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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Bardic Circle - War Stories & AAR forum » The Eagle and the Wolf- Part I: Remember!
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Topic Subject:The Eagle and the Wolf- Part I: Remember!
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Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-01-09 02:13 AM EDT (US)         
Excerpt from the Eagle and the Wolf:

The Germani were now sweeping the ambush site of living and wealth. A German stood over him, sending his axe into the braincase of Darius, ensuring the Mede was dead before turning to the man in the silver armor. He smiled, and raised his axe. Marcus lunged upwards and felt the bite of his gladius into the man’s ribcage, and then through to that throbbing organ within. The German coughed, then fell, knocking Rutilius down and this time trapping his sword under the dead weight. The Roman quickly drew his dagger as another German straddled his prone body. The barbarian smiled, showing teeth as yellow as the torc around his neck, as he brought his sword back to slice this Roman’s neck.

Then he fell forward, and arrowhead and six inches of shaft protruding from his chest. The arrowhead impacted on the cuirass, and combined with the weight of the man it transfixed, penetrated the armor beneath. Rutilius groaned.

Nicht tot sein. Nicht tot sein. Nicht tot sein,” muttered a rapid female voice through the haze of pain. A hand pulled the German corpse roughly from his body, breaking the arrowhead off in the wound and causing another rush of pain. Then soft hands cradled his head and a tangle of dark hair framing two incredibly large liquid blue eyes covered his vision. The hands held him strangely firm, while those eyes locked onto his. He heard the voice once more, this time in Latin, uttering a single command- “Remember!”

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Other parts of The Eagle and the Wolf series :
The Eagle and the Wolf Part I- Remember!
The Eagle and the Wolf Part II- Tyroes in the Forest
The Eagle and the Wolf Part III- Downs and Ups
The Eagle and the Wolf Part IV- Mushrooms and Murderers
The Eagle and the Wolf Part V- In the Wolf’s Jaws
The Eagle and the Wolf Part VI- Doom and Despair
The Eagle and the Wolf Part VII- The Cauldron
The Eagle and the Wolf Part VIII- Broken Hearts and New Chances
The Eagle and the Wolf Part IX- Ominous Revelations
The Eagle and the Wolf Part X- Trials and Triumph
The Eagle and the Wolf Part XI- Return to Vetera

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[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 01-22-2013 @ 01:04 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-01-09 02:14 AM EDT (US)     1 / 62       
Here begins the tale:


“Vala, tell us what you see.”

The command from the larger of the twin kings, Udo and Ulfrich, was irritating in its tone and intent. They clearly would believe little of what she would say, she knew from experience, though it invariably turned out to be true. Such was the difficulty of working with men of steel instead of spirit. And their tone of command was exceedingly difficult to bear- ordering her to perform as if she was a juggler or dancer. Pathetic. These two were nobodies a few summers ago, adventurers or interlopers at best, until the death of King Hilfred by a thick marine arrow at Vetera thrust them into the kingship.

They did look the part, both were strongly built, with rough features. Hair the color of wet sand sprouted from beneath their helmets- which they refused to remove- as well as a thick beard the likes of which made men envious. Their eyes were the color of the sky reflected in high mountain lakes- as were her own- yet these men had the blood of Hilfred’s father and the faith of the elders. Udo had never paid the witch much mind, but Ulfrich had tried to woo her over the last six years, without result. His gifts grew more exotic and expensive, then as rejection followed scorn, more bloody and proof of prowess. Now these men were kings, and showed little respect of the traditions or knowledge of what kings should do- or whom they should command, and whom they shall respect.

Veleda cursed under her breath. This tower, built of stone hauled from faraway quarries, was her home. Here she was queen, the Vala, the Blessed One of the Wahrsicht. She was not the only Vala with the True Sight, but she was the best. Never had her words failed to become true- unless they were ignored. And these two belligerent puppies, fairly new to kingship, ignored her words at their peril- no matter how often they consulted her. Then she smiled as the Visions came.

“I see Rome on the march with the coming of leaves upon the trees,” she said, describing the Visions as they danced before her eyes alone, unseen to normal men. Sometimes, like now, they also spoke. These she knew to be the strongest visions- nothing could change them. Others, with sight alone, were but possibilities of the future. But those that spoke... They were what was to come, no matter the actions of men or god. “The men are happy, laughing even. They feel confident because Rutilius is with them.”

“Rutilius will march against us?” Ulfrich interrupted in shock. “But he is the one who built the peace that benefits us all!”

“Quiet, brother,” Udo commanded. “The witch is still in her trance. Let her continue.”

Veleda nodded slowly. “The legates, however, are furious. They think Rutilius mad for destroying the peace, for making their task of protecting the border more difficult through open aggression.”

“Do your Visions tell you why they come now?” asked Udo

“Unfinished business,” the vala related. “Seval is deposed and will not outlive the winter. The Batavians are restored to Rome; the Cananefate as well. The Ubii never waved, despite all that Seval tried, and the Treveri are firmly under Roman caligae. Yet we remain, and that irks them.”

“How will we fare?” asked Ulfrich.

“I see the Bructeri fractured, but surviving. We shall join with others, and fight first against Rome, then with her, and finally erase the last vestiges of Roman rule from this land. But that is not soon. First we must survive this summer coming nine moons hence, and then survive your inept plan to use this vision to further your own ends.”

“Why should we fight for Rome?” Ulfrich uttered. “They intend to destroy us!”

Veleda shrugged her thin shoulders. She had combed her thick, black-stained hair back from her angular face and pinned it in place with ivory combs chased with gold. The effect gave her face length, as well as displaying her wealth to the kings. But these jesters knew not what ivory was, and thus could not even fathom its worth. Fools.

“I do not pretend to interpret the Visions,” she replied at last. “I merely see what will become. We shall fight against Rome, then at her side, then rule all from dark forest to shining sea. As for Rutilius, he comes not to destroy the Bructeri, but for three separate and distinct things. They come for me, for the precious Eagles of the V Alaudae and the XV Primigenia, and for Ulfrich.”

“How will they fare?” Udo repeated. “Will they succeed?”

Veleda nodded. “Rutilius will recover the Eagles. Both of them. Ulfrich will be taken alive to die a long, slow, and painful death among ghosts- a most fitting death in Roman eyes.”

“And you?”

Veleda snorted. “I am now, and always shall be, mistress of my own destiny.”

Udo’s face hardened at the slur. “How can I save my brother?” he asked softly, trying desperately to bury his rage at this mere woman’s insolence.

“You cannot,” Veleda replied evenly. “He is doomed. As are you.”

Enough was enough. Udo drew his sword. “You will tell me, witch, or I will be the master of your very short destiny!”

Veleda laughed, and as Udo drew back his sword to smite her, a flagon hit the floor. The round chamber filled with smoke, and when it cleared and his eyes ceased their burning, he saw the vala was gone.

Curse that witch! I will save my brother, and the Bructeri, despite her words. For I have something only Civilis of the Batavi had- the words of the Vala to tell me what shall happen. But unlike that puffed baboon, I know how to use her foresight to its fullest advantage!

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Veleda hit the pillows at the bottom of her chute rather harder than she was used to. The bruise would fade in time, she knew, if she but lived through the next few days. Then she gave a cruel laugh. Of course she would live. She was Veleda, the foremost Vala of all the Germani. She picked up the rucksack she had packed the day before and slung it over her back. She was out of the tower and bolting through the ravine towards the river before the smoke in the chamber above had begun to clear.

That night, miles away, she set up camp by an old cave. She knew this cave well- it was her shelter when the Visions first came and terrified the then-nine-year old. Twenty years later, it served her again. Its comforting walls soothed her injured pride and calmed her ruffled feathers. In this place of harmony, she could relax, and interpret the Visions that had come so strong this past day.

Rutilius. It was all about Rutilius. She pieced together what she knew of the Roman. He had been a tribune in an auxiliary legion under Vorenus Carnifex three years before. He had saved the remnants of his legion when the Cananefate had so violently destroyed the rest, then passed alone through the hostile lands of the Cananefate and Batavians to reach Vetera. That fool Lupercus threw him in jail as a deserter instead of heeding the warning. She laughed, knowing that that decision led to the doom of two legions. Fool. Then Rutilius escaped, and in doing so freed a Cananefate princeling. He then passed through Cugerni territory- alone and unarmed- and through the vigiliant Ubii to reach the governor in Mogontiacum.

From there he disappeared, but reappeared in the spring as a legate commanding a legion of former marines. All scoffed at him, but the II Adiutrix became the premier legion of the mighty army Cerealis led to crush the Batavians. Julius Civilis fled after gaining peace with Cerealis and Rome, and Rutilius himself brought peace to the Cananefate, closing the circle and ending the war.

That ended three years ago. Since then he served as acting governor for two years before the arrival of Quintus Volusius Saturninus. The governor set his predecessor to ruling the western district directly - from Vetera to the sea- and further as a roving inspector for the rest of the province, keeping the young warlord on the road. From all accounts of traders and hunters, Rutilius was truly interested in justice and fairness to all- not just to Roman interests.

She laughed as she recalled the stories told. The Chauci had come to take advantage of the weakened border and devastated Batavi. Rutilius confronted them with four cohorts of the XXII Primigenia and three warbands of Batavian warriors. The Chauci, seeing these pitiful numbers, came on. Then, forty paces before they would charge, the rest of the XXII legion came out of the woods to their left while a warhost of Cananefate spearmen emerged from their right. The Chauci froze in mid stride, and Rutilius stepped forward from the center of his line and simply pointed his finger back toward Chauci land. The Chauci understood, and departed the trap. Rutilius had done the same with the X Gemina against a Frisian horde just this autumn. Neither warband had come south since.

So this attack in the summer makes no sense. Rutilius would come with his legions, at his own orders, to recover the Eagles and capture that worthless wretch Ulfrich. She gave less than a rat’s arse about those silver Eagles, or about Ulfrich. He would get what was coming after he treacherously murdered two legions of surrendered troops- breaking the word of his commander and thinking he was doing it to honor her. He wanted to give her the legates Lupercus and Numisius as a dowry. Fool. Now he will die at Roman hands, his death serving his people far better than his useless life. As it should be.

But why now? Why does Rutilius come now? He has built what could be a lasting peace upon this border, yet he throws a promising future away for trinkets from the past. It made no sense. And from all she knew of this Roman, and had with her own eyes seen, he did very little that made no sense.

She decided to give this matter more thought.

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|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 08-26-2011 @ 03:39 AM).]

vampiric canniba
Ashigaru
posted 10-01-09 02:27 AM EDT (US)     2 / 62       
...What?...

you like something both hardcore and whack
2009 RLT & ETWH Craziest Forummer Award!
I had to remove the excessive numbers of smilies I used á la VampiricCannibal so as not to inconvenience low bandwidth users too much... - Edorix
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-01-09 03:45 AM EDT (US)     3 / 62       
...What?...
How can you say that?

It's marvelous, Terikel. That's not to say I know what's going on yet, but I have more respect for the victor of both Sepia Jousts than to just say "...What?..."

I look forward to the next instalment!

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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(dis ma house)
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-01-09 05:48 AM EDT (US)     4 / 62       
Ah yes I remember the famous slaughter of the two legions besieged at Vetera. For those who don't know Terikel wrote a great series of stories last year about the Batavian revolt. This is three years after the revolt ended with peace. I remember that fortune teller quite well.

Good to see that you've started writing stories again. Great start to the story.

General Rawlinson- This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires on the right?

Brigadier-General Oxley- They are lying out in No Man's Land, sir. And most of them will never stand again.

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-01-09 06:16 AM EDT (US)     5 / 62       
For those new to my scribblings, I present the foregoing tales to this story:

The Batavian Revolt:

1- They Come
2- Vengeance at Traiectum
3- Betrayal on the Border
4- Batavia Rises
5- Homeward Bound
6- The Long Road to Castra Vetera
7- Sunrise at Bedriacum
8- And yet, I was once our emperor
9- Midwinter Misery and Madness
10-Prophecies Fulfilled
11- The Little War
12-The Broken Bridge

To those who have commented so far, thank you for your comments.

Even yours, Lord Cannibas, incomprehensible as it is.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
vampiric canniba
Ashigaru
posted 10-01-09 02:52 PM EDT (US)     6 / 62       
Lord Cannibas
[strike]Being Dutch, that'd be something you're acquainted with [/strike]

Actually, on 2nd thoughts, mods do have thr ban all button...

you like something both hardcore and whack
2009 RLT & ETWH Craziest Forummer Award!
I had to remove the excessive numbers of smilies I used á la VampiricCannibal so as not to inconvenience low bandwidth users too much... - Edorix
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-02-09 11:08 AM EDT (US)     7 / 62       
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Heia Norge! (Norway. My nationality)

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Nederland. (Holland, my residence)

FYI, VC.
Andalus
Ashigaru
posted 10-02-09 04:47 PM EDT (US)     8 / 62       
You decided not to attempt the Stars and Stripes as well, I see....

Good stuff as always, Terikel, there is little to criticise in your work.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-05-09 01:40 AM EDT (US)     9 / 62       
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Traiectum, Germania, AUC 826

“I am glad we cleared this matter up,” the trader said, addressing the district commander in his praetorium at the rebuilt fort of Traiectum. “Though I must add that my partners will not be so happy since our profit margin will be less.”

“At least you will have a profit margin for them to complain about,” the Cananefate hunter replied with a smile. “And you no longer have to employ hunters to bring you the furs you desire.”

“Or lose lives trampling across Cananefate farms and destroying their meager crops,” added the commander. “It was not so long ago, Decimus Licinius, that this land was inundated by an ocean flood. The land was barren then, and only now coming to life. Think of how you would feel should your lands in Italia be flooded with salt water, and just as you were able to plant again, some Germans came marching across your fragile fields.”

“Yes, yes, Marcus Rutilius,” Decimus Licinius replied, throwing his hands in the air to emphasize his surrender on the matter. “I fully understand. And I do see the eminent wisdom in having the Cananefate themselves do the hunting and procuring of furs. Actually, sir, if they cannot find fur-bearing animals on their own land, I doubt any of my hired Greek trappers could do any better. A good deal, as you said, and one that benefits us both.”

“Excuse me, lord,” a legionary interrupted. “This just in from the dispatch rider. It is from the governor.”

“Ah, I wonder what Quintus Volusius wants now,” Rutilius said with a smile. “Jupiter knows that he has not had much to do since becoming governor.” He broke the seal and unraveled the scroll. His eyes rolled over the prose of the governor, deciphering it, then he let out a sigh. “It seems he has something he urgently needs to discuss. Lucius, have my ready-bags put onto my horse. I will be riding out before noon.” He turned to the two plaintiffs. “Decimus, Hagar, I must go. If I am lucky, I will be back in a fortnight. I hope there will be no further incidents requiring my attention?”

Both Germanic and Roman heads shook from side to side.

“Good then,” Rutilius said with a smile. He held his hand out to the Roman, shook it, then clasped arms with the Cananefate. “Give my regards to your king and his son for me, Hagar.”

“Aye, Marcus,” the hunter replied. And with that, Rutilius was once again off to see the governor, an old man direct from Rome whom he had advised at least one a month for the last nine months.

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“We are doomed,” Ulfrich of the Bructeri moaned. “You heard her, my brother. The witch is never wrong.”

“There is a first time for everything,” Udo said bitterly. “We know the Romans will come in the spring. That gives us all winter to prepare for them a proper welcome.”

“Seval had warning, and look where that got him,” Ulfrich retorted. Julius Civilis- Seval in the Germanic tongue- had followed Veleda’s advice and had won big, before the Romans crushed him with eight legions.

“Seval fought on the other side of Father Rhenus,” Udo reminded his twin. “This time the Romans come here, to our side. Here, like before under Hermann of the Cherusci, they shall taste defeat and meet Death.”

Udo placed his hands firmly on his brother’s shoulders and drew him to his face so that their foreheads touched. “The witch said they would get their Eagles. So we give them to them. Send a loyal man to the Romans to be a traitor. Better yet, send several- one to each Roman rock pile. Have them earn their trust through the winter, then when the Romans march, they are to guide them.”

“To where?”

Udo grinned wolfishly. “They are to take them to the corners of our tribe’s land where it meets that of the Chauci and the Marsi. There the Romans shall face not one, but three tribes. There they shall die, and with them the border will be opened again for free Germanic expansion westward.”

