Excellent so far eager to read the next chapter
Nice ch, and looking forward what our young Byzantine emperor going to doThank you all for the kind comments!
As for Trebizond, the truth of the matter is: I'm still researching it. There's not a great deal of sources available that I can find - but in the meantime, enjoy this!
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Antigonos, now hailed as Keraunos by his soldiers, lingered in Corinth long enough to see his host rested and the defenders relieved. Upon the resolute Asen, Antigonos heaped a number of rewards and formally recognised him as Lord of Corinth in perpetuity; and so too did he give Asen the task of restoring the Hexamilion Wall.
The Hexamilion Wall had long-guarded the isthmus of Corinth, but had fallen into a state of disrepair and abandonment. Now, Antigonos decreed, it would be rebuilt; let the Ottomans mortar it with their blood, should they dare to return, he told his closest of confidants. Theophilos Palaiologos -- wounded in the hand and the hip during the night-time attack upon the Turks -- would remain behind to aid Asen in his endeavour.
Zaganos Pasha, Antigonos' lieutenants told him, was still within the Morea with a significant host; a wily man, as cruel as he was intelligent, a true devotee to the young Sultan. His force was highly mobile and professional. John Hunyadi -- pale with grief over the loss of his eldest son, Ladislaus -- urged patience. Zaganos Pasha's only option was to return across the Isthmus; Mehmed's admirals would not risk ferrying such a large force by sea, he deduced.
Rhangabes, however, knew that leaving a wolf loose in the sheepfold was to invite disaster. A furious argument between the Emperor's champion and the Hungarian broke out. It was ultimately Theophilos, that great, wounded man, who calmed the mood; allow Rhangabes to range out in search of Zaganos, he told the Emperor, with all of the horsemen available -- a significant host indeed -- and the infantry would remain behind to ward the Isthmus.
Antigonos agreed to this. On the 20th of February, the young Emperor and his cavalry filed out of Corinth; accompanied only by a muted farewell, hooves clattering, armour rustling and creaking, all of their minds filled with thoughts of violence and the quiet peace that would surely follow.
For his actions against the people of the Peloponnese, Zaganos would forever be remembered as 'Zaganos the Devil,' -- a veritable boogeyman; the name of whom mothers would use to scare their children to sleep or good behaviour -- and the tales of his actions; the slaughter, the mutilations, the acts of rape, would haunt the Romans for generations to come.
Entire towns were massacred. Zaganos Pasha, now knowing that he was cut-off from his defeated master, would not go quietly.
And he had prey in his sight: the host of Thomas Palaiologos.
They came out of Patras, nearly two thousand men -- foot-soldiers mostly, but with a squadron of professional cavalry who had fought against Turahan Bey in his earlier invasion -- with the Emperor's uncle at their head. Zaganos Pasha ordered them shadowed and, as they crossed the River Elissonas, launched his attack.
The Despot's army, caught between the two banks, was decimated. Turks swarmed out of the trees, their cries echoing into the air, their arrows feathering the poor Romans. Thomas himself was badly wounded in the opening moments of the battle and, upon seeing him slump over in the saddle, his men began to panic; retreating back into the water, losing all form of coherence, fighting in small knots of warriors as the Turkish horsemen circled, hacking, shooting men down with arrows, the water churning and frothing red as blood was spilled in monstrous quantities.
Thomas Palaiologos' veteran horsemen gathered around the stricken Despot and escorted him to safety; but the infantry, thus abandoned, were surrounded and put to the sword. Others were trampled or drowned. A company of spearmen, rallying together, escaped into the nearby foothills and there endured a further six hours of conflict before Zaganos Pasha, seeing his numbers being whittled away, ordered his warriors off.
It was a disaster. With most of his army dead, the Emperor's uncle was forced to return to Patras in defeat.
Still, Zaganos Pasha's host had suffered. Now the cunning man decided to splinter his host. He took the largest warband, six hundred or more men, and decided that he would try for the Isthmus. The others, he commanded, must find their own passage back to Ottoman territory.
As February passed into March, Antigonos Keraunos and his horsemen encountered several of these bands of horsemen and repaid them in kind for their actions at the Elissonas. Still, Zaganos Pasha remained at large; riding out of the darkness to terrorise the Romans and disappearing just as quickly.
Antigonos' mood was foul. He felt helpless. His men, saddlesore and dreaming of their homes, were eager to find the Turks; surely they knew that Zaganos' supplies would be running low? Sooner or later, he would need to meet them in battle.
But he did not.
Instead, Zaganos directed his men against the Isthmus. His squadron of horsemen, half-starved, hunted, hollow-cheeked and glassy-eyed, struck early one morning. They struck the construction site that had taken place around the ruined Hexamilion Wall; burning what they could, hacking and slashing with their swords, but found the way barred. They fought desperately, but outnumbered by the infantry that Antigonos had left behind, were encircled and speared and lanced.
Zaganos Pasha, the tale goes, was as slippery as a weasel: and just as vicious. He slipped from his armour and fled into the sea, arrows and missiles falling about him, and somehow managed to reach the Sultan unscathed -- if exhausted.
The hunt for the Turks continued for a further month and half. Some managed to evade the Emperor's armies and returned to Turkish territory, but most -- those poor and damned souls, as an Ottoman writer later put it -- were butchered.
The Morea was finally secure. Now, the rebuilding could begin.