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【书籍搬运】Report: Disaster at Ionith 艾欧尼斯的灾难

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原文出处:http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Report:_Disaster_at_Ionith

调查委员会主席波特雷德伯爵撰写

ssir译

一份有关尤里尔五世远征阿卡维尔大陆的帝国官方调查报告

第一部分:战前准备

皇帝在2世纪70年代就开始筹划远征阿卡维尔大陆的计划,当时他刚刚发动了征服泰姆瑞尔大陆和阿卡维尔大陆之间诸弱小岛国的战争。随着埃斯罗里特的黑港于282年被攻占,尤里尔五世把目光投向了最终的目标。他立即下令对黑港港口进行大规模的修缮改造,该港口将被用作远征军的集结处以及整个战役中主要的后勤补给站。在这个时期,他还开始动工建造许多海军所缺乏的大型越洋运输舰,为将来的跨海作战作准备。可以看出,皇帝早在征服埃斯罗里特之前就开始为远征做精心的准备,而不是像有人指责的那样是一时的冲动。

当埃斯罗里特王子巴肖蒙于284年举国向帝国当局投降后,皇帝能够全身心地为阿卡维尔战役作准备。海军的探险队于285年至286年间被派遣出去侦查大陆间的航道以及阿卡维尔的沿海地区;各色各样的帝国间谍,使用法术的或依靠普通途径的,都被雇佣来收集情报。在汇总所有情报的基础上,位于阿卡维尔西南部的采斯其王国被选为入侵的第一个目标。 与此同时,皇帝也一直在集结他的远征军。为这次战役新组建的远东舰队在相当长一段时间内都将傲视其余的海军舰队;据说该舰队是泰姆瑞尔史上最为强大的一支。第五、第七、第十和第十四军团被选中承担最初的登陆作战,待占领登陆点后,第九和第十七军团将最为后备军投入增援。外行人可能会认为相对于帝国军队庞大的数量来说,参战军队规模太小,但有一点必须记住,维持一支远征军所需的补给线将会漫长而脆弱;另外,皇帝和将军们都认为至少最初的入侵行动不会遭到激烈抵抗。不过或许最为根本的原因是:海军拥有的运输能力只能够一次运载四个军团。 这里需要说明一点,调查委员会(以下简称委员会)没有在皇帝的战前准备中发现任何毛病。基于在远征前所能获得的情报(当时已经尽一切努力来收集情报,虽然从事后看,这些情报量还是远远不够),委员会认为皇帝没有行事鲁莽且不计后果。有些人指责远征军的规模太小,但委员会的意见恰恰相反,即使能够找到足够的船只来运输和供给更多的军团(这毫无疑问会损害整个帝国的商贸往来),也不可能避免最终的失败,只不过造成更大的灾难而已。另一方面,难道帝国就不需要军团来保护了吗;篡位者卡莫兰的暴行仍然犹在眼前,而皇帝也认为(这点委员会表示赞同),把过多的军力布置在泰姆瑞尔之外将无法保证帝国的安全。如果一定要找出问题的话,委员会认为远征军的规模过于庞大了。尽管在其统治期间,皇帝组建了两个新的军团(另外还重建了第五军团),但远征军的覆灭还是使帝国的中心相对其外省而言,处于一个十分危险的虚弱境地,现在我们的处境就非常清楚的表明了这一点。这告诉我们,征伐阿卡维尔是帝国目前的力量所不能及的,即使皇帝能够动员并维持一支强大的军队出征阿卡维尔,其也可能造成帝国本身的分崩离析。

第二部分:远征阿卡维尔

远征军于288年雨手月23日离开黑港,在风平浪静的海面上行驶了6个星期后抵达阿卡维尔大陆。登陆点是一个采斯其小港,位于一条大河的河口,之所以选中它,是因为该港地处一个肥沃的山谷,既有利于大军征集粮草,也便于进入内陆。战事最初进行的很顺利,采斯其人在远征军接近时就放弃了镇子,所以军队很快就占领了它,并重新命名为赛普蒂弥尔,这也是帝国新设阿卡维尔行省的第一个定居点。工匠们开始在镇子里修建防御工事,并扩充改造港口设施,以容纳远东舰队停泊,皇帝则亲率两个军团挺进内陆。一路上,周围都是肥沃且灌溉良好的田地,大军没遇到任何抵抗就在大河上游占领了第二座被丢弃的城镇。该城被命名为艾欧尼斯,因为其比赛普蒂弥尔大得多,且所处位置能够更好地控制周围地区,皇帝把自己的行营设在此处。

