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    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Introduction
  • HistoryDude

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    Introduction to A Narrative History of Byzantium:
    Almost the entire galaxy, and even beyond, has been affected by the great Byzantine Empire. This book will cover the history of Byzantium in narrative from its relatively humble beginnings on Earth to its dominion over the entirety of the Milky Way galaxy, and even its forays beyond. The information has been compiled from varying sources across the Triple Galaxies.

    When reading this, keep in mind the two Prime Laws of Sentientkind:
    • Contradiction is the Law of Mankind
    • Esse est percipi


    So, I am starting a new AAR. I've already covered most info above, and as you can probably tell, this will be a megacampaign. It will start with the When the World Stopped Making Sense mod for CK2...

    Edit: I do appreciate comments and advice on my writing, by the way.
     
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    Part 1: The War in the Shadows
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    The year is 477 AD, and everything seems fine in the state of Byzantium. It stands as a bastion of stability in a rapidly collapsing world. Yet, in the shadows, things... ancient things lurk, waiting to pounce.

    The Throne is manipulated at every corner. Across Eurasia, men scheme and plot. The shadows are filled with many factions, and all wish for their goals to be fulfilled. With all this scheming, there is one question above all:

    Who can you trust?

    Quote: “Nothing is above the daring of mortals. We storm heaven itself in our folly [or perhaps in our wisdom...]”. - Horace

    First update should be out sometime this week...
     
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    Part 1: The War in the Shadows:The Land Between the Rivers, Part 1: The Persian Conspiracy
  • HistoryDude

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    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was when Civilization rose and fell. It was when an age of oppression and freedom. In short, it was the age of Paradox and contradiction.

    In these days, there was an indescript house. Inside this house, there was a room, a dark room. Within this room, an ancient group plots in the shadows.

    They wish to destroy Persia once and for all. They are Greeks, and they manipulate whoever happens to rule Greece to want Persia. At the moment, that happens to be Byzantium, and Byzantium will destroy the Persians as Rome could not. However, their policy could not be too obvious. Furthermore, they had to know where and when to start…

    “We should begin now,” a member suggested.

    “No,” another member replied. “We should wait until they are embroiled in civil war or being invaded on all sides”.

    “They are currently being invaded,” the first member argued back. “The time to strike is now”.

    “Very well,” the second member responded. “But where?”.

    “We should begin with Armenia,” a third member suggested.

    “No,” the second member said. “We should attack all of Persia at once, to bring them down once and for all”.

    “We are supposed to be inconspicuous,” the original member pointed out. “Attacking all of Persia is not inconspicuous. We should begin by attacking their client Arabian Kingdoms”.

    “No,” a fourth member said. “That will achieve nothing. We should attack Armenia, but also all of Mesopotamia proper”.

    “Manipulating the Empire to attack all of Mesopotamia will be suspicious,” the current leader of the group pointed out. “Therefore, we should get the Emperor to attack most of Armenia and some of Mesopotamia”.

    “Very well,” the other members reluctantly agreed.

    “However,” the second member said. “We should go for almost all of Persia under an ambitious Emperor”.

    “Yes,” the leader replied. He turned away and murmured “alea iacta est”. The die is cast. “Or rather the die was cast long ago…”.

    They whispered in Emperor Zeno’s ears. “Attack Persia,” they said. “You will gain glory for it”. The Emperor listened, and in 477 AD, he declared war on the Sassanid Empire. No one realized that Rome and Persia had been fighting for centuries. No one suspected that there was a group that guided the Empire’s decisions....

    And no one suspected that there could by multiple groups guiding the Empire. There were, though. These groups could not agree on much. In the shadows, they plotted and schemed. Each group had its own goals, and all held grudges. Alliances between them were for convenience’s sake alone. In the shadows, the only person you could trust was yourself.




    Sorry for the late update. The members aren’t given names in this chapter because their names aren’t important, yet....
     
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    March 477

    A man sat on a throne. It was in an ostentatious room, worthy of the Emperors of Rome. This was the Emperor of the East, Zeno.

