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Alternate Alphatian timeline AC 1015by Geoff Gander
Spring, AC 1015: Along a line of forested hills in northern Blackheart, northward-marching Shiye elves and southward-marching Argonathian soldiers come face-to-face. After a few tense moments of surprise, it soon becomes apparent that neither side is a hostile force. Quickly, relief gives way to joy, as the realisation dawns that Blackheart is now all but beaten. Whoops of joy erupt among both sides, and soon King Acroshiye meets with the general of the Argonathian forces. After quickly agreeing that their meeting place should form the border between their realms, they then jointly declare that Blackheart has been defeated, after months of hard campaigning. The meeting place soon becomes a festive place, as soldiers from both sides share tales of their battles. After a whole day of celebrations, both forces agree to co-operate in securing all of Blackheart.
Weeks later, a final counterattack from the remaining Blackhearter forces inflicts considerable damage upon the allies. The combined force of humans and elves had successfully advanced eastwards, confining the remaining hostile forces to a pocket in the northeastern reaches of Blackheart, when the counteroffensive came. Within three days, two weeks' worth of gains is lost to the forces of Blackheart, but then the battle lines stabilise as the retreating allies entrench themselves in better defensive positions.
In Greenspur, the eastern port of Telsatus finds itself under siege, as the southeastern offensive of 1014 against Perponaz and Bluenose gives way to a full rout under the disciplined response of the Arogansans. Within days, the people of Telsatus are already suffering from food shortages and falling morale, and soon pressure builds for the city's governor to surrender to the invaders.
Elsewhere in Greenspur, Arogansan forces plunge deep into the interior of their western neighbour, overrunning many towns and villages, and expelling the inhabitants. Though they meet with some resistance from reserve forces, it is largely ineffectual; casualties are very high for the defenders.
Near the Theranderolian town of Lidyem, local troops attack Randelian forces marching southwest. The battle is fierce, but the Randelians are forced to retreat eastwards. Word of the incident finds its way to both sides. The Randelians say they were merely marching through Theranderol to attack Arogansan positions, while the Theranderolians say the troop movement was a precursor of a larger invasion by Randel. Positions harden on both sides, and orders are given to their armies that another enemy has entered the fray.
In Citadel, Bettellyn, the rogue military commanders responsible for the unsanctioned attacks on Randel are put on trial, and executed for treason. Word of the deed is sent to King Verothrics of Randel. Although he applauds the results, Verothrics says that, due to ongoing military tensions in the south, he will be unable to order a withdrawal of his forces from Sabetta and the surrounding region until all fronts are secure, owing to the strategic location of the Randelian-held town north of the Grey Mountains. Disheartened with the response, Queen Llynara responds by saying that loyalist Bettellynian forces stationed in Dmireton will likewise remain where they are. Afterwards, she meets with her top generals to draw up plans for the retaking of Sabetta, and the "neutralisation" of Randel.
In the occupied city of Kirn, Theranderolian forces manage to inflict heavy casualties upon the Arogansans, and to drive them out. After establishing defensive positions, troops are sent further south, into Arogansan territory, where they meet little resistance from the defenders.
Days later, the Greenspurian-held port city of Avrads is besieged by a large host of Arogansan soldiers, fresh from looting the interior of their western neighbour. Within two days, the city is suffering from heavy bombardments from catapults, and a handful of battle-mages on skyships owned by Arogansa. Lacking battle-mages of their own, the defending Greesnpurians punch a hole in the besiegers' western positions, and make a frantic push home. Not paying attention to their fleeing opponents, the victorious Arogansans move into the port city, and secure it, sending token forces westwards in pursuit of their enemies.
In Thothia, news reaches the Pharaoh and his advisers that their forces in Ekto are increasingly hard-pressed, as are those near Hillvale. The past several weeks have seen the Thothian lines almost collapse on a few occasions, as fresh troops from Thyatis give the advancing allied forces renewed strength. Now, the battle lines in the west are only 30 miles from Ekto, which is itself still under siege. Realising that it is only a matter of time before his forces are totally demoralised, Ramenhotep instructs his advisers to sound the order for a general retreat. Forces stationed west of Ekto shall regroup in Trikelios, to bolster defending units there, and those in Ekto shall be given the choice, they may try one last time to break the siege and flee, or they are free to surrender.
In Aegos, the eastern coastal village of Arnilston is attacked by several Thothian warships, which quickly pull into port and disgorge their troops. Within an hour, Arnilston is under Thothian control with minimal loss of life. In Aegopoli, the first Thyatian soldiers arrive, immediately taking up positions in the city to better defend it.