到目前为止,远征军还没有遇到过真正的抵抗,虽然因为忌惮敌人的游击骑兵,军队只敢派遣较大规模的侦察队出去侦探情况。有一件事,皇帝现在深感忧虑,那就是缺少骑兵部队来开展侦察活动,当初因为缺少船只的缘故,马匹不曾被带来。在现阶段,只能通过战斗法师运用法术收集情报来勉强弥补这个遗憾。 此时,皇帝开始向外派遣使节,试图和采斯其王或者统治此地的其他任何人取得联系,但他的使节全都有去无回。回顾这件事,委员会认为:为了试图谈判而将军队滞留在艾欧尼斯浪费了宝贵的时机,这段时间本可乘敌人仍然惊骇于突然的入侵行动时,派兵迅速出击,扩大战果。然而,皇帝却认为采斯其人将会威慑于他的力量,从而使他能够通过谈判来赢得一个行省,而无需进行真正的战斗。 与此同时,那四个军团正在忙碌着从事着建筑工作:修筑一条连接赛普蒂弥尔和艾欧尼斯的道路;沿河岸建造许多坚固的守望哨所;加固两座城镇的城防工事,这些工作在后面将会派上用处。因为没有侦骑,军队的侦察范围很有限,又因为军队仍然不能有效地控制敌人的游击骑兵,两座城镇之间的联系一直受到被阻断的威胁。 按照原先的计划,一旦占领登陆港口,两个后备军团就要马上投入增援,但此时一个致命的决定作出了:推迟后备军团的的增援,取而代之的是用远东舰队运来大批移民。皇帝和议会一致认为,因为所占地区已被其居民完全遗弃,所以需要大量移民来耕种田地,以使远征军的给养不必完全依靠海运。另外,在伊涅斯利发生了暴乱,阻塞了通往阿卡维尔的补给线,议会认为第九和第十七军团最好被用来平定这些属地的骚动以确保远征军补给线的安全。 前来垦荒的平民带着他们的辎重于炉火月的中旬陆续到达赛普蒂弥尔,并着手接管来年春耕的准备工作(这些工作已由军团士兵开了个头)。一批军马也在此时跨海运来配发部队,敌骑对两个帝国定居点周围地区的劫掠活动随之匿迹。采斯其的使节终于来到了艾欧尼斯,声称要进行和平谈判,远征军官兵们也安顿下来,开始静待一个料想中平静的冬天。 在这段时间,议会一直在催促皇帝随舰队回到泰姆瑞尔,好乘军队在冬季休整时处理掉许多迫切的帝国政务,但皇帝还是觉得留在阿卡维尔比较好。事后证明这个决定是幸运的,因为在归航途中,远东舰队的大量舰只,包括皇帝的旗舰在内都在一场初冬的暴风雨中被摧毁了。288年至289年冬天的暴风雨季反常的漫长和严酷,这阻止了舰队按原计划携带增添的给养返回阿卡维尔。这个消息由战斗法师发送给皇帝,后者表示远征军能够依靠手头的粮草熬到明年春天。

第三部分:远征军的覆灭

阿卡维尔的冬天同样比预计的要冷得多。因为粮草没有得到补充且额外增加了数千平民,远征军不得不实行严格的配给制。令情况更糟糕的是,采斯其游击骑兵又大规模地返回了该地区,他们袭击任何一支活动在两座城镇城墙之外的征粮队和侦察队。数个设在赛普蒂弥尔和艾欧尼斯之间的路边哨所在暴风雪中被敌人攻占,剩下的哨所因为难于防守而被迫放弃。结果,两座城镇之间的联系只好完全依赖法术,这使军团的战斗法师们整日疲惫不堪。

