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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, the Battle of Ani, Part 1

HistoryDude

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Meanwhile, in Armenia…

Anastasios sighed. He wished to fight in battles, and, at the moment, his private army and the Legio IV Scythia were simply waiting. They were trying to ensure that no Sassanid army reached Anatolia, but most of the Sassanid armies had already been destroyed.

Now, Anastasios knew that battles weren’t won by rage alone. He knew that he had to have a strategy. His father had taught him that much. He also knew that from experience, but now was not the time to be reminiscing about past engagements. The leader of the Legio IV Scythia, Priscus, seemed like a reasonable man to Anastasios, but they hadn’t known each other for a long time, so Anastasios wasn’t going to assume anything.

Anastasios decided to send private scouts throughout all of Armenia. He doubted that they would find anything of note - the two Isaurian legions and the Legio I Armeniaca seemed to be doing extraordinarily well - but it couldn’t hurt to be certain. Knowledge was power, after all.

To Anastasios’s utter shock, his scouts did discover an army. Ten thousand men were camped in northern Armenia. Given that the three legions that were currently fighting the Sassanids seemed to be in southern Armenia, this army would probably be able to take most of northern Armenia unopposed - and, from there, to take Cherson through the Caucasus. From Cherson, they could potentially launch attacks on Pontus, Bithynia, or even Constantinople itself.

Anastasios knew that this army couldn’t be allowed to move unopposed. He decided that he would inform Priscus about it - and the threat it posed - in the morning. He might even have some ideas on what to do about it.

Morning arrived, and Anastasios informed Priscus about the army.

“Well, that’s a problem,” Priscus replied, “Why can’t we just attack them? That should keep them distracted at least.”

Anastasios sighed. “We don’t need them distracted,” he snapped. “We need them defeated. They outnumber our combined forces 5 to 3. If we attack them head on, it’s likely that we’ll get slaughtered.”

“Wait,” Priscus said. “Can’t we let the three other legions deal with it? They’ve been doing fine with literally every other Sassanid army in Armenia so far, so what makes this one different?”

“I wrote a letter to Galerius about it,” Anastasios said. “They know that it exists, but apparently large armies are present at Saokoros and Hasakah, and they’re more of a threat than this one.”

Priscus started pacing. “So, basically, we have an army that outnumbers us 5 to 3, and we can expect no aid in dealing with it in the near future,” he said. “Great. That’s absolutely fantastic.”

“Indeed,” Anastasios said. “However, we can’t just do nothing. If we do, this army could join the other Sassanid army at Hasakah. Apparently, the army at Saokoros was part of a delaying action - and it worked very well. If those two Sassanid armies merge, apparently all of our currently deployed military will be threatened. We can expect no aid from the other three legions, but there is hope…”
“What’s the silver lining?” Priscus asked, still pacing. “What are you planning? That situation sounds almost completely hopeless.”

“It is as you said before,” Anastasios said. “We probably can’t defeat this Sassanid army, but we can delay it. As long as we choose a battle where the terrain favors us, then our casualties will be minimized, and the time they need to meet up with their fellow Sassanids maximized…”

“Okay,” Priscus said, sitting down. “Where are we fighting, then?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” Anastasios responded, smiling. “Here’s the plan...”
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, the Battle of Ani, Part 2

HistoryDude

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Anastasios sighed. He wasn’t certain that his plan would work perfectly, but it was the best he had. Thankfully, Anastasios knew Armenia’s terrain really well - he’d fought there before. He winced. That hadn’t been the best experience, but it was over, thankfully. He knew where the terrain would most favor his army. All he needed to do was lure the Sassanid army there.

That was easier said than done, of course, but Anastasios knew that the Sassanids wanted to destroy as many Eastern Roman armies as they could. They weren’t suicidal, of course, so they wouldn’t outright attack an army that outnumbered them as much as the three legions did. However, if they outnumbered the Eastern Romans, they’d attack in an instant. That was easy to exploit.

Anastasios, his army, and the Scythia marched as close to the Sassanid army as they could without being caught in an outright battle. Then, they moved away from it. The Sassanids gave chase. Finally, Anastasios arrived in the city of Ani. The Sassanids followed, and the trap was sprung.

Ani was protected by a ravine that was formed by a river to its east and a valley to its west. Anastasios had fought here before, so he knew it would be incredibly difficult to take. It wouldn’t be impossible to take - he’d been present when it had fallen before. However, that meant that he knew its weak spots.

As night fell, Anastasios led his army and the Scythia across the ravine. When dawn arrived, he ordered his archers to fire at the enemy camp across the ravine. The rest of the army was ordered to go into the city. This ensured that the archers were the only ones who could be killed by enemy forces. By contrast, the entire Sassanid army was exposed to the Eastern Roman archer fire.

