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The Great War with the Helvrans (detailed account), 250 - 267

Crehei Ante Helvranix (Helvran War) [Atlantean].
Vulgenel Greux (War of the heroes) [Helvran]


A war between Atlantis and Helvris was almost inevitable at some stage, owing to the expansion of the Atlantean State and the gradual conflict of interests - economic, political and military - with the mature Helvran Empire. (I usually use the word "Helvris" when referring to the Helvran Empire in this account. Strictly this meant just the city of Helvris in the Atlantean and Helvran languages. Helvrieh was later used by Atlantis to be the name of the Province she created out of the former Helvran Empire, and it covered almost the same area. However I do not use the word, as it did not come into use until the Helvran Wars were finished. The Helvran words for their empire were "helvron giertizek". Similarly I use Atlantis rather than Atlantieh, although the latter was often used in later times both to refer to the province of Atlantis and to the Atlantean empire as a whole. But again this was the not the case at the time of the Helvran Wars, when the only way of talking about the Atlantean Empire, such as it then was, was "atlan cerieh".)

In the 230s and 240s, the Atlantid City States fell increasingly under Atlantean control, a province being set up in 244. Now a number of the southern City States (south of Gentis) were part of the Helvran Empire and these were also claimed by Atlantis. Equally the Helvrans were unwilling to see the area around Rundes attach itself to the new Province, as this would encroach closer to the river Cresslepp, which led in turn to the great city and imperial capital of Helvris itself. There were also continuing quarrels over the Atlantis-Helvris border to the west, especially to the south of the river Fellepp, as Helvris tended to regard this river as the definitive border between the two Empires.

Economically there was growing rivalry over trade. The Atlantean merchants wanted to trade directly with the Southern Coastal City States and to enter the Helvengio freely. But Helvris had long declared the Helvengio (called in Helvran, "Helvingir")  closed to all shipping except its own, and relations with the Coastal City States, like other parts of its Empire, were only permitted on Helvris' own strict and protective terms. Finally the growing size and strength of the Atlantean army and, more particularly, the navy, which had recently fought with the Phonerians with some success, alarmed the Helvran government.


Initially the size of the territory and population of the Helvran Empire was incomparably greater than Atlantis. There were some 10,000,000 people living in the Helvran Empire around 250, over 5,000,000 in the state of Helvris itself (helvresk in the Helvran language), which corresponded to the later Atlantean Province of Helvrieh, 2,000,000 in the Coastal City States (kodzairindaj), 2.000,000 in Manralia (manralsk) and under 1,000,000 Jutes (iutisk), who in any case contributed very little to the Empire. By contrast, he Province of Atlantis contained nearly 3,000,000 people and Atlantidieh about 1,500,000, thus 4,500,000 in all.

The Helvran Army, which was predominantly Helvran in composition, but also contained some Manralians and a few City State dwellers, numbered about 70000 in peacetime, but could be increased to 120,000 in wartime. In addition, there were Manralian and City State militias, of fairly modest value, and the Jutes were supposed to have up to 40,000 available for defence purposes only. This never materialised, as neither side carried out any operations on Jutish territory.

The Helvrans' main tactical unit was the phalanx, which consisted of heavy armoured infantry with pikes and swords. Their armies were composed very largely of this infantry, with only small accompanying cavalry forces, which were partially armoured and wielded swords. There were also small units of light infantry, which skirmished in front of the slower-moving phalanxes with bow and arrows. There was also a certain amount of artillery, which was used for sieges.

As the war progressed, more infantry were armed with swords alone, more cavalry was raised and more light infantry hired. But the Helvrans never succeeded in matching the growing use of missile arms by the Atlanteans, once these had realised that this was the best way of dealing with the heavy Helvran phalanxes which inflicted several defeats on them at the beginning of the wars.

The Atlanteans in peacetime had virtually no army, but in wartime, considerable numbers could be raised. Against the Phonerians, some 24,000 noble and 20,000 Imperial forces were mobilised, and these were never wholly disbanded thereafter. Similar sized forces were quickly raised again after 250, but then had to be increased vastly as the war progressed, to match the Helvrans and replace the Atlanteans' own losses in battle. More men were also raised from the Atlantid City States, and by 260 there were some 45,000 noble and 90.000 Imperial forces.

