Time on My Hands Chapter 53 - 386-387 CE: Dakar Massacre

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Time on My Hands

Chapter 53: 386-387 CE: Dakar Massacre

"We're facing religious fanatics," Raben explained as he addressed his massed forces upon his return. "They live by a strict caste system that binds their society like iron. They are utterly locked into their caste with no hope of escaping the limitations of their caste. It is so ingrained into their culture the idea of breaking the caste system is abhorrent. I spoke to slaves, offering them freedom, but every one refused. Several called out an alarm and I was chased. The leadership has even armed and are training the slaves to fight by their side. Their way of life is diametrically opposed to the culture of the Clan Corvo. We are in for one hell of a fight."

One of the women in the Raven Raiders asked, "Couldn't we just leave? Do we have the right to condemn their way of life?"

"I've given those questions a lot of thought," Raben answered. "To answer your first question, since we sent most of the fleet back for colonists, it's not possible to leave. It would take a minimum of 6-8 weeks to recall the vessels. As to whether we have the right to condemn their way of life, by our faith it is our obligation to help our fellow man, to ease their burdens. We've all seen the Clan Corvo way of life is superior to that of those who lived around us, both the Romans as well as the Barbarians. We've absorbed widows and orphans for well over a century and a quarter. The issue is not if our way of life is better, it is do we have the right to FORCE them to accept our ways. The answer is NO. We do NOT have the right to force them to join us. We have always asked people to join us allowing them to opt out and leave. It was not and is not our intention to force them to change. It is, however, their intention to destroy us. We will defend ourselves to the best of our ability. When we win, by THEIR standards, the losers become the slaves of the victors. If they win they will most certainly enslave any of us they capture. We will not lose. They will become our slaves. As slaves, we can order them to accept our ways. They are so enmeshed into their caste system that their existing culture will force them to meekly accept their fate as slaves allowing us to reshape their culture. We will absorb them while retaining their knowledge and skills. However, the fight will be intense and bloody. We will do our best to make sure it is not us who bleeds."

By the end of October the tribal warriors began to gather. More arrived each day. The frequent rains were tapering off as the area headed into the winter dry season. The locals had waited so long to gather their crops. That told Raben and his troops the locals were not stupid. The ravens reported in several times a day. The carnivores openly patrolling the no man’s land combined with the raven overwatch was effective in preventing the hostile locals from getting closer than their side of the no man’s land. A few spies who foolishly attempted to get closer to the defenses during the night became fresh meat for the carnivores. Their death screams let both the attackers and defenders know their grisly fate. The raven overwatch reported hundreds of canoes and boats coming from the Senegal River to the north and from the Saloum, Gambia and Casmance rivers to the south. By mid-November they had about 25,000 warriors and about 60,000 armed slaves.

The generals and Raben knew they’d attack after dawn at low tide so they could try to flank the trenches and the sun would be in the eyes of the defenders. They were not disappointed. Thanks to the raven overwatch they knew the attack was coming before they saw it.

The natives made what would be a deadly mistake. Their experience of warfare was either quick hit and run raids or formal battles where the opponents lined up, making shows of the bravery and fierceness before engaging. They had no concept of the all out war the Raven Raiders would wage.

Since the locals knew about the wetlands they attacked to either side of the swampy hazard. About 40,000 massed slaves, 20,000 to a side, were sent in against the battlements on both sides of the wetlands first. The attackers had no idea that the range on the compound bows of the Clan Corvo archers was 3 times that of their far more primitive bows. Since the ranges had been marked, as soon as the screaming attackers passed the mark the sky darkened with nearly 27,000 Clan Corvo arrows arching overhead. Since every Raven Raider and Pathfinder was a skilled archer and the attackers had not been given shields, they fell in droves. By the time they reached the moats 5 volleys had been fired. Only about 6,000 slaves on each side of the wetlands charged into the moats.
The slave’s already pell-mell charge disintegrated as they stumbled down the loose sandy slope into the moat. The front ranks were stopped cold as they charged into the water finding the hidden sharpened stakes with their bare feet. The screams of the attackers changed from the heated yells of attack to screams of pain and anguish. With skewered feet they couldn’t stand. Being pushed by those behind them they fell, further impaling themselves. Unable to halt their headlong charge those behind tried to avoid the water by stepping on those already down. The archers continued to rain arrows into the attackers. Most of those downed in the moat were still alive and thrashing which did nothing for the footing of those trying to use them as stepping stones. The screams and mass confusion bogged the charge down. The 20 feet wide watery moat turned red as the slaves fell. Those who succeeded in crossing the moat found the shifting sands of glacis slowed them. At best only 30 or so reached the cheval de frise protecting the battlements... none crossed.

