The Second War for Damnadon Military Conflict in Numiastra | World Anvil

The Second War for Damnadon

The legendary second war for the Hive-City Damnadon, where humanity triumphed against all odds

It wasn't just about victory. Not for us. It was a matter of pride - of humanity.   There was no Atmospheric Incineration Lance this time - it wouldn't be like the first war. No superweapon was coming to save us - and damn it all, we didn't want it to.   Twenty Million rode in on those rattlers and charged straight into the meat grinder...on my orders. Twenty Million dead, to buy us one victory. To hold one small piece of ground.   The press can spin it however they want - gods know I gave them their "Heroic Story" and then some. But it wasn't about that - that small piece of ground was our ground.   Our sons and daughters can grow up there because of those that died defending it. They'll see the sunrise tomorrow, and every day after, because we never gave up. We won that battle. Not superweapons, not high-tech trickery. Us. And we couldn't be more proud.
— Field Marshal Buster Walsham

The Conflict

Prelude

The Second War for Damnadon began in many ways much like the first - the early warning systems in place along the Iron Empire's easternmost peninsula ensured that when the massive undead horde that would later become the 75th Blood Crusade crossed out of the grasslands beyond the Empire's borders and past the port city of Blackwater and the Fortress of Yargentacht, signals were quickly scrambled from Yargentacht in the south along the eastern peninsula from Damnadon in the far north to the Fortresses of Tyrannis and Empestra that stand guard along Damnadon's southern reaches of the Undead Warhost that had just crossed the southern border of the Eastern Peninsula. Making no estimation of the force's size, the forces of the Iron Empire rapidly scrambled for war and prepared for the worst - every city and fortress along the eastern peninsula prepared for a siege and went into lockdown as the armies based out of Empestra and Tyrannis, long considered the twin guardian armies of the mighty city of Damnadon, deployed to meet the undead horde in The Diesel Fields of the eastern peninsula.   However, it was not until the forces of the Undead Crusade, in an uncharacteristically tactical maneuver, blew through the armies that were marshalling out of Empestra and Tyrannis, speeding through before they could fully get into position, did The Iron Empire truly realize what the horde's objective was - the Hive City of Damnadon, site of The First War for Damnadon that ended a few decades prior with the deployment of The Atmospheric Incineration Lance(See Tavross, The Iron Emperor for more information on this Superweapon).   Realizing that they were facing the next Blood Crusade, the forces of the Iron Empire put out a call across the entire Eastern Peninsula and sent word to the Empire's Capital at Lumisterra - however, word got out too late to save the armies deployed from Tyrannis and Empestra, who were surrounded by the rear guard of the Crusade and torn to shreds before they could fully organize. Faced with these unexpected Blitzkrieg tactics from the forces of The Vrýkus Throne(Who rarely employed basic strategies, let alone complex ones), word quickly came back to Field Marshal Buster Walsham, active military commander of the Eastern Peninsula stationed at Damnadon, that leading the Blood Crusade was none other than the right hand of the Arch-Traitor who once slew Tavross, The Iron Emperor, Ser Guillaume himself - a powerful Dread Vampire who had emerged from hiding for the first time at the head of a massive Undead Warhost.   Thus, it quickly because clear that the Ironite forces stationed at Damnadon were in for a brutal, bloody rematch with the forces of The Vrýkus Throne they had barely defeated decades prior - and they were woefully underprepared to do so, with a measily 250,000 troops against a nearly equal Warhost of Undead(Far and away outmatching them by the Iron Empire's typical doctrines which recommend a minimum of a 10:1 ratio of troops to emerge victorious). Requesting orders from his superiors at Lumisterra, the Field Marshal got a simple and brutal reply from Tavross, The Iron Emperor himself shortly before the siege began:  

Defend the fatherland. Damnadon must not fall.
  With such a grisly and brutalistic order his only response, the Field Marshal settled in for the bloodiest siege of his entire career.