在日晓月5日,一个庞大的采斯其使团来到艾欧尼斯,声称从采斯其王那里带来了和平提议。当天晚上,这些奸诈的使节暗杀了一座城门的守卫,放入了早就埋伏在城外的大群同伙。他们的目的显然是要刺杀皇帝,幸亏保卫宫殿的第十军团将士高度警惕且作战勇敢,这个企图才没有达成。警报拉响后,进入城里的采斯其人被追杀殆尽。毋容置疑,皇帝和采斯其人之间的和谈走到了尽头。 春季的到来反而带来了更大的麻烦。没有预料中的春雨,有的只是炎热而干燥的东风,时强时弱地刮了整整一个夏天。谷物绝收了,甚至河流(上一年尚能乘小船航行至艾欧尼斯上游很远的地方)也在日高月完全干涸。现在尚不清楚这是缘于阿卡维尔独特的气候规律,还是因为采斯其人通过法术操控了天气。委员会倾向于前者,因为目前没有直接证据可以证明采斯其人掌握了这种可怕的神秘力量,但是也不能完全排除后者的可能性。 由于糟糕的天气比往年持续的时间更长,装载着补给品的舰队迟迟不能从黑港起锚。在次种月,舰队终于驶离了港口,但却又一次在航行中遭到暴风雨的重创,等它跌跌撞撞地驶进赛普蒂弥尔港时,已经损失了大量船只。考虑到阿卡维尔的粮草供应正在陷入越来越令人绝望的困境,皇帝将他的大部分战斗法师队伍都配备给了舰队,以帮助它克服可能要持续整个夏天的暴风雨。此时,议会开始催促皇帝放弃入侵计划,带领远征军回国,但陛下再一次拒绝了,理由是此时的舰队无法将四个军团一次载回。委员会同意皇帝的观点,即:留下一个左右的军团待在阿卡维尔等待舰队会摧毁留守军队的士气。但委员会同时认为,损失一个军团总比损失整个远征军要来得好。委员会成员一致的意见是,此处是避免彻底毁灭的最后机会。当最终的决定要求舰队返航去运载增援部队和给养时,事情便不可避免地要以悲剧收场了。 从这一刻开始,有关在阿卡维尔发生的事情我们便所知甚少了。由于大部分战斗法师都被派去支援舰队,远征军和泰姆瑞尔之间的联系受到很大限制,当恶化的局势迫使剩余的战斗法师竭尽全力来服务于军队的各种需求时,这种限制尤为明显。另一方面,采斯其人也可能一直都在使用某种未知的手段干扰法师们施法。一些留在阿卡维尔的法师报告说他们的魔力反常的虚弱,而赛瑞迪尔军事学院的法师们(他们负责议会与前线的联系)则报告说,他们在与前线的同行建立通讯连接时遇到了许多问题,即使在有长期工作默契的师徒之间也是如此。委员会已经敦促军事学院对采斯其人的神秘力量进行专门的研究,因为帝国在任何时候都可能再次卷入同阿卡维尔之间的冲突。 已知的情况是,皇帝在日高月中旬率军离开艾欧尼斯,只留下很少的部队守城。他已经获悉采斯其人正在山脉靠北的一侧集结军队,于是打算在敌人聚集足够的力量之前击垮他们,并夺其粮草(这是皇帝紧缺的)。这次快速出击打了采斯其人一个措手不及,远征军翻过山脊,直扑敌人的营地,击溃了采斯其军队并俘虏了他们的首领(一个某位阶的贵族)。但很快皇帝就被迫撤退了,且军队在退往艾欧尼斯的途中中损失惨重。在艾欧尼斯,皇帝发现自己陷入了重围,与驻守赛普蒂弥尔的少量守军的联系也被完全切断,后者也已被敌军包围。在围城期间,仅剩下的少数战斗法师把他们的全部精力都用在了为军队制作饮用水上,以前在军事学院时,这个技能可毫不起眼。远东舰队终于安全返回了黑港,这多亏战斗法师们的帮忙。但在289年剩下的日子里,一连串比先前更猛烈的暴风雨袭卷了埃斯罗里特,这使得舰队重返阿卡维尔大陆的所有尝试都遭到了失败。 议会最后一次与皇帝进行联系是在霜降月初。到了夜星月,议会实在是担忧阿卡维尔的局势,于是命令舰队不惜一切代价都要抵达前线。尽管一路上连续遭遇暴风雨,舰队还是设法迫近了阿卡维尔,并与皇帝的战斗法师取得了联系,后者报告说艾欧尼斯仍在抵抗,这让大家又燃起了希望。撤退计划很快被制定出来:在艾欧尼斯的远征军将奋力突破重围,撤往赛普蒂弥尔,远东舰队将会在那儿接应。当舰队抵达赛普蒂弥尔时,发现当地守军正遭到采斯其大军的猛烈攻击。舰队的战斗法师们设法将敌军逼退一定的距离,以使幸存者能够上船,舰队能够撤离。 据逃到赛普蒂弥尔的少数远征军幸存者说,皇帝于两天前乘黑夜率军冲出艾欧尼斯城,并成功地突破了敌人的封锁线,但紧接着就在前往赛普蒂弥尔的路上被占压倒性优势的敌人包围了。他们描绘了皇帝和第十军团将士在最后时刻的英勇身姿,正是由于他们的英勇,使十四军团的残部得以逃回赛普蒂弥尔。当天晚上,第十军团的两个幸存者也逃到了赛普蒂弥尔,他们是乘着敌人在庆功狂欢时偷偷溜过封锁线的。这两个人确认了皇帝的死讯,陛下是在指挥重整第十军团的盾墙时被敌人的箭矢射中的。

