfembe and Failfembe woods to the east of the river. The area east of the Bore, as far as the river Rollepp, was also part of the Atlantean heartland, and was partly covered by these woods, as well as the river Ghesse to the north. The northern road, the "Cennrata" crossed the Rollepp at Ancahouth and the Ghesse at Duiccul, and then moved north of the Borfembe and over the Bore at Fourtis. From here it had to cross hills west of Failrun and then the river Puster before reaching the capital. There was another road south of the Failfembe from Tilrase on the Rollepp to Uzuephe on the Bore, whence it moved indirectly on Atlantis via Yeldis and Ygohe. Many battles were fought along these roads: in 311 and 313 in the Family Wars, at Fourtis in 588, the first defeat of the Imperialists by the Republicans, and again in the revolt against the Tyrants in 828, and in the Borfembe against the Skallands in 746.

In the south there was no important road which crossed the river Fellepp, but this river was difficult to defend for long against an invader determined to cross it, as were the Helvrans and other armies in the Family Wars.

ATLANTIDIEH

The Atlantid City States were early on conquered by Atlantis and became almost an extension of the Atlantean heartland, and this was only encouraged by the geography of the region. As further west, the very flat Atlantis countryside between the Rollepp and the Great Lakes was protected by the Decanda Runix hills to the north and the Meilox Mountains to the south. Of course the Lakes Oncia and Chalcris formed an almost impenetrable barrier to the east and indeed really divided the whole Atlantean Empire between the seas in the west and the river Gestes in the east into two separate halves. There were two narrow area of access around the hills and mountains to north and south, which I have just mentioned - a 25 mile gap down the western side of Lake Chalcris from the Taigeheill woods, but with the strong fortress of Encetes to block it; and the flatter area, intercut by the rivers Cresslepp, Gonril and Dodolla between the Meilox Mountains and the river Dodolla. This too was blocked in later history by Cennatlantis and the hilly area to its west about Failrunn.

The centre of the Atlantid area tended to be quickly crossed by armies during most wars, as there were few good defensive positions. Battles tended to congregate around rivers or towns nearby, e.g. Ancahouth in 361, which gave Atlaniphon I the throne, and again, with Tilrase, in 633 as Ruthopheax fought State "E". Similarly the approaches to and from Cennatlantis from the west were heavily fought over by Ruthopheax I, against the Tyrants and in the Final Wars, and the Encetes area saw fierce fighting in the Final Wars. There was a passage in and out of Atlantidieh between the two Great Lakes, but this was only a few miles wide and was completely blocked by the fortress of Gasirotto. This withstood sieges and assaults from the time of the Chalcran Wars onwards, and particularly during the Great Continental War and the Final Wars.

HELVRIEH

Helvrieh, the area of the old Helvran Empire north of the Helvengio, which was conquered by Atlantis in the wars ending in 267, was very well defended from attack from the north by the Daigorunix and the Meilox mountains. There were only a few passages through or past this barrier, which would allow an invader to penetrate south into Helvrieh or north from Helvrieh into Atlantis or Atlantidieh. In the west, by the sea, there was a reasonably wide and flat area with a road from the river Fellepp south via Nagguat into the area of Numidis and to Nosinge and then, if desired, eastwards on the north shore of the Helvengio. This was used particularly in the Helvran Wars. To the east, the two rivers Numeras and Gosten created narrow passes through the mountains. But these were blocked in all periods by fortresses - Ugholtis and Numercuat on the Numeras and Vailriun and Giesecuas on the Gesten. Further east still was the river Cresslepp, at the mouth of which lay the city of Helvris. This had a branch to the north, called the Gonril, which curled round the north of the eastern end of the Meilox mountains. The mountains here and the river restricted the approach to Cennatlantis and the main route into Chalcrieh across the Dodolla, as we have seen. Equally they made an approach to Helvris itself very difficult, except from the east. During the Helvran wars and in the revolt against the Tyrants, armies did try, with great difficulty, to attack up and down and across the Gonril. Thus it can be seen that Helvrieh was a particularly well-protected area: even an advance east or west along the edge of the Helvengio was difficult, owing to the many river-lines to be crossed. The Atlanteans found this during the Helvran Wars. Equally the Rabarrans found it almost impossible to force their way north through the mountains in the first half of the 880s.

