THE FIFTH EMPIRE:
THE EARLY AND MIDDLE FINAL WARS
865 – 882
3. The dusk of Empire and the Early and Middle Final Wars, 865 – 882: the reigns of Gaistuyex (865 – 880) and Gaiduiccon (865 – 883).
1. "Past into Future" ("Buaimaxan silin Yoyan") and "Past and Present" ("Buaimaxan e Ianette") – Atlantis’ internal quarrels on the edge of the precipice, 865 – 870.
THE FAMILY BACKGROUNDS OF THE YOUNG EMPERORS.
The opposing characters of Gaistuyex and Gaiduiccon emerge very clearly from their family backgrounds. Gaistuyex, 27 years old in 865, had married five years earlier. The marriage had been arranged by his father for reasons of state, and involved the daughter of his closest Adviser. There seems to have been little love involved in it. His wife duly provided Gaistuyex with two sons and two daughters by 872, and then was "put away" on an estate and only rarely received visits by her husband. In 875 rumours began that she had a lover and when this was substantiated, at least to Gaistuyex’s satisfaction, he brought her to trial, and in the full glare of publicity, she and her lover were found guilty of adultery. This had not been a crime, as such, in Atlantis for over a century, but recently Gaistuyex’s conservative regime had imposed strict punishments for moral misdemeanours. He now exacted exemplary punishment on the two lovers, under the pretext that the adultery involved the Imperial Family. The lover was executed, and the wife banished to Skallandieh, from where she later fled to Phonaria. (After Gaistuyex’s death in 880, Gaiduiccon invited her back, but she had become ill, and died in exile in 881.) Gaistuyex spent his remaining years at the front until his death. Rumours later circulated after 880 that he had had secret mistresses, but Gaiduiccon deprecated them, and their truth remains unproved.
The young Gaiduiccon - a bust from 865
Gaiduiccon made no such pretence of being a paragon of all the virtues in his private life. He was 29 in 865, and had not married, but was notorious for his many love-affairs and frequent changes of mistress, a reflection of the free morals of the circles in which he moved – liberal politicians, artists and writers. He was persuaded by his advisers and by Gaistuyex himself to get married, once he became joint Emperor. He could not make up his mind whom to marry for some years, until in 869 he met someone he truly loved. In the 870s, as his power was taken away from him, he devoted himself more and more to home life, and abandoned many of his earlier bohemian ways – he even took up Natural Theistic Morality at this time, in place of his earlier avowed atheism.
His wife had two children, a boy in 874 and a girl in 877 (who died young in 880). She was of mixed Chalcran and Ughan background, which made her unpopular with the conservatives. When her home area was overrun by the Ughans in 880, her parents and daughter were caught and killed, while other members of her family were taken prisoner. She became a focus for demands for a truce or peace from the Ughans to Gaiduiccon. She went on an unofficial mission to Ughrieh in 881, and was kept hostage there. In 882, Gaiduiccon did agree to a truce – many said, in order to free his wife. She then rejoined him, but in 883 he was overthrown as Emperor by Crehonerex IV. He and his wife were allowed to retire to private life in SW Atlantis, near Celinge, on the coast, despite demands by conservatives that he should be put on trial. But others realised he knew too much for this about the opinions, conduct and morals of many leading conservative politicians for this to be risked. When war began again in 884, Gaiduiccon threatened to speak up again. Within a month he and his wife were killed in a massive explosion and fire in their villa, almost certainly the work of frightened Atlantean enemies, but blamed on a seaborne raid by Rabarran forces. Gaiduiccon’s son, now 10, was looked after by one of his sisters, on the Government’s instructions.
POLITICAL TENSIONS – COUP AND COUNTER-COUP.
