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Trust, Mistrust? Is the Joker in the Roman camp? Or is the Joker in the Sassanid camp? Stay tuned Roman fans! Same Roman time! Same Roman channel!

Of course, the wise man never trusts anyone... but nobody ever said that the Romans were wise...
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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 8
Galerius didn’t dwell on Albinus’s possible plots. They probably wouldn’t be relevant until after the war was over. Despite that, he decided to keep an eye on Albinus. He would not allow an Eastern Roman army to die due to the manipulations of one man. That had already happened once, and it had been an utter disaster. Galerius really didn’t like to remember Siscia.

As Galerius looked out on the battlefield, he noticed that it was inhabited. At first, he assumed that the battle had resumed, so he headed towards the battle. However, as he got closer, he saw that neither army was actually engaging. It seemed as if the uneasy truce from the previous night was holding.

Nobody seemed to want to resume the bloodshed, and Galerius was fine with that. His reinforcements should arrive soon enough, and, if they didn’t arrive in time, the Legio I Armeniaca should be able to hold.
Galerius sighed. They would have to hold. The alternative was unthinkable. Burning a city to the ground was wrong, and he wouldn’t do it. Of course, that probably meant that either Clementius or Albinus would do it, and, from a strategic standpoint, destroying it was a good idea. However, the sheer destruction that would result from that was horrifying.

Galerius sighed. He shouldn’t think about that. Unfortunately, at the moment, there was nothing to distract him. He was alone with his thoughts, and that wasn’t a safe place to be. He was sorely tempted to draw his bow and simply shoot at the Sassanid army. That would resume the battle and, therefore, give him something to do.

He reached his bow, but he reconsidered at the last moment. He needed a distraction, yes, but he didn’t really want the battle to resume. Of course, he knew that the battle would resume eventually, but he didn’t enjoy killing. It was oftentimes necessary, but that didn’t make it right. “Thou shalt not kill” was a commandment, after all. These thoughts alone stayed his hand, and he waited.

His thoughts quickly strayed to why the Sassanids had allowed the battle to be delayed at all. Logically, they should have attacked, sensing that the Eastern Romans were getting tired of fighting. Even if they were also tired, that would’ve likely granted them a quick victory, so why did they delay?

Then, he realized something. The Eastern Romans had chosen this battle spot. The Sassanids didn’t want to fight here at all, and they only had because victory seemed so close. Could they know that Eastern Roman reinforcements were coming? And, if they did, were they evacuating large portions of their army to make another stand?

There was one other possibility, but Galerius didn’t want to consider that. After all, life was so much simpler when you knew who your enemies were. This situation seemed simple - he was fighting a war against the Sassanids, so all Eastern Romans were probably his allies. The two empires were ancient enemies - their enmity stretched back centuries.

Galerius had thought that this war had none of the nuances that Eastern Roman civil wars did. Now, however, he was beginning to see that neither side wanted to fight. They were not so different. That meant there was a grey area - and nuances. Galerius hated nuance. And, as Galerius considered this, he realized that the agenda of the Sassanid commanders and soldiers might not align with the agenda of the Sassanid Emperor…
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A lull gives all soldiers another day of life.

Indeed, lulls do allow more people to survive. Unfortunately, they aren’t eternal. This is but a brief reprieve...
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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 9
Galerius mused on this possibility for a while, but he quickly realized that it didn’t matter to him right now. Oh, it might begin to matter a lot later, but the Sassanids were still his enemies. He could either kill them or be killed by them. That was, unfortunately, how war worked. Those who had power always ruled over those who didn’t. Men thought of war as glorious, but Galerius knew that it was far from glorious. What could be glorious about mass death?

Galerius shut his eyes. He shouldn’t think such thoughts. He needed to go to sleep. That should get his mind off of the horrors of war. He quickly walked back to the Eastern Roman camp. Before he entered his tent, though, he looked up at the sky. He wanted to know if it was night.

As it turned out, night had already fallen. The stars glowed brightly, and there was complete silence. “Wait,” Galerius realized. “Complete silence? It’s never this quiet anywhere - even if it’s nighttime and there’s no fighting going on. Why was it so quiet?” And, perhaps strangest of all, there was no moon. Galerius wondered if that - and, more importantly, the silence - was a sign. The only question was: “a sign of what?”.

Galerius’s dreams didn’t help anything. Truth be told, Galerius was hoping he could get a dreamless sleep, but that clearly wasn’t happening. He remembered Siscia. He remembered the betrayal, and he remembered the sheer fear that his fellow soldiers had turned on their comrades and attacked him.

Then, for better or worse, his dream changed. He saw blood, so much blood. At first, that was all he saw. That was his entire dream. Soon, however, his view expands, and he wishes that it hadn’t. Initially, he believes this a mercy. It was not. It was most definitely not - because the full scene is infinitely more horrifying than just the blood.

