Prior to the Dragonrise in 1625, there were approximately 15,000 Lunar soldiers in Dragon Pass, with the largest camps of some 10,000 soldiers being outside of the New Temple of the Reaching Moon. Another 2500 were garrisoned in the cities along the network of royal roads, and about 2500 were settled as military colonists in Wulfland and the Dundealos Valley. Tatius the Bright established his headquarters at the New Temple and it was the administrative center for the Provincial Army.
By Earth Season 1625, the New Temple of the Reaching Moon was ready to be consecrated. The Major and Minor Classes from the Lunar College of Magic were already there, having beaten off a Praxian warlord’s attempt to disrupt the preparations. Lunar Rune priests and Rune lords from across the Provinces, nearly every significant Lunar client and ally in the occupied lands, and even sacred nobles from Glamour had gathered to perform the rituals that would extend the Glowline over Dragon Pass. The General Leader of the Guide for the Lunar Way, Icilius Overholy, and Tatius the Bright oversaw the ceremony, under the benevolent supervision of Appius Luxius. Although Jar-eel herself was not present, Enerian Scarlet, a sacred Red Goddess priestess from Glamour and granddaughter of the Red Goddess, assumed the role of the Red Goddess.
When the Brown Dragon awoke, nearly everyone who had gathered at the New Temple were devoured and even their spirits cannot be contacted. Overnight, the Lunar Empire lost some 10,000 soldiers, as well as most of the Lunar Rune masters in Sartar and much of the Seven Mothers cult leadership in the Lunar Provinces. Those kings and chiefs loyal to the Lunar Empire were also lost. Only those smaller garrisons and military colonies were spared immediate destruction, and they either fled or quickly fell to the Sartarites.
Only Alda-Chur held out, reinforced by refugees from the rest of Sartar and by 3000 Tarshite soldiers loyal to Fazzur Wideread, who arrived a few weeks after the Dragonrise. Fazzur quickly reorganized the soldiers and attempted a lightning march on Sartar to restore order, but was beaten back by a hastily assembled Sartarite army of the Battle of Dangerford. After that defeat, the Lunar army retreated to Alda-Chur where they were quartered on the residents of the city. This was intended be a temporary measure, but continued until King Pharandros, newly appointed as Provincial General, arrived with units from Imperial Heartland Corps, including elements of the Antelope Lancers, Silver Shields, Granite Phalanx, and the Minor Class of the Lunar College of Magic.
In Fire Season 1626, King Pharandros marched south with 5000 Lunar soldiers, following the same route the Red Emperor took in 1602. At the Battle of Old Top (called the Battle of Queens by the Sartarites), the Lunars were again defeated and forced to retreat to Alda-Chur. King Pharandros, fearing the ambitions of Fazzur Wideread, quickly returned to Furthest with his most loyal officers and retinues. The bulk of the Lunar Army, now increasingly Heartland in composition, was quartered on the local population in Alda-Chur. Sullen, demoralized, and increasingly contemptuous of the local population, Alda-Chur in late 1626 was a powder keg waiting to explode.
Except when a general would make an attempt to reconquer Sartar, the Lunar Army in Sartar was largely static, keeping to the area between Alda-Chur and Herongreen. Foraging parties ranged throughout Engoli’s Fold and the Sharl Plains, gathering food and other supplies. Scouting parties of light infantry did cross the Creek, probing the Sartarite defenses; such active reconnaissance was most common in the lead-up to a campaign.
What is not mentioned in this is that the Empire is also dealing with two other far more important crises – the White Moon Revolt and the Revolt in the Redlands.
How many counters would 15,000 equate to? Depends on composition of units but probably around 20 or so. That’s a lot to lose!