Time on My Hands Chapter 69 - 457-458 CE: Corvoian Europe and Western Asia

Time on my Hands

Chapter 69: 457-458 CE: Corvoian Europe and Western Asia

Fiach laughed, jammed the shaft of her banner into the mud of the river bottom, drew her sword and knife, and charged towards the Emperor. The Emperor's body guard swarmed in front of their Emperor. Just before reaching the shore, Fiach leapt off her horse and charged into the mounted imperial guard. Horses squealed and reared, warriors yelled and fell. Fiach slipped between the wildly milling horses while striking the riders. Chaos ruled as men died before they could see who they were fighting. Suddenly Yazdegerd II yelled as his horse reared. The saddle with the emperor slipped off the horse since the straps had been sliced.

A moment later the blood covered Fiach waded into the river after emerging from the maelstrom of imperial guards. "I am the Demon Slayer! Emperor Yazdegerd, I could have killed you instead of just cutting the straps on your saddle. Look around you! I killed 25 of your guards. We will kill all who resist so drop your weapons and live!"

Yazdegerd II was pulled up onto a horse. "Archers!" the humiliated emperor bellowed. "Kill the fool!"

Several hundred archers drew their weapons and fired. Arrows hurtled toward Fiach. Rather than duck she swung her sword and knife in a dizzying pattern above her easily parrying the arrows. The Sassanid warriors were clearly stunned.

"Fools," Fiach bellowed as a second barrage of arrows headed toward her. This time Fiach merely danced amongst the falling arrows. Several struck her but she laughed at the wounds. There were dozens of arrows in Fiach's back and torso.

Her horse trotted through the water to her. Fiach swung up onto the horse's back then rode up and down the middle of the river letting the shocked Sassanids see the dozens of arrows protruding from her. "I AM THE DEMON SLAYER! I CAN NOT BE KILLED. YAZDEGERD, THE DEATH OF YOUR CITIZENS IS ON YOUR SHOULDERS. UNLESS YOU SURRENDER WE WILL DESTROY YOU!" Fiach pulled her banner from where it had been jammed into the river bed, dismissively turned her back to the stunned Sassanids and rode towards the Raven Raiders.

As she reached the Raven Raiders, they all moved back from the shore revealing the weird wagons. Instantly thunderously loud booms echoed from the wagons lined up on the west side of the Tigris River as great clouds of smoke flew across the flowing water. Seconds later explosions and swirling choking black clouds occurred in the air over the waiting Sassanid troops, spitting death and destruction onto their panicking ranks. The screams began as the grim reaper began harvesting the stunned soldiers who had never experienced anything like that.

The 405 cannons of the 45 Raven Raider brigades continued their cannonade. The smoke and noise shook the river valley and could be easily heard in the capital. The best soldiers in the Sassanid empire were cut down by the bombardment. Stunned and terrified, they broke and ran, sweeping Yazdegerd II and his elite bodyguards in the disorganized rout. As soon as the raven overwatch reported the rout, the range was increased and brigade after brigade of Raven Raiders began crossing the Tigris with no significant resistance.

By the time they came up on the east bank only a handful of stunned Sassanid soldiers remained staggering about in the unprecedented carnage and they were quickly overwhelmed. The Raven Raiders reformed and leisurely followed the fleeing Sassanids as the ravens and eagles attacked adding to the chaos of the rout. The artillery was floated across the Tigris. By nightfall the III and IV Corps were across with their artillery. III and IV Corps advanced to Ctesipon, surrounding the walled city where Yazdegerd II and his troops hid behind the thick mud brick walls. The V Corps moved down the west bank to take up positions opposite the city with their artillery aimed to take out the river walls, boats and docks.

After returning to the western shore Fiach sought out the healers to remove the many arrows. The wounds immediately began healing. Just because she healed didn’t mean the injuries weren’t painful. In fact, they hurt like hell. While she learned to embrace the pain and use the adrenalin it produced to keep her strong and moving, she always hated being hurt. It took a tremendous effort to keep from showing the pain. Now that the forces involved were growing larger, the impact of the fear the Demon Slayer generated was lessening. Her abilities were simply too far from known reality to have the impact it had inside the Roman Realms. She decided it was time to step back from direct involvement in the fighting and assume the full time leadership role of the Clan Corvo. The Raven Raiders were more than capable of handling the fighting.