There was a field. It was covered in bodies. Most of them belonged to dead people. There was blood, as he had first seen. Then, Galerius saw something that horrified him beyond belief. A few of the bodies twitched. At first, he simply wondered how that was possible. After all, there was no wind on this field. Then, he realized the truth, and he wished that he hadn’t. Most of the people who were here were dead, yes, but some of them were still alive.

The worst thing was that Galerius wasn’t sure which he’d rather be. If he was dead, well, he couldn’t do anything, but he wouldn’t suffer either. Those men who survived this wouldn’t be happy. If they ever managed to leave this battlefield, this scene would remain with them for the rest of their life. Then, he finally realized one key point: sometimes, death was mercy.

He knew that there had been a battle here. That much was obvious. He didn’t know where here was, though. He figured that that would be good information to have, if only to make sure that this never happened. His dream avatar looked into the distance, and he saw a river. He decided to look the other way - after all, many places were near a river. He awoke just as he finally saw what was there.

The entire area on the other side was pure desolation. It looked like it had once been inhabited. The river still ran through the area. The entire area was covered in ash. Nothing grew there anymore. Nothing could grow there anymore.

When Galerius awoke, he left his tent. He looked up at the sky, and he saw that it was dawn. He sat down. He needed to consider his dreams…

His first dream was pretty straightforward. Siscia hadn’t been fun, but it reminded him of why he fought. His second dream was far worse. He knew where that was. It was outside of the walls of Hasakah - or, rather, Hasakah’s ruins. It was where he was right now. He chose to view it as a warning. They couldn’t lose Hasakah, or they would be forced to make that dream a reality. That was unacceptable - Hasakah was more than just burned in his dream, it was utterly annihilated. The very earth where it once stood had been salted.
Then, Galerius realized that his thoughts might stop if he thought about why he fought. He fought to eventually avenge Siscia. That calmed him down. Then, he realized one fundamental fact - Siscia was a battle. If he currently served to avenge Siscia, why had he fought at Siscia? Then, he realized with a start that he didn’t know.
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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 10
Galerius looked at the battlefield. He would have his revenge soon enough, but the battle was more important - for now, anyway. He really wanted the battle to resume - or to end. If he was doing nothing, he would inevitably be left alone. He was self-conscious enough to know that that wasn’t a good position to be in at all.

The stare off was still happening, but Galerius knew that it wouldn’t last much longer. It had already lasted two days - someone was bound to get impatient. All it would take to resume the battle was a single man shooting an arrow or charging at the enemy lines. Galerius needed the battle to resume, but he didn’t want to do it himself. He wouldn’t deviate from the plan, and he could admit, if only to himself, that he didn’t want to be responsible for the deaths that would inevitably occur when this battle resumed.

Galerius didn’t have to wait long. As the sun reached the peak of its trajectory upward, a lone Sassanid soldier let loose a single arrow. Later, Galerius would realize that this action alone wasn’t the die. By itself, it shouldn’t have been significant. It was only one arrow. Unfortunately, the arrow hit the leg of an Eastern Roman archer. The Eastern Roman archers perceived the attack as a direct attack upon them. In truth, Galerius didn’t blame them - they had no way of knowing what the Sassanid leadership was thinking.

They shot their own arrows at the Sassanid archers. Galerius noticed the look of surprise on the faces of the Sassanids, but he thought nothing of it. Well, there was no turning back now. Thankfully, the two days of uneasy ceasefire had been helpful to the Eastern Roman cause. Now, all he had to do was hold the line. The Sassanids couldn’t be allowed to take the Eastern Roman camp. It would be preferable if they didn’t take Hasakah either, but that wasn’t strictly necessary - and the Sassanids weren’t trying to take the city at the moment.

The Sassanids responded by firing almost all of their arrows at the Eastern Romans. Many Eastern Romans perished, and they retreated a few feet. It was at this point that he realized that the Legio I Armeniaca was very likely in danger. He drew his sword and charged at the Sassanid archers.

As it turned out, the Sassanids hadn’t really expected this at all. The archers fell back, and only a very small few actually did anything. Most had expended all of their arrows attempting to destroy the Eastern Roman archers. Only a few had any arrows left at all, and these were either stolen or used. He dodged the few that were actually going to hit him.

Once that was done, he wondered if he should attack the Sassanid infantry and cavalry. That decision was ultimately not up to him, as it turned out.

He saw that the Sassanid camp was almost empty. He frowned at this. Why had the Sassanids so thoroughly abandoned their camp? He snuck into many tents, and he found that many Sassanid things were still in them.

That was most definitely weird. The Sassanids probably wouldn’t do that unless they were certain victory beckoned to them. He decided to look back, and all of his questions were answered.

The Sassanid army had attacked the Legio I Armeniaca’s line. That was why the archers had attacked. It was merely a distraction.

