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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

HistoryDude

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One cannot but help but think that Zeno is being well played.


And all one can hear is the laughing of thirsting gods?

:D

Zeno is very easy to convince...

Yep.
 
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Part 1: The War in the Shadows, The Egyptian Plot, Pt. 2

HistoryDude

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The Emperor’s palace, 479 AD

“I have sent the message, and Egypt has declared independence,” Alexander told the Emperor.

“Begin negotiations with Italian lords… the army will deal with the Egyptians,” Emperor Zeno responded.

The Sinai Peninsula, July 479 AD

The united armies of the provinces of Greece and Anatolia, as well as the restored Eastern Scholae Palatinae, marched towards the city of Alexandria, hoping to cow Vicar Orestes of Egypt into reacknowledging imperial roman authority.

The day was hot, and the army was tired. Ultimately, the commander of the Eastern Scholae Palatinae, and the army as a whole for this campaign, Thomas, led his men into an oasis. At this oasis, the army rested.

Thomas was a stout man, who was chosen as the leader of the Eastern Scholae Palatinae because he had experience. He fought at the Battles of Erebuni and Ghapan, and he, therefore, was experienced in matters of war. He participated in the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, in 451 AD, when the great Hunnic armies were finally defeated.

Thomas called his second-in-command, Demetrius, to his tent. They began to discuss plans for what they would do when they arrived in Alexandria.

Demetrius was a Greek, who has served in the Eastern Roman army for many years. He was a local noble who controlled a small plot of land in Thessaly. He had commanded troops during the Battle of Ghapan, and he was good at adapting to unexpected situations.

“What’s the plan when we arrive at Alexandria?,” Demetrius asked.

“You command the flanks, and I will command the center. We will offer them a chance to surrender peacefully, but if they refuse, we will attack,” Thomas answered.

“Very well,” Demetrius responded. “How long are we stopping here?”

“One month and no longer,” Thomas answered.


The outskirts of Alexandria, late September 479 AD

The hot Egyptian sun beat down on the Eastern Roman army. Across from them, commanded by Vicar Orestes himself, the Egyptian army stood. On the backs of the Egyptian army lay the city of Alexandria. Behind the Eastern Roman army was the Nile Delta.

“Surrender, and declare your loyalty to the Emperor of Rome in the East,” Commander Thomas of the Eastern Scholae Palatinae demanded.

“Never, Egypt owes no loyalty to a dying empire,” Vicar Orestes responded.

The Egyptian army attacked the Eastern Roman center, hoping to take the Eastern Roman army by surprise. However, Commander Thomas was expecting this, and the Eastern Romans beat back the Egyptian assault.

Realizing that his plan to use the element of surprise had failed, the Vicar of Egypt ordered his troops to split into three divisions. One of these attempted to keep the center distracted, while the other two attempted to flank the Romans.

Demetrius was on the left, and he ordered the right to engage and destroy the Egyptians attacking them. He ordered the left to let the Egyptians flank them with minimal opposition. The Egyptians were now behind the Roman army, so Demetrius ordered the line facing the Nile Delta to turn and engage the Egyptian army before it could complete the flanking maneuver. This succeeded.

Demetrius then ordered that the back end of the right be reinforced. This left the Egyptian army trapped. They had no choice but to fight, but the battle would be on unfavorable terms. Also, the Nile Delta blocked their retreat. In a single stroke, a third of the Egyptian army was utterly annihilated.

Thomas took over command of the portion of the right army that was not part of the ambush at the Nile Delta. This portion of the army joined the center. The new army pushed forwards through the remnant of the Egyptian army’s center. Once the Egyptian Center collapsed, the army attacked the right, as the Egyptian army attempted to retreat. Many Egyptian soldiers managed to escape southwards to Memphis.

Vicar Orestes of Egypt, however, was captured. This broke the back of most organized Egyptian resistance. Those that disliked Eastern Roman rule bided their time until they could revolt once more. Many Monophysite Copts disliked Nicene rule, but they were pragmatic and patient. They could wait.




So, we have some characters now. You will see more of these guys in the next "chapter", Be All My Sins Remember'd. Alexander will also have some more appearances...
 
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stnylan

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An important victory no doubt, but it sounds like Egypt will continue to rest uneasy under the imperial thumb.
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, The Imperial Succession

HistoryDude

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The Imperial Palace, 480 AD

The messenger, Alexander, returned from his attempted negotiations.

“My liege,” he said. “No one wishes to ally with us.”

“Very well,” Emperor Zeno said. “Tell our vassals to enforce the new quarantine”.

“Quarantine, sir?” Alexander wondered. “Since when is that a thing?”

