One of the most infamous battles of the war, Sahhur is remembered by both Treaty and Compact nations as a great tragedy. In the Treaty nations, it is often called the Massacre at Blood Lake (a name bequeathed upon it by the Throne, the national newspaper of Corheen), while the Compact nations generally refer to it as the Great Killing or the Ohhae Massacre.
The battle in question occured in late 1648, during the first Paitunt invasion of Ohhae. It took place in Sahhur, a forested valley in the foothills of the Heghobair Mountains, on the western border of Ohhae. The Ohhaen army was encamped at the mouth of the pass at the eastern end of the valley; the Paitunt army had come in through the western end of the valley and had begun to advance toward the pass and the Ohhaen encampment.
The Paitunt army was in the process of the “King Laitatar Offensive”, a straight push towards the Ohhaen southern marches (the idea behind the offensive was to take the Ohhaen city of Sahurrk, thus making it more difficult for Ohhae to attack both Ai Paitun and Dachath). The invasion had been initiated without total Treaty support, and with a warning of strong misgivings from the Corhee High Command; but the adjutant-general in charge of the Offensive, Stallion Aias Sabaida, with typical Paitunt bravado, famously claimed that “we shall break them with the force of Laitatar himself” (hence the offensive’s nickname; King Laitatar was a legendary Paitunt king who wielded a hammer against God’s enemies).
The beginning of the offensive had largely only been a march of Paitunt forces, sometimes harried somewhat by Ohhaen civilians. However, the reasons for the “Paitunt stroll” became clear- the Ohhaen defense plan withdrew the military from the western marches all the way back to the heavily-fortified regions between the Heghobair Mountains and the Thandos Sea, essentially forming a near-impregnable wall of military might, straight across the path of the Paitunt army’s assault. General Sabaida’s prediction was now frequently being hurled sardonically back in his face.
By late in 1648, the Paitunt army, after heavy resistance and fierce battles at Sixhung River, Jnahhekh, and Burnt-Church Pass, was tired, bleeding, and worn out from two months of combat and marching. To make matters worse, as the Paitunt neared the Sahhur valley on the 8th of Arsultag, doorway to their target city of Sahhurk, Ohhaen guerillas (not affliated with the Ohhaen army, though they were payed by Ohhaen officers) triggered landslides and set off bombs in the path of the weary Treaty soldiers, delaying them for long hours and causing minor casualties.
By early afternoon on the 9th of Arsultag, the Paitunt army had managed to clear the way into Sahhurk. Advancing up the valley, the Paitunt encountered only light resistance from Ohhaen troops, who were under orders to fight for a short while and then fall back down the valley to pre-set lines. The purpose of these feints was to further draw the Paitunt into the valley, to a deep, crater-like hollow known as Lake Pit.
The Paitunt were trapped through a freak of geography- the manner in which the Sahhurk valley narrowed enclosed the ravine of Lake Pit in high, rocky slopes which would have made it nearly impossible for the Treaty troops to advance except through Lake Pit.
Meanwhile, hidden Ohhaen companies had filtered into the valley and surrounded the Paitunt from the western end of the valley. Remaining camoflagued, they began to harry the Paitunt flanks, and formed a barrier against retreat.
Though it was an obvious trap, it appears that the Paitunt commanders ordered troops to storm through Lake Pit, a deep hollow dell with a marshy bottom, surrounded on all sides by close, forested slopes. At this point, the tragedy began. The first groups of Paitunt soldiers, slogging through the mud in the bottom of the ravine, were suddenly ripped apart by a storm of gunfire from the slopes and the eastern side of the ravine. One soldier survived, and, staggering to his feet, turned and shouted “March around, march around!” before being felled by another shot.
The Paitunt commanders seem to have been informed that some of the gunfire they were hearing was fire from their own soldiers. More troops were ordered into Lake Pit, while small contingents were ordered to move around the edges to look for ways around.
