Victory and Defeat
Later on I hear about Archi’s work in Alexandria, he builds a novel stone thrower. It’s a 10 minae self-recocking device with a hopper of 10 stones, it takes 4 months to get the design even close to working even then it really only works well when he is there to help with its operation. It is fitted to Admiral Patroclus flagship a big 10 banked galley; Archi makes sure that the crew practice with it when we can over the winter. Archi also develops a light screen which can be raised and lowered on each side of a galley; he makes it out of a light wood frame with very thin leather attached to provide some cover to the ships marines. Unfortunately once he has made a few and tried them out at sea they turn out to not be able to cope with rough seas hitting them on the side of the ship, breaking them up and making rising them up impossible also when they do make it up they act like a side sail pushing the ship off course.
Meanwhile back in Athens Jason takes Xenophon with him to check out the water tunnel into the Piraeus. They make sure that the air is safe and protect their knees and elbows with rags. Using a knotted string to message the distance they head of into the dark. The journey is hard with rats in the water but the walls seem not to have caused a blockage and after some hours to can see light ahead. It’s the well, Xenophon moves very stealthily to where the light is shining on the water then we head back to the entrance. They run back to Athens to cover why we are wet and reach Telamon’s home to hear me and my wife arguing. I join them in a walk to talk about our plans. We decide that we need another recce to see where the well comes out however we still have to decide wither we are just going to destroy food and ships with fire or try to take the place. Jason and Xenophon head out for another recce, this time stripping off and keeping their tunics in a bag. Once they get to the end again they climb up the well and they pop up in the middle of old warehouses. Climbing a warehouse they can see that this is an old area of the port and they can see that there are two walls an outer and an inner. The inner gates appear to be open. We head back to Athens itself.
Over the next months we come up with a plan we think will work to take the Piraeus from Macedon. First Jason does his chat with the gods’ thing to get a divination, “If the twig of Macedon from the Nile ventures into the port of Athens. He will meet the sons of chaos stricken down by the curse and joy of Bacchus.” We need to wait and see how that will come about, while we wait we prepare for the attack. Chremonides will let us use the city Hippies most of all are friends of Jason anyway, who will be able to reach open gates quickest. Jason will take the Cretans through the tunnel to take control of the gates and hold them for the Hippies followed by mercenary units. It will take about ½ hour for the horse to reach the first gate from a position out of sight and sound of the garrison and an hour for the first foot troops to make it.
Seven days after the divination a Macedonian general is seen entering the port and then leaving with the mercenaries, leaving just the Macedonian ships, crew, marines and Galatians left defending it. Well it might not be Telamon the divination was about then; maybe it’s this unknown Macedonian. About four days later there is a lot of noise coming from the port; it seems that the Galatians are having a big celebration, with fires for roasted meat and sacrifices. By late afternoon we decide that this is our opportunity to catch the port defenders unaware. We quickly assemble our forces I will command the Hippeis while Jason aided by Xenophon lead the Cretans. The Cretans wrap there bowstrings to keep them dry and tie cloth around their limbs to protect them and head down the tunnel. They have some lanterns to signal when they have taken the gates and for the Hippeis to come.
The trip through the tunnel is not quite as keeping over 100 men quite while moving in the dark with weapons in a confined space isn’t easy. Hopefully no one at the target end will be near enough or aware enough to hear them. Jason and Xenophon lead them out into the warehouse area and split into two groups, Jason is going to take the outer gate after Xenophon has taken the inner one. Xenophon scouts forward to the open inner gate and hears drunken snoring from the two gate towers, it sounds like 2 or 3 men in each. He gets 5 of his men and they slip into the towers and kill all the guards before they even know what has happened to them. He then deploys his men onto the walls to cover the gate and shoot down any reinforcements. Jason then moves through the gate with his men and does the same at the closed outer gate takes it from the sleeping guards and opens the gate and deploys his men on the wall putting out the lights.
A while later Xenophon is disturbed by a shout from below, “What are you doing up there? We have come to change the guard”. Xenophon replies “we will be right down just enjoying the air.” Xenophon brings the five men near him down the tower and opens the door. On the other side he sees 11 men, one an officer. Xenophon orders his men to loose and the ones with him and on the wall let go with the arrows. Four enemies drop dead and the others turn and run, however a second salvo takes down the office and all but two men who run into the darkness. Xenophon sends a message to Jason to say it’s warming up.
A while later me and the Hippeis arrive at the outer gate and trots to the inner gate. Getting there he sees a force of marines approaching. He lunches his men in a charge scattering the marines and hacking them down through the town. When the mercenaries arrive from Athens a little later they join the cavalry in starting to loot and kill, seamen, marines and Galatians. I send many men to Thanatos and then rally the men and stop the killing before innocents die, or more of them. By morning we have full control of the port and all the remaining garrison have surrendered to us. The prisoners are released after having any cash, weapons etc. taken from them. Chremonides arrives to see the victory and claim it and offers to hire the oarsmen, most decide to stay.
With the port open Chremonides brings food in from the Peloponnese and messages to Sparta. We make sure that the tunnel is broken down in places and both ends securely sealed. No one else will use this way into the port. We can now rest knowing that we have helped the war and Chremonides, so we spend the time with our wives. Jason’s wife Leda gets pregnant the child due in summer.
Alexandria Spring AG48, war with Seleucia.
Our fleet is to sail to take troops to Judaea then to raid along the Seleucid coast and reinforcing Ptolemaic held islands, in the east. Archi goes with it to help the use of the catapult. Then it will head west to pick up the force near Athens before heading back to Alexandria in late summer. Unfortunately near the island of Cos the fleet is incepted by a joint Macedon and Seleucid fleet which break’s our fleet killing the admiral but the flagship survives along with Archi, who is pleased how his weapon performed, even if the side screens hindered the fleet more than protecting its marines. The senior captain, on the flagship, reforms the remnants and heads for Athens were it joins up with the force there ready to head back to Alexandria. We decide that we will be going with it so Jason and I plus our wives slaves and the seven remaining Hippeis and their slaves embark leaving the Cretans who are now working for Chremonides.
Back in Alexandria we report to the Prince, and get a thank you from Ptolemy. He gives us a home and income from land befitting our new rank, which he confirms. While Archi starts to teach those who wish to follow his path of philosophy, Jadon and I settle down to and get used to our new status. Jason is told to train a new group of Cretan archers and I get to train a squadron of Akon Hippeis as Tarentine instead. My wife Dione gives birth some months after Jason’s wife Leda does.