"The analogy of the 'chain of command' is completely wrong.  A proper command structure is set up not as a chain, but as a net.  When a strand in a net breaks, the strands running perpendicular to it keep it from unravelling while the strands running parallel to it take up the slack.  The chain breaks the moment any single link fails. The net is as strong as the sum of its strands, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link." ~ Norton Basil, military theorist and historian



Lorist decided to reorganize his military yet again. He'd learned his lesson from the rebellion. This time he'd completely separate the military and administrative branches of the house. The only forces that had been separate from the administration thus far were the three legions and the Northsea fleet which could and would only move by Lorist's command. The rest of the house's forces, the sentry legions, the constabularies, and the other guard forces not associated with a legion, could be commanded by any household official of appropriate rank. Technically even Spiel, who was as far removed from a military commander as could be, could order any of the forces to do anything.

This was, as far as institutional structure was concerned, why the rebels could so quickly and so easily take over the forces within the Northlands. Take the local sentry legion, for example. It recruited almost exclusively from the house's captives. Since the legion worked almost more as a general labour force than a military unit per se, it was only natural for it to be closely entangled with the local administrations. It was neither uncommon, nor untoward for the legion to dispatch units to help administrative officials.

Hansk had asked for help with suppressing the mountain barbarian revolt during his final months as a legitimate household official, and Spiel had also asked for help on occasion with transporting spoils of war. Even Charade had, at times, mobilized the Ragebear Knights.

Lorist's plan now was to have dedicated and independent bureaucracies to deal with his military and administration. The department that was to handle the military would deal with everything related to it, from logistics to recruitment to compensation and deployment. Officials could only be part of one of the two bureaus and only officials from the military bureau could command forces.

Lorist's biggest issue was what to call these two new institutions. Maybe he could call it the military department, or perhaps the bureau of military administration? The People's Liberation Army? Or maybe the Self Defence Force? No, they all sounded to cringey. A severe headache pending, he decided to put the naming aside for now.

Lorist didn't have an issue finding people to head this new institution. Potterfang and Malek were the two most obvious choices. Putting either in charge of the institution was really no different from making them his knight commander. They would be answerable only to him and had authority over everyone else in the institution.

Charade had been Chief knight for over a decade now, but everyone knew he was not the most suited for the title. Charade's strength lay in his administrative capabilities to begin with. He was the only one to have not made a breakthrough in the last seven years and was the weakest of his peers in his rank. His father-in-law, being a blademaster, was not very happy this abysmal state of affairs.

If the position only needed combat ability, then Loze would be the obvious choice. His nickname, 'Fiercetiger', was indeed very apt. He stood above all the other knights -- whether it be as a general or a warrior. His approach to combat was simple, almost thuggish, he kept attacking like a crazed madman until his enemy collapsed. He was currently on the edge of becoming a blademaster and no one would be surprised if he announced a breakthrough in the next three years.

Unfortunately for Loze, the position required more than personal combat ability or general military leadership. He would no longer be the commander of a legion, but would stand at the head of a bureaucracy. He had to win people over with charm, not just brute force. In this regard, few could not best him. Loze was a proud, stubborn, and arrogant man. He didn't listen to anyone besides Lorist and a few close friends. Even Charade, as his superior, could not get him to do anything. He was the penultimate medieval warrior, fantastic at combat, to a fault, but horrible at everything else. Not only did he have a completely unlikable character, he was a drunkard and a lecher. If he was measured by any metric besides his combat ability, his uprightness as a man would be in doubt. Well, even if none of this was an issue, even if he were the perfect candidate, his recent insubordination meant he could not be trusted with overall command of the military.

Besides, Lorist did not think Loze would want the position, anyway. He was made for the battlefield, he would never be able to stomach the idea of sitting in an office thousands of kilometers away from the front line. Even if there were no battles to be fought, Lorist couldn't picture him sitting behind a desk and signing paperwork.

Potterfang one of the other options. He was the only knight able to compete with Loze in the arena. He was Loze's antithesis when it came to their combat style. If Loze was a thug, then Potterfang was a turtle. Make no mistake, he stood no chance of winning a fight against Loze, but Loze also stood no chance of winning a fight against him. While Potterfang had no strikes that could take Loze down, Loze had no strikes that could break his defence. All the fights they'd fought over the years also went the same way. Loze would attack furious and Potterfang would just defend until Loze either got exhausted or became completely furious with frustration and gave up.

