1874-12-02: The Fortresses Stand
The Fortresses Stand
IC Date: 2 Decembre 1874 IE
Related Information: BB 17/231-233, Battle of Alnburgh, Battle of Duval

Two weeks have passed since the Parthian push on two of the prime Galenthian Great Fortresses - Alnburgh in the West, and Duval in the East. In both cases, the Parthians threw thousands upon thousands of soldiers at the walls and the lines outside - slave, client kingdom and Parthian retinue troops. But the Griffon of Galenthia still flies above both of these fortresses, and though they are indeed damaged and their soldiers are battered, they still hold.

At Alnburgh, the Galenthians manning the walls and fortifications were drawn from Sokar forces commanded by their Duke Jarret, Arkanin of Murias headed by Viscount Cervantes and the Riktonian House Bordeaux led by Lady Lillian. Meanwhile, a force of the Kaedon banner under their Viscount Dertan, the Duchy's Brigadier, marched to give aid to the besieged Galenthians. Parthians massed their pike, cataphracts and horse archers alongside masses of slave soldiers. The slaves were, as usual, the first in the breach, throwing up ladders and driving rams forward to knock the gates down.

Time and time again, the slave soldiers forced their way upon the walls and were driven back down by the defenders. On the field, the Kaedon forces were ringed by horse archers and subject to repeated charges by the fearsome cataphracts. Tactical feints and discipline ensured that they inflicted serious casualties on the Parthians, but each round of arrows and charges whittled them. Finally, the Kaedon forces withdrew in an orderly manner to a copse of trees, which they would hold for the remainder of the battle protected from arrows and charges, even as the Parthians attempted to dislodge them.

When the gates of Alnburgh shattered, the Parthian Prince Kalid of Belgrazahal, also known as the Blood Hammer, led the advance of their retinue soldiers within. Similarly, the Galenthians were driven off the wall. Duke Jarret moved swiftly to confront the Parthian Prince directly as their forces battled and, as soon as they'd entered, the Parthians withdrew, leaving droves of their dead and setting fire to many buildings.

Alburgh was devasted, but stood. One wall had crumbled under assault, a gate was blasted open. The Galenthians had taken high casualties but held, while the Parthians had left far more on the field and withdrawn to camps further away, evidently now wary. Light siege lines were still maintained, including around the Kaedon treeline, but without reinforcements, it did not seem likely that the Parthians would assault soon.

At Duval, the layout was quite similar. The walls were manned by the Duchy heir Sir Bethany Tarris's forces assisted by her husband Sir Brennart, along with mercenaries and half a company of Highlanders under Captain Sir Scarlett Chandus. A small relief force marched from the east under the Duchy's Brigadier, Viscount Thomas Chandus and Jarl Beowulf of Dorling, cobbling together what forces they could with short notice and without stripping the defences to the north.

Just like at Alnburgh, the Parthians were led by a royal of Belgrazahal, the Princess Aleesha, known as the Blood Rose. They again threw their slave soldiers towards the wall, but this time they were aided by significant soldiers of Partharia's client kingdoms - the hardy Zinhle from the blasted plains of the south east, the Lwazi and Thandiwe from the far south. More concerning were the large numbers of Parthian retinue forces, with cataphracts and horse archers as at Alburgh, but also the addition of Desert Lancers and, of course, the ubiquitous spear and pike blocks.

To go along with ladders and rams, the Parthians had built several siege towers that lumbered towards the wall, as their artillery support continuously fired carroballistae bolts at the defenders and their fortifications, supported by ranks of Parthian crossbows. As the Parthians moved up, they were subject to continuous counter-fire by Duval's own garrison artillery and archers, as well as heaps of boiling oil and the occasional Highland javelin. As the Parthians approached, they shifted fire to the main southern gate of Duval.

As at Alnburgh, the horse archers ringed the relief force, which formed a stationary crescent shaped defensive formation. Every approach by the horse archers was met with volleys of arrows from the relief force's archers or shot from its platoon of de Ufford musketeers. Eventually, the Desert Lancers charged the braced ranks, and the fight was joined in earnest. It was clear that the cataphracts would be next to move in, and the relief's reserve prepared to engage.

It was then, as her troops moved in both on Duval and the Galenthians in the field, that the Blood Rose let loose with a concerted burst of ice magic that blanketed the field with freezing wind; more importantly, it hit the main gate of Duval that combined with the heat from the carroballistae bolts caused it to crack and nearly break.

The cold began to grow, and fog came with it. Just before the fog envelopped all, Parthian retinue spears and others disgorged from the siege towers that had made their way to the walls, and cataphracts pressed in on the relief force alongside the now thinned desert lancers. The fog closed in, and then control was rendered irrelevant.

A series of near personal battles erupted all along the field and the walls, as the fight continued on desperately. Meanwhile, blasts of cold continued to be directed by the Blood Rose at Duval's gate. A member of Partharia's elite Eternal Guards was sent to kill Sir Bethany, but was intercepted by Sir Brennart and slain. Then, as suddenly as they came on and as at Alnburgh, the Parthians withdrew, leaving wretched heaps of slain and the gate destroyed. Though they had taken the wall, they abandoned it, with their siege towers still in place, and like Alnburgh, their casualties were extremely high.

The Galenthians had held, and retained their control over the two Great Fortresses. At Duval, Partharia withdrew to the north into fortified camps, and a corridor had been opened up from the mountainous terrain to the east, though harassed by Client Kingdom troops it may be a possible ingress route for more Galenthians. At Alnburgh, the enemy has thinned out its siege lines significantly and also moved into camps, and the route to the north remained open.

All along the line, it appears that the Parthians have shifted strategy. Their losses have been severe and it is clear that the Fortresses have proven to be much harder than they had anticipated. However, despite the stormy seas, their supplies continue to cross the Great Salt River, and with supplies may come more soldiers. Will the Galenthians be able to close off this path, or will they be doomed to endure occupation for much longer? It remains to be seen.

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