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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

The Yogi

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KNIGHTS OF THE WESTERN EMPIRE

Ilici, Hispania
Western Roman Empire
Anno Domini 461

”The successor of Avitus presents the welcome discovery of a great and heroic character, such as sometimes arise, in a degenerate age, to vindicate the honor of the human species.”
-Gibbon, The Decline of the Roman Empire

”Majorian equalled the spirit and perseverance of the ancient Romans. The woods of the Apennine were felled; the arsenals and manufactures of Ravenna and Misenum were restored; Italy and Gaul vied with each other in liberal contributions to the public service; and the Imperial navy of three hundred large galleys, with an adequate proportion of transports and smaller vessels, was collected in the secure and capacious harbour of Ilici in Hispania.”
-Gibbon, The Decline of the Roman Empire


Julius Valerius Majorianus; Augustus, Caesar, Imperator, three times Consul; former Magister Militium of the Western Empire; former Magister Equitium to Flavius Aetius; conqueror of the Burgundii, the Visigothii and the Suevii; he was all those things, and more: he was the last, best hope of the crumbling Western Empire and what was worse, he knew it.

On nights such as this, when the apprehension before the coming battle came upon him, Julius wished desperately that he had been born in an earlier, happier time when even a disaster for the arms of Rome would have meant little more than his personal ruin – in a perverse way, he envied Publius Quinctilius Varus, who when all hope was lost could fall on his sword knowing that would be the end of it. Julius Majorianus would never dare to do that, for what would then happen to beloved, ancient and decrepit Roma Mater who depended so desperatly on the protective sword and inspired leadership of her First Son… no, he’d never desert her, not while there was life in his body, because he knew only too well the fate that awaited her in his absecence: the heartless ministrations of the Patrician Ricimer; his old friend Ricimer, the barbarian Magister Militium and, through his control of the barbarian-dominated army, the real power between Majorianus’s throne. He had been a good friend since the years they served together under Aetius and was not a bad sort, at least not any worse than many Romans that had been held in the highest honours. The great Aetius himself had been a ruthless schemer, far more so than good old Ricimer. No, the Patrician wasn’t the worst ruler Rome could have had, by far, but he did not love her.

For Julius, as it had been for Aetius, to rule was to always look for ways to restore her ailing health and bring back her old glory. For Ricimer, it meant only to further his own (and to be fair, also Majorianus’s) power and position. They had had endless arguments over that; Ricimer could never understand why his friend insisted on passing laws against the many forms of abuse of power and corruption through which the elite of Roman society enriched itself at the expense of the ordinary tax-crushed and opressed citizen. In his mind, that only served to turn those very elites against their rule. Furthermore, state income (which Ricimer equated with his and Majorianus’s own) depended on how much the tax collectors felt they could part with to be sure to avoid the scrutiny of a quaestor. Curtailing their depradations would only rob the Imperial coffers of desperately needed funds. So far, Ricimer had grudgingly accepted Julius’s claims that his reforms would eventually bring about an increase in tax revenue and in the meantime, the coffers would be filled with the loot and tributes payed by the defeated barbarian kingdoms formerly federated to Rome – first the Burgundians, then the Visigoths and finally, with Visigothic help, the Sueves of northwestern Hispania. All brought to heel and forced to swear fealty once more to the Western Empire as Foederatii.

Julius closed his eyes for an instant and tried to clear his mind of the worries of Government before opening them again, determined to enjoy the moment, knowing that he needed to relax if he was to function at his peak in the coming days. His present surroundings were pleasant enough: Oil lamps and torches spread a warm yellow light over the colourful mosaics of floor and wall, the wine in his golden cup was the best to be found in a region famed for its reds and the balmy night outside was bejewelled with the myriad of shining lights of the city of Ilici. A warm wind flowed in through the open arches of the Governor’s villa to caress Julius’s face like the hands of a lover. It carried the sweet, spicy fragrance of rockrose, wild thyme and rosemary along with the salty moisture from the sea. Once, it had been the Mare Nostrum, but no more…

With a sigh, Julius realised he had managed to spoil the mood for himself - again. For the sea that the Romans had called their own now belonged to Gaeseric, King of the Vandals and defiler of Rome. Only six years back, the Vandal horde had sacked the city on the seven hills, leaving her impoverished and bitterly reminiscent of happier days, when the world had trembled before her legions. Avenging that rape was Julius’s business now, and the reason why he had assembled a mighty fleet of three hundred warships in the harbour of Ilici, and why his armies, along with those of his now loyal ally Theoderic II of the Visigoths were camped outside the walls of the city. Majorianus was determined to put an end to the Vandal threat to Italy once and for all, and recover the rich African provinces with their abundant grain for Rome. This time, there would not be any offers to accept a role as foederatii – the Vandals, along with their King and Kingdom were to be annihilated. Only then, with Africa, Libya, Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily back under Roman rule would the shame of Rome be avenged and her glory somewhat restored.
 
