My next excerpt for NaNoWriMo chronologically comes before the scene I posted last week, but was written after. It’s part of a longer scene where Queen Viarra is addressing her officers and generals from her allied city-states in regards to the upcoming campaign against the barbarians from the Vedrian highlands to the north. The discussion is a lot rougher than I’d like, and I plan to condense it some and take out a lot of the repetition. But I’m leaving it for now to keep my word count up. 😛
The villain in this campaign is a barbarian warlord named Chief Vedon, who has an “only the strong shall survive” sense of racial and cultural purity and a “Manifest Destiny” sense of expansion for his tribe. By conquering a former allied city and murdering Viarra’s messengers, Vedon hopes to bait her majesty into rallying all of her forces together and march north after him. His plan thereby is to whittle her forces down with skirmishes and ambushes, cutting off her supply lines and forcing her into battle on unfavorable terrain and wipe her army out to the man. With her armies defeated, he could then march his horde south and conquer the Tollesian city-states at his leisure. Unfortunately for him, Queen Viarra realizes what he’s up to and plans accordingly…
“Thank you all for coming,” Queen Viarraluca greeted as the officers assembled. Nora took a bench next to Captain Alden and a couple of other Anache squad leaders. “As many of you have heard by now, we’ve received news that our former ally, the northern city-state of Gillespar, has fallen to the Vedrian barbarians, under a coalition of tribes led by Chief Vedon of the Inavari. What you may not have heard is that Chief Vedon has issued an insult and direct challenge to the Hegemony of Andivel by murdering Gillespar’s royal family, slaughtering or enslaving the citizens, and beheading our emissaries when they came seeking a peaceful solution. This information comes from Queen Iria, sole-surviving member of the royal family, who only barely survived her ordeal at the hands of her captors. Vedon and his allies now field a horde of over fifty-thousand warriors and control the surrounding countryside, using it as a focal point for raids against our farming and trade. Left unchecked, the barbarians will continue to increase their horde, soon becoming powerful enough to challenge our armies in the field and overrun our cities. As reigning hegemon, I want to assure our soldiers, citizens, and allies that I will not allow this to happen.” She paused to let her reassurance sink in.
“I’ll come right out and tell you that the way we’ll be waging this campaign will be entirely different from any campaign any of you have been involved in in the past,” her majesty went on to explain. “King Vedon will be expecting us to rally the entire hegemony and our allies northward to counter his horde. He’s hoping to goad us into launching a massive, rash invasion force that he can whittle down with skirmishes and ambushes, until we’re forced to give battle upon his chosen battlefield. In which case his horde will easily outmaneuver and overwhelm our forces. This is his plan for breaking our army forever and scattering our people across the Vestic Sea. Thus it behooves us to not fall into his trap.
“Though we could raise a force of over thirty thousand, I’ll instead be leading an expeditionary force of thirteen thousand soldiers from the main hegemonic army,” she explained. “We will muster at our northernmost outpost on the Ulanar Tributary, only a three-day march from the City of Gillespar. But rather than march directly upon the city, I want to secure and hold territory as we go. I want to build defences and secure the route northward as we go for our reinforcements and resupply. There are two roads leading north to Gillespar, one that follows the River Andis and a second that cuts across the forests and farmland—I want to control both of these roads to hinder the barbarians’ efforts to slip raiding parties behind our lines to harass our supply caravans.”
A general from Ovec raised a hand. “I realize what you’re getting at, your majesty: that sending a smaller force allows us to send reinforcements as needed and have reserves available to keep the rest of the hegemony secure. And it leaves us with plenty of reserves and a backup plan should the expedition fail. But won’t this Chief Vedan and his allies just march their entire horde south to overwhelm our expeditionary force?” he asked.
“If he thought like a Tollesian general, of course he would,” her majesty agreed. “He’d crush our advance force and then bring his horde south, campaigning against our reserve forces, taking our cities one at a time. What Chief Vedan is after is something more glorious, however. He wants to break our backs by drawing all of our forces together in one huge, epic battle for the ages. Then, with our armies scattered he can invade and capture our cities at his leisure. On the other hand, if he thought like a Tollesian general, he’d not have waited for me to send emissaries who he could murder symbolically before making his move. He’d have attacked months ago, with a force of twenty or thirty thousand, bringing in new allies as they joined him.”
“That’s a fair point, your majesty,” another general put in, “but even still, won’t he just use the same skirmish and ambush tactics to force us to commit more of our reserves to hold that territory?”
