The Journey of the Five Thousand Myth in Terrarum | World Anvil

The Journey of the Five Thousand

The inspiring tale of 5,000 allied Rasennan soldiers who fought for Shahanshah Yarhmuz in his civil war and their nearly twenty-year journey back home through the hostile lands of the far east.


Chronicled in the work of one of their lead commanders, a man named Theocares, the Journey of the 5,000 is a simple tale of adventure and the triumph of human will against nearly insurmountable odds. The journey began when the theme troops of the east were called to aid the Rasennan aligned Shahanshah Yarhmuz against a dangerous civil war that could bring an end to the peace that the region had been enjoying under him. The 5,000 were led initially by three men, Dardaius is the commanding Domestic but is killed on the initial march to "Evanshar" the native name that the Rasanid lands are referred to. The other two men are both childhood friends, Theocares and Araeius who lead the remainder of the expedition without their domestic. Both Theocares and Araeius led the retinue very far east, among the furthest traveled of any Rasennan unit in the long history of the state. Eventually, the unit grouped up with the waiting Rasanid force under Yarhmuz who greeted them warmly but the Shahanshah's troops dismiss the force as inconsequential and a disgrace to the name of the already honorless Rasenna. In the battle at the Zab river, the Shahanshah's army is crushed and utterly routed with the leader himself being killed in the fighting. This development made the lands of Evanshar dangerous for the foreigners as now without the support of the friendly Shahanshah, they would most definitely come under attack from the forces of both sides. The night after the battle at Zab, the 5,000 broke out from the Rasanids, away from the remnants of the Shahanshah's forces, and came to rest and encamp in the hills nearby. The 5,000 now had to find a way home, to the shores of the Cassena and into friendly territory. The march back home would take nearly twenty years and the 5,000 men who began on the foothills of the Zab river would only be around a hundred when they returned home.

The beginning of the journey began with some light fighting with the pursuing Rasanid loyalists who the 5,000 managed to evade by fording the river in defensive square order, all without supposedly taking a single loss. A week into the journey, the food supplies packed for the trip ran out and for the remainder of the march, the force was required to live off the foreign lands they now resided in. The next events of the journey occur in vast differences in time.

The 5,000 march to a mountain pass which they discover is blocked by a marauding mountain tribe. The 5,000 encamp through the night but Theocares leads a small contingent of good soldiers along a steep footpath in the night and start lighting several campfires on the other side of the rocky mountain. This startles the mountain folk who believe that the 5,000 have received reinforcements and so they hastily withdraw in the early morning, allowing the 5,000 to pass through the path. Nearly a week later, the 5,000 come across remnants of this same tribe and engage them in battle, utterly defeating them and taking their provisions for themselves.

Much later, the 5,000 are set upon by what seem to be scouts of the new Shahanshah, the same rebel who defeated Yarhmuz at Zab and who is eager to capture this Rasennan force. The 5,000 routs this scouting force but know that a larger force must be on the way. Theocares and Araeius are then forced to push their men to the breaking point and climb up a very steep hill and wait for the arrival of the Rasanid force. Just before the sun sets, Araeius and some of his scouts report that the Rasanids have arrived and are fielding a force nearly ten times their own. This leads to a battle which is sometimes called the Battle of the Heights where the less than 5,000 men face off against a force Theocares describes as measuring in the 30,000's.

Against this imposing force, the 5,000 use their great terrain advantage to its fullest effect as wave after wave of Rasanids crash against their line in the small gorge below and on the steep slope of the heights. Araeius leads the force on the slope while Theocares is commanding the men in the gorge. While the fight in the gorge is largely successful, the men on the slope for being whittled down and fall in greater numbers. Hearing of the situation, Theocares orders his men to shout victory chants and make as much commotion as they can in order to give the impression that the Rasanids in the gorge have fallen back. Theocares and his men make so much noise that the forces on the slopes are convinced that their position will be overrun by the morale boosted men of Theocares and so they pull back and the day is won. For the time, the 5,000 are safe but the Rasanids learn of this and remain encamped nearby, ready to ambush the force the next morning. Again, the men are forced to light their campfires and withdraw in the night, leaving many of their belongings in their empty camp to make sure the Rasanids buy that they are still tucked away on the hill.

By this time, the men of the formerly 5,000 Rasennan troops number less than a thousand, many died from exposure, dehydration, disease, and from the intense fighting of the previous weeks. Theocares himself had been forced to scoop out his eye after it became infected from a wound sustained in the gorge. Araeius had begun appearing frail and sickly as by this time he has not eaten in a few days and was forced to ride atop one of the few pack animals the group had left. Generally, the men appeared more as withered wraiths than the strong and capable soldiers they were when they began the journey. They have been deep in enemy territory for nearly two decades and some of the men were reaching their fifties and sixties. The march back west had taken every ounce of strength, skill, endurance, and hope they had and soon their faith would be rewarded when Araeius' scouts reported that they had arrived on the shore of the Cassena. Upon word coming back from the booming faces of these men, Theocares says he briefly passed out but when he awoke, he began weeping and embraced the beleaguered Araeius who joined him. On finally seeing the shore of the Cassena, the men are said to have begun chanting in what Theocares describes as the purest and most childlike glee,

"Mare! Mare!"
"The sea! The sea!"

Upon returning to friendly territory, the men of the formerly 5,000 strong theme troops of the east had returned in the number of just over eighty men. These eighty men were the pale remnant of a force long ago thought to have been lost in the far east of that dreaded land known as Evanshar. Upon the return of these men, the themes threw a day of celebration across the eastern empire in acclaim for the stories trickling in about the heroic journey of these men and what they had gone through to return to their homes. In the aftermath of the journey, among the first men to die would be Araeius, one half of the steadfast commanders of the storied 5,000. In the memory of his old friend, Theocares would transcribe what the journey was like and what the memory of it was like for the men who lived it. The story is chronicled in a work titled, "Semper Actius" or Always Forward, a work still with us today in its entirety which famously ends with a simple send-off by Theocares, who is thought to be the last man from the expedition to pass away,

"Venturis ventis, do omnia mea."
to the coming winds, I give all I have"

Historical Basis

Compiled into a long manuscript by Theocares, Semper Actius without much rewriting has survived entirely to the modern day. This was mainly due to its wide popularity which led to it being copied often and frequently. The tale even etched itself into the imagination and culture of the eastern theme troops as they often carried scribbles of quotations of the work with them when venturing east against the Rasanids. It is via the association with the eastern soldiers that the majority of the work is saved as compared to the west, the east was left remarkably stable during the climatic final days of the Empire.

Cultural Reception

The work is often quoted and commentated on rhetorically by speechmakers even today. The simple tale of a group of men with the will and strength simply to return home resonated with many in the years since and has been a staple of life in the east since the days of the Empire.

In Literature

Detailed in Theoacres' work Semper Actius which told the story through his own viewpoint and with various commentaries on the journey through what he imagined his men went through without him directly being there.
Date of First Recording
~200 B.E
Date of Setting
~240's to 220's B.E


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