In that moment, Galerius made a split second decision that would change history forever. He entered the tent of the commander of the Sassanid army, where he found the enemy’s current plan. He smiled. That would prove very useful indeed.
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Having the other guy's plan is usually very, very good.

True. Unless you can’t or don’t want to do anything about it. If you can’t, it’s depressing. If don’t want to, then you know that you’re being manipulated but can’t actually escape said manipulation.
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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 11
Galerius frowned. On second thought, there was a slight problem. Knowing the plans of his enemy would be useful in the future… if he remained alive and in his camp. The problem was that the entire Sassanid army stood between his current position and the camp. He cursed. This was a terrible situation to be in.

He really should’ve thought this through more. If he had, he wouldn’t be trapped in his enemy’s camp. Oh, sure, said camp was uninhabited, but it wasn’t going to stay like that. The Sassanids would return to their camp once the battle currently taking place in between the two camps, and then he would be their prisoner.

He had no intentions of that happening, which meant that he needed to escape the Sassanids before the Sassanids returned to it. He would also prefer if he could make it back to his own camp soon - spending more than one day outside of it could be disastrous - for both him and the Legio I Armeniaca.

Okay, how could he escape? He could attempt to get past through the entire Sassanid army. They would be pretty busy fighting his legion. He decided that that idea would be a last resort. It was incredibly risky. Thankfully, there was another possible way. As far as he knew, there was nothing blocking entering the city from the Sassanid camp. Well, there was nothing blocking his entrance since he was Eastern Roman - there were obviously guards that manned the walls. The Sassanids couldn’t just take the city without a fight.

He wasn’t even sure that they wanted to take the city, though, if he was being completely honest. It would be far easier to besiege Hasakah and leave the three legions to lick their walls during the temporary truce that had occurred. Despite that, Hasakah hadn’t fallen, which made Galerius suspicious. It could’ve been that Kavadh was worried about the three legions breaking the unspoken truce, but he didn’t even need to divert his entire force to Hasakah to actually take it. The walls were defended, yes, but they weren’t defended by many people. That was probably because the city had previously been a Sassanid possession. It had long been part of the disputed territory between the Sassanid and Eastern Roman Empires, so its defenses were periodically destroyed, and Galerius assumed that there simply hadn’t been time to repair them.
He began to sneak to the walls. He soon reached them, and the local guard asked him to identify himself. He did so, and they let him into the city. He only walked along the walls, though - he needed to arrive in the Eastern Roman camp soon.

He arrived at the camp in the area where nobody else was. That was interesting. He looked across the camp, and he saw that both of the Isaurian legions were still in the camp. However, they were united as one unit, which meant that they were preparing for battle. That was bad news. It meant that the Legio I Armeniaca - his legion - was probably in trouble. Great. Just great.

As he moved towards the battlefield, he noticed that the Armeniaca didn’t seem to have much organization. He’d have to fix that if he survived this battle.

He immediately took command as soon as he entered the battle. He ordered his men to form a line. They quickly did so. The Sassanids, who had been raiding deep into the Armeniaca until then, retreated back to an area closer to their camp.

Galerius saw Kavadh give them commands. The battle of the ages was coming, but it wasn’t clear who would win it.
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YayHoo! Battle for the Ages! I hope it goes well for the Romans. But whoever wins, it should be entertaining.

Yes. Hopefully, the Eastern Romans win...

Let's hope for the east romans the brief absence of their commander causing confusion turns out as a bargain...

Yep. Or at least hope that it hasn’t lost them the battle...
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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 12
Galerius sighed. He needed to save his strength, get some rest before the battle began. This battle could very well decide the course of the entire war. Perhaps his dreams would be helpful, as they had been before. He fell asleep quickly.

He managed to have a dreamless sleep. He was at first annoyed at this, but then he remembered that his dreams weren’t always helpful. He quickly shut down that trail of thought. He needed to focus on winning the battle. Personal concerns could be dealt with later. For now, victory was all that mattered. Victory… and survival.

The Armeniaca formed a line, but this was not like the previous skirmishes. The two Isaurian legions were also present, and they were ready to fight. Despite this, the fight didn’t begin immediately. Both armies looked at each other wearily, but neither wished to begin the fight.

The wind was blowing in every direction. This might’ve been another reason why nobody wanted the fight to begin. Any arrows fired had just as much of a chance of hitting allies rather than the enemy.

In all honesty, Galerius wanted the battle to start, but he was smart to realize that it wasn’t going to. He frowned. Given that there was an unspoken truce again, the Eastern Romans should take advantage.

He made his way over to both Albinus and Clementius. He asked why they weren’t taking advantage of the temporary truce, and Albinus was quick to agree that they should. They decided to go to the meeting tent, but, before they left, they ordered all three legions to hold the line if the Sassanids attacked. He didn’t expect that to happen, but his latest experience with being absent from command had taught him that one should always have a contingency plan.

