Chariot War

The Chariot War was a battle in 211-213 TE between the City-State of Helik and the City-State of Barkos.

The Conflict


The Chariot War does not actually refer to the deployment of chariots but is instead a reference to the initial casus belli of the war. In 210 TE, the two fastest-rising powers in the southern Sapphire Coast were the City-State of Helik in the south, and the City-State of Barkos in the east. Both states were fierce competitors in trade, the allegiance of other states, and both hoped to establish a hegemony over the rest of the Sapphire Coast.   One such element of competition was chariot racing, a popular pastime in both city-states. As part of the upcoming Festival of Shiereleya, a great tournament of the finest chariot racers in the Sapphran states met in Helik to determine the greatest city of charioteers, with many high-ranking dignitaries and rulers in attendance, including Archon Ilara of Helik and Archon Arasos of Barkos. As with any competition between cities, a great deal of national pride was seen as being on the line, and the finals in the tournament turned out to be between Helik and Barkos itself. The race was close, but the Helikan chariot team just edged out the Barkos chariot team, being declared the winner.   Archon Arasos, humiliated at being surrounded by Helikans who had defeated his chariot team, demanded that the race be checked for signs of sabotage. Archon Ilara allowed Arasos and his staff to inspect both chariots, and had found that one of the horses on the Barkosian chariot team was now limping and seemed to be ill. Arasos was outraged at this, immediately blaming Archon Ilara of orchestrating a poisoning to humiliate his city. Ilara strenuously denied this, but Arasos continued to insult her.    Tempers between Barkosian visitors, Helikan locals and the chariot teams themselves spiraled out of control, and riots and brawls broke out in the city over three nights. Ilara's hand was forced, and she had Arasos and his delegation expelled from the city. Arasos, feeling even more humiliated, swore that this dishonour against Barkos would not stand and warned Ilara to 'be ready by next summer'. Understanding the threat, Ilara began preparing Helik's forces, while the angered Barkosians began marshaling their forces, the propaganda machines on both sides burning into overdrive as slighted 'patriots' bayed for blood.   Privately, Arasos' military advisors recommended caution, believing the Helikan military to be too close in power to Barkos' for the outcome to be certain. Arasos' pride would not be salved however, and in 211, a force of soldiers, peltasts and chariots crossed the Plain of Plenty towards Helik itself.

The Engagement

The Chariot War itself had two major phases; the first was the attack on Helik itself. Arasos had intended to completely crush Helik and either force its submission as a vassal or outright annex it. The Helikan generals had advised Archon Ilara not to risk defeat by committing her entire force to fighting the Barkosians in the open, and she reluctantly ordered stockpiles of food and water before ordering all farmers to seek protection inside the city itself. After multiple failed sieges by the Barkosians, counterattacks with chariotry broke out in the night, with Helikan heavy chariotry battering pieces out of the surrounding Barkosian infantry. When the Barkosians attempted to counterattack with their own chariots, they were unable to maneuver due to the narrowness of the causeways allowing access to the city, and the Helikan chariotry easily battered them backwards. The Helikans held out all summer, and the Barkosians were forced to withdraw in the winter. While they withdrew, the Helikans attacked in full force, swarming out of the city along the cities to chase the demoralised Barkosians.   With the Barkosian attack on Helikan territory repelled, the Helikans pressed the advantage. Instead of waiting for the summer season, they advanced in the late winter. With a demoralised populace and army, Arasos weighed up a long siege or a battle in open territory to force the matter to a head. He chose the latter, and the two armies met on the Plain of Plenty. While the Barkosian infantry held their own against the Helikan infantry, the new heavy chariots of the Helikans, mixed with light and medium chariots, wreaked havoc, gouging out enemy formations and defeating infantry and opposing crews alike. The Barkosians were routed, pulling back to Barkos itself.   At this point it was made abundantly clear that the Helik tactics and units were far superior to the Barkosians, and that Arasos' plans seemed to have inflicted more damage on Barkos itself than the Helikans. Public unrest swelled in Barkos, and when the Helikans began to close in on Barkosian farmland, the prospect of a siege caused riots to break out among the city. Now forced between fighting a superior force or fighting their own citizens, the Barkosian military mutinied, effectively forcing Arasos to surrender before his own troops or civilians killed him.


The war had two major effects for Helik; first, it demonstrated the military superiority of the City-State of Helik. Other ambitious cities in the Sapphire Coast had been watching the conflict to monitor just how much of a force Helik actually was, and this outcome caused many of them to permanently scrap any plans to challenge the Helikan hegemony in the Sapphire Coast.   Secondly, however, an unintended side-effect was that the war was considered the final straw for the Helikan colony of Solathi in Northern Calina. Already decimated by the Ashstorm, the colony was left to its own device in the aftermath as Helik focused on invading a city it had already defeated rather than protect one it already had. Solathi seceded in 213 TE, and by the time Helik had successfully regrouped after its victory, Solathi had already established itself so firmly that any attempt at a voyage across the Calinan and subsequent invesion was going to cost more than it was worth. Effectively, Helik had proven itself dominant in Arikanda, but lost Calina.   In Barkos, what had been outrage at the actions of Helik now turned on Arasos himself, having embarrassed and subjected his own city to invasion and defeat out of what seemed to be his own ego and a desire to show his strength. He soon found himself forcibly removed from the Archon position, and was exiled from Barkos in 214 TE. Barkos itself was crushed as an aspiring power in the Sapphire Coast, and never truly returned to the heights it had previously. It remained a vassal of Helik in all but name, and was one of the first to back the formation of the Helikan League in 331 NE.
Conflict Type
Battlefield Type
Start Date
211 TE
Ending Date
213 TE
Conflict Result
Helikan victory


City-State of Helik
City-State of Barkos


11000 infantry 800 chariots
14000 infantry 500 chariots



Phase 1: Repel the invasion from Barkos   Phase 2: Invade Barkos territory and force abdication of their Archon
Phase 1: Capture Helik and force the submission of its Archon, along with tribute and reparations   Phase 2: Repel the invasion from Helik

Cover image: by Vertixico


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