24.20 The Battle of the Lakeside Promenade.
During the month of Paglost 1236 the Springdalians launched an audacious military action against their long-time enemies, the city of Thakria. Since the lifting of the divine peace many years prior the wise had spoken of an impending invasion by the Springdalians - to avenge the humiliations of past conquests at the hands of the Thakrians, to demonstrate the turnaround in their fortunes and establish in everyone's mind the new order in Avalon: with Springdale firmly on top of all potential threats. Prince Orinoko and Field Marshall Elminster were the masterminds behind the Paglost action, both with long memories, both with points to prove, both a desire to serve up an effective first strike against the Thakrians.
The expected 'grand invasion' of the early 13th century did not happen and Springdale, mindful of threats from other cities, chose to bide their time and watch the unfolding border conflicts between her neighbours rather than launch any significant warfare of their own. It was not until Paglost in the year 1236 that Springdale chose to make their first significant move, escalating the 'phoney war' into a genuine and bloody conflict. Mustering some five thousand troops - four army corps of legionnaires - the Springdalians marched under cover of night through the villages and fields of the northern plains 'til they reached the secret tunnel under the Moonstone Lake.
Splitting up their corps into smaller brigades to pass through the tunnel, the well-equipped Springdalians entered the tunnel and made their way towards the relatively modest Thakrian fortifications protecting the 'underlake' entry point. The fortifications were not raised but posed an obstacle nonetheless. Here, for the first time in Avalon's modern history, the ethereal winds of the Prophets Guild under the command of Kaprika the Oracle were brought into play. Weeks of preparations had gathered a potent ethereal force under Kaprika's command and finally she unleashed against the enemy. The fortifications and fixed defences were blasted aside by the unleashed tempest and the Springdalian attack force - unscathed - continued through the tunnel and emerged presently within the walls of Thakria itself.
The City of Miracles was mostly slumbering, few citizens were on the streets. Springdale arranged their formations, distributed their equipment (mortar bombs, catapults, battering rams, archers, etc) and under the direct command of Orinoko and Elminister launched a two-pronged offensive aiming to cause the maximum damage to the Thakrian military and resources as possible. Largely unprepared and in a mediocre defensive layout, the exposed Thakrian legions were few and quickly dispatched. The Springdalians kept away from any major concentration of Thakrian fortification and instead targetted vulnerable commodity sheds, barracks and ill-defended points around the Lakeside quarter of the city. A mood of euphoria was prevalent in the Springdalian camp as they romped through the Thakrian streets causing destruction wheresoever they aimed their deadly raids.
At last, however, the Thakrian nobility were roused and stepped into the fray. Prince Mohrion was first to attempt a fight back, albeit smallscale and serving to escalate the bloodshed; enough to cause the Springdalians to step up the pace of their destruction-tactics. Sonja, guildmistress of the Warlocks, took charge of the broader defence of the realm. Springdale had not committed forces in any great number and despite tactical fraility and the Prince's enforced absence, Sonja and Achelous of the Loremasters were able to throw enough resources against the invading parties to slay them all. Individually Orinoko, Elminster and supporters competed valiantly to prolong the battle but by day's end five thousand Springdalians had perished on the streets of Thakria.
The Springdalian leaders and the Mercinaen Princess returned to their respective cities and - by this time - the Thakrian Prince Mohrion had returned to receive report of Sonja, Achelous and the other Thakrian citizens having successfully defended the homeland. Much, no doubt, had been learned by this - the first strike against a city's homesoil in the era of modern warfare. The Thakrian casualties greatly outnumbered the Springdalians, such was their initial disorganised and their tactically naive counterattack; but none can argue they failed to show great courage and, in the end, material damage inflicted on Thakria was minor.
Who won the conflict, then? Who came out on top? It is difficult to say. The Springdalians were able to afford the modest invasion force, with great opportunity but little risk; and they were certainly able to inflict more casualities and cost the Thakrians more resources than they lost themselves. But there is little doubt the strike was a significant effort and one the Springdalian leadership might have hoped would lead to a greater loss of Thakrian life, or a richer plunder to take back to the Springdalian coffers. As it stands, the Springdale military command learned a little about the techniques of invasion and the Thakrians learned much about the weakpoints in their defensive setup; not to mention benefitting from the morale boost of vanquishing enemy invaders from the streets of their homeland.
In short: an exchange that promised more than actually transpired with both Springdale and Thakria suffering minor losses and gaining valuable battlefield experience. Little more can be said, save the flames of war have been fanned by the first true Springdalian aggression - and whatever future conflagrations may happen between the two cities, it was here in the "Battle of the Lakeside Promenade" during Paglost 1236 that the fuse was lit once again.
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