When they entered the tent, noon hadn’t yet arrived. “So,” Clementius began. “What’s our plan?”

Galerius smiled. “I’d been hoping to discuss that with you two, actually,” he said. “No matter what happens, we must hold the line. This is absolutely imperative. If things are looking bad, we have reinforcements due to arrive soon. They do not.”

“We know that,” Clementius said. “How do we plan to fight this battle, though?”

“Well,” Albinus began. “We already know the terrain.”

Clementius looked at him blankly as he said that. Albinus sighed. “Fine,” he began. “Here’s a quick refresher on the terrain of the area near here. Two rivers meet inside the city. We could attempt to make use of this, but that’s what the Sassanids are most likely expecting us to do.”

“Yes,” Galerius said. “The Sassanids know the terrain here just as well as we do now. They will not fall for the same trick twice. The problem with forming a plan is that many factors affect battles.”

“Indeed, “ Albinus agreed. “Some of these factors can be determined. Some are constant. The problem is that not all of them are. We can’t account for weather before the battle actually starts. In addition, we don't know how the Sassanids will react to our actions. This means that the only plans we can make are very general plans. We have one of those.”

“True,” Galerius mused. “Hold the line until reinforcements isn’t a very specific plan, but we can do that. As such, we are sticking to a line formation for now, but if you see an opportunity, go for it. If we can win before Anastasios’s army arrives, that would be great.”

The meeting ended then, and the three commanders moved to where their legions were. It was almost dusk, but no one had attacked yet.
Is he annoyed upon waking because he does not remember dreaming? Or is he annoyed in his sleep because he is not dreaming which is definitely a dream?

Superstition is a tricky thing. Signs you see everywhere of course are a burden, as one never knows what god(s) mean to tell one.
On the other hand, not seeing any signs one usually uses to aid oneself in decision-finding doesn't make things simpler either way (Because, what does god want now!)
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Is he annoyed upon waking because he does not remember dreaming? Or is he annoyed in his sleep because he is not dreaming which is definitely a dream?
Superstition is a tricky thing. Signs you see everywhere of course are a burden, as one never knows what god(s) mean to tell one.
On the other hand, not seeing any signs one usually uses to aid oneself in decision-finding doesn't make things simpler either way (Because, what does god want now!)

@knppel is more or less right. He’s annoyed that his dream was nonexistent/he didn’t remember it, as his dreams have helped him before.
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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 13
As night fell, the wind stopped. Immediately, the Sassanid archers began to fire at their Eastern Roman counterparts. Galerius ordered his archers to respond in kind, and they did. However, both the cavalry and infantry were completely untouched by arrows - that was extraordinarily weird. He wondered if the archers of each side had some sort of grudge against each other. They had fought multiple times in this battle, so it was possible.

As the night got darker, he began his personal plan. He was worried that the line would break, and that couldn’t be allowed to happen. If it did, then the war would become much harder. The united forces of both empires would face each other in a series of battles. The sheer cost of human lives in such a conflict would be staggering. He wouldn’t allow it to happen.

Galerius took a small force of his most trusted and talented soldiers. Almost all of these men had been present at Siscia, and none of them had betrayed the Empire, although all of them had been offered gold to do so. He trusted all of them with his life.

As midnight approached, this small group prepared. Finally, he thought it was dark enough. Using this darkness as a cover, he led his group across the area separating the two armies. No one noticed. Soon, they had reached the Sassanid lines. Immediately, he drew his sword and attacked the Sassanids. His men followed suit.

Nobody noticed. The darkness shielded everything. It was the perfect cover. If everything went according to plan, the Sassanids would surrender or die by dawn.

Nature wasn’t on their side, though. Why had he hoped that she would be? His plan wasn’t reliant on everything going right, but it would be far more difficult if things went wrong. It always got far more difficult when things went wrong.

The wind resumed blowing. This wind was strong, but it was also consistent. It only blew west, and he figured that the archers would quickly figure that out. Unfortunately, the wind slowed their attack down.

Despite the darkness, it was only a matter of time until the Sassanids figured out that they were being attacked, and Galerius knew that. Still, that moment came quicker than expected, so he was surprised when the Sassanids began counterattacking.

Despite that, he recovered from that quickly. He attacked the Sassanids, and his small band helped him. They cut a hole into the center of the Sassanid line. However, their luck wasn’t going to last, and Galerius knew that, as much as he disliked it. As Sassanid troops began to surround their small band, he and his comrades fought their way out of the center of the Sassanid army.

By the time most of them had escaped, it was somewhat easier to see. Galerius knew what that meant: dawn was approaching. Perhaps that would lead to a break in the fighting, but he didn’t think that likely, no matter how much he wished it was. The battle was far from over, and it would be remembered for eons to come.
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