Chapter 557: Deciding the response to Taranto

“What do you think Dionysius would do once he learned about it?” Davos asked again.

Hearing this, the two men in the tent fell into thinking.

After a while, Henipolis disclosed his uncertain guess, “The Syracusans’ attack on our camp was to break our encirclement but failed. So now that Dionysius knows we are attacking their allies in Sicily… If I were him, I would definitely choose to negotiate a truce! A genuine truce! I think he would even be willing to pay the price to make peace just to save Syracuse…”

“Your majesty, Dionysius might instead escape.” But as soon Tolmides said this, Henipolis immediately refuted, “Escape?! How could they escape?!! With our encirclement of Scylletium and our fleet's blockade, it would be difficult for the Syracusans to leave by land or sea!”

“Those tens of thousands of people could certainly not escape. However, Dionysius could flee by boat alone.”

“Do you mean that Dionysius would leave his tens of thousands of Syracusan soldiers who followed him into battle and quietly ran away alone just to survive?!” Due to his youth, Henipolis was hot-blooded and had a sense of justice that he couldn't imagine such cowardly behaviour. But working as a mercenary, Tolmides saw many ugly things.

“Whatever Dionysius planned to do, we will know tomorrow.” Davos said indifferently. Then he gave his order, “Tolmides, immediately tell Mithridates to send 30 triremes to Rhegium as soon as possible within two days and hand them over to Seclian.”

Seclian wanted to attack Sicily but worried that his fleet's strength wasn't enough to completely suppress the Syracusan fleet and its allies guarding the mainland. Thus he requested 30 triremes when he sent a messenger to report the battle situation in Sicily. In fact, Theonia had captured several ships, most were triremes, from both Syracuse and Taranto, after several battles. However, they were anchored in the military port in the Crati river as they did not have enough sailors. But with the addition of Rhegium, whose territory was not harmed during the war, they now had enough sailors to use these 30 ships.

“Understood, milord.”

“Also, tell Mithridates to tighten the blockade on the port tonight!” Evidently, Davos took note of what Tolmides had said.

After seeing off Tolmides, Henipolis asked confusedly, “Your majesty, will Dionysius really leave his troops here and escape to Syracuse alone?”

Davos thought for a while and slowly explained, “It's possible. Some people lived for everyone, while some lived for themselves. And judging from Dionysius' past behaviour, it is clear that he cares more about his interest.”

“Would the first legion be in danger if Dionysius managed to escape?” Henipolis asked worriedly.

Davos lightly said, “Aristias, a Catanian, had sent his younger brother to the southeast of Sicily six months ago. And with Catania, Leontinoi, Sikuri, Taunis, and even Syracuse taking so many freemen and slaves as labourers, and with Dionysius taking his army to attack Magna Graecia, an opportunity opened up for them. In addition, the first legion was there to assist, so mayhem would surely happen in Sicily. Hence even if Dionysius escapes, he will no longer be able to coerce their allied city-states as easily as before the war…”

Although Davos was well aware of Antrapolis' arrangement in Sicily, the distance between the two places was a bit far away that reports would often be delayed for two days, making it difficult for him to control the developments. So before he sent the first legion, he had already thought about the worst: The first legion would create some trouble in Sicily but get wiped out.

But as long as they could shock the Sicilian city-state and make the Greeks of Sicily revolt against Syracuse and ruin Syracuse’s war potential, this sacrifice is definitely worth it! However, Davos could only bury such a mentality of regarding the first legion as an abandoned child at the bottom of his heart as it is impossible for him to say it out.

Seeing Henipolis lost in his thought, Davos walked to his desk filled with letters and papers. Apart from commanding the war and handling military matters, he also handled Theonia's government affairs. Every day, Kunogelata and Cornelius would write the issues and important government affairs that the Senate could not resolve. Then a messenger will ride to the camp, wait for Davos to make a decision and reply, and then return to Thurii. Thus, people could see messengers in special attire galloping back and forth daily on the road.

Suddenly, Davos saw a roll of unopened letters in the middle of his desk, so he asked with suspicion, “When did this letter arrive?”

