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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

knppel

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Glad to hear, so I do yours :)
And I don't mind the intrigue that little bit. Basically, the opposite happened to me, I was intriguing nicely and got sidetracked by this... intervention, so to say x)
 
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HistoryDude

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Glad to hear, so I do yours :)
And I don't mind the intrigue that little bit. Basically, the opposite happened to me, I was intriguing nicely and got sidetracked by this... intervention, so to say x)
Thanks!

I am enjoying the intrigue bits when I write them, so there will be more in the future.

That being said, the intrigue and military plots aren’t as mutually exclusive as one might think.
Albinus is getting talkative.

Oh yes, Albinus is definitely getting talkative...

There’s a reason for that.
 
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knppel

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That being said, the intrigue and military plots aren’t as mutually exclusive as one might think
Yeah I didn't wanna do the Cassandra here right away but I already worried about this from the most recent entries ^^
 
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HistoryDude

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Yeah I didn't wanna do the Cassandra here right away but I already worried about this from the most recent entries ^^

Yes, I've done some foreshadowing.
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, Planning for the Battle of Erchmiadzin

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Galerius’s awakening occurred at around noon. Galerius worried about when the meeting was supposed to start. Yes, all three commanders had gone to sleep late at night due to their extremely long meeting the day before, but he knew that the others probably wanted to get started as soon as possible. Of course, his colleagues had different reasons for that, but still. Clementius was probably just getting tired of the war in general, and Galerius couldn’t honestly blame him for that. Albinus likely wanted to focus on the coming last stand of the Sassanids.

Regardless, that meant that going to the meeting tent immediately was probably a good idea. Therefore, that was what Galerius did.

His suspicions were quickly proven correct. Both Clementius and Albinus were already at the meeting tent, although it, thankfully, didn’t look like they’d been there for very long.

“So,” Galerius began. “What’s our strategy for Erchmiadzin?”

Clementius rolled his eyes. “While I don’t know,” he said. “I have no clue what Erchmiadzin is like. Wasn’t it your job to find that out?”

“Oh,” Galerius blinked. “Right. I did confer with my scribes about what the city was like, and I got the answers that we’re going to need. That being said, I never explicitly stated that I was going to do that, so why are you assuming that it’s my job?”

“It was implied,” Albinus said. Despite this statement, Galerius thought that he could hear Albinus sighing in relief and Clementius taking a reassuring breath. Galerius frowned. What was that about? He quickly dismissed that thought. It wasn’t important, as they needed to focus on the upcoming battle anyway.

“Right,” Galerius said. “Erchmiadzin is located on - or near - a hill next to a river. My scouts weren’t exactly sure on whether or not it was on a hill.”

“How could they be unsure?” Clementius wondered. “They literally saw it with their own eyes.”

“Well, maybe they weren’t sure what the terrain was because they were in the city,” Galerius snapped back. “Regardless, this should still be enough information for making a plan.”

“Corner them at the river,” Albinus suggested. Then, he seemed to think about it for a second before continuing with, “Probably won’t work but might be useful as an absolute last resort.”

“Yeah, well, we need a plan that’s a bit more detailed than ‘corner them at the river’,” Galerius mused. “Specifically, we need to know how we’d ensure that they got into a position where they could be cornered.”

“True,” Albinus mused. “Perhaps we could attack them from both sides, which means that they can’t escape because they’ll be trapped between the city walls, the river, and us?”

“That’s a good plan,” Galerius mused. “We can use that as our working plan - and change it as required.”

“How do we know what’s required, though?” Clementius asked. “And how will we communicate our changes? The plan has the Sassanids in between the two halves of our army.”

Galerius considered this. Clementius did have a point, of course. Also, Clementius’s concerns made him wonder which legions would go on which side.

“First of all, we should have both of your legions and mine be separate from each other,” Galerius replied, “That will ensure that any changes are broadly true throughout each part of the army. We will each simply communicate our changes to our own legions - and hope that the legions don’t end up fighting each other.”

