The Siege of Karavia¶
Told by Pergio Vasti, a Matis military chronicler:
Karavia, the Matis fortified city built on the site of the first Karavan-Matis encounter, had fallen to barbarian Fyros forces during the reign of King Noblis. Situated at midpoint along the water route linking the Lake Lands to Fyros territory, the city had become a vast garrison town providing armed cover to Fyros outposts running north and south. Three generations had not sufficed to quell our deep-seated humiliation wrought upon us by the infidel invaders that continued to grow fat on the holy land, our land.
But at long last, out of the ruins of our revolt-stricken dominions, came a new hope in the guise of the valiant warrior-king, Aniro III, second son of Danido the Decrepit. Aniro set out on a campaign with a contingent of faithful knights to reconquer the hearts of the people and to forge a new army to fight under the one banner against the common enemy.
One of those knights was Gioni di Tylini, a sure-handed colossus of Karavian stock, and a fervent believer in Jena. Tylini went on to distinguish himself in the battle of Thormes where he converted his tribal prisoners into loyal subjects. His return to Matia, the Matis capital of the old lands, was marked with great pageant and no sooner had the fanfare died down than he was summoned by the king. Time had come for the spurs of Matis knights to drive the heathenish imps from the holy land.
Moreover, victory at Karavia would open the road to the sea shores further west as well as giving a virtually unhindered passage to the proverbial riches of the Tryker lake lands to the south. However, the walls of the fortified city were strong and high, the occupants could hold out against a siege at least till Fyros divisions of relief troops brought support, which would reasonably take them a little over forty days.
"But, my liege," said Tylini, "by the time we have taken up our positions the Fyros will surely have sent the full brunt of their army from their homelands to Karavia to relieve the city. We shall be outflanked and caught between two armies..."
"Worthy Tylini, you would acquiesce that an essence to victory is knowing how the land lies. You shall be the bait to lure the Fyros to a battlefield of our own design!"
"With all due respects, my Lord, we shall be unable to maneuver and our strike force shall be reduced to half..."
"You would believe your King would lead you knowingly unto the jaws of death, Gioni di Tylini?"
"No, my Lord!" protested the knight.
"Then hear me out." The king rolled out a map on the long syre wood table. "You shall lay siege to the city of Karavia. Our informers tell us there is a permanent contingent of but 5000 spears. But even if you outnumber them, remember, you will first let time wear down the enemy's spirits, no Matis homin must be needlessly lost, wounded or even fatigued by futile raids. Our force of strike will depend on their good condition and by consequence the outcome of the greater battle. Now, you conclude as will Abylus that the Fyros shall have no choice but to rally to their defense taking the long march south from their northern homelands or face losing their vital water link to the Lake Lands. But your king shall be lying in wait in the forest set well back from the road. Our scouts shall watch them as they pass..." As the King's leather gauntleted finger traced the route over the map Tylini began to fully take in the king's plan.
"Mmm, and once they are past, your highness would send me word, close in on them from the rear and push them on to where we would most desire them." The king gave the great knight a comradely pat on the back.
"Have our battleground carefully prepared by your engineers, good Tylini, and the rest shall make noble reading in our history books!"
There was one major obstacle to the king's plan, the march to Karavia would reasonably take two months meandering between the great trees, clambering through the dense vegetation; a march that would leave nothing of the benefit of surprise. However, Tylini, renowned for his resourcefulness, enrolled an extra company of two hundred craftsmen. Then, instead of heading northwestward straight for Karavia, the king and he took the three day march east to the great falls of Ria where the vast river widens out. In little more than a week, working day and night, engineers and crafters had felled over seventy tall bolka trees and turned them into fabulous rafts for transporting the army smoothly down the Ria. Between the vales of Bero and Ronda, riverside tribes stood amidst the luxuriant foliage in marvel at the awe-inspiring fleet of 300 vessels floating over 30000 homins, provisions, mektoubs and 150 trained ragus tranquilly down the Ria to war.
Within the week the army had arrived at the confluent of the Darone where they were forced to disembark because of the rapid waters there. The king, at this point, led his army north, Tylini headed west. The forest from there on became less dense and barely two days later Tylini had his army positioned at but a day's march north of the holy city. The whole journey had not taken twenty days!
Outposts and villages on the water route going south were surrounded, neatly silenced and razed in short sharp night attacks. Any enemy fleeing to the woods was systematically tracked down by ragus and executed. It was vital that Abylus did not get wind of the extent of the army that was awaiting him, else he would deploy double the force.