Deployment

While the Field Marshal initially held out hope that he could rally together with the mighty armies based out of the fortresses of Tyrannis and Empestra to form a unified defense against the Blood Crusade howling towards the walls of his city, those hopes were quickly crushed when news of the destruction of both armies reached his desk - a fact which had turned his worst nightmares into reality. For the forces of the Iron Empire, a protracted siege against any sizable warhost of the Undead(Much less a fully-organized Blood Crusade) was the worst situation for any commander to find himself in - one that was so cataclysmically mismatched for the living defenders that Iron Empire Doctrines for such a situation often simply suggested suicide or cutting losses and destroying the fortifications they found themselves defending.   The one saving grace that the FIeld Marshal had on his side was the veterancy of his forces - the legendary Damnadon Death's Head Militia, one of the most grizzled and veteran army corps in the entire Iron Empire, stood fully-armed at his side and eager for bloody revenge for the First War for Damnadon that had wounded their pride mere decades prior. Also working in his favor was the unique nature of Damnadon itself - as a mighty Hive City(A huge sprawl of a city built atop itself again and again designed to house millions of citizens with most effective spatial utilization) that had withered a siege before, the city was outfitted for war; but most notably, the city carried a direct Blacktrack Rattler line west across the ocean to the Empire's Capital of Lumisterra - the only such direct line in existence. This lifeline, while also a vulnerability for the empire, allowed Damnadon the unique advantage of ferrying resources from across the empire to allow it to endure a siege and gather reinforcements even should the city become surrounded which proved vital in the First War for Damnadon, in which the Direct Line was used to ferry The Atmospheric Incineration Lance to the city to be deployed.   With this situation unfolding around him, the Field Marshal deployed his troops to the walls of Damnadon, sent the city into lockdown, and issued the order to all able-bodied cities that they were facing a siege - and per standard protocol, demanded all citizens that would not be fighting to flee the city via the Rattler line back to Lumisterra. Rather famously, it is said, not a single citizen of Damnadon took the chance to flee their homeland in the face of the siege.   The Blood Crusade, as it arrived in The Diesel Fields outside the city proper, surrounded it in extremely short order with a large cargo wagon in tow which carried a massive device atop it that the defenders quickly realized as an older model blackpowder warhead of Iron Empire - one which the Blood Crusade intended to place upon the direct Blacktrack Rattler line to the Empire's Capital of Lumisterra and detonate within the capital's walls to deliver a deadly decapitation strike to The Iron Empire once and for all.   Now, the lifeline built during the first war direct from the Hive-City to the Empire's Capital, which had won it the First War for Damnadon, now would prove to be its undoing - and potentially, the undoing of the entire Empire.

Battlefield

The battlefield for The Second War for Damnadon was nothing more than the Hive-City of Damnadon itself - a massive, towering sprawl of a city built upwards upon itself time and again until it stretched miles into the sky - and the countless habitation blocks and industrial hallways that made up its interior. The battle was not merely limited to the city's interior, however - the forces of the 75th Blood Crusade brought the war to all aspects of Damnadon save for a naval siege(As water is a notorious weakness for many of The Vrýkus Throne's undead), as flying undead dominated the skies and battled the aerial forces of the Damnadon Death's Head Militia, found them underground in the tunnels beneath the city, and skirmished along the walls as climbing undead scaled the walls to tear apart its defenders from within.   After years of fighting within the truly gigantic hive-city, the battlefield turned into a true apocalyptic nightmare - as electricity, food, and water ran out and became scarce as more of the city fell into the hands of the Undead Warhost, the battlefield became more akin to a survival horror scene than a true war; isolated pockets of resistance fighting hopelessly in the dark habitation blocks and massive industrial centers of the Hive-City against blood-hungry Undead who could see and hunt perfectly within the dark, wearing the skin and faces of the living defender's comrades as they emerged from the darkness to prey upon the vulnerable defenders...it was a battlefield so bloody and horrifying that those who survived were scarred forever by the experience. For those who fought upon this most gruesome of battlefields, the Undead were not their only foe - insanity spread like wildfire as entire regiments were isolated, plunged into darkness, and tempted by the Undead Warhost into betraying their comrades for life eternal and pleasures unending, sending entire regiments into cannibalistic feasts and raucous orgies of death and gore whose cries echoed down the hallways of the Hive-City for miles.

