Exalted! - Flight of the Dragons
The War Against the Anathema 578-585
The Anathema Jochim, one of the Forsaken, Exalts and is missed by the Wyld Hunt. He flees from Port Calin Northeast, inciting rebellion and Heresy in his wake. He flees to a city on the River of Tears and establishes himself there as a god-king, turning the city into a fortified military encampment. The first assault on this stronghold by the 25th Legion is defeated outright with a number of Blooded and veteran troops defecting under the influence of his charms.
A second assault late in the year by the noted general Mnemon Arakesh takes the citadel despite heavy casualties done to his two Legions. Jochim escapes the final onslaught and turns northwest along the coast of the Inland sea.
Arakesh pursues Jochim but his troops become bogged down as half a dozen satrapies along his route of march rise in revolt. The Heresy of the Unconquered Sun rises across region and spreads like wildfire in those provinces the Realm does not hold strongly.
By mid 579 a six Legion strike force is assembled under the command of Cathak Tella while two are out under the command of Sesus Chenow. Tella is to crush Jochim’s main encampment southeast of Cherak while Chenow is to make an example of the rebellious satrapies.
Tella’s main strike crushes Jochim’s field army in a pitched action. Over the course of the next three months asymmetric warfare is carried out by Jochim’s fanatics. The main blows are lead by the demon personally as he kills Tella and most of the senior officers in precision strikes. Her legions evaporate over the course of the summer and fall. Arakesh and Chenow make progress in containing the heretic rebels in the region.
The Immaculate Order comes full force against the Anathema, tasking no fewer than five Wyld Hunts to deal with him. With four Legions bogged down and now four others wiped out, the Empress drastically increases the military budget and orders ten new Legions to be raised. Cathak Cainan is called out of retirement to lead five Legions called from the Isle’s reserves as well as his House’s own troops against the Anathema.
Over the course of 580 Cainan hounds the anathema lead heretics away from Realm held territory. The strategy works in that it helps curb the rebellions erupting all across the Northern coast though the Anathema finds the inland barbarians easy prey to his magic and despite serious defeats a number of times he is able to replenish his numbers.
Just past calibration in 581 Cainan corners the demon, once again on the River of Tears. He pins the mortal and blooded thralls into place while an elite Hunt strikes Jochim himself. The Realm troops suffer hideous casualties as the anathema’s magic forces his thralls to fight to the last and hold their positions. The Hunt’s strike is believed initially successful when Jochim suddenly vanishes from the field though they are lost to a man. Later investigation and augury however find that the Solar was gravely wounded but somehow still used sorcery to effect his escape. The remnants of his followers are put to the sword and no slaves are taken.
The Hunt and the order spend most of 582 undoing the damage the Anathema did across thousands of miles of the North while the Legions put the iron boot of the Realm down to crush any remaining resistance. Despite the high concentration of forces the rebellions continue to smolder and the Realm is bled of money and men fighting surprisingly resilient native insurgencies.
In 583 Jochim reappears South of Marama’s Fell. He has somehow raised a new army totaling more than 75,000 men with dozens of Dragon Blooded subverted to his cause. He pushes towards the major ports to clearly deny the Realm access to the area while a new breed of follower appears: missionaries. These move across the North, speaking blasphemy about the Solar Exalted as Chosen of Heaven with the Mandate to Rule Creation.
The Empress immediately orders another expansion of the Legions to help maintain garrisons across Creation as more and more veteran troops are pulled from other directions and assembled to strike back. With the failure of Cathak, Sesus, Mnemon, and Ragara to finish off the Anathema the Empress orders Tepet Hanek, one of Tepet’s sons, to command an unprecedented ten legions against the Anathema.
Hanek follows the advice of his nephew, Arada, to strike immediately at Jochim’s army with the main force while using specialist troops in deep raids to disrupt Jochim’s ability to raise more troops. The Realm will be everywhere while the demon can only be in one place at a time. Hanek allows Arada to lead these strikes while he peruses a policy of skirmishing Jochim and not forcing decisive action. He requisitions massive quantities of reinforcements from the Isle to replace his losses while bleeding the demon of forces.
By early 585 Jochim has been pushed back to a central citadel, a ruined fortress manse just outside of Marama’s Fell. Though whittled the demon can still command tends of thousands of enthralled soldiers to his defense. As the Hunt is concerned over his ability to escape Tepet Arada leads a clandestine deep strike into the manse itself. Many of the Blooded who accompany him fall but finally the demon succumbs to the righteous fury of the Dragons and is slain. Arada returns Hanek the beast’s head as proof of the victory. The final battle is foregone in conclusion, but the mind washed slaves, those with enough sense to realize it anyway, know that they will die at the hands of the Legions no matter the course and fight to the last in a desperate siege action. Tepet Hanek falls to a traitor’s arrow during the battle, leaving Arada to lead the final stages of the battle and claim the spoils of victory.