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Chapter XXX

The Adventures of a Guard Captain

It was such a wonderful day to be outside today with the trees showing its bare trunks as autumn came to an end as winter approached. That is if I could be outside today, but instead here I was stuck here in court. All of a sudden there was a man standing in the midst of the crowd who suddenly started shouting.

“Fellow Christians! I come here to bring you good will as a fellow brother in Christ. Come and hear me out as I share my testimony!!!”

It was one of those monks again who seemed to incensed that the Imperial Court was always full of decadent people, though it was not too far from the truth to be honest.

“I was on my journey in Rome to seek out the truth when I saw the Pope travelling on horseback surrounded by the poor citizens of Rome. As that image burnt into the back of my eyes one thing became clear, he is the Beast of the Apocalypse!”

That got my attention. Sure, the East has not always had an amicable relationship with Rome, but the Beast? As in the one related to the Antichrist? That was a bit harsh I thought.

“Once that became clear, everything else I thought I knew began to change! This phenomena is not exclusive to Rome alone, it is everywhere especially in areas where they dare to say that they are the protector of Christendom. What is this Christendom they speak of!? Christ came to deliver salvation to the elect, not establish an Earthly realm!!! For too long we have placed our faith in the so called spiritual descendants of the Apostles. Liars they all are! Whatever you may believe now is not the Christian religion, it is an Imperial Cult made by the Pagan Emperor Constantine! Down with the Pope, down with the Patriarchs, down with all the Bishops of the World and their false religion!!!”

Oh dear, now he's done it. Not only did he completely cross the line, but he also managed to insult the Imperial Line in an Imperial Court.

“Guards! Arrest that blasphemous pagan!!! I will not have a false prophet dare to lead astray my subject within my own court!!!!!”


It was the Emperor himself, Stephen who was completely outraged. Unexpectedly succeeding his brother after his sudden death, unlike his predecessors, Stephen was not an uneducated man. In fact, prior to his ascension, he was supposed to be destined for a Church career as he did his education under the tutorship of the late Patriarch of Antioch, Photios, who was known for having succeeded and becoming deposed to the office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople at least twice due to some theological dispute between him and Rome. The man was a legend within the theological circles everywhere in the world that was not Rome. As such when His Majesty arrested that outrageous monk, he most likely did not do it out of anger against the insult hurled towards the Imperial Line, but rather the more academic theological one which most may not be able to comprehend.

My suspicion was proven correct when the current Patriarch of Antioch, Kyriakos commended the Emperor for his actions.


“Again? What is wrong with these Provincial Governors!? Are they never satisfied? You know what to do.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

I had no idea what was going on, but I did recognise the man speaking with the Emperor. He was the Governor of the Theme of Cyprus where rumour had it was also a Spymaster for the Emperor, dealing with the shady aspects of court intrigues and politics. He got a glimpse of me and started to approach me.

“Captain, I have a task for you. The Governor of Abydos, Dionysios is suspected of high treason and as such, you are hereby ordered to execute the warrant for his arrest.”


“Yes, Your Grace!”

It didn't take that long by ship to Abydos where the treasonous governor resided. Not wanting to take any chances, I took a full company of Imperial Guardsmen and marched them to the Governor's residential palace. A chamberlain of some sort intercepted us before we reached the main gate.

“Who do you think you are marching here with armed men. Do you know who resides here!?”

“Who do you think we are? Have you seen the colours we are flying? We are the Imperial Guards here under the orders of the Emperor himself, now step aside or face the consequences for obstructing Imperial Justice!”

The man now suddenly in fear quickly moved out of the way.

“Dionysios, Provincial Governor of Abydos, you have been charged for high treason against the Emperor and as such we hereby place you under arrest by the orders of the Emperor himself. Co-operate with us and you shall not be harmed.”

There was no response.

“In the name of the Emperor, surrender peacefully and come out Dionysios!”

