By Eric Flint, David Drake,
Basically 3 issues stand among the Malwa and the conquest of Earth: Byzantium, the empire of Rome within the East; a crystal that urges mankind to struggle; and Belisarius, basic of the Byzantine Empire, and arguably the best commmander the Earth has ever identified.
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He eyed Maurice. ” “Hung ’em yesterday, sir. All four. The girl’s surviving brother was able to identify them, once he got over his terror at being here. ” Maurice grimaced. “Yes. They’ve agreed to take care of the girl, as best they can. But they don’t expect she’ll recover, and—” Another grimace. ” “As well they might. ” “Not the execution itself, no. At least, not the army as a whole. A lot of them did, of course. But I gave orders to let the bodies sway in the breeze, until the heat and the vultures make skeletons out of them.
Then, he became serious. “But I am a craftsman. I never wanted to be a soldier, you know. As a boy, I spent all my time at the smithy, admiring the blacksmith. ” He shrugged. “But, it was not to be. Not for a boy of my class. So a soldier I became, and then, a general. ” He smiled. “Do you know why my soldiers adore me? ” Now on treacherous ground, Antonina kept silent. ” The smile grew crooked. ” Antonina was still. Very treacherous ground. Belisarius started laughing. ” He released her and stretched his arms languorously.
They had been carefully selected by him over a period of years, and the devotion of his retinue was fully reciprocated. Maurice, despite his rank, was in effect Belisarius’ executive officer. Even Constantine, who was in overall command of the army’s cavalry, along with the chiliarch Phocas who was his equivalent for the infantry, had learned to accept his actual authority. And, as they got to know the grizzled veteran, respect it as well. “I believe the boy will work out quite nicely,” commented Maurice.
An Oblique Approach by Eric Flint, David Drake,