[RP Story] [CANON] The Battle along the Alba River


#1

Note: The first engagement in the Valkorian Civil War was one of great loss of life, and a testament to how bad terrain can completely overthrow the best laid plans of any general. The rebels, a force 20,000 men strong under the command of Titus Numitor, marched south to attack the ruling Emperor, Gaius Caesarius. Gaius led his army out into the field personally, and the two armies clashed along the Alba river.

Prelude
The mists of steamy Valkoria drifted across the river, while lights flickered and danced. Fireflies flitted their way about, dodging the birds who made one last attempt to eat before night fell.

More than birds were eating. Thousands of men were encamped upon either bank, the sound of two armies entrenched a never ending rush of noise. Cooks served up the rough soldiers rations of bread and olives, with a bit of oil for the lucky ones. The forests had been chopped apart in by fire seeking troops, and deep trenches and tall ramparts of wood lined the sides of the river. On the morrow, one side would have to cross.

Rifles lay stacked in neat bundles, swords and shields leaned against tents and stumps, cannons stood stoic in the dark. Weapons of all sorts, from the small 9 pounder weapons, to the 18 pound death dealers. Hundreds of legionaries, their armor begrimed, sat polishing weapons and equipment.

Gaius stood on a bluff overlooking the Alba, while behind him the loyal, royal legions prepared for the battle to come. As he gazed over the small body of flowing water, he could see the pacing sentries of the Northern Army. He wondered if Numitor was over there, likewise perusing the foe.

Numitor was not on the riverbank. He was directing the defense of the northern side of the river. He stood in his tent, a stream of aides dashing back and forth, carrying orders and information. Under his experienced command, the Northern legions were digging in, a host of men busy as bees.

While Gaius watched the river, just out of sight across from him, Numitor’s army dug trenches and erected palisades, furiously flinging dirt and wood about under the oncoming cover of night. Outnumbered, the only thing for the rebels to do was fight defensively until an opportunity arose to turn the tides of war.
Gaius listened. He almost thought he could hear the faint sounds of axes being plied. He shook his head, dismissing the thought. Why would I think MY army isn’t chopping trees?

THE BATTLE ALONG THE RIVER ALBA

Ch. 1

The night passed, with Numitor spending it watching his men prepare for the battle to come. In the morning, he drank a quick cup of the dwindling supply of the Ebongraspian coffee, donned his armor, and strode out of his tent, where he had managed to catch a quick nap.

He found his staff gathered together, waiting for him. After exchanging quick courtesies, they walked to a hill somewhat behind the front lies.

”Our men are dug in good and tight sir, it will take a lot to get across that river. When Caesar comes, we’ll be ready for him.”

Numitor looked out and about him. In quiet, coordinated lines, helmets just peeking over the top of the deep trenches, he could see thousands of soldiers, the red crests of the regular troops, the green inlaid armor of the skirmishers. Across the Alba, fog enveloped everything, obscuring the far bank. But he could hear muffled shouts, and harsh cries, spoken by the centurions and optios of the royal army.

”Well gentlemen, to your positions. You know what to do. Hold them. Like a wall.”

The officers saluted, and vanished to their positions.

Titus took the field glasses a waiting aide handed him. He looked again at the enemy bank. He could see vague outlines of men in armor, faces whipping through the fog. He gave a quick order to an aide. ”Remind General Mondarus that the enemy must not get too great a foothold, to keep them from getting pontoons across.” Clutching his jangling sword, the aide dashed off.

A few moments of anxious waiting later, the fog parted, to reveal the rough bridges being formed by the royal soldiers. The rebel troops stationed along the river let loose a withering fire, rifle bullets cutting into the attacking men. They ceased their building, and grabbed their rifles, returning fire. The distant thud of a cannon told Numitor that elsewhere, battle was beginning.

