Tales from a Far Land. An Account of the Invasion of Byzarbia, 1747
By Private Rüdiger Lamm, von Donovan’s Savage Swans
23rd April 1747: It is now a week since the momentous victory over the villainous Grenoussians. While our leaders stay cosseted within the walls deciding the future, we have spent our time bringing comfort to both our camp and to the local widows, of which there are many. My father, though a veteran of many campaigns, frowns upon such behaviour but I find it hard to live up to his expectations.
But today was a day for celebration. I was accompanying our native warriors on their daily patrols, for they are a great source of interest to both the local population and to other troops within our army, when Captain Ewald was much taken aback to hear war cries in the woods to our rear. As our own warriors took up cry in response they were greeted by dozens of fellow Jamiroquois rushing towards them. And in their midst was Jaegermeistersergeant Hans Gretal of our Altefritzenburg Jaeger Korps. I had heard much good said of this man but believed him still in the Colonies leading groups of warriors against the enemies of his Brittannic Majesty. Unbeknownst to us our Burggraf had requested his return and he had with forethought brought more natives to fight for our cause.
But that was not the best of our news. As the celebration faded we heard the thunder of hooves as the second squadron of our Legion Uhlans cantered towards us, Major Lansritter at their head and their standard billowing in the wind. As he dismounted and greeted Captain Ewald we learnt that having completed their work, and finding the woods and hills of the northern Colonies not felicitous to mounted warfare, they had returned as well. They had wished to arrive in time for the recent battles but that foul storm that had wrought such havoc on our own fleet and blown them days off course and only now had they found our location and joined us. It was a joyful reunion as we returned to our camp and the Burggraf himself came amongst us to greet them.
27th April 1747: The patrols continue but now the locals appear to tire of our presence for we reduce their food and grain stocks and I fear resentment is growing. The Oberstgeneral has issued strict orders against looting and two of my fellows face the lash on the morrow.
1st May 1747: News at last. The Grenoussian mercenary force, or at least those other than the untrustworthy ones who turned coat at the end, is rumoured to have taken to sea and with remnants of the regular army fled to far Byzarbia and it is rumoured that we will follow them there. The Burggraf, on advice from the Oberstgeneral has decided to set sail with our whole force and by a short detour reinforce our contingent with the artillery train before the campaign begins. Messengers have already been sent ahead to Altefritzenburg to summon the artillery and we have again employed the ships of Captain Krik to transport us, first to our home port and then on to the East where we will make juncture with the invasion fleet.
I must admit to some trepidation. We have heard many tales of the riches to be had in the East but also of the corsairs who stalk the coasts, and of the all powerful Sultans who rule rich kingdoms with fear and steel.
11th May 1747: Port of Biergut. Our voyage from Grenouisse in four fine ships was uneventful. The storms that stalked and near destroyed us on our outward voyage left us in peace. We had hoped to be given leave to go ashore once in port but it seems only one ship will berth to take aboard the artillery and we will set sail again with the dawn tide. We are all still in good temper but there are rumours that the Jamiroquois grow uneasy at being at sea, more so those that have just arrived after their own long voyage and are still unaccustomed to our routines and culture.
18th May 1747: We have been at sea now a week. The winds have favoured us and as we head further south the sky has cleared and the sun begins to beat down upon our decks and brows. Though we are allocated a turn each day above deck, the atmosphere below begins to try tempers. It is rumoured two Jamiroquois were yesterday put to death for attacking and gravely wounding an officer. My father and other veterans tell tales of their long voyage to the Colonies which seem to make our current complaints pale, but I fear it is the heat that grieves us now.
20th may 1747: Land. Captain Krik has brought us to a small port which has bare the depth to take our ships but the tides favoured us and today we will disembark to regain our strength and composure.
21st May 1747: Although the town and land here are poor I have seen such wonders of people, treasures and animals as I fear words cannot recount. Camels, such odorous and foul tempered beasts, monkeys, snakes that bring death with but one bite. And towards dusk we saw our first elephant. Major Huffington, schooled in the classics, recounted tales of these beasts in battle in time passed, much to the joy of all present. This East is truly a place of wonders and we but view its poorer realms. If the tales of Byzarbia are true we have much to look forward to!
22rd May 1747: At Sea. Southbound again as we apparently follow the coast. The shore break has rejuvenated us all and it is with pride that I say there were no altercations with the local people.
23rd May 1747: On my deck break today I heard the lookout atop the mast cry out and following his direction I too saw three ships on the horizon. They appeared to be closing with us but we know not to what end. As we bedded down the last of those returning from the deck reported the ships had closed and that the crew were making preparations for action. It seems we are now to serve as marines!
24th May 1747: My first action at sea. And I hope my last. The three ships bore corsairs, bent on pillage and destruction. Though not heavily gunned they relied on closing and boarding to take their prize intact. It was this that was to be our saving for though we appeared to be not heavily armed they expected our cargo to be of goods and not veteran soldiers! Our captains kept us below deck until the enemy were abut to board and then at a word we rushed to the decks and began pouring a deadly fire into the enemy ships, scattering their boarding parties before grapples were laid. But the toll was heavy as their cannon raked our starboard and their own fire brought carnage to our now crowded decks. Finding their prey had more teeth than expected they soon withdrew and we began to count our cost. Of the Legion, we lost twelve dead and twice as many wounded, and I fear many of those will find a watery grave. The other two ships faired better but the horses below deck were savaged by the enemy cannon and then their own panic, with two Uhlan troopers trampled to death as they fought to calm them. I pray we make land again soon for I do not wish to experience the like again… [/wpcol_1third] [wpcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]
27th May 1747:Repairs have progressed apace and our ships are now fully seaworthy again. My fears for our wounded were true and all but five have succumbed to their wounds.