There was still no response. Turning towards the man who intercepted us before I ordered him to open the gates.

“But... But... But...”

“By the Emperor, open these damn gates or I'll have you arrested also as an accomplice for high treason!”

With no other choice, the man obeyed my orders and opened the gates. As soon as the gates opened, I took four men with me to the front door while ordering the rest to surround the premise to make sure there was no room for escape as well as giving them the order to slay anyone who stood in their way. After walking for a few minutes, we finally reached the main office door.

“For the last time Dionysios, come peacefully or suffer the consequences!”

When my demand was met with silence, I lost my patience.

“Break it down!”

One of the guardsmen went towards the door and kicked down the door. Upon further inspection, the Governor was nowhere to be found.

“Find him! So long as his head is attached to his neck, I don't care!!!”

After furiously searching for over an hour, the chamberlain approached me.

“What is it!?”

“Um... The Governor just arrived from the tavern he was at.”


It was quite embarrassing really, but in the end we got the job done. We arrived back in Constantinople after two days with the Governor in chains. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the shadowy Spymaster for the Emperor.

“Well done, Captain. Though you only just arrived, I have another task for you.”

“Where to, Your Grace?”

“Koloneia, not quite sure who you'll be working under, but you and whomever your superior may be are to go there and relieve the Governor of Galatia of his duties so he can do his After-Action Report for the Reconquista.”

“But Your Grace, I am a member of the Imperial Guard, surely there are more suitable candidates to send to the front lines.”

“You have combat experience, do you not Captain? That should suffice, or are you telling me that you are afraid.”

“No, of course not!”

Well, I was to be honest. Though being an Imperial Guardsman was not always safe, but the mortality rate was significantly lower than that of the Imperial Legion. However, there was very little I could do to deter my deployment to the front lines.

“Good, the Empire has no need for cowards. Make certain that you are fully prepared and say your goodbyes as soon as possible as you are to leave at the first sign of dawn.”

As the day went by, morning came suddenly fast signalled by the cock call. I was feeling rather anxious and was unable to sleep. With no other choice, I gathered my belongings and went out to the gathering point, meeting up with the 5th Imperial Legion of the Roman Army, drawn mainly from the Themes of Europe. Checking which stations everyone was at, I was surprised to find out that I was to command an entire division. After a quick briefing, we marched towards the front lines in the Armenian region.

It took about a months worth of marching to finally arrive at our intended destination. From there the overall Commander, who had not bothered to introduce himself to the rest of us, met up with the Governor of Galatia and relieved him of his duties as well as other non-essential military commanders including the Commander of the 8th Division whom I replaced. When we arrived, the forces already present were in the middle of laying siege against the castle of Koloneia. As soon as the 5th Imperial Legion fully merged with present Legion from the Themes of Asia, our Commander ordered us to assault the castle.

Although we were not fully prepared, the sheer number of the Roman soldiers against the Saracen defenders was so overwhelming that we took the castle by nightfall.


Leaving just over forty men to defend an entire castle, we marched South towards Melitene where were to rendezvous with the rest of the Legion from the Theme of Asia.


As soon as we arrived, our Commander once again ordered us to immediately assault the castle.


“Slay all those who resist, but spare those who surrender. They may prove useful for ransom later!”

“Yes, sir!”

As the defenders of the castle fell to Roman swords, another castle was occupied by Imperial forces.


Somehow ending up in the vanguard, the 8th Division were the first to arrive at the palace gates. There we were met by a Saracen wearing Armenian style clothing.

“Halt, who goes there!”

“Silence, you Roman dog! I wish to speak to your superior.”

I pointed my sword towards the man.

“Identify yourself first, then I shall decide whether your head should still be attached to your neck or not.”

“You impulsive infidel. I shall entertain your ignorance. I am the Sovereign Lord of these lands as accorded by Allah himself. Considering how you barbarians have rudely barged into my home, I would like an audience with the overall Commander of this barbaric force.”

