Sails & Sabres
Battle of Red Sand
The Battle of Red Sand
Thirty years ago the Council of Wisemen and King Lambard II agreed to seize the southern port city of South Landing as a territory of Kardam. Lambard had watched for years as riches flowed north from the jungles to the fat coffers of his northern neighbor. Although Osil has never been an enemy of Kardam in the past, the differences in the wealth of the two peoples have been increasing for generations.
Lambard, and many of his supporters, believed this was because the kards had been fighting off the southlanders for as long as horsemen had been riding the southern plains. They saw the paradise of South Landing for what it was, an isolated pocket of northern civilization in the middle of a war zone. A war between tribes, between monsters and men, between predator and prey.
The south was a place for warriors not oslander moneychangers. They sent their ships around kard shores, but sent no armies to defend their outpost. That task fell to the cavalry. If they were not keeping pressure on the southies, the tribes would slaughter the whole city in weeks. It was time for Kardam to get its due. So the King convinced the Council that they should annex South Landing for Kardam, by force if necessary.
The plans were drawn up, and the Horselords were informed to prepare troops to lend aid to the cause. What happened then is considered a great betrayal in the eyes of the kard people. When Lambard went to his elven ambassadors with his plan, asking for their assistance as Kard Kings had done for generations when preparing for battle, they told him the plan was foolish. A waste of resources with a very great and unnecessary risk attached.
The elves refused to lend their aid. This had not happened in living memory, it was an utter disaster that threatened to scrap the entire plan. Unfortunately, Lambard and his circle’s war rousing had done a very good job at enlisting popular support for the annexation. He decided to march without the elves.
The kard army, led by Lambard II himself, arrived to the north of the city, sending couriers to deliver the king’s demand that South Landing bow to Kard rule, casting out oslander authority. Predictably, the city leadership laughed and carried-on with business. Then the fighting began.
A small force of Ridge Riders charged down the shoreline by night, easily breaching the city perimeter and the confused watchmen there. Within thirty minutes, the docks of the city were burning into the ocean. The horsemen retreated back up the shoreline when the militia began fighting back in earnest, causing minor losses. South Landing now had no way to land vessels in the city.
The shock took two days to wear-off. Kardam? Attacking Osil? Why? How? the questions flew, the outrage was white hot. There were few soldiers in the city, not nearly enough to fend off a mounted army. With reinforcements so far away, and even then no docks to land them on, the Captain of the Guard suggested surrender. After all, the issue would be sorted out by the Courts, restitution would be granted. Kardam would not risk a full war with Osil, they’d lose in a few weeks.
The militia certainly liked the idea. The governor and his merchant circle, though, did not. Neither did public sentiment, once the governor announced that the captain of the guard was refusing to fight. He’d meant to shame the militia into action, but ended-up causing mass hysteria. There was a brief spat of looting and a rush to pack things until everyone realized there was no place to go except the jungle.
Many started to come around to the idea of temporary surrender, despite the costs it would surely bring. Not so for the seedy side of the city.
Trapped on shore when the docks burned, Captain Athelstan “Roaring” Harrington was among several pirates that found themselves or their crews in the middle of a dangerous game of chicken.
With time running out before the deadline the kards had give them to comply, Harrington began whipping-up his crew, and the other sailors, pirate and merchantman alike, into a rebellion of sorts. Most of the population loved this place because of the freedom, the distinct brand of society it provided that was so different from anything Kardam or Osil could ever offer.
After this, Osil would just send an army to occupy the city, and that was too much authority in one place. He convinced the sailors, and even many locals, that they had to make a stand, to fight for the freedom to do whatever the hell they wanted. It was time to make South Landing their own.
The governor wasn’t a fan of his rhetoric, but since it meant defending the city with that many more willing and reasonably capable fighters, Captain Harrington was allowed to continue his campaign, and was even offered a title in the militia (which he declined).
They used the guides from Kilby Keel as scouts, and the pirates weren’t about to fight clean. Traps and obstacles were placed all around the city by night, weapons were distributed, and they prepared themselves as best the could until the deadline came to pass. No surrender was offered.
The next morning, the guides reported the Kards were on the move. Harrington and the rag-tag defenders of South Landing he’d cobbled together, marched out to meet them. They lay in wait for the advancing army, and when the horsemen spotted the ambush, battle was joined.
Unfortunately, the kards were familiar enough with southlander tactics that they weren’t caught off guard too badly. They reacted quickly and efficiently mounted their counter assault. Losses were heavy on both sides for a time, but the tide was turning back to the mounted force’s advantage at an alarming pace.
That’s when Roaring Harrington became immortal. He and a shock force of experienced pirates, lifetime killers you could say, charged straight for King Lambard II and his intimidating circle of Honor Guard. When the sand stopped flying on that beach a few miles north of Ezrepellian, the defenders had been badly wounded, but the Kards were in full retreat. The King had suffered a grievous wound, his lieutenants were half-dead, and the army was in disarray as it became split and staggered away in different directions.
Lambard was no longer capable of leading his war, and the surprising response from South Landing’s residents, though not a trained army, was not something they had prepared for. The King’s inner circle opted to get him back to Caelidon for healing rather than press another attack as wounded as they were.
Many hundreds had died in the battle, and the beach was littered with corpses and bloodstains. That day became known as the Battle of Red Sand, and the kard army limped back home without further incident. The city itself still had to rebuild the dock, and they’d just lost many of the strongest men to the fighting. Those surviving the battle returned with Athelstan’s body, for his entire shock force had been killed assaulting the king, and announced that he had not shed blood for the Crown, or for the Seven, or even for the people of Osil. They’d fought and died for the people of Ezrepellian, for the freedom that city meant.
The governor was ousted, and sent sailing as soon as the docks were rebuilt, with a sign around his neck instructing him and the King of Osil not to return.
Ezrepellian has come into its own since the Battle of Red Sand. Adopting the ancient name of the city in place of the modern title South Landing, the disparate and independently-minded powers of the city united to form a loose government of their own and cast aside all ties with their former homelands in the north. The decision was not welcomed by all, and in the aftermath a fair number of nobles and the more risk-averse merchants quit the port and returned home to Osil, Kardam, the Eastern Clanholds, and Benin.
Those that remained witnessed weal and woe. While they no longer sent chests of tribute overseas, they no longer benefited from the close relationships of the Oslander Navy and Kard cavalry. After some time, the tribal southlanders became aware of this weakness and exploited it. Only shear luck, the resident southlander population, and a healthy debt to mercenaries saved the city from ruin.
They are still a fledgling city-state, fraught with internal division, but resolutely opposed to surrendering the freedoms the port is famous for. It remains an almost lawless Mecca of Mercantilism, where greed and pleasure are virtues and quick & dirty is the mantra. Contrary to many predictions following its independence, travel to and from Ezrepellian has increased, rather than fallen off. Treasure hunters care little for flags.