Sarai stood at the front of her class, gesturing to the board behind her. As a citizen of the Aragonese Empire, she was fortunate to live in a country with an education system that wasn’t manipulated by the government. Her class was all about the practical applications of history at a mildly prestigious university in Valencia. The viewpoint she decided to tackle the subject from was simple: small events trigger larger ones, which trigger even larger ones, until the entire world has been changed because a farmer in Hungary fed his animals less than he should have.
“So, my dearest children, let me ask you a simple question: Who here has heard of the Great Iberian Campaign?” Every single person raised their hand. Of course they did. Simple stuff, third grade history. “Now tell me, oh beloved ones,” she said with a smirk, circling around the desk. She had only been teaching for a few years, but already she felt completely confident in her delivery. “What do you think caused the Aragonese victory?”
One of the socialites in the front row, who also doubled as the token smart person who overestimates themselves, raised her hand. With a grand gesture, Sarai motioned for the girl to answer. “Superior wealth and military forces, Castile really had no chance.” Some of the other students nodded their heads. Shaking her head, Sarai chuckled slightly.
“This is history class, children, not propaganda class.” In elementary school, where these kids most likely first and last heard of the campaign, of course the teachers were going to talk about the proud and mighty Catalans. Couldn’t have a generation growing up without believing in the might of Aragon, otherwise they might not be fully confident to vote for pro-war candidates, god forbid! Of course, no one was going to go to war with Novgorod or Bavaria, no matter how big they talked during elections, and skirmishes with England rarely led to anything, so she supposed it didn’t hurt.
Putting her marker down, Sarai pulled down a map and grabbed a pointer from the wall. “Alright then, story time. Let’s see talk about what happens if we change the course of history just slightly.” The children all groaned. Telling them a story made them feel demeaned. Ah well, they’d get used to it. Sarai swung her pointer onto the map, tapping a part of the Iberian Peninsula known as Barcelona.
* * *
Bartomeu Abela walked into the throne room in full armor, and knelt before his ruler, the King of Aragon, Marti d’Arago.
“You called for me, my Lord?” The King stared directly at him, his piercing brown eyes seeming to dissect the man kneeling in front of him, one of those he had entrusted with his campaign against Castile. “Bartomeu, there has been a… change of plans.”
"What do you mean?" he asked. That phrase could be many things. "We have discussed many things about the war with Castile, but one of my advisers has told me something very... interesting. I cannot ignore her without giving her time to give me evidence. As such, instead of moving out immediately after the first advance, your slightly unorthodox tactics will be reserved for later. Possibly after we have made some headway into Castile."
"But, my Lord, without a secondary force to cut off reinforcem--" Bartomeu tried to argue, but was cut off. "No, my decision is final. You will remain in Barcelona until I allow you to move out. However, with most of the generals leaving, you won't be doing nothing. I shall have you advise me on matters of this war."
The man hung his head in defeat. Those generals of yours are all old idiots who can't see anything besides head on engagements... he thought viciously. Taking a deep breath, he stood and bowed. "I will follow your every command, my Lord."