“Well, Your Grace, you should have said that first. Come with me, I shall escort you to him.”

After escorting the Prince of the Marwanid Emirate to our commanding officer, he began laying out a string of insults after which he took off his coronet and threw them towards the feet of the our Commander along with his sword and a set of keys.

“What was that about?'

“Apparently, he surrendered.”


“Sure is a strange way of doing it.”

“Tell me about it...”

With that, the Reconquista against one of the Emirates or Principality was over.


It was about a fortnight after the surrender of Prince Marwan to the Imperial forces that we arrived in the mountainous region of Khilat where we were laying siege to yet another castle of the infidel Emirs.


As our victory against our enemies increased, so did the amount of prisoners of wars we had to drag along with us. As our mobile prison system started become cramp, we began to get complaints from the prisoners due to their conditions.


Seeing how something need to be done, I decided to approach our Commander.

“My Lord, we are receiving complaints from our prisoners.”


“Should we not do something about it?”

“Well, if you feel that something ought to be done, why not do it yourself? Don't bother me with such minor details!”

Not a compassionate man he was. Seeing how simply releasing them was not an option and slaughtering them would give us a reputation which even the ancient Huns would not be envious of, I decided to go with a middle route.

“Lieutenants, get some men to see the status of these prisoners. If any have connections to a wealthy Lord or some kind of noble, send messengers to them for ransom.”

“Yes sir!”


Just as the last of the prisoners with rich connections were ransomed off, a signal was raised from the Command Centre for all divisions to initiate an assault against the castle.

“8th Division, forward!”

“Sir, the walls have been breached on the South side!”

“All units, charge!!!”

By dusk, the castle was ours.


Just as we started to celebrate a member of the forward Scout Unit came rushing towards the commanders.

“My Lords, enemy soldiers number over three and a half thousand have been spotted in Koloneia!”

“Koloneia you say? Captains! Prepare your men,we march back towards Koloneia!!!”

“Yes, My Lord!”


Due to bad weather, it took nearly two months to get back to Koloneia.

“My Lord, scouts report that the enemy forces are just beyond the river.”

“We shall charge at them before they can escape.”

I did not like the sound of that.

“But My Lord! Crossing the river will put us at a disadvantage, surely we should attempt to lay a trap and ambush them.”

“Nonsense! We are brave Christian soldiers, we face the enemy head on!”

“We will suffer casualties!”

“Of course we will suffer casualties! This is war, Captain! I will not have anymore objections unless you want to join those prisoners whom you seem to care so much about! Now, do as you are told and rally the men.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

Once we were ready, all the Division Commanders ordered their Ensigns to signal their ready status.

“All units, charge!”


The battle was chaotic with a hundred of our men falling by arrow fire in the river. Despite such casualties, the horde of Roman soldiers pushed onwards and charged towards the enemy ranks.

“Lieutenant, get the second rank to hold the left side!”

Hearing no response, I looked around to see where my Lieutenant went.

“Ensign, where's the Lieutenant?”

“He was killed with the rest of the men in the river by arrow fire, Sir!”

Without much of a choice, I decided to charge into the left section myself.

“Allah Ackbar!”

Turning around, I saw one of the infidel Captains rushing towards me. I managed to quickly side step before he managed to cut me in two though me managed to get his blade in between my armour. Before he could launch a second attack, I threw my sword at him and before he could react it pierced through him right in the middle of his face.


Badly wounded, I looked around to see where our Commander was. As the Imperial Legion finished off the remnant of the enemy force, to my horror I saw our Commander skewered on the enemy lance. Regardless, victory was a victory and we needed to report it back to the capital, somehow. Looking around, I saw a man cowering behind a fallen horse.

“You there! Which division are with?”

“4th, Sir!”

“I have a request for you, take the main standard of the enemy and take it to the nearest Imperial outpost and report a victory for the Empire.”