A royal battery was rolled forward, men heaving at the wheels, swiftly rotating the guns towards the smoke obscured defenders. Several of the artillery sets dropped, cut down by a swathe of lead, but the rest survived, and began firing, while a cohort began advancing into the river. They must have found the ford…

With a loud crash, a rebel cannon exploded, hit by a enemy cannon ball. Working like madmen, the royal battery poured shots into the now weakened rebel line, tossing foot soldiers into the air like rag dolls. The cohort marched forward, their normally precise line coming apart under a sharp, precise fire still rippling from Numitor’s side of the river. After sustaining numerous casualties, they fell back.

Titus felt more and more like an observer, a mere bystander, while the battle unfolded. Bodies continued to clog the river, as hammpered by the terrain, Gaius could only attempt to probe the line for weak spots. His losses were great, but he did find a few.

After hours of never ending din, while Numitor issues orders to his generals who sent his a stream of reports, Gaius thought that he had found what he needed, and withdrew. The cannons kept firing, but the lines of infantry fell back from the river, and then a blessed silence fell upon the battlefield.

Numitor at once called a meeting of his generals.

”Today was merely a test. Gaius now knows our weak spots, such as our center. If he commits to an attack, which he will, we will be hard pressed to hold the bank.”

”Then we will drive him back with the sword, my lord.” spoke a old Legate with a record for staunch courage in the face of odds. ”If the rifle can not hold him, and the cannon cannot hold him, then we must engage in a melee.”

Numitor agreed. ”Indeed. Our only concern then will be the confusion of recognizing friend from foe. Tell your men to not wear their crests. It should help.”

END OF THE FIRST DAY


#2

Ch. 2

The blackness of the night soon passed, filled with the sounds of moaning wounded, and scattered shots from the pickets exchanging fire. Both armies rested, and prepared for the real battle.

Numitor was jolted awake by a aide.

“Sir! SIR! General Mondarus sends his regards, and says that Caesar is crossing the river! Come quickly, please sir!”

Titus dressed quickly, grabbed his sword, and headed out of the tent. Masses of men were moving, while rifle fire grew steadily, gradually climbing into a roar. A centurion ran past, barking orders at his cohort.

“Close it up! Move, move!” A cannon ball whirled out of the morning mists, and slammed into the ground, spraying dirt about.

“Tell General Mondarus to hold them if he doesn’t want our center to fold. GO!” The aide dashed off.

Numitor hurriedly made his way to the command post. Clambering into the observation tower, and seizing a spy glass, he could see the whole battle spread out beneath him. The Tenth Legion could be seen in a long long along the riverbank on the right flank, a fusillade of accurate gunfire raking the Imperialists every step of the way. In the center, General Mondarus and his two legions were engaged in a back-and-forth battle with the central Caesarian attack column. The left was completely obscured in smoke, but he could see the flashes of gunfire that told him all was not lost.

Gaius had split his army, attacking at the three different fords, unable to flank because of the mountains. His troops marched in smart even lines, spread out, but still providing an excellent target. Despite the rents torn in their pristine lines, firing every 20 yards, and covered by a heavy artillery barrage, the foremost units charged the remaining distance to Numitor’s front line, and began wreaking havoc with their swords and bayoneted rifles. Locking shields wherever the terrain permitted, the units brawled, cohorts clashing into one another. As Numitor watched, issuing a stream of commands to bring up more troops, the Steel Guard crossed the river behind the main battle, their great bows glinting in the sunlight. A hail of gigantic arrows began falling among the Rebel line. After a few minutes of the hailstorm of puncturing bolts that fell from the sky, the Guard slung their bows, drew their swords, gigantic things almost 5 feet long, and broke into a silent rush, slamming into the weakened troops under Mondarus. They broke, the once firm line crumbling into scattered fighting segments and running men. The Guard unit pushed forward, threatening to split Numitor’s army in two, while the other soldiers of Gaius’ army followed in their wake. The Emperor had won the center of the river.

Numitor called up another messenger.

“Tell the Primus Pilus of the Tenth to rotate to his left, and strike where our center line was. If he does not the line collapses.” The messenger nodded, and started running.