The general defined the army. Tigersoar, which Loze commanded, was a ferocious beast on the battlefield. They specialized in offensive operations. Firmrock, on the other hand, under Potterfang's command, could hold any enemy force no matter how big, at bay. Tigersoar was Lorist's spear -- or, more aptly, his bludgeon -- and Firmrock was his shield.

Making Potterfang would be the obvious conclusion, and certainly the one with which the rest of the military would be most happy, if not for Malek. Lorist was of the opinion that Malek was the best candidate for the job. Lorist biggest concern with Potterfang was that he was too timid. He would likely try to play the good guy and would consequently be unable to make cold decisions. Malek, had no such inclinations.

He was the most feared night under Lorist's command. Some even questioned if he could even feel anything. He could not only make tough, impartial judgements, but he could enforce them no matter who the victim was. Even Loze could not escape him. He was also a very decisive man, and unwavering loyal to Lorist, almost to a fault. As far as Lorist was concerned, there just was no competition. The only issue was that Malek didn't have the greatest reputation, which wasn't surprising. Not many could like the stoic. He had few friends, and they were mostly officials of similar rank with whom he'd served for years.

Lorist would face stiff resistance if he tried to appoint him to the office. In the end he decided to compromise. He'd appoint both Potterfang and Malek to the position. Potterfang would be the head of whatever the military ended up being called, and Malek would be his second-in-command. Potterfang would be the military's face, whilst Malek would be the one doing all the actual work.

Besides preserving the military's integrity, Lorist also wanted to separate his government to bring down its overhead. The near constant war since his ascension had forced him to build a massive military, but now that the house was in a stable position and unlikely to expand in the near future, it could not afford to maintain such an extravagant force, much less justify the expense. Lorist could not afford to spend two thirds of his annual income on the military.

Hansk's rebellion was a painful wake-up call. The five sentry legions stood at 200 thousand men and manned his lands' defenses. They were reserve forces for all intents and purposes, they never saw combat, nor would they ever unless the house was put in a dire position. Certainly they didn't need to enjoy the same benefits as his front-line troops? In the past he had used these reserves as a way to quickly absorb the immigrants, but now that he would not see large force migrations for some time, he had no need of this bloated setup.

And Hansk's rebellion showed him how unreliable the setup was, anyway. The men in the reserves served there out of a pragmatic understanding of their need for money, not out of any sense of loyalty to him. Then again, this should be obvious, would Lorist serve a lord that had just ripped him and his family away from his ancestral homeland, marched them across the continent and told him that he now had to live here and serve him and that he didn't have a choice in the matter, loyally? Of course not. If the Auguslo had done this to him, he would have sworn on his ancestors and honour as a man that he would one day kill him. At the very least he would have no qualms joining a rebellion or in some other way betraying the man.

Since the reserve were only doing the job for the money, and had no sense of loyalty to him, they followed orders without questioning whether they were appropriate or not or whether they came from the right people. As long as their pay would be handed over as always, they didn't care. In that case there was no need to pay them any more than was necessary.

Lorist wrote down the names of the forces he considered part of the active military. 'Firmrock', 'Tigersoar', 'Jaeger', 'Northsea', 'Ragebear', and 'artillery brigade' were on the list. The rest were at best reserves. He decided to form a single legion out of the five current sentry legions which would join the others as active forces. The men not put in this new legion would be transferred to the local towns guard.

Each of the legions would be 48 thousand strong; Northsea was 12 thousand strong; and Ragebear 15 thousand strong. Lorist's personal guard had three thousand members, and the artillery had another three thousand. With this the military would stand at only 220 thousand. Until now no legion had less than 60 thousand men, but there was no need for such a bloated military. Years of experience had taught him why no legion was bigger than 50 thousand.

Most militaries actually only had 10 to 12 thousand men in a division. A few divisions would be groups together into a legion, which was what a general commanded. While his legions had 60 thousand men, his generals would only ever deploy about 40 thousand at a time, no more than a standard foreign legion. The rest stood in reserve. He had a force which looked impressive, but was no bigger than a small legion in effective size on the battlefield.