THE EAST OF THE EMPIRE: THE CHALCRAN AREAS

The great city of Cennatlantis lay on the river Dodolla and along with Rundes protected the line against attacks from Chalcrieh to the east. There were officially two battles and two sieges of Cennatlantis, in the Great Civil War, the fighting between Imperialists and Republicans and the Great Continental War. Similarly there were three battles for Rundes at the same periods. The approach across the river Dodolla and into Chalcrieh, between Lakes Trannolla and Oncia was also difficult for armies. Hills formed the first barrier to the east, either side of Snattarona. This could act as a defence against an invader from the east, as in the Great Continental War against the Basquecs, or in the rebellion of 524-6, or as a defence against an invader, usually Atlantis, from the west. Examples are the early attempts by the Atlanteans to conquer the Chalcrans in the First Empire and the defence by the Imperialists against the Republicans after the 590s. There were more hills further east around Rontisso, the Babemme woods to the north, and finally, another 60 or 70 miles eastward, the line of the river Burastoura. This often proved a good defence for the Atlanteans, especially at the crossing-point towns of Yellis and Giestisso. To the north, the terrain got hillier and hillier, and large barriers appeared from east and west, the river Chakratoura to the west, and the Chalcran Forests to the east.

The chief defensive positions to the east were of course the Dravidos hills, and to the south, the Crolden Hills, crowned by the fortresses of Dravizzi and Atlandravizzi. From the earliest times, these were the final redoubts of the Chalcrans, and later Atlantis used them as its great defensive position against attack from the east (Ughans) or south-east (Basquecs, Rabarrans), once the first line of defence, formed by the rivers Gestes and Thyggis had been breached. There were three battles and sieges of Dravidos, four battles of Dravizzi, a siege and a battle of Atlandravizzi and two battles of the Crolden Hills, all taking place on these hills. These mostly took place in the Great Continental and Final wars, but also include the decisive battle at Dravizzi between Ruthoyon II and the Chalcrans in 335 and a major siege in the Third Ughan War in 537.

Very different was the area to the south of these hills and east of Lake Trannolla. This was Meistayieh, a very flat area, which was largely indefensible. The exception was to the west. There the river Cresslepp and the rivers Burtounna and Helvenslepp, surrounded by marshes and a hilly central position, protected the Cennatlantis area very well from attack from Meistayieh, or Helvris. This was seen frequently in the Great Continental War, where the Basquecs were unable to force their way through.

THE LINE OF THE RIVER GESTES

The Gestes represented the most enduring line of defence for the Atlantean Empire against its enemies - if this were crossed, them the Crolden Hills was usually the position to which their armies fell back. Some fifty miles and more to the east of the river lay a long range of hills and forests, and if the Atlanteans tried to lay claim to land east of the river, these hills usually represented the farthest point that they could penetrate to the east, as the Ughans usually used them as their main defence. There were passes in them up the tributary rivers and there was sometimes fighting here, for example the siege of Bradghus in 721-2. The River Gestes was protected by a series of Atlantean fortresses along its length, at intervals of about 50-70 miles, and there were many occasions when these were besieged by enemies, usually Ughans. The river Merros, a tributary of the Gestes in the north, was another defence for the Atlanteans against barbarian invaders. Equally in the south of Meistayieh, the lower Gestes and the Vulcan were vital as representing the first place that armies could pass north or south on land round the end of the Helvengio.

THE NORTHERN FRONTIERS

Mountains and forests stretched along the Empire's northern frontier from the Gestes and Merros in the east almost to the sea in the west. North Chalcrieh was filled with forests on hilly lands, but there was then a small gap to the west between there and Lake Chalcris and the river Chakratoura. Access to the far north was defended by the fortress of Keltanipand and to the west by Runnates and Buresso on the Chakratoura. North of Keltanipand lay the great mountains of Doradil, Dorkor and Dachdol. Access east and west round the north of Lake Chalcris had therefore to involve crossing the Chakratoura. Some miles the west of this lay the Taigeheill forests and the Gedandolix hills to the north-west. The fort of Encetes protected the route south down to the west of the Lake. These were vital important routes in the Great Continental and Final Wars.

Somewhat to the south-west were the Decanda Runix hills, which along with the river Noilafa tended to cut off the Marossan lands to the north from Atlantis to the south. However, the sea-coast in the extreme west was flat, and only a series of river-lines - Noilafa, Sulophaio, Ereipha and Sulapha - would slow down the advance of an army from the south or north, as well as large towns on the coast. Mountains lay some 50-60 miles inland, the Netaka mountains, but east of these there lay another bowl of lower land between the Decanda Runix in the south, the Gedandolix in the east and the river Ruphaio in the north. North of the Ruphaio, the Phonerian peninsula jutted out to the south-west, but it was almost impregnable by land. The Opheril Mountains stretched across it at its junction with the mainland, only some 20 miles at the narrowest, and there are very few examples of any armies forcing their way across these mountains in the face of any reasonable defence. The island of Phonaria was equally impregnable unless attacked from the sea.