第四部分:总结

委员会认为:因为某些原因,远征阿卡维尔大陆的计划从一开始就注定会失败,不幸的是,这些原因无法被预见。 尽管在战前收集了大量的情报,但远征军显然对阿卡维尔的严酷环境准备不足。肆虐了整个战役的恶劣天气是一场彻底的大灾难,严重地损伤了帝国陆海军。如果远东舰队没有在风暴中损失了她的大半舰只,远征军本可以在289年安全撤退。恶劣的天气还迫使皇帝将大部份战斗法师派往了舰队,这使得陛下在不久后发生的战斗中无法得到法师们宝贵的帮助。当然,还有于289年袭击了艾欧尼斯的那场旱灾,这场意料之外的灾难击碎了军队就地获得给养的希望,并使远征军在艾欧尼斯围城战中处于一个无法长期坚守的境地。 采斯其人也远比战前情报所认为的要强大。由于唯一一场激烈的战斗发生在皇帝和议会的正常联系被切断之后,所以我们无法清楚的获悉采斯其人最终在战场上投入了多大规模的军队。不过,采斯其军的数量极有可能超过远征军数倍,因为他们能够击退四个精锐的帝国军团,并将其围困达数月之久。 就如先前声明的那样,委员会无意指责最初的远征决定。基于当时的情报分析,这个战争计划已做的非常得好。我们仅仅是因为能够从事后看,才发现远征是很明显没有胜算的。不过,委员会认为,我们可以从这场灾难中吸取一些宝贵的经验。 首先,采斯其人可能掌握了某种威力巨大的神秘力量。说他们能够在如此广阔的区域里操纵气候似乎是一件令人匪夷所思的事(有三个委员甚至坚决反对将这段章节加入报告),但是委员会认为,需要立即调查这种可能性。因为它潜在的威胁实在是太大了,即使是微小的可能也必须被严肃对待。 其次,采斯其人似乎没有任何海军部队。远征军从来没有遇到过来自海上的威胁,远东舰队除了天气以外没有任何对手。实际上,初始的计划要求舰队的一部分留在阿卡维尔,在沿海地区开展军事活动。但结果发现,在赛普蒂弥尔南北两个方向的沿海海域中滋生着无数的暗礁、沙洲和小岛,远东舰队的大型舰只根本无法靠近陆地。又因为在赛普蒂弥尔和艾欧尼斯周围的平原上没有任何树林,远征军也无法建造能够在海岸边的浅水区航行的小型舰只。因此,未来任何针对阿卡维尔的军事活动都必须考虑携带能够开展近海军事活动的航行工具,以充分利用这个相对采斯其人而言明显的优势,一个远征军令人悲伤地没有加以利用的优势。 再次,哪怕仅仅是讨论下一次远征计划的可行性,也必须是在对阿卡维尔大陆的长期调查完成之后进行。在远征前的四年时间里收集来的情报无疑是内容丰富的,但却明显是不够的。气候状况完全出乎意料;采斯其人远比预计的要强大;皇帝同采斯其人之间的谈判尝试则是一场灾难。阿卡维尔大陆与我们的差异比预想的要大得多,委员会认为,除非我们对于那块大陆上的环境、政治和居民情况有了远比现在要详尽的认识,否则不必考虑任何针对阿卡维尔开展军事活动的提议。 最后,委员会成员一致得出结论:依据目前已知的情况,任何想要远征阿卡维尔的企图都是愚蠢的,至少在帝国现在的状况下是如此。帝国的军队需要留在国内。总有一天,一个安定的、统一的帝国会重返阿卡维尔,让采斯其人为艾欧尼斯的灾难,为我们倒下的皇帝付出惨重的代价。但这一天不是现在,也不在可以预见的将来。

