The Invasion of Venice

An introduction

“…These days Venice is a city built on floating platforms anchored in place by heavy pilings. It has a surprisingly small population, and their free-thinking bent leaves little room for a formal army. However, a surprisingly high proportion are Magicians of various ilks. The sciences of Invention and Alchemy are particularly well represented.”

So says Humperdincke's Almanack of the Known Worlde. Most people interpret this to mean that once past the rest of the Venetian Republic, the city of Venice is easy prey to an attack. Unfortunately for the forces of Albion, they were soon to discover that this was far from the truth.

Plucking truth from the Heavens

Brother Chalk spends some time in seclusion, consulting the stars and drawing up a horoscope to determine what threats the brave Albion troops may encounter in Venice. The stars indicate that the action will succeed, but there will be heavy losses. Working with Walter Devereux, Chalk is able to interpret the chart to provide strategically useful material.

Venice itself is a floating city. It has little in the way of city gates, and obviously storming a city at sea is a quite different affair to an assault by land. In particular, Stafford's Horse Guard and cannon are not brought; from Brother Chalk's horoscope it seems fighting is likely to turn into street warfare where horses would be simply cut down. Indeed, the stars warn most strongly against artillery of any kind; the only way Albion can hope to prevent a return attack from much of Europe is to ensure the supply of fine glassware and instruments from Venice continues, which would be most difficult were the city to be damaged by cannonfire.

Venice will use many magics against the attackers; Alchemy and Invention are very well represented in the city. However, their most damaging magics will not be used as long as their workshops remain safe and undamaged. However, if the Magicians feel they have nothing to lose there could be huge loss of life.

There is also another dire warning; many men will be lost before the ships reach Venice itself; the Navy will be surprised by an enemy in the waters near the city.

Albion prepares for invasion

The first step in the plan is the infiltration of Venice. Major-General the Duke William Stafford assists Major-General the Lord Walter Devereux with the planning of the infiltration. Devereux himself arranges the best of the 31st Herefords, aiming to infiltrate Venice disguised as sailors.

Duke Stafford marshals his 12 regiments, as well as Prince Richard's troops. He provides two regiments to Mandrake for his diversionary assaults, and provides much of the military planning and command of the assault itself.

Admiral the Lady Hamilton seems almost supernaturally efficient organising the logistics of the mission, ensuring the Navy is well supplied with all they need for the long trip to Venice and planning the best route to avoid enemy shipping. Prince Richard travels on Admiral Hamilton's flagship, and helps to advise the troops during the assault; it is obvious that he is lacking in skills and experience compared to the other veterans leading the mission, but with constant messengers arranged by the Admiral the young Prince is not left feeling useless; indeed, he is extremely proud to be serving with such skilled officers.

Venice is infiltrated

Walter Devereux's forces sneak into Venice a few days before the attack itself is expected, disguised as Turkish sailors. Christopher Orion is surprisingly accomplished; in fact, if you hadn't seen him without his disguise you would swear he was an actual Turkish sailor. However, you are eyed with some suspicion; The Ottomans are viewed with some suspicion by the Venetians after their attack on Malta, and relations are still not as good as they could be.

And indeed, fortune seems to be favouring the faithful sons of Albion as they explore the city; it is made up of glorified floating barges, separated by the traditional canals of Venice; although it seems surprisingly stable, all things considered. There are no gates as such, although there is a low wooden barrier around the outside of the city, excluding the docks, to ensure that the gondolas no are not swept out to sea.

Gondolas; also an interesting point. The traditional methods of propulsion seem to have been consigned to history. Many of these have been converted into paddle-boats, although some are towed by sea serpents.

Devereux's men find various strategic locations to position themselves in the city, in particular targeting the defences of the city and the Royal Palace of the Doge. There are a number of cannon positioned toward the centre of the city on floating platforms, able to be moved to where they are needed at short notice. It is a simple matter to keep soldiers nearby to destroy these when the forces of Albion approach.

The first blows are struck

Just before dusk on the night of the planned attack, Devereux's forces see a number of Bathyscaphes rising up out of the water at the city's docks. There is a commotion, and messengers are sent to many areas of the city. One of the Bathyscaphes is particularly large, and seems to have what looks like the barrel of a cannon attached to a dome on the top. The gentleman who emerges from this one is given much deference; he seems to be an important gentleman (later you discover from one of your men at the docks that his name is Signore Angelo Benedetto).

A group of men head out from the Guild of Cannoneers, straight toward the cannon-barges in the centre of the city. It is obvious that they intend to start moving them toward the southern edge of the city from where the forces of Albion will approach. Devereux acts quickly; once the barges are moved, they will be split up and much harder to stop. The signal is given, and the fighting starts.

