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Salve! Today’s post is on the progress of Laurel Emperor, plus a snippet from a character we’ve seen and heard a lot about, and even dealt with, but never actually read about from his own point of view. Anyways, onward to progress!

Word Count: 35,107

Final Goal: 95,000-100,000 words

Chapters: 12 so far

Average size of chapters – 10 pages (5 full word document pages, generally doubled to make the normal chapter size).

Locations of Interest – Thrace, Rome, Byzantium, Alexandria

Read more to find out who our mystery chapter POV character is today!

“Drive them forwards, damn you! Or I’ll have your head on a pike!” Kruscus Minnicus ordered. Spittle flew from his mouth in anger, his dark eyes boring into the target of his wrath. Senior Tribune Marco Feranci of the XI Italian saluted stiffly, before turning his horse and galloping away. Minnicus cursed him as he rode away. Such incompetence. He’s not fit to be a damn priest. Forget being a soldier. Putting that aside, Minnicus brushed at his sleeves, knocking away the tiny bits of mud that always seemed to find a way onto him during a march.

“Move forward men! Crush them before us!” He shouted. Atop his horse, he made an imposing figure, his silver-plated prosthetic pointing forward, urging his men onwards. His golden breastplate shone in the sunlight, bathing those around him in it’s bright glow. Deep ranks of legionnaires from the XI Italian, III Italian, XVI Hispania, and newer auxiliary formations surrounded him.

In addition to all the infantry, his own group of Athanatoi formed a perfect cordon between him and his soldiers, blank steel faceplates covering grim faces, large oval shields and heavy cataphract style lances, plus scaled-steel links covering a heavy, knee and wrist length tunic. Behind them, a gaggle of messengers waited his orders, most the younger siblings or even children of political allies.

Minnicus looked out at the thin line of legionnaires opposing him. “Damn loyalists. Fighting for the wrong branch of the stupidest family around.” He muttered. Around him, the legions were moving forward, beginning the slow climb up the hill towards the enemy lines at the top. Behind them, the now-ruined front of the Komotini fortress loomed like an old man’s half rotten teeth. Just like Sabinus’ when I reveal who really is in control of this government. I cannot wait to see the look on that man’s face. Thick steel bolts and spheres of greek fire arced out from the enemy position. His own firebase, a now heavily cratered and smoking position in the middle of the field, responded, the exhausted crews struggling to reload their weapons.

“Get some more men on those weapons. I don’t want them silent! Suppress their artillery.” A messenger galloped off, after repeating the order – twice. All the messengers had learned that to mis-communicate an order was to face severe reprimand from the general. His legions were halfway up the hill now. Minnicus spurred his horse, trotting up to catch up to the men. Repeater bolts lanced out from the defensive lines, cutting down some men. Many of the legions had shifted into testudo formation, their overlapping shields protecting them from the worst of the repeater fire.

Remember that Book 4 of the Steam Empire Chronicles is now available for sale on AmazonSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble. Print copies should be available by next Tuesday or so, as I’m simply awaiting for the proofs to ship!

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