"What remarkable times," said Zhonghli Quan to himself, as he had said daily in the five years since the Night of the Mists changed the world.
The Han Empires' premier general, known to all as the Immortal Tactician, pondered the opposing array as the last of his own troops took up their battle positions. The Crusade had taken his army far from home, and deep in to the vast steppes that formed the contested ground between the three empires of the world. He hadn't been certain until the night before which opposing army he'd encounter first, but scouts had reported during the evening that they'd discovered the camp of the Daqin Empire.
The sight across the shallow, almost imperceptible, valley between the two forces revealed that it was the Daqin, with their enormous shields and sturdy infantry, that would be the first opponent. In their own tongue they were called "Romans," Zhonghli Quan had been told, named after their city. A city that had conquered an empire! Remarkable, especially considering the conquest had been accomplished without the aid of the mists or magical beasts.
But now they were facing another empire that had also conquered its portion of the world without the aid of the mists, and Zhonghli Quan expected victory, even if hard-won.
The array of the Daqin appeared rather conventional, to Quan's practiced eye. In the center was a large mass of the huge-shielded infantry that formed the heart of a Daqin host, interspersed with some archers, a few magically mechanical construct warriors and some units of the steam-powered magical heavy infantry that the mists had made possible.
Off to Quan's left the enemy's flank was guarded by a couple of bodies of human cavalry accompanied by some giant wolves. On the right the flank was guarded more unconventionally with a few more magical mechanical constructs and a group of steam soldiers mounted on some giant bears. A small bodyguard of infantry surrounded a man wearing a conspicuous white robe. Clearly not a fighting man, Quan surmised he was a magician of some sort.
It appeared the enemy plan was to pierce the Han center and overwhelm them in hand-to-hand combat. It could work, if Quan gave them time.
But time was not what Quan planned to give them. On his left he posted a fearsome-looking detachment that should give the Daqin pause -- a luck Dragon and the Souls of Chance with a Great One brute and some magical Qilin. Quan doubted that the Daqin had seen them before. Zhonghli Quan, himself, would contest the center of the battlefield with his bodyguard, the human Tiger Division and the double-strength Honor and Glory divisions of terra cotta construct troops. An imposing, yet fragile force, Quan expected this to be the Yin, or ordinary force.
Quan intended the victory to be won by his Yang, or special force, on the right. Led by the frightening Hundun Spirit, this force would use fire and speed to overwhelm and roll up the flank of the Daqin host. The speed came from a Dragon and the Hizume and Thunder divisions of cavalry. The fire would some from the Phoenix Division of archers and the Raven Division of crossbows. Combining speed and fire was the Lightning Division of horse archers.
Quan cast his eye over to the Hundun Spirit and saw that he was ready. A nod of Quan's head was all the signal needed for the battle to begin.