Hostilities broke out on 7/1/1746. That afternoon, Alykinder’s 1st Provisional Littoral Brigade stormed into the harbor at Paqu like a mob of pirates—setting demolition charges on the hulls of troopships and cruisers, destroying stockpiles of ammo and fuel, and then retreating into the sunset in their motley band of converted fishing trawlers and tramp steamers. The Craesil timetable for the invasion of Tok was delayed by a week, then two, then four as Alykinder’s Littoral Brigades ravaged the coast, engaging in everything from sabotaging railroad viaducts to stopping fishermen for their ships. Bor’s essays from this campaign were later collected into a book called “The Lake Raiders”, and it was a bestseller. Bor had been there for the raid on Paqu, as well as the taking of the Craesillian submarine U-9. In one chapter was a flattering and largely true depiction of Alykinder, who ran the campaign while fighting a malarial outbreak.
Duke Icho did not read Bor, but he could follow a map, and he noted with concern that Alykinder’s sacrificial force was in real danger of beating his own Imperial Regiment to investing the lakeside capital of Craesil. He ordered Alykinder to consolidate his gains. Alykinder ignored the order. The capital of Craesil was a massive fortress town, and had been since the earliest days of the Quar. The Citadel sat on a marshy promontory, whose causeway was studded with gun emplacements and now that a naval invasion was a real possibility, the lakeward side was reinforced as well. After an extensive survey of the area, Alykinder drafted his plan of attack. Plan Cobalt was a gamble, but one whose payoff would be twofold—investing the capital of Craesil for a siege (typically a checkmating move) and publicly snubbing Duke Icho.
View from Alykinder’s field HQ looking east. The small valley here just east of the HQ held a field hospital where Alykinder spent some time recovering and directing the effort. Photo courtesy of the author.
Alykinder saw diminishing returns from continued dispersed raids on the coast. He collected his Littoral Brigades into a single body, and attacked the Citadel at the causeway. Years later, Alykinder would express misgivings with this operation, saying that if he had to do it again, he would not have chosen a single costly assault straight into such powerful fortifications. It was one of his bloodiest operations in terms of casualties, as the makeshift navy lacked armor and the Craesilian gunners were veterans and prepared. But the Dunporters who stormed the casemates at the causeway would speak proudly of it years later, declaring that the alternative would have been to die in blast shelters in the trenches around Dunport.
Political negotiations in Bul Maren concluded the war less than two weeks later. Alykinder’s star was on the rise in Tok.
Next: The False War