Last edited:

unmerged(23409)

LevePalestinaKrossaSionis men
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NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

What's going to happen to The Eagle and the Lion, Yogi? :(
 

Lucius Sulla

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This has me quite intrigued... I wonder where he will begin... certainly I don't remember a mod that would begin at the Vth century :D.

Still, this will be worth following for sure.
 

The Yogi

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The Gonzo said:
NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

What's going to happen to The Eagle and the Lion, Yogi? :(
Don't worry: this will be a fifth priority project. It will be updated only when irrepressible inspiration comes over me, which would in any event prevent me from doing any good work on TEATL or EoFM.


Lucius Sulla said:
This has me quite intrigued... I wonder where he will begin... certainly I don't remember a mod that would begin at the Vth century :D.

Still, this will be worth following for sure.
With the approval of the mods, this will be the back story for a mod that doesn't exist - yet. Hopefully it will inspire someone with modding skills. In other words, it's a flight of fancy, not a propper AAR.
 

Nikolai

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Interesting.:) Are you going to mod something yourself, or do you wait for somebody else to do it all, btw?:p
 

cthulhu

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The Yogi said:
This time, there would not be any offers to accept a role as foederatii – the Vandals, along with their King and Kingdom were to be annihilated. Only then, with Africa, Libya, Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily back under Roman rule would the shame of Rome be avenged and her glory somewhat restored.
Damn strait! Show those barbarians that Rome is still powerful! :cool:


The Gonzo said:
NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
The way all writers want their work to be received. :rofl:
 

stnylan

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Feeling sympathetic for Majorian, whatever next? ;)
 

coz1

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A new AAR, The Yogi. And for a game not yet modded too. Interesting, and good start.
 

The Yogi

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Nikolai: Nop, not doing any modding myself. I wouldn't even begin to know how to mod CK.

cthulhu: :)

stnylan: Next comes treason! ;)

coz1: Thanx for reading!
 

The Yogi

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Off the coast of Hispania
Mare Nostrum
Anno Domini 461



”The king of the Vandals distrusted the valour of his native subjects, who were enervated by the luxury of the South; he suspected the fidelity of the vanquished people, who abhorred him as an Arian tyrant; and the desperate measure, which he executed, of reducing Mauritania into a desert, could not defeat the operations of the Roman emperor, who was at liberty to land his troops on any part of the African coast. But Gaeseric still hoped to save himself from impending and inevitable ruin by the treachery of some powerful subjects, envious, or apprehensive, of their master's success.”
-Gibbon, The Decline of the Roman Empire


Titus Aetrius was pacing up and down the deck of the merchantman his father’s gold had hired. He was not yet twenty years old, with the olive-grey complexion typical of the Roman senatorial class, which didn’t spend enough time out in the sun to be baked as brown as their race brethren of the lower social classes. His dark curls were carefully arranged and his embryonic beard well groomed (not by himself, of course). The cloak hanging from his shoulders was deep red, adorned with thread of gold and lined with silk, and a golden clasp held it in place. His belt was burdened only with gold, not by the weight of a sword – in fact, he hadn’t held a sword in his life. That was for the family bucelaari, of which unfortunately, at present none was with him. He was in most ways a typical representative of the younger generation of Roman nobility; in most ways, but not in all. The reason why he was pacing the decks of a merchantman out at sea after dark near the Pillars of Hercules was the main difference between Titus and the spoiled youngsters that he considered his friends.

It was already near sundown, and the lights of Ilici had not been spotted yet, despite the assurances of the captain that they would reach their destination that very night. Desperate with haste and frustration, he stormed back to the aft castle of the ship.

‘Captain! You promised me that we would reach Ilici tonight!’

The captain, in his late forties and worn by experience and weather, sighed. They had had similar discussions more than once during the journey from Rome.

‘I did no such thing, young Sir. I just said I believed we would reach Ilici before sundown. Believe, Sir. An assessment, nothing more, and besides it’s not night yet, is it?’

Titus groaned and threw his hands into the air. He would have jumped up and down with impatience if he hadn’t thought it would look ridiculous. An Aetrius or not, he still was as self-conscious as most boys of his age.