    A few advisors approached him. They told him to attack Persia, for he would gain great glory if he did so. He agreed, thinking about the glory history would grant to him if he succeeded at defeating Persia. He was not overly ambitious, however, so he did not want to claim all of Persia. He figured that ruling all of Persia would be too much work. However, Armenia and some of western Mesopotamia were previously ruled by Rome, so he would only be recovering rightful Roman lands… As such, he declared war on Persia and readied his armies.

    “Your Majesty,” one of his servants said. “Your Illyrian vassals desire a marriage between one of their line and Princess Helena”.

    “Agree to this,” the Emperor responded. “It will make them more loyal to us”.

    Another of his advisors told the Emperor, “Your Highness, not all of the Empire follows the true way of Christ. You should root out the heretics”.

    “Hmm,” the Emperor mused. “If our subjects have the same beliefs as us, they will be more loyal”.

    “Bishop Ilyrios, go to Tyana and try to convince them of the true religion. Make them renounce their heresy,” Emperor Zeno ordered.

    January 478

    “My lord,” a messenger said. “News from the front!”.

    “What is it?” the Emperor asked.

    “Our forces have won a great victory against the Sassanids at Erebuni,” the messenger said. “We have suffered minimal casualties, but many Persians lay dead around the city”.

    “Have the gates of the city been opened,” the Emperor asked.

    “The Persian garrison defending the city are either dead or have surrendered to our forces,” the messenger responded.

    “Good. Tell the generals to press their advantage until Persia surrenders outright and is at our mercy,” Emperor Zeno ordered.

    July 478

    “Your Majesty,” a messenger from the Mesopotamian front said. “We have achieved another victory”.

    “Where? And how defeated are the Sassanids” the Emperor asked.

    “The victory was at Ghapan,” the messenger replied. “And the Sassanids are retreating across the Euphrates”.

    “If we asked for Armenia and portions of western Mesopotamia, would they agree” the Emperor asked.

    “It is extremely likely, Your Majesty,” the messenger replied.

    “Tell the generals to not advance further into Persia,” the Emperor ordered.

    The Emperor began to write out terms for the Sassanids. They would have to give up all of their Armenian possessions and small portions of Mesopotamia, but they would get to keep most of Mesopotamia. The Sassanids would get to focus on the Hephtalites invading their eastern border, and the Romans would get to enjoy peace.

    The Emperor, however, worried. The Egyptian Monophysites were riling up the Provincial governor, telling him to declare independence. The Syrian Monophysites were restless, and Emperor Zeno needed to make a decision on who carried the legacy of the Western Empire. Zeno wished to see Rome restored, whether diplomatically or militarily, in the long term. He needed time to plan those connections.


    On August 19, 478 Anno Domini, or 1232 Ab Urbe Condita, the Emperor received the Sassanid surrender. Armenia was fully recovered, and some of Mesopotamia was Roman once more. The soldiers were granted a triumph in the Hippodrome. The Emperor also issued an edict that restored the Eastern Scholae Palatinae, and the new unit of the Imperial military was fully incorporated by September.




    Sorry for the late update, although I did finish the current arc. I'll try to update weekly, at least. You'll get some battle scenes when I have an Emperor who leads from the front.
     
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    Egypt, 478 AD

    It was a pyramid. There was a group meeting inside this pyramid, and they were talking about recent events and how well their plans were doing.

    “So,” their leader, Ramsesses, began. “The attempts of the emperor to get the followers of Christ within our lands to agree dogmatically with their ideas have failed”.

    “Yes,” a member agreed. “We can take advantage of this”.

    “Indeed,” Ramsesses commented. “The governor of Egypt is not happy, and he is preparing his forces to revolt”.

    “Also, the Empire is still recovering from their recent war with Persia,” another member pointed out. “And the goal of this uprising is only to wear down their forces, as we bide our time for our actual revolt…”.

    “Also,” the second member wondered. “Why do we care about the schisms amongst the Christians? Aren’t there other things we could take advantage of?”.

