An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

The Plains of Nineveh
POWER!!! UNLIMITED...POWER!!!!

There, now that that is out of my system...



"If these two armies were to stand together rather than opposed, the three corners of the world in arms could not withstand them,"-Francisco de Miranda, Castilian ambassador to the Roman Empire, attached as military observer to the Army of Mesopotamia, in report to his sovereign dated October 14, 1622

1622 continued: It is first the turn of the cannons, two hundred and twenty two on the Roman side, one hundred and ninety nine on the Ottoman. Balls fly and men die. Despite the slight advantage to the Romans, neither side comes out of the exchange much better than the other although the Thracian tagma gets more than its fair share of fire.

Both Alexios and Iskandar commit their cavalry at the same time, the Romans trying to outflank the Ottoman right and the Ottomans the Roman left. The kataphraktoi bowl over the first line of sipahi lancers to stand against them but a quick response by Rajput horse curl around the Roman flank and hurl them back. By now the dust cloud thrown up by the thousands of hooves makes visibility practically nonexistent.

As a result the second line of Roman cavalry clobbers the Ottoman advance, driving them pell-mell back onto their infantry lines. Despite heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy though, the small victory has little impact. Some regrouping cavalry units, plus foot soldiers of the Shahsevan and the 22nd and 30th Janissary Ortas throw the Romans back, both sides collapsing into a battered stalemate. The failure of the cavalry also scotches any planned advance of the Akoimetoi who remain as an anchor behind which the horse can rally.

In the center a Roman attack spearheaded by the Varangoi and backed by the Thrakesians and tourmai from the Anatolikon overrun the Qizilbash garrison holding Bartella, an Assyrian Christian town that was supposed to be a redoubt defending Iskandar’s line. Any attempt though to advance beyond Bartella is repulsed with the support of furious Persian cannonades that also set the town alight.

Faced with a burning town, the Romans are unable to block a Persian counterattack and they are soon thrown out of Bartella. Feeding more troops into the fray, the Ottomans push on and after an intense firefight manage to take the small town of Bahzani, a mostly Yazidi settlement, seriously menacing the integrity of the Roman line. Immediately the Romans counterattack, retaking half of the town before grinding to a halt as Persian reserves arrive which then drive the Romans back again till they have but a toehold remaining. Then more Roman reinforcements arrive including units of the Athanatoi, ripping into the Ottomans with volleys reportedly at a rate of five rounds a minute (so is claimed) at the beginning of the attack.

Many of the Ottoman troops rout, fleeing this murderous blaze of unending fire. A few crack Qizilbash units manage to keep a toehold centered on the village church, a structure surprisingly resistant to light cannon fire, but dalnovzor-equipped officers can see Roman units pulling culverins into range.

But then to the equal surprise of the Qizilbash and the Romans, who are dangerously low on ammunition at this point due to some logistical mishaps, the Ottomans come charging back into the village. Credit to this goes to several dozen young Ottoman officers who have learned the art of war from the Shahanshah himself (the parallel with Andreas Niketas personally instructing promising upcoming officers such as Stefanos and Petros Doukas is obvious and most historians believe it to be a conscious imitation on Iskandar’s part). Rallying the routing men and plugging them in with more reinforcements, this last surge succeeds in driving the Romans out of Bahzani.

In contrast the Roman efforts are hampered by the heavy losses amongst their officer corps, partly because of the forward position of the junior officers and the ultimate arbiter of battle, luck. In the fray around Bahzani alone six tourmarches and eighteen droungarioi are killed and wounded, three of the tourmarches in one particularly nasty ten-minute stretch. The course of the wind here which generally blows the dust and smoke of battle in the Romans’ faces doesn’t help either.

Alexandros Drakos distinguishes himself in the firefight. In the initial attack, he and thirteen common soldiers were cut off in a house on the outskirts of town and he led the defense, beating back attacks by Ottoman forces outnumbering him at least ten to one. According to the troopers there with him, Alexandros personally killed nine Persians with his sword before the Roman counterattack reached them.

By the time the Romans are ready to try again, having brought up fresh men and more ammunition, the Ottomans are bringing up artillery into Bahzani to pummel the Roman left at close range while much to the annoyance of the Roman artillery, Bahzani is proving decidedly less flammable than Bartella. Alexios, concerned about the damage this could cause and wanting to concentrate on more promising sectors, decides to wheel his left wing back a little to a secondary line based on the ruins of Dur-Sharrukin. By refusing his left wing, he can pull some forces out and use them to launch an offensive along the line of the Tigris. Gunboats dueling with the Mosul garrison hit a powder magazine, a massive secondary explosion crippling the riverside defenses. An attack there, with support from the gunboats, could crack the Ottoman left, but Alexios needs the extra troops to make it work.

