War of the Casks
|War of the Casks|
|Part of War of Lost Brothers (until 1657)|
|Nova England||Keltia Command|| Sea-Reavers
A peripheral campaign within the War of Lost Brothers that continued past the demise of the global conflict, what began as a mere looting expedition to the Brettish Isles grew to become the last major campaign of the world war before subsiding into a persistent armed confrontation on the high seas between Nova England and Shireroth, with the latter gradually losing control over its armed auxiliaries after Burgrave Zinkgraven turned rogue and attempted to continue the war against Nova England as a private venture.
Since 22 Muulantooqu 1653 AN, following the commencement of the War of Lost Brothers, thirty-nine regiments of auxiliaries had been earmarked by the Imperial Government for the opening up of a Keltian Front against the USSO member states of that continent. However, with Natopia delaying its entry into the war, and the Shirerithian navy struggling to gain supremacy at sea, the means of delivering the force to the hostile shores of Keltia was not readily available.
That situation changed in late 1654 with the eruption of a long dormant volcano in the Brettish Isles which unleashed a cataclysm upon the Brettish Kingdom, plunging it into a localised dark age as pyroclastic clouds scorched the land and blotted out the sun. This natural disaster effectively terminated the existence of the Brettish Kingdom in its home islands, a surviving remnant of the population would subsequently evacuate to the Skerry Isles and establish the so-called Confederacy of the Coast. While many nations rushed to offer humanitarian assistance to the Brettish government, the Shirerithians under newly elected Steward Zinkgraven saw an opportunity to profit from the destruction of a hostile foe.
The Imperial Republic firstly dispatched commerce raiders, typically gravships such as the IRS Medusa, to attack Jingdaoese and USSO flagged vessels participating in the relief effort, whilst concurrently issuing a blanket authorisation to the Shirerithian fishing fleets to enter Brettish and Nova English waters to plunder the fish stocks of the suddenly depopulated islands. The fishermen were also encouraged to land on the enemy shores wherever circumstances permitted, in order to loot abandoned settlements and to snatch up any straggling bands of refugees as might be sighted upon those desolate shores.
This new Shirerithian militancy in the Great Western Sea encouraged Nova England to begin building up its maritime defences, beginning with the establishment of a Fisheries Protection Group and culminating in the reactivation of the Nova English Navy along with elaborate preparations for coastal defences.
For the Imperial Government, mindful of the overstretch affecting the Imperial Navy, the challenge posed by the Nova English presented an opportunity. Beginning with the putting of small detachments of armed auxiliaries aboard trawlers heading for Brettish waters, it was but a small step to arming the trawlers themselves and using the boats as platforms from which to conduct raids.
In early 1655, whilst the gravship Medusa continued to hunt Jingdaoese and Nova English merchant ships in the Great Western Sea, the Shirerithians began operations to capture and fortify an obscure and abandoned Brettish island, scarcely 13km in length but mountainous and craggy, which they subsequently renamed as New Blackstone after making appropriate votive offerings including the sacrifice of prisoners. The cramped island would become a home away from home for these armed fishermen and their auxiliary complement - known as Sea-Reavers by their victims. The island would be offered to the Royal Iron Company as a compensation for the lordship of Blackstone, which the company had lost to Jingdao before the onset of the present war. In the meantime, with the Sea-Reavers calling it home, New Blackstone became the venue for Shireroth's first off-shore slave market.
The Great Enterprise of Keltia
One of the largest invasion fleets of modern history assembled off the Warring Isles, where it managed to become snarled in its own logistical, administrative, and political problems before even setting sight on the Nova English mainland.
As the conflict continued both sides found that their stockpiles of munitions, particularly missiles and precision-guided weapons, dwindled down far ahead of their expectations and planning. Both the Nova English, noted for their ability to improvise under dire circumstances, and the Shirerithians, who were infamous for their enthusiasm in turning just about anything into a weapon, found ways to continue striking at each other as their armouries emptied.
Rumour has it that, during the War of the Casks, Landfara car-frames, packed with TNT and fitted with a descent parachute, were pushed out of the back of cargo transports onto Shirerithian positions in the Warring Isles after the NERAF ran out of conventional munitions. The story is probably apocryphal.
The Zinkgraven Schism
Following Burgrave Zinkgraven's refusal of the summons to return to Shirekeep in 1657 he took shelter amongst the encampments of the Sea-Reavers established in the Warring Isles, particularly around the settlement of Hempton. This act caused a schism in Keltia Command and the forces assembled for the Great Enterprise of Keltia, with the Imperial Navy and bureaucracy being eager to prove their loyalty to the new Steward, the Babkhi mercenaries who were eager for their promised pay, and the Sea-Reavers who feared that the new government might seek to negotiate a truce and end their burgeoning piratical careers. The result of this stand-off was, predictably, that on 05.V.1658 the Imperial Forces now more or less under the influence of the ambitious Kalirion Prefect of New Blackstone, Jeremiah Avon-El, turned upon its former proxies and unleashed a merciless aerial and naval bombardment after which the Babkhi were promised their arrears of pay if they would go ashore butcher every Sea-Reaver they found and bring out Zinkgraven alive so that he could be brought to Shirekeep in a cage for the Steward's delectation.
- Prefect Jeremiah Avon-El, Count of the English Shore
- Grand Admiral Tiberius Homburg, C-in-C (Western Armada),
- Magister Equitum (brevet) Flavius Magnus, Loyalist Forces Ashore
- Admiral Ryabin Lord Chryse, Aurangzeb Banner Group (TF-100)
- Admiral Lucius Globus, Noor Banner Group (TF-101)
- Rear Admiral Pierre Claesson, TF 100 Battleship Divison
- Rear Admiral Aquila Bäcker, TF 100 Amphibious Division
- Rear Admiral Gotthilf Kneib, TF 101 Carrier Division
- Rear Admiral Chlodulf Halle, TF 101 Reserve Division
- Burgrave Waldemar Zinkgraven, Magister-Generalissimus (self-declared)
- Palatine Legate Julius Gerard, Ex-Commander of the Scholae Palatinae, deputy to Zinkgraven
- Captain-General Tobias Callaghan, Commander of the Sea-Reavers
- Palatine Legate Lucienne Aluredes, Commander of Zinkgraven's Honour Guard
- Hans Tarjeisson, Representative of the Kontractniki
- Kriemhild Gaiana, Notably cruel member of the Honour Guard
- Roy Periwinkle, Journalist and hostage