Summer, AC 1015: The newly-reconquered port of Avrads finds itself under siege once more - this time by Theranderolian forces coming from the east, and resurgent Greenspurians from the west. Seeing the massed might arrange against them, the Arogansan defenders decide to capitulate to the Theranderolians, who had already broken into the city, in the interest of sparing the inhabitants from more bloodshed. The Theranderolians accept the surrender, and, after disarming the defenders, arrange to ship them by boat to Kirn, where they will be held as prisoners. The civilians are told that they may stay if they are willing to accept Theranderolian suzerainty; otherwise, they are to head south, behind Arogansan lines. Most opt to leave, sickened at what has happened to their once-beautiful city. Not long afterwards, Greenspurian forces arrive, and, taking stock of the situation, redeploy themselves several miles west of Avrads, securing that territory.
In southern Greenspur, the westward-marching Arogansan invaders make considerable progress, covering almost half the distance to the western coast before encountering stiff resistance. After the surrender of Telsatus at the end of Thaumont, they faced largely disorganised resistance units during their advance, but now they see thousands of battle-hardened Greenspurian soldiers and battle-clerics ranged in front of them. With a great yell, the defenders charge into the advancing Arogansans, who are driven back by the sheer ferociousness of the assault. By the time they get their bearings, over one-third of the invading force has either been killed or wounded, with many battle-mages numbering among the casualties. The rear guard, seeing what is happening, breaks ranks and flees eastwards, leaving the main host without reinforcements. Although they put up a fierce fight, and inflict heavy casualties with their own magical might, the Arogansans are simply too weary and outnumbered, and soon the survivors offer to surrender to the defenders. The next day, 2,300 unarmed Arogansan soldiers are marched to Eagret, where they will be held as prisoners.
In Theranderol, the eastern town of Lidyem is overrun by invading Randelian forces. Quickly, the troops fan out into the countryside, securing several strategic forts in the region. Queen Eldrethilia of Theranderol angrily demands of King Verothrics why his forces have decided to attack her nation unprovoked, but no response is forthcoming.
In the Imperial Territories, westward-roving Bettellynian soldiers encounter a large stretch of forest, which, from their own knowledge, none existed before. As they probe into the woods, they are met by a small group of armed Shiye elves. The elves tersely inform them that the southwestern reaches of the Imperial Territories are now under Shiye control, and that, as trespassers, they should return to the east. Wordlessly, the soldiers return to their original encampment, and send word back to Bettellyn proper that Shiye-Lawr has staked a claim in part of the Imperial Territories, and that Bettellyn should do the same in the regions bordering it.
After months of fruitless skirmishes, emissaries from the forces of Blackheart approach the camps of the elves and the Argonathians, proposing a truce. Quickly, the representatives state that this continued fighting is getting them nowhere, and is draining precious men and resources from all sides. They say that Blackheart is willing to surrender to the enemy, in exchange for an end to all attacks against what remains of Blackheart, and a return of any prisoners. Surprised by this offer, and eager to end the fighting, the invaders agree to the terms, but insist upon the right to maintain a fortified presence along the new border.
Near Skyfyr, Esterhold, the long-anticipated Jennite offensive finally materialises, as thousands of horse warriors stampede into view with a great cheer. The initial assault, though vicious, is successfully repulsed by the defenders with little loss of life through the judicious use of powerful offensive spells. Seeing that this final conquest will not be easy, the Jennites proceed to lay Skyfyr to siege.
Late in the summer, just as Argonathian farmers are preparing to harvest the small amount of produce they could grow, news spreads quickly of several cargo vessels, lying low in the water, pulling into Ydroyas and Mafertat. It soon becomes apparent that the ships are laden with grain - from Thyatis! Over the next few days, it soon becomes apparent that the diplomatic efforts to secure recognition for the new nation have borne some fruit. There is enough grain and other food staples to see the kingdom through this winter, and most of the next year, if need be. Accompanying the cargo vessels is a smaller vessel, bearing Julius Torsarius, the Thyatian ambassador to Argonath.
On the Isle of Dawn, the Thothian-occupied city of Ekto surrenders to the allied forces. Unable to break the siege gripping the port city, the Thothians, upon hearing of the Pharaoh's order, opt to preserve their own lives. The defenders, demoralised and starving after a relentless siege, eagerly lay down their weapons in exchange for food, a promise of fair treatment, and medical attention, while Thyatian, Dunadaler, and Hillvalian soldiers take up defensive positions along the walls. In nearby Trikelios, defensive positions are bolstered by Thothian soldiers retreating from their positions west of Ekto.
