Part 121: Adventures of Flavius Belisarius (al-Rumi)The fictional writings of a rather unremarkable man, leading a small garrison stationed in Galicia...
The Adventures of Flavius Belisarius (al-Rumi)
Early in 1821, word reaches the massive city of Qadis that Sahim Tirruni has issued a guarantee of the Majlis' independence, warning the greedy Almoravid kings to the south against any attacks.
This news is quickly discarded by Zulfiqar, Grand Vizier of the Majlis and Dictator of Qadis, knowing full well that it was his responsibility to defend against the inevitable Almoravid invasion. And that was precisely what he meant to do, with the 75000-strong Majlisi Guard training and drilling on a daily basis, ready for war to break out at any moment.
Of course, the widely-popular Flavius Belisarius - a Roman who converted to Islam some decades back - was given command of the Guard. His tactical skills were unmatched, with the general having mastery over all aspects of warfare.
Already, the 1820s was looking to be a decade of blood, as wars broke out all across the world. This news was met with little enthusiasm by either Zulfiqar or Belisarius, however, as both were indifferent to anything and anyone that didn't have a direct impact on Iberia.
That is, until the Almoravid Sultan rudely declared war late in January that year, in what could only be described as a deathwish. A 20000-strong Berber army crossed into Majlisi territory, razing and looting the coastal cities dotting eastern Iberia.
Tirruni immediately declared his intention to intervene in the war, leading his troops from their barracks in Occitania across the Pyrenees and into Iberia on a forced march.
Flavius Belisarius, however, was already taking matters into his own hands. With the disciplined and loyal Majlisi Guard at his back, the general crossed into the Mahdiyyah and attacked a large army guarding Cordoba.
And with the peerless Belisarius leading Majlisi forces, the battle could only end one way, with the Sunni fanatics smartly defeated and forced to flee northwards.
Belisarius then pointed his troops westward, pinning down another large Mahdist army, and once again crushing it through his inimitable tactical genius.
By then the Berbers had besieged the fortress in Granada, so Belisarius retraced his footsteps and fell back to Majlisi territory, attacking the Almoravid army just below the walls of Granada. And in another strategic masterpiece that would've dazzled the rich and poor, young and old, great and small alike, the Almoravid army was brutally massacred to a man with negligible Majlisi losses.
With all threats to Qadisi territory now alleviated, Belisarius lay siege to Qurtuba itself, intent on destroying the Mahdi's legitimacy in a single decisive strike. And after a siege of three months, the walls of the holy city were finally breached, with thousands of Majlisi soldiers pouring into the city.
Raed al-Zulfiqar, who had been invited to join the siege in its final days by Belisarius al-Rumi, gave the Majlisi Guard free reign to rape the city. Hoping to irreversibly purge any Mahdist loyalties in the city, he ordered that all monuments and statues, pilgrimage sites and graves, plastered mosques and domes be torn down and destroyed. As only one with the foresight of Flavius Belisarius could have seen, however, this massively angered the Sunni masses of Iberia, who had all looked to Qurtuba as a holy city of Islam.
Unrest and anger quickly began bubbling to the surface, with revolts and rebellions breaking out all across southern Iberia. And Flavius Belisarius, who was as calculating as he was clever, chose this moment to pounce. With the help of a few loyal army divisions and the untapped power of the unwashed masses, Belisarius launched a coup in which he managed to seize power in Qadis, imprisoning Raed al-Zulfiqar and forcing the Majlis to declare him Grand Vizier instead.
Whilst chaos erupted in the south, Sahim Tirruni managed to quash any remaining Mahdist resistance in the north, leaving the road to all of Castille and Leon open to him.
Belisarius was crowned as the new Grand Vizier and de facto Dictator of the Majlis, with the Ulema in Qadis even declaring him a man blessed by Allah, but the general didn't have any time to waste. Determined to stop Tirruni from amassing too much land, Belisarius launched northward on another campaign within a week of his coronation, pinning down and crushing the last large Mahdist force in the battle of Bejar.
Capturing any cities and forts he came across, Belisarius then besieged Batalyaws, a large fortress with authority over much of southwestern Iberia. Not even the gates of Heaven could withstand the guns of Belisarius forever, however, so it wasn't long before Batalyaws fell to him.
With the Mahdiyyah utterly broken, the Almoravid Sultan finally agreed to negotiate an end to the war, surrendering all his claims on Iberia to Tirruni and Belisarius.
That wasn't good enough for Flavius, however, and the Grand Vizier agreed to meet with Tirruni in a conference to carve Iberia up between the two of them. Nobody truly knows what was said in that meeting, but we do know that Tirruni was left awed and petrified by the sheer magnetism of the great Flavius Belisarius, and consequently agreed to become a vassal to the famous general-turned-dictator.
And thus, in one unbelievable stroke, Belisarius had united Qadis, the Mahdiyyah and Tirruni's conquests into a single powerful empire. The next logical step, of course, was crowning himself Sultan of Sultans and Emperor of Europe, with Sahim Tirruni graciously surrendering the titles to him.
All this accomplished by a single man, and all in less than a year. Some would call it propaganda, others an embellished exaggeration, but these words are truer than the verses of the Quran. Before his death, Flavius Belisarius would undoubtedly rule over an empire that would turn the Mediterranean into his personal pool.