In the narrow space between the battlements and the wetlands, the slaves attacking there fared no better. The screams and moans of the dying filled the air. The scent of fresh blood filled the tigers, wolves, lions, and hyenas with blood lust. By the time the remnants of the attacking slaves passed the front line of battlements there were at best 500 on either side. They now faced the gauntlet of the archers in the redoubts on both sides. By then the carnivores were incensed by the screams and scent of fresh blood. Those few who survived the gauntlet of arrows were quite literally torn to shreds by the carnivores. Raben had to forcibly recall the beasts.

While that was happening nearly 500 canoes and boats filled with between 15 and 20 paddling warriors each launched from the north and south beaches. The ship mounted onagers and scorpios took a heavy toll but not nearly enough. Half the remaining canoes headed for the shore behind the moats while the rest swarmed the ships... exactly where the manatees waited. Not a single canoe reached the ships as they were smashed and overturned dumping the warriors into the ocean. The crew archers took out any men who attempted to swim to the ships. Many men drowned as the manatees grabbed a flailing limb and pulled them under the surface.

The brigade of mounted Raven Raider archers very effectively fired into the canoes heading for shore. As those paddling were feathered, they dropped their paddles, which on it’s own slowed the canoes. The rhythm of the remaining paddlers was at best disrupted which further slowed them down. Some of the dead and dying paddlers fell against those nearby which greatly aggravated the rhythm. Others slumped over the side, often tipping the canoe. With the momentum of the canoes slowed the archers continued to fire into the canoes whose slower speed allowed greater accuracy. Only 20-30 canoes made it to the shore. As the survivors tried to leap ashore they fell back with arrows feathering their bodies. An estimated 8750 warriors died in the seaborne attack.

As the canoe attack was being annihilated, on land the remaining 20,000 slaves were sent in to attack the narrow undefended sections on either side of the wetlands. The remaining 16,250 warriors followed. As the charging slaves saw the thousands of dead and wounded littering the ground as they approached they knew fear. As they dodged around the dead and dying they were hit with the first volley of arrows. By the third volley the slaves were half way across the body strewn battleground. Their own losses caused them to break and flee, dropping their weapons in the process. The fleeing slaves ran right into the warriors who by then had entered the kill zone. The warriors were stunned to see the carnage that had killed the initial slave charge. As the arrows began to fall among their ranks they faltered as the terrified retreating slaves ran through their more disciplined ranks with 10,000 slaves breaking through to flee. The leaders of the warriors rallied the warriors who had begun to fall back but by then the slaves were gone from the battlefield. It was only 13,000 warriors who fell back out of arrow range. Bolts from the scorpios began to fall amongst them forcing them to retreat further.

Raben signaled the dismounted Raven Raiders to mount up as he sent nearly 11,000 ravens and 27 eagles in to harass and disrupt the remaining warriors. Leaving the Pathfinders to guard the shores and base, Raben ordered that, once mounted and formed, the 3 divisions of Raven Raiders were to follow him. With that he led the 27 elephants, 3 tigers, 34 lions, 243 wolves and 100 hyenas to attack the ranks of warriors.

A raven apocalypse descended on the crowded, disciplined ranks of the warriors. They clumped closer together to repel the raucous birds creating walls with their shields. The warriors and leaders were so busy they never saw the onslaught as the beasts tore into them. The elephants trampled and swept swaths with their tusks and trunks disrupting their shield walls. The 380 cats, wolves and hyenas simply took down the distracted warriors, each killing about 1 man a minute, mostly by ripping out their throats. The ravens and eagles tore out eyes and shredded faces and necks. Raben had his sword in one hand and a knife in his other as he sliced and diced his way through the warriors. The warriors discovered if they broke and fled they were swarmed from all sides by dozens of ravens and easily brought down and shredded by the sharp beaks that easily tore through carrion.

It took 10 minutes for the Raven Raiders to mount and form their units and another 5 minutes to pass through the slaughter. By the time Raben called off the beasts the carnivores had taken out 7600 warriors, the elephants another 2500, the ravens and eagles accounted for 4600 while Raben took out 100. There were about 200 warriors left standing and they were wounded.