Internally, a degree of reform and a loosening of authoritarianism took place. The liberals, led by Gaiduiccon, and based on the "Past into Future" movement, ("Buaimaxan silin Yoyan" in classical Atlantean, which is how it was often written) sought peace abroad, more industrialisation at home, as well as social and moral liberalisation. Gaiduiccon, who had personal control over home affairs, tried, with some success, to push forward political, social and moral liberalisation, but he was opposed by his brother, Gaistuyex, who was the figurehead for the conservatives and supporters of his father. This group formed a party parallel to the "Past into Future, which was called "Past and Present", ("Buaimaxan e Ianette") which wanted to keep things exactly as they were. There was also a more moderate group in the Council, which wanted to loosen the current authoritarian political structure, while retaining the traditional moral controls which had been a feature of the Fifth Empire hitherto. Gaistuyex became increasingly annoyed at the growing success of his brother and the support for him amongst a majority of the Council.
This reached a head in 868, when the Council voted for Gaiduiccon to become sole Emperor, as well as for more control over local government. Gaistuyex refused to agree to this, but the Council in turn rejected his refusal. This led to stalemate, as Gaiduiccon also had no intention of giving in to his brother. The elements of the State were now disastrously divided between the two extremes. Gaiduiccon had the support of much of the Council, other members of the Imperial Family, and the liberals of the "Past into Future" movement. Gaistuyex was backed by the Army and some Provincial Governors, as well as the conservative "Past and Present" movement in the country at large. The religious establishment largely, though rather reluctantly, lined up behind the conservatives, because they generally supported or gave lip-service to the tenets of Natural Theistic Morality. The moderate centre was reduced to impotence. Gaistuyex thus had the most effective backers, and called a State of Emergency, and put the Army on alert. Gaiduiccon appealed to the Army to stay neutral. There followed a period of cautious manoeuvring, but no actual bloodshed. The crisis was partly resolved by an upsurge of assassinations inspired by Rabarrieh including some Governors and members of the Imperial Family. This inspired demands for revenge from the Army and others who normally supported Gaistuyex, but also produced an urge for compromise, in order to deal more effectively with the potential threat from abroad. Gaistuyex made an agreement with his brother, by which he gave way to him on social affairs and politics, but retained control of the Army, foreign affairs, and kept an overall veto.
For the next couple of years, the two parties worked separately. Gaiduiccon replaced many Governors, while Gaistuyex built up the Army and purged its commanders, preparing for a war with Rabarrieh, which to him at least, seemed inevitable. Gaistuyex agreed to some of Gaiduiccon’s reforms, but vetoed others. By 870, he was using his veto regularly, and the Council, now dominated by liberals, demanded the right to "out-veto the veto". It was really demanding full executive power for itself, with the support of one Emperor only, Gaiduiccon. Gaistuyex saw the real possibility looming that he would soon lose all power. At the same time, he was desperate to prepare the Empire for war with Rabarrieh, and had already planned an advance strike against Rabarrieh, to force war, and thereby unite the country behind himself. However, he was beaten to it by Rabarrieh itself, which had its eyes on seizing the last remaining bastion of Atlantis on the Southern Continent, Miolrel. The king of Rabarrieh, Athulco Alibixo, thought that the Atlanteans must at this moment be concerned solely with the internal struggles between the two Emperors, and would be unable and unwilling to offer much resistance to a Rabarran take-over of Miolrel. In fact, this event stirred Gaistuyex to action. He decided to carry out a counter-coup against his brother and the Council, claiming dire necessity and the need for the Empire to unite under one leader, himself, against the Rabarran threat. In July, he occupied the Council Chamber with troops, imprisoned Gaiduiccon, set up military rule, and arrested many liberals, including Councillors. There was some scattered resistance on the streets, but the Army dealt ruthlessly with this. Immediately afterwards, war was declared on Rabarrieh, and Gaistuyex seized the opportunity to imprison, torture or execute many more Councillors, and replace all Provincial Governors who supported the liberals.