In the morning the Raven Raiders were arrayed for battle. Fiach approached the main gate. "Emperor Yazdegard, I'll give you another chance to save the lives of your warriors and citizens. You can not win this fight. Surrender now and save further bloodshed."

Although stunned by what happened the day before, Yazdegerd II didn’t understand what he was facing and felt he could hold the city until the rest of the troops he’d summoned arrived so he arrogantly refused the offer. The Sassanid soldiers and archers manned the walls waiting for the bloody assault with boiling oil and water ready to pour upon the hapless enemies who would try to scale their mighty walls. To their shock the attack they expected did not happen.

Instead Fiach ordered the deployed artillery to opened fire. Cannonballs easily smashed the massive mud brick walls. From across the river shells destroyed the boats and docks as well as smashed holes in the smaller river side walls. Within half an hour cannister shot easily cleared the walls of defenders while the cannon balls made a dozen breeches in the wall. The firing ceased and 30,000 ravens swarmed over the city surveying the damage.

Fiach approached the now battered walls. “Once again you have seen our power and strength. I will not waste the lives of the Raven Raiders in assaulting the walls. We can destroy the entire city and all within by continuing to bombard you with our artillery. Once more I offer to accept the surrender of the city and all inside. If you are too stubborn or stupid to accept the offer, I ask for the sake of your citizens to at least allow the civilians to escape the coming carnage.”

Those in the city were terrified. The noise, smoke and destruction was horrendous. The ravens flying overhead seriously added to the terror. The common people were ready to surrender as were many of the warriors. Still Yazdegerd II refused to surrender. Unfortunately they all feared the Emperor too much to flee.

The cannonade resumed for an hour, with many shells now flying into the city to destroy the palace and public buildings. Dozens of fires started. When the bombardment ceased, panicked civilians and warriors broke and fled the hell their city had become through the breaches in the city walls. The Raven Raiders separated the civilians from the soldiers and the upper class elite from both groups.

The ravens returned scouring the city. By questioning those who fled the battered burning city, Fiach determined most of the common people had fled as well as 3/4 of the warriors. Rather than continue the wholesale bombardment of the city, she had dismounted Raven Raiders accompanied by wolves and tigers cautiously enter the city with the shorter cannons. The animals indicated the locations of soldiers and terrified citizens who were asked to surrender. If they refused, one cannonball was fired into their location. Once again they were asked to surrender. If they still refused, their place of refuge was reduced to rumble. By night the partially destroyed city was in Raven Raider hands. No one escaped. Yazdegerd II and most of his family died.

Unaware of the destruction of the capital and death of the emperor, over the next few days all the summoned Sassanid reinforcement troops were spotted as they approached by the eagle and raven overwatch. Every unit was surrounded and easily ambushed by the Raven Raiders. None escaped. The Sassanid Empire ceased to exist.

By the start of April the III Corps moved north securing Mosul, Erbil, Tabriz, Azerbaijan, Baku and the Iranian coast of the Caspian Sea. The IV Corps moved on to secure Tehran, Isfahan, Gorgan, Mashhad, Birjand and northern Iran. The V Corps secured Shiraz, Kirman, Zahedan, Bander Abbas and southern Iran.

On April 1, 457 the rest of the Clan Corvo Armies advanced. Army Group D moved north from Britain to secure Caledonia. The Bazram fleet took I Corps north to land at Wick taking the far north before moving south towards Inverness. II Corps landed at Inverness headed east around the coast taking Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth and Edinburgh. III Corps landed at Glasgow then headed north through the highlands. IV Corps marched north from Hadrian’s wall to Glasgow and Edinburgh. V Corps remained in Britain keeping the peace. The Corvus Fleet from Ireland sailed up the west coast of Scotland securing every Loch.

Army Group E crossed the Rhine to Antwerp. I Corps marched along the North Sea into the Jutland Peninsula and the Danish islands into southern Sweden taking the Anglos, Saxons, Jutes, Danes and Swedes and the cities of Bremen, Hamburg, Lubeck, Keil, Copenhagen and Malmo. II Corps moved along the south coast of the Baltic Sea as far as Kalingrad taking Rostock, Szczecin, Bygdoszcz, Gadansk, Kalingrad and Bialystok. III Corps moved across north Germany and Poland taking Essen, Dortman, Hanover, Leipzig, Berlin, Dresden, Poznan, Worclaw, Lodz, Warsaw and Lublin. IV Corps moved across central Germany, Czechia and southern Poland taking Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Nuremburg, Prague, Ostrava and Krakow. V Corps moved through southern Germany, northern Austria, Slovakia and northern Hungary taking Munich, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Kosice. The Germanic and other tribes were too disorganized and depleted from decades of fighting each other, Rome and the Huns to offer meaningful resistance.