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Report: Disaster at Ionith
by Lord Pottreid, Chairman
An Imperial-scripted dispatch concerning Uriel V's invasion of Akavir

 Part I: Preparations
The Emperor's plans for the invasion of Akavir were laid in the 270s, when he began the conquest of the small island kingdoms that lie between Tamriel and Akavir. With the fall of Black Harbor inEsroniet in 282Uriel V was already looking ahead to the ultimate prize. He immediately ordered extensive renovations to the port, which would serve as the marshalling point for the invasion force and as the main supply source throughout the campaign. At this time he also began the construction of the many large, ocean-going transports that would be needed for the final crossing to Akavir, in which the Navy was previously deficient. Thus it can be seen that the Emperor's preparations for the invasion were laid well in advance, before even the conquest of Esroniet was complete, and was not a sudden whim as some have charged.
When Prince Bashomon yielded Esroniet to Imperial authority in 284, the Emperor's full attention could be devoted to planning for the Akaviri campaign. Naval expeditions were dispatched in 285 and286 to scout the sea lanes and coastlands of Akavir; and various Imperial intelligence agents, bothmagical and mundane, were employed to gather information. On the basis of all this information, thekingdom of the Tsaesci, in the southwest of Akavir, was selected as the initial target for the invasion.
Meanwhile the Emperor was gathering his Expeditionary Force. A new Far East Fleet was created for the campaign, which for a time dwarfed the rest of the Navy; it is said to be the most powerful fleet ever assembled in the history of Tamriel. The Fifth, Seventh, Tenth, and Fourteenth Legionswere selected for the initial landing, with the Ninth and Seventeenth to follow as reinforcements once the beachhead was secured. While this may seem to the layman a relatively small fraction of the Army's total manpower, it must be remembered that this Expeditionary Force would have to be maintained at the end of a long and tenuous supply line; in addition, the Emperor and the Army command believed that the invasion would not be strongly opposed, at least at first. Perhaps most crucially, the Navy had only enough heavy transport capacity to move four legions at a time.
It should be noted here that the Commission does not find fault with the Emperor's preparations for the invasion. Based on the information available prior to the invasion, (which, while obviously deficient in hindsight, great effort had been made to accumulate), the Commission believes that the Emperor did not act recklessly or imprudently. Some have argued that the Expeditionary Force was too small. The Commission believes that on the contrary, even if shipping could have been found to transport and supply more legions (an impossibility without crippling the trade of the entire Empire), this would have merely added to the scale of the disaster; it would not have averted it. Neither could the rest of the Empire be denuded of legions; the memory of the Camoran Usurper was still fresh, and the Emperor believed (and this Commission agrees) that the security of the Empire precluded a larger concentration of military force outside of Tamriel. If anything, the Commission believes that the Expeditionary Force was too large. Despite the creation of two new legions during his reign (and the recreation of the Fifth), the loss of the Expeditionary Force left the Empire in a dangerously weak position relative to the provinces, as the current situation makes all too clear. This suggests that the invasion of Akavir was beyond the Empire's current strength; even if the Emperor could have fielded and maintained a larger force in Akavir, the Empire may have disintegrated behind him.
 