Conditions

The Conditions in the Second War for Damnadon were truly nightmarish, and became even worse as the war waged on and weeks became months and eventually years - as the forces of the 75th Blood Crusade took more of the city and began cutting off the city's power generators, running water, and electrical systems the defenders were plunged into a horrifying morass of disease, insanity-inducing darkness, and frantic street-by-street bloodshed where beleaguered and diseased defenders died in the thousands for a single street among millions within the Hive-City. By the war's end, a full 20% of Field Marshal Buster Walsham's defence forces had died to starvation, dehydration, rampant disease, and insanity - a number which was horrifically high considering the hefty twenty million body count by the war's end.

The Engagement

A long and storied war, the Second War for Damnadon is broadly divided into the following categories as defined in the history books in which it has been inscribed.  

The Opening Days

A testament to the commanding skill of Field Marshal Buster Walsham as much as it was to the unsurpassed fury and combat prowess of the Damnadon Death's Head Militia, the opening days of the Second War for Damnadon were fought along the city's formidable outer walls as the truly enormous prototype Thumper Cannons(Nicknamed 'The Mac' for their size and Magnetic Acceleration technology) installed along Damnadon's outer walls after the end of the First War for Damnadon decades prior proved so cataclysmically lethal when used in combination with the genius tactical acumen of Field Marshal Walsham and the Death's Head's scouts that the 'Mac Cannons'(As the soldiers affectionately described them) managed to help the defenders hold the line for months. Powered by massive LUMINOS Reactors installed deep beneath the city which sucked in the nearby coastal seawater for cooling, the defense of Damnadon's walls stands to this day as a masterclass in the strengths of The Iron Empire's military might - blistering salvos from the wall-mounted Mac Cannons carved massive gouges out of the earth as the Death's Head Militia fought tooth and nail to hold off the Undead Hordes just outside the walls, using well-aimed and well-timed tank salvos in conjunction with withering rifle fire to cut down each attempt by the Blood Crusade to penetrate the walls and keep them firmly in the hands of the defenders time and time again.   For a short time, the war seemed even winnable - the howling fury of the Death's Head Militia and their familiarity with the techniques of the Undead Hordes of The Vrýkus Throne even allowed them to win limited engagements in melee combat(Which is typically forbidden in Iron Empire Military Doctrine) as Ser Guillaume deployed entire armies of skeletons, zombies, and wall-climbing Ghouls and Ghasts in an attempt to crush the defender's spirits. For months, the defenders along the walls held off countless waves of skeletons, zombies, ghouls, ghasts and flying undead hunters as the formidable military might of the Iron Empire stood at their backs - the Mac Cannons along the walls pounding all hours of the day until they ran so hot their barrels began to glow orange - as ammunition began to flow into the city from its Blacktrack Rattler lines at all hours of the day to reinforce the defenders along the walls, whom despite the best efforts of the Blood Crusade no feint nor crushing wave tactic could overcome; No horde proved able to scale the walls, no behemoth proved resilient enough to pound down the gates of Damnadon, and no tactic proved crafty enough to sneak past the vigilant defenders of Damnadon - the heroic men and women of the Death's Head Militia had spent decades since the last war studying their enemy and drilling every hour of every day to counter their plans, and now that obsession was paying off in full - the tactics of Ser Guillaume and the Blood Crusade, tried and true as they were, could not break them and were crushed at every single corner almost as quickly as they began; each undead spy sent crawling under the walls flattened in its burrows, each beguiled traitor executed in his room, each roaring wave of undead blasted to pieces in a symphony of destruction so beautiful that the roars of glee from the city's defenders could be heard pealing across the land for miles around.   However, this time was not to last - even all the roaring anger of the Death's Head Militia could not hold off the infinite forces of The Blood Crusade forever, and fatigue soon began to set in amongst the defenders along the walls; hopelessness crept into their minds as the undead hordes which they had so valiantly prevented from climbing the walls, digging beneath the city, and penetrating the gates rose time and again in waves which seemed nearly without end, and doubt infected their minds which ate away at their vigor with each passing day spent fighting legions of lesser undead pounding at the gates and climbing up the walls and flying overhead. The greatest weapon of the Blood Crusade had arrived in earnest -   fear.  

