Translator, Editor and Proofread: theunfetteredsalmon
Amon didn’t have a seat. After greeting the committee members one by one, he stood in the middle of the hall awaiting questions. The first question was asked by Ison, who was also the head of a legion in his earlier years. Ison had a lot of experience in route marches. He asked Amon a lot of questions and the young, promising warrior answered them perfectly. The military does not rely on empty talk, so Ison ordered people to bring in maps and sandboxes as well as various weapons to watch Amon demonstrate his abilities. Amon simulated marching organisation, arranged battle formations and showed how to execute other commands. He performed up to Ison’s expectations.
The assessment lasted the entire morning and continued after lunch. The high priest Susga played a game of military chess with Amon using a real military exercise sandbox. The results were also satisfactory.
The examination continued the next morning and all seven committee members asked various questions, some of which were beyond the scope of the military landscape. Amon tried his best to answer all questions before he retreated to wait for the final result. The seven Lords and Lady began to discuss their findings, but Maria did not speak. The final opinion was three supporting to three opposing, with Maria being the deciding vote. Among those who supported Amon’s leadership were Ison, Wadj-hotep and Idu, and against Amon were Susga, Djehutihotep and Burk.
Apart from Amon’s lack of experience in commanding operations, the reason why the latter three opposed to Amon was because of his origin. Amon was once a resident of the town of Duc, a dependency of the Kingdom of Hittite. It was questionable whether he could devote his loyalty to the Ejyptian Empire. The two sides were at a stalemate, so they looked to the Adoratrice for the final vote.
Maria then finally murmured, “There is no doubt that Amon is fit for the role of the head of the An-Ra legion. We all know in our hearts that this legion will not likely take part in the real, main decisive battles. It will carry out primarily coordinated vigilance and cover tasks. Amon is more than competent in doing that. Any objections?”
The other six remained quiet with no objection to Maria’s comments. Maria continued, “As for the case pertaining to his loyalty, have you not heard of his deeds? What he has done is enough to prove his noble character, which is why I recommended him in the first place. This man was a miner from Duc, yes, but he surrendered the Tear of the Gods when he discovered it and then returned the late Lord Nero’s relics to his family.
I think we are all clear on what happened to his hometown of Duc, no? Moreover, his people are in the hands of the Empire. According to reliable and the latest sources, the King of Hittite claimed to have the direct favour of the god Enlil, I assume all of you have heard? If you were in the shoes of Amon, what would you think?”
There was an episode of developments in the Kingdom of Hittite. According to King Lucier and the Magic Academy of Hittite, the god Enlil delivered a new oracle: He claimed to have used his powers to summon the devastating flood not only to punish and expel the sinners, washing away the evils of the earth, but also to give mortals thousands of miles of fertile soil. It will become a blessed place for the gods to instruct their descendants to cultivate on fertile land, in turn building a prosperous and peaceful home.
The oracle was conveyed to all parts of the Kingdom, and the people, especially unemployed vagrants, wandering explorers and farmers of barren states, cheered and rejoiced. People poured into the shrines and temples like an unending tide to thank their great god Enlil for his blessings. The people vowed to reclaim the fertile soil gifted upon them as a sacred cause. Altars were filled with flowers and precious tributes and everyone praised the greatness, mercy and solemnity of the gods.
In such boiling applause, there was a group of people who could only silently and secretly grieve by themselves. They were the former miners of the town of Duc. They were considered sinners who were punished by the gods and rejected by the people of the Kingdom. Whether those who were dead were innocent or guilty, they had no knowledge of what was happening. But what about the ones who are still alive in the world?
Amon certainly could not return to the nation where Enlil was the god. Even if he wanted to, there was no room for him. Furthermore, the surviving people of Duc were in the Ejyptian Empire. Amon had no reason to betray, let alone whether he could or not.
In fact, Enlil was not the only one who delivered an oracle. Not long ago, the Pharoah of Ejypt and the high priests of the Shrine of Horus received an oracle from King of the Gods Horus himself. The great god declared that there would be a thousand miles of fertile soil in the centre of the pivot of the heavenly continent, which was a symbol of the cruelty and evil of foreign gods. It would also be the territory of the great Ejyptian Empire’s long-lasting achievements. Horus called on his people to go there and build their homes and shrines so that the glory of the gods could shine on the mainland.
