Tarius stood on the mast of the Imperial Flagship and stared out into the ocean. He could see the port city of Lavern in the distance. A thousand imperial battleships followed. They would be arriving in Gillia soon.
“Captain!” he shouted. A fully steel-clad warrior, wearing a black tabard with the imperial crest stitched on the front, stood at attention behind him.
“We will be arriving in Lavern shortly. I want twenty thousand warriors and battle mages ready to march toward Fiondan as soon as we arrive.”
“Yes, Lord General! If I may be so bold my lord…”
“What is it, captain?”
“Will we not be visiting the royal capital-“
“There is no need. We will invade with twenty thousand strong. General Marcus is now regent of Gillia. He needs to restore order. We will not pester him for reinforcements.”
The captain bowed obediently and went off to shout orders at his charges.
The last thing he wanted to do was to request aid from that venomous serpent that had slithered his way into the imperial court. Once this campaign was over, something would need to be done about him.
Two hours later, the imperial fleet had finally docked at the port. The citizens watched in awe as thousands of imperial soldiers marched into the city from their ships. The sound of steel clanking on the cobbled ground sent tremors throughout the city.
Tarius watched from the mast of the flagship. The might of the empire was an intimidating sight to behold, he thought. His admiration of the Gillian knights had renewed itself as he remembered how they threw themselves against the might of the empire without even flinching.
The High-General of the Yasida Imperial Legions, Tarius Gilises, rode through the city on his black-armoured war horse followed by twenty imperial bodyguards. As he reached the city gate, an imperial captain had ridden up to him and saluted.
“Lord General! The legion awaits! For the Empire!”
“For the Empire!”
Tarius rode out through the northern gate with his entourage following close behind. He followed the captain up a muddy path that led to the top of a steep hill overlooking a vast valley outside of the port city. It was the very same battleground that he and the imperial legions had made first contact with the bulk of the Gillian Knights.
Now, instead of a host of Gillian Knights, the valley was a sea of steel. Twenty thousand Imperial soldiers, mages, and officers stood at attention as he trotted to the very top of the hill.
Tarius allowed his gaze to wander over the battle-hardened and well-equipped army that lay before him. There was complete and utter silence as the army awaited for their General to speak.
Tarius cleared his throat and raised his chest “Legionnaires of the Empire!” He boomed “The tiny kingdom of Fiondan has forced our hand! Today we march on their lands to show them the error of their folly! We will show those cowardly assassins what it means to cross the mighty Yasida Empire! We will tear down their fortresses! We will lay waste to their armies! And we will lay low their prized order of magic knights!”
Tarius drew his sword from its sheath and pointed it toward his army, his voice booming once more “For the Empire! Long live the Emperor!”
“For the Empire! Long live the Emperor!” the army shouted in unison as they saluted.
Tarius nodded to his second in command. The man, Imperial Captain Golofried, stood next to Tarius and began to shout orders. Within an hour the entire legion was marching toward Fiondan’s borders with Tarius and his captains marching at the vanguard.
After several hours of marching, the sun had begun its descent, and it would soon be time to make camp. Their march had made good time, for as the darkness had covered the sky, they could see the fires of the Fiondan border gate in the distance.
Tarius gave orders for the army to make camp. The commander’s tent was put up first so that Tarius could discuss strategy with his high ranking officers.
As the soldiers rushed off to set up the rest of the camp, Tarius stood around an oak table with the rest of his officers. A map of Fiondan lay spread across the table.
Tarius stood closing his eyes as his officers began the proceedings.
“They know we’re here! We must needs move quickly before they sure up the border gates defences!”
“There’s no need to rush. No matter what their defences, they cannot hope to hold the gate against an entire legion!”
“That isn’t the point! With a sound, strategic plan, they could cause severe damage to our campaign! They could essentially cripple us before we even reach the capital!”
“I only see one solution. Let us send a messenger to General Marcus and request-“
“Enough!” Tarius suddenly interrupted. He had very much wanted to avoid dealing with Marcus. He did not trust him or his harlot of a niece. If Fiondan were to be conquered, he would do it alone.
“I have a sound strategy to take the border gate with minimum loss, regardless of their plans. At best, they have a low-level lieutenant forming a defence strategy against our invasion” Tarius chuckled to himself “But fear not, there is nought he can do against me.”
The men nodded in agreement. “As for General Marcus,” he continued “He will not be needed. The Seventh Legion will be more than enough to bring Fiondan to her knees. We will not need aid from Marcus’ Fifteenth.”
With that, Tarius made a hand motion that meant that everyone in the tent was dismissed. The men bowed and exited.
“Golofried” Tarius said suddenly. The Imperial Captain stopped and faced his commander. “I want you to travel to Gillia. I want to know what Marcus is up to. Send regular reports on his movements. Make sure he does not know who you are. You will blend in as a palace servant.”
Captain Golofried, of the seventh imperial legion, bowed to Tarius and left the tent without a word.
Golofried was his most trusted warrior. Not only did he serve Tarius loyally for over a decade, but he was also an exceptional warrior and master of intrigue.
If anyone could find out what that snake was up to, Tarius thought, it’s Golofried.