For a few days, both sides were content with this state of affairs. Unfortunately, the Sassanid commander quickly realized that the Eastern Roman army wasn’t getting significantly harmed by his archers. Anastasios knew this from his expression, but he also knew that he didn’t have another idea, so, for now, the plan was safe.

It took a week for that to change. The Sassanid commander knew that they only needed to destroy the Eastern Roman army. That was their goal - that was why they had started this battle in the first place. They hadn’t started it to capture the city of Ani - which was a nearly impregnable fortress. It would be good if they managed to pull it off, but that was unlikely.

Anastasios noticed the lack of Sassanid soldiers. He didn’t believe that they had retreated. That was always a possibility, but the Sassanids rarely retreated before a battle was lost, or, at least, they hadn’t during that war. On that front, at least, he could commend them. But, if they hadn’t retreated, where were they?

He decided to check the areas around the city. There were no forces around Ani’s walls, but Anastasios hadn’t expected the Sassanids to have gotten close enough to besiege the city. He decided to check the western “border” of Ani. It was there that he found around half of the Sassanid army. Well, that was a problem…
 
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Anastasios sighed. He was going to have to do something about the Sassanid army to his back. He could meet with Priscus, or he could merely inform the commander of the Scythia by letter. However, given that Anastasios really wanted a second opinion about what to do, he decided that meeting with Priscus was the best option. It would also build trust between him and Priscus - and not checking with his fellow commander could set an extremely bad precedent.

Anastasios wrote to Priscus, requesting that they meet in his tent. Priscus agreed. They decided to meet at night, in case there were any Sassanid spies in Anastasios’s army - the meeting was to be completely private, meaning nobody in either army knew about it.

Anastasios’s tent was very plain. It consisted of a bed to sleep in and a table to eat on and chat with friends around.

“I expected your tent to be more… luxurious,” Priscus commented. “Regardless of such matters, why did you ask to meet here? Also, why did it have to be at night and in total secrecy?”

“My tent is similar to the tents my men have,” Anastasios said. “It shows that I am not inherently superior to them. As to why I asked to meet here, we have a problem. In addition, I wanted to keep this information from getting to the Sassanids. One can never be too careful - and there are a few Persians in my army.”

“What’s the problem, then?” Priscus asked.

“Half of the Sassanid army is to our back,” Anastasios answered. “They can’t destroy our armies yet, thankfully, but they could retreat - potentially to Hasakah, where they could unite with their fellow Sassanids and severely damage the other three legions. For that matter, both armies could reunite and retreat to Hasakah, which would make this battle all for naught.”

“That… is somewhat problematic,” Priscus admitted. “What’s your plan, then? I have a few ideas that we could use, as well. Also, why can’t we simply let the three legions be destroyed?”

“We’d be the next target after the three legions,” Anastasios pointed out. “We could hold in this city for a long time - it is an almost impregnable fortress - but we can’t hold out forever. Eventually, the Sassanids will simply accept the loss of some of their soldiers to attrition and attack us anyway - and we’d be outnumbered, then.”

“So, basically, we have to somehow delay almost 10,000 men from retreating from this city,” Priscus began. “While also ensuring that our armies aren’t destroyed. Keep in mind that we’re still outnumbered almost 5 to 3, and the Sassanids probably know that the terrain favors us now.”

“In a depressing nutshell, yes,” Anastasios admitted. “Basically, we need to keep the Sassanids engaged in a battle that they have no reason to continue fighting. We need to make the Sassanids act irrationally. Oh. That might actually work…”

“What might work?” Priscus asked. “The Sassanids will only continue fighting if they think that the odds favor them…”

“So we make them think that,” Anastasios responded, smiling. “Also, revenge is a great motivator…”

Priscus blinked. “You’ve fought the Sassanids before, I take it.”

“Yes,” Anastasios replied. “Many will want revenge on me for that…”
 
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Anastasios knew that his plan was extraordinarily risky, but, in his experience, any successful plan had to have some risk. Still, this plan would put him in direct personal danger. Of course, the Sassanids would retreat if he didn’t risk himself, so it was somewhat worth it. The Sassanid army here at Ani could not, under any circumstances, be allowed to retreat from Ani. If they did, they would likely join their comrades at Hasakah - and that could cost the Eastern Roman Empire the war.

He’d fought at Ani before - his involvement might have cost the Sassanid Empire control over most of Armenia, and he knew that some Persians were still annoyed - and angry - about that. His plan hinged on these men letting their anger get the better of them.

