War with the Scyths (1091) : Victory at Levunium (29 April 1091) : Plots against the Emperor
I the Emperor was now informed that the Scythians had detached a division and sent it against Choerobacchi, and that their approach was imminent. As he was a man swift to act and ever proved himself ready in sudden crises-in spite of not having had a week’s rest yet in his palace nor even taken a bath, nor shaken off the dust of battle – he at once assembled the troops appointed as garrison of the city and all the recruits there were, about 500 in number, and after seeing to their equipment all through the night, he marched out at dawn.
On this occasion he made his expedition against the Scythians known, and to all his connections by blood or marriage and to the men of superior fortune who had enrolled themselves in the army (it was then Friday in Septuagesima week) he sent the following orders by his messengers: ” I for my part am leaving because I have heard of the Scythians’ rapid movement on Choerobacchi; you others, however, must march and join us during Quinquagesima week. As I do not wish to appear severe and inconsiderate, I grant you the days from this Septuagesima Friday to the Monday in Quinquagesima week as a short breathing-space.” Thereupon the Emperor marched straight to Choerobacchi, and on entrance closed the gates, and took charge of the keys himself.
Then he stationed all those of his servants who were loyal on the battlements of the wall with strict injunctions not to lie down, but to keep a tireless watch all round the walls to prevent anybody’s coming up there, stooping down and leaning over to communicate with the Scythians. At sunrise the Scythians, as expected, occupied and took up their stand on the ridge adjacent to the wall of Choerobacchi. About six thousand of them were afterwards set apart and dispersed for foraging and went as far as Decatum itself which is only some ten stades distant from the Queen of Cities ; it is from this fact, I imagine, that it got its name.
The rest of the Scythians had remained where they were. The Emperor mounted by the wall to the parapets and carefully inspected the plains and hills to see whether perchance a second force was coming to join the Scythians, or whether they were meditating the planting of ambuscades to impede anyone who might possibly have the intention of attacking them. However, he noticed nothing of the kind but saw at the second hour of the day that they were not prepared for battle but had turned their attention to food and rest. He did not dare to engage them in a pitched battle, considering the large number they were, but was indignant at the thought that they might ravage the whole district and actually approach the very walls of the Queen of Cities, and that too when he had quitted the city for the purpose of driving them out of the county.
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