Raben sent the ravens and eagles to round up the slaves who had fled dispatching 2 divisions of Raven Raiders to bring them back. The beasts were allowed to satiate themselves on their kills with the lion and hyena cubs joining their parents. The ravens and eagles had the warriors so distracted they had been unable to defend themselves against the beasts so the animals suffered no major injuries. Raben thanked all the animals and released them to return to their homes.

It had been a total bloodbath. Of the 85,000 warriors and slaves only 200 warriors and 10,000 slaves remained standing. With the fighting over, the cries and moans of the thousands wounded created a horrific din to accompany the unrelenting smell of death. Of the 500 canoes used in the waterborne assault, less than a hundred overturned or swamped canoes washed up on the shores. The victory was obscenely lopsided since the Clan Corvo suffered no dead and only 50 injured, none by enemy actions. The shores on either side of Dakar were littered with bodies washed up by the surf.

Those of the Clan Corvo were shocked by the massive carnage. Many became ill as they looked out over their victory. None were proud of their lopsided win. As part of their miliary training the Raven Raiders and Pathfinders had been trained in first aid and triage. The Raven Raiders and Pathfinders began to move amongst the carnage binding wounds and offering water to the wounded.

Raben walked amongst the casualties, using his empathetic abilities to ease their anxiety assuring the wounded they would be treated well and using his skills as a healer to great effect. Stretchers began carrying the wounded to the hospitals that had been set up behind the Clan Corvo lines. Those fatally wounded were made as comfortable as possible. Raben approached those still conscious telling them their status, explaining he could end their agony quickly and painlessly and asking if they wanted their suffering to end. Most knew they were fatally wounded and consented to their mercy killing. Raben did what was needed.

As a healer Raben knew there were many times the best treatment for a patient was to assist their end of life. It was not something he enjoyed doing. Each time he helped someone cross over he thought of the first person he’d assisted dying, his crucified adoptive mother. After 211 years, the internal anguish never lessened.

The 10,000 captured slaves with the 200 captured warriors gathered the 55,000 dead. Each body was stripped and stacked five and six high on pyres to be burnt. In the moats they first had to remove the deadly spike studded planks. The 20,000 wounded were being well treated. Thanks to the clean sterilized medical practices discovered and instituted by Raben over many years, infections in the wounds were few.

Leaving one division of Raven Raiders with the Pathfinders and most of the complacent prisoners to set up fields, orchards and shelters in the Dakar area. With a few slaves as guides Raben set out with the rest of the Raven Raiders. At each village it was the same. The few warriors who had remained behind were quickly scared into submission and overwhelmed by the ravens and wolves as the Raven Raiders surrounded the village.

Raben with the 3 tigers, 6 eagles, a dozen wolves and 2 dozen ravens boldly entered. “I am Raben Corvo, head of the Clan Corvo, and speaker to animals. We have defeated the 85,000 men you sent to attack us. We killed 55,000 and captured 30,000. Of those, 20,000 were wounded. My troops only suffered 50 injured and no deaths.”

The villagers were stunned upon hearing about the lopsided battle. The last they had heard of the attack against the invaders had been news the attack would happen the next day. The fact no one had arrived with word of the attack had left them growing increasingly concerned. The fact the enemy suddenly appeared in strength with a handful of slaves as guides unfortunately made Raben’s outrageous news seem plausible. The fact they saw Raben not only talk to the tigers and wolves as well as the eagles and ravens but was able to give them orders they followed had them in awe. That meant Raben had to, at the very least, be a powerful shaman, well in touch with the spirits. Many feared Raben was a God. Either way, the spirits they worshiped had clearly abandoned them in favor of the powerful newcomer.

The warriors were dazed. Their fellow warriors were well trained and disciplined, fearsome in battle. They had no conception of how such a disaster had occurred, yet seeing the strangers and not having any word of the battle and seeing how Raben was able to talk to the animals and birds, they knew they’d been defeated. If what Raben reported was true, the battle had been a lopsided massacre. The majority of the men sent to do battle would never be returning.

“Since it is the practice of your society that the losers of a war become the slaves of the victors, we will honor that expectation,” Raben declared. “You are a defeated and conquered people. Every one of you is now a slave of the Clan Corvo.”

Their entrenched caste system required that those defeated in battle became slaves. The villagers were numbed by the realization that in addition to the terrible loss, they also lost their status, being reduced to the bottom caste of slaves. Naturally the women and children cried and wailed to learn of the massacre and their loss of status.