This oracle became the supreme intention of the Pharoah. He had been planning this battle for a long time since it was now possible to expand and open up a new territory in the central part of the continent. The oracle had not yet been officially announced across Ejypt, but it will spread throughout the country once the armies have been mobilised and are ready for battle. Right at that time, the people of Ejypt will also pour into shrines and temples to celebrate the holiness and greatness of the gods and the Pharoah.
As Golier said to Amon, “It can be foreseen that during the disputes between mortals, there will also be disputes between the gods. People will drive their own desires in the name of their god.”
The Adoratrice mentioned the oracle of the God Enlil and the past of Duc, and there was no way to refute them. Perhaps in order to dispel doubts, Maria looked around, smiled and said, “In fact, please don’t worry too much, my Lords. Although the head of a legion is a supreme officer, according to the law of the Empire, the head has the duty of supervising the army. If the head of the legion wants to mobilise, he will have to consult the commanding priest. All we need to do is to choose a trustworthy supreme mage to be the commanding priest.”
Then, Idu grinned bitterly in response and said, “Marching is a difficult task for a supreme mage, let alone for the commanding priest of the An-Ra legion. Either they are there as a display or they would be difficult to please. I don’t think many mages would be willing. I am grateful to the proactiveness of my Lady Adoratrice, and so as the High Priest of the Temple of Isis, I would like to recommend myself and volunteer to be the commanding priest of the An-Ra legion. I do not have any other requests. I just hope that the Imperial Ministry of Military Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the city of Memfis will support a miscellaneous army instead of dismissing it casually.”
And thus, it was settled. Amon was officially the head of a legion. Although it was only a miscellaneous army, its position was there after all and its status was equivalent to that of a deputy governor of a city. In the following days, Amon was busy. After taking office, he had a lot of work to do. He even regretted sending Aesop away so early.
In a formal battle, the head of the legion would typically be unable to fight on the frontlines with his men. He was the commander-in-chief of the entire legion, after all. Should an accident occur to him, it would spell trouble for the legion and it would face imminent defeat. So now, they required a leader that led assaults. Now that position was vacant. Maria decided to let Amon choose his own leader. If he could not find the right person for the job, Maria would send Gabriel instead.
It could also be seen that the Pharoah did not attach much importance to the An-Ra legion, although the Military Commission formulated a marching plan for coordinated operations, flanking vigilance and cover. However, in the Pharoah’s mind, the An-Ra legion was dispensable while the army he led himself will be nigh invincible.
Amon himself could not ignore his responsibilities. Gabriel was the most important bodyguard of the Adoratrice, so he could not take her in easily. The guardian knight’s status was lofty, so Amon would be unable to command her at will, causing a problem in the chain of command. After all, Amon still lacked sufficient foundation and prestige and it would be difficult for him to find a Leader who would be fully loyal and obedient to him.
After half a day, Amon applied to Memfis a recommendation of his own: a man named Hardedef, the chief guard of the mines in Mount Horeb, a sixth-level warrior who was punished and exiled.
Although the Head of a legion was the highest commander, he could not rely on brute force to win a battle. In the eyes of a soldier, the strength and charm of the Leader is part of the prestige. Therefore, the Leader of the legion was usually a warrior who could fight capably and reliably alongside his men. Rod Drick was a special case, as mentioned before.
Amon was already a supreme warrior but his strength has not really been proven, so it would be difficult for him to prove his worth to the aristocratic Leaders in Ejypt. Hardedef was yet another exception. He had shown incredible obedience to Amon and was taught and instructed by him. This time, it was Amon’s recommendation to elevate him from the desolate Mount Horeb to be inducted into the legion. Naturally, such a man would willingly obey orders.