Before coming upon the holy city Tylini split his army into three divisions each consisting of upwards of five thousand homins. Moreover, Tylini was careful to display only a portion of the force, just enough to encourage the Fyros to stay put. At last, standing on a flat hillock where his tent had been pitched, Gioni could cast his eyes upon Karavia, the grand wooden towers, the elaborate edifices, and the massive living wall of prime roots that had so often played on his mind as a boy. All was as his grandfather had depicted and portrayed in landscapes on the walls of the family residence. That is, with the exception that the ground immediately surrounding the city walls had been cleared of vegetation and that the road leading into the main gates lie straight as a bolt. To preserve the city, and so as not to attract needless curiosity of the Kami things, Tylini decided that no fire lancers would be used for the assault. When the time came the city would be overrun by stratagem and pure force! Engineers devised siege engines, crafters began felling trees while soldiers set to work preparing the stretch of turf land leading some way beyond the city walls to the north. Thousands of spears were planted in the ground devised to spring up at a forty five degree angle to meet the Fyros relief warriors from the north in their course of attack.
The besieged Fyros in the fortified city were at first content enough to bide their time believing that an army would be sent in as soon as the administrators saw that the water convoys had ceased. But on perceiving the battle ground being carefully prepared as aforementioned they began to realize the extent of our determination. Underestimating our forces, they began making forays which they came to quickly realize could only result in mass suicide. Though the harassing ceased, many a Fyros was captured endeavoring to get through our water tight ring with the aim of making for Fyros homelands with tidings of our preparations. The culprits were invariably sent back to the city gates tied to a mektoub with their heads set in their laps!
It should be said that at this epoch the Fyros, having manifested disobedience as to the given Law, had fallen out of favor with the Karavan. Thus Tylini knew there would be no chance of any teleportation unit within the city. What is more, Jena, having given all homins of Atys the freedom of thought, her disciples had no right to interpose in homin affairs.
By the second week of the siege the battle field preparations were finalized, the homins were growing restless, news of the Fyros army was expected any day. But a twist of fate was soon to change the course of events.
A bloody sun was rising and gradually cracking its ruddy hues upon the leafy high boughs above Tylini's tent and upon the vast green and brown sward yonder where the battlefield lay in wait. A rude hullabaloo was rising from the citadel where the pagans, peculiar to their inferior station, were giving themselves to summer solstice festivities as if to mock our heritage further. Tylini was contemplating the skyline and the thickening clouds when there came a galloping from behind accompanied by some commotion. Gioni turned to see a mounted mektoub give a heave of the head and collapse in shear exhaustion. The messenger, who had leapt off the mount just in time, true to Matis breeding, straightened his green and crimson tunic, gave a bow before stepping over to the great knight handing over a scroll whose seal was embossed with the flower of the baylona and tagged with a crimson silk ribbon. Tylini took the royal billet with slight agitation which visibly increased as he perused the contents. He then looked around at his entourage of knights.
"Sirs, by the love of Jena, our King sends us word: Today Karavia shall regain her dignity! Today we unsheathe our blades; today we ride on the winds of fortune!" He then pointed to the northern sky at the confirmation of the king's message: thick trails of smoke carried by the warm summer solstice winds were straggling over the sky from the northern frontier. "Fyros lands are raging with a conflagration of castigation! Providence is on our side today!" vociferated Tylini.
Indeed, what came to be known as the great Fire of Coriolis was raging over the Fyros wastelands, had cut off the water route and by consequence impeded Fyros troops from reaching Karavia. The great battle, for which the ground had been laid, would come later. Meanwhile, the smaller poultry was fatigued and cornered, now was the time to roast it!
Tylini sent in a mock siege engine force early that evening to hassle Fyros archers while a company of knights with trained ragus managed to get close to the wall where Tylini knew from his grandfather of a shallow part in the prime root foundation. The ravenous hounds dug away the shallow soil making a gap under the prime root wall. On the given order they then poured out on the other side creating havoc while the knights crept in and cut down the great wooden drawbridge.
The battle horn was sounded, the drums rolled in the dimming light and the Matis army charged down in a colossal, dark and glimmering wave to take the city by storm. Tylini spear-headed the surge hacking and thrashing his way perilously, boldly through the milling heathen mob which all night long put up resistance to the last. But by the light of the misty morn, once again Matis colors flew high and proud over the holy city of Karavia.
Standing triumphantly upon the steps of the keep, Gioni di Tylini turned his face to the heavens in thanks to Jena and large drops began to splatter upon his forehead. A deluge then broke the silence, he turned his bloody palms upward to cleanse them as all around heathen blood that swamped the holy city was being flushed away in rivulets. Tylini's heart swelled in the knowledge that these lands were now his as his gaze wondered south over the road to the Lake Lands...