    “The followers of Christ are extremely concerned with what they perceive as ‘heresy’. They care most about whether or not their ideas are agreed with,” Ramsesses explained. “They will continuously fight against each other based on minor differences. We are going to take advantage of that to reclaim our freedom”.

    “The current governor of our province is ambitious anyways,” the first member pointed out. “He believes that he will gain long-lasting glory if he founds a new kingdom… and all men want to be remembered...”.

    The Emperor’s palace, 478 AD

    “My lord,” a messenger said. “Our attempts to mend our schism with the Monophysites have failed, and the Egyptians seem to be preparing for war against us”.

    “This is worrying news,” Emperor Zeno exclaimed. “Send for the governors of the provinces of Greece and Anatolia. Also, what is your name, messenger?”.

    “Alexander, your majesty, and I shall contact them immediately,” the messenger, now identified as Alexander said. “What should I tell them?”.

    “Tell the governors to prepare their armies, and to meet at Ancyra,” Emperor Zeno replied. “From Ancyra, they shall march east to the Tigris, and then they shall go South to the Holy Land”.

    “And then, your majesty?, Alexander asked.

    “Tell them to march to Sinai, where they will stay as an unspoken threat to the Egyptians if they try to revolt,” the Emperor responded.

    “And if the Egyptians are foolish enough to revolt anyways?” Alexander asked.

    “Tell the generals of the armies of Greece and Anatolia that if Egypt does revolt, they shall march into it, and they shall begin by taking Alexandria,” the Emperor ordered. “If they don’t surrender with this show of force, then the Graeco-Anatolian Army shall attack them until their armies are decimated or until they do surrender”.

    Mentally, Alexander wondered if he should tell the Emperor about his dream. After some pondering, he decided that he was just worried about the coming war, and the dream probably didn’t mean anything. The Emperor’s plan for this war sounded like a good one, anyway.

    “Also,” the Emperor began. “Gather some diplomats and lead them across the lands of Europe and Africa to create alliances with a few other powers, just to secure our backs for the time being”.

    “Yes, your majesty,” Alexander agreed. “What shall we do about the Monophysites in Syria, if I may ask?”

    “We shall gather the armies in Armenia and the portions of Mesopotamia that we now own, as well as the armies loyal to us in Syria and Palestine, and split them in half… one half shall go to our border with Persia, in case they try anything, and the other half will go to keep order across Syria and the Holy Land,” Emperor Zeno explained. “Tell the governors that we are going to take some of their troops for that,” he added as an afterthought.

    “Very well, my liege,” Alexander responded. “When am I to gather the diplomats?”

    “Gather the diplomats after you deliver the orders, but begin your mission after Egypt is relatively pacified,” the Emperor responded.

    Inwardly, Alexander sighed. He could see so many things that could go wrong with this plan. Other powers could easily begin their own alliances, and what would happen when the new alliances fought each other. However, he didn’t have a better idea, and who was he to question the Emperor, anyways?

    Still, the entire situation reminded him too much of his recent dream. He was beginning to get very worried. Although dreams couldn’t tell the future, could they?

    The dream began with the negotiation of a few alliances, and everything spiraled out of control from there. A war began, and soon, most of the world was embroiled in conflict as a result of these alliances. Then, heavens trembled, as creatures from ancient myths joined the conflict. Devastation reigned across the entire known world. He saw thousands of cities reduced to ashes. He stood at both the Pillars of Hercules and coast of the Holy Land, and all he saw in every direction was a red sea. He knew that that meant that the entire Mediterranean Sea would run red with the blood of millions… if the dream came true. He feared that the dream was warning him of a coming apocalypse…

    If his dream came true, would Paradise follow?

    Far away, an entity whispered, so softly that she was heard by no one, that it wouldn’t. No, there would be suffering for two millennia longer until the end would finally come, and Paradise would not follow even then…

    Men must always pursue gloria sine fine - glory without end - and so, there must always be bellum sine fine - war without end. The worst is always yet to come...
     
