Drowning at Telela Military Conflict in Shadowfire | World Anvil

Drowning at Telela

The Drowning at Telela is the most recent and largest of battles for the Uferbrech Archipelago. It was the first significant loss for the Protectorate forces, and a diplomatic disaster for Lord Protector Ackron Der Kustos. Many see it as the turning point in the long and protracted Uferbrech Wars and an end to the slow retreat of the Motu.  
I see the coming of many devils atop breaking waves. The air filled with the howling of strangers, with a bright and terrible lord at their back. - From The Divination of the Drowned Lord by Saltseer, the Regal Resplendency

The Conflict


The preceding years had seen a long stagnation in the Uferbrech Wars, with little more than minor and disjointed skirmishes on both sides. The Protectorate forces based out of Omberstad had a difficult time skirting the Uferbrech Gyre and the many reefs of the Archipelago were a chaotic treachery of unmapped channels and graveyards for the unwary crew.   The Motu on the other hand, had the advantage of knowing the ways through the reef, and skilled at rapid crossings of the sea in their shallow draft catamaran. The Wings of the Talons of Aetora on their giant vultures had no difficulty mounting a protracted and highly effective geurrilla war against the much larger but slow moving fleet of the Protectorates.  

Trade disruption

The Motu's tactics were to continuously harass and disrupt trade and supply lines across the Uferbrech archipelago, especially targeting traffic into and out of Omberstad.   When the Motu, led by Aktaca Galerider and Taktuk Roostwarden re-established a foothold on Tokaru at Talon's Reach, the frequency and daringness of the raids stepped up, until the lucrative trade back to the mainland in ore from the Tokaru mines all but dried up.   The political pressure on Lord Akron was growing on a number of fronts. The Lord Protectors of Helton and New Lafaelle had longed hoped for his embarrassment and fall from grace, and were agitating for his replacement with someone easier to control. The difficulties in maintaining trade was used as a leverage to send their own forces to his aid. This was a public embarrassment and insult to Akron, and the first step in dividing the Protectorate power-base on Tokaru.  

Growing resistance

Additionally, the election of Rue du Col in Sudengard just three years earlier had brought the long simmering advocacy for the rights of Goblinkin to the fore. She was vocal in her criticism of Lord Akron's activities, and agitated for a peaceful armistice and change of leadership in Tokaru.   Lord Akron saw all this as damaging for the long-term goals of the Protectorates and his own dream of a return to the Age of Ascendency for his people. More immediately it was an affront to his personal authority, and so he sought a quick and decisive win against the Motu forces to quell opposition and solidifiy his power-base once more.   Equally, the many forces of resistance across Uferbrech were emboldened by the successes of the Talons, and the support from within the Protectorates themselves.   The two years leading up the battle at Telela saw the rapid build-up of naval forces by the Protectorates and the taking of a number of tactical islands for stores and defensive forts across the southern parts of the Uferbrach sea. In Omberstand itself, there were ongoing slave riots, and an escalation in arial raids by the Talons based in the Reach. These were supported by a much more active underground resistance in Omberstad and Sudengard, and the escalation of smuggling of supplies and weapons for both sides through Camp Thrifty.


In the month leading up to the final battle, Lord Akron built, gathered and deployed the largest fleet the Protectorates had seen. He himself commanded the largest, known as the Battleship Revenant, a flotilla of 12 fast moving Destroyers with Shield warriors from loyal Protectorate forces numbering nearly 2,000.   Akron's forces were bolstered by a further 5 warships sent from the mainland, each arrayed with the latest in divine fire cannon. The alliance with Deepmot saw the provision of a full Lance of 20 Bloodmages spread throughout the fleet and tasked with aiding defence of the boats, especially from the airaial bombardments from the Talons.   The fleet had amassed across a series of small islands on the southern end of the Uferbrech Sea, just 2 days sail from the landmass of Telela.   The Motu were well aware of their movements, and had set up strategic defence points around the reefs where they knew the Protectorate forces would need to enter. The Protectorates had chosen their assault at the height of the tdes, but they still blundered into a section of the reef on their final push where manoeuvrability was at its worst for their deep drafted ships.   This was when the Motu unleashed all 6 Wings of Talons, with 8 birds in each and their ragtag collection of nearly 40 catamarans upon the invaders. They were vastly outnumbered, but far more agile.


