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Age of Conquest

A period of history in the Aelyrian Empire.
Further Reading: A Primer to the History of the Aelyrian Empire, Historia

Contents


[top]The Barbaric Wars

After the annexation of the Luctine Republic and the co-opting of its merchant fleet on the Great Sea, King Constantine acquired the vacant lands and open opportunities for merit-driven competition that his administrative system of Feudocracy so required. Abesen, now a Duke of his own noble house, had renamed Lux to Abestat and declared his own fiefdom. Prince Rynus von Oreskovich was rewarded for his leadership by being given supervision over the rich fields of Agerburg, home to the granaries of the kingdom. Aelyrian prosperity became a source of both praise and envy throughout the continent, and ambitious nobles acting without the approval of their liege-lords in both the Grand Duchy of Phondra and the Kingdom of Daltina began to launch border raids to seize the grain at Agerburg. What is also less chronicled, but similarly infamous is the blockade that the Daltinan Navy had placed on the merchant fleets of the Fire Isles, inhibiting the luxury trade that powered the city of Abestat.

While knights of the Aelyrian Kingdom formed a guild to engage the ambitious nobles, waging a war of public opinion in Daltina and Phondra to turn the people against their leaders, King Constantine had to face the problem of waging war on the seas. The Aelyrian Fleet, up to this point, consisted of little more than the navy of triremes inherited from the Luctine Republic, outfitted with covuus - grapper hooks that could be used to ensnare ships attached to gang-planks so that soldiers could cross into enemy vessels and occupy it. The technique worked well against pirates and small fleets, but it was impractical for full naval squadrons of harassing or impressing galleys from the Daltinan Royal Navy. Refitting the Aelyrian Navy would have to wait, as the barbarians from Arkdün had resumed their raids against the fragile northern borders recently secured from the Luctadomans.

The Barbari of Arkdün had not been particularly blessed by the fortune of having skilled leaders or capable commanders, but as the fates would have it, one man showed exceptional ability in generalship. Lord Aeric, who styled himself as the White Knight, had been appointed leader over the unruly barbari tribes by the political overlord in Arkdün, Antediluvian. With an army of 47,000 immortals-turned-hoplites, having benefitted by the defection of numerous former Luctine phalanxmen, Aeric launched a bold plan to prove himself in combat and embarked on an adventure to conquer the Aelyrian Kingdom. Hardened by courage, a psychological dilemma was about to ensue: Aeric was unafraid of the disciplined Aelyrian Legions, and the Aelyrian Kingdom was not prepared to sue for peace under any circumstances.

The journey across the Northern Hinterlands was rather inhospitable, and by the time he began his invasion of Abestat and the Ioannolian Lowlands, over 20,000 of his troops had perished. Fortunately, Aeric had the advantage of surprise; the Aelyrians did not suspect a massive attack from the barbarians. Aeric's grand strategy to detach the Feudocratic Compact by forcing nobles to switch sides was ill-conceived, as the Arkdüni general failed to send spies ahead of time to gauge the level of loyalty of the nobles. While in kingdoms operating under traditional feudalism, nobles may have been more self-interested and eager to serve their own needs, Aelyrian nobles were fiercely loyal to King Constantine and the Royal Court at Aelyria Prime; in fact, many of them viewed the dwindling numbers of Ancient Aelyrians on Insula Coronae as gods.

Duke Abesen immediately marshaled his knights and led the II. LEGION now stationed in the empty Luctine countryside, having been renamed to Northumbria, to harass Aeric's limited numbers of troops. It is using this delaying tactic that we now come to call such maneuvers as Abesenian Tactics. The Royal Court at Aelyria Prime, however, was extremely upset and sought an aggressive attack and a battle of annihilation against Aeric for daring to attack the Aelyrian Kingdom. The Knights of Aelyria, having gained institutional recognition for their successes in Phondra and Daltina (cf. Odin Khrias' treatment of the subject), were asked to elect two generals to oversee the bulk of the Aelyrian army as it would head against Aeric. They chose Sir Kestrel, a half-elf known for his cautious leadership and chivalrous morality, and Sir Tor, a human whose life was prolonged by studying on Insula Coronae but filled with aggressive energy and notorious for his short temper, to lead the armies.

