The First Lowlands War is the blanket name for a series of conflicts spread across the Lowlands, primarily invloving their invasion by the Wasp Empire and the efforts of the Lowlands city-states to defend themselves.
The major battles in chronological order are:
- The Siege of Tark
- The Siege of Collegium I, or The Vekken Siege
- The Destruction of the Fourth Army
- The Battle of the Rails
- The Burning of the Felyal
- Malkan's Stand / Malkan's Folly
- The Siege of Collegium II
*Note: Conflicts/battles occuring within the same timeline but outside of the Lowlands such as the fall and subsequent retaking of Solarno and the Battle of Seldis are not discussed in this article.
A period of instenisive espionage undertaken by both the Wasp Empire and Stenwold Maker on behalf of the Lowlands preceeded outright hostilities and included skirmishes in the Mynan Royal Palace and the Helleron rail-yard (See Empire in Black and Gold plot summary). However, the conflict did not officially begin until the Wasp Empire attacked Tark and Collegium declared war.
The Siege of TarkEdit
The First Lowlands War began when the Wasp Empire's Imperial Fourth Army laid siege to the Ant-kinden city-state of Tark. The battle began with assaults on the walls by the Wasp "Light Airborne" divisions, utilizing the savage northern Wasps or "Hornet-kinden" as shock troops. This was followed by a concerted aerial assault desinged to eliminate Tark's aerial strength, pitting the Fourth Army's aircraft and giant flying wasps against the aircraft and giant flying ants of the Tarkesh. This attack succeeded in removing Tark's aerial capability, allowing multiple bouyant airships to fly high over the city and drop incendiary bombs unopposed. The bombardment wreaked terrible damage on the city whilst the Tarkesh were unable to retaliate, a plan masterminded by the Imperial "Colonel-Auxilian" and master engineer Dariandrephos. In addition, automotives on the ground sprayed Tark's walls with a time-delay acid, at first having apparently no effect but later disolving them to clear the way for the Wasp's ground assault.
Faced with the Wasps' aerial superiority the defenders of Tark devised a plan to utilize secret tunnels to approach the Fourth Army's airfield and destroy their airships with explosives whilst they were grounded. A small team including two agents of Stenwold Maker's, Salme Dien and Totho, attemptied to carry this plan out but were foiled by extra guards placed in the airfield as a precaution by Dariandrephos. Salma recieved a near-mortal wound and Totho was captured. With Tark in ruins and the Wasps victorious, the Tarkesh King sent a final order to his last surviving military commander, Parops, to gather as many forces as he could and abandon the city with the purpose of later reclaiming it if they could. With this achieved, the King and his advisors committed suicide rather than be captured by the Wasps.
Outcome: Total victory for the Wasp Empire's Fourth Army
The Vekken Siege Edit
Collegium stood as the chief cultural and political power in the Lowlands and was the Wasp Empire's main target throughout the war. To this end the Rekef, the Wasp Secret Forces, incited the Ant-kinden of Vek to attack Collegium, effectively doing their job for them. The Vekken held a long-standing emnity with Collegium after besieging it nine years earlier only to be defeated when Collegium's allies, the Ant-kinden of Sarn, came to their aid and attacked the Vekken from behind. The Wasp Empire was able to manipulate this emnity to make the Vekken attack Collegium once more. The longest battle of the First Lowlands War, the Vekken Siege wrought much damage to Collegium. The cosmopolitan defenders of the city included its own civilians, some hastily assembled and trained into Merchant Companies, the engineers of the Great College who utilized their own creations to fight the Vekken, and allied Ant-kinden from Tark led by Parops. The Sarnesh Ant-kinden were unable to send aid this time due to the threat posed by the Imperial Seventh Army.
Collegium's rag-tag defenders were able to fight back and hold the city much longer than the Vekken had anticipated, led by newly titled "War Master" Stenwold Maker and other impromptu leaders from among the civilians such as the leaders of the Merchant Companies and former Sarnesh mercenary turned agent Balkus. The Vekken's initial bombardment with siege engines met absolutely no response, confusing their commanders, but that night Collegium's siege engine crews used precise calculations they had obtained during the day to fire back, destroying most of the Vekken siege engines in a single stroke under cover of darkness.
Midway through the siege minimal assistance was sent by the Sarnesh in the form of squads carried into the Vekken lines in automotives. Though causing damage this tactic was ultimately suicidal and led to the death of Scuto. In the end the siege was only lifted when unexpected assistance arrived in the form of a fleet from the Spiderlands led by Teornis of the Aldanrael family. The fleet's mercenary and satrapy soldiers flanked the city and hit the Vekken from both sides, defeating them and sending them fleeing back to Vek. Afterwards, Teornis was hailed as a hero alongside Balkus and Stenwold by the people of the city.
Outcome: Costly victory for the defenders of Collegium and Spiderlands allies.
The Destruction of the Fourth Army Edit
After destroying Tark, the Imperial Fourth Army was deliberately delayed with diplomatic meetings by Teornis of the Aldanrael before he moved on to relieve Collegium. When the Fourth Army was finall able to move on westwards it was ambushed at night by the Mantis-kinden of the Felyal forest. Though they would take no further part in the defense of the Lowlands the Felyal mantids, encouraged by Stenwold Maker's friend and ally Tisamon, issued from their forest launch a surprise attack on the Fourth Army camp. Though the mantids took losses to the better armed and armoured Wasps, the swiftness and ferocity of their attack enabled them to eliminate all the Fourth Army's leaders and send the survivors routing back towards the Empire.