The Fall of the Outer Walls

In the end, the fall of the Outer Walls happened nearly overnight, and quieter than any could have imagined - as the countless defenders of Damnadon fought and bled to hold off the unending siege of the undead pounding at their gates, smashing each and every attempt by the Undead attackers to penetrate into the city proper, the first and mightiest weapon of the Blood Crusade took its toll in the end - the weakness of the human spirit. Even when morale was as high as it was during those opening months, it could not stop the creeping mind-killer known as fear - and in the end, all it took was a single traitorous captain of the Death's Head defenders to lead a cadre of like-minded fearmongers to trigger an emergency cycling of the Wall-Mounted 'Mac' Cannons, spinning them down for 5 minutes to cool their barrels and mechanisms, to give the Blood Crusade the edge it needed to deliver a hammerblow to the city's outer walls.   With a thunderous detonation heard across the city of Damnadon, the forces of the Blood Crusade under Ser Guillaume executed a new strategy hitherto unseen by the defenders - new Undead variants bloated with Numiastran Blackpowder charged into the gaps created by the deactivated cannons overhead towards the gates of Damnadon in the thousands and caused a chain reaction of detonations which rattled the entire hive-city to its foundations, blasting the gates clean off the walls and breaching the city once and for all. The Death's Head, caught completely by surprise, fell by the tens of thousands along the walls as they were attacked from both sides and torn to bloody ribbons by the attackers.   However, even in the darkest hour, the brave Death's Head defenders of Damnadon fought tooth and nail to buy the survivors enough time to fall back into the city and reinforce the inner perimeter - buying enough time for Field Marshal Buster Walsham to flee the outer walls into the safety of the Hive City's upper spires to continue leading the defense of Damnadon.  

The Slow Retreat

A period of time occupying the bulk of the war following the fall of the outer walls, what followed next was nothing short of utter hell for the city's defenders - Field Marshal Buster Walsham and the surviving members of the Death's Head Militia fought tooth and nail as an endless stream of undead surged into the city like water through a broken dam...and were overwhelmed time and again as the Undead of the Crusade, who now outnumbered the defenders by a 3:1 margin, simply proved too durable for the defenders to manage. Defensive lines were cut down with impunity as hundreds of thousands of defenders gave their lives to delay the city's fall by mere hours - but like the inevitable march of time, the forces of the Blood Crusade slowly conquered more and more of Damnadon on their mad-path to reach the city's upper spires where the Blacktrack Depot was located, hauling their twisted warhead behind them with raucous glee.   Like falling dominoes, the defenders watched on helplessly as the Undead invaders captured the city's power plants and took the LUMINOS reactors, shutting down and destroying them one by one until the entire city was plunged into helpless darkness - communication began to break down as entire sections of the city were cut off from the Field Marshal's Command and slaughtered over months, all while the Field Marshal looked on, helpless to stop the fall of his city. Truly, it seemed like all hope was lost - all he and his forces could do now was resist and bite as much as they could, and make the Undead invaders pay for every single inch of ground they took.   The last command the Field Marshal managed to send before the city-wide radio network was knocked out was a grim one - setting the tone for what many saw as the inevitable march towards the city's destruction as, to make matters even worse, Ser Guillaume the Dread Vampire himself took the field to break the Hive City's final defenders himself.  
Resist and Bite. Glory to the Empire.
 