But the Akoimetoi plus three Chaldean tourmai, ensconced on Mount Alfaf, are to hold their position as a redoubt. It is a formidable position, too good to be given up, and their artillery there is inflicting incredible damage on the Ottoman right. There is a risk they might be isolated but before long the Romans should be pitching into the Ottoman left, drawing away their reserves. Plus any force moving to cut off the Akoimetoi would be faced by flanking attacks both from Alfaf and the refused Roman left, hardly an ideal prospect. That is assuming the Ottomans even notice; the dust clouds stirred up by the initial cavalry charge make visibility poor at best. (The wind here seems to be acting more like a proper neutral than at Bahzani.)

With the artillery of the Thrakesians, Macedonians, and Athanatoi keeping the Ottomans pinned from moving beyond Bahzani, the Roman left can make a clear and relatively unmolested withdrawal. But then the wind shifts, blowing to the west. The clouds of dirt and powder blow onto the Roman lines, squarely in their faces, whilst giving Iskandar a clear view of the activities on the Roman left. Now the only link between the main Roman line and the troops on Alfaf are a screen of cavalry, all horsemen blown from the initial cavalry battle. Throwing in his best Qizilbash and Shahsevan from the reserve, Iskandar punches through the screen and isolates the Romans on the mountain.

At the same time an Ottoman battery scores a lucky hit and explodes a Roman powder magazine behind the Roman right, sowing chaos in the area and seriously hampering the buildup to the planned attack. Reminded by his staff that the Kaisar is amongst the troops on Mount Alfaf (it is strongly believed by historians that he had honestly forgotten the Kaisar’s position when ordering the Akoimetoi to remain on the mountain) and with the planned reinforcements from the left still on his left, Alexios changes his plans. Perhaps he can cut off the Ottoman salient instead.

Alexios throws in his reserves while the Akoimetoi launch their own attack but there has been enough of a pause for the Ottomans to throw up rudimentary entrenchments. The fighting is contested hard, the battle seesawing back and forth, every inch paid for in piles of dead; it is afterwards known on both sides, somewhat inaccurately as the town is not involved, as the abattoir of Bahzani. The Romans seem to be on the verge of linking up and even pinching out the forward Ottoman units when a flanking force of Central Asian horse backed by Afghan infantry pile into the Akoimetoi from the east. They are hurled back with massive casualties but it stalls the Romans at a vital moment.

At this point Iskandar receives a crucial reinforcement, twenty five hundred Azabs recruited from the Adnanites, an Arab tribe living near Basra. It is not much but with both armies so tightly stretched, every little bit counts and all Roman reserves have been shunted to the abattoir. With the fresh Adnanites leading a charge along the shore of the Tigris, Iskandar manages to force the Roman right back slightly and draw some Romans away from the abattoir.

Then the Shah decides to commit the very last of his own reserves, his bodyguard unit itself, feeding them into the abattoir. Refreshed and with better odds (the Akoimetoi are still beating off the Afghans) the Ottomans are able to advance, driving the exhausted Romans out of Dur-Sharrukin although not before Alexandros kills another five Persians according to his comrades. Any attempt to counterattack is stopped by the onset of night, both armies too drained to fight on.

There is little rest though for the Ottomans though. The positions at Dur-Sharrukin and Bahzani are fortified and reinforced while more Ottoman troops work around to enclose Mount Alfaf from the east. Leo tries to break out in that direction but his troops get lost in the dark, briefly skirmishing with the Persian pickets, then withdraws back to his original post. While Alexios gears up for another attack at first light to relieve Leo, Iskandar again receives another crucial reinforcement.

Around midnight ten thousand Qizilbash march into camp. Like the Adnanites, they had been posted along the Persian Gulf coast to guard against Ethiopian/Omani attacks, but a week earlier at the battle of Rumaithiya a Triune fleet had annihilated an Ethiopian fleet and driven it up onto the shore where the crews were butchered by the waiting Ottoman soldiery. With the threat broken, they’d marched north to join the main Persian army.