At the start of the Helvran Wars, the Atlanteans employed a number of large, rather unwieldy armies, often up to 20000 strong, each composed of many basic units of infantry (each about 1000 men), several ranks deep, of which about one-sixth were bowmen and the rest swordsmen. All these armies, whatever their exact sizes, were called "pueggisix" (armies). Later in the war these armies would be subdivided into "wings", about 5000 strong, which became largely independent themselves. They themselves adopted the name of "pueggisix" eventually. Cavalry were kept in separate units of about 500, roughly one per 5000 infantry. They used bows and later had some armour. As the 250s progressed, it became common for the average small unit to be about 800 strong in infantry, with some 400 cavalry attached. Light troops were increasingly used as the war went on. The main feature of the war, as regards Atlantean tactics, would be the growth in missile forces, first bow and arrow, later crossbows, to counter the Helvran reliance on pikes and swords.

At sea, the Helvrans had an unequalled navy of about 300 ships(250 fully seaworthy) in the Helvengio, based at Giezuat, and a smaller base south-east of Noehtens. The Atlanteans had built up a navy of some 150 ships during the Phonerian wars: these were individually stronger than the Helvran ships, but by 248 this number had fallen to 75. Over the next three or four years, Atlantis bulit up its fleets to over 200, (though all figures are approximate due to lack of detail in our sources.)


The Helvran Wars



The war began in late 250, when the Emperor Carel II (249 - 252) was on the Atlantean throne, and Ruideneks II (240-258) was the Helvran Emperor. This was after more than two years of diplomatic exchanges and demands by Atlantis for Helvris to give way on the trade and boundary controversies. After several earlier skirmishes, there were two more considerable battles at sea between escorted Atlantean trading ships off the Th. Thiss. Coast and the Helvran navy, leading to a number of Atlantean casualties. Thereafter an Atlantean army crossed the river Fellepp and invaded Helvran Numidis. This force of about 12000 men met a Helvran army early in 251 and was defeated by the Helvran phalanxes. It retreated back over the river. At the same time another Atlantean army of some 10000 men temporarily moved into the northernmost Helvran territory, north of the Meilox mountains.


During 251 there were a number of other minor actions, but it was not until later in the year that a Helvran army of 14000 made a serious advance into the territory north-east of their empire and occupied Rundes on the Dodolla. This region was semi-independent but friendly to Atlantis. At the same time 10000 Helvrans also occupied Lillouth , north of the Meilox mountains. Now both sides began to arm themselves more seriously. Helvris prepared an army of as many as 30000 men in Numidis, with the intention of invading the Province of Atlantis itself, making straight for the capital. Simultaneously another force of 18000 would occupy all the Rundes area and threaten Atlantidieh from the south-east. Other armies of some 15000 were placed in Th. Thiss. and Helvris province, with a reserve army in Numidis. The navy was made ready to join the attack in the west from the sea.

Atlantis, meanwhile, had by this time raised about 55000 men (noble and royal forces), as she had in the earlier war with the Phonerians - far fewer than the Helvrans. Of these, 10000 remained near Atlantis city, 23000 guarded the Fellepp, 10000 were in Atlantidieh, and the rest went to the Lillouth-Lillerunix area. The navy, after further skirmishes off Th. Thiss. in 251, remained near the capital. The Atlanteans evidently envisioned another invasion of Numidis, and at the same time planned to increase their total forces to 65000. In general, it is clear that Atlantis had, in 250, expected a short limited war, somewhat like their (rather erroneous) memory of the Phonerian War, which would result in the Helvrans' giving in to their moderate demands. Despite the local defeats of 250-251, Atlantis remained complacent about 252.


This year the Helvrans crossed the Fellepp, outmanoeuvering and partly defeating the Atlanteans. For the first time the Emperor, Carel II, joined his army. He helped to rally it, and it stood on the defensive for the Battle of Cennis in August.