The Last Stand

By the end of the first year of the siege, almost 80% of the hive city had fallen into the hands of the Blood Crusaders of the Undead Warhost - what had begun as months of gleeful defense of the city's walls had reached the point that many, including the Field Marshal himself, had always expected it to come to; the undead now ran rampant in the city feasting on the terrified survivors, entire sections of the city, now without power and supplies, descended into dens of madness and despair as the few remaining defenders clustered around the Blacktrack Depot in the city's upper limits. Communication had long since been cut off from the outside world, and there was little hope of any of the few who yet lived ever seeing the sun again, let alone their relatives - and with Ser Guillaume himself leading the Warhost of the Undead through Damnadon towards the city's upper reaches, the few survivors of the Death's Head Militia giving their lives to slow him down, the unthinkable happened:   Reinforcements came.   In truth, what was only discovered later was that unbeknownst to even the Field Marshal himself, one of the last surviving civilians to flee the city via the Blacktrack Rattler line to the Empire's capital of Lumisterra who had survived the fall of the outer walls and had been rescued from an isolated habitation block by the brave members of the Death's Head Militia was, before the siege, a reporter for one of the The Iron Empire's largest Newspaper Houses, The Iron Times. This lone survivor, having fled Damnadon back to Lumisterra, published a newspiece on his survival and flight from the nightmarish conditions within Damnadon, and exposed the plight of the defenders to the Empire as a whole - and practically overnight, the story became such a hit with the Iron Empire's citizenry that it sparked an uproar of patriotic fervor so enormous that for the first time since their inception the country's Blacktrack Rattlers were booked solid across the empire as millions of citizens, furious and indignant at the conditions in Damnadon, signed up to join the defenders.   And so, what had been a small trickle of reinforcements gave way to a drowning tide as almost every citizen in the Empire, thanks to the power of the press, was sparked with a fury that had not been seen before and flooded into Lumisterra to be shipped off to Damnadon to fight in the war that was taking place there. To those few defenders who remained in Damnadon, it was nothing short of a miracle(Though it paled in comparison to the miracles to come) - fresh recruits coming off the trains by the thousands, eager to fling themselves into the fight to stand beside their countrymen and women to take back Damnadon from the undead horde that had come to reclaim it. The defenders had gotten a fresh wind - but could they turn the tide for good?  

The Resurgence

Though initially overwhelmed by the sudden surge of recruits, Field Marshal Walsham organized his new troops and began to push back against the seemingly hopeless encirclement that had surrounded them - the surviving veterans, their moods bolstered by the seemingly infinite slew of new recruits, tempered the fury of the newcomers in turn as the defenders rallied together and pushed back at their attackers. Masterful ambushes rocked the Undead lines as soldiers gave their lives by the thousands with a zeal that the Undead Warhost had not seen in months - blistering offensives penetrated the lines of the Undead alongside suicidal charges through gore-soaked hallways echoed throughout Damnadon; even the hardened cruelty of the Undead Warhost proved ineffective against the genius of Field Marshal Walsham and the zealotry of the forces now under his control. Bit by bit, battle by battle, the defenders of Damnadon gave their lives by the millions to push back their attackers as Commander Yarnablast led the last of his Death's Head Militia in a daring gambit to fight Ser Guillaume the Traitor Prince himself and deliver a deathblow to the invading Undead Warhost   Though they were slain to a man, their heroic sacrifice allowed the greatest miracle of all to occur - The Miracle at Damnadon - as the forces under Commander Yarnablast(Commander of the Death's Head Militia) fought the Traitor Prince and his Warhost which had carried their blackpowder warhead right to the gates of the Hive-City's Rattler Depot, managing to fight to the Blackpowder Warhead the Blood Crusade had brought with it as Commander Yarnablast dueled Ser Guillaume at the gates to the depot and detonated it prematurely within Damnadon's central support spire. With a rapturous explosion, the central spire of Damnadon crumbled - sending a mile of debris crashing down through the city as the entire top of the Hive-City simply collapsed, opening much of the city's most infected regions to the withering light of the sun and instantly turning the tide of the siege. Millions upon millions died defending the city, and millions died retaking it - funneling the surviving Undead of the Warhost into now-exposed tunnels where the sunlight charred their flesh, the Warhost was ground into rotten dust and Ser Guillaume, faced with complete encirclement and the light of the sun on his skin following the suicidal sacrifice of Commander Yarnablast and the Death's Head Militia, was forced to flee to the cover of The Diesel Fields and back to The Vrýkus Throne in defeat.   The Iron Empire had won, albeit at great cost - much of Damnadon's upper reaches were completely in ruins from the collapse of the city's upper reaches to expose their interiors to sunlight, the Thumper Cannons along the walls would never fire again with the destruction of their LUMINOS reactors, and twenty million people had died in its defense; not to mention the deaths of nearly every last soldier of the Death's Head Militia in the final gambit to hold off the Dread Vampire Ser Guillaume.