“Oh?!” Henipolis then remembered, “It was delivered at noon and was said to be very important. However, you were commanding the battle then, so I waited for a while…then I forgot about it…”

Davos stared at Henipolis, who bowed his head and admitted his mistake. He then said sternly, “You are still not a qualified clerk! Next time, you can't make such a mistake again!!!”

Henipolis repeatedly bowed and said, “Your majesty, I will not let it happen again!”

After Davos unrolled the papyrus, his expression turned serious under the flickering oil lamp.

“Your majesty, what happened?” Asked Henipolis hastily.

Davos tapped his finger on the desk and said, “The Messapians and Peucetians led a massive invasion on Taranto.”

“Ah..they tore up the armistice agreement!” Henipolis cried out in alarm.

“If an agreement is not backed by strength, it would just be a piece of scrap paper.” Davos said coldly, “Due to the invasion of the Syracusan army, the Tarantines tore up our agreement. So the goddess Nemesis sent her retribution: Now that we captured Taranto's main force, the Messapians and Peucetians will naturally be greedy.”

“But Taranto couldn't compare to our Theonia! Would they be able to hold back the Messapi-Peuceti alliance?” Asked Henipolis. Although he had not yet submitted his request to integrate Laos into Theonia to the Senate, he had already considered himself a Theonian. So rather than worrying about Taranto, he was more worried about the impact of Taranto's capture on the Theonia Union.

“They naturally couldn't. This time, the Messapi-Peuceti army gathered 30,000 warriors while Taranto doesn't even have 3,000 citizens who are old enough to be a soldier.” Davos tapped his finger on the letter, with his eyes glistening, “That's why the Tarantine Senate urgently sent an envoy to Thurii, hoping that we can release the 10,000 or so Tarantine captives we held. For that, they are even willing to join our Theonian Alliance.”

After hearing Davos, Henipolis' eyes widened in shock. This is Taranto! Unlike Heraclea and Metapontum, Taranto is a traditionally powerful city-state in Magna Graecia, not weaker than Crotone! Although some of their allies in the Theonia Alliance have long histories, none were prominent city-states like Locri and Crotone. So once Taranto joins, it would undoubtedly improve Theonia Alliance's status among the Greek city-states significantly. (Although Rhegium joined the Theonia Alliance, their relationship was more like equal than a subordinate because Theonia wasn't too powerful back then.)

“Heni, how should we respond to the Tarantine's request?” Davos' question brought Henipolis back to his senses, who exclaimed with excitement, “Agree to it! We should agree to Taranto!”

“Oh!” Davos sat back in his chair, looked at the excited Henipolis and playfully said, “We should forgive Taranto easily? Forgive them for their collusion with Syracuse, betraying our sacred pledge, wantonly attacking our allies, trampling our territory and slaughtering our citizens?! I am afraid our people would rather see the Messapi-Peuceti capture Taranto to vent their hatred!”

“But…but our strength would greatly improve if we grant Taranto's request!” Henipolis refuted.

“They would just be a subordinate city. They would neither increase our tax revenue nor will they do their best to send their main force in a war. What's more, they would unlikely provide help when we encounter difficulties. Rather, they might even withdraw from the alliance at any time. On the contrary, we must adhere to our oath and save them when a disaster happens. Heraclea and Metapontum in this war is a good example.” Davos said disapprovingly, unfazed by this seemingly favourable proposal of the Tarantines.

After Davos said that, the excited Henipolis gradually calmed down. After thinking for a moment, he asked, “Your majesty, do you want to refuse this request? And just let those aborigines capture Taranto?”

“No! Once the Messapi-Peuceti alliance captures Taranto, Metapontum and Heraclea will be in danger. Furthermore, Thurii's defence is now empty, and I don't want to see enemies invading the land of Amendolara again!” Davos sighed helplessly and said, “It's just that the conditions proposed by the Tarantines aren't enough.”

“Your majesty, could it be that you want to integrate Taranto into the Theonia Union?!” Henipolis asked in surprise. Then he said, “I don't think those arrogant Tarantines would agree.” As a student of Theonia's Akademia, Henipolis saw the behaviours of the Tarantine scholars from the Pythagorean school when they had an exchange.

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