What, then, was the point to the extra 15 to 20 thousand troops? They were an extra expense that clearly had no effect on the actual combat strength of the legion in any given engagement. They were only a further financial, logistical, and command burden which slowed the legions down and meant that they couldn't respond as rapidly and effectively as their enemies. It wasn't, then, just about having the bigger force, but having a force of the right size that is used effectively.

Lorist cut one division out of each legion. The new legions were no different in size from other kingdom's legions. He could do this so easily now because none of the legions were at full strength after their last campaign. Had they been fully staffed, he would be trouble with what to do with the troops he removed, but, as things stood now, even with the cuts the legions would likely still need to recruit men to fill in their shortages.

With this matter dealt with, Lorist moved on to appointing new officers. Potterfang would stay in command of Firmrock; while he was the entire institution's head in name, it wouldn't add anything to his workload, so he could stay on as a field commander. Malek had an actual job to do, so his old position needed filling. Lorist put Belnick's name in the spot. It would be a demotion from general to legion sergeant-major and put him in a position that would see combat if they got involved in another war.

The commanders of Firmrock's third and fourth divisions were old schoolmates of Lorist, Wilson and Sybra. Wilson had asked for a leave of absence to focus on his training so he could break through to the gold rank. Lorist transferred the third sentry legion's general over to fill his command. It was technically both a demotion and not. While his rank dropped from general to colonel, he was also being moved from a reserve legion to an active force, so it balanced out. And, since his legion was going to be scrapped anyway, he couldn't really complain since this was the only way he could keep his job. Lorist decided to give him a fief, just to be on the safe side.

Tigersoar was the legion that would sea the smallest shuffle. Loze, Messen, Dulles and Eid Modrak all remained in their positions as commanders of the first through fourth divisions in order.

Jaeger would see the biggest changes in leadership, Colonel Freiyar, currently commander of the legion's fourth division, would be promoted to general and put in command of the entire legion. Josk would take his place as commander of the fourth division with a corresponding demotion to colonel for his disobedience. Loze and his legion were justified in returning to the frontline since they were responsible for moving the migrants and had to go back for the rest, but Josk had no reason, and no permission, to move. Lorist was already being very soft by demoting him just one rank. He could have stripped him of all command authority entirely if he wanted.

Besides being general of the army, Freiyar also took over command of the first division, Yuriy, Josk, and Waxima had command of the second through fourth divisions. However, Waxima had also submitted a request for a leave of absence for training. Rather than fill his spot himself, Lorist decided to leave it to them to decide.

The men and commanders from the now defunct sentry legions that weren't moved into the active units, were moved out of the military entirely and put into what was effectively civil law enforcement. They either fill in for the positions cleared in the constabulary by the rebellion, or joined town guards and other garrison forces. Lorist promoted Els to general and put him in command of the sole sentry legion, which he planned to make an all-rounder. Els would also command the legion's first division. Ovidis had command of the second division, Pajik would be put in command of the third, and the fourth would be filled at some point in the future. With the current leadership setup each legion had three gold-ranked knights in its senior most positions, so they wouldn't lose out to any enemy force.

Senbaud would stay on as Admiral and have command of Northsea and Terman stayed with Ragebear. Ragebear's function and position in the command structure was changed, however. They were no longer just a knight brigade, instead they were made effectively the military police and put under the direct command of whatever the institution would be named in the future. They would answer to Malek and Potterfang only, and to Potterfang only in his capacity as the institution's head, not as general of his legion.

Reidy stayed on as the captain of Lorist's personal guard, with the rank of major. As Sergeant-major Park had taken a leave of absence to focus on training for a year now, he was fortunate enough to not be embroiled in the rebellion. He had now successfully broke through and would return to his post at the end of the year. Howard was given command of the artillery brigade and was promoted to major. Sergeant-major Jim wanted to take a leave of absence once he recovered to focus on training as well.

As the sun grew lazy in the sky, Lorist finally finished the plans. Jinolio knocked on the door as Lorist stretched.

"Baron Kriston requests an audience."