Chapter 61 An old friend in the porter camp
Editor: Sara, Danny
In the armed force, cavalry were the most expensive and delicate units.
According to the current standard of the Byzantine Empire, the expenditure for a cavalryman was at least seven times higher than for an infantry – calculation based on a heavy armored infantry. If you were to consider an ordinary, light infantry member, the disparity would be widened to about ten times.
To answer why, first of all, the worth of a cavalryman far exceeded that of an infantryman. A skilled cavalryman must be proficient at horse-riding, as well as combat and weapon techniques while riding. A person who excelled at several different skills was more expensive than a cheap labor, this was true anywhere in the world.
Secondly, the weaponry of the cavalry cost much more than that of the infantry – after all, a four meter lance took way more iron to forge than a one meter double-edged sword.
With horses added to the sum – a superior warhorse’s feed cost even more than the food consumed by an ordinary infantry! After all, ordinary infantry were only served coarse food to fill their bellies. However regarding a warhorse, if the feed for it wasn’t satisfactory, then it wouldn’t have the strength and capability to reach high speeds. Furthermore, the loading capacities would be reduced and their effectiveness in combat would suffer greatly.
Lastly, there was the squire!
The Byzantine Empire had a strict hierarchy system governing its population; since a squire occupied an essential and irreplaceable position within a cavalryman’s retinues, they had a status higher than that of an ordinary auxiliary soldier.
For a regular cavalryman, he would spend most of his time honing his horse-riding skills, practice killing techniques and other combat abilities on his horse. In addition to that, he had to practice formations, lineup and so on…… In this case, you couldn’t count on that cavalryman to personal feed his warhorses every day and look after them while needing to also repair his weapons and equipment; that is when a squire comes in.
Generally speaking, except looking after the horses and doing some simple weaponry repair, superior squires also required to know some basic horse-riding. In some cases, squires also had their own equipment, weaponry and armor so that they may serve as back up calvary for larger operations
It could be said that Shaar was an exceptional case since he possessed great strength in combat. If he were only an average person, there would have been absolutely no opportunity for him to directly become a regular soldier. Most of the cavalrymen were formerly basic auxiliary soldiers; some were former squires that were promoted to cavalryman after some time.
Two miles south of the 13th Cavalry Army’s camp laid the auxiliary camp, and auxiliary troops that were affiliated to the 13th Cavalry Army were stationed here. These troops were tasked with escorting military baggage and its porters, guard and logistic personals.
A considerable portion of them were all temporarily mobilized before each war.
The porter’s campsite was situated on the outermost region of main camp, and if you came by you would see several groups of temporary recruits hauling military provisions, bundles of arrows and wooden boxes filled with weapons, one by one. Each of them had a solemn look and by the side stood Byzantine soldiers with a hand on their sword hilt.
It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that a large number of these porters weren’t voluntarily recruited to come here – of course such a thing was quite common in armies.
And even if they were recruited voluntarily, when war approaches, it is inevitable that there would be those who panic and flee.
These porters were all clad in dirty rags and covered in grime. When Shaar arrived here with Kevin, he immediately went and brought back a fat military supply officer. It was easy to see that Kevin and the officer were old acquaintances. When faced against the general’s Praetorian Guards, this fat military supply officer obviously would put on a flattering show. However, Kevin acted very indifferent, even so he still displayed some disdain and his words had some disgust that were hard to conceal.
That fat officer unexpectedly had a thick skin and completely disregarded the disdain on Kevin’s face. When he heard that Kevin had come, he did not forget to put a respectful smile on his face and immediately came over in a flattering manner while saying: “So you are here to select a squire……Please don’t worry, we have just drafted a number of new recruits who are quite good. There are some who excel at blacksmithing, as well as someone who had raised horses at home and as such would presumably make a good squire. I will take you to make your choice right now.”
Having some dissatisfaction, Kevin grunted, “How could porters that have just arrived become squires? Can’t you find some more appropriate personnel in the auxiliary barracks?”
The fat military officer showed an awkward expression on his face, “This ……The escorting duties of convoy is very important; the manpower of the auxiliary barracks had always been very……”
Shaar gave a timely smile and commented, “Never mind, a porter is not a problem. I do not need a squire that accompanies me on battlefield anyway, as long as they look after my horses, that’s good enough.”
Remembering the formidable fighting power that Shaar displayed, Kevin relaxed and reluctantly nodded, before adding, “It would be better if you could find someone who understood a bit of blacksmithing; otherwise you will be in trouble when your weapon breaks.”
The fat military officer led the way while Shaar and Kevin follow behind. On the way, Shaar could not help but whisper, “You seem to hate this guy?”
Kevin looked at the fat person’s back in front of him and sneered while saying in a low voice: “Hmpf, those people from the military supply department are mostly leeches and greedy rats. Everything, from our military funding, weaponry and even our salary passes through them. There is nothing that they don’t have in their hands!”
Somewhat surprised, Shaar asked: “Even the 13th Cavalry Army had something like this? Didn’t the general say anything about it?”