Outcome: Total victory for the Felyal mantids and destruction of the Imperial Fourth Army.
The Battle of the RailsEdit
See also Battle of the Rails. While other battles were being fought in the south, the Imperial Seventh Army, A.K.A "the Winged Furies" under the young and aggressive General Malkan had marched westwards from the Empire and accepted the surrender without a fight of Helleron. The Seventh Army then continued westwards towards Sarn, posing enough of a threat to prevent the Sarnesh sending aid to besieged Collegium. The route of the Seventh Army followed the newly built rail-line from Sarn to Helleron and continuous sapping by the Sarnesh slowed their progress, though not considerably. The Sarnesh found unexpected allies in "the Ancient League", an alliance of the Moth-kinden from Dorax and the Mantis-kinden from Etheryon and Nethyon, who sent a delegation to fight alongside them against the Wasps.
The Sarnesh army eventually met the Imperial Seventh at a point along the tracks and began what was later called the Battle of the Rails. Initially the Sarnesh army had the upper hand, their Ant-kinden unity and discipline driving back the Wasps. The tide of battle was only turned when Wasp reinforcements arrived from Helleron, wielding a deadly new crossbow variant dubbed the "snapbow." The snapbows were able to penetrate the Sarnesh soldiers' armour and, unable to stand against them, the Sarnesh fell back with heavy losses.
Outcome: Narrow victory for the Wasp Empire's Seventh Army.
The Burning of the Felyal Edit
After the destruction of the Imperial Fourth Army, a new army was sent towards Collegium along the coast. The Imperial Second Army, known as "the Gears", was led by General Tynan who learnt from the Fourth's destruction and ensured all his encampments were heavily fortified. When the Second Army reached the Felyal it drove into the forest and burned out the Mantis-kinden there, razing their settlements despite fierce resiatance and sending the survivors fleeing towards Collegium.
Outcome: Total victory for the Wasp Empire's Second Army.
Malkan's Stand / Malkan's Folly Edit
After the Battle of the Rails General Malkan's Seventh Army was left under-strength and could not advance until they recieved reinforcements in the form of the Imperial Sixth Army, "the Hive", so called because of its core of Imperial Bee-kinden. Both armies endured severe raiding and harrassment from an organized army of displaced war fugitives led by Salme Dien. In their ultimate strike, Salma's refugee army was able to inflict considerable damage on the combined Sixth/Seventh army and kill the Sixth Army's General, returning the command to Malkan. Afterwards they pulled back to Sarn to join the Sarnesh army as allies.
The Sarnesh and refugee army were joined by their allies from Collegium, including the Merchant Companies made up of veterans from the siege, Parops' contingent of Tarkesh ants and a contingent of Ant-kinden from the small and reclusive city of Tsen. Together this combined Lowlander force took on the combined Sixth/Seventh army under Malkan. Despite the assassination of the Sarnesh Queen their tacticians went ahead to plan the battle, sending a rag-tag cavalry force of Salma's refugees into the heart of the Wasp camp to destroy their siege machines. They were succesful, though Salma himself was killed by Malkan who was slain in turn by Salma's Butterfly-kinden lover. The combined Sarnesh, Tarkesh, Tseni and Collegiate forces then fought a pitched battle against the leaderless Wasps and although casualties were high on both sides and the Tseni lost their leader the Lowlanders were ultimately victorious, the Collegiate forces breaking the Wasp's left flank and routing them.
Afterwards Salma's refugees went on to found a new city on his honour, Princep Salmae, and the Sarnesh began construction of a new fortress on the site of the battle, which became known as Malkan's Stand by the Wasps and Malkan's Folly by the Lowlanders.
Outcome: Decisive victory for the allied Lowlander forces.
The Siege of Collegium IIEdit
After burning out the Felyal mantids the Imperial Second Army marched on Collegium and besieged the city. Preliminary fighting took place near the walls and in the air where the Collegiate airship Pride of Aeronautics was destroyed, but the siege was ultimately aborted when news reached General Tynan that the Wasp Emperor Alvdan II had been killed in the heart of Capitas by an escaped fighting slave, Tisamon, and the Empire was in chaos. Stenwold Maker answered Tynan's summons, in part to save his Spider-kinden lover Arianna who had been captured after a failed attempt to assassinate Tynan. There he negotiated Tynan's retreat and in making the Second Army retreat further enhanced his status as a hero to the people of Collegium.
Outcome: Retreat of the Wasp Empire's Second Army and indecisive victory for Collegium.
The First Lowlands War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Gold, which the Lowlands, the Wasp Empire, the Spiderlands and the newly formed Three-City Alliance made up of three cities who had thrown off Wasp rule all signed, agreeing that if any of the parties attacked any other all the rest would unite to defeat the agressor. Every faction knew that the treaty would not be upheld for very long and that another war would come soon, but it bought each of them some time to recover and reorder themselves and led to a few years of relative peace.