“That’s probably the best we can do,” Clementius agreed. “It’s not the best plan, but it will have to do.”

“Indeed,” Albinus said. “We are in agreement with the general plan - and specifics will be worked out on the field of battle.”
 
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Midnite Duke

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Sleeping to noon? I would imagine, in an era without electric lights, that the commanders would start their day within a hour or two of dawn. The leaders seem to be tired of the campaign. The enemy morale should be mostly gone with the number of defeats.
 

HistoryDude

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Sleeping to noon? I would imagine, in an era without electric lights, that the commanders would start their day within a hour or two of dawn. The leaders seem to be tired of the campaign. The enemy morale should be mostly gone with the number of defeats.

Yep. Sleeping until noon isn’t a normal thing - which is why I mentioned it. The war’s End is nearing - for better or worse.
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, the Battle of Erchmiadzin

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They arrived at Erchmiadzin as night fell, so they decided that it would be prudent to rest before starting the battle. The storm that raged outside of their camp probably contributed to this somewhat, as well.

For the first time in many nights, Galerius dreamed. Unfortunately, his dreams weren’t clear. He saw a great army. Then, he saw an army of corpses. They looked as if they had been somewhat burned. Indeed, they looked as if someone had begun to burn them for cremation but had suddenly stopped.

Then, Galerius’s dream suddenly changed. He saw a hydra. Interestingly, this hydra only had one head. However, it was an extremely large head - it looked as if multiple hydra heads had been merged. The hydra roared, attacking a giant eagle. The two animals fought for many days, and, just as their battle was about to be decided, Galerius awoke.

Galerius mentally cursed. He wanted to see the end of the fight in his dream. He had his reasons for this wish - his dreams seemed remarkably prophetic. Of course, he didn’t really believe prophecies - he was a good Christian - but his most recent dreams did seem to be warnings of some kind. The question was: what were they warning him about? Or were they just normal dreams?

Of course, Galerius knew, deep down, that his dreams could be meaningless - or, perhaps, they could only be interpreted with the benefit of hindsight. Dwelling on them would be a waste of time. Still, Galerius couldn’t shake the feeling that what he had just dreamed was very important.

Galerius went through the plan, and so did Clementius and Albinus. At first, everything went exactly according to plan. Unfortunately, the plan hadn’t accounted for the capriciousness of nature. They were, after all, fighting a battle right next to a river.

As the day went on, it started drizzling. This affected neither the Eastern Romans nor the Sassanids much. As such, nobody thought anything of it. That would prove to be a grave mistake. Gradually, more rain began to fall down.

Unfortunately, both sides were too interested in fighting to notice - at least at first. Even as both sides did notice, they thought nothing of it. The Sassanids were too occupied fighting for their lives, and the Eastern Romans had seen a chance to ensure that this Sassanid army would no longer be a threat - ever again.

The battle probably would’ve continued throughout the night. Both sides were perfectly willing to fight through a rainstorm. However, circumstances would ultimately interfere with their plans. The rain was also falling into the river. This caused the river to overflow.

The river overflowed. Water began to cover the battlefield. Galerius cursed at this. Fighting a battle in the middle of a lake was suicide - for both sides. Thankfully, both Clementius and Albinus agreed with him. As such, all three legions retreated from Erchmiadzin and then reunited in the countryside.

They waited a short while.The storm would likely last for quite a while, and nobody wanted to fight a battle in the rain, much less in the middle of a large body of water. Thankfully, the storm meant that the Sassanids couldn’t besiege Erchmiadzin.

After a brief wait, the three legions returned to the city. The good news was that the storm had ended. The bad news was that the Sassanids had managed to escape from Erchmiadzin. That meant that there was nothing stopping from meeting with the main Sassanid army.
 
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HistoryDude

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It would just have been too easy.

Far too easy...

