Gaius surveyed the wreck of the bay. Fire consumed the castle behind him, and gigantic holes from shellfire dotted the shore. The wreckage of a enormous battleship, beached and burning, with gun turrets askew, showcased the battlefield.
But standing silent amongst the dead stood the Imperial Army, thousands of tired men standing quiet, watching the scene before them.
The scarred battleships of the Imperial fleet were now in full possession of the once peaceful bay. The ships lay anchored, triumphant and victorious, the Imperial Eagle flying from their battered superstructures.
Gaius stood, contemplating his next move. The Ultor land army had been completely annihilated, those who had not died had surrendered, and those who had not surrendered had fled. His opponent, Lucius, had lost most of his best ships, and the crews of the survivors were still in shock. And now he had a new weapon. The written word.
He ascended a rock, and called out a greeting to his troops.
Roars of victory and men cheering greeted him. “Caesar! Caesar! Caesar! Caesar!” The chant swelled to the heavens.
Gaius drew a breath, and began to speak.
“Men! You have fought well today! The traitor Ultor has been shown what happens to the enemies of the people of Valkoria! And now, he has been revealed as the warmonger he is. Listen:”
He drew breath. All was silent but the birds feasting on the slain.
“Ultor drove us into discord. He turned Valkoria into a kingdom of petty greed and violence, all for love of power. And now, with our attention diverted to deal with this traitor, the savage Northmen had laid waste to our towns and villages! Let me tell you. You know of the truce with Lord Numitor. Well he sends word to me that a force from Danheim attacked 3 villages and slaughtered the defenseless common folk, men women and children. He destroyed the band, and sent 5 home with a message of revenge for the pagan king. This is the kind of weakness that Lord Ultor leaves us open to. The separation of the Empire as a whole invites assault.”
“Free all the Ultorii troops. They are fellow Valkorians. Go home, my friends. And remember that we must be united against foreign invaders. Unity is strength.”
“I know that some of you may think that Lord Numitor is in the same camp as Lord Ultor. That HE is the one responsible for this war. But, fellows soldiers, it is not so. He acted out of grief and rage, for which I am to blame. I forced his hand, beguiled by that snake Ultor.”
“I hereby pardon the Northern legions. They acted under orders. I retract the name of Traitor from Lord Numitor. He is pardoned, but after this war is over he must give up control of the wall and Castle Numitor. A place shall be found for him. Those are my words for him.” he said, turning to the envoy from Titus who had brought the message of the Danheim raid. Gaius looked back out at the sea of faces turned towards him.
“We march now, not to bring war, but peace to our beloved home! Spread the word, you soldiers of Ultor! From this day on, Valkoria is UNITED against its enemies. No more shall we lay waste to our own homes and fields. AVE VALKORIA!”
Waves of shouted sound poured over the bay, as the soldiers clashed their weapons and saluted, while the sailors lined the decks of their ships, shouting as soon as the message was given them. Gaius smiled, the feeling of triumph feeling him.
Lucius was in shock. He stared. He started. He stared again.
The defeat in the bay had left him reeling, but determined to rally and win his coveted prize. After the battle, he had brought the remainder of his fleet back to his family home to recover, only for the message Gaius had sent to all of Valkoria waiting for him. His already disenfranchised sailors mutinied, and refused to obey orders. Those officers who tried to force them were disposed of in short order. Now he could hear them argueing outside his cabin on the smashed bridge of the Dreadful.
Lucius Ultor, Claimant to the Throne, made a decision. He pulled out a small bottle, and popped the cork. The sickly sweet smell of death rose to his nostrils. He threw his head back, and drained the bottle. Quickly walking outside, he moved to the railing, breathed once last time, and stepped off.
The timeless tides received back their former champion, and the war was over.
Titus sat back in his great hall, while the envoy delivered his message. The traitor was dead, you are pardoned, the war is over.
He walked out, and gave the soldiers the news. They were overjoyed at the news of peace, for warfare had taken its toll, and most of the men had lost sight of the reasons for which they fought. Over the next few days, the legions swore new oaths of allegiance to the Emperor, and then returned to their bases in the north.
Numitor gathered up his travel equipment, his greatsword, his armor, and a baggage horse, and vanished. He left a note for whoever would take his place as Dux Castrum, and a message for Gaius. The great Castrum Valkorium, also known as Castle Numitor, quickly became abandoned as the workers and soldiers left, with no one for them to hold them back. Only a few old stewards remained, stoutly keeping the inner hall clean and ready.
Thus ended the Valkorian Civil War, one of the most brutal, pointless, and most useless wars ever fought in Allura. Gaius returned to power, and over the next year managed to industrialize the Empire, building roads and shipyards, and reopening trade wherever possible. The Great Houses that betrayed him lost the leaders of their families, executed for treason, but no more Valkorians died. As the capitol Valkoria was completely destroyed, only ruins remaining, he transferred the capitol to the Castrum Valkorium, and did away with the position of Dux Castrum and Dux Maris altogether, instead appointing individual generals and admirals to command wherever needed.
Much needed peace flowed over the land, and the people grew once again joyful. Good harvests only served to increase the general happiness, and the population once began to grow when Gaius dismissed several portions of the army to work their farms.
But the Emperor, now completely installed in his new city, had not forgotten his dreams of a Valkoria that stretched for hundreds of leagues. He wish to be a Emperor of more than merely a 12 cities and a number of villages and towns. Nor had he forgotten his promise to take revenge upon the barbarians who had attacked his soldiers twice, and murdered the children of the Wall villages.
It was for this purpose that he wrote a certain document, and had it sent to every major power in Allura, setting the stage for his attempt at power…
@staff that’s all for THAT one.