In Aegos, more Thyatian troops arrive, and proceed eastwards to secure more of the island. It is not long afterwards that, just north of Pittston, Thyatian advance scouts meet westward-roving Thothian forces. The initial encounter is brief, and the Thyatians are forced to pull back to the nearby village of Rundsol.
Fall, AC 1015: The Theranderolian city of Mersepolis comes under a heavy barrage of Randelian magic might, delivered by battle mages on the ground and in a handful of skyships. Mersepolis' own air fleet, numbering four small ships, stages several daring sorties against the invaders, and manages to inflict some casualties before being forced to flee westwards. Aside from the success of the initial assault, the invading Randelians are unable to advance any farther.
In the former kingdom of Eadrin, the Theranderolian-claimed town of Ecem is overrun by advancing Randelian soldiers. Although the defenders fought bravely, they lacked the unity and professionalism of their opponents. After securing the town, the Randelian commander in charge of this battalion orders his forces to man the walls, and proceed to restore order. Captured Theranderolian forces are disarmed, and marched eastwards.
After weeks of negotiations, the joint Argonathian-Shiye forces in Blackheart devise a system of maintaining joint defences over the lands that they have acquired during their offensives. Their common border will have a minimum number of soldiers along its length, with the bulk of their forces concentrated in the east, along the new frontier with Blackheart. Those soldiers left over from both sides are sent home.
Weeks later, in Argondor, Argonath, King Caradon receives his returning soldiers heartily, proclaiming a nationwide holiday to commemorate the decisive victory against Blackheart, and of the restoration of the old southern borders. To show his appreciation for their efforts, he awards each soldier with a new set of armour and weapons - gifts from "our trusted ally and benefactor, the empire of Thyatis." Julius Torsarius, who is also present, looks on.
During that same speech, Caradon also announces that refugees from those towns being threatened by "belligerent Alphatian and Qeodharian forces" will be granted land in the newly-acquired southern territories. This is an effort not only to cement his claim on those lands, but also to bring their fertile soils under the plough, so that Argonath will not starve.
In Greenspur, the disorganised Arogansan retreat continues. Every week, more occupied towns are liberated by the defending armies, though the Arogansans make their enemies pay in blood for every mile they are forced to retreat. Towards the end of Ambyrmont, large swaths of formerly-occupied territory in central Greenspur have been reclaimed, though reports begin to arise concerning guerrilla activities on the part of Arogansans soldiers who did not retreat with the main body of their forces. Resolving to push the invaders out of their country first, the Greenspurians decide to ignore the reports for the time being.
Randelian positions east of Sabetta come under intense magical bombardment, as Bettellynian forces strike westwards in a pincer movement to encircle the town and retake it. Although the Randelians resist mightily, the attackers had the element of surprise by means of battle mages teleporting near their positions and casting fireballs, meteor swarms, and lightning bolts at them. There is little they can do but retreat to Sabetta, and take up defensive positions.
Further north, Bettellynian settlers, under the escort of veteran soldiers, move westwards into the Vertiloch Hills, and establish improvised settlements. This is in response to the earlier encounter with the Shiye elves; seeing that central authority appears to be well and truly gone, Bettellyn sees the former Imperial Territories as prime lands in which to expand.
In Skyfyr, several major assaults against this last Alphatian holdout in Esterhold are staged, all to no avail. On several occasions, some Jennites manage to reach the tops of the walls, only to find scores of battle-hardened soldiers and mages waiting for them. Though the Jennites know they are fighting a war of attrition they know they will ultimately win, the tribal chieftains are impatient to destroy Skyfyr so that they may return to their traditional hunting grounds. This leads to poorly-planned assaults that cost more lives than necessary.
In Skyreach, news of the defeats in Argonath, and of the seemingly inevitable loss of Esterhold, finally reaches what remains of the Grand Council. The past several years have seen nothing but a string of reversals and infighting that have not only lost Alphatians territories in Skothar; they have also alienated the kingdoms of Randel, Theranderol, and Haven, among the three most powerful kingdoms. To most observers, it is clear that the disaster in AC 1009 destroyed not only the imperial family; it also killed off the best and brightest of the Grand Council, leaving only the most incompetent and uninspiring leaders. Realisation of this fact sets in among the people of Floating Ar, Ambur, and Foresthome.
In eastern Aegos, Thyatian and Aegosian forces encounter scattered elements of Thothian advance forces, many of whom are undead. Although the initial encounters are not in the defenders' favour, as time passes information is gained from allied forces stationed in Ekto concerning the best tactics to use against the Thothians, among them judicious use of clerical abilities. Armed with this knowledge, The Thyatians and Aegosians manage to secure several important victories, and the front slowly moves eastwards.