In addition to the Leader of the front, Amon had another task to deal with himself. He had to set up an elite guard. This was established in most, if not all legions but it must be prepared by the Head himself. The number of guards would be small but it was the most elite force of the legion. The duty of this guard was to protect the Head of the legion. Whether it was to charge at the enemy or create an opening for escape, the members of the guard must closely follow the Leader of the legion. The captain of the guard would be appointed directly by the Head himself, so the others would have no right to command him.
The Guard was equivalent to a small, independent and private army, containing no more than a hundred soldiers. Although they were also distributed weapons and salaries by the Legion, the Head often paid his own money to equip them with more sophisticated weapons. The Guard would also receive more generous rewards in peacetime, be it before or after. After all, this was related to Amon’s personal safety. The soldiers of the Guard needed not only absolute loyalty to the Head, but they were also required to have the courage to fight with their lives for the sake of the Head.
If there were other officers involved, there would usually be various restrictions on the appointment itself, but the appointment of the Captain of the Guard was himself a form of a Leader. For that reason, Amon appointed Metatro of Bablon as the Captain. As for the members of the Guard, Amon let Metatro choose the best among the legion’s soldiers.
Sihathor, a businessman of Memfis finally met the newly promoted Head of a Legion, Amon. Amon took Metatro to visit Sihathor personally. The merchant was so flattered that he stammered with excitement. Amon came to reminisce but he also brought orders from the governor of Memfis, appointing Sihathor as the Quartermaster officer of the logistics of the An-Ra legion. Amon smiled at the table and asked Sihathor if he was willing.
Sihathor blushed and his head moved like a chicken pecking at rice. “Yes,” he said. “I am willing! My Lord Amon, I have been looking forward to this day and I am glad you have not forgotten me!”
Sihathor was not a fool. He knew very well that even with wealth, it was difficult for a civilian businessman like him to acquire a position of dignity. This was the best opportunity in his life. Although there were certain risks in organising the logistics of a legion, they were never more dangerous than the soldiers who would sacrifice themselves on the frontlines. As long as he made meritorious deeds and had a good word put in for him by the Head of the legion, he could be granted the status of nobility by the Pharoah himself. Glory was only one aspect of it all, as such an achievement would make business far more convenient in the future.
The legion would naturally have an officially appointed Quartermaster, who was responsible for the transfer, statistics and distribution of supplies. Amon appointed Sihathor as the Quartermaster Officer, who would then be primarily responsible for organising convoys and caravans outside the legion, following it and providing supplies whenever needed. He knew that he had no other skill, but he was certainly good at logistics.
With the Pharoah’s orders, the businesses of every city in Ejypt would have to obey and dispatch materials as required to the army. Sihathor was quite familiar with this aspect, so he was the most suitable person Amon knew and could find.
Quartermasters were the ‘greedy men’ of a legion. They had the right to collect municipal supplies and materials for all cities that the legion would pass by in its campaign during wartime. After that, the financial department of the nation would settle the accounts. It was not necessary to say that there was plenty of opportunities. Sihathor was very grateful to Amon. According to the ‘usual practice’, he paid Amon a large amount of money. This time, he was very generous. At the end of the day, the wool on sheep always grows, so he could always earn the money back.
In terms of wealth, Amon was not short on money at all. He refused the money with a smile on the spot. Seeing Amon decline the generosity, Sihathor was so anxious that he began to sweat. He begged for Amon to accept it for a long time. The Captain, Metatro, nodded his head and agreed to accept it as a gift. It was mainly to equip the Guard with better armour and weapons. Those were supposed to be paid by Amon himself, but Sihathor’s generosity erased that necessity.
As soon as all preparations were in place, Amon was ordered by the Empire to lead the An-Ra legion. He took fifty mages and five thousand warriors as per tradition to the eastern bank of the Nile river. The logistics team was divided into two parts: a small part was the convoy that was responsible for food and other small things. Most of them were placed on ships that sailed along with the legion on the Nile river. The convoy also contained a warship that escorted it.
Although the An-Ra legion was one that was not highly valued due to its status as a miscellaneous army, they still looked magnificent and daunting marching on the road. Amon’s Guard of eighty men were all armoured cavalry. The five thousand soldiers were composed of chariots, archers and heavy infantry. Hardedef led the cavalry to the front of the soldiers while the light infantry followed at the back. From far away, the reflection of armour and weapons under the sun formed what seemed like a star-shaped ocean.