“What is your name?”

“Niketas, Sir.”


“Listen, Niketas. I do not have much time, so I need you to do it. Though we have won, we are low on officers and with the Theatre Commander dead, we need a replacement and the Capital needs to know, besides we are also awfully late on our reports. While the rest of us clean things up here, I need you to do this for me. Can you do that?”


“Niketas! A true Roman does not cower behind fear! Now, will you do this for me?”

“Yes Sir! Under whose command should this be delivered as?”

If only that cursed Commander had introduced himself...

“Do it under mine: Belisarius, Kentarchos of the 8th Division, European Theme.”
Chapter XXXI

Profiting from Others

“Sire, the prisoner has been demanding for a better accomodation?”

“What prisoner?”

“Dionysios, Sire. The Governor of Abydos.”


“Oh, him. Just ignore it.”

The palace was quite busy at the moment as preparations were under way for it was my niece's birthday. My late brother's eldest daughter, Athanasia, was finally coming home after completing her studies with the Imperial Steward.

“Welcome home Athanasia!”


“Oh, thank you uncle. It's good to be back home.”

“Now, this is usually the father's job, but since he's no longer with us it looks like I'm going to have to do it.”

“Do what, uncle?”

“Find you a nice husband, of course!”

She started to look anxious.

“Awfully soon, is it not?”

“It is, but finding a suitable suitor has not been easy lately.”

“Okay, so who do you have in mind then?”

“The Duke of Valois.”

“What's so special about him?”

“He's a descendent of Charlemagne.”

“The false emperor?”

“Yes. So, what say you?”



Despite having been home for less than an hour, she now had to make preparations to travel all the way to West Francia where her new home would be. As further preparations were being made, I received report from the Imperial Chancellor in regards to a better understanding between myself and the Governoress of Nicaea.


As we said goodbye to Athanasia as she went her to Valois, I grabbed the attention of the Imperial Spymaster.

“Tell me something, Your Grace. We were supposed to have another meeting in regards to the Reconquista. What is going on here?”

“I'm sorry Your Majesty, the new Commander hasn't arrived from the front yet.”

“We were supposed to do this yesterday!”

I was starting to get rather impatient when the Imperial Chancellor himself and the Imperial Marshal arrived at the palace gates.

“Your Majesty, we finally have news from the front!”

“Finally, gather the rest of the Council and meet us in the War Room.”

What followed was an interesting debrief, though lacking elegance was quite detailed and somewhat interesting.

“Not bad. Who is this Belisarius fellow and why is it in a Latin form?”

“I believe that he used to serve as a Captain for the Imperial Guard Regiment, Your Majesty. He was the one who arrested Dionysios, the Provincial Governor of Abydos.”

It would seem that the Imperial Spymaster had a good eye for men.

“Very well, summon this fellow that I may reward him properly.”

“Apologise Your Majesty, but it would seem that the Captain had died on the battlefield.”

“Who delivered this message then?”

“A retainer for the Thematic Governor of Thracesia, Sire. He is currently in the field of battle.”

“I see, send a message to the front and have him summoned.”

A month went by when the messenger who delivered the message at a time when we lost contact for a moment with the Imperial Legion arrived. I had him promptly summoned to court.

“You must be Niketas.”

“I am at your service.”

“Don't be so shy now. Good work in delivering this message. Shame that the author did not make it.”

“Indeed it is, Sire.”

“I wanted to reward him, but since he's dead and he had no family to speak of, you are going to have to take it in his stead.”

“Excuse me?”

“From this moment onwards, you are to govern the Province of Melitene on my behalf. Along with it, I shall award you the rank of Komis.”


“Your Majesty, it is such an honour.”

“Now, come with me to the War Council. I want the latest update since the report you delivered on behalf of this Belisarius.”

The Imperial Council as well as ranking Generals and Admirals were waiting when we had arrived. Without delay, Niketas began on the update on what has been transpiring on the front since the report by Belisarius.