He took most of his army, and he moved them to Ani’s western edge. He left most of his archers with Priscus and the Scythia. The army at Ani’s eastern edge still needed to be dealt with. Of course, some archers were going to be needed for his plan to work but not many.

He and his soldiers slept through most of the day. They woke when night fell. Anastasios decided that a speech would be a good motivator. The more motivated his troops were, the more effective this plan would be.

“My soldiers,” he began. “We must delay the Sassanids. However, that does not mean that we are condemned to die here. The Sassanids heavily outnumber us, yes, but we have dealt with bad odds before. The bulk of their army is attempting to retreat to ground more favorable to them. We can’t let them. If they unite with their comrades at Hasakah, then the Eastern Roman Empire might lose the war. We cannot allow that. Is that understood?”

“Yes,” his soldiers roared back.

“Good,” Anastasios said, smiling. “Now, with night as our cover, we shall cross the valley separating us from the Sassanids. Then, we shall attack them when they awake. We aren’t dishonorable - we will let them fight back. Killing them in their sleep would be cowardly.”

The army quickly obeyed. Anastasios led his troops to the Sassanid camp. They arrived before the sun rose in the sky. Then, they waited. The Sassanids awoke slightly after dawn. Anastasios attacked.

The Sassanids were initially taken by surprise, but they had regrouped by noon. Many loathed Anastasios, and they attacked him. Anastasios had no time to do anything but fight. He fought and fought. If he put down his sword, he would die.

All Anastasios could do was stay alive. He moved to kill all of the Sassanids that attacked him. He fought on longer than he had thought possible. Dusk fell, and Anastasios was still hard-pressed on all sides. He dealt with the few remaining Persian soldiers, and, then, he collapsed.

He awoke a few days later. He was covered in wounds, but he was otherwise fine. The battle was over, and he had survived, if only just.

He walked around Ani and its surrounding area. A thousand Roman troops lay on the ground. He looked around, and he saw many other bodies. “Yes,” he realized, shocked. “We lost a thousand troops, but the Sassanids lost eight thousand troops. We most definitely won this battle.”

He went to sleep that night. Unfortunately, sleep meant dreams. Although, in this case, memories might be the more accurate term…
 
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First of all, thanks for the ratings, @Midnite Duke. Nice to know people are still reading this. Without further ado, here's the update.



In his dream, Anastasios led a small subunit of his father’s army. The dream was a memory of when Demetrius was still alive, so this made sense. Ani was a veritable fortress even back then, so the Sassanid-aligned rulers of Armenia had taken it as a place to make a stand. They had previously fought with the Sassanid army at Erebuni, but that had been a catastrophic defeat for the Sassanids, and the Armenian clans knew that the Sassanid remnants were being chased by the Eastern Roman army.

Emperor Zeno - actually, Anastasios suspected that it had been one of his advisors, given Zeno’s well-known slothfulness - had hired Demetrius’s army to pacify Armenia. The rulers of Armenia had gotten wind of this, and that was why Ani was the spot they were defending. No one wanted to face Demetrius - especially given his reputation as the Love(r) of Death.

Demetrius knew that his heir needed slightly more training - the campaigns in the north had made that somewhat clear, although Anastasios had gotten better during those. As such, he had entrusted command of half of his army to Anastasios.

Demetrius had told him that taking Ani through force alone would be next to impossible. Their plan would rely partially on trickery. Ani was then ruled by the Kamsarakan dynasty - a dynasty that traced their lineage back to when the Arsacids ruled Persia. However, Armenia was divided between numerous dynasties under loose Sassanid sovereignty. That could be exploited easily, according to his father.

The plan boiled down to exploiting these divisions. The main division was between the houses of Kamsarakan and the marzbans of Armenia - who were technically the house of Kamsarakan’s lords. There were other divisions, though, and Demetrius wanted to exploit these.

The plan was to ask, and, if necessary, bribe a few Christian Armenian nobles to abandon Ani and refuse to fight the Eastern Romans at all. In addition, Demetrius’s main army would cross the road through the Tzaghkotzadzor Valley. This would be done in broad daylight, but the portion of the army Anastasios commanded would cross and reinforce them as night fell.

Anastasios asked why, and Demetrius responded that this would ensure that they had the element of surprise. Anastasios pointed out that it would also mean that their army would be tired, which would mean they wouldn’t fight well, which would likely lead to their defeat.

Demetrius considered this, and he’d complimented how much Anastasios had learned from the other campaigns. Anastasios had grimaced at the reminder - the other campaigns didn’t have very good memories associated with them.