Also, I’m trying to get the finale to this arc in one update, so that’s why I might not update today.
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, the War Against the Sassanids Reaches its Climax, Part 1

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I know that I said that I was writing until the finale, but the climax proved longer than expected... Sorry! Also, I had an idea to write multiple other AARs set in this universe, but I've been putting it off. Would anybody be interested in having an "A Narrative History of Byzantium Expanded Universe", so to speak?



Galerius sighed. Erchmiadzin had been a missed opportunity. They could’ve prevented Sassanid reinforcements from arriving at wherever the Persians were planning on making a last stand. That would’ve been preferable, but no one could account for the whims of nature. She did what she wanted.

Erchmiadzin hadn’t been the greatest of battles, but disaster had been averted at least. Continuing to fight would’ve been a terrible decision - many men could have needlessly lost their lives.

That had been averted, thankfully. That was the upside of the Battle of Erchmiadzin. The downside was that the Sassanids would be getting reinforcements.

Galerius rolled his eyes. The army at Erchmiadzin had been small. It was unlikely that they would make a difference at the last stand of the Sassanids, but it wasn’t impossible. That was what worried him.

Speaking of the Sassanids’s last stand, Galerius had a meeting to go to about that very topic. Planning could make or break a battle sometimes.

Galerius was first into the meeting tent this time. He frowned. That never happened - or at least he didn’t remember the last time that it had happened. He decided that he would check if he had gotten here early. Nope, the sun was in the sky. If that was the case, what was taking Albinus and Clementius so long?

He settled down to wait. Albinus and Clementius both entered the tent some time later. They seemed to be talking about something, but Galerius didn’t hear any details. He was too busy making plans for the last stand of Persian Mesopotamia - well, most of Persian Mesopotamia. For that matter, it may very well turn out that this was the last stand of the Sassanid Dynasty. Galerius had no clue what the situation on the Sassanids’s eastern border or the situation within Persia was.

“So,” Clementius began. “We were going to talk about what we were doing about the Sassanids’s last stand. Well, their last stand in this war, at least?”

“Indeed,” Albinus replied. “First of all, does anyone have any idea of where the Sassanids are going to make their stand? If we don’t, we’re effectively going into this blind - and that’s not a good position to be in. If we don’t know about where we’re going to be fighting, we need to figure that out quickly - very quickly.”

“True enough,” Galerius started. “Thankfully, I do have a small bit of information about where the Sassanids want to make their stand. Before I share that, though, why should we let them choose to make a stand where they want to? What’s stopping us from forcing a battle - a battle that we are more likely to win?”

Clementius and Albinus both considered this. Galerius smiled - if his plan went through, the war should be over by winter, 501. If everything went according to plan. Of course, things rarely went according to plan during wars, but a man could hope - even if in vain.

“We don’t,” Clementius finally responded. “We could theoretically force a battle, but, for that to work, we’d still have to know where they are at any given time, so that we can intercept them.”

“Right,” Albinus replied. “Also, we might not even want to. If the Sassanids think that they have an advantage, all we would need to do to almost certainly win is negate that advantage. Of course, if we did that, we would need to ensure that the Sassanids don’t know about our efforts. As such, it would need to be top secret…”

“Naturally,” Galerius agreed. “I still think that we should make them fight on our terms, though. Also, I know the general vicinity of where the united Sassanid army is right now - and also the general vicinity of where they’re going to make their stand.”

“You do?” Clementius asked. “Care to tell the rest of us, then? The information is useless to us if only one person knows it.”

“Sure,” Galerius responded. “The Sassanids are currently in the borderlands - well, what used to be the borderlands. They remain in our territory, and my scouts reported that they didn’t seem very inclined to leave it.”

“So their last stand will be on land that the Eastern Roman Empire legally owns?” Albinus asked. “That is… unexpected, to say the least. Do you have any idea why?”