‘Young Sir, please, go down to your cabin and rest, or if it’s to stuffy for you, sit down on the foredeck and have a glass of wine, I will have a chair put there for you. I will tell you as soon as we spot land – but you must stop getting in the way of me and my crew! Please, young Sir!’

Titus snorted in exasperation. ‘Captain, you have no idea how important this journey is! Believe me when I say every moment of delay could have disastrous consequences. Put on more sail – I don’t care if we break the mast – but get us to Ilici!’

The captain rolled his eyes. ‘So you keep telling me, young Sir… now, if you please. Please!’

‘All right, all right. I’m going. I’ll take that wine, by the way.’

As he climbed down from the aft deck, Titus saw the sun begin to sink behind the western horizon, were the black band which was the coast of Hispania would reach the Pillars of Hercules. And then there was a shout.

‘Sails ahead!’

The lookout scurried down from the mast top and ran past Titus without giving him a second glance. He looked frightened. Titus decided to follow him to hear what he had to report to the Captain.

‘Captain! Sails, many sails! It’s a fleet of warships!’

‘A fleet? How many? Speak out, man!’ the Captain demanded.

‘I don’t know exactly, they… they’re… hundreds.’

The Captain sighed. ‘What are they doing? Are they sailing south?’

The lookout shook his head. ‘No, Captain. They’re pointed north, but they’re just sitting there, I think they’re anchored.’

‘Christ protect us!’ the Captain said, crossing himself. ‘That can only be the Vandal fleet! It seems old King Gaeseric isn’t going to roll over and die quietly after all – well, never mind, the Emperor will deal with the barbarian scum, no doubt. And I’m not going to sail into a war, no matter how hurried you think you are, young Sir. Turn her around!’

‘NO!’ Titus screamed. ‘No, we must go on!’ There was such urgency in his voice that the captain frowned and studied the lad, who was apparently on the brink of panic.

‘Right through the Vandal fleet? I think not!’

‘But… but… the Vandals… they will surprise our fleet in port if we don’t warn them!’

A small group of crew had formed around the Captain and Titus, and now they burst out into laughter, the Captain included.

‘Young Sir, are you one of the Emperor’s generals now? No? Well, if you were, you’d know that the fleet is sure to have pickets out, they’re equipped with torches to warn guards in port who’ll sound the alarm! I know, I sailed with a picket ship myself when I was young and serving with the fleet in Aquileia.’

‘They won’t sound the alarm, because the soldiers that are supposed to sound it have been bribed!’

The laughter stopped as if someone had simultaneously slapped every member of the group of sailors.

‘What?!’ roared the Captain. ‘How would you know that?!’

Titus looked uncomfortable but realised he had to give some sort of answer. ‘A… group of Senators in Rome have been plotting with the Patrician Ricimer to overthrow the Emperor, beginning by betraying him to the Vandals!’

‘Christ on a cross! How?’

‘Men loyal to Ricimer abound in the Emperor’s army! Most of the soldiers…’

‘…are barbarian mercenaries, I know. But you still haven’t answered my question; how do you know anything of this?’ There was menace filtering into the captain’s voice – he didn’t like being played for a fool, and had no intention of sailing his ship into a battle waiting to happen if he could help it.

‘My father…’

‘Ah no! Even if Senator Aetrius might well have learnt of such a plot, having the connections that he has, he would never EVER in a million years send his whelp of a son to prevent it! Not when he has a small army of Bucelarii idle. Sorry lad, but your story just doesn’t hold up! Rudder; carry on! Take us away from this mess!’

‘Wait! You’re right, Captain, he wouldn’t. And he didn’t. The reason I’m going to Ilici myself to warn Emperor Majorianus is because my father didn’t just learn of the plot… he’s part of it.’
 
Last edited:

Lurken

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*bows down to one of the great masters of AAR-writing*

But how can a man write a AAR, without playing a game? Or will it become a heavily-modded game later on?
 

Nikolai

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I think we are to see this AAR as a vision on how a scenario setup might be. And a good one at that! Ain't that right, Yogi?:)
 

stnylan

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Nothing is quite as a dangerous as a young man with a concsience.
 

unmerged(33638)

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A concsience or just greed for a reward?

Great stuff as usual Yogi
 

Alhazen

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Very intriguing, I'll certainly be watching this one.
 

Pirate Z

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Oh my, a Yogi CK AAR!

*subcribes*
 

coz1

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Taking a stand against his own father. An interesting turn. Nice interplay between him and the Captain.
 