A few harrowing minutes later, the right flank went silent, as the Tenth faked a charge that drove their opponents back across the river to regroup. Pivoting their rush, the legion swept down into the chaos that had been Numitor’s center.

The Guard rose to meet them with a roar, and the two elite units crashed into one another, like two giants. Elsewhere, the Rebel units on TItus’ left came charging out of the smoke, having likewise defeated their assailants. Caught between two fires, the Guard fell back in good formation, covering the retreat of Caesar’s other legions.

Numitor breathed a sight of relief, even as he mourned the dead, piled in countless corpses upon the bloodstained river. The once beautiful stream was clogged with bodies, and streaks of red ran through it. Blood covered everything, and the thousands of wounded screamed in agony. Hundreds more would never return to their homes, cut down by rifle bullet, cannon ball, or shining sword.

He received a Herald from the Royal Camp, and gave permission for both armies to care for their wounded. Despite the ‘victory’, the Rebel camp was not filled with joy. Neither were the leaders of the two armies, frustrated by the lack of maneuverability, which had caused so much death.

Gaius however, did not give up yet. His army prepared for the next engagement.

END OF THE SECOND DAY


#3

Ch. 3

Upon the morrow, battle was once again joined. This time however, the royal armies attacked in one straight line, moving with overwhelming power. Gaius punched straight through the tired center of Numitor’s army, and the line began to fold.

Numitor drew his sword, called in the flanks, and charged. He and Waveflame cut through to the center, leaving swathes of dead in their wake. In a snarling melee, shouting orders and hacking at the enemy line, the Lord salvaged the day, and managed to bring the remains of the center out in good order.

But Gaius had won the day. The river was his. As Numitor’s army fell back in front of him, carrying their lightly wounded, he tried to gather up his army, and finish off the rebels in one fell swoop.

But burdened by their losses, the Imperial army was slow to respond, and while they eventually began moving after Numitor, it was at a slow pace.

Capitalizing on this, the rebel lord consolidated his troops, and set up a ambush, which the royalists walked straight into…

Marching along at the center of the Steel Guard, Caesar was suddenly surprised by the sight of men pouring past him in a panic. He and his officers started grabbing men, turning them back forward.

“Why did you abandon your post soldier? Get back in line!” The leaders rallied their soldiers, shaming them into facing forward.

“What happened?” Gaius demanded of a bloodspattered legionnaire, panting for breath.

“The rebels…sire…attacked us…the vangaurd is in tatters.” The man gasped out.

Gaius whipped around to face his Guardsmen.“Move forward, stabilize the line. Dig in if possible. Leave 4 cohorts here.” He ordered the legate in charge.

“Aye sire.” The tough troopers moved forward, bows drawn.

Numitor had led the Tenth Legion back along the route which the retreating rebel army had taken. Falling suddenly upon the vanguard with cannon, rifle, and sword, he shattered the Imperial advance, halting it.

As Titus stood in the wreck of the Imperial advance troops, he heard a sudden shout.

A towering figure, 3 meters tall with wings sweeping back from his head, red cloak billowing behind him, burst from the trees. Behind him with a roar, charged the familiar soldiers of the Steelguard. They crashed into Numitor’s tired soldiers, who fought with tenacity but were no match for the rested Imperials, who fought alongside their Emperor.

Numitor clawed his way towards the golden figure, but could not draw near for the press of men. For a moment however, he stared straight into the eyes of the blood spattered Caesar, who looked at him without emotion, and continued slicing his way through the crumpling rebels.

”Fall back!! FALL BACK!”

Numitor and the Tenth legion retreated, returning to the rest of their army.

END OF THE THIRD DAY

Finishing notes:
Gaius and his army ceased their advance, and likewise fell back to rest and rebuild. The war continued several months later, but the soldiers soon had had enough of killing. Their reluctance to continue fighting each other forced Numitor and Caesar into an uneasy truce, allowing the Emperor to turn and fight the real threat, that of Lucius Ultorii.

@staff it is finished.


#4