Galerius frowned. Actually, he didn’t know why. Why would the Sassanids make their last stand on non-Sassanid land? Sure, the land that they were making a stand on changed hands between the Eastern Romans and the Sassanids frequently, but why would they make a stand there? Were they trying to make a statement? Had Galerius’s scouts misinterpreted their intentions?

“No,” Galerius finally admitted. “I don’t. They could be trying to make a statement of some kind. Also, my scouts might’ve misinterpreted the information…”

“It’s doubtful that the information was misinterpreted,” Albinus said. “If your scots told you that at all, they probably had significant evidence to back it up - they just didn’t tell you that evidence. That being said, ‘the borderlands’ is not a specific enough region for us to intercept an army. We should try to gather more specific information.”

Albinus looked outside. “Also, it’s getting late,” he said. “Let’s give orders to scout out the borderlands. We can reconvene and discuss in a week.”

“That’s agreeable,” Galerius mused. “Although I want to get this war over with as soon as possible…” Clementius nodded in agreement.

“I know,” Albinus commented. “So do I. Unfortunately, we can’t control that. This will likely lead to the quickest end to the war.” On that note, the meeting ended.

Galerius sent his scouts to look for the Sassanid army. If he knew where the Sassanids were at that moment, then he could bring the information needed to intercept them to the next meeting. He was still very uncomfortable with the idea of facing a Sassanid last stand where the Sassanid army chose their ground. One should never let their enemies choose the territory.

Thankfully, his scouts managed to find out where the Sassanid army was. That was good. It meant that he had something to contribute to the meeting at least. It had taken his scouts less than a week to get this information, surprisingly. That meant that he still had some time before the next meeting started.

He used that time to rest. After all, who knew when he would next be able to rest? He didn’t even know if his next rest wouldn’t be permanent. That was a fact of war, of course, but Galerius was more worried than usual. After all, the Sassanids would fight with all of their might…

Galerius was last to the meeting, but he was hardly late.

“Did anyone get any information about where our Persian enemies are?” Clementius asked.

“My scouts checked the mountains,” Albinus admitted. “We saw a small army of Sassanids at Saokoros. I believe that that is where they plan on making their final stand - however, there weren’t many Sassanids there.”

“My scouts saw that the bulk of the Sassanid army was still in the countryside,” Galerius said. “However, if we move quickly enough, we should be able to intercept them at Hasakah. I did the math.”

“I say that we crush the bulk of the Sassanid army at Hasakah,” Albinus suggested. “Once they are defeated, we defeat their forces in Saokoros. The survivors of Hasakah will probably retreat there. Once that is achieved, the Sassanids should surrender.”

“Is anybody opposed to that plan?” Galerius asked. The room was silent, which Galerius took as a collective “no”.

They left the meeting tent and began to march towards Hasakah.

The three legions arrived in Hasakah just as the Sassanid army was leaving it. The Sassanids hadn’t attempted to take the city, so the fighting began at Hasakah’s walls.

It was late winter, so the air was cold. It was drizzling, but that didn’t affect the battle at all.

At first, the Sassanids had been taken by total surprise. They hadn’t expected an Eastern Roman attack here at all. However, the commander of the Sassanid army, one Kavadh, managed to rally his men.

A few soldiers on the front lines refused to obey their commander. The Eastern Romans promptly slaughtered them, which encouraged the other Sassanid troops to obey Kavadh.

At first, the Sassanids simply had a line formation. For days, this line held. The Eastern Romans launched multiple attacks on it, but the line didn’t break. Galerius sighed. This Sassanid formation would be hard to break.

He would need to break it somehow, though. If he didn’t, then the three legions could very well be defeated. If that occurred, things wouldn’t be good, to say the least. Losing this battle would give the Sassanids the initiative. Galerius couldn’t do that. Then, an idea struck him. Hmm, yes, that plan could work very well.
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, the War Against the Sassanids Reaches its Climax, Part 2

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Galerius attacked the line upfront with all of his men. His plan was extremely risky, yes, but it should be successful, and its failure wouldn’t give victory to the Sassanids. He and his army attacked the Sassanid center. Infuriatingly, the center didn’t break. Oh, it suffered many casualties, yes, but it wouldn’t break.