These forces, split between Bahzani and Dur-Sharrukin, are vital to the Ottoman defense. Without them the Romans would’ve broken through and re-linked with the Akoimetoi. For three days the Romans on both sides attack the Persians but they manage to hold firm, although the casualties they suffer are massive. The Shah manages to hide the extent of his losses from the Romans by sneaking troops out in the night that ostentatiously ‘reinforce’ the Persian army during the day in full view of Roman sentries. From the Roman perspective, Iskandar has received close to twenty five thousand more men since the start of the battle. Finally, with powder and shot for his artillery running alarmingly low while war materials from the south come into Iskandar’s camp, Alexios is forced to retire back across the Tigris.

* * *
Mount Alfaf, the Plains of Nineveh, October 6, 1622:
The Ottomans were getting closer now, musket fire slashing up while their cannons pounded the line of the Akoimetoi. A pair of culverins sent balls whistling back. Ammunition was running low, both for cannons and muskets, but the artillery had clear views and plentiful targets anyway.

Odysseus chewed nervously on his lip. Stop that. He looked up at Andreas. Look like that. Odysseus was mounted on his pony behind the second infantry line, next to his cousin who sat atop his steed, looking over the Ottoman forces with his dalnovzor. “It’d be nice if he moved a little bit closer,” Andreas muttered. Odysseus didn’t need a dalnovzor to see the red pavilion that was the command tent of the Shahanshah himself.

Andreas put away the dalnovzor and flicked the reins, his horse starting into a trot down the lines. Odysseus followed. A cannonball slammed into the ground in front of them, sending dirt spraying as high up as Andreas’ eyes, his horse whinnying in dismay. Andreas took off his hat. “I’ll let you pass, good sir.”

Odysseus squinted at him. “Now you’re just showing off.”

Andreas mock-scowled at him. “Stop it. You’re ruining my moment.” He dismounted. Odysseus did the same. Andreas looked at the cannonball, and then looked over at a soldier heading over with a shovel. Perhaps one of their cannons would be sending the ball right back at the Persians. “One more chamber pot for the strategos coming up,” Andreas said as the man arrived.

“I heard that, eikosarchos!” Strategos Neokastrites’ face looked furious, but the big grin on his face said otherwise. “I’m never going to live that down, am I?”

“No, sir.” Andreas looked over at the Ottoman line, then suddenly grabbed Odysseus by the collar of the shirt to yank him to the side, his body pivoting to speed the process. Odysseus heard the crack of the musket ball slamming into Andreas’ breastplate, the ball that should’ve hit him. Andreas dropped Odysseus.

“Andreas!” he shouted, scrabbling up.

Andreas was sprawled on his back, groaning. “Oh, that hurt.”

Leo bent over the Kaisar, running his hands over the breastplate. “You’ve got a cracked plate, but it didn’t go through.”

“Hurts like hell,” Andreas muttered. He sit up, grimacing painfully.

“You’ve got a bruised rib at least, I’d guess,” Leo said.

“We’ve got a rider coming! Truce banner!” a soldier shouted.

Leo stood up. A moment later Andreas staggered to his feet, Odysseus helping him. “Can you mount?” Leo asked.

“Yes,” Andreas replied.

“Good. Join me.”

Andreas did manage to mount, although Odysseus had to give him a little push and noticed his cousin biting his lip in pain. Once he was on the horse though he seemed fine. Odysseus got on his pony and followed. Leo was on a slight promontory, surrounded by some of his staff and senior officers.

They arrived at the same time as the Persian envoy, a tall, slim man with a cropped beard but much longer moustache that curled around his cheeks over an inch past his lips. He was dressed in a long silk robe with silver filigree and gold rings on each of his fingers. Two troopers flanked him, one holding the banner of truce and the other a horsetail banner. From the number Odysseus guessed he was a Sanjakbey, equivalent to a Roman Kephale.

“Soldiers of Rhomania, you have fought well and gallantly,” the Bey said. “But your position is hopeless. There is no possibility of relief and you will soon run out of ammunition, food, water. It is time to end the struggle. Do not let your lives be wasted meaninglessly. Surrender and you will be treated well.”

Odysseus frowned. He knew the words were true. He’d heard that they’d run out of water by nightfall and fighting in the Syrian sun without that would be most unpleasant.

Leo spoke. “You speak truth, but I will not surrender to a mere pup. I will surrender, but only to the Shah.”