“Since my son died of the plague,” the Emperor snapped. “Carry the message.”

Alexander flinched and then left to give the order to the governors.

“On the bright side,” Alexander thought, “this means my dream won’t come true for some time, if it even comes true at all”.

“Such a vain hope,” the female entity whispered to the wind…

The Imperial Palace, March 481

Alexander waited for news. Something important was happening, although he had no idea what it was. He waited impatiently, as he didn’t like being kept in the dark. The plague had almost completely vanished from the realm, so it couldn’t have been that…

Soon, a courtier announced to the Empire, “the Emperor is dead, long live the Emperor!”.

So, that was what the news was. Well, it was certainly important to say the least. He should probably go meet the new Emperor. After all, he was going to be serving him for many years…

“Come in,” Emperor Longinus called. Alexander entered the room. “Ah, the messenger,” Longinus said. Alexander nodded. “I shall make my mark on history, but first I must secure my throne,” the Emperor commented. “Tell the governors and the legions that I shall tolerate no dissent during my reign”.

Alexander nodded. Then, he left to go send the message to the various governors of the realm…

Constantinople, near the Imperial Palace, 484

Alexander sighed. He was done sending the Imperial order to obey the new Emperor. He had bad news, however. A group of Syrians had rallied behind their own candidate for Emperor. They had declared that they would only obey their Emperor, who resided in Antioch.

He entered the Palace. He dreaded telling this news to the Emperor, but it was probably better to just get it over with.

“Your majesty,” Alexander began. Should he start with the good news or the bad news? He decided to start with the good news. “Most of your vassals have decided to not challenge you, but the people of Syria and Palestine have declared their own Emperor, who resides in Antioch”.

“Hmm,” Emperor Longinus began. “Tell the Eastern Scholae Palatinae to come to Constantinople at once”.

Alexander left to send a letter to the Palatinae, who were currently stationed at the border with Persia.

Meanwhile, Emperor Longinus wrote to his Greek and Anatolian vassals, ordering them to raise their armies and unite in Cilicia. From Cilicia, they would march to wherever the forces of the false Emperor were. They would destroy his forces, and then they would take his capital.

Once the revolt of the false Emperor was dealt with, Emperor Longinus planned to attack Dalmatia. He would retake much of Dalmatia, if he could. The “Kingdom” of Italy would have to deal with internal unrest, leaving its coasts open to future attacks...


So, we now have an Emperor who isn't an extreme doormat, and he faces opposition to his rule, but he is ambitious... Stay tuned!
 
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Well having an Emperor who isn't a doormat is a good start :D
 
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HistoryDude

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I’m switching the update schedule to bring daily… for now.

Does anybody have advice on the story so far? What’s working? What’s not working?
 
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stnylan

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Does anybody have advice on the story so far? What’s working? What’s not working?
Unfortunately I don't have time or energy atm to offer more detailed comment :(
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, The Battle of Maraclea

HistoryDude

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Maraclea, January 485

It was a dark and stormy night. Two armies stood outside the city of Maraclea. Neither wished to have a battle under these conditions, but both wanted this war to be over as soon as possible.

The armies of the rightful Emperor of Rome in the East had marched throughout much of Syria. They were searching for where the base of military operations from what many in the army derisively called the “Antiochene Empire”. They had found that, but the weather seemed to be against them, so both sides waited patiently.

Commander Thomas of the Eastern Scholae Palatinae called his unofficial second-in-command, Demetrius, into his tent.

“Any advice?,” Thomas asked Demetrius.

“I feel like this base was too obvious. It is defended by many men, yes, but intelligence predicts that the forces of the false emperor can raise more than twice the amount of what defends this city,” Demetrius responded.

“Yes, but what should we do about it?,” Thomas wondered.

“We should send a small force to search for any other potential military bases of the false emperor,” Demetrius suggested. “They could tell us where these other bases are, and we could attack them once we take this city.”

“Okay, that will be our plan then,” Thomas decided. “Thanks for the advice.”

“It was my pleasure,” Demetrius responded. He then exited the tent of command. As he headed over to his tent, he thought of how to advance his social standing. He liked fighting, yes, but he also wanted a small bit of land to rule during peacetime.

Maraclea, January 485, a day later

The storm had subsided. The sun now illuminated the city of Maraclea and its environs. The armies of the claimant to the Imperial Throne stood with their backs to Maraclea, and the armies of the man who held the Imperial Throne stood poised to attack them.