[top]The Battle of the Fens, ca. 9066


Battle of the Fens
Kestrel and Tor argued about who would have supreme command over the forces, and so a compromise was reached wherein command over the Aelyrian Legions would alternate by day. When the legions assembled in Central Ioannolia near Abestat, there were over 80,000 troops and the Aelyrian soldiers were cocky and over-confident, sure of a victory against the Barbari heathens. They pursued Aeric and his forces relentlessly, and due to their confidence allowed him to dictate the battlefield of his choosing. The White Knight had devised an ingenious plan that would hopefully enable him to marshall his 20,000 barbari warriors to victory against the better-trained, more disciplined Aelyrian Legions. Sir Tor assumed command and pursued Aeric into the Barbaric Northlands to a marshy countryside known as the Fens.

The narrow plains of the Fens provided bad conditions for the maniples; tight fighting quarters inhibited fluidity of motion between the three axes, making it difficult to mount a clear offensive. Perhaps disaster might have been avoided if a cautious Sir Kestrel had been in command of the legions, but as fate would have it, Tor was desperate to crush Aeric and the Barbari definitely, creating an example that all would follow, and so he dismissed Kestrel to Abestat. When the Aelyrian Legions arrived, they found themselves trapped between two flowing hills, where they positioned their cavalry. General Aeric used deception to his advantage by moving his forces back to encourage the legions to attack. The Barbari Wolfriders and Horsemen were charged with the task of ensuring that the Aelyrian Cavalry would be decimated.

The Aelyrian Legions found themselves unable to execute their fluidity; the maniples were too close together, and panicked when the wolfriders and horsemen charged, attacking the Aelyrian forces on all sides. An encirclement resulted, wherein the 8000 wolfriders had eliminated the two Aelyrian cavalry, and the Barbari Phalanx had lured the I, II, and III LEGIONS under the command of Sir Tor into a trap, where they had been flanked on both sides by 12,000 Arkdüni elite swordsmen and axemen. The result was devastating; the Aelyrians lost 40,000 troops, over eighty nobles were slain and 470 knights and other notables were killed. To their credit, the knights fought to the last and sacrificed themselves for their kingdom, retreating only when Sir Tor shamefully gave the order to withdraw.

[top]The Aftermath of the Fens

General Aeric celebrated his conquest by sending back four bushels of gold rings, taken from the slaughtered nobles, back to Arkdün. At the end of the battle, armor was stripped off of the legionnaires and used for Aeric's soldiers. However, because Aeric only had around 16,000 troops still under his command, he was unable to successfully siege Abestat. Therefore, Aeric adopted a new strategy to attempt and defeat the Aelyrians decisively; by harassing the countryside, the White Knight hoped he could force the Aelyrian Kingdom to sue for peace. The attack from within by Aeric was supposed to be joined by an external invasion led by his lover, the barbarian huntress Glavia, who had been sent back to Arkdün to muster the other tribes. He underestimated the Aelyrians, however.

In Aelyria Prime, King Constantine dissolved the Royal Court and relieved Sir Tor of command, keeping him employed as an advisor. He ordered Sir Kestrel to raise legions in every city, village, and arena that the Aelyrians could. Titles of nobility were promised to young officers who would enter and become centurions in the Aelyrian army. The golden guild halls of Aelyria Prime were liquidated for anything of value, and for armor and weapons. A sense of overwhelming desperation coupled with unrelenting fury created a powerful psychological combination that the Aelyrians knew would prevail.

King Constantine and Sir Kestrel had their opportunity to avenge the deaths of so many citizens and adventurers; in Summer of 9071, an army of 50,000 legionnaires encountered a much-exhausted and resource-depleted retinue of General Aeric and his forces. Using surprise maneuvers to catch the Barbari off-guard, Sir Kestrel launched an expert attack. The veterans in the Aelyrian legions, experienced soldiers who had been trained in professional campaigns and had survived the Fens and tempered by the passions for revenge, fought for their lands and for their freedom. And they won. Aeric's forces were completely wiped out, and Antediluvian sued for peace, begging the Aelyrians to return them his general, Aeric. The Aelyrian victories proved that discipline, technology and adaptability when coupled with determination could triumph over particularly gifted strategies, like those that Aeric used at the Fens.

[top]Credit

Kaelon


Created by Nimh, July 15, 2015 at 11:04 PM
Last edited by Nimh, July 17, 2015 at 10:26 AM
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