“And if the Marsi and Chauci do not help us?”

Udo grinned. “They will. They will have to- we shall send to them and other tribes envoys. These envoys shall tell of the Roman plans to invade Germania and extinguish every holy fire, fell every sacred oak, and kill every Germani they come across. They will not believe, of course,” he concluded with a wider grin, “until the Romans do march. Then they shall come, and in our multitudes we shall erase Roman influence as the witch foretold.”

Ulfrich nodded. “That does seem a wonderful plan, my brother. But if Rutilius hears of it, will he not change his plans?”

“Then he shall not hear of it,” Udo decided swiftly. “There is a man in Gaul. Wenzel. He is of our blood. If one approaches him with an amount of gold, he will do anything asked. Approach this man. There is a chest of Roman coins- payment for a legion, that our uncle hid away before he was taken by the Valkyries. Offer him this chest in exchange for the head of Rutilius. He will accept.”

Ulfrich’s grin matched that of his brother. ”Aye, with Rutilius dead, his plans die with him. And the witch will have been wrong for once- the men will not be happy that Rutilius is with them for he will be dead. Thus he cannot capture me for his tortures. Brilliant!”
Udo smiled in reply. Despite the witch’s words, he felt he could pull this off. He could save his brother. All he had to do was change the witch’s vision.

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Quintus Volusius Saturninus was toiling away under a mountain of paperwork when the slave’s knock rescued him from the drudgery of civil service. The old man put down the waxen tablet with glee, and laid his stylus aside. The rheumy fingers did not take well to this damp climate, especially with winter approaching. Still, one had to govern, and he was the best man available. After all, he had been consul fourteen years or so before. Who better to govern one of Rome’s most strategic provinces than a bona fide proconsul?

Jupiter alone knows there are not many proconsuls left after Nero. Volusius attributed his survival to being a frail seventy years of age- far too old and feeble to present a threat to anybody. Aulus Caecina- that snake- was a Vitellian consul, so there was no way Vespasian would send him here. Lucius Verginius Rufus and Gaius Fonteius Capito- the other two living senatorial proconsuls- had both been governor of Germania. Capito had laid the foundation for the Batavian revolt with his outrages, and Verginius was almost as popular with the legions as was Vitellius- the legions had hailed him as Imperator vice Galba, but he had then calmly refused the crown. Where the legions did it twice, they could do it a third time. No, if the emperor wanted a safe proconsul to rule Germania, then he had to choose Quintus Volusius Saturninus. And thus he did.

The knock repeated.

“Yes, Hieronymous,” he finally answered.

The slave opened the door a crack, then entered fully. “Lord,” he reported, “Marcus Rutilius has arrived.”

“Thank you, Hieronymous,” the governor replied. He shoved the scrolls and tablets roughly aside. “He may enter whenever he is ready.”

“That may not be for a while, dominus,” the slave replied. “He came in the northern gate, and-.”

“-And the I Adiutrix is having their celebration,” the governor completed for him. He sighed, and pulled a tablet back from the pile. “Let him enjoy the celebration for the day. He has earned it.”

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Mogontiacum was indeed in a festive mood, though Rutilius had no idea why. The guards allowed him and his escort in without challenge, which was only proper as all knew the deputy governor by sight if not by reputation. But none explained the celebration until Titus Flavius Sabinus saw the horsemen approaching through the crowd and hurried over.

“Hail Marcus!” he cried.

“Hail yourself, Titus Flavius,” Rutilius replied. Though the man before him was but twenty or so, he was a seasoned veteran and currently legate of the I Adiutrix. He had won a tribunate from Rutilius during the Batavian Revolt, and since been promoted to legate while Rutilius was acting governor. Now the two were equals, both legates, though Rutilius was the deputy governor and Titus Flavius still the Emperor’s nephew. Still, battles fought side by side tend to forge strong bonds among those who fought, and these two were no exception.

“Your men seem happy,” Rutilius observed bluntly and with laconic humor. “Though the men of the XIV Gemina on the gates did not seem quite so elated. Care to explain?”

“I have the happiest legionaries this side of the Hellespont,” Sabinus confirmed. “This celebration- unplanned- is proof of it.”

“And are you going to tell me what sparked this, or must I guess?”

Sabinus blushed. “Sorry, you couldn’t possibly know. The I Adiutrix, like our II Adiutrix, is composed of former marines. My predecessor Naevius, took away their naval bows as auxilia weaponry. When I took over last month, I heard their complaints about it- four years after the fact, and they still remember and cry over it. I remembered how our II Adiutrix did against the Gauls and again versus the Germani at Vetera and decided they had a good point. So I ordered six thousand naval bows and a half million arrows from the Imperial armories where they were stored, and paid for the transport out of my own estate. Well, Marcus, that equipment got here yesterday and today I started issuing it to the men. And you see the result here.”

Rutilius did indeed see the joy floating through the castrum. Some legionaries had horns, while others drums and xylophonic plates. Music filled the air, and joy not only threatened to overwhelm the normal stoicism of the troops- it had washed it away in a sea of happiness as the men received back their precious bows.

“We are having an impromptu archery contest in the square in about two hours,” Sabinus continued. “Just to see if the men remember how to shoot. The winner will receive a purse of a fifty denarii, while the top ten will get to keep their bows as their own personal property.”

“Is the contest limited only to your legion, or can anyone participate?” Rutilius asked suddenly. He was proud of his protege- the contest, its rewards, and the gesture with the bows were all marks of a good commander. Sabinus was doing quite well as a legate.

“I excluded the Dalmatian and Gallic archers, for obvious reasons,” Sabinus admitted, “but opened the contest to any other soldier. You interested, Marcus?”

Rutilius smiled. “I haven’t shot a bow in three years.” He stretched his back and chest muscles, then nodded. “But I’ll take your money. Do you have a bow I can practice with before the contest?”

Sabinus motioned to a legionary, who brought forth a bow and quiver. “This one was mine, but I’ll let you use it. I seem to have a few left over.”

“About seven hundred twenty, I believe,” Rutilius added with a smile. “A legion only has five thousand two hundred eighty legionaries.”

“I have more left over,” Sabinus corrected. “My legion is not yet up to full strength.”

Rutilius dismounted and handed his horse to an escort. “Where can I practice, Titus?”

Sabinus smiled, then turned to his legionary. “Sextus, fetch me another bow and quiver, then bring it to the practice range. Come, Marcus, let us see which of us is the better archer.”

Rutilius smiled at the challenge. “You are on, Titus.” He turned to his escort commander. “Darius, take the men to the guest barracks to settle in, then report to the governor’s praetorium that I will be along by nightfall.”

Sabinus escorted his friend to the range. Marcus saw the targets punctured by many arrows, with more protruding from the straw. He limbered up, then placed his bow upon one foot and bent it to string it. The string slipped first, to the guffaws of the others practicing, then it settled.

“Hey sir, you do know to put the pointy end of the arrow towards the target when nocking, eh?” laughed one legionary.

Marcus ignored him, and nocked an arrow. More laughter followed as he drew back the fletching, then tilted the bow to ease the arrow back onto its original position atop the fist holding the bow. He held firm and taut for a moment, aiming. When he released, the arrow shot true- and into the red circle painted upon the target.

“Like that, son?” he asked off-handedly of the chiding soldier.

The laughter diminished, then died as the soldiers heard from others who had just scored the Bull. Rutilius the former governor, ex-legate of the II Adiutrix- former marines like themselves- hero of Vetera, and winner of the Corona Civica at Gelduba. Hushed respect filled the range.

“Now get to practicing, you apes, or that purse will be mine alone,” he ordered loudly, to the rising cheers of the men. The whoosh of arrows in flight filled the range, and the euphoria of holding their beloved bows again returned.

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|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-05-09 09:41 AM EDT (US)     10 / 62       
AUC 826
I was about to ask for a date, but you onliged me before I could. I take it AUC is for Ab Vrbe Condita? So 73 CE.

I was also about to ask you for another update, but I figured that patience was the best course of action. It paid off less than 24 hours later.

Great stuff. I'm beginning to work out where it's coming from, and I'm slowly catching up on your older stories.
Julius Civilis- Seval in the Germanic tongue
Julius Civilis was pronounced You-lee-uss Ki-wee-liss in the First century AD.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 12-18-2009 @ 05:19 PM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-06-09 01:34 AM EDT (US)     11 / 62       
Julius Civilis was pronounced You-lee-uss Ki-wee-liss in the First century AD
Do you know how long it took me to come up with a way to Germanify SIV-ill-is (to SevFAL), and now you go and wreck it all with Ki-WEE-lis?

Damn!

What German and manly sounding name can I dig out of that? 'Kiwi' just won't do.

Nah, I'll stick with Seval (pronounced Sev-FAL with a Germanic shift of V->F and the accent on the last syllable).

Besides, who said German names have to mimic the Latin? Maybe the Romans Latinized his Germanic name, like they did with Alpinius Montanus and Arminius (Herman the German).



By the way, the plan is to release updates every Monday and Thursday until Part I is finished, then a week or two break before Part II launches. As always, I reserve the right to change the plan without notice whenever I damned well feel like it.

Again, thanks for reading. And even more, commenting.

We writers are like flowers to the sun- we flourish in the sunlight of criticism and adoration, yet wither in the darkness of oblivion and lack of attention.

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-06-2009 @ 02:31 PM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-06-09 04:37 AM EDT (US)     12 / 62       
Great chapter and good to see you are up and running. Indeed we writers crave attention. It's nice to be noticed for your efforts.

General Rawlinson- This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires on the right?

Brigadier-General Oxley- They are lying out in No Man's Land, sir. And most of them will never stand again.

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Ischenous
Ashigaru
posted 10-06-09 11:54 AM EDT (US)     13 / 62       
I was wondering recently when your next story would be. Good start.

Calling all new people. USE THE SEARCH FUNCTION before asking a question. Thank you.
Alert the APOCOLYPSE is coming!!!!!!!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOM(Itcame)
"TWH Guild Award (Best Duo/Trio) -Ischenous/IJ"- Tryhard. Why he chose that nomination, I don't know...
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-08-09 01:56 AM EDT (US)     14 / 62       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Quintus Volusius Saturninus was once one of the handsomest men in Rome, back when Tiberius was an old man, Caligula his heir, and Claudius was thought to be a dolt. Now he was a shadow of his former self. But his rheumy eyes always lit up when he saw his predecessor. Marcus Rutilius was tall and broad of shoulder as any good warrior should be, and had a thatch of red-gold hair that had most women- and some men!- fawning over him. He cut quite a figure in that muscled silver cuirass he received from Cerealis- and hardly ever took off. Quintus watched him now cross to the praetorium with bow in hand and smiled.

There was a gentle knock, then Rutilius entered.

“So, Marcus,” the governor began. “Are you fifty denarii richer now?”

Marcus smiled, and held forth his bow. “No, dominus, but I did win a bow. I placed fifth. A tesserarius from the IX cohort took the purse. He never missed a bull, and scored eight bull’s eyes. Some of those men could really shoot!”

“I haven’t seen soldiers so happy in all my life,” the governor admitted softly. “And from what I have gathered from the sutlers, this joy even exceeds that generated by the approach of Cerealis’s army that broke the Siege three years ago.”

“I was in that army, sir,” Rutilius reminded him. “It is true. Now, to business, sir, if I may be blunt. Your tablet said there was an urgent matter you wished to discuss.”

“Not so urgent that it could not wait until after the tournament Sabinus hosted, though, eh?” chided the old man with a sly grin. “But yes, urgent enough to call you from the west to discuss this personally.”

Saturninus gestured for his deputy to be seated, then leaned closer. “Do you like it here, Marcus?” he asked. When his subordinate sat back in surprise, he continued. “I mean, do you want to stay here, on the border?”

Rutilius was now very confused. But he retained enough of his composure to answer truthfully. “Yes sir, I do. I feel at home here.”

The old man smiled. “Well, my young friend, I do not. The damp here inflames my rheumatism, and makes my joints ache. I long to return to sunny Rome and lay on my couch eating peeled grapes and having slave girls dance about to refill my cups with unwatered wine. To that end I asked for leave to return to Rome.”

He leaned closer. “I had assumed that the emperor would choose you as a replacement for me. Mucianus speaks very highly of you, as does Quintus Petillius Cerealis. The first is the emperor’s right-hand man, the other his brother-in-law. Very good men to have on your side, young Rutilius.”

He sighed. “But alas, Vespasian has never forgotten that this province had twice declared its governor Imperator, though Verginius Rufus was wise enough to refuse the honor. Vitellius was not, and Vespasian climbed to the throne over his bones- and that of many men from this province.”

“Worse, with your Corona Civica from Gelduba, your command of the Battle at Vetera, the peace you brought, combined with your youth, looks, and obvious popularity with these legions here, Vespasian sees you as a possible threat.”

Rutilius straightened up at that. “Me? A threat? Does he then order my death?”

The old man waved his hands frantically before him. “No no no, nothing so daft as that. He is no Nero, you know. But he refuses to put this province- and its seven legions- under your sole command. That was one of the reasons I was sent- I am no threat, and can monitor you. You have earned my admiration, Marcus, and I trust we have become friends. I know you to be a Roman of the Romans, and no threat to Titus Vespasianus or his family. I too spoke highly of you when I requested my return to Rome. Unfortunately, the words of Mucianus, Cerealis, and myself fell of deaf ears.

“Vespasian will be dividing this province back into two, Germania Inferior and Germania Superior. A new governor with propraetorial imperium will be arriving here in January to assume the duties as governor of Germania Superior. Another will arrive with him, and continue north to assume duties as the governor of Germania Inferior. Both will be bringing quaestors with them, thus will have no need of a deputy as you have served me.

“Now, the crux is this. Secundus Papirius Acala, the legate of the X Gemina in Noviomagus, also wishes to return to Rome. He was an awful legate anyway, so I granted his request. That leaves the X Gemina with no legate, though I hear his tribunus laticlavius is rather good. If you wish to come to Rome with me, Marcus, you may. Otherwise I will offer you the position of legate of the Xth. The choice is yours, my friend.”

“There really is no choice,” Rutilius said after a minute of deep thought. “I am now a Senator, due to the Crown, and intend on staying one through the lands I bought up here after the recent turmoil. My wealth is here, not in Rome, so I must stay, as you well know.” Then he smiled broadly. ”And the X Gemina is a good legion, even though its commander was horrible. A close friend from my youth in the Subura, Marcus Salvius, is a senior optio in that unit.”

“Ah, I always wondered why you made Publius Salvius your praefectus camporum,” Saturninus commented suddenly, and displaying to his young deputy an uncomforting depth of knowledge about him. “A cripple, an old cripple at that, pensioned off by the State after years of good service once he was no longer fit for battle. You took that old wreck of a man and made him into one of the best praefecti in the legions. Now I know why.”

“That half-man was like a father to me, sir,” Rutilius replied evenly, trying to keep his temper in check. Salvius Senior was indeed a close friend- he even called him ‘Uncle’.

“Oh, I meant no disrespect,” the governor was quick to add. “Do you know that I was in the legions once? Not as a legionary, or an officer, but ‘attached to the general’s staff’ one might say. Army of Claudius, almost thirty years ago. Britannia. Ended up coming home on the same ship that brought old Julius Civilis back after he lost an eye over there. And another of the men being freighted home was a centurion who had gotten himself mangled under a chariot- a brave fool named Publius Salvius. That chariot shot through a gap in the lines and might have killed the general- and myself- had he not stopped it.”

He looked deep into the grey-blue eyes of his deputy. “I got him that post as caretaker of the Shrine. I had repaid my debt to him with that job, then wrote him off like everyone else had. Until you came along and made more a man out of him than anyone thought possible. I salute you, Marcus, and would be glad to count you among my friends.”

He paused, then continued. ”You mentioned being a Senator. You do realize that means a political career, yes? Have someone look after your lands here- someone you can trust- and come with me to Rome. Not as a client, but as a friend. I have connections, and maybe you could return here as a magistrate instead of a privatus.”

“I thank you for the offer,” Rutilius said with sincerity. He did like the old man tremendously. “But politics never interested me. I will serve my time with the legions, then retire to whichever of my farms I feel most comfortable in. If my position in the Senate falls away, what do I care?”

