1757: The Hasty War of Kryst

In 1757, a battered freighter, flying a flag of convenience from the Inishcol Archipeligo landed at Dunport, and to the surprise of the people of Dunport, a host of infantry marched off. At their head was Caerten Kelrym Kee, and he declared himself commander of the Volunteer Brigade of Toulmore, pledged to serve Alykinder and his cause.

Caerten Kee was a Toulmorese patriot. A century ago, Toulmore had been partitioned by Craesil, Maer Braech, and Coftyr, and used as a pawn in the balance of power between them. Toulmorese independence movements had since not gained much in the way of success before succumbing to internal dissent and quashing at the hands of the other nations. The Toulmorese longed to rule themselves.

The political message of Principles resounded strongly with the Toulmorese, who saw their own rulers as weak or scheming, and the rulers of the other three kingdoms as strong and conspiring to keep them down. Where a Tokish reader might have taken gentle exception to some of Alykinder’s characterizations of the First Families, a Toulmorese reader was likely to endorse it wholesale.

Caerten Kee informed a curious and somewhat skeptical Alykinder that his Brigade was there solely to serve his causes, in whatever way Alykinder saw fit. “Because,” as Kee said, “In time you will recognize that the soldier of Toulmore is already sworn to your cause, and you will in turn come to free him from his oppressors.” The Toulmore Volunteer Brigade was posted to the border with Kryst, where Alykinder could watch them away from their most obvious enemies.

Since the Kryst invasion that had culminated in the Miracle of Skar, Krystian diplomats had been lobbying the parliament and king of Tok hard for a return of some of their territory. An inter-clan marriage between the sept-clans of the ruling families of Tok and Kryst was arranged, and as part of this strategic marriage, several large regions of land and some border city-states were transferred back to Kryst.

The agreement was unpopular in both Kryst and Tok. The agreement strengthened a particularly unpleasant family and their political faction in Kryst, and it was seen as a capitulation of the gains of Tok in the previous war. Alykinder’s political faction loudly decried it as more evidence of the realpolitik attitudes of the First Families. The attitude was particularly strong in the army of Tok, by now largely populated by officers sympathetic to the successful Alykinder.

If one were to read only the official messages of the court and government during that period, it would seem as if Tok and Kryst had never been closer. But on the dusty desert border between the two nations, armies massed. The posting of the Toulmoure Volunteer Brigade had led to an escalation of forces in the region, and the regional commanders of Kryst were convinced that the handover from Tok was a cover to launch armies from within Kryst territory.

The exact circumstances surrounding the start of the war between Tok and Kryst remain mysterious. Official Tokish military history says that a routine patrol was ambushed by Kryst’s famed “Sand Stalker” brigade, and Kryst insists that a Tokish Army suddenly advanced onto an oasis well inside Kryst’s borders. Regardless, the war seems to have begun near Guye Oasis on 3/14/57. Neither side seems to have been completely prepared for the war, and confusion reigned on both sides for the first two weeks. Political delegations in both capitals refused to accept reports of fighting in the trackless wastes of the desert, and the marriage ceremony took place in Bul Maren, even as artillery shells fell across the border.

Alykinder had been in Skar when the war began, and did not arrive in the theater until the sixteenth day of fighting. He set up GHQ atop a nameless mesa on the Tokish side of the border, cut off communications with Bul Maren, and announced that the new objective was the complete subjugation of the army of Kryst. The strategy would revolve around isolating the units of regulars operating in the forward area from their supplies and reinforcements, which were still being brought up.

It was the first campaign where Alykinder made extensive use of propaganda. Aircraft (including airships) dropped leaflets on the city-states whose loyalty to the ruling clans of Kryst was tentative, with the result that many militia units were significantly delayed in their call-ups, as political issues clouded their command. The militia of Kryst were unwilling to be rushed to the front lines to defend a political class they were growing to despise.

As a military campaign, the Kryst War was not the overwhelming victory of the war with Lower Barro. The Kryst regulars were not willing to dig into entrenchments or fortifications, but ranged widely across stretches of desert familiar to them. Alykinder could bypass the worst of the desert with convoys of well-protected airships, but his airheads were exposed and only through heroic efforts of mutual support did they avoid being drawn out and picked apart.

What ended the resistance of the army of Kryst was a complete shortage of munitions. Airmobile Marines severed their supply lines and raided their supply caches. The militia was stymied from rallying to the aid of the regulars. Only one unit—the infamous Sand Stalker Brigade—never surrendered, but marched back to their home city at the end of the war, heads high, proud that they had never surrendered their arms.

The unpopular ruling clan of Kryst were forced into exile. In their place, Alykinder arranged for a coalition of noble families. Kryst became a republic of ruling clans, rather than a monarchy. But a lasting truce between Kryst and Tok was cemented into place, and the Army of Tok learned from the desert regiments of Kryst, even as Kryst created its first Airmobile Corps.

Next: The Republic of Tok