“After safely delivering the report made by Captain Belisarius, I returned to the front line with the reserve troops. Once we joined with the main force, some of the messengers sent forth to the various Emirates had returned.”

“What were the messengers for?”

“To negotiate ransom for some of our prisoners.”


“We then received words that the enemy forces were scattered and attempting to rejoin. Before they could do that, the Imperial Legion went forth and engaged them.”



It was the Imperial Marshal this time.



“Although I was in the opinion of pursuing the rest of the forces, the Commander ordered that were to lay siege at Taron.”


“After a fortnight, we had managed to take the castle after which we headed North.”


“After a week worth of marching, we had arrived at Vaspurakan. With no enemy force in sight, we laid siege there, also capturing.”


“It was nearly twenty days later that scouts reported that the enemy forces were sighted at Khliat, after which we immediately marched towards there.”


“Unfortunately, due to bad weather, it took us well over a month until we could find the enemy where by then, they were attempting to relieve Taron. Despite initial difficulties, we managed to engage the enemy there.”


“After a week worth of fighting, we annihilated the enemy forces with few casualties on our side.”


“By the time we had re-organised, we received further words that nearly two thousand enemy soldiers were sighted South of Taron, in Bara. Before marching there, I was summoned to the Imperial Court and as such concludes my report.”


“Very well, this just shows that we are in God's favour in that things are going well for us. Though, I cannot say the same for our Western counterparts. Regardless, well done everyone, you are all dismissed.”

With that, the meeting was adjourned.
Chapter XXXII

Laws of War

It was a nice autumn day today, so nice that I was looking forward to going out to watch the chariot race at the Hippodrome. As I about to leave a guardsman stopped me.

“Your Majesty, you cannot go out today!”

“What do you mean I cannot go out today?”

“There's a riot in the city, it's too dangerous!”



Those cursed fanatics, they just had to go way too far in their support for their respective teams. Annoyed, I ordered the City Guards to put down the riot and to give the citizens a warning that next time this happens, I shall unleash the Varangian Guards upon them.


With my day plans ruined, I went back into my office where I found my eldest child, Adriane reading some books.

“What are you reading darling?”


“Do you understand what this is about?”

She shook her head.

“This is about the genealogies of your grandfather, Basil and how it goes back to the ancient kings of Armenia. Would you like me to find someone to teach you how to read?”

“Yes, Papa!”

Once I set Adriane off to play outside I sent a letter to Doux Zenobios to become a personal tutor for her, which he gladly accepted.


Later that evening, I received words from the Eastern borders that the Thematic Governor of Trebizond, Eustathios, had finished with his personal war by usurping the Province of Theodosiopolis from the former Prince of Armenia, Smbat. Whether he did it for the Empire or his personal gain was yet to be seen.


It was around the end of January when I summoned the War Council. It would have seemed that everyone looked nervous.

“So how goes things for the Reconquista?”

“Well, Your Majesty...”

“Hmm? Come on, out with it. What happened with that force Niketas informed us about at Bira?”

“We managed to engage them at Edessa...”


“You all seem nervous. What happened, were they defeated?”

“No Sire, we were victorious.”


I was starting to get impatient.

“What in God's name is wrong with all of you!?”

“Something happened with the governing politics of the belligerent where the war came to a standstill.”


“The war ended, Your Majesty.”


“Stuff happened.”

More confused than enraged, I simply dismissed the whole lot of them and returned to court.

While I was thinking over what the hell happened, one of my advisers approached me to inform me of a capable eunuch.


Not in the greatest mood, I simply dismissed him when the Imperial Marshal requested my audience.

“You know I am not exactly happy with what happened with the Reconquista.”

“Of course, Your Majesty. I myself wonder what is the point of having legality in warfare when it is a rather brute affair to begin with.”

“So... What is it?”