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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    Hvar, January 489 AD

    It was a nice day, and the wind blew in the faces of the two armies. Philip smiled and thought of his coming revenge. He was sure that the Italians would be utterly destroyed after this conflict. He relished the coming bloodshed. In his anticipation, he did not realize that perhaps revenge was not all that it was cracked up to be and that it might not bring lasting satisfaction…

    The Emperor called Demetrius, Commander Thomas of the Eastern Scholae Palatinae, Leo and Philip, and Count Konstantinos into his tent. He had a plan for this battle. He explained this plan to them. All of them would fight on the front lines. They would ensure that little to none of Odoacer’s troops survived. The war would end here. Odoacer’s troops could not retreat well, as the area they were fighting in was surrounded by hills and mountains…

    For a short while, both armies waited. Then, Philip decided now was as good a time to fight as any, and he attacked. He raged in his attacks, as he despised these usurpers. He would take everything from them, and so he killed many. Soon, however, he saw all of the dead bodies his actions had wrought, and he saw how red the area was. He realized that many of these men could be convinced to switch their loyalties, and so he changed his tactics. He would aim to capture as many as he could and to kill as few as he could. He was much more merciful. After all, what use was a dead man?

    Meanwhile, Leo moved his troops, attempting to go around the opposing army. He intended to flank them. Unfortunately, Odoacer’s army noticed, and they attacked. Leo led his men in a retreat, as many of them were killed. These men, however, died glorious deaths, taking out many times their number.

    Elsewhere, Demetrius slaughtered men like they were cattle. Blood was dripping off of him, but he continued to kill. He was angry at these Germanic barbarians, as they could not save his brother, or they aided in his death themselves. He was in a horrifying rage, and that would not end until the battle was over.

    As all of this was happening, Commander Thomas led his men in an attack on Odoacer’s center. Many of Odoacer’s men were captured or killed, and soon his center was having trouble holding. As such, he pressed the attack.

    Emperor Longinus surveyed the battlefield. He was pleased with how well the battle was going. He decided to look for Odoacer, but he did not see him anywhere on the battlefield. He soon realized where Odoacer was.

    “Typical,” Emperor Longinus thought. “He doesn’t even fight in the battle at all. Coward.”

    As Odoacer’s center collapsed, and anarchy reigned in his army, the Emperor smiled. Victory was in his grasp. This battle, combined with Ad Ladios, must have destroyed the enemy’s will to fight. Sure enough, those men who were not captured or killed surrendered.

    As the battle ended, Philip and Demetrius sat down next to each other, and they talked.

    “Was it worth it?,” Demetrius asked.

    “Was what worth it?,” Philip wondered.

    “The revenge,” Demetrius replied. “Was the revenge worth it?”

    “No,” Philip admitted. “I thought it would make me feel better about Italia’s fall, but I took it too far, and thousands perished.”

    Demetrius looked out over the sea. He took a deep breath, and then he said, “I suppose it wouldn’t be. It never is.” He sighed, as he saw the blood that stained the island, and he knew that he was responsible for some of it…
     
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    Here's the next update! Enjoy!



    Unknown, February 489 AD

    Philip sighed. He was having second thoughts about this plan. Revenge rarely made one feel better. He knew however that it was already too late. What was done, was done. He would help restore the mighty Roman Empire, as it was at its height. Would it grant him satisfaction? Probably not. And once he had succeeded? What then? He had numerous allies that shared his goal, but what would happen when the goal had been achieved. His allies had different reasons why they wanted the Empire restored. They would stab each other in the back, and they would stab him in the back. This was a war in the shadows. You could trust no one in the long term. Sometimes, you couldn’t even trust yourself.

    How were they going to manipulate the Throne, though? That answer was obvious. They would offer the throne more power and more territory. Power was hard to deny. It appealed to two of the deadliest sins. It appealed to pride and to greed. The Throne would not deny it. The fact that the Emperor might agree with their goal made their job even easier.