Amon was sat in a large, comfortable chariot. His heart was filled with emotion at the sight of the legion. When he first arrived in Memfis, he almost died at the bank of the Nile river. Now, his departure was him in the position of the Head of an entire legion, commanding thousands of troops and horses. It was Maria who deserved his utmost thanks for her silent help and guidance.
Amon did not intend to fight the Kingdom of Hittite, but the war was inevitable whether he participated or not. He wanted to build merit that would be enough to absolve the former inhabitants of Duc and finally lead them back to their homes. Amon was well aware that the battles ahead were not going to take place in the newly-formed wilderness. The swamps around Duc would have to dissipate in order to accommodate even a garrison. The wait would take at least a year and a half. The Pharoah was a little too eager to begin his expedition.
In terms of strategic layout, The Pharoah’s aim was to establish a forward operating base inland from the desired land first so as to occupy a favourable position in any future disputes. As the flood recedes, the Empire would occupy any and all land, claiming it as the new territory of the Empire.
The Pharoah, Ramesses II, or Ramesses the Great, was confident in his victory. The strength of the Ejyptian Empire at the time was recognised by all other countries. The outcome of the war seemed to be beyond doubt. Although Amon was part of the Ejyptian army, he was not as optimistic as the Pharoah himself. The reason for this was simple: he felt that the Pharoah was overly contemptuous of the war. This was a matter of life and death and yet the Pharoah treated it like a game.
It was not clear how the Pharoah saw Amon, but at least he did not pay too much attention to the An-Ra legion. It was like throwing a fragmented chariot at Amon while he had to match the parts of the chariot like a jigsaw puzzle in order to make it work properly.
The Pharoah thought that his forces were overwhelmingly powerful and that by leading the most elite army, he would ensure his victory, but such an important and significant battle between the countries in the surrounding area could expose many problems. If Amon was the commander-in-chief of the entire Ejyptian Army, he would never treat the An-Ra legion as lackadaisical as the Pharoah did, despite its less important position.
The speed of the legion was not dependent on the power of the horses or the state of the chariots, but on whether the logistics could keep up. The supply of the An-Ra legion depended mainly on the Nile river, through shipping. Although the transport ships were equipped with long oars, the sails were the main driving power at the sea. Amon did not waste any opportunity to march along the coastline. Despite the fact that they were unlikely to participate in deciding battles, Amon did not forget to train the battle capabilities of the frontline along the way.
The cooperation between chariots, archers, infantry, throwers and cavalry was learned by Amon in the books and practised on sandboxes, but he had never taken direct field command of units. Between marches, Amon would order the generals to take turns in conducting military exercises. He would take Metatro to watch the simulated battles.
The An-Ra legion was newly formed and its previous training had been very lax. But the minimum requirement for becoming a full-fledged soldier of a legion in the Empire was to be, at the very least, a first-level warrior who had practised body arts. These people would cooperate and show their strength in fiercer battles.
There was a tradition in the Ejyptian army. Materials, supplies and squads transferred by the military department of the government would be first intercepted by Leader to a certain proportion before the rest would be distributed to the soldiers. It goes without saying that military supplies could be sold for a lot of money to the right or perhaps even wrong people. This money could then be set aside for personal use by the Head in occasions such as equipping personal guards, rewarding military service in private name and hiring otherwise enemy personnel.
The interception of the goods was generally thirty per cent. The remaining seventy were sent to officers and the men below them. However, for an unfortunate miscellaneous legion, the quality of equipment and pay was far less than that of elite legions of the Empire. In such cases, the proportion of interceptions tended to be much larger. This would create vicious cycles, making the legion ultimately less effective.
Amon’s training during the marches certainly increased the burden on the troops, but on the other hand, he also showed great generosity and selflessness. The military supplies given by the Ejyptian military ministry and city-states were distributed with no interception occurring. Ten per cent of the salary would be provided for Amon’s Guard while the remaining were sent to the soldiers timely. This would surprise the soldiers, who were accustomed to not expecting as much.