“Good news, Sire. I have managed to refill the quotas for the Legion despite casualties from the previous deployment. They are once again, ready at your command.”


It was the best news I had received for the past few months.

“To war!”



Chapter XXXIII

Tales about the Mystical Realm

Preparations was under way as messengers were sent throughout the Themes of the Empire to recruit all able-bodied male for the continuation of the Reconquista though the direction of the target was somewhat diverged from the original goal set by my late father. As I was stamping the bills from the Senate, one of my councillors informed me that a strange man requested my audience. Needing a break from the repetitive task of stamping papers, I complied and went to the throne room to grant audience to this stranger.

“I thank you for granting audience, Your Majesty.”

The man who had quite the physique, wore strange attire and spoke in a strange accent.

“Welcome, stranger to the magnificent city of Constantinople. I suspect that you have travelled far.”

“Yes, Your Majesty. As such I must plead to His Majesty to allow me and my companions a shelter to rest.”

“If you are okay with staying at the house of my servants, then you are most welcome to stay as long as you like.”

“That will be more than enough. I thank you for your generous hospitality.”


Later in the evening, I invited my strange guests for a meal as my servants prepared the fire.

“Your Majesty, not only have you provided shelter, but also food! Your generosity must be endless!”

“I must do what I can for my guests, that is a Christian thing to do. Enough about that, I would like to hear about you. Those clothes, though somewhat similar to our hostile Saracen neighbours, they are also very different something which I have never seen before. From where do you come from?”

“Ah, I was wondering when His Majesty would bring that up. Well, you see, I come from a place further East than both your current nemesis the Saracens and your ancient enemies, the Persians.”

“Further East you say?”

“Yes, Sire. For you see, beyond the mountains of Afghanistan, there is a mighty realm currently composed of hundreds of feuding princes.”


“The ancient Greeks, your indirect ancestors, called it Bactria. We call it Afghanistan, the land of the Afghans. Beyond that lies the mighty world of Hindustan which was once united by the mighty Ashoka the Great.”

“I see... Continue.”

“Hindustan, or the land of the Hindus, are composed of multitude of people of different cultures and religions which inhabit the same area harmoniously. The people there believe themselves to be the sole inhabitants of the world, much like their even more further Eastern neighbours, the people of Cathay, once believed. There, it is home to several important religious sites which even the proud people of Cathay even visits as part of their pilgrimage.”

This story started to sound more and more like a fantasy as my guest continued, but which I knew was true. Before the rise of the Roman Empire, our indirect predecessors, the Greeks, the Macedonians in particular had attempted to conquer those lands, but could not complete even under the leadership of the great Alexander the Great. Even if unbelievable for now, this information could prove to be useful in the distant future...


“Tell us more about this mythical realm of Hindustan.”

The next morning, my guests prepared to leave and continue their long journey. What kind of adventure these people sought, I did not know, but I knew that they were kind people. Before embarking on his journey, the man came up to me with a strong looking man possibly originating from the African kingdom of Ethiopia.

Caught myself up with this AAR, loving it so far. Keep up the good work! is it too late to RP as a Senator?

It is never too late to RP as a senator!
Chapter XXXIV

A New Direction

Having been recently admitted, the new members of the Senate walked towards the Great Palace of Constantinople to join the ranks of the elite. While on the streets parents, spouses, and children waved goodbye to their loved ones: hundreds and thousands of able bodied men marching across the Empire towards their destination; Tortosa where the Imperial Legion would rendezvous before being deployed across into enemy territory.


To lead the Legion against the infidels for the Reconquista, I had sent the Captain of the Varangian Guards, Ake, and two Thematic Governors, the Douxs Romanos and Eustathios to assist him.


While the rest of the soldiers were still arriving at the rendezvous point, the main army led by Captain Ake marched across the border where they immediately engaged the enemy in Beirut.


The battle was said to be a total victory with minimal losses while the enemy lost over a thousand men to brave Roman soldiers.