Demetrius pointed out that they couldn’t simply surround the city - the ravine on the eastern side had no roads or paths that they could use to cross it. However, certain Christian Armenian princes could perhaps be convinced to betray the Sassanid Empire.
That plan worked surprisingly well. Many Armenian princes had betrayed the united cause. This distracted the Sassanid Armenian army from noticing the army approaching Ani from the west. Anastasios was given command over the right flank of this army, and the army managed to destroy the Armenian army without much trouble.

Ani opened its gates rather than attempt to withstand a siege, and so Demetrius was merciful to it. Most of the Christian Armenian princes had perished during the battle, so Armenia was left without much government. Anastasios saw all of this as an uninterested observer might - but he was proud of his tactics during that battle, even within his subconscious.

Anastasios awoke. He figured that he must’ve remembered that battle because it had also occurred at Ani. Perhaps his pride had something to do with it, also. Regardless, he needed to move - the war wasn’t done yet.
 
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Thanks for the mention. I almost quit on the first page, but I have come to love this.

You’re welcome. Yeah, I did have a slow start... hope you enjoy future updates and chapters.
 
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Meanwhile, with the three legions…

Galerius cursed. He had just received news of where the largest remaining Sassanid army was. The problem was that he’d already fought a battle there. That meant that he probably couldn’t make a specialized plan - the Sassanids might guess it from what had occurred during the first battle of Hykaberd. However, he also didn’t like the idea of going in without a plan.

He sighed. He’d discuss this with his fellow commanders. If none of them had an idea of what to do, well, then they would have to rely on numbers alone. Of course, that was a last resort only.

The tent was already occupied by both Clementius and Albinus when he arrived there. Clementius looked worried, which wasn’t a good sign. Galerius couldn’t tell how Albinus felt.

“So,” Galerius began. “The nearest Sassanid army is in Haykaberd. Again. What is our plan for dealing with them? Reusing plans probably isn’t a good idea, as the Persians might remember the strategy we used last time. Which means we can’t reuse it.”

“All of that is true,” Clementius said. “I don’t know what a good plan would be. Maybe we could simply engage on Haykaberd’s plains and hope our numbers carry the day? I really don’t have another idea.” He got up and started pacing. “I hate relying on numerical superiority, though, so…”

“You have no clue what to do,” Albinus finished. Galerius sat up, startled. Albinus didn’t usually speak much. Although he might have a plan… well, Galerius figured he could just ask.

“I don’t suppose you have a plan,” Galerius asked, dejected. “So far, ‘rely on numerical superiority’ seems like the best idea we have. Which is bad because that is a terrible idea.”

Albinus sighed. “I do have a plan other than relying on numerical superiority. Not sure if it’s a good plan…”

“Anything is better than our working plan,” Clementius said. “Tell us your idea.”
“Well,” Albinus began. “We can’t trick them into running into the valley to their deaths, as we did the first time. Honestly, I’m surprised that it worked once. A direct attack is never the best plan, though.”

“You’ve said what we shouldn’t do,” Clementius pointed out. “But what should we do?”

Albinus smiled. Galerius didn’t know what to make of that smile. He had absolutely no clue what Albinus was thinking. “We do something they would never expect.” Galerius blinked. What was that supposed to mean?

Clementius voiced Galerius’s thoughts. “What’s that mean?” he asked. “Are you suggesting we do, in fact, do a frontal assault or reuse our old plan? Just because they aren’t expecting it doesn’t make it a better plan.”

Galerius rolled his eyes. “No,” he said. “They’re expecting us to do what we did before. Instead, we should have our archers shoot the opposing army from within the city. The fortifications should protect them - but they’ll allow them to attack the Sassanids.”

“Hmm,” Galerius mused. “That could work. But won’t the Sassanids try to cross the walls anyway? It’s not like the walls are impregnable. They can be destroyed - or bypassed.”

“They probably will,” Albinus admitted. “I do have a plan for that, though.”

“What is it?” Galerius wondered.

Albinus’s smile sent chills through Galerius’s spine.
 
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HistoryDude

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Galerius knew that Albinus’s plan was risky, but it was still better than the other plans that they’d come up with. That didn’t make Galerius any less worried about the upcoming battle. He really didn’t like risk - the last time his legion had taken a risk, it had almost completely destroyed itself. Granted, this plan wasn’t betrayal, but still.

Unfortunately, the lack of a better plan meant that Galerius was going to have to deal with the risk - he didn’t have much of another choice. Besides, if things went wrong, he could always rely on sheer numbers. That would result in massive casualties, yes, but it would still end in victory - any hope of outright Sassanid victory had been destroyed at Hasakah - and Ani, although Galerius still didn’t know what had happened there. He’d be fine.

Galerius decided that the best course of action would be to simply not think about the upcoming battle. That seemed to calm his mind.