Winter, AC 1015: In Argondor, Argonath, King Caradon gives a speech to an assembled group of minor nobles and military officers. Outlining the current military situation in northern Alphatia, Caradon says that the time has come for the kingdom to turn its attention eastwards. Though the army is exhausted, and supplies are short, Argonath cannot afford to wait any longer in reclaiming its old frontiers. The kingdom of Foresthome, he says, was awarded a swath of fertile farms and woodlands, which once belonged to Argonath. To restore the old kingdom fully, and to punish the Alphatians to the east, the Argonathian armies will march on Foresthome in AC 1016, both to establish a more defensible border (along the Roaring River), and to acquire fertile lands upon which the nation can better feed itself. Also, action must be taken to expel Qeodharian forces occupying the ports of Ybod and Gowola, and their surrounding regions. The reaction to the speech is mixed, but hopeful.
Theranderolian forces marching eastwards from Errolyn smash into the western flank of the Randelian troops trying to take Mersepolis. The Randelians were not expecting an attack of such size, or of such vigour. Within hours, the Randelians lose a considerable amount of ground, and before the day is out they are forced away from Mersepolis. Over the next few days, the Randelians are able to maintain their discipline, but they cannot hold the line against the Theranderolians, and so are forced to give ground steadily, but slowly.
In southern Greenspur, the port city of Telsatus is regained from Arogansan occupiers. At this stage in the war between Arogansa and Greenspur, the advancing Greenspurians have the advantage, with high morale, fresher troops, and a burning desire to expel all enemy forces from their nation. What has also spurred them to fight tenaciously are the tales told by refugees from the occupied lands - tales of being expelled from their towns and villages, and seeing Arogansans move in to replace them. Everywhere that territories are regained, Arogansan settlers are given an ultimatum: swear allegiance to Greenspur, or leave. Many opt for the latter option, though some remain.
Along the northern region of Arogansa, thousands of Greenspurian and Theranderolian troops march south, after gathering their forces over most of the past year, while holding the line against their enemy. Over the next few weeks, the southward-marching armies fight numerous skirmishes, and occupy several towns and villages along the way.
Scouts from the Arogansan-held city of Archport report to their commander that a large force of Randelian soldiers has been spotted, heading southwest along the coast. Surprised, the commander sends an urgent message to Bluenose, saying that more troops will be needed if Archport is to remain under Arogansan control. The response is equally disheartening - Greenspurian forces have retaken Telsatus, and Perponaz is likely the next target. Also, almost the entire northern half of Arogansa is now under enemy occupation, and thousands of enemy troops are moving south. Realising that he is on his own, the commander orders his forces to entrench themselves, and prepare for a vicious battle.
After several weeks of near-constant bombardment from Bettellynian battle mages, the Randelian forces stationed in Sabetta announce their surrender. As the captured soldiers are marched northwards, the victorious Bettellynians survey the damage - over half of Sabetta is in ruin, and over three-quarters of its population has fled.
Moments later, King Verothrics of Randel receives the news of the defeat at Sabetta. Seeing that Llynara has no desire to return Dmireton to his nation, he issues the order for several battalions to take it back by force. With that, the Randelian war machine gears up even more.
Another brutal assault commences against Alphatian positions in the city of Skyfyr. Unlike the previous attempts, the Jennites do not mount a massive charge against the gates and scale the walls. Instead, their mages use their magical prowess to cast magic missiles at any visible defenders, as well as create phantasms to try to demoralise the enemy. Some offensive spells are also cast against the walls, but these have little effect. The magical bombardment is almost constant, far more intense than the Alphatians believed the Jennites were capable of doing, though it is still pitiful by Alphatian standards. Several buildings catch fire within the city, and troops are pulled away from the walls to deal with the resulting fires. As this happens, the Jennites attempt to scale the walls on several occasions, though they are repulsed. Though Skyfyr remains unconquered, the defenders have suffered considerable casualties during the siege. Over one-quarter of the Alphatians are now dead, and of those who remain, one-fifth are either ill or injured.
Having spent several months rebuilding Ekto's defences, restoring proper authority, and resettling former refugees, allied forces stationed in this port city prepare to advance eastwards - to Trikelios. Morale is high, reinforcements from Thyatis and Hillvale have arrived, and relations between the three forces, cordial at first, have now grown into strong friendships. Talk is spreading among the leaders of the three armies of a more comprehensive alliance between their nations.
In Aegos, despite some initial successes against the Thothian invaders, Thyatian and Aegosian advances soon grind to a halt, as concerted resistance on the part of the Thothians, combined with large numbers of powerful undead and golems, manifests itself.