The irreverence shown Rome’s most exclusive community shocked the old man at first, then he saw what Rutilius meant. His life was here, not in Rome. What good was membership in the Senate to one who would never attend? Right now as a legate and a soldier that meant status and connections, but later, as a privatus... Nothing. It was not irreverence, it was simple common sense.

“Then I shall issue the orders tomorrow making you legate of the X Gemina,” Saturninus concluded. “Now, if this new governor is very smart, he’ll place himself in Noviomagus where he is centered on his province, and can learn from you how things up here work. If he is smart but not very smart, he’ll make Vetera his capital. If he is stupid, he’ll set up shop in Novaesium.”

“And if he’s very stupid, Bonna,” Rutilius said, completing the list of castra in the coming province. “He’ll be closest to this post, but furthest from his province.”

“Aye lad,” Saturninus agreed. “But that will not matter then- you’ll be effectively running the rest of the province anyway. Now, tell me about this tournament.”

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The Visions came again in the night. Veleda was not prepared for them as she usually was- they usually came when she accessed that part of her mind where dreams and memories were stored. Now, while chopping wood by her cave, they came and overwhelmed her.

She knew from previous visions that the soldiers would be glad to have Rutilius with them, and the legates upset at the orders to cross the river into Bructeri territory. These she knew to be true. She also knew that Udo would try to change that vision. What she did not know- but now saw- was more concerning that vision. Far more, and many more Visions. Some with sound, some silent.

With a startling speed the Visions vanished. Veleda stood from where she had fallen, and brutally cast aside the wood she had previously been cutting. She had work to do, and that work was not in her cave.

She needed to get out of Bructeri lands, and fast.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Marcus Rutilius remained in Mogontiacum discussing administration with Saturninus for almost a week before heading back to Noviomagus. He had a lot of traveling ahead of him. He had promised Hagar and Decimus that he would return to settle any other disputes, but now that he would no longer be deputy governor, those involved would have to know to whom to turn. And that included stopping by the court of the Batavian King Tiberius Labeo and that of the Cananefate King Niall to tell them of the coming changes. He hoped they would get along as well with the new governor as they had with himself and Volusius Saturninus, but that really depended on what sort of man the new governor was.

He stopped briefly at Bonna to let Lucius Amensius and his XXI Rapax hear of the coming changes, then continued on to Novaesium where he spent the night with Gnaeus Vipsanius Messala and the VI Victrix. The two talked of old times together- both had served at the Battle of Vetera as commanders- and what the future held.

“Bah, I am no fortune-teller,” Messala remarked happily. “As long as the fool they send keeps the peace, I am happy. Otherwise I’ll petition Quintus Petillius for duty in Britannia.”

“I might do the same,” Rutilius agreed, “it would be nice to serve with the II Adiutrix again. That was a premier legion.”

“Thanks to you,” Messala added. “Before you took over, they were worthless sea-mutts.”

“They saved your ass at Gelduba,” Rutilius reminded him in a harsh but joking tone, “and again at Vetera. Show some respect.”

Messala poured more wine. “I meant no disrespect, Marcus. I was there when they were promoted from marines, remember? I was just pointing out that there is a clear difference between then and now. And you made that difference. Now, really, would you petition for Britannia if the new governor is an ass? I thought you bound to this place.”

Rutilius shrugged. “I own land here, and most of the farmsteads are running themselves adequately. I need to keep on them, however, as I have no slaves to oversee their operations- nor do I want one. Tricky Greeks are no good for free German farmhands. No, my lands require my personal attention, or I would have to donate them away. I’d rather not do that just yet.”

Messala understood. He too had used his money to buy up farms whose occupants had been killed or driven off or enslaved. Like Rutilius, he came upon these after the revolt, not during it as had some of the other officers, but then again he had the bulk of his lands and wealth in Italia. But unlike Rutilius, he had a sharp Greek slave who oversaw the holdings and ensured his standings. He didn’t work so well around Germans, though, which was why his holdings were staffed with Macedonian, Thracian, and Greek slaves. He wondered how Rutilius could generate the income necessary to stay a senator when he did not use slaves on his lands, but that was his problem. Messala’s problem was that the amphora was empty and so was his wine cellar.

It did not matter. It was late, and Rutilius would be off to Vetera in the morning to inform the XXII Primigenia and Decius Paullus. So the rest of the night was spent chatting about Rome and Roman ways, and why the hell Marcus Rutilius had not hooked up with that gorgeous redheaded merchant’s daughter Licinia yet.

Rutilius was wondering that very thing when he was riding toward Vetera the following morning. Licinia was tall, beautiful, and had the same red-blonde hair and blue-grey eyes as had he. She was rich, and her father was a good friend. She was not prissy, or haughty as most Roman noblewomen tended to be, nor did she complain about the weather as most visiting Roman women (and men!) were prone to do. In fact, had he known of her interest, he might just have arranged to marry her. If he did that, then he could petition to have his adopted son Publius come stay with him, safe in Germania and away from dangerous Rome. It was a win-win for him.

He was almost thirty now, of age to start looking for a bride and a family. It was a Roman’s duty to have children, that the State had a steady supply of men for the legions. That was old-fashioned thinking, he chided himself, Republican ideals, but ones he still held to be true. And Licinia did have nice legs...

His thoughts were rudely interrupted by an arrow shattering upon his cuirass. The hunter’s shaft was no naval arrow, and failed to penetrate the silvered steel. Still, the impact jolted him. A second arrow erupted from the back of his horse’s neck, causing the creature to shy upwards, catch two more arrows in its gut, then crumple to the ground lifeless. Rutilius hurled himself from the saddle before he could be crushed or trapped under the horse, slung his shield off his back and onto his arm, and drew his gladius before the beast hit the ground.

Around him his Median cavalry escort was falling from their saddles, or returning the archery with arrows of their own. A few brought their horses over to surround their commander, shielding him from more missiles but depriving him of a view over the impromptu battlefield.

Their protection did not last long. Hairy men in dyed wolfskins charged from the brush, following their arrows in. They held spears, axes, and swords in their hand and had mayhem on their mind. The remaining Medes fought bravely, but went down one by one, taking many German ambushers with them. Marcus, fighting on his own feet, brought down a few more, but not enough. A few surviving Medes were driven off and the rest slain. Rutilius, who had taken the backside of an axe to the back of his knee, was down but not dead.

The Germani were now sweeping the ambush site of living and wealth. A German stood over him, sending his axe into the braincase of Darius, ensuring the Mede was dead before turning to the man in the silver armor. He smiled, and raised his axe. Marcus lunged upwards and felt the bite of his gladius into the man’s ribcage, and then through to that throbbing organ within. The German coughed, then fell, knocking Rutilius down and this time trapping his sword under the dead weight. The Roman quickly drew his dagger as another German straddled his prone body. The barbarian smiled, showing teeth as yellow as the torc around his neck, as he brought his sword back to slice this Roman’s neck.

Then he fell forward, and arrowhead and six inches of shaft protruding from his chest. The arrowhead impacted on the cuirass, and combined with the weight of the man it transfixed, penetrated the armor beneath. Rutilius groaned.

Nicht tot sein. Nicht tot sein. Nicht tot sein,” muttered a rapid female voice through the haze of pain. A hand pulled the German corpse roughly from his body, breaking the arrowhead off in the wound and causing another rush of pain. Then soft hands cradled his head and a tangle of dark hair framing two incredibly large liquid blue eyes covered his vision. The hands held him strangely firm, while those eyes locked onto his. He heard the voice once more, this time in Latin, uttering a single command- “Remember!”

Then the hands were gone and Rutilius’s head crashed back to the ground below. As he faded out, he heard the German woman arguing with a man. Then everything faded to black.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

“He lives, as we agreed,” the chieftain replied to the unspoken question.

“Just barely,” Veleda agreed. “Next time you will listen and not dawdle. Had you drunk a tankard more in that blasted hovel of a tavern, we would have seen only those assassins’ asses as they hurried away.”

“I have done as you have asked,” the chieftain repeated. “Now pay me, witch.”

“Promised is promised.” Veleda sighed, then assumed her trance with her hands folded before her as if praying. “Udo told you of the chest of the legions, an inheritance from his uncle. Yet he lied, and told you only half. Follow his directions, but only to a point. When the path he told you splits by a lightning-struck pine, take the fork less traveled and you shall be rich. Take the path he choose for you, and you shall find Glory and Fame, but die gloriously minutes thereafter. The choice is yours. Glory or riches. One or the other, but not both.”

The chieftain nodded. “Fare thee well, Witch of the Bructeri.”

“Good bye, Wenzel of the Bructeri.”

Wenzel walked a few paces, then turned. “You know already what I shall do, do you not?”

Veleda nodded solemnly.

“Yet you say nothing.”

“It does not matter what I say, Wenzel. You will do what you will do, regardless of my words or knowledge.”

The chieftain nodded in reply. “You are correct.”

And then he and his men were gone, leaving naught but bodies stripped of wealth and weapons, a slender witch, and a wounded Roman laying upon the ground in their wake.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-08-09 03:23 AM EDT (US)     15 / 62       
I would say it's a pity that Rutilius's journey to Britannia has been delayed, but I'm much too intrigued by the turn of events including the ambush.

I can't wait for the next part!

Four days to go...

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-08-09 11:03 AM EDT (US)     16 / 62       
Looks like the witch is going to use Rutillus for her own means. Great chapter Terikel!

General Rawlinson- This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires on the right?

Brigadier-General Oxley- They are lying out in No Man's Land, sir. And most of them will never stand again.

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 10-08-09 10:41 PM EDT (US)     17 / 62       
A great story, nice and detailed. Very well written Terikel.
Julius Civilis was pronounced You-lee-uss Ki-wee-liss in the First century AD
Do you know how long it took me to come up with a way to Germanify SIV-ill-is (to SevFAL), and now you go and wreck it all with Ki-WEE-lis?
As Caesar (Kai-sar) said, "waynee, weedee, weekee".

The later grammarians wrote that the V was beginning to be pronounced "with friction", i.e. more like an English V than a W. It could theoretically have begun earlier in the German provinces, especially given the stereotypical inability of Germans to pronounce W as anything other than V. I have no evidence for this, but it makes a nice rationale, I think .

Alternatively, there's also the closeness between B and V in pronunciation; in writing, the Suebi were also referred to as the Suevi. Just a thought.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
Bulba Khan
Ashigaru
(id: stormer)
posted 10-10-09 11:36 AM EDT (US)     18 / 62       
Good story-telling as always Terikel. I wish I could fast forward time to monday.

I feel the same way I did after playing Stronghold 2 for about 15 minutes, like it was my birthday and all my friends had wheeled a giant birthday cake into the room, and I was filled with hopes dreams and desires when suddenly out of the cake pops out not a beautiful buxom maid, but a cranky old hobo that just shanks me then takes $60 dollars out of my pocket and walks away saying "deal, with it".
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-12-09 06:29 AM EDT (US)     19 / 62       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

A cough seized his chest and gripped it in a vise. Rutilius coughed up a thick chunk of sputum and spit. With that action, he came awake. He sat upright and his hand reached to his waist for his gladius. It got tangled in linen instead.

“About time you woke up, you lazy bum,” chided a familiar voice.

Rutilius winced at the pain in his chest caused by his violent reaction to hearing a voice so nearby, then calmed as he realized the voice spoke in Latin. He looked around as his eyes finally focused, to see Decius Paullus sitting across from him with a grin smacked across his face.

“Three of those worthless Persians Saturninus gave you as an escort came in two days ago, claiming you had been slain on the road to Gelduba by a large force of German monsters,” Paullus explained. “Naturally, since our cavalry patrols the river roads often and carefully and heard nothing of the sort, we sent a turma of Treveri to check it out. Sure enough, they found you- alive- amid a pile of dead Germans and Medes.”

“Ambush,” Rutilius croaked. He reached for the goblet of water Paullus held out to him, and drank deep. “Archers, followed by infantry hidden too close to avoid. Absolutely no warning. We never had a chance.”

“We burned over sixty barbarian bodies,” Paullus recalled. “Not a horde, mind you, but enough to do in those forty men you had with you. When will you learn, Marcus, that not all are pleased with Roman presence here? You should never travel with less than three turmae. I have told you this before.”

Rutilius struggled to sit upright. Gods above, but it hurt! A bandage was strapped tightly across his chest- almost too tight. “I was traveling light- I was told it was urgent. But you are right; I should have had a bigger escort. Blasted leeches! They always bandage too tightly!”

“Our leeches did not put that on, Marcus,” Decius Paullus replied. “Someone had found you before we did, and bandaged your wound before moving on. Probably to get help, judging by the fact they did not slay you while helpless. Nor did they take you silvered cuirass. We found it laying beside you.”

Rutilius glanced about, his eyes finding the gift of from the ex-consul safe in a corner.

“Our leeches have examined you, though, apart from the bandaged wound, and find it miraculous that no blood had spilled from your lungs yet. You evidently have a deep puncture to the chest, based on the blood in the bandage, yet no pink frothing at the mouth or irregular heart beat.”

“Then they won’t have any objections to me loosening it,” Marcus replied, and reached for his pugio. Paullus was quicker, and handed his friend the weapon, hilt first. Rutilius nodded a thanks then slit the bandages. Ah, it was so nice to be able to breathe freely again. He could not resist his next action. It was too natural, too reflexive. He lifted the blood-soaked portion away from his body and peeked beneath.

“You might want to get your leeches in here,” He said, pulling the clotted fabric free. There was a reddened hole in his left pectoral, just above the nipple, and protruding from that angry hole was the broken-off shaft of an arrow. Decius took one look and bellowed for the medici.

Two men rushed in a few minutes later, both with medical equipment in their hands. One glance was all they needed before those hands were searching for tongs and clamps. One placed the clamp against the wound, while the other put his tong on the shaft.

“Gently now,” said the one to the other. “Don’t lose the head in there.”

But there was no chance of that. The shaft was very short, he saw at once. The tongs gripped a bit of the head itself, buried in the deep muscle. One tug and it came free in a mass of pus and blood. He flushed the wound with water, then applied the bandage again. He had to do this to a prostate patient for the legate had keeled over when the arrowhead tore free.

Decius Paullus was on his feet, and now he was grabbing a medicus and shouting.

“Easy sir,” the man said defensively. “Look! This arrowhead is too short to reach his vitals through that mass of muscle. Nor is the bleeding- though profuse- enough to drain him. He just passed out from the pain, weakened by the infection as he was. If he survives the fever, he will heal. If not, nothing we did to him here will hasten that demise.”

“You had better be right,” Paullus warned sternly.

“I’ve seen this a hundred times, legate,” the medicus replied. “If not more. He is now battling the infection. If it goes septic, so will he. If he wins the battle, he will be fine. Scarred, but fine. If it helps, lord, removing the arrowhead will make his battle easier for him to win.”

Paullus sat back. He knew the medicus was correct. He too had seen it a hundred times, if not more. All he could do was wait.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Marcus Rutilius won the battle within, and was up and about a few days afterward. He was still weak- so much so that he could not even string his bow for some practice- but he was able to walk. The medicus examined the wound and pronounced it healing well. Under the scab, he had a puckered pink circle on his left breast now. But other than that, he would be fine. Marcus thanked him and set about finding Decius Paullus.

The conversation was short and too the point. Rutilius was still too weak to fuddle about, and Paullus knew his friend was itching to get back to Traiectum, pack up, and from there to his new legion. Legates should have legions, and Rutilius had been deputy governor for far too long without a proper command. Rutilius told Paullus of the upcoming changes, heard his moans and groans, then explained his own views on the matter. Afterwards, Paullus agreed to serve the next governor as loyally as he had his friend, as both men knew he would, then he offered him a turma of Treveri cavalry to escort him back to Traiectum.

“And further, I will put in the request for a turma of cavalry for you as well. You may no longer be the deputy governor, but the X Gemina has no auxilia. If the new governor is a warbird, you might need it.”

“Thanks,” Rutilius replied. “I owe you one, Decius.”

“You rescued me from Mogontiacum, remember?” Paullus laughed. “I’d say we are even on that score. But who cares?”

Rutilius smiled. True, among friends, who really kept track of such things?

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Rutilius rode out in the morning, a full turma of Treveri cavalry around him. Some rode far from the main body as scouts, while others rode close to ensure the legate would not fall from the horse.