Ultimately, the loyalist forces attacked first. Their center moved forward, attempting to destroy the “Antiochene” center. At first, their attempts succeeded beautifully. Soon, an opening revealed itself. Commander Thomas took the troops of the loyalist center through it. As they had almost succeeded at making it to Maraclea, however, they found their path blocked by enemy troops. They attempted to retreat, but enemy troops were behind them as well. Enemy troops blocked both of their sides as well. They were trapped with nowhere to retreat. Commander Thomas realized that he had walked straight into an ambush, but it was already too late…

Desperate for a way out, the Commander of the Eastern Scholae Palatinae ordered his troops to attack the enemy on all sides, in hopes of outright fighting their way out… The troops saw no other choice and so they attacked, hoping to escape over a mountain of corpses. They would be the corpses of traitors after all…

On the left flank, Demetrius saw the chaos that was the ambush in the center. In it, he saw an opportunity. He led most of the left side of the army around the opposing army. He then destroyed the guards at the gates of Maraclea. From there, he entered the city proper, whose residents affirmed their loyalty to Emperor Longinus.

Demetrius’s army attacked the rebelling army from behind. On the right flank, the loyalist troops had emerged victorious, so they moved to attack the rebelling army doing the ambush. Commander Thomas charged at his attackers on all sides, hoping to see which broke first and could thus be a route to retreat. Ultimately, the lines to his right and to his front broke first. Seeing this, he realized that Demetrius had captured Maraclea, and so he ordered his troops to turn around and attack the men who their backs were to. Under the three-pronged attack, the remnants of the “Antiochene” army lost all sense of cohesion. The loyalist army managed to kill or capture most of the survivors, and the few who escaped fled in every direction.

No leaders of the revolt were found, dead or alive, at Maraclea in the aftermath. This only furthered Demetrius’s suspicion that the revolting forces had another military base. His suspicions would be proven correct when a messenger arrived from the scout force that had been sent out to check the rest of Syria and Palestine for bases. This messenger told Commander Thomas that there was a military base at Adelon...
 
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This rebellion is proving a bit Hydra-like.
 
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Part 1:The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3:Be All My Sins Remember'd, The Battle of Adelon

HistoryDude

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Adelon, April 29, 485

It was a cold night. The skies were clear, and there was not a storm present for miles in any direction. The army of the “Antiochenes” stood in front of the city. The Eastern Romans stood before them. Both armies just stood there. It seemed that neither wanted to fire the first shot.

Ultimately, a Eastern Roman soldier got restless and charged at the “Antiochene” line. The battle began. Thomas decided to lead from the front in this battle, and Demetrius planned strategy in the command tent.

Demetrius looked, but he could find no weaknesses in the “Antiochene” line. The Eastern Roman forces advanced in a phalanx, but the line still held. Demetrius soon realized that the phalanx would not work. He ordered the troops to get into a traditional formation. Both sides waited patiently. After the disaster and chaos that had been Maraclea, neither side wanted to attack unless they were sure of victory…

Adelon, May 1, 485

Both sides were getting restless. It had been days, but neither side had made a move since the beginning of the battle. In addition, many soldiers, on both sides, were getting homesick. It was only a matter of time until someone’s patience broke. Yet no one attacked, because absolutely no one wanted a repeat of Maraclea.

Finally, Commander Thomas had an idea. He took a small detachment of soldiers, so small it was not likely to be noticed, and he marched for Adelon proper. He planned to flank the opposing army. He figured that if he succeeded, many of the “Antiochene” soldiers would just surrender, as they would no longer have anything left to fight for. Unfortunately for his plans, he was quickly noticed by the troops on the “Antiochene” right, who attacked.

Thomas’s forces were forced to make a fighting retreat. None of the Eastern Roman troops attacked the opening, fearing that it was a trap. Ultimately, Thomas and his troops made it back to the front line of the Eastern Roman army. The “Antiochene” right judged that it would be unwise to pursue them.

When night fell, both sides retired to their military tents. It looked as though the battle would not have a victor quite yet.

Demetrius’s tent, Outside Adelon, May 15, 485

It was a dark night. Demetrius had just retired to his tent once more. Neither side would be the first to attack. Both armies waited and looked for an opening. Soon, Demetrius had dozed off to sleep. While he was asleep, however, he dreamed.

In his dream, he was surrounded by flames. In the distance, he saw that there was an opening in the wall of flames. In the opening, he saw a mountain of corpses. He walked towards the mountain. When he reached the mountain, he picked up some of the corpses, opening up a pathway. He stood on a beach, but the water was red. He felt blood hit his feet as the tide rolled over him.

He backed up and went sideways. Here, however, he encountered men slaughtering each other in battle. He jumped, but he encountered nothing in the sky. He looked up at the sky, but it was dark. There were no stars, and it was a moonless night.