The Atlanteans, led by the Emperor, had an army of 20500 infantry, nearly all swordsmen, with a few bowmen, and 2500 cavalry. The Helvrans had 23500 heavy infantry, in phalanx formation, and 4500 cavalry. During the battle, the disciplined Helvran phalanx smashed the nobles on the Atlantean left, while the Helvran cavalry on this flank also beat its smaller opponents. These victorious forces then swung round against the flank of the Atlantean centre. On the Atlantean right, their cavalry beat the Helvran horsemen, but chased them right off the field. The result was that the Atlanteans were utterly defeated, losing 10000 men, including the Emperor himself. It is possible that a direct advance now on the city of Atlantis would have won the war for the Helvrans, but instead they lingered near Cennis and spent time occupying other towns of importance, such as the port of Celinge. In the east they occupied the whole of the neutral Rundes area, throwing back an attempt by the Atlanteans to retake it. At sea, the Helvran fleet, unlike the army, advanced as far as Atlantis and briefly blockaded the city, inflicting a minor but demoralising defeat on the Atlantean navy.

Battle of Cennis

The Battle of Cennis



Under the new Emperor, Carel III, the Atlanteans reorganised and recruited frenetically, and by the time the Helvran army slowly advanced on the capital, Atlantis could defend itself on the Algrunix, some miles south of the city, with an army of 22000 men. At the same time the citizens of Atlantis and another 15000 troops defended the city against attack from east or west (by sea). The Helvrans had an army of about 33000, but failed in their attempt to storm the strong Atlantean position on the hills of the Algrunix. They now retired, and by the winter had recrossed the Fellepp. At sea an Atlantean naval force advanced to the mouth of the Helvengio and there defeated a Helvran fleet.


Atlantis now tried to make Helvris agree to a peace treaty, but the Helvrans had plenty of resources left and refused. On the river Fellepp there were various manoeuverings and at one point the Helvrans, crossing the river, nearly surrounded an Atlantean force, which narrowly escaped northwards. Atlantis put its main effort, and an army of 16000 men, into the Lillouth front. It took that town and advanced to the strong Helvran fortress of Trelkod, later renamed Ugholtis by the Atlanteans, which it put under siege. But to the east, the Helvrans near Rundes aimed to take over and neutralise the whole of Atlantidieh, and moved on as far as Gentes on the river Rollepp.


For the new year, Atlantis threw all its resources into the siege of Trelkod. An army of 27000 took up the siege. Only 18000 were left in the west, on the Fellepp, with 14000 defending what was left of North Atlantidieh and some 15-20000 elsewhere: this made a total of 70-75000 men under arms in total, at this stage. Helvris had 110000 men active altogether: 25000 in Atlantidieh, 17000 around and in Trelkod, 28000 in Numidis, south of the Fellepp, 18000 elsewhere in the Helvris area, and nearly 30000 south of the Helvengio, defending the Empire, all apart from additional militia and local troops.

The siege of Trelkod went badly for Atlantis at first, and then. Later, disastrously, when the Helvran army from Numidis moved north-east north of the Daigorunix mountains, and descending on the enemy besiegers from the rear, inflicted a serious defeat on the Atlanteans. Many of the defeated troops were killed or captured, and the remainder escaped to Lillouth. On the other hand an Atlantean naval force occupied the Zueltix Mandengix (Blue Isles) off the mouth of the Helvengio with little opposition. In the east, Helvran forces moved unhindered through S.W.Atlantidieh, occupying and plundering Tilrase and Yalgor, and overawing all Atlantean attempts to defend the area.


In the early part of the new year, the Helvrans now outflanked the Atlantean army at Lillouth with a combined force of 42000, and the Atlanteans retreated back north-west. Carel III now personally took command, and by a well thought-out manoeuvre joined this army at Yeldis with the one previously on the Fellepp, which had been marched back north, unknown to its weak opponents south of the river. The Helvrans subsequently attacked the Atlanteans at the Battle of Yeldis. The result was a draw, but the Atlanteans at any rate stood their ground and the Helvrans suffered heavy casualties. They withdrew back to Lillouth. In the east, the Atlanteans managed to retake Gentes after a full-scale siege.

