Of all of the reasons for the hostilities between Asteria and Nica, the chief reason was fear. The Nycenaeans were fearful Asteria, with its democracy, would allow men to live freely among them, something repugnant to their Amazon sensibilities. – Menalippe, “The History of the Valkae”
Asteria is a land divided by a range of mountains. Its western coast is dotted with small fishing villages and major trade ports such as the city of Asteria itself. Because of the mountainous terrain, the farms on the west coast are small. East of the mountains lie gentle rolling plains and forest lands all the way to the Planetakore River. The Asterians access to these fertile lines are through a series of passes or sailing down the river. The Planetakore River serves as the boundary between Asteria and Nycenae. In the distant past, before the founding of the Asterian League and the Nycenaean Hegemony, these lands were allied to Nycenae. It is the desire of Nycenaean ruling class to someday control these lands, which have become the vital “bread basket” of Asteria.
At the end of the harvest, the Nycenaean General Callidora changed tactics. Rather than capturing and plundering farms and towns near the river, she led her army to the Southern Pass. Once the pass was secure, she would turn her army north and seize the next pass. If she could take the passes, it would become very difficult for Asteria to reclaim its eastern lands.
What General Callidora did not know was that as she was crossing the river, Asterian runners had been dispatched to spread the alarm. Upon reaching the pass, General Callidora met an Asterian army under the command of one of its ablest generals, Phoebe Foot Breaker. The Nycenaean army numbered 5,450 against an Asterian army of only 3,900. However, Phoebe Foot Breaker had sent messengers into Black Oak Forest and forged an alliance with Queen Merope of the forest’s nymphs. Queen Merope sent a retinue of 1,350 nymphs under the command of Daphne Bright Oak.
It was an overcast morning as Phoebe Foot Breaker looked across the meadow to a line of woods. The enemy had not passed through the woods. She looked to her left where there was ample open ground running up a hill. Was it possible the enemy had formed up on her left? She decided the best thing to do was to advance across the meadow to the tree line. With luck, she could pin the enemy at the edge of the woods and deny them space for maneuver. She sent orders to her cavalry to shift to the left and scout for the enemy’s strength on the left. With a cheerful voice, she gave the command to advance. Trumpets relayed her command and the Asterian army and its ally began the advance. Her skirmish screen of slingers and javelin darters bounded ahead. The main body began singing a paean to the goddess. She heard no sound from the retinue of nymphs in the woods to her right, but she trusted Daphne Bright Oak had begun her advance.
The left flank commanded by Captain Eudora joined in song. She was accompanied by the heroine, Verthandi. Verthandi had fought in pits and arenas throughout Valkae. Phoebe was delighted to see the magic users attach themselves to the end of the main body. There were three of them, Iezabel, Nephthys, and Semele. Iezabel was the more powerful of the three and would be the conduit of magical power.
With the blare of Asterian trumpets, General Callidora knew the enemy had begun their advance. She muttered a curse under her breath, she had hoped to be out of the woods and on open ground before the battle began. Sensing a stiffening in the ranks, she shouted “Ha! Such puny trumpets. They are nothing compared to the war cry of true Amazons. Alalazoo!”
“Alalazoo,” the ancient command to raise a battle cry and the Nycenaeans obeyed. They raised a cry that pierced the woods and echoed off of the mountains. Callidora’s large right flank surged forward. Its job was to encircle the flank of the enemy. She hoped that they would not get too far ahead and engage the enemy’s main body too early. The going in the woods was slow, even the screen of skirmishers was having to slowly pick their way through the growth. The reserve did not activate, if they had moved, they would have collided with the main body.
Daphne Bright Oak’s band of nymphs advanced cautiously through the woods. Taking part in a large battle was new to them. The nymphs preferred stealth and sniping over fighting in mass.
The skirmish screen of Asterian center reached the edge of the woods. Spreading out, they began searching for targets. The main body and its reserve advanced at a good pace.
The cavalry encountered the skirmish screen of the Nycenaean right flank and exchanged fire. One enemy skirmish unit took enough fire that it retired back upon the spears of the advancing flank and was routed.