“He will try,” her majesty’s tone and smirk took on a dark, almost sinister edge. Nora heard a few chuckles among the gathered officers. “He will attempt to hound our expedition, whittling away our soldiers and forcing us to commit more of our reserves. Eventually he will hope to force us into a decisive battle against his main horde. Hence the importance of securing territory as we go,” the queen explained. “Unlike previous campaigns, we’ll finally have a sufficient force of cavalry along to scout and protect our foragers. We’ll also have skirmishers and medium infantry to screen the army and comb the nearby woods for pickets and ambushes. Additionally, we’ll be deploying our Anache forest-walkers to scout and screen, as well as to lead detachments of soldiers to disperse raiding parties and war camps. We’ve also recruited and equipped mercenaries from our allied Gannic tribes to act as guerrillas against enemy raids. Finally, many of our hegemonic soldiers have spent much of the summer training with our allied tribes in woodland and lowland tactics. Trust me that we’re taking every precaution to minimize casualties and protect our armies and supplies. Our ultimate goal is to turn the tables on the son of a bitch and whittle down his allies forcing him to deploy his main horde against us at a time and place of our choosing.” Her majesty paused again, but no more questions came.
“As I said, General Valan and I will be leading the main expeditionary force,” Queen Viarra continued. “We will call for additional reinforcements as needed. For the time being, I want the soldiers from my allied cities held in reserve as these reinforcements and to shore up our defences elsewhere. This isn’t due to any lack of skill or lack of loyalty on the parts of our allies. It is simply that my generals and officers have been strategizing and training our soldiers for this very situation.”
Nora noted that a few of the allied generals looked offended regardless.
“If there are no further questions, General Valan will brief everyone on our marching strategy,” her majesty said, yielding the floor to the general.
“Her majesty, my fellow generals, our officers, and I have deliberated at length on many of the setbacks and problems encountered during their previous campaigns against the Vedrian tribes in the Highlands and Lowlands, and have strategized over how best to offset these issues,” General Valan began. “While the main columns will take the highways north, we’re making sure that at all times we have infantry and cavalry away from the column, scouting, screening, and patrolling for hostile forces. When in forested areas, we’ll be deploying light and medium infantry as well as Captain Vola’s cavalry to screen the woods for Gannic ambushes and pickets. When there’s a hill or ridge alongside the roadway, we’ll make sure to have infantry positioned at the top before the main army even arrives. When our scouts discover barbarian encampments, we’ll send detachments of soldiers to disperse these camps before their raiders can gather in force.
“To discourage the barbarians’ night attacks that have been so devastating in the past, our forward column will halt two or three hours before dark and find a suitable place to construct a fortified camp for the entire army,” he continued. “The main and rearguard columns will then assist with the construction upon arrival. We will leave a few hundred soldiers to hold each encampment for our resupplies and reinforcements to use as safe havens. These soldiers will then assign patrols and work crews to secure the area and improve the camp fortifications.”
Nora was hardly a military expert, but these all sounded like smart ideas to her. Many of the other officers and representatives also seemed to take the general’s ideas into consideration.
“Yes, our progress will be slower than in the past, but our army will be safer,” General Valan assured them. “We can’t afford any manner of attrition on these campaigns,” he emphasized. “The more we can do to minimize the risks to our scouts, foragers, and supply lines, the better our chances of victory. Questions?” he offered.
No one spoke up. Nora suspected that everyone present was busy digesting her majesty and the general’s discourses and what this would mean for the future of the hegemonic military, assuming their campaign was successful.
“More of a general question,” an officer from Ryllar finally raised a hand. “Even having soldiers on standby will cost our cities money; since those soldiers won’t be involved in the spoils from taking the city, how will we pay for their upkeep?”
“I’m waiving the next two months’ tribute money from every city-state who I’ve asked for troops from,” Queen Viarra explained, stepping up next to General Valan. “Your rulers have instructions to spend the coin on food, housing, and salaries for the standing soldiers. If you find it necessary, I’ll back up any officer whose rulers fail to properly distribute that money.”
“Thank you, your majesty,” the officer smiled, chuckling.
“No other questions?” General Valan asked. “We have additional instructions for individual officer staffs from our hegemonic generals. Officers from our western cities, please follow General Etan. Those from the eastern hegemony, go with General Ware. Everyone from the central cities, please come with me.”
Thanks for reading, folks! I’m supposed to have internet back on Tuesday, so hopefully after that I’ll have the opportunity to post more excerpts. Take care and stay awesome!