Part II: The Invasion of Akavir
The Expeditionary Force left Black Harbor on 23rd Rain's Hand, 288, and with fair weather landed in Akavir after six weeks at sea. The landing site was a small Tsaesci port at the mouth of a large river, chosen for its proximity to Tamriel as well as its location in a fertile river valley, giving easy access to the interior as well as good foraging for the army. All went well at first. The Tsaesci had abandoned the town when the Expeditionary Force approached, so they took possession of it and renamed it Septimia, the first colony of the new Imperial Province of Akavir. While the engineers fortified the town and expanded the port facilities to serve the Far East Fleet, the Emperor marched inland with two legions. The surrounding land was reported to be rich, well-watered fields, and meeting no resistance the army took the next city upriver, also abandoned. This was refounded as Ionith, and the Emperor established his headquarters there, being much larger than Septimia and better-located to dominate the surrounding countryside.
The Expeditionary Force had yet to meet any real resistance, although the legions were constantly shadowed by mounted enemy patrols which prevented any but large scouting parties from leaving the main body of the army. One thing the Emperor sorely lacked was cavalry, due to the limited space on the transport fleet, although for the time being the battlemages made up for this with magical reconnaissance.
The Emperor now sent out envoys to try to contact the Tsaesci king or whoever ruled this land, but his messengers never returned. In retrospect, the Commission believes that valuable time was wasted in this effort while the army was stalled at Ionith, which could have been better spent in advancing quickly while the enemy was still, apparently, surprised by the invasion. However, the Emperor believed at the time that the Tsaesci could be overawed by the Empire's power and he might win a province by negotiation with no need for serious fighting.
Meanwhile, the four legions were busy building a road between Septimia and Ionith, setting up fortified guard posts along the river, and fortifying both cities' defences, activities which would serve them well later. Due to their lack of cavalry, scouting was limited, and communication between the two cities constantly threatened by enemy raiders, with which the legions were still unable to come to grips.
The original plan had been to bring the two reinforcing legions across as soon as the initial landing had secured a port, but the fateful decision was now taken to delay their arrival and instead begin using the Fleet to transport colonists. The Emperor and the Council agreed that, due to the complete abandonment of the conquered area by its native population, colonists were needed to work the fields so that the Expeditionary Force would not have to rely entirely on the fleet for supplies. In addition, unrest had broken out in Yneslea, athwart the supply route to Akavir, and the Council believed the Ninth and Seventeenth legions would be better used in repacifying those territories and securing the Expeditionary Force's supply lines.
The civilian colonists and their supplies began arriving in Septimia in mid-Hearthfire, and they took over the preparation of the fields (which had been started by the legionnaires) for a spring crop. A number of cavalry mounts were also brought over at this time, and the raids on the two Imperial colonies subsequently fell off. Tsaesci emissaries also finally arrived in Ionith, purportedly to begin peace negotiations, and the Expeditionary Force settled in for what was expected to be a quiet winter.
At this time, the Council urged the Emperor to return to Tamriel with the Fleet, to deal with many pressing matters of the Empire while the army was in winter quarters, but the Emperor decided that it would be best to remain in Akavir. This turned out to be fortunate, because a large portion of the Fleet, including the Emperor's flagship, was destroyed by an early winter storm during the homeward voyage. The winter storm season of 288-289 was unusually prolonged and exceptionally severe, and prevented the Fleet from returning to Akavir as planned with additional supplies. This was reported to the Emperor via battlemage and it was agreed that the Expeditionary Force could survive on what supplies it had on hand until the spring.
 