After Attila's death in 453, the Hunnic Empire, much like emperor succession in the Roman Empire, fell into internal bloody brutal infighting as different factions sought to assume the leadership role Attila had created. The infighting Huns tore themselves to pieces. The many subjugated vassal Germanic tribes: Goths, Gepids, Rugi, Suavi, Alani and Heruli saw their opportunity to break free of the Hun domination. At the Battle of Nedao in 454 a coalition of Germanic tribes successfully broke free of the Hunnic authority. The Germanic tribes then began pushing each other as each sought to claim land to establish their own kingdom while the Hunnic federation devolved into bitter rivalry. {Historically the Huns faded away after a final battle in 469 being absorbed into other peoples.}

Army Group C moved east along the Danube heading into the what remained of the Huns. Because of their splintering and the fear of facing the Raven Raiders in combat as well as the knowledge that the Clan Corvo treated those they conquered well by incorporating them into the Clan Corvo, they offered only token resistance. The Clan Corvo forces easily rolled over all opposition. I and II Corps took southern Austria and southern Hungary smashing the remnants of the Huns taking Graz and Szeged. III and IV Corps swept through Slovenia, northern Croatia, northern Serbia and into northern Romania taking Zagreb, Belgrade, Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca. V Corps swept through southern Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, southern Serbia, northern Bulgaria and southern Romania taking Sarajevo, Sophia, Bucharest and Varna on the Black Sea.

Army Group A moved across the Adriatic Sea. I Corp took Albania, Macedonia, Thessalonika and southern Bulgaria taking Tirana, Skopje Ckonje, Kavala, Plovdiv and Burgas. II Corps took Greece. III, IV and V Corps swept into European Turkey laying siege to Constantinople. The massive double stone walls, tall towers, and imposing gates were intimidating to any who contemplated attacking the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Emperor Marcian was beside himself. None of the federated tribes answered his desperate call for mercenaries. Those that bothered to answer his summons told him they needed all their forces to defend against the Raven Raiders who were advancing on all fronts. The lack of follow up news unnerved the entire city. Near the end of April a few battered remnants of the Roman Danube forces stumbled into the city. At the end of April the III, IV, and V Corps of Army Group A reached Constantinople cutting them off from the outside world, including the aqueducts. Rationing of food and water began as the siege locked down the city.

Army Group B landed in southern Turkey at Mersin. I Corps headed northeast taking Adana, Gaziantep, Sivas, Malatya, Mardin, Van, Erzurum and Kars. II Corps swept east along the coast of the Aegean Sea taking Antayla, Marmaris, Bodrum, Denizli, Izmir, Canakkale and the Asian side of the Dardenelles. III Corps drove north taking Afyonkarahisar, Eskisehir, Bursa, Sakayra, Gebse and the Asian side of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus Strait opposite Constantinople and the Turkish Asian coast of the Black Sea. IV Corps swung south relieving the II Corps of Army Group F in Palestine. V Corps swung southeast relieving the III Corps of Army Group F and taking Armenia and Georgia on their way to Azerbaijan including the cities of Tbilisa and Baku as well as the southeast coast of the Caspian Sea.

The relieved III Corps of Army Group F moved through the IV Corps headed around the south of the Caspian Sea then north sweeping through the former Sassanid held area of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan including the cities of Ashbagat, Samarkand Tashkent, and Dushanbe up to the great salt marshes of Öli Qoltyq Sory off the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea by the town of Beyneu then east to the southern shores of the Aral Sea. The relieved II Corps of the Army Group F headed south and east pushing through the V Corps to take Pakistan and Afghanistan. These Corps thus secured the last disintegrating vestiges of the defunct Sassanid Empire.