Essentially now, Gaistuyex and the conservatives had triumphed for good, with the backing of the Army and almost permanent war abroad. The religious establishment was initially behind him too, but many had qualms about his ruthlessness and willingness to torture and murder, and this later led to a falling-out between them. In fact, Gaistuyex paid only lip-service to Religion, and after 876, it was Gaiduiccon who converted whole-heartedly to the faith. Gaiduiccon was in fact released from imprisonment in 872, shorn of nearly all his powers, and he agreed to concentrate on helping to create a "militarised" economy at home, while Gaistuyex fought the war and effectively controlled the Empire. Gaiduiccon did not disavow his liberal views, and in the war truces of 873-5 and 882, briefly gained more influence. However, there was no freedom any more to express liberal views in public, which were against the Government. Most people now reverted to the quietism on the 840s and 850s, overwhelmed as they were by the growing disasters of the war.
2. The Early Final Wars: Dittuix Crehix Scatissix: 870 – 875
THE SHAPE OF THE EARLY FINAL WARS AS A WHOLE
After 870, Atlantis was to be almost permanently at war with one or more of her neighbours until her final overthrow in 889. These Wars are traditionally divided into two halves – the Early Final Wars, until 882, and the Later Final Wars from 884 to the end of Atlantis. These Wars are punctuated by two truces, which in fact seem only to have made the antagonists prepare themselves for even larger scale fighting. The first part of the early Wars lasted from 870 till 873. The combatants were Atlantis and the Far Southern Continent on the one side, and Rabarrieh on the other. The war began when the Rabarrans tried to take over the sole remaining Atlantean city south of the Helvengio, Miolrel. Neither side mobilised very fully, and the war consisted of a series of disconnected and relatively small-scale attacks by each side. A truce was agreed in 873, which suited both sides, and enabled them to seek additional allies and to mobilise much greater armies for the inevitable resumption of the conflict. Rabarrieh managed to persuade the Far Southern Continent to agree to a cease-fire in 874, and then make complete peace. She also induced Skallandieh to try to regain the lands lost in the Great Northern War by attacking the Quendelien forces on the Marossan border, though not for a few months after war had resumed with Atlantis. On the other side, Atlantis got Quendelieh to agree to actively defend the frontier against a possible attack by Skallandieh in the north, a much firmer defensive alliance than had ever existed between the two Empires in the past. However, Ughrieh insisted on maintaining neutrality. This second phase of the Early Final Wars lasted till 882. For the first couple of years, Atlantis and Rabarrieh fought with huge armies to and fro across hundreds of miles on both sides of the Gestes. Then other countries began to join in, all on Rabarrieh’s side. Firstly, Skallandieh, who was fended off by Quendelieh, then in 878, Ughrieh. The same year, Quendelieh gradually withdrew from the fray, leaving Atlantis to face the armies of the Skallands. However, in 880, the Far Southern Continent joined in on Atlantis’ side, against the Rabarrans.
As a result of the mounting opposition to Atlantis, her forces were gradually forced further and further back into her Empire after 878. Finally in 882, the (now solitary) Atlantean Emperor, Gaiduiccon, agreed a truce with all his enemies. This is the end of the Early Final Wars: the Later Final Wars began in 884 under his belligerent successor, Crehonerex IV, with a massive Atlantean offensive, and then, after 886, the final enemy counter-attack, which led to the utter defeat of Atlantis within two years.
THE ARMIES AND PLANS OF THE COMBATANTS AND THEIR WAR AIMS.
The war began with both sides armed very similarly, with no great changes in weaponry or tactics since the Great Northern War. Both sides possessed tanks, but these were little used in the first three years of war. Atlantis had a total fighting force of about 1600000 men, or sixty armies (FEGGISSIX), each roughly 25000 strong, (20 BORFEGGISSIX of 80-90000 men), plus separate units of tanks, artillery and cavalry, as well as reserve forces. However, these were of course spread all around the perimeter of the Empire, and in the initial Atlantean attacks, only small armies of 80000 or less were employed. Rabarrieh had also to defend against the Far Southern Continent, and had overall slightly fewer forces throughout her Empire. She also only used small armies in the attacks of 870-873.