Part III: The Destruction of the Expeditionary Force
The winter weather in Akavir was also much more severe than expected. Due to the supply problems and the addition of thousands of civilians, the Expeditionary Force was on tight rations. To make matters worse, the Tsaesci raiders returned in force and harried any foraging and scouting parties outside the walls of the two cities. Several watch forts on the road between Septimia and Ionith were captured during blizzards, and the rest had to be abandoned as untenable. As a result, communication between the two cities had to be conducted entirely by magical means, a continuing strain on the legions' battlemages.
On 5th Sun's Dawn, a large entourage of Tsaesci arrived at Ionith claiming to bring a peace offer from the Tsaesci king. That night, these treacherous envoys murdered the guards at one of the city gates and let in a strong party of their comrades who were waiting outside the city walls. Their clear intention was to assassinate the Emperor, foiled only by the vigilance and courage of troopers of the Tenth who were guarding his palace. Once the alarm was raised, the Tsaesci inside the city were hunted down and killed to the last man. Needless to say, this was the end of negotiations between the Emperor and the Tsaesci.
The arrival of spring only brought worse troubles. Instead of the expected spring rains, a hot dry wind began to blow from the east, continuing with varying strength through the entire summer. The crops failed, and even the river (which in the previous year had been navigable by small boats far upstream of Ionith) was completely dried up by Sun's Height. It is unknown if this was due to a previously unknown weather pattern unique to Akavir, or if the Tsaesci manipulated the weather through magical means. The Commission leans towards the former conclusion, as there is no direct evidence of the Tsaesci possessing such fearsome arcane power, but the latter possibility cannot be entirely ruled out.
Due to prolonged bad weather, the supply fleet was late in setting out from Black Harbor. It finally left port in early Second Seed, but was again severely mauled by storms and limped into Septimia eight weeks later much reduced. Because of the increasingly desperate supply situation in Akavir, the Emperor dispatched most of his Battlemage Corps with the fleet to assist it in weathering the storms which seemed likely to continue all summer. At this time, the Council urged the Emperor to abandon the invasion and to return to Tamriel with the Expeditionary Force, but he again refused, noting that the fleet was no longer large enough to transport all four legions at once. The Commission agrees that leaving one or more legions behind in Akavir to await the return of the fleet would have damaged Army morale. But the Commission also notes that the loss of one legion would have been preferable to the loss of the entire Expeditionary Force. It is the unanimous opinion of the Commission that this was the last point at which complete disaster might have been averted. Once the decision was made to send the fleet back for reinforcements and supplies, events proceeded to their inevitable conclusion.
From this point on, much less is known about what transpired in Akavir. With most of the battlemages assisting the fleet, communication between the Expeditionary Force and Tamriel was limited, especially as the situation in Akavir worsened and the remaining battlemages had their powers stretched to the limit attending to all the needs of the legions. However, it appears that the Tsaesci may also have been actively interfering with the mages in some unknown manner. Some of the mages in Akavir reported their powers being abnormally weak, and the mages of the War College in Cyrodiil (who were handling communications for the Council) reported problems linking up with their compatriots in Akavir, even between master and pupil of long training. The Commission urges that the War College make a particular study of the arcane powers of the Tsaesci, should the Empire ever come into conflict with Akavir again.
What is known is that the Emperor marched out of Ionith in mid-Sun's Height, leaving only small garrisons to hold the cities. He had learned that the Tsaesci were massing their forces on the other side of a mountain range to the north, and he intended to smash their army before it could gather full strength and capture their supplies (of which he was in desperate need). This rapid advance seems to have taken the Tsaesci by surprise, and the Expeditionary Force crossed the mountains and fell on their camp, routing the Tsaesci army and capturing its leader (a noble of some kind). But the Emperor was soon forced to retreat, and the legions suffered heavily on their retreat to Ionith. The Emperor now found himself besieged in Ionith, cut off from the small garrison at Septimia which was also besieged. By this time, it seems that the efforts of the few remaining battlemages were devoted entirely to creating water to keep the army alive, a skill not normally emphasized at the War College. The fleet had arrived safely back to Black Harbor, thanks to the Battlemage Corps, but all attempts to return to Akavir were frustrated by a series of ever more savage storms that battered Esroniet throughout the rest of 289.
The Council's last contact with the Emperor was in early Frostfall. By Evening Star, the Council was extremely worried about the situation in Akavir and ordered the fleet to sail regardless of the risk. Despite the continued storms, the fleet managed to press on to Akavir. Hope was raised when contact was made with the Emperor's battlemage, who reported that Ionith still held out. Plans were quickly laid for the Expeditionary Force to break out of Ionith and fall back on Septimia, where the fleet would meet them. This was the last direct contact with the Expeditionary Force. The fleet arrived in Septimia to find its garrison under savage assault from a large Tsaesci army. The battlemages with the fleet threw back the enemy long enough for the survivors to embark and the fleet to withdraw.
The few survivors of the Expeditionary Force who reached Septimia told how the Emperor had led the army out of Ionith by night two days earlier, succesfully [sic] breaking through the enemy lines but then being surrounded by overwhelming forces on the road to Septimia. They told of a heroic last stand by the Emperor and the Tenth Legion, which allowed a remnant of the Fourteenth to reach Septimia. Two survivors of the Tenth arrived in Septimia that night, having slipped through the enemy lines during their undisciplined victory celebration. These men confirmed having seen the Emperor die, cut down by enemy arrows as he rallied the Tenth's shield wall.