Meanwhile the Corvus Shipping Fleet swept through the Dardanelles and Bosporus into the Black Sea destroying what little remained of the Roman Fleet as well as the numerous pirates plaguing the Black Sea. All caravels were equipped with 3 cannons, long barrel units on the quarterdeck and forecastle with a mobile short barrel cannon in the central deck. The 360 ton caravels were equipped with an additional 3 long barrel cannons on the top deck. Over 100 of the large ships took up station in the The Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus and the Golden Horn outside Constantinople blockading and shutting down the ports of the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire as well as utterly severing all contact with the crumbling Eastern Roman areas of Anatolia.

The fleet also took Army Group G past Constantinople through the Black Sea. The I and II Corps landed at the Dnieper River. I Corps moved into the western Ukraine taking the north shore of the Black Sea into Moldavia and swinging west along the banks of the Dnieper River taking the cities of Kyiv, Kryvyi Rih, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa and Lviv linking with Army Group C. II Corps swept up the east bank of the Dnieper River taking eastern Ukraine and Crimea as well as the cities of Sevastopol, Mariupol, Donetsk, Luhansk, Dnipro, Poltava and Kharkiv.

The fleet took the rest of Army Group F into the Sea of Azov. The III Corps moved up the Don River taking Rostov-on Don, then on to the Volga River taking Volgograd, Saratov and west to Voronezh. IV Corps headed down the east coast of the Black Sea taking Krasnodor linking with Army Group F and taking all of the western and northern shores of the Caspian Sea and the towns of Astrakhan on the Volga River and Atyrau and Uralsk on the Ural River. V Corps took the Kazakhstan provinces of West Kazakhstan, South Kazakhstan, Atyrau, Aktobe, Kyzylorda and Mangystau thus surrounding the Aral Sea while linking with the Army Group F.

Fiach arrived at Constantinople to assess the situation. A peaceful solution to the siege looked elusive. Prisoners from the overrun legions and cities were allowed to enter the city bringing dire news of the utter defeats. A wounded Sassanid general delivered the news the Sassanid Empire had fallen to the Raven Raiders. At the end of May, Fiach approached the walls.

"Emperor Marcian and the people of Constantinople, hear me. I am Fiach Corvo, head of the Clan Corvo, the leader of Corvoian Christianity, Commander of the Raven Raiders and the Demon Slayer. You are the last remnant of the Roman Empire. The Clan Corvo has conquered every part of the Roman Empire. We have also done what the Roman Empire failed to do for over 400 years, we conquered the Sassanid Empire. We have taken the lands around the Black Sea and the territory east of the Rhine that Rome could not take. We have taken all of Africa 1900 miles south of Alexandria. We have taken all the lands taken by Alexander the Great. The Clan Corvo does not enslave those it conquers but incorporates conquered people into the Clan. Only those who refuse to join us or criminals are enslaved and even then they have the chance earn their freedom. No one will be coming to relieve the siege. There is no escape and the city will fall. Unfortunately we do not want to wait to starve you out. We give you until dawn tomorrow to surrender. If you refuse we will destroy the walls." With that said she returned to the Raven Raider lines.

The next day the 405 cannons of the 15 divisions were in position to begin battering the gates and towers as the fleet readied their artillery pieces. Fiach stepped forward asking for the surrender of the city. Emperor Marcian was too stubborn to face reality setting the last remnant of the Roman Empire up for a tragic and tremendous fall.

When the offer to accept the surrender of Constantinople was refused Fiach stepped back and signaled the barrage to begin. The nearest battery opened fire. The thundering crash echoed across the city promptly followed by the other batteries opening fire with the hundreds of ships doing the same. The city was surrounded by continuous explosions. Cannonballs smashed into the stone and bricks of the walls and gates. Smoke quickly blanketed the area between the batteries and the walls. Chunks of wall fell with nearly every impact. Many targeted towers crumbled into rubble.

After an hour the thunder stopped. It took 15 minutes for the smoke and dust to clear. The gates were reduced to piles of rubble as were the seawalls. Everyone in the city was terrified. Once again Fiach asked for the city to surrender. When it was refused, the bombardment continued, only this time 5 of the 9 cannons in each battery fired explosive shells over the walls into the city as did 3 of the 6 cannons on the ships. The explosions wrought havoc on the city as buildings were knocked apart and fires started. The cannons still firing at the wall raised their aim to target the second wall of the dual walls.