Rutilius used his strength to keep his body atop the swaying nag and his mind to tear his thoughts from the lingering pain of the wound. He thought of the dinner the night before, and how Paullus was insisting he needed a woman. The name of Licinia did not come up, but Paullus had more than enough cousins in Rome who were of marriageable age and would dearly love to wed a war hero. War heroes were sexy husbands, regardless of their looks. That Rutilius was a fine-looking man was only a bonus. Paullus knew of literally dozens of girls in Rome who would marry him eagerly and become devoted wives and mothers to his children.

He also knew of a half-dozen German girls right there in Vetera who could give him a tumble if he wanted, no strings attached. Rutilius smiled wanly, but refused the offer. He could barely sit a horse, much less mount a woman. Besides, his thoughts were drifting back to Licinia and her red hair and long legs, then bouncing abruptly over to the ambush and the death of his men. There was more than death and chaos there, but what? The rest was a blur.

He bypassed Noviomagus. He did send word to Secundus Papirius Acala that his request for relief had been granted. The new legate would arrive within a fortnight to assume his duties. Once that occurred, Acala was free to join proconsul Saturninus in Mogontiacum. Acala was joyful, sent the messenger back and began packing at once.

Rutilius thought him a fool at first for being so eager to leave the border, then recanted as he remembered the words of Saturninus. The Border was not for everybody, and Rome should be proud that there were men like Rutilius who thrived on the Edge of Civilization, keeping Rome safe from barbarians.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

“Pack my stuff, Lucius,” Rutilius called as he entered his praetorium at Traiectum. He was feeling much better. Yesterday he had torn his bandages off, to the horror of the Treveri guarding him. Today the wound was much better. Fresh air on the scab apparently helped. “And bring me tribunus Horatius.”

Moments later Aulus Horatius entered the praetorium’s atrium. He saluted, then assumed the position of attention while Marcus was gathering his personal possessions and tossing them into buckets and sacks.

“Ah, Aulus,” he said, noticing the man answering his summons. “I will be moving to Noviomagus to take over the X Gemina. We will be getting a new governor in January or so, and he will be bringing a quaestor, I have heard. You are to assume command of this fort and those to the west until he decides otherwise.”

Horatius gawked at the sudden promotion, but Rutilius ignored it.

“Oh do not be so surprised, Aulus,” he said. “Keep the peace, be fair, and all will go well. You can do it. Do you really think I would give you this district if I thought you could not?”

“N-n-no sir,” Aulus stammered.

“Then relax. A district governor should be relaxed. A relaxed governor exudes authority and power. And if you have any problems, there is a legion in Noviomagus that can be here within days to fix anything needing fixing. And with it will be a legate who knows this country and its denizens.”

Aulus smiled, and nodded. He understood the subtlety. He was not being hung out to dry, or thrown to the Wolves. He was being given a chance to excel, with a safety net in the form of the X Gemina nearby should things go awry. Mars how he liked working for this man! Many others felt the same way. It was a pity old Vespy in Rome could not understand that.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-12-2009 @ 11:21 AM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-12-09 09:34 AM EDT (US)     20 / 62       
It's lucky that you make updates on Mondays and Thursdays; the two days I have ict. It means I get to make the first comment each time.

I'm looking forward to some action; I would also like to compliment you on your previous works, They come, Vengeance at Traiectum, Betrayal on the Border, and Batavia Rises. They are just as well written as this.
You should never travel with less than a turma.
I thought he had an escort of forty horsemen? And isn't a turma thirty? Correct me if I'm wrong...
...old Vespy in Rome...
A nice touch.

You seem to delight in gore, judging by the operation scene; I must admit that I do too. But I can never write that sort of thing. I always feel slightly queasy when I go back and re-read it...

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 10-12-2009 @ 09:36 AM).]

Andalus
Ashigaru
posted 10-12-09 09:43 AM EDT (US)     21 / 62       
It means I get to make the first comment each time.
Heh, only because I don't always comment. But rest assured, a student's schedule is suitably empty to be first to most things on the web.

Good chapter again, Terikel. I'd love to be able to make regular updates like you, but I prefer to release mine in large chunks when I'm completely satisfied with them.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-12-09 10:13 AM EDT (US)     22 / 62       
I am not totally familiar with Roman cavalry terms in the First Century. I call a decury a squad of ten, turma a company of 100-150, a cohort a squadron about 200-300, and an ala a wing of 600-900. I know the term turma existed, but am not sure of its size. In this reference, Decius Paullus means a subunit of a cohort, about 100 cavalrymen. As this is fiction and not fact, I have that leeway.

If someone knows the true terms for units of that size, please inform me and I'll edit them in.

I can make regular updates because I wrote the thing completely already and am working on Part II. I go back to Part I for data or editing, and do a final edit once the thing is in preview before posting. Like you, I don't post by a time schedule as much as when I am satisfied with it (which is why I qualified the update days as Mondays and Thursdays, reserving the right to change that any time I want).

@Edorix- thanks. "And Yet I was Once your Emperor" and "the Broken Bridge" are my personal favorites. You will get to them soon enough. Beware though, they are long. Very long. The parts 1-12 follow one another, by the way.

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-12-2009 @ 10:19 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-12-09 10:29 AM EDT (US)     23 / 62       
I've got the Republic cavarly troop numbers for a legion, which is from the book Goldsworthy's The Fall Of Carthage (The Punic Wars). It says:

"Every legion had around three hundred horsemen. They were divided into ten turmae: one turmae had thirty horsemen, led by three decurions. Recruited from the highest and wealthiest citizens in the state and the highest eighteen hundred* (I don't know if that's the exact number) from the Comitia Centuriata. They were granted equo publico that meant that if their horse was killed in battle the state would pay for a new horse.

I haven't got the Imperial cavarly numbers sadly.

*I don't know if that's the exact number.

General Rawlinson- This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires on the right?

Brigadier-General Oxley- They are lying out in No Man's Land, sir. And most of them will never stand again.

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 10-12-2009 @ 10:30 AM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-12-09 11:22 AM EDT (US)     24 / 62       
Thanks, Legion. And you too Edorix. I guess there was nothing between 30 and 300. I edited the above to 'never travel without three turmae.' Better three small than no mid-sized units...
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 10-13-09 07:33 AM EDT (US)     25 / 62       
If it helps, I can provide a little detail.

The Punic Wars pretty much saw the end of citizen cavalrymen; in later wars the Italian Allies (socii) provided the cavalry, or horsemen were recruited from native tribesmen, as Caesar did with the Remi and Ubii in his Gallic campaigns.

When Augustus put the legions on a standard footing, auxilia units were also properly organised. Cavalry units were termed alae, and were named after the place they were raised, e.g. Ala Noricum.

V. Vuksic and Z. Grbasic, Cavalry. The History of a Fighting Elite (London: Cassell, 1993), pp. 13, 50:


The role of the horsemen was to patrol and secure the borders, and they were organized in special units called alae (wings) and commanded by a praefectus. The basic units were still the turmae; larger units were the quinquenaria... consisting of 16 turmae, and miliaria... with 24 turmae. Riders serving in the mixed infantry/cavalry units (cohortes equitatae) were not as well equipped or mounted.* They numbered 400 infantry and 128 cavalry.

...

The men of the alae were real combat cavalry, while those of the mixed units (cohortes equitatae) could be termed a sort of mounted infantry, whose duties were patrolling, escort, reconnaissance and other general purpose work, rather like the task of the dragoon in later times.
* This is a disputed point.


Wikipedia has a helpful table here.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-14-09 08:50 AM EDT (US)     26 / 62       
Wow, what a lot we have to say about one small historical detail when we should be singing the praises of the greatest bard among us!

Have you had any of your writings published, Terikel? Your talents are all but wasted on us.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-15-09 02:31 AM EDT (US)     27 / 62       

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The journey to Noviomagus was uneventful. Rutilius bid farewell to the Treveri at the castrum gate, who then continued onward to their station near Vetera while Rutilius entered the castrum to formally relieve Acala of command. Already at the gate, he had the impression that something was wrong. The legionaries on guard saluted him, as was proper, and asked him his name and business. Rutilius duly informed them, and they bade him wait while one went to discuss the matter with the tesserarius. The watch sergeant came running.

“Sorry for the delay, dominus,” the tesserarius apologized. “New guys. You understand. Tannus, take the legate’s stuff to his quarters and you, Culmina, take the horse to the stables. Follow me, sir, and I’ll take you to the praetorium.”

With that, the tesserarius led off toward the legion headquarters while two of the guards took care of the horse and the legate’s belongings. Enroute, Rutilius saw centuries practicing basic battle drills and others practicing weapons drills. He started to get a nasty feeling, not in his chest, but rather his gut, as he watched the veteran legion practice basic skills. That nasty feeling solidified when the tesserarius announced his presence to the acting commander, Gnaeus Milus, the praefectus camporum.

“Where is Secundus Acala, the legate?” Rutilius asked after the introduction and the dismissal of the watch sergeant.

“Prob’ly in Lugdunum by now, maybe even by Massilia,” Milus answered. “He left the day after your messenger said a new legate was on the way. He gave command to Publius Fufius, the trinbunus laticlavius then took off like a pack of Germans was after him.”

“And Publius Fufius?” Marcus asked. Fufius had a good sense of honor, and was a good tribunus. It was not like him to bolt from responsibility.

“He’s dead,” the praefectus replied evenly. “Fell off his horse onto his head. The beast shied up suddenly- maybe a snake or so- and dumped him hard. Took him two days to die- he was a strong man. I’ve been running the legion ever since, hoping you would show up.”

Marcus pulled his cloak open to allow the praefectus a view of the hole in his armor. “I too was delayed. Luckily the arrow did not go much further, otherwise you would still be in command.”

The old praefectus gawked at the hole, then muttered something about having the best armorers on the Border. He’ll have it looking like new in less than a day. Then he handed two scrolls to his legate.

”These came. They are marked to you personally, sir, so we did not open them. From the governor,” he added.

Rutilius took the scrolls and saw they were indeed sealed with the signet of Volusius Saturninus. He broke the first and read.

Dearest Marcus,

You left too soon. Not two days after your departure, we received orders to send five cohorts to Germania Superior. I hope this reaches you quickly, so you can advise me of which cohorts you think best to send. You always were the military man of the province; I its humble administrator. Please reply soonest.

I am,

Quintus Volusius Saturninus,


Marcus cursed, already knowing how Saturninus solved his dilemma. The proof was right outside, learning how to throw pilum and walk in open-order ranks. He opened the second scroll, and was proven right.

Dearest Marcus,

I was saddened to learn of your accident. I shall pray to the gods that you are healing well. As I have not heard from you, I have decided to have the X Gemina send five of its cohorts to Mogontiacum. The navy will be transporting them within a week.

I know I should have waited, or even taken one cohort from each legion, but I thought it best to take them all from the X Gemina. I know you think I deliberately sabotaged you, but it is not so.

The X is a veteran legion, one of the best. Their men have trained together in Hispana and marched and fought here. We were ordered to send five good cohorts, and five from the same legion would know how the others fought, thus making a good team.

We received five cohorts of raw recruits from Mediolanum in return. These I have sent to the X Gemina. These will come to Noviomagus on the same transports that will take the veterans upriver to here. If anyone can make good legionaries out of them, it is you. All here remember the II Adiutrix and what you did with them. Tis the price of fame, my young friend.

Your legion will be at full strength when you are. All it needs is training and discipline, two things in which you excel. I know you can make them into proper legionaries better than any other legate. That is why I sent them to you, Marcus. For the benefit of Rome Eternal, not personal malice of which I feel none. I trust you feel the same.

I will be leaving for Rome three months from now. If you change your mind, let me know. I can still arrange another to take over the X and a well-trained Greek to run your estates.

I am,

Quintus Volusius Saturninus


“That’s just wonderful,” he muttered. He looked up at the praefectus, who looked away quickly. “It is okay, Milus. It is not your fault these orders came. Now, tell me about my legion. Except for the dead Fufius, do we have a full complement of officers? Did the recruits come with good centurions, or are they as raw as their men? How are we on equipment and weapons? Did Acala stock up supplies for the winter? How do we stand on auxilia and animals?”

Milus nodded. Here was a legate who knew his stuff. “We have two tribunes, so we are down one laticlavius –dead- and three angusticlavii- two transferred with the cohorts, one retired last month. The new guys came without officers at all- not even a tesserarius among them. Equipment and weapons- full stocks, if not more.

“Foodstuff... Acala stocked up well on what Acala thought prudent- fish, salted lamb, pickled eggs. But not much on what soldiers eat- that he chose to acquire as needed from his cousin, Septimus Acala the trader, or buy locally from the Batavi. We have enough grain to last to March, enough greens to April, but hardly any meat apart from the salt lamb. And eggs- lots of eggs. But no chickens. As to animals and auxilia- nothing but a few dozen mules to draw my wagons, and no auxilia of any kind. We are the X Gemina, so they say, we need nothing else.”

“But you know better,” Rutilius agreed. “So tell me, praefectus, what would you have us acquire?”

“Grain to last through to Iulius for one, and enough greens and herbs to last just as long,” Milus answered. ”The fish is okay, as is the lamb, but we should have chickens and cows. We can eat the eggs and drink the milk, and occasionally slaughter the extra animals for stews and the like. We can make good cheese from the milk as well. And if we are besieged like the V Alaudae and XV Primigenia, we can eat the damned creatures too.”

“Agreed,” Rutilius said. “Go on.”

“For auxilia I would have spearmen, preferably Ubian, but Suevii would do. Failing them, I would go Greek or Macedonian. Archers- Aquitani Gauls if available, Syrians if not. Maybe Aegyptians- I hear they are good. If the bones are shitty, we can always scare up some Illyrian spearchuckers or Thracians. And cavalry- Batavian or Cananefate. Failing them, Remi.”

“Good choices. Artillery?”

“None,” replied the praefectus adamantly. “Our boys are now too green to handle it, plus it is not so useful in the woods. In clearings, scorpions have been shown to be deadly, but only for defensive battles. Useless on the attack. Any action we are likely to see is attack, so no artillery.”

“Good reasoning,” agreed the new legate. “But I would have some scorpions mounted here on the castrum. Give the boys some instruction and experience with the things. Like you said, they can be useful. We can dispense with onagers and ballistas- too bulky and they need too much open area to operate.”

Rutilius stood upright. “Good. Write up the requests and I’ll ensure they go out tomorrow. For now, have an orderly bring me the primus pilus. We have some officers to discuss.”


Lucius Palla was a lifetime soldier now at the pinnacle of his career- a primus pilus, first centurion of an entire legion. And he was damned proud of it. Since he was good at his job, he knew already what the legate wanted to discuss. So he brought some stewed sweet and spicy lambsmeat, two loafs of fresh bread from the legion bakery, and a small amphora of watered wine to the praetorium, knocked, and was ready to straighten out this haughty nobleman who summoned him as if a lackey and get this bass-ackward legion to be once again the powerhouse it was.

“Enter,” came the reply to his knock. Palla entered and directed his entourage to put the food onto the table before the legate while he announced himself.

Rutilius watched the display, then bade the men move the food to the side table.

“Let’s not get off on the wrong foot, Top,” he said flatly, using the nickname reserved for the legion’s best centurion. “I am no nobleman direct from Rome. I’ll give you my credentials and then you can decide yourself afterward. Fair enough?”

Pallas nodded slowly, bewildered. This was unlike any legate under whom he had ever served! Most assumed they were the Gift of the Gods to the legions, who should feel blessed to have such a scion of nobility leading them gloriously into battle. This one, however, wanted to spell it out. Okay, then, sonny, do so.

Rutilius took a deep breath. “My family was once wealthy, as you can assume, but our branch was not. My grandfather was once an advocate in the Forum, but Nero had done a lot to ruin our family’s fortune, and him. My uncles inherited enough from him to keep themselves in the First Class, though not in the equites, while my father the youngest was relegated to the Third Class. We struggled on his wages and bonuses from tutoring, and lived in a tiny flat in the worst part of Rome- the Subura. So, when I was sixteen and donned the toga virilis as a man, I went to the nearest recruiter and took my sacramentum.

