THE ATTEMPT TO RELIEVE CENNATLANTIS FROM THE WEST,
Things now began to move much faster. Cennatlantis was reaching the limits of its endurance, even with the very limited relief it received from the Imperialists in November. Lingon planned a final attempt at relief, to be carried out as soon as possible, with very similar forces and strategy to the previous effort. Bourbronna, meanwhile, was receiving reinforcements, which raised his total forces to at least 75000, not far short of the Imperialist total. He concentrated over 20000 men round Cennatlantis, and made an unsuccessful assault at the end of November. He also acted to extend the range of his armies further eastwards into Chalcrieh, in order to keep the Imperialists at a greater distance. Pouton retook the Snattarona position, and also moved the rest of his forces to the edge of the hills overlooking Gilliso – he had 30000 in all. Ventel remained west of the Dodolla, in and around Rundes, with 20000. Bourbronna himself remained with a sort of reserve in the hills just to the east of the capital, with 15000 men. 10000 more remained on the Cresslepp in the south.
Lingon again planned a converging advance on Rundes and then on to Cennatlantis, much as before, again dealing with each of the republican forces as they were encountered. This was a fairly desperate venture now, as his numerical superiority over the Republicans was now less, and the strategy was virtually the same as before. His only hope was to have two separate forces rather than the three as on the previous occasion, thus making each that much stronger. But by doing away with the equivalent of the southern attack via Lake Gilliso, Lingon also gave up any hope of distracting Bourbronna’s attention away from the two main attacks on Rundes. So Zuaippo, with 45000 men would advance from Rontisso, storm the Republican position at Gilliso, and advance on Rundes. Simultaneously, Yrixan, with 40000, would move from Gasirotto, between Lakes Oncia and Chalcris, south via Lourunn and Ancahouth, linking up with a small force which would cross the lake to Noccana. It would then either move on Rundes, to support Zuaippo, if this was necessary, for it was intended to capture this town, or move on Failrunn, to distract Republican forces west of the Dodolla; or march directly on Cennatlantis. However, Lingon did add that in order to avoid being defeated in detail by Bourbronna, as had happened so often before, either force should take any opportunity of crushing any Republican army which wandered too close. The main problem here, as before, was maintaining communications between the two Imperialist forces.
As so often, things began well for the Imperialists, as Bourbronna was distracted by the siege of Cennatlantis. On December 22ndth, Zuaippo, who had earlier threatened Pouton’s communications by appearing to intend to move through the Balbemme wood towards the lake, suddenly attacked Gilliso itself, and after a hard fight, ejected the small Republican garrison. As expected, Pouton moved 15000 men off the hills to the south, in order to retake the town. But then Zuaippo threw 25000 men onto the hills to the south of the Republican position, and forced the Republicans back west. Further forces threatened Gilliso from the south, and by December 25th, Pouton was in full retreat towards Rundes. General Yrixan had emerged from Gasirotto on December 21st, and begun his march south unperceived. (The nearest Republican outpost was at Gentis). On Lake Oncia, the Imperialist navy moved south to protect the force about to cross to Noccana, and the small Republican navy at Rundes hastened up to give battle. (It could easily have been completely destroyed back in October, when its only port, Rundes, fell briefly to the Imperialists, but remarkably the Imperialist navy made no attempt to blockade the town from the lake, or even move anywhere near it). It was quickly defeated, and the Imperialist force crossed the lake to Noccana. There it linked up with Yrixan by December 24th, and Yrixan carried on south through Ancahouth. Now Bourbronna became aware of his approach by this time, before Zuaippo had moved, and started to switch his own force west of the river.
On December 25th, Pouton was ordered to carry on his retreat to Rundes, and hold the town and the line of the river with 15000 men. The rest were to cross westwards, and join him and Ventel. Ventel himself was to observe the approaching Imperialists closely, but make sure he did not get too closely involved. By December 26th-27th, Yrixan was in contact with Ventel, and seemingly forcing him back inexorably to the south. However, Bourbronna, with 15000 men, was to the rear, and Ventel was hurrying towards the river with his force. By the 28th, Bourbronna had concentrated 50000 men to oppose Yrixan, who had 45000 to hand. On that day, he threw this force at Yrixan, who thought he was only opposed by about 15000 of Ventel’s men, and comprehensively defeated him.
Meanwhile, Zuaippo reached Rundes from the east, and attempted to storm it directly on December 28th, but failed. He now moved down the east bank of the river towards Cennatlantis. However, on the next day he heard of the defeat of Yrixan, and could see Bourbronna’s armies approaching across the river. Bourbronna had already instructed the small force of 8000 man at Snattarona itself to move northwards across Zuaippo’s communications, towards Sirottis, and he himself moved his forces not directly eastwards to face Zuaippo on the Dodolla, but on Rundes, where again they could cross the river and threaten his communications. Zuaippo hastily retreated his whole army north towards Sirottis. And that was the end of the final Imperialist attempt to relieve the capital Cennatlantis itself fell finally to Bourbronna on January 19th 591. Just a few weeks earlier, on January 1st, the Republicans had executed Crehonerex in Atlantis, and Lingon became the new Emperor.
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