The Nycenaean’s single unit of cavalry was spotted on top of the hill in a position to threaten the Asterian flank. Two units of slingers and darters moved up the hill and forced the enemy back with a storm of bullets and javelins.
The skirmishers on the Nycenaean right flank advanced and exchanged fire with Asterian skirmishers. As a result of the volleys, two Asterian skirmish units advanced toward the Nycenaean skirmishers and one Asterian skirmish unit was forced to retire.
A large gap opened in the skirmish screen, but before the Asterian cavalry could exploit the gap, a unit of sword maidens with their supporting warriors and the attached pool of Nycenaean magic users charged through. The Asterian cavalry fired at the sword maidens, but did not cause enough casualties to halt the charge. The cavalry retired. One unit got so entangled in friendly infantry that it routed. Seizing the opportunity, the Nycenaean magic users, led by the sorceress Medeia, cast a mighty blast at the Asterian cavalry, routing another unit.
The Nycenaean center reached the edge of the woods, and true to Callidora’s fears, the Asterians were waiting for them. The Nycenaean skirmish screen immediately began exchanging fire with Asterian skirmishers. Both sides take casualties, but two Asterian units retire, giving the Nycenaeans some breathing room.
Daphne Bright Oak’s band reaches the edge of the woods where her archers swing into action against the Nycenaean skirmishers. The skirmishers exchange fire inflicting casualties on both sides. One of the Nycenaean skirmishers gets entangled with a unit of nobles while retiring and routs. One of the Nymph archer units loses its desire to fight after receiving fire and it routs.
Two units of slingers and javelins originally with the center advance on the Nycenaean left flank, joining the Nymphs. The Asterians fire on the remaining Nycenae archers and force them to rout.
The skirmish battle in the center is reaching its clima as they rout two more Nycenaean skirmishers. The center phalanx advances. General Phoebe signals the skirmish units in the reserve to peel off and to bolster Captain Eudora’s force on the left flank. The unit of Nymph warriors left in the reserve moves closer to the phalanx.
The Asterian left flank advances as the skirmish units attempt to hold the larger Nycenaean force in place. The exchange of missile fire causes a skirmish unit on each side to rout.
The Nycenaean commander had had enough of the skirmish battle, Captain Ioanna gave the signal for her skirmishers to withdraw, her phalanx was ready to charge and would charge through the enemy skirmishers if need be. As the skirmishers withdrew, the Nycenaean cavalry lunged forward for one last parting shot. It was a mistake for the cavalry, with the other skirmishers withdrawing, they were the only target available to the Asterians. The cavalry was decimated and routed. It was a high cost and resulted in only one unit of Asterian slingers retiring to regroup.
Captain Ioanna with her nobles and sword maidens charge the Asterians. In the melee, one unit of Nycenaean sword maidens and their supporting hoplite warriors give ground and are routed. One Asterian unit of sword maidens gives ground, but holds. Infuriated, the Nycenaean magic users cast a blast spell, but the Asterian magic users are close enough to intervene and negate the spell.
General Callidora’s center phalanx reaches the edge of the woods and is now directly behind her skirmish screen. The skirmish screen is not only firing at opposing skirmishers, but also shooting at the Asterian phalanx. An Asterian skirmish unit is routed. Further down the line a Nycenaean skirmish unit breaks and routs while another routs when it retires into Callidora’s main body.
The Asterian right flank continued to advance toward the Nycenaean nobles under Captain Dion while Asterian skirmishers swarmed around the nobles peppering them with missile fire.
General Phoebe Foot Breaker gave the command for her skirmishers to retire. The skirmishers let loose one final volley. The Nycenaean skirmish line took hits, but held firm. The Asterians would have to charge through the skirmish screen. Phoebe gave the command to charge. Two Nycenaean units fire at the rapidly approaching phalanx, they miss and rout. The Asterian magic users successfully blast the Nycenaean skirmish line routing three units.