“This village is to be destroyed,” Raben announced. “Gather your belongings, all tools, all animals, and all food and seeds. You will then travel to new homes near Dakar where you will serve my people. You will learn our language. By the first anniversary of the battle, your language will be fazed out. Anyone speaking it in public will be punished, possibly by having your tongue cut out.”

“Between now and then, my people will teach you our language,” Raben continued. “Everyone in the Clan Corvo can read and write. Even though we have defeated you we want to preserve your history, your stories, your traditions, your knowledge. You should also know the Clan Corvo does not have a caste system. Every person has the chance to improve their place in life. We have no elite class. That’s not to say we do not have elite positions, but those in elite positions earn their positions. Every job is important, a leader is no more important than a farmer. Even our slaves are treated with respect. If a slave follows instructions and performs well, we reward them by granting them their freedom. Once freed, a former slave is welcomed into our society with all the rights and privileges of freeborn people. In addition, women are equal to men. If you look at my troops, you will see about one third are women.”

Those revelations stunned the new slaves. Slaves were expected to do good work. Freeing slaves for doing what was expected was absolutely foreign to them. Women warriors were also foreign to them. That no caste system existed was also outside their experiences. But it did give them a glimmer of hope.

Their caste system was so ingrained they meekly accepted their reduced status as slaves and forlornly obeyed the orders Raben had given, gathering their belongings and food. Gathered in the center of the village, an elder was allowed to say a prayer honoring the local gods before torching the buildings. A section of 27 Raven Raiders escorted them to Dakar. The dictionaries he'd initially made enabled communication. It took 2 months to visit and retrieve the people of every village that had participated in the brief war.

The neighboring tribes had known the defeated tribe had set out to repel invaders. In several villages traders were present when Raben and the Raven Raiders arrived. They were amazed the youth could speak their languages. The tale of the destruction and utter defeat he told seemed impossible but the fact the Raven Raiders were there while the warriors who had gone off to war were not verified the truth of the story. That Raben could talk to the animals and birds made him seem supernatural. While he never made the claim himself he did not deny it. Raben explained the Clan Corvo wanted to live in peace and invited the traders to send delegations from their tribes to Dakar to discuss trade and relations. He also warned them that as victor he claimed all the land that had belonged to the defeated tribe, even if it would be unsettled for 50 years. Then he added that if the land laid vacant for longer than 50 years, then it could be considered abandoned and occupied. Then he warned that any violation of that restriction would be considered a declaration of war and dealt with accordingly.

By the end of January 387, Raben returned to Dakar with the Raven Raiders. The villagers he had retrieved numbered over 250,000, with 137,500 having been slaves. Raben had the people settle within a 90 mile radius of Dakar, the beginning of the Clan Corvo colony of Senegal. Those that had been free still unquestioningly accepted their much reduced status. Those who had been craftsmen were allowed to continue their profession. New villages were built combining Clan Corvo sanitary standards while merging Roman building methods with local building practices. Daily classes were held to teach them the unique blend of Latin with Germanic/Celtic undertones of the Clan Corvo. Scribes recorded the stories and histories of the defeated people, much of which came from the traditional Griots. The Griots were traditional memory based storytellers like the bards of Europe.
Raben spent weeks working with the Griots expanding the basic lexicon he'd begun before the battle as well as drawing up maps of the entire region. With it communications between the defeated native population and the Clan Corvo became easier and a lot more efficient. The Griots marveled at the explicit alphabet and detailed recording of their stories, histories and legends. They began to believe Raben when he said he wanted to save their heritage while he brought them into the Clan Corvo. Because of their oral history the Griots had disciplined minds. Many quickly learned the alphabet and Clan Corvo language becoming scribes.

Many new settlements were built on the ashes of burned down villages. A total of 1000 villages of about 250 people each were built. Each village had at least a 7 person squad of Raven Raiders in residence operating a station for colony wide raven mail. The outer settlements went from Lompoul {GM 15.417357, -16.690957} 67 miles to the northeast of Dakar and 2.5 miles from the coast, Baba Garage {GM 14.937467, -16.492115} 61 miles to the northeast of Dakar and 33 miles southeast of Lompoul, Bambay {GM 14.688135, -16.448754} 61 miles to the east of Dakar and 17 miles south of Baba Garage, Latr {GM 14.334231, -16.334718} 74 miles southeast of Dakar and 17 miles south of Bambay, Djilor {GM 14.045668, -16.334043} 77 mile southeast of Dakar and 19 miles southwest of Latr, Betani {GM 13.691627, -16.627361} in the delta of the Saloum River 88 miles southeast of Dakar and 30 miles southwest of Djilor. All were built with a fresh water supply near orchards and fields. Critical coastal fishing villages were rebuilt and the surviving canoes spread out amongst them.

