Tuesday, 18 October 2011

VIII. Nothing can stop the Byzantines - Saladin himself gets thrown back to Ayyubid lands

Back to Crete and this time things are different. The Egyptian army is down two generals and Saladin himself joins the fight. The Sultan took the failures of his generals personally and now he will lead his men. If he fails it is all over for the egyptians and the ayyubid sultanate is endangered. Palaiologos has gathered a full byzantine force and has sailed to Crete with high morale. He wants to make his emperor proud once again and intends to throw the infidels out of Greece once and for all.

The two armies are fully reinforced but this time the battle is not like the others in Crete. Let's find out...

Saladin is on the defensive and splits his troops evenly. Some ghulam cavalry to the right, some khwarizmian cavalry and berber light horse on the left and a mixed center with infantry, bowmen and the remaining horsemen directly in the middle.

The greeks have just left the ships at the beach and deploy similarly. Cavalry left and right of the two hills and mixed infantry and cavalry in the center, aiming at dominating the gorge. The armies are mirroring each other so it seems this should be close...

The greeks take the hills with albanian and seljuk psiloi, serbian auxilia and the varangians following behind. The arab horsemen spread on the two flanks and block the passes. The main egyptian force remains behind. 

Like a maestro Palaiologos orchestrates his attack. His cavalry protect his flanks and his foot troops have the hills, while two kavallarioi cross the gorge. Saladin's jarwajaraya psiloi and ghulam warband maneuver slowly towards the hill. 

Dead on the slopes! The arab psiloi are destroyed by the byzantine light troops and the timid attempts by Saladin to challenge the gorge are smashed.

The greek push continues and not a moment of rest for the egyptians. The albanian psiloi try to throw back the ghulams on the right hill while the lines are preparing to clash in the center.

The tables turn (metaphorically but also literally; this is the battlefield from the egyptian perspective)! Kavallarioi are brought down by iraqi psiloi at the bottom of the gorge and Saladin's hopes are revived. Meanwhile, the varangians go down the hill and the anatolian bow of the arabs skirmishes with the serbian auxilia on the slope.

The varangian elite guards join battle with the ghulam warband. These two units are made for fighting each other and the stakes are high! On the left hill the serbs are surrounded by the arab bowmen and psiloi.

Back and forth, the men shed their blood under the hot Cretan sun. Noone yields and the fight continues. The army which will control the center will win the battle. The serbian auxilia survive and fall back.

After a long time, the horsemen go into melee. Byzantine cumans and pachenegs, with a support of seljuk psiloi (not visible on their right), charge the two ghulam units while ...

... in the center the last push is ordered! Anatolian bows go against serbian auxilia, jarwajaraya vs kavallarioi, ghulam foot charge the varangians and khwarizmian horse clash with albanian psiloi.

"Komnenos!" shout the greeks and they know they won. Ghulam, khwarizmian horses and anatolian bow are slain, and dead and dying bodies cover the dirt with blood. Was it the hand of (the christian) God floating above or the will of men? For now Saladin knows he must flee and regroup if he can. Palaiologos is already preparing his invasion of the middle east.

The arabs flee to their camp and disperse in the hills of Crete. Saladin keeps them together and prepares for the trip home. He knows that now he must prepare to defend it.

The greeks begin the task of burying their dead but with grim smiles they know it was worth it. The arabs bled bad this time and they should get ready for more.

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