    He looked out the window of his home. The moon was bright tonight. Then, he looked at the other celestial bodies. The moon’s light dwarfed everything else. Mars was not bright yet. “Good,” he thought. “War is not yet coming.” He thought about recent developments. Approximately half of Dalmatia had been reclaimed. That was not what interested him. He had heard that most of the northern Italian peninsula had revolted from the barbarian Odoacer’s rule. Their rulers followed the ways of the Neoplatonists, but pragmatism dictated that a temporary alliance might be in order. Of course, if they were wise, neither side would expect the other to follow it, but the enemy of my enemy is my ally… until they are no longer the enemy of my enemy, that is.

    He smiled. He was angry, yes, he was very angry. He knew that was a sin. But, then, men and ancient gods alike sinned and still sin? They were fallen. “That will be useful,” he thought. “Yes, very useful indeed”. For all beings can be manipulated by their sin. He would manipulate many, and they would serve his goals, knowingly or unknowingly…

    In the blackness of the night, a woman sighed. “It is easy to manipulate others,” she murmured. “But those that manipulate others, the manipulators, rarely check to see if they are being manipulated… that is their weakness, their innate pride that others will not do, will not dare do what they have done to others.”

    The Imperial Palace, Constantinople, March 489 AD

    Emperor Longinus sighed. He knew that many people, or groups of people, were trying to manipulate him and his throne. If that was the case, he was going to manipulate them right back. The shadows hide countless plots and countless plans. Often, when dealing with those that are of them, you can trust no one, not even yourself. After all, what was one to do in a place where even the truth lies? The shadows contain things and ideas that mere mortals were not meant to know. For who knows what those who lurk in the shadows have seen?

    He plotted. His predecessor was his stupid brother, who could not recognize manipulation. He knew what he wanted, of course. He wanted Rome’s glory regained, an Empire to last the millennia. His dynasty would rule this Empire, and finally, finally, there would be peace. Pax, yes, beautiful peace.

    “What would be the cost,” he wondered. A much more pressing question would not leave his mind, though… What worth was peace bought by the blood of millions? He would manipulate those who believed they could manipulate him, and, in the end, they would serve him and his goals. But would such a Pyrrhic Victory be worth it? “Yes,” he decided. “It would have to.”

    He knew that the time before his line’s ultimate triumph would be a time of great despair, but the citizens would be grateful in the long term. At the moment, all the Eastern Roman Emperor could do was wait, wait for his plan’s fruition. It would come long after his demise, but that was no matter. His people, meanwhile, would simply have to hope. Unfortunately, he worried about their ability to. After all, how could one hope, when some believed even their gods above forgot to weep?

    Regardless, he would have to figure out who was trying to manipulate him and the Throne. He knew that Philip was probably part of an organization that wanted Rome’s full imperial glory restored, but he shared that goal, so it would do nothing about that… yet. His messenger, Alexander, though? The Emperor suspected that he was part of a conspiracy, but what did they want? He would need to figure that out. Demetrius, of course, was an incredibly competent commander, even if he did let his rage overcome him sometimes, but he was not a schemer. Emperor Longinus suspected that he wasn’t going to start plotting, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be tricked or blackmailed into it. He would need to keep an eye on all of his nobles and military commanders. He would keep those who he could use close, and then he would subtly discard them. If someone was not useful to Imperial Restoration and the renewal of the Pax Romana, then they were worthless.
     
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    Thanks to @DiagorasCinna for nominating me for Character WritAAR of the Week. In celebration, here's today's update!



    Somewhere in Epirus, May 489 AD

    Demetrius mulled over recent events. He needed to keep control in the future. “There have been many conflicts in recent years,” he said to himself. “Somebody is working behind the scenes… likely.” Somebody, or multiple somebodies… And if there were, he wondered who knew. Secrets piled up upon secrets, probably. He was not going there. Let others plot and scheme, but he would enforce the Throne’s will. Loyalty was rewarded by the Emperors of Rome almost always. Sometimes, so was competence.

