| Agent of Byzantium |
POD: c. AD 583
|Appearance(s):||"The Eyes of Argos"|
|Type of Appearance:||Direct|
Andreas Hermoniakos was an officer in the army of the Byzantine Empire. He was a short, hawk-faced man with a bad temper.
By 1305 AD, he had attained the rank of hypostrategos and commanded an army on the Danube frontier. His army consisted of three divisions each commanded by an merarch who marked his position with a large, bright banner. Each division had several regiments each commanded by a moirarch who had a smaller flag. Each regiment was made up of several companies each commanded by a tagmata whose banner was a mere streamer. A company varied in size from 200 to 400 men in order to keep the enemy from easily measuring the size of the army by counting banners.
Hermoniakos had ordered his army to cross the Danube into the steppe country. This was a punitive mission against the Jurchens for their raids into the territory of the Empire. Basil Argyros, his commander of scouts, located the main body of the Jurchen army and Hermoniakos brought his army to alert to attack. After addressing his troops and joining them in prayer to properly purify themselves and atone for their sins, the army formed up into its three divisions and advanced in two battle lines, leaving a small reserve to defend the supply wagons.
On his right wing, Hermoniakos had a couple of tagmata riding slightly ahead to conceal the strong force behind them. His plan was for this force to dart ahead to outflank the Jurchens when the two armies met. However, the Jurchen shifted horsemen to their left and attacked with such force that the flanking attack was never begun. In fact, this force had to fight hard to not be outflanked themselves.
Quickly, Hermoniakos revised his plan and tried to extend his left to try a flanking manoeuvre on the nomad's right. As if reading his mind, the Jurchen khan countered this almost a soon as it was begun. Having suffered heavy casualties on both flanks, Hermoniakos ordered a retreat.
The Roman army fell back to their camp and formed the wagons into a defensive perimeter. This, along with ditches that had previously been dug, allowed Hermoniakos to repulse several Jurchen attacks. His encampment was near water and his wagons carried a week's worth of food. The Jurchens did not have the same resources and so were forced to lift their siege after three days.
After scouts had confirmed the nomads had withdrawn, Hermoniakos convened an officers' council to discuss their next move. He indicated that while it galled him, he was inclined to retreat across the Danube. The Jurchen khan might as well had been standing beside him hearing his orders. One more battle like the previous one and there would not be an army to take back.
Constantine Doukas, the merarch who commanded the right division, added that the devil must have been telling the khan what they were up to since the Jurchens should not have been able read their plans that well. Hermoniakos retorted that some people blamed the devil to cover their own shortcomings. Argyros then reported seeing the white-haired Jurchen holding a tube at the Roman army as it manoeuvred and thought it was a new magic involving the evil eye. Doukas agreed it was a potent spell and that they needed to find out how it worked, else it be used against the Romans again. All eyes turned to Argyros.