Kevin glanced at Shaar and smiled, “It seems that you need to properly study the laws of the army.” Pausing for a moment, he sighed, “Although the military supply officers are under the army, they were not directly controlled by the combat unit. The military supply and logistics unit formed their own system and was supervised by the Imperial military supply department under the direct command of the Ministry of Army Logistics. Each independent Regular army of the Empire, an army such as ours for example, would have their own logistics camp that was responsible for transportation only. In times of war, they would establish a special logistics camp in the war zone that’s responsible for consolidating. In the army the stocked military provisions and commodity will only suffice for half a month and the logistics department would need to constantly transport the replenished supplies……The army would not let us hoard goods,” his voice lowered a bit further, “This is a tradition of the Byzantine imperial army. It is said that this system prevents army revolts; an army that has only half a month’s worth of provisions would find it difficult when planning one!”
Looking at the fat military officer’s back again, this fellow’s obese ass would wiggle around while walking. Kevin’s tooth started to itch from hatred, “Look at this fat pig. I don’t know how much he already put into his own pockets! Hmpf……Because they belong to the military supply department, the general isn’t able to efficiently suppress them and could only execute a person as a warning to others when he is caught. However, the Imperial logistical system had always been corrupted ……Hmpf, the current minister of the military supply department is Count Maurice Jake, the biggest corrupt official in the empire! When the biggest boss above them is corrupt, then the people under him naturally followed suit!”
Looking at Shaar’s thoughtful look, Kevin sighed, “Don’t just look at the fact that this fellow treats us very politely. This is only because we are the general’s Praetorian Guards. Furthermore, just last month, the general grasped the opportunity to directly cut down a rat from the military supply department. We are the imperial elite troops and these fellows are terrified of the power and authority of the general. This is the reason why they don’t dare to be rash and there is a slight restraint in their greedy actions.”
Shaar didn’t speak, but in his mind he recalled the content written in the old man’s book……
Dividing the logistics and the command of the combat unit was indeed an effective way to prevent a general from amassing too much power and causing a rebellion. What was written in the book was right. However, why did it still result in such a phenomenon?
“However……doesn’t the military court do anything about the embezzlement of military supplies?” Shaar could not bear and finally asked.
“Count Maurice Jake was the emperor’s in-law, how could the military court dare provoke him? Even afraid of pursuing the biggest corrupt official, the people below naturally had nothing to fear,” Kevin grunted and glanced at Shaar, “There is no need to repeat those words in order to avoid trouble.”
Sure enough, Kevin was right. Although this fat military officer was humble and respectful on the surface, once he started to do things he had a somewhat duplicitous quality.
Leading Shaar and Kevin towards the porters camp, they were over a hundred porters gather in front of them – They did not know where they recruited these fellows, but every one of them had a depression expression on their face with a pair of hollow and dull eyes ……More importantly, they were mostly too old or too young and those several middle-aged fellows all seemed slow-witted……
Kevin immediately expressed his dissatisfaction and got angry, “Are those the appropriate candidates you talked about?”
That fat military officer immediately put on a smile on his face and his eyes flashed strangely: “Certainly! They look a bit stupid, but they are all honest and would absolutely not escape!”
“Bastard!” Kevin’s eyebrow knit and he revealed a ferocious look full of murderous intent, “Are you playing me? What I want was a qualified squire! How could these guys be called competent? How would a cavalryman entrust his warhorse to these people?”
“They are farmers and have experience rearing livestock, it shouldn’t be an issue,” The fat military officer replied while spreading out his hand, “I already told you, there is currently a shortage of people and I don’t have any other means.”
Kevin was close to getting into a fight and Shaar, who was standing next to him, was also enraged in his heart – the hillbilly’s temperament was not good at all and he had already formed a tight fist. He was just waiting for Kevin to make the first move before giving this fat military officer a taste of his fist.
At that exact moment, a pitiful scream could be heard next to them.
“Ahhh!! Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me! I won’t run!!”
Miserable screams and a weeping voice could be heard. The source of those sounds was a skinny guy donned in a shabby robe that was being kicked to the ground by two foot soldiers. One of the soldiers lifted a whip while cursing, before fiercely bringing it down upon that guy’s body.
The man lying on the ground had his robe torn and several holes opened. With dishevelled hair and a dirty face, he screeched and shouted desperately while crawling on the ground. However, the whip still continued to land on his back.
When this fellow suddenly saw Shaar not far away with his eyes, his pupil immediately irradiated a sudden burst of brilliance and rose, energised with all his strength. Jumping up while quickly rushing up towards Shaar, he shouted, “Shaar! Lord Shaar! It’s me, it’s me! Oh! Help, please saves me!!”
As he called, he was caught up by the foot soldier and was once again kicked down, and resumed huddling while rolling on the ground.
Frozen for a moment, Shaar quickly ran over and shoved those two soldiers away before taking a closer look at the guy on the ground……
“huh? It’s you?” Shaar stared at him with widened eyes.
“It’s me! It’s me, Lord Shaar! It’s me, Tatara ……” this pitiful thin guy’s face was covered with tears and mucus.
It was the magician that Shaar sold to the pitiful creature for a gold coin. God knows how he had landed up at the porter camp……