SOUTH OF THE HELVENGIO

The southern part of the Atlantean Empire was on the whole only accessible from the northern part across the Helvengio; the exception was the extreme eastern part leading to Iutieh, Yall. Thiss., Razira, etc. , and even here the rivers Gestes and Vulcan very definitely separated the two areas. Amphibious invasions were thus the only way to cross from north to south and vice versa in the west. The island of Helvremon could act as a sort of half-way stage for such invasions.

Amphibious invasions were not uncommon in history, but of course required that the invading army had full control of the seas. There was much tussling for naval supremacy in the Atlantis-Helvris wars, the Great Continental Wars and the Final Wars. During the former Atlantis succeeded in invading the south, but Helvremon island was very fiercely contended for, by land and sea. Contrariwise she prevented Basquec landings in the 740s. In the Final Wars, Rabarrieh gained control of the sea and invaded Helvrieh. There were many other crossings by rebels and pretenders to the throne in the fourth century and the time of the Imperialist Pretenders in the 600s. To the east crossings via the Gestes and Vulcan were much more common, though landings from and to Iutieh were very difficult and unusual, due to the mountainous terrain - the attempt by Ruthopheax in his was against State "A" was very nearly a failure. But crossings of the rivers to the east were undertaken in this war, the Great Continental War and the Final Wars. On the other hand the river line acted as a barrier against Basquecs during the chaos of the wars with the Republic and the rule of the Tyrants.

The westernmost part of the southern area became the Province of Th. Thiss. It was a hilly country, cleft by ravines and with fortified towns on hilltops. It could never be conquered quickly or easily by invaders, and both Atlantis in the third century and Rabarrieh in the eighth and ninth took many years to do so. East of this Province and south of Manralia lay the deserts of Aolduathu and Akunudda, hemmed in by the rivers Akulta and Gosal to west and east and the sea in the far south. There was little communication across this, though continual raids into Atlantean territory by the desert nomads. Only the Rabarrans succeeded in using it as a springboard for a successful conquest of Manralia and Th.Thiss in the 700s and 800s. These deserts and those further east (the Gesdraudho and the Kharaduathu) were divided by the north-south flowing river Gosal, which, between mountains on either side, formed the easiest way of moving from Siphiya in the far south right up to the south of Manralia, or, eastwards via the Itheerdi, to Razira. Atlantis had some colonies on the extreme southern flank of this area, in Siphiya and Ibixo, which were normally only supportable by sea.

Manralia was a flatter area but with a number of hill-ranges, chiefly Olgrunix to the north and Ephorill to the south-west. Easy conquest was usually hindered by the presence of fortified cities and ports on the coast, such as Noutens and Raihco, which could be supplied from the Helvengio. So in the Continental War, Basquec conquest of the Province by land from the south-east was limited by the defensive capabilities of these cities. Such access to Manralia was only feasible by sea in the north, and by land from the west and south-east. As far as access from the east is concerned, this involved crossing the Gairase river, and here this was only practical in a narrow area of about thirty miles south of the Helvengio and the Gairaseducco swamps and north of the desert area of Gesdraudho south of the river. Here Atlantis had the great fort of Atlaniphis and the attempts to besiege and capture this were of vital importance. There were three battles and a siege of the fortress all in the period of the Continental War.

East of Iutieh and south of the Gestes lay Yall. Thiss. Province. This was mostly flat but quite urbanised. The main lines of defence against attacks from north or south were the river Gayvot, which, with the sea on all other flanks, effectively made Iutieh an island; the hills of Avlotans to the east of this river; and the rivers Yallodairu and Gairase to the south. The east of the area was also bounded by the river Vulcan. South of the Yallodairu the region stretched on to the great mountain range of the Raziris, which for many years acted as a defence for Atlantis against invasion from the south. To the east of the Vulcan was the Province, and formerly independent state, of Vulcanieh. This was open to invasion from the south-east and east by nomadic tribes, but protected from Ughan attacks by the mountains.

South of the Raziris mountains lay another flat area as far as the Och Therult mountains, the northern border of Basquecieh. To the north rivers such as the Baccuel and the Gvondhat offered protection. To the south were the rivers Banta and Gedvox. To the west was the Gairase, which turned into the Gedvox. West of these was again the desert, though the river Itheerdi ran into the Gairase from the west and represented a communication link towards the river Gosal. These areas represented the furthest defences of Atlantis to the south and east.

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