“That was twelve years ago. I served in various campaigns and legions for four years, rising from legionary to signifer, before being transferred to the V Alaudae in the Army of Germania as a replacement. I was made an optio almost immediately as I was the only one in my century who could read and write- thanks to my father. My centurion was killed in a skirmish, and I became the most junior centurion in the legion. I got stuck with all the shit details, as you would guess, but I took them like a man. We fought under Lucius Verginius Rufus against Vindex, where I earned a set of phalerae and a silver spear. That brought me to the attention of Vorenus, the district commander who made me a tribune of his auxilia. I was then to train the auxiliaries to fight as legionaries.

“Later, during the Batavian Revolt a few years back, Hordeonis Flaccus commissioned me a tribune despite my Third Class origins, and Mucianus made me his personal legate after Rome fell to Primus. Cerealis assigned me to the II Adiutrix as legatus legionis, where I won the Corona Civica and a bunch of other awards. After the revolt, he left me in charge of Germania while he took my legion to Britannia. A year later, Rome sent a proconsul as governor, fearing another Vitellius. And in that same vein, Rome now decides to turn Germania again into two provinces and sends two governors. So I am a legate again- a parting gift from Saturninus.

“So, to sum up. I’ve been in the legions for twelve years now, on the border for eight of them. and earned my vinewood swagger stick coming up through the ranks as did you. Though I was the governor a while back, my current rank as legate has nothing to do with a lack of performance. Its political, not military. My head is not up my ass, and neither is yours. So let’s talk as one professional to another.”

Palla smiled broadly. He sent a silent prayer of thanks to Mars. This was the kind of legate he wanted- not an epicurean oaf like Acala, but a vir militaris- a true military man. Thank you, Mars and Mithra!

“Tell me of these new recruits,” Rutilius commanded. “Can they march? Can they swim? Can they run for more than a mile and be able to kill a foe at the end of it? Can they jump a ditch in full armor?”

Palla cringed at what he knew he had to say. “No sir, most can swim, some can leap, and the only marching they’ve done was over the mountains from Mediolanum to Mogontiacum. I’ve been concentrating on gladius and scutum training, along with pilum-throwing. I figured being able to kill more important than swimming or jumping.”

“Not a bad thought, if we were just going to sit in the castrum under siege,” the legate replied. “But if we have to fight outside these walls... Our strength is our discipline and ability to hold ranks. Holding ranks means we have to be able to get into those ranks in the first place and stay there while moving. I want formation drills and marching to have a priority, Top.”

“Aye, dominus,” the primuspilus replied. He kicked himself for not thinking of that himself. Too much time under that dolt Acala, he chastised himself mentally.

“You can combine the two, as Vocula did on his march to Vetera,” Rutilius added. “And if it is not a major distraction, I would like to accompany some of those marches.”

Palla smiled again. He had heard much of the events a few years ago since coming to the border. “Aye, dominus. I think the men would like that. The men adored Caius Vocula, but you remember his fate.”

“I remember well the fate of the men who did him in,” Rutilius replied coldly. “I was the legate of the legion tasked to root out the villains, and watched Cerealis have them executed, and the rest sent in chains to Moesia and Dacia.”

Rutilius picked up a tablet and stylus and handed it to the centurion. ”I want the names of the optios, signifer, and the Aquilifer- in order of ability, not rank!- that you want promoted to centurion. I want enough names to fill up the new cohorts. If we don’t have enough of quality, let me know and I’ll try to break a few veterans loose from the XXII Primigenia at Vetera. And I want your top five centurions in the legion to be assigned as commanders of those cohorts.”

Palla put the tablet down and pulled out two of his own. He handed one to the legate. “Here, sir, are the best optios, signifers, and the like in the legion.” He smiled broadly, one professional to another. “In order of ability, not seniority. And this one,” he added, handing over the second tablet, “is a list of those centurions able enough and senior enough to be assigned Pilus Prior of the cohort. Now, what about tribunes? Can you scare up a couple from other legions as well, or will we be stuck with noble fools from Rome?”

Rutilius shrugged. “I am about out of favors, Top. But I was thinking of dispensing with the tribunes- glorified messengers, mostly- and sticking with centurions until Rome sends us some officers. You and Milus can handle most things better without tribunician interference. I will require an orderly, and a small band of men who can run- a messenger corps, if you will.”

“I’ll give you the best legionary I have, sir. Marcus Salvius. He’s in his prime, about your age, and an eleven year veteran. He was an optio in line for a swagger stick, but got busted down to legionary by the former legate for insubordination. Foolish that, but then again, Acala was a fool. Still, somebody had to pay and the lot fell on Salvius.”

“Marcus Salvius will do fine,” Rutilius replied with a broad grin. “I know him well- I grew up with him. His father was my praefectus camporum in the II Adiutrix. Old Publius taught me much of warfare and legions, Lucius.”

Lucius Palla’s face threatened to split from his grin. “You and I are going to get along just fine, sir!”

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-15-2009 @ 06:02 AM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-15-09 03:28 AM EDT (US)     28 / 62       
That was a really enjoyable chapter; two extremely competent officers, and no snobby tribunes to lead a legion. I smell some interesting battles on the wind!
...tribune of his auxilia...
I believe that the auxilia were led by prefects, not tribunes?

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 10-15-2009 @ 03:28 AM).]

Pitt
Daimyo
posted 10-15-09 04:18 AM EDT (US)     29 / 62       
Wow, what a lot we have to say about one small historical detail when we should be singing the praises of the greatest bard among us!
I believe that the auxilia were led by prefects, not tribunes?
Now who's quibbling?

Individual auxilia units were commanded by prefects, but perhaps Rutilius could have been given an overarching command, assigned to control/supervise all the auxilia units in the district?

-----

This is shaping up to be an epic, I can see. I'm interested.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

[This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 10-15-2009 @ 04:20 AM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-15-09 04:32 AM EDT (US)     30 / 62       
Research showed that by the 2d century, auxilia units were commanded by either a praefectus or tribunus militum. It does not state what the original ranks were called, nor when this standard came into effect.

As the earlier stories were written before this came to light, and the auxiliaries Rutilius was to train for Vorenus were formed up in 'private' legions, I used tribunus then. For continuity's sake, I kept it. Later, he was given a real commission and transfer into the proper army by Flaccus as a reward for services rendered.

Besides, this is fiction. Certain small historical facts may be altered to suit the tale. Tribune is a lot easier to write than prefect, at least for my fingers. And tribune, being an officer rank in the legion below that of commander and second-in-command, is probably easier for the reader to identify with than prefect, which was the camp prefect in the legions and third in command.

EDIT: For clarity sake, I will continue to use tribune for cohort-strength units and reserve prefect for the larger, milliari regimental-sized units.

Thanks for all the compliments and the help on the cavalry issue.

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-15-2009 @ 06:10 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-15-09 05:14 AM EDT (US)     31 / 62       
A very nice chapter showing two officers discussing the strength of their force. One problem is that maybe you can post a map. Some of the towns and cities are still a bit unknown.

General Rawlinson- This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires on the right?

Brigadier-General Oxley- They are lying out in No Man's Land, sir. And most of them will never stand again.

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-15-09 06:03 AM EDT (US)     32 / 62       
Good idea.

Done.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-19-09 08:43 AM EDT (US)     33 / 62       
As always, I reserve the right to change the plan without notice whenever I damned well feel like it.
Oh man!

I didn't think you'd actually do it!

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-19-09 09:37 AM EDT (US)     34 / 62       
The day is not over yet.

Patience.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-19-09 10:22 AM EDT (US)     35 / 62       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The forest was dark during the day, but opaque at night. Still, Ulfrich and his men managed to make their way along the unseen track to where the farmers said there was a hidden cave. He could see from what little light penetrated the canopy of oak that someone had indeed been living nearby- and quite recently at that. The underbrush was thin, as one would expect from a deep forest, yet there were no branches to trip over- only roots. Someone had been cleaning up, and he knew who that someone was.

The man before him tripped over another root. He landed in a thunderous crash, earning him a whispered chorus of “Shhhh!” from the rest of the party. All froze, but the night was otherwise undisturbed. Ulfrich whispered a command and the men proceeded on.

Something sharp tore at his arm. He stopped to examine the object, and found it to be a branch recently cut. Cut, not broken. Someone was living up here. And from all reports and innuendo, he knew who.

The Witch.

Alfrith came back. “My king,” he whispered, “I have seen the cave. Dark it is, and it looks empty.”

Ulfrich pointed to the branch that drew his blood. “She was here, Alfrith, and recently. The sap still oozes.”

“There is a dried crust over that,” Alfrith pointed out, feeling the end. “It is broken now. She was here, but not in a moon or so.”

Schiesse, muttered the king. “That woman shall one day feel the kiss of my blade. This I swear, Alfrith. Upon my life.”

Alfrith laughed. “Are you she now, Ulfrich, to prophesy so? Come, my king, let us return to your brother with the bad news.”

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Udo was in no mood for more bad news. But Ulfrich knew this not when he came inside their long house.

“She escaped again, brother,” the hunter announced. “We found her lair, but she was gone for a month. Only Woden knows where she is now.”

“Woden and Wenzel,” Udo muttered. “That treacherous mercenary.”

“Wenzel? How would he know of the Witch?”

“You have been in the forest a long time, brother,” Udo muttered. “Too long chasing ghosts and vapors. Veleda lives, and she is doing it in Sequani lands. The minx.”

He leaned forward from his chair, motioned for another ale, then looked deep into his brother’s eyes. “She went to Gaul, Ulfrich. She must have found Wenzel among his Sequani just after our man had visited him.”

Nein!” screamed Ulfrich. “Rutlilius thus lives, as does her prophecy!”

“It is worse, my brother,” Udo continued. “Our man must have hired a second band of brigands, to ensure his success and your survival. This second band ambushed Rutilius on the road and cut down his guards, then was ambushed in turn by Wenzel himself before the deed could be completed. So not only has Wenzel taken our silver, he deliberately saves the man he was to kill.”

“I am going to rip his throat out,” Ulfrich screamed. He was literally foaming at the mouth in rage- and fear. The Witch was never wrong. That was the legend, and so far it has proved damnably real.

“You will have to fulfill the Witch’s Prophecy in order to do that,” Udo admonished. “Wenzel came here following the act, and being as he was Wenzel, I assumed he had succeeded.”

“Nein!” Ulfrich roared. “You did not!”

Udo nodded. “I had thought him an honorable man, and his presence among us proof of his deed. But I am not so foolish, brother. Our man inside the Roman Rockpile sent word that while Rutilius yet lived, he was dying and would be within days by his ancestors. I saw no reason to deny Wenzel his payment. So I told him where to find the chest.”

“You sent him to raid the Cherusci, to his death, with Rutilius still alive. No!”

“The survivors told the tale,” Udo continued. “Wenzel went down a lion, covering himself in glory. The Cherusci were singing of his bravery for weeks. He fought a champion of theirs in single combat and killed him. The champion’s men then ganged him, and he slaughtered the lot before succumbing to his wounds. He is gone, a hero, and the only one of whom we know who could or would kill that Roman lord.”

“Surely the Dark Forests have more than a single man willing to change Fate?” Ulfrich said.

“None here lack the bravery. But none have the skill needed.”

“What of the Son of Wenzel? Had he the skill of his sire?” Ulfrich asked.

“Funny that,” Udo said, suddenly sitting up. “He accompanied Wenzel, but only up to a point. Then he turned about, taking his retinue with him back to Sequani lands while his father went on to Valhalla. He might still be on this side of Father Rhein. He might have the courage and skill needed. Cub of the Bear and all. I shall make enquiries. I have also sent out men to the Frisii and Cugerni- just in case they had some heroes of whom we have not heard.”

“Have our envoys returned?” Ulfrich asked, changing the subject to other things he ought to know as king. “The Cherusci I assume are out, but the others?”

“All went as foreseen,” Udo replied flatly, almost coldly. “The Frisians, Cherusci, and Chauci rejected us, while the Tencteri, Marsi, and Cugerni showed little enthusiasm for a war against Rome. One chieftain- a Cugerni- even went so far as to laugh in our envoy’s face. Why should he go to war against those feeding his clan, and his tribe? No, we stand alone.”

“Unless the Romans come with the Summer Sun, as the Witch said,” Ulfrich concluded.

He did not know which he wanted more- that the Witch was spouting vapors and fairy tales, or that she spoke Truth. Well, he would know when the buds started forming on the trees. Either the Romans would come, or the Witch was finally wrong, giving him a shot at Life.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Far to the south, the city of Rome awakened to gatherings in the Forum Romanum. A man was upon the rostra, reading from his tablet the proclamations and news from the Divine Titus Flavius Vespasianus Augustus. And the news was good.

Amid a tumult of background chatter, the speaker strove mightily to relay the news from distant Britannia. A tribe of painted barbarians, once friendly to Rome, had decided it was better to fall upon their swords than continue. They struggled against Roman might, but Quintus Cerealis- the Emperor’s Brother-in-Law and suppressor of the Batavian Revolt- had three veteran legions and had founded a new castrum at Eburacum. Initially he had done this to help the savages defend against raids from further north, but those ingrates now fought actively alongside the invaders against the Romans.

He folded up his tablet and brought forth a second one.

“The firstborn of the divine Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus, himself a Titus Flavius Vespasianus, had finally succeeded in the task once entrusted to the emperor- the quelling of the Jewish Revolt in Judea,” he read, among growing cheers from the gathering crowd. “Jerusalem had fallen years ago, but the revolt continued. The rebels had withdrawn to an impregnable fortress high upon a flat-topped mountain in the desert, and from there continued defying Rome. Yet Titus had taken that impregnable fortress, and with its defenders died the revolt. Judea was unquestionably Roman again.”

Of course the crowd gathering to hear the proclamations demanded specifics. How did Titus storm a mountain? Another heard there was but a goat-track leading to the fortress. Still others wondered about water- how did those in the fortress survive without water, which all knew a Roman general would cut as did Caesar at Alesia?

“Titus built a ramp up the side of the mountain,” the newsbringer cried. “A work of Roman engineering excellence! When our boys neared the top, the Jews knew they were beaten, and would be sold as slaves as is our right as conqueror to do. Nine hundred sixty of them killed themselves rather than suffer the fate of the defeated. Our boys found naught but the dead- and eleven small survivors cowering in a cistern.”

“A cistern?”

“Aye, the Jews were clever,” the newsbringer replied. “They had huge square caves cut into the rock, and a system that funneled rainwater into these caverns. Their water was plentiful, and cool, and in a place no engineer could tunnel into. Yet Titus prevailed!”

“Hail Titus!” the crowd roared. “Hail Titus! Hail Titus!”

And in the shadows of the houses lining the Forum, others heard the shouting and came to the windows to investigate. One of these cursed, and turned away muttering, “Just what Rome needs- another Flavian hero to worship. And the brat was made consul- never having set foot in this city, he was yet elevated to that most august office by his father, who this year put his second son, the drunkard, as consul. I tell you, Aulus, what Rome really needs is a return to the Republic.”

“Rome is too big and too far gone to return to a res publica,” the other man retorted. “Caesar knew the Republic was dead when the Senate turned on him. What we need, however, is a Senate with more balls and less brains. Our august body has changed from being the rulers of Rome to a oft-ignored advisory board. We are Rome, not Vespasianus and his brood. It is we who should rule, Gnaeus, not a single man.”

“You speak the truth, Aulus,” Gnaeus nodded. “The Senate must once again rise to its duties and obligations to Rome. Too long have we let a single family rule as kings over our Republic. Yet what can we do? That family controls the legions.”

“I too have commanded legions,” Aulus replied, “and done it well. I made that blithering idiot Aulus Vitellius emperor vice Otho, and was rewarded for it with the consulship. Then, when Mucianus came to put Vespasian into power, I abandoned Vitellius for Vespasian. And how was I rewarded for making him Emperor? Here, with this house, retired. He sends Saturninus- old, frail, feeble Saturninus to Germania, while Capito and Verginius Rufus and I remain here. We had both served in Germania. We know it and the legions. Yet we stay here and Saturninus is in Germania.”

“He brings Saturninus home soon, I hear,” Gnaeus added.

“Aye, and makes that crony Rutilius the governor. Bah!” Aulus turned sharply away from the window as if he could shut the world out by doing so. “Yes, Gnaeus, Rome would be better served without kings.”

“Yes, Aulus, let us ponder this matter more closely,” Gnaeus Mallius agreed.

Aulus Caecina gave a small, knowing grin. “I already have, my friend. I already have. And the wheels are already in motion.”