“This battle must end soon,” a feminine voice whispered. “Or this will happen”.

“What happened?,” Demetrius wondered.

“Hope was killed,” the voice whispered. “Forever. End this battle, or there will be endless carnage…”.

The woman murmured softly to herself, such that no one could hear her. She murmured that she was dark, yes, but she was not heartless… and that this battle being prolonged would be a needless waste of life.

Demetrius woke, and he began to plan a way to force the battle to end. Peace had to come, or all would be lost. Earth must not become a second Hell…

Adelon, May 16-17, 485

The armies reformed their lines. Demetrius ordered two large forces to be split off to flank the army of the rebels. He ordered that the center of the Eastern Roman army attack the revolting army head-on. Also, he ordered that a small contingent stay back and defend against any charges by the “Antiochene” army. In addition, he ordered that another portion of the army be split off to charge at the opposing flanks.

His strategy was, in effect, to force the “Antiochene” army to commit most of their troops to opposing one of the task forces, opening up the others to carry out their missions. If they reinforced the center, then they would be flanked. If they reinforced the edges of their army, then they would be forced to give up their center, and, by extent, Adelon. If they decided to all out attack, then they would leave Adelon completely undefended and leave their backs exposed. Whatever they did, they would lose the battle.

The orders were relayed and followed. The “Antiochene” army attempted to reinforce their center, operating under the assumption that the battle was lost if the center would not hold. As the day turned into night, and the sun exploded in its descent, the “Antiochene” flanks began to collapse. Under many repeated charges, and as darkness blinded the sight of men, the center of the revolting army would not hold. Many “Antiochene” troops, however, began to simply attack in every direction.

Fighting continued throughout the night. The “Antiochene” troops refused to surrender, declaring that they would never be captured alive. As light returned to the world, the “Antiochenes” banded together into three groups, one surrounded in the center, and two on what used to be the flanks. They decided that this would be their last stand. The center had not held, but the battle was far from over. As the source of all sustenance rose in the heavens, and the world brightened, the “Antiochenes” on each flank launched one last, desperate charge against the loyalist army. The center, meanwhile, had become many soldiers desperately attacking the surrounding loyalist army on all sides.

As night fell once more, the last remnants of the “Antiochene” forces either surrendered or were killed. Their emperor was captured and brought back to Constantinople in chains...



So, this rebellion's over...
 
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Strange dreams, but dreams can be powerful things.
 
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Part 1:The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, Training Part 1

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Constantinople, late 485

It was a relatively normal night. Emperor Longinus was training and attempting to become a great warrior. He was working out and planning battle strategies. However, he felt that this would be easier if he had a friend to practice with…

Meanwhile, Count Konstantinos of Tortosa was at the palace gates, as he had news for the Emperor. The Emperor had just finished training with himself, so he invited the Count of Tortosa in. Count Konstantinos told Emperor Longinus that his forces had won a victory at Adelon, and the rebellion was, therefore, over. Then, the Count noticed the room and realized that the Emperor had been training. Count Konstantinos had himself been training in matters of war for some time. However, he had trained alone, and he figured that training with someone else would be fun.

The Count of Tortosa asked the Emperor of Eastern Rome if he would like to spar sometime. Emperor Longinus was surprised by this, but he agreed anyway. Training with himself had been getting boring lately. He figured that sparring with someone else would feel better. He also figured that they could share tricks, which would improve them both.

They decided that they would start sparring as soon as both of them were next available. Both of the rulers looked forward to training with someone else. In addition, the Empire would be strengthened overall due to their sparring….

The Imperial Palace, early 486

Both Emperor Longinus and Count Konstantinos didn’t have any paperwork, or anything else associated with ruling a piece of land, to do. They had scheduled this sparring session a few months back, so both had been looking forward to it for a while now. They both entered one of the palace’s training rooms, and they locked the door behind them, so there would be no unfortunate servants who tried to get in the way of the training.

They decided that they would begin sparring using no weapons. They threw many punches and kicks at each other, each simply hoping to wear the other out. Ultimately, they both realized that they needed a strategy. Count Konstantinos decided to throw many punches to the Emperor’s chest, as he hoped that he would yield due to shortage of breath. Emperor Longinus, by contrast, decided to attempt to trip the Count by kicking and punching his legs.

Soon, both sparring partners were tired, so they called a break. They took a water break, and they then went back to sparring. Ultimately, Emperor Longinus caught the punches from Count Konstantinos and used the momentum of the punches to get the Count onto the ground.

“Yield?,” the Emperor asked.

“Yes,” the Count of Tortosa grudgingly responded. “Good spar”.

“You aren’t bad either,” Emperor Longinus responded. “What should we do now?”

