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  1. Aurelia, Blueton, April 621 The defenders of Aurelia were ready to fight to their last final breath, the muskets clenched in their fists. Apart from some strong artillery positions, only a few improvised barricades divided them from the redcoats and the horde of screaming natives. The first houses of Aurelia were immediately behind them: if they failed, the enemies would have burnt the settlement to the ground and slaughtered whoever attempted to resist, or maybe slaughtered everyone, with no distinction. With the muskets loaded with buckshot, the soldiers were waiting to see the white of enemies' eyes. They probably had no real chance, outnumbered by more than two to one, but they were ready to sell their skin dearly. When the enemy soldiers and the Ténotclaxcans war band disappeared back into the jungle, nobody could really believe their eyes: diplomacy had ended the war just a day before the disaster! The very next day, as civilians were still drinking and celebrating, the heads of Aurelia garrison gathered to understand what had gone wrong. The main problems were quite obvious: the "neighbors" of Aurelia were stronger than expected, especially if they joined their forces; and the fortifications were absolutely inadequate for the size of the settlement, especially if the attackers came from the interior of the island. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- November 621 After months of hard work, the Bouclier ("the Shield", as the Aurelians called their new fortifications) was finally completed. With several forts and smaller batteries ready to support one another, a strong garrison and an impressive number of heavy artillery pieces, the new system of fortifications has turned Aurelia into an incredibly hard nut to crack, may the enemy come from the sea or from the land! Coastal batteries Aurelia had already some old batteries defending the entrance of the port, that to date had been sufficient to repel pirates and small raiding parties. As a part of the Shield, the existing batteries were reinforced, and new ones were built. Positioned on strategic points of Aurelia cliffs, the coastal batteries would now represent a real menace also for large attacking forces. A simple but effective flag system allows fast communication among distant batteries, so that fire can be concentrated against chosen targets. The batteries represent small and difficult targets, scattered along the coastline and low above the water. At the same time, with their heavy 32-pounder cannons, they could start a deadly crossfire against an enemy fleet, hitting the ships hard right at the waterline and sending them to the Halls of Poseidon. Even if the batteries are not strongly fortified, the sturdy brick wall offers good protection to the artillerymen. Each battery is manned by a detachment of the Artillerie de Marine Coloniale (Naval Artillery of the Colonies), formed with recruits coming from the Nouveau Monde colonies and trained in the Royal Artillery Academy of Breshaun. Forward blockhouses During the attack of April 621, enemy forces arrived unspotted almost to the outskirts of Aurelia, likely with the help of native guides and warriors. To prevent something similar from happening again, a series of small brick blockhouses was built on the edge of the jungle, near to the faded border with Ténotclaxcan lands. Each blockhouse is a small bastion fort, protected by a dry ditch and equipped with a few cannons. The low, angled walls offer a bad target to enemy artillery, while the ditch and other obstacles make them still difficult to climb for an attacker. The small garrison of each blockhouse is strong enough to repel without problem enemy patrols and to deter warbands of hot-headed warriors from raiding the lands of Oleon. In case of stronger attacks, this first line of defence would likely be overthrown, but this would inevitably cost heavy casualties and precious time to the enemies, allowing Aurelia garrison to organize a counterstrike. Although small, the blockhouses include some solutions typical of modern-style fortifications: for instance the low, thick walls are made of bricks, that shatter less than stone when hit by cannonballs; moreover, the height and the angle of each element is calculated to create no blind spots for defenders' musket fire. Moreover, a low gallery runs behind the scarp wall (that is, the inner wall of the ditch). Shooting through small loopholes, the defenders can shoot the enemies climbing down the ditch with almost no risk of being hit... another unpleasant surprise for the attackers! Light mortar batteries Small batteries of light mortars are scattered on low heights behind the first line of defenses, their short bores ready to send death upon the enemies of Oleon. With their arched trajectories, mortar projectiles can fly over the forward blockhouses and fall over the attacking forces, sending them into chaos. Differently from cannons, mortars can fire small fragmentation shells, that explode a few meters before impact. For an attacking force, slowed down by ditches and barricades, this would mean a hellish rain of fire and iron splinters falling on amassed soldiers, a horribly effective way to stop them. Here, the head of Aurelia garrison is inspecting one of the forward batteries, proudly manned by a crew of Aurelia Artillery Militiamen. Main fort The chain of defenses built around Aurelia is likely sufficient to repel most of the menaces to the city. An enemy sufficiently strong and motivated to overcome them, however, would still have to face the Jewel of the Shield, the main fort protecting Aurelia. The fort is built according to the "Modern Style of fortification": this means that the position and the size of each element are carefully calculated with precise geometries to block and deflect artillery fire, and at the same to make the advance of enemy infantry as hard as possible. In "Modern Style", the fort begins hundreds of meters far from the wall, with the glacis, an artificial slope shielding the fort from enemy artillery: while the defenders have a clear sight (and fireline), the attackers can only see (and aim at) the very top of the wall, unless they conquer the external earthworks before. The covered way runs right behind the glacis. This long trench represents the first line of defense, and can also be used to move soldiers to any point of the outer perimeter for a counter-attack. The fort is surrounded by a dry ditch, wider and deeper than the one of the blockhouses. Also here, the scarp wall and the caponiers (tiny blockhouses traversing the ditch) are equipped with musket ports, that would turn the ditch into a deadly trap for the attackers. Mortar batteries are scattered behind the outworks. In this position, they can provide close fire support to the defenders, but they can also be abandoned quickly if the enemy tries to storm them. The fort itself is nothing more than a low, sturdy, embankment lined by a brick wall. Completely different from the elegant castles of the past centuries, it is basically a platform for cannons and soldiers. With its new Shield, Aurelia has definitely more chances to grow in peace and prosperity on the Northern tip of Blueton, one of the more disputed islands of the archipelago... people sleep better (and merchants invest more) when the enemy is beyond a thick wall, with a lot of big, big cannons pointing at him! OOC: During the last "diplomatic crisis" I started building a series of fortifications for Aurelia (formerly Dragonstone). I delayed the publication of the original fort due to the new war rules but, in the meantime, I built a series of additional defenses, making the project larger than I originally planned... and a lot slower to complete! I hope you like the result! I will license it as a Large Fort, with a footprint of some hundred studs above the 4096 required.