Finally, the three legions arrived at Hasakah. They saw the Sassanid army besieging the city, and Galerius realized something. They had no obvious way to enter the city. He asked Albinus how they were going to enter the city.

Albinus simply replied that the Sassanids were simply attempting a frontal assault on the city. All they had to do was enter the city from the side that wasn’t under siege. Galerius frowned. There were many things that could go wrong with that approach. Thankfully, few of them had a chance of succeeding.

They managed to get into the city without problems. The archers were positioned behind the city’s walls, as Albinus had planned. The Sassanids were harried with arrows, and, for a while, they didn’t attempt to fight back.

Unfortunately, the Sassanid commander was somewhat intelligent, apparently. The Sassanids doubled their efforts to enter Hasakah. Idly, Galerius wondered who was commanding them.

Albinus smiled, and Galerius realized, startled, that he’d wanted the Sassanids to attempt to take the walls - his plan subtly encouraged that, but Galerius hadn’t realized that it had been designed. Galerius looked to Clementius - and his frown told Galerius that they’d been thinking similar thoughts. That might prove problematic.

However, for now, at least, they had a common enemy, if not similar tactics. They couldn’t afford to lose the support of the Second Isaurian Legion - despite what they thought about its commander’s tactics. Additionally, said tactics might prove effective. Galerius reassured himself that he’d be fine, but he still didn’t quite believe it.

Regardless of Galerius’s feelings on the matter, the Sassanids were attempting to take Hasakah, and Albinus had baited them into trying to do so quicker. Galerius would just have to deal with that.

As night fell, Galerius looked over to the Second Isaurian Legion’s campsite. Their fires were lit, which meant that they were obeying their commander’s plan. Galerius supposed that that was good. It meant that they had a high chance of winning the battle, anyway, at least if everything went according to plan.

Of course, Galerius had his own doubts about the plan. After all, surrounding your enemy - or attempting to - only worked if they didn’t know your plan, and Galerius wasn’t certain that the Sassanids didn’t have people that could deduce this plan.
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, the Second Battle of Haykaberd, Part 3

HistoryDude

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At first, it seemed as though Galerius was wrong. The Sassanids continued to get injured or even killed in mass numbers from the Eastern Roman arrows that were fired from within Haykaberd. None of them showed any sign of knowing about the legion that was sneaking up on them from behind.

Now, that would normally be reassuring, but Galerius knew that someone should have noticed how few arrows were actually being fired. There were numerous signs that the Eastern Romans were either a) planning a sneak attack or b) running out of arrows. The Sassanids should’ve noticed that. Thankfully, they didn’t seem to be doing so.

Unfortunately, Galerius’s paranoia proved prophetic. Half the Sassanid army moved to attack the Second Isaurian Legion. That meant that the Sassanids almost certainly had spies within the Eastern Roman army. Of course, Galerius had long suspected that this was the case, but this was his first piece of concrete proof to back up his theory.

However, Galerius was in the middle of a battle - or, perhaps more accurately, a siege. He should probably focus on that before he dealt with possible spies.

He looked at the area outside of Haykaberd. The Sassanid army that was besieging the city was still taking casualties from the two legions that had remained in the city. Unfortunately, the actual direct fighting seemed to be a stalemate at the moment. That meant that the Eastern Romans had a tactical advantage - barely.

Galerius sighed. In all honesty, he would’ve preferred to sleep, but Albinus had been smart enough to have a backup plan - actually, Galerius supposed it was possible that he might’ve had multiple backup plans, but, if he did, he hadn’t shared them with either Clementius or Galerius. Honestly, some things were best done by improvisation. Accounting for all variables would simply take far to long.

Regardless, if the plan failed to take the Sassanids by surprise, the Legio I Armeniaca was to be the Second Isaurian Legion’s reinforcements, but only if the Second Isaurian Legion was clearly losing. So far, the battle outside the walls seemed like it was a stalemate, but a lot of things could change during a single night. As such, he pretty much had to stay up - he’d need to be able to save the Second Isaurian Legion if they… happened to be in need of rescue.

Despite all of that, he wasn’t an overly cruel commander. He knew that the status quo outside of Haykaberd’s walls was unlikely to change during a single night, if only because, well, all armies got tired eventually. That meant that he could allow his troops to sleep. He told them that they should sleep light, just in case.

As it turned out, these precautions were unnecessary. It seemed as if neither side wanted to fight during the night. Galerius saw that both forces had retired to his camps. After checking to make sure that this wasn’t an attempted ruse by either side - which was unlikely, but all possibilities needed to be considered. Once he’d clarified that both sides actually had temporarily stopped their battle, he entered his tent and went to sleep. Mercifully, he had no dreams.
 