The cannoneers are quickly cut down; they are artillerymen, little used to close combat. Gunpowder charges are used thrown into the powder stores on the cannon barges, which explode in a series of large detonations. The people of Venice panic, running this way and that, some trying to get to their houses and some trying to get to the docks to escape.

However, simultaneously with the attack on the cannoneers, a force of men swarm from Devereux's ship, fighting to take control of the docks. Many of the Bathyscaphe pilots are long gone into the centre of Venice, but some are at their vessels – including Signore Angelo Benedetto. Fight as they may, the forces of Albion cannot prevent these from escaping.

The docks are soon taken, but the men at the centre of the City (including Devereux himself) despite their early huge success are soon being fought back by the city miltia. These are nowhere near as well-trained as Devereux's forces, but they have one thing the Dragoons lack; Potions. As the Almanac says, Venice is full of Alchemists and Inventors; and when under attack, they are all too happy to provide assistance to the defenders.

Devereux and his men force their way into the palace of the Doge, assisted by the men who were preparing for just this occurrence. The guards are taken by surprise from behind, and the forces of Albion quickly barricade the entrances into the palace. However, the Doge himself refuses to cooperate, even on pain of death or torture, and a stalemate situation quickly develops. Devereux's men hold the docks and the palace, but there are still hours to go until the main attack force arrives.

The Navy is taken unawares

For the Navy forces, sailing in after dusk to arrive by midnight, the first hint of trouble comes not long after Venice itself is first spotted. The lookouts are keeping a sharp eye out for anything out of the ordinary, forewarned by Brother Chalk's horoscope. However, they see nothing except the occasional sea bird.

Suddenly there is an explosion below the waterline of one of the Albion vessels, and the ship starts listing to one side. The nearby vessels veer off, unsure of the cause and worried about their own skins. The holed ship is hit twice more, and then another of Albion's vessels gets its taste of what is clearly some underwater assailant.

The fleet is thrown into disarray, captains trying to escape from an enemy they cannot see. Except for one boat, commanded by Anastasia Hamilton, which seems to be jury-rigging some new weapon to the underside of the boat. One of the crew, obviously a good swimmer, heads down to act as a spotter for this unusual new weapon; and not a moment too soon. Three more of Albion's ships have been hit, and are sinking beneath the waves by the time this new weapon can be brought to bear.

However, the Bathyscaphe, as it turns out to be, is a more elusive prey than expected. It speeds through the water, dodging from side to side and virtually impossible to find in the dark waters. However, before long the enemy seems to run out of ammunition, and heads off. Five ships have been lost, although many of their crews have been saved by other ships. Many more would have died, had Captain Hamilton's cannon not kept the enemy busy.

Their previously soaring morale severely dented, the navy continue onward. As they approach the city, the soldiers tense – but no cannon fire is forthcoming. It seems Devereux's forces have disabled whatever defences Venice might have against an invading army.

From the crows nests of the ships come reports of the fighting in Venice.

The infiltrators besieged; an encounter with a Demon

The milita of Venice take a while to react effectively to the capture of the Doge's Palace; the people of the city value their Doge above all men, and are extremely leery of putting him in danger. However they value their freedom more, and with reports of ships approaching the city they lead an assault on the Palace. Christopher Orion helps immensely at keeping the Venetians at bay; he is obviously experienced at siege warfare. However, after some time fighting, a vast roaring is heard in the Magical Quarter (not too aptly named; it is a fully three-quarters of the city), as storm clouds brew overhead. A feeling of dread falls over the city.

And then the mood breaks; a wave of martial fervour fills the city, as everybody feels the urge to fight, to hack at their enemies, to cut them to pieces; the desire for War! And from behind the lines of the Venetian army comes a new body of Demonic warriors, led by an enormous figure in archaic plate armour. This new leader directs his forces forwards, to assault the Albion position. The outlook seems bleak.

However, against orders Christopher Orion leaves the palace with a small group of battle-crazed men, heading straight for the armoured form. The men he brings with him are swiftly cut down by the demonic forces arrayed against them, but Orion makes it to the armoured figure with nary a scratch; the demons seem loath to attack him.

The first clash of rings out across Venice, and time seems to slow; the combatants stop fighting each other, their eyes drawn to the fight. The armoured figure is much stronger, but Orion is faster and seems to have an unnatural anger in his eyes. Their battle moves back and forth through the streets of Venice, eventually coming to a climax at the centre of the Rialto Bridge..

