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Dahut II

Currents of War

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The town of Pana lay on the delta between the two peninsular prongs of the great Western continent's northwestern region. Settled between two nations and smaller vassal states on all sides, the townspeople passed life without worry or concern about the wider world. This, however, would change when early one morning, the countryside began to echo with hoof beats.

Looking over the small town, which controlled access to the entire delta, two black riders wrapped their horses' reins around their hands. One of the riders took of her plumed hat and wiped her forehead, it was a hot day and the humid delta region was unforgiving on the riders' gray uniforms. "I think we've arrived early, doesn't look like anyone noticed us coming." She pushed a few strands of blonde hair from her eyes and placed her hat firmly back over her head. "I wonder if there's a defense?"

"I doubt it Lady Elena," said the man next to her. "Pana is small, once we take down the wall, they'll surrender. Especially if we threaten to raze the town."

"Seems a bit much, Rand," said Elena as she turned her horse back towards the camp.

"Our orders are to take the region, town or no town, we can rebuild if necessary." Ran chuckled and turned his horse with the Lady. "It isn't as if the Council doesn't have the funds, we'll need to build a fort anyways."

The two riders traveled back to their camp where a dragoon of Rasenese riders were camped. Upon the return of Lady Elena and Captain Rand, the cavalrymen rallied in the camp and prepared their journey towards Pana with the full intention of conquest.

---

Around ten-thirty in the morning, a cannon echoed across the quiet delta valley as the townspeople of Pana looked up at a line of gray coated cavalrymen lined around their city. Under a white flag of parley, Captain Rand rode towards the gates of the city and took out a letter and looked up at the guards of the wall.

"Citizens of Pana!

This is a request by the Council of Rasenna and Doge Alessandro D'Lavenza, because of the influence and expansion of our great state we humbly ask for your compliance in this matter. This is a matter of conquest, but from our rule, your people will be rewarded with civic wealth and an expansion of your prestige, something impossible while independence. You have a town full of history which would be terrible to demolish, but we are prepared to raze your city to the ground if you resist our expansion. Stone walls will not stop us, your garrison will not save you. Comply and be saved, resist and be destroyed."

Then he turned and rode back to the lines to wait Pana's answer, the fuses on the cannons primed for attack.

Elena chuckled and leaned back on her horse, "Gunpowder has such an interesting smell in the early morning."

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"Lord Draco!"

"Hut! Lord Ranse!"

Pana. The smallest town to control the world! Everything worthwhile passed through Pana at some point. Ships launched in Pana - hell, they were built there! The largest and fiercest aquatic animals prowled the waters, giving the sturdiest pelts and leathers. Their prodigious nature even gave them a port harbor built for a city ten times the size; it was in this port harbor that among a dozen others a sole, unmarked ship sat in waiting. The clipper was particularly unnoticeable with its less-than-gleaming sides, worn lettering, and generally poor appearance. Its cargo, however, was of utmost importance: two Lord Generals of Cretica, Draco and Rance. With them: sixteen marksmen and four grenadiers, a showy delegation meant mainly to impress the citizens of Pana, who had hardly known war. The rest of the sailors, like most men docked in Pana, were on shore.

"Draco, you must know. They mean to take us, and surely worse deeds."

"Lord Ranse, no such thing will occur. We will depart with news - cannon?"

"Many. This was quite the operation, Draco. We must not leave Pana, we must advise neither surrender nor negotiation. Intelligence gave us the knowledge something may happen - "

"Lord Ranse, I insist. We must leave with real news and information!"

"Draco, my friend... Would you have us tuck tail? We are not cowards."

Draco inhaled sharply and shakily raised a fist, which he aimed at the wall of his ship. He struck it briefly, then marched past Ranse. "Bluecoats! To the square!"

---

A young boy, incapable of grasping the seriousness of the situation and fully lacking a sense of self-preservation, volunteered without hesitation to read the reply. At age thirteen he could practically sign up for training, but he assumed his safety would lie in his youth. A gamble, for sure. It was near eleven.

"Rasenna!

The citizens of Pana, without the normal processes of republic council vote, have assigned democratic people's vote to decline the suggestion by the Council of Rasenna and Doge Alessandro D'Lavenza. With this act of aggression, the citizens of Pana will reject the offer compliance. Force will take Pana, and force will ruin it. A broken town will offer more complications.

We apologize for the blood to be spilled soon. War is never necessary."

He stood there for a moment, the gravity hitting him almost immediately as he finished reading. His bladder slightly lighter and his pants a little wetter, he started walking backwards.

A small contingent of soldiers, their firearms displayed prominently, stood in Pana's Square. Their brilliant blue coats were stiff despite the heat, and their faces resolute.

Lords Rance and Draco, with their firearms and secondary pistol and blade, stood behind. A Cretican flag flew up - small and tattered, it was not much to behold. But it showed the absolute rejection of the Rasennan offer.

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"Ah that's a shame," sighed Rand and turned his horse back towards the line of cannon looking down at the walls of Pana. "Lieutenant Nrozzo, you may begin the barrage."

"Yes sir," said the gray-coat with a salute and then took off one of his gloves as he nodded to the other bombardiers. "On my mark. Three...two...one...fire!"

The delta boomed as the line of Rasenese batteries thundered down against the walls of the most powerful small town on the Western continent. This bombardment would continue for hours as a narrow section of wall was targeted for collapse and once it would happen, the harder part of the battle would commence. With a route into the city, Rand would ride out towards the front of the Dragoon detachment and unsheathed his saber. "Dragoons! Around me! To the wall, to the city, to victory!" A cheer erupted from the cavalrymen as they charged down the hill towards the town, swords drawn and ready for a fight with the defenders who risen up for Pana's resistance. Coming to the wall, they filtered into the city and surged through the streets, making their way to the square and conflict.

From the top of the hill, Lady Elena watched with her laced hand on her hip. It seemed a bit rash to her, but such was war. The faster the town surrendered, the less destruction would occur and she hoped for the best.

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Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.

At the height of day, the Dragoon detachment advanced through the apparently sturdier walls than most of the citizens of Pana had accounted for. The majority of the non-fighting citizens had been rushed to the dock, where the clipper (used to a crew between a hundred and two hundred, with room for cargo) was being used to hold those who would leave when the town eventually fell. Most of the new cargo were children and mothers, but the occasional limp or ill father was scattered around as well.

In all, about a hundred and sixty men were part of the close-knit but inexperienced Pana militia. Total numbers were about two hundred including those who could shoot, but in the face of twice that and more, their job was simply to inflict pain on the Rasenese and let their wives escape. The port would be valuable, but it would be a ghost town for weeks until a new population could be settled and acclimated.

Some of the older children were starting fires near the back, where they could not be put out easy; the smoke was almost unseeable and the fires were contained, for now.

As the dragoons approached the square, the first muskets were fired with reasonable accuracy - three dozen or so balls flew through the air at the invaders, who were the superior force in training and equipment. The militia did not even have the rifles of Cretica, a new design that, while slower, was substantially superior in fire. The Cretican marksmen let off a volley of rifles, superior in accuracy, and quickly started to reload at a faster pace than the militiamen before them. Draco and Ranse both took aim at the man they would not know as Rand and fired before reloading once more.

The sword-equipped dragoons would be victim to one more set of volleys before melee contact would be made, and then the Hell broke loose.

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