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-19-09 11:11 AM EDT (US)     36 / 62       
Looks like some Roman nobles are planning to overthrow the Vespasian dynasty! And all because they didn't get high posts when they helped him take the throne.

But a good chapter still!

General Rawlinson- This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires on the right?

Brigadier-General Oxley- They are lying out in No Man's Land, sir. And most of them will never stand again.

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Selifator
Ashigaru
posted 10-19-09 01:13 PM EDT (US)     37 / 62       
Very, very pleasant reading. Keep them coming!

You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.

Chauvinism is not a particularly nice trait at the best of times but can be suicidal when the person your talking too can have you executed on a whim.

Facebook, anyone?
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-20-09 08:35 AM EDT (US)     38 / 62       
Once again, an excellent chapter! I'll be interested to see how the situation in Rome ties in with the rest.
...divine Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus...
I thought the Roman Emperors only became "divine" after they were dead. And I'm nitpicking again.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-22-09 01:33 AM EDT (US)     39 / 62       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The three cohorts of the X Gemina were exhausted. They had been out for three days- marching toward Gelduba, building a camp that night, training with weapons the next morning and formations that afternoon, before breaking camp and marching back. Forty miles in three days- two if one discounts the training day. And through it all, Lucius Palla and that damnable new legate were on their heels or in their faces. Even tribunus Sextus Minucius was exhausted- and he was a veteran of the X Gemina. Never was a legionary so happy to see the castrum upon the heights overlooking Noviomagus as these men were.

“Action right!” boomed the command. The cohorts dropped their packs and swung into line facing the right. From the far edge of the meadow emerged a hunting party of Batavi whose land this was. The Batavians turned and fled at the sudden change of disposition.

Rutilius laughed, then looked to Palla. The primuspilus looked over the formation, then called the senior centurions to him and went down the line, inspecting. Every once in a while he would stop, kick a man back into line, or pull him forward to be in line with his mates. Others he corrected weapon posture, and on at least three he removed the legionary’s gladius from his hand and replaced it with the pilum he should have been holding. Then he nodded to the legate, who ordered the troops back into march formation.

The men groaned, but swung their packs back onto their backs and resumed marching. Palla ran to the legate and made his formal report.

“Mostly good, sir,” he reported. “And much better than yesterday or the day before. We still have some we need to work on, but mostly, they’re fine lads.”

Rutilius nodded. “Good. Order the senior centurions to work on formations in the castrum for the next five days, then we try this again. In the meantime, Lucius, you and I will be taking tomorrow free, then other two cohorts out towards Traiectum.”

Lucius Palla stretched a cramp from his leg and nodded. It would be hard on him and the legate- neither of whom were riding, but much harder on the recruits. Though the Top and the Legate were older, they were also conditioned. The recruits were not- but that would change. Palla hoped it did before the legate ran him into the ground.

Finally the castrum was reached. The portal opened, and the VII, VIII, and IX cohorts marched in. Rutilius watched them pass, each man in his proper rank and with his proper gear, then followed them as the portal closed behind him. He handed his gear to a legionary, then sought out Marcus Salvius in the praetorium.

“Any post?” he said upon entering. Salvius was by the door, handed him a bucket in one hand and a goblet of watered wine in the other.

“Welcome home, sir,” Salvius said with a smile. Seeing that they were alone, Salvius continued less formally. “Just the usual crap from Rome about supplies being delayed and money being tight, Marmot. Samo samo,” he summarized, using the nickname from when they were kids. Both boys answered to Marcus, so their parents added nicknames to their sons when calling them, which of course the boys shortened. Marcus Rutilius became Marrut, while Marcus Salvius became Marpub. Over time and through teeth falling out, they got corrupted to Marmot and Marple, leaving those outside their clique clueless to their immense teenaged amusement. He continued with the inventory of the mail, adding, ”There’s one in there from Pop, but its addressed to you personally so I didn’t open it.”

Rutilius fished the scroll from Publius Salvius out of the bucket and threw the rest of the imperial post rudely aside. He wandered over to a nearby couch and promptly plopped down upon it while Salvius brought over a plate of cheese and fruits. He flicked off the sigil and opened it up. After a few minutes he put the scroll down and raised his voice to the heavens, “Oh gods, not you too, Uncle!”

Salvius lurched forward and set his own goblet down heavily. “Has something happened?”

Rutilius shook his head and handed over the scroll. “Quintus Cerealis is campaigning against the Brigantes. Both your father and the II Adiutrix are doing fine, while the Brigantes are losing both ground and warriors against our legions. But in the midst of a combat campaign, that old coot still has the nerve to remind me that I am getting no younger than that my son still needs a mother. It seems everyone is trying to play matchmaker with me- your father, Decius Paullus, Quintus Saturninus, hell, even Titus Flavius tried to fix me up with a knight’s daughter from Rome. Why can’t they just let me find my own woman?”

“Because they care,” Salvius pointed out. “You have built up an enormous dignitas here, and they would very much dislike having that not passed on to children. Rome needs men like you, Marmot, especially after the convulsions following Nero. The only way to get men like you is for men like you to have sons.”

“Not you too, Marple,” Rutilius groaned.

“Okay, okay, I’ll drop it,” Salvius replied quickly. He decided to change the topic to avoid further harassment of either of them. “You still need a steward for your Batavian farmsteads. I know of your aversion to Greek stewards, but you do need someone. Your lands are running okay without your direct supervision, Marmot, but only because your farmers have a vested interest in the production. And it could be better- far better for you and for them- if you had a steward who could oversee your various farms and run them more efficiently. Like transferring manpower and animals from one to another and back, as needed, or buying in equipment and animals and sharing, so that not every farmstead needs to purchase the same.”

Rutilius looked at his long-time friend with new appreciation. “When the hell did you get good at numbers and running real estate?”

Salvius smiled. “Since I was signifer a while back. I was in charge of the century’s wages and other financial matters. You learn real quick if you don’t want seventy nine other guys coming down on you. Hard.”

“True,” Rutilius agreed with a laugh. He remembered his own days as signifer and all the accounts he had to keep- and keep straight. “Tomorrow we go into town and look for a suitable steward. Maybe even stop by Tiberius Labeo. He might know someone suitable. Or the merchants that hang around him ought to. Good enough?”

Salvius nodded. “Good enough. I hear Rorix is in town, selling wool and buying furs. If he’s around, so might others.”

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The legate and his orderly enjoyed the day off by leaving the safety of the castrum alone and venturing into the town below. That town was once Batavodurum, civitas of the Batavi, but no more. The skeleton of old Batavodurum lay a mile of so upriver, while the people were relocated here. To emphasize the Roman overlordship, Cerealis has the town moved to its present location- defenseless under the guard of a legionary castrum- and renamed it to Noviomagus.

Tiberius Labeo was the king of the Batavians because his predecessor, Gaius Julius Civilis, had revolted against Rome. When Rome suppressed the rebellion, Civilis was evicted and Labeo installed in his place. So when the legate of the legion wanted an audience with the king, Labeo made sure the legate got that audience. But today the audience was delayed.

In the square before the king’s great hall was a market. Markets were usually busy places, but this one was even busier- an argument was turning ugly and gathering all sorts of attention. A Gallic merchant, with his hand on his scabbarded sword, was involved in a heated exchange with a Batavian. Behind the Gaul was a wagon with a woman at the reins and a nag tethered to its rear, while behind the Batavian- whose hand clutched an axe by its head- was another horse being held by a stableman. Neither was caring about the volume of the debate.

Rutilius looked to the great hall for a sign that Labeo or his men would stop the argument before steel was drawn or blood would flow, but saw nothing. Salvius, at his side, noticed the weapons gripped were sheathed or at rest, then saw nothing further than the gorgeous brown-haired woman holding the reins of Rorix’s wagon. Her hair was like the oak leaves in midwinter, her eyes green like those leaves in spring. Her cloak disguised her figure, but Salvius knew that with a face like that, she had to have a nice body as well. He gripped his friend’s arm and pointed.

Rutilius glanced at where the finger pointed, saw only the wagon and the woman- no signs of danger- then turned back to the argument. He laid his own hand upon his sword hilt and took a step closer to intervene when another woman moved in between the two men. She spoke, then listened, then spoke again. Hands came away from weapons and the two men began inspecting the horse behind the Batavian.

Rutilius moved closer, dragging Salvius with him. Salvius, infatuated by the brown-haired woman, felt no harm in moving closer either. As the two Romans edged closer, the crowd that had formed began to disperse, and by the time they got to the merchants, whatever there was to do was done and both men pleased.

Rutilius stopped one of the gathered crowd and asked what had happened.

“A woman handled an argument between Rolf Ulrik’s Son the Horsetrader and a Gallic merchant quite handily, is what,” the man replied. “They were about to draw steel and lay into each other when she walked up, talked to them both, made each see the other’s point, and then walked away, leaving them shaking hands.”

“Huh?”

The German took a second look at Rutilius, did not recognize him but did see that he was not a Batavian, and so switched to Latin. “The Gaul had lost a horse- it broke a leg and had to be slain. He needed another, and found Rolf, a horse trader. They discussed prices. Rolf felt insulted by the Gaul’s offer, and the Gaul thought he was being robbed blind. Follow me so far?”

Rutilius nodded.

“Good. Then the woman intervenes. She explains to Rolf that the Gaul is looking for a draft horse, not a riding horse. Draft horses are cheaper, especially in Gaul. Then she turned to the Gaul and explained that the Batavi do not use draft horses, they use oxen, and if he wanted a draft horse, he would have to go to Gaul. The price Rolf was charging was correct for a riding horse here. Then she pointed out that the horse he had tethered to his wagon now was of poorer quality than the horse Rolf had brought. Why did the Gaul not buy Rolf’s better riding horse and use it for riding, while retiring his old horse to being the draft animal? In one moment, she solved both their problems and made everyone happy.”

“That was indeed well handled,” Rutilius said, then turned to his aide. “Marcus! Are you following?”

Salvius nodded, then pointed to the Gallic lass again. “That is what you need, Marmot. A woman like that- beautiful, obedient, and brave enough to stand by your side when steel is about to be drawn.”

Rutilius shook his head, and jerked a thumb over his shoulder towards the departed peacemaker. “I’d rather find one like that- intelligent, reasonable, and brave enough to come between swords to keep the peace. Beauty fades, Marple, and fades fast. Now come, Labeo is waiting.”

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-22-2009 @ 01:37 AM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-22-09 03:39 AM EDT (US)     40 / 62       
Very enjoyable to read, because it has a Celt girl in it.

But not only for that. Well done!

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-26-09 02:35 AM EDT (US)     41 / 62       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Tiberius Labeo was indeed waiting. The man was once a tribune in the service of Rome, until his cousin Civilis revolted. Labeo found himself on the wrong side and quickly returned to the fold of Rome's good graces. As the only nobleman of the Batavians who did, he was rewarded by being made king. And he liked being king, even if he had to endure the visits of Roman warlords. The legion above the town had a good legate when Rutilius was the governor, but he had been replaced by a stuck-up ass who thought his blue blood gave him a divine right to command when the new governor came. Now that fool was gone and Rutilius himself was the legate of the legion.

Labeo thanked both Woden and Frey for the change. As far as legates and governors went, Rutilius was a good one- not too haughty, nor too lame. The two had worked well together in the years the Roman was the governor, and then deputy governor, and he hoped that good relation would continue through his tenure as warlord of the legion above. Rutilius spoke fluent German from his mother who was a Chatti. Her language was strangely similar to that of the Batavians, but the German of her son was heavily accentuated with Cananefatian which was not. Six years of speaking Cananefatian had him a master of it- yet he was now stationed among the Batavi who understood little of it. So he had to work on relearning his mother’s tongue all over again. It was not easy, but he was trying.

“Welcome, Marcus,” Tiberius Labeo said by way of greeting, offering open hands to his visitor.

Rutilius shook the hands with open hands of his own, but replied in Batavian, “I thank you for giving us this time to talk, Tiberius.”

The king nodded and smiled. “Your command of our tongue is getting better,” he said approvingly. “I see you are not gargling as much Cananefate at me as you did before. Very good, and for a Roman, excellent. Now, what brings you to my hall on this occasion?”

“You know I have bought up properties after the rebellion,” Rutilius began.

“We know,” Labeo interrupted. “And know that you did this after the rebellion was over, and granted our homeless the right to work on your lands and keep most of what they grow- for which many here are thankful.”

“It was only fair,” Rutilius answered, dismissing the inherent praise. “I need these lands to generate a certain amount of revenue, Tiberius, or I risk losing my seat in the Senate won by that Corona Civica. A seat in the senate is a requirement to be a magistrate, and a magistracy is required to be a governor. So if I am to have any influence on who Rome sends as governor here- or become governor again myself- I need that revenue. Do you follow me so far?”

“Roman ways are foreign to me, Marcus,” Labeo admitted. “For me it is enough they send a good man to be governor.”

“Rome sends those who have influence, which means the rich. You could just as easily end up with a Secundus Acala as governor as a Quintus Saturninus,” Rutilius explained.

Labeo shuddered at the thought, then saw where Rutilius was going. “You need more land, Marcus. A lot more. But we have none more to give, without taking it from others. We are now on good terms with Niall and the Cananefate, while Rome rules all to the south. Thus... the only land you can grab is across the river-”

There was a sudden noise by the window of the hall, which drew their attention to it. Labeo motioned for a guard, who went to the window and examined it and the environs. He shrugged, muttered ‘Birds’ and resumed his place at the king’s nod.

Rutilius relaxed and sat back down. He took up the goblet upon the table and shook his head. “I do not need more land,” he said between sips. “I need someone to make my current lands work better. I can no longer use my journeys throughout the province to pop by and check on each and every farmstead and estate. I am bound by my legion to where my legion is. Thus I would have one who can travel and oversee my estates, and run them as I would if I was there.”

Labeo sat back, pondering. He saw what the legate wanted, and saw how it would indeed increase his revenues by utilizing the land and its people and its equipment better. He himself had overseers who ran his various properties, and the system worked well. Other landlords, especially the Romans, did the same- but they invariably used slaves as labor and foreigners as overseers. Such a system would not work, not for Rutilius whose farms ran on volunteer labor and tithes. Better results, less overhead, but not as much revenue. Yes, Rutilius did have a problem. He needed to either retire and run things himself, or find a steward who spoke German. Since he was here in the hall of the German lord, he had evidently come to the same conclusion and had chosen the latter. Labeo gave Rutilius a few more points of respect.

“Rolf is doing quite well,” Labeo said, pondering aloud. “Refilling the auxilia demanded of Rome drained us of menfolk and horses, so those who breed horses are earning gold by the cartload. His son Magnus might do- a second son, he won’t inherit so he’ll need something to do. He has experience, and knows horses.”

“But doesn’t know farming for squat,” Rutilius completed. “I would like to buy some land somewhere and start up some horse farms- like you said, profitable business and based on agriculture so it counts toward my senatorial income. When I do, or when such a property comes open, I would like to hire this Magnus to run it. Can you make the arrangements for me?”

Labeo nodded. “It shall be done. And I shall keep my ears open for farms going under so that you can act fast and acquire them when they go to sale.” He paused, placing a finger upon his bearded chin, then looking back at Rutilius. His finger came away and started shaking as the idea germinating in his head took form. ”Claudius Victor. He is a farmer now. He hates it. Give the man a horse and a sword and he shines, but he pales and withers behind the plow. Make him your steward, and you gain a commander who knows his farms and horses, is a respected war hero on both sides, and one who would spend much time riding to each and every property you own doing his job. And he is my cousin, giving you ties to the Batavian Royal Family.”

“He would do well, I agree,” Rutilius replied. “I thank you, Tiberius Labeo, for you valuable help in this matter. If there is anything I can do by way of repayment that is within my power and my honor, please let me know.”

Labeo knew the words, having heard them before from various legates, but from Rutilius they actually sounded sincere. So he decided to try, just in case the honor was as real as the man seemed to hold it.

“The legionaries, lord,” he said. “They come in to the town when they are free. Many come to drink, or to mate with widows- we have a lot of widows after Civilis led us into rebellion, and not enough men. But other legionaries come to fight. We have tried not to kill any, but we do need to keep the peace between our peoples- and drunken belligerent warriors make it hard.”