Christopher Orion with a stunning blow knocks the helmet off the armoured figure, revealing a hideous demonic visage beneath, and disarms the demon on the backswing. And proceeds to flay the face from the figure in front of him, and taking it triumphantly in his hand. The demon falls from the bridge, into the Grand Canal. As he hits the water, his Demonic forces start screaming in pain and smoking, and soon vanish in a cloud of brimstone.

(When Devereux returns to Albion, men he had set to keep an eye on Orion inform him that he had a nun sent to Venice in a box a few days before the event.)

The mood changes once more, to confusion, as both sides regain use of their wits. The fighting starts once more, but both sides are somewhat disoriented by these events; indeed, the Militia of Venice have only just started to get their act together again by the time the main Albion forces arrive. However, the Magical quarter has been suspiciously quiet since the abortive demon-summoning..

The Navy arrives; The Venetian Magicians take their toll

The ships of Albion eventually land at the docks, relieving the beleaguered and by this time very small force of Devereux's troops. Admiral Hamilton joins the forces holding the docks. Devereux himself is still at the Palace, and it is toward there that the troops head first, commanded by William Stafford who leads his forces valiantly forward. However, the Duke soon discoverers that this will not be a normal battle.

The Alchemists of Venice have not been idle; as Stafford's forces move forward and fight through the Venetian militia, he sees a disturbance behind him; a force of strange Alchemically modified humans have leapt out of the water behind his troops, blocking off the route and flanking his troops. However, Stafford rallies his troops quickly, fighting off the Venetian Fish-Men and forcing them back into the water.

The men and women of Albion advance once more, heading through the streets of Albion, the preparations made beforehand having set them in good stead for the battle ahead. However, the Venetians are obviously much more used to street fighting and are causing significant casualties in the forces of the invaders.

Things are not made easier by a number of units wearing some kind of flexible plate armour. The attackers' muskets seem to have little effect on these, and swords which hit them start to weaken and soon break. However, the armour does have some chinks, and each unit is eventually conquered – but not without heavy casualties.

As the forces of Albion approach the Palace, Devereux stages a daring assault on the backs of the Venetian militia, causing heavy damage and linking the two forces together.

However, the battle is not yet over. From a building in the Magical quarter steps a huge mechanical man, ten feet tall. The front of its head is made of fine Venetian glass, seemingly over an inch thick, and there is the face of a man behind it. It strides out onto the street, heedless of the weaponry of the invaders. Muskets seem to have no effect on it, and swords seem to merely scratch its metal body.

The mechanical man strides through the Albion troops, not even deigning to use a weapon, sweeping soldiers off the streets and into the canal, picking them up and crushing their bodies, and throwing them back into the faces of their countrymen. Albion's forces attempt to back off and regroup, but the metal giant is too fast for them.

However, Stafford comes up with a cunning plan; to lead the giant onto a bridge and force it off the side. Stafford himself leads the troops on this risky maneuver, running as fast as possible across the bridge, However, this plan does not work quite as expected; Stafford himself ends up at the rear of his troops, and is struck from behind by the mechanical monstrosity. However, before it can finish him off, the bridge itself starts to buckle under the weight of the device. Stafford starts to slide down the ruined bridge into the canal, but Devereux heroically leaps to the rescue.

Meanwhile, all is not well at the docks. Although Venice seems almost taken, a threat comes from an unexpected direction. Prince Richard stands at the prow of Admiral Hamilton's flagship, keeping track of the battle by messenger. However, unbeknownst to him, Venetian Fish-Men have swum up to the side of the ship and are soon climbing up the sides, hanging on through some strange magical means.

They leap over the side of the ship – straight onto the swords of his already warned bodyguard. Hamilton had fortunately ensured that a watch was kept on the water, expecting more bathyscaphes.

The Aftermath

The results of the battle are somewhat bleak. Fully half of the invading troops have been killed or injured too badly to fight again. Although it is technically a victory, the fight was one of the bloodiest Albion has faced in a long time.

And the results could have been even worse – if Brother Chalk had not given warning of the type of forces that would be faced, if Devereux had not taken the docks and the Palace, preventing the Doge from organising the defences, if Hamilton had not prevented the Bathyscaphe from destroying even more ships, if Stafford had not been in the forefront of the battle leading his troops..

The Doge himself is safe, and kept prisoner in his palace. The city itself is almost entirely intact, remarkably. However, the people of Venice are angry at the invasion and occupation of their city. Few are currently willing to work for Albion, and the little that is being produced has been commandeered by the Crown for use by the Court Theurgists. There are angry responses from many European countries, however nobody is yet trying to re-take Venice.

bonus.venice.txt · Last modified: 2008/03/10 22:44 by gareth