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The Helvran Wars, northern sector



256 sees the end of what we may call the first part, or indeed quarter, of the war. This had seen Atlantis continuously on the defensive. Hereafter there will be no more Helvran invasions of Atlantean territory. In the second phase, lasting till 260, Atlantis now took the initiative. This was made possible by some important changes now made to the Atlantean armies. The officer ranks were increasingly opened to non-noble professionals; long-term military service was introduced; conscription was applied more and more widely; and the noble armies, being less professional and disciplined than the royal forces, became of less and less significance numerically: they tended to be put on quiet fronts or to hold conquered territory. Armies were in future more often divided into parts, or wings, for ease of handling; light troops became more common; more cavalry was used; and artillery came to the fore in the growing number of sieges undertaken on Helvran territory. After about 260 we first hear of crossbowmen in use, instead of bowmen. The navy too was much enlarged. Gradually Atlantean tactics of firepower and smaller and flexible army units overwhelmed the stiff Helvran pike formations, and bigger and better Atlantean ships outfought the smaller Helvran types.

helvwars(part2).JPG (117418 bytes)

The Helvran Wars, southern sector


On the Lillouth front, for the next few years, the two armies faced each other, manoeuvred but fought no serious battle, as the real action moved elsewhere. By 259 the Helvran army here had moved back to Trelkod, and each side gradually reduced its forces. The main action this year was the movement of a large Helvran fleet to the Zuettix Mandengix isles, where it encountered the Atlantean fleet, and was defeated. Thereafter the Helvran navy never again sortied out of the Helvengio.


The Zuettix Mandengix now became a permanent Atlantean naval base. In the east, the Atlantean reconquest of south Atlantidieh continued steadily. In the centre, Lillouth withstood Atlantean assault. In the west some 18000 Atlanteans took part in an amphibious landing north of Nosinge, which linked up with the army on the Fellepp west of the Daigorunix. The Helvrans retreated to the east of Numidis.


By the end of this year, the whole of the Rundes area had been retaken by an Atlantean army of about 36000 men. The Atlantean forces in Numidis were increased by land and sea to over 45000, of which 25000 were then moved amphibiously to Miolrel and the west City States - south of the Helvengio. Later in the year the Atlantean forces in Numidis, weakened as they now were, beat off a strong Helvran attack from the east.

It is clear that Atlantis had now conceived her strategy for crushing Helvris completely in the long term, although it was not till after Carel III's death that it is certain that Atlantis had decided to annex the whole enemy empire. From their base in the Zueltix Mandengix the Atlanteans heard of and began to encourage rumours of rebellion in the south-western parts of the Helvran Empire, in the City States. They planned by the invasion at Miolrel to detach this whole province from the enemy.




Lillouth was at last retaken. In the south many City States did rebel and join Atlantis, and rebellions also began in Manralia, which was in any case, by long tradition, a partially independent kingdom under Helvris. The Helvrans were now having to stretch their forces rather thinly all round their empire, their total army never topping 130000. Their local militias seem to have been of little value. Then the Atlanteans' progress faltered. The main Helvran naval base was at Giezuat on Helvremon, the island in the middle of the Helvengio. The Atlantean navy was observing it from the west. Suddenly the Helvrans sortied and in the great first battle of Giezuat, they completely defeated the unprepared Atlanteans.


If 260 saw the progress of the Atlanteans begin to falter, 261 saw them faced with a series of disasters. They had already lost control of the western part of the Helvengio as the result of the battle of Giezuat. Meanwhile in Numidis, an Atlantean army of about 40000 men advanced on Cennetis (known at this time by its Helvran name of Preksidband) in September, across the river Numeras. There followed for the Atlanteans the disastrous defeat of the battle of Cennetis, as the Helvrans suddenly attacked them as they were in the middle of crossing the river.

The Helvran army was waiting on the far side of the river, partly concealed by rough ground and misty weather. In fact the Atlanteans believed them to be further south. They had about 32000 men, 23000 of which were the heavy infantry phalanxes, plus 4500 light infantry and 4500 cavalry with a few units of artillery. The Atlanteans had altogether 40000 men, of which 22000 had crossed the river as the enemy attacked. Most of these were infantry with about 2700 cavalry and 1500 light troops. The infantry consisted of some 14000 swordsmen and 4000 bowmen, of which just over 1000 were crossbowmen. Any artillery was out of range. In the battle, the Helvrans surprised these troops before they were properly deployed. The usual effect of the missile troops was thus neutralised, and the Helvrans were able to charge down from the hills in a fairly uncoordinated way. The Atlanteans were almost routed and lost 19000 men, 9000 being captured and many drowned. The Helvrans lost only 4500. The most serious event was the capture of the Emperor, Carel III, himself. He had been injured and died three months later as a result of both injuries and mistreatment.

