Monday, 23 May 2016

The War of Sinjenk's Nose

Syldavia and Borduria are divided along part of their border by Lake Polishov (Poliszchov in the Bordurian dialect), which is a large body of water, fed by the River Snezna on the Syldavian side and two rivers, the Mekava Potak and the Prog on the Bordurian side. The lake is of a considerable size, some 55 kilometres in length and 18 kilometres wide at its widest point. On the eastern side it is surrounded by the foothills of the Dinari Alps, with mountains coming right down to the shores of the lake in the south where the steep gorges of the Mekava Potak valley form much of the border between the two countries. In the north, the River Mensodjrinje and then the River Djrinje also form part of the border until the Djrinje turns north and splits the plains of northern Borduria into two.

There are two large inhabited islands in the lake. The largest is Suxhuk, which belongs to Syldavia and the slightly smaller island of Zodastrum, the home of a large Orthodox monastery some six kilometres to the east belongs to Borduria. There are also several smaller islands which have no permanent settlements.

On the Syldavian side where the Snezna flows into the lake is the walled medieval city of Kragoniedin, home to a large community of fishermen who claim descent from ancient tribes who fished the waters of the lake before the Romans arrived. Kragoniedin Castle, built on a small island joined to the shore by a causeway dominates the mouth of the river and is home to a flotilla of Syldavian galleys and small sailing ships called xebecs. These ships form part of the Royal Syldavian Navy and their crews are mainly recruited in the cities of Nokosz, Dbrnouk and Turshi along Syldavia's sea coast. Apart from protecting the Syldavian border from Bordurian aggression, the flotilla is also charged with protecting traders from lake pirates and river bandits.

Kragoniedin is the hub of trading routes which stretch along the lake from Vykaselo in the south to Pelmitz in the north. In times of peace, trade extends across the lake to the Bordurian fortress town of Grahovo and even up the River Prog to the city of Peshod. Traders also travel north along the River Mensodjrinje, which flows northwards from Lake Poliszchov to join the Djrinje, to the town of Turksi Bazar on the Syldavian side and to Raicod on the Bordurian bank.

Rotebert Sinjenk was a resident of Kragoniedin and a well-known member of the merchant community. He was often accused of flouting the regulations and indulging in smuggling but nothing was ever proven. He had several trading partners over on the Bordurian side of the lake and even traded with the small community of German merchants who lived in the capital city, Szohôd.

Sinjenk was trading across the lake during a period of rising tension between the two countries. Borduria had reinforced the garrison of Grahovo with a regiment of infantry and several cannon and Bordurian ships were patrolling the eastern half of the lake, stopping Syldavian vessels at every opportunity. Sinjenk's xebec, the Svete Marije was stopped by a Bordurian customs galley and boarded. The captain of the Bordurian ship, Ion Vatatzes accused Sinjenk of smuggling and demanded that his men should search the Svete Marije. Sinjenk refused and a scuffle broke out. Swords were drawn and in the fighting Captain Vatatzes cut the tip off of Sinjenk's nose, reportedly saying "Go, and tell your King that I will do the same, if he dares to sail his ship in this Bordurian lake."

Sinjenk returned, noseless, to Kragoniedin where the military governor, Colonel Egon Vinohrady ordered three sloops onto the lake to find the Bordurian customs galley and sink it. He despatched a courier to Klow to inform his superiors of the outrage, also sending Rotebert Sinjenk to the capital in a carriage to present his story to the King. When Graf Heinrich von Edelzwicker, the Royal Chamberlain and co-leader of the Syldavian war party heard the story he was so incensed that he interrupted the King at dinner and retold the story in very unflattering language.

Within the week, the Syldavians had despatched a regiment of dragoons, three regiments of infantry and one of light troops to Lake Polishov, with further troops to follow in due course.

The successful sinking of the Bordurian galley by the Syldavian lake flotilla led to a mobilisation of troops when the news reached Peshod, the provincial capital and by the end of the month the two countries were, once again at war.

What would, in time become celebrated as The War of Sinjenk's Nose would last for several years, with four major battles, three sieges and many smaller engagements along the border between the two countries, including a naval battle between the Bordurian and Syldavian lake fleets, which both sides claimed as a victory and a Bordurian expedition to capture the island of Suxhuk and occupy its main town, Yogut.

The war would eventually end when the Austrian Empress, Maria Theresa and Russian Empress Elizabeth I jointly intervened to broker a peace treaty. Rotebert Sinjenk, the casus belli became a celebrated member of Klow society, distinguished by the golden nose which he wore to conceal his facial disfigurement. Colonel Vinohrady, whose actions against the Bordurian customs galley effectively started the war, distinguished himself in his vigorous defence of Kragoniedin, which was besieged by Bordurian forces for several weeks, and later led the forces who liberated Suxhuk from its occupiers.

It was during the war that the famous Wilhelm Tischdecke, later Marshal of Syldavia first saw action in the Pivoklet regiment of Pandurs.

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