    He was reminded of an old, almost forgotten, saying: what has been written, has been written. He sighed and murmured grimly, “Unfortunately, that does not mean it cannot be erased…”

    The Imperial Palace, Constantinople, May 490 AD

    Emperor Longinus invited his adopted son, Prince Justinian, into his room. He would pass on his wisdom to his son, for there must be someone to carry on his plans upon his death. He expected that they would take a very long time to be completed, but monarchs should always be patient. He would begin by teaching his son military tactics, but then he would tell him about what his plans were and how they were to be enforced…

    “Why have you called me here, father?,” Justinian politely asked.

    “I must tell you some things,” Emperor Longinus began. “To train you for ruling the Empire.”

    “First, what is the best tactic in a battle?,” the Emperor asked.

    “I don’t know,” Justinian replied. “What should one do in a battle?”

    “The best tactic, more often than not, is to flank them,” Justinian’s father began. “This means that you attempt to get a portion of your army around your opponent’s army, so that you can attack them from two sides at once. This can be taken further, where one attacks the same army from three or more sides at once, but this is extraordinarily hard to do.”

    “Why is it hard?,” Justinian wondered. “Is it because it is hard to get your troops in that position?”

    “That is exactly one of the reasons,” the Emperor began. “Another is that splitting up any army too much leaves each individual army more vulnerable.”

    “Ah,” Prince Justinian realized. “The ancient principle of Divida et Impera… that division means your enemies can conquer you…”

    “Exactly,” Emperor Longinus responded. “We’re down on military strategy, on how to deal with many outside enemies. That is good, but there is more to ruling this Empire than outside enemies…”

    “How does a ruler deal with enemies from within, then?,” the Heir to the Throne of the Eastern Roman Empire wondered.

    “For some enemies within the Empire, you can simply wait for them to revolt or make a move and deal with them as you would deal with outside enemies,” Emperor Longinus began. “For others, you can attempt to arrest or blackmail them. Unfortunately, a ruler must not only deal with their enemies.”

    “Who else would an Emperor have to deal with?,” Justinian asked.

    “They must also deal with their allies and those who would manipulate them,” his father said. “What do you know of what lurks in the shadows?”

    “Many things can hide in the shadows,” Justinian began. “However, they mainly conceal the deeds of schemers and plotters…”

    “Precisely,” his father praised. “There are many people or organizations who would like to manipulate the Throne.”

    “What do we do about them?,” Justinian asked, although he already had an idea of the answer.

    His father smirked. “If they wish to manipulate us,” he began. “Then we will manipulate them right back.”

    “And what happens once they have outlived their usefulness to our plans?,” the Heir to the Imperial Throne asked.

    “Then, we find a way to get rid of them,” the current holder of the Imperial Throne responded.

    Justinian figured that his father probably meant that they should kill them. However, he had his own ideas, as he was kinder than his father was. Perhaps he would lose that kindness after he had reigned for some time as Emperor of Eastern Rome, but he still had it for now. He figured that those who were no longer useful to the plan could be given good retirements, and if they already knew about the Imperial Court’s schemes and plots, then, perhaps, they could be paid to keep quiet. Greed was a deadly and extremely common sin, after all.
     
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    Sinope, January 490 AD

    Vicar Niketas of Pontus sat in his throne room in Epirus. He was planning many things. The Roman Empire was holding the people of Anatolia back. The Romans should be evicted from Anatolia, and he should rule. He had already conquered almost all of Anatolia. He wondered how he should go about achieving his independence…

    He figured that he wasn’t the only governor of an Imperial province that wanted independence or, perhaps, the throne in the Queen of Cities. He knew that he could easily find other nobles who opposed the Emperor. The Despot of Achaea likely wanted large portions of Greece, if not all of that area. Many Egyptians were probably still annoyed after their revolt from a few years ago was put down. The Monophysites were unlikely to want to be ruled by a heretic. The Emperor had made numerous external enemies, but these enemies he shared with the Vicar or somebody the Vicar wanted to aid him in his quest for independence. There was, of course, the question of what the Vicar of Pontus, hopefully soon to be Despot of Anatolia, would do once he succeeded.