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Midnite Duke

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I am not 50% sure that this is CK2, but I am 100% sure that I am enjoying it. I am learning because I am researching the Sassanids and the battle locations. While I have faulted other AAR's for overuse of screenshots, some basic info (age, culture, martial stat) would be welcome. This could be done in ( ) to minimize the interruption of your wonderful story telling. Thank you
 

HistoryDude

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I am not 50% sure that this is CK2, but I am 100% sure that I am enjoying it. I am learning because I am researching the Sassanids and the battle locations. While I have faulted other AAR's for overuse of screenshots, some basic info (age, culture, martial stat) would be welcome. This could be done in ( ) to minimize the interruption of your wonderful story telling. Thank you

Thanks! It's played with a CK2 mod called When the World Stopped Making Sense, which moves back CK2 into Late Antiquity (476-sometime in the 500s, for start dates - the end date is still 1453), so that might be why it doesn't seem... CK2-esque?

Are you asking for screenshots about the main characters? If so, I am making some characters up (for story purposes - that is, they're not in game characters). However, I can still post some screenshots.

Also, I'll try to post a map once I get caught up to where I am in game, which might take... a while, to say the least.
 
Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, the Second Battle of Haykaberd, Part 4

HistoryDude

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As the sun climbed into the sky, Galerius awoke. The sun wasn’t very high in the sky, but he knew going back to sleep was a terrible idea. Even sleeping at all had been risky, and he’d only allowed himself to sleep because he was certain that both armies outside Haykaberd’s walls had retired for the night. They could awake and resume their fight at any time, though.

He decided to look outside the walls. Both armies were awake, but they were getting back into their formations quickly. The battle would resume any second now, and Galerius needed to be prepared. He looked up, and he was surprised at how early it still was. It was barely past dawn. That meant that both sides wanted to end this battle as soon as possible…

The battle continued as a stalemate for some time, but it was clear the Second Isaurian Legion had a slight advantage. As such, Galerius did nothing. He did not wake up his soldiers, for who knew when they would next sleep? Despite that, most of them were quickly awake.

As the sun began to dip in the sky, the Sassanid line outside of Haykaberd continued to stand firm against Albinus. However, the besieging army was failing. The Legio I Armeniaca and the First Isaurian Legion were shooting at them from afar, and the walls continued to hold. Galerius imagined that many thought that attacking the Second Isaurian Legion would allow victory quicker. By afternoon, the besieging army had broken.

Most of them went to reinforce their fellow Sassanids against the Second Isaurian Legion. The new Sassanid army was slightly larger than the army it was opposing, so Galerius saw that a stalemate had been temporarily restored. Unfortunately, the Sassanids managed to take initiative, and the Second Isaurian Legion was now composed of men fighting for their lives. Galerius decided that now would be a good time to reinforce his fellow Eastern Roman troops.

Galerius ordered the Legio I Armeniaca to follow him. They quickly managed to get out of Haykaberd. The First Isaurian Legion was left inside of Haykaberd as a last defense - in case the Eastern Romans somehow lost the battle Galerius was leading his troops into, or in case another Sassanid army arrived at the city.

As Galerius arrived, the Sassanids fell back. A stalemate ensued until nightfall, but the Sassanid line was faltering. Galerius smiled. Things were going according to plan, and, soon, the Sassanid line would break. As such, he ordered his legion to continue fighting through the night. After all, if the Sassanids didn’t break during the night, then they’d break once it was over. No man could survive without sleep forever. They’d tire eventually. All Galerius had to do was wait, and he was patient.

Some brave Sassanids attempted to attack their army head on. These men were quickly killed or captured. However, it seemed as if the man commanding the Sassanid troops was aware of his defeat. The Sassanid army quickly withdrew. Galerius let them. He was tired, and, if the Sassanids wished to retreat, he wouldn’t stop them.

However, before the Sassanids were finished retreating from outside of Haykaberd, Galerius caught a glimpse of the man commanding the Sassanid commander. It was the same man who had commanded them at Hasakah. Galerius smiled. The rest of this war could prove interesting - very interesting indeed.
 
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Midnite Duke

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Just little tidbits not even full screenshots. I once commented that, while a picture is worth a thousand words, it does not help if the picture takes the space of two thousand well written words. @HistoryDude , your words are very well written. A map though would be great. Thank you for the info on the mod and extra characters. I am sorry if I am too demanding.
 