As I was heading towards the War Room to discuss about this Reconquista with the Imperial Council, my niece Apollonia visited me; who was now an adult.


“Hello uncle, or perhaps Your Majesty might be more appropriate?”

“It has been a while Apollonia, how have you been?”

“I've been well.”

“Now that you have fully grown up, do you have any plans?”

“I was about to ask you the same thing, after all, you are the Emperor.”

“I see... In that case, I would like you to stay in court and teach any children who may gain something useful from your knowledge.”

“So I am to be a teacher?”

“Yes, also, I would like you to go to the local nunnery to learn the appropriate ways of utilising your new position.”


After seeing my niece off to a nunnery, I went into the War Room. The Imperial Marshal was the first to speak.

“Your Majesty, the majority of the Imperial Legion which had rendezvoused in Torotosa has recently arrived at the walls of Beirut last week and are reported to be laying siege.”


“So we have begun. Make certain that the reinforcements arrive at a steady pace so that the siege does not last too long. How goes with the border tension up North?”

This time it was the Imperial Chancellor who spoke.

“Your Majesty, I have an idea which may make the barbarians hesitate to cross into our borders.”

“Do explain.”

“A marriage alliance. A betrothal between your daughter, Her Highness Adriane and the Crown Prince Boril will assure an amicable relationship between the Empire and the Bulgarians for at least a generation.”

“Do it.”


A week went by when news arrived that Beirut fell, bringing the whole city into our hands.


With the capital of the Duchy of Galilee in our hands, the Imperial Legion marched towards Tiberias which also fell not too long once it became under siege.



Having his entire realm occupied, the infidel Doux of Galilee had no choice but to surrender to the Roman Empire before fleeing to the nearest court of an infidel Emir. How a blind man could run so fast, was anyone's guess.


Now that I had the home town of our Lord freed from infidel control, it would only be a matter of time until the rest of the Holy Lands was under our control thus ending the Reconquista started by my father...
Senator Christophoros Isauros speaking. I have but and idea to present to his Imperial Majesty. Since the Western Empire has recently lost vast tracts of territory, would it not be wise to try to return The so-called "Kingdom of Italy" to true Roman control. from there an attack could be launched against the "Catholic" Patriarch of Rome who styles himself as "The Pope" we must force the long rebellious patriarch of Rome to accept his position under Imperial control, as it was in the glory days of the empire.
Chapter XXXV

Having Faith

“We marched from Tiberias where we had to go through the Caliphate territory. The troops were on high alert as we were unsure whether the infidels will launch a surprise attack or not.”


“Fortunately, we passed through without any incident. After a month worth of marching, we had finally arrived at Jaffa, or as the Saracens like to call it: Arsuf.”


“Immediately we laid siege. Seeing that we had a numerical superiority, well over ten to one, Captain Ake ordered the Legion to assault the walls. After another months of heavy fighting, we completed took control of the province.”



“Just under fifteen hundred, Sire.”

“Thank you for your report, Commander. You may return to your post.”

It was a brief yet a productive debrief in the War Room. A Divine Liturgy would have to be held for the souls which were reposed to the Lord fighting for the true faith. Fifteen hundred souls, it was something I could not fathom. Regardless it was still a joyous news as their ultimate sacrifice meant a victory against the heathen Ashinas Emirate, edging us closer to the lost Holy Lands.


Suddenly, someone bursted into the War Room.

“Your Majesty! Around fifteen hundred infidel troops has been sighted within Imperial Borders!!!”


Were those who had fallen return from the dead to exact their revenge for their untimely end? It was a foolish thought, but I was worried since the garrisons nearby did not have nearly enough troops to deal with this threat while the Imperial Legion was still in the Levant after securing victory in the region.

“How long until reinforcements arrive?”

“It will take them a few months before they can arrive.”

“How long until outpost last?”

Then another messenger burst into the room.