Rabarrieh had become more actively expansionist and aggressive against Atlantis since the accession in 860 of a new king, Athulco Alibixo. He wanted to cause as much damage as possible to the Atlanteans, forcing them back north of the Helvengio, and then, with the aid of allies such as the Ughans, and then seizing all the territory he could north of that sea and the river Gestes. He began by making an agreement with the Ughans to hand over Borepande and the surrounding area, strategically placed athwart the river Gestes. He also tried, unsuccessfully, to make alliances with Ughrieh and Yciel Tuaince Mandagge. In the middle years of the decade, he was distracted by internal troubles, and hence missed the opportunity, as had been his original plan, of securing Miolrel at the moment when Gailonex died, and the Atlanteans were ruled by a new and inexperienced Emperor. However, the discord between the two new joint Emperors gave him another chance, which he seized in 870 by moving into Miolrel. Thereafter, Rabarrieh’s main aims were to hold Miolrel, the Blue Isles (at the mouth of the Helvengio) and Helvremon island, as well as conquering the Jutish peninsula. As we shall see, she succeeded in achieving only some of this, and then decided on a truce before resuming the war on a bigger scale. Then, as both sides’ armies, greatly increased in size, swept across vast swathes of each other’s territory, Rabarrieh aimed to eject the Atlanteans from Helvrieh and lands east of the Great Lakes. This only became feasible once other countries joined in the war against Atlantis, above all the Ughans. Thereafter, as the Skallands too started fighting Atlantean troops, Rabarrieh, and to a lesser extent, Ughrieh, extended their war aims to the complete destruction of Atlantean rule on the Great Continent.
Gaistuyex was aware from the time of his accession that Rabarrieh would certainly try to seize Miolrel in the near future. He realised that realistically it was indefensible as a small island of Atlantean property surrounded by and incorporating Rabarrans and other southerners. He did not expect it to defend itself for long against an enemy attack, but if this happened, he aimed to take it back by an amphibious invasion on the root of the Miolrel peninsula, taking it, ejecting all inhabitants, and turning it into a fortress to guard the entrance to the Helvengio. Atlantis would also send out an expedition, with her anticipated ally, Yciel Tuaince Mandagge, to occupy Siphiya and the local islands. Gaistuyex hoped thereby, in a subsequent peace, to retain at least some of the ground thus gained. He did not expect to be able to seriously reoccupy much of Rabarrieh’s, and formerly Atlantis’ territory, in the south, but neither did he expect Rabarrieh to try to take over much of Atlantis' lands north of the Helvengio. During and after the truce of 873-5, he, like the Rabarrans, realised he must plan on a much larger scale, with bigger armies and grander strategic objectives. He now aimed to utterly defeat the Rabarrans, and take back as much of the former Atlantean territories seized by them over the past 90 years, as he could. This plan soon proved to be unattainable, and after 878, as more and more Atlantean territory fell into enemy hands, his only aim was to defend and preserve as much of it as possible.
THE "PHONEY WAR" ALONG THE RIVER GESTES
As mentioned above, the fighting in the first two or three years of war was uncoordinated and indecisive on both sides. There was no conflict at all across the river Gestes, because of the anomalous nature of the border here. At the outlet of the river into the Gestes, Atlantis owned the Provinces both north (Meistayieh) and south (Iutieh) of the river. Then, as far east as Vulcanipand, the area south of the river was technically part of the Rabarran Military Border and hence could only contain a limited number of troops, by international convention. This would hardly have prevented the Rabarrans using it to invade Meistayieh, if they had wished to, and indeed the area was used as a base for invading westwards into Iutieh, but the Gestes was very wide to cross at this point, and the Rabarrans contented themselves with trying to take over Iutieh, the last Atlantean Province south of the Gestes or the Helvengio. The next stretch of the Gestes, up to near Borepande, was strictly an independent kingdom, and both sides found it convenient to keep their troops out of it, at this stage. The Rabarrans did not want to attract the Atlanteans across the river, thereby also threatening their territory around Borepande (see below), while the Atlanteans also considered the neutral country here provided their provinces north of the Gestes with some protection.