The Bey sputtered. “That is impossible! The Shah will not come to you! You must surrender to me if you want your lives to be spared.”

Leo drew his sword. “Do you see this blade, boy? When I was younger than you it was wet with blood from men who if they’d captured me would’ve eaten me raw. I am not impressed by your threats. Go tell your master I will only surrender to him. And also tell him that if he decides to not accept my terms and try and kill me instead, I am much more civilized than my first victims. I cook my foes before I eat them.” The Bey swallowed and turned around, whipping his horse into a gallop once he was decently far enough away.

Andreas looked at the strategos. “Would they really eat you raw?” he asked. He was referring to the cannibalistic head-hunters of Ceram and Halmahera who tended to eat shipwrecked sailors; reprisal expeditions were the common duty of soldiers posted in the east.

“Nah, they would’ve cooked me first, but that spoils the threat.” He paused for a moment. “But regardless, we are going to have to surrender.” He looked pointedly at the prince.

“I’m in no position for a hard gallop, and the Persians have this place locked down tight. And even if that weren’t so, I’m not going to abandon my post.”

Leo nodded. “Very well.” And the two of them looked out upon the vast dusty plains of Nineveh, seat of ancient empires. The Bey was headed straight for the red pavilion.
 
POWER!!! UNLIMITED...POWER!!!!

There, now that that is out of my system...



"If these two armies were to stand together rather than opposed, the three corners of the world in arms could not withstand them,"-Francisco de Miranda, Castilian ambassador to the Roman Empire, attached as military observer to the Army of Mesopotamia, in report to his sovereign dated October 14, 1622

1622 continued: It is first the turn of the cannons, two hundred and twenty two on the Roman side, one hundred and ninety nine on the Ottoman. Balls fly and men die. Despite the slight advantage to the Romans, neither side comes out of the exchange much better than the other although the Thracian tagma gets more than its fair share of fire.

Both Alexios and Iskandar commit their cavalry at the same time, the Romans trying to outflank the Ottoman right and the Ottomans the Roman left. The kataphraktoi bowl over the first line of sipahi lancers to stand against them but a quick response by Rajput horse curl around the Roman flank and hurl them back. By now the dust cloud thrown up by the thousands of hooves makes visibility practically nonexistent.

As a result the second line of Roman cavalry clobbers the Ottoman advance, driving them pell-mell back onto their infantry lines. Despite heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy though, the small victory has little impact. Some regrouping cavalry units, plus foot soldiers of the Shahsevan and the 22nd and 30th Janissary Ortas throw the Romans back, both sides collapsing into a battered stalemate. The failure of the cavalry also scotches any planned advance of the Akoimetoi who remain as an anchor behind which the horse can rally.

In the center a Roman attack spearheaded by the Varangoi and backed by the Thrakesians and tourmai from the Anatolikon overrun the Qizilbash garrison holding Bartella, an Assyrian Christian town that was supposed to be a redoubt defending Iskandar’s line. Any attempt though to advance beyond Bartella is repulsed with the support of furious Persian cannonades that also set the town alight.

Faced with a burning town, the Romans are unable to block a Persian counterattack and they are soon thrown out of Bartella. Feeding more troops into the fray, the Ottomans push on and after an intense firefight manage to take the small town of Bahzani, a mostly Yazidi settlement, seriously menacing the integrity of the Roman line. Immediately the Romans counterattack, retaking half of the town before grinding to a halt as Persian reserves arrive which then drive the Romans back again till they have but a toehold remaining. Then more Roman reinforcements arrive including units of the Athanatoi, ripping into the Ottomans with volleys reportedly at a rate of five rounds a minute (so is claimed) at the beginning of the attack.

Many of the Ottoman troops rout, fleeing this murderous blaze of unending fire. A few crack Qizilbash units manage to keep a toehold centered on the village church, a structure surprisingly resistant to light cannon fire, but dalnovzor-equipped officers can see Roman units pulling culverins into range.

But then to the equal surprise of the Qizilbash and the Romans, who are dangerously low on ammunition at this point due to some logistical mishaps, the Ottomans come charging back into the village. Credit to this goes to several dozen young Ottoman officers who have learned the art of war from the Shahanshah himself (the parallel with Andreas Niketas personally instructing promising upcoming officers such as Stefanos and Petros Doukas is obvious and most historians believe it to be a conscious imitation on Iskandar’s part). Rallying the routing men and plugging them in with more reinforcements, this last surge succeeds in driving the Romans out of Bahzani.