“I will issue a proclamation that the legionaries of the X Gemina are to treat your people with the same respect they treat our own citizens,” Marcus agreed. ”It is as you say, we must both live together.” He paused, then looked back toward where the market should be and jerked a thumb in that direction. “You have enough brawls here yourselves, though. I saw a Gallic trader and Rolf almost come to bared steel in the market, and not a warrior or King’s Man tried to stop the coming bloodshed. It took a woman to step in and arbitrate. If my legionaries are to respect your people, that respect has to be mutual. Otherwise my proclamation will be just empty words that become ignored.”

Labeo nodded as he saw the truth in that. Respect brings peace, but it must be mutual. “Aye, Marcus, what you say is true. I shall make my own proclamation, and we shall both have less violence in the streets.”

With that, the royal interview was concluded. Both shook hands in the Batavian manner, then the Romans were escorted out. The Gallic trader was still there, Rutilius noted, with his old horse now tied to the yoke and the one just purchased from Rolf tethered behind. From the side of his wagon he was hawking copper goods from Augusta Suessionium and Lugdunum, and spools of spun, colored wool from the north Gallic districts for weaving.

Next to him was a bladesmith selling knives, axes, and swords, which Rutilius knew would be good but not up to Roman standards. The armorers of Milus could probably do better, and they were only trained at repair, not creation. Beside the bladesmith was the Fletcher, and it was this man who caught his eye.

Rutilius walked over, Salvius in his wake. Salvius was observing the crowd, but mostly searching for the woman he saw on the merchant’s wagon. She was about somewhere, he knew, but not where, and he wanted another eyeful of that woman. Rutilius cared not for the fancy flesh- he was busy examining the arrows. He still had twenty from his winnings in Mogontiacum, but twenty arrows can go fast, and he wanted a supplier. He plucked an arrow from a bucket and held the shaft up to the fletcher.

“Do you have some this length, of wood of ash, but... fatter?” he asked. When the fletcher shrugged and shook his head, he repeated his request in Cananefate. “Do you have some arrows this long, of ashwood, but thicker?”

Again the man shrugged. He pointed to the buckets of arrows around his stall. Evidently he spoke neither Batavian or Cananefate.

A woman’s voice beside him repeated the question in the Batavian dialect, but added hand signals to the questions. The man shook his head, babbling at high volume some nonsense about thick arrows not flying straight while proffering the thinner hunting arrows as a better arrow.

Rutilius turned to his newfound translator and saw the woman who had settled the merchant’s dispute earlier. She came up to his chin, but her face was hidden beneath wavy locks of flaxen hair and was turned toward the fletcher. She faced him now, and he could see a tiny nose between two lovely lakes of blue. The face was not large, but he found it not unpleasant to gaze upon. One eyebrow was up as she awaited him to continue so she could translate.

“Please tell him that the thin arrows he makes are too skinny. My bow would snap them in half. I need thick arrows.”

The woman turned and spoke, again using the hand gestures and a loud voice. She heard the man’s reply and translated it to the buyer.

“He says your arms are long, and an arrow is best a bit longer than the length of the arm. Ash wood is the best for arrows, but thick ash wood warps with time and then flies untrue. We came to the conclusion that he can make some arrows for you, of the proper length, in oak. Oak is stronger, so it can be thinner. He will also lacquer them, so they will not warp. He will charge you a denarius per dozen, though, for the extra work.”

“Done,” Rutilius agreed. “Please tell him I wish three dozens, with hunting points and triple fletchings.” After she did, and the man agreed, he asked her why the man could not understand him, but could understand her, though they all spoke in basically the same language.

The woman laughed, a tiny bird’s chirp meant for amusement rather than a guffaw at ignorance, and pointed to the man’s hat, which covered his entire head. “Erwin here is mostly deaf after being wounded in battle. His ears are damaged badly, and one is completely gone. To talk with him, one needs to face him directly and speak loudly. It helps if you can act out with your hands exactly what you seek.”

Marcus nodded, then turned to Erwin. In a loud voice, and holding up three fingers, he asked in German if the arrows could be ready in three market intervals. To his delight, the man repeated “Three markets from now, yes. I bring the arrows, you the money.”

The mystery was solved. Rutilius turned to the pixie-like woman to thank her, but she had already moved off. Smiling, he did the same. He found Salvius still searching for the Gallic lass, pulled him away, and returned to the castrum. He would have a hard few days coming up.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-26-09 09:36 AM EDT (US)     42 / 62       
You've got me hooked, Terikel. Damn you.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)
Andalus
Ashigaru
posted 10-26-09 10:34 AM EDT (US)     43 / 62       
I am enjoying this tale, Tezrikel, keep it up!
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-29-09 04:20 AM EDT (US)     44 / 62       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

“Now we know why Rutilius would wreck the peace he had built,” Udo smirked as he heard the report sent by his spy in Batavodurum. He knew the place had a Roman name now, but he rejected it as he did the Romans and referred to the Batavian civitas by its true and proper name. He spat the Roman's motivation out with contempt.“Gold.”

“It is true,” the messenger reported. “Erwin heard it himself, when the Roman went to visit the king. He needs money, explained the land was money, and the Batavian king replied the only land not claimed in Roman eyes was here, across the river.”

The messenger paused, then continued. “Later, Rutilius confirmed this by requesting three dozen arrows, specially made. What use does a warlord have with six and thirty arrows, of oak, and with hunting points? Surely not hunting, unless the prey is a man. Or for use in battle. And the warlord has been taking his troops into the hinterlands- training. One does not train for peace- one does it to prepare for war. So aye, lord, it appears the Witch was correct again- Rutilius will come in the spring.”

“Does anybody yet suspect Erwin?”

The messenger shook his head. “Being a fletcher is good for a spy- they can move about and talk to hunters as it is a part of selling their goods, and gathering feathers, and walk about in the forests gathering wood. He has one badly-mauled ear burned in an accident with a torch and the other was cut off in battle, and uses both to play deaf. Nobody notices a deaf man, or if they do, they don’t care as he cannot hear. No, lord, Erwin is quite safe.”

“Has he any word of the Witch?” Ulfrich asked.

“None, lord,” the messenger replied honestly. “But if she is hiding in Sequani lands, which are far from Batavian lands, then it is only natural to assume he does not. He has made his daughter a wife for a trader from Gaul, so that he can hear things from afar, but alas, nothing yet.”

The kings nodded. Erwin was a good man. If the Witch is to be found, he would find her. And thanks to him, they already found the plans of Rutilius. The messenger was dismissed with a nod, and a Bructeri warrior handed him a sack of dead rabbits to complete the cover that he was a simple hunter. When the man was gone, Udo turned to Ulfrich.

“Rutilius takes his troops into the hinterlands for training,” Udo repeated. He grinned a leer to his brother. “And he likes to hunt. So do you, brother.”

Ulfrich fingered his dagger, then raised his bow. “Which shall I use, brother?”

Udo shrugged. “It does not matter. Use either, or both. Just make sure this time. Do it yourself.”

Ulfrich grinned and nodded. “It will be my pleasure.”

“It will be your life if you fail, brother,” Udo reminded him.

The smile of Ulfrich’s face faded. He would not fail. He must not fail. If there was any way to rid himself of the Witch’s Curse, it was this- he had to kill Rutilius Maximus before Rutilius killed him. It was a simple question of survival, and Ulfrich intended to survive.

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Three markets later, Rutilius and Salvius again descended from the castrum to visit the town below. Like before, Marcus Rutilius had just returned from a training hike and was sore, while Marcus Salvius was searching the crowd for the brown-haired beauty from Gaul. One would have his objective complete by the end of the day, while the other would be returning disappointed.

Primuspilus Palla says the recruits are coming along nicely,” Salvius commented.

“Aye, they are fine lads,” Rutilius agreed. “Another couple of hikes before the frost sets in should have them able to form ranks in their sleep.”

“Like that will help,” laughed Salvius. “And during the winter?”

“Weapons. Gladius and scutum training for the most part,” the legate replied. “Pila as well. Archery lessons for those capable of it, horse riding for others. We will be juggling men about once I get a feel for who can do what. I want at least two cohorts cross-trained in archery and cavalry if I can, archery and spears if I can’t.”

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Salvius said with a smile. “You are planning on making our legionaries function as auxilia, since we have none. Correct?” Rutilius nodded. “Well, oh mighty legate, you really should read those boring dispatches from Mogontiacum and Rome yourself sometimes, instead of giving that drudgery to me. If you had, you would already know that within a fortnight, four centuries of Aquitani archers, two cohorts of Dalmatian spearmen, and an ala of Aedui cavalry are to report to Noviomagus. Further, two cohorts of vigiles will be coming from Raetia as garrison support.”

“Vigiles?” Rutlius scoffed. “Firemen and town watch?”

Salvius laughed again. “Not quite, but close. According to the dispatches, most border castra in hostile areas will be assigned a cohort or two of vigiles. We are on the border, in hostile territory as far as Rome thinks, thus qualify for two. These men are to guard the castrum- and its precious supplies- whenever the legion is out as sometimes the auxilia do. When the legion is in, they serve as immunes and other noncombatants. Think of them as noncombatant auxilia that can pull guard duty.”

“I could hire Batavians and Cugerni to do that, if I so wanted,” the legate replied.

“Ah, there is the problem,” Salvius replied. “Vespasian’s edict about auxilia- they are not to serve in the same province in which they are raised. If you raised a Cugerni cohort, it would not be allowed to serve here.”

“Makes sense,” Rutilius reluctantly agreed. “It keeps rebellions like the Batavians down. No ready trained army willing to join makes it damn tough for rebels to survive. That also explains why we are getting Aquitani and Aedui auxilia.”

“We are also getting some officers in,” Salvius continued. “Tribunes. One from Rome, due here next month, and another from Britannia, courtesy of Pop and old Cerealis.”

“A veteran. Good.”

“A veteran, true, but not from our side. He’s a local, granted the citizenship by Cerealis when he was consul.”

“Huh?” asked Rutilius.

“The guy was a tribune commanding Iceni auxilia,” Salvius explained. ”And before that he fought against Cerealis when he was but a legate. Since then he’s been auxilia tribune in service to Rome. But with Vespasian’s decree, he can’t command his own people any more, so Quintus Petillius made him a tribune in the II Adiutrix. Pop likes him. Cerealis might be handing over the province after the Saturnalia, and he wanted to make sure this Quintus Petillius Cadorus chap gets a fair shake at a decent career. Both he and Pop know where that means he has to go- yep, the good old X Gemina.”

“And the Roman officer?”

Salvius shrugged. “Some senatorial turd. He had one of those names that are common as coal- like Lucius Cornelius this or Gaius Antonius that. All I know about him is what was in the dispatch. Probably some rich kid wanting to experience the glory of battle and let his divine light bless us all.”

“He’ll find little glory and a lot of work,” Rutilius promised. “I work tribunes hard when I have them. Ask Sextus Minucius and Manius Severus- both of them are about worn to the nub. Or even Publius Arrius, or Titus Flavius Sabinus.”

“But you reward well,” Salvius observed. “Both of those are now legates themselves.”

Rutilius shrugged and pointed out that hard work earns its own rewards, to which Salvius laughed. He remembered the hard work he put in as legionary and signifer under Acala- and the reward he got was being busted down to legionary for something not even his doing. Rutilius knew how his friend felt about aristocrats. Nobody in the Subura liked them much.

“Ah,” Salvius said espying a good-looking woman at last. She wasn’t the trader’s daughter, but she was pleasing to his eye. “I’ll see you back at the castrum, sir. My free day officially begins now.”

Rutilius saw where Salvius was looking and agreed. She was pretty for a widow, and Salvius had earned his free day several times over since being appointed his aide. He wished him well, reminded him about the edict of respect, then made his way through the market to the fletcher’s stall.

Erwin the Deaf was there, and had a bucket of oaken shafts ready. Rutilius greeted him, then examined the shafts. He unslung the bow from his shoulder and strung it, then held the arrow up to it as if to launch it, though he did not draw the bow back. The length was correct, and the lacquer applied gave the arrows a deep brown glow. The points were sharp, but the fletchings were slightly off- askew, not straight. He pointed that out to the fletcher and asked loudly why.

Erwin showed him the other arrows he had made by way of explanation. All had the same slightly-off fletchings as did these arrows. Then he shouted, “Makes arrow spin in flight- flies truer than straight fletching.”

He pointed to the west gate. “Go. Outside. Try. I make three dozen plus two. I know you wish to try. Southerners always doubt. Please.”

Rutilius took two arrows at random from the bucket, unstrung his bow, and went to the town gates. Once beyond the gate, he looked about. There was a tree in the distance, about three hundred paces. There was nobody in the field around it, so there was no danger to the locals. He shrugged, strung the bow, and aimed.

To his immense surprise, the arrow did indeed fly true. It spun about in flight, but the trajectory was indeed true. He had aimed at the crotch of the tree where the lowest branches began- and the arrow pierced that crotch exactly. And broke from the impact.

Better there than in my hand here, he thought. He sighted the second skinny arrow and let it fly. It too hit the crotch and then shattered. Damn, he thought, these are some killer arrows. Too bad they are like glass when they hit something hard.

He had seen enough. He left the arrows in the tree, not even bothering to see how deep they sank. It was enough that the weird fletchings did indeed fly true. He unstrung the bow and returned to the market.

Erwin looked up in surprise at the legate’s approach. “You not shoot? Where arrow?”

“I shot a tree, three hundred paces away, and they flew perfectly,” he yelled to the deaf man. “They shatter on impact. Tree very hard. But they fly true.” And with that he handed him three denarii and collected his arrows. The deaf fletcher nodded and smiled wanly, and quickly pocketed the three small silver coins and packed up his wares.

It would be nice to see how these fare against archery targets, he mused as he wandered over to the Great Hall. Hopefully they won’t shatter against them as they did against the tree. A denarius per dozen for one-shot arrows was bloody expensive!

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Outside the west gate, brush began moving though there was no wind. The bushes quivered, then fell or moved aside. The concealment now out of the way, ten Bructeri were exposed as they stepped from the treeline further away. Eight of them padded off to the north and the river, where a boat awaited them. The ninth and tenth jogged over to the tree and examined the handiwork of Erwin and the shooting of Rutilius.

Ulfrich whistled at the placement- the arrowheads were less than a hand’s breadth apart and sank into the oak at least a finger’s length.

“It is a shame that he did not come see his own results”, Ulrich said as Alfrith joined him. “He would have made a lovely porcupine.”

“If we can’t fill him with wooden shafts, there is always cold steel,” Alfrith reminded him. He drew his dagger for emphasis, but did not need to worry. Ulfrich had his own dagger out.

“There is more than one way to kill a Roman dog,” he muttered.

Alfrith nodded in silent agreement. Both men started heading for the town.

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Rutilius was as oblivious to his close escape from Death as he was the men hunting him. He could not explain it, but he felt more secure and at ease in this German town than he did within the stone battlements of his castrum above. He figured it had something to do with the fact that here he could be himself among these people, unremarked as none but the king and a few noblemen knew him well enough to recognize him out of armor, while in the fortress he felt the incredible weight of responsibility. But now he felt the weight of his personal responsibility- his estates, which was why he was knocking on the king’s hall once again.

“You can get your alms around back,” said the guard gruffly as he saw the cloaked figure, then added as he saw the slung bow, “or you can join the militia at the muster field two days hence. Now go away.”

Rutilius smiled as he cast back the hood of his cloak. “I am here to speak with Claudius Victor, warrior. I was told he is awaiting me.”

The glimmer of an iron ring upon the man’s hand caught the warrior’s attention when the hood was cast back. Steel rings upon fingers were uncommon- and not German. Romans wore rings upon their fingers. Most senators wore a gold ring, but some still followed the old tradition of iron ones. The guard’s eyes widened as he realized with whom he was talking. He opened the door amid a flurry of apologies, which were just as easily brushed aside.

Once inside, Rutilius was escorted to a chamber off the main hall. Claudius Victor was already seated. He rose as the legate entered, then offered his hand. Rutilius took the hand and the two men sat.

“My cousin tells me you are looking for a man to run your farms,” Victor wheezed. His voice was grit rubbing against gravel and blown upon by a harsh wind. Above the torc he wore was a nasty scar. Rutilius could barely hold his eyes from it.