“We should take a break,” the Count of Tortosa answered. “After that, however, we could talk strategy?”

“Sounds good,” the Emperor responded.

They went and took a break. They then began to discuss how annoying running a realm is. The Emperor complained about having to please all his rebelling vassals. The Emperor also talked about his plans to reconquer former Roman territory, and Count Konstantinos agreed to help him with this ambition.
 
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Sounds like a budding friendship
 
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Part 1:The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3:Be All My Sins Remember'd, Training Pt.2

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The Imperial Palace, early 486

Emperor Longinus and Count Konstantinos of Tortosa have begun sparring together. They have just finished doing a spar with no weapons. They began to talk strategy after their break finished…

“Flanking is the best strategy,” the Emperor argued. “It can almost entirely prevent a battle if it succeeds!”

“And if it doesn’t succeed?,” Count Konstantinos countered. “Then, large portions of the army could be killed or captured for no reason!”

“Rather, it is best to exert pressure on their center, until it cannot hold,” the Count of Tortosa continued. “If their center collapses, then the entire rest of the opposing army will become a chaotic mess, which will lead to their quick defeat!”

“True, but if their center pushes back so much that your center collapses, then you have brought a quick defeat unto your army,” the Emperor pointed out. “Flanking is more reusable, and it works in more situations.”

“You make good points,” Count Konstantinos acknowledged. “But ultimately, the best strategy to be used depends on the situation.”

“True enough,” the Emperor conceded. “Want to do hand to hand sparring?”

“That sounds good,” the Emperor agreed.

Emperor Longinus decided to use a short dagger, while Count Konstantinos decided to use a javelin. The Count managed to keep the Emperor away from him. This meant that the Emperor could not get in close enough to hit Count Konstantinos with his dagger. The javelin was a long ranged weapon, which meant that the Count of Tortosa could apply pressure on the Emperor. Unfortunately for him, the Emperor had a weapon with too short a range, so he spent a large portion of the spar simply dodging Count Konstantinos’s javelin.

Knowing this, the Emperor began to look at the Count of Tortosa, searching for weak points in his defense. For a long while, he found no weak points. Eventually, however, Count Konstantinos made a mistake. He was tired, and his reaction time had slowed. The Emperor attempted to move around the Count, so that he could strike from behind.Count Konstantinos, however, was quicker, and he managed to force Emperor Longinus to stay at a distance, or be stabbed by his javelin.

After this, the two combatants decided to take a short break to re-energize and plan on how to defeat the other. The hand to hand sparring continued in a stalemate for a short while. This changed when the Emperor realized that he could probably use the dagger as a longer-ranged weapon. Emperor Longinus decided to throw the dagger, aiming for the Count of Tortosa’s feet. The dagger hit, but the Count simply ignored it. Emperor Longinus snuck under the javelin and successfully retrieved his dagger, so the sparring continued.

The Count of Tortosa decided to put his javelin to the Emperor’s neck, but Emperor Longinus blocked it with his dagger. Then, the Emperor realized that all he needed to do to win the spar was disarm the Count of Tortosa. He began to think on how to do this, while blocking the Count’s attacks. He caught the javelin with his dagger. Then, he stabbed the javelin, which applied pressure for it to move left. Ultimately, the javelin fell out of the Count of Tortosa’s hands, so the Count picked it back up and applied pressure to the Emperor’s hand, so he dropped the dagger. He then put his javelin to the Emperor’s neck.

“Yield?,” Count Konstantinos asked the Emperor.

“Yes,” Emperor Longinus responded. “Good spar.”

“Want to do this again soon?,” the Count of Tortosa asked.

“Yes. This was fun,” the Emperor responded.
 
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It is an interesting perspective, seeing the Emperor through sparring sessions.
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, Preparing For War

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Constantinople, June 488

The day was yet young. In an ornate palace, two men chatted with each other. Both of them had mediterranean complexions. One of them had a long beard, while the other had almost no facial hair. The man with little facial hair was Emperor Longinus, while the one with the beard was his friend, and oftentimes sparring partner, Count Konstantinos of Tortosa. Emperor Longinus had sent his messenger, Alexander, to deliver a declaration of war to Odoacer’s kingdom in Italia. Both men were planning on leaving to lead their troops in the field of battle. They would lead as the warrior-emperors of old.

“My liege,” Count Konstantinos began. “Will you lead from the front?”

“No,” the Emperor replied. “That is far too dangerous. I could get killed, and my heir is not yet of age. The Empire of the Romans would fall into chaos, and we cannot let that happen.”

“Where will you be on the battlefield, then?,” the Count of Tortosa wondered.