Matters were most complicated around Borepande. In 861 Rabarrieh had "bought" this fortress and some 5000 square miles of land on both sides of the Gestes from the Ughans, who had owned it ever since they wrested it from the Atlanteans during the rule of the Tyrant Brindor. This exchange of territory had been the result of a deal between Rabarrieh and Ughrieh, in which the Rabarrans had helped the Ughans crush an invasion by forces of several small kingdoms south of her territory and north-east of the Rabarrans’, north of the river Baccuel. At the same time, Rabarrieh obtained a rather vague agreement from the Ughans that they would join in a war against the Atlanteans on the side of Rabarrieh, if the Atlanteans captured. The great virtue of Borepande for Rabarrieh was that it gave her a foothold across the Gestes in the case of an all-out war against Atlantis. However, the territory was completely cut off from the rest of Rabarrieh, and Atlantis refused to allow any supply line to be traced through the neutral lands to the south of it, threatening immediate war if Rabarran troops crossed this territory. As a result, Rabarrieh had to make an agreement with the Ughans allowing supplies only to be traced, at certain pre-arranged times, through Ughan territory via Versciun and the Versciun and Thawril Passes. Troop movements were limited to once a year, with prior notice, with some increase possible in case of war, but again only by mutual agreement. So here again, Rabarrieh was anxious not to provoke the Atlanteans to conflict on this front, until she was ready to strike across the Gestes with overwhelming strength, via the neutral territory and using Borepande as a crossing-point. Equally the Ughans did not want to provoke the Atlanteans by allowing the Rabarrans to send many troops through their territories, nor did Atlantis want to seem to threaten her borders in any way. This delicate diplomatic game lasted until the truce of 873. So the fighting in this first part of the war was concentrated around the Helvengio and the Eriphicko to the south.
870 – 873: THE FALL OF MIOLREL, THE INVASION OF THE SIPHIYAN ISLANDS, THE ATTACK ON IUTIEH, AND THE BATTLES OF THE BLUE ISLES.
Miolrel, the last lonely outpost of the Atlanteans on the south side of the Helvengio, was already a seething hotbed of Rabarran sympathisers even before the war, and it fell to the invaders in August 870. Atlantis was able to evacuate the army and a large armada of terrified Yallands and Atlantean settlers flooded across the narrow channel of the Helvengio to the peninsula of Numidis. Atlantis immediately blockaded the main Rabarran ports in the Helvengio, Noehtens and Raihco. Meanwhile, before reinvading Rabarran territory on the south side of the Helvengio, she prepared a great naval invasion force to steam to the Siphiyan islands, linking up with reinforcements from Yciel Tuaince Mandagge. The main aim of this was the seize the great Rabarran naval base at Siphiya, which would provide some protection for Yciel Tuaince Mandagge, and threaten the communications of the Rabarran capital, now at Kharadis, down the river Gosal to the Eriphicko. The expedition had some initial success in 871 in that it landed on two of the Siphiyan islands, and later captured a third, but the Atlantean navy was unable to destroy the Rabarran fleet, although part of it was hemmed in Siphiya. By mid-871, 70000 men (three Atlantean Armies) plus 40000 allies were involved in this operation, which later involved a short-lived landing further along the coast from Siphiya.
Further north, Atlantean troops dug in along the Gestes and around Borepande, and crossed the river, strictly within Rabarran territory, to try to cut the Rabarrans off from the south. However, there was not sufficient room to manoeuvre, and the Rabarran defences eventually forced the Atlanteans back across the Gestes. Rabarrieh’s major offensive was across the Jutish border, as they wanted to conquer this final piece of Atlantean territory on "their" side of the Helvengio. The mountainous land was, however, ideal for defence, and the Rabarrans’ force of 130000 men found the invasion very hard going. By the time of the truce in 873, they had forced their way across the Avlotans hills, and got as far west as the river Gayvot. But they could penetrate no further against the 80000 defenders and the local inhabitants, led by General Rahpos, a Jute himself, who defended their kavotans hills to the west ferociously. (Ironically, the Rabarrans had thus seized the avlotans, which means "mighty hills" in Jutish, but been thrown back from the kavotans, which means only "great hills". In fact, the latter hills were higher and more rugged than the former, and were protected at the front by the river Gayvot, and all round the other sides by the sea).