The point where the battle took place was a wide basin of shallow reefs just in sight of the coast of Telela, crossed by a series of deeper channels, which the Protectorate forces had to cross.  The expanse of ocean had a number of tiny islands, barely more than exposed reefs and sand=banks that dotted the area.  Some with enough natural vegetation by which the bulk of the Motu forces could remain hidden in the first moments of the battle.


The tide was at its high point, with the two moons as half crescents above. The weather was calm, but with a large swell and a strong breeze from behind the invading forces, giving the Protectorates the advantage of speed for the initial moments of the engagement at least.

The Engagement

Easy pickings

A small force of the Motu catamarans, with one wing of vultures on support met the Protectorate fleet, and feigning panic, they broke engagement quickly and fled back towards Tokaru, luring the ships into the treacherous reefs.   Akron's forces quickly followed, eager to land. However, when the fleet was halfway through, the Motu sprin their trap.  

The trap triggered

The Motu had secreted hidden chains and debris beneath the waters, and the Mothers of Motu used their magic to raise these up under the fleet as it passed. This tangled rudders and managed to ground a number of vessels before the crews realised what was happening. This initial tactic split the entire Protectorate fleet in two, and formed another barrier to the deep-hulled ships from successfully manoeuvring to engage the Motu.   it was at this point that the remaining catamarans and Wings emerged from hiding across the various islands in the area to bring the fight directly to the floundering ships.   The primary tactic of the Motu was to drop firebombs above to burn sail and set the ships alight, and for the catamarans to quickly sail-by while hurling light harpoons to catch and drag the defenders into the waters.   The Protectorate forces still outnumbered the Motu nearly five to one however, and even while many of their ships ran aground on the reefs, or struggled to turn, the cannon and other missiles from the crew proved formidable. Many of the Talons were shredded in the sky by the lightning bolts from the cannon, and many catamarans  were smashed against hardened hulls.   The battle raged for half a day, until most of Akron's fleet was run aground and burnt to the water-line, with sailors drowning, or being picked off by harpoons as they floundered.  

The sacrifice of Aktaca

The final ship to go down was the Revenant, Akron's prized battleship, but it was well defended by Bloodmages from Novalucca, who used the plentiful supply of coral polyps in the water to power their devastating magics. They had collected a mass of blackpowder pitch and were spinning it like a whirlwind of liquid fire around the Revenant, striking out at all who tried to board.   It seemed like the power of the battlemages might turn the tide of the battle back to Akron's favour. But Aktaca Galerider, seeing the devastation that the Bloodmages were having on the Motu, took up a long splinter from one the of the shattered masts, and while it was still burning, hesoared high above the Revenant, directly above the whirlwind of devastation that the Bloodmages were wielding.   Witnesses speak of the final dive of Aktaca, upon his screaming vulture with talons outstretched and flaming spear held high. A speeding arc of fire strait down to into the eye of the storm, and the store of blackpowder on the deck of the Revenant.  This was followed by a white explosion and shattering of wood and the screaming of Bloodmages, Protecorates and Motu alike.   And it was over.


No-one survived the blast. Actaka's remains were never found, and very little was left but charred stumps of the Bloodmages. But somehow, probably through magical means, Gorias and Akron both survived. No-one could tell how, but many witnesses have confirmed that a few days later both Akron and Gorias were seen alive back in Omberstad.   The Motu were victorious, but at a huge cost. The Protectorate fleet was destroyed, and the people at Telela saved, but the Talons lost most of their warriors, and their leader, and many other Motu died upon the waves alongside their foes.


The Drowning at Telela has become a rallying cry for resistance against the Protectoirates across the Uferbrech Archipelago, and has led to greater protest and even calls for secession and independance in Sudengard.   The Talons of Aetora have suffered, and need to replenish their numbers and leadership if they are to continue the fight, even as Akron and others across the Protectorates seek to reinforce themselves and regain control over a region that is now beset by a power vacuum.   Other opportunistic forces have begun eyeing of the region. Piracy and tomb raiding has been on the rise, and forces from further afield, such as the Lords of Fire from the Gleaming City, and even the Shadow Empress of Deepmot, are taking more active interest.
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