Chapter 3
The Power of Zeal

AZ 1454 - Early Summer
Outside the Ruins of Oris, The Darklands

A sprig of dry grass poked through the cracks in the parched earth, only to be trodden under the sandal of the Archbishop.
"This is an evil place..." a voice said.
It was Father Heraclios. He always had an annoying habit of stating the obvious.
"Of course it is," the Archbishop replied curtly. "You are looking at Hades itself spewed forth into the land of the living."
"We have lost many men on the journey here, Your Holiness."
Four ships of the fleet were sunk along the way and hundreds of men were lost to the deep, but this was a small matter. What were mere hundreds to an army of tens of thousands?
"We have many more," Gamaliel said confidently, "all ready to fight and die. The trial of the sea was but the first winnowing. First tried by water and next by fire. In the end, only the true wheat will remain."
The Archbishop then walked around to observe man and beast debarking from the ships and the great task of unloading all their materiel. This was the moment he had been waiting for. Five years of preparation and now his army of martyrs would prove themselves.
As he was walking, Father Heraclios asked him,"Your Holiness, should you not remain with the ships?"
The Archbishop balked, "Does the shepherd abandon his sheep to loose them among the wolves? You speak foolishness."
Not fully chastened by the Archbishop's rebuke, Father Heraclios then asked, "Was it truly wise to part company with the King's legions?"
The Archbishop looked at his chamberlain disdainfully. Perhaps he would do better to be attended by a man made of sterner stuff.
"Ye of little faith. Ought we sully this holy army of martyrs with that profane host? They who flock to the Apostate's banner will share in the Apostate's judgment. Tell me, Father Heraclios, does your trust lie with the Apostate or with God?"
Father Heraclios bowed low.
"Forgive my unbelief, Your Holiness."
"You will bear witness," the Archbishop said, "so that by seeing you may believe."
Father Heraclios said no more and with that settled, the Archbishop made his way to Lord Stephanos, the legate of the Army of Light. Lord Stephanos was once a tribune in the First Legion and a rival of Lord Aristides for the post of legate. He resigned his commission when Aristides was named legate and became active in the Senate. He found his piety during this time and became a prominent leader of the Church's supporters in the court, making him a good choice to lead the Army of Light on this campaign. He was busily giving orders when his aide-de-camp alerted him to the Archbishop's approach. He and all the men assembled around him promptly knelt to the Archbishop.
"Your Holiness," Lord Stephanos said deferentially.
"Arise, Lord Stephanos," the Archbishop said. "I have come to speak with you."
"Yes, Your Holiness?"
"How goes the debarkation?"
"A little slower than I would like, Your Holiness, but everything should be unloaded by nightfall."
"We will not tarry here long. See that the men are ready to march at dawn."
Lord Stephanos bowed.
"It shall be done, Your Holiness."
"Carry on."
The Archbishop then turned and left. He would review the proceedings a while longer and then retire to his tent for prayers.
"Where will we go, Your Holiness?" Father Heraclios asked.
"It does not matter," the Archbishop replied, looking out to the mountains. "Wherever we go, they will come to us."