The Yogi

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bigdan, Alhazen, Pirate Z, coz1: Thanks!

Lurken, Nikolai: Yeah, you can consider this the back story of a mod that isn't, if that makes any sense to you...

stnylan, BBBD: Indeed, and time will tell.
 

The Yogi

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Ilici, Hispania
Western Roman Empire
Anno Domini 461



"Majorianus even attempted to cross over to Libya with a great force, after he had collected about three hundred ships. The ruler of the Vandals first sent envoys to him to resolve the disagreements by diplomacy. When the emperor was not persuaded, he laid waste all the land of the Moors to which Majorian and his troops had to cross from Spain and harassed the surrounding waters.”
-Priscus


In order to get around the Vandal fleet undetected, it had been necessary to hug the coast far to closely, in the quickly falling darkness, for the captains comfort, but they hadn’t been crushed against some submerged rock and reached the port city of Ilici undetected. The deep and well-protected harbour was bursting with hundreds of Roman warships, mostly of the lighter Liburna type, similar to the triremes of old, that had replaced the huge Quinquremes since the days of Constantine the Great. Small and manoeuvrable, they were the mainstay of all the fleets of the Mediterranean these days. There were also many smaller ships for scouting and patrol duties and also dozens of the great bulky transport ships that would carry the Roman and Visigothic armies to Africa.

As soon as he set foot on the quay of the harbour, Titus was detained and questioned by soldiers who were Roman only in accoutrement and inside their purses: their German accent, full-grown beards and long hair were all barbarian. Their Roman armour, shields and weapons seemed somehow out of place on these long, blonde and powerfully built men – and these were among the few remaining regular Comitatenses, not mercenary troops! Those heterogeneous masses of Herulians, Gepids, Goths, Allemanns, Suevians, Burgundians, Franks and members of every other tribe, small or great that Germania had produced, were kept outside of the walls of the city, which was probably for the better.

With judicious use of his name and of assurances that he had vital information for the Imperator (within the army, that martial title was more commonly used than the theoretically higher Augustus), Titus was quickly brought to the Governors villa sitting atop the highest hill of Ilici where Majorianus had set up his headquarters. Once there he had to insist most strenuously that his information could not wait another minute, no matter what the Imperator was doing. Still, it was only after he had made clear that the blame for a coming disaster would fall squarely on the shoulders of anyone stopping him that he was finally brought before the Emperor’s presence.

The Augustus Julius Majorianus received his young guest in the top storey of the villa, which as an allowance to the hot climate of southern Hispania was mostly without walls. Instead man-high arches left the room open to the southern winds which were heated by the shimmering oven that was Mauretania and hardly cooled by the brief crossing of the separating sea.

The Imperator was sitting at small table made of various exotic woods, which were arranged in small pieces to form geometric patterns. His chair, although not a throne in shape, was gilded like one. He turned towards the young man between the two soldiers of his household guard which were dressed like himself in Imperial purple. One of them grunted a reminder to the wide-eyed youth, who immediately threw himself on the floor before his Emperor. Majorianus made a face of impatience.

‘Fine, fine. On your feet, boy. What do you want that cannot wait… until tomorrow?’

There was a slight fuzziness to his words which Titus couldn’t at first identify. As he climbed to his feet, he was finally able to get a good look on his sovereign. Majorianus was in his forties, with just a hint of silver at his temples and otherwise black hair cropped short in the military fashion. Like most Romans, his oval, surprisingly ordinary-looking face was shaved clean. Where Titus would have expected sharp aquiline factions, the dramatic face of a hero larger than life, Majorianus could have passed for the local baker of any neighbourhood. Suddenly the stories about the Emperor having visited the court of Gaesaeric in Carthago to spy, under the pretence of being his own ambassador sounded more believable than ever before. But there was something wrong with Majorianus’s eyes, which seemed barely open enough for him to see.

A somewhat silly smile curved the Imperator’s lips, a smile with no apparent reason. Suddenly putting all the symptoms together, Titus realized that the Emperor was more than slightly drunk. His heart sank in his chest. Was this his hero, which he had betrayed his own family to serve? An ordinary-looking drunkard? Still, he had come this far and would not turn back just because the Imperator was not up to the impossibly high standards set by his boyish hero-worship. Too much was at stake for that.

‘Imperator! I am Titus Aetrius, son of Senator Lucius Aetrius, and I come with a warning for you!’

‘A warning! Hee hee. Very well, boy, let’ss… hear it!

Titus told him. To his credit, Majorianus sobered up faster than seemed humanly possible.