In contrast the Roman efforts are hampered by the heavy losses amongst their officer corps, partly because of the forward position of the junior officers and the ultimate arbiter of battle, luck. In the fray around Bahzani alone six tourmarches and eighteen droungarioi are killed and wounded, three of the tourmarches in one particularly nasty ten-minute stretch. The course of the wind here which generally blows the dust and smoke of battle in the Romans’ faces doesn’t help either.

Alexandros Drakos distinguishes himself in the firefight. In the initial attack, he and thirteen common soldiers were cut off in a house on the outskirts of town and he led the defense, beating back attacks by Ottoman forces outnumbering him at least ten to one. According to the troopers there with him, Alexandros personally killed nine Persians with his sword before the Roman counterattack reached them.

By the time the Romans are ready to try again, having brought up fresh men and more ammunition, the Ottomans are bringing up artillery into Bahzani to pummel the Roman left at close range while much to the annoyance of the Roman artillery, Bahzani is proving decidedly less flammable than Bartella. Alexios, concerned about the damage this could cause and wanting to concentrate on more promising sectors, decides to wheel his left wing back a little to a secondary line based on the ruins of Dur-Sharrukin. By refusing his left wing, he can pull some forces out and use them to launch an offensive along the line of the Tigris. Gunboats dueling with the Mosul garrison hit a powder magazine, a massive secondary explosion crippling the riverside defenses. An attack there, with support from the gunboats, could crack the Ottoman left, but Alexios needs the extra troops to make it work.

But the Akoimetoi plus three Chaldean tourmai, ensconced on Mount Alfaf, are to hold their position as a redoubt. It is a formidable position, too good to be given up, and their artillery there is inflicting incredible damage on the Ottoman right. There is a risk they might be isolated but before long the Romans should be pitching into the Ottoman left, drawing away their reserves. Plus any force moving to cut off the Akoimetoi would be faced by flanking attacks both from Alfaf and the refused Roman left, hardly an ideal prospect. That is assuming the Ottomans even notice; the dust clouds stirred up by the initial cavalry charge make visibility poor at best. (The wind here seems to be acting more like a proper neutral than at Bahzani.)

With the artillery of the Thrakesians, Macedonians, and Athanatoi keeping the Ottomans pinned from moving beyond Bahzani, the Roman left can make a clear and relatively unmolested withdrawal. But then the wind shifts, blowing to the west. The clouds of dirt and powder blow onto the Roman lines, squarely in their faces, whilst giving Iskandar a clear view of the activities on the Roman left. Now the only link between the main Roman line and the troops on Alfaf are a screen of cavalry, all horsemen blown from the initial cavalry battle. Throwing in his best Qizilbash and Shahsevan from the reserve, Iskandar punches through the screen and isolates the Romans on the mountain.

At the same time an Ottoman battery scores a lucky hit and explodes a Roman powder magazine behind the Roman right, sowing chaos in the area and seriously hampering the buildup to the planned attack. Reminded by his staff that the Kaisar is amongst the troops on Mount Alfaf (it is strongly believed by historians that he had honestly forgotten the Kaisar’s position when ordering the Akoimetoi to remain on the mountain) and with the planned reinforcements from the left still on his left, Alexios changes his plans. Perhaps he can cut off the Ottoman salient instead.

Alexios throws in his reserves while the Akoimetoi launch their own attack but there has been enough of a pause for the Ottomans to throw up rudimentary entrenchments. The fighting is contested hard, the battle seesawing back and forth, every inch paid for in piles of dead; it is afterwards known on both sides, somewhat inaccurately as the town is not involved, as the abattoir of Bahzani. The Romans seem to be on the verge of linking up and even pinching out the forward Ottoman units when a flanking force of Central Asian horse backed by Afghan infantry pile into the Akoimetoi from the east. They are hurled back with massive casualties but it stalls the Romans at a vital moment.

At this point Iskandar receives a crucial reinforcement, twenty five hundred Azabs recruited from the Adnanites, an Arab tribe living near Basra. It is not much but with both armies so tightly stretched, every little bit counts and all Roman reserves have been shunted to the abattoir. With the fresh Adnanites leading a charge along the shore of the Tigris, Iskandar manages to force the Roman right back slightly and draw some Romans away from the abattoir.