This process continued again and again, with waves and waves of Paitunt troops sent into the Lake Pit only to be shot down. At some point it became clear to the Paitunt captains that the Lake Pit push was not working. The Ohhaen began to put the pressure on from the west, making the need to make it across the valley even greater. But scout groups had not returned from attempting to find another way around it (most of these scout groups had been captured by Ohhaen soldiers and shot). Stallion Aias Sabaida imperiously demanded of his troops that the empasse be broken, and in a stroke of stupidity, led the next contingent down the ridge into Lake Pit.
At this point, approximately 5:30 in the evening, reports indicate that the appearance of Lake Pit had grown quite gruesome- in the center of the Pit, there was a low mound of bloody corpses, where Paitunt soldiers, attempting to get through the marshy bottom of the ravine, had climbed up the backs of their killed comrades and been shot down on top of them. Only as he neared the pile of dead did Sabaidas and his contingent realize the enormity of what they saw. Sabaidas ordered the soldiers back, and pulled the troops to the back of the ravine, but to no avail. Ohhaen troops snuck around behind them and gunned them down.
After an hour of waiting, the panicking Paitunt captains felt the sting of the attacks on their flank, decided that Sabaida’s lateness in returning messages and the lack of gunfire from the other end of the valley indicated that the adjutant-general had broken through. They ordered a general mobilization through Lake Pit to the other side, arguably one of the greatest military blunders to have yet taken place in the Great War.
As the Paitunt troops stormed into the valley, wave after wave were shot down by Ohhaen soldiers. A pair of motorguns were wheeled to the eastern edge of the ravine and began to chug away, sending thunderstorms of ammunition into the Paitunt ranks. The Ohhaen also assaulted on the west, driving the Paitunt eastward towards and into the jaws of the main Ohhaen force, and deeper into Lake Pit.
By approximately 7:30 or 8:00, Lake Pit was unrecognizable. The corpses of Paitunt soldiers choked the center of the ravine, forming a mound which was said to have been three feet high. Across the lower slopes of the ravine, panicking Treaty soldiers had been shot down in the grass. Some brave fighters had slogged across the marsh, reached the opposite slope on the eastern side, and been cut down by a hail of fire. Finally, the last straggling troops and heavy ammunitions moving into Lake Pit from the west had been blasted apart by Ohhaen grenadiers on the upper western slopes of the hollow, and the grass began to burn, lit by a the flames of a destroyed portable mortar cannon. In the aftermath, the Ohhaen soldiers, horrified at the carnage they had wrought, petitioned their captains for a special prayer, and many tied their sacred prayer-scarves together to form a flag in memorial to their fallen foes.
It is said that the marshy pools at the bottom of Lake Pit were tainted brown and black with the blood of the Paitunt soldiers’ bodies for several weeks afterward, even after the grass fires swept through the hollow. This gruesome detail led to the name Massacre at Blood Lake.
The Battle at Sahhur was the death knell for any kind of Paitunt invasion in the east for some time. Both Treaty and Compact were horrified by the casualties (the Paitunt armies involved in the King Laitatar Offensive suffered 75% casualties; the legion involved in the massacre at Sahhur suffered 90% casualties), and the reputation of the previously-invincible Paitunt military was damaged considerably. Morale on the Thangos Sea front dropped to new lows. However, the battle also led to a re-evaluation of Treaty military strategy and to greater cooperation between the various Treaty nations.
There would not be another invasion of western Ohhae until Operation Spranghan, the Corhee “suicide push” through the Heghobair Mountains.
Lake Pit (or Blood Lake, as it is sometimes now called) is still an eerily quiet and dead place. The grass is slow to grow back on the burned slopes, while it is ghoulishly thick down in the marshy bottom, where the mound of dead lay. It is currently the site of a small Ohhaen military outpost and communications base, and the forests of Sahhur are used to train Ohhaen troops for operations in the heavily-wooded portions of the Dachae front.