After another hour the batteries fell silent. Numerous fires were burning throughout the city. This time the smoke and dust of the barrage combined with the smoke, soot and ash of the city wide fires. A trickle of desperate filthy people began emerging, scrambling down the rubble. The stunned soldiers who had been guarding the now virtually useless walls joined the exodus. The Raven Raiders rounded everyone up. The injured were tended to and the soldiers separated from the civilians. Once those remaining on the shattered walls saw their comrades being treated well, most threw down their weapons, clambered down the rubble and surrendered. Nearly an hour later an officer from Marcian's bodyguard emerged with the bedraggled remnants of the Imperial bodyguard who promptly laid down their weapons and surrendered. They reported Emperor Marcian and his generals had taken their lives.

The Raven Raiders organized the surrendered citizens into fire fighting brigades. Ravens delivered messages to the troops who had blocked the aqueducts to let the water flow. It took 2 days to extinguish the fires.

Army Group C relieved Army Group A. Army Group A took ship to cross the Black Sea to assume control of the Ukraine and Crimea allowing the I and II Corps of Army Group G to move east to reinforce the rest of their Army.

Army Group A secured the northern border of Ukraine while Army Group G secured their eastern borders against intrusion. The Saragurs, Sabirs, and Onugurs; Eurasian Oghur-Turkic nomadic tribes originating from Western Siberia and the Kazakh steppes, were slowly migrating west pressuring the Huns west. Army Groups H and J consolidated the areas they'd taken the previous years. There was still more to conquer but that would wait until the next year.

The next year, in May of 458 Army Group E moved north linking with Bazram while taking Norway, Sweden, Finland, Murmansk Oblast, Karelia, Leningrad Oblast, St. Petersburg, Estonia, Latvia, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Novgorod Oblast, Pskov Oblast and Tver Oblast taking the rest of northern European Russia to the Ural Mountains. Army Group C moved north and east from Poland taking Lithuania, Belarus, and the rest of the central portion of European Russia to the Ural Mountains. Army Group A moved east from Ukraine to take the southern portion of Russia to the Ural Mountains. Army Group J expanded Senegal by spreading southeast into Nigeria, Cameroon & the Central African Republic. Army Group H swept through the horn of Africa taking South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Fiach then had the Raven Raiders push the eastern European border over the Ural Mountains to the Kara Sea inside the Arctic Circle, then following the west bank of Obskaya Guba Bay, the Ob River, the Irtysh River and the Tobol River to the village of Prirechnyy {GM 51.408308, 61.500122} on the Russia/Kasakhstan border; then along the east border of Kazakhstan provinces of Aktobe, Kyzylorda, and South Kazakhstan; the east border of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea.

They ran into stiff resistance in the mountains of east Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. A native peoples called the Hephthalites, were a tribal confederation and included both nomadic and settled urban communities. They were born and raised in the rugged mountains. The warlords worked together but had no overall chain of command. The Hephthalites had been pushing west against the Sassanids and when they collapsed the Hephthalites pushed west to slam head on against the Raven Raiders. Their fighting was different, they used hit and run tactics using the mountains to move and attack, then melt away. Due to the raven/eagle overwatch the success they'd enjoyed against the Sassanids was not duplicated. They quickly realized the birds were scouting for the Raven Raiders. In addition the wolves and tigers proved even better at maneuvering in the steep mountains than they were. Units of Raven Raiders with raven/eagle overwatch and wolf/tiger support were able to cut off, isolate and capture or wipeout the Hephthalite raiders. They drove the remaining surprised Hephthalites back but had not defeated them. They would eventually have to be assimilated.

Meanwhile Fiach had her people from the Corvus Scriptorium Constantinople office, Marzab, go through the government and religious documents to preserve them as well as make copies of those that might be important. The originals were packed and sent back to Barmaz. The same was done in the fallen Sassanid Empire.

The open combat portion of Phase 1 of Operation Harmony was completed. Now came the tidying up of the chaos of combat and the assimilation of the conquered peoples into the Clan Corvo.

Research and experiments continued at Corvo University where they found additional uses for gunpowder. Mining was a primary use. Hardened steel drills were hammered into rock forming a grid of holes. The holes were packed with black powder and set off shattering the rock which could then be dug out. The depth and spacing of the holes as well as the charge were dependant upon what type of rock they were tunneling through or excavating. Once they'd mastered reasonable expertise, they began utilizing it in mining and building infrastructure.

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