    On the one hand, even if his revolt succeeded, he would still have to deal with a weakened, but still very much existing, Roman Empire. In addition, the only thing uniting his planned coalition of landowners and governors in the Empire was a common enemy, and any alliance held together by a common enemy was a fragile one. He needed to ensure that his former allies weren’t a threat to his new government… Slowly, he began to make a plan…

    He would establish a coalition to destroy Imperial authority, and he would let what few loyal landowners do what they wished. They would tear the Empire’s remnants apart, and he would no longer have to fear them. He would make permanent alliances with those that were willing, and he would attempt to not alienate any potential enemies.

    First, however, he was going to send a letter to Despot Stephanos of Achaea, to begin his coalition, and the Roman Empire’s downfall...

    The Imperial Palace, Constantinople, March 490 AD

    Emperor Longinus and Prince Justinian sat in a room, as they read petitions from numerous Imperial landowners. Many wanted aid, commonly monetary and the common reason was an outbreak of deadly plagues.

    Justinian then realized something, and he asked his father, “what does one do when there is an alliance arranged against them?”

    The Emperor of the Romans replied, “Depends on how tenuous the alliance is. Why?”

    Justinian’s response was, “I believe that one of our more powerful vassals is attempting to make an alliance against us. So, what should we do?”

    Emperor Longinus answered, “The vassals are unruly, and that will be true no matter who they serve. Even if this vassal manages to make an alliance against the Throne, it will be a very tenuous alliance. All we have to do is wait, and, perhaps, act a little defeated, a little desperate for peace, and this new alliance will rip each other apart, allowing us to swoop in and reclaim the pieces…”

    “But if we act defeated, our foreign enemies might notice, and they might attack, like the vultures they are,” Prince Justinian said. “If this happens, do we focus on our borders?”

    “Yes,” Emperor Longinus responded. “If our domestic enemies are tearing each other apart, we can afford to focus on our foreign ones, perhaps even give a little ground to our domestic enemies, which will only further encourage them to tear each other apart.”

    “We shall divide our enemies,” Justinian said. “And we shall conquer them.”

    “Indeed,” Emperor Longinus agreed. “And we shall rule, even if we have to rule over an empire of ashes…”
     
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    And we shall rule, even if we have to rule over an empire of ashes…

    This line isn't at all ominous.
    Of course it isn't. It's not like a massive revolt is probably about to happen or anything...


    Somewhere in Epirus, April 490 AD

    Demetrius mused on what his servants had told him. Apparently, there were rumors about a possible uprising against the current Imperial dynasty. Hmm, perhaps if he remained loyal, and the current governor of Epirus didn’t, he could gain control over Epirus. Enforcing Imperial control over Epirus could be very interesting. If Governor Fridarik of Epirus wanted to be disloyal, the vast majority of Epirus’s armies would not follow him, because Demetrius controlled most of those, and they would listen to him…

    “This uprising could be good for me,” he mused. “It could be very good, indeed.” For now, he would wait for a move to be made, but when was, well, then he would react. For the Empire…

    Sinope, May 490 AD

    Vicar Niketas of Pontus was considering who the collapse of Eastern Roman power could appeal to. The Eastern Roman Empire had many foreign enemies, and he could, and probably would, appeal to them if his uprising didn’t find support within the Empire, as they would make a very good distraction. This was only a last resort, however, as the Sassanid Empire did want Anatolia, and he shared many enemies with his current liege.

    Hmm, the Emperor did have numerous internal enemies, so he could easily appeal to them first. He had already sent a letter to Despot Stephanos of Achaea, after all. Then, he realized something. If Despot Stephanos controls all of Greece, he might want Ionia, which I also want. What should he do about that? Oh. That was a good idea. That was a very good idea…

    He could recruit Governor Fridarik of Epirus to his coalition, as well. Having two independent states in Greece would allow them to distract each other, preventing any unified Greek state from wanting Ionia. In addition, it would prevent Stephanos from simply seizing control of all of Greece during the uprising, as he planned to do with Anatolia…

    Right, so he had to send letters to the Governor of Epirus, some Monophysites, and numerous actual provincial governors, as well as people who could want the throne in the Queen of Cities.