On the Asterian left flank, a Nycenaean skirmish unit moves forward, fires and misses. But the skirmisher has moved too close, the dwarf Verthandi single-handedly charges and routs the skirmish unit. Verthandi is now close to the Nycenaean heroine, Titania. She roars a challenge and charges Titania. Locked in heroic combat, Verthandi lands the first punishing blow. Titania recovers and continues the fight. Titania taunts Verthandi and lands a punishing blow of her own. Verthandi shakes it off and screams in frustration. Verthandi’s axe then bites deep into the side of Titania. Titania groans as she crumples to the ground.
The death of Titania immediately reverberates through the Nycenaean army. The Nycenaean magic users, five skirmish units, and one unit of warriors rout.
Meanwhile, the melee between the Asterian left phalanx and the Nycenaean right phalanx continues. An Asterian warrior unit is routed and another gives ground.
Bloodlust takes hold of Callidora. She and her companions and a supporting unit of warriors break out of the phalanx and charges Verthandi. The rest of the body charges the main Asterian phalanx. Both sides cause casualties, but all hold firm.
Clearing the woods, the warriors on the left end of Daphne Bright Oak’s phalanx charged the Nycenaean nobles and the rest of the phalanx charged with them. The Nycenaeans take a few casualties, but hold their line.
In the center, the two sides trade blows. Asterian skirmishers pelt the overhanging portion of the Nycenaean phalanx while Phoebe Foot Breaker begins a wheel that will roll the Nycenaean’s flank.
The Nycenaean right flank was in trouble. It had lost all of its skirmishers. The magic users had abandoned them and they were slowly losing the “othismos,” the shoving and close quarter fighting. A unit of sword maidens was routed and then the unit of nobles containing Captain Ioanna was routed. The loss of their captain was too much and the Nycenaean right flank collapsed in rout.
The dwarf Verthandi continues to thart General Callidora. She can not get rid of the pesky dwarf and she can’t rejoin the phalanx.
On the Nycenaean left, it is tit for tat – a unit of nymph warriors and its supporting unit both rout and one unit of Nycenaean nobles rout leaving Captain Dion the Just’s unit as the only unit protecting the Nycenaean flank from an overwhelming attack.
Though Dion the Just’s unit was successful in routing the warriors to its front, they suffered a storm of arrows, stones and javelins from surrounding Asterian and Nymph skirmishers. They had given ground to regroup, but now they were charged again by Daphne Bright Oak’s Nymphs. This time they were not so lucky, though they traded blow for blow and both units gave ground, the Nycenaean nobles could not regroup, so they routed.
Both flanks of the Nycenaean army were now gone. Phoebe Foot Breaker completed her wheel and charged into the Nycenaean flank. The Nycenaean unit of nobles and its supporting unit of nobles routed. The magic users cast blast again hitting three units and causing them to rout.
Callidora was losing the battle, but she didn’t notice. She was fixated on the damn dwarf. The Nycenaeans were nearly surrounded and the Asterians were closing off any hope of escape.
Phoebe Foot Breaker continued to roll the flank as her own nobles clashed with the Nycenaeans. The final two units of Nycenaean nobles in what was the main phalanx broke and routed. The magic users tried to cast blast on the remaining Nycenaeans, but the spell failed.
And then, without fanfare, Verthandi struck down Callidora. Callidora’s unit and its supporting units routed. But two units of warriors held their ground.
General Phoebe called a halt to the fighting in the center, and through a herald, she offered the two remaining units of Nycenaeans safe passage home if they would lay down their arms. The Nycenaeans surrendered.
The battle was costly for the Nycenaeans 2,060 lay dead or were dying and 1,040 had been taken captive. Their senior officers were dead and the magic users were missing. The Asterians fared somewhat better, 570 were dead or missing and Daphne Bright Oak’s Nymphs lost 120.
Phoebe Foot Breaker honored her agreement with the 250 Nycenaeans who had surrendered to her. They were allowed to return to Nycenae unharmed. Of the 1,040 captives, Phoebe Foot Breaker offered the same terms as her last victory – slavery or a broken foot. One by one each captive put her foot on the anvil and said either “shackle” or “hammer.” Throughout the winter, Nycenaean warriors were seen hobbling through the countryside on their way home. Hopefully to never make war again.