Later in 871, the Atlanteans landed a strong force from the sea to the west of Miolrel, hoping to cut Miolrel itself off by seizing the base of the little peninsula on which it was placed. However, this was pinned down in its bridgehead by the Rabarrans, and hastily evacuated early in 872, as the Rabarran threat to the Blue Isles became much greater, in turn threatening the seaborne communications of the invasion force. By this time, the Rabarrans had regained command of the Siphiyan area, almost hemming the Atlanteans in on their islands. In March, the Atlanteans decided to cut their losses, especially as the Rabarrans were making increasingly successful raids on the Blue Isles, the main Atlantean naval base protecting the Helvengio. The troops were withdrawn, but the expedition suffered considerable losses on the way back north from minefields and raiding Rabarran fleets. It was quickly followed up a large Rabarran fleet, which had been waiting for just this opportunity. Its troops invaded the Blue Isles (Zueltix Mandengix) and in the Second Battle of the Zueltix Mandengix, the Rabarran navy crushed the remains of the Atlantean Siphiyan navy, which was moved south from Atlantis to challenge it. However, an immediate attempt by the Rabarrans to enter the Helvengio and seize control of that sea met disaster at the Naval Battle of Giezuat. In August of 872, the Atlanteans made another landing near Miolrel, this time to the east, but again they were unable to advance beyond a bridgehead.
THE TRUCE OF 873-875
By the start of 873, deadlock had been reached between the two sides. Rabarrieh had made some gains, in Iutieh and the Blue Isles, but could get no further with the her limited mobilisation of troops. Atlantis was in a worse state, having suffered severely in the Siphiyan expedition, and lost the Blue Isles and some of Iutieh. She had maintained control of the Helvengio, but with the Rabarran fleet holding the Blue Isles, she was unable to support the navy in the sea from outside. The Rabarrans now took the initiative and suggested a cease-fire, with both sides retaining what they had, pending a proper peace-treaty. Athulco Alibixo wanted to prepare much stronger forces to strike into Iutieh and take control of the Helvengio by seizing Helvremon. He would follow this up by an attack over the Gestes. He was not happy with the way his commander-in-chief, Qedif Alakultire, had conducted the war so far, and replaced him with the more aggressive Iltozamma Alatheinuqo. He also wanted to get the Ughans into the war as soon as possible, and to detach Yciel Tuaince Mandagge from her alliance with Atlantis, as she was causing the Rabarrans considerable trouble in the southern waters. The truce proposal was entirely cynical, and the King had no intention of reaching any sort of permanent peace-treaty at this stage.
Gaistuyex was aware that the war was not going as well as he had expected, and the enemy had taken Miolrel, occupied some of Iutieh and seized the Blue Isles, while all Atlantis could show for her efforts was a bridgehead near Miolrel. He too had purely practical reasons for agreeing to the truce offer, hoping that thereby he could halt Rabrrieh’s successful advance for a while, while he fully mobilised his army and prepared strong counter-offensives against the enemy. He tried to haggle with the Rabarrans to return some of their war-gains, but they refused. Gaistuyex now concentrated on preparing his government and the population at large in the Empire for a renewed and much larger-scale war, with full commitment by industry and general conscription – exactly the same procedure as was occurring in Rabarrieh at the same time.