“I will lead my troops from the center of the army,” Emperor Longinus responded. “The fact that their emperor is fighting with them should give them courage!”

“Now,” the Emperor began. “We must depart for distant Dalmatia, which we are attacking first. Hopefully the new troops that we have hired will aid in our glorious victory over the barbarian Odoacer.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Count Konstantinos pointed out. “We need to depart for the agreed-upon meeting place first, and then we shall win the war!”

They left. They were headed to Epirus, where they would meet up with their troops. From Epirus, they would move into Dalmatia. They would then attack the Italian forces until they agreed to terms favorable to the Roman Empire.

Epirus, June 488

Demetrius stood on his small plot of land, and he waited. He was a strong man, who had fought in many wars. He figured that was why he was second-in-command of the great Roman Army during the few revolts before this attack. He had gathered a small army with which to defend his minimal lands, although he hoped he would gain more land through his military service.

Epirus had been chosen as the meeting point for the various forces that were to invade Dalmatia. This was presumably because it was one of the closest Imperial territories to the Empire, and the closest Imperial territory with any semi-permanent army.

Demetrius would wait for the rest of the army to arrive. He was a very patient man, as, oftentimes, in battle, both armies would wait until the other’s patience had worn off. Patience was a good trait to learn if you were to command an army or a significant portion of one. Half of all battles were simply waiting for one side to attack. The patient man always got to pick the most favorable ground.

Roman Armenia, June 488

Commander Thomas, and his army, the Eastern Scholae Palatinae, had been called to a war in the west. Inwardly, Commander Thomas wondered why they were the army that was always called across the Empire to wage war in recent years. Of course, he figured that it was because most of the regular legions had disintegrated or carved out their own territories. There were very few legions that the Empire could call upon anymore, but why couldn’t they just make new ones?

Regardless, the Commander and his army obeyed the orders. They would have to march through all sorts of terrain, but that was nothing new. Disobeying the orders of the Emperor couldn’t end well for the disobedient party.

However, Commander Thomas worried about the eastern frontier. Yes, the Persians had been quiet so far after the Romans had defeated them and made them surrender most of Armenia, but that didn’t mean that they’d stay that way. He knew many of the soldiers under his command had the same fear. All of them figured that the Sassanid Persians were simply biding their time until they would attack the eastern edge of the Imperium Romanum once more.

Then again, the Persian armies had been defeated not too long ago by the Romans, and they might be taking time to recover. Also, rumour had it that the Sassanids were fighting Hunnic invaders from their east, and they had abandoned their western territories because of that. If that was the case, then, yes, the eastern border could be left undefended because the Sassanids were still recovering. Still, relying on rumour was probably not the best idea for public policy because what if the rumours were wrong....

Regardless, the Eastern Scholae Palatinae had to depart for Epirus, which was where the Imperial Roman armies were meeting. Orders, after all, were orders, and it would not do to have them disobeyed.

Outside Thessalonica, June 488

The Imperial barracks were crowded. Many soldiers were inhabiting them. Not very far from them, two men stood, talking with each other. One of them had a light complexion, and he looked vaguely Italian. He had a long beard, and his hair had grown all over the place. He, however, was also very skinny. Many of the troops inside of the tent were also skinny and had a lot of facial hair. Many troops, and this man had bags under their eyes. It was clear that he had not slept in days. The man was named Philip, and he commanded the Legio IV Italica, which were the troops that looked similar to him.

The Legio IV Italica had been searching for homes, and, especially, a war to fight. Their skills were in the art of warfare, and they needed money and homes. They had been homeless and barely paid since Odoacer conquered the Western Roman Empire a few years back. Many of their men had died in their search. They had heard rumours from some Roman citizens that the true Emperor of Rome was planning a war against Odoacer’s Italy. They had headed to Constantinople, where they had met with the Emperor and asked to aid in the war in exchange for money and food. Emperor Longinus had agreed and told them to meet with one of the last remaining Roman legions, in these barracks outside the Thessalian city of Thessalonica.

The man he was talking with had a vaguely Armenian complexion. In contrast to Philip’s wild hair and general unkemptness, which were the products of multiple years of marching, searching for a war to fight, this man had a well-trimmed beard and short hair. He looked wide awake. He was named Leo, and he commanded the last legion that still served the Emperor, and only the Emperor, faithfully, the Legio I Armeniaca. Before the recapture of much of Armenia, this was a barely staffed legion. After that war, many local Armenians who were loyal to the idea of the glorious Roman Empire had joined. In addition, small parts of the Eastern Scholae Palatinae had been split off to be added to this legion.

“So,” Leo began. “Why did you not just serve Odoacer when he took the small remnants of the Western Empire? I’m just curious.”