Claudius Victor noticed the effort, and spoke without being asked. “War wound, Gelduba, four winters past. From my own men, while I was trying to stop their panicked flight. It went deep, but did not kill. Obviously.”

Rutilius smiled at the small joke, then opened his cloak to reveal the silvered cuirass beneath. The hole the armorers had repaired was still visible. “Arrow, four months ago. Also deep, but did not kill. It still hurts.”

Victor grinned at the tale, and marveled at the armor- and the man in it. He knew much of Rutilius, who had been a legate to Cerealis, whom Cerealis had made governor after that terrible revolt, and who had built a lasting peace. The Roman, in turn, knew much of Claudius Victor. A cousin to the former king who was of the Julian branch, he was a blood relative of the Claudian branch. In him were both branches united- a perfect candidate for the kingship but for that terrible wound and the resultant lack of strong voice. And of course the fact that Labeo fought for Rome, while Victor fought against her to the last- and even stole the flagship of Cerealis from its dock in Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippensi.

The war was over. Peace had come, and with the Pax Romana came decrees concerning the auxilia and where they may be, and who may command them. Claudius Victor was excluded from the command that used to be his family’s birthright, and had no desire to be a mere trooper. Thus he was a farmer now, and a poor one at that. He knew what to do, he simply hated doing it. Thus this post- command of farmers- was a good combination of his love of command and his knowledge of the earth.

The two spoke for about two hours then shook hands. There was not really much else to say. Claudius Victor knew the lands now owned by Rutilius, knew the people manning them (verily, many had been in his squadrons during the war), and knew how to run the farmsteads effectively. And he loved to ride. He could read and write Latin, so could write requests and reports, and read correspondence. He was the ideal candidate, and both men knew it.

Rutilius handed over three scrolls. “I had these prepared in case I found you acceptable. I do. These grant you powers to act as my officer, access to my banker and funds to a limited degree, and assume the position as steward of my estate. I will be passing you orders as things come to my attention. I have no doubt that you will carry them out with the same vigor and thoroughness as you did at the crossing of the Maas.”

Victor shot a startled look at the legate.

“I heard of it from Tiberius Labeo, the opposing general. The Batavian cavalry have always been a well-respected warhost on any battlefield.”

Victor nodded at the praise. He escorted Rutilius to the main hall, where a guard would escort the Roman out. The guard took him to the doors, opened them to face the market, and ensured the legate made it safely off the king’s property. Then he closed the door and resumed his duties.

Rutilius stepped out into the market, which was not as crowded now as earlier. The sun was setting earlier with the onset of the winter, which meant shorter market days. He glanced up at his castrum, granite against the darkening sky, and marveled at it before having his attention ripped away as a man bumped heavily into him and fell. The falling man clutched at him to break the fall, while another closed in quickly from behind and jabbed a dagger towards his ribs.

Rutilius writhed forcefully and felt the dagger skitter along his cuirass as he turned. His right hand was clutched by the fallen man, but his left was free. It drew now his trusty pugio from its sheath on his left hip and plunged it backwards. He felt it bite into flesh. He drew the dagger out and stabbed again, then again. The fallen man gripping his right arm ceased his struggles when steel was drawn and scampered speedily away. The man behind lay still upon the ground.

Rutilius checked himself. He felt no pain, but his bowstring was severed and the bow itself damaged. His armor was scraped, but that was what armor was for. His cloak was tattered, but that was replaceable. In all, he was fit for battle.

The man at his feet was not. He was shivering as his lifeblood spewed forth in spurts from three mighty fountains in his abdomen. He said nothing, nor even whimpered, before passing first out, then beyond as the crowd gathered around. Rutilius evaded the crowd and moved back to the king’s hall, from where guards were already spewing forth at the ruckus. He sighed heavily. It was going to be a long night of statements, and tomorrow he had another five-day hike.

Or so he thought. Three steps toward the hall of Labeo he collapsed heavily. A stream of blood could be seen leaking from under his cuirass, in the front. He struggled to stand, tearing his wound further, when a strong hand pushed him flat and a female voice whispered in his ear, “Play dead if you want to live.”

Rutilius recognized the voice of the woman who had helped him earlier, and though he did not know why she said that, he felt the wound worsen when he struggled. He lay back, and closed his eyes as he felt her hands press up under his armor and seal the wound. Then he felt nothing more.

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Andalus
Ashigaru
posted 10-29-09 07:35 AM EDT (US)     45 / 62       
Good chapter.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-29-09 07:37 AM EDT (US)     46 / 62       
My compliments, Master Skald. You are clearly worthy of your title.

I don't know if I can wait till Monday for the next part...

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

/\
/|||| ||||\

(dis ma house)
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-29-09 07:37 AM EDT (US)     47 / 62       
I want blood! No I'm just kidding, it's a good chapter. Is it the calm before the storm?

General Rawlinson- This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires on the right?

Brigadier-General Oxley- They are lying out in No Man's Land, sir. And most of them will never stand again.

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-30-09 03:17 AM EDT (US)     48 / 62       
You got your blood- its all over the marketplace of Noviomagus!
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-02-09 01:47 AM EDT (US)     49 / 62       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Across the river a fortnight later, Ulfrich and his men strode proudly into the great hall of Udo with broad smiles upon their faces. Ulfrich held up a dagger, its shine tarnished with brown stains along its length.

“Rutilius will not be coming in the spring,” he shouted defiantly. “Alfrith stabbed him three times in the back, and I got a good one up under his belly. No man can survive that.”

Udo nodded, and motioned for ale to be brought forward. “You have done well, my brother. Erwin has sent word- Rutilius died that very night, there on the market. A farmer’s widow tried to help him, but the stabs were too deep. Not even Labeo’s leeches or the medici of the legion could stop the flow of blood until he was no more.”

He raised his horn. “A toast, to Ulfrich, King of the Brutceri and Slayer of Romans!”

“And to Udo, King of the Bructeri!” Ulfrich replied. Both men drank deeply, then held out their horns for more.

“Who did the Romans send to replace their departed fool?” Ulfrich asked. “Another man who knows our ways, or one of those clowns who thinks anything Roman is automatically superior to anything else?”

“The Romans will send nobody. Erwin reports that the legionaries speak of faraway battles- in Judea, wherever that may be, and Britannia. Cerealis, the conqueror who struck down Seval, is there, and in heavy battle. With this and that war in Judea, the Romans are occupied from here to there- and have nothing for anything other than that.”

“A legion with no master,” Ulfrich smirked. “It is too bad that legion is hiding behind the curve of the river from us, with another at Vetera to shield it. A masterless legion- easy Roman meat!”

“Aye, a tempting bait,” Udo agreed. “As are the Batavi themselves. Erwin says the Batavi are stunned by this murder in their midst. Imagine that, brother? Germani stunned by the death of a foe. They have been under Rome too long.”

“Maybe we should not wait until spring,” Ulfrich thought aloud. “They are weak now, under this Romanized Labeo. The legion thrust upon them is now masterless, and shall stay that way according to Erwin. All we need to do is to take Vetera from the single legion encamped there, and then sweep down upon these Batavi dogs and make them once again the proud Germanic warriors they once were.”

“Do not be stupid, my brother,” Udo admonished. “It took Seval a year to take Vetera, and his warhost died a few months later outside its walls. That masterless legion can get a new master within that year, and the Romans can bring other legions against us. No, we let them come in the spring, as the Witch predicted.”

He giggled, then guffawed. “Methinks your murder of their precious Rutilius may have been trigger that sends them here. Would that not be poetic? You murder their darling, they come against us- maybe even carrying his corpse- and we slaughter them in our forests and offer them to our gods. How just! How perfect!”

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

He was thirsty. Very thirsty. His hand reached out for the flagon of water he always kept by his bed.

A soft hand intercepted his.

His eyes opened. A small blonde woman with her hair in a single braid sat before him. He looked around and saw he was in his quarters.

“Welcome back,” the woman said.

Rutilius recognized her. She was the woman from the market, the one who helped him with the arrows. A further thought registered- she was the one who told him to lay still.

“What happened?” he croaked. His throat was terribly dry. She handed him a skin of water. He began guzzling it until she took it roughly away.

“Not so fast or you’ll spit it back up,” she warned. “You were stabbed. It was to be a murder. Luckily you were armored- it saved your back. But you took a stab under your armor. Right side, just above where your leg meets your belly. You were lucky- it cut through a lot of muscle because you were half-turned and missed anything vital. It bled, but was not fatal.”

“You told me to lay dead,” he remembered. He struggled to sit up, but the woman pushed him down firmly and held him there.

“If I wanted you dead, I would not have nursed you back to life these two weeks past, and back to health the week after,” she chided, seriously enough for her words to be taken as such, yet a bit playful showing she held no malice for the oh-so-natural thought. “And playing dead saved your life.” To his inquisitive glance, she added, “laying still kept you from tearing the stab further, plus gave the illusion to your would-be killer that he succeeded. Your enemy thinks you dead- this gives you an advantage.”

“How so?” Rutilius asked. “And why murder? Why me? I have always been fair in my dealings with the People of the Forest.”

“Not all those Peoples are friends of Rome,” she reminded him. “And you represent Rome. Your fair hair and blue-grey eyes may be Roman, or of the tribes,” she said as her hands traced through his locks and across his brow, then when her hand drifted down his nose and across his cheek she added, “but these features here are pure tribe. You have German blood in you.”

“My mother was a Chatti slave,” he admitted. “My father freed her and married her before I was born, making me a Roman citizen.”

“I thought as much,” she said. “About your murder- many would be saddened and troubled by such, but others pleased. They fear you, so they kill you, and thus no longer need to fear you. If you are dead, they feel emboldened- and thus will make mistakes.”

“Makes sense,” Rutilius agreed. “So I need to look at who feared me and why, then compare it to who no longer fears me. Simple- except I know of none who would fear me and plenty who benefit from my continued existence.”

“The man you killed was a Bructeri, from across the river,” she said. “So he had to have help. Claudius Victor has been spending your money, and has been heard to be asking for warriors. It could be that he wanted you dead so that he can take what is yours.”

Rutilius considered it, then rejected it out of hand. “Claudius Victor gave me his word when he accepted the post. To a man like that, honor means more than life. It was not him. I would sooner believe a Roman would want me dead to take my lands and enrich themselves than a Germanic nobleman turning on his word.”

“You would be correct in that assumption,” the woman agreed. “It was not Claudius Victor behind this. The man who damaged your armor, the one you killed, he was a Bructeri as I said, from across the river. Whoever wanted you dead has ties over there, and Claudius Victor has none. But someone wanted it to seem that it was he.”

“In order to cast suspicion from themselves,” Rutilius completed. “So, who knows I live, and who thinks I am dead?”

“Your officers know you live,” the woman replied. “As does your aide Salvius, of course. Tiberius Labeo knows, and has been to see you several times. The legionaries will not let his guards in, or let him wear any weaponry, but he himself may visit under guard. The surgeons know, and do not like that I am treating you instead of them, but your men Milus and Palla will not allow them near you once they heard them speak of bleeding the wound and using leeches. Both men have suffered wounds- they know blood is life. And Claudius Victor. Other than that, only me.”

“And you are?”

“Froydis,” she replied. “Once a wife of Chlovis, son of Garm of the Cugerni, whom I watched die at that awful battle by Vetera, now just another widow seeking a new life in Noviomagus like many others.”

“You have healing skill,” he admitted. “Or I would be dead. Are you a healer by nature, or by necessity?”

“Does it matter? Healers earn no grain,” she replied. “But if you must know, I heal when it is needed. It is a simple matter of observation and thought, really. I am quite good at noticing things. I notice that when bandages are clean, like those I put upon Chlovis after Gelduba, and if the wound has hit nothing vital, it will heal. If the bandage is dirty, the wound gets infected and then comes fever and the man dies. Blood seems important, for those who lose it turn white and then die, while those who do not continue to live. So with your wound, providing nothing vital inside was damaged, you would live if your bandage was kept clean and your blood remained in your body. Simple.”

“You could teach our medici something,” Rutilius admitted. Now that she explained healing in such simple terms, even he could see the wisdom of it. Blood was life. Lose too much, you lose life. Simple and effective. “In my pouch over there is an amber locket. I would like you to have it, as my thanks for your aid.”

Froydis startled, then fished the locket from the pocket and stiffened. She turned to Rutilius, holding the amber egg upon its golden chain.

“I earn my keep through noticing things,” she said. “I find things, too, when I notice something out of the ordinary, which I then sell at the market. I make enough to keep my house warm and my belly fed, but not enough for much more than that.”

She held the large amber egg out to Rutilius and let it fall into his hand. “This, for example, is a lovely gift that shows concern and caring. It suits my features, and my complexion, but you acquired this before you met me, which tells me it was not meant for me. The gold is immaterial other than to say it was costly, while the size of the amber means it is rare. So, a rare and costly gift. Lockets and necklaces of this sort are usually worn by females, so a costly and rare gift for a female. You are in love, Marcus Rutilius, or at least wooing a woman.”

She picked up the stone again, and held it to her cheek. “A woman of fair complexion, who appreciates rare and costly gifts, probably would demand that they be costly. A merchant or businessman’s daughter, perhaps. Merchants and business in contact with a legate of Rome are usually Roman themselves, and fair complexions among them are less frequent. And far less frequent are pretty Roman women with that complexion.”

She paused and looked at him, dropping the stone into his hand and leaving it there.. “Licinia, the daughter of Decimus who was recently trading among the Cananefate, where you were not long ago, is red of hair and fair of complexion. I also hear she is considered very pretty, if a bit tall for a woman.” She looked at the chain on the stone, specifically its length. It was longer than normal. The pieces fit. ”This was meant for Licinia.”

Rutilius nodded. “My colleagues and superiors keep hammering at me to find a woman and make more Rutilii. I have been offered the hands of daughters of Senators, sisters of courtesans, maiden daughters of rich men seeking military glory, and noblewomen seeking pleasure and status. Licinia seems to be the best pick for what I seek- pretty enough to keep my attention, smart enough to handle numbers, literate, and not empty-headed. And she knows this area and likes it, which no Roman noblewoman would dare grace with her presence. She seemed ideal. I was planning on giving that to her when I asked Decimus for her hand, come the spring.”

Froydis nodded. “But you do not love her, do you?”

“No, I do not,” Rutilius admitted. “As a sister or friend maybe, but not as a man should love a woman. I have never known love, except that of my parents as is only natural. I have dallied with many women, some before and many after the revolt, yet cared no more for them than a friend would.”

“You seek a soulmate, not a bedmate,” she deduced. “Such are hard to find, what with the multitude of widows created by the recent war seeking men through lust. I too miss the intimacy of having a man in my bed, but like yourself, I seek more. One day I will find someone as suitable to me as I am to them. Then we can be happy. Until that time, I will look, and notice, and search, and I will find that man who loves me as I will him. This I do know.”

“You seem rather convinced of this,” Rutilius commented.

“Have you not heard of Veleda?” Froydis asked. “She is a vala, a seeress. We Germani have several, but she is the best- nothing she ever said did not come to pass. And she looked into my eyes one day long ago and said, ‘Froydis, it will be a long, arduous, and painful path, but you will one day meet your soul-mate, and know true happiness.’”

She looked at Rutilius with hardened eyes at his rising and obvious disbelief. “She has told me, and is never wrong. Thus yes, Roman with German Blood, I am convinced it shall one day meet this man of mine, and be happy. If she was wrong, then all the pain I have suffered though- the death of my Chlovis, the miscarriages of our two children, the loss of my family and farmstead, the death of my sisters- everything, all would have been for nothing. It cannot be. I must have faith, and strength, and Veleda’s words give me this strength.”

Rutilius raised a weak hand. “I meant no offense,” he said. “I have indeed heard of this seeress. A black haired witch, hateful of Romans, a queen of the Bructeri- of the man who attacked me. I have also heard that she is a prophetess of great power. If she has given you this faith and the strength to heal me, who am I to deny her words?”

The woman relaxed. “Good,” she said. “Now for your soup. It should be cooled enough for you to swallow now.”

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 01-16-2010 @ 07:33 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 11-02-09 04:02 AM EDT (US)     50 / 62       
Ah so he survived getting stabbed four times. He is one lucky guy! Great chapter.

General Rawlinson- This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires on the right?

Brigadier-General Oxley- They are lying out in No Man's Land, sir. And most of them will never stand again.

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
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