The Rabarrans took their time preparing for the next round of fighting, concentrating at first on diplomatic initiatives. In 874, they succeeded, by surrendering some territory and playing on her abandonment by Atlantis, in persuading Yciel Tuaince Mandagge into neutrality. They also were working hard on suggesting to Skallandieh that once the war between Atlantis and Rabarrieh resumed, she might consider it an opportune moment to fall on Marossan, across the Ereipha. This was defended solely by Quendeliens, and therefore should not necessarily involve the Skallands in conflict with Atlantis. For the Rabarrans, in any case, such a war would at least tend to distract the Atlanteans from the campaign in the south, and make them a little fearful of their northern frontier and its defences. However, Rabarrieh had no success with the Ughans, who were also being pressurised by Atlantis. They were determined to maintain their neutrality unless they, or Borepande, were actually attacked by the Atlanteans.
Rabarrieh had set her sights on gaining control of the Helvengio, when war recommenced. By 875, she had concentrated a large proportion of her navy within the Helvengio, so as to wipe out the Atlantean fleet based at Helvris and Giezuat, guarding the entrance to the sea with her navy in the Zueltix Mandengix and the forts and guns at the mouth of the Helvengio. As can be seen, this strategy was the exact opposite to Atlantis’, and led initially to a disaster for the Rabarrans. On land, in the east, she left about four armies (around 400000 men) in and south of the Rabarran Military Border, south of the Gestes and west of the river Vulcan. There were also the defenders of Borepande completely separated up the Gestes. Further forces were being collected south of the Helvengio for seizing Helvremon, wiping out the Atlantean bridgehead near Miolrel, and generally serving as a reserve.
Gaistuyex, realising that Rabarran diplomacy was gradually isolating
Atlantis, determined to strike the first blow in a resumed war, in
August 875. He worked out a plan of attack with his new
Commander-in-Chief, Zaippo. This involved both a land and a sea
campaign. In order to protect his fleet in the Helvengio, and hence his
planned amphibious attacks round Iutieh, he first planned that the
Atlantean fleet based at Atlantis and Celinge should move south, find
and defeat the Rabarrans, who were based in the Zueltix Mandengix.
Chasing them off south, he would then enter the Helvengio, and with the
united fleet, defeat the Rabarrans there. On land, meanwhile, he was to
collect behind the lower Gestes a massive force of eight BORFEGGISSIX,
divided into three FEGGISSEMMIX, and backed up by large numbers of tanks
– nearly 650000 men. While simultaneously completely shielding the
Rabarrans in Borepande with 80000 men, this massive force would cross
the river at Vulcanipand into neutral territory. It would then sweep
south down the Vulcan, and cross it behind the flank of the Rabarrans to
the west, their location being well known to Atlantean intelligence. At
the same time, an amphibious force would land south-east of the rive
Gayvot, at Duccorase, and attack the other flank of the enemy force.
Small forces would also demonstrate across the Gestes, west of
Vulcanipand, and across the Gayvot river from Iutieh. This great
manoeuvre should surround the vast majority of Rabarran forces in the
east, as well as trapping those on the borders of Iutieh, after which
the Atlanteans could continue west along the southern Coast of the
Helvengio, mopping up the enemy in the former Manralia.
1. The fight for Meistayieh, 875 – 878.
THE WAR AT SEA – ATLANTEAN SUCCESS AND FAILURE, AUGUST 875
Atlantis abruptly broke the cease-fire in August 875, and sent a large fleet south to bring to battle the Rabarran navy, which was in and around the Zueltix Isles. Gaistuyex’s excuse for thus breaking the cease-fire was that Rabarran troops had entered the neutral territory east of Vulcanipand. In fact some civilians were in this country, and two of them were later found to be spies, but they were certainly not in the armed forces. This fleet had been weakened, as a result of the concentration of Rabarran ships within the Helvengio, and the Atlanteans achieved a surprise. In the Third Battle of the Zueltix Mandengix, on August 8th-10th, the Atlanteans fought and defeated the surprised Rabarrans in a piecemeal series of fights, and chased them off south, as planned. Meanwhile, the Rabarran navy within the Helvengio moved quickly to blockade the smaller Atlantean fleet in Helvris and Giezuat. Outside the Helvengio, while most of the Atlantean navy was still following the defeated enemy down the coast of Yall. Thiss., a small part of the Atlantean force had started to bombard the guns and forts planted by the Rabarrans around the sea edge of the Miolrel peninsula: they were simultaneously bombarded by Atlantean guns from the Numidis peninsula some miles to the north. The Atlantean forces in the bridgeheads north of Pruoddos also tried to fight their way westwards to seize Miolrel by land. But the Atlanteans spent too long in this bombardment, with a navy split into halves.