That's not to say everything went smoothly. There were many colonists who couldn't accept the locals as equals, the fact they had black skin became a barrier. The vast majority knew better than to act on their prejudice, but some lashed out. The Raven Raiders and colonial leaders knew better than to hide such unacceptable behavior. When racial prejudice was reported, Raben promptly headed for the village. The troublemaker was publicly brought before Raben in the village square. With his empathetic abilities it was easy to cowl the offender. No excuses were accepted. Punishments were harsh. Public whipping to show the colonists the matter was serious and to reinforce that the colonists, while free, were no better humans than the slaves. Depending on the severity of the offence, the evildoer was sentenced to appropriate terms of slavery, forced to work beside those they had offended. With each occurrence, the guidelines were established for punishment and discipline for times when Raben was not in the colony. Everyone, slave and free understood Raben would wreak havoc if anyone failed to maintain the standards he set.

Preparations were made to receive the year 387 Clan Corvo colonists. The weekly fleets bringing the 45,139 colonists began arriving at the end of March. Another division of Pathfinders and 2 additional divisions of Raven Raiders, 20,358 people, arrived along with 3000 sailors for the Dakar fleet of 100 clinker ships, 50 - 100 ton caravels & 25 - 180 ton caravels and 21,681 colonists. The last arrived just before the last week of June.

As they arrived Raben greeted the colonists and explained the status of the enslaved locals. Raben placed colonists, Raven Raiders and Pathfinders in each village to assist the merger of the 2 civilizations. About 10,000 people settled in Dakar. Of the 15 brigades of Raven Raiders, 6 were split up into squads and detailed to the settlements and Dakar. Six brigades took turns patrolling the borders of the conquered tribe. Three brigades were in reserve on relaxed duty. At an easy pace the patrols took 5 weeks to make the trek. They began their patrols 2 weeks apart so 3 patrols were out at a time. Each patrol had raven mail couriers so help was easy to summon.

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Even by Clan Corvo standards, that was brutal.

Beoca's picture

50 injured, none by the enemy, and no fatalities? That makes Gallipoli look like a nail-biter. The new colony in Senegal is primed for success. Given a couple years, and the ability for skin color and status to be separated by people working their way up, this could turn into an area where Raben doesn't have to do to much to help it prosper. And it can also expand rapidly and far, as the only major land barriers are the Sahara and the Atlantic.

while I am enjoying the story

while I am enjoying the story I have negative feelings for the way the clan Corvo invades other lands and simply takes over with no regards to whether the people already there want them there or not, it's one thing to do this in a large country where you wouldn't necessarily have contact with them all the time but when you invade an island there's not much place you can go to remain isolated.
I would have thought Raben would have been a little more conscious of this after the Romans raided his clan and took many for slaves. I'm sure that many of the people that he encounters when his people settle in a new place see him as no better than a conqueror as their given no choice on whether they can stay.
Raben claims he will preserve the history but preserving the history is not the same as preserving the culture for no matter how benign the contact that culture will be changed to some extent.
Look at what happened to the man from the U.S. that claimed to be a missionary and thought he would just walk on to the North sentinel island to "save" and convert the tribe, didn't work out so well for him they killed him without even listening to him. They don't want outsiders there no matter what their intentions.

I Share The Objections

joannebarbarella's picture

To Clan Corvo's conquest of the Senegalese. While there were survivors it could be categorised as genocide. Even if their way of life was totally objectionable they were entitled to be left in peace as they did not invite Clan Corvo to invade their lands or subvert their culture.

You have to remember

that the Senegalese also decided to stage a large scale attack on Clan Corvo, rather than try to live peacefully along side them.

We the willing, led by the unsure. Have been doing so much with so little for so long,
We are now qualified to do anything with nothing.

They Did Kind Of Ask For It

joannebarbarella's picture

Clashes of cultures have been endemic throughout history and the Senegalese were a very objectionable people but they could have considered themselves to be the injured party faced with an invasion and so entitled to defend themselves.

Basically Raben gave them an ultimatum "We're here and we're staying. Accept us, or else!"

One of the basic tenets of Christianity is to turn the other cheek and Clan Corvo certainly did not do that.

Don't take this wrong. It doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the story.


joannebarbarella's picture

Double post.