Midnite Duke

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An example would be Galerius (38yo Greek 19mart. Legio I commander). This would only be needed for characters that we have not seen in several chapters. Thank you
 

HistoryDude

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Just little tidbits not even full screenshots. I once commented that, while a picture is worth a thousand words, it does not help if the picture takes the space of two thousand well written words. @HistoryDude , your words are very well written. A map though would be great. Thank you for the info on the mod and extra characters. I am sorry if I am too demanding.
An example would be Galerius (38yo Greek 19mart. Legio I commander). This would only be needed for characters that we have not seen in several chapters. Thank you

I’ll work on it. You’re not being too demanding. I think I can get a post-War map once I’m done with this “arc” (Sassanids vs. Byzantines).
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, Preparations

HistoryDude

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Thanks to @knppel for the Like. Again, it's nice to know that people are still reading this. I think this "arc" (the struggle against the Sassanids) should be finished by August at the latest, which means a month is the maximum time that you'll have to wait for a map.



Galerius sent out his scouts. They found very interesting information. He definitely needed to share it with his fellow commanders at their next meeting. That meeting was going to be very soon. Indeed, it was going to be the next day.

Galerius slept before then, and he dreamed. A mysterious voice spoke to him. The voice warned him that peace was the only way to triumph, and that this war couldn’t go on much longer. Then, it showed a crimson ocean. Men fought and died, but far more men starved or caught diseases. It seemed as if war would continue eternally - and endless war prevented many things. The voice then warned him that this was what would come out of extended war.

Galerius awoke in a cold sweat. He knew that war wasn’t feasible for very long, of course, but the future detailed in his dream was horrifying. And with the information that he had gained, he knew what must be done.

He went to the meeting tent as quickly as he could. Surprisingly, Albinus was already there, although Clementius was not. Both commanders waited.

Finally, Clementius arrived. “This means that we can start the meeting, I take it?” Galerius asked dryly.

“Yes,” Clementius said, rolling his eyes. “Be patient.”

“I have news that you’ll most likely want to hear,” Galerius snapped back. “It is about where the Sassanid armies are right now. There are only 2 armies left in total, but that does nothing to alleviate my concerns. The worst part is that only one of the armies is actually besieging a city.”

Albinus sucked in a breath. “Well, what city is under siege?”

“Erchmiadzin, but that isn’t much of a problem,” Galerius replied. “The real problem is what the other army is doing. They’re not doing any sieges in our territory yet, but they are staying in the area that we’ve previously taken from them. They know the terrain there.”

“I fail to see why this is a problem,” Clementius said. “If there are only 2 Sassanid armies left, isn't that a good thing? It means that we have fewer forces to face. It means that our campaign to mop up the individual Sassanid armies is working - and it’s very close to having worked entirely. Shouldn’t we be happy about that? Both of you are acting worried.”

It was Albinus who explained the problem. “The fact is that we’ve only defeated many Sassanid armies. We haven’t utterly annihilated them. The fact that there are only 2 armies means that the Sassanids are uniting their forces - and they know the terrain. They are planning a - or possibly more than one - last stand.”

“Wait, the enemy preparing a last stand is bad for us?” Clementius asked.

Galerius rolled his eyes and took over the explanation. “Yes, because they’re planning on fighting a final stand - but a final stand is still a stand, and they will fight with all the might they have left. The good news is that the army at Erchmiadzin appears to be relatively small and easy to defeat. That being said, we still need a plan for how to deal with that.”
 
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knppel

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Loving the possibly mythological setup of conspirators (You had me at "Armenia's too small"- I could highly relate this dialogue also from my own recent game :D )
And reading through this also encouraged me to write it out a little, thanks a lot for that <3.
 
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HistoryDude

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Loving the possibly mythological setup of conspirators (You had me at "Armenia's too small"- I could highly relate this dialogue also from my own recent game :D )
And reading through this also encouraged me to write it out a little, thanks a lot for that <3.

Hmm… I do need to write out how the conspiracies began. I’ve wanted to include mythology outright basically since I started, but I keep getting sidetracked by the intrigue and military plots. Not that I don’t like those plots, of course.

You’re welcome. I’m enjoying your AAR, by the way!
 
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Part 1: The War In The Shadows, Chapter 3: Be All My Sins Remember'd, Preparations, Part 2

HistoryDude

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Sorry about the lack of an update yesterday. Here's an extra-long update to make up for it.



“Okay,” Clementius said. “I understand why that might be a problem, but I believe that we are going to wait a while until dealing with their attempted last stand. We don’t even know where they’re going to make a stand at all. As such, can we please discuss what we’re going to do about Erchmiadzin?”

“We engage the Sassanid army there,” Albinus suggested. “Of course, we’re going to need a plan on dealing with what Erchmiadzin is actually like, but we can deal with that later. The Sassanids are preparing for a last stand - they won’t put much effort on defending the one army left that won’t be participating in it.”