Before Cao-Mel´on, Carel's appointed successor could succeed to the throne, there were various attempts by other pretenders to seize power in the period during which the fate of Carel in captivity remained uncertain. The main groups of rebels were a number of Class 1 noblemen, who had small armies fighting in the war, and a cousin of Cao-Mel´on called Cencon who was in Atlantis city. Cao-Mel´on himself was temporarily cut off from all this near Raihco where he had recently landed with the Atlantean amphibious force from Miolrel. Cencon quickly took over Atlantis city and declared himself Emperor, with the support of a small noble army nearby. He entered into negotiations with the rebel nobles, who finally agreed to support him- for the time being. These rebels really wanted to return Atlantis to the previous century - to abolish the position of Emperor and parcel the Empire up between themselves. Hitherto, however, they had achieved little except to manoeuvre mistrustfully around Atlantid´eh.

In late October Cao-Mel´on crossed back to Miolrel and advanced on Atlantis. Cencon made desperate but unsuccessful calls to other army units to support him, and even the rebel nobles in Atlantid´eh now decided it was safer to sit on the fence until they saw the result of the power struggle. Cao-Mel´on gathered an army of 18000 men and support from nearly all the army commanders. In a couple of skirmishes near Atlantis, Cencon's army melted away, and Cencon himself was captured and later exiled.

The noble conspiracy now collapsed as the two leading noblemen treacherously turned against their co-conspirators, and offered Cao-Mel´on their support. In a series of small fights the rebels were all killed or executed after capture by their erstwhile fellow conspirators, who were now determined to show their loyalty to Cao-Mel´on. In this way these turncoat nobles at least succeeded in ensuring that no further action would be taken against noble armies by the Emperors for another 100 years.

The only bright news for Atlantis came right at the end of the year in the Helvengio. In November another fleet ventured in and stood off Giezuat, to protect the amphibious movement of 8000 men from Miolrel to near Raihco, which fell within a few weeks. This was a daring move, as the Helvran navy was still superior and yet stayed in port. Meanwhile in the east, during the past two years, two Atlantean armies, each about 17000 strong, moved to the edge of the Meilox mountains.


Atlantean swordsman, 260


The third and conclusive phase of the war now began. The Atlanteans shrugged off the defeats of the previous few years and under the new Emperor, they went for broke. They aimed to detach the provinces of the West City States and Manralia from Helvris and blockade and capture Giezuat, while maintaining pressure on the Helvrans from Numidis, the Meilox Mountains and the approach to the capital down the Cresslepp in the east. This involved over 130000 men by 263 (roughly 15000 in Numidis, 25000 in the east, 40000 in the south, 30000 in the Meilox Mountains and about 30000 around Trelkod.) By the end of the war this total had reached 170000. Atlantis clearly hoped that the capture of the capital city, Giezuat, would end the war because the Helvrans would sue for peace, but the old capital had been Helvris. The government moved back here from Giezuat in 261 and hence Helvris too had ultimately to be captured to end the war.

To achieve his goals, Cao-Melian oversaw further military reorganisation. This resulted in the appointment of permanent army commanders for the various fronts, each of whose forces were named after the commander. The name of Pueggis was now allotted to smaller forces of about 5000, formally the temporary "wings", and these were named and recruited from particular regions. The proportion of bowmen (and crossbowmen now) increased vis-Ó-vis swordsmen, leading to more devastating victories over the enemy. In 262 the main army, accompanied by the Emperor, moved to besiege Trelkod. In the east, meanwhile, the army from E. Atlantidieh prepared to march south across the Cresslepp to threaten Helvris from the east. On the island of Helvremon, the Atlantean navy moved back to blockade Giezuat, while tow other armies moved into and across Manralia and W. City States. In Manralia they met little opposition, but in the City States they had to face strong counter-attacks by Helvran and local forces until 263. On the Helvran side some reinforcements were passed to Helvremon, as the government moved off to Helvris. A sortie by the Helvran navy covered these movements and broke the blockade, although the action with the Atlanteans was no better than a draw.