    Corinth, Achaea, May 490 AD

    Despot Stephanos of Achaea had, of course, received the Vicar of Pontus’s letter. A temporary coalition against the Imperial Throne sounded like a good idea, but the coalition would fall apart after its victory, as any alliance united by a common enemy is bound to do.

    He would accept this proposal, though. He wanted Ionia, though, and he figured that Vicar Niketas did as well. The Vicar was organizing the alliance, so he would probably attempt to keep Greece at least somewhat divided. How would he deal with that? The answer hit him like a bolt of lightning.

    If the Vicar of Pontus wanted to keep Greece divided, then he would keep Anatolia divided. Vicar Niketas had many Anatolian lands, but he, by no means, had all of Anatolia. In addition, some of the other Anatolian landowners disliked the Imperial Throne. All he had to do was invite them to the slowly forming coalition. Many would be glad to join, and they would then be protected from the Vicar of Pontus seizing their lands during the coming revolt against the Empire...
     
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  • HistoryDude

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    Egypt, June 490 AD

    Ramsesses was still leading the conspiracy for Egyptian independence. He had recently received news from some of his operatives in the court of the County of Thebes that the Countess had received a letter offering her control of Egypt and independence if she joined a coalition against the Eastern Roman Emperor.

    His long term goal was an independent Egypt, and he was pretty sure that he could easily manipulate the Countess of Thebes. That was not his problem with this idea. His problem was that this coalition was united against a common enemy, and the Vicar of Pontus hadn’t said how he planned to keep the coalition united after that enemy had been defeated. If the Eastern Roman Empire had been completely defeated, that wouldn’t be a problem, but many troops, and even many landowners, were impulsive. Their impulsiveness could cost them a victory.

    Ramsesses led a conspiracy that had existed for centuries. It could afford to be patient. He would need to consider whether or not it was a good move to back the Countess of Thebes in her revolt. He knew she would join the revolt, for humans were naturally greedy, and a victory would ensure she was remembered. So few people actually considered the consequences of longing for glory. So many were blinded by greed. He was not, so he could afford to wait.

    Sinope, June 490 AD
    The Vicar of Pontus had received much support for his planned rebellion. His plan was going forward beautifully. He had lost the opportunity to claim all of Anatolia during the actual revolt, but that was no matter. He could easily conquer those lands after. It was only a temporary setback. He knew that Despot Stephanos of Achaea was likely responsible for that, but his plan wouldn’t work. No realm in Anatolia matched the armies he could raise, and he could easily unite the area. Achaea was only slightly stronger than Epirus was, so that would be a long fight. It would also hopefully exhaust Achaea enough that its Despot wouldn’t attack him over Ionia.

    He knew of the Emperor’s foreign enemies. He could get their support, but many were his enemies as well. Of course, there was always the possibility that the revolt would fail. He was, and currently is being, very meticulous in his planning. He was highly unlikely that his revolt would fail.

    Corinth, Achaea, June 490 AD

    The Vicar of Pontus could always attack the small Anatolian states, while he would actually have to struggle with Epirus. He needed another plan. The Vicar had no big local obstacles to his plan. Oh. Oh.

    There were no big local obstacles. There could be other obstacles, though, for the Vicar wasn’t the only one who wanted to control all of Anatolia… The Sassanids wanted to control Anatolia as well, and they heavily disliked the Eastern Roman Empire. All he had to do was send a letter inviting them to the anti-Eastern Roman coalition. They could provide funds during the revolt proper, and then they could invade Anatolia regardless of who won.

    That would provide Pontus with a large drain of manpower. It would also weaken them, which bought Despot Stephanos time to finish off Epirus and recover. It could also create a coalition of the smaller Anatolian states, whose combined might could be enough to hold off Pontus…

    In addition, if the coalition somehow lost the war, the Eastern Roman Empire would face a major invasion immediately after. In effect, Despot Stephanos of Achaea had created a Dead Man’s Switch for the coalition, on the Imperial Throne...
     
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