Outcome

Though the defenders had achieved victory, a full 30% of their city now lay in ruins from their final gambit to expose the most infested parts of the city to sunlight - not to mention that with the destruction of the city's LUMINOS reactors its outer defenses would never fire again. To add insult to injury, twenty million people had died in the two-year siege and the city's production would grind to a halt for the forseeable future.   In turn, however, the valor of the defenders had dealt the forces of The Vrýkus Throne a crushing defeat - the loss of an entire warhost was one they would not soon recover from, both in morale and troop strength.

Aftermath

Despite the critical damage to Damnadon and the deaths of so many defending it, the city would survive in the hands of The Iron Empire and rebuild in surprisingly short order - the victory would give The Iron Empire a rallying cry and infuse its people with such fervent patriotism that the war would be held up for decades to come as a key example of the virtues of the empire and the people which make it up; a glorious victory that proved only possible thanks to the people who fought and died to make it possible.   Despite this, the Hive-City of Damnadon would not see full safety for decades afterwards - undead cults lurk even now in the city's darkened corners as surviving members of the warhost take root in the city's seedy underbelly, and the once-mighty Death's Head Militia now lies in tatters, rebuilding slowly after the war thanks only to the miraculous survival of Commander Yarnablast; now a legendary veteran of two cataclysmic wars for Damnadon.   However, the aftermath was worse for the forces of The Vrýkus Throne - the forces they committed and lost were so grievous that they would feel the loss for centuries to come, lessening border attacks along The Iron Empire's reaches for decades as Ser Guillaume, once the mightiest and most favored servants of Kali, The Broodqueen, was forced to go into hiding to escape the enemies created by his vulnerability, weakness, and shame after his humiliating loss to the Field Marshal and the City's defenders.

Historical Significance

Legacy

The Second War for Damnadon's legacy shall ever be one of human perseverance - of the virtues of the human spirit in the face of impossible odds, and as a testament to what can be accomplished by the living when they are truly put to the test. Secondrily, its legacy is also one of the patriotism for The Iron Empire - who prop up the Second War for Damnadon as proof of their righteousness and the possibility of victory in the eternal war they face against the undead that stand at their borders, and as a way to give hope to their citizens who had begun to despair that their war against the dead and damned was truly impossible.

In Literature

Most notably, the Second War for Damnadon was enshrined in the news article 'Blood and Bravery - Death at Damnadon!' which inspired the country-wide uproar of patriotism that allowed the war to be won, but in the years since the war's end hundreds of novellas, books, and autobiographies have been published detailing various heroic and/or harrowing tales from those brutal two years of warfare, some of which have become so popular as to be common household reading material(Such as the legendarily popular action novel 'Death and Damnation').
Blood for Damnadon! Vengeance for the Death's Head!
— A common Ironite Warcry following the war
Conflict Type
Siege
Battlefield Type
Urban
Start Date
1955 AF
Ending Date
1957 AF
Conflict Result
A pyrrhic victory for The Iron Empire, built upon the sacrifice of 20 million citizens

Belligerents

Strength

While initially the forces under Field Marshal Buster Walsham's control at the start of the siege numbered around 250,000(Most of which were the soldiers of the legendary 'Death's Head Militia' native to Damnadon), by the time the siege had ended the total number of troops that had fallen under his control numbered close to ten million.
At the crusade's height, the total number of troops it contained was estimated to be around 220,000.

Casualties

19.7 Million Casualties in total - around 10 million of which were military casualties, while the rest were civilian. Most tragically, the Death's Head Militia, the army native to the Hive City of Damnadon once feared for its battle-prowess, was completely wiped out - but has been slowly rebuilding in the years following the war.
By the end of the crusade, the crushingly massive army(The largest ever fielded in the history of The Vrýkus Throne) was almost completely exterminated - only a scant 21,000 survivors escaped encirclement and returned back to their homeland.

Objectives

  1. To defend the Hive City of Damnadon and keep it under the control of The Iron Empire.
  2. To prevent the forces of The Vrýkus Throne from gaining access to the Direct Rattler Line from Damnadon to the Empire's Capital of Lumisterra.
  1. To conquer the Hive City of Damnadon and feast upon its populace.
  2. To gain access to the Direct Rattler Line that runs from Damnadon directly to The Iron Empire's capital of Lumisterra, and use a captured Blackpowder Warhead planted within the Blacktrack Rattler sent to Lumisterra to destroy the city once and for all.

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