Galerius frowned. Yes, Albinus made a good point there. However, they could still be caught unawares if they didn’t know the terrain at least somewhat. Waiting until they actually arrived in the city was most likely suicide - Galerius heavily suspected that there were Sassanid spies in the Eastern Roman army somewhere. The Sassanids weren’t stupid - they’d need some way to attempt to know some of Eastern Rome’s plans. A lot of war boiled down to intrigue - soldiers were needed to fight, of course, but information was just as valuable as human lives. Only good polities would have both.

Given that fact, the Sassanids would inevitably know about their lack of knowledge of Erchmiadzin - and they would take advantage of it to set a trap. In addition, there was one other pressing possibility. Yes, he was very concerned about that possibility. He decided to voice it.

“And what happens if the Sassanids decide it’s a good idea to make their last stand at Erchmiadzin?” he asked. “As it is, we’re basically allowing them the opportunity to choose where they want to their last stand. What makes you think that it isn’t going to occur at Erchmiadzin, especially if we decide not to check the area because we were preparing for their last stand? Wouldn’t that be ironic - and horrifying?”

Albinus blinked. Galerius could tell that he was seeing the wisdom in what he’d just been told. Hopefully, that was enough. If it was not… well, if it wasn’t, things could get extraordinarily risky for the Eastern Romans. Of course, risk wasn’t always a bad thing, but Galerius still didn’t want to take too many chances.

Clementius sighed. Galerius suspected that he wanted the meeting to be over. It was true that this meeting was taking an extraordinarily extra long time, so Galerius could see why Clementius was being more impatient than he usually was. Unfortunately, the information being discussed in the meeting was extraordinarily important, so they really couldn’t afford to cut the meeting short.

After what seemed like an eternity, Albinus finally responded to Galerius’s concerns.

“I can see why not knowing some things could be an extreme problem,” he said diplomatically. “However, we can’t be everywhere at once. Well, if we were everywhere at once, then we’d be far too overextended to actually get anything done. As such, we’re going to have to prioritize - and the upcoming Sassanid last stand is the greatest threat to the Empire as it currently stands. And, while there is no evidence that the Sassanids aren’t going to to make their stand at Erchmiadzin, there’s no evidence that they are, either.”

Galerius blinked. Albinus made good points, of course. Actually, there was no evidence that the Sassanids planned to make a last stand anywhere - the Eastern Romans had deduced that they were going to make a last stand, but not where they were going to do it. That was the problem.

Also, if Albinus was this good at strategizing, why didn’t he comment more often? The obvious answer to that question was that he was keeping secrets - but that wasn’t Galerius’s business anyway. Intrigue wasn’t Galerius’s thing.

“We don’t know where the Sassanids are going to make their stand at all,” he pointed out. “The best move is to defeat the Sassanid army at Erchmiadzin now and then attempt to deal with their other army - letting the Sassanids pick the terrain for their last stand would be a terrible idea.”

“Fine,” Albinus said, sighing. “I’m assuming that we’re going to send out our scouts to find out what the terrain around the city is? We’ve used that strategy before - to great effect.”

“Yes,” Galerius began. He never got to finish what he was going to say because Clementius interrupted with, “Wait, why aren’t we attempting to find out where the Sassanids are considering making their last stand - or, for that matter, their last stands?”

Galerius sighed. He had thought that the discussion about the Sassanid last stand was over, but apparently not. Wait, last stands? What? Why would the Sassanids attempt more than one last stand? That didn’t make much sense.

Albinus seemed to be thinking along the same lines, as he asked what Clementius meant by last stands.

“Exactly what it sounds like I mean,” Clementius replied. “Multiple stands, in which the Sassanid army does everything it can to defeat us.”

“Yeah,” Galerius began. “But why multiple? If their first one fails, wouldn’t they be inclined to surrender? Also, if there were multiple, it wouldn’t be much of a last stand. Also, I think that the Sassanids know better than to divide their army, considering it’s now their last, best hope for success.”

Albinus agreed, and Clementius decided to drop the issue. However, Clementius apparently was still impatient - he asked if they could end the meeting where it currently was.

“Why, though?” Galerius asked.

“I’m tired,” Clementius replied. “And I’m pretty sure that we've been having the discussion that just ended for the better part of a day. We can discuss our plans for Erchmiadzin tomorrow - the city won’t fall in a day.”

Galerius decided to exit the tent to check the time. To his extreme surprise, the sun had already set. He could see the stars, as well. That meant that they really had been discussing plans for the better part of a day.

Galerius re-entered the tent. He then admitted that Clementius was right, and they should probably sleep. Especially since they would soon be facing a battle. During some battles, the soldiers could go for days before getting any sleep.

Galerius went to sleep in his own tent as soon as possible. He had a dreamless sleep, which he took as a good omen.