Galerius frowned. He knew that the Sassanids were well-commanded at this battle. However, they’d been well-commanded - by the same commander - before, and those battles had been relatively easy Eastern Roman victories. Which raised the question: why was this battle so hard? Hasakah wasn’t even where the Sassanids wanted to make their last stand… was it?

Galerius looked back. Both Isaurian legions had been caught attempting to flank the Sassanid army. Galerius suspected that the Sassanids had suffered many casualties pushing those two legions back. Unfortunately, they had succeeded. That was very bad news. Galerius cursed.

As Galerius was distracted checking how his plan was going, a Sassanid soldier had snuck up behind. Galerius only noticed this when the Sassanid’s sword was already in motion. He managed to block at the last moment, but the Sassanid escaped.

Galerius pulled back, and he ordered the Legio I Armeniaca to follow suit. Almost all of them did. Unfortunately, some of them couldn’t - they were actively fighting Sassanid troops. Not even everybody that could did - some thought that they had victory in their grasp and refused to retreat. Galerius was, therefore, forced to watch an eighth of his legion get destroyed.

Galerius sighed. This wasn’t working. They needed a new strategy, and they needed it quickly. The unfortunate thing was that the Sassanids wouldn’t let them meet. They had seen the Eastern Romans retreat. That had encouraged them. Around a quarter of the Sassanid army had advanced onto the Eastern Roman side, and even just holding them back was proving increasingly difficult.

Galerius saw all of this, and he knew that the Eastern Romans were on the verge of their first defeat against the Sassanids in more than a decade. He didn’t want to allow that, but what choice did he have? At this point, the best course of action was probably to retreat outright. Yes, that would lose them Hasakah, but it would save three legions.

Finally, night fell. The Sassanids retired to their tents, and Galerius let out a sigh of extreme relief. The three legions would live to fight another day. Then, he realized something. The Sassanids weren’t willing to attack the Eastern Romans at night - he could take advantage of that.

He went to both Albinus and Clementius and woke them up. Then, he led them to the meeting tent, where he began an impromptu meeting.

“So,” Galerius began. “Our current strategy isn’t working at all. They won’t let us flank them, and their line won’t break. I don’t wish to become the first Eastern Roman commander to retreat from a fight in over a decade, but I value my life more than my honor.”

“As much as I hate to admit it,” Albinus said. “You’re right. It seems as if we cannot win this fight. The three legions alone don’t seem to possess sufficient force. However…”

“However what?” Clementius snapped. “We’re on the verge of defeat. How do we escape being killed… or worse, forced to surrender? What’s your plan?”

“We aren’t the only Eastern Roman legion that’s fighting the Sassanids,” Albinus replied cryptically. What was that supposed to mean? Oh. Right. Galerius couldn’t believe that he’d forgotten about that.

“You’re suggesting that we ask for the Scythia’s help,” Galerius said. “And that we hope Anastasios’s army helps them? That’s a risky move, but it could be very rewarding. I say we go for it. What do we have left to lose besides our lives?”

“I’m… not sure,” Clementius admitted. “Regardless, how will we hold the line long enough for our reinforcements to arrive? And how will the Scythia and Anastasios’s” - Clementius shuddered at that name, and Galerius wondered what prior experience he had with the famous commander - “army know that we are in need of aid?”

“Leave that to me,” Galerius responded, smiling. On that note, the meeting ended. Galerius had one more thing to do before he could sleep, though, although he knew that it was late. Galerius wrote a letter to Anastasios and Priscus requesting aid, and then he finally settled down to rest.

The battle would resume soon. It might even resume as early as dawn.
 
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A defensive stance in mountains can be terrible to break <.<

And they're not even in the mountains yet. This is outside Hasakah's walls. Both sides are tired, but this is a last stand for the Sassanids...
 
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