“Odoacer was a barbarian who has no right to the lands of Italia and Dalmatia,” Philip answered. “In addition, we weren’t about to serve a man who had killed so many of our kin.”

“Where are we supposed to meet?,” Philip asked. “His Imperial Majesty did not give us this information. He said you knew where to go.”

“Yes,” Leo responded. “We are meeting in Epirus.”

“Why Epirus?,” Philip wondered. “It doesn’t seem especially accessible from anywhere in the Empire.”

“A small army is already in Epirus,” Leo answered. “We are to meet up with this army, and then the combined army will march to Dalmatia.”

“So, the meeting spot is Epirus because it is the place closest to Dalmatia that actually has any forces that we will be using?,” Philip clarified.

“That was the explanation we were given anyway,” Leo responded.

“When do we leave?,” Philip asked. “That’s kind of vital information that we absolutely need to know.”

“His Imperial Majesty said that we could wait a few days until we leave,” Leo clarified.

“Why the delay?,” Philip wanted to know.

“I suspect he wants our two legions to get to know each other better,” Leo answered. “He probably thinks that if we know each other somewhat well, we will be more inclined to protect each other. He believes that this will save many lives, as we will watch each other’s backs. Also, we are closer to Epirus than His Majesty and especially the Eastern Scholae Palatinae.”

“Ah,” Philip responded. “That makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.”

Both legionary commanders looked at their legions as they formed new bonds. “Hmm”, they thought. “This arrangement could actually work.”



Extra long chapter today. I like this length chapters so I'll probably do more of them.
 
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Part 1:The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3:Be All My Sins Remember'd, The Battle of Ad Ladios, Part 1

HistoryDude

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Ad Ladios (Banja Luka), December 488 AD

It was a stormy night, but the trees blocked out much of the rain. The moon shone brightly, and the various combatants could see each other by the moonlight. Emperor Longinus reflected upon strategies his army could use in this densely forested area in his tent. He drew up a plan for the battle, but he really wanted a second opinion. He called his friend, Count Konstantinos of Tortosa, into his tent.

“My Emperor, why have you called me here?,” the Count of Tortosa politely asked.

“I want your opinion on these battle plans,” Emperor Longinus replied. He handed Count Konstantinos the plans. They both sat in silence for a long while, as Count Konstantinos read the plans, and Emperor Longinus waited for him to finish reading them and mull them over.

Finally, Count Konstantinos was done reading the plans. “My liege,” he began. “These plans are mostly sound strategically, but there are a few problems with them. They assume our enemies, the barbarians who seized Italy, will act as we want them to. They also assume that no unforeseen circumstances come up, although there’s no way to account for that.”

“Good points,” Emperor Longinus noted. “How about we allow our commanders to deviate from the plan if unforeseen circumstances come up, but still use it as a base?”

“Good idea,” Count Konstantinos said.

The Count of Tortosa exited the Imperial tent. The armies rested, but when morning came, the storms had not let up. The clouds blocked out the sun, although some sunlight managed to come through.

The Emperor began ordering his forces into position. “Demetrius and Commander Thomas will command the right flank, which will be composed of the Eastern Scholae Palatinae and some Greek troops, my friend, Count Konstantinos of Tortosa, and I will command the center, which will be composed of our personal armies and the rest of the Greek troops, and the two legions will be our left flank,” he ordered. “Any questions?”

“No, Your Majesty,” the troops replied.

“Good,” the Emperor said. “Now, let’s win this battle. For the light of Roman civilization!”

“For the light of Roman civilization!” the troops cried.

Demetrius had decided to lead from the front of his troops. He saw the soldiers the barbarian Odoacer was employing had adopted a phalanx formation. Neither side made any move to attack. Hours passed, but Demetrius, as always, was patient, for his life was on the line if he wasn’t, as well as the lives of countless others. Finally, the patience of one of Odoacer’s soldiers wore thin, and he broke formation and attacked. Demetrius charged alongside the right flank.

Demetrius ordered the archers of the right flank of the Roman army to hide behind the numerous trees the battlefield provided. From there, he knew they could shoot any of the advancing enemy soldiers. Meanwhile he led the rest of the right flank in a charge upon the barbarian right flank.

Leo and Philip had decided to keep their troops in place. They stood with their backs to the river Vrbas. This meant that they could not be attacked from behind, and they knew it.

The Emperor, meanwhile, had ordered the center to simply hold. They could attack if they saw an opening, or if they so wished, but their structural integrity must remain.

Odoacer’s army had broken their phalanx formation. However, although they had suffered some casualties, they had managed to form a line.