They were unprepared for the quick reaction of the Rabarrans, who, having swept the Atlantean navy into port in the Helvengio, moved three quarters of this force speedily to the mouth of the sea. It emerged past the guns of Numidis, to strike the Atlantean ships still happily engaged outside in banging away at Miolrel and the neighbouring gun emplacements. These were scattered, and the Rabarrans moved back to their base in the Zueltix Isles, defeating a small force of Atlantean ships there. The Rabarrans now turned north to threaten Atlantis itself, denuded of naval protection as it was. This was in fact only a manoeuvre on the Rabarrans’ part to bring the pursuing Atlanteans back north, so that they could be picked off by the Rabarrans. The plan worked well, the Atlanteans turning back north, after receiving an urgent recall by an alarmed government in Atlantis. The Rabarrans sparred with the returning Atlanteans, but avoided any full-scale battle by remaining within the protection of the Blue Isles. The Atlanteans skirted past the islands to the west, and moved back towards Atlantis, but by now, of course, the Rabarran ships here had long gone. The Rabarrans left a considerable proportion of their navy now outside the Helvengio. The time was now well into August. The Atlanteans decided to start the second phase of their operation, the land attack over the Gestes. For although they had failed to secure the protection of the Helvengio from the outside, they had largely emptied the sea of the Rabarran navy. There remained only the fairly small forces supposedly blockading the Atlanteans in their ports. On August 26th, the Atlanteans in Helvris sortied, and forced the Rabarrans back to Manralian coast. They were thus able to keep control of the eastern end of the Helvengio, allowing them to carry out the amphibious operation detailed below.
THE ATLANTEANS CROSS THE GESTES: THE FIRST BATTLE OF THE YALLODAIRU, AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 875
At the end of August 875, Zaippo set the Atlantean armies pouring across the Gestes, according to plan, led by an unprecedentedly large force of tanks. The Atlanteans quickly overcame the feeble resistance here, and while one Army (from now on, that means Atlantean "borfeggissix", about 80000 men, or Rabarran armies of 100000) turned north to surround Borepande, the rest streamed south, accompanied by large numbers of tanks. The Rabarrans to the west were transfixed by Atlantean attempts to cross the Gestes between Vulcanipand and the Helvengio, and too late realised that huge forces were moving up the Vulcan round their flank. The Atlanteans soon gained several bridgeheads over the Vulcan on both sides of its junction with the Yallodairu, and were pressing against the Rabarrans in the north, in the narrow strip of land between the Gentes and the Vulcan. The Rabarrans began to retreat south-west, aiming to link up with reinforcements south and west of the Gairase. At this point (September 6th), the Atlantean amphibious force landed near Duccorase. It was at first hemmed in its bridgehead, but its very presence forced the Rabarrans to veer off to the south-east as they retreated, across the Yallodairu. By late September, the Rabarrans had suffered heavy casualties, but had got most of the remnants of their armies over the Yallodairu, moving generally towards the Raziris mountains to the south-east. In the middle of September, the Atlanteans at Duccorase had managed to break out of their bridgehead, and moved initially northwards to join up with the other forces moving south towards them, and aiming to cut off as many Rabarrans as they could in the Avlotans area. As many of the Atlanteans were also looking south and west in this area, there were only two armies left to follow the Rabarrans as they retreated eastwards. The result was that by the beginning of October, while large numbers of Rabarrans had become casualties or prisoners west of the Yallodairu, probably about 150000, at least another 200000 had escaped south-eastwards, while 50000 or more crossed the Gairase to the south. The Atlanteans lost only about 25000 men all told in this First Battle of the Yallodairu.
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