Then the Shah decides to commit the very last of his own reserves, his bodyguard unit itself, feeding them into the abattoir. Refreshed and with better odds (the Akoimetoi are still beating off the Afghans) the Ottomans are able to advance, driving the exhausted Romans out of Dur-Sharrukin although not before Alexandros kills another five Persians according to his comrades. Any attempt to counterattack is stopped by the onset of night, both armies too drained to fight on.

There is little rest though for the Ottomans though. The positions at Dur-Sharrukin and Bahzani are fortified and reinforced while more Ottoman troops work around to enclose Mount Alfaf from the east. Leo tries to break out in that direction but his troops get lost in the dark, briefly skirmishing with the Persian pickets, then withdraws back to his original post. While Alexios gears up for another attack at first light to relieve Leo, Iskandar again receives another crucial reinforcement.

Around midnight ten thousand Qizilbash march into camp. Like the Adnanites, they had been posted along the Persian Gulf coast to guard against Ethiopian/Omani attacks, but a week earlier at the battle of Rumaithiya a Triune fleet had annihilated an Ethiopian fleet and driven it up onto the shore where the crews were butchered by the waiting Ottoman soldiery. With the threat broken, they’d marched north to join the main Persian army.

These forces, split between Bahzani and Dur-Sharrukin, are vital to the Ottoman defense. Without them the Romans would’ve broken through and re-linked with the Akoimetoi. For three days the Romans on both sides attack the Persians but they manage to hold firm, although the casualties they suffer are massive. The Shah manages to hide the extent of his losses from the Romans by sneaking troops out in the night that ostentatiously ‘reinforce’ the Persian army during the day in full view of Roman sentries. From the Roman perspective, Iskandar has received close to twenty five thousand more men since the start of the battle. Finally, with powder and shot for his artillery running alarmingly low while war materials from the south come into Iskandar’s camp, Alexios is forced to retire back across the Tigris.

* * *
Mount Alfaf, the Plains of Nineveh, October 6, 1622:
The Ottomans were getting closer now, musket fire slashing up while their cannons pounded the line of the Akoimetoi. A pair of culverins sent balls whistling back. Ammunition was running low, both for cannons and muskets, but the artillery had clear views and plentiful targets anyway.

Odysseus chewed nervously on his lip. Stop that. He looked up at Andreas. Look like that. Odysseus was mounted on his pony behind the second infantry line, next to his cousin who sat atop his steed, looking over the Ottoman forces with his dalnovzor. “It’d be nice if he moved a little bit closer,” Andreas muttered. Odysseus didn’t need a dalnovzor to see the red pavilion that was the command tent of the Shahanshah himself.

Andreas put away the dalnovzor and flicked the reins, his horse starting into a trot down the lines. Odysseus followed. A cannonball slammed into the ground in front of them, sending dirt spraying as high up as Andreas’ eyes, his horse whinnying in dismay. Andreas took off his hat. “I’ll let you pass, good sir.”

Odysseus squinted at him. “Now you’re just showing off.”

Andreas mock-scowled at him. “Stop it. You’re ruining my moment.” He dismounted. Odysseus did the same. Andreas looked at the cannonball, and then looked over at a soldier heading over with a shovel. Perhaps one of their cannons would be sending the ball right back at the Persians. “One more chamber pot for the strategos coming up,” Andreas said as the man arrived.

“I heard that, eikosarchos!” Strategos Neokastrites’ face looked furious, but the big grin on his face said otherwise. “I’m never going to live that down, am I?”

“No, sir.” Andreas looked over at the Ottoman line, then suddenly grabbed Odysseus by the collar of the shirt to yank him to the side, his body pivoting to speed the process. Odysseus heard the crack of the musket ball slamming into Andreas’ breastplate, the ball that should’ve hit him. Andreas dropped Odysseus.

“Andreas!” he shouted, scrabbling up.

Andreas was sprawled on his back, groaning. “Oh, that hurt.”

Leo bent over the Kaisar, running his hands over the breastplate. “You’ve got a cracked plate, but it didn’t go through.”

“Hurts like hell,” Andreas muttered. He sit up, grimacing painfully.

“You’ve got a bruised rib at least, I’d guess,” Leo said.

“We’ve got a rider coming! Truce banner!” a soldier shouted.

Leo stood up. A moment later Andreas staggered to his feet, Odysseus helping him. “Can you mount?” Leo asked.

“Yes,” Andreas replied.