Part IV: Conclusion
The Commission believes that the invasion of Akavir was doomed from the start for several reasons, none of which could have been foreseen beforehand, unfortunately.
Despite extensive intelligence-gathering, the Expeditionary Force was clearly unprepared for the situation in Akavir. The unexpected weather which plagued the army and navy was particularly disastrous. Without the loss of a majority of the Far East Fleet during the campaign, the Expeditionary Force could have been withdrawn in 289. The weather also forced the Emperor to assign most of his Battlemage Corps to the fleet, leaving him without their valuable assistance during the fighting which soon followed. And of course the unexpected drought which struck Ionith during 289 dashed the hopes of supplying the army locally, and left the Expeditionary Force in an untenable situation when besieged in Ionith.
The Tsaesci were also much stronger than intelligence reports had suggested. Information on the size of the army the Tsaesci were eventually able to field against the Expeditionary Force is vague, as the only serious fighting took place after regular communications were cut off between the Emperor and the Council. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the Tsaesci outnumbered the Emperor's forces by several times, as they were able to force four crack legions into retreat and then keep them under siege for several months.
As was stated previously, the Commission declines to criticize the initial decision to invade Akavir. Based on what was known at the time, the plan seemed sound. It is only with the benefit of hindsight does it become obvious that the invasion had very little chance of success. Nevertheless, the Commission believes several valuable lessons can be taken from this disaster.
First, the Tsaesci may have extremely powerful arcane forces at their command. The possibility that they may have manipulated the weather across such a vast region seems incredible (and it should be noted that three Commissioners strongly objected to this paragraph even being included in this Report), but the Commission believes that this matter deserves urgent investigation. The potential danger is such that even the slight possibility must be taken seriously.
Second, the Tsaesci appear to possess no navy to speak of. The Expeditionary Force was never threatened by sea, and the Far East Fleet fought nothing but the weather. Indeed, initial plans called for a portion of the Fleet to remain in Akavir for use in coastal operations, but in the event there were very few places where the large vessels of the Fleet could approach the land, due to the innumerable reefs, sandbars, islands, etc. that infested the coastal waters north and south from Septimia. Due to the utter lack of trees in the plain around Septimia and Ionith, the Expeditionary Force was unable to build smaller vessels which could have navigated the shallow coastal waters. Any future military expeditions against Akavir would do well to consider some way of bringing a means for inshore naval operations in order to exploit this clear advantage over the Tsaesci, an advantage that was sadly unexploited by the Expeditionary Force.
Third, much longer-term study needs to be made of Akavir before another invasion could even be contemplated. The information gathered over the four years prior to the invasion was extensive, but clearly inadequate. The weather conditions were completely unexpected; the Tsaesci much stronger than expected; and the attempted negotiations by the Emperor with the Tsaesci a disaster. Akavir proved alien beyond expectation, and the Commission believes any future attempt to invade Akavir should not be contemplated without much greater knowledge of the conditions, politics, and peoples of that continent than presently obtains.
Finally, the Commission unanimously concludes that given what we now know, any attempt to invade Akavir is folly, at least in the present state of the Empire. The Empire's legions are needed at home. One day, a peaceful, united Empire will return to Akavir and exact severe retribution for the disaster at Ionith and for our fallen Emperor. But that day is not now, nor in the foreseeable future.

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