“Sire! Melitene has fallen!!!”


For about a week, I had the Imperial Council sort out this mess. By being so focused on our offensive in the Holy Lands, our defence in Asia had become neglected. Needing a break from this war, I decided to spend time with the family and making sure that my daughters were raised properly.


It was around February, two months after the fall of Melitene when news arrived that the Imperial Legion had finally arrived back within the Imperial borders to repel the enemy. To keep up to date, I summoned the Imperial Council into the War Room.

“What is the current situation?”

The Imperial Marshal stood up to give the report.

“Our eleven thousand strong troops are about to engage fourteen hundred infidel soldiers.”

“So we should expect to reclaim Melitene by tomorrow then?”

“Though I am confident, I am concerned that the field commander was too rash in his judgement to attack the enemy under unfavourable terrain. Heavy casualty is to be expected.”

The Imperial Spymaster then spoke after receiving a message from someone.

“An update from the front Sire. Twenty four hundred infidel troops have been spotted crossing the border to reinforce the enemy. There is a high possibility that this was an ambush to break the Legion's formation to disorientate our forces.”


This was dire news. Despite outnumbering the enemy over two to one, the unfavourable terrain conditions on top of an unexpected enemy reinforcement could jeopardise our success. Even if victory was assured, casualties would be high thus impacting the morale of our soldiers thus slow down or even halt the Reconquista which will no doubt de-stabilise the Empire. There were already a faction within the Senate to abandon the Reconquista against the infidels, but rather divert our resources to deal with the waning power of the Western Empire before the Western Pentarch, the Pope of Rome who has become distant from the rest of the Church, picked up the pieces.

Not sure what to do, I dismissed the Imperial Council. All of father's hard work will now be destroyed due to my incompetence. Historians will now regard me as the Emperor who brought the downfall of the Macedonian dynasty. Having nowhere else to turn to, I went to the Hagia Sophia to see if I could gain some inspiration. As I was admiring the Holy Icons, one of the priests approached me.

“Quite beautiful, aren't they? Your Majesty.”

“Indeed they are, Father. It is hard to believe that some of my predecessors tried to destroy these magnificent things.”

“I can understand the rationale, but it would have done injustice to the masses who can only comprehend the beauty of the Good News by sight should they have succeeded. The restoration of these Holy Icons is surely a sign that God wants us to appreciate his Word using all of our senses.”

“Justinian was an amazing man to be able to construct something this glorious for all of mankind. Perhaps I should do something of this magnitude to earn the favour from God also.”

“Forgive me, Your Majesty, but doing something like that will only feed your own vanity. Sure, the people will be mesmerised by your work, but God will not be pleased by it. Even the great King David was forbidden from building the House of God.”

“Then tell me Father, what should I do to have a peace of mind?”

“Trust God, Your Majesty. However, should feel the need to do something, start with something small, but without any ulterior motive. Let your worries be God's worries and do things that will please God for the sake of pleasing God.”

“Perhaps I should become a patron to someone who wishes to contribute towards this vast collection of Holy Icons?”

“Ah, that does not sound like a bad idea. In fact, one of my sons is an aspiring artist. No matter what I say to him, he refuses to even consider the priesthood which has been the tradition of our family since the time of my father and his father. However, he is devout and even now spends the majority of his time making Icons for worship.”

“Our meeting may have been a fate from God.”


While I was looking over the various Icons which this young artist had made, a messenger came into the room.

“Your Majesty, a miracle!”


No one knew what exactly happened in Melitene, but the most common story told was that when our troops were getting killed by hails of arrow while the enemy was comfortably entrenched in their positions, there was a giant landslide wiping them out. After seeing this, the incoming reinforcements retreated without even engaging our soldiers. Another rumour was that there was a giant lightning strike which caused the landslide and a booming voice telling the infidel soldiers to turn around lest they suffer the same fate.

Regardless, victory was ours.
Wow, a miracle indeed.