“Good. Join me.”

Andreas did manage to mount, although Odysseus had to give him a little push and noticed his cousin biting his lip in pain. Once he was on the horse though he seemed fine. Odysseus got on his pony and followed. Leo was on a slight promontory, surrounded by some of his staff and senior officers.

They arrived at the same time as the Persian envoy, a tall, slim man with a cropped beard but much longer moustache that curled around his cheeks over an inch past his lips. He was dressed in a long silk robe with silver filigree and gold rings on each of his fingers. Two troopers flanked him, one holding the banner of truce and the other a horsetail banner. From the number Odysseus guessed he was a Sanjakbey, equivalent to a Roman Kephale.

“Soldiers of Rhomania, you have fought well and gallantly,” the Bey said. “But your position is hopeless. There is no possibility of relief and you will soon run out of ammunition, food, water. It is time to end the struggle. Do not let your lives be wasted meaninglessly. Surrender and you will be treated well.”

Odysseus frowned. He knew the words were true. He’d heard that they’d run out of water by nightfall and fighting in the Syrian sun without that would be most unpleasant.

Leo spoke. “You speak truth, but I will not surrender to a mere pup. I will surrender, but only to the Shah.”

The Bey sputtered. “That is impossible! The Shah will not come to you! You must surrender to me if you want your lives to be spared.”

Leo drew his sword. “Do you see this blade, boy? When I was younger than you it was wet with blood from men who if they’d captured me would’ve eaten me raw. I am not impressed by your threats. Go tell your master I will only surrender to him. And also tell him that if he decides to not accept my terms and try and kill me instead, I am much more civilized than my first victims. I cook my foes before I eat them.” The Bey swallowed and turned around, whipping his horse into a gallop once he was decently far enough away.

Andreas looked at the strategos. “Would they really eat you raw?” he asked. He was referring to the cannibalistic head-hunters of Ceram and Halmahera who tended to eat shipwrecked sailors; reprisal expeditions were the common duty of soldiers posted in the east.

“Nah, they would’ve cooked me first, but that spoils the threat.” He paused for a moment. “But regardless, we are going to have to surrender.” He looked pointedly at the prince.

“I’m in no position for a hard gallop, and the Persians have this place locked down tight. And even if that weren’t so, I’m not going to abandon my post.”

Leo nodded. “Very well.” And the two of them looked out upon the vast dusty plains of Nineveh, seat of ancient empires. The Bey was headed straight for the red pavilion.
Epic. Just epic.
 
Iskander really is his generation's Andreas Niketas isn't he? At this rate the Romans would probably be better off waiting for Iskander to die from old age before they fight the Ottomans again.
 
So unless a Roman miracle happens Iskander has beaten the Romans because of logistics and superior officer training, areas in which the Romans were supposed to be superior. I'm assuming the Romans still have naval superiority on the Tigris so is there still any hope that last minute reinforcements (additional Tagmata or even Egyptian?) may be enough to at least force the Persians to a stalemate?
 
damn, Iskandar has had enough fucking lucky breaks already, there really needs to be some kind of equalizing coming soon, all this Rhomania-pumelling is starting to get a bit old. Nonetheless, the chapter truly was epic.:biggrin:
 
Everyone's focused on Iskander (I'm tired of all this winning as well) but it's pretty major news that the Triunes have a sizable fleet in the PERSIAN GULF, are the Roman or Oman navies aware of this and moving to intercept? It's a huge threat to all parties in the east.
 
Everyone's focused on Iskander (I'm tired of all this winning as well) but it's pretty major news that the Triunes have a sizable fleet in the PERSIAN GULF, are the Roman or Oman navies aware of this and moving to intercept? It's a huge threat to all parties in the east.
That's a good point, have the Triunes started colonising parts of India or SEA yet? Would the Portuguese be open to working with the Romans to drive them back? Since everyone hates the Triunes.
 
And I'm guessing there is a reason Leo asked for him in person. For that matter the battle isn't over yet. For the past few days the Greeks and the Persians are killing each other off for a single position on the line and the Persians have had all the reinforcements they could, maybe. Logic says the imperial army has at least some detachments to its rear and that Gabras ordered them to march to the sound of the guns.

I am guessing he will live for a few decades still.
 
Maybe Leo will sacrifice is life and that of his retainers (extremely unlikely considering Odysseus and Andreas are some of them) to murder the Shahanshah!
 
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