In the Helvengio the Atlanteans made no immediate attempt to renew their sea blockade of Giezuat, and concentrated near their new base north-west of Pruoddos on the south coast. In the City States Atlantis defeated and accepted the surrender of the final Helvran force, but a number of cities had declared themselves independent and refused to admit or ally with Atlantean troops. The siege of Trelkod absorbed armies of up to 50000 on each side, and the Helvrans defended the fortress and the nearby mountains tenaciously all year. In the east a major Helvran army of 25000 men set out from Helvris to force the Atlanteans back over the Cresslepp (called "Greuzlepp" in Helvran, meaning "war-river"). They were however defeated in a battle north of Noccsat. Finally a small Atlantean force made the difficult crossing of the Meilox Mountains to threaten the Helvrans from the north-west. However it could not cross the river and moved up the western side to link up with the main Atlantean army north of Noccsat.


This year saw a great deal of action on all fronts. Trelkond, almost starving, was finally stormed under Cao-Melion's eyes and sacked with great slaughter. Later this army advanced on Numercuat, but came up against another Helvran army in a string position outside the fortress. Attacks failed to dislodge the Helvrans. South of the Helvengio, the Atlanteans, having now cleared the southern parts of Helvris' empire, planned to occupy the whole of Helvremon island, in the hope that this would induce the enemy to surrender. The navy again blockaded the pert of Giezuat after an indecisive sea-battle, the second battle of Giezuat - most of the Helvran navy now transferred to Noehtens. This did clear the way for an amphibious invasion by about 15000 men of the eastern end of the island, moving off from Raihco. Then in November a reinforced Helvran navy returned to the fight and defeated the Atlantean fleet in the third battle of Giezuat. The Atlantean navy retreated to Raihco. This was in fact the last remaining sizeable Helvran navy, whereas the Atlanteans had double the number of ships available, scattered around the Helvengio, on the open sea and at Atlantis.

On land, the Helvrans now had no important forces in the south. They had about 20000 men in Giezuat, up to 20000 more at Numercuat, 15000 about Cennetis, 23000 in and around Helvris and perhaps 15000 elsewhere - 90 - 100000 in all. Against this the Atlanteans had some 18000 in Numidis, 45000 north of Numercuat, 33000 in the north-east and east, 17000 on Helvremon, over 35000 in the City States and Manralia and perhaps 20000 in Atlantis and Atlantidieh Provinces - about 170000 altogether.


The Helvengio remained under Helvran control throughout this year, leaving the Atlantean army on Helremon isolated. This was largely due to the short war which broke out unexpectedly with the Phonerians, and which involved considerable support from the navy. The Phonerians had taken this opportunity to seek revenge for their earlier defeat, and struck out independently from the Marossan Empire, of which they were nominally a part. In this brief war, half the Atlantean navy had to speed north, and there followed a few inconclusive naval battles. By 266, the Marossans had reasserted their control over the Phonerians, and the war stuttered to a halt. In any case the Atlantean forces on Helvremon were not seriously threatened by the Helvran garrison of Giezuat, nor did the Helvrans land any other sizeable number of troops on the island. The Atlanteans were therefore able to take control of most of the island. Elsewhere Numercuat was besieged, relieved once and rebesieged. Another Atlantean army crossed the river Numeras from Numidis, for the first time since the defeat in 261, and took the town of Cennetis. In the east the two Atlantean armies drew closer to Helvris itself.


Accompanied by the Emperor, a mighty Atlantean fleet moved out and defeated the Helvran navy in a final decisive battle, gaining complete control at last of the Helvengio. Further Atlantean forces were landed on the Helvremon and Cao-Melion himself witnessed the surrender of the Helvrans in Giezuat a little later on. The city of Helvris itself, well fortified, was now besieged. Numercuat was assaulted from north and south by two Atlantean armies and captured.


By the start of the new year, the Helvrans were almost finished. They had left only some 10000 men south of Numercuat, 19000 in Helvris itself and perhaps 14000 scattered about elsewhere. Nevertheless the leaders of Helvris decided to fight on to the bitter end, although to the west their troops were gradually surrendering. Helvris city itself had to be stormed by the Atlanteans with the loss of over 18000 Helvran lives, many of them civilian. The leaders still left alive were captured, the empire now fell apart and Atlantis was able to dictate peace-terms.

A modern reconstruction of the fall and destruction of Helvris, based on a surviving drawing of the 570s

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The Helvran Wars, southern sector


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