***​

King Gaeseric the Lame was well past his seventieth year but belying the derogative name bestowed upon him by his Roman enemies, he stood straight on the bow deck of his great flagship, clad in black armour and a red cloak. A dense grey beard and mane of hair framed his wrinkled factions and his blue eyes shone with martial fire as he watched his ships close in on the harbour of Ilici, where the fate of his Kingdom and of his people hung in the balance. The city was quiet – no alarm had been sounded and the quays were still. The plan was working, just as Ricimer’s envoy had assured him it would.

Even though the great chain at the harbour entrance was lowered, Gaeseric did not at first send his fleet into the harbour to wreck havoc on the Roman fleet anchored there. Never one to take unnecessary risks, he had ordered his warriors to secure the towers flanking the harbour entrance (from which the chain was raised or lowered) first, to make sure his ships would be able to escape if the Roman reaction proved too vigorous. Unnervingly, the towers were secured without a fight.

‘I don’t like it!’ muttered the king, nervously hefting his great battle axe. ‘Majorianus would never leave those towers undefended. Even he isn’t that cocky. What do you think, Hlodovec?’

‘The Romans have often proved to be weaker and more stupid than we ever thought possible!’ the Vandal noble, great-nephew to the King answered. Like Gaeseric, he wore a red cloak over his scale armour, but where the Kings was painted a dull black and worn with use, the nobleman’s was glittering with silver. His axe was just as deadly-looking as the King’s though.

‘If they were as weak as you say, I wouldn’t have been begging their Emperor for peace for the last few months, would I? Don’t forget they’re still rich enough to hire real men to fight for them – and the Visigoths have submitted to Majorianus. The same Visigoths that drove us from these lands when I was young and you not yet born!’

Hlodovec shook his head. ‘Well, what’s your point, my King? Do you want to recall the warriors and sail home? Look, we’re just beginning to land troops in the harbour…’

‘No, no. This is our chance. We must destroy the Roman fleet tonight, or we’ll see it anchored outside of Carthago before long. But be ready for anything, that’s all.’

A dozen Vandal ships had entered the harbour basin and hundreds of warriors were already on the quays, readying torches and casks of pitch, when “anything” happened.

A dozen balls of flame shot into the sky from the citadel overlooking the harbour, traced parabolas of fiery light aimed at the closely packed ships of the Vandal fleet massed outside of the harbour entrance.

‘Catapults!’ whispered Gaeseric, livid with terror, before screaming ‘Damn Majorianus’s black soul, the Roman dog has set a trap for us!’

Four ships took direct hits from the first salvo and exploded in cascades of splintered wood, flaming debris and spraying water. Several others were dismasted as the heavy projectiles crashed through their rigging, setting it on fire as they passed through. Were the catapults missed their marks, huge fountains of water towered above the Vandal Liburnaes.

Meanwhile, a screaming host of Roman legionaries and Visigothic warriors burst out of the streets and alleys surrounding the harbour, and from the holds of many of the moored Roman warships, crewmen poured out, preparing their ships for battle.

Gaeseric was torn for an instant between his thirst for blood and his considerable ability as a military leader. The barbarian in him wanted nothing more than ordering a general attack, join his men in the harbour and either fight his way out with them or go down killing as many Romans as possible. He was older already than he had ever expected to be, and today might well be his last chance for a heroic end, one that the bards would sing about. But Gaeseric the Captain, the General, the leader of men knew that this battle was already lost, and the men ashore were already dead. All he could do was cut his losses and hope to fight under more favourable conditions another day.

Hlodovec was leaning over the railing of the ship, shaking his axe and screaming his defiance when the King gently touched his shoulder.

‘My King?’

‘Call the retreat, Hlodovec. We can do no more here.’

The young warrior shook his head fiercly. ‘No, no, my King! The men in the harbour! We can still…’

‘No! No! They’re lost, Hlodovec, all of them. We can’t help them, only die with them, and then what will happen to your wife, your sons… my grandchildren? They’re in Carthago now, with just a handful of old warriors to guard them. If we die today… who will defend them when the Romans invade… or rebel?’

As another salvo of flaming catapult projectiles crashed into the confused mass of ships that was the Vandal fleet, the madness of battle slowly left Hlodovecs eyes. ‘Yes… yes, of course, my King. As you command!’

As the horns called out to the fleet to put to sea and disperse, Gaeseric saluted the citadel with his battleaxe, certain that Majorianus was up there, directing the battle. He had no doubt he would meet the Roman Emperor again, face to face. Like last time, it would be in Carthago.
 
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