Demetrius began to plan. A line formation would be hard to break, yes, but hardly impossible. In the meantime, he was going to need to organize their right flank, which he commanded into a new formation. A line formation fighting against a line formation was too close odds..

Philip and Leo ordered their men in the front to lock shields so that the shields covered their eyes. Their men in the back put their shields above their heads, which formed a testudo formation.

The Emperor, meanwhile, allowed the commanders of the flanks to have total control over their flanks. In effect, this meant that the Romans now had three small armies, rather than one large one.

Odoacer had formed his men into only a single army. He then had them form a shield wall. All Roman armies and this army waited for someone to make the first move. They did not have to wait long...
 
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Part 1:The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3:Be All My Sins Remember'd, The Battle of Ad Ladios, Part 2

HistoryDude

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Ad Ladios (Banja Luka), December 488 AD

Demetrius considered his options. It would be unstrategic to organize his men into a line formation, as a line formation fighting against a line formation essentially left the battle up to chance. Hmm, what formation should he organize his troops into? Decisions, decisions… He decided that his troops should be organized into a phalanx.

A soldier who served Odoacer charged at the army led by the Emperor. The troops were defeating Odoacer’s soldiers, but Demetrius figured that they could probably still recover from their losses. He also figured, however, that the army could be comprehensively defeated. He ordered his phalanx to advance on Odoacer’s troops. Soon, he was lost in the din of battle…

Demetrius hacked and killed many of Odoacer’s soldiers. He intended to destroy their army completely, so that they could never recover from this defeat. He slaughtered many, and seeing this, many of Odoacer’s soldiers decided to break formation and retreat. As Demetrius slaughtered men, flames danced in his eyes. Many of them managed to escape from the heavily forested area, but many were also shot down from the archers that were hiding behind the trees.

Dawn arrived as the army of Odoacer was getting slaughtered, but the trees blocked out most of the sunlight. Demetrius continued to indiscriminately slaughter many of Odoacer’s soldiers, and Odoacer’s army collapsed. Many fled to where the Imperial Legions were, and they were taken prisoner. Others managed to successfully retreat. Almost everybody else was killed. It was a massacre.

The Imperial Roman troops reformed into one army, and they decided to march, attempting to defeat what paltry remnants Odoacer could scrounge up. As Demetrius surveyed the numerous dead bodies across the forest, he could not help but be reminded of the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains. Then, he slipped into unconsciousness, and he remembered that black day in 451 AD....

Chalons, 451 AD

Plains stretched out in every direction. The great coalition of various Germanic states and Romans stood facing the great Hunnic army. Battle was soon joined, and both armies fought.

Demetrius, and his brother, Alexios, fought against the Huns. They served with many fellow Romans, and they were defending their home against barbarian invaders. Thousands of men were dying, but if the blood of Romans and Germanics could buy freedom from the great Hunnic threat, then it would be shed. The siblings attacked the Hunnic army, hoping to destroy the threat to their home…

Soon, they had cut through many Huns, and they saw a great man. This man was proud, and he had a thin and short beard. He loved war. The brothers knew that this was the mighty Attila the Hun. They figured that if they could kill him, perhaps the battle would end. Therefore, they attacked.

It was a hard fight, but Attila eventually defeated them. He attacked, and they had fought well. Demetrius managed to extricate himself from the duel, but Alexios was not so lucky. Attila killed him brutally, but Demetrius did not learn this until later.

Demetrius continued to attack the Hunnic and Germanic forces. He killed many. He fought on for the survival of his empire, for he knew that the great Roman Empire must not fall. Blood stained the field of battle when night came. Demetrius didn’t want to stop fighting, but everybody else did, and so the fighting stopped.

During this lull in the fighting, Demetrius went over to where he and his brother had fought Attila, and he found Alexios’s dead body. Alexios had given up his life for Rome, he realized. Attila had killed him. He grabbed the dead body of his brother, and he brought it back to the allied camp, so that his brother could get a proper burial.

Inwardly, however, he swore vengeance. Attila had killed his brother. He would take an eye for an eye, a life for a life. He would kill Attila, and he would bring the Hunnic Empire to its knees. He would get his revenge. As he returned to the camp, he smiled. It was a bloodthirsty smile. It promised unending eons of pain for his enemies, which were the Huns at the moment.

“You took my brother, Scourge of God,” he thought mockingly. “In return, I shall take your life, your legacy, and your empire. I shall destroy you…”

As he came out of his memories, in the aftermath of the battle he had just fought, he mused on how successful his revenge had been. His victory had been almost total, and it had been satisfying… at first, but revenge had not granted him everlasting satisfaction, and so he had followed the call of war.
 
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