Chapter 5
Rallying the Troops

AZ 1453 - Summer
Hesperia, Zephyr

In the Plateia Chrysopteron, the main square in the capital, the men of the invasion force were assembled to hear the King's address. Some twenty thousand stood in full array, their precise ranks and columns in stark contrast to the thousands of common citizens clustered around the edges of the square.
From the balcony known as Zephyr's Mouth, the chamberlain emerged to announce the King's arrival.
"His Majesty the King, Steward of the Throne of Zephyr, Solon VI."
There was a time when the styling of the King rivaled that of the Archbishop, but when Solon took the throne, he dispensed with many of the titles. After leaving the Church, he could no longer lay claim to 'Defender of the Faith', obviously. Only the title of 'Steward of the Throne of Zephyr' he retained in deference to tradition. The House of Creon always claimed that they held kingship only in lieu of Lord Zephyr until his return, even if that return was over a thousand year in coming.
In full regalia, Solon stepped out onto the balcony. While the military men stood fixed in disciplined silence, the civilians broke into loud cheers. The King gave them a moment before raising his hand to silence them so he could speak.
There was a time when Solon could speak loudly enough from the Mouth of Zephyr that his voice would carry throughout the square, but lately he had need of a talisman crafted by the court mages to amplify his voice.
Pressing the talisman against his throat, Solon declared, "Citizens of Zephyr, brave fighting men of the sons of the people, hearken to me! Four years ago, a grave evil began to stir in the East. Four years ago, the ancient enemy in the Darklands awoke from its long slumber. Four year ago, we began to prepare ourselves for the inevitable war, that we might stamp out this evil at its source, that we might shine the Light in the darkness.
"These four years, you have all sacrificed greatly. Many of you have offered up your sons, your husbands, and your fathers. We have given up much of our comforts for the sake of the preparations for war and we will continue to feel the pangs of want and loss in the days to come.
"I tell you, do not let your hearts be burdened by these things. Citizens, perform your labors with gladness, for you are the foundation on which we stand. Soldiers, keep your courage about you, for you are the shield and the sword of the homeland.
"We go forth, to secure a future for our children and our children's children. We go forth so that none will ever again need to fear the evil of the Darklands. We go forth, to victory, for we cannot fail. To victory!"
"TO VICTORY!" the men of the military roared in unison.
Again, Solon shouted, "To victory!"
Military men and civilians together shouted, "TO VICTORY!"
"We go forth," Solon said finally. "God be with us all."
And with that, Solon withdrew from the balcony amid a new wave of cheers. Spirits were high today, but how long would it last as months at sea wore on, only to be followed by bitter warfare in a cursed land? Solon could not afford to entertain such doubts, however. He had to remain steadfast for all their sakes. The King had to set the example and lead in the way his people should follow.