28th May 1747: Land! Throughout the day we drew closer to the coast before finding a natural harbour that would take our ships and allow us to disembark. The nearby village, poor but well fed by its fishing trade, greeted us with favour and an old Eastern crewman recounted our battle with the Corsairs which seemed to invoke some little worry amongst them. And it seems this is where we are to stay for some time as the Burggraf and Oberstgeneral have set up camp south of the village and patrols have been sent out.
30th May 1747: Our camp is now secure. There was little in the way of wood to build a palisade but tight woven baskets used by the villagers when packed with sand and clay helped form a decent barrier and provide some protection. The work in the heat was hard though and a good few men succumbed during the day.
1st June 1747: A messenger arrived today. I caught but a glimpse of his colourful apparel and shining armour but he was resplendent as he entered the Burggraf’s tent. He stayed cosseted for near an hour and it was with great interest that we then saw aides stream from the tent and call to arms the Uhlans and ourselves, the Legion Musketeers. Within an hour we were ready to march and the Jamiroquois lead the way. Rumour soon bled its way down to the ranks and it appears we are called to the aide of the Sultan of K’ha’Ramel who, hearing of our landing, sent message to summon us to his aid as a large force from the neighbouring Sultanate is laying siege to his winter palace. We are to join a relief force nearby and come to his aid!
2nd June 1747: We now lie in camp overlooking the palace. It is well fortified but there is a large camp surrounding it on all sides. We have joined a regular unit of the Sultan’s army, the Regiment d’Chameau under Major Jean Pique Lucard, who has served with the Sultan for many years and has been training his troops in the methods of civilised warfare. To our right we can see the massed cavalry of the Sultan, armed with lance and bow. The enemy seem to ignore our presence but their lack of scouting would imply they do not know of our presence yet. I expect we will attack with the dawn.
3rd June 1747: We sleep tonight in the gardens of the palace! The Sultan’s guards ensure we do not wreak havoc upon the grounds for despite our military efficiency we must still dig latrines! The days battle went very well for as I predicted the enemy were taken by surprise. Our natives led the way and brought a savage awaking to the sleeping besiegers. As both our Uhlans and the Sultan’s cavalry swept all before them, the Legion and Regiment d’Chameau marched resolutely forward only stopping to deliver volley after volley as we drove all before us. From within the Palace the Royal Guard poured arrows into the fleeing enemy and may hundreds of them fell in the ensuing chaos. As the Legion was called to a halt, the enemy clearly routed, we noticed Major Lucard struggle to maintain order in his ranks as his men were eager to join the pursuit and massacre then underway by the Sultan’s mounted troops.
4th June 1747: Today we are rich men! The Sultan, His Exalted Highness the Pasha Sultan Abdul Seyfi of K’ha’Ramel, Guardian of the Blood Red Moon and Protector of the Sacred Camel and Supreme Commander of the Ever Invincible Army, to give him his full title, rewarded us all for lifting the siege upon his Palace and we ach now carry more pay earned in a single day than most have earned in the military careers! The Sultan appears a strange man. Both he and his subjects hold the camel to be sacred. They will not ride them into battle, as we hear some do, for fear they will bring harm to them. And we witnessed in yesterdays action that although they will close to combat such troops mounted on them, they will not fire, bow, musket or cannon, at them for the harm that must do! The Sultan called us all to parade before him on the lands outside the Palace. The enemy camp and bodies had been cleared. We paraded flanked on either side by the Sultan’s own troops. The Sultan appeared accompanied by two eunuchs and a single young camel. This, I was to learn from our guide was The Chosen One, named Cleopatra, and the current favourite of the Sultan’s Harem! I did want to pursue questioning our guide for fear of the answers I would receive! But it was a fine parade and the gifts bestowed led us to make allowance for the strangeness of the local customs…
12th June 1747: We are now in quarters in the main port of K’ha’Ramel. After the great parade we marched back to join the rest of our forces, who expressed some great disappointment at having been excluded from our expedition and its subsequent rewards. We had expected to re-embark but orders came for us to march southwards along the coast to the Sultan’s capitalThe tales of the local customs continue to bewilder us, the Sultan’s Chosen One being the subject of much debate amongst the troops. The Burggraf and the Von Donovan have spent much time at the main palace in consultation with the Sultan and his advisors and we await news of their counsel.
14th June 1747: Just before midday we were called to arms by our lookouts in the Port. The corsair ships who had assailed us on our voyage South were seen sailing round the headland. The whole Legion sped to the quayside and prepared to repel the enemy. The artillery was also deployed. As we awaited broadsides and the ensuing assault the Sultan’s chief advisor appeared along with Major Huffington. It appears these pirates are the Corsairs of the Purple Sash under their captain, Korku Korsan Parlak ?öhret O?lu, and constitute the Sultan’s navy! These too are to be our allies but many of the Legion have little faith in them and Major Huffington has ordered that we do not fraternise with them, either on duty or not.
18th June 1747: Our course of action is now set. After several tense days in port where every encounter with the corsairs led to bloodshed, we have boarded our ships again. Late last night we were briefed by Major Huffington and despite misgivings from many, the Sultan and his army are to join us in the great endeavor in Byzarbia. Yesterday a sloop arrived in port from General E Pickled of the Gateway Alliance who has been charged to command the invasion. We are to embark for the final stage of our travels and sail south to rendezvous with the main fleet prior to the invasion.
1st July 1747: Tomorrow we join the great fleet. The invasion is to begin!